Tag Archives: middle grade

Author Interview The Sacred Artifact

Author Interview

1)     What inspired you to start a writing career?

Growing up, I was always an avid reader. I was the kid reading books under the covers by flashlight instead of going to bed. When I studied English in college, I was intrigued by the authors’ different approaches to writing and grew interested in the actual writing process in addition to the final product.

 During a summer class, I was daydreaming and had this mental image of a guy watching his house burn down. The mental image prompted many questions. I started jotting down ideas in a notebook throughout the class. Eventually, I had enough ideas to have an outline. I felt at that point I might as well try to write a full novel, which I finished in two years. I fell in love with the writing process, and although the novel was never published, it instilled a love of writing in me.

2)     Is your book a stand-alone, or is it part of a series?

My new middle grade fantasy, “The Sacred Artifact,” is the second and final book in the Young Alchemist series. The first book in the series is “The Missing Alchemist.” In the first book, I introduced readers to student alchemist Craig Pike, his archer friend, Audrey Clife, and the world of the Young Alchemist series. In “The Sacred Artifact,” I get to really develop the world and dive deeper into the story. Readers also learn a lot more about the history of alchemy. The even get to see where Cornelius, Craig’s teacher, trained!

3)     How does your book stand out from others?

“The Sacred Artifact” is a middle grade fantasy novel aimed at ages 10 to 14. The genre is quite eclectic, ranging from A Series of Unfortunate Events to the Percy Jackson series. I love the genre, and I think each book offers something different. My series, the Young Alchemist series, is geared toward young readers who enjoy fantasy with lots of action and adventure.

The Young Alchemist series is fast-paced and doesn’t waste time kicking into gear. That said, there is plenty of world building and character development, and I spend a fair amount of time ironing out my flavor of alchemy in the series. At the end of the day, I want the fantasy elements to augment the core of the story – the plot – rather than be the most central part. The characters are quite diverse, coming from a variety of backgrounds and motivations, so I think all readers will find someone they can root for and relate to.

4)     Are any of your characters based on real-life people?

I certainly draw inspiration from people I know in real life, and there are characters that have a lot in common with people I know. But there aren’t any exact replicas of people from my life in the Young Alchemist series. It’s not that I’m against basing characters on real-life people; it just didn’t pan out that way.

 5) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

 If your goal is to improve as writer, then read a lot and write a lot. If each book you write is better than the previous one, you’re succeeding. Don’t get bogged down with whether your book sold 100 copies or 10,000 copies. Just focus on continuously growing as a writer.

About the Book

Title: The Sacred Artifacts

Author: Caldric Blackwell

Genre: Middle Grade

Determined to uncover the secrets of a mysterious artifact, fourteen-year-old alchemy student Craig Pike and his teacher, Cornelius, journey to the birthplace of alchemy to seek the advice of a wise, ancient alchemist named Quintus. With the help of a witty archer, Audrey Clife, they trek across dangerous lands, compete in a cutthroat tournament, and reunite with old friends. They soon find out the artifact is more powerful than anticipated, and they aren’t the only ones seeking to discover its secrets….

 

Author Bio

Children’s book author Caldric Blackwell first realized he loved reading when he read about a bunch of people (with single-syllable names) and their pets (also with single-syllable names) in kindergarten. From that point on, he was nearly inseparable from books.

His interest in reading culminated in him studying English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Exposure to a host of great authors inspired him to begin writing fiction and started his journey to becoming a children’s book author. Although he began writing short stories for adults, he was drawn to the whimsical, imaginative nature of children’s literature and began working on his first book for children.

Blackwell’s debut work is an adventure-filled early chapter book, titled “The Enchanted River Race,” which follows a team of children as they compete in a river race. His next release is the beautifully illustrated picture book “The Boy Who Couldn’t Cry Wolf,” which revolves around a young werewolf who is self-conscious about his inability to howl.

His most recent work is the two-part Young Alchemist series, which is targeted at a middle grade audience. The first book in the series, “The Missing Alchemist,” follows alchemy student Craig Pike and clever archer Audrey Clife as they travel across mysterious lands and battle other-worldly creatures in a quest to rescue a famous alchemist. The second book in the series, “The Sacred Artifact,” centers on Craig’s attempt to uncover the secrets of a mysterious artifact, which entails journeying to the birthplace of alchemy to seek the advice of a mysterious, ancient alchemist.

Outside of reading and writing, children’s book author Caldric Blackwell enjoys jiu jitsu, gardening, and playing bass and guitar. He currently resides in Southern California.

 

 

 

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Promo Post From Frights to Flaws

About the Book

Title: From Frights to Flaws

Author: Sunayna Prasad

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Originally published in 2013, the book has been updated to its full potential with edits, while keeping the storyline the same.

Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy longs for a better life. She lost her parents at age seven and her aunt at nine. Her uncle also enforces unfair rules. But Alyssa discovers something she has never thought existed before… magic. A wicked sorcerer hunts her down. He kidnaps her from her ordinary New Jersey town to Yanowic, an enchanted island in Fiji.
Alyssa is trapped in the country due to a giant shield covering it. She must defeat dangerous creatures and the evil wizard in order to leave. But with sorcerers and enchanted technology getting in her way, can Alyssa succeed?

 

Author Bio

Sunayna Prasad has published a few books between her late teens and her mid-twenties. She has won a Pacific Book Review Award for her novel, Wizardry Goes Wild, which will return as a new edition, like From Frights to Flaws. Sunayna also has a blog on different creative and entertaining topics, including writing and fiction. It is called “Sunayna Prasad’s Blog”.

Aside from writing, Sunayna also likes to cook, do art, and watch videos online. She has graduated from college in May 2017 and is looking to continue more writing as well as hold a graphic design job soon. Sunayna lives on Long Island, NY.

 

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Guest Post The Peacock Door

Guest Post

My editing process took several different and rather haphazard forms.  Some sections came out almost exactly as they are now in the book, but, I struggled over many sections and ideas for days or even weeks.

For example, one day, I was sitting in front of an old bookstore in a small coastal town. The sun was creating sparkles on the water and it was simply beautiful.  I happened to have my mini-laptop setting on the back seat.  I pulled it out, wrote a brief description about the place, and saved it with the idea that someday I might be able to use the description in some piece of writing or, worst case scenario, have the description as a reminder of that precious scene. That ended up being the first couple chapters in the book without any changes at all.

There were other times as I was driving or taking a shower or going on a walk that a few words, plot ideas or character motivations suddenly came to me and I quickly wrote them down and put them away in a folder without really knowing if I would ever use them.

By the time I decided to get real about writing my book, there were bunches of little pieces of paper and jotted down notes in a binder or saved in a folder on the laptop.  I bought a binder, and some really smooth writing pens, compiled my notes and pieces of paper and began to put ideas together—those pieces or descriptions ended up all over the place within the book.

For most of the book; however, I had to set goals for myself and just keep on keeping on. I found it best to write one small section or a few pages per week. On the first day of the writing week, I typed out the general idea for the section without worrying about grammar or punctuation.  The next day, I took that section or chapter and began cutting unnecessary ideas and/or rearranging/replacing words. Finally, by the third day, I was generally ready to tidy everything up—put that small section or chapter through spell and grammar check, print it off and add it to the binder.  Even then, however, most of it was not really written in chronological order.

In the end, I took all those sections, rearranged some more, made loose ends go away, filled in holes and put it the entire book through spell and grammar check over and over and over.  I think it might possible to spend a lifetime fixing and changing and putting your work through spell and grammar check; but, at a certain point, I simply decided that I was done.  There is a story of a poet who kept working on the same poem for 20 years and was never totally satisfied.  I can see how that is very possible because there is always feels like something could be better and it always feels like there are more mistakes to be fixed. But, for me, in the end, I also came to a point of accepting some imperfections and just being happy that I had accomplished my goal.

 

About the Book

Title: The Peacock Door

Author: Wanda Kay Knight

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

In a magical tale of adventure, eight cousins sneak through forbidden treehouse doors, only to find themselves separated from each other and lost in strange worlds. In their quests to return home, they must unravel mysteries, escape snares and villains, find one another, and search for the elusive Oracle. The Peacock Door is a rich story of camaraderie, loyalty, love, and determination with a bit whimsy sprinkled throughout.

 

Author Bio

Wanda Kay Knight lives in the Pacific Northwest, teaches literature, strives really hard to keep up with her adventurous/competitive family, makes things out of yarn (mainly unique hats), enjoys collecting pretty rocks, and writes a lot.

 

Links

Website: www.thepeacockdoor.com

Youtube video

Youtube video

Email address:    wandakayknight@thepeacockdoor.com

My personal email:  wkayknight@gmail.com

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Book Excerpt Raising Sleeping Stones

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Book Excerpt

Kiva looked down from her position on a tree branch high above the forest floor and frowned. She took a slow, deep breath while calculating the distance between the maple she was in and the branch she’d need on the elm tree, then started putting together all the training steps she’d been taking.

Bending her knees and rolling forward on her feet, she curled her left hand behind her and went into a crouch. She instinctively twitched her hand away just before it touched her back, a move that would trigger another of Sakral’s withering criticisms that had been making Kiva’s errors painfully memorable.

While letting her breath out slowly, she whipped her left arm forward, snapping her wrist up to release the coiled swingvine Sakral had lent her. Pointing at her swing branch, she waited as the end of the vine landed and curled around it, then jerked back with her fist to set its hooks into the branch.

Feeling the connection was solid, Kiva took a quick, deep breath and jumped.

Though she’d done it dozens of times in the past four nights of training and traveling upriver with Sakral, the moment of jumping off a branch was still terrifying. The feeling of falling always threatened to make her panic and lose focus. Before it could, though, the tightening of the swingvine around her glove snapped her body into the series of practiced moves Sakral had taught her to turn falling into flying, fear into freedom. Extending both arms over her head, Kiva swung her legs back and put her head down until she passed under her swing branch midway into the arc of her flight, then smoothly lifted her head and brought her legs down.

As she passed the first level of branches on the other side, she pulled down on the vine, tilted her head back, and swung her legs forward in one fluid movement. The rush of swinging up—even more intense now than it had been that first time with Raymonde—made the past few days of dropping through the air, crashing into trunks, and getting tangled up in her swingvine all worth it because, at these moments, she felt more powerful, energized, and alive than she ever had. She was so thrilled by the sensation that she almost didn’t see the small branch in her way before it was too late.

In a flash, she tightened her left arm’s hold on the vine as she brought her right arm angled up in front to deflect the branch away from her face and swung her legs to the left to keep from being spun to the side. Even though the branch was thin, it slashed like a whip, but the bark shields Sakral had tied on her forearms took most of the impact. In less than a second, Kiva had swung her legs back to the middle and up to complete her arc. She was delighted to find she was still heading straight for a good landing branch on her target tree.

Then came the most difficult move of all. Just before reaching the top of her arc, she pulled the vine forward, swung her legs down, bent her knees, and landed softly on the near side of her landing branch, letting the momentum roll her forward exactly to the middle. She felt her feet naturally flex to fit the curve of the branch and stabilize her as Sakral had been repeatedly telling her to do. A perfect landing!

And now, for the finishing touch, she said to herself. Without turning around or even looking back, she brought her left arm down, waited until she felt the vine go slack, then twitched the vine, and waited again. She counted to six—the amount of time she had learned the living vine needed to detach its hooks from the pivot branch and coil itself back up—then curled her wrist forward, opened her fingers, and caught it neatly in the palm of her gloved hand.

 

About the Book

raisingcoverTitle: Raising Sleeping Stones

Author: P.H.T. Bennett

Genre: MG Fantasy

Like every kid in Solasenda, 11-year-old Kiva Stone has been far too busy training for one of the five town guilds to think about something as useless as dreaming. But when she and her sister DeeDee uncover a mysterious plot to get rid of them, their only hope lies with a shadowy group of people who get unimaginable powers from their dreams. As the girls escape with them up the river, they start learning secret dreaming techniques that have been forbidden for centuries. But how can they learn enough to stand against the enemies chasing them? The answer lies in the shattered history of Orora Crona, the lost Valley of Dreams, and whoever can piece it together first will rule for centuries to come.

Author Bio

raisingauthorP.H.T. Bennet began exploring his dreams when he was a child and has never bothered to stop. He had the good luck to have two daughters, Juliette and Paola, who not only served as the inspirations for DeeDee and Kiva, the main characters of Raising Sleeping Stones, but also helped him turn their family dreamwork sessions into this book. His lucky streak grew when he married his lovely wife, Mim,who tolerates his turning on a light in the middle of the night to write down ever-crazier dreams and talking about them in the morning as long as he lets her sleep in, first. His favorite dreams involve flying, visiting the dead, and replaying nightmares until they reveal their secrets.

Pratt’s latest projects are editing Book Two of the Orora Crona Chronicles and planning a virtual summer dreaming camp with other dream authors.

Links

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Website: http://www.raisingstones.com/

Facebook: http://bit.ly/RSSfacebook

Twitter: @phtbennet

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Book Review Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions: Wizardry Goes Wild

9781490770215_COVER_V3.inddTitle: Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Book 2: Wizardry Goes Wild

Author: Sunayna Prasad

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

After months of living a normal life, thirteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy faces magic again. Only this time, though, she is cursed with it, thanks to an old depressed skeleton named Errol. Alyssa’s time with her godfather, Alex, will never be the same again, as she can perform sorcery, but never control it.

            From letting out enchantments at school to creating outdoor disasters, Alyssa is bound to face consequences. She can only get rid of her powers if she can boost her confidence levels and improve her bravery. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. She must measure those abilities with a special device called a skillometer. Will she be able to get rid of her unwanted wizardry?

The second book in a series, Wizardry Goes Wild tells the story of 13-year-old Alyssa McCarthy, who faces magic again – this time, she’sz cursed with it. She can perform sorcery ut has no way to control it, and chaos ensues. Alyssa can only get rid of her powers if she improves her confidence. The book offers a nice clash between science and magic, and Alyssa is a likeable main character. She’s clumsy, which I’m sure many young teens will relate to (God knows I was the clumsiest teen ever), has a good sense of humor, and she is quite brave, when she admits it to herself.

A magical read for middle graders.

 

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Author Interview Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory

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I’m hosting an interview today for the book tour for middle grade paranormal mystery “Wilhelmina & The Willamette Wig Factory”.

Have you been writing for a long time?

I have been writing for several years but only published in the last 2 years.


What inspired you to start a writing career?

One day I woke up with the first line of a book in my head. It nagged me and nagged me until I wrote it down. As soon as I did, I was hooked!


Is this your first book? If not, can you tell us about your first book?

Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory is my third published novel. This is the first in aseries of 6. My other two books are romantic comedies and both hit the bestseller list in their genres.
The first, She Sins at Midnight (totally tongue in cheek) just won 2015 silver medal in chick lit.


Why did you choose middle grade as a genre to write in?

I have two little girls and I really want to share a love of reading with them. I thought the best way to do that is to write some books for them.


Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

My advice to aspiring authors is to write, write, write. Don’t edit yourself. Don’t worry what other people will think, just let the process happen and enjoy it!


Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?

I have my third romantic comedy in the works and my second Willy and Tommy Adventure. Both will be released in the spring of 2016.

About the Book

Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory ebook (1)Title: Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory

Author: Whitney Dineen

Genre: Middle Grade / Paranormal Mystery

Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory is Book 1 in the Willy and Tommy Adventure Series. Wilhelmina Snodgrass and her family move to the Willamette Valley, Oregon, against her express wishes. Not only is she sure her life is over, but she’s convinced she won’t make any friends. That is until she meets her eccentric blue-haired neighbor, Thomasina Andretti. Willy and Tommy become involved in a s conspiracy to reopen The Willamette Wig Factory, with their unsuspecting friend, Georgianna Carbunkle. The plot, however, is orchestrated by three of Willy’s ancestor’s, from beyond the grave. Scrapes, mishaps and the unforeseen occur; including becoming sworn enemies with Tiffany Peterson, the most popular girl in the seventh- grade, a crush on super-stud, Jamie Armstrong and a mysterious carousel. Willy and Tommy have it all-mystery, revenge and romance. Monteith, Oregon, becomes the stage for adventure beyond their wildest dreams!

Author Bio

authorWhile attending the University of Illinois in Chicago, Whitney Dineen was discovered by a local modeling agent and began an unexpected career as a plus-size Ford model. She modeled in New York City before moving to Los Angeles with her husband.

When she wasn’t modeling, she was in the kitchen, baking delights to share with friends. Soon, her friends began asking her to send baskets of her wonderful candies and cookies to business associates, agents and production studios. Word spread like wildfire, and the rest, as they say, is history. Whitney’s sensational creations are still in great demand by her loyal celebrity clientele.

During “The Hollywood Years,” Whitney was bitten by the writing bug and started creating characters that are inspired by strong women with a great sense of humor.

In addition to her love of chick-lit, Whitney has also written a series of adventure books for middle readers The first of which, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory, is now available.

Whitney and her husband, Jimmy, have recently relocated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to raise their children, chickens and organic vegetables.

 

Links

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http://whitneydineen.com/

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Guest Post The Thinking

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Today’s guest post is by Dallas Sutherland, author of “The Thinking”, a MG Fantasy novel. Welcome! I’ll leave the word to the author now.

Guest Post

When I set out to write The Landland Chronicles I wanted to include a few things from Celtic mythology. This Guest Post will focus on some of these. I also want to mention some of the underpinning literary concepts that have been used throughout the story. I will provide a brief explanation of these, and also point to some links if you are interested in reading further.

Ogham Script

Title page illustration inverte

There are many variations on the origin of Ogam Script, or Ogham (pronounced O em). From a mythological point of view, and one that I like, it was an alphabet thought to be used by the ancient Druidic Celts. There are about 25 letters in the alphabet and these were used to pass on ancient wisdom and knowledge. The letters was usually inscribed onto a wooden staff carried by Shaman/poets. A series of lines, or cuts, were made on the edges of stones and pieces of wood. There were several of these Ogam alphabets; the most widely known was one where each letter related to a sacred tree. Others related to people, places and objects. Ogam was also used to mark boundaries of property, whereby letters were carved into stones.

