Thursday, January 30, 2014
From Australia With Love Blog Hop: L.J. Clarkson
Australian writers rock. We know it, and we love them. But it’s not always easy to discover the Australian talent that is right under our noses.
From Australia With Love Blog Hop introduces you to 18 Aussie authors across a variety of categories and genres. Each author is hosting three of their fellow blog hop participants between now and Valentine’s Day to let you find out more about them. So follow them on twitter, like their Facebook page and visit their blogs during the blog hop period to discover more great Australian writers.
And to show how much these Aussie authors love their readers, they’ve donated some great prizes for you to win!
Today we have MG Aussie writer L.J. Clarkson stopping by.
1) What drew you to write Middle Grade books?
It was a combination of things. At work I felt forced to act serious and not be myself. Working to deadlines built pressure and stress, so writing provided a real release. Writing for children allows me to bring out my inner child, be a big kid again and laugh at all my own jokes. On the opposite side, reading children’s books continually amazes me in terms of fantastical worlds, imagination and story lines. Nothing is impossible. The imagination truly is limitless.
2) What are the key elements to make an entertaining MG book?
Characters, pace and plot are central to MG stories. If characters aren’t likable, they don’t have interests, dislikes, if they aren’t flawed in some way, or they lack a particular strength, then the reader can’t identify and relate with them. Conflict, pace and tension are also important because every children’s authors battles kids’ short attention spans, and has to keep things moving and exciting to keep children reading.
3) Tell us a bit about your characters and how you came up with them?
Being a quirky person, I create characters with individual traits, inspired by friends, family, neighbours and even myself. For example, Esme is a more extreme version of me, based on my career as an Environmental Engineer, testing contaminated land and water. While I grow my own food and use natural cleaning products, Esme is the ultimate greenie, saving Agartha from the destruction of mining, and examining people’s plants and lecturing them about plant health (a bit like my Dad)!
On the other hand, Boldrick the poor, conflicted man/cat is modeled on my neighbour’s daughter, whom I used to catch out in some white lies. As a result, Boldrick became the cursed man, trapped in a cat’s body for two hundred years, unable to lie, lest his whiskers wriggle. Poor Boldrick; I throw him in situations where this really challenges him.
4) Which author(s) inspire you?
I’m a big fan of witty writing and deliciously evil characters like those in Eion Coifers, Artemis Fowl series and Aussie author, Kathryn Deans Shimmer series. My dream is to write as well as them.
5) How do you get over writer's block?
Funny you ask, because I’ve been trialing two new tricks lately! One is to do a series of writing sprints with a friend, where we just let the words flow and don’t stop to think for 20 minutes. I usually get around 800 or more words in 3 sprints.
The other trick, homework from a hypnotist I visited two months ago, is based on Walt Disney’s creative process. It combats the clashing of two distinct writing roles: the creative (the imaginative writer who creates the story), or the critic (the one who edits, revises and refines the story). My problem was that I was playing both roles at the same time, and the critic was blocking my flow. So now when I sit down to write, I have to be the creative only, and it’s a lot harder to master, since I’ve written as the creative/critic for 4 years!
6) What projects are you working on that you're excited about?
My list of projects keeps growing! I’m currently writing a new children’s fantasy called Heaven and Hound, about a teenage boy with a childhood fear of dogs, employed to train hellhounds and help track down his employer’s Pop. I will be submitting it for assessment for my Masters in Creative Writing subject.
I’m also working on Indicated-a site providing all the help and resources an indie or small press author needs. It features book promotion guides, a system to help authors get more reviews etc, and a database of where to find promotional resources like interviews, guest posts, book review bloggers and more. I’m always finding more resources and adding them!
LJ ‘fibber’ Clarkson tells everyone she gave up her Environmental Engineering career to study a Creative Writing Degree and pursue her writing dreams. But that's not entirely true. Ten percent of the time she sleeps in. Playing spider solitaire consumes 5% (bad, bad habit). Running Indicated, a promotional site for authors steals another 18.75%. In her remaining waking hours, she writes, laughs at her own jokes, reads and falls asleep whenever her boyfriend reels off geeky computer lingo (zzzzzz). If she were a Mastermind, she’d uninvent early mornings, grammar, broccoli, cleaning and her dog’s fussy eating habits.
You can find out more at www.mastermindacademy.net or
The Silver Strand blurb:
Ever since twelve year old Isabelle Tresdon’s silver strand of hair sprouted, it’s been nothing but trouble: bleeding pink dust and sparking like a firecracker. Refusing to be known as the girl with the freaky, grandma hair, she wishes it never grew and the hair withers and tarnishes.
The only problem is, the strand is Isabelle's source of magic, and she can transform particles of energy into matter. It's also her ticket into Mastermind Academy, a secret school inside the earth’s core. Five days remain before the strand drains her magic and life, forcing Isabelle to enter into a deal with two trickster Masterminds to save it. But what she doesn't count on is that there is more at stake than just her life.
The Silver Strand, a MG Fantasy Adventure for 9-12 year olds, is book 1 in the Mastermind Academy Series.
In honour of Australia Day, I’ve brought out the cane toad-despised by most Aussies, but you will fall in love with mine!
The toad puffed out his chest, emphasizing the yellow and brown streaks across it. “I’m Mozzy. Named after my favorite food, mosquitoes.” He shoved his webbed hand into hers and shook it.
“I’m Isa....” She couldn’t use her real name. Sounded too human. “I’m Warterella. Named after all my warts.” She flashed her warty back.
“Strange name.” Mozzy rubbed his chin. “Sounds like one of those fancy names they use in the city.” Mouth parted, he stretched out his neck to admire her back, pulling loose skin folds tighter.
Every time she shifted her back away from him, he’d shuffle over to inspect it. She sighed and let him study her.
“Has anyone ever told you your warts are stunning?” he said.
The thought of anyone finding warts attractive made Isabelle shudder. Unsure how to respond, for she’d never been told that before and hoped to never again, Isabelle shifted from foot to foot. “Um, never.”
“Really?” That brought a shy smile to his face.
She bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from laughing.
“Uh, that’s not to say that you don’t have lovely mustard-colored eyes.” He stuttered on the words. “I just think every single wart tells me something different about toad’s character.”
Isabelle looked at him as if he were loopy. Bats squawked in the tree above, seeming to agree with her.
He pressed on a wart on her shoulder. “This one here tells me you feel let down by a close friend. Is that true?”
She stared at the protruding fern roots and nodded. Bianca couldn’t stop all the people rushing to watch Isabelle’s hair, as if she was a freak at a sideshow. She bet her friend had only called her tonight because she felt sorry for Isabelle. Coughing back a whimper in her throat, she focused on the frog chorus in the background.
Sharon M. Johnston is an author and public relations specialist who lives in sunny Queensland, Australia. She has been a Pitch Madness host for the past few years, and is also a Pitch Wars mentor. Her New Adult Sci Fi Romance, DIVIDED: An Open Heart Novel Book 1, is out now with City Owl Press.
14th -- Jennifer Galasso
16th -- Chris Bedell
22nd -- Rosanne Rivers
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