Joshua David Bellin Presents…FREEFALL a New Sci/Fi YA Thriller.

Falling into FREEFALL: By Joshua David Bellin

FREEFALL started out as a love story, plain and simple. But it became something more.

Back in 2013, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. I’d read some YA space operas beforehand, and I had an idea for one of my own. As is typical for me, I plunged into the writing without much of a plan; all I knew was that I wanted to write a deep-space romance involving a teenage boy named Cam and a teenage girl named Sofie. I didn’t think much about who they were, how they met, or anything else. I just wrote.

But within days, it became apparent that my romantic leads were taking me in a direction I hadn’t foreseen. For a variety of reasons—the need to ramp up the tension between them, the desire on my part to delve into lives beyond the one I myself had lived as a teen—the two were diverging radically from each other, Cam becoming a pampered child of the elite, Sofie a revolutionary leader of the oppressed. Once that happened, the rest of the book took shape: Earth in the twenty-second century stratified into two societies, the Upperworld and the Lowerworld, with the planned colonization of outer space a battleground between the two. The romance between Cam and Sofie was still central, but the book was no longer purely a love story; it was also a science fiction satire about a world where corporations rule, space exploration has become privatized, and the struggle for justice extends from Earth into the deepest reaches of the galaxy.

Once this new conception was in place, the personalities of Cam and Sofie developed naturally and dramatically.  Cam is a guy who has no reason to care about anyone else—he comes from one of the richest families on Earth, he’s been sheltered from the world’s problems all his life, and he’s about to leave the planet anyway. But he chooses to care. At considerable risk to his own status (and life), he involves himself in the lives of others who lack the freedom to make the choices he can make. With Cam, I wanted to be sure he had no super-powers like so many YA heroes have, that he couldn’t do anything beyond what a normal person could do. It’s his choices, not his abilities, that define him.

With Sofie, the development of her character was even more striking. I love characters who change as I write them, who seem to be pushing against whatever limits I might unconsciously be imposing on them, because those characters seem the most real to me. Sofie was that kind of character; no sooner did I start writing than she took control and insisted on becoming a passionate spokeswoman for the voiceless. There’s a lot of talk in YA fiction about “kick-butt heroines,” and I think Sofie fits that description—except she fights not with her fists but with her mind, her words, and her faith. For her and Cam to trust one another, walls had to come down; for their love to survive, it had to face not only external opposition but their own fears and doubts. At last, I had a world worth fighting for, and a duo worth rooting for.

I sometimes ask myself whether I should plan out my novels more thoroughly before I start writing them. How, I wonder, would FREEFALL have developed if I’d done that? But I trust the creative process. I believe that when it comes to fiction, my intuition knows more than my intellect. And with FREEFALL, I’m convinced that readers will enjoy discovering this story as much as I did.

The fate of the human race hangs on the actions of two teens from very different backgrounds in this thrilling sci-fi adventure.

In the Upperworld, the privileged 1% are getting ready to abandon a devastated planet Earth. And Cam can’t wait to leave. After sleeping through a 1,000-year journey, he and his friends will have a pristine new planet to colonize. And no more worries about the Lowerworld and its 99% of rejects.

Then Cam sees a banned video feed of protesters in the Lowerworld who also want a chance at a new life. And he sees a girl with golden eyes who seems to be gazing straight through the feed at him. A girl he has to find. Sofie.

When Cam finds Sofie, she opens his eyes to the unfairness of what’s happening in their world, and Cam joins her cause for Lowerworld rights. He also falls hard for Sofie. But Sofie has her own battles to fight, and when it’s time to board the spaceships, Cam is alone.

Waking up 1,000 years in the future, Cam discovers that he and his shipmates are far off-course, trapped on an unknown and hostile planet. Who has sabotaged their ship? And does it have anything to do with Sofie, and the choices—and the enemies—he made in the past?

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). A college teacher by day, he is the author of three science fiction novels for teens and adults: the two-part Survival Colony series (Survival Colony 9 and Scavenger of Souls) and the deep-space adventure Freefall. Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.    

