Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Jennifer Hartz is a fellow Desert Breeze Author. Her book, Future Savor Book One: Conception will be released tomorrow! Welcome Jennifer!
STEPH: Congratulations on your release of Future Savior Book One: Conception. Can you tell us a little about it?
JENNIFER: First of all, Stephanie thanks so much for having me on your blog. The Future Savior Series is the byproduct of a ridiculously long commute. I have an hour and a half drive… one-way. That's three hours in the car! One day, while driving, I started to daydream about interesting characters and the fantastical land of Meric. I would let my mind conjure up different storylines for my mystical characters, pulling out the things that really worked and filing them away in my memory bank. For three months these daydreams continued until I finally realized I needed to sit down and write.
The best way I can sum up Future Savior is to say that it is a combination of all the stories I have ever loved. It is essentially a Christian fantasy series, similar to The Lord of the Rings, but modernized and with a major romantic storyline as the main focus. There are also some subtle sci-fi elements and a huge cliffhanger that stems from the season finales of my favorite sitcoms. What? We have to wait all summer to find out if Ross and Rachel get together?!
STEPH: Do you cast your characters? If so, who plays the leads? Why do you cast your characters?
JENNIFER: Actually, I did not have particular actors in mind while writing Conception. It was only after the story was complete, and I started milling around author loops and writing chat rooms, did I start to think about who would be great in the roles.
Hands down, without a doubt, and no questions asked Shaw would be perfectly portrayed by Kellan Lutz. If you don't know who he is, he plays Emmet in the Twilight Saga.
I've had a slightly harder time casting Christina, but my mind keeps bouncing between either Allysa Milano or Kate Beckinsale. I guess it depends on my mood, but both of these ladies are fabulous.
Charis is such an interesting and intriguing character that I'm not 100% sure who I would place in that role, but Carla Gugino, the Pocahontas guru in Night at the Museum, keeps popping into my head.
Finally, I place Zak Efron in the role of the obscenely handsome Elf Prince Jonus.
STEPH: What genres do you like to write and why?
JENNIFER: Anything speculative! Or, more specifically, Speculative Christian Fiction. Speculative includes fantasy, sci-fi, horror, urban fantasy, time-travel, and all the other "not so normal" genres. I write this particular genre because this is the genre I'm drawn to. I have always loved anything speculative. From Star Wars to The Chronicles of Narnia and from Harry Potter to Twilight I just can't get enough!
STEPH: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
JENNIFER: The best advice that I can give to anybody thinking about writing a novel is to treat your writing like a job… and not in a bad way, in a scheduling way. Set aside a certain amount of time for your writing and make sure you stick to it, even if it is for only a half an hour a day. My own writing schedule was very minimal. I work as a teacher, my husband works nights, and I have a two year old son. My writing schedule was very lean. I forced myself to write for one hour on the evenings that my husband worked after my son went to bed. Not a lot of time, but even with this meager timetable I was able to complete Future Savior: Conception in two months because I was diligent.
STEPH: Do you use beta readers? Why or why not?
JENNIFER: I have two people read my stories for me as I write them. The first person is my husband. He is NOT a reader… so why do I use him? Well, the way I look at it, if my story can captivate a non-reader then hopefully avid readers will enjoy it as well. The other person I let read my stories is a former student. She is a teenager who devours books like it's her mission in life. Plus she's really into the speculative stuff too. I know that if she likes it I won't be disappointing fans of the genre that I love.
STEPH: Print, eBook, or both?
JENNIFER: When I first learned about eBooks I was one of those people who said, "eBook? Bah! I like to hold a real book." Boy, was I mistaken! After less than twenty-four hours with my own Kindle I came to the realization that, not only are eBooks here to stay, but they're AWESOME! I love the versatility and the sheer volume of books that it can hold. The text-to-speak feature is so cool, especially when editing my own work, and I really like the built in dictionary. What is really ironic is that I actually like holding it better than a "real" book. I can easily hold it with one hand or prop it up without worrying that it will flop closed and I'll lose my place. So cool!
STEPH: What was the last movie you watched at a movie theatre?
JENNIFER: The last movie I watched in a theater was with my two year old son. It was his very first movie in a theater: Toy Story 3. Or "Ta Tum Tewee!" as he called it. ☺ But the last movie that mommy got to see was Eclipse.
STEPH: What's your favorite all time movie and why?
JENNIFER: The Goonies. What's better than a rag-tag group of misfits searching for pirate treasure, while being chased by bad guys, all to a Cindy Lauper enhanced soundtrack!
STEPH: What's your favorite time of year?
JENNIFER: Fall. I think is some strange way Fall makes me think of speculative things. Halloween, witches, ghosts, and all things spooky make me smile.
STEPH: What's your favorite TV show?
JENNIFER: My favorite show of all time was Friends. I literally cried when it ended and I've re-watched them countless times thanks to full seasons on DVD. Right now I don't have a favorite show. I honestly don't have much time for TV. Between work, my son, my husband, church, writing a new novel and promoting Future Savior: Conception, I've forgotten what the television looks like.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Steph. Your questions were a lot of fun!
STEPH: Thanks for popping in, Jennifer. Bon Chance!
Friday, August 27, 2010
I'd like to welcome fellow Desert Breeze author, Danielle Thorne to the Moonlight. Welcome come, Dani!
STEPH: Can you tell us about your latest release, BY HEART AND COMPASS?
