Check out my interview on Deborah’s blog:
You are working on a number of projects. Do you have a priority number one at the moment?
Nothing is a priority for me otherwise I get flustered. I work on several projects, one after another. I work on one until I get blocked, put it away, then move on to the next. The only one that I can say will be meeting the priority stage is the book I am co-writing with someone on . We’ve given a March deadline to finish it.
How did you come to write Bubba and Giganto? Do you have a special affinity for bullying?
I’ve seen too many kids acting like wannabe hoods knowing very well they have no concept of the hurt they are dishing out to their victims. These kids, in my opinion, are lost souls searching for guidance. I found it important enough to draw on these kids and to show them a path where other possibilities exist.
How have your children influenced you as a writer of children’s stories?
They are my number one critique eyes. And I have to say, they are really harsh. I draw on their life experiences, their lifestyles and friends. With five kids I can tell you there are many stories I can and have drawn upon.
What do you hope readers take away from “Bubba and Giganto?”
That bullying is hurtful, it has the potential of turning dangerous in the sense bullies never understand or take the time to think how their victims will react. I want them to see there are consequences, other options they can use besides namecalling, pushing, shunning.
You do an amazing amount of writing, editing, mentoring, and much more. How do you keep track of everything? I can barely manage to keep track of my grocery list …
I work on several projects each day. I guess when you have this huge passion in the written word, or love to help others, you find the time and system to organize everything. Mind you, there are days when I say, “Oops. This should have been finished last week.” I’m human, afterall.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Just that writing for children and the young adult readers brings a satisfaction in me. Writing for this very susceptible age group makes me think closely at my themes and characters, to flesh them out so they can connect with them
Bubba and Giganto is available at:
Barnes & Noble
The Reading Warehouse
Check out author Lea Schizas’ newest book, “Bubba & Giganto: Odds Against Them”
Bubba’s Dad is always moving around and that means Bubba has to go to a new school, a pet peeve of his. He’s a smart aleck and seems to be a bully magnet. On the first day at his latest school, he meets and befriends David, aka Giganto as Bubba eventually nicknames him, unexpectedly become best friends. Bubba and Giganto try out for the high school soccer team, and that’s when trouble begins.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter One:
Ever wonder if parents really listen to you? Try adding, “and the alien
scooped me up” and see their reaction. If they turn around and look in a weird way, they paid attention. My parents just say, “Uh-huh, that’s nice, dear.”
But I’ve gone off topic here. My story has nothing to do with parents but
everything to do with accepting a challenge.
Starting at a new school and meeting friends is hard, really hard. Factor in that my parents decided to name me Bubba - not Bobby, not Brendan, but Bubba - and anyone can understand why I hate going to any school. This would be my fourth nightmare in a brand new setting.
Getting off the bus, I bumped right into this huge student. Couldn’t avoid it. The kid, who must have been over 200 pounds, hogged the whole sidewalk. His oversized blue T-shirt looked more like a tent. Well, call me silly, but I turned to the circus freak and told him, “Move out of my way.” Almost in slow motion, he started to wobble out of my path.
As I tried to pass, he yanked me back by my collar. My gut told me I may have made the biggest mistake of my life.
Putting on my ‘tough guy’ face (the gnarly grin and uplifted eyebrow), I looked him squarely in the eyes. “What’s up?” I asked, while my legs screamed RUN. Anticipating a nasty hit on my body, I squeezed my eyes shut.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to block your way.”
Unsure if my ears heard right, I opened one eye and checked where his pudgy hands were. Although the tone of his voice sounded angelic in my head (with both eyes shut), I may have mistaken sarcasm for sincerity. To my astonishment, his hand waited for me to shake it in greeting. The other hand held on to his brown leather school bag. It reminded me of what a spy carrying Top Secret documents would use.
“My name’s David Montana,” he said, clasping my hand in a tight grip and
shaking it. His ‘tent’ wobbled with every shake, rattle, and roll he did with my hand. A childish grin spread across his cherub features.
“H-hey. I’m B -” No way would I tell him my name in front of everyone circled around us expecting the first fight of the school year. “Nice to meet you.” My racing heart resumed its normal beat. I’m not normally the queasy and frightened type of a guy. I’m usually smarter in the sense I pick fights with guys my own size. So knowing my body would continue its healthy state, I let out a very inconspicuous sigh.
Besides, I felt lower than a deflated punching bag for thinking him a circus freak.
Everyone dispersed once the warning bell rang, obviously disappointed I didn’t get my teeth knocked out. My newfound friend and I entered the ugly, red brick building, similar to all my other schools. I wonder if it’s like a secret school code to keep schools as monotone as possible in order to have students remain nice and quiet … well, bored is more like it.
