So again I am behind with my blog posts, is it lack of routine, worry over COVID19 or something else? We are all feeling out of sorts as the saying goes. Although, I am working remotely from home and that gives me some structure, there has been an addition to the household. We have been searching for a small, older dog to rescue for quite sometime, over a year. Well, last Tuesday we went to meet one!
Now we are the happy and grateful adopters of Sammie. She is about ten years old and a Schnoodle (poodle/schnauzer mix). She was surrendered, which is sad but now we can give her a loving home. We drove over an hour to meet her and thought it would just be a meet and greet but….we brought her home. Now I have early morning, lunch time and evening walks, (my step count is over 9,000 a day!) a snuggle pup, who sleeps on my bed all night & who loves playing fetch.
So please forgive my distraction. You never know she might be in my next book? #storyidea
I am really enjoying Tom Hanks book – Uncommon Type. Each story has great characters and settings.
I also read a new manuscript from a fellow author which will be fantastic for speculative and sci-fi readers. Watch this space for the book launch.
So onward & upward! I will get my act together – I promise.
Firstly, an apology for not posting earlier. We have had a change to the household, which has meant the normal routine has been turned upside down! More later on that.
For now I can share that I have started this book, which is a collection of short stories. The author, Tom Hanks, best known as a great actor has turned his unique skills into writing. He has done a great job (in my opinion). Each story is a snap shot of a life and they draw you in beautifully. I will of course write a review once I finish the book but for now – it’s really enjoyable.
As many of you know I love old typewriters so the book’s content appealed a lot.
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, I post a Word of the Day and every ten days create a ‘story’ using those words. You may find it interesting to see how I compile those stories.
In Alberta we enjoyed a long weekend, although all the days merge into one at the moment. However, to make the weekend seem slightly special, we explored a new sculpture installation near home and then drove in the countryside. It is good to get out of the four walls!
The sculpture is one of a series that will be erected for children to discover, which seems like a great incentive. The idea is that they find the mosquitoes!
We also came across a field full of mares and their foals. It really is Spring! This is onyl a couple as there were around seven foals.
On our way out, I spotted this plant, which I think might be wild garlic. If you know please comment – thanks. I had to scramble down the ditch to get the photos.
1. Please tell us about your new YA novel – Virtual Age
A- Virtual Age takes place in a distant future. Our world is no longer able to support life so, in preparation for this, indoor cities were built where air and water is purified. The technology of virtual reality was adapted so people can work, play, travel, and enjoy a version of the outside world within the system. When you live your lives within a computer, you become susceptible to hacking – which could drain you of all your money as all money is accessed through computers – and your whole world could be altered and flipped upside down.
My main character is a thirteen year-old boy by the name of Aiden Murphy. He enjoyed the simple life of a teen – going to birthday parties, occasionally standing up to the school bully, and going with his family on vacations or trips to the beach. It was on one of these outings where Aiden finds himself trapped in the system, lost and all alone; unable to get home. He doesn’t know who to trust. He doesn’t know where to go. He doesn’t know what he is going to encounter within someone else’s program. He will be tested every step of the way.
2. How did you come up with the idea?
A- I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of virtual reality and wanted to come up with a story centres around that concept. Actually, I remember when I came up with the idea and some points within the plot while at work. I was working for a commercial insulating company a few years ago. One day I was sent to a job and there was no material there for me to do any work so I spent 3 hours waiting around for the material and while I did, I came up with the concept and title of my book.
Did you decide on writing a YA from the start?
A- I have had ideas for YA novels that I still want to write, however, this wasn’t one of them. I started it off as any of my other novels but then realized as I was writing that it was better suited as a YA.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
A- There are so many but one that stands out is Dimlyn – an inhabitant of the planet Seledania – she is strong, determined, stubbourn, kind, and generous. Her loyalty to her society is put to the test when she encounters a visitor from beyond the stars –a human – who is feared and hated by the whole of the society besides Dimlyn. She is willing to overlook his outer appearance despite the backlash she receives from the rest of the society. She was probably the most fun to write because she isn’t human.
