Meet RJ Mirabal, Rio Grande’s Author, Retired Teacher, Rider, Musician.

 

read-tell

RJ Mirabal, Southwest Contemporary Fantasy author of The Tower of Il Serrohe, a retired award-winning teacher of  Los Lunas High School in New Mexico, is with us today. Former president and rally chairman of the Land of Enchantment BMW Riders, RJ remains active in the club. RJ is a board member of the New Mexico Dulcimer Association which puts on a yearly dulcimer music festival.

 

RJ Mirabal, Southwest Author of The Tower of Il Serrohe

“People tend to put themselves in little groups and the groups come into conflict with each other… I think people from different cultures are a bit suspicious of each other. The clans in the book have some elements of New Mexico, but they are also universal; they could be from any part of the world.”

Hello RJ, thank you so much for visiting. First, congratulations for the accolades from your readers so far. They’re all fascinated by your home the Middle Rio Grande Valley, where you have lived most of your life. Please share this this place with us.

The Middle Rio Grande Valley is located in New Mexico midway on its journey from the Rockies of Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico. The river itself is small in terms of volume, but rather exotic as it works its way through mountains, across deserts, and deep canyons all while nurturing its bosque: a narrow band of mostly cottonwood trees, willow bushes, and countless species of plant and animal life. I grew up along the Rio Grande in the small towns of Peralta and Los Lunas and couldn’t think of any better setting for my writing.

You are a retired teacher of the award-winning Los Lunas High School. Come tell us about this school and your time there.

My life’s work was teaching high school students English, Speech, and Drama in Los Lunas, New Mexico. I enjoyed the challenge of helping students communicate more effectively and explore their world. The difficulty was getting students to appreciate their role in their own education. I was able to succeed some of the time, but I occasionally wonder about those I couldn’t reach. I was active in the National Education Association (NEA) at the local level because teachers have to have an equal voice in the direction of education in America. I was humbled when I earned the NEA-New Mexico Excellence in Education award in 2006 two years before I retired.

That’s wonderful! Congratulations!

And past president and rally chairman of the Land of Enchantment BMW Riders, you’ve remains active in the club. How nice! Share with us your adventures with the club.

Being able to ride throughout this beautiful state, country, and world on a motorcycle is an experience for which I’ll always be grateful. And the people I’ve worked and ridden with are among the best!

After retiting, you have pursued writing and music. Playing the hammered dulcimer is a big interest for you and you’re a board member of the New Mexico Dulcimer Association which puts on a yearly dulcimer music festival. Tell us about playing hammered dulcimer, and the music festival.

Hammer DulcimerThe hammered dulcimer is a rather unique and little known instrument of ancient origins. It has a very charming and exciting sound because, coupled with the singing strings, there’s a strong percussive element that makes playing and listening great fun. Our New Mexico Dulcimer Festival is a wonderful opportunity for many people to learn more and appreciate the beauty of these unique instruments including the mountain dulcimer which is actually a different instrument.

You enjoy exploring New Mexico’s wilderness areas on his four-wheeler and travelling with your wife, Cheryl. When you’re not writing or promoting your book, you explore back roads and wilderness trails throughout the state on your Polaris RZR four-wheeler. Tell us more about the wilderness trails and the four-wheeler. Which one interest you the most? The wilderness or having fun with the car?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth the 4wheeler (which is something like a micro-Jeep with a motorcycle engine) and the wilderness are equally attractive. It’s great to get away from civilization and humanity to simply enjoy nature. It’s also fun to go fast, climb hills, and cross difficult terrain. It’s a wonderful blend of the man-made and God-made. Of course, I also believe in preserving the environment and sticking to official trails so wildlife can go about its business without some crazy guy on a Polaris RZR (the brand of 4wheeler I ride) disrupting their day!

What a way to enjoy life! Now tell us about your novel The Tower of Il Serrohe. What compelled you to write this book?

The Tower of Il Serrohe is the result of a lifelong interest in fantasy and fiction stories that have unexpected plot twists. I also wanted to place the story in the landscape of the Southwest where I grew up and now live. It’s fun to find mystery and wonder in the “ordinary” places of our everyday lives. Thus I call it a Southwest contemporary fantasy.

Fantastic! Would you be so kind to tell us about The Tower of Il Serrohe?

Wrenched from a deteriorating lifestyle when his promiscuous wife kicked him out, anti-hero Don Vargas rents a dilapidated casita which – unknown to him, of course – is actually a portal to another world. Vargas takes readers through a dusty portal on a Southwest contemporary fantasy quest into a larger-than-life alternate Rio Grande Valley, where local clanspeople expect him to save them from the wily Soreyes’ mysterious Tower.

