Blogging at 4RV Blog


Yesterday was the fourth Wednesday of the month, so I blogged at the 4RV blog – 4RV Reading, Writing, & Art News. This week’s topic was holiday book marketing. Yes, it is that time of year. You can find my post at

Interview with Sheila Hendrix, Author of The Betrayal

Joining us today is Sheila Hendrix, author of YA parnormal novel, The Betrayal. She is a native of Alabama and resides there with her husband of sixteen years. She has no children except for her pets. She is the author of the Young Adult paranormal series, The Dark Circle. We’ll talk to her about her writing, the rewards and challenges for writing for the YA market, and what the future holds.

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

Thanks for having me. I’m 46 years old. I’m a nurse at a psychiatric hospital. I’m married to a wonderful man, I love animals and I have eight dogs. I love to read, write, hike, camp, travel and garden. I do reviews for Affair De Coeur magazine.  

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I’ve always wanted to write. I just didn’t think I could. It’s always been my dream. 

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

I love teens. I’ve worked with them for years and I like to give them something they will truly love. Also YA is very popular right now. When I started The Betrayal I knew I had found my niche. 

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

I enjoy coming up with new ideas. Kids are very impressionable and so it’s a challenge to find ways to get them excited. The greatest challenge is keeping it geared toward teens.

Keeping plots and storylines in order. LOL!  

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

It’s about love, loyalty, two brothers who’d do anything they have to, to ensure the other is safe. It’s about family and sacrifice, heartache and triumph.

When Zachariah and Matthew McCannon were young, their parents abandoned them, leaving Zack to take care of his little brother, Matt. Though they lived with their grandmother, she was always sick, so Zack was forced to raise him. This was not an easy task. 

Zack had his hands full because of Matt’s unusual powers. He has visions and dreams that come true, and when he gets angry or upset, he can move things with his mind. Because of this, evil seeks him, keeping Zack on his toes as his protector. 

As the brothers grew older, they became hunters, pursuing evil supernatural forces. After Matthew has a dream, it sends them on a hunt for cave, not knowing why, but realizing it is necessary. When they arrive, Matt finds the vision was a trap. 

A Darkness like no other wants to control Matt and kill Zack. The Darkness is named, Alanya, which means, The Destroyer. 

Alanya hates the brothers. In the past, every time he tried to apprehend Matt, Zack would thwart him by protecting his brother. Alanya is incensed that a mere human boy can beat him, for demons are not to be defied.

 When Alanya asks Zack, “How far will you go to save your brother?” Zack answers, “As far as I have to.” 

Now, the brothers are faced with a deadly force they never had to deal with before. This demon is on a deadly mission to destroy everything the brothers hold dear. If the McCannon’s are not careful, neither of them will be able to escape. 

What inspired you to write it?

I actually had a nightmare and when I calmed down I thought how it would make a great book. 

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Amazon right now. In about a month it will be available Barnes and Noble, Books a Million, Borders, etc. 

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes I do. 

What is up next for you?

I’m working on the second book in The Dark Circle series. The first was The Betrayal. The name of the second is Head Games

Do you have anything else to add?

I would just like to thank you for letting me be here with you today! 

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



Writing for Young Adults by Stephen Masse, Author of Short Circus

Today’s guest blogger is Stephen Masse, author of the young adult novel, Short Circus.

Twelve-year-old Jem Lockwood has been fatherless for four years and finally gets a Big Brother, but just as the best summer of his life is about to begin, he discovers that Jesse Standish’s rented house is about to be sold. Jem does all in his daring imagination to make Jesse’s house unmarketable, and the neighborhood unfit for prospective buyers. This three-ring circus romps with Jem’s boyhood friends and older brother Chris, all recognizable kids who share in the rough-and-tumble delight of living in a northern Massachusetts city whose newspaper is delivered by kids on bikes, where kids play in the streets, and the local convenience store is owned by the family of Jesse’s girlfriend, Andrea. Sadly the city’s swimming pond has been sabotaged, and the city has to close it to all recreation after two boys are injured. Jem is sure he knows who did it, and helps carry out a plan to punish the evildoer. 

Since Stephen also writes books for adults, I asked him to discuss the similiarities and differences in writing for two markets. Here’s what he had to say:

I’d have to admit I’m not an authority on writing for young adults.

What I do know is that it’s always a good idea to read a manuscript to a few kids before publishing. It could be an imperfect test, since your voice or personality may carry a flawed story – but in general kids will stop you cold in the middle of a sentence if logic, character, plausibility or relevance are lacking. When reading an excerpt of Short Circus to my 12 year old cousin, she caught me on a few points that surprised me – mostly because I had been blind to them. But even when a book has been polished, edited, copy-edited and published, it would be complete folly to assume all kids in the targeted audience will enjoy it, or find it relevant. Short Circus has a market mostly for boys between the ages of 12 and 16 who have struggled with loss or abandonment of a parent, grandparent, or guardian. Having said that, I find it amusing that adults are getting a kick out of the book, too. One reader e-mailed me that “reading Short Circus was like taking a hit on the crack pipe of childhood memories.” 

To my mind, writing for adults and young readers is different only in the matter of choosing the subject and audience. The quality of the writing has to be excellent for either audience. Many classic stories are read by both children and adults. Obviously stories about children will be of more interest to children, and stories with adult themes will be of more interest to adults. The bottom line is for writers to trust their instincts and also trust their test readers.

Stephen V. Masse was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He wrote his first novelat age 13, handwritten into a school composition book.

Educated at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he studied creative writing, and was author of a weekly newspaper column, “Out of Control.” His first novel for children, Shadow Stealer, was published by Dillon Press in 1988. Short Circus is his second novel for children.

In addition to children’s books, Masse has written A Jolly Good Fellow, winner of the Silver Medal in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, as well as honorable mention in the 2008 New England Book Festival for best books of the holiday season.

You can read more about Stephen and his work at



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The Importance of Book Promotion–Interview with Cheryl Malandrinos and Giveaway by Linda Weaver Clarke

Imagine my surprise when I received an email this morning from my friend, Linda Weaver Clarke, who asked me to post about an international giveaway she is running at her blog, along with a short interview with little ole me.

“Linda teaches a workshop that helps others to put their family history into a variety of interesting stories.”

You can find out more about Linda’s Family Legacy workshops by visiting her website.

In coordination with our interview on “The Importance of Promoting Your Book”, Linda is offering a copy of her Family Legacy Booklet, as a giveaway.

Learn the most important elements of writing. Do you need help getting started writing your family history, autobiography, or want to develop your writing skills? Discuss setup, characters, plot, the importance of conflict and emotion. The secret of holding a reader is using emotion; it’s the difference between a slow or a lively recounting of a story. Make your ancestors come alive on paper. Make your family legacy something your children will be proud of.

This booklet contains the same rules for fiction and non-fiction writing.

The Family Legacy Booklet giveaway runs from May 5th through May 15th. You can read our interview and find details on the giveaway by visiting Linda’s blog.

You can meet Linda in person at the following locations:

May 2010

5th: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Workshop at Tucker Branch Library, 5234 La Vista Rd., Tucker, Georgia, Contact library at 770-270-8234

8th: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Workshop at Roswell Library, 115 Norcross Street, Roswell, Georgia. Contact library at 770-640-3075

My thanks goes out to Linda for hosting me today.

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Colonel Trash Truck by Kathleen Crawley

colonel-coverEncourage your kids to become part of Colonel Trash Truck’s Clean and Green Team with this new rhyming book by Kathleen Crawley that teaches kids in a fun way about the importance of recycling.

Colonel Trash Truck travels the streets with his Clean and Green Team to help win the war on garbage.  From leaves to litter, from doo to scum, Colonel Trash wants to keep the world beautiful.  But he needs your help, so save the trees, recycle and reuse whenever possible.

Every parent, grandparent, care giver, Preschool or Kindergarten teacher who wants to encourage young children to “Go Green” will want to pick up a copy of Colonel Trash Truck by Kathleen Crawley.  In this charming and fun rhyming book, Crawley helps youngsters realize they can do their part and it doesn’t have to be hard at all.  Using children’s fascination with large trucks, the author has created a lovable character in Colonel Trash Truck–a lovable character with a mission. 

The adorable and vibrant illustrations provided by Manuel Conde will catch the eyes of young readers and make them want to know more about this big, smart-looking truck.  My favorite character is the litter bug, who you’ll also find gracing the back cover.

While some books for kids  about recycling can be too strong in their message, Crawley weaves her message in a subtle manner with a lyrical prose that will definitely make a big impression on them.

I highly recommend this book and can’t wait until the next ones in this series come out!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Big Tent Books
  • ISBN-10: 1601310331
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601310330
  • SRP:  $14.95
  •  Pump-Up-Your-Book-sig

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    Interview with Melissa Burmester, Author of the Young Adult Fantasy Novel Ginger High


    Joining us today is the talented author behind the young adult fantasy novel, Ginger High. We’ll talk to Melissa Burmester about her debut release, the challenges of being a young novelist and what her future plans are.

    Welcome Melissa.  We’re excited to have you here.  Why don’t you start by telling our readers a bit about yourself?  When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

    I don’t remember but I have always been writing short stories. It just comes out, sometimes I don’t even know that I am writing.

    Now at 14, you’ve already published your first novel.  How do you feel about that?  Is it all exciting or are there parts about being published so young that are scary too?

    I feel… normal about it. I feel the same like before I published it. When I get a bad review I get sad but a couple of minutes later I would just shrug it off. The scariest part is if I have to do a live interview either on the phone on television. I am really shy and I don’t talk much unless I feel really comfortable around someone.

    Tell us about Ginger High?Ginger_High

    Ginger High is about a school that is for students with powers. Some of them can control air, fire, and some come heal. There is also an alternate universe called Animist where the people with powers resign. In this book, a group of students and their friends have to solve a murder that has been happening for years.

    Where did you find the inspiration for this story?

    Mew Mew Power. This anime show was my inspiration for the alternate world. Also I watched Angel and I loved it.

    How long did it take you to bring this book from the first draft to the final published product?

    It took about two years for everything. For the first draft I worked with it for a year then another year for the second draft and the editing.

    Tell us about your main characters. Why will readers relate to them? What will they like about them?

    Some readers might find some of the characters relationships like their own. There are a lot of friend problems between some of the characters. Also, some will not give up a relationship even if the other person wants them to.

    Where can readers purchase a copy of Ginger High?

    You can go to

    Do you have a website or blog?

     My website is J

    What is up next for you?  Any plans to release another book in the future?

    I am working on the rewrite of Ginger High 2 right now. After that I might rewrite two other books that I wrote last year. J

    Thanks for spending time with us Melissa.  I hope you’ll come back and visit us again soon.  Good luck with your book!



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    Tips for Writing for the Young Adult Genre by Marcus Dino


    Perhaps more of a prequel than a sequel to Marcus Dino’s electrifying Hollywood novel, Fifi Anything Goes in the Doubles Os (Iuniverse 2003, Airleaf 2005) Diary of a Mad Gen Yer focuses on the hilarious adventures of 21st century actress/heroine Fifi Larouche; her silly poems, her silly stories, her silly blogs, during her days working as a waitress while pursuing her dreams of Hollywood fame.

    Gen Yer also introduces colorful new characters such as Alocki, the alien from the planet Zatoris and “the smartest person Fifi ever met”, Flifi, Fifi’s’ “fairy alter ego” from the “Alternate Earth” who gives people advice but has a little stinger on her tail and stings people who do wrong and throws pixie dust on people who do right, and Dick, an evolutionary scientist who enjoys arguing religion with Fifi and is a “proud atheist”.

    Of course many of the major characters in Fifi such as Biff, Fifi’s bohemian actor/software engineer boyfriend and Charles, Fifi’s domineering college professor father who thinks Fifi is wasting her time in “ala land” and needs to come back to her hometown of Des Moines Iowa to work as a banker, are back in Gen Yer.

    While Fifi tended at times to focus on Fifi’s serious side, Gen Yer almost exclusively focuses on Fifi’s comical adventures, and her “silly thoughts” and will keep readers laughing from beginning to end.

    Tips for Writing for the Young Adult Genre by Marcus Dino 

    Perhaps because of my secondary school teaching background, perhaps because I live in La La land, perhaps because I have grown up on so many movies and television shows throughout the years emphasizing young adult life, for example all these teenage horror flicks we have had the last 50 years starting from I was a Teenage Werewolf to The Final Destination, my focus in creative writing has been the young adult genre.  Here are some tips that I have used in the two young adult books I have written, Fifi and Diary of a Mad Gen Yer, that I wish to share with you.

    Make your characters as interesting as possible.  You can write another novel about a teenage vampire or werewolf even though 20 other authors have written about the same subject as you have.  Perhaps your teenage vampire gets accepted into Harvard where he majors in biochemistry.  To help pay his tuition he lands a part time job where he works as a lab assistant.  Of course the hospital also has a place where he has access to “his nourishment” and he doesn’t have to chase “warm bodies”.  A decade later he becomes one of the youngest Nobel Prize winners because of his research which led to the development of ‘artificial blood.’ 

    Of course take your characters from real life examples, say your best friend back in high school who was a little bit on the stuck up side, your real life ups and downs as a twenty something, that unforgettable prom night, your college-age son describing  his “frat party”, remember Animal House

    Develop a riveting, not necessarily complex, plot in order to capture a reader’s attention.  Your story needs to capture a reader’s attention at the very beginning with your introduction.  Also, good dialogue between characters gets the reader interested in the story as much as a riveting plot.   For instance what line is going to capture a reader’s attention more?  “So Fifi are you going to the party tonight over at Dirk Van Allen’s parents place?” or “Omigosh Fif, you cannot, cannot miss the big party at Dirk Van Allen’s folks place tonight.  It is the rad thing to do and I mean every cool kid in school is gonna be there.  I mean Fif you don’t want to be like one of the geeks and stay home and watch TV tonight do you?” 

    In my opinion don’t overly stress current popular culture with young people today.  We’re talking nanoseconds when we discuss the life span today of any big fad among young people.  This year’s big name singer or pop group or actor may be passé next year. 

    I enjoy writing young adult books because it is such a fun and rewarding experience.  There is no limit to one’s imagination when creating a colorful story and interesting characters when you are writing fiction dealing with young adults. 

    Marcus Dino has had an interesting professional career, first as an Aerospace engineer, next as a passionate math teacher teaching in urban Los Angeles which he currently still does, and finally, as a part time literary fiction author.  It is Mr Dino’s being a die hard movie buff that led him to writing Diary of a Mad Gen Yer in addition to his first novel, Fifi, Anything goes in the Double Os, first published in 2003.  Mr Dino is a graduate of Chapman University and he also has Masters Degrees in both Education and Electrical Engineering.  Diary of a Mad Gen Yer and Fifi can be found at and  Mr Dino’s personal website which includes numerous blogs, short stories, and poems involving his central character Fifi Larouche, which helped inspire him to write his anthology, Diary, can be found at

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