Monday, June 23, 2014

Author Blog Hop

BLOG HOP – Ann I. Goldfarb

Hi! I was invited to this author "Blog Hop" by Poisoned Pen mystery writer, Donis Casey. ( The Alafair Tucker Mysteries). Essentially, a number of authors share their insights with readers by answering four questions and tagging other authors. I've tagged Gale Leach and M.J. Evans. Here goes:

What am I working on now?

            The Time Borrower has just been released in bookstores, online and Kindle. It’s the fourth novel in my YA “Light Riders” time travel mystery/adventure series. The best part for me is that it has been endorsed by two incredible award winning and best-selling authors – Donis Casey and Jenn McKinlay. It takes place in 13th century Scotland as its protagonist, college student Linna Sullivan, goes back in time to try to prevent the murder of a young monk. Watch out for sinister plots and unexpected twists and turns.
            I just completed the first draft of the fifth novel in that same series. The Time Stealer will take readers back to the year 1750 B.C.
            College senior Aeden thinks she’s got it made when all she has to do is direct a Children’s Theater play for her final project before graduating from Emerson in Boston. Unfortunately, her department head has something else in mind – adding his fourteen-year-old miscreant nephew, Wendell, to the cast.
            It doesn’t take Wendell long to hack into Aeden’s iPad and uncover the secret formulas for time travel that she and her brother found years ago while cleaning out their great, great  aunt’s house. Wasting no time, Wendell decides to put the formulas to use in order to find the lost city of Atlantis.
            When Aeden discovers that Wendell is missing, she realizes that he has gone back to the ancient Minoan civilization on the island of Thera in the Aegean Sea. A civilization known for its brutal Ceremony of the Bulls and penchant for human sacrifice. Will she be able to return him to the 21st century or watch as he becomes the next “burnt offering” for the gods?
            Crafting the first draft is a delight for my imagination, but like all first drafts, the novel will undergo revisions, edits, and proof readings. That’s the tedious, strenuous part of the process. Whenever I get an email from one of my editors I know I’m in for some serious work time.

How does my book differ from other books in its genre?

            Like The Time Borrower, The Time Stealer is a genre blend of science fiction and historical fiction. When I wrote the first novel in the series, Light Riders and the Morenci Mine Murder, KIRKUS REVIEWS called it “an effective multi-genre approach of murder mystery, horror, sci-fi and Western.” That same style holds true for this work. I use the element of time travel to hook the readers as I take them through historical events and places in the past. In order to do so, I virtually immerse myself into every aspect of life in that particular era, and that means a tremendous amount of research.
            Although the plot and characters are fabricated, I am compelled as an author to provide readers with historical accuracy. This novel was particularly challenging in that regard. Little is known about the Minoan civilization, including its language. The only references were found on two tablets – Linear A and Linear B, which are similar to ancient Greek. Fortunately, the incredible Minoan frescos and ceramics found on the islands of Crete and Santorini were preserved well enough to give historians and writers like me, some understanding of the culture.
            The point of view shifts in this novel from twenty-something Aeden to fifteen-year-old wise guy, Wendell. It allows the reader to identify not only with both characters but with the perception that the characters have of each other. It’s like listening in to a private conversation without the guilt.

Why do I write what I do?

            I grew up with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Along came Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone” and I was hooked on mystery, suspense, adventure, and science fiction. Add thirty plus years of teaching middle and high school, culminating with over a decade as a middle school principal, and the “fodder” for my novels was firmly in place. I think back to those awkward and funny situations and somehow they find a way into my books.            
            Simply put, I love writing middle grade and YA novels that adults secretly read when no one is looking. It’s a target audience that I am familiar with and a genre that I thoroughly enjoy. That’s not to say that I don’t push myself out of the comfort zone once in a while.
            Readers may be surprised to find grisly, high octane thrillers in the future.

How does my writing process work?

            It begins with an idea that “marinates” in my brain for days or weeks at a time. Eventually, I piece together the characters and play around with their dialogue and personalities before I work out the actual plot. I need to get a sense of who I am working with before I can send them off to solve murders or mysteries in time.
            My first novel, The Face Out of Time, was very linear, adhering to my specific notes and outlines. It drove me crazy! Then, I had the opportunity to hear J.A. Jance speak at a conference. She said, “The only person who ever required a formal outline was my high school English teacher.” In a split second, I was free! 
            I guess I’ve developed an eclectic approach to writing. Sometimes I plod. Sometimes I work by the seat of my pants, and sometimes I use post-its and snippets of paper strewn all over my desk to get me started on my journey.
            Each book is different. I painstakingly worked out the puzzle details for The Last Tag, my story about a fifteen-year-old graffiti tagger in Phoenix who stumbles upon the remnants of an old murder, as if I was developing a secret code for Los Alamos. Not the case for Light Riders and the Fleur-de-lis Murder. I gleefully skipped through that book relishing every obstacle that the French Revolution could provide.
            The Time Stealer was reminiscent of my exhilarating experience writing Fleur. Not so much with my other novels. They were demanding, annoying at times, and downright frustrating. If I could compare it to anything, it would be like my students – each one a different challenge and a different reward.
            Readers sometimes ask me if I set aside a particular time of day to write and the answer is no. I grab whatever time I have. Some days the best I can do is forty minutes. Other days it’s six hours straight. I juggle my writing with my other activities, like teaching adult education in Sun City West and Surprise. Some seasons are better than others. In the hot Arizona heat, I find that I am very productive in the afternoons. Let’s face it, sitting in an air-conditioned room with a fan overhead is a whole lot better than traipsing around in 110 degrees!

Author Bio

New York native Ann I. Goldfarb spent most of her life in education, first as a classroom teacher and later as a middle school principal and professional staff developer. Writing has always been an integral part of her world. For the past decade, she has written non-fiction for Madavor Media/Jones Publishing, but her real passion is writing mystery-suspense-adventure for young adult audiences.  Time travel, the vehicle she embraces, is her hook into historical fiction and Two Cats Press is her publisher.
Ann resides with her family near the foothills of the White Tank Mountains in Arizona. She invites you to visit her website at and “LIKE” her Facebook Page – Time Travel Mysteries.  

Meet Author Gale Leach

Gale Leach is the author of The Art of Pickleball, the bestselling book about the world's fastest growing sport, and four award-winning novels for children. She is currently working on a series of fantasy books for young adults. Gale lives in Arizona with her husband, two dogs, and three cats.

About M.J. Evans

M.J. Evans is passionate about horses, fantasy and writing. She is the author of both fiction and non-fiction titles about horses. Growing up in Lake Oswego, Oregon, she learned to ride, rain or shine. M.J. Evans is a graduate of Oregon State University and a lifelong equestrian. After graduating from Oregon State University, she took a twenty-five year hiatus from owning a horse while she and her husband raised five children. She is a former teacher at the secondary school level. A move to Colorado gave her the opportunity to return to her riding and she took the time to work on her writing as well. She and her husband are the parents of five children and live in Colorado with their three horses and a Standard Poodle.  She has completed all three books of the Mist Trilogy of which Mists of Darkness is the second. She spends many hours riding in the Rocky Mountains and planning her books in her head.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Move Over, On-line Dating, We Need On-line Literary Agent/Author Sites!

            Hey authors and agents! Have I got an idea for you!  Authors, by now you’ve realized how amazingly difficult it is to find a literary agent to represent you. If you haven’t received at least ten rejection letters, you’re not trying hard enough. And agents, aren’t you sick and tired of receiving countless queries that are giving you carpal tunnel syndrome just to delete them? Here’s where my brainstorm can help you.

            There are countless on-line dating websites out there – eHarmony (for lasting relationships), OurTime (if you’re older than 50 and don’t care how long it lasts), Spark (the name says it all), Chemistry (sounds too much like a class) and then of course, the specialty ones like Christian Mingle and JDate (the Jewish version of Christian Mingle). The playing field is wide open and it’s an equal opportunity for all. 

            I propose we do the same thing for literary agents and authors. Set up a site where authors can peruse agents and vice versa. It would work something like this:

            The author lists his/her proposals with key words such as: YA fiction, memoir, self-help, etc. They include pertinent information, a brief synopsis, and a few sample pages. If it’s what the agent is looking for, they simply “Click” for more details. 

            Conversely, the agent lists his/her specific interests. And I do mean specific. “Fiction” just doesn’t do it. Let the poor authors know what you want. (i.e. gritty urban fiction with beer guzzling protagonists who sleep with a gun under their pillows). At least give writers a fighting chance.

            The best part of this proposal is that it would eliminate the numerous agent messages that read “No longer taking submissions,” “No unsolicited submissions,” and “Leave our agency alone.” It would also do away with agents receiving proposals that make them want to poke their eyes out with a fork! 

            Literary world – Wake up and get on-line. This is one time and paper saving proposal that’s bound to make money for whoever sets up the website. And you’d better hurry before eHarmony decides to add it to their repertoire. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Arizona Heat Has Finally Melted My Brain

            It happens every summer so I don’t know why it came as such a surprise to me, but when the temperatures hit above 103 degrees (my personal comfort level) to 111+, my brain simply turned to mush. Yeah, even in an air-conditioned house. 

            By now I should be used to writing with sweat pouring down my neck and an overhead fan running at breakneck speed. Trouble is, it came too soon. I was basking in an enjoyable 98 degrees when the triple digits arrived a month early. I hadn’t braced myself for the sudden onslaught of heat, and as a result, I became an actual danger to myself at the computer. 

            The first realization came this weekend when I received three pages of edits from one of my copy editors for my next “Light Riders” novel, volume V.  I opened the manuscript from my documents and began to read her notes. Nothing made sense. I couldn’t find the paragraphs, let alone the sentences, and worse yet, the chapters didn’t line up. It took me fifteen minutes before I realized that I had opened the manuscript to a previously published novel! 

            Pretty bad, huh? Don’t worry – it gets worse. I re-paid bills on my banking auto-pay, making a few credit card companies more than happy. I wished the wrong people “Happy Birthday” on Facebook and a sent a condolence card to a friend who emailed me to ask, “Who died?”

             Producing quality work while guzzling ice water and dripping beads of sweat on my desk is a skill that I should have mastered years ago in New York. Back then it was called taking the Regents exams. At least 100 of us were crowded into a stuffy, stifling gymnasium in late June, with the desks lined up as far as the eye could see and a few miserable teachers walking up and down the aisles telling us to keep our eyes on our own papers. (As if we could focus past our own blurry eyeballs!) If we were lucky, the custodians would manage to drag in a large fan or two for the corners of the gym. About as useful as a fly swatter in the Amazon.

            Unfortunately, dealing with the heat is more of an attitude than a skill. I tell myself that “it’s a dry heat,” but that’s like saying, “working inside of a 450 degree oven is better than laboring at the steam cleaners.”

            Like anything else, it will just take time for my brain to adjust. That’s why I’m thankful to have such great editors and proof readers. By the way, guys, don’t tell my publisher that I sent you last year’s book!