Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Meet YA Author Maria DeVivo

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Young Adult author Maria DeVivo. She is also a fellow teacher. I love meeting author/teachers!

First, a bit about Maria: 

Maria DeVivo is a New York native who has had a lifelong love affair with "the pen." A graduate of St. John's University with a BA in English Literature, she has a passion for all things mystical and mythological. She has taught 7th grade Language Arts since 2000.

Having grown up in a large Irish/Italian family (where Maria is the oldest child, and of course, the wisest) the mystery and wonder surrounding the holidays were a main staple of her upbringing. At the age of seven, when her mother finally admitted "the truth" to her, she has become somewhat of a "Santa-phile", an obsession that has rooted its way into every fiber of her being. Maria is one of those people who cries when Santa makes His grand appearance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Maria now lives in Florida with her husband, Joe, and daughter, Morgan. When not teaching or writing or running around after her daughter, she enjoys drinking iced coffee, watching horror movies, and playing video games.

Why did you pick to write books for YA readers?

It’s something that I relate to on a daily basis. As a 7th grade English teacher—15 years and counting!—I’m exposed to all kinds of YA lit.  It just felt like a natural thing for me to do.

What types of books do you like to read?
I’m very selective when I read. Lately I’ve been into non-fiction, true crime novels like “Fatal Vision” by Joe McGinnis. I like horror. I like gritty, dark, morbid. But I think I’m so desensitized to it though, that I’m always chasing that next level of disgusting-ness, or I’m searching for something that will absolutely shock my socks off.  Haven’t found it yet….

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

Mom, teacher, wife. My life is pretty jam packed. I love photography and digital editing. I’ll play a video game with my husband now and then. Scrapbooking. When I’m not writing, I’m always plotting, so there’s always bits and pieces of stories consuming my brain.

Tell us about The Coal Elf and how the story came to be. 

The Coal Elf came about in 2004 when I was teaching at a Catholic school in NY. My 7th graders were having  their Christmas party, and I wore a black velvet Santa Claus hat. They all said that I looked like a bad elf, and I replied that I was going to bring them coal in their stocking! It clicked from there. There was a legend about coal in naughty kids’ stockings, but I wanted to explore that story further. Thus, The Coal Elf was born!

Here's a peek at The Coal Elf:

Ember Skye is a fed up teenage Coal Elf with a big ashy chip on her shoulder. Having been torn away from a carefree life and forced into a world of dirt and darkness has started to get the best of her. And being the only girl-elf working as a coal miner at the North Pole doesn’t help much either!

Then there’s Sturd: a power-hungry, twisted elf with a checkered past and a serious grudge against Ember. Slowly but surely, his maniacal tendencies are revealed, leaving Ember with the sacred “Naughty List” literally in her lap.

When a mysterious illness threatens to decimate elves both Above and Underground, Ember is thrust into a journey that will see her confront the literal and figurative demons of her past and lead her to the head of the North Pole himself.

Yes! Santa is real. But this isn’t your childhood Christmas tale!
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I’m currently working on three series right now – all planned trilogies. Can’t really say much about plot lines and all that, but they involve elves, zombies, and angels.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I plan to finish out my three trilogies. With work and everything else in my life, I’m pretty much dedicated to one novel a year, so the next 4 years are set in stone for me. After that, I have ideas to branch out in different territories. Might dabble in some MG, and I have an adult thriller that’s been poking at the back of my brain that I just might have pay attention to!

What advice do you have for other authors?

Thick skin. Grow one and wear it proudly. If you want to seriously get anywhere in this business and you don’t have one, you are in for a RUDE awakening. Be humble. Be open to suggestions.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I recently signed the contract to the sequel of The Coal Elf!  :)

Remember, Santa is ALWAYS watching!

Where can readers find you and your books?

Twitter: @Maria_DeVivo
Official COAL ELF Trailer
Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Writing Tips & the Kid Lit Blog Hop #62

Carpinello's Writing Pages is back this Hop with more tips from the Children's, Middle Grade, and Young Adult writers I've interviewed. These are from September and October 2014. Feel free to leave a tip of your own.

