Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Time Management

Writing a book is a  lot of fun. Writing a book well is a lot of hard work. Managing to obtain publication for said book is becoming easier, but it is still more on the work side than the fun side. 

All of the above is cheesecake, however, compared to promoting said book. At least, that's how it is for me.

There are so many options available today for self-promotion. If you look around the web, you will be inundated with advice and opportunities for getting your name, or brand, out to the public. But it is so very time consuming. So an author has to become familiar with what works and what doesn't, which eats up more of the precious time that could be going toward that next book. 

I hate to admit it, but my WIP has turned into a WTF. Now wait. That isn't what you may think. I'm referring to my work in progress, which is another YA story, but nothing like Michaela's Gift. But all the time I'm spending on promotion has turned it into a work totally forsaken. I'm really not trying to whine about it. I'd love to find answers on how to balance my time so that I can still make progress on it, and help support my fellow writers.

When I say that I'm working on promoting, I'm not referring to only my own work. The publishing house I signed with, Musa Publishing, is an amazing group that supports and promotes each other. I'm not complaining about the time I spend helping out my fellow writers. I'm a huge advocate of the mindset that places others first. It's one way of living what I try to teach my children. 

What I'm searching for is advice on what works best, and to discover how others find a balance between writing and promotional work. I'd love to hear from you, if you can find the time and still get your more important work done.

Have a great week, everyone.


Saturday, May 26, 2012


Author Interview 

Today I have the pleasure and the honor of interviewing Sharon Ledwith, author of the newly released The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis. Hello, Sharon, and welcome to my humble blog home.

Sharon, I would like to begin this interview with the blurb for your book, if we may.

When Amanda Sault and her four classmates are caught in a major food fight at school, they are given the choice of suspension or yard duty. It was a no-brainer. A two-week crash course in landscaping leads the kids to discover a weathered stone arch buried in an overgrown backyard. Instead of a forgotten lawn ornament, it turns out to be an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis. Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from an evil force—the five children, along with two offbeat adults, are sent on the adventure of their lives to save the Earth from an uncertain future. The Timekeepers’ first mission lands them in England in 1214, where they must find an adolescent Robin Hood and his band of merry teens before history is turned upside-down.

This sounds like an interesting adventure that would be a lot of fun for middle grade readers, and even, say, old women of a particular age. You’ve gone back quite a distance in time for this novel, and I’d love to know what methods and resources you incorporated in doing your research.

 First off, Cordelia, I want to thank you so much for having me here on your blog today. Cheers to you! As for my methods and resources? Hmm. I guess most of it comes from using my imagination. I’ve always loved history and many of the legends that make up part of our history. The legend of Robin Hood is no exception, and because of its popularity in books and film, the story of Robin Hood continues to live. The same goes for the legendary continent of Atlantis. My strategy for my time travel novels is to do the necessary research, then see where I can bend the truth to give it my own unique brand of writing. In other words, I truly have fun with recreating the past to fit into my story-lines. But, it’s my characters and their reactions to their situations that give the story substance and truth.

 In your story, Sharon, Robin Hood is a teenager. I’d like to know, if you could travel back in time and meet Robin Hood, and you were of an age, what would your reaction be? Would you want to join his merry band, or would you be repulsed by him?

After reading about the living conditions and the way people treated each other back then, my guess is that I’d probably be repulsed. Sad, but true. I know it was of a different mindset in 1214, so I’ll cut Robin some slack for that, but we’ve certainly come a long way in our evolution in the way we respect ourselves and others. Now, if we could start respecting nature in the same manner, that’d be awesome!

I definitely pick up the feeling that you are a huge fan of magical spells, Sharon. If you were given the ability to cast a magical spell of your own, what would it be, and what would you do with it?

World peace. Okay, I’m shooting for the moon there. I think everyone could use a do-over spell. A one time only, one chance to get it right spell. Think about the power of that spell. You could say the right thing at the right time to the right person, when you knew you should have in the first place. You could make the correct choice. Or you could just be there and say nothing. I bet everyone wishes they could do-over at least one thing that’s happen in their life.

That would be a great spell, but I would need it to be available much more than just once. Seems like I have a huge habit of saying or doing the wrong thing. 

Amanda is one of your main characters in The Last Timekeepers. I understand she has been appointed the position of scribe for this crew of timekeepers, so it would seem she has a serious side, or is at least a responsible young person. If your book is picked up for a movie, who would you hope to see playing the part of Amanda, and why? I’d also love to know who you envision for the parts of the two adults that go along with the kids on this wild adventure.

Yes, Amanda Sault is the main character in this novel. The next story belongs to Jordan Jensen. What would I do ‘if’ my book is picked up for a movie? Wink. I honestly have no idea who could play Amanda or any of her classmates. Believe me I’ve tried to envision the actors, but I keep drawing blanks. Now the adult roles are different. I thought Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap fame) as Professor John Lucas and Amanda Tapping (Stargate and Sanctuary shows) as Melody Spencer. I can see the ‘Rock’ Dwayne Johnson playing Belial and singer Taylor Swift as Lilith. For a bit of comic relief, Professor Marcus Crowley could be played by Jim Parsons ( he plays Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory), but that’s my choice, and believe me I’m no casting director!

Oh, dear! Sheldon is such a strange little man. He would certainly bring an interesting twist to things, wouldn't he? Okay, now you’re going to think I’ve totally lost my mind, but I want to switch gears. I know others on the tour will ask lots of questions about your book, but I want to get to know more about you as a person. So, having said that, let’s pretend that you have just found uncontestable proof that fairies are living in your garden. What is the first thing you are going to do with this information?

What do you mean proof that fairies exist? Are you telling me that they don’t? I know for a fact fairies exist! I was keeping it a secret, but now you had to blab to the world that the fair folk are really living, breathing, flying beings, and that  they’re living in my garden! Great. The jig is up.

My apologies. I have always known they were real, but I guess others are not enlightened. Now the fairies reveal to you that they have been living in your garden for thousands of years, just waiting for you to come along. They want you to come to the fairy realm to help rekindle the childhood belief in the wee creatures. In exchange for your help, they will allow you to continue writing and will even make sure your novels get published. Of course, it’s a permanent change of address. You have two options. Go with them, or call the lawn service and have them obliterated for all time. You will have to also take out the thousand year old oak tree that your town is famous for.

Again, not a revelation! I see them all the time. I give them their space, they give me mine. But if the head-hauncho fairy did ask me to help them by entering into the fairy realm forever, well I guess I’d submit myself. After all they do protect me from undesirables like bad reviews and lousy press. It’s the least I could do.

Well, that was certainly fun. Now let’s get serious. In your own personal experience, what have you found to be most useful in helping you to grow as a writer? Is it web sites that offer forums and opportunities for on-line critiques? Or is it attending conferences and other places where you can get one-on-one, immediate feedback? Or is it something else entirely? I just know that there are many resources available to writers today, and I wonder which ones are most productive or seem to be most helpful.

Originally it was my writing circle—a group of three wannabe authors—who I met during a ‘Write Your Novel’ college course. Writing workshops were another source. One of the biggest I’ve found is meeting other like-minded authors through the Muskoka Novel Marathon. It’s a fundraising event for literacy in my area where about 30 authors try to produce a novella over the course of three days. Believe it or not, this event has produced some brilliant work that has gone on to get published. I would also like to include the power of the world wide web, where any information a would-be author needs is at the tip of his or her fingers.

Okay, let’s revert back to another fun question. If you could be any character in any book you’ve ever read, who would you be and why? Also, would you do anything differently that might alter the ending of the story?

That’s easy. Quasimodo. Think about it. He rings bells for a living. He brings awareness. How cool is that? And yes, Quasimodo must get the gypsy girl at the end. After all, he did give her sanctuary. It’s the least Esmerelda could do.

Have you ever read a book that was so terrifying that you couldn’t finish it? I don’t mean terrifying in the sense of horrible writing. I’m thinking more like a hideous monster of some kind, or a story premise that was just too scary for you to deal with?

Honestly, no. I remember reading The Shining when I was babysitting. Now, that was a mistake. I had all the lights on and read with my back against the wall. The parents must have thought I was a wing-nut at the time. Maybe that’s the reason I never got a call back?

I could never read The Shining, or even watch the film. You're a brave soul, Sharon. Oh, it’s the last question already. Seems like we just got started. But since we’re here, I have to ask, do you intend to keep writing for this particular age group, or do you think you might want to venture into something different? 

Actually, I started out writing for another genre until I was pulled into the spiral of middle-grade/young adult books. My genre of choice was paranormal romance. I wrote a whopper of a novel between 1996-98 about a shapeshifter and a detective—a modern-type Beauty and the Beast so-to-speak. Then one night, during my writer’s circle, one of my writing girlfriends said something that floored me. She mentioned that I hit the twelve-year-old voice bang on. This got me to thinking—how hard would it be to write a young adult novel? It was a stupid question. Of course it was hard! But, boy, it was fun! The idea for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis came to me in a dream I had around 1998. In this dream, I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an “Indiana Jones” feel to it. So, to answer your question—I’m open to all possibilities.

Thank you, again, Sharon. It's been such a pleasure having you here and letting others get to know you a little better. I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Timekeepers and look forward to the next episode.

Author Info
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, debuting through Musa Publishing this May 18, 2012. When not writing or digging up the past, she enjoys reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. Sharon lives in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.
Twitter: @sharonledwith

Saturday, May 19, 2012


This is a very exciting day for me. I finally have the pleasure of revealing the cover art for my MG/YA novel, Michaela's Gift.

I've had the art for a bit, but I wanted to savor it in private for a few days - just a few - before making it public. 

After much deliberation, I chose not to picture my main character on the cover. That was my original intent, but then I decided that it often works to our advantage to allow our readers to form their own visualization of our characters. It opens the mind to so many more possibilities when every reader is allowed the freedom to create a little something of their own in our work.

Of course, I had to put Blackie on the cover. Since she's described in such detail, I couldn't leave much to the imagination with her. One black Newfoundland looks pretty much like every other black Newfoundland, or Neuffie, as we like to dub them. They certainly have their own unique personalities and quirks that sets each of them apart, but that's a bit difficult to reveal in a picture.

Musa's cover artist, Kelly Shorten, created exactly what I wanted with the castle in the background. The color is perfect, and the fact that it's partially obscured delights me no end. The turrets have the exact look I wanted, and the position at the highest point in the scene was crucial to the image I had in mind.

I couldn't be more pleased with everyone I've worked with at Musa Publishing. The fact that Kelly willingly made several changes to help me find the exact image I wanted for my debut novel makes me feel even more comfortable with the decision I made to submit my manuscript to them.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I recently read a delightful Middle Grade Novel by MJA Ware. The title, Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb, is nearly as long as the book, but it is well worth the read.

Seriously, though, I quite enjoyed the plot of the book, and the delicate manner in which it was handled. Normally, I stay away from anything featuring zombies, whether it be books or other forms of media. But despite some fairly extensive details concerning rotting flesh and cloudy eyeballs, the zombies in this tale are pretty kid friendly. Well, maybe that’s not the right word I’m looking for here, because their goal is to eat the kids, but not in a gruesome way, except for the time when that one zombie had Misty in a death lock.

I like this book for several reasons. I think MJ has nailed the middle grade voice. I have a young son, so we read a lot of middle grade books around our house. We also watch quite a bit of kid-friendly television. The characters in SZJMB think and act quite similarly to many of the kids, both real and fictional, with which I am familiar. In fact, little Kali, a younger character in the story that comes in a bit later but has a major role toward the end, reminds me of Baljeed from Phineas and Ferb. I love that kid.

So tell me. If you came home after sneaking out of the house and spending the night with your best friend, who happens to be of the opposite sex, would you expect trouble to be waiting at your door? Well, so does Nate. What he doesn’t expect is a town devoid of human life, overrun by the undead, and no escape route.

When the zombies discover fresh meat, Nate and Misty set up command central in the local Walmart store. Quite by accident they discover that lemon juice will kill the zombies, but nothing is ever quite that simple.

The two friends must evade zombie snot and their own inexperience while they work on perfecting the formula for the perfect SZJMB. During a run to the local fire station, where they plan to procure a pumper truck, they rescue a young boy who is dangerously close to becoming a zombie snack. The youngster, Kali, has been eavesdropping on the emergency wave band (something the older kids overlooked in their preoccupation for clean underwear and cinnamon rolls), and warns them that the entire town is going to be blown to bits in an effort to neutralize the zombies.

Nate and Misty are running out of time. Will they be able to construct an effective bomb in the short time they have remaining? Even if they can accomplish such an enormous task, how will they deliver it?

Find out for yourself by reading Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb.

Below I have included M.J.’s blurb for the book so that you can get a feel for his voice. I think he does an excellent job. I’ve also provided the author’s bio and links to make it easier for you to follow him. I also want to add that SZJMB is also available as a graphic novel. It's the same text, but he's added graphics, which are always lots of fun. So here's the blurb:

When life gives you lemons, kill zombies -- turns out lemon juice neutralizes the undead.

After a failed attempt at running away, best friends Nathan and Misty return home expecting to face angry parents. Instead, they discover the military has destroyed the bridges out of their rural town and everyone's fled--except a small horde of the living dead. The stress of flesh-eating zombies may be more than their already strained relationship can handle.

Even with the help of the town geek and lemonade-powered Super-Soakers, there's not enough time to squeeze their way out of this sticky mess. Unless the trio eradicates the zombie infestation, while avoiding the deadly zombie snot, the military will blow the town, and them, to pulp.
Their only shot is something with a lot more punch. Something like the Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. But even if their friendship survives, there's another problem: Someone has to lure the undead into the trap.

Where to buy:
Amazon (print and ebook)
Barnes & Noble

About the author:
MJ A. Ware, known as M.J. to his friends, lives in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains with his wife and two daughters.  He wrote Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb because he felt there was a need for a zombie book with a broader appeal than just hard-core horror fans. A book that would not only appeal to both adults and teens, but would be teen safe.

When not writing about aliens, monsters and ghosts, he runs a company where he designs award winning video arcades. He’s currently polishing his latest novel, Girls Bite, a paranormal vampire story told from a guy's perspective.


Monday, May 7, 2012


I’ve neglected my blog lately, partly due to the passing of my mother-in-law, but partly out of laziness. I think I can safely blame spring fever, also. Spring came so early this year, and it has been so warm and beautiful that I can’t stay out of the garden long enough to accomplish anything worthwhile.

Today I want to talk about characters again. Our characters need lots of attention. We would have no story without them. They need to be well-developed, because only a realistic character can get by with unbelievable actions and still be interesting to your reader. When we create characters that allow the reader to suspend disbelief, we can accomplish great things.

Have you ever written a story that you know is amazing, but can’t get an agent to commit to? You know your characters are perfect. Your plot is well-written, and your premise is new and fresh, but there is something keeping others from connecting. What do you do with those stories? Do they go in the trunk, or do you keep revising your query letter and sending it out to the next agent on your list? 

If you just can't trunk them, perhaps it's because your characters are trying to tell you something. Maybe what you need to do is listen to your characters. There’s a chance that they are the problem.

 Successful characters can’t be perfect. They must have a flaw. It doesn’t have to be a major flaw, but often the really huge flaws are the ones that make the most memorable characters. We might have forgotten all about Rhett Butler’s gorgeous southern charm, or even how he managed to melt Scarlett’s knees with just a look. But we’re never going to forget that deep down, he was a scoundrel.

Think about some of the characters you’ve met in children’s literature. So many of them are portrayed as everything but hero material. They are the smallest, or the weakest, or the most likely to fail in every way. Yet they are the ones who overcome all the obstacles that the author throws at them, and come out not only victorious, but unforgettable as well. Perhaps the lesson for us would be that the more unlikely our character is, the more likely he is to be remembered.

A while back I tried to create a very unlikely hero. He’s clumsy, a bit overweight, clueless and delusional. But I’ve always had faith in his ability to bring a smile and become an unforgettable force to a child. He’s currently on submission to a publishing house that produces some of the most exciting artwork I’ve found in children’s books. I hope he possesses the elusive trait that will make him irresistible. I’ll keep you posted.

For now, I need to get back to a few of my other characters who have been ignored far too long. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with another author interview, and I’ll be sure to bring chocolate next time. I hope everyone has a productive week, but don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the greening of the planet. The honeysuckle smells delicious today.