Monday, July 29, 2013

Character Interviews: Chancellor Trelango

Our series of interviews with characters from The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion continues this week. Today, we'll be hearing from the villain of the book, Chancellor Trelango. He's the guy that likes to take simple, down to earth people and add some animal genes to turn them into genetically altered warriors or servants. Let's see what he's got to say for himself.

Greg:  Welcome, Chancellor Trelango. Thanks for stepping out of The Deliverers 2 to spend some time with us.

Trelango:  Not at all. Always nice to speak with a member of the press.

Greg:  Is it true that you and your family have been altering the genetic makeup of some of your citizens against their will for generations?

Trelango:  Oh come now, you make it sound so terrible. Against their will? My family has always ruled the Vynistri with a loving heart. Many of them are eager to undergo this treatment to make themselves unique and yes, powerful. When I add lion DNA to them, they become the mighty Chazum, part man, part lion. Those that serve well and faithfully are amply compensated.

Greg:  But what about those who do not survive the transformation process?

Trelango:  I like to think of it as natural selection. he unfortunates who do not survive were simply not strong enough, not worthy to become Chazum.

Greg:  You can call it what you like, but I call it murder. Only one in three who undergo the process survive.

Trelango:  You are not from my world, so you could not possibly understand. You're just like that ragged bunch of outlanders--Eric and Kate and the rest. They did not understand, either. they were most troublesome. 

Greg:  You mean the Deliverers. So, you met them, did you?

Trelango:  Yes, I met them soon after they arrived on my world. It was not a pleasant meeting, I'm afraid. They took the same narrow-minded view as yourself. Most disappointing. I was particularly interested in the, um, what do you call it, the dwarf. An amazing genetic makeup--short, but very tough and powerful. He would have made an excellent miner if things had worked out as they should. 

Greg:  Things did not go according to plan?

Trelango:  I've learned over the years that things rarely do. Still, I usually manage to rise above disappointments. This time that proved most difficult. Eric and his friends are very stubborn and too trusting of those who claim to be above such things as genetic mutation.

Greg:  You mean they managed to stop you?

Trelango:  I'd really rather not talk about it. Let's just say they were a challenge and leave it at that.

Greg:  Fair enough. So your family has ruled Vynistra City for a long time?

Trelango:  Centuries, actually.

Greg:  When did you start fiddling with genes?

Trelango:  Two hundred years ago, my ancestors developed something called the Machine which could be used to combine animal and human DNA. It was most useful in creating laborers, soldiers, spies. Since then our society has thrived. 

Now, many of the Chazum and even some Vynistri are resisting us. They are being led by my twin brother, Selango, who is under the delusion that he is the Crystal Lion--the one who is destined to lead the Chazum to freedom.  

Greg:  Well, that seems promising. I can't wait to find out what happens.

Trelango:  Yes, well I would not get your hopes up too much. They don't have much of a chance, even with Eric and those so called Deliverers and that group of renegades, the Order of the Crystal Lion. If they think they'll get the best of me, they have another thing coming.

Greg:  Well, we'll see how things turn out. Thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Writer's Week #79: What A Release!

I had another great Writer's Week this week. Before I get to the really good stuff, I wanted to fill you in on the progress made on the third book in the Deliverers Series, The Golden Dragon of Ang. In spite of everything that was going on, I was able to write 1,500 words or so. The word count stands at 51,500 over 53 chapters and 225 pages.

This book looks like it will be at least as long as book 2, which was 265 manuscript pages and 63,000 words. I'm coming to the climax of the book, but I have the feeling that there are still one or two twists in store that I have not discovered yet. We shall see.

The other day, illustrator Daniel Vogel sent me a second draft of the map for The Golden Dragon of Ang. It's looking really good. Once the final version is done, he'll start work on the other five. There will be a map of each of the islands in this book as well, which should keep him pretty busy.  

Of course the main news of the week is that book 2, Order of the Crystal Lion, was released on Amazon. I also received an order of paperbacks, so I'm going to be hitting the road at a couple of shows in the next couple of months. I look forward to seeing some of you then.

