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You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 31, 2011

Warm Fuzzies Blog Fest 2011 #2 Guess my WIP! :D

It’s Warm Fuzzy Time! This week it’s all about what inspires your WIPs? When I write, I like to listen to music. Most of the time it is music that has some sort of nature in the background. There have been a few songs with words that have moved my writing; usually the song was directly related to a certain scene. I rarely use art or photos for my novels, but they are vital for my flash fiction pieces. I also use them to help me out of writers block.

Here’s a list of some sound tracks I’m using for my current WIP.

Here are a few pics that kind of describe my WIP.

 So, can you guess my WIP? :D (No cheating!!!!)

What do you look to when you write? What inspires you? How else do you use your creativity? Music? Pictures? Art? 

Monday's Muse: Autumn Path

For some lovely inspiration this week I share with you all this wonderful pic I took this morning on my way to work. :) It's a fun path where walkers, runners, bikers and students get to and from the university as well as exercise. It was rather sparse and a slight drizzle wet the fallen leaves. I could not help but take the picture. :)

After work, I took a few minutes to log onto facebook and see what is going on in my friends' world :D One posted a lovely quote that I felt very moved by. I would like to share it with you all and hope it inspires good thoughts and destinies. :)

Sow a thought, and you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
- Charles Reade

Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review + Giveaway: Medusa by Clive Cussler

It has been a really hectic week both on and offline!! I participated in the adventure tale, Ahoy! Sea Serpent! Blog Hop hosted by Kerri Cuevas and this week started the Warm Fuzzies Blog Fest hosted by Juliana Brandt. This week also saw the final episodes of the Rule of Three Writing Challenge hosted by Damyanti Biswas, Stuart Nager, Lisa Vooght and J.C. Martin. With all the happenings of this past few weeks, I have not been able to do any interviews. However, I could not let this Friday pass with out some kind of book giveaway!! So, here is the most recent book I've read:

Medusa by Clive Cussler

This is my second book by Clive Cussler and so far I am loving his novels! 


From Goodreads: In the Micronesian Islands, a top secret, U.S. government- sponsored undersea lab conducting vital biomedical research on a rare jellyfish known as the Blue Medusa suddenly . . . disappears. At the same time, off Bermuda, a bathysphere is attacked by an underwater vehicle and left helpless a half mile below the surface, its passengers-including Zavala-left to die. Only Kurt Austin's heroic measures save them from a watery grave, but, suspecting a connection, Austin puts the NUMA(r) team on the case. He has no idea what he's just gotten them all into. A hideous series of medical experiments . . . an extraordinarily ambitious Chinese criminal organization . . . a secret new virus that threatens to set off a worldwide pandemic. Austin and Zavala have been in tight spots before, but this time it's not just their own skins they're trying to save-it's the lives of millions.

My review:

I really like the Medusa. Right from the beginning I was hooked. I don't know much oceanography but I do love anything that has to do with the ocean and sea mysteries. The story starts off a long time ago when an 1848 whaling expedition undergoes a mysterious experience on an Island when they have to dock their ship due to the ship's crew becoming deathly ill. Unable to explain their quick recovery and the fact not one of them every became sick after the incident remained a mystery. Fast forward to the present, an outcast Chinese doctor in a rural village is called back to work by the Chinese Government to work on a cure for new strain of SARS virus that is near to becoming even deadlier than the first outbreak. What she does not know is that someone is out to kill her and the scientist she is working with because they are close to creating a vaccine that will cure the outbreak. 

In the Bermuda, during a test drive of the bathysphere, Dr Max Kane and Joe Zavala are attacked and left to die in the blue waters. When Kurt Austin goes down to find and rescue them, he is also attacked by a strange metal creature. At the same time of this attack, Dr Kanes secret gov't lab working on a vaccine for the new strand of SARS is hijacked off of the ocean floor. When they find out that the creature is a submersible used by a Chinese Company and that the company has ties with the triads, things get really dangerous for Lee, Austin, Zavala and all of his NUMA friends as they try to solve an old mystery. Austin and his team have to find out who is behind the lab-jacking, who wants them dead and why.

I loved that there was very little romance involved, though there were some slight insinuations. The pace was fine, something was happening in every chapter. I give this book a 3.5 out 4.0 stars :) 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Warm Fuzzies Blog Fest 2011: You're A Writer????? O_o?

Yes. I am a writer. I may not be Stephen King or J.K Rowland but I am a writer and I love it. :D For the most part, most of the people who even know I write are my closest friends and family and a few of the parents at the day care where I work. I don't really like to tell folks outside the writing community simply because their is this sort of pressure to put something out there right away. 

For example: One friend who knows I write constantly asks about the novels I'm working on, "are they published, when will you publish it" and so on. Quite frankly, the story is not ready and it is really hard to explain that to them. But I have to say, I am surrounded by kind and supportive people. I usually get warm comments when I tell my close circle that I mostly write children's stories and short fiction. Most ask, "So when will I get to read it?" with a sly grin because they know how shy I am in real (non-cyber) life! :D 

So for me, it is more of the pressure of having to perform and produce an awesome book right now to prove I am a writer/author of children's stories than the "Huh, you are a writer, O_o?" response. 

So tell me friends, do you ever feel pressured to write and produce books or articles to prove you ARE a writer?

Gotta book giveaway this week for those who comment on this fuzzie post!!! :D Your choice from my book shelf!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rule of Three Writing Challenge: Part Four...the finale

Hi folks. This has been a really fun challenge and fest! But all good things must come to an end. Here is the finale of my short story: The Awakening

Part one is here.
Part two is here.
Part three is here.

“Kanda medicine, it’ll combat the contagion.” His grandfather says wrapping Kahalee’s hands. “I’m sorry, Kahalee, I should have told you sooner.”
The front door chimes. Kahalee’s grandfather ascends the stairs to the shop.
“Yes, you should have. I would have never touched it.”

Kahalee hears a frantic conversation.
“She’s coming. I couldn’t stop her,” a woman says.
“She can’t see Kahalee this way; they’ll exile him to Assart,” his grandfather says pounding the counter. “I can cure him, I just need time.”

Kahalee struggles up the stairs. But his grandfather is alone.
“You shouldn’t be up here,” he says pushing Kahalee out of sight. But it’s too late; Xenatha walks in. The color drains from his face. She smiles sweetly at Kahalee, too sweet. The old man frowns. Kahalee smiles; relieved to see her again.
“Oh Kahalee,” she says, “I was so worried. What happened?”
A hint of pretence passes her lips but Kahalee doesn’t hear it. Xenatha reaches for his arm but Kahalee’s grandfather stops her. Xenatha scowls.
“Leave us,” she says, “I will speak to my fiancĂ© alone.”
Kahalee gives a weak nod to his grandfather who then leaves, eyeing Xenatha.

Kahalee watches Xenatha pace back and forth. She’d taken the news of his illness far better than he’d expected. But something isn’t right. He can’t put his finger on it. She continues rambling about a way to “fix it.” The medicine finally kicks in. The tingling sensation ceases, his breathing eases and his head becomes clear.
“The Assart?” he says realizing her plan. “You want me to go back there again. Have you forgotten I nearly died in that forest?”
“You have to Kahalee, it’s my… our only hope of survival” she pleads. He searches her eyes for the woman he loved. He catches a glimpse of her and nods.

“Kahalee?” his grandfather calls out. Bena steps out from her hiding place with a grave expression. “He’s gone. Xenatha sent him to Assart.”
Kahalee finds the Taki mushrooms. His knife and satchel ready, he removes his bandages and gets to work. A dark form steps out from behind a tree that protects the oldest living Taki. Its roots nourish the others. More figures emerge from the darkness.
“Our payment has finally arrived,” a hoarse voice hisses.
Kahalee turns and faces Tobias.
“You!” he growls, “that treacherous female! Go and bring her,” Tobias yells to the nearest figure.
“No,” Kahalee demands, knowing whom Tobias is referring to.
They stop, looking at Tobias and Kahalee.
Tobias glares at him. In the eerie silence, Kahalee remembers; his origins, his father Faydal, the black box and the old man who spared him as a child.
 “You will protect her, brother? She sent you to your death.”
“You left her no choice.” Kahalee grips his knife. “There will be no awakening.”
He swipes his wrist, allowing the blood to fall onto the large Taki. Tobias knocks Kahalee down.
“What have you done?” Tobias shouts.
“The blood of the Taki may nourish our kind, but our blood destroys it and its curse on the humans who breathe its spores.”

The Taki begin to whither and die but one is spared, pulled up before Kahalee’s blood can kill it. Weak, Tobias orders the others back down into the earth. But he has one final act. He finds Xenatha in her garden gazing at her flawless skin while his withers away. He grabs and drags her away kicking and screaming.

In a forgotten cavern, far below Renaissance, population 333, they wait until the day the Taki flourish and the awakening releases them from the darkness.

The end ........ for now!

Word Count: 600
Prompt: the misfortune is resolved/accepted, the final event becomes another secret for generations to come, relationships are torn asunder/mend.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ahoy! Sea Serpent!

If you are just joining the adventure, please start here. The Choose Your Own Adventure continues below.........

                 You follow your beloved.....

You watch the massive sea serpent dragging the ship down into the deep blue. Floating wreckage reminds you of the deadly fate you narrowly escaped. You watch in horror as the deadly serpent turns and heads your way with the ship in tow, it’s green eyes glowing angrily. You turn to your beloved still beckoning you to follow. Air going fast and the sea serpent swimming faster, you decide to follow your beloved and hope your mind is not playing tricks on you.

You push and kick with all your strength to keep up with the luminescent figure. You are so focused on the light ahead of you; you don’t realize the sea serpent has stopped chasing you. It swims along an invisible barrier not daring to cross it, but staring longingly after you. The water has become denser, murkier and greenish in color. The terrain has changed as well; sea foliage five miles deep wave in slow motion beneath you. Just beyond the rolling plains of grass you see the tip of an object. Your beloved circles over and around the object touching it gingerly then gracefully descends down circling it.  The light from your beloved illuminates it and as you follow, you realize is it not just an object. It is a massive pyramid at the bottom of the ocean floor.

Beautiful symbols adorn the pyramid but nothing like the heirogryaphs of ancient Egypt. They seem alien. As you descend, you forget about your oxygen levels. You touch the symbols. Each one lights up in colors of green, blue and purple for a second then darkens again. Icy fingers touch your hand then grab it. Your beloved drags you down the remaining few miles at lightening speed till you reach an enormous heavily armored door. Pointing to the door that looks like an over-sized security keypad, your beloved touches your tank then pushes you forward. “You want me to knock?” you ask raising your hand to the door. The door is covered with symbols you saw on your way down. You turn to look at your beloved for confirmation but the glowing figure is gone.

Alone at the bottom of the ocean, you have 10 minutes of air left and a huge locked door in front of you. What is inside? Will you find help? How do you get in? All these thoughts pass through your head. You bang on the door hoping to be heard. With each pound, portions of it begin to glow emitting hums and vibrations of various tones, pitches and frequencies. It is a lock indeed and you have to figure out how to decipher it before you run out of oxygen. You randomly touch the keys. Light and music fill the ocean floor. But the door does not open.  

Your oxygen button lights up. You panic. One minute left. As your brain fogs due to lack of oxygen, you remember your beloved touching various symbols on the pyramid while descending down the outer wall. You recognize those symbols on the keypad. You make one final attempt at breaking the code. Vision blurred, you replicate the order of symbols your beloved touched.

A jet of bubbles shoot out in front of you as the massive door pushes inward and up. Everything happens so fast that you are not prepared for what happens next. When the door opens, you are sucked into the pyramid in one crushing pull. The last of your air escapes. You black out just as your body slams against a hard surface. When you come to, you find you can breathe fairly easy. Yes! Oxygen! Your tank and breathing apparatus is gone; even your black diving suit has been removed. Despite your lack of clothing, you are remarkably comfortable. Everything is black but you can hear the slightest sound. You hear the low and graceful song of a passing whale, the clicking of a pod of dolphins dashing in and out of the sea foliage. Even the swaying foliage is music to your ears. You are alive. You are about to sit up when you hear a door swoosh open then close. You lie as still as you possible, not even daring to breathe.

At first, the voices are unintelligible. But after a while you begin to pick up syllables, then words and then sentences.
“What do you think this one wants?” a voice asks.
“The same as the others,” another voice replies with a growl.
“I don’t know, this one seems different,” the first voice says with softness and interest.
“Humans, they are all the same. Thieving murderers.” There was definitely malice and contempt in the second speaker’s voice.
“What do we do with this specimen?”
“Put it in the holding tanks with the others.”
The door swooshes open but only one of them leaves.

Moments later, a smooth almost metallic icy sensation strokes your bare arm singing softly. The voice sends vibrations across your body. Slowly your vision returns and you can see the creature gliding over you, a luminescent otherworldly creature glowing green, purple and blue. Its eyes peer mournfully into yours. Its knowing gaze sends chills down your spine. Holding tank? Others? You try to speak but can’t. The beautiful creature circles you with a dance like grace. The walls around you reflect its glowing body. It touches one of the walls and it becomes transparent and clear. Beyond the room, you see hundreds of tanks filled with glowing green liquid. Multiple tubes attached to the tanks carry the green liquid out while others feed a clear liquid into the tanks. Each tank holds a body. Some look alive but the rest look mostly dead.

