Karl Beckstrand's non-blog

New Astronomy Book Exposes Kids to Science

MIDVALE, UT, USA, March 31, 2014 - Want to expose kids to the night sky? A new picture book Bright Star, Night Star: An Astronomy Story opens the starry skies to youngsters.
This month Bright Star, Night Star hit No. 2 on Amazon's Hot New Children's Books list. It opened mid-Feb. at No. 5.

The children's astronomy book has activities for finding stars, constellations, planets and other heavenly bodies. Rich illustrations by Spanish artist Luis F. Sanz help identify objects and online secrets add depth and details. The vocabulary is suitable for children ages 5 - 9.

Bilingual author Karl Beckstrand hopes the story and activities spark children's interest in all things stellar. This is Beckstrand's tenth book. He likes to weave language, counting or other learning concepts through his stories. He even wrote a free geography ebook for kids: It Ain't Flat: A Memorizable Book of Countries.

True to its multicultural tradition, Premio Publishing & Gozo Books features characters of color in its astronomy book for kids. Premio's activity and language books, ebooks and app are nationally-lauded, invite family learning and together time and often end with surprises.

The soft cover bedtime story and ebook can be found via http://PremioBooks.com, Baker & Taylor, Brodart, Bn.com/NOOK, Amazon.com/Kindle, iTunes, Follett Library Resources/Title Wave, Ingram, Mackin, and select booksellers. Customers may pre-order in hard cover from the publisher.

Great info for authors

Many people ask me about getting their books out. I've sent many of you to my site: KarlBeckstrand.com. Here is some more helpful information--regardless of your genre: http://www.upauthors.com/the-best-way-to-sell-books/

Recent Reviews

A book of my grandfather's short stories: Horse& Dog Adventures in Early California was recently reviewed (two reviews of my bilingual app Sounds in the House follow it).


"Wilcox is a gifted writer. He has the ability to draw you into his story with a combination of simple language and homespun charm. The stories have a bit of everything, adventure, melancholy, joy. … There is a touching scene with the family dog named Old Blue. Local dialect makes it an authentic read … written with both common sense and pathos. … Teachers might want to consider using the book as part of a study unit on American life in the early twentieth century. I find it difficult to explain why I like this book so much, but I recommend that you give it a try." - Barbara Ann Mojica http://bamauthor.me/2014/01/15/flashbacks/


"For bilingual readers, those studying either language or anyone who likes stories about scaredy-cat dogs, this no-frills app may sound about right. … The narration and text are handled well, and the story is suspenseful without ever getting too intense for younger readers." - Kirkus Reviews

"[A] funny, interactive story that is easy to play, read and enjoy. The dog hears all kinds of noises that come with every house. … It's also educational, as it helps the child realize everything usually has an ordinary, benign explanation behind it. … The mystery is interactive as the child tries to figure out what's behind the 'scary' noises and discovers squeaks, taps and creaks everywhere. … It's fun to try and find … 28 different hidden sounds. … The story is sweet [and] can entertain a child simply and effectively … and the illustrations by Channing Jones are funny. … The app can be customized. … The music and volume can be brought up and down. It's available in Spanish as well as English. … The language is clean and there isn't any violence. There's nothing to worry about here--except you might want to buy more of these to share." - Sharon Haddock, Deseret News

Publisher Gives English-Spanish Story App to Meet Multicultural Demand

MIDVALE, UT, USA – Wishing your library offered more products that reflect a diverse populace? Premio Publishing & Gozo Books' popular multicultural products feature Hispanic, black, Asian, white, and mixed-race characters--and they address fear, courage, sharing, and giving.

While Premio's activity and language books, ebooks and app are nationally-lauded, many libraries and schools prefer hard cover books. Premio's distributors have asked for them. But printing hard cover books takes a lot of cash. So Premio has come up with a fun way to raise funds, while rewarding donors and raising awareness of the need for multicultural representation in literature--especially children's literature.

