Young Adult

Destiny

Destiny - S M Spencer

A fun twist on the young adult paranormal genre. Spencer offers up young love, vampires, ghosts, action, excitement, and much more. 

Lili is a fun main character who jumps into this new world she's discovered with both feet. As anyone who recently exited a serious relationship, she goes back and forth regarding her feelings for Sam, who has his own reservations about the emotions she stirs in him. 

Overall I enjoyed the book and was left anxious to know what would happen in the rest of the series. I enjoy when romance is mixed with paranormal,  it gives the genre a refreshing take (even though it's taken on a genre of its own now) and gives readers more than just another drama filled romance book. 

Very well written and definitely left me wanting more. If you're a fan of paranormal romance, I'd recommend the Absent Shadows Trilogy. 


Some Bio Information

S M Spencer grew up writing stories about the horses she pretended to ride through the rolling coastal hills of California. She finally bought her first horse at the age of 16, and then dreamt of having horses on her own property one day.

As a teenager, she discovered the romantic suspense works of marvelous authors such as Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart, as well as a wide range of other genres by incredible authors such as Ray Bradbury, Amy Tan and J.R.R. Tolkien. These wonderful works stirred a passion in her--to one day become a writer herself.

Now living in Australia, she has combined her dreams--she writes from the semi-rural home she shares with her husband, horses, cats and dogs--not to mention the mob of kangaroos that share the paddocks with the horses from time to time.

Her current series is the Copperhead Creek Australian Romance series. This is clean Australian contemporary/rural romance set within the Golden Triangle outside Melbourne. 

She has also written a clean YA paranormal romance trilogy, Absent Shadows, which is set mostly in Australia. 


Q&A

1) What inspired you to write this book?  

I was working near the Queen Victoria Markets and the Flagstaff Gardens where the book takes place. The market’s car park was actually built over a very old graveyard, and most of the bodies were never removed – I’d been on a couple of ghost tours through that area and found it fascinating. Of course, the popularity of vampires was also an inspiration for someone who grew up watching the original “Dark Shadows” – but now I’m showing my age!

2) Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I write in spurts – I don’t get “writer’s block” because I simply don’t worry about it. When I’m inspired I might write for 8 hours or more a day for days at a time – but then I mightn’t write again for a week or so. I simply write when I’m in the mood to do so.

3) What types of readers would most enjoy your work?

The Absent Shadows Trilogy was written for the teen/YA audience – the MC’s are 19-20 year olds. It’s pretty clean – probably PG13. But adults who enjoy YA books with realistic heroines (not larger than life superhero females) will also enjoy it.

4) What do you hope that readers take away from your work?

These books are mostly for pure enjoyment – there are no real ‘messages’ in them, other than to follow your heart.

5) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Well, it used to be Winnie the Pooh & Tigger many years ago. More recently Aragorn and Frodo are up there, along with Legolas ... Harry Potter & co ... Tris from Divergent (because I like her taste in men) ... Stephanie Plumm (because she is so cheeky).

6) How would you describe your writing style?

Easy to read, fast paced, not too deep but not completely superficial either, the good guys will win, the bad guys will lose.

7) What’s your ultimate writing goal?

To make as many people happy as possible. I get a kick out of knowing people are reading MY books and enjoying them, hopefully the way I have enjoyed so many over the years.

Dead Scary: The Ghost Who Refused to Leave

Dead Scary: The Ghost Who Refused to Leave - Sally Gould

I've always enjoyed books of the paranormal nature. While the focus in today's world seems to be more on vampires and werewolves, I enjoy a book that focuses on a good old fashioned ghost story. 

Sally Gould has written a wonderfully clever and charming young adult/children's book about a young boy and the ghost he is forced to interact with. I enjoyed the fresh approach she took with the genre and found myself chuckling on more than one occasion. 

The plot is well paced and I enjoyed each of the characters and their distinct personalities. The plot definitely took a few turns that I wasn't expecting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Overall a fun and wonderful read for all ages. 


Some Bio Information

Sally Gould loved books from a young age, but never considered writing them. While she was busy getting up to the mischief that teenagers get up to, she forgot about books all together. Then total insanity took hold and she became a corporate lawyer. Fortunately, she had two sons and they inspired her to write stories for children. Of course, her oldest son is responsible, logical, studious, considerate, grateful and even makes his bed. The youngest one is only interested in having fun - lots of it. And, except for his teachers, he makes everyone laugh. Their antics have inspired many of Sally's stories. Sally lives in Melbourne, Australia with her family and two dogs - Pebbles, who is sensible, and Jade, who just wants to have fun.
Her website is at: www.sallygould.com.au


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

When my youngest son was little, he’d often wake screaming terrified of the ghost in his room. His experiences were so consistent and his terror so real that I did some research and realized that it’s a fairly modern idea that There is no such thing as ghosts (as I’d been told when I was little). I read a number of books about earthbound spirits and found Mary Ann Winkowski’s When Ghosts Speak to be an excellent resource. She was the consultant on the TV series Ghost Whisperer. So the idea of a boy learning to deal with ghosts on his own inspired me.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process?

I like the idea of planning really well, so I don’t waste so much time rewriting. I write the backgrounds and motivations of the characters and I plan out each scene. But, of course, the planning rarely works out as I intend. The first version of this story was written in the viewpoint of the ghost and so there was a lot of rewriting involved.

3. Who is your favorite character in Dead Scary?

Isabel because of the prank she played at school.

4. How would you describe the perfect writing environment?

An environment without dogs, kids and phones sounds ideal, however that will never happen in my home.

5. What can readers expect from you in the future?

I have two picture books that are being illustrated. The City Dog, which is about resilience and adapting to change, might be out next year. The Brave Knight is about imaginary play and won’t be released for a couple of years. I have another series for 9 – 12 year olds in the pipeline.

6. How would you describe your writing style?

Accessible. Since my eldest son was a reluctant reader, I know the importance of encouraging those children to read. So my writing style is about being easy to read with action and humor.

A Brief Stay at Human Earth Camp

A Brief Stay at Human Earth Camp - Marie C. Collins

You don't realize how much coming-of-age stories influence you until you're an adult looking back on your teenage years. So many of the books that I read at the time were changing how I perceived and reacted to situations. 

It's because of this that these books are so vitally important to our community. And I love seeing the spin that each individual author puts on the genre. Marie C. Collins uses the fantastic and science fiction aspect to force her two main characters to rapidly mature. 

I cringed as I saw where the plot was going in the first few chapters. First of all, I hated camp as a child. So much. The kids were never nice. I never fit in. And I was out of my comfort zone. So imagine that multiplied by 100 and you've got the plot of A Brief Stay at Human Earth Camp. 

Despite the awkwardness, there are some great lessons in maturity and learning to be courageous that young adults can take away from this book. Overall a great read. 


