Author Angela Moody: You’re never too old

BetterLateThanNeverWritten.memeWhen I meet another mature author like myself with a debut YA novel, I want to break out the tiara and present her with a bouquet of roses. Or whatever a male author would like, I want to do that.

Today I interview Angela Moody, author of No Safe Haven. I remember when her manuscript was up for critique on the main Scribes loop of ACFW a few years ago, and I am tickled that she remembered me. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have.

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Angela, welcome to The Scriblerians blog!

Thank you, Cynthia. It’s a pleasure to be here.

We don’t often interview authors of historical YA fiction. When and how did you decide to write it? 

I’ve always loved historical fiction. Even as a young reader if it had to do with history, I was reading it. There are always those who say that writers like Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, etc., were not historical writers because they wrote in their contemporary time, but they were historical to me, and I loved all of those writers. As I got older, I read John Jakes, Anya Seton and countless other historical writers, including historical romance writers.

Did you always want to write about the Civil War? 

This may sound geeky, but yes. I remember in eighth grade writing a story for our social studies class and setting it in the Civil War period. The assignment was that we had two pieces of historical items that we had to research and find out what they were, and then write something about them. Everyone else did you standard essay, but I wrote a story. I remember my two items were a butter mold and a spittoon (which I originally thought was a chamber pot!) My story was about a young woman whose husband was off fighting for the Union Army and how much she missed him. She would often clean the spittoon that his father had given him as a wedding gift. Something like that. I do remember getting a good grade for the assignment because my teacher loved the story and its strong emotional content.

As I got older, I wanted to write a story about the Civil War set in the North, specifically Vermont, because I’m a Vermonter and all the stories I read seemed to center on the war as it affected the South. Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately), only one incident of the war reached Vermont, and that was the great St. Albans Raid. No battle was fought here though, so I never could think of a story compelling enough to set here in my native State.

How did you come to write a story based on a real girl in her teens during the Civil War? 

My daughter went to Gettysburg College for her undergrad years. After her first year was over, my husband and I decided to travel to Gettysburg a week early, while she was taking her exams. We would be tourists for a week and then bring her home. As we were coming back from the battlefield one afternoon, I happened to see a museum that had a line waiting at the door. On impulse, we decided to stop and actually found a parking spot right in front of the building! If you’ve ever been to Gettysburg, you’ll know that’s next to impossible. We got in the back of the line, thinking we could just wander through, but the man at the head of the line told us it was a paid tour and if we wanted to pay at the end, we were welcome to join the tour. We agreed and went through the Shriver House Museum. The Shriver House is located two doors down from Tillie’s home. The owners restored it back to its 1863 appearance to tell the story of the plight of the townsfolk. That was a revelation for me. Throughout the tour, I bombarded the man with questions, which he patiently answered. My brain was whirling with ideas about how to turn this into a story, and my husband leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “I smell a novel.” At the end of the tour, as I was paying him, he led me to a bookshelf and started pulling books off the shelf, saying I might be interested in reading them. As an afterthought, he tossed one more book on the pile, a slim little thing that turned out to be Tillie Pierce’s memoir of her experiences. When I read the book, she just jumped off the pages at me and I knew I had to write it.

How did you write the story to appeal to both northerners and southerners even though the girl and her family were Yankees? 

Research, research, research. I read everything I could get my hands on about the Civil War, mostly first person experiences. They aren’t hard to find. A great many soldiers kept diaries, as did a number of civilians. They seemed to have a sense that they were living a period of important historical impact and wanted to record everything they could. What stood out to me the most was that they were all just people who had the same dreams and desires we do. They wanted to go home, back to their wives and children, to live their lives as best they could, but knew they needed to do this terrible work first.

Interestingly, I found myself very disappointed with the abolitionists. We all think they wanted to end slavery and elevate the blacks from their social position. I do believe that we northerners have elevated the abolitionist almost to sainthood, so I was disappointed to realize that while they wanted abolition, they never thought past the end of slavery and what that meant, for the former slaves, or themselves. Really, in their minds, they felt that blacks should still be servants, but they should be paid servants. Even William Lloyd Garrison wanted to free them and send them back to Africa. As far as race relations goes, I wondered how much progress we’ve made, which helped bring those people down to the human level for me.

