Interview with Robert Eggleton, author of “Rarity from the Hollow”

Happy Holidays, Pat! I hope that you’re doing okay. After Christmas, the publisher is going to make the next deposit of author proceeds from the Rarity from the Hollow project into the nonprofit agency’s account for the prevention of child maltreatment. Millions of American children will spend this holiday in temporary shelters. A lot more world-wide are likely to spend their respective “holidays” in worse conditions. Having once been the director of emergency children’s shelters in West Virginia, it is still heartbreaking to think about children not having a “real” family during Christmas. I remember the faces, the smiles and thank yous for the presents from staff, but….

I also wanted you to know that the novel received a very cool review by Amazing Stories Magazine. This is my tweet: “Amusing at times, shocking at others, a touching and somehow wonderful SFF read.” Full review by Amazing Stories Magazine: http://bit.ly/2kbsAlV On Sale for Christmas: http://amzn.to/2lF5BPS Proceeds help maltreated children: www.childhswv.org

Thanks again for interviewing me.

Welcome, Robert. What is your book about?

Rarity from the Hollow written by Robert Eggleton, …(is) a great read – semi-autobiographical literary work full of beautiful and ugly things, adventure, romance, pain and humor….”
— Top 100 Amazon Reviewer

Rarity from the Hollow is a children’s story, for adults. It is a social science fiction novel with elements of true-love type romance, every-day horror, paranormal, and adventure. The content includes serious social commentary, comedy, and satire. Lacy Dawn is the protagonist. She occupies the body of an eleven year old, and sounds like one, but has evolved under the supervision of Universal Management for hundreds of thousand of years. She is not a typical little girl, and if you think of her as such, you may be shocked.

Rarity from the Hollow is not for the fainthearted, prudish, or easily offended.

Lacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt Brownie, a dog who’s very skilled at laying fiber optic cable. Lacy Dawn’s android boyfriend has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth’s earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop ’till You Drop): he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save the Universe in exchange for the designation of Earth as a planet which is eligible for continued existence within a universal economic structure that exploits underdeveloped planets for their mineral content. Lacy Dawn’s magic helps her to save the universe, Earth, and, most importantly, her own family. At first, this story seems sooooo serious, until……. Then, through the darkness, or perhaps because of it, laugh-out-loud comedy erupts to move the plot toward an outrageous closing scene.

Saving an entire universe is a big job for anybody. It takes more than just magic. Lacy Dawn needs a team and a very strong sense of humor. First, she motivates the android into helping her fix her family by putting her foot down and flat out telling him that she won’t save the universe unless he helps her first. The android agrees to the terms. After Lacy Dawn’s father is cured of his mental health problems and stops being so mean to Lacy Dawn and her mom, Lacy Dawn next arranges for her to mother get her rotten teeth replaced, pass her GED, and to get a driver’s license. The mother feels so much better about herself that she also joins the team. By this time, the android has fallen so deeply in love with Lacy Dawn that she has him wrapped around her little finger. Add a pot head neighbour who sells marijuana and has a strong sense for business transactions, Brownie, a dog who proves to have tremendous empathy for the most vile occupants of any planet, and Faith, the ghost of Lacy Dawn’s best friend who was murdered by her own father — the team is ready to embark on a very weird off-world adventure.

Of course, in preparation for the mission, Lacy Dawn has studied for hours to learn about sociology, math, economics, psychology, languages, culture and every other school subject that has a title — her brain gets so filled up with knowledge directly downloaded from a universal database that she increasingly needs the perspectives of others on her team to sort it all out. Working together, the team figures out how a few greedy capitalists had made such a mess of the entire universe and how to prevent its destruction without intentionally killing one single being.

“…You will enjoy the ride with Lacy Dawn, her family and friends, but don’t expect the ride to be without a few bumps, and enough food to last you a long time.”
— Darrell Bain, Award Winning Author

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’ve dreamed of becoming a rich and famous author since winning the eighth grade short story contest in 1965. Of course, reality got in the way. Except for a couple of poems, one published in a student anthology and another published in an alternative newsletter when I was in college, I’ve started a zillion stories but finished none – until the last decade.

I earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1977 and have worked in the field of children’s advocacy for over forty years. I wrote nonfiction that was published: social service manuals, policy, grants, draft legislation, investigative reports, research, and statistical reports on child abuse and delinquency. Looking back, I now think that writing nonfiction took the edge off, so to speak, of my heartfelt dream to become a fiction writer.

Over the years, I my work has involved interacting with a lot of “characters” – “street” people, homeless folks, those who had mental illnesses or addictions, as well as, corporate leaders, business owners, supportive and abusive family members, governmental authorities, legislators, rich benefactors and food stamp recipients of all ages, races, genders…. If Sears still produced a catalogue, it would run out of pages before I could blurb about all of the characters inside my head. I began fictionalizing characters and fitting them into stories that were never finished.

In 2002, I started a job as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program Most of the kids, like myself as a child, had been traumatized, some having experienced extreme sexual abuse. Part of my job was facilitating group therapy sessions. One day at work in 2006, a few seats away from me around a table used for written therapeutic exercises sat a skinny eleven year old with stringy brown hair. This girl was inspiring to other kids, staff, and, especially to me and my dream of writing fiction. Her name became Lacy Dawn. Rather than focusing on her victimization, she spoke of dreams – finding a loving family that respected her physically and spiritually. She inspired me to make my own dream come true, to write fiction and I haven’t stopped writing since I first met her that day during a group therapy session.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

A piece of me is a part of every character in Rarity from the Hollow. I’ll give you a couple of example, but there are plenty of others:

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. in 1951, but I grew up around Charleston, West Virginia. Shortly after I was born, my father graduated from television repair school in Cleveland. My family returned home to West Virginia. Even though I didn’t remember living in Cleveland, during my childhood I would brag to my peers that I’d been out-of-state since I was born in Ohio. It boosted my social status because very few of my peers had been anyplace other than their own ghettos.

Similar to the protagonist’s father in Rarity from the Hollow, my own father had PTSD caused by World War II traumas that he treated with alcohol. Before I started elementary school, he had become so dysfunctional that my mother would run him off. He would return when sober, “fall off the wagon” and my mother would run him off again, and again. Since we couldn’t pay the rent regularly, we moved frequently — shacks and dilapidated houses in one impoverished neighborhood after another, into and out of the rural hollows outside of our small town. Typically, I would change schools three or four times a year. Everyplace that we moved, I would brag to my peers that I’d been out-of-state, and they were impressed. Neither fathers, my own nor the protagonist’s, could hold down a job for very long – also incorporated into the story.

In early chapters, the theme, “out-of-state” was prominent in Rarity from the Hollow. The protagonist’s mother, Jenny, begins the story as a down-trodden victim of domestic violence. After an off-planet comical adventure, Jenny doesn’t need to brag anymore about having once gone out-of-state because she had also been born in Cleveland, like me.

“Out-of-state” was also an element of a scene during which Lacy Dawn delivers psychotherapy to classmates at school. In this scene, a boy’s father is unemployed because the coal mine had shut down. The boy is being treated by Lacy Dawn for anxiety related to the family’s intention to move out-of-state so that the father can look for a job in Cleveland.

“Out-of-state” was also used in two scenes involving the android. In the first scene, the android had been assigned by Universal Management to perform a job on another planet. He had to leave Earth, leave Lacy Dawn. At this point in the story, the android was beginning to fall in love and to modify his programming so that he could feel more human-like emotions. In this scene, the android sheds his first tear because he has to leave the Hollow and go “out-of-state” for a new job.

The last scene that mentions “out-of-state” involves the android’s return to the Hollow from the out-of-state job. In this scene, he is introduced to Jenny as Lacy Dawn’s fiancé for when she’s old enough to marry. Following is an excerpt showing, in relevant part, Jenny’s head thoughts at one point in the scene:

It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again…They’ve been together for a while and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I‘d better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby.

Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

I have many characters, many more than those introduced in Rarity from the Hollow. Picking a favorite would be like a parent picking a favorite son or daughter. Each character has strengths, weaknesses, attributes…let me tell you about Browne. I love that mutt, but maybe that’s because Brownie is so easy to love. He’s Lacy Dawn’s dog and plays an important role in her plan to save the universe. Here are some of his qualities. Maybe you have a pet like this.
• Defensively Brave
• Unconditionally Loving
• Forgiving
• Dutiful
• Entertaining
• Bright
• Stupid Exactly at the Right Times
• Empathetic
• Sensible

I could go on, but……..

Why will readers relate to your characters?

Readers already know my characters. They are neighbors, friends, the “black sheep” of our families, the politicians that we see on TV, the guy that we wish hadn’t moved into our neighborhoods, the boss, the preacher…. Readers will probably relate to my characters the same as they relate to people occupying these and other roles in their lives.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took about one year, writing after I got home from work and on weekends to complete Rarity from the Hollow. Working with the editor took another six months, but a lot of this was down time, waiting on mailings of the next draft of the manuscript to arrive, etc. Wring is the quick and easy part about being an author. Marketing one’s work to publishers, editors, and self-promotion – that’s the time consuming part about being an author, sometimes there is no time to actually write.

Did you do any research for the book? If so, how did you do it? (searching Internet, magazines, other books, etc.)

For my type of writing interests, research is less important than if I was into writing hard science fiction, and the world building had to be based upon more reasonable scientific projections of the future. When I’ve needed information, I’ve only used search engines. For example, I needed a name for a planet that had a Biblical reference because of the theme of the story. The story was not religious but the planet’s history was predominated by long series of invasions. I remembered a similar scenario from church Sunday school when I was a child. I used a search engine and came up with the name “Achaia” for the planet. Look it up and let me know if you think that it was a good name. There are plenty of other similar examples, but the worlds that I build just have to be visible in the reader’s mind, and a person can see almost anything even if it is hallucinatory. I research as much as I think is needed to make the scenes feel real for the reader.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

Yes, there are many messages in everything that I have written and will write. That’s why I think of my writing as social science fiction – that’s what it’s all about. But that doesn’t mean the messages will be interpreted by one reader the same as interpreted by another. I don’t write or want to read anything that is “preachy.” Heck, I don’t even think that religious literature, like the pamphlets that one finds on the floors of public toilet stalls, should be so preachy. I wouldn’t want to touch such content, even if it would have been delivered under more sanitary conditions. I want to write about important issues that one person may think support a particular position but the next reader finds the opposite. I don’t have the answers to the most important questions and challenges that humans face.
Your question reminds me of a line from Rarity from the Hollow that a reviewer had pulled out and posted on a blog because she thought that it was significant for some reason:
A person can know everything, but still not have a true answer to an actual question.
The narrative of this novel addressed social issues: poverty, domestic violence, child maltreatment, local and intergalactic economics, mental health concerns – including PTSD experienced by Veterans and the medicinal use of marijuana for treatment of Bipolar Disorder, Capitalism, and touched on the role of Jesus: “Jesus is everybody’s friend, not just humans.” These messaged do not advocate for anything specific. In my opinion, it is critical that such messages be in every piece of literature, even comics and erotica, but each of us have to find truths within our own hearts and minds.
One of my personal truths is that enough is not being done to prevent child abuse / exploitation in the world. Author proceeds from the Lacy Dawn Adventures project have been donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia: http://www.childhswv.org/

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

I enjoy writing. Writing itself doesn’t present challenges. Sure, there were plenty of next days after staying up most of the night that presented a challenge to maintaining quality work performance, but that wasn’t a “biggie.” The real challenges begin after a story is finished and involve the hard work that it takes to interest others in taking a minute to check out what you’ve produced. The marketplace if flooded with books. Unless an author is rich and buys promotional services, and I’m broke, every step of the path after the last period of a story is an uphill climb. I’m climbing, and it is a challenge to maintain drive, persistence and hope. Who was that guy that said something like, “I have a dream…?”

What are you working on right now?

I always have several works in progress at the same time. Since I’ve recently retired, the difference is that I’ve become productive. Instead of ideas, partially developed and then abandoned because life has gotten in the way, I’m reaching closure on a ton of older half-baked stories. A new short story just got rejected by a major science fiction magazine, so I’ve got some work to do on it, especially since I agree that it was prematurely submitted.

COtiguaXAAUzQ_zIvy, my next novel, is almost ready for professional editing. I’m holding off, trying to build name recognition before I submit it to the publisher for consideration. Ivy is a story about the lengths that children will go to help parents overcome drug addition, and includes satire about U.S. military recruitment practices and world religions.

My dream with respect to writing fiction is to get to the place where I no longer need to request book reviews, but instead book reviewers ask the publisher for a copy of my work to review. I’m hopeful that I’ll get to that place with Rarity from the Hollow and then have the release of Ivy perfectly timed so that I can concentrate on writing instead of promotions.

I’ve submitted and am awaiting decisions on two poems, another short story, and a satirical essay by three magazines and one journal. I am prolific if not too distracted with promoting my works. That’s what is slow and drawn out – self promotions, the hardest part, by far, of the role of “writer.”

Purchase Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton/dp/190713395X/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rarity-Hollow-Robert-Eggleton/dp/1907133062

Author Contacts:

http://www.lacydawnadventures.com
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13603677-rarity-from-the-hollow
https://www.facebook.com/robert.eggleton2
https://twitter.com/roberteggleton1

John McFarland, Author of “Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom”

momHi Pat. My new novel is my first for Young Readers. It is about Bigfoot and is called “Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom.” It is currently available from New Babel Books, from Amazon. My website is http://annettethemom.com

Welcome, John. What is your book about?

The novel is a richly illustrated story of a spoiled second grader who gets lost in the woods and is rescued by a lonely, middle-aged Sasquatch mom who is suffering from empty nest syndrome. The tale is based on an alleged true story and follows the adventures of the unlikely pair as Annette devises a plan to get the boy safely back to his parents while avoiding a hungry mountain lion, hunters, and a sweets-loving cryptozoologist who wants to capture Annette.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I have been interested in Bigfoot since I was about ten, when I saw an article about them is a magazine I found in my grandmother’s magazine rack. I met my illustrator in 2010 after my first novel was published, and I wanted to think of something I could write that she could illustrate. Bigfoot seemed like a perfect fit.

When were you first published?

I was first published nationally in the early 1980’s in The Twilight Zone Magazine. Later I appeared in National Lampoon and in the anthology A Treasury of American Horror Stories, along with Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft.

What do you like to read?

I enjoy classic horror like the great 19th century masterpieces. Also mainstream work like Flannery O’Connor, James Joyce and William Faulkner.

What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written?

I would say Frankenstein. A great Romantic and metaphysical work, not only on horror, but on mankinds connection to science and nature and the penalty for abrogating responsibility.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received?

Isaac Asimov. I corresponded with him when I was a teen. I lamented that my best ideas kept popping up as movies and other peoples stories. He said original ideas are overrated and nearly impossible to come by. Take the idea and make it your own, he said.

Have you written any other books?

Yes, my historical horror novel The Black Garden appeared in 2010 to universally positive reviews. I have several other unfinished novels in the works.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

Most definitely. I am amazed at how organic a process writing is, how it constantly surprizes me and things develop in my stories I didnt forsee.

Who did your cover?

The cover for Annette: A Big, Hairy Mom was done by my illustrator, Brenna Vaughan, who has illustrated many other children’s books.

Where can people learn more about your books?

On my website, http://annettethemom.com, and on my author page on Amazon and Goodreads.

Eileen Donovan, Author of “Charlie’s Flight through the Fire”

Eileen DonovanWhat is your book about?

My book, Charlie’s Flight through the Fire is the tale of Charlie’s travels to Fireland, where he meets the Fire Princess and goes on a problem-solving adventure for her. Along the way, he must resolve some inner conflicts and questions. Will he keep his promise to the Princess, or seek a shortcut to his own happiness?

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’ve always loved fairy tales and I came across a great book, Beyond the Looking Glass, with Victorian fairy tales, poems, and novellas. Most of these were totally new stories to me. After reading a few, I decided that they should be resurrected and retold for today’s children. Charlie is the retelling of one of those.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I’m retelling another old satirical fairy tale, which I call Nonni’s Nosegay. It was originally written for children and adults. I’m having a lot of fun updating this story, and adding current language and bugaboos. I’m also in the revision stage of an original fairy tale, Adventures with Zooey and Billie, the Spotted Horse.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress?

A one-sentence synopsis of Nonni’s Nosegay: A tale of political foibles and the comeuppance of pretentious people.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I never thought I would be a writer. When I was in college, my most dreaded class was creative writing. In fact, when I decided to take on the challenge of retelling some of the old stories, I didn’t really think I could do it. But with my husband’s encouragement (okay, pushing me every step of the way), I buckled down and took the plunge.

Does writing come easy for you? What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

The most surprising part of being a writer is that it does come fairly easy to me. Once I develop the idea, I don’t usually have a hard time writing it down. Most of my time seems to be spent looking for exactly the right word to express what I’m thinking. In Zooey, I spent days doing research to make sure all the facts were correct. Without the Internet and the Thesaurus, writing would be very hard for me.

What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?

My current writing goals are to finish Nonni, revise Zooey, and promote Charlie. I have two other books coming out soon and will have to address promoting all three books. Juggling all that, and writing, will be my own personal adventure. But I’m hoping to learn a lot by promoting Charlie. Somewhere, I hope, I’ll be able to find a balance between promotional activity and writing.

Have you written any other books?

I have two books, Four Wishes for Timmy and Jake and the Wizard of Tilmore Forest, coming out, possibly in November, from Second Wind Publishing. Actually, the two books are based on a retelling of the same Victorian fairy tale and will be published together as one book. One half will be Timmy’s story and then the reverse half will be Jake’s. Timmy’s story takes place in the 1600’s, whereas Jake is a boy in the 21st century. It’s a unique concept and I’m very happy Mike Simpson (Second Wind’s publisher) thought of it.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Sometimes the names just pop into my head, like Nonni and Zooey. Other times, I try to invent names that might give a clue to the character’s personality. And there is always the serendipity moment when you see a name and you know you have to put it in a story. That happened to me while driving to Delaware. I passed an exit for Dinwiddie, VA and knew that I couldn’t let the name go to waste. So I pulled off at the next exit, and pulled out my trusty notebook (I never leave home without it) and wrote it down. That translated to Archduke Dinwiddie, a major character in Nonni’s Nosegay.

Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?

Zooey and Billie definitely took on lives of their own. Sometimes I really began to wonder where they were leading me. My other characters do pop out, but I usually rein them in so I don’t drift too far from the actual fairy tale I’m retelling.

Would it matter to you if you were never published? (In other words, would it matter if no one ever read your books?) Why or why not?

I guess I originally thought it wouldn’t matter if anyone read my books. But as my characters grew and came to life, I really wanted to share them and their stories with other people, in my case, children of all ages. So yes, it matters if my books get published. These old fairy tales are treasures and they deserve to be dusted off, freshened up, and cherished by a whole new generation of story lovers.

Who designed your cover?

My cover and all the illustrations in Charlie were done by Ginnie Conaway. She has been an absolute pleasure to work with, and I feel privileged that she has included my opinion in every step of the process.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or your books?

I’ve had the privilege of living in different parts of this country and I’ve met some very different types of people. But I’ve always found that everyone, especially children, loves a good story. Maybe that’s why I write – to bring stories to people that will allow them to escape to a fantasy world where dreams come true. Everyone, even children, need to stretch his or her imaginations and reach beyond the mundane humdrum dreariness of routine. A little sprinkling of fairy dust on the mind can transport us, even if just for a little while. I hope my books do that.

Where can people learn more about your books?

I talk about my books and their progress on my blog, Sparrow’s Castle (sparrowscastle.wordpress.com) and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/#1/eileen.donovan.923). I’m also currently building a website that will be interactive. I will post the opening lines of a story, and kids will be able to complete it. The story will change every month. I’ll announce the opening of the website on Sparrow’s Castle and Facebook.

Interview with Cody, the Hero of “Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo” by John Stack

Who are you and where do you live?

My name is Cody. My mom said not to tell my last name because of the publicity. I live in Treble City.

Do you have any special strengths?

I’m pretty smart for an 8 year old, at least my Mom thinks so.

Do you have any skills?

I’m very curious. Sometimes it gets me into trouble. I also like to set things right if I can, like if someone is being treated bad.

Do you have a hero?

I really like Spiderman. Some of the other superheroes are okay, too. But, he can climb walls. So, Spiderman is my favorite.

Are you honorable?

I like to think so. My Mom and Dad taught me to do things that were right.

What makes you happy?

I’m happy when I feel that my Mom and Dad are proud of me.

Do you get along with your parents?

My Mom and Dad are great. At times, they do get fed up with some of the things I do, but I know they still love me.

Who was your first love?

If you don’t count my Mom then it would have to be Ms Morgan, my 3rd grade teacher. She is only a few years older than me and she is a pirate. I do have a few girls in my class, but most of them are still yucky.

Have you ever had an adventure?

Just one, but very few people believe me. Here’s what happened. Our class went on a field trip and our bus turned into a pirate ship. We bumped into a jel-urtle and escaped by using chocolate chip cookies. Then we went to Host Isle and found an Arang-a-roo and a Croc-adill-phant. Then we came home. I have no idea where Host Isle is, but I have been there.

What is your most prized possession?

My most prized possession is my emergency backpack. Even though I put stuff in there, I can always find what I need for an emergency.

What is your favorite food?

I really like pizza with lots of cheese, but it gets messy. I usually get it all over my face. My next favorite is cookies, especially chocolate chip. The best cookies come from Suzanne’s Bake Shop in Treble City.

What is your favorite beverage?

I really like almond milk. My Mom won’t let me drink much else except water.

Name five items in your pockets or backpack?

I carry my favorite marbles, a cat’s eye and a shooter. It’s blue. I have a small screwdriver. I also carry a small flashlight and my lucky quarter.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

If I had to be stranded on deserted island I think I would like Mr. Fletcher, the school custodian. He can do lots of things and speak several languages. If not him, then Mr. Arang-a-roo. Not only can he hop up high, he can climb trees too. He would be real good at finding food.

Where can we find out more about you and your story?

Check out my story @ http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=154&osCsid=12d5999b0c66e57ab41d49027ecb9554
It is available at Second Wind Publishing, Barnhill Books in Winston-Salem, NC and on Amazon.

John Stack, author of “Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo”

What is your book about?

In my book “Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo”, Cody’s class is going on a field trip to the Onmi-zoo, or so they think. The school custodian, who is driving the bus, turns down a dark alley. He drives the bus in to a lake and it turns into a pirate ship, of which the custodian is 1st mate and their teacher is the captain. They are going on an expedition to Host Isle find some strange, but wonderful beasts. On the way, they encounter a giant sea monster with an exotic taste for chocolate chip cookies. Once they arrive on Host Isle and began their search, they come across the Orange Arang-a-roo. They also find some other very different animals, all of which want to go live at the Omni-zoo. It was an amazing trip, but did it really happen or was it just a dream? Arrrgh!

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

The idea for Cody began to develop about a year and a half before I started writing. The idea started as “Confused Zoo” but I couldn’t get it to mesh. I put Cody and one other character back in the back of my brain and the rest of the stuff in a folder. I developed a few new characters, but could not get the story going. So, I took my ideas and refilled them back into the back of my brain and let things cook. A few months later I became bored while my students were taking a test. It was at this point when it all came together.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Please remember that I write picture books, so keeping that in mind, from the point where all of my thoughts came together, it took about five hours of sporadic writing to get down the basics. After that it took another 2-3 hours to add specifics, like the ending. After I was satisfied with the story, I put it away for about a month. I then took it out for editing and reviewed it like I was reading it for the first time. So, if you look at the total time from initial concept to completion – at least a year. If you look at actual work, then maybe 15-16 hours.

What is your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

Since I work full time, have a 3 year old and we foster parent a newborn, I do not have a writing schedule per say. If I have free time after 9:00 pm I may write down some ideas or if we are traveling to the local big cities, I may have time to jot down a few thoughts. (Usually my wife drives everywhere we go.)

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on an idea for another “Cody” book that includes the discovery of another realm. Book 2 of the series is at the publisher and involves a rescue from the zoo. Book 3 awaits editing and involves a little girl that can change shapes.

At what age did you discover writing?

I figured out how to write a passable paper the second time I went to college (I was 40ish), but I really discovered writing around the youthful age of 55. It took another couple of years before anyone else agreed with me.

Does writing come easy for you?

Yes and no. I’ve not experienced writers block, but I have experienced what I would call situational block. When I’m working on a Cody book ideas just seem to flow. I may have to rewrite a few things to get the correct idea across, but it usually comes easy. What has given me difficulty is real life perspective through the eyes of a small child. I may have my immature “guy” moments, but 5 years old can be really tough.

How many stories do you currently have swirling around in your head?

I currently have three stories in my thoughts. Along with working on book four of Cody, I am working on a children’s picture book on adoption. I’m trying to write through the eyes of a five year old. I also want to write a book on fostered/adopted children for teens. Here I want to present actual adoption stories – both good and bad.

What do you like to read? What is your favorite genre?

I really like adolescent science fiction/fantasy. Usually, the authors steer away from profanity, extreme violence, and sexual situations. I like magic, elves and quests, but going from realm to realm is fun too.

What writer influenced you the most?

I really like the style of Piers Anthony and his Xanth series.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

To aspiring young (and old) authors I would say, write about what you know and enjoy. One you write something, put it away for several weeks and read it as if you had never read it before. It may surprise you

What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

Take care of yourself and your family, but don’t forget the orphans and fatherless.

My wife and I have raised 2 daughters and are now raising a third daughter whom we adopted last year. We have also been involved in the lives of 17 other children that were in our home for foster care.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

Names are fun and usually mean something special. I use kids that I have taught, daughters, grandsons, and friends. Family can be cool because you can often capture their personality in the character and no one really gets offended.

Do you have a saying or motto for your life and/or as a writer?

This comes from Colossians 3: 23. What ever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord.

Where can we find out more about your book?

Check out my book @ http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=154&osCsid=12d5999b0c66e57ab41d49027ecb9554

It is available at Second Wind Publishing, Barnhill Books in Winston-Salem, NC and on Amazon

Siobhán Nolan, Author of “Old Man Harry”

What is your book about?

My book, Old Man Harry, is children’s book about a strange little girl who adopts a cat. As they grow up together, they have adventures and Harry proves to be more than your average house pet.

How long did it take you to write your book?

It took me about 2 and a half months start-to-finish to come up with the idea for my book, develop and illustrate the text, then accompany it with words.

What challenges did you face as you wrote this book?

I was working on a bit of a deadline (because it was a class assignment) and it took me a while to visualize and make the characters come to life.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I have always had a love of children’s literature, and growing up with a quirky little cat helped me develop the story that is based on him.

Do you have a favorite snack food or favorite beverage that you enjoy while you write?

I love the white cheddar Cheez-its, or the goldfish snack crackers. This might sound a little crazy, but Harry loves them, too.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on the second Old Man Harry book, where his family adopts another kitten, and Harry has to make some major adjustments and learn how to be a brother.

Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?

Because I’m going to be an elementary school teacher, I write for my future students, and for the children I babysit and work with currently in my school internship. They are the best critics of my work as I engage in the writing process. Also, they can be honest to a fault, but I always welcome their feedback and ideas.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No, I haven’t. I didn’t even consider myself a writer until I saw my book in print. That was only a few weeks ago, but there’s something so powerful about that moment when you hold your published work in your hands for the first time and can truly say to yourself, “Wow, I did it. I’m a writer.”

What writer influenced you the most?

Because I love children’s books, I have grown up loving Tomie DePaola. He is a consummate storyteller and his illustrations are full of warmth and love.

Where do you get the names for your characters?

I pulled the names of my characters from real life. Harry is a real cat, and Little Beth got her name from my middle name, Elizabeth. Spoiler alert: I am Little Beth.

Describe your writing in three words.

Silly, relatable, fanciful.

What is your favorite place, real or fictional? Why?

The Outer Banks. I have been vacationing there with my family for as long as I can remember, and it’s also where I adopted Harry.

What do you wear when you write?

Sweatpants and mismatched socks. I can’t write unless I’m comfortable and cozy.

Who designed your cover?

I did! That was my original copy for the assignment I turned in for my class, but it also worked out perfectly for the published copy

***

Old Man Harry is available from Second Wind Publishing.

Matica, Hero of Talon, Come Fly with Me by Gisela (Gigi) Sedlmayer

What is your story?

The title of my story is: TALON, COME FLY WITH ME.

My name is Matica and my story is for children as well as for people of all ages to teach self-confidence, to learn and to cope and to deal with all sorts of afflictions, conditions and disorders, even being rejected by other people, to learn to face and to deal with being different, as I am different. But in spite of being different, I’m not a person that looks negatively into the world. I am a positive person looking positively into the world. My mother always tells me: ‘There is something special out there, just for you.’ And I must say, yes, there is.

I say: If you don’t know how to go on in life, whatever it might be, even if you have a disability, find a ‘condor’. That is what I did. Read it in my book, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME. Now I can handle every obstacle. And then I was loved by everyone, not rejected anymore.

Who are you?

My name is Matica and I am a special needs child with a growth disability. I am stuck in the body of a two year old, even though I am ten years old when my story begins in the first book of the Talon series, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME. Because of that disability, (I am saying ‘that’ disability, not ‘my’ disability because it’s a thing that happened to me, nothing more and because I am not accepting it as something bad. I can say that now after I learned to cope with it.) I was rejected by the local Indians as they couldn’t understand that that condition is not a sickness and so it can’t be really cured. it’s just a disorder of my body. But I never gave up on life and so I had lots of adventures roaming around the plateau where we live, with my mother’s blessings. But after I made friends with my condors I named Tamo and Tima, everything changed. It changed for the good. I was finally loved.

Where do you live?

I was born in Australia and moved with my missionary and schoolteacher parents to a remote little village, Pucara, in Peru, South America. Here the local Indians didn’t accept me because of my handicap and because of that I wasn’t allowed to play with their children. Since I had no friends, I was lonely and so I roamed around the plateau of our village, Pucara, with the blessings of Mum and Dad. They understood my misery. After two years of loneliness I finally made friends with a pair of condors. From this day on, they were my life.

Are you the hero of your own story?

I think I am the hero, because my mother, Mira, told me again and again:

‘Sometimes the worst and greatest problems in life cannot be solved. They can only be outgrown.’ And I have been outgrown them. Many times, I might say.

Yep, I certainly am the hero of my story. I am even a hero in how I befriended the condors I named Tamo and Tima. I am also a hero raising Talon, the offspring of Tamo and Time, to the majestic condor he needs to be. I am a hero because of defeating the poachers.

Do you embrace conflict?

I had embraced my problem before I made friends with my condors Tamo and Tima. I held onto it and I felt sorry for myself and cried a lot, wanting to run away or somehing worse. But did it help me? Did it become better? Did I grow taller? No, nothing of that helped me. I didn’t have those questions when I was still in my sorrow, but all these questions came to me later, after I was loved and was cherished.

One day I looked up into the sky and saw the majestic condors flying in the air. Here and now, I made up my mind. I wanted to become friends with them. I believed if I could achieve that, all my sorrow and rejection would be over.

And true enough, it was over. I was loved. I even became famous. And so, if you are in a situation, with whatever your problem is, find something you could rely on and stick to it, love that and do with that what you were meant to do.

Do you run from conflict?

Well, right, I did. I wanted to run away, then later, when I made friends with Tamo, I wanted to fly away with him, away from the Indians with their rejection and their bad words and their teasing. I couldn’t hear it anymore. But now I face them because I have learned to face all sorts of conflicts. What would I have given to change myself. But it wouldn’t work. I had to face myself. And so I did, with making friends with the condors. It wasn’t always easy, being a special needs child. And so I was lonely and I cried a lot in the beginning after we arrived in Peru and the locals didn’t let me play with their children. But when I made friends with the condors, I knew my life would change. I didn’t run away, even though I wanted to. Actually I wanted to fly away with Tamo from the day I made friends with him. But not anymore.

How do you see yourself?

Now, after the time I was rejected by the Indians in Pucara, and I learned with the help of my condors how to cope with rejection and other things, I see myself as a girl who doesn’t let anything stand in her way anymore, ever again. I know bad stuff happens, but I don’t let it get to me and let it drag me down, not anymore. Why? Because I found out that I can overcome whatever problem I have, if I set my mind to it. And with that, I win, and so can you. Don’t stick your head in the sand like an ostrich when it’s afraid. It won’t solve your problem. All you gain is getting sand in your eyes. I now meet the problem head on. Look for your condor as I have done. I don’t mean a real condor like I have done, but something that works for you, relates to you. Be like it, relate to it, love who you are, or do what it takes to be who you want to be.

How do your friends see you?

My best friend Amos sees me as a strong person – loyal, trustworthy. My four-year-old brother Aikon sees me as his big sister, even though I am smaller than he is. My parents see me as a success.

Do you have a goal?

Oh yes, my goal is high. I want to be someone in my life. And if it is to live with the condors, then it will be living with the condors, helping them to survive, that they will increase in their numbers again.

What are your achievements?

I have overcome the disability that had taken over my body. I am somebody and the local Indians love me now. But not only my Indians in my village, far beyond our village I am loved and cherished and appreciated. That is my achievement and I am proud of it.

Do you talk about your achievements?

No, I do not talk about them. I show them through my actions, my deeds.

What do you regret?

I regret that I hadn’t started earlier in my life to see what I can achieve, instead of brooding and feeling sorry for myself for having that growth disability. But that is over and forgotten now and I won’t think back. But now and then it takes me over and then I regret it, deeply.

Do you have any handicaps?

Yes, I have. It’s a horrible growth handicap. The local Indians didn’t accept me because of that and so I wasn’t allowed to play with their children. They thought that I was demon possessed or something like that. And being lonely, I made friends with the condors and helped raising their offspring, Talon, after poachers nearly stole their egg. How I did achieve that, you have to read my book, TALON, COME FLY WITH ME. It wasn’t easy, but with determination and never giving up, I succeeded. And so can you, whatever you put your mind to.

But now even the Indians regret that they have rejected me and have apologised to me because they didn’t know better. Now they have learned and understood not to reject unexplained things like being handicapped or disabled but help that person because that person is not sick.

Did you get along with your parents?

Yes, I did get along with my parents because of their positive attitude. But sometimes I thought, before I made friends with my condors, why didn’t my parents do anything to me, to let me grow? But when I became older, I understood that there was nothing they could do for me. So I very slowly accepted it, but with bitterness, sorrow and sadness. But my parents always lifted me up, never spoke negatively to me. And so I finally thought, maybe they are right, maybe there is something out there for me. I only have to find it.

My parents always told me that I am special, that I am made for something special and that I will find it one day. And so it was. I found why I was made as I am, with the growth challenge, being so small. In the beginning the teasing of the Indians in Peru aggravated me a lot. But Mum told me: Don’t let yourself become aggravated from the teasing of others. It’s not worth it. And now I am loved, never having to face that ever again.

Have you ever had an adventure?

My whole life became an adventure with befriending the condors Tamo and Tima and then raising Talon to become the majestic condor he has to be. I live for the adventure.

Where can we find out more about you?

You can find my book by amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Talon-come-fly-Gigi-Sedlmayer/dp/1921578726/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317276412&sr=1-1

as kindle http://www.amazon.com/Talon-come-fly-me-ebook/dp/B004Y6DQH0/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=A24IB90LPZJ0BS&qid=1317276412&sr=1-1

as a short animation clip on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0ontac7S20

barnesandnoble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/talon-come-fly-with-me-gigi-sedlmayer/1020753509?ean=9781921578724&itm=1&usri=talon2c%2bcome%2bfly%2bwith%2bme

also amazon.com.uk and amazon.com.ca