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Friday, June 15, 2012

Margot, Taconi and Claude

is an Aussie transplant living in the Northwest with her
family.  She is a writer of middle grade fiction and picture books who began
writing seriously when her youngest left for college.  Currently she has eleven
books published, maintains a wonderful website that is chockablock full
of fabulous writing information, advice and humor.  She runs a manuscript critique service
It's safe to say Margot Finke is a busy woman.
But there's more to Margot than her accent, work ethic and varied abilities.
She's nice too.
Yep, in a business where deadlines and time crunches are the norm
and competition reigns supreme, Margot Finke is nice.
She not only is willing to answer any questions about writing, she
encourages the questions.  She wants to share what she knows and set a writer on
the right path.
And did I mention she writes too?

Margot graciously agreed to allow me to review her book
Taconi and Claude
(Link for sample chapters)

She also agreed to allow me to pick her brain a bit to see if I could discover
her secrets for writing such a nail biter.

Taconi and Claude is the story of a young aboriginal boy on the brink of manhood
living in the 1950s Australian outback.   Taconi's world consists of wild beauty,
exotic creatures and Dreamtime spirits, but also of confusing questions,
danger and a cocky cockatoo named Claude who has a knack for delivering
one-line zingers at all the right (wrong?) times.  Taconi calls Coorparoo Cattle Station home yet feels drawn to his tribe and the old ways.  Problems plague his young life but not the usual kind...a mad medicine man, a party bashing emu and his upcoming "man ceremony" are just a few
of the trials and tribulations he and his sidekick must face.  Throw in a nest of stinging green ants,
a bucket of creepy crawling whitchetty grubs and 12 escaped yabbies and, well,
what's a boy to do?

I suggest if you have a boy, if you know a boy, if you are a boy, if you like Australia,
adventure, excitement, creepy crawlers, danger, excellent writing and/or
a good universal coming of age story, read
 Taconi and Claude Double Trouble
Taconi and Claude Double Trouble
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-61633-130-6; 1616331305
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61633-131-3; 1616331313
Guardian Angel Publishing
Available at

I loved this book.  The skillful writing, suspense, and exciting description of the wild outback
was easy and fun to read.  I think anyone would find plenty to like about Taconi
and his wacky friend Claude, boys in particular.  If you have or know a reluctant reader,
Taconi and Claude, Double Trouble might just be the ticket.  It's a page turner that you won't put
down till the last page!

Margot agreed to answer a few questions for me:

1. Margot, in the short time I have been writing seriously, I have found the children's book writing community to be extremely supportive and one more than you! In a business as competitive and difficult to break into as publishing, why do you think this is true?
I think this has to do with the kind of people who write for children. Children’s writers seem more concerned, nurturing and family oriented. Many are teachers or librarians: often retired. When I first started writing seriously, I found the same thing as you: people were kind and generous about helping me learn the writing rules. They mentored me well, until I found my own pathway to children’s writing. Several ladies, far more advanced than me, took me under their wing, and I am eternally grateful for their help and encouragement. Children’s writers “pass it along.” You help them, and they in turn feel it is their job to do the same for someone else. Writing for children is looked upon more as a way of offering stories with life lessons that can help, guide, yet still be fun to read.
2. Your book Taconi and Claude takes place in Australia. I know you often refer to yourself as an Aussie transplant, tell me more about your connection to Australia and why we all seem to be so fascinated with that part of the world.
I spent the first half of my life in Queensland, Australia. Then I met and married a man from New York. We came across the Pacific and settled in Oregon, where Alan once went to college. Several of the rhyming picture books in my Wild and Wonderful series are about Aussie animals. Taconi and Claude is set in the outback of 1950 – a coming of age adventure about a young aboriginal boy who has big decisions to make about his future. A sequel will be coming out later this year.
I agree, everyone I meet says they want to visit Down-under – the land of the didgeridoo, boomerangs, crocodiles, kangaroos and platypus. It is one of the most ancient pieces of land, and their critters are awesomely strange and appealing. I guess the answer is wrapped up somewhere in that lot.
3. Most children's lit writers aspire to be published. It may not be the only reason we write, but it's certainly one of the biggies. What do you believe is the biggest mistake writers make that delays or even prevents a writer from winning that elusive contract?
#1- they don’t read enough books in the genre they plan to write.
#2 – they are not in a critique group that can help them fine tune their writing, Things like a weak plot, character enrichment, and not using powerful and active words can be missed by writers. The fresh eyes of a good crit group can pinpoint where a manuscript needs tightening and strengthening.
#3 – Giving up too soon. The writer who perseveres and keeps reworking and re-subbing their manuscript is the writer who will finally become a published author. Rejections are the badges of honor we get as we climb the ladder to publication.
#4 – Not researching publishers enough. So many get rejected because they send their MS to a publisher that is not interested in their topic, their style, or their genre. Check those submission guidelines, and also the publisher’s current list of books, to make sure YOUR book fits with their list.
And now, three quickies...
1. Agent or no agent? Why?
No agent. In the beginning, a long time ago, I would have killed for an agent. Then I began having success on my own. If a great agent came along I would be happy to have them represent me. Until then I will manage for myself.
2. Coffee or tea?
Coffee. A great cup of coffee is one of life’s ultimate pleasures. . . Mmmmmm!
3. Favorite children's book of all time?
Alice in Wonderland. I devoured that book as a child.
Sharon, thanks for letting me spend time with you and your kind readers.

As a special treat, Margot offered a FREE STORY to blog readers!

Taconi and Claude's 21st Century Adventure

Here are some places you can read more about Margot Finke, her writing
and her services.

* My WEBSITE: lists my books, illustrations, book trailers and reviews, as well as my Manuscript Critique Service, plus lots of help for writers.

* Margot’s Magic Carpet: all my books on the one page, plus links to my website, read sample chapters and sample verses of all my books.

Perfect Magic Carpet

Books available through Amazon, B and N, Publishers, etc.
*Autographed books through my website.

Wild and Wonderful - rhyming e-series

4x Soft Cover Books -


  1. WOW! Your did me proud, fairdinkum, mate.

    Thanks for doing this, and saying all those lovely things about me and my "Taconi and Claude." Hugs from all three of us.

    And please, folks, do download my free short adventure. It throws characters from my 3 latest books into a fun Down-under adventure.

    *Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

    1. I should thank you Margot! I do so much appreciate your's so fun to meet nice people!

  2. Wow,that was a wonderful interview and review Margot. Sharon Stanley certainly covered it all. Thanks so much for the download.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Susan. Margot is the best!

  3. Susam I am so happy you enjoyed the interview and Sharon'a super review. Do let me know how you liked my short adventure FREEBY. i had such fun writing it.

    *Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques

  4. So enjoyed hearing more from Margot and with my passion for other cultures far removed from my own, I know I would enjoy this aboriginal story.

  5. Margot, it's always great to learn more about you. I am one of those persons who would love to visit Australia. Two years ago I met a fellow traveler on a bus tour through the British Isles who is from Australia. She's coming to the states and I will get to see her in July.
    G'day, Mate.
    Thanks, Sharon.

    1. Lucky you Barbara! Enjoy your visit in July, and thanks for stopping by.

  6. Love this book and the author. I Facebooked it. =0)

    ReplyDelete happy to hear from you.........