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I AM

Published April 24, 2015 by Laura Crean Author

I’m so sorry you’re sad

She said sympathetically

Through an indifferent powder painted smile

Sad?

I whispered through a veil of misty emotion

Sad…is your goldfish dying unexpectedly overnight

Sad…is saying goodbye to a visiting friend

Who you won’t see for a while

Sad… is missing your favourite show on TV

Because you were late home

Sad…is not what I am…

What I am is almost impossible

To put into words…

I am…lost, starving and thirsty…

Stumbling around like a sheep lost in the wilderness…

Or in the desert

With no direction, no compass to guide me

And no cover from the unrelenting scorch of the burning sun

With no bread to satisfy my hunger

And no water to quench my thirst

I am…in despair

With no purpose – blind, invisible

Unloved and unlovable

Numb from the never-ending storms

That whips my already battered spirit

Into an unrecognizable rag

I am…torn

The leftover wrapping of that beautiful gift

That your mother gave you on your 16th birthday

All that’s left is a crumpled piece of gold and a blue bow

I am…lonely

A withered branch that can no longer produce sweet fruits

Brittle from lack of care

I am…misunderstood

Standing vulnerable in the line of fire on a battlefield

Exposed – a target for flaming arrows and hollow bullets

I am…tired

One who has been in the darkest of tunnels

Where hope has been an abandoned lover

Sitting on an empty, stationary train

Waiting for the lights to come back on

I am there now…on that train

Sitting in the dark

Too weary to get up and search for a way out

Silence roaring like a wind in my ears…

It’s so dark and so quiet that all I can hear is my own heart

Beating, fast, hard – fear creeps in and chains me to the seat…and then

A voice and a light, way off in the distance,

A pinprick at the end of the tunnel

And the voice grows louder

And the light grows brighter…

I…

AM…

I AM…

I AM that I am…

Forever, unchanging

I am the light of the world…

 I am the bright morning star – let me light your path

I am the way, the truth, the life – walk with me

I am the good shepherd – follow me

I am the door of the sheep – the way to freedom

I am the bread of life – eat and be satisfied

I am the living water – drink and quench your thirst

I am the root…

I am the true vine – with me you will become fruitful and multiply

I am your shield – I will protect and reward you

Take heart…

I am the resurrection and the life

I am the Lord your God – take my hand and do not be afraid

I am coming soon…

 

© Laura Crean 24th April 2015

Genesis 15:1,

Exodus 3:14,

Psalm 22 Psalm 23 Psalm 40, Psalm 69, Psalm 102 (he has heard and answered)

Isaiah 41:4 Isaiah 41:13

John 6:35, John 8:12,  John 8:24, John 8:58, John 10: 7-9, John 10: 11, 14, John 11:25,  26, John 15:1 -8

Revelations 1:8, Revelations 1:17, 18 Revelations 21:6, Revelations 22:13, Revelations 22:16

Inspired by – https://www.icr.org/article/500/

A quick commentary on “I AM”

It is a poem that builds on the theme of ‘I AM’ – I AM is what God calls himself “I AM that I am means he is forever and unchanging – eternally God. All of the I AM lines are taken directly from scripture and are in direct response to the needs and suffering of humanity (the I ams in the first half of the poem.) Also taken from scripture but then built on around my own depression and anxieties. The train represents the journey, the tunnel, the turning point. The moment God found me and told me who he is and how he can save me from my despair. The scriptures are scattered throughout the bible, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. They could be stand alone poems – yes – but they are very much both dependent on each other. The first half can be read as very much set in the now, in contemporary times, and many may relate to any or all of the themes of human suffering highlighted, the second half of the poem comes directly from the bible and so it shows that even with the time span and language difference, God is still answering our calls, they are the same human conditions wherever in time you care to read about them. In this way it confirms that God is as he says – the I AM – forever, unchanging, the beginning and the end, always alive, always working in people’s lives. That is what the poem represents.

 

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It’s Time for Spring – by Laura Crean – Day Two NaPoWriMo

Published April 2, 2015 by Laura Crean Author

It's time for springIf you would like to join in with this challenge, with me and other poets joining in the fun on goodreads – please do.  We’d love to see you.  You don’t have to post a poem every day just when the mood takes you – or just read what others have to offer – it’s all for fun and the love of poetry and rhyme.

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/160293-a-poem-a-day-for-april-2015

 

Eastbourne book fest – come and feed your imagination

Published May 23, 2014 by Laura Crean Author

Eastbourne book fest - come and feed your imagination

It is the start of the Children’s half term holiday, the sun is shining and they are looking forward to some fun in the sun. Maybe a trip to the seaside, picnics, ice-cream, rambling in the countryside? Children should be free to explore the world around them at times like these. They need to get out of those stuffy nurseries and schools, get off of those computers and consoles and stretch their legs and imaginations, play with other children and… be free to have fun!

