Friday, February 9, 2024

A Writer's Week #128: The Circle is Now Complete

 It took a bit longer than I anticipated, but the Deliverers Series is now complete. Today, I submitted the paperback and Kindle versions of Book 4: Sparkling Mist of Time to Amazon. It will be published February 29. The Kindle version is available for preorder right now. Here's the cover--a big thank you to Emily Hurst Pritchett once again!


A lot of emotions flooded through me when I pressed the upload button. This series is something that has been a part of my life for over 15 years. When I started, I could not have predicted that I would conclude the writing journey here, now. If I knew how it would play out, I might never have started. It took over four years to write book one. It took 2-3 years to write books two and three. Then, I started book four. Book four was really the hardest test in the whole odyssey. 16,000 words in I kind of lost my religion, abandoned the task, and wandered about in the wilderness for about eight years. I had honestly thought the writing chapter of my life was closed. I had burned myself out trying to market my baby.

You see, I was under the impression that if I worked hard enough, I would be able to ditch my day job and make my dream of writing middle grade fiction full time a reality. When it didn't happen after three years of beating my head against the marketing wall at the expense of time with my kids, I gave it up. 

Now, I am older and (perhaps) a little bit wiser. I realize now that if some folks enjoy what I write, I don't have to be a best seller and make a mint to gain satisfaction from it. I owe a great debt to my father for reminding me of that, and for also suggesting refreshing the three existing books as I worked on the fourth.                                                                                                                                


So, a big thank you to all the contributors to the series over the years--Ana Vogel, Daniel Vogel, Jimm Singer, and Emily Hurst Pritchett. I could not have done any of this without your contributions throughout the years.

I also want to thank all of the fellow writers I've met along the way. You have always been one of my biggest sources of support. So, thank you Stephanie Robinson, Jessica Haight, C. Lee McKenzie, Karen Pokras, Margo Dill, and all the rest who have helped with reviews, feedback, and everything. I hope I've been able to return the favor.

What's next on my writer's journey? Look for a collection of inspirational short stories and poems later this year. They were my first foray into writing stories meant to be shared with others. After that, I think I will be revisiting the Dragon Islands, roughly 3,000 years before the events in The Golden Dragon of Ang. Seems like the inspirational well has not dried up after all. As things move forward, I hope you'll all come with me for the ride.

Peace.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

IWSG Review: Rattlesnake

 

February is here already. It is a month of love, presidents, human rights, groundhogs, and ice & snow. First Wednesday is kind of late this month, but it is here, and so is another Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG) post. This month, I am going to forego the question and jump right into my post.


I had the pleasure of reading fellow ISWG member C. Lee McKenzie's latest young adult offering, Rattlesnake.

I always look forward to Lee's books because she can elevate a story by adding an out of the box twist. Rattlesnake is no exception. The story of Jonah, his sister Allie, and his aunt Margaret are pulling up stakes and moving from New Hampshire to his deceased uncle's silver claim in Rattlesnake, Nevada.

Needless to say, Jonah and Allie are none too pleased to uproot their old lives for the unknown. Their aunt is trying to treat it all like a grand adventure and hopes the experience will be beneficial for all (there is the promise of an inheritance that includes a silver mine). When Rattlesnake turns out to be an unfriendly, God forsaken, dust bowl and the inheritance fails to materialize, everything goes from bad to worse.

I enjoyed the whole premise. McKenzie elevates the entire story by weaving in the story of a girl from the 1800s named Catherine. You won't believe how her story impacts Jonah's and vice-versa. When those two plotlines unexpectedly intersect, the book goes to a whole new level.

I think teens will enjoy the mystery and suspense. I know I certainly got caught up in the two plots, which to me were perfectly paced. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes young adult, mystery, and historical fiction.


About the Book

The desert town of Rattlesnake isn’t a destination. It’s a last resort. Seventeen-year-old Jonah Guthrie’s aunt sold their home in New England and fled to this place to escape the humiliation of his dad’s indictment for embezzlement and subsequent disappearance.

While their late uncle left them a house and a silver mine, the house is a shambles and the mine is defunct. They’re almost out of money, so they have no choice but to stay in Rattlesnake. And then Jonah discovers they’ve inherited something else. Her name is Catherine, and she’s been dead for over a hundred year. Now, she needs his help.

About C. Lee McKenzie


I always have free gifts for visitors to my 
Blog, so stop by. Sign up and get your gift today, and you can see all of my work on Amazon. I'd love to connect with you on Instagram, too!

In my other life--the one before I began writing for teens and younger readers--I was a teacher and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I can say, “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’m lost!” in at least five languages and two dialects. Go ahead. Pat me on the back.

My idea of a perfect day is one or all of the following: starting a new novel, finishing writing a blockbuster novel, hiking on a misty morning trail in the Santa Cruz Mountains, saying Namaste after a great yoga practice, sipping a cappuccino topped at a bustling café, reading in front of a fire with snow outside, swimming in an ocean someplace.


Where to Get It




Saturday, February 3, 2024

Inklings: Can't Live without My Journal

 Last month, I shared some methods I use to come up with story ideas. In that post, I mentioned that you should always carry a pen and a notebook with you. I really can't stress how important that is.


This week, I thought I should expand on that thought and talk to you a little bit about keeping a journal. Now, some of you out there might be groaning a bit, because you might have to keep a journal for school. Let's face it, it's not as much fun doing some things when it's "schoolwork".

In this case, though, you might be surprised. Keeping a journal can help you become a better writer. Here are a few ways it can do that:
  • First, a journal is a great place for you to capture your observations of the world around you. Did you see a great sunrise? Did your friend tell you a killer joke? What was it like building tunnels in the snow after a blizzard? You can record all these moments and others during your day in your journal.
  • Journals are also fantastic places to jot down ideas as you think of them. I use a journal for writing down story ideas, different information about the worlds I write about, and interesting people and situations that could be used as the basis of events and characters in future stories.
  • The more you write, the easier it will get to write. Journals are great places to practice all sorts of writing tools--dialogue, description, storytelling to name just a few.

Last month, I shared some methods I use to come up with story ideas. In that post, I mentioned that you should always carry a pen and a notebook with you. I really can't stress how important that is.


This week, I thought I should expand on that thought and talk to you a little bit about keeping a journal. Now, some of you out there might be groaning a bit, because you might have to keep a journal for school. Let's face it, it's not as much fun doing some things when it's "schoolwork".

In this case, though, you might be surprised. Keeping a journal can help you become a better writer. Here are a few ways it can do that:

  • First, a journal is a great place for you to capture your observations of the world around you. Did you see a great sunrise? Did your friend tell you a killer joke? What was it like building tunnels in the snow after a blizzard? You can record all these moments and others during your day in your journal.
  • Journals are also fantastic places to jot down ideas as you think of them. I use a journal for writing down story ideas, different information about the worlds I write about, and interesting people and situations that could be used as the basis of events and characters in future stories.
  • The more you write, the easier it will get to write. Journals are great places to practice all sorts of writing tools--dialogue, description, storytelling to name just a few.
My journal has become a place for me to work out parts of my stories when I get stuck. If I'm away from my computer, i use my journal to write a quick chapter. I draw little maps in my journal to give me an idea of the world the characters are exploring in my Deliverers series. 

The picture to the left shows a page of my journal. I apologize for its messiness. Sometimes my thoughts need some rearranging. This page shows the first map ever made of the Dragon Islands where the third book of the Deliverers, The Golden Dragon of Ang, takes place. This is the book I'm currently working on.

So, journals are excellent tools to capture all sorts of cool stuff that you can use to either practice different types of writing, or all the ideas that come to you any time of the day or night. If you're not keeping a journal, you might want to consider starting one. You never know where it might take you!

What kinds of things do you record in your journal? How has keeping a journal helped your writing? Let me know by leaving a message in the Comments section! My journal has become a place for me to work out parts of my stories when I get stuck. If I'm away from my computer, i use my journal to write a quick chapter. I draw little maps in my journal to give me an idea of the world the characters are exploring in my Deliverers series. 

