Interview with Karl Beckstrand

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was raised in San Jose, CA. My parents were also raised in California (which, being interpreted in my mind, means "paradise" --okay, any west-coast locale is paradise!)
When did you first start writing?
As a child I hated to read and to write. Then I got the measles in the third grade. My grandmother bought me Bicycles North: A Mystery on Wheels by Rita Ritchie. I learned that books don't have to be dull. They can transport and exhilarate. In college (when I should have been doing my homework) I began to be ambushed by story ideas--more than I've had time to develop--and, well ...
What's the story behind your latest book?
It expresses my wonderment with the night sky. I've always been intrigued by the limitlessness of the starry heavens. I hope Bright Star, Night Star sparks those feelings in others.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Frankly, my experience with poorly-run publishing houses.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is a great one-stop shop. My one criticism is that, for all the rigidity in format requirements, their philosophy on protecting content from piracy seems lackadaisical.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Getting the story into the hands of readers.
What do your fans mean to you?
Readers are what writing is all about. They are the reason I write.
What are you working on next?
Non-fiction biographies of immigrant children, a political science text on the Middle East, and more Spanish-English picture books.
Who are your favorite authors?
David McCullough, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Shel Silverstein, Harper Lee, Joseph Smith
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Completing the many stories that haunt me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Volleyball, family time, kayaking (when I can), and a chance to hear/see a good story!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mostly, they are recommended/given by authors I know.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I think so, but the publisher won't allow me to discuss it;)
What is your writing process?
My process is to get the words down on paper as quickly as my hands can follow my speed-demon mind.
How do you approach cover design?
I try to create covers with colors and text that grab attention. I was fortunate to have some art and design training (I'm told that this should typically be left to the pros).
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm a history and biography junkie. If the TV show or book isn't true, it's hard to keep my attention. Fiction has to be believable, non-fiction is beyond belief.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My laptop.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Bloggers and press releases.
Describe your desk
It is a miniature landfill of scraps of paper.
Published 2014-04-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

A Sky So Big
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 53,300. Language: English. Published: May 13, 2015 by Karl Beckstrand. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Clean & wholesome, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
A man and a woman, each searching for missing family members, clash amid a Nevada silver rush scheme that leaves both unsure who to trust--and scrambling to stay alive.
To Swallow the Earth
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 53,310. Language: English. Published: April 23, 2015 by Karl Beckstrand. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Western, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
A man and a woman, each searching for missing family members, clash amid a Nevada silver rush scheme that leaves both unsure who to trust--and scrambling to stay alive.
Four Bedtime Stories for Wide Awake Kids
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 510. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » People & Places / Polar Regions, Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Astronomy
Includes critically lauded Sounds in the House: A Mystery; Polar Bear Bowler: A Story Without Words; Why Juan Can’t Sleep; Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story. Includes finding, counting, and describing activities (ages 3 - 9 years). Humor, mystery, animals, stars, characters of color, and family fun
Four Activity Books: Fun & Learning for Families Vol. I
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 520. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Opposites
Critically acclaimed Sounds in the House: A Mystery, Polar Bear Bowler: A Story Without Words, Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm: It’s Not a Pretty Picture … Book; Arriba UP, Abajo Down at the Boardwalk--each with finding, counting, or reading activity (for ages 2 - 8 years). Humor, bears, characters of color, and family fun time
Four Activity Books Vol. II: Fun & Learning for Families
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 530. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Activity Books, Fiction » Children’s books » Science & Technology
Includes critically-lauded: Bad Bananas: A Story Cookbook for Kids; Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story; She Doesn’t Want the Worms: A Mystery; Why Juan Can’t Sleep--each with family learning activity from cooking, to finding constellations, to identifying insects (for ages 4 - 10 years). Humor, characters of color, and fun family time
Four Food Books for Children: Box Set with Recipes, Finding Activities & Online Secrets
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 1,240. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » Specific Ingredients / Fruit, Fiction » Children’s books » Activity Books
Includes critically-lauded: Bad Bananas: A Story Cookbook for Kids; Crumbs on the Stairs - Migas en las escaleras: A Mystery; Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm: It’s Not a Pretty Picture … Book; She Doesn’t Want the Worms: A Mystery--each with finding or cooking activity (humor and easy, low-sugar recipes for ages 4 - 10 years).
Four Children's Mysteries: Humor, Activities & Intrigue for Minors
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 510. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Activity Books, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
Includes best-sellers: Crumbs on the Stairs; She Doesn’t Want the Worms; Sounds in the House; and Why Juan Can’t Sleep; plus finding and counting activities
Four Spanish-English Children's Books - Cuatro libros bilingües para niños
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 930. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish, Fiction » Children’s books » Activity Books
Box set: bilingual books in Spanish & English with pronunciation guide and activities in both languages
Four Children's Books in Spanish (box set with pronunciation guide in English)
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 720. Language: Spanish. Published: December 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Words, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
Includes: Migas en las escaleras: Un Misterio, Ella no quiere los Gusanos, Ruidos en la casa: Un misterio, y Arriba, abajo en la playa –each with a counting or finding activity and pronunciation guide. Misterios y actividades divertidos para toda la familia.
Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm: It's Not a Pretty Picture ... Book
Series: Activity Books for Kids · Food Books for Children. Price: $3.01 USD. Words: 470. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Nursery Rhymes, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
When animals ruin Mrs. MacDonald’s catering business, Ma takes action--you can too with finding activities for ages 3 - 8.
Polar Bear Bowler: A Story Without Words
Series: Activity Books for Kids. Price: $3.01 USD. Words: 470. Language: English. Published: October 20, 2014 by Karl Beckstrand. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Fiction » Children’s books » People & Places / Polar Regions
A polar bear finds new friends and fun at the poles. You make up the words.
Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story
Series: Activity Books for Kids. Price: $3.11 USD. Words: 590. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Astronomy, Fiction » Children’s books » Science & Technology
A picture book about the night sky--activities include finding constellations, planets, the moon, sun, and other heavenly bodies. Expose your child to the starry skies (and a little space science for ages 4-9).
Why Juan Can't Sleep: A Mystery?
Series: Mini-mysteries for Minors, Book 4. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 440. Language: English. Published: December 4, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Activity Books, Fiction » Children’s books » Health & Daily Living / Daily Activities
Crazy day—of work and play—worn-out Juan “Must sleep!” A bedtime mystery--with finding activities and hilarious illustrations by Luis Sanz that aid comprehension and help build vocabulary (ages 4 - 10). Young and old will identify with this funny, spooky quest for rest.
Arriba, abajo en la playa
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 590. Language: Spanish. Published: December 4, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Opposites, Nonfiction » Children's Books » Foreign Language Study / Spanish
Includes Spanish pronunciation guide in English. Arriba, abajo es un libro de comparaciones en la playa (para niños de 2 – 7 años). Spanish activity book of contrasts and opposites for ages 2 - 7 years.
Ups & Downs at the Boardwalk
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 420. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Activity Books, Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Opposites
An activity book of contrasts and opposites, Ups & Downs includes finding and counting activities and vivid illustrations that aid comprehension and help build vocabulary (ages 2 - 8).
Arriba Up, Abajo Down at the Boardwalk
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books, Book 4 · Activity Books for Kids. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 660. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Opposites, Nonfiction » Children's Books » Foreign Language Study / Spanish
An activity book of contrasts and opposites in both Spanish and English--with text and pronunciation guide in both languages. Arriba Up includes finding and counting activities and vivid illustrations for language comprehension (2 years & up).
It Ain't Flat: A Memorizable Book of Countries
Price: Free! Words: 590. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Games and puzzles, Nonfiction » Education and Study Guides » Teaching methods & materials / arts & humanities
It Ain't Flat is a fun list of countries meant to be read aloud to facilitate easy memorization (or just entertaining reading).
