Children’s Biographies & Co-authoring with Dead Writers

I’ve completed my third collaborative work and—again—I didn’t have any drama with my co-author, never have (probably doesn’t hurt that I’ve only worked with dead writers!).

Last month I released the third title in my illustrated Young American Immigrants nonfiction series for kids, Agnes’s Rescue: The True Story of an Immigrant Girl. It’s about my Scottish-Irish great-great-grandmother, Agnes Caldwell, who (after an ocean voyage) walked over 1,000 miles across the country to get to her U.S. destination.

The picture book was almost called “Agnes’s Feet.” At the time, the transcontinental railroad hadn’t been completed, so Agnes and her family had to walk west from Iowa City into the Rocky Mountains (with only a handcart to hold their belongings). Not surprisingly, Agnes’s shoes soon wore out—but she kept on in bare feet.

Even when they became snowbound by an early blizzard, Agnes’s feet (and life) were preserved in a marvelous way. I love finding inspiration in family stories and want others to gain courage from these examples. Agnes’s Rescue is free on Kindle Unlimited this month (it’s been a #1 New Release for weeks).

My co-author was Agnes’s youngest daughter, Veara Southworth Fife, who I met as a child on a visit to Utah. After I moved to Utah, I obtained permission from Veara’s daughter to use Agnes’s story (I presume, dictated to Veara her by mother). Special thanks go to Sean Sullivan for the cover and sketch work.

My first collaboration with a dead author was my grandfather Ransom A. Wilcox. I polished and expanded a western manuscript he’d written many years ago—and we won an International Book Award for To Swallow the Earth. I also edited and published a book of short stories he penned.

Now I’m completing the art for the fourth book in my children’s immigration series, Samuel Sailing. It’s the true story of my great uncle, whose parents had to leave him behind in South Africa after he contracted typhoid fever.

The family wasn’t cold-hearted; they had sold everything to purchase passage to America before Samuel’s diagnosis. With the outbreak of WWI, it was quite unlikely the family would have been able to make the trip again anytime soon. Samuel’s parents agonized over what to do. They felt directed by God to go ahead with the journey. Some Americans in South Africa promised to bring Samuel to them once he was well; but the family had no idea whether he would recover or survive the journey.

This children’s book is taken from Samuel’s autobiography, his father’s account of the move, and my grandmother’s (Samuel’s sister) recollections. (First three titles in this nonfiction series are: Agnes’s Rescue, Ida’s Witness, and Anna’s Prayer.) I don’t understand when I hear of conflicts between authors when they collaborate. I’ve always had the easiest time!

Wordless Golf Book a ‘Hole in Fun’

Picture book cements vocabulary as kids tell the story

MIDVALE, Utah – Sometimes kids want to tell the story. Today they can — guided by author and media professor Karl Beckstrand’s concepts and art by Jordan C. Brun. Beckstrand’s 23rd book, “Gopher Golf: A Wordless Picture Book,” depicts the joy — and trials — a couple of gophers feel while golfing (with help from other critters).

“Children love to make up stories,” says Beckstrand of his third wordless book, which includes an animal finding activity and online secrets for children ages 2 – 6. The colorful sports book with silly characters definitely has a story progression, “but how it’s expressed in words is up to the ‘reader,’” he says.

“Asking kids to tell what’s happening in the pictures can bring a different story every time you read it,” says Beckstrand. His Stories Without Words series can serve as curriculum for non-readers or early writers because it helps cement vocabulary and sentence structure in young minds. The illustrations by themselves can prompt uncontrolled snorts of laughter.

Beckstrand, who won an International Book Award for his western novel “To Swallow the Earth,” has children’s books on careers, astronomy, immigration and five books on food. His other no-words books include playful “Polar Bear Bowler: A Story Without Words” and “Butterfly Blink: A Book Without Words,” which highlights insect habitat conservation.

Many of Beckstrand’s books have multicultural characters, and many are Spanish/bilingual mysteries with language pronunciation guides. Most have online extras and surprise endings. Beckstrand’s work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, The Horn Book and School Library Journal. All may be found at Amazon, BN.com, iBooks, Ingram, https://PremioBooks.com, Target.com and Walmart.com.

