I don't know if anyone will ever read this, perhaps I'm just writing this to myself. I'm a special education teacher, and I love my job, have loved my job from he beginning. And maybe I hope you will read this. Maybe I hope someday, you'll see my post and we can start understanding each other.
I didn't have to work where I am now. I had a job offer at another district that paid more money. I could have taken. Not really sure where I'd be right now if I had, but I definitely would be making more money. That should tell you that I didn't take this job for the money. It was never about making money for me. I had stumbled into a profession that had called to me. So what could have been better than a higher paying job?
Because I got to meet them. My students.
After my interview I was asked back to do a lesson with the classroom. I was so nervous that day, and sick. I had been so sick. I took a bunch of medicine and off I went. I couldn't afford to miss any days at my student teaching job. I had already taken them to go to my sisters wedding. So there I was, low grade fever, headache, sore throat, loss voice. I felt miserable. But I came anyway for so many reasons that day, I came anyway. And that's where I met them. These sweet kids that somehow, despite how sick I was and how awful I felt, I made them smile, and laugh, they made me smile and laugh too. I saw their faces, learned their names. Suddenly I was just like grinch, my heart had grown ten sizes bigger.
And I knew instantly that I was supposed to be there, with those kids.
What I do is not easy. And until you've been a special education teacher, it's easy to say so otherwise. But I don't do it for the money. I don't do it because I have nothing else to do.
I do it for them.
Thursday, December 20, 2018
Redmond has no idea why he stole the Whomper. He guesses his extreme dislike (okay, hate… so much hate) of the school’s most popular teacher probably has something to do with it. To his surprise and delight, the hottest girl in school, Elodia Cruz, hates him too.
Soon, Redmond’s small band of misfit friends joins up with Elodia and the most popular kids on campus to hold the Whomper for ransom, pull off an elaborate, broad daylight heist to steal something even bigger from Mr. Street, and expose their teacher for the scumbag he really is.
What do you do in your free time?
Mostly? Wonder what to do with these two minutes and why I’m not working on something.
Fiction or non-fiction? Which is easier?
Fiction, 100%. I wrote two memoirs before writing my first novel--one a coming-of-age story set between the two times my father was shot in armed robberies, and the other a Romeo and Juliet love story between a Mormon and a Protestant--and the first draft of each took years. There’s obviously some latitude when conforming real life to a narrative, but in order to make it truthful you’re really locked into what has actually happened. Finding the structure within that is a real challenge. With fiction, I can make up and or change anything I want. My first draft of Paper Bag Mask only took about 8 months.
Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?
I need to not be bothered. Whether that’s in a cafe or at home, it doesn’t really matter what’s going on around me so long as it doesn’t come at me. I also enjoy writing while listening to music. I know a lot of authors prefer instrumentals or movie scores, but I actually prefer songs with lyrics. As long as it’s not a new song to me, I can pretty much tune the lyrics out and feel it on a purely emotional level.
Have you ever written a character with an actor in mind?
I’ll do that in my screenplays, but not so much in my prose work. Though, I will say that for Mr. Street, the jerk-of-a-teacher at the center of Paper Bag Mask, I took a lot of cues from Robert Downey Jr. and the way he can work a room and wrangle a sentence with a common idea at its core into something that sounds oh-so-clever and unique.
Which literary character do you most resonate with on a personal level?
Other than the ones I write? Probably Superman. That might sound like an odd pick because Superman is generally regarded as fairly difficult to relate to because most of us can’t fly or freeze things with our super breath (kind of gross, when you think about it), but it’s not his powers I identify with but what he chooses to not do with them. Superman is a being of power who is always trying to do the right thing but who is capable of great evil. He genuinely wants to do good, but the temptation to give into natural impulse just do whatever pleases him has got to be great. I think there’s an anger at the heart of Superman that Christopher Reeve played so, so well where you saw his utter impatience for those who don’t exert the same control over themselves that he forces on himself. At the same time, he turns that anger and impatience right back around on himself for his own failings and temptations. It’s a vicious cycle I know well.
Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?
I’ve written down dreams and nightmares and turned them into blogs, but the only real nightmares I remember nowadays are the ones that were recurring when I was a kid. Like, the one where I heard voices in the house taunting me, but I couldn’t find their source until I opened my own closet. There, on the ground, I found my parents chanting “Nobody loves you, nobody loves you” with baby bodies and football helmets on their giant heads. It’s too bad Freud is dead. I could really use some analysis on that one.
Tell me what you love most about writing comedy?
I love a good turn of phrase. I love expressing something from a different, less straightforward angle that can surprise and make someone laugh. At the same time, I can’t say I’m terribly conscious that I’m writing comedy when I’m writing it. People say they laugh a lot when reading my stuff, but that’s always a little surprising to me. I think my worldview is a lot snarky and just a little less sane than average, and that tends to come across in a way I’m sometimes aware of and sometimes not.
How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?
If someone told me tomorrow that being active on social media is not important for my future success, you might never see me on there again. I find social media terribly distracting and obligatory. I feel like my energy on any given day is a finite reserve and I’d much rather spend it creating than “getting myself out there.” That said, I enjoy talking with people and interacting with readers. I just wish social media was a little more amenable to longer thoughts and that I could use it in a more organic way. Social media is really the only time I use exclamation points, for example, and I hate exclamation points. My teenage daughter tells me I always come across as too serious because I insist on using punctuation and, more specifically, periods, so I try to use exclamation points to ameliorate the apparent issues with my online communication.
What five things do you do to prepare yourself to start writing?
- Make sure I have at least a couple uninterrupted hours ahead of me (unless I’m rewriting--I can always rewrite on the fly).
- Turn on my computer.
- Check email.
- Check the news.
- Put on music.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I think I hold those reins pretty tight. I tend to lead with story and then find characters to fit that story, so they don’t lead me around by the nose too much. I do like to be surprised and there will often be a point where it feels more like the characters are talking to me rather than me through them, but I can’t let things get too far off track. Once I settle on a story structure, there’s not a lot of room for movement. Structure is everything, I think, and if you pull out one stone the whole building might collapse.
Brock lives with his wife and three daughters in California where they enjoy Pixar movies, dancing in the living room, and eating breakfast for dinner.
12/17 YA/NA Book Divas Excerpt
12/17 Just Books Guest Post
12/18 The Page Unbound Review
12/19 All the Ups and Downs Interview
12/19 Blunt Book Blog Review/Excerpt
12/20 Unbound Book Tours Interview
12/20 Rebecca R. Cahill Guest Post
12/21 A Striking Viper, Caught in a Tangled Web Excerpt
12/21 Oh Hey! Books. Guest Post
Blog Tour Organized By
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Can you tell me more about yourself?
I'm a 47 year old father of three (And one grandson) and just getting into writing these past few years. I've read hundreds of novels in the fantasy/ science fiction genre and have been making up short stories for friends for years.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I think I'm a little original in that I write how I like to read. A lot of the books I've read tend to prattle on with pages and pages of description on things that the reader doesn't really need. So when I set out to write I kept it short and sweet, letting the reader fill in what they want and giving little things here and there to fill in. I also tend to start every book from the Antagonist's view, letting the reader know what the heroes will be facing way before its revealed to them.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I'm actually in a great little family with Kyanite Publishing. We all keep each other focused and help each other with Beta reads and even samples here and there.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Just do it!!!!! I started this adventure back in 2011 and stopped at 35,000 words because of financial trouble. I didn't take it up again until 2016 and once the first book was done, I just couldn't stop. If only I had just kept going back then.....
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
The hardest part is trying to stay away from things that I know nothing about. The good thing is that in Epic fantasy, or High Fantasy I can stay away from a lot of things that I know nothing about. For instance I don't have to worry about contraceptives and their uses in a medieval setting as they relied on herbs or magic instead.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Since I've role-played (Dungeons & Dragons) for most of my adult life, I have a storehouse of character names to pull from. That being said, elven names are the most fun I ever have in naming. They have to flow, like a river down a hill, and seem alien to most folk. Allrian'dryll Silversong is a good example that I just made up off the top of my head
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Not secrets per se, but I do have a couple of shout out Easter eggs to other authors. One example is in book three I do a flash back in the antagonists life and we learn that the other Incarnations have unique names in that time period. They have names like Time, Death, Fate etc.... This is a reference to Piers Anthony's Incarnation series and is one of my favorite series
What was your hardest scene to write?
The hardest part to write was the ending. I knew when I started the books ho it was going to end and along the way the story evolved on its own, yet the ending loomed over my shoulder like a building storm. I knew that someone was going to die, yet who was left up in the air. After all great triumph can't come without sacrifice. So in the end I wrote the scene that almost broke my own heart. I didn't cry, but it was close..
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
One thing....I guess it would have to be watching T.V. As much as I love to relax and watch my shows, If it meant that I could be in with some of the greats like Simon R. Green, Piers Anthony, and Ed Greenwood then I would do it.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Childhood? Well I didn't start really reading until highschool (thank the Gods above for my Fantasy teacher) but I would have to say that comic books were the closest thing I had. I loved me some Batman and Spiderman comics
Anything you would like to share before you go?
I just want to say that if you have a dream or even just an inkling to try something, don't let fear of failing stand in your way. You never know what you can do until you try!
Born in the usual way, I started roleplaying Dungeons and Dragons at the age of 8. I stopped playing it for awhile but soon plunged back into this world of fantasy and magic once more. I discovered a world of imagination and loved the myriad of possibilities that it offered. For years I designed worlds and cities, even races, and just as quickly I brought them tumbling down in ruin. I could create pantheons of Gods, and heroes to battle against their evil plots. I also started reading avidly, thanks to a teacher in high school, and this opened up more worlds for me to peruse and dissect for my own purposes. For the last 30+ years I have been coming up with whole functioning societies......but what was next?
Well I was already writing short bio's for characters in our game, and elaborate back stories for interesting people that we would interact with, so how was that very different than writing a book? So in 2011 I started putting my brain to use on developing a new world, except this time I would have to fill in everything. Lythinall was born. I published The Darkness Returns (A Lythinall Novel) Book 1 in June 2017, and The Darkness Within (A Lythinall Novel) Book 2 in 2018. Then it happened. A publisher read my story and wanted me. In 2018 I was signed by Kyanite Publishing and will be releasing a title sometime in 2019. Other than all of this I still play the game that started it all, and I still design places, people and items when I'm not hanging out with my family or working my ass off at my day job
Monday, December 10, 2018
MICHAEL SCOTT CLIFTON
Genre: Paranormal Urban Fantasy / Romance Publisher: Book Liftoff Publication Date: September 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 372 pages
Number of Pages: 372 pages
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Malice vs Love
A beautiful witch, a member of a murderous coven, is torn from her medieval world and transported to East Texas. The passage leaves her with no memory of her previous life. She falls in love with a young pediatrician, but her dark past threatens to reassert itself…and make her a threat.
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PRAISE FOR THE JANUS WITCH:
PRAISE FOR THE JANUS WITCH:
This book is filled with magic, intrigue, excitement, and fantasy. Michael Scott Clifton is a truly gifted author. -- Teresa Syms, Readers’ Favorite
This novel was an absolute page turner with action and great character development. I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm excited for the next work by Mike Clifton. -- Bronwyn Pegues, Librarian, Longview Public Library
“Michael Scott Clifton weaves and casts a magical spell in his fantasy romance The Janus Witch. A must read for any Fantasy Romance, Urban Romance, or Paranormal Romance enthusiast!" -- Ranay James, Author of The McKinnon Legends: A Time Travel Series
A continuous flow of witchery and energy that kept this reader captivated until the end. -- The Electric Review, 5-Star Review
INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL SCOTT CLIFTON
Why did you choose to write sci-fi and fantasy?
Although I like a broad range of genres, science fiction and fantasy have always been my favorite. I have a very active imagination, and I love the challenge of creating worlds. With urban and paranormal fantasy now part of the fantasy mix, the door is wide open for any combination of sub-genres (including romance) to stitch together a good story. I’m only limited by my imagination, and creativity is definitely not a problem for me.
Although Fantasy is my stated genre, I like to tell a story which includes elements we are all familiar with. In The Janus Witch, for instance, we have a witch transported from a medieval world to modern-day East Texas—complete with cars and computers. Yet magic and mystical powers are still main tenets within the story. Too much fantasy nowadays is larded with layers of rules, prerequisites, and complicated backmatter. My attention span isn’t that long, so my books get right to the plot as soon as possible. A person won’t have to read to page 75 before it finally gets interesting or before the story becomes clear.
What was the hardest part of writing The Janus Witch?
I had to follow a delicate line when introducing Tressalayne as a murderous witch, then later, as a young woman deeply in love with Dr. Lucas Beckett. In order to make this dichotomy believable to the reader, it was necessary to present both her “pre” then her “post” personalities. Then I added just enough snippets (flashbacks/nightmares) of her old life so it’s evident her new, happy life is by no means certain. Finally, transitioning characters from a medieval world to our 21st century society was tricky. The challenge was to portray these characters in a way where they appeared to be fish out of water, while still managing to somehow adjust to a modern world.
How do you decide if your main characters will be male or female?
The story drives the characters. As such, a particular gender may or may not be a better fit. For example, in my book, The Treasure Hunt Club, I needed a perpetual loser, someone who always suffers from bad luck. I felt this fit a man better, and so I produced Nick Hollister’s character. In The Janus Witch, a warlock just didn’t seem to pop like a witch, hence Tressalayne’s character. However, my books are populated by strong minor characters, both male and female, something I take great pride in.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I am finishing up on a fantasy adventure series called The Conquest of the Veil. A suicidal, bullied girl awakes to find herself a beautiful woman of wealth and privilege—and also trapped behind a wall of magic created by an evil and malevolent queen. The release date of the first book is March 1st, 2019. I am also working on a YA (Middle School) book called Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator. Edison is a twelve-year-old genius and inventor. Paralyzed from the waist down from an accident suffered when he was five, Edison has been homeschooled and sheltered his entire life. When he is enrolled in public school, he learns being a “normal” kid like his friends is more difficult than any invention he has ever attempted. My hope is for a release date either in late spring or early fall of 2019.
What do your plans for future projects include?
Several books will follow in The Conquest of the Veil series. I hope to release at least one book per year until the series is concluded. I am also going to start a book called The January Man. Jordon Blake is a suave and handsome lawyer on track to become the youngest partner in the history of his firm. Jordon doesn’t believe in love but still induces one woman a year to fall in love with him. Then on New Year’s at the stroke of midnight, he dumps his latest love and starts the search for a new one…until his Fairy Godmother decides to teach him a lesson.
Michael Scott Clifton, public educator for over 38 years as a teacher, coach, and administrator, currently lives in Mount Pleasant, Texas with his wife, Melanie, and family cat, Sadie. An avid gardener, he enjoys all kinds of book and movie genres. His books contain aspects of all the genres he enjoys...adventure, magic, fantasy, romance, and relationships. He has been a finalist in a number of short story contests. Clifton’s fantasy novel, The Conquest of the Veil, won a First Chapter Finalist award. Professional credits include articles published in the Texas Study of Secondary Education Magazine. Clifton’s latest book, The Janus Witch, the July Book Cover of the Month, is a featured book on the We Love Indie Books website. Currently, Clifton is completing Book I of The Conquest of the Veil, which will be released in March 2019. He can be reached at .
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Saturday, December 8, 2018
by Gabriele Russo
Book 3: Gods Inc. Series
Fiery Seas Publishing
November 13, 2018
Hercules, guardian of the Lemuria Zoo, has a big problem: the Zoo’s divine animals have been going crazy. To make things worse, Queen Louhi, the CEO of Gods Incorporated, has just arrived for her yearly visit… with a new fiancé in tow (along with his yenta-minded grandfather Jupiter). Of course, the fact that Hercules is desperately in love with her doesn’t help his plight in any way whatsoever.
His attempt to cover up the situation quickly blows up in his face and they finally realize the animals’ madness is caused by artificial means. Cue in the bodiless god Mimir, who reveals that the real target of the mind-altering poison is Yggdrasil, the World Tree.
And if the Tree loses its cohesion, then so will the barriers between the worlds, crumbling the foundations of reality. Who in gods’ names could be crazy enough to want to do something like that?
CIRCLES AND ROUNDABOUTS
Athena and John listened to the new directions, and the abuse, attentively. When the bureaucrat reached an end to both, she thanked him/her profusely and shut the door.
“I told you that water fountain was the –” He hated the quote gesture, but sometimes it was necessary, ““drinks station”.”
Their search for the Burelaine was not going well. First, they had encountered a fork, which had made it impossible to “walk straight down”. With his compass, John had determined that one of the passages was less divergent than the other, making it the obvious choice. Of course, it had also been the wrong one. A fact made abundantly clear by the bureaucrat they had surprised in the shower (a disturbing sight to say the least). Apparently, they needed to learn how to read the corridor nomenclature; this would have told them which was the first one’s continuation. John was more than ready to do this; problem was, he couldn’t figure out where they hid said names. He’d found one so far, when he’d tripped on a loose floor tile: underneath the tile.
He’d tried looking for other loose tiles elsewhere, with no success.
They had turned around, but hadn’t been able to find their way back to the fork. In desperation, they had followed a short blond mustachioed man and his enormous redheaded sidekick looking for an A-37 permit, which eventually led them back to their starting point.
Then the “third corridor on the left” had turned out to be the fourth. There had not been any “drinks station” of any kind. The corridor just led straight into a funky smelling hangar that contained a river, a bridge, a troll, and a goat, all four busy arguing the best method to collect excise taxes. When at last Athena had managed to knock out the troll and grab the goat’s beard, they had found out that the second passageway on the left was sometimes walled off because it led to the wing outsourced to the Teleport Inc. reward miles’ industry, and even bureaucrats find some things repulsive.
They had finally taken the right corridor, but had walked along its bendy ways for a good half-hour without seeing a “drinks station”. Then, once they’d given up, they had gotten lost trying to retrace their steps, in defiance of John’s deeply held conviction that it was impossible to get lost following a corridor that didn’t branch out.
It was now well after five, at which time the bureaucrats, while tolerating people who had gotten in before four, did not see why they should be helpful in any way whatsoever. The lights were dim, and the entire place felt empty. When by some incredible chance they ran into a rare straggler, their pleas for help were met with vague excuses before the bureaucrat would scuttle away and disappear in an elbow of the corridor.
Finally, despite their apprehension, they had decided to knock on an office door where they could hear the clacking of computer keys.
It hadn’t been computer keys. It had been the creaking sounds of a swing’s chains. They had walked into a strange photo shoot. The bureaucrat had been holding a long stick from which dangled a new kind of camera and taking (sultry? seductive? macho?) poses on the swing. While apparently this was very important, as the obvious annoyance of the bureaucrat had made clear, s/he had agreed to help them find their way to the Reception and Dispatch Burelaine, because to quote him/her: “The least that promotion stealer deserves is being annoyed after hours by bumbling idiots such as you.”
And now, at last, they found the “water fountain”.
John stopped. “Wait, did the bureaucrat tell us it was the
office to the right before reaching the water fountain?” “Yes.”
“But didn’t the Information Attendant tell us it would be the office to the right after the drinks station?”
“Then it should be the office to the left before we reach the water fountain, no?”
Athena shrugged. “Let’s just knock on both doors.”
They did. Or, at least, they tried to. Their fists hit the doors, but no knock could be heard, no vibration felt.
They tried again. They switched doors.
“I get it,” said John. It’s like a computer application form. You can’t get to the next step before completing the previous one. Apparently, we need to make a choice.”
If Athena had had the fiery eyes in her divine abilities package, the door in front of her would surely have been reduced to a pile of ash. Instead, the goddess narrowed her eyes and her fists, then took a deep breath and slowly released the tension.
“Fine. How? Which right is the right right? Clergy! I wish these doors had numbers.”
“Wouldn’t help, the Attendant didn’t give us one. I do think you might be on to something, right is probably the important factor here. Let’s go to the next elbow in the corridor, come back, and knock on the door to the right.”
He was about to join action to word, but Athena held him in place.
“Wait. Toward which should we go? To the elbow where the office would be on the right after the ‘drinks station’, or the one where it would be on the right before the ‘water fountain’? And which way is which?”
FIERY SEAS BOOKSTORE: https://www.fieryseaspublishing.com/product-page/incoherent-gods
BARNES & NOBLE: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/incoherent-gods-gabriele-russo/1129277907?ean=2940161934784
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Gabriele Russo, AKA Lucie-Gabrielle Jolicoeur-Rousseau, was born in Quebec City amidst a family of book lovers – her father had dreamed of being a writer and both of her brothers are published authors.
Since she earned her Bachelor’s in History, it was no surprise (except to her) that she ended up working in restaurants, eventually owning two, which almost drove her mad. She sold them and was nursed back to pseudo-sanity by Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett.
That’s when she answered the family calling and decided to write. Armed with her ideas for the Gods Inc. series she went back to the University and got her Master’s in Creative Writing.
She now lives with her husband in Culpeper, Virginia, where she divides her time between painting, ripping apart and reconstructing her recently bought historical home, playing tennis and, of course, writing more books.