Thursday, August 18, 2016

Photo by Gabor from Hungary / morguefile.com
Characters can be found in all sorts of places--among our families, friends, acquaintances, even strangers on the train. Yet we never borrow traits without tinging them with our own interpretation of those we observe and mixing in bits and pieces of our own imagination.

In other words, every character, even those you base on real people, have some of you in them.

I'll give you an example. The poem below I'd written as a sort of tribute to some of the ordinary yet extraordinary boys whose friendship I'd cherished in childhood.

Gilbert

My friend Gilbert
had the kind of face
you see on milk cartons
on rainy Thursday mornings
that puddle in your brain
without a grain of sense
or purpose but dripdrip drip.

Gil played games
that brought down bullies
to no-longer-larger-than-life lugs
we could look in the eye
and not cringe.

Gil's games
made emperors of roaches
and elf queens of
bucktoothed, freckled girls
who are good at math
and can't sing.

Gil thought thoughts
that entered me like garlic
and permeated blood
and lungs and skin,
reeking and lusty of life,
lingering in the pores
for days.

Laurel Garver, Muddy-Fingered Midnights p. 8. 

This fictional friend's name is, of course, an homage to Gilbert Blythe from L.M. Montgomery's Green Gables books.

Some of the details are bits and pieces of Duane, who lived next to the awesome graveyard and let me be Bionic Wonder Woman to his Bionic Batman. And also Billy, who was willing to be Pa from Little House on the Prairie. And finally Brad, who agreed that the monkeybars was totally a spaceship, and storing gobs of maple seeds for our fort's winter food supply was a dire necessity. These boys were kinder than average--and willing to give anyone a shot at joining the imaginative game of the moment.

But to be honest, I was usually the one who came up with most of the ideas when we played. You might say Gilbert is the kid I wish I'd been--imaginative, sure, but also the kind of leader who brings people together by drawing out their best selves gently and naturally.

When you build a hero or a villain, you will (mostly unconsciously) add pieces of yourself to the mix--what you admire and aspire to, what you find most loathsome, and at times even parts of yourself you most want to heal or change. This is the aspect of writing that some consider therapeutic or even mystical.

What aspects of yourself have you been surprised to discover coming out in your characters?
Thursday, August 18, 2016 Laurel Garver
Photo by Gabor from Hungary / morguefile.com
Characters can be found in all sorts of places--among our families, friends, acquaintances, even strangers on the train. Yet we never borrow traits without tinging them with our own interpretation of those we observe and mixing in bits and pieces of our own imagination.

In other words, every character, even those you base on real people, have some of you in them.

I'll give you an example. The poem below I'd written as a sort of tribute to some of the ordinary yet extraordinary boys whose friendship I'd cherished in childhood.

Gilbert

My friend Gilbert
had the kind of face
you see on milk cartons
on rainy Thursday mornings
that puddle in your brain
without a grain of sense
or purpose but dripdrip drip.

Gil played games
that brought down bullies
to no-longer-larger-than-life lugs
we could look in the eye
and not cringe.

Gil's games
made emperors of roaches
and elf queens of
bucktoothed, freckled girls
who are good at math
and can't sing.

Gil thought thoughts
that entered me like garlic
and permeated blood
and lungs and skin,
reeking and lusty of life,
lingering in the pores
for days.

Laurel Garver, Muddy-Fingered Midnights p. 8. 

This fictional friend's name is, of course, an homage to Gilbert Blythe from L.M. Montgomery's Green Gables books.

Some of the details are bits and pieces of Duane, who lived next to the awesome graveyard and let me be Bionic Wonder Woman to his Bionic Batman. And also Billy, who was willing to be Pa from Little House on the Prairie. And finally Brad, who agreed that the monkeybars was totally a spaceship, and storing gobs of maple seeds for our fort's winter food supply was a dire necessity. These boys were kinder than average--and willing to give anyone a shot at joining the imaginative game of the moment.

But to be honest, I was usually the one who came up with most of the ideas when we played. You might say Gilbert is the kid I wish I'd been--imaginative, sure, but also the kind of leader who brings people together by drawing out their best selves gently and naturally.

When you build a hero or a villain, you will (mostly unconsciously) add pieces of yourself to the mix--what you admire and aspire to, what you find most loathsome, and at times even parts of yourself you most want to heal or change. This is the aspect of writing that some consider therapeutic or even mystical.

What aspects of yourself have you been surprised to discover coming out in your characters?

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

with guest author Peggy McAloon

Today I'm talking with guest Peggy McAloon about how her own difficult childhood inspired her to write stories to empower children in difficult circumstances, and give them the joy that can be found in imaginary worlds with heroes much like them.

Tell us a little about the fantasy world you've created.


My goal was to create a world where children would not only feel safe but could imagine themselves visiting. The flowers in the dimension of Fiori are as big as tractor tires and provide a form of entertainment for the inhabitants as they play on swings suspended from the flower petals with spider webbing.

Elle must search for her missing brother 
There are numerous reflection ponds throughout the valley. A massive turquoise bird called a Truero. The Trueros are large enough that the Fiorins and the guides can sit atop them and float on the waters. The ponds in Fiori are alive with brilliant colors. They reflect the crimson, gold, and purple colors of the skies there.

There are fancy parties at Mother Blue’s castle with dancers and acrobats to entertain the guests whenever there's a victory against evil on earth.

The Fiorins who aren’t currently assigned to protect a human child stay in the valley among the flowers until their next assignment.

Guides love riding in a carriage like Cinderella, except these are pulled by a giant Spider instead of horses.

Some things are quite different from life on earth. Miniature house pets that look like our elephants live in many of the houses there.

It’s a magical fairy-tale kind of place, and any child would love to be able to go there. You can float on a Truero on a reflection pond or take a ride on Pegasus into a valley where lions and koala bears live in harmony.

image credit: marcus scott reed for morguefile

What drew you to write for children?


That’s very easy to answer. I was one of those unfortunate kids who suffered abuse as a child. I was threatened not to tell anyone, so my only escape was through books. I loved to enter a fairytale land and pretend I was the princess or float down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn. My reality was too painful for a child to live in, so I used the books at the library to escape my life for hours at a time.

I want to give that same gift to other kids in trouble, but do it in such a way that they can find their courage too.

I worked with a child counselor to put together a discussion sheet so parents can use the characters in the first book in the series to discuss bullying and abuse in a non-threatening way through the characters.

I’m currently working with a teacher to prepare a discussion sheet for “Missing.”

Too many children in the United States and throughout the world continue to be victims of both bullying and abuse. Some of those children will not only try to commit suicide, but they will succeed. Unfortunately, most of the parents who have lost children didn’t know anything was wrong. I’ve blended reality and fantasy in such a way that kids will be more willing to talk about the topics we try to avoid. We can’t afford to do that any longer.

What is your favorite chapter in Missing?


I don’t want to give any spoilers here, so I’ll share that the adult side of me loved the segment where Elle rediscovered her faith.

