Thursday, October 29, 2020

Interview With Carla

I have an interview with Carla today! Again, questions courtesy of my mom.

What is the thing you remember most about your early childhood? 

Spending time with Emma. *laughs* That’s still probably what I do most. But when I was little especially, Emma read to me all the time and played lots of music for me. I wouldn’t let her stop. She never liked fairy tales, but they were my favorites when I was really little. I especially loved Cinderella. Then when I was four and Emma and Grace were eight, Grace got Emma to read me A Wrinkle in Time. I was probably a little too young for it then and I didn’t understand it very well, but I loved it. Emma didn’t, but she still read it to me over and over again, and A Wind in the Door too. *sighs* Emma really would do anything for me, and she always has. I just wish I could do more for her. 

What is your favorite song to play on the piano? 

Ooh, that’s a hard one. Grieg is one of my favorite composers, since he wrote “Morning Mood” which was what made me fall in love with music. But I can’t really play Grieg concertos yet. I can’t wait until I can play his “Piano Concerto in A Minor,” though I’m not likely to get to perform it with a full orchestra. Right now, I’m working on Debussy’s “Le Petit Noir,” which is a lot of fun. There’s a lot of staccato, with your right hand directly underneath the left for part of it, and it’s just so fun. I like more than just Romantic and Impressionistic music though. I also like playing more modern music. I have my own arrangement of “Let It Go” and of “King of Love” by I Am They too. 

Do you enjoy hanging out with Grace…either with Emma, or alone? 

Grace is fun, but she and Emma argue a lot, so it’s usually more fun to hang out with just Grace. Grace read me Narnia and she finds me all sorts of musicals and film score to listen to. We have a good time. I just wish Emma would be more willing to have fun and not be so serious all the time. 

What do you do for fun? 

Listen to stories and play music mostly. Sometimes I’ll hang out with other kids from school but Mom doesn’t like that and I’m not as close to them as I am to Emma anyway. I spend a lot of time on the piano. I do work really hard at it because I want to be a concert pianist someday, but I also just really like playing. Music is amazing. There’s so much emotion in it, and it can tell a story too. I’ll improvise music for my favorite stories sometimes. Once I pretended I was composing a soundtrack for The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. It’s one of my favorite series. And if Mom’s having a good day, sometimes she’ll play duets with me. I like it when we can do that. She likes to play “The Planets” by Gustav Holst and she’s created her own arrangement of it too. 

If there was one thing you could tell Emma (that you haven’t already told her) what would it be? 

I really can’t think of anything I haven’t told Emma. I tell her everything. I’d tell her again she needs to learn how to have fun, but I’ve told her that a lot, and so has Grace. *sighs* She’s always had too much responsibility since Dad has to spend so much of his time taking care of Mom. Emma deserves some time off.

Check out today's other tour stop!
Book Review at Tricia Mingerink


Enter to win a signed copy of Acktorek: The Void! Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Interview With Emma


I have an interview today with Emma Edsel! My mom gave me some questions for her, and, well, we had a conversation about them. This is a peek into my writer mind. Conversations like this have happened before, sometimes while I'm working at the library...

I promise I'm not crazy!

Anyway, I'm in bold, Emma's in regular. Enjoy!

What was the hardest thing about growing up in your house?

*stares incredulously* You really think I’m going to answer a question like that? For all the world to see?

Well…your story is about to be published in a novel…

*awkward silence*

So that’s why you wanted me to talk to you…

Um, yeah. But I promise the most personal stuff won’t be public knowledge. That’s just to help me understand you better.

*glare intensifies* What’s your definition of “most personal”?

*shifts uncomfortably* …Probably slightly different from yours.

*stands up, arms folded across chest* That’s it. I’m done. I don’t know why I finally talked to you at all.

Vannie may have had something to do with that. I think she yelled at you a few times for giving me such a hard time.

That girl needs to learn to keep some things to herself.

Can’t argue with that one. But please, Emma, answer a few questions? Easier ones?

*huffs, but sits back down* Make it quick. And it better not be invasive.

This one isn’t. What is your favorite subject in school?

Science. I like biology and chemistry best, and I wish high school science would go deeper into biochemistry and molecular biology. Physics is okay. And math is dependable.

Science is pretty cool. And math is way better than foreign language. I hate foreign language. Mostly because I’m so bad at it. But I’ve always liked English and history the best.

See, this is why you don’t understand me.

I’m trying. Cut me some slack. Here’s another question. Has Grace always driven you crazy, or did this just happen in high school?

*snorts* Has Grace ever not been annoying? There’s always been one thing or another that gets on my nerves about her. I can’t get rid of her, and believe me, I’ve tried. But she has gotten worse since she and Brian started dating. She thinks all my problems would be solved if I just had a boyfriend. Stupid.

It’s not that she thinks a boyfriend would solve your problems so much as it’s that she thinks healthy relationships with someone other than Carla would be good for you. Especially if it was a relationship with someone who would take care of you. You need that. That kind of leads into the next question. Is there anyone besides Grace that you can talk to (like an adult role model)?

Really? Who would I talk to?

Grace’s mom would probably be a good option.

Not a chance.

Why not?

*glares* Because no one would understand, that’s why. And they all let you down.

What basis do you have for that statement? Has Grace’s family ever actually let you down, or are you so afraid they will that you don’t even ask? It’s hard for people to know you need help if you don’t ask for it.

I’m not going to answer that.

At least think about it?

Maybe. If you’ll stop bugging me.

Well…Just one more question and you can go.

You mean until you make me talk to you again?


You really don’t know how to leave a person alone, do you?

It’s kind of hard when you live inside my head.

Talk to Vannie. Leave me alone.

I do talk to Vannie. Problem is, she’d rather talk to me about how great it is to be married to Kyle than about what it took to get them to the place where they could get married, and that’s not helpful. But can I ask you the last question?

Fine. But I can’t promise I’ll answer.

It’s one I hope you have an answer for, but I kind of doubt you do. What do you do for fun?

*blinks* Um…I walk in the woods to the stream sometimes?

*sighs* You need a hobby.

Now you’re sounding like Grace.

Well, she’s not wrong.

I don’t have time for a hobby. Can I go now?

I guess so. Goodbye.


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Enter to win a signed copy of Acktorek: The Void! Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Acktorek: The Void Is Here!

Today's the day! The sun is shining! The tank is clean! And we are getting out— The tank is clean!

It's my thing. Deal with it. 😉

Acktorek: The Void is HEEEEERE!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited to finally introduce this book to the world. These characters are my babies and I put them through so much and it's been a long, hard journey to get to know Emma (and get her to not hate me), and now you can meet them properly!

I've got a small blog tour going on with reviews and author interviews and character interviews and a giveaway, so check it out!

Tour Schedule

Monday, October 26
· Tour Announcement at Morgan Elizabeth Huneke
· Book Review at Living Outside the Lines
· Author Interview at Isamonkey Reviews

Tuesday, October 27
· Book Spotlight at Jaye L. Knight
· Author Interview at Living Outside the Lines
· Interview with Emma at Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

Wednesday, October 28
· Book Spotlight at The Music of a Story
· Interview with Mitchell at Living Outside the Lines

Thursday, October 29
· Book Review at Tricia Mingerink
· Interview with Carla at Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

Friday, October 30
· Tour Wrap-Up at Morgan Elizabeth Huneke


Enter to win a signed copy of Acktorek: The Void! Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Introducing Carla Edsel

Carla's my baby. I want to give her all the hugs. She's a brave and selfless girl, and at almost-thirteen, she's the youngest of the three point of view characters.

She's never known a time when her mom wasn't mental and her dad wasn't emotionally distant. She wouldn't know there ever was a time when things were different if Emma hadn't told her. And Emma herself barely remembers. Emma practically raised Carla, and Carla very much looks up to her older sister. They are quite different when it really comes down to it, but they're very close even so. Emma would do anything for Carla, so even though Emma isn't much into fiction, and especially isn't into speculative fiction, Emma has read Carla numerous L'Engle and Haddix books, in addition to fairy tales when Carla was really little. Those are precious memories to Carla.

Carla loves music. Even though Emma doesn't much care for music herself, she's actually responsible for Carla's love of music. Emma was trying and failing to explain the sunrise to Carla, and remembered she'd just had Grieg's "Morning Mood" in music appreciation at school. She played the song for Carla and that was the moment Carla fell in love with music. She loves playing piano, both Baroque/Classical/Romantic music, and modern songs such as "Let It Go." She is currently learning "Le Petit Noir" by Claude Debussy for a school talent show. But she will always have a soft spot for Grieg.

Carla can be kind of a mess. While Emma's room is sparse and neat, Carla's room is full of stuffed animals and audiobooks and clothes often end up on the floor. She also has a habit of twirling her fingers in her hair if she's concentrating or nervous or just trying to think, which often knots it up.

Carla has been blind since birth. It doesn't really bother her or hold her back—it's just a fact of life. The only thing is, she does feel like it makes Emma worry about her more, and makes things harder for her. Not that Emma wouldn't worry about her if she was sighted. She would. Emma's always done so much for Carla. Carla just wishes she could do more for Emma.

Carla's relationship with Emma is extremely important to her life, but her relationship with God is first. She has a strong, unwavering faith that inspires me. She's so young, but she's selfless and wants to do what's right no matter what the personal consequences are. I want to be like Carla when I grow up.

I love Carla so much and I can't wait for you to meet her properly next week!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Introducing Mitchell Banks

Mitchell Banks is the main guy in Acktorek: The Void, and he is not from our world. (Like my post about Acktorek itself, some of this isn't actually in the book, but just a part of my development of Mitchell's character/backstory.)

He comes originally from a world called Aglion, but he currently resides in the city world of Ebraria, from which the company Acktorek operates.

Mitchell grew up in Aglion with his family: his parents and his older sister Lara who married a teacher named Tucker and had two children, Anise and Jason. Mitchell was very close to his family, and Anise especially is a huge influence in his life. Aglion puts a huge emphasis on academics, and, as they supply Acktorek with some of its greatest scientists, it's a big deal to pass the Acktorek Preparatory Program, as Mitchell did.

At fourteen, Mitchell moved to Ebraria to attend Acktorek Academy, a four-year program that trains future Acktorek agents. Like I said before, it is their main program, but they do have other training programs as well. Mitchell's preference would have been special ops (basically investigating and taking care of weird sciencey things that happen, and all in all being Force-less, lightsaber-less Jedi/Team Flash/The Doctor people, and special ops is the best name I could come up with—though I could have gone with "Daddy" as a kid my sister babysits suggested), but he ended up in breach control. Which is typically a boring go-to-this-world-and-throw-a-neutralizer-into-this-breach-before-it-gets-toxic-or-otherwise-dangerous job. Only that's not how it's turning out.

Mitchell is a kind, compassionate person, who wants to help others. He experiences doubts about his abilities and adequacy. He's very dutiful, but also determined to do what's right, even if it means disobeying a direct order. He's stubborn and determined, but also knows when to back off. He has a soft spot for little girls because they remind him of his niece, Anise. He misses his family like crazy and will never get used to living away from them in a city instead of near them in the countryside. He likes to cook, he doesn't especially like shoes (though that never comes up in the first book), and he often runs his hand through his blond hair making it stick up (it's a similar cut to BBC Arthur and Luke Skywalker). He also speaks several languages and much prefers physics to biology. He's eager to please, but he'd much rather please his Heavenly Father than his superiors at Acktorek. And he has a tendency to get injured and not bother treating the wound until someone makes him. But he will 100% make sure you don't skip any meals.

All in all, he's a great guy who was a LOT easier to develop than Emma, and I hope you like him as much as I do. And I can't wait to write more stories about him. 😊

Monday, October 5, 2020

Introducing Emma Edsel

Technically I did a post about Emma a little over two years ago, but that was before I really got inside her head, so while that post is still mostly accurate, it's rather incomplete. Now to introduce her without giving major spoilers...

Emma is a high school senior with very little personal ambition. She has an interest in science, particularly biochemistry and molecular biology, but she doesn't feel free to pursue her own interests. She never has.

Until Emma was about four, her life was fairly normal. When her mother was pregnant with her younger sister Carla, however, everything changed. Mom went crazy, Dad became distant, and little Emma became largely responsible for bringing up her blind little sister.

Everything about Emma's life revolves around Carla. Emma's goal is to become financially independent as soon as possible so she and Carla can move out of the toxic environment that is their dysfunctional family. She wants to give Carla a stable life. And she doesn't feel that she can do that with Mom talking to people who aren't there and freaking out about nonexistent dangers, and Dad always being checked out emotionally. Carla deserves better than that.

Emma's a loner...with a best friend she can't get rid of. Grace Holland has considered herself to be Emma's best friend since they were four years old, ever since Emma spent lots of time at her house during her mom's pregnancy with Carla. The two girls are vastly different—Grace is happy, bubbly, and loves her fandoms, and Emma is angry, closed off, and thinks most fiction, especially spec fic, is stupid—but for all their differences and for all Grace never ceases to get on Emma's nerves, they still talk to each other every day and always sit together at lunch. Not that Emma has much of a choice in the matter.

Emma has no interest in boys or relationships. She's seen her parents. Sure, they love each other, but their life isn't exactly sunshine and lollipops. She doesn't want to deal with that. Nor does she have the time for a boyfriend. She has to focus on preparing to be on her own and supporting her sister. So does Grace have to keep pushing her to date? And pushing the new boy, Mitchell, on her?

Emma likes for things to make sense. To be under her control. She has a hard time accepting anything that's outside of her carefully constructed idea of how the world works. She's had so little control over the chaos that comes with her life. She has to hold onto what little control she has.

But that may not be possible.

Read an early copy of the book and help spread the word about the upcoming release!