When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than watching the holiday kids’ TV on a school holiday morning and then escaping out to the park with my bike and possibly a book and a picnic, play with my friends or sit under a tree and read – just let my imagination soar.

What better way this school holiday to combine all of that than to come to Eastbourne, enjoy the sun and the seaside and join in the book fest festivities. Whether you are 3 years old or 93, Eastbourne book fest has it all, poetry readings, fiction readings, workshops and story time in the park for the little ones. Dust off those reading glasses, dig out the sun cream and feed your imagination…

ebf_tall-tales

‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour

Published May 18, 2014 by Laura Crean Author

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It seems I have been invited to join in with a blog tour.  I have never been a part of anything like this, so I want to thank Jean Reinhardt for asking me to participate in the ‘My Writing Process Blog Tour’.  To see Jean’s answers to the blog tour questions and find out more about her work you can visit her blog by clicking on her name in this introduction.  Since I haven’t had the time to organise any Bookish Banter interviews recently I thought I would include this post in the Bookish Banter category.

Jean: What are you currently working on?

Laura: Well Jean, you know I’m always working on a million projects at once, that’s why it takes me so long to finish anything! Procrastination is my middle name.  If you check out my novels in progress section you will see that I have a few different novels in the making.  However, I am trying to concentrate on a Young Adult book called Atlantis and the Dolphin of Knowledge at the moment, as well as a children’s book about aliens landing in the school playground and a book about dreams.  I don’t know when my next book will be published but I’m in no hurry because I enjoy the writing process, it’s my hobby, I really do get lost in the story.  I’m also a bit of a perfectionist so it might be a while – watch this space…

Jean: How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Laura: That’s quite a question.  I think I actually find writing for a particular genre quite difficult.  I have an idea for a story and I just start writing, it may turn into a science-fiction story or a fantasy story or a mix of both.  My stories usually have some kind of spiritual component because I am quite a deep person, I’m on a journey just like any of my characters, like any writer actually and those deep burning questions that are in your heart just tend to come out in your writing.  I find writing for children and young adults easier because I think I’m really quite a simple person myself.  I don’t like to read, write or watch on television any violence or sex or anything too graphic.  I think that’s why my novels are perfect for young adults as well as the older generation.  Also my work with children over the years has naturally given me the love of story telling, and that even includes for toddlers.

Jane: Why do you write what you do?

Laura: I write whatever is in me to write and usually I have a feeling that I have something to share with others.  I might not be as ingenious as some writers, but I think I have a pretty vivid imagination.  I really am there in my story, viewing it unfold as if it were a real place and the characters were real people – like a day-dream I suppose.  I just try and write what I am envisioning.  It’s an addictive thing writing, once you are in the zone.  It is my little bit of escapism from the pressures of every day life, much like reading, only I’m writing down the story as it happens – or drawing it, with the kiddies’ books.  If I can sneak in a little of my own pearls of wisdom about life, the universe and everything – well, that’s an added bonus, I just hope it inspires someone at some point.  I write a lot of poetry too, and the process works just the same for poetry as it does for a short story or a novel – if you have something to say, write it however it needs to come out.  Why does anybody write?  Because we all have something to say!

Jean: How does your writing process work?

I am a really disorganised writer.  Sometimes I try to make a plan and other times I just start writing and then just see where it takes me.  I would say being an organised writer works better, since the only novel I have published so far, my first children’s novel The Realm of the Purple Dragon was meticulously well planned.  It had to be because the story was woven around the Norse runes and each one needed to come out at the right point in the story.  The reason the second book in the series The Fire Giants and the Heart of Ice is taking so long to be written, is because it needs more planning than the first story and I need to be in a very organised place in my life to be really focussed with the planning for the book.  It will be worth the wait, don’t worry about that!  So basically my writing process is all about writing when I am in the zone and really making the most of those moments of inspiration, because I think that is when my best writing happens.  Also not worrying about how other people think I should write, because a writer’s work comes from somewhere deep and personal and only you know where it is going.

I enjoyed that – thank you for the chance to chat about my writing Jean.  Here are some links for my work and of course you can explore my blogs as a lot of my writing comes in blog post form.  I will think very hard about which other authors I will invite to carry on this tour and post their tour posts here on the Bookish Banter when they hop on board the tour bus…

Links:

Laura’s Amazon Page

Lulu Profile

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

The Well in the Garden

 

Bookish Banter – Featured Author – L.K. Evans

Published March 22, 2014 by Laura Crean Author

Saturday 22nd March 2014

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Bookish Banter is proud to present today’s Featured Author…

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L.K. Evans

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Well last week, Bookish Banter fans, we had an awesome children’s Fantasy author tell us all the magical news about her children’s books.  This week we have an equally awesome author of the Fantasy genre, this time for the older reader. So without further ado let’s pop on over to the interview chair and meet L.K. Evans…

    Welcome L.K.  Please tell us where you are from?  Let me guess Fairy Land … just kidding…no really do you? 😉

Ha! Sadly, I did not come from any magical land. I was born and mostly raised in Arizona. When my parents went to college, we moved to Texas for a few years, but other than that and a very short stint in Arkansas, I’ve lived in my birth state. However, not for much longer. I’ve planned my escape and in four or so years I should be living under towering pines and listening to the ocean. If my luck holds, it’ll rain every day, too.

Ooh!  Well Arizona sounds magical to a plain old English girl like myself and your move sounds like the perfect place to write some more magical tales.

    How long have you been making magic with your writing?

Not long. I had drafted all four books of the Keepers of Arden series in a year (mid 2011-mid 2012—although, all were horrible and required rewrites), with no intent on letting another soul read it. It was my husband who encouraged me to think about actually publishing them. A few months passed before I worked up the courage to let another person read the first book in the series. Then it took many more months before I handed it over to an editor. After that, it happened way too fast. I was published in a few months after I’d made the changes the editor suggested. Besides Keepers of Arden, I have five other series in the wings and I’ve fiddled around with a few first chapters for 4 out of the 5. So basically, the majority of my writing has been over the last 3 years.

However, in high school I tested out of standard English classes, so I signed up for creative writing, which I took for the last two years of school. I wrote tons of stories during that time, but, sadly, I kept none of them. For several personal reasons, I was focused on obtaining a stable career and earning enough money to support myself (I had my own apartment when I was a senior in high school and worked full time). Because of my need for stability, being a writer never once crossed my mind. But after I obtained everything I sought, I realized how unhappy I was. So, I wrote, because I remembered being happy when I wrote. And that, over alllll those years, never changed. It’s hard work, but well worth the reward.

Wow!  You are incredibly productive with all of those books waiting in the wings to be launched out into the literary world.  Please come back and keep us updated with all your new releases.  I am sure you will have a huge fan following in no time at all.  It just goes to show how important it is for a writer to follow their dreams and share them with the world through their writings.

    Are you promoting a particular book at the present time?

Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 is the only book I have published at this time. Hopefully this year, the second book in the series will be available. It’s a monster of a book, though, so it’s taking some time to edit.

I don’t have a definite date yet, but within the next 2 months Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 will be available in print. I plan to run a nice little promotion on the ebook to celebrate so please keep on eye on my website for updates.

It all sounds very exciting.  I have to confess I prefer having a real live book, with paper pages to turn, in my hand but for all of you ebook junkies out there you can purchase Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 now.  Just click on the book to buy it now and it will soon be nicely nestled in your ereader and ready to go.

Image    What genre do you consider you write in – just fantasy or do you write other genres as well?

At this point, I’m only writing fantasy. It’s my home. I grew up here and I’ve loved it since I can remember. I had a horror stage, and in high school that’s mainly what I wrote, but over the years I’ve realized that epic/sword/sorcery books will always be my favourite. One day I might venture into a sci-fi with heavy fantasy elements, and perhaps way in the future I’ll try my hand in horror, but I’ve got too many books in the traditional fantasy setting that require a voice, or rather, words.

Well there is no end to the imagination and it is so great to hear that you love your craft and have an endless well of imaginative ideas to come.  This can only be fantastic news for your readers.

    Can you give us the magical details of your latest book?

Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 follows the story of Salvarias and Wilhelm Laybryth from childhood into adulthood. In the first book, we learn there is a very unpleasant “being” seeking Salvarias, though the brothers have no idea of it until later. Book 1 is more of a journey through their childhood, touching on key events in their lives. Salvarias will learn of his magic and many other gifts he possesses.

Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 2 will continue the story of Salvarias and Wilhelm and, unfortunately, the brothers’ journey will only get more difficult. The mysterious powers Salvarias possesses will be unleashed, and neither are pretty to witness. Wilhelm will learn his worth and recover a terrible memory. More secrets will be harboured and more yet will be revealed. By the end of book 2, the brother’s will be standing on the cusp of revelation. 

Ooh! (shivers) sounds delightfully dark and magically menacing.  The perfect fantasy story to curl up with in front of a warm fire on a cold night.  Can’t wait to read it.  

    Where did the idea come from?  Did a dark elf whisper it in your ear?

No dark elf, just the dark side of human nature.

There are many influences that helped me create the world and people of Arden. However, the strongest would be a book I read that made me want to pull out my hair. It had a set of brothers who never really got along, but deep down loved and cared for each other. I wanted them to have a closer relationship, so I said: Screw it! I’ll write my own story. Which is what prompted Keepers of Arden. As I wrote, my main thought was how judgemental we as humans seem to be. So I made a character in Salvarias, who people readily judged after one look. But there is much more to him than what he portrays.

Also, nothing scares me more than the human mind. We’re capable of such atrocious acts as well as deeply compassionate acts. For me, everyone makes a daily choice to be as good a person as they can. Basically, we have two sides and I thought to call it to light. Then I thought: What if that evil side was actually a presence alive inside you? How would you handle it? Better yet, what if you didn’t know it was evil? What if you thought it was helping you? Thus, Salvarias was born.

Oh how the psychological curiosity of a writer works – love it L.K.  It is so important for a writer to really step into the mind of their characters and explore the dark as well as the light of their motivations, loves, hopes and fears.  This can only lead to a much deeper understanding of the characters for the reader and ultimately a more thrilling read.  

    Did you have to do a lot of research for your latest work?  You know late nights in a magical clearing… or enchanted wood… 

I would have liked an enchanted forest. Since Keepers of Arden is, in my opinion, a character driven book, I didn’t do a lot of research. A tad bit, but nothing compared to what I’m doing for another series. There were some late nights where I just couldn’t stop writing, and some days where I stared at the computer waiting for it to do something. Furthermore, Arden is a land abandoned by the higher gods, so they’re just starting out. The lands are divided, but not at war. I consider them in a kind of shock; roaming around status quo, almost in denial of being abandoned. So to me, the world is rather simple, yet… I’ll just say unfinished.

The perfect story is the never ending kind, I say!

    Do you think your writing is improving with each enchanted addition to your fantasy library?

Absolutely! I see a huge difference between book 1 and book 2. I’m sure I’ll see another leap from book 2 to 3. And Keepers of Arden will be drastically different from my next series. What has and is helping me, is reading, reading, reading. It has dramatically improved my writing.

and it can only get better and better…

    Did you find yourself stuck in a dark fairy circle at any stage during the writing that held things up for a bit or did it flow freely?

If you’d asked me a year and a half ago, I would have said no, that writing comes easy to me. Now, yes I do. Going back to your last question, reading other works has taught me a lot and shown me several mistakes I made. I’m doing everything in my power to avoid them in book 2, which means writing is tougher than ever. I do have entire days where I type but nothing logical comes out of it. Other days, I seriously stare at the computer, read a few paragraphs I wrote the day prior, and I usually end the day feeling perturbed with myself. What I’ve found is that reading other books helps me move beyond those moments. After I read a good book, I sit down with mine and say: Oh, well that’s an easy fix.

It just goes to illustrate the importance for writers to keep up with their reading – they need to be able to manage their time to fit in everything that is important and there is nothing more important than reading!

    Why do you love this craft so much?  That’s the craft of writing by the way not magic and sorcery? 

But I do love myself a bit of magic!  🙂  Seriously though, for me that’s a deeply personal question. When I started writing, it was an outlet; a way to explore myself and what I’ve been through and where I want to go. Over the short period I’ve been doing it, my feelings have grown. Yes, it still is a way for me to make sense of everything, but it is also a way to reach out to others and hopefully inspire them, or make them see a character struggle with what they’ve been through and overcome it. I want my book to help someone, even just one person. Because several books have done that for me, and I know what a wonderful feeling it is and the hope that can be gained from words.

I think all fantasy writers have magic deeply engrained in their being – they must do or how else could it flow so freely from them in their writing?  I think you are incredibly inspiring and I’m sure many others will feel that also, just from how passionate you are about your writing – your world and character building reflects this.

    How much planning goes into a book?  Do you spend a long time planning or do you just start writing and see where it leads you?

I think this would vary by series. For Keepers, my process was write as I go. I had no idea where the book was heading until it was done. I think that process was important because I grew my characters with each experience. Heck, I grew with them. However, for one of my next series there will tons of planning. I want it to be as much about the characters as it is the world. Another series is still heavily character driven, but needs a bit of history built up… detailed history that I didn’t need for a book like Keepers. I’d need that mapped out so I don’t get lost.

Yes mind maps are just important as real ones – don’t want to get lost in a writer’s head!  LOL

    Do you have a crowd of magical beings who follow you and read every word and encourage you?