Some Bio Information

Marie C. Collins lives in Lambertville, New Jersey (USA), with her two dogs, George Eliot and Henry James, who—in spite of their snoring and a tendency to sniff horrifying things—are very good company (and in return, endure Marie’s insistence that they LOVE being kissed on their snouts). Marie holds a BA in English & Journalism and an MA in English Literature and has worked for 30 years as a writer/editor for hire. She has a daughter she adores, Laurel Pellegrino, who is now a doctor in Seattle.


Q&A

1. Where did you get the idea for your book?

I knew I wanted to write a sci-fi series for the 11-15 age group that was fun and adventuresome, but also grounded in what life is really like in your early teens, so one day I sat on my front porch with a clipboard and pen to brainstorm. I was toying with thoughts about “cultural difference” — the fact that so many of us are blends of races, ethnicities, and cultures — when the idea of being “half alien” came to me as an ultimate form of difference for a sci-fi story. Within an hour, the Reade family, their special talents, and their home life were on the page — including the Globots and some Farbookonian characters we’ll meet in later books. I also knew the parents would make incredible robots. So my first ideas were about where I wanted the series as a whole to go. Then A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp came about because I felt Anne and Atticus needed an introduction to Earth human society before any of the rest could happen. 

2. What age group did you write for?

My target readership is 11-15, so it straddles two audience categories: Upper-middle-grade and the young side of YA. 

3. Who is your favorite character in your work?

I have a soft spot for all my characters. I put some traits of myself and my daughter in the main characters — mainly our orientation to the world (we were both very shy as children). Also, like my character Anne, I have a crazy-active dream life. I gave her one dream I had when I was her age (the diving dream), and a character in one of her last dreams (the map man) came to me in a dream years before I even thought about writing the book. But that doesn’t make me partial to them. They’re all very different and I love them all. 

4. Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

For me, the more I know about where I’m going, the better I write. If I don’t know where I’m heading, I wander hopelessly or spend too much time on details and events that interest me but don’t move the plot. To maintain control, I use many practical tools — outlining, charting, diagramming, deep questioning. But having said that, I don’t map out the whole book before I start writing. I know the ending, then it’s more like map, write, map, write, map, write.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

This may seem like a contradiction, since I’ve written a long book, but I tend be economical (as opposed to repetitive), something that earned me the descriptor, “snappy,” from a few different teachers over the years. I am also very visual. I try to focus on details that conjure a strong sense of place. Other than that, I prefer to leave a description of my style to others.

6. What’s your favorite scene that you’ve ever written?

My favorite chapter in A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp is Chapter 35: Robot Logic. But I would have to say my favorite scene to write was the final one, in which the actions of several characters converge and climax. I really enjoyed working on the timing and tension of that scene.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

In writing for young readers, my goals is to provide a challenging, fun, and stimulating read that engages them fully, invites them to imagine themselves in the action, and makes them not want to put the book down.

School of Deaths

School of Deaths - Christopher Mannino

To start with, I absolutely adored this book. Not only was the main character a wonderful and well written (did I mention STRONG) young woman, but the plot is wonderfully thought out and well paced. 

I completely fell for Suzie, empathized with her struggle, and appreciated her growth throughout the book. Not knowing who to trust is enough to drive anyone insane, but she handles it wonderfully and learns to trust her own instincts throughout her journey. 

I enjoyed reading about grim reapers as it was a nice and refreshing take on the paranormal genre for me. I particularly love that the author chooses to break one of the common rules of young adult literature. And that's all I can say without giving away too much of the plot. 

Great work. Highly recommended. I'm anxious to read more. 


Some Bio Information

Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet.  He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland.  In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups.  He spends his summers writing and singing.  Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University.  His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.  

Mannino is currently completing The Scythe Wielder's Secret series and is working on several adult novels.


Q&A

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Ideas for new novels come all the time, at the least likely moments. Generally when I have an idea for a totally new book, I jot it down in a journal where I keep book ideas- I currently have about twenty novel ideas, spanning many genres, planned.

Once I move from an idea to drafting, I start by creating sort of a “visual outline.” This is basically a set of images or specific pictures that I see happening at various points in the novel. I don’t always know exactly how they’ll connect at this stage.

I draft mostly on the spot. As a full-time teacher, this usually happens during the summer months. Each summer I try to draft one new novel. I usually start at the beginning, and write until I reach the end. Then, during free time in the school year, I start to re-read and edit, before sending it to the publisher for the professional editing stages to begin.

2. What inspired you to write this book? 

In 2011, I spent my final semester of graduate school studying abroad at Oxford. As part of my experience in England, I decided to travel at least once a week to somewhere I’d never visited before. On one such trip, I became stranded in Tintagel, a castle ruin and supposed birthplace of King Arthur. Tintagel lies on the northern coast of Cornwall, in a poor, rural part of the country. I had no car, and the next bus didn’t come for another day. I walked pub to pub, asking to rent a room for the night, so I’d have a place to sleep. One pub said yes, but it turned out to be a noisy place.

The next morning, having slept little, I climbed out to Barras Nose, a promontory of sheer rock cliffs with few paths, overlooking the castle ruins down the coast. It was before dawn, there were no people anywhere in sight, and no railings at the sides of the fifty foot cliffs. Fierce winds blew from every direction, and I had to crawl on all fours across the rocks, to watch the dawn from the edge. I feared I might get blown into the sea. I imagined a character, completely alone in a foreign environment, attacked fiercely from every direction. This eventually became the character of Susan Sarnio. In the initial draft, Susan was actually a boy, but I changed the character to a girl, the only girl, to increase her isolation.

3. Who is your favorite fictional character? 

Probably “Wesley” from “The Princess Bride”

4. Describe Suzie in three words. 

persistent, curious, resilient

5. How would you describe your writing style?

This is honestly a tough question, as just in the three books in this series, my style has evolved and grown. I feel that describing visual and imaginative imagery tends to be my biggest strength. 

6. Do you have a favorite author? If so, who?

Tolkien

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

Just like other writers, I’d love to come to a point where I could write full-time, and fully share all the stories I want to tell. On a note more personal to me, as a theatre person, it’d be wonderful to be involved with creating a stage adaptation of one of my novels. I think I’d enjoy that process even more than if a book was made into a movie.

Saving Hascal's Horrors

Saving Hascal's Horrors - Laura Smith

I love young adult thrillers. While they keep me on the edge of my seat, by reading them, I'm able to avoid a lot of the shock gore and violence that exists in much of the horror genre today. 

Saving Hascal's Horrors is a charming young adult book about a boy who loves horror movies and finds himself in the middle of one when an old missing persons case begins to haunt him and his family. 

The characters are lovable and believable and are written with plenty of depth and personality. I definitely felt connected with them by the end of the book. The plot was well paced and held my attention, especially as I realized what Mike was planning to do. 