Variations of Ogham Script can be found in Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland.Other sources report that Ogham was the invention of Oghma the legendary champion of the early Irish race of the Tuatha De Danann. Much later sources report that Ogham originated in fourth-century Ireland and Britain and that it was primarily derived from the Latin alphabet, and also from Nordic runes.

Whatever the case might be, I like to think that it is a magical alphabet that might pop up again and again in fantasy stories.

Druidic Healing

In the first book, The Greying, Teah meets Fand The Faery Elder. She sets healing in motion for Teah and uses a form of Druidic healing to ignite Teah’s Cauldron of Warmth. Of course, I’ve used some artistic licence here, but the main thrust of the healing is one the Druids used in days long ago.

Faeries & Celtic Myth

Myths can provide a sound platform for the fantasy quest. For thousands of years they have given us action, intrigue, and psychological depth. And none more particular than those found within Celtic mythology with its dark forces, magic, impending battles, quest, and inner searching.

‘The popular fantasy genre rings loud with echoes of the sights and fights

already thousands of years old in the Celtic mythology: impossibly brilliant

heroes – for Cuchulainn read Conan the Barbarian – fighting evil forces in

the shape of ogres, or huge armies, or dragons or vile witches and wizards –

and, psychologically, the dark forces and fear within us all.’

(Frank Delaney 1991 Legends of the Celts)

You can read more about Celtic myth and the Fair Folk here.

Metafiction

Metafiction is when the story begins to reflect upon itself; where the reader becomes aware that the writing is telling much more than it normally would. Click here if you are interested in reading more about the metafictional underpinnings of The Landland Chronicles.

Pastiche

A pastiche is something that emulates what has gone before. Essentially, The Landland Chronicles is a pastiche of the fantasy genre: all that has gone before. Click here to read more.

Parody

Parody is a term which means to poke fun at. Yes, you can say The Landland Chronicles is a parody in the sense that it not only emulates all that has gone before, but it also attempts at tongue-in-cheek humour. The astute reader will recognise that all of the right fantasy tropes have been used. You can read more about parody here.

Antonomasia

The Biggo has invented a new literary term ‘Reverse-Antonomasia’. You can find many uses of this term within the series. Click here to read more.

Click here to enter The Biggo’s promotional giveaway. You can win a copy of Book Two: The Thinking, plus posters.

Book cover for The Thinking

About the Book

THUMBNAIL_IMAGEcoverTitle: The Thinking (The Landland Chronicles #2)

Author: Dallas Sutherland

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

LANDLAND BECOMES ITS OWN SAVIOUR …

The Greying snakes across Bigriver towards Landland … all the lands are in turmoil. Meah combines her power of thinking with the magical Book of Colours, and joins the Bigriverland army to fight the horrid Firbog. Faith, Hope, and Charity, the white many-headed-winged-thing, returns. Auntie Beryl has become the evil Queen Berilbog– she must be stopped. Many-headed-winged-things soar high over battle-fields, three-humped-beasts-of-war go on the rampage, and, from out of the mists of the greying, slithering Homunculi goad them on.

Meah’s magical plans are not what Landland needs– Firbog hordes swarm across a dried up Bigriver into Landland, cutting their way through The Scented Forest, all the way up to the tip of Mount Beacon.

Chaos reigns supreme, Landland writes its own story … but the story is all wrong. Meah looks for a way to escape. Will she find her father, The Biggo, again? Can they win their way home– should they leave Landland and all their friends in the clutches of Auntie Beryl, the Grey Lady?

Author Bio

Bio Photo1 DallasSutherlandOver the last twenty-five years, the Author has exhibited a creative bent across a range of industries including graphic design, fine arts, and trompe l’oeil murals. He has lectured in fine arts and studied Art History, Literature, Adult Education, and Creative Writing. Works include play scripts and short stories. The Greying is his first published novella, with further books planned as part of the fantasy series. He draws inspiration from myth, legend, and fairy tales.

He lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia with his partner Kerri, and daughter Ruby.

Links

Website: www.dallassutherlandauthor.com

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomdallasws

Blog: www.dallasws.wordpress.com

Kindle ebook: Kindle eBook

Book One (Print)   (40% Discount code: JFFFB85D)

Book Two (Print)   (40% Discount code: JFFFB85D)

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