Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It's Summer! Time to Delve Into LUCID, A Teen Fantasy Adventure

Today I am helping the wild and adventurous L.E. Fred 
celebrate the one-year anniversary of her Young Adult novel Lucid.



Great cover, right? Here's the storyline:

Devon Alexander is a 15 year-old teenager coping with the monotonous reality of his average life. His life receives an interesting reprieve as he has his first realistic dream of a spaceship. The strangest thing about the dream is that he seems to be the only one on board who isn’t in a dream-like trance. Before he can figure out anything about the dream or his strange shipmates, he manages to wake up. The next day, Devon catches a news story about inexplicable comas taking place all over the world. Devon’s life becomes increasingly interesting as he recognizes some of the victims from his spaceship trip.
Devon and an unlikely group of other teens start devising a plan to find out who is behind the strange dreams and the comas. Their plan is not only successful but immerses them in to the fantastical world that only resides in dreams. While in the dream world, the teens learn about the power of teamwork, a new world of culture, and their hidden potential to be heroes.
Suspenseful, funny at the worst times, and just a hint of teenage romance, Lucid takes a group of young adults and throws them into a fantasy world that they only thought could exist in their dreams. In a sense, they’re right.
Now for some questions!

What inspired the creation of Lucid?
I started writing Lucid after experiencing my first lucid dream. It’s a very out-of-body and surreal experience. We’re used to dreaming every night, but being able to control your actions and fate in the dream world is almost a magical thing. After figuring out how to wake up (yes, you have to oftentimes find your way out of the dreams,) I started pondering the idea of a dream world actually existing, and before I knew it, I had Devon and the plot for Lucid.

You write from the P.O.V. of a 15 year-old boy. Is there anyone who shaped Devon’s character as the protagonist.
A wonderful counselor-in-training that I worked with actually inspired Devon’s character. Real-life Devon, who shall be nameless, was one of those campers that turned into a CIT when he outgrew the camp’s age groups. I never went to summer camp as a child, so working at one was a very interesting experience. I got to witness real-life Devon change from being a happy-go-lucky camper to a miserable CIT. As for Devon’s personality, that was shaped by my own sense of humor. I wrote Lucid through Devon’s eyes, and my own commentary sort of slipped through. It fit his sarcastic nature, though, and rereading some parts still makes me laugh.

 What about the villains? How did they come to be?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by mythological monsters. There seems to be a common thread of villainous snakes and lions. A chimera combines these two deadly creatures, along with a goat, into one evil creature. I liked the idea of having three diverse villains; the more you get to know a villain, the scarier they can become for the reader and the heroes. As I wrote, Serpentine, Gruff, and Leona, seemed to appear out of nowhere to fit the evil villain’s roles. The Nightmares were a little trickier. I thought long and hard about how they should be portrayed, and I eventually started combining features of animals and creatures that people feared the most into one character. That’s why they have shark teeth and devil horns.

Lucid is your first novel. Are you currently working on anything else?
A: Since Devon and his friends’ story didn’t want to finish at the end of Lucid, I’m currently working on the sequel. The story will continue our heroes’ adventure, but you’ll get to hear from other characters in it. It will also have much more of a fantasy element with an even crazier cast of characters. Aside from Lucid, I’m working on two more stories, both in the YA fiction genre.

 What inspired you to write YA fiction?
A: I’m a teacher, so I love working with young adults and teens. I’ve seen the power of books transform kids’ ways of thinking about the world and boost confidence. Never underestimate the power of reading. I know it played an important role in shaping my future, and I hope to reach out to as many young adults to inspire them to find their inner heroes and go change the world for the better.

And that is why I love and respect teachers!
Here's the book trailer.



   Excerpt:
I know that most adventure/fantasy/whatever-you-would-like-to–call-these-stories start with something magical, but my story starts with something ordinary, dreams. I’m talking about the “I’m taking a test and don’t realize I’m in my underwear” kind of dreams. We have them every night, whether we remember them or not. Sometimes they leave us waking up with excitement or inspiration. Sometimes they cause us to wake with a shriek and to look around our rooms. Sometimes they leave us waking up confused or ashamed. These experiences are probably commonplace for most people, but I doubt any of you could ever say your dreams caused you to stay asleep for a long period of time.
            What if your dreams made you disappear?

About L. E. Fred:

L. E. Fred is a perpetual dreamer who writes about worlds both within and without this realm. With a degree in psychology, L. E. Fred tends to get lost in the mind, the greatest adventure of all. L. E. Fred is currently traveling the world, finding more adventures to inspire new tales of dreams and beyond.
     Social media links:  Facebook  Blog  Goodreads


  Buy Links:
        
ISBN: 978-1-62135-304-1 

    Favorite 5s:

a.    5 favorite YA books/series
1.    Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
2.    Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
3.    Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
4.    Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda
5.    A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

b.    5 fun facts about the Lucid crew.
1.    Devon’s favorite thing about the Dream World is the pink grass.
2.    Kyle is deathly afraid of insects. Devon hinted that his older brother screams like a small child when they find roaches in their houses.
3.    Mitch, despite his love for water sports, is afraid of open water. He saw JAWS one too many times to trust the murky deep.
4.    Viv fights with Elis frequently, but she is secretly jealous of his sword skills.
5.    Iven researched the history of human music (with the help of Sophia.) His favorite tunes come from 15th century Gregorian chants and 1980s pop.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Six Ways to Overcome Writer's Block

Ever experience a writing slump? Sadly, I have. The good news is, Devon's Choice author  Catherine Bennett, has some great suggestions to help authors get unstuck.

Welcome Catherine!

Hi Ariella! Thank you for having me on your blog to discuss one of our favorite topics – writing. As an author, one of the hardest things to work through is writer’s block. It’s happened to me many times (nearly every time I sit down in front of the computer). The following are some suggestions that have helped me to break free!

Help, I’m Stuck! (Or Free Yourself of Writer’s Block)

According to Wikipedia, the definition of Writer's block is as follows: “Writer’s Block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some “blocked” writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers.”

This dreaded “condition” seems to affect every writer at some time in his or her career. Words may pour forth easily for a while and then the mind shuts down at the very thought of writing. If the condition lingers too long, panic can ensue. From there, the writer might experience a feeling of failure and doom, especially when friends or even worse, your agent, asks what is in the hopper.

The following are some suggestions that have helped me in the past to get out of a slump and move forward:

  • Write everyday. If you have an idea for a story, now matter how unrefined, write it down. One simple phrase can begin a story or keep it moving.

  • Pictures can lead to an idea. I often look through photographs or drawings and will save my favorites. Using them as visuals can trigger an idea.

  • Think of the movies you’ve seen or books you’ve read and re-invent parts of them. I’m NOT advising plagiarizing, but there are seldom completely original plots in books or movies.

  • Don’t become overwhelmed. Thinking that “I’ve got to write a book” is certain to induce anxiety. Instead think, “I’ve got to think of some really cool characters names” which is more fun to play with.

  • Indulge in a good book. Many times reading can re-ignite the imagination.

  • If desperation sets in, walk the dog. Walking can free the mind and the dog won’t think you’re crazy if you talk to yourself about an idea.

For more ways to give your writing a boost, visit my website at www.catherinebennett.org

About Catherine:

I grew up in Ohio where I currently live with my husband and our two rescue Labradors. Some of my favorite things include reading, shopping, pepperoni pizza, Hershey bars and hanging out with my two grown sons. I also love dogs, so going to the dog park is cheap entertainment for my husband and I!

Growing up an only child, I had many imaginary friends. I believe this - and a love of books - fueled my desire to write. It was many years later that my dream of becoming a published author came true. You can find my newest romance, “Devon’s Choice” on the following sites:




Monday, June 1, 2015

Theresa Caputo Live and Up Close



Meet the Long Island Medium

Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium and New York Times Best-selling author, brought her solo show to the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage. Bryan, a never-miss-a-show Caputo fan, wanted to go. I jumped at the chance to join him, even though I’ve never seen Caputo’s reality show.

Bryan’s high expectations worried me. My work as a professional shaman involves a strong psychic element. The theater at the Agua Caliente Casino holds about two thousand people and was nearly sold out for Caputo’s show. I couldn’t imagine how (or why, other than for fame and fortune) Caputo would open herself to such a huge bombardment of spirits.

Reining In Spirits

From the outset, Caputo set the strong intention that the evening would be about healing. I know from my own work that she was drawing a line in the psychic sand that only spirits of love and light could cross. Judging from the hopeful and often grief-stricken faces in the audience, that left about two thousand summoned spirits clamoring for attention.

Who to Read First?

Caputo initially focused on parents whose children had died. This immediately built audience empathy. It also introduced the concept of “piggybacking.” Mediums/shamans do not believe in coincidences. Throughout the show, strangers with similar situations found themselves sitting near each other: Two sets of parents who had lost their twenty-two year old sons. Three families whose loved ones had died in a parking lot. Etc. This allowed Caputo to piggyback similar messages.


Authenticity

One of my Facebook followers asked if I had felt the experience was authentic. Based on my own psychic experience, much of what Caputo said and did rang true:

·      Spirits do communicate through signs and symbols meaningful to the medium. I have a Master’s Degree in Art History. For me, if a mother figure appears from the Other Side, the spirit will cue me by showing me my own mother (who is still very much alive), or a Mary Cassatt mother and child painting. Caputo, who wore some serious bling, mentioned symbols such as a wedding ring to indicate a husband spirit, and a promise ring to indicate a boyfriend spirit.


·      The use of generalities, (“Who has lost a child?”) bring out the doubters. But the show was sprinkled with many correct specific details. A son was nicknamed Ry-Ry. A mother was buried with her white purse. Another woman had been murdered by her boyfriend, who had moved her body.


As Theresa Caputo often mentioned, the kind of work she does is difficult. Successfully handling a theater full of people — many of whom are in a fragile state and begging for her attention — is an art in itself. To do it for two hours while spirits pressed in behind her, equally anxious to make contact, is a herculean feat. The fact that she did it all in crystal (diamond?) embedded platform pumps was amazing.

Bryan was slightly disappointed by the experience, but I was impressed. Theresa Caputo succeeded in her intention of healing. And for most audience members, that was worth the steep price of admission.

© 2015 Ariella Moon