Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Author To Author: Peggy M. McAloon


If you've kept up on the blog, you'll know that I'm going though a transition. One that, when I emerge, I hope to have come to a "Right Livelihood." A term coined by the Buddhists as one of the ultimate goals of the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path. 

Hold on, don't jump to the conclusion I'm converting to Buddhism. What I am doing during this transitional phase is striving once again to find the path that is best for me, the one that makes the most sense according to who I am, my true self. 

As I was reading through Peggy's answers I remember that my life isn't all that unique, in that we all go through transitions, changes in our lives that have a beginning, middle and end. Just like the stories we tell, our lives are stories that repeat that pattern over and over again. 

I want to thank Peggy for sharing her story with us today. This will be my last Author to Author post for awhile. Hope you're all having a great and wonderful summer. 



Peggy and Anneka 


Can you tell us three interesting things about you that people usually wouldn’t guess about you?

1. I am terrified of heights. When I was a child, we took wonderful vacations. I was probably five or six when we went to the Grand Canyon. Mother insisted we take a cable car across the canyon. It was a terribly windy day and the cable car broke in the middle of the river; dangling high above the water for nearly an hour before they got it fixed. I remember the cable car swinging back and forth and making creaking noises as it swung in the high winds. I was convinced we were going to die. On another vacation we went to Niagara Falls. We stood on a rock outcrop between two areas of the falls. The next morning on television they showed that same spot where we had been standing. It had fallen off into the raging waters below over night. I’m guessing those two experiences are why my stomach drops every time I’m up somewhere high.

2. My grandmother was a Kennedy. Two cousins came to the U.S. One stayed in the New England area and became quite wealthy … the other moved to Virginia and became a farmer. My grandmother received a personal note with a picture of JFK from Rose Kennedy after the assassination. She slept with it under her pillow every night for the rest of her life.

3. I was a contestant in the Miss Iowa Pageant in the 60’s.

How did you get into writing?

The last 25 years of my working career, I was the national sales manager for the Minneapolis division of the National Association of Credit Management. I did a tremendous amount of training, prepared and delivered seminars, and wrote articles for the newsletter. During that time I wrote my first published book, “The Art of Business Credit Investigation” which was featured in Inc. Magazine. I have loved writing and fabricating stories since I was a child. I used to make up complete movies in my head, but I didn’t write them down. After retirement I started writing guest posts for the local newspaper and was editor of “Lake Talk” the newsletter for the Tainter/Menomin Lake Improvement Association where I spent ten years working for the conservation of our water resources. That involved communication with other groups and politicians. I was awarded the National DAR Conservation Award in 2013.

What are some of your favorite MG/YA books?

Books were my method of mental escape during the abuse of my childhood so I do have to say that the ones nearest my heart are those that gave me hours of blissful entertainment: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – The Chronicles of Narnia set by C.S. Lewis – To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee Harper – Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - and of course the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and 007 series of books. I’m also a pushover for Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and the Prince of Malorn (Annals of Alasia Books) by Annie Douglass Lima.

Who are your role models?

First and foremost is my grandfather. He had the kindest and most compassionate heart of any human being I have ever met.  I love Maya Angelo for her courage and inspiration. Dr. Eichler, my humanities instructor in college for teaching me that dates mean little in history, it is only through learning how one event leads to the next that we will be able to improve our lives and avoid making the same mistakes. I also adored Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” And, “I alone cannot change the world. But I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”


What are you working on right now?


I am working on the 2nd book in the Elle Burton Series. This book will further explore the other dimension of Fiori and the Sacred Scrolls to determine if Elle is the one who it has been predicted will change the direction of the world.  One of the projects associated with the first book in the series is to find funding to provide the book free of charge for women’s shelters for the high-risk children there.

Tell us a bit about how the character of Elle Burton evolved?

Year after year we hear the stories about kids who have been abused and the numbers continue to astound me. The most recent figures indicate there are three million cases of child abuse reported each year in the U.S., involving nearly six million children. This is one of the worst records in all industrialized nations. I was one of those abused children and I have struggled with how we could possibly convince kids like me to share the secret of their abuse. My abuser made threats against my mother if I told anyone. I was terrified for her. Threats are the weapons most readily used by the abusers and I wanted to create a character who could empower kids in trouble to seek help and inspire the rest to recognize and offer help to the kids in trouble.
To be perfectly honest, Elle is the kid I wish I had been courageous enough to be. She’s flawed like me, she makes some bad decision, but she is still willing to stand up against some extraordinary threats to her well-being and the safety of others. I knew she would have to have my grandfather’s heart. I never heard him say an unkind word. I gave her his last name as a constant reminder of her gift of compassion as I wrote the story. She is only ten when the first book begins, but I expect to follow her to adulthood.

Reflective portals are pretty original. Where did the inspiration for those come from?
Everything I have written in this book has been done to inspire kids. What better way to entice them into the story than to allow them to be part of the magic? Elle and the other Earth Guides have two ways to move from Earth to Fiori. One is through a wish and the other is through the reflection of a child. Conversely, the Fiorins can only travel into Earth’s dimension through the reflection of a child. This creates some conflict in the book because it appears the devilish Zorins have found a way to interfere with the reflections in the ponds of Fiori. (Fiorins can travel through a wish with a Guide, but they do not have the gift of wish travel themselves.) Perhaps it is because I love to sit by the water and imagine myself in other places that I chose reflections as the inspiration.

Currently giving away pendants and books! Go to Peggy's website.

























Tell us a little bit about Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals.
Elle Burton is an ordinary kid…or so she thinks. On her tenth birthday she encounters Eunie Mae, a tiny, fairylike being who comes from a world called Fiori. She begins a journey that leads her from this world into another dimension through reflective portals where creatures called Fiorins are linked to all human life.  Other than some children under the age of eight, the only human beings who can see Fiorins are guides—people who have been chosen to help protect the children of Earth.
Being a guide seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Elle has always loved helping others, and now she’ll have magical assistance. But not everybody wants her to succeed. There are evil forces that do everything in their power to keep the guides from offering support to those in need.

Join her as she enlists the Fiorin warrior Amadeus and others to help her protect the human children against bullying and physical abuse. The children at risk Elle encounters are dependent on her decisions and quick responses.  Travel with her to Fiori and discover magical foot lockers, spider elevators, and the beloved Pegasus. Join her journey on the crusade to protect the world’s children.  Her journey to adulthood begins as she completes the three challenges, predicted centuries ago.  She is a modern-day role model who embodies everything that is good in this world. Will she be strong enough to combat the problems children face in the 21st Century?

Can you tell us about your publishing journey, any surprises along the way?

I was extremely lucky to meet Mayo Clinic’s Dick Edwards (Mom, Dad ... Can We Talk?: Insight and Perspectives to Help Us Do What's Best for Our Aging Parents) who was gracious enough to help me on more than one occasion in my quest for a publisher. Anyone who believes they have a book that needs to be written should seek out and find other authors who can help them along the way. Some of the people who have been the most supportive are other authors who are committed to the industry and in helping new authors. Those who have been truly inspiring are Elmarie Porthouse, Connie Dunn, Annie Douglass Lima, D’vorah Lansky, Sandra Beckwith, Jenny Orelle, Jeannie Frazier, PeggyLee Hanson, Moreen Tropy, and Vickie Newman. Without them, I would never have come as far as I have.

Surprises: 
I had no idea that my blog would be transferred to LinkedIn. This was done by the publisher. All of my old customers are on that platform and I was both surprised and terrified to learn that my posts on the tougher elements of parenting were showing up on LinkedIn.

I fought Twitter. I didn’t want to do it, although at one point I thought it might be fun to do as Elle. I’m glad I forced myself to get involved because I have met some wonderful and inspiring people through that platform. I have now done roughly 3,000 tweets…pretty amazing for a Grandma. 

The hours: This is the killer. I had no concept how many hours it would take to build and maintain a platform on all the various social media sites. As a manager in the business world I had one golden rule. If I couldn’t learn to do it, and do it well, I would not ask an employee to do it for me. This has been a difficult learning curve because we did not grow up with the technology folks a few decades younger find so easy. Hopefully I will be able to outsource some of this in the future.

Do you listen to songs while you write? If so, what are they? Do certain songs get you into a certain character’s head?

I love to listen to music. I started playing the organ for church services when I was only nine. I have used music my entire life to maintain my mood. If I’m sad or tired, I play soft and soothing music until my mood begins to lift. At that point I switch to a livelier tune. After a trip to BarHarbor, and the Bluenose Inn, I frequently have one of pianist Bill Trowell’s CD’s playing in the background.

What character is most like you?

That one’s simple: Ginny Burton, Elle’s mom.

If you had a power, what would it be?

Again, that is also simple: I would love to be able to enjoy ‘wish travel’ like the Earth Guides.

What is your favorite quote or saying?

   

I truly believe if we all did one additional thing each day to improve the life of another that everyone’s life would improve.




What would you tell people who want to become authors?

I would ask them why they haven’t started the journey. I wrote two other books before the Elle book. They are still sitting in a file but I do intend to get back to them one day. They are the works that helped me find my true self and my voice. Elle is the story that I pray will change lives. We all have stories inside us that will inspire others. I have been so blessed by the women who have contacted me after reading the book and who shared they were also abused as children. I wrote the book to empower and inspire children; I had no idea it would provide healing to other adults.

Any last thing you want to tell us?

The statistics tell me that one in three women reading this suffered abuse by their 18th birthday. When I was little I constantly tried to be perfect in everything. I always thought if I could be just a little bit better the abuse would stop.

It took decades for me to realize that a child is incapable of doing anything to warrant abuse by an adult. I watched my own children grow, unable to fathom how anyone could ever hurt a child. If you were the victim of abuse as a child and still have unresolved issues, please find someone you can confide in. The healing begins when you stop being afraid. The power of the abuser ends when you reject the fear they instilled in you.

Thanks for joining us, Peggy and sharing such wonderful words of support and wisdom.

On her website Peggy offers a free drawing each month. Currently, there is also a drawing for the pendants and books. Check it out here!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Just Another Life Transition...


My life is a series of transitions. Times where things shift in such a way that it requires a period of adjustment. I'm in one of those times now. As usual it requires a willingness to let go of the familiar and embrace the confusion of this moment. I'd like to say I know where I'll come out, but the reality is, I don't. 

It's been my experience that the less I attach myself to the familiar the easier the transition is. With transition comes confusion. I struggle to come to terms with what's changed and what will stay the same. Letting go of old patterns of thinking and embracing the new ones isn't easy. There's an anxiousness. A burning need to see what's on the other side. The unknown. 

One of the things I'm going to have to let go of for the time being is my blog and, sadly, my reviews. A sabbatical of sorts. While I don't know many specifics of the change, there are a few things I do know.

+ I've begun a new area of study. I'm currently completing course work through the Celebrant Foundation and Institute.

+ Ritual has always been important to me.

+I've struggled to create a sense of spirit in my life after choosing to leave 
  organized religion behind.

+ This new work will engage my writing, and creativity to provide meaningful
   ritual and personal ceremony during important life transitions we all 
   experience over and over again in our lives.  


As I enter this labyrinth of change, unsteady and anxious, I am confident, that like the many transitions that have gone before,  I will emerge a better person. My desire to serve others in meaningful ways and connect with others on a deeper level will be improved and I'll become truer to the person that I am, the person I want to be. 


There are a couple of loose ends that I will need to tie-up. 

On July 24th, Project Madison's 2nd birthday, I will be releasing the second edition of the first book, under a new title, If Dogs Could Blog. 

Next week I will release the new cover design, with chances to win copies. This new edition features illustrations by both the original artist the same creative gals that did It's NOT Just A Dog! 

I have a few more Author to Author interviews that I will be posting down the road.

When I will return to a more regular blogging schedule and what that will look like still remains a mystery. But, rest assured...I will be back...

In the meantime, I'll be lurking around my favorite blogs, finding new ones and periodically, when I have something worth saying I may pop on for some dialogue.

Thank you for your understanding. 

I hope this resonates with some of you. If so, let me know, it would be nice to hear from others that have or are going through a life transition. 


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Gram's Pick of The Week: Quiet Kids by Christine Fonseca

Gram's recommended!
Today's Gram's pick is a non-fiction book that covers the important topic of understanding and helping an introverted child succeed in our extroverted world. The assumption is: What kid wouldn't want to be on T.V.? The reality not every child comes into the world with a desire to be out front. Does that make them lazy? Does that mean that there isn't a place for them in this world of loud, pushy go-getters? 
    According the Fonseca, introverts have much to offer the world and it's time we recognize those strengths and instead of forcing them to change who they are. To help them find their voice and place in a world where people spend less and less time developing an inner world. What do introverts have to offer as we head into the next century of fast moving, high tech innovation? Fonseca will have you changing your perspective and draw the line between introverts and being shy. There is a difference. I highly recommend this book to educators and parents. 

About The Book: Being an introverted child is difficult, especially in an ever-increasingly noisy world. Often viewed as aloof, unmotivated or conceited, introverted children are deeply misunderstood by parents, educators and even their peers. That’s where "Quiet Kids: Helping Your Introverted Child Thrive in an Extroverted World" comes in. Designed to provide parents with a blueprint for not only understanding the nature of introversion, Quiet Kids provides specific strategies to teach their children how to thrive in a world that may not understand them. Presented in an easy-to-read, conversational style, the book uses real-world examples and stories from introverts and parents to show parents and educators how to help children develop resiliency and enhance the positive qualities of being an introvert. With specific strategies to address academic performance, bullying, and resiliency, Quiet Kids is a must read for anyone wishing to enhance the lives of introverted children.


About the Author: Christine Fonseca
Who:Critically acclaimed nonfiction and YA author Christine Fonseca is dedicated to helping children of all ages find their voice in the world. In fiction, she explores the darker aspects of humanity and delivers gothic thrillers that take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

In addition to writing, Ms. Fonseca is a frequent presenter and trainer on subjects ranging from writing to behavior and understanding the unique needs of gifted children. She blogs regularly on many sites and participates in events throughout the country. See the News/Events page for upcoming events.

When Christine isn’t crafting her next book and working with kids, she can be found sipping too many skinny vanilla lattes at her favorite coffee house or exploring the world with her family.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

...AND The Winners Are:

First, I have to thank all those that made this month long blog tour a great success. I couldn't have done it without all of you. Thanks, to all those that took the time to spread the word about Project Madison. And now...

#DRUMROLL  #Please!


Our grand prize winner is:

Victoria Alexander who had to have tweeted a million times!


First Prize:

Mary G. Loki who came to us from I Am A Reader.

Second Prize:

Courtney Whisenant who stopped by from Social Cafe Magazine.

Third Prize:

Also coming to us from I Am A Reader Kristine Peacock.

Swag Packages:

Danielle Bateman
Kristy Petree

Congratulations to the winners! And thanks again to everyone that blogged, tweeted and helped spread the word about the release of It's NOT Just A Dog! 

If you want to get first hand news about what's next for Project Madison be sure to like the Project Madison Facebook Page. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

MMGM: The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

About The Book: When Elanor’s near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by bold, beautiful Madeline, she finds her life quickly spiraling out of control

Fourteen-year-old Elanor Moss has always been an outcast who fails at everything she tries—she's even got the fine, white scars to prove it. Moving was supposed to be a chance at a fresh start, a way to leave behind all the pain and ugliness of her old life. But, when a terrible car accident changes her life forever, her near-death experience opens a door to a world inhabited by Madeline Torus . . . Madeline is everything Elanor isn’t: beautiful, bold, brave. She is exactly what Elanor has always wanted in a best friend and more—their connection runs deeper than friendship. But Madeline is not like other girls, and Elanor has to keep her new friend a secret or risk being labeled “crazy.” Soon, though, even Elanor starts to doubt her own sanity. Madeline is her entire life, and that life is drastically spinning out of control. Elanor knows what happens when your best friend becomes your worst enemy. But what happens when your worst enemy is yourself?


First Line: I was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

What Others Are Saying: "Stewart conveys with gripping conviction the differences in Ellie's perceptions and those of Ellie's mother. Ellie sees, hears, and feels Madeline though her mother does not, or at least says she does not. The creepiness of the story is intensified by the reader's growing awareness that Madeline is much more than Ellie's ghostly BFF. In the vein of V. C. Andrews, Stewart has created a taut psychological drama that teens will adore." School Library Journal

Stewart’s debut novel is a riveting page-turner with real empathy and compassion. The journal format clarifies Ellie’s different stages and lends a wonderful voyeuristic appeal. —Booklist

Written in journal form, the scenes change as Ellie enters new periods in her life and begins new journals. Readers, then, encounter only the unreliable narrator, and it is they who will decide if events have been real or imagined.
      A most intriguing book and debut. —Kirkus



Bloggers Weigh In:
Teen Ink
Xpresso Reads

What I Thought: If you're looking for a light summer read, this isn't the book. If, however, you're looking to escape into a world full of twists and turns that force you to question what's real and what's only in the mind of the protagonist you will enjoy this ride. Fast moving, constantly readjusting your perspective as Ellie moves through the ordinary, only to discover that there is no such thing as ordinary. What is real and what is in her mind? That's up to you to decide. 


About The Author: Barbara Stewart


Who:  "I spent the first nineteen years of my life wanting to be someone else: Laura Ingalls, Elton John, Nancy Spungen, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath. It was hard finding work as any of those people, so I went to college. That was hard, too, because I had to pick a major. I was interested in a lot of things—psychology, sociology, history—but none of them screamed "career" at me.

And then my English professor asked if I wanted to write a short story for extra credit. I gave it a shot. And then I wrote another and another…I couldn’t stop. I knew what I wanted to do." —Author's Website



Tomorrow is the last day for the It's NOT Just A Dog Blog Tour and Giveaway! With over 900 entries and over a 100 new likes on the Project Madison Fan page it's been a fun month-long run. If you haven't yet entered you have one more day for a chance to win some awesome prizes! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

So Sad, Only Four Days Left...





Yes, that's right. The awesomeness of the It's NOT Just A Dog! blog tour is speeding towards its last days. We've had quite a month with interviews, guest posts and giveaways. If you missed any part of it, here is a list of of stops along the way. And another chance to win. Be sure to check in on the Project Madison Fan Page for a chance to win one last time on Friday! 







a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Unfolding Through Play and Magic





I would like to introduce you to Sandra Moreano the second artist on the illustration team. 


Sandra was born in South America by a French mother and American father. She has always looked at life from many perspectives. As an adult she's lived all over the country, NY, Louisiana, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and now the Seattle area.  She has also had several careers as a nurse, teacher of math and computers, and graphic designer. In all of these situations one thing has always remained the same, learning. Learning to adapt, grow and serve others is what makes her feel truly alive. 

You can find Sandra here:
1. Tell us about how you became an artist. Did you always like to draw?

I have been creative my entire life. Imaginary adventures, theatre, crafts and writing were part of my everyday childhood. After I was 6 years old I stopped drawing. I picked up drawing again as an adult. For some reason I didn't think I could draw. As an adult I realized that anyone can draw as it is just a skill like any other. Once I began, I couldn't stop.

2. Name two artists that inspire you.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Alfred Lesbro

Saint-Exupery
Lesbro









3. When and how did you know you wanted to illustrate a children's book?
When I read books, I imagine the people and scenes in my head. Reading Pam’s book for the first time both time and place were vivid. And I knew right away I wanted to illustrate Madison and her adventure. I also knew I would need help, so I asked Roxane Stoner. She is the genius behind it all. I have a lot of computer skills and imagination but she really makes every picture come alive. We have fun working together.

4. Describe your illustrating style and how it has evolved.

Whenever possible I make a mess with paints, pastels and collage. Playing and learning go hand in hand. My style is always evolving. At the moment I enjoy line drawings with added computer finishes. Computers allow for a tremendous about of control. As a graphic designer, I like control. All that said, I think it is still really important to play. Play is a form of self discovery that allows for personal unfolding.

5. Tell us about the process you used to create the illustrations for this project?

Well, first it starts with an idea, then a thumbnail sketch followed by some research to make sure the anatomy, perspective and subject I draw are just right. Finally I render the drawing using the computer.

6. Books are a collaboration between the writer, illustrator, editor and formatter. What should writers understand about artists?

A writer needs to know that the illustrator gets emotionally involved with the story. They don't just draw any old character. They draw a person that has entered their heart. All team members need to add their own unique stamp. The magic happens when the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.


7. What time of day is your favorite time to work?

I like to work during the first two hours of the morning, and then again in the afternoon right after walking my dog.

8. Describe your workspace.

I have a drafting table and a computer table. I also have a lot of files, books and materials organized near by. I try to keep neat and organized so that I can find whatever I need when I want it.



9. What did you find most challenging about this project?

Learning the computer graphics illustration techniques.

10. What do you hope to do in the future?

Pam’s First book in the Madison Series.


Only ten more days to enter the giveaway for the June It's NOT A Dog Blog Tour! Enter here.




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