Hey there everyone!
I hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed our spotlight on YA author Sara Zarr and Gracen's review of Carnal Cravings by Keta Diablo.
Because I appreciate authors who say yes when I invite them to blog with us, I try to read everything they write, or at least as much as I can get my hands on from the library. I try not to buy books because, well, the idea here is to get others to buy them after they've been here. Plus, I am a horrid pack rat and refuse to get rid of books. I love books and I keep everyone I've ever bought (including textbooks) because, I have learned that they'll always come in handy from time to time either as a reread for enjoyment or as a reference. Since I would soon run out of room if I purchased YA books before I knew if I liked the author's voice or not, I rent from the library whenever possible. As I find a YA author not on their list, I plan on trying to change that.
This weekend, I read a couple of entries from the anthology Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?. I haven't posted my review on Shelfari yet because I haven't finished it. I kind of want to read all of the entries if I can.
However, I think that this book is definitely good for all YA to read and can become a good discussion point between parents and children. The essays in this book are a multi-faceted teaching tool. It explains to adults (mostly parents, but not always) how they can, without intending to do so, effect the eating habits of their children. Don't be fooled, eating habits have less to do with knowing what makes a good, well-balanced meal than they do with environment, self-esteem and tastes.
For example, how many of you remember those cartoon ads that said, Don't Drown Your Food in mayo, ketchup or goo? Well, I do, but it hasn't made much difference in how I eat my food. As much as I like the taste of a potato, if I want sour cream on it, I'll put sour cream on it. If I want to taste the butter on my potatoes, I'll add a bit more than usual. As for my eggs, I like cheese on them [yeah, yeah, I know big shocker with me being from Wisconsin and all].
And, if you read some of the parent magazines, they can suggest mixing peas with honey because it's sweet and sticky and it can be "fun" for kids to try to see how many peas they can get stuck on the spoon or knife. There are other similar suggestions like this such as covering broccoli with cheese. Why? Because kids naturally do not like the taste of vegetables, especially when they know what junk food tastes like. Plus, when you eat the same foods regularly (I have way too many food allergies to try new foods and shellfish can kill me as far as I've been told), you need variety to make it different, so you add things to change the flavor and texture. Some people load their food with spices, some with ketchup, some with gravies and some with dairy products. But to what extent, all depends upon the individual eating the food. So, if they learn to eat their vegetables this way, chances are, they will do this as they get older.
So, that leaves self-esteem and environment. Well, if a person can feel good about themselves, they can be comfortable with their bodies, it kind of goes hand-in-hand. If a person feels bad about themselves, chances are they won't feel good about their bodies.
As you can probably figure out, the environment a child lives in shapes a child's self esteem and how he/she sees food. If you use ice cream or some other sweet treat to comfort a troubled (upset, hurt, etc.) child, as Pavlov's dog learned to salivate to a bell, so will a child learn to eat when depressed. Same goes if that child sees a parent eating when depressed or upset, that's what they'll do. Of course, if you teach a child to treat food like an enemy (in other words, teach them to equate "thin" with "pretty"), that can make them accept or develop eating disorders more readily.
Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Sure, it seems like common sense that everyone should know. But, we all do it, destroy a child's self-esteem, again and again without thinking about it. We do it as children when we innocently describe someone as fat because we don't know any other way to describe them when someone doesn't recognize them by name and other factors such as hair color or style or the presence of eyeglasses won't help. We do it as adults by hooting and hollering for too-thin women or overly muscled men. We do it as parents when we demonstrate/reinforce poor eating habits, make snide comments about out of shape or imperfect people, making direct comments about they way a child looks, or constantly subject them to the media's idea of what makes a "fabulous" body. We do it as grandparents when we try to counteract those effects. We are surrounded by the potential to develop poor eating habits.
So, how do you, as a parent or grandparent, combat these issues and reduce the risk of an eating disorder?
1. Demonstrate good eating habits by eating properly yourself
2. Do not use food to make someone "feel better"
3. Encourage good exercise habits as well as serving size limits
4. Show your children the images of the best looking women of the past - you'll learn something interesting.
Well, when you look at the beauties of old, you see that even though they were thin later on, when they started, they looked like the rest of us, curvy.
Norma Jean Baker's (bust-waist-hips) measurements fluctuated all her life and on different sites will be stated anywhere between 36-24-34 to 38-23-36. [I know, when she died, she was 5'7" and 117 pounds and had size 7 shoe, but you get the point, she wasn't perfect, not by a long shot, but confidence made her sexy.]
Rita Hayworth's measurements (during the war years): 36.5-C-24-36 and she was 5'6" and 120lb with a size 5.5 shoe. One of the biggest sex symbols of all time.
They were curvy, and if you looked at them right, you could see that their stomachs, while small, were not flat.
While thin, they were not flat, but curvy. If interested, check out some current actresses measurements. But Kate Winslet [check out this article] has to be the best example because she makes a 29 inch waist sexy.
But that's not the only thing to do. Do your research and be sure to point out that most of these so-called "perfect" sex symbols were not happy.
Someone posted a similar question to Yahoo! answers (UK and Ireland). Check it out because the general consensus is that what makes a person beautiful comes from inside. If you are happy with your self and smile from within, the beauty radiates from the inside out, but they make equally good points that being really heavy is not good for your health.
What does all of this have to do with Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?. Well, the book can be used to help teach people the effect their words can have on other people and how important it is to learn to accept people for who they are not what they look like. It can be a tool to help children with similar issues learn that they are not alone in how they feel and offer tools that can help them to start changing things for the betterment of themselves and do it the right way.
What about you? Do you have any similar stories to tell?
Monday, July 27, 2009
Hey there everyone!
Whispered by Carrie at 2:55 AM
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Today Sara Zarr stands here in our spotlight answering questions I ask her, and any that you [the reader] can think of.
Sara - like many writers, performers and actors - comes from a family of creative people. A big part of her entertainment came from the library. For a kid, the library is a free form of entertainment and escapism and Sara's family took full advantage of that, as you can read about in her bio.
Like many authors are doing these days, Sara has created a really nice FAQ Page and a very in depth section on why she writes called, On Writing. She also tends to cover some very interesting topics on her blog.
Let's get to the fun stuff!
I just finished reading Story of a Girl and Sweethearts – both were fantastic! I wasn’t just watching a story unfold, but I felt I was right there, next to the main characters. Very well done. [Click here to see my comments about these books and her short stories on shelfari.]
Utah living has influenced your writing, as can be seen in Sweethearts:
Q. Did you take the school referred to in Sweethearts from reality or is it completely made up?
A. I made it up, and I can't remember exactly why I chose a small charter school as the setting. I think it just felt like something that would help me control the plot a little more easily and make the backdrop a bit more interesting.
Q. How did you know that these kids (non-Mormon) were treated that way? Was it something you observed or learned about through children and parents that you met?
A. I only moved to Utah after age 30, so I don't have personal experience in that regard, but having talked to non-Mormon friends who grew up here (and some parents who live here) I did hear some stories about how religion can be a dividing line, socially, for kids. Of course that's true in any community where one race, ethnicity, class, or religion is predominant. It has nothing to do with Mormonism - it's human nature to divide ourselves into insider/outsider cultures.
Q. Both of the main characters are on the fringe of society. What made you choose this character type over say a more popular girl?
A. Outsiders tend to make more interesting stories, I think. Most people feel like outsiders when they are teens, whether they really are or not, and giving the characters some tangible outsider-ness helps give flesh to that feeling of being alone, like no one understands you, or that you've got some kind of dual real/fake self.
Q. Would it be safe to say that you draw heavily on some of your own personal experiences to tell Cameron’s and Jennifer’s story?
A. Yes and no. The story was inspired by a childhood friendship I had. Through the wonders of the Internet, the boy and I found each other again in adulthood and I was curious to explore what makes that bond so strong though we hadn't seen each other in 25 years or so. And of course I always relate emotionally to my characters. But, the details of Jenna/Jennifer's life, the details of Cameron's life, those are made up.
Q. Story of a Girl seems like such an unfinished novel because we readers aren’t really sure what’s going to happen with all three of them (in truth, it is unlikely that Lee and Jason will stay together forever and there seems to be unfinished business between Jason and Deanna. Now, I know you state that you have no plans on writing a sequel (however, I hope you do because these are some really interesting characters and I’d like to know more about them), but could you please share a little bit on what you feel their story might be if you decided to write more about them?
A. Well, they are all very real to me, and I imagine they're out in the world living their lives. I picture Deanna at community college, making new friends and playing a role in her baby niece's life. Her relationship with her parents is still conflicted, I'm sure. Lee probably went away to college and is detaching from her high school experience. And Jason? I don't know. Maybe he got out of Pacifica, but maybe he didn't.
I do get asked a lot for sequels to both Story of a Girl and Sweethearts; I think people want neater endings than I tend to write. If I wrote sequels to either of those I'm sure I would still write ambiguous endings and some readers would want still more!
Q. In December 2008, you participated in the anthology, Does this Book Make Me Look Fat. Please tell us a bit about the story you included in that anthology and why you chose to do participate?
It's a collection of essays and stories about body image. Like most women, I've had my share of body issues, and then some. In that essay I focused on the fact that I had to learn how to not hate myself before I could truly make any progress toward positive change. So one reason I participated is that it's a topic I'm always interested in. Another reason is that I try to say yes to almost all writing opportunities, if they fit in with my schedule. Trying new things scares me, and I'm very insecure, so in order to help myself overcome my fears and insecurities about writing I sort of made a deal with myself to try everything I get asked to do. It's a good way to stretch.
Q. Geektastic just came out. What can you tell us about the story you have in that anthology?
A. It's a somewhat humorous piece of short fiction called "This Is My Audition Monologue," and it's written from the point of view of a teen who tries out for every school play but always ends up on the tech crew, and she's fed up. She wants a part! She wants her drama teacher, at the very least, to remember her name. It was fun to write.
Q. Do you like contributing to anthologies?
A. Yes! Working in short-form writing is totally different than writing novels, and as I mentioned I like the chance to push myself and try new things. The Geektastic story was particularly fun because I was in the middle of a really hard revision of Once Was Lost, which is fairly serious. With the short story I could play a little bit.
Q. How do you become involved in them? By invitation or do you search them out?
A. So far they have come by invitation. That's one of the perks of being a published author (and I think my blog helps, too).
Q. Once was Lost is set to come out in October. It sounds like an interesting story. Can you give us a sneak peek into the story? What can you tell us about the story, that’s not on your website?
A. I guess just this: though it's written from the point of view of a pastor's daughter, and it's partly about a crisis of faith, I think readers of any or no religious faith will relate. No matter what beliefs or non-beliefs we grow up with, we all come to a point of questioning and challenging those things and making them truly our own.
Q. As you discuss on your website, and most authors already know, books are usually written well before their release dates. Do you have any projects that you are currently working on? Can you tell us about them please? At least as much as you feel comfortable discussing with us here.
A. Currently I'm working on my fourth YA novel. I'm in the not-talking-about-it stage right now, sorry! All I'll say is that it was one of those unexpected ideas that came about when I was doing a simple writing warm-up from a book of writing exercises (Naming the World, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston).
Q. Is there anything going on with teens today that you think should be covered? Needs they have that authors could meet? What and why?
A. "Meeting needs" is a lot of pressure to put on an author. Sometimes in young people's publishing, people expect writers to be social workers, therapists, experts on particular issues, parents, and teachers. We're not - we're writers, telling all kinds of different stories. That said, I think the huge range of stories, styles, and formats available in YA fiction now covers pretty much all the bases!
Q. I was actually thinking of them in terms of readers, such as, what they want to read (not what parents expect writers to do, but what teens, as readers, want from authors). Have you been hearing any calls for certain types of stories recently? Just to give us an idea of what kind of trend we might start to see.
A. I think there are going to be more stories about faith and the religious lives of teens over the next couple of years, as this has been one area that's been a little thin.
Q. Can you tell us about your awards?
A. Both Story of a Girl and Sweethearts have gotten some award action. The biggest for me was that Story of a Girl was one of five finalists (in its category) for the National Book Award in 2007. It's given by a panel of other writers, so it's kind of like the Screen Actors Guild award for writers in that it comes from your peers, who do what you do and know all the little details of the craft. So that meant a lot. Plus there is all this hoopla and a black tie dinner and a press conference that makes you feel like a celebrity for a couple of days.
Getting awards and being named to lists is of course great for the ego, and can be good for your career (though it may or may not translate into more sales), and can help you find a wider audience. However, awards and lists don't necessarily do those things, and don't make the process of writing any easier, don't magically give you confidence, don't fundamentally change anything about you. And, they don't matter much to anyone outside of the publishing and book world. When I found out about being a NBA finalist, I discovered that most of my friends and family had never even heard of the National Book Award! So that's humbling, in a good way.
I would like to thank Sara for joining us today. Feel free to leave your comments or ask Sara questions!
Friday, July 24, 2009
By Keta Diablo
Buy From Dark Roast Press
Warning: m/m gay fiction
Just like with Decadent Deceptions by Keta Diablo, she again drew me in and I couldn’t tear myself away. From almost the beginning, she had me holding my breath when Craven and Anthony are caught by the hooded figure on Beresford’s property. And then anxious again as Crave awaits his punishment for trespassing.
Carnal Cravings was a great read from beginning to end, spicy hot, but you’re forewarned, if you don’t enjoy gay fiction, then skip it. But if you do, pick it up and be prepared to love it as much as I did. Because I loved it so much, I gave Keta 5 out 5 MLM kisses!!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Reese’s Sites are:
How long did it take you to become published?
How long does it take for you to write books?
Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?
Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
Do you write your stories out with pencil and paper first or do you work straight on the computer?
Thanks so much for joining us today, Reese! It was an honor and a pleasure getting to know you!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I have a problem. As you can probably tell from the title of this post, my problem is inspiration. Too much inspiration. I am literally brimming with ideas for new stories, each vying for the right to be written first. It's like a pay-per-view boxing match and my mind is the arena. Just the other day, for instance, I was struck by inspiration twice in the same day - for two totally different (style, genre) books - that I just had to start right then or else risk losing the idea. What's wrong with this? Well, nothing, except for the fact that these new ideas are vying for supremacy over the ones I already have in the works.
Now normally, I wouldn't be bothered by this sudden influx of creativity. I know how quixotic creativity can be. Some days, you have absolutely nothing to work with and others, well, you already know about that, don't you? But my sudden surge in creativity is coming at an inopportune time for me. For one thing, my younger daughter's computer finally died a quiet death, so now I have to compete with her for time on my computer. For another thing, that same daughter has some medical and dental issues that have been eating up a lot of my time lately. So of course my muse would pick this time to pump up on steroids and flood my mind with a bevy of ideas that I just have to write now. Oh, well, at least I'll have these ideas to work on when my muse takes a cruise in the winter.
So my question to you is, has this ever happened to you and how did you handle it? If you have an suggestions for me on how to wrangle my muse or at least corral these ideas, I would greatly appreciate it. ~ Margay
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Why Don't Suspense Heroes Like To Read?
by David Liss
Have you ever noticed that in suspense novels writers almost never depict protagonists who read, or even like, books? Yes, I am sure there are lots of exceptions out there, but these are exceptions that prove the rule. If a detective or a spy or an attorney has some down time in the novel, he or she will turn on the television, practice the harpsichord, brush up their Tagalog or indulge whatever obscure, character-developing hobbies they may have developed over the course of their unusual life. They rarely read.
Why is that? Why do writers seem so reluctant to make their heroic protagonists readers? I think part of it is the anti-intellectual stigma we have in American life that posits reading as somehow the opposite of doing. Readers are not doing anything of value, after all. If Secret Agent Jones is not busy uncovering terrorist plots, then he can working on his vintage Ferrari, because that gives him depth and makes him cool. If, on the other hand, we see him relaxing after a hard day by losing himself in Middlemarch, we can pretty much assume that it’s only a matter of time before the terrorists get the drop on him.
Several years ago I was on a panel of thriller writers, and the moderator asked us all to talk about how we researched our books. Everyone else had much to say about their exciting lives: This one spent weeks living with real smoke-jumpers; that one joined a daring smuggling venture across the heavily-guarded Freedonian border. Me? I spent a lot of time in the library. I could tell from the response of the audience that this was a let down. And sure, the library doesn’t make for great anecdotes – though there were some scary paper cuts – I think it’s a perfectly reasonable way to go. Historical novelists, of course, often have no choice but to rely on library work. Until we get that time machine working properly, and I get over the urge to go back in time and kill my own ancestors just for the fun of creating a paradox, the library is the best thing going. But somehow, many readers find this vaguely disappointing.
Books, even works of fiction, are supposed to contain some kind of authenticity. Readers expect information to be truthful. You can go to a historical film and see Vikings riding around on Segues and somehow that’s okay, because it is only a movie. If a novelist puts the wrong color sandals on Jules Cesar’s feet, there is going to be hell to pay.
I also hear this kind of thing from my readers. Just this morning received a very kind email from a man who read a galley of my new novel, which is set in England during the 1720s and, like much of what I write, focuses on a pivotal moment in financial history. “I don’t see anything about it in your biography,” he writes, “but I am sure you must have worked in business yourself, or maybe someone in your family did. I find it hard to believe that you could understand the inner workings of a corporation so well without some kind of personal experience.” Thank you, sir, for your very kind praise, but other than some office temp jobs. I’ve learned many things from my family, but not much of it is useful when writing about economic history. On the other hand, as Henry James wisely observes in “The Art of Fiction,” a mere glimpse of something, when combined with the writers experience, can be synthesized to produce the illusion of reality.
And that’s pretty much what I try to do. My research provides me with the details that cannot be obtained otherwise, and combined with the experience of the world that most human beings acquire through being alive, I can reasonably hypothesize how a particular kind of person would respond under particular circumstances. A lifetime in business would be one way to get that information, but personally I think research is better because when I’m done with one novel, I can go learn about something else and writer a different one. In any case this system has worked for me and enabled me to write about the kinds of characters I want to write about. Who often read, by the way.
David Liss is the author of five novels, with more on the way. His debut novel, A Conspiracy of Paper (2000) with its hero, the pugilist turned private investigator Benjamin Weaver, was named a New York Times Notable Book and won him the 2001 Barry, MacAvity and Edgar awards for Best First Novel. David's second novel, The Coffee Trader (2003) was also named a New York Times Notable Book and was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the year's 25 Books to Remember. His third novel A Spectacle of Corruption (2004) the sequel to A Conspiracy of Paper, became a national bestseller. David's fourth novel, The Ethical Assassin (2006) is his first full-length work that is not historical fiction. David's most recent novel, The Whiskey Rebels, is set in 1790's Philadelphia and New York. The third Benjamin Weaver novel, The Devil's Company, will be in stores in late 2009.
Born in New Jersey and raised in Florida, David is, in fact, a one-time encylopedia salesman. He received his B.A. from Syracuse University, an M.A. from Georgia State Universty and his M.Phil from Columbia University, where he left his dissertation unfinished to pursue his writing career.
David lives in San Antonio with his wife and children. You can visit his website at www.DavidLiss.com.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I hope everyone had a good weekend. I do not have writer's block, but I have blogger's block. Even as I write this, I have no idea what to blog about, no clue. Any ideas?
I think it's because I am still working on the YA Spotlight project right now, needing to get dishes done because I put them off all weekend because of commitments. The highlight had to be Sunday. My husband and I stopped by the birthday party of a family friend, someone I've known since I was little. I didn't get a chance to see her at my wedding reception, and I really just wanted to see her and say hi, so we went and stayed all of about an hour or so, just long enough to pass our birthday wishes to the birthday girl, speak to a couple of the people who worked with my parents and the sister of the birthday girl. It was nice to see them, and the fact that she was 90, made it feel like it was something I had to do.
Of course, my husband felt out of place, and so did I, a bit, only because we crashed the party. Yes, I admit it, we weren't invited, but I really wanted to see both the birthday girl and her sister while there was still a chance to do so. We didn't stay and eat because we weren't invited, we felt it would be wrong. (However, as we said goodbye, the birthday girl told us we could have eaten anyway and took great care to make sure we were okay, which is one of the reasons I have always liked and respected her.)
This visit was also hard for me because it made me revisit/remember some difficult times in my life, such as when both of my parents lost their jobs (the first time) when I was in grade school. My life changed quite a bit after that time, even though I stayed in the same parochial school, even though I didn't want to stay there. See, I didn't have a choice about being there, so I figured I'd control what I could. Just because I was forced to go to school there, it didn't mean I had to be friends with them if I didn't want to.
Of course, because it was a parochial school, the teachers couldn't leave well enough alone and tried to force me to socialize. That had the opposite effect. I closed off even more. I honestly did prefer to eat my lunches alone and did my best to do so, even when they tried to have kids sit down and eat with me.
I know my parents thought they were doing what was best for me, but I wonder what school would have been like had I attended public school for 7th and 8th grade. Would I have met some of the people I associated with earlier? Would it have changed who I hung around when I got to high school? Would it have changed what I chose to study when I got to college? Would I have still met my husband, or would that have turned out differently too?
But, since I can't change anything, I don't waste my time about what ifs, unless I'm trying to figure out a storyline.
What about you, do you ever stop to consider what ifs?
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Hey there everyone!
I found Brian Pratt the same way I found last week's author, Linda Dawda, from an amazon.com search of YA authors. While I cannot find his books in my local library, I am very glad I found this author because I happen to be a fan of sci-fi/fantasy stories.
When you look up Brian on his website, you'll discover that he was born in Modesto, California, graduated high school in 1985 and went straight into the Air Force where he was trained as an Avionic Specialist on the F-117A Stealth Fighter.
When Brian's tour of duty was over, he joined Pizza Hut as a delivery driver where he quickly rose to become a General Manager of a delivery unit in Edmonds, WA. You'll also learn that after a short stint as a taxi driver, he spent two years as a driving instructor and that he now writes full time.
Currently, Brian Pratt lives with his three children, Joseph, Breanna and Abigayle in Lynnwood, WA. On his website, Brian confesses that he always had a book in his hand and read every chance he got. [I think that just about every author could say the same thing. I know it was true for me, even reading during class in grade school.]
Brian is a self-published author of 14 books and has sold over 8,000 copies in both print and eBook form since his first book came out in December 2005.
What you'll also find on his website is a link to a free copy of The Unsuspecting Mage: The Morcyth Saga Book One in eBook form, which you can find by clicking here.
[I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, because I am still working on his latest book, The Adventurer's Guild, but I will be working on it soon.]
If you wish to learn more about the Morcyth Saga, check out Brian's website for a series overview and book descriptions.
Brian's latest release is called The Adventurer's Guild. I have managed to read the first 26 pages and I am already hooked. I was extremely impressed with how he laid the foundation for the town and the history he created for it. In truth, I felt that I knew enough about his work to say that he has a talent and a knack for writing a good adventure and he considers all the angles.
But don't let my opinion be the one that guides you, make that decision for yourself. Until July 25th, 2009, readers can take advantage of a wonderful special from the author, a free copy in eBook form! That's right, for the next seven days, readers will be able to download a free copy of The Adventurer's Guild! Click here for more details and be sure to use this code: ZS77B.
Enough from me though, let's here what Brian has to say:
"The Morcyth Saga continues to be my biggest seller though it is written in present tense (I know, but what did I know when I started?) The rest of my books are in past tense. It is also my roughest series, the later ones read much smoother.
My books are simply fun adventures written at about the 5th-7th grade reading level. No sex, profanity, or explicit gore. About the most graphic parts are contained in the sword battles. Younger readers would probably enjoy The Broken Key Trilogy or The Adventurer's Guild most. The Adventurer's Guild is quite amusing. The Dungeon Crawler Series is just that. The story begins with a group in an RPG (role-playing game) style dungeon complete with monsters, traps, and treasure, and they have to fight their way out. Again, nothing over a PG-13 rating.
Why did I decide to write The Morcyth Saga? I suppose the main reason was due to the many series, which were currently popular at the time. Series that in the beginning grabbed hold of me and wouldn't let go, but then over time began to lose momentum in a mire of subplots and overlong descriptive paragraphs, which I found myself skipping. When I realized I was skipping pages at a time to pass through a subplot that didn't really move the story along to get to the what I would consider the `good points' (action, adventure, actually seeing the main characters) I figured I could do better.
So I set out to write a series in which the reader followed the main character 90% of the time, action or points of interest were in every chapter, and descriptive content was down to a minimum. As a reader I knew I could create my own visualization of surroundings and figured others could to. I mean, do you really need me to go in depth as to what a teenage boy's room looks like? Doesn't `messy boy's room' bring up an instant visual? Stuff like that is what I mean. Certainly there are those who prefer grand descriptive content and a myriad of plots that takes a notepad to keep track of. To them I would say The Morcyth Saga is not for you.
As to the story itself, I was a role player decades ago in high school. And I got to thinking about how interesting it would be should a gamer be thrust into a world in which his gaming experiences could help him thrive. After all, if you take a person from our world and thrust them into a world of magic, wouldn't it be helpful to select someone who would be more amenable to the prospect of magic? Perhaps one whose very interests were along those lines? That was how James came into being, a high school senior who loves creating and then running his friends through his creation.
The Morcyth Saga and The Broken Key Trilogy are both written along gaming lines. The Morcyth Saga is about a gamer that is thrust into a world of magic while The Broken Key Trilogy is written in role-playing style."
Here's a look at Brian's book list:
The Unsuspecting Mage (First book I published)
Fires of Prophecy
Warrior Priest of Dmon-Li
Trail of the Gods
The Star of Morcyth
Shades of the Past
The Mists of Sorrow
Travail of The Dark Mage
(1 of 5 completed) sequel to The Morcyth Saga
Light in the Barren Lands
The Broken Key Trilogy
Hunter of the Horde
The Adventurer's Guild
Jaikus and Reneeke Join the Guild
Dungeon Crawler Adventures
Ring of the Or'tux
Now, let's hear some more from the author:
"Paperbacks are only available on-line through most of the major retailer. This is one of the drawbacks of being self-published. No one wants to take the chance on you. Actually, if you are over in Massachusetts, there is one bookstore there that stocks them, or at least most of them.
For info on self-publishing, go to:
and scroll down about midway, you'll find it on the left edge of the page. POD means "Print-On-Demand"
When I first began the self-published journey, I used iUniverse as my publisher. Now though, I do it through other companies like Lightning Source, which if one is able, will generate more royalties.
For previews and excerpts, go to Smashwords and you can download the 25% of any of my books for free, except Light in the Barren Lands. All eBook formats are available.
Has there been anything that has helped me to write better? Yes there was. A site called FanStory helped me to refine my writing and be more aware of proper grammar. At FanStory, members submit stories or poems and others critique. Critiquing others certainly helped me to catch more mistakes in my own writing. I would recommend FanStory.com to any wannabe writer who sets out on the self-publishing road."
Because I played AD&D, I just had to know more about that part of his life. Here's what Brian had to say:
"The gaming side, as far as running a bonafide D&D style game, happened primarily during my high school years. I belonged to the chess club, but it was really just a bunch of us who played during lunch and on weekends. After high school, I primarily played on computer games, solo for the most part.
The part I enjoyed the most about RPG gaming was the construction of the worlds. Designing the dungeons and various campaigns through which I would take my friends. That, I suppose, transposed into my love of writing adventures in the fantasy genre that many people have embraced and follow.
My boy likes RPG games with the computer, but for the pen and paper type, no. Currently we are enjoying Fate, which is a computer game that is very much like D&D. You fight monsters, have magic, descend into a dungeon, etc. My girls have interests in other areas."
Have any questions? Feel free to ask Brian some questions when you comment! He'll check in through out the day and try to answer your questions. Be sure to thank him for the free eBooks!
Whispered by Carrie at 3:46 AM
Friday, July 17, 2009
So, I did a quick search on the web and found 10 benefits to kissing. Yes! You heard right. There are benefits, healthy benefits, to kissing! Woot! Now, I’m not saying it is accurate information, but it was fun, so let me give them to you:
1. “Those who kiss their partner goodbye each morning live five years longer than those who don’t.”
Pucker up baby because I’m expanding my living years to 105! LOL I've always said I wanted to live to be 100, so why not 105? But seriously, the thought that a simple kiss each morning can make you live five years longer than those that don’t pucker up. Wow! That’s a better excuse to pucker up each morning than any other I've ever heard of.
2. “Kissing is great for self-esteem. It makes you feel appreciated and helps your state of mind.”
Hmmm….okay. I’ve never thought of it like this before. Personally, I like hearing “thank you” to make me feel appreciated. But, a “thank you” and then a kiss could mean I’m extra appreciated.
3. “Kissing burns calories, 2-3 calories a minute and can double your metabolic rate. Research claims that three passionate kisses a day (at least lasting 20 seconds each) will cause you to loose an entire extra pound! It's time to start that kissing diet!”
Oh, hell, yes! Finally a fun and easy way to loose weight! Woot! Woot!! Kiss me baby one more time! Kiss me! Kiss me! Kiss me! Kiss me all night long! Who knew losing weight could be so much fun!
4. “Kissing is a known stress-reliever. Passionate kissing relieves tension, reduces negative energy and produces a sense of well being, lowering your cortisol ‘stress’ hormone.”
Oh, yeah, there is nothing more relaxing than a nice kiss. Makes all my world worries melt away.
5. “Kissing uses 30 facial muscles and it helps keep the facial muscles tight, preventing baggy cheeks! The tension in the muscles caused by a passionate kiss helps smooth the skin and increases the circulation.”
More reasons to stay puckered up! It makes us look younger! This just gets better and better!
6. “Kissing is good for the heart, as it creates an adrenaline which causes your heart to pump more blood around your body. Frequent kissing has scientifically been proven to stabilize cardiovascular activity, decrease blood pressure and cholesterol.”
Well, why didn’t my cardiologist say this before? I love getting the heart pumping this way! lol
7. “Those who kiss quite frequently are less likely to suffer from stomach, bladder and blood infections.”
Hmm…interesting again. So us kissing fiends are healthier in more than one way. Kiss away!
8. “During a kiss, natural antibiotics are secreted in the saliva. Also, the saliva contains a type of anesthetic that helps relieve pain.”
Again…interesting. I don’t think the drug companies want this to become common knowledge! The anarchy that would ensue if we knew drugs weren’t needed, but kisses instead! Let's go green together baby and kiss the infections away! LOL
9. “Kissing reduces anxiety and stops the 'noise' in your mind. It increases the levels of oxytocin, an extremely calming hormone that produces a feeling of peace.”
ACK! *slams down on the brakes* Now, wait a minute. I don’t want the 'noise' to stop in my mind! It helps me write! *kicks a can* This is the first not good thing about kissing. *sulks*
10. “The endorphins produced by kissing are 200 times more powerful than morphine.”
Let’s kiss baby and get high together! LOL Who knew!
I hope everyone has a naughty weekend! And pucker up as much as possible! It's heart healthy and it's free! lol
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Since first traveling to Europe between college semesters I've been trying to pack lightly and take off whenever the chance arises. So it wasn't surprising that when I started to write my first novel I was sitting on a beach on Greek island with no intention of moving until my cash wore out. Wondrous landscapes and fantastical characters surrounded me. Theatre is my family tree; my mother was an actress, my great uncles were in Vaudeville and I re-lived my English incarnation as Lady Bracknell in my high school production of "The Importance of Being Earnest."
Nothing is more fun than rehearsals. Greeks eating and acting and discussing every imaginable subject seemed like the perfect co-conspirators on my imaginary island. Love of course is always a part of my life; my friends and my lovers are the stars of the show.
Besides loving to write, I have some perspectives -- on love, travel, spirituality -- that I wanted to share and I hit upon the fictional memoir as a venue that would give me the latitude to do that. I love writing songs too, but those are one story at a time.
Then there is Proust, who said-- you read a novel to learn about yourself. I think you write one for the same reason.
To learn about Barbara Bonfigli and Café Tempest, feel free to visit any of these sites.
Barbara Bonfigli’s website – www.cafetempest.com
Order Café Tempest directly from the publisher - http://www.tellmepress.com/pub_ct.php or from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Café-Tempest-Adventures-Small-Island/dp/0981645313
To see the complete tour schedule visit http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2009/05/cafe-tempest-by-barbara-bonfigli-summer.html
About Barbara Bonfigli
Barbara is an author, lyricist and theatrical producer. When she isn’t writing songs or travel articles, or producing shows, she packs some French roast and catches a plane to Athens. Then a ferry or a hydrofoil to... but that's classified.
She hitchhiked to Greece in her first nomadic summer, and discovered her native land. She’s been exploring it ever since -- hiking in the Pelion, kayaking in the Dodecanese, sailing the Aegean. In a tiny seaside taverna, over fried kalamari and a pitcher of homemade red, a few Greek families and she watched Obama conquer Berlin.
Maps are her recreational drug of choice. After wearing out five passports and four continents she uncorked her memories and imagination -- and a bottle or two of retsina -- to write her first novel, "Café Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island". It's a kind of "A Year in Provence" meets "Zorba the Greek". You are invited to the mythical island of Pharos, to laugh and dance in the hammock, not the cradle of Western civilization.
About Café Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island
What is it about Greece that makes it so exotic, so romantic, so tantalizing that it’s right at the top of everybody’s bucket list – the one foreign land they’re longing to visit? Our dreams are made on Never on Sunday, Zorba the Greek, and more recently My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Mama Mia.
Café Tempest: Adventures on a Small Greek Island is a witty, evocative, beautifully written novel that puts you right in the heart of Greek island life. It’s so alive with the sights and smells and tastes and characters of Greece that you can pick it up and start your Mediterranean vacation on page one. On a deeper level, the book is filled with the kinds of observations, reflections, and arc of self-discovery that make Eat, Pray, Love so compelling.
“Welcome to Pharos. Laugh and dance in the hammock—not the cradle—of Western civilization,” says author, lyricist, and theatrical producer Barbara Bonfigli. “I’ve been falling in love with Greece since I was old enough to drink retsina. But if Sarah hadn’t captured my imagination you’d never know how I feel about friendship, feta, and the abundance of grace that turns friends into lovers and fishermen into kings.”
When Sarah, a thirty-something American theatrical producer, is asked to direct the locals in their summer show, she picks Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. What follows is a hilarious adventure in casting, rehearsing, and consuming. Her neighbors are excited about acting but delirious about eating. Their rehearsals in a deconsecrated church become a feast in four acts.
Armed with a sizzling wit, a dangerously limited Greek vocabulary, and a pitch-perfect ear for drama, Sarah navigates the major egos and minor storms of a cab driver Caliban, a postmaster Prospero, and a host of fishermen dukes and knaves.
When she falls in love, there are even trickier seas to navigate. Her own offstage romance provides an exhilarating, unpredictable counterpoint to Shakespeare’s story of magic, intrigue, and the power of love.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
When I first read about this story on the Class of 2K9 blog, I knew that I had to do something to show my solidarity for a fellow writer in a health crisis. And since writing is what I do best, I decided to write about the plight of this promising author. In December, just before his book, Crash Into Me, was set to debut, Albert suffered a massive stroke and though he recovered physically, he is still struggling to regain his ability to communicate. To speak or even to write. So while he works to regain his ability to do what he so loves, I thought I would show my support by posting about his debut book here and by encouraging readers to check it out and pass the word about Albert. You can read a full press release about Albert here:
Maybe visit him here and leave some encouraging messages:
Or even check out his book here:
Thank you for indulging me with this. ~ Margay
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Due to unforeseen technical difficulties, the intended blog with Alan Furst had to be postponed. If the technical issues are fixed in the immediate future, we'll try to reschedule the blog. Sorry to the readers and fans looking forward to this blog. We'll do our best to make it up to you."
Today, we were set to highlight Random House author Alan Furst, but the material isn't ready yet. So please bear with us. Hopefully, we will have something for you shortly. Thank you for your patience.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Sorry that I haven't posted sooner, but I was busy reading Linda Dawda's, The Elvin Realm and lost track of everything.
I know this is a YA book, but it isn't just for kids. The effect of this book was kind of amazing to say the least. While reading about the kids in this book and about how they transformed from children to young adults for their journey, I was being transformed into a little kid along the way. At one point, I was so distracted from the book by childhood memories of playing outside and some of the adventures I had that I had to laugh. I've read these kinds of books before, and I can tell you, I never felt like I had been transformed into a kid! It wasn't the fact that the characters were kids, it was the fact that their actions and how this unfolds is done so believably that it just draws you in and before you know it, you're hooked!
Seriously, I had woke up and had the lights off, trying to fall back asleep but all I wanted to do was read the book and I really wanted to just read by flashlight! I didn't have one, so I turned on the light by my bed and read some more into the not-so-wee hours of the morning. Then I slept again, woke up and made this post.
What about you? Have you had a similar experience reading a book? What was the name? What happened in the story? How did it transform you?
I can't wait to hear about your reading adventures!
Whispered by Carrie at 12:52 PM
Thank you for taking the time to interview with us! A. F. Stewart’s newest release is Chronicles of the Undead. Her full-length horror novella became available in paperback and e-book in January of 2009!
Author Website: http://afallon.bravehost.com/
Chronicles of the Undead- http://www.squidoo.com/undeadchronicles
Inside Realms- http://www.squidoo.com/fantasycollection
The Elite of the Blood- http://www.squidoo.com/eliteblood
Author’s Blog: http://afstewartblog.blogspot.com/
Lulu Storefront: http://stores.lulu.com/MaeveErin
When/how did you know you wanted to write?
I have written poetry and short stories since I learned to write, and that eventually evolved into writing books. I’ve always had ideas rattling around in my brain clamoring to get out.
Do you use a pseudonym? More than one? Why?
I use my initials instead of my given names, for two reasons. Here in Canada, there is another writer (of cookbooks) with my given name, Anita Stewart and I wanted to avoid any confusion. I also wanted to avoid any possible preconceptions about a woman who writes in the fantasy genre; I write darker fantasy stories and generally stay away from the paranormal romance genre.
What I didn’t anticipate was that people would automatically assume I was a man. I guess it’s a case of be careful what you wish for.
What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?
Always look to improve your writing skills, have patience and don’t take rejections personally. You should also do your research before you decide what publishing route is best for you. There are many options these days: The big traditional houses, the small press publishers, e-book publishing and self-publishing. They all have their pros and cons.
Where do your story ideas come from? Do you use people you know as characters sometimes or even sometimes a certain event from real life happenings?
Ideas just pop into my head. Something strikes me as odd or I ask myself “What if something was this way?” My vampire book started with the thought: “What if you weren’t horrified that your neighbors were vampires?”
I may subconsciously use people I know in my books, but I don’t do it intentionally. If anything, I put parts of my own personality into my characters. I sometimes use real life as starting points for events in my stories and I often put historic events in my writing.
How long does it usually take for you to research a book? Write the book?
It usually takes as long or longer to research the book as it does to write it, since I do a great deal of historical research for my books. I take several months to do preliminary research and sketch out a loose book outline before I start on the first draft. That first draft can take another few months to write (or longer if my muse is being persnickety); I also research as I write to get added details correct. The final edits are the easiest to finish because I know where the book is going at that point and what isn’t working. It is also the point where I do any final research on changes or new plot points to ensure accuracy.
Some authors start out with a plot in mind, others with characters whom they’ll follow to reveal the theme. What works best for you and why?
I usually start out with a plot idea that evolves into a first sentence or paragraph. From there I figure out the main character and the ending; the tough part is writing what goes in-between. I need to know where the story starts and where it ends, in order to write the journey.
When and where can we purchase your books?
I currently have four published books and they can all be purchased at Lulu.com, in both print and ebook form. Inside Realm, my fantasy short story collection, is available on Amazon.com and Chronicles of the Undead is available at Amazon worldwide, as well as Barnes and Noble.com.
What are you reading right now?
The fantasy books, Rise of the Ancients- Annuna by JC De La Torre and The Long-Timers by Matt Lupo, a great crime/mystery, The Wonderful Demise of Benjamin Arnold Guppy by Gina Collia-Suzuki, and an excellent book, Nora’s Soul by Margay Leah Justice.
(Okay, I am officially blushing now. Thanks, A.F.!)
I also have a very long list of to-read books.
Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?
Ray Bradbury, he is the first author who showed me that writing could be both entertaining and have an emotional impact on a writer, and Neil Gaiman who led me down the path to the dark side.
What kinds of books do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
I like all kinds of books: mysteries, fantasy, sci-fi, non-fiction; I’ve even been known to read a historical romance or two. My favourite author is a toss-up between Guy Gavriel Kay and Neil Gaiman.
What do you do to unwind in your free time?
I read of course, and I like to watch DVD’s (I’m partial to action movies). I also dabble in drawing and oil painting.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading — and why?
Good old-fashioned genres like sci-fi, fantasy and mystery. The last book club I belonged to favoured chick-lit books and that is just not what I generally read.
Give us three "Good to Know" facts about you.
1- I’m a total geek. I own numerous movie collectibles, collect sword replicas, can quote Star Wars, and can tell you why the Terminator movie plotline is actually a time paradox. 2-I have some artistic talent in drawing and painting, but I am extremely untalented when it comes to crafts such as sewing, crocheting, embroidery, etc.; I can however knit simple things like baby blankets given a year or two. 3- I can write any poem in thirty minutes or less, if inspired, in fifteen minutes or less.
Many writers have had success writing in different genres. Do you think it is difficult to switch over to another genre?
I think it is a matter of being comfortable with the genre. I have no problem writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry or certain types of non-fiction and I’ve dabbled a bit writing mysteries. However, when I try my hand at romance I always feel awkward and I can’t see myself writing an old-fashioned western.
Do you write more than one kind of book? Do you have a preference? Is one type of book easier to write than another?
My preference is to write fantasy books, although my latest, Chronicles of the Undead crosses over into horror. I have written a volume of free-verse poetry and a small non-fiction book about action movies. I find poetry the easiest to write, probably because it takes the least effort for me to write; poetry has always been second nature for me.
Why did you choose your genre?
It was more that it chose me. As I said, I tried my hand at writing in a few other genres, but it’s always the fantasy stories that keep coming to the forefront of my brain. I probably read too many fairy tales as a child.
What's your next project?
I was working on my non-fiction book, the Incomplete Guide to Action Movies, but I hit a few snags and I decided I needed more time to write a better book. My next book will be my second book of poetry, Shadows of Poetry. I’m also writing a vampire novel, The Elite of the Blood, online.
Thank you so much for joining us today, A.F.! ~ The Moonlighters
Saturday, July 11, 2009
To say that Linda is a very interesting person is an understatement, but you wouldn't really know that by looking at her website, hiddentrees.com. On her website, she has a picture of herself that, while demonstrating her professionalism, does nothing to reveal the writer within.
According to the bio Linda has on her website, she has been happily married to her husband, Tom, for over 20 Years and resides in the North Eastern region of the United States. She has a degree in science and has worked as a Veterinary Technician with a specialty in avian medicine for many years. Linda is the mother of three teenagers named Tom, Rachel and Scott. For those of you familiar with her and her stories, you already know this, but for those not as familiar with this bit of info, the names of her children inspired the names of the Morgan children in her trilogy! [Very neat!]
Her website bio will also tell you that Linda always wanted to write a book and has finally accomplished her goal with The Elvin Realm and soared beyond it with the release of The Rise of Zeflana: The Elvin Realm II. Her love of fantasy and the imagination of her children as well as their names inspired her to write the first book in the Dream Warrior series, The Elvin Realm.
That's all well and good, but what the website doesn't say is lot more interesting and we've got Linda here to give us the scoop on some of that, so I hope you find this interview as fun and interesting as I did conducting it!
Me: So, you’re a vet tech with a specialty in avian medicine. For those of us not familiar with animal medicine, what’s the difference between a regular vet and vet tech?
Linda: A Veterinarian is an animal doctor and a Veterinary Technician is an animal nurse, X-Ray technician, laboratory technician and surgical technician all rolled into one. We have to learn all of these responsibilities where as in the human realm; people must specialize and concentrate on only one of these areas.
Me: What kind of neat birds have you had the opportunity to work with?
Linda: I have had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of birds: the most expensive bird I have helped was a Hyacinth Macaw. They are a very large purple-feathered bird that sells for over $10,000. One of our good clients had 8 macaws; it must have been very noisy in the mornings at that house. Other birds are a assortment of amazons, cockatoos, cockatiels, and a variety of small pet birds.
I have also had the opportunity to work with an Avian Wildlife Rehabilitation Veterinarian. I would assist with the rehabilitation of Owls, Hawks and the majestic Eagle. When the bird was well enough, we would be able to set it free back in the wild, a very rewarding experience.
[Okay, they do look very blue in that first image, but the second one sure looks purple!]
Me: Have you ever worked with a zoo or animal adventure theme park?
Linda: I volunteered at a zoo while completing my residency in college.
Me: Which one and do you still work there?
Linda: The Detroit Zoo, I volunteered during my residency and was able to assist with many surgeries, basic care and I really enjoyed working with the baby animals. Feeding the baby Tigers was amazing.
Me: Where have you put your talents to use?
Linda: I have also developed and taught an Avian Medicine course at a local college. The curriculum consisted of bird species identification, basic skills such as trimming nails, clipping feathers and tube feeding. Also my students learned to draw blood from the tiny veins of the bird, which is quite a task in itself, X-Ray restraint, medical lab tests, proper daily care and training.
Me: Does your job involve traveling to sick patients?
Linda: One of my residency experiences was to work in a large animal practice. We had to go to the patient’s farm to treat them. We treated Horses, cows, goats, sheep, chickens and pigs. Did you know a cow has 4 stomachs? Just some food for thought. And no, you do not get chicken pox from chickens.
Me: Has the travel given you any inspiration for your stories?
Linda: Not really. My stories are all fantasy. The only correlation would be Deano in the story who is actually my daughter’s horse.
Me: As much as many of us want to, we can’t work and write 24/7, even though many of us wish we could. It’s also not mentally possible to constantly work without something giving way. What do you do for fun, to recharge your soul?
Linda: I’m really kind of crazy. I actually tried out for Survivor 5 times but was never chosen, Oh darn. I enjoy any type of outdoor activity such as, gardening, hiking, canoeing, and I really spend a lot of time in the summer on my bike. My husband and I have recumbent bikes, which are extremely comfortable; it is like sitting in a lounge chair while you are peddling. We will ride 25 to 40 miles at a time 2 to 3 times a week. We ride through tree lined trails which cross next to a river, very refreshing and invigorating. Great for releasing stress as the wind blows through your hair and you breathe in the cool clean air.
[okay, all I can say here is wow!]
Me: Where have you traveled to with and without your family?
Linda: Our family loves to travel. We camp and have been to Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, hiked in the Teton Mountains, where we actually found some gold, saw the Flaming Gorge in Utah, Las Vegas, and toured the Grand Canyon. We have also been to the south, Kentucky mountains, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida where we went to Disney World 6 years in a row when the kids were smaller, they love Disney. We have camped in Panama City and went deep sea fishing and snorkeling. We also love to go on cruises. My family is very close because my children are 19, 20 and 21 years old. The kids are best friends and enjoy each other s company and being on a cruise together was one of the best times we have spent together as a family.
Me: How big a part of your life is writing?
Linda: I started writing small stories when I was a teenager, but back then, writing was difficult with a block tablet and a chisel, just kidding. The old pen and paper made writing a chore and I never finished an entire story. When I became a mother and my kids were so adventurous, I thought of stories about them and started to write again but never really thought of actually publishing a book. The invention of the computer really makes writing a pleasure. After J. K. Rawlings became such a world renowned success, I thought wow, she is just a mom and look what she did and she inspired me to actually finish an entire story.
Me: Do you have critiquing friends or are you more of a lone wolf when it comes to working on your ideas?
Linda: My children are where I work my ideas. If I have writers block or am thinking about a new creature or event, I bounce it off them, especially my daughter Rachel. She is fabulous when it comes to imagination. When I finished my first book I let a few friends and teachers read my manuscript to see what they thought and I told them to be brutal. They all gave me their critiques and I was open to them and it made the story better. They all encouraged me to publish the book.
Me: How long did it take you to get your novels done from start to finish?
Linda: The Elvin Realm took me a year and a half to complete. I went through it many times and had many changes until I thought it was right. The Rise of Zeflana only took me nine months to finish. With the experience of The Elvin Realm, the process was much smoother. I am launching The Rise of Zeflana this weekend on my website www.hiddentrees.com, please feel free to visit this site to read about both novels and readers reviews. I am also launching it on Amazon.com.
Me: What kinds of obstacles did you face?
Linda: With The Elvin Realm as my first book I had difficulty imagining the entire book at first. I took each chapter at a time and slowly it came together. The difficult part comes when you want someone to publish your work.
Me: What is your most memorable experience as an author so far?
Linda: I love to do presentations and book signings. I was setting up for a presentation at a local elementary school and a class of 3rd graders came by and asked why I was setting up a castle. I told them I was an author of a book and they got so excited. They all got out pens and wanted me to sign stuff, anything from their note pads, hands, arms and even their baseball caps. They made me feel like a star, it was amazing. Then when they came into the presentation, they all were all holding their autographs and smiling from ear to ear. When I go to a book signing, I dress in character, an elf, bring a castle and explain to the children how a book actually goes from your imagination to a book in your hand. All the steps from taking a story in your head and using your imagination to put it on paper, acquiring the ISBN number, bar codes, illustrator, editing, and finding a printer. Then the book shows up on your door step and wow, your name is actually on the front cover. How cool is that. Then I ask for volunteers and dress them in costumes like the characters in the book, they will be my actors. I ask for more volunteers and they will be the story tellers. One will start a story and the others will expand upon it, which is part of what is on the MEAP tests. As the story unfolds, the actors will act out the story. It is a fun and amazing experience for all as the children learn while having a great time. Then after the presentation, each child who has purchased a book will bring it up to me and I personally sign each one. After the children read the books, they write to me through email and tell me they can’t wait for the next book and when am I going to make the movie. Wow, every author would like their book made into a movie, I’m no exception, but I’m not holding my breath.
Me: Now on to the good part, your books. You said that you’re children inspired you to write your first novel, what role did they play (other than names) in creating the story?
Linda: My three children are the main characters in my book. I have used many of their actual antics and quirks to create their characters in the books. They also gave me ideas to add to the adventure as I was writing. Anders is really one of Tom’s friends, whose name is actually Adam. Adam is a red haired, muscular guy who I affectingly call the wall because no one could get past him in soccer. Tom and Adam are great friends who tease and encourage each other in the book as well as in real life. Deano and Cashanti, the two horses in the books are actually my daughter Rachel’s horses. Her current horse, Deano, performs in equestrian shows, such as dressage, jumping and eventing. Deano in the book jumps over streams and logs just as he does in real life. Scott was actually a State Champion gymnast, which I state in The Elvin Realm. He is very strong and agile and his muscles are ripped from head to toe, which, in the book, allows him to wield a sword so well. My children were the inspiration of both books and are the major part of the story.
Me: In just reading the blurbs for your books on your website, I am left with the impression of several other influences. Would it be fair to say that you were influenced by the Hobbit, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter series, and maybe possibly the movie Labyrinth?
Linda: [Besides those mentioned] I also liked Eragon and the Terry Brooks series, The Sword of Shannara. I love fantasy/adventure and I enjoyed all of those books and movies and yes they all had influence in my book. I did not want to copy anything from the above listed books, but create my own fantasy world in which I could escape to and explore. I wanted to write a book that would have so much action that the reader would never get board and want to keep reading to find out what happens next. When I was young I did not care to read, because I would get board in parts of the book, not keeping my interest I would set the book down and never finish it. Most children these days, with video games and TV need to read a book that will keep their interest. This is how I wrote my book, to some adults it might not be the greatest work of literature, but in the child’s eye, they can see and picture the events happening in their minds and turn it into a movie as they read. Keeping their attention will encourage them to look for more books that interest them, which will in turn, keep them reading. That was my goal from the start, encourage children to put down the game controller and pick up a good book. My books are not just for kids, many adults have purchased my books and emailed me as well wanting to know when the next one will be available. These are the same adults who read Harry Potter, Narnia and Lord of The Rings. Adults too want to escape into another world and pretend for a moment to be a great hero, warrior, princess or even a villain.
Me: Will there be more books in the series?
Linda: At this time, The Rise of Zeflana is the conclusion of The Elvin Realm. I can continue if the readers wish. I want to hear their feedback, which was fabulous for The Elvin Realm. I have my website, www.hiddentrees.com in the back of both books so readers can email me and leave their reviews and feedback or ask questions. It also depends if a large publisher takes on the books, which will expose the story to the entire reading population.
If I do continue the series, I would probably expand on the relationship between Rachel and the Elvin Warrior Russom. Russom became fond of Rachel in The Elvin Realm and fell in love with her in The Rise of Zeflana. Also Tom and Vanquez have a little something going too. We could explore the mountains for treasure, as well as encounter new and exciting creatures. There is always room for more adventure into the Elvin Realm.
Me: If not another Elvin Realm, what is your next writing project and what can you tell us about it?
Linda: I love fantasy/adventure and I write to encourage reading. When I write again you can expect a magical world of new adventure and mystical beings with wild adventure around every corner. That’s what we all need, an occasional escape from reality and the everyday doldrums, to a world of excitement that will get your blood flowing and entice your every thought into the world of fantasy.
Me: Thanks for joining us today Linda and for giving us some great insight into who you are as a person, and as an author. I especially appreciate the glimpses into your two books.
Linda: I want to thank you so much for having me on your author blog. I feel honored to be the first young adult author and have really enjoyed the experience. I hope you enjoyed The Elvin Realm and The Rise of Zeflana and strive keep the fantasy alive.
Me: I now pass the baton to the readers out there! Feel free to ask Linda questions or to tell her what you thought of her books!
Whispered by Carrie at 4:07 AM