Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Writer's Week #83: Fun Stuff Later This Weekend

This week was one for puzzling things out. I am very close to finishing up the first draft of The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang, but I ran into a problem with the big climactic scene. There are two bad guys who are not together. I had to bring them together, have one take control, surprising the other one, and then get everyone in position for the final problem to be resolved.

That took some doing. There was a lot of experimentation going on, which was time consuming. Finally, I hit upon an acceptable solution. As a result, I wrote only a little more than 1,000 words, but I'm in good position to get the book finished in the next two weeks or so. After that, it will be edit, rewrite, and hopefully (budget willing) have someone edit it. Artwork it progressing. Both maps are complete and a cover concept will be in development by October.

But enough about that for now. The title of this post promised some fun stuff. Here's the scoop. On Monday I am going to be interviewed by Ara on her blog, My Book and My Coffee. In conjunction with that, she will be running a giveaway with two ebook versions of The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion as prizes! On top of that, the Kindle version of the first book in the Deliverers Series, Sharky and the Jewel, will be FREE on Monday and Tuesday!

So please check out My Book and My Coffee on Labor Day, enter the giveaway, and pick up your free copy of Sharky and the Jewel. If you've already read either book in the Deliverers Series, why not write a review? I would really appreciate it. I'll let you know how everything went next week! See you then!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Favorite Books: Caps For Sale

Today just so happens to be the last day of summer vacation for my children. Yes, tomorrow they go back to school. Our town seems to be the last town on the planet to return to school. I'm not sure why when all surrounding towns started Monday or Tuesday, but I'm sure there must be a reason. Anyway, my children had no interest (understandably) writing a Reading Crew post today, so it looks like you are stuck with me!

Since it's been a while, I thought I would tell you about one of my favorite books when I was growing up, Caps For Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina. I loved this book when I was a kid. I remember going to the library and taking out this book--multiple times.

Something about Caps really appealed to me. First off, the idea of the peddler wearing a stack of hats on his head really interested me. How did he balance all of those? Then, the colors were so varied, but they were all organized by color. He has a hard time selling his caps and falls asleep under a tree.

Next come the monkeys. They love his hats. They wear them while sitting in the tree. As a very young child, I thought they were hilarious. I also thought the peddler's trick for them to give up the caps was a lot of fun.

What I found out much later is that this story is based on an old folk tale. For me this book is a prime example of a magical reading moment. I don't really know what exactly fascinated me about book in the first place, but I've never forgotten about it. As I think about it, that's what's so cool about reading. Discovering a good book is the beginning off a love that will last a lifetime. If you have young ones in your life, introduce them to one of your favorite books from childhood today and watch them experience the magic for themselves.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Between the Lines: Tom Sawyer

This week, I decided to bring back a little blast from the past. Those of you who have been following this blog from the beginning might remember this interview (probably not, it was more than a year and a half ago). It's the first character interview in this series. I thought it would be fun to post it again. Tom Sawyer was one of my favorite characters when I was growing up, so it was only natural that he was my first interview. Let's see what he had to say.

Greg:  Welcome Tom, it’s great to have you here!

Tom: Thanks, Mr. Greg, sir. It were nice of ya t’ have me.

Greg:  Tell us a little bit about yourself, Tom.

Tom: Shucks, taint much t’ tell, really. I started m’ life very young, but I growed up. Now, I live free an’ easy, ‘cept when I got t’ go t’ that ol’ school. Aunt Pol’s always tryin’ t’ git me t’ go, but I outfox her more often than not. Got a nice place up in the piney woods. It’s a whole fort where I fight off injuns an’ hide treasure an’ such.

Sometimes I got t’ go t’ church, too. Go t’ Sunday school an’ larn Bible passages ‘n’ things. I won me a Bible oncet. Yep, I sure did. I got enough o’ them there tickets the Rev’rand give out for learnin’ Bible verses. I traded a whole pile of treasure with the boys in school t’ get them tickets. It was worth it, too. Preacher called me up, an’ I got me that Bible in front o’ the whole class, includin’ Becky Thatcher. I was slicker ‘n’ a greased pig, I can tell you.

