Today is my birthday! To celebrate, I’m giving away a $10 gift card to Amazon to a randomly selected reader who posts a picture of a dragon in my honor somewhere on social media today! (tag me in it so I can count it — (Facebook | Instagram | Twitter)
Update on The Dragon’s Cave Publication
I turned in my edits for The Dragon’s Cave to Kindle Press last week, so I expect to hear in the next couple of weeks when my book will go on preorder and the final publication date. I think it could be as soon as six to eight weeks from now!
If you nominated it on Kindle Scout, you’ll receive it when it goes on preorder (they’re hoping you’ll be the first reviewers!).
Tucson Festival of Books
I’m lucky to have a huge book festival right in my home town. I took the kids to the Tucson Festival of Books to check out our new favorite author, Shannon Messenger. If you haven’t read her series, Keeper of the Lost Cities–we highly recommend it!
I snapped a photo of Shannon Messenger at her book signing. Yes, that’s a necklace made of flowers that my son made for me that morning–lol!
We also picked up the first book in local Tucson young adult author Natalie Wright’s the Akasha Chronicles. The ebook version is FREE on Amazon–check it out!
I’m so thrilled to report that The Dragon’s Cave won the Kindle Scout nomination for publication and will soon be published by Kindle Press! I’m not sure of the release date yet, but everyone who nominated me will receive a free Advance Review Copy (ARC) before it’s published.
I understand there may be another round of edits before it goes to press, so that will probably determine the publication date. I’ll keep you posted as I hear more.
Not sure about how reading a screenplay works as a bedtime story? I tried it out and I have the full report, complete with my kids’ feedback!
Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. Today I’m sharing about the latest J.K. Rowling release and MG favorite, Fantastic Beasts.
We’d just finished the seventh Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and faced the sad prospect of no “H.P.” at bedtime. Reading the Harry Potter series had been a united activity–both my eleven year old and my eight year old looked forward to our nightly reading. For Katie Rose, it was her second time listening to me read the whole series, but she was no less engrossed at 11 than she was at 7. My son Owen had gone from being a reluctant listener when we started (“I think it’s too scary for me”) to being the one who started asking at 7:30, “Is it H.P. time?)
When we worked through the Harry Potter series, we always finished reading the book first and then watched the movie. In the case of Fantastic Beasts, we watched the movie first. I do think that helped immensely, filling in the visuals that aren’t present when reading a screenplay. I guess we’ll find out how important seeing the movie was first when we dive into the script of The Cursed Child.
Overall, I would call the adventure a success. The one major downside–it went all too fast. A two hour movie script does not compare to the entire Hogwarts school year in terms of how many nights it took us to devour the thing (just a few!).
I brought my kids out to talk about the experience. Here’s what they thought:
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Was it harder to listen to me reading a screenplay vs. a book?
Katie Rose: YES!
Owen: It was harder to understand, but it helped when you’d say who said something (the screen directions), it helped.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: If we hadn’t seen the movie, would it have been impossible to understand?
Katie Rose: I would’ve understood it, but it would be harder.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Was it better than Harry Potter book or not as good?
Both: Not as good. Owen: I like Harry Potter better
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Did the fact that there were no kids in this book influence how much you liked it?
Rose-Marie Lyttle: If someone else had written this, and it wasn’t connected with the Harry Potter world, would you still like it?
Owen: Yes, either way.
Katie Rose: I liked it because it was set in the Harry Potter world.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Tell me, what was your favorite thing about Fantastic Beasts?
Katie Rose: I liked the beasts.
Owen: I liked the Obscurus and the beasts.
Rose-Marie Lyttle:Which beasts in particular?
Owen: I liked them all. The little thing that steals gold (The Niffler) and the leaf-guy stick thing (bowtruckle) the Swooping Evil.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Anything you didn’t like about the story?
Rose-Marie Lyttle: How would you rate it on a scale of 1-10?
Rose-Marie Lyttle: So what would HP be?
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Now that you’ve read a screenplay, are you more interested in theater?
Katie Rose: I really want to be a director and this taught me more terms. I’d rather read a book, but if I was directing a movie or was in a movie, I would appreciate a screenplay more than a book.
Owen: It shows you where the camera would be pointing– it gives you directions.
So there you have it! JK Rowling unites our family once more! Tonight we begin The Cursed Child. I’ll let you know how it goes!
After sitting on the manuscript for my first middle grade novel for over a year, I finally finished edits and sent it off for publication.
The prompting came from Katie Rose, my eleven-year-old, who seemed to have an avatar moment. We were driving home and she asked me what I was thinking about.
I replied, “an idea for a new book.”
She suddenly took on a commanding tone. “Mom, you need to publish The Dragon’s Cave. I love that book and it needs to be out in the world.”
She spoke with such conviction that I decided to follow her advice. I could re-write until I’m ninety and probably never think it’s perfect. It’s time to move it off my plate and move on to fresh projects!
I’m pleased to welcome Donna Cook, an author I met twenty years ago. We both studied writing at Knox College and you can see from her new release, Donna has put her education to good use. Her first book, The Gift of the Phoenix won 1st Place Fantasy in the North American Book Awards and Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Award Semifinalist. The Lost Branch is the newest book in the YA fantasy Lost Branch series.
The Lost Branch
A portion of ash stuck on the altar at the Rock of Light reveals a mysterious new threat.
Corren embarks on a perilous quest for the secrets of a long-extinct branch of the Order. In his absence, a menacing illness threatens the extinction of the earth faeries. But is it Nicolai’s healing they need or Corren’s powerful staff? And while Marcellus delves further into his bond with the element of water, he finds it may require more than he’s able to give.
In this intriguing continuation of Cook’s epic saga, Gift of the Phoenix, the Three discover the power of ancient secrets, new enemies, and treacherous desires. Together, they must protect their world from its most dangerous threat yet. If it isn’t already too late.
What early readers had to say about The Lost Branch:
“An intriguing new angle on a familiar world.”
“A great read!”
“I loved the book and was captivated by the characters and the story. The way you so expertly and effortlessly wove together all the story lines and points of view still has me marveling. Well done!!!”
“The Lost Branch is a compelling, original, engaging story.”
Donna Cook is an award-winning author and freelance book editor. Her epicfantasy adventure, Gift of the Phoenix, has won numerous awards, including 1st Place Fantasy in the North American Book Awards and Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Award Semifinalist. She’s an Arizona native transplanted to Boise, Idaho, where she is delighting in the change of scenery. When she’s not writing her next novel, she spends her time chasing the kids, exploring delicious eateries, and dancing with her talented husband (Salsa, baby!). She also makes a mean Navajo taco.
I am pleased to welcome Ruth Silver to Middle Grade Munch today. Her book is considered young adult, so my daughter didn’t read it with me this time. I did get the chance to ask Ruth a few questions…
Rose-Marie Lyttle: What was your favorite childhood book?
Ruth Silver: The Velveteen Rabbit, it’s not only a beautiful story but also quite sad. Plus I love rabbits, I used to have one in college (that I snuck into my dorm room).
Rose-Marie Lyttle: What do you like to do besides writing?
Ruth Silver:I love to read, which probably goes without saying. I also enjoy photography, video games, karaoke, traveling and just hanging out with my friends.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Do you have any plans to write a spin-off for Aberrant?
Ruth Silver:Yes! I am currently working on an untitled project that is a prequel, spin-off. I haven’t spoken much about it, but I will say there is plenty of action and a world to explore that we’ve barely touched in the Aberrant trilogy.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: How did you come up with creating Cabal, dystopian society in Aberrant? What inspired you?
Ruth Silver:The name itself, Cabal, comes from its definition. “A small group of secret plotters,” which I felt fitting for a dystopian society. I wanted the name to signify a revolution, because Cabal is not the perfect society that the government wishes and pretends it to be. I wanted Cabal to strive for Utopian but instead of being perfect, it was something else entirely.
The inspiration itself comes from most of us striving towards perfection. I don’t think there are many people that want a world without jobs, filled with homeless people that are starving. I think it’s easy to see what’s going on in society, what’s happening now and see a glimpse of the current world in its worst. It made me want to imagine a better world and then I realized how would this perfect world be flawed?
Rose-Marie Lyttle: In few words, why should we read your book?
Ruth Silver:I believe Aberrant will appeal to readers who liked the suspense of The Hunger Games, the thrill-seeking tests of Divergent and the romance and unique abilities of Graceling.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: What was the hardest part of writing Aberrant?
Ruth Silver:The hardest part was writing the characters suffering. I know that they will get through the pain – physical or emotional – and it will make them stronger, but it’s still hard to torture your favorite character.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Who was your favorite character to write in Aberrant?
Ruth Silver:I had the most fun with writing Olivia. She’s full of so many mixed emotions and traits that we’re always learning something about who she is. She’s not complacent. She has a mind of her own and likes to explore the world around her. She’s curious by nature and it has the tendency to get her into trouble. She’s complex, which makes her three-dimensional, but also incredibly caring and supportive of those she loves.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Why did you decide on making Aberrant into a series?
Ruth Silver:I felt like I had a huge story to tell. Something that would span across hundreds of thousands of words. That may not seem like a lot but when sending your novel to agents and publishers, there’s a certain word count they’re looking for in new authors and in young adult/new adult titles. The only way to properly tell the story, was to turn it into a trilogy.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: How long have you been writing?
Ruth Silver:I started writing poetry and just putting my thoughts onto paper when I was in high school. I loved reading fan fiction and it wasn’t long before I started writing it. In college, I spent at least as many hours writing as I did studying and going to class. I had some friends that were supportive and there were others that thought I couldn’t do it, which made me even more determined.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: Where did the idea for Aberrant come from?
Ruth Silver:The idea of Aberrant came from both my imagination and personal experience. The story developed out of choices that we have and that each of us make. I wanted to delve into those choices and imagine a world where they weren’t given to us but expected of us.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: How are you like, or unlike, Aberrant’s protagonist, Olivia?
Ruth Silver:At eighteen, Olivia is incredibly brave. She’s thrown into this tough situation and forced to leave her family and the only home she’s ever known. I couldn’t imagine leaving those I love behind. I wouldn’t want to. So much so, that I’d probably refuse to go.
Rose-Marie Lyttle: What are you currently working on?
Ruth Silver:I’ve got several writing projects underway. Forget Me Knot (Royal Reaper 2) is in edits right now with an expected Spring 2015 release. I’ve got an untitled spin-off for Aberrant in the works, which is a prequel story. Elfinland (Orenda 2) is about half-way written. To top it off, I’m also writing steamy adult fiction under the name Ravyn Rayne, which will be available this year as well. You can find those projects on Ravyn Rayne Reads.
What if your existence was illegal?
It was supposed to be the perfect system: food, shelter, and jobs for everyone. A strive toward Utopian.
When children can no longer be conceived through natural means, a lottery is established to determine which families will conceive a child in a lab through IVF.
Eighteen year old Olivia Parker is an anomaly. She shouldn’t exist.
The government wants her dead. The rebels have their own perverted agenda. In a world filled with secrets, betrayals, and death lurking at every turn, Olivia must decide her own path and who to trust.
Adventure, mystery, and romance come together in this fast-paced Young Adult dystopian fantasy that will keep readers of all ages turning the pages. Aberrant is the first novel in the Aberrant series.
Joshua came into my room, ignoring all rules as he helped push the dresser further from the wall, knocking it to the floor allowing me more than enough room to grab the journal and go. I tossed it inside the pack and Joshua put the map inside before we stepped out of my bedroom. I glanced down the hall, not sure what I expected to see. To the right the dormitory had been hit, and a roar of smoke and fire filled the confined space. Jacqueline was gone. Hand-in-hand we ran in the opposite direction toward the staircase.
My eyes burned. Coughing, I refused to let go of his hand as we stepped outside. Drones weren’t the only things attacking Haven. Tanks rolled into town. A few soldiers jumped off, taking over the perimeter, guns drawn. I paused, gripping Joshua’s hand as we were shrouded in smoke. Just a few feet away, a soldier lifted his weapon and unleashed fury on a group of innocent people. I covered my mouth with my hand to keep from crying out when a child no older than three hit the cement. His eyes remained open as blood seeped from his head. He didn’t move. Didn’t blink. It took only a moment to realize he’d died instantly. All I could do was stand there in shock.
“We have to move,” I heard Joshua’s voice, but it didn’t register. The smoke swirled around us and gunfire erupted in every direction. He grabbed my arm. “Olivia, I need you to focus.” I nodded once, trying my best to clear the cobwebs from my mind. I couldn’t, though. I wanted to run out to the child and protect him, but it was too late. I was too late. They were here because of me, innocent blood on my hands. I felt the heat radiating from the dormitory and my eyes flashed back. “I need you here with me, Olive.”
“I am,” I insisted, knowing if I didn’t focus we’d both be dead. I spotted more soldiers – their standard issue uniform and the Cabal crest on their jacket sleeve told me all I needed to know. The government had come looking for us. “Which way?” I couldn’t see the exit. With the smoke enveloping us and the fear coursing through my veins, I forgot the direction we’d come from.
About the Author
Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of the Aberrant trilogy. With a passion for writing and a love of story-telling, Ruth is actively writing YA fiction under her own name and adult romance novels under Ravyn Rayne. Her interests also include traveling, reading, and photography. Her favorite vacation destination is Australia. Ruth currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois. She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and her blogs Write Away Bliss and Ravyn Rayne Reads.
My daughter claims she only likes the Trader Joe’s brand white cheddar shells. My husband bet her five bucks that if he made five different kinds of mac and cheese, she wouldn’t be able to identify her favorite one. We invited some other kids over for a blind taste test, with seven different brands of shell macaroni and cheese. The kids rated them on a scale of 1-10.
The order below is how the test taste came out, with Annie’s Creamy Deluxe taking the win. My daughter’s came in second to last, but she did rank it as her highest, so she won the bet!
I took my kids to see Colossal Cave over the holiday, which gave me a chance to do a little hands-on research for my current wip The Dragon’s Cave. The cave has been open to the public since the 1800’s, which means it has not been as carefully controlled as Karchner Caverns. At Colossal Cave, there are stones that have been worn smooth from touch. It makes for a great experience for kids, complete with the tale of outlaws and hidden treasure.
The cave I imagine in The Dragon’s Cave is colored with gems in blue, black and green, while this one is oranges and reds. You can see some of the beautiful natural architecture in this photo: