A lot of us look forward to summer – it’s heat, long days and lazy days in the garden/yard. Of BBQ’s, beaches and the open road. This , of course, depends on the continent you live on and the weather cycles. I am not a heat person and like to stay at 22°C degrees with a breeze to keep the mosquitoes at bay. They absolutely love my English blood, here in Canada.
I wrote this poem a while ago about impending summer.
Summer, you are long awaited
Through snow, sleet and rain, your heat and blasting glory
Pull us through.
Memories of sea and sand, camp fires and BBQ gatherings
Pull us through.
Green lushness, long days and outside chores planned
Pull us through
Then you are here – Summer – our darling
Flowers are planted, friends and family gather and lawns cut
Garden furniture released from storage and nature’s sounds surround
Vacations, road trips and splashing in the pool
Long awaited, now enjoyed.
We love you Summer.
This summer there will be road trips to look forward to based on a new contest for Go East. Linda and I have already collected stickers from two routes and will explore new places over the summer months. Our first trip was ambitious driving two routes in one long day (15 hours to be precise!), so now we have planned stop overs for the remaining routes. Making it much more leisurely and giving us the ability to explore more.
The other trip we are taking includes one of the areas included in the adventure game, but for another reason. We are hosting and presenting for When Words Collide. This is an annual event and is virtual this year. We have booked an isolated cabin on private land beside a lake. The perfect writing and relaxation retreat, as well as a great dog walking venue.
I have received the last editing workshop comments and will be diving into the next round of revisions of book one in the Delphic Murders, An Elusive Trail, in the coming weeks. I am excited for this project and hope that you will enjoy the stories once they are published.
A beautifully told story centering around a particular house during two different time periods. Barbara has expertly woven the two story lines and the inhabitants lives together. The core of the novel centers on the real life of a intriguing woman, Mary Treat. Someone history should take notice of and celebrate.
1) How long have you been writing? I’ve been writing most of my life. Only recently, during COVID honestly, did I realize that it was something that I wanted to pursue professionally and for a career.
2) What inspired you to write Dear Monica? My mom went through some really hard, tough mental health stuff and that was my inspiration. A mind place and setting with a romantic twist. I think it’s interesting for people who don’t understand mental health to read something of someone in that spot.
3) Why did you decide on the format of letters to tell the story? When thinking of mental health suicide often comes up and is at the forefront of mental health, with that idea, letters came to mind.
4) The core of the novel is the mental health of its main character – is this a subject you feel strongly about? I do feel strongly about mental health, especially in the male community. I think mental health has a stigma for men and that’s something I hope to chip away at with my career.
5) Is Charlie based on anyone you now? Charlie and Monica are a combination of people that I’ve known in my life, whether a friend or significant other, they’re the best parts of people I knew.
6) Has your Army career influence any of your writing? My army career has greatly helped me with the structure of writing. I consistently schedule my time to write and stick to it, even if I hate what I wrote in that time I have something to go off of. My army career also helped me and opened my mind up to a lot more in this world than I originally thought.
7) Having acting experience yourself, can you see your book being made into a movie? I could definitely see Dear Monica being a movie. Since I am an actor, I usually write from a point of visual and what I see in my head as I write.
8) Do you use the places you have visited as part of your narratives? Yes, I would say 95 percent of the places I write about I have been to. I don’t particularly feel honest writing about something I don’t know, so I try to stick to what I do.
9) Are you writing a new manuscript currently? I am, I have on a novel, “Yours, Only” with the editor now, and my other one “Little Red Card” is 2/3 of the way through its first draft.
10) Can you tell us about any new projects, events or presentations you have coming up? My newest projects are both very interesting. “Yours, Only” is another project that’s a collection of letters between a soldier and his young wife back at home. the letters follow his missions, while he battles with his own demons he’s creating and his life back at home. “Little Red Card” is a pandemic-based romance that I am really excited about.
11) Has the COVID19 restrictions impacted your writing life? If so how? My acting career got put on pause at the beginning of COVID and I really started writing seriously because I needed a creative outlet. I wouldn’t have a novel without Covid.
12) Where is your most favorite place to write? I love to write in central park. I’ll take my laptop out there and write until it dies, that usually enough for a day.
13) How can readers connect with you? My IG is @samdavel
14) Is there a message you would like to give to your readers? I think I would just like to tell my readers that they can do whatever they want. Anything is possible and that people are there for them if they need them.
BIO: Samuel Davel grew up in rural Wisconsin leaving home at 18 for the Army. In the Army Sam was an Airborne Ranger who was constantly taking in the world around him. After leaving the Army Samuel moved to NYC while pursuing a career in film and television. After appearing on the small screen and doing numerous indie works Samuel started writing about the world he absorbed throughout his life. He enjoys writing story’s that have mental health twist or ones that don’t always end in happy endings, at the end of the day, life doesn’t always end happy. Samuel tries to capture the small moments, the ones that everyone can easily take for granted.
We met in 2007 on an online writing group where you share short stories, poetry and life experiences. We became fast friends.
2. When did you begin writing?
Cristal- I began writing in grade school. In 1976, in second grade, I won a writing contest. The prize was three silver dollars. I was hooked. I also published multiple special interest stories in the local newspaper. I typically wrote in journals growing up and started a couple novels, but they were never published.
Andy- I have always had a love for books and a vivid imagination. It wasn’t until later in life that I decided to put my imagination to work.
3. Where did this quote come from? It’s not about tolerance, it’s about acceptance.
We were both bullied as children and always felt we were not accepted the way we were. Tolerance is only allowing someone to be themselves and not genuinely loving them and encouraging them to never change. We prefer the be accepted.
4. How did this quote bring about your book series?
We created imperfect, quirky characters that are relatable to everyone. We threw them together because each one is unique, different or weird. It allowed us to show you can form friendships with all types and if you do, magical transformations can happen. We wanted to make readers think about their preconceptions of the deaf kid, the geek or even the bully. We want to show that digging deeper can produce an understanding and lifelong friendships by just being kind.
5. What age range are your books aimed at?
We consider the books to be young adult/adult paranormal mystery genre. However, we have had ten-year-old advanced readers love them. There are some intense and scary moments plus a little gore that could affect younger readers, so we ask parents to use their own discretion.
6. Can you give the readers an idea of the messages within Secret 8 and The Wandering?
We have found that our readers all relate differently to the books. What might resonate with one person may not with another. It might be easier if I give you key words to describe what our readers have experienced and relayed to us. Secret of 8- adventure, self-discovery, confidence, trust, courage and inclusion. The Wandering- grief, guilt, first love, teamwork, closure, second chances.
7. How many books will be in the series?
We are currently working on the third book in the series, “Freaks to the Left” which is to be released in the Fall 2021. We have plans for at least eight books.
8. What is the fundamental message you wish your books to convey?
Whether you are being bullied, went along with it so as not to be bullied yourself, or maybe you ARE the bully, there is always a choice to change that behavior. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. You have a choice to look at the behavior and get to the root of why. By simply being kind, you can influence others to do the same.
9 What are the subjects you will cover in your books?
Our books hit on many aspects of growing up. Awkwardness, low self- esteem, love, loss, social class, racism, disabilities, sexuality, prejudice and addiction to name a few. So many books for young adults only skim over sensitive subjects. Our books approach them head on but tactfully and through the eyes of our character’s first-hand knowledge.
10. Has your own background contributed to the stories?
Yes, very much so. We both have life experiences that are sensitive and meaningful. By including these in our books, it makes our characters more realistic. They say to write about what you know. If you have never experienced it, how would you explain it? How would you capture the emotions? Sure, you can research it, but will it come off as authentic?
11. Where do you prefer to write?
We wrote the first book entirely through email. Andy lived in Pittsburgh and I lived in Erie. Once we married in 2016, we published the first book and built an office in our home. The office has shelves filled with everything that inspires us. Andy likes to write on the laptop there, but I tend to write chapters in paper notebooks whenever the urge hits.
12. Do you feel a writing group is an important tool for writers?
Absolutely! Chatting with fellow writers, reading their works, asking questions and encouraging one another is the best kind of support. Writers are unique in that they do not compete; they are fully supportive and celebrate with you.
13. What is your writing process – punster or planner?
We have never used outlines with our books. They have evolved as we wrote. We often wondered where it all comes from, but it seems to flow freely and eventually make sense in the end. The last chapter takes the longest though, as we tie up loose ends and make sure the climax is exciting.
14. Can you share your social media and book links
Bio: Cristal Underwood: Born and Raised in Erie Pennsylvania, She is the mother of one Daughter Megan Grace, and an extra Mom to Andy’s for children. She has always had a passion for writing and has been writing stories and poems since elementary school. Writing books that encourage inclusion, anti-bullying and acceptance is her life long goal. She enjoy’s baking custom decorated cakes and delicious cupcakes.
Andrew Underwood was born in Salem Utah, he is the father of four wonderful kids, and newly became a grandpa this last week. He is an avid paranormal investigator, loves to read, build things in his woodshop and daydream. He has always had an active imagination and a love for the outdoors. He always considered himself a geek and a little different which fits in well with his message in the books they write.
I was born in a little town in Nebraska with 700 folks—mostly all my relatives. I wanted to find “the rest of the world” around my 14th birthday (but of course I had to wait until I was 17). After that, I travelled whenever I could, first in U.S.A. and then the world
2. How many places are still on your “to go to” list?
Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, and Galapagos Islands are right up on top for now.
3. Is there anywhere you would not visit? Why?
I would like to visit Venezuela but not until it is safer.
