The Story of NaNo In the Weirdest Words ~ A NaNoWriMo Pep Talk



Words, words, everywhere, yet none that seem to fit.
Words, words, worthless ware… NaNo’s hard. I quit.

Struggling with the English language? Finding it difficult to suss the perfect words from the inept, not just in your novel, but in your explanations of NaNoWriMo? You’re not alone. Here we are, more than three weeks into this crazy adventure to which we have (once again and with masochistic glee) subjected ourselves, and if you’re anything like me, you can’t help but consider how insufficient our vocabularies can be. How clumsy and inadequate our phrasing in describing this yearly ritual to anyone in the normal world, where staring at a blinking cursor with your hands in your hair is seen for the demented exercise it certainly is. How are we to explain why our socks don’t match, why we haven’t showered in four days, or why our families are giving us such a wide berth that friends are left questioning whether “WriMo” might be a euphemism for someone with a heavy meth problem?

We can say it’s a test of will. We can call it weary madness and ambition and SO MUCH COFFEE. But that doesn’t cover it by half, does it? And what of the secret to winning? If you were asked to condense the key to this month-long affair into a single word, could you do it?
Luckily, removing language barriers is one of the unspoken perks of being a veteran. (Not really, but take the journey with me anyway. It’ll be fun.)

Hot, Cold, and Cool ~ A Message from the Author of "The Adventures of Bob"

A guest post by Ryan Shea, author of The Adventures of Bob, to Doodledip for Soup.

Hi. My name is Ryan Shea and I am an elementary school counselor at a K-4 school. I've been in education for 15 years, and I'm still going strong because I love working with kids!  A big majority of my day at school is spent in the classrooms teaching kids how to control their feelings when dealing with difficult people, or in their world...teasers! I combine two programs that are available to any school district: "Bullies to Buddies" and the "Be Cool" program.

Most of what I do is from the Be Cool program and I pull bits from Bullies to Buddies. Basically the kids learn the phrase: DON'T BE HOT, DON'T BE COLD, BE COOL.

Students learn that kids tease in order to get a reaction. Getting mad at a bully/teaser is a HOT reaction, and getting sad/crying/begging to stop is COLD. Not giving a reaction is COOL. Being cool is as simple as ignoring teasers, walking away, laughing, and even saying "Hey thanks!"

But kids have to work at being cool. So many just give up and show the Hot Cold reactions, the bully is given the response they wanted. I tell the kids, if you show Hot or Cold reactions to someone teasing you, for example, "I hate your new haircut!" or making fun of your name, the bully wins; that's what a bully wants, is to win and see you react.

Giving no reaction and being Cool, is boring to the bully. Bullies want reactions. No reactions tells a bully they loose. Although, a bully/teaser will try a few times, but if they are getting bored with no reactions, they tend to move on.

Being COOL for kids is very easy to remember and reminding them they win and the bully loses. I have kids practice saying "Be Cool" to themselves when they feel Hot or Cold emotions in certain situations.
DON'T BE HOT, DON'T BE COLD, BE COOL: it's simple, straight to the point, and easy to remember; especially for little ones.

I'm also a published author. My very funny children's book is called: The Adventures of Bob, to Doodledip for Soup. A bad bowl of space soup, a fat purple servant space cat, and  space puppies called Froogaloogers, keep kids entertained through out the entire story. It's a great fit for 2nd and 3rd graders, and a fun read aloud to little ones.

BE COOL!

You can learn more about Ryan Shea by following him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/doodledip4soup
And be sure to pick up your copy of The Adventures of Bob in paperback, audio, or kindle formats.

Jax and Mack ~ My First (Fully Illustrated) Picture Book *SQUEE!*

Though Chugga Train has been chugging the free corners of the interwebs for an age or so now, I'm so excited to announce the release of Jax and Mack as my first fully illustrated picture book. It is a rhyming children's story about two magical creatures who find their way (through their love of books) to an even more magical place called a library.

(Fans of The Sons of Masguard may recognize this story as told by McKinley the Marauder to a rapt group of orphans following a storm. He'd be so proud!)

Currently available for purchase on Amazon, and on YouTube for your viewing/listening pleasure.




It's That Time of Year Again

With back-to-school season in full swing (and right around the corner for many others), I'm very excited to be turning this piddly page of mine into a temporary nook of encouragement and awareness for those kids who may be dreading the return of the big yellow bus.

Bullying has always been a problem. But with the advent of social media -- where unkind words can reach a victim anywhere and at any time -- the problem has become an epidemic. Over the next few weeks, many important voices will be dropping by to chime in on the matter.

A handful of the wonderful authors to be featured:

Marcy Blesy ~ www.marcyblesy.com
Ethan Erway ~ http://www.ethanrussellerway.com/
Zoe Cannon ~ http://www.zoecannon.com/
Pearson Moore ~ http://pearsonmoore.net/
Andrew Ashling ~ http://www.ximerion.com/
Peter Bradbury ~ http://petercbradbury.wordpress.com/
Travis Hill ~ http://www.angrygames.com/
Nicholas Andrews ~ http://www.authornicholasandrews.com/

These posts will coincide with the Back-to-School Blog Tour (click on the gorgeous gif in the right-hand corner for more information) organized by the amazing Tiffany Turner, editor and head writer for the Indie Children’s Authors Connection.

