Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

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

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A few words from author friend Mary Cunningham:

“To kick off the release of Cynthia’s Attic: The Magician’s Castle, I ran a contest to name your favorite character in the Cynthia’s Attic Series. And, guess who won? None other than Veronika! The prize is to be cast as a character in Cynthia’s Attic: Legend of Lupinwold Forest (working title). She’s anxious to read how her character is developing, so here’s a short excerpt. Not too much. Don’t want to give away any of the mystery, but I hope you’ll enjoy a snippet of the latest Cynthia’s Attic adventure with Cynthia, Gus and Veronika.”

* * *

In trying to escape the boring summer of 1964, Cynthia and Gus, adventurous twelve-year-old best friends, discover a trunk in Cynthia’s attic that her family has possessed for three generations. The trunk has magical powers that allows them to travel through time solving mysteries and having adventures with their ancestors.

In the latest story, Cynthia and Gus journey to a small town in France to search for clues as to why all the mysteries solved in previous adventures are unraveling. In the village of Beauvais, they see a woman, Amelia, the girls first spotted making beignets in New Orleans (Curse of the Bayou: Book Three). Amelia runs a small pastry shop in town and her young daughter, Veronika, helps out when she can.

Veronika offers to show Cynthia and Gus an old monastery-school building where they might search for clues to solve this latest mystery.

* * *

Cynthia’s Attic: Legend of Lupinwold Forest – Excerpt: Chapter Five

I couldn’t argue that mother and daughter appeared as different as night and day. Amelia towered over us and her hair and eyes were the same color as the dark chocolate fudge my dad made every Christmas.

Veronika sensed my confusion and explained, “Maman claims I’m the image of my Grand-mère Colette, my papa’s mother. “She was born in the south of France, but claimed Irish ancestry, which must explain my blonde hair and freckles.”

I was quick to point out our common ground. “I take after my grandmother, too. And, Cynthia is the image of her great-aunt, Belle, so we all bear resemblance to one relative or another.”

“Aunt Belle lives in France,” Cynthia added. “In fact, we just came from her cottage.”

Veronika stopped walking and asked, “Really? Does she live close by?”

I held my breath while my friend answered since we never knew for sure where Aunt Belle lived except that her home was somewhere outside Paris.

“She lives in the countryside, outside Paris, but the village is so small I’m not sure it even has a name.”

“That’s quite possible. Many villages have no formal designation, but are known by a landmark or by the name of the original inhabitants,” Veronika said.

I sighed with relief when she continued to lead us past dozens of small shops and didn’t press for more information. Few of the stores contents were distinguishable, but one displayed candles in the window and another had baskets of fresh and fruit at the front entrance. One thing they had in common were “closed” signs displayed in each window. Despite my disappointment at not being able to investigate and sample more delicious food, we had to continue the mission.

Our pace quickened and we soon reached the outskirts of town.

“We’re here,” Veronika announced. “Big and solemn-looking, isn’t it?”

I couldn’t dispute that. The three-story, stone building, complete with bell tower, gave the appearance of a church rather than a school.

“It used to be a monastery,” Veronika answered, as if reading my mind. “I love the creaky wood floors, although it’s harder to sneak into class when I’m late for school. Would you like to go inside? The doors are open all summer.”

“Sure, why not?” It couldn’t look more depressing on the inside than the old elementary school Cynthia and I attended from kindergarten through fifth grade. To reinforce how old, my grandmother, Bess, went to high school there! During school, the janitor had a full-time job keeping wax on the worn wood floors and the principal spent winter months banging on the old furnace coaxing it to heat the three-story building.

Veronika led us through the massive double doors into a marble hallway. While the age of the building was apparent, the sounds from our footsteps echoed off huge wooden beams giving me a strange sense of historical significance and purpose. I could almost see monks in long robes roaming the hallways centuries before.

“This way!” Our new friend ran down the hallway, her laughter contrasting with the somber interior of the school. “There is supposed to be a secret passage somewhere near the tower stairs. I’ve never seen it, but my friend, Bridget swears it’s there, but I’m not sure how much to believe since she also swears her brother is a werewolf.” Veronika laughed. “I don’t think he is, but…he does have unusually long canine teeth.”

Cynthia laughed along with Veronika, but I didn’t find talk of werewolves the least bit funny. Ever since screaming and hiding my eyes through Wolf Man at the Dream Movie Theatre, I’ve imagined hairy, fanged faces staring in through my bedroom window! “She’s kidding, right?”

“Probably.” Veronika grinned. “Her older brother, François, is quiet and a little eccentric, but, other than extra long teeth, he doesn’t appear at all wolf-like.”

I paled and Cynthia snickered. “She’s teasing you, Gus. You’ll fall for anything.”

