2016 Writing Goal Review – First Quarter

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It’s hard to believe that the first quarter of 2016 is almost done. Where did it go?

As is typical for me, I review my goals once a quarter to gauge my progress and make any necessary adjustments. Here are the goals I sent at the end of December:

  • Complete Amelia’s Mission by December 31, 2016.
  • Continue to attend critique group twice a month.
  • Edit The Sisterhood.

So, where do I stand now?

  • Only one chapter has been written since the end of December, but it’s a good one. Amelia is off at Elms Academy where Aunt Martha banished her after she disobeyed her strict aunt one too many times. There she meets new people–some nice and some not so nice. I like how this story is developing.
  • I’m attending critique group twice a month, but might need to cut back to once a month. The spring real estate market is very busy and I am gone many evenings, so being home one extra night a month will make a difference to the family.
  • I dug out The Sisterhood and brought it with me to the last two critique group meetings; mostly because I hadn’t written the next chapter of Amelia’s story, but also because I think it deserves some attention. It definitely needs extensive revisions, but the overall idea is strong.

What other projects are there in the hopper? I have numerous written picture books looking for homes:

A New Home – Three abandoned kittens search for a new place to live.

Crabby Cathy is about a mean bully who bothers Amy until she discovers why Cathy behaves the way she does and works on befriending her.

Everybody’s Home for Christmas – Rachel is sad her father is stationed overseas during the holidays and prays for a Christmas miracle.

The Real Cinderella Story – A snarky story by one of Cinderella’s stepsisters. I love this one! Looking for a home for it.

Beatrice and the Dinosaur – First book in a series. Needs some polishing, but it is about a girl and her imaginary friend who go on adventures together. In this one, Beatrice and Charlotte imagine Dad’s lawn mower is a dinosaur.

Beatrice and the Polar Bear – The second book in the series finds Beatrice and Charlotte being chased by a polar bear (Dad’s snow blower). This one also needs a bit of polishing.

 

Searching for Popularity is what I had started as a middle grade/young adult memoir. I think the story would be better as a novel so once some other projects are completed I will tackle this one.

A Shepherd’s Journey is a Christian novel for the adult market. It tells the story of Obed, who seeks out the apostles after the Resurrection to learn if Jesus is the Messiah he met when he was just a boy living outside of Bethlehem.

Looks like I have more than enough to keep me busy. How about you? Have you set some writing goals for this year? Do you review your goals on a regular basis? What is one story idea you have that is begging to be written?

Blogging at Christian Children’s Authors – March 18

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On Friday, I blogged about one of my favorite Easter time stories, Stubby’s Destiny by Dixie Phillips. You can read my review at http://christianchildrensauthors.com/2016/03/18/book-review-stubbys-destiny-by-dixie-phillips/

Life On Base: Quantico Cave by Tom and Nancy Wise Book Blast & Giveaway!

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For Stephen, his life on base is much the same as most other children’s. The difference is in the details. Look both ways before crossing a tank path and be sure to check if the spent bullet casings you find in the long-abandoned trenches are actually empty. Sports stop at the sound of the evening trumpet call as he and his friends stand at attention while the flag is retired. Quantico Cave is a story of friendship and competition, and when Stephen meets up with a friend he once knew at a previous home station, the contest hits a whole new level that places everyone at risk.

EXCERPT:

Stephen had noticed Jimmy was a lot happier these days. “Keep an eye on the target,” he told him as he followed at a brisk pace down the heavily wooded hill. “Hear from yer dad yet?” He avoided Jimmy’s eyes, not wanting to see the hurt that might come with the answer.

“No,” Jimmy said and offered nothing more.

His head down, Stephen muttered, “It’s only been a few weeks,” knowing Jimmy would change the subject again.

Things tended to get quiet at home when Jimmy’s dad shipped out with the fleet. The deployment meant less stress for Jimmy since his relationship with his father was normally pretty contentious. When a parent was mobilized, the rules were laxer, so little things changed. Kids would let their hair grow longer, stay up a bit later. For Jimmy, not having Dad around meant more free time on weekends—and less fighting.

