Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘editor interviews

Stinkwaves Magazine is the brainchild of Tevin and Nicole Hanson.  Tevin is the author of numerous books and short stories. He enjoys skateboarding, reading half a dozen books simultaneously, and chasing his two small children around the house while singing horrendous versions of children’s songs. Nichole is a full-time mom of two children and an avid reader of young adult books. Thanks to Nicole for taking time for this interview, and for sending me a free sample copy of Stinkwaves Magazine.

ALLISON: Why did you start Handersen Publishing?

NICOLE: Handersen Publishing actually started as silly handmade books for friends and family featuring Tevin’s quirky story ideas and art. Then, after reading a few literary magazines, we thought, “Why not start a literary magazine for middle grade and young adult readers?” and Stinkwaves was born. All this time Tevin was trying to go the traditional route for publishing his middle grade books. We finally decided to give self-publishing a try. We started with Hole in the Wall, Mr. Boggarty, and An Evening of Temptation and The Ultimate Sacrifice. When it was time to take on new authors, we immediately started with past Stinkwaves Contributors and became a full-fledged publishing house!

We want Handersen Publishing to be a place where reluctant readers can find a book to connect with, and established readers can find something new to challenge themselves. Each project that we take on has some type of twist to the traditional books in that genre. Some of our books have been labeled bizarro fiction, and we kind of like that title.

ALLISON: How has this venture changed your life?

NICOLE: We are now running Handersen Publishing full time, which is both amazing and exhausting. It’s amazing to be able to work from home and be doing what you love, but it takes a lot of time and energy. Seriously, though, how can you complain when you make books for a living, and get to work with great kids making slime and thumb theatres?

ALLISON: Why both books and a magazine?

NICOLE: It just kind of worked out that way for us, and I’m glad it did. We have met some amazing talent through Stinkwaves. And each of our authors was originally published there.

ALLISON: What skills—business or otherwise–does each bring to Handersen Publishing?

NICOLE: Books are where we have found the most success. Unfortunately, Stinkwaves has had a hard time finding readers, it’s a great little magazine, and we’ve been lucky to get some great submissions, but we’re finding that a lot of readers aren’t super familiar with what a literary magazine is, especially when it is for a middle grade and young adult audience. Anytime we get it into kids’ hands, though, they really like it and seem to connect with the stories and poetry.

ALLISON: How involved is your family with Henderson Publishing? *Who is in your family?

NICOLE: We are definitely a family business. Our two kids Elinore (6) and Gordon (4) are the inspiration for most everything we do. They encourage us to stay young and think young. They are also great helpers when it comes to creating art or setting up for an event. Our daughter Elinore is also great to have in an audience. She has a fabulous laugh that inspires other kids to get involved with the show and have fun!

ALLISON: What other activities do you and your family enjoy besides Handersen Publishing?

NICOLE: Right now, it seems like our lives revolve around books, but it’s what we all love. Whether it’s finding the perfect book (or twenty) together at the library, snuggle time reading, or watching a movie that was based on a book, book time is the best time! We also have a lot of fun with art, jumping on the trampoline, or spending time together at the park.

ALLISON: Share one success story.

NICOLE: We recently booked our first paid gig for a reading event. We’ve done a lot of donated time events, but it was very exciting that an organization found value in what we do, and invited us to come and work with their kids. It was also a TON of fun!

ALLISON: Share a major challenge and how you overcame it.

NICOLE: The publishing industry, itself, is a major challenge. Navigating libraries, bookstores, online marketing, websites, social media . . . the list goes on and on. We overcome this one step at a time. We currently have four authors from the UK and Ireland, and it’s a challenge learning another regions rules and processes, but we are working on it, one step at a time.

ALLISON: What are your future dreams—for Handersen Publishing or personal?

NICOLE: We want Handersen to be successful so that we can share literacy and the importance of books and reading. There are a lot of communities that struggle to have the necessary resources to encourage kids to read. If we can succeed we will have more resources to share, whether it’s actual books or events that connect kids with books and authors.

ALLISON: Where can those who live in the area find you?

