Monday, November 23, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Little Miss Somebody


Little Miss Somebody
By: Christy Lynn Abram

Cover Designer: Lori Follett at Wicked Book Covers

Genre: Coming of Age
Publisher: Gravity Imprint of Booktrope Publishing
Expected publication date: December 15, 2015

Fourteen-year-old Nikki's world is turned upside down when her mother makes an impulsive move to Missouri.  Having left everything she knew behind, Nikki is left to fend for herself from her mother's vicious cycle of abuse and abandonment while living at her grandmother's house amidst her mother's drug addicted siblings.
            Feeling unloved and more than ever like a burden, Nikki seeks to find a missing piece to the puzzle of her life - her father.  Along the way, she unravels more layers of family abuse and pain causing her to feel helpless.  But she won't give up.  Not yet.  Not Nikki.  Not until she finds what she is looking for.
            Will Nikki feel the love she so desperately needs?


About the author:
After enduring years of childhood abuse and struggling with depression and PTSD, Christy Lynn Abram embarked on a journey to self-healing using holistic wellness as her guide.
            Now, as a Wholistic Muse (guide to one's self) and author, she teaches others how to love themselves healthy.  Christy is trained in eight healing modalities, including: Reiki, EFT, reflexology, massage therapy, and a crystal healer, all of which aided in her discovery of how to heal herself naturally.  These life-changing skills also served as the foundation to enhancing her gift as an intuitive healer.
            She has been recognized for her knowledge of the chakra system (by best-selling author of the Chakra Bible, Patricia Mercier), gemstone healing, and energy medicine.  She also contributes to several online publications on the subject of holistic healing and offers individual coaching, e-courses, and workshops all designed to assist and encourage others on their journey toward a better, fuller life.  Christy also loves to use her gift of writing to help others.  In her book, Chakra Wellness: 7 Ways to Renew the Total, she dives into the seven chakra centers from a mind-body-soul perspective.  Readers learn how to discern key issues, heal imbalances, and maintain energetic barriers to eliminate stress and increase their overall well-being.
            In her latest release, Little Miss Somebody, Christy wears her heart on her sleeve and delivers a poignant tale of love and sacrifice.  To learn more about Christy and her mission, visit her website.
            Christy can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.
            You can read her latest interview via Indie Book Promo here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hyde 'N' Seek Editing Does Black Friday


Every year, around this time, I sit down to think about what has happened in my life over the past year - what needs to be changed, what needs to be added, and what I am most thankful for. 
            Like so many others in this world, the new year brings for me resolutions and goals, not just in my personal life, but in my business life as well.
            This year a lot of changes were made - hard decisions and choices, but all necessary - and I found out, in my darkest times, that I can succeed, and that I can make my life better.  The end of this year has begun a new life for me, and my look at my future is different than it has been in a very long time.

Two of my biggest things that I want to work towards in 2016 are:

1) Making The Gal in the Blue Mask a "household name."  Maybe not to that extreme, but I would like to get out there a little bit more, and build it beyond just more book reviews.
            I want to create more relationships with authors that I haven't met yet, and build my relationships with authors that I know.  I want to do a lot more interviews, and showcase several more short stories (like I did for Halloween this year).  I have big plans and you'll be hearing more about those after the beginning of the year.

2) Grow Hyde 'N' Seek Editing.  This year has been a good year for my editing business, and I've had the pleasure of working with several authors and to be part of some great projects.  I really would like to add some more authors to my client list, and for a very selfish reason: I enjoy doing it and editing brings me a happiness that I can't even explain in words.
            This is how I think about the whole thing: I want to be part of the team that helps make your book the best it can be.  I want to help you organize your thoughts, tell your story, and share it with your readers, all while helping you to keep your voice.  Whether I come in at the end, after you've edited it several times and only need to get a second opinion, or come in at the beginning, either while you're writing your story or right after, my job is the same.  And I do it because I love doing it, and because I want to help authors.  I have a natural eye for it, and have been told several times that I catch things others miss.  I go above and beyond because that's how I believe we should be in life.

