Thursday, February 27, 2014

What's Abigail Reading? Frozen

Abigail wrote a short book report for school and she wanted me to post it as the latest installment of the Reading Crew. So, here's her take on Frozen. Let's see what she had to say about it.

Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

The book is about a family who rules a kingdom called Arendalle. First, Elsa's sister Anna asked, "Do you want to build a snowman?" Elsa got up from bed and raced her sister down the hall. When they were building slippery slides, Anna got hit by Elsa's magic powers.

Next, as Elsa's powers grow stronger, she asks her parents to stay away. When her parents go away on a ship they end up dying. Now Elsa's the new queen and they finally open up the gates. Then, Elsa runs away because everyone knows her secret now. Everyone tries to stop her but no one does.

After that, Anna goes on a journey to find her sister and to bring back summer. Anna finds some new friends on the way. With their help, Anna s
aves her sister from a bad guy who is trying to kill Elsa, and jn Arendalle summer is back.

The theme is--to help others because if someone you love or care about is getting hurt then he/she will need the help.

So how did Abby rate the book version of Frozen?

She gave it four out of five dolphins.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Between the Lines: Rumpelstiltskin

On a recommendation from the Brothers Grimm, I was able to secure an interview with the reclusive and very secretive gold spinning gnome, Rumpelstiltskin. Even though the Grimms story has given him a huge amount of notoriety, he still shuns the limelight. Let's find out what interesting tidbits of information he can give us.

Greg:  Well, well, it certainly is a pleasure to have the world famous Rump--

Rumpelstiltskin:  No! Don't you say it! I'll not have you blabbin' my name all over the place! My name's my name and there's no one but me's goin' to use it!

Greg:  Well, I think it's a little late for that now, don't you? I mean, just about everyone has read your story. They all know your name is Rum--

Rumpelstiltskin:  Tut, tut. No sir! Don't you say it. I don't care if they do know it. It's the principal of the thing, you know! I'll not have my name spoken while I'm around if I can help it.

Greg:  Okay, okay. Sorry. I won't mention it, I promise. So what are you up to these days?

Rumpelstiltskin:  Well, not singing, that's for sure. The last time, I lost my chance at the queen's son, and a whole kingdom.

Greg;  Yes, that was unfortunate for you, although most readers weren't too upset by it to be honest with you.

Rumpelstiltskin:  The public don't have no sympathy. They see a beautiful princess and an old gnome, so of course they're gonna side with her. No one tries to see poor old, um, my point of view. The world don't understand. We had an agreement, a bindin' contract, and she didn't play fair. She went and spied on me. 

And look at the girl's father. What kind of parent is he, I ask you? He tells the king "Oh yeah, she can spin straw into gold, yeah right, no problem!" What kind of father does that to his daughter? I'll tell you what kind. A greedy one that's what. He out to have been drummed out of the Fraternal Order of Fathers if you ask me.

Greg:  You may have a point there.

Rumpelstiltskin:  A point?! I think I have more than a point! If it wasn't for me, she would have been thrown in the dungeon after the first night. I was doin' her a favor. No one sees it my way. Oh it makes me mad!

Greg:  But surely you've been able to rise above that setback after all this time. What are you up to these days?

Rumpelstiltskin:  Well, I saw the error of my ways, obviously. I realized I'd been barkin' up the wrong tree. Straw is right out. I don't work in straw any more. I turned to paper. I turned a lot of paper into gold. For example, I turned stocks into gold in the late 1920's. Stocks they called 'em. I turned a lot of stocks into gold for people.

Greg:  Yeah, that was great, but the stock market crashed in 1929.

Rumpelstiltskin:  Well, the effect was only temporary. Paper don't stay gold long. Then, I turned real estate into gold a decade ago. That didn't take, either. A couple of years ago, that turned to junk. Things haven't been the same since, some folks say.

Greg:  Anything else?

Rumpelstiltskin:  Well, there's oil. I did a great job with that. It turns to gold pretty easily, but it's not stable. It keeps tryin' to change back to just a bunch of grease, but it won't.

Greg:  Why, is it because they made a bargain with you that hasn't been broken?

Rumpelstiltskin:  No, it's not my deal. They made a deal with someone else on that, but I don't go in for that kind of stuff. I don't like the heat.

Greg:  Well, uh, yes. Thank you for your time,, Mr. R. It really has been quite enlightening.

Rumpelstiltskin:  Not at all, not at all. Actually, I'm thinkin' about gettin' back into my old line of work. I hear there's a princess over in England. She had a child recently. Do you think she'd be interested in three rooms full of gold straw?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Writer's Week #104: "What's Cookin'?"

The title of this post is something I'd imagine Hallo Tosis the dwarf to be asking right about now. Since he asked, I'll update both you and him. The Deliverers have recently finished up an Assignment, number three to be precise, that I'll be sharing with you all in just a few short weeks. They are currently on Assignment number four.

Lots of exciting things have been happening in connection to Assignment three--The Golden Dragon of Ang. Illustrator Daniel Vogel has completed his work on the pictures and the maps, and brilliant stuff it is. Layout designer Ana Vogel sent me the completed front cover on Sunday. On Thursday she sent me the interior of the book. Now all that remains is for me to give it one more review, send it back to Ana to make any final revisions, then submit it to the publisher. That means everything should be in place in about two weeks! Exciting stuff.

This weekend, production will start on the book trailer. I've been experimenting with a couple of different techniques and I think I'll try my hand at some narration rather than the narrative tiles that I used in the first two trailers. I'm hoping things will work out, if not it will be back to the
Title Page
drawing board.

In light of all the production developments related to book three, The Deliverers 4 was a little neglected this week. I wound up writing 1,250 words, which brings the total up to 11,250 over 11 chapters and 49 pages. It's coming along, but writing will be on the back burner this weekend for sure and perhaps for the entire week. We'll see.

I'm still on the fence about whether this will be book four of five or the final book in the series. Things are still zipping along. The pace seems to be okay to me, it's just that their task is a little more straightforward than usual, so instead of the cliffhanger at the end of the book, I might make that part one while what I had envisioned as book five may wind up being part two of book four. Once again, we'll see how it goes. Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What's Christian Reading? Happenstance Found

It's been a while since I've been able to corral one of my children to write a little about what they've been reading. Today, Christian actually volunteered to write something. Hmmm, must have been a slow day. The book he read is Happenstance Found from the Books of Umber, by P.W. Catanese. Let's see what he had to say.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

This book is about a boy named Happenstance who has some extraordinary abilities. These abilities include night vision, super speed and high jumping. In the story he wakes up in a dark and gloomy cave with no memories. Some people happen to be exploring this cave and find him. They try to make it out of the cave but one of the explorers, Umber, wants to see the giant tyrant worm that lives there. They escape from the cave with the tyrant worm right behind them. Luckily it won’t go into the sun so they were safe, but then the volcano erupted. They barely made it to their boat and got away. 
They then go onto a bigger boat run by Umber’s friend Nima and Nima’s friend Baroon. Umber’s helper, Balfour, is also there as Umber and the other explorers, Sophie and Oates, used this ship to get to the island where they found Happenstance. They soon notice a strange ship following them.They use evasive maneuvers to try and lose him and it works! They make it to the coastal city of Kuruhaven and Happenstance finds out that Umber is the Lord of the Aerie and a very successful merchant.
When they get to the Aerie Umber introduces Happenstance (who he decided to call “Hap”) to his friend Lady Truden. Lady Truden takes Hap on a tour around the aerie and lets him pick out his room. Hap looks out of the window of the room he picked and discovers that it is the part of the Aerie that his room was the ornamental head of a dragon. The dragon head was carved out of stone of course, so it wasn’t real. This book is a very interesting story and I hope that you will consider reading it.

Here's what Christian liked best about the book.
What I liked: I liked how the author makes it seem like the story is happening around you. I also liked
 how the author makes the main characters get into these crazy fights with monsters in the beginning of each book.

Here's what Christian did not like about the book.

What I didn’t like: I didn’t like the part where the ship starts trailing the ship Hap is on. I think the author should have put it in a little bit later.