The release went pretty well. I have to admit that my marketing stinks. I haven't set up a blog tour or anything like that. I do hope to get the book reviewed and do some interviews over the next couple of months. As always, I'll keep you up to date on when and where. I find that most of my success occurs when I'm meeting readers and selling books in person and that will be my game plan.

Still, I have had a number of Kindle sales. I was surprised that sales of the Kindle version of Sharky and the Jewel have also spiked. I did reformat the interior of that book to more closely reflect the interior of the paperback, including the chapter illustration and map. All in all the Kindle versions of both books look great. Oh yes, I almost forgot. The first paperback copy of the book was sold in the UK. That was kind of a shock.

Anyway, thank you all for such a nice response to the new book. I've received great feedback on the book, the cover, the trailer, and practically everything else! I'll update you on the sales progress for book 2 and the writing of book 3 next week. I'll leave you now with the trailers from both books. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What's Elizabeth Reading? Chu Ju's House

Elizabeth has taken a break from her busy summer reading schedule to fill us in on another book that she's been reading. Our Reading Crew as a whole has been burning up the pages this summer. It's great to see kids enjoy reading so much! This week, Elizabeth is sharing a little bit about Chu Ju's House, by Gloria Whelan. Let's see what she had to say.

Here's what Elizabeth says the book is about.

This book tells of how, in China, only two kids per family were allowed. But, tradition conflicted with the law. Tradition had it that each family should have a boy. This is where the conflict of the story comes in. Chu Ju is the first born child, and a girl. She is said to be a disgrace. When her mother becomes pregnant again, they all pray for a boy only to get another girl.

Chu Ju is made responsible for the baby and grows attached to her. In an effort to save her sister from being sent away, Chu Ju runs away. She thinks that with her gone, her mother can hopefully have a little boy. After she runs away, Chu Ju must find a new home and not get caught.

What did Elizabeth like best about the story?

I loved the descriptive quality of the story. It is very heartwarming and really makes you think about how lucky we are with how we live.

So, how did Elizabeth rate Chu Ju's House, by Gloria Whelan?

She gives it five out of five blue dragons.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Character Interview: Cy & Chunk

Since I'll be releasing The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion this week, I thought it might be a good idea to start to get to know some of the characters that Eric and the rest of the Deliverers will be meeting. I decided to kick things off with two of my favorites. Now, they're a little camera shy because they're members of a secret society called the Order of the Crystal Lion, so they have requested that I don't post their pictures. Since they were such a big help  in the book, I was happy to make an exception. I'm posting the book trailer instead.

Cyril, or Cy as he prefers to be called, and Chunk are the best of friends. As agents for the Order, they have participated in many top secret espionage-type missions in the quest to bring freedom to the Chazum who serve the ruling Vynistri. There has been a civil war raging for over a year, but both sides are at a stalemate. Let's hear what they've got to say.

Greg:  Hello, gentlemen, thanks for coming by to tell us a little bit about yourselves and your roles in the latest Deliverers book.

Chunk:  Gentlemen, d'ya hear that Cy, he called us gentlemen.

Cy:  Yeah, sure I heard him Chunk. I guess he don't know us very well, huh?

Chunk:  Huh? Uh, no, Cy he don't know us too good, we just met him.

Cy:  Ya have ta excuse Chunk, here, he ain't too quick on the uptake sometimes.

Chunk:  Upwhich?

Cy: See what I mean? That's okay, though, 'cause he's gotta heart of gold. Plus which he's real strong, which comes in handy in a fight.

Greg:  He looks strong. In fact, he's really big, almost as big as an elephant.

Cy:  Ya noticed, huh? Yeah, he's big all right. Ya see, way back when, the rulers of the Vynistri added some elephant genes to his family's DNA. For generations, his family was used for manual labor wherever the Vynistri needed 'em, ain't that right, Chunk?

Chunk:  Yup, that's right Cy. Gee you explained that real good. 

Cy:  Thank youse.

Greg:  How do the Vynistri add the DNA?

Cy:  Well, they got this machine that they calls, er, the Machine. They chain ya up against a wall, aim the Machine at ya, put the DNA of whatever animal they wanna add inta it, press a button and bingo it's done. Only thing is a lotta the time it don't work so good and ya wind up with genetic glop instead. No one wants ta go in front of the Machine.

Greg:  It sounds very unpleasant and dangerous. 

Cy:  Yeah, well the most reliable conversion is when they use lion DNA. I ain't too sure why, but not as many people die durin' the process. These lion people call themselves the Chazum. They make up a lotta the Vynistri army. They also make good bodyguards. It's kinda ironic that some of the Chazum are fightin' for the Vynistri against the rebel Chazum, but then again, some of the Vynistri are rebellin' and fightin' against their own kind, too. Life's strange that way, ya know?

Chunk:  Yeah, you're right, Cy, like sure is funny. Like how about the time Eric was put in front of the Machine?

Cy:  Quiet, Chunk. Do ya wanna ruin the story for everybody? Ya don't wanna give too much of it away.

Chunk:  Oh, sure, sure, Cy. You're right. I just thought, well, they might want ta know.

Cy:  Yeah, I know, your heart was in the right place, Chunk. Only, they gotta find out for themselves. That's the fun part of readin' a book, or one of them electronic thingys.

Chunk: Ya mean them Kindlings?

Cy:  Yeah, somethin' like that, Chunk. Anyways, there's a lotta action in this book--lots of shootin' and chases. Some unexpected things happen, too, but we gotta let ya find out what they are for yourself.

Greg:  Sure, I understand. What can you tell us about the book?

Chunk:  Cy, can I tell him about Chancellor Trelango?

Cy:  Sure ya can, Chunk, if ya think you're up for it.

Chunk:  Thanks Cy, I'll try. See, there's this guy named Chancellor Trelango. He's the leader of the Vynistri. He ain't nice, he's mean, real mean. How'm I doin' so far Cy?

Cy:  You're doin' swell, Chunk, real nice.

Chunk:  Thanks a lot, Cy. Like I was sayin' he ain't nice. His family has been convertin' people inta Chazum for a real long time. Now, they're tryin' ta stop him and we're helpin', ain't we, Cy?

Cy: Sure, Chunk. Us and a whole bunch of people, even some Vynistri. That's why we joined up with the Order. They're workin' undercover in the capital, Vynistra City just like us. That's where we run inta Eric.

Chunk:  Uh, didn't he run inta us?

Cy:  Strictly speakin', he run inta you, Chunk. He was escapin' from--

Chunk:  Ain't you givin' away the story now, Cy?

Cy:  Hey, I guess youse are right. Sorry 'bout that. I think it's time we shoved off. We gotta get back before anyone misses us. Hey kid, it was great talkin' with ya. We'll give your regards ta Eric, and Kate and Hallo and Stig.

Chunk:  Yeah Stig. He's a nice birdie, ain't he?

Cy: Chunk, how many time do I gotta tel ya, he don't like it when people call him that.

Chunk:  Huh? Oh, yeah, sorry Cy. I keep forgettin'. Bye Mr. Interviewer, see ya at the end of the book!

Greg:  See you guys! Thanks for stopping by, and good luck with the big finish!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Writer's Week #78: Busy, Busy, Busy

Oh my, where to start? This was the busiest Writer's Week I've had in a long time. I'm so excited, because everything is coming together at once! On Monday, I received the final versions of the cover and the interior of The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion. They looked great. Ana Vogel and Daniel Vogel did a great job with the layout and the artwork, respectively. That's the cover to the left if you haven't had a chance to see it yet.

I immediately uploaded them to Createspace and ordered a couple of proof copies. Those arrived today. It was so cool to see the book in person for the first time. We were in the middle of a week-long power outage caused by a freak October snowstorm when I received the first copies of The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel, so my first glimpse of that book was by flashlight! Seeing this book for the first time in daylight was so much better.

Then yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by author and blogger Karen Pokras Toz
Proof copies of The Deliverers 2
on her blog. It was great chatting with her about the new book, my computer preferences, and my cats!

Yesterday I had the day off and I spent some time bowling with the kids, which was fun and relaxing. Sandwiched around that, I put together the book trailer. That's always a challenge that I enjoy. Usually I have limited artwork, photos, etc. to use. Then, there's the challenge of finding just the right music. I use a site called Incomptech which run by musician and composer Kevin MacLeod. He's got a lot of royalty free pieces that he will let you use if you credit him. You can also make a donation if the spirit moves you. Check it out.

