Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rita Durett, Keeping Secrets

AUTHOR: Rita Durrett
BOOK TITLE: Keeping Secrets
GENRE: Young Adult

Please tell us about yourself.
I am an emerging author. Over 35 years in the field of education have given me insight and knowledge about American families. I have spent my entire life in Oklahoma. Living in the mid-west has exposed me to individuals as unique and inspirational as the land they inhabit. I feel like the bits and pieces of each of the myriad of personalities I’ve come across in my sixty plus years of life help me create memorable characters that, I hope, come alive on the page and grab at your heartstrings.
I am a mother of two sons and grandmother to four young boys. My own mother resides with me. I belong to a cat named Mousey and I have two big attack dogs that might lick an intruder to death, but I’ll admit, wouldn’t bite unless someone was getting between them and their food.

Please tell us your latest news.
I’m in the last stage of editing my Young Adult novel, Borrowed Time, to be published by 4RV Publishing, hopefully this year. The following is a short synopsis:
 Love is in the air as Sabrina Anson gives her boyfriend, Camden, a goodbye kiss and walks out of the school door where destiny sweeps her away to another place in time. Her parents, Camden and the life she knows are gone. In their place are a mother and daughter who take her in and give her everything she needs, except her memory and her missing family.
Forced to blend into the new life, she enrolls in school and meets many new friends, including the popular and incredibly handsome Bobby Watson.  Attracted to him from first sight, she wants his attention. But that’s not easy as she stumbles through the foreign life and learns to survive without memories to guide her. Her heart seeks his at every opportunity. But, just when things begin to go her way, everything falls apart.
Desire conflicts with destiny and Sabrina is caught in the middle. She battles for control and can only hope the borrowed time will enable her to end up with her true love.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I am a part-time writer, full-time teacher. I must work around my real-life teaching job, to be able to afford to write. That writing usually takes place after 7 p.m., when everything has quieted down. I also take advantage of conferences and week-end vacations. A quiet hotel room proves to be very inspirational for me. My family can enjoy the sights, equipment room, and swimming pool, while I write. Short breaks to keep an eye on family activities give me an opportunity to stretch and think.

When and why did you begin writing?
I took a break from teaching in the mid-nineties. During that time I accepted a job that provided varied days off. I woke up one morning on a day off and told myself I was going to write my long contemplated book. I sat down at a word-processor, a machine with computer qualities, but more closely related to a typewriter, and began writing. I had been thinking about the book for so long that I typed out three chapters that morning.

 What inspired you to write your first book?
My inspiration for writing happened 25 years before I actually began the process. I listened to a local judge speak about what constituted child abuse, the second year I began teaching. Through the next five years I had two young ladies in my class who experienced incest with their fathers. I also had a young lady who became pregnant the year following her graduation and was afraid to tell her parents. She chose to go through the pregnancy and have the child on her own. All of these occurrences greatly influenced me. Another ten years passed, and I decided I wanted to write their stories. So I did. I combined them into my Young Adult novel, ‘Keeping Secrets’.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
I have two publishers. The first, Gilcrease Publishing, is a small independent publishing company, established by myself, with several talented friends and family members. We have editors, cover artists, and promotion people.
My publisher for ‘Borrowed Time’ is 4RV Publishing. A publishing company out of Enid, Oklahoma. I met the owner, Vivian Zabel, while doing editor/publisher interviews at the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation conference in Oklahoma City a few years back. I gave a pitch on my book and she invited me to send a review package to her. I did, she presented me with a contract, and we are now in the process of publishing.

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
In the coming-of-age novel, ‘Keeping Secrets’, three-year-old Caitlyn Grant’s mother passed away and left her living with the step-father. Now she is seventeen and pregnant. She fears being forced to get an abortion if her stepfather finds out. He doesn’t know yet, and if she can help it, he never will. Gathering courage from her mother’s childhood lessons of faith, Caitlyn goes to school as usual one morning and disappears.
Facing the world as a runaway, she has the challenge of hiding from her step-father and keeping her past hidden from those in her new world. She is desperate to find a home, safety and security. What she finds is a formidable, rugged and handsome Forest Thompson. He wants to be a part of her life, but there are so many things she can't tell him. How many secrets can a young girl keep without being found out?
‘Keeping Secrets’ is a story of courage, determination, and most of all, it is a story of love.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?
I have been teaching 9-12 grade Family and Consumer Science classes for nearly forty years. I’ve also raised two boys. They, along with their friends, have opened my eyes to world of male teens!

Why do you feel qualified to write a children’s or teen novel?
My novels tend to lean toward the female perspective, but I know how my son’s would have reacted in a given situation. During my time as a teacher I’ve interacted with that age group on a daily basis. I’ve become very familiar with issues my students face. They share with me their heartaches and disappointments and their joys in life.
I’m privy to unimaginable overheard conversations. Many of my students are loved and protected by very capable parents. Many are not. Some of my students take care of their parents, or live with grandparents. Grandparents who are aging and tired of raising children.

Is this your first published children’s work?
Yes, this is my first published children’s work. I was inspired from a need to express frustration and anger over the family abuse going on in this country. I wanted to write, from the girl’s point of view, of how she used courage and determination to overcome powerful forces trying to destroy her life.

What other types of writing have you done?
I have written several short stories and they are published in ‘Shades of Gray a Short Story Anthology’. I like romantic Suspense. I’ve written two romantic suspense novels. I call them twins. They are not connected of necessity, but have several characters in common. Below is a short synopsis of each.  
 Smugglers in Paradise: Megan West has planned a relaxing vacation, but when she meets Travis Mankiller all of that changes. Her luggage is stolen, death threats overheard, and hot passionate sex engaged in before she has even boarded the cruise ship. The dark headed, brown eyed stranger is rude, arrogant, and probably dangerous, but she can’t help but fall in love with him. Red, the curator seems so much safer and is very willing to take care of Megan. She just doesn’t want him. She wants Travis, and he wants her, for whatever reason. So, she is his. But Megan doesn’t know if she can rely on Mankiller to protect her, or if his kiss will be the kiss of death.
Travis has missing art and artifacts to find, but some little minx keeps getting in his way. He’d love to get rid of her, but she is the key to his suspect, and to his heart.
Together they embark on an adventure of mystery and intrigue, but the overriding theme is of love, romance, and passion as hot as the tropical background in which it is set.

Calypso Princess: Maria Fuentes, a beautiful med student from the economically depressed island of Cuba, is kidnapped and smuggled to Nassau aboard the Calypso Princess. Fearing for her life, and desperate to protect herself from being ravaged by her captors, Maria takes advantage of the protection offered by one of her guards. She has no way of knowing if the protection he offers is real or a ploy to have her for himself. She decides to follow her heart.
Kyle Alexander is a teacher, a very good one. He has sought and been offered a summer job teaching English at a school for women in Nassau. When he accepts the job he is told his first assignment will be to board the Calypso Princess and help the crew go pick up cargo. He expects the cargo to be food, books or tools, but their shipment turns out to be kidnapped women.
Kyle knows he is in over his head. What he has done will get him thrown in prison or, at the very least, he will lose the teaching license and career he has worked so hard to achieve. His first inclination at returning to port is to hightail it back to the safety of his quiet Oklahoma life. The rub to that solution is he has fallen in love with one of the captives. Now he can’t get her out of his mind.

Describe your writing space.
My favorite writing space is my recliner. I have tables and storage on either side, a good lamp, and ear buds to block the TV for me, and my computer volume for my family. That way I can spend time with family and still concentrate on my work. I don’t have to wonder what everyone is doing.

What has been your favorite part of being an author?
My favorite part of being an author is the opportunity to share some of my life wisdom with young people. I have lived through a lot and feel I can have a positive influence on other people’s lives.

What has been your least favorite?
My least favorite part of being and author is the editing, over and over and over! Wait, is that called writing? I guess I should say the “story” often comes easy for me, but the actual correctly written manuscript is a little tougher. I like it all.

PUBLISHER: Gilcrease Publishing

Friday, April 25, 2014

Iva Valentino, Black Cats and Ballet Slippers

AUTHOR: Iva Valentino

BOOK TITLE: Black Cats and Ballet Slippers
GENRE: Middle Grade Humor

Please tell us about yourself.
Hello! My name is Iva and I write books for tweens. I have a background in biology and have previously worked for many years as a teacher. I live in Arizona with my husband and our dog, Lupo.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m a part-time writer. I also work as a science editor for an educational publishing company. This is the best of both worlds for me, because I love writing fiction and non-fiction! I work a full day editing books for kids at the publishing office, and then I come home and work for a few hours on my current fiction project. Even if I have a long day, I always carve out time for myself to write at home.

When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing short stories when I was in elementary school, maybe around 7 or 8 years old. I loved creating characters and coming up with fun adventures for them! My stories were always meant to be funny and to make people laugh.

What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote my first book about ten years ago. The book was about a young ballet dancer, and I wrote it for a writing contest. I was so determined to win the contest! In actuality, I did not win, but it felt great to have written a book. It was a great learning experience.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Come visit my website at www.ivavalentino.com!  I would also love to connect with you on Facebook. www.facebook.com/ivaavalentino

What are your current projects?
I’m currently working on a sequel to “Black Cats and Ballet Slippers.” The main characters from “Black Cats” will all play a part in it. I’m also excited to introduce some new characters!

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
My favorite things to do in my free time are taking a dance class of some sort, doing yoga, and taking pictures. I’ve recently gotten into the hobby of photography. I love it! I’ve got a lot to learn but I’m definitely getting better!

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
“Black Cats and Ballet Slippers” is a humorous book for tweens. It’s based in diary format, straight from the head of Gemma Mayfield, who is not only an amazing ballerina but also awesome at solving mysteries. She thinks her teacher is a witch and she’s determined to prove it!

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?
I taught middle school science for many years. I also taught after school dance classes. I really had a lot of fun working with this age group. I love visiting schools as a guest author and interacting with the students.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?
This book is meant to be lighthearted and funny. I want my readers to laugh and enjoy! I’ve always loved uplifting and hilarious books, the kinds that put you in a great mood. I’m hoping that my book will bring happiness to my readers.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
Yes! I always outline. I really like being organized and having things planned out. I don’t think I would be able to just sit down and write the book without knowing where it was going. After I outline, then I’m able to let the characters and story develop a little bit more.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
“Black Cats” was written in just one month! I wrote it in November, during NaNoWriMo. I wrote my little heart out every night. I gave myself daily goals for word counts, and did my best to reach them. It was quite challenging at times, especially since I was teaching school at the time and had very long work days. It was totally worth it! After the initial book was completed, I didn’t look at it for a couple of months. Then I sat down with it again and began editing with a fresh eye. Soon after that, I submitted it to MuseItUp Publishing and the book was accepted! I worked with many wonderful editors at MuseItUp to get the book to the final finished product.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
I love a variety of genres of books. I really love books that are funny. I tend to choose books that are part of a series. I get hooked on the characters, and then I want to keep reading more about them! I read a lot of YA novels, and recently I have been getting into more science fiction/fantasy.

Describe your writing space.
I have a home office that is just for me and my writing. My husband and I recently purchased a new home, and I feel really lucky that there was an extra room to make my writing sanctuary. I just finished painting the walls and putting up my favorite photos of all of my travels. I have quotes of inspiration all over the place. I even have a plant! (Although I frequently forget to water it.) I love the space!

Okay, so something REALLY strange is going on. Boys are from a different planet, but right now a few of them at Middleton are acting like they’re from a different universe. (Wait. Does this make sense? Is there more than one universe? Ugh. Maybe I should have paid more attention last year in Astronomy.)
So, by the time I got to Ms. Pruett’s class, I had already worked myself into a super version of “I Don’t Wanna Go To Class Because I’m Creeped Out!” mode. I walked into the Science Laboratory, and I swear I felt the cold of Building 400 smack me right in the face. I’m not kidding.
Of course Ms. Pruett was at the door, acting like her sweet old lady self (ha ha, I know better), and was welcoming all the kids into the classroom. I just kept my head down and muttered a hello as I passed. Staying below the radar was the goal. Then I sat down at my lab table and shivered a bit.
Joey sat down at the table just a second later. Normally he is really loud and obnoxious, cracking jokes, and calling to the other Soccer Jocks across the room. Today he was quiet.
“Hey,” I said, trying to be friendly. I thought maybe we could commiserate on us both having spells cast on us. Joey responded with a “hey” but didn’t say much else. Hello? Was this the Joey I knew?
“So, Joey, are you feeling okay?” I asked. “You know, after yesterday…”
Joey didn’t say anything, but began writing on a piece of paper. He folded up the piece of paper and passed it to me. I gave him a questioning look. He gave me a weird look back that I couldn’t decipher. The note was as follows:
     Hey Gemma,
     Sorry I gave you a hard time yesterday about the “Cute Boy” list. It was kind of rude of me.
That’s when it hit me that Joey hadn’t recovered from Ms. Pruett’s spell. For me it was just temporary, like a few minutes. But Joey was acting weird. It had to be the spell.
“Um, thanks,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.” I then started taking out all my school stuff so that I could look busy and not have any more awkward moments with Joey until he felt better. He was taking longer to recuperate.
After class I headed straight down toward the lunchroom. On the way there, I saw Trevor going in the opposite direction past me. Our conversation went like this:
            Me: “Hi Trevor!” (with a big smile and enthusiasm)
            Trevor: “Oh, hi Gemma.” (with zombie-like attitude)
            Me: “Okay, have a good lunch!”
            Trevor: “Okay, thanks. Bye.”
            I wondered where he was going, in the opposite direction from the lunch room when it was lunchtime. It took me another couple of moments to realize that the ONLY classroom in that part of campus was Ms. Pruett’s room. He was headed back toward Building 400!
            Yikes! I turned myself around in mid-stride and turned back the way I came. I knew there was no way possible that Trevor would be going to Ms. Pruett’s. Why would anyone in their right mind be going there by themselves?
            I didn’t want Trevor to think I was stalking him, because of course I would never do that. But just in case that’s what it appeared to be, I used as much stealth as possible. I walked in the shadows and stopped to peek out behind bushes and building walls. I saw him up ahead…just before he ENTERED MS. PRUETT’S CLASSROOM.
            My mouth fell open, and I just sort of stared at the door for a while.
            Weird things are going on here at Middleton. And I think Ms. Pruett’s behind it all!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mikki Sadil, Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters

AUTHOR:  Mikki Sadil
BOOK TITLE: Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters
GENRE:  Contemporary Middle Grade/Tween story.
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publisher
BUY LINK:  museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/69-our-authors-s/379-mikki-sadil; also on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and most major ebook distributors.

Please tell us about yourself.
I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother. I’ve been writing off and on for most of my life, but didn’t really settle down to it full time until Christmas, 2005, when my daughter sent me a box full of books on writing for children, with a note that said ( to put it politely), ‘Mom, get off your butt and start writing for real.’ July, 2006, I began my first of three courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature, sold my first article to a national children’s magazine eight months later, and decided I was, indeed, “writing for real.” By the time I graduated from my last course at ICL, in 2011, I had published more than 20 articles and short stories, and to date, have published more than 70, plus my debut novel, The Freedom Thief,  an historical adventure for kids age 10-13, set in pre-Civil War Kentucky.

What inspired you to write your first book?
From childhood on, I have been fascinated by the Civil War. When I studied it in school, I couldn’t understand how a difference in philosophy could be so drastic as to lead to a war in which, literally, brother was against brother. Of course, as an adult, I came to realize that most wars begin over a difference in philosophy, but none has ever been so dividing as that which caused the Civil War. I always knew that some day, I would write a story about some aspect of the Civil War, and The Freedom Thief is the result. I also grew up in a “modestly” racial family…I say “modestly,” perhaps not the right word, but my parents were prejudiced people, just not to the extreme. I learned, not from them, but from the educational world I grew up in to accept people of all kinds and colors. I wrote about slavery during the Civil War because the way African Americans were treated then, and even since the days of slavery, have always been appalling to me.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
YUCK! Those are my thoughts in a nutshell! LOL Truthfully, I hate the promotional part of publishing. I’m not the social networking butterfly it seems that one needs to be. I don’t like putting myself and my family “out there” for the whole planet to see. I don’t like asking that one buy my book. Yet, it seems that is the way an author has to do it these days, as the time of the publisher doing most or all of the promoting of books is long gone. Promotion is the most difficult part of the publishing game: writing the book is the easy part. Even getting it accepted is easy, compared to marketing and promotion. I’m still trying, and I’m most definitely still learning about how to successfully market/promote a book, and maybe someday, I’ll actually be successful, but I’m afraid that day hasn’t arrived yet.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
To be honest, I don’t remember ever getting what I would consider a “tough” criticism. I had great instructors at ICL, honest, open with their remarks and criticisms, but never tough on me. I’ve had the same critique group for seven years, and the same goes for them: they are very honest, very open in their opinions, but never hard or tough in any way. I truly have never received much if any negativity, but I have learned a great deal from the positive criticisms I have received in the almost eight years I’ve been writing for publication. My biggest compliment came from a professional reviewer, and I’ve pasted it below…it is the last part of her entire review of my debut novel.

THE FREEDOM THIEF should be required reading everywhere in the world...not just here in the United States. People are NOT possessions, and never should be.
FIVE STARS for this powerful children's book, and a

HUGE thank you for Ms. Sadil. Long may your writing voice be a beacon for the rest of us.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
Yes, I do have writer’s block, more often than I would like. It has only occurred in the last year and a half, and I think that is because of the trauma our family has gone through during that time. I get through it in different ways. Mostly, I try to let the work sit for a while, sometimes only a day or two, but sometimes it can take a month or more before I even want to get back to it. I want my mind to be completely away from the story, completely free from any little sniggling bit one of my characters is trying to get me to listen to. ( Sometimes, my characters and I just don’t get along at all.) By clearing my mind of anything related to the story for a period of time, I can then go back and start to work again with more of a clear idea of what to do, where I need to go from that point on, and how I’m going to get there.

I’m not one to outline, but I have found recently that by creating a “mind map” it can be very helpful in solving a problem or working through a situation that is blocking me. Using a mind map is helpful to me only when I do have problems, although I know a lot of writers use them instead of an outline to put the entire plot into perspective.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters is a book about bullying, but it is subtle. It doesn’t involve cyber bullying, or physical bullying. In doing research for this story, I learned a lot about the effect bullying has on kids today, both boys and girls. It is terribly disconcerting to read about all the things that happen in schools, on school buses, and on the Internet, and the total lack of concern about this situation that so many teachers and school officials exhibit. Mere children, 9, 10, 12 years old are driven to suicide, because no one, not even parents seem to believe that the bullying is that severe, that drastic, until it is too late. My story doesn’t involve that kind, that depth, of bullying, because I couldn’t bring myself to write something that dark. It is there, it is real, but it’s not in this book.

Who is your publisher, and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is MuseItUp Publishing. I submitted my query to them because I was referred by another author who is published by them. It has been a good relationship so far.

What are your current projects?
I am writing the first of what I hope will become a trilogy. It is WAY out of my comfort zone! It is a paranormal/historical/mystery. It doesn’t have the usual vampires and werewolves. It does have psychic abilities, gargoyles, and a few witches! The main character is a sixteen year old girl, whose parents own a traveling carnival in the year 1930. They come to a town in Iowa called Dead Man’s Crossing, and the entire carnival breaks down. In the meantime, MC Gabriela is hearing the voices of three little girls who have been brutally murdered in this town, it was never solved, and their voices beg her to find their killer. Don’t ask me why I had to write this novel…I don’t read paranormal books, nor watch paranormal movies or TV. But this young lady came to me in the middle of the night, and informed me she had a story to tell, and I had to write it. Well, you know you NEVER ignore your characters! So here I am, in the middle of a story called Beneath the Possum Belly: Night Cries.

How can we find you?
Facebook: Mikki Sadil
Twitter: Marienne Sadil @ Mikki Sadil

Tell us about the current book you are promoting.
Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters is the story of thirteen year old AJ Devlin, who has two BFFs, a champion Quarter Horse mare, and who thinks her life is just about as perfect as it can get. Until the new girl, Celine Carroll, comes to town. From the moment they meet at the eighth grade cheerleading tryouts at West Haven Middle School, Celine seems out to destroy everything AJ holds dear. From the very first day, Celine insinuates herself into AJ’s life, taking over Jaime and Julie, AJ’s BFFs in every way possible. The two Js seem almost hypnotized by this new girl, who manages to insert herself into their cheerleading partnership with AJ, leaving AJ with two girls, Lisa and Amberley, the most disliked girls in school, who are now her partners. From day one forward, nothing goes right for AJ, and her life becomes one disaster after another.

This is the story of bullying, but the most subtle kind of all…a silent, indirect bullying that involves the hatred of one girl directed towards another girl, who has no idea of the reason for it or behind it…for the two have never met until now.

What genre do you write in and why?
I write historical and contemporary novels for middle school kids and tweens. I love this age kid…they are still wide-eyed about the world they live in, they still want to learn from books they love, and they are still innocent in ways that will be gone before very much longer. I think most kids this age are still willing to read stories about historical events that have never captured their attention before, and they are willing to learn lessons from them for the future. I think they know about certain contemporary events and situations that happen around them, sometimes to them, and they are willing and even eager to read about different ways of responding and reacting to those same events.

Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done?
No, I have published almost 70 other short stories and articles for children. The very first thing I published was a non-fiction article about dung beetles. It was featured in the national children’s magazine ODYSSEY, and was from an assignment for my first of three courses at the Institute of Children’s Literature. I wrote short stories and NF articles for over a year for an online children’s school publisher. These were for grades 4, 5, and 6. I published a book of Haiku poetry while I was in college, but other than that, all my other writing has either been professional or for children.

Why did you choose to write a children’s book?
Children fascinate me. They are so open, so honest, so inquisitive. They are intelligent, sensitive, giving, loving ,and they ask only to be heard, to be listened to, and to be understood. Children are so far above adults in so many ways. When I decided I wanted to write with the hope of publication, it just never occurred to me to write for adults. I love to tell stories, and there is never a better listener than a child. It just seemed natural to me that I should write stories that…hopefully…children would love, understand, and accept.

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children’s literature?
Yes! Learn your craft of writing, first and foremost. Listen to kids, talk to kids, hear what they have to say, and how they say it. Learn what interests them, and as important, what does not interest them. Listen to them talk about their daily lives, the situations they find themselves in, the life experiences they have and go through, whether they are elementary age, middle grade, or teens. Take classes in how to write for kids and teens…it is far different from writing for adults, AND it is harder. Many won’t believe this last statement but it is true. An example: an adult picks up a new book, reads the first few pages, thinks it might be an “iffy” kind of book, but goes ahead and finishes the chapter, maybe even the next couple of chapters before deciding if it holds their interest or they want to dump it. Take a kid of any age, give him/her a new book, and if the first few paragraphs or first page at the most don’t hold their interest, the book is dumped. Adults give writers a little leeway in deciding if a book is going to be read or not; a kid does not. Those first few sentences and paragraphs had better grab that kid’s interest, or the first page will never be turned. So again:1.Learn your craft; 2. Talk to and listen to kids;3. Take classes in how to write for kids and teens. In the end, you’ll never be sorry!

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
The first thing that bugs me is the way the book is written ,i.e. bad grammar and poor sentence structure. I don’t read to “find” those things, but they still jump out at me, and it shows me that no matter how interesting the story might be, it is poorly written and hasn’t been edited. A great many self-published books fall into this category. Another thing that bugs me is unsympathetic characters: the main character is shallow and not well-defined, often a “goody-two-shoes” in that she is rendered perfect with no flaws. The antagonist and/or villain are just the opposite, vile, evil, with absolutely no good qualities. No one is perfect and no one is all bad, so don’t make your characters that way!

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
My favorite part is the writing itself. I love to write, I love to listen to what my characters have to say, I love to fight with my characters. Sometimes my husband thinks I’ve kinda sorta lost my mind, but that’s okay, he’s not a writer. My characters talk to me and tell me what is going to happen. Example: in my current WIP, from day one the killer has been Papa, the MC’s father. I have written from that perspective, that at the end, she will find it is her father. One day in the shower ( uh, yes, in the shower), another of my characters started yelling at me, telling me what a dummy I am. He kept saying, “I’ve been at every single event that has happened, even if in the background, every time anything has gone wrong, I’ve been there. YOU DUMMY! I am the killer!” Well, gollygeewhiz, he is right. HE is the killer. I tried to explain all that to my husband, but he just thought I had lost it…again.
The least favorite part of being an author is the promotion we all have to do for our books. It’s very frustrating, and I’ve found it especially difficult since my books are for kids, and come out as ebooks. This pretty much discourages school visits, as the teachers want a print book to share with students. So the promo stuff is hard, and frankly, I…er…”dislike” it. Immensely!

Thank you, Penny, for having me here today. These questions have been fun and way different from most interview questions. I’ve really enjoyed answering them.
Mikki Sadil, author, Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters
MuseItUpPublishing, April 11, 2014

Monday, April 21, 2014

Christina Weigand, Sanctuary of Nine Dragons

AUTHOR: Christina Weigand
BOOK TITLE: Sanctuary of Nine Dragons: Book Three
GENRE: YA Christian Fantasy

Please tell us about yourself.

Christina Weigand’s a writer, wife, and mother of three grown children and a middle school daughter. She is also Nana to three granddaughters. She lives with her husband and youngest daughter in Pennsylvania, returning there after a short sabbatical in Washington. Currently, she’s working on fantasy novels and inspirational writing. Through her writing, she strives to share the Word of God and help people young and old to realize the love and mercy He has for everyone.

When she’s not writing, she’s active in her local Church as a lector, Bible Study, or with the church theater group, volunteering at her daughter’s school helping the children develop a love for reading and writing. Jesus fills her home with love as she shares Him through her writing. 

Please tell us your latest news.

The third book in the Palace of the Twelve Pillars trilogy: Sanctuary of Nine Dragons: Book Three was released on February 7, 2014.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I’m not sure how to answer this question. I don’t have another occupation outside the home. I chose to be a stay at home mom for my now 12/13 year-old daughter and my writing came out of that as well as a desire to have something creative to do. So while writing is my career, I am also a mother and a wife. Somedays I am a full time writer and other days a part time writer. Most days I write while my daughter is in school. I’d like to say I limit my writing time to then, but often it bleeds over into the time when she is home.  I also struggle with the facebook demons that suck up my time, but I am working on it.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve written pretty much since learning to put pencil to paper. When I was a child we played that we were a greeting card company and we used to put on little plays for my parents. Since there were six of us we had enough actors.

When I got to middle school I took a creative writing course which I loved and submitted an essay to a contest. I didn’t win, but that didn’t make any difference, because I had been bitten by the writing bug. In high school I wrote for the school newspaper as well as a small local newspaper. After high school I took a few years off from writing, to raise a family and support my husband while he finished his college degree. After going back to school and getting my own degree I finally returned to writing. Like I mentioned in the last question, I had a baby at forty one years of age and decided to be a stay at home mom. However after being so close to empty nest and being out in the world I needed a little more stimulation than only being a mom. I took a Children’s writing course. And the rest is history.

What is your marketing plan?

Marketing plan? You mean I’m supposed to have a marketing plan? Seriously though; My marketing is kind of done like my writing, by the seat of my pants. I try and have a presence on social media, and visiting blogs like yours because I believe that is the best place to reach my audience. Unfortunately since I am no longer a YA myself this is like traveling to someplace I have never been before and tends to be hit and miss. I am never sure if what I am doing is working and sometimes I just get so tired of it that I take a brief hiatus. I would much rather be writing than marketing.

What are your current projects?

I’m working on another YA series that will cover a lot longer period of time with a lot more characters. My dragons are travelling through the history of Christianity and showing up at crucial points to interact with the characters as well as some Biblical characters from the New Testament and beyond.

What do you plan for the future?

To keep on writing. I have submitted a middle-grade fantasy to my publisher, where a few of my dragons play a role in helping a ten year-old girl and her friends save the world from evil. And of course the younger generation introduced in the Palace of the Twelve Pillars, are angling to tell their stories. So I have no lack of projects. I just have to decide which one is screaming the loudest to be told.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Twitter: @CAWeigand
Email: palaceofthetwelvepillars at gmail.com

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

Joachim banishes Brandan to prison island of Hyogo. His infant son, Prince Airyn disappears from his cradle. A chain of events is set in motion that will pit brother against brother, friend against friend, parents against children as Brandan and Joachim struggle for control of their sanity and their very lives.
With Brandan declared dead and his son missing Joachim sinks into despair and anger, where those close to him fear he may never return.

Is Brandan really dead and if he is, who is manipulating the Mantion and enemies of Crato?
Can Maeve save her country and her husband from the tentacles of evil pervading the land?

What genre do you write in and why?

YA Christian Fantasy. I tried writing for young children and found that my stories were too long  for that audience. Then I tried writing for women, and although I still do that, I discovered somewhere on the journey that the YA and middle grade audience was the best place for my message. They are our future and they need to see all the choices that are available to them. They need to see both sides, both good and bad before they make choices for their lives.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens?

I have raised three children and am in the midst of teen angst for the fourth time with my 12/13 year-old daughter. I also have a 10 year-old granddaughter who lived with us until the last year. I have volunteered in my youngest daughter’s school in the library and the classroom helping the kids with writing and reading.

What influences your writing?

First my faith in God; Secondly my desire to have my children and other children have something to read that has a good moral base.

Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done?

Not counting the first YA novel that I published in 2010 the trilogy is my first. I also published a Bible study Women of the Bible: A Study.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

That there are choices. And that the choices you make whether good or bad have consequences.

What book are you currently reading? What do you like or not like about it?

I just finished Dana Faletti’s Whisper and going to start the second book in the series Wake. These are YA books and like mine have a good moral message without preaching. So many books for YA have messages contrary to what we want our young people to hear and Dana’s book stands in the face of those books by offering a positive message. 

Describe your writing space.

The Dragon’s Lair. We recently moved into a brand new house, so my space has been a work in progress. I have gone from white walls to purple walls. The color goes perfectly with my wood and glass L-shaped desk. Besides my desk, my office is filled with my dragons in all forms, from the stapler and calendar on my desk to the stuffed ones as well as the figurines. I also have a few globes scattered through my office as well as a piece of my own art and that of a few artist friends.


King Brandan stomped into the room. “Why, Brother, have you no throne prepared for your poor, missing brother? I’m hurt. I expected more from you and my sister-in-law. Maeve, dear, couldn’t you have helped him prepare better?” He stepped toward her, quickly grabbed her hand, and kissed it.

Joachim lunged at him, pushing him from the dais. Brandan staggered then regained his balance and gazed at his brother. “Why such violence, especially when I am so recently injured?”

Stepping off the dais, Joachim stood eye-to-eye with his brother. “Enough! You’re no more hurt than I am. And you have no business touching my wife, or sitting on Crato’s throne.”

Brandan laughed, pushed him aside, and stepped up to claim his throne. Joachim grabbed his twin's shoulder, spun him around, and punched him in the mouth.

Rubbing where Joa’s fist had landed, Brandan smirked. “Well, my brother has finally developed some stones.” He raised his other hand to hit Joachim.

Matthias stepped forward, sword in hand and grabbed his arm before he could hit Crato's king. He pulled the king’s brother away, so Joachim could reclaim his throne.

Jerking himself free, Brandan straightened his tunic. “This has been fun; but as you seem to be in no mood to visit, I shall take my leave. Come to me when you’re in a better frame of mind.”

“Stop! You are going nowhere until I say you can.”

Brandan stopped and looked at his brother. “What did you say to me? Is that how you talk to a fellow king and brother?”

“Yes, it is. As of this morning, you are no longer a king, and I’m not sure I should even call you brother.”

“Why dearest brother, whatever do you mean?” Brandan asked.

“Ever since we were boys, you have done everything you could to make trouble. I was always willing to forgive you and hoped you would change your evil ways. But no more! You have pushed me—pushed this country—too far this time,” Joa thundered at him.

 “What are you rambling on about?” Brandan sneered and bit a fingernail. 

“Brandan, I should sentence you to execution, but there are two things keeping me from that. First: you are my brother, and I hold onto a hope, however faint, you can be reformed…”

Brandan chortled. “Not a good bet, brother.”

“Second, I strongly suspect you of making two attempts on my life.  Unfortunately, I don’t have enough evidence to prove it was you. I punished one innocent man because of the little evidence we do have. I do not wish to make that mistake a second time.”

Brandan laughed again. “So, if we’re finished here, I’ll be leaving.”

“As I said before, you won’t be going anywhere until I say so. I may not have what I need to sentence you to death, but after your actions toward the queen this morning, I have some recourse.”

“What are you talking about? I did nothing she didn't ask for.”

Maeve rose from her throne. Joa put his hand on her arm to stop her.

“Brandan, I suggest you remain quiet until I finish.”

“Brother, you do not have the authority to do this. We are equals.”

“Do you not see the Adept Council before you? We met and discussed this matter at length... They have given me the authority.”

“This tiresome group of old men?” Brandan laughed. “They have even less power over me than you do.”

Ignoring Brandan’s comments, the king continued. “First, I strip you of your title. You are no longer King Brandan but will henceforth be known simply as Prince Brandan.” He paused and swallowed. He didn’t know if he could continue. The lump in his throat felt as big as a koali fruit. He swallowed again. Maeve grasped his hand. Warmth and reassurance enveloped him. He knew what he had to do.

“When we have finished here, Rupert, Salochin, and Master Frederick will take you to Rupert’s tower. There, they will strip you of your magical powers. When they are finished, Matthias and Wilhelm will escort you to the Port of Wyrzburg, where you will be put on a ship bound for Hyogo, the prison island. There you will remain for the rest of your life. You are never to return to Crato or Mahorg. You will live in the mountain abbey with the monks and work side-by-side with them.”

“You’re a misguided fool.” Brandan sneered. “If you believe that by exiling me, you are saving yourself from evil—think again. You may have peace and rest comfortably for a short while, but don’t assume I won’t find a way to come back and destroy you.” He stepped up to the thrones and leaned forward, placing a hand on each. The guards on either side of the king stepped forward to stop him. Joachim raised his hand signaling them to stop.

Brandan glared at the guard and muttered, “Freisen!” The man froze where he stood.

Brandan turned back to his brother and sister-in-law. “No, Joa. This is not over and what I did to your guard is nothing compared to the evils you will suffer by my hand.”

While he was speaking, Rupert chanted a binding spell. Matthias came forward and placed his sword tip to Brandan’s back.

The king put his good hand on his brother’s shoulders and pushed him upright as he stood. “You have done enough! Matthias, escort him to Master Rupert’s tower.”

As the prince was escorted from the room, Joa slumped back into his throne. It was done, he thought as remorse washed over him. A tear crawled down his cheek as Maeve squeezed his hand.  

PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publishing