All Because of Chickens

Thursday, June 13, 2013

World, Meet Beth

Hey, this is Beth Overmyer, author of the middle grade novella In a Pickle from MuseItUp Publishing. Read on!

Me: I know you’ve been asked many questions, but not this one: What do you hope readers will get out of In a Pickle?

Beth: My main aim in writing this novella was to entertain. Sometimes, people just need to escape. Not to lose themselves, but to find themselves. See a character you identify with? Okay, watch him (or her) and learn from their mistakes. Books can help develop a stronger sense of worldview and morals. Even if you disagree with what characters are doing, see? You’ve just discovered or reaffirmed to yourself where you stand on an issue.

Me: Is Charlie Pickle faced with a moral decision?

Beth: We all are, all the time. Charlie’s dilemma involves not himself, but a friend. What do you do when it’s not your secret to tell or your place to act? Charlie thinks he sees a road around it, but will it backfire? That’s one example of a moral dilemma. But this book doesn’t preach—despite having a whole nunnery’s worth of nuns (mega points to those who count all different Sister Marys.)

Me: Are you Catholic?

Beth: No, protestant.

Me: Did that make writing In a Pickle hard?

Beth: Two words, “research” and “connections.”

Me: What’s on your nightstand?

Beth: On my TBR pile (to-be-read pile) are Becoming Nadia by Cyrus Keith, Leapling by Lisa Forget, The Shadow of the Unicorn by Suzanne de Montigny, A Jane Austen Daydream by Scott D. Southard, and many, many other titles.

Me/Beth: Thank you. This has been most enjoyable.

Prompt for you who were so kind to read to the end: What’s on YOUR nightstand (or to-be-read pile, if you will)?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Introducing Pamela Kelt

Hello, everyone. I’m the author of Ice Trekker, a fantasy story to be released on Muse in September.

I’ve always loved tales of fantasy, whether in books, movies, comics or television.

I never really grew out of them, and shared them with my daughter as she was growing up. I was always at my local library, pouncing on the latest Edge Chronicle or whatever, or rummaging through the boxes of books to be reviewed when I worked in magazines.

Some years ago, I turned my hand to writing myself. I began writing books for adults, but this changed overnight when I was lucky enough to accompany my husband on a work trip to Norway. Guess which part? Tromsø, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. What an adventure. It took three flights to get there. We felt like Polar explorers ourselves.

While Rob worked at the University, I went exploring. Tromsø is a beautiful city, laid out on the island of Tromsøya, surrounded by vast mountains. It has a beautiful Arctic cathedral, the most northerly botanic garden in the world – and a picturesque harbour lined with weatherboard buildings. This is where I started and stumbled the quaint Polar Museum (Polarmuseet).

It told of the wild, woolly adventures of Polar explorers and it was like stepping back into the 1920s, with its dusty glass cases, yellowed labels and sepia photographs. My favourites were the scenes with figures of fur-clad wilderness men sitting in a log cabin. And then there was a type of fairground booth. If you looked inside, there were models of biplanes, zeppelins and hot air balloons they used in desperation to rescue missing expeditions. I’m convinced that Philip Pullman visited the same place before he wrote Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass), the first of his Dark Materials trilogy.

My imagination started to tingle when I came across old sea charts, crammed with all manner of strange sea monsters. And then there models of sailing ships, skiffs and assorted coracles. Painted wooden chests, packed with supplies. Astrolabes, binoculars, sextants …

I began to ponder a story about a fantasy land, where a group of adventurers would race against time to save their country.

It all came together when I visited museum number two, Polaria, a totally different experience, with sleek modern displays all about how precious yet fragile the Polar regions are. The highlight was the aquarium, including the ugliest fish I’d ever laid eyes on – the wolf fish – and suddenly I had the two final elements to the story. An eco-challenge, which I thought had an urgent, modern feel … and monsters! Weird, deadly, scary and gigantic.

So that’s where it all started. Muse signed me up late last year. I’ve since written others YA books, mainly inspired by family holidays. Coming soon to Muse is The Cloud Pearl, the first book of a six-part series, Legends of Liria, is based on the stunning scenery of Montenegro. We plan to visit Mexico later this year. I wonder what ideas will spring from there? I can’t wait.

Here’s a short extract from Ice Trekker to whet your appetite. Midge, a young Grell from Hinderland, has just landed in Krønagar in search of a job on the king’s vessel, but he’s set upon by thieves …

A distant Aurgel squawked and Midge stirred as a sliver of light touched his eyelids. His head felt heavier than a sack of grain and his body was like a block of ice. He was used to the cosy rooms he shared with family above their shop. Hinderland weather wasn’t  warm, but compared to Krønagar, it was positively tropical. After a night in this frozen place, all his body warmth seemed to have bled into the ground. And he was still hungry. And something smelled really, really bad. He sniffed. His nose hairs quivered. His own body odour could fell an ox. He needed a hot bath.

