Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview with Children's author, C. K. Volnek

Today, my guest is children's author, C. K. Volnek.  Her novel, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island  is available from MuseItUp Publishing.


AUTHOR: C.K. Volnek
BOOK TITLE: Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing
BUY LINK: - coming soon - but you can find more information about the book at my website:

Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

Hi Penny, thanks so much for allowing me to visit your blog. You are such a gracious host. I’ve been writing pretty much my whole life in one way or another, though I only got serious about writing novels about eight years ago. I have always loved the written word. Escaping into thrilling adventures of a book was my greatest highlight when I was a kid. I think read every horse and dog story our library had to offer. 

Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

I would love to write full time, but unfortunately I’ll have to keep my day job for the time being. As for organizing my time, I am a night owl, so most every night finds me in my oversized chair with my laptop on my lap. Our children are pretty much grown now so I don’t have the demands young mothers have to contend with. But I do still maintain time to spend with my family. Family is such a treasure and one I try to never take for granted.

What influences your writing?

That’s an interesting question. One I have never been asked. I have to admit, I’m a very emotional person so I think my muse grabs those emotions and plays me like a fiddle at times. If I’m not passionate about a subject, the story is not going to go very far. I love a story where the underdog comes out on top, putting the antagonist in his/her place, and I’m always a sucker for a happy ending. Real-life mysteries intrigue me to come up with my own conclusion.

Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island is my first published novel. I have written numerous short stories and articles, even having one short story picked up by Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul. But I’ve always longed to have my stories completed in novel form and am excited to have three Tween novels coming out within the year.

Why did you choose to write a children's story?

I have always loved writing, reading and telling stories to children. They are little people, without the inhibitions and demands we adults put on ourselves. They love a good story and are so open with their imagination and visions. They are like sponges, soaking up the story as well as a lesson or two (if you can keep their interest.) Having a son who hated to read challenged me to create a story a tween boy or girl could identify with and empathize with the character.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?

The process to Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island was pretty smooth. After reading an article about mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island (where 117 colonists disappeared, never to be heard from again), my muse grabbed onto the idea and wouldn’t let me rest until I had my first mock-up complete. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful critique group so that was the next step. After many revisions, I felt I had a novel worthy of submission. Though I feel the process went rather smoothly, it wasn’t easy. There is a lot of sweat equity in a novel, as I’m sure all authors can appreciate.

What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

I admire the people who have successfully self-published a novel. It’s not an easy road and one I don’t think I’d be capable of pursuing. Being with a small press, I’m learning a lot about marketing and branding my name and my book, but I still rely on the knowledge and name of my publisher. It would be extremely hard to learn it all on my own. Though, just a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed I’m doing what I’m doing today. Publishing standards are changing fast and it will be interesting to see what happens in the next five years.

What is your marketing strategy?

I’m still learning. With this being my first novel, I’m taking baby steps each and every day. Social media is an incredible tool and one you can’t master overnight. I built my web page almost the day after I signed my first contract. From there I started my blog and joined facebook and twitter. A speaker at a conference once commented that twitter was 80 percent helping others and 20 percent promoting yourself. I pondered that and found this fact should not just be for twitter…it is sound advice for life. I’ve adopted this equation into all aspects of my life and find it very rewarding. It’s refreshing when after helping someone, it comes full circle and they help me in return. That was a valuable lesson for me.

What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

I don’t feel I know enough about this to comment. I would love to have an agent and maybe someday I can find one that can free up some time for me and help me find the exposure I’d love to have. But for now,  I’ll continue to work hard on my own marketing and branding.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I want be like my pet Papillon and not know any strangers, only friends I haven’t met yet. J I would love to have my readers and friends visit me at my web page: My blog is located at: You can contact me at ckvolnek (at) yahoo (dot) com. I can be friended on Facebook with C.K. Volnek or Twitter with CKVolnek. I also have a facebook fan page:!/pages/CK-Volnek-Author/151285618224636 . My book trailer can be found at or by searching CK Volnek on youtube. I’m also on Good Reads and Jacket Flap.

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?

My tip to writers is to never give up. Keep learning and practicing your craft and have faith in YOUR written word. You have a story and no one else can tell it. Don’t let life throw you a curve and leave you reeling in the world of could’ve, should’ve, would’ve. Like Nike says…Just Do It!

Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island

1587...Roanoke Island...117 colonists disappeared without a trace, leaving behind not only unanswered questions, but a terrifying evil. 

Now it’s up to twelve year-old Jack Dahlgren to unravel the age-old mystery and save his family from the hateful beast that haunts the island.

With the help of newfound friend, Manny, a Native American shaman, and an elusive Giant Mastiff, Jack must piece together the clues of the Lost Colony to discover what really happened. Shrouded in ancient Native American folklore, it's up to Jack to uncover what the evil is and why it haunts his island. But can he destroy it...before it destroys him?

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island by C.K. Volnek. Available September 2011 by MuseItUp Publishing

Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island will be available at:

And many other fine on-line book locations.