That said, the little kid who still dwells somewhere deep within me laughed at the part where the class bully, Jimmy Backus, had a run-in with a manure pit.

Is there a message in Missing that you hope your readers will grasp?


The underlying message of this book is to have a kind heart and never to lose faith. We can face nearly insurmountable challenges when we show a caring spirit to ourselves and others.

What was the hardest part of writing Missing and why?


That question is a painful one. This book is the final 100 pages of the original first book plus another one hundred and fifty pages.

I wrote the first book and was accepted by a publisher willing to work with me. Shortly before Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals was to be published, I learned the publisher intended to sell it for over $20.00. I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to make money from the series (Breaking even would be nice); I wanted to help kids in trouble.

No child can pay $20.00 for a book.

The publisher told me they could cut the final pages out of the first book and close it in a cliffhanger. They explained cliffhangers are good and would entice people to want to buy the next book.
In theory, that might have been a good idea, but I don’t particularly like cliffhangers.

I agreed to their terms to bring the cost of the book down, and the first book in the Lessons from Fiori series launched. What I didn’t know…what I could never have planned, was a fall I took in London about the same time as the release of book one.

I returned home from that trip in tremendous pain, and I couldn’t figure out how to take the ending of my first book and turn it into a ‘stand-alone’ novel.

Pain and creativity don’t seem to work in conjunction with each other well for me. I spent nearly six months trying to find a resolution for my injury and pain without coming up with any logical idea on how to rewrite my original ending for book one.

It was painful for me not to be able to release book two almost immediately, but it was physically impossible for me to sit at the computer and write after the fall.

My warning to other authors: If you want to end a book in a cliffhanger, make sure the sequel is ready to publish no longer than a month after the first book launches.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What was it?


Writing this book was rather like being given a second chance to find my strength as a child. Through Elle, I’m able to realize how much I missed as a child and how important it is for us to provide strong role models for our sons and daughters. I will always wonder if I’d found a role model like Elle in my books if I’d have found the courage to tell someone about my abuse.

What advice would you give writers interested in creating a fantasy for younger readers?


You need to remember that children have vivid imaginations and are looking for a world where they can find action, excitement, and challenges.

You need to balance the good with the evil and give children something safe to hold onto within the fantasy world you’re creating for your characters. Build a world any child would want to not only visit but come back to over and over again. Make them believe anything's possible!

You also need to keep copious notes on the characters and the descriptions of your imaginary world. Kids are discerning readers too, and they'll remember if you change something about the world you've created between books.

In the first two books of my series, I’ve allowed readers to see two segments of Fiori. Who knows what they may discover as additional books are released?


About the author


Peggy M McAloon is on a mission to inspire kids everywhere to stand up to abuse and bullying. Her “Lessons from Fiori Series” about a young girl from Wisconsin, provides a strong female role model who isn’t afraid to show compassion or hack into a con man’s computer if the need arises. Peggy’s courageous battle with depression, abuse, and a traumatic brain injury has enabled her to identify with both children and adults who have suffered from abuse and bullying.

She’s a retired trainer and speaker in the field of commercial credit. Her first book, “The Art of Business Credit Investigation” was featured in Inc. Magazine. She’s been interviewed by the Associated Press and appeared on news shows in her efforts to protect our water resources.

Facebook / Twitter / Google Plus / LinkedIn / Amazon Author Central

About the book


Missing
Genre: middle grade fantasy

Kidnapping. Monsters. Magic.

Elle's desperate to find her kidnapped brother. She teams up with the winged warriors from the dimension of Fiori to save him, but JJ isn't the only one in danger. What will Elle sacrifice to bring her brother home? Can she fulfill the ancient prophecy and restore the magic of the Bronze Pendant?


You will love this coming of age, action-packed fantasy for middle-grade readers. Elle Burton's goal is to rescue her brother. What she discovers is pure evil. The author provides a female role model who strives to overcome her flaws and inspire kids everywhere.

"Missing" blends the magic of a fairytale with the contemporary realities of the world today's youth inhabit. You will discover a new world order through the journey of a young girl who exhibits both compassion and jaw-dropping courage in her quest to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Find yourself caught in the ultimate struggle between good and evil. "Missing" is the second book in the "Lessons from Fiori" series.

Available from Amazon

Book 1 available HERE


There are seventeen prizes with seventeen winners! Peggy is generously giving away 5 signed copies of the first book in her series, Elle Burton, 10 signed copies of her new release, Missing, and 2 replicas of Elle's necklace.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule


August 8
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction

August 9
Laurel's Leaves-Author Interview
So You Want to Write Christian Fantasy?-Character Interview with Amadeus

August 10

August 11
Peggy's Hope 4U-Character Interview

August 12

August 13
Bookish Orchestrations-Giveaway Winner


How about you, readers? Is there some aspect of your life story that has led you to write for certain audiences?
Tuesday, August 09, 2016 Laurel Garver
with guest author Peggy McAloon

Today I'm talking with guest Peggy McAloon about how her own difficult childhood inspired her to write stories to empower children in difficult circumstances, and give them the joy that can be found in imaginary worlds with heroes much like them.

Tell us a little about the fantasy world you've created.


My goal was to create a world where children would not only feel safe but could imagine themselves visiting. The flowers in the dimension of Fiori are as big as tractor tires and provide a form of entertainment for the inhabitants as they play on swings suspended from the flower petals with spider webbing.

Elle must search for her missing brother 
There are numerous reflection ponds throughout the valley. A massive turquoise bird called a Truero. The Trueros are large enough that the Fiorins and the guides can sit atop them and float on the waters. The ponds in Fiori are alive with brilliant colors. They reflect the crimson, gold, and purple colors of the skies there.

There are fancy parties at Mother Blue’s castle with dancers and acrobats to entertain the guests whenever there's a victory against evil on earth.

The Fiorins who aren’t currently assigned to protect a human child stay in the valley among the flowers until their next assignment.

Guides love riding in a carriage like Cinderella, except these are pulled by a giant Spider instead of horses.

Some things are quite different from life on earth. Miniature house pets that look like our elephants live in many of the houses there.

It’s a magical fairy-tale kind of place, and any child would love to be able to go there. You can float on a Truero on a reflection pond or take a ride on Pegasus into a valley where lions and koala bears live in harmony.

image credit: marcus scott reed for morguefile

What drew you to write for children?


That’s very easy to answer. I was one of those unfortunate kids who suffered abuse as a child. I was threatened not to tell anyone, so my only escape was through books. I loved to enter a fairytale land and pretend I was the princess or float down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn. My reality was too painful for a child to live in, so I used the books at the library to escape my life for hours at a time.

I want to give that same gift to other kids in trouble, but do it in such a way that they can find their courage too.

I worked with a child counselor to put together a discussion sheet so parents can use the characters in the first book in the series to discuss bullying and abuse in a non-threatening way through the characters.

I’m currently working with a teacher to prepare a discussion sheet for “Missing.”