My mother and sister were first to read my book. We have a very small family, but both were extremely supportive. I’ve only been published for about 9 months and I’m slowly building my audience. I’ve got a few fans who mean the world to me. Hearing their praise can never get old. Since I’m in this business for the long haul, I’m not in a huge rush to build a massive fan base. I’m patient enough to let it grow organically over time. Without a traditional publisher, the marketing is left up to me. I’m fine with that, but I’m a rather shy person. It takes me a bit to reach out, so I understand my “magical beings” will come with time.

Absolutely, family is the most important first audience and soon you will have a whole new family of those “magical beings” dying to hang on your every word and spell binding chapter… 😉

    What is your experience of the Publishing industry?

I have no experience with traditional publishing (I didn’t submit my manuscript to any), but the indie/SPA is a terribly tough business. Extroverts might have a better run at it, but us introverts have an extreme challenge ahead of us. Regardless, writing is something that I love doing, which means I’m more than willing to put in the work needed. I have no illusions of being the next Patrick Rothfuss or Michael J Sullivan, but I have hopes that I can at least support my habit.

I am so with you on this one L.K.  I’m introverted too, a lot of writers are, but I  think the most important thing is, like you say, just to keep being creative for your own enjoyment and pick up those illusive “magical beings” along your own journey. 🙂

    Talking of journeys – this book is part of a magical and mysterious series?  Where is it going?

I’d say… well, mostly magical, with a little mystery. I’ve thrown enough clues into the first book that a person who studies it might be able to solve everything and know what’s going on. I lean more towards magical because Salvarias is a mage, a very powerful one. However, there’s not a lot of mages in Arden. They’re rare and treated rather poorly, not to mention there’s the Association of Mages, that sets some strict guidelines. If anything, I’d say this is a journey type book. It follows the brothers from birth to adulthood. Book 2-4 only spans a year or so, but I envisioned the reader following the brothers as they try to discover who they are and what role they play in the world.

    Have you had some good reviews for your book?

I’ve had some great reviews. A few 4 and 5 stars and a couple of 3 stars, but nothing lower… yet. I’m sure it’ll come. Not everyone loves every book. Keepers of Arden is a slower read, in my opinion, so those who seek action-packed books might not enjoy this. The lower stars have made comments about some of the events being convenient, which they completely appear to be, but there is a story why things unfold as they do. We just won’t understand until book 4. All the reviews praise my character development in Salvarias and have mentioned my descriptions are well done. Another liked my play on good vs. evil. Another loved the brothers’ relationship. All good things 🙂

Of course everyone gets different things from different books.  The slower build up just means this book is part of something much deeper to come…  If you would like to read some of L.K’s reviews follow this link to her website where there are plenty to choose from…  http://booksbylkevans.com/my-books/

    If you couldn’t be a writer what would you do instead?  And no! A magician’s apprentice is not an option!

Dang it! I’d love to be a mage! Oh well. I’d have to go with… dog day care owner. It’s what I was looking into doing before I wrote Keepers of Arden. I have two beautiful Siberian Huskies and I adore dogs (actually, pretty much all animals.  There’s a few insects I don’t much care for, but everything else is on my like list). So having a room full of dogs for an entire day wouldn’t be a bad thing.

LOL yeah my alter ego is a Silver Sorceress – a character from my book.  Doggy Day Care sounds awesome!  I’m a crazy cat lady myself! ;

    Your favourite Author is…

It changes frequently. Right now, it’s Patrick Rothfuss for both his writing and his humour outside his books. And I have to add two more: D.Z.C. and Zachary Jernigan. Both I find incredibly talented and I look up to them immensely.

For those of you with a curious nature and a thirst for new writing blood, follow these links for a look at L.K’s favourite authors for right now…

Patrick Rothfuss – http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-Rothfuss/e/B001DAHXZQ/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Zachary Jernigan – http://www.amazon.com/Zachary-Jernigan/e/B0055NDSHO/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1395490870&sr=1-2-ent

    Have you got a book trailer?

I don’t. I’ve thought about it, but then I decided against it. Maybe one day.

Absolutely, plenty of time.  Many authors say they are invaluable, others don’t think they help.  It’s just another promotional tool in your writing toolbox.

    What do you do to wind down?

Read or take my dogs for a walk. I’m finding reading is, as always, a wonderful escape from reality and the pressures of life. I’ve hidden away in pages of books since I was little, and when I emerge, I feel rejuvenated and stronger. I like to hang out with characters who are experiencing situations ten times more horrible than mine and maintain their hope and fight. It’s inspiring.

    Do you belong to a friendly writers group and does it help?

Sadly, I don’t. Since I started writing Keepers of Arden for myself, I never thought to join a group to obtain feedback. It’s definitely something I’ll be doing for my next series and I have a group I’ve been keeping my eye on for a year or so. I think having that group support would have been instrumental in helping me learn faster than I am, and I’m not about to make the same mistakes on the next series. So, hopefully, I can come back and visit you and provide a much better answer to this question.

Don’t forget you can find some great online groups and forums too, Facebook also has lots of groups.  I have a lovely fantasy group on Facebook that I keep an eye on and pop in and out of on occasion and also MARSocial has some great groups.  Here are those links if anyone would like to explore them.

MARSocial (Media Arts Review) – a dynamic social media network and a premiere on-line magazine for writers, authors, artists, and musicians. – http://marsocial.com/

Fantasy Writers on Facebook – a magical friendly bunch who really support each other – https://www.facebook.com/groups/235780430645/    

    What is you experience of editing and polishing your manuscripts?    

Oh… I hang my head in shame here. This was the biggest learning curve I’ve dealt with. I read that you had to get your work professionally edited. So, I forked out the money and I will never be able to thank my developmental editor enough. He broke me of so many bad habits and made my book readable. You’ll notice, however, that I said “developmental”. I had no idea there were so many types of editors. I also thought I could catch typos. I mean, I caught them in books I read, so surely I could catch them in my own work. Oh how wrong I was. I missed so many. I recently just republished it after sending it off to a proofreader. Best thing I could’ve done.

Lesson Learnt 😉

    Any tips for all our budding authors out there wondering how to get started?

Well, hire a professional proofreader for sure, and I’d highly recommend a copy editor and developmental editor. You really should have all three. I’d say there’s only a handful of authors that can edit their own work. You’re just to close to it. Secondly, read, read, read.

Yes I think every published author will agree with you there.  However I would say, don’t get too hung up on hiring expensive professionals to start with.  I would say that if you are eager to have as many people read your work as possible – go for it!  Ask friends, family and Beta readers to go through your manuscript, self publish if you want to see your work out there and are becoming too disillusioned with waiting around for that illusive ‘big break’.  Then when you can afford it, hire the professionals and publish newer editions of your work later on.  Of course that is just my personal opinion as a writer who is also a poor single parent with little money to fork out.  Some readers will see through the imperfections, some won’t, but a reader is a reader and reviews will always be varied and personal.  

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Here is a an Excerpt from Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1, so snuggle up in a cosy corner of your library and enjoy…

 

http://booksbylkevans.com/2014/03/

Thank you for joining us here on the ‘Bookish Banter’ L.K  and taking time out to give us such an interesting insight into your writing world.  

Last question…

 

    Link city – as many as you need to guide us round your internet trail of magic, mystery and mayhem…

My Website where I also post reviews of other fantasy books: http://booksbylkevans.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/booksbylkevans

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Bookish Banter – Featured Author – Jo Marshall

Published March 15, 2014 by Laura Crean Author

Saturday 15th March 2014

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Bookish Banter is proud to present today’s Featured Author…

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Jo Marshall

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Welcome Jo. Please tell us where you are from?  Let me guess Fairy Land … just kidding…no really do you?  😉

I live in Snohomish, Washington in the Pacific Northwest of the US.  I live on the edge of a valley, which is an old prehistoric lava flow, but now rural farmland.  Three enormous volcanoes surround Snohomish ~ Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, and Glacier Peak.  An old growth forest is my backyard and a deep, slow-moving river winds through the valley.

So you do live in Fairyland!  It actually sounds like a really magical place to live.

      How long have you been making magic with your writing?

Twig fantasies sprouted about three years ago when my young daughter and I first spotted tiny, stick creatures living in the giant western red cedars in our back yard.  Since then we discovered Twigs live in roots, moss, and ferns.  More live in the wide valley below our hill.  Eventually we realized these fascinating and elusive creatures probably live in forests and grasslands all over the world. Have you seen any?

I knew it!  Well I haven’t seen any Twigs, although they sound like delightful little creatures, but my daughter did say she saw a fairy once when she was coming home from swimming, in our local park.  So I guess you have to have a keen eye for the magic folk!

   Are you promoting a particular book at the present time?

I’m always promoting the first three books in the Twig Stories collection:  Leaf & the Rushing Waters, Leaf & the Sky of Fire, and Leaf & the Long Ice.  The fourth book Leaf & Echo Peak’s release will be celebrated later this year.  I also share the books’ royalties with conservation nonprofits, so I promote their good efforts, too, whenever possible.

It is so lovely to hear that you promote conservation Jo – and it is never too early to get children involved with respecting and conserving the environment.  To buy these delightful books, just click on their pictures below.

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Image      What genre do you consider you write in – just children’s fantasy or do you write other genres as well?

The Twig Stories’ genre is actually eco-literature, children’s fantasy. It just means the fantasies are set in nature with a conservationist theme. My daughter and I want to tell children about the climate change impacts in our region like insect swarms, wildfires, floods, threatened ecosystems, and endangered species. Presently, children’s fiction is the only genre I can manage; probably because it’s the limit of my vocabulary.

    Can you give us the magical details of your latest book?

That would be Leaf & the Long Ice. This story is located on the shrinking glacier of a massive volcano called Echo Peak. Leaf’s younger, twin brothers, Buddy and Burba, run away to play in the glacier’s snow before it all melts.  After frightening encounters with rare beasts of the Long Ice, the twin buds are lost in a maze of blue tunnels.  Leaf must seek help to find them.  Mantru, a cranky old hermit who lives in a cave, and his little pika friend, Winkers, reluctantly join the search.

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   Where did the idea come from?  Did a magical imp whisper it in your ear?

Twigs worry all the time about many different climate change impacts occurring in the Pacific Northwest.  Shrinking glaciers are only one of the most obvious, so it was natural Leaf should have an adventure there.  Leaf & the Long Ice may help bring attention to the resulting loss of fresh water in this region, too.      

Did you have to do a lot of research for your latest work?  You know late nights in a magical clearing… or enchanted wood…

 Actually, I did research glaciers and the endangered animals inhabiting their alpine regions like the critically threatened woodland caribou, wolverines, and pikas. I also had generous guidance from well-known, expert glaciologists in Canada, Dr. Gwen Flowers and Dr. Sarah Boon. When I asked for their opinions, they actually offered to edit the manuscript and provide their invaluable, first-hand observations from their exploration of glaciers.  I was very grateful, and incorporated all their suggestions into the story.

 Do you think your writing is improving with each enchanted addition to your fantasy library?

I would have to say yes and no.  Yes, in that it’s easier to actually write the action and follow the formula of a three day, frantic adventure driven by climate change events.  No, in that the more complex the research becomes the more calculated my writing; although somehow Long Ice’ actually turned out to be more fun for the readers   

Did you find yourself stuck in the mud at any stage during the writing that held things up for a bit or did it flow freely?

 I often need to rewrite a scene based on the actual facts of species behaviour, description, or what threatens it in nature.  Sometimes I get carried away by the fantasy, and it simply doesn’t tally with the real world even in Twig land.  The books are popular because there is this nice blend of Twig fantasy and scientific fact working together, so I must be faithful to the readers’ expectations of a nature.

Why do you love this craft so much?  That’s the craft of writing by the way not fairy magic?

 Oh, dear, I’m not sure I love writing.  What’s the old saying, “I hate writing, but love having written”? But it’s the desire to tell the story which drives us, eh? We have this story we must get out of our heads and hearts, and for now, writing to purge ourselves of it seems to be the most enduring and satisfying technique to use.

How much planning goes into a book?  Do you spend a long time planning or do you just start writing and see where it leads you?

 I’m an obsessive planner and outliner.  First I outline the entire book, then each chapter, then each scene, and even detail each illustration before I can write the story. Then after I write the story, I actually write it.  Then I write it again, and again, and again.  Once I’m satisfied with that part, I offer my manuscript to research professors, conservation nonprofit naturalists, biologists, educators, and any other person willing to read it.  After I receive their guidance, I write it again

Do you have a crowd of forest folk followers who read every word and encourage you?

 I’m amazed the books have been welcomed worldwide by thousands of readers, children and adults.  I’m grateful for each Twig fan that liked even one book, not to mention those who have read and liked all three, and even anticipate the fourth!  Compliments for Twig Stories from readers still startle me.  I want to whisper, “Really?”  Yet, even if there were only two fans, those are the ones whose expectations I hope to meet with each Twig story.

What is your experience of the Publishing industry?

 Did you say opinion or experience?  Oh, of course, my experience.   Traditional publishing moves far too slowly for today’s audience.  That’s why indie publishing has taken off like wildfire.  Being an indie is exciting; very much like being a producer. You get to make all the decisions and call all the shots.  It’s truly your book when at last it’s available to the reader, and that’s a very satisfying feeling.  No one forced an illustrator on you, or revised it for mass consumption, or chose a weird marketing scheme.  For better or worse, it’s all yours

Is this book a part of a delightful series?  Where is it going?