Blog Tour & Giveaway

Grow! How We Get Food from Our Garden (Food Books for Kids, Book 3) Free on Kindle Unlimited (or $2.99 for ebook) by Karl Beckstrand, Genre: Children’s Book. Opened at #1 in five categories. Giveaways below

A black child and grandfather till, plant, and harvest fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and grains in a colorful picture book. This tongue twister for children ages 4 – 7 (preschool – 2nd grade) includes online tips for starting your own garden. Kids love to see things grow. Learn basic gardening and find the animals (revealed in online extras). 325 dyslexic-friendly words by award-winning author and media professor Karl Beckstrand (She Doesn’t Want the Worms: A Mystery [English- Spanish] Goodreads * Amazon

Media professor Karl Beckstrand is the bestselling and award-winning author/illustrator of 23 multicultural/multilingual books and more than 60 ebook titles (reviews by Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, ForeWord Reviews). Raised in San Jose, CA, he has a B.A. in journalism from BYU, an M.A. in international relations from APU, and a broadcast/film certificate from Film A. Academy. Since 2004 he has run Premio Publishing. His survival western, To Swallow the Earth, won a 2016 International Book Award. Beckstrand has presented to Taiwan’s Global Leadership for Youth, city and state governments, festivals, and schools. His nationally lauded Y.A. stories, ebook mysteries, nonfiction, Spanish/bilingual/ESL, wordless, career, and STEM books feature ethnically diverse characters–and usually end with a twist. Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway (starts Nov. 11)! $15 Amazon giftcard – 1 winner—plus book one of the food book series: Bad Bananas: A Story Cookbook for Kids – 20 ebook winners! a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Exciting Diverse Books in the Works

As publishers in perhaps the most competitive genre there is (children’s books), we seek to make our offerings stand out from the average kid’s book. Our story books have multicultural and biracial characters, online secrets/bonus material, and language or STEM learning disguised as entertaining/humorous stories with (typically) twisted or surprise endings.

We have been gratified that our picture books continue to be ordered by libraries, schools, and families via major distributors. We have several exciting books in the works:

  • GROW! How We Get Food from Our Garden (final art and text are being laid out)
  • Gopher Golf: A Wordless Book (third in our Stories Without Words series – being illustrated)
  • Agnes’s Rescue: The True Story of an Immigrant Girl (being illustrated)
  • Samuel Sailing: The True Story of an Immigrant Boy (being written)
  • Unnamed autobiography of Vernard L. Beckstrand (being edited)
  • More Than Two Choices (somewhat autobiographical story by Publisher Karl Beckstrand, being written)

We hope you peruse all our diverse books, ebooks, and audiobook at PremioBooks.com (many have video trailers) and love them enough to leave stars/comments in online venues.

No Time to Read? Get Western Thrills on Audio

Audiobook sales have jumped 37 percent since 2017, according to the Association of American Publishers. Now busy people can hear an award winning western thriller while on the go. To Swallow the Earth, the novel I co-wrote with my grandfather (and which won an International Book Award), has been available in paperback and e-book formats for a couple of years. Now it transports busy listeners to rough Nevada Silver Rush days as they travel or commute.

My grandfather grew up ranching and exploring the Sierra Nevada Mountains on horseback a hundred years ago. He used that setting for his western novel.

I inherited the manuscript after my grandfather passed away in 1992. My task was to tighten his story and develop the characters while preserving the action, suspense and earthy vernacular. Other than some violence, the book is clean and family safe.

What if you came home after a journey and your family was missing? What if someone else was living in your house, running what you used to manage—and trying to kill you?

The main character is an outcast, half-Mexican, raised by American Indians. But he’s fearless and loyal to his friends and family. In addition to a tough, dark hero, there’s a gutsy heroine—a woman who is unintimidated in the worst kinds of opposition. Each of these people has reason to be wary of the other. Narrator Jack Crenshaw deftly brings these magnetic characters to life in the audio version.

I’ve won other literary awards, but the International one is special. It kind of validates my grandfather’s vision—gives him a nod—even beyond the grave. To Swallow the Earth is getting great online reviews and was named a finalist for the Laramie Award and garnered Literary Classics’ seal of approval.

