Saturday, October 10, 2020

Writing Tips and Meet Children's Author Sheikha Shamma

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to bring you a special author interview, but before we get to that, here's writing tips from other authors we've interviewed.

Write as often as possible and release at least one title a year. Raymond Bean, children's author of Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire

Don’t give up, even if publishers or agents reject you. Write what you want to write and not what you think would sell. Don’t self-proof read. Get someone you trust to it for you. It is too easy to miss mistakes when reviewing your own work. Consider self-publishing. These days there is a lot of support and free marketing out here to resource. Use online media platforms to promote yourself. Converse with other authors, share books and reviews and get yourself noticed. Do book readings and signings if you can. It’s a great way to actually meet readers who might enjoy your work. Nicola J. McDonagh, YA author of Echoes From the Lost Ones.

Whilst writing I’ve learnt that I have to be self-critical and be prepared to edit and edit and edit. I read it out loud, just as if I was reading it to an audience – or a class. And I ask other people to read and criticise it. BUT I take heart from praise because we all need that! Rosie Morgan, MG author of The Golden Sword.

 

And Now,

Please welcome Children's author Sheikha Shamma

to Carpinello's Writing Pages.

 

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and published author, Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan is the great-granddaughter of the UAE’s founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

A graduate of the University of Cambridge, holding a Masters degree in Sustainability Leadership, Sheikha Shamma is a well-respected industry expert on sustainability, thanks to her business and academic endeavours in the field.

Her charitable foundation, Circle of Hope, has spearheaded a substantial number of local and international initiatives; these include Wanna Read? which has placed over 7,000 books for young patients in hospitals across the UAE; Beacon of Hope which has supplied thousands of children in developing countries with an important solar-light resource and which was recognised at the 2018 United Nations Solutions Summit; and MorEquity (formerly the Women’s Empowerment and Equality Board), created to promote gender equality in the workplace and the boardroom. The initiative comprises of over 150 women from the UAE’s largest organisations who meet regularly for workshops and collaborate on community projects driving change.

In addition to her children’s book, Skeikha Shamma is a regular columnist for The National newspaper and has coauthored two articles published in Future Governments – Actions and Insights.


Why did you decide to write books for Children? 

I had always felt that the character in my book, my dog Coustaud, would make a fun character in a children’s book. He reminds me of Garfield. He is a fun and humorous character, and it is very funny how he snores so loudly, grunts softly and sits sloppily. I wanted to share the happiness and fun that he brought to people who knew him.

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

I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. I prefer non-fiction, and I stay away from science fiction.
As for what I do when I’m not writing, where do I start? There are not enough hours in the day! I have a sustainability-oriented company, and I work in the office most days, but I also have a charitable foundation – Circle of Hope Foundation – that works to improve the lives of women and children. I like spending time outdoors in nature and reconnecting with the world around me. In this day and age, when we are all very dependent on our electronic devices, we need time away from them to enjoy the many wonders of Planet Earth.

Tell us about The Tangled Tale and how the story came to be.

The Tangled Tale is my third book in the series The Adventures of Maxima and Coustaud. This  children’s series focuses on morals, values, and current issues to help encourage ethical behaviour. The stories aim to promote a love of reading via engagement with the central characters, a magical horse, Maxima, and her funny companion, a French bulldog called Coustaud.

Here's a peek at The Tangled Tale:


Maxima and Coustaud must save a dragon that is tangled in a mangrove forest. The Tangled Tale teaches children about how interdependent and connected we all are and about the importance of mangrove forests and bees. I believe that systems thinking is an important skill for children to develop.

It will be released next month (November 2020).

 

How do you go about researching for your stories?

My latest stories are sustainability-focused, a topic that I am passionate about, and an area that I am privileged to be working in. I try and simplify concepts for children, raising awareness while empowering children to be conscious of their decision-making. We all have a role to play to protect our planet for future generations.

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

I have written two other books within the series The Adventures of Maxima and Coustaud. The first story, The Lost Princess, is about a princess who ends up in the hands of a wicked witch. I thought the witch would be very scary for children, but I have realised that they love her. The second book, In Search of a Global Solution, is about people working together to tackle one of the world’s biggest threats to humanity’s existence – climate change.

I have also written a stand-alone story – The Colour Thief. It is a cute story about two Jack Russells and a young boy called Zak, who go on an adventure. Imagine a world where all the colours disappear – what a sad place it would be. I hope children who read this book will take a closer look at the world around them and appreciate the many things we take for granted.

This year, I even wrote a short story to help children understand coronavirus called “Corona – The Story of a Virus that Stopped the World.” The short story is available for download on the following website http://wannaread.ae/ebooks/.

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

My latest project is a book for young adults, which is set in Cambridge where I studied for my Masters. I have fond memories of the beautiful and historic university town which often reminds me of Hogwarts. So I thought, why not create a story that takes place in Cambridge and bring in my love for the environment, innovation and discovery.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by all the books around you. Never compare yourself to other writers because you have a unique voice and a unique story to tell.

Anything else you want readers to know?

There is a whole world out there and many other galaxies to be explored, so never stop learning! Inspiration can be found in unlikely places – like in a type of book that you would not usually choose or by speaking to someone from a different country or ethnic group. So read a variety of books, explore different genres and make the effort to talk to people that you would not normally speak to. We live in a world filled with countless fascinating stories just waiting to be discovered.

Where can readers find you and your books?

My books can be found on Amazon and on my website www.sheikhashamma.ae/author/

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Meet Jemima Pett & Her Newest MG Fantasy: Princelings Revolution

 Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to participate in the release of Jemima Pett's newest MG Fantasy  Princelings Revolution. I've know Jemima for many years, and her books are some of the best middle grade fantasy out there. If you haven't read her Princelings of the East series, you will be surprised and delighted to learn about her unique characters. So let's get on to it with some background on Jemima:

Here's a bit about Jemima:

Jemima Pett has been living in a world of her own for many years. Writing stories since she was eight, drawing maps of fantasy islands with train systems and timetables at ten. Unfortunately no-one wanted a fantasy island designer, so she tried a few careers, getting great experiences in business, environmental research and social work. She finally got back to building her own worlds and wrote about them.

Her first series, the Princelings of the East—mystery adventures for advanced readers set in a world of tunnels and castles—is now complete. Jemima has also edited two volumes of Christmas stories for young readers, the BookElves Anthologies, and her father's memoirs White Water Landings about the Imperial Airways flying boat service in Africa. She lives with her guinea pigs in the UK.


Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers?

I think the genre chose me, or at least I wrote the Princelings books with the characters based on my guinea pigs, and that led to them being considered more children’s books. Looking into this, I decided that there really was a gap for complex stories for advanced readers of 8 and up, although I usually say 10 and up in print. I had some ten-year-old beta readers at the time, which helped.

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

I review a book on my blog every week, so sometimes I read things I’m not keen on, but mostly I pick science fiction and middle grade books, usually with a spec fiction aspect, maybe magical-realism. I also read science and environment-based non-fiction. But for a proper break, I read crime novels.

Tell us about Princelings Revolution and how the story came to be.

Princelings Revolution is the tenth and last book of the Princelings of the East series.  I never expected it to be a series. Originally I envisaged a trilogy: there is an epilogue in the first book which became the goal towards which my heroes were working. That theme ran through the rest of the books that followed. My world insisted on growing and showing other aspects to my readers.

In about 2014, I started planning the last book as number eight in the series and knew there would be unrest and changes in the way the castles are run. I started writing it in a file called ‘Topsy-turvy world’ but soon stopped because there was simply too much time that had to pass until the end, set for summer 2021. What developments would occur? It was easier to write other books to make them happen than to invent a roadmap for myself - and my readers. It gave me a target to reach in my writing, as well as one for my heroes Fred and George to attain. So this is the only book I’ve written to a deadline!


Here's a peek at Princelings Revolution:

George seems to have lost a phial of highly dangerous liquid. King Fred is battling politics, relatives and self-seeking dignitaries in his aim to give the people a better way of living. But can Fred keep the promise he made to an engaging chap from another time when he was just a princeling? Or will all their hopes fail?

Short excerpt 

Princess Jasmine, Fred’s daughter, and her cousin Liska, are on a treasure hunt at the edge of the marsh…

Liska stood quietly behind a large tree trunk, peering where Jasmine pointed. “Oh, it’s a small house. A shack, maybe.”

“I wonder if anyone lives there? I’ve not heard about a community over this way.”

“Maybe it’s just one person. What if…?” Both girls wondered if fairy tales of princesses abducted in the woods might actually come true. 

“Let’s just have a look. I think my father would like to know if there’s someone actually living here. It’s probably just a store, or a shelter for a woodman.” Jasmine walked forward, taking each step carefully, treading between twigs that might crack under her feet. Liska followed her, breathing loudly. “Shh!”

“I am shush-ing.” Liska whispered in response.

They crept up to the side of the building, listening for any indication of life. “I can’t smell a fire or anything.” Jasmine whispered. 

There was only one window, and one door, sheltered by a small veranda that ran the width of the shack. Logs were stacked neatly under it, along the front of the building. “Someone’s put those there for use.”

“As long as they aren’t inside.” Jasmine lifted the latch and pulled the door outwards to open it. 

Nobody was inside. 

What Jasmine saw was an apparatus that she was very familiar with, a duplicate of the one in the flyers’ laboratory. It was hissing gently, and a drip plopped from the final tube into a glass bottle at the end.

“What’s that?” Liska asked.

“It’s a still. It’s making something, and it smells like strawberry juice. Liska, we must leave. Now! I have to tell George!”

“All right, let’s go then.”

Liska left the shack, followed by Jasmine, but Jasmine overtook her at a run. Jasmine took the straightest route she could, back to the path that led to the lightning tree.

Suddenly she was falling through the earth. The light through the trees above swirled crazily as she fell backwards. Sharp things scratched at her, and knocked her from side to side, and the light disappeared. Her surprise forced a squeal from her, cut short as she landed hard on some uneven ground and branches. Then she screamed in fear as Liska landed on top of her.

How do you go about researching for your stories?

For the Princelings, it’s mostly world-building skills: making sure the world the people inhabit is consistent and has proper rules for law and order, commerce, education, all the background that we can take for granted in a story based in say, Colorado 2020.  

I once studied design and technology, and used that, and kept an eye out for specific information that would help George devise both a new electricity/power system and new flying machines. Fortunately my career in energy efficiency policy helped with the technical elements, and my father’s background in 1930s flying boats influenced me heavily.

Most of the political thought Fred has is based on theories I gleaned from proof-reading a friend’s thesis for him, and I owe him a huge debt.

This makes it sound like the book is all science and technology, but it isn’t! It’s people living in a castle a long way from anywhere else, in the middle a marsh, near the sea! And that was easy to research, because it’s in Norfolk (UK), where I lived!

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

Apart from the ten books in the Princelings series—you can probably jump in at number 7, Willoughby the Narrator, if you insist on not starting at the beginning—I have a trilogy of a science fiction series (for grown-ups), the Viridian System series. The Perihelix sees my two heroes taking three women for a space holiday, only for them to be kidnapped. The women have to learn how to pilot the spacecraft, and the men have to deal with some very nasty aliens who want something found. In the second of the series, the women have become equal partners in the men’s adventures. I suspect in the third book they may end up taking over.

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

So that third book in the Viridian Series, titled Zanzibar’s Rings (in a shameless bid to get on people’s A-Z title list), has a partial outline and several developed bits of plot that only hang together by a thread at present. It probably won’t emerge until late 2021 at the earliest.