“Ha! I know she’s kidding.” Or is she? A shadow passed over Veronika’s face, but the moment I blinked it was gone and her sunny smile returned. Still, a shiver moved up my spine.

We ran up the stairs to the second floor and encountered a long hallway of closed doors—classrooms, I presumed. Veronika walked ahead, jiggling doorknobs criss-crossing from right to left, but everything was locked tight.

“Nothing so far.” She called over her shoulder. “I’m afraid Bridget teased about the secret passage, too.”

I didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed. All this talk of werewolves had me on edge, but our only recourse is finding clues to fix the mess that’s been created, or many people will to suffer. Aunt Belle, Beau, Cynthia’s whole family! Not to mention the effect on my family, particularly my grandma, Bess and me. One thing certain; we wouldn’t escape unscathed.

I couldn’t determine if my dark mood played tricks on my or if another shadow passed directly above me, but by the time I looked up, I saw nothing but the ornately sculpted ceiling.


Mary Cunningham

Mary Cunningham is the author of award winning ‘Tween fantasy/mystery series, Cynthia’s Attic. Her children’s mystery series is inspired by a recurring dream about a mysterious attic. After realizing that the dream takes place in the home of her childhood friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began.

She is also co-writer of the humor-filled, women’s lifestyle book, “Women Only Over Fifty (WOOF),” along with published stories, “Ghost Light” and “Christmas Daisy,” A Cynthia’s Attic short story.


Official website
http://www.marycunninghambooks.com

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Mary CunninghamMary Cunningham answers my questions about her time travel series “Cynthia’s Attic” and takes us through Time! Ready for a trip?

Hi Mary! Glad to welcome you on “Veronika asks”! Here we go! Please, introduce yourself to our readers…
Hi Veronika. It’s great to be with you. My husband, Ken, and I, are recent transplants to West Georgia. We have three grown children living in Kentucky, Michigan, and Iowa, and a thirteen-year-old granddaughter in Indiana. My dad was a journalist for many years and his human-interest stories sparked my love for writing.

If you could describe yourself with three words…
Compassionate, funny, insecure

Tell us more about “Cynthia’s Attic”. Especially about “The Missing Locket”.
I’m going to cheat and give this description right off the book.

Best friends, Cynthia and Augusta Lee, or ‘Gus’ as she prefers to be called, are as “different as bubble gum and broccoli.” They are, however, equal in their ability to get into trouble without much effort. In trying to escape the “boring summer” of 1964, the adventurous twelve-year-old girls stumble upon a trunk in Cynthia’s attic that has been in her family for three generations. They discover its mystical qualities when they are swept into the trunk and whisked back to 1914, literally into the lives of their twelve-year-old grandmothers, Clara and Bess. The mystery of a missing family locket is revealed, and Cynthia and Gus are compelled to solve its half-century disappearance. Their quest takes numerous twists and turns, including a life-and-death struggle on a large steamship traveling from England to America. Along with perilous escapades, they make important, sometimes humorous discoveries about their ancestors, and even manage to change history–for the better–along the way.”

The second book of the series, “The Magic Medallion” will be out in December 2006. Could you tell us more about what will happen?
Cynthia, Gus, magic trunk, time travel, more of the same…just kidding! At least in some respects. The girls still take that same magic trunk back to 1914 where an ill-fated trip to the circus leads to Blackie, a sinister hobo clown. Before Blackie can force them to become permanent clown troupe performers, the girls are rescued by Gabriella, a fortune-teller, and are entangled in the theft of her family’s treasure. Much to their dismay, Cynthia and Gus appear to be the family’s only hope of recovering a precious magic medallion. I truly enjoyed writing the Missing Locket, but I think The Magic Medallion is my favorite because a special character…a teenage cave guide…appears, out of nowhere, at an opportune time. My dad was a cave guide as a teenager. Hmmm? Could there be a connection?

How did you get this amazing idea? How (and when) did you start writing?
Interesting story. I’d just finished telling my best friend, Diana, about the recurring dream I’d had for almost 20 years, when I had a “light-bulb” moment. It occurred to me that the dream took place in the attic of my childhood friend, Cynthia. “Hmmm…” Diana thought. “Cynthia’s Attic. What a great title for a book!” The dreams stopped and the writing began. I decided it might be fun to write a “little” story about the dream and my fond memories of playing in Cynthia’s attic as a child. I should write a memoir! No…a picture book…maybe a song! (Good grief) Nothing seemed to strike me, so I just started writing. My four-page memoir eventually turned into a 33,000-word young reader novel, and took more than three years to write.
I began writing non-fiction…memoirs, mostly, but fantasy fiction is my true passion.