Will Don find purpose to his pointless life? Will he find love and friendship in a place he wouldn’t have believed possible? Where will his next beer come from?

The Tower of Il Serrohe front cover final

The Tower of Il Serrohe follows the misadventures of Don Vegas—who reluctantly passes through a portal—on a quest to help the clans of the Valle Abajo, a valley in another dimension that resembles the Rio Grande Valley of present-day New Mexico.

 

Please share your favourite paragraph in this book.

This paragraph ends chapter “fifty two” summing up the nature of Don’s personality and still to be revealed abilities to take on the quest to save the clans of the Valle Abajo. It also makes me laugh visualizing it:

“His (Don’s) departure seemed to create an enormous vacuum in the room. The two clanspeople (Raquela and Nersite) felt this was the closing of a big circle. Don had to be the one to save the Valle. Just look at his heritage and his abilities. That is, in spite of the fact—though they had no word for it—he seemed to be a bit of a prick.”

How long did it take you to write this first volume, RJ?

In total from initial idea and a couple of short stories that gave birth to the much more complex novel it took 30 years to complete this story. Of course, I wasn’t working on it that whole time. I actually spent the last three years writing, editing, and then getting it published by 2012. But the story ideas and my writing style improved over those years. I, of course, read continually taking inspiration and tips from every author I read.

 “The places and the people are fully realized and totally involving, and become friends you want to continue to know.”

How real are your characters?

Some of my characters are obviously fantasy, but based on interesting human peculiarities of most every person I’ve ever met. Even Don, though a regular human, is not based on any one person, but a collection of individuals I’ve known and other characters I’ve encountered in literature. I’ve tried hard to “test” my characters—even the fantasy ones—against reality so that I hope readers will find them believable given the setting and plot I’ve created.

RJ, you have said,  “People tend to put themselves in little groups and the groups come into conflict with each other… I think people from different cultures are a bit suspicious of each other. The clans in the book have some elements of New Mexico, but they are also universal; they could be from any part of the world.” What message would you tell the world? Does this book have an agenda?

The message is: “All of what we perceive to be reality is a function of our perception which is informed by our normal senses and our emotional and philosophical states of being.” And, as always: evil is bad, kindness is good, and love is essential to life.

No big agenda other than entertaining my readers who will share in my imagination as they read the book.

On the sequel, do you accommodate fans’ requests on your sequel?

I’m trying, but I’m taking some risks, too. I can’t be specific because I like readers to be surprised when they read my work. The main thing is that the story continues. I had originally intended this to be a self-contained story, but I’m enjoying the challenge of developing the story and characters further.

Why is this sequel a must-read?

I want readers to learn more about the clanspeople and the evil Soreyes. Plus, I love sharing more about the landscape.

What is the proposed title, RJ? And how did you come up with this title?

The title is: “Extreme Dust Storms May Exist”. This title is a slight variation of a very strange sign near the setting of the novel along the highway past the real Los Lunas (Rio Luna in the book). Dust and dust storms are a constant reality in New Mexico plus the implications of dust and wind play a part in the story. Also there is a key event at the beginning of the story that involves a dust storm.

Right. In Australia it will be a sign of extreme fire danger 🙂 

When is the proposed release date of this sequel? Tell us your latest news.

No idea on a release date. I’m still working on the first draft and haven’t sent it to my publisher to gauge his interest in publishing it. I’m continuing to market and publicize The Tower of Il Serrohe by attending book fairs, signings, presentations to the Southwest Writers (my professional writing association) and doing media interviews like this!

Good luck with your marketing efforts! About writing. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of a good fantasy?

A good fantasy has to take the reader away from the “real world” into a place and events that fascinate, hence the term: fantasy. Yet at the same time, the world and characters of the fantasy story has to be believable and follow its own internal rules and the normal rules of what it means to be a human being. If a character is totally out of the realm of humanity, then we can’t relate and the story loses relevance.

When did you first know you just had to write?

When I was a kid, I used to entertain my friends making up stories as we rode the bus to school and back home. I didn’t know that meant I was to be an author, but that’s where the impulse started. Plus, I’m an only child, so I had to create stories when I played since I didn’t have siblings.

RJ, you said, “When you have a story, once you’ve developed it into a manuscript, get an editor.  No matter how good you think you are, you’re not. Somebody else should look at it who knows what they are doing. You need to have people read what you’ve written, especially people who will be honest.” Now, how did being an English teacher prepare you for criticism?