And there are other ideas I discover when I look in my notes… a collection of short stories, the complete Dylan and Dougall adventures… I also hope to get more short stories accepted for other anthologies.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write down ideas for other books or stories when you get them.  You won’t remember them later.
Don’t give up. Take a break… but don’t give up.

Anything else you want readers to know?


If you don’t mind, I’d like to beg anyone who thinks they’d like a pet, or a new pet, to go to a rescue or rehoming centre, and not to a store or breeder.  There are so many loving, unwanted animals, some of whom have really traumatic stories, and others who were born in rescue. They all deserve a good loving home, so please give them one for life.  Rescues will also give you help and support if you need it, long after you take the animal home. Thank you.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Author website & blog
Twitter: @jemima_pett
Facebook either ‘princelings’ or ‘viridianseries’

Amazon US/Worldwide
Amazon UK
Apple
B&N
Book Depository
Goodreads
Smashwords
Audible


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Good News & Meet the Grandfather & Granddaughter Writing Team

I want to share with you the Good News about my latest book and the final book in my Guinevere trilogy: Guinevere: The Legend. Since being released in late December/early January 2020, the book has been honored with the following awards: From: Colorado Independent Pubishers’ Association 1st Place EVVY in Fantasy/Folklore/Mythology; 2nd Place EVVY in Juvenile Fiction Middle Grade; Readers' Favorite Silver Medal in Children's Mythology/Fairy Tale; and the NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winter 2020.

Finishing my middle grade trilogy of this amazing young lady and her loyal friend was a highlight of my writing career. Back in 2007, when I first conceived the idea of introducing young readers to this girl/queen, I never imagined that she and Cedwyn would soar to such heights. Throughout the trilogy, readers have experienced the two's highs and lows. While their decisions weren't always the best, each made those decisions with the best of intentions. And didn't (and don't) we all do that growing up? I won't tell you how their stories end, but I will tell you that you will be on the edge of your seat wringing your hands and wiping your tears.


 And Now,
Please welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages,
Oliver Eade and Lara Eade.


Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to bring you this unique interview with Oliver Eade, author, and his 9-year-old granddaughter Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade, illustrator. Oliver is a fellow author at Silver Quill Publishing and a very prolific writer. I've posted the interviews together, so we get a better idea of how these two work together. Let's get to know these two!

Here's a bit about Oliver:


I was born a Londoner, but am now an adopted Scot. I retired in 2003 from a career in hospital medicine spanning England, Vermont, and Scotland. After waking up one night with a ghost story in my head, I took to writing adult short stories and joined the Society of Medical Writers (SOMW) and a local writers’ group, The Borders Writers Forum.

I fell in love with a Chinese girl at the age of 19 (we played piano duets together till the piano got in the way) and have never fallen out of love with her. We have a son and daughter and four beautiful granddaughters, two in Texas and two in Switzerland.

 

And here's Lara:


Illustrator Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade, aged 9 years.

I am Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade. I am 9 years old. I live in Leysin in Switzerland. I like tennis, running, skiing, dancing drawing, reading. My favorite subject in school is French.

 

 

 

Oliver: Why did you pick to write books for MG?

Although my ‘default’ is to write for adults, having throughout my medical career focused on difficult correspondence about illness, and academic medical writing, I find that writing for young readers inspires me to look at this puzzling world we live in afresh as if through the eyes of a child. I do believe the children that we once were are still there, somewhere within each and every one of us.

Although not confined to any particular genre, I probably feel most comfortable in that magical space between reality and fantasy; the space into and out of which children slip so easily in their play; the place of dreams and myths and legends and deeply ingrained in many cultures across the globe. 

Lara: How long have you been drawing? Who or what got you interested in drawing?

Ever since I remember I like drawing. My mummy and my elder sister taught me to draw. 

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

I mostly read adult real-life fiction nowadays. Not a great fan of crime or sci-fi, although I was hooked on these genres as a youngster. I am a great admirer of Isabel Allende’s writing. Each of her novels explores human experience in a way that makes me think very deeply about her characters, what they do and why. Perhaps this is because of my medical background. She suffered a lot of tragedy in her life, and I do believe that true life experience shows through in great writing.

My other passion is photography. I took a diploma in photography in 2005 and love street photography. With COVID-19 this is no longer possible, so I am focusing on close-up work… e.g. insects and plants… and local landscapes. I also try to keep fit with gardening, and my wife and I do ballroom dancing in the kitchen! Plus I still play the piano, sometimes accompanying a violinist. 

Lara: What was your process for completing the drawings?

I did the pictures softly in pencil at first, starting with the animals. Then I added the background before painting the picture with acrylic paints.

Oliver: Tell us about The Zookeeper's Daughter and how the story came to be.

The Zookeeper’s Daughter was ‘commissioned’ by my youngest, 9-year-old, Swiss granddaughter, Lara. Her elder sister had illustrated my collection of Short Stories for Children aged 7 to 77 years, and Lara asked if she could also illustrate one of my books. We sat together and discussed an idea I had. I knew she loved animals, and that she also had moments of frustration with rules and regulations, so I suggested to her that the zookeeper’s daughter, Isabelle (Lara’s second name), might magically escape from the tedium of parental control and live free like the wild cousins of the animals in their zoo. Lara decided on the names of the characters and the connection between Scotland and Switzerland. Then COVID-19 happened. I had to get on and write the story, and quickly, for being elderly, I feared I might succumb to coronavirus. Also, the pandemic encouraged me to focus on humans failing to respect our wonderful world, thereby endangering so many species. Lara agreed that we should use her novel to think about animals endangered because of what humans are doing to our planet.

Lara: Why did you want to illustrate The Zookeeper’s Daughter?

I wanted to illustrate a book because my sister had done one. Also, I love drawing animals.

Here's a peek at The Zookeeper's Daughter:


 

 

Isabelle Scott is devastated to learn she won’t be staying with her beloved Swiss ‘mamie’ (granny) that summer because Old Jamie who works in her daddy’s zoo in Scotland, where she lives, is ill in hospital and her ‘maman’ (mummy) will be too busy in the zoo to take her.

Summer vacation with Grumpy Gramps and her annoying little brother, Joe will be unbearable. But things change after a spider emerges from a white chamois, a present from mamie, and connects Isabelle via a magical golden web to the worlds of endangered wild animals in a book specially written for her by Jamie.

                                                 

 

 Excerpt: The Bald Eagle that Isn’t Bald

Joe began to cry. At least, an adult jaguar would have called it crying, although to a human it would have sounded very strange. Isabelle licked him, as their mother had done before she got shot, and he seemed to get comfort from this.

“What are we going to do, Isabelle?” Joe asked.

“Florence won’t let us down. I know it.”

Far from going down, they began to float upwards. Together. If Isabelle had hands instead of paws, she would have held onto her little brother. Soon she realised she didn’t even have paws. She had wings instead. An angel? Had she and Joe been shot, without knowing, and turned into angels?

Up and up they went until they broke out above the forest canopy, spreading their magnificent dark wings. No fur, no spots… and no longer jaguars. Then Isabelle remembered the next chapter in Jamie’s book. The North American bald eagle, also sacred to Native Americans.


Never had Joe looked so happy as, soaring over the Chiapas jungle, with his wings spread wide, he sailed north like a big black kite, away from the forest-covered hills, and with his elder sister at his side.
He called out to her. She looked huge. Because of this, he assumed the sound he would make with his own yellow hooked beak might be loud and strong, but it came out high-pitched and squeaky like the twittering of a small bird.

“Where are we going?” he twittered. At least Isabelle understood.

“North,” she chirped. “We shouldn’t be here, so far south. Not as bald eagles, anyway.”

 

Oliver: How do you go about researching for your stories?

Mostly by searching the internet, although I also buy books relevant to the topic, e.g. ‘The Story of Roman Britain’ for my next time travel YA novel about Scotland under the yoke of Roman occupation. Sometimes, I simply ask an expert.

Lara: Do you have a favorite illustration from the book and why it is your favorite.

The American Bald Eagle. Because they can fly free in the air.

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

I have published over 50 short stories, many which appear in the collection Walls of Words.

My young readers’ books are Moon Rabbit, a magical journey to mythological China and the sequel, Monkey King’s Revenge; Northwards a dark fantasy set in Texas and the Arctic; and Rainbow Animal, a fun spoof on war also set in the US.

My debut adult novel A Single Petal is set in Tang Dynasty China. It explores personal loss for the main character and his journey towards spiritual enlightenment. Voices, about family love, intrigue, and deceit is set in London, whilst the dark futuristic novel The Parth Path is set in a post-apocalyptic Scotland run by women for women. The premise here is that when women abandon their true nature and try to become just like men, then they become as bad as men.

My young adult novel The Terminus is set in a London changed beyond recognition from the drab post-World War II era and which, in a post-apocalyptic world, gives humankind a second chance. My YA trilogy From Beast to God (From Beast to God, The Golden Jaguar of the Sun, and The Merging and Revelation) follows a Texan boy and Mexican girl, blending European and Native spiritual beliefs. The Kelpie’s Eyes was inspired by a visit to the famous Scottish waterfall, the Grey Mare’s Tale, and weaves Scottish mythology into a tale of sisterly love. Number Twenty-four is a coming of age romance about an unconfident Scots boy and a Chinese girl who end up together in Dogtopia, a land where dogs rule and humans are their pets.

Having a profound love of live drama, I also write plays. The Gap is about the coming together of a dysfunctional family following a natural disaster, inspired by being caught up in the Great Sichuan Earthquake (Richter 8, China) of 2008. The Other Cat is a darkly humorous take on Schrödinger’s famous feline.

Lara: Do you think that you will keep on drawing? Would you like to be an artist when you grow up?

I would like to keep on drawing but probably not be an artist for a living?

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

Together with my eldest Texan granddaughter, Lucia, who also wants to become a doctor, I am writing an experimental book on the history of medicine. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, In the Blink of an Eye follows the events that led to a teenager called Larry being on life support with COVID-19 and re-incarnations of the same character over 7000 years, each highlighting a major medical advance. I have also written the The Fire Hills, a YA coming of age novel linking a futuristic Scotland, denied independence by a far-right UK government, to Scotland nearly two thousand years ago under the brutal control of the Romans.

Oliver: What advice do you have for other authors?

Write from experience and from the heart. Do not be put off. Write your own story, not a ‘me-too’ book!

Oliver: Anything else you want readers to know?

Our world has reached a turning point because of climate change. If humanity refuses to see the writing on the wall, civilisation and future of Planet Earth are under threat. I’m a scientist and believe what over 99% of climate scientists are telling us. Perhaps 100% now with the latest data from the Arctic.

Oliver and Lara: Where can readers find you and your books?

My website (https://www.olivereadebooks.org)

Silver Quill Publishing 

Amazon author page

The Zookeeper's Daughter 

Amazon UK

Amazon US


 



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Writer's Tip and Meet YA Author Jess Frankel

Welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages. This week brings more writing tips from our authors in addition to introducing a new author this week. You be amazed at where this author has spent the last 30+ years! But first, our writing tips. As always, be sure to leave your favorite tip in the comments for our readers/writers.

Writing isn't easy! It takes time and dedication, sometimes pushing you to the very edge. Keep working and find something that helps keep your mind in the writing zone so you don't get off track.  For me, it's different types of music or just speaking to my sister so I can bounce my ideas off of her...Alica Rivoli, author of the MG fantasy Mere Enchantment.

I think the most important thing is to make writing fun. You must enjoy what you’re doing to do it well. So take a subject you adore and write about it. Every day. Until you know it’s right. On days I don’t feel like writing, I read over the last few chapters and immediate I start to edit and rewrite; since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, that always gets me in the proper mood...J.C. Whyte, author of Karmac.

It helps to have a very thick skin and learn not to take rejection personally.

Also, write for the correct reasons. You need to write because it is your passion, not because you think it is a path to riches.


Make sure that your book is ready before jumping into the publishing process. Self-published books need to be professionally edited and of very high quality if you wish to compete with the mainstream books on the market. The book market has been flooded with masses of books in recent years and you really need to deliver a good quality product if you hope to achieve commercial success...Louise Lintvelt, author of Diary of a Dancing Drama Queen.



And Now,
Please welcome YA author Jess Frankel
to Carpinello's Writing Pages



Here's a bit about Jess Frankel:

I was born in Toronto, Canada, a long time ago, and after graduating university with a BA (double major) in political science and English literature, I worked for a bus company for three years and then somehow ended up in Japan where I’ve lived for the past thirty-something years! I married a lovely lady from Osaka, we have two children, and I make my living by teaching ESL and writing at night. Some of my best known novels are the Catnip series, The Titans of Ardana, The Auctioneer, and Apocalyptia.


Why did you pick to write books for Young Adults?

I write both MG as well as YA, but stick to YA for the most part. I find that the genre itself is a very fast-moving one, something fresh and immediate, and it’s exciting. I can let my mind go free and travel anywhere. That kind of genre is practically limitless in what you can write about.


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

When I’m not writing, I watch movies—big superhero fan—and listen to various kinds of music to relax. That’s about it.

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

Apocalyptia is a YA thriller about the discovery of a computer code that could trigger Armageddon. I wrote it because these days, everything is done by computer, and while they don’t control our lives, they play an integral part in them. Cyber warfare is nothing new, and taken to extremes, it can spell disaster. That’s what I wanted to explore.

Here's a peek at Apocalyptia:

An unreadable code. A secret too big to keep. An idea people will kill for.

Ed Sawyer, seventeen, is one of those ignored types at his school. A nerd hopelessly obsessed with all things cinematic, he lives for his next flick. He’s matched by Linda Usher, a classmate who is also into movies, as well as computer coding and hacking.

On the last day of school before summer vacation, Ed is given a flash drive by a dying man. He sees a code on it, and Linda, for all her genius, can’t decipher it, either. They are soon pursued by not only domestic terrorists—ex-members of the Department of Defense—but also by Russian agents who are after the same thing.

It seems that the creator of the program, Harry Haskins, devised it as the ultimate smart bomb, the ultimate tool for controlling the internet and every single computer program around, including those of defense.

It’s a secret that the wrong people will kill for, and Ed and Linda have to go on the run from those who would capture and kill them—and that includes citizens as well!

Only Linda has the knowledge to prevent such a catastrophe from happening. The only question is whether the duo can remain alive long enough to deliver the goods to the right people.

How do you go about researching for your stories?

I read a lot of different articles on the Internet, and then, if I don’t know, I ask those who do. For fantasy, I rely on my own imagination, but for real-world things such as computer programs, medicine, certain diseases and their symptoms, research is integral. I’ve found that readers will forgive you for certain lapses in narrative or inconsistencies in plot, but if you make a mistake on something technical, they’ll definitely call you on it!


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

I’ve written about thirty-five other novels. Many of them deal with aliens, alien worlds, have lots of action and some romance. I don’t see why a writer can’t combine action and romance in a story and do both aspects well.

Some of novels, as mentioned above, are Catnip, which deals with transgenics, monsters, mad scientists, and so on.
 Master Fantastic is all about elemental magic. The Associate, its sequels, The Sindicate, and Stand-In, are all about superheroes, but not written in a conventional way. A little twist here and there makes them special! Check ‘em out, please!


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

Right now, I’m working on a story about a young man going blind who develops psychometric powers—the ability to ‘read’ impressions from objects he touches. I finished it the other day, and since it’s just the first draft, it’s all very rough, but I’m having fun with it.

What advice do you have for other authors?

As trite as it sounds, I’d say write with your heart, edit without one, and be as objective as possible. Also, don’t let rejection get you down. I was rejected over a hundred times before someone took a chance on me. I’m not famous or wealthy—darn—but I am productive, and I have hopes that my books will increase in their popularity.


Anything else you want readers to know?

Just that I’d like to thank you, Cheryl, for allowing me this interview. Also, I hope that readers will take a chance on someone who’s not a big name but who writes a good story that is entertaining as well as informative.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter


Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Writing Tips and Meet MG Author Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages. Before we get introduced to today's author, here are some writing tips from previous authors on my blog. As always, feel free to share your author tips in the comments.

You’re the only one with the ultimate vision of the story you’re trying to tell. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Join a writers' group, attend classes or workshops, and never stop reading. Exercise those writing muscles! Set goals and deadlines for yourself, and meet them. Persevere in your quest to become a published author, and enjoy the ridePat McDermott, author of the YA series Glimmer.

It is difficult to find time to write sometimes. However, you can always find the time to imagine or daydream. File those thoughts away in your mind, record yourself on a handheld tape recorder, or jot them down on a piece of paper for when you have time to writeCrystal Marcos,  author of the YA series The Cresecren Chronicles: Novus

Keep writing! If one idea doesn’t work out, go on and write the next bookMariko Layton, author of the MG multicultural story Ayumi’s Violin.




And Now,
Please welcome MG author Emily-Jane Hills Orford
to Carpinello's Writing Pages

I'm pleased to welcome Emily-Jane back to my blog. One of the greatest advantages of writing today is the opportunity to become friends with authors from all over the world. Emily-Jane is one of these friends.

Here's a bit about Emily-Jane:
 
An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, Emily-Jane used this talent to create stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As she grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories.

Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Mrs. Murray’s Ghost: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1 (Telltale Publishing 2018) which was named finalist in the 2019 N.N. Light Book Awards, Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 2 (Telltale Publishing 2019), Mrs. Murray’s Home: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 3 (Telltale Publishing 2020), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018) which won the 2019 N.N. Light Book Awards, King Henry’s Choice (Clean Reads 2019), and several other books.

Why did you pick to write books Middle Grade?

Actually, I write in several genres, but Middle Grade is my preference. I enjoy the idea of re-visiting my childhood memories. I think some of the best books I ever read were written for the Middle Grade audience: C.S. Lewis, Mary Norton, Gene Stratton-Porter and, of course, our blog host. Plus, I’ve taught music and creative writing to this age group, so I feel most comfortable writing for this age.

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

I like to read multiple genres (mostly the same as the genres I write): mystery, historical fiction, memoir, creative nonfiction, animal stories. When I’m not writing, I’m doing something else something equally creative: collage painting, needle art, baking, gardening, composing music and playing the piano, and, most important, reading.


Tell us about Mrs. Murray's Home and how the story came to be.


Mrs. Murray’s Home is the third book in the Piccadilly Street Series, which has been compared to Harry Potter. Home is where the heart is, or so they say. It’s also been said that a home is a person’s castle. But home is also with family and friends. Mrs. Murray longs for home, the family home, a castle an ocean away. The Brownies also crave for home, the same castle Mrs. Murray considers home. And Granny? Mary’s Granny hasn’t been home since she was Mary’s age. It’s time to visit the homeland, Scotland. Mary’s excited to tag along with Granny, Mrs. Murray and the Brownies. And then there’s the witch. The one they thought they’d killed. And the treasure. The one they had found. And it all ties together, for better or for worse.

I started this series with the idea of re-visiting my growing-up years in an old Victorian Mansion that was haunted. Some of the things I write about in these stories really happened; some are mere fragments of what my grandmother described as my “vivid imagination”. Oh! And Granny (as we called her when we were younger) is one of the main characters in this series. Basically, these books are, in some ways, personal memoirs combined with fantasy and lots of adventure. The stories are set in the 1960s, when my family first moved into the haunted house, and it includes some of my childhood friends and nemeses, including the schoolyard bully whose memory haunts me to this day (moreso than the ghost).

Here's a peek at Mrs. Murray's Home:

“No, you can’t.”

“I can too.”

“Leave her alone.”

“Let her sleep.”
 
“Quiet!” Mary covered her ears, forcing her eyes to open. She shrieked when she did and slid backwards to the headboard of the bed, curling her legs in front of her, in a feeble attempt to protect herself.

“Now you’ve done it.”

“I have not.”

“She’s awake, isn’t she?”

“Should have let her sleep.”

“Who are you?” Mary looked around the room, crammed full of, what? Ghosts? No. It couldn’t be. Gathering her wits about her, she asked the only question that came to mind. “Where’s Mrs. Murray?” She was one ghost Mary trusted and with whom she felt safe.

“Here.” Came the chorus of ethereal voices. “We’re all Mrs. Murray.”

“No!” Mary shook her head vehemently. “It can’t be. If so, where is my Mrs. Murray?”

The response was so loud, Mary was forced to cover her ears. “Stop!” she shrieked. “One at a time. Didn’t anyone teach you some manners?”

How do you go about researching for your stories?

When research is needed, I make use of the internet. There are a lot of resources available at the tip of our fingers. I also read a lot of nonfiction and possess a huge collection of books. (When we last moved ten years ago, the movers complained about the 500+ boxes of books. I’m sure it’s more now.) I used to frequent the public archives, but with most of the resources now available online, I find it much more convenient, especially with lockdown restrictions still in place for accessing public spaces.


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


I have written a lot. My genres include: historical fiction/fantasy (Queen Mary’s Daughter and King Henry’s Choice), creative nonfiction (It Happened in Canada Books 1, 2, & 3, Personal Notes, The Whistling Bishop, F-Stop: A Life in Pictures”, Ukulele Yukon, Amazingly Extra-Ordinary Women, and To Be a Duke), mystery (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), and, of course, Middle Grade and Young Adult, which includes this series, as well as Gerlinda (another childhood memory story). I also have several unpublished books in each of these genres looking for a publisher, including, surprisingly for me, a couple of dystopian novels.

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

Always. Another dystopian novel – must be the lockdown, Corona virus conspiracy theories getting to me and affecting my creative output.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write. Don’t procrastinate. Just write. Even bad writing is better than no writing, and it’s a step in the right direction as the more we write, the more we improve.


Anything else you want readers to know?


Support an author by posting a review. We all depend on our readers and their opinions (both good and not-so-good).

Where can readers find you and your books?

Author Links:
 
Website
Facebook
Twitter  
Goodreads


Purchase Links:



Amazon



 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Writing Tips & Meet MG Author S. N. Bronstein

Welcome back to Carpinello's Writing Pages! I've been busy transferring my Arthurian Legend books over to Silver Quill Publishing, my author co-op. Just finished this last week. Now I'm working on publishing my Guinevere trilogy in an eBook collection. So far, it's time consuming, but no major problems. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Before I introduce us to our author, hear are some writing tips from our archives. The key is that writing tips don't go out of style. Please leave your tip(s) in the comments. All my readers would appreciate the share.

Succeeding in the field of writing comes down to three things: Practice, Patience, and Persistence. Without those, you’ll never make it. As writers, we never stop learning, and we never stop practicing our craft and trying to improve. We learn early on to be patient with ourselves and our stories and this crazy business of writing and publishing. We also learn to be persistent and to never give up on the projects we care about, even if that means multiple rewrites, multiple submissions, a radically different approach to publishing or marketing, etc. We are strong people, we writers, and we love what we do. We’re lucky

Just write and don’t let anyone else decide what success meansWilliam Stuart, author of



And now,
Please welcome Middle Grade author fellow educator S. N. Bronstein to Carpinello's Writing Pages


First, here's a bit about S. N. Bronstein:

I worked 34 years in a large metropolitan area school system. During those years I was a teacher, crisis counselor, investigator of student at risk cases, and Regional Supervisor.  Following my retirement I began writing and publishing novels for both adults and children.I still live in Florida with my wife and our cat Nugget. You'll see why I mention Nugget when you read on.

Why did you pick to write books for upper middle-graders?

My decision to begin writing MG books came about after publishing a number of adult crime stories called The Fairlington Lavender Detective Series.
I reasoned that if adults enjoyed crime stories, then why wouldn’t MG students enjoy age appropriate stories with the same theme? Of course the nature of the crimes and the plots would have to be altered to be consistent with the age group.  MG students can learn a great number of important life lessons from this genre. This resulted in The Private Eye Cats series being published.



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

I enjoy reading historical non-fiction when I am not writing. I also enjoy home improvement projects.

Tell us about The Private Eye Cats series and how the stories came to be:  

The Private Eye Cats series consists of two books; The Case of the Neighborhood Burglars and The Case of the Kidnapped Dog. The plots follow two sister cats who live at home with their ‘humans’ and at one point decide to become private detectives.
 

How such an implausible challenge could be realized is revealed early in the first book. Special skills the cats possess that the readers learn of allow the two feline ladies to pull this off. Scooter and Nugget solve two separate crimes in the area of their home.

Here's a peek at The Case of the Kidnapped Dog:

I think I talked about it in our first book, but in case you don’t remember, with cats it’s all about the action. Cats have a need to find out everything about everything. It’s called curiosity and as my older cat sister Scooter taught me, it’s part of our instincts. We have no choice in the matter. Dogs can be content sitting around the house, going for a walk twice a day, and chasing after a ball and bringing it back to their humans until they pass out from the heat. Not us. We can play the ‘make the humans happy’ game like any other house pets, but our real goals are to explore, find out what’s up, and stick our noses exactly where they don’t belong.
 

It was this instinct to get into the action that got me, Nugget, and my sister Scooter into so much trouble last April. During that month I wanted to find a way to sneak out of the house once our humans, Tony and Misty, went to work. Well, I did find a way out.                      
 

I convinced Scooter to join me on a trip to the outside world. Against her better judgment, she finally agreed.
 

Scooter’s decision to join me on a tour of the real world beyond our four walls led to all kinds of mischief. Once she heard about some burglars breaking into houses on our block, she dreamed up the idea that we should help the police catch the crooks.
 

Well, we did help the police solve the case. We caught the criminals who were responsible, and we became Private Eye Cats.

How do you go about researching for your stories?

I had to do very little research for the MG books given that I had extensively researched many of the forensic details for my adult crime stories. A big positive here is that the cats are ours in real life.

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

The Private Eye Cats series includes two books so far: The Case of the Neighborhood Burglars and The Case of the Kidnapped Dog.


My adult series consist of four cases worked by Detective Fairlington Lavender in South Florida. The books include The Case of the Miami Philanthropist, The Case of the Miami Blackmailer, The Case of the Miami Vigilante, and The Case of the Yellow Flower Tattoo.  The WIP  and final addition to the series is The Case of the Small Town Coroner. All are fast paced thrillers where the MC faces almost insurmountable odds in bringing the antagonist to justice.


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

Aside from the adult WIP, I am planning a third in The Private Eye Cats series.

What advice do you have for other authors?

For novice authors I advise them to follow their instincts when sitting down to write. Don’t count words, don’t count pages, and don’t write when your creative side is not in gear. Let the story flow from your mind to the page without a lot of concern for rules.  There is one rule for writing…there are no rules.
 

Of course, proper grammatical form is a must and all books have to be logical in terms of the story line moving along.
 

Writing is easy. Editing is a challenge. Getting published by a traditional house is even more of a challenge. Marketing and selling your works is the most frustrating of all. But never give up, ever.
If there is ‘a book in you’ then write it.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Keep reading regardless of whose books you decide to select.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Website  

Twitter

My books can be found on the site, sample chapters read, and books can be purchased in all formats directly from Amazon. My books are also available from most on-line book sellers.

 
 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Meet Middle Grade Author Rae Knightly & Writers' Tips

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes you back. Before we get to our author interview, here are some writing tips from our authors.
 

Know why you write and be passionate about following your "Why", for you will encounter many times of discouragement when only your "why" will see you through. Always know, if you're not passionate about your "why" no one else will be either...L. R. W. Lee, author of Vision of the Griffin's Heart.
 

The best advice I can give is write daily, even if it’s only a few paragraphs and read every chance you get...Steve Altier, author of Lizardville - The Ghost Story.
 

Keep going, keep learning, keep developing. Manage your expectations. Only do it if you love it and want to do the best you can...Steve Griffin, author of The Dreamer Falls (The Secret of the Tirthas).

And now, 
Please welcome MG author Rae Knightlyto Carpinello's Writing Pages


First, here's a bit about Rae:

My name is Rae Knightly. I write science-fiction adventure novels for teens.

I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, with my family and a cuddly cat. The natural beauty of the mountains and ocean of the West Coast inspired me to write The Alien Skill Series. Looking at our planet from an alien’s point-of-view is a good way to highlight how stunning and important the Earth is to us, humans.

I love to go for walks, take nature photographs for my Instagram feed, and speak different languages. A language is the doorway to a people’s culture and history. They fascinate me, which is probably why I became a translator!

Visiting a touristy place is not enough for me. I love culture shocks, so I’d much rather spend a long time in a country and absorb as much of its culture as I can. I have lived in Belgium, Africa, Scotland, Arizona and Mexico. Canada is my new, long-term home from where I can travel even further in thought - to distant planets.

You’re welcome to come along!

Why did you pick to write books for upper middle-graders?

I have fond memories of books from my middle-grade years. I was quite a book nerd back then! I was introduced to worlds of magic, fantasy and science-fiction through Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, Monica Hughes’ Earthdark and Lois Duncan’s Stranger with my Face.

These books inspired me and, as an adult, I was able to go back, sift through the treasure trough of imagination I’d left behind in my youth, and write my own stories.

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

I enjoy reading science-fiction and fantasy. The last book I read and loved was Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward. I devoured Terry Brooks’ The Shannara Chronicles, The Ice People by Rene Barjavel, Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell and Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist. These stories often combine the real world with elements of magic and wonder, which is something I strive to offer in my own books.

Anything is possible in the realm of fantasy and science-fiction. They mirror the real world and show us a positive path into the future, guiding us as we figure out what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong as a species.

When I’m not writing, I run a small translation company as I’m a translator by formation and speak four languages: English, French, Spanish and Flemish.

Tell us about Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall and how the story came to be.

Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall
is the first book in my science-fiction adventure series, The Alien Skill.

It tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy, Ben Archer, who is entrusted with an alien power and goes on the run from government agents with an alien man called Mesmo. However, time is running out for Ben as he uncovers why his alien skill is so important to both aliens and humans.

This story came to be when I decided it was time for me to prove to myself that I could write a story from start to finish. I was going to start with something easy and write a short novella.

The alien character, Mesmo, was born on the back of a truck. You see, I was stuck in traffic one day, staring at the back of a truck, from which the letters had peeled. The only letters remaining were M-E-S-M-O. I spent a good part of my ride wondering what those letters could have stood for. I then decided I would write a story about Mesmo. It was a good a place to start as any, right?

Fast-forward five years, and my short ‘novella’ has now turned into a six-book series!

My stories often stem from a strong feeling that I want to convey to the reader. In this case, I wanted to convey a sense of loss, a sense of longing for something that is no longer there. I then created the characters and plot that led the reader to this feeling. In my mind, a story is well told if the author succeeds in leaving the reader with a strong (good or bad) emotion, long after they have finished the book. I hope I did a good job!

Here's a peek at Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall:


“The thing is, it wasn’t meteors that fell into the woods that night. It was alien spacecraft.”

When UFOs crash into the fields next to his grandfather’s house, twelve-year-old Ben Archer becomes a cumbersome witness in the eyes of the government. Not only that, but Ben discovers he has been entrusted with an alien power.

Government agents rush in to remove all evidence of spacecraft and extraterrestrials. The media are led to believe meteors fell in the area and they dub the event The Cosmic Fall. But when Ben's involvement comes in the spotlight, he is forced to flee with the sole survivor of the crash: an alien man called Mesmo.

And while the destinies of boy and alien become inextricably linked, one question hovers above their unlikely friendship: why did the aliens come to Earth in the first place?

How do you go about researching for your stories?
I don’t think I could have written my stories before the era of the internet. The internet has opened up a world of possibilities for me. I can research anything, from grammar to synonyms to street names and weird themes such as avalanches, black holes or deep ocean trenches.

I couldn’t do this, either, without the invaluable help of my editor and other authors that gather in Facebook communities and discuss the do’s and don’ts of writing. Anytime I have questions, I can ask them and receive bucket-loads of information in return. I try to do the same and offer any information I can when a fellow author needs help on a subject.

Sometimes, news articles will inspire my stories, such as last year’s fires in the Amazon rainforest, the discovery of ice geysers on one of Saturn’s moons, or the closing of illegal orca whale rearing pools discovered off the coast of Russia.

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

 The Alien Skill Series currently comprises four published books, with book 5 coming out on September 17, 2020 and book 6 in the making.

All four books are regular Amazon bestsellers with above 4-star ratings.

Books in The Alien Skill Series:
Ben Archer and the Cosmic Fall;
Ben Archer and the Alien Skill;
Ben Archer and the Moon Paradox;
Ben Archer and the World Beyond;
Ben Archer and the Star Rider;
Ben Archer and the Toreq Son.


Readers can read a free prequel to The Alien Skill Series when they register to my mailing list on my website www.raeknightly.com. I highly recommend reading this prequel, as it is also the back story to a future science-fiction series I will write: The Lost Space Treasure.

I have a YA, dystopian novella on Wattpad called The Unit, where my main character’s point-of-view shifts as she goes from being a nameless unit to a person who becomes aware of herself.

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


I’m currently wrapping up book 5 in The Alien Skill Series: Ben Archer and the Star Rider. In this story, Ben’s alien skill attracts the attention of the wrong people and he is kidnapped. His alien friend moves heaven and Earth to find him, but also lands himself in unexpected danger.

I will then write the 6th and final story in the series, Ben Archer and the Toreq Son, in which human life is threatened by an alien species who consider us unworthy of survival, judging by the way we treat our planet.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Writing a book from start to finish is the toughest thing I’ve ever achieved - and also the one I am most proud of.

If you feel you have a story in you, don’t try to rush things. Remember what they say: Rome wasn’t built in a day! Write a first draft. You can edit a first draft over and over again. You can’t edit a blank page! It doesn’t matter if your first draft is terrible (full of spelling mistakes, plot holes and a writing style that makes you cringe). It’s a start! It’s something you can work with.

Break down your story, focus on one paragraph at a time, write a little bit every day. Consistency is key!

You can’t write a book on your own. Find a professional book designer, get an editor, set up a website and social media where your fans can find you. Join author groups on social media. You’ll find support and uplifting messages when things get hard. Other authors know what you’re going through.

Anything else you want readers to know?

The Alien Skill Series is a great gift for children aged between 10 and 14, though readers of all ages have enjoyed the books.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Website

Facebook

Twitter

My books are available on Amazon and in any brick-and-mortar store upon request.

The Alien Skill Series is available in different formats: Kindle Unlimited, ebook, paperback and hardcover.

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