I’m lucky enough to live where spring has already sprung and I don’t know about you but, spring puts me in a perpetually great mood! Sun and warmth do wonders for my psyche. Of course, I had to go through a brutal week of allergies and little sleep, but that’s last week. Moving on to warmer and brighter things!
I am so excited to be a part of the upcoming Global Blog Event Hop, starting Friday, March 21st, hosted by the talented and wonderful June M. Pace! I was lucky enough to meet June several months ago when she offered to host Ruby Hood on her blog. I love her outlook on telling tales and having fun with writing (two of my favorite things, as well)!
Read on to learn more about June, her books, her blog, her publishing company and her upcoming blog hop!
Stephanie: First off, thank you so much for spending some time with us! To start, why don’t you fill us in on this Global Blog Event Hop?
June: This event is very near and dear to my heart. I feel like there’s so much noise in the world that it keeps people from dreaming, kid’s in particular. They have so much to contend with in their daily lives, and I’d like to make sure there is still an outlet that allows them to have the capacity to “believe”, I’m all about keeping the magic alive.
So much of the work out there now, be it literature, television or film, is heavy, hard and dark, it assaults the senses. I just kinda want to see a fairy be a fairy and a gnome a gnome once in a while. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for that kind of work, clearly, however, some of us just want magic without all the graphic stuff. Harry Potter had battles, but they were power based in magic and emotion. It touches a different place in the psyche. I want to be clear here, I’m not disregarding anyone’s work in fantasy because it may be more edgy or run with a darker theme, again, there are good works that use these ideas, and use them quite well. We’re talking about me right now, and the event, and I’m simply about a more subtle approach.
I would love to get to that place with my work, and this blog, where it becomes a “go to” for people to find good YA Fantasy works. I intend to pull back on some of the hosting I’ve been doing for other tour companies and get back to the basics, which is how this began for me. I want to include interviews and guest posts for authors, illustrators, agents, you name it...anyone in the field that I think would be a pivotal direction for this idea to journey. I actually have some middle grade kids/writers that will be featured on the blog next month. I really would like this blog to become about the kids, for the kids. I’m so about the magic, I know I keep saying that, but it’s true. This event is a way to bring in our audience, our fans as well, not simply just bloggers or authors. This first time may not gather as many entrants as I had hoped, however, I know this event will become something special as we build on this theme throughout the year and more and more people will absolutely wish to be a part of it. It will be a good place to network, to meet other authors of the same ilk, make some friends. However, it’s really about the kids to me and keeping the magic alive.
Stephanie: I am a huge believer in magic myself! And any safe, fun, creative outlet we can provide for kids is simply a WIN WIN! Now, we want to hear all about your books! Please tell us all about the Benjamin Mctish Series.
June: Well, this series is my work, my daily work. I’ve just finished the second book and am ready to begin the third. It would probably be easier if I just give you the short version of the book blurb for the Grandfather Tree:
The McTish Series is an explosive adventure through a dimensional Gateway into another world, Coranim, a land of insight, thought and possibilities, that sits beneath the enchanted Gilley Forest.
One day Benjamin watches as a mysterious little woman steps out of a taxi and in one synchronistic moment their eyes lock and a series of visual snippets unfold in his mind’s vision. His razor sharp sixth sense allows him the freedom to explore the extrasensory messages coming at him like a derailed freight train. And when Benjamin finds a peculiar relic of a key in his grandmother’s garden shed he could never know his world was about to change forever.
Annabel and Mathilda, two sisters from America, have become more than mere friends to Benjamin as they are all plunged head first into this curious journey. They discover that the path they have chosen is inundated with many obstacles as well as intrigue, with the foulest of sorcery hunting their every move, the powerful dark beauty, Tar Vigorn.
Once in Coranim the children make the acquaintance of Esmerelda Fet, a potent Light Sorceress with a brazen in your face attitude who guides the trio on their Path of destiny. However, a Path can change in the blink of an eye.
This first book is fun...it builds the world and the characters. Benjamin who is 14, as is Annabel, and Mathilda is 11, are super relatable and current, which is what gives them so much personality, the sisters in particular. I absolutely love them! They are so clear in my head now that their dialog just flows for me, I rarely, if ever, have issues writing them. It was something I had to train myself with at first, because the wordsmith in me would use proper language until I re-read something and realized, that’s not how an eleven year old precocious little girl from Boston would speak. So once I let that go there was no stopping her...she’s my favorite in case you were wondering. She’s such a great character, I can see her clearly in my mind as I write her, standing with her fists on her hips and her eyebrows scrunched up, she’s the absolute cutest!
I’m very visual, I’m an artist, have been for my whole life, so when I write, I write exactly what I see. This ability gives me the advantage to really create something that allows the reader to see as well. This has been a running theme with the critics and reviews, about the visualness of the book, so I couldn’t be happier...plus the first book leaves a great cliff-hanger which is always fun. I’ve had fans write to me and say...Ahhh, when’s the next book coming!
However, the second book, Benjamin McTish and the Wizards of Coranim, is a roller coaster ride through this exciting world, this book is even better to me than the first, because I could go further. We already know the characters, who to root for, who we love, so I could totally concentrate on the magic and the experience.
It picks up exactly where the first one leaves off and it doesn’t let up for one second. It goes deeper into that world building that I love so much. I was an interior designer for many years and it shows when I describe a room or a store front. I was able to play and bring in more of the steampunk vibe to the cities, (which I LOVE), and there’s a Jungle that lets me explore some interesting places of fear as well.
