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Thursday, March 21, 2013

I'm no longer with Starsongs magazine or Written World Communications, due to some health issues my husband faced recently that I thought would require several months of care. I can't say where Starsongs information has moved to, so I would advise you to continue checking out www.written-world.com

In the meantime, I hope to soon develop an area for young writers on my web site at www.pattishene.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Night Flight by Diane & Dave Munson

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce husband and wife writing team Diane and Dave Munson and their exciting new YA thriller, Night Flight. Welcome to both of you.

Thanks for interviewing us. We're excited to be here.

Your writing gives readers the inside scoop as courageous federal agents track down the guilty. What prompted you to write Night Flight, your recent thriller for Young Adults?

 We are a husband and wife that write and travel the country meeting readers and speaking about God’s love in tough times. Because Diane is an attorney and former Federal prosecutor and David a former NCIS agent (before serving as an undercover Federal drug agent), we love creating heroes for readers to believe in. Our writing, though fiction, is inspired by our exciting and dangerous careers where God has protected us. This is especially true for David as he has traveled the world to bring criminals to justice.

One night we finished editing our last thriller, The Joshua Covenant, and David became convinced we should write a novel using the teens from Joshua. Filled with tomorrow’s headlines, we reveal in Joshua what happens when CIA agent Bo Rider is assigned to our embassy in Israel. His wife Julia and their young teens, Glenna and Gregg, experience relics and riots in the tunnels of Old Jerusalem. As we wrote of the Rider family learning of God’s ancient covenants, we had such delight exploring the teen’s growing courage that we penned Night Flight. It’s a high velocity adventure for young adults and adults who are young at heart.

Featuring Glenna and Gregg in Night Flight gives us a chance to introduce teen readers to books their parents and grandparents are reading. It’s our attempt to bridge the generation gap. We have grandchildren and find the gap broadening as they embrace ipods, FaceBook, and technology many find intimidating. Night Flight provides teens with an opportunity to read serious Christian suspense with the same characters and plots their adult family members are reading.

You call your novels “Factional Fiction” because they are based on your careers. Will you tell us what action in Night Flight is from your real cases?

We have fun weaving in the drama from David’s undercover work and readers find issues of adoption and child custody influenced by Diane’s family law cases. In The Joshua Covenant, Bo Rider discovers things about his birth that even his parents didn’t know. In Night Flight we highlight hero dogs that David worked with in his time as a Special Agent. These law enforcement dogs are trained to sniff out explosives, currency, and drugs. So when the Rider teens long for a puppy, their dad instead adopts Blaze, a mature Golden Retriever and Lab mix.

Action and suspense build because Glenna and Gregg don’t know their dad Bo is a CIA agent. So when Blaze confronts some crooks and the teens learn their dog has mysterious smelling powers, their imaginations kick into high gear. The teens are forced to take refuge at their grandparents’ home in Treasure Island, Florida. While there, they put Blaze to work stopping crime and Grandpa Buck involves them in more adventure. The whole family invests their lives in helping a desperate homeless girl they befriend in the neighborhood.

Though the action is intense, the Dove Foundation awarded this thriller “Five Doves”, their highest rating, for family friendly content, which is appropriate for all ages.

Does your writing contain a spiritual message?

Yes! As believers in Jesus, we enjoy writing suspense novels that show characters seeking freedom, justice, and truth. Some try to trap the guilty in their own strength. When they come across agents empowered by God in their lives, this causes them to dig deeper into the meaning of life.

Our novels appeal to non-Christians and Christians alike. We believe it is crucial to write realistic fiction that will keep even a non-religious person reading a God-honoring book. So in Night Flight, the Rider teens experience how God is interested in their daily lives. When their non-Christian fellow student is threatened with a terminal illness, Glenna and Gregg are heartbroken. But after seeking God’s help in prayer, they concoct a plan to save his life using Blaze. Readers have told us they cannot stop reading until the last page and find the ending, “powerful!”

Your six adult novels stand alone and can be read in any order. What are you writing now?

When we completed our debut novel, Facing Justice, we loved our main federal agents so much that we decided to keep telling their stories in each of our novels. Eva Montanna hunts down masterminds that fund terror after her twin sister is killed on 9/11. FBI Agent Griff Topping also appears in our subsequent releases. Through our pages, Eva and Griff become embroiled in a mystery involving the JFK assassination, Chinese espionage, and freeing a Sudanese woman trapped in modern slavery. In all of these adventures, Eva wants to help her grandfather write his WWII memoirs so we decided to finally give her that chance. Thus we are researching, interviewing Dutch Resistance survivors from WWII, and writing Eva’s family story involving a dangerous legacy. Stay tuned, because we have many surprises in store for our readers.

Where can we find your books?

Our books are available in print and eBooks. Autographed copies are available on our website. Readers can find print versions at Lifeway and other Christian stores and both print/eBook versions are on Amazon, B&N.com, and Christian Book.com. Fans of NCIS will enjoy signing up for the blog on our website, where we critique the NCIS show that airs on Tuesdays. Those who sign up to receive our email newsletter can participate in contests to win books, NCIS caps, and other fun items. May God’s blessings rain down upon you and His people.  

When a millionaire drug-dealer wrote a memoir that became a movie staring Johnny Depp, Diane Munson decided the good guys wearing white hats should be the ones to write memoirs. A former Federal prosecutor, she knew the back story. She asked David, a former undercover DEA Special Agent, to join her in writing about David’s arrest of Johnny Depp’s character in Chicago and other criminals in what the Munsons call factional novels. Now, this husband and wife weave the thrills of back alley deals and major courtroom drama into international suspense novels. 

Diane Munson is an attorney of more than twenty-five years who transitioned from writing briefs for judges to writing inspiring fiction for readers. David Munson was a Special Agent with the NCIS and with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As an undercover agent, he infiltrated international drug smuggling organizations. Diane and David have co-authored together six suspense thrillers: Facing Justice, Confirming Justice, The Camelot Conspiracy, Hero’s Ransom, Redeeming Liberty, and The Joshua Covenant. “Night Flight,” their newest thriller for young adults, released September, 2012. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Like Moonlight at Low Tide by Nicole Quigley

Today I am reviewing Like Moonlight at Low Tide by new author Nicole Quigley, Due to some content, I would recommend this book for young people age 12 and over. It would probably be more enjoyed by girls than boys.

The story unfolds as told through the eyes of a bullied teen forced to face harsh reality when tragedy strikes. I was hooked on page one, where the author foreshadows the future, then familiarizes the reader with “Messy” Missy Keiser, an insecure teen who returns to her school in Florida after three years away, anticipating encounters with the same cruel classmates who inflicted hurtful emotional wounds.

Things have changed, though, and Missy finds herself accepted by peers and even enters into a relationship with the boy of her dreams. The blossoming teen also forms a shaky alliance with the boy next door, who forces her to search within herself for a deeper understanding of what is really important.

Characterization is one of the strong points of this book. The author probes the mind and heart of many of today’s teens as she paints a picture of a broken home, an inadequate mom, and an economically struggling family.

The plot builds to a conclusion that is not easily envisioned, yet brings the reader to a satisfactory end. Each scene serves to move Missy Keiser along on her journey to maturity as she discovers the meaning of life, relationships, 

Find Nicole's book here. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reluctant Reader Turned Writer Max Elliot Anderson

Starsongs is proud to welcome  author Max Elliot Anderson. A reluctant reader as a child, Max now pens adventure books for boys. 

Max, you spent much of your younger years as a reluctant reader. What suggestions do you have for avid readers who would like to encourage their reluctant reader friends to discover books?

If a child avoids reading in every way possible - choosing video games, or the computer over reading - you might set those activities aside as rewards. Parents can say, “After you’ve read for thirty minutes, or an hour,” for example, “then you may spend time doing those other things.”

But reading doesn’t always have to be a book. Find a subject that the child is interested in, then look for articles, magazines, Internet sites, or other sources where that subject is written about. Here are some other ideas. Read aloud with your child. Get rid of distractions. Above all, make reading fun. Have your child try reading to a dog, a cat, a doll, or stuffed animal. Look for high interest, low vocabulary books called Hi-Lo, and advance from there.

A library must be very intimidating to a reluctant reader. On your web site, you make the comment that “It has…been said that a reluctant reader simply hasn’t found the right books yet.” What, in your opinion, leads any reader to the right books?

As a child, my problem was in finding books that interested me. Back then books were boring. They had large blocks of type that intimidated me. I could easily lose my place on the page, if there were any distractions nearby. I understand that graphic novels help some reluctant readers. These are books that have lots of drawings, sort of like a glorified comic book. In my own writing, I stick to shorter sentences, fewer descriptions or boring details, employ a faster pace, lots of humor and dialog in order to keep things moving.

But it all comes down to interest. If the child likes animals, find books about the animals they like. If they’re interested in sports, seek out sports books, and so on.

Tell us about your recently released novel,  River Rampage.

When I started writing about eleven years ago, I wrote stand-alone manuscripts. I did this because I wanted to explore all sorts of different main characters. In this way, I could deal with various personalities, strengths, and weaknesses in those characters. River Rampage is actually the third book in a traditional series - The Sam Cooper Adventure Series - with the same primary characters in each book. The first book in this series is Lost Island Smugglers, and the second is Captain Jack’s Treasure.

Sam Cooper and his friends have the chance of a lifetime to go rafting down the mighty Colorado River. The rains have been heavy this season, making the raging river even more treacherous. The boys become separated from the main group, their rubber raft is going flat, and now they're on their own. They have their hands full with a crusty prospector, his gold mine, a gang of outlaw bikers, and a desperate river escape on their makeshift wooden raft. Think that's the worst that could happen?

Well, it isn't.

Do you write on a regular schedule?

I don’t. My writing has always been project oriented. By that I mean that I take on a writing project and stay with it until it’s finished. In the early stages, I turned out many manuscripts without contracts, an agent, or publisher. This resulted in 35 action-adventure & mystery manuscripts for young readers. Since that time, I've taken on the writing of regular short stories for a magazine and a monthly column. Those projects are written according to fixed schedules and deadlines.

And because I wrote so many manuscripts in advance, I can spend most of my time with promotion and marketing of the 10 books that are out now. I've just signed a contract for multiple books with an education publisher, and have an additional 4 book project under contract with two other publishers. One of these is book #4 in the Sam Cooper series.

What is your favorite part of writing and why?

What I like most is the writing itself. I love closing the door to my writing room, turning on mood appropriate music to the scene I’m writing, lighting a candle, and disappearing into a world of my own making. The amazing part of the process is sitting there and pounding on the keys as an adventure or mystery appears right in front of me. I don’t work from an outline, so each story is filled with surprises even as I write.

Least favorite and why?

I’m thankful for having such a great agent, Terry Burns at Hartline, because it’s the details that drive a writer crazy. We already are called upon to shoulder most of the marketing and promotion. If I had to deal with everything else that goes along with the publishing process, there wouldn't be much time for writing.

Tell us about your “message in a bottle” real life adventure.

The thought occurred to me that if I were to be publishing adventures and mysteries for kids, why not start a real one of my own? I made an offer of a free set of my books to anyone who found my floating bottle. The bottle was released into the Rock River, in Rockford, Illinois, where we live. From there it should have had a clear shot to the Mississippi. From that point it would have the chance to travel into the Gulf of Mexico and possibly the ocean.

Unfortunately, shortly after I sent the large, clear, plastic bottle on its way, we had torrential rains, resulting in unexpected, severe flooding on the Rock and the Mississippi rivers.

Has anyone claimed the prize?

Not yet. This was probably five years ago now. Who knows, maybe Amelia Earhart will find it, on the beach of that island where she landed, and send it back for her free books.

What kind of advice would you give to young writers?

Publishing is a long, slow, solitary process filled with highs and lows. You have to be serious about making your way in it, and willing to work hard to achieve your goals. If you feel called to write, don’t let anyone try to stop you. Most of all, never, never, ever give up.

Click the following links to learn more about Max and his books.

Books for Boys Blog 
Author Web Site 
My Youtube Videos
Books you can trust for your kids

Thanks for stopping by to spend some time with us, Max!


Using his extensive experience in dramatic film, video, and television commercial production, Max Elliot Anderson brings that same visual excitement, and heart-pounding action, to his many adventures & mysteries for readers 8 – 13.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Interview with YA author Jill Williamson

Starsongs Magazine is excited to introduce YA author Jill Williamson. Hi Jill and welcome! It's a pleasure to have you here today.

Jill, you say you write speculative fiction for teens. What is speculative fiction?

Speculative fiction is a term that encompasses a wide variety of “weird” fiction genres. It’s the supergenre of everything that falls under science fiction and fantasy. Spec fiction can take place on earth but often takes place in worlds created by the author. Some subgenreexamples are: alternate history, apocalyptic, cyberpunk, dystopian, fairytales, fantasy, paranormal, post-apocalyptic, science fiction, space opera, steampunk, and, supernatural. I wrote a blog post called Speculative Fiction Subgenres, if you want to learn more about each. 

Why do you think dystopian novels have become so popular for teens?

Genres come and go, as far as popularity. But with the dangers in our current world, dystopian plots seem much more plausible. They warn of an unhappy future that could conceivably happen soon. Readers like plots they can relate to. They also like to see an underdog face incredible odds. Save-the-world-type obstacles often stand in a dystopian hero’s way. Maybe he faces a corrupt government. Maybe his peoples' way of life is wrong or threatened. Maybe he lives in a world with no hope. And that appeals to teen readers because many feel like underdogs themselves.

What is your writing process? Do you write regularly or when inspiration hits?

I spend several weeks brainstorming a new story. I use a brainstorming worksheet like the one on my website to outline the story. Then  I take the next month or two to write the first draft. I try and write 2000-3000 words a day, starting in the morning. Once I finish the rough draft, I go back in and rearrange, cut,and add characters or scenes. Then I start rewriting. And I tend to rewrite as much as possible right up to my deadline. 

What is The New Recruit, your latest book, about? 

Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club.

These guys mean business.

Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the always beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

What inspired this book?

This is the first book I wrote. I was trying to write a story about teens going out into the world like missionaries, but since teen fiction books about missionaries weren't getting the attention of agents and editors, I tweaked the story and turned them into undercover agents. I was also trying to copy the format of Harry Potter. My goal was to get some teens away from their parents where they could receive some kind of training. At the time, I thought this was sneaky and brilliant, but it created so many problems! I’ve never written a book that way since. It’s not a good idea to copy what’s already successful—because the world already has that book. And humans were created unique for a reason. There’s already one J. K. Rowling. And I need to be Jill Williamson. All that to say, even though I’ve rewritten The New Recruit from that first horrible draft, this book is not my strongest, but it’s still a whole lot of fun.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on Captives, which is the first in a dystopian trilogy coming out from Zonderkidz in February 2013. It’s based on Daniel 1 when Jerusalem in conquered by Babylon and the young people are taken into the city.

Do you have any advice for aspiring teen authors?

Write a lot. And don’t worry about getting published until you’ve written several books and have polished them. Be patient and enjoy the process of creating and learning. If you rush things, you’ll regret it.

Where else can readers find you online? 

Go Teen Writers Blog: 

Also, I give away one of my books and a one-chapter critique every month on my website. So stop by every once in a while to enter. Look under the “Contests” tab to see what contests I have going on.

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