Inspiring teachers to inspire their students at the Oregon Reading Association’s (ORA) Winter Institute!
The Winter Institute included workshops and author talks.
I am curious about your books. What is your goal for your readers? What will they learn from your books? They sound a bit like the Harry Potter books but I have not read those, nor do I wish to. What is the source of the “good” that opposes the evil?
I work in low-income (Title 1) schools as a substitute teacher. I was moved by male reluctant readers. I have a personal love of underdogs and the characters Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Alex Rider. I wanted to reach out and engage young and sometimes troubled youths and to connect them with a character that struggles everyday to do the right thing and make the most of his situation. My protagonist never claims to be perfect and often doubts himself. Some people see him as a troublemaker and others as a hero.
My young adult novels teach about living with consequences, talking things out, trusting in yourself as well as thinking of others and not just yourself. There are also underlying themes of anti-bullying and anti-gang.
I gave Owen, the protagonist, the special ability to be able to sense bad things that had happened to people. He is then driven to make them right, or at least better. He develops a genuine desire to help others. It is both Owen’s nature and destiny to be “good”, to fight against people who hurt others.
I hope that helps.
Thank you for your interest and if you would like to know more… please visit my website or send another message.
Welcome back to the one and only Cheryllyn Dyess! Share with us… What’s new?
What is your favorite place to eat? Why? Right now it’s Chik-fil-a because I can eat almost anything on their menu and not have to worry about my food allergies. Being allergic to anything you enjoy eating is non-stop torture.
What is your favorite junk food vice? Cheetos, especially the jalapeno cheddar..yuuummmmyyyy
Besides writing and reading, what is your most favorite thing to do? Oh this is easy, Fishing! I love to fish, it could be my love for the outdoors and water that makes it so desirable but I do enjoy it.
Did you get to quit your day job and become an author or do you still have a day job and writing is something you do for fun? If you still have a day job, what is it? I have a day job of sorts, I sell Avon. I actually started selling to fund my publishing budget and now do it to help fund the budget needs of the household. Its flexible and that I love, not that I get more writing time because I have found that selling Avon can keep you (well, me ) very busy. People love it. One day it will be nice to be able to write only for a job, but until then Avon is what I am doing.
What has been the strangest thing that a reader has asked you? I usually don’t get weird or strange things asked but the one time I did I had to think twice before answering, a reader had asked if I were to put them in a book would their character be good or bad. I literally just stared at them as if they were talking in Greek to me; I was trying to find the best answer. When I did reply I told them they would die off early for sure! They didn’t ask me anything else. 🙂 Awesome answer. I get caught flat-footed too sometimes!
What are some of your favorite genres to read and to write? Fantasy, Sci-Fi (but these are a given I would think) I enjoy paranormal with some thriller and suspense, a touch of romance but not too much. To me that is the perfect recipe for a great book.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel? I believe my toughest critic to accept was the criticism on my main character. I was told the character was cold and unreachable. This was hard for me to accept because she is supposed to be that way in the beginning but as you read on in the series she really opens up and becomes more personal with the reader. My biggest compliment came from a review where they referred to my writing as having a poetic flow to it; that made me smile inside and out. I did not let either remark change how I wrote the next novel. I have a style of writing that is my own and although I try to better myself in grammar and structure if I were to change my style, well then it would not be mine anymore.
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite? As with many authors the creation of the story and bringing it to life is the best part. I enjoy making new worlds; new people, plants and animals. Least favorite, OH this is easy…marketing! This is where the work really comes in to play and it is an all the time job.
When you sit down to write, do you do it the old-fashioned way with pen and paper or do you use a computer? Do you prefer one way or the other? I usually hit the laptop only, but in the recent months I have tried to the pen to paper method for a new novel. I must say it has a different feel to it when you write and scribble out words and put new ones in. Only rough part is reading what you wrote to get into the computer later. Shhh, don’t tell but I have the worst writing ever. Ha! I don’t believe it!
Why do you write? I write because I feel I have no choice. I have written for over 30 years and it seems like it just comes to me naturally to put words to paper and create. I feel free spiritually when I am writing, now I just share it with the world.
Who was your current novel dedicated to? Any particular reason? The dedication in Kyluna is to my Aunt Debbie. She always seems to be a strong woman who keeps her faith. She gives kind words of advice and always has shown me unconditional love. She is one of the few women in my life that has always been a wonderful example of how a mother, aunt, daughter should be to those around her. She reminds me of my grandmother (her mom).
Please tell me about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it? Jein’s Journey was my way of putting this world’s troubles of acceptance into a new world that others could easily relate to without it being too close to home. In many ways the characters and underlying lessons are those we deal with daily. I was bullied a lot growing up – kids at school and at home (not many people know this about me). I really felt that no matter what I did growing up, it was never good enough for people to accept me as I am until I met my best friend that is. She loved me for who I was at any given moment of the day. My inspiration is really my own story with a twist.
What else do you have in the pipeline? I am currently working on two different novels, A Witch’s Dream World and The Diamond Diaries. I anticipate them to be ready to share with the world in 2015.
Author Interview with Danica Cornell of the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network
1. What is your favorite place to eat? Why?
Thanks to my daughter, my current restaurant craze is Chipotle. It’s all her fault, I swear! LOL! Actually, this is a GOOD thing, especially since the food is not only delicious, but nutritious and reasonably priced.
2. What is your favorite junk food vice?
Hmm. Depending on the day, it’s a toss-up between movie theatre buttered popcorn or chocolate. On a particularly naughty nutritional day, I might have both at once!
3. What’s on your reading list right now?
The Power of Six by Nicholas C. Rossis. It’s a book consisting of six science fiction short stories. As a sci-fi writer myself, this is right up my alley!
4. We all have our little things when it comes to reading that bug us. What makes you cranky when you read a novel?
I can’t stand it when the first several chapters of a novel feel disjointed. I’ve read a couple of books that suffered from this very problem, and truthfully, it was hard to continue all the way through.
5. What 7 words would you use to describe yourself?
Socially-conscious; divergent-thinking; truth-seeking; caring; loyal; insightful; and inquisitive.
6. What does a typical day look like for you? On a typical weekend, what can we find you doing? Who are you with?
I write in some capacity six days per week – sometimes seven. Due to the long morning walks I take with my dog, Hugo, my work days usually begin at 9:00 a.m. Without these, I’d be settled in a good hour earlier, but I’ve learned that by spending quality time with him first thing (and tiring him out), he’s better behaved. This allows me to focus more on my craft, and less on his antics. LOL! I try to wrap my days up by 6:00 p.m., but due to the numerous hats I wear as both a writer and nanotechnology start-up owner, this isn’t always possible.
On the weekends, in between the normal things we all have to tend to, I enjoy gardening, swimming, hiking, experimenting with new recipes, going to the movies,
and going out to eat. I’m usually found hanging out with my family or friends. Of course, my dog is close by, whenever possible.
7. What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
I’d say my favourite part has been both the writing itself and all the wonderful new friends I’ve made. My least favourite part is all the time spent on learning the behind-the-scenes technical aspects of setting up websites, etc.
8. Please tell me about your novel. Who or what was your inspiration behind it?
My novel, which will be released this year, is entitled DARK STAR I: The Assassins. It’s the first in my science fiction/fantasy series and takes place in the year 2045, when a cruel twist of fate puts the fate of humanity in the hands of one woman. Dubbed the Department of Defense’s “Dame of Death,” Dr. Rachel Cohen is a beautiful nanotechnology engineer who seems to have it all – fame, smarts, and access to a billion dollar fortune. That is until her world is unexpectedly turned upside down. Without warning, Rachel finds herself grappling with the murders of those closest to her while being hunted by an impossible-to-detect enemy. Now a fugitive, she must rely on a man with a sordid past to help her save humankind from extinction. There’s just one problem. The only way to do this is to embrace the darkness within her – something Rachel has spent her entire life fighting against.
My inspiration for this story came from three different sources: My studies of Judaism; my work in nanotechnology business development; and my background in psychology.
To be clear, I am not Jewish. I simply studied about the Jewish religion and culture several years ago, which is how I came up with DARK STAR’s protagonist, Dr. Rachel Cohen. My work in nanotechnology dovetails perfectly with science fiction, and my BA in Psychology is immensely helpful in creating and developing my characters. Actually, character development is a big thing with me.
9. Who was your current novel dedicated to? Any particular reason?
My book is dedicated to my husband and daughter because frankly, after all the hours I’ve spent writing and editing, (as opposed to doing things with them), it’s the very least I could do! LOL!
10. Why do you write?
Mainly because I want to entertain readers. But the truth is that I also hope to open a dialogue about the directions technology and society are taking as we head deeper into the 21st century.
Danica’s Website: http://www.danicacornell.com
Danica’s Blog: http://danica-cornell.com/
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DanicaCornellChannel/
The Fantasy/Science Fiction Network (FSFN) is a collection of authors, bloggers, and reviewers who are passionate about finding and creating quality fantasy/ sci-fi books which are also teen safe (G, PG or PG-13 rated). The FSF Network believes it is possible to create fantastic works of fantasy and science fiction without resorting to graphic violence, explicitly harsh language , or sex.
FSFN website: http://fsfnet.com/
Writing is a love of mine. It has brought me up when I’ve been down, it has made my dreams a reality, and given me an outlet for my emotions. My writing is an extension of me, just as a sword is to a swordsman, a hammer is to a blacksmith, a wand is to a wizard. I write to create. I write to live. I write for me.
It saddens me when I notice aspiring authors asking whether their story ideas match the current market. Did you not want become an author for the love of writing? I’m sure no one believes they will write a novel and instantly be earning millions. There is no get-rich-quick scheme. Are you going to put aside that marvellous plot you have been spinning for weeks during your daydreams merely because it is not the next ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Pride and Prejudice’? You want to write that story, the one that has been turning your mind into a playground, so write it!
Ever wondered how different genres were invented? Fantasy and Sci-fi? Horror? Paranormal? Steampunk and Post-apocalyptic? It was likely because an author wrote some different, something that was not applicable to the current ‘market’, and it caught on. I’m not saying that your story will create history in literature or that others stories will use yours as a genre template. Just write what you want to write and write it as if it is the best thing your imagination has created yet.
When I write I care not for whether others will buy or even read what I publish. The best feeling I get from writing is knowing that I have created something beautiful, a monument to the human imagination. I have slaved away outlining, typing a manuscript, editing, designing the cover, marketing, and… waiting. In the end, I have written a novel, something that is truly mine. A child of my mind. A vision made reality. I am proud because it is all mine and I have sacrificed nothing by writing exactly what I wanted unbiased by others opinions.
So, my message to all aspiring authors is to write the story that you want to write. Put aside all those distracting thoughts about whether your book will be accepted by an agent, whether it will sell, whether it will be read. You want to be an author for a reason; I’m guessing you love to write stories. Then just write.
Scarlett Van Dijk
Want to know more? Meet Scarlett!
Scarlett Van Dijk is an Australian author of young adult fantasy novels. Her debut novel, Sky Stone, is expected to be published this year.
Scarlett began writing novels at the age of fifteen when she discovered how writing can make dreams come to life. Writing was an emotional release for her during high school and continued to be during university when she began writing the sequel to Sky Stone, Guardian Core.
She is currently undertaking her final year at university, studying Medical Imaging, and hopes to be a fully qualified radiographer at the end of this year. In her spare time, when she isn’t writing, she likes to train in martial arts or connect with other authors online.
To connect with Scarlett please visit her website: http://scarlettvandijk.weebly.com/