Friday, September 28, 2012

A Writer's Week #38: 50k and Still Writing

Writing a book is a journey. Sometimes it's long, sometimes not so long. When I wrote The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel, it took a long time--over five years. The book I'm currently writing, The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion, has taken less time--ten months so far.

I've documented most of the writing process for The Deliverers 2 in these A Writer's Week posts. It's been fun to bring you through the process, and I'm looking forward to one day going back to read them all and relive the journey. I hit a milestone in my writing this week. I've finally reached 50,000 words--50,300 to be exact.

The original Deliverers is about 53,000 words, and I think The Deliverers 2 will wind up being longer than that. Last week, I'd hoped that I would be able to finish the first draft this week, but I stumbled upon an interesting scene that gives Stig a chance to be a little vulnerable, which is something different for him. So, I'm a little behind where I thought I'd be right now.

Still, it's coming along, and I hope that in a couple of weeks the first draft will be done, and editing can begin. I still have not read the whole book all the way through yet. I know there are some continuity issues that will have to be fixed, as I changed some things in the middle, and haven't gone back to change the beginning yet. I'm looking forward to revisiting the beginning of the book now that I know this new world a little better.

Things are also progressing on the production of the audio book version of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel. Narrator Jimm Singer and I have been communicating back and forth. I've sent him background material on most of the characters, and he's sent the first 22 pages to me to listen to and review. It's sounding really good. I can't wait for you to hear it.

For the last couple of days, the Kindle version of The Deliverers was free. I gave away a decent number of copies. Thanks to all who downloaded a copy! Please let me know what you thought of it after you read it. If you think of it, please write a review on Amazon. The more reviews, the better.

Next week looks to be another exciting week. I'll be sure to tell you all about it next Friday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What's Abigail Reading? Junie B. First Grader Boo...and I Mean It!

Well, Abigail is on a Junie B. Jones kick lately. It's really great to see a child latch on to a book series and fall in love with it. It happened this summer with Christian and Harrry Potter. Now Abby is enjoying the exploits of this precocious first grader. This week, she read Boo...and I Mean It!. Let's see what Abigail though about it.

Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

"It's about a girl named Junie B. Jones. Her middle name is Beatrice, but she just likes B because it sounds good. It's around Halloween and she doesn't want to go trick or treating because this boy named Paulie Allen Puffer told her five bad secrets about Halloween--candy corn is not candied corn, real monsters and witches go trick or treating on Halloween, do not carve pointy sharp teeth in your pumpkin or else it will roll in your room while you're sleeping and eat your feet, bats like to land on your head and live in your hair, and black cats can claw you to shreds.

"Junie wanted to dress as Squirty the Clown because she could scare away all the monsters. She would be able to do this by using seltzer to squirt them. She learned this by watching the circus. She went as Squirty, but there was a slight problem. She couldn't get seltzer, because her mother did not want her squirting people.

"She scared her grandmother by hiding behind her wall and jumping out and saying boo. Her grandmother got scared because Junie looked just like Squirty, who had squirted her at the circus. After she was done trick or treating she felt better. She wasn't scared any more."

Here's what Abigail liked best about the book.

"I liked when she scared her grandmother. Her really yelled!"

Was there anything Abigail did not like about the book?

"I didn't like when the whole class laughed at her because she didn't like Halloween. I like Halloween because you get candy."

So, how did Abigail rate Junie B. First Grader Boo...and I Mean It!, by Barbara Park?

She gave it four and a half out of five dolphins.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What's Better Than Free?

So, what's better than free? Nothing, that's what. Tomorrow and Thursday, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel will be free on Kindle. Spread the word, tell the neighbors, your family and friends. I really want to make a splash with this. As a banker by day, I don't usually like to give things away (well, besides toasters), but in this case I'm making an exception.

I want to get the word out about the book, and what better way to do that than to let people read it for free?  I am hoping that people will then read it, like it, and spread the word. So please, check it out and get it tomorrow or Thursday. Then, read it and let everyone know what you think of it by posting a review on Amazon. Thanks in advance for doing this, and please spread the word.

