Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sahar Sabati, Author of Spirit Within Club

spirit within club, sahar sabati, series, coming of age, community development, personal development, service, young adult, YA
Today we are interviewing Sahar Sabati, author of the middle grade / young adult book Spirit Within Club.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences. 
The second volume in the Spirit Within Club series continues where the first one left off; the characters are still trying to figure out how to make the world a better place.  But they are a year older; emotions are becoming weightier, responsibilities are slowly increasing, and injustices strike closer to the heart.

What made you decide to write a book about finding the “spirit within” when faced with obstacles?
Drama seems to be the primary plot booster nowadays, be it in books, music, movies, or television shows.  It gives the impression that the world is fuelled by drama when really, it isn’t.  Similarly, a lot of attention is given to negative news; why is there so much about the bad choices that preteens and teenagers make and not more on the ones making the difficult, good choices?  And, finally, there is a focus on the world being saved by a Messiah-like figure armed with superpowers—from Harry Potter to Superman.  But the world is fuelled by the daily, often menial but still vital actions of the billions of regular people that live on this planet; if anyone is going to save us, it is those of us who tap into the spirit within.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?

Anyone who looks at the state of the world and feels helpless, whatever their age may be, will end up cheering for the characters in this series as they struggle to learn how to make a positive mark.  I also hope that it will inspire them to continue giving it their all.

Who was your favorite character to write?
Two of the characters are loosely based on my sisters; they were by far the most fun to write!

What is your favorite book and why?
I do not have an overall favorite book; I have a favorite “book of the moment” which currently is Jennifer Niven’s "All the Bright Places."  If you haven’t read it, you should.  It’s beautiful, inspiring, and will raise your awareness about a very real challenge we are facing: depression and suicide.

What genre do you read most frequently?

I tend to read a lot of non-fiction books based on whatever topic has piqued my curiosity.  I also love Young Adult and Women’s Fiction, and also regularly pick up books from the Mystery, Literature, and Sci-Fi shelves of the library.

How do you think you've evolved as a writer since when you first started?
I started writing when I was ten years-old; I had no idea what life was about and consequently, all my stories had massive plot holes in them!  I would like to think I have become better at tightening those.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of e-books?

Electronic books are wonderful!  While paper books remain my preferred option, e-books make reading more accessible on so many levels.  Anyone around the world with a smartphone can download an app and start reading, enlightening the thirsty minds of people around the world who would otherwise have no access to books.  It is also a lot easier to carry around a couple of books at the same time without hurting one’s shoulder!

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?

I would like to finish the seven volumes of the Spirit Within Club series; I would like to see it continue being used in Brazil as part of an empowerment programme, as well as spread to other countries in the world.  I also am going to write a couple of young adult books (one is already in the works!) as well as some women’s fiction books (again, one is already in the works!)  I hope that with every new book that I complete, my writing will have become significantly better and an increasing number of readers will be inspired.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

The first volume in the Spirit Within Club series is currently being used by a non-governmental organization in its empowerment programme for preteens between the ages of 12 and 15.  It is a dream come true: to be able to contribute to the betterment of society through writing so directly!

Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed for Writers' Interviews; I love hearing from readers, so if you pick up Spirit Within Club, please drop me a line on my Facebook page!

An excerpt from Spirit Within Club:
She shook her head. 
`I’m very dizzy,’ she whispered. 
`I’ll take her to the infirmary,’ said the teacher, picking Zafirah up. `You all stay put until I come back, you hear? I want the two heads of class to make sure no one misbehaves.’
Silence fell until the teacher had disappeared into the school. 
`Poor Zafirah,’ said Laura in a mocking voice. `If she didn’t have to wear that ridiculous getup . . .’ 
I don’t like Laura. She isn’t the nicest person around. She and her group are some of the people who tease Zafirah constantly. 
`Stop it,’ I snapped at her. 
`And why would I?’ Laura said. 
`Because you shouldn’t talk like that about someone who is so devoted to her faith,’ Egan said in a calm, soothing voice. `You should do your best to help her.’ 
`Why?’ Laura said, looking disgusted by the suggestion. `I’m not Muslim. I’m Christian. I don’t wear head scarves. I don’t think that it’s part of worshiping God. Mom says it’s a form of repression that keeps women from achieving equality with men. I don’t have to support it.’ 
`No, you don’t,’ agreed Egan. `But although we are all different and worship God in our own way, the spirit within is the same. That’s why you should be supportive of Zafirah because she is worshiping the same God as you, but in her own way.’ 
Arwen gasped. 
`What?’ I asked, worried. 
`That’s it,’ he said. `That’s the perfect name!’ 
`What name?’ I repeated. I really didn’t know what he was talking about. 
`The perfect name for our club,’ Arwen said. `The Spirit Within!’
More Information
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M. Anu Narasimhan, Author of The Little Parrot and the Angel's Tears

