Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's Christian Reading? The Final Harry Potter

Editor's note: Things have been a bit hectic around here this week, so I am presenting this blast from the past (almost 2 years ago now). I hope you enjoy it. 

Well, he did it. Last week Christian finished the Harry Potter series. He enjoyed it immensely, but will never admit that his dear old dad was right. I badgered him to read the books, but he took his sweet time about getting around to doing it. Christian really enjoyed the last book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.

The last books of series are always happy/sad events. Happy because  finally discover how everything turns out. Sad because that's it, there isn't any more. For me the final Harry Potter installment was sad because it's pretty evident that there won't be a follow up to the series any time soon, if ever.

Anyhow, here's what Christian had to say about the book.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

"In this book, Harry Potter has to track down Valdemort's Horcruxes so that he can destroy them. Ron and Hermoine go with him. They go to the Ministry to retrieve the first one, a locket. The Ministry has been overthrown by Deatheaters. They manage to get the locket, but then Ron gets jealous and leaves.

"Harry and Hermoine search for the rest. Their search takes them to Godric's Hollow, the town where Harry's parents were killed. Harry finds their graves and his old burned down house. This lady they assume to be Bathilda Bagshott is watching them. She takes them to her house. When she and Harry are alone, she talks. When Hermoine comes in Voldemort's pet snake erupts from Bathilda's neck. Harry and Hermoine escape through a broken window. When they look back they see Voldemort and the snake looking through the same window.

"Back in the forest, Harry sees a silver doe that he assumes to be a petronis. He follows it to a lake and at the bottom of it, he sees a silver glint. It's the sword of Godrick Griffindor. Ron returns and they use the sword to destroy the locket. Then they go off in search of the other Horcruxes.

"That's all I'm going to say. The rest of the book gets really exciting."

What did Christian like most about the book?

"My favorite part was the way the book ended."

Was there anything he didn't like?

"No, I loved everything about it!"

So, how does Christian rate Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling?

Christian gives it five out of five flaming monkey heads.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Writer's Week #110: Great Press

Hi all. It's been a couple weeks since my last writing post, but that does not mean things haven't been happening. I've been blessed to have received some fantastic press and some nice reviews for The Golden Dragon of Ang. 

First, Books, Ink interviewed me about my writing and the Deliverers Series. The interview was picked up and run on several local Hamlethub pages.

Next, author Karen Pokras reviewed The Golden Dragon of Ang on her website. It was a fantastic review that she also posted on Amazon. Thank you Karen, I'm glad you enjoyed the book. It seems that the consensus among folks who have read the book so far is that it is the best Deliverers book yet. That's really cool because to me that means the series is getting more engrossing and that hopefully I'm growing as an author.

Earlier this week, Books, Ink ran a follow up interview featuring what they call "7 Bookish Questions". It was fun to talk a little about books that influenced me and some other bookish thoughts. It was a really fun interview to do. Thanks for the opportunity, Sally Allen.

Finally, in addition to Karen's review, I received two other five star reviews from young readers on Amazon.
Things are starting to move and I'm really looking forward to my upcoming appearances later this spring and summer. As I confirm dates, I'll be posting them on my Appearances page. I should have two more confirmed in the next couple of weeks.

On the writing front, not much has been accomplished in the last couple of weeks. I've written only about 500 words on book number four. The word total now stands at 13,000 over about 60 pages and 12 chapters. This book has been a little puzzling. On the whole, I'm very happy with the way it's progressing, but I'm at a point right now where life is getting in the way of writing. There are lots of changes happening, especially at work, making it hard for me to focus. Still, I have had an important development in that I've come up with a working title for book four. How does The Deliverers 4: Sparkling Mist of Time sound? Let me know what you think. Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's Abigail Reading? Dork Diaries

Okay, Abigail's back to tell us about her latest read. This time it's Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell. Let's see what she thought of it.

Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

In the book Dork Diaries the characters are Nikki and her BFF’s Chloe and Zoey.  Nikki’s BFF’s and Nikki were playing truth or dare and Nikki picked dare and then Zoey dared Nikki to toilet paper Mackenzie’s house. When they were doing that they didn’t notice that Mackenzie herself was watching them toilet paper her own house.  First, Nikki joins the newspaper to see what Mackenzie her enemy is writing and doing. Her newspaper job turns out to be good because Nikki gets her own column in the newspaper. Now Nikki’s advice column is a big hit and she also gets a new fake name. Nikki’s new fake name is Miss-know-it-all. 