Here's an excerpt from the book to whet your appetite. This is chapter six, Sharky:

      Captain Burt Sharky glared at the trembling pirate who stood before him. His left hand fidgeted with a ring on his right hand. The jagged red stone set in the ring glowed with a blood-red light. He was seated in a high-backed chair in the middle of his audience chamber, a gloomy hall where the pirate captain held court while at his island base.

      Sharky was six and a half feet tall. He wore breeches and black boots that came up to his knees. A red frock coat covered a yellowed linen shirt. His head was covered by a blue and yellow bandana from under which jutted shocks of fiery red hair. His eyes were a piercing green, and the beard on his scarred face was as red as his hair.
      "Repeat that, Fishbane," he snarled. "I don't think I heard ye aright."
      "Well, Cap'n," Fishbane twisted the hat he held in his trembling hands, "me an' a few o' the lads went t' scout the village, same as we always does. We landed on the beach t' the south an' climbed up t' the top o' the ridge.
      "Things was bustlin' there, but it didn't seem like the usual goin's on."
      "Aye, ye said that afore, Fishbane," Sharky growled. "But what were differ'nt about it?"
      "Well, sir, there were a lot more comin' an' goin' from the iron mine fer one thing. An' a bunch o' farmers was clearin' trees and such from the two ridges above the harbor mouth, an' they was buildin' stone walls up there. The net mender an' a group o' others was weavin' a 'uge net. An’ later on, I saw her an’ a group of villagers in the jungle practicin’ arch’ry."
      "Archery, anythin' else?" Sharky spat.
      Fishbane's ruddy face twisted in concentration, then he brightened. "Oh yeah, I almost fergot. I waited ’til night and snuck down to the blacksmith’s. I looked in the winder and, they’re forgin’ weapons!"
      "Yer sure of that?" Sharky twisted the ring on his finger.
      "Aye, Cap'n, it were just like I said.”
      "All right, Fishbane, that's all. Ye done good. Go get yerself some grub."
      "Thank'ee, sir," Fishbane made an awkward bow, turned and fled.
      "Marrow!" Sharky bellowed.
      Out of the shadows came a thin figure. He ambled over to the captain's chair without a trace of fear. Cruel eyes stared out of an emaciated head, which looked like a skull. He was Sharky's first mate, and the men were almost as afraid of him as they were of the Captain.
      "You called, Captain?" Mr. Marrow's voice was cool as ice.
      "Ye heard that weasel's report?"
      "Aye, sir."
      "The swine're up t' somethin'," Sharky grumbled.
      "Undoubtedly, Captain," Mr. Marrow agreed.
      "I'm a-thinkin' they're fixin’ on settin' a trap," Sharky played with his ring.
      "Perhaps the sheep seek to become wolves," Mr. Marrow's eyes held an icy gleam.
      "They wouldn't dare!" Sharky bellowed, slamming his fist down on the arm of his chair. "They ain't never been no trouble afore! Who could o' stirrred 'em up?"
      "Well, that blacksmith, Cordon, he’s always been belligerent, and then there's the Lord Mayor himself," Mr. Marrow suggested.
      "Oh ho!" Sharky barked. "Them Endrias 'ave always been sheep. They've no stomach fer fightin', never 'ave, never will. And that goes fer the rest o' 'em. They dance t' Endria's tune, they does. It ain't never gonna change."
      Mr. Marrow's eyes narrowed, and he cocked his head to one side. "Hmmm, Charles Endria may be made of sterner stuff than you give him credit for. His family has always been independent."
      Sharky scowled. "Don't be daft, man. He's a sheep--they're all sheep I tell ye!"
      "And yet it seems they're setting a trap for us at the next Tariff," Mr. Marrow pursed thin lips.
      "Aye, so it seems." Sharky's eyes narrowed, and a cruel smile curled his lip. "But they don't know we're on to 'em, eh, Marrow? They may be playin' at bein' wolves, but in the end, sheep they'll be. They'll turn tail an' run."
      "And if they aren't just sheep?" Mr. Marrow asked.
      "Then we'll wipe 'em out," Sharky hissed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Interview Series: The Scarecrow

Now that fall has arrived and elections, both local and national, are coming up in a couple of months, I am growing thoroughly sick of all the political ads. I'm not one to get political, especially in this blog, but it seems to me that we would be better served to be led by folks who check their egos at the door and use their brains.

