Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

Author Mary Cunningham is excited to announce the release of the 5th and final book in the award-winning series Cynthia’s Attic, “The Legend of Lupin Woods” (as usual, it’s filled with fun, time travels, colorful characters, unexpected twists and… yours truly is in it!).

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5)

Cynthia and Gus have solved a lot of mysteries across time, but something is seriously wrong and things are beginning to unravel.

Aunt Belle is missing…again! Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau, was never found! And now they are wondering if Blackie is still making life miserable for Lilly and Annie.

This time, the twelve-year-old girls journey into a strange woods full of frightening creatures and dark secrets in search of answers.

From Aunt Belle’s cottage to a small village in France, they meet new friends and discover a connection to New Orleans that may lead to the devious source behind these alarming developments. Or bigger trouble.

 

Read an excerpt from Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods

My back pressed against a small tree as I peered over one shoulder, then the other. More blackness. I pulled my knees tight to my chest to create as small a target as possible. If I could keep still until morning, this place might be less formidable.

Those eyes … did they just move? Hair stood straight up on my neck as a low growl inched ever closer. I sucked in one last breath and hid my face waiting for a fatal blow or bite.

“Well, well. What do we have here?” My head jerked skyward. Yellow eyes hovered over me. “Cat got your tongue?”

The creature bent down and poked my upper arm with a furry finger. I wanted so badly to run, but sheer terror kept me plastered to the tree.
The hulking figure straightened and chuckled. “I’m not planning to hurt you. What are you doing in Lupin?”

Lupin? I tried to answer, but dryness gripped my throat as if I’d swallowed an entire sandbox. Plus, an ominous word jumped into my brain. I’d heard something that sounded a lot like lupin once before. It was at the movies! Wolfman. Oh, no. Lupine is another name for wolf! Was I in a wolf forest?

My eyes scanned the treetops. I might be saved if the sun rose soon, but light would have to pass through the dense canopy, and from where I sat, that seemed doubtful. The beast must’ve read my mind.

“If you’re waiting for sunrise, you’ll be disappointed.” It smiled–or made a weak attempt–revealing huge, pointy teeth. “Instead of night and day, around here we have night and black.”
I gulped and finally manufactured enough spit to choke out four words. “Why-am-I-here?”

Visit Cynthia’s Attic Blog for a schedule of The Legend of Lupin Woods Blog Tour!
http://cynthiasattic.blogspot.com/2012/05/cynthias-attic-legend-of-lupin-woods.html

 

Mary Cunningham: Like Cynthia and Gus, my childhood best friend, Cynthia and I grew up in a small, Southern Indiana town…the setting for the series. Not one summer day passed that we weren’t playing softball, hide and seek, badminton, or croquet with friends in the vacant lot behind Becky’s house.

In my attempt to grow up, I joined The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club. When giving my fingers a day away from the keyboard, I enjoy golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where I live with my husband and adopted furry, four-legged daughter, Lucy. Together we’ve raised three creative children and are thrilled with our 2 granddaughters.

At last count, I’ve moved 9 times to six different states (all after the age of 36), and aside from the packing and unpacking, it’s been a great experience, having made some very dear and lasting friendships. My non-writing time is spent showing power point presentations on gathering ideas and the writing process to schools and libraries.

Mary Cunningham Books
http://www.marycunninghambooks.com

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Cynthia’s Attic Series for ‘Tweens on YouTube

Best-selling and award-winning author Holly Black pays me a visit. She answers my questions about writing, getting published, the Spiderwick series  and tells us more about her upcoming books…

Hi Holly, welcome on “Veronika Asks” and thank you for being here! How would you describe yourself in three words?
I’m Holly Black is three words!

You’re Scorpio, aren’t you? The stars say they’re often determined and intuitive, but at the same time secretive and obstinate. Do you consider yourself a typical Scorpio?
I believe in astrology in a very general way – my father-in-law is an astrologist, so I have to believe a little!  I certainly fit lots of the descriptions of Scorpios

Can you spill a few secrets about those of your books that will be (has been) released in 2009/2010? I’m talking here about “The Wyrm King: Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles”, “The Good Neighbors: Kith”, “Poison Eaters & Other Stories” & “The Good Neighbors: Kind”.
Hrm.  The only secrets I have to share on the Good Neighbors series is that the last book, Kind, comes out Fall 2010.  The whole series was based on certain kinds of betrayals.  Book 1 was about family betrayals, Book 2 is about betrayals in love and Book 3 is about betrayals of self. Muahahaha.
The Poison Eaters and Other Stories is a collection of my short stories.  I wrote two new stories for the collection, one set in the Modern Faerie Tale world.

“Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale”, published in 2002, was your first novel. What gave you inspiration for a faerie tale? Was the road to the publishing house quick and easy or long and tiring?
The longest and most tiring part of my road to publication really was learning how to write a good book.  It took me many years for Tithe to get into any kind of decent shape. I was lucky enough to find an editor who loved the book fairly quickly, but if I hadn’t spent all that time writing and rewriting it, I don’t think I would have had such a positive experience.

