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Campfire - Roll Call

If I seemed a bit absent last week, it's because I was.  It was my son's spring break and I was on vacation with him.  The family had plans to go camping (in a tent) and partake in all sorts of outside activities, but mother nature had other ideas.  Still, we kept busy, catching a couple of movies at the theater and doing other things to keep ourselves entertained.  It was a good week.  But the downside is that whenever I'm out of my normal routine things like reading blogs, responding to emails & blog comments, all fall to the I'm sorry about that.  I'll be playing catch up for a couple days. 

One of the great things we did last week was a book campfire.  No, we didn't burn books (shuddering at the thought). With my previous two manuscripts I sat down with my wife while I was still in the outling phase and hashed out various story idea's.  It's a brainstorming concept I call a campfire and it really helps me solidify the story.  My latest inspiration for a novel will probably fall into the YA genre, so this time I included a member of the target audience, my 13 year old son.  The three of us spent a morning with me bouncing idea's off them and they in-turn adding their own suggestions.  My son really got into it and gave me some dynamite plot twists.  I'm really pumped to begin writing again while I'm waiting for the query process to play out for Fallen Knight.  If you're curious about what my first venture into the YA market will be, you can read a pitch-premise I left in the comments on Dianne Salerni's blog.

On another note, have you noticed a lot of instability in the blogosphere lately due changes with Google Friend Connect, Blogger word verification, as well as other issues leaving comments?  Even without all of that going on, I like to step back every now and then and take roll call.  This is a perfect time with the A to Z Challenge kicking off Sunday, so I’m taking this day to ask everyone who visits my blog to leave a short and simple comment.  Just a simple HI will do.  That especially goes for the lurkers. 

For some reason the term lurker has inherited a negative connotation, but in my book there’s nothing wrong with the practice.  I do it quite often.  Google Reader or any similar RSS reader makes a lot of us lurkers because in order to leave a comment it takes a few more clicks to get us to the point where we can do that, and sometimes that’s a few more clicks than we’re willing to devote.  There are times when I’ll stop in and read a blog, but still not leave a comment.  Usually it’s because I don’t have anything particularly relevant to add, or the topic just doesn’t interest me, but every now and then I’ll just be in a hurry and won’t have the time to write what I’d really like to.  I tell myself I’ll circle back later when I have time and write the comment I really want to contribute, and most of the time I do, but sometimes good intentions are wasted.  Whatever the reason…I’m lurking.

But today I’d like to get a better feel for how many of my followers actually do that…follow me.  So if you could, a short comment would really be appreciated.  It requires very little effort on your part, but means so much to me. J

Go ahead…sound off.  Don’t be shy.

PS.  Tomorrow will be the get to know your A to Z Challenge host for your truly.  I'd consider it a favor it you stop over and keep me company.  :)

My Brinda Berry Interview

Today I’m welcoming to the blogging studio a special friend…Brinda Berry.  Not only is Brinda a published author who recently released her second book, Whisper of Memory, but she and I also have a unique relationship.  You see, I used to work with Brinda’s husband several years ago and therefore knew her in a cursory fashion.  But just last year we stumbled across one another at the Ozark Writers Conference and discovered our shared passion.  I was so thrilled to finally have someone other than my wife to discuss writing related topics with and who shared a burning desire to become published.  We hit it off immediately and I’ve been milking her expertise ever since.  :)

Whisper of Memory, the follow up to Brinda’s well-received first novel The Waiting Booth, was released last Friday and she is now making the promotional rounds.  So of course I grabbed hold of her and yanked her here today before anyone else could.  I have a pretty good track record when it comes to interviewing authors…the last one (Shelli Johannes) ended up being nominated for GEORGIA AUTHOR OF THE YEAR.  I’m just saying. *wink*

So Brinda…are you comfortable?  Coffee made like you asked?

Did you say I have a chance at Author of the Year? Yes, the coffee is just the way I like it.

Great!  Let’s get some basics out of the way first…okay?  How tall are you?

Tall enough. If you ask my weight, you are in big trouble. You saw me on the treadmill the other day at the gym. I looked tall on it, didn’t I?

You bet!  I’m just limbering up my questioning muscles.  Are you allergic to anything?

Cats.  *looking around*

Don't worry, you're safe.  Okay, I think I’m ready to dive into the good stuff.  How about you Brinda, are you ready?

Good stuff? You’re not going to ask me about my sleeping habits, are you? I’m sleeping better now that my book has been released.

Um...No...but I'm glad for you.  So, in your book…Whisper of Memory…your MC has a medical condition called synesthesia.  Tell us about it and how you came about using it as a character trait?

The name synesthesia sounds like something awful, but it really isn’t. It’s where your sensory perception overlaps. A person is born with this or can find himself experiencing it after an accident. Grapheme is color synesthesia and is only one form. Fro example, a person might see letters and numbers in certain colors. There are over 60 types of synesthesia and 1 in 23 people may experience a degree of it.  My main character, Mia, has multiple forms of synesthesia. Her condition aids her in locating portals.

Some people assume that portal travel equates to time travel, and that's not the concept in your book. The portals exist as doorways between dimensions.  Explain more about that concept to us.

You should imagine our world like an onion with layers. Each layer holds a dimension of life and activity. The layers that are next to each other have very similar activity and life forms. Pick at the layer (dimension) on the outside and near the core to see great differences in these worlds. In my story, there is an entity who believes they control travel between these dimensions. Portals are the access point.

I understand you originally pitched it as sci-fi, but your publisher chose to categorize as Young Adult Fantasy. How do you feel about that now?

I don’t have a problem with how it’s categorized. At first, I worried that readers might look for trolls or vampires in my novels. That doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s a good thing since they won’t find them.

I’m drawn to books that revolve around an ensemble cast of friends rather than a single character.  Whisper of a Memory fits that mold, right?

Definitely. Mia is very independent, but she soon learns that she needs her friends.

Like many of my readers and other aspiring writers out there, you have a full-time job that leaves little time for writing, much less promoting.  How do you make it work?

This is working? Just kidding. It’s a juggling act. I’ve had to give up some things. I’m sure everybody does. You can’t add writing to the mix and not replace some other activity.

I know you’re busy, and the way you’re squirming in your chair I’d say you need to visit the little girls room…so just one more question.  What one piece of advice would you give my readers who are looking to become published that we haven’t touched on yet?

If you love it, don’t give up. It’s far easier to become discouraged than encouraged. Surround yourself with writing peers and mentors.

Once again, thank you for being here!

My pleasure! Thanks, DL.

That’s it kiddo’s.  Run out and pick up Whisper of a Memory this weekend!  You won’t be disappointed.

WRiTE CLUB – A Champion Crowned

You have spoken.  As expected, it was a very close contest...but the winner of the inaugural WRiTE CLUB contest is:

Casey Brooks 
And now the moment many of who have been waiting for, the unveiling of just who our champion really is.  It is a pleasure to introduce to you CASEY BROOKS…aka

I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am the Tiana won this contest.  She has been one of my most steadfast followers and supporters.  It thrills me to no end that I get to return some of that back to her.  She has definitely earned it.  Just click on her picture to visit her own blog.

From the very start this competition was touted as 100% anonymous except for the champion, but for those contestants willing to do so you can announce your participation and pen name in the comments below.  There is no pressure at all, but I wanted to offer the WRiTER’s who wanted to lift the mask the chance to do just that. 

Let’s not forget that our Champion will receive (apart from the nifty badge they can now display on their blog) a signed copy of UNTRACEBALE by Shelli Johannes-Wells, along with a query critique and/or one hour consultation with her about marketing or anything else. Shelli is a marketing whiz and currently nominated for GEORGIA AUTHOR OF THE YEAR, so picking her brain for an hour is certainly a prize to cherish.

I ’d like to close out by asking for suggestions on how to improve WRiTE CLUB.  Let me know what you liked, didn’t like, and any other idea’s that can elevate this project to the next level.

Once again, congratulations to Tiana!

Whisper of Memory - Book Release Party

* If you haven’t cast your vote for the WRiTE CLUB final match yet, please do so right after you’re finished reading this. *

** Voting for A to Z Video Challenge is now open.  Links to the videos can be found by clicking on my A to Z badge in the sidebar. **

I am very excited to participate in the release party for WHISPER OF MEMORY, the much anticipated follow up to THE WAITING BOOTH and book two of the Whispering Woods series by none other than my blogging buddy and real life friend, Brinda Berry.  It hits the virtual book shelves today and of course there’s much fanfare to be had.

Want to know more about the book?  How about a blurb:

Weapons training and winter formals… a deadly combination

 All Mia ever wanted was to fit in at Whispering Woods High. But being a portal-finder who dates a guy from another dimension sort of makes it hard. A month ago her brother disappeared, and agents from the IIA began policing people’s movements through dimensions. She’d trusted Dr. Bleeker from the local university when he’d told her the IIA were the bad guys. But even a girl with an extraordinary ability to sense things can make mistakes.

Now two people are dead, and as a portal gatekeeper for the IIA, Mia needs to find Dr. Bleeker before he hurts anyone else. And her boyfriend Regulus, an Agent for the IIA, carries secrets of his own. Between learning about weaponry, finding the perfect dress for the winter formal, and catching bad guys, who has time to fit in?

Not enough?  Maybe this book trailer will help:

If you’re hooked already here’s the link to get it on Amazon.  The rest of the links will be coming shortly and posted on Brinda’s blog.

Naturally there’s a contest and giveaway involved, but this one is a step above.  Brinda is giving away not only romance trading cards, but also a Kindle Touch or Nook Simple Touch.  The giveaway ends on April 30th and all you have to do to enter is follow the link to a nifty raffle tool.


Now I also told Brinda that to help celebrate her release I would answer a question as a fun way to tie in her book with a something interesting about myself. This is the question I chose:

High school senior Mia Taylor and her friends seem to draw trouble like a magnet.  Did you have anything out of the ordinary happen to you during your senior year?  Like a lot of schools, our senior class followed a tradition of senior skip day, but with a twist.  We always skipped on a Friday and spent the day/night at the beach (I went to high school in North Carolina, near the coast).  I ended up with a blistering sun burn, missed two days of school the following week, all because I was an idiot and didn’t know when to come in out of the sun.  Not one of my finest moments!  J

I hope you really enjoy Brinda’s book and wish her all the best with it.  I’ll have Brinda here for an interview next Wednesday, so please stop by and get to know her better.

Here is more about Brinda:

Interlude - Part Two

I promised not to leave you hanging, and here I am delivering on that promise (sort of).  If you missed part one of this saga, you can catch it here.  Also, if you haven’t cast your vote in the WRiTE CLUB final match yet, please do so and that can be done here.  Enjoy!

In the rear-view mirror I watched in horror as Cami sprinted unfazed towards the semi-trailers thundering down on her, and the blanket.

“CAMI,” I hollered while fumbling with the seat belt.  When the restraint came loose I started out the door and realized the car was rolling forward again.  Cursing loudly I reached back to the center console and rammed shift knob into park, then was out the door running.

The stench of burning rubber hung in the air and black skid marks scarred the road for just over a football field in length, leading from where our car came to a rest to just beside the squirming blanket on the road.  Cami had covered half that distance already, running in her bare feet, ignoring the rapidly approaching semi-trailers.

My heart, already pounding in my chest, skipped a beat when I heard a chilling sound.  It was the faint, but unmistakably wailing of a baby.  This couldn’t be happening. I urged my travel weary legs to move faster.  Although my wife was sprinting at a pace I’ve never seen her use before, I was still making up the ground fast.

The trucks, a pair of them running side by side like some twisted heavy weight drag race, were closer than I first thought and gave no indication of slowing down.  Cami was undoubtedly difficult to spot wearing a black tank top and blue jeans against the dark back drop.  I had been doing 80 miles an hour in our car when I hit the brakes and it took us almost 400 feet to stop, the trucks were probably doing close to that speed and because of their size and mass it would take them considerably longer.  A couple more seconds and they’d be unable to stop in time.

I ripped off my yellow beach shirt and started frantically waving it over my head as I ran, screaming “STOP” despite the utter futility of it.  As each second passed with no result my anxiety grew and the more animated my waving became.  See me!  See me!  Please dear god let them SEE ME!

I was rewarded by a plume of white smoke emanating first from the back of the truck on the left, then the other.  When I heard the almost rhythmic sound of tandem tires fighting for traction against a concrete surface, I let the wind take my shirt and set my sights on Cami.  It was going to be close.

The truck on the left with a red cab must have been almost empty because it was having no problem stopping short, but the one of the right was a different story.  Just as it pulled past the other truck its trailer began to jack-knife across the road.  I reached Cami just as she was picking up the baby and using strength I didn’t know I had, scooped them both up and lunged to the left out of the path of the careening trailer.

The truck and trailer came to rest midway between us and our car.  I set Cami down and took a few steps towards it, staring in disbelief.  Imprinted on the side of the trailer was the logo for Gerber Foods.

I turned back to Cami, standing there with the blanket clutched tightly to her chest.  The bundle in her arms was oddly still, and silent.  When our eyes met the emotion of what had just happened silently passed between us.  I cannot recall ever loving her more than I did just then

Both of our attentions switched to the blanket.  Using a special kind of tenderness, Cami pulled apart the corners and pealed it open.  When the last layer fell open her expression froze.  Something was wrong.

The blanket obscured whatever it was, so I took a step closer.  Cradled in her arms, unclothed, with a cell phone taped to its chest with a piece of black electrical tape, was a very life-like doll.

Sorry about that, not the conclusion you were looking for?  But isn’t that’s the ear-mark of any thriller/mystery worth its salt, the need to turn the page to find out what happens next?  I do have a third piece I could post next week…if there’s enough interest that is.  Let me know what you think.


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