Next, Nikki and her BFF’s think they are in trouble because Mackenzie knew that they toilet papered her house.  Then, Nikki gets invited to Brandon’s birthday party and now Mackenzie is jealous that she didn’t get and invitation.  If Nikki didn’t get an invitation for Mackenzie and her BFF Jessica for Brandon’s birthday party Mackenzie would tell that Nikki and her friends egged her house and made Nikki and her friends get kicked out of school. 

When Nikki and her friends got called down to the principal’s office they thought they were in trouble but when Marcy, Nikki’s other friend was interviewing Mackenzie for TV. Just then the principal came out and Mackenzie got all desperate for something to say because she didn’t want to tell what happened to her house on TV. Mackenzie didn’t get an invitation to Brandon’s party and Nikki and her friends didn’t get in trouble either. 

Finally, Nikki had fun at Brandon’s party and so Nikki didn’t want to be seen in her dad’s roach car in front of Brandon but then Nikki got a text from Brandon that says he really wanted to ride in Nikki’s dad’s roach car.  Now Nikki doesn’t have to hide the car from Brandon. 

So, how did Abigail rate Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell?

She gave it five out of five dolphins.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Between the Lines: Lemuel Gulliver

For those of you who celebrate, I hope you had a fantastic Easter. We had a great day--church then hiking. It was great to get out in the beautiful weather and move around. This week's guest has done quite a bit of traveling in his own right. He has visited all sorts of strange and wonderful places and met some very interesting creatures. Please join me in welcoming none other than Lemuel Gulliver himself.

Greg:  Hello there. It's great to have a chance to sit down with such a well traveled person. What is the most fascinating place that you've visited?

Gulliver:  On the whole I would have to say the race of intelligent horse called the Houyhnhnms. My crew had mutinied and left me on the shores of a strange country. I was taken in by a family of Houyhnhnms who treated me much more civilly than humans ever did.

Greg:  That may be, but they were still horses. Surely you would feel more at home with people.

Gulliver:  Sadly, no. The people, Yahoos they were called, were cruel and vicious. When I was forced to return to my homeland I no longer had any love for humanity. Horses, to me, are much more humane.

Greg:  What was your most unpleasant adventure?

Gulliver:  My time amongst the giants of Brobdingnag was most unpleasant. 

Greg:  How so?

Gulliver:  Living amongst humans that were the size of tall buildings was most challenging. For one thing, they looked upon me as at best a child and at worst a mere plaything. To be up close to those huge unwashed bodies was not something that I would ever want to repeat. The odor was overpowering.

Greg:  Yes, that would be very unpleasant, I would think. What would you say was your most dangerous journey?

Gulliver:  Well, there were a number. The Brobdingnags kept me in a box for their amusement, and one day it was carried off by a giant eagle with me inside. I was lifted high off the ground and then finally dropped into the sea. On my first journey, I fell asleep on the beach and awoke to find myself tied down and under the power of a race of tiny people called the Lilliputians. This being my first adventure, I was unaccustomed to such strange folk, and it rather took me off-stride, but I was able to negotiate my freedom and assist them in their war with a neighboring country, Blefuscu. Sadly, things did not work out and I was forced to  flee and make my way back to Europe.

Greg:  Well, I must say that your travels are very interesting. Is there any chance that you will be venturing abroad again?

Gulliver:  Not that I can foresee. I intend to stay here at home in peace for the rest of my days. Of course it is entirely possible that the flying island of Laputa may come to take me back. They are very, some might say overly, fascinated with science. They try all sorts of outlandish experiments. Come to think of it, I believe I should be going. No knowing when they might decide to show up. I'll have to go to the stables and ask my horses if they've seen anything unusual in the sky. Good day.

Greg:  Good day, Mr. Gulliver. I hope for your sake that the horses have not seen anything. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's Christian Reading? Freefall

Christian's reading a series that I am not familiar with. It called the Tunnels series, by Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams. He really likes it, so I think I'll be checking it out. He's going to tell us a little about the third book in the series, Freefall. Let's see what Christian has to say about it.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

In Freefall, Will, Chester, and Elliot are falling down the Pore. When they reach the bottom they are scattered, knocked out, and spread out. Chester is first awakened when Will’s hunter/cat abomination thing starts licking him. Chester then has to go off and find his friends with Bartleby, Will’s hunter. He finds Will first, thanks to Bartleby, in a cave behind a waterfall. Will is convinced that his father, who he came down into the Deeps to find in the first place is dead.

