Friday, June 3, 2011

Interview with Children's Author Margot Finke--- You are in for a treat!

Welcome Margot,
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Stories for Children Blog. You are a delightful author and your books are a real treat for children especially reluctant readers.

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a children's book author.
I live in Oregon with my husband, and our three grown kids, plus our grandkids, live nearby. I always loved writing stories, even as a young woman in Australia where I grew up.  When our kids were in grade school I became a teacher’s Aide.  This led to children commenting about my accent, and me telling them stories about Australia and its weird and wonderful animals.

These stories became the basis of my Wild and Wonderful series – 7 rhyming picture books about critters from the US and Australia:

The first was “Kangaroo Clues,” a true tale about how Old Man Roo escapes the wild dingoes.  The illustrations are awesome.  Yet few know that the artist, well known in Turkey and Europe, his work hanging in many galleries, can speak no English and has no computer.  Oh, and he lives in far off Turkey. 

How did this happen you ask?  It all went down like this.  When I was looking around for someone special to illustrate this picture book, a good friend on a writing list, who is also Turkish and writes great English, asked if I wanted a fine artist to illustrate my Kangaroo Clues.  This artist was a friend of hers.  I said, “Let’s see his work.”  She went to him, took pictures of books he had illustrated for her, and e-mailed them to me.  I drooled!  They were fantastic.  So a deal was struck between the three of us.  It took the best part of a year.  E-mails ran hot, my friend translated and ran back and forth, but eventually I had a book to die for – YEA!!  His name is Mustafa  Delioglu, and his talent is amazing.

Tell us about your current books. Give a short summary, tell us about your publisher, and also how you got the idea for your books.
I have three new books out at the moment – sounds rather excessive I know. However, I am thrilled about each one.

Taconi and Claude-Double Trouble -  midgrade adventure for boys & tomboys
A coming of age story about a young aboriginal boy in the Aussie outback. The time is 1950, and Taconi is pulled in different directions by his dad’s problems, a scary man ceremony, The Dreamtime Spirits, and an elusive magic feather. His only mate is a chatty cockatoo with a parade of funny one-liners.  A tribal gathering finally offers answers Taconi can accept.

Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind – rhyming PB
Ruthie becomes a brat when her parents move far from home.  Her parents tear their hair.  Ruthie just scowls and throws tantrums. What is the problem?  Then a wonderful surprise changes everything for the better.

Horatio Humble Beats the Big D – rhyming PB
Horatio is a smart boy who can’t read.   Words simply jumble together when he tries to read.  When he hears the word Dyslexia he panics and refuses to try Special Ed Class.  But go he does:  and the results
are amazing.

** Both picture books include helpful Parent/Teacher guides.

What is a typical writing day like for you?
Since my hip and knee replacement surgery, I have a daily regimen of exercises and physical therapy visits to deal with.  This means all book promotion has to be done via the Internet.  This takes a huge amount of time and I am learning new promotional tricks and avenues to follow every day.  I also have clients who need me to help them write tight and terrific pages, and suggest ways they can polish their manuscript for publication. All this has cut down on my writing time.

 However I am polishing a sequel (of sorts) to Taconi and Claude.  It is titled “Survival by Walkabout,” and jumps to the present day, where Taconi’s grandson, and the grandson of the current owner of Coorparoo Cattle Station, get together for a dangerous and scary adventure.

What do you enjoy most about writing for children?
I always think about what I liked to read when I was a child and a teenager. My favorites were books with lots of action, and great characters I longed to be mate. An only child, I grew up with the boys next door, trying to “out-boy” all three of them all the time. Guess I was a tomboy.  However my teen years were very “girly” – tree climbing simply lost its appeal.  But my love of fast action and unique characters in books never faltered.  I read books like that, and I started to write them too.  I think the secret of writing books that sell is not to choose between action oriented or plot oriented: it is to combine both terrific action and wonderful characters . What I love most is getting an e-mail from a child that has read one of my books, telling me what he liked about it. Who needs drugs when you can get a HIGH like that.

What is the most difficult part of writing for children?
I don’t find anything difficult about writing for kids.  Sometimes, finding the time to begin a new story that has been simmering away in my head is a problem. Or getting around to polishing and editing the sequel to Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble.  Other than that – no problem, mate. Fairdinkum!

Tell us about the marketing process for authors. What do you do to market and sell your books?
YIKES!  Is there room?  It would be easier and shorter to tell what I don’t do to promote them.   First there are Press Releases for newspapers, schools and anywhere else I feel one might work: each tailored to the specific outlet.  Then there’s the follow up calls to arrange interviews, photos etc.

