Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Interview for Margot Finke and her "Wild and Wonderful" Animal Series

Hello Everyone,
I have the pleasure of interviewing Margot Finke about some of her new books that she has available. Her books can be used in many ways. They can be used to keep children's interest as well as to be used to help supplement with learning in a homeschool or classroom setting. Please check out her books!


I reviewed Prairie Dog’s Play Day which has 3 stories (Prairie Dogs – Bald Eagle Rules – The Stinker). When I received the e-book it was on CD in a nice cover which had a lot of special touches. Believe it or not it is my first time reading a children's e-book. It was easy to use. I sat down with my kids and we put the CD in. The flip book technology was an added touch that made the experience more fun. It sounds just like you are actually turning pages when in fact it is just the mouse or arrow key that turns the page. I thought that Margot did an excellent job combining a memorable rhyme with interesting informatin about each animal. My kids love animals so when we were finished with the book I asked them what they thought. They loved the book. They found it to be very interesting and fun. Gabriel's favorite part was the Prairie dog's and how a few of them stand watch while others hide in tunnels when a predator approaches. Sheldon loved the eagles and how they live in rocks on mountains and also make their nests their to protect it's young. Overall I feel that Margot's books are creatively written and well thought out. She definetly put the time in and the reader can feel her enthusiam about the animals she writes about. The books make great supplements when talking about certain animals in a curriculum to help with learning. Please check out her books. Great Job!

Joining us today is Margot Finke, author of the Wild and Wonderful Series for children. We’re going to talk to Margot about this new series and how parents or teachers can use these animal stories in their homeschool or classroom setting.

Welcome, Margot. It’s great to have you with us.

Thanks for inviting me, Renee. I am thrilled to be “speaking” to all of you.

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.

I am a transplanted Aussie who writes mid grade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. For many years, I have lived in Oregon with my husband and family. Our three children are now grown, and have presented us with four perfect grandchildren – me prejudiced? No way!
Gardening, travel, and reading fill in the cracks between my own writing plus Manuscript Critiques for clients, and helping other writers. My husband is supportive, though not interested in children's books.
I didn't begin serious writing until the day our youngest left for college. This late start drives my writing, and pushes me to work at it every day. I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. "You are my heroes!"

How did your writing career begin?

Aha . . . When we first arrived in the Oregon, our three children were young. I didn’t want them to forget their Aussie heritage, so I put pictures in their rooms of all the weird and wonderful Australian animals. Then, every night they got to choose a critter, and I would make up a story about it – right off the top of my head.Later, as a teacher’s aid, I told classes about Australia and their wonderful animals – off the top of my head stories followed. One day in class, a hand went up. “Mrs. Finke, that ending’s different from last time.”

“For goodness sake write the stories down,” grumbled my teacher friend. “That way you’ll remember all the endings!”

So, I did. And the rest, as they say, is “picture books!”

Tell us about your Wild and Wonderful Series and how it can be used for homeschoolers in the classroom?

My “Wild and Wonderful” series is made up of seven rhyming picture books that tell fun facts about animals from the US and Australia. Like Mary Poppin’s song, “A little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down.” The medicine in this case, being facts about different critters. And the sugar of course, is the fun rhymes that make these facts stick in a child’s head. A fun lesson is a lesson well learned: and I sprinkled facts about these critters into each verse. After children read my “Humdinger Hummers” for instance, every time they see a hummingbird, they’ll remember that it is the hummer’s long tongue that slurps up the flower nectar – not the beak. Plus, they eat bugs and gnats for protein, and that they are feisty and territorial to the max!

Parents and teachers can also take children to either my Wild US Critters or Down-Under Fun. Both pages offer extra information about the animals in my books, + links to other great critter sites. Look for “Nutty Notes.”

Readers also have a chance to get links or CD’s of you reading the books. Tell us more about that.

BUY ANY autographed book from my Website, either CD - or soft cover, and you will also receive a link to a FREE AUDIO of me reading that story. The audio includes the illustrations but not the text.

“Wild & Wonderful” series is also available from:
* Fictionwise:
* Reader’s Eden:
and many other places. See links above.

Tell us about the other books that you have written.

“Rattlesnake Jam” was written with boys in mind – I remembered the hard time I had getting my son to read. This PB is a fun romp with Gran, Pa, and pot full of yucky green rattler jam. Pa catches them, but will Gran ever make him the rattlesnake pie he craves? And check out Gran’s Kitchen - - (if you dare!) Genuine rattler recipes: guaranteed to make Mom faint!


“Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind” - from G.A.P. Ruthie and her family move far from their old home. The move gives Ruthie a change of personality, as well as a new address. Ruthie's horrible moods drive her parents crazy. They grow big and ugly, like some Hippo’s Fat Behind! * Included is a parent/teacher guide + a coloring sheet.

“Horato Humble Beats the Big “D” from G.A.P.
Horatio hates English class. He is smart at everything else, but when he tries to read, the letters won't stay in the words - they slide everywhere. The words,"Teacher Conference," and "Special Class," fill Horatio with dread. * Includes coloring sheet and parent/teacher guide.

“Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble” - from G.A.P.Taconi, an aboriginal boy, lives on Coorparoo Cattle Station with his dad, the Station Cookie. He has a foot in two worlds, and his only friend is Claude, a sulfur crested cockatoo, with a big mouth, and a fund of wacky one- liners. A mini walkabout to catch bush meat that might save his dad's job, plus a disaster at the homestead, makes Taconi into a hero of sorts. Yet he is torn between helping his dad with a life on Coorparoo Station, or the call of his tribe and the Dreamtime Spirits, and the magic of the elusive kingfisher feather.
A visit from Dreamtime spirits guides Taconi into making the right choice. And of Claude is there for the fun, drama, to offer advice, and poke his beak into everything.
More details about all three upcoming books plus “Rattlesnake Jam” are available here:

When I received the CD of Prairie Dog’s Playday, it came in a nice paper CD cover with a picture of the book, a sample rhyming verse and other information. Is that special touch something you did or your publisher?

Clever of you to notice. Yes, that was my idea. The publisher is in Australia, and postage from there is way too expensive. So we have a deal, whereby I make the CDs of the series for the US market, and they take care of the world-wide downloads. We know each other well, and it has worked out nicely for both of us.

For homeschool parents, such as myself, we are always looking for the best curriculums, workbooks, supplements and subjects to best teach our children. What makes your Wild and Wonderful Series stand out from the rest?

I guess it is the catchy rhymes that sneak in lots of fun information, + new technology that HOOKS kid’s interest, and simply wonderful illustrations – I love every one of them.
The Internet is a marvelous thing. Two of my illustrators live in Turkey. Both have artwork in European galleries, and illustrate books. I found them both due to an online writing list on the Internet. One illustrator had no computer, and spoke no English: yet the delightful illustrations he did for“Kangaroo Clues” became the perfect companions for my verses. Go to My Illustrators, and read the HOW of it:

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Manuscript Critiques - Writing Help – My Books – “Musings”* Musical book trailer for “Rattlesnake Jam” and SLIDE-SHOWS of ALL my book covers and some illustrations
* Margot’s Books for Kids and Writing News:
Musical Book Trailer – Slide of all book covers and illustrations.

Where can readers purchase your books and how much do they cost?

“Wild and Wonderful” - animal series - fun facts in rhyme.
*Autographed CD from my website- - $9.95 ea.
Included: a FREE AUDIO link of me reading the story.

* Downloaded e-Book - - approx $4.00 ea – check for discounts.
Fictionwise : Readers Eden:

and many other download sites.

“Rattlesnake Jam” - rhyming PB – boy and reluctant reader friendly.

* Autographed Soft Cover book from my Website: $10.95 ea
Included: a FREE AUDIO link of me reading the story.

OR - Soft Cover from:
Amazon :
Barnes and Noble: Target:

* Downloads - approx $5.00ea – check for discounts.
Fictionwise and many other sites
Publisher (GAP) - soft cover, CD, or E-Book download.

What's next for you? Is there anything else that you are involved in?

Hmmm, let me see. . . I am ghost writing a book for a client, while trying to keep up with a flood of Manuscript Critiques. There’s another Aussie Outback Boy’s Adventure that a publisher is interested in, and I must find the time to polish that. And, the garden is full of weeds and desperately needs watering. . . Yikes!! This is where my husband shines. He mostly cooks and takes care of the garden. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do windows or laundry! Guess no one is perfect!
However, all the above flies out the window when my two mischief’s granddaughters come to play. The antics of these two might be food for future picture book thoughts, but while the munchkins are with me, I let go completely. My husband is fond of telling everyone that our grandkids have more hope of growing up than me – his wife. YEA!!

Is there anything else that you would like to add or share?

No Renee, your questions gave me quite a mental workout. Thank you very much for this chance to meet your readers. I had fun. If anyone wants to contact me about my books, writing, or anything else, I am always happy to chat. Visit with me here:

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our readers today. Good luck in all of your future endeavors. Please check out this series as well as the other books by Margot Finke.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Writer's Showcase Stories

This week I am showcasing two very talented writers on my websites Writer's Showcase page, named Ben who is 10 and Sam who is 8. These two wonderful boys attended the Ligon Writers Workshop that I helped with last week. All of the class had to write about nature and the environment while incorporating two random items that I gave them. The class came up with some wonderfully creative stories. I hope everyone enjoys them. If anyone else has a story to share, please send it to me and I will place it on my websites and blogs. Also remember my Youth Writer's Contest. More information about the contest is on this blog and on my website at

Ben’s Story:

One strange day, on a simple stroll, I saw the biggest toad ever in front of me. I picked it up, and for no good reason, it burped! Then it jumped out of my hand. I tried to get it back, but he hopped into the bushes. "I feel the ground shaking" I said. Suddenly, lobsters came from nowhere and took my shoes! "I'm gonna turn you into a seafood special!" I roared as I chased them into the forest.
"Oh my gosh!" I screamed. I knew why they took my shoes. They were using junk to build a habitat! Tires, chairs and even a car! The lobsters used everything. This taught me a big lesson. Never pollute.

