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Sunday, August 19, 2018

 

Interview with Joanne Lozar Glenn: 3rd Place Winner in Q3 2018 Creative Nonfiction Contest

Joanne’s Bio:

Joanne Lozar Glenn is a freelance writer and editor, teaches writing in adult education programs, and leads destination writing retreats. Her books include Memoir Your Way: Tell Your Story Through Writing, Recipes, Quilts, Graphic Novels, and More (co-author, Skyhorse Publishing, 2016); No One Path: Perspectives on Leadership from a Decade of Women in Technology Award Winners (editor-in-chief, Women in Technology, 2009); Applying Evidence-Based Laboratory Medicine: A Step-by-Step Guide (coauthor, AACC Press, 2009); 25 + 1: Communication Strategies for Business Education (co-author, NBEA, 2003); and Mentor Me: A Guide to Being Your Own Best Advocate in the Workplace (NBEA, 2003). Her poems and memoir essays have been published in Ayris, Brevity, Beautiful Things (River Teeth), Peregrine, Under the Gum Tree, and other print and online journals. She is currently working on a book-length memoir.

If you haven’t done so already, check out Joanne’s award-winning story “Apologies” and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW: Congratulations on winning 3rd place in the Creative Nonfiction Contest! How did you begin writing this piece, and how did it and your writing process evolve as you wrote?

Joanne: "Apologies" is the fusion of two pieces I was working on that I couldn't get to work as individual essays. Each essay had started with a prompt. (I belong to a monthly neighborhood writing-to-prompts group founded by novelist Leslie Pietrzyk.) I've lost track of how many revisions I did on each of the essays. Then, I'm not sure why, I decided to explore combining them. I had read something during that time that led me to experiment with a different cadence, so I tried that and it felt like maybe, just maybe, it could work. At the time I was teaching a class on “writing memoir that matters,” which asked students to take risks in their writing to tell a story that was perhaps uncomfortable and pushed some boundaries but that was important to them. I wrote, too, and shared an early draft of this essay with them. I believe that we shouldn't ask anything of students we wouldn't ask of ourselves, and I wanted them to know that I was willing to take the same risks I was asking them to take. I kept working at the essay after the class ended, saw the notice for the WOW! contest, and took a chance.

WOW: And we—WOW and your readers—are glad you took that chance! What did you learn about yourself or your writing by creating this essay?

Joanne: I learned—again—to dig, to look at my own complicity even if it means telling a story I’m afraid to admit. And that it wouldn’t kill me. But I am a little nervous about how those who know me in other "more favorable" circumstances will feel about the "I" in this essay.

WOW: I admire your courage to create and publish a piece that makes you a little uncomfortable. Which creative nonfiction essays or writers have inspired you most, and in what ways did they inspire you?

Joanne: So many! I love the essays in Brevity, such as Randon Billings Noble's “The Heart as a Torn Muscle"—the variety of forms and topics those essays explore are both an inspiration and a challenge. Writers Abigail Thomas, Rebecca McClanahan, Roxanne Gay, Maribeth Fischer, Terry Tempest Williams, and Dinty Moore inspire and challenge me to speak truth, and to “tell the story only you can tell in the way only you can tell it.” The voice in Dina Honour's "1001 Nights" (Hippocampus Magazine), the narrative persona in Adriana Páramo's "Let's Kill Your Grandfather Together" (WOW! Q2 CNF), and the poetry of Susan Wadd's "Once We Were Sad" (WOW! Q3 CNF) reinforce the importance of that lesson.

But I also take inspiration from fiction writers. The storytelling and craft in Leslie Pietrzyk's novel Silver Girl push me to be more disciplined, more attuned to elements such as setting and conflict, and more of a risk-taker. The lyricism and attention to detail in Susan Muaddi Durraj's short story collection A Curious Land inspire me to pay attention to every sentence, every word in every sentence, and the “intertwingling” of themes and images to create unity. The depth of Octavia Butler’s speculative fiction (Fledgling; Kindred; Bloodchild) is spurring me to explore connections between my memories and the socio-cultural context in which I lived, to see if I can write an “outward-facing” rather than “navel-gazing” memoir. (I’m not sure if I can, but I’m going to try.)

WOW: I love hearing about the number of way you challenge yourself through your writing. It’s very inspiring! Can you tell us more about the book-length memoir you’re writing?

