Monday, May 28, 2012

The Havenshire Resistance- Captivating!

This is the second book in the ‘Heirs to the Throne’ series and I cannot wait for the third! I am hooked. I would like to mention an excellent feature that was included in the beginning of the book. It was the back-story. Brilliant! If you have not read the first book, you will get the brief summary and avoid any confusion when reading the second book. If you have read the first book, it is a nice synopsis, as you continue your journey.

Diane Rapp has a style of writing that I like to call ‘musical’. When I read her books, she takes me on an intense voyage where I can smell the fragrance of the night blooming flowers and stroke the soft fur of the sentient wolves, under the red moon. This adventure takes place on the planet Drako and it is action packed!

 As we join our friends, trouble is brewing. King Donovan works hard to create a Kingdom where all the citizens have equal opportunities. He promotes fair trade and makes enemies along the way. He has to fight with the lords within his Kingdom, who do not want change. Then there is the ever-present threat of the ominous evil that is Jarrack. He is a power hungry tyrant with the gift of mind control. He wants everything that King Donovan has- including his Queen Krystal and their daughters. 
When anarchy explodes, Jarrack traps Donovan in a type of ‘time warp’ and takes control of Havenshire.

Krystal is obligated to make some painful decisions. It is essential to separate her daughters, to keep them safe. In addition, she must find a way to rescue her beloved King. 

She summons all of her strength, to create a strategy whereby she can covertly rule the Kingdom and gain the support of her people. She soon creates the Havenshire Resistance.  

It is the start of a secretive black market,   born to finance the motley crew that will become her army. This unique army will consist of samurai, peasants, renegades, & the abused women, rescued from Jarrack’s harem. Moreover, she will have the support of the sentient wolves.

Years go by; the three daughters grow up in different environments, giving them each unique skills that will serve them well. Krystal stays safe by becoming the leader of The Fire Temple. As the girls approach their seventeenth birthday, the plan goes into effect. They must find each other and band together as a family.

Danger lurks around every corner and under every rock. Jarrack sends Desert riders to find and capture the girls. Even with their guardians, the journey is one of danger. They must rely upon the wolves but they need the approval of the wolves’ Council of Elders, who is skeptical, doubting the intelligence of the humans. There are challenges at every step of the way. 
With the help of the wolves, a dragon, panther, and a hawk, the daughters brace for the fight to save their father.

Krystal leads the Havenshire Resistance and defeats the enemy. They succeed in killing Jarrack... but is he really “gone”?   King Donovan is freed. The family is reunited. All is well in the kingdom. Or… is it? 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Bullying Epidemic- are we making a difference?

***I think we're getting the word out.  My book,  has made it to #1 Kindle Education-Counseling.  Remember what I always say, “With ignorance comes fear- from fear comes bigotry. Education is the key to acceptance.” Let's keep the momentum going!

Bullying has been around since the beginning of time.  I don't claim to be any expert but I have had my own experience with being bullied as a child, many years ago.  I know how deep the pain goes.   It's extremely traumatic. It scars you for life.  And although it has always been wrong- on so many levels- it has never been more rampant.  The heart breaking stories we hear on the news almost weekly.  Children being terrorized to the point of suicide.

Why isn't someone stepping to the plate?  There are many opinions and schools of thought on that topic.  There are several websites that are excellent resources for everyone. 

The government has actually put together a website that can be used as a resource by children, teens, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), parents and educators.  That site is:

Bullying is on the rise- there is no doubt about it.  And what's really alarming is how young these bullies begin to terrorize.  The key is to start educating children at a young age.  Parents need to take an active role, as they have the most influence over the child at this age.

“When we’re talking about 3-, 4-, 5-year-old girls, your ability is stronger as a parent to police your child’s behavior than when your girl is 15,’’ says Simmons, founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, a nonprofit that teaches assertiveness skills.

Speaker and author Barbara Coloroso ( claims we are living in a “culture of mean.”   She told a story that should serve as a wake up call.  Coloroso says it’s imperative to acknowledge bullying regardless of age because the behavior often progresses.

She described a case last year in Washington state in which a group of sixth-grade girls made an animated video set to a Hannah Montana tune and put it on YouTube. Titled “Top Six Ways to Kill Piper,’’ the video showed two girls shooting their classmate, shoving her off a cliff, poisoning her, and making her kill herself. The perpetrators, 11 and 12 years old, were disciplined by their school, but no criminal charges were filed.

“If we don’t handle it in grade school,’’ Coloroso says, “it only gets worse.’’

Still, most people do nothing. Plus, their have been disturbing cultural changes, that I believe directly contribute to increased bullying.  It seems that all the popular shows today illustrate that "mean" is equal to "cool".  They glamorize bullying.  This is especially true with girls and women. 

Anyone can be victim to a bully.  It's wonderful to see so many celebrities coming forward to offer support with their own sad stories of being victimized by a bully.  There are a group of musicians that have formed an organization called  'Make Beats Not Beat Downs'.  According to their website,  Make Beats Not Beat Downs is a non-profit uprising dedicated to presenting alternative help to bullies & the bullied youth through all aspects of music. Through partnering up with some of the most talented musicians, nation wide, we vow to make sure that bully victims have a voice. MBNBD and these dedicated musicians are here to say, “We, like you, have had enough. We're going to stand up for you. We're going to stand up for each other. Who's with us?"

They also list some alarming statistics that I will share with you.  Keep in mind, the numbers continue to rise every month...

- It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Source: National Education Association.

- American schools harbor approximately 2.1 million bullies and 2.7 million of their victims. Dan Olweus, National School Safety Center.

- 1 in 7 Students in Grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.

- 56% of students have personally witnessed some type of bullying at school.

- 15% of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school.

- 71% of students report incidents of bullying as a problem at their school.

- 1 out of 20 students has seen a student with a gun at school.

- 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.

- Those in the lower grades reported being in twice as many fights as those in the higher grades. However, there is a lower rate of serious violent crimes in the elementary level than in the middle or high schools.

- 90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying.

- Among students, homicide perpetrators were more than twice as likely as homicide victims to have been bullied by peers.

- Bullying statistics say revenge is the strongest motivation for school shootings.

- 87% of students said shootings are motivated by a desire to “get back at those who have hurt them.”

- 86% of students said, “other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in the schools.

- 61% of students said students shoot others because they have been victims of physical abuse at home.

- 54% of students said witnessing physical abuse at home can lead to violence in school.

- According to bullying statistics, 1 out of every 10 students who drops out of school does so because of repeated bullying.

- Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents.

This is an epidemic!  Why isn't it being stopped?  Research indicates that many bullying incidents are not reported to school officials, but I must question how many teachers turn a blind eye?  According to the  California Department of Education:

Today, bullying behaviors at school are recognized as dangerous and harmful acts that victimize the targeted student and bystanders. Bullying can no longer be dismissed as harmless teasing or as a normal yet undesirable behavior. Rather, bullying is a pattern of deliberate, negative, hurtful, aggressive acts that works to shift the balance of physical, emotional, or social power.

Behavior motivated by bias or hate is similar to bullying and is intended to cause emotional suffering, physical injury, or property damage through intimidation, harassment, bigoted slurs or epithets, force or threat of force, or vandalism. Hateful or biased behavior is motivated in part or in whole by hostility toward a person’s real or perceived race, nationality, religion, disability, gender, or sexual orientation. (Education Code sections 200, 220, 233, and 48900.3 describe policies and intent specific to hate-motivated violence. Penal Code sections 422.6, 422.7, 422.75, 422.8, 422.9, 422.95, and 628 define what constitutes hate-motivated crimes.)

The responsibility to establish the school environment lies with the entire school community. The environment evolves from the ideals, policies, practices, and administration of the school. Education Code Section 35294 et seq. requires each school to develop and implement a School Safety Plan as a part of its overall local education plan and to revisit the plan annually and amend it as needed. The first step in the planning process, as described in Safe Schools: A Planning Guide for Action, is to gather a planning committee that actively involves school administrators, teachers, students, and parents.

To avoid confusion or doubt about what constitutes bullying behavior, researcher Ken Rigby proposes a definition of bullying:

A desire to hurt + a hurtful action + a power imbalance + repetition (typically) + an unjust use of power + evident enjoyment by the aggressor + a sense of being oppressed on the part of the target.

Well, that sounds like a good start, right?  Bad news- that was released in 2003!

It is said that these anti-bullying programs have about a 15% success rate.  If this is the case, what now?   In 2004, The Canadian Public Health Association published its SafeSchool Study- and reports that we need to look at bullying as a public health issue.

Once thing is certain.  Adult intervention is one of the best defenses against bullying. This is where it gets fuzzy.  Research shows that teachers my be unaware.  They also often miss different types of bullying, especially social bullying.  Parents struggle with recognizing and acknowledging bullying as well. This becomes even trickier due to the fact that the child that is being bullied is sometimes embarrassed to tell anyone.  