How do you work? Do you have some rituals or habits?
I don’t have too many writing habits, but I do a lot of my writing at night and I do a lot of it with headphones on, so I can listen to music and shut everything else out.

If you could give only one advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
I would advise them to read everything — read books in familiar and unfamiliar genres, read nonfiction, read the backs of shampoo bottles — and to write a ton, and to find a critique partner.  Not only is it great to build up a skill in critiquing another person’s work, but having a trusted reader to tell you when a scene is good and when it isn’t is invaluable.

You write mainly fantasy and horror for teens and children. Why those genres in particular? You have been living in a “decrepit Victorian house” when you were little. Did this influence your writing?
I write the kinds of stories I most love to read – dark fantasy, capers, and urban fantasy.  I don’t know if growing up in an old, decrepit house had a direct influence on the kinds of stories I had to tell, but certainly my childhood did.  I grew up absolutely believing in the fantastical and it is very easy for me to get back into that frame of mind.

A lot of adults read your children books. How do you explain such a success? Are you writing for a certain audience or “just writing for yourself”? Why do you think people are so attracted to fantasy, faeries and magic?
I think that everyone is intrigued by the idea that the world could be bigger and stranger than what we see – that out of the corner of our eye we might be able to glimpse something more.  But I do mostly try to write for my reader-self.  I try to write the stories that I think I would love.  I am really happy that other people — kids, teens, adults — like them too.

You said you’re living in an old house with a secret library. If we’d manage to sneak into the library, what kind of books could we find there?
My library has a big folklore and myth section, a lot of fantasy novels, and a lot of comics.  I think the most surprising thing I have is a ton of true crime.

Why this love for spooky dolls and hats?
Ever since I was a kid, I have loved dolls.  I never stopped.  They are like tiny, very still people. I love hats because they are so dramatic!

You’ve probably been asked if you believed in faeries a hundred times. Let’s ask the question another way: some people say you never invent anything, that everything that comes to your mind as an idea is already existing somewhere. Do you think there’s a Spiderwick somewhere? Would you go there if it really existed?
You mean a Spiderwick estate or an Arthur Spiderwick?  I absolutely think there are researchers like Arthur Spiderwick who look for evidence of faeries.  In fact, quite a lot of faerie folklore has been collected by people, like Robert Kirk or Dermot MacManus or even William Butler Yeats, interested in finding proof that faeries exist.

Do you celebrate Halloween? If you do, how?
In recent years, I haven’t gotten to celebrate Halloween, despite my great love for it.  The World Fantasy Convention is often the same weekend and doesn’t allow costumes.  When I am home, though, we usually throw a party, complete with fog.  Last year we had a dinner party where we served insects and other seasonal delights.

If you had a magic wand or if a genie granted you three wishes, what would you wish for? If you could be turned into a fantasy character, who would you be?
Oh, I would puzzle over three wishes forever – but I would never wish to be a character in a novel.  Their lives are too miserable.  It must be awful to be a protagonist!

Imagine for a second you’re not an author/artist anymore. Which job would you pick?
I’d probably be a librarian.  I was in library school when my books came out and I really loved it.  I never finished.  I wouldn’t mind going back.

What about your projects? What are you working on right now?
My new series is called The Curse Workers and the first book is White Cat.  They are caper mobster fantasies set in a world where one in a thousand people have the ability to cast curses, and magic is illegal.

And of course, I can’t do without the “Nothing-to-do-with-books-question”: you’ve found $100, how will you use your newly acquired money?
Books!


“Favorite…”

Author & Book: I couldn’t possibly choose just one.
Movie & TV show: My recent most favorite film is probably Brick.  And I have been loving True Blood on HBO.
Food: Korean BBQ.
City: New York.
Music: I’ve been listening to a lot of Rufus Wainwright.
Hobby: Reading.
Place to write: My new office!
Quote or Motto: Coffee: you can sleep when you’re dead


“Tea or Coffee?”

Saturday night. Disco & Restaurant or Home, Books & DVDs? Books
Going on holidays. Beach or Mountains? Beach
Sleepy Little Town or Crazy Megapolis? Both
Pick a DVD: Comedy or Weepy Drama? Neither
Like To Travel or Hate to Move? Both
Sport Lover or Couch Potato? Couch potato
Leader or Follower? Loner
Shy or Easy-going? Socially anxious
Serious or Funny? Mostly serious.  Mostly.

Thank you, Holly!
You can learn more about Holly Black and her books at http://www.blackholly.com/

Rachel CaineBest-selling author Rachel Caine answers my questions about vampires, music and Halloween memories and tells us more about her upcoming books & scary urban legends…

Hi Rachel, welcome on “Veronika Asks” for the October special! Would you please say a few words about yourself?
Thanks for having me here, Veronika! I’m very honored.
About myself: a former editor (and current bestselling author!) has described me as “the most together crazy person you’ll ever meet.” That pretty much sums me up, I think. I’ve been writing professionally since 1991, and I started writing when I was 14 years old, mostly stories for my friends. I still have a day job, and I write about a million words a year on my own books and stories. That pretty much sums me up.

How would you describe yourself (then your books) with three words?
Me: crazy, meet normal
My books: normal, meet crazy

You’re Taurus, aren’t you? It is written in the stars that they are usually patient and warmhearted, but also possessive and inflexible. Did the stars get their facts straight about you? Are you a typical Bull?
Hmmm, half right? I think I’m pretty patient (mostly) and warmhearted (mostly), but I’m really not very possessive, and I don’t think too many people would think of me as inflexible. Unless Gumby is inflexible.

Can you tell us more about your “Morganville Vampires” series? “Fade Out”, book seven in the series, will be out in November 09. Can you spill a few secrets? How many books can we expect in the series?
Secrets … Oh, we still have a few of those in Morganville, for sure! And Claire & Co. are about to trip right over one of them, in the form of Kim, Eve’s new friend. Kim’s not new to Morganville, but she is new to our little group of friends, and she brings a whole new kind of crazy to the mix. For one thing, she maybe kind of still has a crush on Shane. For another, she’s got her own plan on how to get out of Morganville — and it won’t be pretty. Currently the publisher has agreed to nine books in the series, but I’m hoping that we’ll continue on even past that. Can’t swear to it, though.

Nowadays, many authors write about vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters. Why did you pick vampires? Do you think they are now a part of Pop Culture?
I started writing vampires back in the old Anne Rice days, so I’m sort of a holdover, you know? But vampires have been part of the literary and stage scene since the late 1800s, so in a sense they’ve been around a whole lot longer than many people realize. And part of the reason is that they’re so adaptable. Vampires used to represent the unknown, death, decay — real horror. By the time Dracula was written, vampires were more about how the Victorians viewed sex and lust. By the 1970s they were starting to become more of the dark, brooding hero that’s become so popular — but vampires split off into even more of a horror vein too. By the 1980s you could find good guy AND bad guy vampires side by side on the shelves. These days, the romantic vampire is still more popular, but I kind of enjoy playing with the bad-guy vampires, too. 🙂

So to sum up … ah, yes. I think vampires are here to stay.

How do you work? Do you have some rituals or habits that help you?
I have to have music. Headphones, preferably, and I tend to put together custom playlists for each book that helps me get through the rough patches. I like to write early in the mornings, and luckily, my local Starbucks opens at 5:30, so I hit that before I go in to my office at 8:30. On weekends, I work at writing until noon, maybe longer if I’m on a tight deadline.

You’ve been a musician before you started writing books (Rachel played with legends Peter Nero and Henry Mancini, to name a few). Why did you switch to writing?
Both writing and music are really, really time consuming as part-time occupations … and I just didn’t have enough time to be good at both of them. I didn’t really want to compromise what I loved, so I decided to give up the music and go with the writing. Seemed like a bad choice at first, but I think I might have done okay with it. 🙂

Was the road to the publishing house quick and easy or long and tiring?
Er … can it be both? Because it really was. I got very lucky and published my first four books pretty easily, but then things got a little hard. I hadn’t really sold a lot of copies, so I had to rethink what I was doing and figure out a better way to do it. I went through three publishers before I started really having success, with the Weather Warden novels.

If you could give only one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Be patient. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon; you’ll have setbacks, and lots of days it’ll seem like there’s no reason to get up in the morning. But if you’re dedicated, luck may find you!

I’ve read that you returned to a full-time job in 2008. You’re “Director of Corporate Communications for a large multinational company”. How can you cope with a full-time job and several novels a year (I count five of them for 2009!)? What is the secret?
Becoming REALLY boring. Seriously. I get up, I write, I go to work, I go home, I return email, and I rinse and repeat. Every once in a while I have to sleep in and get 8 whole hours of sleep, but normally I’m squeaking by on 6 or so, which is not a thing I recommend as a lifestyle.

The secret really is to have an understand family AND an understanding company to work for. Because it really takes both for this to work.

If you had a magic wand or if a genie granted you three wishes, what would you wish for? If you could be turned into a fantasy character, who would you be?
Funny you should ask that, since I write about genies (or Djinn) in two of my series! I think I’d wish to be aging in reverse, like Benjamin Button. Because by the time I got to my hottie years, I’d actually know what to do with them. Either that, or world peace. But probably that first thing.

If you could trade places with anybody for one day, who would that be?
That would really depend on the day! But most days, I think I’m pretty happy where I am. I like visiting other people, but I wouldn’t want to be them!

Do you celebrate Halloween and if you do, how? Do you have a best/worst memory related to Halloween you’d like to share?
Best Halloween ever was working in a big haunted house, with lots of secret passages; I got to dress up and be a ghost and scare people. I like BEING scared a whole lot less. That brings me to my worst Halloween memory, when I got taken on a horror ride at an amusement park and ended up hysterical. They had to shut down the ride to take me off. EMBARRASSING!