Joanne: The memoir’s about growing up as the oldest daughter of a mother who’s chronically depressed and trying to piece light out of that darkness. Right now it’s a pile of papers and I’m doing my sixth revision (in baby steps). I want to say something smart here about revising, but the truth is that after I thought I was “done” (revision #5) I kept writing more pieces that made the original material feel “not yet good enough.” Now I’m revisiting all that content, waiting for the “click” inside me that says yes, this!

WOW: Good luck, and keep at it! If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Joanne: Get started, girl—you have a lot of lost time to make up for! Trust your instincts. Go in the door that is open. Always have something to look forward to. And if that door's not open yet, open it yourself. You can make a path where none yet exists.

WOW: Great advice from which many of us can benefit! Thank you for your wonderful writing and thoughtful responses. Happy writing!

Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt, who keeps a blog of journal entries, memoir snippets, interviews, training logs, and profiles of writers and competitive sportswomen.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

 

Let your characters work it out!

I recently read an article that featured elderly people advising others on living a happy life. Most pearls of wisdom dealt with how to love, while letting go of pain, trauma, and loss. Several spoke of telling and showing people how much you love them, and letting go of all the literal and figurative "stuff" in your life you can't control. Good advice for how to live, but bad advice for your characters.

If literary characters followed these ideas, then many great works of fiction would not exist. What if Dickens had "let go" of his childhood poverty? The line "Please sir, may I have another," might just be a question children ask their fathers when they want another cookie. What if the Old Man had "let go" of his drive for bringing in the great marlin, or if rom-com characters could just tell their secret crushes how they felt? What if Gatsby could have "let go" of his desire for Daisy, or Valdemort wasn't driven to destroy Harry Potter? The plot wouldn't move, that's what.

By letting go of the fixation, these stories would be over before they began. We would skip the internal and external conflict, and move right to the end. There's no hero's journey, and there's no story arc. Characters who deal with those experiences seem human and relatable. We see them solve the problems, and watch them grow as they navigate unfamiliar territory to succeed. We feel their pain. Well-adjusted people have happy lives, but well-adjusted characters without motivation to get the girl (or boy), get even, or get ahead, are boring.

Many writers describe putting their protagonists in sticky situations and then asking themselves, "What's the worst thing that could happen?" They present that worst-case scenario to see how they get out of it, which is a good strategy to draw out the conflict and tension in a story. And since we've all been in love, or dealt with problems beyond our control, we probably get some of our inspiration from life experiences. So, if you can't "let go," in your personal life, my advice is to pass it on to your characters and let them work it out!



Mary Horner earned the Writing Certificate from UM-St. Louis, and teaches communications at St. Louis and St. Charles Community Colleges.

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Marketing Your Work: Create a List to Sell All Your Books

Friday, I was fiddling around on Twitter. One of my favorite picture book authors, Peter H. Reynolds, had tweeted this image. It isn’t just a list of his books. It is an updated list. And it isn’t just informative. It looks good. I might be a wee bit jealous.

But I’m not so jealous that the wheels didn’t start turning. We authors do bookmarks. We make buttons. Items like those advertise one or two books, tops. But this list has 38 entries including 3 that aren’t out yet and 3 collections.

Maybe people who write for adults don’t think like this but children’s writers are trained. What can we produce that is inexpensive and can be handed out to every kid we see at a school visit? That could be anywhere from 30 to 300 kids. The answer – a book list.

Don’t ignore this idea if you don’t write for kids. Something like this could also be given out at a conference. Or posted on your website. Or tucked into copies of your book at a signing. The possibilities are endless.

But first you need the basic list. Easy peasy. Right?

The first thing that I learned is that this is harder than it looks. I know. I’m probably the only one who is surprised. Here is my attempt. I pulled this together in about 40 minutes and it looks like it. But I’m not giving up. I’m going to work on it until I get it right. I want to:


  • Find a better font. I want it to be interesting, but not distracting. And bold enough to grab attention but not too bold.
  • Fix the photo. I managed to turn a full color into something that looks like a black and white sketch which de-emphasized it, but it isn’t the look I want. I’d like a pen and ink line drawing.
  • Layout. More graphics. Make it more engaging.
  • Bold. I'm not sure why it looks so washed out, but that needs to be addressed.


A friend recently told me to just use a Word template. I’ll have to check them out but I don’t do so great with templates. I tend to get a vision. Yeah, I’m visual but not artistic. I did my version in Publisher. I’m sure Publisher has templates since it is by the same people as Word.

I definitely think it is a good idea to have an attractive list of all my books so I’ll keep working on it. I mean seriously. If a world famous picture book illustrator can do it, I’m sure I can too. I have a few ideas.

