Thursday 29 March 2012

Legacy Can-Do Kids: Chase McEachern

Chase McEachernEleven year-old Chase McEachern left us all too soon. This promising young hockey player died of a cardiac arrest in 2006, but not before he passionately advocated for automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to be located in all public places. He was just beginning to ramp up his campaign when, on Feb. 9, he collapsed during gym class and was rushed to hospital, where doctors learned he had suffered severe brain damage due to lack of oxygen. Six days later, his parents, John and Dorothy McEachern, made the incredibly difficult decision to take him off the respirator

Here’s a little information about this amazing young man: At the age of five, as a centre for his Barrie, Ontario minor hockey team, he scored a whopping 130 goals. In October, 2005, after being injured playing a pick-up football game at school, he went to emergency where the doctors happened to discover his heart was beating fast – up to 150 times a minute – even though he was sitting in bed, a condition later diagnosed as an atrial flutter.

That night, he went by air ambulance to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto and the next day underwent a cardiovert, in which doctors returned his heart rhythm back to normal with a small electric pulse while Chase was under a general anesthetic. It was successful and Chase went back to school and continued playing hockey, but this time, under doctors’ orders, wearing a heart monitor. During practice, however, Chase’s heart would sometimes beat up to 320 times a minute.

After hearing that hockey greats Jiri Fischer collapsed and Mario Lemieux retired because of irregular heart beats like his, Chase decided to start a campaign to make AEDs mandatory in hockey arenas and schools everywhere because, as his mother, Dorothy, says, “He realized that heart problems didn’t just affect older people.” Chase even went so far as to write TV hockey commentator Don Cherry a letter, asking for his support, which he gladly gave Chase, and in doing so brought a greater awareness of heart conditions among children.

To date, Chase’s dream continues with more than 2,700 units installed, and 27 lives saved.

If you are interested making a donation to the Chase McEachern Tribute Fund, please click here:

Monday 26 March 2012

Author In The Limelight: Dusty Crabtree

Shadow EyesI want to thank and welcome author, Dusty Crabtree for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Her book, Shadow Eyes, can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.

How long have you been writing, Dusty?
Since May 2010, so almost 2 years now. Shadow Eyes was really the first thing I wrote.  I must have had the writer gene lurking around inside me for a while, though, because it didn’t take long for me to realize my passion for writing.

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Shadow Eyes?

The inspiration actually came from a screenplay idea I had a few years prior. The movie would have been about a cast of intertwined characters going about their lives and making mistakes with dark, creepy shadows (demons)hovering around them, whispering to them and influencing them to do evil things.  Only the audience would see the shadows, though.  The characters would be completely oblivious.  It would have been like a Christian horror movie, if there ever was such a genre!  However, my friend was really the one who inspired me to write the book as it was her suggestion and encouragement that made me even consider the mammoth task.
What sets Shadow Eyes apart from other books in the same genre?

There are several young adult paranormal/urban fantasies out there about fallen angels, demons, vampires, etc.  Without giving too much away, mine isn’t…  Okay, that hardly gave anything away.  Mine is about angels and demons, but the way that concept is portrayed with the main character seeing the shadows (demons) and light figures (angels) hovering around in the world unbeknownst to everyone else is unlike any other plot I’ve seen.  It’s something that is not all that far-fetched, so it hits readers more personally I think.  Not only that, but Shadow Eyes is also more about promoting morals and teaching life-lessons than most others in this genre…even though it has quite a few PG-13 scenes…
As an author, Dusty, what is your writing process?

You mean besides sitting on my couch with my laptop and getting lost in my writing until my throat is parched, I have nothing left to drink, and I have to pee so bad I’m seeing yellow?  Well, other than that little tidbit that probably fell under the category of TMI, I write extremely detailed outlines beforehand – for example, the outline for my 2nd book is 38 pages!  I then let the writing flow, and each time I pick it back up I revise what I just wrote before continuing.  Any given section gets revised SEVERAL times before I finish the book and then really revise.  Can you tell I’m a bit of a perfectionist? 
Yes, and that’s a GOOD thing! How long did it take for you to start and finish Shadow Eyes?

I started writing it in May of 2010 and finished (pre-revision/editing) in January 2011, so it took about 8 months.
Do you have any advice for other writers, Dusty?

Find something you are extremely passionate about, formulate a plot for the idea with things you love (whether that be romance, mystery, action, etc.), and start writing.  If it’s something you truly love and you have a great ending planned, you won’t want to stop until you reach it.