Instead, all these politicians do is talk, talk, talk and rake each other over the coals. This reminds me of something this week's interviewee once said--"I've noticed that some people without brains do an awful lot of talking," which I think sums up modern day politics perfectly.

Okay, I'm down off my soapbox. This week, I'm talking with someone who claims they have no brain himself, but who seems to me to be very wise. Of course, I'm referring to the Scarecrow from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Greg:  Thank you so much for coming over to chat with us a bit. What have you been up to?

Scarecrow:  Oh, quite a lot, actually. It's really been a whirlwind since I met Dorothy--no pun intended.

Greg:  Yes, well you certainly had an adventure what with meeting Dorothy and the Tin Man and the Lion, and nearly being burned by the Wicked Witch.

Scarecrow:  Ooh! Let's not talk about that. It certainly was scary, like being trapped inside my worst nightmare. Still it wasn't all bad. I got to meet Dorothy and made some wonderful friends. Oh yes, and don't forget that the Wizard gave me some brains. I was a real dolt before that.

Greg:  Oh I don't know about that. You seemed to come up with some great ideas before you got anywhere near the Emerald City. For instance, who was it that got the trees to throw apples at you? Who came up with the plan to get into the Witch's castle? And, who chopped the rope that dropped the chandelier onto the Witch's guards? That wasn't the work of a dummy.

Scarecrow:  That was just luck. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time is all. Besides, things didn't really start to take off for me until after the Wizard gave me my brains.

Greg:  Really? How so?

Scarecrow:  Well, you see, just before the Wizard took off in his balloon, he appointed me to rule in his stead. Now you can imagine how scary that was for a humble country bumpkin like myself who had only had his brains for a very short while. Of course, I did the best I could. Folks seemed to be reasonably happy with the job I did.

On the whole, I felt I did an okay job. Of course after a while there was this coup by General Jinjur, so I guess things might not have gone as smoothly as I would have liked. I was able to get help from Glinda the Good Witch on that occasion, so things turned out okay in the long run.

Greg:  That sounds exciting. Things seem to have worked out well for you. Are you still ruler of Oz?

Scarecrow:  It's funny how things work out. You see, I was almost happy that I got ousted. Once I was restored to power, I wasn't really happy. Then Ozma came along. I was more than happy to pass the job along to her, and to become one of her advisors. I found it was much easier to offer advice than to actually have to make a decision.

Greg:  Yes, well good for you. I'm glad you finally found your happy place. And after all, didn't the Tin Woodman declare you the wisest man in Oz?

Scarecrow:  It was very kind of him to say, and I must admit there is some truth to it. Not to sound conceited, but people do come to me from all corners of Oz and beyond ask for my advice.

Greg:  Really? Well, how very nice for you. And what are you up to these days?

Scarecrow:  I am currently outstanding in my field.

Greg:  Oh yes, and what field is that?

Scarecrow:  No, no, you misunderstand me. I've gone back to my roots. I've returned to thee field where Dorothy found me, and I can usually be found out standing in it. Get it? I'm usually out standing in my field? That's a little bit of brainy humor. Now if you'll excuse me, there are some crows that need outsmarting. Bye, now!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Writer's Week #37: Busy, Busy, Busy

This past week was a busy--and productive one--at Deliverers Publishing Headquarters. Let's see, where to begin? Oh yes, I've finally managed (after more than nine months) to come up with a name for the sequel to The Deliverers. Are you ready? The name of the new book is (drum roll) The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion. Cool title, huh?

The Order of the Crystal Lion is a secret society that works as a sort of underground resistance in this civil war that's being fought on the next world that Eric, Stig, Kate and Hallo go to help.

Anyway, I'll be giving you some more details as the book gets closer to completion and is edited, rewritten, etc. That brings me to my next bit of news. This week I was able to get even closer to finishing the first draft of Order of the Crystal Lion by writing 3,000 words. That brings me up to 49,000 words, 54 chapters and 215 pages! Boy, it's really coming along. I'd like to complete the first draft by the end of the month, but something tells me it might not be done until early October. Then, of course, I'll have to edit it and do some rewriting. Still, I'm getting very close now, so my excitement is growing.

On the Sharky and the Jewel front, Jimm Singer sent me take one of the first 18 minutes of the audio book. It sounded fantastic! I made a few suggestions and there were some points that he was not entirely pleased with, so Jimm took all that and went back to the studio to produce take two. I received that a couple of days ago and was really blown away. Jimm's got the tone and feel of Eric and Stig down. His narrative voice sounds just right. I even got a couple lines of the Gatekeeper, and he sounds promising.

It really is wild to hear someone else reading my book. He's taken the characters and the story and brought them to life in a way that I never could. I've heard Eric and Stig's voices in my head for years now, and it's really freaky--in a neat way--to hear them brought to life by someone else. I am so stoked to hear the rest of the book. I'll keep you all up to date on the whole process as it moves along.

Also, keep an eye out for a promotion coming up next week. I've lowered the price of the Kindle version of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel to 99 cents from now until the middle of October. However, next week on the 26th and 27th The Deliverers will be FREE. Tell all your friends and neighbors. Tell your family. I want to get everyone talking about this. This is a perfect way to get the word out about the book and generate some buzz. So please, tell everyone you know about it. It's a great story that deserves to be read and enjoyed by children (and adults) of all ages!

I'll let you know how it all went next Friday. Talk to you then!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Deliverers Free on Kindle 9/26 & 27

That's right. Just like the headline says, The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel will be FREE on Kindle on Wednesday, September 26th and Thursday, September 27th.  Don't miss this opportunity to get the book for nothing! Tell your friends, and have them tell their friends. I need this to go viral to get the word out. If you can't wait until next week, it's currently on sale for 99 cents.

If you or your children have already read the book, please post a review on Amazon. The more the merrier, and thank you for your support!

Here's a little bit about what reviewers have been saying about The Deliverers:

"A fantastic, poignant, and flawless story. This book made me want to dream more and be a 12-year-old again, and join the main character's next journey. Yes, I want a sequel!"--Ara, My Book and My Coffee

"Slomba delivers an action-packed adventure that's sure to thrill middle grade and younger readers...In addition to the quest to save Calendria, Eric struggles to regain his own confidence, making this a lovely story of self-discovery as well."--Mary Reilly, A Book A Day

Twelve year old Eric Scott is called by Stig, a talking owl, to journey to another world to save a fishing village from a band of bloodthirsty pirates. Once there, Eric discovers that delivering the town is but one of the problems he'll have to solve.

Can a 12 year old boy, a talking owl, a headstrong girl and an outcast dwarf save a village, much less an entire world? Find out as they set out on the journey of a lifetime to defeat an immortal pirate, face their fears, and fulfill an ancient prophecy.

"Take one bewildered hero, add a slightly pompous talking owl to guide him, stir in a stubborn girl whose village is threatened by pirates, blend with a secret mountain full of dwarves, an eerie dead forest guarded by gigantic bats, and top it with a mysterious jewel rumored to be the size of a large pizza and you have an entrancing story literally out of this world. Slomba's imagination knows no bounds as one surprise after another keeps the hero, and the reader, busy fending off the next crisis." --Louise Ladd, children's author, and owner of The Book Doctor

"I liked Eric because he was smart and braver than he knew. He also had to rely on friends to help him solve the problems that arise and this seemed very real to me."--Stephanie Robinson, children's author and blog reviewer for The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow

"The book is amazing right from the first page and I often found it difficult to put down. This book is a true fantasy and one I greatly enjoyed."--Denise Lawson, reviewer

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What's Abigail Reading: Junie B., First Grader Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!

It's Abigail's turn this week to tell us about a book that she's been reading. The book that she just finished is a Junie B. Jones book called Junie B, First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May) by Barbara Park. Let's see what Junie B. Jones is up to this time!

Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

"It is about a girl named Junie B. Jones. Junie B. and the rest of Room 1 get to do a holiday sing-along. Room 1 got to wear the jingle hats and go up on the stage because Room 1 was the best behaved class when they went to music.

"Junie B. and the rest of the class got to go to the gift shop. Junie B. saw crayons that were brand new. Junie B. also saw all different kinds of tattoos. Then, Junie B. heard the funniest burp in the whole world. Everyone turned to look at Lucille, and everyone started to laugh. Lucille said it was the toy she was holding in her hand. It was called a squeeze-a-burp. I am not going to tell any more."

What was Abigail's favorite part?

"My favorite part was when Lucille squeezed the squeeze-a-burp. I liked it because it was funny!"

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

"I didn't like when May and Junie B. were teasing and fighting with each other."

So, how would Abigail rate Junie B, First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May) by Barbara Park?

She gives it five out of five dolphins!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Ali Baba

This week we are talking with someone who's really made something of himself. He started out as a poor woodcutter, and is now a very wealthy merchant. I'm talking of course about Ali Baba. Let's see if we can find out the secret of his success.

Greg:  Hello. I'm so glad you could take a few minutes to talk with us. You must be very busy.

Ali Baba:  Yes, things are very busy just now. I deal in spices. All the spices of the Orient. I have a caravan that travels the Silk Road to bring many exotic flavors to the west.

Greg:  My, you certainly have a lot going on. Tell me, do you ever yearn for the simpler days when you were a humble woodcutter?

Ali Baba:  No, not really. Those were simpler times, but hard. I do not think that I would ever want to return there. 

Greg:  I can understand that. So, I have to ask, what is the secret to your sudden success?

Ali Baba:  Well, er, um, I don't know if I should say. After all, we've only just met and you might, er, be indiscreet.

Greg:  No I won't, I promise. Please tell me, please, please pleeeease?

Ali Baba:  Oh all right stop whining. I will tell you, but you must promise to tell no one else!

Greg:  Oh, I promise. I will not say anything about it. I'll leave that up to you.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Writer's Week #36: Listen for The Deliverers on Audio Book

We may not realize it, but we live in a great age. Technology has opened up new opportunities in every facet of our culture. This is especially true for all of us who write. When I came up with the idea for The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel almost ten years ago, there was one way to get published--try to get an agent or a publisher to notice you, become interested in your manuscript, and publish your book. Or you could go the vanity publisher route. You know, pay thousands of dollars to a company to print hundreds of copies of your book for you so that you could store them in your garage and sell them out of the back of your car.

Well, times have changed. For one thing, I turned my garage into a bedroom and a bathroom. For another, print on demand (POD) came along, meaning you no longer have to lay out any cash at all to have your book published. Then along came Createspace, which gave you an instant sales platform on Amazon and Kindle (oh yeah--e-books were another big development).

Is it a perfect situation for writers? No. But every month new things come down the pike which make it better and better. Like Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), for example. It gives authors, narrators and producers a chance to connect and produce professional audio books. You can either pay the narrator a negotiated hourly rate or you can partner with a narrator for no initial cost and split all royalties 50-50. Royalties start at 50% of the purchase price, so that means the author and narrator each get 25%. Not a bad deal. You get full creative control. The key is to find a narrator who's talented and easy to work with.

So that's what I decided to do. For the last week and a half, I've been auditioning narrators to produce an audio book version of The Deliverers. I used Chapter 9 of the book as the audition script, and received a number of audition files and they were all good in their way. However, one stood out. I listened to it a bunch of times, had my wife listen to it, had people at work listen to it, and they all liked it. There were a couple little tweaks that I thought needed to be done, so I asked him if he could incorporate those into another audition. He was very accommodating and made the changes.

