New Release & Review: The Guardians, TM Franklin

The Guardians: Book Two in the MORE Trilogy is Now Available!

Guardians coverAva’s life is . . . complicated.

After all, it’s not every day a girl learns she’s not entirely human, or unlocks hidden powers strong enough to make even the First Race sit up and take notice. After surviving an attempted kidnapping and standing up to the Race’s Ruling Council, Ava Michaels returns to college and what she hopes is a normal life. But Ava quickly realizes that for her, normal may not even exist anymore.

In fact, the Council wants her under their control, and they’re not the only ones. The mysterious Rogues have a plan of their own, and it turns out Ava’s a big part of it, whether she wants to be or not.

On top of that, her new relationship is tested in ways she never expected. Her boyfriend, Caleb Foster, has disappeared—accused of betraying the Race—and Ava herself stands implicated in a crime she didn’t commit.

Clearing their names will mean uncovering a web of deceit and intrigue with Ava woven right in the center. To unravel the strands, she joins forces with some unlikely allies; a Protector who once haunted her nightmares, a young girl with secrets as unexpected as Ava’s, and a group of rebel Guardians who have their own fight against the Council.

Together they stand in a battle to find the truth, bring Caleb home, and secure Ava’s freedom—not to mention save her life.

 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TWCS Publishing House | |More Information | Goodreads

The Guardians Book Trailer

 

 

 

TamiAbout T.M. Franklin

T.M. Franklin started out her career writing non-fiction in a television newsroom. Graduating with a B.A. in Communications specializing in broadcast journalism and production, she worked for nine years as a major market television news producer, and garnered two regional Emmy Awards, before she resigned to be a full-time mom and part-time freelance writer. After writing and unsuccessfully querying a novel that she now admits, “is not that great,” she decided to follow the advice of one of the agents who turned her down—write some more and get better at it. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days.

 

She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Mike, is mom to two boys, Justin and Ryan, and has an enormous black dog named Rocky who’s always lying nearby while she’s writing. Whether he’s soothed by the clicking of the computer keys or just waiting for someone to rub his belly is up for debate.

 

In addition to MORE and The Guardians, Franklin penned the Amazon best-selling short story, Window, as well as another short story, A Piece of Cake, which appears in the Romantic Interludes anthology.

Connect with T.M. Franklin:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

My Review of The Guardians:

I’ve been reading TM Franklin’s stories from the time she was a hobby fiction writer -approximately four years.  I’ve had the good fortune to have her in my writing groups and I always love to spend time with her. She’s an elegant writer and I adore all of her stuff. On November 22nd, I’ll be interviewing her on my site and I’m excited, so stay tuned for that.

I’ve been waiting impatiently for The Guardians and was delighted to be granted an ARC. This novel topped my expectations. TM  has an impressive imagination and I devoured this in one sitting.

Ava learns a lot about her past and future in this installment and she is literally empowered to function in her new world. It’s a treat to see her evolve. But even better? Caleb truly supports her, demonstrating his honour of her wishes even when he doesn’t like her decisions. I am definitely in love with him now.

I love both Ava and Caleb, but now I’ve got a bit of a crush on Tiernan. Who would have dreamed the guy had a sense of humour? After reading MORE, I didn’t expect it, just proving that first impressions about people can be deceiving.

It pleases me when I find books where the main characters, although flawed, ultimately have traits that are truly heroic. If my kids were to tell me they admired these characters, I’d be delighted (and that’s not always the case). It’s great to be able to hand teenagers a book without worrying they’re going to get a crush on protagonists that don’t behave morally. I would happily supply MORE and The Guardians as gifts to the young adults I know. The holidays are coming, so consider this my recommendation. And as an adult, I enjoyed the books, too.

