first toured with WOW! with the release of her first book in her Chronicles of the Stone series, and now she's back with the second installment, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, which one reviewer described as being "filled with action and adventure, puzzles and ghostly presences, and stalwart companions ready to face any and all perils that come their way."
Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archaeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur.
However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?
Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped.
Paperback: 378 pages (also available in e-format)
Publisher: The Educational Publisher / Biblio Publishing (October 6, 2014)
The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is available as a print and e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.
Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, January 23 at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!
Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—The Chronicles of the Stone. This was inspired by a family trip the author took with her mom and two young nephews aged ten and twelve at the time. The book began as a short story for her nephews and grew from there. The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is a treat for young King Arthur fans. Fiona is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, set in Mexico.
While writing The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, Fiona fostered (and later adopted) a young African child from a disadvantaged background. Her daughter became the inspiration for the little heroine, Kim, in The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Interestingly, the fictional character’s background and social problems are reflected in the book as Kim learns to deal with life. Fiona’s experiences in teaching her daughter to read and to enjoy books also inspired many of her articles on child literacy and getting kids to love reading.
Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/fiona.robyn.ingram
------Interview by Renee Roberson
WOW: You originally toured with WOW! to promote your first book in this series, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, and since then you’ve earned scores of contest wins and nominations. Can you give us an overview of a few of them?
Fiona: I have been very fortunate to win or be nominated for 11 book awards, and this truly made a big difference to how people viewed my books. It enabled me to get a traditional publisher (Biblio Publishing) for my second book, and also a Japanese publisher for Book 1. The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has been translated into Japanese and is now available in print in that country. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, here’s the list of wins and nominations.
- Finalist Children's Fiction USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
- Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
- Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers' Favorite Awards
- Number 2 in the USA Children's & Teens Book Connection Top Ten Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens & Teens
- Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
- Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
- Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
- Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
- Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards
- 2nd Place in the 2011 YA Sharpwrit Book Awards
- Gold Medal 2013 Wise Bear Book Awards Winner
WOW: I am so impressed! And now very motivated to get back to my own MG and YA manuscripts, but that's another story . . . You seem like you've always possessed a very vivid imagination. I love the story on your website about the story you developed at age 10 as a way to entertain your younger brothers and their friends—can you share that anecdote with our readers?
Fiona: In the ‘olden days’ in South Africa (which only got television in 1976), my parents (like many parents then) expected us five children to entertain ourselves. We had toys, a big garden, and lots of books, and we had each other. Night times were the best times because having a midnight feast was one of the pleasures of being in a big family. We’d get all set up with snacks and then I’d tell stories to my four brothers and their friends, plus the little girl next door who practically lived at our house. Of course the stories were dark and dangerous, populated with monsters like vampires, werewolves, skeletons and basically anything that could be considered as belonging to the class of the ‘undead.’ The setting was, by popular vote, an old castle called Gruesome Gables, and we were (of course) the young heroes. I never ran out of adventures and we always escaped. Later we graduated to ‘dinner theatre’ which was enormous fun. I realise now how patient and long-suffering my parents were. We would adapt stories from children’s books into plays, create a menu (my mom would have to get the ingredients), cook the food, write the play and act it out. My parents also had to pay an entrance fee for the ‘entertainment.’ Those were some of the happiest times of our lives.
WOW: In our original interview with you, you described how it took you about three years from the initial writing of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab to your decision to publish with iUniverse. How long was the process this time around for The Search for the Stone of Excalibur?
Fiona: Happily, as a writer I found that writing gets easier the more you write. When I wrote Book 1, I overwrote to a large degree. I put so much into that adventure that it would have ended up being enormous in print. That was basically my learning curve. I also had a full-time job in publishing so my time to write was limited. My wonderful mother, sadly now deceased, made everything possible for me by asking me to give up my job (stressful and exhausting) and stay at home to write and keep her company since she had become a bit frail. She supported me and enabled me to just push ahead with writing. Writing the second book took about two years, but publishing was delayed because of Mom’s health and her demise. All my books are dedicated to her. Without her incredible help I would not be where I am today.