Mike goes through quite a bit of maturing throughout the book as he learned to respect his sister's decisions regarding their father's shop and in making room for new friends within his group. Lots of good lessons for young boys and girls alike. 


Some Bio Information

Laura Smith is an office worker by day and writes books at night and on weekends. She graduated from Carlow University in 2007 with a degree in Creative Writing. Her poetry has been published in 6 Sentences, Rune Magazine, Voices from the Garage, Falling Star Magazine and Blast Furnace Press. She has self-published three middle grade books, "The Stable House," "Saving Hascal's Horrors," and "The Castle Park Kids, which are all available on CreateSpace and Amazon.  In her spare time, she enjoys watching movies, reading, taking pictures, and spending time with her family.  She lives in Pittsburgh, PA.


Q&A

1. What inspired you to write this book?

This book was inspired by a dream I had about a family of grave diggers combined with an adult novel I was working on from Julie's point of view. I was going to have Julie as the main character debating whether or not to close her family's shop and pursue her own career path with Mike talking her out of it by the end of the book. The dream I had was from a boy like Mike's point of view, and I decided to rewrite it from his perspective, adding my own love of classic horror movies and ghost stories to the mix.

2. Who is your favorite character?

I like all of my characters, but I would say that Mike is my favorite. I tend to gravitate towards the leaders, and Mike is a leader. I like how he is set in his ways and already has a strong grasp as to what he wants out of life. He would also do anything for his family, and that's an admirable quality as well.

3. Will we be seeing more of Julia and Mike?

I was thinking of starting a series of novellas that chronicle Mike's life both before and after the events of this book. I'm already coming up with ideas for each book in the series. The stories will be separate from each other but will all exist in the same universe with the same characters.

4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

This book was written entirely out of order. That was the first time I had ever done that, and it wasn't easy, but it did keep me motivated because it allowed me to write whatever I felt like writing about that day, whether it was from a specific character's point of view or a specific part of the story. The process has been different for each novel I have written, but essentially, I hand write or type a few pages every day and then go through the book over and over, adding parts, deleting sections, and just general proofreading. The editing process was actually really fun on this book because I kept thinking of new elements and characterizations to add. So, it wasn't much different from the writing process.

 5. Who is your favorite YA genre author?

I read a lot as a kid, but I mostly read R.L. Stein, Ann M Martin, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved book series about real kids doing real things. I wasn't much of a fantasy reader, and I'm still not, but I do love horror and ghost stories.

6. Who did you write this book for?

I wrote this book for anyone who loves horror movies or wants to get into horror movies but doesn't like to sleep with the lights on. I thought about making it a treasure hunting story, similar to "The Goonies," but in the end I thought that just saving his family's shop would be reward enough for Mike.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal?

I would like to sell enough books to be able to do this full time and pump out as many stories as I can about topics that interest me and that my readers also enjoy as well. I would like kids to know that a book doesn't have to have wizards and vampires in it in order to be entertaining. Regular kids are interesting enough. 

The Cemetery Sleeper

The Cemetery Sleeper - Susan Griner

The Cemetery Sleeper is the story of a young boy who is having difficulties moving on after a tragedy in his life. It's because of this that he comes to believe that he's being haunted by an unfriendly ghost. 

I started feeling bad for poor Freddy pretty quickly after beginning the book. Regardless of his bad luck in life, he's mostly able to keep his spirits up. I don't really see him moping a lot throughout this book, as one would think a child in this situation might. It gave him an added dimension to show his maturity and his level of understanding about the situation that he was in. He adapts as best he can instead of sitting down to complain about how he wishes things would be. 

I truthfully did not see the end coming. While Freddy seems convinced that he knows what Tump wants with him, he really has no idea. And even the development of Tump's character in such a short amount of time is impressive. 

This is a cute YA book that I definitely enjoyed reading. I can see my son enjoying this when he gets a little older. 


Some Bio Information

Susan Griner is an author of children's fiction. She has writen short stories and poetry for both Cricket and Babybug magazine. She is currently working on a YA novel set along the Silk Road. She lives in Washington state, but her southern roots have influenced her writing.


Q&A

1. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book?

An acquaintance told me about her father and how he had no name when he was little so he took one from a tombstone. I decided to write a story about the man buried under the tombstone and how he felt about having his name being stolen. He begins to haunt the person who stole his name.

2. Was there a deciding moment in your life when you realized you wanted to be an author?

I loved James Herriot’s books about his life as a veterinarian and wanted to be a vet too. When I realized how much science was involved in getting a degree I decided I’d write fictional stories about being a vet instead. 

3. Can you describe your writing process a bit?

I’m not an outline kinda of gal. I usually get a concept I’m keen about and then I figure out the characters. I revise a lot to build layers for my characters. I like to get input from readers when I’ve got a solid draft and revise again. 

4. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

Trying to figure out if I have a viable story. Is it worth pursuing? Is it a short story and not a novel?

5. Who is your favorite author?

I read a lot of children’s books so one of my favorite authors is Ruth White. Her melancholy stories, like Belle Prater’s Boy, are set in the south where I grew up. 
 
6. Describe your favorite place.

Any place where I can get a view of Mount Rainier.

7. What does your book say about you?

That I’m curious about ghosts and whether they exist or if they are trapped sorrows we create.

Zero Is The Key

Zero Is The Key - Robert Guerrera

There are a lot of young adult books out there. When I was in high school, I mostly ignored these as they tended to have flaky and unreliable protagonists. Plus, growing up in a Christian school, the "acceptable" reading choices weren't always the greatest of books. 

So I really appreciate when I read a young adult novel that has strong role models for the children leading them. Not only are Declan and Dalya intelligent and responsible, but they also are respectful of others and aren't afraid of trying something new. Their bond as siblings was admirable and I appreciated the lack of a romantic element. 

All of that combined made for a highly enjoyable read that I would gladly hand over to my young adult child (if I had one. . .my 2 year old is a little young for it at this point). 

I thought the plot was excellent and moved along at a steady pace. While the dialogue was a little stiff, I believe that had to do with the scientific nature of it in general. It took a little getting used to that these were not your average slang-talking teens. But once I realized that, I had an easier time with the dialogue. 

Overall it was a fun book and I enjoyed watching the twins piece together the puzzle placed before them. I'm very interested to see where this series goes. 


Some Bio Information

Born in Alaska and raised in California, Robert Guerrera earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at San Jose State University. In 1993, he moved to Texas where he earned teaching certificates in elementary education and in secondary social studies at the University of Texas – Pan American. Ever since, he has been teaching elementary, middle, and high school students.

After teaching in the United States for several years, his traveling itch and curiosity to learn about different cultures led him into an international teaching career. He has lived and worked in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Switzerland. Presently, Robert lives in Switzerland with his wife, two children, and his black cat. He teaches English, history, and geography at a private bilingual school, travels, plays the guitar, and writes.

 


Q&A

1.    Do you have further plans for Declan and Dalya? 

Yes, indeed. Declan and Dalya will have many adventures after this introductory tale featured in ‘Zero Is The Key.’ I am in the process of finishing up research for the initial settings and concepts for the second installment. As the writing process unfolds while the story develops, more research will be needed to respond to the gong that goes off in my head when a major idea shows itself, asking to be enriched and expanded. The second installment will also have the features to stand on its own or be read as a follow up to ‘Zero Is The Key.’

2.    Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Well, for several months ideas for a new story begin to drop into my mind. As time passes, the drops become a small stream, and then a gushing river. When the gushing river begins to overflow, I begin organizing an outline for the story’s plot and settings. Characters begin to reveal themselves somewhere along this process. When most or all of the characters reveal themselves, I develop a character web on paper with pen and pencil. And then, over a year or so, the story commands itself to be written until the first draft is finished. As each chapter is completed, my editor reviews it and gives it back to me for revision. When every chapter has been edited, I then reread the entire story two to three times for further editing. Afterwards, I hand over the third or fourth draft is given to my editor for an overall proofing. When this is finished, my editor and I painstakingly review all of the suggested plot and structural changes together. I then rewrite the changes and then proofread it a final time. The story is now ready to publish...maybe.

3.    Was there a deciding point in your life when you realized you wanted to be an author?

As a child, in the hot summer months, I lived in Mexico. During the mid afternoon’s siesta time, I would pass the time by writing my own superhero comics.  As a teacher, I feel I have always been a writer of sorts since I have had to write reports, newsletters, promotional documents, curriculum, and projects of all types with their rubrics and written student expectations, and other school documents. To model written assignments for students, I have written my own short narratives and other various writing pieces to motivate children to write.. Later, I began telling bedtime adventure stories to my two children every night and would improvise everything. My children loved the stories. One day, I described several of these to my wife. She suggested that I should write a book someday. That was three years ago. And now, my first book has been published.

4.    Describe your favorite place: 

Well, I believe there are special places based on a desire or need at a particular time or phase in one’s life.  A solitude moment  on a beach at sunset is a great time to reflect and ponder one‘s life experiences or to ponder over a difficult situation.  A family gathering around a dinner table is a great time to connect with others. Standing on top of a mountain top or paddling down an isolated part of a river is a great way to explore the wonders of nature. There are many great places based on your desires or needs.

5.    How much time did you spend researching for this book?

Weeks were spent researching for my book’s unique geographical settings. Since I use real yet obscure but fascinating places for my story, the history and physical qualities of my settings must be accurate and must help the story come alive. The settings in my book are actually important major characters of the book that are integral and necessary for the story’s development. For me, the trick on writing realistic fiction is to decide how much factual information is left out of a story. It is more difficult to decide what to leave out than what to leave in. For the first draft, I include a vast amount of facts from my research. During the several revisions and editing sessions, much of the irrelevant information is painstakingly removed. In this case, twenty-five percent of the book’s content was cut in order to prevent the story from being bogged down with wordiness, subplots, and irrelevant details. 

6.    Who is your favorite character in Zero is the Key? 

At the moment, I don’t have a favorite character in the novel. All of the characters are so unique, strange, and lively. I-m fond of all of them, with the exception of the main antagonist. However, I am always rooting for Declan and Dalya. I think as Declan and Dalya develop further in the second book, there may be a favorite.

7.    What is your ultimate writing goal?
 
My ultimate writing goal is to write for me...it is a selfish reason, but I must have a creative outlet to release ideas and thoughts swimming frantically around in my head. Playing music and teaching students are outlets as well, but nothing beats the quiet solitude a writer has with his or her own thoughts, and that inner voice that compels one to pour one’s soul out into the form of a story, an autobiography, a documentary, or any other form of writing. Hopefully, by reading this book and my future books, people may also learn something about our cultural heritage and become even more interested in the fascinating world we live in and the gifts we could benefit from if we treated each other and our planet with more dignity and kindness.

The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard

The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard - Mr. M

If you're looking for a wild ride of a book, then I have to recommend this one. Mr. M immediately throws you in the plot and the roller coaster doesn't come to a screeching and abrupt halt until the very last sentence. 

Despite the fast pace and short length of the story, the characters are well developed and I genuinely enjoyed each of them. I had no issues whatsoever following the plot. It was entertaining and quite unique. At least, I've never read anything like it before. 

I was saddened and a little disappointed with the ending of the book, as I feel the author wanted me to be. I'm hoping there's a follow up story in the works so that the remaining open plot points can be resolved. 

This was a fun story that kept me hooked until the end. And I'm interested to read more by this author. I'd like to see what he's capable of in other genres. His tone, despite the serious nature of the plot, maintained a lighthearted and almost joking tempo, which I really enjoyed. So I'd very much like to see what he would offer up in an adult genre. 


Some Bio Information

Mr. M graduated from Chapman University with a BFA in Film and Television Production. He received his MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. As a television executive at CBS, UPN, and ABC he worked with writers and producers supervising comedies and dramas for the networks. Some of the shows Mr. M worked on were Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Girlfriends, Alias, George Lopez, and the short lived Invasion. Mr. M was always interested in teaching and decided to make a career change. He attended Pacific Oaks College where he earned a Masters of Human Development and a multi-subject credential. Fulfilling his long time interest in building character, Mr. M created a character education curriculum while teaching. Independent Schools Magazine published an article he wrote under a different name about his curriculum. He is also mentioned in a book by David Streight titled Breaking Into the Heart of Character. Mr. M also participated in think tank discussions about character for the Council of Spiritual and Ethical Education. Mr. M lives with his wife, son, and daughter.


Q&A

1. Who is your favorite author? 

One of my favorite authors of all time is S.E.Hinton. The Outsiders and Rumblefish are classic YA books. The best writers are also enthusiastic readers. Like most people I go through phases of what I am reading. When I was in elementary school I read Matt Christopher books. My favorite Matt Christopher book was Catcher With A Glass Arm. When I reached middle school I went through an S.E. Hinton phase, which was followed by a J.D. Salinger phase. This was followed up by a healthy diet of John Steinbeck books. Upon arriving in high school I started reading sports autobiographies. I am a Laker fan. Kareem Abdul Jabbar is a great writer.

2. Which character in your book do you most relate to? 

Brian and Johnny are the two characters that I relate to the most. They are the kind of kids that persevere during tough times. I’d like to think that I use perseverance in my daily life. Someone once described Brian and Johnny as sounding “witty.” This was definitely the tone I was trying to establish. I don’t know if people think of me as witty in my personal life! 

3. Is Brian’s story over? 

No character is completely over. That being said, I have plans for a part two. There is a heavy cliffhanger at the end of The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard. I can’t reveal what happens. The best characters live on in our hearts and minds forever. Brian will always be in my heart and mind. 
 
4. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

This is a great question. I do a lot of prewriting. Prewriting allows me to understand the backstory of the characters. It also helps me develop the voice of the characters and the tone of the book. I actually had no intention of writing a young adult novel. I wrote a short story about a boy who has a crush on the new girl at school. It was relatable, and exciting. The setting was at The Santa Monica Pier. This short story became the first chapters of The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard! 
 
5. Describe your favorite place. 

Any place where my family is hanging out is my favorite place. That being said, the characters live in Santa Monica. If you have never been to Santa Monica, you should go to the Santa Monica Pier. The carousel is amazing! There is also an aquarium underneath the pier! Go see it!  

6. What’s your least favorite part of the writing process?

The revision process is always the most challenging for me. Revision is different than editing. Many writers get this confused. Ultimately, the revision process elevates my writing. However, the time and energy that goes into this stage can be exhausting. If you want to be a writer, get used to rewriting. I normally try and break down this process into writing strategies. For example, I may do a dialogue pass first. After that I may focus on adding descriptive language to the setting. Once I feel positive about the plot, characters, setting, tone, and voice I move on to another part of the process.

7. What’s your ultimate writing goal? 

Well, I would like to sell a zillion copies of The Magical Adventures of Brian Leonard and retire on my own island. Naturally, I flew from Los Angeles to my own personal island in a Millenium Falcon. Aside from that I would like to continue to challenge myself. I am currently writing another short story. I am also planning on finishing up part 2 of the Brian Leonard series. When I am not writing, I teach fourth grade. I am having a wonderful school year! 

I love hearing from my enthusiastic readers. Below are some ways you can connect with me. I love reading your reviews on Goodreads or on Amazon…Okay, that was my not so subtle way of asking you to review my book. Cheesy? Yes! 

Book Available:
http://www.amazon.com/Magical-Adventures-Brian-Leonard/dp/1497511305/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428541771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+magical+adventures+of+brian+leonard#customerReviews
And other online shops…

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The Circle of Six: Emily's Quest

The Circle of Six - Emily's Quest - Dan Sanders

There are fantasy books, and then there are EPIC fantasy books. The Circle of Six definitely qualifies, in my opinion, as an epic. It's a book that requires your undivided attention as you follow Emily and her companions on their quest. 

I thought the plot of this work was excellent. It's well thought out, detailed, and woven together beautifully. Each character is portrayed very realistically with admirable characteristics as well as human flaws. 

I had a little bit of trouble visualizing Emily as a bird and then as a rabbit. I kept seeing her as a human, which disrupted the story for me a bit. I don't blame Dan Sanders at all for that -- it was my own perception of the character. I have a more difficult time identifying with animal characters, so I think that I pictured her as a human in order to better relate to her. 

I could definitely see this turning into an animated children's story. Although there are some dark and scary scenes, I think it would translate well to the screen. 

Overall it was an excellent read. But if you're a skimmer like me, you need to remember to FOCUS on this book as you read it. I know that I missed several important parts because I wasn't focused enough on what I was reading (hard to do with a 2 year old). 

Even so, I enjoyed the author's voice and storytelling skills. 


Some Bio Information

Following a 20 year corporate career, Dan Sanders is now a writer, speaker and activist.

Sanders is associated with the humanist movement, an advocate for the mental health organisation, the BlackDog Institute, as well as a proponent for ethics, science based scepticism and the humanities in education and recently set up The Activist Parent website. 

He lives in Sydney, Australia with his piano teacher wife and the huge imaginations of their five children.


Q&A

1. What inspires you to write?

This is a broad question so will try to explain some of the dimensions of that inspiration. At the broadest level, I’m inspired to write to articulate or create meaning. Part of that meaning is a hope to leave a legacy, a legacy that breaths insight and perspective into the unseen generations who follow, to give them a vision that the creative life can have deep and lasting meaning. At this level, I feel it’s more than an inspiration, it’s as though I am compelled to write, a force that I can’t ignore for very long, lurking at the edge of my consciousness, to give voice to my life, or the lives of those who don’t have a voice. I think at some level artists, movie directors, actors, and musicians all create to give an artistic voice, a fresh perspective, to a concept or a theme where they might have an insight that’s important to them. That’s writing to me.

But I’m inspired to write by other things. I love language, it moves me, like music. When I hear a cliche or poorly used words I cringe like nails down a blackboard. When words are tossed together in fresh bundles, or crafted with cadence and tempered tones I have been known to shed a tear. 

What about daily inspiration? Some things grab me and I feel compelled to write it down, to observe it and to capture it for later. But the rush and context of daily life when I’m not in the act of writing can be a distraction to the creative process, limiting the type of thunderbolt inspiration people sometimes think about when referring to inspiration. 

2. Can you describe your writing process a little? 

My leadership background in the corporate world has forced me to set goals and targets for everything. I set myself monthly word targets, working back from the goal of the project or projects I’m working on. I then break this down further into a weekly guide, not too fixed. I find daily targets too easy to be broken by the vicissitudes of daily life.

Writing requires a deep introspection (something I haven’t found in any other activity in my life), a separation from the surrounding world. But with five children and a piano studio our house is a buzzing metropolis. So I put on my noise cancelling headphones (Parrot Zik II’s)–usually to Bach Cantatas (the simple tonal rhythms still my noisy thoughts), close my eyes and drift into the world I am writing about. I write the scene in my head, write the outline , and then jump in, all in my app of choice, in Ulysses. 

3. What character from The Circle of Six do you identify with the most? 

Characters in some way are expressions of parts of ourselves. And for that reason I connect with parts of each of them. But if I had to pick one, it would be Xavier. We sometimes find situations, especially as children, that make us unwitting accomplices in dangerous acts that can affect the path of our lives. His pure heart, his desire to please, his loyalty and his ultimate courage resonate with me. 

4. What is your least favorite part of the writing process? 

Again, broadly, it has to be the marketing process (if that can be considered part of the writing process), the act of finding readers. Marketing moves what is an intensely internal activity and shares it with complete strangers. I, like most writers, fear rejection, humiliation, and judgement. But having been through the process now and the wonderful joy my writing has given I’m constantly amazed and humbled by the unintended consequences of my life as a writer. What started out as a drive for expression and family legacy is now touching and inspiring complete strangers. That said, I’m still not used to the role of my mediated self in public–TV and Radio were some of the most nerve wracking moments in my life.

5. Who is your favorite author? 

Too many to tell but Fantasy and Sci-Fi writers; J.R. Tolkien, Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings, Julian May, Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, all of whom have given me instruction in the genre and permission to be bold.

This might seem strange but I have been most affected by a range of literary authors who in their own way have instructed me on the craft: Martin Amis, Hemingway, Nabokov, John Cheever, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Alice Munro… 

6. What’s your dream vacation? (Or have you already been there?)

Now you’ve done it. It’s got me planning again. To retrace the footsteps of Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald through their haunts in Spain and France. I can even picture getting stuck along the way and never returning.

7. Is Emily’s story over? 

I miss her so very much. Imagine losing your home, your family, your body, and having to save a world so grand and immense you can hardly breath. Yes, her journey and that of some of her friends from the Circle of Six will continue, for at least four books as part of the Legends of Eostra Series.

The Sound Catcher

The Sound Catcher - Graham Garrity

The Sound Catcher is a delightful children's story that has a good mix of drama/conflict and childish fun and delight. 

Chloe is a sweet and curious protagonist who finds courage and determination as she journeys through a bizarre subset of our world. I really enjoyed watching her interact and get to know The Sound Catcher. 

The Sound Catcher is a thoroughly entertaining character who is both colorful and hilarious. His mannerisms come across so vividly through the pages that even if there were illustrations (which they are and they're great!) there would be no issue in picturing this lovable character. 

While Chloe loves this new world, and enjoys the challenges and adventures she faces while traveling with the Sound Catcher, there does come a time when she needs to return home. And just like a good young adult story should, she has matured through her experience and has a new outlook on life. 


Some Bio Information

I was the kid at school who never paid attention. In English my grades were always D or E and I once received a report from a Geography teacher that said, 'This lad does well to find his way home.'

I left school with few qualifications and began work in a local factory as a maintenance engineer. After ten years of building and repairing machines I applied to join the police. One of my better decisions. I spent several years as a detective and worked on numerous burglary, robbery and murder investigations. I retired in 2011.

I began writing some years ago when I realised that everything I said to my children went in one ear and straight out the other. When I wrote them stories at least they paid attention.

My first novel, The Sound Catcher, a children's fantasy/adventure was released on Kindle in January 2015. 


Q&A

1. Can you tell us where you go the idea for your book? 

One day my kids were being extremely noisy and I thought how great it would be if I could build a machine that could gather up all the noise. I knew that if it could be done parents everywhere would be forever grateful. That night when the kids were in bed I started putting a few ideas down on paper. A week later I had completed the outline of The Sound Catcher. As I started to put flesh on the bones, however, the story seemed to take on a life of its own. The finished book is a lot different from the story I had envisioned.

2. Who is your favorite author?

My favorite author is Michael Connelly. Being an ex-detective myself I think his portrayal of LA detective Harry Bosch is brilliant. 

3. Describe the perfect writing environment. 

For me it is a small room where everything is within easy reach. Next to my computer I have a radio, purely for background noise, a coffee machine, (I need lots of coffee), printer, paper, pens, a dictionary and a thesaurus. Above my computer there are three shelves full of history books. Behind me, four shelves crammed with fictional novels. Outside my window is a large expanse of grass and mature trees. Every time I walk into my room and see all those books and that view it gives me a buzz and puts me in the mood to write.

4. Can you describe your writing process?

My wring begins with an A4 ruled notebook and a pen. I think of things that amused me as a child and make a few random notes. I also try to recall conversations that I've had with others. What they've said may ignite a spark. I also try to recall all the amusing stories I've heard concerning family or friends or people I know. Once I've made my notes I read through them to see if I can find anything that may form the basis of a story. Sometimes I'll come up with a very basic idea for a story. Other times I'll see nothing at all. If I do see the possibility of a story I'll work at it until it begins to take shape. Once I have a basic storyline I transfer my notes onto computer, where the majority of my work is done. I try to write at least 500 words per day. I do my first edit once a chapter is complete. Once the story is complete I put it to one side for three to four weeks. Then I go back and edit the complete story. I usually edit three or four times with a week or two between each edit. Once I'm happy with the story I'll have someone else read it and, depending on their findings, do a final edit. At that stage I send my book to a professional company that does free book critiques. Based on their comments I'll either make the necessary changes to the story or put it to one side and consider a complete re-write.

5. What is your ultimate writing goal?

Like most authors I'd like to top the bestseller list for my genre. Having said that I once posted on Twitter that if my books can make one kid smile that would be enough for me. I know from the feedback I've received from friends and family that I've made quite a few kids smile, so I'm quite happy with my achievements so far.

6. Where do you draw inspiration?

As I've outlined above, personal experience and the experiences of others. Good ideas seldom surprise you. You have to work at them.

7. Describe your favorite place. 

I love America and have been there quite a few times. But one place that stands out is Santa Barbara. It was a beautiful sunny day the sea was nice and calm and I sat at a table on the pier eating calamari. It felt like paradise.

The Last Sanctuary

The Last Sanctuary - PS Mokha

In all honesty, I struggled through the first chapter of this book. I made the mistake of checking the page count and when I saw the large number, I panicked. Typically with long books like this, the author has a difficult time holding my interest. There are usually some boring filler chapters that I feel aren't really needed. 

P.S. Mohka does not have this problem. 

Once I reached the second or third chapter, I faced a new problem -- knowing that I couldn't put the book down until I was finished reading it. Lily, Rose, and Olivia are fantastic characters who, though they are young, are strong, hilarious, and realistically written. 

I love the background to this book. The world is unique and well put together. I can honestly say that this is unlike any fantasy book I've ever read. 

P.S. Mokha also deserves a standing ovation, in my opinion, for his dialogue. The dialogue of three not-yet-teenage girls is difficult to tackle. But it's fantastic. I had no trouble following and no instances where I thought to myself, "well that's not what they'd say" or "ick, that was a bit dull." It flows smoothly and is easy to read. Fantastic job!


Some Bio Information

P S Mokha was born and raised in London. Like millions of others, he spent his early working life commuting into the city and reading books on trains. 

The books often transported him further and to more interesting places than the trains. 

The author is currently living in the timeless and rugged beauty of the New Zealand wilds. He is miles away from mains water, street lighting and other distractions so he can concentrate on completing book two of the series. 


Q&A

1. Can you tell us a little bit about how you created the world of Lily, Rose, and Olivia? 

The world stems from a desire to meld the landscape of traditional European mythology with today’s city life. I had to do so in a way that was plausible within a fantasy framework, hence the hints at a single world that became split into parallel realities, one filled with humans (our earth) and the other inhabited by magical folk (Ammasaya).
Lily, Rose and Olivia might seem like ordinary girls on the surface, but scratch a little deeper and they have all been moulded by their environments with their prophesised destinies in mind. 

2. Who is your favourite author? 

I like a wide range of authors but Ken Follett and C.S. Lewis really stand out for me. Although the former found success by weaving stories around historical events, while the latter found success through writing fantasy, both novelists think big and play out their epic stories on a grand stage, something I seek to emulate. 

3. Can you describe your writing process? 

Until recently I was getting up at 5am, then writing when the kids were in bed. I found the intervening period to be a perfect way for my unconscious to digest the content of the previous writing session, as well as forming thoughts on the best way to progress.

Once the first draft is completed, it gets re-written twice before going to close family for critiquing. It then goes to a hand-picked group of students (I’m an assistant principal at a girls’ high school) for feedback to ensure my target audience are hooked by what’s been created.

It then gets redrafted following their feedback. Next it gets passed through a group of writer friends as part of the Master Class I belong to. Finally, it goes to my mentor – a former president of the NZSA – before the copy editor gets hold of it. 

4. Who is your favourite character?

Well that’s tricky! I think at different times I enjoyed writing different elements of the characters’ stories, for example in book two, The Fall of Refuge, I thoroughly revelled in the creation of Jacques and Flaim’s adventures. 

5. What is your ultimate writing goal? 

For my work to be loved by more and more readers. For my writing to go from strength to strength and I guess to write full time one day, but for now, I am loving my role as an assistant principal.

6. If your book had a soundtrack, what would be on it? 

Brilliant question. No idea what the answer is though ;-)

7. Describe your favourite place. 

Other than home with my wife and daughters? Well somewhere warm and beautiful, not too unlike parts of Ammasaya. Either way, it would have to be somewhere my family could join me. I guess what I’m saying is that my favourite place is wherever my family are. 

The Universes Inside the Lighthouse

The Universes Inside the Lighthouse - Pam Stucky

This was a charming and entertaining story about a brother and sister and the adventure they find themselves stuck in the middle of.

I loved that while this book fits into the science fiction genre, it felt a little like a fantasy as well. There were some whimsical qualities and overall good feelings instead of the typical edgy feel of science fiction. 

It was also heart warming to read a story about siblings who are very close and aren't constantly bickering. I loved the dynamic between Emma and Charlie and enjoyed watching them mature throughout the plot as they faced challenge after challenge. They stand as strong role models for younger readers. 

I also really enjoyed the deviation from the typical plot point that I expected. When the twins go running to tell the adults about their story, THE ADULTS BELIEVE THEM. It's fantastic! That leaves so much more room for adventure instead of spending half the book trying to convince their family that they're not making the story up. 

It's a fantastic young adult science fiction story and I hope to see more adventures of Emma and Charlie.


Some Bio Information

Pam Stucky, a native of the Pacific Northwest, is the author of the Wishing Rock series (novels with recipes), starting with Letters from Wishing Rock, and the Pam on the Map travelogue series, books that take readers along on Pam's journeys and adventures around the world.The Universes Inside the Lighthouse, Pam's eighth book, is Pam's first foray into both YA and sci-fi. 


Q&A

1. What (or who) gives you inspiration?

Curiosity is one of my strongest traits, and I'd say my curiosity gives me inspiration. I write, in general, to explore ideas, and see where they take me. For example, in my latest book, The Universes Inside the Lighthouse. I've always been fascinated with the idea that there must—absolutely must—be intelligent life on other planets. But I'm pretty certain that we'll never meet them (and fairly certain they're not here on Earth, but who knows?!). Nonetheless, I'm curious. What is life on other planets like? What would it be like to travel and meet those other beings? What might their worlds be like? In writing a book about this topic, I got to make up the answers for myself. It's not the same as finding out the "truth," but still I had a great time imagining the possibilities. 


2. Who’s your favorite author? 

I admire so many authors for so many reasons! Barbara Kingsolver is an amazing writer. Jodi Picoult is a fascinating storyteller. But as far as Best In Show, I'd have to go with J.K. Rowling. I love the Harry Potter books—but the thing is, they're not just books. Do you know what I mean? It's a world, a world that Rowling gave us a window into. It feels so unbelievably real ... like it must actually be real somewhere in the multiverse. Her ability to create something so magical (no pun intended) and vivid and engaging, that struck a chord with millions of people—or is it billions yet?—is amazing. Plus, I've heard and read some of her talks, and I really appreciate a lot of what she has to say in her speeches as well, of course, as in her books. For example:

“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”

"It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

 “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” 

3. Do you have a long term series planned for Charlie and Emma? 

I do! I'm working on the next book right now. I absolutely love this series and these characters. They're still a little new to me yet, so they still surprise me from time to time, and I'm not quite sure where we're going. When everything is possible, that opens things up to pretty much everything! But I am working to create some sort of arc. At first I had in mind a series sort of like Nancy Drew, where every book is standalone. The more I work on ideas for the story, though, the more I'm not sure that's feasible. Because of the nature of exploring the universes, the characters learn more and more all the time. I can't just take them back to not knowing how to travel through space and time, at the beginning of every book. So, a more cohesive storyline is becoming more likely, though it'll probably have elements both of continuing plot, and standalone plot in each book.

4. The elevator between worlds is a unique and fascinating concept. Can you share, at least a hint, of what led you to this idea? 

The elevator was one of those ideas that just come just fully formed, actually. I suppose the part of my brain that has watched a lot of Doctor Who got involved somehow, the idea that you step in something box-like and it transports you to anywhere and everywhere. And as I thought about the idea of universes being "layered" on one another, the idea that you could travel through them like an elevator, at a thin spot, just seemed to make sense. Note, however, that in the next book we'll discover that there's more to universes than we just thought. ;) It's all quite complex. And since the scientists don't all agree—every other day, it seems, there's a new hypothesis out there about the universes—who's to say I'm not right?

5. Describe the perfect writing environment. 

I wish I could say I can listen to music when I'm writing, but I can't. My brain is very single-task. Music, even instrumental, is too dynamic for me to listen to while I'm trying to create new ideas. So, when I write, the music is off. Other than that, I'm pretty flexible. Right now I'm on the couch with my laptop on my lap. Often I'll wake up in the morning and just pull my laptop right onto my bed and start writing before I even turn the light on. (I do not recommend any of these methods ergonomically!) I also love to go to my favorite Happy Hour place, where they know me very well, and sit at my favorite table in the corner, looking out over the Puget Sound, sip a lemon drop, and let the creative juices flow. In fact, when I'm really stuck, that's one of my best and favorite methods to get unstuck. Although when I go there, I don't take my laptop—the lemon drop would get the keys sticky. :) Anyway, for me, the main ingredient is quiet. Beyond that, writing really is just a matter of sitting down and writing. As they say, you can't edit a blank page. Even if what you write is complete rubbish, you still can edit rubbish better than you can edit a blank page. So just write something, start there!

6. What’s your favorite part of writing? 

There are so many things I love about writing, but one of my favorite things is probably figuring out the backstory of the characters. When I sit with pen and paper (I always create new ideas with pen and paper, and then do the actual writing on the computer), and think about the characters, it really does feel sometimes like they're speaking to me, opening up their lives to me, introducing themselves to me. So much of the backstory never makes it into the book, but knowing the little things about the characters makes me happy. Like, for Universes (all my books have way-too-long titles, so I have to shorten them!), I know how all the main characters' parents met, where they went to school, and so on. Knowing these things makes the characters so real that I just feel like I'm telling stories someone else told me, not creating something entirely new.

Having said that, I also love creating something entirely new. I love that when I'm done, I have a story that I would love to read. I do wish there were some way I could go back and read my own stories objectively, for the first time, to see if I'd actually like them. The more books I write, the better I like them, I think. It's fun to create whole worlds and have them feel real to me, and more fun when people tell me the worlds are real to them. I ran into someone the other day who told me she reads my Wishing Rock books over and over. That's insane! And amazing! To know I've created something that is meaningful in some way to other people is the most fantastic feeling. 

I could go on, really. So much I love about writing. What I don't love: naming characters. They won't let me rest until I have the right names for them, but at the same time they don't tell me their names easily. And everyone needs to have a name, even if I don't use it in the book. First name, middle name, last name, and then there's also all the place names—which has become exponentially more difficult now that I'm writing about other planets and universes. I don't want the names to be so weird that they throw the reader out of the story, but I want them to have some alien flavor. Thank goodness for parallel Earths, where I can give people Earth names! 

7. What is your ultimate writing goal/dream?

I have a lot of goals ... which is the ultimate goal? Well, I'd love to make a good living as a writer. I'm sure that will happen. Fingers crossed it's soon! I would love to see my Wishing Rock series made into a TV show. I think it would do better for TV than a movie. It's very Northern Exposure-esque, or a little like the current show Cedar Cove, with maybe a little more spice. I could see the Balky Point Adventures (my current YA sci-fi series, which starts with Universes) becoming something bigger in some way. But mostly, finances aside, I'd love to just have the opportunity to continue to explore ideas through writing. It makes me come alive. When I'm not writing, I get edgy. Writing keeps me sane. Well, as sane as I get, anyway.

Herbert's Hat

Herbert's Hat - Cobus Vermeulen

Young adult literature is a difficult genre to write. Finding a happy medium between a main character who is human and capable of erring and a main character who helps teach a valuable lesson to young readers is vitally important. 

In Herbert's Hat, you have two (at least to begin with) strong characters in Timmy and Herbert. While they find themselves in a new situation that doesn't make sense, they both rise to the occasion and face the danger and confusion boldly. 

While I enjoyed seeing the comparison of Timmy's reaction to that of his parents, I found the parents' reactions irritating at times. In fantastic stories like this, parents tend to be "too grown up," which I completely understand. As we grow up, we lose our childish imagination. 

Regardless, I enjoyed this cute young adult story. It had excitement, beautiful elements of fantasy, and a tinge of sweet innocent romance. Very adorable!


Some Bio Information

Cobus had been Dreaming a verity of Strange, Weird and Crazy things since Childhood.
Only when he reached the last Year of High School, did he actively started to write down all the ideas OR rather, the various which he’d been fast enough to write down.
 
He took his Mother’s Old Typewriter hostage and for the first time used a mechanical “Pen” in writing his stories down. Now since then he’d finished a mired of Short Stories in Afrikaans and English as well as a good volume of Book. Herbert’s Hat is only the Frist Book in the six book series. At the tender age of 40, Cobus has still a great deal more to Write AND even more so to learn about life as well as the various people in it around him…


Q&A

1.    When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

Writing is a Life-Long passion. It’s not something that I choose to do. The only thing was, getting to the point of Understanding how best in getting my Ideas, Thoughts and Stories out of my Mind. Having started on plain paper, then Progressed in Annexed my Mother’s Typewriter and then Many Years later, working on the Computer. But there’s FAR too many Ideas running around in my Mind not to have Ever Not have become a Writer, Author, Novelist…

2.    Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Inspiration comes to me. I’m like many other people I suspect, struggling to sleep at night. This as far as the comparison goes, Seeing that my Sub-conscious work Constantly. Not saying that Other’s don’t do the same, BUT the difference is this – I have in the past heard, seen or read something interesting. Later on, my Mind makes the Connection between Possibly three or so, Totally Unrelated items, thoughts, facts and before I know it – Boom, there’s something really Cool which hits me… Not My inspiration, My blessing!

3.    Would you rather live in Timmy’s world or Herbert’s world?

As I have created OR wondered through the world of Herbert – I live in Timmy’s World and thus, Have a connection between the World of Reality and Imagination… I actually Live and Dream in both of them. It is IMPOSSIBLE to have the Inspiration for whatever I’m a Witness in creating, if I’d ONLY lived in one world AND not Enjoy the Brilliance of this World of Imagination. I cannot Ever hope to bring Forth the Ideas, Thoughts and Stories from One to the Other, If they do not walk hand-in-hand together and With me included.

4.    Describe the perfect writing environment.

There’s Absolutely no such thing. As with Writer’s Block, which I do not believe in either.
The Perfect environment, would be the Writer’s willingness in working. I will say, the Less distractions, the better. But then, if You’ve got none – the writer’s Own thoughts or lack of Preparation to the work to be written can Also be the hampering effect for work not be done.
Einstein’s theory of Relativity, You can be in the Worst place, Problems, Life and whichever – if you KNOW what you need be doing; You would do what you can in getting that done.

Then as well, if you can get the Environment as best possible. Music to listen to in the background, no matter what plays, As soon as it’s horrible I will change the song. No One around me, asking or requiring my time will be Great! Something to drink, OR making myself some Coffee – as a break can be as helpful. Part of a Movie to help the mind into another gear.
BUT most Importantly between all of this, Having the TIME to actually work on the Specific Project in even more Important! 

5.    Can you tell us a little bit about your writing procedure?

When as I mentioned above, get the Idea – I’ve ONLY gotten the Main Character. I know who that is. I know what the Mission or Idea or the Story is about. I also Know who the main Opposing Character is. On a scale from A to Z, there’s TWO characters – if I’m lucky more than two. The Ending as to who the Story or Book or whichever Concludes.

Between all of that, I’ve got no idea. I do not even have a Story-Line; which I’ve only used THREE times in getting my work done OR Lost work, caught-up with again. Every Other part of the Book, Story or Process I have to get along the way. Depends on what I write about, I have a General idea what Direction of Research I have to do as well. Going through this process is the PROCESS in which I work. Very Hard at most times and Yet, as I mentioned; I literarily go on the Ride, Journey, Adventure with the Characters to see what will happen along the way…

6.    Is Timmy’s adventure over?

No, Timmy’s Adventures with the books, World Of Imagination Series had ONLY begun.
At the time while I was working on Editing Book ONE, I have the Idea and Thought for books Five and Six come to me. And Yet, after Six, I suspect that the Series would be finished…
I’ve got a Great Deal more to do.

7.    What is your ultimate writing goal?

Working at it Full-time. Not worried about a Paycheck because of the Books. A movie or Two… Then as well, Traveling the World here and there would Also be Right Up There…