I’ve heard you just love movies. Can you advise us a few good Halloween flicks?
ALIEN and ALIENS still scare me. Oh, and THE RING. For good vampire films, how about BLADE and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN … I love them for entirely different reasons.

Talking about that, do you have some favourite Halloween-themed books?
Shirley Jackson’s HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. And Stephen King’s SALEM’S LOT.

What are you working on right now?
I’m finishing up Book 8 of the Morganville Vampires series, KISS OF DEATH! I also have a short story to do soon.

Do you want to add something, Rachel?
I get a lot of questions about whether Morganville will ever become a film or TV show; I can tell you that it’s been optioned by a producer, and we’re working on it, but it’s never a sure thing. Keep your fingers crossed!

Simply can’t do without the “Nothing-to-do-with-books-question”: you’ve found $100, how will you use your newly acquired money?
Give $15 to five different people. And have lunch.


“Favorite…”

Author & Book: Roger Zelazny’s Amber series
Movies: Silverado
TV shows: Firefly
Food: Indian food
City: London
Music: Blues rock, baby. Joe Bonamassa!
Hobbies: Uh … does email count?
Place to write: Coffee shop
Quote or Motto: “No matter where you go … there you are.” Buckaroo Banzai.

“Tea or Coffee?”

Tea or Coffee? COFFEEEEEEEEEE. Preferably, mocha.
Saturday night. Disco & Restaurant or Home, Books & DVDs? Home, Books & DVDs!
Going on holidays. Beach or Mountains? Mountains!
Sleepy Little Town or Crazy Megapolis? Crazy Megapolis all the way, baby.
Pick a DVD: Comedy or Weepy Drama? Argh. Can’t things blow up? Probably weepy drama, then.
Like To Travel or Hate to Move? Love to travel!
Sport Lover or Couch Potato? Couch potato, sadly
Leader or Follower? Depends on the movement. 🙂
Shy or Easy-going? Can’t be too shy in this business!
Serious or Funny? Yes.

Thank you, Rachel!
You can learn more about Rachel Caine and her books at http://www.rachelcaine.com

Rachel’s Reading List for Halloween
Stephen King’s SALEM’S LOT
Shirley Jackson’s HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE

“Cynthia’s Attic : The Magic Medallion” by Mary Cunningham

Do you remember Gus and Cynthia, two girls living in the 60’s, who discovered a magic trunk they can use to travel in the past? The two girls are back in a second story, The Magic Medallion. The story takes place about a week after girl’s first travel. Now, they will to deal with “sinister clowns, stalkers on horseback, mystical forests, and the creepy, crawling curse”.

Those who loved The Missing Locket will enjoy the Magic Medallion even better, because it’s is greater and full of adventures, unexpected discoveries and it is also as fun as the Missing Locket. The characters are lovable and the story is never boring. Those who haven’t read the first novel won’t be lost, because Mary explains how it all started.

A great read for children! And, adults, read it with your children, you’ll see you’ll love it!

Veronika asks

Like it? Buy it!

Bonnie DobkinBonnie Dobkin talks about “Dream Spinner” and takes us into a whole new magical world! Doors are closing, get ready!

Hi Bonnie! Welcome on “Veronika asks”! If you could describe yourself with three words…
Brain never stops. (I’m always thinking, worrying, planning, worrying, dreaming, worrying…)

Now let’s talk a bit about “Dream Spinner”…Such an amazing idea! How did it strike you?
For those who haven’t yet read the book, Dream Spinner tells the story of kids who become trapped in a tapestry woven from their dreams. And believe it or not, the idea actually DID come from a dream, one I had many years ago. In the dream, some friends and I met a strange man. He showed us several vials, each filled with a colored, glowing liquid that sparkled like melted jewels. He tried to persuade us to drink the liquids, but something about him was a little frightening. He seemed emotionless, like his soul was dead, and he never smiled. I kept thinking that something wasn’t quite right, and that it would be dangerous to do what he said. And then he got angry.That was it. The whole dream. But it never left me, and eventually it morphed into an old man and a living tapestry.

Is it your first novel? If it is, how did you make your way through the publishing world? (even if it’s not, tell us!)
Yes, it’s my first novel. And it has a long, tortured history. I actually started it before my oldest son was born—and he’s twenty-two! I wrote a story I thought was good, and sent it out a few times. I got mostly form rejections, but then Margaret K. McElderry, a legendary children’s book editor, send me a personal note and two single-spaced pages of advice, saying that the story had a lot of potential if I was willing to work on it. Well, then my son was born, followed by two more, and between raising them and holding down a full-time job, the manuscript stayed in a drawer for twenty years. But I never forgot Ms. McElderry’s encouraging words. So a few years ago, I dragged the pages out of the drawer, rewrote the book entirely—about twenty times, I think!– and tried to get myself an agent. This meant more submissions, more rejections, and one agent who didn’t quite work out. Finally, I found Erin Murphy, a fantastic agent, advisor, and friend. She took me on, gave me great advice on how to improve the book, and then went and sold the thing!