Excerpt from Chapter 2, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island:

“No!” Jack screamed, his voice muffled in the wailing wind and rain. His legs slid over the edge of the cliff with the surge of water. He reached for the loose rail on the fence, his hands grasping at air as the rail bounced out of reach. The stream of goo sucked hard, wrenching him down the side. Frantic, he grabbed at the multitude of vines covering the steep embankment. The soaked leaves slithered through his grip.
Skimming down the embankment, wind cackled in his ears. Drenching rain seeped into his clothes and soaked his T-shirt and boxers. His shoulder slammed against a large root and a sharp rock gouged at his knee. White pain seared Jack’s brain, a streak of lightning whizzing inside him.
With renewed vengeance, he tore at the vines. He had to find some way to stop his fall, or at least slow it down. His body lurched as his right hand caught hold of a secure strand of vines. He clung to the leathery creeper, kicking at the muddy side with his sneakers to find a foothold.
The black stream of guck continued to funnel over him, threatening to drag him loose again. He inched his way left, out of the siege of sludge, and hugged the cliff. Hands freezing, knuckles white, he refused to let go. He couldn’t fall, not like Kimmy. His heart pounded so fast and hard he thought it might blow up. He was safe. At least for the moment.
Taking a deep breath, he gazed up. The ridge looked a hundred miles away. Thick leaves glistened, slimy and slick. The ancient oak rocked in the buffeting winds, warning him not to even try to climb up.
He couldn’t climb down either. Waves pounded the rocks below, water crashing and spraying. The very rocks Kimmy had fallen on.
Jack mashed his forehead into the tangle of vines. It was his fault she was in the hospital in Raleigh. All his fault. If only he’d listened to Dad.
His dad’s voice echoed between heart beats. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
He ground his teeth. He couldn’t let Dad find out he’d gone up the cliff again. He couldn’t!
Reaching for a thick vine above him, he moved upward, pushing against the driving rain. A shiver shook his body. He tried to convince himself he was just wet and cold. Inside, he knew it wasn’t true. A foot above, the stout skeleton of a dead bush pushed out from the wall, its roots crawling in and out of the dirt and vines like giant earthworms. Jack’s sneakers squeaked against the tangle of vines and roots, water poured down the neck of his slicker. He reached for the bare trunk of the small bush, stretching his arm.
Something snapped above him. Jack jerked at the sound. The loose wooden rail broke free from the fence, leaping into the wind. It tumbled over and over, popping up and smacking the lifeless trunk of the oak. With deadly aim, it plunged down the cliff.
Jack pressed against the wall of mud, holding on with all his might. A hollow thud vibrated as the beam struck close to his left foot. It ricocheted off the cliff and continued its descent to be swallowed up by the angry waves.
Jack held his breath, his lungs burning, waiting for the cliff to give up his hold. His fears came to life as he felt a sudden release of earth. The vine beneath his foot caved inward and his leg jerked free. Desperate, Jack grabbed for the dead bush, his fingers circling the twisted trunk. 
The shrub held fast. He clung to it, one-handed, swinging away from the cliff, a human pendulum. The wind groaned and swirled around his shoulders. He reached up with his other hand, grasping the bush with both hands.
Feeling with his right leg, Jack jabbed the toe of his tennis shoe into a small muddy hole and grabbed at a thick root sticking out of the embankment. He stiffened as the wet soil shifted, consumed the root, and swallowed his hand.
 Jack pulled out of the sucking mire and frantically dug at the foliage above it for another root or vine...anything to hang onto. He clung to the side of the quaking cliff, his face and body smashed into the muddy side. A foul stench radiated from the wet soil and Jack wrenched back, wrinkled his nose, and stared at the black goo. The wall gurgled and bulged next to him, the sandy dirt pushing outward. With a final rumble, the earth exploded.
Jack turned his head and held on even tighter. Sludge sucked at his face. Long moments passed. The vines held. Hesitantly, he looked back. All that remained was a deep, dark hole.
A cave.


  1. Thanks for hosting me today Penny! Waving to all my and old. I can't wait to chat with you! :-)
    C.K. Volnek

  2. Charlie, a subject that has always fascinated me, Roanoke Island. Can't wait to find out what happened! I know you'd be a wonderful face-to-face friend and though I'm grateful for all my new on-line family, I wish we all had a crystal ball or magic spell to pop us in and out of each other's kitchens for coffee every now and then. "I want be like my pet Papillon and not know any strangers, only friends I haven’t met yet." How perfect is that? That's it. Exactly.

  3. Thanks for hosting me here today Penny! Was great to be here and see all my and old. Thanks to all for stopping by.
    C.K. Volnek

  4. Wonderful excerpt, C.K., and I enjoyed the interview. I love "Ghost Dog's" cast of characters. The concept of this story is so imaginative! Can't wait to read it.

  5. Charlie, I'm getting closer to reading your book! When I do I will post my review everywhere! I agree it's important to support other authors. I really enjoy helping another author!! Also would love to get together for coffee with both you and Gail:)

  6. Charlie, it's my pleasure. Gail, I love Papillon's attitude about strangers and friends. Pat and Barbara, so glad you could stop by and enjoyed the interview.

  7. Hi Penny,
    Thanks for hosting Charlie and her very interesting book.
    Hi Charlie,
    Glad to see Ghost Dog getting around to more blogs. Best of luck.

  8. Great interview, Charlie and Penny. I've just finished Charlie's book and loved it - so exciting and well written!

  9. Hi Gail, Papillons are such fun little dogs. I've learned such valuable lessons from them.
    Pat, Thanks for your note. I love the mystery behind the Lost Colony.
    BarbaraE, I'd love to sit over a cup with you and Gail...though mine would be tea. lol
    BarbaraB, you're such a great friend.
    Rosemary, what can I say, but sendiing major big thanks for the wonderful comments and review! So happy you liked the book. It was fun to write.
    Penny, thanks again for hosting me!
    Thanks to everyone! My world is brighter to have you all in it!