Jack Perconte

Jack Perconte has played major league baseball, taught kids for 19 years and dealt with parent/kid relationships for those years (including raising his own kids). He joins us today to talk about his latest book, Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport.

Shelagh: Please tell everyone a bit about yourself, Jack.

Jack: I played major league baseball before becoming a full time baseball and softball instructor. Through my sports academy, I was around youth sports day in and day out for 19 years. I have helped numerous athletes further their skills and I like to believe that I was teaching life skills at the same time. I have written two books: Raising an Athlete: How to Instill Confidence, Build Skills and Inspire a Love of Sport and The Making of a Hitter: A Proven and Practical Step-by-Step Baseball Guide

Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Jack: Always had the desire to write a book but never had the time until selling my sports academy. I love writing about sports issues with the objective to help youth have great sporting experiences. I began writing 3 years ago and haven’t stopped since.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Jack: Most people agree that sports should be about kids having fun. Unfortunately, too often that is not the case. The best way to help kids is through the education of adults. By advising parents through my writing, I believe it will help kids and parents to enjoy sports. Additionally, playing athletics provide parents with numerous opportunities to teach life lessons to their kids, so I try to help them look for and teach those life lessons.
4. Briefly tell us about your latest book. In Raising an Athlete, I combine my playing, coaching and parenting experiences into an informative, fun-filled guide. I give parents and coaches concrete ways to deal with all the issues they and their kids will encounter in youth sports.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Jack: Most parents are ill-prepared for the challenges of youth sports – issues like bad coaches, unmotivated sons and daughters, kids not having fun, kids who lack confidence, parents “pushing” kids too hard, athletic burnout, and on and on – I help them find solutions for these issues and ways to keep sports “in perspective.”

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?

Jack: Characters are based on athletes that I played with or against, coaches that I have played under or worked with and parents that I have dealt with in my many years around youth sports. Additionally, many stories were based on incidents that I or my kids encountered in our playing careers. The sites are the athletic playing fields of America, so to speak.

Shelagh: These issues have always been around, why does it seem like the negative athletic situations are getting more prominent?

Jack: First of all, more kids are playing sports than ever, due largely in part to the growth of female athletes over the last 20 years. Secondly, fewer scholarships are available and the pressure to get them is enormous. Of course, these economic times have even added to that pressure to obtain an athletic scholarship. Finally, the enormous growth of travel teams over the last few years have brought more intensity and pressure to youth sports, too. Put all these situations together, along with the information age we are in, and it feels like these negative sports stories are overwhelming.

Shelagh: Why write this book?

Jack: I felt that through my unique experiences that I could offer a practical expertise that people will relate to and learn from. Unless parents become better prepared for these challenges, many youth will continue to have disappointing athletic experiences that negatively affect their lives.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Jack: One reviewer (Bruce Wasser) wrote on Amazon.com the following –
“Raising an Athlete,” a book that every parent and coach should read, re-read and read again. Suffused with a love of athletics and a respect for the importance of the lessons to be gained from involvement in sports, Perconte’s writing gently, wisely and persuasively presents a framework though which adults can maximize their child’s growth — as an athlete and as a person — through athletics.”

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Jack: I am writing an E-book about my major league playing days that will be filled with humorous, real life stories in order to give readers a glimpse of the major league baseball life. Also, I am producing a comprehensive “how to play baseball on-line class. I continue to write for a number of blogs on parenting and baseball.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Jack: My blogs, websites and distributor   http://positiveparentinginsports.com
http://baseballhittinglessons.com/baseball
http://themakingofahitter.com
http://www.ipgbook.com

Shelagh: Thank you for joining us today, Jack.

Jack: Thanks, I appreciate your interest and questions.

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Nanette Rayman Rivera

Nanette Rayman Rivera is the author of the new memoir, to live on the wind, published by Scattered Light Publications. She is the author of two poetry books: shana linda ~ pretty pretty, published by Scattered Light Publications and Project: Butterflies published by Foothills Publishing. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the first winner of the Glass Woman Prize. Her work is included in DZANC’s Best of the Web Anthology 2010 and Best of the Net 2007. She has been published in numerous literary journals including The Berkeley Fiction Review, The Worcester Review, Oranges & Sardines, Dragonfire, Carve Magazine, Gold Wake Press, Carte Blanche, Slant, Dirty Napkin, Wilderness House Literary Review, Wheelhouse, The Sugar House Review, Unmoveable Feast, Up the Staircase, MiPOesias, and Stirring’s Steamiest Six.