Twig Stories books are a collection of four stories each about the exploits of one particular Twig. The first four books are told from the perspective of a young, Old Seeder Branch Twig named Leaf.  The next set is told from his sister Fern’s viewpoint, and the next from Leaf’s younger twin brothers, Buddy and Burba. Each collection is placed in different regions of the western US.  The climate changes impacting those regions drive the Twigs’ journeys.

Have you had some good reviews for your book?

Yes, thank goodness, or I probably would have given up by now.  It’s hard work!

If you couldn’t be a writer what would you do instead?  And no! A tree Nymph is not an option!

I’d like to do what I did up until a few years ago ~ assist attorneys in nonprofits with civil litigation.  It would be great to team with other nonprofits, and do battle for wildlife and forestry issues.  Legal action taken on behalf of conservation can be extremely effective and rewarding.

 Your favourite Author is…

Besides children’s authors like A.A. Milne and Mary Norton, I love reading David Quammen’s bestsellers. He writes about complex global biodiversity, or ‘biogeography’, and dire climate change events.  I love his writing style. It’s full of humour.  He speaks to you from the pages of his books like a favourite professor might, sitting on your couch in old, worn slippers and explaining the science behind his conclusions as if you actually understood.  He wrote The Song of the Dodo, The Flight of the Iguana, and most recently Spillover.

Have you got a book trailer? 

Not yet!

 What do you do to wind down?

I work Norman Rockwell puzzles and listen to big band era music.

Do you belong to a friendly writers group and does it help? 

I enjoy a huge amount of support from online groups in Facebook, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, but I’m not a fan of face-to-face discussion groups.  Obviously, I don’t get out much.

I know how you feel – but online groups can be very helpful I have found!

What is you experience of editing and polishing your manuscripts?

I ask kids to read and edit the manuscripts. They get a big kick out of writing all over the text; mostly, happy faces or LOL or sad faces or sometimes ????.  Their reaction is a tremendous amount of help. Researchers, teachers, and professors have edited the manuscripts and provided surprising endorsements, too.  I’d get a lot wrong without their help.  Other than that, I find reading the manuscript backwards helps catch grammatical errors and inconsistencies.  Of course, I meant reading the last chapter first and so on, not literally reading it backwards word for word.

Now that would be impressive!  I love the idea about having the children read and write on the manuscript.  That sounds like a very clever idea!

Any tips for all our budding authors out there wondering how to get started?

Use Preditors & Editors religiously and do Google searches on every agent, publisher, and anyone else asking you for your manuscript or your money.  I even found fake literary agents on LinkedIn looking to get your manuscript for free so they can sell it.  There are many, many people who will take advantage of the naivety of indie authors.  Don’t let them!

I use Createspace for indie publishing. They are owned by Amazon.com and are the most reputable out there as far as I’m concerned.  They’ll set up your paperbacks and kindles for you to sell worldwide.  They also have excellent design and marketing support teams.  I’ve never been disappointed with their quick and professional assistance.

Link city – as many as you need to guide us round your internet trail of friendly forest fun…

Twig Stories website:                     http://www.twigstories.com

20% discounts are available via the Twig Stories website E-Store

Amazon.com Author page:          http://www.amazon.com/author/jo.marshall  

Facebook book/fan page:            http://facebook.com/twigstoriesbooks

Facebook author page:                                 http://facebook.com/twigstories

LinkedIn:                                             http://goo.gl/Q5qvre

Let’s Tweet:                                       https://twitter.com/twigstories

or Pin!                                                http://www.pinterest.com/twigstories

 Amazon.com paperback & ebooks are available via Amazon.com worldwide

KINDLES

Leaf & the Rushing Waters  ~ http://goo.gl/3CWhaA

Leaf & the Sky of Fire     ~ http://goo.gl/xaB0zH

Leaf & the Long Ice         ~  http://goo.gl/CahThv

PAPERBACKS

Leaf & the Rushing Waters ~ http://goo.gl/eUN893

Leaf & the Sky of Fire     ~ http://goo.gl/oGecbJ

Leaf & the Long Ice         ~ http://goo.gl/uZB9cA

SCRIBD EXCERPTS

SCRIBd.com book excerpt for Leaf & the Rushing Waters:  http://goo.gl/vynJYQ

SCRIBd.com book excerpt for Leaf & the Sky of Fire:  http://goo.gl/waEZFN

SCRIBD.com book excerpt for Leaf & the Long Ice: http://goo.gl/xiu8DS

Thank you for joining us here on the ‘Bookish Banter’ and taking time out to give us such an interesting insight into your writing world.

Xx Laura Crean xX

It’s my pleasure, Laura! Thank you!

LI_8 Flip & the Squeakers

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