Friday, June 28, 2013

A Writer's Week #75: The Characters Show the Way

We've reached the end of another busy work/writer's week. It was pretty hectic, but also satisfying. I apologize for not posting Wednesday. It was my daughter's ninth birthday, and we were celebrating. The rest of the week was a blur as school came to an end and the kids leaped into summer with birthday (pool parties) and other fun activities.

In the midst of all this, I made some real progress on The Golden Dragon of Ang. While I only wrote 1,750 words, short of my 2,000 weekly goal, I turned a perplexing plot snag into something pretty cool. Eric & Co. were in a tight fix, but they had discovered a way to travel instantly to anywhere, provided they had something that came from the place they wanted to go. Luckily, someone had something from the island they wanted to get to. They arrived in the back of the shop of the silversmith who crafted the item.

That's where I came to a dead end. What were they going to do now? I really didn't know. I kept writing, and that's when the old silversmith showed up and started talking. I had to stop and mull things over. I did not have time to write for a couple of days. When I was able to sit down again, I still had no idea what this scene would contribute to the story. I began writing. As I wrote the old man began talking with the Deliverers. It was quite a conversation. In fact, the old man, Chenpo, kept right on talking. Again, I began to worry. What was this adding to the story? Would I have to trash the whole scene??

As I wrote, the old man revealed more about himself. Then it happened. Kate made an offhand
remark, and Chenpo finally earned his keep by providing some critical information. The scene instantly became relevant. This was one of those situations where the characters took over and sorted out the situation on their own.

All in all, it was a very satisfying feeling to have a scene work itself out just as I was ready to junk it. The book is now up to 42,500 words, 43 chapters and 187 pages.

I heard from illustrator Daniel Vogel this week, and he's fine tuning one of the illustrations for Order of the Crystal Lion. I know the book is taking longer to release than anticipated, but I promise you it will be worth the wait. I should have the completed layout and illustrations soon, then it will go to the publisher. I'll let you know when we have some progress, hopefully next week. Have a good one!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Between the Lines: The Cow That Jumped Over the Moon

Over the past couple of years, I've had the pleasure of interviewing some fantastic literary characters, but I don't think I've ever been more curious to speak with a guest than I am today. With all the talk lately of the Super Moon, I thought it would be appropriate. She performed one of the greatest feats in the history of nursery rhymes. Frankly, I have no clue as to how she accomplished it. I am talking, of course, about the Cow That Jumped Over the Moon.

Greg:  First off, thank you so much for taking time out from what must be an impossibly busy schedule to answer some questions for our readers.

Cow:  Not at all, my dear. Fire away! As a matter of fact things have been moooving along rather slowly of late. Not much happening, really apart from standing in a field all day eating grass. I do love grass. Terribly tasty.

Greg:  I'm sure it is. I think what everyone is dying to know is, why did you do it?

Cow:  Do what?

Greg:  Why, jump over the moon, of course.

Cow:  Oh that! My dear boy, that's nothing--just a bit of fun, really.

Greg:  A bit of fun?

Cow:  Yes, of course. I mean, one has to think up stunts of this sort just to keep one's brain from atrophying. If I stood around all day eating, they'd cart me off to the knacker yard in no time.

Greg:  Knacker yard?

Cow:  Slaughterhouse, dear. Not a pretty thought. But oh my, where were we?

Greg:  Well, you were going to tell me why you jumped over the moon.

Cow:  That's right, that's right. Do you see? That's what happens to your mind when you're standing about in a field all day. Ghastly. Well, I decided to jump over the moon--did you know cows are built for just such a feat?

Greg:  Er, they are?

Cow:  Oh my, yes. We have remarkably springy legs. Most people don't realize. Have you ever seen a cow go over a cliff? No? Well, you really should at least once. You would think it frightful, but it's really rather amazing. They bounce, you see. No, I'm not joking, they do.

I once saw a whole herd of Jerseys run straight off a cliff and bounce clear across the entire county. They all made perfect four hoof landings, too. Brilliant. Now, my cousin Herbert, he was a champion jumper in his time. Took the blue ribbon at the county fair five years running. Wound up as a rump roast.

Greg:  That's awful!

