Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown and Racism ... a year later

In honor of Thanksgiving I thought I would link to the post I wrote a year ago about Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown and racism. Coming off such a crazy election season, with accusations of racism, bigotry, xenophobia, homophobia, and so many other phobias and isms filling our daily news cycle, I looked at this blog post and realized it is still pretty relevant, perhaps more so this year than last.

The election was stressful for many, and politics is probably a subject that should be avoided at many a Thanksgiving dinner this year, especially if a sufficient amount of wine is consumed. So my Thanksgiving wish is for people to assume the best in each other, instead of jumping to the worst of conclusions about people with whom they disagree. I try to teach my kids to do this--life's just easier that way.

And what does this have to do with Charlie Brown? Well, read the blog post and then ask yourself what should people see when they watch the cartoon clip?  In the end, no one can know what the animators were thinking or what their intentions were nearly 50 years ago. Why assume the worst? Why not focus on the good in the story - the debut of the first African-American Peanuts character?

Or even better, how about not thinking about race at all, and just enjoy the story of Good Ol' Charlie Brown trying to please a demanding Peppermint Patty with a Thanksgiving dinner filled with toast, popcorn and jellybeans? I might enjoy that more than turkey anyway.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Writing, Publishing and Fur Babies ... Oh my!

Here is a link to my second Author Interview of all time! Mercedes Fox is an author whose website has a section dedicated to author interviews, and I am happy to say that she interviewed me! Please take a look as I answer questions regarding my thoughts on the writing and publishing process, discuss my fur babies and talk about Kibblestan. She even features a picture of Speckles, my inspiration for Philecia's character. Hopefully Speckles won't let the fame get to her head. :) Enjoy!  https://mercedesfoxbooks.com/meet-author-andrea-rand/

Friday, November 11, 2016

Kinzie, Kibblestan and American Sniper

When you're writing a novel it's important to know your characters inside and out, including their backstory. In writing my second book, The Chronicles of Kibblestan: Canines, I really struggled. I had a good story -- a dog that's gone missing in a Kibblestan that has drastically changed since the first book in the series. Kibblestan is no longer a happy place, there's something sinister about the canines, and my eleven-year-old heroine, Kinzie, is determined to find her missing dog, no matter what the cost. But for some reason there was a disconnect. While Kinzie's actions and story flowed onto the page, her heart and soul stayed just beyond reach. I couldn't figure out her backstory and the writing showed.

Then I went and saw the movie American Sniper, and Kinzie's backstory hit me hard. I came home that day, went straight to my computer and typed out that first chapter like it was nothing.

I recently attended a Veterans Day event at my son's school, and my heart twisted when the speaker asked the kids to raise their hands if they had a parent in the military and close to a hundred kids raised their hands. They sacrifice, too, and I hope that my book can play a small part in showing my appreciation to our military families.

In honor of Veterans' Day, I'd like to share an excerpt:

“Dad?” Kinzie said. “Do you really have to go again? Can’t you get out of it somehow and stay here where it’s safe? With me? Please?”

Dad squeezed Kinzie’s hand. “I’m sorry, punkin. I’ve got to go. I’m a soldier. It’s what I do.”

“But I’m going to miss you so much.” Kinzie blinked back tears. “And Ria will, too.”

Dad squeezed her hand harder. “I know. It’s going to be rough. But you’ll be moving into that new house with your mom and Nate. It’ll be exciting.”

Exciting? Yeah, right. New house, new school, new stepdad and stepsiblings. Even Mo was gaining two new step dogs.

“And we’ll video chat as much as we can. Time’ll fly. Before you know it, I’ll be back.” Dad smiled but Kinzie knew better. This wasn’t like the last time he left, when she was too young to fully understand. This time she did understand, a little too much. She understood that sometimes, soldiers don’t come back, and this knowledge was like an icicle lodged deep in her heart that refused to melt.
Kinzie sat up and reached for her father, hugging him around his neck while she wept on his shoulder.

“I don’t want you to go, Dad. Why do you have to go? Why? Why can’t it be someone else’s mom or dad? Why does it have to be you?”

Dad returned Kinzie’s embrace, gently patting her back. “There, there, punkin. It’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.”

Kinzie lifted her head and stared into Dad’s eyes. “But what if it’s not? What if you don’t come back?”

Dad took a finger and wiped the tears from Kinzie’s face. “Look. A wise man once said that the only way for evil to win, is for good people to do nothing. And unfortunately, there’s evil in the world. Lots of it. And to keep it from spreading, to keep our own country and freedoms protected, well, the good guys can’t do nothing. Understand?”

Slowly, Kinzie nodded. Dad pulled her close and she leaned her head on his shoulder. “Sweetie, America may not be perfect, but make no mistake—we’re the good guys. And when evil’s a threat, we can’t just sit back and do nothing.”

To read the entire chapter click here for Amazon's Look Inside feature. 

For other patriotic children's books, including a special book for the younger set called "Veterans: Heroes in Our Neighborhood" visit conservativechildrensbooks.com.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Chronicles of Kibblestan: Canines

Oh my, oh my.  It has been a busy fall! At long last the second book in my Kibblestan series is available in paperback. Yay!  If you have read my first book, Revolution, you will surely enjoy this second installment in the series featuring characters that are familiar and some that are new, and some canines that are ... well ... Let's just say they would definitely flunk obedience school. I have dedicated this story to the members of the United States military and their families, for I think any military family will appreciate the themes in this book. For more information or to order, click here.

E-book will follow, and my grand plan will be to get these books made into audiobooks as well, but I'm not yet sure when that will happen.

November 1st is National Novel Writing Month and I have signed up to meet the challenge of writing 50K words in one month. Considering this month also has Thanksgiving in it, it will not be easy, but my goal is to have book # 3 out at this time next year, so what better way to incentivize myself to get through this first draft but by signing up for Nanowrimo!  Other than that, life is busy but good. I tend to update my Facebook page more often than this blog, so you should follow me on Facebook if you'd like hear more from me!