First Chapter Review: The Stolen Herd by K. Madill (Win $25 Amazon GC)

1st Chapter Review TC&TBC

K. Madill is touring with Pump Up Your Book this month with her young adult fantasy novel, The Stolen Herd. Read to the end to see how you can enter for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

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BLURB: Mandamus is only a foal when his herd is captured by the terrible Rakhana Army. Rescued and raised in secrecy, he knows nothing of his heritage until a dreadful incident in the woods brings him to the attention of the Forest council – and everyone else. Sent away for his own protection, he is determined to seek help on behalf of the many animals who have gone missing from the forest, including his own family.

With the help of a troubled man and a stout-hearted bat, can Mandamus save his fellow creatures before it’s too late?

COVER: I’m not usually a fan of dark covers, but this one is stunning. The black of the horse, the white glint of his eyes, and the purples and pinks of the sky make for a fabulous piece of art that attracts readers.

FIRST CHAPTER: As the Rakhana Army closes in on the herd, Gideon takes their foal and dashes him to Daleth and Mareva to raise in secrecy.

KEEP READING: Filled with flowing descriptions and a multitude of characters, this opening chapter sets the scene for what will become of Mandamus after his herd is captured by the Rakhana Army. A butterfly, a bat, a herd of horses, a ruthless human army, and a special foal with white eyes who may be the stuff of legends make for an interesting cast. The strength of the world building is easy to see early on.  The hint of magic and the elegant writing in this first chapter definitely encourage me to follow along with the rest of Mandamus’ story.

 

Title:  The Stolen Herd

Author: K. Madill

Genre: Young adult fantasy

Paperback: 181 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace (February 20, 2014)

ISBN-10: 1482640023

ISBN-13: 978-1482640021

Kindle:B00GBQ9V8O

Purchase at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00GBQ9V8O

 

I received a copy of this book from the author. I have been paid a fee to promote this book with a book tour through Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

A chronic “head in the cloudser” K. Madill lives in a rickety house on a well treed street in British Columbia, Canada.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend in the woods she can be found trying to stay upright on her roller skates or mediating the affairs of her various furred and feathered friends that rule the aforementioned rickety house. 

K. Madill’s website: kmadill.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraiMadill1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20643483-the-stolen-herd

 

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:

    • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
    • Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
    • Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
    • Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.
    • Prize will be sent via email from the author’s representative.
    • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Book of Dreams by Sylvie Michaud

Book of Dreams coverAn adorable bedtime story awaits you and your child in Book of Dreams, part of the Ringtail Family series by Sylvie Michaud.

Baby Raccoon asks his mama and papa why every cloud is a different shape. Responding that clouds are pictures in the sky to help us dream, Mama and Papa share with Baby the different things they dream about when they see certain types of clouds. This lulls Baby right to sleep and into dreamland.

Short, sweet, and charming are all words to describe this lovely picture book. Slowly flowing prose and pastel colored illustrations help your little one settle down for the night and fill her head with beautiful visions for a peaceful night. I love the way Michaud’s descriptions paint pictures for little ones that are complemented by the lovely artwork. Probably more description than usually found in a picture book, but it works well here. This is definitely a book I’ll be saving for my future grandchildren.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Crafty Canuck Inc. (March 28, 2012)
Language: English ISBN-10: 0978295587
ISBN-13: 978-0978295585

File Size: 3020 KB
Print Length: 21 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Crafty Canuck Inc. (March 13, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00BTPBX0Q
Purchase at:
Amazon soft cover: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Dreams-The-Ringtail-Family/dp/0978295587

Amazon digital: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Dreams-The-Ringtail-Family-ebook/dp/B00BTPBX0Q

B&N soft cover: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/book-of-dreams-the-ringtail-family-sylvie-michaud/1110202903

 

I purchased a copy of this book for my Kindle. The publisher paid me to promote this book with a virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book. That fee did not include a review. This review contains my honest opinions, which have not been compensated in any way. Book of Dreams banner

Interview with K. Madill, Author of The Stolen Herd (Giveaway)

Karai MadillKarai Madill is a Canadian writer who lives in a wooden house not far from swiftly flowing river. Every now and then a bear comes along and steals her garbage.  When she’s not hanging out with her best equine friend, she can be found roller skating around in circles or planting butterfly friendly gardens. The Stolen Herd is her first novel.

