Good Morning! Happy Wednesday! (Is it crazy that I had to pause there and think what day it was?) Yesterday was my first real full day of feeling like I was moving into my new role. I have home space set up, and made a commitment to be in it. I actually had time to open up a packet of papers that were given to me in mid June as research for my manuscript I am revising. They have been sitting in the library since they were handed to me and are now in the office and I spent time yesterday reviewing them and making notes. It was a good feeling.
This past Monday we had an exciting author at the Brainerd Public Library. Author Johnathan Friesen (pronounced “free-zen”) spoke at our library about his books, and read from his most recent book, Mayday (LOVE the cover!)
I had never read or listened to Johnathan Friesen before and I for one was excited to have him at the library as a YA author. He started out with sharing a very powerful story about his childhood and Tourette’s syndrome. I think most of the room was in tears – and then he turned it around into his passion for writing. At this stage in my life, what he said really resonated with me. He spoke with intelligence and I found myself scribbling on a napkin (I know, I know, you would think I would be more prepared!) to capture some of the things he said…
…and when she left my room, she took something with her. Almost like a magnet it stuck to the back of her shirt…. when she left, the hate I had felt for myself left with her. ~ Johnathan Friesen
Johnathan was a delightful speaker! He was animated and funny and can really channel his inner child! While he spoke about each of his books I found myself trying to choose which I wanted to read, they all in one way or another spoke to me. His book Jerk California is about a boy with Tourette’s. This Schneider Family Book Award winner changed the face of Tourette’s Syndrome for modern teens.
When the event was over, the crowd of 44 people gathered around to but his books. I always wait to be last to make sure everyone has the opportunity to pick up the books that they want. I left this event with:
If you ever have the chance to hear Johnathan speak, I highly recommend you do. I was very impressed with his style and look forward to digging into his books!
The Friends of The Brainerd Public Library sponsor each June and July our Brown Bag Author Series. This is a series of Minnesota authors who come and speak each Monday from noon to one at our library. This event is open to the public, and the authors are able to sell their books at the end of the hour.
Our first author for the 2014 line up was Nathan Jorngenson. Nathan is the author of three books, Waiting For White Horses, The Mulligan, and A Crooked Number. For Waiting For White Horses, Nathan was the winner of the 2004 Benjamin Franklin Award, Best New Voice 2005 Foreward Magazine Book of the Year Award Finalist 2005 Independent Publishers Book Award Finalist. The Mulligan was 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award Finalist and 2007 Independent Publisher Book Award Finalist for Book of the Year.
Nathan is a delightful speaker. He was able to capture the attention of the 70 people who showed up to listen to him talk about his books. (An excellent count and kick off to this years events!) Each cover, has a story, and I was thrilled to find out that the cover of Waiting For White Horses is actually a picture of Nathan and his dog. The Mulligan, Nathan said was said to be “too dark a cover”. “Too brown” he was told, yet, “The cover won an award.” A Crooked Number, also has a story and the pictures on the back are actually some of Nathan’s own pictures. I LOVE the personal touch he has put in his covers!
Nathan read a little out of both Waiting For White Horses and A Crooked Number. He shared a funny story about book signings. He was encouraged once to take his dog with him to a signing. “Everyone loves dogs” he was told. Nathan said that every time someone came up to sign a book, they just reeked of a foul odor. He had no idea what was going on, finally his wife said, “You have to get the dog out of here, he is farting every time someone approaches”. Nathan said it was a sad day that he had to fire his dog from future signings. 😀
Writing, is like getting naked in public.
Nathan spoke on writing. You expose yourself to the world, for better of for worse. “You must write from the heart, that is all you can do.” He shared another funny instance where at a signing an elderly woman came up to him and said, “Why are your books so pornographic?” (For the record here – they are not… not even close!) A man standing behind the woman chimed in and said, “We love your books. In fact our Pastor has recommended two of them from the Pulpit.” It is all a matter of opinion.
Nathan enjoys reading Harlan Coben and Scott Turrow. He admits to writing his first two books with a #2 pencil. “I am pretty old school,” he chuckles.
