Friday, March 30, 2012

A Writer's Week #13: The Middle of the Marathon

This was a fantastic week! It had the best of all possible things; a busy, productive work week, fun with the family, a decent amount of writing, a satisfying marketing accomplishment, and even a few book sales.

The writing came pretty easily this week. I wrote about 1,500 words, and I would have written more, but I started a project that took up some time. I'm at the point in the book where I'm just keeping at it, plugging away. I'm having fun writing, but at this point it's like a marathon where the exhileration of the start has given way to marking the miles as they go by. Sometimes I feel pretty good, like the guy on the right in the picture above. At other times, I'm feeling kind of flat, like the flapjack next to him (yes, that's a flapjack--it said so in the caption). I'm working on delivering (no pun intended) a great story, while gearing up for a strong finish. We'll see how everything turns out.

I was able to write and produce my own video book trailer this week. It turned out very nicely, and I'm like a new parent right now, full of pride and optimism. I've posted it everywhere I can think of, including at the bottom of my blog, and in yesterday's post. Here's a link to it on YouTube. Please share it everywhere you can, and let me know what you think.

This week was also great because it marked the seventh anniversary of Gotcha Day, the day we picked up Abigail in China. We celebrate it every year. I wrote a post about adopting Abby a while back. Every day, we can't believe how incredibly blessed we are for having Abby and her big brother Christian.

So, as you can see, it was a truly spectacular week, but now it's back to the marathon. I can't wait to find out what's around the next bend.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Book Trailer Released

It's been a busy week. Work has been a scramble, with late nights and early mornings, but it's all turned out well, so I'm happy. On Tuesday, one of my coworkers showed me a video of one of our corporate events on his iPad. It was done in a movie trailer format, and looked really sharp.

My brain immediately began working, and I thought, wouldn't it be great to make my own book trailer. I don't have any fancy Mac equipment, but I thought maybe Windows had some software. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had Windows Movie Maker already on my computer! Just goes to show how much of a techie babe in the woods I am.

I spent Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning looking for decent, public domain royalty free video to use, and writing the script. On Wednesday, I talked Christian into acting like Eric peering into the drainpipe under our driveway, but it was partuially blocked with logs, and I didn't get a good shot. It didn't matter anyway, as I later found that I had been holding my iPod Nano the wrong way and the footage was upside down!

It was then that I decided to scrap the video and go with stills. But how could I make an exciting video without video? The program features a bunch of different efffects. I played around with a number of different ones for each shot until I was satisfied.

Once that was done, I had to add music. There's a very talented composer who has scads of short compositions of varying genres that you can use for free as long as you credit him. His name is Kevin MacLeod. Here's a link to his site. After a number of tries, I found the right piece and, voila! First class book trailer. CreateSpace can do a minute long trailer for you for $2000, so I'm that much ahead. Not a bad job if I do say so myself.

So, here's the trailer. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What's Christian Reading? The Phantom Tollbooth

Last week, Christian told me that he's tired of reading chapter books. So, I took him to a bookstore, and I told him that he could pick out any book under $10, hoping to get him hooked on a new series that he could continue reading by checking books out of the library.

Of course, he couldn't find anything. Everything I suggested was met by snorts of "No" or "Boring." Mind you, these weren't any random books, these were titles like Fablehaven, Gregor the Overlander, and the Pendragon series. Nothing sparked his interest.

It was at that point that I decided I was trying too hard. We went home and did some stuff. Later on, I casually mentioned that since he was bored, maybe he should read a book about another boy who was bored. I handed him my ancient copy of The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster.

He took it doubtfully and looked it over. Then he opened it annd read a page. "Well, maybe I can read a chapter," he said. By the end of the next day, he'd finished it. Now he's off and running again, reading some books he got from the library book sale this past weekend. Thank goodness for the classics.

Here's what Christian says The Phantom Tollbooth is about.

"It is about a boy named Milo who has nothing to do and gets a tollbooth and a toy car mailed to him. When he drives into the tollbooth it transports him to another world. He meets the watchdog, Tock. Tock has a big clock in his side. He and Tock have to rescue the two princesses, Rhyme and Reason. He makes it to a city, Dictionopolis, and meets the king.

"Milo then is given the mission to find Rhyme and Reason. He goes to Digitopolis and meets a second king who also asks him to rescue the princesses. There is a war between letters and numbers. Rescuing the princesses will help end it.

"Then, he goes through the land of the demons. They live in the Mountains of Ignorance. It's not a nice place. He also has to jump to the Island of Conclusions. I thought that was funny."

Here's what Christian liked best about the book.

"I liked when he met Tock. Tock  wound up being a good friend to Milo. Milo didn't have any friends before Tock. That's why I like that part so much."

Was there anything that you didn't like?

"There wasn't anything that I didn't like. It was a really great book."

So, how did Christian rate The Phantom Tollbooth?

He gives it 5 out of 5 flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Did You Know? The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

As a follow up to yesterday's interview with Dorothy Gale, we're presenting some interesting facts about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and author L. Frank Baum. Let's see what our crack team of scholars (?!) was able to dig up.

Did You Know...
  • A play based on the book was produced to publicize it soon after it was released?
  • The book's illustrator, W.W. Denslow, was a friend of L. Frank Baum, and co-held the copyright?
  • Baum credited the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen as his inspiration?
  • Baum claimed that the name Oz came from his file cabinet labeled O-Z?
  • In the book, Dorothy's travels were much more extensive than in the movie? In the book, she travels through many lands, including the Fighting Trees, Hammer-Heads, and the China Country.
  • In the book, the shoes Dorothy is given are silver, not ruby?
  • When he was a child, Baum had a recurring nightmare about a scarecrow chasing him through a field? When the scarecrow had its hands around his nneck, it would fall apart.
  • Baum's father was oil baron Benjamin Ward Baum?
  • After receiving thousands of letters from children, Baum decided to write a sequel? In all, he wrote 14 books. After his death in 1919, his publishers released an Oz book every Christmas until 1942.
  • Ruth Plumly Thompson.wrote 21 Oz stories for Baum's publishers after his death?

Hey, those were some interesting facts. Thanks to Wikipedia for providing them! Here are some songs from the beloved 1939 movie version that always makes me smile. I just love the wordplay in this movie and its music!



Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Dorothy Gale

I'm pleased to announce that a special guest is visiting us this week at The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters. She just blew in all the way from Kansas, Miss Dorothy Gale!

Greg:  Welcome, Dorothy. Thanks for taking some time with us.

Dorothy:  Thank you very much for having me, I'm sure. You sure do have a lot of trees around here.

Greg:  Don't you have very many in Kansas?

Dorothy:  Oh no. It's all flat and kind of dusty and gray in Kansas, at least the part where I'm from. There aren't hardly any trees at all. And the twisters, my Aunt Em is always afraid of being caught in one. She always runs lickety split to the storm cellar whenever there's the faintest hint of a breeze, much less a twister. "Better safe than sorry, I always say," she always says.

Greg:  Yes, a wise woman, no doubt. If I remember correctly, it was being caught in a twister that started you on your adventure.

Dorothy:  Why, yes, yes it was. It's almost like you could read my mind, just like that Professor Marvel. Oh, he was a wise and wonderful man--he could see into the future. He didn't tell me that I'd be caught in a storm and taken to Munchkin Land. But then, I don't suppose that anyone in their right mind would have predicted that.

Greg:  No, I don't suppose they would. How did you get to Munchkin Land?

Dorothy:  By twister. Toto, that's my dog, and I were trying to get into the storm cellar, but Aunt Em and Uncle Henry had locked themselves in, so I took Toto into the house. That twister lifted us clear up and out of Kansas and into Munchkin Land. I guess that I was the first person to travel by twister who lived to tell the tale.

Greg:  What was Munchkin Land like?

