Saturday, September 23, 2017

Wanted: A Superhero to Save the World by Bryan Davis // spotlight, interview, giveaways



As promised, I'm coming to you today with a super special post--and yes, it's related to superheroes! Bryan Davis, one of my favorite authors ever, has just released his new middle-grade novel called Wanted--A Superhero to Save the World. I'm excited to get my hands on this fun-looking tale in the near future. In the meantime, I have the privilege of participating in the blog tour! Read on for a peek at the book, an interview with Bryan himself, and details about two super (ahem, pun intended) giveaways.



Eddie Hertz is smart, real smart. He has to be. What other twelve-year-old patrols the streets of Nirvana alone, hoping to foil the schemes of the evil Mephisto? Since Eddie is small for his age, he trusts in his Batman-style gadgets belt and acrobatic skills as well as lots of experience, like knowing how to swing across dark alleys without being seen.

Eddie has a dream, to become like Damocles, Nirvana’s great superhero. To make that dream come true, Eddie invented a device that is supposed to give him superpowers, but using it on himself is dangerous, maybe even fatal. He doesn’t have the nerve to try it.

When Mephisto unleashes an earthquake machine on the city, Eddie gets a surprising teammate — his quirky eight-year-old sister, Samantha, who comes up with an unexpected way to help Eddie in the frantic battle to prevent the biggest earthquake of all.

Since Damocles has lost his ability to help in physical form, Eddie and Samantha are the only hope for Nirvana and the world.


(Available on Amazon)


Interview with Bryan Davis


Tracey: Most of your books are Young Adult. Did you encounter any challenges while venturing into Middle Grade territory?

Bryan: The biggest issue for me was reader targeting. I looked over some current middle-grade offerings and found that they spanned quite a range with regard to simplicity versus complexity in both story and vocabulary, also in the level of seriousness versus silliness.

Because of this wide range, I decided to imagine my characters and write what felt right based on my own experiences with seven children. The story includes a blend of seriousness and quirkiness, and the vocabulary will stretch some readers, though I hope the context will allow them to figure out the words.


Tracey: What might attract some of your YA readers to Wanted, despite the fact it’s labelled below their age group?

Bryan: My YA readers will recognize my usual desire to portray sacrificial heroism and the growth of relationships. There are enough situations and dynamics that only older readers will truly understand, which makes it an intriguing read for YA as well as middle-grade readers. I think older readers will also enjoy the humor.


Tracey: I've been hearing great reviews from YA friends already! Considering this is a superhero story, I have to ask: do you prefer Marvel or DC?

Bryan: Frankly, I don’t like either superhero universe, with the exception of Captain America, though I have heard they are trying to take even him to the dark side.


Tracey: Who is your favorite superhero in your preferred franchise?

Bryan: As I mentioned above, I like Captain America. I always enjoy a hero who is virtuous and sacrificial while still being caring and kind.


Tracey: Amen to that. What’s the best novel you’ve read this year?

Bryan: I read Till We Have Faces for the fifth time. I have a hard time finding recent novels that I enjoy, so I often go back and reread novels I know I will like.


Tracey: As a writer, where do you get your inspiration?

Bryan: I get inspiration from dreams, my children, everyday life, and other stories. Several of my novels had their origin in dreams, including Raising Dragons, I Know Why the Angels Dance, and Let the Ghosts Speak. Regarding other stories, whenever someone else’s story really hits me hard, I analyze it to see what creates the impact. I don’t want to copy the story at all. I just want to know what gives it that punch in the gut. What aspect reaches the heart? When I figure it out, I try to do the same in my story without copying the other story’s device.




Tracey: Writing being a form of self-expression, many authors put parts of their own personality, quirks, or struggles into their characters. You may or may not have done this, but regardless—which of your characters is the most like you?

