Monday, December 30, 2013

Did You Know...Maurice Sendak

Well, this is it, the last post of 2013. I can't believe that New Year's Day is the day after tomorrow. With that in mind, I've decided to change things up in the coming year. I'll be cutting back on my Between the Lines character interviews and will be bringing back the popular Did You Know? series. For those of you not familiar with Did You Know?, I feature little-known facts about a different children's book author each week.

Before we continue I wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year, may all your dreams come true in 2014! Thank you all for the love and support you have given me this past year. I really appreciate it!

This week, we'll be discovering some fun facts about illustrator/author Maurice Sendak. Thanks to Wikipedia for the facts! If you have a fun fact about Maurice Sendak that I did not list here, please share it by leaving it in the comments.

Did you know...

  • Many of his extended family members died in the Holocaust?
  • When he was 12 he decided to become an illustrator after watching the movie Fantasia?
  • Older brother Jack Sendak was a children's book author,, too? Maurice illustrated two of them.
  • In addition to illustrating his own books such as Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, and Chicken Soup With Rice, he illustrated many books by other authors, including Else Holmelund Minarik's popular Little Bear series?
  • One of his first jobs was creating window displays for F.A.O. Schwarz in Manhattan?
  • His first job as an illustrator was illustrating a textbook? The name of the book was Atomics for the Millions by Dr. Maxwell Leigh Eidinoff in 1947.
  • His book In the Night Kitchen is one of the most frequently banned/censored books? The book features illustrations of a boy running naked through his dreams.
  • Sendak was on the original board of advisors for the Children's Television Workshop when the concept of Sesame Street was developed?
  • In addition to illustrating and writing books, Sendak designed sets for a number of ballets and operas? He also consulted and designed numerous movies, television shows and plays for both children ad adults.
  • Sendak was born in 1928 in Brooklyn, New York and died in 2012 in Danbury, Connecticut? 
Now, here's a little interview with Maurice Sendak about his views on childhood among other things:


Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Writer's Week #96: Beginning Another Journey

Hello all. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas/holiday. Mine was great, which is why I'm so late with this post. My children have been at my parents for the last few days and my wife and I took advantage of that by going to New York City yesterday. So, here's a rundown of what's been happening.

Looked up Eloise at the Plaza, but she wasn't home.
 I met with illustrator Daniel Vogel to talk about the progress of the artwork for The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang. Well, actually, I went over to his house for a get together with his family the day before Christmas. He kept me in suspense saying he wanted to wait until the cover was colored and the effects done before I saw it, but the artwork is complete and I should see it early in January. I can't wait!

I received a lot of gift cards from Amazon foe Christmas and I took the plunge and used some of them to purchase some movie making software. I've been pondering it for a while and doing some research. Amazon was offering a fantastic discount after Christmas and that decided me. The software will give me a lot more options when making video book trailers. Once I get it installed I'll take a stab at making new trailers for Sharky and the Jewel and Order of the Crystal Lion. I like the job I did on them, but I felt constrained by Windows Movie Maker. The software will give me a wider range of options and I'll be able to layer more tracks so I'll be able to try my hand at some voiceover.

Finally, I am pleased to say that the day after Christmas I began writing The Deliverers 4. I have to tell you
that I'm still hazy on quite a lot of the details, which is both scary and exciting. As usual, my weekly writing goal will be 2,000 words. I only wrote 900 words over three pages, but the important thing is that I;ve started it. I'll keep you updated on my progress every week.

So, as we sail from 2013 into 2014, things are looking very good. As always, I thank you for your interest in and support of The Deliverers Series and I hope you all have a very safe, happy and healthy New Year. I'll have one more post in 2013, kind of a blast from the past with a new twist. Look for it tomorrow evening! See you then!

Found this great journal--this has to find its
way into The Deliverers 4!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Between the Lines: Ebenezer Scrooge

Christmas is in a couple of days and Christmas Eve is tomorrow! I really can't believe it's come so quickly. My children are bubbling with anticipation. As a matter of fact, all the children are bursting with a barely contained excitement. It was really evident at church yesterday. The priest gathered all the kids around the alter for the homily and they could not sit still. Anyway, I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas/holiday. may God grant you all you desire in the coming year. I won't be posting again until Friday, so enjoy your holiday.

Now, I'm very excited to let you know that we've got someone very special here to speak with. Tonight, we'll be talking to that old humbug himself, Ebenezer Scrooge. So, let's see what the old miser has to say.

Greg:  Welcome, Mr. Scrooge. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Scrooge:  What? Oh, er, um, yes...why yes, it is getting to be that time of year! Why Merry Christmas to you my good fellow, and to your family as well.

Greg:  Umm, thank you. Excuse me for asking, but are you feeling all right?

Scrooge:  Never felt better in my life. Fit as a fiddle I am my boy. Why do you ask? 

Greg:  Well, it's just that I didn't expect to get that kind of answer from you. To be honest, I thought you'd get mad, and say something like--

Scrooge:  What? You mean like bah, humbug? No, now don't protest. I know that is what you were driving at. You're an intelligent young man I see. Yes, that was the old Ebenezer Scrooge. I was quite the wet blanket in the old days. I suppose people thought me quite disagreeable--a regular miser. But that all changed a few years back.

Greg:  You don't say. What happened?

Scrooge:  Well I'll tell you my boy, although I doubt you'll believe me. I had an epiphany of sorts. I received a healthy dose of Christmas spirit--three spirits in fact.

Greg:  I don't quite follow you.

Scrooge:  I didn't either, at first. It started one Christmas Eve when I was visited by my old partner, Jacob Marley.

Greg:  How nice, a visit from an old friend.

Scrooge:  Maybe, but in this case Marley had been dead for seven years, so it was quite a shock. To tell you the truth, I never liked him much when he was alive. He was even worse as a ghost. He kept yammering on and on about wasting his time being concerned with accumulating wealth. And then he'd rattle those chains that he'd forged in life. It set my teeth on edge.

To top it all off, he said that I was in danger of sharing his fate, and that I'd better shape up. He told me that I'd be visited by three more ghosts before the night was through. He got my attention with that one--but not for long. I figured I had a touch of indigestion. I burped, and he disappeared, so I quickly forgot about it and went to bed. 

Greg:  I'm guessing that's not the end of the story, though.

Scrooge:  You're right about that. First, the Ghost of Christmas Past took me on a walk down memory lane. That's a very painful road for me, I've got to tell you. Lots of trouble and angst. But there were also some good times, too--things I'd almost forgotten.

The next ghost to pay me a visit was the Ghost of Christmas Present, a thoroughly unpleasant specter  All he did was show me images of my impertinent relations who apparently spend all their time mocking me. I also paid a visit to the family of my lazy clerk, Bob Cratchit. They were very poor--I never realized just how poor they were. His little boy Tiny Tim was such a callow sickly lad. It about broke my heart. And yes, before you ask, I do have a heart.

The third ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, was the most horrifying spirit of all. The visions he showed me were terrible. First, Tiny Tim died, then, I died. I found that nobody really cared for me. In fact, they all despised me. Well, I thought, why would they feel like that? It made me think in spite of myself. The thing that really moved me, though, was that Tiny Tim had died. Such a happy, high spirited lad. There is nothing worse than a suffering child, I don't think.

Greg:  You're right there. So, what was the cause of your change of heart?

Scrooge:  Well, I'd like to say that it was the thought of what would happen to poor Tiny Tim, but if I were truly honest, I would have to say that it was the sight of my own grave. Of course, I knew that in order to avoid that grim apparition, I'd have to change my ways. I was thankful that the way for me to do that was to save Tiny Tim.

Greg:  Tiny Tim got better?

Scrooge:  I am happy to say he did. I made sure he received the best medical care, and I made sure there was always plenty to eat on the Cratchit table. In my life I have accomplished many things and made a mountain of money, but the recovery of Tiny Tim has been my greatest achievement. And, while I may have saved him, I owe him my life, because he just as surely saved me.

Greg:  Well, thank you very much for an unexpectedly enjoyable chat. I hope you have a very merry Christmas.

Scrooge:  And you as well. Keep the Christmas spirit in your heart the whole year 'round, and no chains will be able to contain it. You will soar with angels.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Character Book Club Welcomes Anna Green

Hey everybody! Today's a real special day, because Greg has handed over control of the Deliverers Blog to me--Kate Endria--and my friend, Hallo Tosis the dwarf. Why has Greg given us power over his blog? We've been asked to host this month's meeting of the Character Book Club! The CBC is this great club where characters from fantastic middle grade novels hang out and get to know each other better! Hallo and I are really excited to be speaking with Anna Green from Maro L. Dill's wonderful book, Finding My Place.

So, let's get right to it.

Kate:  Hi Anna! It’s great to meet you. Welcome to the Deliverers blog and congratulations on becoming a member of the Character Book Club. Hallo and I are really excited to find out more about you and your story. We aren’t from your world, but our friend Eric is, and he told us a little about the Civil War. What was it like to be living in a city under siege?

Anna:  Hi Kate! Before I became part of the Character Book Club, I didn’t even know there was another world, and now I am talking to someone from one. My brother, James, will never believe this, and he is going to be so jealous. To answer your question, living in a city under siege is very difficult. It was very hot during those summer months, and the caves we had to live in weren’t exactly underground—they were built in the sides of yellow clay hills. It was muggy, and there were an awful lot of mosquitoes, too. But the worst part was that my family was separated because of the war. Only three of us were together—myself and my younger siblings, James and Sara.

Hallo:  I heard tell you had t’ live underground for a spell. I’m a dwarf, an’ m’ folk live in the
Dwarf Kingdom under the Iron Mountains. What was it like livin’ in a cave an’ bein’ bombed an’ such?

Anna:  I really like the way you talk. To be honest, it was not very enjoyable to live in a cave. We were very bored. We had to stay inside to be safe from the shells flying overhead, so we played games like checkers and marbles. But James is a cheater, and so it is not very fun to play with him. Mrs. Franklin, our mean neighbor whom we lived with for a while, wanted us to do chores all day inside the cave. She would make up things for us to do. It was not easy.

Kate:  War is dreadful. What was your life like before the war? What do you do for fun?

Anna:  Before the war, my family lived all together in a house in Vicksburg, and we were very close. My pa read to us all the time, and my mom and our servants made delicious suppers. My older brother Michael helped me with my school work if I had any trouble. He is one of the smartest people I know. My youngest sister, Sara, who is only 6 played with her dolls a lot. My ma always wanted me to learn to be a proper lady, but I was much more interested in the books my pa was reading or writing my own stories.

Hallo:  For a long time, I was kind of a loner, don’t ya know. What’re your friends like?

Anna:  My friends are mostly at school. Once I came home, I had chores and played with my sister and brother. I didn’t have much free time. But I have a crush on one boy named Albert. I will tell you more about him later. I think Kate is more interested in boys than you are, Hallo.

Kate:  One of my favorite things about being part of the Deliverers and going on Assignments to different worlds is that I get to learn about how others live. What’s it like living in the 19th century?

Anna:  I thought it was wonderful, but then I came here to talk to some other characters and saw these machines called computers. But, you want to know about the 19th century. We lived in a nice brick house, but it was hot in the summer. In the winter, we had fires and wood stoves to keep us warm. We had a lot of chores to do just to live, although in town we did have a general store where we could go to get supplies. We travel around on a horse or in a wagon or buggy. Girls wear dresses all the time, and church is very important in our lives. My pa often reads to us from the Bible at night by a lantern. One thing kids always want to know is where did I go to the bathroom? I did not have a bathroom in my house or in the cave. We had to go in outhouses.

Hallo:  M’ Pappy an’ I didn’t get along so well for a while, but now we’re thick as thieves. What are your parents like?

Anna:  It’s hard for me to talk about my parents. I don’t really want to tell you why, but during the Siege, they are not able to take care of us. But before the war, they were wonderful, kind, and loving. My pa understood me better than my ma, but I know she loved me just the same.

Kate:  If you could travel anywhere in time, when and where would you go?

Anna:  Oh my gosh, I don’t know. I think I would travel to when I’m 16 (that’s just three years from now) because I want to know if Albert is going to marry me or not.  I also heard that the war ends in 1865, and so I want to leave the war behind.

Hallo:  We’re comin’ up on the holidays. M’ folk like t’ have a kinda wild time when it comes t’ celebratin’. How do your folk celebrate Christmas an’ such?

Anna:  We always have too much to eat, including a huge turkey that my brother Michael hunts for us. He loves to hunt. Sometimes, we would go to my grandparents’ plantation a few miles away from town, but it took a very long time to get there, since we had to ride in a wagon. Sometimes, they came to our house. We always go to church on Christmas Eve and thank God for giving us his son, Jesus. In the morning when we wake up, we each have a few presents to open, and we sing Christmas songs.

Kate:  Okay, so I’ve been dying to talk about this, but wasn’t sure how to bring it up. Eric and I have been on a few Assignments together now. I really like him, but sometimes he drives me crazy. I think we’re just friends, but there are times when I catch myself hoping it might be something more. He seems to be totally clueless about that sort of thing. How did you and Albert get together? How did you know that you liked each other?

Anna:  Kate, I have been waiting for you to tell me about Eric and to ask me about Albert. At first, I couldn’t even talk in front of him. It was like bees were buzzing in my stomach the entire time he was in the room. But then he helped me when my parents weren’t able to during the Siege. We spent more and more time together, and then one day, he kissed my hand, and I felt it all the way to my toes.

Hallo:  Well that’s interestin’ an’ everything, but can’t we talk about somethin’ else? Eric might just be readin’ this, don’t ya know. Do ya have any soldiers in your town and what’re they like?

Anna:  Hallo, unfortunately, the soldiers that bombed us for 47 days while we lived in caves are the ones that won the Siege. Our army had to surrender, and now we have Yankee soldiers in Vicksburg. Some of them are nice, but most of them take our food and belongings. We have all started to bury items we want to keep away from them. My brother Michael says things will go back to normal in a while when these soldiers become busy with other people and other cities. I hope he’s right. 

Kate:  Thanks Anna, it was great meeting you and finding out a little bit about yourself and life in the 1800's.

Hallo:  Yeah, it was real illuminatin', don't ya know, 'cept maybe that girl stuff 'bout who likes who, but I guess that can't be helped.

To find out more about Margo L. Dill and her books, visit her website.
You can also get a copy of Finding My Place on Amazon. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Paying it Forward, Thanks to You

There are signs all over that Christmas is fast approaching--people are smiling more, everyone is rushing about, lights and decorations are everywhere and my children are bubbling with barely controlled excitement. Another sign that the magic day is almost here is that the packaging of the gifts has begun at the Salvation Army.

Six wonderful authors joined me in donating 114 books to this fantastic event. My family and I spent the past two nights helping other volunteers put together gift packages for children in need. Once packaging is completed tomorrow, parents will come on Friday to pick them up. This is such a great program and it brings the joy and spirit Christmas not just to those who receive but also those who give.

I am thankful for the opportunity to share the gift of giving with my family. Each year Christian and Abigail are able to do a little bit more as they grow and mature. They make me proud. My wife Stephanie is a tremendous example to them and I'm glad she's my best friend.

This year had been even more special, because when I asked for help my readers came through by purchasing books so that I could donate one for each that I sold. I am truly grateful for my author friends who either donated copies of their books or copies of books that they had collected. A huge thank you to:


 C. Lee McKenzie  Alligators Overhead               Karen Toz  Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas

Stephanie Robinson, The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow

I can't possibly thank you all enough!

I wanted to post some pictures now, because I won't be posting a Writer's Week column this week, Instead, I'll be hosting this month's meeting of the Character Book Club, featuring Anna from Margo Dill's wonderful book, Finding My Place. I hope to see you on Friday. Now, here are some pictures from the gift packaging:

Books and toys being bagged
Gifts bagged & ready to go!

Christian in the midst of Santa's Workshop

A lineup of really cool books

Monday, December 16, 2013

Between the Lines: Frosty the Snowman

Up in our neck of the woods, it snowed all day this past Saturday, and there is more snow on the way tomorrow. With that in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to talk with someone who is extremely familiar with snow. I gave this person a call, and he said he would be more than happy to chat with us. So, without further ado, here's Frosty the Snowman.

Greg:  Hi Frosty, thanks for coming down from the North Pole to spend some time with us.

Frosty:  No trouble at all. It's nice and chilly down here this time of year, so I had no worries about coming so far south. Now if it had been earlier in the year, say July, it would have been impossible--too hot you see.

Greg:  Yes, I see. I guess that means you still spend most of your time with Santa at the North Pole.

Frosty:  Oh yes. It's about the only place where it's cold enough all of the time, although I have heard rumors that with global warming the polar icecaps are shrinking. The other day a group of polar bears passed by Santa's workshop wearing sunglasses and sunscreen, so perhaps the rumors are true. I turned the air conditioning up just in case.

Greg:  Probably a wise thing to do, you can never take chances.

Frosty:  No you never can. Once I took a chance. My friend Karen was cold and I took her into a greenhouse to get warm. I figured it'd be okay to go in for just a minute or two. Things didn't work out like I planned and I wound up as a puddle on the floor. Thank goodness Santa Claus showed up and saved the day.

Greg:  Oh yes, I remember that. Is it true you still visit Karen every Christmas?

Frosty:  Yes. Santa drops me off every Christmas Eve, and Karen and I hang out for a couple of weeks. Sometimes Hocus Pocus the rabbit stops by, too. Just between you and me, he can be a bit much at times. He scampers around quite a bit--a very jittery fellow, but he's a good friend.  I just wouldn't want to have to spend a month with him.

Greg:  What about Professor Hinkle. Do you ever see him?

Frosty:  Not for many years. After Santa gave him his assignment and he got a new hat, I'd see him every once in a while when I'd visit Karen. That all stopped though when he made the semifinals of America's Got Talent.

Greg:  Oh wow, his magic must have improved considerably to make the semifinals. 

Frosty:  Well no, he's still a cruddy magician. He has a fire dancing act now. He learned it on a trip to Borneo. I haven't seen it, but they say it's really hot. Not my cup of tea, really.

Greg:  It's good to hear that everyone seems to be doing well now. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. It's getting a little chilly in here, do you mind if I put another log on the fire.

Frosty:  No, not at all, as long as you let me put my head in the freezer. On second thought, that's okay. I'll just stand outside and wait for Santa to pick me up. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Writer's Week #95: Lots To Tell

Okay, where to start? This week has been just fantastic. First off, we capped off our book drive for the Salvation Army. We wound up with a grand total of 114 books! You can see a sampling of them in the picture below. On Monday and Tuesday, volunteers will be packaging the gifts and the books for the families. Distribution day will be Friday, December 20th. I'll update the blog with photos as things we move along.

A big thank you to all those who purchased copies of The Deliverers Series books. Thanks to you I will donate 67 copies. Thank you, too to my wonderful author friends who donated copies of their wonderful books. Here's a list with links to their books. Please support them. Not only did they answer my call for help, but they are very generous with donations to other worthy causes as well!

Another big thank you has to go to author Stephanie Robinson who donated a stack of books that she had purchased at her school's book fair. She and co-author Jessica Haight have written a wonderful book, The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow, that will be published by Random House/Dellacourt in the fall of 2015.

Speaking of Stephanie and Jessica, they were nice enough to feature me on their blog this week. On Wednesday they posted a wonderful review of The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion. On Friday, they featured a nice interview with me. It was a lot of fun chatting with them about my writing and my plans for the Deliverers Series going forward. There is also a giveaway for you to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Order of the Crystal Lion.

With all this going on, it was hard fitting in any writing. I don't think I'll begin work on The Deliverers 4 until after Christmas, but I have been busy making final edits to The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang. I should be finished with those sometime today (thank you snow!).

I was also a little surprised when I received an email from illustrator Daniel Vogel. It contained a new conceptual sketch for the cover of The Golden Dragon of Ang. I thought the original concept was fine, but apparently he wasn't satisfied. He ran it by his mother, graphic designer Ana Vogel, and she agreed. So, it was back to the drawing board--literally. He had rendered the original illustration on the computer, and as I said, I liked it. The handdrawn version was head and shoulders better than the first, though. It really blew me away. I quickly gave my approval. The good news is that we should still be on schedule for a completed cover in early January and a publication date sometime in February!

This has turned into quite a long post, but I have one more piece of news. For the next week, the Kindle version of both books in the Deliverers Series will be on sale for just 99 cents on Amazon! Please stop by and purchase a copy of Sharky and the Jewel and Order of the Crystal Lion before this deal goes away! Please share this with your friends, too. Thanks and have a great week!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What's Abigail Reading? The Power of Un

This week's Reading Crew column is a little late. Abigail spent last evening furiously reading the end of this week's books, so we delayed things so she could give us a report. So, without further ado here she is to tell us about The Power of Un, by Nancy Etchemendy.

Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

This book is about a boy named Gib Finney. It takes place in the country.  First, Gib shot  spitball in class and it landed on Lorraine Frongner’s head.   Then Lorraine got in trouble for shooting the spitball but it was really Gib.  Now, Lorraine is really mad at Gib.  Next, Gib runs away from Lorraine and runs into the forest and meets an old man.  

The old man tells Gib about a device called the “unner”.  Before it is too late, Gib has to find out how to work it by himself.  Next, Gib meets Ash at the carnival and they go on rides.  They were supposed to watch out for Gib’s little sister Roxie and when they wanted to go on the devil’s elevator, they told Roxie to stay put.  Roxie did not do as she was told.  Instead she ran after a stray dog.  

After the ride, Gib and Ash ran after Roxie and before they knew it, Roxie was run over by a truck.   After that, Roxie was in a coma and the doctor said that she might not come out of the coma.  Gib used the unner and went backwards in time to fix the accident.  When he went back in time, he was at the carnival again and they were going on the devil’s elevator again and he spotted Roxie and Lorraine getting off a pony.  When the ride stopped they tried to catch up to Roxie and Lorraine.  They met up and went to get Roxie a candy apple and the stray dog came along again.  Roxie went after it and Gib, Ash, and Lorraine chased her.  Lorraine and Ash pulled her away and Gib ended up having a broken leg instead.

The theme is perseverance and always be nice and helpful. 

So, how did Abigail rate The Power of Un, by Nancy Etchemendy?

She gave it four out of five dolphins.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Between the Lines: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

As the Christmas season rushes up to meet us, I thought it would be fun to chat with one of Santa's favorite reindeer. I was lucky enough to be able to get him to take a few moments from his busy schedule to chat with us a little bit. Here's Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer.

Greg:  Thank you so much for taking some time out to talk with us. What is your favorite thing about the holidays?

Rudolph:  I think it's the fact that everyone is just a little bit nicer to each other in December. There is still a lot of sadness in the world, but at this time of year, I think it's just a little bit less sad.

Greg:  So, I have to ask. What's it like having a nose that lights up?

Rudolph:  It's never seemed that special to me, I've always had it. For others, though, it was pretty shocking at first. Not many people were nice to me. It took them a while to adjust and I hated my nose. Now, people have gotten used to it and have come to accept it, so I'm good with it. Of course that whole storm thing turned out to be a blessing in disguise. That's where I was able to prove I belonged.

Greg:  Oh yes, that was a terrible storm, wasn't it?

Rudolph:  The worst. Santa's magi castle was shut down. No power or anything. Even the auxiliary generators were knocked out. It looked like Santa would have to cancel all his deliveries on Christmas Eve. Then he had a bright idea. My nose was glowing as usual, and he had the idea that I would light the way at the head of his team.

That was a big moment for me and I consider myself very fortunate. Until then, the other reindeer laughed and called me names and wouldn't let me play in any of their reindeer games. After that Christmas, things changed a lot. There was a lot of attention and publicity thrown my way. I did not like being in the spotlight, so to speak, but I try to be a good role model. Not that a reindeer with a red nose is better or worse than any other flying reindeer. I try to include the others as much as possible--spread the love if you will.

Greg:  That's great. What's the best thing about being part of Santa's team?

Rudolph:  Bringing presents to boys and girls around the world. That's what it's all about--making people happy. Santa does such great work, it's fantastic to be a part of that and contribute in some small way.

Greg:  Well, you are a big part of it, actually, and we here at White Owl Manuscripts would like to thank you for everything you do and for taking time out to talk with us.

Rudolph:  Well, thank you very much. It's been a lot of fun. I've got to get back now, but I'll be stopping by to see you on Christmas Eve, be sure to leave the reindeer food and cookies. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Writer's Week #94: With a Little Help From My Friends

It's been a couple weeks since I've had a chance to sit down and compose a Writer's Week post, so let's get caught up. Hmmm, where to start? I had a fantastic day at the Newtown Holiday Festival last Sunday in Newtown, CT. Everybody was so friendly and a sold some books to some great kids, made some friends and hopefully some new fans. For every book I sold, I donated a matching copy to the Salvation Army for their wonderful Christmas Distribution program.

The Christmas Song Story by Calia Carlile and Orison Carlile   Now Available


Thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of either Sharky & the Jewel or Order of the Crystal Lion and some wonderful authors who have donated copies of their books (C. Lee McKenzie, Karen Pokras Toz, Kimberly Sentek, Margo L. Dill and Celia & Orison Carlile) I have 88 books. With a week to go, I only need 12 more books to reach my goal of 100. Help us do it by visiting my store. Thanks so much! We're almost there!

Last night I sat down with illustrator Daniel Vogel for the last of our meetings to review progress on the cover for The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang. It is really coming along. We discussed some tweaks and color/style points. I'm really pleased and excited by the way it's shaping up. I should have the final artwork to review shortly after Christmas and the finished front cover in early January, which means we're still on track for a February release. I'm really looking forward to it as I'm extremely pleased with the book.

With all this activity, I have not allocated much time to finishing the plotting of The Deliverers 4. That's okay, though. Most of the major plot points have been worked out. I think I'm ready to start writing and I'll let the characters sort out how to handle whatever crops up. That being said, I suppose I need to get on with writing the darn thing. So, my plan is to begin writing this week. I'll let you know how I make out next week.

Oh yes, this coming week will feature a couple of exciting things that you should watch for. Order of the Crystal Lion is being reviewed on Wednesday the 11th on The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow. They will also be running an interview with me on (gulp) Friday the 13th, which I hope does not prove to be unlucky for either myself or them. Jessica and Stephanie are good friends and I am grateful, as usual, for their support!

I also have one other bit of news that I will share with you next Friday. I can't say much, but if you have a Kindle, like middle grade fantasy, and like to save money you will love this announcement. Watch this space on Friday to find out what it is. Peace!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Character Interview: Captain Burt Sharky

Here's the last of the original character interviews that ran at the end of 2011. Back then, next to no one read my newly minted blog, so I decided to rerun the interviews now that there are a few more people to see them. Here is the final installment:

Our weekly Sunday Character Interview Series concludes with an interview with Captain Burt Sharky, the meanest, toughest, nastiest pirate to sail the high seas. This should be interesting. I hope he doesn't pillage and burn the place!

Editor:  Well, thank you for taking the time to sit down and chat with us, Captain Sharky.

Sharky:  Argh! Aint no trouble at all matey. Every once in a while it’s good t’ get outta the water inta drydock an’ scrape the barnacles off m’ keel.

Ed.:  I can see how that would be necessary from time to time. Tell us a little bit about yourself, if you don’t mind.

Sharky:  Well, I been at sea most o' m’ life.

Ed.:  Oh, that’s marvelous. Did you start as a cabin boy?

Sharky:  No, nothin’ like that. See, m’ old man were a pirate. When he spotted a ship he wanted to pillage, he and the rest o’ the crew’d get belowdecks and leave me on deck by m’self. I were only about 7 or 8, and I’d set to hollerin’ and whinin’ and carryin’ on. The target ship’d always come see what the fuss were about. They’d see me alone on deck, and I’d shout that everyone were washed overboard in a storm. They’d come over to rescue me, and m’ dad’s crew would overpower ‘em and board their ship. We took a lot of fat prizes that way.

Ed.:  Oh, how, umm, cute.