I’m also good at fightin’. I just about licked every boy in school, an’ some o’ the girls, too. “Course that comes from m’ piratin’. Ya got t’ be able to lick anyone that crosses your path, iffin you’re a pirate. I recall the time me ‘n’ Joe Harper ‘n’ol’  Huck Finn run away t’ be pirates. Boy did we have a time!

Greg:  Where do you live, when you’re not terrorizing the seven seas, I mean?

Tom:  I live in the town of St. Petersburg, Missouri with m’ Aunt Polly, m' half brother Sid. I live next door t’ Becky Thatcher. We’re engaged, but don’t tell no one. It’s supposed t’ be secret. Keep it mum. Wouldn’t do no good if Becky was t’ get wind I told ya.

Greg:  In all of your adventures, what’s the worst thing you ever saw?

Tom:  I don’t rightly know. I seen a lot o’ worst things. I saw Injun Joe all laid out an’ starved t’ death after bein’ trapped in McDougal’s Cave. Me ‘n’ Becky was trapped in the cave with Injun Joe.

I s’pose the worst thing I ever saw had t’ be Doc Robi’son getting’ killed by Injun Joe. See, the way it happened was me ‘n’ Huck was in the graveyard with a dead cat tryin’ t’ catch some devils. All of a sudden, along come Doc Robi’son, Ol’ Muff Potter, an’ Injun Joe. Me ‘n’ Huck hid an’ watched as Muff ‘n’ Joe started to dig up a grave.

Well, when they got the body up, they all starts agruin’ over how much the doc was gonna pay ‘em. Before ya know it, the doc had whacked ol’ Muff Potter over the head with a gravestone, which was just a painted board. Then Injun Joe took up Muff’s knife an’ jammed it inta Doc Robi’son’s chest.  It chilled m’ blood an’ curled m’ toes. Me ‘n’ Huck lit out o’ there like the Devil himself was chasin’ us.

From that night on, I had t’ sleep with one eye open, on account of I was s’ skeered.

Greg:  What’s given you the most pleasure?

Tom:  I’d have ta say coming back in the middle of m’ funeral. Ev’rybody was so surprised. Me ‘n’ Joe ‘n’ ol’ Huck got so much attention. We was top citizens, I reckon. I was in m’ glory. Ev’ryone was fussin’ an’ carryin’ on. I aint never seen such a big t’ do.

I s’pose I should also say getting’ engaged t’ Becky Thatcher an’ findin’ all that gold were high points, too. But nothin’ can compare with the attention the town give me when I come back from the dead!

Greg:  Are you afraid of spirits?

Tom:   Shoot, spirits aint nothin’ iffin ya know how t’ handle ‘em. First, ya take a stinkbug an’ make him a leash out of a shoelace. Put the stinkbug on the ground, holdin’ the leash. Then, ya draw a circle around the bug in the dirt. Next, ya gets a pin an’ pricks your finger. Then, ya squeezes two drops of blood out of yore finger onta the stinkbug. Then ya says an incantation, an’ that’ll keep the spirits away the whole night. Simple as that, but I shore wouldn’t want t’ tangle with ‘em without the right gear.

Greg:  After all your adventures, are you ready to become civilized?

Tom: Oh law, I aint never gonna get civilized. Aunt Polly’s done tried, but she aint been able t’ do it. Aint no one gonna do it, not as long as I draw breath!

I tell ya the one I feel sorry for. It’s ol’ Huck Finn. The widder Douglas done took him in t’ live with her. I anyone’s gonna civilize a body, it’d be the widder Douglas. Ol’ Huck don’t stand a chance with that one, I kin tell ya.

She won’t let him go piratin’ or nothin’. Me, I done give Aunt Polly the slip agin, an’ if Sid don’t blab on me, I’ll be off down the Missisip’ on a raft an’ no one’ll be the wiser. Come t’ think on it, I still owe Sid a lickin’ for squealin’ on me the last time!

