Interview with Author Joseph Bruchac, Author of Brothers of the Buffalo (Giveaway)

buffalo authorJoseph Bruchac is an internationally acclaimed Native American storyteller and writer who has authored more than 70 books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for adults and children. His writings have appeared in more than 500 publications, including National Geographic, Parabola, and Smithsonian. He is the author of the novels Dawn Land and Long River and is the coauthor of the Keepers of the Earth series. He lives in Greenfield Center, New York.

Visit the author online at http://josephbruchac.com/ or https://twitter.com/JosephBruchac

Your new YA novel, Brothers of the Buffalo, is a historical fiction tale of the Red River War. What captivated you about this particular moment in American history?

Although the so-called “Indian Wars” would not conclude until two decades later when the last of the Chiricahua Apaches surrendered, the Red River War marks the beginning of the end insofar as armed resistance to the United States government goes. It was the last major coalition of different tribes put together to resist militarily–like King Phillip, Pontiac and Tecumseh did in previous centuries. The fact that it was largely done to attempt to save the American bison (and the way of life of the Plains nations) from being destroyed makes it even more memorable. Another part of this story, which has long fascinated me, is that on the United States side a very large role was played by the 10th Cavalry, made up entirely of African American soldiers (with the exception of their white officers), some of them former slaves and veterans of the American Civil War. However, what I think drew me the most to this war is that it led, quite directly, to the creation of the American Indian Boarding Schools that would deeply impact the lives of virtually all Native American communities, an impact still being felt to this day. Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt, an officer of the 10th and the man placed in charge of the Native American POWs sent to Florida after the Red River War would experiment with “civilizing” those men and go on to found the Carlisle Indian School which had the stated objective of “killing the Indian and saving the man,” nothing less than cultural genocide.

Brothers of the Buffalo is written about two drastically different young men, Wolf and Wash. What inspired you to write from both perspectives and did you find it challenging? Did you have a favorite character?

I chose to approach the story from those different perspectives because I felt that the complexity of this story deserved more than one POV. One of the oldest sayings in a number of Native American communities is that we have two ears on either side of our head so that we can hear more than one side of every story. I believed that a reader would understand the story better by having more than one voice to hear and that it would provide more depth to the history being told. What you see often depends on where you stand. I was given a great deal of help in writing this story from any number of directions–people in the Cheyenne community, for example, such as my friend for more than 4 decades Lance Henson. I also was fortunate enough to have been part of the American Civil Rights movement in the 60s, to have lived in Ghana, West Africa as a teacher for three years, to have had the privilege of teaching African American and African literature and to count more people than I can easily count in Africa and the African diaspora as close, dear friends. All that experience did not make it easy to inhabit such different characters, but it did make it easier. I’d also been researching and writing about parts of this story or events before and after that tie into it–such as the Civil War and the Carlisle Indian school–for decades before I began to work on this manuscript.

Insofar as a favorite character goes, I guess I feel so strongly about both my main narrators that it is impossible to say that one of them was my favorite. But beyond those two young men, I think the person I found most interesting and most fascinating in this story–is Richard Henry Pratt–even though I disagree DEEPLY with the conclusions he drew about how to deal with the “Indian Problem.”

Brothers of the Buffalo is infused with both first-person letters from Wash and songs and proverbs from Native American culture. Could you tell us what you hope readers will take away from both?buffalo

My idea in including the songs and proverbs was to offer greater depth and more insight into both characters and the cultures to which they belong. In Wash’s case it is both African and African American. When I lived in West Africa I was often told that every human being is not just part of a family he or she IS their family. And I have also often been told by Native American elders that community, oral tradition, and family make us who we are. The use of letters is a great way to both tell a story and provide insight into the persons writing those letters, both in what they say and what they do not say as it is projected against the larger canvas of the overall story. In addition, I think those stories from the backgrounds of both my main characters are great stories, worth reading on their own, proof of the sophistication and intellectual complexity of cultures (African, Native, African American) that were usually portrayed as innocent, uncultured, uncivilized and ignorant in the 19th century when this story takes place–and, sadly, still sometimes pictured that way in the 20th and even 21st centuries.

What motivates you to write for young adults?

I began as a poet, writing for adults, with my first book in 1971. I still write and publish poetry, but when my two sons were born in the 70s I began to write down the stories I told them, largely traditional tales that were lessons stories–enjoyable to hear, but filled with meaning. I was delighted, not just by the way my books were received, but by the effect I saw them having on young people. I then began writing for middle grade and YA readers and had a similar experience. I believe that some of the best writing being done today is being done for young adult readers. You honestly do not have to hold anything back when writing for them. They are sophisticated enough to understand and appreciate complexity, but also very much in need of good literature. (At this point I could break into a long tribute to reading and what it does for us, young and old, but I shall restrain myself.) I still write for all audiences, from the very young to the adult reader. But, more and more, I am finding the deepest satisfaction in creating books for YA audiences.