How did you feel about writing your first novel at a mature age?

I feel great about it. I don’t regret the time spent not writing. During that time, I married and raised a family. I did what was on my plate to do. I did write a novel back in the early 1990s that, Lord willing, will never see the light of day! That novel, however, taught me that I could write one. But, I’m a firm believer in the Lord working things out in His own timing to glorify Himself, not us. He needed me to go through things and to come to faith before He would open the door to writing my first published novel. I’m just humbled and honored He found me worthy.

What advice can you give authors who did not start writing straight out of school but may have been homemakers or had a completely different career for decades? 

I would say if you want to write, if it’s your passion, then do it. Don’t let your age stop you. You’re never too old until you’re dead, as my father likes to say. I have always wanted to write, even as a kid. I knew that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now that my kids are grown and out of the house, I can follow my passion. If that’s where you are, then I say, “Go for it.”

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Angela Moody lives in Vermont with her husband, Jim, her daughter, Alison and their two cats. Their son, Stephen and his wife, Amanda live nearby.

Angela has been writing short stories and novels from an early age, always in the historic fiction genre where she feels she shines.

One of her passions is crochet. From the time she learned the craft, she was “hooked”. She loves reading, writing stories and spending time with her family. One of the items on her bucket list is to visit every civil war battlefield site at the time of year each battle took place.

No Safe Haven is her first Christian novel and she has plans for two other historical fiction novels as part of a three book set entitled “Young American Heroines.”

Angela is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. You can find her at:

http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaMoody

Twitter: @AngelaMoody

Goodreads: https://goodreads.com/AngelaMoody

Blog: http://Grnmtnwrtr@wordpress.com

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Interview with Amy Brock McNew

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Amy Back in the day

 

Nickname:  I have a few, most I haven’t heard in a while. “Sista Mildred” was one. (Came from the DC Talk song, “Free at Last”. Long story!) There’s also “Bigfoot” “Ski Feet” and “Ina C. Stein”.

Genre:   Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Personal Philosophy:  There are two principles I live by. Always remember that what you give, how you treat people, and what you put out into the world comes back to you, and always protect those weaker than yourself.

Favorite scripture: Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Favorite quote: “Even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

In high school I was a… bit of everything all rolled in one. Part jock, part nerd, part music/band geek, part grunge girl. I like to defy labels. And I had friends from all groups. I’ve never been in to excluding people.

Do you see yourself a Christian author or an author of Christian fiction? What do you think the difference is? I am a Christian author. The Reluctant Warrior Chronicles is definitely a Christian series. The next one I have planned is not. Again, not much on labels. I find them restrictive. I write what I feel; the stories that invade my brain and won’t let me sleep. The difference? An author of Christian fiction only writes what can be classified as Christian fiction, in that there is always a strong Christian element and usually a “come to Jesus” moment. A Christian author may write something that wouldn’t be labeled as Christian fiction, but their faith informs their writing.

How long have you been writing? Since I learned the alphabet. I’ve always loved to make up stories.

Rebirth is about spiritual warfare and select people who can see angels and fight with them against demons. What inspired you in this story?   I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural and paranormal. I’d read Frank Peretti’s books and they got me thinking. What if people had to actually physically fight demons instead of only fighting through prayer? What if there were a select few who had a gift that allowed them to see into the spiritual world? What if some of our greatest fears and biggest problems actually became corporeal? What would that look like? In dissecting the interactions between humans and spiritual beings and trying to figure out what that would be like, I learned a lot about myself and my own beliefs.

I wanted to bring the battles to life, give those issues a face, and show that they can be beaten. That you are never alone in your battle. That there is always hope. As I was writing, I found myself believing that even more than I did.

How are you like the heroine, Liz? How is Liz different? Our past is almost identical. We’re similar in appearance. We both have issues with anger. We’re both very protective of those we love. And the biggie, we both had a call on our life that we were running from. How we’re different? Liz sometimes has a hard time articulating her emotions, at least, the mushy ones. I have no problem in letting people know exactly how I feel. She tends to shut down and shut people out. Often. My inner circle is always in the loop. Though, sometimes they have to pry things out of me. All in all, we are more alike than not.

Who is your inspiration for Ryland? As far as personality, likes and dislikes, the way he “handles” Liz, and the fact that he drives a big Dodge truck, my husband, Brian. Everything else is bits and pieces of people I know or have known.

What is something you’d like for us to know (behind the scenes) about Rebirth?

A lot of the banter and even some of the arguments between Liz and Ry are actually based on interactions between me and my husband. There is a lot of us in that relationship! I can be bull-headed and a spastic mess, like Liz, and Brian is my calm, my rock. He knows just how to get me off the edge of the cliff or chill me out, just like Ry does for Liz.

Also, some of you may already know, but my husband has helped choreograph almost every fight in the book, and we’ve acted out every single battle scene. In the back yard. Our neighbors depend on us for free entertainment.

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Amy Brock McNew

Rebirth:  Book One of the Reluctant Warrior Chronicles
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Paperback: $16.99, eBook: $4.99 (Pre-order Price of $2.99)
Love2ReadLove2Write Publishing, LLC

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“An action-packed tale of classic good versus evil from the depths of human despair and heights of God’s grace. Filled with romance, betrayal, love, loss and ultimate triumph.”

—Tosca Lee, New York Times bestselling author of Legend of Sheba
Rebirth has the sweet and spicy that romance readers love, with the action and intensity of spiritual warfare—but it is ultimately the story of a flawed heroine struggling to hold on to her faith and find her self-worth through the eyes of Christ that will touch this book’s audience.”
—Kat Heckenbach, author of Finding Angel
“With crisp writing, relentless action, and breathless stakes, Amy Brock McNew’s Rebirth will grab readers from the first page and keep them riveted until the last. Liz Brantley is sure to claim a spot on the list of favorite kick-butt heroines right alongside Black Widow and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fans of gritty urban fantasy won’t want to miss this ride!”
—Evangeline Denmark, author of Curio
Rebirth is a heart-wrenching, intensely spiritual novel. It definitely lives up to Amy’s promise of guts on the page—she is refreshingly raw and honest with her story.”
—H. A. Titus, author of Forged Steel

 

Liz Brantley has a gift she wants to return. Able to see and fight demonic forces, she has spent her life alone, battling the minions of hell bent on her destruction, running from the

God who gave her this curse. Drawn to her abilities, the demon Markus unleashes havoc on her hometown and pulls Liz further into the throes of battle.

She’s desperate for a normal life. When she meets a mysterious man who seems unaware of the mystical realm that haunts her, the life she’s always wanted moves within reach. But her slice of normal slips from her grasp when an old flame, Ryland Vaughn, reappears with secrets of his own. Secrets that will alter her destiny.

Torn between two worlds, Liz is caught in an ancient war between good and evil. And she isn’t sure which side to choose.

Bio:

Amy Brock McNew doesn’t just write speculative fiction, she lives and breathes it.

Exploring the strange, the supernatural, and the wonderfully weird, Amy pours her guts onto the pages she writes, honestly and brutally revealing herself in the process. Nothing is off-limits. Her favorite question is “what if?” and she believes fiction can be truer than our sheltered and controlled realities. Visit AmyBrockMcNew.com to learn more about this intriguing author.

Social Media Links:
Website: http://amybrockmcnew.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyBrockMcNewAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmyBrockMcNew
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/26955721-amy-mcnew
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/AmyBrockMcNew/
Purchase Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Sm5pNZ
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1So45GY
iBooks: http://apple.co/1So4l8S
Kobo: http://bit.ly/213uz67

Failure IS an option – by Kathrese McKee

Kathrese McKee is no stranger to the Scriblerians. Not only is she a great writer friend of mine, but we got to hang out with her at Realm Makers last year (the best conference for science fiction/ fantasy writers of faith). She also signed our slam book last year. Feel free to stop by that post to see the original cover of Mardan’s Mark and her high school picture. Two things she probably wishes weren’t still on the internet. 😉 

Now, please enjoy this wonderful post by a gifted writer.