So, how did Christian rate Happenstance Found, by P.W. Catanese?

He gives it four and a half out of five flaming monkey heads.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Front Cover Reveal

Well now, this is my third cover reveal post since I started the Deliverers Blog. It's pretty cool that the Deliverers Series will soon be up to three books. The first reveal I did was for Sharky & the Jewel and it was the first post on this blog. The second reveal--for Order of the Crystal Lion--was last summer.

Last night, graphic designer Ana Vogel sent the cover for The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang over to me. She's now in the process of laying out the interior and I hope to have the final files soon. I've been looking at it ever since. Artist Daniel Vogel did another great job. I think he really took this one to the next level. Here it is:

This is a really cool cover. I'm so blessed to have such talented friends! I love the rust/orange colors and the orange byline. My mother is going to laugh when she sees it. I know just what she'll say--"Miami Dolphins colors!"

Back when I was in junior high school, I wanted to paint my room aqua and orange to show my undying love for the Miami Dolphins. Well, now I have a book cover that does the same thing! Thanks, Ana!

I am really excited about this installment in the series, but then again, I've been excited about all of them. I'm not sure exactly how long this one will wind up being--my guess is about 10 or 15 pages longer than the last one. It's going to have two maps, for reasons that you'll learn when you read the book.

Now that I have all the art I can start working on the book trailer. I'll let you know how that's going sometime next week. As soon as I have a firm publication date for the book, I'll start a countdown featuring character interviews, the video trailer and some giveaways. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Today I Signed Up To Bloglovin' & Cover Reveal Up Soon

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Today I joined Bloglovin'. Please sign up to follow the Deliverers Blog. You can do this by clicking the link above.

I hope to have the cover reveal for The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang in the next couple of days, so please sign up and stay tuned!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Writer's Week #103: What a Difference a Week Makes

A week ago I was really struggling with the writing of The Deliverers 4. Things were just not gelling in my head and I was finding it tough to focus. The result was a mere 1,000 words written, only half of my weekly goal. As this week got underway, I was determined to catch up by writing 3,000 words. But after the week I had that goal seemed a stretch.

I'm happy to say that I did far better than I hoped. I wrote a total of 4,000 words this week, one of my best writing weeks ever. Book four now stands at 10,000 words over nine chapters and 44 pages. The writing was easy this week and I hope to keep that up in the coming week.

Now, while I'm really pleased with the story as it's progressed so far, I'm a little worried about the speed at which the plot is progressing. That's been a concern since the very beginning when I first started plotting out this book. If I get things wrapped up too quickly, then I think I'll keep writing right to the end of the series and The Deliverers Series will wind up being four books. The other possibility is that something unexpected happens that will add an unexpected twist and give me enough for a complete book.

Either way will be okay. It's kind of exciting not knowing for sure which way it's going to go--almost like I'm a reader rather than the author. It will be interesting to see which way things will go. As I've mentioned before, either the end of book four will be a cliffhanger, or it will wind up being the segway to the second half
of the book, which would have been book five.

This week was also special because I received the preliminary drawing for the chapter header for The Golden Dragon of Ang. It's a picture of a Chinese dragon, and it looks really cool. I can't wait until the book is ready. It won't be long now. When the cover is all set, I'll share it with you here. Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It Must Be the Snow...

Tonight as I sit here ruminating on what to blog about, I find myself feeling somewhat depressed. Right now we're in the dead of winter. Fall seems a distant memory and spring feels a long way off. Now we're on the eve of yet another snowstorm that according to the weather people will add as much as a foot of snow to the seven or eight inches already on the ground.

Ah well, how is one to keep a sunny disposition with all this weather going on? Right now I couldn't tell you. At work, we were supposed to begin moving our offices from one town to another tomorrow. No doubt that will be delayed to Friday, but we'll be in to continue sorting through and packing or throwing out 12 years of accumulation.

Today we had the last training session in our old training room. I had a little "party"--cupcakes--to celebrate. I noted that everyone who had joined the bank in the last dozen years had begun their careers in that training room, some for a couple weeks others for just a day, and that most had returned there multiple times over the years for various training sessions.

