Monday, October 8, 2012

Meet Kai Strand

 I recently took part in an author fair at the Oregon coast. Over 50 authors participated. Among them was our guest today, Kai Strand. Kai writes fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. Kai's young adult book, King of Bad, will be published in 2013. She considers herself a very lucky wife and is the mother of four amazing kids. She says the most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her Facebook page, Kai Strand, Author. Welcome to Book Blather, Kai.

Thanks for having me, Marilee. It was so much fun meeting you face to face at the author fair!

           We writers are simply bubbling over with acronyms: YA, WIP and MG are just a few. Three of your books are for the MG (middle grade) crowd. Tell us what middle grade encompasses.

The challenges of the middle grade years are exactly why I love writing it! Middle grade is generally described as children 8 – 12 years old. Seriously, when is the last time you met an 8 year old who had the same interests, taste in books or reading level as a 12 year old! Even within the age of twelve, you have girls who are already interested in boys along with girls who still find them disgusting and smelly. So, knowing that your target audience is going to be all over the place in interests, maturity level and reading level, you need to find themes that resonates across the board, such as; I don’t fit in, I’m not ready to grow up, I’m already grown up, bullying, family, etc.

          You have 3 published books and another due out in 2013. Describe your road to publication.

I think my path was pretty typical. I’d been writing and pursuing publication for six years before I finally signed my first book contract. There was a lot of rejection. I sold some short stories, which were the carrots that kept me trying. I was part of a few different critique groups over the years before I found the group I’m currently with (& have been for a while now). Writing is a business and often you have to start in an entry-level position and slowly work your way up the ladder. And that ladder is really long!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing (other than being the mother of 4 children - LOL)
Ha ha! Those kids are the least challenging aspect of my life these days – plus they are my best audience. But my biggest challenge in writing is editing. I don’t think it’s a strength of mine. I try to learn from critiques and editor letters so I can see what to look for in my work as I go forward. I know I’ve gotten better at editing over the years, but frankly it bores me. I’d much rather be creating.
Are you currently working on a new book?

I’m currently finishing up the first draft of my young adult, super villain series, sequel to King of Bad. I’m also working on a contemporary young adult that is an intrigue/romance mash-up, which I’m excited about. Finally, I have a contemporary middle grade book that has been sitting dormant since I lost my mother last year. It’s a very emotional book about friendship and I’ve been feeling it call to me again, so I might finally be strong enough to get back at it. Now, if I can just find the time.
Any advice for aspiring writers?

Heck, I always have something to say. I think it’s important for aspiring writers to stay in touch with their love for writing and words and reading. As you slog through slush piles and do your song and dance trying to attract an agent, or even when you decide to self-publish then find out that the promotion will suck the life out of you…remember WHY you first started writing. Play word games. Write lovingly constructed short stories. Leave clever notes for the kids – in soap – on their bathroom mirrors. Do whatever it takes to remember why you love writing, so that you will continue writing.

Please share a blurb from one of your books.

This is a blurb from The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale. This scene is when the main character, Molly, meets the strange little gnome-elf, Unwanted. Molly is treated badly by her mother and sisters and she is hoping Unwanted can grant her a wish that will make it all better. Let’s see how well they communicate with each other:

Excerpt from the copyrighted work The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale

One evening Molly trudged out to the well to collect yet more
water to clean some already cleaned item in the house. The sun
hovered just behind the tree line making it difficult to see the well
clearly in the shadowy corner of the yard. A warm breeze teased
the branches and made a nice rustling sound. Molly wished she
could run off into the trees and never come back.

She thought she heard the squeak of the well crank as she
approached. She peered into the darkness, but wasn’t sure if the
movement she saw was an animal, a person, or the trees shifting
in the wind.

Finally, close enough to make it out, she gasped.

Unwanted was startled and let go of the crank. It twirled in a
fast circle as the rope unraveled into the well.

Molly grabbed the crank before the rope unraveled completely.
“What are you doing here?”

“I haves thirst,” he said. He leaned over the side of the well,
leered into its depths and sighed. His tawny colored cap slipped
forward. Molly let go of the crank in order to catch it before it
fell into the well. With the hand that held the cap, she grabbed the
crank again.

Unwanted yanked at the cap even though it was trapped
between her hand and the crank. “Gives it back! Its my capses.”

“Sheesh, hold on!” Molly said. She put the bucket down and
wrestled the cap free from her other hand. It was all she could
do not to lose hold of the crank again with Unwanted tugging in
the opposite direction. She handed it to him. “Here, calm down. I
wasn’t trying to steal it. I saved it from falling.”

“Oh.” Unwanted smashed the cap back onto his head.
Molly admitted to herself that he was easier to look at when
his lumpy oversized head was covered. She spun the crank to raise
the hooks so that she could fill her bucket. Unwanted hung his
head over the side the entire time, holding his cap on with one

When the hooks came into view, Molly was surprised to see a
tin cup hanging between them.

Unwanted groaned. “It’s empties again. Always dumps and
comes ups empties.”

With his shoulders slumped and his head hanging forward he
looked so tired, sad and defeated. “I’ll get you water, Unwanted,”
Molly said.

She unhooked his cup and set it on the side of the well, hung
the bucket, and dropped it into the dark hole.

Unwanted grasped the edge of the well and watched
expectantly, his tongue stuck out the side of his mouth in
concentration while she cranked the bucket upward. When it was
high enough, she tied the rope off and dipped Unwanted’s cup
into the bucket.

His eyes shimmered with the light of the rising moon. He
accepted his cup and tipped it to his fat lips. Water drizzled down
his chin. He slurped and guzzled noisily. He drained it quickly and
strained up onto his tiptoes, trying to dip the cup for a refill.
Molly chuckled, took the cup from him, and scooped it full
of water again. When he drank that, he handed it back to her and

“More?” she asked.

He nodded. “Yeses, please.”

Molly pulled the bucket onto the side of the well and dipped
Unwanted’s tin cup for a third time. She handed it back to him
and relaxed against the well. Draped over the bucket of water,
she watched him sip the third cup more slowly. Such eagerness
and gratitude inspired a fondness for the strange little creature
that surprised Molly. She wished she could understand him better
though. Oh! That’s right. “Wish!”

Unwanted blinked lazily at her. “Yous has a wish?”

Molly nodded. Now that she might be able to cast her wish,
her stomach knotted with worry.

Thanks, Marilee, for letting me visit with you and your readers today. They can find more information and the buy links for my books, links to short stories, and download documents on my website:


  1. Marilee, thanks again for letting me visit Book Blather! I look forward to your visit on my blog on Wednesday.