For more K. Madill, visit her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Madill/161159890706088 or blog: http://kmadill.com/

Thank you for joining us today, Karai. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I am a true Canadian and it’s true what they say about us. We’re overly polite. We apologize for apologizing. I have to be near my creature friends as much as possible. I have to visit a forest as least once a week. I will always ditch everyone and everything to write.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug? 

I think it’s more the storytelling bug.  My mother is an avid reader and our house had a library in the den, full of fantasy novels. I wrote my first story when I was six years old, according to her, about a unicorn named Me. I don’t remember that one.  I do recall penning a tale that ended up in the school paper though. That one starred a miniature lion that led me to a room full of candy! Ha – animals and mythical creatures. There’s a pattern here, I think.

Why did you decide to write stories for the YA market?

You know…I don’t think I actually consciously decided.  I just began the Mandamus and Luco series and it just sort of ended up in that category.

What is your favorite part of writing for this group? What is the greatest challenge?

I think my favorite part is having animals as characters. I adore Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and Charlotte’s Web. I graduated to Animal Farm in my later years, and realized that while the first two were magical in their story telling, the way Orwell used animal characters to express a political message was equally as brilliant. For my books, I get to write scenes with people having conversations and arguments with animals. It’s a blast! I’m also a firm believer that stories need mythical creatures. With an eclectic cast of characters like that you can create all different kinds of scenarios. I think the biggest difficulty is keeping it short and sweet to hold a younger reader’s attention. I idolize the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. I enjoy page after page of descriptive narrative. I also like to write them, much to the chagrin of my editor. She cut a lot out of the original manuscript for this very reason.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

The Stolen Herd is about a foal who is orphaned when his herd is captured by an army. He is found and raised by a mare and her rather ferocious sister. When he’s a bit older, he finds himself in deep trouble, so deep he is sent into temporary exile from his herd. He goes on an adventure and meets all sorts of beings from terrible imps to forgetful naiads.

What inspired you to write it?Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00068]

I saw a news article about a school that was busted up by the Taliban, just wiped out. It terrified me.  As I sat there, feeling immeasurably sad, this black horse with glowing, white eyes just popped into my head. He looked so worried. For the rest of the day, his story came in a flood of ideas. I wrote them down when I got home that evening.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

www.amazon.ca/Stolen-Herd-Mandamus-Luco-Book-ebook/dp/BOOGBQ9V80

What is up next for you?

The second book in the series. The planning is almost finished. Some of the writing has already begun. The storyboard is full and the creativity is overflowing. I love being able to work on new material. The Stolen Herd took six years. Towards the end I felt stagnated with the whole thing and I was trying to meet a deadline so I was doing re-writes to the edited version for up to 10 hours a day. I almost began to hate it.

Do you have anything else to add?

I do! I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read The Stolen Herd and messaged me or emailed me. Your encouragement is truly appreciated.  If you liked this one, you’re going to love the 2nd book!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Karai. We wish you much success.

Thank you for having me.

 

Pump Up Your Book and K. Madill are teaming up to give away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms and conditions:

      • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older.
      • Raffle runs from 12:00 AM EST on June 2 through 12:00 AM EST on June 28, 2014.
      • Winner will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter.
      • Winner will be notified by email and has 72 hours to claim the prize before a new winner is selected.
      • Prize will be sent via email from the author’s representative.
      • VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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First Chapter Review: Guardians Inc.: The Cypher by Julian Rosado-Machain

TC&TBC

 

 

Julian Rosado-Machain is on tour with Pump Up Your Book promoting the young adult fantasy adventure novel, Guardians Inc.: The Cypher. I received the first chapter only for review.

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BLURB: GUARDIANS INC.: THE CYPHER is two stories in one. A glimpse into a multinational company that is in reality the oldest of secret societies, one that spans close to seven thousand years of existence, weaving in and out of history, guiding and protecting humanity from creatures and forces that most of us believe are only mythology and fairy tales.

The other is the story of Thomas Byrne, a young man thrust into secrets he shouldn’t be aware of and dangers he shouldn’t face but, that he ultimately will, for he is a Cypher. The only one who can steer humanity’s future.

The ultimate conspiracy theory is that Magic is real. Kept in check by technology but, every five hundred years the balance can shift and, if it does, technology will fail and those creatures we’ve driven into myth will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future, and to unlock the future they need a Cypher.

This is the first book of the Guardians Inc Series.

COVER: The fantasy genre lends itself to fabulous covers and this is no exception. What the reader can assume is the main character is seen facing off against dreadful creatures as a result of the shifting balance mentioned in the blurb. I love this design and color scheme.