Groaning, he heaved himself to his feet, but stumbled. The ground seemed to be moving. Those Abominaballs were downright nasty, he thought, feeling dizzy, wondering when the foul eel poison would wear off.

A bell clanged. What time was it? Oh, no! A memory clambered back into his brain. The king’s flagship was due to leave at dawn. He shook his head and looked all around him, before stopping short. There was no sign of his pack, the jetty, the harbour, or even the flagship. Just a lot of surging greyness. He rubbed his eyes and refocused. He was on the deck of a small ship. To judge by the movement, he was at sea.

Midge scanned the scene, his gaze still a little fuzzy. He stood aboard a small vessel with two grubby sails and a funny snub-nosed prow. A stack of crates lay on dark, damp timbers alongside the wheelhouse. A cargo boat, he guessed and groaned aloud as the horrible truth sunk in.

Instead of sailing off to adventure on a fine royal clipper, he had been robbed, and was now stuck on a grubby little tub, in the middle of a freezing cold ocean, heading goodness knew where.

In his mind’s eye, Midge pictured the stately Solvestia, its sails crisp as fresh sheets, slicing the waves as it headed north, its harebell blue flag tugging in the breeze. Beyond, the northern mountains stretched upward, their rounded tops dappled like reindeer with the first winter snow...

Midge dropped to the deck, head in his hands, sick with disappointment. Thanks to those Minax, he’d missed out on his once-in-a-lifetime chance. His ship really had sailed.

Krønagar should have a big unfriendly sign at the border reading “DANGER. ENTER AT OWN RISK.”

It probably did have one once, thought Midge darkly, but someone must have nicked it. 

About Pamela:

Pamela used to work in journalism and publishing. She is now the author of six books, including Dark Interlude out in June on Muse, and lives in Warwickshire, England. Her favourite pastimes, apart from writing, are walking her two daft rescue dogs, watching her windowsill orchids grow and keeping up with best fantasy fiction around.

Find about more about Pamela and her books at

Saturday, June 1, 2013

ANIMAL ANDY Perfect for Summer Reading

The weather is finally warm, school is out, and summer has begun! Summer reading is so important to keep kids’ minds fresh, and many public libraries have formal summer reading programs. If you’re looking for a fun, short read for your 7-10 year old, check out ANIMAL ANDY!

Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy’s dad is hopeful it will help boost attendance. Andy’s doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn’t see what’s so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he unlocks the magic that will help save the zoo.

The three words that best describe ANIMAL ANDY are whimsical, imaginative, and compassionate. With lots of action and short chapters, ANIMAL ANDY will appeal to boys, girls, and especially reluctant readers. The ebook is available in all formats from the Muse Bookstore. The print version is available on Amazon.


Andy’s knees wobbled and buckled as he stumbled off the carousel’s platform. He thrust forward, collapsing into a heap on the ground. Shaking his head a few times, he flinched when a snort escaped his mouth.

A flash of turquoise caught his eye. He scrambled up as a skinny-necked bird with short legs and a long, plump body strutted over. It stopped a few inches away and let out an ear-splitting squawk. Only a peacock could make that sound.

“What are you doing over here?” the bird asked. “Are you out of your mind? Don’t you know this is the kind of thing that gets all of us into trouble?”

Andy froze. He was sure the peacock had just spoken to him.

“Well, don’t just sit there, zebra, we need to get you back to the pen,” the bird snapped.

Andy whipped his head from side to side. Nobody was around, and he didn’t see a zebra.

“Did you just talk?”

"Don't get all high and mighty on me," the peacock said. "It's socially acceptable for a peacock to speak to a zebra."

"Why do you keep calling me a zebra?" Andy narrowed his eyes at the bird.

“Well, I don’t see any other escaped animal standing in front of me,” the peacock said.     

Andy lowered his gaze and saw four black and white striped legs beneath him. He craned his neck and saw a thin, black tail swishing behind him. Puzzled, he glanced at the carousel and saw an empty brass pole where the zebra had been.

He stumbled backward. "No, no, no,” he said, shaking his head. "How…it can’t be,” he breathed.

 “There’s just no way. I…I…I’m a zebra!”

Kathy Sattem Rygg is Editor-in-Chief for the children’s publication Knowonder!, and an active member of SCBWI. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Iowa State University and has worked for the McGraw-Hill Companies’ business publications division in New York City. She was also the editor in chief of Women’s Edition magazine in Denver, CO. She currently lives in Omaha, NE, with her husband and two children.

Visit me at:
Facebook: KSR Writer
Twitter: @kathyrygg