DANI: I'd love to, Stephanie. Thanks for having me this week.
BY HEART AND COMPASS is about stepping out of your comfort zone and truly following your heart. Whether it's love, trust or the opportunity to chase adventure, most people hold back because of that niggle of doubt that tells us dreams can't come true. In this adventure, Lacy Whitman finds an antique diary that hints at the location of a long lost shipwreck, and she has to gather her courage to face making a discovery that is more than just pages in a book. She also risks falling for a cynical yet vulnerable dive instructor. Life is all about taking chances and living, and that's what I like to write about.
STEPH: I notice you are drawn to water themes. What's the attraction for you?
DANI: The first time I saw the ocean I was 19-years-old. It had a profound effect. For me, it is a gateway to another world right here on our own planet. Since getting scuba certified a few years ago, I have become very passionate about sea conservation and environmental issues. I had the chance to dive off the coast of Mexico this April, just days after the oil disaster struck in the gulf. It's hard not to wonder if I will ever be able to again down that way. The effects of this crisis break my heart—but I do have my writing to bring the joy and adventure of the sea to other people.
STEPH: What was the inspiration behind BY HEART AND COMPASS?
DANI: I published my first novel, THE PRIVATEER, after over twelve months of in-depth research. The Age of Sail is a fascinating time to me. These were a type of courageous men that you don't see often anymore. When I was finished, I knew I someday wanted to bring the past into the present. Since Blackbeard's ship, The Queen Anne's Revenge, was discovered off the coast of North Carolina, I have enjoyed following the excavation and research that is made available to the public online. These events inspired me to think about what it would be like to discover my own pirate ship. Of course as a teenager I was in love with the pirating adventure film, "Goonies," so I'm sure there was some subliminal influence there as well.
STEPH: Do you cast your characters? If so who are the leads?
DANI: I actually start out with names popping into my head when I create a character, and the general personality follows. Then I do think about books, film, and television and consider people, real and imaginary, that might be similar. But on a whole, no, I do not cast characters in the general sense of the word. However, I do find it very entertaining to talk and read blogs from other authors that do.
STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?
DANI: Plotter. I don't have that ability of being able to write and just "know" where to go. I need to plan out my story with highs, lows, and then let the characters get from A to B, all on their own. I definitely use plot points. I don't like to waste time and hope not to ramble!
STEPH: Do you write any other genres? If so, what?
DANI: Besides contemporary, I write historical, which comes natural to me with my love of research and genealogy. My first Jane Austen-inspired Regency will be released this winter and I'm looking forward to the response. I also have dabbled in juvenile fiction. I finished my first manuscript, DANNY BOY, many years ago. This Huck Finn-type adventure is my baby and we're still looking for a home.
STEPH: What types of books do you like to read?
DANI: I'm very eclectic when it comes to almost all areas of the Arts. Although I primarily pickup romances of varying sub-genres, I also like historical non-fiction and good government suspense adventures.
What's the last movie you saw?
DANIE I just saw the new "Alice in Wonderland" with Johnny Depp. Of course, I am a huge Depp admirer, but it's more of a sisterly affection, I'm not a rabid fan. Maybe it's because sometimes he reminds me of my brother? (Laughs) He is one of the most brilliant actors of our generation and it's a shame he does not get the credit he deserves. No matter what film I see him in, he always becomes his character—he is never himself. I could only hope to be able to stretch myself and write with as much abandon as that man can act. Anyway, I loved the film and thought it was brilliant. It's a new favorite.
STEPH: Do you have any Desert Breeze authors or books you'd like to recommend?
DANI: I have read several Desert Breeze titles and have never been disappointed. That's why I am thrilled to be published by this House. Currently, I am following the Future Imperfect series by P.I. Barrington. Also, the sweet romance, NO OTHER is on my reading summer list, as is THE HUNGARIAN, which is sounding like it's going to be an amazing read.
Dani's book is available:
By Heart and Compass, Desert Breeze Website
"This is the first book that I have read of Ms. Thorne’s but I was captured right from the beginning. I especially like the sayings before each chapter. Read as a pirate would say it. Excellent Book... You’ll be in for a great adventure."
Miss Lynne's Books and More
Rating = 5 Stars - 'A'
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I'd like to welcome fellow 4RV Author, N.A. Sharpe to the blog today. Ms. Sharpe is the author of "If Fishes were Wishes."
Ms. Sharpe's Bio:
N.A. Sharpe was born in Wilmington, Delaware and attended the University of Delaware studying Psychology and Elementary Education. She is a single mom and currently lives in central Florida with her son and two dogs, Scooter (a Yorkie) and NaNu (a Morkie).
Throughout high school and college, she volunteered in the elementary school system, and, after receiving her degree, taught autistic and schizophrenic children in a private school in Pennsylvania for five years before moving on to an administrative career.
She has always had a deep rooted love of storytelling and children's literature. This is her first picture book. She has one fantasy book published and is currently writing a Young Adult fantasy adventure series in collaboration with her son.
The illustrator of "If Fishes were Wishes" is Ginger Nelson.
