Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Peter Rabbit

This week, we were able to sit down and talk with everyone's favorite naughty bunny, Peter Rabbit. He visited The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters with the assurance that there would be some nice, fresh vegetables available, and that Mr. McGregor had not been invited.

So, without further ado, here's our conversation with an older, wiser Peter Rabbit.

Greg:  Welcome, Peter. It's nice to have you here.

Peter:  Thank you, it's very nice to be here. Are, um, those nice cabbages for you, or can anyone have some?

Greg:  No, no, I had them brought in especially for you. Please, help yourself.

Peter:  Well, well, since you've gone to all this trouble, I believe I'll have a little nibble. Mmmm, delicious. Oh, I say, are those carrots? I must tell you that I have a weak spot for carrots. Mr. McGregor grows the best carrots in the district, but these are quite good.

Greg:  Well, don't be bashful. Tuck in. That's quite a smart looking blue coat you've got there.

Peter:  Do you like it? My mother made it. It is rather a favorite of mine, but I almost lost it for good in Mr. McGregor's garden.

Greg:  Really? What happened?

Peter:  Well, it's really all rather embarrassing when I look back on it. I was quite a bit younger then, you see. When I was a young rabbit, I had a passion for vegetables. Still do, I suppose, but back then I was positively mad for them--especially those grown by Mr. McGregor. I was so enamored of them, that I was willing to risk life and limb for a taste.

My poor father, bless him, had the same weakness. Unfortunately, he was not very lucky, even though he possessed four rabbits feet! Mr. McGregor managed to catch my father, and he wound up being baked in one of Mrs. McGregor's horrible pies. Nasty business, really. Um, where was I?

Greg:  You were telling us about your coat.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Writer's Week: What's Your Story?

Hello. It's been a lean couple of weeks, writing wise. Things have just been so busy in all the other facets of my life that I haven't been able to concentrate on writing at all. Last week, was filled with long days at work, and preparation for my Lions Club's annual dance on Friday.That went off extremely well, but there was no time to even look at the book.

This week has been a little bit better. Still long days at work, but that's it. So, I was able to begin to do some editing. I have about half the book written, but now I'm going back over what I've written so far with an eye to add some depth to this new world and to flesh out and revise the plot line. I may have to rewrite the beginning to fit in with the true theme of the book, which I stumbled upon later on in the story.

I learned something very important this week--everyone has a story to tell. I visited Mr. Regan's fourth grade class. It was great. The kids had a lot of questions, and I learned that there were quite a few writers in the class. One girl was even working on a full length book. Here are some pictures:

It was interesting to discover that their characters also seemed to have a mind of their own. They were excited to learn that other writers also have this experience of the characters sort of leading the way through a story.

I also had a great conversation this week with a legally blind octogenarian who has written a book of his own quips and quotes. This guy, Rudy, is a real character, and it was fun spending the morning with him at a Lions fishing tournament for the visually impaired. He gave me a copy of the manuscript to look over. It's really funny, and most of his observations really hit home.

Then, there was someone who I see every time I go to the Y. I told him that I'd written a book. He said that he loves to tell stories about his family history, and that his family is always after him to write them down. I told him that, if nothing else, he should record them.

So, not a lot of writing, and a little bit of editing this week. But I really enjoyed talking with these folks about their writing and their aspirations. We're all kindred spirits as my friend Anne Shirley of Green Gables fame likes to say. This week, I'm going to finish my preliminary edit and then the way will be clear to keep writing. I'll let you know how it how it went next week.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What's Christian Reading? The Shore Road Mystery

Last week, Christian told us about a Hardy Boys mystery that he had been reading. When I asked him what book he'd like to talk about this week, he said he'd like to tell us about another Hardy Boys adventure, The Shore Road Mystery. When I asked him if there was something else that he'd read he said, "All I've read this week is Hardy Boys."

I guess he really likes the books. When something grabs him, he goes with it. So, at the risk of being repetitive, here are Christian's thoughts on The Shore Road Mystery by Franklin W. Dixon.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"The Hardy boys have another mystery to solve. Some crooks have been stealing cars, and it's up to the Hardy boys to discover who. They meet a fisherman that they suspect to be part of the gang. According to the police, the gang has been stealing cars and then heading north, but the Hardy boys suspect that they're making a U-turn. 

"They guess that the hideout is somewhere along the cliff. One night they see a man climbing up a gigantic spider web. Their friend, Tony, is watching the shoreline and sees the spider man, too. The boys' friend, Jack Dodd and his father were accused of the crime.

"The Hardy boys set out to prove the police wrong."

Here's what Christina liked best about the book.

