Thursday, July 28, 2016

I'm out on a blog tour this week! For the full run-down, see the kick-off post at Bookish Orchestrations.

Many of my hosts are introducing me to their readers by sharing excerpts from my new release ALMOST THERE. I list some of the specific chapters on my Interviews & Articles page.

A few highlights of the tour:

Writing tips! 

In my interview with Robyn Campbell, I share some of my best tips for making characters feel real and setting descriptions about more than simply the "where" of your story.

Why read ALMOST THERE?

Tessa Emily Hall has a wonderful 5-star review. Here's an excerpt from it:
"Almost There made me fall in love with the YA genre all over again. This is the kind of teen fiction I enjoy: An authentic and inspirational novel that accurately portrays the teen life. Throw in a romance thread, family drama, teen angst, beautiful wordsmithing, an artistic element, and weave them together to create an original, page-turning-worthy plot."

Character secrets, and get to know me

In my interview with Peggy McAloon, I share my series theme, and a tidbit about my main character Dani Deane that only I know. I also talk about why I love Philadelphia, and lessons learned from mentoring teens at my church.

Giveaway

Visit any of the tour sites and enter my giveaway of this Parisian prize basket (ends at midnight on Friday, July 29).



It includes:
Parisian-market style heart-shaped wire basket with linen liner
Paris-themed journal
Be Still: Psalms adult coloring book
Crayola double-ended colored pencils

Please come say hello! 
Thursday, July 28, 2016 Laurel Garver
I'm out on a blog tour this week! For the full run-down, see the kick-off post at Bookish Orchestrations.

Many of my hosts are introducing me to their readers by sharing excerpts from my new release ALMOST THERE. I list some of the specific chapters on my Interviews & Articles page.

A few highlights of the tour:

Writing tips! 

In my interview with Robyn Campbell, I share some of my best tips for making characters feel real and setting descriptions about more than simply the "where" of your story.

Why read ALMOST THERE?

Tessa Emily Hall has a wonderful 5-star review. Here's an excerpt from it:
"Almost There made me fall in love with the YA genre all over again. This is the kind of teen fiction I enjoy: An authentic and inspirational novel that accurately portrays the teen life. Throw in a romance thread, family drama, teen angst, beautiful wordsmithing, an artistic element, and weave them together to create an original, page-turning-worthy plot."

Character secrets, and get to know me

In my interview with Peggy McAloon, I share my series theme, and a tidbit about my main character Dani Deane that only I know. I also talk about why I love Philadelphia, and lessons learned from mentoring teens at my church.

Giveaway

Visit any of the tour sites and enter my giveaway of this Parisian prize basket (ends at midnight on Friday, July 29).



It includes:
Parisian-market style heart-shaped wire basket with linen liner
Paris-themed journal
Be Still: Psalms adult coloring book
Crayola double-ended colored pencils

Please come say hello! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"A grieving teen believes her dead father is haunting her" --a tagline for my debut Never Gone, often raises this question: how could this topic possibly be Christian fiction?

Photo by http://morguefile.com/creative/whiterussian
What exactly is a ghost, after all? Do people have a consciousness separate from their bodily existence? If so, can it interact with embodied people? Can it do so when it wishes, or must it be summoned by the living? Is this entire mythos something created to explain demonic presences in our world?

In some circles, this latter view tends to dominate, though the Bible actually shows us an intermediate view: there is a consciousness separate from bodily existence, but it can only interact with embodied people through occult means because it exists in another realm or plane. See the story of Saul contacting Samuel's ghost via the mediation of the Witch of Endor in I Samuel 28. Trying to summon the dead is a bad idea, one that spells the end for Saul's reign.

In Never Gone, my protagonist Danielle has moments where she specifically fears she might have summoned her dead father, knowing that doing such a thing is very dangerous. But longing for a lost loved one does not make one a medium. Reaching across the divide between the living and dead isn't something people can do accidentally.

So what is going on with my ghost of Dani's dad, Graham Rhys Deane?

The idea of parental haunting is pretty old. Shakespeare uses it in Hamlet, for example. I also was inspired by the TV show Providence that aired from 1999-2002, in which a young woman moves home after her mother’s death, and often has long heart-to-heart talks and arguments with her mother’s ghost. The idea of a parental presence lingering to help a child fascinated me, especially when it’s unclear why it’s happening.

Is it possible that not every ghost appearance has a supernatural cause?

