Saturday, December 27, 2008

Watching a Strange Urban Subculture

The Unseen by T.L. Hines

Have you ever felt someone was watching you. How about the tiny hole in the ceiling that glitters when you look at it? It may be Lucas, or a member of the Creep Club.

Lucas is a very sympathetic character. A loner, he lives vicariously watching people in offices. His thoughts and style of life pull you in almost against your will. It's like visiting a foreign country where the fascinating rituals are not part of your daily life.

I enjoyed the first chapters of the book, being a watcher, myself, in Lucas' unusual world. Then the scene changes. He becomes involved with other watchers, the Creep Club, but these are more sinister. Lucas hopes for a connection with the person watched. The Creep Club members watch in private homes and violence appeals to them. Lucas abhors the delight his fellow watchers feel in getting violence on camera. He wants to help the people not exploit their suffering for “art”.

The end of the book is a typical thriller chase scene with Lucas always one step ahead of annihilation pursued by spies, the police, the CIA and other strange agencies. I felt the book lost something at this point. The chase scene seemed almost disconnected from the first half of the book.

For those who enjoy thrillers, this is a good read. It's a fascinating view of an urban subculture that will have you wondering about the sounds in the walls.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Linda Ballou's Hawaiian Novel





Linda Ballou


For purchase, visit * *

Your Local Book Store

ISBN 10: 1-932993-88-6

ISBN 13: 978-1-932993-88-2



280 pages

Linda gives a brief description of the story.

Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawai’i – Her Epic Journey is an historical novel couched in magical realism set in pre-contact Hawai’i. Wai-nani’s character is inspired by the personage of Ka’ahumanu, the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great, who was responsible for ending the 2,000-year-old Polynesian “kapu system.” The turbulent romance of these Hawaiian icons is set against the backdrop of Hawai’i’s most dynamic period between 1740 and 1820. Captain James Cook arrived in 1778. Cook’s visit triggered change that facilitated forces already set in play by Kamehameha (Makaha), the warrior prophesied at birth to bring the splintered Island people under one rule. Precocious Ka’ahumanu, always the center of controversy, is revered by some as the loving “Mother of the people” and by others as the “flaw that brought down chiefdom.”

Wai-nani embodies all that was good in ancient Polynesian society. Athletic, assertive, and brave she stands beside her warrior-king husband sharingin his joys and sorrows for forty years. Like all Hawai’ians, she is a water baby—finding strength, solace and wisdom in the sea. Her greatest pleasure isswimming with her wild dolphin friend, Eku. Throughout her life, she rails againstthe “kapu system” that calls for human sacrifices, separate eating-houses formen and women, and severe penalties for the slightest infractions of lawsimposed upon the common people by ruling chiefs and priests vested with thepower of gods.

My research included living on Kauai for a year, extensive reading andmany subsequent visits to the Islands to walk in the footsteps of the ancients. Ihave come to know the rich poetic expression of a sensual people inspired by thebeauty of their natural surroundings. Even though the old Hawai’ians were agenerous people they were also fierce and given to tribal wars. Inbreedingamong royals was encouraged and resulted in a statuesque, handsome race ofgiants. They had a distinct class system assigned by bloodline. Commonerstended to the land, fished and provided for the high chiefs and their courts. Wai-nani shows us that even though many have called the ways of long ago harsh, even savage, the beauty of the land and the mighty ocean washed through the hearts and minds of the ancients who were a deeply spiritual people.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Meet Linda Ballou

I asked Linda how she had decided to write about Hawaii.

My appreciation for nature took me to Kauai, the most luscious of all the Hawaiian Islands with pleated cliffs and treacherous seas fending off newcomers. It is believed by Hawaiians that a mantle of mana (spiritual power) protects the island from harm. It is here that I listened to wind voices and the seed for my historical novel Wai-nani: High Chiefess of Hawai`i – Her Epic Journey took root in my heart. This story inspired by the powerful personage of Ka`ahumanu, the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great is a poetic rendering of the ancients with tales of heroes and heroines doing supernatural deeds of mythological proportions. The people of old Hawai'i were connected to nature, played freely, loved passionately and communed with gods that dwelled in every tree, rock and flower. This book is written in the name of Wai-nani with great Aloha.

My quest today is to get to as many naturally beautiful places as I can before they are no more! I have hiked, biked, kayaked and ridden on horseback through some of our most precious wilderness areas. My travel articles and photos have appeared in numerous national publications. My essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and various literary journals. “Look Both Ways on Small Islands” was included in the I Should Have Stayed Home anthology published by RDR Books. Please go to my website where you may view many of my articles and photos. If you look closely your reward will be to discover the Secret to Youth.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bullying -- Lea Schizas theme for YA and Children's Books

Bullying is something that happens in schools and playgrounds. It can have serious consequences for young children. Bubba and Giganto illustrates this theme on the soccer field.

Synopsis of the story.

Bubba hates it when his dad gets a contract for a new project. That means uprooting the family from one city and moving to another. Attending a new school is a major pet peeve of his. His smart alecky nature attracts the bullies in every school he’s attended.

On the first day of school, Bubba bumps into this rather large student. Fearing a confrontation, he wears his tough guy attitude and waits for the punches to begin. Remarkably, the new student apologizes, and Bubba and David (aka Giganto as Bubba eventually nicknames him) become best friends.

Bubba and Giganto try out for the high school soccer team, and that’s when trouble begins. Bubba knew eventually he’d meet the bullies of the school, and he was right.

In the first initial weeks, Bubba learns about a death that occurred the previous year; faces the bullies on several occasions; helps Giganto practice soccer before tryouts; and challenges the bullies to a scrimmage.

Little does Bubba know Giganto holds a secret - one that will place Giganto in a deadly situation.

I asked Lea about her next project. Again the theme of bullying came up.

I know you've signed on for a new book with 4RV publishing. Since we have so many children's authors visiting our blogs, I think they'd be interested in how you got your idea and anything else you'd like to share about your new project.

My newest contract with 4RV Publishing is a children’s picture book, Libby the Odd Squirrel. I used squirrels because they’re cute but also they are like kids – friends one moment then chasing each other down the street the next.

The whole book is a universal theme: friendships and bullying. My first book with 4RV, Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us, also is based on bullying but geared for the 12- 15 year-old age group. Libby is a cute story on one little squirrel’s attempt to make friends, how one squirrel attempts but steers away when the ‘boss’ squirrel approaches, and the turn of events that pits Libby into making a decision that risks her life.

This is typical in children nowadays, a theme they can relate to. Some children try to make friends; but there’s always one in the crowd who is a leader and manipulates others to shun that other child. Children can openly relate to topics they have experienced in their lives that’s why it’s important for writers to keep that in mind.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lea Schizas Discusses Publishing

Girl reading in the library

The publishing business has to be a major concern for writers and the news now is mostly bad. The big print publishers are having cut backs. Simon and Schuster has reduced their workforce by 2 percent; Thomas Nelson, by 10 percent. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has put a hold on contracting for new books. The bad news goes on. On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal today December 4, 2008, has an article about Kindle. Amazon can't keep them in stock.

Since Lea Schizas is Editor in Chief for Red Rose Publishing. I asked her for her thoughts on the future of ebooks.

Since you're an editor for Red Rose Publishing, primarily an ebook publisher, what do you think about the future of ebooks?

At first I had my reservations about ebooks because, like me, many prefer a print copy in their hands to take with them and read wherever and whenever they want. However, from the moment the handheld devices were introduced, where you can upload an x amount of ebooks, sales have been on the up rise. Ebooks are cheaper than print books and the customer gets immediate gratification when they buy. The download in most cases is immediate. Even bigger publishing houses have jumped on the bandwagon so that tells it all.

Will more and more books be published as ebooks, or will we still see the preponderance of books published as print books?

For the time being, once more understand that you can carry a novel in these handheld devices, I believe print books will still be a bigger preference over ebooks. As I explained above, there are many who believe ebooks means sitting by the computer for long periods, reading novels. That’s not the case. Although I don’t have a Kindle device or any other one, I’ve been told you read a book as though you are holding a print copy in your hands. Once the word goes out, then I do believe ebooks will begin to surpass print books.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Meet Lea Schizas Author and Editor

Lea Schizas is a mother of five and tenderly referred as ‘Mother Hen’ by many writers.

Many have asked me where I find the time to do all that I do. Easy, when you have a deep passion for your work, you will always find time to complete your projects.

Lea Schizas is the founder of The MuseItUp Club, an online critique community, the Muse Online Writers Conference, and co-founder of Apollo’s Lyre. Each of these venues has consistently been in Writer’s Digest 100 Top Writing Sites since 2005.

For more information on her blogs, upcoming books, zines/newsletters, go here:

Lea is an editor as well as a talented writer.

In a previous interview, Donna Mc Dine asked her: What do you find to be more challenging: editing other writers’ manuscripts or developing your own?

I don’t have a hard time developing my ideas into penned words, nor the editing stage. I do have a hard time figuring out if I’m objective enough and deleted inconsequential passages to the fullest extend. That is why a critique partner or an editor comes in handy. We need another pair of eyes to catch things we are too involved with to see.

I have absolutely no difficulty editing other manuscripts because I am totally objective to this work and can spot plot holes, passive writing, weak dialogue easier than its creator.

. . . . .

Since Lea is editor in chief of Red Rose Publishing and edits for several other publishers including 4RV, a publisher of children's as well as adult books, it seemed like a good opportunity to get her views on what an editor looks for in a submission. She also gives me gives me a plug for Summer's Story, a mainstream romance novel being released by Red Rose Publishing on December 18th. Lea is a wonderful promoter for other people. Thank you, Lea.

As an editor, what do you look for in a book that you might consider for publication?

That’s easy. I’m looking for a twist in a story. Reading so many submissions after a while you can predict the ending. If a writer can surprise me along the way and throw me off track, then they’ve done their job. This doesn’t mean they can have a passive voice, or tell a story – a book needs to draw a reader into that make-believe world using an active voice, a showing mode, and strong characters with dilemmas that keep a reader hooked.

Do you look for different things in a children's book, as opposed to an adult romance novel for example?

Most definitely. First off I look at the age appropriate content for the author’s intended audience. The topic matter must be something that particular age group can relate to and understand. As in adult books, strong characters (and in kids books the main character should be either the same age or 2-4 years older – kids love reading books where the characters are slightly older than them), interesting situations, and a fully fleshed ending are important aspects in kids books. Mysteries, spooky horror and fantasy continue to be two strong genres for kids books – the 8 and over crowd.

In adult romance, I want to read more than the Cinderella/Pretty Woman theme. That’s been done, over and over again. HEA (Happily Ever After) are still strong, but writers need to add new twists. Let’s take your romance novel for example. I liked Summer’s Story because you gave your character a unique career: a horse breeder. You bring your reader into the horsing world, giving them a glimpse of the behind the scene action in horseracing. That competition between one horse owner and another, the sneakiness and underhandedness in others…these were just some of the qualities that drew me into your story and why you got the contract. A novel must maintain a reader’s interest throughout. That’s the quality I’m looking for as submissions editor.