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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Giveaway & Interview with Emlyn Chand - Farsighted

Welcome to BK Walker Books Etc. Emlyn. I'm so pleased to have you here taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today.

Emlyn is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. She is also offering one lucky commenter from her entire tour to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card, YAY! Who couldn't use some new books or gadgets?

Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

BK:  Please tell us a little bit about your current release...
EC:  Farsighted tells the story of Alex Kosmitoras. Here’s my mini teaser:  Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t.  When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider.

BK:  What inspired this particular novel/book?
EC:  Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born. I didn’t want him to be alone in his psychic subculture, so I found other characters with other powers to keep him company. Thank God for my poor fashion sense.
BK: Sounds fascinating!

BK:  When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
EC:  I was born with a fountain pen grasped firmly in my left hand, at least that’s what my Twitter bio says. But seriously, I do believe writers are born into the craft—we haven’t got much choice, but it’s a great calling to have. As a child, I always had a story to tell. I also loved illustrating my own books and comics. I first became a writer writer when I began doing a book review column for the local paper. That taught me the importance of deadlines and letting the words flow out even when I had no idea what direction they’d take me in.

BK:  How do you keep your writing different from all the others that write in this particular genre?
EC: One thing I hear from readers quite a bit is that the paranormal seems normal in Farsighted. They don’t question the existence of the powers, and it doesn’t seem out there like some other books of the genre do. That was important to me. I wanted my story to be run by the characters, not the fantastic elements. This is a story about Alex, not about a blind psychic.

BK:  What was the hardest thing about writing this story?
EC:  The hardest part was getting started! I spent about three months trying to talk myself out of writing Farsighted. It’s too ambitious, my inner critic pointed out. You’ll never get it done, not in the way it deserves to be done, it pressed. But there was another part of me that couldn’t resist; I knew I had to at least try before giving up. So glad I decided to be an optimist for a change!
BK: The inner critic can sometimes be the worst. Glad you won out on that :).

BK:  What character was your favorite to write for in this story? Why?
EC:  Shapri. She is the kind of the person I wish I could have been back in high school. She’s strong, always true to herself, and won’t let anyone disrespect her. Sure, she has fears, but we all do. Shapri is the kind of girl I would love to be friends with. You know she’ll always go to bat for you when you’re too tired to step up to the plate. As for more romance brewing, you can count on it.

BK:  Which was your favorite scene to write?
EC:  Definitely, definitely the big show-down scene at the end. I can’t say more, or it’ll give the story away!

BK:  Will this become a series? If so, what inspired it to be a series?
EC:  Yes. It’s a 5-book series. There was just too much story to be told and too many great characters to explore. Plus YA series are a ton of fun!

BK:  Now for a little fun, and into your everyday life, What is a day in your life like?
EC:  Really, my day is quite simple. Wake up (usually anywhere from 2 AM to 6 AM depending on how much I need to get done). Work until 7 PM. Eat dinner with my husband. Either watch television or read a book until I fall asleep. Repeat on loop. When I’m actively writing (as opposed to editing or marketing my work), I like to write at least 1 1/2 hours first thing in the morning. I go to Biggby or Panera to get it done. The rest is devoted to my burgeoning business, Novel Publicity.

Hey, didn’t somebody important say, “far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing?” I don’t mind having to give-up the other parts of my life to pursue my work, because I love it. I know I’ll eventually need to achieve a better balance, but for now, I’m content to push the pedal to the metal.

BK:  What do you like to do when you're not writing?
EC:  I like to watch Glee and eat Taco Bell. I also run a 400-member book club that reads the classics.
BK: Mmmm. Love those stop sign tacos from TB. Book club? You are a busy woman :).

BK:  What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn about you?
EC:  Hmm... Well, up until quite recently, I was a shy and socially awkward person. I felt very nervous participating in social interactions and was constantly sticking my foot in my mouth and giving it a good chew. At some point, I adopted the policy fake it until you make it and forced myself into extraversion. Novel Publicity has really brought me out of my shell. I had to get over my social anxiety if I wanted my business to take off, so I did, and it did.
BK: YAY YOU! I find that happens with a lot of writers. They are shy until the marketing begins, including myself lol.

BK:  What do you like to read? Who is your favorite author?
EC:  I LOVE YA—I read it, write it, love it! JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and JD Salinger are classic faves. I’m currently reading Matched by Ally Condie and am absolutely loving it. Next up is the Tiger series by Colleen Houck, another set of books I anticipate greatly enjoying.

BK:  Please tell us one piece of advice you were given as an author that you carry with you when you write?
EC:  Always believe in your work while always trying to make it better :-D

BK:  What is one piece of advice you can give to aspiring writers/authors?
EC:  My advice is this:  Have fun with your writing. Don’t put pressure on yourself or your story and don’t try to fit either into some type of mold. Not every work HAS to be published, but every work will teach you something, and it will make you a better writer. Find the joy in writing, and you won’t go wrong.

BK:  What are you currently working on?
EC:  Farsighted is a 5-book series. Each book will be told from a different character’s point-of-view, so in book #2, we’ll actually be able to see what Grandon looks like! Next up is Open Heart. I hope to have that ready by the middle of next year.

BK:  Where can readers connect with you?
EC:  Here’s my link-laden bio: Emlyn Chand is the president of Novel Publicity and a YA author. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her first novel Farsighted released in late 2011 and is of the YA genre. Learn more about Emlyn at www.emlynchand.com or by connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or GoodReads.
Author Website: www.emlynchand.com
Novel Publicity: www.novelpublicity.com
SUPER AWESOME BOOK TRAILER: http://youtu.be/tZjskE5zjzM

Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he's blind. Just when he thinks he'll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.

Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.

Excerpt: This is from chapter 3. I call it “fight.”

I sulk into school the next day, irritated about the way my brain’s been malfunctioning lately and embarrassed by how I’ve been around Simmi. The last thing I need is more problems. I head into first period attempting to disappear. No such luck.

“You better watch yourself, Kosmitoras,” Brady Evans growls. I wasn’t even aware he had entered the class, but now here he is, uncomfortably close to my desk.

I don’t say anything. I don’t want to encourage him. Even the slightest word taken out of context might set him off. The bell rings, but the teacher hasn’t come in yet. The other students are milling about, whispering excitedly.

“You’re lucky you’re a cripple, freak, or I’d—” Brady says. Why is he still here? I didn’t do anything to make him angry. Some of the students start taunting Brady, telling him to throw a punch at me. Brady laughs; clearly he loves the attention.

After a moment, the whispering stops. Brady’s moved away from my desk so fast I hardly even realized it. I decide to let the whole thing go, but then footsteps come toward me again, carrying with them the scents of Axe deodorant spray and dried sweat. Brady seems intent on a confrontation. Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint him.

Slyly, I nudge the end of my cane across my seat and into the aisle. Not sticking out far enough to be noticed but still far enough to get in the way.

Thud! Brady trips and falls headlong down the aisle.

Ha, always wanted to do that. Sometimes blindness comes in handy. No one would ever guess this wasn’t an accident.

“You better watch yourself, Kosmitoras,” Brady growls, back on his feet now.

“You better watch yourself, Evans,” I hiss back, drawing out the S at the end of Evans. I’m a venomous cobra, ready to spring at the slightest hint of danger.

The bell rings. Wait didn’t the bell already ring? Haven’t I been here before?

The other students in the class are milling about, whispering excitedly.

“You’re lucky you’re a cripple, freak, or I’d—” Brady says.

“Or what?” I challenge, rising to my feet while wrapping my knuckles around the handle of my cane and solidifying my grip. I’ve had enough, and besides, what have I got to lose by standing up to him? If anything, a fight with Brady could improve my social standing.

The whispering grows louder. Some of the students start taunting Brady, telling him to throw a punch at me.
Brady laughs arrogantly, “or I’d make you sorry.” He cracks his knuckles as if his words weren’t clear enough.

“I’m not a cripple, but I am going to make you sorry,” I shout, bringing the end of my cane down hard on Brady’s toes.

I can tell it hurt, but Brady doesn’t make any noise to indicate it. He’s too much of a tough guy. Instead, he punches me in the stomach.

I don’t feel anything except a pulsing pain in my middle. And anger, a lot of anger. I raise my cane again and thwack Brady higher up—his face, his neck, I don’t care as long as it hurts.
This time he cries out in pain.

Now, I’m laughing. This is what he deserves, since he just couldn’t leave me alone.
The teacher comes into the classroom. The other students grow quiet, waiting to find out what she’ll do.
Brady punches me in the nose. There’s a crack as he makes contact with the bone. Blood spurts out from my nostrils and flows into my mouth—guess I’ve gotten my daily dose of iron now. I almost throw up, but before I can, the teacher is pulling me and Brady out of the classroom by the collars of our shirts and walking us down the hall toward the principal’s office.


Follow Emlyn's tour for a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. One lucky commenter will be randomly drawn at the end of her tour and maybe that will be you. You can access her tour schedule HERE. To enter, just leave a comment with your email address. Good luck.

Thank you so much for stopping in Emlyn. It truly has been a pleasure. I wish you much success in the future and can't wait to learn even more about you :).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Rise and Fall of a Track Star by Omegia Keeys - Review

From Pan Am Game bronze medal winner to All American, Omegia Keeys was once touted in Track Magazine as one destined for greatness, but walked away from it all. Rise and Fall of a Track Star is Omegia’s firsthand account leading her to the breaking point. For years Omegia held on to the shame of a dirty little secret, one too common in the African American Community. 

Through her memoirs Omegia takes you on a journey through her childhood onto her adult years. Her struggles as a teenage mother is only a checkmark on the list of life altering experiences, ones she hopes young girls and woman can learn from. 

Omegia has one goal with her story, to educate, help others, and to release the long carried shame. 

My Review:

Rise and Fall of a Track Star by Omegia Keeys was definitely not what I was expecting. This title will have you feeling so many emotions as you flip through the pages. I give her credit for putting it all out there like she did. 

There were times I was angry at her mother, then at her friends, because really? How could friends do that to you? In the end though, I was left with a strong respect for Omegia and her Mother, feeling sorry for all this woman and child had to endure yet amazed at the strength she portrayed through it all.

If you are not touched by this story, then you are just completely heartless. Instead of her experiences breaking her, she found the strength to survive. Kudos Omegia! There are several messages involved in her story, the one that stands out for me is to never let your dreams die. This is a very fast paced, intriguing story that you will find you can't put it down until you are finished just to see how it all ends. She holds nothing back and I can only imagine how hard it was to write it all down, then bare it for the world to see. I highly recommend Rise and Fall of a Track Star, giving it 5 lattes!

Entrepreneur, Award Winning Author, Publishing Liaison, and Motivational Speaker are just a few of the makings of Omegia Keeys. After serving two terms in the military Omegia went on to apply her strategic planning to the publishing industry for the past five years. She has garnered numerous awards and praise to include theScribe Award for the National Black Book Festival and ranking in the top 100 books of 2010. She is currently on tour promoting her memoir Rise and Fall of a Track Star and finishing up the sequel entitled Single, Black, and Government Owned.

From The Mind of Omegia