A constant stream of fun, interesting and informative notes have to be fed into the voracious bellies of the assorted social media monsters.  Let it slip for a few weeks and you are forgotten.  It is not necessary to hit Facebook, Twitter, and others over the head with promos about your books every day, just a constant stream of “stuff” that keeps your name on their reader’s radar.  Also keep a fun and active Blog and website – regular updates are a must.  Details about your books, where to buy, places you will be visiting with them etc.  Articles on other writers + games, free stories and fun stuff with kid appeal all keep readers coming back.

And remember that vital signature that you add at the end of everything you send out – e-mails, letters, blog posts, comments on other blogs, and so on.  A signature that includes your name, what you do, + your blog or web address is vital.  If people see it often enough, and in enough different places, they will begin to associate your name with what you do (writing for kids), and maybe go look at that link you have right there in your signature

Margot’s Magic Carpet
Kids Books With a WOW Factor!

This signature is one of several I use, depending on where I am interacting.  All 11 of my books reside on the Magic Carpet + links my website, book trailers, reviews, covers, samples etc.  A simple signature (don’t overdo it) will take your reader to everything you have to offer.  It’s called BRANDING.   When you hear the word Madonna, Lady Ga-Ga, Microsoft or Google, you KNOW what they do.  Work toward giving your name that same cachet.

The time I spend online rose exponentially after my hip and knee replacement surgery.  I am still unable to walk or stand for long, and physio takes up more time than I care to say.  So bookstores ( most private ones near me are out of business anyway) and school visits are out of the question at this time). If you write for children, the secret of getting your books noticed by those who buy them is to research online blogs, and lists that are run by ordinary moms, grand-moms, and others that have a reason to buy books for the kids in their lives.

This is time consuming and painstaking work.  Once you find some places that look promising, you must find their e-mail address, often well hidden on the umpteenth page of their site.  Then craft a pleasing, not too desperate note, that will hopefully tempt them to either buy, promote, or offer to interview/review you and your book.

Bookstore signings are dicey.  Sometimes you sell a bunch of books, and you feel that Jo Rowlings should eat her heart out. At other times you sit around and WAIT for customers to show up.  A lot depends on the enthusiasm of the bookstore staff, and how much advance preparation they have done.  I advise leaving nothing to chance. Make sure there are fliers to give out ahead of time, one posted in the store window.  Put balloons on the sidewalk with a catchy sign.  Contact the local newspaper and get a piece in the paper about you, your books, and the upcoming bookstore signing.  Make sure the store has enough of your books.  Leaving it to them is a recipe for tears and disaster.

Do you make school visits? If so, please describe a typical school presentation.
Yes I have done school visits.  I love them.  The kids are great fun, and they ask such outrageous questions. I have a page on my website, with pictures, that tells about this in detail. Visits.htm#school  

The main thing is a cooperative teacher or librarian.   You need to provide coloring sheets from your book, and bookmarks are good for older grades.  Ask ahead of time what they would like from you by way of time, readings, and some sort of easy lesson for older grades.  Know your limits ahead of time and negotiate to get what suits both of you.

Selling your book depends on the policy of the school. If they let you sell, have a nice form prepared that lists your books, the cost, your website url and e-mail address.  This advertises to the parents in a discreet way, and lets them check out you and your books.  If you leave it to the teacher it will be a skimpy affair and might be forgotten altogether – this happened to me once.  You provide one of these + the coloring sheet, and the school usually runs off copies for you.  Your fee ( unless you are a famous author) is always negotiable.  Never do it free.  Schools, like people, value what they pay for.

Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can listeners go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?
My website: – Writing Help, Manuscript Critiques,
my BOOK details.

Margot’s Magic Carpet –
all 11 books on one page + links to relevant details.
Kids Books With a WOW Factor!


What are you working on right now?
Polishing a sequel to Taconi and Claude-Double Trouble.  This takes the story into the 21st century, with the grandsons of Taconi and the Boss getting themselves mixed up in some scary and dangerous adventures. The title is, Survival by Walkabout.

What is your best tip for aspiring children's book authors?
The best thing any new writer can do is master the basics, and then join a really good critique group.  The writing feedback and encouragement from such a group is invaluable.  Join several online writing lists and network among their members. Know that rejection letters are a fact of writing life.  Let’s face it, mates, hanging around the mail box hoping for an acceptance will just give you fallen arches.  Once that MS is posted off, forget about it, and begin something new. And remember, patience, talent, and a dab of luck works for most of us.