Links:

Website: http://www.joshuadavidbellin.com

Blog: http://theyaguy.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheYAGuy

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joshuadavidbellin

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7393959.Joshua_David_Bellin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joshuadavidbellin/

Freefall (Amazon): https://www.amazon.com/Freefall-Joshua-David-Bellin/dp/1481491652

Freefall (Barnes & Noble): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/freefall-joshua-david-bellin/1125685808

Freefall (Simon & Schuster): http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Freefall/Joshua-David-Bellin/9781481491655

Freefall (IndieBound): https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781481491655

Survival Colony 9 (Simon & Schuster): http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Survival-Colony-9/Joshua-David-Bellin/9781481403559

Scavenger of Souls (Simon & Schuster): http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Scavenger-of-Souls/Joshua-David-Bellin/9781481462440

 

 

 

 

 

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Kathleen Burkinshaw, MG Author Interview: The Last Cherry Blossom.

As we approach the 72nd anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima during the last days of WWII (August 6), I am honored to share a wonderful middle grade book that features a Japanese family living in Hiroshima during that time.  THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by Kathleen Burkinshaw should be read in every middle school classroom to open the conversation on why we should always try to settle disputes peacefully and never, ever again resort to nuclear weapons.

This story has special significance for me as well.  My father – Raymond Beck – was a POW interred in Japan during the war.  He worked as a slave laborer in the coal mines of Hiroshima.  Had he not been underground when the bomb hit, I would most likely not be telling this story.

Here’s Kathleen with her story.

Darlene,

Thank you so much for interviewing me on your blog today! 😊

How did the book come about?

The writing journey of The Last Cherry Blossom began about 8 years ago with one question.  My daughter was in 7th grade at the time and was upset about something that happened in her history class. She said they would be covering the end of WWII and overheard some kids talking about how they couldn’t wait to see the “cool mushroom cloud picture”. She asked if I would speak to her class about the people under the mushroom cloud that day, people like her grandmother.     

I called and asked my mother if it was okay to talk about her experience in Hiroshima that horrific day.  My mom was a very private person, and never spoke about it in public. When I was a young child, she told me she came from Tokyo.  Once she confided in me that she was born in Hiroshima and lost her home, family and friends on August 6th, she asked that I never speak of it either. It was too painful and she didn’t want to draw attention to herself.

But this day she gave me her blessing to discuss what she experienced on August 6th.  She felt that since the students would be about the same age she was (12-years-old), maybe they would relate to her story. As future voters, she hoped they would remember that nuclear weapons should never be used again.

I spoke to my daughter’s class a week after the phone call. The following year I received requests from other local schools. I had been writing about my mom’s survival of the atomic bomb for my own and my daughter’s benefit.  But soon teachers inquired if I had a book that could complement their curriculum. Then the real work began!

Most amazing moment since writing the book?

It’s hard to choose but I have 3 firsts at different stages after writing the book.  The first most amazing moment was when I showed my mom the publishing contract and to see her face and tell me how proud she was that I would do this for her. Perhaps I do treasure this most of all because she passed away 2 months later.

The second moment was when I held the printed copy in my hands, seeing my name on it, smelling the new pages. I still get that same rush whenever I see it on a book shelf.

The third was when received my first fan mail. One was a letter from a student who didn’t like reading, but after reading my book wanted to read more books!

ENTER TO WIN A SIGNED COPY OF THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM by clicking on this link:   http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cd590dfc4/?

Kathleen Burkinshaw is a Japanese American author residing in Charlotte, NC. She’s a wife, mom to a daughter in college, and owns a dog who is a kitchen ninja. Kathleen enjoyed a 10+ year career in HealthCare Management unfortunately cut short by the onset of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).Writing gives her an outlet for her daily struggle with chronic pain. She has presented her mother’s experience in Hiroshima to schools and at conferences for the past 8 years. The Last Cherry Blossom, is a SCBWI Crystal Kite Award Finalist (southeast region) and 2016 Scholastic WNDB Reading Club selection.

twitter  @klburkinshaw1

Blog     https://www.katheenburkinshaw.wordpress.com

Facebook  author page:   @authorkathleenburkinshaw

Laurie Wallmark Presents: A new PB about Grace Hopper, Queen of Computer Code.

WHAT 3 WORDS BEST DESCRIBE GRACE HOPPER?

Curious. Persistent. Unique                       

HOW WAS SHE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TERM “COMPUTER BUG”?
The term “bug” to represent a problem in machinery pre-dated Grace by quite a bit. Thomas Edison coined the term in the 1870s to refer to a problem in a telegraph system he was designing. Grace was the first one to use it in reference to computers, though. Her team found an actual bug, a moth, stuck in a computer relay. This “computer bug” caused a program to malfunction.

HOW DID GRACE SERVE HER COUNTRY?

Grace was proud to serve her country in the United States Navy. From the beginning, her service always involved work with computers. She retired at age 79 as a Rear Admiral. Her feelings about the Navy are summed up with the following quotation: “I’ve received many honors and I’m grateful for them; but I’ve already received the highest award I’ll ever receive, and that has been the privilege and honor of serving very proudly in the United States Navy.”

GRACE SEEMED TO HAVE A FEW SAYING’S OR BELIEFS ON HOW TO GET THROUGH LIFE.  WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I love the self-confidence she exhibited at age nine when she wrote, “The world will be a better place / When all agree with me.” Don’t we all feel that way now and then?

Click here to join Laurie as she travels from blog to blog to introduce her picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code.

Laurie Wallmark
www.lauriewallmark.com    

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling, May 2017)

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston, 2015)

 

Connie Colon Presents: School Rules!

Connie T. Colón is a Children’s Author in the Apollo Beach, Florida area. On April 3, 2017, Connie will release Principal Kidd through Foundations Books, LLC, a traditional publishing company. School Rules! is Connie’s first children’s book and Book 1 in the Principal Kidd series for children ages 7-11.

Connie T. Colón is a graduate of Syracuse University and former advertising executive, Connie has a degree in art but now also paints with her words.

“When I read about Michael Sessions, who had become mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan at 18, while still in high  school — I thought that concept would be fun for a kids story. (And yes, I used to be a fan of the show Doogie Howser MD!) This concept began as a proposal for a kids animated TV series, complete with a pilot episode written — but I was advised to start with a book series.”

Connie had the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with award winning author, Jerry Spinelli at the Highlights Workshop in Chautauqua. An active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Connie had served as a Committee Member for the NJ Chapter. She has sold over 60 articles and over 100 photos to publications including Highlights, Fun For Kidz, AppleSeeds, and Faces. Her ongoing feature “Dear Tommy” had run in Faces magazine for over seven years. Connie occasionally teaches magazine writing workshops at SCBWI events and loves to visit schools. She is working on several manuscripts for humorous chapter book series based on her television animation concepts.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014953950396

https://twitter.com/ConnieTColon

https://www.instagram.com/connietcolon/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/connie-travisano-colon-17120a47

http://www.conniecolon.com

http://www.FoundationsBooks.net

SCHOOL RULES! (Book #1)  A children’s book for ages 7-11

Eleven-year-old whiz, Oliver Kidd, had no trouble using his genius IQ to skip grades and zoom through the accelerated college program. But after landing a job as the world’s first kid principal back at his old elementary school, Oliver faces sabotage from the jealous vice principal, Mr. Dagger, along with challenges of a kid in charge of the teachers, parents, and students. Good thing his trusty sidekick and school mascot, Chelsea the chicken, is on his side. Principal Kidd scores points with the students with his new rules, until the town health inspector shows up and threatens to shut the doors on Eggshell Elementary. Join in on the giggles and mayhem as Oliver Kidd and his friends since kindergarten try to save Eggshell Elementary. (Just watch your step, you may encounter chicken poop!)

Here is the link for the book trailer :

https://youtu.be/DJnpnJ6DtPU

 

Interview with Detective Wilcox about The Case of the Poached Egg.

Today I am meeting with Detective Wilcox, #2 Missing Food Investigator on the force at Ed’s Farm, to discuss the latest developments in The Case of the Poached Egg.

DBJ: Is it true Henrietta’s precious egg, Penny, was egg-napped on the eve of Farmer Ed’s Big Speggtacular?

DW: At 10:00 am on Tuesday Henrietta Hen reported the disappearance of her egg, Penny.

DBJ: Was it an egg-napping?

DW: It’s too soon to tell.

DBJ: Any suspects?

DW: I can’t comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, but I can tell you we plan on speaking with particular animals of interest.

DBJ: Do you think Penny’s disappearance has something to do with the Speggtacular?

DW: We’re exploring all possible angles.  

DBJ: Was fowl play involved?

DW: On a farm with over 100 hungry thieving animals, it’s always a possibility.

DBJ: Are those cheese donuts on your desk? I’ve never had one.

DW: Help yourself.

DBJ: Do you know how they came about?

DW: The cheese donuts? Some crazy children’s book author named Robin Newman came up with the idea. Now I’ve got to scramble if I’m going to crack this case. Let’s hope this case finishes sunny side up. Sunny side up, indeed.

