Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Father Time

Well here we are, at the end of another year. I was wondering who I could get on such a busy night, and I was lucky enough to bump into our guest on his way to Times Square. He graciously agreed to take a minute and talk with us a little. He's in a hurry, so we'll get right to it, welcome Father Time!

Greg:  Welcome Father Time. Thanks for stopping by on what must be a very busy night for you.

Time:  You ain't just whistling Dixie, bub! This is just about the most busy night you can imagine. So if you want to ask questions you better hurry, I don't have much time. Get it? Father Time doesn't have much time? Ha, ha, ha, boy irony can sure be ironic sometimes, can't it. Sorry, just a time humor there.

Greg:  Yes, quite witty, you must have been waiting a long time to use that. Or perhaps you've used it many times? Anyway, enough of this idle chit chat. What are your thoughts about this past year as we head into the new one?

Time:  Well, now I've seen so many years come and go they all start to look alike to me. Mind you there are some that stand out, you understand. Take 1776 for instance, lots of excitement there. The year 1 was pretty momentous. The common misconception of course is that the year 1 was the first year, but there were millions before that. I can remember 'em all.

Every year has its ups and downs. You can always find a little good in every year, no matter how bad and a little bad in every year no matter how good it was overall. This year has been no exception. We've had a lot of trials this year, especially lately, but plenty of good moments, too.

Greg:  Yes, I guess you're right. What do you look forward to in the new year?

Time:  Land sakes, I look forward to being able to slow down a little bit. Did you ever notice that January and February kind of plod around a bit? Well that's no accident, sonny! I've got to rest up a bit, recharge my battery. The end of the year is a busy time. Time marches on, but sheesh, no need to rush on without slowing down to smell the roses every so often.

Besides, I've got to take some time to get the old year squared away in his place among eternity and the new year up to speed, otherwise it's like falling off that dadblamed fiscal cliff I hear so much about.

Greg:  I guess everyone has their cliffs that they have to put up with. How do new years prepare for their time?

Time:  I've got a little prep school set up for 'em. Yep, I train 'em up right for a number of years. Just between you and me, the next few years are shaping up pretty nicely if I do say so myself, so you can look forward to better times ahead. Again, just between you and me, the last couple of years have been a little shaky. They did all right, but didn't work out quite as well as 2013, 14 and 15. We're on to some real winners with this lot, I can tell you.

Greg:  Well, I think we can all take a little bit of comfort from that bit of news. Now I know you're in a hurry, so we'll let you fly. Thanks again for spending just a little bit of time with us!

Time:  My pleasure. It was a lot of fun, but I've got to be flying. I always do when I'm having fun. Happy New Year!

Greg:  Happy New Year! And Happy New Year to all of you. Thanks for reading this past year, and have a safe, happy and healthy 2013! God bless!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Writer's Week #51: Looking Behind and Ahead

So here we are at the end of another year. All in all I'd say it's been a good one. On the writing side, I've accomplished a lot. 
Happy New Year from Stig!
  • The Deliverers, while not setting the world on fire, has sold okay. More importantly, I have received enthusiastic feedback from readers, which has been very encouraging and much appreciated.
  • I made a lot of school visits and met a bunch of great students and teachers. 
  • I was also able to write the second book, The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion. It is currently in the hands of test readers and will be out by next spring.
  • The audio book version of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel featuring Jimm Singer is complete and will be out in January.
The new year will soon be upon us, and that means that it's time to write another book. This week, I began writing the third book in the Deliverers series, The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang. I spent over a month mapping out and refining the plot. 

Christmas a few years ago--Christian & Abby
I have set a goal of 2,000 words a week. Now, I only wrote a little over 1,700 words this week, but I have to say that I'm satisfied with that. For me, starting a book is the hardest part. After all, I rewrote the first chapter of both my previous books. I think this time, I got the first chapter right (although it's not quite finished yet). Time will tell.

With the coming of the new year, I think I'm off to a great start. I'm looking forward to seeing this book grow and develop. As always, I'll bring you along for the ride every week. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What's Christian Reading? Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel

Christmas has come and gone, and I hope you all had a great holiday. I did, and so did Christian. He received a couple of books as well as a Kindle Fire, so he's in reading heaven. This week, he's going to tell us a little bit about one of the books he received, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel, by Jeff Kinney. Let's see what he thought.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"The book is about this kid named Greg Heffly. He has to find a date for a Valentine's Day dance. He is having trouble because he's not that popular with the ladies. All the girls are fair game except for the really popular ones and the weird ones. The ones in the middle section of popularity are all good. He does have his eye on one girl that is super popular, Holly Hills, the most popular girl in school.

