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

The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living
Price: Free! Words: 1,530. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Money, Fiction » Children’s books » Business, Careers, Occupations
(Career/Business picture book) A child with a knack for solving problems helps some hungry fish and finds a treasure. Illustrated Asian folk tale teaches the value of work and includes career ideas and online resources by former Silicon Valley recruiter Karl Beckstrand (for ages 4+). 530 words, 26 pages
Anna's Prayer: The True Story of an Immigrant Girl
Price: $3.05 USD. Words: 760. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Woman biographies, Nonfiction » History » North America
(Nonfiction) Young Anna arrives in 1880s America alone and unable to speak English. She prays for someone who will understand her. The answer to her prayer goes beyond what she could have hoped. A delightful tale of courage and faith for all ages (4 yrs. & up, 1,000 words, 30 illustrations)
Butterfly Blink: A Book Without Words
Series: Stories Without Words, Book 2. Price: $3.01 USD. Words: 830. Language: English. Published: March 17, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Insects
(Wordless, insects) Winner of Promoting Picture Books’ Art Cover Contest. A wordless picture book fantasy that helps kids cement vocabulary. Blink—and they multiply. Blink—and they’re gone! Includes habitat conservation info and characters of color (ages 2 – 6, 24 illustrations)
The Dancing Flamingos of Lake Chimichanga
Price: $3.01 USD. Words: 580. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Fiction » Children’s books » Performing Arts / Dance
(Humor) 5 glowing Amazon Vine Voice reviews! Quirky birds with a zest for life, revel, feast, and dance on the shores of a shimmering lake. Counting activity for ages 3 – 6 (24 illustrations, book/ebook)
A Sky So Big
Price: $3.65 USD. Words: 53,300. Language: English. Published: May 13, 2015 by Karl Beckstrand. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Clean & wholesome, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Western
Winner: 2016 International Book Award & Laramie finalist (Romance, suspense, clean). A strong woman and a Latino man clash amid a Nevada silver rush scheme. What if you came home and your family was gone, someone else was in your house—and trying to kill you? Is the killer her ally or her enemy? Diverse characters, paperback & ebook with short story, 54,000 words, 200 pages
To Swallow the Earth
Price: $3.65 USD. Words: 53,320. Language: English. Published: April 23, 2015 by Karl Beckstrand. Categories: Fiction » Western, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Adventure
Winner: 2016 International Book Award & Laramie finalist (Western survival/suspense, clean) A tough young woman and a Latino man raised by American Indians are each searching for missing family in a Nevada silver rush land scare that leaves each unsure who to trust—and scrambling to stay alive. Paperback & ebook, Includes short story. 54,000 words, 200 pages
4 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
4 Activity Books: Fun & Learning for Families Vol. I
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 770. 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
4 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
4 Food Books for Kids: with Recipes, Finding Activities & Online Secrets
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 1,500. 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).
4 Mysteries for Kids: 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
4 Spanish-English Books for Kids - 4 libros bilingües para niños: With English-Spanish Pronunciation Guide
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 1,210. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish, Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Words
(Language learning) 4 libros bilingües para niños. Comes with Spanish-English pronunciation guide, beginning vocabulary, finding and counting activities (ages 3+/ESL), multicultural picture books (hard/soft/ebook), about 1,200 words, 100 illustrations, ISBN: 978-0985398897
4 Spanish Books for Kids - 4 libros para niños (with pronunciation guide in English)
Price: $3.75 USD. Words: 980. Language: Spanish. Published: December 22, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Words, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
(Language learning) includes pronunciation guide in English and finding and counting activities / actividades de búsqueda y de contar, protagonistas Hispanos (ages 3 - 8), soft cover picture books with characters of color (ebook too), 100 illustrations, about 1,200 words / palabras, ISBN: 978-1505671704
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: 710. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Nursery Rhymes, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(Humor) When animals ruin Mrs. MacDonald’s catering business, Ma takes action--you can too with finding activity for ages 3 - 7. Soft cover and ebook, 32 illustrations
Polar Bear Bowler: A Story Without Words
Series: Activity Books for Kids · Stories Without Words, Book 1. Price: $2.35 USD. Words: 710. 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 story. (Stories Without Words series, Vol. 1)
Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story
Series: Activity Books for Kids. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 730. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2014. Categories: Nonfiction » Science and Nature » Astronomy, Fiction » Children’s books » Science & Technology
A STEM picture book that accompanies an American Indian child in finding constellations, stars, and other heavenly bodies (ages 4 - 9). Expose your child to the starry skies, Monument Valley, and a little space science. 30 illustrations, (hard or soft cover too)
Why Juan Can't Sleep: A Mystery?
Series: Mini-mysteries for Minors, Book 4. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 690. 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: Un libro de opuestos (with pronunciation guide in English)
Series: Spanish Children's Books, Book 4. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 900. 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: A Picture Book of Opposites
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 750. 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: A Picture Book of Opposites (in English & Spanish)
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books, Book 4 · Activity Books for Kids · Spanish Children's Books. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 750. Language: English. Published: August 20, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Opposites, Nonfiction » Children's Books » Foreign Language Study / Spanish
(Bilingual, opposites) Life’s a ball of fun! A multicultural activity book in Spanish and English—with pronunciation guide in both languages. Set in California’s historic Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (ages 2+, ELS, 36 illustrations) ISBN: 978-0615688237
It Ain't Flat: A Memorizable Book of Countries
Price: Free! Words: 910. Language: English. Published: November 25, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Games and puzzles, Nonfiction » Education and Study Guides » Teaching methods & materials / arts & humanities
(4.50)
A fun list of countries meant to be read aloud to facilitate easy memorization (or 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: 850. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Children's Books » Insects, Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories
(Humor, bilingual) Top 10 Best Books of 2011 – ForeWord Reviews. A STEM book about a bi-racial girl who responds to some unusual animal gifts--that happen to be alive. Includes full text and pronunciation guide in both English and Spanish, finding activity, and online secrets (3+ years for ESL, 24 illustrations),
Crumbs on the Stairs: A Mystery
Series: Mini-mysteries for Minors. Price: $2.35 USD. Words: 850. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Activity Books, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
(Humor, bilingual) WHERE did all the crumbs come from? A Hispanic boy takes readers on a finding and counting search for the crumb culprit. Multicultural activity book (ages 2 - 7, 24 illustrations, soft cover/ebook)
Sounds in the House! A Mystery
Series: Mini-mysteries for Minors. Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 860. Language: English. Published: November 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Sounds, Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Emotions & Feelings
(Humor) “Suspenseful without ever getting too intense for younger readers." - Kirkus Reviews. Ever been scared by strange noises? A scaredy-cat dog faces his fears. Nothing to fear; just laughs here! (ages 3 - 7, 24 illustrations)
Bad Bananas: A Story Cookbook for Kids
Series: Activity Books for Kids · Food Books for Children. Price: $2.85 USD. Words: 1,430. 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 (with pronunciation guide in English)
Series: Spanish Children's Books, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 930. 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 (3 – 7 años), incluye actividades de búsqueda, una protagonista mulatta y dibujos.
Ruidos en la casa: Un misterio (with pronunciation guide in English)
Series: Spanish Children's Books, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 990. Language: Spanish. Published: October 25, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Concepts / Sounds, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
Includes Spanish pronunciation guide in English (ages 3 - 7) 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 (with pronunciation guide in English)
Series: Spanish Children's Books, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 950. Language: Spanish. Published: October 25, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Activity Books, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
(Humor, Spanish) ¿De dónde vienen estas migajas? A Hispanic child takes readers on a finding and counting search for the crumb culprit. Includes Spanish pronunciation guide in English. (ages 2 - 7, soft cover/ebook, 24 illustrations)
She Doesn't Want the Worms! Ella no quiere los gusanos: A Mystery in Spanish & English
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books, Book 3 · Mini-mysteries for Minors, Book 3 · Spanish Children's Books · Activity Books for Kids. Price: $3.05 USD. Words: 1,080. Language: English. Published: October 20, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
(Humor, bilingual) Top 10 Best Books of 2011 – ForeWord Reviews. A STEM book about a bi-racial girl who responds to some unusual animal gifts--that happen to be alive. Includes full text and pronunciation guide in both English and Spanish, finding and counting activities, and online secrets (3+ years for ESL, 24 illustrations)
Sounds in the House! Sonidos en la casa: A Mystery in English & Spanish
Series: Bilingual Spanish Children's Books, Book 1 · Mini-mysteries for Minors, Book 1 · Spanish Children's Books. Price: $3.05 USD. Words: 1,130. Language: English. Published: October 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Emotions & Feelings, Nonfiction » Language Instruction » Spanish
(Humor, bilingual) “Suspenseful without ever getting too intense for younger readers." - Kirkus Reviews. Ever been scared by strange noises? A scaredy-cat dog faces his fears. Nothing to fear; just laughs here! Spanish-English with pronunciation guide (ages 3 & up, ESL, 24 illustrations) ISBN: 978-0985398873
Crumbs on the Stairs - Migas en las escaleras: A Mystery in English & Spanish (4.00)
(Humor, bilingual) Multicultural finding/counting book with full text and pronunciation guide in both English and Spanish. WHERE did all the crumbs come from? ¿De dónde vienen estas migajas? (ages 2+, ESL, 24 illustrations) 978-0977606504