She Doesn't Want the Worms! A Mystery - with online secrets
Series: Mini-mysteries for Minors · Food Books for Children. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 530. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Insects, Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories
Top ten "Best Books" of 2011 - ForeWord Reviews. An activity book about a girl who responds to some unusual animal gifts—that happen to be alive—She Doesn’t Want the Worms has finding & counting activities, online secrets and vivid illustrations of insects, reptiles, a cat and a bat for vocabulary development (ages 2 – 8)
Crumbs on the Stairs: A Mystery
Series: Mini-mysteries for Minors. Price: $2.35 USD. Words: 420. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Activity Books, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
WHERE did all the crumbs come from? WHY are there crumbs on the stairs? WHO is dropping crumbs everywhere?! An picture book with finding and counting activities--laughs, learning and family fun!
Sounds in the House! A Mystery
Series: Mini-mysteries for Minors. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 510. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Sounds, Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Emotions & Feelings
A funny bedtime story on fear, courage and friendship. Have you ever been scared by strange noises—sounds that seem to happen all by themselves? What could be causing those squeaks and bumps? Laughs, learning & family fun!
Bad Bananas: A Story Cookbook for Kids
Series: Activity Books for Kids · Food Books for Children. Price: $2.85 USD. Words: 910. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Interactive Adventures, Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » Desserts
"Bizarrely Funny!" - Horn Book blog. A wisecracking picture book on the short (shelf) life of a bunch of bruisers--with 7 yummy recipes to save families from "I'm bored" disease (muffins, smoothies, cookies, pancakes). While banana characters try crazy stunts and start turf wars, this cautionary cookbook offers easy hands-on activities for family fun (ages 4–12)
Ella no quiere los gusanos: Un misterio
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books · Spanish Children's Books, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 620. Language: Spanish. Published: November 1, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
Includes Spanish pronunciation guide in English Top 10 "Mejor Libros" de 2011 - ForeWord Reviews. ¿Quién regala gusanos — y POR QUÉ? En este misterio divertido por Karl Beckstrand toda la familia se va a reír aprendiendo a contar, y sobre el valor de compartir. Para cualquier edad (2 – 8 años), incluye actividades de búsqueda, una protagonista mulatta y dibujos.
Ruidos en la casa: Un misterio
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books · Spanish Children's Books, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 600. Language: Spanish. Published: October 25, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Sounds, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
Includes Spanish pronunciation guide in English Otro misterio divertido por Karl Beckstrand; toda la familia va a reírse aprendiendo sobre el temor, el valor y la amistad.
Migas en las escaleras: Un misterio
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books · Spanish Children's Books, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 630. Language: Spanish. Published: October 25, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
Includes Spanish pronunciation guide in English ¿De dónde vienen estas migas? ¿Quién está dejando migas en todas partes?! Otro misterio divertido por Karl Beckstrand. Toda la familia va a reírse aprendiendo a contar, y sobre el valor de compartir.
She Doesn't Want the Worms! Ella no quiere los gusanos: A Mystery
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books, Book 3 · Mini-mysteries for Minors, Book 3 · Spanish Children's Books · Activity Books for Kids. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 770. Language: English. Published: October 20, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
Top 10 "Best Books" of 2011 by ForeWord Reviews. An activity book about a girl who responds to some unusual animal gifts—that happen to be alive—She Doesn’t Want the Worms has text and a pronunciation guide in both English and Spanish. It includes finding and counting activities plus vivid illustrations of insects, reptiles, a cat and a bat for language comprehension (ages 3 years & up. SEE SECRE
Sounds in the House! Sonidos en la casa: A Mystery
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books, Book 1 · Mini-mysteries for Minors, Book 1 · Spanish Children's Books. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 840. Language: English. Published: October 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
Ever been scared by strange noises--sounds that seem to happen all by themselves? What could be causing those squeaks and bumps? Finally, a book that shows the causes of those creaks and thuds that scare young and old on dark nights; a funny bedtime story about fear, courage and friendship. Bilingual with Spanish-English pronunciation guide
Crumbs on the Stairs - Migas en las escaleras: A Mystery in English & Spanish
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books, Book 2 · Mini-mysteries for Minors, Book 2 · Spanish Children's Books · Activity Books for Kids · Food Books for Children. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 660. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish, Fiction » Children’s books » Entertainment
An activity picture book with full text and pronunciation guide in both English & Spanish, Crumbs on the Stairs has counting and finding activities, simple words for early readers, and vivid illustrations to aid language learning at any age (2 years & up).