Dorothy:  Oh is was beautiful. The Munchkins were very pleased to see me, mainly because my house had landed on the Wicked Witch of the East. The munchkins were happy, but the witch's sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, was pretty upset. I was very sorry. All I wanted to do was to get home, but she didn't listen to me. She just wanted her old ruby slippers, which her sister had, but which wound up on my feet somehow.

The Munchkins said that maybe the Wizard of Oz, a great and powerful wizard, might be able to send me home, so they had me follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. I would have preferred to take a train instead of walking, but they didn't seem to have any such things, so I decided, when in Rome!

Greg:  So you were on your way. Did you make any friends on your way to Oz?

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Writer's Week #12: A Hectic Week

This was a challenging week at work. There was a lot of stuff going on. We were prepariing for the beginning of a four month training initiative for a new system that will affect a large portion of the company. Things have been getting down to the wire the last few days, with some last minute changes making for some late nights. Thank goodness I'm part of a great team that works well together. Everyone pitches in, which is a blessing.

In spite of that, I still managed to have a decent writing week. I wrote a little over 1,500 words. I was also able to map out much of the remaining plot line for the new book, tying together a lot of loose ends. I still haven't been able to weave together all the thematic threads, but I think I can see where there will be opportunities to do so. I'll have to leave the actual doing up to the characters. It will be fun to watch the story as it unfolds!

On the marketing side, my efforts to promote The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel have been somewhat successful. I launched a promotion, the Spring Has Sprung Giveaway. By the way, you still have time to enter by becoming a follower of this blog and/or liking the book's Facebook page. The prize is a $25 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of my book.

I also reconnected with a mentor, Louise Ladd. She's a children's book writer with a couple of series (The Double Diamond Dude Ranch Series and The Anywhere Ring Series)  to her credit. She also is a freelance editor, aka The Book Doctor. She had been very helpful to me when I first started The Deliverers. She encouraged me to pare down my first three original chapters into one, which really made the beginning tighter and faster paced. Anyway, I'm sending her the book and she's going to look it over and give me some quotes to use for promotion. It's the first small step for me to use testimonials to promote the book. Wish me luck.

I had a decent sales week this week, so I'm back in the saddle on that score. It's funny, but when I have a bad sales period, it makes me more aggressive trying to drum up sales. Wish I could be so outgoing all the time. But hey, I'm a writer. I'm a better observer than talker.

Anyway, I'm energized to have a really great writing week. We'll see how well that works out. I'll talk with you again next week!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Favorite Books: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Last week, I introduced this column, and I have to admit that I didn't think it through as well as I wanted. This week, I'm writing about a book that really introduced me to the whole fantasy genre, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Why is this one of my favorite books?

As I said above, this is the book that really introduced me to the fantasy genre. I've told the story before about how my mother would read us all a chapter of LWW every day at the dinner table. I was about 12 or 13, and it just sparked something in me. I think it was the idea that you could just walk through something ordinary, like a wardrobe, and enter into another world. That was something that caught my imagination.

What I didn't know when I first read it.

I had no idea when I first read any of  The Chronicles of Narnia that C.S. Lewis was anthing other than a darn fine fantasy author. I had never heard of any of his philosophical or spiritual works. I am embarassed to admit that I still haven't read much of his other writing.

I also had no idea  that the chronicles were allegorical. Now when I read them, I can see a lot of the hidden meaning. I think it's kind of cool that Lewis was able to convey a lot of the themes of Christianity in a series of books that are such good reads.

When I was writing The Deliverers, I had a hard time trying to get across the theme of Eric struggling with his father's death and his feelings of guilt. It was only after I stopped trying so hard that the message was able to come through naturally. Go figure.

I also didn't know that C.S. Lewis anf J.R.R. Tolkien were good friends, and that they were part of a writing group called The Inklings. This group of Oxford professors would gather to listen to each other read whatever they were writing at the time, and offer critiques. Believe it or not, I had no idea who Tolkien was. I would a short time later!

Why I would recommend this book to others.

I would recommend this book because of it's simplicity. There aren't a lot of wasted words in this book. It's very simple and direct, just a good story without a lot of window dressing. This book allows you to paint the pictures in your mind. I love that. There's nothing like imagination for making a book come alive.

Also, who wouldn't like to go to another world, and become a king or queen? Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan liberated an entire country, just by being who they are, and remembering who they are. What a great message!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What's Christian Reading? Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great

Christian is an avid 4th grade reader. This post is about what he's reading. This is by no means an actual review, just his comments on whatever book he's reading at the time.

 This week, Christian's reading a classic, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, by Judy Blume. Let's see what he thought about it.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"The book is about a girl named Sheila. She goes to Tarrytown where Washington Irving supposedly saw the Headless Horseman. She meets a girl named Mouse (that's not her real name, but she likes to be called that). Sheila throws a slumber party for her other friends from Tarrytown, Sondra and Jane.and Mouse. Sheila's sister, Libby, invites someone called Maryanne for their own slumber party.

"Since Sheila and her family are renting the house, she's living in a boy's room. The boy's name is Billy Ergan. They're having the party in Billy's room. They make a slam book, which is a nice way of telling people what they like and don't like about someone. They all get mad at each other from the stuff that they wrote.

"Billy is a model freak, and there's tons of models all around his room. When the girls get mad, they start throwing the models at each other. In the end, they wind up having a really good time."

Here's what Christian liked about the book.

"I like the slumber party, which is the main reason why my description is mostly about it. I liked it when they started throwing the models at each other. I bet Billy would get really mad when his family comes home."

Was there anything you didn't like?

"I didn't really like how Sheila was afraid of dogs, because a person shouldn't really be afraid of dogs. That's my opinion."

So, how does Christian rate Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, by Judy Blume?

Christian gives it 3 1/2 out of 5 flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Did You Know? Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe was published in April of 1719, and it's the oldest work that we've covered here, so far. SO, what kind of facts could we dig up from a book that's so old? Let's find out.

Did You Know?
  • The book is thought to be taken in part from the true story of Alexander Selkirk? Selkirk was a castaway who spent four years on a deserted island in the Pacific, close to Chile.
  • The topography of the island Crusoe was stranded on was most likely based on Tobago, which is a little north of Venezuela?
  • Robinson Crusoe is believed to be the first major literary work not based on myth, legend, history, or previous literature?
  • The book's actual title is The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an un‐inhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pirates? No wonder it's just called Robinson Crusoe these days!
  • The original was followed by a sequel, The Farther Life of Robinson Crusoe, and a collection of moral essays?
  • Daniel Defoe's origninal name was Daniel Foe?
  • Defoe wrote over 500 books, pamphlets, and journals on topics including crime, religion, politics, and the supernatural?
  • Daniel Defoe used 198 pen names over the course of his life?
  • He was arrested several times throughout his life, both as a political dissident, and as a debtor?
  • Defoe once acted as a secret agent for King William III?

Here's a Mr. Magoo cartoon that gives you the real scoop on Robinson Crusoe.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Has Sprung Giveaway

Here at The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters, the weather has been unseasonably warm. Even though the weather's been good, that doesn't mean that I'm not looking forward to the beginning of Spring this week. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good time for a little giveaway.

The Spring Has Sprung Giveaway

Those who enter will be eligible to win a prize pack that includes:

A signed copy of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel
A $25 Amazon Gift Card

The giveaway will run from March 18 to March 31, so make sure you enter to be a part of it!

Here's what you need to do to enter to win:

1. Follow The Deliverers blog, and you'll get 2 points
2. Like The Deliverers Facebook Page, and you'll get 1 point
3. Follow The Deliverers on Twitter, and you'll get 1 point
4. Leave a comment below: What do you like best about spring?
5. Fill out the Rafflecopter entry below.

Best of luck to everyone!

If this is your first visit to The Deliverers, thanks for stopping by. Here's a rundown of our daily features:

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

Tuesday--Did You Know? This features 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 gives me a chance to dust some of them off and put them to good use.

Wednesday--What's Christian Reading? My ten 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 discusses whatever he's reading in a particular week. He tells us a little of what it's about, and what he likes--and doesn't like--about it. He gives us a rating using his very own rating system--flaming monkey heads. .

Thursday--My Favorite Books. This is where I share my thoughts on some of my all time favorite books, and why I love them.

Friday--A Writer's Week. A weekly update on what I've done on the writing front over the course of the previous week. I try to give you an insight into what goes on in my (twisted) writer's brain. It also helps to keep me on track.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Writer's Week #11: Down in the Valley

The purpose of this column is to chronicle my journey as I write my new book, and as I market my current one, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel. For the most part, that journey has been filled with highs.

On the writing front, the new book has been a joy to write. There hasn't been any of the wrong turns and retooling that marked the excruciatingly long process of writing the first book. Although I've only had a chance to really write on the weekends, I've been able to put the time I had to good use pretty consistently.

Meanwhile, on the marketing side, book sales have been consistent (check out the book here. If you've read it, please review it.), for the most part. I've been able to have a book signing, visit some classrooms, and had a few interviews. This blog is also attracting some attention, and page views have been rising steadily (please become a follower and like the book on Facebook by clicking over to the left.).

This week, however, I've felt a little like I've stumbled into a valley. Last week, I wrote that I'd reached a point in the book where I had to step back and think through where the story was headed. I was anticipating that I wouldn't get much written this week,. Secretly, though, I hoped that I'd get things mapped out quickly and get a respectable amount of writing done, too.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way. I mapped out what I need to include in the story, but I'm still not that clear on how it will all be accomplished. I decided that I'd had luck following the characters' lead, so I'd let them lead me through this patch. Well, I still believe that's the right course, but I only wrote a couple hundred words before I had to stop. I felt like I was writing a bad cartoon. So, I'm going to regroup and give it another go this weekend.

The marketing end didn't go so well this week, either. It was the first week in a while that I didn't sell a single book, either in person or through Amazon. I'm also struggling for ways to get my book reviewed and out in the public eye. I think it just comes down to asking, but I don't like to be pushy. This is something that I'll just have to get over.

To be honest, I'm going to have to look at the marketing aspect of this whole deal. I can write, but publicity aint my strong point. I'm trying to do at least one thing every month. With this in mind, stay tuned for a little promotion that I'll be announcing this weekend.

Overall, though, I've been pretty lucky. I've had a lot of support from my family, my friends, coworkers, and all of you. Thank you so much. The valleys are inevitable, but it won't be long until things are moving forward once again. I'll let you know how things are going next week.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Favorite Books: The Lord of the Rings

Today I'm launching a new feature, My Favorite Books. This may wind up being a weekly post, but don't hold me to it. In the short time that I've been writing this blog, I've mentioned a bunch of books that I like. I'll be talking a little bit about what makes these books so special to me.

I'm kicking this off with my favorite book, The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. This book has always had a special place in my heart. I read The Hobbit first when I was about 12 or so, and read LOTR immediately after. After that, I don't think any fantasy has ever measured up.

The thing I like most about the book is that it's about a group of ordinary people (okay, hobbits) that are called upon to put an end to evil and save the world. The tale is truly an epic tale of good vs. evil.

The book is so big, that you get lost in the story and the world of Middle Earth. My favorite character is probably Samwise Gamgee, the faithful friend of Frodo Baggins. I think I relate best to him. He's a common, everyday person. I admire his loyalty, and his down to earth common sense. In many ways, he's as responsible for the success of the quest as Frodo.

When I first read the book, it sparked my imagination, and I hoped that one day I'd be able to write a book as good as that. Now that I've written a book, part of that dream has been realized. I know my book isn't as good as LOTR, no book can be, but I'm proud of what i've accomplished.

Every time I read LOTR I'm transported back to the first time I read it. I love to travel back and visit the places it takes me. The great thing is, I always find something new that I hadn't noticed before. That's what makes a favorite book such a great thing.

What's your favorite book?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What's Christian Reading? Darth Paper Strikes Back

Christian is an avid 4th grade reader. This post is about what he's reading. This is by no means an actual review, just his comments on whatever book he's reading at the time.

Christian has had a busy week, and has been reading a lot of books. He only finished one, however. That book was Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger. This book is a sequel to Origami Yoda. I haven't read them, but they seem to be similar to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. That's just my general impression, let's see what Christian had to say about it.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"Tommy has this friend named Dwight, and his school is trying to send Dwight to CREF, a school for violent kids. Dwight was set up by his nemesis, Harvey. Harvey told the principal that Dwight was doing bad things.

"Dwight made an origami Yoda, that supposedly brought peace and happiness to the school. Harvey made Darth Paper, an origami figure that looked like Darth Vader and brought doom and evil to McQuarrie Middle School.

"Tommy and his friends put together a case file that proved Dwight was innocent. They intend to bring it to the school board meeting where Dwight's case will be decided. But then, Harvey made off with the case file, and tampers with it.

"You'll have to read the book to see what happens next."

Here's what Christian liked best.

"I really liked the case file. It told all the ways that Origami Yoda helped out the school. There were some funny things in there. It had things that Origami Yoda said. They were all in Yoda-speak, which was funny."

Was there anything that you didn't like?

"Yes there was. I didn't like the fact that all the teachers and the principal couldn't see that Dwight was trying to help the school get rid of its problems. The only people that saw it were the children."

So, how did Christian rate Darth Paper Strikes Back, by Tom Angleberger?

Christian thinks this book is good for ages 7 to 11. He gives it four out of five flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Did You Know? Rip Van Winkle

All right. I've caught up on my sleep (I think), so let's find out some things we didn't know about the world's all time sleeper, Rip Van Winkle.

Did You Know?
  • Rip Van Winkle was written while Washington Irving was living in Birmingham, England?
  • Although the story is set in the Catskill Mountains, Irving had never been there until after it was written?
  • Irving's inspiration for the story was a noswtalgic converstion with his brother-in-law, Henry Van Wart?
  • Irving was so inspired after the conversation that he pulled an all-nighter, and had the story written in one night?
  • Rip Van Winkle was published in 1819, a year after Irving declared bankruptcy?
  • Washington Irving was friends with Sir Walter Scott?
  • In addition to writing fiction, Irving also wrote biographies of George Washington and Muhammad?
  • Irving served as U.S. ambassador to Spain from 1842 to 1846?
  • Irving served as the executor of John Jacob Astor's estate, and was the first chairman of Astor's library? The library eventually became the New York Public Library.
  • Washington Irving is generally regarded as America's first internationally acclaimed author?
Just for fun, here's a cartoon, Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle. I guess if Abbott & Costello can meet Dracula, Popeye can meet Rip Van Winkle...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday interview Series: Rip Van Winkle

This past weekend we "sprang" forward, moving our clocks forward an hour. While this means it stays light an hour later, it's also dark in the morning when I wake up. So, when I woke up to go to the gym, I was still so sleepy that I collapsed back into bed for another 40 winks.

This gave me the idea for the subject of this week's interview. Who better than the world's deepest sleeper, Rip Van Winkle? So, let's see if we can rouse ourselves enough to chat with ol' Rip.

Greg:  Welcome, Rip Van Winkle. Thanks for taking some time to chat with us today. I know time is precious to you.

Rip:  That's right, sonny. I wasted 20 years up in the hills, don't ya know.

Greg:  Can you tell us a little bit about that? How did you come to be lost in the hills for 20 years?

Rip:  First off, I didn't come to be lost. I came to hunt. Second, I weren't lost, I was bewitched.

Greg:  Oh, yes. My mistake. How did you fall asleep for 20 years?

Rip:  Well, it were like this. I like t' take things easy like, but m' wife is always after me t' be doin' things. Plow the fields, chop the wood, wash up for supper. She gives me so much t' do that I don't know whether I'm comin' or goin' most o' the time.

Now, I think you'll agree that I were totally in the right t' go off every now and again t' ramble in the woods, or t' go off and get myself some shut eye. This time, I decided that I needed t' get away an' do some huntin'. So, I took my ol' dog, Wolf.

Greg:  Oh, so you sat down and fell asleep for a long, long time?

Rip:  No I did not, dadgum it! I fell in with some strange characters, don't ya know. I was walkin' up the mountain, an' there was a powerful loud thunder boomin' over m' head. Wolf an' I caught up with a strange feller. He was dressed all in old fashioned clothes and he was totin' a keg. I walked with him up the mountain.

Well, what do I see at the top, but a group of fellers playin' nine-pins. Every time the ball hit the pins, it made a sound like thunder, don't ya know. These fellers had long beards, an' was wearin' ol' fashioned clothes, just like the man with the keg. I hung around for a bit, watchin' their game, but after a spell, I got t' be powerful thirsty. I looked around, an' saw the keg.

The other fellers had been drinkin' from it, an' they saw me eyein' it. They give me a mug, an' I went over an' filled it, then drank it down in one go. It were powerful cold, an' refreshin'. Well, I drank down a few mugfuls, an' soon I was feelin' powerful tired. I laid m'self down under a tree, an' before I knew it, I fell fast asleep.

Greg:  Yeah, but you didn't really fall asleep for 20 years--did you?

Friday, March 9, 2012

A Writer's Week #10: A Book for All Ages

Before I get in to what happened during my writer's week, I have to mention that this is the 100th post for the blog! I don't know if this is a particularly meaningful milestone or not. It seems to be a big deal for TV shows, but then a show has to be around for four or five years to make it to that point, so that's an accomplishment.

Be that as it may, I'm still dazzled by round numbers like this, so I figured why not. The blog's been around for just under five months, so 20 posts a month is a decent average. When I started, I never thought I'd be able to write five times a week. It's been fun so far!

Okay, now that I've got that out of the way, on to what this post's really about. I received a call from a friend of ours whose daughter used to babysit for us. The daughter is grown and teaching music in a school out west (boy, how old does that make me feel?).

He heard about my book, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel, and decided to get a few copies. He stopped by to have me sign a couple of them. He's sending one to his daughter and one to some relatives. That's great, I'm glad he took a chance and ordered some books.

When he called to ask if he could stop by to get them signed, he said that he'd read the book and could not put it down. He said it was great. He said he hadn't been so engrossed by a "children's book" since Harry Potter. That made me feel real good.

Children have loved my book, but I've also heard from their parents who had read it and said they liked it. While kids have not been able to put it down, this is the first time I've heard an adult say that. I really appreciate that. I think the goal of any fiction writer is to write good stories, period. To me, a good story is one that will be enjoyed by people of all ages. To know that I've accomplished that in some small way is very gratifying.

This week was my best writing week yet. I wrote 2,500 words, and the new book is now at just under 20,000 words. I've pretty much finished setting the stage. Now the meat of the book is coming up. This is where it gets tough, because now I've got to map out the details, weave in the themes and begin to connect the dots that the characters have laid out.

I reached that point on Sunday, but didn't have any time to follow through. The rest of this week wasn't any better. So now I've got to sit down and map things out in as much detail as I can. There will be some surprises and things that don't go according to script, I'm sure. The characters will see to that. But that's what makes a story good, and the writing of it fun.

My goal for the coming week is to get that done and not worry about word count. However, if I get it mapped out quickly enough and am truly inspired, maybe I can have my cake and eat it, too. I'll let you know how it went next Friday!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What's Abigail Reading? Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel

Yesterday, Christian reviewed The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow by J. Haight & S. Robinson. Abigail asked when she would be able to do another review. She really enjoyed doing her first review a little while back, and has been asking to write another one. Since I was at a loss for a topic, I thought, why not?

Abigail is a second grader who is just discovering the joys of reading. So, what's Abigail reading this week? Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel, by Nikki Grimes.

Here's what Abigail says the book is about:

"There is a new kid in Dyamonde's class, and at lunch the new kid was grumpy and mad. His name was Free, and he kept pushing people over. Dyamonde came over and put her hand on her hip and said, 'Why do you keep pushing people over? Say you're sorry.'"

"Then a couple of days later, he learned his lesson not to push people out of his way. He was mad and grumpy because his dad lost his job, and had to find a new job, and that's why he's grumpy all the time and pushing people over."

"They sit together at lunch, and walk home together after school. They become friends."

What did you like most about the book?

"Basically, there's two parts. The first part is that I liked when she put her hand on her hip and made Free say he's sorry. I liked the way she did that. The second part is when they became friends, because he learned his lesson not to push people over. I also like that Free reads books. I also like that Dyamonde is in second grade like me."

Was there anything you didn't like?

"I didn't like when Free pushed people around, and didn't say he was sorry."

So how many puppies and kittens does Abigail give Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel, by Nikki Grimes?

Abigail gives it five out of five puppies and kittens.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's Christian Reading?; The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow

Christian is an avid 4th grade reader. This post is about what he's reading. This is by no means an actual review, just his comments on whatever book he's reading at the time.

This week, Christian is reading a very special book, The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow, by J. Haight & S. Robinson. Christian was lucky enough to obtain a copy of this wonderful book, although it is not yet available in stores. If you'd like to find out more about this great book, go to Fairday's Blog to find out all about it and to read the first few chapters.

So, without any more chatter, let's see how Christian liked the book.

Here's what Christian says The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow is about:

"The book is about a girl named Fairday Morrow who goes to live in a house that she doesn't really want to go live in, because she's moving away from her friends in Manhattan. The house is in Connecticut, and is really creepy and old.

"After they get to the house, they find a mirror. When she first sees it, she thinks she sees a pair of ruby red high heeled sneakers disappearing behind a door in the mirror. She invites her friend Lizzy over to spend the weekend. They try to solve a mystery surrounding the Begonia house, by gathering clues, like a hairbrush with a strand of hair, and a picture with writing on the back

"One day, when Fairday is babysitting her little sister Magro, Margo crawls into the mirror. Fairday pulls her out and she's holding a ruby red high heeled sneaker. This adds to the mystery of the Begonia house, and gives them another clue.

"She interviews Larry Lovell, who is an old guy who used to be a reporter and knows a lot about the house. After that, many strange things happen. I won't give it away, but it's an interesting mystery with lots of magic and suspense."

What did you like most about the book?

"It's kind of hard to say because it was all really good. I would say I really liked the part when they thought that they saw a red haired figure standing in the mirror. I also liked the pictures a lot."

Was there anything you didn't like?

"I liked it all. I hope there's a sequel because I really liked the characters, and I wonder what the next mystery will be."

So, how does Christian rate The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow by J. Haight & S. Robinson?

He gives it five out of five flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Did You Know? Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Yesterday, we got to spend some time with the delightful, but slightly perplexing Alice from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Today on Did You Know?, we've got some interesting facts about the book and it's writer, Lewis Carroll.

Did You Know?
  • That it is widely believed that Alice is based on Alice Liddell, a child friend of Lewis Carroll?
  • The book is filled with in-jokes that only Alice Liddell and her family and friends would understand?
  • Many of the characters are based on people that Carroll and the Liddells knew?
  • The story takes place on May 4th, Alice Liddell's birthday?
  • It is believed that there are many references to mathematical concepts throughout the book? Carroll was a mathematician, so this could be true. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is probably one of the most analyzed books of all time.
  • Louis Carroll's real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson?
  • Dodgson never publicly acknowledged that he was Louis Carroll? He did acknowledge it among his friends.
  • He had numerous health issues throughout his life? Dodgson had a fever that left him deaf in one ear, suffered whooping cough, had a weak chest, and stammered.
  • In addition to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, Dodgson also wrote numerous mathematical texts?
  • Dodgson first told the story to Alice Liddell on a rowing trip on July 4, 1862? Alice begged him to wrote it down, and he finally did, giving her a handwritten and illustrated manuscript in 1864, entitled Alice's Adventures Under Ground.
Here's one of my favorite parts of Disney's interpretation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.