Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet Jerssica Landmon Author of All Mascara is Not Created Equal

About the Author:


Jessica Landmon has ministered to women's groups for over a decade. She is the founder of Women Get Real Ministries, which addresses issues that all women struggle with, including fear, faith, anxiety, depression, and body image. She is happily married, and God has blessed her with two beautiful children.


Introduction to the Book:


Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media are sending mixed messages about the way we, as women, are to live our lives. Catch phrases like “YOLO” and “swag” are distorting the ideals that we should strive for. Women have more to contribute to society than being sexy, and we certainly shouldn’t attach our worth to how many likes we get on a selfie.

As a mother to a tween daughter and a teenage son, I have learned a few things about life along the way. This book is full of valuable tips or bits of wisdom that I have learned, or heard from my parents, while growing up.

Some of them are quite spiritual and have helped me through some difficult times. Some of them are
practical and certainly would have helped me to avoid some major overreactions to the silliest of things. Some are just plain amusing. They stem from those eureka moments where I was like “That is so true!” Like, who knew that the thread count of sheets really does make a difference?

This is not just another book where a mother and her daughter walk hand-in-hand in the garden as the
mom passes along life lessons. This book is more of a woman-to-woman guidebook for life
.
Now about mascara...how many of you look at celebrities and are like, there is no way their lashes can be that full! You’ve tried to layer coat after coat with your mascara and wonder why your lashes still look like, well, your lashes. You think, am I applying this wrong? Maybe I need a special brush No.

All mascara is NOT created equal! This was news to me. I don’t care how much your current mascara costs, it still might not be good. There ARE mascaras that are superior to others. You just need to find the right one.

So, as you read through the pages of this book, grab a cup of tea, and let these tips sink in. Don’t get
distracted by what society is trying to tell you to become; walk in the plan God has for you. You are God’s beautiful creation, and He has a wonderful plan for your life.


Interview:

1. Can you give us a brief summary of your book, All Mascara is Not Created Equal?

All Mascara is Not Created Equal is intended to present lighthearted, witty, and spiritually sound advice to young women and girls in “tweet-like” form to help them live a life God would approve of.

2. Where did you get the idea to write this book?

I actually started writing the book specifically for my tween daughter and intended to give it her as she entered middle school. Those years can be tough. As a parent, I’m very concerned about the message culture is marketing to our youth. It contradicts the way God has called us to live.

3. How did you come up with the playful title?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love mascara. I had tried several brands over the years and
finally discovered a fantastic mascara that I just loved. It was full of minerals and actually nourished
your lashes. Plus, it created a very full lash. I would always joke with daughter, saying that if you
remember anything I tell you remember that ‘All Mascara Is Not Created Equal.’

4. How long did it take you to write the book? Do you have any stories you can share of how you
gathered specific quotes or advice?

You could say the book took most of my life to write, as my experiences growing up and parenting are what shaped it. But, in actuality, it only took about a year to record them and fine-tune them. Most of them wrote themselves. I would be having a conversation with my kids, and all of a sudden I would give some advice. If I liked it, I would later record it. In fact, as I was compiling the tips, my kids would remind me of the things I had told them through the years. Some of the tips are just reflections of the advice my mother and father passed on to me. Of course, they
needed a little tweaking. I didn’t have to deal with the pressures of social media and cell phones
when I was growing up.

5. Did you have any challenges when writing this book? If so, what were they?
The only challenge I really faced was stopping. At some point, I had to say, this is enough. I will most certainly continue to give my daughter (and son) advice as they continue to mature, but there definitely needed to be a stopping point for the book.

6. We would love to know more about the woman behind the book. How would you describe
yourself?

Practical. Organized. Planner. These are some words that my close circle of friends and family would useto describe me. And I can’t argue with that. But, when the Holy Spirit asks me to do something, all that goes out the door. Jesus’ love for me is the most important thing in my life. My goal is that everyone would experience this type of love, which is why I am so quick to abandon my plans and do what God wants me to do. On a fun note, I am married to my high school sweetheart. I was only 16 when we started dating. He was a football player and I was a cheerleader. You don’t get any cuter than that! God has blessed us with two beautiful children who are my absolute joy.
Also, I just love Yorkies, which is why you see them all throughout the book. One day, when the timing is right, I will add one to our family.

7. What do you hope readers take away from All Mascara is Not Created Equal?

I hope women learn that pop culture shouldn’t define the kind of women we become. I hope that they
see that life is hard, but Jesus will be your comforter and strength. I hope that every woman sees her
beauty, even before she puts on her mascara. Our inner beauty is so much more important than anything on the outside.

8. Can you tell us more about the ministry behind the book, Women Get Real?

Women Get Real Ministries is all about “getting real” with other women. All too often, women put on the facade that everything is just perfect. But, in reality, they are silently suffering with issues like fear, anxiety, depression, body image, and faith. We break the rules about what is and is not
acceptable to talk about, to try and reach the hearts of women providing them with hope and healing.

9. Where can we find you online and purchase the book?

Books are available through my website, www.womengetreal.org and on Amazon. It is also being sold at many boutique stores in Connecticut.


Review:

A Book for Mothers to Share With Their Daughters

We all want the best for our children and that includes living the way God wants us to live. In today's rushed world, it's sometimes hard to find either the time or the words for mothers to talk to their daughters about moral issues and life lessons. All Mascara is Not Created Equal is an opportunity to open the discussion with a beautiful book.

The book intersperses humerus tips like the idea the movie star's mascara is different, to practical tips like be an informed voter, to religious tips like listen to God; he's pretty wise. The book is worth reading from cover to cover then selecting topics to discuss with your daughter. It's a beautiful gift to give your child.

This book will be featured on a Blog Tour from March 23-27. For more information see #WomenGetRealBlogTour .


I reviewed this book for PR by the Book.




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Meet Michael Kechula Multi-Published Micro Fiction Author




Michael Kechula is a prize-winning multi-published author of flash or micro-fiction. His recently published book MICRO FICTION: Writing 100-Word Stories (Drabbles) For Magazines and Contests---A Self-Study Tutorial) is available from BooksForABuck.com.