My 60 kid’s books, e-books and audiobook may be found at PremioBooks.com, Amazon Audible, Apple iBooks and via major booksellers and distributors. See the western book trailer here.

Image

Folk Tale Shows Kids How to Earn

Adults get business and money-making tips too

Doing things for free may not sound like a great recipe for earning; but a new picture book by a former Silicon Valley recruiter shows how providing free service can build skills, ideas and a reputation — all of which can bring income.

 

“Some people graduate from high school or college and expect to be paid right out of the gate,” said author Karl Beckstrand. “Most employers want experience,” he said. “Seeing problems and providing solutions — even without pay — can give job seekers the edge.”

 

“The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living” (for ages 5 and up) came to Beckstrand after he had visited many schools, observing almost no curriculum on earning money.

 

Beckstrand’s 18th book (number one in three Amazon categories) shows how a child with an eye for solving problems helps some hungry fish and finds a treasure. This illustrated Asian folk tale comes with ideas for businesses, finding customers and managing finances.

 

“I hope it helps bridge the gap,” Beckstrand said, “between what kids aren’t being taught and what they need to know in order to make a living. Money shouldn’t mystify.”

 

Beckstrand, winner of a 2016 International Book Award, says that earners start young — with no expectation of reward. “Doing something for nothing not only helps you feel good,” he said, “it gives you experience, a good reputation and, sometimes, money-making ideas.”

 

“Many children and adults lack confidence that only comes through experience,” said Beckstrand. “We get experience by finding and filling needs, solving problems.”

 

While he wanted to be a rock star, Beckstrand’s first job out of college was as a technical recruiter in Silicon Valley. “I got that job because I had worked some summers and semesters as a human resources assistant.”

 

Some of the people Beckstrand recruited had great ability and egos, some had no ability and great egos, but some had an idea of what they didn’t know,” he said. “The latter group had the best chances because they wanted to learn how to bring value.”

 

Beckstrand worked in high tech, sales and public policy before publishing his first book. “I did get to sing professionally,” he said, “even if our band was basically a wedding band. The point is, by trying lots of things I learned what I like and developed skills that help in any industry.”

 

“Maybe you don’t get that Fortune 500 job,” Beckstrand said, “maybe, while you’re serving someone in need, you get an idea the turns into the next Uber or Amazon, only it’s your company.”

 

After a couple of books through other publishers, Beckstrand now runs Premio Publishing in Midvale, Utah. They specialize in multicultural mysteries, biographies and language books for families. “They’re not about race or ethnicity,” said Beckstrand. “They simply happen to have characters of color.” They have received awards and raves from national publications like School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book’s blog and ForeWord Reviews.

 

Even after getting a master’s degree, Beckstrand noted that none of his courses taught earning or managing money. He says his most valuable education has come from running a business and living abroad. He has included tips he has learned in “The Bridge of the Golden Wood,” written in dyslexic-friendly font and available in hard cover (pre-order), soft cover and ebook (free thru July 23 on Kindle) via major distributors and PremioBooks.com.

Beckstrand will contrast traditional with digital or self-publishing on Thursday, June 29 at 7 p.m. at the Kearns Library, 5350 S. 4220 West in Salt Lake City.

STEM Books Spark Curiosity

stembooksmAstronomy, entomology, awards and wit

 

MIDVALE, Utah, Oct. 12, 2016 – Three multicultural books teach astronomy, entomology, zoology (and Spanish) — but kids would never know it from the mysteries, activities and giggles.

Cover contest winner “Butterfly Blink: A Book Without Words” is a new picture book fantasy that helps children (ages 2 – 6) cement vocabulary as they describe the monarch from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. Blink — and they multiply! The e-book version is free this month and includes habitat conservation information for all ages.

“Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story” (also a cover design winner) is a children’s book that accompanies an American Indian child in finding constellations, stars and other heavenly bodies. It exposes children (4 – 8) to the starry skies, Monument Valley, and a little space science. It is available in hard or soft cover — or as an e-book.