Too many children in the United States and throughout the world continue to be victims of both bullying and abuse. Some of those children will not only try to commit suicide, but they will succeed. Unfortunately, most of the parents who have lost children didn’t know anything was wrong. I’ve blended reality and fantasy in such a way that kids will be more willing to talk about the topics we try to avoid. We can’t afford to do that any longer.

What is your favorite chapter in Missing?


I don’t want to give any spoilers here, so I’ll share that the adult side of me loved the segment where Elle rediscovered her faith.

That said, the little kid who still dwells somewhere deep within me laughed at the part where the class bully, Jimmy Backus, had a run-in with a manure pit.

Is there a message in Missing that you hope your readers will grasp?


The underlying message of this book is to have a kind heart and never to lose faith. We can face nearly insurmountable challenges when we show a caring spirit to ourselves and others.

What was the hardest part of writing Missing and why?


That question is a painful one. This book is the final 100 pages of the original first book plus another one hundred and fifty pages.

I wrote the first book and was accepted by a publisher willing to work with me. Shortly before Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals was to be published, I learned the publisher intended to sell it for over $20.00. I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to make money from the series (Breaking even would be nice); I wanted to help kids in trouble.

No child can pay $20.00 for a book.

The publisher told me they could cut the final pages out of the first book and close it in a cliffhanger. They explained cliffhangers are good and would entice people to want to buy the next book.
In theory, that might have been a good idea, but I don’t particularly like cliffhangers.

I agreed to their terms to bring the cost of the book down, and the first book in the Lessons from Fiori series launched. What I didn’t know…what I could never have planned, was a fall I took in London about the same time as the release of book one.

I returned home from that trip in tremendous pain, and I couldn’t figure out how to take the ending of my first book and turn it into a ‘stand-alone’ novel.

Pain and creativity don’t seem to work in conjunction with each other well for me. I spent nearly six months trying to find a resolution for my injury and pain without coming up with any logical idea on how to rewrite my original ending for book one.

It was painful for me not to be able to release book two almost immediately, but it was physically impossible for me to sit at the computer and write after the fall.

My warning to other authors: If you want to end a book in a cliffhanger, make sure the sequel is ready to publish no longer than a month after the first book launches.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What was it?


Writing this book was rather like being given a second chance to find my strength as a child. Through Elle, I’m able to realize how much I missed as a child and how important it is for us to provide strong role models for our sons and daughters. I will always wonder if I’d found a role model like Elle in my books if I’d have found the courage to tell someone about my abuse.

What advice would you give writers interested in creating a fantasy for younger readers?


You need to remember that children have vivid imaginations and are looking for a world where they can find action, excitement, and challenges.

You need to balance the good with the evil and give children something safe to hold onto within the fantasy world you’re creating for your characters. Build a world any child would want to not only visit but come back to over and over again. Make them believe anything's possible!

You also need to keep copious notes on the characters and the descriptions of your imaginary world. Kids are discerning readers too, and they'll remember if you change something about the world you've created between books.

In the first two books of my series, I’ve allowed readers to see two segments of Fiori. Who knows what they may discover as additional books are released?


About the author


Peggy M McAloon is on a mission to inspire kids everywhere to stand up to abuse and bullying. Her “Lessons from Fiori Series” about a young girl from Wisconsin, provides a strong female role model who isn’t afraid to show compassion or hack into a con man’s computer if the need arises. Peggy’s courageous battle with depression, abuse, and a traumatic brain injury has enabled her to identify with both children and adults who have suffered from abuse and bullying.

She’s a retired trainer and speaker in the field of commercial credit. Her first book, “The Art of Business Credit Investigation” was featured in Inc. Magazine. She’s been interviewed by the Associated Press and appeared on news shows in her efforts to protect our water resources.

Facebook / Twitter / Google Plus / LinkedIn / Amazon Author Central

About the book


Missing
Genre: middle grade fantasy

Kidnapping. Monsters. Magic.

Elle's desperate to find her kidnapped brother. She teams up with the winged warriors from the dimension of Fiori to save him, but JJ isn't the only one in danger. What will Elle sacrifice to bring her brother home? Can she fulfill the ancient prophecy and restore the magic of the Bronze Pendant?


You will love this coming of age, action-packed fantasy for middle-grade readers. Elle Burton's goal is to rescue her brother. What she discovers is pure evil. The author provides a female role model who strives to overcome her flaws and inspire kids everywhere.

"Missing" blends the magic of a fairytale with the contemporary realities of the world today's youth inhabit. You will discover a new world order through the journey of a young girl who exhibits both compassion and jaw-dropping courage in her quest to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Find yourself caught in the ultimate struggle between good and evil. "Missing" is the second book in the "Lessons from Fiori" series.

Available from Amazon

Book 1 available HERE


There are seventeen prizes with seventeen winners! Peggy is generously giving away 5 signed copies of the first book in her series, Elle Burton, 10 signed copies of her new release, Missing, and 2 replicas of Elle's necklace.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule


August 8
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction

August 9
Laurel's Leaves-Author Interview
So You Want to Write Christian Fantasy?-Character Interview with Amadeus

August 10

August 11
Peggy's Hope 4U-Character Interview

August 12

August 13
Bookish Orchestrations-Giveaway Winner


How about you, readers? Is there some aspect of your life story that has led you to write for certain audiences?

Thursday, August 04, 2016

with guest author Laurie Lewis
Image credit: jclk8888 on morguefile.com

I was eager to learn more about the story behind the story of The Dragons of Alsace Farm from my guest, author Laurie Lewis. Her new women's fiction novel  has some resonances with my new YA novel  Almost There: family secrets tucked away in an elderly person's home, a French grandparent, dementia, and the haunting presence of WWII, though I deal with different generations--Millennial, Gen X and Silent Generation (born during the war).

The real-life issues she turns into fiction will resonate with many of us watching our parents or grandparents decline. And so will the hope infused in this novel.

What's the story behind your intriguing title?

Great question. I wrestled over that title for months, even up to the day I submitted the manuscript, and I still worry whether it will resonate with readers, but my heart told me this was the title, and I’m crossing my fingers that when the last page turns, readers will agree it was the perfect title.

Here’s how I came up with it. Agnes survived the bombing of the Alsace region of France during WWII, and when her family moved to America, they named their farm after their homeland. The Dragon reference ties into Agnes’s past, and a mystery in the book, so I can’t give that away, but because of Agnes’s past, “Dragons” became the catchphrase for everything that challenges or frightens her.

What drew you to write about a character with dementia?

My beautiful, gentle mother inspired the story. She had a ramshackle farm she loved, and sadly, she was diagnosed with dementia several years ago.

We were unprepared for the decisions we had to make on her behalf. I soon realized how many friends were experiencing the same challenges with their parents, finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of parenting a parent. We knew Mom was afraid of the changes over which she had no control, but she was also still Mom—fun, happy, loving, caring. So instead of just creating a WWII survivor, I ramped up the tension by placing Agnes on the dementia spectrum.

What special research was required to write this intergenerational story?

A lot came from personal observation. A young couple with mild disabilities moved onto Mom’s farm for a few months. Mom believed she was helping them, and they felt they were helping Mom. I was fascinated by the way these three disabled people strengthened one another and themselves through serving each other, and I wanted to introduce that element into the book.

I met with a social worker to suggest a program where people who need a home could be paired with people who had a home but needed a little help. I cited the story above, and they thought the idea had promise, but there was no funding to try such an experiment, and it never was implemented.

As for Noah and Tayte, I remembered a sequel I had written years ago to my first novel, “Unspoken.” I never published it, but I loved the personal dynamic of the emotionally broken characters, so when I began drafting “Dragons,” I placed them in the story, and had them fill that helping role with Agnes.

I interviewed doctors, caregivers, therapists, and other families affected by dementia in order to illustrate the challenges families face with this diagnosis. Two friends/family therapists helped me assure that all these complicated characters—Agnes, Noah, and Tayte—were accurate depictions of people with their mental and physical concerns.

Tell us a little about your story's themes.

My favorite theme comes from a moment when Agnes fights the pull of dementia by remembering love. “Remember love,” is my battle cry now.

The power of redemption runs strong through the book. I hope people will close “Dragons” and feel hopeful, empowered, and refreshed.

The book really is about families and love. The power of tested love, the promise of new love, the strength of family love, and the courage they require from us.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I had a long hiatus between my last book and this one, so I first relearned how much I adore creating stories and characters. I also wish I could get a do-over with Mom. I would have spent more time asking her questions, recording her answers, and her stories. So we have little adventures now. Agnes has taught me how to love Mom where and as she is.

Which chapter was your favorite to write?

Oh, that’s easy. Twenty-seven, with twenty-three coming in a close second. These are the chapters when Noah comes into his own, when he loses himself through helping Agnes, and in the end, finds the answer to question that most plagued him—what kind of man was he?

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Just start. We all have a story to tell. Just begin getting it down on paper. The editing and perfecting can come later, but get your ideas down on paper, for yourself, for your family, and for others who will be impacted by what you write.




Everyone has their secrets and Tayte, Agnes, and Noah are no exception. In Agnes’s home, though, those secrets—or dragons—might just tear them all apart. Part of the Kindle Scout competition, The Dragons of Alsace Farm, was hot and trending for four weeks before its launch. Find out why during this blog tour!

About the Book


In need of his own redemption, Noah Carter finally confronts his childhood hero, the once-beloved uncle who betrayed him. Instead of vengeance, he offers forgiveness, also granting Uncle John a most curious request—for Noah to work on the ramshackle farm of Agnes Deveraux Keller, a French WWII survivor with dementia.

Despite all Agnes has lost, she still has much to teach Noah. But the pair’s unique friendship is threatened when Tayte, Agnes’s estranged granddaughter, arrives to claim a woman whose circumstances and abilities are far different from those of the grandmother she once knew. 

Items hidden in Agnes’s attic raise painful questions about Tayte’s dead parents, steeling Tayte’s determination to save Agnes, even if it requires her to betray the very woman she came to save, and the secret her proud grandmother has guarded for seventy years.

The issue strains the fragile trust between Tayte and Noah, who now realizes Tayte is fighting her own secrets, her own dragons. Weighed down by past guilt and failures, he feels ill-equipped to help either woman, until he remembers Agnes’s lessons about courage and love. In order to save Agnes, the student must now become the teacher, helping Tayte heal—for Agnes’s sake, and for his.

About the Author



L.C. Lewis (Laurie) was born and raised in rural Maryland, surrounded by history-rich Philadelphia, Washington, and Baltimore. She and her husband Tom reside in Carroll County, Maryland, where they raised their four children.

The Dragons of Alsace Farm, Laurie’s eighth published novel, was inspired by a loved one’s struggle with the dragon of dementia. Her women’s fiction novels include Unspoken (2004) and Awakening Avery (2010), written as Laurie Lewis. Using the pen name L.C. Lewis, she wrote the five volumes of her award-winning FREE MEN and DREAMERS historical fiction series, set against the backdrop of the War of 1812, America’s nearly forgotten second war of independence: Dark Sky at Dawn (2007), Twilight’s Last Gleaming (2008), Dawn’s Early Light (2009), Oh, Say Can You See? (2010), and In God is Our Trust, (2011).

Dark Sky at Dawn and Twilight’s Last Gleaming were finalists in the 2008 USA Best Books competition. Oh, Say Can You See? was a 2010 Whitney Award finalist.

Three new books are in progress. Please watch for her remake of Awakening Avery, a political suspense novel titled The Shell Game, both of which are slated for later in 2016, and a March 2017 novella, Laurie’s contribution to the multi-author “Destination Billionaire Romance” series.

Laurie loves hearing from her readers and may be contacted through her website: www.laurielclewis.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @laurielclewis or on her blog at www.laurielclewis.blogspot.com. She also enjoys interacting with book clubs. Contact her to arrange a video chat with your group.

Book Club

The back of the book contains some thought-provoking book club questions. Laurie would love for you to schedule a video conference with her if their book club chooses The Dragons of Alsace Farm as one of their selections in the next six months. You can email her at: laurielclewis@laurielclewis.com.

Giveaway


First and foremost, The Dragons of Alsace Farm is a love story, about the power of tested love, the promise of new love, and the strength of family love. Here's a love basket, with a fun date night, Agnes's favorite breakfast for the morning, and an autographed copy of the book to read on a lazy afternoon.  Always remember love.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Goodreads Giveaway



Enter here for the chance to win a paperback of The Dragons of Alsace Farm.


Tour Schedule


July 31
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction

August 1
The Overactive Imagination-Author Interview

August 2

August 3

August 4
Laurel's Leaves-Author Interview

August 5
Phrey Press-Author Interview

August 6
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Conclusion and Giveaway Announcement
 
Thursday, August 04, 2016 Laurel Garver
with guest author Laurie Lewis
Image credit: jclk8888 on morguefile.com

I was eager to learn more about the story behind the story of The Dragons of Alsace Farm from my guest, author Laurie Lewis. Her new women's fiction novel  has some resonances with my new YA novel  Almost There: family secrets tucked away in an elderly person's home, a French grandparent, dementia, and the haunting presence of WWII, though I deal with different generations--Millennial, Gen X and Silent Generation (born during the war).

The real-life issues she turns into fiction will resonate with many of us watching our parents or grandparents decline. And so will the hope infused in this novel.

What's the story behind your intriguing title?

Great question. I wrestled over that title for months, even up to the day I submitted the manuscript, and I still worry whether it will resonate with readers, but my heart told me this was the title, and I’m crossing my fingers that when the last page turns, readers will agree it was the perfect title.

Here’s how I came up with it. Agnes survived the bombing of the Alsace region of France during WWII, and when her family moved to America, they named their farm after their homeland. The Dragon reference ties into Agnes’s past, and a mystery in the book, so I can’t give that away, but because of Agnes’s past, “Dragons” became the catchphrase for everything that challenges or frightens her.

