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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas, Everyone!









Sunday, December 21, 2014

What? You need some gift ideas for kids? .... YOU'RE WELCOME


Do you have to buy for kids that aren't your own this year? We do too. This year I've decided to go all out. I'm not fully committed yet, but I have it narrowed down to these five options. What do you think? See a winner in there? (I'm leaning towards the FROG HORN... brilliant!) 











Because let's face it, there's nothing better than toys that make noise or fire projectiles. Hours of entertainment for the whole family.


Monday, October 27, 2014

An award... or two :)

This is a quick post to mention a couple things:

First, GLIMPSE, the first book in my Dean Curse Chronicles series won a couple awards. The first was second place in the Readers' Favorite pre teen fiction category:




And the second was the first place in the YA Fiction category from the Literary Classics:



What was interesting to me was the two different categories. I wrote my book with the younger YA audience in mind. I also write MG and so I know that there are different aspects that generally exit within the two categories, and I knew I was straddling a line in a way. In fact, I even market my books to the 10+ audience. But then, a lot of YA titles are similarly marketed.

It was interesting to see judges accepting the story in both the pre-teen and YA categories.





Wednesday, October 8, 2014

BOOKS YOU PROBABLY HAVEN'T READ...



I'm settling into my new digs now,  and getting ready to set more time aside for blogging and posting on  my website and Facebook page. I figured it was time to post something lighter to start things off. 

Quite a while back I posted about some real, but unfortunate book covers/titles, and now I've decided it's time for a follow-up. So, without further ado, I give you part two of the unfortunate book cover/title  collection.

Hope you enjoy :)



I have a feeling Todd is going to want that candy, and  in a few pages the Pinata is going to meet the business end of that bat. But hey, it's a book about sacrifice . . .


These next two go together well, and I often wondered how I'd talk to my kids about such things... now I'll simply get these two books and all their questions will be answered...




The next book I have to admit gave me some pause. Being Canadian it was interesting to see a book about Canadians, and how we mysterious northerners are portrayed. Sure, we're polite, we wear toques and sit on chesterfields. But... well, the four images for WHAT IS A CANADIAN seems a bit off somehow. . .


In Canada it is true that it's pretty rare to see a French girl without her priest, so that photo is pretty accurate. But prospectors don't wear hats like that. I mean, c'mon!

And finally, because I know this is a topic many of you will want to know about:





Because who among us isn't passionate about donkeys?

Know anymore books I should add to the next post like this? Toss a link in the comments section, and I'll add it to the folder.







Wednesday, October 1, 2014

PUTTING DOWN ROOTS



My family and I just completed another move. 

Another.

Move.



Okay, I know, I know, most people have experienced moving at some point in their life, but I feel I have a special relationship (love/hate relationship…mostly hate) with the process. In the past eight years we’ve moved eleven times. Don’t get me wrong, the moves were mostly for the best. We chased opportunities: school; work; life experiences. We did most of the moves before having children, which, now that I’ve experienced two moves with children, was a wise decision.

But for the past eight years we’ve never really settled. We’ve always had furniture in storage. We’ve never unpacked clothing for more than one or two seasons at a time. We’ve collected artwork and mementos from our travels and stored them in boxes. We’ve never even put pictures on walls for fear of impacting our damage-deposits.

The next move was always on the horizon.

And that’s why this move is so different. We’re finally in a place we intend to be for the foreseeable future. We’ve taken all our belongings with us—including pictures and artwork—and intend to fully settle in. We’re putting roots down for the first time in as long as I can remember.

I’m really happy about it. It’s only been a couple days, but I’ve even found that my writing output is increasing now that I have a dedicated space to actually write in. I’ll talk more about what I’m working on in the coming posts, but wanted to share a bit about my experience finally putting down some roots.

Roots… it’s nice to have those again.

Monday, April 14, 2014

#MyWritingProcess -- Blog Tour!



A writer friend of mine, A. B. HARMS who wrote a really cool MG story called BEWILDERED asked me to participate in a blog tour where a bunch of people blog about the same thing. I was happy to have the invitation and quickly accepted.

So the topic is the writing process, and there are four questions. Let’s get to it, shall we?

1)     What am I working on?

I always have more than one project going at a time. Right now I’m working on tweaking the outlines to my CAMBRIDGE FILES series. I am also finishing the draft of PLUNGE, book 4 in the Dean Curse Chronicles. I’m polishing another YA project for my agent, which I am very excited about, but don’t want to talk about just yet.

BUT that’s not all. I am also putting the finishing touches on a 7 book series of MG books that I’ve been working on for a while. I’m excited about these. They’ve been fun to write and I’m excited to see how they’ll be received. The image on the side is one I plan to use in the book.



2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is a really tough question. There are books like mine on the market, so I won’t pretend that mine beat a new path. But I usually ask myself if the story I'm writing is exciting enough to take the reader (a kid between the ages of 9 and 14, in most cases) on an adventure that keeps them guessing. 


I want the reader to expect to be taken on a high-stakes adventure, and thrown some curve balls they weren’t anticipating.  I want parents to trust that my books are clean and age-appropriate, but above all else I want to give the reader a solid adventure. Stories of adventure were always my favorite kinds of books growing up, and actually, they're still my favorite to this day.


Oh, and along the way I’d generally want the reader to laugh a few times too.


3)     Why do I write what I do?

Another tough question. “Why do you write books for kids, Steve?” is a question I get quite a lot actually. I read a lot of books geared for adults, and I have written books for adults too. I like writing those. But I LOVE writing books for kids. Despite having read thousands of novels in my adulthood, and loving many of them, the books I remember most fondly are those books I read when I was a kid. Books like Hardy Boys, or Nancy Drew; those Ramona the Pest books; Charlotte’s web, Harriet the Spy, and just a host of others that I still remember to this day.  

4)     How does your writing process work?
I write in the morning. That’s when I get 90% of my writing done. I wake up early, and write until one of my kids wakes up. I tend to get up quite early though—around three o’clock (or earlier), so I can usually get a solid three to four hours a day. Sometimes more. (As I put the final touches on this post it is 1:45 a.m. and I am up for the day and plan to start writing as soon as I post this.) 
As for the actual process, I am an outliner, and when I start writing I generally have pages and pages of notes on my stories. Usually I’ll have an idea for a book, then I'll write some notes, jot down my immediate thoughts or a scene or two. Then I let that idea percolate for … well, typically several months while I’m working on something else. When I’m ready, I’ll polish the outline until I have a very clear direction for the story and the characters involved and then I start to put the rough draft together.

I can generally write a story pretty quick once the actual writing starts, but when I take into account the time I spend working on the outlines it's actually a pretty long process.

Thanks so much for checking this post out, and again a big thanks to A.B. Harms for inviting me to participate. Part of the blog hop is to invite other authors to do the same and so next week (the week of APRIL 21, 2014) I invite you to check out Vivienne Mathews:

 http://viviennemathews.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why I don't do my own covers...



I had a few people ask me if I came up with the designs for my books, or if my designer did. Well, what a very interesting question and I wanted to post about that. Plus, even though it hasn’t been a great secret, it gives me a chance to show you what the cover for the next installment in the Dean Curse Books will look like. 

So, after I finished the outline for book 4 I decided I wanted to title it DEEP. But after a bit of thought I decided that sounded boring, so I tried BREATHE, and that didn't look right to me either, or rather, it didn't feel active enough, so I changed it to PLUNGE. I mention that so you understand why my concept design that I sent to the designer says DEEP.
Alright, alright, I am sure you are dying to see my superior art skills, so I'll force you to wait no more. 

Cue orchestra. Release the doves. Here it is:

PS- if you love mine more than the designer's hack job of my idea, I am available for commissions :)


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So, what do you think? Have I missed my calling? Should I hang up this whole writing thing and hang a shingle as an artist and book designer?