“She Doesn’t Want the Worms – Ella no quiere los gusanos: A Mystery” was named in the top 10 best books of 2011 by “ForeWord Reviews Magazine.” It is an educational activity book about a bi-racial girl who responds to some unusual animal gifts — that happen to be alive — and includes full text and a pronunciation guide in both English and Spanish. Kids (3 and up) or language learners can find and count insects, reptiles, a cat, and a bat. Get in Spanish-only, English-only, or bilingual versions as an e-book or in paperback.

The best-selling author of these nature books, Karl Beckstrand, has 17 multicultural books and more than 45 e-book titles – all family friendly. Beckstrand finds that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) books can entertain while they educate (STEAM books include the arts). Raised in San Jose, Calif., he will present on publishing entertaining literature Tues. Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Weber County Library 2039 W. 4000 South, Roy, Utah and Sat. Nov. 5 from 1 – 4 p.m. at the Viridian Center 8030 S. 1825 West, West Jordan, Utah.

Award-winning Premio Publishing & Gozo Books’ STEM books capture attention, create repeat readers and are nationally lauded (ForeWord Reviews, Horn Book blog, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews). Not about ethnic or racial diversity, they simply feature black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander and mixed-race characters. Find them at PremioBooks.com, online and at select retailers.

Conviction & Accolades

After being named a finalist—but not winning—the Laramie (western novel) Award, and after getting Literary Classics’ seal of approval (but no novel award), I was beginning to doubt there would be any real recognition of my hard work. Yesterday I learned that my novel, To Swallow the Earth, had indeed won in the 2016 International Book Awards. If you know you have a quality product, never give up hope!

Flamingos book cover

The Dancing Flamingos of Lake Chimichanga

MIDVALE, Utah, Sept. 9, 2015 — The world is pink. Pink with flamingos reveling on an imaginary lake—the creation of award-winning author Karl Beckstrand. Vivid images for the picture book The Dancing Flamingos of Lake Chimichanga were created by illustrator Ashley Sanborn.

“The story is filled with frenetic flamingos swimming, swooping, and swaying,” Beckstrand said. “I think it will make anyone smile. Kids can count the birds, dances, and foods.”

Quirky birds with a zest for life, revel, and dance on the shores of a shimmering lake. “Pink! Pink birds on a walk, pink flocks in pink socks. Diving, dipping, drinking, dripping, flying, falling, flailing, flipping. Strutting, swaying, swooping, sunning, synchronized swimming—they shimmy. It’s stunning.”

The 24-page, 8.5-inch square soft cover picture book and ebook is for ages 3 – 7 (350 words for preschool to second grade) and has online extras. Beckstrand has 15 multicultural books and more than 40 online titles, many of which feature characters of color. Most end with a twist. His nationally-lauded books can be found at Amazon/Kindle, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble/ Nook, Brodart, EBSCO, Flipkart, Follett, iBooks, Ingram, Inktera, Kobo, Mackin, OverDrive, Oyster, SCRIBD, txtr, PremioBooks.com and select retailers. ISBN-13: 978-1512161786 (ebook ISBN: 978-1310478215)

Read a Book with No Words

MIDVALE, Utah, Nov. 26, 2014 — Want to help kids cement their vocabulary skills? A new book—without words—can do just that.  Polar Bear Bowler: A Story Without Words is designed to help children create their own narration to engaging, funny images. It is Karl Beckstrand’s eleventh book.

Illustrated by Ashley Sanborn of Lehi, UT, the story is about a Polar Bear that hitches a ride to Antarctica. He’s never seen penguins before; to him they look like something fun to play with. So, the fun begins. The new title has been translated into more than twenty languages.

What would you do if Old MacDonald’s animals ruined your catering business? Ma MacDonald’s response is pretty clever in Beckstrand’s twelfth book: Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm. Activities include finding and naming animals and foods (for ages 3 – 8). The 32-page, soft cover and ebook was  illustrated by Alycia Mark of Providence, UT.

True to its multicultural tradition, Premio Publishing’s books feature learning activities and characters of color. Premio’s mystery and language books, non-fiction, ebooks and app are nationally-lauded, invite family learning and together time, and often end with surprises. Premio is celebrating its tenth year.

Most titles may be found via http://www.PremioBooks.com, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble/NOOK, Amazon.com/Kindle, iTunes, Follett/Title Wave, Ingram, Mackin and select booksellers.