Bryan: From Dragons in our Midst, Professor Hamilton reflects my analytical side, Jared Bannister reveals my fatherly side, and a trio of females, Bonnie Silver, Sapphira, and Acacia display my spiritual ideals. Last but not least, from Tales of Starlight, Adrian Masters lives out my chivalry principles.


Tracey: Ah, SIX of my favorite characters! What’s one mistake you see young writers consistently make, and could you share some advice on how to avoid/correct it?

Bryan: The most common mistake I see is in how they develop the characters and story world early on. Some jump right into the intense action before developing the characters and story world, which disconnects readers since they don’t know the characters well enough to care about them during the action.

Some young writers dump loads of information about the back story without progressing the main story at all. I see that problem most often with dialogue dumping, that is, having two or more characters talking for several paragraphs, thereby revealing past events. Yet, nothing really happens except for dialogue and maybe a smattering of interior monologue.

The best approach is to give the main character something to do, a goal to achieve no matter how small, then have that character go about the business of getting it done while giving readers clues regarding the back story and the story-world’s environment in a natural way.


Tracey: What was the most enjoyable part of writing Wanted?

Bryan: I enjoyed the blend of seriousness and quirkiness. There are many light-hearted moments to provide comic relief. At the same time our heroes have to suffer through quite a few dangerous sequences while growing in their relationship to each other. The combination of fun and thought-provoking events was a pleasure to write.


Tracey: I can't wait to read it! What are you working on next?

Bryan: I am working on a young adult space adventure tentatively entitled Search for the Astral Dragon. It’s about Megan Willis, a 12-year-old girl who, through a series of strange events, becomes a military space cruiser’s mechanic. Her parents were arrested for space piracy, and Megan was allowed freedom as long as she served under the military ship’s captain. This captain takes her on a mission to find his kidnapped son. She learns later that this captain had ulterior motives for bringing her along, to become bait to draw the kidnappers out from hiding. Yet, the deeper she digs into the secrets, the more she learns how dark the motivations of both the captain and the kidnappers are.

I am also trying to find a publisher for Let the Ghosts Speak, an adult novel that is a combination of historical thriller and supernatural intrigue.


Tracey: I'm definitely looking forward to both of those. Thanks for the great interview!


About the Author



Bryan Davis is the author of the Dragons in Our Midst, Oracles of Fire, Children of the Bard, the Reapers Trilogy, Dragons of Starlight, Tales of Starlight, and the Time Echoes Trilogy, fantasy/science fiction/dystopian novels for youth and adults. His first novel, Raising Dragons, was released in July of 2004, and several books in that series have hit various bestseller lists, including Eye of the Oracle, which hit number one on the CBA Young Adult best-seller list in January of 2007.

Bryan was born in 1958 and grew up in the eastern U.S. From the time he taught himself how to read before school age, through his seminary years and beyond, he has demonstrated a passion for the written word, reading and writing in many disciplines and genres, including theology, fiction, devotionals, poetry, and humor.

Bryan is a graduate of the University of Florida (B.S. in Industrial Engineering). In high school, he was valedictorian of his class and won various academic awards. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and voted Most Likely to Succeed.

Bryan and his wife, Susie, work together as an author/editor team to create his imaginative tales.

Here are some places you'll find this superhero-in-disguise lurking about. Go stalk him and say hello!





Giveaways




By now you must be chomping at the bit to get a copy of Wanted, am I right? Right! The generous author is hosting not one, but TWO giveaways/contests!

#1

Prize: Winner's choice of any Bryan Davis book, plus a Wanted: A Superhero to Save the World t-shirt and bookmark.

How to enter: It's a simple Rafflecopter drawing. a Rafflecopter giveaway

#2


Grand Prize: All the items from #1, PLUS a complete Bryan Davis series of the winner's choice OR a $50 Amazon gift card.

How to enter: This one requires your involvement! Every participating blog has hidden a number in their post. So your job, hero, should you choose to accept it, is to read every post, add all the numbers up, and enter that sum into the giveaway form: a Rafflecopter giveaway There's a lot of great bloggers in this tour--you may want to give them a follow as well!

Speaking of which, you'll find the full list of participating blogs at The Author's Chair right HERE.

Are you looking forward to reading Wanted as much as I am? (Or maybe you've read it already!) Who's your favorite superhero? Remember, as soon as you're done here, head on over to the list of blogs and start adding those numbers! :)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Footnotes // humor & september aesthetic

Do you recall Starting Sparks? It was a link-up by Emily @ Ink, Inc. and Ashley @ [oddly novel title] that I participated in a few times last year. It has since closed down, but now the dynamic duo is back with a new monthly thingamajig called Footnotes! And it's quote themed! (Click on either one of their names to go to their latest Footnotes posts.) Each month, they provide a prompt, and bloggers link up with their posts about a quote related to the prompt.


This month's prompt: a quotation that makes you laugh.


Mr. Gilmer asked him one more question. "About your writing with your left hand, are you ambidextrous, Mr. Ewell?"

"I most positively am not, I can use one hand as good as the other. One hand as good as the other," he added, glaring at the defense table.

--from To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee


I had a grand old time reading TKAM a couple years back, and this is just one of the sections that made me laugh out loud! (Another one involved Scout building a snowman and making some comments that nowadays would be considered racist, but at the time were pretty innocent.)

Speaking of laughing, lately I've been inwardly chuckling at my teachers. Not that they're all comedians (only one of them is of a consistently humorous personality), but after sitting under their tutelage for a couple of weeks, I'm starting to find humor in their various quirks. Like how one nice older lady calls everyone sweetie and has difficulty enlarging YouTube videos to full screen, or how my math and economics teacher pronounces subtraction as "substraction."

In other mundane and unrelated news, autumn has swept in with chilly winds and drizzly skies, making hot tea even more wonderful than it usually is. So here's some pretty fall aesthetic I've been staring at on Pinterest lately.

I think that is one of the best photos I have seen
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Apparently I love foxes. And trees. And books. But what else is new?


Apologies for the brevity of today's post. Next Saturday, I've got something extra special coming your way--it may involve superheroes, but you didn't hear that from me!


So what's making YOU laugh these days? Before I hit publish, here's one last bonus quote that makes me snicker:


The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.
--Albert Einstein

Saturday, September 9, 2017

hey dreamer



hey dreamer
when did your dream become a to-do list?
a series of boxes to be checked?
when did that big, airy wonder
shrivel down to a sheet of paper?


hey dreamer
when did your dream become a memory?
an old photograph?
a distant crackle on the radio
reminding you of long-gone days?


hey dreamer
when did it become a mirage?
a trick of the light?
a shimmer of bitter possibility
in a strangely cold desert of reality?


hey dreamer
when did it become a burden?
a ten-ton weight laid across your shoulders?
a crushing suffocation
measuring your spine and timing your steps?


hey dreamer
when did it become a secret?
a well-worn hideaway?
a crumpled little trinket
you keep in a box hidden under the bed?


hey dreamer


when did the fire in your heart become the fire at your heels?
when did now lose its luster to back then?
when did someday become maybe become never?
when did summer-light wings turn to lead?
when did your banner fray and fade?


hey dreamer


can you tell me when?
tell me why?


i wish you'd remember
recall
recollect
gather up
stir up
cradle close to your chest:


the joy


the joy of the dream that once put a sword in your hand and the stars in your eyes
the wonder of the thing that pulled you around every expectant corner
the beat in your chest so loud and so hard some days that the joy of it all just hurt


hey dreamer . . .
it's still there, you know
you can find it again

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Subplots and Storylines - August 2017



I think I'm stuck in a Donkey Kong game.


You know, where he hops into a barrel cannon, and it shoots him into the next cannon, and that shoots him into the next? That is Donkey Kong, right? (Correct me if I'm wrong.) This whole year has been a series of cannons--all very good ones, though not necessarily all easy--and despite feeling full to the brim, 2017 is only two-thirds done.*


*Pshh, "only." I feel like it should still be April, thank you very much.


But for the most part, August gave me a chance to catch my breath. The day after I returned from Realm Makers, my family and I packed up and headed south of the border again for a week of much-needed vacation at a cabin! It was so, so good to not have anywhere to be, anything to write, or any deadlines to meet. Just wide open hours to swim and kayak in the lake, soak in the sunshine, devour books, eat too much food, stay up too late, and sleep in every morning. Just amazing. And I loved spending all that time with my family!













The next couple weeks were the steady as she goes kind, during which I:


  • tried (and failed) to clean my room
  • took my youngest sister out for fun stuff like riding a tandem bike for the first time ever (we didn't die! and it was so much fun!)
  • had a video chat with a dear friend who lives miles away
  • went to orientation day for college
  • had a campfire with another friend who lives a lot closer but is leaving for university
  • ate fresh corn on the cob from the garden
  • met yet another friend for root beer and a catching up


And now summer feels like it's officially easing into autumn. The days are getting a little cooler already and parts of the garden are being harvested, but the biggest indication that summer is over is this:


I started college this week!


Which is kind of a big deal. I'm adjusting to a new schedule, figuring out how to stuff as much homework as possible into the nooks and crannies of my days, getting to know my teachers, and finally experiencing a public school classroom.*


*Some classes are great. Others feel like a waste of time because hi, I was homeschooled, and I'm used to just reading textbooks for myself, no need to read it to me, thank you, good-bye. Okay, it's not all that bad. Besides, it means less school reading at home later.


Oh, yes, I suppose I should mention this is for a two-year business admin diploma! I sincerely hope to keep up with Adventure Awaits in the meantime. That may mean shorter posts sometimes, or even some Sunday posts instead of Saturdays, but I'll try to keep things as normal and scheduled here as possible.


Subplots on Screen



Mostly rewatches this month!


The Flash season 2 - rewatched three episodes
My family was watching it while at the cabin, so hey, why not join them? I was missing Barry Allen and Co.


Once Upon a Time - rewatched some of season 2 + 3 and finished season 5
My siblings and I are almost through season 2, and with my parents we're well into season 3. But my two sisters and I FINISHED SEASON 5. IT BASICALLY BROKE MY HEART AND PUT IT BACK TOGETHER.


Avatar: The Last Airbender
My sisters pulled me into it, and so far I'm only three or so episodes in. Aang is cute and the episodes are nice and short.


The Maze Runner - rewatch
Also a holiday movie. My sisters had never seen it before, so it was super fun to see it with them and my brother.


Storylines on the Page



books read on holidays


August was a great reading month for me, thanks to vacation!




Ink and Bone // Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone is . . . how to describe it? Aesthetic. Rich. Colorful. Raw. It feels like dusty old books and hot Alexandrian sun and rattling trains and bloody, muddy war. It wasn't the fastest read, but that was okay because I wanted to be immersed like that!


I loved the vaguely steampunk setting, the school aspect, and the way Jess is the son of a black market book smuggler. Instant cool points! Wolfe, the ruthless teacher, was someone I hated at first, then slowly grew to love. I also loved the premise of the library of Alexandria still being around!


Unfortunately, there was a bit of language and one homosexual subplot off to the side that I didn't care for.


Still, I gave the book 4.5 stars! Read my full review on Goodreads HERE.




The Penderwicks // Jeanne Birdsall


This book came highly recommended by several friends, and it did not disappoint!


Think back to your fondest childhood summer, sprinkle it with imagination and adventure, and mix it with a dash of humor and buckets of warm fuzzies. That's pretty much The Penderwicks. Like Peter Pan did for me last summer, it transported me back to childhood in a way that made me smile and want to live at Arundel with these kids just a little longer. Seriously, if you haven't read this yet, GO DO IT.


5 stars! Read my full review on Goodreads HERE.




The Fatal Tree // Stephen Lawhead


The Fatal Tree ended the Bright Empires series differently than I expected, but it was still really, really good. I can say very little without plunging straight into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that:


a) I love the crew, especially Kit, Cass, Mina, Etzel (dear, dear Etzel!), and Gianni.
b) I am endlessly fascinated by this multiverse of ley lines and by the topics this series has examined, such as time, the humongous effect everything and everybody has on everything and everybody else, redemption, human will, and WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE UNIVERSE STARTS TO SHRINK.
c) That beautiful cover.


5 stars! Read my full review on Goodreads HERE.




Some Kind of Happiness // Claire Legrand


I bought this on a whim, and by the time I finished I was a small mess of feelings. Which may have been the point of the whole story. Despite it's title, Some Kind of Happiness deals with a lot of sad topics: depression, cancer, broken families, secrets. (It's labeled MG, but I probably wouldn't give it to a reader that young.) However, it was a powerful, beautifully written story packed with my favorite kind of imagery and grand adventures shared by a pack of rambunctious cousins and their friends.


But to back up a little--the whole premise of this book is amazing. 11-year-old Finley deals with her sadness by writing stories about a place called the Everwood, stories that mirror her own struggles. So it was cathartic and affirming to see how her life inspired her writing, and how her writing, in turn, helped her real life!


4 stars! Read my full review (including my favorite quote from the book) on Goodreads HERE.




The Five Times I Met Myself // James L. Rubart


I actually met Jim Rubart at Realm Makers, and he is one of the kindest, most encouraging authors I've talked to!


The Five Times I Met Myself is a trippy, introspective book dealing with regret and second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. At first, the concept of Brock's lucid dreaming and actually talking to his younger self was a bit hard to believe, but the concept was so interesting that pretty soon I didn't care. Especially when Brock's attempts to improve his life by getting his younger self to make different decisions start making everything worse.


4.5 stars! Read my full review on Goodreads HERE.


The Beast of Talesend // Kyle Robert Schultz


Another author I met at Realm Makers. You might recognize his name from the Silmarillion Awards this summer, because he hosted the award for Most Incompetent Henchman!


I'd heard great things about The Beast of Talesend as well, the highlight of my friends' reviews definitely being the humor. And it was quite an amusing tale! The dialogue is one of this novella's greatest strengths for sure. I also really liked the 1920's alternate history setting, where fairy tales actually happened long ago, but magic has since faded into obscurity. Except for instances like this one, where Detective Nick Beasley happens to turn into a beast . . . despite the fact he's spent his whole career disproving magic! His brother, Crispin, and the unstoppable Lady Cordelia prove to be entertaining sidekicks on their little quest.


My only quibble would be the writing. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't particularly arresting either, and I found the sentence structure repetitive now and then. Nevertheless, this was a good, quick read! Kind of a fluffy cupcake sort of thing, and--oddly enough--something that reminded me of Adventures in Odyssey radio dramas (even though the two aren't related in the slightest).


3.5 stars! (As of right now, I haven't reviewed this on Goodreads yet.)

Subplots on the Writing Desk



After the intensity of May-July, followed by no writing during vacation, I've been taking it easy in this department. I received an amazing, thought-provoking critique of The Brightest Thread's first chapter at Realm Makers, so I spent my writing time this month brainstorming ways to incorporate that feedback.


I ended up experimenting with chapter one and trying different approaches. My first attempt flopped halfway through. With tea and prayer, I tried again, and it went a lot better . . . though that version of chapter one is really long. Then I wrote yet another version, which was much shorter. I haven't yet decided which approach is best.


But TBT is currently in the hands of betas, so I'll see what they say!


Oh, and I updated my Writings page here on the blog! That was a long overdue change.


I had planned to brainstorm a novella for Five Poisoned Apples in August, but that didn't happen. Hopefully this month! There are only four months left of the contest--yikes.


What about you, valiant adventurers? How was your August? Are you going back to school? What was your best summer memory?