I usually find something that works with the video I'm making, but the process can be rather mind-numbing. You can search by mood and type of music, but I find that the piece that ends up working is not the one I would expect. This time it took a while to find the right piece, and I had to cut part and loop it so that it was the right length, but it wound up coming out pretty nicely. Here it is:

On top of all this, I managed to come up with an idea for The Deliverers 4! It involves a little bit of time travel back to the American Revolution. Eric will find out a little about his family and have to try to find out why someone is trying to change history!

While all this was going on, I was still able to get a decent amount of writing done on The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang. I wrote 3,100 words, bringing the total to 50,100 words, 51 chapters and 219 pages! I am shooting for a publication date sometime in January or February of 2014. So, what's in store for the coming week? I'll let you know next time!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What's Christian Reading? The Alchemyst

Okay, it's time for Christian to tell us about another book that he's been reading. This week it's The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. Once again, I've let Christian handle the layout of the post. Let's seee what he thought of the book.

The Alchemyst By Michael Scott


        Two twins, Sophie and Josh, work in stores directly across from each other. Josh works in a bookstore owned by Nicholas Flemel and Sophie works in the Coffee Cup. A man shows up at the bookstore and Josh and Sophie are plunged into a world of magic and mystery.

Meeting a new creature around every corner they fight members of the elder race such as The Morrigan and many more. When Sophie’s magical powers are awakened by Hekate and Josh’s aren’t he fills up with jealousy. Nicholas Flamel’s enemies seek to use that to their advantage. Who will win? Nicholas Flamel or Dr. John Dee.

What I liked

        I liked it all except for the part when.....

What I disliked

                .........when Josh doesn’t get awakened and Sophie does. It’s just unfair.


          Graphics were a special last time because there were pictures in the book and I wanted you to see them. From now on whenever I read a book with pictures i will put some up here.

Thank you for your cooperation, Christian.                                                

4 out of 5 Pikachus

Monday, July 15, 2013

Between the Lines: Jim Hawkins

When I was growing up, one of my favorite books was Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, Treasure Island. When I saw the Disney movie, I loved the book even more. A while back, I interviewed Long John Silver and we had a fun time reliving his old pirating days. Today, I thought we'd chat with his old shipmate, young Jim Hawkins.

Greg:  Welcome, young Master Hawkins. It's nice to see you.

Jim:  Good day, sir. It's nice to be here and feel solid ground beneath my feet once more.

Greg:  Sounds like you've just returned from a sea voyage.

Jim:  Why, yes sir. I've just returned with Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey from Treasure Island.

Greg:  Oh, I see. Looking for more treasure, eh?

Jim:  Oh no, sir. There isn't any more treasure to be had, at least not pirates' treasure. We were scouting locations for a theme park.

Greg;  You're kidding. A theme park?

Jim:  That's right. At first I was as confused as you. Then, Squire Trelawney explained it all to me. A theme park is a place where people can come and have all sorts of fun. There are games and rides, and all of them have the same kind of theme to them. So, like I said, people come to have a good time and--here's the best part--they pay you money to get in. Plus, you can also sell food at really high prices, because there's nothing else to eat or drink--that is unless they bring their own, but the Squire says they won't be allowed.

Greg:  Hmmm, that Squire seems way ahead of his time. Quite the sly one. I can hardly believe it.

Jim:  Neither could Dr. Livesey, but the Squire showed us a layout for the whole park. Ours is going to have a pirate theme. Squire Trelawney says we'll call it Pirates of the Caribbean. That's when Dr. Livesey decided that he should sail with us. He wanted to make sure we made it back.

Greg:  So how long will it take to build this theme park?

Jim:  Not long. They're going to have to clear a lot of land but after that Squire says things should move pretty quickly. We've only come back to see if we could enlist some pirates to use as performers. Squire says there's nothing like a real honest to goodness pirates to give a place atmosphere.

Greg:  I suppose that's true. Say, whatever happened to your mother? Does she still run the inn?