The publisher has launched an Indiegogo campaign where donors can get apps, books, ebooks, and pre-orders of hard covers and new releases as perks. The campaign can be found at here or by searching "multicultural books" on Indiegogo.com. Even promoters of the site who don't donate can get the app free by sharing the promotion from the publisher's facebook page: Multicultural Children's Books.

Sounds in the House is a humorous interactive story with text and audio narration in both English and Spanish, a pronunciation guide, a finding activity and--of course--sounds. Young children and adults will enjoy the comic characters created by illustrator Channing Jones. The jittery puppy, at first unnerved when he hears strange noises, takes action, then finds he is safe and loved. Get the app free just for promoting the campaign on Facebook..

SPANISH: Ahora existen más libros y productos para el teléfono, PC, y iPad que representan gente de diversas culturas. Premio Publishing & Gozo Books ofrece libros, ebooks, y aplicaciones que contienen niños negros, blancos, hispanos, y asiáticos.

Reconocidos por su bellos dibujos y cuentos chistosos, el publicador ha recibido pedidos por sus libros con tapa dura para las escuelas y bibliotecas. Para poder proveer ese clase de productos, están ofreciendo sus productos como premios por los que les ayudan a imprimir con tapa dura.


En el sitio indiegogo (http://igg.me/at/multicultural-books-ebooks-apps/x/5243206 o busque "multicultural books" en indiegogo.com) se puede elegir los siguientes premios: ebooks, libros con tapa blanda, y la aplicación bilingüe Sounds in the House - Sonidos en la casa: Un misterio -- una aplicación chistoso que explica las causas de los sonidos espantosos. Esa aplicación contiene animación, narración en ambos idiomas, una actividad de búsqueda, y una guía de pronunciación en inglés y español (para niños de dos años y arriba). La aplicación es compatible con iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Tablets y telefonos, Kindle Fire, PC/Windows y Mac.


Los productos multiculturales de Premio Publishing & Gozo Books se puede comprar también de Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Brodart, Follett Library Resources/Title Wave, Ingram, Barnes & Noble/Nook y Premiobooks.com. La aplicación puede ser comprada en Customizabooks.com, Amazon/Kindle, Android y iTunes. Los que quieren apoyar la publicación de productos multiculturales también puedan compartir el proyecto en Facebook y ganar la aplicacion gratis.

Why a volunteer LDS mission has been the single greatest experience of my life

In 1986, I submitted papers to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in application to be a volunteer representative of the church. I was called to serve in the Chile, Viña del Mar Mission for two years. Except for travel to and from Chile, my expenses were paid by me, my family and my congregation in San Jose, California. I will preface the gains from my mission with some of my other accomplishments (not to brag, but to show how they pale in comparison). I have:

•           Sung in three rock bands (even for pay)

•           Signed legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives (long story)

•           Water skied and snow skied

•           Visited four continents and 12 countries

•           Been a V.P. in a company

•           Earned a B.A. and an M.A.

•           Performed on radio, TV, and in film

•           Helped found a Silicon Valley high-tech association--and handled their PR

•           Volunteered at Stanford University Hospital

•           Published ten books, multiple ebooks and an app

•           Kayaked in whitewater

•           Co-written songs

•           Lectured to large and small groups from various countries

•           Worked for IBM, Intel, Marriott and the Federal Government

•           Flown a plane (not take-off or landing)

•           Owned two businesses

•           Performed live before thousands (even sang alongside the Mormon Tabernacle Choir)

•           Painted and illustrated

•           Witnessed Olympic events

•           Been a Spanish interpreter

•           Hired hundreds of people

•           Been a commencement speaker for college graduation

•           Had my scripts selected in competition

•           Jumped from high cliffs

•           Been an ecclesiastical leader in various congregations

•           Had works published in newspaper, magazine and the Congressional Record of the House of Representatives

Many of these accomplishments were facilitated by skills I gained on my mission. Despite becoming ill during my time in South America (a condition that impacts my work and social life to this day) my mission has given me:

•           My greatest education and perspectives (far outperforming my academic degrees)

•           Spanish fluency (something I use constantly)

•           Experience living in a dictatorship

•           Love for Hispanics and other cultures

•           A chance to distribute food, minister to the sick and help build a house

•           Leadership training

•           An appreciation of other customs and of the human condition

•           Lifelong friends

•           Lessons in giving, hospitality, sacrifice, humility and love (from people I was supposedly teaching)

•           An appreciation for the United States of America and for freedom

•           The gift of tongues (also witnessed in others)

•           Understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the restored organization of His Church

•           Academic scholarships (I later tested out of Spanish classes for high grades)

•           Self-reliance, interdependence--and reliance on God where my power is insufficient

•           In-person instruction from a living prophet and from apostles

•           A view of the consequences of CIA meddling in Latin America (many widows; also bombed LDS meetinghouses [some thought Mormons were the CIA])

•           Understanding of how to help thousands know who they are and why they’re here

•           A glimpse of God’s mercy and love for all his children (including myself)

•           Snippets of a world-famous music festival

•           Use of Latin American sign language

•           Assertiveness and people skills

•           Amazing vistas and scenes (Andes Mountains, colored desert, pristine beaches, undisturbed valleys—also earthquakes and floods)

•           Miracles

•           Interaction with a mayor and other leaders

•           A testimony of Christ, prophets, the Book of Mormon and the reality of Restored Priesthood authority

•           An absolute assurance that I was doing the most important work on earth (few people ever feel that)

•           The greatest joy and peace I have ever felt (not just that people received the blessings of the Gospel, which impacted them both temporally and spiritually; but that those people have had an impact on others--the blessings continue to cross to other families and new generations to this day).

In spite of the sacrifices, if I could only keep the experiences from one of these lists, without hesitation, I would keep the experiences from my mission. It was a privilege to lose my life in the service of others. As payment, I found, and continue to appreciate, who I am and my purpose as a child of God.

Spooky Halloween App Comes Free with Mystery Books

Scared of the dark? Follow a gusty pup through a new interactive Halloween appSounds in the House! Finally, an app that reveals what's behind many, sometimes frightening, creaks and thuds that scare young and old on dark nights. Sounds in the House is a humorous interactive story with text and audio narration in both English and Spanish, a pronunciation guide, a finding activity and--of course--sounds.

“It’s about facing fear,” says author Karl Beckstrand. “Once you know what causes those squeaks and bumps, you find there’s seldom cause for fear,” he says. Still, it is fun to see what makes a dog—or a person—jump, given the right start.

Part of Beckstrand’s “Mini-mysteries for Minors,” book series, Sounds in the House is his first mystery to be made an app—ideal for language learners and goblins. Beckstrand is offering his spooky app free with the purchase of any of his mysteries through Nov. 30. It may also be purchased in your favorite app store or via Customizabooks.com.

Young children and adults will enjoy the comic characters created by illustrator Channing Jones. The jittery puppy, at first unnerved when he hears strange noises, takes action, then finds he is safe and loved. 

"I wanted to explore that spooked feeling that comes to most of us in childhood," says Beckstrand. "I remember lying frozen in bed as a child, imagining all sorts of creepy causes for the sound of--what turned out to be--pipes warming up. That scenario can make the mind go all sorts of scary directions," he says. “A little bravado may be just the cure.”

Beckstrand’s books have been lauded by reviewers nationwide, including the Horn Book blog, School Library Journal, Midwest Book Review, and ForeWord Reviews.

This month Beckstrand is sharing his mysteries and short stories as part of the Utah Humanities Book Festival Sat. Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. at the Sprague Library in Sugarhouse and Tues. Oct. 8 at the Brigham City Library at 7 p.m. He’ll also be signing books at Salt Lake’s Library Square Sat. Sept. 28 from 1 – 5 p.m.