In fact, Jimm is very easy to communicate with and extremely professional. So, I submitted an offer to him. Before accepting, he wanted to be sure that I was willing to communicate with him--by phone if need be--if he had a question or needed to talk through anything during production. That told me that I had made a good decision. So, the narrator is going to be Jimm Singer, a professional narrator, actor and voice over performer with over 15 years' experience.

Needless to say, this is very cool. I never dreamed that I'd be able to make an audio version of The Deliverers. This gives me access to an entirely new market and revenue stream. This will be the perfect thing for children going on long car rides, for teachers to use as a tool in their class rooms, and for those children who are visually impaired. I am very excited.

The audio book should be out around December and will be available on, Amazon, and iTunes. I'll be giving you updates as I receive them. I should be receiving the first 15 minutes in a couple of weeks, and I'll let you know how it sounds and what the editing process is like.

Oh dear, I've rambled on again. Blogging 101 says that posts should be short and sweet. It's hard, though, when you're writing about something so cool. Anyway, during all this hubbub, I still managed to get some writing done. I did not make my 2,000 word weekly goal, but at 1,800 words I came close. That puts The Deliverers 2 at 46,200 words and 205 pages. This book is going to be more pages than the last one, but will probably be the same number of words, because the chapters are shorter and more numerous--52 right now compared to only 27 for the last one.

The plan is to have this first draft finished by the end of the month, then begin rewriting and editing. I'm shooting to have it out in January some time, but it may not be until March, depending on the artwork. I'll check in next week to let you know how things are going.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

What's Elizabeth Reading: On the Run: The Stowaway Solution book #4

Okay, this week, it's another review from the Reading Crew. Hmmm, who will be reviewing this week? Why, it's Elizabeth. She's been reading On the Run: The Stowaway Solution, Book 4 by Gordon Korman. Let's see what she had to say about it.

  Here's what Elizabeth says the book is about.
"The series starts off with Aiden and MegFalconer's parents both in jail because they were framed and supposedly 'gave information over to the enemy.' In reality they did, but it was unknowingly. A close family friend tricked them into thinking they were doing the right  thing. Having done this the FBI agent Emmanuel Harris closed the case and got the Falconer parents stuck in jail with a life sentence. Aiden and Meg escaped from the government and are now fugitives running for their lives and trying to find Uncle Frank so that the case can be opened again and their parents would be found not guilty. 

"At this point in the story state police are everywhere and Aiden and Meg's mug shots are becoming very famous. The only way to get anywhere is by boat. Aiden and Meg have traced Uncle Frank to Denver. Therefore they stowaway on a boat headed for Denver. In the process they are caught while there is no land in sight and make a break  for it during a storm."

Here's what Elizabeth liked best about the book.

"I liked the way Gordon Korman told the part about the storm and how they have to fight to stay afloat or they know they will be killed!!!"

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

"The only part I didn't like was when Agent Harris fell asleep while guarding Aiden. It made it way too easy for Aiden and Meg to escape. 

That is just about all I have to say about this series and book. I hope that someday you will pick up the first book in this series and then want to read the rest of the series. The books are pretty short, but they are awfully exciting and filled with details."

So, how did Elizabeth rate On the Run: The Stowaway Solution by Gordon Korman?

Elizabeth gave it four out of five blue dragons.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Humpty Dumpty

Hello everyone. I'm here in the hospital, because I've just received some exciting news in the case of Humpty Dumpty. The legendary egg called me and asked me to meet him here, so that he could share what he claims is some extraordinary news. He would not elaborate further, but I will do my best to bring to light all the facts in what promises to be a remarkable press conference.

Greg:  Hi Humpty. I rushed right over like you asked. What's the big news?

Humpty:  Well, thank you for being so prompt my good fellow. Yes indeed, I do have some splendid news. I've been notified that I qualify for a new procedure. It's been in development for quite some time, but has not been fully certified by the FDA, so it is still regarded as experimental.