Ms. Nelson's Bio:
Ginger Nielson is a full time children’s book illustrator who lives at the top of a hill, near the edge of a forest in a semi-rural part of New Hampshire. There is a magic wand on her desk and a dragon in her basement. Everything else is perfectly normal. You can see examples of her work at www.gingernielson.com
Illustrator: Ginger Nielson
Illustrator web site: http://gingernielson.com)
Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Genre: Picture book
Release date: May 10, 2010
-- - - -
JT Trumanowski is a six-year old with a BIG problem…his grandparents! How do you survive a whole weekend alone with them when you do exactly what they say and still end up in so much trouble?!
JT adores his grandparents and is thrilled to be invited to spend the weekend with them. He tries hard to follow their requests to a “T” with one disastrously humorous result after another. “Why can’t they just say what they mean?” he wonders. Talk about a failure to communicate! Join JT as he discovers people may mean what they say, they just don’t always say what they mean…clearly.
"If Wishes were Fishes" is a witty little story that will put a smile on a young reader's face. It is geared for 4-7 year-olds.
JT Trumanowski is a young boy who goes to sleep over his grandparents house. JT takes everything his grandparents say literally, but they are used to speaking more figuratively. Expressions such as "get your ducks in a row," "no more monkey business," and "a penny for your thoughts," get JT into a spot of trouble.
"If Wishes were Fishes," shows children not to take everything so seriously, and to ask if they don't quite understand something. The story is sweetly illustrated by Ginger Nelson. Her illustrations are sharp and appealing.
"If Wishes were Fishes," is a book that will leave young readers with plenty of giggles and thinking of the story long after they've closed the book.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
I'd like to welcome fellow CRR Author, Barri Bryan. Barri's latest release with CRR Publishing is "A Second Splendor."
BARRI: Writing is not only concerned with how a writer writes, it also includes what a writer writes. The fiction writer's aim is to communicate, not only thoughts and ideas, but also feelings and emotions. The expressing of emotions is highly valued but not easily attained. It takes imagination and creative reasoning to communicate honest convictions and to express sincere emotions.
Learning to communicate expressively is not achieved the way you assimilate facts about geography or learn by rote the meanings of symbols. It is, rather a process of practice, discovery, and creation. Writing is an art, but like any art form it has an attending craft. There are skills and abilities that can be recognized and then practiced help you hone that craft.
Expressive writing is not accomplished speedily or through half-hearted efforts. To write expressively a writer must be focused. Focus induces a state of concentration that is intense and absolute.
An expressive writer is perceptive. Perception allows you to create something where nothing existed before, thus filling a void.
Empathy for the feelings and emotions of others is important in expressive writing.
An expressive writer's work has unity. When you write about imagined occurrences, the objective is not just to relate what happened. You want to recount your vision in a way that recreates the mood, and develops the dramatic significance of the event.
An expressive writer is aware. Awareness is an integral part of expressive writing. It begins by combining sensory messages with past knowledge and personal expectations to examine more closely the blur of daily experiences. Imaginative thinking allows you to move past literal applications and discover implied analogies and relationships. This kind of writing requires time and effort because those relationships aren’t always obvious.
An expressive writer is a passionate lover who persuades and convinces with words. Wooing with words involves being able to perceive, feel, and think subtly and precisely. It also demands a good vocabulary. The more acquainted you are with a variety of words and their meanings, the more able you are to express thoughts and sentiments.
An expressive writer relates to readers with honesty and candor by using mind, feelings, and imagination to create an organized and logical work. This is always a challenge and often a trial. It is never easy to disclose personal truths and to discover and express intimate realities. Honesty, as a writer perceives it, is a deceptive concept that continuously slips away on the wings of sentiment and sensation. To be honest with readers requires that a writer be honest with himself or herself. Honesty with one's self can be disturbing and painful; however, it is perhaps, the first prerequisite to writing expressively.
The Book Trailer:
To Read an Excerpt:
Friday, August 20, 2010
I'd like to welcome fellow 4RV Author, Beth Bence Reinke to the blog today. Beth's children's novels include "In My Bath," and the recently released, "A Wish and Prayer." I've read both of Beth's books and I adore them.
STEPH: Can you tell us the inspiration behind "In My Bath?"
BETH: The first thing was reading a picture book with a little girl pretending to sleep in different animal beds – a bird nest, a cave, a hollow tree. The second was a bedtime routine with my sons where I performed silly skits using their stuffed animals, including an elephant and manatee, which appear in In My Bath.
Those two things blended together to become a little boy imagining different water-loving animals in his bathtub. My hope is that kids who don’t like bathtime will read the book and discover that they can have fun in the tub by using their imaginations.
STEPH: How did the story find it's way to 4RV Publishing?
BETH: During the Muse Online Writers’ Conference in 2008, I learned about 4RV Publishing. The idea of working with a small publisher appealed to me, so I submitted my manuscript. To my delight, it was accepted.
STEPH: How long have you been writing?
BETH: In high school, I preferred essay questions on tests instead of multiple choice, so I’ve always liked writing. By training, I’m a registered dietitian and that was my day job for a while. I still keep my finger on the pulse of nutrition by writing articles about food and health for adults magazines. You can read my articles and nutrition tips at my website.
When my younger son started second grade, about seven years ago, I started writing as a serious career. Before that were many years of learning about the craft through reading and classes and submitting a story or two to magazines. When my boys were small, I studied with the Institute of Children’s Literature and highly recommend those courses to anyone who wants to write for kids.
STEPH: Do you have any other books?
BETH: Yes, 4RV Publishing just released my second children’s book, another collaboration with illustrator Ginger Nielson. A Wish and a Prayer is about a boy named Jason whose pet parakeet flies out the window and is lost. The book explores the differences between wishing and praying.
Next spring, I have two books in the “Devotions to Go” series releasing from publisher Extreme Diva Media. My third children’s book from 4RV Publishing is slated for late 2011 or early 2012.
STEPH: Do you have a favorite children's author you like to read?
BETH: Hmm, that’s a tough one. Sooo many good authors, I have trouble picking a favorite. When my boys were little, we read Dr. Seuss books over and over and over. The rhymes and silliness were such fun and made them laugh.
STEPH: Do you have any hobbies you'd like to share with us?
BETH: I’m a “couch potato” sports fan - racing and football. Watching the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday afternoon (or sometimes Saturday night) is my relaxation time. Don’t tell anyone that I sometimes take a mid-race catnap! I like the Green Bay Packers and enjoy watching Brett Favre play, no matter what colors he wears. With two teenage boys in the house, NFL Network is on a lot so I learn a lot of football news. The best football games are the ones my sons play though. Go team!
STEPH: Can you share some links with us where we can find "In My Bath?"
Readers can order In My Bath from the children’s book page at 4RV Publishing. It’s available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million. Any brick-and-mortar bookstore can order it, too.
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today, Stephanie. I appreciate your hospitality!
4RV Publishing: http://www.4rvpublishingllc.com/Childrens_Books.html
Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/In-My-Bath/Beth-Reinke/e/9780982588666/?itm=4&USRI=in+my+bath
Beth Bence Reinke’s website: http://www.bethbencereinke.com
Beth’s bio: http://bethbencereinke.com/user_images/1/cms/about.cms
Ginger Nielson’s website: http://www.gingernielson.com
My review for:
IN MY BATH:
Reinke pens a clever, imaginative story with "In My Bath." A young boy takes a bath and lets his imagination help get him clean. The story is written to appeal to children between 4-8 years old.
As the young boy suds up he sees fish, dolphins, penguins, pelicans, and beavers. It's fun to play with them as he gets clean. While the boy thinks of all the different animals that live in the water, there's always a bathtub rubber ducky to remind the boy he's in the tub. The message of the story is clear: left to their imaginations, young children will have fun in the tub and get clean.
The book visually appeals to children. The illustrations will get their attention and hold it. For children who might be afraid of taking baths, this book would help them to realize all the fun to be had in the tub. "In My Bath" will soak you with smiles.
A WISH AND A PRAYER:
Jason learns the difference between wishes and prayers in "A Wish and a Prayer." Geared for 5-8 year-olds, this heartwarming story will leave young readers with smiles.
Jason loses his pet parrot, Sonny. Young readers can identify with Jason's sense of loss and his desire to see Sonny again. This is a great story for parents to share with children who have experienced that same sense of loss.
"A Wish and a Prayer' also affirms the hope and love of God's presence in our lives in a way young readers can relate to. The story's illustrations are eye-catching. Children will be cheering for Jason to be reunited with Sonny. "A Wish and a Prayer" will resonate with young readers long after they've read the book.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I must admit to neglecting the blog this month, but I've been on a blog tour for "The Giving Meadow," and I've been working hard on 3 projects - 2 short stories and a novel length project, but I thought I'd pop in here and gush about the California Poppy.
Did you know it's the state flower of California? Not being a native, it's been a challege to learn about my adopted state. Maybe I'll focus on some of the basics. California is certainly a pretty state. It's a big state. New England could fit in the state at least 3 times overs. For me, personally, it's a little disconcerting to drive 6 hours and still be in the same state after growing up in New England. And I live in the desert. I kinda miss the snow, but I digress.
I find that poppies first come out in March and April in California. They are red, orange, yellow and occassionally pink. The petals close at night and open in the morning. April 6th is California Poppy Day in CA. A week long poppy festival is usually held in Lancaster, CA in April. Here's a link:http://www.poppyfestival.com/
They also have health benfits:
Sleep disturbances. Helpful for a gentle restful sleep.
Toothache. Reduces inflammation causing pain.
Anxiety. Although related to opium poppy, does not have addictive properties, gentle anti-anxiety effect.
Restless leg syndrome. Stops muscle spasms and relieves pain.
Interesting, huh, how herbal cures work. Some cautions though:
Use caution while driving or operating machines and taking calendula and sedative medications.
Do not take orally if pregnant, as it may cause uterine contractions.
I hope you find this interesting. I sure did!
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
STEPH: Crystalee Calderwood is a fellow 4RV Publishing Author and the author of "Angeline Jellybean." Welcome to the blog, Crystalee. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
CRYSTALEE: I received my MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University in 2008. I was primarily a poet when I enrolled there, but I took a Craft of Writing for Children class with Katherine Ayres and fell in love with children's literature. I graduated with a dual emphasis in Poetry and Writing for Children and Adolescents. My first picture book, Angeline Jellybean, was released by 4RV Publishing the same month I graduated. I also continue to publish poetry and short stories for adults. Right now, I'm working on several young adult novels. I've worked as a library assistant, computer instructor, and reader of stories to children in daycares. I love to teach and will be returning to school to get certified to teach English in the state of Pennsylvania.
STEPH: What was the inspiration behind Angeline Jellybean?
CRYSTALEE: I don't remember how I came up with the storyline. I wrote it for a picture book class at Chatham. The instructor challenged us to write a picture book in 500 words or less, and that's what I did! I normally don't write rhyming picture books, but that's how Angeline came to me.
STEPH: How did the book find it's way to 4RV Publishing?
CRYSTALEE: Vivian Zabel at 4RV and I are both members of Writing.com, and I saw her mention that they were open to submissions of children's books. I did some research, polished off the manuscript, and sent it to 4RV. I didn't tell Vivian that I was sending it, because I wanted the picture book to stand on its own. Vivian didn't know my full name at the time, so when she accepted the book I disclosed who I was. We were both delighted that they had decided to publish my manuscript.
STEPH: What other projects have you published?
CRYSTALEE: I don't have any other books (yet). Right now, I'm actively publishing poetry everywhere from Poetry Quarterly to Every Day Poets. My short story for children, "A Burning Need" has been picked up by Stories that Lift as well.
STEPH: Care to share a couple of your hobbies with us?
CRYSTALEE: I love doing anything creative. I take photographs, mostly nature scenes, and digitally manipulate them with Paint Shop Pro software, make graphics and email signatures. I occasionally scrapbook or collage. I'm an avid reader, especially of young adult novels. I write, of course. A LOT. I love wasting time on the internet and playing Facebook games.
STEPH: What's the last movie you saw?
CRYSTALEE: Oh, gee. In the theater, it was Shrek 3. At home, it as Nim's Island, which I loved.
STEPH: Team Edward or Team Jacob.
CRYSTALEE: Neither. *laughs* I don't do vampires. I've never read any of the Twilight books, nor do I want to.
STEPH: Thanks for popping into today, Crystalee.
Crystalee on the Web
Where to buy Angeline Jellybean:
4RV Publishing: http://www.4rvpublishingllc.com/Store-Books.html
Barnes and Nobel: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Angeline-Jellybean/Crystalee-Calderwood/e/9780979751387/?itm=1&USRI=Crystalee+Calderwood
Contact the author:
Friday, August 13, 2010
K Dawn Byrd is a fellow Desert Breeze Author and likes to write inspirational romance. Welcome K Dawn!
Queen of Hearts, a WWII romantic suspense released in April and was Desert Breeze Publishing's bestselling novel for the month. Killing Time, a contemporary romantic suspense released August 1, also with Desert Breeze Publishing.
K. Dawn Byrd is an avid blogger and gives away several books per week on her blog at www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com, most of which are signed by the authors. She's also the moderator of the popular facebook group, Christian Fiction Gathering (http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=128209963444 )
When not reading or writing, K. Dawn Byrd enjoys spending time with her husband of 14 years, walking their dogs beside a gorgeous lake near her home, and plotting the next story waiting to be told.
http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-103/k-dawn-byrd-killing/Detail.bok (there will be links at this site to purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the Sony ebook store and others)
Mindy McLaurin, thinks it's the end of the world when she's incarcerated on trumped-up embezzlement charges. While in jail, she investigates the death of an inmate who allegedly died of an overdose. Mindy suspects foul play when her cellmate dies and she learns that both women had ingested the same drug. Mindy trusts no one, including Drew Stone, the handsome counselor she can’t stop thinking about. She faces many challenges, including constant interrogation by the Major and emotional abuse from the other inmates. Upon release, someone is stalking her and framing her for the murder. Can she prove to Counselor Stone that she’s innocent of all charges before she loses him forever?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
August is Children's book month here at Romance Under the Moonlight, so I thought I'd share an overview of Children's writing. Enjoy! Steph
Children love books. Whether it’s sitting down in mommy’s lap or curling up in a quiet corner to read, a good book gives them a grand adventure. However, writing for children is a lot more challenging than you think.
Typically, children’s stories are shorter and use simply language, but a short story may not be a good story. There are several elements in crafting a children’s story that you, the writer, should be aware of.
One of the elements needed for a good children’s story is plot. It should be fun and engaging. Remember, today’s children’s books compete with TV, video games, Wii, and movies. Take children on an adventure in your book. Don’t be over simplistic. The story should follow a logical sequence of events that children should understand.
Keep in mind your plot should have some conflict as well. The conflict should be aimed at the age level you’re writing for. Conflict in children’s writing doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be an escaped cat, a move to a new town, or the first day of school. Just remember to bring the conflict down to a level that children can understand.
Also remember there are different age ranges and audiences in children’s literature. You want to gear your plot and conflict to suit those ages. You have board books, picture books, early readers, beginning chapter books, and young adult books. If you’re not familiar with these formats, you might want to do a little research. Read books in the targeted age range you want to write in. Talk to kids about what they like to read or don’t like to read.
Another element in crafting a good’s children’s story is characterization. Children have to be able to relate to the characters in the story. What helps is to keep the dialogue as natural as you can. (If you use any) Tailor your dialogue towards the developmental age range you’re writing for.
Another thing to remember is that a children’s story doesn’t have to tell a moral. It should first be fun and engaging to read. Also, a children’s book doesn’t have to rythme. Some writers haven’t mastered rythming and they may come up with a poor rythme scheme. Don’t force it. Remember a good book doesn’t have to fit into a series. Let a series be an outgrowth of a good character.
Overall, writing for children can be very rewarding, especially if you craft a story with a dash of adventure, a pin of fun, and a tablespoon of character.
Monday, August 9, 2010
I'd like to welcome fellow 4RV Author, Peggy Fieland to the blog today. Peggy's book, "The Angry Little Boy," will be published in early 2012 with 4RV. Peggy's here to tell us a little about it today.
PEGGY: My book, “The Angry Little Boy,” is a chapter book that will be published by 4RV Publishing, LLC, in early 2012. It's about a little boy who loses his mother in a fire.
I started writing this book a couple of years ago and wrote the first draft, about 5000 words, in a weekend. I spent the next year or two learning enough about writing fiction to rewrite it and make it the book it was supposed to be. It ended up being about 11, 000 words and the plot was quite different than the original. For one thing, I ended up discarding the original first two chapters and starting with the third. The first two chapters were backstory – and I ended up realizing this when I signed up for a class on revising and editing and decided that the third chapter would make for a much more interesting one to work with.
The genesis of the story is a tragic fire that took the lives of the wife and all four of the children of an acquaintance, now many years ago. The whole thing haunted me for years, and I wrote the story in part as an attempt to deal with it. I couldn't handle writing about dead children, so in my story my main character is an only child.
I'm currently working on a middle grade novel about a girl who wants to go to music camp and whose parents are divorcing. I wrote the first draft in about three weeks – and about halfway through, I realized that I needed to write in the first person rather than the third, so I chucked what I had and started over. I consider this version (about 15,000 words) more in the way of an outline than an actual revision, but however you count it, I'm just a couple of chapters from the end of this next draft. It's currently 32,600 words. Yikes! I have a writing partner with whom I'm exchanging chapters of our work on a weekly basis, and he's been incredibly helpful in giving me pointers and also in generally encouraging me to keep going.
I also write a lot of poetry – in fact, poetry is my first love – and a group of six of us have put together an anthology of our work that we're just about ready to submit for publication. We met in a workshop of the Muse Online Writers Conference a couple of years ago and ended up working together on our poetry writing.
You can find Peggy on the Internet at: http://www.margaretfieland.com/
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Katherine Valois and Owen Tudor
Founders of a Dynasty
Katherine's marriage to Henry V was short lived, yet produced a son, Henry VI. When her son was 9 months old, he was made the King of England upon his father's death. Katherine was barely 21 and just coming into her own beauty.
The young king's royal protector was Humphrey, the Duke of the Gloucester, and Henry V's youngest brother. Wanting to limit Katherine's influence over her son, he sent her to Windsor. He was also concerned Katherine might remarry since she was so young and pretty. He was influential in passing a law establishing criteria for which Dowager Queens had to meet to remarry. If Katherine remarried without the consent of the king then her husband would forfeit all his possessions. Any children from such a union would be considered royal and not made to suffer.
What's the kicker? The king had to reach "majority" (18 years old) to give his consent to marry. Henry VI was only 6 years old.
Katherine wasn't getting married anytime soon. Or so Humphrey thought.
Owen ap Maredudd ap Tudur was from Wales, and had accompanied Henry V to France, participating in many of his campaigns. After Henry's death, Owen found himself Keeper of the Queen's Wardrobe.
When Katherine's affair with Owen began no one really knows. The attraction was raw, passionate and undeniable for the young dowager queen and the handsome Welshman. Jean Plaidy, author of "The Queen's Secret," puts the affair starting in the late 1420's. Owen, who is not much of a dancer, falls into Katherine's lap during a dance. Their eyes give their feelings away to those who know them. At Windsor, the couple embark on a torrid affair.
That begs the question: were Own and Katherine married? Plaidy offers they were in a secret marriage. For me, it makes sense. I can't imagine a young woman of Katherine's nobility in that day and age having sex and making love without the protection of marriage.
Interestingly, there is no historical proof Owen and Katherine entered into marriage. It was so long ago and record keeping was poor. Not only that – according to the law regarding dowager queens - a public marriage would not have been valid. Knowing that, I submit Owen and Katherine married secretly.
Katherine hid at least four pregnancies from court and Humphrey. Edmund, Jasper, and Owen lived to adulthood. A daughter died young.
Katherine died in 1437 in Bermondsey Abbey. Plaidy puts forth that Humphrey discovered her secret marriage and her children with Owen and sent her to Bermondsey when she was heavily pregnant expecting another child. That child died in birth and Katherine died shortly thereafter from poor medical treatment after childbirth.
It is also suggested that Katherine died of some type of cancer.
Rosemary Hawly Jarman in "Crown in Candlelight," submits Katherine was afflicted with mental illness like her father, Charles VI (the Mad, of France) but I tend to disregard this theory. While Charles VI (her father) and Henry VI (her son) suffered from mental illness, there was no recorded medical history of Katherine suffering from mental illness herself. (Charles VI and Henry VI suffered from symptoms of schizophrenia and bi-polar.) I believe Katherine was a carrier, but didn't exhibit mental illness herself. I tend to support Plaidy's theory that Katherine was discovered by Humphrey and sent to the abbey for disobeying the law.
After Katherine died, Owen was stripped of his possessions and sent back to Wales. On the way to Wales he was jailed. Henry VI, now older, took an active role in bringing up his half-siblings, Edmund and Jasper. (who, by the way, never showed signs of mental illness)
Owen was later released from jail and he and his sons were in Henry VI's court in service to him during the 1450's.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Welcome Penny Lockwood. Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 75 articles, 50 stories, two e-books, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children's publications and non-fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications. Her website is http://pennylockwoodehrenrkanz.yolasite.com Her writing blog is available at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/
Here's a Q&A with Penny. She's here today to talk about her story, "Ghost for Rent" and her writing. Enjoy!
STEPH: What was the inspiration behind Ghost for Rent?
PENNY: I had been writing and publishing for a number of years, however, my focus was short stories and non-fiction articles. My daughter, who was about ten at the time, wouldn’t believe I was a “writer,” because I didn’t have a published book. I decided I should at least try to write one. I wanted to write a kid’s book and looked around for an idea. A neighbor had moved, after her divorce, to an old farm house. As we visited one day, she told me she had heard a piano playing in the living room and when she went to investigate, she saw a ghostly image of a young boy. This became my inspiration for Ghost for Rent.
STEPH: How did the book find its way to being published?
PENNY: I started by going the usual route of researching book publishers through Writer’s Market. I did not attempt to get an agent, but sent off query letters and first chapters to a number of children’s book publishers. I got a lot of nice rejection letters. Then, I looked to the Internet for book publishers and found HardShell Word Factory. They are basically an eBook publisher, but also do print on demand paperbacks. I submitted my manuscript. The editor gave it to several young readers and based on their input, offered me a contract. We went through a lengthy editing process and finally, in 2002, the book was published. I was fortunate that not only was it packaged as an eBook, but HardShell combined it with another middle grade book and offered for it awhile as a “twin spin.” Kids could purchase not only my book, but the other book as well in one edition. HardShell went through some ownership changes recently and now the book is only available in electronic format.
STEPH: What other projects have you published?
PENNY: A full list of my articles and short stories appears on my web site at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com My fiction for adults tends toward fantasy and soft science fiction with a touch of romance. A collection of a several of these short stories is scheduled for publication by Sams Dot Publishing around September of this year. The collection is tentatively titled A Past and A Future and will be available in a print format. Some of these stories appeared in an earlier collection released by Bookmice, an eBook publisher, however they went out of business a year after the collection was published. In addition, Sams Dot Publishing has released my YA illustrated chapbook, Dragon Sight (http://www.genremall.com/fictionr.htm#dragonsight). I have also published a number of sweet contemporary romance stories. In fact, MuseItUp Publishing recently accepted my contemporary romance, Love Delivery, for publication. It will be released in August, 2011 (http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/ ). I’ve also had stories published in two anthologies, Year 1: A Time of Change, and The Breastfeeding Diaries.
My non-fiction is geared toward writing tips, teen self-help articles, and parenting tips.
I am also an editor with three small independent publishing houses.
STEPH: Care to share a couple of your hobbies with us?
PENNY: Besides writing? I love to read. I also garden, both flowers and vegetables. In the evenings, I enjoy crocheting. Recently, I decided to learn to knit, so I’m working on my first knitting project. I also enjoy spending time with my family and my dogs and cats.
STEPH: What's the last movie you saw?
PENNY: I almost hate to say it, but The Green Zone. We watch a lot of movies which we rent and play on the T.V. The Green Zone was one my husband picked out. I don’t choose war movies when it’s my turn to pick. I prefer fantasy and science fiction movies with an occasional romantic comedy or action adventure when the mood strikes me.
STEPH: Just for fun: Team Edward or Team Jacob?
PENNY: I actually like them both for different reasons, so I’m on the sidelines, standing in the middle. If I had to pick, though, I think I would pick Team Jacob.
STEPH: Me, too! I read the first chapter of "Ghost for Rent," and I didn't want to stop. The beginning had me hooked. Thumbs up, Penny! Here's an excerpt from chapter one. Thanks for popping in today and visiting with us.
GHOST FOR RENT:
With the rain pelting her, Wendy ran from her bus stop to her apartment building. She couldn't wait to get home. Maybe she'd call Darcy and see if she could come swim in the indoor pool. Or, maybe, she'd just go to the exercise room and work out before dinner. She couldn't make up her mind. Her twelve year old brother, Mike, liked to go straight to the arcade room, so she and Darcy would stay away from there.
Karl, the door man, greeted her as she skidded to a stop under the rain awning. “Good afternoon, Ms. Wiles.” He opened the door for her with a theatrical flourish.
“Good afternoon, Karl.” Wendy smiled, careful not to show her braces. She always felt grown-up and elegant when Karl open the door for her.
After entering the foyer, she groaned. Mike, dressed in his usual black jeans and tee-shirt, leaned against the elevator button, banging his head to the awful heavy metal music he enjoyed so much. She heard his Walkman even though he listened through earphones. Life would be almost perfect if it weren't for him, she thought.
Wendy reached the elevator just as the doors opened, and she slipped in beside her brother. She watched him out of the corner of her eye and considered asking him about the argument Mom and Dad had last night. She wasn’t sure if Mike even heard them since his stereo was always so loud. Mike ignored her and kept his eyes focused on the flashing floor lights.
Fine, she thought, pulling a book of Emily Dickinson's poetry from her backpack. Water dripped off her hat, but after living in Oregon her whole life, it didn’t bother her. She pretended her stupid brother had been abducted by aliens and immersed herself in Emily’s poems. Something cold and slimy slithered down her back. She screeched, and dropped her book. Dancing from one foot to the other, she stubbed her toe against her bulging backpack, then yelped even louder. She hopped up and down as she clawed at her back. Mike howled, and held his sides, laughing so hard he doubled over.
And here are some links where the book can be purchased:
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I'd like to welcome Beverly Stowe McClure to the blog today.
About Beverly: When Beverly was a child, she hated to read. Even though her eighth-grade teacher sent her poem “Stars” to a high school anthology, and it was published in Young America Sings, she hated to write. In spite of her rocky relationship with the printed word, she attended Midwestern University, read more books than she ever imagined, wrote tons of papers, and graduated with a teaching degree. Imagine that. As a teacher, she also read a lot. Reading Dr. Seuss and other great children’s books to her sons and to her students made her realize what she’d been missing: reading was fun. Now, she reads and she also writes. Her stories and articles have been published in leading children’s magazines. One article was reprinted in a Scott Foresman PreK-K Anthology. Her “Breakthrough” article appeared in the June 2007 issue of Writer Magazine. She has five novels for tweens and teens published with four more under contract, along with a picture book. Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, a YA historical fiction, is her latest release.
I had the pleasure to read Beverly's latest release and I thought I'd share my review with you.
Book Review for "Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines"
Written by: Beverly Stowe McClure
Twilight Times Book
Review by: Stephanie Burkhart
McClure crafts a compelling young adult novel that takes place during the Civil war with Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines. (for those that don't know, a crinoline is a hoop skirt which was in fashion in the mid 1800's.)
Set in 1863 during the Yankee siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth (Lizzie) Stamford's life has turned upside down. Her house has been shelled more than once, so her mother takes the family to a nearby cave. Lizze's family consists of twelve-year-old Nathan, her two older brothers, Willie and Joseph, and her father who is a surgeon in the local hospital.
Lizzie wants to help in the war effort and runs off, disguised as a boy, hoping to join the army. She meets two Confederate soldiers who befriend her, but she also witnesses events no one should see.
On her way back to her mother, Lizzie find a young Yankee soldier who is injured. Despite her better judgment, Lizzie takes him to her shelled out house and seeks out help for him. Nathan reluctantly supports her.
Lizzie gets to know the Yankee and learns his name is Private Benjamin Clayton. He heals in the house, but a rogue bunch of Yankees try to loot it. Lizzie is forced to shoot one. Ben soon leaves and Lizzie is left to wonder if she'll hear from him again.
McClure's writing is crisp. The plot flows well. The story is told in the first person from Lizzie's perspective, capturing the authenticity of the time and place.
McClure's characters are interesting. Lizzie is brave and daring, dressing as a boy to join the army. She looks fear in the eye and overcomes it when she decides to help Benjamin.
Nathan also embodies courage as he stands by his family. Joseph is shell-shocked when he returns from the war. Lizzie learns that sometimes things aren't what they seem and living is more challenging than crinolines.
Even though the story takes place during the civil war, young readers can understand the same hardships faced today when their loved ones deploy. "Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines" is a rewarding story that uses a subtle touch to show the reader what history is all about.
Monday, August 2, 2010
The Giving Meadow is my first children's book and my first book with 4RV Publishing. It's beautifully illustrated by Stephen Macquignon.
The Giving Meadow is about a caterpillar who hatches from his egg in the middle of a meadow. As he travels through the meadow, he meets new friends who learn the value of sharing.
One sunny day in the meadow, a small little egg blew in on a gentle breeze. It wiggled on the grass. It rocked. The eggshell cracked and out popped a small, flully caterpillar.
The caterpillar was hungry. He looked around the meadow. There was a frog sitting on a lilly pad in a small pond. Next to the frog was a bowl of fresh water. The caterpillar crawled over to the frog.
"Mr. Frog, do you have anything to eat?" asked the caterpillar.
"I'm hungry myself. I've been looking for some flies, but I can't find any," said the Frog.
"Do you have anything at all? I just popped out of my shell."
"All I have is this fresh bowl of water," said the Frog.
"Can I have a sip, please?" asked the caterpillar.
"This is all the fresh water I have," said the Frog.
The caterpillar looked sad. "That's okay, I'll go somewhere else."
"Wait," said the frog. "You can have my bowl of water. I can make another bowl from the pond water later."
"Thank you," said the Caterpillar. He drank out of the bowl.
The frog smiled. He felt happy because he had shared his bowl of water with the caterpillar.
5 Stars, Reader Review, Cybriran, Barnes & Noble:
Ms. Burkhart's charming tale is one little ones will want to hear over and over again and they will be enchanted by the adorable illustrations from the talented illustrator, Stephen Macquignon.
5 Stars, Reader Review, RmceWtr, Barnes & Noble:
What a lovely childrens' book! This is a sweet little story about giving when you don't know if you'll get anything in return, sharing what you have because you have it to share.
5 Stars, Regina Andrew, author of Destiny's Designs
In the beautifully-illustrated children's book "The Giving Meadow", author Stephanie Burkhart presents her readers with a charming fable about kindness and sharing.
5 Stars, Tami Dee, author of The Mists of Time Viking Series
The Giving Meadow, by Stephanie Burkhart, received the highest compliment that a children's author can receive when, after reading this story to my four year old granddaughter, she immediately said. "Again."
5 Stars, Beth Reinke, author of "In My Bath"
Toddlers and preschoolers will love to snuggle up before nap or at bedtime to hear this soothing story read to them. The adorable, brightly-colored illustrations will charm readers of all ages.