Mr. Greg, I sure have enjoyed settin’ here an’ talkin’ with ya a spell, but I got t’ get movin’. There’s ships t’ plunder an’ wayfarers t’ rob, an’ the night’s getting’ on!

Greg:  Sure thing, Tom. Thanks for taking some time to chat with us. Good luck with your adventure!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Writer's Week #82: Getting Back Into It

Hi all! I took a break last week to go on vacation and we had a wonderful time. I spent next to no time writing, thinking about writing, blogging, marketing--well, you get the idea. We spent a few days down in Williamsburg. The kids had a blast and so did Stephanie and I.

I took a lot of pictures to use as inspiration for book 4 of the Deliverers Series (okay, so I did think a little about writing, but it wasn't about book 3). There's going to be a little bit of time travel back to the Revolution involved, so the trip was just what the doctor ordered.

In any event, I returned ready and raring to go, and that's just what I did. I wrote 2,800 words on The Golden Dragon of Ang, bringing the word total to 56,650 over 247 pages and 58 chapters. I'm working my way through the climactic scene and then it will be on to the denouement and the first draft will be complete. You'll be hearing all about it in the coming weeks.

While on vacation, I received a photo from a young reader named Ryan--all of seven years old. He had made a Lego display of his favorite summer reading book for a contest at his local library. He chose The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel. I posted it to Facebook that day (all right, I suppose I thought about blogging and Facebook on my vacation a little bit, too). The picture is at the right. Can you guess who everyone is? Here is the lineup: front row- Hallo (short legs) with axe, Eric with torch, Kate with bow. Back row - Dwarf king with short legs and sword, Sharky, the Guardian of the Jewel.
Platform- black powder barrel, mini-scale mountain with jewel on top and Bolliwog. Quite a nice display, I think. Thank you again, Ryan!

When I returned from vacation, I stumbled across a review of the audio version of Sharky and the Jewel that I did not know was out there. It was by Martha of Martha's Bookshelf, and it was a really great review. In it she praises the storytelling of Jimm Singer, who really did a fantastic job of narrating the book. If you have not had a chance to take a listen, then you really should. The book is digital and can be dowloaded and played on your cell or e-reader or ipod, etc. You can check out a preview on Amazon HERE. Oops--the one thing I did not do over vacation was try to sell books, so I guess it's kind of backed up.

Oh well. While I'm at it, don't forget that The Deliverers 2 is out now in paperback and Kindle! Okay, enough selling. I did manage to sell a few books this week, so things are starting to move along. The new book also received a couple of great reviews on Amazon as well, so this was definitely a great week! Thanks for all your continued support, and I look forward to sharing some more news next time!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What's Marissa Reading? A Land Remembered

This week, Reading Crew member Marissa stopped by to tell us a little bit about a book that she's been reading called A Land Remembered, by Patrick D. Smith.

Here's what Marissa says the book is about.

This book is about the generations of the MacIvey family as they make the best out of life as Florida crackers. You go through three generations of MacIveys and how they go from just scraping by in the scrub eating coons to living on the prairie with herds of cattle and groves of orange trees.

In the beginning we see Tobias and Emma with their son Zech and it ends with Zech and Glenda's son Sol. They make lots of friends that stand by them along the way, through losses and troubles, like Skillit, Bonzo, Frog, and the Seminole Indian Tribe. In the book you also experience the development of Florida, changing from swaps and forests to cities and streets. You are able to see how they drive cattle, plant orange trees and accommodate food to survive.

What I liked: I find it interesting to see how people lived back then and how there were no cars and they were able to ride horses across the whole state in a relatively short amount of time.

What I didn't like: The book wasn't my favorite. It was my summer book project for school. I found it depressing because of all of the deaths.

So, how did Marissa rate A Land Remembered, by Patrick D. Smith?