“Miss him?” Stephen asked quietly with a glance behind to see the shadow trailing along the ridge to their left.

Jimmy ducked beneath an arch of tangled brush where deer had pushed through, keeping his eye on their target to maintain their line of travel toward the checkpoint. “Drop it.”

“Okay.” Stephen crouched in behind. “This is north—” he added, touching the damp, mossy side of a tree.

“We should stash some of the spears we made in here.”

We need to make up some time. “What we should do is go about fifty yards, then down the slope.” Stephen pushed Jimmy forward as they emerged from the brush. “C’mon,” he said, tired of the distractions.

The boys trotted the next fifty yards, or “klicks” as they liked to call them, then turned down a steep slope to make up time. “Shoot.” Jimmy let out a yelp as his feet skidded on the loose dirt and leaves.

Looking over his shoulder as he bounced down the hill, Stephen allowed himself to slide until his feet grabbed the dirt and then hopped again to keep his momentum. “Turn sideways. Watch.” He dug into the slope with each hop, doing as his dad had showed him. He heard Jimmy yelp again. I hope he sees this. I’m doing it the way you showed me, Dad. The next hop was cut short as Jimmy slipped, kicked his feet up as he landed hard on his butt, and slammed into Stephen’s leg. Both boys smashed into the soft earth and tumbled down the hill.

Stephen slid, his back to Jimmy’s chest, for another five feet before he got his sneakers planted to stop their descent. “Shit, Jimmy,” he said over his friend’s moans. Oh, my gosh. We need to move. Calm. Stay calm. Stephen glanced up the hill to see if they were being watched.

“Oh, man.” Jimmy groaned, trying to get his feet under him, but sending them another three feet down the slope.

“Put your feet sideways.” Stephen inched his way forward to give Jimmy some room.

Jimmy rose sideways to the hill, stood, shook the dirt out of his shirt. Cautiously, he hopped his way down the remaining incline ahead of Stephen, his feet breaking loose on each hop as he got the rhythm. When they reached the base, Jimmy dropped to his butt and crossed his arms over his knees in a huff. He stared straight ahead, not saying a word, as if searching for something.

Purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Life-Base-Tom-Nancy-Wise-ebook/dp/B018N4HK7K

Tom and Nancy Wise are award-winning authors. Their first novel, The Borealis Genome, is the grand- prize winner of the Chanticleer Book Reviews Dante Rossetti 2013 Award for YA Novels and Award Lab Lit Category. Thomas grew up in a military family moving from base to base as the child of a Marine, living the life of an officer’s brat in times of war while Nancy was raised the youngest child of a WWII veteran. When not working together on their novels, Tom teaches at University and authors articles on project management topics and nonfiction books published by Gower Publishing in the UK.

https://www.facebook.com/Tom-Nancy-Wise-678608352235570/

http://www.authorthomaspwise.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bxsiPspN0g

https://twitter.com/BorealisGenome

Tom and Nancy Wise will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

 

Enter to win a $20 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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The Adventures of Archibald and Jockabeb Series by Art Collins

 

Inside the Book:

 
 

Title:
 In the Forest
Author: Art Collins
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Publisher: A&J Publishing
Genre: YA Fiction
Format: Ebook

When two young brothers, Archibald and Jockabeb, find and old leather map hidden in the forest just beyond their backyard, they can’t help but sneak out one night to follow its path. So begins the first of the boys’ amazing adventures. After a terrifying encounter with supernatural creatures, the boys meet a young Indian brave, Haktu, who shares with them the tragic story of how he was separated from his tribe and placed under an evil spell. The saga leads the two boys into Haktu’s secret world behind the forest mist, the power of the blue feather, and teaches them the importance of friendship and loyalty in the face of untold evil.

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Inside the Book:

 Title: In the Mountains
Author: Art Collins
Release Date: October 1, 2015
Publisher: A&J Publishing
Genre: YA Fiction
Format: Ebook

 

In the first book, the two brothers meet Haktu, the young Indian brave who was trapped inside the body of an underwater dragon, and then find his lost pony, Uno, deep within a mysterious forest. After the boys narrowly escape several vicious attacks from evil wolf-crows, they receive a magic blue feather from Haktu as he bids them his final farewell. Book Two begins with Archibald and Jockabeb flying to a secluded summer camp perched high in a rugged mountain range far from home. The fact that they are the only two campers to show up at Camp Bear Claw that summer is just the first of many surprises — incredible surprises that test the protective power of their magic blue feather in completely unexpected ways. On their way to a final face-to-face showdown with a deadly creature that possesses supernatural strength, the young boys meet several unforgettable characters who end up changing their lives forever. If you liked In the Forest, hold onto your hat as you read its sequel!
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Inside the Book:

 Title: In the Amazon
Author: Art Collins
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: A&J Publishing
Genre: YA Fiction
Format: Ebook

 

In the first two books, Archibald and Jockabeb make a number of wonderful friends while battling unearthly foes that possess supernatural powers. In a dark forest close to home, they escape almost certain death with the aid of a young Indian brave, Haktu, and his pony, Uno. Later, in a distant mountain range, they come to know the kindness of Gran, Ben, Tommy Two Feathers, and their four-legged companions, Champ and Ghost Rider. Stalked relentlessly by the blood-thirsty wolf-crows in the forest, and then by the cunning devil cat in the mountains, the two brothers manage to barely escape with their lives. However, when they accept their uncle’s invitation to visit him in Brazil, little do they know that their most terrifying adventure is about to unfold — an amazing adventure that will again test the magical power of Haktu’s blue feather. So, as you prepare to read In the Amazon, get ready for an unforgettable journey into the dark recesses that lie between the crevices of reality and fantasy!
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Inside the Book:

 Title: In the Desert
Author: Art Collins
Release Date: April 2015
Publisher: A&J Publishing
Genre: YA Fiction
Format: Ebook

In the first two books, Archibald and Jockabeb make a number of wonderful friends while battling unearthly foes that possess supernatural powers. In a dark forest close to home, they escape almost certain death with the aid of a young Indian brave, Haktu, and his pony, Uno. Later, in a distant mountain range, they come to know the kindness of Gran, Ben, Tommy Two Feathers, and their four-legged companions, Champ and Ghost Rider. Stalked relentlessly by the blood-thirsty wolf-crows in the forest, and then by the cunning devil cat in the mountains, the two brothers manage to barely escape with their lives. However, when they accept their uncle’s invitation to visit him in Brazil, little do they know that their most terrifying adventure is about to unfold — an amazing adventure that will again test the magical power of Haktu’s blue feather. So, as you prepare to read In the Amazon, get ready for an unforgettable journey into the dark recesses that lie between the crevices of reality and fantasy!

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Inside the Book:

 Title: In the Caribbean
Author: Art Collins
Release Date: April 2015
Publisher: A&J Publishing
Genre: YA Fiction
Format: Ebook

 

The fifth book in The Adventures of Archibald and Jockabeb series picks up right where the fourth book left off. With many questions about what really happened in the Sonoran Desert still unanswered, Archibald and Jockabeb’s family head to the island of Jamaica for spring vacation. What begins as an idyllic stay at a secluded beachfront inn soon takes a turn for the worse when the boys and the inn’s proprietor, Salty, charter a fishing boat for the day. The captain of the boat is none other than Tommy Nat, Mr. Natonto’s estranged son. The violent storm that follows turns out to be only the first of many unexpected events that quickly propel the two brothers toward an unexpected showdown on another Caribbean island. The elusive Tommy Nat, a mysterious island doctor, a giant Haitian named Maurice, and unseen zombies all combine to set the stage for another classic clash between the forces of good and evil. While the final confrontation that unfolds inside a deserted cafe ultimately provides answers to the remaining mysteries of Lizard Flats, it also places the boys in untold danger. The book contains a number of interesting facts about the Caribbean, its culture and religion, and a bit of the occult. As in past books, the reader observes firsthand how Archibald and Jockabeb grow as brothers and young teens, all the while learning the true meaning of friendship.”
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Inside the Book:




Title: In the Big City
Author: Art Collins
Release Date: April 2015
Publisher: A&J Publishing
Genre: YA Fiction
Format: Ebook

 

The sixth book in The Adventures of Archibald and Jockabeb series finds the two brothers and their younger sister travelling to New York City to spend a long weekend with their aunt. After finishing a wonderful dinner at Sardi’s the first night, the boys become separated from Tess and Aunt Claire in nearby Times Square. Events quickly take a menacing turn when a mysterious person from the past suddenly appears with two henchmen in tow. Frantically trying to escape, Archibald has no idea what he’ll find when he leads Jockabeb down the stairs into a nearby subway station-and what the boys do find launches one their strangest and most electrifying adventures to date. A beautiful young girl named Willow, a one-armed man called Meatloaf, and a dangerous gang leader who goes by the name of Shabazz are just a few of the characters who the boys meet in the abandoned subway tunnels far below the streets of Manhattan. As Archibald and Jockabeb try to make their way safely back to Aunt Claire, they only move closer to a final confrontation with their pursuers, both human and non-human alike. The reader will learn interesting facts about America’s largest city while once again watching the teenage brothers’ personalities evolve. As in all the previous books, the forces of good and evil are pitted against one another-this time, above and below the streets of “The Big Apple!”
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Meet the Author:

When Art Collins retired as a highly successful chairman and CEO of a Fortune 500 company, he didn’t write the book on leadership that many had expected. Instead, he decided that penning adventure stories that could be enjoyed by young and old would be far more interesting, not to mention much more fun. Borrowing two characters, Archibald and Jockabeb, from tales told by his father many years before, and drawing upon his own rich imagination, Art introduces the two young brothers to an incredible cast of characters—some human, some otherworldly—in locations that range from the mysterious forest behind the boys’ house to the lush and exotic Amazon. The nine book series reflects his love of the mountains and ocean, as well as his extensive travels that have taken him to every continent except Antarctica. Art currently divides his time between Chicago and the Vail Valley in Colorado. 

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HarperCollins Publishing Releases Little House Series in Digital Formats!

This is the day Little House fans have been waiting for–HarperCollins Publishers released the series for e-readers today!

It looks like they are only offering a 5-eBook set on the HCP website, but if you visit:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
GooglePlay

you will find all nine books available in digital format.

What would Laura think of this new way to read her books?

Blogging at Christian Children’s Authors – March 4

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It is the first Friday of the month, so that means you get an extra treat–reading one of my posts at Christian Children’s Authors. As I have embarked upon my journey to a healthier lifestyle this year, I thought it would be a good idea to share how changes such as these are often taken one step at a time. Check out my post at http://christianchildrensauthors.com/2016/03/04/baby-steps-will-help-you-care-for-gods-temple/

Interview with Annette Oppenlander, Author of Escape from the Past

AuthorPhoto_EscapeFromThePastTheKidAnnette Oppenlander writes historical fiction for young adults and anyone who loves stories set in the past. When she isn’t in front of her computer, she loves indulging her dog, Mocha, and traveling around the U.S. and Europe to discover amazing histories.

“Nearly every place holds some kind of secret, something that makes history come alive. When we scrutinize people and places closely, history is no longer a number, it turns into a story.”

Website/blog: http://www.annetteoppenlander.com
Thank you for joining us today, Annette. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in Solingen, Germany, a city known for its cutlery and sharp kitchen knives. After completing a business degree at the University of Cologne I moved to the U.S. for a one-year work assignment. Instead, I met my future husband at a Super Bowl party and got married a year later. That was in 1987. I’ve been living in different parts of the U.S. ever since.

I’ve been married for 28 years and have fraternal twins (24) and a son (27). My roommate is an old mutt, Mocha, a pooch we adopted from the Humane Society 11 years ago.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

Becoming a writer/author was a process that took several years. In the beginning–the late 90s–I wrote children’s stories for early readers. I didn’t know anything about writing for children, the market nor the submission process, so this went nowhere. In 2002 I interviewed my parents about their lives during WW2 in Germany which led to a number of short stories. I didn’t really imagine writing a novel, let alone several, I merely wanted to preserve the memories for my family.

But I became aware how much I enjoy the writing process. How I felt while I did it. I worked for a PR agency and did lots of business related writing. I’d go home at night and write some more, spent my weekends writing fiction. I grew more and more invested, took classes, read books on craft, attended conferences and joined a critique group. In 2009 I attended a short story class at Indiana University and that’s when the light bulb turned on fully. I’ve known ever since that writing is my passion and I must do it even if publication is light years away. I finished the first manuscript in 2010. The first book was published in 2015.

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

Maybe I never quite grew up. I have vivid memories of my teenage years and I raised three kids through the rough and tumble teen years. It’s an age so full of wonder and turmoil, but also of tough times. I think it’s one of the most interesting periods in a human’s life.

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

I love the quirkiness, the surprise moves my characters make. Sometimes, Max, my main character just throws me for a loop. He’s unpredictable and rash, but he also has a good heart and means to do well. It just doesn’t always work out that way. At the same time I love taking my readers on an exciting journey. I want them to ‘feel’ the action, be there with the characters, bring history alive.

The challenge is getting into the heads of the teen characters and understanding that their approach to things is quite different from adult logic.

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

In “The Kid,” book two in the “Escape from the Past” trilogy, time-traveling gamer, Max, intends to return to his friends in medieval Germany, but mistakenly lands in the Wild West of 1881 New Mexico.

Struggling to get his bearings and coming to terms with Dr. Stuler’s evil computer game misleading him, Max runs into Billy the Kid. To his amazement Billy isn’t at all the ruthless killer history made him out to be. Trouble brews when a dying Warm Springs Apache gives Max a huge gold nugget to help his sister, Ela, escape from Fort Sumner. Shopping for supplies Max attracts the attention of ruthless bandits. Before Max can ask the Kid’s help, he and Ela are forced to embark on a journey to find his imaginary goldmine. This is book 2 in the Escape from the Past trilogy.EscapeFromThePastTheKid

What inspired you to write it?

Growing up in Germany, I’ve always been fascinated with the Wild West. I remember watching westerns with my father and reading books about pioneers, American Indians and the gold rush. After I moved to the U.S. I continued reading historical fiction set in the eighteen and nineteen hundreds.

I chose Billy the Kid because I see him as a tragic character who encountered a string of bad luck and was basically set up to fail. He isn’t much older than Max and can easily see how any young man could’ve had Billy’s fate. The second important character is Chief Nana, A Warm Springs Apache warrior, who in the summer of 1881 rode a 3,000 mile vengeance war against the U.S. Army. He was never caught nor were his fifteen or so warriors. The amazing thing about him was his age. He was around eighty years old then and had a bad leg.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

“Escape from the Past: The Kid” is available at any bookstore and online. Here are a few links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Past-Kid-book-2/dp/178535213X/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/escape-from-the-past-annette-oppenlander/1122768791

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781785352133

What is up next for you?

I just finished the third book in the trilogy, “Escape from the Past: At Witches’ End” which takes Max back to the Middle Ages. The manuscript is currently in editing at the publisher. My current writing project is a story about two teens growing up during WW2 in Germany. It’s a love story based on my family, but it is ultimately a story of forgiveness.

Do you have anything else to add?

I always love hearing from readers and invite you to leave a comment or note here on the blog or on my website, Goodreads or Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/annetteoppenlanderauthor/

Thank you very much for having me!

 

Annette Oppenlander will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

 

Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

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