Shelagh: Please tell us a little about yourself, Nanette.

Nanette: I studied at The New School University, and studied theatre at Circle in the Square, The New England Shakespeare Festival and with the late Peter Thompson at Michael Howard Studios. I played Rhonda in the award winning New York University student film: Stephan’s Silver Bell and a waitress on All My Children. I have performed in off-off Broadway theatre and black box Boston theatres. I was a runner-up in Miss Massachusetts.

Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Nanette: I started writing little plays when I was very young. My brother was forced to play the guy who had to walk the plank, which was the red corduroy couch in the basement. At first all my plays had a guy walking the plank and then I started writing plays about a woman’s prison that was really my house in suburbia.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Nanette: My new memoir, to live on the wind, as far as I can tell, will be a stand-alone book. Of course, if my life changes dramatically, I could write another memoir. I also withheld a part of my life because the book could have ended up being 600 pages instead of 461 pages. Another reason for not including everything in a memoir is so the story of a life doesn’t get weighted down and the arc can be seen by the reader. If you add too many elements or disasters, even in a memoir, it can alter perception or make the reader lose focus on the underlying theme. My book, to live on the wind, shows that a life can be mostly out of the control of the person living that life. This, of course, goes against all Western thinking, which is that free will and determination equal success. My book shows that this is not always the case and there is a real difference between someone who does all the wrong things and ends up badly and someone who does mostly the right thing and ends up in the same bad place.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Nanette: I would say the “hook” for the book is a personal, tell-it-plain, name names account of the New York City homeless system. There are many other themes in the book, but I don’t want to give it all away~

Shelagh: Who is the most unusual/most likeable character?

Nanette: I think there are only two likeable characters in the plot. But if tell, the surprise is ruined. One of the characters is a very minor character, but a person most people will recognize. The other character is also secret until you read the book, but not someone anyone would know.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Nanette: In this book, the technique to maintain the plot is actually one of the secret characters. As far as my environment and upbringing, those two things meld into my writing style, which I think is poetic and dirty-gritty at once. My upbringing was upper middle class, but completely in the hands of my sociopath mother. So I knew of the “nicer” things in life, how to behave, how to think for myself and to have manners, but she made me angry and depressed. At that time kids didn’t know that you could call the cops or social services on your own mother. Today I don’t live in a nice place, but it’s still better than being around her. I wouldn’t wish either environment on anyone, well…maybe some people…I don’t know if it works, but I like the mixture of poetry and grit in my writing.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Nanette: One of my favorite reviews is for my poetry book: shana linda ~ pretty pretty, also published by Scattered Light Publications. This review is from the lovely author, Martha Engber:

I read poetry in the way I view modern art, not with a mind full of rules established by The Poetry Elite, but rather for an eye toward what moves me. Even if I don’t understand the meaning of the poem, I consider it a marvelous success if the words leave me with a unique twist on the world: an image, impression or emotion so strong I can almost taste it.

Such is the case with the poems of Nanette Rayman Rivera in shana linda ~ pretty pretty. Throughout the 31 poems there drifted the scent of flowers, though not in a pretty, wallpaper or commercial bouquet way. Rather, the feel was of wildflowers growing in impossible places: the cracks in sidewalks, the perimeter of warehouses, the beaches of the tourist trade.

This despite the fact Ms. Rivera’s poetry covers the major obstacles in her life; trauma that is, unfortunately, too common and too commonly portrayed in clichéd ways. She writes about an emotionally-distant mother and of being raped and falling into homelessness.

Normally those subjects deter me, not because I’m unsympathetic, but because for many poets and writers, especially those newer to the craft, such crises take precedent over the art of the words. The telling too often takes on a bitter, pitying cast filled with common sensory descriptions, such as the smell of urine and the grime of clothes and the cold stares of passers-by.

Ms. Rivera don’t sink into that mundane, self-indulgent realm. Instead, the words and phrases touch the ground lightly, then leap away, the joy of living always present. Even when devastation looms, the joy — the play and sound and rhythm of the words — shines through a unique prism:

(From I saw him)

around the crook of the cape
thousands of Iceland Poppies, pistil
whipping, fizzing
the brewing water
with bubbly calyx, some matrix
ceremony for the ogler

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Nanette: I just finished writing to live on the wind, so now I’m taking a couple weeks off from writing. I think my next project will be fiction, perhaps historical fiction, something completely different from my current book. I might go back and write poetry for a little while to get my creativity flowing again.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Nanette: All of my books are listed on the website: Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com

and on Scattered Light Publications website:
http://scatteredlightpublications.books

and on my blogs:
http://toliveonthewind.blogspot.com
http://confectionerybelle.blogspot.com

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Erin O’Briant

Today’s guest is Erin O’Briant, author of Glitter Girl.

Shelagh: Please tell us a little about yourself, Erin.

Erin: I’m a San Francisco Bay Area writer and the author of the novel Glitter Girl. I’m a former glitter spray salesgirl turned college writing instructor; I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College as well as a bachelor’s in Religion from Emory University.

Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite and in what genre?

Erin: I first started writing when I was a senior in college, when it occurred to me that I’d need to get a job soon but my religion major had left me with few practical skills. I heard that writers got to work from home sometimes, and that was good enough for me. I apprenticed myself to a local weekly magazine, and was there bitten by the bug. I was a journalist for about 10 years, and I got involved in spoken word in Atlanta and then later in San Francisco; I ran a show called Oral Fixation for a while in SF. Eventually it became clear that I needed to move into writing fiction, but I didn’t know how, so I went to grad school.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish?

Erin: When I started writing Glitter Girl, my goals were nearly nonexistent, but I wanted to be a better writer. I had been doing spoken word readings for a while, and had written up a short piece about my miserable four months selling glitter spray. Then when I started my MFA, I began to develop the main character (later Gloria) into someone other than me and made up a story for her and her family. I’ve noticed that people seem to take “messages” from Glitter Girl, but that actually wasn’t my intention. Still, the book deals with big political issues – abortion and gay rights, in particular – and I hope it makes readers think about the ways we ostracize each other, often in the name of our own political or religious cause.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book.

Erin: Glitter Girl is about a family that splintered because one daughter converted to Christianity – the conservative kind. The other daughter, Gloria, is a happily out lesbian and glitter spray salesgirl who sets out to make up with her sister. Easier said than done.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and settings?

Erin: Since this was my first book, I went with “write what you know.” The things that happen in the novel are completely made up, but I set it mostly in familiar locations – Atlanta and San Francisco, both cities I’ve lived in for years at different times – and gave the characters situations that I could relate to. I sold glitter spray for a while, I studied religion in college, I’m gay, I’ve been part of the San Francisco writers’ scene – so all those things were easy for me to imagine and then develop scenes and characters from there. Also, I once worked for an LGBT newspaper in Atlanta where I was on the “church lady” beat: I wrote a lot of articles about Christian views of gay rights, and that gave me really useful material. Gloria and I probably have the most in common, though I’m not a liar, like she is. But how can you believe anyone who says that, right?

Shelagh: Who’s the most unusual/most likeable character?

Erin: I think the most likeable character might be Gloria’s best friend, Max, who falls in love during the course of the novel with a guy he meets in Atlanta. He’s a painfully honest New Yorker and a deeply loyal friend: a good guy with bodacious vocabulary. If I met him, I’d love him.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Erin: I had to send in 30 pages every three weeks to avoid being kicked out of school. So I just made up the plot as I went along, thinking: what could I write that would take up 30 pages? My dear friend Carolyn and I would sit up late, drinking beer and plotting schemes for the characters. And then I did a lot of plot revision afterwards to pull it all together. Mainly, though, my technique was to just keep writing. Also, I was in an awesome and encouraging writing group, which every writer needs.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

Erin: I try to keep my writing simple. My grad school mentor, Rebecca Brown, has a beautifully streamlined style, and I tried to learn as much as I could from her. She taught me about taking out the unnecessary words so the meaning can shine. I also use humor, because I like to read funny books, especially when the humor is part of the story and doesn’t distract from the plot. In Glitter Girl, I write from two POV’s: Gloria’s and Angie’s. I don’t prefer one over the other, but Gloria’s POV was easier for me.

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Erin: Currently I’m writing a second novel, which in a nebulous state and hard to talk about yet. It’s tentatively titled Reading Orlando. The novel is something of a homage to Virginia Woolf, and the three main characters are all survivors of childhood abuse, who heal together while reading Orlando. This one has no autobiographical elements so far, though it is set in Georgia, where I grew up. (It helps to know your location.) So it’s a big challenge and will certainly stretch my imagination, but I’m up for it. Now that I’ve written one novel, I know I can do it again.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Erin: My book, Glitter Girl, is easy to find, and it’s free! Just visit
http://www.podiobooks.com/title/glitter-girl/. You can listen through iTunes or sign up to get episodes by email. The final episode will be published on Sunday, January 3, 2010. If you enjoy listening, please leave a comment – it makes my day.

My website: http://www.erinobriant.com/

Shelagh: Thank you for joining us today, Erin.

Erin: Thanks Shelagh! I’m truly grateful.

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E. Don Harpe

E. Don Harpe, formerly of Nashville, now of Georgia, is a songwriter, poet and novelist. Now retired, Don devotes his time to his family and his writing.

Shelagh: Tell us a little about yourself, Don.

Don: I’m from a small town in Middle Tennessee, spent my teenage years in the fifties, my crazy years in the sixties, and thought I’d settled down in the seventies. The eighties and nineties proved that to be a wrong conception, and now here it is the two thousands, and I’m busier than ever. All through that period I played a lot of country music in little honky tonks and while I don’t do it any longer, I still miss the rush that walking out on a stage used to give me. After high school I took some classes at a couple of schools but never got a degree. I spent the majority of my working career in mid-management, and was an industrial engineer for a major appliance firm for a long time. Spent the latter part of my career as a manager in a call center, where we did over the phone trouble shooting on computers, and I also managed a Yahoo billing account. Retired in 2004 after the center sent all of the jobs overseas and closed down. I’m a published and recorded songwriter, I’ve written several books, and I have a story in a science fiction ebook that won the Eppy a couple of years ago. I played sports all of my life, pretty much anything that involved a ball, and once aspired to be a professional bowler. Spend my time these days working on a lot of new novels and screenplays.

Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Don: I started writing poems and short stories while still in grade school, and did even more while in high school. I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing something. I pitched my first song in Nashville about 1960, and started working on my novels in the mid 80’s. I don’t write in any one genre, preferring to extend my scope so that I remain interested in whatever current project I’m working on.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Don: When I started writing I was concentrating on my songs, and my only goal at the time was to get a song published and recorded, which I managed to do several times over the years. My goal now, with my novels, is to continue to gain name recognition so that at some point in time a major publisher will decide I’m good enough to be in bookstores worldwide. I seldom think about a message for my readers. I just want them to be entertained enough that they’ll take a look at what I write next.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Don: The newest book is called Sundown Two, and it’s based on the events that may or may not happen in December of 2012. It takes disaster books to a new level, and while it’s meant to be a stand alone novel, there is enough background for a sequel if there becomes a market for it. I co-authored this book with Phil Whitley, and it was a very satisfying experience.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Don: They say the Mayan Calendar, which is a few thousand years old, ends on December 21, 2012, and also that Nostradamus made no predictions past that date. Once our research began we learned that there will be a cosmic alignment of the planets about that time, which is a rare event itself. There is a lot of interest worldwide in that date, as well as a lot of speculation. We gave it our own twist, and believe me, the book is a thrill ride from cover to cover.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?

Don: A long time ago I read that we write better if we write about stuff we know, and that’s what I try to do. I usually set most of my work in the South, because that’s the area of the country that I know best, and I use southern characters, for the most part, as my leads. I try to give my characters a lot of common sense, and as I really don’t like it when characters in books or movies do something that is really dumb, I try not to let mine do those things. If you’re alone in a cabin in the woods at midnight and you hear something prowling around outside, don’t go out with a stick and try to make it go away. That’s dumb. I won’t let my guys do things like that. I do a ton of backstory on my lead characters. I know their birthdays, their parents names, their brothers and sisters, their religion, what they like to eat, how tall they are and how much they weigh, and what bad habits they have. Most of the backstory doesn’t get into the actual book, but I always know what my guys are going to do in a given situation.

Shelagh: Who is the most unusual/most likeable character?

Don: Micajah Harpe, no doubt about it. He’s not in the Sundown book, but once you become involved with Kiga, you will never forget him. He’s not all that likeable, just unforgettable.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Don: Yeah. I’m a firm believer in outline, outline, outline. I write outlines of all of my chapters, plotting as much of the main storyline as I can. Some believe they can’t be creative if they use an outline. I believe that if I am creative while writing the outline, it will lead to a much more creative book. Some say they like to be spontaneous, I say that most of the time their books wander around a lot, get off and on the storyline, and can lose the attention of some readers. I want to know where my book begins, what’s going on in the middle, and where it ends. The stuff in between gives me plenty of room to be creative, and that means that it’s also quite spontaneous.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Don: I don’t really have a preferred POV, although most of my stuff is in third person. I find it’s easier to move from character to character that way. My writing style is just me, just the way I write. I’ve been writing a long time, and most seem to think I use the storyteller style. Maybe I do, I don’t know. I do know that a lot of people say I make it easy for them to read, easy to follow, and hard to put down, so I guess whatever my style is, it’s working.

Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Don: Pretty much in every way that it can color it. I was dirt poor as a kid, never got all the education I needed, worked my butt off all my life, and my writing reflects that. Don’t expect to see me writing about an advertising firm in New York, or a law firm in Los Angeles, because I’m not going to do that. I don’t know anything about that life, I don’t write about it. My characters are common people, my places are real world settings that common people live and work in, and I’m comfortable with that. You won’t find me writing about what a bunch of yuppy, upwardly mobile, just graduated from college kids are doing, cause I don’t know. By the way, I don’t really care either.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Don: Here’s a portion of a review I received from Eugen M. Bacon, a very talented author and reviewer, on born wolf Die Wolf, the first book that was published.
One heck of a bloody history…, July 14, 2006
A poignant dedication sets the scene for re-visiting history in a Wiley and Micajah Harpe close-up. The novel unveils a different perspective on two of the most feral killers in American history. Victims come to know the savagery of unholy Harpe fire when the blood thirst of the Wolf is awakened. Tory or colony: it doesn’t matter any more. There is one heritage to protect. The stirrings of unrest grow to one giant rampage as Harpes begin fighting their own battles, and theirs is a razor-sharp rage.

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Don: I always work on multiple projects, using the theory that if I get tired of writing on one of them, I can change to another and never lose interest or run out of ideas. I’ve never had writer’s block, don’t even know if I know what that is. Currently I’m working on a handful of short stories, I’m about three quarters of the way through writing Neon Rainbow, the story of a fading country music superstar that has made a deal that helped him gain that stardom, and now finds he isn’t quite ready to pay the piper. I’m about half way through a novel called Tears of  God, which is high action as two angels, one of God, one of Satan, use our world as their fighting ground over a handful of crystal Tears of God, tears which contain a portion of God’s own power, and have the capability to destroy creation if my guy can’t stop the angels, recover the Tears, and get them to a place where neither God nor Satan can ever get their hands on them. I’ve also just finished compiling all of my Amazon Shorts into collections, and made them available for Kindle readers.

You can find out more about me and all of my books and short stories by visiting http://www.donharpe.com

Shelagh: Thank you for joining us today, Don.

Don: Thanks.

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Marilyn Jenkins

Today’s guest, poet and fiction writer Marilyn Jenkins, is a member of the Welsh Academy. Marilyn’s work has been published in magazines such as: The Anglo Welsh Review, The New Welsh Review, Paris Atlantic, Envoi and prize-winning anthologies.

Shelagh: Hi Marilyn, please tell us a little about yourself.

Marilyn: I was raised in post-war Wales, one of a privileged generation: NHS; free grammar school education; university grants. I went through to university. I taught and lectured in English and carried on after marriage and children. Later, I travelled widely because of my husband’s (academic) career. I’m grateful because I experienced other cultures. This, together with my Welsh background, has greatly influenced my writing.

Shelagh: When did you first begin to write and in what genre(s)?

Marilyn: I was always hooked on words. A good book to read is an essential for me. Because story, fiction, was the big draw; from primary school days I wanted to write my own. I remember sitting on the back steps at home trying to work out a knotty problem of how to get my characters out of an impossible fix in The Mystery of the Moated Grange (thanks for the inspiration Enid Blyton).  While the novel was my first love, – fiction with a dark mystery underlying it – I also had a poetry reading bug.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish?

