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 FRESH FROM THE INKWELL 

Wichita Eagle Reading Challenge 2019

This is my first year to try this reading challenge. It's great having time to read in retirement - and writers have to read, right? Here's my proposed list - subject to change at any time, depending on availability, or recommendations on Facebook.

BOOK WITH A FACE ON THE COVER: Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. CLASSIC/RETELLING: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. MEMOIR OR AUTOBIOGRAPHY: Captive in Iran by Maryam Rostampour & Marziyeh Amirizadeh. TRANSLATION: Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko. AVOIDED OR UNFINISHED: Most Haunted Island by Gay Baldwin. CHARACTER WHO IS UNLIKE YOU: Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. LAUGH OUT LOUD: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. RECOMMENDED BY A CHILD: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. AWARD WINNER: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. GENRE THAT IS UNUSUAL FOR YOU: Sundrop Sonata by Ann Fell. BY AN AUTHOR COMING TO KANSAS: The Collector’s Apprentice by B.A. Shapiro. SET IN YOUR BIRTHPLACE: Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave.

Some of these titles would fit more than one category. So far I've read the first 4, almost 5. Read More 

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INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SARAH SANCHEZ

MY GUEST THIS WEEK IS SARAH SANCHEZ, AUTHOR OF "NIGHTWALKER" AND "THE PORTAL KEEPER."

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF.

I was born in Dallas, Texas. I love Texas. The weather is crazy, but the people are friendly. I graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in Spanish. Mexico is my second home. My husband is from Mexico, and I have family down there. I love the culture, the people, and of course the food. I have three wonderful children and I love hiking and spending time outdoors when I am not writing.

Fantasy is my preferred genre to write in. There are no limits in fantasy beyond my own imagination.

WHAT GOT YOU INTO WRITING?

I was never a huge reader when I was younger. I guess I just didn’t find anything that really grabbed my attention. It wasn’t until my early 20’s that I really started to love reading. I would go through series after series.

I never thought of myself as a writer. Term papers were hard to stretch out to the ten or twenty pages required. The thought of writing a book didn’t really enter my mind.

My first book began on a whim. I just wanted to see how long I could write for. This resulted in a completely juvenile story that will never see the light of day. It did teach me that I had the capability to write. I just needed practice and a better storyline.

IS THERE SOMETHING YOU LEARNED FROM WRITING YOUR FIRST BOOK?

Just to persevere. Keep working at it. Don’t be afraid of rewrites. Take your time and don’t rush into publication.

WHICH DO YOU PREFER? PRINT BOOKS OR E-BOOKS?

I probably read about 50/50. Ebooks have their advantage but I still enjoy having a physical book in my hand occasionally.

SHARE A SHORT EXCERPT FROM YOUR NOVEL

It was dark all around him as he struggled to catch his breath. He couldn't make out his hand in front of his face and had no idea which direction to swim in. Suddenly he was roughly pulled out of the water and tossed onto a hard surface. He coughed a few more times and tried to sit up. The floor rocked beneath him, and Ajax realized he was on a ship of some sort.

“Well, what have we got ourselves here?” a grizzly voice asked. “Spots, shine a little light over here, will you?”

Something buzzed by Ajax's ear and then a small but exceptionally bright light shined in his face.

He put up his hand, attempting to shield the beam from his eyes.

“It's a man,” someone called out.

Someone prodded him with a stick.

“Hey!” Ajax exclaimed, swatting it away.

"What were you doing out in the middle of Death Lake at this hour?”

Death Lake, that sounds promising, Ajax thought to himself.

“I'm looking for my friend,” Ajax answered. “Have you seen anyone else? Did anyone else fall?”

“Shut him up,” another voice called. “Get him down below.”

Something covered Ajax's face and then he was grabbed forcefully and carried to another location. He felt as if he were going down stairs. He was flung unceremoniously into a chair, and the hood was yanked off his head. He rubbed the back of his arm, where he had been gripped too tightly. It was dark in this new place too.

Slowly a lamp was lit, giving a little light to the area.

A rhinoceros stood at the head of a table, wearing a pair of striped trousers and suspenders without a shirt. He leaned forward. “How did you come here?”
Ajax scooted back in his chair, looking around the table. He must have really experienced a lot in the past week because the talking rhinoceros didn't amaze him as much as he felt it should.

THAT SOUNDS INTRIGUING, WITH A TOUCH OF THE ABSURD - A TALKING RHINO IN SUSPENDERS! AS YOU SAY, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IN FANTASY. TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR MAIN CHARACTER.

Ajax is just about to turn fourteen. He is a dutiful child who is taking on a responsibility that was never meant.

IS THIS A STAND-ALONE NOVEL OR PART OF A SERIES?

The Portal Keeper is book 1 in the series.

CURRENTLY, WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

I just finished up the second book in my YA Vampire trilogy. Nightwalker was just released in May. I am also working on the sequel to The Portal Keeper, I don’t have a title yet.

DO YOU HAVE PEOPLE READ YOUR DRAFTS BEFORE YOU PUBLISH? HOW DO YOU SELECT BETA READERS?

Definitely. I am still looking for more. Some authors don’t want too many eyes on their work. I am the opposite. The more eyes the better. It is hard to find good beta readers who will point out your flaws. But I have a few really good ones.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE WHEN WRITING? DID YOU HAVE ANY WRITER'S BLOCK? IF SO, HOW DID YOU WORK YOUR WAY THROUGH IT?

I find working on several projects helps keep my mind flowing. I try to keep the number to three projects. I have found that if I get stuck I can jump to another project and then when I come back to it, I usually don’t have a problem finishing it.

WHAT WAS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE?

I need background noise. Whether it’s the tv or good music. Then I usually just try and hammer out a couple of chapters based on an idea that struck me. If after that I think it's good, then I will start making up an outline and doing research if needed. Once I finish the first draft, I will reread it, make changes and then send it out to my beta readers.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES ASIDE FROM WRITING, IF ANY?

I enjoy hiking, not that there are many places to do that in Texas, but I recently got to hike some of the parks in Utah. There is some gorgeous scenery. I also enjoy baking, which probably doesn’t help my chocolate addiction.

A GIRL AFTER OWN HEART - TEXAS, HIKING, AND CHOCOLATE!
THANK YOU FOR SHARING WITH US, AND BEST WISHES FOR YOUR WRITING SUCCESS. Read More 

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Death of a Sequel

Those of you who followed the progress of my YA novel RIDDLE OF THE SAMOVAR via blog posts of 2014 (A-Z or Z-A) might be wondering whether the book has been published. I must confess that it was never finished. Less than halfway through, after an investment of several years' plotting, I admitted to myself - and to any who would listen - that I was flogging a dead horse.

For whatever reason - unfamiliarity with Texas high school culture in the '70s, being forced to fit events into a precise historical timeline (the Iran hostage crisis) or just plain busy-ness in my non-writing life - this was a failed romance. Much as I enjoyed researching the era and watching my characters from SECRET OF THE SEVENTH GATE start a new adventure, the time had come to close the drawer on all my notes for possible future use, or not.

This freed me up for other projects! I will have two books out this fall - a poetry collection, CATCHING THE TRADE WINDS, and an illustrated London alphabet, X MEANS TEN ON THE FACE OF BIG BEN. Read More 

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Guide to the Blog Archives

August 2010: Somewhere over the Rainbow
January 2011: New Leaf in a Writer’s Notebook
February 2011: Kindred Spirits
July 2011: Library Fines and Fine Libraries
November 2011: Bugsy, Slug, the Beatles and Me
December 2011: Do You Know? A Carol for the Family
February 2012: Top Ten Reasons to take up Stained Glass
March 2012: Ode on the Color Green
April 2012: Take me to your Leader
July 2012: For You, Dad
September 2012: A Song for Irene; A Poem a Day Keeps Detractors at Bay
October 2012: Oklahoma Fall
December 2012: Not This Christmas; Janus at the Crossroads
January 2013: Kansas Voices
March 2013: Marching Forward in March
April 2013: A Muse Named April
May 2013: The Desk
June 2013: I Don’t Do….
July 2013: A Literary Cruise; Ballad of Captain Jack Scurvy
August 2013: Yolanda’s Uniform & other School Poems
September 2013: Four Poems in my Backpack
November 2013: Remembering Penny
December 2013: The Joy Jar
February 2014: Three Poems for Valentine’s Day
March 2014: Ghosts of the Midnight Oil; Eviction Notice to my Inner Critic;
Cancelelation
April 2014: Crabby’s Classroom
August 2014: A = Art; B = Bibliography; C = Calvin; D = Danger; E = Exercise; F = Friendship
September 2014: G = Gospel; H = History; I = Immersion; J = Jewels; K = King;
M = Meshki; N = Nuts; O = Obstacles; P = Phyllis; Q = Queen of Hearts
October 2014: R = Rose Garden; S = Seventies; T = Tammie Traylor; U = Unity; V = Vandergriff; W = Wonderland
November 2014: X = Xylophone; Y = You; Z = Zoroastrian
December 2014: Joy Jar
June 2015: Catch a Falling Writer
August 2015: Tuscany, O Tuscany!
September 2015: Relocation, Dislocation & Discombobulation
October 2015: Random Encounter at Random House
March 2016: Two Poems for Easter
June 2016: Two Poems about Fatherhood
September 2016: The Way to the Town Hall
May 2017: Curse of the Dampeners
December 2017: Tia Lynn’s Midnight Ride
March 2018: Marching Forward in March
May 2018: Guide to the Blog Archives
July 2018: Death of a Sequel
August 2018: Interview with Sarah Sanchez
February 2019: Wichita Eagle Reading Challenge
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MARCHING FORWARD IN MARCH

MARCHING FORWARD IN MARCH

From “76 Trombones” on the radio, to our hometown band’s rousing rendition of “Blaze Away,” to the bagpipes of the Grenadier Guards at Windsor Castle, to the Sousa tunes of my adopted country—I’ve always loved a good march. It’s in my blood.

Today I march forward, not in lockstep with anyone, but to the beat of a different drum. I look back only to see how far I have come, and to glean material for stories.

Though I camp out frequently for spiritual refreshment, or to help a fledgling writer, the movement is ever forward, never in retreat.

Along the way, I leave touchstones to celebrate victories large or small—reminders of why I set out on this crazy venture. Fan mail from students. My first royalty check. A napkin from Cherilyn’s launch party. The blue star Miss Downer gave me in kindergarten for my retelling of “I Saw a Ship A-Sailing.”

Single-minded as a foot soldier along a straight, solid Roman road, on the
foundation laid by writers who marched before us, I keep marching.

Step by step, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page after page, chapter after chapter, to completion of another book.

And another. And another.

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. Read More 

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