I heard you’re planning a sequel…so, what will happen? 🙂
I do have a sequel in mind, and it will involve other trips into the dream tapestry to rescue more lost souls. Right now, though, I’m working on other projects: a collection of twisted tales about a very strange girl, and another YA fantasy that takes place in a world where adults have disappeared.

How do you picture your reader? You know, when you say that “there is somebody reading my book right now…”
Although I like to imagine both sexes, and all ages, reading the book, I have to admit I picture my reader as a clone of me at 14—intelligent, a dreamer, and lost in books and fantasy worlds.

You were in “Mad Mad House”, a reality TV show, a few years ago. That’s amazing! Tell us more about it? Why did you apply? You had really, really special roommates. How did you spend all this time with such special people? All stories are welcome 🙂
Where do I begin? Mad Mad House was a reality show on the Sci-Fi channel in which ten “normals” lived in an Addams family-type mansion with five unusual “hosts”—a Wiccan, a vampire, a modern primitive (a man who was tattooed and pierced from head to toe, and who hung from hooks threaded through his back), an African priestess, and a naturist—that is, a nudist and raw food expert. The idea was to see who would be most open to the alternative lifestyles of our hosts.I got on the show totally by accident. I’d seen the audition notice in the Chicago Tribune, and called the phone number to sign up my oldest son. At 19, he was too young. So they suggested I come down instead. I laughed, because I was about to turn 50—not your typical reality show contestant. And then I figured, why not? I’d played it safe most of my life—why not do something totally out of character and really, really stupid?Well, I got cast. And it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. I’d always considered myself open minded, but now I know that I can share a spiritual sisterhood with an African priestess, enjoy the company of a vampire, and consider a tattooed, pierced individual one of the sweetest, dearest men on earth. I’m still quite close with them and several of my other housemates.No, I didn’t win. But I was eliminated because, in a weird way, I was TOO accepting of the alts. They told me that I’d grown all I needed to, and that it was time to see if my younger housemates could “fly” without me. Dang.(I did have a winning moment, though. The alts staged a bizarre competition where the normals were seated in deep pits, covered with mud, feathers, honey, animal organs, dead fish, and rotten vegetables, and told to find five “sacred objects” buried in the muck. I won that contest! And as I strode from the pit, I uttered a now famous “to Mad Mad House fans” cry: “I AM a goddess, dammit!”

How do you usually work (when, where…)?
Since I have a full-time job in educational publishing, and a family, I work late at night, usually curled up in a chair with my laptop. But I also work whenever I can find a free hour and a quiet place: on planes, on beaches, or in my back yard on a lounge chair.

What about the writer’s block?
I have it constantly. I get to a certain point in a story and the story just stops flowing. My agent advised me to just move on to something else, and something else again if I have to. So I have several chapters written for several books. But I finally had a breakthrough on one, and it’s going very well.

Do you have some piece of advice for aspiring authors?
Read a lot of the genre you’d like to write yourself, and then write as much as possible. Just as important–develop a thick skin and be willing to take and learn from criticism. The first drafts of Dream Spinner were full of terrible bits of writing, and I didn’t even know it. Luckily, others did and showed me the error of my ways.

And now the nothing-to-do-with-books question : You’ve just found $100 in your pocket, how will you use that money?
I’d squirrel it away until I saw something that I normally wouldn’t buy. Then I’d buy it.


“Tea or Coffee?”


Saturday evening. Going out or reading a book ?Dinner and a movie. I love movies.
Holidays. Beach or Mountains ?BEACH!! Pounding surf, a strawberry daiquiri, and a book equal heaven, as far as I’m concerned!
Country or City ?I love the life force of a city. Though I’ve been to Italy and could definitely live Under the Tuscan Sun in a charming old house near a town full of quaint and eccentric people.
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?) ?Almost anything—comedy, drama, animation, sci-fi, horror. (One of the reasons my husband fell in love with me was because I was the only girlfriend in his group of friends who’d go to see Alien when it came out.)
Shy or Easy-going ?Shy and insecure. But few people know that because I’ve gotten good at pretending to be otherwise.
Serious or Funny ?Both, depending on the circumstance. But not hysterical-funny. More amusing-funny.
Traveler or not ?YES. I’ve been all around this country, and I’ve worked on a kibbutz in Israel, gone to England, Italy, Mexico, the Bahamas, and Hawaii, and I’m planning a trip to Greece. And I want to do more and more and more.
Sporty or not ?Your basic klutz. Though I just learned to scuba so I’m feeling quite proud of myself!
The leader in the group or not ?I manage 40 people at work. But in my personal life, I’d rather someone else took charge. Trouble is, if they don’t take charge well, I start opening my mouth…

“Favorite…”

TV show : LOST, Grey’s Anatomy
Movie : Feel-good movies, like American President or When Harry Met Sally
Book : My favorite one growing up was The Secret Garden, followed by Jane Eyre. Today, I have too many favorites to list.
Music : Broadway. In my next life, I’m going to be a musical theatre star.
Food : Chocolate anything
City : Chicago (my home town…)
Favorite place to write : the comfy chair in my living room
Quote or motto : stolen, I think, from Disney World—“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Thank you, Bonnie!
You can visit Bonnie’s website http://www.bonniedobkin.com

Terie GarrisonDragons and Seasons’ Magic talking with Terie Garrison. Discover a whole new world… and a very fun author!