The creature glides over to you singing and pointing to the tank room. It wants you to enter. But you have questions. Why do they want you? What are they doing down here? Who are they? Where are they from? Then you spot a figure in a tank not far from you. You recognize the human form. It is your beloved. The creature sees your reaction and is confused. This is your chance. To get information or free your beloved.

Go Back: still go 

Picture Prompts: Freedom

Freedom. What an idea. The thought of it makes my heart skip a beat. But right now I'm shrouded in secrecy, headed to a life of eternal torment, servitude and blind obedience. Strong arms grip mine, ensuring I can't flee. But how beautiful is the night. The great lake of life reflects the universe like diamonds. It carries the scent of lavender and my freedom. I am forced onto the vessel that will take me beyond the horizon where the glow of Haitus emanates. I dare not look back at them, my father and brothers who have abandoned me to my fate. But did they have a choice? One life for over one thousand lives. Do I? Alone on the great lake with only the rising moon to watch over me, I must decide...Live enslaved or die free.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Calling New Authors and Book Lovers!!

Have you recently published a book? Do you know a first time author recently published? It's tough these days getting our stories and books out there. This hop/giveaway helps to support first time authors whether published traditionally or self-published in getting their books noticed and read by the reading community. Let's support one another! Find and support new authors and their debut publications!
For authors: Provide details/summary of your book, places where your book can be purchased, review(s) etc. Giveaway is not mandatory but is highly encouraged. J
For book lovers: If you have read a debut novel and loved it, help the author by sharing it with us. Write a substantial review and where the book can be found. A book giveaway is not mandatory but again, it is highly encouraged. Nothing draws a big crowd like a fun book giveaway! J

"One Million Men and Me" Giveaway Winner

And the winner of 

Drum roll please!!!!!!!!

Coleen Patrick!!


(Please contact me so that I may get your prize to you! )

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rule of Three Writing Challenge: Part Three

Here is the third installation of the #REN3 writing challenge. If you are just starting out or need a recap, go here to read chapters one and two. Enjoy!

Xenatha looks at the small flaw on her face and neck in the mirror. She is alone now. Her noisy nursemaid is preoccupied with shopping and preparing cacti-berry juice. Xenatha has one hour and ten minutes to complete her task in privacy. She unties and removes her traveling bonnet. She wraps her long wavy hair in a tight bun. A clay bowl filled with a pale white paste sits on her vanity dresser. Next to it, a silk cloth contains white paper thin sheets of a rare mushroom, Taki. Kahalee, her suitor, risked his life searching for it in the Assart forest. Xenatha gets to work. She has to complete her task and dispose of everything before her maid returns or it’s the end of her political career and life. The small compartment under her bed makes the perfect hiding spot for her tools. She tucks them away and crawls out from under her bed when her nursemaid rushes in huffing.
She fumbles through an apology as she places the sweet juice on a small serving table. She approaches Xenatha but stops when the young aristocrat raises her hand. Xenatha does not want her too close just yet. Bena has a keen sense of smell. Bena looks at her. Xenatha can see curiosity and suspicion. Not good. Bena returns and fills a cup.
“Has Kahalee been by yet?” Bena asks nervously. A faint odor tickles her nose.
“No. It is too early, perhaps at noon. That would be more appropriate don’t you think?” she asks trying to discern where the conversation was going. “Why do you ask?”
Bena opens her mouth but thinks twice about revealing she’d visited Kahalee and his grandfather that morning.  She picks up the filled glass and turns to serve it.
“Leave it there, I will get it when I’m ready,” Xenatha says walking over to the open window. She thanks Bena then sends her away. Bena’s reaches the door then stops. She turns back slightly, eyebrows raised and nose twitching.
“Uh Oh,” Xenatha thinks, “that blasted dry wind from the Schiavona desert. She’ll meddle for sure.” Xenatha narrows her eyes and scowls. Bena leaves the room.
Xenatha exhales. A dark figure steps from behind her massive velvet curtains.
“I thought she’d never leave,” the hoarse voice cracks.
Xenatha jumps. She feels a hot sticky breath on the back of her neck.
“Tobias,” she says in disgust. “How dare you enter my private quarters,” she hisses regaining her composure.
“Your payment is late,” he growls, his lips curl revealing razor sharp teeth. “The Taki flourishes by the blood of man; if you do not send a payment soon, the awakening will be your great legacy to Renaissance.”
Xenatha snorts. “I don’t care about your awakening. If Renaissance falls below 333 residents, people will become suspicious. There hasn’t been a birth or death in the last few years.  Illnesses are rare since the arrival of the Kanda pharmacist.”
“Oh? Are they now?” he asks leaning into her neck, gazing at her face.
Xenatha shudders. Of course Tobias knows her secret, a skin disease that would make her a Renaissance outcast. 
A rock hits her window. Tobias vanishes behind the curtains. Kahalee climbs through the window. Labored breathing, sweat beading on his fevered face, his bandaged hands carry a package.
Kahalee interrupts Xenatha.
“I can’t stay. I’m…I’m cursed.” he whispers. He hands her the package and disappears out the window.
Xenatha clutches the package, more mushroom skin and paste. She bites her lip then grins. Cursed blood?
“You will have your payment by tomorrow, Tobias,” she announces.