FIRST CHAPTER: Thomas is still the new kid at school when he gets into a fight with the football team’s linebacker and finds himself in the office of the dreaded Vice Principal Killjoy.

KEEP READING: Definitely. Rosado-Machain does a fine job of dropping the reader right into the action with Thomas sitting outside the vice principal’s office while his grandfather talks with the vice principal about his fight with Roger Hill, the football team’s linebacker. The author sprinkles in the backstory and ends the first chapter on a note that entices the reader to continue. Even though there is no hint of what is to come for Thomas, the reader is left with a few questions that make her want to find out more of Thomas’s story.

Title: Guardians Inc.: The Cypher

Author: Julian Rosado-Machain

Publisher: Julian Rosado-Machain

Pages: 239

Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

Format: Paperback, KindleJulian Rosado-Machain

Julian Rosado-Machain has enjoyed pizza in three continents, worked in graphic design, armored vehicles, built computers, handcrafted alebrijes and swears that he has seen at least one ghost.

He lives in San Diego, California. And enjoys the sun with his wife, three children and cat.

His latest book is the YA fantasy adventure, Guardians Inc.: The Cypher.

For More Information

This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

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Interview with D.S. McKnight, Author of Of Dreams and Shadow

 

D.S. McKnightD.S. McKnight has enjoyed a varied career—from working as a radio DJ on a small AM station to serving as president and co-owner of a marina, until Hurricane Ophelia took aim at the Carolina coast.  Currently, she works at an insurance agency as well as hosting her blog – Novel Notions.  

 

It is her love of the North Carolina coast that fueled her desire to write.  Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not (book 1) is her first novel.  

 

You can visit the author’s website at: http://www.dsmcknight.com

 

When did you begin writing?

I have been writing since I was a teenager – poems, lyrics to songs, and short stories –  words that were only seen by me.  When I reached my forties, I realized I had neglected myself.  My days were spent working, getting my children to and from practices and games, helping with homework, etc.  I found that I needed something for me.  I started taking a writing class and never looked back.

What is the book about?

Of Dreams and Shadow is a story about choices – not only the choices we make but those that are made by others and the consequences that follow.  The main character is Jenna Barton.  She’s had to deal with moving to a new town, transferring to a new school, leaving old friends and trying to make new ones.   It doesn’t help that her new neighbor, Chase Williams, is particularly unwelcoming.   Unfortunately, for Jenna these are the least of her problems.  She has unwittingly stepped into the middle of a mystery involving a missing child.  The predator is still on the loose and Jenna has become his new obsession.  Sarah Jones was just four years old when she disappeared and Chase was the only witness.  No one believed the ramblings of a scared little boy — especially when resides in her backyard — but how can he tell her?  She wouldn’t believe him anyway.

What inspired you to write it?Of Dreams and Shadow 7

My writing instructor gave us an assignment.  We had to write a “what if” scenario.  I chose to write about an incident from my childhood.  When I was three years old, my mother found me crying – afraid of my shadow.  I asked myself What if my shadow had been trying to get me… And the story was born.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

I don’t know that I have a favorite character but I absolutely loved writing Silas.  He had no moral code so I was free to explore his dark side.  Who would have thought that writing a murder scene could have been so much fun? 

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not is available on Amazon.

What is up next for you?

I am finishing my first New Adult Novella.  The Reasons Why will be available by summer 2014.  I am also working on the sequel to Of Dreams and Shadow.

Title: Of Dreams and Shadow
Author: D.S. McKnight
Publisher: Stone Bay Press
Pages: 286
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

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Interview with Genevieve Crownson, Author of The Soul of the Son

Genevieve Crownson

Genevieve Crownson graduated from the College of Charleston with a Bachelors of Science degree. A love of writing led her to pen her debut novel, The Soul of the Sun. This is book one in her highly anticipated trilogy, The Argos Dynasty. She currently lives in beautiful Charleston, SC with her family and beloved four-legged friends.

You can find her at www.genevievecrownson.com.

Where did you grow up?

My family must have had the gypsy gene, because we moved around a great deal when I was growing up. I was born in Maryland, but have also lived in Massachusetts and several different places in Vermont. Since I spent the majority of my time in Vermont I feel that was my childhood home.

When did you begin writing?

I began to write stories in first grade after I had my first writing assignment. I have been hooked ever since. In college I began to write full length novels and fell in love with the process.

 Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I write whenever I can. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. Inspiration can come anywhere, anytime. I have also learned to be flexible because I have a full time job. I’ve discovered how to make the most of my spare moments.

What is this book about?

Since the days of Ancient Greece the Argos Dynasty has kept a secret.  A great healer and time traveler will be born of their blood. Their only clue to the healer’s identity is an ancient amulet as old as time itself. In a cat and mouse game fraught with peril, evil stalks them, watching and waiting tosee who has the ultimatepower. For only she who is called The Soul of the Sun can save the earth. If The Watcher discovers her identity first the planet could be destroyed. 

What inspired you to write it?

I have always been inspired to write. I have this inner desire to go into worlds where anything is possible. This particular story, The Soul of the Sun, came to me in a dream as all of my novel ideas do. This dream was so real; I knew I had to write it. It has an important message of love, strength and power that I believe should be shared with the world. 

Who is your favorite character from the book?The Soul of the Sun

I really love all of my characters, but if I had to pick a favorite it would definitely be Margaret. She holds a special place in my heart because she has pieces of my Grandmother in her. My Grandmother has Margaret’s strength, and that ability to see the good in everyone. She is the person I admire most in this world. Oh, and Margaret always wears red lipstick. That’s totally my Grandma.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

It was definitely bumpy! Publishing a book requires you to wear many hats. You need to learn how to format your books, make sure you have an amazing cover and all those little things you don’t think about when you’re writing your novel. When you finish your book it’s just the beginning. I have learned so much and every bump in the road has been worth it. I am now a published author, which is a dream come true for me.

If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?

I don’t think so. Everything I have done up to this point has led me to where I am today. Dive in and take the plunge you won’t regret it. We only have this moment. Keep moving forward, and do what you can to make your dreams come true.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

My book The Soul of the Sun is available in both paperback and e-book on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GVAAABC/

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

I was given a fabulous piece of advice when I first started looking into promoting my work. First, invest in an amazing cover. The cover is what will draw people in. It will get them to pick up your book and take a second look. You need a cover that says I am a professional and I take this seriously. Second, even before you start to promote your book make sure you get it edited. That is so important. Make sure your book is the best it can be and the success will follow.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. If you dream of being a writer do everything you can to make it happen. You can share your stories with the world. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Surround yourself with people who believe in your dreams and love you. Live your life fearlessly. I strive to do this every day.

What is up next for you?

I am working on book two and three of the Argos Dynasty, the follow up to The Soul of the Sun. I think that you will enjoy where the story goes next. Stay tuned for The Power of Alchemy coming soon. I will post on my website as soon as I have dates for the release. You can find me at www.genevievecrownson.com 

Is there anything you would like to add?

I just want to thank all my readers that have reached out to me and told me how much they love my book. I love all of you.

Title: The Soul of the Sun
Genre: Paranormal/Young Adult
Author: Genevieve Crownson
Publisher: Genevieve Crownson
Pages: 348
Format: Paperback; Kindle

Social media: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Genevieve-Crownson/399531700175632

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GCrownson

 Instagram: http://instagram.com/gcrownson

 

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The Do’s and Don’ts by Hayley Rose

Book 29

Zack and Chloe take kids on a zany ride through the “Do’s and Don’ts” showing how not be a “Manner Monster.”

Kids will enjoy learning about kindness and good manners in this fun new book by award-winning author Hayley Rose. From waiting until you’ve swallowed a bite before speaking to keeping your napkin on your lap, from saying excuse me to knocking before entering a room, and from remembering to say “thank you” to asking permission to use another person’s belongings and more, The Do’s and Don’ts will help teach your children the best way to treat others. Youngsters will enjoy the crazy antics of the Manner Monster, while parents will appreciate the good manners and everyday kindnesses shared throughout the book’s 38 pages. The vibrant artwork by Mark Sean Wilson encourages readers to keep turning the pages.

Every home with kids should own a copy of The Do’s and Don’ts. Highly recommended.

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Hardcover: 38 pages
Publisher: Inkwell Productions (August 24, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939625386
ISBN-13: 978-1939625380

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

 

Hayley-RoseI received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tours. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

Multi-award-winning author Hayley Rose released her first children’s book, Fifo When I Grow Up, about a six-year-old bear starting school in 2002, followed by the wildly popular geography book and #1 best-seller, Fifo 50 States, published in 2010. In 2012, Hayley was selected as one of “The Top 50 Writers You Should Be Reading” by AuthorsShow.com. In 2013, she branched out with a new series featuring a new set of characters, Zach and Chloe the Louis the manner monster. Her new book, The Do’s and Don’ts, was released in September 2013 and has already garnered four literary awards, including the Readers’ Favorite, USA Best Books and the prestigious Mom’s Choice Awards, bringing her career total to twenty-one. The follow up book in the new series, Today I Feel Emotion, will be released in the spring of 2014.

