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.