I can’t wait to see what happens next. Five stars.♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


 

 

 

 

Blog Tour: Interview with Amber L. Johnson

Amber Blog tour1

 

Remaining Tour Stops:

Sunday October 27
Fandom Fanatic – AUTHOR GUEST POST – Writing  from a male point of view
The Blonde Mark – REVIEW

Monday October 28 – Release Day
Sydney Logan – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
FicWishes – EXCERPT
Fandom Fanatic – EXCERPT
First Page to the Last – EXCERPT

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An Interview with Amber L. Johnson

 

amberljohnson

 

WebsiteBlogTwitterFacebookGoodreads

 

I first encountered Amber online, when she was writing fan fiction under the pen name of 107yearoldvirgin, and she had a huge following -for good reason. She writes highly-relatable characters, knows how to plot and is blessed with a charming sense of humour. I used to love to escape into her stories, so I’m very pleased to share this interview with you today.

 

Jess: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was little, but I didn’t actually get serious about it until a few years ago.

 

Jess: You were a prolific fan fiction author when your son was just a baby. In fact, I remember a funny author’s note in which you said that you’d hidden out in your bathroom to get a chapter done. I don’t think I did anything terribly creative when my kids were small. Seriously, how did you manage to accomplish so much?

 

Back when I had just started it was because I’d been going through some crappy stuff and wanted an outlet. It was cheaper than therapy. When my son was first born, he had colic. He’d cry for upwards of 20 hours a day and was consistently sick from being in daycare. Once he hit ten months he started walking and his colic started going away so he was actually sleeping at night. Because I was used to not sleeping I used the extra hours while he was in bed to write. I’d crank out 2,000 words an hour most times, so I’d write for two or three hours and – bam – a new chapter would go up.

The day I locked myself in the bathroom was a snow day and there were five people in the house – all wanting something. Food or attention (this was before we had my son evaluated and weren’t aware of the extent of his needs). I just needed a break and to be able to sit in the quiet for ten minutes by myself. So I faked a stomach ache and sat on the bathtub to finish a chapter and upload it. Not my proudest moment, but one that makes me chuckle nonetheless!

Jess: Tell me about it! This is how I feel most days:

Motherhood

 

Jess: I definitely remember those colicky kid moments. And we moms need to take our Mom Time and our laughs wherever we can get them! What is the most valuable lesson that writing fan fiction taught you?

Patience. My editor, Kathie, used to tell me to slow down and stop updating so fast. She said that people would become overwhelmed by the amount I was writing – that I didn’t give them time to appreciate a chapter. Or a story. And it was one of the best lessons I ever learned. Being prolific is one thing but over saturating your readers will make a lot of them simply give up on trying to keep up.

 

WhereWeFellFINALCOVER small

Summary:

Oliver Bishop is having a seriously bad day. With one diagnosis, his life suddenly has an expiration date. Confused about the numbness he has to the idea of it, he unwittingly puts himself directly in the sights of a girl that just may give him a reason to fight – and to live.

Available October 28th on Amazon Kindle.

 

 

Jess: What was it about this particular story that made you decide to write it as your first published piece of fiction?

Honestly it was because I felt like it had an important message. I’ve always said that I wanted my first piece to be something I was proud of. Something that really sets the tone as to who I am as a writer. And I think this hits all of my requirements.

 

Jess: What was your biggest challenge in moving from fan fiction to original fiction?

Fan fiction is still propelled by original ideas, but we have to be honest with ourselves that it’s a lot easier than coming up with our own worlds and characters that people don’t know. If I write a character name in a fan fiction, I don’t even have to describe them. Your mind already knows what they look like. It already knows their back story, even if we give them a new one. Starting from scratch is tough. And it’s even tougher when you think that your old readers won’t be able to see the new characters that you’ve created because they’re so used to reading fan fiction.

 

Jess: Lots of things must have happened as you developed and published this novella. What came as the biggest surprise to you?

The biggest surprise to me was the outpouring of positive support I received from bloggers and other authors that were willing to take a look at something I’d worked so hard on. I’m my own worst enemy and I was feeling like maybe I didn’t stand a chance – but the feedback I’ve received from everyone has made me think that maybe I’m not as hopeless as I once thought.

 

Jess: You’re definitely not hopeless, bb. Trust me. Tell us something about your newest release that isn’t in the blurb.

Hannah’s obsession with health through being a vegetarian was inspired by my husband. After I got sick, he watched a bunch of documentaries and we started changing our lifestyle to be more vegetarian and organic. This was my way of honouring him and poking a little fun at the same time.