I almost teared up. It's strange how much this move is affecting me and others. Funny how you can become accustomed to a place. Part of me is reluctant to leave, but a bigger part is excited by the possibilities the new space will open up--expanded room for training and a more collaborative space for creating that training. That's not to mention the chance to work in a newly renovated, more modern building.

I guess it does not help that this change is taking place in the dead of winter when people's spirits seem to be at their lowest ebb already. When my wife worked in healthcare--nursing homes to be specific--she always said that February was her least favorite month because that was when the most people died. It was always harder for them to fight through their aches and pains when everything around them was cold, gray and dead.

Anyway, I suppose this must be a little depressing for you to read--not my usual upbeat, maybe even funny, post, and I apologize for that. Every once in a while though, you have to face your demons and acknowledge that they're there, ready overtake you if you don't watch out. In the dead of winter when things beyond my control are changing, I sometimes feel the need to write things out of my system. So, thanks for reading and helping me do that.

I'll be back on Friday to let you know how my writing week went (successful so far) and to let you know how much snow we got (any is too much right now). Again, sorry for the downer of a post. It must be the snow...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Between the Lines: Allan Quatermain

Our guest this week is that legendary marksman, Allan Quatermain. He first rose to prominence in the classic King Solomon's Mines. I'm looking forward to find out more about the character that began the "lost world" adventure genre.

Greg:  Welcome Allan. I was hoping that you could tell us a little about how your quest to discover the mythical King Solomon's Mines came about.

Allan:  Certainly. Well you see, it all came about when my good friend Sir Henry Curtis' brother went missing in Africa. He had been searching for King Solomon's Mines, you see. I just so happened to have a map outlining the route to the mines, but had always dismissed it as a fabrication.

Greg:  I see. What changed your mind?

Allan:  In the beginning, nothing. It was really just a shot in the dark. However, as events progressed it became apparent that we might have actually been on to something. Besides, they promised me a share of the treasure or at the very least a payment to my son if I should be unlucky enough to perish on the journey.

Greg:  What were some of the highlights of your journey?

Allan:  An elephant that we shot trampled one of our porters. It was good for us, we got some ivory. It was not so good for the porter, but there you are. We almost died of thirst in the desert. Then we discovered the frozen body of the bloke that drew my map--with his own blood I might add.

Greg:  Ugh! It sounds ghastly.

Allan:  Yes, it was quite cold in the mountains. As a matter of fact, we lost another one of our porters to the cold. We laid him out next to the frozen adventurer to keep him company. Once we got out of the mountains we came to a green valley. We thought we were home and dry after that, but we were mistaken.

Greg:  Oh no. What happened?

Allan:  We were set upon by Kukuana warriors and nearly killed. Even with my expert sharpshooting we were hard pressed to defeat them. However, we were saved at the last minute when my companion, Captain Good, adjusted his false teeth. i can tell by the look on your face you do not believe me, and I must say that I could scarce believe it myself, but it is true. The natives were terrified--they though we were gods. Naturally, we did nothing to dissuade them of this notion.

Greg:  It sounds like a fantastic adventure. Did you ever find the legendary mines of King Solomon?

Allan:  I would rather not divulge everything. You should read the book. However, I will say that the journey was not without its financial rewards.

Greg:  Fair enough. Thank you for taking some time out to speak with us. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Writer's Week #102: Tough Going

Howdy folks. Boy, I hope your week went more smoothly than mine. First off, two snowstorms dumped over a foot of snow on my little corner of New England, making travel difficult. This forced me to cancel one of my training classes at work. That meant I had to reschedule two make-up classes for next week while my department will be packing up to move to another town on Friday.

 All of this must have put a damper on my creativity this week, because I was not able to do much on the writing front. I only managed to write 1,000 words on the Deliverers 4. This book has been giving me problems from the start. It was easy to come up with the idea--and it was a good one--but it took me longer than usual to iron out the details of the plot.

I have to admit that the part I was writing this week was not the most thrilling section. In it, Eric and the other Deliverers are walking into town. All the time, Eric is learning how different his town is in 1777. I managed to get them into the center of town and they have made a decision on how they are going to proceed, so I am anticipating that things will start to move from here.

I suspect that I'll have to do some rewriting of this section eventually, but this week it was just a case of
Eric & friends are now under the Liberty Tree
trying to power through and getting it written down. So I'm now at 6,000 words in 27 pages and three chapters. I am hoping to write a lot this week, but that may bee difficult as there is a lot going on once again.

I am also hoping that sometime this week I'll receive the completed front cover for The Golden Dragon of Ang. If so, I'll be sure to share that with you next week. Have a great one!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Between the Lines: Snow White

Today as the snow fell I sat watching it and wondering who I could interview this week. Then my son Christian hit me with a snowball and I knew. I had to interview Snow White. So without further ado here's everyone's favorite beautiful girl.

Greg:  Okay, I have to ask. How did you get the name Snow White?

Snow White:  It's a sad story. My mother wished for a daughter with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood and hair as black as ebony. Soon after I was born, but my mother died. My father married another woman.

Greg:  Oh, that is sad. I hope your new stepmother wound up being nice.

Snow White:  Yeah, not so much. You see what no one knew was that she was sort of vain, jealous and, well, evil. She had this magic mirror which could have been cool if she had used it for niceness, but she just used it to feed her ego.

Greg:  Really, how?

Snow White:  She kept asking who the fairest in the land was. The mirror kept telling her that she was the fairest. Boy, what an enabler. It was true, the mirror could not lie, but still. Anyway, one day when she asked--and that's another thing, she asked it every day, how insecure--the mirror said she was no longer the fairest in the land. Instead it said I was.

Greg:  I take it that was not a good thing.

Snow White:  You've got that right. Most women would get upset and then go and get some plastic surgery, you know, a little nip and tuck. Not my stepmother. I had to get stuck with a real psycho. Do you know what she did?

Greg:  Well, I've heard rumors, nothing definite, that she tried to get rid of you.

Snow White:  If by getting rid of me you mean having me killed and having my murderer return with my lungs and my liver you're right.

Greg:  That's really harsh, but you're standing here so I guess that means she changed her mind and opted for surgery.

Snow White:  She did not. The huntsman felt sorry for me and brought back the lungs and liver of a boar, which was bad luck for the boar but good luck for me. I ran into the woods. I wanted to get as far away as I could from my stepmother.

Greg:  Were you able to get away?

Snow White:  For a time. I met some dwarves--seven actually--and was able to stay with them. I'm embarrassed to say that I pulled a bit of a Goldilocks by eating their food, drinking their wine and falling asleep in one of their beds. I did make up for that by helping them cook and clean. They're such dear men.

Greg:  But I'm guessing it did not last.

Snow White:  It didn't. Of course my stepmother discovered that she had been tricked the next day when she asked her mirror who was the fairest. Of course the mirror had to tell the truth and said I was. I was told later that she had a real fit--killed a number of servants just for spite.

Greg:  So she came looking for you.

Snow White:  In disguise. She tried a coupe of times, but it was the poisoned apple that finally got me. I do so love fruit and the apple looked so good. All it took was one bite. I should have had a donut. 

Greg:  So what happened, the poison didn't take?

Snow White:  Oh it took. The dwarves put me in a glass coffin. My stepmother danced with glee.

Greg:  That's bad form.

Snow White:  No lie. 

Greg:  So how did you revive?

Snow White:  Luckily, a prince was passing through the forest and he came upon me lying in my coffin. He asked to have my body and when his servants moved it, the piece of apple was dislodged from my throat and I awoke. We were married and lived happily ever after.

Greg:  And what happened to your stepmother?

Snow White:  Do you want the truth or the Disney version?

Greg:  The truth.

Snow White:  As punishment for trying to kill me her feet were placed in red hot iron shoes and she was forced to dance in them until she danced herself to death.

Greg:  Hmmm, I should have asked for the Disney version. Anyway, thank you very much for taking the time to chat with us it was very enlightening.