Being a teacher prepares one  for all kinds of criticism from students, parents, administrators, politicians, media pundits, etc. Since I graded writing for a living, it’s not hard putting myself at the receiving end of criticism. I actually welcome it as long as it’s honest and constructive.

How much do you have in common with your protag?

Few of Don’s major characteristics are shared with me such as alcoholism, constant cynicism, being so out-spoken, etc. It was a great challenge to create and maintain a persona very different from me. However, some of the small ways and things that annoy him annoy me, too. Nersite is most like me in my opinion.

Tell us a bit about who and what matters to you.

My wife, my late parents, and the great family of friends I have are most important. Also, enjoying life and spending most of my time doing what is fulfilling to me. I enjoy some attention, but not a lot. I would like more attention paid to my writing which is what I’m working on now.

Yes, I can see you are a very people person with real interest in those around you. Thank you so much for the wonderful chat, RJ. Best wishes on writing Extreme Dust Storms May Exist!

And readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting RJ Mirabal. He can be found on  rjmirabal.com  or his current main site rjmirabal.blog.com. Check out the latest news from RJ on Facebook,  Google Plus, and  Goodreads. RJ’s book The Tower of Il Serrohe is available from Amazon.com and  Barnes and Noble . I will let you know when the sequel will be available.

What readers say on The Tower of Il Serrohe:

  • Mirabal does a fine job of capturing the spirit of the Rio Grande Valley and transporting you to a new dimension with likable characters… What a fresh style for fantasy.

  • Man, Mirabal sure has some imagination! … I was able to picture so much of it in my mind, even the house north of Rio Luna. The map was a great idea and helped me with my vision as I read.

  • A fascinating journey to the desserts of New Mexico and the alternate world that parallels it. The whimsical characters remind me of the Hobbit, only with a New Mexico twist. Mirabal’s descriptions of New Mexico sunrises and sunsets are beautiful…The mystery of the other world is carried through to the surprise end, and a satisfying conclusion that stays long after you put the book down.

  • This book creates a solid new world with the feel of the Southwest, and yet with a difference: The alternate world is strange but haunting—and mysterious. Like the protagonist, you sometimes wonder whether it is real or just hallucinatory. But then, when you get to an explanation of sorts—WOW. Totally unexpected and made me rethink—and want to reread it all.

 

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Meet Jacky Gray—British Author of YA adventure novels “Hengist: People of The Horse”

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Meet Jacky Gray,  British author of YA adventure novels in the Hengist: People of The Horse chronicles. Jacky has extensive experience in software writing and teaching maths in high school. Her  first career was engineering and after 23 years writing software for telephone exchanges, she spent 13 years teaching children, occasionally introducing them to the delights of mathematics. She lives in the Midlands with her husband and three children, where she watches a lot of movies and some great TV shows like Merlin, Robin Hood, Dr Who, Ashes to Ashes and Being Human. She also listens to a lot of Journey and Queen and reads (apologies to the adverb police) voraciously, in addition to the names above: Preston/Child, Wilbur Smith and recently George RR Martin.

 

Jacky Gray, British author of Archer, first book in Hengist: People of The Horse

Jacky Gray, British author of Archer, first book in Hengist: People of The Horse



Hello Jacky, thank you for stopping by! Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of Archer?

Archer – One boy’s fight against adversity to find friendship, romance and the generosity to love his enemy.

How real are your characters?

Archer is like another son—as are Reagan, Slater and Geraint. Being a high-school teacher has given me plenty of role models to help all the characters seem like modern-day teens.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? When did you first know you just had to write?

Kevin Hicks was the bowman at Warwick Castle for over a decade. When I watched him firing 100 arrows in rapid succession through a loop of rope, approximately the size of a human head, it woke up the warrior buried deep within me. By the time I reached home that night, Archer was born, initially in a military thriller as the thirty-year-old bodyguard to a girl who could read people’s auras.

 I have been writing since I was about twelve—my first full length novel was based on a dream I had when I was 18—it took over 30 years until I published it.

But your perseverance has brought novels that will delight teens who are your target audience. How long did it take you to write the first book?

Archer took 18 days from start to finish—the words just tumbled out every night starting about 10pm and going on until 3 or 4 the next morning. The weird thing was that when I got up the next day and started researching what I had written about, it was all backed up by websites and experts in the various fields.

And hence the believable fantasy, as if they are real people and real events! How did you come up with the title?

Each book in the series is named after the protagonist—each boy has very different personality and skills. The sub-title “Hengist: The People of the Horse” refers to the fictitious people who live in a parallel universe where there is no electricity, computers or cars.

What is your favorite part in the book?

Catching hold of Patricia’s arm, Archer tried to think of something smart to say. In an instant that seemed to last an eternity, she glanced down at her arm; then up into his face. Her expression reflected extreme distaste; although he couldn’t for the life of him think of anything he had done to deserve it.

The right words would not surface and those that did tumbled out involuntarily. ‘Don’t you want to kiss the May King for luck?’

Her look seared his fingers on her arm with a frostbite so intense he had no choice except to release her. ‘I think the May King’s lips are still wet with the kisses of his adoring subjects.’

 

ARCHER: One boy’s fight against adversity to find friendship, romance and the generosity to love his enemy.

ARCHER: One boy’s fight against adversity to find friendship, romance and the generosity to love his enemy.

 

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

Bernard Cornwell—he will always be the Master for me – his ability to transport readers back to bygone times is inspirational. I have also learnt a lot about creating realistic, engaging characters from Stephen King, Jodi Picoult and Stephenie Meyer and about credible, fascinating settings from JK Rowling and Suzanne Collins. For the leanest, meanest writing style and an enduring, character-driven action series, I am smitten with Lee Child.

What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

Archer is like another son—as are Reagan, Slater and Geraint and Rory is another daughter. Every minute I spend in the company of my extended family is absolute joy—I love to watch their lives unfold and share in their adventures. The challenge is to tell their stories in a way that other people can enjoy them as much as I do and the hardship is in coming back to spend time in the real world. If I could, I would spend every minute of every day writing, but unfortunately I have to earn a crust and my family do appreciate the odd minute or two of my attention, especially around Christmas and Easter.

I can relate to that. I hope one day soon you can write full time. Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

My very first supporter was my daughter Jo—she gave me so much confidence at the beginning. Several dozen people since then have given me plenty of support and encouragement, but the biggest compliment are the amazing comments from other writers – particularly the kind words from the ABNA competitors.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

The sixth book kinda finished itself on a serious cliff-hanger. I now have to wait for some free time so Aurora and Archer can tell me how this adventure concludes. It may be book number seven, or it could be that book six goes super-size.  

Have fun writing all that! And how do you see writing, Jacky? Why?

Writing is a way of life. It gives me more joy than anything else I could do (even dancing). I would love to spend every day of my life writing or promoting my books.  

May you wish come true soon!

 

AveburyStones2

“Archer has the same bad time at school that I did, digging deep inside to find the courage to survive the torment. Like me, he never fitted in and relies on himself to fight the demons that plague him, but it doesn’t stop him from helping people or trying to be honourable and do the right thing.”

 

How much do you have in common with your protag?

Everything. Archer has the same bad time at school that I did, digging deep inside to find the courage to survive the torment. Like me, he never fitted in and relies on himself to fight the demons that plague him, but it doesn’t stop him from helping people or trying to be honourable and do the right thing.

That’s beautiful, Jacky.

What are your hobbies?

Reading, walking in nature and any kind of live entertainment (especially theatre and rock bands). Watching movies and well-written TV shows, exploring the country, particularly historical/spiritual sites. And if I don’t have music playing, I’m quite sure my life will end.

What is your other profession? When do you find the time to write?

I teach high school mathematics, but for the past few years this has only been part-time, allowing me to focus on writing the rest of the time. It has been bliss, but I started a new full-time job in March so there is way less time to write. L  The good thing is, this job is encouraging reluctant readers to read—awesome! 🙂

Tell us a bit about who or/and what matters to you.

Showing respect and taking responsibility. Whether it is respect for yourself, another person or animal or the world around you is immaterial—I grieve for how little respect is shown in today’s self-centred, throwaway society. If everyone would take responsibility for their own actions instead of trying to blame someone else when things go wrong, it would be much easier to live in a state of joyful harmony.

A caring soul. Good on you, Jacky! Now, any tips for us on reading and/or writing?

Read everything you can get your hands on in your genre so you know what’s out there, and can find out what works for you and what doesn’t. More importantly, read outside your genre—there are always lessons to be learnt about how to write good/bad characters, scenes and dialogue.

Listen to the way people speak and read your whole manuscript out loud (not just the dialogue). If you feel uncomfortable saying it, your readers will feel uncomfortable reading it.

Write a little bit every day—even if it’s just a few lines, it’s good to do something that is creative and brings you joy.

And yours is one that is sure to bring joy to your target audience! Well done Jacky, and thank you so much for the chat.

 

RORY: How a naïve stranger can rise above his aggressors  and teach them about courage and honour. REAGAN: The chosen boy who decodes the mysteries of  white horses, crop circles and ley lines to save his people.

RORY: How a naïve stranger can rise above his aggressors and teach them about courage and honour.
REAGAN: The chosen boy who decodes the mysteries of white horses, crop circles and ley lines to save his people.

 

Readers, I hope you have enjoyed meeting Jacky. Come visit her website, blog, book trailer, video interviews on Archer  and on Rory.

Click here for her to buy her paperback or eBook  from Amazon UK, paperback or eBook from Amazon US, or from Barnes & Noble.

And now my mini review of the first book in the Hengist series:

Archer, reviewed by Ia Uaro of www.sydneyssong.net

WHBlaise5bTitle: Archer

Subtitle: Hengist: People of The Book

Author: Jacky Gray, ISBN: 978-1446150191

Archer is an orphan teen with special gifts. He is stronger and faster than other boys his age, and a champ at sword fights and shooting arrows. His personality and abilities win him female interest, but also jealousy from an ardent competitor who, for years, tries his best to give Archer a hard time.

Archer is the first book of the refreshing YA adventure novels Hengist: People of The Horse. Set in a new parallel world which is a mixture of the Middle Ages and modern England, these chronicles follow the lives of Archer and his friends as they go to compete in jousting and shooting arrows like medieval knights at Beltane, the Festival of the May, in well-executed exhilarating action-packed and fun-packed scenes.

This series comes from an author who has spent three decades writing software and teaching maths at high school, and it looks like these experiences have greatly shaped her habits, including in writing. Her flow of thoughts is systematic, the settings and the characters are well detailed, and her presentation of the story is very clear. You get immersed in the engaging storyline instead of trying to figure out what she’s trying to say. There isn’t a single confusing moment, even as she teaches us new vocabulary, fascinating historical details, and the intricate arts and fun of jousting and archery that make you see these characters and events.

ARCHER is a well-researched book that will entertain its teen target while showing them an example of honorable attitude.

 

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Meet Matt Posner, Author of the Shocking “THE PARING KNIFE”

 

Read & Tell

 

My guest today is Matt Posner, another author of the fabulous Carnival of Cryptids. Author of sevral books, Matt is a writer and an English teacher from New York City, where he is also a performing poet and percussionist with The Exploration Project, New York’s premier avant-garde multimedia club band.

 

matt posner headshot

Matt Posner, author of “The Paring Knife”:
I want my writing to change lives for the better. I want to be entertaining, but I also want the reader to feel more at ease with the universe.

Thanks for having me, Ia. I’m here today to promote Kindle All-Stars 2:  Carnival of Cryptids. It’s an anthology featuring short stories by seven up-and-coming independent authors, selected and introduced by our leader, kick-ass author and kick-ass cop Bernard Schaffer. Cryptids are mysterious creatures suspected but never proven to exist, like Bigfoot or Loch Ness monster, or your homeland’s equivalents, Yowie and Bunyip. Buyers of this anthology get a dual benefit. They get the stories, which are all suspenseful narratives by publishing professionals, and they get their full purchase price donated to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a magnificent charity here in the United States.

Carnival of CryptidsCOMING SOON

Carnival of Cryptids. Proceeds from this book will go to
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

 

Hello Matt, what a noble endeavor! And what a fantastic collection; I am deeply impressed by the high quality of every story in Carnival of Cryptids. Could you please let our readers know about your contribution to this anthology?

I wrote a story called “The Paring Knife,” and I am helming the publicity campaign for the book.

Would you be so kind to give them a one-sentence synopsis of “The Paring Knife”?

It’s a dark underground cooking TV show in which some of the ingredients are cryptids and the losers get attacked by children with knives.

How real are your characters?

They are modeled on the people I see on Food Network and The Cooking Channel. Not on specific people, just on the various types who are there. If you watch competitive cooking, you will find a lot you recognize.

Yes, your characters marvelously represent those in real TV shows. Great observation!

Who or what inspired you to write this story?

Since I was in Kindle All-Stars: Resistance Front, I’ve made it my ambition to be a part of the regular roster for the series. I was happy Bernard Schaffer picked cryptids as a theme, since I have been studying them since childhood.

How long did it take you to write The Paring Knife?

I started it in July and submitted it at the end of October. I was stuck at the end of the second round of competition for a while, not sure who would be eliminated or why.

But you ended up with such a shocking, delightful story. Man… I’ll never eat pakoras again! But you must be a wicked cook. How did you come up with the title?

I wanted something that featured both the idea of elimination of contestants (paring away) and contained the menace inherent in the situation (losers are attacked with knives).

Brilliant! And what is your favorite part in the story?

I mock one of 2011’s bestselling novels at a certain spot. I like that part.

I noted that! Perhaps you mocked more than its title, I wouldn’t know though.

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

I read voraciously growing up, so there are really far too many to name or even recall. Every time I think I have that nailed down, I remember another one I should have mentioned. So for variety’s sake, I’ll say which authors I really DON’T like:  Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, William Golding, and Virginia Woolf (barf!)

Hahahaha… In my country of birth I chose science, and am I glad we were never forced to read books we didn’t want to read 🙂 How about writing? What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

Writing—I think I have that figured out. It’s marketing myself that is the challenge now. I wish I had a marketing degree.

Looks like effective marketing is either costly or time-consuming; a real challenge for me too as I must focus on my family first. I wish you success in your effort. Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

My beloved wife Julie makes me a functional human being. Having read Sydney’s Song, I know you know what it’s like to feel someone completes you that way.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

I’m working on School of the Ages:  Simon Myth. It’s the fourth book in my series. It’s damn hard to finish because my plotline has turned out to be unreasonably ambitious. I hope I can finish it before the summer.

Do you see writing as a career or distraction? Why?

I’m a professional teacher. I have a union job. I wouldn’t give that up unless I had just ridiculous amounts of money rolling in. Is writing a distraction? No, it isn’t that either. I think about writing all the time and I am constantly getting ideas with no time to execute them. Even when I went on European vacation last time, I wrote as much fiction and nonfiction as I could.

Yes, it was in your third School of the Ages: The War Against Love. I will include my review on that one at the end of this interview so our readers can learn more about the series.
How much do you have in common with your protag?  

As far as “The Paring Knife” is concerned, it’s the script of a TV cooking show, so it doesn’t precisely have a protagonist. Instead, I used the story as a chance to be much more vicious and wicked to my characters than I would ever be to real people—and to be funny doing it.

As far as the protagonist of the School of the Ages series, Simon, I have a lot in common with him.  I was a dark-minded brooder when I was his age. The difference is that he’s heroic and bold, and I never was those things.

That’s the joy of writing, isn’t it? One of my best friends was always a shooting champ in her writings, because in real life she never won the first place. What are your hobbies?

Book promotion has mostly replaced my old hobbies. I still like to go to art museums. Julie and I travel, especially overseas, when we can afford it. We are also movie and TV aficionados, seeking out not only the standard Hollywood fare, but also great foreign, independent, and older movies.

Book promo! My family is allergic to that, so I’m done with methods that don’t work to be with them. Good luck with your effort though. And give us a shout whenever you’ll visit Aussieland. Foreign movie? Check out Intouchables if you haven’t seen it.

Tell us a bit about who or/and what matters to you.

I wish I could do something to get the generation of students I am teaching to value and enjoy reading. What’s most frustrating is their almost instantaneous rejection of things that are not in their immediate world-view, and their experience of reading as a difficult, burdensome task to which most anything else is preferable. I wish I could change all that.

That is sad. My daughter’s friend wrote recently that a boy’s best friend is no longer a dog. It’s now a computer, where he mostly play games such that kids in non English-speaking countries don’t know how to write in their native alphabets anymore. But I noted you always make sure your writing is something that kids will find entertaining. What is important for your readers to know about you? Why?

I am friendly to readers and happy to hear from them about my work. Don’t be shy about writing to me. You’ll make me smile like a proud papa.

I want my writing to change lives for the better. I want to be entertaining, but I also want the reader to feel more at ease with the universe.

Any tips for us on reading and/or writing?

Do both as often as you can. Writing:  try to be interesting. If you aren’t feeling it, your readers won’t. There are things that work and things that don’t work, but the words you don’t like writing, no one will like reading.

Thank you so much Matt, that’s a precious advice.  Thanks for visiting and sharing with us. And oh, as regard The Parting Knife, tell your Belinda to use fresh lime leaves to eliminate any meat smell before or during processing 🙂  No other citrus will do—I even grow a lime tree for its leaves.

 

Schoof of the Ages

Matt’s books are available for Kindle from all Amazon bookstores and also for Nook. In India, the School of the Ages series is sold exclusively by Times Group Books in their online venues or in bookstores.

 

My mini review of The Paring Knifeimages (1)

Three very experienced chefs are invited to show off their culinary skills in the Underground Food Challenge at the Underground Food Network. As in your usual real-TV cooking show, these contestants are given unexpected surprise ingredients to work with; but unlike your usual show, Matt Posner has invented creatures man wasn’t supposed to know, and you’d never guess what’s going to happen.