Greg:  That sounds encouraging, but also a little bit risky.

Humpty:  Yes, well there are risks, but ever since that sad day when I fell off the wall, life has been touch and go. All the king's men--and his horses--were totally useless. I only managed to survive because some quick-thinking passerby got my yolk into a ziplock bag and stuck the whole caboodle into their lunch box which had a cold pack inside. 

After that, the folks at thee hospital constructed this plastic bubble which has been my home for ages. A bit claustrophobic, but much better than the alternative. Anyway, my doctor has advised me that the potential benefits far outweigh the risks involved.

Greg:  I see. Well when you put it like that, I have to agree. What is this exciting new procedure?

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Writer's Week #35: Great Feedback

I think I've mentioned before that writing is a solitary business. When I write, I have to hide myself away from the family and woe be unto them if they disturb me. It just wrecks my concentration. So for me, I'm always writing on borrowed time--time that I could (maybe should) be spending working in the yard or spending with the family.

Then there's promoting the book(s) that are already out there. You tweet, you have a Facebook page, a blog, stop in occasionally at Goodreads, make sure your Amazon author page is up to date, go on school visits. But all this, especially if you're self-published, is done on your own. I find I'm like a babe in the woods with this stuff--I'm not a marketer.

So, it's nice when you receive positive feedback. It can make you feel so good and uplift you so much in the tough promotional slog. This week, I received some fantastic feedback. Every so often I go to Book Blogs to share what's going on here at The Deliverers blog. One day, Ara, My Book and My Coffee left me a comment saying that they enjoyed my blog and were now following it. I checked out her blog and saw that she wrote some fabulous reviews, so I asked her if she'd be interested in reviewing The Deliverers.She said yes, so I sent her the book.

Earlier this week, she posted the most flattering review I could ever hope to receive. Here's a link. To give you an idea of the tone of the review, here's the lead:

“A fantastic, poignant, and flawless story. This book made me want to dream more and be a 12-year-old again, and join the main character’s next journey. Yes, I want a sequel." 

Great stuff. Here's something from the body of the review:

 "Seriously, I don’t have any complaints about this book. As in nothing. That rarely happens. It’s kinda strange to me as well, and I'm very happy about it."

Nice. Oh what the heck, here's another snippet:

I found the writing and the flow of the story to be flawless (I know, I always thought that there’s no such thing - but then again, that’s just me). This book will purposely explain the things you will need to know to be in the loop but the author knew when to hold and give out a certain information so as to give you a chance to wonder and keep reading for more. So, there's room for guessing and proving that you're a bad guesser - well, that's just me again."

Sorry, but praise like that makes part of me blush and say "Aw shucks," while another part wants to shout it from the rooftops. Anyway, what all this comes down to is just that it's nice to be recognized. Sometimes it seems like the recognition comes all too slowly, which can raise doubts about how good your book is. Feedback like this restores my faith. Thanks Ara.

This review also came at a good time, because not much has been happening over the summer in terms of promotion or sales. I'm looking forward to resuming school visits later this year. Talking to the kids about writing, my book, and getting their feedback is the greatest morale boost you can get. I'm looking forward to getting out there and seeing everyone soon!

Oh yeah, you're probably wondering how things went on the writing front this week. I fell short of my weekly goal of 2,000. I only wrote 1,400. I'm at about 44,400 words for The Deliverers 2 so far--197 pages. Eric & Co. have run into someone that can help them, but I'm not sure if it's a little too coincidental or not. That kind of slowed me down, and I still don't have it entirely resolved in my head.

For now, I'm going to just power through and head on toward the climax and resolution. I want to get the first draft done by the middle of October. I'll save the final decision on this latest development for the editing and rewrite stage.

Oh my, I've rambled on quite a bit. Oh well. All in all it was a great week. Check back here next week. Depending how things work out, I may have a wonderful development to tell you about!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What's Christian Reading? How to Steal a Dragon's Sword

Christian has been reading all about dragons this week--specifically, How to Steal a Dragon's Sword by Cressida Cowell. This is book 9 in the How to Train Your Dragon series. Let's see what Christian had to say about it.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"It is about a boy named Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third who has been waiting a year for a dragon rebellion to come. A whole bunch of dragons come to attack the Archipelago where he lives. The only one who can stop them is Hiccup.

"A witch tells them that they need a new king and that they have to find some of the king's things to defeat the dragons. Hiccup needs to find them to defeat the dragons, but he needs help. He also has to find the king's crown.

"Will they find everything in time? Will they defeat the dragons? You have to read the book--I won't tell you"

What did Christian like best about the book?

"The ending--but I can't tell you about that."

Was there anything Christian didn't like?

"I didn't like the witch, Excellinor. She wasn't nice"

So, how would Christian rate How to Steal a Dragon's Sword by Cressida Cowell?

He gives it four out of five flaming monkey heads.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Did You Know? Mother Goose

Yesterday, I chatted a little with the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, so today, I thought it would be fun to find out a little about Mother Goose. So that's what this week's Did You Know? is about. Without further ado, here are this week's facts.

Did You Know...
  • The earliest written version of the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe appeared in 1794?
  • In the earlier versions, the old lady whipped her children soundly and sent them to bed? Ouch!
  • Some speculation, although no hard proof, that the identity of the old woman in the rhyme is Queen Caroline, the wife of King George II? She had eight children.
  • In England, Mother Goose was a generic term to describe a country woman?
  • No specific writer has been identified as the creator of the Mother Goose nursery rhymes?
  • The first tale attributed to Mother Goose appeared as early as 1650?
  •  Some scholars believed that Mother Goose lived in Boston in the late 1600's and was the wife of Isaac Goose? This line of thought is generally discounted today.
  • In 1695, Charles Perrault published a collection of Mother Goose fairy tales? These were the first collection of fairy tales attributed to Mother Goose.
  • In 1791 John Newbery published a book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes? This became the prevailing Mother Goose association until recently.
Fun stuff. Now here's a little video from Sesame Street in which Kermit the Frog meets the old woman and a couple of other people in her neighborhood.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Interview Series: The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe

Happy Labor Day, everybody! I hope you're all enjoying the "last" day of summer. Christian and Abigail are all set to start school tomorrow. Today we had a cookout, and a fire in the fire oit with burgers, hot dogs and s'mores, yum!

Since it's Labor Day, I figured it would be good to talk to someone who is constantly working--the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. After all, she has so many children she doesn't know what to do. Let's find out what she thinks of Labor Day and back to school.

Greg:  Thanks for taking time out to chat with us. I know you've got an extremely busy schedule.

Old Lady:  Yes, well, I just got the last one down to bed. Now I have about two minutes to chat before I start the laundry.

Greg:  Okay, I'll try to make this quick. How many children do you have, exactly?

Old Lady:  So many that I don't know what to do. To be perfectly frank, I lost count at 30, and that was quite a while ago.

Greg:  Wow. Did you give birth to all of them?

Old Lady:  No, unlike that woman down south who has 19 and is still counting, I did not. I adopted most of my little darlings. There are plenty enough young ones in the world without homes. So, I decided to open mine to as many as possible.

Greg:  Well, I must say that is very admirable. However, a shoe?

Old Lady:  Be it ever so humble, it's still a good home, and I have yet to hear any of the children complain. Still, I have to admit that it does get a bit cramped at times. Why only the other day I was speaking with Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater about renting out his pumpkin shell, but he's still got his wife in there. He keeps her very well in it, so much so that now she won't come out, so that possibility has been cut off.

Greg:  How do you manage to keep the shoe so clean. Where do you find the time?

Old Lady:  Well, you have to make the time, dear. Recently, my neighbor, the farmer in the dell, he replaced my laces with some lovely Velcro. It make it much quicker and easier to give the entire place a thorough airing out. You know how shoes can be--Odor Eaters just don't cut it honey.

Greg:  Well, that will certainly open the place up. Do your children help you?