‘Story Magic’ by Laurel Gale | Author Q & A

‘Listeners, I have a story that may interest you…’

Kaya speaks these words in Story Magic. Despite her village preventing girls from casting, Kaya indeed gets it done! When her brother goes missing, Kaya relies on quick thinking as she travels through unfamiliar land. With the help of stories, of course!

Today I’m here with Laurel Gale, the author of Story Magic. She shares her writing process, as well as the awesome gift of writing strong, magical female characters! You’ll certainly be excited to pick up your copy!

‘Story Magic’ Book Information

Story Magic by Laurel Gale. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1581012277l/51136406._SX318_SY475_.jpg

Story Magic by Laurel Gale
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Release Date: October 27, 2020

Synopsis

Girls are forbidden to practice story magic. Only bad things happen when they do. Everyone knows this, but that doesn’t stop twelve-year-old Kaya A’Dor from learning the basics from her older brother Hob. The trick is to sense a listener, one of the magical beings that inhabit the world, and tell it a story. If the listener likes the story, it will allow the storyteller to work magic.

Although Kaya knows the risks, she attempts a little story magic to impress Hob. When Hob is taken prisoner in Prima, the faraway capital city, Kaya is convinced it’s her fault. Either because someone discovered what she was doing, or because the bad luck has found her.

Desperate to save her brother, Kaya will do anything to make it to Prima, including story magic. With each story she tells her ability to wield story magic grows. She soon begins to wonder if her brother’s imprisonment was really her fault or something else entirely. Thus, each story brings her one step closer to finding Hob and leaving everything she’s ever known behind.

‘Story Magic’ Author Info

Story Magic, Laurel Gale author photo. Link: https://www.laurelgale.com/p/about-me.html
Photo by Tal Miles

Laurel Gale writes books for children. Her middle grade novels include Dead Boy and Story Magic. She lives with her husband and their ferrets in Washington. In addition to writing, she enjoying hiking, playing board games, and reading. She loves animals and is easily distracted by squirrels.
Visit Laurel online through her Website or Twitter.

Website | Twitter

Author Q & A

1. Cathleen: How are you and your family during this time? I think we’re all ready for 2020 to end!

Laurel Gale: Thanks for asking! We’re doing well, but yes, we’re ready for 2020 to end.

2. C: Congratulations on the release of Story Magic! It’s such a heartfelt story!

LG: Aww, thanks! I’m super excited to share this book with everyone.

3. C: How did your love for writing begin?

LG: It’s hard to say because I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember! It started with poems and short stories when I was a kid. I’ve always loved to read, and I’ve always found that writing is the most natural way for me to express my ideas. I’m happiest when I’m writing something.

4. C: What inspired you to create ‘Story Magic’?

LG: Story Magic started with the magic system. I was talking to my husband and how magic systems are used in fiction, and this sparked an idea for a magic system based on storytelling. From there, I came up with the main character and the listeners, and the rest followed.

5. C: Kaya is truly fearless in her use of magical storytelling. What made you create such an empowering character?

LG: Kaya is very brave, but at the same time, she does experience quite a bit of fear. I think that’s what makes her empowering – she pushes past her fear to do what’s right. That’s certainly something I aspire to.

'Story Magic', Jolly Fish Press Promo photo.

6. C: While searching for her brother, Kaya faces many harsh truths in society. She goes through many growing pains!

LG: She starts off being a bit naïve, but she learns so much on her journey. This can be hard for her, but she finds her inner strength and grows. I think this is something a lot of middle grade readers can relate to. Even if they’re not going on magical adventures, they are learning more about the world at that age.

7. C: I love how Kaya sticks to her intuition throughout the book. Is she created after a particular figure in your life?

LG: I didn’t base Kaya on any particular person. I wanted to make her a realistic twelve-year-old who has a lot of doubts and sometimes messes up, but who is also very strong and tries to do the right thing.

8. C: Themes such as girl power and fighting intolerance are strong in ‘Story Magic’. Have you always wanted to carry this message in your writing?

LG: In Story Magic, only members of the Story Magicians Guild are allowed to practice story magic, and girls are never allowed to join the guild. This is a way for the guild to control who has power. I don’t think I could have done this concept justice without exploring themes of girl power and tolerance.

When I write a book, my main goal is to tell an entertaining story, but I think the message matters, too. Kindness, fairness, courage, and tolerance are important themes in my writing because those are important ideas in life.

9. C: Which authors inspire your work? It can be Middle Grade, YA, etc.

LG: There are so many amazing writers out there, and I think it’s important for writers to read widely.

When I was kid, I was obsessed with Christopher Pike books, and I think that’s where I really developed my taste for speculative fiction. Neil Gaiman has also been an inspiration.

10: C: What advice do you have for those starting their writing career?