Generally, ghost lore in our culture is associated with bad deaths, with unfinished business. The question for me is whose unfinished business? The departed’s or the survivors’?

Dani is a fairly grounded Christian who knows enough “proof texts” (scripture quotes used to prove a particular point) to shut down her own natural emotions in the wake of a devastating loss. Her dad is bound for a happy eternity in heaven, she reasons, so she’s really not supposed to be upset.

This kind of warped stoicism that sometimes arises in my faith tradition concerns me. It’s bad theology to my mind, giving a false view of who God is and how he relates to humanity. In the face of it, a really hurting person can suffer deep internal fracturing. My story’s ghost is in some ways a manifestation of that inner state.

So how does Danielle cope with her ghost problem? I invite you to check out Never Gone to find out!

About Never Gone

Teen artist Dani Deane feels like the universe has imploded when her photographer father is killed. Days after his death, she sees him leafing through sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, wandering his own wake. Is grief making her crazy? Or is her dad truly adrift between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani longs for his help as she tries and fails to connect with her workaholic mother. Her pain only deepens when astonishing secrets about her family history come to light. But Dani finds a surprising ally in Theo, the quiet guy lingering in the backstage of her life. He persistently reaches out as Dani’s faith falters, her family relationships unravel, and she withdraws into a dangerous obsession with her father’s ghostly appearances. Will she let her broken, prodigal heart find a reason to hope again?

From the skyscrapers of New York to the sheep-dotted English countryside, Never Gone explores life after loss with emotional honesty, humor, and a touch of romance. 



View the trailer HERE

What is your take on the ghost trope?
Thursday, July 21, 2016 Laurel Garver
"A grieving teen believes her dead father is haunting her" --a tagline for my debut Never Gone, often raises this question: how could this topic possibly be Christian fiction?

Photo by http://morguefile.com/creative/whiterussian
What exactly is a ghost, after all? Do people have a consciousness separate from their bodily existence? If so, can it interact with embodied people? Can it do so when it wishes, or must it be summoned by the living? Is this entire mythos something created to explain demonic presences in our world?

In some circles, this latter view tends to dominate, though the Bible actually shows us an intermediate view: there is a consciousness separate from bodily existence, but it can only interact with embodied people through occult means because it exists in another realm or plane. See the story of Saul contacting Samuel's ghost via the mediation of the Witch of Endor in I Samuel 28. Trying to summon the dead is a bad idea, one that spells the end for Saul's reign.

In Never Gone, my protagonist Danielle has moments where she specifically fears she might have summoned her dead father, knowing that doing such a thing is very dangerous. But longing for a lost loved one does not make one a medium. Reaching across the divide between the living and dead isn't something people can do accidentally.

So what is going on with my ghost of Dani's dad, Graham Rhys Deane?

The idea of parental haunting is pretty old. Shakespeare uses it in Hamlet, for example. I also was inspired by the TV show Providence that aired from 1999-2002, in which a young woman moves home after her mother’s death, and often has long heart-to-heart talks and arguments with her mother’s ghost. The idea of a parental presence lingering to help a child fascinated me, especially when it’s unclear why it’s happening.

Is it possible that not every ghost appearance has a supernatural cause?

Generally, ghost lore in our culture is associated with bad deaths, with unfinished business. The question for me is whose unfinished business? The departed’s or the survivors’?

Dani is a fairly grounded Christian who knows enough “proof texts” (scripture quotes used to prove a particular point) to shut down her own natural emotions in the wake of a devastating loss. Her dad is bound for a happy eternity in heaven, she reasons, so she’s really not supposed to be upset.

This kind of warped stoicism that sometimes arises in my faith tradition concerns me. It’s bad theology to my mind, giving a false view of who God is and how he relates to humanity. In the face of it, a really hurting person can suffer deep internal fracturing. My story’s ghost is in some ways a manifestation of that inner state.

So how does Danielle cope with her ghost problem? I invite you to check out Never Gone to find out!

About Never Gone

Teen artist Dani Deane feels like the universe has imploded when her photographer father is killed. Days after his death, she sees him leafing through sketches in her room, roaming the halls at church, wandering his own wake. Is grief making her crazy? Or is her dad truly adrift between this world and the next, trying to contact her?

Dani longs for his help as she tries and fails to connect with her workaholic mother. Her pain only deepens when astonishing secrets about her family history come to light. But Dani finds a surprising ally in Theo, the quiet guy lingering in the backstage of her life. He persistently reaches out as Dani’s faith falters, her family relationships unravel, and she withdraws into a dangerous obsession with her father’s ghostly appearances. Will she let her broken, prodigal heart find a reason to hope again?

From the skyscrapers of New York to the sheep-dotted English countryside, Never Gone explores life after loss with emotional honesty, humor, and a touch of romance. 



View the trailer HERE

What is your take on the ghost trope?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

By guest author Elise Abram
visiting us from Canada (hence some variant spellings)

Modelling is not (as the title of a previous blog I wrote implied) actually stealing. It's more like borrowing. It happens all the time.
Look over a classic character's shoulder and learn!

Ray Bradbury did it. In the opening of his novel, Graveyard for Lunatics, Bradbury borrows Dickens's "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" parallel structure. In the short story, "The Veldt", Bradbury names the children Peter and Wendy, an obvious nod to J.M. Barrie's characters of the same name.

Stephen King does it. In The Talisman, King recreates a scene from Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. The original scene, focussing on peasants celebrating as they enjoy the spoils of an upturned cart of spirits, is twisted into something more gruesome in King's version. Instead of a celebration, King's scene focuses on the destruction caused by the ruined cart which kills a child and maims a horse. King repeats the process in Black House, The Talisman's sequel, which alludes to Dickens' Bleak House, in both theme, title, and within the story itself.

(Image credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/terryballard.)


Why model? 

 Modelling is a great way to test the waters to find your writing voice. It can also provide your readers with links to previous publications, famous authors and plots, and make a connection with universal themes.

[Laurel's note: if you struggle to come up with plots, this is an excellent way to learn story structure--studying another work, taking it apart, and rebuilding it with your own voice and subtle twists.]


Borrowing from the classics 

For example, if my character is a man-boy who refuses to grow up, I might call him Peter after Peter Pan. If I compose scenes that parallel Barrie's iconic story, I might take snippets of Barrie's words, or write parallel passages. I could give my Peter the same origin story as Pan, having him grow up an orphan after being found abandoned in his stroller, or first taken from his stroller and then abandoned. Readers will map their reading of Barrie's Peter onto my Peter, if the connection is made clear.

 If my character suffers a nervous breakdown, I might call her Dorothy, after Dorothy Gale, and make hallucinations a part of her downward spiral in which the people who are closest to her are not as they seem.

Or I could call her Alice, as in Wonderland, and have people around her embody the traits of the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, or the Queen of Hearts (as I do in my latest release, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice). Whenever my character feels herself spinning out of control, I could borrow from Baum's description of Dorothy in the throes of the twister, or Carroll's Alice as she falls into the rabbit hole, to describe what my character is feeling.

In conclusion 

Stephen King once said something to the effect that a good writer is aware of all of the writers who went before him. He further cautions that "if you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write." Then again, he also says that you shouldn't try to imitate another author's style or you'll come off sounding like a cheap imitation.

My point is that to be a good writer, you must read other successful authors in your genre, study their writing to figure out why they are successful, and then keep this at the back of your mind as you develop a style of your own style.


About the author


me
Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and computer studies, former archaeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. In her spare time, she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn’t burn. Her family doesn’t seem to mind.

Here's where you can learn more about Elise and her writing:

About I Was, Am, Will Be Alice 

Genre: YA Science Fiction (Time Travel)
Pages: 310
Release Date: 12 July 16  

Winner of the 2015 A Woman's Write Competition for fiction!

alice blue coverWhen Alice Carroll is in grade three she narrowly escapes losing her life in a school shooting. All she remembers is the woman comforting her in the moments before the gunshot, and that one second she was there, the next she wasn't.

It's bad enough coming to terms with surviving while others, including her favourite teacher, didn't, let alone dealing with the fact that she might wink out of existence at any time.

 Alice spends the next few years seeing specialists about her Post Traumatic Stress as a result of VD--Voldemort Day--but it's not until she has a nightmare about The Day That Shall Not Be Mentioned, disappears from her bed, is found by police, and taken home to meet her four-year-old self that she realizes she's been time travelling. 

Alice is unsure if her getting unstuck in time should be considered an ability or a liability, until she disappears right in front of her high school at dismissal time, the busiest time of day. Worried that someone may find out about her problem before long, Alice enlists her best friend (and maybe boyfriend), Pete, to help her try to control her shifting through time with limited success. She's just about ready to give up when the shooter is caught. Alice resolves to take control of her time travelling in order to go back to That Day, stop the shooting, and figure out the identity of the stranger who'd shielded Alice's body with her own.

Buy links: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Kobo.

If you were to go beyond alluding to other works and instead model one, which classic might you choose?

  a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday, July 14, 2016 Laurel Garver
By guest author Elise Abram
visiting us from Canada (hence some variant spellings)

Modelling is not (as the title of a previous blog I wrote implied) actually stealing. It's more like borrowing. It happens all the time.
Look over a classic character's shoulder and learn!

Ray Bradbury did it. In the opening of his novel, Graveyard for Lunatics, Bradbury borrows Dickens's "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" parallel structure. In the short story, "The Veldt", Bradbury names the children Peter and Wendy, an obvious nod to J.M. Barrie's characters of the same name.

Stephen King does it. In The Talisman, King recreates a scene from Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities. The original scene, focussing on peasants celebrating as they enjoy the spoils of an upturned cart of spirits, is twisted into something more gruesome in King's version. Instead of a celebration, King's scene focuses on the destruction caused by the ruined cart which kills a child and maims a horse. King repeats the process in Black House, The Talisman's sequel, which alludes to Dickens' Bleak House, in both theme, title, and within the story itself.

(Image credit: http://morguefile.com/creative/terryballard.)


Why model? 

 Modelling is a great way to test the waters to find your writing voice. It can also provide your readers with links to previous publications, famous authors and plots, and make a connection with universal themes.

[Laurel's note: if you struggle to come up with plots, this is an excellent way to learn story structure--studying another work, taking it apart, and rebuilding it with your own voice and subtle twists.]


Borrowing from the classics 

For example, if my character is a man-boy who refuses to grow up, I might call him Peter after Peter Pan. If I compose scenes that parallel Barrie's iconic story, I might take snippets of Barrie's words, or write parallel passages. I could give my Peter the same origin story as Pan, having him grow up an orphan after being found abandoned in his stroller, or first taken from his stroller and then abandoned. Readers will map their reading of Barrie's Peter onto my Peter, if the connection is made clear.

 If my character suffers a nervous breakdown, I might call her Dorothy, after Dorothy Gale, and make hallucinations a part of her downward spiral in which the people who are closest to her are not as they seem.

Or I could call her Alice, as in Wonderland, and have people around her embody the traits of the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, or the Queen of Hearts (as I do in my latest release, I Was, Am, Will Be Alice). Whenever my character feels herself spinning out of control, I could borrow from Baum's description of Dorothy in the throes of the twister, or Carroll's Alice as she falls into the rabbit hole, to describe what my character is feeling.

In conclusion 

Stephen King once said something to the effect that a good writer is aware of all of the writers who went before him. He further cautions that "if you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write." Then again, he also says that you shouldn't try to imitate another author's style or you'll come off sounding like a cheap imitation.

My point is that to be a good writer, you must read other successful authors in your genre, study their writing to figure out why they are successful, and then keep this at the back of your mind as you develop a style of your own style.


About the author


me
Elise Abram is high school teacher of English and computer studies, former archaeologist, editor, publisher, award winning author, avid reader of literary and science fiction, and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. She is passionate about writing and language, cooking, and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. In her spare time, she experiments with paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes. She also bakes. Most of the time it doesn’t burn. Her family doesn’t seem to mind.

Here's where you can learn more about Elise and her writing:

About I Was, Am, Will Be Alice 

Genre: YA Science Fiction (Time Travel)
Pages: 310
Release Date: 12 July 16  

Winner of the 2015 A Woman's Write Competition for fiction!

alice blue coverWhen Alice Carroll is in grade three she narrowly escapes losing her life in a school shooting. All she remembers is the woman comforting her in the moments before the gunshot, and that one second she was there, the next she wasn't.

It's bad enough coming to terms with surviving while others, including her favourite teacher, didn't, let alone dealing with the fact that she might wink out of existence at any time.

 Alice spends the next few years seeing specialists about her Post Traumatic Stress as a result of VD--Voldemort Day--but it's not until she has a nightmare about The Day That Shall Not Be Mentioned, disappears from her bed, is found by police, and taken home to meet her four-year-old self that she realizes she's been time travelling. 

Alice is unsure if her getting unstuck in time should be considered an ability or a liability, until she disappears right in front of her high school at dismissal time, the busiest time of day. Worried that someone may find out about her problem before long, Alice enlists her best friend (and maybe boyfriend), Pete, to help her try to control her shifting through time with limited success. She's just about ready to give up when the shooter is caught. Alice resolves to take control of her time travelling in order to go back to That Day, stop the shooting, and figure out the identity of the stranger who'd shielded Alice's body with her own.

Buy links: Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Kobo.

If you were to go beyond alluding to other works and instead model one, which classic might you choose?

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 02, 2016

image credit: ranbud at morguefile.com
with guest author Faith Blum

If you have read any mail order bride stories, you've probably noticed that even though the bride and groom never met each other, they are both genuinely good people. It's a rare story that has a scam or a truly bad person either write or respond to the mail order bride advertisement. Faith Blum took that rare theme and wrote three novellas about five young ladies duped into becoming mail order brides only to find out the men they were supposed to marry weren't what they had appeared in the letters. The first of those novellas just released on June 26th and Faith is here today to share a little about it.

Author Interview


What do you enjoy most about writing historical fiction?

I love learning and teaching little bits of history while writing historical fiction. For instance, in this novella, I learned that back then, even if you were married to someone, you rarely (if ever) called them by their first name when you were in public. BUT, that was different out west where they didn't always follow the rules. Thus the term The Wild West.

What special challenges have you faced writing about the Old West?

Since I like to write realistic fiction, I try to write it as it likely was back then rather than what it has been romanticized to be. That is quite challenging at times.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors interested in writing historical fiction?

Make sure you write according to the time period. It's difficult, but any words or phrases that are more modern will be noticed by someone and could get you a bad review. And yes, I am speaking from experience.

What inspired this story?

My novel, The Solid Rock, had five mail order brides in it who went through a rather challenging time. But in the novel, they were minor characters and I couldn't spend a lot of time on them. So, I wrote three novellas about them instead.

What message do you hope your readers will get out of this book?

God desires to have a close walk with you, all you have to do is let Him in.


About the Book

Just a Closer Walk_FrontI am weak, but Thou art strong/Jesus, keep me from all wrong/I’ll be satisfied as long/As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Katie and Joanna meet on a train headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming. They start talking and find out they are both headed there to become mail order brides. They quickly become good friends. When they get on a stagecoach with three other young women, Katie becomes suspicious. What is going to happen to them? Or is it really possible that nothing untoward is happening?

Saturday, July 02, 2016 Laurel Garver
image credit: ranbud at morguefile.com
with guest author Faith Blum

If you have read any mail order bride stories, you've probably noticed that even though the bride and groom never met each other, they are both genuinely good people. It's a rare story that has a scam or a truly bad person either write or respond to the mail order bride advertisement. Faith Blum took that rare theme and wrote three novellas about five young ladies duped into becoming mail order brides only to find out the men they were supposed to marry weren't what they had appeared in the letters. The first of those novellas just released on June 26th and Faith is here today to share a little about it.

Author Interview


What do you enjoy most about writing historical fiction?

I love learning and teaching little bits of history while writing historical fiction. For instance, in this novella, I learned that back then, even if you were married to someone, you rarely (if ever) called them by their first name when you were in public. BUT, that was different out west where they didn't always follow the rules. Thus the term The Wild West.

What special challenges have you faced writing about the Old West?

Since I like to write realistic fiction, I try to write it as it likely was back then rather than what it has been romanticized to be. That is quite challenging at times.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors interested in writing historical fiction?

Make sure you write according to the time period. It's difficult, but any words or phrases that are more modern will be noticed by someone and could get you a bad review. And yes, I am speaking from experience.

What inspired this story?

My novel, The Solid Rock, had five mail order brides in it who went through a rather challenging time. But in the novel, they were minor characters and I couldn't spend a lot of time on them. So, I wrote three novellas about them instead.

What message do you hope your readers will get out of this book?

God desires to have a close walk with you, all you have to do is let Him in.


About the Book

Just a Closer Walk_FrontI am weak, but Thou art strong/Jesus, keep me from all wrong/I’ll be satisfied as long/As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.
Katie and Joanna meet on a train headed to Cheyenne, Wyoming. They start talking and find out they are both headed there to become mail order brides. They quickly become good friends. When they get on a stagecoach with three other young women, Katie becomes suspicious. What is going to happen to them? Or is it really possible that nothing untoward is happening?