I purchased copies of Waiting For White Horses and A Crooked Number. The first being a book I have been told time and again that I must read, and the second a book I have wanted to read for a while now. Nathan generously donated copies of all three of his books to our library, and another set to be auctioned off at our Fall event, Wine and Words.
Whirlwind week already and I am finally getting a chance to chat with you! Weekend away, start of the week out of town for work, and then…. what I want to tell you about today… the Patrick Ness event in ST Paul Minnesota at Magers and Quinns book store.
To bring you up to speed, Patrick Ness is the author of the Chaos Walking Series, the first book being The Knife Of Never Letting Go, which I read in fall of 2011 and flew through the following two books in the series.
When I read that Ness was coming to Minnesota I could not believe it. Currently living in London, his only Minnesota stop on his tour for his new book, The Crane’s Wife , was the day after the books release date, this past Tuesday. Honestly – I really did not even know what the book was about. This for me… was all about Ness.
My friend Amy (crazy adventure friend and book club cohort) joined me, having also read and loved the Chaos Walking series. We arrived early as we expected there would be quite the crowd, purchased our Crane’s Wife books at the book store and asked the nice book store guy if we would hold two spots once they set the chairs up, for the Brainerd girls who drove two hours to the event. He said he would… and we went down the block to my favorite Thai restaurant.
When we came back, sure enough, two seats were saved for us right up front. RIGHT UP FRONT. Like, Patrick could have spit on us close. 😀
When he came out to talk he was funny, although admitting he wasn’t feeling well and therefore was requesting that someone out of the audience come up and read him the questions for his time with us…. and so…
Amy did. 😛
The first question on the page was, “So Patrick, tell us a little about yourself?”
He was fun and interesting. He talked about his books, and then her read a bit out of The Crane Wife, explaining that it stemmed from a story his teacher used to tell to the class when he was 5. He said he loved that teacher. He wanted her to be his mom and his wife…. at 5 years old, he felt they could work out the age difference somehow.
When Patrick read from the Crane Wife, although he denied it, his voice was perfect for narration. I fell in love with the story – through him… and suddenly couldn’t wait to read it. He has a personal story within the book that he shared with us…a childhood happening that he tied into the read. Again… I wanted to read the book more that ever.
Patrick talked about his YA books, which included the Chaos Walking series *sigh* and a book he released last fall, More Than This. He says each book he writes has a theme song that he listens to over and over again during the writing process. I found that fascinating.
I wish I would have taken notes, but early on in his talk I was uploading that first picture of Amy to Facebook and he called me out of the crowd …ok, not the crowd as I was sitting about 18 inches away from him and asked if I was playing Candy Crush. Oops! Embarrassing! I put my phone away which is what I take notes on too… 😀
Patrick had some advice for want to be writers:
- If you think you have a good idea, wait. If it is good… things will be added on to it to make it grow in your mind.
- Write something you want to read. Do not write for the masses thinking you will create the next vampire story, or dystopian war story because that is what is popular… you have to LOVE it. You will never make it through the writing if you do not love the story yourself.
- Be original. No one knew that they wanted a Harry Potter, until we had him. No one knew we wanted Twilight or a Hunger Games.
If you ever have the opportunity to see Patrick Ness in person, please do. If I could have him come for Wine and Words this fall I would, but the man’s schedule is crazy busy. Absolutely if you have the chance to pick up the Chaos Walking series – do it. I love these books. There is a little buzz saying they will be movies and oooohhhhhh I hope so. 😀
I found this one Amazon under his description of himself and loved it:
Things you didn’t know about Patrick Ness
1. I have a tattoo of a rhinoceros.
2. I have run two marathons.
3. I am a certified scuba diver.
4. I wrote a radio comedy about vampires.
5. I have never been to New York City but…
6. I have been to Sydney, Auckland and Tokyo.
7. I was accepted into film school but turned it down to study writing.
8. I was a goth as a teenager (well, as much of a goth as you could be in Tacoma, Washington and still have to go to church every Sunday).
9. I am no longer a goth.
10. Under no circumstances will I eat onions.
So in answer to my Patrick Ness question this morning, what would Patrick do? he would write… he would run… he would keep it fun and keep it real.
Sarah is a friend who I used to work with and I was there when she was working on her first book, Life’s Compass For Eternal Treasure. I even was able to be one of her proof readers as she self published this book and that was pretty exciting!
Since that first book, Sarah was married and moved away from Minnesota to Florida where she now lives happily with her husband Paul. She has written a second book, His Hope For Your Destiny and is currently working on her third. I had the opportunity in July of this year to interview Sarah here and she graciously offered her books for a giveaway.
This past weekend Sarah was in town for her sisters wedding and she and I were able to connect over coffee and catch up on what was new with her and about this third book that those who have followed her incredible writing style are waiting anxiously for.
Ahhh! Sarah it seems like forever since we have been able to connect! I am excited to hear about the next book!
Sarah: Well, I am still working on it. This one is coming along a bit slower than the first two.
What do you mean by coming along slower?
Sarah: In the first two books I was speaking directly about scriptures that were on my heart and I felt as though God just lead me through the writing. In this book, I am coming in with a different approach and since this book is more in depth in different ways, I have to do more research.
So what is this book going to be about?
Sarah: This book is going to be about how thoughts and especially the negative thoughts that are verbalized around us can be taken in to ourselves almost like a toxin or poison. This book is going to be how to keep true to God’s word, and to learn through His word how to snap off those dead branches, dead relationships even that are unhealthy for us to keep us growing in the right direction towards Him. I am basing this book off of Philippians 4: 4 – 8, mainly on pure thoughts. We have to train our thinking process, almost prune our thoughts.
Wow – that sounds really interesting! Do you have a title yet?
Sarah: The title usually does not come to me until the book is finished.
Any time frame we can be looking at for this book to be available?
Sarah: The research is very interesting and I am still working on that part. I am hopeful that it can be in print by late 2010.
Well I look forward to it! Thanks Sarah as always for hanging out here at One Persons;s Journey Through A World Of Books with me. Its always fun to hear what you are up to and I look forward to having you back to review and discuss your book!
Over the weekend I was able to indulge in the Read A Thon and the first book I finished was Erika Robuck’s wonderful read, Receive Me Falling. Today, Erika has graciously agreed to hang out with me and discuss her book and what the future holds. Please join us over a great cup of coffee.
Erika, thank you so much for hanging out with me today at One Person’s Journey Through A World of Books. Erika, I have to ask about how this incredible read came to be. What were the early thoughts about how this book would be written? What was the draw to write about slavery?
Erika: A black and white photo of an abandoned, fortress-like hotel in Nevis with island children playing in the foreground of its imposing facade inspired me to write my book. It got me thinking of slavery in the Caribbean, the contrast of the wealthy and the poor, the two classes interacting with one another on a daily basis, and the complexities slavery created in familial and generational relationships.
I’ve been drawn to books about slavery since I read Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of an American Slave. Both touched me deeply.
I love that! What a great image! Is there something that draws you to the time period you wrote about?
Erika: I wanted to write about slavery as it was ending in the British colonies for a couple of reasons. First, it allowed me to educate my readers about the process of abolishing slavery and what was going on in England and the Caribbean at the time. Second, I’ve always been drawn to the early nineteenth century because of the music, art, and literature representative of it.
I found this story line so interesting. I really have not read much about slavery in the past and you really opened up a new area for me. I found it very meaningful and I really was given a lot to think about by reading this book. This is your first book. That astounds me! Were you nervous about finding a publisher? Can you briefly explain the process you went through to find one?
Erika: After work shopping the novel for several years, I began the agent search. I kept getting very far in the process, but continued to get turned down based on the fact that I was a first time, unpublished writer whose book crossed genres. Publishers like books to fit neatly into categories, so a semi-historical novel with supernatural elements wasn’t well received from a novice. However, many readers who had read drafts of the novel encouraged me to publish it myself so they could take it to their book clubs, mothers’ groups, and art festivals. I was reading agent blogs where they advised first time writers to self-publish, build their platform, and if they were successful, use that in the query process.
My husband and I started a small press, published the book, released it for sale in March of 2009, and have sold about 1,000 copies. I’ve been profiled in local papers and publications, have visited 20 book clubs that have read the book, and have had many signings and author events. Several agents have the full manuscript, and I hope to have an offer of representation soon.
You started your own press! That is so great! I really had a vivid image of the scene of the dead slave girl (page 153). I found it to quite powerful. I am curious as to what caused you to write about this particular scene. What are you looking to show the reader? To show Catherine?
Erika: The contrast of the rich and the poor was stark, and I wanted to emphasize that as much as possible. I also needed my protagonist to see the horrors of slavery outside of her plantation. Her slaves had been raised with relatively less violence than neighboring plantations, so I wanted my character to witness, first hand, the brutality of most plantations so that she would be more open to the abolitionists when they approached her.
The rum drinks throughout the book were almost a light fun part of what really is a good but not lighthearted read. The drinks were actually a bit of “fun” I thought. I liked how the drink title matched Meghan’s mood or what was happening. Why did you put this in the book?
Erika: I wanted the reader to see Meghan’s personality prior to the incident with her parents and her fiancée to reveal that, before all of the tragedy, she was a girl who liked to have fun. (Sometimes, she liked to have too much fun!) Alcohol abuse was a prevalent theme in the novel both in the past and in the present. I wanted to make the reader aware of when Meg used alcohol to self-medicate. I had originally included the recipes in with the text, but an editor told me that didn’t match the serious tone of the book, so I just included the drink titles.
I read that you have another book in the works. Can you share a little about this and when we can be looking for this one to come out?
Erika: Right now I’m immersed in researching Depression-era Key West, the Labor Day hurricane of 1935, and Ernest Hemingway. Key West in 1935 is the historical setting of my latest work of fiction. My protagonist is a housekeeper at the Hemingway home, and is torn between the legendary writer and a soldier. I’m about a third of the way through a first draft of the novel, and hope to have a completed draft by the end of the year.
I would love it if you would share with us something that few people may know about you.
Erika: I used to be an elementary school teacher, and won a teacher of the year award my senior year in college. I think my background in teaching and my love for research is important to my work as an historical fiction writer.
And like my present day protagonist, I love karaoke.
A teacher! That is wonderful! Thank you so much Erika for your time! I adored your book and look forward to reading more of your work in the future!
Erika: Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book!
See more about Erika Robuck here at her website as well as what is coming up for her.
Erika also blogs! See her blog here
I have just finished a wonderful book by Cami Checkett called The Sister Pact. Now I am very excited to have Cami here to share with us a bit about her book, her path as an author, and a little about herself.
Please pull up a chair and welcome, Cami Checketts.
Cami, thank you so much for joining me here today at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. I have to say I have really enjoyed reading your book. The Sister Pact. What was the idea behind this book?
LOL… I suppose that wasn’t a fair question! How did your writing career begin?
That is a great message. Do you have a favorite book?
Books I will have to look into as they come highly recommended by you! So what is next for you? Is there another book in your future?
Wow! That sounds like a great read. What is one little known fact about you that you could share here?
Here is some fun information I learned about Cami! She loves fitness and is actually having a contest starting in October! Check it out here and check Cami out below as she teaches us great fitness tips!
I am pleased to welcome to One Persons Journey Through a World of Books, Kaleb Nation. Kaleb is the author of Bran Hambric, the wonderful book that was just released on 9/9/09.
Welcome Kaleb! Please make yourself comfortable. When I first started hearing about Bran Hambric I had also heard how the story came to you on March 3rd, 2003, 3/3/03. You were 14 at the time. That amazes me. Would youplease tell us a little about what that was like?
I remember jumping out of bed, scrambling down the ladder of the bunk bed I shared with my brother, and dashing to my desk to write the idea down. For some reason, on that night, I knew that the date would be important, and that’s why I made sure to write it down in my notebook. I don’t know if I just had a feeling that the book would eventually be published, or if it was just part of my interest in strange and unusual calendar dates, but I’m really happy I made sure to write it down!
I can visualize that! How amazing! Did the idea for the book come to you as whole or were there parts you really had to think on and add to make it flow?
The main story came to me at once: I knew that Bran was being hunted by a creature, I knew that he lived in a modern city that banned magic, and I knew a lot of specific parts about his past. Most of the details of the story, however, had to be developed over the following years of writing.
I picture you as this young boy writing this book and have to wonder what did your parents think at the time and/or your siblings? Did they think you were on to something or just using your time productively?
Luckily, I was home schooled, so my parents actually made my writing a part of my school schedule! They were very supportive, even when I would spend hours on end writing (it got so bad they had to set time limits on my writing time!). My brother Jaden and sister Maddi were my main readers for years, and know about all the deleted scenes and characters that got cut over the years. I’d always know if something was good if they liked it, or what had to be taken out when they started to get bored.
Any friends, extended family, etc… were they supportive of what you were writing? Involved in any way?
I had a cousin who had published technical writing and fiction for magazines before, and she was a huge help in the beginning! She would read my early drafts and make long-distance calls to me on the weekends to discuss it. I was a bit starstruck that my cousin was a real writer and was actually helping me with editing. I also had a lot of great friends who read the drafts and made comments on things they liked or didn’t like.
At the age of 14, what book was your favorite?
It’s hard to remember. I know back then that I liked The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien.
When you completed the book, did you have a publisher ready or did you have to go and market it?. Share a bit about that experience.
After I finished the book, I first had to find an agent. I had been researching the publishing business for years and knew a lot of the process already, thankfully. I sent out a bunch of email queries and had a few agents who were interested, but after a while of nobody taking it on, I had to rewrite my query. After the rewrite, suddenly nine agents were interested (never doubt the power of editing your query letter!). I signed with my agent, and worked with him to get the book ready for a publisher.
Is there plans for another book?
Yes! I am writing the sequel to Bran Hambric now.
Thank you Kaleb so much for your time! I imagine your life is quite busy now and with the release of the book, probably only getting busier! Readers, you can find Bran Hambric on sale now! Be sure to see my review of Bran Hambric here.
For the last couple of days you have heard me gushing about the YA fantasy I just completed. After reading the book, I knew I wanted to know more about the author behind this amazing fantasy, Laura Bingham. Laura and I had first connected in July when she offered me the opportunity to read her book. I connected with her again with questions after I had finished Alvor and Laura was gracious enough to drop everything and come visit me at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. (Ok ok, maybe she didn’t drop everything… but she did answer my questions that I am now going to share with you. 🙂
Please welcome, Laura Bingham.
Sheila: Hi Laura! Thanks for stopping by today! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and lets chat awhile! I just finished reading your book Alvor and loved it!
Laura: Yes! So glad to hear.
Sheila: What gave you the idea to write this style of book?
Laura: Good question with kind of a bizarre answer. The whole story fell into my head about five minutes after I said that I’ve always wanted to write a book- but I didn’t always want to write a book. I still don’t know why I said that or why the story came to me.
Sheila: Did you have a set audience in mind for this read when you wrote Alvor?
Laura: I wanted to write a story that captured the elements of my favorite kids/YA books. It was meant for kids and teens, but I also wanted the story to have an element that sucked adults into it as well.
Sheila: Is this your first book?
Laura: Yes, the first of many.
Sheila: Well that is exciting news! I really enjoyed how you used twins, a boy (Bain) and a girl (Erin) as the main characters. Why did you create twins for this main role in your book?
Laura: That’s the way the story came to me. I even tried to figure out how to make the story not be about twins, but it didn’t work. It had to be twins. It helped that I have my own set of boy/girl twins and could project some of their characteristics into the story.
Sheila: The word “Alvor” to me just speaks of mystery and fantasy… I look at the cover of your book and knew from first site that I wanted to read it. Where did the title come from? Does it have special meaning?
Laura: Before I started writing, I spent a week researching the elements in the story to build a stronger foundation. That’s when I stumbled across alvor, alva and alv. They are Scandinavian words that speak of old legends. Alvor means fairy, but also the Latin root vor means truth- I couldn’t pass up such a perfect title.
Sheila: Growing up did you have a favorite book?
Laura: Growing up I wanted a favorite book. I read Watership Down, The Lord of the Rings books, and tons of junky books about babysitting or freaky girls- but none of them really were my favorite. It wasn’t until I graduated from college that I finally started finding books that I loved.
Sheila: Do you have a favorite read or author now?
Laura: That’s a tough one. I admire different authors for different reasons. Some for the way they write and others for the way they broke out into the world with no fan base and a small press. I have so many favorites now that I hate listing them.
Sheila: What is a little known fact about you?
Laura: I spent a month touring Australia and New Zealand with a college dance team and I performed clogging, modern, jazz, ballroom and some folk dances. Most people put me in a clogging box since I own a clogging studio- but I have spent years doing other things. I coached drill team for a year, have competed in ballroom and Irish dance and have taught ballet, jazz and (swallowing hard) tap. Yes, tap. My Cloggers don’t even know that about me.
Sheila: Wow! Thanks for sharing that! Without giving too much away, the ending of this book left a sense of more to come. Is there plans for a second book?
Laura: My second book is undergoing revisions and editing right now. I love book 2. In so many ways I have liked it even more than the first one. As it stands- there will be a third book in the series as well.
Sheila: A second and a third book? Oh I cant wait! That is such great news!
Thank you Laura! Your time is appreciated and I hope that many of the readers here will go out and purchase Alvor. I think this is an incredible read with a bright future!
Written for young readers, The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut contains 4 short stories told by Jack, whose Uncle Chestnut comes to take care of him while his parents are away. Whether traveling, chasing after hats, or embarking on everyday adventures, Uncle Chestnut teaches a unique perspective on life and the world to his nephew.
Based on the writings and actual events in the life of G.K. Chesterton, this fictional book presents the wit and wisdom of the British writer in a considerably easier style for young people to read. Told through the eyes of his fictional nephew Jack, The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut introduces readers young and old to the writings of G.K. Chesterton, the British author whose prolific writing inspired C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Alfred Hitchcock, and others.
And how delightful! Author Paul Nowak has graciously granted me an interview!
Thank you Paul for taking the time to join us at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
What inspired you to write this book?
Paul: As influential and inspirational as Chesterton is, his books are not the easiest to read, especially for young readers. So I had the idea to create a character based on Chesterton in modern America, and introduce him and his views through fiction. Reading his Autobiography, and even his essays in which he describes his own personal experiences, he struck me as a strange cross of Mary Poppins and Amelia Bedelia.
That is an interesting cross! I actually can picture that. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Paul: Narrowing down the anecdotes, essays, and stories to pick which ones to include in the book. I’ve still got a lot of reading to do on Chesterton as he wrote quite a lot, and every day I find new material.
Do you have other books published at this time or plans to do so in the future?
When you were the age of your main character Jack, can you remember a favorite author?
Paul: Jack London. Not just his adventure stories, but especially his more philosophical works like The Sea Wolf. However, I didn’t agree with his philosophy, I admired how he communicated it through fiction.
Paul went on to share a little bit of non disclosed trivia about the book, Jack is named after C.S. Lewis (it was a nickname of his) and Christie is named after Agatha Christie, who was the fellow member of the Detection Club with Chesterton.
My thoughts: I was excited to have this opportunity to read this book. Told in a story format from Jack’s perspective, I really enjoyed the pace of the book. Reading this book I found it had the rhythm of C.S. Lewis in his Chronicles of Narnia Series. I found this interesting as I was not aware of the real C.S. Lewis connection until I finished writing my review and started communicating with Paul and reading more information on the book.
The book was a quick read and an enjoyable one. There were moments I laughed out loud. I liked that in the back of the book there was a page called “Words To Know”, that gave a definition of words in the book that young readers may struggle with their meaning.
My favorite passage in this books falls on pages 14 and 15 when Uncle Chestnut is explaining to Jack how people do not find where they live extraordinary because they live it every day and do not see from the perspective of an outsider looking in. I quote:
“So people go about their lives, not noticing the giant on their mountain, or the great treasures they have. They see the same things every day, and so think that these things are just plain and ordinary.”
“That is why,” said Uncle Chestnut. “I believe in giants, fairies, and all kinds of things we cannot see. Perhaps we are so tired of looking at the world that we don’t see them anymore.”
Well put Uncle Chestnut. Well put.
To read more about this book and what’s to come please enter here: Uncle Chestnut