Category Archives: contests

Wicked Good : An Interview and TWO Contests!

As part of the WOW! Women on Writing Book Blog Tour, please welcome authors (and sisters!) Joanne Lewis and Amy Lewis Faircloth as they share the journey of researching and writing a beautiful novel about a mother and her son with Asperger’s syndrome.

After the interview, please leave a comment or question for  Joanne or Amy for a chance to win a Kindle version of Wicked Good.

Details of the second contest (to win $100) follow the interview, as well.

Amy & Joanne

Bio:

It was a chilly day in Maine when Amy received the call from her sister, Joanne, “Wanna write a book together?” Amy said yes and the journey began.

Amy is the older sister who loves her 2 sons and nephew, dogs, volunteering at the Bangor Humane Society, running, hiking, snowshoeing, surfing the web, her brown poodle Teddy, Lola, writing, reading, cycling, going to bed early, spending time with her friends and family, being outdoors when it’s nice outside and indoors when it’s not, and editing Joanne’s writing. She is a pescatarian and a lawyer in Maine.

Joanne is the younger sister who loves her 3 nephews, her grey poodle Frisco, writing, hiking, snowshoeing, kayaking, cooking, traveling, Florence, Italy, anything to do with the Italian Renaissance, Michelangelo, spending time with her friends and family, and being edited by Amy. She a vegetarian and a lawyer in Florida.

Two sisters, both attorneys; as sisters, Amy and Joanne have learned to play to each others strengths—an important lesson for any co-authors.

Website: www.amyandjoanne.com

Blog: www.wickedgoodthebook.blogspot.com

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell

1.     How did the idea of this story emerge and develop?

Joanne had written several novels and was between books. Amy had never written a book nor even thought about writing one. One day, on a whim, we decided to write a novel together for no other reason than we figured it would be a fun thing to do. The initial idea was about a mad scientist who seeks to extract DNA from a boy with Asperger’s syndrome in order to cure cancer. It didn’t take long before we realized that was a dumb idea. Over time and through many drafts, the story of a mother (Archer) and her adopted son (Rory) who has Asperger’s syndrome and searches for his birth parents began to emerge.

Win this book!

2.     What was the research process like? Please share how you began, who you reached out to and how many notes were “left on the cutting room floor?”

As we developed the plot, we researched the issues that came up. We don’t out-line since we like the writing process to be organic. As we plotted if there was something we needed more information on we would stop writing and do the research until we felt comfortable continuing. Also, after we finished a draft that we felt good about, we would fill in gaps with additional research. To research, we used different processes. We used the Internet and books. For example, Rory loves lawn mowers and gas globes in Wicked Good. We knew very little about both. We learned a lot about them by researching on the Internet and reading books. We visited actual locations for the novel such as Bangor, Maine and Salem and Gloucester, Massachusetts. We asked questions of people who might have first-hand information. We also do a lot of research just by being aware of our surroundings, watching and listening. Amy’s son (Joanne’s nephew) has Asperger’s syndrome so her life is filled with experiences that could be used in Wicked Good. Just watching and listening to her son gave her information as to how Rory might act in a situation. We are both keenly aware of our surroundings and the people we come into contact with. For example, in the novel, Archer gives Rory the candy Skittles that she calls his feel-good pills. Amy got that idea from a friend who had done the same thing with her son. It’s these real life touches that make the fiction world of Wicked Good appear very real. As far as reaching out to people, there is a police officer in the novel so we contacted a friend of ours who is a former police officer to make sure we got the character of Campbell correct. It took us 3 years to go from inception to completion of Wicked Good with maybe 20 different drafts of the novel. Not a lot of research was left on the cutting room floor since our research is narrowly targeted. However, a lot of the novel was left on the cutting room floor. We did a lot of editing of Wicked Good. And when we thought we were done editing, we edited some more!

3.     You’re both lawyers with families. Please give us a glimpse into your writing routine/schedule. How do you fit it all in? And, more importantly, how do you get your family onboard?