What drew you to write about a character with dementia?

My beautiful, gentle mother inspired the story. She had a ramshackle farm she loved, and sadly, she was diagnosed with dementia several years ago.

We were unprepared for the decisions we had to make on her behalf. I soon realized how many friends were experiencing the same challenges with their parents, finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of parenting a parent. We knew Mom was afraid of the changes over which she had no control, but she was also still Mom—fun, happy, loving, caring. So instead of just creating a WWII survivor, I ramped up the tension by placing Agnes on the dementia spectrum.

What special research was required to write this intergenerational story?

A lot came from personal observation. A young couple with mild disabilities moved onto Mom’s farm for a few months. Mom believed she was helping them, and they felt they were helping Mom. I was fascinated by the way these three disabled people strengthened one another and themselves through serving each other, and I wanted to introduce that element into the book.

I met with a social worker to suggest a program where people who need a home could be paired with people who had a home but needed a little help. I cited the story above, and they thought the idea had promise, but there was no funding to try such an experiment, and it never was implemented.

As for Noah and Tayte, I remembered a sequel I had written years ago to my first novel, “Unspoken.” I never published it, but I loved the personal dynamic of the emotionally broken characters, so when I began drafting “Dragons,” I placed them in the story, and had them fill that helping role with Agnes.

I interviewed doctors, caregivers, therapists, and other families affected by dementia in order to illustrate the challenges families face with this diagnosis. Two friends/family therapists helped me assure that all these complicated characters—Agnes, Noah, and Tayte—were accurate depictions of people with their mental and physical concerns.

Tell us a little about your story's themes.

My favorite theme comes from a moment when Agnes fights the pull of dementia by remembering love. “Remember love,” is my battle cry now.

The power of redemption runs strong through the book. I hope people will close “Dragons” and feel hopeful, empowered, and refreshed.

The book really is about families and love. The power of tested love, the promise of new love, the strength of family love, and the courage they require from us.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I had a long hiatus between my last book and this one, so I first relearned how much I adore creating stories and characters. I also wish I could get a do-over with Mom. I would have spent more time asking her questions, recording her answers, and her stories. So we have little adventures now. Agnes has taught me how to love Mom where and as she is.

Which chapter was your favorite to write?

Oh, that’s easy. Twenty-seven, with twenty-three coming in a close second. These are the chapters when Noah comes into his own, when he loses himself through helping Agnes, and in the end, finds the answer to question that most plagued him—what kind of man was he?

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?

Just start. We all have a story to tell. Just begin getting it down on paper. The editing and perfecting can come later, but get your ideas down on paper, for yourself, for your family, and for others who will be impacted by what you write.




Everyone has their secrets and Tayte, Agnes, and Noah are no exception. In Agnes’s home, though, those secrets—or dragons—might just tear them all apart. Part of the Kindle Scout competition, The Dragons of Alsace Farm, was hot and trending for four weeks before its launch. Find out why during this blog tour!

About the Book


In need of his own redemption, Noah Carter finally confronts his childhood hero, the once-beloved uncle who betrayed him. Instead of vengeance, he offers forgiveness, also granting Uncle John a most curious request—for Noah to work on the ramshackle farm of Agnes Deveraux Keller, a French WWII survivor with dementia.

Despite all Agnes has lost, she still has much to teach Noah. But the pair’s unique friendship is threatened when Tayte, Agnes’s estranged granddaughter, arrives to claim a woman whose circumstances and abilities are far different from those of the grandmother she once knew. 

Items hidden in Agnes’s attic raise painful questions about Tayte’s dead parents, steeling Tayte’s determination to save Agnes, even if it requires her to betray the very woman she came to save, and the secret her proud grandmother has guarded for seventy years.

The issue strains the fragile trust between Tayte and Noah, who now realizes Tayte is fighting her own secrets, her own dragons. Weighed down by past guilt and failures, he feels ill-equipped to help either woman, until he remembers Agnes’s lessons about courage and love. In order to save Agnes, the student must now become the teacher, helping Tayte heal—for Agnes’s sake, and for his.

About the Author



L.C. Lewis (Laurie) was born and raised in rural Maryland, surrounded by history-rich Philadelphia, Washington, and Baltimore. She and her husband Tom reside in Carroll County, Maryland, where they raised their four children.

The Dragons of Alsace Farm, Laurie’s eighth published novel, was inspired by a loved one’s struggle with the dragon of dementia. Her women’s fiction novels include Unspoken (2004) and Awakening Avery (2010), written as Laurie Lewis. Using the pen name L.C. Lewis, she wrote the five volumes of her award-winning FREE MEN and DREAMERS historical fiction series, set against the backdrop of the War of 1812, America’s nearly forgotten second war of independence: Dark Sky at Dawn (2007), Twilight’s Last Gleaming (2008), Dawn’s Early Light (2009), Oh, Say Can You See? (2010), and In God is Our Trust, (2011).

Dark Sky at Dawn and Twilight’s Last Gleaming were finalists in the 2008 USA Best Books competition. Oh, Say Can You See? was a 2010 Whitney Award finalist.

Three new books are in progress. Please watch for her remake of Awakening Avery, a political suspense novel titled The Shell Game, both of which are slated for later in 2016, and a March 2017 novella, Laurie’s contribution to the multi-author “Destination Billionaire Romance” series.

Laurie loves hearing from her readers and may be contacted through her website: www.laurielclewis.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @laurielclewis or on her blog at www.laurielclewis.blogspot.com. She also enjoys interacting with book clubs. Contact her to arrange a video chat with your group.

Book Club

The back of the book contains some thought-provoking book club questions. Laurie would love for you to schedule a video conference with her if their book club chooses The Dragons of Alsace Farm as one of their selections in the next six months. You can email her at: laurielclewis@laurielclewis.com.

Giveaway


First and foremost, The Dragons of Alsace Farm is a love story, about the power of tested love, the promise of new love, and the strength of family love. Here's a love basket, with a fun date night, Agnes's favorite breakfast for the morning, and an autographed copy of the book to read on a lazy afternoon.  Always remember love.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Goodreads Giveaway



Enter here for the chance to win a paperback of The Dragons of Alsace Farm.


Tour Schedule


July 31
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction

August 1
The Overactive Imagination-Author Interview

August 2

August 3

August 4
Laurel's Leaves-Author Interview

August 5
Phrey Press-Author Interview

August 6
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Conclusion and Giveaway Announcement
 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I'm out on a blog tour this week! For the full run-down, see the kick-off post at Bookish Orchestrations.

Many of my hosts are introducing me to their readers by sharing excerpts from my new release ALMOST THERE. I list some of the specific chapters on my Interviews & Articles page.

A few highlights of the tour:

Writing tips! 

In my interview with Robyn Campbell, I share some of my best tips for making characters feel real and setting descriptions about more than simply the "where" of your story.

Why read ALMOST THERE?