Sounds in the House may be heard in any home. The book, ebook and app may be found via Amazon/Kindle, Baker & Taylor, Brodart, Follett Library Resources/BWI Title Wave, Ingram, Barnes & Noble/Nook, EBSCO, Premiobooks.com, Android and iTunes stores and libraries nationwide. The Sounds in the House app is compatible with iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Tablets and phones, Kindle Fire, PC/Windows and Mac.

¿Alguna vez, has oído en tu casa ruidos que te asustan? ¿De dónde vienen esos chirridos y golpes? Te encantará descubrirlo. No hay nada que temer; Sounds in the House - Sonidos en la casa es una aplicación chistoso que explica las causas de esos sonidos espantosos. Este Halloween, aprenda sobre el temor, el valor y la amistad -- con un perrito bravo. Un misterio divertido para toda la familia (2 años y arriba), incluye una guía de pronunciación en inglés y español, un actividad de búsqueda, dibujos vividos para ayudar con el vocabulario -- y sonidos. La aplicación es compatible con iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android Tablets y telefonos, Kindle Fire, PC/Windows y Mac, y viene gratis con la compra de cualquier libro misterio por Premio (via Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Brodart, Follett Library Resources/BWI Title Wave, Ingram, Barnes & Noble/Nook, EBSCO, Premiobooks.com, Sam Weller's.) La aplicación puede ser comprado en Custamizabooks.com, Amazon/Kindle, Android y iTunes.

El Autor Karl Beckstrand estará firmando libros el Sábado 28 de Septiembre en Library Square en Salt Lake City 1 - 5 p.m. También estará compartiendo sus misterios y cuentos como parte del festival de libros de Utah el Sábado 5 de Oct. a las 2 p.m. en la biblioteca Sprague en Sugarhouse y Martes 8 de Oct. en la biblioteca de Brigham City a las 7 p.m. 

Premio Publishing & Gozo Books has been delighting families and educators since 2004. Our multicultural non-fiction stories, ebooks, app, and activity books (including Spanish and bilingual books with pronunciation guide, finding/counting mysteries, and kid’s cookbook) have diverse characters in funny, engaging vivid color. Nationally-lauded (ForeWord Reviews, Horn Book blog, School Library Journal, Barnes & Noble) our educational stories capture attention and create repeat readers. They are not about ethnic or racial diversity; they simply feature Hispanic, black, Asian, white and mixed-race children and address fear, courage, sharing and giving. Find our children’s books/ebooks/app via: Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble/Nook, Brodart, Amazon/Kindle, EBSCO, Follett Library Resources/BWI Title Wave, Ingram, iTunes, Kobo, Android and Premiobooks.com (free online books). Laughs, learning & family fun for ages 2 and up (because bedtime should never put parents to sleep)!

Horse & Dog Adventures in Early California

Sept. 2, 2013, MIDVALE, UT, USA – Animal lovers can get a peek at life in rural California in the early twentieth century when animals played a critical role in human survival. Author Ransom Wilcox knows—he lived it.

Wilcox’s family moved to the Sacramento Valley from Canada in 1907. They farmed, tended livestock, and sometimes got by via hunting and fishing. Once, when the hunter became the prey—of a charging wild boar—Wilcox stuck a pole he was carrying into the ground and climbed up!

Wilcox’s new book, Horse and Dog Adventures in Early California, tells of his great love for a beautiful filly and how he depended on horses in ranching and hunting. He also writes about the devotion of a special dog that saved his life—and how he was later able to return the favor, performing emergency surgery on the injured canine. “Doc” Wilcox, as his friends called him, was a chiropractor by profession, and grateful for his medical training when his rescuer needed help.

Wilcox’s love of animals and the great outdoors is evident in his nature-themed stories (for young and old). They convey courage, devotion, and perseverance with warmth and sincerity.