Sharky:  Them were the days. ‘Bout the only happy times I can remember, ‘cept o’ course when I found m’ ring. Things started lookin’ up after that.

Ed.: Your ring?

Sharky:  Aye. I took it from a lubber one time when I was ashore. I’d lost m’ ship and I wanted the ring to finance a new one. I ran the dog through, took the ring, but I couldn’t bring m’ self to sell it. Instead, I kept it and stole a merchant vessel.

I recruited a new crew, found a good island hideout, and set about plunderin’ vessels. I grew to be successful and set up a piratin’ empire. I was known throughout the world as the meanest, dirtiest, most rotten scoundrel to sail the high seas.

Ed.:  So I understand. What happened with Cal Endria and his group?

Sharky:  Endria and his lilly livered dogs were nothin’ but cowardly sheep. They lost their stomach for fighten’ and wanted to settle down. I should of keel hauled the lot of ‘em. Instead, though, I decided that they could be useful in their own way.

I set up the Tariff where they had to give me half of everything they produced for a hunnert years. Then after the hunnert years had gone by, I double crossed ‘em. I came sailin’ in with a new weapon and kept chargin’ the Tariff twice a year for another two hunnert, until that kid and his bird came.

Ed.:  Hold on. Just how long have you been alive?

Sharky:  I were born over 350 years ago. It were the ring, ya see.  It give me long life and great power. No one ever thought to double cross ol’ Sharky, because I beat Death hisself. Then along came that Eric brat and his bird. Arghhh, I can’t talk ‘bout it no more! Read the cursed book.

Ed.:  What do you like to do in your spare time?

Sharky:  Oh, I don’t know. Terrorizin’ children and small animals, bullyin’, belittlin’, swearin’, carryin’ on,  hangin’ swabs from the yardarm, the usual things, I s’pose.

Ed.:  Have you ever come across Captain Jack Sparrow?

Sharky:  Arghhhhh! Don’t mention that name! The slippery eel still owes me his ship, the Black Pearl. I won it fair and square in a poker game, but he give me the slip when I were tryin’ to take possession. If he ever comes across me bow again, he’ll get a long, painful death, or my name ain't Captain Burt Sharky!

Ed.:  How has the release of the book impacted your life?

Sharky:  Are ya daft?! How has it affected m’ life? It’s ruined it ya lubber, that’s what it’s done! I can’t show m’self at any pirate meets. I get so mad, I could run someone through!

Ed.:  Well, on that note, I think it’s time to wrap this up. Thank you so much for taking some time to talk with us.

Sharky:  How do I get out of this pigsty? I’ve got to get back to m' ship. I’m thinkin’ of startin’ a ghost pirate crew. Mortals can’t stand ghosts!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Character Interview: Hallo Tosis

We kick off this week by speaking to the four, but by no means least, member of the Deliverers. Yes, it's Hallo Tosis the (at one time) outcast dwarf from the Iron Mountains. He was raring to go for this interview. He was also the one who unmasked my little deception about the supposed opulence of Deliverers Publishing Headquarters. Ah well, it was probably for the best. Here he is.

Editor:  Welcome, Hallo, to The Deliverers Publishing Headquarters. It’s great to have you here.

Hallo: Thank’ee, thank’ee it’s great t’ be here, too. But, from what the others said, I thought it’d be more fancy-like, don’t ya know.

Ed.: Umm, how do you mean?

Hallo:  Oh, well, er, they said this were a magnificent showpiece an’ all. But t’ tell ya the truth, an’ I really don’t know how t’ tell ya this an’ all, but this here’s a real dump, don’t ya know. ‘T ain’t so much to it. They said the corridors went on f’ever an’ that there was fancy furniture an’ paintin’s an’ such, but I ain’t seen none o’ them things.
 Ed.: Hallo! It’s a joke!

Hallo: A which?

Ed.:  A joke. A running gag. We’ve been doing it throughout the interview series. Didn’t the others tell you?

Hallo:  Wha’? Oh, er, um, sorry ‘bout that. Come t’ think on it, now that ya mention it, they did say somethin’ ‘bout gaggin’. It come t’ mind ‘cause I felt like gaggin’ when I come in, don’t ya know. Sorry I spoilt the joke, sonny.

Ed.:  Oh, don’t worry about it, Hallo. Let’s just get on with the interview, shall we?

Hallo:  You go it, mister. Let’s get this show on the road, don’t ya know.

Ed.:  Alrighty, then. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hallo:  Well, let’s see. You’re prob’ly wonderin’ ‘bout m’ name. Hallo Tosis ain’t such a hot name. It were given t’ me by m’ pappy, Jeremiah Tosis. He has a cuttin’ sense o’ humor, an’ he thought it funny t’ give me such a stinky name.

