Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I would like to welcome you to the NEXT BIG THING blog hop, which is designed to raise awareness of the work, or work in progress, of new authors. First of all, thanks to my fellow author, Elsie Rees Park and one of my dear writing buddies,Erika Mailman for inviting me hop on board.   

The rules of this blog hop go like this: I answer ten questions about my book then tag four to six other authors whose work could very well be the NEXT BIG THING.  

So, here goes:

1)        What is the working title of your next book? 
Up In The Air.

2)        Where did the idea come from for the book? 
One day while I was meditating, several scenes for the story popped into my head. This was a shock, as something like this had never happened to me before.

3)        What genre does your book fall under? 
Middle Grade Fantasy.

4)        Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie
This was a challenging question, but thanks to my eleven-year old daughter, with whom I watch way too many kid shows, I was able to come up with a couple of possibilities.

For the main character, Melody: Sierra McCormick.

For Sara, Melody’s guide on Chimeroan: Brenda Song.

For Jackson, one of the fliers: Jaden Smith.

If dreams could become reality, then for the character of Patrick O’Hara: Peter Dinklage (think Tyrion Lannister in the Game of Thrones).

Honestly though, I’m thrilled with the idea of having as-yet unknown actors and actresses play the parts.

5)        What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 
A young girl dreams of flying but when her dream comes true and she gets wings, she realizes that she can’t fly away from her problems.

6)        Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
Up In the Air will be published by Jolly Fish Press. The publication date is July 6th of this year.

7)        How long did it take you to write the first draft of your
I didn’t keep track, but if I had to guess, I’d say at least a year; maybe even longer. My answer to Question 9 will explain why. 

8)        What other books would you compare this story to within your
This is a tough one. Even though I’ve read an innumerable number of children’s books, none quite compares with Up In The Air. Still, I will go out on a limb and say (with cheek in tongue) that one or two aspects of my story can compare to some degree with The of Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.  

9)        Who or what inspired you to write this book? 
As I mentioned above, scenes for Up In The Air popped into my head while I was meditating. I was so excited (plus afraid I’d forget the ideas) that I immediately jumped up, ran downstairs to my computer and started typing. By chapter 3 I knew I was in deep trouble, so I went back upstairs, closed my eyes and resumed my meditation. 
Nothing, Nada, Zilch.

It took me months to figure out the best way to convey the essence of the book and the ideas that had come to me during the meditation. Then I had to write and rewrite and rewrite (ad infinitum) certain chapters before I could complete the book. Whenever I felt like giving up or found myself working on one of my other manuscripts, I would remind myself that if I had received the idea for Up In The Air during a meditation, then it needed to be written. I had to find a way.  

And eventually I did. 
10)      What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Imagine a world where dreams come true; anything imagined or desired. Well, Chimeroan is such a place. Yet be warned. Dreams come with a price. 

Here are some of the amazing authors joining the blog hop next week:   

Monday, January 07, 2013

A Writer at Eleven!

At eleven, it never occurred to me to write a book. I don’t think I could have wrapped my head around plot or character at that age. But Jamie Faith Sheppard faced up to the challenge and wrote What Are Stanley and Milo Up To Now? Not only that, but she and her mother, Densie Garcia Sheppard, illustrated the book as well.

I thought I would interview Jamie today. And just to give you the heads-up, she has agreed to give away two of her books. So, please read below for details.

First, here is a brief synopsis of What Are Stanley and Milo Up to Now?

Stanley and Milo, best friends for the last year are inseparable. They look forward to their summer vacation, but because of their mischievous nature, they end up being grounded for weeks, almost ruining their summer. They are also a bit clumsy, and are constantly attracted to mishaps. Just when they thought that they were able to salvage their summer, they mess up big time and are grounded again, this time for the rest of their summer vacation.

AMM: Welcome Jamie. First of all, can you share what inspires you to write? Do you get ideas while daydreaming, watching TV or carrying on a serious conversation with your parents?

JAMIE:  Reading stories from my favorite Author inspires me to write, but many times I would get ideas while watching television or during school. Sometimes ideas would even pop into my head while cleaning my room or playing. Once, I was even on the bus on my way home from school and while looking out the window, an idea flew into my mind.

AMM:  Well, that is definitely the mark of a writer. Were any of the characters or situations drawn from your own life?

JAMIE:  Yes, one character from my own life was portrayed in my story. I portrayed my dad. He works in the Oilfield and there were times in the past when he was away working for over a month. I missed him a lot when he was gone. My dad also owns two gas powered remote control cars which we sometimes play with together. I used those two situations to portray Stanley's dad in my story. I even mentioned the same things that my dad and I say to each other. For instance, I would say, "I love you Dad" and he would say "I love you more"; and we would keep saying that to each other until we got tired.

AMM: That is so touching. Speaking of parents, what was it like working with your mother to illustrate your book?

JAMIE:  Working with my mother was a bit challenging because at certain times I was a bit picky. In fact, we both were. For instance, I would attempt to draw the characters, Stanley and Milo, but my mom wouldn't like it, and then she would draw them and I wouldn’t approve. Many attempts were made until I finally got the look I wanted, and my mom agreed also. I created the look of Stanley and Milo but my mom altered their expressions whenever needed. Because those were the main characters, we wanted to ensure that we got it to our total satisfaction.

AMM: You sound like a very determined girl, Jamie. Your mother must be very proud of you. Is being published everything you’d hoped it would be? Any surprises?

JAMIE: At first, I didn't give much thought to it. I was more excited about writing, and my mom was more excited about getting it published.  However, there were times when I didn't feel to write, but constantly keeping my mind on my goal and the end result, gave me that extra push. Sometimes many great ideas came to me and writing was easy, yet other times I would write an entire page and my mom would think that it wasn't up to standard, so I would grumble my way back to my paper and pencil to start again. As my story came to the end, I became more excited, and when I got the first copy of my book, I was so impressed and proud of myself for not giving up. The actual published book was more than I expected.

AMM:  Would you like to share what you are working on next?

JAMIE: After finishing my first book, I started on a new one right away, but quickly got tired and needed a break. At first I thought about writing a sequel to Stanley and Milo, but mysteries are really my favorite. You might think that's odd because my first book was an adventure story. For me, mysteries involve a lot more planning and plotting so I guess I wasn't ready to do that for my first book. An adventure was easier to write at the time.  

So my second book will be a mystery. It's about a girl who moves into a new neighborhood. Her dad warned her that the house down the road hadn't been lived in for many years, and that she shouldn't go anywhere near it because it was dilapidated and the floor boards were shaky. Yet her curiosity got the best of her and she goes against her father's wishes and enters the house. But that's all I'll tell you. I'm still working on the plot and many times while writing, I change my mind about how I want the story to go, so I won't share any more with you.

AMM:  Sounds intriguing. Finally, Jamie, how do you juggle your time between writing and going to school?

JAMIE:  I am so passionate about writing that it doesn't seem like a task to me. Many times, instead of watching television or playing outside, I prefer to just sit quietly and write. I also prioritize, so as soon as I arrive home from school, I complete my homework, then I have something to eat, relax a little or play and then maybe read or write. It doesn't always work out that way though because sometimes I just don't feel to write. While writing my first book, I got into a routine of either writing right after doing my homework or just before bedtime. With this new book that I'm working on, it's more challenging because I'm now on a basketball team, so we've got practices and games very often, which I also look forward to every week. Basketball is my other passion.

AMM:  Jamie, it was a pleasure hosting you today, and I wish you all the success with your book.

Here is a Bio of Jamie, in her own words:

My name is Jamie Faith Sheppard and I have a passion for writing. I am 11 years old and was born in Trinidad and Tobago, the most southerly island in the Caribbean. I have two sisters, Dana and Brooke, and a miniature dachshund named Charlie Brown. Ever since I could remember, my mom would wake me up for school on mornings and the first thing that I would do is grab my writing pad and a pencil, and start writing a story while my mom prepared my breakfast. I love to draw as well and always illustrated all of my stories. I also love to read, and more recently a book is the first thing that I would look for as I awake. Apart from reading and writing, singing makes me happy and I am passionate about basketball. I look forward to my practices and games every week. I love the outdoors, and the tropical weather in my home island of Trinidad and Tobago and also love being in Pennsylvania with the changing seasons. My family and I look forward to annual road trips, which give me many experiences to write about.

What Are Stanley and Milo Up To Now? can be purchased at:

Barnes and Noble:

E-book version:

Now for the giveaways. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Rafflecopter, you can enter once a day and the two people with the most entries will each win a copy of Jamie’s book. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway