Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Monsterland Review by Midwest Book Review

Check out this amazing review of Monsterland by my son, Michael Okon, from the Midwest Book Review!

The Fantasy/SciFi Shelf

Michael Okon
Wordfire Press LLC
PO Box 1840, Monument, CO 80132
PR: Michael Okon - michaelokonbooks@gmail.com
9781614756316, $27.47, HC, 226pp, https://www.amazon.com/Monsterland-1-Michael-Okon/dp/1614755949/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1510674021&sr=8-2

Wyatt Baldwin's senior year is not going well. His parents divorce, then his dad mysteriously dies. He's not exactly comfortable with his new stepfather, Carter White, either. An ongoing debate with his best friends Melvin and Howard Drucker over which monster is superior has gotten stale. He'd much rather spend his days with beautiful and popular Jade. However, she's dating the brash high-school quarterback Nolan, and Wyatt thinks he doesn't stand a chance. But everything changes when Wyatt and his friends are invited to attend the grand opening of Monsterland, a groundbreaking theme park where guests can interact with vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by werewolves on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville. With real werewolves, vampires and zombies as the main attractions, what could possibly go wrong? Very highly recommended for high school and community library YA Fiction collections, "Monsterland" showcases author Michael Okon's genuine flair for originality and deftly crafted fantasy fiction for young readers ages 14 to 18. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Monsterland" is also available in a paperback edition (9781614755944, $14.99) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.99).

Thursday, November 9, 2017

From Venice to Mount Etna: My long drive through Italy by Mary Jane Walker

From Venice to Mount Etna:
My long drive through Italy

Mary Jane Walker

My route through Italy

Mary Jane Walker is an emerging New Zealand travel memoirist who has just formally launched her first four books in Auckland on Saturday 11 November 2017. This is a guest blog by Mary Jane, which follows up an account of a trip to Venice published on her own website, A Maverick Traveller. Mary Jane's books appear in the following publicity widgets:



After my stay in Venice, which you can read about here, I drove to Mount Etna in Sicily. I travelled more than 1500 km, and it took me ten days to get there.
I had a four-wheel drive which only cost me 16 Euros a day with full insurance. I thought this was a bargain, but in hindsight I definitely wouldn’t recommend driving long distances in Italy!
I was forced to drive at 130 or 140 km/h (80+ mph) on the Autostrada and its many tunnels. On local roads I ended up going through villages where the roads were so narrow that it was hard not to get the car scratched. In fact, I had to cough up 250 Euros for scratches when I returned it.
From Venice, I went south-west into Tuscany and Umbria.
I made a bee-line for Pisa and its famous leaning tower.

The Via Francigena, a famous pilgrim trail, passes through these parts and I caught up with it near Pisa, too. (There are a couple of photos of the Via Francigena signs at the end of my earlier Venice blog.)
After Pisa, I got lost and ended up at the seaside, on a coast bordered with olive groves. I didn’t mind that at all!
Then I headed south-east, along a route that took me past the tomb of the legendary Saint Francis of Assisi, in the town after which he is named.  Many people think of St Francis of Assisi as the first environmentalist, as well as a friend to animals.

I got to the Adriatic coast and rested up for a while at a town called San Benedetto del Tronto, roughly halfway down the Italian peninsula.
In San Benedetto, I was booked into a hostel by the port, which I didn’t like. I used my Italian SIM card to book another one, and went to a restaurant where I had sardines fried in batteramazing!
The Adriatic is the shallow sea between Italy and the former Yugoslavia. It is named for the Roman Emperor Hadrian, Adriano in modern Italian.
I was keen to stick to the coast for this leg of the journey so that I could enjoy the sea views. I drove through lots of small towns on the coast, towns that often had incredibly narrow streets once you got off the main highway and no parking anywhere near the middle.
Once or twice I went the wrong way up one-way streets because the street layouts were so higgledy-piggledy it was hard to tell which street a given sign referred to!  
One thing about Italy is that the food was terrific everywhere. Ensalada del mar was my favourite in coastal towns: seafood salad with cold aubergines and beans, you name it!
I carried on down the coast all the way to Bari in the south, near the ‘heel’ of the Italian boot. At that point I headed inland, toward the extraordinary town of Matera, which is partly hewn out of the rock in a ravine, in a similar fashion to the cave-towns of Cappadocia in Turkey.
The old part of Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site: one of many in Italy, of course.

I followed my GPS and it took me literally all the way to the gangplank of the ferry to Sicily!
I crossed over and drove to Palermo, staying for four nights at a village called Aspra on the coast, east of the city. I didn’t miss much by staying so far out, as Aspra was always busy. There was always something happening, with night markets and some people filming a movie with actors on the beach.  And more ensalada del mar.
I stayed for three days at a guest-house with a couple, as their only guest. The woman had had chemo and lost her hair. So, I gave her a necklace and ear-rings that I picked up in Murano, the famous glass-making district of Venice. She was forever grateful!
Sicily used to be hugely strategic, and Palermo the finest city in the Mediterranean around 1100 CE, or so it was claimed.
The island was at the crossroads of the early Mediaeval world, ruled successively by the Arabs, the Normans, the Spanish and even the Germans, both in the form of the ancient Goths and Vandals and also the later Holy Roman Empire and house of Hohenstaufen. Sicily was a far-flung possession of most of its rulers, yet a valuable one, since it lay in the centre of the Mediterranean.
But over time Sicily became something of a backwater, along with the rest of southern Italy, as Europe turned its attention away from the Mediterranean world and toward the Atlantic.
For about fifty years after World War II, Sicily was dominated by the Mafia, which had been used by the Allies to help fight fascism and thus given a leg-up into respectable society. But after numerous prosecutions and the 1992 murders of two judges, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, the Sicilian Mafia became discredited and lost its former influence.
The Sicilians speak a dialect, or really a separate language, influenced by Greek and Arabic as well as the many other peoples who have passed through.
As in other parts of Italy, the local language has almost no official status in Sicily. However, there are about five million Sicilians in Sicily, plus a large overseas community (a million Sicilians emigrated between 1871 and 1914), so there is little chance of Sicilian dying out.
The Greek influence on Sicily was particularly strong in ancient times, more so than that of the Romans. The island is studded with Greek temples and other relics. Many famous Greeks of ancient times, such as the engineer Archimedes and the playwright Aeschylus, actually lived in Sicily.
I went to see some of the ruins at Agrigento, the home town of Empedocles, an early Greek scientist who was perhaps the first to argue that light travelled at a constant speed. And I also saw some more ruins at Selinunte, another ancient Greek city.

