Tag Archives: Author Guest Post

Blog Tour: Drawn by Chris Ledbetter

drawn by chris ledbetterTitle: Drawn
Author: Chris Ledbetter
ASIN: B00UGRG8SK
ISBN: 978-1772333763
Publisher: Evernight Teen
First Published: 5 June 2015 (Kindle) / 3 June 2015 (paperback)
No .of pages: 282

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
Caught between the sweltering fall landscape of Wilmington, NC beaches and southern illusions and expectations, all sixteen year-old Cameron Shade thinks about is art. That, and for Farrah Spangled to view him as more than just a friend. Cameron hopes he can win her heart through art. After several warm interactions with Farrah, including painting together at the beach, Cameron discovers just how complex Farrah’s life is. Following a tense run-in with Farrah’s father, she forbids Cameron to speak to her again, but Cameron’s convinced there’s more behind the request. To impress Farrah, Cameron sketches her portrait into a mysterious sketchbook. He nearly jumps from his skin when the sketch moves and communicates with him. Farrah is now in grave danger because the sketch he drew of her sucked her real-life’s soul into the sketchbook. Cameron now has twenty days to extract Farrah. To save her, he must draw himself into the book. If he fails… they both die.

Review:
I don’t read an awful lot of teen fiction, but when I do, I only enjoy it if the premise is original and daring and grabs me from the get-go.

Let’s just say, I enjoyed this book!

Chris Ledbetter has done something few have done, and that is to write a teenaged boy with whom I, as a woman (and once, a teenaged girl) can relate. I felt for Cameron, I felt for him deeply, and was able to sink into his emotions and passion for art quite effortlessly. Farrah wasn’t quite so well, ahem, drawn as Cameron, but as she was not the main character, only the focus for Cameron’s growing affections, this was understandable – she was attractive, but as a reader I knew little about her, which was pitched very well, as Cameron didn’t really know all that much about her beyond the basics and his attraction for her.

The premise for the story was cleverly thought out and written with a light touch that lifted it above the ordinary – a heavier hand would have thrown everything out of balance and crushed the plot entirely. Its an unusual take on a Pygmalian-type of fantasy, where an artist brings his work of art to life, and falls in love with her, only Cameron is already falling for Farrah before he creates her Echo.

There was a tinge of sadness about the tale too – Ledbetter doesn’t shy away from the darker and more upsetting trials of teen and family life, and the complications inherent in relationships, whether familial, platonic, or romantic – and that’s refreshing. Yet, it never becomes maudlin – that lightness of touch and tone keeps things buoyant and ensures the reader doesn’t sink into depression while turning the pages. It’s a fine line, but Ledbetter walks it well.

Even if you don’t read young adult/teen fiction, don’t discount this book – it’s worth the effort and may just change your mind!

An interview with the author

chris-ledbetterI am happy to share this little interview with Chris Ledbetter, author of the book, Drawn. Thank you, Chris, for sharing your time and thoughts with us!

What advice would you give budding writers?
Read in the genre in which you wish to write. Read to discover the accepted norms and the rule breakers. Read to find out what you like and what you don’t. Read to discover what you can offer that will be distinct from the current voices. The worst thing is thinking you have this uber original story only to find out it’s been run through and no editors will ever buy it again. But then, also read craft books and articles. I hate to say it, but you could get an MFA’s worth of craft information on Pinterest. You really can’t read enough craft posts. And join supportive organizations like SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) or an appropriate group to your genre. And go to conferences. I’m constantly learning about worldbuilding, dialogue, structure, etc. And find a good group of critique partners who don’t hold punches. It may hurt to get your work torn apart by your critiquers, but as long as it’s leveled constructively, you’ll learn and grow… and be closer to the brass ring.

 Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?
I typically don’t have writer’s block per se because I know pretty much where the story is going. The only time the process slows for me is when I’m really trying to dig the deeper level emotions out of a character.

 Do you have another profession besides writing?
I am the assistant manager at a Vitamin World. Health is a passion of mine.

 What is your next project?
I have a few projects on the horizon. The one I’m am most excited about involves research about the history of Stradivarius violins. That’s all I can say about that project at the moment.

 Name a quirky thing you like to do.
I like to worship and make wishes upon the full moon. I mean, who doesn’t?

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BLOG TOUR: Guest post by Anna Belfrage

Lost in time – of those that came before

Time, they say, is relative. It is also the single thing that all of us have as much of – or as little of – as out next door neighbour. Not that everyone agrees with that statement, as it is obvious even to a blind hen that some of us (read “me”) work much more than others (read “you”). In actual fact, though, we are all free to deploy the usage of our time as we please – but we must be prepared to take the consequences. So, if person A finds his/her time well-invested by spending it on the sofa watching TV all day long, chances are person A will soon find himself/herself without either sofa or TV.

Time – or rather the passing of time – is also something of an anxiety attack. As we get older, we become painfully aware of the fact that time is running out, and those endless years that stretched before us when we were sixteen and naïve, seem depressingly finite once we have passed the fifty year mark. This is when bucket lists get written, when previously agnostic people start considering the afterlife, carefully circling the thought that maybe God exists – if nothing else because if He does exist, maybe things won’t end when we draw that last, final breath.

Some become concerned not so much with afterlife but with afterword. What will be said of us once we are dead? Will we have left an indelible impression on this world? Probably not. After all, most of us will pass into the annals of history as the merest of footnotes – as have most of our ancestors before us.

History is not made up of the famous. It isn’t the kings and the queens, it is the rank and file, the people who broke their backs over meagre fields, who span and wove, who cooked and baked, fought and died. People like us, a sea of humanity stretching back into time, most of whom had no ambition beyond surviving and leaving enough of a legacy behind for their children to be slightly better off than they were.

One of my favourite pastimes is to visit old churches. Not the fancy, huge cathedrals, but rather the small, dilapidated churches that so generously dot our continent. The gate to the graveyard might squeak, headstones stand in ordered rows that degenerate to a jumble of fallen, broken stones the further back in time we go. If the inscriptions are decipherable, there will be moments of quiet contemplation as I consider the fate of the poor woman who gave birth seven times and buried six of her boys – all of them named William in one combination or another – before they reached the age of one. Did she curse God? Did she blame herself for not being pious enough, good enough?

Then there’s the church itself. Old pews are worn shiny with use, there’s a tang of dust and candle wax, and in the furthest right hand corner there are remnants of the medieval frescoes that illustrated the Bible stories – frescoes that were whitewashed during the Reformation, proclaimed as unnecessary now that common man could read the Bible for himself. Except that often he couldn’t, because despite the Bible being translated into the vernacular, analphabetism was rife in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. I guess the people missed the frescoes, if nothing else as a feature to fix their eyes on during the increasingly long sermons.

I like sitting down for a while, all alone with the dust motes that dance in the sunlight that falls through the high church windows. Sometimes it seems to me those shimmering particles come together, forming outlines of people. There’s the soft, hushed sound of prayers, in Latin, in the languages of today. Sweeping kirtles, men in gowns and hose, here and there a serving wench with her hair severely tucked out of sight – people from all ages, an endless line of devout believers that clasp their hands and pray. For what? A safe birth? Deliverance from the Black Death? The return of their man, presently fighting at Naseby? There’s weeping and laughter, and once in a while it is as if the whole church hums with this collective prayer from the preceding generations. What did they wish for? Dream of? Probably the same things we wish for; a good life, health, future for our kids.

Recently I have developed a new fascination – old stone walls. It struck me one day as I was admiring the walls that encircle our country house, that these beautiful seventeenth century constructions are the result of very much work. Extremely hard labour, in fact. Since then, I see walls everywhere, features I had previously never taken any notice of. Each and every stone in those long, straight walls is a stone picked from a field, a little piece of rock lifted aside before it broke the precious plough. Until the field was rid of stones, it couldn’t be cultivated, and clearly this was land riddled with stone. Lucky me, I think as I caress my precious walls, and out of the corner of my eye I see a boy in ragged breeches and a filthy linen shirt, and he is crying because his back is hurting something awful, but the master will belt him if he stops shifting the rocks. He looks straight at me, wipes at his snotty nose and fades away. I wonder if the moss-covered stone presently under my hand is one he placed here.

Everywhere we look, we find the traces of the people who lived before us – in the churches and graveyards, in the ruined castle and the rotting barn. Had we met them, I think we would have been struck by how alike we are – well, once over the superficial differences. We live in a brave new world filled with technological wonders the people from long ago couldn’t even begin to imagine. But they started it, with every rock torn out of the ground to give way to cultivated land, with every spire raised to praise the glory of God – and the inventiveness of man.

Ultimately we’re all the same; we’re born, we live, we die. Some of us build cathedrals, some of us make do with a simple little wall. But somehow we all leave a trace, an ephemeral imprint that will dance like glittering fogs over the lands that once were ours.

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Anna Belfrage is the author of six published books, all part of The Graham Saga. Set in the 17th century, the books tell the story of two people who should never have met. Matthew Graham is a devout Presbyterian, a veteran of the Commonwealth armies and a man who, initially at least, has a tendency to see the world as black and white. Alex Lind is an opinionated modern woman who has the misfortune (or not) of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, thereby being dragged three centuries back in time to land concussed and badly singed at an astounded Matthew’s feet.

Anna can be found on amazon and on her website or her blog!

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BLOG TOUR: Author guest post – What was King George III’s illness? by Laura Purcell

George_III_in_Coronation_editFor many years George III was known as the “mad” king of England. But as attitudes and science have progressed, historians and doctors alike have tried to diagnose the illness which haunted George from 1788 to the end of his life.

It is extremely difficult to determine whether he suffered from a psychological disorder, or a disease that caused mental disturbances as part of a larger problem. A recent theory is that George had acute porphyria, a rare inherited condition affecting the enzymes that produce porphyrins and heme. Porphyria has an acute impact on the nervous system causing abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle weakness, seizures, hallucination and paranoia. A high heart rate may also develop. You may have seen the film The Madness of King George, in which the King’s urine is reported to be blue. This was certainly the case through some of his illness, and blue urine can be another sign of porphyria.

However, we cannot lay too much store by this one symptom, as some of the medicines the King was prescribed could well have changed the colour of his urine.The first hint of the King’s condition came in 1765, just five years into his reign. He was feverishness with stitches in the chest and a pulse rate of 120. For a time his life was feared of. The strange episode was referred to merely as a fever, and perhaps it was, but similar symptoms appeared in the onset of George’s great illness twenty three years later.

Before the mental delirium, George experienced violent stomach pains which seized him in the night and rendered him speechless. When under an attack, he found it difficult to breathe. At one time he showed his third daughter, Elizabeth, a rash that had appeared on his arm. She said it looked as if he had been scoured.

These were not the only physical symptoms. Doctors’ reports show shooting pains from side to side in the King’s back, cramp and swelling in the legs, which was thought to be gout. Indeed, for some time the doctors believed George’s manic episodes were caused by gout “travelling up to the brain”.

QUEEN-OF-BEDLAM-copyVisual disturbance also troubled the King. He felt he had a floating mist before his eyes and feared he would go blind. But more curious is the changing colour of the King’s eyes. The whites became yellow and Queen Charlotte described his pupils as “blackcurrant jelly”. In terms of behaviour, George’s illness shows similarity to bipolar syndrome. During manic episodes, he barely slept, speaking continually until the foam ran from his mouth. Sometimes crying, sometimes violent, it was impossible to predict the King’s mood. However, before his illness George was always eccentric, fast-talking and painfully blunt. This makes it hard to decide whether he was truly displaying alternating mania and depression. On the recent BBC documentary Fit to Rule, a leading doctor examined George’s handwriting and found significant changes during bouts of illness. He believes there is enough evidence to prove George was bipolar. Unfortunately, he makes no mention of the physical symptoms such as the mottled skin and swelled veins in George’s face, let alone the bodily cramps.

With a life dominated by duty, an over-bearing mother and the death of his father at a young age, George does seem a likely victim of psychological damage. It is certainly true that the methods used by Doctor Willis – the keeper of an asylum– were the only ones that had an impact on the King’s behaviour. But whether this was science or coincidence, we will perhaps never know.

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BLOG TOUR: The Collector of Dying Breaths by M J Rose – Author guest post

Opening quote from The Collector of Dying Breaths:

“It is with irony now, forty years later, to think that if I had not been called a murderer on the most frightening night of my life, there might not be any perfume in Paris today. And that scent—to which I gave my all and which gave me all the power and riches I could have hoped for—is at the heart of why now it is I who call myself a murderer.”

Inspiration for the novel:

Perfume Bottle

“Perfume is … that last and best reserve of the past, the one which when all out tears have run dry, can make us cry again!” ~ Marcel Proust

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BLOG TOUR: To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis – Author guest post

natchezNatchez Trace Walk

The Natchez Trace is a 10,000-year-old road that runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Thousands of years ago, animals used its natural ridge line as a migratory route from points in the Ohio River Valley to the salt licks in Mississippi. It was logical for the first Native Americans to settle along the Trace to follow part of their migrating food supply. When the Kaintucks settled west of the Appalachians, they had to sell their goods at ports in New Orleans or Natchez, but before steam power, they had to walk home. The Trace became one of the busiest roads in North America.

To launch To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, I will be the first person of either sex to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did since the rise of steam power in the 1820′s. March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014. Fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. One rest day per week. I will spend each night in the modern-day equivalent of stands, places much like Grinder’s Stand, where Meriwether Lewis died from two gunshot wounds on October 11, 1809.

I will take readers into the world of the book. You’ll see the places that inspired scenes and hear the backstories of different characters, with running commentary by my father, who’s tagging along with me.

I’ll also have a daily YouTube segment where I answer reader questions about the book, my walk, my arguments—I mean—interactions with my dad, and whatever readers want to know. Ask me anything at mystories@andrawatkins.com

You might see yourself on this site during my tour.

 

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