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.

Saving Atlantis has Arrived!!!

Saving Atlantis has Arrived!!!

It’s here!

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Until I had the books in my hands, I worried that Saturday morning would come and I wouldn’t have any books to sell! But fear not, Meradith from Troy Book Makers did everything in her power to get my book on time. I highly recommend her and the company!

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Meradith from Troy Book Makers! Everyone knows they have to take a photo with me!

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Karen, one of my prestigious proofreaders and inspiration for mother of Rose wore her special Atlantis t-shirt. I can always count on her to go all in!

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Iris inspired the Cuban food gathering in Saving Atlantis. Food heals and brings family together.

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So now the fun begins. There are many opportunities to get a copy of your book, and I want to support independent bookstores. Purchase a copy of Saving Atlantis or Shimmer’s Eggs between September 21 and October 5, take a photo of you with either book outside the independent bookstore so its name is visible. Share on my Facebook page Instagram or Twitter with hashtag #savingatlantisindiebookpromo and your name will be entered into a drawing to win one of two puzzles.

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Win 110 piece puzzle! #savingatlantisindiebookpromo
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2nd chance to win Shimmer’s Eggs 110 piece puzzle! #savingatlantisindiebookpromo

Check out the many opportunities to get your copy. I hope to see you at one of my events. Thank you to everyone who has helped me fulfill my dream of writing and sharing my adventurous stories!

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Please remember that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. Part of my mission as a writer is to share hope for anyone going through a life-threatening illness or loss. No matter where you are there is hope. Partial proceeds from all my book sales benefit Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, which emotionally and financially supports children with cancer.

 

Book Release–Saving Atlantis!

Book Release–Saving Atlantis!

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The Puzzle Quests: Saving Atlantis is on its way! Book release date is September 21! Pre-orders are available on my website at www.janinedetilliocammarata.com. Free poster with the first 100 orders!

I have quite a few book events/signings, as well as writing events at area schools and the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library with more coming. All are listed on my website, but here is a Save the Date list.

Market Block Books
Saturday, September 22 from 11am-1pm
Arts Center of the Capital District
Business of Art–Extended Series
9/28-10/14
Public Reception: Friday, September 28 from 6pm-8pm 
Albany Book Festival, SUNY Albany Campus
Saturday, September 29 from 10am-4pm
The Writer’s Journal: School Writing Program
Berlin Middle School
October 23
Berlin High School Featured Speaker
October 23
The Writer’s Journal: School Writing Program
Mechanicville Elementary School
Grades 3-5
November 13, 14, 15
The Glens Falls Chronicle Book Fair
Queensbury Hotel
Sunday, November 4 from 11am-3pm
The Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library
Book Release and Creative Collaboration!
Saturday, December 2 from 1pm-3:30pm
 
If you would like me to come to your school or bookstore for a writing workshop or book signing, please contact me!
 
Look for Facebook Live interviews with my Beta Readers, illustrator, editor, and Rose–the inspiration for the second book in this series. 
 
Thank you for your support!
Janine

Independently Publishing Saving Atlantis

Independently Publishing Saving Atlantis

After 230 hours of writing and editing Saving Atlantis, the second book in The Puzzle Quests series is finished and has gone to production.

These hours didn’t include the multiple meetings with my illustrator, Danielle LeBlanc, 30 beta readers (most were ages 8-12, plus some adults), Karen Knowles, my developmental editor, my fabulous proofreaders, Meradith from Troy Book Makers, and encouraging gatherings with family and friends, especially my husband.

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Rose reaching for a coin to save Atlantis–Illustration by D.M. LeBlanc

Some may call what I do self-publishing, but it takes more than me to publish a book. Yes, I write the words, but it’s like an architect who creates the design and needs the builders to bring it to life. I independently publish my books through my company–Highland Mountain Publishing.

Now graphic designer, Meradith Kill, at Troy Book Makers will take the beautiful water color illustration from Danielle (more to come in another blog on her process) and create the cover and interior layout.

Then I will review a proof of the actual book to check for any mistakes and make sure I’m happy with the results. From there it gets printed and bound. The whole process from when the manuscript goes to the printer and the copies are into my hands can take 6-10 weeks.

Writing a book is filled with thrills, adventure, wonder, unexpected joys, doubts, tears, laughter, and finally relief. It takes a village to write a book, and I am fortunate to have a beautiful office this summer to write.

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If you think I can relax and watch my flowers grow, think again! Now is book promotion time: contacting bookstores for signings, developing a marketing plan, setting up pre-sales, and arranging school writing workshops in the fall. Even this I don’t do alone. Nate DeSalvatore is my summer intern. He is going to college to be a graphic designer. Look for his new website design and updates soon on how you can get my latest book!

Join my mailing list to get my list of events.

Save the dates (more to come):

September 28–Opening Show at The Arts Center of the Capital Region

September 29–Albany Book Festival Signing and children’s writing workshop

December 2–Book Launch at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library

Independently Yours!

Janine

 

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!