As the first acquisition from HarperCollins’ InkPop site, Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon sets a bold precedent. Starting as an unknown title, Carrier climbed the ranks until it gained the illustrious top five spot on InkPop. There it gained attention of a top editor and the rest is history. Please welcome author Leigh Fallon to The Underground!
Katie: First of all, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to
answer a few questions. I have to say I was very interested in your path to
publication when I learned you were HarperCollins’ first acquisition from
InkPop. How have things changed for you now that you are a published author?
Leigh: No problem! It's my pleasure.
Things haven't changed hugely. I'm a mom of four so I've had to keep my feet firmly on the ground and balance my time carefully to fit in my kid's hectic schedules and still have time for writing, marketing, and of course all the travel associated with being published. It's a tough task, but I'm managing.
Katie: You incorporate a lot of mythology in Carrier of the Mark. What research
did you do to include those elements in your story?
Leigh: I was always fascinated with celtic mythology. In Ireland, from a very young age, we are introduced to mythology and the folklore associated with it. We are also brought to the sites and locations from where the mythology originates. Most of the lore I've used in Carrier of the Mark is from places I visited on school tours. It kind of got into my bones and stayed with me. When I started writing Carrier of the Mark, I researched the myths further and pulled from other sources to make my story tie in with old stories and the historical sites. I wanted to try and make my story grounded in history. It made it feel more tangible.
Katie: Tell us about the process of taking a draft through to publication. What
was the most daunting?
Leigh: My rough draft of Carrier of the Mark was three spiral bound journals of my handwriting. I wrote the whole 150K story in longhand. Once I realized I had a book on my hands, I sat down and started typing it up, editing it down to 100K words. This was my real first draft. It was long, scrappy, and in need of a great deal of editing, but it was my first ever book, and I loved it.
Then it went through a first round of edits with my editor. This was the most daunting part. Looking at a 15 page editors letter and a marked up manuscript covered in green pen can kind of take your breath away. The hardest part is knowing where to start. But I found my editing groove and we sliced and diced the story, tightening it up, cutting chapters, and tweaking characters until it was reading much better. Then we hit a second round of edits, again, editing down to improve pacing. Editing is tough, but I really enjoy it. My editor, Erica Sussman is wonderful to work with. A book is a real team effort.
Then it was on to copy edits, which weirdly enough found the most taxing part of editing.
Katie: What can we expect from the sequel, Shadow of the Mark?
Leigh: As the name would imply, Shadow of the Mark is darker than Carrier of the Mark. From the first chapter you realize things aren't really going according to plan. The Marked Ones are getting stronger, but all is not as it should be. Things get complicated as newcomers and people from the past work their ways into the lives of the Marked. There's quite a bit of action as Megan flexes her elemental muscles and discovers what she's really capable of.
Ken Coleman’s book is a deep psychological portrayal of three families torn apart when a l6-year-old girl shoots and murders one of her father’s best friends. In The Ripple Effect, Mr. Coleman also examines the ongoing question of when, or even if, a child should be tried in a court of law as an adult. I’ve invited Mr. Coleman to join us today to share a little about himself, his life and his projects. Welcome to the Underground, author Ken Coleman!
Kimberly: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
Mr. Coleman: I am a native of Washington D.C., currently residing in North Carolina. My first novel, Memories Vision is a fictional story of Queenie Jones, the most famous, notorious and controversial black female entertainer of all time.
Kimberly: Where did your inspiration for The Ripple Effect come from?
Mr. Coleman: In Florida, a 14 year was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. That could be another 70 years. I asked myself, what do we do now? What do we do with this child for 70 years? What do we do with a child that commits murder?
Kimberly: It is apparent throughout your book you are a man of faith. Was this instilled in your childhood or did you build your faith later in life?
Mr. Coleman: My faith is a culmination of my life’s lessons. Faith is that which is not seen. In any adversity, faith becomes difficult to maintain. We try to understand, yet many things are beyond our understanding. Perhaps it is the death of a child that makes you become an advocate for a cure. Perhaps it is an incident to make you become an advocate for change. Everything happens for a reason. Nothing is by chance or coincidence. Faith is that which brings understanding to what we do not understand.
Title: The Ripple Effect Author:
Ken Coleman Genre:
One murder; three families torn apart. This is what happens when the l6-year-old daughter of a well-known television evangelist murders one of her father’s best friends, a beloved teacher in the school district. When Molly Little, the adopted daughter of a prominent television Evangelist Larry Little, is tried as an adult in a court of law, found guilty and sentenced to death, everyone has an opinion.
Larry Little, Sterling Sharpe (the criminal attorney who is representing Molly) and the victim Fred Black have been best friends since childhood. They grew up together; their children grew up together. And now the families turn against each other, each casting the blame of Black's murder on the other. But something else begins to happen when each family member turns inward to face his or her own demons.
Molly Little is a murderer and needs to be punished. But should a l6-year-old be tried as an adult? Wasn't it Fred Black's responsibility to be the role model? On the other hand, his murder was premeditated.
While in prison, Molly Little forms prayer groups, tutors inmates and reads the Bible daily. Molly’s ongoing interviews with a radio talk show host, who tries to gain listeners by sensationalizing her story, not only has an effect on his life, but also his listeners. Quote
: Every man has an enemy within. One that pushes him to the edge, dares him to be devious, outrageous, unconventional. The enemy whispers, “take the moment, seize the moment, it's all about this moment. It’s very, now.” Every man has a stranger within. Some call it an alter ego, some call it a dark side. He's always lurking, angry, frustrated, calculating, powerful. Sometimes he takes control for self-preservation. Sometimes he takes control for power. Sometimes he takes control just because he can. To remind us he’s always there, to remind us we should fear his power, to remind us at any given moment your life could change, forever. Opinion:
A diamond in the rough, The Ripple Effect
is a gripping emotional story. Ken Coleman ‘had me’ with his opening paragraph (above). The story line was enough to peak my interest, but just as compelling was Coleman’s two distinct voices. Chapters open with prose that flows so beautifully I wanted to memorize them while Coleman’s deepest feelings and thoughts tell the story. Raw emotion will force readers to question who they think they are verses who others perceive them to be. Although there are times when grammatical errors slow the pace, there is no doubt that Ken Coleman is a writer. Recommendation:
For teenagers who need to realize the consequences of just one futile mistake and for parents and grandparents to understand ongoing communication with our offspring is essential, especially teenagers who may not know they have lost their way.Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars Links:Ken Coleman's website The Ripple Effect on AmazonIf you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Behold from their seed shall arise another generation, much afterwards; He who raises that generation shall reveal to them the books of thy handwriting.
-The Secrets of Enoch 35:1
Part One: For the Money
I discover the body of my beloved Aunt Paula, lying next to a wall of holiday decorations like a discarded doll. For a moment I seriously think it's an elaborate practical joke and I look around expectantly, waiting for the punch line. Never one to let things get boring, Aunt P has a talent for making even the most mundane tasks seem like great fun. She's Mary Poppins and the Mad Hatter rolled into one and kids of all
ages flock to her like candy. This seems over the top, even for her, and it takes a minute to wrap my mind around what I'm seeing.
I had been sent down to the cavernous storage room under the sanctuary to retrieve a box of flyers; a menial errand to keep me occupied and out of the way. Not that I minded, but in a building that seats twenty-five thousand people, the trek down to storage is a long one. Rehearsals are going on for the big Easter Sunrise service and reporters are upstairs interviewing my mother and stepfather, John, about the elaborate festivities scheduled for Sunday. My stepfather is John Matthews, president and founder of the Omega Alliance, which is currently the largest church in the world. His face is broadcast to every country on the planet twice a day and ever since membership officially surpassed even the Catholics, the publicity has gotten ridiculous.
Back before I was two years old, my mother, Elizabeth Matthews, divorced my real daddy, Rick O'Bannon, who was a handsome son of a gun, but a drinker. I was still in diapers when he ran out for a pack of Camels one day and decided life would be better elsewhere. A couple years later she married John Matthews, who was the pastor of the little white church down the street from where we lived. John already had two kids from his first wife, who most people think passed away from some mysterious illness, but was really suicide. His daughter, Faith, was my age and his son Simon, two years older. While the rest of the family is tall and sandy haired with those famous piercing brown eyes, my hair is raven black and when I was real little my eyes were green, just like my father. As I've gotten older, they tend to be more hazel, which Faith says is further proof that I'm full of it.
About a year or so after they got married, my mother and John had another baby they named Joseph, after one of the great heroes of the bible. Before he became a hero though, his siblings found him annoying enough to try to kill him, but ended up selling him into slavery instead. Between you and me, there were a couple heated discussions over the years about doing the same thing ourselves. Not the killing part, of course, but
the slavery thing would be cool. Don't get me wrong, I love Joey, but he does tend to get a little high and mighty sometimes.
Shortly after Joey was born, John's little white church started to grow. The more it grew, the more confident John became and after a while he started doing Sunday morning shows for the public television station in town. Pretty soon that got so popular that one of the network bigwigs came to a service and decided right then and there that John was meant for bigger and better things. Five years later, John appeared on all the national networks and we had to build a brand new church to keep up with the new members who were flocking to our doorstep. On the church's tenth anniversary there were 50,000 members and the little white church became The Omega Alliance, with a dozen new buildings, including a seminary, child development center, medical center, foreign adoption agency, elderly care facility and the world's largest missionary organization. Fast forward another five years and the Omega Alliance was declared the most powerful religious organization on the planet, which started what the media called a “holy war.” You don't know mad until you've walked through Dublin airport with an OA pin on your lapel and been spotted by an Irish Catholic. Between the Catholics, the Baptists, the Pentecostals, the Mormons and even the Muslims, the OA has made more people mad than you'd care to know. In spite of all that, or maybe because of it, the OA just continues to grow.
My siblings seem to be handling the fame thing okay, with their larger-than-life personalities and million dollar smiles. Trouble, on the other hand, tends to follow me around like some pesky neighborhood kid who won't take no for an answer.
“...I want to say my life has been molded in rude elements,
without any of the refining influences which an education gives. This story, therefore, has none of the characteristics of a novel in which the imagination supplies every need and meets every emergency. It is my aim to state simple facts, and nothing but plain truths, as they occurred to me, for I have neither the gift, nor the inclination, to fabricate a story of thrilling adventure just to please the tastes of those who look to the novelist to meet their demand for entertainment.”
- Clinton Lafayette Smith of San Antonio, 1927
This is a tale in two parts. One part is the true story of two brothers who experienced a fantastic adventure that turns what we know about history on its head. The other part is about the efforts of a family to preserve this true story for almost a century.
Around 1927 Clinton Lafayette Smith, in his sixties, wrote a true story in longhand on a Big Chief tablet. Eventually, along with his brother Jefferson Davis Smith, he recounted his tale to noted writer J. Marvin Hunter. The resulting book, The Boy Captives, has been in publication for eighty-five years through eighteen printings, all of which has been paid for by the Smith Family. What kind of memoir would be so important that successive generations of one family repeatedly paid for its publication?
In 1871, eleven year old Clinton and his nine year old brother Jefferson were captured by Comanche raiders near their West Texas farm. Jefferson was soon sold to none other than the legendary Apache warrior Geronimo, while Clinton was adopted by Comanche Chief Tasacowadi. For over five years they lived among the two most notorious warrior tribes in North America during one of the most tumultuous eras in American history.
The Boy Captives could be described as Forrest Gump meets Little Big Man, but with one important difference, The Boy Captives was real. The Boy Captives isn’t a history book; the history is a mere by-product of the telling. This is a story of two boys and their honest account of the vanished people they came to reluctantly love.
The story is told mostly by Clinton. Hunter makes it clear to the reader he adheres “...as strictly as possible to the manner of expression, the style of recital and the method of description used by Mr. Smith.” You can almost hear Clinton’s plain spoken, West Texas drawl rising off the pages. But you don’t hear an old cowboy recalling the days of his youth. Instead, you clearly hear a Comanche boy named Bak-ke-ca-cho (End Of A Rope) recounting the unique moments of his life as he transforms from frightened farm boy to a deadly Comanche warrior. Clinton moves, often non-sequentially, from moment to moment with no overarching idea or theme. He bestows importance to events based on what they meant to a young Comanche boy, not on an old white man’s perspective of history.
If you want to read the first chapter of Rachel Walsh's breakout novel, The Last Scribe, vote in the 'comments' section of this blog post. For your vote to count, you must have an email subscription to the Underground. If Rachel has ten or more votes by next Friday (June 22th) her first chapter will be featured on Underground Book Reviews.
Seven months ago I “met” Rachel Walsh on Author Salon
, where she is a staff member and my guardian angel. Her job is to guide me and half a dozen other fantasy authors on a grueling journey toward traditional publication.
Rachel is an artist and inspirational writer who resides in the Pacific Northwest. She is the proud mother of two beautiful teenage daughters and the caretaker of one cantankerous 94 year old grandfather with advanced Alzheimers. She has written hundreds of true short stories about her unusual life experiences that have gained worldwide popularity through her websites. Her current projects include The Truth About Butterflies: A Memoir You Can Use
, a children's book entitled Phoeb
e, Saving Papa
, Moon Lake
and The Last Scribe. BRIAN:
Rachel, welcome to the Underground and thank you for joining us today. Among other things, I’d like to touch on three facets of your writing career: Your debut novel, Author Salon and The Butterfly Project. Let’s start with The Last Scribe
. What’s it about and where you go the idea for it? RACHEL:
Thank you so much for inviting me, Brian! The Last Scribe is something I've been working on for several years now. It's the story of an irreverent, rebellious and completely unpredictable girl raised behind the scenes of the world's largest mega–church. In other words, she's the antithesis of everything her family represents. When her aunt is murdered in the church basement, she becomes the target of a conspiracy that gets wilder by the day. I think what makes it unique is that her story is based on actual prophecies written in the Apocrypha, which are books that were removed from the original bible. Being raised as the unruly stepchild of a pentecostal minister myself, the only thing I knew about the Apocryphal books were that they were banned and many churches frowned on people even reading them - so naturally I had to read them for myself. I was intrigued by certain books that told a fascinating story about the origins of man and a supernatural world. Being a writer, this was pretty heady stuff. I started asking myself “What if this is true? What if this really happened today?” The rest, as they say is . . . well, my interpretation of history anyway.
For the last two years I’ve been engaging with my peers in full scale book demolition and rehab. My manuscript, scrawny, tattered and structurally unsound, gets whisked away by my lovely renovation partners, Brian, AB and Kimberly. They restructure it, gloss it up and set it right. When I get it back, I gasp with joy and wonder at how they were able to fix the flaws, shore up the cracks and turn my project into something worth reading. It is, at times, a small miracle.
Not everyone is so lucky.
Many emerging authors struggle through their drafts alone, isolated at the keyboard. When they have a great idea, they have no one to share it with. When they’re stuck, there’s no one to lend a hand. It’s a rough way to work and often unproductive. It is with this in mind that Kimberly, our friend Brandi and I have started The Book Docs. The Book Docs specialize in editorial services for emerging authors. We want to help those writers floundering alone in sea of uncertainty. We’ve been there. We know it’s no fun. We can get you smooth sailing in no time.
So, check us out at www.thebookdocs.com.
The first person to contact each of us and mention Underground Book Reviews gets a free first chapter review.
What is better than a sexy, savage outsider, a damsel in distress who learns she’s tough as nails and a post-apocalyptic society hell-bent on standing in their way? In my opinion, not much. Under the Never Sky is Veronica Rossi’s debut, and debut she did. This book has all the best elements of YA dystopia: a steamy forbidden love story, sweeping creative landscapes and characters that pop off the page.
The story opens with seventeen-year-old Aria, a girl who lives in a pod built into the earth. The planet has been scarred by dangerous Aether storms that burn through the countryside, leaving the planet virtually uninhabitable. The pod dwellers encase themselves underground and bide their time in virtual realities. Then Aria gets mixed up with a group of friends who turn savage. Though innocent, she takes the blame for their deaths and is banished from society. She finds herself dropped in on the outside under the never sky.
Perry, the savage hunky outsider, finds her and kidnaps her. Perry’s nephew has been taken by pod dwellers and he thinks Aria might help him. For the first half of the book the two are pitted against each other. Outsiders and dwellers don’t mix, after all. In the second half, they come together in a romance so hot, it puts Bella and Edward to shame. Stir in cannibals called the Croven, an Aether-wielding orphan and tribes with enhanced senses and I couldn’t stop turning pages. The sequel will be on my “to-read” list immediately.
In a way, I don’t find it fair to rank this book a top pick because it is published by HarperCollins and has already been optioned by Fox, but this book deserves its due attention. It hasn’t broken the top 100, but it’s climbing the charts fast. Rossi’s star is on the rise, as it should be. She earned it.
You can find the book here.
You can find Veronica Rossi here. If you enjoyed this review, you can subscribe to the Underground or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Look! It’s an editor . . . an author . . . no, a ghostwriter. Well, you’re right on all counts. Joe Bunting, creator of The Write Practice
, one of the top 10 blogs for writers, is a super man who wears many hats. My father used to say that if you want something done, go to the busiest person. I wanted to interview Joe Bunting, but thought he wouldn’t have time. Pleasantly surprised when Joe replied to my e-mail that, of course, he'd make the time, today Joe offers his words of wisdom and encouragement to emerging authors. Welcome to the Underground, Mr. Joe Bunting.Joe’s Mantra
So instead of trying to write well, write now
Let that be your mantra.
When you get blocked trying to write that perfect sentence:
Don't write well. Write now.
When you can't get the scene to work like you wanted:
Don't write well. Write now.
When the weight of your dreams of a perfection become a burden:
Don't write well. Write now.
Shen you're so tired you can't imagine writing well: Don't write well. Write now.Kimberly:
I enjoyed reading your mantra and the follow up message on The Write Practice
. How long did it take you to come up with your mantra and was there a moment in your life when you were ready to give up on writing? If so, can you tell us about that moment?Mr. Bunting:
Thanks Kimberly. That was one of those lucky creative moments that happen in an instant. I was actually talking to a friend about how depressed I was about my blog (depression over your creative accomplishments, or lack thereof, happens no matter how much success you’ve earned). I don’t remember how the phrase came up but I said, “I need to stop trying to write well and start writing now.” As soon as I said it, I thought, “Wow, that sounded nice.” My friend said, “That would make a good little blog post.”
Yes of course I’ve thought about giving up on writing. Writing is such a frustrating discouraging thing I think everyone fantasizes about abandoning it from time to time. When I was editing the first book I ghostwrote, I came to this place where I was so depressed. I sat on the floor, put my face to the ground, and thought, “I don’t want to write this book. In fact, I don’t want to be a writer anymore because I don’t ever want to feel this stupid again.” But I got up and wrote and three weeks later the book was done. You hit these dips, but if you can make it to the other side things will look a lot better.Kimberly: The Write Practice
is now one of the top 10 blogs for writers. How long did it take for you to build a following of 2700?Mr. Bunting:
The difficult part isn’t getting to 2700. The secret about building a blog is that the first 500 are the hardest. It takes six months of painful work without much encouragement to get 500 subscribers. After you pass 500, you can get to 1000 and beyond, but the first 500 can feel like a full- time job.Kimberly:
I know you are a ghost writer, a blogger, an editor and a writer. Do you have any formal education or did you learn on your own?Mr. Bunting:
Everyone teaches themselves how to write. You can learn a few things in school—I have a degree in English Literature—but in the end it’s up to you. I learned more by studying books—taking them apart sentence by sentence to see what each one did—than I did in school. The cool thing about writing is that everyone has access to the textbooks of the trade. Just go to your library and read really slow.Kimberly:
When did you publish your book 14 Prompts For Writers
and what kind of feedback have you had from your readers?
(The link to Mr. Bunting's book is listed below.)Mr. Bunting: 14 Prompts
was an attempt to do a book of prompts completely different than anything on the market, and I think people appreciated its uniqueness, even its vulnerability. It’s a very strange book of prompts, and people liked it because of that.Kimberly:
Do you make money from your blog? Or is it used more as a platform to introduce yourself to other writers?Mr. Bunting:
Platforms are valuable. Sometimes they make money but they are great for improving quality of life. I have so many more friends, friends who are passionate about the same things I am, because of my blog. We don’t make much money through The Write Practice
, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t add value to our lives.Kimberly:
What are your long term goals? Do you have a book in the making?Mr. Bunting:
I don’t have a book in the making, I have six! :)
My long term goal is to write things that add meaning to people’s lives. I’d like to write fiction and probably teach, but the great thing is that I’m living my long term goal right now. Most of the time we choose goals out of vanity, but it’s so much more fun to serve than to get a little fame and power.Kimberly:
What is the best form of advertising that helped your blog grow?Mr. Bunting:
Relationships. There are techniques you can use to get the most out of your relationships, but the heart of this game is to make friends and help them solve their problems.Kimberly:
What do you see as the biggest mistake an emerging author makes?Mr. Bunting:
When I edit people’s fiction or read submissions for our creative writing contest, what people struggle with most is telling rather than showing. Avoid telling your readers about your characters’ thoughts and emotions. Avoid backstory. Instead show us what they do and what they see. Kimberly:
What are your thoughts on self-publishing? Do you think it is wise to build a website for your book before it’s in print?Mr. Bunting:
Self-publishing isn’t a new fad. Ben Franklin, William Blake, Jane Austen, and Virginia Woolf all self-published. If someone (a “traditional” publisher) wants to help you publish your book, you should think about it, but if you’re reasonably smart, you can do the work yourself. Please hire an editor, though.
Should you build a website? Should you tap into the most efficient communication tool ever invented? Yes, that would probably be a good idea. Kimberly:
Are there any words of wisdom you can give to an emerging author? Mr. Bunting:
Be grateful for people like you, Kimberly, who want to help emerging authors. Be grateful to your readers. There’s more to read than ever before and no one has to read you. Be grateful if you make a little money at your passion. Most of the world doesn’t get to follow their dreams, and most of the world lives on less than what you’ll make as a part time artist. Be grateful because most people are a little bitter and run down. Being grateful will make you stand out. Visit The Write PracticeThe Write Practice on Facebook Joe Bunting on TwitterAuthor Joe Bunting's 14 Prompts: Practical Writing Prompts That Inspire
Aaron Birk is the author and illustrator of The Pollinator’s Corridor, a graphic novel about urban renewal and biodiversity. The Pollinator’s Corridor is not your standard graphic novel. The heroes don’t wear capes and there is no evil villain (other than pollution and industrialization). The story follows two high school students from the Bronx as they work together on a biology project, which quickly becomes a passionate endeavor. By connecting parks and watersheds with corridors of flowering plants (or ‘pollinator’s corridors’) they help wild plants grow freely in the city, encouraging pollination and urban biodiversity. For such a ‘green’ subject, Aaron brings a multitude of colors into play, both literally and metaphorically.
After reading The Pollinator’s Corridor I was excited to have the chance to meet Aaron in person on his book-signing tour. We met at the Harvard Coop in Boston, surrounded by books, more books, and quiet elevator music. Aaron, a Philadelphia resident, is lean and fit with a genuine, yet humble, way of presenting himself.