What are you hoping readers will take away from Brothers of the Buffalo as a whole?

One of my hopes is that they will better understand a period of history that is often neglected and see that history through very different eyes–the eyes of a young Cheyenne fighting for his family and culture, the eyes of a young African American soldier who is just as deeply committed to family and freedom as is his Native counterpart. In the end (an end of the story that is not at all fantastic but reflective of documented history) the two of them physically arrive at the same place–seeing each other not as enemies, but as equally human. I hope my readers may arrive at a similar place, perhaps with a broader perspective on some of the issues faced by my two heroes–issues of race, class, Native American and human rights still being played out today.

For more information, visit the book’s page at Fulcrum Publishing website.

Purchase the book at  Indie BoundAmazonBarnes and NobleBooks-A-Million.

 

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Cover Reveal: Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer

 

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Publisher: Kensington Teen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: Ebook/Paperback

One misstep and they lose it all. For the last time.

Michael Merrick is used to pressure.

He’s the only parent his three brothers have had for years. His power to control Earth could kill someone if he miscalculates. Now an Elemental Guide has it out for his family, and he’s all that stands in the way.

His girlfriend, Hannah, gets that. She’s got a kid of her own, and a job as a firefighter that could end her life without a moment’s notice.

But there are people who have had enough of Michael’s defiance, his family’s “bad luck.” Before he knows it, Michael’s enemies have turned into the Merricks’ enemies, and they’re armed for war.

They’re not interested in surrender. But Michael isn’t the white flag type anyway. There will be blood on the ground tonight…

 

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Brigid KemmererBrigid Kemmerer was born in Omaha, Nebraska, though her parents quickly moved her all over the United States, from the desert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to the lakeside in Cleveland, Ohio, and several stops in between, eventually settling near Annapolis, Maryland. Brigid started writing in high school, and her first real “novel” was about four vampire brothers causing a ruckus in the suburbs. Those four brothers are the same boys living in the pages of The Elemental Series, so Brigid likes to say she’s had four teenage boys taking up space in her head for the last seventeen years. (Though sometimes that just makes her sound nuts.)

Brigid writes anywhere she can find a place to sit down (and she’s embarrassed to say a great many pages of The Elemental Series were written while sitting on the floor in the basement of a hotel while she was attending a writers’ conference). Most writers enjoy peace and quiet while writing, but Brigid prefers pandemonium. A good thing, considering she has three boys in the house, ranging in age from an infant to a teenager.

While writing STORM, it’s ironic to note that Brigid’s personal life was plagued by water problems: her basement flooded three times, her roof leaked, her kitchen faucet broke, causing the cabinet underneath to be destroyed by water, the wall in her son’s room had to be torn down because water had crept into the wall, and her bedroom wall recently developed a minor leak. Considering SPARK, book 2 in the series, is about the brother who controls fire, Brigid is currently making sure all the smoke detectors in her house have batteries.

Brigid loves hearing from people, and she probably won’t refer to herself in the third person like this if you actually correspond with her. She has a smartphone surgically attached to her person nearby at all times, and email is the best way to reach her. Her email address is brigidmary@gmail.com.

Visit her at http://www.brigidkemmerer.com/

 

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Free EBook: The Place of Voices by Lauren Lynch

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Anna is devastated by a fire that leaves her orphaned. Brendan struggles with a life limited by crippling illness. Tzutz Nik faces an arranged marriage to the prince of a ruthless dynasty. A mysterious invitation gives them each an opportunity to escape their struggles for a while and view their lives from new perspectives.

Deep in a remote jungle, amid long-forgotten ancient ruins, three unlikely time travelers collide. In the shadows, a relentless evil presence lurks, threatening to lead them astray. Will they triumph over their adversary or be trapped in his web of lies? Sometimes it takes a journey through time to learn the true meaning of sacrifice.

File Size: 1747 KB
Print Length: 260 pages
Publication Date: June 27, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00LCN212O

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Interview with Christopher Nuttall, Author of ‘Trial By Fire’

nuttall_pix_med (1)Christopher Nuttall was born in Edinburgh, studied in Manchester, married in Malaysia and currently living in Scotland, United Kingdom, with his wife and baby son. He is the author of 20 novels from various publishers and thirty-nine self-published novels. More than 100,000 ebooks in theSchooled in Magic series have sold since March 2014.

Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Trial By Fire, Book 7 in your Schooled in Magic series. When did you start writing and what got you into fantasy? 

