Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Meet MG/YA Author Shawn P.B. Robinson & Writers' Tips

Before our author interview:

Here at Carpinello's Writing Pages, we're heading into the archives to bring you writing tips from the authors we've interviewed over the years. Hope these are helpful, and if so, please leave the authors a short comment.

Keep writing, even if you are discouraged. Even if it feels like no one cares about your words, and even if they did, they suck like a herd of anteaters at an anthill buffet. (By the way—did you know a herd of anteaters is actually called an armory? Well, now you do. You’re welcome!) No one grows as a writer if they quit trying. And, yes, I’ve had to take my own advice. Often. S. J. Henderson, author of Daniel, The Camp-er.

The best advice I was given and can pass along is to read widely from the best books, not only in the genre(s) you want to write, but the classics, too. We all absorb patterns of language while reading, so you ought to read the best. While you're reading, write every single day, even if it's only vague notes or a very rough draft. The only way to learn to write well is to write a LOT of words. I wrote story after story and two complete novels (never published, thank goodness) before I ever sold my first short story (about 500,000 total words in seven years). That was back in the "olden days" (1980's and 1990's) and I collected over 600 rejection letters before that first acceptance. No, that's not a typo! Katy Huth Jones, author of Mercy's Prince.


And Now,

Please welcome MG/YA author Shawn P.B. Robinson
to Carpinello's Writing Pages.
 

Here's a bit about Shawn:

Shawn P. B. Robinson, or as his friends call him, "Shawn P. B. Robinson," lives in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, with his beautiful wife, two awesome sons and two goldfish named Lunch and Supper. Sadly, Shawn’s former goldfish named “Breakfast” decided to explore the inside of the filter.
Contrary to popular belief, Canadians do not live in a continual winter wonderland. We have periods of wet called “Spring” and “Fall” and periods of warm which we call “Summer.” When it is not snowing, Shawn enjoys nature, hiking, riding his motorcycle and writing. While it is snowing, Shawn enjoys staring out the window at the snow and dreaming of warmer days.


Why did you pick to write books for MG/YA? 


I first started writing MG books for my two sons, who were 8 and 13 at the time. I hadn’t planned on writing them a book, but… well… I ended up getting sick—really sick. I ended up with a viral infection in my brain (encephalitis) that nearly cost me my life. While I was lying in the hospital, I decided I would write a book for my two sons. I figured I might no longer be able to tell them bedtime stories, and I thought that if I wrote them a big long story, they would have something they could read and remember me by.

Now, I don’t want to spoil the ending, but… I survived. As I recovered, I finished my first book (Arestana: The Key Quest) and then started into the sequel. Since then, I haven’t really stopped writing! I’m up to around fourteen books, including a YA fantasy series.


What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I mainly read MG books, to be honest. I like them as the stories are often fun and positive. It’s also helpful to know what’s out there in the genre I write, and what works for young readers as I’m writing more books!

Outside of writing, I focus on learning how to self-publish more effectively, and I blog on that topic. We also spend time with my family, and I continue to try to recover. Recovery from encephalitis is a long, hard road.

Tell us about Annalynn the Canadian spy: Terrible Tissues and how the story came to be.

Annalynn the Canadian Spy: Terrible Tissues is the first book in my new series, and it’s been a blast to write and even more fun to share!

It started with a young girl named Annalynn. We are really close to Annalynn and her family. One day at the church both our families attend, she showed me a toy she had been given for Christmas. It was a toy spy gadget, and my wife told me that Annalynn was really into spies. I decided to try to write a short book about Annalynn as a spy and gave it to her for her birthday.

I ended up liking the story so much that I wrote five other books to go with it. Now it’s a six part series!


Here's a peek at Annalynn the Canadian Spy: Terrible Tissues:

 
Ten-year-old Annalynn has just been hired as a spy.

Two men and two women break into Annalynn's home and steal a box of tissues, literally from under their noses. No one can imagine why someone would do such a thing, but Annalynn has been put on the case.

Her country needs her, but does she have what it takes?

Join Annalynn as she embarks on an adventure of a lifetime as she learns how to fly her out of control jet, faces off against a berserk Moose, has to dress up like an Opera Singer, and finds out that thumb tacks are her enemy.

Laugh your way through this series starter in the first book in the AtCS Series: Terrible Tissues!

How do you go about researching for your stories?

I mainly use Google. I know that’s terrible… but Google and I have a special kind of relationship. I search for stuff, and Google gives me information. It’s worked well for us, and I foresee a long and fruitful relationship.

I also seek out other people who have expertise in certain areas. Just recently, for my YA series, I contacted my sister about a challenge I was facing. She has her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, so I asked her about some details regarding a poison that exists in my new book. I wanted to make sure it made sense, and she knows far more than I do about the body and how it reacts to various toxins.

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

Ooohhh… I just keep writing!

My first series is an MG Fantasy series called Arestana. It’s about a 13-year-old boy who gets pulled into another world. Once he gets pulled in, he has to complete a wild quest in a ridiculously absurd world if he wants to get back home. It’s packed full of adventure and oddness and humor (or “humour” as we spell it in Canada)! This series has three books in it, and I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a prequel.

My second series is a series of short stories called Jerry the Squirrel. Jerry is a Squirrel inventor and, while he is quite clever, none of his inventions turn out the way he wants them to. The books are set in the same world as Arestana, and there’s a bit of a crossover between the books. I’ve also created a Jerry the Squirrel novel that lines up with the second Arestana book, but I haven’t published that book yet.

My third series is the newest one is my Annalynn the Canadian Spy series.   

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

I have two book series  in mind.

The one series is a YA fantasy book. Book one is written and has moved through the Beta Reader stage. It’s been extremely well received, but still needs a lot of work before it heads to the editor. I’ve nearly finished the rough copy of book two and hoping to finish off book three by this fall.

The other series is all still in my head, and I hope to start writing it this fall. It will be an MG book, but different than my other series. My Arestana, Jerry the Squirrel and Annalynn the Canadian Spy series are all packed full of humor. This one, however, will be a more serious one. It’ll be set in a fantasy world.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Just keep writing! I think a lot of authors struggle so much to get their books written because they do not carve out the time they need to write. If you just “plan on getting to it soon,” you might not ever get around to it. Just write!

Anything else you want readers to know?

Hey! I love to hear from readers! Send me a note through my Instagram, Facebook page, contact page on my website or some other creative means of getting ahold of me. I’m even willing to entertain the idea of carrier pigeons. I’d love to hear what you think of my books and how I can encourage reading in young people!

Oh… and don’t forget to leave reviews!

Where can readers find you and your books?

Everywhere! My books are available on just about every site that sells books, and you can order them through pretty much any book store on the planet. They are also available on Jupiter and Mars. I’m trying to get them into stores on Saturn and Neptune, but everyone knows people on Saturn only read non-fiction and people on Neptune only eat books. So, naturally, those are both hard markets for an author like me to break into.

Here are some easy links to find me and my books!

https://www.shawnpbrobinson.com/books

https://amazon.com/author/shawnpbrobinson

https://www.facebook.com/shawnpbrobinsonauthor/

https://www.instagram.com/shawnpbrobinson/

https://twitter.com/ShawnPBRobinson

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Writers' Tips and Meet MG Author Ann Searle Horowitz

Welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages!

We love bringing you new publications from author friends and introducing you to new authors. Authors here write childrens/MG/YA books, unless we are hosting special promos like Great Summer Reads 2020 which just finished.

Before we meet today's author, here are some Writing Tips from authors interviewed in 2019.


Keep persevering, write a little everyday and find people to read your books who will tell you the truth. It’s hard finding people who will point out the faults in your work...Sarah Sanchez, author of the MG fantasy The Portal Keeper.


Read a lot in your genre. Also, keep writing and finish your first draft. Even on the days that you will feel discouraged, just take a deep breath and don't give up...Flavia Labre, author of the MG adventure The Eighth Chamber.


And Now, 

Please welcome MG Fantasy author Ann Searle Horowitz to Carpinello's Writing Pages.


Here's a bit about Ann:

I was a high school All American swimmer. I’m also a mother of multiples. So no surprise when I admit to knowing far too much about goggles and the twin bond, both of which provided inspiration for Trident. When I’m not working on its sequel, I coach YMCA swimming, play team tennis, and hang out with my husband and three kids at our home just outside of New York City. As a young reader I could often be found in my basement fort, bingeing on Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries.

Why did you choose to write for MG?
 
My twin sons, who just turned 21, were huge fans of the fantasy-adventure genre. When they were in elementary school, they were ready for MG stories before they were capable of reading them themselves. I read the Harry Potter series and then Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance cycle (starting with Eragon) to them every night and became addicted to middle grade. I continued reading the genre after my sons were able to read it on their own. Writing it felt like the next logical step.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I’m a voracious reader of all genres (usually two books going at once—one stays upstairs, one downstairs), but especially love psychological thrillers and mysteries: current mystery author faves include John Verdon, Camilla Lackberg, and Louise Penny.

When I’m not writing, I enjoy my job coaching a YMCA swim team, as well as playing team tennis in several leagues. I’m also an internet tech start-up advisor for a tennis app that’s about to launch worldwide, and a student of Tai Chi.

Tell us about Trident and how the story came to be.

Like many authors before me, I followed Mark Twain’s advice to “write what you know” with Trident.
Some story ideas came from people and experiences in my own life: Trident is about a competitive swimmer; its protagonists are twins. And Richard’s goal at the beginning of the book is to qualify for the Junior Olympics, which my son competed in during high school.

An important theme in Trident is pulled from my involvement as an athlete and as a coach: Positive affirmations. Athletes use these all the time to achieve out-of-reach goals. In Trident, Richard uses them to save his life.

But the story isn’t all about my experiences—not even close. Richard and his twin, Lucy, are named after characters from 50s TV sitcom I Love Lucy. And I definitely haven’t been attacked by a shapeshifter—yet.

Trident’s main story and setting inspiration came from two subjects that intersect right at my mythology nerd sweet spot: The Greek god, Poseidon, and the Lost City of Atlantis.

Although written for readers age 8-12, Trident is building an unanticipated but welcome adult following.

Here's a peek at Trident:


Twelve-year-old Richard Tomlin has almost given up on finding his dad. Instead, he focuses all of his energy on being the youngest swimmer ever on his team to qualify for Junior Olympics.

But everything changes when his new goggles transport him to the Lost City of Atlantis!

Confronting shapeshifters and dark magical forces, Richard channels his inner science geek and the power of positive thinking to stay alive. As he struggles to tame the magic of his goggles, his strong-willed twin, Lucy, finds a way to join him under the sea, and the siblings are thrust into the War of Generations.

To win the war—and save the planet—Richard must embrace his role in an ancient prophecy. Problem is, the prophecy appears to predict his own death. So what’s a warrior to do?

How do you go about researching for your stories?

For Trident, I re-read the myths of the Lost City of Atlantis and Poseidon that I had devoured as a middle school reader, read Plato’s dialogues that mention Atlantis, and sorted through conflicting theories penned by diverse scholars about the Lost City. I also read every picture book about Atlantis that I could get my hands on.

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

Trident is my debut novel. However, other published work includes essays in parenting magazines, and short stories for children.

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

I started writing the sequel before Trident was published; the positive momentum carried me from one story to the next. But due to a last-minute change I made to the ending of Trident, I’m now re-writing early parts of the sequel, in which Richard’s sister, Lucy, has her own heroic adventure.

What advice do you have for other authors?

First, write short stories or articles to practice your craft, and submit them to print and online magazines; they have word count requirements that force you to become a better editor.
Second, write what you’re passionate about, and use your own life experiences to create authenticity.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Before signing off, I’ll leave you with some fun then-and-now trivia.

Then: Fishermen in the ancient world caught tuna with a (you guessed it) trident. Cool, right?

Now: People still believe that Atlantis was real. And people keep looking for it, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.

Where can readers find you and your books?
Visit for short stories, trivia, events, and fun facts about Trident.



Trident:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

And on the shelves at Arcade Booksellers in Rye, NY.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Loving the Book's Blitz of The Shadow of the Tudor Rose by Wendy Leighton-Porter

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to welcome back MG author and great friend Wendy Leighton-Porter and her favorite book in her popular Shadows of the Past series. I can't say enough good things about Wendy's books. I'm sure you'll enjoy learning about The Shadow of the Tudor Rose.




A graduate of Exeter University in the early 1980s, I spent 20 years as a teacher of French, Latin and Classical studies, before a change of career led me to writing children's fiction. Currently residing in Abu Dhabi, I live with my husband and our beautiful Tonkinese cat.

The Shadow of Atlantis is the first in a series of time-travel adventures, featuring 3 children and a rather special cat called Max. I'm now working on the 17th book, The Shadow of the Great Fire. The series also includes several novellas that feature Max the talking Tonkinese cat undertaking solo adventures. As I take my young readers on a magical mystery tour through the past, I'm hoping that my love of history, myth and legend will rub off on them too.




In 1588, a plot to invade England and overthrow Queen Elizabeth the First is about to unfold. At this crucial moment in English history, four visitors from the future arrive in Elizabethan London. 

Twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot, together with their friend Charlie and their talking cat Max, embark upon their next journey into the past as they continue the search for their missing parents who are lost somewhere in the mists of time.

Finding themselves at the heart of a web of conspiracy, can the young time-travellers solve the mystery of the Tudor Rose?






Goodreads ~



Top Ten List:


1. I have lived in Abu Dhabi in the UAE for the past 6 and a half years. The next book in my series (number 18)  - The Shadow of the Shifting Sands -  is set out here.

2. Although I’m originally from the UK, my permanent home is in France. When we first moved in, we discovered we were sharing the house with a previous occupant – it’s haunted!

3. I became a full-time writer after a career of teaching French, Latin and Classical Studies, but at the age of 5, my dream job was to be Dr Who's assistant (a famous TV show in the UK) - I must have been into time-travel even back then!

4. If I could meet any famous figure from History it would be King Richard III – I’d like to know what really happened to his nephews, the two princes in the Tower.

5. I would dearly love to be able to time-travel. If I could choose just one place to visit, it would be the Ancient Roman city of Pompeii, on the proviso that I could escape before Mount Vesuvius erupted. 

6. I love Tonkinese cats. My feline hero, Max (short for Maximus), is a prime specimen of a large lilac male, based on my own cat.

7. I have a genuine phobia of snakes. When I encountered a snake in my living room in France, I think they probably heard my screams in the next valley!

8. I was once involved in a high-speed crash whilst riding a camel in Cairo … and, unfortunately, I had a party of my students with me to witness it, so it was quite embarrassing! 

9. I believe in being a lifelong learner. You’re never too old to learn, be it a foreign language or a new skill. I’m a recent convert to kayaking – I never realised how much fun it is. I’m still trying to get to grips with Arabic, though, despite being a linguist. It’s a hard language to master and I can manage a few key phrases, but it hasn’t helped that everyone speaks such brilliant English out here!

10. I love baking. Mince pies at Christmas time are one of my particular specialities, and I even won a pie-making contest for my French Onion Tart a couple of years ago! During the recent lockdown, I seemed to go into baking overdrive  - self-isolation has not been good for the waistline!


To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page

 


Friday, June 19, 2020

Great Summer Reads, Day 15, with Cheryl Carpinello

Carpinello's Writing Pages Presents the Final Day of the Great Summer Reads with, guess who? Me!! Remember, I'm the bookends of this event,  and I return now with more Arthurian Legend.

So, Enjoy Day 15!






I’m a retired high school English teacher. A devourer of books growing up, my profession introduced me to writings and authors from times long past. Through my studies and teaching, I fell in love with the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Now, I hope to inspire young readers and those Young-at-Heart to read more through my Tales and Legends for Reluctant Readers set in these worlds—Ancient Egypt, Medieval Wales, and coming soon, a hair-raising adventure through ancient worlds in search of 5 rare Phoenix Feathers.

All of my books come with Free study guides and/or extensive Back-of-the-Book materials.

My husband and I love to travel. In 2008, we spent three weeks in Egypt traveling by local train from one end of the country to the other; in 2014, we spent three weeks in the UK driving over 1700 miles through England, Wales, and Scotland; and in 2016, we spent a week in Iceland. We’ve also traveled to Mexico, Jamaica, and Aruba. Our next big adventure will be to Greece and Italy.

When I’m not writing or traveling, our 4 grandkids keep us busy.



Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ 
Amazon ~
Twitter ~ Pinterest ~



Three Friends
Three Quests
Three Mysterious Predictions
Gavin, Philip, and Bryan bravely vow to clear their friend of murder by taking the Knight’s Oath and embarking on individual quests to save The Wild Man. In the end, each one faces their fears and even death in their determination not to fail.
And one will have to disclose the biggest secret of all.
Join Gavin, Phillip, and Bryan on their quests and share the adventures that await them in the land of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

    




Top Ten List:

Favorites

1. Things I like to do when not writing:

I enjoy traveling—I will travel anywhere, any time; reading; spending time with my family; and working in the yard. I’m definitely not a housekeeper.

2. How I relax:

Sitting on the beach in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico!

3. My favorite color:

Blue’s always been my favorite color. It’s the color of my eyes, of the sky, and of the ocean.

4. My favorite drink:

Just can’t pass up a good margarita!

5. My favorite snack:

I devour nachos and Auntie Anne’s pretzels!

6. My your favorite movies:

Star Wars, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and The Mummy. I’ve watched each of these so many times that I’ve lost track, and my husband shakes his head when he sees one on and says, “Really?” I just smile.

7. I am a night owl:

I don’t usually go to sleep until midnight, and now that I’m retired, I’m comfortable not seeing the sun come up in the morning:)

8. My favorite food:

That would be a smothered shredded beef burrito followed by coconut ice cream.

9. My favorite concerts:

Elton John, Sting, Paul McCartney, and Mumford & Sons.

10. If I could live anywhere, it would be in Colorado.

We have the best weather—All four seasons. I live next to the foothills, and a drive up in the Rockies is a cure for any ailment. I can see the world famous Red Rock Amphitheater from my couch, and if the wind is just right, we can hear the concerts. My immediate family is all here, except for one sister who lives in Texas, poor soul. In addition to being a retired teacher, I’m also a retired airline employee. So, when I need a change, it’s so easy just to hop a plane and go to the beach.




To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page