Hayley Lives in Scottsdale, AZ, with her dog Blanche.

Visit her website at www.booksbyhayleyrose.com.

Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads 

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The Maisy Files: Maisy and the Missing Mice by Elizabeth Woodrum

mice

Young mystery lovers will want to read this imaginative and funny story about a fourth grader with a special skill for solving mysteries.

Maisy and the Missing Mice by Elizabeth Woodrum is the first book in The Maisy Files series. It features Maisy, a fourth grader who loves black and white mystery movies, cherry lollipops, and her dog, Reesie. She also has a knack for solving mysteries. In Maisy and the Missing Mice, Maisy must follow the clues to discover who stole the school’s mascots and the stash of cherry lollipops she keeps in her locker.

This is the best book. I loved everything about it: the way Maisy was introduced, how the case unfolded, the way Maisy is admired by her peers and the staff of the school for her mystery-solving skills, and how everything turns gray when she’s working a case and then returns to normal colors once she’s solved the mystery. The ending of the book also hints at what the next book in this series will be about, similar to how Sam from the show Quantum Leap would leap into the next time period as soon as he fixed what was wrong; giving viewers a glimpse at what would come next.

Woodrum shows off her skills as an educator by being in tune with what kids will enjoy. With Maisy and the Missing Mice she has created an easy and fun to read story for your young mystery lover. Though the detective is a girl, there are several male characters whose actions will capture the attention of boys, and they’ll delight in figuring out the mystery right along with Maisy.

Highly recommended!

Series: The Maisy Files
Paperback: 74 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (October 14, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1492922056
ISBN-13: 978-1492922056

BUY THE BOOK AT AMAZONElizabeth Woodrum

Discuss this book at the PUYB Virtual Book Club on Goodreads by clicking HERE.

Elizabeth Woodrum is a full time elementary teacher. Originally from Indiana, Elizabeth currently resides near Dayton, Ohio with her two pets: a cat named Butterscotch and a dog named Reese Cup. 

You can view more about Elizabeth Woodrum at www.elizabethwoodrum.com

 

I received a copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tours. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

 

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Interview with Freddie Owens, Author of Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story

A poet and fiction writer, my work has been published in Poet Lore, Crystal Clear and Cloudy, and Flying Colors Anthology. I am a past attendee of Pikes Peak Writer’s Conferences and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and a member of Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Colorado. In addition, I am/was a licensed professional counselor and psychotherapist, who for many years counseled perpetrators of domestic violence and sex offenders, and provided psychotherapy for individuals, groups and families. I hold a master’s degree in contemplative psychotherapy from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.

I was born in Kentucky but soon after my parents moved to Detroit. Detroit was where I grew up. As a kid I visited relatives in Kentucky, once for a six-week period, which included a stay with my grandparents. In the novel’s acknowledgements I did assert the usual disclaimers having to do with the fact that Then Like The Blind Man was and is a work of fiction, i.e., a made up story whose characters and situations are fictional in nature (and used fictionally) no matter how reminiscent of characters and situations in real life. That’s a matter for legal departments, however, and has little to do with subterranean processes giving kaleidoscopic-like rise to hints and semblances from memory’s storehouse, some of which I selected and disguised for fiction. That is to say, yes, certain aspects of my history did manifest knowingly at times, at times spontaneously and distantly, as ghostly north-south structures, as composite personae, as moles and stains and tears and glistening rain and dark bottles of beer, rooms of cigarette smoke, hay lofts and pigs. Here’s a quote from the acknowledgements that may serve to illustrate this point.

“Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a “city slicker” from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.”

I read the usual assigned stuff growing up, short stories by Poe, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Scarlet Letter, The Cherry Orchard, Hedda Gabler, a little of Hemingway, etc. I also read a lot of Super Hero comic books (also Archie and Dennis the Menace) and Mad Magazine was a favorite too. I was also in love with my beautiful third grade teacher and to impress her pretended to read Gulliver’s Travels for which I received many delicious hugs.

It wasn’t until much later that I read Huckleberry Finn. I did read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I read Bastard Out of Carolina and The Secret Life of Bees. I saw the stage play of Hamlet and read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle too. However, thematic similarities to these works occurred to me only after I was already well into the writing of Then Like The Blind Man. Cormac McCarthy, Pete Dexter, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Conner and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few, are among my literary heroes and heroines. Tone and style of these writers have influenced me in ways I’d be hard pressed to name, though I think the discerning reader might feel such influences as I make one word follow another and attempt to “stab the heart with…force” (a la Isaac Babel) by placing my periods (hopefully, sometimes desperately) ‘… just at the right place’.

Visit Freddie’s website at www.FreddieOwens.com.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born in Kentucky but grew up around Detroit. I would sometimes spend a week or two, once I spent six weeks, in Kentucky, staying with cousins or with my grandparents. And yes, it was an entirely different world for me, providing some of the best and worst times of my growing up years. I had a great time on a dairy farm with several of my cousins, milking cows, hoeing tobacco, running over the hills and up and down a creek that surrounded the big farm. I remember too, periods of abject boredom, sitting around my grandparents’ place with nothing to do but wander about the red clay yard or kill flies on my grandmother’s screened-in back porch.

When did you begin writing?

When it dawned on me back in the early 90s that as a psychotherapist I was going nowhere, I began to think about writing seriously. I had been away from it for quite some time – though I had always found time to write poems. I realized I wasn’t getting any younger and that if I wanted to explore this thing that had bothered me for so long – this thing called writing – I had best get to it. I started experimenting with stream of consciousness and automatic writing – and by keeping a journal – and by developing the discipline of being on the spot each day before the page, whether blank or not. I did that until one day my debut, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story began to insert and insinuate itself into my words.

I should add that originally I started writing way back around 1970, I believe – mostly because I didn’t know what else to do with myself. My first writing desk consisted of an old door supported with cinder blocks I set up in a clothes closet. I used an old Smith Corona typewriter and made carbon copies of the poems I wrote on onionskin paper.

What is this book about?

Well, Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story may be described as a sort of backwater Hamlet or a rural-American version of Hamlet, you know, where the stepfather is suspected of murdering the father by the father’s surviving son, though in this book intriguingly different choices are made by the story’s protagonist, Orbie Ray, the feisty nine-year-old with racist attitudes and prejudices ready made for propelling a family drama. It’s set in the segregated South of the 1950s and told from the boy’s point of view in an easy to read and judiciously written vernacular. Of course that would be my opinion since I’m the author; I might add however that it is also the opinion of many others who’ve read the book. Kirkus Review, for example, gave it a starred review, which is their way of designating a book of exceptional merit. You can read that review here @ https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/freddie-owens/then-blind-man-orbies-story/

Finally there’s a link to the book’s trailer, which I think gives a fair summary of its content and tone. Here it is: http://bit.ly/1dnWwwN

What inspired you to write it?

 

Two memories served as starting points for a short story I wrote that eventually became this novel. One was of my Kentucky grandmother as she emerged from a shed with a white chicken held upside down in one of her strong, bony hands. I, a boy of nine and a ‘city slicker’ from Detroit, looked on in wonderment and horror as she summarily wrung the poor creature’s neck. It ran about the yard frantically, yes incredibly, as if trying to locate something it had misplaced as if the known world could be set right again, recreated, if only that one thing was found. And then of course it died. The second memory was of lantern light reflected off stones that lay on either side of a path to a storm cellar me and my grandparents were headed for one stormy night beneath a tornado’s approaching din. There was wonderment there too, along with a vast and looming sense of impending doom.

Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

I’ve been a member of several such critique groups over the years but am not now involved with any. Feedback at these groups was helpful, sometimes crucial and sometimes not helpful at all; I think one has to take things with a grain of salt and sometimes with a large grain of salt; I think one has to remember oneself and not let what other’s say taint one’s vision. I’ve worked with author’s Rebecca Hill (Among Birches) and Judith Guest (Ordinary People). I’ve worked with British authors James Friel and Carol Clewlow. And I have an editor, a good one (Dave King @ http://www.davekingedits.com/). If you’re an aspiring writer reading this I think you should find a good editor, one you can afford and trust. A literary agent in New York also helped me considerably, especially toward the middle part of the writing; he gave a good amount of his time advising me, which I’ll never forget. I won’t mention his name here, as this is not what he does for a living. Suffice it to say one needs feedback from time to time. I do at any rate – and when I get to the sequel I’ll be looking for more.

Who is your favorite author?

I have many favorites and can’t settle on just one. To name a few, there is Cormac McCarthy, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carver, Pete Dexter, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oats, Hermann Hesse, John Updike and Dorothy Allison. And many others…

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

After many years of ‘almost’ and ‘no’ or ‘yes but we wouldn’t know how to market it’ from agents and publishers alike, I’ve opted for ‘certainly’ and ‘yes’ instead, taking all my marbles to Amazon’s Independent Publisher’s Assistant, Createspace, which has become home base to my phantom publisher Blind Sight Publications. Blind Sight Publications (aka Freddie Owens) published Then Like The Blind Man: Orbie’s Story – a bumpy ride to say the least.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Readers can purchase the book on Amazon. The Kindle Version may be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/THEN-LIKE-THE-BLIND-ebook/dp/B00A42VK4O . The Trade Paperback version may be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/Then-Like-The-Blind-Man/dp/1475084498 .

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The jury is still out on this one. KDP’s free days work well (in which one gives away one’s Kindle version for free for a chosen number of days); this is good for getting readers and customer reviews (though these are not always helpful). I think, if one is going to pay for a review, one should go to reputable reviewers like Kirkus or ForeWord’s Clarion. I think such reviews may help decide a reader one way or another, though this is not a slam-dunk. Virtual book tours have potential. Pump Up Your Book (http://www.pumpupyourbook.com) has several good options for tours and Dorothy, their CEO, is a delight to work with. There are many other things I’ve done and that one can do, but in spite of my own book’s having received many good reviews and accolades, sales have been moderate at best. The book did climb recently into Amazon’s bestseller ranks, which is not necessarily indicative of a lot of sales since many of Amazon’s categories are structured to allow bestseller rankings to books with only a handful of sales. Be careful where you spend your money for promotions, especially if you’re self-published. Spend wisely.

What is up next for you?

A sequel. Then a sequel to the sequel. Then fame, glory, money and more money. Then old age. Then sickness. Then death. Always death.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Well, I guess I should be more circumspect in public and not say that it astounds me that so many people now have read Then Like the Blind Man and actually like it. In fact, there’s been a surfeit of praise. I’m tickled of course but is this possible? Am I not dreaming a pleasant dream from which I’ll awaken one day to discover the harsh truth, i.e., that the book is sub par, mediocre and yet another example of self published claptrap? I ask myself this. And I’m a little embarrassed, I guess. I mean I’m out there now, publicized in a way I’m only gradually getting to know. It’s sort of like having been behind locked doors for years and years and finally finding a key of sorts and using it to open the door and stepping out into the sunshine – where everything is now exposed. The temptation, of course, is to crawl back, go back inside, shut the doors, shut out the over bright lights. Seems odd and a little disconcerting at times but I seem to have an abiding affiliation with the darkness, more so than I do with the light – it is the darkness that interests me, that causes me to explore. But that requires light, doesn’t it? I need the light; but I love the darkness.

Interview with Alinka Rutkowska, Author of Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland

Alinka Rutkowska

Alinka Rutkowska is a “Reader’s Favorite” Five Star Picture Book Author. She writes the “Maya & Filippo” Book Series for Children – travel books for kids with a positive attitude. She takes inspiration from her own travels while cruising with her husband and daughter around the world. She is positive, appreciative and happy 95% of the time and during the miserable 5% she thinks to herself quickly: “things always work out for me” and they do.

Alinka’s doesn’t really have a “to do” list but she does have a “fun things to do” list. It usually consists of writing, reading, reading her writing, writing in her diary, blogging, reading other blogs, commenting, breathing deeply, meditating, feeling the warmth of the sun on her skin, closing her eyes, breathing some more and thinking what a wonderful world she lives in.

Sometimes she takes a few minutes to pause and instead of doing something from her “fun things to do” list she just daydreams a little. She thinks of all the great things that she wants for her to happen and imagines how wonderful it will feel to be interviewed about them in the future. She’s already preparing the answers to those interview questions in her mind. She especially loves the part, in which she says that she achieved all these things because she spent a considerable amount of time visualizing them first.

Alinka loves to ski while listening to music at the same time, she enjoys an occasional glass (or bottle) of Barolo with dark chocolate, she loves cuddling with her husband and daughter. Alinka really likes tea, especially that last sip which is usually the tastiest.