bedtime story, children, multicultural, picture book, M. Anu Narasimhan, The Little Parrot and the Angel's Tears
Today we are interviewing M. Anu Narasimhan about the picture book The Little Parrot and the Angel's Tears.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in India, raised in the Netherlands, and came here for my undergraduate studies. My mother used to think I was mad (verbatim) because I would just sit for hours and make up stories and then draw them in the air because I didn’t have paper handy. I’ve been writing and illustrating books ever since I can remember. However, this is the first time I’m actually allowing anyone else look and read my creations.

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.
The little parrot is very small. He’s smaller than his friend the elephant. He’s smaller than his friend the deer. He’s even smaller than his friend the rabbit. But when his friends and home are in danger, the little parrot decides he has to do something to help. Find out if the little parrot can save them from a big problem.

What inspired you to write The Little Parrot and the Angel’s Tears?

There are so few books that deal with everyday South Asian narratives and it is those stories that colour our everyday lives that I wanted to pass along to my children. I started out illustrating the stories so I would have a visual aid to tell my kids and that let to me writing The Little Parrot and The Angel’s Tears.

What was your approach to illustrating this story?

I wanted to use bright colours and draw upon Indian art as my inspiration. For example, I based the flames on the Indian mango motif which is a pattern used often not only in art, but in block prints and relief sculptures.

Were you a writer or illustrator first? Or did both talents evolve at the same time?

A bit of both, really. All my life I’ve been drawing or writing something. Sometimes an idea inspires me to write something and then make the illustrations accordingly, and other times I really want to paint something and then I create a story around it.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?

I’m hoping everyone will appreciate the book. While the story is South Asian, the underlying concept has a lot of heart and is something everyone can take inspiration from or feel kinship with.

Who was your favorite character to illustrate?

That’s a tough one, but I loved the elephant. It was much easier to show emotions on the elephant by using body language and facial expression than on the other animals. Additionally, I loved painting the banana trees. We had banana trees and mango trees in our yard when I lived in India and painting them always makes me smile.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

It’s a picture book, again, but this time with fewer words. It’s about how I used to play in the rain with my friends when I was a small girl. My kids love hearing about what I used to do when I was little and I decided to turn this one into a book as well. I’m about halfway done with the illustrations.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

Just that I hope they love the story of The Little Parrot and The Angel’s Tears as much as I do. It’s a story that stayed with me always, and helped me always keep faith in myself. I hope it does the same for them.
An excerpt from The Little Parrot and the Angel's Tears:
The Devtas couldn’t help but laugh at such a sight
It seemed to them that the parrot wasn’t very bright.

All but one Devta that is,

who couldn’t help but notice,

That the parrot tried keep his friends safe and sound

Regardless of his size or the dangers that abound.

More Information
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Buy the book on Amazon

Aaron Majewski, Co-Author of Bedmonsters Are Cool

bedmonsters are cool, aaron majewski, Lorain O’Neil, bedmonster, humor, fantasy, coming of age, interview, Young Adult Fantasy, YA, young adult
Today we are interviewing Aaron Majewski, co-author of the young adult fantasy book Bedmonsters Are Cool.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I am the author of several self-published novels mostly of the humor or 'monster' variety; as well as screenplays, stageplays and short stories. I am from Winnipeg Manitoba, and I have a mild dislike of (otherwise known as hate) the ice and snow, so that um, well I get by somehow during the winters!

Describe the plot of your new book in a few sentences.
Basically a young lady rips a hole in time in space, unleashing her very own personal bedmonster on herself and her friends. Then she must come to terms with her heritage of witchcraft while working out how to stuff him back through that tear and close it up... all while definitely not falling in love with her best friend.