Are some characters from “Cynthia’s Attic” real? (Aunt Belle, Gus, Clara, or Bess…)
That’s the fun part! I just mentioned that Cynthia was my real childhood friend. Her character is loosely based, she wasn’t bossy, but was very pretty and petite, and, I don’t believe we ever had a fight. Clara is her real grandmother, and Bess is mine. I use family members in Book Two, “The Magic Medallion,” and also in Book Three (a work in progress),” Curse of the Bayou.”

How many books will the series count?
As many as my imagination can create! Three definitely, but we’ll have to see where the magical trail of Book Three, “Curse of the Bayou,” leads Cynthia and Gus.

If you had a trunk and could travel in Time, where would you go?
I’d go back in time to when my great-great-grandfather disappeared, and see if I could stop him from taking his ill-fated trip down the Mississippi to New Orleans (the basis for Curse of the Bayou). Although…if I stopped him, how would that have changed the life of my great-grandfather who had to take over raising his younger brothers and sisters when his father disappeared. Would he still marry my great-grandmother, or would his life have been altered? Would I even be here, writing books and talking to you??

How do you write in general (how, when, where…)? What do you do when comes the “writer’s block”?
I write exclusively in my office, sitting at my computer (although I will occasionally sit outside and take notes). I’m not as disciplined as most writers. If I don’t feel the words flowing within 5-10 minutes, I get up and do something else. I’ve found that if I force myself to write, it usually isn’t any good, and I have to spend more time rewriting, or end up deleting all. Usually, if I allow myself enough time, I can overcome writer’s block. I also depend on my husband to help me over “the block.” He’s had great ideas for new twists and turns in all three books.

Is “The Missing Locket” your first novel?
Yes. Before, I wrote mostly short, nonfiction, and wasn’t even sure I could write fiction until I began “Cynthia’s Attic.” Now it’s my passion.

Do you already have plans for an after “Cynthia’s Attic”?
I can’t even imagine life without Cynthia, Gus, and their magic attic! I may try another genre, but I don’t know, yet, what that would be.

And now the nothing-to-do-with-books question: You’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, how will you use that money?
Well, obviously $100.00 would be a nice “find” for any of us, but it would only be a temporary bonus. I’d give it to one of the animal shelters in the area because that money would help many, many, dogs and cats. I have a soft place in my heart for shelters because that’s where we found our dear, sweet, Molly, the smartest little brown dog this side of the Atlantic.

Will you visit me again to talk about the Magic Medallion? 😉
I would love to! When do we start??

Would you like to add something?
I’ve always had regrets that I didn’t talk to my grandparents so that I could find out about their childhoods, and hear stories about their parents and grandparents. One of my reasons for writing “Cynthia’s Attic” was so that I could create adventures that I thought they might enjoy…adventures that we could enjoy, together. It’s been a fun journey; one I hope will continue for a long, long, time. One more thing: Having moved to Georgia, I now live 35 minutes away from Cynthia! We hadn’t seen each other in more than 22 years, but have renewed our life-long friendship. It’s like we’ve never been apart.

“Tea or Coffee?”

Saturday night. Going out or reading a book ?Going out to eat!
Holidays. Beach or Mountains ?Mountains. I lived in Florida for many years, and got my fill of beaches. I’m now living in the gorgeous mountains of Georgia.
Country or City ?Hmmm. Country, with easy access to the City!
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?) ?Both! I love to laugh, but I love a good “tear-jerker,” too.
Shy or Easy-going ?Shy. Except when it comes to my books. They’ve given me the motivation to talk to large groups of people because I’m so passionate about them, and about writing.
Serious or Funny ?I’m a combination, although I’d rather laugh than be serious.
Traveler or not ?I think I’m a traveler at heart. I’ve moved 10 times in 22 years, and love the excitement of new people and new places. I do miss the friends I’ve left behind, though.
Sporty or not ?I AM Gus! A true tomboy. I’m a sports fanatic! I love to watch almost any sport on TV. I don’t play softball or basketball anymore, but enjoy golf, bike riding, and swimming.
The leader in the group or not ?Not! I’m a good worker, but not a good boss.

“Favorite…”

TV show: Ghost Whisperer
Movie : To Kill A Mockingbird
Book : Same as above! (To Kill A Mockingbird)
Music : Country
Food : Chocolate cake with chocolate icing (anything chocolate!)
City : New York City
Favorite place to write: my office
Quote or motto : “I live in my own little world, but it’s okay. They know me here.”

Thank you, Mary!
You can visit Mary’s site http://www.marycunninghambooks.com

Colleen WilliamsColleen Williams answers my questions about her life and writing and speaks about her books, My Adventures Series.