Alinka blogs daily at www.mayafilippo.com for parents, travelers and authors. She loves to connect with like-minded individuals on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mayafilippo), Twitter (https://twitter.com/AlinkaRutkowska) and Linked-In (http://www.linkedin.com/in/alinkarutkowska).
Alinka’s books are available through her Amazon Author’s page at http://amzn.to/1eQNlcZ

When did you begin writing?

In primary school. As a school girl I used to carry a notebook and I would fill it with poems of my own production, whenever I felt inspired. I think I might still have it somewhere:) I was also founder and editor of the school newspaper. I loved writing and publishing since I remember. I wrote my first published work in 2010 and it was an incredible success! I still haven’t quite figured out how that happened but I sold thousands of copies in the first months after launch. That was the moment that I decided I had to quit my corporate job and think what I really wanted to do in life. After a few years of searching what my life’s purpose truly is, the Maya & Filippo picture book series were created. It’s now a brand and I am very excited about it.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I’m a mom and a writer. In that order. This means that I can write when my daughter is asleep. I always make sure that I’m undisturbed, centered, relaxed and that I have a clear mind. I usually spend several days (or weeks!) letting the idea for the book marinate in my head and when the right moment presents itself, I pour it all on paper (or screen!). A picture book is only about 1000 words long and it takes me about an hour to write it. It’s a very intense hour – I usually type like crazy with only brief pauses to read what I wrote. That’s how the first draft is born.

What is this book about?Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland

Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland is the first of the Maya & Filippo series and it’s about two children discovering the world on a cruise ship. They explore both the sights and the world inside their minds. They dock in Auckland (New Zealand) and have a rough morning, they then go to see the city and notice a very strange thing – the more positive they are, the better their day becomes. They soon take advantage of this new law and make sure that some amazing things happen before the sun sets.

What inspired you to write it?

Back in 2011 I stepped out of my comfort zone, quit my corporate job and took off for the other side of the world – New Zealand. I was all by myself and I soon noticed that the better my attitude was, the better my experiences. I took advantage of this knowledge. I went on a cruise expecting the best and it did turn out to be the best decision of my life. I met my now husband on board and now we cruise together around the world. This gives me plenty inspiration for new Maya & Filippo adventures.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

I had already published several books in the past so this was smooth sailing. The challenge was to find a reliable team. It took me a while to find passionate people to work with. It’s important to me that they care for these books, for the characters and the philosophy they convey. Luckily, after a few months of searching everything is in place now.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland is available on Amazon (http://amzn.to/IszTxo) and in any major book store. I’m also very active in promoting this book to libraries, book stores and tourist centers in Auckland and I will soon be able to announce that you can get it there. There’s one more thing and this one is huge – it might still be confidential and I’m not sure if I can tell, but one of the big cruise lines will be carrying my titles in their on board boutiques. That for me is a dream come true!

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

Yes, I think that video trailers are a great addition to an author’s marketing campaign. Here’s my video for Maya & Filippo Make Friends in Auckland http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWUZbn8vb7A

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

The best investment was a review copy I gave as a gift to a Vice President of one of the biggest cruise companies. She wrote back to me saying that she LOVED the book and wanted to sell copies on board. Sometimes a small gift goes a long way! The truth is that I give out plenty of review copies – to anyone who would write a review in exchange. I send my books out to people who have a large following and can make an impact on sales. I also like giving my books to friends who have children. I give, give, give! And then every now and then – I get back big time.

What is up next for you?

Writing, publishing and promoting. I love what I do and I want to do more of it. I will be writing more Maya & Filippo episodes.

The first batch to be published will be books from my travels in New Zealand:

Maya & Filippo Play Chef at Sea
Maya & Filippo Look for Happiness in Tauranga
Maya & Filippo See Impossible Things in the Garden City
Maya & Filippo Learn about Careers in Dunedin
and Alaska:
Maya & Filippo Talk Business in Seattle
Maya & Filippo Look for Whales in Ketchikan
Maya & Filippo Visit a Glacier
Maya & Filippo See Things Differently in Skagway

I’ve already written these and the artwork for the covers is also complete, so they will all have been published by mid 2015.

I am now going to Hawaii and I will definitely not come back empty-handed. I think I will also include a few European ports in my future books. We are talking about 2015-2016 here.

Each book requires copy-editing, illustrations, coloring and graphic design. I have a team of people with whom I work closely to get each book ready for publication. After that I spend my free hours spreading the word out. I want this series to get to people who will appreciate it and that’s a full time job!

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