Friday, November 12, 2010

Crypto-Capers Author Renee Hand

I am pleased to have children’s author, Renee Hand, with me today. She writes because it is a passion in her heart. She homeschools and likes to create books that educate and inspire. She has written a series of chapter books (ages 9-12) known as “The Crypto-Capers Series.” Her latest is “The Chest of Mystery.” These books encourage children to read by incorporating several topics of interest, and the reader also solves cryptograms and puzzles to solve the case.

Renee is an award-winning author, receiving awards such as a Best Book Award, a National Literary Awards, a Preferred Choice award, and a Seal of Excellence Award in Storytelling for her children’s series and adult books.

Katie: Can you share a brief synopsis of the series?

Renee: In my Crypto-Capers series the reader helps solve the case by solving cryptograms and puzzles, so the reader is actually a part of the story, which makes this series interactive and so much fun to do for children. There are 4-5 cryptograms and word scrambles in each book that the reader needs to solve. On my website I give examples of the kinds of cryptograms I use and how to solve them. They may look intimidating at first, but they’re really quite easy. All of my books are history and science based as well, so the reader is always learning something educational throughout each book. The puzzles also become more challenging as the series progresses, more that the reader gets to do. These books are really a great tool to educate and interest readers.

Katie: Can you share a brief synopsis of “The Chest of Mystery?”

Renee: In The Chest of Mystery the team will travel across the globe to Pisa, Italy where they will have to fight for their freedom, or be captured by the enemy as they search for two unique pieces that will open a treasure room. Their fate drops in the hands of one boy, Emmanuel Watson, whose history is tied to the chest. When so close to accomplishing their goal, obstacles arise, and the scent of betrayal is in the air. The Chest of Mystery is the other half of book 3, The Legend of the Golden Monkey.

Katie: Did your role as a homeschooling mom, and your background in science influence you a lot in writing the Crypto-Capers series? How?

Renee: Of course! I love finding great ways to educate my children. They are big readers and love reading mysteries and animal books, but they also love to learn about the world. I incorporated many topics to cover lots of areas of interest throughout all of my books. My Zoology degree comes into play in my new Joe-Joe Nut series more so than in my Crypto-Capers series. In Joe-Joe I write about animal detectives and animal tracks. Children love it!

Katie: I love it that you have made your books interactive. How did you come up with the ideas for cryptograms and puzzles?

Renee: I love reading mysteries. I always have, but I also love solving cryptograms. I do so almost every night. I thought it would be a great way to get children into reading by incorporating the two things that I enjoy doing by having the reader solve puzzles while being a part of an intriguing story.

Katie: What two pieces of advice would you give to an author who wants to traditionally publish their books?

Renee: Keep trying and don’t give up. Finding a publisher for your work is a frustrating and stressful process. I was fortunate to find my publisher but it is my hard work and dedication that keeps them. I think it helps writers to build up their résumé. I didn’t start in childrens books; I started by writing romance novels. A totally different animal, I know, but it got my foot in the door. My hard work did the rest. Now, I have 7 books published, have won awards. I write freelance here and there and write book reviews for some major publishers. I have worked hard on my writing style and creating the voice I want my readers to become familiar with. Am I perfect? Absolutely not! But I have seen improvement in my own writing since my very first book. I constantly work on my writing by being involved with other things and putting my work out there for the world to see. I have gotten more opportunities now than ever before, but it all started with that first book being published about 5 years ago. Do you have to have a traditional publisher to be successful? No! I know some people who have had great success by being self published or by having e-books. The success of a book rests on the author’s shoulders no matter which way you go, and the amount of effort put in to promote it and get the word out there for it. I am thankful for the opportunities and the people who have believed in me during my journey as a writer over the years. I have learned a lot since that first book.

Kate: Anything more you would like to add?

Renee: Yes. Check out my website at to learn more about all of my books. My Joe-Joe Nut series is perfect for children in 2nd grade and up. The books in my Crypto-Capers series need to be read in order, as the cryptograms and puzzles become more challenging, and the reader needs to have that foundation built from book 1. I also recommend the reader writes all cryptograms and cipher keys on a piece of paper to solve all puzzles, that way it saves the books so they can be reused or passed down to other siblings. My books are also available through Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other bookstores big and small. Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I appreciate the opportunity.

Katie: Thanks for being a guest on my blog today. You can learn more about Renee and her books at


Renee Hand said...

Thank you so much, Katie! I greatly appreciate the opportunity.

Renee Hand

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fun book. Actually the whole series of books sounds like fun. I think it is great that they are interactive and that they get more challenging as you progress through the series.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great interview, Katie.

I bet kids love your books, Renee. They sound like fun as well as educational. A super combination.

Renee Hand said...

Thank you so much everyone. I appreciate your comments.


widdershins said...

Now if only Renee would write these for grown-ups!