LG: Persistence is key. I think a lot of new writers feel like they have to get published immediately, but it’s not a race. I spent a few years and wrote several manuscripts before I got my first book deal, and looking back, I’m glad those early manuscripts were never published. I still trunk manuscripts occasionally.

It takes time to learn the craft of writing, and not everything you try will work. Just keep pushing yourself to be better, and if you really want to make a career out of writing, focus on your long-term goals.

Also, please don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time on something just because you never publish it. As long as you’re learning and improving, you’re not wasting your time. You wouldn’t expect a musician to start performing concerts immediately! It takes practice to master any skill that’s worthwhile, and that’s normal.

Thank you, Laurel, for your time! ‘Story Magic’ is certainly thrilling! It’s available today, so get your copy! You won’t be disappointed!

Contact Cathleen!

Non-Fiction Stories | Waiting on Wednesday

Sometimes Non-Fiction stories are my go-to reads! Whether you wish to learn about current events or self-help material, these books are available! For this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, I came across a moving book relevant to these challenging times!

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme that first originated with Jill at Breaking the Spine. It has now linked up with Tressa at Wishful Endings (under Can’t Wait Wednesday). You can view Tressa’s post here.

This Week’s Non-Fiction Pick

Moving Non-Fiction Alone Together: Love, Grief and Comfort in the Time of COVID 19; Edited by Jennifer Haupt Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1592453456l/53342241.jpg

Alone Together: Love, Grief and Comfort In the Time of COVID 19; Edited by Jennifer Haupt

Alone Together is both thorough and emotional! Despite the difficult situation of the pandemic, poets and writers create a beautiful compilation. It details the challenges Americans face, as well as the strength communities hold when reaching out.

Synopsis

ALONE TOGETHER: Love, Grief, and Comfort During the Time of COVID-19 is a collection of essays, poems, and interviews. It serves as a lifeline for negotiating how to connect and thrive during this stressful time of isolation. It also provides historical perspective that will remain relevant for years to come. All contributing authors and business partners are donating their share to The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling community.

Furthermore, ALONE TOGETHER is divided into five sections: What Now?, Grieve, Comfort, Connect, And Don’t Stop. The overarching theme is how this age of isolation and uncertainty is changing us as individuals and a society.

Finally, Let’s Chat About Non-Fiction!

Do you like reading Non-Fiction? If so, what books are you waiting for release?

Feel free to Contact Me!

First Lines Friday | August 21

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? You can view Wandering Words’ post here.

If you want to make your own post, feel free to use or edit the banner above and follow the rules below:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
First Lines Fridays
Purple Fern Leaf

FIRST LINES:

I was a libertine in the
ante-room of love,
some remember black (earth?)
UnManageAble crux of femme
I dared myself to mark
something on papayri
hunk of flesh, salt meat, words…

Any guesses?

First Lines Friday; Zac Braff waving his arms in the air. 'No Idea' is in captions.
The Riot Grrrl Thing by Sara Larsen. A goddess is playing electric guitar.

The Riot Grrrl Thing by Sara Larsen

Book Blurb

Poetry. California Interest. Gender Studies. “To read THE RIOT GRRRL THING is to participate in what is, and can only be, the Riot Grrrl Thing–a condition of vivacious unlimiting. The brilliant Sara Larsen knows that thing firsthand; I can only know it imaginatively, linguistically, and in awed recognition of its exuberant, and it would seem ancient, power. Sappho did the Riot Grrrl Thing and she was not the first, nor will Kathleen Hanna or Janis Joplin or Kathy Acker be the last. Every bad-assed magnificent spirit refusing to serve as amusement or servant does the Riot Grrrl Thing as she rambunctiously plies incessant skepticism and supplies wild altruism. Larsen’s book is pissed off, playful, excessive, erudite, and free. Read it and feel the whole of it.”–Lyn Hejinian,

More First Lines

Want more? Check out last week’s First Lines Friday if you missed out!

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Folklore Book Tag

It’s Thursday, so you know what that means…Book Tag Time!

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Today I’m happily taking part in the Folklore Book Tag. Thank you to Star @ Star Is All Booked Up for tagging me!

The 1: A Book You Grew Out Of

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I got swept up in the Grishaverse a couple years ago. While I still appreciate the Grisha trilogy, I’m not as enthused as I was once was!

Cardigan: a book you keep coming back to

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi 
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Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

I have many fond memories of Reading Lolita in Tehran! This takes me back to my days living in New York City several years ago.

The Last Great American Dynasty: A book where everything goes wrong

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1528312647l/8908._SX318_.jpg

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

This story had every possible worst case scenario in play!

Exile: An ending you didn’t like

The Stand by Stephen King
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1213131305l/149267.jpg

The Stand by Stephen King

I enjoyed this story, but that ending…why???

My Tears Ricochet: Broke Your Heart

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1525714353l/39863498.jpg

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Oh my, that ending…yanked at my heartstrings!

Mirrorball: A book that speaks to your soul

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1580255154l/40597810._SY475_.jpg

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I flowed with this story so much! This was a rock documentary I never wanted to end!

Seven: Characters you want to take home and protect

Eve Brown. She seems like such a free spirit! can’t wait to read her story next year!

August: Summer Love

Crier's War by Nina Varela
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1553803423l/41951626._SY475_.jpg

Crier’s War: Crier and Ayla

This bond is so complicated and beautiful!

This Is Me Trying: Mental Illness Rep

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1405084743l/22032788.jpg

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

This is a riveting story about two girls at a crossroads, and a teacher who stops at nothing to guide them through.

Illicit Affairs: Forbidden Romance

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
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The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

The story about a demon who’s entwined with the Mayfair witches throughout the generations

Invisible String: Soulmates

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1553318108l/43884209.jpg

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (Chloe Brown & Red Morgan)

Chloe and Red are made for each other!

Mad Woman: Vengeful Woman

GIrls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1518109125l/34433755.jpg

Girls of Paper & Fire (Lei)

Lei is out for revenge, and nothing will stop her!

Epiphany: A Loss You’re Not Over

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1507842161l/36327121.jpg

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

There was a death in the Oyster Thief that was so heartbreaking. It was such a journey!

Betty: Love Triangle, F/F Romance

A Blade so Black by LL. McKinney
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1524085521l/36952594.jpg

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

This series is filled with a thrilling F/F romance!

Peace: Found Family

I would go with The Gilded Wolves again. This is such a solid group!

Hoax: Character That Fooled You

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1539378101l/36118682.jpg

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (Malachiasz)

He was a definite trickster!

Those are the questions for this tag! I hope you enjoyed reading my responses!

Feel free to take part in this tag!

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Book Blogger Hop | August 10

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly meme hosted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer, in which you answer a book related prompt. The Book Blogger Hop, helps you discover fellow contributors to check out and follow! You can view Coffee Addicted Writer’s post here.

This Week’s Question

Do you read books by diverse authors or books with diverse characters (such as LGBT, ethnic minorities, religious minorities, etc)? If yes, do you have any book recommendations? (submitted by Kristin @ Lukten av Trykksverte)

My book recommendations:

LGBT:

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Religion\Faith:

Something Dark & Holy series by Emily A. Duncan

Latinx Representation

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Lobizona by Romina Garber

Black Representation

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Minion by L.A. Banks

What are your favorite stories by diverse authors? Are there other stories you would like to add to this list? Feel free to share!

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My Life In Books Book Tag

Hi everyone!

Today I’m doing the My Life In Books Book Tag. Thank you so much to Cielo @ Bellerose Reads for tagging me. Feel free to check out her blog for some amazing content!

1. Find a book for each of your initials

C – Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
A – A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
T – Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
H – Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
L – Lobizona by Romina Garber
E – Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
E – Eva’s Treetop Adventure by Rebecca Elliott
N – No Exit by Taylor Adams

2. Count your age along your bookshelf

42 – The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali

3. Pick a Book Set in Your City/Country

The Riot Grrrl Thing by Sara Larsen (United States: set between my home state in New Jersey & Pennsylvania)

4. Pick a book that represents a destination you’d love to travel to

CIty of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab – I want to visit Scotland one of these days!

5. Pick a book that has your favorite color on it

These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1541163363l/36484081._SY475_.jpg

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling – Purple is my fave!

6. Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1490354970l/20971474._SX318_.jpg

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman – I read this story a few years ago, while working at a local private school. It’s such a heartwarming book!

7. Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon. Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1561765554l/46161125.jpg

Starfish Pier by Irene Hannon – This story had very slow pacing. I was so glad when I finally finished reading it!

8. Which book on your TBR pile will give you the most achievement when you finish it?

The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler
Link: https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1532437738l/40641080.jpg

The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler – I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for a year. It’s a big one, so I’ll be happy when I finally get to it/finish it!

Tagging

Corina @ The Brown Eyed Bookworm
Karen @ Twisted in Pages
Tessa @ Tessa Talks Books

Those are my answers! Do you have any similar books in common? Let me know in the comments!

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Waiting on Wednesday | August 5

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly meme that first originated with Jill at Breaking the Spine. It has now linked up with Tressa at Wishful Endings (under Can’t Wait Wednesday). You can view Tressa’s post here.

This Week’s Post

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
Release Date: August 11

Synopsis

This gorgeously imagined YA debut blends shades of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust and a breathtaking landscape of Hindu mythology into a radiant contemporary fantasy.

The daughter of a star and a mortal, Sheetal is used to keeping secrets. Pretending to be “normal.” But when an accidental flare of her starfire puts her human father in the hospital, Sheetal needs a full star’s help to heal him. A star like her mother, who returned to the sky long ago.

Sheetal’s quest to save her father will take her to a celestial court of shining wonders and dark shadows, where she must take the stage as her family’s champion in a competition to decide the next ruling house of the heavens–and win, or risk never returning to Earth at all.

Brimming with celestial intrigue, this sparkling YA debut is perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi and Laini Taylor.

Are you excited about Star Daughter like I am? I’m really looking forward to reading this story!


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Book Review | ‘Tank’s Forever Home’ by Carol Kim

Tank bull mastiff sleeps with teddy bear on blue couch

Tank’s Forever Home by Carol Kim, Illustrated by Courtney Godbey
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Length: 48 pages
Publisher: Jolly Fish Press
Release Date: September 1, 2020


Synopsis

Tank is a bullmastiff named for his great size. At least, that was the name Shawn and Kat gave the gentle giant after they found him behind the bookstore. The kids convince their parents to let them foster the stray while animal rescue looks for his owner. Meanwhile, Shawn and Kat try to figure out how such a loving dog could come to be lost. What will happen to Tank if Shawn and Kat can’t help him find his forever home? Doggie Daycare is open for business. Join siblings Shawn (9) and Kat (7) Choi as they start their own pet-sitting service out of their San Francisco home. Every dog they meet has its own special personality sending them on fun (and furry) adventures all over the city!


My Thoughts

*I received ‘Tank’s Forever Home’ through NetGalley and Jolly Fish Press, in exchange for an honest review*

I really needed this adorable book in my life!

Tank’s Forever Home follows siblings Kat and Shawn find a loving home for a bull mastiff. They help out in a Doggy Daycare center in their community, and it takes little time in discovering a safe place for Tank to spend while waiting for a loving owner to enter his life.

This book gave me warm, fuzzy feelings from beginning to end! This story teaches the value of community helpers doing good for animal safety. It also has rich images, providing children with accurate visual cues to accompany the text. This tale also has Reading Comprehension questions at the back, providing more learning opportunities for young children at home.

Whether you are reading Tanks’s Forever Home with your children for enjoyment, or using it as a Community Helpers activity, this book is very valuable for children of all ages!


Do you think you’ll put Tank’s Forever Home in your TBR? Feel free to share in the comments!



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Top 10 Tuesday | Aug 4

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. You can find the themes/dates for Top 10 Tuesday here.

This Week’s Question

Top 10 Books in my To-Read List With Colors in the Titles

While searching through my list, I was surprised that I had very little stories with a color in the title! This was fun to search through!

  1. Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige
  2. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gillman
  3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
  4. Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene
  5. Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
  6. The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
  7. Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
  8. Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  9. Coral by Sara Ella
  10. The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

I can’t wait to see your ‘colorful’ stories!



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Manic Monday: What I’m Reading | Aug 3

Happy Monday everyone! I’m taking part in Manic Monday, a weekly meme hosted by Bianca @ Always Bring Books.


Animated gif of a amiling coffee cup, with the word 'Monday' written on top. Link: https://i2.wp.com/media.giphy.com/media/xUNd9PPt42S2BA4RtC/giphy.gif?resize=326%2C326&ssl=1

I hope everyone’s week is starting well. My Monday morning consisted of me baking Zucchini Bread. I’m really putting my baking skills to use during these ‘Indoor Days’!

A loaf of zucchini bread, in a metal tin. Sitting one a wooded table.
Manic Monday
Purple Leaf
Link: PurpleLeaf.jpg

Manic Monday: What I’m Reading

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Alone Together: Love, Grief and Comfort In the Time of COVID-19 by Jennifer Haupt
ALONE TOGETHER: Love, Grief, and Comfort During the Time of COVID-19 is a collection of essays, poems, and interviews to serve as a lifeline for negotiating how to connect and thrive during this stressful time of isolation as well as a historical perspective that will remain relevant for years to come. All contributing authors and business partners are donating their share to The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization that coordinates charitable programs to strengthen the bookselling community.

The roster of diverse voices includes Faith Adiele, Kwame Alexander, Jenna Blum, Andre Dubus III, Jamie Ford, Nikki Giovanni, Pam Houston, Jean Kwok, Major Jackson, Devi S. Laskar, Caroline Leavitt, Ada Limón, Dani Shapiro, David Sheff, Garth Stein, Luis Alberto Urrea, Steve Yarbrough, and Lidia Yuknavitch.

ALONE TOGETHER is divided into five sections: What Now?, Grieve, Comfort, Connect, And Don’t Stop. The overarching theme is how this age of isolation and uncertainty is changing us as individuals and a society.

I received Alone Together through NetGalley and Central Avenue Publishing. This anthology addresses the Covid-19 pandemic through many voices in the artistic world.

What are you reading today?


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