Whipped up with clever details by a teacher who obviously enjoys cooking, THE PARING KNIFE is gross and shocking. You will laugh, but first you will cringe. Bon appétit!

 

 And here’s what I reviewed a few months ago: 

School of the Ages: The War Against Love

A grim YA Urban Fantasy, this entertaining read is the 3rd in The School of the Ages series.

Brilliant young wizard student Simon and his friend Goldberry must face dangerous, vicious foe after vicious foe right from the start to the end, starting from the attack by Nazi magicians in New York and on to new villains in Europe as they travel with their mentor Dr. Solomon Archer. Along the way, love happens too, in the form of a tempestuous beauty who is the daughter of the all-powerful Arch-Mage of Prague, which brings further threats of life-threatening dangers and devastating loss. In the end the student wizards, along with their friends and teachers, must face their most formidable enemy.

In this meticulously plotted book Posner has deftly developed memorable main and supporting characters from diverse cultural backgrounds. In this book we learn about Simon’s family, his grandmother, and his intriguing new friends and his remorseless enemies.

THE WAR AGAINST LOVE is a well-written action-packed majestic epic of romance and feud with a message of tolerance, written by an author who has worked closely with his audience and understands them well.

 

Check out Matt’s website schooloftheages.webs.com. Follow him on Facebook,  Twitter @schooloftheages and Pinterest. Matt is also a goodreads author. 

 

 

Meet Jeff Provine, Author of “Where is Captain Rook?”

Read & Tell

 

Carnival of Cryptids, an exciting fantasy anthology, is about to hit the market, and I have been honoured to read its preview. In the coming weeks, every Aussie Saturday, I will post an interview with each of the book’s seven awesome contributing authors along with my mini review. However, due to the recent Australia Day, this first entry only is out on an Australian Monday.

Carnival of CryptidsCOMING SOON

Carnival of Cryptids
COMING SOON

 

My first guest is Jeff Provine from Norman, Oklahoma, author of “Where is Captain Rook?”

 

 

Jeff Provine, author of DAWN ON THE INFINITY and WHERE IS CAPTAIN ROOK -"I find meaning in accomplishing things, which keeps me busy trying to start, work on, and complete projects.

Jeff Provine —
author of DAWN ON THE INFINITY and WHERE IS CAPTAIN ROOK?—
“I find meaning in accomplishing things, which keeps me busy trying to start, work on, and complete projects.”

 

Hello Jeff, thank you for visiting with us. Would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of “Carnival of Cryptids”?

Carnival of Cryptids gives seven stories about creatures man was never meant to know.

 

How real are your characters?

My characters are larger than life, but show their human weakness.  I started from the genre of pulp with an adventurer, and the sense of awesomeness definitely carries through with the crafty native and the dashing hero.
What inspired you to write this short story? When did you know you just had to write about Mapinguari?

I’ve always been fascinated by the cryptid I chose, the mylodon or giant ground sloth.  I remember seeing a picture of it in an ancient mammals children’s book I had as a kid, and I’ve never lost my fascination with this enormous yet seemingly gentle creature.  Whenever I heard more stories about it, such as conquistadors supposedly fighting one, my interest grew.  When the cryptid theme was given, I knew immediately what I wanted to write about.

 

How long did it take you to “Where’s Captain Rook?”

I worked on prewriting for about two weeks from initial idea to a mental draft.  The first story I had in mind was nothing like the result: the protagonist changed, the theme deepened, and the twist appeared.  When I had it all mapped out, I sat down and hammered out the story in a long afternoon.  It was such a wonderful feeling to end the day having created something.

And having created something worth reading at that!

How did you come up with the title?

The story needed something memorable and pulpy but not as garish as “The Adventure of the so-and-so.”  Using the first line of “Where is Captain Rook?” proved excellent as the now-first line became a haunting, “He’s dead.”

Hey, we have something in common in that!  I picked most of my chapter titles the same way.

Tell me your favorite line in this story. 

I love the conclusion hinting that the magic of the Amazon had something to do with causing World War II.  “Wars need rubber.”

Thank you Jeff. 

Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

Jules Verne and H.G. Wells have always been great influences to me.  I love Verne’s attention to detail, explaining how an 1860s submarine worked, down to the chemistry of its electrical system.  His adventure stories really showed me how to plot.  Wells’ variety of topics and exploration of reasonable outcomes from fanciful “what ifs” are great.  Establish the rules of the world, and the reader will trust you no matter how weird the bug-aliens of the Moon are.

And you sure have the vivid imagination to support that!

What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

Writing always struck me as the same as the old actor’s adage, “If you don’t have to do it, don’t.”  It’s not easy.  Sitting at a screen typing for hours or writing by hand until you get cramps is tough, but there is no deeper sense of completion I’ve ever felt than finishing a story.  It’s the good kind of tired where, at the end of the day, you look back over your handiwork and smile.

Congratulations on completing this short story!

Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

My friends have always been great encouragement simply by listening to my “crazy ideas” whenever I have them.  They’re a great set of sounding boards and make me question it from every direction to understand fully my own seedling of an idea.  My best friend Chad, an engineer, and my wife, Courtney, a writing major, are two of the best for coming up with new angles.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

Whenever possible, I’m continually at work on my Alternate History blog and my  web comic.  I’m hoping to complete both by this summer, editing and compiling This Day in Alternate History into a single collection and relaunching The Academy with “director’s commentary” on the process of web comic creation.

How do you see writing, Jeff?

If anything, I see it most as a way of life.  It doesn’t pay the bills, but I’ve always hoped it would.  Someday my life dream is to just sit and make stuff up all day, every day.

With your imagination and talent, I’d say keep going! A lot of people are sure to find your work entertaining.
Now, how much do you have in common with your protagonist Paulo?

We’re both meek, but we plan for the long game in a tricksterly fashion.

That cunning twist at the end! Never saw that coming 🙂

What are your hobbies?

Writing, definitely.  On top of that, I like building things, remodeling, and watching tons and tons of movies.

Movies? With your imagination, I guess it’s worth taking up screenwriting to entertain more fans. Check out “The Screenwriter’s Roadmap”, highly recommended. What is your other profession, by the way? When do you find the time to write?

I teach college Composition courses as well as other classes I have developed, such as the History of Comics and Comic Books and a biography of Charlie Chaplin.  I write before class, after class, on days off, evening, and pretty much any time I don’t have something else scheduled.

 

Tell us a bit about who or/and what matters to you.

I got married a month ago, and Courtney’s definitely a major part of my life.  Things are just better when she’s around.  I think spirituality and morality are two of the most important things in anyone’s life.  Personally, I find meaning in accomplishing things, which keeps me busy trying to start, work on, and complete projects.

What a lovely news! May the best of things happen to you. I’m sending you both a wedding gift to your address—and I’m sure Matt will attest this is the perfect gift for this happy occasion.

 

How has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?

I think it inspires hope.  I’m just an average guy, and if I can sit down and do something I want to do, why can’t they live out their dreams, too?

I agree. We all need a purpose; it’s a great feeling to be looking forward to our tasks.

What one thing is important for your readers to know about you? Why?

Ideas come to me like a little seed popping inside my brain.  “What if this?”  Then, it grows and stretches and consumes until I have to write it out, tell someone, share the seed so it grows beyond me.

 

Any tips for us on reading and/or writing?

Patience, infinite patience.  Sometimes you’re working so hard you can’t stand it; other times you’re waiting for emails to be returned or rejection slips in the mailbox.  Either way, be patient and keep plugging along.

You’re a saint!

Thank you so much for your time, Jeff. And best wishes in all the things that you do.

 

I teach college Composition courses as well as other classes I have developed, such as the History of Comics and Comic Books and a biography of Charlie Chaplin.

I teach college Composition courses as well as other classes I have developed, such as the History of Comics and Comic Books and a biography of Charlie Chaplin.

 

Jeff Provine was raised on a Land Run farm in northwest Oklahoma. He lives with his wife of one month and two kitties in a home he remodeled. Come check out Jeff’s website his ebook  ‘Dawn on the Infinity”his steampunk adventure series of Celestial Voyages.

 

Celestial Voyages: The Moon. Book one by Jeff Provine in his steampunk celestial-adventure series.

Celestial Voyages: The Moon. Book one by Jeff Provine in his steampunk celestial-adventure series.

 

Following is my mini review on “Where is Captain Rook?”

The year is 1938 and jungle guide extraordinaire Paulo Nativo prepares his boat for Captain Rook at the border of the Venezuelan jungle and the wide Amazon River. Upon his arrival, the brash explorer from Chicago announces his destination and the purpose of their expedition, commanding Paulo to take him up the river regardless of the guide’s strong reservations. What dangers await them deep in the jungle?

WHERE IS CAPTAIN ROOK is one fine short story. Provine’s vivid details of the exotic setting and his ability to develop rich characters within the short span as the plot unfolds are engaging.

 

Watch out for the anthology’s release later this week. It’s all for charity, specifically the American’s National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.