On Feb. 28, 2014 authors Christine Haggerty, Angela Hartley, and I held two creative writing workshops at Uintah High School in Vernal, UT. I talked about being an author and building craft skills and Angela gave a presentation about the power of synesthesia in writing. Synesthesia mixes the experiences of senses in powerful ways like tasting green or hearing chocolate. Angela then showed the students this image and asked them to write about it. Below are a few excerpts. For more examples, please see Christine or Angela‘s blog.
The fog descended through the trees tasting like soapy water. ~ Nichole
It was early morning and Samantha was already out running through the woods. ~Jeff
I bit my lips. They tasted sweet like the blossoms of the bush next to the road. ~Brianne
The sounds of a car and dogs behind him. Chester ran faster. He could almost feel the yelling coming from the ranch director. He was not going back to that place. ~Dalton
It had been weeks since Kasanalea had seen another person. ~Aspynn
Just as she began to feel the suffocating effects of the fog closing in, salvation came. ~ Jesse
As the sun finally began to rise, Kim breathed a sigh of relief. ~ Harmony
“I thought you said we would be safe here,” she accused. ~ Stacia
I was standing in the fog. Dark. Cold. I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear something. I shouldn’t be out this late. ~ Trestyn
Out of breath, my muscles aching. I sucked in the crisp morning air as I ran faster into the light. ~ Jaeley
Leaves scattered out of the way as we sped down the pavement. ~ Paige
On Thursday, February 27, 2014 authors Angela Hartley, Christine Haggerty, and I held two drama workshops at Union High School in Roosevelt, UT. I gave a short presentation about how writing is really for the dogs and then we workshopped five original scenes. The students’ performances were amazing. For more about our adventures, check out Christine and Angela’s blogs.
I don’t believe in writer’s block, even though I’ve been stalled out on book three in the Niuhi Shark Saga for several months now. It’s not that I can’t write—I’ve continued to write and even publish other works—it’s that I haven’t wanted to work on the series.
It’s not block, it’s apathy.
Part of the apathy comes from the publisher wanting to wrap it up as a trilogy instead of a five book series—oh, but Lehua, we’d like you to keep the third book’s ending open enough that if sales warrant it, there’s the option to write books four and five. In the meantime, we’d like to see something else. I could go on ad nauseam about the challenges of working with an understaffed, underfunded new publishing house, but if you’re a writer, you’ve heard it all before.
So five into three. Really three into one, since the first two are already published. No matter how you do the math, it doesn’t fit.
I thought about simply writing book three the way I originally envisioned it and then self-publishing four and five—heck, I’d give them away to anyone who asked.
But a series with three nice books sitting on a shelf and two only available on the nearest eReader didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what would. Some days I even convinced myself that I didn’t care, the same way people convince themselves that a large Diet Coke cancels out the buttered popcorn and peanut M&Ms they consume at a movie.
For the past year, every time I sit down to write I have to do it around the three-ton shark sitting on my keyboard. Go back to starring in Shark Week shows, I’d think. Aren’t there some white-bellied tourists from Wisconsin you can haunt? Unlike bigger budgeted publishing houses, in my experience, small presses don’t bug you much about deadlines, particularly when they’re busy trying to hook bigger fish.
It was therefore easy, sorta, to ignore Jaws Junior and the tsunami wave of story hovering over my head. Easy, that is, until book two started percolating through the kid-lit jungle net and kids started sending me email.
Aunty Lehua!!!!! I can’t believe you ended it that way!!!!!! What happens next?!!!!!!!
Middle grade readers love exclamation points.
They also send major guilt-trip vibes.
Working as a content editor with other authors made me realize my real problem wasn’t finding a way to tie up all the loose ends. It was reconciling what made sense in a third book based on the first two. In my head I had too much story. But if Zader chooses to do something else…
Suddenly, a completely new and different shape for a third book began to emerge. I bounced ideas off published authors who had read One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim, but had no preconceived ideas of where the story was heading. I then went to my ace in the hole—a few middle grade readers–and asked what they’d like to see in the last book. While radically different from my original ideas, the new book three made sense.
With a clearer vision in mind, I finally feel ready to write the last book of Zader’s Niuhi shark saga. The series will end, questions will be answered, and Zader’s journey will be worth it—both for him and the reader.
Cue the theme from Jaws.