Margot Finke is offering a FREE short story to anyone who buys a hard copy of her book Taconi and Claude from her website

Write a comment on any participating blog during my June Book Tour,  
and win a FREE COPY of this fun time-travel story.
I wrote it specially for kids.

One copy per person.  Please leave your e-mail. 
( Safe sample:   mfinke<@> )

More on Margot Finke: 
Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant who writes midgrade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. For many years she has lived in Oregon with her husband and family. Gardening, travel, and reading fill in the cracks between writing. Her husband is very supportive, and their three children are now grown and doing very well.

Margot didn't begin serious writing until the day their youngest left for college. This late start drives her writing, and pushes her to work at it every day. Margot said, "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!"

Her first books, a 7x book rhyming series, "Wild and Wonderful," offers fun facts about animals from the US and Australia.  Educational and fun, eBooks can be read on a computer, laptop, or various color e-Readers.  They are great for classroom or home schooling moms.

Remember, kids today are computer savvy, and ALL 11 of Margot’s books (both hard copy and eBooks) can be viewed on Margot’ Magic Carpet. The latest three are: Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble (midgrade), Horatio Humble Beats the Big D + Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind.

Visit her  DOWN-UNDER FUN OR  WILD US CRITTERS:  Discover extra fun facts about the animals in her books.
Her Manuscript Critique Service attracts clients from all over the globe, and her website offers a great deal of help for new writers. Nothing gives her a bigger thrill that to hear that a book she helped polish has been published. “This is always a huge YEA moment,” Margot says.

Stories for Children Publishing will be touring author Margot Finke’s children’s books, Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble” a historical middle-grade adventure, “Horatio Humble Beats the Big D” a rhyming picture book about dyslexia, and “Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind” a rhyming picture book about change; all month long in June 2011. 

You can find out more about Margot Finke’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at . There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Margot Finke and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Margot Finke will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Margot Finke about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Margot will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life.

The show will be live June 13, 2011 at 1pm EST (12pm Central, 11am MST, and 10am PST). You can tune in at the World of Ink Network site at You can listen/call in at (714) 242-5259. (Note: if you can’t make the show, you can listen on demand at the same link.)

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit Stories for Children Publishing at:

~World of Ink Schedule for Margot Finke Next Week~
June 6th
The Maggie Project – Guest Post: The back story of Taconi and Claude

Roth’s Inspiring Books & Products - Interview

June 7th
One Zillion Books – Book Review of Ruthie and the Hippo

June 8th
Stories for Children Magazine FG Interview

June 9th
Home School Blogger-Book Review of Taconi and Claude

June 10th
Families Matter Blog - Book Spotlight


  1. I want to thank Family Matters for hosting my World of Ink tour today, and to remind all comm-enters to leave an e-mail so I can send them my fun, FREE new time-travel e-book for kids.

    (Safe sample: mfinke<@>

    Margot’s Magic Carpet
    Kids Books With a WOW Factor!

  2. Congrats and thanks for sharing Margot, wonderful interview!

  3. I always enjoy reading about the successes of other authors. Thanks, Margot.

    csdfrye at yahoo dot com

  4. Anoymous(both of you), thanks so much for visiting, commenting, and your kind words.

    I will send both of you copies of my time-travel adventure as soon as I quit this reply.

    Please don't hesitate to forward this story to other kids you know. I love sending freebies out to be enjoyed.

    Margot’s Magic Carpet
    Kids Books With a WOW Factor!

  5. jlyoung<@>

    Your e-mail bounced. They said there was no account at Yahoo for this e-mail?

    Margot Finke - mfinke<@>

  6. Wonderful interview Margot! I never get tired of your wisdom! I sure hope your knee gets up to par again so you can get out there and promote your wonderful books, though you are doing a great job through the web:)

  7. Wonderful interview. Margot is so inspiring.

  8. Many thanks Deana and Terri. You are both such faithful followers. My knee and hip are improving, but due to the early complications it a slow process.

    Margot’s Magic Carpet
    Kids Books With a WOW Factor!

  9. Thanks for sharing the great interview! Margot is such a good writer and always has helpful advice for others. Best wishes to you with your tour and books, Margot!

  10. Thanks a whole bunch, Connie. Your comment is much appreciated.

    Kids Books With a WOW Factor!

  11. I always enjoy reading about the successes of other authors. Thanks, Margot.

    csdfrye at yahoo dot com funny images, funny

  12. Thanks for sharing the great interview! Margot is such a good writer and always has helpful advice for others. Best wishes to you with your tour and books, Margot! very funny pics



*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.