During the Apollo 13 movie, Gene Kranz, the flight director played by Ed Harris, has this line: “Failure is not an option.” Then, he stalks out of the room, and his engineers scramble to find solutions. Man, I love that movie. And I loved that line.

In real life, Gene Kranz didn’t actually say that. He wishes he did, but he didn’t. In fact, he liked the quote so much, that he used it as the title for his memoir. I can appreciate the must-do philosophy in the context of the Apollo 13 emergency, but I disagree with it in the context of creative endeavors.

Failure is an option. I would argue that it’s the only option. How many authors write their tour de force on the first draft of their debut novel? How many painters create their masterpiece the first time they hold a paintbrush? How many screenwriters, sculptors, inventors, filmmakers, or dancers achieve the pinnacle of success before they have failed many times?

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~Thomas EdisonThomas Edison

Creative professionals must fine-tune their work, throwing out the pieces that don’t measure up and trying new ideas. That’s what happened to me on my debut novel, Mardan’s Mark. Actually, I think the writing is okay, but the cover is another story. If you want to learn more about the book or the original cover, you can see a post from a year ago on this website, “Swashbuckling Adventure, Anyone?”

There is no failure. Only feedback. ~Robert Allen

In the meantime, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder my cover choice. Tim Akers, one of the Scriblerians asked, “So tell me, if this was written for boys, why is there a woman’s face on the cover?” Ah, Tim, why’d you have to bring that up? Yeah, I wrote it for both genders.
Floryie, another reviewer, wrote this: “I loved the look of the book cover. But I couldn’t relate to the ‘character’ on the cover. She looks too old to represent any of the female characters.” Srilani does look too old, and Aldan really does need to be on the cover. Okay, okay, you talked me into it.

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. ~Henry Ford

So the hunt for a different cover designer began, not because the first designer was bad, but because the cover needed a fresh set of eyes. I hope that you agree it was worth the effort.

2016-264 HANDOVER Ebook Kathrese McKee, Mardan's Mark

Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Enough about me, let’s talk about you. Are you in a slump? Do you have doubts? Those feelings are natural. Everyone experiences them. But our job as creative individuals is to push through those doldrums and accept failure as part of the process. The only ones who fail are those who quit trying. Put fear aside. Change something and try again.

C.S. LewisFailures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. ~C. S. Lewis

When you look back at where you’ve been, the mileposts are likely to be those points where something went wrong and you had to make a decision to keep going in spite of adversity. Think of moments when you learned a life lesson through failure. Think of those events that changed you, broke you, and molded you. Ultimately, those failures made you who you are. Fail forward toward success.

What past failure set you up for success afterward?

Kathrese headshotTexas author, Kathrese McKee, writes epic adventures for anyone who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life’s difficult questions. In Mardan’s Mark: A princess must rescue the heir from behind enemy lines before war breaks out. The stakes rise when she accepts help from a pirate’s slave. Join the Crew to read the first five chapters for free.

Rare Close Collaborations

Many publishers forbid their authors and illustrators to work closely with one another because often the author’s preconceived notions of what things should look like conflict with the illustrator’s ideas. And the publisher doesn’t want that hassle.

However, the publisher that I’m working for, Sono Nis Press, welcomes this type of collaboration. And I love it! Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon is the fourth book where I’ve been able to work with the author to produce illustrations.

I thought you all might like to meet my friend and colleague, Karen Autio, the author of our book whom I have known for 18 years. She has stuck it out with me and my crazy requests for models and/or people to take pictures of me doing various crazy things. (ie. taking pictures of me dancing in the snow in a silk housecoat for another book. Maybe I’ll show it to you someday…)

Here is a picture of Karen and I in the Wild Horse Canyon in 2014.

IMG_3057 Karen and I

Karen, you have been very busy! Can you tell us about your other books?

My trilogy of historical novels for young readers focuses on Canadian history that hasn’t had much attention, along with issues of family, friends, and faith. Second Watch deals with the Canadian Pacific Empress of Ireland steamship’s role in immigration and its shipwreck in 1914—Canada’s Titanic. Life purpose and the impact of tuberculosis on a farming family make up the core of Saara’s Passage. Sabotage in Canada during the First World War is the central theme of Sabotage.  My newest book is an illustrated chapter book called Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter, set on the west coast of Vancouver Island, BC.

Karen and books

How long have you worked on Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon?

I’ve lived in the Okanagan (in British Columbia’s Southern Interior) for 20 years, and most of that time I’ve been intrigued by Wild Horse Canyon and its history as a place to trap wild horses. I so wanted to get to Wild Horse Canyon (in Okanagan Mountain Park) to explore it, but I thought the hike in from Kelowna was onerous, and I didn’t have access to a boat to take me across Okanagan Lake for the shorter hike* in from Commando Bay (* see my answer to the third question). In 2006, my curiosity got me researching the canyon, and the more I learned about it and the area, the more fascinated I became with the history. By 2013, when my third historical novel was about to be published, I couldn’t resist writing the outline and then text of this picture book, which was then accepted for publication by Sono Nis Press in January 2014.

What were your thoughts on working so closely with a friend and colleague?

I remember when I first mentioned this story idea to Loraine (before it was accepted for publication) and asked if she’d be available to illustrate it, she said, “No, my schedule is too full.” I was incredibly disappointed. So you can imagine my delight a year later when my publisher agreed with my recommendation of Loraine as illustrator and offered her the contract, and she accepted. She is the perfect artist for this project, with her lifelong knowledge of the Okanagan, intimate experience with horses, and realistic art style based on detailed research. Loraine stated at the beginning of this project, “I can’t think of a better partner to work with,” and neither can I.

Now, if we were horses, Loraine would be a fancy warmblood and I’d be a trustworthy cob (we confirmed this via an online quiz!). She’s full of spunk and energy, a true extrovert, while I’m more quiet, contemplative, you know, an introvert. At times I’m reining her in and at other times she’s spurring me on out of my comfort zone. We complement one another in so many ways. Knowing each other so well, we’re free to honestly critique each other’s work, which has strengthened both the text and illustrations.

What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the project?

Two challenging aspects immediately come to mind. First, wrangling the historical details, especially when resources were non-existent, were scarce, or disagreed. Second, and here’s where I address the * in my first answer. Getting into Wild Horse Canyon to actually see the setting of the book was incredibly challenging! In September 2014 we finally met someone who was willing to take us by boat to Commando Bay! (Just below the canyon) However, the promised short hike to Wild Horse Canyon had us detouring through a smaller overgrown canyon, needing to bushwhack over fallen and burned trees, through prickly bushes, and climbing rocks and sliding on loose ones.

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But we made it!

A year later we met a hiker who guided us to Wild Horse Canyon on foot from the end of Lakeshore Road in Kelowna—not as onerous a hike as expected, but still a full day’s adventure.

The most rewarding? Again, I have two answers. First was experiencing the incredible, awesome Wild Horse Canyon twice, with its breathtaking sheer granite west wall and the peace of its secluded location. Second was the initial feedback on the story, that people got what I was aiming to convey about the history of place, a journey through time.

What do you hope readers will get out of the book?

I hope readers (and those being read to) will enjoy connecting to history. May they be so fascinated by the changes over time in one place that they’re inspired to explore the range of history of their own neighbourhood.

I have been told, and have experienced, that in order to keep a friendship healthy, you shouldn’t live, work, or travel with friends. Karen and I have committed all of the above taboos, and will do even more as we tour together to schools and libraries this fall. I am looking forward to finally sharing this huge project with kids and adults alike – with my buddy Karen!

Karen Autio at Mission Creek Greenway

I’m taking a stab in the dark, but I’m assuming most of our readers are creative. I hope you also have a friend with whom you can share many types of creative activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerry Nietz’s first last book

Kerry Nietz is no stranger to our blog. He originally signed our slam book back in 2013 when the first of his Peril in Plain Space novels, Amish Vampires in Space, released. He was back last year to discuss Amish Zombies from Space. Now, he’s guest posting for us and brings with him two gifts: one for readers and the other for writers.

For readers: A Star Curiously Singing is free for a limited time. Grab this one while you can. It’s one of my favorite books!

For writers: Kerry gives us the gift of encouragement with this guest post. Since I’m in the querying process, it’s a timely gift for me. Perhaps it’s a timely gift for you as well. 🙂


This was supposed to be my last novel.

ASCS

foxtalesIn the fall of 2003 my first book—a memoir entitled FoxTales: Behind the Scenes at Fox Software—was published, and I hoped it would smooth the road for me to become a published novelist. Anyone familiar with the publishing business knows that few first books (or second books, or third books) breakout enough for a writer to have publishers knocking on their door. Few books, in fact, sell more than a couple hundred copies. But alas, I was both naïve and optimistic.

Over the course of the next five years I wrote a handful of novels, corrected them, and queried publishers about them. I had a few nibbles, but ultimately nothing happened. I’d written a lot of words, but none of them were going anywhere.

By the winter of 2007, I’d reached the conclusion that my dream of being a novelist wasn’t going to happen. I’d tried a lot, learned a lot, but the road now looked like an unplowed field.

Still, I had this story idea about a computer programmer of the future. I also wanted to experiment with writing an entire novel in first person present tense. I’d written the prologue of FoxTales that way and wondered whether I could maintain it for an entire novel.

I decided I’d write one last story…for me. I didn’t care if anyone ever read it. I didn’t care if I even corrected it or queried about it. I was simply going to write it for my own enjoyment. Then quit.

So, while waiting in an airport one day, I pulled out my laptop, created a new document, and wrote:

It is hard to describe, this buzzing in my head. It wakes me, obviously. But it is hard to clarify for someone like you—at least the type of person I assume you to be—someone with a free head.

Almost fifty thousand words later I had a first draft. I read it over. I knew it wasn’t perfect. I knew it was a little short. Yet there was something about the book, tentatively titled 2000 AP, that I thought was truly unique. I decided to find a second opinion.

I knew of a guy, Jeff Gerke, who had just started his own publishing house. I knew he also worked as a freelance editor. One of his editorial services was a complete read through of a manuscript along with an opinion as to whether it was publishable. I hired him to perform that service with 2000 AP in the spring of 2008.

Months went by.

Finally, in the fall of 2008 he sent me a message. “I’m reading it now. I love it.”

He concluded that the book needed a better beginning, a revised ending, and a handful of other changes. “If it had all those things,” he said, “I would publish it myself.”

I spent the better part of a year making those additions, and in the fall of 2009 the book, now titled A Star Curiously Singing was published. My first last novel. There have been five last novels since.


 About A Star Curiously Singing

** Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal Award Winner **

Sandfly is a debugger. He is property, bought and paid for in an Earth under sharia law. All faiths but one have been banned. And the rule of the great Imam is supreme.

As a debugger, Sandfly has an implant in his head that connects him to the world’s technology–and doles out mental shocks to keep him obedient. All he wants is to fix bots and avoid shocks.

Now he’s been called into Earth orbit. The masters have a new spacecraft–one capable of interstellar flight. On its maiden voyage, the only robot on board went mad and tore itself apart.

Why? Better question: does it pose any risk to humans?

When Sandfly reviews the bot’s final moments, he perceives something unexpected. Something impossible.

As Sandfly pieces together the clues, a trap spreads beneath his feet. If he solves the mystery, he may doom himself. And if he fixes the robot, he may shatter his world.

Suspenseful, unique, and awash in cyberpunk jive, A Star Curiously Singing presents a bleak future that might be closer than we think.

GET YOUR FREE COPY HERE.

NOW YOU: Are you a reader or a writer? What are you reading/writing now?

 

Jeri Massi

As most of you realize by now, I’m a great fan of Jeri Massi’s novels for tweens having posted two book reviews: Derwood, Inc. a year ago, and Hall of Heroes earlier this week. Jeri graciously agreed to an interview. After all, how could any author resist my enthusiasm?

Hall of Heroes

 

Whenever possible, the Scriblerians invite our honored authors to “sign” our slam book.

Nickname (in childhood or now or both): Jeriwho

Genre: I prefer to write fantasy and SF but rarely get a chance to do so. I’ve written across many different genres: Westerns, mysteries, adventures, historical, fantasy, SF, etc.

Favorite scripture: Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:10-11

Favorite quotation: All warfare is based on deception. – Sun Tzu

In high school, I was… loud, and tall.

 

 

Jeri blog
Jeri, welcome to the Scriblerians.
Thank you, Linda. It’s an honor.

 

 
As you know, I love your Peabody Kids series, especially the first book, Derwood, Inc. The humor is timeless. In fact, I recently spoke with a fifth grade teacher who still uses Derwood in her classroom. She shared with me that the book is her kids’ favorite choice in the curriculum. How have you updated your characters since the Derwood Series was published about – what – 30 years ago?
If a character works in a story, he or she should never need to be updated. Jack will always be the charming leader, and Penny the loyal companion. Scruggs will always be the person in transition. Humor and mysteries alike tend to be built on certain familiar character types, so while their clothing or jargon may change over time, they remain essentially the same whatever the time setting of the story. We see the same characters clearly in Hall of Heroes, which is an exact mirror of the characters from Derwood, Inc.

 

 
While Derwood was fun and adventurous with lessons for the Peabody Kids in each book, Hall of Heroes strikes deep. I took in such themes as: “Love God and enjoy Him forever,” and “Heaven completes our creation.” Have I nailed it, or would you add another theme dear to your heart.
“The Christian life is built on humility.” The humor of the story is built on the fact that the “good guys” think they are always going to be victorious, just because they are the good guys. They’re actually pretty arrogant and full of themselves. In short order, the bullies overthrow them and steal their club house. There is a thematic link to Martha Jenkins, who has done so much good in her life, but is facing certain death while still too young for it. Both groups have to accept their lot with humility. Jean herself notices that Digger seems much more heroic when he is helping around the house for Martha. He fulfills the role of a manly Christian effortlessly when he forgets about acting like a hero and simply offers his work to a suffering person.

 

 
Many of the readers of the Scriblerians blog are also writers, so I’d like to ask questions in relation to how you write your novels. Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? When I think of Derwood, Inc. I assume it had a bare skeleton which you fleshed out with twists and turns that might have surprised you as you were writing. But did Hall of Heroes need a stricter outline?
All of my stories are outlined. I always think of the plot first, then complete it in outline form, and then start writing. If I decide to throw in a new twist, I usually outline it into the main outline.

 

 
While you had several comical moments with the villains in the story, the mature spiritual issues caused my chuckles to subside as I contemplated eternity and how God sees our mission on earth. When your readers finish the last sentence of the book, what do you want them to come away with?
Well, first, that nothing is as it seems. Martha Jenkins had a lot to offer, but she was pretty much ignored by her church. And nobody meant to be unkind to her; they just didn’t look hard enough to realize their Christian duty towards her. The real Hall of Heroes meets in Martha’s living room, three overlooked people who love each other and have fellowship in the face of a great tragedy. Christianity today is blinded by grandeur, and that’s a horrible blindness. We will find the power and the fellowship of Jesus Christ with the least of His brethren, always.

Second, we all die, and yet we all must live. Digger’s joy over regaining the club house is not misplaced. Martha herself had a full life until close to the end. We ought to live joyfully and make our boast in God, and we ought to approach death with humility and willingness to go where He leads us, even there.

 

 
I always enjoy teen and tween fiction when the main characters have GOOD parents, intact families with Mom and Dad loving each other and watching out for their children. Jean experiences growth as she makes her own decisions, and her wisdom comes from the example of her parents. Am I in the minority of adult readers today, or do you find the reading public does want wholesome material for their children?

I think the best readers want the truth, whether that truth is couched in a conventional story with a home and a hearth, or whether it’s couched in science fiction, or fantasy, or talking animals, etc. The reality is that many children do lose one parent, or both parents, and so fiction should also reach out to them. I have given up on figuring out what most readers want. I write what I believe makes a good story. I assume that if it keeps me and my spot readers entertained, it ought to entertain others.

Jeri Massi

Jeri and Ben

 

Want to know more about Jeri Massi? Read her Blog on the Way (www.jeriwho.net), follow her on Twitter (@jeriwho), or like her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jerimassi).

Humor Author Deborah Dee Harper

Deborah Dee Harper

A versatile author—that’s Deborah Dee Harper, who writes humorous mystery and inspirational fiction for both children and adults. Her children’s adventure series, Laramie on the Lam, was published in 2012 and will be re-released in four books soon. Misstep, her 2015 debut adult novel, is published by Write Integrity Press under the Pens of Mystery imprint. Misstep is the first book of her Road’s End series, and from the following description, is a full-flavored read:

Retired Air Force chaplain Hugh Foster and his wife Melanie dream of a peaceful life as innkeepers in the pre-Revolutionary War village of Road’s End, Virginia. When Hugh is pressed into service at tiny but historic Christ Is Lord Church, their dream crumbles right along with the old building. One of Hugh’s first challenges is Emma River, a woman who needs no one—especially God—and lives in seclusion in her home, Rivermanse, guarding her dark secret and hated by most of the town. With a church in desperate need of repair, a dwindling congregation, and a record-breaking blizzard, the town’s residents—comprised mostly of ornery senior citizens—are forced to outwit some drug dealers who are bent on revenge against the church caretaker. Poor drug dealers.

Misstep Cover concept update 5 (1)Laramie-cvr

Deborah, welcome to the Scriblerians.

Thanks, Cynhia. I’m so happy to be here.

You like to mix humor, mystery, and spiritual inspiration in your fiction. Which mystery writers influenced you the most and why or how?

I don’t know that mystery writers, per se, influenced me, unless it was just a natural extension of all the reading I did as a kid and beyond. I did love Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew books, although I just discovered that Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym and more than one person has written under that name. Nevertheless, I guess you’d say that she (or they, as the case may be) influenced my early writing and started me on the path toward writing mysteries. And by early, I mean about 4th grade. My first mystery was titled, The Mystery of Castle Dawn. That was as far as that ever went—the title. I should finish it someday! Of course, Stephen King, James Patterson, John Grisham, all of whom have some element of mystery in their books are favorites of mine and I suppose that may have rubbed off on me too.

Some elements of Misstep remind me of a few of my favorite movies and television series from the 80s and 90s, such as Funny Farm, Murder She Wrote, and The Golden Girls (without the sexual references and innuendo). Without spoiling the story, please share with us how you used characters and situations to tickle the reader’s funny bone.

In Misstep, one of the characters is a young man about 18 years old who comes to town in the middle of the blizzard. His name is Sherman—a bright, nearly fluorescent orange-haired fellow—who brings Sophie with him to appear in the town’s upcoming outdoor live nativity. Sophie is a camel. With all his other problems, the last thing Hugh Foster needs to take care of is a camel. Nevertheless, Sophie is here and needs a place to stay, so Hugh directs Sherman to pull the camel’s trailer over by the 18th century henhouse. Sherman misunderstands and puts Sophie in the henhouse, which receives several visitors throughout the night, some of them less than happy to see Sophie there.

Is humor a natural part of all your fiction? What other books in addition to the ones already mentioned contain humorous elements?

Yes, humor permeates most of what I write. I’ve written two other books in the Road’s End series, Faux Pas and Misjudge, which are full of humor. Other manuscripts are being developed and they too have an element of humor throughout. It seems to just pour out of me as I write.

It’s a blessing when something comes easily in our writing. So much about being a writer is hard work. Do you have a favorite scripture verse that motivates you as a writer or keeps you centered?

As part of my email signature, I’ve included Psalms 68:3, “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” It reminds me that living as a child of God is not only a glorious adventure, it’s filled with humor. God gave us our sense of humor; we need to use it!

I agree!

More about Deborah and where to connect with her:

Deborah Dee Harper lives in Tennessee but spent four years in Anchorage, Alaska, where she hiked rugged paths to blue glaciers, watched the whales (and otters, sea lions, Dall sheep, ptarmigans, bald eagles, black bears, foxes, wolves, you-name-it) in their glorious natural surroundings. She even chased a grizzly bear down a dirt road to get a picture of it. She got it too (and survived to tell the story)!

http://www.deborahdeeharper.com

Author Facebook page http://tinyurl.com/nrg8ola

Goodreads Author page www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomdeborahdeeharper

Twitter handle @deborahdeetales