4. What are your top three tips for traveling alone?
1. Don’t be afraid to be alone; there are friendly singles and couples that will always befriend you. 2. Don’t talk about you too much; be a good listener first as most folks would rather talk than listen. You will be adored for being a listener. 3. Be flexible; go with the flow, never know what opportunities will arise.
5.What inspired you to write Traveling Well With Less: A Woman’s Guide.
It was Monday October 7 and I was leaving on a cruise in Bucharest on Friday. My daughter called and asked if I was packed and I said, of course. So she said, why don’t you write a book on Travelling with a carry on and why it is best, etc. and do it before you leave Friday? So I did.
6. Do you intend to write another book? What will it be about?
My daughter, Tosca (the same one above), advised me to write a Financial Independence book for women. So I might.
7. Would you write in another genre? No.
8. Where do you feel most comfortable when writing? At my desk in the middle of the family room.
9. If you could eliminate one task from your daily schedule, what would it be?
I have already eliminated making my bed every day so that takes care of 15 minutes saved. I hate to dust—so that would be #1 on my list.
10. Think about punctuation marks. Which one would you pick to describe your personality and why?
Period probably. I like to finish what I start—one way or another.
11. Describe your handwriting.
Scribble. I make notes all over for everything.
Traveling Well With Less: A Woman’s Guide What, not another travel book? No, something better! Author Laura Moncrief has traveled to over 70 countries and every continent and she wants to save you from the many pitfalls that can be a disaster when you travel. This book tells you how it is (and it ain’t like it used to be) and how to ensure you will have what you need to travel well without dragging along the kitchen sink.This book includes tips on all aspects of travel but the most important parts of this book are THE LISTS—what to pack and what to wear. Print off these lists for every trip, and whether you are going for a week or a month, you’ll never forget something important that might ruin an adventure.
Laura Lee Moncrief is a native Nebraskan who has lived in Virginia, Colorado, Montana, and Georgia. A stay-at-home mother for 18 years, Laura went back to college to finish her education at 43. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Consumer Science and Finance, graduating with high distinction from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1991. Upon graduating, Laura was self-employed as an American Express Financial Advisor for seven years and then investigated security clearances for the federal government for the next three years. Laura also taught senior finance classes at her alma mater for two years before retiring. Today, Laura volunteers at her church, plays pickleball three times a week, and, of course, continues to travel all over the world. She is the published author of six genealogy books and two about the early pioneers of Divide and Woodland Park, Colorado. The mother of three daughters, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of two, Laura resides in Arizona … at least for now.
Florissant, Colorado Pioneer Cemetery–The Stories Behind the Tombstones
Congratulations are in order to Jenna Greene for winning the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. I asked Jenna some questions about her experience.
Which book won the award?
Reborn – a YA dystopian novel. (The first in a new series).
Can you tell us a little about the story and its characters?
This is a story about a girl named Lexil who is banished to slavery because of the marks on her skin. These marks state that she has lived previous lives and, as such, is to toil in service for those not fortunate enough to have multiple lives.
Why is this story important to you?
This story is important to me on many levels. One – it is a genuinely good story. I feel it is the best writing I’ve done so far. Two – I love the characters and the mythology. I kept the premise of the story simple, but the mythology is unique. Three – I wrote this book in a turbulent part of my life. This story will be forever connected to my mother, as I wrote the first half of it when she was sick and the second half of it after she passed away. And when you write a book about connection to past lives, and those who have lived before … there is no way to escape the fact that maybe those who love us never really leave.
When did you decide to submit this book for the award?
I’ve never submitted a book for an award before but, as mentioned, I feel very proud of this book and very connected too. It just felt okay, for once, to see if others thought it was worthy of recognition.
Where was the award ceremony held?
Traverse City, Michigan.
Can you tell us about the Moonbeam‘s Award – who can apply, who sponsors it etc.?
The Moonbeam Children’s Book Award has bronze, silver, and gold for various categories in Children’s Literature. My novel, Reborn, tied for gold in the YA science fiction and fantasy category. The awards are sponsored by the Jenkin’s Group.
How was your trip to the award ceremony?
Eventful, to say the least. I nearly didn’t make it, as traveling from Canada in winter isn’t exactly easy. Security scanners broke at the Calgary airport, delaying my traveling buddy and I in the line for two hours. We barely caught our flight to Chicago. Our connecting flight to Michigan couldn’t land because of snow, so we had to try again the next night. My luggage wasn’t lost, but it was inaccessible, so I spent 24 hours without it… and the list goes on. But travel adventures make good writing later!
Jenna Greene is the author of the acclaimed Young Adult Fantasy series, Imagine! She is a middle school teacher, dragon-boat coach, enthusiastic dancer, and semi-professional napper. She lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband (Scott), daughter (Olivia), and dog (Thor, dog of thunder).