But the reality here is that both parents and educators need to be on guard.  They need to  recognize the warning signs, intervene immediately when bullying occurs and send the message that bullying wrong and will not be tolerated.
Here are some guidelines furnished by the government website :
How to recognize bullying behavior:

Being Bullied
Comes home with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings
Reports losing items such as books, electronics, clothing, or jewelry
Has unexplained injuries
Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or feeling sick
Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
Has changes in eating habits
Hurts themselves
Are very hungry after school from not eating their lunch
Runs away from home
Loses interest in visiting or talking with friends
Is afraid of going to school or other activities with peers
Loses interest in school work or begins to do poorly in school
Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed when they come home
Talks about suicide
Feels helpless
Often feels like they are not good enough
Blames themselves for their problems
Suddenly has fewer friends
Avoids certain places
Acts differently than usual

Bullying Others
Becomes violent with others
Gets into physical or verbal  fights with others
Gets sent to the principal’s office or detention a lot
Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
Is quick to blame others
Will not accept responsibility for their actions
Has friends who bully others
Needs to win or be best at everything

Here are some actions you may want to consider:

Intervene immediately. Separate the students involved. Do not immediately ask about or discuss the reason for the bullying or try to sort out the facts.
Request more information.  Get the facts. Speak to students involved (participants and observers) in the incident separately and ask what happened.
Tell the students you are aware of their behavior. Talk to the students involved separately.
Make it a teachable experience.  Helping bystanders understand what has happened and why may be important for preventing future incidents.

Remember to:
Report the incident to the right person (the school might consider identifying an official contact, who may be the school administrator, or a member of the school safety committee).
Consider an appropriate intervention based on the severity and history of the incident and the students involved.   
Follow up with the students involved to ensure the bullying does not continue.
And then Step Two:

For the Student Who Was Bullied

Check in regularly with the student who was bullied
Determine whether the bullying still continues
Provide a supportive environment
Review the school rules and policies with the student to ensure they are aware of their rights and protection
Consider referring them for professional or other services as appropriate

For the Student Who Bullied Others

Identify the behavior
Review the school rules and policies with the student
Ask for positive change in future behavior
Consider referring them for professional or other services as appropriate
Consider appropriate graduated consequences
Encourage the student to channel their influence and behavior into positive leadership roles
Monitor and check in frequently

For Bystanders

Encourage them to talk with you
Review the school rules and policies with the students
Discuss with bystanders how they might intervene and/ or get help next time
Acknowledge students who took action to stop the bullying

For the Parents of the Students Involved

Describe the incident
Review the school rules and policies with the parents
Describe the intervention measures taken as appropriate
Develop a plan to follow up

One would pray that these steps put a stop to the bullying behavior.  But many times the bullying continues.  
What to Do When Bullying Continues or Gets Worse
If the bullying gets worse and you need additional help, consider the following if: 
Someone is at immediate risk of harm because of bullying
Call the police 911
Your child is feeling suicidal because of bullying
Contact the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Your child’s teacher is not keeping your child safe from being bullied
Contact local school administrator (principal or superintendent) 
Your school is not keeping your child safe from being bullied
Contact the State School Department
Your child is sick, stressed, not sleeping, or is having other problems because of bullying
Your child is bullied because of their race, ethnicity, or disability and local help is not working to solve the problem

If your child is LGBT-the organization, the Gay and Lesbian Independent School Teachers Network has a website with a lot of resources.

Bullying and pressures related to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression can feel overwhelming but there are many places that can help you get through this time. 

If you or someone you know is in crisis, get help now by calling the Trevor Project at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).

Crisis Prevention Resources

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.
The Trevor Lifeline is the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ youth. The Trevor Lifeline is a free and confidential service that offers hope and someone to talk to, 24/7. Each year, tens of thousands of calls are fielded from young people across the country. The Trevor Lifeline is accredited as an exemplary crisis intervention program by the American Association for Suicidology (AAS).

General LGBT Support Resources

It Gets Better Project is a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future. It's a place where our straight allies can visit and support their friends and family members. It's a place where people can share their stories, take the It Gets Better Project pledge, watch videos of love and support, and seek help through the Trevor Project and GLSEN.
National Center for Transgender Equality
NCTE is social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends through Support, to cope with an adverse society, Education, to enlighten an ill-informed public and Advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights.

Legal Assistance Resources

American Civil Liberties Union
The ACLU also works to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities.
Family Equality Council
Family Equality Council works to ensure equality for LGBT families by building community, changing hearts and minds, and advancing social justice for all families.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

So, please  keep your eyes open.  If you see any bullying behavior- be brave and do the right thing.  Your action could save a life.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Famous Sev Winters- review, interview & writing exercise!

As a fiction writer, I am always looking for ways to improve my craft.  This book by Sevastian Winters is a guided tour on how you can produce a good, self-published book from start to finish.  I have read several books on self editing, but none spoke to me like this one. 

Let me start by telling you that after reading Sev's advice on book covers in one of the first chapters, I had to put the Kindle down.  I immediately went to work on my book covers and changed them. 

I went back to the book read some more.  I learned about what he refers to as, "12 disciplines".   These "disciplines" are probably mentioned in many other books.  The difference is this:  The writer uses his own techniques in his book, therefore captivating his audience.  This is when I decided to go back to my first published book and make some major changes.   Now I could see that it really lacked in some areas.
Sev is an extremely creative writer and luckily he shares his secrets on how to come up with fascinating plots.   His own personality comes through and adds a dimension of humor that is refreshing.

I finished reading Sev's book and decided I needed to read it again. This is an excellent guide that I will refer back to- time and time again.

Interview with Sevastian Winters

I can say, without hesitation, that your book changed my life. Is this the typical reaction that you're getting?

Wow! That’s quite an endorsement. I am beside myself with joy that you found it helpful. If I had but one reader who felt that way on every book, I’d die a satisfied man.

As to whether that response is typical: Oh, God, no! LOL… I think most people are actually surprised I can put a decent string of thoughts together without eviscerating anyone too badly. I sort of have a well-deserved reputation for being a bit of a jerk. (No joke) I don’t mean to be, but I am passionate about what I do, and I tend to be as hard on myself as I am on others. When I read my stuff, all I see are the mistakes, and I make plenty of them!

I said in the book, that I am not an expert….just a guy that’s done my homework. This is really a “take what you can use and toss the rest” sort of book. I think if anything, what I bring to the table is a sort of no-nonsense, in-your-face version of truth that refuses to allow writers the courtesy of being patted on their back for “doing-their-best.” Sometimes in life, doing your best isn’t good enough, so you just have to do better. This book is about that. I’ve said many times that when it comes to writing, I’m all Simon Cowell, and not at all Paula Abdul. No one doubts that Simon knows his shit, but that analogy cuts both ways though. Simon never performed on a best-selling album.

Responses on this book have been few and far between. Of the 800 or so copies that are out right now (of the 800,000 or so I’d prefer), I’ve only had about 10 responses, thankfully mostly positive. (By the way, this book makes a lovely gift for friends. ;-))

You speak about character development and getting to know your characters, intimately.  You feel very strongly about being true to your characters.  You encourage writers to "just go there'.  I have taken that advice and I believe it added great value to my storyline.  Do you think there's a danger of people going too far?

There is, in film making, a metaphorical and magical little room where a sleazy, but brilliant little man known as a film editor works. His floor is littered with clips that may be excellent, but which don't belong in a movie. Why? They don't actually aid in the presentation of the story. It's not that the camera is out of focus, or that the microphone picked up garbled dialogue. To the contrary, a lot of what ends up on the cutting room floor is masterful work. It simply doesn't belong in the story. I think that's a good metaphor for my answer.

In my book, Wolf's Rise, for example, I wrote a controversial scene in which a young woman is gang-raped. I brought the camera into perfect focus and adjusted the microphone just right. The scene was truly evil, but in the process of deciding what to leave on the floor of my author cutting room, I lopped off the scene right before actual physical penetration, and then picked the story back up, in the next sentence, three hours later, wherein – with the same, perfectly adjusted camera and microphone – I wrote the aftermath of the things I didn't write.

There is no such thing as “too graphic,” any more than there is such a thing as a camera that is too focused. But there is such a thing as “inappropriate to the story.” I'm not talking about what’s inappropriate to the readers' delicate sensibilities. The reader doesn't actually matter to the process. I'm speaking of the story. Any scene or part of scene that doesn't serve a direct purpose in moving the story forward, should be cut. Most readers know the difference between gratuitous violence, and story-telling. One of the tough things about being a writer is being honest enough with one’s self to cut out really great “footage” when it doesn't move the story along. But again, you don't write it with an out-of-focus camera. I hope that answers your question.

When did all of this first come together for you? Was it an "A-HA!" moment?

It’s been a series of ongoing “A-HA” moments. Just the other day, I wrote a guest blog about just such an “A-HA” moment that I experienced only last week. I titled it “Nitpicking with Sevastian Winters: A ‘Sudden” Problem’” Click the link to read about it.

