Tuesday, September 25, 2012

GMTA Blog Tour: Lyra McKen

How Zombified Was Born
Lyra McKen

When asked to discuss how I came up with the concept and story line for my novel Zombified, I had to think back. I had to think of where I was mentally when the idea formed. I had been annoying my family and boyfriend for weeks talking about the Zombie Apocalypse. My Dad would say something about, "If the economy doesn't do something then we are in for it." That isn't exactly what he said, my father doesn't speak like that, but for the sake of this article that is what he said. I would respond with, "The Zombies will take over!"

As annoyed as my family was, I was fascinated with Zombies and why they enthralled our culture so. I begin to think how would you feel if you knew you were going to start eating people and rotting away? Cassie started to form in my mind. She was a young girl with a bright future, derailed by a disease and the end of life as she knew it. I then started thinking, what if Zombies actually could communicate and had a purpose with their constant wondering around. Slopar was born, my idea of the Zombie language. I pictured Cassie talking to someone about her life as she snacked on him and wrote the beginning.

After this I started thinking, what if you bit your crush? I had to give Cassie a gorgeous guy, figure out how to get them alone, and let her ruin it with her soon-to-be-dead tendencies. I really enjoyed writing the novel. I wanted to explore the thoughts of the partially infected, and what would happen when they met up and tried to fight the desire to feed as the infection spread. I hope people enjoy reading Zombified as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for taking a trip into my mind. 


Cassie is a typical teenager.  She’s crushing on a boy and trying to make it through high school. It’s a typical day of classes when all hell breaks loose. Forced to run and hide the situation just keeps getting worse. She makes a mistake and soon becomes infected. She meets others like her and together they sent out to find a cure. Is their fate already sealed? Can they find a cure before it’s too late? See what happens through the eyes of the infected when Cassie tells you how Zombies are people too.

Buy Zombified at Amazon / Creatspace

About Lyra  

Lyra McKen (aka, Emily Walker) resides in the mountains of North Carolina. She lives on top of a mountain quite literally with her other half of nine years and her fur baby, Rebel. After a couple of jobs ghost writing for other successful authors she embarked on her own journey to write a novel.

Visit Lyra at Author Page / Website / Twitter / Facebook Fan Page 

Visit Emily at Twitter / Facebook / FB Fan Page / Blog

Visit Zombified at its fan page on Facebook


Thursday, September 20, 2012

GMTA Blog Tour: Deby Adair

Imagination Is Our Greatest Tool
Deby Adair © 27.08.2012

Imagination is our greatest tool. When you create something meaningful, you share it with the world, even if no one ever sees your final effort. When we imagine, and then create, we are stating by our thoughts and actions who we are, and that person follows us around day and night for everyone else to see, interact and share with.

If we have music in us, then we strum, sing or write our lyrics. If we have art in us then we sketch, draw or paint. And if we write, we are usually sharing our deepest thoughts and projections.

Writing is a tool that can captivate an audience in a way that no other art does. A book presents an opportunity to immerse ourselves, sometimes completely, into the lives of others, and in the process, it changes us forever…we have now walked in another’s shoes and we will never be the same again. Although it may be argued that a movie will do a similar thing, the difference between reading a story and watching a story, is that a reader must go that extra mile and play the movie in their head, their way, with only the writer’s word to prompt the screen inside the mind.

As writers, we hold the world in the palms of our hands and, like all projections, how we do it is what counts.

Remember that what you write will reach inside the minds and hearts of others and, by the power of your words, resonate. How do you choose to create what resonates in others? 
Writing is something that comes from within a writer; a deep need to share a story, a theme, experience or something which the writer themselves chooses to explore. 
When writers ask me how to deal with writer’s block, I have one response: Writer’s block comes to you because you are trying to write what isn’t you. When a writer ‘blocks’ they are experiencing these key things: fear, self doubt and a desire to please others.

When writers ask me how they should fix their writers block, or indeed, why is it such extremely hard work to write, then my responses are simplistic, based on the need to change something that they’re doing. 
At first, my answers can be met with some resistance. ie: Often, a writer has a preconceived idea of what kind of writer they are, or want to be, and that may be the problem… in not knowing what you truly should be writing as opposed to what you think you should be writing. ‘Writers block’ will always begin there.

Do you love writing? Does the written word in and of itself give you incredible joy? Does the thought of composing a sentence and describing a moment, a scene, a sensation, a palette of colour, transport you with inspiration and excitement? What entices you, the writer, to capture an audience and transport them? 
I’ll ask a question: Can you effectively captivate with something you don’t know, or don’t understand or have never come close to experiencing? Perhaps, or perhaps not. 
During the process of writing, part of the joy is for us as writers to explore how a scene, projection, moment or situation may occur, creating that rush of creativity, the adrenalin and thrill that actually makes us want to write!

If you have decided that writing is in fact for you, that you have the guts, determination and the hard-driven discipline required to master your much loved skill, but you sit down to write and falter, then you must ask yourself why. 
A highly skilled young University student asked me to read a piece of their work and to offer a critique. It was an evocative piece. Very dramatic, very intense, extremely wordy, descriptive, exciting… but it lacked something. It didn’t ring true. It was a good piece of writing but I was left unmoved. I thought carefully about the piece before I gave her my critique. 
Finally, this was my response: When you write, the most important thing to remember is not to try to impress the reader but to find your own individual style. Don’t try to write with someone else’s style. Don’t copy the sort of writing that will outwardly impress you but feel to the reader as if they’ve read your book at least a hundred times everywhere else!

Write what you know. Write what you feel. By all means, use the power of your imagination, but don’t try to construct what isn’t innately a part of you because it will read cleverly, but not reach hearts and, as writers, our job is to reach hearts, otherwise we have just added to a high pile of pulp.

When a writer writes from deep inside themselves, reaching into what they know, how they’ve grown, the insights, the hurts, the joys, the depths of their being, then they lose writer’s block. They may have decided to sit down and write that great money-spinner and instead, written a poignant or meaningful story of something that jogs a memory of a day in their schoolyard. The piece they actually may end up writing may seem totally un-commercial, however, it may leave the writer, and ultimately the reader, deeply satisfied. I assure you that when you write from your inner truth you will always become a better writer and that is what really matters in the long run. You want to reach the hearts and minds of your readers. 
When people read, no matter what the genre, they unconsciously go there to learn something, even if they feel they only want to be entertained. When they read, they want to leave your book/short story/poem, prose or paragraph, and feel that it was a moment in time that you loaned them and which they have captured; that borrowing from your ‘knowing’ it will leave them stronger, better able to face the world. Write what you own… share with us, the reader, what you know and feel.

Writers often ask me why they can’t seem to get the discipline of the thing. My response, based on experiencing the roller coaster of life, is this: No matter what is happening in your life, and I mean no matter what, write something every single day; every single day go to your work and at least sit with pen in hand, with computer open and ready; if you find nothing there, then edit something you have previously written; look at your writing and be ruthless with it; teach yourself to know if that flowery sentence is valid or just satisfying an itch to be vocal; train yourself in excellent sentence structure and that often, less is more. 
Readers these days want to get to the point… so learn the skill of writing brilliantly with a sentence well built, rather than a paragraph that repeats itself. 
Take the pain from losing loved ones, your illness, a job you hate, the spiteful neighbour and use it to write! Don’t wait for when life will get good, for when you live in the right house, have the right amount of money, have the perfect relationship, have wonderful heath… all or some of those things may never happen, so write! Be your own best creator!

Write something, even if it’s for two minutes a day, every single day until the hardship of the discipline becomes your addiction and your high… then you have learned the true love affair of writing and have built a solid relationship that will let you call yourself a writer, a marriage where you have learned to merge words with the love of making it happen. 
Remember, the entire fantastic residue of living, is stored within all of us. Don’t write about things you don’t know just because you think that’s what readers want, and worse, because someone else got rich from it… write what YOU know and, if you do it thoroughly, seriously and with real craft and commitment, readers will love your tale about the day you dropped your lunch at school and ten kids laughed at you but one stepped forward to help… because when it’s genuine, we, the reader will know it and cheer you on!

Meet Deby Adair:

Deby Adair is an author, artist, graphic artist and equestrian. An avid follower of the mystical and mysterious, Deby Adair has always loved the purity and truth of unicorns and their archetypal majesty. A past professional equestrian, Deby loves all animals and champions animal rights, the environment and human rights. She believes we must take care of our natural world.

An avid reader all her life, Deby began writing stories, poetry and prose from a very young age, the WISH trilogy is based on many works of writing and art which she produced as a girl but later embellished and created into her three novels.

Writing this trilogy and creating a vast collection of wonderful, exciting art works has occupied her for many years now. We hope you enjoy her much loved books and wonderful artwork as much as Deby enjoyed creating them!

Where to find Deby: 

Deby's books: The Wish Trilogy
Book 1: WISH
From the mists of time there comes a long-lost tale of unicorns.
'Wish - Dreams Beginning', Book One of the Wish trilogy.

When a homeless girl called Rielle and her unusual dog Pud become hopelessly lost in a wild landscape, they find themselves in an untamed forest. Here they meet an enigmatic unicorn who charms Rielle with his cryptic ways. Soon Rielle and Pud find themselves locked into an adventure of soul-seeking, friendship, mystery and truth that is both disarming and sometimes sinister.

Meet unicorns as you've never thought of them before; ancient forests and unusual creatures. - Although classified for Children and Teens, this book is also receiving heartfelt reviews from adults.

Buy Wish at Amazon / Createspace

As a timeworn legend comes to life, can the past be mended and the present put right?
'Wish Again - Dreams Truth', Book Two of the Wish trilogy.

Disarming, charismatic and thrilling, this book explores friendship, complex characters, trust and the ethereal beauty and archetypal power of unicorns such as you have never seen unicorns before.

Fast-paced, this book draws you from one chapter to the next in a series of unfolding scenes that send you hurling to its conclusion with bated breath.

Wish Again- Dreams Truth by Deby Adair has been nominated for the 2011 Aurealis Awards - Australia's Premier Award for Speculative Fiction written by an Australian Citizen.

Although classified for Children and Teens, it is also receiving rave reviews from adults. Wish Again-Dreams Truth-Book Two of the WISH trilogy.

Buy Wish Again at Amazon / Createspace

An ancient feud and a race for power, who will have the final victory? And what of the unicorns... which destiny will they be keeping?

In this final book of the Wish trilogy - 'The Third Wish-Dreams Honour'- the gripping destiny of Rielle and the company of complex characters that become inextricably bound in her adventure, is revealed.

In this powerful, touching and thought-provoking book, the destiny of each character unwinds to reveal how unicorns, humans and First Ones are bound in a quest of honour to an ancient truth.

To do The Third Wish-Dreams Honour full justice, it is best read after reading Book 1, Wish- Dreams Beginning and Book 2, Wish Again-Dreams Truth.

The Third Wish- Dreams Honour by Deby Adair has been nominated for the 2011 Aurealis Awards - Australia's Premier Award for Speculative Fiction written by an Australian Citizen.

Although classified for Children and Teens, this is not just a children's book and is also receiving rave reviews from adults. The Third Wish-Dreams Honour-Book Three of the WISH trilogy.
Buy The Third Wish at Amazon / Createspace

Saturday, September 15, 2012

GMTA Blog Tour: Doug Lucas

Great Minds Think Aloud Interview with Doug Lucas

1. What inspired you to write your first book?

Retirement… retirement and boredom if the truth be known. There were other factors, but those two are the prime suspects motivating me to write. After all…how hard can it be to sit down and just write a story with enough skill to make folks think you've become a literary giant? Years ago I watched my wife start a book, join a writer's group, and read everything she could get her hands on about the correct way to write a novel. She had a super story to tell, worked her heart out learning the craft, and managed to finish half the book before putting it aside, disgusted with life in general and writing in particular. This was to become another factor in my decision to write and have a book published. When I say it's a factor, I mean the turmoil she went through before she became apathetic towards the notion of finishing her book.

I would watch her write something she dearly loved and share it with her writer's group or friends. They in turn would say this is great…but if you just wrote it this way the story would be so much stronger. She in turn would take their suggestions to heart and make the suggested changes. Once again they would read what she had liked and changed because of their suggestions to improve or strengthen it and make even more "if you just tweak it this way" helpful hints. I watched one evening as she shut her "faithful Tandy" down, boxed her paper copies of the story and floppy disks up and walk away from the whole idea.

Anyone who has ever started a book can understand those actions and they don't require explanation. What does require explanation is it was the very first time I'd ever seen her fail to finish anything she’d started. When I retired I wondered if I could finish a book, without being forced to kill my computer…because other than my wife, no one would see it until I was done. So you might say it was more a stubborn determination to see if I could finish a book, than a desire to write or publish a novel. That would change after I received three rejection letters from literary agents.

2. What specific writing style or genre do you enjoy writing in?

I'm not sure what a specific style really means. If you're referring to consciously emulating a particular author…there is only one I try to stay true to…me. Each book I wrote is my story, therefore it should be told my way. I don't think like Stephen King or Tom Clancy, why should I attempt to write the way they do? I also don't have the education of most of the famous authors whose books I've read; therefore what I know about grammar is what you'll read. I do try to avoid grammar mistakes, but I pretty much write the way I talk. If you find a book I wrote boring, then most likely we won't be spending an afternoon in the local bar chatting…unless of course you're buying.

As for genre, well that's a grave of a different depth.

Once I managed to get the first book published, I decided to see if I couldn't write several more in slightly different genres. I know that an author who wants to be famous is supposed to only write in one genre to develop a following. I don't expect to be famous, find telling the same story monotonous and I've got to admit I like the challenge of seeing if I can get a few readers to try each different book.

At this point in our little blog together I'll admit I didn't know there was a genre labeled pedagogy, never had any intentions of trying my hand at non-fiction and of course didn't even want to compete with a book titled All About Dinosaurs.

Having admitted to those facts, then the confusion surrounding the release of my last book, “Flats Teachers' Test," becomes a funny story pointing out that when things go wrong…they really go wrong.

My publisher released the book with a three day give away on Amazon, which is free advertising as far as I'm concerned. I checked it the morning it was released and was pleased to find it was listed as number one in its genre. Later that afternoon I again checked on the book's progress, this time paying closer attention to little things…like genre and category. Yes…I had to look up the meaning of pedagogy…I'll also bet a few of you will be doing the same thing right about now.

I'd been a little shocked to discover I'd been beaten out of the number one slot by a dinosaur. But must admit I was pleased I'd managed to stay ahead of "Enticing and Exciting the Non-Reader." (Just barely…but I did stay in the number two slot!). What scares me is if my fictional characters are listed as non-fiction…does that mean they'll be using an absentee ballot in the next election? Now that would be an honor for not only for my fictional characters, but me as well. 
3. How do you come up with the titles for your books?

I don't and at this point I'd love to say something sounding like a sagely witticism from Mark Twain. But the truth is I start a book and the title just seems to happen. I've been told I should invest far more time seeking the Holy Grail of book titles than I do. I also know a snappy title aimed right at the selected reading audience…Something like All about Dinosaurs; is an important part of catching the reader's attention. Unfortunately…I just go with what seems to fit. Forgotten received its title because the folks who died and suffered in Beirut are forgotten by all but those who loved them.

Man in the Mountain was chosen as a title because one of the characters lived in a mountain. From the start of the first paragraph, it had its title.

My book Conversations with a Dead Man because the main character was dead…and still talking.

Buzz Words just seemed to fit a homicide investigation, although one reader pointed out the buzz word perps was spelled preps. So maybe I should have given that one just a little more thought. The Flats Teachers' Test came from a quip a gym teacher made to me and when I sat down to write the book I had a title before I ever started…that time. He said the real test of a true teacher is can they make an entire school year without killing an administrator or hurting a student. I'm working on a SciFi right now have completed ten chapters. Before I've completed the last chapter I hope to have a title….other than "what I'm writing now." The two books I have awaiting the editors chain saw have titles…for now.

4. How many of your novels have certain messages that you'd like readers to grasp?

Probably only the Flats Teachers' Test has a message I'd like to have a reader understand. I tried to use fiction to show just how much trouble this nation's school systems are really in. We've got some good schools and a few truly great teachers, both of which are in danger of becoming extinct.

5. How much of your books are based on reality or things you've been through I your own life?

If I were to write an autobiography on all of the extraordinarily exciting events of my life worth telling…….it would be shorter than a church bulletin and just about as well read.

Besides…now that I'm old, it's clear to me that no other young man could ever be as fantastic as I remember myself being. Therefore I shouldn't depress the younger generation by telling them just how much better I was than they are or ever could be.

As you can see from that statement, I write fiction. I firmly believe people read fiction to escape the pressures of everyday life. Maybe they want to experience something uncommon or for a few hours just live in a bizarre world of fiction. It isn't unusual or unexpected for a writer's life to sneak into the tales they tell. But I'd point out that I wrote Conversations with a Dead Man and to the best of my knowledge I'm not dead yet.

6. What books have you read that have influenced you in some way?

Other than the Bible, the two most critical literary works would be "The care and feeding of the M-60 machine gun" and of course "the many orders and regulations published by the Pennsylvania State Police on evidence handling and processing.

The Bible will send you to God, a malfunctioning M-60 will send you to hell and break the chain of custody on a piece of evidence and you'll wish you were in hell.

7. What writer would you consider to be your mentor?

Me…I've said it before and like all old men will repeat myself. I want to tell the stories in my books my own way.

The very first Author, whose books caught my attention, was Thomas B. Costain. The man has no idea how many tours he did in Vietnam or the loss I felt when his books The Silver Chalice and The Black Rose met with an untimely demise in 1983. But there is no way I'd ever attempt to copy his style of writing. He was my safety valve and secret pathway to a safer and much more exciting world.

8. Are there any new authors you have read that you like?

In no particular order: Julie Powell (author of Gone and not the author of Julie and Julia), Marissa Carmel, Lee Ann Graff-Vinson (Love and Liberty--I read it by mistake) Dawn Colcasure. Brian Anderson, Mike Evers, and Chris McKenna. Of course I never read children's books or chick books. A manly man such as myself has only heard that some of these authors can write. I'll add that I've never read anything written by Sheila Deeth and you can't prove I have.

All of these folks can spin a yarn in their own way and are well worth finding. Some have books with Gypsy Shadow publishing and the rest can be found on the Great Minds Publishing web page.

9. What's your current project and when might it be available?

I'm trying my hand at a Sci-Fi that at present I'm just calling Evolved Man. I thought it might be fun to show a society in the distant future which punishes a non-conformist by sending them into the past (via time travel of course). I have no idea when it will be done because I'm only on chapter ten, I have several poker games (BYOB of course) that need my attention and it's coming up on my favorite time of year to ride motorcycles (fall foliage). As you can see I have a few different priorities than other authors. Writing for me is a hobby…I refuse to work myself to death over a hobby.

10. Can you give us an excerpt or tell us a little about your current work?

Sure, Here is the first few paragraphs from chapter one:

My name is Daniuca West 320…the date chosen for my birth was day two twenty-one in the agreed cycle of thirty fifteen. I was part of the last generation conceived and born in the west wing of the old creation hall. My tissue mass was designated as female, and I was the very last of the six hundred tissue masses for that cycle allowed to evolve into a human.

My early years of education and conditioning were normal. I met the female donor of my DNA at age cycle twelve and the male donor at age cycle fifteen…I found them both to be uninteresting. I spent the required twenty life cycles in basic courses for enrichment required by the Committee for Human Growth and Instruction.

The Educational Guidance Committee recommended I study Forgotten Pre-Human Skills. I was allowed to spend the next eighty cycles of my life learning how dangerous life for the human race was before order and structure was established.

I was thrilled by the recommendation to study Forgotten Pre-Human Skills. It would mean society had decided I would be working as a Harmony Protector or Regulation Enforcement Officer. I would be helping society move forward without the hindrances of the past.

Of all the things which have changed during my lifetime, I find my computer Companion to be the single most disturbing. The implanted synchrony is always with you…never dormant and leaves you with no option but to think whatever message is being transmitted. I know our society is far better off because of their existence, a fact my Companion constantly reminds me of. But there are times when I would just like to feel or discover new things on my own. I also suspect this is the very reason I've been summoned to the Hall for Social Justice and Harmony again.

I am far enough into the start of this story to have already had the lady sent back to 1775. I think it will be rather unique to contrast the far future to the distant past.

11. Is there anything you would consider challenging about your writing?

Yes…making sure it doesn't interfere with the things in life that are truly important. Things like afternoon naps, late night poker games (that now means anything after nine PM) and of course long motorcycle rides.

12. Do you have any advice or anything you'd like to say to your readers?

To anyone who may be thinking about writing a book. First and foremost write it to make you happy, not some friend who only wants to make it a little better. Finish what you start; at the very least you'll be an author with one book to their credit. If you find a publisher who wants to publish tour work, then you're a published author. If the book is published and one person (family doesn't count here) buys it, you are a successful author with a following.

To my readers…keep buying my books…She Who Should Not Be Named saw another yorkie puppy in need of a home. This means I'll may need two leashes and two pooper scoopers.

About Doug Lucas 

Doug and Yorkie
My name is Doug Lucas, well in reality it's Raymond D. Lucas. Like most people I sometimes forget I have a first name. Mine was borrowed from my father---I tend to confuse myself when I tell others my first name is Raymond.

My Dad had dreams of sending one of his sons to West Point; I had dreams of escaping any form of academic endeavor. Neither one of us was a total success in making those dreams come true. He did manage to force my nonacademic, rebellious mind and body through high school. I managed to join the Marine Corps right after high school before he could inflict the pain of higher learning on my soul.

I began a twenty-five year odyssey that in the beginning worked very well towards the completion of my life ambition of not being forced to endure any more formal education. The Marine Corp started my "reeducation" by training me to become a machine gunner---this worked well for me because no college was required for this position. After my first tour in the exotic Far East the Marines waited for me to reenlist and then changed my status to Combat Photographer, a reward for some misdeed that to this day I am still unaware of committing.

I once again found myself in academic situations, but with a twist that added zest to my desire to learn. Fail a military school and for the most part your career is over at all levels. You might say that I became a very enthusiastic student, with a new found motivation to excel at academics.

As a reward for completing the "schools" I was selected for, I was returned to the Far East to apply my new found knowledge of Combat Photography in a practical environment. I learned very quickly that in a combat situation, taking a shot with a camera was far less rewarding than taking one with a machine gun.

In the time that I served in the Marines I manage to become a Drill Instructor at MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina and serve a tour as a recruiter at RSS Long Island, New York. I have no idea what crimes I committed that forced the Marines inflict those punishments on me.

During this period of travel and education I did managed to entice a lovely young woman to share her life with me, on the condition that she controlled the purse strings. This condition has worked very well for us over the last forty some odd years, at least it has managed to ensure my bills were paid on time. She presented me with two sons and a daughter.
Both of my sons had the same attitudes toward higher education that I had. I would often tell them that they may roll across the stage in a wheel chair on graduation day, but they would graduate from high school.

I take all of the credit for raising our daughter, who now has her Master's Degree in Literature. Having read some of what I've produced, she has requested that if I ever publish a book, I not mention her name.

After retiring from the Marines I went to work for the Pennsylvania State police as a Forensic Photographer. I liked that job a lot because it was for the most part very quiet and peaceful---you might say dead end. After working at that for a few years I became interested in Forensic Video analysis. I think my main reason for interest in that field was as a way of proving to my father that you can make a living watching television.

I am now totally retired from all forms of work, with the exception of those small requirements my wife now inflicts on me. Tasks that are preformed for little or no pay I might add.

My lovely and gentle wife added to this blend of joy and frustration by acquiring an attack dog for home security. Very few people have the slightest conception of the sense of failure a former Marine achieves as he walks behind a six pound miniature Yorkshire terrier, appropriately named Trouble.

With the profits from my book sales, I hope to be able to afford a "pooper scooper."

Doug's books:

Conversations With a Dead Man: A stroll through an old cemetery will reveal very little about the people buried there. Their headstones will whisper of father, wife or lost child----but they don't sing of the lives those men and women led. Even our national heroes are lucky to have one or two of their life's accomplishments inscribed on their markers for future generations to marvel at.

Cemeteries are filled with forgotten people. They were people who had lives rich with or empty of the joys that just being alive creates for us. Once we are dead and gone, our lives quickly fade into small morsels of oral history and are slowly forgotten by family and friends as time and generations pass.

What would these forgotten souls tell us if they could talk?

The Man in the Mountain: For most of us, we have mental pictures of just what and how our favorite authors live. Their lives must be far richer and more interesting than ours, because they have the ability to engage our minds and thrill our souls with their visions of what life was, is or could be.

These word smiths can hold our imaginations in a vise grip with the grace and skill they weave action, love, adventure, and science fiction genres into a whole cloth we can clad ourselves in for an hour or a life time.

This magic cloth allows us to escape our own truth and absorb realities that thrill, intrigue or titillate us. At times authors can: relieve boredom, fear or want, and offer the grace of comfort to our mundane day to day existence. Most at one time or another has sought the company of our favorite author's work to do some or all of those things.

Poets entice us to spend an hour On Walden's Pond, historians teach us the lessons of The Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire, theologians interpret The Last Days of Christ for us, and humorist show us The Redneck Dictionary is really us as others see us.

We think we know these word smiths, those tellers of tales who will join, entertain and instruct us with the turn of a page or the touch of a screen. To one degree or another, we are what we read and what we read depends on the author who engages our mind.

But what would happen if a group of people found themselves in a real life web of entanglement and relied to one degree or another on their favorite author?

Buy at Amazon / Creatspace

Forgotten: Historical fiction has a foundation of truth but that truth is often shrouded in fiction. Some claim that only time and distance can separate the two.

We have all lived through events that have shocked or changed our nation.

The assassination of Martin Luther King, or John and Robert Kennedy, men traveling into space, and landing on the moon, and of course the bombing of the World Trade Center; these are just a few examples that have occurred in my life time. These are the pivotal events that surround us I and others think we know all of the important facts.

But do we remember? Ask yourself or a friend what date any of these events happened on, see if you or they can give the exact date or even some of the facts surrounding any of these or other major past events of your lifetime.

Americans are noted for their short memories, we invented the term "Attention Deficit Disorder" to describe it. We immerse ourselves in an event for a short time span, then quickly lay the event aside and move to the next. If those events didn't or don't affect us directly----they are quickly forgotten.

Buzz Words: Most of us think we understand how police investigations work. We've seen them depicted on television so often we believe it's really only one or two hardnosed, lone wolf detectives who will shoot, punch or intimidate criminals as they investigate crimes and apply justice in their own way. The image fiction has imprinted on minds is one of fast paced, rough and tumble fearless officers who are always at odds with their bosses, politicians and the law. They also manage to solve every crime in the amount of time allotted for the shows time slot, normally in forty-five minutes or less after you remove the commercials.

Real life police work is not for the faint of heart, and it is work; mind numbing work that at times makes you feel more like a researcher with a weapon than a law enforcement specialist.

Those lone wolf fictional police officers would mostly be unsuccessful in real life for one single reason, lack of teamwork.
Law enforcement requires a dedicated team of people who possess many different specialized skill sets, all working towards a single goal, and the processing of evidence to aide an officer in making a solid arrest.

There are specialized segments of police work that are accomplished by shadow people. These are the ones who're given the artifacts of a crime and asked to find information to confirm facts or assist the efforts of investigators as they search for answers to who, what where when and most importantly why.

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The Flats Teachers' Test: A great teacher is a rock jutting from and sometimes engulfed by an ocean filled with the rip tides of passion, ineptitude, arrogance and ignorance. They are protruding spikes of granite which cannot be eroded easily. These are the teachers who make every effort against tremendous odds to polish young minds into the building blocks of society.

Great teachers are awe inspiring in their efforts to create excellence and their influence is powerful, extending beyond even their own lifetimes.

A fortunate few of us have had exceptional teachers who gifted our lives with knowledge as they challenged us and created a need to meet the potential of what we might achieve. These individuals changed the way we thought, possibly sent us down a career path or simply gave us a passion for learning. A passion which will move forward with us for all of our lives.

All of us have encountered educators.

More than a few of these educators started out to become teachers, only to be crushed at some point in their career. Those individuals have lost the desire to teach. Once this desire was destroyed, they ceased to care about anything but themselves and their retirement.

A number of these educators can and should be faulted for their effort to instruct their students. There are more than a few teachers who've simply been beaten into submission by the very system they drove themselves to become part of.
Most of those teachers who've been destroyed by our education system, toiled under the constraints of weak administrators. Administrators who care more about the system and the political realities of their own success, than education. For this type of administrator the people on the front lines of education and the children they strive to entice, excite or simply drag kicking and screaming into an academic environment are of little or no consequence.

This type of administrator creates educators out of gifted teachers. In the process, they destroy the gifts and fervor for knowledge that could have been passed to future generations.

I invite you to wander through the very foundations of our education system and spend a few hours with a few truly great teachers. When you finish I'd ask you to answer one very simple question, "Would I be a great teacher or end up an educator?" 

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

GMTA Blog Tour: Jamie Haden

Jamie Hayden
Wilmington, NC August 2012
Who is Talisa Santiago?

This is never an easy question to answer because who we are changes, sometimes on a daily basis. It is often customary to hear a person say, "I'm not the same as I was back then," or "I'm different now." Although this may be the case, what I have come to learn is, our thoughts about ourselves, and our thoughts towards others, can certainly change, yet, in the end, our essence remains true. That is what I tap into, to fully understand and appreciate Talisa. I had to get her essence.

Just as the spirit of the soul lies hidden, so were the secrets of Talisa's childhood. She was born in the Mexican desert, the granddaughter of a shaman, yet she fled with her mother at the age of seven and escaped to America in hopes of finding a new, safer life. In an attempt to shield her daughter from her past, Talisa's mother refused to speak of their history in the desert, her ancestry, and all things Native American. Only bits and pieces remained in the young girl's memory. Horrific as well as enchanting recollections consumed her, but dissolved through time with no explanation. Life proved to be difficult, and Talisa found herself isolated and alone.

She was different from other kids.

Indeed, the very core of her being separated her most because she was born, not just the granddaughter of a shaman, but with a direct connection to the spirit worlds. Even though some would argue her gifts were hereditary, it would still prove to be a long and arduous crossing simply because her childhood, where she came from, was a mystery. 

Nevertheless, the obscurity of it all was enticing. It kept Talisa lost, yet hoping, wondering, if maybe one day, she would be found. 

From the very beginning, when I first began to think about Talisa, I knew I wanted a strong female protagonist. Not necessarily physically powerful, although I do appreciate the girl who can kick some serious butt, I am talking internally so, awakened. Such a state of being in a seventeen year old is rare, a treasure to be adored.

This was also an end. A place Talisa had to get to, after she walked a very long and winding road, for the desire to become aware of our inner selves is a journey most of us inevitably take at some stage of life.

To fulfill this goal, this end, I wanted to develop the character of a girl who wasn't consumed with materialism. I envisioned a world of seclusion—first a barrier island of the coast of North Carolina, and then, a remote Indian reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains. Yet, throughout it all, Talisa, as well as all the other characters, had to be relatable. They had to go through being teenagers, the hell of it all; they had to be real.

Ultimately, Talisa would have great burdens to bear, feel tremendous heartache, go against all odds, fall, be betrayed, betray, and face the dark night of her soul. There was no other way around it. She had to lose it all in order to know what losing it all felt like; then and only then would she be able to rise.    

In the end, I admire the person who can honestly say they live with no regrets, because the choices they made, even the ones they regret, made them stronger in the end. They are the ones who transform through change. By living in the present, they aren't captive to the past. They reclaim their spirit and inspire others. People such as this are worth writing for, and that is Talisa.

ILLUMINATE-ALIVE, SHE CRIED a novel by Jamie Haden 
Some say the concept of rebirth is simply a metaphor for living a better life, a holier life. For seventeen-year old Talisa Santiago, such a resurrection is anything but a metaphor. It is her reality.
Talisa knows she can communicate with the spiritual world. She is the granddaughter of a shaman and going between two different worldly dimensions is something she realizes she is destined to do. However, what she doesn’t count on is what fate has in store for her. 
After surviving the first hurricane of the season on the island where she lives, Talisa learns that her life is in grave danger. She must leave immediately and retreat to live with a secretive clan of Indians on a remote reservation deep within the Great Smokey Mountains.
Her blood brothers, three shifters who have the desires of both man and animal surround her, promising everlasting friendship and protection. Now, Talisa will put her life in their hands, depart from her mother, and begin the journey of a lifetime. However, the majestic mountains hold many secrets and danger lurks in the night. There are evil tricksters everywhere that want her dead. As Talisa falls prey to the confusion of her own sexuality, she unleashes an untamed passion that may get them all killed.
Jamie Leigh Haden is the author of Spirit Seeker, a young adult fantasy. Jamie lives and writes near the seashore in North Carolina. She has a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. Jamie is currently working on An Unimagined Life, the sequel to Illuminate-Alive, She Cried.  
Get Illuminate-Alive, She Cried on Kindle or Createspace
Links for Jamie Haden: website / blog / facebook / twitter / tumblr