Saturday, January 1, 2011

Writing and Creativity

Hey everyone! It's been a while, but I am back with a new and exciting post!

Yes, you read that right. It is, indeed, an exciting post.

Because writing is today's topic. And yet writing is such a vague and broad topic. Writing could involve a school essay, a set of directions, or an entire novel. Yet, no matter what you are writing, it is plainly evident that writing is one of the great outlets of creativity. Because regardless of what you are writing, whether it is that school essay, the directions for your visiting relatives, or your newest paranormal novel, your creativity is shining.

And I can bet that some people are probably asking how writing a school essay can be creative.

Everyone has a different spin on the objective of the essay. A teacher would easily say, "Write me a seven page essay on how the theme of the novel is the strength of friendship." The foundation of all the essays would be the same, yes, but each person would take their own individual form of creativity to draw in different characters and find different connections and evidence of how they display that theme of the strength of friendship. Couple that with your individual writing style, and your essay is suddenly a creative masterpiece, unique from all of the other essays turned in on the topic.

Directions. How can writing a simple set of directions be creative?

Well, imagine your relatives have arrived from out of town, just in time to visit you for the holidays. And they need to get to the mall across town and, even though you've lived in the city for years, you still can't remember the street names. That's when your creativity begins to shine because you have to get creative on how to get those relatives to the mall in one piece. And, preferably, in around thirty minutes and not in thirty days. So instead of saying go two blocks, then make a left, go another six blocks, make a right and then a left... Anyway. Instead of saying all that, you tell them to drive until they reach the giant tree that always has red flowers hanging on it and then they turn left. Keep driving until you find a corner with two bus stops and make a right. Well, you get the picture.

I suppose that can also be credited to being detailed, but you have to be creative to find a way for them to get there that's outside of the routine street names. And thinking of landmarks can end up being very creative.

And finally, writing a novel. Writing a novel is such a great release for creativity, and when you tell a person you wrote a story, people will say that you are creative. Because you are using your creativity to make a whole new world for a countless number of people to read. And you don't have to write a novel to do that. Any length of story can draw a person into that world, if even for a few minutes, and all because of your own creativity.

So the moral of this story is that everyone is creative. Everyone can write because writing can create itself in many different forms as odd as that may sound.

Pick up a pen and write! It frees your creativity to grow wings and fly.

~~Alyssa Montgomery

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Barnes and Noble's New E-Book Reader, nook!

How fitting for E-Book week that I went out to Barnes and Noble and bought their nook.

Yes, I finally bought the nook. I knew I wanted to buy one, but I had just been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Before I finally just decided to buy it, and I must say that this thing (yes, I used the word thing) is absolutely amazing!

To start out, it's extremely light, so it's not like you're carrying around this giant bulky thing that's more trouble than it's worth to carry around with you. No, it's light, and all the surfaces are nice and flat so you don't have to worry about hitting buttons or knobs breaking off or anything like that (which is really nice since I'd be terrified that something would break off of it if it could).

So on to the mort interesting aspects of it that I'm sure you're all dying to know about!

I will admit that I haven't tried to upload any documents to it yet (I'm taking it one step at a time), but I was told when I bought it that it can upload PDF files, which is a giant plus to me. But as for the EBooks, it's a really simple process. When you first turn on the nook, they ask you to register it to your Barnes and Noble account. Then...

Here's the awesome part!

You can either buy the EBooks you want to read straight from the nook itself, or you can buy them from the Barnes and Noble website and, since your nook is registered to your account, they end up on your nook. I'd say that's pretty convenient if you ask me. And I was also surprised at how easy it was. Like I said, haven't tried uploading anything onto it yet from my computer, but as of right now, it seems very easy to work.

Plus, probably the most important part of the entire thing, is that it's really easy to read from. It takes a while to get the hang of the page turning method, but it really is really easy and really nice to read from. You can also adjust the size of the font to fit your liking - from small to extra large. And let me just say that the extra large really is extra large. So if you have trouble reading the small print, there shouldn't be too much to worry about.

Lastly, the screen is just fantabulous! I have yet to have the light glare on it excpet when I am purposefully trying to make the light glare on it just to see what happens. And even then it's not a bad glare! I'd say that's a pretty nice plus considering all the things that can cause glare now. It can be rather frustrating, I must admit. But that has not been an issue, so yay!

As of right now, I just have good things to say about it. It did take me a couple hours off and on to figure out what I was doing (as with every new electronic a person buys), but I was able to solve them all pretty quickly.

So that's my exciting blog on my new nook. Now I just need to buy a bunch of EBooks to fill it up...