When did you write the manuscript?
A- I wrote the manuscript in November of 2018. I participate in NaNoWriMo every year. November is National Novel Writing Month and authors who sign up are challenged with writing 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.
How many books have you written?
A- I have published 8 books so far. Book #9 is in editing and book #10 is ready to be edited.
Which genre interests you the most?
A- I mostly write in the sci-fi/supernatural genres.
Have you written more than one genre?
A- Aside from sci-fi/supernatural I have also written a psychological thriller, a superhero story and a collection of Christmas stories.
Do your books have a specific message for your readers?
A- I don’t often think in terms of messages within the story but when I thought about my stories I began to realize most of them did carry a similar message- that being of tolerance. We need to treat each other with the love and compassion we want for ourselves. And don’t be too quick to judge.
How many other writing projects do you have in progress?
A- Like I said I have two books in various stages of the editing process as well I have a prequel for my first novel – Time’s Hostage – I’m working on.
Where can readers connect with you?
A- They can connect with me on my Facebook page: J E McKnight – author
And they can check out all my books on my website: jemcknight.com
E-books available on all sites.
Joe McKnight was born in Fort Saskatchewan and raised in the small Alberta farming community of Partridge Hill. He started his schooling in Ardrossan, where he developed a love of story-telling. His love of writing continued to grow throughout his school years. In 2004, while upgrading his English 30, Joe’s passion increased. It was during that same year he stumbled upon a writer’s circle (offered by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County) that provided the support and encouragement he needed. He continues to grow in his writing and looks forward to many future literary ventures.
Joe has published several books: Time’s Hostage, Fly on the Wall, The Arrival, Powerless, The Other Secret, Stocking Stuffers, Unnatural Selection, and Virtual Age. He is currently working on a new manuscript.
Joe is also an accomplished artist and his artwork also appears on the cover of From a Solitary Drop – he was commissioned to design the illustration featured on the cover.
Please tell us the story behind your new book, Home.
My new book is the bookend of the Friends and Family series about Fluffy the cat and Levi the mouse. This book in the series was more challenging to write than the others because the series was written for my mom, and she passed away two years ago. My mom was my hero, and my best friend. She always provided me with a sense of security and home. As a family, we shared a love of reading, and my mom made sure, whether I was staying in the hospital or at home, that the routine of reading to me before bed was a constant.
As an adult, my mom’s macular degeneration made reading a challenge so I would read out loud to her. Then as her dementia progressed, she found a renewed passion for children’s literature. This series was based on a childhood pet of my mom’s and has a diverse character, which I wish I had to identify with when I was a child. Despite dementia stealing my mom’s words, the smile on her face and her reaching out to grab and hold Don’t Eat Family communicated her love and appreciation.
Mom would’ve wanted me to finish the series despite the fact that during the writing process and now the launch of Home, she would not be here in person. My illustrator, Katherine Restouiex, who also knew my mom, made the human character a cartoon version of her. While writing this last book in the series, memories mom and I shared and the lessons that she taught me were reminders that she will always be with me.
As the third in the series, does it complete the series?
Yes, Home completes the Friends and Family series.
How did you come up with the idea for the series?
My inspiration for this series came from a childhood cat Mom had and the fact that cats and mice don’t usually get along. This series was an exploration into each character’s ability to make their own decisions based on who they want to be and not who they are told to be by society. I wanted my characters to travel through the world with kindness, respect, and a belief in the goodness of people.
Can you tell us about the characters and how you created them?
The character of Fluffy is based on a grey Persian cat that my mom had as a child. The character Levi is based on some of the strong and independent individuals I have met who experience disability. Maybe even a little part of myself is in the character of Levi.
In Don’t Eat Family what is the message you wanted to convey?
The main messages that I was trying to convey in the book Don’t Eat Family were that, just like Fluffy and her decision to be friends with Levi versus be a mouser as some cats are, you could be who you are and not give in to peer pressure. Also, individuals experiencing a disability may experience challenges but have other abilities and should not be judged by the way they get around in the world.
In Help from Friends do the characters follow on from the first book?
Yes, the characters in Friends and Family continue along the journey to find their way home, a journey that started in the first book.
Did you start out planning a series, or did the story and characters dictate more stories?
No, I didn’t start outlining a series, but the characters and the story dictated more books because their adventures required more pages than I wanted to squeeze into one book.
Tell us about your writing life – what other books/plays have you written?
When you wrote your first novel, Remember No Matter what, Chin Up Tits Out, did you know or plan the subsequent novels in the series?
I originally had a goal to ‘write a book’ but once I started to draft out ‘Remember No Matter What..’ I quickly came to realize I had much more to say than just one books worth.
2. What was the inspiration for the stories?
Real Life is where the juiciest stories are picked from. I enjoy meeting new people and working on improving my connections. I tend to pick up the most interesting stories along the way, so why not share them.
3. How did you come up with the titles?
My parents used to coach us as kids to stand up tall, hold your shoulders back and stand confident, even if you don’t feel it. As the years passed on and teenager attitudes came along, so did the spicy one liners my folks used to keep us in line, focused on staying positive and always strive to move forward… in turn …Chin Up Tits Out was born, and to this day used in our household often.
4. Do you have a follow up in progress?
I am working on a second series, called Love My Lady Bits. It will be a trilogy jammed packed with real life stories from women around the world who have stubborn, unpredictable and often humorous reproductive systems.
5. Did you purposely choose chick lit?
No, let’s say it chose me! HA – I just wrote out my story and then we plunked it into a genre. Chick lit is so all-encompassing, which allows me to write about what ever. I want to write about relatable things us women go through, make it less taboo and totally spin it and make it entertaining to talk about all of it.
6. Are you a romantic?
Old soul to the nines – yes! I love old romantic music, candle light environment all while sipping on a vintage bottle of red, star gazing… alone. He-he! Regardless if I am alone or with someone special; taking those moments in time to spread a little old school romance will only bring one good in life. – In my opinion.
7. Who is your biggest supporter?
My mom! Gosh darnit – I have zero shame about it too! She is right there with me through it all thick and thin. The best part of it, is that we are best friends too, so I not only have the support and role model of a pretty awesome mom, but I also have the support of a good ol’ pal and bff. I lucked out in the family department. I count my blessing every dang day!
8. Are you a planner or a panster writer?
Plan, map, schedule – repeat. Although, once I am done planning, mapping and scheduling, when the writing starts it doesn’t stop. It is like a dam broke and all the water that floods out are the words. As I write more, this process evolves and becomes more streamlined. Just a wee spot OCD and type –A personality.
9. How did you being writing?
A big glass of wine, noise cancelling headphones and pure determination to get it out on paper. Simply put. I also had a story I desperately wanted to get out; so between the little liquid encouragement, and determination to share my story, the result was me writing my first series.
10. Where can readers find you and your books?
Readers can find my books on amazon worldwide. Type in Chin up Tits Out Miranda Oh and BAM my books will be right there. You can also visit my website at mirandaoh.com . Please give me a follow or a like on FB or IG (OhMirandaOh)
11. Can you share a funny story about the creation of your novels?
Oh yeah – I was writing a REALLY tough chapter during my 2nd book – When All Else Fails Chin Up Tits Out – I was sobbing – loud enough to disturb my roommates. So they banded together, pulled straws, and one poor sucker had to take me out for a drive and Starbucks run so I could calm down and refocus. Poor guys, by the time we got back home, I was way better. I had a smile on my face and whipped cream in my cup. Happy Girl!