WOW: Your mother sounds like she was a very wise and amazing woman, and very supportive! Your books are full of rich characters, historical references and mythology, which obviously requires a lot of research before the writing even begins. What is that process like for you?
Fiona: I absolutely love research and my own personal interests have dictated much of my choices. I already have either read around the topics I tackle or else have loads of books on various subjects. Interestingly enough, about halfway though Book 1, I began to see other plots arising and then decided to create a series. I did so much research then that clearly the four years I took to write it was well spent because by the end I had mapped out the remaining books, plots, locations and (very important) historical figures and ancient artifacts that play a part.
WOW: The first book in the Chronicles of the Stone series is set in Egypt, and The Search for the Stone of Excalibur carries the main characters into Britain. From what I understand the next book will take place in Central America. Have you physically traveled to all the places in your books, and if so, did your travels play a large part in deciding where to set the books in the series?
Fiona: Interestingly, while I was writing Book 1, I jaunted off to Britain to tour the castles in Scotland. It was fabulous and inspiring. I had an idea I wanted my subsequent books to unfold in different locations, using history, geography and archaeology as the foundations of my plots. For Britain, think King Arthur. For Book 3, I wanted something completely different and exotic. I am a big fan of Mayan and Aztec history so I thought, given such a rich and amazing history, it would be perfect. I so wish I could travel to all the places, but sadly the state of the South African rand does not allow me at the moment. I watch documentaries, communicate with experts in various subjects, and just hope my books do well enough for me to pack my bags and globetrot! I think my abiding interest in ancient history has played a significant part in my choices for future book locations. There is so much to offer young readers.
WOW: I agree--there really is! We’d love to hear about your decision to adopt your daughter Mabel, who is from another race group, and how having her as part of your family highlighted the need for diverse characters in children’s literature.
Fiona: Mabel arrived in my life the year my mom and I went to Egypt with my two young nephews. About three months after this trip, I had a visit from a domestic worker who had worked for me a few years back—she had a problem. She arrived with her daughter Mabel, now aged eleven. I remembered Mabel as an enchanting child aged six, all arms and legs and a big smile. But I got married, Josephine left my employ, and we didn’t see each other for another five years. Josephine came straight to the point and asked me to foster Mabel so she could get a better education.
Thinking for the briefest of nano-seconds that nothing would change, I said yes. Of course, everything changed. I developed maternal feelings worthy of a lioness guarding her cubs from danger. I also became an expert on the shortcomings of our ever-changing education system, the life-cycle of any insect, reptile, or bird you care to mention, and in anything to help my foster child get an education. Mabel had already failed Grade 2, was advised to repeat Grade 4, and was basically illiterate. How is that possible, I asked myself? I began the slow and often painful task of teaching her all over again, supplemented by many extra lessons.
Mabel baulked at first, having never had to apply her mind or develop motivation. She’d been told so many times she was a failure—what else was there to look forward to? Eight years later, she was scoring 70-80% in most of her subjects, had plans to be a writer (just like me!) and is an amazingly well-adjusted, charming, sunny-tempered young lady with a delightful sense of humour. She is a credit to her mother, Josephine, and to me, her Paper Mom (as she calls me, since I am legally her ‘mom’ on paper). I adopted Mabel in February 2009 at the specific request of both her parents, since they believe that with me she will “have a real life.” Those are her mother’s words, one of the bravest women I have ever known, for who else but a courageous and unselfish woman would willingly give her child to someone else for that child’s sake. Mabel has a bright future and I am proud to be part of it.
Interestingly, Mabel and my youngest nephew (then ten) bonded and since I had already begun writing the second book and getting my plot and characters together, I was intrigued by this. Almost without my knowing it, the plot called for an extra hero, actually a heroine. I found that including a young girl from a disadvantaged background brought home to me, and I hope young readers, the need for children to see how other people live. My nephews, who enjoyed all the advantages of good education and a nice lifestyle, were utterly shocked that Mabel came from such humble and poverty-stricken origins. The whole experience brought home to me the need for including diversity in my children’s adventure stories and I find that as the plots unfold the messages come through loud and clear.
WOW: I know there are several bloggers on your tour who agree with the need for diversity in children's books! Like so many writers, you wear many different hats. Can you tell us little about the other genres you write?
Fiona: I am a big fan of Regency romance and cut my teeth on Jane Austen and other well known authors in that genre. One day my mother said she was tired of reading ‘the same old stuff’ from a big publisher of the genre and she was sure I could do better. So, to entertain her, I wrote my first Regency romance and completely by accident found a traditional publisher. They loved the book and then asked me if I had more stories. I said no, but I can write more if you like. I write under the suitably charming name Arabella Sheraton and writing those books was huge fun. My animal books fall under my own label, Caladrius Books. Basically, I find a sad-to-glad story about a rescued animal, and write about its journey back to health and happiness. I include serious material for adults, and then always a poem and a wonderful short adventure, starring the animal (written of course by the animal!) for young readers, plus tips on animal and pet care advice. The proceeds go towards the rescue site that saved the animal. It’s heartbreaking but so many stories like this abound, where an animal is saved only by loving, caring animal advocates. There’s no shortage of material. My aim is to hopefully write books that parents can use to show kids how important the qualities of love, compassion and respect for the animal kingdom are in our lives.
WOW: How do you juggle writing both for children and romance novels? Do you find it challenging? I’m curious if you are able to work on different manuscripts simultaneously or if you tackle one project at a time.
Fiona: I do a bit of everything, in between teaching online novel writing and editing book reviews for a big book review site in the USA. While Mom was alive I forged ahead mostly with books for her to read. Having done seven Regency books now (available on Amazon), I have put them on the back burner for a bit. I have started a YA fantasy novel which is a new direction for me. Basically I do a big push on outlining and getting all my material ready, then I move between projects so I don’t get stuck or bored. I also find time away from a project results in my looking at it with fresh eyes.
WOW: How is book number three in the series coming along?
Fiona: Fabulously. My gifted artist Lori Bentley is working on the cover and interior images, and I am about to send the text to my editor. Hopefully, I’ll be doing another blog tour with WOW! very soon!
----------Blog Tour Dates
Monday, January 19 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview with Fiona Ingram and a chance to win The Search for the Stone of Excalibur!
Wednesday, January 21 @ Margo L. Dill, Children's and YA Author: Be Unique. Be Strong. Be Yourself.
Children's author Fiona Ingram discusses how to get children to enjoy reading in a world filled with electronic media in this informative guest post.
Thursday, January 22 @ Words by Webb
Jodi reviews Fiona Ingram's The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, book two in "The Chronicles of the Stone" series.
Friday, January 23 @ Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
Stop by for an interview with Fiona Ingram.
Monday, January 26 @ Writing Room 101
Fiona Ingram shares "Five Fun Facts About The Chronicles of the Stone" series with the readers of Writing Room 101. Plus, an interview!
Wednesday, January 28 @ PragmaticMom
Author Fiona Ingram stops by the PragmaticMom blog with a guest post on how teachers can assist children in writing creatively.
Thursday, January 29 @ Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi
So you’ve published your first book for young readers—what’s next? Fiona Ingram shares tips for marketing your children's book.
Wednesday, February 4 @ Cathy C. Hall
Stop by for an enlightening guest post on the importance of diversity in children's books by Fiona Ingram, author of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur.
Thursday, February 5 @ Writer with Dogs
Always ready to make a difference, Fiona Ingram discusses how she uses her talents writing for children to also help animal rescue organizations.
Friday, February 6 @ Carpinello's Writing Pages
Author Cheryl Carpinello shares her review of Fiona Ingram's novel The Search for the Stone of Excalibur.
Monday, February 9 @ Building Bookshelves
Jodi interviews Fiona Ingram about her latest book in "The Chronicles of Stone" series at Building Bookshelves.
Thursday, February 12 @ Renee's Pages
Renee offers her thoughts on The Search for the Stone of Excalibur.
Friday, February 13 @ Children's and Teen's Book Connection
Cheryl Malandrinos of the Children's and Teen's Book Connection blog reviews The Search for the Stone of Excalibur.
If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enter to win a copy of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget this Friday, January 23.
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