I spent another two nights at a place in an olive grove outside the central Sicilian town of Piazza Armerina. The building was run-down outside, like a lot of buildings in Italy, but a palace inside! I carried on to Catania and went and saw Mount Etna, the famous volcano nearby which has been active for thousands of years. Empedocles is supposed to have perished by leaping into the crater in the belief that volcanic fumes would support his weight. Of course, there is no reason to suppose that this is true.
I mentioned how driving long distances in Italy was a bad idea. It seems none of the locals risk it because, when I was in Sicily, I was pulled over by two full carloads of local cops who saw my Venice licence plates and thought that there had to be something fishy going on! They went through all my papers and asked lots of questions. That was quite heavy.
From Catania, I caught a plane to Rome, where I stayed near the airport at Fiumicino. I caught transport into the city at 4:30 am and wandered around Saint Peter’s Basilica. I’d forgotten how beautiful the city was.

After Rome, I flew to Nice in the south of France to catch up with an old friend who lived in the foothills of the Alps — a good topic for another blog!

To round off, here are some of the photos that I took, or had taken of me, along the way!

A curiously bricked up old building on the Adriatic Coast, next to a sign advertising wine and oil directly for sale from the producers.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Publishing ABC's - Indie Author's Monthly July 2017 Issue, Article by Carole P. Roman

Publishing ABC's
Indie Author's Monthly, July 2017 Issue, 
Article by Carole P. Roman

For more writer pro-tips, get your indie on with Indie Author's Monthly!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Meet Author, Eugenia Chu!

Meet Author, Eugenia Chu!

Eugenia Chu is a first generation Chinese-American citizen, born in New Jersey and raised primarily outside of Boston, Massachusetts and then St. Petersburg, Florida.  Eugenia has also lived and attended school in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Taipei and Shanghai (summer study abroad).  She met her husband in law school and they currently live in Miami with their son, Brandon, and fish, Sharky.

Eugenia’s son, Brandon, is the inspiration for her stories.  When Brandon was very little, Eugenia would read a bedtime story (or 2, or 3!) every night to him and then at lights out, she and Brandon would discuss his day and all the events that occurred.  They would take turns adding information and make up little stories based on the happenings of the day before going to sleep.  Eugenia was always searching for children’s storybooks to read to him which touched upon Chinese culture and which included some Chinese (Mandarin) words to teach and/or reinforce his Chinese vocabulary, but had trouble finding them.  Most of the books she found were either straight translation or ABC/123 type books with no storyline.  So, she started writing her own based on events in Brandon’s life and the little stories they told at bedtime.  Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) is the first “Brandon” story. 

Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) is about a little Chinese-American boy named Brandon who gets a surprise visit from his grandma from China, Pó Po (婆婆).  While Brandon and Pó Po (婆婆) are making Chinese dumplings, called jiǎo zi (餃子), Brandon makes a mess and he and Pó Po (婆婆) have a good laugh!  They chat and bond over the experience.  Then Brandon eats and eats and eats and makes a surprise at the end that delights the whole family!  This story includes some conversational Mandarin Chinese (including Pinyin – pronunciation) and is written the way a real Chinese grandmother and her Chinese-American grandson would speak with each other.  It is a fun read for families with children who are learning, or are interested in, Mandarin or Chinese culture.

Website: eugeniachu.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Meet author Rocio Monroy!

Rocio Monroy was born and raised in Mexico, where she graduated as an Industrial Engineer in 2009. She came to the U.S with a Au Pair program and got to travel around the country. After she met her husband, she finally settled in St. Peters, Missouri. Ever since she has been studying English as second language and creative writing. In 2016, Rocio won a scholarship to study at the Children's Book Academy.

 As an Author, she writes stories for tiny readers with big hearts. Her big inspiration is her three children who teach every day how to follow her dreams. She enjoys every moment of her life and likes to write about it. Her favorite thing to write about is bilingual characters that have the ability to make kids laugh. She strongly believes that books have the power of changing the world. This is the reason she spends a lot of time reading, visiting libraries, and writing stories to help make this world a better place.

Rocio's latest book is "Paisley the goat."
Counting from one to ten is not easy for children, although Paisley the goat will make things easier for the little ones. Paisley the goat discovers many different things that can be counted at the beach on a sleepless night.

Paisley the Goat is a colorful children’s illustrated story for kids who are learning their numbers. A goat named Paisley cannot sleep, no matter what she tries. You can probably relate if you have kids and the little ones won’t lie down or unwind.