She gives is three and a half out of five baby giraffes.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Character Interview: Kate and Hallo

Hi all. It's good to be back. We had a great time on vacation. Williamsburg was fantastic. Thee kids had a blast and maybe even learned something. As for me, I got some inspiration for book four of the Deliverers Series, which will involve a little time travel...but that's in the future, er, the past, uh, oh whatever.

Right now, I'm concentrating on book 2 which came out a few weeks ago. This week's interview is with the other half of the Deliverers quartet, Kate Endria and Hallo Tosis the dwarf. Let's hear what they've got to say about Order of the Crystal Lion.

Greg:  Hey guys, thanks for coming by to give us an update. What did you like best about this second book?

Hallo:  Well, I guess I'd have t' say it were the parts that was underground, don't ya know. I really enjoyed that. Dwarves is always most at home below the surface. There's nothin' like the smell of a tunnel.

Kate:  That may be true, but we weren't in just any tunnel, we were in the sewers. Trust me, it did not smell good. It made me want to gag, ugh!

Hallo:  Yeah, well, that may be, but ya kinda got used t' it over time. After a bit it weren't hardly noticeable. Besides, we didn't spend all our time in them sewers.

Greg:  Where did you spend time--aside from the sewers?

Kate:  We spent a lot of time in some dungeons and cells and places like that. On this Assignment there wasn't a lot of time for sightseeing.

Hallo:  True. But ya gotta admit them dungeons was fascinatin'. The stonework weren't bad, although m' folk from the Dwarf Kingdom coulda taught 'em a thing or two, don't ya know.

Greg:  Did you spend any time above ground?

Kate:  Don't listen to Hallo. We actually spend more time above ground than under it. There were a lot of battles and shooting and things. I guess that's to be expected when you're in the middle of a war and all.

Greg:  War? Oh yes, Eric and Stig mentioned that there was a civil war or rebellion or something going on. What was that all about?

Kate:  This terrible person, Chancellor Trelango, had added lion DNA to humans to create an army of soldiers. For centuries they served the ruling family. They are called the Chazum. They decided to stand up to Trelango and rebel. They were led by Trelango's twin brother, Selango.

Hallo:  That's right. Them there Chazum put up a real good fight and had the capitol city surrounded. But they got themselves inta a stalemate, like two bucks who've locked horns and can't get unlocked. It were a right sticky situation.

Greg:  So did it get resolved?

Hallo:  We ain't at liberty t' say, don't ya know. It wouldn't be right t' spoil the endin' and all. But I can tell ya that we found ourselves in a heap o' trouble, and none more than Eric an' birdie. That's all I can tell ya.

Kate:  We did have some scary moments, but everyone was very brave, especially Eric. He wound up having to do some things he really didn't like to do, but he did great in the end.

Greg:  Wow, sounds like some interesting stuff. Are you up for any more Assignments after this?

Kate:  Well, you never know what the Gatekeeper will have up his sleeve next, but I for one am looking forward to going on another Assignment, if he asks us.

Hallo:  Yep. I'm game, too. If the Gatekeeper calls, I'll come a runnin', don't ya know. I wouldn't miss an Assignment for the world, even if this one ain't underground.

Greg:  Thanks again for stopping by. We'll talk to you again real soon.

Kate:  Thank you for having us, it's always a pleasure.

Hallo:  Aye, thanks, laddie. You're always mighty hospitable, but next time, do ya think ya could have some cookies or somethin'? I'm so hungry I could eat a Bolliwog, don't ya know.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Writer's Week #81: Vacation!!!

Yes, that's right, I'm finally taking a vacation! We do something every year at this time, but this year it's been a long time coming. Next week, I won't be posting as I've decided to take a little writing vacation as well as a work one. Of course I don't think I'll be able to take a vacation from thinking about my latest work in progress.

I think vacation mode kicked in earlier this week, because I only wrote a little less than 500 words That puts The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang at just under 54,000. The end is taking a little longer to write than I had hoped. I did come up with a little twist for an earlier section of the book. I'll go back and re-write it after the first draft is finished. I keep coming back to the fact that I'm really liking this book. It's going to take the series to the next level and tie in things from the second book with events in thee fourth and fifth books.