I'll  also be donating foolproof lottery numbers and baskets of puppies to random visitors.*  So, be sure to check back throughout the month of September.

Do it for the puppies, people.



*Haha... no. No, I won't.

They Should Hand These Out to Everyone During the Editing Proccess

Our new kitten, Seymour, has decided that hugging my arm will somehow expedite the editing process. I didn't have the heart to tell him he was actually standing in the way of the work.

That's my mouse hand, buddy.

I kinda need it back.
Cutest editing partner ever.

Nothing Written is Ever Wasted

The brilliant and beautiful Rochelle Campbell, author of Leaping out on Faith, was kind enough to allow me to swing by her site for a guest post this week. She's a dear, dear human being -- please support her in any way you can!

Post:

My childhood home was crushed last year.

Smashed into a disc of debris by one little windstorm and an old cottonwood. If you were to stand in the wreckage, you’d never have known that it was once a humble house from a humble neighborhood. With windows and worth and walls covered in pictures of smiling faces. It’s a strange thing to see a symbol of permanence reduced to violent rubble – one that the dear people of Oklahoma understand all too well right now. (Our thoughts are still with you!) After discovering that no one had been hurt, those of us who’d long since flown the coop were surprised to realize that the destruction of the house wasn’t as upsetting as it might have been. All symbols aside, it was only a bit of wood and paint. It could be rebuilt. 

The cottonwood was another matter.

Losing that blasted tree brought us to tears.

To be fair, this was no ordinary cottonwood. It was ooold, having stood benevolently at the home’s side for more than a hundred years. It had provided shade and shelter not only for us, but for countless birds, squirrels, and beneficial insects that were now left with nowhere to sleep. It had been a permanent hiding place for raccoons and a temporary roost for eagles. My baby sister and I had wasted entire summers in its branches, playing at spies and soldiers and daring one another to climb higher, ever higher. Courtesy of an odd clustering of what looked to be four trees melded into one, its trunk measured over thirty feet in circumference and its canopy was a sky unto itself. The dear woman from the local Arbor Society who came to record its passing said it was the most astonishing of its kind, the most remarkable cottonwood she’d ever documented. It had been the reason my father, now gone, had purchased the property thirty years before. In the end, it was the reason the house fell. I suppose there is something sadly poetic about that.

By now, you’re probably wondering at the title of this post.  It’s a long way to go for a writing metaphor, but I’m ambling my way into a point, I promise.


Though we didn’t know it at the time, cottonwoods are notorious for this very type of thing – falling on houses, cars, even people – and as such, aren’t recommended for residential properties. With that in mind, it would be fair to accuse that big, beautiful thing in all its glory of being a mistake. You could say it wasn’t right for the house and the house paid for it. You could say we should have removed the thing the moment we arrived. Maybe you’d be right. But there was a reason that tree had grown to a mounting spectacle, as it did; a goliath that stood apart from its species and endeared itself to everyone who was lucky enough to sit beneath it. Due to a unique growth pattern, the tree’s root system was exceptionally deep and strong. Many cottonwoods tumble after being uprooted by their own girth, but not this one. Had it not fallen victim to disease, those roots might have sustained it for a hundred years more. Even now that it has been shorn to a stump, that system remains, stretching beneath the soil, a living network that none can see, providing a foundation for the new trees that have now been planted atop it. They will tap into that system. They will be nourished by it. They will grow to be more hardy, more successful, and likely more beautiful than they could ever have been on their own. 

And they will have that beautiful mistake to thank for their success.

My point, dear reader, fellow writer, is this:

We sometimes find ourselves in the aftermath of a writing mistake. Maybe you’re struggling to find acceptance for your work. Maybe something isn’t selling the way you thought it would. Maybe you’re looking at the devastation of a grand failure and wondering whether it’s at all worth it to rebuild, to start over – or whether you’d be better off to move away from this entire writing endeavor and find yourself a quiet corner office where nothing goes wrong, where work is always rewarded with pay, and where nothing beyond your control is ever going to fall on your dreams and crush them into filthy shards. 

You could do that.

But you bloody well know that you’d regret it.

Not everything you write will be publishable, no matter how much you love it. Not everything you publish will be marketable, no matter how much you try. Novels will be shelved, ideas will be abandoned, entire works will come crashing down on a massive scale and you will stare confounded at the debris, but that doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your time. Everything you will ever write has something to teach you. Cut the book to nothing, you will still have the memories of hours wherein you dared yourself to go higher, ever higher. You will learn in hindsight that there was a reason why it failed. And you will have a foundation upon which to build something new.

Writing isn’t something you do, it’s who you are. So write. If you fail, start over. And if you fail again, start over again. You will get stronger with every step, every word, every book. Every part of this loony ride of ups and downs is worth it, in the end – even the mistakes.

Scratch that.

Especially the mistakes.

My childhood home has been rebuilt and it is a remarkable sight. Starting over has injected that humble plot of land with enough sweat equity that the once-dilapidated property could now be a contender on any market. But my favorite part? The sea of trees sprouting strong and beautiful from the place where one gorgeous calamity of a cottonwood lived not so long ago. 

I can’t wait to watch them grow.