The picture to the left shows a page of my journal. I apologize for its messiness. Sometimes my thoughts need some rearranging. This page shows the first map ever made of the Dragon Islands where the third book of the Deliverers, The Golden Dragon of Ang, takes place. This is the book I'm currently working on.

So, journals are excellent tools to capture all sorts of cool stuff that you can use to either practice different types of writing, or all the ideas that come to you any time of the day or night. If you're not keeping a journal, you might want to consider starting one. You never know where it might take you!

What kinds of things do you record in your journal? How has keeping a journal helped your writing? Let me know by leaving a message in the Comments section! 



Monday, January 15, 2024

Inklings: It Starts With an Idea

Editor's note:  This is the start of a series I ran long ago to guide young writers looking to write their first story. I thought it would be fun to republish them.

Every piece of writing--short story, news article, or novel--starts with an idea. But where do those ideas come from? To tell you the truth, an idea can come from anywhere. That sounds easy and hard at the same time.


Here are some things that I do when I'm looking for an idea to write about. You might want to try them, too:

Think about places I've been that would be good settings for a story. The village of Calendria in my book, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel is based on Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.

Watch people and how they act. This might spark an idea for a character that will lead to a story idea.

Think of an outrageous situation. What would happen if martians beamed down into a zoo? How about if dolphins could talk, and they started talking to a fisherman?

Try word association. Write down the first noun you can think of. Then write down a verb, then another noun. Here's an example: monkey, steals, snow. Now, that might spark something. What kind of story could you write about a monkey that's stolen snow? If you don't like that one, try it again.

Finally, always carry a pen and a notebook with you. You never know when an idea will strike, so you need to be ready.

I hope this helps get you started. Next week, we'll talk a little about what to do once you have your idea.

How do you come up with story ideas? Let me know in the comments section!

Sunday, December 24, 2023

A Writer's Week #127: Feeling Grateful

 Unbelievably it is Christmas Eve once again. It seems like just yesterday that it was Christmas 2022. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone this year! 


I am blown away by what I have been able to accomplish in 2023. I was able to find a fantastic illustrator in Emily Hurst Pritchett. She came up with new art and maps for the three books in the Deliverers Series. Then, I was able to arrange book signings and had great feedback on the books and the artwork. Finally, I was able to complete book 4 of the series and it will be published early in 2024. Completing the final book in the series means that Eric and company will finally have some closure.


It might never have happened if I had not had a talk with my dad on Christmas day. He wondered why I hadn't continued writing. I gave a couple lame excuses, but he would have none of it. I realized that I had been missing writing and feeling like I had some unfinished business.

My dad also suggested doing something that I had been struggling with. He said he thought I should get some new artwork to refresh the look. I had contemplated that several times over the past couple of years. After all, it had been 12 years since the first book had been released, and even Harry Potter had new art.

The next day, I began my search for a new artist. I also reread the manuscript for book 4. It was only 16,000 words at that point. The concept was good, but there were some plot issues. I did not know if I had a plot for one book or two. It took me several months to figure that out. In the meantime, Emily was working away on artwork for the first three books.

So, it's been a really great year on the writing front. Things have exceeded my expectations. Emily is currently working on the artwork for book 4. I've seen the sketches and I'm really excited by them. I'll share everything with you when they are complete.

Looking forward to 2024, I've got some new projects on the horizon. After the final book in the Deliverers Series is published, I am going to publish a collection of inspirational short stories. They are a little like fairy tales and should appeal to young and old alike.



After that, I am kicking around an idea for a book set in the Dragon Islands centuries before Eric and his friends visit. I'm starting to get excited about it. The Dragon Islands have a long history and several things were hinted at in The Golden Dragon of Ang that I am looking forward to exploring in more depth. 

I'm thinking of calling the series Tales of the Dragon Islands or maybe come up with a title and use the tagline A Dragon Islands Tale. Either way, I'm looking forward to exploring that world in more depth.

Stay tuned.