--SueBE

To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins September 10th, 2018.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

 

Friday Speak Out!: Algebra for Writers

by Lee Zacharias

I knew I wanted to be a writer from second grade, when I first put my hand up for show-and-tell and made up a story. I never knew what the story would be, but there was a certain logic to my tales. The longer I could draw out the suspense the less time we had for arithmetic.

So it might seem odd that when I got to high school I fell in love with algebra. To me the beauty of algebra was its system of logic. That my son never bought this argument when I was helping with his homework is beside the point. Writing is a process of posing problems and figuring out answers. There is a kind of algebra to writing a novel.

Some problems may be mundane: how to drain a lake, how to evacuate a ship? (Research helps there.) But the most pressing problems are more profound: why is this story being told, why now, what is the resolution, what does it mean? Sometimes you have to dig deep; it may take years to discover the answer. I was more than twenty drafts into my new novel, Across the Great Lake, before I knew who the ghost was. At some point in the first I knew why my narrator was telling her story, knew her secret, knew pretty much how the story would resolve, but I did not know who the ghost was. After all, the Great Lakes have a lot of ghosts. Why shouldn't any one of those spirits visit her?

But my narrator's ghost didn't come from Midwestern lore—I stole her from a night I once spent at the Island Inn on Ocracoke, nearly 1200 miles away from the Lake Michigan railroad car ferry where Fern's ghost visits her. I was at the edge of an ocean, not a Great Lake, but something about edges puts one between one world and another. Mrs. Godfrey—whose identity is fairly well documented, I've learned since—did to me what exactly what Fern's ghost does to her, grabbed my big toe and held on. (Is it a coincidence that the same toe later developed hallux rigidus and required a surgical implant?) She made for a restless night, but I might have convinced myself I'd imagined it or had a bad dream if the desk clerk hadn't taken one look at my face when I came downstairs the next morning and said, "Would you like to change rooms?" Yes, and Mrs. Godfrey never bothered me again. Why she chooses certain rooms over others I can't say. Ghosts keep their secrets. Perhaps that's why it took me so long to discover the identity of Fern's.

But a ghost in a novel can't be just any ghost you've read about in legends or even encountered yourself, unless you figure out why. A ghost needs a purpose, and once you realize that purpose you have found X, and it is that X that immeasurably deepens the meaning.

* * *
LEE ZACHARIAS is the author of a collection of short stories, Helping Muriel Make It Through the Night; three novels, Across the Great Lake, Lessons, and At Random; and a collection of personal essays, The Only Sounds We Make. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council, North Carolina's Sir Walter Raleigh Award, Southern Humanities Review's Theodore Christian Hoepfner Award, Prairie Schooner's Glenna Luschei Award, and a Silver Medal in Creative Nonfiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards (the IPPYs). Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and been recognized by The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Essay, which reprinted her essay "Buzzards" in its 2008 edition. She taught at the University Arkansas, Princeton University, and the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where she is Emerita Professor of English, as well as many conferences, most recently the Wildacres Writers Workshop. Find her online at http://leezacharias.com/
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

 

Interview with Rena Olsen, Author of With You Always

Most people who know me know how much I love thrillers and psychological suspense novels (Gillian Flynn? Paula Hawkins? Lauren Oliver? I'm there!) So when I was offered the opportunity to interview author Rena Olsen, whose latest novel With You Always was released on Aug. 7, I didn't hesitate! It was a pleasure learning all about her writing journey up to this point and the inspiration behind the novel that I couldn't put down.

As a bonus, check back on Aug. 27 for a review of the book!

About the Book:
Rena Olsen's 2016 debut novel, The Girl Before, was named a Booklist top mystery debut, a BookPage Best Mystery of 2016, and one of Wall Street Journal's Killer Thrillers of 2016. Her latest novel, With You Always, is a picture-perfect love story gone terribly wrong.

Fresh out of a painful breakup and trying to prove herself at work, Julia is overwhelmed and unsure of which direction to turn, but that all changes when she meets Bryce Covington. A charming and successful lawyer with traditional values and a strong dedication to his family and faith, Bryce becomes a guiding light for Julia to find her place in the world again.

Romantic dinners, helicopter rides, and promises of a wonderful future together quickly win Julia over, despite the concerns of her sister and her best friend. Charmed by his caring nature and touched by his dedication to his church, she believes Bryce is "the one" and is quickly swept off her feet. Julia finds herself being pulled further and further away from her old life, slowly transformed into the ideal wife Bryce and the leaders of his church want her to be. Unfortunately, all is not as it seems, and Julia begins to wonder if her perfect life is actually a cage. Then one day everything changes . . . and Julia is faced with no choice but to find a way out.

About the Author:
Rena Olsen grew up moving around every few years, following her minister father from church to church, and her exposure to so many different people and environments sparked an interest in human nature. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in marriage and family therapy. A licensed therapist, she works in Des Moines, Iowa. Learn more at RenaOlsen.com.

Find Rena online:

Twitter: @originallyrena

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/RenaOlsenWriter

Instagram: @rosmiles

----------Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Welcome, Rena, and congratulations on the publication of your latest novel! We know your agent is the fabulous Sharon Pelletier of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC. We'd love to hear what your process in finding her was like.

Rena: She is fabulous, isn't she? I connected with Sharon after I had completed an R&R for another agent. I was in the waiting period and decided to throw my hat in the ring for the #pitmad event on Twitter. (If you haven't heard of these events, they're great for connecting with other writers, even if there's not much agent response.) I didn't know who Sharon was when she liked my tweet, but as soon as I did my research I was convinced she was the agent for me. She offered, I accepted, and I've never looked back.

WOW: Thanks for highlighting how important being active on social media as an author can be! With You Always is a psychological thriller, as was your debut novel, The Girl Before. Are thrillers something you've always gravitated toward in your writing, and do you also enjoy reading them by other authors?

Rena: The funny thing is that I never planned to write thrillers. I always considered myself a YA author, either contemporary or sci-fi. I have always loved reading thrillers and suspenseful novels, but it had never occurred to me to write one until I started putting The Girl Before on paper. Even then, I wasn't sure what it was until it was finished. I've enjoyed delving deeper into the world of thrillers though, and discovering authors I might never have picked up without stepping into the genre.

WOW: Where did the inspiration for With You Always come from?

Rena: As with most books, I would imagine, it was a variety of sources that inspired With You Always A few years ago, my cousin Dana told me she had an idea for a story about a woman in a bathtub, and she wanted me to write it. She let me take it where I wanted from there, but it's probably one of my favorite short stories I've ever written, due in large part to the twist at the end. When it came time to write another book, this story came back to mind, and I contemplated ways to expand it into a full-length novel. I'm clearly very interested in relationships and how perceptions can be twisted especially in the context of a relationship, so I decided on a reverse fairy tale approach, where all seems perfect, but it's not happily ever after. The story grew from there.

WOW: Oh, that bathtub scene is something else, too! I won't give anything else away so I don't spoil anything by accident! When writing, are you a planner or a pantser? Do you have any favorite resources on the writing craft you can share with our readers (books, blogs, webinars, writing classes, etc.)

Rena:
I used to be a total pantser. I knew how a story started and usually some elements of how it ended (although the last line of The Girl Before was one of the first I wrote and never changed throughout the editing process), but the journey to get there was always a mystery, unfolding as I wrote it. As I've matured as a writer and especially in exploring the world of thrillers, I've done more planning to bring together complicated story elements. I now refer to myself as a "pantyliner." (I think I scandalized some older women during a library event when I said that!)

WOW: The pantyliner! That's hilarious! I hope those women weren't too traumatized, ha ha! Speaking of funny, you have a story in an anthology called A Pizza My Heart. Please tell us more!

Rena: From the brilliant mind of Jolene Haley, a pizza anthology was born. It was more a fun project than anything, a group of like-minded individuals writing stories about pizza. Mine was about teenage pizza assassins. The stories are a lot of fun, and I'm proud to be part of it. Maybe someday you'll see a full-length teenage pizza assassin novel. You know, after I finish my other twenty projects floating around my brain.

WOW: Can you describe some of the highs and lows of your publishing journey up to this point (we've all been there!)

Rena: For sure, every writer could talk for hours about highs and lows. Of course, signing with Sharon and then signing my first book deal were highs. And my second book deal! I do try to celebrate every achievement, every positive publication review, every gushy email I receive. It's important to celebrate those things to contend with the lows, the bad reviews, the glacial pace at which everything in publishing moves. My lowest low probably came when my publisher decided that the second book I'd written for my contract wasn't the right follow-up for The Girl Before. I cried for a day and then emailed my agent and editor the next morning with ideas for a different book. With You Always was among those ideas. It was tough, but an opportunity for growth, and I really learned what an incredibly supportive team I have at DG&B as well as at Putnam. I've been very blessed.

WOW: Good for you for jumping back in with new ideas after disappointment and not letting it discourage you. Obviously you had a winner with With You Always! What are some marketing tactics you've used to help generate publicity and buzz for your two novels, especially in places like social media?

