Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Beth McNamara

Please welcome my guest, EN McNamara to this week's Writer Wednesday. EN's Young Adult series, The Jamie Keller Mystery Series, sounds like a fascinating read about real-world kids dealing with some heavy stuff. Check it out:

EN McNamara, Author
Greetings Readers,

My name is EN McNamara and I am the author of The Jamie Keller Mystery Series.

As I scan the popular YA titles, I can't help but notice that vampires, sorcerers, werewolves and unicorns crowd the shelves. Often the theme is good over evil, light over dark, along with the message that you are the ruler of your own destiny. The Jamie Keller Mysteries are about real people, but the message is the same.

I believe that our mission in this life is to create our own world, and the earlier we learn this critical lesson, the happier and more peaceful our lives will be.  There is a hitch: negative thinking blocks our power. Before we can be masters of our universe, we have to get a handle on our thought process. A simple concept, but not always easy. My main character, Jamie Keller is learning many of these lessons - sometimes the hard way.

I think I am attracted to write for YA audiences because books were so meaningful to me when I was growing up. I also enjoy the middle-school crowd, as I find they possess a high level of hilarity along with very open minds. I’ve been a music teacher for the last six years so I’ve rock and rolled with the best of them.

My writing career began quite by accident. My partner, Jerry and I were mushroom hunting in our woods. Our new kittens Schwartz and Isaiah,  insisted on following us. The problem was that they had just been neutered that very morning and we were instructed by the Vet to let them rest. Out of concern we cut our trek a little shorter than usual, and the wee cats made it home without incident - they’re still alive today and quite fat. Later that evening as we sat by our wood-stove, over a glass of wine, we cooked up the bones to the first book, Off the Grid. I jumped up, grabbed my computer and began the story. It was finished thirty days later.

The Jamie Keller Mystery Series are about everyday people. The kids in the story are not super heroes.  They go to school, have chores, and worry about money and grades. They experience young love, unrequited love and the misery of jealousy. They have misunderstandings with friends and family members. They do good deeds, and they make mistakes. They dream - and sometimes they make their dreams come true.
Here are some short descriptions of the series:

Off the Grid -When Jamie Keller's father is killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb, her mother decides to combat the financial and emotional stress by moving the family from Hamilton, Ohio to the rural town of Promise, Oregon.

Fourteen-year-old Jamie narrates the tale of the journey, intermingling descriptions of family dynamics with her own personal philosophy of life.
The victims of Jamie's scrutiny include: older sister Jenny, who listens to praise music and wears a WWJD bracelet; younger brother Jake, contained and brainy, with know-it-all tendencies; and little sister Jana, lover of animals and sometimes the comic relief.

In Reno, Nevada, the mystery begins when Jamie's mother fails to pick the kids up at the mall as had been previously arranged.

After waiting for hours in the blazing heat, brother Jake finally goes in search of his mom only to return with an amazing story. He has located the car, and everything in it is intact (including the family's pet cats), but Mrs. Keller is nowhere to be found. Intensive searching proves futile. Their mother has vanished!

Nervous about becoming wards of the state of Nevada, and fearful of being put in separate foster homes, the Keller kids decide to avoid authority, choosing instead to take the gamble, and continue on to Promise, Oregon.

On the way into town, a giant JESUS banner is the first sign that Promise is in a bible belt. Jenny is thrilled, Jamie, not so.
Upon arriving at the ranch, the Kellers are met with further disappointment when they discover that the 'ranch' is nothing more than an old trailer, situated off the grid. Jake is in his element, with the challenge of solar panels, batteries and generators, but the girls are far from enchanted.

War, religion, world peace, inner peace, dealing with financial stress and self sufficiency are some of the key topics in this story.

Readers relate to the characters in Off the Grid, Over the Edge and In the Groove. The series can be read out of order but it’s much better to start at the beginning. If you do enjoy The Jamie Keller Mystery Series, I would sincerely appreciate a kindly review on Amazon.

Book 4 in the series, On the Brink, will be released in 2014.

Have a great summer Everybody,

EN McNamara

p.s. Last but not least, I’d like to thank Natalie Wright for hosting me on her blog - Thank you, Natalie!

Amazon Link

B&N Link


Monday, July 29, 2013

Call for Participation in a new ParaNORMAL Project:

Have you had an experience that you can't explain? Ever seen a ghost? A UFO? Are you psychic or know someone who is? Have you had dreams that came true or premonitions?

I want to hear YOUR STORIES about experiences with the unexplained, the mysterious, the magical, metaphysical, spiritual, other-worldly . . . you get the picture.

If you have a story - or know someone who has - that you'd like to share, please contact me. I'll set up an interview and if your story is one that I think will be of general interest, I'll post your story on a new YouTube channel and here on my blog. 

E-mail me your story to: natwritesya (at) gmail (dot) com.

Friday, July 26, 2013

COVER REVEAL for The SWITCH by Dawn Pendleton and Andrea Heltsley

I'm so excited to be a part of the cover reveal for this fabulous new book, The Switch, co-authored by Dawn Pendleton and Andrea Heltsley. Who doesn't love a story about twins making the switch? Check it out:

The Switch, by Dawn Pendleton and Andrea Heltsley

The Switch

By Dawn Pendleton and Andrea Heltsley
   Honor and Faith haven’t switched places since they were kids. When Honor begs her twin sister to go on a date with her boyfriend, Cameron, Faith reluctantly agrees. The problem is that she lets things go too far. Now Honor and Cameron have broken up and he won’t stop calling Faith, claiming he felt something more for her than he ever felt for Honor. The scary thing is, Faith felt it too. She struggles to come to terms with her feelings for Cameron. There is one rule that sisters and best friends abide by, don’t date their ex’s.
   Honor has her own problems. Breaking it off with Cameron was the right thing to do, she knows that. His best friend, Parker, won’t leave her alone and forces her to talk about her feelings about the break-up. They spend a lot of time together and Honor starts to heal. Suddenly, Honor sees Parker as more than just a friend who cares. She wants more.
   Neither sister wants to complicate things further and cross those boundaries. They can’t stop their emotions for the guys in their lives. Turns out, the switch is the one thing that has changed them forever.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Writer Wednesday is Out of the Wilderness with Deb Vanasse

Out of the Wilderness, by Deb Vanasse
Please welcome author Deb Vanasse to this week's Writer Wednesday. Deb is the author of several books but this week I'm featuring her second Young Adult book, Out of the Wilderness. This week Deb shares with us a glimpse into her writing world and her inspiration for Out of the Wilderness. Deb's book sounds like a great read and I can't wait to dig in. How about you?

Where Book Ideas Come From?

Deb Vanasse
July 17, 2013

Where do you get your ideas? Along with questions about how books get their covers, this is a question I’m frequently asked as a writer.

The question annoys some writers, probably because it’s asked so often, at some level suggesting that there’s some magical garden of ideas that grow like Jack’s beanstalk in our fertile backyards, and if only we’d reveal the secret of where that garden can be found, writing books would be easy. Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) got so tired of questions about where he got his ideas that he printed a card to hand out, with an explanation of exactly how he got his ideas: by venturing out at midnight, under the full moon on the summer solstice, into the desert, where he met with a wise old Native American who gave him his ideas. (Where the wise Native American got the ideas, Geisel couldn’t say.)

A book idea is a big thing to pin down. To truly know what your book is about, at its deepest level, you have to write it, and because of the way the subconscious works, it ends up with interwoven ideas that come from a number of places­—life, suggestion, dreams, landscape—that may or may not be identifiable. I don’t mind talking about ideas once the book is finished, as long as my readers understand that as the author, I may never be 100 percent sure of where my ideas came from.

Out of the Wilderness, my second young adult novel, began back in 1992, though I didn’t know at the time that a book idea was in the works. I was living in Fairbanks, Alaska, teaching high school. The school year had just started up when the newspaper reported that the body of 25-year-old Christopher McCandless, who called himself Alexander Supertramp, had been discovered in an abandoned bus on the Stampede Trail, less than 100 miles from where I was living. When found, McCandless had been dead for three weeks. His body weighed 67 pounds.

Strong-willed and idealistic, Chris McCandless had, upon graduation from college, given away the $24,000 that was intended for law school and begun traveling the country under his Supertramp alias. He went west from Virginia to South Dakota, Arizona, California, and into Baja, Mexico, before heading north to Alaska. Grossly underprepared for the wilderness, he hiked into an area north of Denali National Park and Preserve, where he survived for 112 days until he died.

It should be noted that stories like those of McCandless tend to raise the ire of Alaskans. You don’t go into the Bush unprepared. Period. If you don’t respect this country and its hazards, you shouldn’t be here.

Still, I found the story fascinating. So did Jon Krakauer, who wrote about McCandless for Outside Magazine in 1993. Expanding on the article, Krakauer released a nonfiction book, Into the Wild, in 1996; Sean Penn directed a film version of the story in 2007.

Into the Wild
Film Written and Directed by Sean Penn

Yes, there’s a connection.

When I first came to Alaska, I lived in some pretty remote places, accessible only by bush plane, motorboat, and snowmachine. Then I had children and, partly for their benefit, I’d moved from the Bush to Fairbanks. As they grew, I sometimes thought of how nice it might be to return to a simpler lifestyle in a more remote place, where we wouldn’t have to concern ourselves with TV or after-school activities or getting along with the neighbors or buying the latest trend in shoes.

Then I thought of what that would be like if I were the kid, not the mom. If I were a fifteen-year-old boy who wanted his life to be normal for once. If the boy’s older brother were a guy like McCandless, idealistic and stubborn and reckless. If their father’s guilt kept him from thinking straight about the whole situation.

There you have it—the ideas that developed into a story, the seeds planted long before the harvest, the inspiration in part, as for many writers, by the work of another author. There’s a lot more to it, of course. Pieces of my own life found their way into the story—the missing mother, my affinity for place, the tension between responsibility for others and my own desires, guilt, not knowing my brother as well as I wanted to, and likely a bunch of stuff I’ve yet to identify.

Deb Vanasse (@debvanasse) is the author of several books for children and adults, including the Junior Literary Guild selection A Distant Enemy and Battle Books Totem Tale and Lucy’s Dance. Her twelfth book, Black Wolf of the Glacier, is a 2013 release by the University of Alaska Press. Her current projects (for grown-ups) include Cold Spell, a novel about a woman who’s obsessed with a glacier, and a narrative nonfiction book called Wealth Woman: Kate Carmack and the Last Great Race for Gold. You’ll find her at,, and, where a version of this post ran eariler.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Writer Wednesday: Finding the Real in the Fantasy with Author Chele Cooke

I'm so happy to introduce fantasy author Chele Cooke to my blog readers. Chele is an awesome sci-fi and fantasy writer who hails from across the pond. Here, Chele shares her thoughts on how writers bring their fantasy and fantastical worlds to life for readers:

Finding the Real in the Fantasy
Guest Post by Chele Cooke

As a sci-fi and fantasy writer, one of my favourite compliments to be given by readers is ‘you made me feel like I was right there.’ When we’re creating whole new worlds, this is a big achievement.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, yet we are constantly told as writers that we need to get to the action faster, hook the reader in quicker. So, when you don’t always have a thousand words, how do you paint a realistic picture of your world and the characters within it?

If you look at popular Sci-Fi and fantasy franchises, you will often find that the protagonist is new to the world, or at least aspects of it, that we, as the reader, are being pulled into. If you look at Harry Potter as an example, Harry is new to the wizarding world, and as the reader, we explore with him, gaining understanding as he does. This use of an outsider stepping into the world for the first time binds the reader to the main character, not only making things easier for us to understand, but also creating an empathetic bond between reader and character, because, new to the world ourselves, we understand the excitement of it.

Imagination is a wonderful thing that allows a reader great scope, but as people, we also like the familiar. We use metaphors and similes, grounding images in the familiar in order to help tie a tangible rope to a new image or idea. It is much easier for a reader to imagine an image similar to one they know from their life, than a completely new image they have never encountered.

New languages can also be implemented in Sci-Fi and Fantasy, especially if you are exploring multiple new settings. However, try to intersperse the words of this foreign tongue with the language you’re writing in. Having sentences of a new language will only confuse and frustrate the reader. If you have conversation to occur in this new tongue, a language your protagonist does not understand, simply comment that they spoke in their foreign tongue and instead focus on the facial expressions and body language of the characters speaking. We gain 70% of our understanding from body language, and 15% from tone of voice. So, even if your character does not understand the words, you can very easily ensure that the reader understands the conversation.

Individual words can also become problematic if the reader cannot pronounce them with ease. I have a number of new words and names in my first sci-fi series, and to ensure that these new words were not tripping readers up, I tried to ensure that even if the pronunciation the reader attributed was slightly wrong, they were at least able to make the pronunciation as easily as possible. If you line up a Q, a J, and an F next to each other in a word, for example, you will have readers struggling because it’s not a combination we have ever experienced.

I used a number of Eastern European languages as the basis of my language Adtvenis, with words and names like Edtroka, Drysta, and Tyllenich. While none of these words are direct translations, or even the same words as used in any Eastern European language, by keeping the words within a general feel of an existing language, it becomes more believable to the reader, and easier for them to get to grips with, as they know not only the individual words, but through them, begin to get a feel for accent and rhythm.

The creation of new ideas, places, and even languages, is one of my favourite reasons to write Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I can go wherever my imagination takes me. By employing some of these points to your writing, grounding the fantastical into everyday reality, you can ensure that your readers will follow your imagination wherever it chooses to go.

For further information stuff,
my website:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Manic Monday: Cover Reveal for Veiled Shadows by Morgan Wylie

On this Manic Monday, I'm happy to share with you the cover reveal for Veiled Shadows by Morgan Wylie. Check it out:

Veiled Shadows by Morgan Wylie

Here is the blurb:

Shadows linger where light is obstructed, and truth is veiled.

Evil is an untreated disease in the once beautiful realm of Alandria.

Kaeleigh is faced with a revelation that she must reconcile. She will decide if discovering the truth is worth the unknown consequences to both herself and her friends.

Daegan, the Ferrishyn warrior, is conflicted by more than his loyalties, and is confronted with emotions he doesn’t know how to deal with. A choice must be made. A choice… that may cost him more than he ever wanted to give.

The Droch-ShĂșil—enforcers and servants of the ancient darkness—continue to cast their shadow over Alandria seeking those who can be turned to their side.

The magic of The Orchids is growing, but not everyone will survive what is to come.

Veiled Shadows is the second installment in The Age of Alandria series: the story of the Sol-lumieth’s quest for freedom of self and the power to battle the evil of the Droch-ShĂșil.

Morgan Wylie, originally from the Pacific Northwest, now resides near Nashville, TN with her husband and daughter. She and her husband work everyday at their individual and combined creative pursuits while she learns to balance being “Mama”, wife, and mediator to the many voices and muses constantly chattering in her head. 

You can find Morgan and news on her books at the following:

MorganWylieBooks on Facebook
@MWylieBooks on Twitter
Goodreads and Amazon (Author Bio)

Her novel Silent Orchids (The Age of Alandria~Book One) is available: 

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