Amy: I not only work as an attorney but I am on the Board of the Bangor Humane Society and volunteer there too. I write after work, Sunday afternoons and in bed before I go to sleep if I’m not too tired. I have two teenage boys who are quite happy when I am out of their hairs! Jo: I work as an attorney and volunteer as well. I write when I’m not working. Before work, after work, evening, weekends, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. I don’t like a definite schedule. It’s not easy juggling a full-time job as an attorney with being a novelist but our family knows how important this is to us so they are completely on-board. Amy: We have also learned when not to write. Many times, it’s important to shut off the computer and spend quality time with our families. That’s why I always try and have dinner with my sons. Jo: I completely agree.

4.     Like I mentioned, I was pulled into Archer and Rory’s world from page one. The dialogue and setting are so strong. The emotion is tense, yet fragile. I’m always curious how many drafts writers go through from 1st to finished. Can you share your revision process? (i.e. Do you revise while writing; revise by hand, on computer; use a special technique, etc.?)

We do all our writing on the computer. Amy lives in Maine and Joanne lives in Florida so we e-mail drafts back and forth. We went through about 20 drafts of Wicked Good. After we got a handle on what the plot was going to be, we wrote it straight through without any major editing. We just wanted to get a first full draft done that was starting to look like the novel we wanted to write. Eventually, when we felt we had completed a decent draft, we gave a copy to each member of our mother’s book group. They took it very seriously, which we really appreciate. We went to the meeting when they discussed Wicked Good and they ripped it apart! While it was painful then, looking back it was an amazing experience. We dusted ourselves off and got back to work. We revise on the computer. When we make a lot of revisions and the draft starts to look significantly different, we save it under another name so we have all our drafts on our computers. And we back up everything on an external hard drive. Thank you for enjoying Wicked Good. There is nothing we want more than for people to get lost in Archer and Rory’s world as we did.

5.     What were the highs and lows of co-authoring a book? Do you think these were intensified because you’re sisters? 

The highs of writing the book feel endless. We know that sounds hokey but it really is true. Everything about writing Wicked Good is better because we are sisters. From day one, we decided to have fun writing Wicked Good. We both have good jobs so while we love writing we do not approach it with an expectation to make livings as full-time authors. That takes a lot of pressure off of us. The highs were speaking and e-mailing each other every day and learning about each other’s lives in a way we had never known before. The biggest high now is looking back and realizing what we have accomplished together. While we were great friends before we began writing Wicked Good, we are now the best of friends. We guess it could have gone the other way but are glad it didn’t. We’ve never had a fight over Wicked Good. If we have a disagreement over the plot, we discuss it and usually reach a compromise very quickly. However, if Amy is adamant about plotting or characterization, she usually prevails since she is the one who lives with a child on the autism spectrum and is most qualified to keep Wicked Good realistic in that regard. And she is the older sister too! The lows have really involved post-publication and marketing. The reviews have been great and Wicked Good has won an award and is up for another award (to be announced in October) but getting Wicked Good out there has been difficult. We know it takes one reader at a time. We are hoping as more people read Wicked Good and they tell their friends who tell their friends…so please, if you enjoy Wicked Good, please tell your friends and family.

6.     Do you have any future writing projects planned together or individually?

Yes, to both. We are working on the second book in the Wicked series called Wicked Wise. In Wicked Good, Rory is fifteen years old. In Wicked Wise, he is nineteen and graduating high school. We are planning on following Rory into old age. We are hoping to have Wicked Wise released in 2012. Individually, Joanne is in the final editing process of a historical fiction novel called The Lantern that will be released by the end of this year, or early 2012.

Please leave a comment or question for the authors to be entered to win a Kindle version of Wicked Good! Winner will be randomly selected and announced tomorrow, Wed. Sept 21

And, now the deets on the $100 contest:

Have you ever said something that totally stopped conversation? Maybe it was insightful. Maybe it was weird. Maybe it was the thing everyone was thinking but was afraid to say. Rory, the teenage character in Wicked Good, is the master of conversation stoppers—his family calls them “Roryisms”.

WOW! is hosting a “Roryism” contest; the winner will receive a $100 prepaid Visa card and their Roryism will be published in the next book in the Wicked series. Full details can be found on The Muffin. http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/2011/09/wicked-good-by-amy-lewis-faircloth-and.html

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5 prompt Friday

         Here we go again…

  1. The empty feeling in my stomach spread to my chest and head, threatening to pull me inside out.
  2. How do I say this to you?
  3. On her wrist was a bracelet made from multi-colored paperclips.
  4. His voice crackled through the walkie-talkie, “The Eagle Has Landed.”
  5. Are you ready to do this?

Have a story or prompt to share? Post it here : ) Happy writing!


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A little taste…

I’m part of a special event for the next two days to share an excerpt of my YA novel, Half Moon Bay Resort(Check out the details here.) The idea is to share a 500-word excerpt of our novel or other writing project with the “cliffhanger” theme in mind. Meaning, you can enjoy this little snippet, and be left craving more!

Tell me what you think – I’d love to know! And be sure to read the other participating bloggers’ cliffhangers.

An excerpt from Half Moon Bay Resort, by Mary Jo Campbell

I remember the hush hush feeling, the whispering, and the shed.

“My aunt snuck me out here a lot,” I say over my shoulder to Frank. “To hide and to tell secrets.  We’d come home with dirt under our nails, my Nonna scolding us both.”

I didn’t tell Frank that Aunt Julia’s words still rattled in my head. The image of her thin pale lips that turned up when our eyes met. “She’ll never tell you, Liliana. She’ll die and be buried with it.”

Dead end. Frank and I are at the other side of the island, back at the shore. I turn around, pushing past him. I’m sprinting now, over rocks and dead patches of grass. That shed had to be here.  I look up for a break in the trees, an opening big enough for a shed to be. My toe slams hard into something and a shock of pain splits through my shin. I tumble over a large boulder breaking the fall with my hands.

“Holy crap, Lily, you OK?” Frank skids to his knees beside me. “That flip was sick!”

I sit up, rubbing my raw hands on my legs and survey the blood dripping down my right shin. I fake a cough, pressing the heels of my hands into my eye sockets, defeated.

“Hey, is that it?” Frank asks.

We’re sitting on the patch of dirt that opens to a small clearing. I can make out the wooden slats of a wall. I get up, pulling Frank with me.

The shack is a dilapidated wooden structure with a door and one broken window. I step inside, overwhelmed by the musky odor. I close my eyes and can feel Auntie Julia’s soft cheek against mine as we dance there in the slant of sunlight.

“She used to sing to me,” I say, walking along the walls of the shack. The floorboards groan like an old sleeping man. Sounds of wind, waves and boats fade away outside. Everything is muffled.

A knocking in my chest begins and an urge to dig tingles in my hands. Across from the only door is a broken floorboard, like a creature had taken a huge bite. I look at Frank. He pats the gun at his belt and I roll my eyes at him again.

On my knees, I run my hand down the broken board, wiggling it free. I lift the dry-rotted wood with my fingers; it crumbles apart. A strong scent of earth emerges. I lift the next board; it bends and then crumbles, too. Something is under there. A glint of gold. My eyes meet Frank’s and he smirks.

I reach in, feeling something cool, smooth and square. It isn’t heavy, but has some weight as I lift it and hold it in both hands. It’s the shape and size of a cigar box covered in a golden leaf foil. I flick a baby spider from the lid and slowly open it.

Copyright Mary Jo Campbell, 2010

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Last Day to Enter!

Could you benefit from a writing mentor? I know I can! Just found the link (via Twitter) to this extraordinary contest – but hurry, today’s the last day to enter! (September 29)

The Bookshelf Muse

 Prizes include:

General Drawing:

5-First Page critiques
2-First Chapter critiques

Special Drawing Challenge

It’s simple: SPREAD THE WORD about this contest! If you do, I will include you in a special drawing for a three month mentorship with me.