"Maybe they will get together and go to the dance or they will go with different people. Greg doesn't have his eye set on only Holly though. He wants any girl he can get. The only girl he doesn't want though is Ruby Bird, the weirdest girl in the school.

"Unlike most people Greg remembers every moment of his life, starting from when he was in his mom's stomach. He says it was a good place to be except for the fact that when his mother talked he could hear anything she said. Greg could do whatever he wanted."

What does Christian like about the book?

"I liked the part when Greg has to sell chocolate bars for a school fund raiser and he eats them all."

Was there anything that Christian did not like about the book?

Nothing,  I liked it all.

How does Christian rate The Third Wheel by Jeff Kinney?

Christian gives it five flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Story for You

Hello! I hope everyone is having a great Christmas. I wish all of you peace, love and joy in the coming year. This year, I wrote a story for Christmas. It's kind of an action/adventure Santa story for kids. Here it is. Enjoy!


Hi, how’re you all doin’? I’m doin’ okay, I guess. I mean, I’m doin’ okay now, but it gotta admit I wasn’t doin’ so hot a few days ago. What? Why? Whaddya mean why? Can’t someone have some issues without everyone suddenly jumping all over him? Just because your life is all hunky dory doesn’t mean you have to start buttin’ in on my business.

Oh, uh, sorry about that. It’s just that things’re goin’ okay now and I don’t wanna jinx it by bringin’ the subject up. But, since we’re talkin’ a little about it now, and nothin’ ain’t happened so far, and it’s Christmas and all, I guess it’d be okay to talk about it just this once. Besides, I gotta admit, I’m dyin’ to tell someone about it.

I mean even now I don’t hardly believe it. It’s kinda like somethin’ outta a dream. Okay, so I’m gonna tell you, but don’t go askin’ if it’s true or did I make it up or nothin’ like that. ‘Cause I’m tellin’ ya, this is the gosh honest truth. Okay, here goes nothin’.

First, I gotta tell you a little bit about myself. The name’s Little Jumbo Twofeet, but you can just call me L.J., which is what everyone else calls me. Oh, now don’t start already. Don’t look at me like that. Little Jumbo is my name. Why’re you laughin’? It’s a perfectly good name for any respectable gnome to have.

What, again with the laughin’? What’s so funny? Oh, you don’t believe I’m a gnome, huh? You think gnomes have high squeaky voices and are shy and timid? Hah, shows how much you know about gnomes. We gnomes have one of the most important jobs you could ever want to have. We help people.

Didn’t know that, huh? I didn’t think so. Lotsa people don’t. Yeah, well here’s somethin’ else ya didn’t know. We also help Santa.

No, we don’t make toys! We ain’t elves. The elves make all the toys, get all the glory, sit on shelves. Yeah I know all about them. Everyone knows all about them. But that’s all they do. Kinda one-dimensional, don’t ya think?

Now, we gnomes are much more important, but we don’t get no publicity like. It’s okay, that’s the way we like it. Ya see, while the elves are busy makin’ toys and bein’ cute, gnomes are busy doin’ everything else.

Whaddya mean, like what? I mean like everything. We take care of Santa’s sleigh, feed the reindeer, polish the tack, and muck out the stalls. Gnomes take care of the grounds around Santa’s magic castle. We plow the driveway and shovel the walk, decorate the trees outside and change the bulbs on Santa’s Christmas displays, and brother, does he have a bunch of displays!

Then, there’s Santa’s magic castle and workshop itself. We make sure everything in Santa’s workshop is workin’ and runnin’ smooth—conveyor belts, workbenches, paint cans, toolkits. We chop wood for the fire for Santa’s fireplace. We cook the meals, wash the dishes, and help Mrs. Claus bake Christmas cookies.

Sometimes, Santa asks us to help with a special project or problem. It was the gnomes that really solved the problem with the Great Fog of ’64, where Rudolph saved the day. The elves would like to think that they were responsible, but really it was the gnomes. Going back even further, there was the year of the Great Melt, in which the polar ice cap started meltin’ like no one else’s business. You think we got a problem with global warmin’ now? Well you ain’t seen nothin’ until you saw what that solar flare almost did to us a couple of hundred years back.

So, like I said, even though the North Pole is one of the happiest places on earth, we’ve still had our share of hardship, just like everybody else. But all them bad times rolled inta one ain’t nothin’ ta compare with what almost happened just a few days ago. It was horrible, and it almost brought Santa, his magic castle, the elves, the gnomes, and the whole kit and caboodle crashin’ down on us. We was that far from hangin’ up an outta business sign. I’m tellin’ ya, it was that close.

It started just a little over a week ago. I was walkin’ down the old mill path, just enjoyin’ a nice winter walk. The mill stream was frozen over, snow was on the ground. It was a real winter wonderland, just like always here at the North Pole. I was just walkin’ along mindin’ my own business, enjoyin’ a little free time, which is real rare this time of year.

