Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Another year has come and gone. As I look back on 2011, I'm thankful for all the good things I've been blessed with this year--a good year at work, health, happiness, and the successful launch of my book and this blog. I'm also looking forward to a great 2012.

I hope this year was a great one for you, too. Thanks for helping make it great for me. May you have a happy and blessed 2012.

I'll be back on Monday with the first interview in the Monday Interview Series. I'll also announce the winner of the first Book Giveaway. Until then, have a safe New Year's celebration!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Fly Away Little Birdie

It's funny how ideas occur to people at the oddest time. Some folks think of their best ideas in their dreams. Frankenstein was the result of a dream Mary Shelley had. Others have epiphanies in the car or on the train during their morning or evening commute.

As for me, I can honestly say that 80% of my best ideas--for writing, work, or anything else--come to me in the shower. Unfortunately, I can't shower 24/7--good thing, too, otherwise I'd be a wrinkled prune. Anyway, the point. Yes, there is a point to all this. The point is, that today in the shower, I had a great idea.

I've been working on the next book in the Deliverers series, and it's been going pretty well. However, I was concerned that the plot as I envisioned it was going to be too linear. There weren't any twists or turns. Now, part of the fun of writing is that the twists and turns often happen organically as I'm writing. The only problem with that is that I don't know if it will happen until it does. And I'm too much of a control freak for that.

Then today in the shower, it happened. A plot twist popped into my head. The great thing about it is, it isn't contrived, it's something that's very natural and believable. It will also help broaden the story, and make it better. I can't tell you what it is, but I will say that it involves something that happens to Stig.

If this works out the way I think it will, the story will be much more interesting. This is one of the fun things about being a writer. Every so often you get these little nuggets that fall from on high. For me, they're often accompanied by drops of water splashing on my head. I guess I need to keep a pen and paper next to the shower, writing on a steamy mirror doesn't work!

New Year, New Format

It's funny how time goes. This blog is only two and a half months old. To me it seems I've been writing it for two and a half years. Up to now, I've written about basically whatever comes into my head, which is fine for me. But I want to make it interesting for you, too. I wanted to focus a little less on myself, and more on children's books and writing.

So, with that in mind, I'm announcing some new weekly features that I hope you'll enjoy.

Mondays--The Monday Interview Series. This was inspired by the Deliverers Character Interviews where I interviewed characters from my book. This new series will feature interviews with famous characters in classic children's literature and fairy tales. No, there won't be any interviews with Harry Potter or Percy Jackson because I can do without the copyright hassles, but they should be entertaining and--I hope--fun.

Tuesdays--Did You Know? This will feature trivia on the book or story in which the weekly interviewee appears. My wife says I'm a trivia magnet, all these useless facts stick in my head. This will give me a chance to dust some of them off and put them to good use.

Wednesdays--What's Christian Reading? My nine year old son, Christian, is a fourth grader who lives to read. He reads anything and everything, some good, and some that are just glorified comic books. He'll be here to discuss whatever he's reading in a particular week. He'll tell us a little of what it's about, and what he likes--and doesn't like--about it. He may even give us a rating. Anyway, it should give us an insight into what kinds of books a fourth grader might like.

Thursday--Random Thoughts. This could be anything. If I go on a trip or something great happens (like I land a five book contract with Scholastic), you'll hear about it here.

Friday--A Writer's Week. This will be a weekly update on what I've done on the writing front over the course of the previous week. This will give you an insight into what goes on in my (twisted) writer's brain, and will help keep me on track. You never know, I might be asking you for some help when I hit a rough patch.

Saturday and Sunday--These will be days off. This will give me a chance to spend time with the family and to write. It will also give all of you a chance to go off and have some weekend fun without fear of missing a single riveting moment!

Well, that's the plan. What do you think? They say that a blog is an evolutionary thing. You start off at one point and evolve to another. The last two and a half months have been an evolution, and I thank you for sharing that with me. This new lineup should be a lot of fun. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Giveaway--Time's Running Out

Just a reminder that there only a couple of days left to get a chance to win a copy of my book, "The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel". It's a chance to get a great gift for after the holidays. Become a follower of this blog between now and the end of the year, and you'll be entered in a drawing to receive a copy of the book.

Plus, if you like my The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel page on Facebook as well, you'll be entered in the drawing a second time! Click here to go to the page and like it.

Thanks, and good luck!

Monday, December 26, 2011

What I'm Doing on My Holiday

Hello, everybody. I hope you had a great holiday. I sure did! I got a couple good things, including a new camera. I also got some Amazon gift cards so I can get a few books that I've had my eye on, including a couple in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and the first couple of Brian Jacques' Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series. Gift cards are cool!

The other good part of Christmas is watching the reaction of my children. They're 7 and 9, and for some reason, they were really amped up about it this year. It's always great when they say, "This is the best Christmas ever!" We got that this year, and we  didn't break the bank--mission accomplished.

Another good thing about Christmas is that we go over to visit my parents for the day, and then leave the kids with them for a few days. That means that my wife and I get some time together to go to grown up restaurants and stroll through stores at our leisure.

It also means that I've got some time to write. Today, I was able to sit down and concentrate long enough to get into chapter 5 of the next book in the Deliverers series. That was 1,600 words in about three hours. Not too bad. I also stumbled upon a new character, who promises to be interesting. Not sure if he's good or bad at this point, but I'm sure I'll find out, eventually.

So, I'm feeling relaxed and happy. I'm making progress on the book. I'm getting quality time with my wife. My kids are having fun with Mimi and Grandpa. You couldn't ask for a better vacation than that.

So, how was your holiday? Did you receive any cool books?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Well, it's here. That magical time of year when everyone seems to be a bit nicer. People hold doors for you, smile and say "Merry Christmas," or "Happy holidays." It makes you wonder why people can't be so nice all the time. After all, it really doesn't take too much effort. Ah well, I'll enjoy it while it lasts, and I'll try to remember to keep my end of the friendly deal up during the coming year!

Here's a favorite from my youth--Bing Crosby & David Bowie singing The Little Drummer Boy (Peace on Earth). Amen to that!

Anyhow, I'm done with work for an entire week (won't think about what will be waiting for me when I get back). Now it's time to relax. The in laws are coming for Christmas Eve, and we're going over to my parents' on Christmas day. Then, the kids stay at my parents' house for a few days, and Stephanie and I get some alone time. Yay! That means a trip to New York to climb the Empire State Building (47 years and I've never been inside the darn thing), and celebrating Stephanie's mother's birthday on the 27th.

I'm also looking forward to getting some major writing done on the second book. I've finished the first two chapters, started the third, and outlined the third, fourth and fifth chapters so far. The way is clear to make some major progress! I'll let you know how I make out.

Finally, I'd like to wish all of you a very merry Christmas/holiday, and a safe, happy, healthy 2012! Thank you all so much for your support and interest in the months since I started this blog and launched the book. Without you, I wouldn't have been half as successful as I've been.

I'll leave you with the ending of a great film, It's a Wonderful Life. I think Clarence's note to George sums it all up. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Getting That Christmas Feeling

The Christmas feeling has been slow in coming this year. Since our freak snowstorm on October 29th, the weather has been more like early October than Christmas. Time goes so fast that it doesn't seem that it can possibly be December again already.

But for me it takes more than the weather to get that Christmas feeling. I get it when I help others. Today, I got it. Every year, a group of us from work help out at the Salvation Army. They run a toy drive for underprivelaged families. We collect toys at work, then go down to the Salvation Army to get them bagged up by family. We distribute them about a week before Christmas. Today was Distribution Day. Mothers and/or fathers come down to pick up the toys and a gift card for a local supermarket. Sometimes, they bring along their children.

It's such a great feeling to know that, in some small way, you're helping to give something so special to families and kids. It's as great a feeling as seeing a child enjoying my book. When I see the gratitude in a parent's eyes, because they'll be able to give their child a merry Christmas, it reminds me of how lucky and blessed I've been in my life. The grousing and complaining I do at times seems so petty compared to the challenges that these families face every day. So many people need a helping hand.

I urge you all to take a few hours or a day out of your busy schedule at this time of year to help out a charitable organization in your community. If possible, get your kids involved, so that they don't take what they've got for granted. Because helping others is truly what Christmas means. And in this day and age, it's so easy to forget that.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Interview With Sharky

Our weekly Sunday Character Interview Series concludes with an interview with Captain Burt Sharky, the meanest, toughest, nastiest pirate to sail the high seas. This should be interesting. I hope he doesn't pillage and burn the place!

Editor:  Well, thank you for taking the time to sit down and chat with us, Captain Sharky.

Sharky:  Argh! Aint no trouble at all matey. Every once in a while it’s good t’ get outta the water inta drydock an’ scrape the barnacles off m’ keel.

Ed.:  I can see how that would be necessary from time to time. Tell us a little bit about yourself, if you don’t mind.

Sharky:  Well, I been at sea most o' m’ life.

Ed.:  Oh, that’s marvelous. Did you start as a cabin boy?

Sharky:  No, nothin’ like that. See, m’ old man were a pirate. When he spotted a ship he wanted to pillage, he and the rest o’ the crew’d get belowdecks and leave me on deck by m’self. I were only about 7 or 8, and I’d set to hollerin’ and whinin’ and carryin’ on. The target ship’d always come see what the fuss were about. They’d see me alone on deck, and I’d shout that everyone were washed overboard in a storm. They’d come over to rescue me, and m’ dad’s crew would overpower ‘em and board their ship. We took a lot of fat prizes that way.

Ed.:  Oh, how, umm, cute.

Sharky:  Them were the days. ‘Bout the only happy times I can remember, ‘cept o’ course when I found m’ ring. Things started lookin’ up after that.

Ed.: Your ring?

Sharky:  Yep. I took it from a lubber one time when I was ashore. I’d lost m’ ship and I wanted the ring to finance a new one. I ran the dog through, took the ring, but I couldn’t bring m’ self to sell it. Instead, I kept it and stole a merchant vessel.

I recruited a new crew, found a good island hideout, and set about plunderin’ vessels. I grew to be successful and set up a piratin’ empire. I was known throughout the world as the meanest, dirtiest, most rotten scoundrel to sail the high seas.

Ed.:  So I understand. So what happened with Cal Endria and his group.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Giveaway

Hi all! Here's a chance to get a great gift after the holidays. Become a follower of this blog between now and the end of the year, and you'll be entered in a drawing to receive a copy of my book, "The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel".

Plus, if you like The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel page on Facebook, you'll be entered in the drawing twice! Click here to go to the page and like it.

Thanks, and good luck!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Publicity Continues...

Hello everyone. I wasn't intending to post today, but I figured I should. On Sunday, the book was featured in our metro area paper, The Danbury News Times. Here's a copy of the article:

All in all, a really nice article, although I think I made a rookie mistake by assuming they'd make a photo of the cover from the book I provided them, as The Citizen News had done. I should have provided an image up front. My bad. Live and learn. Still, thank you so much, Carolyn Mueller, for a great article!

So now, I'll have to look for some other publicity outlets, including blog interviews. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

So far, sales are great, and the response from the kids has been overwhelmingly positive. It's great to have that reinforcement that I really did write a great book! Today, a coworker told me that her children wanted to meet me and ask me some questions about the book. I'm looking forward to talking with them. Right now, they've read to about Chapter 5, so they're just starting to get into the meat of it.

If any of you are teachers in the Connecticut area and would like me to come read at your school, please let me know by contacting me at the book's Facebook page (!/pages/The-Deliverers-Sharky-and-the-Jewel/106991556036870), or commenting on this post and we can make arrangements.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

An Interview With Hallo Tosis

Our Sunday character interview series continues with the last of the Deliverers, Hallo Tosis the dwarf. Let's get right to it.

Editor:  Welcome, Hallo, to The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters. It’s great to have you here.

Hallo: Thank’ee, thank’ee it’s great t’ be here, too. But, from what the others said, I thought it’d be more fancy-like, don’t ya know.

Ed.: Umm, how do you mean?

Hallo:  Oh, well, er, they said this were a magnificent showpiece an’ all. But t’ tell ya the truth, an’ I really don’t know how t’ tell ya this an’ all, but this here’s a real dump, don’t ya know. ‘T ain’t so much to it. They said the corridors went on f’ever an’ that there was fancy furniture an’ paintin’s an’ such, but I ain’t seen none o’ them things.
 Ed.: Hallo! It’s a joke!

Hallo: A which?

Ed.:  A joke. A running gag. We’ve been doing it throughout the interview series. Didn’t the others tell you?

Hallo:  Wha’? Oh, er, um, sorry ‘bout that. Come t’ think on it, now that ya mention it, they did say somethin’ ‘bout gaggin’. It come t’ mind ‘cause I felt like gaggin’ when I come in, don’t ya know. Sorry I spoilt the joke, sonny.

Ed.:  Oh, don’t worry about it, Hallo. Let’s just get on with the interview, shall we?

Hallo:  You go it, mister. Let’s get this show on the road, don’t ya know.

Ed.:  Alrighty, then. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, Hallo?

Hallo:  Well, let’s see. You’re prob’ly wonderin’ ‘bout m’ name. Hallo Tosis ain’t such a hot name. It were given t’ me by m’ pappy, Jeremiah Tosis. He has a cuttin’ sense o’ humor, an’ he thought it funny t’ give me such a stinky name.

I was borned in the Dwarf Kingdom. I come from a long line of smithys. Some o’ m’ ancestors was silversmithys, some were goldsmithys. Some were sculptors, artisans, an’ some was tunnelers, don’t ya know. M’ pappy is the Royal Goldsmithy, the official goldsmithy t’ the kin, a right important position.

On the other hand, I don’t have none o’ them skills. I’m the only one o’ m’ folk without the Gift, as we call it. M’ pappy were right fed up w’ me. In fact, he had me banished. So, I took t’ wanderin’ in the mountains, not bein’ able t’ go home an’ afraid t’ be found out by the Big Folk.

Then, I met Eric, Stig ‘n’ Kate, an’ m’ life took a turn for the better, don’t ya know.

Ed.:  What’s the Dwarf Kingdom like?

Hallo:  It’s a place o’ unsurpassed beauty, don’t ya know. It’s located under the Iron Mountains, not too far from Calendria. There are many villages in the Kingdom, an’ everyone lives in comfort, like. I sure missed livin’ there.

The art were stupendous. There are carvin’s and reliefs cut inta the walls. Gold an’ jewel inlaid statues line the streets. The villages bustle with activity in the marketplaces an’ forges. I’m proud that I’m from the Kingdom.

Ed.:  What are your thoughts about the rest of the Deliverers?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Peering Through the Mist

So the last couple of evenings I've been working on the background information for the next book. I've made some great progress. I've got the motivations down and most of the major people within that world identified. The world is definately taking shape. Things are still hazy, but I'm breaking through the mist.

It's funny how things just sort of maturally open up whenever I go through this process. Now when I envision this world in my mind's eye, I at least have an idea of what it looks like, who the people are, and what problems they face.

I still don't have much of an idea of exactly how events will play out, but I'm much closer. I can even envision that there will be some twists and turns along the way. I can see the plot moving in a few different directions. That's part of the journey, part of the fun. This book is shaping up to be pretty good. I can't wait to see how things turn out.

I know that there will be some more (perhaps many more) roadblocks and details along the way, but things are moving forward. As long as I'm making progress, I'll be happy, and you'll be closer to having the second book in your hands.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Getting the Publicity Machine Rolling

Today, The Citizen News, my town's local weekly paper, arrived in my mailbox. I'd been interviewed by Pamela Brown, one of their reporters, last week. She'd told me that her article would be appearing in this week's paper. What I didn't realize was that the article was appearing on the FRONT PAGE!!!

The picture above is the page all folded so I could get the newspaper's name in there. Now granted, it's my local paper, not the New York Times, but the paper goes to everyone in my town and the next one over and everyone around here reads it, so it's fantastic publicity, and I'm very grateful.

Thank you so much to publisher and editor Ellen Burnett and reporter Pamela Brown for the great placement and the great article, which made me sound articulate and thoughtful (I know, a great writing feat)! Thanks to you, my first interview was a great experience.

This is the first step. The book is due to be featured in another paper this Sunday. So, slowly but surely the word is getting out. If any of you have any suggestions as to where else to send a press release, or if you know someone who works at a newspaper, please let me know!

Now, it's back to writing some background for the new world. I'll give you an update on how that's working out tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Chapter 4

A week or so ago, around Thanksgiving, I wrote that I had started writing my second book. I was really excited. In two days, I wrote two chapters and had started on chapter three. Everything was humming along. The words were flowing, and they were good!

I got Eric out of this world and into the Hallway of Worlds. He met up with the Gatekeeper and a few old friends. He was given an Assignment and sent on his way. The book was on the runway ready for takeoff. Nothing was going to stop me! The book would be finished before the end of winter! Then it happened.

I took a detour. Eric went into the new world. Although I knew what his Assignment would be, and what he needed to do to accomplish it, I realized that I knew nothing about this new world. Trying to write about that new world was like trying to drive to Peoria without a roadmap, or Mapquest, or a GPS. I knew where I was going, but I had no idea about how to get there.

So, I stopped. It was late in the day on Sunday, and I had to post Kate Endria's interview on the blog. I did that and told myself that I'd get back to writing a history of the new world tomorrow. I mean, what the heck. It was going real well, nothing to it. I'd have it done in no time. That was over a week ago, and since then, I haven't done a thing.

Now, I do have excuses. I'm working on a lot of stuff at work (a lot). I've had a couple of Lions Club meetings (okay, one was a club Christmas party). I even (this is exciting) was interviewed twice for a couple of articles in the two local papers.

It was easy to get distracted, but the fact of the matter is that I have to stick my rear in a chair, buckle down, and write that background information. Without it, the book won't seem as real. I took the time and did that for Calendria, and now it seems as real to me as if I'd lived there for ten years. I know the people, what they think, and why they think it. I have to do that with this new place.

So, tonight I'm turning off my computer for a while, taking out a pencil and some paper, and writing out a history and a map. If I don't know where the heck everything is, then it's a pretty good bet that The Deliverers won't, either. I'll see you when the road is clear.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

An Interview With Eric Scott

This week it's Eric's turn to be interviewed on our Sunday interview series. Eric is, of course, the center of the story, and although he has help, it's really all about him (although he doesn't think so). So let's see what Eric had to say during his visit to The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters.

Editor:  Eric, welcome to The Deliverers Publications Headquarters. We’re really happy to have you here.

Eric:  Thank you sir. It’s really great to be here. This place is sweet. Nobody told me you, like, had a mansion for a headquarters. This place is so sick.

Ed.:  Um..okay. I’ll take that as a good thing. So, what was it like to go on an Assignment?

Eric:  It was, like, real strange, but also exciting. I was a little freaked out by Stig at first, but the Gatekeeper was smart to send him, he got my attention. I gotta admit it was scary, but after a while I kind of got used to it. Stig was a big help, too. I kind of felt like I almost grew into the Assignment as I went along.

Ed.:  What was Calendria really like?

Eric:  Well, at first, I thought it was kind of this dumpy little village. I mean, it seemed kind of backward. And the people were all kind of wimpy. They never really tried to fight Sharky. But, you know, I guess they had a good reason. I mean, Sharky was, like, more than 300 years old, so what kind of a chance did they have? But after I got to know everybody there, I think they almost became like family.

Calendria is a great place. I kind of think of it as my second home, now. Life moves a little slower than it does in most of our world. People all know each other. It’s just different.

Ed.:  How were you able to come up with a plan to fight Sharky and his pirates?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oh, What A Feeling

Hello everybody! Today, something very strange happened. I was recognized. My daughter and I were at my local library, where the book will soon be available, to drop off some The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel bookmarks. There was a Girl Scout meeting going on in the community room.

Suddenly, one of the mothers comes up to me and tells me she bought my book for her daughter for Christmas. She knows a friend of mine whose daughter loves the book. Then, she went back into the meeting. A little while later, three Girl Scouts came down to the children's library with another mother.

The girls were kind of excited. One said that she was getting the book. I gave them some bookmarks and had a nice chat with them. The mother said that when she told her daughter I was there, she couldn't believe it and wanted to come down.

That was really cool. Not so much the recognition. That was a little surreal. What was actually cool was the fact that here were the people I was writing for, kids 9-13, who were actually looking forward to reading the book. One of their friends had read it and must have talked it up to them. I know her mother had talked it up to the other mothers (thanks, Christine!).

To me, that was the greatest feeling. It means that maybe I did it right. I wrote a book that kids will like. It's stuff like that, that makes everything--all the time and effort and doubt--worth it. I shouldn't worry about how many books I sell. Seeing the excitement on that girl's face when I handed her a bookmark and she told me she's getting the book, I know I've already succeeded.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Very Productive Weekend

Hello, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! The extended Thanksgiving weekend turned out to be a quite successful one for me. First off, I was able to sit down with my family for some great food and conversation. Then, I sat down with Kate Endria for an in depth interview. She gave us fascinating details about her life growing up and the history of her village, Calendria.

Then, I heard from two local papers that I had sent press releases and books to. They're going to interview me for articles that will appear December. I received a list of questions from one this morning. So that's some nice publicity. It will be nice to get the word out.

The thing that I'm happiest about, however, does not involve the current book. I began work on the next book in the Deliverers series. In fact, I didn't just begin, I wrote the first two and a half chapters! Now, for me to do that in a couple of days is just spectacular.

It was a great feeling to have the words flow so easily. Plot situations revised or fixed themselves easily, like right after I put the original thought down. So far, it seems to be a lot easier the second time around. We'll see if that continues. I'm hoping that it does. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

An Interview With Kate Endria

Today we sit down to interview Kate Endria. She is the daughter of the Lord Mayor of Calendria, and an important part of the Deliverers team. So, let's get right to it.

Editor:  Welcome to the Deliverers Publishing Headquarters, Kate. Thanks for stopping by.

Kate:  You’re very welcome. This is so exciting! I never thought I’d get to visit this place. Stig told me all about it, but I would never have believed how extravagant your headquarters was if I hadn’t have seen it for myself.

Ed.:  Well, I don’t think it’s as impressive as you’re making it out to be. But anyway, what was your family life like growing up?

Kate:  Some might say that I still have some growing up to do, especially the members of our Council. I remember some happy times when I was younger. Of course, Sharky and the pirates were always around. If they weren’t terrorizing Calendria on Tariff Day, there was always the thought that Sharky was watching.

I remember times with my papa and mother—before she died. We were happy, going to the Green for picnics, pot luck suppers at the meeting house. But, then Mother got sick, and things weren’t so good. I was seven when she passed.

But, Papa has always been wonderful, and he does his best to make up for not having a mother. And of course Gretchen, our maid, has always been a dear, and Madame Bottleneck, too. I’ve been blessed to live in a village where everyone cares about one another, and I’m proud of Papa, who’s the Lord Mayor.

Ed.:  Tell us a little bit about Calendria and its history.

Kate:  Well, Calendria has a long and rich history. It was established over 300 years ago by my ancestor, Calvin Endria. Cal Endria had been Sharky’s first mate, but he and about 40 others in Sharky’s band decided it was time to settle down and retire. So, Cal went to the captain and stated his intentions, expecting that Shaky would either laugh in his face or run him through.

I think that he was pretty surprised when Sharky didn’t do either. Instead, he agreed to let Cal and his mates retire, provided that they paid a tariff of half of everything the settlement produced twice a year for a hundred years.

So that’s how Calendria started. Calvin Endria was the first Lord Mayor, and the village was named in his honor. The position of Lord Mayor has been handed down to the eldest son in the Endria family for generation after generation.

Ed.:  You were the one who discovered the Deliverers. How did you come to be searching for them?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday Deal

Happy turkey day, everybody. So, now we're all stuffed to the gills. Some of us are watching football (Dallas came back on the Dolphins! Ugh!). Some of us have departed, or are planning to depart for the stores in that Black Friday rush. I only have one thing to say--don't go out there, it's dark!

Why go out when you can shop from home? Order the greatest gift a child could receive this Christmas right from the comfort of your couch--"The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel" can be obtained online. And now, for this weekend only, you can get it for $1.50 off the regular price of $9.99. How you ask? With a discount coupon. If you order the book on CreateSpace, and enter this code at checkout: Q42K3ZJ8, you'll get that $1.50 off. But hurry, this coupon will only be valid until the end of the day Sunday, November 27. And really, who wants to look like this?:

Enjoy, and have a great rest of your day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lots to be Thankful For

Hey, work's done for the week! Yay! Today, I'm just doing a quick post to wish you all as safe, happy, yummy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your family and friends this weekend, eat a bunch, shop 'til you drop, and just chll and appreciate life and all its blessings! We've all got so much to be thankful for.

Check back here tomorrow evening for a special Black Friday deal on "The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel'. I'm not one to rush out the door as soon as the pumpkin pie is done to line up outside Wal-Mart in the cold, but I'd like to reward my Facebook and blog friends with a little something, because I truly am thankful for you all. So, I'll see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things

 My nine year old son would never read more than a few chapters of my book before it was published. Now, I know what you're thinking. That's hardly a ringing endorsement. You're right, and it used to bug the heck out of me.

I took to pestering him, "Don't you want to finish daddy's book? Don't you like it? Please read some more." I bothered him so much that I began to wonder who the child was, him or me. Insecurity can be a powerful thing.

I'd wonder, hey, if my own child won't read the blooming thing, what child will? Finally, I came right out and asked him why he wouldn't read it.

"Because," he said, "you just want to be famous."

That brought me up short and made me think. Was that true? Well, of course I'd like kids all over the world to read my book and to enjoy it. If that were to happen, then I guess there would be a certain amount of fame involved. But is that why I write, to be famous?

I know some writers who are almost compelled to write. They're not happy unless they're writing. That always kind of bothered me, because I am not compelled to write constantly. Now, once I start writing, it's a different story. Once I start, the compulsion kicks in.

But, if I don't start, I don't have the compulsion. And too often, I don't start--too many things get in the way. I think that it's not that I don't have the passion to write, it's just that I'm a lazy writer.

Take for example my second book. No it's not written yet. I've been kicking around an idea all summer, but I hadn't nailed anything down. I let things get in the way--the artwork and layout for the first book, our summer vacation, stuff at work, my Lions Club.

This past weekend, I sat down and finally ironed it out. Well, I ironed most of it out. Now, I can start writing this weekend, and we'll be on our way. Because once I get down to writing, the compulsion will kick in and there will be no stopping. No worries!

And, I shouldn't have been worried about my son. As soon as I got the proof copy, he sat down and read the book in a couple of days. He loved it. I guess his comment was just an excuse because my manuscript wasn't a book to him. But he made me examine why I write--and why I don't. And that's a good thing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

An Interview With Stig

The voting is complete, and the readers have spoken. You’ve selected Stig as the character you most wanted interviewed. Eventually, we’ll interview all the main characters from the book, but right now, here’s everyone’s favorite owl, Stigidae Ghostwing--uh, Stig for short.

Editor:  Welcome to the Deliverers Publishing Headquarters, Stig. Thanks for taking the time to, um, perch with us.

Stig:  It’s my pleasure entirely, I assure you. I say, your headquarters is really quite impressive.

Ed.:  Oh, how so?

Stig:  Well, the sheer size of the place for one thing, and the fine art and furnishings, to say nothing of all the awards and autographed political and celebrity photographs. I mean, who knew this was such an accomplished organization!

Ed.:  Stop, I’m blushing. But this isn’t about us. We want to hear about you. What was your childhood like?  Were you an only owl?

Stig:  I was an only child. It was rather difficult. You see, my childhood lasted for about 150 years. Most of that time was spent in school. Owls are nothing if not educated. When I wasn’t in school I was with my parents hunting for mice, moles, and the occasional rabbit.

Mother was kindly and very understanding of my youthful foibles. My father was a most respectable business owl, and did not go in for any “carrying on” whatsoever. This led to some friction between us when I entered my adolescent years. I must confide that, just between you and I, I was quite the hellion back in those days. Eventually, I settled down and became somewhat respectable myself, but the entire process was rather painful.

Ed.:  What is your world like?

Stig:  Oh, much like any other, I suppose. Owls are the predominant species. We’ve developed a very learned society, known for its universities. A nice place altogether, but not really my cup of tea. I don’t spend much time there these days, what with my Assignments and all.

Ed.:  How did you first get sent on an Assignment?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Readers' Poll--One Day Left!

Just a reminder that our readers' poll is winding down. There's just one day left. Right now, Stig is leading the voting. He's preening his feathers in anticipation of the upcoming interview. But what's this? Kate is not far behind, and she's far from beaten. She's rallying support and looking to make a late push. Hallo's still in the running, too. Slow and steady could win this race. Meanwhile, Eric's a bit put out because he only has one vote. Imagine, the hero not being interviewed first?! What kind of cut rate production is this? And there sits Sharky in last place. A fitting place for a villain, but very embarrassing. Surely, some of you out there would like to read an interview with the lowest, meanest, nastiest pirate to ever sail the high seas?!

Anyhow, it's time to vote. I'm interested to see how this plays out. Who will be chosen? We'll find out tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Now for the Rest of Chapter 1

Here's another reminder to vote in our first ever readers' poll if you haven't already. The poll is on the left.

A few days ago, I shared the first part of Chapter1 of my book, "The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel", with you. Now, as promised, I give you the rest of chapter 1:

In awe, Eric gaped around him. They were in a long corridor with doors on either side, each one the same. He noticed the door they had just come through had shifted to match the others, all rectangles about seven feet high with a large pane of frosted glass in the top half.

The hallway was lit by many chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, each of which held many candles that burned without a flicker in the still air. A red velvet carpet covered the floor, and it stretched as far as he could see, seeming to go forever in both directions.

Then, with a flicker of light, a desk materialized on his right. A wizened man with a long white beard and golden spectacles was sitting behind it. The desk was littered with papers. A large white quill pen stood in a jar of India ink amid the clutter. The man smiled as he rubbed his hands together. His blue eyes sparkled as he looked at the boy and the owl.

"Well, well, so this is the young man, is it, Stig?" he asked.

"Yes, quite correct," said Stig as he landed on the desk. "I have the honor of presenting Master Eric Scott. Eric, this is the Gatekeeper."

The old man stood up, his blue robes shimmering, and offered Eric a bony hand.
"Very pleased to meet you my boy," he said.

"Uh, same here," said Eric, shaking the old man's hand. He had expected the Gatekeeper to have a weak grip like his grandfather's, and was surprised by its strength.

The old man grinned as if reading his thoughts. "This job keeps me on the move," he said. "It wouldn't do to get out of shape. Now, I suppose Stig has explained all this to you. Is that right?" The Gatekeeper’s voice assumed a serious tone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

And Now A Word From Our Illustrator...

Hello all! First off, I'd like to remind you about our first readers' poll. Please take a look over to the left and cast your vote for the character you'd most like to see interviewed. This is just a basic poll, no log in required, no one tracking your online movements or anything like that!

And now, I'm pleased to introduce the first ever guest blogger to The Deliverers blog, Daniel Vogel. Daniel is our intrepid illustrator. This is one talented young man. He did the cover illustration, the map, and the chapter header illustration...and he doesn't even drive yet! So now, heeeere's Daniel!

Hello everyone, (or the percentage of the population that will read this). I'm Dan, and I'm here to talk, or type, about the illustrations for The Deliverers.

I really like drawing, and my Mom and Dad (who are good friends of Mr. Slomba) [Mr.?!-ed.] thought it would be a good idea to turn this into an art assignment for my schoolwork (I am home schooled).

Of course, reading the book was the first step. Uncle Greg (he is not really my Uncle, our family just calls him that--long story for another time) let some of my cousins and I have advanced copies of the final manuscript for a "test" reading.

It was a very good book!

Coming up with an idea for the cover illustration was tricky. I had to develop a drawing that captured the gist of the story, not give away the story too much, yet make a potential buyer say "Huh! This book looks interesting, I wonder what this story is about."

To me, The Deliverers entering the Dead Forest was an iconic scene, and I chose that as my starting point. I had trouble placing Stig in the drawing, trying to put him on Eric's shoulder. He seemed to get lost in the scene, but was too important a character, so I compromised by making him flying above the trees. I did numerous owl studies and tried a whole bunch of angles. It was a good exercise, and I learned a lot about owls in the process.

For the chapter drawings, I first tried to do individual drawings for each of them. That didn't work out quite the way I wanted. Over-thinking the ideas killed my momentum (my mom calls me a lazy artist).

The obvious solution: one chapter illustration that captures what the book is about. After more study sketches, I settled on a drawing of a ring, with two swords crossed behind it, with two flags flying on top of it all.

That was only the beginning. After Uncle Greg approved the sketches, I scanned them into the computer and my Mom (a graphic designer by trade) and I worked together to spruce up the art on Photoshop and add the glow effects. We took out eraser lines, added contrast and brightened color, and then she showed me how to put in the fancy gold type used in the title.

Uncle Greg also wanted a map of Calendria. First try, the perspective was horrible and I got the places mixed up. Second try, I got the places right but I messed up the perspective. My Mom worked with me to manipulate the image to the right perspective in, you guessed it, Photoshop. I really like that program!

Overall, illustrating this book was a great experience, and I want to thank Uncle Greg for letting me participate in the process.

And if there is a sequel, I will pull out my pencils once again!

Thanks, Daniel. Keep those pencils handy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different--A Readers' Poll

Okay, here's something new for this blog--our first ever readers' poll. I'm planning on interviewing some of the characters from The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel", and I couldn't figure out which character I'd most like to interview first. Then I thought, why worry about it myself? So I figured I'd let you decide.

Over to the left of the homepage you'll see the poll. Just click on the character you're voting for, and click the "Vote" button to register your vote. In four days, the voting will close, and I'll announce the first character interview.

The five characters are Eric Scott, our hero; Stigidae Ghostwing--Stig for short, talking owl; Kate Endria, the Lord Mayor's daughter; Hallo Tosis, outcast dwarf; and Burt Sharky, immortal(ish) pirate captain. All of them should be interesting interviews, so I don't think anyone will be disappointed no matter what the outcome. May the best character win!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Sneak Peek of Part of Chapter 1

Hello. Today, I'll give you a sneak peek of part of chapter 1 of "The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel". Chapter 1 is pretty long, so I'm doing the first part now. I'll follow up with the second half in an upcoming post. So, without further ado, here we go:

Out of This World

The boy’s heart hammered in his chest. His knees quaked and he felt weak as he stood on the narrow mountain path, high above the plain below. Wind whipped his red hair and tugged at his clothes, trying to blow him over the cliff as he clung to the solid bulk of the rock face.

Beside him stood a man. Although the face was blurred and indistinct, the boy knew it was his father. The mountaintop was shrouded in mist, making everything around the pair hazy and surreal. A faint reddish light gave the mist a rosy glow, adding to the otherworldly feeling.

The boy’s father nodded, and they both began inching up the path, the man in the lead, each clutching the rock face. The boy took a deep breath and looked over the edge of the cliff. Wisps of cloud tracked across his vision, momentarily obscuring, then revealing, the dizzying drop to the landscape below.

He trembled, suddenly unable to move. His father stopped and turned, gesturing for him to follow. Almost without thinking, the boy took one step, then another, then one more. The reddish glow became brighter as they walked, until the air around them glowed blood red.

Suddenly, a black shadow loomed over them. The boy heard the flap of leathery wings and felt a blast of hot air as some creature flew overhead. Startled, both climbers darted toward the cliff to avoid the creature, their momentum carrying them toward the edge. The boy managed to grab hold of a boulder on the precipice, but his father stumbled, wobbled sickeningly on the edge, then toppled over. All the boy could do was watch as his father spun and twisted, hurtling down toward the plain, which rushed up to meet him. Arms and legs flailing the man tumbled, his mouth forming a scream.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sharky, the Bad Guy

I've introduced you to all four of The Deliverers; Eric, Stig, Kate, and Hallo. Now, I'd like to tell you a little about the villian of the book, Captain Burt Sharky.

Sharky leads a band of bloodthirsty pirates. He's been doing that for over three hundred years. How does he live so long? Is he immortal? Have to read the book to find out.

One thing's for sure, he's not a nice guy. The ancestors of the villagers of Calendria were once part of Sharky's crew. They decided to settle down, so they asked Sharky for permission. Sharky decided to let them, provided they did something for him in return. It was agreed, and they had a deal, but Sharky cheated. That's just the way he is.

Ever since then, he's terrorized the village, and the residents have been unable to do anything about it. He's got a strange ring that legend says gives him the ability to see into peoples' minds. And, oh yes, he's got a terrible temper. All his crew are scared of him, except, perhaps, his first mate, Mr. Marrow.

Anyway, he's quite rotten. Perfect for a bad guy. You'll love him, or hate him...

On another note, I've joined the Twitterverse. If you'd like to twit or tweet, or whatever, you can follow me at @GregDeliverers. Thanks.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Our Veterans, the True Deliverers

I spend a lot of my time writing about The Deliverers, ordinary people who save a small village from a band of pirates, and wind up heroes. While this is fiction, we're blessed with our own heroes--our veterans. Ordinary folks just like us who chose, or were chosen, to do the extraordinary.

So today, show some love to the veterans in your life, and all those you meet. They're what's built this country. Remember, too, that it's our responsibility to keep this country great by working together, so that all their sacrifice will not have been in vain.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Publication, Day 2

Well, I've been published for a day (more or less), and it's been great so far. Thank you all so much for your good wishes and support. So now, the book is out there, and you will buy it and read it. That's great, and it's great for this blog, because now you will know what the heck I'm talking about. It should allow me to go in some more interesting directions.

I'd like to have some guests come on and write some posts about the book, and what you liked and what you didn't like about it. I've also got one or two deleted chapters which are quite interesting, and some early plot explorations which I will share.

As I get more savvy about this thing called blogging, I'll be running some contests. I'll be keeping you up to date on the book signings and book shows that I'll be attending. It's a whole new world, and I'll be taking you right along with me.

I'm currently hammering out an idea for Eric and company's next adventure. I intend to give you updates on how it's going, and I'll probably ask for your input, too.

Writing today is a more communal activity than it's been traditionally. I used to lock myself away and write. Now I write in front of the whole world, letting everyone know my thoughts, challenges, successes, and wrong turns. I'm thankful for your support, and it keeps me mindful of who I'm writing for. It's not just myself. I'm writing for you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's Heeere...

Well, I told you yesterday that today I would have an announcement. I wasn't lying. The book is out in paperback!!! It's available on Amazon and CreateSpace. Please buy it for yourselves, your children, and/or your grandchildren. It makes a great Christmas/holiday present!

So please buy it, and, if you like it, go back and post a review. Tell your family and friends, pass along this blog link. Okay, that's my sales pitch, I'll keep this post short. Sorry I don't have any streamers and balloons. Confetti would be nice... Thanks for checking it out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Writing Through the Block

The strange thing about writing a blog is that I don't always know what I'm going to write about. That's kind of the case today. I'm sitting on some news, and don't want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. So, I'm looking for something else to write about that will be on par with the witty, entertaining and, dare I say, downright brilliant posts that you've grown accustomed to.

Okay, maybe I'm stretching it a bit. Okay...a lot!

So, how am I doing so far? No, you don't have to answer that one. I'm on thin ice already for my statement in the first paragraph. I'm sitting here with my 7 year old daughter, and she's giving me advice on what to write. "Write about work...Write about dinner. You can write about anything that you want."

Oh, yeah. Sometimes we get caught up in the things we have to do, or those we feel we should do. We don't always consider that we have a choice, and that sometimes we can do whatever we want and not feel guilty about it. This is one of those times.

That's kind of what happens to writers. We put so much pressure on ourselves to write, and write well, that we wind up writing nothing at all--because nothing is good enough. I think the thing to do is just write your way through writer's block. Stream of consciousness, that's the thing. A lot of times when I do this, nothing but crud comes out. But eventually, the crud clears away, and the good ideas come gushing forth again.

And the good ideas always come. That's the beauty of writing. That's what keeps me coming back. Writing is a way of life. It's a means to come to grips with feelings and emotions. To blow off steam after a hard day, or to visit places or times you never would be able to in the here and now.

When I write, I am the architect of worlds, the giver of life, more than I normally am. At the same time, when I write about these new and different things, I am more me. You might think the crud's still flowing, but it's true. When the writing's good, it's really a kind of rush. You feel like you've accomplished something.

Well, I'm glad I got that out of my system. Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Writing--It's Fantastic!

So, how did I get started writing fantasy, and writing it for tweens? I've always loved to read. Reading has been a staple ever since I read my first book on my own about a farmer who takes a big wheel of cheese to the market in town in a wheelbarrow, and loses it. It rolls up hill and down with the farmer chasing after it.

But that's kind of beside the point. My mother was (and is) of the opinion that a love of reading should be cultivated at a young age, and nurtured through those "difficult" middle grade years. In an effort to do this, she started reading to myself and my four siblings at the dinner table.

Every night when dinner was over, and the dishes had been cleared away, my mom would read a chapter of a book. The first book she read to us was "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis, the first in the Chronicles of Narnia series. I must have been 12 or 13 and I was entranced by the book. It let my imagination take flight, and took me to places I'd never known existed. Here's a picture of the edition she read to us from:

It's the 70's version. Kind of harkens back to the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. There's something a little Paul and Ringoish about Peter and Edmund.

I'd always been a fan of fantasy to some degree. In addition to my love of "Where the Wild Things Are" when I was younger, I also loved "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "The Phantom Tollbooth", among others. But on some level, I connected more deeply with this book.

Mom read the whole book over the course of a couple of weeks. Then, she moved on to book 2 of the Chronicles, "Prince Caspian". She read one or two more, but by the time she'd finished with book two, I'd raced far ahead. In no time, I'd devoured all seven books of the Chronicles and was looking for more.

That's when my mom suggested I check out "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien. That was well and truly it. I was hooked. From there it was on to "The Lord of the Rings". Things haven't been the same since.

This started me on my way. I knew what I was going to do. I was going to write fantasy novels for children. I started right away. I made the mistake of trying to write an 8th book of the Chronicles of Narnia--not a good idea. Then, I started a fantasy epic of my own inspiration, complete with a map and everything.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I don't think anything has survived from that ill fated manuscript. After that I bided my time. Something else grabbed my writing attention around this time and on into high school and college--comedy. But that's a story for another day.