NICOLE: Our books are for sale online both through our website (free shipping) and on Amazon (they even qualify for FREE PRIME shipping). We are also season vendors at the Haymarket and the Fallbrook Farmers Markets in Lincoln, Nebraska, and you can find us at craft fairs and other events throughout the year. Also, Indigo Bridge (Lincoln, NE), Francie and Finch (Lincoln, NE), Chapters Books and Gifts (Seward, NE), and The Bookworm (Omaha, NE) all carry Handersen Publishing titles.

This past Saturday, I shared the news that I’m now a pet training columnist and book reviewer for Lincoln Kids Newspaper. The newspaper is a quarterly publication full of information and events for local families. As a follow-up to my news, I want to introduce you to the editor of Lincoln Kids: Karla Goerl.

Karla, her husband Bennett, and their son Kenny

Karla, her husband Bennett, and their son Kenny

ALLISON: When and why did you get involved with Lincoln Kids?

KARLA: Lincoln Kids! Newspaper was started 24 years ago by my father-in-law, Mark Martin. In 2014, he began pondering the idea of retirement but still wanted to keep the paper a family project. So he asked his son, Bennett (my husband), if we would be willing to carry it on. I would take over as Publisher and my husband would spearhead Distribution. I could instantly envision a future with Lincoln Kids–it felt like a perfect fit. So in 2015 he took me under his wing and my training began. Then, on April 1, 2016, Mark officially stepped into retirement and I assumed all production of Lincoln Kids. Before this I had many years in Hospitality & Administration. It’s been quite the learning curve, especially with the official switch-over occurring when I was eight months pregnant with my first child, but I truly love the paper and what it stands for: learning about and promoting local businesses & organizations and providing a one-stop local resource for our amazing community of families!

ALLISON: What skills—business or otherwise–do you bring to Lincoln Kids?

KARLA: I have always been a writer, artist, creator, and visual perfectionist. Plus I have a professional history of business administration, and these aspects all go hand-in-hand for Lincoln Kids. I love the creative side of the paper: designing advertisements, writing articles, reading and editing, creating the flow, fine-tuning the layout. etc. All of that, tied in with my administrative experience, works seamlessly as publisher & owner. I’ll always have facets that I need to expand and work on; for instance, I’ve always felt inadequate with my sales and communication skills, but having a career in publishing had made me research, learn, and exercise my growing abilities in that field.

ALLISON: Do you consider yourself foremost an editor, designer, or writer?

KARLA: I wear all of those hats simultaneously when producing Lincoln Kids. Creating each issue is really a one-man operation. But if I had to choose, my main title would probably be editor, which is good, because just as I love to write and design, I also love to edit. I review all content submitted for each issue, plus I proof, edit, & revise all articles and in-house advertisements. One of the last things to occur during production is finalizing the layout & flow of content. The perfectionist in me says I’m never truly done. 🙂

ALLISON: What did you want to be when you grew up?

KARLA: As a toddler, I distinctly remember wanting to be a duck…and a train. (Un)fortunately those dreams were never within reach. In grade school, I wanted to be an author and an illustrator. (I still write poetry, books, & articles, plus I draw & paint among other art forms). Then in high-school, I upped my focus on academics. Being still passionate about art I took several advanced art classes, but also I dove deep into mathematics, science, and history. When I went to college I majored in Studio Art, but I also took several science and history classes. All subjects fascinate me. I think what I ended up growing up to be is a blessed fit. Each edition of Lincoln Kids. allows me exercise almost all of my passions. And not only does the work side of it keep my mind active, but the content for my readership is often scholastic & art-focused as well.

ALLISON: How involved is your family with Lincoln Kids? Who is in your family—including pets?

KARLA: My entire family is involved with Lincoln Kids Newspaper, including my extended family. My in-laws still help edit the final product before printing, plus Mark will always be my consulting publisher and soundboard. My own parents help with ideas; in the last issue (Spring ’17) my mother set up contact for an article contribution. My extended family is speckled with educators who look forward to reading each paper, and forward-thinkers with ideas for new clients and distribution points. My husband is my business partner and co-owner. Our son Kenny is our own “Lincoln Kid” and we are so excited to see his role in the paper develop as he grows. Even our cats are in on this; We are lovers of animals and love having animal-focused content within the paper. We adopted Willow, our older cat, from Capital Humane Society, and rescued Cooper, our younger cat, after my mother found him away from his litter at just three weeks old. A dog is in the near future, but we are going to wait until Kenny and the dog choose each other. Lincoln Kids. truly is a family newspaper, for and from.