What would you like, first, to say to introduce yourself ?
I have an elementary education degree with an art minor from the University of Alaska at Anchorage. I graduated with a 3.89 GPA. I worked very hard to get this degree, then when I was ready to teach was diagnosed with breast cancer! I went through almost a year that was a combination of chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments for this. When I was done, I decided that before I tried teaching, I was going to give writing a shot. It had always been my first love. ( I have written since I was very young.) I started writing in 1999, and now have over a dozen books in print.

Your books (My Adventure Series) are very special, tell us more about them…
I love these books! They have blanks in the text so that the reader can add his/her own words to the story. This allows the child to add sensory details to the adventure, while going on a guided journey. There are blank pages where the illustrations should be, too. That way, the child gets to create the pictures that go along with the text. On the front of the book, there is a space for the child to put his/her name down as the author/illustrator of the adventure. I am listed as the “presenter.” I present the adventure, but the child completes it.

How did you publish your first book?
I answered an internet ad for what turned out to be a book deal with an editor working for Mason Crest Publishing. I sent in my resume with some published writing clips, writing samples, and a letter of interest.

Why did you choose to write for kids?
I wanted to use my education degree and teach, but through my writing. I loved writing lesson plans in college. I loved working on Language Arts and Art activities, but I didn’t like the idea of being tied down to a classroom job on a daily basis. I’m sort of a big kid myself in many ways and I love having time to play.

What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Prince, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy ( and the Hobbit, of course!).

How do you work?
I sit down at my computer and brainstorm for a bit. Then, I write for a while. I stop when I run out of ideas, which can sometimes be in a few minutes, or other times be in 6-8 hours! Next, I look over what I have written and ask my son or husband to look at it for me, if they are available. Finally, I rewrite it. When the piece is done, I send it to my editors at Orchard Academy Press, a division of Windstormcreative.com.

Do you have other projects? Will you continue writing for kids?
I will continue to write for kids! I’m working on some Time Traveling Adventure Books and some advanced Regional Adventures for 9-12 year old readers. Also, I am under contract to do a series of Homeschool Lessons for use by parents and students.

Do you have any advice for young writers?
Follow your passion. Write. Submit your writing to places like Chicken Soup for the Soul and Stone Soup. See if your local newspaper will publish your poetry or short stories. Look for safe, educational websites that feature children’s writing and with your parents’ help check them out and then send in your writing to them!

And now (as usual) the nothing-to-do-with-books question : You’ve just found 100 $ in your pocket, how will you use that money? Without thinking too much 🙂
Put some gas in my tank and drive to Anchorage, Alaska. I love going to the big city now and then!

Would you like to say something special to our readers?
I have had many set backs in my life and overcome them by learning to be mentally strong. Never underestimate the power of your own mind. If you think you can do something, like get published, you will. Don’t give up! Rejections are just chances to review your work and make it better! You can achieve your goals, if you remain positive and keep trying!

“Tea or Coffee?”

Saturday evening. Going out or reading a book ? Go out, come home, curl up in bed with a book….:)
Holidays. Beach or Mountains ? Beach. I live in Alaska and am surrounded by mountains all the time. It’s beautiful, but the beach does call to me.
Watching a movie. Comedy or Drama (or something else ?) ? Comedy! I love to laugh.
The Leader in the group or not ? Leader or often loner. I do a lot of things on my own. I like to be independent.
Shy or Easy-going ? Easy-going, until I’m not….
Country or city ? Live in the country, visit the city. I love the hustle and bustle of the city, but also like the slow pace of the country. Both suit different sides of me.
Serious or Funny ? Funny…I once demonstrated how to “test drive” a new pillow to my best friend by stretching out on the floor of Walmart and having her hand me pillows, until I found the one I liked. The pillows were plastic wrapped, of course! People looked at me like I was crazy. My friend and I just laughed.
Traveler or not ? Traveler. I love going new places and learning new things.
Sporty or not ? I love to bike. I exercise a lot, too.

“Favorite…”

TV show: House…he’s grumpy, but I like him anyway because he is so smart!
Movie : 50 First Dates and anything Adam Sandler does, he cracks me up!
Book : probably The Little Prince
City : Buffalo, NY, because I was born there and when I was ill with cancer, people there treated me with such love
Music : Anything from Aerosmith to Black Eyed Peas to Brahms to Cher to Kanye West to Pink or …HeavyMetal/ HipHop/Blues/Jazz, etc. I love all kinds of music!
Place to write: My office with its view of Kachemak Bay, mountains, glaciers, and wildlife like eagles flying by the window, or moose out on the lawn!
Quote or motto: Mental strength can help you overcome whatever obstacles you face. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. Believe in your own abilities to succeed and be the best that you can be! Your mind is your greatest gift. Use it!

Thank you, Colleen!
Visit Colleen’s website http://www.geocities.com/colleenmfwilliams/mybooks.html