About Robin Newman:  

Raised in New York and Paris, Robin was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs and peacocks. She’s the author of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery (Creston Books) and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (Creston Books). The second book in the Wilcox & Griswold mystery series,

The Case of the Poached Egg (Creston Books), releases April 2017 (but is already available for pre-order at your favorite independent bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and No Peacocks! (Sky Pony Press), flies onto bookshelves fall 2017. Robin lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels.

Website: www.robinnewmanbooks.com

Twitter: @robinnewmanbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RobinNewmanBooks/339179099505049

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Annie Silvestro: Why I ♥ Libraries.

I  ♥ Libraries: By Annie Silvestro

Libraries are my very favorite places.  They are special, sacred places of joy and discovery.  Safe places to learn, to engage, to connect, to grow.

Libraries are places filled with magic.

To be a part of the magic, and thus a little bit magic ourselves, all we have to do is enter.

And when we do, the whole entire world – fictional or factual or fantasy – is ours for the taking. With the help of one very important card of course.   bbc-library-card-front

I remember the proud moment when I obtained my very first library card as a child. I felt responsible. Giddy. Powerful! I treasured books and the idea that I could pick any ones I wanted and take them home with me to read brought me immeasurable pleasure. It still does.

Of course for a reader, a library is as enticing as a candy store. For a writer, the library is also an invaluable resource. Libraries expose us to a world of inspiration, to a diversity of voices, to mentor texts modern and classic. Not to mention books about writing and craft and language. The library provides endless opportunities to spark our own imaginations.

The library inspired me to write BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB.    

bbc-cover-from-prh-websiteIn the story, Bunny loves books so much he sneaks into the library to get them. He wants to share in the magic, too.

When Bunny’s friends catch wind of what he’s been up to, they want in on the action. Not only do they want books, they want to choose exactly which ones they’ll read. So off they go to do just that. And who could blame them?

The library contains something for the reader –or writer- in each of us. And if a person (or animal) can’t immediately find that perfect book? The librarian can make a recommendation.

Because they’re a little bit magic, too.

BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB is a love letter to libraries.

My very favorite places.      as-headshot-v3

Annie Silvestro is a lover of books who reads and writes as much as possible and can often be found shuffling piles of them around so she has a place to sit or someplace to put her teacup. Her picture books include BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Doubleday Books for Young Readers), MICE SKATING, illustrated by Teagan White (Sterling, Fall 2017), and THE CHRISTMAS TREE WHO LOVED TRAINS, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (HarperCollins, Fall 2018).

Annie lives by the beach in NJ with her husband and two boys who like to read, and a cat who does not. Visit Annie online at: www.anniesilvestro.com and on Twitter and Instagram: @anniesilvestro

One lucky reader can win a signed copy of BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB! To enter, leave a comment below.  Darlene will put your name in a hat.  If you share this post on FB or Tweet it on Twitter, she will add your name again (Just let her know what you did).  US RESIDENTS ONLY, PLEASE.  Winner will be announced here on 2-15-17.

 

 

 

 

Rodney Whittenberg Presents Live Interviews With Civil Rights Leaders.

For today’s post it is my joy and pleasure to bring an interview with Emmy Award Winning Composer RODNEY WHITTENBERG, whose new CD WE STOOD UP, explores the experiences of civil rights leaders through interviews and songs.  Sit back and enjoy this amazing project.

Nancy Rogers (NR): Lincoln Financial Foundation

First, a little background for context…Our company’s association with our namesake, Abraham Lincoln, goes back to our founding. In 1905, our founders asked permission of President Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, to use his father’s name for their new company – to reflect the ideals with which they intended to operate. 

Fast-forward to 2016…We Stood Up actually grew out of a 3-year initiative – which we called “Lincoln’s Legacy” – to celebrate the 150th anniversaries of the Emancipation Proclamation (2013) and the 13th Amendment (2015).  As part of the Lincoln’s Legacy initiative, we recorded oral history interviews with a wide range of people who spoke about how the ideals of freedom, opportunity and equality have evolved during their lifetimes. It was our intent from the beginning to produce an anthology of a selection of the interviews. We began with the premise that children would be most influenced – and perhaps most inspired – by other children. In many cases, the interview questions were posed by grandchildren, relatives or mentees of the interviewees – and you can sense the personal nature of some of the questions and answers.  We provided some suggested questions, but the kids were also encouraged to ask about what interested them. In several cases, these recording sessions were the first time that the children had asked questions about how their grandparents or mentors had felt about the things that happened when they were young. That realization helped shape the tone and spirit of We Stood Up. The addition of songs and poems seemed like a natural way to complement the stories being shared – and another vehicle for communicating complex ideas and feelings.     we-stood-up-cd-cover

The creative process was amazing on so many levels. First, there were the oral histories. Our own employees videotaped the interviews. They went to locations the interviewees had chosen, where they were surrounded by people and things that were important to them.

For Julian Bond, it was Florida during a family vacation; for Franklin McCain, it was the Woolworth lunch counter exhibit at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro; for Andrew Young, it was the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA in Atlanta; for Shirley Franklin, it was the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the museum she oversees as board chair; for several others it was their own homes. The locations themselves informed the creative process. And of course, the stories and reflections shared during the interviews.

Our video team members were in awe, and so honored to be playing a part in something so meaningful. They worked countless hours to get the edits just right, and to do justice to the content. Our Lincoln staff has continued to work on the project, and they remain committed advocates today.

But it became clear to us as we moved forward that we needed a dedicated professional, with experience in producing both films and records, and we were introduced to Rodney Whittenberg of Melodyvision – who has been our partner in this project for over 2 years.  His creativity and guidance have been invaluable, and he has brought talent and passion in equal measure to the production of We Stood Up. Then there was the music. The music evolved the most significantly over the course of the project.

At first, we thought we would produce a spoken word album. As the album took shape, we realized that we needed a narrator to provide context and connect the interviews. Then, we began to realize that music would raise it to a different level – from an artistic standpoint, an entertainment standpoint, and an emotional standpoint.

 All of the songs are original, and are tailored to the interview content, and Rodney wrote and performed in all of the songs.  One of the truly gratifying things about this whole experience was the willingness of professional musicians and singers to donate their time and talent because they believed in the project. We had contributing performers who specialize in children’s music, but we also had R&B legend Sarah Dash – who couldn’t have been more supportive of the album. On the track, “Someone Thinks,” Sarah sings with her niece, and another niece runs the school where the kids’ chorus comes from.  The music was written for kids, but with adults in mind, too – so that it’s enjoyable during a long car ride with the family!  We also wanted it to feel new and old at the same time…to pay homage to the civil rights era, bus still sound current and relevant today.     

Rodney Whittenberg: Emmy Award Winning Composer.  Songwriter Composer Producer – We Stood Up:  l_r_whittenberg_001

For me this was a passion project. From the moment I first spoke with Nancy and learned about the Lincoln Legacy project I was hooked. I have been working on educational and art projects for the longest time and this made me think we could create something really special. The process started with listening to the interviews they had  created, then traveling around and doing interviews. The high point for me was The John Lewis interview. He was so inspiring, his commitment and courage seams superhuman.

The songs were inspired by the interviews and the stories. Working with legendary singer Sarah Dash was a high point of the process. She really helped and connected me with Sprout performing arts school in Trenton NJ.

My favorite moment on the CD is “John Lewis on Non – Violence” in to the song “Love”.

The best part of the CD is that it’s free for teachers, schools, libraries, and it is available on iTunes.  All of the proceeds go to Boys and Girls club of Phila. 

a-3820397-1399737314-6298Rodney Whittenberg is founder of Melodyvision where he works as a Creative Consultant by using his skills as a composer / song writer/ multi instrumentalist, producer / engineer / filmmaker and educator. He brings a fresh and unique perspective to each client and project adding value that results in creative solutions to often complex problems. Rodney has composed music for over 34 films and TV shows, and countless dance performances. Projects include: Anthony Bourdain’s show a Cooks Tour; PBS POV Documentary The Camden 28; horror cult classics Infested and Return to Sleep Away Camp. He’s received a regional Emmy for his score for the TV Documentary Mother Dot’s Philadelphia and Best Sound Design at the Terror Film Festival for Toll Taker.  

Rodney’s work as a filmmaker centers around his passion for telling a story from start to finish in a creative way. Projects include: HBO Family segments 30X30: Kid Flicks; WHYY Wider Horizon educational spots; and numerous music videos and short-form documentaries. His most recent passion project is as co-producer of the feature-length documentary Caregivers: Their Passion, Their Pain, which was recently featured on Radio Times and written up in The Guardian.  More info at www.melodyvision.com

We Stood UP

https://www.lfg.com/public/aboutus/lincolnfinancialfoundation/lincolnslegacy/anthology

We Stood Up iTunes link

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/we-stood-up/id1157789980

Itunes

Sound-cloud Link

https://soundcloud.com/user-774801037/sets/we-stood-up-final-master/s-BgaIn