"I liked the part where they saw the spider guy, because it was interesting and surprising at the same exact time. It was interesting and surprising, because it's not every day that you see a spider man climbing up a giant web."

Was there anything Christian didn't like?

"I think that they could have described the fishing boat better, instead of just saying it was a black boat."

So, how did Christian rate The Shore Road Mystery by Franklin W. Dixon?

He gives it four out of five flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Did You Know? The Call of the Wild

Today, we've got some fun facts about The Call of the Wild and its author, Jack London. Let's see what we dug up.

Did You Know...
  • The Alaska natives called the Yeehat that appear in the book were made up by London?
  • The dog, Buck, was inspired by a dog owned by London's landlords?
  • The Call of the Wild first appeared in 1903 in The Saturday Evening Post? Macmillan bought the book rights and published it later that year.
  • Egerton R. Young claimed the book was taken from his book, My Dogs in the Northland? London admitted using it as a source.
  • London spent a year in the Klondike, which inspired the book?
  • London was an advocate of socialism and unions? He wrote several books and articles in support of those ideals.
  • He worked on a sealing schooner that sailed to Japan? He also worked in a mill, a power plant, and spent time as a tramp. 
  • London spent 30 days in jail for vagrancy?
  • When he was in the Klondike, he contracted scurvy?
  • London died young? He passed away from acute renal colic and late stage alcoholism in 1916 at age 40.
Here's a scene from the 1935  film version of The Call of the Wild starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's Christian Reading? The Hardy Boys:The House on the Cliff

Christian has discovered some books that I enjoyed as a boy--The Hardy Boys series of mysteries.

So, this is what Christian says the book is about.

"It's about two brothers and their chums Chet, Biff, Tony & Phil. They solve mysteries. This mystery is about a mysterious house on a cliff that used to belong to an old man named Pollit. One day, three people mysteriously begin living there. The boys walk up to investigate the house not knowing that someone lived there. The people seem in a rush to get them away. The boys are suspicious.

"They suspect that there might be a secret harbor at the bottom of the cliff. They call their friend Tony, because he has a speed boat, to take them to the bottom of the cliff to help them investigate. The rest of the book is about how they solve the mystery of the house on the cliff. Will they solve it?"

Here's what Christian liked best about the book.

"I liked the surprise that came in when they discovered the cove. I'll leave that to you to find out. The book kept me on the edge of my seat (my bed, actually)."

Was there anything he didn't like?

"I think that they might have been able to describe the cove better. I had a hard time seeing it in my mind. After a while I got it, though."

So, how did Christian rate The House on the Cliff by Franklin W. Dixon?

He gives it five out of five flaming monkey heads.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Did You Know? 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Since we were able to spend some time with Captain Nemo yesterday, we'll be featuring some fun facts about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and it's author, Jules Verne. Every time I research these facts, I always discover something that I never knew. Often, I learn about something that influenced the writer, or that I can relate to as a writer. Let's see if that's the case this time around.

 Did You Know...
  • That 20,000 leagues doesn't refer to the depth that they travel, but to the distance? If you traveled 20,000 leagues, you would circle the Earth six times.
  • In the original version, Nemo was a Polish nobleman whose family was killed by Russians?
  • The book's sequel, Mysterious Island, reveals Nemo's Indian heritage? This was changed at the request of Verne's publishers, because at the time France was an ally of Russia.
  • The book was first published in France in 1870 and was translated into English by Lewis Mercier in 1872?
  • The Nautilus accurately foreshadowed today's modern submarines in its high speed capability and covert operations? Unlike today's subs, however, it was able to dive to any depth.
  • Jules Verne was way ahead of his time, writing about space, air, and underwater travel among other things? Many of his descriptions of these futuristic adventures were eerily similar to what mankind has actually achieved.
  • Verne began writing libretti for operettas before turning to novels?
  • In his school days, Verne received writing advice from Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas?
  • Verne was shot by his nephew? One bullet hit him in the leg, which left him with a limp for the last 19 years of his life.
  • In 1863 Verne wrote a book entitled Paris in the 20th Century? In the book he describes glass skyscrapers, gasoline powered automobiles, high speed trains, and calculators. Verne put the manuscript in a safe for future publication, where it was discovered by his great-grandson in 1989. Weird, huh?
So, that's the scoop. Now, here's the trailer from the Disney version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Funny how Disney has a version for just about every great classic children's story.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Captain Nemo

Today, we're leaving The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters to take to the seas. We're going under the sea--20,000 leagues under the sea--to talk to the mysterious Captain Nemo. We were lucky enough to be invited aboard his wonderful submarine, Nautilus, to spend a little time getting to know him better.

Greg:  Thanks for inviting us to spend a little time with you, Captain. I know that you don't like to talk much about yourself, but I was wondering what you did before taking to the seas.

Nemo:  I was once known as Prince Dakkar, the son of a Hindu Raja of the Indian Kingdom of Bundelkund. In my youth, I watched as the imperial forces of the British Empire conquered my beloved land. In the fighting, I lost both my kingdom and my family.

I decided to devote my life to scientific endeavors in order to put an end to imperialism and lead the world into a new era of peace. To that end, I and those loyal to me worked to devise a fantastic machine, capable of diving to great depths.

Greg:  Let me guess, we're in it, right?

Nemo:  Correct. This wondrous vessel, called Nautilus, is my masterpiece. It is a world unto itself, free of the greed and evil that thrives upon the land. With it I could liberate treasure from sunken ships. With that treasure, I have been able to create a Utopian society where man is free to evolve into a higher order without the mundane thirst for power that drives the surface dwellers. True freedom only exists beneath the sea, for it is the only place beyond the greedy grasp of mankind.

Greg:  Very impressive and admirable ideals, Captain. But isn't it true that you indulge in some of those very things yourself? For instance, haven't you been known to attack ships?

Nemo:  You are correct, up to a point. It is true that I, we--my crew and I--have attacked ships. However, I never attack unless attacked. The vessels that I have sunk were ships of war, those whose express purpose is to wreak havoc upon the weak and oppressed.

No sir, I do not indulge in violence, as you say. Rather, I protect the seas and all creatures in them from the marauding forces of man. Besides, the laws and conventions of the surface dwellers do not apply to those of us who live beneath the waves in tranquility and peace.

Greg:  Okay, okay, no need to get so uptight. I get it. Since we're down here under the waves as your guests we'll just go with it--when in Rome, and all that. It must be an exciting life, living beneath the sea. Can you tell us a little about your adventures?

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Writer's Week #15: A Sense of Urgency

So this week was a little below average from a writing standpoint. I wrote a little over 1,000 words, which means the book is now over 25,000 words. That means I'm about halfway through the book, or maybe a little more.

More importantly, however, I received a lesson from my old mentor, children's author and book editor Louise Ladd. Back in the day, when I was taking her class, she impressed on me the need to introduce and maintain a sense of urgency when writing children's adventure books.

Last week, I sent her a copy of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel  to see what she thought of it. When I took part in her writing group eight years ago, the members of the group read and critiqued each other's writing. Over two years, I submitted the first six chapters of the book. I learned a lot about creating a sense of urgency, and my writing improved as a result.

Somewhere along the line, though, it appears I lost sight of that a little. Louise thought that while the book was imaginative, fun and a good read, the urgency was lacking in the middle of the book. Ouch.

So, how did her honest opinion make me feel? It made me think, that's for sure. Is my book perfect? No. But in spite of that, it's a good book. There's no such thing as a perfect book, and I can always do better--I'm always learning.

So I'm grateful to Louise for the reminder. It will help me keep improving my writing, and it will help me to make the new book as good as it can be. Louise is a great editor and teacher, and I'm glad I was able to reconnect with her.

Do you have a writing mentor, or someone whose advice has been instrumental in shaping who you are as a writer? If so, let us know who they are and a little bit about them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What's Christian Reading? The Accidental Genius of Weasel High

Christian brought a new book home the library, The Accidental Genius of Weasel High by Rick Detorie. It looks to me to be kind of a Diary of a Wimpy Kid-like book. Let's see if I can judge a book by it's cover, or if I'm way off base.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"It's about a boy who's 14 whose name is Larkin. He has a bratty sister named Kelly whose hair is formed like a speed bump. Larkin has a friend named Brooke. Together they do a lot of things, like memorizing scenes from funny movies and acting them out in public, and snarking on people.

"After they go to the ice skating rink, Brooke asks if he has a girlfriend yet (ed. Brooke is a girl). He doesn't respond, because he always thought that Brooke was his girlfriend, so he's shocked. He has another friend named Freddie and an arch enemy named Dalton Cooke.

"He sees Brooke with Dalton and thinks they're going out. But he's wrong. Dalton sets up a prank and he wants Larkin to film it. They're going to ask their French teacher the names of colors in French. Every time he turns to write it on the board, the class moves their desks forward, until he's pinned and can't move."

Here's what Christian liked about the book.

"I liked when his mother went in for share your job day at school. She's a handyperson, so she brought in a chainsaw and revved it up in the classroom while wearing a ski mask. It was Larkin's idea and she liked it."

Was there anything Christian didn't like?

"I liked everything except that his older sister was so mean. When he was three and she was five, she dressed him up in a lamb suit and set up a lemonade stand with a sign that said 'buy some lemonade or lamby gets a beating.'"

So, how does Christian rate Thee Accidental Genius of Weasel High by Rick Detorie?

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


Tuesday, April 10, 2012 Interview Series: Huckleberry Finn

Hello. The schedule's a little out of whack this week, so I'll be posting Monday's interview today instead. Way back in January, our first interview was with Tom Sawyer. This week, we were able to catch up to his cohort, Huckleberry Finn.

Greg:  Welcome, Huckleberry. I'm really glad you could take some time away from the Mississippi to come up north.

Huckleberry:  Thank 'ee very much fer invitin' me. I aint never had no call t' come up this ways before. Mighty purty country ya got here. By the way, ya kin call me Huck, all m' friends does.

Greg:  Well, thanks, Huck. That leads nicely into my first question. Can you tell us a little bit about your friends?

Huck:   Why sure. Prob'ly m' best friend'd be Tom Sawyer. Him 'n' me is thick as thieves. We've had all sorts of adventures. M' favorite was when we out skunked Injun Joe an' got a whole passel of money that set us up real nice. That's when I saved the Widder Douglas.

Greg:  Yes, Tom told me a lot about that when I spoke with him. She adopted you, right?

Huck:  Yeah, she did. She tried t' sivilize me, and made me go t' school. She said she was tryin' t' pay me back, but I shore could think of better ways t' do it. Anyways, m' pap weren't too pleased by it all. It's funny, but when I were poor he didn't pay me no mind, but as soon as I wuz rich he tried t' take me away.

He drug me way out t' the woods, which weren't too bad, as a matter o' fact, compared with school. But Pap wuz powerful taken with drink most ever night, an' he'd get real mean an' dangerous. So, I fooled ever one inta thinkin' I was murdered, an' I snuck away t' Jackson's Island, where I was gonna live like a king.

Greg:  Why didn't you stay there?

Huck:  I met up with ol' Miss Watson's slave, Jim, who was escapin' t' Ohia. We decided t' team up an' lit out on a raft t' see some o' the mighty Mississip. At first, I looked at Jim as just a slave. I thought he might be useful. But, by an' by, I come t' realise he were a person same as me, an' we become good friends. Funny how floatin' on a river just settin' an' talkin' with a body can teach ya a whole lot more than any book learnin'.

Greg:  Did you and Jim have many adventures?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Book's on Nook!

Hi all. Right now, I'm between work and a big Lions' meeting, so I won't have time to post an interview as I normally do. I'll have one for you tomorrow evening instead.

I do have some news to share that can't wait, however. The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel is now available on the Nook at Barnes &! It's $2.99, so if you own a Nook, please check it out.

     The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel     

I've got to run, but I'll be back tomorrow. Have a great night!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Writer's Week #14: What's In A Name?

I've been chugging along this week. As I noted last week, I'm at the point in the new book where I'm just plugging away, putting down one word after another, much the same way as a marathon runner picks one foot up and puts one foot down to keep moving forward.

This week, I managed to write 1,400 words or so, which is not a thrilling total. But at least it's progress. So now, I'm up to chapter 27 and over 24,000 words. Just for comparison's sake, my first book, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel, has a total of 27 chapters, but is 53,000 words long. Quite a difference.

I'm not sure if this book is going to be quite as long as the first one. I'm not sure there are 29,000 words left to write. But I do know that this one will have more chapters. The pace, I think, is going to be quicker in this book as it weaves in a couple of storylines. We'll see how long it will takee for the rest of the story to play out.

But I'm kind of getting tired of referring to this book as "the new book' or, "the new Deliverers book". I'm beginning to think that I have to try and figure out what to call it. The first book was called The Deliverers for just about the entire time I was writing it. I didn't add the Sharky and the Jewel bit until I was sure that I'd be writing another one.

So I know that this book is part of The Deliverers series, so that automatically means I've got part of a title, The Deliverers. But what comes next? I'm going to have to think about that. So far, nothing has grabbed me and shouted "here I am!" But I guess I still have some time. But the name is important. It's what give a book its identity. So I think I'll have to give this some serious thought and see what strikes me. If I come up with something this week, I'll be sure to let you know!

Oh, just a heads up. Next week is looking pretty busy, especially the early part, so I won't be posting on Monday. I'll try to do an interview on Tuesday, probably with a character from an author I've done previously so that I won't have to do a Did You Know? Anyway, we'll see. Have a great holiday!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What's Christian Reading? The Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins

This week, Christian went for a little change of pace. He wanted to talk about The Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins by Elizabeth Doyle Carey. Let's find out what he had to say about it.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"It's about four girls who are cousins that spend the summer at their grandmother's house. They are planning on planting the Callahan family flag on Little Gull Island. They start planning their strategy without telling their grandmother what they're up to.

"They eventually break it to her, and surprisingly, she's supportive of it. They're in a contest with Sloan Bicket, someone from another family who is trying to plant their family's flag on the island.

"They beat Sloan to the island and plant their flag, but when they're leaving Sloan comes in a motorboat against the tide, and  pulls their flag down and plants her own. That's when things start to turn upside down."

What did Christian like best about the book?

"I liked the competition that went on between the Callahan and Bicket families. It was really intense. When the families would run into each other in the stores, they would sneer at each other. You could feel the tension."

Was there anything he didn't like about the book?

"I didn't like how they kept their plans a secret from their grandmother for so long. Why didn't they just tell her right away?"

So, how did Christian rate The Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins by Elizabeth Doyle Carey?

He gave it four and a half out of five flaming monkey heads.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Mowgli

A couple of months back, we interviewed Tarzan. This week, we'll be speaking with another son of the jungle, Mowgli from The Jungle Book. Luckily, Mowgli was in the area on a Disney movie tour, so we didn't have to hike on out to the Indian jungle. Let's check out what he had to say.

Greg:  Hi Mowgli, thanks for stopping by. So, you're on a publicity tour for Disney?

Mowgli:  Yes, they are re-releasing the movie, so I'm making some appearances to the 45th anniversary of the film.

Greg:  Really? That's not something that I would have thought you'd go for.

Mowgli:  Well, normally, you would be correct, but times are tough. The jungles in India are rapidly disappearing. There's not much room to roam, so I thought that if I'd have to return to the man village, I would do it on my own terms and see a little bit of the world.

Greg: Okay, fair enough. Now, I know your basic history, that your parents were killed in the jungle in a tiger attack, and that you were raised by wolves. What was it like to be raised in a wolf pack.

Mowgli:  It was a great way to grow up--definitely better than growing up in the man village. I got to run with the pack, and pull thorns from their paws. I could out stare any wolf in the pack, and I was a really good hunter.

Greg:  Didn't they give you a nickname?

Mowgli:  Uh huh. They called me Frog because I did not have any hair and I moved around a lot.

Greg:  It sounds like you had a great time in the jungle. Were there any drawbacks?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What's Marissa Reading? The Giver

This whole review deal has been growing like crazy. First, Christian wanted to give his opinion on some of the books he was reading. He writes one every week. Then, his sister Abigail wanted to write some reviews. She's written a couple. Now, my 11 year old niece, Marissa, has requested to post a review. So, from the warm and wonderful state of Florida, here's Marissa's review of The Giver, by Lois Lowry.

Here's what Marissa says the book is about.

"Oh well there is a book called The Giver it's about a Utopian type society where every thing is perfect so nobody has any choices and everything is chosen for them like their job and spouse and everything. There is no weather or color or any emotions really because if you have the ability to be happy you can have the ability to be sad to and they can't have sadness because everything is perfect.

"There is a job chosen every once in a while called the Receiver. The Receiver holds all the memories of all the pain.......and happiness so that other citizens won't have to experience it. Once the Receiver becomes old they become the Giver and have to train the new Receiver."

What did you like the most about The Giver?

"I liked the part when the main character Jonas learned what 'Release' really was, because he has been living in a world for his whole life where he thought none of this was ever possible, that he never even imagined, that couldn't even happen in 'Elsewhere'."

Was there anything Marissa didn't like?

" Well at the end the author left you hanging a bit too much...The whole premise of the book you really have to imagine things in your own way, she gives you room to develop your own thoughts on it. But even though it is a trilogy she doesn't really explain enough for my liking. But over all it was a fantastic book."

So, how does Marissa rate The Giver, by Lois Lowry?

Marissa gives it five out of five baby giraffes.


Folks, We Have A Winner!

The Spring Has Sprung Giveaway has come to an end. Thank you to all of you who entered by following the blog or liking The Deliverers Facebook page! Thank you to Rafflecopter for handling all the tracking, etc. Now, to announce the winner., um, we didn't budget for a drumroll, so just bang on the table as you read this! And the winner is...De Ann Townes!

Congratulations. I'll be getting out your signed copy of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel and your $25 Amazon gift card out to you right away.

Again, thanks to everyone who participated. If you're new to the blog, and are enjoying it, please spread the word to your friennds, family and anyone else that you can think of!