ALLISON: What other activities do you (and your family) enjoy besides Lincoln Kids?

KARLA: I love art. I paint, draw, sketch, you name it. I work with paper crafting, jewelry, home accents, furniture, and so much more. We are both readers and movie-fans. Books are a big part of our lives. I love to write, and my husband is very good at developing story lines. We hope to collaborate on books throughout our lifetime. We like the great outdoors. We enjoy camping, fishing, exploring, and experiencing the beauty of our natural world. We love to travel, near and far. We are eager and slightly nervous to do this as new parents, but want our son to be well-traveled, too. Bennett is a chef, and so food is a large part of our lives. He is French-trained, having gone to school at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa, Canada, so classical dishes and presentations are always a treat. But we both love to cook and experiment with new techniques as well. We are not picky eaters by any means, and a big part of our travels are experiencing local cuisines. Life is meant to be explored and enjoyed–what better way than through food and travel?

ALLISON: Why do you distribute Lincoln Kids for free?

KARLA: Lincoln Kids. was inspired by another free family newspaper based in New Mexico, which is still going strong today. We also just want to pay it forward to Lincoln and shout it to the rooftops how awesome it is to raise a family here. By keeping Lincoln Kids free for all, it helps us do what we are here to do: Reach as many families as we can!

ALLISON: What have you learned from being editor of Lincoln Kids?

KARLA: Lincoln Kids has definitely taught me a lot, both personally and professionally. I have learned not only from business-related experience, but from our content as well! We have some great organizations in our community that really promote our youth, and I learn more about Lincoln and our city’s history and current events with each issue. I’ve learned how to juggle many new hats by becoming a business owner. I’ve had to learn programs, communications, design elements, the printing industry, and so much more. I’ve also grown closer to my husband’s parents through this adventure. PLUS, my best and favorite thing about my new role has been that of becoming a mother and being able to use Lincoln Kids Newspaper as my own resource in parenting.

ALLISON: What are your future dreams—for Lincoln Kids or personal?

KARLA: We are modernizing Lincoln Kids in phases throughout 2017, and so right now those dreams are becoming a reality. We have given the printed paper a face lift, new logo, and the Summer issue of this year is going to be a brand new, slightly different format. Next up is increasing our web-presence and utilizing social media to further promote our clients and get word out to more people about Lincoln Kids! It’s a techy world we live in and I’m still a bit in the past personally; so it’s another venture I plan to learn and apply to the paper.

My newest articles can be found on pages 24 and 28 of the Summer edition of Lincoln Kids.


In the deluge of young adult paranormal about supernatural beings such as vampires and werewolves and more recently witches and angels, ghosts seem be a forgotten commodity. Transcendent, an anthology of eight stories by mostly new authors, helps fill in that gap. Included in its round-up are also stories which feature death, shape-shifters, and sirens.

Let’s start with one of the exceptions to ghost tales. My absolute favorite story is Seduction of a Siren by Lanie Woodland and Melanie Piper. Despite the abundance of middle grade fiction available about mythological creatures, one also doesn’t see all that many tales about sirens—temptresses who lures sailors with their voices to shipwreck on their island. This particular entry is a delicious blend of the romantic and the horrific. Seduction of a Siren opens with a kiss. Very quickly, Jason’s illusion of being seduced by a beautiful kisser are dashed by the introduction of “a grotesque and distorted monster, fit for nothing but a nightmare”. Or is that image also an illusion? Lanie Woodland is an established author with three novels in her repertoire. I look forward to checking them out!

As for the ghost tales, I enjoyed the sweet romance called The Pumpkin Thief. If you’re familiar with horror movies, you won’t find it new that the main female character feels nervous about walking alone to her friend’s party, because some guy had followed her home, whistling and making vulgar comments. You also won’t feel surprised to see Kira make her way to a quiet corner at her friend’s party, where she tires of seeing couples making out all around and so slips out for a walk.  Yet despite these familiar elements, Joseph does a nice job of creating a creepy atmosphere partly through his writing style and partly by throwing in a new element: When Kira goes to fetch a pumpkin that she’d carved for a contest, all that’s left is a blown out candle stub. As for the romance, it’s handled in such a humorous way that I forgave Joseph for not surprising me with its ending.

One of the darker ghost stories is Ryan’s Wish. Even before Ryan had become Irelan’s official boyfriend, he had been her everything. Two years earlier, he had ridden off on his dirt bike into the woods near her home and never returned. When the story opens, Irelan is celebrating her birthday, but also still chasing after every guy who looks or acts like Ryan. Then on her birthday, Irelan is surprised not only with a party but by the reappearance of Ryan. Problem is, Ryan is acting and looking odd.

I won’t tell reveal anything more, except to note that by this point in the anthology I’d started to tire of a few clichés in teen stories: loud parties, outcast loners, and hunky guys. Is there anyone besides me who didn’t attend keggers as a teen? Or is there anyone besides me who appreciated reading books about well-adjusted adolescents because they could show one how to live? And, on the flip side, what exactly is wrong with awkward first kisses, sweaty palms, pimply faces, and stammering dates?

Of the stories that I didn’t highlight but would recommend: Feather is about a Native American who tries to flee her heritage, Shadows of Promise is about unsolved murder, and Kiss of Death is about a stalker. Overall, not only does Transcendent offer plenty of quality alternatives to vampires and werewolves, but it also features promising authors whose future works would be worth checking out.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

The preface of Unlocked reads: “Each key will open a door, some leading to new worlds, others hiding secrets better left forgotten, and still holding dreams to be shared.” After reading this anthology, you’ll never think about your keys in the same way again!

In one of my surprise favorite stories, Assassin by Jaimey Grant, the main female character Sable wears a key around her neck as her only connection to her murdered parents. The story is about a trained killer, which doesn’t make for my typical fare. I should detest Sable who ironically hates it when a killing goes smoothly, because it’s “like thumbing one’s nose at the devil, taunting him to do his worst”. Yet I don’t. After all, she knows the “devil’s worst and has since made it her goal to never go through that again”. Does that mean I like Sable? Not really. Nor do I particularly like Etienne, who was hired to clean up any mistakes Sable made. This is one of those rare stories where I can appreciate who the killers are without loving or hating them. I know this goes against the norm, because then who or what do we root for? I don’t particularly want either of them to die, but I also know that this would be right. This is a tough balance for an author to pull off, but Jaimey Grant does it.

In the rest of the stories in Unlocked, the main characters were basically good but for the most part no less intriguing. For example, another story which I really liked featured a female robot. In Symbiote by Rita Webb, RW1211 risks breaking company rules by sneaking out at night to watch the stars. The tale takes on a darker tone, when the models in her department are deemed obsolete and so are slated for early retirement—that is, recycling followed by incineration. Because of how skillfully this science fiction story is crafted, it reminded me of how genre stories can subtly present messages about societal problems. Yes, fantasy and science fiction can awe readers with cool creatures and powers and effects. They also can indirectly make a point about our world, which ultimately gives them their substance.

Most of the stories in Unlocked also rely on an unexpected revelation. For surprise twists to work, an author needs to effectively build up suspense and then produce a satisfying end. Some of the authors whose works are featured were less successful than others. For example, I knew how Crop Circles by Wendy Swore would end. And when the ending came, it read even sillier than I anticipated. While I wasn’t as prepared for the ending in Where They Belong by Paige Ray, it was the most disappointing. At the start, Claire receives a nasty letter from her former friends. Then when her mom takes her for a drive, Claire finds a key that changes her life. Already, I have two problems. First, there is no reason for her friends to suddenly turn so vile. Second, how she finds the key is convoluted: “She jumped out of the car as they parked and stumbled over the sidewalk. Her mom had parked close to the cliff’s edge, and Clara rolled, about to fall over the cliffs edge.” As she braces herself, she finds the key. Ugh! My last problem is that Clara’s problems are too conveniently solved. Beyond these two examples, the surprise twists worked better. For example, Shoshanna by teen writer K.G. Borland starts out as a romance between an angel and an earthling, but ends up creeping me out. Borland is working on his first novel, which sounds like good news to me. I’m hoping to hear more about fallen angel Gabe!

Unlike Transcendent Tales, also published by Robot Playground, Unlocked isn’t being advertised as containing stories from one genre. Instead, the back cover describes this anthology as a varied collection of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and fanciful tales of school. While this is all true, I still felt chilled by the time I read the last page. Indeed, the best compliment I can give to Unlocked is that now I feel happy for night lights.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

Normally, I spend a few hours researching the author whose book I’ll review. That becomes too ambitious of a project when I’m looking at eight authors, which is the number of contributors to Transcendent. (For anyone doing the math, I’d be looking at eight to twenty-four hours!) Instead, I compiled a set of standard questions for all the authors. Throughout the week, I’ll post responses from every author whom I could reach.

Evan Joseph wrote The Pumpkin Thief. When Kira goes to fetch a pumpkin that she’d carved for a contest, all that’s left is a blown out candle stub. The rest of the tale is a mix of horror, humor, and romance.

Allison: Why do you like to write?

Evan: It helps me do something productive with all the random ideas that float around in my head.

Allison: Besides writing, what do you most like to do?

Evan: I really love listening to music, especially a cappella. Lately I’ve started playing piano again, but at a pretty simple level.

Allison: Where is your favorite place to write?

Evan: I usually write at the computer in my room. When I’m writing I kind of get lost in what I’m doing, so where I write doesn’t seem that important. In my head, I’m in the story anyway.

Allison: What is your proudest achievement?

Evan: Finishing my degree. I wasn’t able to finish before, so I’ve been doing it part time by correspondence over the last several years. I just turned in my last assignment about a week ago. Yay!

Allison: What is your day job? How do you fit time into it to write?

Evan: I work as a welder and metal fabricator. I try to set aside a little time each day for writing.  I’ve found a set time every day works best.

Allison: What are your pet peeves?

Evan: Waiting at a red light when no one else is going. I don’t mind it so much as long as other cars can go, but when the green is for an empty lane, I don’t like that.

Allison: What are your biggest fears?

Evan: I tend to be a perfectionist and worry that the things I do and write will not be good enough. It makes free writing troublesome sometimes.

Allison: Why do you write for young people? What was your reason for writing a paranormal tale?

Evan:  I’m pretty new to writing but I’ve been helping my wife with her paranormal YA books and the genre kind of stuck.

Allison: What is one writing tip you’d like to pass onto others?

Evan: Be persistent, but not stubborn. By that I mean keep at it, and never give up, but be open to suggestions from others.

Allison: What is one thing about yourself you’d like to share?

Evan: My wife says I’m a sugar addict. I have a big-time sweet tooth, but I’m in complete control; I can stop whenever I want. Really.

Allison: Where else can we read your stories?

Evan: The Pumpkin Thief is my first published work. I’m working on some things now, but I’m pretty new to writing.

Heather wrote Shadows of a Promise. Dawn promises Lauren to visit 272 after she graduates to see the ghost of Miss Ravenscroft. Turns out, Dawn made more than one promise and there’s more than one ghost.

Allison: Why do you like to write?

Heather: To keep the voices in my head to a dull roar. I have so many ideas that float around they build on top of one another.  Writing them down seems to be easiest way to see what ideas work better on paper, and what should really just stay in my head. It’s also relaxing to zone out of the real world for a while and construct one that is entirely yours, where you can make anything happen.

Allison: Besides writing, what do you most like to do?

Heather: Read, volunteer at my kids schools, eat dark chocolate peanut M&Ms. Also, I don’t like this but I’ve done a lot of it lately…pack. We are in the process of moving from Maryland to Boston, MA.

Allison: Where is your favorite place to write?

Heather: Near a sunny window where I can stare outside when I hit a wall. Right now, I don’t have a specific room or place to write, but I’m hoping for an office so I will have more room to spread out notes and such.

Allison: What is your proudest achievement?

Heather: Besides having three healthy, happy, well adjusted children it would be having “Shadows of Promise” published. Also, winning 6th place in the state back in high school for Speedwriting/Shorthand in the FBLA.

Allison: What is your day job?

Heather: I teach 3-year-old preschool, where I hear so many funny stories and one-liners, I could write a book about it.

Allison: How do you fit time into it to write?

Heather: I used to write during my kids naptimes, now it’s when they are at school or later at night when everyone is asleep!

Allison: What would your second choice of a job be?

Heather: If I had the business savvy, own a bookstore, otherwise, I’d work in one (I had a summer job after college working in one in Ocean City, MD and I loved it).

Allison: What are your pet peeves?

Heather: People who throw cigarette butts out their car windows, gender specification in kids—for example—people who assume (like stores) that all girls like princesses and all boys like trucks so when you go to find a birthday card for one gender, and the child isn’t into one of those items, you realize you may have to make your own card for them or by a blank one. Rudeness and aggressive drivers are some others.

Allison: What are your biggest fears?

Heather: A child of mine dying. And tornados!

Allison: Why do you write for young people?

Heather: Because there is just so much material (good and bad) that you can use! Also, I remember so much from that time period, the angst, the fun times etc. that it’s not difficult to put myself in that mindset when writing.

Allison: What was your reason for writing a paranormal tale?

Heather: I was asked if I wanted to take part in writing for a Paranormal Anthology and I realized I had never written a paranormal story, so I tried! My favorite book growing up was Stranger With My Face by Lois Duncan so I thought about why I liked that book and tried to incorporate a bit of that thought into my story.

Allison: What is one writing tip you’d like to pass onto others?

Heather: Keep paper and pencil with you at all times to write down those ideas or dreams!

Allison: What is one thing about yourself you’d like to share?

Heather: I love to research family history and found that on my paternal grandmother’s side we are related to someone who came over on the Mayflower.

Allison: Where else can we read your stories?

Heather: Right now, the only published one is in Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal but I’m working on editing a full length young adult novel in hopes of getting it out there for people to read! However, I do write Educational articles for “Woman Scope News Magazine” which is available online to everyone and on paper to people around the Baltimore, MD area.

Lana Woodland is the co-author of The Seduction of a Siren. Very quickly, Jason’s illusion of being seduced by a beautiful kisser are dashed by the introduction of “a grotesque and distorted monster, fit for nothing but a nightmare”. Or is that image also an illusion?

Allison: Why do you like to write?

Lana: Two reasons. First, I’ll be watching TV or a movie and an idea will form that I have to jot down. Writing it down gets it out of my head so I can think about other things. Second, I love to write happy endings

Allison: Besides writing, what do you most like to do?

Lana: I love reading, watching movies, hanging out with friends and family, playing board games and cuddling with my daughter.

Allison: Where is your favorite place to write?

Lana: I like to write at home in front of my computer.

Allison: What is your proudest achievement?

Lana: That is a hard question. I think I am most proud of . . . not giving up on my dream to be an author. Having a publisher want to publish my work made all of the months (alright years) worth it. I’m glad I didn’t give up.

Allison: What is your day job? How do you fit time into it to write?

Lana: I’m a stay at home mom but I also work as a photographer.

Allison: What are your pet peeves?

Lana: I hate waiting in line at a certain craft store near my house. They always have a long line and there is never more than one clerk working. On average the wait time in line is fifteen minutes.

Allison: What are your biggest fears?

Lana: I’m terrified of bees!!!

Allison: Why do you write for young people?

Lana: I think in a lot of ways your teenage years are magical. You are learning who you are and on the verge of adulthood. Those circumstances bring a lot of fantastic drama.

Allison: What was your reason for writing a paranormal tale?

Lana: I usually don’t start writing books with paranormal things in them. Somehow my original idea morphs into something supernatural.

Allison: What is one writing tip you’d like to pass onto others?

Lana: As cliché as it sounds: never give up!

Allison: What is one thing about yourself you’d like to share?

Lana: My favorite snack to eat while writing is Baby Ruth candy bars.

Allison: Where else can we read your stories?

Lana: You can read the first two books in the Yara Silva trilogy Intrinsical and Indelible, right now. They are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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