Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Favorite Books: The Hardy Boys-Shore Road Mystery

When I was a kid of about eight or nine, there were certain things that my world revolved around--the Dodgers & Dolphins, G.I. Joes, Matchbox & Hotwheels, baseball & football cards, bike riding, Bill Cosby comedy records, and books.

I read all kinds of books, but one series that really grabbed my attention was The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon. They led a really cool life. These were high schoolers Frank and Joe Hardy, sons of the great internationally famous detective Fenton Hardy, who were always stumbling upon mystery and intrigue in their own back yard.

The Shore Road Mystery is the sixth book in the series, but the first one I ever read. I really loved it. There were Frank and Joe riding their motorcycles (motorcycles--way cooler than my bike!) down Shore Road, overlooking the ocean. They get a report over their radio that a car has been stolen (you can see the radio on the cover). They have a short wave radio on their motorcycle? Wow, these guys were cool. I definitely wanted to hang with them!

That was all it took. I was hooked! They were cool. Everyone is stumped by the car thieves. Frank and Joe come up with a simple plan to catch the thieves. They buy this cool looking roadster as bait. Wow, these guys can afford to buy a car?! How awesome is that?

The Hardys have a friend named Chet. As a kid, I could relate to Chet. He didn't have a famous father, he couldn't afford to buy a roadster (what exactly was a roadster, anyway?), he was a little pudgy and awkward, and slightly timid. But he always tried his best to help the Hardys out, although he usually got left behind or messed up in some way. In spite of that, he always managed to help solve the crime--usually through a hobby he was into at the time. It was uncanny how the hobby related to that book's particular mystery. In The Shore Road Mystery, his interest in plant biology led the Hardys to an important discovery. I think these coincidences were lost on me as a kid, but it sure was entertaining.

What I didn't know at the time was that the original version of the book was written in 1928 (hence the reference to a roadster) by Leslie McFarlane. Franklin W. Dixon was his pen name. The series was repackaged and revised over 30 years later. Nevertheless, kids in my neighborhood--and many others--loved it. The Nancy Drew series was also out there, but I never paid it much attention because it featured a girl, and I knew that no girl could be as cool as the Hardy Boys. I learned otherwise a few years later!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Did You Know? Mary Poppins

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of speaking with Mary Poppins. Today in Did You Know? we'll be checking out some little known facts about the Mary Poppins series of books by P.L. Travers. Let's seee what we've got here...

Did you know...
  • The first book, Mary Poppins, was published in 1934 and thee final book, Mary Poppins and the House Next Door was published in 1988? Overall, there were eight Mary Poppins books published in that 54 year period, all written by P.L. Travers.
  • Jane and Michael Banks had two other siblings? In the books, younger twins John and Barbara share in the adventures. They were left out of the Disney film.
  • The Disney film version depicted selected events from the first four Mary Poppins books?
  • Bert the chimney sweep was also a compilation of several characters in those first four books?
  • P.L. Travers was approached by Walt Disney about making a film version of Mary Poppins as early as 1938? She did not think that a film would do the book justice. She finally relented and agreed to a film version in 1961.
  • P.L. Travers' real name was Helen Lyndon Goff? She was an actress in her younger days and adopted the Travers name as her stage name.
  • P.L. stands for Pamela Lyndon?
  • She admired Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrrie?
  • P.L. Travers did not care for the Disney adaptation, particularly the animation sequences?
  • Although she never married, she adopted a baby boy from Ireland?
Although Ms. Travers disliked the Disney film and animation, I happen to really like it. So, with all due respect to her, here is a classic clip from the film:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Mary Poppins

With the east coast currently feeling the wrath of hurricane Sandy, I was at loose ends to secure an interview this week. I mean, between trips to the store for bottled water, charging up cell phones, laptops and sundry other devices, and securing everything in the yard, who had time? I hope everyone is riding out the storm safely. If the storm has hit your area, please stay safe indoors!

Luckily, the wind blew at least a little good fortune my way. Mary Poppins dropped in to save my bacon and have a chat. It was a practically perfect bit of serendipity!

 Greg:  Welcome Mary! Thank you so much for coming by. Your timing was perfect.

Mary:  Naturally. I must say, what a perfectly blustery day it is. I haven't seen such wind since Bert the chimney sweep overdid it on the chutney at my Uncle Albert's. Frightful!

Greg:  Yes, well this weather has been frightful for many people around here. But let's forget about that for a while. Tell us all a little bit about your charges at number 17, Cherry Tree Lane.

Mary:  The Banks? Marvelous family, simply marvelous! Mind you, they were in a frightful state when I first encountered them.

Greg:  Really? What was the matter?

Mary:  Well, where to start? The head of the family, Mr. George Banks, was positively too involved with work. He never had any time for his family. His wife, Winifred, had absolutely no head for managing a household. I don't know how they made it as far as they did before I came along.

Greg:  What about the children?

Mary:  I'm afraid the children, Jane and Michael, were in the worst state of all. They were always acting up. They went through so many nannies trying to get their parents' attention that they had developed quite a nasty reputation among London's domestic class.

Naturally, it was only a matter of time before they came to my attention, and I had to take matters into my own hands.

Greg:  It sounds just like calling in the Marines, or maybe the paratroopers.

Mary:  Quite so. I descended on them with the East Wind. Naturally, the parents put up a little bit of a fuss, but I managed to maneuver around them quite nicely. Grownups can be a frightful bore without even putting their minds to it, and I must say that those two put half a mind to it at least. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but it sounds good.

However, Jane and Michael were another story. Children are frightfully clever, and no one gives them any credit in that regard, or just about any other for that matter. They were veterans of thee Nanny Wars, and were determined not to surrender. I knew perfectly well what was going on in their little heads, so I laid the cards on thee table, spit spot. 

Greg:  What did you do?

I started pulling all sorts of things out of my carpet bag. That got their attention. It told them that here was someone out of the ordinary who was not to be trifled with. Thee next step was to alter their way of thinking. They looked at work as, well, work. I taught them to make a game out of it. That way, they got their work done and had a bit of fun at the same time.

Of course Bert was a big help. He can be very charming when he wants to be.

Greg:  Bert? Oh yes, good-natured, jack of all trades chap. What's the story with you two? In the film, it looked like sparks were flying.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Writer's Week #42: Good Stuff

It was another good week. Things continue to move forward on all fronts, and I'm looking forward to seeing these projects come to fruition. The big news this week is audio book related. So far, I've received the first 11 chapters of the book. It's really sounding great, and Jimm Singer's doing a fantastic job!

Cover for the audio book version of Sharky and the Jewel
I also received the newly formatted cover for the audio book from graphic designer Ana Vogel. Here it iis on the left. Unlike a book, the audio book cover has to be square, and you can't do that by just scrunching it down or slapping a border on either side of it.

Ana did a fantastic job of retaining all the elements of the original book cover. I think I can also use this for some other things. It gives me everything in a more compact package.

I continue to make progress on the editing of The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion. It's been smooth going so far, but I'm getting to a point in the book where changes will have to be made to reflect new ideas that came along as the book grew. The next week looks to be a little more challenging.

Meanwhile, over the past weekend, I managed to find time to film and edit an interview with myself. I've been to a bunch of author websites, and was really taken with some of the author interviews that I saw on some of them. I thought, hey, I could do that. So I gave it a shot. While not strictly professional grade, I have to say it turned out rather nicely, despite the repeated hemming and hawing of the interviewee! Here it is:

Oh yes, one more thing. I'm going to be selling my book at the annual Run For the Turkeys in New Fairfield, CT on Sunday November 18th. Contrary to what you might think, I am not the turkey who will be running. Actually, it's an annual road race sponsored by the town I live in. They were nice enough to let me set up shop, so if you're in the area, stop on by to say hi.

So this week held a lot of good stuff. I'll let you know how things are going and if Hurricane Sandy puts a crimp in things next week!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Favorite Books: The American Heritage History of the Civil War

It's been a while since I wrote about some of my favorite books when I was growing up, so I thought it was time for me to share another one with you. When it comes to reading, my favorite subjects have always been fantasy (middle grade, YA and adult), science fiction, sports history, history (American Revolution, Civil War & WWII), historical fiction, and biographies.

I was exposed to these genres and others at my local library. I first came across The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War at the library, and fell in love with it. I checked it out over and over again when I was 10 or 11. I pored over the pictures, maps and illustrations which brought the Civil War to life. Bruce Catton's narrative (he wasn't credited as an author because it was a picture history) also made the times and circumstances come to life vividly.

This book was huge to me at that age. It was a real coffee table book. It was a hardcover with over 600 pages. I really loved the paintings of the battles, and the diagrams of the battles were paintings of scenes themselves. Today, these diagrams look to me like screen shots of computer war games--very ahead of their time. Anyhow, this book really captured my imagination and made the history come alive.

I loved so much, that I managed to scrimp and save my pennies, forgoing the purchase of baseball and football cards, so that I could purchase a copy of the book. I could not find it in a bookstore, so I actually ordered it from the publisher. I came in the mail or UPS or whatever, and I was so excited to get it. This was long before the days of Amazon and ordering online (yes, my children, I know that this must be an inconceivable concept)!

I still have the book today. The price on the dust jacket is $24.95, which was quite a princely sum back in the mid-1970's. I must have saved for quite a while, or else I had some long forgotten parental help. Hmmm, have to ask mom about that one of these days.

Maybe one day, you can go to your library and see if they have a copy of this venerable classic. Then you could check it out and see what I mean. If you're not into history, go to the library anyway, and check out whatever tickles your fancy. Remember, before the Internet and Amazon, and Kindles, there was the library. Check it out!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Did You Know? The Adventures of Pinocchio

After our interview with Pinocchio yesterday, I decided to see what kind of fun facts I could find out about him and author Carlo Collodi. So, here's what I found.

Did You Know...
  • Pinocchio was written by Italian author Carlo Collodi?
  • It was released in serial form between 1881 & 1882, then published as a children's book in 1883?
  • The story is set in the Tuscan region of Italy?
  • In the story, Pinocchio starts out as a talking block of wood?
  • In the original story, Pinocchio is hanged? Collodi later added to the story. The Fairy with Turquoise Hair rescues him and turns him into a real boy.
  • Pinocchio actually kills the talking cricket in the original story? He accidentally kills him with a hammer. The cricket returns later to rebuke Pinocchio about his behavior.
  • The story was translated into English in 1892, two years after Collodi's death?
  • Geppetto is a nickname for Giuseppe?
  • Over 14 films have been made based on the story?
Here's a bit from one of those films, Disney's 1940 version:

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Pinocchio

Today, I have the great pleasure to interview another beloved character from children's literature--Pinocchio.  We actually had a tense moment here at The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters when we had to rescue the world's most famous wooden boy from a flock of woodpeckers. Luckily we were able to shoo them off, and Pinocchio was unscathed. So, let's see what our young friend has to share with us.

Greg:  Sorry about those birds. I can't understand it.

Pinocchio:  No worries, it happens all the time. I guess it's just a life hazard.

Greg:  All the same, I'm embarrassed that you had that little mishap on our doorstep. Now, I have to ask, are you the traditional Pinocchio, or the Disney version?

Pinocchio:  Huh? What do you mean?

Greg:  The original Pinocchio came to a bad end, the Disney Pinocchio came out okay in the end.

Pinocchio:  Oh, well then I'm the Disney version. After all, I'm an animated wooden toy. Ha! Get it? Not bad for a blockhead!

Greg:  Very funny. You have a future in show business. 

Pinocchio:  I was once on the stage, but it wasn't a very happy time for me. I spent most of my time in a cage. I've had a number of experiences in my short life, most of them unpleasant. 

Greg:  Care to talk about it?

Pinocchio:  You sound like my conscience, Jiminy Cricket. He's big on talking things out. Sure, I can talk. I was led astray by a fox named Honest John and his cat friend, Gideon the cat. I wound up in some rundown sideshow. I begged the Blue Fairy for help, but I wound up lying to her, and my nose grew real big, so she was no help. Jiminy bailed me out of that one. Jiminy was all for going home after that, but I foolishly gave him the slip.

Greg:  That doesn't sound like a very wise decision. What happened?

Pinocchio:  I wound up falling in with more undesirable companions. This time, I thought I was headed to a great playland with some other kids. They carted us off to this island, and it was fun at first. We were able to do all sorts of things we weren't allowed to. Then, things got freaky. Everyone-all the kids, I mean-started turning into donkeys. That was weird, but then I started turning into one, too.