I've been putting a lot of thought into this and, as a way of celebrating the end of 2015 - as a way to say thank you to all the authors who have believed in me, and an encouragement for everyone holding on to a manuscript to accomplish their GOALS and their DREAMS - I am giving 15% off of every editing project until midnight New Year's Eve.

"Darn, but I don't have my manuscript completed yet.  Shucks!  What am I going to do?"

Good question.  The editing project does not have to be completed by that date.  Heck, it doesn't even have to be started by that date.  What needs to be completed is the contract signing and payment.  So... even if your book isn't going to be ready for me until February or after, you can get all of this taken care of before the end of the year, get the project completion dates you are looking for, get your 15% discount, AND be able to use it on your taxes in April.

I mentioned earlier the things I am thankful for.  Hyde 'N' Seek Editing is one of those things.  Since this is the month of Thanksgiving, a time when we were are supposed to remember and celebrate those things, I decided to do a "Black Friday Sale" of my own.

From NOW until midnight THANKSGIVING, instead of charging $0.009 a word, I will be charging $0.006 a word.  Think about it like this:  Your manuscript is 100,000 words.  When you bring this to me, it would cost you $900 (which is actually quite good).  BUT - until midnight Thanksgiving Day, that 100,000 manuscript edit will be $600.  That's a savings of $300!!

Send me an email or contact me on Facebook (Hyde 'N' Seek's FB Page) and we can discuss your project further.

Remember:
15% off all editing projects until the end of 2015
or, for those of y'all that want to save a bunch of money,
$0.006 a word until midnight Thanksgiving Day!

AMONG THE STACKS: Werner Stejskal


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Werner.  Welcome to The Gal.  I really appreciate you joining us here today.  I've had the pleasure of reading several of your children's stories and it's nice to be able to learn more about the man behind the books.
            Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Werner Stejskal:
Born in Vienna, Austria, I am now living in the paradise of Perth, Australia with my wife, two married children and three grandchildren.  I worked in the printing industry for many years and later for the United Nations in Vienna.  Now retired, after a full and eventful life, I began to write children's stories.  I found illustrators through Upwork, narrated them myself for YouTube, and finally took the next step by publishing ebooks. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things that most people don't know about you?

Werner Stejskal:
I can't even tell you one thing.  As a story teller, I tell everybody everything about myself, too!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Werner Stejskal:
Absolutely no idea.  I started reading in first class and never stopped.  I finished all books in the library for my age within one year.  I have read over 5,000 books by now and stopped counting a long time ago.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Werner Stejskal:
I am a third way through the mammoth task of reading Nora Roberts.  She is the most amazing author around.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Werner Stejskal:
Our daughter has a black cat.  I like cats.  This must have been an influence to the inspiration I was given one sleepless night after a West to East flight from Europe three years ago.  I suddenly had the idea of Oliver & Jumpy laid out before me and began writing the next morning.  I wrote 60 stories within two months.  The illustrations of all the stories will finalize this year.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Werner Stejskal:
I do everything with my iPad.  It used to be on my lap until I was made aware of the health issues.  Now I try to keep it as far away as possible.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Werner Stejskal:
Using the iPad, my typing skills reduced to one finger.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Werner Stejskal:
As mentioned before, the initial idea was given to me in a sleepless night.  Most of my story ideas came to me while swimming leisurely in the public pool.  I simply let my thoughts wander and grabbed hold of interesting story concepts.  It was helpful to go through all the common children's book scenarios as well.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Werner Stejskal:
Walt Disney for my series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What inspires you the most?

Werner Stejskal:
Silliness, not without reason, is the country in my series called Sillandia. 

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Werner Stejskal:
English.  It is not my mother tongue.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Werner Stejskal:
Anything with a good laugh and stories kids can relate to and learn a lesson from.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take way from your story.

Werner Stejskal:
The elaborate illustrations would already interest very small children with their mom explaining the stories.  Early readers would benefit from the unusual language for picture books, while many adults like the quality of this sometimes controversial series.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Werner Stejskal:
Oliver, of course!

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

Werner Stejskal:
I like children's stories.  I am simply not good enough to write novels.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating this book?

Werner Stejskal:
I have learned such a lot about the whole ebook industry.  I am not only writing, but also producing the series.  In this way I have become familiar with employing illustrators, editors, reviewers, etc.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Werner Stejskal:
I started with the intention to create something very different to the usual kiddy books.  Oliver & Jumpy was high quality illustrations unlike so many picture books today.  I am using adult language, because I believe kids should not waste their time with being talked down to in little people lingo.  I also believe we underestimate small children.  Adult issues are readily understood if explained properly.  Some of the issues in my stories can be controversial, but most reviewers are fully supportive.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Werner Stejskal:
I don't hide anything away, but certainly have projects for the distant future.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Werner Stejskal:
The future will bring print-on-demand for all books.  And the final goal will be to develop a TV series of the 20 books and 60 stories.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by today, Werner. :)
            One more thing before you go: Where can we find you?

Werner Stejskal:
You can find a free introduction booklet
and also a free full-size book on Amazon.


About the author:
Born in Vienna, Austria, I am now living in the paradise of Perth, Australia with my wife, two married children and three grandchildren.  I worked many years in the printing industry and later for the United Nations in Vienna.  My wife had been a pen-friend, whom I visited in Hong Kong and finally got married to.  After an eventful life, finally retired, I began to write children's stories, had them illustrated through Odesk, narrated them myself for YouTube and finally published the ebooks on most platforms.  I will publish 17 books with three stories each in English, before translating into several other languages.  My dream is to see "Oliver & Jumpy" animated as a TV series.

About the books:

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

1: Molly the Mole - Oliver has an accident and makes a friend.
2: Saving Ducky - Jumpy saves a duckling from the eagle.
3: Jumpy's Secret - Oliver gets a big surprise.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

4: Monkey Island - Joey is being kidnapped.
5: Fairy Castle - The fairy queen invites our friends.
6: Treasure Hunt - A secret treasure map is inviting to a memorable hike.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

7: Winterland - Fun in the snow...
8: Baby Oliver - Yes, Oliver has been a baby, too!
9: Egging - Watch what hatches from a big egg.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

10: Unhappy Dog - The friends make a dog very happy.
11: Kite High - Do you like to fly high in the air?
12: Butterfly Trouble - Jumpy frees many butterflies.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

13: Baby Sitting - Oliver has problems with babysitting.
14: Good Deed Day - Oliver helps a fellow cat to become happy again.
15: Magic - Our team is getting magic lessons.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

16: Who Am I? - Oliver loses his memory.
17: Up the Tree - Oliver explores a tall tree and meets many animals there.
18: Moon Crystal - Oliver and Jumpy are flying to the moon.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

19: Santa's Chocolate Factory - Naughty Joey is getting into mischief. 
20: Thriller - One of Oliver's friends is taking part in a singing contest.
21: April Volcano - April Fools' Day can be no joke.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

22: The Incredible Train Journey - The three friends are having a very adventurous train journey.
23: Hiccup - Do you ever suffer of hiccups?
24: Fishing - Oliver goes fishing with Joey.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

25: Olly the Owl - Olly is a very wise owl and helps Oliver to find his lost ring.
26: Desert Travel - Oliver's sister has new kittens, and he has to travel through the desert to see her.
27: Ghosts at Halloween - Oliver plays cards with ghosts.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

28: Letter in a Bottle - Joey wants to free a prisoner.
29: Oliver Meeting Jumpy - This is how Oliver first met Jumpy!
30: Enchanted Forest - Oliver and friends are fighting the witch.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

31: Crockery Party - Crockery and Cutlery cooks for Oliver.
32: Shark Frenzy - Oliver is almost getting eaten by a shark.
33: Small World - How fascinating can be the tiny world.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

34: How I Found My Top Hat - Oliver did not always have a top hat!
35: Oliver in the Circus - Oliver performs in the Circus.
36: Ship Wreck - Oliver and Jumpy are diving to a wreck.