Rena: Giveaways are always a great way to get things moving. Thankfully I get a nice supply of ARCs and copies of my book to allow me to do some giveaways fairly regularly. I try to keep them interesting. I also give my friends and family handfuls of bookmarks to hand out to coworkers, neighbors, and strangers in the grocery store. You never know where you might find a new reader!

WOW: That's right! I know we have plenty of readers who follow this blog who will be happy to check out your work as well! Working full-time as a school therapist, how do you prioritize time for your writing?

Rena: I'll let you know when I figure that out! I actually supervise our school-based therapy team, and it is definitely a struggle at times. For example, during release week, I have three radio interviews and two big book events among a few other smaller commitments (signing stock and the like), but for my day job we have ten new therapists starting that I need to help train and get going in their positions. Thankfully my job is very flexible and very supportive of my writing habit. I also take days off when deadlines are looming, and I have started spending weekends at a hotel in the area to get me away from distractions to get solid writing time in. I am definitely not able to write every day, sometimes because of time constraints, and sometimes because I am too mentally drained. It always works out though. Eventually :)

WOW: Rena, thank you again for this interview, and for letting me review an advance copy of With You Always. I can't wait to share my review with our readers on Aug. 27!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

 

The Wellspring; Found Poetry

by Katherine McCord

One of the most fascinating things I ever read about craft was in Ernest Hemingway’s essay, “On Style.” That guy. I guess I didn’t trust him. He definitely doesn’t come from a woman’s perspective, and he definitely, to me, represents the canon where men dominate in publication and editorship, I’m sorry to say, given the backwards state of things. But we were assigned it in an undergraduate class I took. I had to read it being the good student I was. And I took away something that still rests with me. Well, two things:

1. There are no characters, only people.

In other words, we were to focus less on an intellectually preconceived plot where you want these people to do what you want in the story, because, since they are people, they are—and now Hemingway used a metaphor—they are icebergs.

2. People are icebergs.

In the story you just see a tip, the tip of the iceberg, but what’s in the ocean, the part you never see in the story or novel, has to be there. That person’s full life. What he or she has done and lived and likes to eat—all of it. Again, the stuff never mentioned in the story. But unless you know your “character”/person like that, there is no story. There can’t be. How to get there is the hard part. Some of you will just know this person inside because you carry her history, so that if a person asks you a question about her, you’ll be able to give an answer that isn’t intellectual, but just is. Or maybe some of you will explore the character, be the character, to know. Or maybe some of you will just write and that character’s whole history, her every thought will show itself, the life she’s lived by the way she is in the story.

"The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.” ~ Ernest Hemingway


I think as writers we must study and be a long time to find those moments of grace and I think that’s why we write. Found Poetry is like that. There’s what’s underneath, except your art is a wellspring.

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Want to learn more bout found poetry, and give it a try yourself? Join Katherine McCord's online class, FOUND POETRY: Erasure, Blackout, Cento, Cut-Up, Free Form and Craft Elements (Concreteness, Tone, Lineation, and Dramatic Shape), a six week course starting on Monday, September 3, 2018Early registration is recommended!

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Katherine McCord has two books of poetry—Island and Living Room (prose poems)—a lyric essay memoir, My CIA; a poetry chapbook, Muse Annie; and a literary memoir, Run Scream Unbury Save, that was winner of the Autumn House Open Book Award in Creative Nonfiction. She has published widely in literary journals, such as American Poetry Review. Katherine has an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Creative Writing. In 2011 and 2014, she won Maryland Individual Artist Awards (state grants in creative writing in poetry) and has won other awards or placed as a finalist, such as for the Frank McCourt Memoir Prize. You can find out more about her on www.KatherineMcCord.com.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

 

Fiona Ingram Launches Her Blog Tour of The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper

...and giveaway!

A plane crash! Lost in the jungle! Hunted by their old enemy, will Adam, Justin, and Kim survive long enough to find the Third Stone of Power? With only a young boy, Tukum, as their guide, the kids make their way through the dense and dangerous jungle to find the lost city of stone gods, where the Stone of Power might be located. River rafting on a crocodile-infested river and evading predators are just part of this hazardous task. Of course, their old adversary Dr. Khalid is close behind as the kids press on. But he is not the worst of their problems. This time Adam will clash with a terrible enemy who adopts the persona of an evil Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca, and is keen to revive the ancient tradition of human sacrifice. Adam, Justin, and Tukum must play a dreadful ball game of life and death and maybe survive. Will they emerge alive from the jungle? Will Dr. Khalid find the third Stone of Power before they do?

Print Length: 318 Pages
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Adventure
Publisher: Bublish, Incorporated (November 2017)
ISBN: 978-1946229465

While this is the third in the series, this can be read as a standalone book, however the author encourages readers to reader the first two books in The Chronicle of the Stone series as well: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab and The Search for the Stone of Excalibur.

The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper is now available to purchase on AmazonBarnes & Noble, and IndieBound.



Book Giveaway Contest!

To win a copy of the book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper by Fiona Ingram, please enter using Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post. Giveaway ends on August 19th at 12AM EST. We will announce the winner the next day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author, Fiona Ingram


Fiona Ingram is a children’s author, but up until a few years ago, she was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked her new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with her mother and two young nephews. They had a great time and she thought she’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, she had changed careers. She has now published Book 3 (The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper) in her middle grade adventure series Chronicles of the Stone, with many awards for the first book,The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, and a few for Book 2, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and one already for Book 3! She also teaches online novel writing for aspiring authors and she finds that very satisfying. Relaxation time finds her enjoying something creative or artistic, music, books, theatre or ballet. She loves doing research for her book series. Fiona loves animals and has written two animal rescue stories. She has two adorable (naughty) little dogs called Chloe and Pumpkin, and a beautiful black cat called Bertie.

You can find Fiona at –

Website: www.chroniclesofthestone.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/FionaRobyn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/secretofthesacredscarab

Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com

Blog: http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2868182.Fiona_Ingram

-- Interview by Nicole Pyles

WOW: First, I'm so excited you are joining us again for another blog tour! What has changed for you since your last tour with us in 2015?

Fiona: I’m very excited to be back with WOW, since you hosted my very first book tour with Book 1: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. In the meantime, I have landed a Japanese and a Chinese publishing deal for all my books, even the ones I have yet to write, and all 3 books have won awards, and even more for Book 1, which seems to be an evergreen favourite. I have a great movie agent who also does international book deals and we’re working on getting the books into the Latin American market, especially as Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper is set in Mexico. I am working on Book 4: The Cabal of the Ouroboros right now. It is set in the catacombs of Paris and the adventure theme is around the Knights Templar.

WOW: That is absolutely unbelievable! You are a true success story of self-publishing! What tips do you have for authors looking to self-publish their books?

Fiona: a) Never fall into the trap of thinking that your story is so great you can bypass the services of a professional editor and cover designer. Make sure your book meets the industry’s highest standards in editing, cover, and layout. Spend the money – it’ll be worth it.

b) Enter book awards. The more you win (even if it’s just a nomination), the better you look to the professionals. My Asian publishers were impressed by the books’ awards and nominations, and that’s why I got these deals.

c) Tell the world every day about your book/s. Marketing need not be expensive and word of mouth is the simplest and easiest way of getting your book out there.

d) Don’t give up. There’s fierce competition out there, but if your book is a worthy product, it will get noticed. (PS: I usually give up every day, around 4 p.m. but then after a good night’s sleep I start all over again!)

WOW: Ha, that is about the same time I give up everyday too, actually. Somehow though I always recover and start over! So, do you have any advice for writers seeking to write for a younger audience?

Fiona: My advice is to treat your young audience with respect. Don’t talk down to them. Kids are very clever. They read, they watch television, they know a lot. Don’t be afraid to use big words or complex ideas. Kids love learning new jawbreakers they can show off to their friends. Test your ideas on some kids of the right age, either your own, or those of friends/relatives. They’ll soon tell you if you’re on the right track. As an adult writer one can do the research required and structure a children’s story well. However, I think it is very important to remember how one felt at the age group one is writing for. I remember the magical middle grade years very, very well. That sense of adventure, jumping into anything exciting because who knew where it would end up. I hope I have conveyed that in my adventures when Adam and Justin hurtle headlong into an exciting quest.



“I remember the magical middle grade years very, very well. That sense of adventure, jumping into anything exciting because who knew where it would end up.”


WOW: Oh I recall that sense of adventure as well and it was so vivid in those middle grade years! Your books have a little bit of everything—history, geography, action, adventure—for the older child. What led you to write middle grade fiction? What inspired you to begin writing for children?

Fiona: I didn’t deliberately choose middle grade fiction; it sort of chose me. I also love the middle grade age group when kids are not quite teens looking towards adulthood, but still believe in the magical possibilities of adventure and excitement. When I was a child, all the technological gadgetry kids now have to entertain them was just a twinkle in some inventors’ eyes. We had to entertain ourselves. I started writing stories for my three younger brothers and their friends, and then we’d act out the tales (always dangerous and involving near death close shaves and usually a few monsters) for our very long suffering and patient parents – they were a very supportive and enthusiastic audience.