I looked around and felt like puking. The walls, lockers, doors, ceilings - everything was clean, not a mural anywhere, made me a bit nervous since every other school had those artistic imprints. Those schools allowed their students to decorate the walls with paintings and feel at home. So, I wondered if I had just stepped into boot camp or what, because it was blaringly obvious to me the kids here either had no artistic qualities or the school’s administration felt they shouldn’t decorate the walls. Great! Could this day get any worse?
Yes. I couldn’t help but feel as though I walked in a dank tunnel. Then it hit me as I looked around. There were no windows. The only sunlight streamed from the corridor windows. I stopped for a second and peeked inside a classroom. No windows. Yikes. Even the Titanic had more windows.
“Yio, David.” I ran to catch up with him. “What’s up with the lack of windows?”
“Oh, you’ll get used to it. We really don’t notice. Students are less distracted.”
“Yeah, but how will we know when we’re nearing an iceberg?”
He looked at me as though I was off my rocker.
“Never mind.” I didn’t feel the need to explain my weird sense of humor to him.
David and I hit it off. Six foot plus David, and five ten and a hundred-sixty-five pound me shared every single class. Luck knew I would need David somewhere down the line.
And, boy, was Luck ever right.
Check out this great excerpt from Sharon’s novel:
After the War, Before the Peace (Excerpt)
By Sharon Poppen
It was near midnight when they reined up in front of the little adobe. The bad weather muted their sounds. No one had seen or heard the little band arrive. The brothers dismounted. Jim checked Michael and found him still unconscious, but breathing.
“Get Lita!” Jim yelled to Joe over the storm.
Joe pushed the creaky door open. “Lita, its Joe.”
The orange glow in the fireplace gave the room an unearthly hue. Joe flinched when he saw an image appear in the bedroom doorway like an apparition.
Lita screamed. “Oh Madre mia. No! No! No!” She crumbled to the floor.
Joe rushed to her. He was wet and dirty, but he pulled the limp, sobbing woman into his arms. “No. Come! He’s only hurt.”
She sprang from his arms and out into the storm. A bolt of lightning illuminated a drenched Jim holding the reins of two horses and a man prone on a sling between the horses. She ran to Michael and removed his hat, then ran her fingers over his face. The cold rain lashed at them, but Michael’s head was burning with fever.
“Hurry. Inside.” She urged.
Jim started to untie the sling. She helped him. When it was free, she raced to the other end and helped Joe. The men carried the sling into the adobe and set it down in front of the fire.
“Lantern, light the lantern,” ordered Lita in her native language. “Stoke up the fire.” By the time the fire brought sufficient light into the room, she had untied the ropes securing Michael to the sling and was assessing the wound. “Is this the only one?” She looked up at the brothers.
“Yes.” They chorused.
She probed his head, torso and legs. Nasty green puss oozed from the wound. She pried open his eyes, but his eyeballs were not visible. When she tousled his hair and rubbed his forehead, he moved. Everyone leaned forward.
“Yes, me amor.”
“Si. You home.”
They waited for more, but Michael was out again.“Miguel?” She cooed softly, cuddling his head to her chest. “Miguel?” Eventually, Lita turned to Joe. “Jose, get Senora Rodriguez. Tell her it’s an emergency.” She spoke to Jim. “Help me get him undressed and into bed.”
Once Michael’s clothes had been removed, Lita handed Jim some wet cloths. “Swab his head, face and neck.” She ran into the bedroom. Jim watched as she tore a colorful spread from the bed and tossed the pillows into a corner. She unfolded a large white sheet over the entire bed. She returned to Michael’s side and urged Jim. “Pick up his chest. I’ll lift his legs so we can put him in the bed.”
They placed Michael face down so that his wounded right shoulder was lined up with the edge of the bed. Lita turned his head sideways. She looked at the love of her life nude, pale and motionless. The room began to reel. She took a deep breath and began to move. She had no time to worry or grieve; Michael needed her.
Jim watched Lita prepare a basin of warm water and begin began to wash Michael. She was gentle, but thorough. As she washed, she caressed and rubbed as if to restore feeling. It was too intimate for Jim. He wondered if she even remembered he was in the room?
He drew her attention, “What can I do?”
She had forgotten he was there. For the first time, she noticed the pain and worry etched on his face. “You have already done so much. You brought him home. Thank you.”
Jim grimaced. “Please, I need to do to something. Let me help.” He pleaded.
She had never seen him so out of control. Her heart went out to this distraught brother. “Go stoke up the fire. Get more water hot. Get some agave leaves. Take the sling outside.”
He remained frozen, looking at Michael.
She rose and touched his arm. “I will tend to Miguel. You should rest; you must be tired. You did good, Jaime. You got him here. You rest now and pray.” She could see the tears threatening in his dark brown eyes. She took his hand, then kissed his cheek. “You rest. It’s in God’s hands now.” She returned to bathing Michael.
Jim touched his cheek, then turned and did Lita’s bidding.
A drenched Senora Rodriguez burst into the cabin as Jim was adding logs to the fire. He nodded toward the bedroom and she rushed to Lita’s side. Joe came in a few seconds later. He looked at the empty sling with dread in his eyes.
“We got him into bed.”
“Still out of it?”
Jim began to pick up the sling and ropes. Joe helped, commenting that they needed to get the horses to shelter. They took the sling outside and took it, along with their horses, to their own adobe. Their guns, bedrolls, saddlebags and the sling were thrown down on the earthen floor.
“I’ll stable the horses and be right back.” Joe offered. “Go to Lita.”
Jim nodded and returned to the lighted adobe across the way. He shook as much rainwater off as he could before entering the cabin. He stoked the fire again before going to stand in the bedroom doorway. The women weren’t talking much. Michael lay with his back exposed and a bed linen laid across his buttocks and legs. His skin had an unnatural red caste to it. Eventually, Lita turned and motioned for Jim to join them.
“We must get the bullet out.” She told him.
“We tried. He bled too much.”
Lita looked at Mrs. Rodriguez.
“We will surely lose him if the bullet stays in there. The wound will continue to fester because of the lead.”
“What about the loss of blood? It was bad when we tried before.”
“It is a worry, but he is young. Perhaps his body will quickly replenish it. Leaving the bullet in will surely kill him.” The woman minced no words.
The words kill him gave an added twist to the emotional dagger of guilt already in Jim’s heart. Through his pain, he heard Lita.
“We must do it.”
Is this your first “historical”?
Yes, ‘After the War, Before the Peace’, available at most on-line book sellers, is my first historical book, but not my last. My western, ‘Hannah’ is now an ebook available at www.virtualtales.com . It follows a young woman across Texas in the 1880s as she pursues the killers of her husband. I also have two sequels to ‘ , Before the Peace’ completed. I have ‘Abby’, the story of an Irish immigrant who travels across the prairies with a medicine man and his son while making her way to the Alaskan gold rush to fnd her fortune. Currently, ‘Abby’ is being seriously considered by a major book publisher.
What got you interested in the Civil War and the reconstruction?
I can’t remember not being interested in that era of our country. When I was ten, my great-grandfather’s family name was researched. Two names came up - Robert E. Lee and James Butler Hickock, aka Will Bill Hickock. Learning that those names were in my blood, heightened my interest.
Did you base your characters on any from “real life,” or are they entirely made up?
My characters are entirely fictional. Although, I do have a writer friend who, having read my book, says that those characters couldn’t have come so alive without my having lived among them in a previous life. I don’t know about that, but they do live in my mind and aren’t bashful about making comments or adjustments to what I had them say or do.
How did you conduct your research?
I have always loved history, so even before I started the book, I was very familiar with the dress, housing and technology level of the civil war era, having visited many of the areas and several of the battle sites. But every so often something would need to be covered and it was a plethora of maps, the family encyclopoedia and the internet that pulled me through. About a week before publishing, it dawned on me that one of my characters whistles ‘‘ when he wants to lighten up a situation. I paniced, but through the internet, I found that the song has been around a long time. It is rumored to be written around the time of the siege of The Alamo in Texas. The first published copy of it is dated 1856 and published by Firth, Pond & Co.
How long did it take you to research and write the book?
The research was on-going. I began ‘hearing’ from the four main characters during my twenties. But, marriage, jobs and kids allowed for only some occassional typing now and then. I was able to retire at age fifty. I went back to college where a professor told me he believed I had talent and encouraged me. Within a year, I had the first draft completed. After several editing reads and upgrades, we went to print the following year.
What was the most difficult thing about writing your novel?
You know, I can’t think of anything difficult about writing the novel. It’s the shopping publishers and marketing that I find difficult. It’s necessary, but difficult.
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
An enjoyable reading experience with a feel for the era and a need to continue to follow the joys and sorrows of the Farrell family in the sequels that are now ready for publication.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Just to thank you for asking these questions and to thank any readers of this interview for giving me their time.