word count: 600
characters: Xenatha, Tobia, Kalahee (secondary character, Bena)
prompt: betrayal is in the air, the impending misfortune foreshadowed in the 1st prompt comes to pass, but one or more characters laugh at it, a long kept secret is revealed. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (3)

From the chapters of "The Protected Bloodlines."

They had just exited the mountain city entrance when a rock skipped. They both stopped. By the time Batu turned and withdrew his weapon, Nusa had already pounced on a young Taharan, the very young man who had approached and touched Saheeb. She held the young man by his throat and held him high above the ground,

“Who are you,” she asked shaking him violently, “Why are you following us?”

The young man choked and gasped for air as his legs dangled under him. He tried to speak but her talon shaped fingers dug into his throat.

“Nusa,” Batu said, “let him go so we can hear what he has to say.”

Nusa dropped the poor young man onto the ground while Batu aimed his weapon at him.

“Speak,” he demanded, “who are you and why are you following us?”

“Thank you,” he said rubbing his throat and coughing and gasping for air. “I was sent to watch you and make sure you were truly ready.”

Batu and Nusa looked at each other.

“Truly ready for what?” Batu asked

Tuesday Tunes: Take Me Away

Monday, October 17, 2011

Third Campaigner Challenge - The Seaside Encounter

Here is the Challenge:
Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post shouldshow:
  • that it’s morning, 
  • that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
  • that the MC (main character) is bored
  • that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
  • that something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise."   (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).

The Seaside Encounter

Venatt tossed and turned waiting for dawn. It was still dark out and everyone was still asleep. She snuck out of her wastopaneer and crept along the coast listening to the soft splash and gurgle of the dense waves guiding her away from the expedition camp.

The air was fresh; the thick syrupy seawater was rather cool and refreshing between her toes and sweet too. But every once in a while she would get a whiff of something rancid. Tacise said the sunrise on Feshara was spectacular! He was often over dramatic but so far, everything he said about the uninhabited planet lived up to its name, “Sweet Paradise.” Everything was delectable, even the sand. Yep, she tasted it.

Venatt continued until she reached a grassy cliff facing the rising sun. She settled down, digging her toes into the dirt and grass. She took a deep breath. Her nose twitched, that rank smell again. A memory tugged at her. Something Tacise said just before she left the ship. A warning. "Be careful not to run into any..." Any what, she tried to remember. A glowing turquoise sun rose over the purple Fesharan Sea making it shimmer like a purple diamond.

A faint rustle behind her broke Venatt’s serene repose. She turned and saw a metallic onyx puddle forming and growing in size. A synbatec! Venatt tried to run but her feet were no longer standing in grass but a smaller similar dark shiny puddle. She looked in horror unable to scream for help, not that anyone could have heard her. She had hiked over four miles to reach the promontory. The large puddle danced to the harmonious splashing of the waves. Then it happened.

As the sun rose above the sea, a beautiful creature stood before her smiling. 

If you liked my short story, please like it here I'm #21 :) Thank you!

Monday's Muse: Autumn's Flowers

"In Autumn, Every Leaf Is A Flower"

I love autumn. I think of all the seasons, it is my favorite. The change of colors from green to red and orange makes the trees look like they are on fire in the glow of the sun. :) There's also the cool, breezy weather that makes cozying up with some hot tea and a book PERFECT! Where I work, there are quite a few trees. I too some pictures of the different leaves and trees. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Author Interview + Book Giveaway: Kelly Starling Lyons

Hi everyone. I know I usually post my author interviews on Fridays but this is a special interview because today coincides with anniversary of the historic march for which the book represents. Everyone, it is my pleasure to introduce Kelly Starling Lyons, author of "One Million Men and Me."

