Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, August 09, 2016 10 comments
with guest author Peggy McAloon

Today I'm talking with guest Peggy McAloon about how her own difficult childhood inspired her to write stories to empower children in difficult circumstances, and give them the joy that can be found in imaginary worlds with heroes much like them.

Tell us a little about the fantasy world you've created.


My goal was to create a world where children would not only feel safe but could imagine themselves visiting. The flowers in the dimension of Fiori are as big as tractor tires and provide a form of entertainment for the inhabitants as they play on swings suspended from the flower petals with spider webbing.

Elle must search for her missing brother 
There are numerous reflection ponds throughout the valley. A massive turquoise bird called a Truero. The Trueros are large enough that the Fiorins and the guides can sit atop them and float on the waters. The ponds in Fiori are alive with brilliant colors. They reflect the crimson, gold, and purple colors of the skies there.

There are fancy parties at Mother Blue’s castle with dancers and acrobats to entertain the guests whenever there's a victory against evil on earth.

The Fiorins who aren’t currently assigned to protect a human child stay in the valley among the flowers until their next assignment.

Guides love riding in a carriage like Cinderella, except these are pulled by a giant Spider instead of horses.

Some things are quite different from life on earth. Miniature house pets that look like our elephants live in many of the houses there.

It’s a magical fairy-tale kind of place, and any child would love to be able to go there. You can float on a Truero on a reflection pond or take a ride on Pegasus into a valley where lions and koala bears live in harmony.

image credit: marcus scott reed for morguefile

What drew you to write for children?


That’s very easy to answer. I was one of those unfortunate kids who suffered abuse as a child. I was threatened not to tell anyone, so my only escape was through books. I loved to enter a fairytale land and pretend I was the princess or float down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn. My reality was too painful for a child to live in, so I used the books at the library to escape my life for hours at a time.

I want to give that same gift to other kids in trouble, but do it in such a way that they can find their courage too.

I worked with a child counselor to put together a discussion sheet so parents can use the characters in the first book in the series to discuss bullying and abuse in a non-threatening way through the characters.

I’m currently working with a teacher to prepare a discussion sheet for “Missing.”

Too many children in the United States and throughout the world continue to be victims of both bullying and abuse. Some of those children will not only try to commit suicide, but they will succeed. Unfortunately, most of the parents who have lost children didn’t know anything was wrong. I’ve blended reality and fantasy in such a way that kids will be more willing to talk about the topics we try to avoid. We can’t afford to do that any longer.

What is your favorite chapter in Missing?


I don’t want to give any spoilers here, so I’ll share that the adult side of me loved the segment where Elle rediscovered her faith.

That said, the little kid who still dwells somewhere deep within me laughed at the part where the class bully, Jimmy Backus, had a run-in with a manure pit.

Is there a message in Missing that you hope your readers will grasp?


The underlying message of this book is to have a kind heart and never to lose faith. We can face nearly insurmountable challenges when we show a caring spirit to ourselves and others.

What was the hardest part of writing Missing and why?


That question is a painful one. This book is the final 100 pages of the original first book plus another one hundred and fifty pages.

I wrote the first book and was accepted by a publisher willing to work with me. Shortly before Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals was to be published, I learned the publisher intended to sell it for over $20.00. I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to make money from the series (Breaking even would be nice); I wanted to help kids in trouble.

No child can pay $20.00 for a book.

The publisher told me they could cut the final pages out of the first book and close it in a cliffhanger. They explained cliffhangers are good and would entice people to want to buy the next book.
In theory, that might have been a good idea, but I don’t particularly like cliffhangers.

I agreed to their terms to bring the cost of the book down, and the first book in the Lessons from Fiori series launched. What I didn’t know…what I could never have planned, was a fall I took in London about the same time as the release of book one.

I returned home from that trip in tremendous pain, and I couldn’t figure out how to take the ending of my first book and turn it into a ‘stand-alone’ novel.

Pain and creativity don’t seem to work in conjunction with each other well for me. I spent nearly six months trying to find a resolution for my injury and pain without coming up with any logical idea on how to rewrite my original ending for book one.

It was painful for me not to be able to release book two almost immediately, but it was physically impossible for me to sit at the computer and write after the fall.

My warning to other authors: If you want to end a book in a cliffhanger, make sure the sequel is ready to publish no longer than a month after the first book launches.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What was it?


Writing this book was rather like being given a second chance to find my strength as a child. Through Elle, I’m able to realize how much I missed as a child and how important it is for us to provide strong role models for our sons and daughters. I will always wonder if I’d found a role model like Elle in my books if I’d have found the courage to tell someone about my abuse.

What advice would you give writers interested in creating a fantasy for younger readers?


You need to remember that children have vivid imaginations and are looking for a world where they can find action, excitement, and challenges.

You need to balance the good with the evil and give children something safe to hold onto within the fantasy world you’re creating for your characters. Build a world any child would want to not only visit but come back to over and over again. Make them believe anything's possible!

You also need to keep copious notes on the characters and the descriptions of your imaginary world. Kids are discerning readers too, and they'll remember if you change something about the world you've created between books.

In the first two books of my series, I’ve allowed readers to see two segments of Fiori. Who knows what they may discover as additional books are released?


About the author


Peggy M McAloon is on a mission to inspire kids everywhere to stand up to abuse and bullying. Her “Lessons from Fiori Series” about a young girl from Wisconsin, provides a strong female role model who isn’t afraid to show compassion or hack into a con man’s computer if the need arises. Peggy’s courageous battle with depression, abuse, and a traumatic brain injury has enabled her to identify with both children and adults who have suffered from abuse and bullying.

She’s a retired trainer and speaker in the field of commercial credit. Her first book, “The Art of Business Credit Investigation” was featured in Inc. Magazine. She’s been interviewed by the Associated Press and appeared on news shows in her efforts to protect our water resources.

Facebook / Twitter / Google Plus / LinkedIn / Amazon Author Central

About the book


Missing
Genre: middle grade fantasy

Kidnapping. Monsters. Magic.

Elle's desperate to find her kidnapped brother. She teams up with the winged warriors from the dimension of Fiori to save him, but JJ isn't the only one in danger. What will Elle sacrifice to bring her brother home? Can she fulfill the ancient prophecy and restore the magic of the Bronze Pendant?


You will love this coming of age, action-packed fantasy for middle-grade readers. Elle Burton's goal is to rescue her brother. What she discovers is pure evil. The author provides a female role model who strives to overcome her flaws and inspire kids everywhere.

"Missing" blends the magic of a fairytale with the contemporary realities of the world today's youth inhabit. You will discover a new world order through the journey of a young girl who exhibits both compassion and jaw-dropping courage in her quest to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Find yourself caught in the ultimate struggle between good and evil. "Missing" is the second book in the "Lessons from Fiori" series.

Available from Amazon

Book 1 available HERE


There are seventeen prizes with seventeen winners! Peggy is generously giving away 5 signed copies of the first book in her series, Elle Burton, 10 signed copies of her new release, Missing, and 2 replicas of Elle's necklace.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule


August 8
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction

August 9
Laurel's Leaves-Author Interview
So You Want to Write Christian Fantasy?-Character Interview with Amadeus

August 10

August 11
Peggy's Hope 4U-Character Interview

August 12

August 13
Bookish Orchestrations-Giveaway Winner


How about you, readers? Is there some aspect of your life story that has led you to write for certain audiences?

10 comments:

  1. Thank you so much or inviting me over to visit about "Missing," Laurel. I think the character, Elle, in my books quickly became the little girl I always wished I could be. She's caring enough to stand up to the class bully when he's targeting a young girl, but feisty enough to help hack into a con man's computer if the need arises. I'm currently working on the third book in the series, "Scrolls of Destiny."

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    1. I love how writing fiction can become a way of getting a "do over" of difficult phases of our own experiences. Caring, feisty girls are awesome!

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    2. I couldn't agree more! Elle's not perfect, she makes a few mistakes along the way, but what better way for children to learn than from the mistakes another makes?

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  2. This sounds like a powerful book for kids who are vulnerable, and also an opportunity for parents and teachers to open conversations with kids about the problems of bullying and how to develop inner strength. Kudos to Peggy McAloon.

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    1. I agree. Thanks so much for coming by, Elizabeth!

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    2. Thank you so much, Elizabeth! My goal was to write a delightful fantasy and yet touch on the topics our kids face on the playground or at home in such a way to empower them to find help before the problem gets too big for them to handle. The teachers who have read it have all put it in their school libraries.

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  3. Lovely post, Peggy. I wish I'd seen your advice sooner! Thanks also for the introdcution to Laurel's blog.

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    1. It's so lovely you had the time to stop by, Mari! Laurel is an amazing woman!

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  4. Your books sounds beautifuly, Peggy. I love your heartfelt passion for helping kids!

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  5. Thank you, Tyrean. Every child deserves the opportunity to feel safe and happy so they can thrive and become whatever they want in this life.

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