 

Jess: Very cool. What’s your preferred climate for writing? Do you like to write in a certain place, with music? Is there a specific time of day that you write?

I can write pretty much anywhere if I’m in a comfortable chair and have music playing. I prefer to be alone so that I can concentrate.

 

Jess: What comes to you first, the plot or characters?

It always starts with one scene. A conversation will take place between the characters and I lock it into place to write around. The plot usually changes as I write because my characters act of their own volition, no matter how much I try to rein them in.

 

Jess: Can I possibly talk you into writing a comedy?

I write comedy! It’s just usually comedy about really tragic things.

 

Jess: LOLOL! Touché. Who has most influenced your own writing?

It sounds weird, but John Hughes has been my biggest inspiration. Probably for my entire life. I actually have to go back through my three new in-progress works to remove mention of him because I talk about him ALL THE TIME.

 

Jess: I’d better bone up on John Hughes. 😉 In your opinion, what makes a good book?

I love books that suck me in. I need the characters to be believable and to react in real ways to things that are happening. And I want, more than anything, for a book to make me feel.

 

Jess: I think you’ve always been very talented at doing exactly that. Best of luck with your new novella. I can’t wait to see more from you.

 

Amber L. Johnson’s novella, Where We Fell, will be available on Amazon Kindle on October 28th.


 

 

 

An Interview with Abria Mattina

Wake - AbriaMattinaEighteen isn’t too young to run your life into the ground, but it’s not too old to fix it, either. The desire for change drives Willa Kirk from St. John’s, Newfoundland back to her hometown of Smiths Falls, Ontario, away from her mistakes and the place where her sister died. She’s looking for a place to settle and rebuild, but Jem Harper just wants to get out of town, back to the life he knew before cancer. By letting the tragedies in their lives define them, they are both dying a little more every day. Welcome to the wake.

http://www.amazon.com/Wake-ebook/dp/B005OMWXZE

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wake-abria-mattina/1106355960?ean=9780986957918

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/wake-9

 

Pigeons feather front cover smallIn this companion novella to Wake, Frank invites the Kirk family home to Smiths Falls for Thanksgiving weekend. Holidays are always a trial for the family that lost their daughter and sister, but Frank is hopeful that this Thanksgiving will be the exception. He has some happy news to share. If only he wasn’t so reluctant to talk about it.

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Among-Pigeons-Wake-ebook/dp/B00EPSJBAI

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-among-pigeons-abria-mattina/1116798951?ean=9780986957956

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/love-among-pigeons

 

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Today, I’m chatting with Abria Mattina, who is a published author, editor, respected blogger, book reviewer and book designer. She loves to mentor writers and I’ve learned a lot from her.

Jess: When did you decide to be a writer? How did you get your start?

Abria:

I don’t think it’s something I consciously decided. Born gay, born straight, born an artist… you get it. Smart money was on me ending up in some creative field, and I tried them all as a kid – visual art, dance, gymnastics, piano. I knew I liked to write as a kid, but I didn’t have my first don’t-eat-don’t-sleep-just-write episode until I was fifteen. I have had many more joyous episodes since, and I’m lucky enough to have a partner who understands them.

For a long time I resisted the thought of writing as a career, though. I thought the only way to make any money at it was to be a journalist, and I hated the thought of writing assignments. I felt that if I was going to write, I was going to do it for myself and write what I wanted.

 

Jess: What’s the one thing you’d tell an aspiring author?

Abria:

Being an author is very different from being a writer. Nobody tells you that, but it’s true. When you’re a writer you write for pleasure, and there’s no pressure because any success or failure is still hypothetical. Once you’re an author, all that changes. You have to perform for your audience. You have to be engaged, consistent, and you have to keep churning out material. Whatever you publish next will be compared to what you published last. There’s a whole new world of pressure waiting and the end of your journey as “just a writer.”

I like to blog about my mistakes in publishing, especially when it comes to marketing, because that’s information that I wish I had known beforehand. Maybe someone else will benefit from knowledge of my mistakes.

 

Jess: You’re very accomplished. How do you balance the many facets of your life and career?

Abria:

Honestly, I don’t. The thing about juggling so many things is that you can only hold so many balls at a time. Something always has to be up in the air while other things are firmly in your grasp. Learning to let go, to accept that I don’t always have to be on top of everything, is how I manage. When my writing life is going well, I find I don’t blog as much. When I experience writing slumps, I tend to blog more or try out new hobbies. It’s okay to fluctuate because it keeps the mind active and engaged.

 

Jess: We’re both Canadian. What do you consider the challenges of being an artist in Canada?

Abria:

Although my books are set in Canada, I can never see myself writing “Canadian Fiction” for two reasons: the market is much smaller and Canadian fiction has a reputation for being grim. There’s an emerging publisher in Toronto whose mandate is to publish “non-depressing Canadian fiction.” It’s a little sad that they had to say that openly in their mission statement. The vibrant, wonderful things about Canada never seem to make it into supposedly “great” works of Canadian fiction.

As for the practicalities of being a Canadian author, there are hoops to jump through, from ITIN acquisition to working with foreign agencies to making sure your work is protected and your pay deposited. I have an ITIN, and I would recommend that any Canadian author get one before working with an American publisher or retailer (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.). It makes payouts so much easier.

 

Jess: Do you self-edit, or do you have pre-readers? Your published works are pristine. If you tell me nobody looks at your drafts, I’m going to scream.

Abria:

I have beta readers and I hired a professional copy editor for Love Among Pigeons. Never underestimate the value of the ARC, too. I had a few early reviewers email me before the book launched to share any last typos they spotted.

 

Jess: How much time do you spend on research?

Abria:

This is difficult to quantify because research is always an ongoing process. I don’t spend six months doing nothing but research and then write. Most often, I research a subject that interests me until I feel that I know enough to write about it competently. After that, I keep going back to my sources in order to get the details and nuances right. I particularly like journal-style blogs for this reason, so I can read the perspective of someone who has firsthand knowledge of my topic. If I can talk to someone directly, even better.

The tricky bit about research is resisting the urge to insert little factoids into the text simply because you know them. Sometimes I see this in the books I read, and it kills me every time. There is a limit to what the reader needs to know to enjoy the story, and it’s the author’s job to keep a handle on that.

 

Jess: I adore ‘Wake’. It’s one of my go-to reads. What inspired you to write it?

Abria:

The first scene that came to me was the scene where Jem and Willa are taking a walk through her neighbourhood, just chatting like normal teenagers – talking about death and serious illness. Once I started, it was one of those stories that just kept coming. I went with it and enjoyed the ride, because there are few occasions in a writer’s career when a story comes so easily.

pigeons-mate-for-life-300x190Jess: ‘Love Among Pigeons’, the companion novella, distills complex elements into a strong, meaningful story. I tend to write epic-length tales. How different was it, going from writing a novel to writing a novella? What were your biggest challenges in each?

Abria:

If I’d tried to write them back-to-back, it would have been much harder. After producing that mammoth, Wake, I worked really hard to cut down the length of my projects. The longest draft of anything else I’ve done since was 70k words. Length wasn’t a problem with Love Among Pigeons, especially after I decided to frame it in the setting of Thanksgiving weekend. Because it centers around a holiday, it has a natural three-day trajectory.

About six months after I published Wake, I started playing around with the idea of a prequel because people had requested it. I couldn’t make anything work, and at the time I chalked it up to my state of mind (my mother was undergoing chemo and radiation), so I shelved the project for a while. A few of those scenes ended up in Love Among Pigeons, and it was nice not to have to reinvent the wheel. I’d been thinking about the story far longer than I’d been writing it. I didn’t feel like a challenge to write. The hardest part was finding the time to write.

As for Wake, the biggest challenge was editing a work of that scope. It still makes me shudder.

Keith Quintanilla, Deviantart

Keith Quintanilla, Deviantart

Jess: Your books deal with some tough, controversial subjects with compassion and tact. You don’t shy away from difficult moral questions. How have your experiences shaped you?

Abria:

I think being fundamentally obnoxious helps. The thing about taking on difficult, controversial subjects is that you’re always going to offend somebody. There were so many things about Wake that offended people – that Willa didn’t handle Jem with kid gloves, the way Tessa died, the way Frank deals with problems, and so on. It happened. I could have gotten my panties in a twist about it, but on the contrary, I was glad. Books that challenge us, piss us off, and make us think, are books that we remember. They’re books that we pass on to friends just so we have someone to talk to about our opinions.

I didn’t feel like I compromised on anything with Wake, even when I knew I was handling a scene or situation in a way that wasn’t conventional or even politically correct. That’s why I could stand by it.

I’ve always been a pretty opinionated person, especially about issues with lots of gray area, but what drew me to writing about disability and illness in particular is my adolescent experience with severe scoliosis. I wore a spinal brace for 23 hours per day, every day, from the age of twelve until the age of eighteen. You can imagine how cool I looked, walking around school in that. The experience toughened me mentally and physically. There were stares, questions, and plenty of pain. By the end I had convinced myself that none of it bothered me, but when offered a chance to wear the adult Spinecor brace, I burst into tears at the thought of putting on a brace ever again. I had a lot of negativity and self-consciousness stored up, just waiting to be channeled into Wake.

 

Jess: One of the things I love most about these books is their clean, direct style. Who has influenced you?

Abria:

I don’t know if I can pin it down to a definite source, because I read so much and always have. I suppose it boils down to the way I perceive tone and topic. I prefer florid language in the historical fiction I read, and spare language in contemporary fiction. I think sci-fi should be very detailed, but fantasy novels don’t have to be. I wrote in a style that reflects my tastes within the genre.

 

Jess: Your characters’ banter is so engaging. Willa, in particular, has a snarky sense of humour that cuts through bull and causes other characters to re-evaluate their behaviour. Where did you get the inspiration for her character?

Abria:

Willa is the person I would have been at seventeen if I’d had the guts to say what I was thinking every minute of every day. Willa feels that she has very little to lose, so she doesn’t care about offending people or being ostracised. She’s brash, but also clever and insightful, and that’s how she gets away with voicing unpleasant truths – sometimes.

Jem’s behaviour is a little closer to my actual teenage experience. He’s always putting his foot in his mouth and then wasting time by agonizing over it.

 

Jess: You’re a synaesthete. I know someone who sees music in shapes and colours. What kind of synesthesia do you have and how do you think it influences your work?

Abria:

I read in color, perceive sounds as colors, shapes, and tactile stimuli, and I perceive inanimate objects as having genders or personalities. Often tastes have colors, but that one isn’t universal for me. I don’t know that it really influences my work that much, but it definitely gives me a better-than-average memory.

 

Jess: How do stories germinate for you?

Abria:

They either start with a color or a character. With Wake that color was turquoise and it had a sound similar to the bridge of I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake. With one of my other projects, it was the color of the protagonist’s name. I rarely outline because I like having the freedom to let the characters surprise me. I find the story doesn’t grow organically when I outline, because I’m too focused on fulfilling a checklist of plot points.

 

Jess: If there’s one thing readers could take away from your books, what would it be?

Abria:

I think the value of my books lies in the way people use them to explain difficult situations or emotions to others. Over the past two years I’ve received emails from cancer patients and survivors who recognized themselves in the characters. Some of them couldn’t even finish the book because it cut too close to the bone for them. What these emails generally have in common is that the people writing them have used Wake to guide their friends and family into conversations about their feelings or experiences. The characters become stand-ins for their real-life problems, and it becomes easier to talk about it.

 

Jess: What’s the one thing you wish an interviewer would ask?

Abria: I guess, What’s the weirdest comment on your work that you’ve ever heard?

The answer would be: “I expected them to just stop arguing and start making out.” The person who said this was talking about the argument in the middle of Wake. That scene is loaded with tension, and in a typical romance book it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the protagonists let the passion of the argument turn into sexual passion. But I absolutely hate that. It’s such a cop-out, every time. If you’re going to start a fight between characters, finish the fight! It’s more believable, more satisfying for the reader, and better for you as a writer.

 

Jess: What do you think you might be doing 10 years from now?

Abria:

Pursuing world domination from a bunker in Greenland.

But seriously, being able to write full time someday would be sweet.

 

NOTE TO READERS: Wake is one of my favourite novels. I’m guest-blogging today at http://www.firstpagetothelast.com/ . Please visit to read my review.

You may visit Abria on her websites, http://www.abriamattina.com , http://www.shallwrite.com/ , and follow her on Twitter @AbriaMattina. Thanks for spending time with us today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narcissism 101: My Writing Evolution

Writer poster

Talking about how I came to be a writer feels awfully self-centered. But, what the heck?

When I was a rug rat, I got sick and my mother got super-anxious because the doctor didn’t take it seriously. Not even when I attempted to die. Ends up, I was diabetic and my blood sugar was over 800 (Old scale. I think that’s like having an A1C of 80 today. Normal is 5). My mother was told I wouldn’t live. I did. Then, she was told I wouldn’t walk again. I did. At the age of four, she put me in ballet. I danced until I was 16, when weak ankles prevented me from going en pointe.

Doctors don’t know everything.

My point? I think when I temporarily lost the ability to walk, my imagination took over. Like in Polyanna.

Boredom is a foreign concept. I think the only time I’ve ever been bored is when trapped in my Grade 9 (a.k.a. Freshman Year of high school) math class, with a teacher who said “Um… err,” every other word. It’s the only time I’ve ever considered doing violence. Seriously, abusing the English language like that? Grounds for mayhem. We spent four months learning how to do basic fractions. Sigh.

Why be bored if you can construct worlds in your head? Use your imagination, already!

9-19-2008_010 - Copy croppedI’ve always had an affinity for words. When I was two, I told my doctor that after someone took a bath, there was condensation on the toilet, which vibrated when flushed.

(Did I mention I was weird eccentric? Might as well put that out there right now.)

By the time I was three, I was reading and writing. Somewhere, my mother has a recording of me reading The Fwee Littoh Peegs. I think she played it for every friend I ever had. Most of them did not run away screaming. Yeah, I had good friends.

When I was five, I had a (very) short story published in an educational tome. I’m still fond of that story. That was likely the first time I said, “I want to be a writer.” I have a binder of stories I wrote as a child. Who knows? Someday, I might update and publish them. Not exactly my normal area of concentration. *coughs –spicy romance- coughs* But hey, Judy Blume gets away with writing two disparate genres. Of course, she’s Judy Blume. She’s on Twitter, by the way. I tweeted with her once… *fangirl moment*

At eight, I read at an adult level. I was annoying like that.

As a hobby, in Grade 7 and 8, I wrote three reference book manuscripts about animals, birds and fish, complete with drawings. I showed them to my school librarian. I think he was gobsmacked that a kid my age would spend scads of spare time compiling reference material. Alien. He wanted me to publish, but I hadn’t credited my sources, so I couldn’t do anything with the manuscripts. Now, we have the Internet and kids don’t need books like that anyhow.

In Grade 9, I met my first mentor, a genius who had abandoned teaching in a prestigious university in favour of shaping young minds. His name was Merv Sharpe and I don’t think I’d be a writer today were it not for him. He’d scrawl pages and pages of English notes on five blackboards and when class was over, not a few kids were groaning and clutching cramped hands.

The majority of my friends were quirky. They’d have been the fringe kids today, probably. Most of the guys had mullets (except my pal Brian J., who was an army cadet). Most of the girls were a bit punk, with earrings in unusual places and dyed, spiky hair. I had a ducktail like David Bowie. I put this highlight-stuff on it that washed out. It was like gold paint and it came in a mascara-like tube. My guy friends were hooked on Metallica and Skinny Puppy, and the girls were into Billy Idol and Eurythmics. As for me, I was absorbing Bowie 24-7, with a dash of Sting and Peter Gabriel thrown in for kicks.

The kids a year older than me let me hang out with them in Art. The ones my age jammed in the music room during lunch hour. Great times.

Yeah, I’m nostalgic about the Eighties. Sue me. The clothes and hair were epic. I still wear my Esprit jean jacket, which cost me a whopping $50 back in 1986. Quality lasts.

I can still sing you any Bowie song up to 1989. Try me.

He’s still got it. Just sayin’. I really want to see his multimedia art exhibition, but it probably won’t happen for me.

I got Mr. Sharpe again in Grade 13 (a.k.a. Senior Year #2). I’d get my work done and my pal Brian J. and I would start exchanging notes and sketches. Mr. Sharpe noticed, and in the hope that he could prevent us from plotting world domination, he started passing us sheets of foolscap with one word (or phrase) at the top, written in red. B.J. and I would spend the rest of the class responding to the teacher’s note. We’d swap papers and read them, then, hand them in. I still remember some of those pages:

Why?

Would you rather be a legend or a myth?

Hero vs. heroine.

Astrology and astronomy.

Merv Sharpe taught me how to express opinions and emotion on paper. If I could see him today, I’d hug him. I missed seeing him at my 20th high school reunion. Boo.

In my teens, I dabbled in poetry. Somehow, I got a couple of poems published in a compilation. My family spent more buying half a dozen copies than I ever made off it, with good reason. I’d prefer that it never see the light of day.

University? I didn’t think a Lit degree would snare me a job, so I majored in music, specializing in Music Education. I’m a Dramatic Soprano. Betcha don’t know what that is! Technically, I can conduct a band or choir (You wouldn’t want me to). Plus, I tried out a bunch of instruments. Although I played a lot of flute, I cherish a secret hope to play the oboe professionally, but I don’t have the time to indulge every dream. I also loved bassoon, but I suck at clarinet. I minored in French, English Lit, and Psychology. My intent was to go to Teacher’s College, but my grandmother had Parkinson’s and I didn’t want to leave home. My mother worked and Grammie would have had to go into a nursing home. Not an option.

Then, I met Hubbs. I was his boss in the Opera Workshop program, where I was in charge of props and dressings. I took one look and thought, “I could marry him.” That was 22 years ago.

Later, I was a stage manager. We finished up school, then found out music degrees weren’t very handy. He decided to trade being an opera singer for accounting, and I took a six month course in Secretarial Sciences. That’s where I got my typing up to 90wpm. Need a job? If you’ve got a computer, take advantage of a free Learn to Type program and practice, practice, practice. Here’s one for you: http://www.typingweb.com/ All it costs you is time, and you can get all kinds of work out of it.

Motherhood. The only things I wrote for 12 years were letters to my children. And grocery lists.  Suddenly, Microsoft rocked our world. You might have known me in the Potterverse as Sculdermully. I may have written an online essay or three. I daydreamed Harry Potter and X-Files. I’m not sure I got a fair night’s sleep in ten years, but I read like a fiend.  Effectively, I was making up fanfic in my head, but never wrote anything down. And that’s because I don’t think you can improve upon JK Rowling. Chris Carter’s a fanfic writer’s dream, though.

People told me to read Twilight for months. I did, and was underwhelmed. But I took my kids to see it, and Boom! Robert Pattinson entered Stage Left. The whole Twiverse burst into colour and not long after, I discovered the world of fan fiction. I read everything I could find for about a year. Free stories!!! Then, I decided to take the risk of writing one of my own.

Amazingly, there was an audience for it.

Fan fiction is a wonderful way to train as a writer. Basically, you’re writing an old-fashioned serial novel and readers are glad to give you feedback on each chapter. If you’re fortunate, experienced editors are willing to train you, free of charge. As another plus, you meet other writers and you might even meet some professionals.

Why write someone else’s canon? Well, because we love the stories and characters and we have ideas of where we’d like to take them. Places the original author didn’t.

I read and review. A lot. About three years ago, I started paying the community back by editing for other new writers. Eighteen months ago, I was approached by a publisher to write an original novel. I wrote the manuscript, but they decided (after much debate) that a group of Italian-Canadian moms (age 45 to 60) wouldn’t use Facebook to match make their kids.

Um, that’s my age group. All my friends use Facebook. And I hate to tell you, but matchmaking’s not dead, even in Canada. Scary boo.

So, I’m going to start querying other publishers in about a week, once my kids’ birthdays have passed. I have to rewrite my synopsis and a new query letter before that.

This is an exciting life. I love mentoring, pre-reading and editing. It’s taken me nearly five years, but so would any education. And you can learn from any writer, even one who’s penning her first short story. You just have to be open to input. We all have lessons to learn.

I’m starting a new challenge in November: NaNoWriMo. The challenge is to write 50K in one month. I’ve never done NaNo before and it seems like a good way to chunk away at my next manuscript. I’m actually writing my original series out of order because the characters in Book Three just won’t stop yelling at me. I have 22K words of it, and I want to be at 75K by the end of November. Of course, real life happens and if I don’t get there, I know it will still happen.

crazy lemur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, who’s with me? Care to pick up your virtual pen for NaNo? Sign in, then look me up. I’m going to need your encouragement.

 

 

Cover Reveal: Sandi Layne, Eire’s Viking

At the end of Éire’s Captive Moon, many of my readers were still on

TA7

Well, in the second book in the Éire’s Viking trilogy, Agnarr is the hero.

EV6

Cover art by Megan Dooley, to be published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop

Summary:

It’s been years since Agnarr met his wyrd on the Green Island. Years since he left Charis, his former trell and medicine woman, with her new husband in her new village. Even though he lost her, he cannot help but feel his destiny lies with her people of Éire, so he returns with his final raiding party. Once there, a chance encounter strikes him speechless and without his memory, alone in a foreign land.

He is taken to Aislinn, a physician who is serving in Bangor Monastery. Born in Ragor, the village Agnarr destroyed when she was a child, she is now the adopted daughter of Charis and Cowan, and has herself trained in healing. Drawn to her tall, blond patient in a way that she never has been to a man before, she is horrified and angry to find that he is the one responsible for the loss of her home.

These are turbulent times in Éire, and there are volatile tempers all around. Still, Agnarr Halvardson would stay on the island, wed, and sire sons to live in strength and plenty in his adopted home. He wants Aislinn to be his wife and the mother of his children, but she won’t marry without love. He worships Thor and Odin; she worships Jesu the Christ. Can two from such opposing backgrounds find happiness with one another? Might they even find a love that will change both their worlds?

This title will be available via NetGalley in October for reviewers, with a January, 2014 book release.

The first book of this trilogy, Éire’s Captive Moon, is available here:ECM small

Amazon Kindle, Paperback

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House

 

Congratulations Sydney Logan on the First Anniversary of Lessons Learned

September 6 marks the one year anniversary of the release of Sydney Logan’s debut novel, Lessons Learned. To celebrate, Sydney is offering a fantastic giveaway! The Blurb:A young girl needs to spread her wings, but a young woman needs roots.

English teacher Sarah Bray never thought she’d return to Sycamore Falls, but a traumatic event at her inner-city school leaves her desperate for the sanctuary of home. By returning to her roots, an older and wiser Sarah hopes to deal with the demons of her present and confront the ghosts of her past.
She discovers a kindred spirit in Lucas Miller, a teacher from New York with demons of his own. As the newest faculty members at Sycamore High School, they quickly become friends – bonding through Lucas’s culture shock and their mutual desire to build new lives. When they open their wounded hearts to each other, their friendship effortlessly evolves into romance.

Their love is put to the test when Matt, the quarterback of the football team, shares his deepest secret with Sarah. When the conservative community finds out, Sarah and Lucas – along with the town of Sycamore Falls – are schooled in the lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and love.

Praise for Lessons Learned

“Lessons Learned is a book that isn’t easily forgotten. I urge you to give it a read. You won’t regret it. Also, did I mention it starts with a bang? Talk about the best prologue ever. -JM Darhower, author of Sempre
“I haven’t read a book in a long time that I can compare to my favorite author Nicholas Sparks. THIS book is that book.” – Becky, Book Blogger

 

To thank her readers for an amazing year, Sydney is celebrating with a giveaway! You can win a signed copy of Lessons Learned and a $25 Amazon or iTunes gift card! The Rafflecopter is below. 

Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, iTunes, or Blogger. We hereby release all names listed of any liability. Winner(s) will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. Let me know if you have any questions or issues by contacting me: @SydneyALogan. – Good Luck!