These illustrated cat stories are all about Oliver & Jumpy, who are best of friends and experience many adventures together.  Oliver is an elegant black tomcat, who is full of himself.  As a matter of fact, he says: "I love myself!" quite often.  Naughty, isn't he?  But his best friend Jumpy, a kangaroo lady, is aware that it is only a front!  Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others.  The great thing is Jumpy's pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in!  He calls her his kangaroo taxi!  These little bedtime stories with their lovely illustrations are great for small kids.  A parent can read the text and tell the child in his own words.  These animal stories have sufficient text to keep early readers happy and provide some educational value.  Depending on your device, there is pop-up text (at Amazon) or audio available.  Several talented illustrators are essential to bring these children's stories to you in quick succession.  Love you all!  Meow!

37: Rescue in a Picture - What a way to travel!  Check this out!
38: Wet Cat - Oliver has a wet accident.
39: Down River - Dangerous boating on a wild river!

AMONG THE STACKS: Robert Eggleton


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Robert.  Welcome to The Gal.  It's a pleasure having you here today.
            Let's start out with something easy: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Robert Eggleton:
Hi, Meghan.  Thank you for the opportunity to tell your readers a little bit about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow.
            I was born in 1951, the oldest son of an impoverished family in West Virginia.  My alcoholic and occasionally abusive father had PTSD from WWII.  It was called shell shock back then.  He had night terrors and difficulty holding down a job.  My mom did the best she could, but somebody had to support my family, so I worked odd jobs until I got a minimum wage job when I was twelve.  I've made payments into America's Social Security fund for the next fifty-two years.
            In the 8th grade, I won the school's short story contest.  I began to dream of becoming a rich and famous author.  As it often does, life got in the way.  Between school and work, I was too exhausted to write any more stories.  I continued to work at various minimum wage jobs during high school and college.  Work, antiwar activities and school kept me too busy to write stories, so I wrote poems on scraps of paper.  One was published in the state's 1972 West Virginia Student Poetry Anthology.  Another was published in a local zine.  I graduated in 1973 with a degree in social work and received an MSW from West Virginia University in 1977.
            I worked in the field of children's services for the next forty years.  I supplanted my need to write fiction.  Instead, I wrote manuals, research, investigative, and statistical reports, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where I worked from 1983 through 1997.  In 2003, I became a children's psychotherapist at our local community mental health center.  It was an intensive program for kids with severe emotional disturbances, often caused by child abuse.
            One day at work in 2006, I met the real-life model for my fictional protagonist during a group psychotherapy session.  She sat a few seats away from me around a table used for written therapeutic exercises.  Lacy Dawn had been severely abused, but was so resilient that it was inspiring to everybody who met her.  She spoke of her dreams for the future - a loving family that would respect her both physically and emotionally.  The experience prompted me to finally pursue my own dreams to write fiction.
            So far, three short Lacy Dawn Adventures have been published in magazines.  My debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow, was released in 2012 by Dog Horn Publishing, a small traditional press located in Leeds.  In May 2015, I retired from my job as a children's psychotherapist so that I could concentrate on promoting and writing my fiction that introduces Lacy Dawn to the world.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Robert Eggleton:
I'm pretty much an open book, so to come up with five things that people don't know about me is a tough question.
  1. I occasionally read romance novels.
  2. My two front teeth are a bridge - the real ones were knocked out by a policeman when I was sixteen years old.
  3. I sometimes cry during sad movies.
  4. When I was eleven, I preached a sermon to a small fundamentalist Christian church congregation during which the members handled rattlesnakes.
  5. My favorite snack is radishes with salt, but I don't eat them in public.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Robert Eggleton:
Except for Bible stories, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the first commercial fiction that I remember reading.  Some elements of this story were incorporated into Rarity from the Hollow.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Robert Eggleton:
I recently finished reading Warrior Patient, an inspirational work about facing medical problems with courage - I guess that I'm the age when this topic is more relevant than before.  As a commitment to a Goodreads program, I read and wrote a review of a young adult murder mystery romance.  Let me just say that I struggled to finish it and I'm in "recovery."  I went to the shelves in my basement to look for Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins, but couldn't find it.  I need something really good to read, so I'll be watching your blog for a good fit to my reading interests.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why thank you, Robert.  I hope you've found something that caught your interest. :)
            What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Robert Eggleton:
I've already told you about winning the eighth grade short story competition with a story about a redneck semi truck driver who became so obsessed with the conflict between Jewish vs. Christian theology that he lost concentration on the road and caused a terrible accident.  That's when I began to dream of becoming an author.  I've started but never finished a zillion stories since then.  I've also told you about meeting Lacy Dawn that day in 2006 and how she inspired me to follow up on my dreams. Once I'd dedicated author proceeds from Rarity from the Hollow to child abuse prevention, that's what locked it in.  I couldn't quit now even if I sometimes feel like giving up.  I couldn't handle the guilt.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Robert Eggleton:
I've been minimally successful in writing anything but poetry anyplace but at home.  I've written poetry everyplace, including in bathroom stalls and on sheets of scrap paper.  But when it comes to writing stories, my main resource is my wife and she will only help me think through scenes when we're at home.  The internet for research and my desktop computer are also a home.  I've tried using my laptop various places, including in the woods, at the park, or on a lakeside... but it hasn't worked for me.
            I live in a small house in a low income neighborhood.  My computer is in the living room where there are distractions.  Similarly, I grew up in overcrowded and noisy housing projects full of occupants in a small apartment.  Rather than solitude and quiet that some writers need, I think that I've been conditioned to benefit from distractions.  They seem to increase my productivity.  Last night, for example there were several gunshots in my neighborhood.  I was writing and didn't miss a comma.  I waited until I'd finished the paragraph before I called 911 to report the incident.  Then I went straight back to the story, not having missed a beat.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Robert Eggleton:
I don't have any quirks when I write, but unfortunately for my health, I chain smoke cigarettes and drink way too much coffee and soda when I'm writing.  I don't smoke much and rarely drink soda unless I am writing.  Also, I can't sleep if I have an unresolved scene, not that the scene has to be a final draft, but I can't leave it unresolved or if I get insomnia.  I've gotten out of bed to achieve a semblance of closure in a scene so that I could get some sleep.  Maybe that is a quirk.  What do you think?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Robert Eggleton:
The ideas for my stories come from real-life experiences.  A great deal of Rarity from the Hollow is exaggerated realism and based on my life, both personal and professional.  I've been a professional social worker for decades.  I've met thousands of people from all walks of life.  I fictionalize and manipulate the attributes of people that I've met to create characters in my stories.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Robert Eggleton:
I'm not sure that you have enough bandwidth for me to make a complete list of inspirations and favourites, so here's a few.  Ferlinghetti, the poet of the Beat Generation, showed me how to enjoy my anger about political and societal issues.  Similarly, Vonnegut's anger in Breakfast of Champions helped me stay strong as a children's advocate and as a writer, and how to experiment with my writing style outside of commonly accepted structures and formats.  Nora Roberts knows how to get me in a romantic mood.  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Harry Potter series reinforced my faith in the potential of adolescent morality and the future of the world.  Watership Down by Richard Adams was such a sweet adventure that some of this element just is a necessary ingredient of even the scariest, saddest, or most erotic story.  The versatility in cross-genre and the use of humour by Bradbury had to have been a subliminal inspiration, especially now that I think about it.  Dean Koontz has been masterful.  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by D. Adams and Another Roadside Attraction by Robbins pushed me into the wilder side of writing regardless of censorship, as did the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics.  And Stephen King's use of everyday horror convinced me that alarming scenes can be created by using almost anything as a prop.  Piers Anthony sure knew how to write a goofy pun and has always gotten me to giggle.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What inspires you the most?