So, I’m walkin’ along, when all of a sudden I see some smoke comin’ up from beyond Blitzin’s Ridge—off in the direction of the Ghostly Woods. It wasn’t a homey lookin’ smoke like the white smoke that comes out of a chimney. This smoke was black and dangerous lookin’ and there was a whole lot of it.

Now, you can imagine I got real worried in a hurry. First, smoke is always a bad sign, and second, nothin’ good ever came from the Ghostly Woods. In my granddaddy’s day, when Santa was just startin’ out, there were a lot of bad creatures that was livin’ up here at the North Pole.

Before he could set up shop, Santa had to clear all of them out. He signed an agreement with the gnomes to help. The gnomes beat the creatures back, out of the North Pole and into the Ghostly Woods. They were beaten so bad, that none of them creatures dared show themselves for more than 1,000 years.

What? Huh? Oh, what sorts of creature were they? Oh lots of nasties, I can tell ya. There were bats and wolves, abominable snowmen and trolls. And goblins. Oh, the goblins were the worst. I’d rather meet an abominable snowman than a goblin any day. Luckily, goblins have become few and far between. We don’t hardly ever see any these days. Or at least we didn’t, but I’m gettin’ ahead of myself.

Like I was sayin’, I saw smoke comin’ from the direction of the Ghostly Woods—not a good sign. So I hoofed it over to Santa’s workshop as quick as I could. I had to find the big guy quick, and this time of year, he spends most of his time over at the workshop doin’ quality control, because that’s what ya gotta do when you got elves on the job, sorry to say.

When I got there, though, Santa weren’t nowhere to be found. Nobody’d seen him since he went for a little stroll just before lunch. This was bad. First, Santa had precious little time for a stroll, and second, Santa never, and I mean never, missed a meal. I knew something was terribly wrong.

Quick as anything, I rounded up a few of the lads—Tommy Tingle Crowsfoot, Jingle Jangle Gobsmacker, and Hulu Wahoo Nederlander—for a search party. Quickly, I told ‘em about the smoke I’d seen out Blitzen’s Ridge and they all agreed that somethin’ must be goin’ on in the Wood.

The next step was ta get us some supplies and provisions, because it ain’t smart ta go runnin’ inta the Ghostly Woods willy-nilly without bein’ prepared. The only place to get the supplies was Santa’s magic castle. It’s got anything in it that you could wish for. The only problem is ya hafta ask Mrs. Claus for permission to take anything outta there.

Now you can imagine that we didn’t wanna upset Mrs. Claus by tellin’ her ol’ Santa was missin’. But, we still had to ask her for permission to take the food and tools that we needed for the expedition.

It was here that the elves helped us out. See, elves ain’t much good for anything but makin’ toys. There is one other thing that they’re good at, though, and while it’s usually annoyin’, this time it came in real handy. Of course, I’m talkin’ about makin’ mischief. Elves always like a good joke, especially when it’s at the expense of someone else.

I was able to convince a few of ‘em ta play a joke on a couple of the gnomes that were workin’ in the castle. They poured boilin’ water down the backs of their shirts. Well, that set off a good knockdown, dragout brawl that kept Mrs. Claus busy for the better part of an hour—plenty of time for me and the boys to get what we needed and scram.

Once we were all outfitted okay, we headed on over to the ridge. The smoke was still risin’ as we climbed to the top of the hill and looked out over the Ghostly Woods. It was just like I thought. The smoke was coming from right in the middle of the woods. We knew we had to move quick. There was only a coupla hours of daylight left, and nobody wanted to be stuck in that haunted forest after dark.

It was then that I spotted somethin’ lyin’ in the snow about midway between the ridge and the woods. We all slid and slithered down the backside of the ridge as quick as may be and trotted on over to it. We stood in a circle around it, hardly daring to touch it.

Lying in a circle of churned up snow was a big black boot. Only one person we knew wore a boot like that. I picked it up and checked inside. Size 18 EEE. Sure enough, it was Santa’s boot. Now things was lookin’ black indeed. Santa missin’, one of his boots in the snow, signs of a struggle, and black smoke comin’ from the Ghostly Woods. We didn’t know what was goin’ on, but it sure as heck couldn’t be good.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Writer's Week #50: It's a Wrap

This week was both satisfying and frustrating. It was satisfying because production has finally wrapped on the audio book version of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel. Narrator Jimm Singer had delivered the final chapter to me early last week, and I've been spending the time since then listening and relistening to the entire production looking for any audio typos--missed words or phrases.