WOW: You know, your adventures as a kid sounds like the ones I enjoyed as a kid! Growing up in a pre-technology overload era is definitely something I'm grateful for! How much research went into writing this book? What were you surprised to learn?

Fiona: The amount of research for each book is phenomenal. Each book is based on the mythology, culture, legends and history of a new country. It’s important to choose the information that fits beautifully with the theme and the adventure. It’s also important not to burden the young reader with too much detail, just enough to get the heroes out of danger, or to help them work out a solution to a problem. But I love research, so I don’t see it as hard work. I always have a Young Readers’ Guide at the back of each book, with interesting details on some of the topics touched on in the story. On the books’ website, www.chroniclesofthestone.com, I have included a Young Readers’ Companion, which is a downloadable nonfiction guide to the story with lots more detail. I was always interested in the Maya and the Aztecs, but just had a passing knowledge. This book really required in-depth research into a lot of mythology and legendary important figures in Mesoamerican culture. But it was fascinating!

WOW: That is awesome you include that type of information in your books! That's so valuable to young readers! In your books, there is a young girl that joins the two main characters in their adventures, who happens to be African. Did you base this character on your own adopted daughter?

Fiona: The year I went to Egypt with my two nephews, I fostered an underprivileged African child. Mabel came to live with me as a foster child and then later I adopted her. She and my youngest nephew bonded and since the books are based on my nephews, it seemed almost inevitable that Mabel enter the series. She chose her character’s name, Kim, and I included in her backstory a lot of what Mabel had experienced with learning difficulties, and issues raised by a black child living with a white person. It was quite a learning experience for both of us and a lot of this is included in the second book, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. Kim’s entry into the series was very fortuitous because including a girl in a boys’ adventure certainly made the whole dynamic much more interesting, especially as the boys are quite annoyed that she has such good ideas!

WOW: What a rewarding experience that is for both of you! Ha, and I love the idea of the boys being annoyed at her good ideas! So, I love the story of how you came to write this series. Can you share that with our readers?

Fiona: In one of those serendipitous events that change lives, I went to Egypt with my mom and my two young nephews (aged 10 and 12 at the time). We had the most incredible and fascinating time, and when we got back home I thought I’d write a short story for the boys, with them as the heroes, as a different kind of memento. The short story turned into a multi award-winning book; the book turned in a 7-adventure book series! The young cousins, Adam and Justin, are based almost entirely on my nephews and some of the lines of dialogue come straight from them. Their enthusiasm and excitement at being in Egypt rubbed off on me and really inspired me.

WOWThank you so much for taking the time to chat with us and best of luck to you and your books! 

--- Blog Tour Dates

August 13 @ The Muffin
What goes better in the morning with coffee than a muffin? Grab your cup of morning brew and join us today when we celebrate the launch of Fiona Ingram's book, The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.  You can read our interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.
http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

August 14th @ Write Like Crazy
Make sure you stop by Mary Jo's blog Write Like Crazy where Fiona Ingram talks about why your child doesn't like reading and how to fix this. Also, you can enter to win a copy of the book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
http://www.writelikecrazy.com

August 15th @ Girl Zombie Authors
Come by Christine's blog where Fiona Ingram shares her thoughts on writing about different places for kids.
https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com/

August 16th @ Jessica Samuel's Blog
Come by Jessica's blog today where Fiona Ingram talks about how to transform your non-reader into a reader.
https://jessicasamuelsauthor.com/

August 19th @ Madeline Sharples' Blog
Stop by Madeline's blog today where author Fiona Ingram shares her thoughts with young writers on writing and creating characters.
http://madelinesharples.com/

August 20th @ Mari's #JournalingPower Blog
Stop by Mari's blog where author Fiona Ingram shares her thoughts on developing characters that children will relate to.
https://www.createwritenow.com/journal-writing-blog

August 20th @ Bairn's Bard
Stop by Rebecca's blog Bairn's Bard today where you can read a post by Fiona Ingram's daughter and also you can read about Rebecca's thoughts on the book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
https://bairnsbard.wordpress.com/

August 21st @ Cover2Cover Blog
Stop by Steph's Cover2Cover where you can read Fiona Ingram's blog post about choosing books for your kids.
http://cover2coverblog.blogspot.com/

August 22nd @ Look to the Western Sky
Come by Margo Dill's blog Look to the Western Sky where Fiona Ingram writes about her experiences fostering (and later adopting) an illiterate African child who is now a lovely young woman who loves reading.
http://margoldill.com/

August 22nd @ A New Look on Books
Come by Rae's blog where Fiona Ingram writes about the joy of writing for children.
https://anewlookonbooks.com/

August 26th @ Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi
Come by Karen's blog where Fiona Ingram shares her thoughts on how to encourage your kids to start writing.
http://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/

August 27th @ Mommy Daze: Say What??
Stop by Ashley's blog where Fiona Ingram talks about helping kids read better with homeschooling. A must read as school is about to start!
https://adayinthelifeofmom.com/

August 27th @ Rebecca Whitman's Blog
Come by Rebecca's blog where you can read Fiona Ingram's post about using computers to improve reading skills.
https://rebeccawhitman.wordpress.com

August 28th @ Jennifer's Deals
Stop by Jennifer's blog where she shares what she her thoughts about Fiona Ingram's incredible middle grade adventure book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
https://www.jennifers-deals2.com/

August 29th @ Jill Sheets Blog
Stop by Jill's blog where she reviews The Temple of the  Crystal Timekeeper and shares what she thinks about the book.
https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

August 30th @ Story Teller Alley
Visit Veronica's blog and check out her thoughts on the book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
http://storytelleralley.com/blog

August 31st @ Mommy Daze: Say What??
Make sure you stop by Ashley's blog again where she shares her thoughts on Fiona Ingram's book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
https://adayinthelifeofmom.com/

August 31st @ Rebecca Whitman's Blog
Stop by Rebecca's blog again where you can read Fiona Ingram's post about writing a children series.
https://rebeccawhitman.wordpress.com/

September 1st @ Cathy C. Hall's Blog
Visit Cathy's blog today where Fiona Ingram shares the top ten things you never knew about Mexico!
https://c-c-hall.com/

September 2nd @ Break Even Books
Come by Erik's blog Break Even Books where Fiona Ingram talks about how to make your books both enjoyable and educational.
https://breakevenbooks.com/

September 3rd @ Beverly A. Baird's Blog
Join us over at Beverley A. Barid's blog where author Fiona Ingram shares her thoughts on developing a children's series.
http://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

September 4th @ Cathy C. Hall's Blog
Make sure to come by Cathy's blog again where she shares her thoughts on Fiona Ingram's book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
https://c-c-hall.com/

September 4th @ Carpinello's Writing Pages
Stop by Cheryl's blog and make sure you catch her review of Fiona Ingram's book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper. 
http://carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.com/

September 5th @ Jill Sheet's Blog
Come by Jill's blog today where Fiona Ingram shares her thoughts on writing for children.
https://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

September 5th @ Ali's Bookshelf
Stop by Ali's blog where Fiona Ingram talks about whether books can help children cope with life.
http://alisbookshelfreviews.blogspot.com

September 7th @ Beverly A. Baird's Blog
Join us at Beverly's blog again for her thoughts on Fiona Ingram's adventurous book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
http://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

September 7th @ Anthony Avina's Blog
Stop by Anthony's Blog where you can read Fiona Ingram's post about why a book series is so good for non-readers.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

September 9th @ Anthony Avina's Blog
Make sure to check out Anthony's blog again where you can read his thoughts on Fiona Ingram's book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

September 10th @ Misadventures with Andi
Come by Andi's blog where you can read Fiona Ingram's post about why children love reading about other countries and cultures.
https://misadventureswithandi.com/

September 10th @ Whitman's Academics
Stop by Rebecca's blog where Fiona Ingram's talks about turning a non-reader into a reader.
https://whitmansacademics.wordpress.com/

September 12th@ Coffee with Lacey
Stop by Lacey's blog where she reviews Fiona Ingram's book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

September 13th @ Coffee With Lacey
Be sure to stop by again when Lacey interviews author Fiona Ingram and chats about her newest book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

September 14th @ World of My Imagination
Come by Nicole's blog where she shares her opinion about Fiona Ingram's middle grade fiction book The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.
http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

September 15th @ Story Teller Alley
Stop by Veronica's blog Story Teller Alley to read Fiona Ingram's post on how she came about to write the series The Chronicles of the Stone. 
http://storytelleralley.com/blog

*****BOOK GIVEAWAY*****

Enter the Rafflecopter form for a chance to win a print copy of The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper! The giveaway ends on August 19th at 12AM EST. We will announce the winner the next day on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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