When does one stop practicing to play the guitar and start, instead, to play it? It's impossible for a professional, dedicated to excellence, to distinguish the two. So I stay absorbed in learning craft as well as applying it to the best of my ability. Craft is not something a writer learns once, but rather, for a lifetime...that is, if they want to be any good.

If you could take one piece of wisdom out of the book- what would that be?

Simple: “...the single most important component to excellent books is everything.” I know that and still, I often fail. If you were to ask Tiger woods to choose what's most important for a new golf pro to focus on –   the drive, the putt, a determination to win, or the ability to gain endorsements –   his answer would surely be “yes”. It's all important.

With Indie publishing paving the way for new authors to find recognition more quickly, comes a greater need for excellence than ever before. The gatekeepers used to be agents and publishers. Bypassing them doesn't change the rules though. We have a new gatekeeper... the reader, and if you think agents were tough on you, just remember: An agent never blasted you publicly for failing to deliver on your promises! You won't be the next Dean Koontz by selling books to your social media contacts. The only way to gain success is to sell books to the friends of your social media contacts, and for those friends to then tell their friends. They have no vested interest in doing so. So you'd better damn well be excellent enough to warrant it.

How do explain the best selling phenomenon with writers like John Locke and Amanda Hocking?

I've actually taken the time to read books by both of these authors. And I can tell you this: To lump them into the same category is to lump Gary Busey into the same class of actors as Al Pacino. John Locke doesn't give himself much credit, but he's an infinitely better writer than Amanda Hocking.

Now to actually answer your question: The biggest factor in their success was that they got there first. No one else thought to seize the opportunities the same way they did. The early bird got the worm.
Secondly, they wrote. Locke, for example, did virtually no marketing until he had five books to his credit. That's the thankless part, where you're all alone – without a bazillion social media contacts patting you on the back – investing time that you're unsure will be worth it, writing stories you love, in the hopes that others will do so too. They didn't finish a story and demand their glory. They finished their stories and started new ones.

Thirdly, they wrote candy. These aren't great books that will stand the test of time. They're just little pieces of candy. Granted, John writes caramel nougat and Amanda writes candy corns, but it's all candy, nonetheless. Who doesn't love candy?
My LupoSapien Project series is candy. The TroubleMaker is meaty. My short stories jump back and forth. And How I are Becomed a Very Much Gooder Author is a tour through my kitchen. Candy sells the best.

I know you have taken some heat for some of your more graphic and violent scenes. But, in the book you encourage people to be true to their characters. Any regrets? 

– Not a single one. If a reader experiences my story viscerally, even to the point of utter disgust, I've done my job as an author. Some people think it's an author's job to play God. It's not.

It’s an author's job to document the truth of the characters. We are cameras, microphones, and film editors. Ours is to capture fully, what the focal characters see, what they say and hear, and then to clip out those “bit of film” that don't serve to move the story forward.

When we get into graphic sections, we have to capture the emotion, but we capture it with a camera and a microphone...not by pussing out, or by glossing over it. A reader should rub his or her own thigh, because the focal character just took a bullet to his. Smart writers understand, as I did in the graphic scene for which I took some heat, that the emotion is what matters. The scene in Wolf's Rise, that everyone is whining about 
-- the gang-rape scene I mentioned before -- is followed by the immediate aftermath, but again, I never show the rape itself. That happens in the reader's mind. I didn’t want to tantalize perverts who dig rape fantasy, by devolving into deviant porn, but by the same token, I refused and will always refuse to puss out on showing the emotions that both precede and follow that horrific violation.

Do I have any regrets? Yes: I regret that we live in a world where such pain is so often inflicted on women, and where such a scene in a novel would invoke those sorts of painful memories (I'm only presuming, not outing anyone) and emotional upheaval that my scene invokes. But do I regret the writing? Not even for a nanosecond.

Sev, can I run something by you?  I would really appreciate your feedback. This is a scene that I'm working on for my next book:

I felt the hot sun shining on my face as I started to wake up,.  It was really bright.  I could hear birds singing- really clearly- like I was outside. My head was pounding and my mouth felt like sandpaper.  I finally opened my eyes and found myself on a chaise lounge, outside, in the courtyard.  

"What the hell?"

I looked around.  Sharon and Dante were a few feet away- on the ground- half naked; passed out.  Ryan was flat on his back on the bar and Kirk was slumped in a bar stool with his head on top of Ryan's crotch.  As I tried to piece together the events of last night, I stood up and felt a wave of nausea.  I started walking towards the bar for some water.  Just then I saw him and my heart starting pounding so hard I could hear it.  It was Spike and he was floating face down in the swimming pool. My chest started to hurt from the crazy pounding.


Sev's response:

Add more conflict. For example:

The sun burned against my cheeks and beckoned me to offer it my eyes -- so it could burn them too. 

I refused. 

A starling screeched nearby, as if choosing allegiances with the object of my disdain. Then my head joined in the fight, pounding me with familiar mantra. Wake up. Wake up Wake up.

Fuck off, Morning!

It was no use. I tried to swallow, but my tongue was sand. I opened my eyes and wiped the gravel from them. They stung. I squeezed them shut and took a breath and willed them open through the pain. I looked around me to find I'd slept in a chaise a courtyard. I struggled to remember how I'd gotten there...
"What the hell?"

(See where I'm going?)

In the next section "half-naked".... What does that mean? Which half? What's hanging out? Draw me a picture. I wanna' see. Is it sexy? No? Show me! 

You are so GOOD!!!  I can't believe you came up with so quickly.  That's incredible.

It's just a matter of slowing the world down and sorting out what matters. 
Everything is a conflict. For example, right now, you are becoming mindful of your chair, the pressure against your ass…because I just told you to. Now, you're about to shift in your seat, but don't know it, because until this moment, you haven't given much thought  to how sweaty your bum crack is...and you're gonna' shift to convince yourself that you've relieved it of a problem you didn't even know you had 10 seconds ago. 

(Okay- There was some discomfort- but no sweat ; )

How's that sweaty spot under your ring treating you? Better twist it. ;-)

How did you know??

We are unaware of the conflict that constantly surrounds us. As authors it is our job to point it out. There is a yin to every yang. We love the cushy feel of sinking into our recliner, but how does the cushion feel about that? How about the floor below?

So you're saying that in this short period of time you are able to slow your mind and focus on the story?  Have you always used this technique for writing?  Is it a form of meditation?

Nah... Just think it through and find the conflict. No... I didn't always do it that way. It's just a matter of learning craft. There are many who do it far better than me. 

You're very modest. But you are incredibly talented.  I want to thank you very much for this interview and also for demonstrating some of your techniques.  I know that you're going to help a lot of writers.

To buy the book click here.  To follow Sev on Twitter click here.
To visit Sev at this website click here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness BLITZ

Today, many writers are participating in a special event, Random Acts of Kindness BLITZ, created by Becca and Angela at the Bookshelf Muse.  They are celebrating the release of their book The Emotion Thesaurus,

We are all focusing on writers who make a difference in the writing community--either on a small and personal scale (a supportive critique partner, a writing mentor), or on a larger scale.

The online writing community is very tight-knit and supportive. Most of us have someone in this community who we find especially inspiring and helpful.

Many writing friends are supportive on a daily basis. There are the writers that are always there for me on Twitter, retweeting my links. There are some that are just kind people. They are the generous souls that “took me under their wings” and helped me out, sharing valuable guidance, when I was new to this world. That would be people like Wren Meyers  ,  R.W.W. Greene & Micheal Rivers. These are just a few of the people that I hold in high esteem. There are more…you know who you are : )

Some writers make it a priority to help their fellow authors. People like Melissa Foster at the World Literary Café. She is always willing share her wisdom, steering me in the right direction. I am deeply appreciative, since there is so much to learn in this writing world.

Some writers become real friends. The kind that you can reach out to when you’re crying your eyes out because you just got your first one star review. They are the kind of friends that inspire you and gently give valuable writing advice. I have met some wonderful people like that, but there is one person who is so special, I have to give her the spotlight here. Allow me to pay homage to Diane Rapp
We met when I read her first book, Murder Caribbean-Style   and fell in love with her musical style of writing. It brought back memories of my favorite mystery books, like the Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew Series. However, it was much more refined and sophisticated, with the story unfolding on a luxurious cruise ship in the Caribbean.

 I did a review and interview and we became friends. She has written another book in the series, which I also loved. This one, ‘Murder on a Ghost Ship’ involves an angry ghost & a mystery!

Now Diane is on to a new science fiction series, Heirs to the Throne’. The first book, ‘Howl of the Wolf’ is captivating story, taking place in the twenty fifth century on the planet Drako. The picturesque planet has two moons, a bright and a dark, the latter providing night blooming flowers that perfume the air. Did I mention the telepathic wolves that live with a primitive society of colorful groups that include a royal kingdom, peasants, and desert dwellers, to name a few? She has published the second book in the series, ‘The Havenshire Resistance’ and I cannot wait to start reading it.

Therefore, I say, “Thank you, Diane. You a very special person and I cherish your friendship.”

Dianes Website
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Friday, May 4, 2012

'Howl of the Wolf' Casting & Mind-Blowing Writing Exercise

I’m not usually a fan of science fiction, but when Diane Rapp starting writing in this genre, I had to try it.  Diane Rapp has a magical style of writing that immerses the reader deeply into the story. 

This tale takes place in the twenty fifth century on the planet Drako.  It’s a picturesque planet two moons, a bright and a dark, the latter providing night blooming flowers that perfume the air.

A society of telepathic wolves occupied the planet long before the humans arrived. They pass down wisdom from generation to generation. The peaceful integration lasted for lifetimes, with the highly intelligent wolves quietly observing the unique society. The primitive society is made up of colorful groups that include a royal kingdom, peasants and desert dwellers, to name a few. It’s an outer space version of the wild west.  

Things could change with the arrival of a handful of strangers.  They gave up immortality.  Will they regret that decision? The strangers represent all that the existing society hates.

Will they find allies in the wolves?

Can anyone stop the evil that is so powerful it can control minds & kill at will?

Interview with Diane Rapp

K- Thanks so much for joining us here to talk about one of your new books, ‘Howl of the Wolf.’ I fell in love with your writing, in the ‘High Seas Mystery Series’, so I was delighted to read the first book in your Heirs to the Throne series. It was great! Do you prefer the science fiction genre?

 D- I love reading science fiction and fell in love with Anne McCafferey’s ‘Dragon Riders of Pern’ series. I read every one of her books and moved on to read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s ‘Darkover’ novels. When these authors didn’t write fast enough, I imagined my own world. I wrote a crazy rough draft and friends who read the story nagged me to get it published. Last year I dragged out my old files and started rewriting until my eyes crossed.

K-Your writing is so vivid, I always feel like you take me on a journey, with every book. Your descriptions of the wolves felt incredibly realistic. I heard that someone very special inspired you.

D-My German Shepherd Dog, Kriegen, was the inspiration for the telepathic wolves. He had the most beautiful golden-brown eyes and stared as if he sent me messages I couldn’t understand. He’d stare and shift his gaze to the cookie jar (where we kept Milk Bones), and then he’d shift the stare back to me. His stupid human finally got the message. We lost him over a year ago, so I visit him often on Drako.

K- I’m sorry for your loss. I know how painful it is to lose your companion. This is a wonderful tribute to Kriegen.

Back to your descriptions, the futuristic technology that offered immortality was brilliant & quite believable. How do you research for something like that?

D-I watch the Discovery Channel and PBS series Nova to learn about scientific breakthroughs, and then I start to wonder. Scientists cloned Dolly the sheep and surgeons regularly perform heart transplants. I wondered if it wouldn’t be easier to ‘Transfer’ a patient’s mind into his own clone. The expense would be so high that patients might incur lifetime debt to pay for on procedure after another. Would scientists develop an ‘Institute’ to control the business, and lose control over their invention? The Institute could literally control life and death for everyone on the planet and beyond. These kind of “what ifs” float around in my mind until I write them down—scary.

K- A quick peek into the creative mind of Diane Rapp…very interesting.

The books beg to ask some deep questions. Would you give up your freedom for immortality? (Not me!) Do intelligent animals try to communicate with humans? (Yes!)

D-I believe human nature strives for freedom, and I know animals communicate. I wish we could understand them. The other question I develop is: 'What happens to human skills after centuries of mind Transfer.'   Do our talents evolve into the exceptional or very evil?’ 
I reveal the “back story” of the wolves during the series. Are they natives of Drako or did someone send them to the safety of a habitable planet on the fringe of space?

K-It sounds like I need to start reading the next book. Exciting!
Now let’s talk about the burning, provocative question. Casting! The first actor I thought of for Jarrack was Jack Black.

 D-When I first imagined the character of Jarrack, I visualized Gene Simmons. He was gloriously evil in the movie ‘Runaway,’ and it’s too bad he doesn’t have a young clone for the movie. Billy Zane is another actor who could play Jarrack. Donovan started out as a Tom Selleck kind of guy, but lately I see Nathan Fillian in the role. Krystal was a striking beauty—like Charlize Theron or Julianne Hough with mental powers and skills. Chella is like Jada Pinkett Smith or Tyra Banks, a statuesque black woman who looks severe until she smiles. Trenton has always been Crocodile Dundee in space with a big knife and flashy grin. I identify with Maggie, because I love to eat and can’t keep the weight off. I’d love a Transfer now and then to get skinny.  

K- Yes, I can see your choices working well. Billy Zane plays a villain so well. How we loved to hate him in Titanic! I like Jullianne Hough as Krystal and Tyra Banks would make a great Chella. 

Oh, yes, transfers would be the best diet breakthrough ever!

If you would like, I’d love to do the writing exercise. I give you a scene and then you re-write it in your own captivating style.  Are you game?

D—I’m always game.

K- Okay, then here it is: 

 Anil sat quietly in the dark room, staring down into the amber liquid in the glass he held in his hand. He quickly swallowed the whiskey, in one gulp. Then he screamed out filthy obscenities, while he hurled the glass to the floor. He grimaced as a large glass shard bounced up and lodged in his bare ankle. He reached down and grabbed the glass shard, and pushed it deeply in to his skin, and then pulled the shard through his leg, all the way up to his knee. 

He screamed out in pain and then grabbed the glass shard and threw it back on the floor. He didn't notice the blood gushing down his leg and pooling on the floor. He felt a little better now. He had discovered that cutting himself seemed to calm him down. Sometimes he became so irate and agitated it took more than just a few cuts. It was starting to escalate. Like a drug, he needed more and more. 

The month before he was not able to soothe himself until he had sliced off his pinky finger

D-You didn’t give me an easy one but here goes:

Anger raged through Anil’s chest like a monster threatening to consume his sanity.  He remembered similar monsters from childhood.  He needed something to help calm down, maybe a drink.  The golden whiskey swirled in a glass, beckoning him to drown his sorrows in the amber liquid.  He never drank.  The liquor smelled sharp, antiseptic, but friends claimed it soothed the soul.

The dark room closed in on him, crushing his brain.  He gulped the whiskey all at once and felt it burn down his throat to an aching belly.  It stole his breath but the rage grew hotter.  Smashing the glass down onto a tiled floor, he cursed obscenities until a shard of glass bounced back and pierced his ankle.  He stared at the glass fragment and blood oozing from the wound.  He felt calmer.  With trembling fingers he gripped the jagged shard and pulled it slowly up his leg.  It formed a crooked line from his ankle to his knee.  Pain shot up the leg like a scorpion racing through his blood stream.

Tossing the shard back onto the floor, he failed to notice blood seep down his leg and pool like red syrup on the floor.  Calm rushed over his body and bubbles tingled in his brain like fizz in champagne.  It worked the same way he remembered as a boy.  He’d cut slices along his arm until he felt a buzz, but he could no longer stop with a few cuts.  The pain was a drug and he was an addict. Last month the agitation escalated until he sliced off a pinky finger—now he realized he could never stop.

K- Diane-you’ve outdone yourself! I felt my hair stand on end.

What can we expect to see next, Diane?

D-The Havenshire Resistance (book 2) follows Krystal and her three daughters as they struggle to rescue Donovan from Jarrack.  Krystal organizes an underground resistance of old soldiers, peasants, and Samurai, while she waits for her daughters to mature.  Jarrack holds Donovan captive in stasis and collects a harem of kidnapped women in Havenshire castle.  Desert riders have orders to capture Krystal’s daughters when they reach the breeding age of sixteen. 

Readers will meet the talented sisters: Felesia can link minds with her animal friends.  She has a giant panther, a hawk, and a mongoose, and she raises a dragon chick named Flash.  Lauryn is a powerful healer and empath raised in a convent.  Tessa, raised by Trenton and Maggie in their trapper’s retreat, doesn’t know she’s a telepath until she meets a wolf named Amber.  The sisters come together and develop their special skills, but they must convince the wolves’ Council of Elders to help humans save Havenshire.

In Dragon Defense (book 3) new characters are added to the mix with more problems to solve.  The Institute tracks the Zebulon crew to Drako, radiation sickness is spreading from an aging nuclear reactor, and Felesia gets a flock of dragons to rescue kidnapped children. Have you ever dreamed of flying on a dragon?  The dragons of Drako communicate with swirling colors in translucent wings.  Sons and daughters of Drako race the clock to learn banned technology and fly dragons in a defense against an Institute attack.   Drako means dragon and they might be the key to the planet’s survival.

K- They sound like great books- fast paced, action packed and full of intriguing characters! I can’t wait to get started on the rest. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us.

You can find Diane’s books here        

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Find Diane’s website here