Mary Cunningham’s Blog Hop Interview

Mary 2

Mary Cunningham is the author of time travel Cynthia’s Attic series–which we have discussed here at TC&TBC–and Ghost of Pine Mountain, the first book in The Adventures of Max and Maddie.

What are you working on, now?

Ghost of Pine Mountain: Adventures of Max and Maddie was released in April, 2013. I’m working on a new middle-grade series. Ghost of Pine Mountain is the first Max and Maddie adventure, with 4 more to follow. The first four stories will be released as Ebooks until the final. Then, all five stories will be combined in print.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

The whole Max and Maddie series combines supernatural elements with historical fact and fiction. The thirteen-year-old best friends travel back in time and have adventures with Native Americans and gold miners (Ghost of Pine Mountain), along with pioneers settling regions east and west of the Mississippi River.

What experiences have influenced you?ghost_of_pine_mountain-web

The biggest influence in my life was my dad. He was a journalist for a large city newspaper for forty years, and he also nurtured my love of fantasy. When he ran out of typical bedtime stories, he made up one of his own. He was an amazing writer, and I would sometimes go with him when he interviewed a subject for his human-interest column, Around Indiana, for The Louisville Courier Journal. Seeing the story process from beginning to publication had a great impact. Unfortunately, he died before I started writing my series, but, on occasion, I feel him looking over my shoulder as I write.

Why do you write what you do?

I’ve always been a time-travel buff beginning with H.G. Wells and “The Time Machine.” Nothing would make me happier than to be able to travel back in time and meet some of my characters. A previous series, Cynthia’s Attic, sends main characters, Cynthia and Gus, back in time where they meet and solve mysteries with many of their (my) ancestors.

How does your writing process work?

I wake up and have some coffee. Turn on my computer. Have another cup of coffee. Open my e-mails. Hit delete 75 times, or so. Have another cup of coffee…well, you get the idea. I try to write every day. I don’t like to force it, though. If the words aren’t flowing, I do something else and then go back to it. I love writing when my brain is working so fast, my fingers can barely keep up. I guess my only ritual is that (oh, this is going to sound really weird) I must have my shower and be dressed before I can write. I have a friend who writes in her jammies. Not me! Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have to be in black dress slacks and white cashmere sweater! Jeans and a t-shirt will do quite nicely. Just so I’m dressed.

What is the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part, for me, is to stay focused and disciplined. I simply don’t have the ability to write every day whether I want to, or not. I’d much rather be in the mood to write “good stuff” than waste my time when I’m simply not feeling creative.

5-book

What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

I’ve started an adult mystery that I really want to finish. Writing for adults is a little more “freeing” than writing for younger readers, although no more challenging.

Who are the authors you most admire?

I’m a big Tolkien fan and have great respect for J. K. Rowling. In fact, it was Rowling who gave me permission to “write outside the box.” My favorite book: To Kill A Mockingbird. Perfect story, perfect characters, perfect writing. That’s the gold standard, as far as I’m concerned.

What scares you?

Since I’d have to write a book about extremists at both ends of the spectrum threatening world peace, I’ll make it simple and say, snakes.

Visit Mary online at http://marycunninghambooks.com/ and her blog at http://cynthiasattic.blogspot.com/

Authors Blog Hop Interview with Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Blog Hop Interview button

My friend, Mary Cunningham, asked me to participate in this “blog hop interview.” The idea is this: She sent me some interview questions, which I answer, and then at the end I tag 3 other writers who will in turn answer the same questions on their blogs next week.

1. What are you working on right now?

I’m participating in 12×12. Authors write one picture book each month for a year. So far I’m five for five. Having compiled a set of 30 ideas last November as part of Picture Book Idea Month certainly helped.

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?

It’s not so much that my projects differ from other books in their genre, as committing to writing on a regular basis has made me more comfortable writing diverse stories. My first two books, plus the next one that is currently under contract, are message-driven fiction. They are meant to educate and entertain. The last two books I’ve written for 12×12 have been stories solely meant to entertain. One is Cinderella’s story as told from the point of view of one of her stepsisters. The other is about a turkey who keeps making new costumes to disguise himself from Farmer Jones so he doesn’t end up on the Thanksgiving Day table.

3. What experiences have influenced you?

Reading is a huge influence for any writer. My children and my faith also inspire my writing.

Cheryl Malandrions Guest on RRRadio-RFK: Stories for Children –January 3rd4. Why do you write what you do?

I’ve been a Sunday school teacher for over 20 years. My message-driven fiction comes from that background. I’m always looking for new ways to teach familiar lessons. I also like to make people laugh. With my most recent projects, I feel I can do that.

5. How does your writing process work?

Since I am writing shorter pieces of fiction right now, there isn’t a ton of research and I don’t outline. I’ve had a few months to consider the ideas I committed to working on for 12×12, so the starting point is usually easy. It’s hard to control my desire to describe everything, but with picture books the reader has a visual aid, so you don’t have to paint as much of the picture for a reader as you do in middle grade or young adult fiction. If I’m having a busy month, I will write longhand while sitting at softball practice or the girls’ dance lessons. Most times, though, I sit down and type away. Most picture books take me three full days of writing to develop. That’s not to say it’s easy. Before I sit down to write I’m fairly certain of where I am going with a project. That means writing less often than I would like, but I need to be comfortable that I know enough to prevent me from staring at a blank screen for hours.  I am also a firm believer in the practice of write now, edit later. Once I type “The End,” I can take my time pondering what works and what doesn’t before sending it off to my critique group for feedback.

6. What is the hardest part about writing?

For me it is definitely the waiting. Right now, I have no less than nine picture books completed. One is with my publisher awaiting an illustrator to be assigned to it. Another is with a local artist who I’m working with because we might self-publish. Two are ready for me to write query letters so I can submit them to publishers. The others are in various stages of editing. Sometimes it’s tough waiting to hear back on queries or holding out to see the cover art the illustrator designs. But it’s part of the process. You can’t experience the successes without the wait.

7. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

I would love to write an inspirational romance or a cozy mystery. I’ve been a mystery lover since I was kid. My largest problem is creating villains. They never come easy to me.

8. Who are the authors you most admire?

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Lucy Maud Montgomery were superb writers. Before I began reviewing so many books on my blogs I read the Little House and Anne of Green Gables series annually. These authors both had a keen eye for detail that should be studied. Christian authors Jerry Jenkins and Kathi Macias have wonderful ministries. I try not to miss any of their books. Southern fiction authors Karen White and Rhett DeVane are excellent at blending past and present and uncovering family secrets. What surprised me is how much I enjoyed The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Dystopian fiction has never been my thing, but Collins helped me develop a taste for it. I also love historical fiction from C.W. Gortner. I’m staring at one of his recent books now and it’s crying, “Read me.” If you love historical fiction with strong female characters, you have to pick up one of Gortner’s books.  A Christmas Kindness Book Blast & Giveaway

9. What scares you?

My list of phobias would scare you. 🙂 From a writing point of view, I’m afraid of making bad choices. When my second book came out, I decided to write it under a pen name. That’s not proving to be the wisest choice. I can handle two websites and multiple social media accounts–though they take a lot of time and are an extra expense–but if I had truly thought about my work as a whole, I would have realized releasing my second book under my actual name would have been just fine, even if it wasn’t a faith-based project.

Please check out Mary’s answers to the questions on her blog at Cynthia’s Attic Blog. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of her interview and tell her it’s from me. In addition, I am tagging the following authors:

Posting June 24th – Nicole Weaver at My Sister Is My Best Friend blog: http://mysisterismybestfriend.blogspot.com/

Posting June 26th – Cynthia Reeg at What’s New With Cynthia Reeg: http://www.cynthiareegblog.com/ 

Posting the week of the 24th – Tracey M. Cox at A Writers Blog by Tracey M. Cox: http://traceymcox.wordpress.com/

A Christmas Kindness Book Blast & Giveaway

Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer, children’s author and editor. Her first children’s book, Little Shepherd, was released in August 2010 by Guardian Angel Publishing. She is a member of the SCBWI, a book reviewer, and blogger. Cheryl also writes under the name of C. C. Gevry. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. She also has a son who is married.

Visit her online at http://ccmalandrinos.com or http://ccgevry.com

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) by Mary Cunningham (Review)

Cynthia and Gus are traveling through time again. Having solved many mysteries in the past, they soon discover something is very wrong and things are unraveling. Aunt Belle is missing…again! Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau, was never found! Is Blackie still making life miserable for Lilly and Annie?

The girls journey into a strange woods with disastrous results. They find scary creatures and dark secrets along the way. Though someone or something seems to have reversed the good work they have done during their previous time travels, the girls are determined to set things right again, meeting new friends along the way.

I haven’t read all the books in this series. Book 4, The Magician’s Castle, introduced me to Cynthia and Gus and the magic attic that helps them travel through time. Like the fourth book, this new one has tons of time-traveling adventure for everyone. From 2014 to 1964 to 1914 and hopefully back home again, Cynthia, Gus, Nicole and Leeza find themselves trying to track down what is happening when they discover Aunt Belle is missing again and great-grandfather Beau was never found.

This is a light and fun read. A perfect stand-alone story, but I’m eager to read the first three books now so I can see where Cynthia and Gus’s adventures started. Readers will enjoy unlocking this mystery along with the girls as they seek to make things right again. Mary Cunningham has created a fabulous set of characters with distinct personalities. They complement the engaging plot perfectly. This is a fantastic book. I’m sorry to see the Cynthia’s Attic series end, but I’m eager to see what Cunningham comes up with next.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Mary Cunningham Books

http://www.marycunninghambooks.com

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Cunningham/e/B002BLNEK4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Cunningham/e/B002BLNEK4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Smashwords Ebooks

B & N Book Nook

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/cynthia-s-Attic-Mary-Cunningham?store=ALLPRODUCTS&keyword=cynthia%27s+Attic+Mary+Cunningham

OmniLit

http://www.omnilit.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Mary+Cunningham

See The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) Tour Schedule at http://cynthiasattic.blogspot.com/2012/05/cynthias-attic-legend-of-lupin-woods.html

 

I received a free e-copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation of any kind for this review.

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) by Mary Cunningham

Author, Mary Cunningham, is excited to announce the release of the 5th and final book in the award-winning series, Cynthia’s Attic.

Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods (Book 5) Book Blurb

Cynthia and Gus have solved a lot of mysteries across time, but something is seriously wrong and things are beginning to unravel.

Aunt Belle is missing…again! Cynthia’s great-grandfather, Beau, was never found! And now they are wondering if Blackie is still making life miserable for Lilly and Annie.

This time, the twelve-year-old girls journey into a strange woods full of frightening creatures and dark secrets in search of answers.

From Aunt Belle’s cottage to a small village in France, they meet new friends and discover a connection to New Orleans that may lead to the devious source behind these alarming developments. Or bigger trouble.

Read an excerpt from Cynthia’s Attic: The Legend of Lupin Woods

My back pressed against a small tree as I peered over one shoulder, then the other. More blackness. I pulled my knees tight to my chest to create as small a target as possible. If I could keep still until morning,  this place might be less formidable.

Those eyes …did they just move? Hair stood straight up on my neck as a low growl inched ever closer. I sucked in one last breath and hid my face waiting for a fatal blow or bite.

“Well, well. What do we have here?” My head jerked skyward. Yellow eyes hovered over me. “Cat got your tongue?”

The creature bent down and poked my upper arm with a furry finger. I wanted so badly to run, but sheer terror kept me plastered to the tree.

The hulking figure straightened and chuckled. “I’m not planning to hurt you. What are you doing in Lupin?”

Lupin? I tried to answer, but dryness gripped my throat as if I’d swallowed an entire sandbox. Plus, an ominous word jumped into my brain. I’d heard something that sounded a lot like lupin once before. It was at the movies! Wolfman. Oh, no. Lupine is another name for wolf! Was I in a wolf forest?

My eyes scanned the treetops. I might be saved if the sun rose soon, but light would have to pass through the dense canopy, and from where I sat, that seemed doubtful. The beast must’ve read my mind.

“If you’re waiting for sunrise, you’ll be disappointed.” It smiled–or made a weak attempt–revealing huge, pointy teeth. “Instead of night and day, around here we have night and black.”

I gulped and finally manufactured enough spit to choke out four words. “Why-am-I-here?”

Visit Cynthia’s Attic Blog for a schedule of The Legend of Lupin Woods Blog Tour!

http://cynthiasattic.blogspot.com/2012/05/cynthias-attic-legend-of-lupin-woods.html

Mary Cunningham, author

Cynthia’s Attic Series

The Missing Locket

The Magic Medallion

Curse of the Bayou

The Magician’s Castle

The Legend of Lupin Woods 

Bio: Like Cynthia and Gus, my childhood best friend, Cynthia and I grew up in a small, Southern Indiana town…the setting for the series. Not one summer day passed that we weren’t playing softball, hide and seek, badminton, or croquet with friends in the vacant lot behind Becky’s house.

In my attempt to grow up, I joined The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club. When giving my fingers a day away from the keyboard, I enjoy golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where I live with my husband and adopted furry, four-legged daughter, Lucy. Together we’ve raised three creative children and are thrilled with our 2 granddaughters.

At last count, I’ve moved 9 times to six different states (all after the age of 36), and aside from the packing and unpacking, it’s been a great experience, having made some very dear and lasting friendships. My non-writing time is spent showing power point presentations on gathering ideas and the writing process to schools and libraries.

Mary Cunningham Books

http://www.marycunninghambooks.com

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Cunningham/e/B002BLNEK4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Cunningham/e/B002BLNEK4/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Smashwords Ebooks

B & N Book Nook

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/cynthia-s-Attic-Mary-Cunningham?store=ALLPRODUCTS&keyword=cynthia%27s+Attic+Mary+Cunningham

OmniLit

http://www.omnilit.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Mary+Cunningham

Look for my review of The Legend of Lupin Woods coming tomorrow!

Guest Blogger: Mary Cunningham, Author of the Cynthia’s Attic Series

 Today’s special guest is Mary Cunningham, author of the Cynthia’s Attic series, which includes:

The Missing Locket

The Magic Medallion

Curse of the Bayou

and The Magician’s Castle, which we reviewed here.

Brick by Brick (One author’s approach to series writing) by Mary Cunningham

The final proof for Cynthia’s Attic: The Magician’s Castle, book four in my ‘Tween fantasy series, was finally ready for the publisher. 

The Missing Locket and The Magic Medallion had been a snap. Both completed in about a year, although editing and attracting a publisher took an additional four years. I wasn’t sure another book was in me after the first two, but a cliff-hanger, written at the end of each book obligated me to send Cynthia and Gus on more time-travel adventures. Curse of the Bayou soon followed the first two books.  

In the series, I intertwine old family stories and ancestors, so I knew there were more tales to tell. 

The Magician’s Castle was created from stories about my great-grandmother’s family, the Kistlers. Genealogy traces the family back to Switzerland in the late 1300s. The magician, however, was part of my early childhood memories of attending a magic show. I was chosen to be his assistant on stage and, to my mother’s horror, he gave me the rabbit I helped pull out of his top hat! Decades later, an entire book is based on that experience.

But, back to the writing. I sailed through the first half of the story and then hit a wall. Not a wall that could be easily punched through with a couple days rest and diversion. This wall was solid brick—about five feet thick. I wrote. I deleted. I wrote more. I deleted. I paced. Had I ever written a decent paragraph in my life?  

Desperation consumed me. Deadlines approached. But, then I turned to my alternate source of creative energy. My husband—my biggest cheerleader, and idea person. Although it would be difficult for him to ever write an entire book, his imagination is boundless.

We sat on the deck one evening throwing out ideas. “What if Cynthia and Gus…?” he’d ask. “Or…oh, this is even better!” Although, ultimately, the storyline went in a slightly different direction, each idea represented a sledge hammer blow…dismantling that wall brick-by-brick.

Then, another wall. Our 16-year-old canine daughter, Molly, died and devastated both of us. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to write again. That’s when a friend suggested I write Molly as a character in the book. My excitement at that prospect allowed me to finished The Magician’s Castle in about a month, and Molly is one of my favorite characters. 

Did I write another cliffhanger at the end of Book Four? Guess so, because I’ve started work on Cynthia’s Attic Five. 

Oh, and for those of you wondering, Fluffy the Rabbit, found a good home on a nearby farm and, to the best of my knowledge, lived a good, long life!    

Cynthia’s Attic Series

The Missing Locket

The Magic Medallion

Curse of the Bayou

The Magician’s Castle 

Mary Cunningham is author of the award-winning tween fantasy/mystery series, Cynthia’s Attic that was inspired by a recurring dream about a mysterious attic. After realizing that the dream took place in the home of her childhood friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began. Four books have been published in the series: The Missing Locket, The Magic Medallion, Curse of the Bayou, and The Magician’s Castle.

She is also co-writer of the humor-filled lifestyle book titled, “Women Only Over Fifty (WOOF),” along with a published short story, “Ghost Light,” and a “Cynthia’s Attic” short story, “Christmas With Daisy.”

Cunningham is a member of The Georgia Reading Association, the Carrollton Creative Writers Club, and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club. When she gives her fingers a day away from the keyboard, she enjoys golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia where she makes her home with her husband. Together they’ve raised three creative children and enjoy spending time with their granddaughter. 

Cynthia’s Attic: The Magician’s Castle (Book Four): Sebastien the Great, a magician whose fiancée, Kathryn, disappears through the magic trunk, vows revenge. If Cynthia and Gus don’t find a missing page from the “Book of Spells,” Cynthia’s family could face financial and personal ruin. 

The twelve-year-old best friends walk through miles of tree tunnels, stumble on an enchanted garden ruled by a cranky rock monster, and receive clues from an eccentric fairy named Eloise Elloway. They get the surprise of their lives when they’re sent fifty years into the future, have a shocking encounter with another set of best friends, and gather a fresh set of clues that could lead to breaking the magician’s spell.   

Mary Cunningham Books

Cynthia’s Attic Blog

Amazon

Echelon Press

OmniLit

Cynthia’s Attic: The Magician’s Castle – Amazon Link:  

http://www.amazon.com/Magicians-Castle-Mary-Cunningham/dp/1590806565/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259331208&sr=1-3

Cynthia’s Attic: The Magician’s Castle Blog Tour 2011

http://cynthiasattic.blogspot.com/2011/02/cynthias-attic-magicians-castle-2011.html

Feb 23, 2011 – Quake Blog


Feb. 28, 2011 Book promoJennifer Wylie Blog

Mar 2, 2011InterviewWriter J. A. Campbell Blog

March 2, 2011 Inspiration The Writing Mama Blog

March 3, 2011 Brick by BrickThe Children’s & Teens Book ConnectionTC & TBC

March 4, 2011 Cynthia’s Attic, Werewolves and VampiresThe Candid Canine Blog

Featured Author Interview-Summer 2011 issue of Stories for Children Magazine –V.S. Grenier, Editor V S Grenier



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Cynthia’s Attic: Christmas with Daisy, an Echelon Short by Mary Cunningham

It’s not too late to pick up a fun, short Christmas read with “Cynthia’s Attic: Christmas with Daisy” by Mary Cunningham.

It’s Christmas, 1964, and a reclusive aunt nicknamed “Crazy Daisy” is spending the holidays with Cynthia’s family. But is she really crazy? Gus and Cynthia are determined to find out, but are unexpectedly transported back to 1914, where they learn a quick lesson on the dangers of jumping to conclusions, and where compassion and friendship give new meaning to the spirit of Christmas.

Having recently finished, The Magician’s Castle, Book 4 in the Cynthia’s Attic series by Mary Cunningham, I was eager to read this short story download from Echelon, which I won during the author’s virtual book tour. 

As delightful as the series, we follow the girls on their latest time-traveling adventure, learning more about them and their family as we go along. Cunningham has added a new aspect to this book by having the girls sent back in time without the assistance of the magic trunk in Cynthia’s attic, so it will be interesting to see what the author plans for future books in the series.

A fun and inspiring story of the season, your tween will enjoy “Christmas with Daisy”.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Echelon Press
  • ISBN: 1-59080-711-1
  • PDF or HTML-Web formats
  • Price: $2.50


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Cynthia’s Attic: Book 4, The Magician’s Castle by Mary Cunningham

 Cynthia and Gus return in Book 4 of the Cynthia’s Attic series, The Magician’s CastleThe time-traveling duo return to the year 1914, this time to a Swiss Castle, in order to prevent Cynthia’s family from financial and personal ruin.

Sebastien the Great, a magician whose fiancee, Kathyrn, disappeared through the magic trunk vows revenge if Cynthia and Gus don’t find the missing page from the “Book of Spells”. Traveling back in time to 1914 to meet with Sebastien’s grandmother, Eva, Cynthia and Gus find clues that lead them to an enchanted garden ruled by a rock monster and into the Alps.

But when the girls travel fifty years into the future, not only do they get the surprise of their young lives, they also encounter another set of best friends, and discover new clues that could lead to Kathyrn’s return.

There is much to enjoy in this imaginative and delightful time-traveling tale. Gus (real name Augusta Lee) and Cynthia are two best friends who couldn’t be more different if they tried; yet their friendship works, even when they get on one another’s nerves from time to time. This book opens in 1964, and many of the historical references were familiar to me, so that made it especially fun. 

With The Magician’s Castle, Cunningham has created a uniquely woven tale of lost love, jealousy, mystery, and strange discoveries. Though this is the first book of this series that I’ve read, I was certainly able to climb into Gus and Cynthia’s world right away. Cunningham sprinkled in enough backstory so that I had a some idea of how Gus and Cynthia had discovered the magic trunk in Cynthia’s attic and learned a bit of their previous adventures, while not slowing down the pace of the current day events. 

Once the reader opens the cover of The Magician’s Castleshe won’t want to put it down until she reads the final page.  With numerous twists and turns, this is one time-traveling adventure that is sure to please readers and find them impatiently waiting for the next Gus and Cynthia adventure.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Echelon Press/Quake
  • ISBN-10: 1590806565
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590806562
  • SRP:  $10.99
  • Find our interview with Mary Cunningham, author of the Cynthia’s Attic series, here.



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