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!