Also new from Premio Publishing: No Offense: Communication Guaranteed Not to Offend by Karl Beckstrand (also from California). In his ninth book, Beckstrand captures with simplicity and wit the essence of non-offensive, politically correct communication. Funny--and free of degrading bits--this is safe, entertaining reading for the whole family. Beckstrand encourages (in a clever way) the expression of important ideas and respectful dialogue—which often lead to serendipitous solutions that neither side would have arrived at without the other. He makes a strong statement about the problems with political correctness—especially unconstitutional limits on free speech. PremioPublishing.com

Times are a changing!

It will be interesting to see what happens as Mideast oil becomes less important (or just plain less). The Huffington post reported a couple of months ago that Saudi Arabia risks becoming an oil IMPORTER in as few as 20 years. The New York Times speculates that (provided the current administration doesn't manacle production out of business), the United States is poised to become the world's greatest oil source in as few as five years. While I'm not optimistic about the outcome overall of the Arab Spring, the time for change is certainly now. Somehow, MENA states need to establish governments that will foster innovation, eduction, and perhaps even entrepreneurship, as they (like us) will soon no longer be able to sustain entitlements to maintain sufficient constituent loyalty for leaders keep power. I was astounded to see in Kamrava's chapter eight how much of Mideast jobs are in the public/government-sector. They/we are headed for more trouble unless private enterprise is re-enthroned as the true job creator and sustainer. Sadly, the best innovations come in times and places where there aren't so many safety nets. I'm sure that Mideast peoples could come up with outstanding inventions--entirely new industries--to replace losses in oil production, given the right environment.
Karl B.

Kamrava, Mehran. 2011. The Modern Middle East. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
See: www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/09/06/saudi-arabia-oil-reserves_n_1862018.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/business/energy-environment/report-sees-us-as-top-oil-producer-in-5-years.html?_r=0 style="font-size:14px">

Mini-mysteries Halloween books

Not that anyone needs a comprehensive list of what keeps people awake at night, but a new mystery book Why Juan Can’t Sleep chronicles--with hilarity--every possible cause for insomnia. From wild dreams to noisy critters and neighbors, to too much Chinese food, author Karl Beckstrand makes sure adults and kids are entertained at Halloween or any bedtime.

The fourth in his Mini-mysteries for Minors series, this interactive book has finding activities and striking illustrations by Spanish artist Luis Sanz that grab readers and aid comprehension. It’s really a list of what has interrupted Beckstrand’s sleep—with a great reaction from Juan and a twist at the end.

This summer, two of Beckstrand's mysteries were highlighted among the "best of the best" on Barnes & Noble's site. Other praise for Beckstrand has come from the Horn Book blog, ForeWord Reviews, and School Library Journal. Beckstrand's books have Latino flair, minority characters and often end with a surprise twist. Mini-mysteries for Minors help children identify and face fears. Many are available in English-only, Spanish-only, and bilingual versions--with full text and pronunciation guide in both languages--and as e-books. Young and old will identify with this funny, spooky quest for rest (for ages 4 - 10).

Beckstrand will present on Creating & Publishing Your Story for the Utah Book Writer’s Club open house, Saturday, Nov. 3 from 2 – 5 p.m., 5060 Daisy Ln., Murray, UT 84123. He’ll also be signing books.

One other new title from Beckstrand is Arriba Up, Abajo Down at the Boardwalk--a bilingual picture book of opposites. All Mini-mysteries for Minors are ideal Halloween books: Sounds in the House - Sonidos en la casa, She Doesn’t Want the Worms - Ella no quiere los gusanos, Crumbs on the Stairs - Migas en las escaleras. Ask for them at: Sam Weller, King’s English, Storybook Nook, Premiobooks.com, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Brodart, Kindle, Follett/BWI Title Wave, select retailers

Forward thinking Muslims

According to Mohammed Ayoob Islamism was a reaction to colonialism, which idealized a “golden age” of political unity and efficiency under Mohammed and the first four caliphs. Islamism maintains that the umma (Muslim people) is in decline (in just about every way) because they have deviated from the path prescribed by these early leaders. Contrary to traditionalist Islamist reinforcement of the status quo and orthodoxy (“sixty years of tyranny is better than one day’s anarchy” – Mohammed?), Political Islam is used to encourage “political activism and participation” (Ayoob 2007, 6).