Read and write!  That’s the most important thing to do. There’s only one way to get better at writing and that’s to write, but I’ve found reading can help you understand where you have weaknesses as well. Secondly, get help. Don’t assume that what you’ve written is good, just based on your own opinion—Michael Selden, author of The Boy Who Ran.

The best advice I could give to other authors is to write what you love. Do not let anyone dictate what you should be writing. Only you and your muse know what is best for you. No matter how silly or simple or frightening the thoughts are inside your head, trust your muse and write them down. Who knows your break-through novel might come from nothing more than a silly thought—C. L. Collar, author of The McCory Chronicles: Katie McCory and the Dagger of Truth.

My advice is to always have fun writing. The minute that it feels like it is “work” is when an author has to review his/her purpose. Writing is all about expressing oneself and sharing thoughts with the world—Stephanie Dikey, author of The Adventures of Phoenix and Tucson: The Great Rescue.

Follow your dream and share your story with the world! I know writers with great ideas, but they never find their stories are good enough for publishing and keep correcting them, never finalizing. I think that, as an author, there is a point when you should stop and listen to your heart to see if the story really needs more tweaking, or if it is just your ego with its perfectionism trying to talk you out of itThereza Howling, author of Rainforest Adventure. 

And Now,

Welcome to the 62nd Kid Lit Blog Hop where we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children's books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists.

On this Hop, Carpinello's Writing Pages interviews
Children's author/illustrator Rebecca Lindsay
Young Adult author Maria DeVivo 

Also, you are always more than welcome to join us by popping in a post and hopping around to meet some of your fellow Kid Lit bloggers and authors! This week, we are excited to be including a Facebook Linky Party to be held in conjunction with the Kid Lit Blog Hop. These linky parties are designed to give you the opportunity to connect with and grow your network of fellow kid lit bloggers, authors, and parents through your various social media platforms. *** Please note that we will only be hosting 1 Kid Lit Blog Hop during the months of July and August. These will take place on the 3rd Wednesday of each month (July 15 and August 19).  


Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Julie Grasso, Author/ Blogger

Cheryl Carpinello, Author / Blogger

Stacking Books


Pragmatic Mom

Reading Authors

The Logonauts

A Book Long Enough

Spark and Pook

Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Kid Lit Blog Hop & Linky Party Rules *Please Read*

1. LINKY PARTY: Add the link to your Facebook fan page in the Facebook Linky Party list below. Be sure to visit at least the two links directly before yours as well as your hosts' Facebook pages. Be sure to follow some folks with similar interests and like & share posts that catch your eye. If you do not have a Facebook profile, you are welcome to link up a different social media profile (Pinterest, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, etc.). 2. KID LIT BLOG HOP: Link up any Kid Lit related post in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. This can be a link to a children’s book review, a discussion about children’s literature/literacy, or a post on a recently-read children’s book or one that you love from your childhood.
* Don't link directly to your blog, it must be a specific post.*
* For Authors, we prefer you to link to your blog if you have one. Please link unique posts each time ~ no repeats please. *
* Make sure you include an image relevant to the POST (e.g., book cover), not your blog button or photo of yourself.*
* Feel free to link more than one post.*
3. KID LIT BLOG HOP: Please visit AT LEAST the TWO LINKS from the Kid Lit Blog Hop directly ahead of your own and leave them some love in the form of a comment. We are trying to build a community of bloggers, readers, parents, authors, and others who are as passionate about children’s literature as we are so please CONNECT and follow any or all of the blogs that interest you! 4. If you like, grab the button above and put it somewhere on your blog, preferably the post you're linking up. If you'd prefer, you can just add a text link back to this Hop so that others can find it and check out all these great book links! 5. It would really help us get the word out about the Kid Lit Blog Hop if you would be so kind as to tweet, share, and spread the word about the Hop!

Happy Hopping!



(***Please do not link a blog post here - see below for the Kid Lit Blog Hop***)


Meet Author/Illustrator Rebecca Lindsey

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Rebecca Lindsey, a children's author who is also a book illustrator as well as an elementary school teacher. Rebecca's going to share how she does both.