Tessa Emily Hall has a wonderful 5-star review. Here's an excerpt from it:
"Almost There made me fall in love with the YA genre all over again. This is the kind of teen fiction I enjoy: An authentic and inspirational novel that accurately portrays the teen life. Throw in a romance thread, family drama, teen angst, beautiful wordsmithing, an artistic element, and weave them together to create an original, page-turning-worthy plot."

Character secrets, and get to know me

In my interview with Peggy McAloon, I share my series theme, and a tidbit about my main character Dani Deane that only I know. I also talk about why I love Philadelphia, and lessons learned from mentoring teens at my church.

Giveaway

Visit any of the tour sites and enter my giveaway of this Parisian prize basket (ends at midnight on Friday, July 29).



It includes:
Parisian-market style heart-shaped wire basket with linen liner
Paris-themed journal
Be Still: Psalms adult coloring book
Crayola double-ended colored pencils

Please come say hello! 
Thursday, July 28, 2016 Laurel Garver
I'm out on a blog tour this week! For the full run-down, see the kick-off post at Bookish Orchestrations.

Many of my hosts are introducing me to their readers by sharing excerpts from my new release ALMOST THERE. I list some of the specific chapters on my Interviews & Articles page.

A few highlights of the tour:

Writing tips! 

In my interview with Robyn Campbell, I share some of my best tips for making characters feel real and setting descriptions about more than simply the "where" of your story.

Why read ALMOST THERE?

Tessa Emily Hall has a wonderful 5-star review. Here's an excerpt from it:
"Almost There made me fall in love with the YA genre all over again. This is the kind of teen fiction I enjoy: An authentic and inspirational novel that accurately portrays the teen life. Throw in a romance thread, family drama, teen angst, beautiful wordsmithing, an artistic element, and weave them together to create an original, page-turning-worthy plot."

Character secrets, and get to know me

In my interview with Peggy McAloon, I share my series theme, and a tidbit about my main character Dani Deane that only I know. I also talk about why I love Philadelphia, and lessons learned from mentoring teens at my church.

Giveaway

Visit any of the tour sites and enter my giveaway of this Parisian prize basket (ends at midnight on Friday, July 29).



It includes:
Parisian-market style heart-shaped wire basket with linen liner
Paris-themed journal
Be Still: Psalms adult coloring book
Crayola double-ended colored pencils

Please come say hello! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"A grieving teen believes her dead father is haunting her" --a tagline for my debut Never Gone, often raises this question: how could this topic possibly be Christian fiction?

Photo by http://morguefile.com/creative/whiterussian
What exactly is a ghost, after all? Do people have a consciousness separate from their bodily existence? If so, can it interact with embodied people? Can it do so when it wishes, or must it be summoned by the living? Is this entire mythos something created to explain demonic presences in our world?

In some circles, this latter view tends to dominate, though the Bible actually shows us an intermediate view: there is a consciousness separate from bodily existence, but it can only interact with embodied people through occult means because it exists in another realm or plane. See the story of Saul contacting Samuel's ghost via the mediation of the Witch of Endor in I Samuel 28. Trying to summon the dead is a bad idea, one that spells the end for Saul's reign.

In Never Gone, my protagonist Danielle has moments where she specifically fears she might have summoned her dead father, knowing that doing such a thing is very dangerous. But longing for a lost loved one does not make one a medium. Reaching across the divide between the living and dead isn't something people can do accidentally.

So what is going on with my ghost of Dani's dad, Graham Rhys Deane?

The idea of parental haunting is pretty old. Shakespeare uses it in Hamlet, for example. I also was inspired by the TV show Providence that aired from 1999-2002, in which a young woman moves home after her mother’s death, and often has long heart-to-heart talks and arguments with her mother’s ghost. The idea of a parental presence lingering to help a child fascinated me, especially when it’s unclear why it’s happening.

Is it possible that not every ghost appearance has a supernatural cause?

Generally, ghost lore in our culture is associated with bad deaths, with unfinished business. The question for me is whose unfinished business? The departed’s or the survivors’?

Dani is a fairly grounded Christian who knows enough “proof texts” (scripture quotes used to prove a particular point) to shut down her own natural emotions in the wake of a devastating loss. Her dad is bound for a happy eternity in heaven, she reasons, so she’s really not supposed to be upset.

This kind of warped stoicism that sometimes arises in my faith tradition concerns me. It’s bad theology to my mind, giving a false view of who God is and how he relates to humanity. In the face of it, a really hurting person can suffer deep internal fracturing. My story’s ghost is in some ways a manifestation of that inner state.

So how does Danielle cope with her ghost problem? I invite you to check out Never Gone to find out!

About Never Gone

Teen artist Dani Deane feels like the universe has imploded when her photographer father is killed. Days after his death, she sees him leafing through sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, wandering his own wake. Is grief making her crazy? Or is her dad truly adrift between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani longs for his help as she tries and fails to connect with her workaholic mother. Her pain only deepens when astonishing secrets about her family history come to light. But Dani finds a surprising ally in Theo, the quiet guy lingering in the backstage of her life. He persistently reaches out as Dani’s faith falters, her family relationships unravel, and she withdraws into a dangerous obsession with her father’s ghostly appearances. Will she let her broken, prodigal heart find a reason to hope again?

From the skyscrapers of New York to the sheep-dotted English countryside, Never Gone explores life after loss with emotional honesty, humor, and a touch of romance. 



View the trailer HERE

What is your take on the ghost trope?
Thursday, July 21, 2016 Laurel Garver
"A grieving teen believes her dead father is haunting her" --a tagline for my debut Never Gone, often raises this question: how could this topic possibly be Christian fiction?

Photo by http://morguefile.com/creative/whiterussian
What exactly is a ghost, after all? Do people have a consciousness separate from their bodily existence? If so, can it interact with embodied people? Can it do so when it wishes, or must it be summoned by the living? Is this entire mythos something created to explain demonic presences in our world?

In some circles, this latter view tends to dominate, though the Bible actually shows us an intermediate view: there is a consciousness separate from bodily existence, but it can only interact with embodied people through occult means because it exists in another realm or plane. See the story of Saul contacting Samuel's ghost via the mediation of the Witch of Endor in I Samuel 28. Trying to summon the dead is a bad idea, one that spells the end for Saul's reign.

In Never Gone, my protagonist Danielle has moments where she specifically fears she might have summoned her dead father, knowing that doing such a thing is very dangerous. But longing for a lost loved one does not make one a medium. Reaching across the divide between the living and dead isn't something people can do accidentally.

So what is going on with my ghost of Dani's dad, Graham Rhys Deane?

The idea of parental haunting is pretty old. Shakespeare uses it in Hamlet, for example. I also was inspired by the TV show Providence that aired from 1999-2002, in which a young woman moves home after her mother’s death, and often has long heart-to-heart talks and arguments with her mother’s ghost. The idea of a parental presence lingering to help a child fascinated me, especially when it’s unclear why it’s happening.

Is it possible that not every ghost appearance has a supernatural cause?

Generally, ghost lore in our culture is associated with bad deaths, with unfinished business. The question for me is whose unfinished business? The departed’s or the survivors’?

Dani is a fairly grounded Christian who knows enough “proof texts” (scripture quotes used to prove a particular point) to shut down her own natural emotions in the wake of a devastating loss. Her dad is bound for a happy eternity in heaven, she reasons, so she’s really not supposed to be upset.

This kind of warped stoicism that sometimes arises in my faith tradition concerns me. It’s bad theology to my mind, giving a false view of who God is and how he relates to humanity. In the face of it, a really hurting person can suffer deep internal fracturing. My story’s ghost is in some ways a manifestation of that inner state.

So how does Danielle cope with her ghost problem? I invite you to check out Never Gone to find out!

About Never Gone

Teen artist Dani Deane feels like the universe has imploded when her photographer father is killed. Days after his death, she sees him leafing through sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, wandering his own wake. Is grief making her crazy? Or is her dad truly adrift between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani longs for his help as she tries and fails to connect with her workaholic mother. Her pain only deepens when astonishing secrets about her family history come to light. But Dani finds a surprising ally in Theo, the quiet guy lingering in the backstage of her life. He persistently reaches out as Dani’s faith falters, her family relationships unravel, and she withdraws into a dangerous obsession with her father’s ghostly appearances. Will she let her broken, prodigal heart find a reason to hope again?

From the skyscrapers of New York to the sheep-dotted English countryside, Never Gone explores life after loss with emotional honesty, humor, and a touch of romance. 



View the trailer HERE

What is your take on the ghost trope?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

By guest author Elise Abram
visiting us from Canada (hence some variant spellings)

Modelling is not (as the title of a previous blog I wrote implied) actually stealing. It's more like borrowing. It happens all the time.
Look over a classic character's shoulder and learn!

Ray Bradbury did it. In the opening of his novel, Graveyard for Lunatics, Bradbury borrows Dickens's "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" parallel structure. In the short story, "The Veldt", Bradbury names the children Peter and Wendy, an obvious nod to J.M. Barrie's characters of the same name.

Stephen King does it. In The Talisman, King recreates a scene from Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. The original scene, focussing on peasants celebrating as they enjoy the spoils of an upturned cart of spirits, is twisted into something more gruesome in King's version. Instead of a celebration, King's scene focuses on the destruction caused by the ruined cart which kills a child and maims a horse. King repeats the process in Black House, The Talisman's sequel, which alludes to Dickens' Bleak House, in both theme, title, and within the story itself.

(Image credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/terryballard.)


Why model? 

 Modelling is a great way to test the waters to find your writing voice. It can also provide your readers with links to previous publications, famous authors and plots, and make a connection with universal themes.

[Laurel's note: if you struggle to come up with plots, this is an excellent way to learn story structure--studying another work, taking it apart, and rebuilding it with your own voice and subtle twists.]


Borrowing from the classics 

For example, if my character is a man-boy who refuses to grow up, I might call him Peter after Peter Pan. If I compose scenes that parallel Barrie's iconic story, I might take snippets of Barrie's words, or write parallel passages. I could give my Peter the same origin story as Pan, having him grow up an orphan after being found abandoned in his stroller, or first taken from his stroller and then abandoned. Readers will map their reading of Barrie's Peter onto my Peter, if the connection is made clear.

 If my character suffers a nervous breakdown, I might call her Dorothy, after Dorothy Gale, and make hallucinations a part of her downward spiral in which the people who are closest to her are not as they seem.

Or I could call her Alice, as in Wonderland, and have people around her embody the traits of the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, or the Queen of Hearts (as I do in my latest release, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice). Whenever my character feels herself spinning out of control, I could borrow from Baum's description of Dorothy in the throes of the twister, or Carroll's Alice as she falls into the rabbit hole, to describe what my character is feeling.

In conclusion 

Stephen King once said something to the effect that a good writer is aware of all of the writers who went before him. He further cautions that "if you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write." Then again, he also says that you shouldn't try to imitate another author's style or you'll come off sounding like a cheap imitation.

My point is that to be a good writer, you must read other successful authors in your genre, study their writing to figure out why they are successful, and then keep this at the back of your mind as you develop a style of your own style.


About the author


me
Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and computer studies, former archaeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. In her spare time, she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn’t burn. Her family doesn’t seem to mind.

Here's where you can learn more about Elise and her writing:

About I Was, Am, Will Be Alice 

Genre: YA Science Fiction (Time Travel)
Pages: 310
Release Date: 12 July 16  

Winner of the 2015 A Woman's Write Competition for fiction!

alice blue coverWhen Alice Carroll is in grade three she narrowly escapes losing her life in a school shooting. All she remembers is the woman comforting her in the moments before the gunshot, and that one second she was there, the next she wasn't.

It's bad enough coming to terms with surviving while others, including her favourite teacher, didn't, let alone dealing with the fact that she might wink out of existence at any time.

 Alice spends the next few years seeing specialists about her Post Traumatic Stress as a result of VD--Voldemort Day--but it's not until she has a nightmare about The Day That Shall Not Be Mentioned, disappears from her bed, is found by police, and taken home to meet her four-year-old self that she realizes she's been time travelling. 

Alice is unsure if her getting unstuck in time should be considered an ability or a liability, until she disappears right in front of her high school at dismissal time, the busiest time of day. Worried that someone may find out about her problem before long, Alice enlists her best friend (and maybe boyfriend), Pete, to help her try to control her shifting through time with limited success. She's just about ready to give up when the shooter is caught. Alice resolves to take control of her time travelling in order to go back to That Day, stop the shooting, and figure out the identity of the stranger who'd shielded Alice's body with her own.

Buy links: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Kobo.

If you were to go beyond alluding to other works and instead model one, which classic might you choose?

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday, July 14, 2016 Laurel Garver
By guest author Elise Abram
visiting us from Canada (hence some variant spellings)

Modelling is not (as the title of a previous blog I wrote implied) actually stealing. It's more like borrowing. It happens all the time.
Look over a classic character's shoulder and learn!

Ray Bradbury did it. In the opening of his novel, Graveyard for Lunatics, Bradbury borrows Dickens's "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" parallel structure. In the short story, "The Veldt", Bradbury names the children Peter and Wendy, an obvious nod to J.M. Barrie's characters of the same name.

Stephen King does it. In The Talisman, King recreates a scene from Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. The original scene, focussing on peasants celebrating as they enjoy the spoils of an upturned cart of spirits, is twisted into something more gruesome in King's version. Instead of a celebration, King's scene focuses on the destruction caused by the ruined cart which kills a child and maims a horse. King repeats the process in Black House, The Talisman's sequel, which alludes to Dickens' Bleak House, in both theme, title, and within the story itself.

(Image credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/terryballard.)


Why model? 

 Modelling is a great way to test the waters to find your writing voice. It can also provide your readers with links to previous publications, famous authors and plots, and make a connection with universal themes.

[Laurel's note: if you struggle to come up with plots, this is an excellent way to learn story structure--studying another work, taking it apart, and rebuilding it with your own voice and subtle twists.]


Borrowing from the classics 

For example, if my character is a man-boy who refuses to grow up, I might call him Peter after Peter Pan. If I compose scenes that parallel Barrie's iconic story, I might take snippets of Barrie's words, or write parallel passages. I could give my Peter the same origin story as Pan, having him grow up an orphan after being found abandoned in his stroller, or first taken from his stroller and then abandoned. Readers will map their reading of Barrie's Peter onto my Peter, if the connection is made clear.

 If my character suffers a nervous breakdown, I might call her Dorothy, after Dorothy Gale, and make hallucinations a part of her downward spiral in which the people who are closest to her are not as they seem.

Or I could call her Alice, as in Wonderland, and have people around her embody the traits of the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, or the Queen of Hearts (as I do in my latest release, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice). Whenever my character feels herself spinning out of control, I could borrow from Baum's description of Dorothy in the throes of the twister, or Carroll's Alice as she falls into the rabbit hole, to describe what my character is feeling.

In conclusion 

Stephen King once said something to the effect that a good writer is aware of all of the writers who went before him. He further cautions that "if you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write." Then again, he also says that you shouldn't try to imitate another author's style or you'll come off sounding like a cheap imitation.

My point is that to be a good writer, you must read other successful authors in your genre, study their writing to figure out why they are successful, and then keep this at the back of your mind as you develop a style of your own style.


About the author


me
Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and computer studies, former archaeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. In her spare time, she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn’t burn. Her family doesn’t seem to mind.

Here's where you can learn more about Elise and her writing:

About I Was, Am, Will Be Alice 

Genre: YA Science Fiction (Time Travel)
Pages: 310
Release Date: 12 July 16  

Winner of the 2015 A Woman's Write Competition for fiction!

alice blue coverWhen Alice Carroll is in grade three she narrowly escapes losing her life in a school shooting. All she remembers is the woman comforting her in the moments before the gunshot, and that one second she was there, the next she wasn't.

It's bad enough coming to terms with surviving while others, including her favourite teacher, didn't, let alone dealing with the fact that she might wink out of existence at any time.

 Alice spends the next few years seeing specialists about her Post Traumatic Stress as a result of VD--Voldemort Day--but it's not until she has a nightmare about The Day That Shall Not Be Mentioned, disappears from her bed, is found by police, and taken home to meet her four-year-old self that she realizes she's been time travelling. 

Alice is unsure if her getting unstuck in time should be considered an ability or a liability, until she disappears right in front of her high school at dismissal time, the busiest time of day. Worried that someone may find out about her problem before long, Alice enlists her best friend (and maybe boyfriend), Pete, to help her try to control her shifting through time with limited success. She's just about ready to give up when the shooter is caught. Alice resolves to take control of her time travelling in order to go back to That Day, stop the shooting, and figure out the identity of the stranger who'd shielded Alice's body with her own.

Buy links: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Kobo.

If you were to go beyond alluding to other works and instead model one, which classic might you choose?

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 02, 2016

image credit: ranbud at morguefile.com
with guest author Faith Blum

If you have read any mail order bride stories, you've probably noticed that even though the bride and groom never met each other, they are both genuinely good people. It's a rare story that has a scam or a truly bad person either write or respond to the mail order bride advertisement. Faith Blum took that rare theme and wrote three novellas about five young ladies duped into becoming mail order brides only to find out the men they were supposed to marry weren't what they had appeared in the letters. The first of those novellas just released on June 26th and Faith is here today to share a little about it.

Author Interview


What do you enjoy most about writing historical fiction?

I love learning and teaching little bits of history while writing historical fiction. For instance, in this novella, I learned that back then, even if you were married to someone, you rarely (if ever) called them by their first name when you were in public. BUT, that was different out west where they didn't always follow the rules. Thus the term The Wild West.

What special challenges have you faced writing about the Old West?

Since I like to write realistic fiction, I try to write it as it likely was back then rather than what it has been romanticized to be. That is quite challenging at times.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors interested in writing historical fiction?

Make sure you write according to the time period. It's difficult, but any words or phrases that are more modern will be noticed by someone and could get you a bad review. And yes, I am speaking from experience.

What inspired this story?

My novel, The Solid Rock, had five mail order brides in it who went through a rather challenging time. But in the novel, they were minor characters and I couldn't spend a lot of time on them. So, I wrote three novellas about them instead.

What message do you hope your readers will get out of this book?

God desires to have a close walk with you, all you have to do is let Him in.


About the Book

Just a Closer Walk_FrontI am weak, but Thou art strong/Jesus, keep me from all wrong/I’ll be satisfied as long/As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Katie and Joanna meet on a train headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming. They start talking and find out they are both headed there to become mail order brides. They quickly become good friends. When they get on a stagecoach with three other young women, Katie becomes suspicious. What is going to happen to them? Or is it really possible that nothing untoward is happening?

Saturday, July 02, 2016 Laurel Garver
image credit: ranbud at morguefile.com
with guest author Faith Blum

If you have read any mail order bride stories, you've probably noticed that even though the bride and groom never met each other, they are both genuinely good people. It's a rare story that has a scam or a truly bad person either write or respond to the mail order bride advertisement. Faith Blum took that rare theme and wrote three novellas about five young ladies duped into becoming mail order brides only to find out the men they were supposed to marry weren't what they had appeared in the letters. The first of those novellas just released on June 26th and Faith is here today to share a little about it.

Author Interview


What do you enjoy most about writing historical fiction?

I love learning and teaching little bits of history while writing historical fiction. For instance, in this novella, I learned that back then, even if you were married to someone, you rarely (if ever) called them by their first name when you were in public. BUT, that was different out west where they didn't always follow the rules. Thus the term The Wild West.

What special challenges have you faced writing about the Old West?

Since I like to write realistic fiction, I try to write it as it likely was back then rather than what it has been romanticized to be. That is quite challenging at times.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors interested in writing historical fiction?

Make sure you write according to the time period. It's difficult, but any words or phrases that are more modern will be noticed by someone and could get you a bad review. And yes, I am speaking from experience.

What inspired this story?

My novel, The Solid Rock, had five mail order brides in it who went through a rather challenging time. But in the novel, they were minor characters and I couldn't spend a lot of time on them. So, I wrote three novellas about them instead.

What message do you hope your readers will get out of this book?

God desires to have a close walk with you, all you have to do is let Him in.


About the Book

Just a Closer Walk_FrontI am weak, but Thou art strong/Jesus, keep me from all wrong/I’ll be satisfied as long/As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Katie and Joanna meet on a train headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming. They start talking and find out they are both headed there to become mail order brides. They quickly become good friends. When they get on a stagecoach with three other young women, Katie becomes suspicious. What is going to happen to them? Or is it really possible that nothing untoward is happening?