You know, classic coming of age stuff.

What made you decide to write a Young Adult fantasy novel?

I enjoy the genera, it gives me as an author the opportunity to explore ideas and situations which would only merit a passing mention in more 'mature' settings, and really is just fun to write.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Anyone who likes their fantasy with a dash (or three) or humor, from teens to adults it has a little something for everyone.

What was it like writing with your co-author, Lorain O’Neil?
Lorain is a joy to work with, I think we complement each others strengths as writers (she loves to edit…as in slash and burn entire pages, and I hate editing)

She also pushes me to be a better writer; more in depth characterization, more on the nose dialog without being too ham fisted about it, just better polished work all around.

Who was your favorite character to write?
Oh Bedmonster, he or it as it were, was the perfect foil to the ‘strightman’ of Becca’s love interest.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

Lorain and I are working on a new fantasy novel, Terabithia, about a young woman's quest to find a mystical key which will put aright what has gone awry after the worlds of Fey and Humans collide.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
This book will absolutely positively without a doubt change your life in every single way!

Ok I am just kidding, sorry, but honestly it is just a good fun read. Sit down and spend the weekend with bedmonster’s antics, you will start your Monday with a smile on your face (and if not I don’t do refunds)

A Short Excerpt from Bedmonsters Are Cool, Chapter One:

He was hungry. He was very hungry. He was so HUNGRY.
The gnawing in his hunger-arm was a physical pain and had been for some time, he could no longer remember the last time he’d had a good meal, let alone been full.
The hunger drove him onward, made it impossible to be still. Loud rumbles from his eating-hands filled the air as he padded through the darkness of the Dust Bunny Caverns. The air was heavy and still and reeked of unwashed socks, moldy breadcrumbs (which his sub-species couldn’t digest), decomposing homework, and the acidic taint of Atomic Jazz.
Around him his sound-gathering arms detected the rustles of others of his kind, while his vibration-hairs detected the soft currents of the subworld’s power grid, the magical energy that filled his world and made the impossible probable. His seeing-hands could see nothing now though, because he was too hungry to manipulate light. Relentlessly he pushed on through the darkness on his walking-arms, searching, searching for anything that might sustain him for just a little longer.
His skin-shedder no longer believed in him or anything else that might come through a Door; he’d been unable to gather sustenance in that way for a very long time now and he was
reduced to trolling through the dregs of what drifted through Doors opened by others.
As he prowled through the caverns, BedMonster 1137465893 left his own kind behind, far behind, and moved into the unknown in his quest for food. This was a danger, for who knew what lurked within the darkness of the underworld? Who knew what prowled and stalked and waited for prey? But his kind were hunters, snatchers, and he knew no fear, being the greatest of his kind… okay, so no one else might have thought he was the greatest, but heck, what did they know?
BedMonster’s smelling-hands caught a whiff of something different, something that smelled like fear, and he was instantly alert. His prowling turned almost into a gallop as he climbed the cavern wall, running towards a small dark opening high above he wasn’t sure he was really even seeing. Reaching it, he entered into a low tunnel on his stalking-hands and began probing ahead with his snatching-arms outstretched, his long-corded muscles rippling, attesting to the power of his grip, the expert finality of his snatch.
He’d found something like a Gate into the Real, yet it was different. Too hungry to make his own light yet, he nevertheless saw ahead of him a golden glow emanating from a Gate-like disturbance of air. Gates did not normally glow... perhaps he should be worried about that he thought suspiciously.
Too late.
As he approached the Gate-thing, the golden glow suddenly turned dark red, a color that cried danger and the swirling pattern of disturbance became faster, faster, while the fear scent turned to one of triumph!
And then the light turned green.
She’d friggin’ found it! Becca had exactly six and a half minutes left to get dressed, pack her book bag, get to the bus stop, but she’d found it. No way was she going to high school without her cell.
“Get your ass moving!” her father bellowed from downstairs.
Make-up had to be forgotten (damn), clothes (had she worn these yesterday?) thrown on in abandon, algebra book dispensed with (she’d share Carlie’s who’d hate that but toughola) and she flew. Passing her father pulling out of the driveway to take Normie to daycare and himself to work, she raced toward the bus stop.
She missed it.
Shoot, shoot, shoot, she fumed. Rebecca Ann Westin you are such an idiot! What do I do now?
She walked slowly back to the empty house, defeated, entering its silence, weighing alternatives. She could call her Dad (No!) or she could... just stay home? Who would know? That mattered? She caught a glance of herself in the hall mirror and thought no one’ll probably even notice.
She was not pretty she knew, too tall, too gangly, with way too curly boring brown hair that refused to do anything sensible. One consolation, she had gotten rid of those godawful braces last year. Her teeth were white and straight now and she was going to make darn sure they stayed that way. (She loved her dentist. She hated her dentist.) Good teeth or not though, even with her mother’s assurances that her blue eyes were striking (even when she wore her glasses) and she was going to be beautiful, it hadn’t happened in sixteen years and she had her doubts.
I can just spend the day at home she moped in resignation. Alone.
And then Becca heard a noise upstairs.
This is stupid, this is STOO-PID, she chanted through gritted teeth as she pushed open her bedroom door. The room was a mess of course (she being a teenager, Mom being away, and Dad being, well, Dad) and anything could be hiding anywhere. She gripped her mother’s old golf club and slowly entered the room.
A soft rustling and quiet thumping came from under the bed, its unmade sheets dangling onto the floor obscuring her view underneath.
Oh crap, she cringed, some rabid, chittering, gibbering (or worse, salivating) thing is gonna shoot right outta there and go straight for my ankles. I should call someone, but... I’m skipping school, they’re not exactly gonna be sympathetic.
From as far away as she could manage, Becca thrust out the club and gingerly lifted the fabric.
Okay, breathe now... get down on one knee and just look.
Nothing was there unless you counted massive dust bunnies and small mounds of discarded pantyhose... oh, so that’s where those went.
And then... at the very back, against the wall, something stirred. A hiss, something uncoiling in the shadows.
“DON’T KILL ME!” Becca shrieked. The hiss and the movement ceased abruptly, leaving her unsure whether she had actually even heard them in the first place.
Then something moved, maybe even... glittered?
There’s definitely something there, she decided grimly, it’s suspended off the floor and it’s swaying in the breeze from the air vent. And you know there’s only one way you’re gonna find out what that something is. I am so dead, I am so dead, I am... stop that, you are a big girl.
Carefully, slowly, Becca slid the golf club toward the glimmering darkness. The club met a soft resistance.
Don’t be a moron.
Becca started swishing the club back and forth and found herself getting angry.
Oh show yourself you—
Instantaneously a sparkle of soft golden light appeared and whirled around Becca’s golf club. A sinewy arm shot out of the faintly glittering light, sporting a purplish-gray six-fingered hand that clamped down on the club and pulled. Becca screamed so loudly that her vocal cords nearly ripped, and as she was yanked under the bed the thought that ricocheted through her horror-struck brain was I’m gonna die FOR CUTTING SCHOOL?
Another followed dimly on its heels: Does this mean I can skip the lecture for not making my bed?
The light enwrapped him, melding against his body like a coating of paint, which was not normal for any usual Gate, certainly nothing like a Door. It seeped along his hair coating his hands, his arms, grasping him firmly, carrying him along. BedMonster sensed fear, knew he approached prey, but that prey seemed oddly angered and confused as well. He couldn’t process what was happening to him. A vague shape appeared in the distance and BedMonster 1137465893 reached out to it, heard a scream, a scream that vibrated throughout the small world that was his Gate-like encompassment. He grasped that dark shape and pulled, felt it drag against the palm of one of his snatching-hands trying to get away, trying to leave him behind. He knew that would lead to his dissolution so immediately he twisted, slowly birthing into a small dark space.
The scream echoed around him and he reached out with all his senses, contacting the prey, bounding towards it eagerly. He was under a bed, his natural striking place, and he knew exactly what to do. He careened into the human, hands snaking around and grasping firmly, finding all those places he liked to strike, and scooped up great globules of his sustenance as the prey screamed and struggled beneath him. He had not fed this well in years.
But something was wrong. Something was very wrong.
It was Day, in the Real.
Bedmonsters didn’t do Day.
BedMonster whimpered and fled.
The overlarge hand seemed vaguely gorilla-like, gray-tinged, with purple embedded deeply in the tissue, and six large fingers almost human but for their immense size and strength. The hand clamped onto the golf club and pulled. Becca’s head and shoulders were yanked under the bed as she screamed.
HELL NO I AM NOT GOING UNDER THERE NO WAY! Slamming back on the club with all her might, Becca experienced a weird tingle surge down the back of her spine, across her shoulders and into her arms. The sensation streamed across her hands leaving a faint trace of heat and a metallic taste in the back of her throat. Something seemed to undulate down her arm, jump to the golf club, travel its shaft and flow into the golden light under the bed. The light changed to green, an emerald color like deep ocean, not a safe, soft green, but a dark, scary green, and a part of Becca’s mind whispered green means go, green means open.
Pulling hard, Becca struggled backwards and managed to rock herself back onto her haunches. Without warning the golf club was released and Becca found herself launched, flying across the bedroom landing on her rump, hearing the ominous crunch of her cell phone in her jeans pocket. And then the thing was upon her.
It was a ravenous beast, all hands, hot moist breath, powerful arms, and fur, fur everywhere as it pressed itself against her. Atop her. Pressing her down beneath its weight. It was rummaging she realized in stark petrified terror, it was looking for that perfect place to grip and tear.
And then it was gone.
The beast retreated with a soft cry, leaving Becca disheveled, trembling, but (to her bleak amazement) intact. Under the bed something moved and the light faded. Whatever had pounced on her was huddled under the foot of her bed trembling and whimpering. Becca squatted and edged nearer to gawp at the creature.
The thing under Rebecca Ann Westin’s bed was clearly some kind of animal; it had too many limbs (at least eight she could see) and was furred, about the size of a large dog. For one ridiculous moment Becca thought of her father’s Australian Terrier, Melvin, but this is no dog. The beast had orange-brown fur, oversized six-fingered hands ending in blunt fingernails something like a man’s but much bigger, and most certainly much stronger. Becca was sure the creature could have torn her to pieces if something hadn’t caused its hasty retreat back under the bed.
Becca stared directly at the monster’s eyes –it had two– both perfectly round, each rimmed in gold, but with centers the exact same blue as her own set into the palms of two hands!
BedMonster stared right back.
“What are you?” Becca croaked.
“What are you?” came the sneering response. Its voice was small, afraid, somewhat human, but decidedly not.
“You talk!” As the thing had no head, no clear front or back, this astonished Becca.
“Of course I talk! I’m a bedmonster! Now what are you?” it sniffled, its bravado seemed to be wavering, as if it were in pain.
Bedmonster? As in nightmare-under-the-bed? But those are fairy stories, ghosts and goblins!”
“Bedmonsters are nothing like fairies, and certainly not like any smelly old goblin, and there are no such things as ghosts. Bedmonsters are the great hunters, the stealthy snatchers, we go where others fear to tread!”
Becca wanted to point out that the bedmonster was currently cowering and whimpering under her bed but that seemed somewhat impolite so she said instead, “You speak English.”
“And modern Greek, some provincial backwoods French, and Latin. Fluently. What’s your point?”
Now the thing was petulant.
“But what are you? I’m sorry, but I still don’t know what a bedmonster really is.”
“A bedmonster obviously is the thing you fear in the dark, the thing that creeps under your bed at night, so when you feel that silent shift of air and know there is a malevolence beneath you, you lie still and quiver and hope that my kind do not come for you.”
It sounded like it was quoting something, or someone, else. “Now again, what are you?” the beast demanded.
“I’m... a girl. My name’s Becca.”
The light about BedMonster seemed to flicker just for a moment, almost in excitement, when Becca said her name.
“Yessss,” it hissed. “You are. Well you are a nasty girl, a naughty girl, fearing me under your bed in Day, opening some weird-assed Gateish thing, drawing me here. Don’t you know bedmonsters shrivel up and die in sunlight?” The bedmonster now sounded aggrieved, and blinked its watery blue eyes once.
“Me? I didn’t bring you here.” It was then that Becca noticed BedMonster was slowly creeping toward her, staying well away from the slant of sunlight streaming in from her mullioned window. “What do you eat?” she demanded suspiciously.
“Human flesh. Specifically, when I can get it, yours.
“Not you, the stuff that sloughs off you. Bedmonsters exist in an asymptomatic-symbiotic relationship with people.”
A whatsit now?
“Shouldn’t you be in school?” a voice demanded from behind Becca who jumped up so fast she actually whirled in midair.
“Aunt Andrea!”
“What were you doing down there?”
Becca was speechless, her eyes darted back to the bed but its sheets were once again dangling onto the floor.
More Information
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sandra Hugs, Creator of Dancing Spiders