They find Elliot buried deep in the fungus floor. When they pull her out she is unconscious. They venture deeper into the fungus filled land and get attacked by giant spiders. Thankfully a woman with frizzy red hair named Martha saves them. She takes them back to her shack and takes care of them. They find out that her son, Nathaniel, died due to an illness.  

What I liked: I liked how action packed the book was.

What I didn’t like: I didn’t like how creepy some of the characters were. I felt that they were overly creepified (is that even a word?).

So, how did Christian rate Freefall, by Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams?

He gave it five out of five flaming monkey heads.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Between the Lines: Tarzan of the Apes

This week's interview is with everybody's favorite swinger, Tarzan the Ape Man. Due to his aversion to "civilization," we had to journey to darkest Africa to get some face time with the Lord of the Jungle.

Greg:  Hello, thanks for inviting us, Tarzan. Nice jungle you've got here.

Tarzan:  Thank you. Sorry, we didn't have time to clean up much. We didn't expect you so soon. The vines need trimming and we haven't emptied Cheetah's litter box in a week. I'm so embarrassed.

Greg:  No worries. We came by jet, much better than those long ocean voyages. Anyway, tell us a little bit about your childhood.

Tarzan:  Not much to tell. Can't remember very much. I was only a baby when my parents and I were marooned here. Mother died soon after. My father was killed by Kerchak, leader of the Mangani ape tribe. The tribe adopted me, or rather Kala, my ape mother did.

Greg:  Fascinating. How did you, a human, manage to survive among the apes?

Tarzan:  They took care of me. Kala raised me. I learned much; ape ways and ape speech. I learned to climb, swing from vines like an ape. I grew strong, fought many in the jungle. I learned to speak with apes, monkeys, elephants, lions, tigers, cheetahs, many animals in the jungle.

Greg:  You're remarkably well spoken for someone raised by apes.

Tarzan:  I learn man speech from humans who come to the jungle, and I've been to big man cities, to civilization. Many strange things I saw there, and many languages I learned. I did not like it. Smelly, dirty places. Crowded, polluted. All animals slaves there, and many people, too.

I wanted to leave, but Jane wanted me to stay. It was her home. I wanted her to be happy, but I was not happy, and that made Jane unhappy. In civilization, no one is happy. Tarzan left, and Jane agreed to go, too.

Greg:  How did you meet Jane?

Tarzan:  A group of humans was marooned on same spot as I was. What are the odds? Jane and her father were in that group. I met Jane, showed her the jungle. She liked the jungle, liked me, too, but her father wanted to go back, so she went.

I decided to leave, too, to find her. I loved Jane, did not want to let her go. I traveled up through Africa, into India. Met Mowgli--nice boy. There is a book about him and his life in the jungle--I forget the name. He got me on an English ship. Sailed to England. Good thing Jane did not go back to America, but went to England. Swim to America is long, they say.

I found Jane--looked her up in the phone book. Ha, ha, that's a joke. I made friends with the crew. They said to go to the Explorers Society, they probably went there. Guess what? They did! Lots of coincidences in my life!

After I found Jane, she and I lived in London, got married. I tried to live civilized to make Jane happy, but it didn't work out. Finally, Jane said that she wanted to go back to Africa, to my home. That made me happy, which made Jane happy. Everybody was happy.

Greg:  So, you didn't like civilization. Can't say that I blame you. How did Jane adjust to living in the wild?

Tarzan:  Jane did well. She's strong. She likes living in the trees and swinging on vines. I built a tree house for her. She keeps it clean, makes it a good home. I bring her things to cook, wildebeests, gazelle, and Jane's favorite--warthog.

Jane also likes to ride elephants, swim, climb, everything that I like to do. She's good fun. Our son likes to do these things, too.

Greg:  Is it true that you call him Boy?

Tarzan:  Ha, ha, that's funny. You're telling me a joke, right?

Greg:  Uh, no, in the films I've seen, you call your son Boy.

Tarzan:  That's not true! It's the silliest thing I've heard. My son is not named Boy, his name is Jack. He makes me proud. He's a good boy.

Greg:  Sorry, I guess you can't believe everything you hear. Well, thank you for taking the time to sit and talk with us a bit. Give my best to Jane and Boy, er, Jack.

Tarzan:  Sure thing. Come again soon. Next time, take a boat, and I'll be sure to kill you a water buffalo. We'll have a big party. Maybe Jack will come instead of staying out all night swinging with his ape buddies. Kids these days, everyone is getting so civilized.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What's Abigail Reading? Jouanah A Hmong Cinderella

This week Abigail is reading a book based in her home country of China. It's Jouanah A Hmong Cinderella, by Jewell Reinhart Coburn and Tzexa Cherta Lee. It's a story about a Chinese Cinderella. Let's see what she has to say about it.

Here's what Abigail says the book is about.

 Jouanah a Hmong Cinderella is a book about Jouanah, a beautiful girl who wants to go to the festival but her stepmother does not want her to go.  The characters are Jouanah, the stepmother, and her stepsister. In the beginning Jouanah’s mother got turned into a cow for food and drink. Her father foolishly married another women and Jouanah’s real mom died of a broken heart.  

Next, her stepmother made Jouanah do all of the chores.  When the New Year festival came around her stepmother made her do a long list of chores and told her she could not go to the festival.   Jouanah got to the festival but with a piece of cowhide and found a basket filled with clothes. When she went to the festival no one knew who she was and after all the play at the festival she met a boy named Shee-Nang. When Jouanah went running home so that her stepmother won’t notice that she had been gone, one of the slippers that she was wearing fell off.  

Finally Shee-Nang found the slipper and went to every house to find his love.  Shee-Nang found Jouanah, the love that he wanted, and married Jouanah and lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER!!

So, Abigail, what's the theme of the story?

Theme: Always be wise and not foolish because when Jouanah’s father married another woman, that is when the trouble started happening and if he didn’t marry the women the whole problem wouldn’t happen.

Hmmm, interesting. So, how did Abigail rate Jouanah A Hmong Cinderella, by Jewell Reinhart Coburn and Tzexa Cherta LeeI?

She gave it five out of five dolphins!

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Writer's Week #109: The Series is a Trilogy--For Now

Things have been hopping since my last Writer's Week post. In that time, the Deliverers Series became a trilogy with the release of The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang. Of course, I won't be stopping there. I'm currently working on The Deliverers 4. For now, though, it's pretty cool to say I've written a trilogy for some reason--probably because I grew up totally in love with The Lord of the Rings.

In addition to that, I had a very successful promo. The Kindle versions of the first two books in the series (Sharky & the Jewel and Order of the Crystal Lion) were 99 cents each for a week. Thank you to everyone who have supported myself and the series so enthusiastically!

Finally, today I received the paperback copies of The Golden Dragon of Ang. I'm looking forward to getting out, enjoying some warmer weather, and seeing everyone at some shows. I've lined up a show in Madison, CT on May 17th, and I'm hoping to add more as the spring progresses.

Now that the good news is out of the way, it's time for an update on The Deliverers 4. I wrote a little bit this week, but not half as much as I wanted. I was only able to write 1,000. That brings book 4 to 12,500 words over 53 pages and 11 chapters. With things hopping both with book 3 and at work, I've been having trouble focusing on writing this past month and a half. It's been extremely frustrating to me, because I've worked hard to discipline myself to crank out at least 2,000 words a week. I'm going to have to make an effort to rededicate myself to hit my goal. We'll see how that works out. I'll update you next week!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What's Christian Reading? The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang

The celebration of the release of The Deliverers 3: The Golden Dragon of Ang continues this week. Christian has read the book, which is surprising because in his soon to be teenage brain he has the idea that it's not cool to read books his father writes. To my surprise, he read the proof copy with very little pleading on my part. Hmmm, maybe he's hooked in spite of himself. Anyway, here are his thoughts on the book.

Here's what Christian says the book is about.

This book is well written. The characters seem real and not fake. I would recommend this book for children ages 9-13. This book is the best one in the series.
Some of the parts I found exciting where when the main characters had to sneak out of Ang’s capital and find Eric and Kate, when they had to escape the Serpent Fortress and when they had to find the legendary island. This book is very exciting and is a very interesting read.

Some of the main characters include Kang, Jiao, The Fang, that Denchi dude who helps them out, and the Golden Dragon of Ang.
When Eric and his friends Kate, Stig the owl and Hallo the dwarf enter the special doors that lead to the “hallway of worlds” they are always plunged into an adventure of mystery and intrigue. Last time it was the Vynestri and Selango, this time it is the five Dragon Islands and the search for the missing Dragon's Voice. What will happen in this exciting installment of the Deliverers series? Find out today!
Bless his soul, I actually think he was trying to slide in a sales pitch at the end there. So how did Christian rate The Golden Dragon of Ang? 
He gave it 4.95 out of 5 flaming monkey heads (he's always been tough, this is pretty good!).