Hi Terie! Welcome on “Veronika asks”. So, would you like to introduce yourself?
I’m Terie Garrison, and, to paraphrase the AA intro, I’m a writer. For some reason I can’t understand, people think the writing life is glamourous. Me, all I do is work, read, write, and look after my house, cats, and garden. But I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. It’s just not exactly exciting…except for inside my head where I get to watch the ‘movies’ of my stories play out as I write them.

If you could describe yourself with three words…
Weird, peculiar, strange. (That’s what people have been calling me all my life, so I might as well roll with the punches.)

Now let’s talk a bit about “AutumnQuest”… How did you get that idea?
In May 2002, I went to a children’s writers conference in Greece. There was an editor there who edits what you might call ‘literary fantasy’–not just sword and sorcery, but books focused on characters. I wanted very much to be published by this editor, but I didn’t have anything suitable for her at the time. A month or so later, I read a notice about another editor looking for series, particularly ones with dragons. Fantasy is my first love, although I’d long abandoned it, both reading and writing. But I’d started reading it again about a year before the Greece conference.Well, all of the above combined…one editor wanting character-driven fantasy, another wanting dragon-related fantasy, my newly reborn love of reading fine fantasy (I think I was on a Robin Hobb kick at the time). Then I bought some crystals at a mind-body-spirit convention (lapis lazuli and fluorite, for those who might be interested), and a few days later, the first line of the book popped into my head: ‘When my brother told me it was a dragon egg, of course I didn’t believe him.’ From there, it was a matter of writing Donavah’s story. And rewriting it and rewriting it and rewriting….And now AutumnQuest is a real live book!

Why do you write fantasy and not another genre?
I don’t work exclusively in the fantasy genre. I have ideas percolating in a variety of genres. I’ve written a sports novel, but it, like most first novels, is stashed away in the bottom drawer not likely to see the light of day again. I’m also working on a mainstream novel dealing with forced marriage. And I have a few more fantasy books in mind, too. And some adventure books. And, well, whatever the muse delivers. As a friend of mine says, ‘Don’t wee on the muse.’

Tell us a bit more about the sequel, “WinterMaejic”…
Like the season of Winter, it is dark and introspective. Donavah goes through some intense ‘learning experiences’, that is, she begins to learn about the power she was born with. I hate spoilers, so I don’t want to say too much more than that.

I suppose there will be four books in the serie. Am I right? 🙂
Yes, indeed you are! There are, of course, two further books, one for Spring and one for Summer. These don’t have formal titles yet, but the books carry on the story to its conclusion. All four books reflect the Earth’s life cycles, with the Spring one bursting with life and newness, and the Summer one sorting things out into their bright new patterns.

You said you wanted to write since you were 10. Why?
Other than reading, studying, and doing my homework, I wasn’t really any good at anything as a child, not anything that other kids recognized, anyway. Other kids were funny, or good at sports, or at playing games, or at singing or playing a musical instrument. I was good at reading…oh boy. When my fifth-grade teacher made a BIG deal about some limericks I wrote, it finally clicked: I was good at writing. Since I also loved reading, from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to write things that others could read and enjoy as much as I did the books I read.

You started another series, called “The Book Addicts Club”. What can you tell us about it?
Well, I have to start out by saying that I haven’t sold it yet. It’s for younger kids, say 8- to 11-year-olds, and is about a group of kids who like to read. In the first book, there’s a new kid at school, and the main characters, Marcie and Gina, stumble across his secret. Adventure ensues. There’s an element of fantasy, as each book has a ghost, but the stories are mainly adventure stories.

How do you picture your reader? You know, when you say that “there is somebody reading my book right now…”
I envision a young person who likes reading not only for the story, but also for the actual writing. Story is, of course, the most important thing, but I appreciate fine writing myself and strive for my own to reach toward that ideal. Of course, I picture this reader curled up with my book, engrossed to the exclusion of just about everything else. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

How do you usually work (when, where…)? What about writer’s block?
For my job, I sit in front of a computer all day writing manuals for software. I can’t bear the thought of going home and spending more hours sitting in front of a computer writing. So I write my first drafts by hand. I bought a lovely fountain pen more than ten years ago, and all of my first drafts since then have been written with this pen. (It also turned me into a collector of modern Waterman pens, but that’s a different story.) Because I write with pen and paper, I can work anywhere: the sofa, the easy chair, in bed, out in the garden, at a park, in the town square. I’ve spent hours sitting at Stonehenge writing, and at lesser-known stone circles, you can actually sit there leaning against the stone while you write. Talk about inspiring!I’ve never had a problem with writer’s block, per se. My big problem is self-discipline–making myself sit down and write. On the other hand, I wonder if what others call ‘writer’s block’ is the same thing I call ‘lack of self-discipline’. I don’t think so, but I wonder sometimes.