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas (esp. for mama writers!)

{photo: ancestry.com}Sure flowers are fragrant and beautiful. But they die. And chocolates are yummy, but are also counterproductive to almost all Mom’s trek on the healthy track. So,  why not gift that special mama writer something she’ll USE and LOVE?

Here are some suggestions I’d personally LOVE (wink, wink!)

  • Any books and /or classes by THE Writer Mama, Christina Katz. Click the link for complete details
  • Gift certificate to her favorite coffee or tea shop - THEN, pack her writing bag and set it by the door with a note that she has an afternoon (or evening) to herself and her muse…
  • Who’s her favorite author? Check out your local indie bookstores for similar titles. They may even have some autographed editions of a favorite book or collection. Personally, I have two fantastic novels on my wish list: Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson and Paint it Black , by Janet Fitch (read them both, but would like my own copies to peruse and study the craft of language and transitions)
  • A beautiful journal - but not too pretty that she’ll be afraid to write random “crap” inside. Because we all need a place to get the crap out, in order to find the gem of truth.
  • Heard of Writer’s Market? There’s a less expensive version I’m thinking of purchasing (specifically for short fiction, essays and poetry): Literary Database to find, submit and track stories, poems and more.
  • Something funky, cool or even homemade for her desk. Get creative! (think: alternates to pencil cups or bookmarks or push pins or  file organizer)
  • How about some inspiration she can put her hands on? I’m giving away my collection of motivating/inspirational quotes. All typed in a single word doc, I’ve been collecting quotes from known and unknown to blog about, write about or even ponder over. ENTER to win:
  1. Leave a comment in this post
  2. Follow and/or subscribe to this blog
  3. Tweet this post
  4. Post a link here on your blog
  5. Post on Facebook

I will randomly select 4 winners – the more entries, the better your chances! I’ll scoop up the entries and send the packet of quotes to you via email on Saturday, May 8, in time for Mothers Day!

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Author interview and DOUBLE book giveaway: Bob Yehling

Another treat for my readers, cause I love you all so! Today’s guest, Bob Yehling, will share his path of writing, teaching and publishing, as well as give away two books! One commenter will be randomly selected to win The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life and another will win a copy of The Hummingbird Review.

So, sit back, grab a cuppa joe and a notepad to take down some juicy tidbits and enjoy the interview!

Bob Yehling

Bob Yehling is the author of eight books, including The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Fulfill Your Writing Life and Writes of Life: Using Personal Experiences in Everything You Write, which won the 2007 Independent Publishers Book Award. He teaches fiction, poetry and non-fiction writing workshops at colleges, universities and writers conferences throughout the country. He is also a book and magazine editor, author’s consultant, three-time Boston Marathon participant, a ghostwriter of five titles, and the author of Full Flight, Shades of Green, Coyotes in Broad Daylight and The River-Fed Stone. His novel, The Voice, will be published in 2011. Bob grew up in Carlsbad, CA, and was a writer for the Blade-Tribune (now North County Times) for six years in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.

The creative brainchild of bestselling author Luis Alberto Urrea and publisher Charlie Redner, the Hummingbird Review http://www.thehummingbirdreview.com) is America’s newest literary journal. It brings together some of the nation’s finest poetry, essays, short fiction and commentary. It features contributors known and unknown; the emphasis is on clarity of voice. The Hummingbird Review launches online shortly before each print issue. The Spring-Summer issue will be released in late May 2010.

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell:

1) Tell us about your writing background: when did you realize you wanted to be a writer? Any formal training/classes?

I’ve been writing stories since I was five years old. I attended elementary school during the 1960s, which was an incredibly imaginative and creative time – astronauts flying to the Moon, the psychedelic rock scene in San Francisco, schoolteachers who could teach us possibility and vision as well as subjects. I even had a social studies teacher who was a Disney animator for 20 years, and who would spend the last 15 minutes of each class drawing with us! It was the perfect environment for a kid like me, who wanted to create. I wrote stories of up to 100 pages all through grade school.

My formal training took place in the real world – and through reading voraciously, in all genres, from the time I was very young. In 1976, when I was 16, I was hired as a sportswriter by the Blade-Tribune (now North County Times) in Oceanside, CA. My editors, Bill Missett and Steve Scholfield, were true old-schoolers: get in and out of the story, get quotes, get two independent sources to verify every fact. Accuracy and unique angles meant everything to them. And making deadlines. I use that training every day. Also, they let me write for all sections of the paper, which enabled me to become a versatile writer.

After seven years at the paper, I moved into the magazine business, where I spent the next 15 years as a writer and editor of some great periodical and commemorative titles. One was NASA’s official 25th anniversary salute to Apollo 11, One Giant Leap for Mankind, which allowed me to work with all of living moonwalkers, who told me their stories of walking on another heavenly body. One, my late friend Pete Conrad, the Apollo 12 commander, the subject of the epochal Chapter 1 of Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff and class clown among that elite club (only 12 people walked on the moon), played catch with me – with a moon rock! I went right back to the being the little kid who wrote stories about flying in space. That was a great experience … but that’s what writing can afford us.

For the last 12 years, I’ve been a book author, editor, and writing workshop teacher. I get as much of a thrill in seeing someone connect to their deeper voice and rhythm as a writer and storyteller as I do in seeing my own books get into print. I think it is vital, especially now when education is in crisis, for professional writers to get into the classrooms (whether with children or adults) and uncork the magical genie that is the story-driven writer. Groups like Dave Eggers’ 8-2-6 Valencia, George Lucas’ Edutopia and Capitol City Young Writers are really good at this.

2) What a fun learning environment you had, Bob. Now, can you please describe your writing style and process: do you begin with a prompt? A character? A setting? Do you pre-write or outline before writing the first draft? Do you revise as you go, or get the whole rough draft completed, then go back for revisions?

 

I always mentally percolate the idea first. Then I journal it out. I use my journal as a chemistry lab, to figure out which combinations of settings and characters will work. Then I listen for whichever character wants to come through first, and write from that point of view. Once I’ve “warmed up” in that way, I storyboard my books – both fiction and non-fiction. I’m a visual writer, so it works to borrow that approach from the film world. With fiction, I just write the first draft, sinking deeply into the story and letting the characters tell it. With non-fiction, I outline fairly extensively, making sure the major points are down and in order, while leaving room for inspiration or ideas that will visit – especially anecdotes, the little true mini-stories that, I believe, are vital to the quality and success of any good non-fiction book.

As for my process, I do not look back once I start each day. I write for four or five hours, then touch up what I wrote. The next day, I repeat this process. I find it incredibly self-defeating to continually self-edit in the middle of a writing session. It’s like giving the inner censor license to kill – which it will. It will kill your creative process. But for me, it’s important to look over what I wrote after the day is complete. When a draft is done, I rewrite it once from scratch, then move into revision and polishing edits.

3) I think many of us can agree about the creative process being killed if we edit while writing. I’m guilty of that! Share with us the stages of your writing project: “The Write Time: 366 Writing Exercises to Fulfill Your Daily Writing Life.” Take us through the idea and planning, drafting and revising and, finally, the publishing and promoting stages.

 

I’m a fast writer, and very impatient, so it surprised both my friends and me that I would take 10 years to compile a book. The Write Time never started as a book idea. It started as writing exercises I cooked up for the workshops that I teach around the country. One day in 2007, I sat down and realized that there were more than 250 of these exercises, all created for workshops – and, more importantly, all field-tested by the workshop participants. They liked the story-telling aspect to the exercises and the content very much, so I thought, “Why not add 116 exercises and make a one-a-day book about it?” Those last 116 exercises were by far the hardest to write.

However, they finished off a writing exercise book that simply did not exist in the marketplace – one that moves through all genres, works for writers of all abilities, presents exercises as mini-stories, and promotes both technical excellence and creative versatility. That is how we will make it as writers in this day and age; the era of the one-subject or one-genre specialist is coming to an end.

As for all the goodies on each page, I’ve always loved inspirational quotes – so I used quotes from readings, workshops, presentations and discussions, as well as some classic comments from deceased authors and thinkers in the public domain. Everyone loves sun signs, so they’re included – in the Celtic and Native American traditions as well. And everyone loves birthdays, so my assistant, Melissa Jenkins, and I gathered the most extensive author birthday list that I know of among published books.

My publisher, Paul Burt of Pen & Publish, brought out The Write Time in conjunction with a young authors’ conference of the same name – The Write Time Teens ‘N Twenties Conference. What an honor to have a book of mine associated with a conference, especially one for young authors! Now, I’m teaching workshops and appearing at writers conferences, promoting the book, guest-teaching in classrooms, and getting this new batch of exercises to as many writers as possible. Promotion is happening both online and in print.

4) The book is wonderful! I’m a  fan of inspirational quotes, as well as the sun signs of other writers and you add these to offer a book brimming with inspiration and creativity! Speaking of finding inspiration, I’m intrigued by how other writers organize their space. Can you describe your work area for us?

Sure. It’s pretty simple: I have my computer, outline or notes, and music ready to go. Files are nearby, but I rarely access them when writing drafts; the material should be in my head and heart when I write for keeps. I’ll get to the files later, during fact-checking and revision stage. I’m surrounded by my library, a couple of my Boston Marathon medals, and meaningful photos and memorabilia. Plus a lot of plants and light.

5) What tips can you offer teachers trying to share the love of creative writing with their students?

Tip numbers 1 through 10: Let them read about and write about what interests them, even if it seems dark or objectionable to you.

Tip numbers 11 through 20: Guide them into all different literatures, genres, voices and styles of authors and poets – and encourage them to embrace what speaks to them.

Young people are inherently inquisitive, curious playful and creative; in my opinion, we strip that out of them with the rigid and linear educational process, then by the time they’re in high school, a few astute teachers re-discover these falling stars and try mightily to bring them back. However, if we let them read freely, and write freely, and teachers introduce them to all genres and all forms of the genre – for example, all forms of contemporary poetry, like the works of the great Joy Harjo, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Taylor Mali, haiku master Don Eulert or the exquisite San Diego-based young poet Maggi DeRosa, and not just dead Romantic Era poets– then they will not only do better with the required course work, but will emerge with a lifelong love of learning. And writing. It’s the greatest gift we can offer kids. I know. Many of my schoolteachers did that for me – and they still hear my thanks when I talk with them on Facebook.

Sometimes, I find it best to tell kids about the experiences that writing affords, rather than the nuts and bolts of writing paragraphs and pages. One time many years ago, a middle-school student asked me, “Why do you do something as stupid as writing?” The teacher told me not to bother answering the question, but I thanked the student for asking it. Writers must be non-judgmental and open-minded. Then I gave him the answer: because of writing, I have met two Presidents, known a dozen Olympians, traveled all over the world, spent two seasons on the American Idol set, gone on adventures I never would’ve tried otherwise (like exploring the Amazon with a shaman), met many of the student’s sports heroes (and watching Shaun White finish second in a World Cup of Snowboarding event when he was 13), befriended some of the brightest and most beautiful people alive, and learned how to see and experience the greatest pleasures of the simplest things. In my answer, I never used the word “writing”. It worked; I later heard he got a B+ in his writing class.

But this is hard to pull off today, especially in the public school system. I have a friend who is an outstanding creative writing teacher in a Midwestern high school. She’s also a novelist who loves everything about the written word. She told me that she cannot introduce anything other than a tightly prescribed reading list to her kids – a list that is made up primarily of old classics, the same books I read in school 35 years ago. She also cannot assign papers other than those prescribed by a tightly written curriculum adopted by the district and school board. This is part of what is wrong with public education – they don’t educate. They don’t inspire new learning. They kill the desire to learn something new. It’s way too political and controlled by money. As I mentioned earlier, the greatest gift any adult can give a kid, besides love and respect, is the lifelong love of learning.

However, this Midwestern teacher is crafty and determined; her desire to impart her love of learning, and her knowledge, is a light that will not be turned off. She has figured out how to inspire her kids, and now, they have an after-school creative writing club. And, I predict, they will be Facebooking her (or whatever is the medium) in 35 years.

6) I work with teachers in traditional classrooms and they struggle with these issues, as well. These are valuable tips you offer. Tell us what is next in your writing and promotion projects!

 

I’m getting ready to co-write a book with fellow author, Verna Dreisbach, entitled The Hybrid Writer. It’s about combining more than one genre in everything from novels to magazine articles. It gets back to what I shared earlier – the more versatile we are these days, the better. When done well, it shows storytelling at its best. I just edited a novel, The Secret of Moonshine, in which author Denise Lyon Followill combined romance, suspense/thriller and fantasy. It’s brilliant. She’ll be off to the races with publishers pretty soon.

I’m also developing a series of online and video products around The Write Time and my other writing book, Writes of Life. Finally, I’m out there in the trenches, teaching workshops, talking to kids, coaching and editing writers of all genres, presenting at conferences and libraries  … whatever it takes to bring out the deepest wisest voices in each and every person with whom I come in contact, encourage them to open up their computers, journals or a pad of paper, and write their stories.

As I see it, writing, drawing, painting, sculpting, dancing and playing music are heavenly gifts that we, as humans, are uniquely privileged to possess. By expressing ourselves, we enliven and illuminate the world – one day at a time. We express the lifelong love of learning, which to me is the driving force behind a purposeful life.

Learn more about Bob and his projects:

Home Site: www.wordjourneys.com

Writing Blog: bobyehling.wordpress.com

Exercise Blog: 366writing.wordpress.com

Book Orders: www.penandpublish.com or www.amazon.com

Don’t forget to leave Bob a comment or question – you may walk away with one of his books! (Deadline to enter: Tuesday, March 23, midnight. US shipping addresses only.)

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Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Bonnie Hearn Hill

Because I work with young writers, I read a lot of YA fiction. So, I am excited today to be hosting Bonnie Hearn Hill,  who is  releasing Aries Rising, her first in the Star Crossed series (a teen series.)

 
 

Bonnie Hearn Hill

Bonnie Hearn Hill worked as a newspaper editor for 22 years, a job that, along with her natural nosiness, increased her interest in contemporary culture. Prior to her new Star Crossed series from Running Press/Perseus Books, she wrote six thrillers for MIRA Books, as well as numerous short stories, nonfiction books and articles.

An interest in astrology along with her close friendship with Cosmo Magazine Astrologer Hazel Dixon-Cooper inspired the Star Crossed series: Aries Rising, Taurus Eyes, and Gemini Night.

A national conference speaker, Bonnie founded The Tuesdays, a bonded and successful writing workshop in Fresno, California, and she also teaches an occasional online class. On Fridays she meets with her private critique group (humorous astrology author Hazel Dixon-Cooper, prescriptive nonfiction writer Dennis C. Lewis, mystery novelist Sheree Petree, and musician/thriller novelist Christopher Allen Poe). What happens in those groups ranges from spontaneous applause to “getting filleted,” as Bonnie’s students and colleagues call it.

If you’re interested in YA fiction, astrology or both, this interview is not to be missed!

Wanna win this book??

You’ll have double the chances of winning a copy of Bonnie’s book: Aries Rising. TODAY: Leave a comment or question on this blog post and again on March 16, leave another comment or question on WriteLikeCRAZY (where young writers gather) when Bonnie guest posts! One Lucky winner will be selceted and announced on both blogs March 17.

 Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

MJC: Bonnie, your writing resume is lengthy and impressive, ranging from the journalism world to published thrillers and now a trilogy for YA: when did you realize you wanted to expand your palate as a writer? How do you transition between your genres?

BHH: I don’t think about genre. I think about story, and most of all, I think about characters. I play the what-if game. I’m an organic writer, and because I was interested in the younger woman/older man scenario, I wrote what I called IT NEVER RAINS IN CALIFORNIA, a story about politics and power. It was published as INTERN and marketed as a political thriller.

MJC: Jumping from seductive thrillers to YA fiction definitely takes some gear shifting. How do research or stay current on teen-speak, dress and gestures in order to write a realistic teen character?

BHH: I don’t think I wrote seductive thrillers. INTERN was about politics, sex, and power, a world I knew all too well. KILLER BODY was about women and weight loss, another world I experienced the hard way. As a Gemini, I feel as young today as I did when I was a teen. I am probably the oldest person on the planet who subscribes to Seventeen magazine and reads the teen blogs. I also mentor teen writers. Besides, remember—you don’t have to speak for all teens or all women or all African Americans (as when I wrote my slave short story, “Part Light, Part Memory.”) You write only one person, and you wear this person. You are this person.

MJC: I love that Aries Rising (and all books in this YA trilogy) were inspired by astrology. Can you tell us about the research you did to prepare this series?

BHH: My very best friend is Hazel Dixon-Cooper, who has written the Cosmopolitan magazine astrology column. When she joined my writing workshop many years ago, she was a hospital secretary. I am going to copy her on this, in case she wants to add something. Her first book deal was six figures for two books. Because we are in the same critique group, Hazel has taught me much about astrology. I am not an astrologer. She is. If you really want to learn astrology, you need to read her books.

MJC:  I’m fascinated with astrology. Can you tell us how your astrological sign helps or hinders you as a writer? (By the way, I’m a Scorpio, any advice?)

BHH: Don’t hold on to past pain or dysfunction. Let it go. Most of all, speak. Speak your truth. Some Scorpios have problems with facing the truth and speaking it. Some are too secretive. To you, I would say, once you speak the truth about something, it no longer owns you. You are free. Scorpio is a Water sign, so you may dwell too much in the past. However, if you have a Moon in a Fire or Air sign, you could be lighter.

MJC: What tips can you offer teachers trying to share the love of creative writing with their students?

BHH: I would suggest giving grades/points/whatever in two areas. Give them points for getting it down honestly. Then give them points for execution. There are people in your classroom who don’t know where to put the commas, but they may have the best stories. Why not reward both the scholarly and the street smart? You’ll have more honesty and more love of the process.

MJC:  Tell us what is next in your writing and promotion projects!

BHH: I have three Star Crossed teen novels publishing this year. A Gemini always has something else on the back burner. Right now, I’m just stirring the pot. I’m really happy so many of your readers have entered the contest for the books and the iPod*.

Learn more about Bonnie Hearn Hill:

www.bonniehearnhill.com 

facebook.com/bonnie.h.hill 

facebook.com/StarCrossedseries 

The Star Crossed Series

Aries Rising, March 2010

Taurus Eyes, Summer 2010

Gemini Night, Fall  2010

or follow her blog tour with WOW! Women On Writing.

*31 Days of Aries

 
Your chance to free books–and maybe an iPod Touch
 
The Aries Rising Blog Tour & Book Giveaway continues through March 31. Destinations will be posted daily, and a free copy of Aries Rising will be given away at each one. At the conclusion of the tour, a drawing will be held for an iPod Touch. No purchase is necessary. You can enter as often as you wish, and you can qualify in three ways. 1. Be an Aries. Just send your birth date (month and day) to starcrossed.contest@gmail.com. 2. Write a review and post it anywhere. Send the link to the same address. (More work, I know, and I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to spread the word about my astro series). 3. Post a fan badge on your Facebook page and send the link to above address.

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