Rounding out the week of cover reveals is Daddy Doin’ Work by Doyin Richards. Doyin started a parenting blog a couple of years ago and has a large social media following. Known for his down-to-earth, if you’re taking care of your own kids, it’s called parenting, not babysitting, approach to fatherhood, this book is sure to entertain, enlighten, and bring out the inner-dad in all fathers. From the back of the book:
Doyin Richards’s Daddy Doin’ Work: Empowering Mothers to Evolve Fatherhood answers questions about fatherhood that many women want to know, and does so in a no-nonsense and entertaining style that ladies will enjoy. Similar to how Steve Harvey’s best-selling title Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man empowers women to make smart relationship decisions by entering the minds of men, Daddy Doin’ Work empowers new mothers to enter the minds of new dads to change the perception of what should be expected from a modern father.
Readers will be exposed to the manipulative secrets of deadbeat dads, moms will learn practical tips to help hard-working dads understand that being a father encompasses more than paying the bills, and women in
relationships with amazing dads will learn methods to ensure their men stay on-track while inspiring more fathers to be just like them. Most importantly, women will be forced to take a long look in the mirror to
determine if they are part of the solution or part of the problem in shaping the behavior of modern fathers.
Vampires! Here’s the cover of the second book in the Blood Inheritance trilogy, Defiance by Adrienne Monson. From the back of the book:
Leisha and Samantha barely survived the vampires and immortals six months ago. Now, an explosive battle between the vampires and immortals seems imminent.
It’s more important than ever before that the prophecy child is found, but there’s a problem—Leisha has lost her powers. She seems like nothing more than a human. Her newfound humanity is further complicated when Tafari, her old lover, appears with a desire for reconciliation.
Can Leisha lock up the past to save those she loves? Or will fate tear everything from her once again?
And yes, I’ve even heard fans squeal when Adrienne signs a book. Readers of book 1, Dissension, can’t wait to see what happens next. Isn’t the cover stunning?
Web site: http://www.adriennemonson.com/
Continuing our cover reveals this week is Little Dead Riding Hood by the mother-daughter writing duo Amie and Bethanie Borst, the second in their Scarily Ever Laughter series for middle grade readers. From the back of the book:
You know things are going to suck when you’re the new kid. But when you’re the new kid and a vampire… well, it bites!
Unlike most kids, Scarlet Small’s problems go far beyond just trying to fit in. She would settle for a normal life, but being twelve years old for an entire century is a real pain in the neck. Plus, her appetite for security guards, house pets and bloody toms (tomato juice) is out of control. So in order to keep their vampire-secret, her parents, Mort and Drac, resort to moving for the hundredth time, despite Scarlet being dead-set against it. Things couldn’t be worse at her new school, either. Not only does she have a strange skeleton-girl as a classmate, but a smelly werewolf is intent on revealing her secret. When she meets Granny—who fills her with cookies, goodies, and treats, and seems to understand her more than anyone—she’s sure things will be different. But with a fork-stabbing incident, a cherry pie massacre, and a town full of crazy people, Scarlet’s O-positive she’ll never live to see another undead day.
Not even her Vampire Rule Book can save her from the mess she’s in. Why can’t she ever just follow the rules?
From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors: www.fromthemixedupfiles.com
Black Moon, the second book in Teri Harman’s witch fantasy trilogy has just released its cover. From the back of the book:
Simon Howard accidentally killed three people. Four months later, the nightmares won’t stop. Willa Fairfield, his girlfriend, his soul mate, wants nothing more than to help him move on. But guilt isn’t the only thing getting in Simon’s way.
When unexplained earthquakes hit the small town of Twelve Acres, and dozens of people go missing, the Light witches discover their most feared enemy, Archard, is still alive. Employing the twisted, dynamic magic of a legendary witch known as Bartholomew the Dark, Archard plans to exact his revenge and take control of the Powers of the Earth on the night of the black moon, a rare lunar event infamous for Dark magic.
As the Light Covenant fumbles to defend against Archard’s sadistic intentions, Simon’s magic grows inexplicably more powerful, even dangerous. Willa throws all her efforts into solving the mystery of Simon’s transformation, but when the events of the past storm into the present, the couple’s future changes forever.
I read an early version of this manuscript. Black Moon continues the adventures of Simon and Willa as they learn to control their powers and face the black coven. At times thrilling, heart-warming, and suspenseful, readers of Blood Moon will be delighted.
Here’s a first look at Matt Carter & F.J.R. Titchenell’s Splinters, the first book in The Prospero Chronicles. There’s a giftcard giveaway for this upcoming title on Goodreads. From the back cover:
Under ordinary circumstances, Ben and Mina would never have had reason to speak to each other; he’s an easy-going people person with a healthy skepticism about the paranormal, and she’s a dangerously obsessive monster-hunter with a crippling fear of betrayal. But the small town of Prospero, California, has no ordinary circumstances to offer. In order to uncover a plot set by the seemingly innocent but definitely shapeshifting monsters-that-look-like-friends-family-and-neighbors, the two stark opposites must both find ways to put aside their differences and learn to trust each other.
F.J.R. Titchenell and Matt Carter met and fell in love in a musical theatre class at Pasadena City College and have been inseparable ever since. Though they have both dreamed of being writers since a very young age, they both truly hit their stride after they met, bouncing ideas off of one another, forcing each other to strive to be better writers, and mingling Matt’s lifelong love of monsters with Fiona’s equally disturbing inability to forget the tumult of high school. They were married in 2011 in a ceremony that involved kilts, Star Wars music, and a cake topped by figurines of them fighting a zombified wedding party.
F.J.R. Titchenell’s blog: http://fjrtitchenell.weebly.com/
Matt Carter’s blog: http://mattcarterauthor.weebly.com/
F.J.R. Titchenell’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/FjrTitchenell
Matt Carter’s Facebook: www.facebook.com/mattcarterauthor
F.J.R. Titchenell’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/FJR_Titchenell
Matt Carter’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/MCarterAuthor
Splinters Goodreads page: www.goodreads.com/book/show/20860637-splinters
Isn’t gorgeous? This is the cover for Mojave Green, the second book in the Dimensions in Death series by the Brothers Washburn. Here’s the blurb.
Camm and Cal thought they had killed the unearthly creature that preyed upon the people in their isolated mining town deep in the Mojave Desert. Off at college, they feel safe, until they hear news that Trona’s children are still disappearing. Caught in that nightmare since childhood, Camm feels responsible for the town’s children. As her life-long best friend, Cal feels responsible for Camm. With unsuspecting friends in tow, they return to warn the town’s innocent people, but things have changed.
Death comes in a new form. The dimensional balance is altered. Crossovers multiply. The situation spirals out of control, and Cal is pulled into another world where his chances of survival are slim. Without Cal, Camm seeks help where she can, even from the dead. Soon, she is on the run from relentless federal agents, who are hiding secrets and pursuing their own agenda. The mysterious depths of the Searles Mansion may yet contain a key to stopping alien predators, if it is not already too late.
It sounds amazing. Be sure to pick up Pitch Green if you haven’t read it. You won’t want to miss a word.
A. L. Washburn and B. W. Washburn are licensed lawyers and full time writers, residing in Colorado and southern Utah. They grew up in a large family in Trona, California, a small mining community not far from Death Valley, and spent many happy days in their youth roaming the wastelands of the Mojave Desert. After living in Argentina at different times, each came back to finish school and start separate careers. Living thousands of miles apart, they worked in different areas of the law, while raising their own large families.
Each has authored legal materials and professional articles, but after years of wandering in the wastelands of the law, their lifelong love of fiction, especially fantasy, science fiction and horror, brought them back together to write a new young adult horror series, beginning with Pitch Green and Mojave Green. They have found there yet remain many untold wonders to be discovered in the unbounded realms of the imagination, especially as those realms unfold in the perilous wastelands of the Dimensions in Death.
I’m not sure if it’s his hands on the steering wheel or me in my seat, but the rain is turning to sleet as we wind up the canyon. I give him side-eye, my son now taller and broader than me with his shiny new driver’s license tucked in his wallet. His arms are relaxed, but I can see the tension in his jaw, the same line his father gets when I remind him about trash or the need to buy horse feed.
Pushing my foot through the passenger floorboards, I’m stressing him out.
I take a deep breath and count to five, but it comes out as a sigh.
His eyes get squinty and his shoulders hunch forward.
I count to ten this time and try not to breathe too loud.
When did I last check the tires?
“So you excited about speaking at the conference?” he asks.
“Really more trying not to throw up,” I say.
“You’ll be fine,” he tells me. “Want to stop for Coke or something? It might settle your stomach.”
When did we switch? Aren’t I supposed to be the one driving the car, reassuring, and giving dubious medical advice?
On one hand, there’s a maternal pride that I have shepherded a fussy, unwilling to nurse infant into a capable young man.
But I’m a really crappy backseat driver and the trickiest s-curves are coming up.
“Roads are getting a little slick,” he says. “I better ease off the gas a little.”
I count to three and think about daffodils and spring. It’s gonna be fine.