Friday, August 22, 2014

Bullying... It's An Update

I recently posted about my stepson and the bullying community here in Union City. My son doesn't want to go back to school; so, we began looking into enrolling him in an online high school. When my wife told the representative of the PAcyber Charter School why we were interested in enrolling our son they said that that was terrible and asked where he attended. Upon being told that it was Union City School District they were unsurprised. Apparently they have several students from the Union City area that transferred due to bullying.

Other people in the area that I've talked to have also been unsurprised. Seems that the area has had a bullying problem for many years and it is getting worse. Good thing we're looking to move.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vanessa Finaughty: A Twelfth Night Interview

poster2Last month I shared an extract from the new fantasy series “Wizards of Ends” by Vanessa Finaughty. At the time I promised an upcoming interview which I know you’ve all been waiting, however impatiently, for ever since. Well, it’s time to end the anticipation and hopefully stoke up some more for Vanessa’s upcoming series. So without further ado, I present (on this the twelfth of August) a dozen questions with Vanessa Finaughty!!

1.) Your new series "Wizard of Ends" is coming out soon, what will you tell us about it?
Wizard of Ends is a fantasy novella series that follows the adventures of the wizard, Lashlor Leaflin. Lashlor doesn’t think he’s all that powerful, yet he’s probably the most powerful magic user the Land of Ends has ever known. He also doesn’t use magic just because he can, and always tries to find another way. This often upsets the people around him, especially if they’re under attack and the one person who could end it quickly refuses to use magic to do so.
2.) Do you plot out your series before you start; how many books and what occurs in each?
I sometimes plan my books, but, thus far, none of my series have been planned. It usually starts with a vague idea that pops into my head, along with the opening scene, which I visualise much like a movie. Once I start writing, the story writes itself and the characters take over. It’s much more fun writing a story when you don’t know what’s going to happen next, and is excellent motivation to make time to write among all the work and baby-related responsibilities. As far as the total number of books in Wizard of Ends is concerned, I honestly have no idea – all I can say at this point is that there will be quite a few more books in the series, based on what’s already in my head waiting to come out, and Book 3 is already well underway.
3.) What themes do you explore in this series?
There are two main themes. The first is that you shouldn’t always do things the easy way just because you can. Sometimes that can have disastrous consequences and weaken you, and, if you take the easy way too often, it may no longer be available to you when you need it the most. The second theme is that you should always try to do the right thing, even if it takes some effort and you gain nothing from it other than the joy of doing the right thing.
4.) What themes are you most passionate about and which of your works explore them?
I’m passionate about doing the right thing no matter what, and helping those who cannot help themselves, so that tends to come out in a lot of my writing. Wizard of Ends is one example, as is my other series, Legends of Origin, which also explores humanity’s origins and our reason for existing – something I think everyone would like a definite answer to… before we leave our fleshly bodies! Of course, I’m the most passionate about good overcoming ‘evil’, and that’s apparent in most of my books.
5.) What other projects are on your radar for the near future?
I’m currently working on Book 4 in my Legends of Origin series and Book 3 in the Wizard of Ends series. After the Wizard of Ends book tour later this year, I’ll be publishing an A – Z of Book Marketing (that’s a working title). There are also a number of new series ideas clamouring to leave my head, all sci-fi and fantasy, but, sadly, right now I only have time to focus on the two series I just mentioned. It’s tempting to start the others, but I don’t want to let down my readers, and, as an avid reader myself, I know how frustrating it is when you’ve just finished a book and are dying to read the next one, but it isn’t available yet.
6.) Which authors do you feel have had the most influence on you and on this series?
Dean Koontz probably influenced much of my earlier writings, specifically my horrors and thrillers, and I still love his books. I don’t think Wizard of Ends was influenced by another author, though, simply because I hardly ever have time to read for fun anymore (that isn’t as bad as it sounds, because I still read novels daily for work, which is nice).
7.) What is your favorite book written by yourself and by someone else and why?
My favourite of my books is Wizard of Ends, Book 2 – I find that the last thing I’ve completed is always my favourite, possibly because I never stop trying to improve. My favourite book by another writer… that’s a hard one; there are so many! If I have to choose just one, I’d have to say The Queen’s Blade by TC Southwell, but I also love Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and all his other books, and my favourite Koontz books are Lightning and Watchers.
8.) Is there any question that you dislike answering and why?
I can’t think of any question I’ve disliked answering, but I think anything that’s too personal would be a no-no for me, and I’d probably refuse to answer. I’m quite an open person, though, and most interviewers have the tact not to ask people too-personal questions, which is probably why I can’t recall ever being asked something I didn’t want to answer.
9.) Is there a question that you wish someone had asked you and what is your answer to it?
I think this is probably the same for most writers, but… I would be over the moon if someone asked me: do you want me to sponsor your writing for a year? Okay, that’s not an interview question, which is what you were asking for, but it’s the first thing that popped into my head when I read your question! My answer would obviously be a resounding yes please!
10.) What is the hardest part of being a writer?
Having to stop writing to fulfil other responsibilities when I’m ‘in the zone’.
11.) What do you want your legacy to be?
That you can do anything, including things others think impossible, if you just believe, put your mind to it and never give up.
12.) Where can readers find you on the internet?
Author website (which will soon be given a facelift)
Author blog
Barnes& Noble
My books are sold by all Smashwords’ distribution partners, except Kobo and the libraries, which I’ve opted out of.

A Brief Author’s Bio

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESVanessa grew up in Cape Town, and still lives there with her husband of fifteen years, her baby daughter and plenty of furry, four-legged ‘children’.

Her passion for the written word started her career as an editor and copywriter and she ran a writers’ critique group for close on seven years. She’s been writing ever since she learnt how, has always been an avid reader, and currently lives on coffee and her e-cigarette.

Her interests include reading, photography, the supernatural, life’s mysteries and martial arts, of which she has five years’ experience.


Disclaimer: This blog is a Smashwords affiliate, any purchases from Smashwords may result in a laughable amount of money to fall into my bank account.

Bullying… It takes a community.

My step son is being bullied. It got so bad at school that he started skipping school. When we discovered that his brothers and he were sneaking back in to the house through their bedroom windows we went to the school and made arrangements for someone at the school to call us if the kids did not attend. No one ever called.

They filed truancy charges against him and his mother and a hearing was held. The representative from the school claimed to be ignorant of the bullying. The District Magistrate told my son that if he attended school and got his grades up she would not fine him or suspend his ability to get his driver’s learning permit. So he goes to school, works hard gets his grades up. His mom and I continue going to the school about his being bullied. No resolution to the bullying ever appears and despite doing as the Magistrate ordered he was fined $371.00 and cannot get his permit for 90 days after his sixteenth birthday.

The school has successfully taught him that if you are being bullied nothing will be done (in fact the told him it was more likely he would be the bully than the victim) to the bullies but the victim will be punished especially if he skips school to hide from the bullies. The Magistrate has taught him that no matter what the government tells you, doing what they ask will only result in your being punished anyway.

So his current attitude is that the kids are bullies, the school staff are bullies and the law enforcement officials in the government are bullies. As far as he is concerned the entire community is peopled with bullies. He wants to move away from Union City and failing that wants to go to school online. Sadly, I am inclined to agree with him!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Unfocused Writing

I just spent a few hours working on my next book. What do I have to show for it? A few paragraphs and a handful of notes scattered across the book.

The problem apparently is a lack of focus, brought on by frustration. Events in real life are feeding on my attention like a cancer in my brain. I want to scream! I want to cry! Most of all I want to do something that  I’ve only ever done twice in my life. I WANT TO HIT SOMEONE!!!!!

The truly funny thing is that I’m writing a book on living a Christian life and improving your “Walk With God”. Not only that, I’m supposed to be writing about forgiveness. I wasted hours and wrote one paragraph before realizing that I was not in the right frame of mind to write on that topic. So I switched to the topic of study where I made slightly better progress. I then made a few quick notes about things I want to cover in the book. A wasted effort some may say.

Lately, I’ve been letting the real world keep me from writing anything at all. The house needs cleaned so I’ll write later. So and so is late for our meeting so I’ll write later. I don’t feel motivated so I’ll write later. If I keep on this way I’ll never write anything, ever again.

So, was today’s meager output a waste of time and effort? I wrote something. I only wrote a few paragraphs (and this blog entry) but at least I wrote something. I call that a win. Now, I just need to keep on winning. No more letting the world keep me from sitting down to write. So what if I write a little or a lot at any particular sitting. No more distractions from the real world is my new mantra.

Now, if I can just convince myself to stay away from the internet when I should be writing I’ll be golden.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Happy Anniversary, My Sweet.

I just spent a wonderful day with my beautiful wife. We celebrated our first wedding anniversay and I love her more now than I did when we exchanged vows!