Kelly Starling Lyons is a children's book author whose mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery. She is the author of CCBC Choices-honored picture book, One Million Men and Me, and chapter book, NEATE: Eddie's Ordeal. She also has two forthcoming picture books with G.P. Putnam's Sons that celebrate family relationships and freedom. Ellen's Broom debutsJanuary 5, 2012Tea Cakes for Tosh comes out that fall. She leads a book club for girls that celebrates literary treasures by black children's book creators of today and the past. She's also a member of The Brown Bookshelf (

1.    So Kelly, what inspired you to write “One Million Men and Me”?

I attended the Million Man March and was transformed by what I saw. So many images touched me – a sea of black men standing shoulder to shoulder, a boy addressing the masses like that was what he was born to do. Then, I saw a little girl walk past the reflecting pool clutching her father’s hand. Her eyes twinkled like diamonds. She looked like a little princess in a sea of kings.

The memory of the men and that sweet girl inspired my picture book, One Million Men and Me. I wanted to share the story of the March with a new generation and celebrate that incredible time in history.

2.    What were some of the challenges, if any, you faced with the whole process of getting your book published?

Just Us Books was a wonderful and supportive publisher. My biggest challenge began before I sent them my story for consideration.  I felt overwhelmed at first by the idea of writing about something as historic as the Million Man March. I wondered if I could convey the emotion of the day from the point of view of a child.  Those worries blocked my creativity for a while. Then, I attended a NC fatherhood conference and saw fathers embracing like brothers and was taken back to the images I remembered at the March. I went home and the draft came out in a matter of hours. I wrote it like a free verse poem. That’s what the March was to me.

3.    If you could do it all over again, what are some things you would change or do?

I would worry less. No story is ever perfect. But I feel good about how the book came out. I believe that you’re called to write certain stories for a reason. I’m blessed to have written a children’s book about the Million Man March.

4.    I hear that you have more books in the works? Can you tell us a little bit about them?

I have two picture books with Penguin/G.P. Putnam’s Sons on the way. Ellen’s Broom, illustrated by Daniel Minter, debuts January 5, 2012. It’s set during Reconstruction and celebrates freedom, marriage and family relationships. Tea Cakes for Tosh, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, comes out fall 2012. It’s a story that was inspired by my relationship with my grandma whose cookies and stories transported me from her Pittsburgh kitchen to another place and time.

5.     As a writer, who are your main influences?

My mom and grandparents are big influences. They cultivated in me a love of the arts, respect for those who came before and the knowledge that I’m here for a reason. To write is a blessing and responsibility. Authors I admire include Jacqueline Woodson, Eleanora E. Tate, Sharon G. Flake, Carole Boston Weatherford, Patricia C. McKissack and Virginia Hamilton. I also owe a lot to Just Us Books. Publishers Wade and Cheryl Hudson (both writers themselves) inspire me.

6.    Has writing and becoming an author always been your calling?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child. I flirted with other ideas growing up – being a chemist, a teacher. But I always returned to writing. My mom encouraged creativity. She took my brother and me to children’s theater performances. We watched her write and act. Early on, I got a chance to see how writing allowed a special expression that could move people in amazing ways. I write as a way to give back and share what’s in my heart.

7.    Let’s talk multiculturalism. What is it and why is it important in children’s literature?

All children need to see themselves, their experiences and history reflected in the pages of children’s books. That’s what multiculturalism in kid lit champions. It matters because children who feel invisible can tune out. And kids who never learn about cultures other than their own miss learning about the wonderful ways we’re different and alike.

8.    Can you share with us a list of some really fabulous multicultural children’s books?

There are so many fantastic books. I could write about this all day. Here are some great contemporary and historical picture books that celebrate different cultures and times – Around Our Way on Neighbors’ Day by Tameka Fryer Brown, Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson, I Love My Hair by Natasha Anatasia Tarpley,  Mama’s Saris by Pooja Makhijani, Chachaji’s Cup by Uma Krishnaswami, Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Papa and Me by Arthur Dorros and Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha Vamos.

9.    What were some of your favorite books growing up?

Growing up, I loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. As a child, I rarely saw children’s books that featured main characters of color. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry was my first. It made a big impression on me.

10. What are some of your favorite books now?

My favorite genre is picture books. Some stories I read over and over are Jazzy Miz Mozetta by Brenda C. Roberts, Coming On Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson, Mabel Dancing by Amy Hest, My Friend Maya Loves to Dance by Cheryl Willis Hudson, Moses by Carole Boston Weatherford, Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia C. McKissack and The Memory String by Eve Bunting.

11. If sweet little Nia, from “One Million Men and Me” could share her thoughts with us today, what would she say?

She would say that she’ll never forget the Million Man March. The love she saw in her daddy’s face and the men around her will stay with her always.

Thanks so much for interviewing me. You asked wonderful questions. It’s an honor to be featured.

Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule Kelly and sharing with us your journey and the importance of multiculturalism in children's literature. :)

And now folks, on to our giveaway!!!! 
Please fill out the form below for a chance to win a copy of Kelly's book, "One Million Men and Me"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October fun ahead! Warm Fuzzies and Adventure!

Okay, so Oct 24th is going to a big day for me! :D I am participating in two events starting on that day!

Juliana L. Brandt, is hosting the Warm Fuzzies Blog Fest!  A month of celebrating writers. It's all about bringing us writers together so we can support one another and share our adventures into the publishing world.

There are lots of prizes and a chance for you to win them! 

Also, join the adventure in "Ahoy! Sea Serpent!" Hosted by Kerri Cuevas  along with twenty or so wonderful writers and bloggers, we will spin a fun tale of danger and adventure in the deep blue. :D

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rule of Three Writing Challenge: Part Two

The Rule of Three Blogfest, or REN3 continues! It's hosted by Stuart Nager of Tale SpinningDamyanti Biswas of Daily (W)riteLisa Vooght of Flash Fiction, and J.C. Martin of Fighter Writer. My story is below. Check out part one if you are new to the Blogfest or need a refresher :) Enjoy!

Part One

Part Two 
“Take this to the storage room, Kahalee,” an elderly man says passing the lad an armload of packages and boxes. 

Traditional medicine men from Kanda, Kahalee and his grandfather run a pharmacy in the remote town of Renaissance. They happened upon the robust town as they traveled west on the Espadon River escaping war and poverty in their homeland.

His grandfather piles the boxes high. Kahalee can barely see over the last box. He grins. His grandfather loves challenging his physical and intellectual abilities. Kahalee’s muscles bulge under the weight of the load. He turns and waddles away. He descends a flight of stairs that lead to a long hallway with locked storage rooms beneath their store. Kahalee looks to the far end of the hall. An ominous black door stares back.
"You are never to enter this storage room," his grandfather's voice echoes firmly in his head. But something draws him to the forbidden door. He sets the boxes down carefully and fumbles for the keys. Key after key, the door remains lock. Just as he gives up and turns to continue his task, his foot kicks a loose tile. As he puts it back, he notices it is uneven. He finds a key beneath the tile. Kahalee snatches up the key and inserts it into the lock. He pauses for a moment, but a powerful hypnotic force behind the door compels him to turn the key. 

The room is no different than the others, cold and filled with boxes of herbs, medicines and potions. A powerful generator keeps the temperature just above freezing point. The encroaching Schiavona desert brought with it dry windstorms and scorching summer days. Again, he feels a pull against his chest towards a corner hidden behind sacks and crates. While pushing them aside, Kahalee's hand hits a medium sized black metal box. 
“What’s this,” he says, running his hand over it. Sadness, fear and horror creeps up his hand and arm. Kahalee snatches his hand away. Never had an inanimate object evoked such emotions. The smooth and cold sensation sparks a memory, a long forgotten memory of his past. A disturbing memory hangs at the back of his mind, screaming, pain, fire, a name ‘Faydal’ and the stench of death. Yet, he could not explain what and why this box was among the most volatile and delicate medicines. This unnerves Kahalee because he is known for his excellent memory and attention to detail.  He tries to open it but the black cube has no locking mechanisms and is sealed tight. Kahalee tries to lift it but it’s secured to the storage room’s concrete floor. Then it happens, a tingly feeling in his hands, then numbness. Kahalee hears the bell of the front door opening. 

“Ka-haa-lay,” his grandfather calls from the shop. Must be one of our close friends and customers Kahalee thinks to him self. His grandfather never yells in front of strangers. And as long as they have lived in Renaissance, he still considers the towners and settlers as strangers. Kahalee shakes his hand to get the feeling back. He closes the door and locks it. He turns to find his grandfather standing behind him, a look of horror in his eyes. 
"Did you touch it, Kahalee?" his grandfather demands.
Kahalee shakes his head.
“Did you touch the box?"
Kahalee only stares at his grandfather, his eyes mirror shock, horror, fear and pain. His grandfather looks at Kahalee’s hands and his chest drops.
"You have killed us all, Kahalee," he says in a soft, defeated voice. “Faydal.”

word count: 599
character: Kahalee
prompt(s): One of the characters is revealed to be not who he is, A character lies about an important matter, Someone is killed or nearly killed.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (2)

From the chapters of "The Protected Bloodlines."

“What is it?” Uma asked.

“It is the decayed remains of a changeling who dies outside of the changeling pool.” Shumee said.

As the men flashed their lights, something caught her eyes. It was metallic. Uma used the end of a riffle to separate the object from the decayed remains. When the object was finally free, Uma gasped, dropping her flashlight. It was a medallion, the same medallion she saw on the female changeling earlier that day in the food court. She held her hands to her face.

“This can’t be, I just saw her today. She even spoke to me.”

“She spoke to you?” Shumee repeated.

“Well, sort of. She was leaving with a group of other changelings. She stopped at the door and mouthed something to me.”

“What did she say?” Gronos asked.

Uma pressed her fingers against her temples to help her think and remember.
“She said: be careful of the marked ones, they are your enemies,” she said looking up at Gronos. “At the time, I did not know what it meant, but now, I think she may have been warning me about something.”

Tajeej looked at Gronos, “I think it is time to tell them brother.”

Everyone looked at Gronos for him to explain.

“I had hoped this day would not come, but it seems the prophecy is destined to be fulfilled,” Gronos said. “I will explain everything, but please let us first give this poor Mat’hool a proper burial.”

Gronos ordered Aidil and his security team to gather the remains and wrap them in a ceremonial cloth to be taken back to Sumatra.

Tuesday Tunes: Wonderful Chill Out Music

After the day I had, this was a really nice rest and relaxation soundtrack. I hope you all enjoy it too!

Happy Resting! :S

Friday, October 7, 2011

Book Giveaway Winner: I Am & I Love by Nadine Johnson

Drum roll please........

!! Susanna !!

!!! Congratulations !!! 

Please send me your contact information so that I may send you your prizes. :D

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rule of Three Writing Challenge: Part One

The Rule of Three Blogfest, or REN3, has arrived! It's hosted by Stuart Nager of Tale SpinningDamyanti Biswas of Daily (W)riteLisa Vooght of Flash Fiction, and J.C. Martin of Fighter Writer.

My story is below :) 

Deep beneath the ground, in a long forgotten cavern, young Tobias sits on a cold earthen floor twisting twine into rope. A soft glow flickers in the darkened room but it doesn’t give much light. His colorless eyes do not need the light to complete his task.

“Tell me again, Naan, about the awakening,” he asks hopefully.

He loves to hear this tale, especially the way his grandfather tells it. It fills him with hope as his belly rumbles. There was a time when the rumble was soft and almost undetectable, but lately, it has become louder and more agitated.

Sitting by the whisper of a fire carved into a hole in the earth wall, a silver haired woman, wrinkled with splotchy skin shudders. She puts a clay pot over the dwindling flames and throws some leaves, dried mushrooms, and roots inside in the vain hopes of suppressing his hunger and prolonging the inevitable.

“Will it be grand?” he asks without looking up, twining his rope tighter.

A deep growl of approval and affirmation comes from the farthest part of the cavern where the fire’s light cannot reach.
“But you must be patient, the awakening must not be rushed. When it comes, the earth opens and releases it bounties. There is abundance, there is life, there is rebirth and there is freedom. The awakening is a grand, grand time that must not be hurried or all would be lost.”

The boy’s stomach grumbles again. This time so does Naan’s. The old woman responds by tossing another root into the pot. A tear rolls down her leathery pale face. She has run out of time and food. The awakening was approaching far sooner than she had hoped. But then, being in the dark earth hole, she had lost all since of time. How long has it been?

She was once young and beautiful. But that was a long time ago. She tries to remember that day. The day life as she knew it ended. A life she tried to lengthen to immortality through myths and legends. Did she really think she’d find an escape from the sickness that had spread throughout Renaissance, the outpost town her family found by sheer luck and claimed their own?

She leans closer to the pot to smell the cooking roots and leaves, a concoction that has thus far tempered the hunger for the awakening. When she leans back, she can feel the hot sticky breath of Naan against her neck. She freezes stiff, her heart beat stops and her blood slows to a snail pace crawl. She can feel him baring his teeth as he inhales the scent of fear and regret that emanates from her pores. Or is it her remorse for being the catalyst that started the awakening all over again he relished. Yes, this will not be the first awakening of the town of Renaissance.

Little did her people know the lonely town in the middle of nowhere was ghostly empty for a reason. His stomach growls sending chills down her spin. The little boy looks up from his work with a grin, baring his fully formed little teeth that are now razor sharp, ready for the feeding.

“Remember,” she says to herself. “Try to remember.”
But all she can remember is her father’s last breath on that fateful day.

“An evil deed can only beget evil.”

 She hands them their last meal of cooked leaves and roots, as the new town of Renaissance rises with the sun far above them unbeknownst of the coming awakening.

word count: 596
prompt: Impending misfortune
character: Tobias

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators