Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tick Tock Tick Tock on Opening Lines Contest

The judges have the entries. They've narrowed the field to four. It's only a matter of . . . TIME!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Attack of The Word Ninjas

They're here there and everywhere. Stealty, swift, and loaded with books. Check them out on myspace.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Last Day

OPENING LINES CONTEST CLOSES TONIGHT. The judges are ready and itching to choose this month's winner. If you haven't written the all time best opening yet, here's one hint that might help.

It's all about revision, and sometimes the best openings are written AFTER the book is finished--after you've deepened your understanding of your characters, developed an enticing plot, and established a consistent tone in your book.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Intreview with Aprilynn Pike

WINGS is here and it's hot. Now on the NY Times Bestseller list, this story of faeries and magic is perfect summertime reading.

Here's a bit about WINGS.

Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words. Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

APRILYNN PIKE has been spinning faerie stories since she was a child with a hyperactive imagination. She completed her BA in creative writing at the age of twenty at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. Aprilynne currently lives with her husband and three kids in Utah, where she dreams of warmer climates.

Aprilynn stopped in to say hi and tell us a little more about herself.

Of all your favorite books, which one do you wish you had written?

The Giver, by Lois Lowry. I will never write anything half that good.

What fictional character do you wish you could be?

Elastigirl. That is an awesome super-power!!

Stretchy! Yes.

After chocolate what do you eat to make the writer-block pain go away?

Um . . . more chocolate??

Absolutely. What else? You are a certified writer.

Buy from an Independent Bookstore near you.
Buy from Amazon

Mysterious Connections

Something very weird is happening. I think of a person--even one I haven't thought of in a long while-- and suddenly they call or they email or they bump into me at the fish market! What is this? Three times this month I've re-connected with people I haven't seen in years.

Maybe some kind of cosmic re-alignment. How about Global Warming? It gets blamed for everything else.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Blogger Aboard

One of my favorite writers and a super person has jumped aboard Blogspot. Welcome Mel Higgins to the writers here. Take a look at what she's writing about. Has she got the blog knack, or what?

A Convention of Lees

Last week Lee McKenzie contacted me (Lee McKenzie) to ask if I minded her using my name and picture on her blog. She wanted to post about all the people named Lee McKenzie who were in the arts.

"No, I'd love it!" I said. And here is her post. It was quite interesting to read about all the talented women who share my name.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Back to Work

Three days, wow! And now it's back to the reality of Tuesday! Hope everyone had a great break, had a moment to consider what this "holiday" really meant, and appreciated that because of the sacrifice of others we were able to enjoy doing whatever we chose to do.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Interview with Danelle Joseph

It's all about being shy and then finding a way deal with it . . . or not. DANIELLE JOSEPH's SHRINKING VIOLET is out and it's a great summer read.

Here's why:

For high school senior Teresa Adams, every day is an ordeal. She’s so painfully shy that she lives in dread of having to speak to anyone in the hallways or answer questions in class. But after school, in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks—doing mock broadcasts for Miami’s hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up, Tere surprises herself by working up the nerve to ask her stepfather to give her a chance—and finds herself The SLAM’s newest intern on one of the station’s most popular shows. Behind the mike she’s Sweet T, her sexy, confident on-air persona. To everyone’s shock—especially her mother’s—Sweet T is a hit. Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ’s awesome taste in music, making Tere wonder if it’s possible to be jealous of yourself. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest—and a prom date with “Sweet T” is the grand prize--Sweet T’s dream could turn into Tere’s worst nightmare. . . .

About the Author

Danielle Joseph was a college DJ for five years on the Gyroscope, a world music show. She also interned at several top Boston radio stations while earning her BFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Marketing Communications and Advertising from Emerson College. She has taught Creative Writing and English to Middle school students.

Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Danielle now lives in Miami, Florida with her husband and two young sons. These days you can find her cruising around with the tunes blaring and her internal DJ hard at work.

Thanks for dropping by today, Danielle. I know your readers are interested in knowing something about the creator of this beautifully shy girl. So here are a few questions.

Of all your favorite books, which one do you wish you had written?

Probably Tunes for Bears to Dance to by Robert Cormier. It is such a rich book but each word was chosen so carefully that is a a really smooth read!

Cormier is one of my favorite writers, so I'm really happy that you've mentioned one of his books.

What fictional character do you wish you could be?

SpongeBob because there seems to be so much going on in Bikini Bottom!

After chocolate what do you eat to make the writer-block pain go away?

More chocolate--lol!!

Of course, what else.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Etched in Stone

Ryan Coonerty's book, Etched in Stone, is a remarkable tribute to the power of words and the endurance of humanity. Beautifully photographed, this story of our monuments to great and ordinary men and women is a lesson in U.S. history that all of us can enjoy.

Perfect Memorial Day reading.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview with J.E. McLeod

WAITING TO SCORE IS J.E. MACLEOD'S debut novel about a young ice hockey player.Zack Chase, new in town, gets a crash course in the dangerous, fast-paced lives of local teen athletes. A good-looking, book-loving hockey star, Zack’s also expected to be a womanizing, alcohol-abusing party animal, but it’s not who he is. As jealous, obnoxious team captain Mac hounds him, Zack falls for Goth-girl Jane and befriends her teammate brother, both with their own secrets. Tragedy strikes and affects them all in this true-to-life debut novel, giving readers an insight into the lives of high school students and athletes.

The author says she writes her young adult stories,pulling from her own teen years. Here's what she says about herself and her entry into writing.

You know how some people are really quick witted and clever things seem to just float right off their tongues, like they’ve got a tiny speechwriter living inside their brains or something? Well, I’m totally not like that. Sometimes I’m a little slow on the comeback. It’s one of the reasons I love to write. I can always go back and add things later.

For me, being a teen was hard work. My teen years overflowed with angst. Good material for books I guess. Character building as it were. I think I love YA books for that reason.

My path to becoming an author was a windy one. After college, I worked as an advertising copywriter for radio and then TV and eventually moved on to sales and marketing. I missed writing and after having a son started my first book. I’ve been writing since and once I started writing YA, found like I’d come home. Back to the angst. And the hope of having a whole life ahead of you.

So let's get to know a little more about the author.

I'm guessing that you are an ice hockey fan. Am I right? If not, how did you choose to use this sport as your MC's talent? Do you play or enjoy watching other sports?

I watched a lot of hockey growing up--two brothers who played and my dad who coached. I spent a lot of time in hockey rinks.

Am I a fan now? Not as much as I used to be, but I still love watching live hockey! I followed one NHL team when I was in my twenties and was quite an avid fan. Okay I was a huge fan with player crushes and everything. I'm not much for watching hockey on TV though, I don't know why. I get so caught up in a game when I'm on a team's side and take the losses so personally. My son plays recreational hockey.

I myself was not very good at sports. I always wished I was better, but was born with kind of a klutz gene unfortunately. I think high school sports are an awesome outlet for kids. Might have kept me out of trouble. Maybe not. I have nieces who are very competitive in volleyball, baseball and ringette and I think they're amazing.

I chose hockey for Zack as a package really. He came alive to me as a hockey player in a dressing room, so there he was. Already a hockey player. But not the cliché hockey player that lived in the towns where I grew up. Someone different. Not what people expected. Like Zack.

My favorite part of Zack's story is when he stands up for a girl who is not able or willing to stand up for herself. I can't much more than that without being a spoiler.

What you've said is a great teaser. My next question is one I ask all the writers I interview. When people ask me this question I don't have an answer, so I keep hoping one you guys will give me one. What is your favorite book?

My list keeps growing every time I read a fab new YA author. Love, love, love YA books. My fave book from childhood, the book that made me want to be a writer, was a Wrinkle in Time.

I'll add that to my growing list. Thanks. Now what advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

I guess I'd quote Jo Beverley (Historical Romance Writer)when she says, "I will work hard on what can be analyzed and enunciated (ie books on craft and critiques) but I will work equally hard at treasuring the way I FEEL about my work."

But after publication, here's what I'd say. Accept in your head and in your heart that not everyone will love what you write, and that this does not reflect badly on them, or on YOU.

Amen to both pieces of advice, and thanks for sharing.

Be sure to look for WAITING TO SCORE at your local bookstore or Amazon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Interview with Leigh Brescia

Author, LEIGH BRESCIA, opens the door to Wrenn Scott's world where if Wrenn had only ONE WISH she'd wish to be thin. Overweight Wrenn Scott desperately wants to be popular and snag a hot boyfriend. Her amazing voice (for once) overshadows her weight when she lands a lead role in the high school musical. Pushing to get thinner by opening night, Wrenn's waistline shrinks as she learns all the wrong ways to lose weight from a new "it-girl" friend in the show. By opening night, the old Wrenn has almost disappeared. After a crisis reveals her weight-loss tricks, Wrenn realizes there are much more important things than being thin, popular, or even dating a hunk.

Leigh Brescia grew up in North Carolina, spending most of her days playing in the woods behind her home and imagining she was a princess.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Communication from Mount Olive College and her Master’s degree from Fort Hays State University. She currently teaches online English composition courses for three universities, and an online “Writing Novels for Young Adults” course for UC Irvine.

When she’s not grading papers or writing, she enjoys reading and watching movies. She sings when she’s in a good mood and has killed every plant she’s ever owned. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and her three-year-old.

When came to The Write Game I asked her to tell us just a bit more about herself. Here's what we talked about.

Of all your favorite books, which one do you wish you had written?

Everyone knows I am a huge Sarah Dessen fan, so if I had to choose I would probably pick one of her books. Of course, if I had to be specific, it would be a close race between The Truth About Forever or Just Listen.

What fictional character do you wish you could be?

Probably Elizabeth Bennet (an obvious choice), because she’s true to herself and still manages to snag the guy.

After chocolate what do you eat to make the writer-block pain go away?

Cheese fries (french fries/cheese/bacon bits) smothered in ranch dressing. This will usually make any kind of pain go away. :)

Why are authors such food junkies, I wonder? Not one has opted for salad or broccoli when I ask this question.

ONE WISH is now available at Amazon

Friday, May 15, 2009

Three Debs go to a Ball

Last night Jenn Laughran at Books Inc. in the Opera Plaza hosted three first-time authors. Sarah Quigley, Cheryl Herbsman, and me. We opened to a packed house and it was a wonderful audience.

Here we are doing what authors love to do, talking about our books.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Interview with Cheryl Herbsman

Cheryl Renee Herbsman's debut novel, BREATHING, is here. And thanks, Cheryl, for stopping by for a chat.

Here's a brief description of Cheryl's novel--just enough to make you want to read the story while sipping something tall and cool and imagining this Carolina setting.

What if the guy who took your breath away was the only one who could help you breathe?

Savannah would be happy to spend the summer in her coastal Carolina town lying in a hammock reading her beloved romance novels and working at the library. But then she meets Jackson. Once they lock eyes, she’s convinced he’s the one—her true love, her soul mate, a boy different from all the rest. And at first it looks like Savannah is right. Jackson abides by her mama’s strict rules, and stays by her side during a hospitalization for severe asthma, which Savannah becomes convinced is only improving because Jackson is there. But when he’s called away to help his family—and
seems uncertain about returning—Savannah has to learn to breathe on her own, both literally and figuratively.

This debut novel has it all—an endearing, funny, hopelessly romantic main character, lots of down-home Southern charm, and a sunny, salty beach setting that will transport you to the Carolina coast.

Cheryl Renée Herbsman lives in Northern California with her husband and two children, but she grew up in North Carolina and often spent summer vacations at the Carolina coast. Like Savannah, she fell in love as a teenager, and like Savannah and Jackson, she and her boyfriend carried on a long-distance relationship. They are now celebrating their twentieth wedding anniversary.

I asked Cheryl, "Of all your favorite books, which one do you wish you had written?" Here's what she answered.

Although there are many books I adore and am impressed by, I don't really wish I'd written them. I think we each have something so different and unique to offer. I try to focus on that.

And that's exactly what she's done. She's focused on capturing the pace and the sounds of her setting and she's done a fabulous job. While you're reading her book it's impossible not to settle into the rhythm of that southern coastal town.

What fictional character do you wish you could be?

I have to admit, it's Harry Potter :)

Wow! That was unexpected, Cheryl. You wouldn't by any chance have a touch of magical excitement tucked away for your next book? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

After chocolate what do you eat to make the writer-block pain go away?

There's supposed to be something after the chocolate?

Probably not.

Get you copy of BREATHING at Amazon

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Interview with Cindy Pon

Cindy Pon has the most absolutely fantastic cover, hasn't she? And her book, SILVER PHOENIX-BEYOND THE KINGDOM OF XIA has all the compelling, mysterious elements I love.

Here's a short summary to whet your appetite.

On the day of her first betrothal meeting--and rejection--ai ling discovers a power welling deep within her. She can reach into other people's spirits, hear their thoughts, see their dreams...and that's just the beginning.

ai ling has been marked by the immortals; her destiny lies in the emperor's palace, where a terrible evil has lived, stealing souls, for centuries. She must conquer this enemy and rescue her captive father, while mythical demons track her every step. And then she meets chen yong, a young man with a quest of his own, whose fate is intertwined with hers. Here is a heart-stopping, breathtaking tale for fans of action, fantasy, and romance--of anything with the making of legend.

See! Sounds fabulous, doesn't it? Now about Cindy:

Cindy Pon was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and her family immigrated to California in 1980, settling in the suburbs of Los Angeles. She began writing stories before she was officially declared English proficient. She received her bachelor's from the University of California, San Diego, and also earned a master's from New York University. The author is a student of Chinese brush painting, and her love for the art is reflected in her storytelling. Cindy Pon lives with her husband and two small children in San Diego, California.

When Cindy stopped by I had a few questions for her. Loved her answers.

Of all your favorite books, which one do you wish you had written?

island of the blue dolphins by scott o'dell.

What fictional character do you wish you could be?

sara from a little princess by france h burnett.

After chocolate what do you eat to make the writer-block pain go away?

gosh, muffins, coffee cakes, scones, croissants, taiwanese popcorn chicken with rice!

She's my kind of writer. She eats wicked stuff and admits to the dread writer-block.

Thanks for the visit, Cindy. Readers, be sure visit Cindy at her website,and whatever you do, don't forget to buy your copy of her book. Oh, yes. Don't miss her CONTEST to win a fabulous Chinese brush painting.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fire Season 2009

This image was taken by Johnathon Alcom and appeared in this New York Times article.
Well California is into its burning season again, earlier even than last year. So today I'm updating my inventory, packing up a few treasures that I can live without during the summer and hiding them in a safe place, and gearing up for whatever the hot months bring.

My friends in Santa Barbara are out of their home for the second year in a row while firefighters try to contain another brush fire.

We're on water rationing in northern Cal., but not so far in the southern part--what's wrong with that picture? Our farmers are already being severely cut in their water supply. Where will the rice and peaches come from I wonder? Is anyone concerned? Is anyone concerned enough to think about taking out those lawns and putting in some native plants that don't require water?

I hope so. Check out Susan T. Brown's Blog for some help with those natives. She's doing a great job connecting her passion for poetry and her love of non-thirsty plants.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Interview with Sydney Salter

It's fun to have writers stop by and tell us about their books as well as something about themselves. Today Sydney Salter is here. Her book, MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, came out in early April.

So what's this book about?

Seventeen-year-old Jory Michaels wakes up on the first day of summer vacation with her same old big nose, no passion in her life (in the creative sense of the word), and all signs still pointing to her dying a virgin. In spite of her driving record (it was an accident!), Jory gets a job delivering flowers and cakes to Reno's casinos and wedding chapels. She also comes up with a new summer goal: saving for a life-altering nose job. She and her new nose will attract a fabulous boyfriend. Jory survives various summer disasters like doing yoga after sampling Mom's Cabbage Soup Diet, enforced-mother-bonding-with-crazy-nose-obsessed-daughter night, and discovering Tyler's big secret. But will she learn to accept herself and maybe even find her passion, in the creative (AND romantic!) sense of the word?

Let's meet the author.

Sydney Salter held a variety of jobs before becoming a full-time writer, including her brief stint delivering pies and flowers, wrecking vans, and destroying wedding cakes in Reno, Nevada. Sydney now lives in Utah with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and two big Bernese Mountain dogs. She loves reading, writing, traveling, and, of course, baking and decorating cakes (but not driving them anywhere).

Okay, I'm laughing and understanding the not wanting to drive bit.

Can you let us in on a few more personal thing? Like, of all your favorite books, which one do you wish you had written?

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (I think it's flawless)

Sometimes characters we identify with reveal a lot about who we are, so what fictional character do you wish you could be?

Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen's Emma (I like to have my flaws)

Ever have writer's block? Wait. Don't answer that. I'm going to assume a, yes. I can't stand it when writers tell me they don't suffer like I do. So assuming you and share a similar affliction, after chocolate what do you eat to make the writer-block pain go away?

I prefer high quality dark chocolate and if that doesn't work, some really bad television and a session on the treadmill. And then maybe more chocolate.

In your book you deal with the issue of beauty and self-acceptance, specifically a young girl obsessed with her nose and wanting to have it "fixed." What led you to write about this issue?

I really hated my nose all throughout high school. Looking back I realize that I wasted too much energy worrying about my appearance. I hope my book can help girls look beyond physical attributes to find their inner beauty. I certainly wish I'd spent more time focusing on the things that really matter: personality, personal interests, intelligence, friendships...

Thanks, Lee! Great question.

Loved your visit, Sydney. I know teens will connect with your story.

Buy on Amazon. Enjoy the read.

Fabulous Freddie Remza

Let me tell you how I met Freddie and why I asked her to do these two interviews. I attended the SCBWI conference in New York two years ago and we connected to share dinner and a play. Great fun. We saw Wizard!!! And I made a new wonderful friend. There she is on the left, signing her book.

When she told me her story about her self-publishing journey I was impressed. Then she explained how she'd turned her love of travel into her love of travel for writing;I was totally impressed. How brilliant to link the two passions of your life.

So here's the second part of Freddie's interview with The Write Game. Enjoy.

When you travel, do you plan trips to places you will write about in the future?

Yes and no...Right now I am writing the sequel to The Journey to Mei where the second half of the story takes place in South Africa. I was able to write the first half at home and then waited until I returned from South Africa to finish. I did the same when I went to China for The Journey to Mei. I like doing it that way because I put myself into the book as the main character telling the story. I want my mind to be a blank page when writing about a place far away with no influences other than the ones I would naturally receive from movies, books, newspaper, etc. But then when the family arrives--so do I. I return home with volumes of notes and impressions all set to fuse into the story.

Then there's the manuscript I'm still polishing titled Galapagos...A Land Untamed.
I believe this has the potential of becoming an interesting non-fiction picture book for kids of all ages. I had no intention of using my trip to the Galapagos in my writing. But once I experienced this amazing place, I just had to write about it. Hopefully, someday the story will see the light of day.

Based on what I know about you, that is inevitable, Freddie. Send me an email when that one comes out.

What kinds of details do you note? Settings, people, cultural differences between the place you are visiting and the U.S.?

All of the above. In addition, what I'm really looking for are the sights, sounds, smells and itty bitty details that can't be pulled off the internet or out of some text book. For example, how the beds in China are extremely hard; the tile on the airport floor in Hong Kong is black and white; watermelon is often served at the end of a turntable meal in China; the streets of Chengdu are lined with hibiscus trees--things like that. When I am on a trip doing research I find I come back remembering so much more of what I did then if I went just as a tourist.

What is your next project about? Will some of it take place in another country? Have you been there or are you planning to go there?

As mentioned earlier, I am working on a sequel of The Journey to Mei. I call it Shelly's World. The story picks up four years after the first book ended. So Mei, the adopted child, is now 5/6 and Shelly, the birth child, is now 15/16. The trick is to keep Shelly's personality but transform her into a teenager. Research doesn't always take place in faraway places. I spend a lot of time eating lunch at a local fast food place near a high school so I can see how teenagers interact with each other and the language they use.

Although China is naturally mentioned in the second manuscript, the adoption issue is not a main topic as it was before. Shelly's father's job has the family going to Cape Town, South Africa for a year. I spent three weeks in South Africa last fall. Ian, my guide, has his home in Cape Town. When we arrived in this city, he hooked me up with his wife and the two of us spent one day looking for a neighborhood the family could live in; even decided on the house. We found a school for Shelly and I was able to interview a student from that school as to programs offered, and other detailed information I would not necessarily be privy to. It was an amazing day.

You do a lot of public speaking. Can you share some of what you say in these presentations?

I discovered there are many local organizations that are always looking for a speaker. So usually when I am somewhere giving a presentation, there is someone present who belongs to another organization and the inquiries start coming. Pretty much the presentations fall into several categories depending on who the audience is and what they request. I have done power point presentations where I have shown my photos and talked about what my impressions were of China. Groups like the Rotary and teacher centers are often interested in that. Currently I am putting the same kind of program together on South Africa to present to Lyceum which is a senior citizen group similar to Elder Hostel.

Another type of presentation I do is talk about The Journey to Mei and how I tie my writing into the travel. Usually women's groups request that. I've also gone into schools to talk about China during Chinese New Years. Another activity I've done is to speak of the writing process itself to kids and the importance of revision or "doing something over again to improve it." As a teacher I knew how kids resisted that.

One time I was asked to talk to a graduate children's lit class at Binghamton University about the publishing process. That was fun to do.

I think everything you do is fun. Great to have you here to share your experience. Hope you'll come back when that next book is out--heck, before that!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Journey to Mei--Interview with Freddie Remza

I want to introduce to Freddie Remza's book, Journey to Mei, a story of international adoption for kids

Ten year old Shelly is upset when she discovers that her parents plan on adopting a child. Shelly enjoys her 'only child' status and is not willing to give it up without a little struggle. As she becomes more aware and lets go of her selfishness, we see her evolve into a caring person anxious to become a big sister to a child far away.

What Freddie Remza says:
“This book is a valuable resource that could be given to the adopted child to read when she's a little older. It's also a story that could be handed to the child's siblings, cousins, classmates, and friends. Actually, with the world getting smaller each year, "The Journey to Mei" could be read by all children to foster an understanding of another country's traditions and culture.”

C. Stasko, mother of an adopted daughter from China says:

“The Journey to Mei" will be a valuable asset to all people adopting from China. Even though we've spoken about some of the issues of adoption when our child was younger, it's nice to see it in a story and to read and discuss it together. The book explains so much and does so very simply, clearly and delicately.

I asked Freddie how she came to write about the adoption of a Chinese baby girl into an American family? Here's what she said.

It was really a fluke as to how all that happened. First of all, a friend's daughter was visiting me one day. She had adopted domestically and her child was about 8 years old at the time. She suggested that I consider writing a story for kids about adoption. She mentioned how very little was out there for the older child, but lots for younger kids. I listened but really didn't think that I would be interested in doing the project. The next day a friend called me up and wanted to know if I would like to go to China. She was looking for someone to go with and knew I loved to travel. China wasn't high on my priority list so I told her I would think about it. A couple of hours later I was in front of my house when my neighbor's twelve year old daughter walked by. Well, this child was adopted as a baby from China. All of this came together as one big thunderbolt and the research was on. The rest is history.


Journey to Mei is now available to buy.

Freddie will be back. She has more to tell us about herself and her writing.