I met today with illustrator Daniel Vogel and presented him with a copy of book 2. He's just about finished the first map for book 3 and is starting on the second. He's also going to work on a group shot of the four Deliverers in a slightly anime style that I'll use as the header for the blog and perhaps turn into a banner for shows. So, things are moving right along with book 3.

Publicity is still in the works for Order of the Crystal Lion. Once vacation is over, you should start to hear and see some buzz about it. I'm looking around for some shows at which to set up shop this fall. When I get some dates set, I'll let you all know.

So, things are headed in the right direction, but I think I need to take a little break and come out re-energized for the rest of the year. Have a great week everyone. Be well!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What's Abigail Reading? Anne of Green Gables

Abby has really been enjoying the adventures of Anne Shirley this summer. She likes the book, but then she discovered my wife's VHS tapes of the three movies and she absolutely fell in love with it. Here's her take on Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maude Montgomery.

Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

This story is about a girl named Anne who is an orphan and gets adopted by two old people named Marilla and Matthew. Anne finally got to live in a real home. Anne made a new friend named Diana Berry. Then Diana’s mom and dad had a school picnic and it was Anne’s first chance to taste ice cream. Anne loved the ice cream and had a great time at the party. One day Anne invited Diana to have tea. Anne accidentally picked out Marilla’s special wine instead of Raspberry Cordial and got Diana drunk.

Then one winter Diana came over to Anne’s house crying because her little sister was sick and both her parents were at the rally to meet the Prime Minister. Matthew got the doctor and Anne and Diana went to Diana’s house with a bottle of ipecac. Soon they got to the house and Anne asked Mary Joe to boil some water and Diana to bring a change of clothes. Before the doctor came Anne gave every single drop of ipecac. When the doctor came he said that if Anne didn’t give the medicine to the little girl it would have been too late. I am not going to tell you any more.

Here's what Abigail liked best about the book.

I liked the part when Anne helped the little girl because that was kind and if Anne didn’t help, then the little girl would die.

Was there anything that Abigail did nlt like about the book?

I don’t like the part where Anne’s an orphan because then you don’t have parents and you don’t have a real home.

So, how did Abigail rate Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maude Montgomery?

She gave it five out of five dolphins.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Character Interviews: Eric & Stig

In celebration of the release of The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion, I thought it would be nice to check in with Eric and Stig to get their thoughts on their latest Assignment.

Greg:  Hey guys. I've been paging through the latest book, and it looks to me like you've had quite an exciting time of things on this Assignment.

Eric:  Yeah, it was really tough. In a lot of ways, I think it was even more difficult than our first Assignment together.

Stig:  I quite agree. Each adventure is challenging in its own way, but I think this one was particularly challenging for myself, personally.

Greg:  Wow, that's saying something, considering you have been on a bunch of missions. Stig.

Stig:  Yes, this was only Eric's second, but it was my 13th. It proved to be very unlucky for me at times. I shudder to think of what might have happened.

Eric:  I don't like to think of it either. This one was an eye-opener for me. I learned that anything
can happen. i always thought, you know, that these Assignments could be dangerous, but that we were sort of, like, protected. But after this one, I realized that the danger is real.

Stig:  It was especially harrowing for me. Although I have always been well aware of the dangers, I'll admit that I may have become a trifle nonchalant about the whole thing over the years. I suppose that what happened to me was inevitable.

Greg:  Why? What happened to you?

Stig:  Hmmm? Oh, well I would not want to spoil anything for your readers--or yourself. You'll just have to read the book.

Eric:  Yeah, I still can't talk about it. Even thinking about it gives me the shivers.

Greg:  Oh fine, have it your way. I'll read the book and then we'll talk. Would it be too much to ask what, aside from this big mystery, was the most scary moment for you?

Eric:  For me it was definitely when Trelango took us all prisoner and wanted to zap me with that machine that added animal genes to your DNA. I'm afraid I can't tell you what happened, though.

Greg:  Of course you can't. How about you, Stig?

Stig:  Oh, well I suppose it was the time when I was flying through the virtual tunnel. It was starting to collapse and the sparkling mist--

Greg:  Sparkling mist?

Eric:  It's this, well, sparkling mist. Selango, the rebel leader--who's Trelango's brother in case you didn't know--built a virtual tunnel underneath Vynistra City. It wasn't real. It was made from this sparkling mist. The mist is really powerful--we don't really know exactly everything it can do.

Stig:  Yes, frightfully dangerous stuff, I'd guess. Selango ought never to have messed about with it. Still, I think that we were able to wrap things up sufficiently so that we shan't hear anything more about it.

Greg:  Let's hope so. If it's as powerful as you say, things could take a turn for the worse if it were to crop up again.

Eric:  You're right. I don't think the universe could stand too much of that stuff floating around.

Stig:  Perish the thought!

Greg:  Well, on that note, I think it's time to say goodnight. Thanks so much for sharing what little you could about your latest adventure. Despite all the mystery, it sounds like an exciting time.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Writer's Week #80: Planting Seeds

This week has been kind of quiet. I was busy on the writing and marketing fronts planting seeds, but nothing is ready to blossom just yet. I spent a lot of time putting in requests for reviews and interviews. A couple of my blogging friends will be posting reviews and/or interviews over the course of the next month or so.

I also contacted a couple of the local papers and they will be running articles in support of the book sometime this month. The weekly paper in the town I live will bee running an article in their back to school issue later in August. I'm really looking forward to that. My company's newsletter will be running an article on me this month, too. I always see a jump in sales when these outlets feature me.

So far, the release of The Deliverers 2 has been a mild success. Even with what I call a "soft release" i.e. relatively no publicity, I'm managing to sell a book-either paperback or Kindle-just about every other day. My goal for now is to sell at least one book on Amazon every day, and sell a bunch of books locally at various events for the rest of the year. I'll be happy with that modest success. If I can get a few reviews on Amazon (well, okay 20 or more) then I'll consider this book a success.

Once the publicity I've planned kicks in, I think I have a good shot at reaching my goals. Then, the plan is to finish up book 3 and release it this February. Speaking of book 3, The Golden Dragon of Ang is progressing very nicely.

I'm right at the climax of the book. Eric and the rest of the Deliverers are finding out something very important right now. It's pretty exciting. I wrote 2,000 words this week, putting the word count at 53,500 over 233 pages and 54 chapters. Daniel Vogel is working on the third (and hopefully, final) version of the map of the Dragon Islands. I'll keep you updated on my progress next week. Until then, enjoy!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What's Abigail Reading?: Smile

Summer has been very exciting for the children, what with camp and bowling and swimming. As a result, no one had a book to present yesterday. Apologies for the delay. However, today was a rainy one, so Abigail was able to find the time to write about a book that she's been reading. So, without further ado, I leave you to Abby who will tell you all about Smile, by Raina Telgemeier. It's a book that made an impression on her, having just had her braces taken off.

Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

This story is about a girl named Raina who knocked out her two front teeth. Raina had to go to the orthodontist to get braces. It took months to get her teeth straightened. One day there was an earthquake and the power went off for about four hours. They said that the Bay Bridge had collapsed. Soon they had their Valentine's party at school. Later, Raina tried out for the basketball team, but  she found out that she did not make the team.

Soon Raina stepped up to high school. She made new friends in high school and finally took her braces off. Raina went to the sophomore hop and danced with her friends. Then when she and her friends were having their picture taken, the photographer said smile and Raina's smile was finally straight.

What did Abigail like best about the book?

I really liked the part where the Bay Bridge collapsed, because that was cool.

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

I didn't like the part where Raina knocks out her teeth, because that was bad.

So, how did Abigail rate Smile by Raina Telgemeier?

She gave it five out of five dolphins.