Sam's Story:

It was hot while we were walking. We saw a snake hole. We thought there was a snake already in there, but there wasn't. Freaky. What if a snake came out? It would be black.
The first leaf I see is greenish yellow. The second is mostly yellow. The pine needle is sharp and it is short to me. The flower is long and yellow and the leaves look prickly.
I went into the dark woods and saw a red pine tree. It was pokey. I was with Steven and we found an acorn. That is what we will look for tomorrow too. Tomorrow, we are having a pizza party. Isn't that cool? I like my teacher and I like the sites, that is the best part.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Case of the Missing Sock is reviewed

Hello everyone,
The Case of the Missing Sock, book 1 of my series, was reviewed by Genna and Kim Chatel and is currently posted on the following link.

Kim has got a great website with lots of activities so check it out at
Below is also a recipe that Morris, the computer genius of my Crypto-Caper team, likes to enjoy. Let me know what you think. It is on the following link.

I look forward to hearing from everyone!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Upcoming Book Signing Event and Youth Writers Contest

I am going to be at Barnes and Nobles in Ann Arbor Michigan on Saturday August 22nd at 2:00pm to discuss and sign my children's series, The Crypto-Capers Series. Book 1: The Case of the Missing Sock and Book 2: The Case of Red Rock Canyon. I am also going to be doing some fun things for this event. Below is the information.

If you had your choice, would you prefer an antique sock that purportedly belonged to Elvis Presley’s grandmother or a pair of diamond-studded, gold and onyx designer sunglasses? Maxwell Sherlock Holmes, age fourteen, and his sister Mia, age twelve, live in London, England. Their mother and father are ace detectives with Scotland Yard, and the brother and sister seem to have inherited their parents' abilities to solve crimes. Therefore, with their Granny, Nellie Holmes, and Max's fourteen-year-old friend Morris Weedlesom, a computer whiz, they have formed the Crypto-Capers and unravel mysteries by traveling all around the world solving cryptograms that criminals leave behind.
What you have is the makings of a new children’s series known as The Crypto-Capers Series written by award winning author Renee Hand. This new series has captured children’s attention from all over the world. An instant classic, the author weaves an interactive tale that the reader participates in, in order to solve the case. Book one of the series The Case of the Missing Sock is based in Florida and sets the stage for what must be done in the series, laying out specific details for easy understanding. Throughout the series, the reader will need to solve cryptograms and puzzles, as well as to participate in various activities along with the detectives. Each book in the series becomes harder and more challenging for the reader, making the series more interesting. Book two of the series The Case of Red Rock Canyon leads the team to Las Vegas, Nevada, where they are thrown into the dramatic world of theater to solve their next mystery. This series will not only grab the attention of the advanced reader, but of the reluctant reader as well because the reader is participating into the story instead of just reading it.
Author Renee Hand will be at Barnes and Nobles in Ann Arbor at 2:00pm on Saturday August 22nd to discuss and sign her new series as well as to sponsor a mystery hunt in the store where participants can win prizes. Author is also hosting a Young Authors Writing contest where writers will have a chance to win various prizes as well as receive various opportunities for their efforts. Stories can be turned in to the author at the book signing. Information about the writing contest is below.

Award-winning author, Renee Hand , will be sponsoring a Youth Writers Contest. This is a chance for writers of various ages to really show their creativity and writing abilities to the world. Being a great writer is to be able to adapt to any situation. Each contestant must write two stories. The first story will be writer’s choice. It can be any topic and setting of writer’s choosing. The second story will be an assigned topic of author’s choice. For a list of topics contestants must look at author’s website at and click on Youth Writers Contest. The winner will be chosen based off of the ability to create two wonderful and imaginative stories.
Rules and Requirements:
Writing cannot consist of extreme violence or anything vulgar or will be immediately disqualified. There will be two age groups: 8-12 and 13-18. The word length for the 8-12 age groups will be between 500-1,000 words. For the 13-18 age groups word length will be between 1,000-1,500 words. Story must be double spaced and typed. Writers name should not be anywhere on the entry. Cover page should have title on it only. Next page should begin story. A separate page should consist of writer’s name, age, e-mail, phone number, address and word count. Contest will start on August 1st and end on August 31st. A panel of writing and reading professionals will pick winning entries. Entries must be sent through the mail and sent to:
Youth Writer’s Contest
P.O. Box 144
Byron, MI 48418

There will be first place winners and honorable mentions. Winners and honorable mentions will receive various prizes and opportunities from the sponsor and co-sponsors. Thank you to everyone for participating and good luck!

Come and join the Crypto-Capers on their adventure of self discovery and courage. Help them by solving the cryptograms and participating in the various activities. They are not for the faint of heart, but for the bravest and most confident of souls. Can you do it? The Crypto-Capers are counting on you. Good luck!