Greg:  Hmmm, might be a lesson in that somewhere, don't you think?

Pinocchio:  Boy, now you're sounding like Jiminy again. Yeah, there was a lesson--when kids all around you are turning into donkeys, it's time to get going. I got off that island as fast as I could, and went home. But guess what? My father, Geppetto, had gone out to rescue me, and had been swallowed by a giant whale.

I went out to rescue him, but I wound up getting eaten as well. It turned out to be a lucky thing, because I lit a fire in the whale's belly and he coughed us up real quick. Have you ever been regurgitated by a whale? It's gross.

But anyway, we were out of there. We managed to drift to shore, so the story has a happy ending. Now, I'm a real live flesh and blood boy, and Jiminy is a full-fledged conscience, so everything turned out okay.

Greg:  I'm very pleased to hear it. One thing puzzles me, though. If you're a flesh and blood boy now, why were the woodpeckers attacking you?

Pinocchio:  Oh, well I may be a flesh and blood boy, but I'm still kind of a blockhead. Woodpeckers can spot that a mile away!

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Writer's Week #41: Not So Slow After All

Well, this week has turned out to be rather busy. After finishing the first draft of The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion, last week, I was anticipating that this week would give me a chance to sit back and relax a little bit. When I write something, I usually leave it for a week or two before jumping in to edit it. I find it gives me a little bit of perspective to step away for a little bit.

So I haven't really started editing it yet. But I still wound up doing something this week. I rewrote the first chapter. Totally redid it. What is it about first chapters and me? I wound up totally rewriting the first chapter of Sharky and the Jewel not once, but twice. Having said that, I think the new chapter gets the book off to a great start. The reason I had to rewrite it, was that the premise of what upsets Eric changed over the course of the book.

Narrator Jimm Singer
The audio book is coming along, too. Jimm Singer sent me the first four chapters of Sharky and the Jewel to listen to. It sounds fantastic. Jimm is so great at doing all the voices. Chapter four is particularly challenging for a narrator, because there are not less thann ten characters to voice in the chapter. Jimm did a tremendous job with it--totally blew me away with his skill at doing all those characters in quick succession. This audio book is shaping up as being quite a treat. I can't wait to give you a little preview in the coming weeks! Stay tuned.

I have also been in contact with illustrator Daniel Vogel, and we chatted about a concept for the cover art for Order of the Crystal Lion. Yesterday, he sent me a conceptual sketch of the cover. I really liked it. I think the cover is going to turn out really great.

As you can see, it wound up being quite a busy week after all. Now I can get down to the business of editing the book. All told, I'm still on track to release the book by late February or early March. I'll update you on how everything is going next week!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What's Marissa Reading? The Outsiders

Marissa is here to talk to you about a really exciting book that she's been reading, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. It's really great to see children and young adults who love reading as much as the members of the Reading Crew! It's true--a good book expands your world.

Here's what Marissa says the book is about.

"It's the 1960's in Oklahoma and right now there are two types of social classes. You are a Soc if you have money, a tuff (cool) car, and a future. You are a Greaser if you live in the hood and almost everyone, especially Soc's, hate you. In this book a boy named Ponyboy and his gang, Dallas Winston, Johnny Cade, Two-Bit, Steve, and his brothers Sodapop and Darrel are always together...and getting into trouble. On one night Ponyboy and Johnny get into some real trouble and are on the run from the fuzz. Their adventure is thrilling and leaves you on the edge of your seat encouraging you to keep reading, I love it!!!"

What did Marissa like best about the book?

"I liked how the Greasers weren't afraid to throw around their title and show who they are even if it does mean getting nearly killed. I also liked when the Greasers and Socs got together for a big fight, the rumble. Plus I think it's cool how S.E Hinton wrote the book when she was 15 and 16!"

Was there anything about the book that Marissa didn't like?

"I didn't like how the Socs got into a lot of trouble with the Greasers just because they were drunk. I also didn't like how at the end Ponyboy let his grades slip so  Darry got mad at him and that made Sodapop really  mad."
So, how did Marissa rate The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton.

She gave it five out of five baby giraffes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

One Year Ago Today...

Today marks a special anniversary for me. A year ago today, I started The Deliverers blog. I really can't believe a year has gone by already. Where does the time go? When I first started the blog, I could not imagine what I was going to write about. I just wanted to get the word out about The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel, which hadn't even been published yet.

It all started with a post about the cover artwork for the new book that I had just received. I soon realized that writing exclusively about the new book alone would not only be boring for you, but would not give me enough material  to sustain a fully realized blog. After a few false starts I was able to come up with some regular features that included some thoughts on books from my children, insights into the process of writing The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion, and some fun and funny interviews with characters from children's literature and fairy tales.

Along the way, I met a bunch of great people and made some great friends. Thanks to all of you who have shown me such kindness and given me so much support! I've really got to thank Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson of The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. They were the first to comment on the blog. I nearly keeled over when they left their first comment--someone was out there! Since then, they've been nothing but supportive and I consider them good friends. Others have followed and been very supportive, too. Thanks to you all.

The blog has become less a means for promoting my book (although I still do that from time to time), and more a means for sharing what I'm doing writing-wise and just having fun. I love doing those interviews, it gets my creative juices flowing and gives me a chance to be silly.

Now that I've got a year under my belt, my thoughts are turning to the year ahead. What lies in store? I'll be sitting down soon to think up a new regular post to freshen things up. I'd like to do something that appeals to writers, but I'm not sure what. I'll have to think on that some more. On the writing/book side of things, the audio book version of The Deliverers should be out before the end of the year, and the second book in the series will be coming out in early 2013. I'm also planning on launching an author's website in the not too distant future. With all that in the works, the coming year looks to be filled with exciting things. I hope you hang around and see what develops along with me.

Oh, I almost forgot. I'm having a Happy Birthday Giveaway to mark the blog's first anniversary. Click HERE to view the giveaway and enter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card. The giveaway runs until November 5th, which is the anniversary of the release of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Old King Cole

Today, I'm very honored to have the privilege to speak with an actual king. This is definitely a first for The Deliverers blog.  How exciting! This king is also by far the merriest soul that we've had the pleasure to interview, at least that's his reputation. I'm talking, of course, about Old King Cole.

Greg:  Good evening, Your Highness, I must say what a great honor it is to have the chance to interview you.

King Cole:  You're right, it is an honor for you. But thanks for inviting me. It gives me a chance to get out of the castle for once.

Greg:  Well, glad we could help out. Um, forgive my asking, but are you well? 

King Cole:  I'm perfectly fine. Why do you ask?

Greg:  Oh, no reason really. It's just that you don't look as merry as I thought you would. As a matter of fact, you look positively glum.

King Cole:  Oh that. People often make that mistake. Since that nursery rhyme came out, everyone expects me to be merry and jolly all the time. 

Greg:  Well, you are Old King Cole who's a merry old soul...

King Cole:  And a merry old soul was he. Yes, yes I know the rhyme as well as the next person, but it's extremely misleading. I mean, life's not all pipes and bowls and a trio of fiddlers, is it? People forget that I've got a kingdom to run, and that's no day at the beach I can tell you.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Giveaway

In just a couple of days, The Deliverers' blog will be celebrating its first birthday. It does not seem possible that I've been blogging for a year. I've really had a great time, and I've made a lot of wonderful friends. Thank you all for your friendship, encouragement, and support!

I wanted to do something special to celebrate, but what? Well, what better way to celebrate than by holding a giveaway?  But what to give away? Usually, when I have a giveaway, I give a $25 Amazon gift card. But, with the first anniversary of the blog coming up on October 16, and the first anniversary of the release of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel coming up on November 5th, I had to think big. Then, it came to me--why not double the prize?

So, I'll be giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky winner! The Happy Birthday Giveaway will run from today until the end of November 5th. Here's how you can enter:

  • Like The Deliverers paperback on Amazon--3 points
  • Like The Deliverers Kindle version on Amazon--3 points
  • Follow The Deliverers' blog--2 points
  • Follow me at @GregDeliverers on Twitter--2 points
  • Purchase The Deliverers on Amazon (paperback or Kindle version)--10 points
Now, here's something pretty cool. If you enter the giveaway by purchasing the book, your name will be listed on a special Supporter Thank You Page in the upcoming sequel to The Deliverers, The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion, which is due out in March, 2013. I figured that if you're going to go the extra mile and buy the book, I should officially recognize your support.