Read Post on the Notebook Blogairy

Meet Author Danielle Benji

Hello again, everyone! Hoping you all had a fantastic Memorial Weekend. I'm back with the gorgeous and talented Danielle Benji, whose children's book Emily Discovers Psychology is available now on multiple platforms.

Tell us about your book, Emily Discovers Psychology.
Emily Discovers Psychology opens up with a girl “Emily” who looks at a commercial on TV about bullying and how kids like her can prevent it. She becomes very interested in the subject and eager to learn more about it. After getting advice from her parents, Emily finds out that one of her classmates named “Mitchell” is a victim of bullying. Using her parents’ advice, she becomes friends with Mitchell, but she is puzzled . Emily begins her quest for answers and discovers the career of psychology.


Bullying and Asperger's are both heavy, important subjects, but you found a way to make them easily understood by children. What drove you to tackle these topics in that way, with youngsters as your audience?
At the time Autism was a very hot topic in the news especially with the Sandy Hook incident where they released a statement saying he had Asperger's, and the media linking autism to violence. I wanted to help clarify that their is no link between Asperger's Autism, and violence. A year ago my spouse was diagnosed with Asperger's, and I decided to release the book I wrote on the topic. I wrote it from a child's perspective because I wanted children and their parents to get a better understanding of this condition because there isn't enough acceptance.  Also, bullying affects everyone, and I thought maybe if I reach the younger generation it's one step closer to stopping it with them.


Regarding the stunning illustrations in your book, did you do them yourself or did you work closely with an illustrator? If the latter, what was the experience like?
No, I didn't do the illustrations, but I hired a very talented one name Kalifia. I loved working with her. She is so pleasant and professional. It was almost like she knew exactly what I wanted when it came to the details, and emotions, and the characters. I wanted to display in the book because I wanted the readers to feel the emotions of the characters in the book.

A quick look at your bio is enough to show anyone that you're a woman of many talents. Do you still pursue artistic endeavors outside of writing?
Back in 2012, I sung the introduction for a local artist on their album back in 2012. As of today I'm more focused on my writing.

You're also a mother, aren't you? How does your toddler react to mommy's books?
Yes, I'm a proud mommy of a very smart two old little girl named Alicia. When she sees Emily she instantly yells "Emily!" in excitement no matter where she sees her - on the computer screen, or the actual book. I think she is very proud of me, because she also says "Mommy's Book!"

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
The advice I can give them is if you choose to go through a traditional publisher and it doesn't work out, it's not the end of the road for you as a writer. You self-publish your books, and it's not going to be easy because noting is, but at least your words will be read. Also, before going through with any of those options do a lot of research. Just don't don't jump into these without the prior knowledge.


What's next on your schedule? Do you plan to take Emily through more learning experiences?
My books are about different career professions, so Emily will definitely learn a lot about about life and what it has to offer while learning about these different careers. The next book will possibly be about something in the photography field. I can't reveal much, lol.

You're very open about living with Cerebral Palsy. How old were you when you were diagnosed and how did it change your perspective?
I was two when I diagnosed with a mild Cerebral Palsy. I pretty much had a normal childhood. I could walk, but it was a little different then the other kids. Of course, I have gotten bullied for it in school, but I stood up for myself, and my parents never knew about it because I was raised to hold my head up high and be proud of who I was, despite my CP.  I had the support of my parents who loved me. I also believe in a higher being who watches over me, and made a promise of  human perfection at the time. Despite my challenges, which are very little, I'm a published author. I have a loving little family as well as extended family support.

If you could change one thing about your writing career thus far, what would it be?
I would like to be best-selling on Amazon. I think all authors would love that, but other than that I love what I'm doing, and I do have high hopes for my future.

Most important question: ninjas or pirates? 
I would have to say ninjas, lol.




You can connect with Danielle on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or on her website.

Vivienne's Review of Emily Discovers Psychology

For a children's book to delve so intelligently into a serious topic is a rare thing indeed. Not only does "Emily Discovers Psychology" deal with bullying and Asperger's (a specific form of Autism), it teaches children of the importance of psychology as a profession. Emily herself makes for a wonderful role model -- empathetic, thoughtful, and quick to communicate with the most helpful grown-ups in her life. An important read for any child. And any parent, for that matter!

Letting the Dandelions Grow

When we first purchased our updated farmhouse in the foothills, the yard was a disaster. Having sat on the market for quite some time with no one in the house to see to its upkeep, much of the acreage had reverted to sagebrush and knotweed. Only one small patch of grass remained beneath the struggling apple and plum trees in the triangular front yard. You may question our logic but after seven years on a stifling suburban lot, we were over the moon with the prospect of transforming this neglected property into something spectacular.

That first year couldn't have been more rewarding. We purchased hose and shrubs and a stable lawn tractor. I became an avid gardener, growing everything from seed and soliciting oohs and ahhs from people who'd "never seen anyone have that much luck with tomatoes before! Wow!" That small patch of grass grew to encompass an acre, surrounding the house with a luxurious blanket of green in an area that rarely saw enough rain to keep the mountains from shriveling in on themselves.

All of that changed when I fell ill the following year.

Not in the gee, it's the flu again sense of the word, but rather in the dragging your family to the emergency room at two in the morning because the pain scares you that much sense of the word. Months of uncertainty and testing and pointless medication would later reveal that my guts had flat stopped doing the job of digestion, leaving me with massive inflammation and infection throughout my esophagus and upper stomach. It was a year of constant discomfort. Nausea to pain to immobility and back again. Overtaken by my own weakness, my struggles with agoraphobia intensified until I wasn't leaving the house, even on the days when the discomfort was minimal enough to allow it. My husband's fourteen-hour workdays left him unable to care for both a sick wife and an ailing yard. So our green oasis faded until it was anything but. The shrubs died. The grass grew sparse. The few tomatoes I'd transferred to my once-loved garden were so quickly scorched and shriveled that I lost the will to even attempt to care for them. But the worst was the dandelions.

In our old suburban neighborhood, dandelions had not been tolerated. A dandelion was a badge of shame, the surest sign that the homeowner couldn't be bothered to care for their lawn with the proper chemicals and twice-a-day mowing that one expects from a dignified and decent conformist. Upon seeing just one, neighbors would walk by and shake their heads, even slowing in their cars as they passed to subtly notify the homeowner of their disapproval. Armed with this backlog of judgment, where every unfinished chore on our new homestead was a screaming reminder of my uselessness, it was the dandelion takeover that really twisted the blade of disgrace.

How small and helpless I became. How ineffective. I was a burden, incapable of contributing or controlling any part of my life. And damn those weeds for reminding me of that.

One day, as I was returning from dropping off my boy at the school bus stop, four miles down the road, I found myself halting in the middle of our long driveway, astonished to see that our unkempt yard had become a moving sea of yellow. For a moment, I wondered whether those blasted dandelions had multiplied and mutated into spastic dance choreographers, but no. Our yard was covered -- absolutely covered -- in goldfinches.

Dozens upon dozens of them. Golden feathers glowing in the sunrise, they gobbled up the dandelion seeds and chirped one to another as if coordinating a symphony. I turned off the car and watched them flit about the work of cleaning the yard that I could no longer tend on my own. Tears filled my eyes. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Had I been robbing myself of this all these years? In a rush to control, to tidy nature's corners into what I'd foolishly thought to be dignified and decent, had I been keeping its most beautiful offerings at bay?

They stayed for nearly a week, those gorgeous angels of nature. And they left when the dandelions did. I was sad to see them go, but grateful for the work they had done. More than that, I was grateful for the lesson that maybe, just maybe, burdensome-ness isn't such a concrete thing. Maybe dignity is in the eye of the beholder. It was a lesson that was driven home again in the fall, when my inability to clear the fallen apples from the ground drew a herd of deer onto our property. Once again, nature took care of itself, gracefully and without any help at all from me.

Actual photo from our front yard.

Though I've now found a fantastic doctor and am healthy enough to attack the yardwork with all the vigor I ever had, I make it a point to leave the dandelions alone. And when the apples come down in the fall, I let them lie as well. Because it took falling ill with uselessness to realize something that my desperate need for potency wouldn't let me see.

Sometimes in life, the weeds serve a purpose. Sometimes the rotten apples aren't so rotten after all. 

And sometimes, the silver linings even come with wings.





Why I Will Always Love Print, as Well as My Mom ~ (Yes, the Two are Connected)

When I was very small, I checked out a certain book from the school library. It was a thin paperback with beautiful illustrations and whimsical themes -- kings and quests and a talking wolf. I loved that book. So much so that I didn't return it for weeks, checking it out again and again until they'd allow it no more. At which point, I racked up an impressive fine. (Well, as impressive a fine as a school is willing to levy on a seven-year-old.)

My mother could have gotten angry. She could have chastised me and given a lecture on respecting deadlines or knowing when to let go of something that wasn't mine to keep. Instead, on the night before it was to be returned, she sat down at the typewriter and copied the text, word for word, leaving room on each page for the illustrations, which she also drew by hand. I don't know how late she stayed up. I only know that, the next morning, I had my very own copy waiting for me on the kitchen table.

Across the years, I'm sad to say that my cherished, by-hand book was lost a page at a time. But the story didn't end there.

When I became a mother myself, she went looking for that book. It took several false purchases and nearly a year to find the right title, but find it she did. And once again, I had my tale of whimsy and talking wolves -- this time, to share with my own child. I still love that book. It holds a prominent place on my son's bookshelf, facing outward, where I can see it from the doorway anytime I wish.


Had this situation taken place today, it would have been a simple matter of looking up the title online and downloading a copy before returning that thin paperback. There would have been no years-long search, no page by page reminder that stories matter and that mothers will do anything for their children, sacrificing sleep and time and money they didn't necessarily have to spare. And though I am now an indie writer who publishes primarily in the e-market, printed books will always be important to me in a way that's difficult to describe without getting a little teary.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.

Go buy this book.




Meet Author D. M. Jarrett

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a bit of a science fiction fan. The 80s weren't nice to me as a result, but geeks run the world these days, so who's having the last laugh now, Susanna Helmsworth?*

(*The names of certain bullies have been changed to allow for the fact that they were just kids, and probably grew up to be awesome people with whom I'd now love to watch the upcoming Star Trek film. Assuming they're willing to realize its epic-ness. And that being a nerd is now the thing. And that my hair totally does not "do that weird flippy thing" that makes me "look like an uneven haystack in a flannel shirt." Eat your words and we can talk, not-Susanna.)

Ahem. Anyway... I'm thrilled to welcome young adult/sci-fi adventure writer and fellow Whovian, D.M. (David) Jarrett, to this little blog o' mine.

Mr. Jarrett, welcome! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi, I'm David Jarrett author of the Sean Yeager Adventures book series. As well as writing I support Liverpool FC, play tennis, listen to music and catch films whenever I can. I enjoy Doctor Who, Star Wars and Top Gear among other things.

Tell us about your Aenathen series: Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief and Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted.
Sean Yeager began as a series of short stories. I liked the idea of an accidental hero who has his life turned upside down. During the series Sean learns about himself, his father and The Foundation. It's gradually revealed that his cosy little world is far more dangerous than he ever imagined.

With the series I wanted to write about how action, sci-fi adventures and real life collide. So in this series the hi-tech gear goes wrong from time to time. Also the heroes make mistakes and are sometimes impeded by their co-workers. I write visually as far as possible. I also try to plot as if the stories are films with lots of twists. I guess that's how my brain works really.

The first book - DNA Thief - is like an introduction to Sean Yeager's world and is pretty fast paced and full on. The second book - Hunters Hunted - introduces Emily as a co-conspirator. It's still action packed, but has scenes that are more reflective and almost supernatural in places.

Illustration of Agent Rusham by Joel Carpenter
You collaborate with illustrator Joel Carpenter to create the images around your series. How did that relationship come about and what makes it a good fit?
Joel is a very talented artist and helped me to visualise so many things about Sean Yeager's world. We met up and talked about what I was trying to do, which was originally a picture book. During the creative process I realised that I was headed for novels instead and so we adapted the usage and emphasis of the work. I would still love to do a graphic novel for both books and Joel is at the top of my list.

It's funny I think things about the stories evolved in my head partly through seeing Joel's work. I would suggest a brief and provide an outline sketch and then Joel would come back with some far better ways of composing the ideas. Some panels were very quick to agree and some took a lot of kicking around. I probably drive Joel nuts at times. (Sorry Joel.)

The majority of Joel's SYA artwork is displayed on www.SeanYeager.com.

Your books feature an intelligent vehicle named Hermes. What was the inspiration for that?
I'm very interested in hi-tech vehicles generally, including cars. Within the first two books there are loads of gizmos and some serious hardware. Hermes came about as a decision to follow in the tradition of Thunderbirds, James Bond, UFO and the like. All these series have great vehicle designs and a toy range to match.

The aim with Hermes was to design a concept of a car that could fly, swim and drive. The idea being that alien technology has been hidden inside a seemingly ordinary looking sports car. The design itself took a lot of head scratching and eventually Joel and I came up with something I really do think could be built, at least as a road car.

What's next for Sean Yeager?
I have an outline plot for six books and I'm working on the detailed plot for book 3, Claws of Time. I won't give away any spoilers, but suffice to say it starts on a personal level and becomes a blockbuster style action story. Much like the first two books in fact and the themes really broaden out.

Do you have a favorite moment from your books, or a scene you're most proud to have written?
I like the fact that each of my beta readers has pointed out different parts of the books that they have enjoyed. On one level the Sean Yeager books are action shoot-outs and yet there are plenty of deeper strands in there as well.

I particularly enjoyed writing the scenes for Sean and Emily, because of the banter between them. I visualised a brother and sister teasing each other. Also, the action scenes seem to quicken the pulse on read back, which I take as a good sign.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes there's so much. A few pointers are:

1) Write often and expect to re-write drafts at least once, if not twice.
2) Know your target readers and give them (almost) what they want.
3) Find helpers for covers, proofing and editing. It is too much to do it all by yourself.

What is your favorite sci-fi television show, current or cancelled?
My current favourite is Doctor Who, because of the production and writing standards. I'm still pretty sore that a show called Defying Gravity was cancelled because I loved it and wanted to see where it was heading.

If you could trade places with any fictional character for one day, whom would you choose and why?
Harry Potter. He has a stick that can do almost anything, an invisibility cloak and some cool friends. What more could you ask for? Well yes, you could probably do without the Dark Lord trying to kill you all the time and Harry should probably borrow Hermes for a while. But then there's always that time turner to sort things out isn't there?

Otherwise, I'd like to be one of the pilots in Sean Yeager because of their cool gear.

Aliens crash in your backyard and offer to take you with them when repairs are finished. Do you go or do you stay?
It depends. If they are called the Vuloz I run a mile. If they are humanoid and I get to drive, I'm out of here!

Ninjas or pirates?
Ninjas with jet packs.

See, that answer nearly got you banned. But then you added the jet packs. I can't argue with jet packs. Where can readers find out more about the Sean Yeager books?
If you google Sean Yeager Adventures, there are snippets, reviews, pictures and articles all over the web. The website is at http://www.seanyeager.com.

The e-books are available in all reader formats and Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief is currently available in print. From mid-summer we plan to release both Sean Yeager books in print via all major online outlets.

Mr. Jarrett, thank you so much for visiting us.
Thanks for interviewing me.

About the books:
Sean Yeager and the DNA Thief
The first thrilling adventure in the Sean Yeager series.

A teen action, adventure, quest, thriller; with spies, aliens, robots, commandos and a whole host of gizmos and gear.

(Written for fans of Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Star Wars, Men in Black and James Bond)

This is the Brigadier, don’t just sit there jump to it! Krankhausen’s on the loose again and we need your help to track him down. While you’re at it find out what’s so special about this Sean Yeager. Yes you may borrow a Foundation vehicle but Professor Quark wants it back in one piece do you hear? Oh and keep Mrs Yeager at arm’s length, she’s still upset about her missing husband. Don’t involve the police either they’re not too keen on our carrying weapons ever since we blew up that island, I mean building. Yes you can call in the Commandos if you need them, but don’t vaporise anything or anyone important. I’ve a very prestigious opera gala to attend and I could do without any embarrassing questions. Still here? Call yourself a Field Agent?

'Deserves to be read'
‘Rocket-fuelled mayhem that keeps you guessing to the last page.’
‘A roller coaster ride of surprises.’


Sean Yeager Hunters Hunted
The second exciting episode in the Sean Yeager Adventures series.

A teen, action, adventure, thriller; with sci-fi, spies, aliens, robots, clones and commandos. Hunters Hunted is a mystery quest set in a near real world.

Sean Yeager is moved to a secure mansion surrounded by forest for his own protection. He soon becomes bored and plots ways of meeting his friends and keeping himself amused. He meets Emily, who is also living at the safe house, and hears of a legendary treasure. Without realising the approaching danger they decide to search for the treasure, which is calling to Sean in his dreams. During his stay he meets a collection of new characters and bio-robots, but who can he trust? And will Sean and Emily succeed in finding the mysterious treasure before they themselves are captured?



How to Cope With the Loss of a Pet

There was a time in my life when I thought I was going to be a psychologist. I was fascinated by the study of the human mind and desperately wanted to help people. As it turns out, I'm too much of a wimp to pull it off. I can't listen to a sad story without crumbling like an empathetic pansy. I can't watch someone cry without crying with them. And I certainly can't lose a pet without grieving the grief of one who's lost a family member.

Maybe you're here because you've found yourself in that same position. If so -- if you've recently lost a pet and are looking for ways to deal with the pain -- I firstly want you to know that I am so, so sorry.

No one can pretend to know what you're going through -- everyone experiences loss in a different way. Whether yours is a quiet hurt or a wailing wound, it can be difficult to believe that the pain will ever pass. Believe me, it will. There will come a day when you are able to look back on the memories and smile, rather than cry. Until then, you can take healthy steps to cope with the very normal process of grieving for your friend.

1) Don't blame yourself.
You may think your pet's passing is somehow your fault. Odds are, nothing could be further from the truth. Remember that you gave a loving home to an animal that might otherwise have been homeless. You made room in your heart for a dog, or a cat, or a horse to spend their days; to be cherished in a happy and secure environment. Nothing about that is worthy of guilt. Be proud of the place you had in your pet's life.

2) Surround yourself with people who understand.

Not everyone will be able to identify with the pet/pet-owner bond, let alone the emotional ramifications of having that bond disrupted by death. And that's okay. It doesn't make them evil people, and it doesn't mean you need to remove them from your life, or damage your social and working relationships. Right now, however, you need to take care of you. It's difficult enough undergoing this process without having your attachments devalued. So reach beyond your normal social sphere if you must. Make new friends. Join a support group. You may be surprised, not only by the number of people who will share in your grief, but also by the number of people willing to help you through it.

3) Give yourself as much time as you need.
Don't allow anyone to tell you how you should grieve -- or for how long. Some people move on more quickly than others. Making your way through the stages to acceptance may take weeks, it may take months. Don't feel ashamed if it takes longer. And don't feel guilty if it doesn't.

4) Honor your pet's passing in whatever way you feel is most appropriate.
Whether you opt for a burial, the saving or spreading of ashes following a cremation, or the planting of a living memorial (a tree, bush, or perennial flower), we humans find a great deal of comfort and closure in the performing of rituals. The idea of laying our loved ones to rest in a meaningful moment brings us peace. Give your pet and yourself the benefit of ceremony. If you can, supplement the ritual with something that allows you to feel useful and involved, like donating time or money to your local animal shelter.

5) Don't salt the wound.
You may find it more difficult to focus on yourself if you are surrounded by reminders of your pet's absence. Sometimes, it can be helpful to put your pet's things into storage until you've moved on to an easier stage in the grieving process. (If this is too difficult, you can ask a friend or a family member to do it for you.) You aren't locking away your memories, you're simply giving your heart the space it needs to cope.

6) Move on... but only when you're ready.
When the time comes to adopt a new pet, it's normal for people to feel as though they're replacing the one they lost. Take some time to reflect. You know yourself better than anyone. Are you hesitating because you aren't ready for a new pet? Or are you holding yourself back out of misplaced guilt? If you feel that you are ready, know that you aren't using your new pet as a filler to spare yourself pain, you are opening yourself up to new love and happiness -- both of which are things that you very much deserve.

Best of wishes, warmest regards, and every heartfelt hope to you in this difficult time. May your grief be gentle and fleeting. And may your memories fill you with comfort.

XOXO



~ Owner, Dearest Friend ~

I could never say enough,
Owner, dearest friend,
To thank you for the love you gave
To me, until the end.

I'm sorry that I hurt you
By saying my goodbye.
You gave me such a happy home.
I lived a happy life.

I leapt and played and laughed in ways
You maybe couldn't see.
Of all the pets you might have loved,
I'm glad that you chose me.

It's okay to miss me,
For I will miss you, too.
It's okay to bow your head
And cry if you have to.

However hard it seems today,
Your dear, sweet heart will heal.
For now, my friend, remember me
And feel what you must feel.

But don't give up on loving,
Owner, dearest friend.
Although the cost is oh-so-high,
It's worth it, in the end

To know that you made this pet's life
The best one it could be.
It should be no mystery why
You meant the world to me.

So here's my final word, my friend,
This is my last wish.
Find another lonely pet
And give to them my dish.

Then every time they make you smile,
Know that I'm smiling, too.
Still so proud
To once have been
A dearest friend to you.

~ Vivienne Mathews (2013)

Resources:
ASPCA Assistance ~ http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-loss/
Pet Loss Hotline ~ (877) GRIEF-10
Pet Loss Support Page (Search for Counseling or Pet Cemeteries in Your State) ~  http://www.pet-loss.net/
Grief Support Center of Rainbow's Bridge (Forums and Chat Rooms) ~ http://www.rainbowsbridge.com/Grief_Support_Center/Grief_Support_Home.htm
Helping Children Deal With Loss ~ http://family.go.com/parenting/pkg-school-age/article-796133-dealing-with-the-loss-of-a-pet-t/

Word Confessions

Writers are delusional. All of them. The smart ones check themselves into treatment. Those of us who are a little more... challenged... in areas of reason just keep putting pen to paper until our sanity is so far gone that the paper starts talking back to us. In exchange, we get to walk around with the oh-so-distinguished air of someone who's just super with the English language.

Totally worth it.

But here's the thing. Beneath that phony air (the one that hinders our social abilities and smells vaguely of cinnamon), writers tend to have a very love/hate relationship with words. We are not masters of language. We're members of the chain gang with Stockholm syndrome and we're praying to every deity ever known that no one will find us out. To prove it, I'm dumping a pile of word droppings here for your reading pleasure.

I hope you still respect me in the morning.

If ever you did, that is. I don't want to get ahead of myself with assumptions.

  • No matter how often I use the word specificity, I still have to say it one syllable at a time in order to say it correctly.
  • It bothers me that the word omelet isn't spelled "omelette," and actively have to remind myself that "trying to class up a pedestrian word" is no excuse for poor spelling. (Don't tell me something isn't allowed to be upscale if it came out of a chicken's multipurpose pooter. Think Faberge eggs, people.)
  • I was practically an adult before I learned that the proper pluralization for octopus isn't "octopi." (It's octopodes, but most nations adopted the word octopuses instead -- which seems somehow vulgar...)
  • I love the word copacetic, because reasons.
  • I don't understand why people don't use the words argle-bargle and bumbershoot on a daily basis.
  • I laughed for an hour the first time I heard the word hoary.
  • Absent sarcasm, I can't say the words sublime or mellifluous without sounding pretentious.
  • Absent an impressive case of the Mondays, I can't say hootenanny, kumquat, or bubbles in an angry tone of voice.
  • I love that the word bad in German means bath, and that gift means poison. I think this says something about the differences in our cultures.
  • I think American politics has forever ruined the word maverick
  • I spend way too much time reading phobia names and definitions because I get to learn words like genuphobia (the fear of knees) and hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (the fear of long words).

So, as you can see, I'm still learning to get on with language in a civilized manner. Whether or not we'll come to an arrangement in the long run is anyone's guess.

Cheers, all.

Oh, and if you aren't sick of me just yet (How could you not be? What on earth is wrong with you?), take a gander at this week's interviews.
With Book Goodies:
Interview #1
With author, Val Muller

Meet Author Val Muller

Don't worry, I promise not to make a habit of it.

It's just that Val Muller, author of the middle-grade mystery series Corgi Capers and the upcoming horror novel Faulkner's Apprentice, was kind enough to stop by for an interview and my excitement got the better of me. Note that our names start with "V" and we're both redheads. I feel a kinship forming.




Welcome, Ms. Muller!
Thanks for hosting me!

My pleasure -- it's wonderful to have you. How long have you been writing?
My first "book" came in first grade: The Mystery of Who Killed John Polly. It was my show-and-tell project for about three years in a row!

Do you have any writing quirks? (A favorite pen? Naming your typewriter, that sort of thing?)
I write most of my first drafts by hand. It's taking a toll on my wrist, so I've been trying to teach myself how to compose first drafts on a keyboard. I haven't found a keyboard I "love" yet, but I'll keep on it!

What is the most difficult part of writing for you? How do you overcome it?
I hate editing my own work -- not the first draft of edits, but the final polishing. I get so nervous about it, and I have to keep pulling myself out of the story so I don't get lost in the narrative (and focus instead on the tiny nuances of a final edit). 

Looking back on your writing career thus far, is there anything you wish you'd done differently?
I wish I had started taking it seriously earlier. After college I kind of fell into my job and never took writing seriously. I guess I had that perception that writing was just something that happened to people, not something that a writer actively pursued. Obviously, I woke up!

Do you have any advice for new or aspiring authors?
Read. Write. Repeat.   

It's clear that you've been inspired by your adorable dogs where Corgi Capers is concerned. Was there a particular moment when you looked at them and thought, "I just HAVE to write about these guys?"
Walking them through the neighborhood, a bunch of kids started asking me what kind of adventures the dogs get in while I'm at work. Their interest in my dogs' "secret lives" inspired me to write it down. Plus, my dogs have very distinct personalities, making it easy to turn them into characters.


Do you have a certain line, scene, or character that you're most proud of?
"The bad man" from my most recent horror novel is the character that most stands out to me. He's pure evil, and I've even had multiple nightmares about him. Yikes!

What is the best feedback you've received?
A kid in my neighborhood, a beta reader, told me that she liked Corgi Capers better than The Hunger Games!

Favorite fan interaction?
A fan posted a YouTube video on Facebook. It was a scene where a dog let another dog out of its crate. This is exactly what happens in Corgi Capers, and the fan was thinking of that exact scene when she saw the video. It made my day!



 What do you do when you aren't writing?
My full-time job is teaching. I teach 11th and 12 grade English and creative writing. I like spending much of my day talking about and reading literature. Standardized tests... not so much!

What's your favorite film?
Back to the Future. I've loved it ever since I first saw it. I think, subconsciously, that movie taught me much of what I know about writing.

Ninjas or pirates?
Pirates. Definitely pirates.

That is absolutely the correct answer. Is there anything else you'd like the readers to know about you?
I'm very bad at spelling. Oh, and you can find me here:

Corgi Capers: www.CorgiCapers.com (Currently holding a contest! Enter for the chance to name a character in Corgi Capers, Book 3!)

I'd like to thank Ms. Muller for her time and consideration in answering all of my obnoxious questions with such class! I'll leave you all with an excerpt from her upcoming horror novel, Faulkner's Apprentice, available April 30th! Drop by Goodreads to enter a giveaway!


Excerpt:

As the morning progressed, Lorei grew more comfortable talking to fans and journalists. Before long, she had even perfected her signature. She pulled back her sweater and smiled when her body caught the eye of a patron. For the first time in her life, she felt her luck might actually be taking a turn for the better. 
By the time the line dwindled to the last customer, Lorei was riding a wave of adrenaline. The fame, the success; it was a taste of all she had worked for and longed for since high school.All the random day jobs; all the long, dark hours poring over her writing. It was all worthwhile now. She had even collected a stack of phone numbers. 
But when she looked up to greet the last customer in line, her confidence shattered. The color on her cheeks drained with her adrenaline. It was a man in a worn, brown fedora and a weathered trench coat; it was the same man who had been creeping near her backyard. 
This time, he was close enough for her to examine his face. The face was so gruesome that the man’s gaze terrified her, yet it was so horribly captivating that she could not look away. The face was wrinkled, leathery, and gaunt. Pouches of flesh sagged under his eyes, and when he smiled at her, the flabby flesh stretched tight against his lips. His gnarled and knobby nose reminded Lorei of a haunted old tree that grew outside her childhood bedroom window; it housed a spooky old owl that used to keep her awake with its ghostly hooting. He looked more like a scarecrow than a man. Lorei shuddered as the strange man stepped up to the table and cleared his throat. Other customers mingled around the store, each one clutching a newly-signed book like a precious treasure. Those who had been so adamant to see her a moment ago seemed to have forgotten her existence. She was left horribly alone and had no choice but to confront the man with her gaze. 
His countenance held all the properties of childhood nightmares—unexplainable and visceral and terribly real. His skin was weathered like the aging autumn; gnarled and twisted, it seemed to protest its own age. His bottom lip was swollen and split on one side with scarred-over stitches holding it together. Above the opposite eyebrow was a wide and leathery scar. Shadowed by a heavy brow sunk two piercing eyes, coal-black. The gaze that blazed from them pierced Lorei with the shrillest of winter winds and yet burned through her core like fire. 
“I—” was all she could mutter. She sat paralyzed. The man held no book for her to sign and said nothing. His hands he kept in his coat pockets, his gaze penetrating all the while. He seemed comfortable enough standing in silence. 
Lorei looked again for the manager, but Diane stood absorbed in conversation on the other side of the store. Like the customers, she was oblivious to Lorei’s situation. Lorei and the stranger were enclosed in their own private sphere of existence. Even if she screamed, she knew that no one would hear. No one would look. There was something intangible that separated her from the rest of humanity just then. 
She closed her eyes, hoping that it was all just her imagination. But when she opened them again, the man was still there. He had removed his hands from his pockets, and they were fondling the inside cover of Faulkner’s newest book. He ran his finger up and down the dust jacket, tracing the contours of Faulkner’s headshot. 
“Something sad about his face, don’t you think?” the man asked. His voice was at once wispy and gruff enough to match his appearance. It had the qualities of a lonely fall breeze rustling through the last of the dried leaves that were nature’s only stronghold against the death of winter. 
Lorei could not answer right away. Instead, she was captivated by the sight of his finger. Like his face, the skin on his hands was dingy, stained an earthen color. His nail was long like a claw, and black. It looked dead, like it would soon fall away. He traced the long nail around and around, forcing her eyes to examine the portrait. It hypnotized her so that she couldn’t look away. And then, the familiar and smoldering eyes of Faulkner’s headshot made her forget all about the gaunt man in the fedora.