Jim:  Yes sir, but not for too much longer. You see, we're going to sell the Admiral Benbow and she's going to run the concession stand at the Pirates of the Caribbean. We stand to make a fortune.

Greg:  Yes, there's more than one kind of pirate out there, those with swords and those selling deluxe travel packages. Ah well, it was nice to see you, Jim my lad. Whatever you do don't let success spoil you. I wonder how Dr. Livesey feels about all this.

Jim:  He hasn't really come around yet, but Squire Trelawney is working on him. He can be very persuasive. Do you know, he's hired Long John Silver to star in the Treasure Island Thrill Ride? It's going to be terrific. The crowd's going to eat it up!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Writer's Week #77: Front Cover Reveal

Well here we are at the end of another fantastic week. The Deliverers 2 is getting closer to completion. I know I've said that before, but this time I'm as sure as I can be. I have the final front cover. Ana Vogel sent that to me last week. She just has to sort out the dimensions for the spine and change the color of the font on the back cover. So, while I don't have the whole cover to reveal yet, I'm going to reveal the front cover today. Here it is:

I think it looks fantastic. Illustrator Daniel Vogel did a great job, and layout artist Ana Vogel did an awesome job with the title! Please let me know what you think in the comments below! I'm really excited about this book and I hope you will be, too.

The interior is just about ready to go as well. It just needs some tweaks to the map and the table of contents. Once I have received everything, it will only be a couple of weeks before the release of the book! We're almost there.

While things have been moving along with book two, The Deliverers 3 is also progressing. This week, I sent Daniel a sketch of the map of the Dragon Islands. He's going to use that to begin work on the main map for The Golden Dragon of Ang. The third book will be more ambitious, mapwise. There will also be individual maps of the five Dragon Islands, so Dan's going to have his talented hands full.

I also made some great progress on the writing front. This week I wrote 2,500 words, bringing The Golden Dragon of Ang to 47,000 words, 48 chapters and 205 pages.

Everything keeps moving along. If things continue to go as planned, Order of the Crystal Lion will be out by the end of this month and The Golden Dragon of Ang will be out by January or February of 2014! I'll let you know about any new developments next week!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What's Elizabeth Reading? Tears of a Dragon

Elizabeth is back with another book in the Dragons in Our Midst series--Tears of a Dragon, by Bryan Davis. This is book number four in the series. Let's see what she had to say about it.

 Here's what Elizabeth says the book is about.

In Tears of a Dragon, the main characters, Billy and Bonnie, go on their final journey to free the dragon souls along with three human souls from a place called Dragon's Rest. Meanwhile, the dragons that had been freed in the previous book are preparing to go into battle alongside Billy and Bonnie's friends and family.

While dangers mount, mysterious songs from Merlin still hold the key to unraveling all the secrets once and for all. These books have a spiritual aspect in them. For Bonnie's part, she has strong faith and trust in the maker and believes he will protect her no matter what the odds. Without her faith and helping hand, Billy would never have made it through the trials.

What did Elizabeth like best about the book?

I never once wanted to put this book down. I especially liked the ending. It holds the beginnings of a new adventure, so you can use your imagination, and it reunites all the families that were divided by the war. It is a happy ending!

So, how did Elizabeth rate Tears of a Dragon by Bryan Davis?

She gave it five out of five blue dragons.

Monday, July 8, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different

Okay, I'm feeling a little bit strange today (stranger than usual, that is). I don't feel like the same old thing. By the same old thing I mean a Between the Lines featuring an interview with a character from children's literature. Sorry, the last couple have been fun, but my feelings were a tad hurt by Pollyanna of all people. I know, I may be a little oversensitive, but it wounded me deeply.

So, I decided that I would stray from the normal schedule and give you something...well, I think John Cleese put it best. Here's a little bit of fun:

What fun, eh? Yes, it is indeed time for something completely different, just because it's summer and it seems like I've been on a treadmill of late, churning out manuals at work and writing at home. So, I thought why not change things up a bit?

And what better way to change things up than with my favorite comedy troupe, Monty Python? I realize that they may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I thought that just this once I should give it a go. So, here are a few of my favorite sketches. Don't worry, they're all rated 'G'!