(And pictures may be coming... I suppose that depends on whether or not I can get them to upload...)

~~ Alyssa Montgomery
Author of Michael Springer

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I'm going to go ahead and take this Writer's Wednesday to wish everyone a very happy rest of their holiday season.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Mary Cunningham!


Today is a special edition of Writer's Wednesday as I welcome Mary Cunningham to Alyssa's Area as a part of her blog tour for her new Cynthia's Attic release - The Magician's Castle!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m the author of the award-winning ‘tween fantasy/mystery series, Cynthia’s Attic, and proud to announce book four, “The Magician’s Castle,” has been released. My children’s mystery series was inspired by a recurring dream about a mysterious attic. After realizing that it took place in the home of my childhood friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began.

I’m also co-writer of the fabulously funny (No! Seriously, it really is) women’s lifestyle book, “Women Only Over Fifty (WOOF),” and the author of published short stories, "Ghost Light,” and "Christmas Daisy," (DEC 2009).

I’m a member of SCBWI (Southern Breeze Chapter), The Georgia Reading Association, and the Carrollton Creative Writers Club (A crazy-good bunch of writers!). When I give my fingers a day away from the keyboard, I enjoy golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia.

I understand that you have a hit children's series called Cynthia's Attic. What are they about?

The Missing Locket, The Magic Medallion, Curse of the Bayou and The Magician's Castle are about twelve-year-old best friends, Cynthia and Gus, who find a magic trunk in Cynthia's Attic that sends them through time on adventures with their ancestors, although "The Magician's Castle" has some surprises in store for our time-traveling duo!

Is there a moral to learn from these books?

I'm proud of the friendship between Cynthia and Gus. No matter how mad they get at each other (and they do!), they always have the other's back and their loyalty is unquestioned.

Were Cynthia and Gus charactered after anyone?

Cynthia is my real childhood best friend and Gus is me! I'm much more like the Gus in the book than Cynthia resembles the "fictional" Cynthia. Although Cynthia and Gus have some very heated battles in the books and don't agree most of the time, my friend, Cynthia and I never got mad at each other. Hard to believe when you consider we've known each other since birth!

I heard that your 4th Cynthia's Attic book - The Magician's Castle - is coming out on December 1st. What new adventures have Cynthia and Gus found themselves in this time?

Here's a short blurb from the book:

Sebastien the Great, a magician whose fiancĂ©e, Kathryn, disappears through the magic trunk, vows revenge. If Cynthia and Gus don't find a missing page from the “Book of Spells,” Cynthia’s family could face financial and personal ruin.

Follow this time-traveling duo as they journey back to a 1914 Swiss castle where Eva, Sebastien’s grandmother, gives them clues on where to begin their search. Their journey takes them through miles of tree tunnels, an enchanted garden ruled by a cranky rock monster, and even high in the Alps. They get the surprise of their lives when they're sent 50 years into the future, have a shocking encounter with another set of best friends, and receive a fresh set of clues that could lead to Kathryn's return. But, at what price?

Sounds like you have some great books in Cynthia's Attic! Now on to a little bit about you, the author. Who has inspired you the most?

My earliest influence would have to be my dad who used to make up the most wonderful bedtime stories. I'm sure this is where I developed my love of fantasy/fiction. He was a journalist for over 40 years on a city newspaper (The Louisville Courier-Journal), and I would sometimes go with him when he interviewed an interesting person. His ability to write characters that would "jump off the page," made me want to write.

I was also greatly influenced by H. G. Wells and "The Time Machine," and have always been fascinated by the idea of time-travel. I'm a huge "Lord of the Rings" trilogy fan, so putting time-travel and fantasy together to create "Cynthia's Attic" was a natural progression.

In my early reading years, I enjoyed sports biographies and read them from A (Hank Aaron) to Z (Babe Didrikson Zaharias), and am still a huge sports fan. This is probably why POV character, Gus (Augusta Lee) is a tomboy and loves playing sports.

What made you decide to enter the field of writing?

I was told from 3rd grade on to "Never stop writing. You have a gift." And, sure enough...40 years later, my first book was published! I have written all my life, but never considered writing fiction until I got the idea for "Cynthia's Attic." The first story was prompted by a recurring dream I'd had for over 20 years about playing in a mysterious attic. Once I realized that the attic was in the home of my childhood best friend, Cynthia, the dreams stopped and the writing began.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

The best advice I ever got was, "Write what you know." My series is set in my hometown, and many of the characters are loosely based on my ancestors. Since my main characters, Cynthia and Gus travel through time from 1964-1914, I'm able to draw on family stories and especially pictures from the early 1900s. Since I'm a very visual person, this made it much easier to write about the past.

Lastly, where can readers find the Magician's Castle (or any of the other Cynthia's Attic books)?

Mary Cunningham Books
Cynthia's Attic Blog

Thanks, so much, Alyssa, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Pam Ripling!


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a hopeless romance. I carry the scars of unrequited love for Johnny Depp, but other than that I’m pretty okay. I’ve been writing stories since 8th grade. I’m now a sophomore in college. :) My favorite things are classic rock, writing, dolls, pasta, chocolate chip cookies (or ice cream) traveling, summertime, convertible cars, LOST and, of course, my family.

2. You're first young adult book was Locker Shock. Was there a motivation behind writing this book?


Okay, well, my son was in middle school, and I used to volunteer in the school library. I listened to the kids chatter, and I knew what the campus issues were, and I one day I just had one of those “what if?” moments that authors love to have. Although it never happened in our school, other schools were dealing with weapons and other contraband on campus. Looking around at these smart, funny, *normal* kids, I wondered how they would react if they found something at school that shouldn’t be there.

3. What age range do you think this book would most appeal to?

I think kids like to read about the age they are heading for. I peg 5th-7th graders as prime for LOCKER SHOCK!

4. I have also heard that you have a sequel to this book in the works. What's the scoop on that?

OLD ENOUGH is finished and waiting to be edited. It revolves around the same group of middle and high schoolers with a few new characters and a lot more issues. Crushes, prejudice, natural disasters—this book has something for everyone! No publication date yet, but I will keep you posted.

5. Any plans for any other young adult books?

I’d like to, but no immediate plans. I have a couple of other genre books to finish first, and I also need to move OLD ENOUGH up the ladder, too. A third Y/A book in the same series is starting to form in my head, so don’t rule it out!

6. Who is your favorite author?

I have many favorite authors. Some of them are fellow Quakers – Sam Morton, Mary Cunningham, Alyssa Montgomery :). In adult type stories, I like Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Dan Brown... I haven’t read Twilight yet, but might attempt that over winter break!

7. Was that the author that influenced you the most?

I’d have to say yes, Nora Roberts has had a great deal of influence on me. I know there are others, but I’m really bad with remembering names. I think we are somewhat influenced by everything we read. Going all the way back to Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte... and forward to everything I read today. I just finished the autobiography of an 80’s pop star and was even influence by his style. As writers, we pick up stuff without even realizing it.

8. You probably have more than one, but what about a favorite book?

As a child, my very favorite book was MRS. MIKE, about a Canadian Mountie and his wife.

Another was EIGHT COUSINS, by Louisa May Alcott

As an adult, I couldn’t possibly pick just one. No way. I like a good mystery; I’m not big on gratuitous violence, but don’t mind a little. I like romance, but I’m a skimmer over the too-graphic parts. I read a few biographies and autobiographies – enjoyed Michael J. Fox’s LUCKY MAN. Series are good, like Nora Roberts often writes trilogies about families. If you like the first book, you look forward to the second and third installments.

9. What is your proudest achievement in writing?

You mean, besides just getting published?? For “achievement” I’d say finishing my first full-length novel was the proudest. Saying it was “FINISHED.” I’d done it—a whole book. Another really exciting moment was selling my first short story. I opened the envelope at the mailbox with the acceptance letter and check inside. I was screaming and running back into the house waving the check!

10. Any advice for aspiring authors?

Just the usual stuff- don’t give up, keep reading a lot, keep writing a lot. Keep informed of what’s going on in the writing world. Read books in other genres, other subjects. Watch movies. Try new types of writing, like poetry, short stories, flash fiction, screenplays. Try it all. Talk about writing with anyone who will listen, and you listen to others who need to talk, too. Writing can be a lonely business.

Thanks for such inspiring questions, Alyssa!

Don’t forget to visit me at !

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Coming Soon!

I'd like to take this week's Writer's Wednesday to talk about Echelon Press' new holiday 12 days of great reads!

What Echelon Press' new line - Echelon Press Shorts - have done is they have taken holiday-themed stories from twelve authors and have compiled them into their 12 days of Christmas promotion. Each day, from December 1-12, Echelon Press Shorts will be releasing a new story written specifically for the holidays. And what greater way to give someone a small gift then by giving them an EBook from Shorts!

If you check out their blog each of these twelve days, you can read a post by each author, all about his or her short story, on the day of the story's release. How cool is that??

On another note, Writer's Wednesday will be back next week! I have two great authors scheduled for the next two Wednesdays - Pam Ripling will be making an appearance on December 9th, and Mary Cunningham will be stopping by on the 16th while on her book tour for the release of her newest Cynthia's Attic book - The Magician's Castle.

So make sure you keep tuned in!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Sam Morton!


1.. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm a South Carolina native, born and bred, and a graduate of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. I have both bachelor's and master's degrees in English. I used to be a homicide detective and also a professional wrestler (yep, the fake TV kind!). Now I write full time and live in Columbia, Sc with my wife and two children, who are both from Siberia.

2. Your new YA book is part of a series called The Austin Files. How did you choose that name?

The book and the series are named in memory of Austin Whetsell, the son of a friend. Two years ago, when Austin was 15, he went to Mexico on a mission trip with his church. One afternoon, he and his friends went swimming in the ocean. Tragically, Austin got caught in a rip current. He was pulled out to sea and drowned. Just before he went swimming, he called his grandfather, who asked him how he was enjoying his trip. His last words to his grandfather were, "What if God intends me to do this the rest of my life?" That still sends chills up my spine.

3. Could you now tell us a little bit about the premise of Betrayed?

Austin's finds out his best friend, Rico, is in the U.S. illegally. Rico and his family go back to Mexico to apply for citizenship just as the school year ends. Austin visits and finds out two things: one, Rico's cousin Veronica, who he immediately develops a crush on, helps people cross the border illegally; and, two, that a rogue Mexican general and a U.S. senator up for re-election appear linked in a deadly scheme to kidnap people trying to cross. Austin faces a decision: does he help his friends or fight the general? Either path could lead to danger or even death for him and his friends.

4. Since we just learned how Austin was based of a person, were any of the other characters based off anyone?

Absolutely. One of my minor, but pivotal characters--a man named Konstantine--is based on a friend from the Ukraine--whose name is Konstantin (without the "E" but pronounced the same. Everyone who has read Betrayed loves Konstantine, so I've drafted the real person to sign books with me at events. He tells everyone the book is about him! It's great and he's a good sport.

5. Do you have any plans for future Austin Files books?

Yes. I'm planning two more titles in the Austin Files series. I'm in the outlining phase for book two right now.

6. How about your adult books? You already have one book, Disavowed, out now. Do you have any plans for new books there?

I do, and I didn't originally intend for the next adult book to be a follow up to Disavowed, but everyone seems to like the characters and want to know what the next chapter in their lives will be. While I haven't nailed down the exact details, the next book will be about a couple who adopt two children from Russia (sound familiar?), but these two happen to be the illegitimate children of a Russian mob boss, and he wants them back. The book begins with their kidnapping. It will involved plenty of action and the characters Mike Max Chandler, (the main characters from Disavowed) but I've yet to determine what their exact roles will be.

7. How did you become involved in writing?

My mother was quite creative, so I came by the imaginative part pretty early on--elementary school. I decided I really wanted to be a writer when I was about 10 and worked toward it, studying it, and just writing for my own enjoyment. My teachers encouraged me and when I was in middle and high school, I worked on the school newspaper. Even though I majored in English, my writing needed some polish before I began making any money at it. I sold my first article in 1994 and have been writing professionally ever since. I've had some great mentors, Tom Poland (also an author), James Rembert (my college advisor and English professor), and the greatest writer of all (with the possible exception of Shakespeare), Pat Conroy.

8. Do you find that your everyday life greatly influences your writing?

Most definitely. I was vacationing in the North Carolina mountains this past weekend and the whole time kept wondering how I might work the scenery, location, plants, the Cherokee Indian Nation, even the train I was on, into the next Austin Files book. Everyone is a potential character and the stories, jokes, and anecdotes they tell me may end up as a plot device.

9. What is your proudest moment and your proudest achievement in writing?

The proudest moment was receiving my author's copy of Disavowed, seeing my name on it, holding it in my hand, and realizing that it, like John Grisham's books, Nora Roberts', Pat Conroy's, etc., was on a bookshelf for sale.

I would have to say my proudest achievement is publishing Betrayed and donating 100 percent of the proceeds to Austin Whetsell's memorial fund that continues to provide money for mission trips not only to Mexico, but to other parts of the world as well.

10. Any advice for aspiring authors?

First and foremost read, read, read. You have to be a devoted reader in order to master the craft. Second, if you wake up in the morning and all you can think about is writing--whether it's articles, books, or blogs--then you're already a writer; your heart is in it. From that moment on, just concentrate on getting better. Develop your characters. Make you dialogue as realistic as possible. Study plot development. Just like an athlete perfects the basics before moving onto more complex skills, so should you.

11. Lastly, where can readers find your books?

Both books are available at or directly from the publisher at Any bookstore can order them for you as well.