Children’s book “The Birthday Cache”; exclusive sneak peak, and giveaway!

Today, we have a guest post from Teacher and Author Amanda Zeiba, and are presenting a sneak peak of the entire first chapter of her new book “The Birthday Cache”, which is on sale now! She has graciously allowed us to give away a copy of the book. Simply post a comment to the post for a chance to win. Seeing as the OCNA blogger is going in for surgery the day after this post, we will leave this contest open for two full weeks; the comments will be assigned a number 1 thru X, and the winner will be chosen on Tuesday, January 31st via a random.org drawing. NOTE: We totally blew the date on that (now corrected); but we will therefore extend the contest until Friday, Feburary 3rd, 2017.

 

Do you love geocaching? Love reading? Have a young reader/cacher in your life? Looking for a good book to read as a family? If you said yes to any of these questions, The Birthday Cache, the first book in a new geocaching adventures series, is for you!

 
While twelve year old Mason Miles and his parents love their nomadic lifestyle living and working across the nation in their RV, his twin sister Molly is craving a normal life and scheming to put an stop to their endless road trip. For their twelfth birthday the twins open a GPS receiver and fall in love with the sport of geocaching. When they stumble upon a mysterious puzzle cache will their travels become interesting enough to change Molly’s mind?
 
The first chapter is written below. Give it a read, then respond in the comment section for a chance to win your very own copy. Gotta have it right now? The book is available in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. Just click here: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Amanda+Zieba and scroll to find your preferred version.

Author Bio:

Amanda Zieba is a full time teacher, a wife and mother always, and a writer any minute she can squeeze in. She is the author of numerous children’s books and one adult novella.

In addition to writing, she loves visiting schools and facilitating writer’s workshops for young writers.

Diet Pepsi and Cherry PopTarts fuel her beautifully manicured fingers to fly across the page in an effort to share her stories with you. You can find her online at www.amandazieba.com

tbc


Chapter 1

Molly stomped through the woods clutching a brand new GPS receiver in her hand. Following the path highlighted on the screen only occupied part of her brain. The rest was busy listing complaints.

Complaints about their life on the road. Complaints about the lack of privacy for a twelve-year-old girl inside an RV. Complaints about missing her grandparents, friends, dance classes, and a thousand other things in Boston. But her biggest complaints were about her birthday.

I wish I was celebrating my birthday with my BEST FRIEND. But noooo, instead I am walking through the middle of the woods, for FUN. I’d rather be with Gabby, eating ice cream or going to the mall, or doing ANYTHING else NORMAL!

Molly paused, looking left and then right. Frustrated with every part of the adventure, she sighed loudly and mentally gave up.

“Here.” Molly shoved the GPSr into her twin brother’s hands. It’s a better present for him than me anyway. She folded her arms across her chest and dragged her feet, letting Mason take the lead. Their parents walked behind them, sandwiching Molly between them and her obnoxiously happy brother Mason.

“Some happy birthday this is,” she muttered.

“What’s that, Mol’ Doll?” her dad asked.

“Nothing.” She spoke a little louder than she meant to, causing a nearby bird to cry out and fly away.

The foursome wove through the trees, doing their best to follow the directions displayed on the GPSr. Mom snapped pictures with the camera that was permanently attached to her hand.

Mason rattled off facts he had learned from the Internet about geocaching. “The GPS receivers use a series of twenty-four low-orbiting satellites to help geocachers find what they are looking for. At first it was only used for military stuff, but in 2000, they started allowing civilians to use it too.”

Molly rolled her eyes, but continued to follow her know-it-all brother. He was always spouting annoying facts. Finally they reached the spot they had been searching for. When they discovered that it wasn’t a traditional cache, Molly’s annoyance grew.

Instead of unclasping the hinges of an old ammo can or prying the cover off a film canister, they stood huddled around a square sign. It read: Original Stash, the first geocache placed here, May 3, 2000.  N 45° 17.460 W° 122 24.800.

A traditional cache was a hidden container that held something you could take with you as a souvenir. Once you picked out an item, you replaced it with one of your own. They’d collected all kinds of things from caches: coins, keychains, and magnets. Here they were stuck with no treasure to find or trade, just a plaque to look at.

Dad pulled his phone out of his pocket and began putting his writer’s research skills to work. “It says here that the original cache was a five-gallon bucket containing all sorts of things—a little money, a book, a cassette tape. Lots of people came here to find it. Unfortunately, a road crew’s lawn mower destroyed it by accident.”

“Bummer,” Mom said.

“Definitely. Instead, they put in this plaque to mark the spot of the first geocache ever. It is called a virtual cache. No treasures, only a location to find.”

“Virtually lame,” Molly said, and then guiltily shrugged when she realized she’d said it out loud.

“Check this out,” Dad said. He continued to read from his phone. “Geocaching urban legend says that if you place your GPSr on top of the plaque, it will grant you   extra-long battery life and super-good satellite reception.”

“Well, we can’t miss out on that!” Mason said and put the GPSr on top of the plaque.

“Do we pray to the GPS gods or do a rain dance or something?” Mom asked.

“Nope. It should be good,” Dad said.

“Great. Can we go back to the RV now?” Molly asked.

“You guys can hang around a bit,” Mom said. “Molly and I will walk back.”

Without saying goodbye, Molly turned around and began walking back to their home on wheels. Mom gave Dad a weak smile and then turned to follow her daughter. They walked in silence for a bit before Mom said, “I’m sorry you don’t like your gift. You guys seemed to really like geocaching last summer when Dad had to try it out for the Outdoor Explorer Magazine article he wrote. We thought you’d be excited to do more of it this summer.”

“The present is great, Mom. It’s just that the only place I want to be exploring is Boston. I know you and Dad work well this way, writing and taking pictures all over the place. But this whole wandering nomad lifestyle is getting old. I want to have a regular home, with regular friends and a regular school. That would be the best birthday present ever.”

Molly’s mother grimaced but said, “Let’s get through the summer, and then we’ll think about regular school again in the fall, okay?”

“Really? You’re not just saying that?” Molly asked, stopping to look at her mother.

“I really mean it,” her mother said and gave Molly’s hand a quick squeeze.

Maybe Gabby’s plan isn’t totally hopeless, Molly thought. She almost told her mother the plan she’d worked so hard on right then and there. She opened her mouth but then closed it when she saw her mother was already several feet down the trail. Molly shrugged. She’d tell her parents the plan later.

For the rest of the way back to the RV, Molly walked instead of stomped.

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Featured contest sponsor: How to Puzzle Cache

product_thumbnail.phpOur featured sponsor for our August 2015 5th Anniversary contest is Cully Long, Author of the book How to Puzzle Cache. He is graciously donating two copies of the book as prizes for two lucky winners. You may remember this blog interviewed Cully (Caching name ChildofAtom) about this book in December 2014. Rather than pester him with another interview, we asked Cully if he could give us an update on how things were going with himself and his H2PC effort since we last talked to him. He was happy to oblige:

First, I’d like to thank everyone for the attention and support that
How To Puzzle Cache has received! The book has sold incredibly well, selling copies in a dozen countries, both through me and through a variety of geocaching supply stores around the world. I was also welcomed with open arms at GeoWoodstock this year, selling out of my (admittedly small) book stock before 11am, but I got to meet a lot of readers, sign books and talk to people about puzzles, which is always the best part. I’ve also joined the geocaching community with appearances on Podcacher, and the GeoGearheads podcasts.In the coming months I will be releasing the digital e-book version, and announcing a secret initiative that I think everyone will be very excited about. I also have a few other geocaching publishing endeavors under way, and of course I continue to put out quality puzzle caches for my local cache area.

To learn more about the book, and how to buy it, check out his website at howtopuzzlecache.com. Don’t forget our interview with him on this blog, posted December 23rd, 2014, and check out his interview with Sonny and Sandy on Podcacher episode 497, recorded December 14th, 2014.

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New book: How To Puzzle Cache

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How To Puzzle Cache is a new book (officially released December 13th, 2014) by a Geocacher named Cully Long, AKA childofatom on Geocaching.com. You can click the banner above to go to the website he has created for this 302 page book for more information, including sample pages and ordering information. We at OCNA first heard from Cully in way back in November, 2012, when he was looking for some information about our listing site to include in the appendix for the book. We asked him if he would like to be interviewed by our blog, and even fast track it before the end of 2014. He was happy to sit down and answer some questions for us.

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Author Sara Murray talks with us about GeocacheBooks


As can be seen on the banner above, Author Sara Murray writes children’s fiction books set in real parks, and GPS coordinates will lead you to landmarks in the books. Like so many other interviewees on this blog, we first became aware of her when she made herself known in Geocaching social media circles. The blogger made an immediate note of this; future interview subject! We were originally going to wait for the interview until her first full length book came out, but upon seeing (on social media) that she attended the recent Geocaching Block Party as a vendor, we decided a concept and orgin interview was in order now, and another when the first full length book is released. Clicking the banner takes you to her website, and you can follow Geocachebooks on Twitter and Facebook. On with the interview. 


OCNA Blog: The usual first question: where are you from, when did you start Geocaching, and how did you hear about it?
Sara: I am from Minnesota. I started geocaching in 2009 with my daughter who was 4 at the time. I overheard some friends of mine talking about it and was very interested and so excited that there was little “treasures” hidden everywhere and I never even knew it! They were happy to explain and within a few weeks I bought my first handheld GPS and was enjoying tromping through the woods with my daughter looking for geocaches!

OCNA Blog: How did you first come up with the concept of children’s fiction books set in real parks?
Sara: When my daughter, Madison, was about four years old we heard about geocaching from a friend and decided to try it. We were instantly hooked. When she was 5 years old we started making up our own bedtime stories. We had, and still have, a lot of fun coming up with fantasy characters and neat magical things.

One day while we were at a park geocaching and just enjoying the outdoors I had an idea to start incorporating real landmarks from a real park into our bedtime stories. My intention was to surprise her in the near future by bringing her to that park and watching the story come to life. I used a park from my childhood that I knew well and that night I started incorporating the landmarks and being very specific with my descriptions.

Within about a month I felt I had built up enough of a story with enough landmarks to put the rest of my plan into action. I picked her up from school and told her I had a surprise for her and that we were going to a park.

We started walking up a path in the park where a lot of the landmarks were located. She pointed out a bench on the side of the path and said, “Hey mom, that’s just like the bench in your story.” She was still pretty calm at this point. She realized that the bench was across from a large pond just like in the story, and then she spotted another landmark and started yelling, “Mom! Mom! I know this place! I’m going to the Ravine!” and running for the area in the park where all the really magical stuff happens. It was extremely fun to see her make the realization that we were in the park where our bedtime story took place.

We spent a lot of time walking through the park and I showed her all the real things that I had used in the story. I turned what was a great magical land for exploring from my childhood into something similar for her. It was amazing to watch her imagination put all the elements together and I could see the wonder on her face as she remembered parts of the story and found the real places.

As she was exploring and I was standing in that park taking this all in and feeling very satisfied that it had all worked out as I planned, I had the inspiration to create this same experience for other children, and my very next thought was that I could use GPS and latitude and longitude coordinates to make that happen. It was a huge epiphany. I started brainstorming and outlining the stories that very night over two years ago now.

OCNA Blog: Will you be self-publishing the first book? I would imagine there are advantages to doing that versus pitching the book to publishers. 
Sara: My intention has always been to self-publish the books. This is something that I do in my regular job as a web master for my clients, so I feel comfortable having done it before. That being said, I am not against going the traditional rout with a publisher. You do, however, have a lot more control going the self-publishing avenue; you just have to be willing to do a lot of your own marketing etc…

OCNA Blog: Do you write the stories first, and then go to the parks to get the waypoints for the locations in the story, or vice-versa?
Sara: I have done both. With the first book I wrote the story, and then went out to set the waypoints after it was completed. I was confident in how I set up the story because knew the park very well from my childhood. I knew I might have to adjust some things in the story but overall it went smoothly. When I am traveling and writing the short stories, however, I have no idea what the parks I will visit will be like. So I write the story very loosely, visit the park and pick some points, and finish the writing process after. 

OCNA Blog: You’ve already written a couple short stories, and posted them on your website. Is this just to give people a feel for what the full length books are going to look like?
Sara: Yes, people are very curious about how this all actually works. They can see what it’s like and try it out. The short stories take place in the same “world” as the full length book, but they are told from a slightly different perspective. It also gives me something fun to do while I work on the full length book.

OCNA Blog: Are there any other short stories that will be published before the full-length book is available?
Sara: There will be at least two more short stories available before the book is out. One is about ten pages long and takes place in Eagan, Minnesota. The other is the conclusion to the two ultra-short stories that make up the Dream trilogy. The first of the three stories takes place in Minnesota, the second is in Seattle, and the third will be in Los Angeles, California.  I am sure there will be more of these as time goes by. To get the links to these stories you can visit my site, geocachebooks.com, and sign up there.

OCNA Blog: You’ve created a wordpress powered website and blog for the venture (great job, by the way), and you’ve put your name out there via Twitter and Facebook accounts. Do you feel this is important?
Sara: An online presence and social media is extremely important to generate a fan base and interest. I am familiar with the process and I know what a positive impact it can make for a business. People want to be in touch with you, and know you are a real person. It’s actually been very fun to watch the interest for the books grow, and get to know other geocachers and authors this way.

OCNA Blog: You recently traveled to the Groundspeak Block Party in Seattle, and had a vendor table. Did you get a good response there, as far as promoting the book? How about your overall impressions of the Block Party, just as an attendee?
Sara: I got an awesome response in Seattle at the Block Party. Spending the day talking about the books, and seeing the reaction once people understood how they work was great. My daughter and I had a blast walking around, meeting the Groundspeak staff and getting a tour of the offices. It was great to meet so many other geocachers and hear all kinds of great stories.

OCNA Blog: When can we expect to see the first full length book? 
Sara: I had hoped to get it into print and have it available for purchase before the snow flies in Minnesota, but I am not so sure about that anymore. It’s very important to me to put out a great book with great illustrations. The book is completed, and I am going through a second round of editing right now.  We are about half way through at this point. I am also working with an artist on the illustrations. There will be between 5-7 illustrations including the cover. So far two images are set to be completed, and the rest are in the concept art stage. Once I have the completed manuscript and art I can start the process of self-publishing which should take an additional 4-6 weeks. I think it will be published near the end of November or beginning of December.


We’d like to thank Sara for taking time out of her busy schedule, great interview! And our second consecutive interview with someone from Minnesota, that was just a coincidence, really. We definitely hope to chat with her again at the blog when the first book (title not yet definitely set) is released. In the meantime, be sure to visit her website, and follow her on Twitter and/or Facebook for updates on the progress.

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