What’s the most difficult when writing a novel?
For me, it’s often just making myself sit down and do it. As I said above, I don’t have as much self-discipline as I’d like. Also, because my day job is also writing, I spend a certain amount of my creativity there. Luckily, manuals are technical and so don’t often use up so much of my day’s allotment of creativity as to leave me dry when I get home.

Do you have some piece of advice for aspiring writers?
BIC: Butt In Chair. There’s a cliché that a lot of wannabe writers simply want ‘to have written’, but they don’t want to do the actual writing. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. To me, that’s what separates the wannabes from the real writers: whether they’re actually writing or not. And the only way to actually write is, well, to actually write–to put your rear end in the chair and do it.

Would you like to add something, Terie?
I guess what I’d most like to tell young people is to get comfortable inside your own skin. Be yourself and don’t worry about what others think. That’s hard when you’re a teenager, but I still think it’s a worthwhile goal to strive for.

And now the nothing-to-do-with-books question : You’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, how will you use it?
Buy something to treat myself–probably more books and candles, and maybe some new bubble bath.


“Tea or Coffee?”

Saturday evening. Going out or reading a book ?Read a book. Which pretty much IS what I do on Saturday nights!
Holidays. Beach or Mountains ?Definitely the mountains. I grew up in a beach city and beaches hold no charm for me. I love taking hikes in the trees, especially if I can sit somewhere and write for a bit.
Country or City ?Country. I grew up in the city. I don’t need the hustle and bustle of that; I prefer the slow quietness of the countryside.
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?) ?It depends on my mood. I do love period dramas. My favourite is the BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice.
Shy or Easy-going ?Mostly easy-going. Sometimes stressed and frazzled.
Serious or Funny ?I’d like to say funny, but I’m afraid I’m more serious than I’d care to admit. I used to be one of those very serious teenagers who took every little thing to heart. I’ve tried to lighten up at bit as I’ve gotten older.
Traveler or not ?I enjoy travel, but am naturally a home-body. I moved from Southern California to England in 2000, and I love to explore my adopted country. I usually take one or two week-long trips to a different part of the UK every year.
Sporty or not ?I used to be a long-distance cyclist, but I’ve not done much cycling lately. I do love going out for very long rides, but I’m not in shape for that anymore. And if it has a ball, Terie does NOT play.
The leader in the group or not ?Only reluctantly.

“Favorite…”

TV show: Star Trek: The Original Series and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Movie : Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (I cry at the end every single time)
Book : Can’t say just one. Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre, Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb–you better shut me up now before it gets out of hand
Music : David Bowie
Food : Spaghetti
City : Hard to say just one. I went to Berlin a few weeks ago for the first time and absolutely fell in love with it.
Favorite place to write : Outdoors in the English countryside, preferably in a place of historical significance, in the sunshine. Unfortunately, this opportunity doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like.
Quote or motto : ‘You must write for children in the way as you do for adults, only better.’ Maksim Gorky

Thank you, Terie!
Terie’s website http://www.teriegarrison.com

Kelly McClymerA magical interview with Kelly McClymer, author of “The Salem Witch Tryouts”  Wands in hand, get ready!

Hi Kelly! How about a few words about you?
About me? Well… I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve taken many detours in life and didn’t end up publishing a novel until 2000, a few years after I decided to write a novel instead of short stories. My first love is science fiction, but I read eclectically and voraciously, and I encourage others to do the same because it can be wonderful to find a familar old friend in a book, and it can also be electrifying to go somewhere you weren’t expecting when you read something different.

Virgos are usually shy, meticulous, quite reliable but quite overcitical. Do you think you’re a typical Virgo?
I’m definitely an on the cusp Virgo/Libra. I am horribly shy, have unmet aspirations toward being meticulous, and am–usually–five minutes early for appointments. One of my more frequent nightmares involves being late/remembering something I had to do when it is too late. I’m very hard on myself, but try not to be so on others–but am excellent at irritating everyone with my highly analytical examination of everything from why I like butter on my toast to why my characters act the way they do in my books.

Can you tell us more about “The Salem Witch Tryouts”?
“The Salem Witch Tryouts” is my first attempt at writing for young adults. In fact, when the idea came to me, my first thought (overcritical Virgo anyone?) was “What do you know about teenagers? You were a teenager in the dark ages!” Pru, my cheerleading witch protagonist, had no such qualms. She wanted me to write her story. So I put my doubts aside and wrote her story. I had a blast visiting someplace I’ve never been (I was the quiet newsletter editor in high school, my sport was bowling…don’t laugh!…and I did the makeup for our class musical SOUTH PACIFIC my senior year). The funny thing is, after I had written the first draft (which I dove in and wrote during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November), I realized that I was actually quite qualified to write young adult fiction. Besides have three children, two still in the teen years, I had been reading young adult fiction all along (aloud to my children, and to keep up with what they were interested in, as well). One of my favorite books is still Madeleine L’Engel’s “A Wrinkle in Time”, and my children (should I say offspring, since they are now taller than I am?) and I still discuss Harry Potter and the Animorph series of books that we read together.