Cow:  Yes, well he had the last laugh. You see, when the farmer and his family tried to eat him, they couldn't stomach him. He was too rubbery. Ha! Sorry, just a little joke. Herbert's fine. They take good care of him. I didn't mean to be so crass, but I just couldn't resist!

Greg:  But what about your jump?

Cow:  Well you see, my jump was a bit different as I did it from a standing bounce. Mind you, it's not easy doing it like that, if I do say so myself. As a matter of fact, I never would have tried to do it at all if it hadn't been for all the strange goings on that particular night.

Greg:  What was happening?

Cow:  I was standing out in the field and dusk was coming on. The farmer was watching Monty Python's Flying Circus on the telly, and he'd lost track of time--otherwise I would have been in the barn by then. 

Suddenly, all heck broke loose. First this cat came by playing a fiddle. I'd never seen anything like that before. Between you and me, he wasn't very good. Now, I'll tell you something--here's where the rhyme got it wrong. I did not jump next. The little dog laughed at the cat, which really hurt his feelings, poor thing. Then, the dish ran away with the spoon. I knew they were sweet on each other, but I never thought they would take off like that. 

I was so surprised that I just jumped. What happened next caused some small degree of controversy. My hind hooves almost nicked the moon, you see. Some thought they did, but I cleared it cleanly. I've had a judge's ruling, so that fact has been officially verified. I have the certificate to prove it. I hope that puts to rest any controversy that might be out there.

Greg:  I should think so. It certainly was amazing in any case. This has been very illuminating. Thank you so much for stopping by Mrs., um Ms...

Cow:  It's Miss., thank you very much--Miss. Flossy Holstein, but you may call me Flo, all my friends do. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for All Creatures Great and Small. The farmer and I never miss it. Ta, Ta!

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Writer's Week #74: It's Summmmmeerrrrrr!!!!!

All right, before I go any farther I have to acknowledge that summer is finally here! I'm doing a little happy dance as I write this. I am so looking forward to summer this year. It's going to be great. I have to admit I don't usually get so excited about any change of season, but for some reason this year is different.

Part of my excitement could be due to the fact that the second book in the Deliverers Series, Order of the Crystal Lion, will be out next month! Another reason could be that my children still have a day and a half of school left (he, he). Still, I'm looking forward to spending some time with them when school finally does come to an end. They already had the sprinkler out and were getting soaked when I came home from work today.

Anyhow, I'll let you know when I have a firm release date for the book set. I'll also be unveiling the cover in the not too distant future! Yes, I'm glad summer is here.

I got a lot of writing done this week, which was fantastic. The storyline for The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang is moving right along. Eric & Co. have just arrived on the fifth and final island in the Dragon Islands chain. Well, maybe they have one more island left--we'll see what I've got up my sleeve.

I'm very pleased with the progress of the book so far. I've been working at weaving in elements from the second book that will expand in the third and grow for the remainder of the series. This week I wrote 3,350 words, which puts the third book at 40,750 in 41 chapters over 179 pages. The plot is going to take a turn, probably sometime next week.

So, that's where everything stands. I hope everyone has a great weekend--get out and enjoy the weather if you can! I'll leave you with a nice summertime song sung by some fun friends. Have a great week!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's Marissa Reading? The Mark of Athena

My niece Marissa has finally checked in from sunny Florida where she has been out of school for weeks! Besides enjoying a bunch of fun outdoor activities, she's managed to read a lot of books. She's been reading the Heroes of Olympus series and she's going to tell us about The Mark of Athena, by Rick Riordan. Let's see what Marissa had to say about it.

 Here's what Marissa says the book is about.

This is the 3rd book in the Heroes of Olympus series, which ties in with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

After a long wait Annabeth and Percy are reunited after Hera stole Percy's memory and deposited him at the Roman camp (Camp Jupiter), far away from his home, Greek camp (Camp Half-Blood). Percy, Annabeth, and the rest of the seven of the prophecy, are demigods (meaning one of their parents is a god or goddess and one is mortal). These seven demigods were brought together because of a prophecy that will shape the fate of the world. They are trying to stop Gaea, the evil Earth goddess, from awakening. They are also trying to halt the coming Giant war between the Gods of Olympus and the Giants.  

These seven demigods, Annabeth, Percy, Hazel, Frank, Leo, Piper, and Jason, all have strengths that will help them upon this quest to the Ancient lands of Rome. But there are many hidden dangers that they find when they try to complete various tasks that lead to the success of their journey. But to find out about all of them you'll have to read the book. 