Writing micro-fiction is a way to get published without the substantial commitment of writing a novel. Since Michael has been successful at it, I asked him to give us some background on how he got started as well as some tips for authors who want to try this genre.


Interview:

 
NANCY:   You write short fiction. Could you describe the different kinds? Do you have a favorite?


MIKE:  I write flash fiction and micro-fiction.  Flash fiction is a literary form in which a complete story is told in 1,000 words or less.  Micro-fiction is another literary form in which a complete story is told in 200 words or less.  One form of micro-fiction that’s popular today is the drabble, which is a complete story in exactly 100 words, not counting the title. I’ve written more flash fiction tales than micro-fiction tales, so I suppose that’s my favorite way of storytelling.

 
NANCY:  How did you get started writing short fiction?


MIKE:  About 13 years ago, I was browsing books on writing at Barnes and Noble, and I ran across a title that included the words, “Flash Fiction.”  I’d never heard of that, so I browsed the book and bought it.  However, I should have left it on the shelf, because it turned out to be mostly an academic discussion on trying to determine what flash fiction is, or should be.  The book included a few stories, which I thought were mediocre at best, as they had no plots and were just a collection of words that didn’t exceed 1,000 word count.

Feeling intuitively that flash fiction might have more to it than what I’d read in the book, I checked the internet for more information.  That led me to a Yahoo writing group, “FLASHXER” which was short for Flash Fiction Exercise Writing Group.  I joined the group, read some of the stories posted, then tried to write my own.  I was a complete failure at developing flash fiction.  Members of FLASHXER kept sending me critiques saying my stories were dull and mundane.  For some reason, I just couldn’t get the hang of writing flash.

The day I decided to forget flash fiction forever, the moderator of FLASHXER issued a new prompt.  I read it and thought maybe I’d give flash one more try, and if I failed, that would definitely be the end of my flirtation with writing  stories of so few words.
 
I recall that day very well, because I was in a do or die mood.  Raising my hands over the keyboard, I kept them in mid air, waiting for an inspiration.  To visualize what I might have looked like at that moment, think of a concert pianist who is about to perform a famous classical work with a symphony orchestra.  In about 30 seconds, he will begin his performance, so his hands are raised over the keys with his fingers ready to strike.

While my hands were raised over the keyboard, these words suddenly popped into my head:  “Martian spaghetti, $39.50 a plate.”  I can’t tell you where those words came from, especially since they sounded like something out a wild sci-fi tale--- and I wasn’t a sci-fi fan.  Nevertheless, the words of an intriguing opener came to mind,  and I started typing.  An hour later, I had written a nutty flash fiction tale of 960 words.   I spent a bit of time polishing my creation, then submitted it to FLASHXER.  Within an hour, hoorays filled my screen from everyone who critiqued my tale, which I called, “39.50 A Plate.”   Unbelievable!  I’d created a story that my peers found funny, enjoyable, creative, entertaining.  One reviewer said I should send it immediately to Alien Skin Magazine. 

I took the reviewer’s advice and submitted it to the magazine with some trepidation.  After all, just a few hours earlier I was a total failure when it came to creating a flash fiction story of any genre that anybody would care to read.   Now, I was actually submitting a flash tale to a magazine that tended to be quite fussy about what they accepted.  To my amazement,  the Alien Skin editor accepted the story a few hours later.   Thus, my first flash fiction tale had been written, accepted by my peers, and then accepted for publication in an online magazine, all within 10 hours.
Ever since then, I’ve had no problem coming up with story concepts and developing them.  As of February 2015, my flash and micro-fiction tales have been published in 157 magazines and 55 anthologies in 8 countries.  I’ve been lucky enough to have won 20 flash and micro contests:  1st prize in 12 and 2nd prize in 8 others.  I’ve won 4 Editor’s Choice awards.  Four collections of my previously published and prize-winning tales have been published as eBooks and Paperbacks.   These collections contain a total of 266 flash and micro-fiction stories.   One of my flash tales was nominated by Gemini Magazine for a Pushcart Literary Prize.  Didn’t win, but never expected my work to be nominated for any prize. 

In addition to the 4 books, I’ve written 2 self-study books that teach how to write flash fiction and micro-fiction.  The titles of these books are: “Writing Genre Flash Fiction The Minimalist Way---A Self-Study Book” and “MICRO FICTION:  Writing 100-Word Stories (Drabbles) for Magazines and Contests---A Self-Study Tutorial.”  

      
NANCY:  What are the publishing opportunities in short fiction?


MIKE:  Hundreds of online and print magazines around the world clamor for genre flash and mirco-fiction stories every month.   A lesser number seeks micro-fiction tales, especially in the drabble format.  Dozens of magazines issue submission calls  for literary flash and micro-fiction tales every month.

In addition, numerous contests are announced for flash and micro-fiction tales every month.   Most tend to seek genre fiction works.

 
NANCY:  What advice can you give to someone who wants to get started writing short fiction?

 
MIKE:  Here are some points to consider:
 
1)    Decide if you want to develop a genre fiction or literary fiction work.  If you aren’t sure of the difference, consider this:  literary works tend to be lyrical, focus on characters, and have little or no plot.  In contrast, genre works are considered the opposite of literary drabbles, because they don’t focus on characters. Instead, they focus on events, plus they have developed plots.  By events, I mean the noteworthy things that happen in a story. For example, if you’re telling about a man who’s on his way to a bank to rob it, you’ll probably focus on what happens when he arrives. You wouldn’t expend words describing his motivations, what he wore, and the color of his hair. Instead, you’d establish the fact that someone wanted to rob a bank, tell what happened when he arrived at the bank, and if he succeeded or not.
 
2)    If you decide to try your hand at genre fiction, try to be a storyteller first and writer second.  If you’re not sure how to develop your flash or micro tale as a storyteller, consider writing the story using the same words you’d use when telling it to a friend over coffee. For example, suppose you want to tell your friend about a party you went to last night. Would you tell him like this? “I went to a great party last night while the stars shone brightly in the sky and the moon gave off just enough light to give the ground a wondrous, silvery patina.” Or would you say this? “I went to a great party last night.”

Hopefully, you’d use the words shown in the second example. That’s the storyteller’s way of relating a story, while the first sentence is the writer’s artful way of embellishing a sentence with lots of visuals. You can’t help but notice the startling differences between the two.

3)    Another thing to consider:  you aren’t writing a novel or short story.  Techniques you may have learned that work very well in developing novels and short stories usually don’t work when writing very short fiction.  For example, in novels and short stories authors always include first and last names.  We don’t do that in flash or micro, because it wastes one word count each time.  This brings up the idea of always having word economy in mind when developing your story.  For most people, this is the greatest challenge they face when attempting to write flash and micro-fiction.

4)    Consider adapting a minimalist approach to writing flash or micro.  Here are the objectives I’ve developed for minimalist authors:  to tell as much story as possible, in as few words as possible, without sacrificing a smooth read.  If you can do this, you may find yourself getting published quickly and continuously.
   
5)    Edit your drafts ruthlessly.
     
Many more techniques are involved.  All are thoroughly covered in my self-study books that teach and drill readers on the flash and micro-fiction development process.  

  
NANCY:   What are you working on now?


MIKE:  I just completed the final edit on my latest collection of flash tales.  This new book is called, “Revenge Day and Other Tales of Crime and Espionage.”  I expect it will be published as an eBook and paperback in June, 2015.

 
NANCY:   Do you have any other points you'd like to share about this area?


MIKE:   Yes.  I’ve found that stories of any genre can be told via the flash or micro format.  For example, I’ve written light sci-fi, various subgenres of fantasy, horror, romance, crime, and espionage tales over the years. 
  
Don’t choose a concept that is too ambitious for flash or micro.  If your concept will require more than 4 scenes, it probably won’t work effectively if presented in the flash or micro format.

Try to use dialog as much as possible. Dialog uses far less words than narrative.
Include an opener that will grab reader’s attention and make them want to read more.
Tell instead of show.  Showing burns excessive word count.

Remember to use word economy at all times.

Edit your work ruthlessly, but not to such an extent that the read becomes choppy.
Read your first draft aloud and record it.  Play the recording several times.  You’ll notice sentences that can be smoother, especially those containing dialog.

Thanks, Nancy, for the opportunity to tell my story. 


Review: 

Write Publishable Drabbles

Crafting a Drabble is different from writing a novel or creative non-fiction. At 100 words, each word must count. Flowery description, body movements, or the weather use unnecessary words. Kechula, a multi-published micro fiction author and editor, shares his techniques in this self-study guide.

Efficiently telling a story in 100 words is the key to writing a Drabble. The chapters present methods for eliminating words and writing clear sentences. Topics include: tell don't show, hook the reader, and add a twist. Kechula includes his published micro fiction to illustrate the ideas. Questions follow the text to allow the reader to practice. The answers are given at the end of each chapter. A final series of 165 practice questions allows you to test your ability to understand and apply the concepts.

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in writing micro fiction and taking advantage of the opportunities for publication in contests and on-line and print magazines. Although Kechula's book is a comprehensive guide to writing micro fiction, it does not guarantee you will be published. Telling a good story is key, but if you have a story, this book will help you hone your technique.

 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meet Kyle Prue Author of "The Sparks"

The Author:

Kyle Prue is a seventeen-year-old high school student. In an interview, he discusses some of the reasons he decided to write The Sparks, the first book in the Feud trilogy. This post is part of a blogbook tour. You can find more information by following the tour at #TheSparksBlogTour.


Interview:

  1. Where did you get the idea for the Feud series?

This is a coming of age story for young adults and I am a teen in that demographic. Everyone struggles to find their path in life and my characters are all struggling with not wanting to let people down and to find their way; forgiveness and hope is a part of that journey as well. One night, at the age of 15, I had terrible insomnia and I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about the different personalities of my siblings and myself and how we will all follow different paths. That gave me the idea to create three different families loosely based around our differing personalities. I decided it would be fun to take these families and place them in a fantasy world where the obstacles we all face could be magnified to a whole new level. I wrote out the plot for the three books that night.

  1. What drew you to write YA Fantasy?

I wanted to write for me. Recently, I’ve hit an “in-between” zone where it’s harder for me to find books I want to read. I wanted to write something that I would want to read and that would appeal to other kids my age. I wanted to appeal to boys who have lost interest in reading and I also created strong female characters that girls will love.

  1. When did you first start writing?

Like a lot of kids, I was bullied in middle school. I doubt you will ever find a kid that says, “I rocked 7th grade! That was the best time in my life.” I was short and fat and had a bowl haircut with braces. This was not a great time in my life. But I discovered I could come home and pick up a pen and create a whole fantasy world that I could control, when the rest of my life felt out of control. I learned that I loved to create characters because their potential is limitless.

I was lucky because I learned to use writing as an escape at an early age. I was in a multi-age program from 1st-3rd grade where I had the same teacher for three years. She had an experimental writing program where she gave us an hour a day to write in our journals. She told us to just write freely and not worry about punctuation or grammar, just let the creativity flow. So by the end of that program, I had a stack of notebooks filled with an adventure series. I also did a series called Three Rings that I wrote from the age of 12 to 14 when middle school was really rough. It was a 200-page manuscript. It wasn’t good, but it was good practice.


  1. What are your other interests besides writing?

I love stand up comedy because like writing, it requires an ability to look at the world in a unique way and find the humor in that. I’m a varsity swimmer for my school. I’m involved with mock trial, I’m in a number of plays every year, I started an improv club at my school and I’m really involved with our film club—we spend our weekends writing scripts and filming. We are currently working on a web series called “Amockalypse” that I’m really excited about. I pretty much gave up on sleeping after middle school.

  1. When do you find the time to write?

If you love something, you find the time. I write during any hour that I can get free. With extracurriculars, I don’t usually get home until around 7:00 p.m. or later, and then I have homework, so I may only write an hour or two during the week. I try to make time to write during the weekends and breaks—I get the most writing done in the summer. I started the second book in the trilogy, The Flames, this past summer and am working on editing it over this school year.

  1. Where is your favorite place to write?

I’ve usually got a notebook or computer on hand so any time I feel even the slightest bit inspired I can write. I am a big fan of writing in bookstores—it’s an interesting feeling to be surrounded by the works of people who have achieved what you are trying to accomplish.

  1. What is your family like?

My family is nothing like the families in the book, I better clarify that up front. My parents are incredibly supportive and have allowed me to follow my dreams. I have two siblings: a brother and a sister. They are great; we are very close. I am the youngest.

My brother and I used to fight a lot and that dynamic inspired my idea for the three feuding families in the books. We don’t fight anymore, as we’ve outgrown that phase, but it gave me plenty to write about.

  1. What were you like as a child?

I lived in a fantasy world all the time—I was always inventing stories and reenacting them. I lived in costumes. I had a cat suit that I particularly loved. My mom would always get me a new costume for Halloween and inevitably I would end up back in my cat suit when it was time to go trick-or-treating. I wore that cat suit until the legs only came to my knees. It’s weird…for some reason when you dress like a cat all the time you don’t make a ton of friends. But anyway, that’s why my parents signed me up for acting classes. I started taking acting classes at the age of six. I loved it from the start.

Currently, my whole focus is on college auditions. I’m crazy enough to be applying for programs where thousands of kids audition and they literally accept only six boys. So it’s kind of like trying to win the lottery, but I’m giving it my best shot. As I mentioned, I’m writing, directing and acting in my web series and we are launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund that this week. I spent last fall in LA and I was so lucky to take acting classes and perform improv at LA Connection. It was like what I imagine grad school is like. I spent 40 hours a week in acting classes and seminars—and still had to keep up with schoolwork online. It was intense but amazing.


Tell us where we can find your book and more information about you.

You can find more info on my website, www.kyleprue.com, Facebook www.facebook.com/kyleprue, Twitter @KylePrue and Instagram @KyleStevenPrue.


Review: 

A Fast Paced Fantasy Adventure

Neil Vapros, a member of the powerful Vapros family, wants to be an assassin to impress his father. He is assigned to kill the grandfather, titular head of the Taurlum clan. Once in the Taurlum mansion, he looks for the grandfather, but instead runs into two young Tarulum brothers, Darius and Michael. They give chase and Neil is barely able to escape.

The three primary families of Altryon: Vapros, Taurlum, and Celerium, have been given special powers designed to help protect the city from the dangers of the world outside the city walls, but for years they have been fighting each other using their powers to kill each other. Now there is a powerful emperor, but instead of fostering peace among the families, he appears to be encouraging the feud.

Young adults, teens and preteens, should enjoy this book. It's filled with action, battles, and magical encounters where young people fight to protect their families. The book focuses on plot and action and does it well. However, there is little character development. Neil does grow as he faces the forces arrayed against him, but the other characters remain static.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys fast paced action with a touch of magic.


Published on Nancy Famolari's Authorspotlight (http://nancyfamolari.blgspot.com)


Purchasing the Book:


There is a special discount code for readers who want to purchase The Sparks. They can purchase the book from Kyle Prue’s store on his official website (linked). The code ‘BLOG25’ will get them 25% off an autographed copy, signed by Kyle Prue! NOTE: This code will not work on purchases made on Amazon. 
  




PRESS CONTACT
Ashley Lauretta | PR by the Book
512-481-7728 | ashley@prbythebook.com






Sunday, February 15, 2015

Great Grammar Equals Great Literature?

Grammar is important when writing a novel, or even a business letter, but does it equal great literature? The Grammarly team (grammarly.com/grammar-check) has done some interesting research. You can view it here: Fifty Shades of Grammar . While good even excellent grammar is important there are some instances in which rules can be broken. Missing commas, wordiness, colloquialisms, accidentally confused words, sentence fragments, and other grammar mistakes don't necessarily doom your work to oblivion. The key is knowing when to avoid mistakes and when to bend the rules.

Grammar rules can and sometimes should be ignored in dialog. People don't speak using perfect grammar. Dialog is a way to distinguish the speech patterns of your characters and make them come alive. Some of the most boring books I've read have been written by authors using the same good grammar in dialog as in the rest of the novel.

Another exception is poetry. The flow of the words sometimes doesn't lend itself to good grammar. The example from the Grammarly study of Shakespeare's use of a preposition in the Tempest is an excellent example. Some memorable quotes ignore the rules of good grammar and produce a masterpiece.

Grammar and the expectations of the reader have changed over the years. While readers of Jane Austen were comfortable with the passive voice, modern readers are more interested in action. Authors sometimes write in the present tense to give the writing more immediacy. People still read and enjoy Austen because of her insights into personality. The passive voice does not deter them.


While grammar is important and knowing the rules facilitates good writing. It's also important to know when rules can be broken. Even more important than grammar is having a good story to tell. Readers are willing to put up with a great deal if you entertain them. Story comes first. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Words Count

I recently review Michael Kechula's new book, “Writing 100-Word Stories (Drabbles) for Magazines and Contests – A Self Study Tutorial.” Reading this book reminded me of the importance of words. In Drabbles, word count is key, but to keep withing the 100 word limit, each word must count. There is no spare space to use adjectives or adverbs to modify a noun or verb that is almost but not quite perfect.

In novels and short stories, word count is less important, but finding the right word to enhance the story is still desirable. When you're writing longer fiction, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking a long paragraph of description does the job a single perfect word would accomplish in less space.

While many writers don't want to write short fiction of 100 words or less. It's still important to realize that the perfect word can enhance the reader's appreciation of the description. Many readers are not interested in plowing through pages of description when a few well chosen words would do the job.

Another aspect of finding the right word is eliminating unnecessary words. Unnecessary words include the adjectives and adverbs used to modify nouns and verbs that are almost perfect. An example is using 'really' to modify what you're proposing. It's a word that may make you feel better because you're trying to communicate the way you 'really' feel, but the strong words in the sentence should accomplish that without help.

Even if you're not interested in writing short fiction, I recommend Michael's book. The 165 exercises at the end will give you practice in eliminating unnecessary words and make you think about what you are trying to say.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Meet Bradford Wheler - Author of Inca's Death Cave

Blurb:

A 500-year-old puzzle catapults an archaeology professor and his brilliant grad student into the adventure of a lifetime in INCA’S DEATH CAVE, a new mystery thriller from author Bradford G. Wheler.

What happened to a band of Inca rebels who journeyed north in Peru to seek the fabled cave of the true gods – and escape the disease and destruction brought by Spanish conquistadors? They were never heard from again. Did they just melt back into their villages or was something more sinister involved? What trace or treasure did they leave behind?

The ingenious plot of this thriller is full of twists and turns, excitement and adventure, archaeology and technology. Readers will meet fascinating characters they’ll never forget: a high-tech billionaire, a quick-witted professor, his beautiful young student, and her still-tough grandfather, a retired Marine gunny sergeant.

Cornell University professor Robert Johnson and his star PhD student are hired by a billionaire entrepreneur to solve a 500-year-old archaeology mystery in northern Peru. But first, they will have to survive corporate skullduggery and drug-lord thuggery. And why, 6,700 miles away in Vatican City, is the old guard so upset? What dark secrets could centuries-old manuscripts hold?


Intreview:


1) What originally inspired you to get into writing?

In my business career all my writing was business related, proposal, contracts, and other business documents. When I sold my business and wanted to do something different, I took my collection of a couple thousand quotations that I’d written on 3” by 5” cards and created the book “SNAPPY SAYINGS wit & wisdom from the world’s greatest minds.”

Next I decided to invite artists to submit images from their artwork for the next books. From this came my art themed quotation books “DOG SAYINGS wit & wisdom from man’s best friend”, “HORSE SAYINGS wit & wisdom straight from the horse’s mouth”, CAT SAYINGS wit and wisdom from the whiskered ones” and, “GOLF SAYINGS wit & wisdom of a good walk spoiled.” Each book features the artwork of over 50 artists from around the world.

I’d been thinking about writing a novel and with my wife’s encouragement, I decided to write INCA’S DEATH CAVE An Archaeological Mystery Thriller.


2) Where did the idea for Inca's Death Cave come from?

I had a general idea of the plot line. I knew I wanted the setting to be in Central or South America. However, I didn’t know exactly where or if it would involve ancient Aztec, Mayan, or Incan culture. As I researched, Peru and the Incas seemed to best fit the story I had in mind.


3) Was there any particular character that you liked or felt able to relate to?

I liked aspects of most of the characters. There are several of the characters that, if they existed in real life, I believe I would enjoy meeting.

4) Was there any particular character that you dislike?

I would find it hard to like Dr. Lois Stone.

5) Were there any scenes in particular that were hard or easy to write?

I found if I could visualize the scenes in my mind it was easy to write. When I was having a hard time with a scene I would take a walk or even a nap and let the scene develop in my mind.

On one walk my wife said. “You look lost in your thoughts.”

I answered. “I’m not lost, I’m in a cave in Peru.”

6) Did you draw on any personal knowledge or experience for this book?

I guess I drew on all the knowledge and experience of my life. I would watch how different people would behave in different situations and how they would talk and interact with the others. I also did lots of reading and research to try and properly represent the history and technology.

7) Have any of your characters been inspired by real people?

Yes, parts of each character have traits that I’ve seen in real people. However there is no one character that is identical to a real person I know.

8) Are there any particular authors or books that have inspired you?

There are so many, I’m not sure I can make a full list. I’ve read many of the classics. I enjoy the writing of Wilbur Smith for the way he is able to paint the scenery of Africa. I like George MacDonald Fraser books because they have such great characters. Robert Crais and Robert B. Parker have snappy dialog that make their books fun to read. I love Mark Twain’s wit. I like Walter Mosley. His books that are set in Watts in the 1950s and 1960s are a great insight into a part of American culture many of us are not exposed to. I also read David Baldacci, Kingsley Amis, Carl Hiaasen, Janet Evanovich, Ken Follett, Clive Cussler and many more.

9) Do you have any future books planned?

Oh yes. I’m working on the next of my art themed quotation books. This one will be “LOVE SAYINGS wit & wisdom from romance, courtship and marriage.” It will feature artwork form about 50 artists paired with quotations. It will be the sixth book in the popular wit & wisdom series. I hope to publish in January 2015.

Then Professor Rob Johnson and Abbey Summers will be off to a new part of the world for a new adventure. Hopefully it will publish in the fall of 2015.


About the Author:

BRADFORD G. WHELER is the former CEO, President and Co-owner of Allan Electric Company. He sold Allan Electric to a New York Stock Exchange listed company.
Brad’s lifelong love of history, art, books, and the inherent humor in man’s nature led to the founding of BookCollaborative.com and the publishing of Inca’s Death Cave as well as GOLF SAYINGS: wit & wisdom of a good walk spoiled, CAT SAYINGS: wit & wisdom from the whiskered ones, and four other books.
His community involvements include being a Trustee of Community General Hospital in Hamilton, NY, and chairing their Finance Committee. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Cazenovia College.
Brad played polo on Cornell University’s men’s polo team for four years and was a member of the Cazenovia Polo Club. In 2012 he was inducted into the Manlius Pebble Hill Athletic Hall of Fame.
He holds a BS and ME in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University as well as an MBA degree from Fordham University.
Brad, his wife, Julie, and their golden retriever Quincy live in Cazenovia, NY and Fort Pierce, FL.

Review by Nancy Famolari:

High Tech and Archeology

Professor Johnson and his graduate student, Abby, are asked by Walter Falcone to come to Peru to investigate legends of an Inca Death Cave. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity and the adventure of a lifetime. They agree and setup their base for a year at the Falcone ranch in Peru. 

Walter promised them a team and while the team calls themselves “The Rejects,” the young people are bright, technologically competent, and able to put high tech to good use to find and explore the Death Cave. 

I have mixed feeling about this book. The plot is great, the information, first class, and the characters interesting. The problem is that this is a fiction book. The dialog is poor. In the opening chapters, Abby and the Professor call each other by their names in almost every piece of dialog. People just don't talk this way. In addition, the dialog, particularly in the opening chapters is almost all data dump. Luckily this data is interesting or I would have put the book down immediately. 

The other problem is that the project team is too good to be true. All the team members are bright. They help each other, and Professor Johnson is everyone's favorite boss. While this isn't totally unrealistic, it sounds a lot like Shangrila to those of us who have managed projects. 

I would have given this novel five stars, but the writing so amateurish that I have to go with four. If you are interested in archeology, you'll enjoy this book. If you want a well written novel, this isn't it. 

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.


Books Available From: 

Autographed copies of INCA’S DEATH CAVE and past works from BookCollaborative.com may be purchased at a discount through visiting the website www.BookCollaborative.com. The book is also available in ebook and audio book form.






Monday, November 17, 2014

The Tree of Water -- A YA Fantasy Adventure

Excerpt



To Go, or Not to Go
The human boys had an expression back in the faraway city of Vaarn where I was born. It went
like this:
Curiosity killed the cat
Satisfaction brought him back
I am a curious person. I was just as curious back in my early days in Vaarn as I am now,
perhaps even more so, because my curiosity had not yet been given a chance to be satisfied.
The first time I heard this expression, I was very excited. I thought it meant that my curiosity
could make me feel like I was dying, but it would let up if I discovered the answer to whatever
was making me curious.
I told my mother about the rhyme. She was not impressed. In fact, she looked at me as if I had
just set my own hair on fire on purpose. She patted my chin, which was woefully free of any sign
of the beard that should have been growing there.
“That’s very nice,” she said, returning to her chores. “But just in case nobody told you, you are
not a cat, Ven. Unlike you, cats have whiskers.”
My pride stung for days afterward.
But it didn’t stop my curiosity from growing as fast as my beard should have been.
My name is Charles Magnus Ven Polypheme, Ven for short. Unlike the human boys in Vaarn, I
am of the race of the Nain. Nain are somewhat shorter than humans, and grumpier. They live
almost four times as long as humans, and tend to be much less curious, and much less
adventurous. They hate to travel, don’t swim, and generally do not like other people. Especially
those who are not Nain.
I clearly am not a good example of my race.
First, I am very tall for a Nain, sixty-eight Knuckles high when I was last measured on the
morning of my fiftieth birthday. I’ve already mentioned my uncontrollable curiosity, which
brings along with it a desire for adventure. I have been blessed, or cursed, with quite a lot of that
recently.
But as for the curiosity, while I’ve had a lot of satisfaction for the questions it has asked me, it
doesn’t seem to matter. As soon as one burning question is answered, another one springs to
mind immediately. As a result, I am frequently in trouble.
So now I am about to lay my head on a chopping block, on purpose, and a man with a very sharp
knife is standing over me, ready to make slashes in my neck.
I’m wondering if in fact instead of being a live Nain, I am about to end up as a dead, formerly
curious cat.Because now I have three whiskers of my own.
Ven Polypheme had two sets of eyes staring at him.
One set was black as coal. The other was green as the sea.
Neither of them looked happy.
The green eyes were floating, along with a nose, forehead, and hair on which a red cap
embroidered with pearls sat, just above the surface of the water beneath the old abandoned dock.
The brows above the eyes were drawn together. They looked annoyed.
The black ones were in the middle of the face of his best friend, Char, who stood beside him on
the dock. They looked anxious.
In the distance a bell began to toll. Ven looked to his left at the docks of the fishing village to the
south of them, where work had begun hours ago. Then he looked behind him. The sleepy town of
Kingston in the distance was just beginning to wake up.
Ven looked back down into the water.
“Come on, Amariel,” he said to the floating eyes. “I can’t really go off into the sea without him.”
A glorious tail of colorful scales emerged from below the surface, splashing both boys with cold
salt water.
“Why not?” a girl’s voice demanded from the waves. “He’s a pest. And he isn’t nice to me.”
Char’s black eyes widened.
“I—I’m sorry ’bout that,” he stammered. “When I first met you, Ven didn’t tell me you were a
mermaid—” He shivered as another splash drenched him again. “Er, I mean merrow. I’m sorry if
I made you mad.”
“Hmmph.”
“Please let him come,” Ven said. “Captain Snodgrass gave him orders to keep an eye on me. So
if I’m going to explore the sea with you, he kinda has to come along.”
Char nodded. “Cap’n’s orders.”
“He’s not my captain,” said the merrow. “I don’t take orders from humans. You know better,
Ven. My mother will fillet me if she finds out I’m traveling with a human male. Especially if we
are going to go exploring. There are very clear rules about not showing humans around the
wonders of the Deep. And besides, it’s dangerous. You have no idea how many sea creatures
think humans are tasty. I don’t want to get chomped on by mistake.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Ven watched Char’s face go white.
“We’ll be careful,” he promised. “Char will be on his best behavior.”
“I’ve seen his best behavior. I’m not impressed.”
“Look,” Char said. “If you get sick of me, you can always cover me with fish guts and toss me
out as shark bait.”
The merrow stared coldly at him. “Oh, all right,” she said finally. “But remember, there’s a reason they call bait for sharks chum.
‘Chum’ is another word for ‘friend.’” Her eyes stayed locked on Char. “And if you make a
bunch of sharks angry, Chum—”
“I’ll be chum,” Char said. “Got it.”
“So if you’re coming, we have to find a fisherman named Asa with a red-bottomed boat.”
Amariel pointed south to one of the far docks. “He’ll cut your gills, and we can get going.”
Both boys grabbed their necks.
The merrow rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on. Do you want to be able to breathe underwater or not?
Gills are the only way I know of to do that. I’m tired of waiting. Decide whether you’re coming
or whether I’m leaving.”
“We’re coming,” Ven said as he let go of his neck. “Sorry—it’s just instinct. Let’s go.”
Char nodded, but did not remove his hands.
The merrow disappeared below the surface of the water.
The two boys hurried south over the packed sand along the shore.
“Ya know, it’s not too late to change your mind, Ven,” Char muttered. “We could get a boat or
somethin’, and follow her out to sea, like we did when we were chasing the Floatin’ Island, and
then dive down to see whatever she wants to show us—”
“You can stay on shore if you want to, Char,” Ven said, trying to see the merrow in between the
waves. “But I promised her a long time ago that I would explore her world with her. It’s now or
never.”
“Have it your way,” Char said gloomily. “You always do anyway.”
They followed the pebbly path in the sand south until the fishing village came into sight. Several
long piers led out into the harbor, with docks along each of them. Small boats lined the docks. At
each boat fishermen were hauling nets filled with flapping fish and cages with crabs and lobsters
onto the piers. Seagulls flew in great wide circles above, screeching and crying, then diving for
food.
“So how did she happen to find this Asa, and how does she know he won’t just cut our throats?”
Char asked as they picked their way among barrels and pieces of rope on the slats of the pier.
Ven shrugged. “No idea. But sailors and merrows have a pretty good connection.” He pointed
about halfway down the pier, where a small green fishing boat with a red bottom bobbed lazily in
the morning tide. A wrinkled man in a wrinkled hat sat on a barrel at the edge of the dock,
cleaning his morning catch of fish. “Could that be him?”
Char squinted. “I guess so.”
“Come on. We may as well ask. If it’s not Asa, he probably knows where to find him. Fishermen
all know each other.”
The two boys walked along the pier, stepping out of the way of men dragging lobster traps and
heavy netting, until they got to the red-bottomed boat. They stopped behind the elderly
fisherman, who did not seem to notice they were there.
Ven coughed politely.
“Excuse me, sir—are you Asa?” The fisherman looked up from his work, his sky-blue eyes twinkling in the sun.
“Who’s askin’?”
“Er, my name is Ven, sir. I was told I might find a fisherman at this dock who could, uh, cut
gills.”
The wrinkly man nodded. “Well, Ven, you’ve found ’im. But I can’t say as I’ve heard of any
recent wrecks.”
Ven blinked. “Pardon?”
“Shipwrecks,” said the fisherman. “That’s the only reason I know of for a man to risk a slice in
his neck—to salvage the treasure from the bones of a shipwreck.”
“Oh.” Ven and Char exchanged a glance, then looked off the edge of the dock.
In the water behind the boat, the beautiful tail of multicolored scales was waving at them from
beneath the surface.
“Uh, we weren’t really planning to dive for treasure,” Ven continued, trying to block the sight of
the merrow’s tail. “We just want to do some exploring.”
The fisherman’s eyebrows arched.
“The sea’s no place to explore without a good reason, lads,” he said seriously. “Lots of bad stuff
down there—believe you me. The only reason a man takes his life into his hands on a daily basis
by going out there is to make a living for his family. Otherwise, we’d farm the land.” The blue
eyes twinkled. “If we knew how.”
“Well, we’d really like to have gills, nonetheless,” Ven said. “We’ve been told you know how to,
er, cut them without too much pain—and safely. Is that true?”
Asa exhaled, then nodded.
“I suppose that depends on how much is too much where pain is concerned,” he said. “That’s
really up to you. It’s not my business what you’re doing. We mind our own business on the sea.
If you want gills, and you’re willing to take the risk, I can cut ’em for you right quick.” He held
up a thin silver filleting knife. “Then I have to get back to cleaning my catch. So, what’ll it be?
Make haste, now.”
Char and Ven looked at each other once more, then nodded at the same time.
“We’re in,” said Char.
“All right then,” said Asa. He reached into the boat and took hold of the top of a small sea chest
that held his tackle. He slammed it closed and put it on the dock in front of them. “Kneel down
and put your heads on this chest, your left ears down.”
The boys obeyed.
“Well, ’s been good to know you,” Char whispered as they positioned their heads on the chest.
“Shhh,” Ven whispered back. “We’re not being executed, for pity’s sake.”
“You hope we’re not. You never know.”
Asa wiped the filleting knife on his trousers, then came and stood over Ven.
“Hold very still, now.” Char winced and put his hand over his eyes.
Ven started to close his eyes as well.
Suddenly, from the end of the dock near town, a bright flash of rainbow-colored light blinded
him.
And the world seemed to stop around him.
Copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Haydon

Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Brandon Dorman



Interview with Elizabeth Haydon, 
documentarian, archanologist and translator of Ven’s 
journals, including The Tree of Water

Little is known for sure about reclusive documentarian and archanologist Elizabeth
Haydon.
She is an expert in dead languages and holds advanced degrees in Nain Studies from
Arcana College and Lirin History from the University of Rigamarole. Her fluency in those
languages [Nain and Lirin] has led some to speculate that she may be descended of one
of those races herself. It should be noted that no one knows this for sure.
Being an archanologist, she is also an expert in ancient magic because, well, that’s what
an archanologist is.
Being a documentarian means she works with old maps, books and manuscripts, and so
it is believed that her house is very dusty and smells like ink, but there is no actual proof
of this suspicion. On the rare occasions of sightings of Ms. Haydon, it has been reported
that she herself has smelled like lemonade, soap, vinegar, freshly-washed babies and
pine cones.
She is currently translating and compiling the fifth of the recently-discovered Lost
Journals when she is not napping, or attempting to break the world’s record for the
longest braid of dental floss.
We had the chance to ask her some questions about the latest of Ven’s journals, The
Tree of Water. Here is what she shared.

1. Dr. Haydon, can you give us a brief summary of The Tree of Water?
Certainly. Ven Polypheme, who wrote the, er, Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme,
lived long ago in the Second Age of history, when magic was much more alive
and visible in the world than it is now. His journals are very important finds,
because they tell the story of ancient magic and where it still may be found in the
world today.
In the first three journals we saw how Ven came to the mystical island of
Serendair and was given the job of Royal Reporter by the king of the island, a
young man named Vandemere. The Royal Reporter was supposed to find magic
that was hiding in plain sight in the world and report back about it to the king. As
you can imagine, this could be a fun but dangerous job, and at the beginning of The Tree of Water, we see that Ven and his friends are hiding from the evil Thief
Queen, who is looking to find and kill him.
Amariel, a merrow [humans call these ‘mermaids,’ but we know that’s the wrong
word] who saved Ven when the first ship he sailed on sank, has been asking Ven
to come and explore the wonders of the Deep, her world in the sea. Deciding that
this could be a great way to find hidden magic as well as hide from the evil Thief
Queen, Ven and his best friend, Char, follow her into the Deep. The sea, as you
know, is one of the most magical places in the world—but sometimes that magic,
and that place, can be deadly.
The book tells of mysterious places, and interesting creatures, and wondrous
things that have never been seen in the dry world, and tales from the very bottom
of the sea.

2. The main character in The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series is
Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme. Tell us about him.
Ven was an interesting person, but he really didn’t think so. He and his family
were of a different race than the humans who made up most of the population
where he lived, the race of the Nain. Nain are an old race, a little shorter and
stockier than most humans, with a tendency to be on the grumpy side. They live
about four times as long as humans, are very proud of their beards, which they
believe tell their life stories, don’t like to swim or travel, and prefer to live deep in
the mountains.
Ven was nothing like the majority of Nain. He was very curious, loved to travel,
could swim, and longed to see the world. He was actually a pretty nice kid most
of the time. He had the equivalent of a baby face because only three whiskers of
his beard had grown in by the time The Tree of Water took place, when he was
fifty years old [around twelve in Nain years]. He had a great group of friends,
including the merrow and Char, who were mentioned earlier. It is believed that
his journals were the original research documents for two of the most important
books of all time, The Book of All Human Knowledge and All the World’s Magic.
The only copies of these two volumes were lost at sea centuries ago, so finding
the Lost Journals is the only way to recover this important information.

3. What kind of research do you do for the series?
I go to places where Ven went and try to find relics he left behind. Usually this is
with an expedition of archaeologists and historians. I am an expert in ancient
magic [an archanologist] so I don’t usually lead the expeditions, I’m just a
consultant. It gives me the chance to learn a lot about magic and lets me work on
my suntan at the same time, so it’s good.

4. What is/are the most difficult part or parts of writing/restoring the Lost
Journals? Here’s the list, mostly from the archaeological digs where the journals have been
found:
1] Cannibals
2] Crocodiles
3] Sunburn
4] Sand flies
5] Dry, easily cracking parchment pages
6] The horrible smell of long-dead seaweed
7] Grumpy members of the archaeological expedition [I could name names, but I
won’t]
8] Expedition food [when finding and retrieving the journal for The Tree of Water,
we ate nothing but peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives and yellow tea for
six months straight]
9] When salt water gets into your favorite fountain pen and clogs it up. This is
very sad.
10] Unintentionally misspelling a word in the Nain language that turns out to be
embarrassing [the word for “jelly” is one letter different from the word for
“diarrhea,” which caused a number of my Nain friends to ask me what on earth I
thought Ven was spreading on his toast.]

5. What do you enjoy about this series that cannot be found in any of your
other books?
Getting to write about a lot of cool magic stuff that used to exist in our world, but
doesn’t anymore. And getting to travel to interesting places in the world to see if
maybe some of it still does exist. Also getting to show the difference between
merrows, which are real, interesting creatures, and mermaids, which are just
silly.

6. What do you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope, in general, that it will open their eyes to the wonder of the sea, which
takes up the majority of our planet, but we really don’t know that much about it
down deep. There is a great deal of magic in the sea, and I hope that if and when
people become aware of it, they will help take care of it and not throw garbage
and other bad stuff into it. I have a serious dislike for garbage-throwing.
Probably the most useful secret I learned that I hope will be of use to readers is
about thrum. Thrum is the way the creatures and plants that live in the ocean
communicate with each other through vibration and thought. As Ven and his
friends learn, this can be a problem if you think about something you don’t want
anyone to know about when you are standing in a sunshadow, because
everyone gets to see a picture of what’s on your mind. Imagine how
embarrassing that could be.

 7. Are there more books coming in this series?
Well, at least one. In the archaeological dig site where The Tree of Water was
found was another journal, a notebook that Ven called The Star of the Sea. We
are still working on restoring it, but it looks like there are many new adventures
and different kinds of magic in it. The problem is that it might have been buried in
the sand with an ancient bottle of magical sun tan lotion, which seems to have
leaked onto some of the journal’s pages. This is a very sad event in archaeology,
but we are working hard to restore it.
As for other books, it’s not like we just write them out of nowhere. If we haven’t
found one of Ven’s journals, there can’t be another book, now, can there? We
are always looking, however. We’ve learned so much about ancient magic from
the journals we have found so far.

8. You are a best-selling author with other books and series for adults. What
made you want to write books for young readers?
I like young readers better than adults. Everyone who is reading a book like mine
has at one time or another been a young reader, but not everyone has been an
adult yet. Young readers have more imagination and their brains are more
flexible—they can understand magical concepts a lot better than a lot of adults,
who have to deal with car payments and work and budget balancing and all sorts
of non-magical things in the course of their days.
Besides, many adults scare me. But that’s not their fault. I’m just weird like that.
I think if more adults read like young readers, the world would be a happier place.

9. Tell us where we can find your book and more information about where you
are these days.
You can find The Tree of Water anywhere books are sold, online and in
bookstores. There are several copies in my steamer trunk and I believe the
palace in Serendair also has one. I also sent one to Bruno Mars because I like
his name.
At the moment, I am on the beautiful island of J’ha-ha, searching for a very
unique and magical flower. Thank you for asking these interview questions—it
has improved my mood, since I have only found weeds so far today. I am hoping
for better luck after lunch, which, sadly, is peanut butter and raisin sandwiches,
olives, and yellow tea again.

All the best,
Dr. Elizabeth Haydon, PhD, D’Arc

Review by Nancy Famolari 


A Magical Adventure Reminiscent of The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings

Ven Polypheme and his friend Char are off on another adventure with their mermaid friend, Amariel. Ven is adventurous for a Nain. Most Nains prefer to remain at home, but Ven is hungry for adventure. In this fourth book, he and Char travel to the bottom of the sea, a place usually shunned by Nair. He is searching for the Tree of Water that is supposed to exist somewhere in the sea.

Their first obstacle is to be able to breath under water. They are about to let an old fisherman cut gills in their necks when Madame Sharra shows up. She gives them stones to allow them to breathe under water and another dragon's scale. These devices will prove important on their journey.

The book is a magical fantasy that will delight young readers, and perhaps some not-so-young readers who are reading it with their children. The book is filled with hair-breath escapes from fantastical creatures and beautiful descriptions of undersea life.

The series is based on Ven's journals. He is traveling the world recording the natural wonders, human knowledge, and all things magical. Since this is the fourth book, readers may want to go back and read the first three. However, it's not imperative. The author presents information that allows the reader to catch up with the story and the adventure is basically standalone.

I recommend this book for young adults and for anyone who enjoys a good fantasy with lots of action and magical scenes.


I reviewed this book for PR by the Book. #TheTreeofWaterTour