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 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?




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!