Marilyn: It took some time before I could imagine myself as a ‘writer’. I stepped out of teaching for a while when I had small children and that’s when I began to draft novels. I say novels because my life is littered with unfinished novels. Completing one and getting it published was my secret goal.  Poems, short stories were less challenging to complete in a peripatetic existence. The way life panned out meant I was having these published long before my novel finally appeared. But the novel was the big thing.

Shelagh: Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Marilyn: I don’t have a message, as such, in anything I write. I think it was Alice (Lewis Carroll’s) who said: “How do I know what I mean till I see what I’ve said.” Working in longer fiction has told me quite a lot about myself, in fact.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book.

Marilyn: My novel, The Legacy of Alice Waters, finally appeared this year (2009). It is, as expected, fiction with a dark mystery: a whydunnit rather than a whodunnit.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Marilyn: Poisoners are not easy to like or understand – how different is Alice Waters?

Shelagh:. How do you develop characters and settings?

Marilyn: My characters develop in relation to the settings. I place a character in a situation and then probe the way in which removing them from their comfort (or discomfort zone) affects what happens. Each change becomes a test. Alice moves from her unhappy home in Wales to find love in wartime London. A return to post war Wales brings disaster. This is also true of her best friend Emily who comes home to die and who led an extraordinary life as a lawyer.

Shelagh: Do you have a favourite character?

Marilyn: I admire the character of Emily: a lesbian who hid from Alice that she was the love of her life. She is an intelligent woman who faces death with courage and finally carries out Alice’s last request: to tell her ‘lost’ daughter the truth.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

Marilyn: Writing my second novel has shown me how ingrained my method is: I don’t tell the story through a single point of view. In my first, there are 2 primary third person POVs told in discrete sections: Emily’s and Madeleine’s (Maddie, Alice’s daughter).  Alice’s story is told in first person through her journals and her granddaughter, Daisy (Dessie), keeps a first person account when she visits Wales with her mother in pursuit of the truth.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Marilyn: I start with a character and what happened to him/her. That gives me the skeleton. I don’t work particularly economically. I throw away a great deal but by the time of the final draft, I pretty much know who I’m dealing with and how it ends up. I know my characters – their strengths and weaknesses and, most of all, what they want.

Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Marilyn: My core environment is Wales. Like so many of my generation I left Wales to pursue a career. It was a kind of Welsh diaspora.  I have experienced so many different environments that they inevitably colour my fiction. But I am now back home and writing; Wales is always there but so are other parts of the world. How can I be insular with the multitude of addresses I’ve had? My current novel begins in Saskatoon, Canada, which I loved.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Marilyn: You can read some reviews on my website (below) but the ones I treasure are the unsolicited, unexpected.  Early on Boxing Day, I received this in as part of an e-mail from Maddison, Wisconsin:

“I so enjoyed your book, which was beautifully written.  It kept me riveted all Christmas Eve after I played Santa for my daughter and Christmas Day after cooking the roast.  I loved the suspense and the wonderful female characters: Dessie, Maddie, Emily, Harriet.   It was tragic on the one hand, but triumphant on the other; I loved that Maddie walked out on her deadbeat cheating husband (none of the married men seem to have understood the meaning of fidelity) and that the truth really did set her free in so many ways.”

I love this because the writer has engaged in the book and the fact that she loved the female characters was a real plus. I came across a similar comment from a review pasted on Google. On Google Books, you can open and read a goodly portion of the novel (as well as Amazon).

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Marilyn: The novel I’m working on is: Shadow of the Black Mountains, set in Saskatoon and the mysterious Welsh Border country.  If you’ve visited the Hay Festival you’ll know the area; the nearby mountains and valleys have exerted a mysterious, spiritual  fascination for centuries.  You can read the opening chapters and links to all my work on my website:

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Marilyn: www.marilynjenkins.books.officelive.com

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Mark Glamack

Today’s guest is Mark Glamack, animator, businessman, director, producer, writer, and patented inventor. Mark has worked in every area of the animation industry. Over the last twelve years, he has created, written, and developed two motion picture projects and a television series.