What’s next for Dusty Crabtree the author?
I’m actually working on a sequel for Shadow Eyes right now.  I don’t have a name for it yet, but I’m only in the second chapter.  Of course, I already have a detailed outline done, so, since I know what all will be included and how it’s going to end, I’m pretty excited about it. Sadly, though, I can’t tell you much about it because it would ruin the first book for you!

Sounds exciting, Dusty! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?
That sounds like it would be so much fun! Lots of research, but a lot of fun, too! Hmmm…as far as actually time traveling, so many ideas come to mind.  One of my favorite time periods, though, is the 1920s because that era just sounds like a blast!  Late nights, dancing, going to parties at fancy, elaborate mansions (assuming I would be cool and rich enough to be invited), snazzy, fringy outfits with feathers in my hair, carefree attitude…the only thing is my husband would have to deal with me having shorthair.

Book Blurb:

Iris Kohl lives in a world populated by murky shadows that surround, harass, and entice unsuspecting individuals toward evil.  But she is the only one who can see them.  She’s had this ability to see the shadows, as well as brilliantly glowing light figures, ever since an obscure, tragic incident on her fourteenth birthday three years earlier. 

Although she’s learned to cope, the view of her world begins to shift upon the arrival of three mysterious characters.  First, a handsome new teacher whose presences cares away shadows; second, a new friend with an awe-inspiring aura; and third, a mysterious and alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend.
As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, she must ultimately revisit the most horrific event of her life in order to learn her true identity and become the hero she was meant to be.

Thursday 22 March 2012

This Picture Is Worth A Whole Novel...

I can really relate to this picture. No, I’ve never been in a war or in a muddy trench, but I have nursed a day-old kitten. There was something about this picture that grabbed me, held me, and brought me to tears. It was in the remembering, and in the feeling, that hit a homer for me. I remembered how I felt just being there for the kitten. Yes, there was a sense of hopelessness, but I was focused on the outcome. And like listening to a favourite song and losing your soul in it, I lost mine in this old black and white photo.

Common sense tells me that both the subjects have long since past away. For all I know, it could have been the next day, or even sooner. Who knows how long we have? It’s in what we do with the time we have left that counts. It’s truly in how we live our life and what actions we take.
This photo rekindled something inside of me. It forces me to be a better writer, a better person. There’s a definite story here, deep in the gesture of the soldier, and in the vulnerability of the kitten. There’s gentleness, there’s love, and there’s determination.

 Despite whatever is going on in the soldier’s mind, he’s certainly focused on the present, and that’s a solid state to be in.
So the next time you’re struggling with your story, whether in revisions, edits or a work-in-progress, remembering this photo may help you take the necessary action to move your book forward and get the job done.

Monday 19 March 2012

Authors In The Limelight: Cornell DeVille

The Golden Disk 1: Cannibal IslandI want to thank and welcome author, Cornell DeVille for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. This is Cornell’s second appearance on my blog. His book, Lost in the Bayou was featured on December 1st, 2011. Please click HERE to read it. His new book, Cannibal Island, the first story that will lead to multiple sequels, can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.

Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Cannibal Island?
You're not the first to ask that question. And I've yet to come up with an answer. This is the first book I've written that just sort of wrote itself. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's true. It was actually an effort to complete the Nano project. So I just started writing. I wrote the first 50,000 words in 10 days. It was just pouring out. It ended up being over 70,000 by the time I finished the first draft. Then I spent nearly a year editing it, changing things, adding things, deleting things. I know that doesn't answer your question, but it's the best answer I can give you.

What sets Cannibal Island apart from other books in the same genre?
I think it has a character that's missing in some of the current adventure books. I grew up reading Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. One editor told me that Cannibal Island has a kind of Dickensian voice to it because of the sentence structure and the setting details. I'm hoping that was a compliment. I wrote Cannibal Island with the idea of creating something I would have enjoyed reading when I was a teenager. It's much more boy-centric than most of my books. So maybe that's what sets it apart: It will probably appeal to boys, especially reluctant readers because it moves pretty fast and there's a lot of adventure and danger involved at every step of the way.

Could you explain what the “Steampunk” genre entails?
My understanding of Steampunk is that it must have specific elements. It's typically set in turn-of-the-century (Victorian age). It involves a lot of clockwork mechanisms, goggles, dirigibles, steam-powered devices and "futuristic" mechanical items that probably were not around during the time the story is taking place. And there must be "gizmos" of various kinds that appear at the right time to help the protagonist out of a dilemma. They may also be set in an alternate history situation, i.e., a world in which Germany won WWII, for example, or JFK wasn't assassinated. The possibilities are endless.

What is your writing process when planning a trilogy or a series, Cornell?
One thing you must do is keep close track of everything you've written in the first novel. You can't have a character change hair-color from one book to the next. Secondly, you need to have an overall idea of the entire sequence of events from the beginning of Book 1 to the final line of Book 3. Finally, you need to figure out exactly where you're going to end each installment. In other words, if you think of the trilogy as one complete work, then you need to simply divide into three sections that have a beginning, a middle, and an ending, although the ending isn't REALLY the ending. But the ending has to have a bit of denouement in order to satisfy the reader. Although you don't want to satisfy them completely — leave a bit of a question or some unresolved issue, an important one, that makes them crave Book 2. Then begin Book 2 at the point Book 1 ended, etc. Suzanne Collins did this masterfully in her Hunger Games trilogy.

Well said! I keep character tracking sheets and a list of ideas for my YA series. How long did it take for you to start and finish Cannibal Island?
It took me 30 days to write the first draft. Then a little over a year of editing and polishing it into a publishable form.

Do you have any advice for other writers who are planning to write a trilogy or series, Cornell?
My only advice would be, as I mentioned earlier, to keep notes on your characters including physical assets, speech habits, etc. They have to remain true to form throughout the adventure, aside from some emotional or psychological growth they experience during the story. Secondly, if your premise is not broad enough, don't think of it as a trilogy. Write the first book, then ask yourself whether there is any more you can bring to the reader that is as worthy as what you've already written. If not, stop there. Don't do a sequel. Come up with another story entirely. Some characters and premises are rich with potential for additional work. Others aren't. It's up to you to decide if you have the skeleton for a multiple-book adventure.

Great advice! So, what’s next for Cornell Deville the author?
I'm currently working on the first sequel to Cannibal Island. It's very different than the original book. In Book 1, we follow Richie Armstrong, Angus Callahan, Kuko, and the little monkey, Nugget, from England to Peru aboard a state-of-the-art steamship on an adventure searching for a Golden Disk that's supposedly a time-travel device created by the Incas. Naturally, they're being pursued by the persistent, oily-haired and spotty-faced archenemy Hans Von Hisle in his dirigible. It's high adventure and a race against time with high stakes and a tremendous treasure in store for the victor. I won't give away the ending, except to say that it's a bit unexpected. Book 2 takes up where the first adventure concludes, and, I didn't think it would be possible, but it's actually turning out to be even more exciting than the first book.

Lost in the BayouFACEBOOK: Author Cornell DeVille:
TWITTER: cornelldeville


Thursday 15 March 2012

Writers Give People What They Need

Author Harry Turtledove has been dubbed "The Master of Alternate History". His novels have been credited with bringing alternate history into the mainstream. His style of alternate history has a strong military theme with scenes of combat happening throughout many of his works. Turtledove is a shining example of giving people (aka—his readers) what they need. So what is this need I’m talking about? Closure—writers give people a complete story. They get closure, they get satisfaction, and they get a sense of completion through the writer’s most meaningful experiences. Deep, eh?

Here’s where it gets deeper: When Harry Turtledove was approached by a fan’s best friend—a man named Reddit, to ask if he could get an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) for his terminally ill friend, Nachu Bhatnagar to read, Turtledove responded in kind, not only sending Nachu a copy, but calling the young man to speak to him personally.

Here’s the letter Reddit sent to Turtledove:

“It is my duty as a friend to do whatever I can to fulfill Nachu's last wishes. Is it at all possible for you to send him copies of the remaining books in the series? I understand the risks involved in sending an advance copy of your books to him and I understand the potential copyright issues and backlash from publishers. That said, my friend needs some good luck and kindness to balance out the awful stream he's been on, and I couldn't imagine a better person for it than his favorite author.”

And we get even deeper: Besides giving Nachu the advance copy, which hits stores in July, Turtledove also agreed to spoil the entire War series in a phone call (or possible face-to-face meeting) with Nachu. Now, that kind of relationship between an author, a fan, and a best friend is priceless, and beyond measure. And it’s something to strive for as an author.

If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the link to the video of Turtledove giving a fan what he needs:

Monday 12 March 2012

The Lucky Seven Meme Tag Is On ...

The Lucky Seven Meme

Fellow scribe, Cordelia Dinsmore just tagged me last week to take part in the Lucky Seven Meme. Drat her! Just kidding, it sounds like a fun Shakespearean romp. Here be the rules:

1. Go thou to page 77 of your current MS
2. Get thee hence to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines - sentences or paragraphs - and post them as they're written. No cheating!
4. Tag 7 authors
5. Let each and every one of them know
(Unwritten rule - share the literary love)

Here's my lucky seven:
“I’m not sure what he’s saying, but by the way he’s checking you out, it looks like you’re gonna need a restraining order soon,” Treena said, as she plucked up Jordan’s sweatshirt.

“Did I just hear Jordan?” Drake asked excitedly, as he joined them.

Amanda nodded. “Jordan and Ravi were smuggled in Much’s bread cart.”

Suddenly people started screaming and backing away. A small girl, dirty-faced and wide-eyed, blurted out, “Lepers! Lepers!”

“God’s teeth!” the guard yelled, as he finally fought off the roosters. “Lepers in the courtyard! I beg thee, run!”

And who are my picks for the next lucky seven writers? Well, there are many more than seven, so here are a few from my great blogging network:

1. Linda Benson

2. Samantha Combs

3. Pat Flewwelling

4. Stephanie Cambell

5. Lynda Dunwell

6.  Mary S. Palmer

7. Eleni Konstantine

I hope they will all participate! And if there's no page 77 - or it's unfit for the faint-hearted, there's always page 7 as a fallback! Cheers everyone and have a great week!

Thursday 8 March 2012

Pen Names

Who are you? No, I really want to know. For months I’ve been hanging with a great group of authors over at the Musa Publishing crib. Many of those authors have pen names – aka PSEUDONYMS. I still don’t know one particular author’s name that I’ve come to know well and count on for support and help. I find pen names funny. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concept of a “secret identity”. The authors want to keep their private lives private. Their pen name is their business name. Yet, on facebook, there’s a real photo of them next to their fake name. I find that hilarious—like unmasking Batman or taking off Clark Kent’s glasses. Pen names intrigue me, so I did a little digging, and came up with these tidbits compliments of the Daily Writing Tips blog:

Authors throughout the centuries have used pen names. You’ve probably heard of the following authors:

·         George Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair)

·         George Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans)

·         Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)

 Authors use pen names for a wide variety of reasons. These include:

        To remain anonymous (especially if producing a politically or religiously sensitive work)
     This is perhaps less common today, but sometimes occurs if a very personal or sexually explicit work is written.

         To change or conceal gender

In the 18th century, many female authors used male pen names in order to be taken seriously. George Eliot is the most famous example, though the Bronte sisters all wrote under pen names too.

This trend still continues in some genres today: for example, female fantasy or science fiction authors will often use a gender-neutral name (Robin Hobb) or use their initials (J.K. Rowling) as the genre has traditionally attracted more male readers and authors. A similar effect can be seen when male authors adopt a female pen name to write a chick lit or romance novel.

         To write across multiple genres

Lewis Carroll also wrote mathematical textbooks under his real name (Charles Dodgson), so adopted a pen name for his children’s novels. Authors today who write in multiple genres will sometimes use a different name for each one, to avoid confusing readers.

To recover from poor sales or reputation

If an author’s real name has attracted criticism, it may be worth considering changing to a pen name. Sometimes, the first few novels by a new author don’t sell well in bookshops, leading publishers to reject future submissions. Therefore, changing to a pen name is often recommended in these circumstances.

So there you have it: if you are trying to build up a reputation in multiple genres, using a pen name (or several pen names) is probably a good idea. Even if your real name (or current pen name) has been slammed or attracted heavy criticism, switching to a new name could be a good way to go. However, adopting a pen name means building up your reputation again from scratch— a lot of work, but it may be well worth the time and effort to do so.

 A final thought: if you’re using a pen name in an attempt to remain anonymous, be aware that people are often curious when they suspect a secret—you may well be “discovered” under that mask you worked so hard to create. In some cases, this can lead to great publicity, but if your publisher or fans suspects you of trying to conceal a less-than-stellar past, it may backfire.

 To be you, or not to be you? What’s your choice? I’ve decided to stick with my real name.
Images: stock photos 8767425 & 10879311

Monday 5 March 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award ...

I was recently nominated for this Fantastic Award by Linda Benson, one of my BFAs (best friend authors) from Musa Publishing. She has a great blog called—you ready for this—Linda Benson. The girl’s so original! Thank you very much, Linda! I am honored!

So, in all due haste, I will now tell you the rules of this award:

1. In a post on your blog, nominate 5 fellow bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.
Are we having fun yet? Hope so!

So, without further ado, here are seven things about me:

Number One: I’m a late bloomer when it comes to being a writer. As a young girl, I never sat in my bedroom conjuring up stories on a pad of paper. Nope. But I did make up stories in my head all the time. I plotted, structured, and imagined my characters in different scenarios fighting against the bad guys. Then, as if making a game of it, I’d rewrite in my head over and over again. Who knew this would prepare me for my present role as a writer!
Number Two: I used to own a graphic trade shop with my hubby for over 20 years (I started young, and just leave it at that). We did the graphics on make-up tubes, aerosol cans, yogurt or ice cream containers, and promotional cups for movies. At first there were no computers, so it was hands on all the way! FYI—the company is still going strong!

Number Three: I’ve been in a burning building wearing a full-on firefighter uniform complete with an oxygen tank. Let me explain: a friend used to teach fire fighting on the Air Force base we used to live near. He invited me along for a “burn”—deliberate fires being set inside concrete buildings built specifically to train student firefighters. I’m telling you I have such a deep respect for fire fighters after that experience. The smoke was so thick in the building that I had to put my hand right against my mask to see it! Yikes!
Number Four: I’ve participated in a Native Awareness course. This was designed specifically for the military, but civilians could enroll too. Elders from different tribes came to teach us about their way of life, and we got a chance to walk in their shoes, especially when we learned about how Natives were treated in the past (and sadly still are in the present). It was also the first time I got to go into a sweat lodge. One of the elders, Bill Sault, became a dear friend, and I named a character after him—Amanda Sault.

Number Five: I love, love, love single malt scotch—the older the better. I also like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain…
Number Six: I used to work for the local animal shelter. That illustrious career lasted 14 months. After going to the emergency three times within two months—the doctors got to know me by name—I started to have second thoughts about this new profession. I love animals, but I also loved writing. The animals somehow taught me to be “my own best friend”, and get back to what I really loved to do—write books! Thank you, Fido and Kitty!

Number Seven: I’ve recently been contacted by One Match, as a possible bone marrow donor. This organization matches bone marrow transplant recipients with donors. This is something near and dear to my heart—to make a difference in someone’s life by giving them a second chance. I’ll keep you posted!
And now, my picks for the nominations for “The Versatile Blogger” goes to:

Kevin Craig:

L.K. Mitchell:

Thursday 1 March 2012

Authors in the Limelight: Wayne Greenough

I want to thank and welcome author, Wayne Greenough for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. His book, Champion of Justice and Freedom, can be purchased from MusaPublishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores.
How long have you been writing, Wayne?

I've been writing off and on for over fifty years.
Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Champion of Justice and Freedom?

My idea for Champion of Justice and Freedom came from the movie serials I have.
What sets Champion of Justice and Freedom apart from other books in the same genre?

What makes Champion of Justice and Freedom different is the way it is written.  Back in the 1930s to the 1950s movie companies would produce movie chapter serials. These were usually four hours long or longer and twelve to fifteen chapters in length.  The movie house would show them a chapter a week. At the end of each chapter the hero would always be shown about a second away from instant death, or some other form of cliffhanger danger.  Then the chapter would show you a coming next week film clip.  Champion of Justice and Freedom is written that way.  It is twelve chapters long.  With chapter headings like this: You won't want to miss the next chapter. Chapter Five, Frog of Doom, Or, Ribit, Ribit.  Out of all the juvenile books I've read I have never come across one that was written like Champion of Justice and Freedom.  That's why it's different.
As an author, Wayne, what is your writing process?

I just sit down and write. I don't seem to be able to do an outline, or even plan ahead.
Now that’s sage advice!

How long did it take for you to start and finish Champion of Justice and Freedom?
I can't remember how long it took to write Champion of Justice and Freedom.  My self editing, going over the story again and again does take a long time.

Do you have any advice for other writers, Wayne?
For young writers, if your ideas keep you awake at night, if you’re talking to friends and double thinking of the story, scratching away at your brain, then never, never, never, give up writing.  I'm eighty, a man with three hundred reject slips telling me I can't write.  As of this writing I have eleven contracts and more to come. Never give up. A reject slip is not an insult. It's a teaching. Write that story again and never give up.

 What’s next for Wayne Greenough the author?
What’s next for me? Well, I've been asked by my editor to write another Champion. I probably will.

Hope so! Your book sounds like a fun read!
Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series – If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

Time travel. I wrote one. My Angelina Mine is under contract but hasn't been released yet.  If I could hop into such a machine I would go back to the time of Christ. I've always been very curious to know what actually happened back then.
To buy Champion of Justice and Freedom:

Wayne Greenough’s Blog: