Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou

Colorful Pirates, SuRana, a shape-shifting puma, and an old Cajun guide named Mud Bug, join Cynthia and Gus, in Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou.
By Mary Cunningham

The twelve-year-old best friends travel through the magic trunk in Cynthia's attic to a 1914 Louisiana bayou searching for Cynthia's great-grandfather, Beau Connor. Discovering a connection between Beau and Buzzard Jack LaBuse, the meanest, orneriest pirate this side of the Mississippi, leads to a heart-stopping confrontation to recover a long-lost treasure and lift a family curse.



Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou
Excerpt from Chapter Nine:


"How do you reckon they got here, son?"
"Like I told you, Ma, I found them here in the hayloft, all nestled down like they were fixin' to take a nap."
"Well, what do you suppose we should do? Wake them, or let them sleep? I hate to disturb those angelic faces…oh, my heavens! Jay! You don't think they're dead, do you?"
I heard the word, dead, and sat straight up. "No! We're not dead, and who are you?"
"Now, listen here. I'll do the talking if you don't mind."
A tall, thin young man in overalls, resting one arm on a pitchfork, looked down at us. With that deadly weapon in his grasp, I decided to shut my mouth…for the moment.
"What? Where are we?" Cynthia regained consciousness and did a double-take.
A plump, older woman in a huge white apron answered, "You're on the Conner farm, dearie. I'm Samantha Conner and this is my son, Jay.
No wonder Cynthia was speechless. I wasn't too familiar with her mother's family, but their name was Conner, and I'd heard mention of Samantha, Cynthia's great-grandmother. Her grandfather was nicknamed Jay by his dad who thought that 'John Joseph' was too showy for a farmer's son. This might also explain why the man we were looking for, her great-grandfather, Aloysius Beauregard Conner, went by Beau.
"So?" Jay leaned forward, still holding the pitchfork. "We're waiting for an answer."
My mind raced. I could tell we weren't going to lie our way out of this one. Not easily.
"We got separated from our family, sir," Cynthia, over her momentary shock, said smoothly. "We were traveling west, and our wagon…uh, our covered wagon…"
I nodded. So, she did pay attention in history class. "
"…became stuck in a muddy creek bank. My sister, Gus, er, uh…I mean Augusta, and I left to find help and got hopelessly lost."
"Oh, dear!" Samantha threw her hands in the air. "Your poor parents! They must be frantic! Jay, we must help them find their family!" She ran in circles, almost tripping on her long apron, crying…"Oh, dear! Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"
I knew better than to look at Cynthia because we'd both burst out laughing. Great Grandma Sam, was quite a sight. At least her antics took the heat off of us because Jay had to all but tackle his mother.
"Ma. Stop running! We'll find their family, but we need more information."
He must've had a lot of practice calming her down, because the sternness in his voice stopped her hysterics on the spot. "You're right, son. Oh, I'm sorry, girls. I can't imagine the horror of losing any of my beautiful children."
Jay smirked. "Yeah, but Ma, with twelve kids, it might be awhile before you'd know any of us were missing."
She sent a withering look. "Oh, you two dearies. Don't pay any attention to him. Jay, here, is 21, and the baby of the family. But, just because his brothers and sisters are grown, with families of their own, I still fret about every single one of my brood."
Standing behind his mother, Jay smiled and winked. "Now, that Ma has sworn her undying love for all her children, let's get back to you girls."
Shoot! I had hoped we were off the hook. No such luck.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Mary Cunningham

Whenever I ask a non-writer to imagine a typical full-time writer's workload, they look a bit puzzled, before they reply: "Well, a writer... writes. Drinks coffee. Smokes lots of cigarettes. Writes some more. Finishes the book. Sends it off to the publishers. Writes another book."

If only!

Today I'd like to dispel this myth by talking to Mary Cunningham again (see my archives for the previous interview earlier this year, http://yewalus.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_archive.html). Mary is the author of the young reader series called "Cynthia's Attic". Welcome back, Mary.

Q: I'd like us to concentrate on your marketing effort for the "Cynthia's Attic" series: what did you try?

A: You're right, Yvonne. If only we could just write! Today's authors must be more involved in marketing. Book one, "The Missing Locket" was published in DEC 2005. I wish I'd known then what I know now. I don't think I'd be struggling as much with sales. I'm so much more savvy about promoting on the Internet. It's such an amazing tool. If you hit the right review sites, blogs, press releases, you can reach so many more people than you can at booksignings or book festivals. These are still important, but mass media is so much more effective. I also have a website, and blog on 7 or 8 different blogspots, plus try to "guest blog" whenever I'm asked!

Q: What worked best?

A: So far, blogs have been the most effective. I'd had one review that was posted on 15 (that I've counted) different blogs, including 2 international blogs.

Q: What didn't work so well for you and why?

A: I've struggled with libraries. Although I've sent personal e-mails to libraries in 8 states, I have very few library sales to show for it. Libraries are hung up on reviews - Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly. If your book isn't listed on one of these sites, it's like pulling teeth to get them to add your books to their catalogs. I know other authors have had good success with libraries, so maybe I'm just not hitting the right buttons. I won't stop trying!

Q: Let's talk about Book Three: what is the title and blurb?

A: So glad you asked! The title is Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou.

Colorful Pirates, SuRana, a shape-shifting puma, and an old Cajun guide named Mud Bug, join Cynthia and Gus, in Cynthia's Attic: Curse of the Bayou.

The twelve-year-old best friends travel through the magic trunk in Cynthia's attic to a 1914 Louisiana bayou searching for Cynthia's great-grandfather, Beau Connor. Discovering a connection between Beau and Buzzard Jack LaBuse, the meanest, orneriest pirate this side of the Mississippi, leads to a heart-stopping confrontation to recover a long-lost treasure and lift a family curse.

Q: I look forward to presenting an excerpt and the book's cover in next week's blog, Mary. Meanwhile, back to the marketing aspect again: what have you done so far for this latest book, what are you planning to do still, why is it different to or the same as you've tried before?

A: I'm sending out more press releases. Spreading the word through blogs and MySpace. As soon as I have a firm publish date, I'll concentrate on my best markets (hometown, region, book locale, etc.) and also contact bookstores in those areas. In addition to the books my publisher (Quake) will be sending out for review, I'll send books out for review. I've also been asked to write Book Four! I'll never stop marketing, but I also need to find time to write another book. I'm not ready to let go of Cynthia and Gus just yet.

Q: Anything else you'd like to add?

A: I'm proud of the fact that my goal in writing the series is to elevate grandparents beyond homemade cookies and hugs in the eyes of their grandchildren. Cynthia's Attic bridges the generational gap, helping young readers and writers understand that it's okay, and might even be fun, for them to ask questions and write stories about their grandparents before they became, well...grandparents! I regret the fact that I didn't sit down with my grandparents and ask about their childhood. It's too late for me, but maybe I can encourage young readers to be inquisitive and write stories about their ancestors.

Q: And before we sign off: link to purchasing all the books in the series.

http://www.marycunninghambooks.com/ (links to online bookstores and local bookstores may be found on my website)
http://www.quakeme.com/
Amazon
Fictionwise

Thanks, so much Yvonne. It's been a pleasure being your guest!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The woods

Harlan Coben latest offering, “The woods”, uses the author’s very own tried (though not yet tired) and tested formula: a protagonist we empathise with, a mystery from the past returning to complicate the present, a dead loved one - but is she really dead?

The pacing is spot on, the dialogues brilliant and under-worded, the mystery intriguing. And yet, I couldn’t help the feeling that the book lacked a certain something that I’ve come to expect from the author: the usual gripping terror, perhaps, or a final read-through? It’s almost as though the protagonist is spared the customary torment inflicted on him by the writer. His troubles are implied more than felt, the threats never quite realised.

In a way, that’s a good thing. I’m quite content not to have my emotional guts wrenched out, twisted and beaten to pulp by a thriller.

But “The woods” is not as good as “Gone for good”, “Tell no one” or “Just one look”.

PS: The Publisher's Blurb, to make you want to read the book anyway:

Twenty years ago, four teenagers at summer camp walked into the woods at night. Two were found murdered, and the others were never seen again. Four families had their lives changed forever.

Now, two decades later, they are about to change again. For Paul Copeland, the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey, mourning the loss of his sister has only recently begun to subside. Cope, as he is known, is now dealing with raising his six- year-old daughter as a single father after his wife has died of cancer. Balancing family life and a rapidly ascending career as a prosecutor distracts him from his past traumas, but only for so long.

When a homicide victim is found with evidence linking him to Cope, the well-buried secrets of the prosecutor’s family are threatened.Is this homicide victim one of the campers who disappeared with his sister? Could his sister be alive? Cope has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his Russian parents might have been hiding even from their own children.

Cope must decide what is better left hidden in the dark and what truths can be brought to the light.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Celebrate 100

To celebrate my 100th post on this blog, I've decided to take a fun quiz, courtesy of a paranormal romance author, Nalini Singh. Have a look at the result, which is based (among others) on the fact that my preferred psychic powers are Healing, Empathy and Telepathy:







Which Psy-Changeling Hero Is For You?




Your Psy/Changeling Hero: Lucas

Tough, dangerous and highly intelligent, the alpha of the DarkRiver leopard pack is a man who will demand everything from his mate. But he will give the same in return. And he will never let go.Find out more about Lucas and the series at www.nalinisingh.com
Take this quiz!








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