Enjoy! We shall resume our regular schedule tomorrow.

Argument Clinic

Vocational Guidance Counsellor (I particularly like the banking crack)

The Spanish Inquisition

The Parrot Sketch

And finally:

The Ministry of Silly Walks

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Writer's Week #76: Better Late Than Never

Hi all. I hope you had a great weekend! I'm sorry that this post is late. My cable modem went out on Friday and I did not get internet access back until yesterday afternoon, so this post is titled Better Late Than Never. The same could be said for the second book in the Deliverers Series.

Title from the new cover
I've had some delays that were not in anyone's control. It was just life happening. But very soon, the book will be ready to go. If all goes well, I will be receiving the final cover and interior layout this week! If that does indeed happen, I will have a cover reveal this week and Order of the Crystal Lion will be released by the end of this month! This is something I've really been looking forward to, and from what you have told me over the past few months, you have, too.

Cover sneak peek
Meanwile, work continues on the third book in the series, The Golden Dragon of Ang. I wrote 2,000 words this week. Eric and the gang are in the middle of a tense moment. They've encountered an obstacle that they did not anticipate and are trying to work themselves out of it. Will they do it? Hopefully, but you never can tell...

Anyway, the book is currently at 44,500 words over 195 pages and 45 chapters. It's moving along pretty nicely now, although I still see a long sea voyage in the future, and I'm not sure how to jazz that up. We'll see if any opportunities present themselves along the way. I'll keep you informed of any developments as the week goes along. Enjoy!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Between the Lines: Pollyanna

Here in New England, we've had our share of rain. In Connecticut, we set a record with almost 11 inches of rain in June. With all the gloomy weather, it would be pretty easy to become gloomy as well. However, there's one person I know who can always put a positive spin on things. I'm talking, of course, about Pollyanna. She just so happens to be in town and has agreed to visit and spread some of her sunshine our way.

Greg:  Hello, Pollyanna thanks for stopping by.

Pollyanna:  It's my pleasure entirely. I've never been interviewed before. This is so exciting. I had planned on just laying around watching the rain come down. But then I thought, there are probably some people who could use some cheering up. I went out and ran into you. Now I have the chance to cheer all your readers up!

Greg:  And you'll do a fine job, I'm sure. I'm very interested to hear about this game that you and your father used to play. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Pollyanna:  Surely. My father taught it to me before he and my mother died. It's called "The Glad Game". In the game you have to find something happy or good about every situation you find yourself in.

Greg:  Interesting. Could you give us an example?

Pollyanna:  Why yes. I notice that you're a little overweight. Now, this might be a little depressing--I'm sure that I would be depressed if I were you! Now, all you have to do is find something good about being overweight. Let me think--what's good about that? Oh yes, you won't starve to death any time soon! When you go on a trip, you don't have to pack any food. When you swim, you don't need a flotation device. So you see, there are any number of good things about being overweight!

Greg:  Uh, yeah, I guess I see your point. Thanks so much for pointing that out. What other bad situations can you put a positive spin on?

Pollyanna: Umm, well, I see that your car is a ten year mid-sized sedan. Some people prefer luxury models, but really,it's not so bad. Your choice of car shows that you're practical and down to earth. While you may not be rich enough to afford a brand new car, you make the best of what you have. You don't throw money around, you're conservative.

Greg:  That's just great, I feel a whole lot better. Can you try and cheer up someone other than me now?

Pollanna:  Yes indeed. As you may know, I lost the use of my legs for a while. Still, it showed me how much those around me truly loved me. I still have a little trouble getting about, but thanks to these crutches, it's not too bad. See, I can walk pretty well with these.

Greg: Ouch!!! You just about pierced my foot with that crutch!

Pollyanna:  Oh, I'm terribly sorry! Still, after the pain subsides, you'll be able to appreciate being able to walk around on two good feet that much more.

Greg:  Yes, I'm--ooh--sure I will. I think that's all we have time for right now. I suddenly feel the need to sit down. Thanks for coming by and brightening my day.

Pollyanna:  It's my pleasure. You know, I find that when I sit down, I'm able to see things from a different perspective. For instance, when you're sitting down the rain takes longer to hit your head. Think about it.