Sep 27, 2010

The Power of the Blue Medallion by Les Berman

The first three chapters just seemed to flow off my fingers. Putting in math problems that related to the story took a lot of time. I actually gave up for a year. I then woke up one morning and decided to write the story and worry about the math afterwards. From that point, I guess it took me approximately three months to complete. Many of my ideas came up in the middle of the night. Half the time I was too lazy to get up and jot down a few words so I wouldn’t forget. Unfortunately, I forgot.

I really didn’t have much difficulty in coming up with ideas that kept the adventure and intrigue. Of course some parts were more complex then others and took a little more thought. But all in all it went pretty smoothly and was a fun adventure for me.

The first five characters in the story I had in mind before starting the novel, I just began to put them all together when I sat down at the computer and typed away. I really had no set plan or direction in the development of the story. I believe the ending was the most difficult for me. I was very satisfied with its conclusion.

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Raised in Southern California, Les Berman earned his bachelor degree in Sociology with a minor in Math from Long Beach State University, and a Masters in Education from Pepperdine University. Currently retired from the ABC Unified School District, Les also volunteers his time coaching young track and field athletes for a private club in Long Beach California. Les has coached many International and Olympic Athletes over the past forty years, and has been selected as a United States International Coach four times throughout his career. The Power of the Blue Medallion , is the first book for this author.

You can find Les at www.novelwithmath.com

and www.thepowerofthebluemedallion.com

Sep 22, 2010

Mining my Heritage by Shobhan Bantwal

Back when I was growing up in a small town in Southwestern India in the 1950s-60s, creative writing was the last thing on my mind. In fact, outside of the required school and college essays, I had not written a single creative word. But when I took up writing at the late age of 50, I naturally turned to my own heritage for inspiration.

It was amazing to wake up one day and realize that perhaps my ho-hum life would actually be of interest to others. Having had a strict Hindu upbringing at home and a parochial school education under the watchful eye of Catholic nuns, an arranged marriage was the only kind of marriage I knew and expected. But all those elements added up to a life that was unusual to others.

There is so much fodder for story ideas in my own culture that I rarely have to look beyond it. Consequently my books are essentially "Bollywood in a Book"—emotional stories about women who are fiercely loyal to their men despite their authoritarian ways, and hot-button social issues like dowry, female-fetus abortion, and the infamous caste system.

Sex outside marriage is taboo in India, divorce is frowned upon, girls are considered burdens, boys are adored, and falling in love used to be an unknown concept. Recently the trend has changed and young men and women fall in love and marry outside their caste and manage to live happily enough. But the basic tenets of family life still remain the same in my culture, providing me with an endless permutations of story ideas.

In my latest novel, THE UNEXPECTED SON, my protagonist as a teenager falls in love with the wrong man, a man who is notorious for womanizing. He dumps her after using her. But that single mistake comes back to torment her 30 years later, when she has finally managed to get over him and make a life for herself in the United States. She has to reconcile with her past at the risk of losing her family.


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Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book,” romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of Indian culture. Born and raised in India and now an American citizen, Shobhan had an arranged marriage and writes about that topic and other controversial social topics unique to India. THE UNEXPECTED SON is her fourth book.

Shobhan’s articles and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications including The Writer magazine, Romantic Times, India Abroad, Little India, U.S. 1, India Currents, and New Woman. Her short stories have won honors and awards in fiction contests sponsored by Writer’s Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines. To read her stories, articles, favorite recipes, and more, go to her website: www.shobhanbantwal.com

Sep 21, 2010

By the Seat of my Pants by Shobhan Bantwal

I have tried numerous time to discipline myself, but after four published novels and two more on contract, self-discipline still eludes me. My attention span is shorter than that of a three-year-old, and my ability to focus on a single project is notoriously weak.

My writing life would be so much easier if I could only organize my thoughts and write an outline before venturing into writing a novel. Nonetheless instead of coming up with an outline I plunge directly into the murky waters of crafting that opening chapter. From that point on it is lonely little me, going off on a long journey with no map, no directions, and certainly no GPS.

One of the drawbacks of being a pantster is that when I go off on a tangent late into the story, it often changes the entire plot, forcing me to go backwards and fix a lot of events to tie into this new element. It is not only a lot of extra work but the chances of getting the facts or sequence of events wrong are very high—not good for an author.

However, despite my grumbling I must admit that being a "pantster" has its advantages: my characters take me to places I had never dreamt of going; they reveal secrets to me that add interesting twists to the story; they make me smile, and cry, and sometimes clench my teeth in frustration. They keep me on my toes.

In my latest novel, THE UNEXPECTED SON, my heroine is a stubborn woman, very bright, but lacking in street smarts. She led me to narrate her story in two parts: her teenage years in India in the 1970s, and then her life as a middle-aged woman living happily in the United States. As a naive young girl in college, she makes one huge mistake, then keeps her secret buried. But 30 years later that secret is revealed and suddenly her life turns upside down, leading to a bizarre chain of events.

My website, www.shobhanbantwal.com lists all my books, short stories and articles, contests, video trailers, reviews, excerpts, recipes, photos, charities of my choice, and contact information. My books are available at all major bookstores and online booksellers.


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Shobhan Bantwal calls her writing “Bollywood in a Book,” romantic, colorful, action-packed tales, rich with elements of Indian culture. Born and raised in India and now an American citizen, Shobhan had an arranged marriage and writes about that topic and other controversial social topics unique to India. THE UNEXPECTED SON is her fourth book.

Shobhan’s articles and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications including The Writer magazine, Romantic Times, India Abroad, Little India, U.S. 1, India Currents, and New Woman. Her short stories have won honors and awards in fiction contests sponsored by Writer’s Digest, New York Stories and New Woman magazines. To read her stories, articles, favorite recipes, and more, go to her website: www.shobhanbantwal.com

Sep 17, 2010

Jello, Lancelot, Friends, Art, Tennis, and My Gray Hoodie by Daisy Jordan

I absolutely love my writing space, tucked in a corner of my apartment in Denver. It’s where I sit late into the night, totally submerged in the world of my books. It’s one of my favorite times of day and one of my favorite places.



The first thing I love about it is the fantastic city and mountain view from my huge window. Next is my computer desk. I’ve had the same desk for years, and it holds everything I could possibly need.

My desktop wallpaper on my computer screen is a collage I made of pictures of Gordon Beckham, my favorite baseball player. Hanging above the window (see photo below) is a picture of Friends, my favorite TV show. The six Friends are sitting on a beam above New York City, a location from which I draw much inspiration.



Also of utmost importance, to the left of my desk, you will see four sheets of paper taped to the wall. These are my current brackets for the US Open tennis tournament. One is mine and one is my brother’s. We fill out brackets for every Grand Slam, and my interest in tennis comes out quite a bit in my latest book, Love Means Zero! Above the brackets and the desk are two paintings, one of La Rambla in Barcelona and one of Samana in the Dominican Republic. I love art, and I buy paintings from local artists wherever I travel.

To the right of my monitor, there is a red and green object hanging from the shelf. This is an angel my aunt and uncle gave me with a quote from James Michener: “I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” Behind that, on a pink piece of paper, I have another quote about writing that I like. Under my mousepad is a third. Also to the right of the monitor, on a shelf near the top of the desk, are a couple blue books and a notebook. These are my French books! I am currently re-studying French (I took it in high school and college), and I use some French in one of my upcoming novels.

On the back of my computer chair (which is really comfy!) is my gray hoodie. It is my favorite piece of clothing, and I love having it right there to throw on whenever needed.

Finally, at the bottom of the picture, you can see my cat Lancelot, who is lying on my laptop. Lancelot and my other cat, Jello, are frequently near me when I am writing, and they add a sense of serenity to the scene in the room. And of course, when I’m not writing in this room, I use my laptop!

All the things in my writing corner inspire me in some way, and I feel relaxed and happy when I sit down there. For me, that’s what helps produce good stories!

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Daisy Jordan is an obsessive tennis fan and wrote this book so she could live out her dream-job fantasy through Hilton. Before deciding to write a book about the tennis tour, she wrote six other books, including Everything Happens for a Reason…, the Spin the Bottle series, and All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire. Even before that, she grew up in Indiana watching tennis all summer every summer on TV, and even attended a few pro tournaments. She now lives in Denver and religiously fills out brackets for every Grand Slam with her brother Josh.

You can visit her website at DaisyJordan.com

Sep 16, 2010

Want to know what’s going to happen in my next book? Don’t ask me…because I don’t know either!

My novels are cliffhangers. They’re all about the same characters, and until I’m finished writing about those characters, I have every intention of keeping readers guessing about their lives. :) But it’s not just the readers who are guessing and wondering. It’s me too. When I start a book, I rarely know what the ending point will be. I may know how far chronologically I want to take it, but I have no idea how the characters’ lives and relationships will have evolved by that point. And I don’t always end the book where I thought I would chronologically. This may be because an idea comes along and I absolutely have to keep going, or because I come to a point where I’m not ready to make a decision about what happens next for one or more characters.

The Spin the Bottle series has four books, one for each year of high school. When I started writing what would become Really Good Friends, the first book in the series, I intended for all four years of high school to be covered in one book. When I got about fifty pages in on Word and was still smack-dab in the middle of freshman year, I realized there was no way that was going to happen. In All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire, I knew it would end in the middle of junior year of college, right before Everything Happens for a Reason… starts. (I had already written Everything Happens for a Reason….) I had this great idea for a crazy shock-ending that included a wedding, but as I kept writing, it was clear Lorylyn, the main character, wasn’t in the right place emotionally for that shock-ending. So I still wrote about a wedding, but the very last pages have another surprise, and readers are left as torn and undecided as Lorylyn and I were.

In Love Means Zero, I had no planned chronological end point. Early in the book, Hilton celebrates her friends Hillary and Dirk’s engagement party, but it’s not a major focus. However, as a year went by and the wedding drew near, I realized it would be a perfect ending point for a couple reasons. It would bring together people who needed to see each other, and it was the perfect setup for my next book, another one about Lorylyn. While things are completely unresolved in Hilton’s life at the end of Love Means Zero, the biggest stunner for most readers, especially those who have read previous books, will be what happens to Lorylyn in the second-to-last scene. And for those dying to know what happens with Hilton – my mom and friends are always asking me, “Who is Hilton gonna end up with?!” – all I can say right now is, I’m publishing two other books before the next one about Hilton, and even if I wanted to tell you who she’s going to end up with – which I never would – I can’t, because I have no idea. :)


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Daisy Jordan is an obsessive tennis fan and wrote this book so she could live out her dream-job fantasy through Hilton. Before deciding to write a book about the tennis tour, she wrote six other books, including Everything Happens for a Reason…, the Spin the Bottle series, and All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire. Even before that, she grew up in Indiana watching tennis all summer every summer on TV, and even attended a few pro tournaments. She now lives in Denver and religiously fills out brackets for every Grand Slam with her brother Josh.

You can visit her website at DaisyJordan.com