Robert Eggleton:
For me, action inspires more action.  I'm not a big fan of contemplation or procrastination.  This is true even with daily chores, such as house cleaning.  If I will myself to vacuum, for example, by the time I'm finished I'm in the mood to clean the commode.  If I wait for the inspiration to strike me, nothing gets done and willpower becomes more elusive.  I have a strong interest in social causes, such as redistribution of wealth, health care, economic development, children's rights, GLBTQ rights, and coupled with a general sense of fair play probably instilled by my mother.  These and other similar causes prompt me to take some kind of action, something behavioral, which becomes the inspiration for taking the next step.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Robert Eggleton:
Writing comes easy for me.  Real life, such as paying the bills, is much more challenging.  My biggest challenge is to not write so that I have time to take care of practical necessities, such as getting the car in shape to pass inspection, stopping the leak in the roof, planting the garden, etc.  The best sentence structure accomplishable will not put food on the table for the vast majority of great writers.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Robert Eggleton:
For me, a good story is one that delivers more than temporary escapism from life's struggles.  It lingers with an emotional charge depending on the genre long after the last page.  For example, if I read a good romance story, I will have wonderful dreams of my love for days, maybe years after I've finished the story.  A very goo story has the subliminal ability to facilitate the reader's resolution of real life issues.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your book, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your story.

Robert Eggleton:
I don't want to spoil anything for its readers.  Rarity from the Hollow is full of contrasts: harsh reality amplifies outrageous fantasy, bitterness blends into acceptance and empowerment, tragedy inspires comedy, and a biography of a victim becomes a science fiction story.  It does not fit neatly into a genre, such as romance, horror or even speculative fiction.
            This novel was written for an adult audience, but does not have graphic sex scenes, a lot of violence or any of the other similar content that one might assume to be attributable to an Adults Only classification.  It is sweet but frank and honest with no holds barred.  It addresses the complexities of real life, but presents sensitive topics that might trigger emotional distress with comic relief.  My intent was for readers to enjoy the experiences that I created with everyday words and colloquialism, but not to gloss over realism in the way that some YA titles accomplish.
            In a nutshell, Rarity from the Hollow is about a little girl who learns to be the Savior of the Universe with the help of her family and friends.  It's up to readers to decide which scenes are dissociative as a result of Lacy Dawn's traumas and which scenes are pure fantasy and science fiction.    I hope that readers take away the sense that action empowers one to overcome any real or imagined tragedy.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Robert Eggleton:
Of course, I have a love/hate relationship with all the characters that I've created, including the ones that are not yet in print, and these relationships, just like in real life, such as the relationships between a wife and a husband within a marriage, is in a constant state of flux.  Today, I like Faith the best.  She is a metaphor of the role of religion within modern social structures of industrialized nations.  She was the star in a short story, "Stainless Steel," and plays a host in Rarity from the Hollow: Faith Is Not Dead.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

Robert Eggleton:
I selected the SF/F backdrop for this story because it was the best fit by process of elimination.  The novel also has elements of horror, mystery, romance, self-help, and thriller.  It is not a good example of the historical or western genres, although many of the social issues addressed, such s child maltreatment and sexism, have been present throughout history, including in the Wild West.
            In today's reality, the systems in place to help maltreated children are woefully inadequate.  I felt that the literary, biographical, nonfiction genres wouldn't work because the story would have been so depressing that only the most determined would have finished it.
            I felt that the story had to be hopeful.  I wanted it to inspire survivors of child maltreatment toward competitiveness within our existing economic structures, instead of folks using past victimization as an excuse for inactivity.  I didn't think that anybody would bite on the theme of a knight on a white stallion galloping off a hillside to swoop victims into safety, like in the traditional romance genre.  That almost never actually happens in real life, so that genre was too unrealistic as the primary.  There was already enough horror in the story, so that genre was out too.  What could be more horrific than child abuse?
            The protagonist and her traumatized teammates needed fantastical elements to achieve empowerment.  But, as in life, one cannot overcome barriers to the pursuit of happiness by simply imagining them away.  That's where the science fiction came into play.  It provided a power source.  I tied the science fiction to Capitalism because in today's reality it will take significant financial investment by benefactors to significantly improve the welfare of children in the world.  Our governments are unlikely to do so in the near future because of the politics.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating this book?

Robert Eggleton:
My most prominent finding from creating Rarity from the Hollow is that writing is the easiest part of creating a book.  I belong to a local writers' critique group.  Some meetings I feel like telling other members that angst over this or that content is using up their time and energies to build a platform to market.  A million books are now created each year in America.  In my opinion, very few of them are worth the paper that they are no longer printed upon, including the best sellers.  The same criticism could be made about Rarity from the Hollow, so I'm not trying to say that my book is any better than any other.  Virtually every famous author has been subjected to harsh critical comment, including Shakespeare.  I've learned that the most accomplished manuscript stored under a bed until the author dies just becomes part of the trash pile outside of the author's residence if not successfully marketed, and that there are so many ethical dilemmas associated with marketing, from self-published to conglomerate presses, that nothing comes easy.  Writing a great novel is the easy part.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Robert Eggleton:
I wasn't aware that there is something different about my stories until after I began to seriously try to market Rarity from the Hollow.  Recently, I've discovered a major controversy about whether readers will buy books other than those written for pure escapism.  I belong to a large online writers group whose main focus is to debate over this singular issue.  Maybe I've been living in the past - the days of Vonnegut and predecessors within the social science fiction subgenre.  Maybe I didn't realize the impact that Harry Potter had on literature.  Maybe I was in oblivion as I hauled tons of romance novels to my now deceased mother-in-law.  I now realize that it's not just kids who are reading YA novels, and that romance novels have taken over the marketplace, including consumption within all age groupings of both genders.  Ursula K. Le Guin better live to be five hundred years is my closing remark on this question.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Robert Eggleton:
Given health, my productivity with respect writing more Lacy Dawn Adventures and other works in all genres depends on whether I will have to go back to work in order to pay my bills, if anybody will hire someone in a state with fifty percent unemployment who is old enough to retire.  I have a short story, a satirical essay and a poem pending acceptance or rejection letters from publishers.  The next novel, Ivy, is almost ready to send to the publisher for editing.  All that I can promise for certain, as I've done all my life, is that I will continue to work hard.  The rest will be up to higher powers, both Earthly and otherwise, and is beyond my control.  One of those powers is you.  Rarity from the Hollow is in need of honest book reviews by readers on Amazon and Goodreads.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?

Robert Eggleton:
I welcome contacts about Rarity from the Hollow.  People can reach me at: my websitemy Facebook, and on Twitter.


About the author:
Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years.  He is best known for his investigative reports about children's programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next - never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency.  Today, he is a recently retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health care center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns.  Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction.  Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children's Home Society of West Virginia.  Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children that he met when delivering group therapy services.  The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

About the book:
Lacy Dawn is a little girl who lives in a magical forest where all the trees love her and she has a space alien friend who adores her and wants to make her queen of the universe.  What's more, all the boys admire her for her beauty and brains.  Mommy is very beautiful and Daddy is very smart, and Daddy's boss loves them all.
            Except.
            Lacy Dawn, the eleven year old protagonist, perches precariously between the psychosis of childhood and the multiple neuroses of adolescence, buffeted by powerful gusts of budding sexuality and infused with a yearning to escape the grim and brutal life of a rural Appalachian existence.  In this world, Daddy is a drunk with severe PTSD, and Mommy is an insecure wraith.  The boss is a dodgy lecher, not above leering at the flat chest of an eleven-year-old girl.
            Yes, all in one book.
            It is a children's story for adults with a happily ever after ending.