Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Writing Tips & Meet the Author Duo of HL Carpenter

Welcome back! As always, I am sharing writing tips from authors I interviewed in 2016. Hope these inspire you! Please feel free to leave your own tip(s) in the comments.

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 the YA fantasy Mercy's Prince.

Write what you love despite the trends. If your heart is in it, the reader will love it tooRita Monette author of the MG adventure The Curse at Pirate's Cove.

Always get your facts straight. And never embellish unless you have to (blush)N.A. Cauldron author of the children's

And now for our author interview!

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes the writing team of HL Carpenter and their unique Middle Grade stories.

Here's a bit about HL Carpenter:

Hello, Cheryl! Thanks for sharing your blog space with us! We're happy to be here!

And hello readers! We're delighted you're here! We're HL Carpenter, a mother/daughter author duo. We write family-friendly fiction from our studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue.

Why did you choose to write books for middle grade and young adult readers?

We're not sure we chose to do that so much as our work simply evolved in that direction. Our books span genres and can be hard to pin down to a particular age group. All our books do have signature similarities: a strong, practical, intelligent female protagonist, a steadfast friend or two with a sense of humor, and a supportive if exasperating family or family substitute. They're all "clean" too. You won't find explicit sex, violence, or foul language in our stories. While we don't whitewash reality—our characters go through real struggles and their worlds are not all helpful chirping bluebirds and good shoes—we strive to create a world where readers of any age are welcome.

What types of books do you like to read?

Probably easier to say which types we don't read—if we could think of any. We're voracious readers. We like books of all genres: Historical, contemporary, mystery, fantasy, self-help, how-to. Sometimes we read two or three different genres at once, in different formats, with one on the e-reader, another in hard copy, and a third in audio version.

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

Besides reading, we love the outdoors. We garden, bird-watch, walk, and journal the activities of the wildlife in Carpenter Country.

Tell us about The Ghost in The Gardens and how the story came to be.

The Ghost in The Gardens sprouted from an article we read about a small botanical garden and a woman who spent her entire working career cataloguing the plants in that single garden. Her dedication was inspiring, and we were awed by the variety of plant life in such a small area and how difficult finding a particular plant is.

Here's a peek at The Ghost in The Gardens:

I had the future planned out.

The ghost was not in the plan.

After the first visit, I still didn't really believe in ghosts. But when she came back the second time, I had to change my mind. I hadn't been dreaming and I wasn't crazy. The only other alternative was: I had seen a ghost.

I started researching ghost visitations. What made them stick around in this world? How did they choose who to haunt? Why had no one ever caught a legitimate sighting on video or made a recording?

Mostly what I learned was that people argued a lot about whether ghosts existed. People who believed in ghosts liked other people who believed in ghosts. People who didn't believe in ghosts thought people who did were crazy.

I was not crazy.

Finding out the answers to my questions about ghosts should have been easy. I had my own personal ghost to ask. But every time she visited me, I couldn't say a word. My thoughts got all tangled and my breath stuck in my throat and I got dizzy. Having my own personal ghost was not helpful. The visits were...creepy. Like are-you-here-because-I'm-going-to-die creepy. Maybe the creep factor was why no one had ever documented a ghost.

I shivered, though I hadn't seen the ghost in hours and cheerful sunlight warmed the early June morning. The Water Garden, a magical green fairyland of trickling streams and arched bridges, closed in around me. Shadows shifted. Bushes rustled.

I'd never seen a ghost before, not even when my dad died. Why had one decided to haunt me now?

"Just lucky, I guess," I said. "What do you think, Barkley?"

My long-legged Schnauzer scratched his ear with his hind foot. 

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

Yeah, we've written a few others. We're compulsive and we can't stop ourselves from writing new stories. :) Counting The Ghost in The Gardens, we currently have eight published works.

Jack and The Fountain of Youth: a new-adult novella about a girl who helps a young man rediscover the fountain of youth so he can reverse the spell he's been under for 500 years.

 The SkyHorse: a fantasy about a girl who finds a mysterious egg that hatches into a flying horse.

 Walled In: the story of Vandy Spencer, a teenager who has everything—and then discovers her father has been involved in a massive fraud.

 Pirate Summer: the story of a teen who has to travel back in time two hundred years to save her brother.

Dream Stealer: a fantasy novelette about a teenager who is expected to carry on the family business of stealing dreams, even though she doesn't want to.

 A Cause for Murder: a cozy mystery novel featuring a septuagenarian sleuth who solves a murder at her retirement community.

The Demise of Fyne Literature: a short story about fighting the demons within.

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

We're taking a brief break as we begin introducing The Ghost in The Gardens to the world.

In terms of writing work-in-process calling for our attention, we're waiting to hear back from a publisher on a cozy mystery, we're nearly done with the first draft of a themed collection of short stories, and we're in the revision stage of a collection of contemporary satire. We have a futuristic novella ready for re-release, and a couple of completed cozies for adult readers that we're thinking of publishing as a series, along with novellas featuring the same characters.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write what you enjoy writing. Find your trigger—that is, find a theme or a plot or a character that sparks your imagination and makes you smile. If you try to write what's popular or what sells, your writing will suffer. Ask how we know—go ahead! :)

If you have a story to tell, tell it. Then put it in a drawer and go study authors whose books you love. Ask yourself what draws you to those stories. Write or type out passages that resonate with you. After a couple of months of immersing yourself in your favorite books, take your manuscript out of storage, and read it with fresh eyes. Revise it based on what you've learned. Repeat the process at least once more.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Once upon a time, we shared Carpenter Country with a horse whose sire was a movie star. But that's a story for another day.

Where can readers find you and your books?

The central hub for all Carpenter Country adventures is, where you'll find links to our social media and author pages, free reads, audio excerpts, reader's guides, and photo-essay updates of the latest happenings in our neck of the human experience.

Release date for The Ghost in The Gardens: June 17, 2018

Pre-order links:


Mirror World (ebook):

Mirror World (paperback print):

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Writing Tips & YA Author Robert Blanchard

Before meeting our author, I wanted to share with you some tips from other authors I've interviewed in the past two years. Hope these inspire you! Please feel free to leave your own tip in the comments.

Find something that makes you want to write. For me, it was a beautiful, blue hardcover notebook that made me want to write The Enchanted Rose. For Robin: Lady of Legend, it was watching yet another Robin Hood movie that didn’t seem to add anything new to the existing mythology. Find something that gets your blood up, that makes you want to write and write, and then hold it close to your heart until your story is done

And now for our author interview! 
Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Robert Blanchard, a YA Fantasy author. Read on to learn about his unusual family.

Here's a bit about Robert Blanchard:

Oh boy, here we go. (ha! ha!)  My name is Robert Blanchard, and I am the youngest of eight children.  I have never met or seen my siblings – my mother moved here from Thailand to marry my father.  I was born and raised in Saratoga Springs, NY.  I dropped out of high school at 17, but got my GED in 2008.  I have two boys (15 and 9) and an 19-year-old autistic stepson whose life I have been in since he was three.  They are my life and I love them dearly.  My career in writing came to the forefront when I became sick with a vestibular condition in 2008.  Too dizzy and lightheaded to do much else, I turned to my hobby of writing.  The rest is history, as they say!

Why did you pick to write books for YA?

I write YA because I feel like I can write something kind of edgy, but educational about life.  I believe if you write something for anyone other than adults, there has to be some kind of moral lesson or something to be learned.  It doesn’t have to be preachy or anything like that, it can be very subtle.  You can learn a life lesson from the smallest things sometimes.

What types of books do you like to read?

I like to read fantasy, autobiographies, mysteries, all types of stuff.  My favorite series is Dragonlance, but I’ve also read the Resident Evil series (I was a big fan of the games), all of The Silence of the Lambs books, the Harry Potter series, and I’ve also read a lot of Sherrilyn Kenyon.  I think she’s just great.

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

I take care of the four dogs that think they live here or something, I maintain the house and do as many chores as I can.  Sometimes I read, play my Xbox, and I watch a lot of YouTube.  Not much else – my life isn’t very exciting. Up until recently, I was making videos on YouTube as well.

Tell us about The Roar of a Dragon and how the story came to be.

Well, as stated earlier, I started writing much more frequently when I got sick and dizzy all the time.  The Roar Of A Dragon was an on-and-off project for about eight years before that, and after I got sick, I finished the book in about three years. The Roar Of A Dragon follows a young farmer named Aidan as he follows his dream to become a knight of Delmar.

Here's a peek at The Roar of a Dragon:

A mere farmer in a small village, young Aidan has always dreamed of being a knight in the White Army of Delmar, an anti-dragon country.

Despite his poor background, his dream comes true following a chance encounter with a bully knight, and thrilled to now be a soldier, Aidan works hard and pushes towards his dream of becoming a knight.

Yet one day, Aidan pays the ultimate price after he saves a baby dragon as it is tormented by his fellow soldiers. For this, Aidan is exiled, and on his way out of the country, he is killed. But for Aidan, death was only the beginning.

Waking up three thousand years later, watched over by the very dragon he saved, Aidan is disturbed. With an altered appearance and unstable magical powers he didn’t have before, he is horrified to find that the world has been taken over by an ancient evil that started in Delmar not long after his death.

With the help of a time-traveling wizard apprentice and the dragon, Aidan must travel back in time to save the world from this harrowing evil.

But after his bitter exile, does he really want to?

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

Yes, I have! The sequel to The Roar Of A Dragon, The Treachery Of A Weasel, is written and I’m just waiting on the cover, which a good friend of mine is working on. Of course, the story continues after the events of The Roar Of A Dragon as Aidan and his friends continue on their quest to stop Sirak. Unfortunately, a missing companion grinds their plans to a halt and sends Aidan into a downward spiral.

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

I’m about halfway through a story called Hood, which follows a homeless teenager who attempts to fight crime in his city. I’ve also started a zombie apocalypse book where the outbreak is started by chemical warfare between countries. I wrote the bulk of it during NaNoWriMo last year. I love zombie apocalypse stuff, and I’m looking forward to finishing that one. If anyone would like to check out previews of The Roar of a Dragon, The Treachery Of A Weasel, or Hood, they can read the first three chapters of each on Other Worlds.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Don’t give up! That’s the main thing and the most important thing. Also, if you’re stuck on your book or a character or anything, try learning something new. Watch a documentary on the History Channel, learn a new skill, anything. I studied a lot about medieval farming when I was writing The Roar Of A Dragon, and I couldn’t believe how much more material it gave me to write about Aidan. It helped me flesh out his character a great deal. And one last thing—when you’re writing your story, be thinking about that story and what you want to do with it as much as humanly possible.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Absolutely! I want them to know that I appreciate all the love and support, especially those of my friends and family, who never gave up on me. I appreciate the ratings on Goodreads and Amazon, the reviews (both positive and negative)!

Where can readers find you and your books?
My website is Other Worlds, and you can buy The Roar Of A Dragon there, or you can buy it at Rowanvale Books or on Amazon! It’s available in paperback or ebook, and also now on audiobook at Amazon or ACX!

If you’d like to contact me, you can do so on my author page on Facebook, on my website, or on Twitter. You can also follow The Roar Of A Dragon and The Treachery Of A Weasel on Facebook! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my work!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Meet YA Author Rossandra White

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes YA author Rossandra White. I found Rossandra's story about how she started writing extremely interesting, and I'm sure you will also.

Here's a bit about Rossandra:

Rossandra White, a fourth generation South African, spent the first twenty-three years of her life in Zambia, where she had a baboon for a pet and learned to tell a log from a crocodile. As well as Monkey's Wedding, she is the author of the memoir, Loveyoubye: Holding Fast, Letting Go, And Then There's The Dog, published by She Writes Press. She lives in Laguna Beach with her two Staffordshire Bull Terriers, with whom she fights for space in her bed. When she’s not writing, she's at the gym or hiking the hills behind her home in Laguna Beach.

Why did you pick to write books for YA?

Twenty-two years ago, I felt compelled to write a book. Not something I’d always wanted to do. Maybe it was just time to finally get down all those stories I’d heard over the years about my ancestors who had been in South Africa since the 1800s. And then there were my own experiences growing up in a small Zambian copper mining town, as well as those two years we lived on a Zimbabwe sisal plantation. This was when Britain ruled, when the bush was full of animals.

There were all those road trips my family took to the Congo, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya. The time an elephant chased our car for two miles, forcing my dad to reverse down an excuse for a dirt road before the elephant gave up. The time we spent in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro with a crazy Belgian who kept wild animals for filmmakers’ use, as well as that episode in Kenya when rebels attacked the cattle ranch where we were staying with a family my dad befriended along the way. I had a lot to write about. What I didn’t know was that I had intuitively chose writing, “to take fuller possession of the reality of my life,” to paraphrase Ted Hughes.

What types of books do you like to read?

Literary fiction.

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

Read, hike, travel, the occasional movie, dinner with friends.

Tell us about Monkey’s Wedding and how the story came to be.

It came about as I was revising an awful 500-page memoir of flashbacks I wrote about my life in Africa. I found myself wanting to give voice to a black African point of view. With this in mind, I created these two adolescents, Elizabeth and Tururu, a boy who worked for the family, and began with an incident that happened to me in Zimbabwe as a six-year-old when I was poisoned by rebels.

Here's a Peek at Monkey's Wedding:

Adolescents Elizabeth and Tururu—she’s white, he’s black—share an uneasy friendship on a remote sisal plantation in 1953's Zimbabwe. Resentment to white rule erupts throwing them into the crossfire of political change and ancient ritual.

To make matters worse, a clash between Tururu’s witchdoctor grandmother and her apprentice unleash ancient fire spirits that will make the British overlords look like saints. Will their friendship survive?

The novel’s dual viewpoints afford an intimate glimpse into the two faces of a country at a crucial time in its history.

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

My memoir, Loveyoubye: Holding Fast, Letting Go And Then There’s The Dog, was the first of my books to be published. It was written after Monkey’s Wedding.

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

I’m revising Mine Dances, a coming-of-age story. It’s the sequel to Monkey’s Wedding with the same characters.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Get your butt in that chair every day, and get used to staring at a blank page, consider time spent with the blank page well worth it; it’s an investment, it tells control central you’re serious about this writing thing.

Copy a passage from a writer you admire, one that really rings your bell and reword it, improve upon it. Builds writing muscle.

Anything else you want readers to know?

On my website, I have a more detailed description of how Monkey's Wedding came to be.

Where can readers find you and your books?

My website

Monkey’s Wedding

Monkey’s Wedding

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Meet Fantasy Writer Kevin Hopson

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to welcome Fantasy author Kevin Hobson. I first met Kevin through MuseItUp Publishing which acquired my second Arthurian Legend book, The King's Ransom, Young Knights of the Round Table back in 2011. Today he's introducing us to his first cross-over fantasy novel.

I've taken a bit of a hiatus because of family and work. Good to be back here.

Here's a bit about Kevin:

Prior to hitting the fiction scene in 2009, I was a freelance writer for several years, covering everything from finance to sports. My debut work, World of Ash, was released by MuseItUp Publishing in the fall of 2010. Since then, I have released over a dozen books through MuseItUp, and I have also been published in various magazines and anthology books. My writing covers many genres, including dark fiction and horror, science fiction and fantasy, and crime fiction.

What types of books do you like to read?

I rarely read non-fiction, but I’ll read just about anything when it comes to fiction.

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

I like to watch movies and play card games, but I enjoy reading the most.

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

Brinewood is for the upper edges of YA readers. It is a cross-over fantasy, which means it takes characters from two separate series of mine. More specifically, my Jacob Schmidt (mystery) and Vargrom (fantasy) series. It’s a unique combination, but it seems to work. I had the idea running through my head for a while, and I couldn’t decide which genre to write at the time, so I decided to combine the two.

Here's a peek at Brinewood:

When a wizard named Fremonar accidentally opens a portal to his world, private investigator Jacob Schmidt is thrust into it. Though the gateway closes before Jacob can return to Earth, Fremonar assures Jacob that he can send him back, but it will take a few days. Fremonar needs to regain full strength before attempting such a feat.

In the meantime, Fremonar has a problem. His brother Ikalis recently passed, and the wizard has a suspicion that he was murdered. As he learns more about Jacob, Fremonar asks for the stranger’s help. Jacob ultimately accepts the wizard’s proposition, but he hasn’t a clue what awaits him. All he knows is that two dwarfs will be accompanying him on his journey to Brinewood, and maybe even a pesky gnome when all is said and done. Unfortunately for Jacob, his allies might end up doing him more harm than good.

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

Yes. I’ve written several books, but most of them are related to the two ongoing series I already mentioned. My Jacob Schmidt series revolves around a former Atlanta police officer turned private investigator. My Vargrom series is a spin-off from my young adult fantasy novella, The Fire King. It deals with a dwarf named Modrad, who hails from a mountain city called Vargrom.

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

I’m currently working on a drama/romance novel. I’m also writing various short stories for several themed anthologies.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Try to read and write each day. Reading inspires me to write, and vice-versa. Not only does it keep me engaged, it keeps me sharp, too.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Though I’ve taken a break from them recently, I also like to make book trailers. There’s a YouTube link on my website where people can view all of my trailers.

Where can readers find you and your books?

My website and Amazon page are probably the best places to learn more about me and my books.