What did Marissa like best about the book?

I liked the battles and the humor that was thrown in. I like how the author, Rick Riordan, was able to incorporate the two and balance them. I'm in love with this series! 

Was there anything she didn't like about it?

The book was incredible all around but if I had to choose one thing I'd have to say the cliff hanger at the end. Even though it was a little bit MORE than a cliff hanger, but that just got me even more excited to read the next book that comes out. 

So, how did Marissa rate The Mark of Athena, by Rick Riordan?

She gave it five out of five baby giraffes. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Between the Lines: The Lion and the Mouse

Hi everyone. I hope you all had a fantastic weekend and that all the fathers out there enjoyed a marvelous Father's Day. I sure did. This week, I am fortunate to have two special guests here with me. They're really fable-ous (okay cheesy joke). Not only that, but they've become the best of friends, which was extremely unlikely, to say the least. I'm talking of course about the Lion and the Mouse.

Greg:  Welcome to both of you and thanks for stopping by. I have to say, a lion and a mouse make for strange friends. How did you two meet?

Mouse:  Well, to be perfectly frank, it was not a particularly pleasant meeting for me at first. You see, I almost wound up as breakfast for my large feline friend here.

Greg:  Oh my, that doesn't sound pleasant at all.

Mouse:  It definitely wasn't. It's very unsettling to be walking home with a lovely little bit of hard cheese for breakfast when out of nowhere your tail is pinned by a massive hairy paw. It was nearly the death of me, in more ways than one.

Lion:  Well imagine how I felt. I mean, here I am looking for something nice and meaty to eat, and there's nothing to be found. Suddenly, along comes the smallest, scrawniest excuse for a mouse. Well, what could I do? I swallowed my pride and prepared to swallow him.

Mouse:  Yeah, he was getting ready to swallow me whole--hey, who are you calling scrawny?

Lion:  Oh, lighten up. You know what I mean.

Mouse:  No, I don't know what you mean. 

Lion:  Don't be so sensitive, I didn't eat you.

Mouse:  Only because I begged you not to. I had to cook up some story about a wife and a hole full of children. That got you. You let me go and I said that maybe one day I'd be able to return the favor.

Lion:  Yeah, but I never thought there would be any chance that you'd be able to. You're so small and scrawny and I'm so big and strong.

Mouse:  Yeah, yeah, sure. But you weren't big enough to look where you were going. You ran right into that trap, didn't you? 

Lion:  Er, um, that's beside the point. It could have happened to anyone.

Mouse:  Sure, but it didn't happen to anyone, it happened to you! You're lucky I was around to hear your pitiful cries for help! I came running and there you were, all trussed up in a net. Lucky for you I have sharp teeth, small thought they are, and I was able to gnaw you loose.

Lion:  Well, yes, that's true and you repaid the favor I did you. 

Mouse:  Yeah. You know, we really are a good team when you think about it.

Lion:  Yes, of course. That must be why we get along so well.

Greg:  I certainly think you get along very well. Thanks for sharing.

Mouse:  No problem. We really enjoyed it. Hey Lion, want to go somewhere and get some breakfast?

Lion:  Not really. I'm not very hungry. I wouldn't be able to eat more than a mouthful.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Writer's Week #73: The Write Stuff

This was a terrific writer's week. It was filled with wonderful things, not the least of which was my return to writing after an almost two month hiatus! More on that in a bit. The first great happening of the week was my appearance at the Preserve New Fairfield Strawberry Festival on Sunday. The weather was great and there was a large turnout.  I had a great time chatting with people, making new friends and catching up with old ones. I even managed to sell a few books.
Lovely setting for a book signing!

The really encouraging part was that everyone was asking me about the second book and when it was coming out. As a matter of fact, I'm being asked that question quite frequently lately. It's been great being able to tell them that it will be out soon.

This month's meeting of the Character Book Club is meeting on C. Lee McKenzie's page. Guess what? Eric and Stig are being featured in an interview with Pete, the main character from Lee's fantastic book, Alligators Overhead. I know Eric and Stig had a great time meeting Pete and being interviewed by him. The CBC is a great place where characters from your favorite middle grade novels get together to find out what's going on with each other. Next month, Pete is going to be interviewed
by the Detective Mystery Squad from The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. I'll let you know
Strawberry shortcake, yum!
when and where.

So as you can see, things are heating up here at White Owl Manuscripts. I'm still waiting the final files for The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion, but it's great to know that I'm not the only one. As I said before, I hear from many people who are looking forward to it coming out. All I can say is be patient, I don't think we're too far away.

The really big news of the week is that I've finally resumed writing on The Deliverers 3: Thee Golden Dragon of Ang. Looking back, I haven't done any new writing in almost two months! Wow, has it really been that long? I'm not sure why I haven't been writing. I did some editing on it and mapped out the remainder of the book, so I haven't been completely idle. I guess I
The band was excellent!
just needed a break. The last two and a half years have been extremely busy for me both at work, and on the writing front, so I just had to relax a little and attack things afresh.

Than being said, I'm raring to go. I started writing again today and cranked out 1,400 word in a couple of hours. You know I can bee a numbers person at times (a career in banking will do that to you), so here they are. I'm at 37,500 words, 37 chapters and 164 pages. Look for that number to grow in the coming weeks.

As I was writing today, I had a mini-revelation. I think I've finally hashed out the true nature of what Eric & Co. will be up against in the rest of the Deliverers Series. An indication appears in book 2 and it's coming to the fore in book 3. It should take off from there. I'll give you a little more info (and maybe a preview) next week!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's Elizabeth Reading? The Merchant of Death

There are so many great series for middle grade and young adult readers. Elizabeth's been reading another one of them--Pendragon, by D.J. MacHale. Today, she's going to give us her take on the first book in the series, The Merchant of Death.

 Here's what Elizabeth says the book is about.

Middle school basketball star and good friend to Mark Diamond, Bobby Pendragon, gets swept into a mess in places he never imagined by his Uncle Press. Along the way, Bobby finds out that his old life never truly existed and that he is to become the lead Traveler.

What is a Traveler, you ask? Well you see, Saint Dane is this big form-changing bad guy who wants to rule Halla. Halla is everything, every time, and every person. The Travelers are the people charged with the responsibility of stopping him. Bobby never asked for this responsibility, but it is up to him now.

With this first book, you get to read Bobby's journals about the medieval world of Denduron. Many more follow about his adventures on the other territories of Halla.

What did Elizabeth like best about the book, and was there anything she did not like?

The only thing I did not like about these books was that I would never be able to put them down, and I ended up getting barely any sleep at night. Other than that, this book is a fantastic read for all ages.

So, how did Elizabeth rate The Merchant of Death, by D.J. MacHale?

She gave it five out of five blue dragons.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Between the Lines: The Tin Woodman

A while back, we walked down the Yellow Brick Road with two characters from L. Frank Baum's beloved Oz books, Dorothy Gale and the Scarecrow. Today, I'm lucky enough to have one of their friends and companions, the Tin Woodman. Let's hear what he's got to say.

Greg:  Welcome, please make yourself at home. There's one thing I've always wanted to know about you. Were you always made of tin?

Tin Woodman:  Oh no. I was once a flesh and blood man. My name was Nick Chopper. I was happy to spend my days chopping wood in the forest and coming home in the evening to the girl I loved.

Greg:  I see. So, what happened?

Tin Woodman:  Well, you see, at the time, there were some in Oz who could not stand to see anyone happy and in love. One of these was the Wicked Witch of the East. She did not like it at all. She decided to put an end to our happiness.

One day when I was out in the forest chopping wood, she laid an enchantment upon my axe. With the very next swing, I chopped my arm clean off.

Greg:  Ugh, how awful. What did you do?

Tin Woodman:  I was pretty put out, I can tell you. I rushed right to the tinsmith, and he staunched the bleeding and made me a wonderful arm of tin to replace the one I'd lost. I was so happy--well, at least as happy as you can be when you've chopped one of your arms off. What I mean is, it could have been worse. I didn't realize that the worst was yet to come.

I probably shouldn't have, but the next day I went back out into the forest to chop wood. It never occurred to me that my axe was enchanted. I thought I was just really clumsy. I began to chop wood again, and what do you think happened?

Greg:  Let me guess, you had another accident?

Tin Woodman:  I'll say. On the first swing, I chopped off my other arm. I was really embarrassed when I had to go to the tinsmith for an arm for the second day in a row. But, the tinsmith got right to work and made me another arm. Once again I went home thinking that I was still in pretty good shape.

On the third day, I figured, "What could happen?", so I set out again to chop wood. Well, I cut one of my legs off! In fact, for thee next two weeks I managed to chop myself to bits, but my axe never touched any wood, not so much as a toothpick.  

Greg:  You mean the tinsmith replaced your whole body with tin parts?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Writer's Week #72: Mapping Things Out

Hi everyone. I'm sorry this post is a day late. Last night there was a lot of family stuff going on, in spite of the dousing we received here on the east coast. So, while I had fun, I did not get my post out--mea culpa! Anyway, this week was not quite what I expected, writing-wise, but it was still very productive; more so than any week in the last month or so.

My plan had been to resume work on the third Deliverers book, The Golden Dragon of Ang, which had kind of stalled. I've been in a holding pattern since the end of April as I've been waiting for the layout and cover of book 2, Order of the Crystal Lion. I felt I needed to focus on that, but there was something else niggling at the back of my mind that I just did not want to tackle.

While the writing for Golden Dragon had been moving right along, something needed my attention. In the book, the Deliverers have to find the next Dragon's Mouth, the person who speaks for the Golden Dragon on Ang, imparting his wisdom to the people of the Dragon Islands. They have to do this before midsummer, which for them is only two weeks away. Now, I had mapped out the plot pretty well before I began writing just before Christmas, but not some of the major details.

One of those details was writing a timeline to make sure they could get everything done within the two week time frame. That's what was bothering me. Could they realistically travel to five islands and get back to their starting point within two weeks? I wasn't sure. So, instead of writing, I mapped the whole thing out day by day.

I found that, yes, it was just enough time (with a little help from the Golden Dragon and some magic). Now I'm feeling a lot better. In fact, they will think they've failed until they're saved at the last minute! I still have to work out the details of days eleven and twelve, but I know what they're doing if not exactly what happens to them while they're doing it. That will work itself out.

So, this week I should really be able to get back to writing and who knows, I might also have a cover to reveal and a fully laid out book to submit to the publisher. I'll let you know what develops next week.

For those of you near Connecticut, tomorrow is Preserve New Fairfield's annual Strawberry Festival. I'll be there from 1 to 4 selling Sharky and the Jewel and taking pre-orders for Order of the Crystal Lion. Details are right here. I hope to see you there!

Oh yes, one more thing. On Friday the 14th, Eric and Stig are going to be interviewed by Pete from Alligators Overhead, by C. Lee McKenzie. It's the June meeting of the Character Book Club and it will be held on Lee's great blog, The Write Game. I hope you all stop by to hear what Eric and stig had to say. They had a great time talking with Pete.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's Christian Reading? The Fire Within

Christian, as always, has been doing a lot of reading. He's discovered a new series--The Lost Dragon Chronicles by Chris D'Lacey--which he's currently tearing through. Today, he's going to tell us about the first book, The Fire Within. Let's see what he thinks about it.

Oh yes, Christian has changed his ratings from flaming monkey heads to Pikachus (it's a Pok'emon thing).

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

A woman named Liz Pennykettle gets a tenant named David Rain. She has a daughter named Lucy Pennykettle. Liz and Lucy can make clay dragons that can come to life. You have to have been inducted into the Pennykettle family to be able to see them move, though.

Lucy is trying to save an injured squirrel who she has named Conker. Conker only has one eye. Lucy thinks that another squirrel who she calls Birchwood took the other one out during a fight. It turns out though that a crow who they call Caractus took it out.

Liz gives David a clay dragon that she made. He names him Gazooks. David can imagine Gadzooks and Gadzooks will give him inspiration for stories. Near the end of the book what David writes becomes true, but he does not notice it at first. Gadzooks tries to warn David about what is happening. Will David realize what's going on? Read the book to find out.

Here's what Christian liked best about the book.

I liked the part when David named his clay dragon Gadzooks and the part where Lucy said that the dragons were hurring (read the book and you'll understand), which confused David.

Was there anything that Christian did not like?

I didn’t dislike a thing. This is an impeccable first book of an impeccable series.

So, how did Christian rate The Fire Within, by Chris D'Lacey?

He gave it five out of five Pikachus.