Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I met Ace (in non-alien form) at a conference, and I was really intrigued with JULIUS CAESAR BROWN AND THE GREEN GAS MYSTERY:

When a mysterious green gas crisis breaks wind, the Global Air Group (GAG) offers a million-dollar prize to the first person to discover the cause. Julius Caesar Brown dreams of winning the cash so he can pay off Jake the Snake, the blackmailing bully who threatens to ruin his chances with the cutest girl in fifth grade. But Julius can barely pass a math test, let alone solve an international scientific mystery. What he needs is money. Fast. His mom volunteers him to help the Zombie Lady. Yeah. The crazy woman down the street who every kid knows eats boys' brains. But Miss Crabtree's no zombie. And winning the million-dollar prize may not be as far-fetched as Julius once thought.

Your website bio states that you grew up in a house full of "deadly stinkers, tree houses, and scary neighbors." How has this influenced your writing, and can you tell us more about your journey toward publication?  

As a wee tot, I spent a lot of time alone hanging out in trees, daydreaming and making up stories. I didn’t start writing until I’d lived almost four decades and I truly believed I’d be published within a year—ha! It took five.

I daydreamed a lot as a kid too (and still do!). I love the premise of JULIUS CAESAR BROWN AND THE GREEN GAS MYSTERY. What inspired the idea, and what was the most fun about writing it?  

I sat down one day to brainstorm some “what if” possibilities and I remembered a breath mint commercial in which people’s bad breath came out green. I’d always wondered what life would be like if our gas came out green and thus the story was born. I wrote this story in thirty days and had so much fun doing all kinds of fart research and also discovering a plausible solution to the green gas mystery.

Would love to hear more about what's involved with "fart research"! Who is Ace Hansen, and what are his favorite things (besides gummy worms)?  

Ace is my inner 11-year-old boy who thinks he’s an alien. Besides gummy worms, he likes telling potty humored jokes, spits in public, plays cowboy songs on the harmonica, pulls cat’s tails, and loves to read Roald Dahl’s books. 
I love Roald Dahl! Matilda is one of my favorite books. If you were stuck on a desert island (or a faraway planet) what books would you take with you and why?  

I’d have to load up my e-reader with tens of thousands of books of many varieties because I am a voracious book worm and I hate reading the same book twice!

Thanks, Ace! To grab JULIUS CAESAR BROWN AND THE GREEN GAS MYSTERY for yourself, click on the link below:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another Operation Awesome Post

Once again, I'm on Operation Awesome this week--talking about roadblocks in the writer's journey.

Next week I'll be interviewing Ace Hansen, the "alien" author of JULIUS CAESAR BROWN AND THE GREAT GAS MYSTERY.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I stumbled across E.M. Castellan's website, and I loved the premise of her books, particularly LILY IN THE SHADOWS.

Title: Lily In The Shadows

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Status: Complete at 71,000 words

Pitch: 1862: When dark magic throws London into chaos and puts her job at risk, a flower girl with no time for nonsense investigates children’s disappearances and terrorist attacks before society collapses and she loses everything.

Interview Questions:

Your website bio states that you are repped by Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management. How did you find Erin as your agent, and what do you like most about her?

Erin is actually the one who found me! I was querying LILY and I took part in a Twitter Pitch Party (#PitchMas) in July 2013. Erin requested my query and first chapters, then later on she asked for the full manuscript. My querying process was quite lengthy but successful in the end, since Erin offered representation in January this year. What I’ve liked most about her so far is how much she believes in LILY’s potential. It’s always hard to judge the quality of one’s own writing and it’s incredibly uplifting to have someone as experienced as Erin believe in it.

I'm glad you found an agent that's such a good fit for you and your work! And I love the premise of LILY IN THE SHADOWS. Where did you get the idea from and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished?

Although I love Steampunk literature, it has glamorized the Victorian era, with heroines in beautiful dresses, innovative gentlemen, steam-powered inventions and afternoon teas. I wrote LILY because I wanted to write the story of an obscure 19th Century flower girl, with no special power or talent, who tries to save the city of London from chaos and magical destruction. Lily lives in Whitechapel, she is partly deaf and she has no hope of ever marrying a king and becoming a princess in a fairy tale. But to me, it doesn’t mean her story shouldn’t be told. Every girl matters and her actions can change the world, even in the shadows.

A great lesson for all girls! You also write at There And Draft Again – A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers. What has this taught you and what are the advantages to joining a "fellowship" of writers?

My goal when bringing together this “fellowship” was to connect with other unpublished Fantasy writers. The idea behind this project was to record our roads to publication, whether we chose to self-publish (like Mara, Rachel or Kathi) or to follow the traditional route (like Jessy, Kate, Raewyn and me). We post twice a week and we share our writing tips, reading recommendations or advice to use social media. It’s allowed us to meet other writers online and to build a little community within the big writing community.

Those communities are so important--and vital. You mentioned that you work at a full time job. How do you balance writing with day-to-day tasks, and if you have any recommendations for writers juggling full-time jobs?

Juggling is the right word here! It sometimes feels like I’m ALWAYS busy. I work an average of 55 hours a week at my day job, and I fit writing in when I can: mostly in the evening and on Sundays. I usually manage to set aside one hour for writing on weekdays, and on Sundays at least half a day. I try to make the most of the time I have to write: I put on music, tune out all distractions, and I write. I don’t have a set word count per day, but I try to work on my manuscript a little bit every day: my goal is to go to bed knowing I’ve made some progress on my Work In Progress, even small.

Sounds like a great process! What do you know now about the writing business that you wish you'd known sooner?

I wish I had known about the online writing community sooner. I’ve been writing for years, but I only started my blog in March 2012, and joined Twitter a few months later. The support - and helpful advice - I have found online has been amazing, and I wish I had taken advantage of it earlier. Writing can be a lonely business, I can only advise everyone to reach out and connect with other writers.

To find out more about EM Castellan, click the links below:

EM Castellan
YA Fantasy writer, worlds builder & insatiable reader

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

This week, find me on Operation Awesome

I am now splitting my time between this blog, and contributing to a blog called Operation Awesome. This week, I was there on Monday, relating writing to improvisational theater.

Feel free to have a look, and I'll likely be posting something new here next week.