Four of my novels are now up on Kindle Unlimited! This means if you have Unlimited, you can download them and read them for FREE.
HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN – Carter Colby is the most unpopular teen at Jefferson High. This would be easier to deal with if his identical twin brother, Marcus, weren’t the hottest, most popular boy in school. When Marcus is killed in a motorcycle accident, Carter discovers the one thing more painful than trying to compete with Mr. Wonderful: wearing his dead brother’s face. He felt invisible before the accident, but with Marcus dead, everybody turns away from him in mourning. How can he blame them? He can’t bear to look in the mirror. When Carter begins to see Marcus’ ghost, Mr. Wonderful’s quest to save the world and spread happiness may not be over after all, even in death. Marcus knows that Justin Dewar, the boy who drove the truck that crashed into his motorbike, is struggling with the guilt of taking a life. Melanie, Marcus’ mourning best friend, was also hit hard by the tragedy. Marcus wants to make things right before it’s too late. With Marcus’ help, Carter experiences love and friendship for the first time in his life. But is Mr. Wonderful’s helping hand enough for Carter, Melanie, and Justin – three kids fully broken by the tragedy – to save one another?
SEBASTIAN’S POET – Sebastian Nelson is a boy in search of a family. Abandoned by his mother, Sebastian is left with a broken father who doesn’t even seem present when he does show up. Forced to be the main caregiver of his younger brother, Renee, and lost in a sea of indifference, Sebastian only wants to experience the love a real, stable family could afford him. One morning he discovers the famous folksinger, Teal Landen, asleep on the sofa. Teal’s nurturing nature brings an immediate sense of security into Sebastian’s tumultuous life. But a dark secret looms between Teal and Sebastian’s father of a hidden past. Sebastian is driven to discover their secret, but also he’s aware of how tenuous their hold on Teal really is. He doesn’t want to lose the feeling of home Teal’s presence has brought him. If Sebastian pushes too hard, he could lose Teal forever. He could be destined to raise his younger brother alone, while witnessing the total decline of his emotionally devastated father. If Sebastian is abandoned by the only healthy influence in his otherwise shaky existence, he will also be forever in the dark about the secret that will reveal so much about his fractured family. Sebastian’s Poet was the winner of the 2007 Muskoka Novel Marathon’s BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD.
THE REASONS – With a mostly absent father, a deceased older sister, a younger sister on the verge of invisibility, and a certifiably insane mother, Tobias Reason is forced to grow up quickly. Though he tries to be a surrogate parent to his sister, their broken mother, Maggie, takes up a lot of his time. Annabel falls to the wayside and becomes a ghost in their chaotic existence. When Maggie flippantly hands her mother’s house over to Tobias, he sees an opportunity to learn how and why his family became so shattered. Be careful what you wish for. When his world begins to collapse from the weight of un-buried secrets, he focuses on a stranger from his parents’ past. Only by eliminating the past, he believes, can he make his family whole again. The Reasons won the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s 2008 BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD.
BURN BABY BURN BABY – Seventeen-year-old Francis Fripp’s confidence is practically non-existent since his abusive father drenched him in accelerant and threw a match at him eight years ago. Now badly scarred, Francis relies on his best friend Trig to protect him from the constant bullying doled out at the hands of his nemesis, Brandon Hayley-the unrelenting boy who gave him the dreaded nickname of Burn Baby. The new girl at school, Rachel Higgins, is the first to see past Francis’s pariah-inducing scars. If Brandon’s bullying doesn’t destroy him, Francis might experience life as a normal teenager for the first time in his life. He just has to avoid Brandon and convince himself he’s worthy of Rachel’s attentions. Sounds easy enough, but Francis himself has a hard time seeing past his scars. And Brandon is getting violently frustrated, as his attempts to bully Francis are constantly thwarted. Francis is in turmoil as he simultaneously rushes toward his first kiss and a possible violent end.
My new publisher, CURIOSITY QUILLS PRESS, have outdone themselves! Cover artist Eugene Teplitsky has come up with the most perfect cover for my upcoming novel, BURN BABY BURN BABY! I absolutely love it.
It doesn’t hit bookstores until DECEMBER 11th, but the great news is YOU CAN ORDER BURN BABY BURN BABY TODAY! It’s on PRE-ORDER at Amazon! If you pre-order now, it will magically appear on your Amazon Kindle devices on the morning of December 11th…ready for you to read on release day!
What a gorgeous cover I have to share with you today! Fellow Curiosity Quills Press author J.E. ANCKORN’s UNTAKEN releases on October 16th! A young adult novel, UNTAKEN is a story of invasion…and being left behind. Here’s the (don’t forget to add Untaken to your shelf!>>>) GOODREADS synopsis:
It turns out that a real alien invasion is nothing like the Sci-fi shows 14-year-old Gracie loves. Not when it’s your own family who are swallowed whole by those big silver ships. Not if it could be you next.
In her search for her family, Gracie meets Brandon, a high school dropout who would never have been caught dead hanging out with a dork like Gracie before the world ended. Gracie isn’t too crazy about Brandon either, but he has one thing she doesn’t: A plan.
Brandon’s uncle has a cabin up in Maine, and If Gracie and Brandon can survive long enough to get there they can hide out until the Space Men pack up their ships and leave. Until the army guys come to rescue them, says Brandon. Brandon is big into army guys.
Gracie has to admit that Brandon’s Awesome Plan probably would have worked out great if wasn’t for Jake. They found 5-year-old Jake, laying half-dead under the remains of someone’s ranch house.
He’s a good kid, even if he won’t-or can’t- talk. But Jake has a secret, and when Gracie finds out what it is, the fragile new life they’ve started to forge looks set to break apart. When the people you’ve been counting on to put the world back together start hunting you down, alien invaders are the least of your worries.
Check out this amazing cover:
While you’re waiting for J.E.’s YA release, why not connect with her on social media.
J.E. Anckorn has been an artist and writer ever since she began to surreptitiously doodle on school supplies instead of learning about practical things, like osmosis and mathematics.
After barely surviving a freak mathematical osmosis disaster, she set out to travel the world, living in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong before returning to her native Britain- just in time to marry an American and leave for the U.S.A. She still failed to learn anything about osmosis, but did manage to cultivate an accent that is unintelligible to almost everyone. (It happened through a mysterious net movement of information from the outside environment into her brain. If only there was a word for that!)
This led to her development of a new language, based almost entirely on polite yet uncomprehending nods. In between these adventures, she has worked as a toy designer, copywriter, and freelance illustrator. She lives in Boston, with a small grumpy dog, and a large, slightly less grumpy husband.
Half Dead & Fully Broken was written at the July 2010 Muskoka Novel Marathon in Huntsville, Ontario. It went on to win the 2010 BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL AWARD.
Once again, I find myself thanking the good (angelic) folks at the Muskoka Novel Marathon. And not only the organizers, who work tirelessly year in and year out to give us writers a magical space in which to create our fictional worlds. No, when I say the folks at the Muskoka Novel Marathon, I mean EVERYONE. My fellow writers, the volunteers who feed and fuel us, the venue people…everyone. Without the Muskoka Novel Marathon, I wouldn’t have so many novels under my belt. Together, they’ve created the perfect environment for me to write in. It takes a village to get me to write a novel. Truly. Whatever the magic elixir is, it works. When I get to the MNM in Huntsville every July, I suddenly have the kind of focus needed to put together a novel. And I am truly grateful to be a part of the magic. So thank you all!
Half Dead is my third Muskoka Novel Marathon novel to be published. (-:
Finally, I’d like to thank Andrew Buckley and Curiosity Quills. I’m thrilled that Half Dead has found a home, and I’m doubly thrilled that it was Andrew who opened the door and let us in. (-:
When I first discovered Matthew Quick, I was at an interesting crossroads in my own writing journey. I had written a couple novels for adults and I was pondering writing for the young adult market. For some reason, I got it in my head that I couldn’t do both. One could either be an adult author OR a young adult author. I don’t know why I thought this, but I did. I’ve made it a point throughout my writing journey to always remind myself that THERE ARE NO RULES. There are guidelines, there is good advice and there is bad advice…but there are no steadfast rules. Writing is what you want it to be.
And yet, here I was…trying to make this decision. And while on the fence, I really sweated about it. I loved the darker issues I could explore writing contemporary adult novels, but I also loved the idea of exploring dark issues in a teenager setting…the coming of age in the high school environment novel. I was weighing the pros and cons of the two markets, because, as I said, I thought it had to be EITHER OR.
Enter Matthew Quick. No…I’m not going to be so bold as to call him my savior, or anything as nutty as that. I’m just gonna say that he reminded me of my own first rule of the Writer Club. The first rule of Writer Club is that there are no rules in Writer Club. He didn’t do this right away, mind you. At the time, I was mass-consuming YA novels…as part of my research in the market. Well, that’s what I was telling myself. Truth be told, I LOVE reading YA. But I was reading solely YA to get a feel for the landscape of the market. I was dissecting books for themes, formula, what-have-you.
I picked up BOY21 for several reasons. Because it seemed to have strong male and female ‘leads’. Because it was sportscentric. Because the blurb really caught my fancy. Sometimes, I’ll admit right here and now, I am sold by a cover. Or, at least, I am gripped by the cover and moved to learn more about a book. BOY21 had an awesome cover. Anyway, I picked it up and I read it. And I fell in love with it.
You know when you discover a novelist and then check out there other books and get excited because you get to spend more time with them? Well, immediately after I finished BOY21 I searched to find out what other Matthew Quick offerings there were on tap at the Kindle store.
HOLD THE PHONE!
The Silver Linings Playbook. Can it be? A contemporary ADULT novel?! Oh my God! He writes for adults AND young adults! YES!
Okay, so Matthew Quick may not be the first author in the history of authorship to do this. But he was the author I discovered doing it when I needed the permission to do it myself. When I needed to realize that it could actually be done. And not only was he writing for both markets, but it would seem he wrote quirky characters. I wrote quirky characters, too. I immediately purchased The Silver Linings Playbook. And I devoured it. And I thought it was a masterpiece!
Click on the book covers to read my reviews of these two Matthew Quick novels:
I later went through Quick’s full catalogue and loved all his books. I eagerly await his forthcoming THE GOOD LUCK OF RIGHT NOW! I have it pre-ordered. And on February 11th, when I wake up, it will have been magically delivered to my Kindle! I know what I’ll be reading that day!
Click on the book cover below to read the synopsis of Quick’s latest offering:
Okay, so on the surface this post may seem like a commercial for Matthew Quick’s books. But I swear to you, the whole purpose of the post is to tell writers to keep reminding themselves of the fluidity of the rules they should live by. When you find yourself questioning whether or not you can do something, DO IT. Try it, anyway. Don’t listen to people who say do this, don’t do that. I was very close to saying goodbye to one of the markets in question, even though I loved both! It was through my discovery of Matthew Quick’s novels that I found the permission to carry on carrying on. Because I saw that he accomplished writing for both adults and young adults, I knew that I could take the same path. And I did. And I for one am extremely grateful for Matthew Quick.
But seriously, check out his books. You’ll love them! (-:
I found an easy and entertaining way to outline…for those of us who hate outlining. Now I use hate loosely here. Whether you’re an outliner or a pantser should ultimately depend on your project. I always felt this way. I don’t think one should come to a conclusion that they are one or the other. Always be open to new ways to draft your next novel.
Anyway, as I have frequently struggled with outlining, I needed to find a way to make it creative and fun. So, no charts for me. No diagrams, no lines from one scene to another, no boxed miasma of words planned out on chalkboards waiting to be distilled into novel form. My brain just doesn’t seem to want to work that way. I am content to have a large block of clay and just pound away slowly at it and wait for the story to reveal itself to me. It’s more exciting for me if I don’t know what will happen next until I make it happen.
But this one thing seems to be working for me. With Windows Movie Maker, it’s SO easy to throw together a quick book trailer. And this is my new outline. I make a book trailer for my vision of the finished novel, prior to writing the novel. Whether or not you use live action in a book trailer, I suppose is up to you. If you have friends who are competent enough actors for the job, it would be a great idea to film something. I prefer to mix stills, music and plot points in my trailers. And once I clip them all together in the easy to use Windows Movie Maker, I simply watch it a few times to let the ‘story’ soak in.
After that, I start the writing. I have no laboured chaotic mess of an outline to sort through. Just a quick 3 minute video that was fun to put together and hopefully fun to watch. I don’t have to stick rigidly to the video, but the process of making it solidifies the story I would like to tell. You should try it. It’s a lot of fun to search for just the right pictures and just the right words to accompany them. Sometimes, the music I choose even helps me to better envision the story I want to tell.
It’s creative. It’s fun and it really really helps. I’ve tried it. I will be making a book trailer this week for the novel I intend to write for this year’s Muskoka Novel Marathon. I’m not sure yet what I want to write, but once something comes to me I’ll make the trailer and then watch it until the gaps are filled in with my imagination and the wants and will of the characters I create for the trailer.
I won’t post any book trailers I’ve created as outlines, as I don’t have permissions for the images I used…I don’t make them with the intent of showing them publicly. I do have the permissions needed for the book trailer for my latest novel, The Reasons. So, I’ll share it now as an example of what you could do as an outline:
SO – There are times I start a post and it goes to drafts and it’s forgotten for ever. Or, at least until I accidentally stumble upon it months later. I just discovered this one and I have NO idea where I was going with it. I will now attempt to finish writing it and post it. I can’t imagine what I was thinking when I began it…from my recollection, I have never had dinner with Mr. Twain.
When I originally set out to have dinner with Mark, I had no idea what to serve. What do you serve the man who has been everywhere, seen everything?
I thought, ‘whatever I feed him, I’ll have to have chianti nearby for him to wash it down with‘. I searched everywhere for an old fashioned jug to serve the wine in. I don’t know why I knew it, but I knew it was an imperative that the wine be served in a jug. Something pulled out of the earth from sometime in the Pleistocene Epoch.
Everybody knows Mark Twain cannot have his wine poured from a bottle. That would be so gauche.
After sorting out the chianti situation, I moved on to the peas. Or, should that be string beans? Or carrots? Is there a literary themed vegetable? Surely someone must have written a masterpiece on the eggplant?
Immediately, Fruits & Vegetables popped into my head. You know…that awesome book of poetry by Erica Jong.
“I am thinking of the onion again, with its two O mouths, like the gaping holes in nobody. Of the outer skin, pinkish brown, peeled to reveal a greenish sphere, bald as a dead planet, glib as glass, & an odor almost animal.” ~ Erica Jong
And onions are an awesome thing. But I would never serve them as a side veg to the man who gave me The Innocents Abroad. I would cook with onions, saute them for the flavour and aroma…but they would not appear on the plate by themselves.
The next thought, “Potato I have.” Brought to you by the Dr. Seuss of the literary world, James Joyce himself. Although Leopold Bloom did everything with that potato but eat it, I was bound and determined to serve potato to Twain. For consumption. Just…not as a side veg. Mr. Mark Twain, I reasoned, would be nothing if not a meat and potatoes man. I mean, I could picture him at table with my own Poppy…picking at the new-fangled tower of ugly fruit and kiwi-infused kelp of the post-modern diner. Neither him nor Poppy would touch it to their lips. But both would inhale a good meal of MEAT & POTATOES. And I imagine they would eat the side veg, too, as long as it wasn’t…pretentious.
TURNIP! Only, I would call it rutabaga. This way, I give the man what he wants–wholesome, manly veg. And I get to slip a little pretension in there with the lofty moniker. Win-win. I thought I would boil them, mash them and throw in some brown sugar and lemon…for the extra kick in the face they would need to impress the Twain.
Let’s see… chianti, potatoes, turnip. I needed a meat!
Anybody who is breathing on planet earth today must know that Marky Mark’s favourite food was OYSTERS. But is that meat enough for a main course…of course not.
Yep. You know what happened. I found my appetizer! Served with a nice pumpkin beer and a black-pepper/hot-pepper infused olive oil bread–I knew I’d have him eating out of the palm of my hand. Or at least off the dishes in front of him. That’s a punch and a kick right there!
With a little help of my amazing ninja skill otherwise known as Google-Fu, I quickly learned that Twain would basically kill for a 2″ Porterhouse Steak. Not one for steak, myself, I figured I could make an exception. It was, after all, Mark Twain.
So, my menu was complete. I just had to remember to top it all off with throat-punchingly strong coffee (with hot milk, not cold cream) and a slice of—you guessed it—hot apple pie. You don’t serve the Great American Novelist dessert less American than hot apple pie. Though, if I had had it my way…I would have insisted on enlightening him to the delicacy of the BLUEBERRY BANG-BELLY.
Where was I?
Right. So dinner with Mark Twain.
Guess what! If you have an opportunity to break bread with an author—don’t worry about the tone and texture of the bread. Don’t do it! You sit…you talk.
Maybe I never once in my life had dinner with Mark Twain. But I know a good wordist™ when I read one (I just coined that word myself). I was 15 when I first took that trip around the globe with an excited Twain in his beautiful INNOCENTS ABROAD. Ever since I first read that book, I imagined Dinner with Twain. Not once, however, did I even passingly consider what we would be shoveling into our mouths at that table. This was a man who profoundly changed me. He changed what I wanted to be, who I wanted to be, where I wanted to go.
I guess my point is…use your opportunities. If you know you will have an opportunity to sit with a writer you respect…to share words and wisdom with them—FUCK THE DETAILS. No matter how high on the pedestal you perceive your giants to be, they are people just like you. Have a conversation…have the conversation you want to have with your heroes. Don’t pay too much attention to the details (odd advice coming from a writer, but I think you understand where it’s coming from in this instance). It doesn’t matter what the surroundings are, what food is on the table. What matters is that you both have an intrinsic thing in common. You both love words. Revel in that! Celebrate together.
An opportunity to spend time with a fellow writer is too beautiful a thing to waste.
As an aside, though…I would definitely have oysters at my Mark Twain meet-up. Dude would need serious ninja skills to get any, though. I’d stomp him for the last one. Oysters are a definite weakness for me. Filled with the yummy!
Next up to be interviewed for the Summer Reading Series is Marcel. Marcel lives in Toronto, Ontario, and you can Twitter follow him here: TORONTOHABSFAN One of my personal favourite Twitter handles! (-:
KC: Where do you read? Do you have any favourite places? Everywhere? Only in bed? On the subway? Favourite coffee shop?
MARCEL: Primarily, all my reading is done on transit. It’s my little distraction from everything else going on, but if I’m into the book I’ll read everywhere I can. Some books cannot be put down for that long.
KC: What book are you reading right now? And what are your thoughts on it so far?
MARCEL: I just started reading a book called Changing Tides by Michael Thomas Ford. I’m literally 4 pages in. So still getting into it. However I just wrapped the Hunger Games Trilogy. Such a heartbreaking, exhausting read. I really got into the books and just lost myself in them. I couldn’t put books 2 and 3 down.
KC: If you find you’re not really liking a book, do you still commit to reading it through to the end? If not, how far into it are you willing to go before putting it aside? If you DO commit, have you ever seen one through to the end to realize you were happy to have stuck it out?
MARCEL: I give every book 100 pages. If the story can’t draw me, away it goes. I have read a few books where I felt like it was going to be a chore to read only to get through and find myself liking it. Others I’ve stuck with and thought what a waste of my time.
KC: Who were your favourite authors as a child? Your favourite books?
MARCEL: I read every single Eric Wilson Mystery book I could get my hands on. Also read the Little House on the Prairie series; the Beverly Cleary books about Ralph. S. Mouse. And the geek in me read Shakespeare a lot too (13 year old).
KC: Your favourite authors as an adult?
MARCEL: As an adult I’ve read all of John Grisham, Michael Thomas Ford, Christopher Rice, Timothy James Beck, J.K. Rowling; Michael Connolly books. (I’m a complete-ist. If I find an author I like I read everything I can get my hands on.)
However my all-time favourite “book” cover is a comic book – issue 276 of THE AVENGERS:
KC: I SWEAR I had that issue of The Avengers when it first came out! Thor was my favourite. Definitely a great cover! Fess up – Are you an adult who reads YA? YA is one of the biggest growing markets out there right now…and a LOT of adults are consuming YA books in large quantities. Are you one of them?
MARCEL: I hate classification. Too me a story is a story, is a story. If I’m into it, I don’t care about the target market. So yes, I do read YA novels (I’ve read the entire Harry Potter Series 4 times; Just did the Hunger Games), but I was also reading Shakespeare at 12-15; Stephen King, V.C. Andrews and Anne Rice all before I hit 16. I think we need to stop pigeonholing ourselves with classifications. Let the masses decide what they want to read.
KC: I SO love your answer to that question. My thoughts exactly! Any books you’ve read recently that you won’t tell your friends you’ve read? Guilty little pleasures?
MARCEL: Lately – no. But I’m tempted to check out 50 Shades of Grey. I have no shame when it comes to books. I love the fact that I read books and show off that I do. If I can read a book called Sluts in public, I have no shame.
KC: Do you read fiction or non-fiction? Or a mix?
MARCEL: I do tend to aim for fiction. I like the escape a story give me. I don’t need to read real-life stuff, it’s too depressing.
KC: Do you recall any book-to-movie adaptations where you enjoyed the movie more than the book?
MARCEL: More than the book – nothing jumps to mind. There are a few adaptations where I’m ok with the changes made (most of the Harry Potter series for example).
KC: Do you have favourite genres? Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Contemporary, etc?
KC: Do you have favourite quotes from books? Any passages you felt compelled to highlight or call/text a friend at 3 in the morning to share it with them?
MARCEL: Nothing that really comes to mind. I was a fan of that first sentence from A Million Little Pieces, but I read it long after everyone else and took it for a work of fiction. I still maintain it’s a great story.
KC: “I wake from the drone of an airplane engine and the feeling of something warm dripping down my chin.” ~ First Sentence from A Million Little Piecesby James Frey.
That is quite a compelling sentence! Thanks so much for your time, Marcel. It’s been great reading your responses. We have some new titles to check out, and reminders of old favourites. Thank you!