Hello.  I would like to welcome my guest blogger today, Lisa Orchard.  Here is a short bio, so you can get to know her a little before you read her post:

     Lisa Orchard grew up loving books. She was hooked on mysteries by the fifth grade and even wrote a few of her own. She knew she wanted to be a writer even then.  “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” is the second book in the “Super Spies” series. Her first book was published in March of 2012 and it has received rave reviews. 

  After graduating from Central Michigan University with a Marketing Degree she spent many years in the insurance industry, pining to express her creative side.  The decision to stay home with her children gave her the opportunity to follow her dream and become a writer. She currently resides in Rockford Michigan with her husband, Steve, and two wonderful boys. Currently, she’s working on the third novel that stars the same quirky teens. When she’s not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, running, hiking, and reading.

Hello Everyone, I hope all is well with you today! My name is Lisa Orchard and I’m the Young Adult Author of the Super Spies Mystery/Thriller Series. I’m a guest of Jodi’s and I would like to thank her for giving me the opportunity to be here. I’d like to talk about a topic that’s near and dear to my heart and that is the literacy problems that we have in the US today.

According to an article in USA Today a federal study has found that an estimated thirty two million adults are saddled with such low literacy skills that it would be tough for them to read anything more challenging than a children’s picture book or to understand a medication’s side effects listed on a pill bottle.  For more information from this article click here: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-01-08-adult-literacy_N.htm

I find this alarming, don’t you?  The statistics for our youth are just as bad. According to RIF.org http://www.rif.org/us/about/literacy-issues.htm  nearly forty percent of US fourth graders do not achieve basic levels of reading proficiency. The number is higher among low income families, certain minority groups, and English language learners.

So, how can we turn this around?  That is a very good question and as I ponder it the memory of a conversation with my second grader comes to mind. We were getting ready to do his reading homework and he was grumbling that he really didn’t want to do it.  Feeling frustrated, I started to argue with him and then I stopped and asked him, “Why don’t you want to read tonight?”

He looked at me and said, “Because these books are boring.”

“Well…did you tell your teacher that?”

He shook his head. “No…she would get upset.”

I just stumbled upon part of the problem. Some of these books that schools are requiring students to read just don’t interest them. And with no interest in the subject reading becomes a “pain” and the young student’s motivation turns to dread. With all the millions of books in the world I’m sure we could find topics that would be interesting to our young readers.  Why can’t we offer them choices? I feel that offering our little chickadees a choice and letting them pick a topic they like would be a step in the right direction. It would solve the motivation issues that seem to be a problem with our reluctant readers.

As I pondered this I thought, what if all of the students were given e-readers? Look at all the books available today that are in e-book format. I’m sure we could find something to please even the pickiest reader. I know what you’re thinking…that’s kind of unrealistic.  Or is it?

When you think about it…look at the cost of a paperback versus the cost of an e-book. I mean educators will be making up the difference in cost relatively quickly.

And while we’re at it…why don’t we put text books in e-book format? Can you imagine the savings for educators in that arena? With our educators trying to cut costs I think that e-readers represent a viable solution.

Did you know that Scholastic has an e-reader right now? It’s called Storia and parents can get most of the books available from Scholastic in e-book format.

 I see E-books as the wave of the future and if our schools hop on board maybe we can turn this literacy problem around. What do you think? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you! J

You can find more information about Lisa Orchard at her website. www.lisaorchard.com

Buylinks for her books:

“The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer”
    Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Super-Spies-Lady-Killer-ebook/dp/B007JZH61K
  Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-super-spies-and-the-cat-lady-killer-lisa-orchard/1109518725?ean=2940014338202

“The Super Spies and the High School Bomber”
    Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Super-Spies-School-Bomber-ebook/dp/B008P8O7OY
    Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-super-spies-and-the-high-school-bomber-lisa-orchard/1112263058?ean=2940014992244

And both of my books are now available as audio books too!

“The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer”

“The Super Spies and the High School Bomber”

     This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission.  The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying…

     This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Still reeling from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. She decides to investigate. The FBI arrives on the scene. Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. To make matters worse, the bombers are determined to finish the job. Can the Super Spies find the bombers before it’s too late?

Lisa and I think there is a fine line when it comes to subjecting children to violence, so she wrote this disclaimer:  ****Note to parents:  My book topics discuss violent occurrences, but they are not violent in nature. These stories are in no way graphic in detail. In fact, many reviewers have stated that these books could be read by middle graders. I have found that they are best suited for ages 9-16.   Astraea Press, my publisher, only publishes “clean” fiction. This means that there is no swearing or questionable content in my stories.

The covers and titles are bold to grab the readers attention.

Each story has a life lesson weaved through it. In “The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer” the lesson is basically, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

In “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” the lesson is the negative effects of steroids. Sorry…I didn’t mean to spoil the story for you. J

If you have any questions or concerns you can contact me via my social media links or by e-mail, you can find my contact information at my website.

A Thank You and a Note:

     Lisa and I want to say that our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the horrific tornado in Oklahoma on Monday.
     I would like to thank Lisa for coming!  Lisa, you did a great job!  I hope you felt welcomed and will stop by again some time.
     Lisa and I both welcome your comments.  So, please feel free to let us know what you think of the post.  Thank you.
     I would like to announce the Mother's Day Giveaway I am participating in.  Some other wonderful authors and I are having a giveaway this Sunday for some of our books.  I hope that you take advantage of all giveaways and enjoy the books!
  My two books are going to be free in Kindle version this Sunday/Mother's Day!  They are:
     And, like I said, there are other authors who are giving away some of their books as well.  Please visit the following authors at the following links for more information:
*Virginia Wright at http://www.virginiawright.com/blog
*Dennis Higgins at http://www.timepilgrims.com/blog.html  
*Laura Wintczak at http://www.lauraeckroat.blogspot.com 
*Sherry Ellis at      https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/103138
(Free:  That Mama is a Grouch and That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN.  You can find That Mama is a Grouch at Smashwords... use coupon code GP25M... valid until May 13th.)
*Joe McCarthy at http://www.josephmccarthybooks.webs.com/
*Launa McNeilly at http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.smashwords.com%2Fbooks%2Fview%2F7829&h=2AQG5codN
Lies In a Season of Tribulation (eBook giveaway) available at Smashwords with this code ( XG35B ) Enjoy!!! May 12, 2013 (1) day only!

     Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the educators out there.  Please visit my other blog for yet another giveaway at http://duolearning.weebly.com/duo-education-learning-blog.html#.UYqeD6X3AzY!  Feel free to sign up for an email subscription and explore the site!
     Happy Mother's Day (a bit early) to all the mothers out there!
     If you are an author and would like to be interviewed, please contact me:  /contact-me.html.
     I'd like to thank everyone!

My book is now 

     My second book, "Johnny's Adventure Makes Reading Fun" should be available soon in a brand new format!  It is the same great words, with the same wonderful illustrations....just an all new format!  I ordered my proof today.  It is expected to be available online in soft cover and on Kindle by the end of the week.  I will keep you all posted.  

     "Clarinda Cloud" is released today!  Yay!!!!  It is available immediately at http://www.createspace.com/4083283, within hours on Kindle, and within days at Amazon.com and other online retailers.
     It is a concept book on feelings and colors for children ages 1-5.  The text is simple, repetitive, and interactive.  The illustrations are whimsical, charming, and colorful.
     It is a must have for parents, grandparents, educators, caregivers, and counselors wanting to discuss and teach colors and feelings with young children!

     I am hoping to create a word search book containing to pages like this of various authors and illustrators.  If anyone is interested, please contact me.  Each author or illustrator would submit a short bio, contact information, and possible words or phrases for search words.  I would create the word searches and the book for a small fee.  It would be like having a business card in a word search book.  We all would market and promote the book!  Win/win/win!

     I am having another giveaway on Kindle for my books on Ground Hog Day, February 2nd.  Two other wonderful authors are going to be joining me- - Virginia Wright (check out her site at http://virginiawright.com) and Dennis Higgins - Author.  Between the three of us, multiple books will be free on Kindle.  
     My book, "Johnny's Adventure Makes Reading Fun" will be free on Kindle for one day only on February 2nd._  If "Clarinda Cloud" is published, it will be free on Kindle as well.  I will keep people posted.
     Mark  your calendars and check out the free books on Kindle on February 2nd.
     I just ordered my proof copy for my new book, "Clarinda Cloud."  I should get it within a few days.  It won't be long before "Clarinda Cloud" will be available online and on Kindle!  I am getting excited!  "Clarinda Cloud" is the first book that I have written, illustrated, and formatted from cover to cover!  
     I am running a promotion on Kindle today!  My book, "Johnny's Adventure Makes Reading Fun" is available free today only on Kindle!  Check it out. http://www.amazon.com/Johnnys-Adventure-Makes-Reading-ebook/dp/B00ALKLK6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1358094652&sr=8-2&keywords=Johnny%27s+Adventure+Makes+Reading+Fun