dancing spiders, sandra hugs, Smart kid, sensible, street savvy, protecting children, positive parenting, happy children
Today we are interviewing Sandra Hugs, creator of the interactive storybook app Dancing Spiders.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m passionate about helping children and positive parenting. The concept of Dancing Spiders was created from a passion to help children to be “street savvy”, to be sensible in handling real life issues.

Describe Dancing Spiders in a few sentences. 

Dancing Spiders is an interactive storybook app to enlighten children about molestation. Developed by a Singapore team, the app will deliver a magical experience with touch-triggered animation, narration, music and sounds for young readers.

What inspired you to write an educational book for children about molestation?

Years ago, I learnt that some young girls about 7-8 years old were groped inappropriately by young boys on a school bus. The boys did it on a dare by an older boy. The little girls didn’t know it was wrong for others to touch their private parts. I was shocked, and wondered how the parents would feel had they known that their little girl was molested. What about the little girls when they realized later that they were actually molested? Would they feel sick? By the next day, the boys were bragging in the school about what they had done. You would have thought that the bus driver uncle would have stopped the incident. No, he did nothing. He probably thought that boys will be boys. I had been thinking about this incident, wondering why the children did not know about molestation, why their parents did not talk to them about it. Was it a case of no time, or that it was a difficult topic to broach with their children, or they thought that someone else would do the job for them? So, I thought I could do something to help the children. Hence, this storybook app to enlighten children on molestation.

Why did you decide to use an interactive app to convey your message?

Some parents find it difficult to put across a sensitive topic like molestation to their children. But it is important to educate them early even if it is a sensitive topic. It is a necessity. And what better way to do so than through storytelling? Children love stories! A lot of lessons, values and morals can be taught through storytelling.

To address the sensitivity of the topic, I have used magical creatures to pare down the harshness of the issue and yet, bring across the message. I brainstormed and worked closely with friends and the illustrator to work around the difficult parts to ensure that the app is wholesome and suitable for children.

The app helps the readers to develop thinking skills as well.  The interactivity of the app empowers the reader to think about the situation in the shoes of the character when it meets a difficult situation in the story. The reader will have two options to choose from. One of them is right. How the story turns out depends on the decision taken. This helps the reader to understand and learn the consequences of each of the decision, and hence, the right path as the story unfolds. It reinforces learning.

Other features:
•    There is a simple interactive game for the reader within the story.
•    Readers will have the option to take them through the story, or read the story themselves. They can stop the story at any time.
•    It has interesting magical characters to engage the children, and the language is simple to understand. For instance, an interesting character called Mr O, a talking tree that can answer any question.

What was the creative process for Dancing Spiders like?

Hours were spent researching, talking to parents, councilors and friends. I learnt a lot in the process. Not just the technical and creative process, but how people perceived this topic. 

The most difficult part was writing the story and illustrating it as this is about a sensitive topic - how to portray the situation in an age appropriate manner, and yet, convey the message. What drove me on was the passion to help children avoid the traumatic experience. I thought if this book could save a child from being molested, then it is already worth the effort.

What age is Dancing Spiders targeted at?

7 years old and above.

Why did you decide to use a crowdfunding approach to funding the development of Dancing Spiders?
The crowdfunding process will allow me to evaluate users’ reactions and help facilitate societal involvement. It is also a new way of gaining exposure. The goal of this campaign is to reach those who share the vision of empowering children through learning, those want to share ideas, and to create a community of like-minded individuals who are interested in collaboration on the project.

For those who are interested in contributing to the creation of Dancing Spiders, how do they learn more about the app and contribute financially?
They are encouraged to go to http://igg.me/at/dancing-spiders, watch the videos, get a sneak preview of a part of the storybook app and contribute from as little as $1 to make a statement. Contributors also can get the app at a special price.

Anything else you’d like potential readers to know?
We need your support to bring this entertaining and interactive storybook app to life. Help kids to live smart!

More Information

Visit the Dancing Spiders crowdfunding site

Watch a Sneak Peek of Dancing Spiders

Monday, January 26, 2015

Katrina Cope, Author of Taylor's Plight

katrina cope interview, taylor's plight, katrina cope, kid’s book, sci-fi, spy thriller, sanctum, middle grade, middle-grade
Today we are interviewing Katrina Cope, author of the Preteen – Spy/Sci-fi novel Taylor's Plight, book 3 of The Sanctum Series.

For readers who didn’t read your last interview with us, could you share a bit about yourself?
I am a wife and mother of 3 boys, teen and preteen. I have always been a quiet and creative person, but at the same time I love mixing with different cultures and personalities.

Describe the plot of Taylor’s Plight in a few sentences.
In Taylor’s Plight the action is increased and the plot becomes more twisted and intriguing. Taylor, the renowned bully of Jayden and his friends, has been acting peculiar. He disappeared for a couple of days, then reappeared and went on a rampage.

Meanwhile, Scarlet is having the fight of a lifetime. She is under attack from an experienced hacker. Will she be able to fight them off?

Mysterious things are found at Ernest State College that have nothing to do with who Dr Ernest is tracking. Brendan, the surrogate, goes on a field trip with Hayley, Liam and Dryden. What they discover rocks Brendan’s world and significantly changes the future.

One of the aspects of Taylor’s Plight that fans of the series are sure to find interesting is that bully Taylor is different in this book. Without giving too much away, what can readers expect to learn about Taylor?
Taylor becomes more aggressive, and his bullying tactics are more intelligent and are not stemmed from sheer brute force. This is part of the puzzle through the book that is discovered close to the end.

Fans of your series seem to really like that you’ve managed to incorporate elements from a bunch of different genres (mystery, adventure, suspense, etc) into the plot. Is that something you do intentionally? Or is that something that just happens naturally as you develop the story?
For this series it was always my intention to have these incorporated into the plot but as I continue with the series it just flows out naturally. I want my readers to enjoy the adventure and attempt to solve the mystery. For me, suspense is a must for a good storyline. It pushes readers to continue. Many readers also enjoy the humorous parts mixed with a few sad ones. I want readers to feel like they are living in the characters shoes.

In Scarlet’s Escape, we learned a lot more about Scarlet. She also plays a big role in Taylor’s Plight. Was she always a character you wanted to be a major player in the series?
Scarlet will be a big part of all the books in the series. She is the AI and can be almost everywhere at the Sanctum. She is also a personality that will stand out - feisty, cheeky, intelligent, and doesn’t put up with nonsense unless she is causing it. She is also evolving.

As you’ve progressed through writing the series, has it been easier to write the books, since you’ve gotten to know the characters so well? Or has writing the later books taken just as much time and effort as the earlier books?
Each book is so different. The characters are easier to write in and develop, but as the plot twists increase, it is harder to make sure they all line up in the end and flow through the book from past books through to plans for future books. This can increase the writing time or at least the plotting time.

An excerpt from Taylor’s Plight, Chapter 1 - No Ordinary Day Trip:

The sound of helicopter blades chopped overhead. The view below of the jolting skyline mixed with parks and trees was picturesque and peaceful. Kensington City was such a stunning sight and what better way to look at it than on such a beautiful day. The sky was clear and the sun was shining with only a couple of fluffy white clouds in the distance. 
Avando lent forward and rubbed his leg through his deep blue suit. The wound that partially maimed him, the one that he had received that fatal day when he had lost his wife Atasha and daughter Tamara, still played up from time to time. After he completed giving his leg a rub, he lent his grey speckled dark haired head back in the tan leather seat situated in the luxurious interior of the helicopter, and stretched his legs out in front of him. He reached down and took the coffee cup off the small mahogany table, sipping its contents and welcoming the effect the caffeine had on his body. 
The pocket inside his deep blue jacket began to vibrate with the ring tone following not far behind. He reached his thin ageing hand into his pocket and looked at the screen for a moment noting that the caller ID was blocked. Frowning over his protruding bumpy nose, he slid his thumb across the screen to answer the call. 
“Avando speaking.” 
“I warned you,” hissed the distorted animated voice on the other end of the line. “I told you not to interfere." 
“Who is this?” 
“You know who I am. Now, because you and your little brats defied me I am going a step further.” The animated voice continued. “I'll be attacking more people. More will pay and you can thank yourself for their demise.” 
“What are you talking about? What do you mean?” Avando asked with his voice now panicked. Dread filled him causing his heart rate to rise to an unhealthy level 
“Your first deed to be thanked for will be happening in the middle of Kensington City,” the voice hissed. “Be prepared for the iconic building in the middle of the city to be turned to rubble in ten minutes. Congratulations on your achievement.” The phone went silent. 
Avando’s olive skinned face turned white. Innocent people were about to die. 
He pressed the button of the speaker to the pilot and called, “Charlie?” 
The response was almost instant, “Yes Avando?” 
“What would you class as the most iconic building in Kensington City?” 
“Well, that would have to be the glass walk bridge that crosses the Dyson river. It is completely made of glass, even the bottom where people walk, and it gets thousands of tourists as well as locals on it every year. There is a day care near there too, called ‘Baby Bots.’ But they are not street kids. Why? Do you want to go?” 
“Yes, get me there pronto! I think it is about to be blown up.” 
“What?” Charlie’s concerned voice sounded over the speaker. 
“I just received an anonymous phone call stating that they were about to flatten it. I need to get there.” 
“But that would be dangerous and what would you even look for?” Charlie tried to talk him out of going. 
 “Just get me there, now!” Avando demanded. “They said it was my fault. Get me there. I am ringing the police to let them know.” He let go of the speaker button. He still had his phone in his hand and was ringing the emergency number.  
“You have dialled the emergency hotline. Your call is being connected, please wait.” The recorded lady’s voice sounded over the line. 
Avando silently waited/ 
“What emergency service did you require, Police, Fire or Ambulance?” A lady’s monotone voice could be heard at the other end. 
“Please hold.” 
He waited nervously as he felt the helicopter descending to land.  
“Kensington Police Department, Please state your name, number and your emergency.” A direct male voice sounded on the line. 
“I have just received an anonymous call stating an iconic building, which I'm assuming is the glass bridge over the Dyson River, is about to be brought down into rubble. You need to get a bomb squad down there immediately. I was told we have eight minutes left." Avando was official and straight to the point. 
“Thank you sir. I need your name and number sir, in case—”Avando hung up and unbuckled his seatbelt. 
Charlie had landed the helicopter. There was no time to waste. Avando climbed out of the tan leather seat, opening the door to exit.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Veronica Grey and John John Florence, Authors of Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: The 5 Most Important Wellness Secrets of All Time

wealthy and wise, veronica grey, grey and wise
Today we are interviewing  Veronica Grey and John John Florence, authors of the game-changing book Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Professional surfer-models and award winning filmmakers; now with a #1 international bestselling book and also designers of their own surf apparel

Describe the purpose of Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise in a few sentences.
Save the humans

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
Any human worth saving.

What inspired you to write this book?
Veronica: if I had a true religion it would be surfing. Not to be sacrilegious but I kneel at the church of John John's abs.

What was the most interesting thing you uncovered while doing research for the book?
Even though John John Florence is currently the #1 surfer in the world having won the 2014 Surfer Poll Awards, knocking long reigning Kelly Slater off the throne, you don't have to be a surfer to have this book transform you so completely. It debuted at #1 on Amazon all around the world and if you read the reviews, it is mindblowing and humbling at the same time.

How do you think reading your book will impact people?

The planet needs a miracle right now and this book MIGHT be at least, a bandage. Or CPR.

What made you decide to donate proceeds from Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise to charity?
If you ever watch the free documentary online titled, "Worst Shark Attack Ever" you would immediately see why. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, The Cure, and MGMT.

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
Half as a joke but half serious, in the "Impressum" section of http://www.Facebook.com/JohnJohnAndVeronica there is a long list of imaginary fan pages I would love to manifest if only I had the time and funding and energy :)

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
The fact that it went to #1 in countries like Japan and Germany that aren't predominantly English speaking must mean it probably doesn't suck :)

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