I was borned in the Dwarf Kingdom. I come from a long line of smithies. Some o’ m’ ancestors was silversmithies, some were goldsmithies. Some were sculptors, artisans, an’ some was tunnelers, don’t ya know. M’ pappy is the Royal Goldsmithy, the official goldsmithy t’ the kin, a right important position.

On the other hand, I don’t have none o’ them skills. I’m the only one o’ m’ folk without the Gift, as we call it. M’ pappy were right fed up w’ me. In fact, he had me banished. So, I took t’ wanderin’ in the mountains, not bein’ able t’ go home an’ afraid t’ be found out by the Big Folk.

Then, I met Eric, Stig ‘n’ Kate, an’ m’ life took a turn for the better, don’t ya know.

Ed.:  What’s the Dwarf Kingdom like?

Hallo:  It’s a place o’ unsurpassed beauty, don’t ya know. It’s located under the Iron Mountains, not too far from Calendria. There are many villages in the Kingdom, an’ everyone lives in comfort, like. I sure missed livin’ there.

The art were stupendous. There are carvin’s an' reliefs cut inta the walls. Gold an’ jewel inlaid statues line the streets. The villages bustle with activity in the marketplaces an’ forges. I’m proud that I’m from the Kingdom.

Ed.:  What are your thoughts about the rest of the Deliverers?

Hallo:  I can’t say enough about ‘em. Without them, I don’t rightly know where I’d be. Eric’s been through a lot, an’ he’s a good lad. He had a big load on his shoulders, an’ I’m glad I could help him out a little, don’t ya know.

Now Stig, he’s a crusty ol’ birdie, but he means well. I just wish he’d loosen up a wee bit, don’t ya know. He’s the one what’s done this all before, so he helped keep us all focused on the task at hand.

Kate, she’s a grand lass.  I’m glad t’ have her an’ her folk for neighbors. Her pappy, the Lord Mayor is all right, too. Kate helped keep us all together, kept us from getting’ on each other’s nerves.

I think we all work well t’gether, don’t ya know, an’ I’m hopin’ we’ll get t’ work t’gether in the future.

Ed.:  What do you like to do in your spare time?

Hallo:  Well, I have a new job now, an’ that keeps me pretty busy, don’t ya know. When I’m off duty, I still try m’ hand at metal workin’. I ain’t improved none. I also like t’ go down t’ Calendria t’ see Kate an’ her pappy. I also chew the fat with Cordon, the village  blacksmithy, talkin’ shop. Me an’ the apothecary, Mrs. Bubblebeak, I mean Madame Bottleneck, have also become thick as thieves. I go over for a chat now an’ again.

Part o’ me, though, is waitin’ t’ go on an Assignment. I think one day, I’ll be called t’ go on one. I’m interested t’ meet the Gatekeeper. When that happens, I’ll be ready t’ go on another great adventure.

Ed.:  Why do you think that dwarves love treasure so much?

Hallo:  Well now, it’s so beautiful. It’s the greatest feeling t’ take gold an’ jewels an’ make them inta somethin’ even more breathtakin’ than what ya started with. Treasurer’s why we dig. It’s our whole purpose—t’ find it an’ mold it.

Ed.:  Speaking of treasure, what can you tell us about the Jewel?

Hallo:  Beggin’ your pardon, there ain’t much I can say ‘bout it. It’s our oldest legend an’ our deepest secret.  Suffice it t’ say that the Jewel o’ Paradise is a jewel beyond price, an’ it lies on the other side o’ the Iron Mountains. But it’s guarded by fierce beasts. None what’s gone after the Jewel has ever got back alive. You kin learn all ya need t’ know  ‘bout it in the book, don’t ya know.

Ed.:  How has the release of this book changed your life?

Hallo:  Well, it’s exposed a lot o’ the secrets o’ the Kingdom. That’s been right strange ‘cause we’re private folk who don’t take t’ makin’ our comin’s an’ goin’s public. I almost got in trouble with the king all over agin over the whole mess. But, since it worked out okay for everyone in the end, the king figured there weren’t no harm in it. So, now I’m a lot famouser, an’ folk’re recognizin’ me more. Usually when they do, they got good things t’ say about the job I done. So it’s been right gratifyin’, don’t ya know.

Ed.:  Well thank you, Hallo, for taking a few minutes to speak with us. Will you have any trouble finding your way out?

Hallo:  Are ya daft? The door’s right over there. It ain’t like this place is a palace or anythin’. Oh, er. Uh, yeah, right. I mean, I think I’ll be all right. Us dwarves have a great sense o’ direction. It’ll take a lot more than a few windin’ twistin’ passages for me t’ get lost, although I might have trouble crossin’ the moat, don’t ya know.

Hey, how’s that?

Ed.:  Oh, that’s just great. Thanks a lot, Hallo.

Hallo:  How’d ya like the part about the moat? I thought that one up all on m’ own. Right good touch if I do say so m’self!