I mean seriously, Wizards...who doesn’t love a good wizard? And since he’s on the cover I may as well let you know now, the main Wizard is an Aboriginal Gnome, and if you don’t think THAT wasn’t fun to write think again! And I have to say the ending in this book..man, it even surprised me! If you can accomplish this as a writer, I believe you’ve found your calling. Writing is better than anything I’ve ever done.
The first book took me a year to write, this one only 5-6 months, it just poured out of my without a hitch. And now I’m busting to get on with the third, Benjamin McTish and the Hidden Caverns of Bristonbel. I hope the title says it all.
One thing of importance is that I hope to impart an underlying theme throughout this series having to do with three things, synchronicity, accountability and courage. It’s really about having the courage to figure out who you are and then to live that Truth without being afraid. To realize that your actions have repercussions and to stand up for what you believe...to walk your talk. I’ve put together a message of hope wrapped up with a big bow of fantasy and magic.
Stephanie: WOW! The books sound amazing! The first one is on my list and I look forward to it! I do love good characters, plus it sounds like a great read for my 4th graders. But I met you as a blogger and I’d just like to say your blog is absolutely amazing! How long have you had it? Any tips for new bloggers?
June: Wow, that’s really nice of you to say. I keep thinking it’s old fashion or something. I actually was going through hours of searching the other day attempting to find a template that felt like me, but a bit more modern as far as the layout. In the end I’m sticking with what I have right now...I’ll change up the header when I have more time, make it a bit more magical. Just need time to sit down and paint for an afternoon, so who knows when that will actually happen, ha!
I started my “home” blog a little over four years ago. Then I began a Rock blog to showcase my Contemporary paintings of Rock legends, then I opened another one for a little while with Buddha art I had done that people kept asking me to do, and to this very day is the number one thing that brings people to my art website and home blog...it’s crazy, who knew so many people were looking for Buddha art? Then I opened the storybook illustration blog when I began making my life about writing this series. I really didn’t do much with it, just added bits here and there, here’s another illustration and that sort of stuff. Finally last year when I got the first book published I decided to beef up my blog and make it about the book. So that kept going for about 6 months until I woke up one day and thought, who comes to my blog, who really cares? And that’s when I realized I needed to expand...bring in the kind of people that had the same goals so we could all sort of support each other. And I’ve ended up here where I am now.
The number one tip I’m going to give is leave an email, a contact on your blog for people to reach you.
As I’ve been roaming around blog land this past week, promoting this event, I cannot tell you how many authors have blogs and not one single way to contact them! Your fans want to talk to you...and people like me, looking to promote a worthy cause wish to include you. Email..big. Other than that, attempt to demonstrate who you are through your blog, put some personality into it. A lot of blogs are so bland, or user unfriendly, just think it through. You’ll keep adding things as you find them, you’ll fine tune and evolve. That’s the way it should be.
Stephanie: Some excellent words of wisdom, and of course, you’ve made me wonder if I have a way for people to contact me, if they wanted to. Definitely something I need to check into! J Now, tell us a little about your publishing company, Pressed Leaf Publishing.
June: When I finally decided to self-publish I went through hundreds of hours researching every part of this industry...it’s mind boggling the amount of information out there and the diverse directions they can give. I’ll keep this short, because there is so much to share about this.
I used Createspace to print my book and put it on Amazon. If you use their isbn there is a group of numbers in that code, 615, that shows other distributors you are with Amazon, and they will not work with you. If you use your own imprint and buy one isbn from Bowker for your book, that same number is in the code, and will tell distributors/bookstores that you are a ‘random publisher’, this tells them that you will more than likely not have a return policy and they will not work with you. Only buying in bulk and registering your imprint as a publishing house will give you all the freedom you want. However, in order to utilize all the benefits of being a publisher, you need to go the full route, setting up a business, which I did.
Obviously at present my plate is full, however, I do intend to help other authors soon, to act as a true small indie house. I will keep it YA Fantasy; I may have an off shoot for some other work, we’ll see, but for now this is where my heart lies. I am also listed with Lightening Source, which works with the largest distribution houses; however, I am not set up at this time to offer the full return policy, but soon. And when that happens, then I can do a lot more for other authors. I’m really excited about doing this.
Pressed leaf came from the idea of people pressing flowers and leaves in books, and then pages are made from trees..the grandfather tree....it all kinda worked for me. I’m very happy I did this.
Stephanie: Sounds awesome! I just can’t thank you enough for joining me in this interview! I am looking so forward to the GLOBAL BLOG EVENT HOP, starting Friday, March 21st! Any last details/thoughts for the readers?
June: I suppose I would like to say how much it means to me to host this event and how I hope it can really become something that people look forward too. I’m thinking I’ll do this again in autumn, so this will become a bi-annual event, we’ll see how big this gets. I have this dream of bringing fans, the YA audience, to a place where they can find great works of fantasy fiction, a place that allows them the freedom to dream and to hopefully find their own inner voice....who knows what talent will come from them.
Thank you so much Stephanie, you have gone above and beyond to help promote this event, and I’m glad to call you one of my tribe!
Stephanie: It’s been a pleasure June, and I’m honored to be a part of your tribe! Best of Luck!
Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope to see you at the HOP!