Meanwhile, Jimm was conducting some quality of his own, making sure the audio quality was consistent throughout, and that the chapter headings and the spacing at the end of each chapter was consistent with ACX's guidelines. Jimm even went so far as to rerecord some parts of both the beginning and the end of the book that he was not satisfied with, even though they sounded fine to me. He was right--the end result was even better!

In the end, I think the extra time we took on the book will be well worth it. I can't stress Jimm's professionalism and talent enough. He was a pleasure to work with, and I recommend him to any of you out there who have a book and are looking for someone to bring it to life as an audio book--especially if you have a lot of different characters. I'm looking forward to working with him on the audio version of The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion when the book is published.

Now, the book is in ACX's hands. It will take two to three weeks for them to do a final quality control check, process it, and release it on, Amazon, and iTunes. I'll be sure to let you all know when it's out.

Meanwhile, my test readers are looking over the next book, The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion. I've already received some valuable feedback, and am looking forward to more by the end of the month. After that, I'll make whatever changes are in order and then send it over to Ana Vogel to be laid out.

Ana's son, Daniel, is working on the cover, the map and one or two other illustrations as we speak. I'm hoping he'll get the cover squared away while he's on Christmas break. Right now, I'm still on track for a March release date, but we'll have to see. Ana's pregnant and due in February, so that might have an impact on when the book is ready to go.

After kicking some ideas back and forth, and writing a notebook full of notes, I believe I am almost ready to start writing the third book. I really like the idea. Eric, Stig, Kate and Hallo are sent on an Assignment in an island world, called the Dragon Islands. They have to help get things back on track there, and they're also alerted to a problem in the Hallway of Worlds which is hinted at in the second book.

The working title for the third book is The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang. It's funny that it took me almost a year to come up with the title of the second book, but that the title for the third came upon me soon after I had the idea for the book. Anyway, I plan to start writing next week. I don't know if I'll get 2,000 words in next week with Christmas and all, but that will be my weekly goal going forward.

While we're on the subject, and since I'm not planning to post again until the 26th, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and/or happy holiday. My you be blessed with peace and joy both now and in the coming year. Count your blessings, and take time to tell those in your life that you love them. God bless, and I'll let you know how things are coming along next week!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Did You Know? A Christmas Carol

Earlier this week we spoke with Ebenezer Scrooge. I thought it might be fun to see what kind of interesting facts I could dig up about A Christmas Carol and its author, Charles Dickens. Check out these facts:

Did you know...

  • Dickens published the book at his own expense? High production costs made for disappointing profits in the first year of its release, although it sold well.
  • The book has been made into a film at least 28 times?
  • Dickens conducted public readings of the book? From 1853 until 1870 he read it 127 times.
  • Before Carol's publication, Christmas was generally a more somber and serious occasion?
  • Charles Dickens worked in a factory as a child while his father was in debtor's prison?
  • He published most of his novels in weekly installments? This gave him a chance to judge the public's reaction and make changes to the story.
  • Dickens worked as a reporter for four years, covering legal proceedings?
  • Dickens wrote 15 novels and hundreds of short stories? He was generally thought to be the greatest writer of his day.
  • He frequently incorporated autobiographical elements in his novels?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's Christian Reading? The Fellowship of the Ring

A couple of weeks ago, Christian finally took my advice and started reading The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. In today's post, Christian gives us his thoughts on the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring. This was a tough book for him to tackle, but he did a great job and enjoyed it, I think. Let's see.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"The book is about a hobbit named Frodo who is gifted with a magic ring that when you put it on you turn invisible. But the servants of Mordor can sense your presence and see you. He and his hobbit friends set off to Rivendell and to Buckland, another hobbit town. Rivendell is a pace of safe haven. The Elven leader Elrond calls a council and forms the fellowship of Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf, the men Aragorn and Boromir and Gandalf the wizard. From Rivendell they depart on their quest.

"Frodo has to take the ring to Mount Doom in the heart of Mordor while facing off things like Ringwraiths and orcs. The fellowship has some amazing adventures and some bad problems, but I won't tell you about them, I'll let you read about it for yourself."

What did Christian like best about the book?

"My favorite part was when Bilbo disappeared during his 111st birthday party, because it offered a good laugh by the way the other hobbits reacted."

Was there anything that Christian did not like about the book?

"I liked everything in this book except for the part when Boromir attacked Frodo."

So, how did Christian rate The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien?

He gave it five out of five flaming monkey heads.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Ebenezer Scrooge

Okay, it's time to get back to some semblance of normalcy; both with this blog, which I sorely neglected last week, and with life in general. So, since Christmas is next week, and I don't intend to post on Christmas Eve, I was delighted when today's guest consented to be interviewed. Tonight, we'll be talking to that old humbug himself, Ebenezer Scrooge.

So, let's see what the old miser has to say.

Greg:  Welcome, Mr. Scrooge. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Scrooge:  What? Oh, er, um, yes...why yes, it is getting to be that time of year! Why Merry Christmas to you my good fellow, and to your family as well.

Greg:  Umm, thank you. Excuse me for asking, but are you feeling all right?

Scrooge:  Never felt better in my life. Fit as a fiddle I am my boy. Why do you ask? 

Greg:  Well, it's just that I didn't expect to get that kind of answer from you. To be honest, I thought you'd get mad, and say something like--

Scrooge:  What? You mean like bah, humbug? No, now don't protest. I know that is what you were driving at. You're an intelligent young man I see. Yes, that was the old Ebenezer Scrooge. I was quite the wet blanket in the old days. I suppose people thought me quite disagreeable--a regular miser. But that all changed a few years back.

Greg:  You don't say. What happened?

Scrooge:  Well I'll tell you my boy, although I doubt you'll believe me. I had an epiphany of sorts. I received a healthy dose of Christmas spirit--three spirits in fact.

Greg:  I don't quite follow you.

Scrooge:  I didn't either, at first. It started one Christmas Eve when I was visited by my old partner, Jacob Marley.

Greg:  How nice, a visit from an old friend.

Scrooge:  Maybe, but in this case Marley had been dead for seven years, so it was quite a shock. To tell you the truth, I never liked him much when he was alive. He was even worse as a ghost. He kept yammering on and on about wasting his time being concerned with accumulating wealth. And then he'd rattle those chains that he'd forged in life. It set my teeth on edge.

To top it all off, he said that I was in danger of sharing his fate, and that I'd better shape up. He told me that I'd be visited by three more ghosts before the night was through. He got my attention with that one--but not for long. I figured I had a touch of indigestion. I burped, and he disappeared, so I quickly forgot about it and went to bed. 

Greg:  I'm guessing that's not the end of the story, though.

Scrooge:  You're right about that. First, the Ghost of Christmas Past took me on a walk down memory lane. That's a very painful road for me, I've got to tell you. Lots of trouble and angst. But there were also some good times, too--things I'd almost forgotten.

The next ghost to pay me a visit was the Ghost of Christmas Present, a thoroughly unpleasant specter  All he did was show me images of my impertinent relations who apparently spend all their time mocking me.I also paid a visit to the family of my lazy clerk, Bob Cratchit. They were very poor--I never realized just how poor they were. His little boy Tiny Tim was such a callow sickly lad. It about broke my heart. And yes, before you say it, I do have a heart.

The third ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, was the most horrifying spirit of all. The visions he showed me were terrible. First, Tiny Tim died, then, I died. I found that nobody really cared for me. In fact, they all despised me. Well, I thought, why would they feel like that? It made me think in spite of myself. The thing that really moved me, though, was that Tiny Tim had died. Such a happy, high spirited lad. There is nothing worse than a suffering child, I don't think.

Greg:  You're right there. So, what was the cause of your change of heart?

Scrooge:  Well, I'd like to say that it was the thought of what would happen to poor Tiny Tim, but if I were truly honest, I would have to say that it was the sight of my own grave. Of course, I knew that in order to avoid that grim apparition, I'd have to change my ways. I was thankful that the way for me to do that was to save Tiny Tim.

Greg:  Tiny Tim got better?

Scrooge:  I am happy to say he did. I made sure he received the best medical care, and I made sure there was always plenty to eat on the Cratchit table. In my life I have accomplished many things and made a mountain of money, but the recovery of Tiny Tim has been my greatest achievement. And, while I may have saved him, I owe him my life, because he just as surely saved me.

Greg:  Well, thank you very much for an unexpectedly enjoyable chat. I hope you have a very merry Christmas.

Scrooge:  And you as well. Keep the Christmas spirit in your heart the whole year 'round, and no chains will be able to contain it. You will soar with angels.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Writer's Week #49: No Words

Good evening everyone. I'm sorry that I've been away for a few days. I knew this week would be crazy before it began. I was out of town on business from Wednesday through Friday, so I knew I would not be posting as much as I usually do. I was planning to do my regular post Friday night when I returned home. But that all changed Friday at lunch.

I was sitting in a restaurant in New York City when one of the people I was with told me that a gunman had opened fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, just a few miles up the road from my town.

Lots of thoughts went through my head, but I squelched those and finished up the class that I was taking in a little bit of a daze. Then, I rushed home--subway, then train, then car. My family was at their bowling league when I got home, but soon after they came home and I was hugging them tight.

Needless to say, I could not bring myself to yammer on about my little projects with so much anguish going on in my own back yard. I still can't. Like so many others in Newtown, my town, the state, and the country, I am still trying to come to grips with this unspeakable tragedy, trying to find the words. Ironic, huh? A writer can't find the words.

Well, as time goes on, maybe I will. Right now, all I can do is pray, hold my family tight, and send out my best thoughts and wishes to those who won't be able to hold their loved ones tight ever again.

As more details come out and I hear tales of the heroism of teachers who gave themselves up to protect their students and those who kept their students calm and quiet, so that Evil passed them by, I can only shake my head in admiration. Would any of us be capable of such bravery? Hopefully we'll never have to find out. But I also hope that we can all learn from their example.

Life is precious, don't take it for granted. Your family is precious, don't take it for granted. Friends, loved ones, all are precious, don't take them for granted. Strangers, too, are precious, don't take them for granted. Remember, strangers are just friends you haven't met yet. We all need to take care of each other.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What's Elizabeth Reading? Shimmer

Hello everyone. My apologies for not posting yesterday. This week, my schedule is all over the place, so posting will be a little ragged and sparse. I promise to make it up to you next week, though. I've got some great stuff planned.

I am going out of town tomorrow for three days. I'm going to the big city, NYC for a training program for work. Because of that, I'm posting this week's book from the Reading Crew today instead of tomorrow. This week, Elizabeth is reading Shimmer, the next book in Alyson Noel's wonderful series. Let's see what she had to say about it.

Here's what Elizabeth says the book is about.

"I will do an overview of the majority of the story, then you can read it to find out what happens and to get more of the details. This book is the second in the series, so make sure you read Radiance by Alyson Noel first.

"In the beginning of the story, we find Riley and Bohdi on vacation on a tropical island because of what they accomplished in the previous book. Riley sees a large black dog which is supposed to be an omen of death. Seeing as she has been dead for just over a year at this point, she is determined to convince this dog to cross over into the Here and Now, or afterlife.

"As she tracks the dog into the mist with Bohdi and her semi-loyal companion/golden retriever Buttercup trailing reluctantly behind her, she bumps into a girl by the name of Rebecca. She has brown hair and a beautiful dress with satin and bows. It turns out Rebecca was killed in a slave revolt back in 1733. She holds onto her anger and traps the people that died with her in their worst memories within her little world that flesh and blood humans cannot see.

"Now with the help of Bohdi, Buttercup, and a new acquaintance, she has to free all of the souls from their worst memories and convince Rebecca to let go of her anger, and convince them all to cross over to the Here and Now.

"Join Riley as she faces her own worst memories in her attempt to save her friends. I liked this book alot, and it kept me up reading all night because it was so suspenseful. There is nothing I did not like. I gave it five out of five blue dragons."

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Writer's Week #48: The Plot Thickens

This was not a week for those who lack patience, such as myself. I've said in the past that patience is not my strong suit. I think that over this last year, I've learned to be a little more patient, though. However, this week I found myself being tested on three fronts.

First off, I've been anxious to begin writing The Deliverers 3. I've been mapping out the plot for the book over the past couple of weeks, and I'm happy to report that it's starting to come together. But it's not coming together fast enough to suit me, of course. I must say that I really like what I've come up with so far, it's just that I have to come up with the rest of it. Oh well, once I do, then I'll be able to start writing. I hope it comes quickly.

Early cover sketch for Order of the Crystal Lion
Secondly, I've sent The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion out to some test readers, both adults and youngsters. I've already received some very enthusiastic feedback, which is encouraging. I still think there is some editing left to do. My test readers should give me an idea of just how much.

Daniel Vogel continues to work on the artwork. It is coming along--slowly. Great art cannot be rushed, I know, but I'm really getting excited to see how the cover turns out. See? Impatient as usual.

I really can't wait for this book to be ready. I think it's as good as Sharky and the Jewel, and maybe, just maybe, better. Oh well, I'll have a better idea of that after the test readers get through with it.

Audio book cover
Last but not least, the audio book version of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel is nearing completion. In fact, narrator Jimm Singer has finished the final three chapters. I received Chapter 27 yesterday. He is now tweaking some things that he is not satisfied with. Once that's done, hopefully by the end of the weekend, I'll give the book a final listen, approve it, and submit it to ACX. From there, it takes about two weeks for them to release it on and iTunes. That means it will be available by the end of the year, but probably not before Christmas.

The book is a couple minutes shy of five hours long. I'm really looking forward (as I think I've said about 100 times before) to its release. Jimm is just so great with the narrative and all the voices. As I sit and listen to him read the book, I find myself thinking, "Wow, did I write that?" It sounds so good. You are all going to love it, I promise.

So, I've got three projects going on. Two are starting to wind down (hurry!) and one is just cranking up. I've really enjoyed sharing the journey with you thus far, and I look forward to sharing what is yet to come!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's Abigail Reading? In Business With Mallory

Abigail has been reading quite a few books this past week. When I asked her which book she wanted to talk about, she gave me a couple of titles before deciding on In Business With Mallory, by Laurie Friedman. Let's find out what this book is about.

Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

"It is about a girl named Mallory. She and her best friend, Mary Anne watch a show called Fashion Fran. Fran shows them the perfect purse and then Mallory and Mary Anne think it's a great idea to get it. 

"Mary Anne gets the purse because her mom lets her, but Mallory's parents don't because it costs too much. Mallory doesn't get the purse, so she has to go into business so that she can get money to get the purse, too. 

"She starts selling joke books, but that doesn't work out. Her second idea is to start a beauty salon. That works. Then she gets the money and they go to the mall to buy the purse.

"She has to decide what to get--the perfect purse or a birthday present for her brother Max. That was a hard decision for her. I won't tell you how the book ends. You'll have to read it for yourself."

What did Abigail like best about the book?

"I liked when they had the salon, because I like getting makeup put on, too!"

Was there anything that Abigail did not like about the book?

"I didn't like the part when Mallory's parents did not let her get the purse, so she had to earn the money herself."

So, how did Abigail rate In Business With Mallory, by Laurie Friedman?

She gave it five out of five dolphins.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Wendy Darling

Hi all. I'm sorry I was not able to post this interview on Monday. I never like to be late to the party, but there was a lot going on yesterday, and I did not plan very well for that, unfortunately. Anyhow, this week's interview is with Peter Pan's friend, Wendy Darling.

Greg:  Welcome Wendy. It's so nice to have you here.

Wendy:  Why thank you, it's my pleasure I'm sure. My what a charming place you have. So much nicer than Captain Hook's pirate ship.It's just a little messy is all.

Greg:  Well, I should hope it's nicer than a pirate ship. Hey, you don't have to pick anything else. I was going to do it, really I was.

Wendy:  Oh it's no bother. I rather like it. I was always cleaning up after Peter and the Lost Boys and my brothers.

Greg:  Oh yes, Peter Pan. So those stories were true? Did you really visit Neverland with him and have fantastic adventures?

Wendy:  Why yes indeed. Peter brought John and Michael and I to Neverland. They needed a mother you see to tell them stories and darn their socks and clean up after them.

Greg:  To be honest, I don't think that sounds all that thrilling for you.

Wendy:  Oh but it was. You see, in between all of that, we had the most marvelous adventures with the indians and the Lost Boys. Then there was the fun we had flying around and pulling tricks on Captain Hook and the pirates. We had such fun.

Greg:  That sounds more like it. What about your relationship with Peter? He's an interesting chap, is he not?

Wendy:  Why yes, but quite strange. He'll never grow up. I wanted to give him a kiss, but he gave me a thimble instead. I offered him my mother, but he wanted to go back to Neverland. He's always been very sweet, and he always will be. 

Greg:  So there's no truth to the rumor about a rivalry between you and Tinkerbell for Peter's affections?

Wendy:  I should say not. Of course I can't speak for Tinkerbell, but I have always held her in the highest regard. We both care for Peter. For my part my affection is more friendly, um, much as one would regard a brother. Now Tinkerbell may have an entirely different view of the matter, but you would have to ask her about that.

Greg:  Fair enough. What would you say was your favorite part of Neverland?

Wendy:  Flying with Peter. It is such fun to fly through the air free as a bird, thinking happy thoughts. To see Neverland from the air is something that everyone should experience at least once.

Greg:  Do you ever see much of Peter these days?

Wendy:  Well, I'm old now, and my children have all grown. But Peter still comes to see me every spring to ask me to help with his spring cleaning. Deep down I would love to go, but of course I am much too old now. I don't have quite as many happy thoughts as I did when I was young. Mind you, I am not awash in gloomy thoughts, it's just that I am not a child anymore and I lack the innocence I once had.

Greg:  I know what you mean. Gone are the days when I would take a stick and pretend it was a sword and have all sorts of adventures. Oh well, at least we can remember, can't we? Thank you so much for spending some time with us.

Wendy:  It was my pleasure. If I were you, I would find a stick and have an adventure. You're never too old. As for me, I believe that if Peter comes next spring I shall go with him. I want to soar again.

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Writer's Week #47: The Kindness of Strangers

Well, it's been yet another busy week here at The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters. So many things have been going on, where to start? I attended another show this week--Ladies Day Out in Danbury, CT. It was a great success for all involved. My wife and children helped me out by gift wrapping copies of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel. We had a great time and it was fun hanging out with the other vendors. 

The biggest thrill of the day, however, did not result from the sale of any books. I've mentioned before that I am donating 50 cents of each online purchase and $1.00 of each in person purchase of The Deliverers until the end of the year to the Salvation Army. At the show we were gift wrapping books and asking for a donation to the Salvation Army. A woman walked up to our table, and started writing out a check. Then, she dropped it into our tip jar. When we got home and opened the jar, we found she'd written a check for $50 to the Salvation Army. So, than you so much Janice Lelsey Moore for your generous donation! All in all, I've collected $94.50 for the Salvation Army. Please help support the cause by buying The Deliverers for the children in your lives. It's a great book that they will love.

All right, enough with the sales pitch. The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion is shaping up. I've spent the last week making some tweaks. It's mostly ready. There are still a couple things I found that I need to fix. I've sent advance copies of the manuscript out to a few children and adults for a test read. I hope they like it. 

I also was able to reach an agreement with Mother Goose Toys in Litchfield, CT to stock copies of The Deliverers. Thank you Susan, Stephanie and I had a great time visiting with you. So, now there are three spots in Connecticut where you can pick up a copy of the book: Mother Goose Toys in Litchfield; The Barn Gallery in New Fairfield; and Byrd's Books in Bethel. I think I'm going to concentrate on increasing the number of stores stocking my books in the coming year. It's an aspect that I've neglected up to now.

Artist Daniel Vogel sent me a mock up of the cover for The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion yesterday. It's looking really good. We had to work out the background and the overall color. I think we figured it out, I just have to see how it actually looks before I'm sure. I hope to be able to unveil the cover sometime before Christmas. Exciting stuff!

The audio book version of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel is nearing completion. My hope is that it will be available in the middle of December. It really sounds terrific. I used my Kindle Fire to play a bunch of videos at the show including the book trailer, my YouTube interviews, and two sample chapters from the audio book. I received a lot of great feedback on the audio chapters. I'll let you know the minute it's available.

I also got a lot of work done on the plot outline for The Deliverers 3. I had hoped to begin writing, but there are still some plot points that I nneed to get settled before I begin. It won't be too much longer, though--either next week or the week after. I'll let you know how things are going next week.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What's Elizabeth Reading? Radiance

Young reader Elizabeth has been reading a series by Alyson Noel. Today, she'll be talking about the first book, Radiance. Let's see what she has to say about it.

Here's what Elizabeth says the book is about.

"In this summary I am going to tell the basic gist of the entire story, but if you read this story you will love it and get it in even more detail! This is the first book in the series by Alyson Noel. She is an amazing writer and I love all of her books.

"In this particular book, a girl named Riley just died, and she went on to an afterlife in a place called the Here and Now. She is brought before the council of angel-like beings and they show her a summary of her life. She realizes she spent the entire time trying to be just like her sister.

"After that, the council decides that she should be a soul catcher because of her deep attachment to the Earth Plane. A soul catcher goes back to Earth to try to convince lost and lonely souls to cross over the bridge into the Here and Now.

"So Riley and her guide/teacher, Bohdi, go back to a castle just outside of London to convince two souls to cross over. One is scaring the living daylights out of people--his name is Radiant Boy. The other stands up in a tower mourning her three lost sons day and night. Many dangers await them, and then they must be judged by the council..."

Here's what Elizabeth liked best about the book.

"I liked how the author made the story flow, and also how the story seems as if it could happen to any one of us."

Was there anything that Elizabeth didn't like?

"I didn't like when Alyson Noel just made it so that her family members basically abandoned her so that they could fulfill their dreams that they couldn't fulfill on the Earth Plane."

So, how does Elizabeth rate Radiance, by Alyson Noel?

Elizabeth gives it five out of five blue dragons.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Did You Know? Charlotte's Web

After yesterday's interview with Charlotte, I thought it would be a good idea to see what interesting facts I could dig up about Charlotte's Web and it's author, E.B. White. Let's see what I found out.

Did You Know...
  • Publishers Weekly named Charlotte's Web the best selling children's book of all time?
  • Charlotte's full name, Charlotte A. Cavatica, was based on the scientific name for a barn spider, Araneus cavaticus?
  • Illustrator Garth Williams originally drew Charlotte with a ladies head, but E.B. White wanted her drawn as a regular spider?
  • The book originally started in the barnyard, but White added the what became the opening scenes with Fern and her family?
  • White's Maine farmhouse and barn were the inspiration for the book? His will stipulated that it remain off limits to the public to preserve the property.
  • The E.B. stands for Elwyn Brooks?
  • He wound up marrying the editor that hired him for The New Yorker magazine, Katharine Angell?
  • He updated and edited The Elements of Style? Today, it's known as Strunk & White's Elements of Style, the most commonly used grammar and usage guide.
  • White won an honorary Pulitzer Prize for his writing, including Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and Trumpet of the Swan?
Here's the trailer from the animated version of Charlotte's Web. I love Templeton. Paul Lynde was great: