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Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer School is Now in Session

That's right, I'm taking summer school. I enrolled for Nerdy Chicks Rule Summer School: Building Character organized by authors Kami Kinard and Sudipta Bardhan- Quallen.

The first class started today and was led by the amazing Kathryn Erskine (National Book Award Winner for MOCKINGBIRD among other brilliance). She challenged us to walk in our characters shoes. One of the activities we did was to take the Meyers Briggs test for our character. You can find one free here.

You can read her post here, but what would be even better is if you join me for summer school. You'll have access to exclusive webinars and great worksheets to use as we explore our characters and complete our "homework." The program is free and registration is still open here.

I hope to see you in class!

This week I'll be at The YA Club Tuesday and Mormon Mommy Writers Thursday.

Keep writing and believing in yourselves because you guys rock!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guest Post, Cover Reveal, and GIVEAWAY with Cortney Pearson and PHOBIC

In honor of her cover reveal, Cortney is giving away a $50 dollar Amazon gift card!

PHOBIC Series: The Forbidden Doors #1 Genre: YA Horror Release date: September 2014

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Fifteen-year-old Piper Crenshaw knows her house is strange. It’s never needed repairs since it was built in the 1800s, and the lights flicker in response to things she says. As if those things aren’t creepy enough, it’s also the place where her mother committed murder. To prove she’s not afraid of where she lives, Piper opens a forbidden door, which hides a staircase that leads to the ceiling. That’s when the flashbacks of the original residents from 1875 start, including a love affair between two young servants. Each vision pulls Piper deeper into not only their story, but also her house. Piper confides in her best friend, Todd, whom she's gradually falling for, but even he doesn't believe her. At least, not until her house gets axed during a prank, and the act injures Piper instead, cutting a gash the size of Texas into her stomach. Piper realizes her house isn’t haunted—it’s alive. To sever her link to it, she must unravel the clues in the flashbacks and uncover the truth about her mother’s crime, before she becomes part of her house for good.

From Cortney: As writers we are constantly gathering inspiration (whether we know it or not). An overheard conversation, watching people interact, teenagers laughing together, hearing others tell stories. I believe we subconsciously refer to our life experiences as we write and create stories. We have to. In order to generate realistic emotion and detail that readers can relate to, we have to have some kind of jumping-off-point to base them on. I'd like to share just a few things that sparked ideas for me as I created the world of PHOBIC, a world which is based on the ethereal aspect of seemingly ordinary places. Inspiration #1 My great aunt lived alone in this fantastic old house built by her father, my great-great grandfather. And it felt like stepping back through time every time I walked through the door. BUT. Right off from her back door--the entrance we always used--was a staircase. It wasn't long. It wasn't even hidden like those in my story. But this staircase led to Aunt Vay's basement with its concrete floor and old cast iron stove and that pair of metal roller skates that always sat alone on a shelf. I hated going in that basement, especially by myself. Looking back at these pictures now I wonder why I'd been so scared, but as a kid that basement was terrifying! The basement in PHOBIC plays a huge part in the mystery of the house Piper lives in. It's a place she's been forbidden from entering, but this time she's determined to find out why. Inspiration #2 Another instance happened at Aunt Vay's when my mom, sister, and I had pulled in late at night to sleep after traveling from California to Utah all day long. We were tired. It was cold and windy outside. And my mom couldn't find her key to the back door. We tried that knob several times and then as I went to reach for the knob again, the door opened. All on its own. OPENED. My mom, sister, and I all exchanged looks and when I checked the knob (on the now open door), it was still locked. True story! So it prompted the opening and this scene in PHOBIC: My best friend Todd’s red pickup appears at the curb, spewing exhaust like the truck has a cigarette up its backside. I jerk up. My pulse kicks at the sight of him. That’s been happening a lot more lately, my insides flaring up and doing some sort of spastic dance whenever I catch sight of his alluring smile and dark curls. Leaving the second Pop-Tart on the table, I stuff my phone in my pocket and snatch up my backpack and clarinet case. I dart past the round, velvet-topped table in the wide hallway to the front door. I reach for the knob. It won’t turn. Heart pounding, I try again. One way, then the other. Chick. Chick. The lock mechanism is vertical. The door isn’t locked. “Not now,” I say under my breath. “Please not now.” The hairs at my nape skulk up one by one until they all stand on end. My wrist flicks, and the obstinate knob makes the same chick chick sounds. The eerie feeling spreads down the length of my arm, making the knob cold under my touch. What is going on? I’m used to my house doing strange things, but why won’t it let me out? Inspiration #3 The Winchester Mansion in California has also been intriguing to me, especially the staircase that leads to the ceiling. This whole house is completely creepy, but especially this: Piper's house also has a hidden staircase similar to this one. Her discovery of it knocks her sense of reality way off course, and she begins seeing flashbacks of the original residents of house. Which leads to... Inspiration #4 I LOVE romances, along with Victorian/Regency-era stories. So my final inspiration for the story--particularly the flashbacks that Piper has to the past--is: Downton Abbey (I know it takes place after the two eras above-mentioned. But still, inspiration.) It was after watching the first few episodes that my two star-crossed servants in love sprang into my head. There were many other sources of inspiration as well, but these are the main ones. What about for you? What inspires you when you write?

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR Cortney Pearson is a book nerd who studied literature at BYU-Idaho, a music nerd who plays clarinet in her local community orchestra, and a writing nerd who creates books for young adults. She lives with her husband and three sons in a small Idaho farm town.
Website | @cor2ney | FACEBOOK

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Middle Grade Monday with J.A. White and THE THICKETY

Israel Hall here, taking over Mom's blog again. I read THE THICKETY and then told Mom even she would like it. She did, so we emailed J.A. White and he let me interview him. Read below, and then read THE THICKETY. You won't regret it. It is full of a ton of surprises. 

IH: The book was amazing, really. I mean spiderwebs catching rocks, wow. Man, and what a cliff hanger. I haven't seen a cliff hanger like that since, well, actually, I've never seen a cliff hanger like that. It was a five star book. I especially like long books because long books give you a lot of time to read it every day. Your descriptions were amazing!

What do you think is the worst thing that Grace did?

JA: Grace really is awful, isn’t she? I’m sure a lot of readers will disagree with me, but I actually think the worst thing she does is in that first scene in the general store, when she takes Kara’s seeds.  Her later actions are evil, of course, but that is just flat-out mean.

IH: Oh, that's a good one. I hadn't thought of that one. When you named Kara's brother Taff, were you eating Laffy Taffy?

JA: Haha!  Sadly, I have never eaten Laffy Taffy in my life!  (But now I really want to try it.)  I’m not really sure why “Taff” is “Taff.”  It just seemed to fit, somehow.

IH: What are the ferries like? Are they old style ships? Since the animals are so different are the fish different too?

JA: Yes, the ferries are old style, like something you might have seen in the 17th century or so.  The fish are, for the most part, normal fish—with a few notable exceptions.  The really strange creatures are in the Thickety.

IH: Cool. Why did you call the Thickety, the Thickety?

JA: It’s like a thicket, but bigger…and with monsters.

IH: Mom told me a thicket is a clump of trees. I didn't know that, but now it makes sense. Is the Sordyr her uncle or grandpa or something to want her so bad?

JA: Sordyr wants Kara for a very specific reason, which I promise I will reveal in book 2!  Actually, it’s probably the most important secret in the book.

IH: I can't wait. What are the most dangerous creatures in The Thickety?

JA: I think you should answer that one for yourself after you read the second book! I got to make up a lot of creatures in that one.  So much fun…

IH: Can Taff (or any boy) but really Taff, work the grimoire?

JA: You ask good questions!  To the best of Kara’s knowledge, only girls can use grimoires.  Both Taff and Lucas have looked at a grimoire and seen nothing but blank pages.

IH: How long have people lived on the island? What year is it?

JA: The Children of the Fold have lived on De’Noran for centuries.  The calendar in Kara’s world is not the same as the calendar in our world, so I can’t really say what year it is in a way that would make sense.  Just for myself, I created a thirty-page historical outline, however, and in that I reference events as ‘A.K.’ (after Kara’s birth) and ‘B.K.’ (before Kara’s birth).  So, according to that reference, the year is 12 A.K.!

IH: Cool. Have you started book 2?

JA: Actually, book 2 is completely done.  I’ve seen the cover and all the illustrations, which are incredible!  Andrea Offermann is such an amazing artist.  I’m actually working on the third book right now, and I’ll be done with the first draft of that by the end of September.  (And then I’ll sleep.  A lot.)

IH: I can't believe you already finished it. I have to read it. March is forever. I am writing a book too. I'm 68 pages into it. Any advice or questions for me?

JA: That’s wonderful!  My advice would be to work on it consistently each day.  Even if it’s just for a short period—10 or 20 minutes—it’s important to touch base with your story.  This way, your mind will always be thinking about it, and sometimes you’ll come up with some cool ideas when you’re not even trying!  Good luck and keep writing!

IH: Thanks, you too. Bye!

J. A. White lives in New Jersey with his wife, three sons, and a hamster named Ophelia that doesn’t like him very much. When he’s not making up stories, he teaches a bunch of kids how to make up stories (along with math and science and other important stuff). He wishes dragons were real because it would be a much cooler way to get to work.