Well, I started writing seriously around 2004-2005 and … well, I write the sort of books I like to read. I began with a military thriller, then went through alternate history and alien invasion before starting to experiment with fantasy. Frankly, I’m still fond of all four genres, although military science-fiction is probably my favorite. 

What is your book about? 

Oh, a hard question.

The Schooled in Magic series follows the adventures of Emily, a teenage girl from our world who is accidentally kidnapped by a necromancer and swept into an alternate world where magic is real, dragons fly through the sky and young magicians are sent to boarding schools to learn magic. But it’s also a series about the introduction of new ideas into a static society and just what happens when those ideas are developed, then start to mutate.

Trial By Fire follows Emily as the repercussions of her actions in earlier books finally come back to haunt her, putting her at the center of a deadly plot that will force her to fight for her life – or die at the hands of a relentless enemy.

What type of challenges did you face while writing this book? 

Making it convincing, alas.

Ok, that sounds absurd; fantasy is not, by definition, convincing. A world where someone can be turned into a toad with a snap of a witch’s fingers isn’t our world. However, it does have to follow its own logic – and, if that logic is violated, people tend to protest. (They also protest if humans don’t act like humans, although creatures like Elves get a free pass – they’re not human.)

TrialByFire_med1One very notable example comes from Harry Potter (I use this because most of my readers will probably be familiar with the series.) In Goblet of Fire, Harry is forced to compete in a deadly contest that could easily leave him dead … apparently because having his name put in the titular Goblet creates a magically-binding contract that enforces participation. But we know Harrydidn’t put his name in the Goblet … which raises questions about how the contract was binding in the first place. (And why, if you can create a contract binding someone, they don’t use it on the Dark Lord.)

(Personally, I tend to think that Dumbledore was the one under contract; he’d sworn to make sure anyone whose name came out of the Goblet had to compete, which would have included Harry as well as the other guy. And it would be perfectly in character for Dumbledore to keep mum about this and push Harry forward.)

In Trial By Fire, I worked hard to put together a trap for Emily that wouldn’thave a thinking fan banging his head off the wall. I hope I succeeded. 

What do you hope readers will get from your book? 

Well, I hope they will have an enjoyable story.

Let’s be honest here. I’m not trying to write something that will echo down the ages, something with the staying power of the Foundation series. I’m writing so my readers will have fun reading the books. If they learn something about the importance of technology, the spread of ideas and just what can happen when whole new approaches are explored … well, that’s a bonus. 

Did your book require a lot of research? 

The series absorbed a great deal of research <grin>. I actually spent years reading about the Middle Ages, just to flavor my work. The Allied Lands themselves have a great deal in common with Europe, particularly in the Reformation era. I studied how those societies worked, what drove them, how their people thought and what weakened them in the face of stronger enemies.

Of course, there are differences – the presence of functional magic, for a start. 

Many writers experience a vague anxiety before they sit down to right. Can you relate to this? 

Sometimes. Oddly, I feel it while crafting the next installment in a successful series.

Trial By Fire was originally intended to serve as the end of the first arc of novels set within the Schooled in Magicuniverse. I knew it had to be spectacular, the moment when Emily steps up and takes firm control of her life, and so I was nervous about actually having her do it. I hope it lives up to its purpose. 

Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined? 

Very disciplined. Truthfully, you don’t get anywhere in writing unless you’re disciplined.

I get up, eat breakfast and drink coffee, then get to work. I set myself a goal of three chapters a day, except for the first day; that generally takes around five hours. Then there’s the task of checking the beta reader comments and editing the manuscript. Between drafts, I generally try to move to something different or edit completed manuscripts. 

How do you define success? 

Success comes in the form of people buying my books and writing good (and thoughtful reviews). I know; I probably won’t win any major awards. (I did win the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards for Bookworm.) However, I’m happy with being paid and being told I did a good job. 

What do you love most about the writer’s life? 

I get to work from home, set my own hours and generally be my own boss. And then there’s the fact I get to meet fans, even if I am a little shy. 

Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work? 

I have a website, a blog, a mailing list and a Facebook fan page. <grin>

The website contains free samples – I try to give away at least a couple of chapters, sometimes as many as ten – and a number of older books that are completely free. They’re really ones I wrote during my first period as a writer; not good enough to be published, perhaps, but people liked them. A couple have even been rewritten for later publication.

The blog and Facebook page cover everything from my musings to fan comments and suchlike, allowing a degree of fan participation. All are welcome. The mailing list, however, is only for new releases – I believe in trying to avoid spamming people where possible.

Where is your book available?

The ebook version of Trial By Fire is available for purchase from Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstore, BN Nook, Kobo Books, OmniLit, etc.

The print version of Trial By Fire will be available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble Bookstores, Brodart, Coutts, Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Emery-Pratt, Follett, Ingram, The Book Despository, The Book House, etc.

Purchase links will be available on the chapter excerpt page.

What is your advice for aspiring authors? 

I think I’ve said this before, time and time again, but the best advice I can give is work hard, work hard and work hard. Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% hard work. It is very rare to get a first novel published, unless you have VERY strong connections with the publishing industry or a name you can exploit (and those books tend to be terrible). Eric Flint said you really need to write at least a million words before you have something worth reading and I tend to think he was right.

Once you have a manuscript, get a few readers to look at it and give you honest feedback. If they said “this sucks, because [insert reason here]” listen to them. They may be wrong, which is possible, or you may have failed to explain something properly. Either way, they should make you think about it … which is better than having a review that boils down to “this author is an idiot.”

And grow a thick skin. You’ll need it. 

Anything else you’d like to tell my readers? 

I offer cameos for anyone who reads a book and reports an error to me. All (again) welcome.

My interview was originally published in Blogcritics Magazine.

Book Review: Escape Through The Wilderness by Gary Rodriguez

Escape Through the Wilderness cover

Action, adventure and friendship fill the pages of this debut young adult offering by Gary Rodriguez.

Escape Through The Wilderness finds Savannah (Savi) Evans, Jade Chang, Rico Cruz, and Conner Swift in peril when a white-water rafting adventure at Camp Arrowhead separates them from their guide. When they finally pull themselves out of the water, the bruised, beaten, and lost teens must traverse twenty-five miles of wilderness to make it back to camp; complicated by the threat of Vexel, a vicious animal that Savi believes is stalking them.

This is one of those books that I could easily see as a movie. Action and adventure fill its pages, while the difficulty of four diverse teens trying to work together to get back to safety provides plenty of conflict. And let’s not forget about Vexel, whose pursuit of the teens as they traverse unfamiliar territory adds suspense.

Though not new to publishing, Rodriguez is new to the YA market. It seems a natural fit for him. His character development and plot will attract many. It would be great if he could find some way to turn this into a series: either keeping the same four teens and using their summer vacations to set them up for additional adventures, or using Camp Arrowhead as the place for new adventures by a different group of teens.

I would definitely recommend Escape Through The Wilderness if you like adventure, action, suspense, and stories surrounding legends.

For More Information

I received a free copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

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Coming in April: One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart

stolen

Something is not right with Nadia Cara. While spending a year in Florence, Italy, she’s become a thief. She has secrets. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom only she has seen. Can Nadia be rescued or will she simply lose herself altogether? Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is a celebration of language, beauty, imagination, and the salvation of love.

5 5/8 x 8 1/8 in; 280 pp;
Hardcover
April 2015
ISBN 9781452128313

Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of books for both adults and young readers, includingGoing Over, You Are My Only, Small Damages, and Handling the Truth. She lives in Devon, Pennsylvania.

The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu

empty

A gripping, emotional story of a young woman’s journey to belong and be free to pursue her dreams is what you’ll find in The Secret Side of Empty by Marie E. Andreu.

A straight-A student on her way to becoming valedictorian, M.T. watches while her friends get their driver’s licenses and make college plans. As an undocumented immigrant, M.T. lives in constant fear of being found out, while coping with her domineering, paranoid father who believes her education is a waste of time. Not even her best friend, Chelsea, knows the truth.

Pressure mounts as the National Honor Society wants M.T. to plan their trip abroad and M.T. begins a relationship with Nate knowing she will never fit into his perfect, wealthy, all-American life. Can M.T. learn to trust herself and others to stake claim to the life she wants?

Drawing on her own experience as a formerly undocumented immigrant, Andreu creates a superbly told, thought-provoking story that tugs at every heart string. Readers will be captivated by this young woman’s plight of seeking dreams just outside of her grasp and diminished by her militant father whose only desire is to earn enough money to return to the country of his birth, ripping M.T. away from the only land she has ever called home.

While illegal immigration is a highly politicized topic, The Secret Side of Empty isn’t a story about undocumented immigrants. It’s the story of a girl growing up in America who has to hide a secret that can end life as she knows it. It’s the story of friendship and learning to trust others. It’s a story of family and how they shape us; how they can hold us back and often how they lift us up. While I definitely believe this novel will challenge beliefs about illegal immigration, in the end, readers will remember The Secret Side of Empty because of its believable and inspiring heroine.

Highly recommended!

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Running Press Kids (March 11, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0762451920
ISBN-13: 978-0762451920

I received a copy of this book from the author’s publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.