Islamic fundamentalists (like religious fundamentalists in any society) may fear being proven wrong by science and reason—and therefore ban such approaches—relying on blind adherence to tradition and dogma. I believe those who postulate that not wanting to think about things is a common human condition (rarely instigated by the founders of religious traditions, who typically promote the search for enlightenment).

“… Muhammad Abduh of Egypt … believed the original teachings of Islam to be in total accord with the scientific positivism and rationality that underpinned modernity. … Albert Hourani explains … ‘The mark of the ideal Muslim society is not law only, it is also reason. The true Muslim is he who uses his reason in affairs of the world and of religion; the only real infidel is he who closes his eyes to the light of the truth and refuses to examine rational proofs’” (Ayoob 2007, 7). I feel the same way about reason in my religion.

I don’t see anything wrong with looking backward to value and utilize whatever is noble and effective about one’s traditions. However, to seek to function exactly as past peoples is to pretend that there are no new issues in the world (like the child sex-trade, internet pornography, new addictive substances, gangs, or identity theft). I therefore would advocate using the Qur’an, the sunna/hadith, and shar’ia as guides for dealing with new issues—a lens through which to see them—tools to help determine what God’s will might be for (or how the prophet might have addressed) each new issue. By dedicating time to the study of scripture, one can become familiar with the author. Of course, not everyone will see the same solutions; but dialogue—not dogma--can help guide wise choices both spiritual and civil.

Why should Westerners or anyone expect that Middle Eastern or North African states form governments devoid of Islamic influence when ours were formed—not just with influences, but--based on Judeo-Christian principles? Consider laws against theft and murder, on parental obligations, or on public decency. All grew out of Mosaic Law. The very concept of judges is a Hebrew tradition. According to Ayoob, Hindus and Buddhists also speak politically using religious terminology. He points out that there is little need to fear domination by dogma. Islam is not like pre-reformation Christianity with a centralized spiritual head. The real challenge, according to Ottaway and Hamzawy, is pleasing the base: are Islamists moderate enough? Are they devout enough? Tough line to walk. Given the diversity and geographic spread of Islam today, an all-encompassing caliphate is not likely. As Haklai says, “there is no single Muslim mindset regarding democracy” (Haklai 2009, 35).

Ayoob, Mohammed. 2007. Many Faces of Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Muslim World. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI. November.

Ottaway, Marina and Amr Hamzawy. 2008. Islamists in Politics:The Dynamics of Participation. Carnagie Endowment Middle East Program, Washington DC. Nov. pg. 21.

Haklai, Oded. 2009. Authoritarianism and Islamic Movements in the Middle East: Research and Theorybuilding in the Twenty-first Century. Queen’s University International Studies Review 11, 27–45.


April 2014

Monthly Archives

Recent Posts

  1. New Astronomy Book Exposes Kids to Science
    Monday, March 31, 2014
  2. Great info for authors
    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
  3. Recent Reviews
    Friday, February 07, 2014
  4. Publisher Gives English-Spanish Story App to Meet Multicultural Demand
    Friday, November 29, 2013
  5. Why a volunteer LDS mission has been the single greatest experience of my life
    Tuesday, October 15, 2013
  6. Spooky Halloween App Comes Free with Mystery Books
    Friday, September 27, 2013
  7. Horse & Dog Adventures in Early California
    Saturday, September 21, 2013
  8. Times are a changing!
    Saturday, December 15, 2012
  9. Mini-mysteries Halloween books
    Wednesday, October 17, 2012
  10. Forward thinking Muslims
    Friday, October 12, 2012

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