So, enter today, and best of luck to all of you!

FYI. I've been having trouble with Rafflecopter in Internet Explorer, and it seems to be happening again. If you can't view the Rafflecopter widget, then either trying viewing this page using Google Chrome, or click HERE to go to the widget right at the book's Facebook page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Writer's Week #40: Crossing the Finish Line

Earlier this year I likened the writing of a novel to the running of a marathon. You need a lot of endurance. Sometimes you don't think you'll be able to make the finish line.

Well, earlier this week, I finished my marathon. I finally completed the first draft of The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion. I have to admit that it was something I was beginning to think wouldn't happen. If you've been following this blog, and my A Writer's Week posts, you'll know that I had hoped to have the book finished every week for the past few weeks or so.

I almost didn't make it this week, either. It took a grand total of 7,500 words in four days to get the book finished. It was by far my most prolific writing week in this whole process. When I started, I thought it would only take 3,000 words or so, but it didn't turn out that way. Once I'd decided that I had to finish the book this week, then I found I was really locked in, cranking out almost 2,000 (my usual weekly goal!) a day.

So now the book is complete, and the rewriting/editing phase begins. I started that today by beginning the rewrite of chapter one. I need to change it because I thought of something better about halfway through the book, but didn't bother to go back and do anything about it until now. I'm looking forward to editing the rest.

For those of you keeping score at home, here are the final stats for the first draft: 60, 250 words, 65 chapters and 264 pages. I suppose that's why I kept underestimating the time it would take to complete the book. I had originally thought it would only be about 50,000 words--who knew!

With my writing frenzy this week, I didn't have any time for other marketing activities. Oh wait, I take that back. I've got my own writer's page on Linkedin. Here's the address: Check it out when you have a chance.

On the audio book front, I haven't heard any more chapters yet, but Jimm Singer has been working hard, and says I'll have some more chapters to review soon . I really can't wait. If I receive them this week, I'll be sure to tell you all about it next week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Jack, But Not the Beanstalk

Today, I'm talking to someone who's really getting up in the world. He's a small-time farmer who wound up making the deal of the century, although his dreams nearly came crashing down. i'm talking of course about Jack of Jack & the Beanstalk fame. Let's see what this social climber has to say.

Greg:  Welcome, Jack. Nice of you to drop in. How is everything?

Jack:  Oh fair t' middlin', fair t' middlin', squire. Nice t' see ya.

Greg:  I understand you've had some exciting times recently. I was hoping you could tell us a little bit about what's been going on.

Jack:  Goin' on? What're you on about? There ain't been nothin' goin' on, squire.

Greg:  Oh, really? I'm terribly sorry, but I was led to believe that you had some exciting times that led you a sudden rise in your fortunes recently. I just wanted to congratulate you and see if you could elaborate a little for the benefit of our readers.

Jack:  Oh aye? Well if that's all ya want t' know, I think I can oblige. Although, I'm not sure that you're goin' t' believe it.

Greg:  My, that sounds intriguing. What wouldn't we believe?

Jack:  Well, I'll tell you. You see, me and me mum used t' live in this rundown old farmhouse on land what was pretty much played out, if you take my meanin'. The only thing on the place that was the least bit productive was our old cow.

She were a bonny old thing. I'm talking' 'bout the cow, mind. Mum were a little scary. Any road, one day the old bag o' bones--that's the cow, not mum--stopped givin' milk. Well, mum up an' tells me t' take her down t' the market--the cow, not her--an' sell her so's we can have a little bit o' cash t' tide us over.

Greg:  Well, I suppose that's reasonable. Get rid of an asset that's goin' south and cash in on it while you can. She's not a banker by any chance is she?

Jack:  Nay, though I daresay we'd a been better off if she were. So, what could I do but take ol' bossy--that's the cow--into market to sell her. Only thing is, I didn't make it into town. See, what happened was, some ol' bloke I met on the road made an offer before I even got there. He offered me--are you ready for this--he offered me a handful o' beans.

Greg:  Beans? That doesn't sound like a fair trade.

Jack:  Ah, but this is where things get interestin'. He says they ain't just any beans, they's magic beans. Well, what could I do? I mean, how many times does a lad get offered magic beans in a trade, I ask ya? Well, I ain't no fool. I took 'em before he had a chance t' change his mind. Handed the cow right over quick as ya please, and was off home.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Writer's Week #39: Moving Right Along

Well hello there everyone. I hope you're all well as we find ourselves squarely in the fall season. For many of us, temperatures and leaves are falling, and some are even seeing (shudder) snow! For me, even though the seasons are changing, one thing seems to remain constant--I'm still writing The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion.

Chazum Warrior Sketch
I was hoping the first draft would be finished by now, but the ending is unfolding a little differently that what I had originally envisioned, with a couple little unexpected plot twists and turns. I believe this is good, but won't be sure until I go back and read it all after I've finished the first draft. The immediate result is that it's taken me a little longer to finish than I thought. The good thing is that I'm not stuck, and everything is moving right along.

That really seems to be this week's writing theme. Everything in Deliverers Land is moving forward, which is good. I managed to write 2,600 words this week. This brings the total word count up to 52,800 words, 57 chapters and 232 pages. So, the book is going to be drawing to a close within a couple of weeks. I know I keep saying that, but eventually it will happen, right?

Anyway, Daniel Vogel, the young artist who did the map and cover for The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel recently sent me a conceptual sketch of a Chazum warrior from the new book. It looks pretty good. These guys are great. They're people who have had lion genes spliced into their DNA--against their will. This makes them well suited to be fighters. The rest of their society, called the Vynistri, looks down on them as less than human. Of course they're not, and that forms part of the problem that Eric and company are sent to address.

On another front, the audio book version of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel is also moving right along. This week, voice actor Jimm Singer uploaded the first finished 18 minutes of the audio book on to ACX. It really sounds fantastic. This is the first step on the road to completing the audio book.

The next milestone is the entire book. The due date for that is mid-November. In between now and then, Jimm and I will be communicating back and forth as he sends me rough chapters to get my feedback. I'm really excited to hear his interpretation of the characters. I've heard all four of The Deliverers from his audition, and you're really going to love them. In the coming month I'll be bringing you a couple snippets to listen to. Toward the end of this month I'll be doing a first for this blog--a podcast interview with Jimm Singer.

Now in honor of the fact that I'm moving forward with these projects, here's a fun song from the original Muppet Movie entitled (no surprise) Moving Right Along.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What's Marissa Reading? You Have to Stop This

Marissa's back for the first time since I was away on vacation in August (seems so long ago). If you remember, she gave her thoughts on four of the books in the Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch. Today, she's back to talk about the fifth book in the series, You Have to Stop This. Let's see what she had to say.

Here's what Marissa says the book is about.

"While on a field trip to the Natural History museum Cass, Max-Ernest, and Yoji decide to sneak off to go look at a special mummy. But when they get surprised by a security guard, Cass accidentally breaks off the priceless mummy's finger! To pay for the damage, they have to work sorting through artifacts at the museum, but in their off time they make a major discovery. 

"Cass, Max-Ernest, and Yoji believe the mummy is actually the alchemist who discovered the Secret. In their quest to see if this is true they get shipped half way across the country to Las Vegas in wooden crates where they soon discover that Lord Pharoh, an evil alchemist who also strives to learn the Secret, is there plotting his revenge. While Cass is trying to learn the Secret, as the Secret Keeper, some crazy things happen which I am not going to reveal."

What did Marissa like best about the book?

"I liked the part when Cass discovered the Secret but was disappointed. And also when she figured out the true meaning of the Secret."

Was there anything that Marissa did not like?

"I didn't like how Cass always blamed Max-Ernest for every little thing that went wrong, it was annoying."

So, how did Marissa rate You Have to Stop This, by Pseudonymous Bosch?

She gave it five out of five baby giraffes.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Did You Know? Louisa May Alcott

After my fascinating conversation with Jo March yesterday, I thought it would be fun to go in search of some fun facts related to the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. Here's what I was able to find out.

Did You Know...

  • Little Women was published in two volumes? The first, Little Women, was published in 1868, and the second, Little Wives, was published in 1869.
  • The book was one of the first novels to portray women as independent and strong-minded? It's views were decades ahead of its time.
  •  Little Women was popular with women of many different social backgrounds because there was something in there that everyone could relate to?
  • The book opened up a new market of young women and girl readers?
  • Growing up in New England, Louisa May Alcott and her family were transcendentalists? They rubbed elbows with folks like Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau.
  • When she first started writing, she used the pen name of A.M. Barnard?
  • During the Civil War, she spent six weeks as a nurse in a field hospital in Washington?
  • The character of Jo is based on Louisa May Alcott?
  • While serving in the field hospital during the war, she contracted typhoid fever?
  • She died in 1888 at the age of 55, just two days after her father?

Interesting stuff, that. Now, here's the trailer from the 1994 film version of Little Women. I have to admit that I love this movie--there's so much great stuff going on, and it's very well done!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Interview Series: Jo March

Today I have a special treat for you. I've been able to get in touch with one of the darlings of children's literature, and she's graciously agreed to spend some time with us. So, without further ado let's take a minute to chat with Little Women's Jo March.

Greg:  Hello Jo. Thanks for agreeing to talk with us.

Jo:  It's my pleasure. I enjoy sitting of an evening and talking with friends and family.

Greg:  Yes, it's something that's not done often enough these days. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your friends and family. How are they doing these days?

Jo:  Oh fine, fine. I must say that the family is growing by leaps and bounds, and everyone is fit and well, thankfully. Marmee and Papa are well and quite contented now that Papa is home and the war is over. 

Greg:  It's good to hear they are well. What news do you have of your sisters? 

Jo:  Oh they are fine. Meg and John are doing well, and the twins, Daisy and Demi, are flourishing. John's work as a tutor keeps him quite busy. At times I fear that Meg is left overlong with the twins on her own. They can be very demanding, and at times things get tedious for her. She bears it well, though. After all, it is what is expected of her.

Greg:  Still, it sounds like she could use a break every now and again. Does anyone ever give her a hand?

Jo:  We all help out from time to time, but I am afraid she is left on her own to cope more often than not.

Greg: And what of your youngest sister, Amy?

Jo:  She is married now, did you not know? You'll never guess who to! Well, our Aunt March took her abroad to paint and attend to her. And who do you suppose she met over there? Why  none other than our own dear, sweet Laurie! He was in Europe studying abroad. It was a happy coincidence that they should meet so far from home.

A few years had passed and they had much changed in each other's eyes. Well, shortly after, after Beth died, Amy came home with Laurie at her side and they were married! Everyone was mush surprised, but we were happy that Amy had married someone of such fine character. Thee fact that he was so well to do was not unappreciated, either.

Greg:  Oh how lovely. That brings me to Beth. I know that it must be hard for you to speak of her, but I was hoping you could share some of your fondest memories of her.

Jo:  It is not hard for me to think of her. In fact, I think of her every day, and always my heart is lightened when I think of her. She was with us for only a relatively short time, but she is at the root of all my fondest memories of home and growing up. In fact at times, the two--home and Beth--are indistinguishable in my memory.

I think my fondest memories are of her playing the piano and acting in our little plays up beneath the eaves in the attic. She loved her cats and her dolls. Sometimes I almost envy Beth, for she will remain young for all time, while we will age and eventually fade away.

Greg:  Hmmm, interesting observation. And how is your life faring, if I may ask?

Jo:  My book is selling above and beyond my expectations. So much so, in fact, that I must admit that my publishers have requested another manuscript, which I am endeavoring to finish as soon as may be.

Of course, I am hard pressed for writing time what with taking care of my nephews Franz and Emil, and our two sons, Rob and Teddy. My husband, Friedrich, is a wonderful teacher. It was he who encouraged me to address serious matters in my writing. I never thought I could ever feel toward someone what I feel for him.

Greg:  That's great. I'm glad that everything is going so well. Thanks for stopping by and giving us an update.

Jo:  Life keeps moving along. Old memories mix with new, weaving a tapestry that we can wrap around us like a warm quilt to see us through  cold, lean times. I have really enjoyed talking with you as well, sir. Good day to you.