First, a bit about Rebecca:

I am a children's book writer/illustrator with Beau Coup Publishing and a full time elementary school teacher.  I live in West Virginia with my husband and two cats who play an important role in my books.

Why did you pick to write books for children?

I've always loved to draw and paint and with children's books. I get to illustrate my own books which is something I've always wanted to be able to accomplish.

For all those budding artists out there, how did you get started illustrating books?

I never thought I would ever have a children's book out in the world. I wrote my first book for a contest but never won. A couple years later, I met an author who was looking into opening up her own publishing company and was looking for other authors. She and I talked, and I showed her my work and before I knew it, I had a publishing contract. It was just a freak time where I was in the right place at the right time.

Which medium do you prefer to work with: pen, pencil, chalk, pastel, oil, and why?

I love to use a combination of all different types of mediums when I create a drawing. I always use pencil to sketch out my drawing and then add a mixture of acrylic, chalk and oil pastels. I love acrylics because they easily blend together. Chalk and pastels allow to me add different shading to my image and the pastels are easily blended in. My illustrations however are created all digitally. I have a drawing tablet and I use a drawing program called Corel Painter  X3. I still prefer to use acrylic, pastels and chalk but I love adding watercolor and using all the tools that are available.

What types of books do you like to read?

Romantic Suspense and Contemporary Romance are my two favorite genres, but while working at Beau Coup, I've been introduced to so many wonderful authors and their writing talents. So now I can add Fantasy Adventure, Science Fiction, and Paranormal Romance to my list.

When you are not writing/illustrating, what do you like to do?

I love to draw and paint any chance I get. When I get time, I really want to learn some new techniques and branch out to new mediums and tools. I love music and enjoy singing right along with the artist, although I don't think my cats like me singing as much as I do. I am an avid reader and read many different genres. My husband and I enjoy being outdoors any chance we get.

Explain for readers the importance of collaboration between authors and illustrators.

I have illustrated three of my own books, and currently I'm working on my very first illustrating job with another author. Collaboration is so important because when the author wrote this book, they may have a specific way it looked in their minds which could be totally different from the image I get when I read it. It's important to try to get the images to represent what the author wanted and, if there is another way, then a decision can be made later about which way looks best.

How important is it for illustrators to read the manuscript first?

For me, I wouldn't be able to create the images without reading the manuscript first. In fact, I go back throughout the story several times when creating the illustrations. It's important to match the image to represent what is going on in that story to help make it come to life.

Once you & the author have decided on how the illustration should look, describe the creation process of one illustration.

I will often create three or more drawings for one illustration before I choose the one I like the best. I find myself adding things or changing colors, backgrounds, etc. Then I will send them to the author or friends of mine who I trust to give me their feedback.

Tell us about World of Color & Imagination Destination, the illustrations you've shared, & how the stories came to be.

The tiger illustration is from my book World of Color and the pirate illustration is out of my book Imagination Destination. Both drawings were created digitally, and I used a combination of mediums: acrylic, watercolor and pencil.

For World of Color, I want my readers to recognize that our world is full of beauty. That's what makes us different, and it's okay to be different.  If everything and everybody were the same, our world would not be as wonderful as it is.

For Imagination Destination, I want to inspire my readers to want to get up, go outside, and use their imagination to create their very own world. The possibilities are endless as to where they could go.

Have you written/illustrated other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

Bullies? No Worries! was just released in May 2015. Currently, I'm working on the illustrations for another author's children book which is coming along nicely.

Besides book illustrations, what other types of art do you create?

I enjoy painting on slate rock. I've also been getting into canvas lately. However, I don't have a lot of extra free time to paint as much as I would like to. I would love to take an art class and experiment with different paints and techniques.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to pursue a career in illustrating books?

I am new to this part of my life. I'm learning as I go, but I've been told by many that joining an organization such as the SCBWB (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators) can be a very beneficial and worth the money. I plan on joining this year. Also, if this is something you truly love doing, then don't give up even when things are not working out like you hoped. If you are able to get your artwork out in the world and are proud of what you accomplished, that's all that matters.

What advice do you have for other authors?

If it is something you really want to do, then never give up. Don't listen to yourself and give up when things look down. Don't listen to the ones who say it's not worth your time. If you have a story to tell, then tell it. If you're happy with it, that's all that matters.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I hope you find my stories fun, silly, entertaining but yet with a great message. I feel privileged to have been given the chance to share my stories with you. I am so very grateful for you, the reader, because it's you that helps inspire me to keep writing and illustrating.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Amazon Author page

They can be found at  World of Color is an interactive e-book and will be available in paperback soon.  Imagination Destination can be found in both e-book and paperback formats.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Meet MG Author P. S. Mokha

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes fantasy author P. S. Mokha. He writes the MG series The Last Sanctuary. He also likes one of my favorite authors Ken Follett.

Here's a bit about P. S.:

I’m P.S. Mokha, not a post-script reminder to refill with coffee, but an author of fantasy novels whose initials happen to be P.S.

Hailing from unspectacular roots, I wasn’t raised by wolves, nor were my parents members of religion-worshipping otters.

Conversely, my professional life has been ridiculously exciting. I initially qualified as a chartered accountant, and now I’m assistant principal at a high school. Everyone knows how enigmatic accountants and teachers are, so writing really interesting stuff was a natural progression.

Why did you pick to write books for MG?

Each of my daughters have been fascinated by magic, fairies, and their ilk since before they could form words. Now that my eldest is a discerning reader and prodigious writer, I have to ensure my work is more compelling than the competition to keep in her good graces.

What types of books do you like to read?

Both kinds. Hard copy and ebook. Seriously though, I enjoy Ken Follett, YA fiction, and true stories dealing with the strength of human spirit overcoming adversity.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I am particularly refreshed by hiding in bushes and imitating exotic birds that only exist miles from said bush.

I also play football, jog regularly, and ferry my kids from various activities that include gymnastics, ju jitsu, and piano lessons.

Tell us about The Last Sanctuary and how the story came to be.

The Last Sanctuary is a traditional fairytale peppered with humour and modern twists. The
story evolved from a desire to tap into traditional mythology and bring it to a modern setting with a fresh voice I’d yet to hear from today’s mainstream literature.

Here's a peek at The Last Sanctuary:

Lily is devastated when her sick grandpa reveals she must leave the small home they share. The next day, a confused Lily awakes in the London Bridge Orphanage surrounded by danger. With the help of her two roommates, she stumbles upon the ancient world of Ammasaya and a prophecy with catastrophic consequences: three will arrive, one to give, one to die, and one to live. 

But which part of the prophecy relates to Lily and which to her roommates? 

As enchanting as it is deadly, Ammasaya is a place where Lily must battle savage witches, devious goblins, and deadly Death Legions to discover secrets of her past that offer clues to her prophesised future. Life at school is no safer with menacing teachers burying secrets with unfathomable consequences.

The Blood Empress lurks in the shadows as her goal of destroying the orphanage draws near. Surrounded by riddles and lies, who can Lily trust?

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

Book two in The Last Sanctuary series is out now (The Fall of Refuge). All my friends say it’s really good and so does my mum.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

Book three in The Last Sanctuary series is entitled The Wrath of Winter, and I must say, I’m terribly excited about ratcheting up the tension and humour to another level.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Enjoy yourselves, life is too short to stress about writing, or anything for that matter.

Other than that, keep reading, believe in yourself, and never give up.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Leonardo da Vinci could draw with one hand and write with the other at the same time.

I can write with one hand and draw conclusions at the same time, thereby leaving one hand in a constant state of readiness in case the phone rings or an ear becomes itchy.

And finally, a big thank you to Cheryl Carpinello for allowing me to share my thoughts with the world.

Where can readers find you and your books?

I exist in the wonderful land of New Zealand, where I live with my family and countless animals on a small farmlet.

My book is on Amazon for the princely sum of $1, and also on Smashwords, Goodreads, and most online retailers.