Shelagh: Hello Mark, please tell everyone a little about yourself.

Mark: Born and raised in Rochester, New York, I attended Art Center College of Design, UCLA, PCC, Sherwood Oaks Experimental College and various animation courses. Currently, I’m the creator, author, and illustrator of the novel, LITTLUNS: and the Book of Darkness: the “Mom’s Choice Awards” Gold winner for 2009.

Earlier in my career, I worked at Walt Disney Productions and went on to work on the animated classic The Jungle Book, and animated many of the special effects for the combination live-action/animation, Bed-Knobs and Broomsticks.  I also worked on the EPCOT promotional film, animation inserts for The Wonderful World of Disney, and The Story of Walt Disney: a Disneyland attraction.

Drafted out of Disney to serve in the Viet Nam War, I spent a year as a medic with the First Air Cavalry Division based thirty miles from the DMZ. I also photographed and directed an ambitious documentary entitled Is Freedom Just a Word? I was awarded the Bronze Star.

Back home in the United States, I continued my career working on countless projects for Hanna-Barbera, Filmation Associates, Film Roman, HBO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and others. Some of the titles I’ve animated, directed or produced are: All Dogs Go To Heaven, Life with Louie, He-Man and Shera-Princess of Power, Oliver Twist, Bobby’s World, Zazoo – U, Spawn, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Do, Tom & Jerry, Dyno-Mutt, Future FlipperG.I. Joe, A Flintstone Christmas, Last of the Curlews, the animated inserts for That’s Entertainment II, and many more. Also, the direct to video projects: Gen 13, Christmas Classics,  Tom Sawyer, All Dogs Christmas, and All Dogs Go To Heaven. In 1999, I was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Special Class–Animated Program for Life with Louie.

During those years, I created the Over One Hour Program Category for animation and the first annual individual achievement awards’ categories (Emmy’s) for the following talents: Animators, Background Artists, Background Stylists, Layout Artists, Production Designers, Storyboard Artists, Voice Over. In 1996, I successfully brought the daytime Emmy awards structure for animation consistent with primetime.

Appointed by the President as Vice-Chair for the ATAS Activities Committee 1991 – 1992, I later served on the Budget, Awards, and Membership Committees.

In 2002, I completed my sixth term as Governor for The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Mark: The writing bug hit me early on in my film and television career when I realized that if I wanted my ideas and imagination to be fully realized, and done right, I would have to do it myself. Well, I had written scripts and other writings, but a novel? Not in a million years would I have ever considered writing a novel. Not that I wouldn’t have wanted to do so, but I always thought there were far better qualified people than I to take on yet another new difficult and demanding journey. And then I had an epiphany; a vision and experience of pure love asking me to write “Littluns.” After this brief, profound, and powerful exchange and calling I shelved all my other projects that were most important to me, and dedicated full-time while understanding the huge odds against such an endeavor.  I guess only time will tell why He wanted me to do this.

For me, the genre is determined by inspiration which has mostly been in fantasy and science fiction – a place where my imagination has no limitations or boundaries.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Mark: For some time now, many parents and others have voiced their concerns about popular books that send the wrong messages to impressionable minds. Most of these people talk about their concerns, but few new options exist that have any appeal to both Christian and secular; young adult and grownup readers. Also, some titles have become more a peer issue than anything of substantive value. Some of these works have significant dangers where, as one example, some people would have everyone believe that there is good and bad evil. Hopefully most parents can explain the difference. And hopefully young and old alike will discover “Littluns.”

God as my guide, was with me every moment, and provided many miracles to enable me to survive while working on “Littluns.” I don’t say this lightly. Three years later amongst every imaginable deterrents, obstacles, negative distractions, and relentless invasions on my life, seemingly to stop me at all costs, the novel “Littluns: And the Book of Darkness” was born; then published, and now finally available for sale.

I smile in the knowledge that whatever God has in mind, it will be good.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Mark: “Littluns” stands alone, but there is a possibility of one of two sequels. Sales will determine what will happen next.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Mark: The hook is in the peradventure and the decisions we must all eventually make in this life for right or wrong, good or evil, for the Light or for the darkness. To this end, “Littluns” is everyone’s journey.

The end of days begins when five Littluns journey down from their isolated and secret mountaintop homeland on what should be a cautious, but pleasant ‘Scavenger Hunt’ outing.

For these pure ‘little people,’ they could not have anticipated or even imagined what awaits them. The results and consequences are however unavoidable. Darkness has come, and is spreading its evil influences to the land below on the eve of destruction and extermination.

Disguised as a human and Necromancer, he has placed most of his dark powers into words; words reserved for his wicked purposes. But ‘The Evil One’s’ ominous Dark Book becomes lost, resulting in him becoming trapped somewhere between the living and the corrupted dead. He must have his book back at all costs.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?

Mark: My life’s experiences and gifts have enabled me to unite my vivid imagination into a visual representation of my written word. Each character becomes a literal and visual embodiment of the human condition that has touched my life one way or the other. As people and events have crossed my path, it is all what it has become, as I have seen it, and into our not too distant future.

Shelagh: Who is the most unusual or most likable character?

Mark: There are many likable and very unusual characters, but I think it’s important for readers to discover their favorite(s) for themselves. In “Littluns” it becomes an integral part of the reading experience.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Mark: From sub-plots to unpredictability, to unexpected plot-twists in their mission, “Littluns” takes the reader on a peradventure where it’s becomes impossible for the reader to predict what will happen next.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Mark: I wrote “Littluns” in the third omniscient voice present-tense to give the reader a NOW experience every time they pick up the book. It is in every writers unique voice found that a one-of-a-kind writing style is born. When all is said and done it becomes what it is.

Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Mark: My environment and upbringing set the stage and prepared me for this moment in time. God did all the rest through me with all His colors of the rainbow.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve even had.

Mark: I am humbled by ONLY wonderful reviews for “Littluns” which can be found on our website and blog. FYI, this is the most recent review from MIDWEST BOOK REVIEWS.

Littluns and the Book of Darkness
Mark Glamack, Author
Mark Glamack, Illustrator
EZ Gift Shopping
PO Box 285, West Bloomfield, NY 14585
9780615169972 $29.95 www.littluns.net

Adventure, courage, and determination surround loyal friends in the fantasy novel Littluns and the Book of Darkness. Movie Producer and Director now Author, Mark Glamack, uses his background in animation and writing to create this family friendly and Christian based young adult novel. With a mission to positively motivate, educate, enlighten and inspire through entertaining content, Glamack uses his own spiritual guiding light to draw his readers into the struggle between good and evil in this debut novel. The Littluns and the Book of Darkness will entertain audiences of all ages with its fast paced, intriguing storyline and elaborate illustrated life of the Littluns world in the Hollow Hills of the land, Terra Fermata. Author, Mark Glamack, shows off his artistic talent with colorful and meticulous illustrations. His veteran motion picture experience shines with expertly written detailed scene changes and engages readers with screenwriting skills that make his audience feel like they’ve been deep inside a high production animated movie. Glamack has exceeded his goal in depicting the journey of life, how to choose between the light and dark side of the world while showing the gifts of friendship and how they can influence us in the shadows of our own life choices. Littluns and the Book of Darkness is a delightful, skillfully written novel that will capture both young and mature readers and leave them with full hearts and the tools necessary to know the difference between good and evil. Littluns and the Book of Darkness is a wonderful gift for lovers of fantasy, for parents and educators who want to offer a faith based book and for librarians who want to expand their offerings.

Sara Hassler
Reviewer

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Mark: For now, I’m just trying to figure out how to get readers to find us, connect, and experience “Littluns” for themselves. I’m finding that marketing has become yet another full-time challenge. Truth be told, I’d rather be doing what I do best and through God, writing the sequel to “Littluns.”

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Mark: For more information about “Littluns” you can visit us at…

BLOG:   http://www.littlunsblog.com

WEBSITE:    http://www.littluns.NET

Shelagh: Thanks for joining us today, Mark.

Mark: Thank you Shelagh for this opportunity to get the word out about “Littluns.”

God Bless and Good Light!

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Giveaway Winners

Thank you to everyone for taking part in the giveaway contest! The comments were highly entertaining and added a great deal to the blog.
Erma Odrach is giving away two signed copies of  Wave of Terror to the lucky winners selected randomly (all names in a hat).

The two winners are:  J. Conrad Guest and Malcolm R. Campbell.

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