Is “The Salem Witch Tryouts” your first book?
“The Salem Witch Tryouts” is my first young adult book written (but not published; the deal I had with my publisher was that I would write a book…”Getting to Third Date”… for their young adult romantic comedy line first, and then they would bring out the first Salem book while I wrote the second). I have also published seven historical romance novels and have about a dozen short science fiction stories that may yet see the light of day outside my filing cabinet drawer.

Why did you want a cheerleader to be the main character?
The cheerleading witch character came to me in one fell swoop when I misheard someone who was actually saying the Salem Witch trials. I had been a huge ‘Bewitched’ (the series, not the movie) fan, and I instantly pictured a modern version of poor Tabitha being yanked from a mortal school, where she excelled, and into a witch school, where she would be required to take remedial magic classes. Not that that would be bad enough, but the cheerleader aspect lent even more angst–cheering in 3-D has got to be more complicated, which would become obvious to her, of course, during tryouts. Although I wasn’t a cheerleader in high school, my daughter was for a year and I came to appreciate how much hard work, skill, timing, and risk there is in the sport (and it is a sport!). I knew that there would be room to play with the expectations some still have about cheerleading as fluff.

If you could have a magic wand, what would you do first?
Oh, that’s easy. I’d make everyone ease up on the whole ‘those who don’t do things like I do are wrong’ vibe that has pervaded the world since human beings started realizing they could throw rocks at each other.

How do you write? Wat do you do when comes the writer’s block?
My process changes with every project. When I first seriously started writing short science fiction (back in the Dark Ages), I belonged to a critique group that meant one Saturday a month. I’d think about the story I wanted to write for a month (while I worked, took care of my daughter, and went to school). On Friday night, I’d sit down at the computer and draft the story while my husband and I watched our favorite Friday night TV. Saturday morning, I’d revise, and head off to get the story slashed and burned by some excellent and insightful fellow writers. For Salem, I wrote the first draft in a month (as a challenge to myself, as part of NaNoWriMo, and because that worked best to keep out the doubts I had about being able to write young adult fiction without getting all preachy with it). For the sequel to Salem (“Competition’s A Witch”), I used a collage process, and took my AlphaSmart to Starbucks many days to just immerse myself in the story and avoid distractions like housework and TV (People’s Court rocks…how sad is that? 🙂

Could we know who drew the cover of “The Salem Witch Tryouts”? It’s lovely! Did you pick it yourself?
Kirsten Ulve did the cover (and the cover for the sequel, too, which also rocks, and I hope to be able to share it soon). I didn’t have a thing to do with it, except for saying that Pru’s hair was longish blonde and the school colors of the witches were orange, black and red…which, if you’ve ever seen my artwork, is a very good thing!

Do you already have another project?
I just finished revisions of the sequel for Salem, so I’m diving into a book that has been bedeviling me for about three months now. I don’t want to say much about it, except that I love it, and it represents another sharp left turn for me.

And now the nothing-to-do-with-books question : You’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, what will you do with it? Without thinking too much 🙂
No sweat! First stop, my local Borders bookstore. Load up on books. Second stop, my local Starbucks (not far from said Borders) for a venti caramel macchiatto (sp?). Then, phone off the hook and let the reading begin.


“Tea or Coffee?”

Saturday evening. Book or Disco?Book. Naturally.
Holidays. Beach or Mountains?Beach. I was born in Charleston, South Carolina and spent many a childhood hour on the beach at Sullivan’s Island. It’s in my blood.
Country or City?Country, with outings to the city.
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?)? Just saw Pirates of the Carribean 2. Loved it. I want III *now* (anyone got a preproduction bootleg copy?…I’d be willing to trade a goth 17 year old who should be out of braces soon…)
Shy or Easy-going? Both…most of the time 🙂
Serious or Funny? Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart (funny, with an edge of reality)
Traveler or not?Just call me the 10 Percent Traveller–the rest of the time I’m a homebody.
Sporty Girl or Couch Potato?I was on the *bowling* team in high school!
Leader or Follower?Sometimes a leader. Reluctantly. I grok Orwell in Animal Farm. Power corrupts.


“Favorite…”


TV show: past tense: Buffy; present: Flip This House
Movie: right now? Pirates II
Book: To Kill a Mockingbird
Music: sappy, sentimental…and rock, of course
City: London
Place to write in: Starbucks
Sentence or motto: You never know until you try.

Thanks, Kelly!
Have a look at Kelly’s website: http://kellymcclymer.com