Where Did That Come From!?

Where Did That Come From!?

Having a character or a plot twist thrust itself into your story is possibly the best part of being a writer. I love when I’m right in the middle of the scene about dragons and a baby T-Rex who has escaped from home and then bam! a WWII fighter plane shoots across the sky. hellcat

Sometimes it takes me a minute to wonder what is going on? Then I ask the question–why? Why is there a fighter plane in the midst of Dragonia? The dinosaurs may be thinking that their world is once again coming to an end, but perhaps it’s that insufferable evil Lord Tam who has managed to bring a fighter plane through a portal. And if he did, how did he learn how to fly one? Which side was he on in the war? Just how old is Tam?

In his character description, he’s early to mid 30’s, so what’s the deal? That’s when imagination overdrive kicks in. Perhaps Tam and his equally evil twin, Tim, are able to time hop across time and dimensions. So not only can he travel back to current time, but he has lived in multiple previous times. Hence his ability to handle a pirate ship, fly a plane, and zip across the sky on a dragon!

It has a bit of the movie Timeline feel to it, when the archeologists manage to go back in time and send messages to the future. They learn the skills of their medieval world, but have modern technology that keeps them alive.

It’s not to say that the final draft will have this scene or the plane in it, but that’s the point. The first through almost final drafts are meant to play and see the possibilities of what could happen. If we don’t submerge ourselves in the what if’s, then the story may miss an exciting swerve.

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In addition to dinosaurs and fighter planes, I have a feeling the Quetzalcoatlus may show up. If you read book one of The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs, you might remember how this prehistoric bird is Luke’s favorite. Sometimes the reasons are logical.

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Other times it’s because the character is just too cute! In Book Two of The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis, Quinn and Mckenzie’s dog, Cinnamon, comes into the story. I just happened to pick that name, but then I googled cinnamon colored Great Danes and this cutie showed up!

Now Cinnamon is full grown, so this is what he’ll look like:

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Glorious isn’t he? Right now, baby T-Rex has just met Cinnamon. So far they are getting along, but we shall see what each chapter brings.

Exploring, imagining, testing, and taking chances. That’s what writing is all about. Sometimes you have to dive bomb toward the possibilities!

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Sketchy Dinosaurs

Sketchy Dinosaurs

Book Three of The Puzzle Quests: Sketchy Dinosaurs started in November with NanoWrimo. The goal was to write every single day to finish a 50,000 word novel in one month. I reached day 14 with 14,000 words and hadn’t picked up the story until yesterday.

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That’s not to say that I completely forgot about Mark, Boulder, and the wonderful dragons and characters that live in Dragonia. I created my storyboard filled with themes, action/danger points, setting, and of course old and new characters.

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Love doing research!

From the photos and the title, you have probably figured out that book three will include dinosaurs. There were references in Book two–Saving Atlantis with Mark falling into dino poop and taking an interesting rock home with him. References like meteors and large footprints that could only have been made from a T-Rex.

There are a broad spectrum of ideas, and I might have to deal with questions like: Was the Smilodon around during the same time as the T-Rex? How did dinosaurs and dragons actually connect when one is extinct and the other supposedly never existed? How did the dinosaurs get around in Dragonia where there is so much water? How did they even get there? And the biggest question of all–why would my readers care?

I came up with the idea of dinosaurs basically because Mark loved dinosaurs as a child and his nickname was T-Rex. So now I’m developing this entire story to include dinosaurs, so I need to be able to answer these questions, make the answers believable, and continue to create characters and connections that we care about.

Man, I love writing and all the possibilities! I’m excited to get the first draft completed. Until then, read Shimmer’s Eggs and Saving Atlantis to get to know all the fun characters and storylines.

I’ll be at Northshire Bookstore on February 16 for a children’s writing workshop and book signing, beginning at 1pm. My books are available there, in other local bookstores, and on my website www.janinedetilliocammarata.com

Keep reading and writing!

Healing Through Words

Healing Through Words

Today’s book signing at Market Block Books is dedicated to all the children who have lost their lives to cancer and their peers who have been so terribly affected. I think about the siblings, friends, cousins, and fellow classmates who carry the pain and fear of losing someone so young and close to their age. It gives them a hard lesson in mortality at an age when they should be filled with possibilities not finalities.

Children battling cancer or any life-threatening illness suffer from the loss of innocence, structure, playfulness as well as the loss of physical abilities, hair, and possibly having a family of their own.

I write fiction to soften the harshness of these realities and provide hope where it can be tough to find any. Today, two of my beta readers came by and bought books for themselves and friends. (Well their mom did! Thank you, Felicia!) One book was dedicated to Blue Creek school readers in memory of Ben Stowell, an amazing boy who lost his life to cancer. This request made me pause. They would have been too young to know Ben, but their mom makes sure they are aware and know the impact that Ben has on their community. They are affected just knowing that cancer exists.

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But they choose to be positive and raise awareness. Part of my purpose in writing is just what I wrote in the dedication for Ben: “No matter where you are, there is hope.”

No matter how much Rose struggles and screws up her quests in Saving Atlantis, she can always start again and have hope that the next time she will succeed. No matter how much Peter wishes Luke was home with him, he has a family that loves him unconditionally. Through love there is hope.

No matter how much I miss my beauty of a boy, my Nick, children like Rebecca and Mackenzie spread hope by remembering Ben Stowell. I wish the world will one day be free of cancer and that no child will have to suffer. Connections like I have with these two beautiful young ladies carry me through another day.

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September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Awareness to find a cure, safer treatments, and provide emotional support to everyone affected, whether it’s through counseling, supportive gatherings, or a book filled with possibilities.

To everyone who came to my event today, you helped this mission. Thank you.

BookExpo 2018 Review

BookExpo 2018 Review

BookExpo 2018 was a whirlwind of meeting authors and potential publishers, filling bags with complimentary books, seminars, and being inspired. I enjoyed meeting some of the big authors like Kwame Alexander, who is incredibly personable.

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Kwame Alexander and me with my many bags of books!

But the magic and inspiration for me was in meeting the writers who are putting themselves and their stories out there to give back and share hope. The first person I met was WL Hoffman. A science fiction and fantasy writer, he published through a small press and has sold thousands of copies. He was one of the few authors who sold their books at BookExpo. It’s hard to compete with the major publishing companies who hand out thousands of books during this five-day conference, but he has a mission.

That’s why it’s so important to connect with people. As impressed as I was by his personality and display, I was blown away by the publication of his daughter’s first book. Hannah wrote The Portal to Pyranis when she was 11, and she’s doing very well with it.

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There’s a hatching dragon and friends traveling through a portal to adventure! No wonder I would love it. Hannah’s characters, Talia and Billy, could easily join the quest for Shimmer’s Eggs! Not only is Hannah a young and talented writer, but she and her father donate partial proceeds from their book sales to Special Strides, which is a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with special needs. Using words and our experiences to help others holds a dear place in my heart, so feel free to check out their books and support a great organization and family.

I continued to search out the gems and the enthusiastic smaller presses who feel compelled to get their stories out. I literally ran into one of them! Jamiyl Samuels was heading into his booth, and we collided. He handed me his card, told me his family’s story, and I was hooked! He and his wife, Tracy-Ann dreamed up and wrote the story of their son, Amani, who is on the spectrum for autism. He is very smart, but doesn’t like to talk. However, at night he is Awesome Amani, the superhero, who helps others in need.

Raising awareness and fostering growth is a large part of why Jamiyl and Tracy-Ann wrote this book, which is the first in a series. I recommend checking it out and Jamiyl’s other books.

The last very impressive young author I met was Sophia Elaine Hanson, who I guarantee will be well-known. She already is a best-selling author on Amazon.com where she published The Vinyl Trilogy through CreateSpace. Now she is searching for an agent for her next series, and I believe she will find one. She’s only 21, but she is a powerhouse of talent and full of ideas, especially storylines that I love!

As for connections to publish my journaling workshop, I absolutely loved Sounds True Publishers. They publish a ton of books on yoga, but also provide a space for authors to share their stories that help others.

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Books published by Sounds True

My wish is that something can come from this, but I have a lot of work to do. Going to conferences keeps you updated on what is happening in your industry, and hopefully gets you excited about your own work. That definitely happened for me. Journaling is a hot topic right now, and I want to share my stories on how it helped me. I have a long road ahead, but I’m in the right vehicle!

One last bit from BookExpo. Every year they have a buzz about up and coming middle grade, young adult, and adult books that are being shown at the expo. Ones that are chosen to be buzzed about will be published between August 2018 and January 2019. I went to the Middle grade buzz and listened to the editors pitch the winning books.

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Middle Grade Buzz winners

What I learned is that diversity and social issues are important to editors. But even more so, it’s never to late to share your story and be published. The author of Everlasting Nora is a cancer researcher and decided to write this story later in life. Monstrous Devices’ author also started a little bit later than we usually think of debut authors, but it doesn’t matter! If you have a fantastic or special story to tell, write it, and get it out to readers. Whether you do it yourself through independent publishing or through traditional publishers is up to you.

If you want to make your dream a reality, then you have to do the work. Write the best book you can, go to conferences, network, and connect. And never ever give up!

Puzzling Quests

Puzzling Quests

The third draft of book two of The Puzzle Quests is almost complete. Rewriting a book is basically like rearranging  those puzzles where you have to shift one word in order to make a sentence fit. Or slide a paragraph in order to make the whole picture make sense.

This is where I am right now. I have pages printed out and marked up. I have a word document with the actual draft, another with deleted passages (because you never want to permanently delete anything!), another with passages that will go into Mark’s Book Three, and a final one that contains passages based on Peter’s Book Four.

Peter has been a pest with Book Two. Of course he wants to be in the picture, because he has a lot to say about what Rose does. Rose has her moments of jumping into situations, which is why they probably get along so well. It’s more fun when you have someone to get in trouble with!

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Peter and Rose in Cape Cod

For example, Rose doesn’t think about what could happen when she swims off after a monstrous octopus, because he happens to have one of the missing Aegean Sea coins stuck in one of his suckers. Rose knows this coin is one of the five needed to save Atlantis. When the octopus hides between two rocks, Rose doesn’t take no for an answer. We have to applaud Rose for her determination, but sometimes she has to learn to walk away or wait for help.

When the octopus attacks and Rose is caught in its arms, pulling her further and further into the ocean depths, it takes her sea dragon, Sparkle, and the mermaid, Natalia, to save her. She manages to get the coin, but at what expense? Her friends, her life?

For me, writing a magical world is probably the best occupation in the world. I am inpatient like Rose and jump in with both feet. But that’s how I learn what works and doesn’t work. It’s a game of creating, shifting, and puzzling dilemmas. Ones that I hope you will enjoy.

Look for The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis in the Fall of 2018!

 

 

Ask Away!!

Ask Away!!

 

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My favorite part of promoting a new book is connecting with my readers and hearing their questions. I especially love watching kids burst with questions and ideas. The questions they come up with are interesting and sometimes mind boggling, because of their insightfulness.

One of the kids on my husband’s soccer team started reading Shimmer’s Eggs and had a ton of questions for Luke today at his game. Luke said he wished I had gone to the game just so I could answer them for him.

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I want to give kids and anyone who has questions a chance to ask away. Of course, I hope you come to my upcoming book events on November 18 from 3-4:30pm at The Book House at Stuyvesant Plaza. This is a book signing, but you can definitely ask questions and buy a book!

My book launch party will be on December 10 from 1-2:30pm at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. At this event, I will share the inspirations for my book, talk about my writing process, have a group writing adventure, and save a lot of time for questions. You can register for that at www.cphlibrary.org.

But if you absolutely can’t wait to ask a question, there are two ways you can get some answers. The first is to email me at j9camm@gmail.com and follow this blog. I will post the answers here with your questions in the title.

Another place you can ask questions and get the answer is on my Goodreads page. In addition to asking questions, you can check out my other books and until November 30, enter a giveaway to win one of five of my autographed books!

Comments, reviews, suggestions for book two, which I have already started, as well as questions are more than welcome! I look forward to hearing from you!