Wednesday, October 7, 2015

IWSG~The world is a WE

Recently I read a status on a social media site that set me aflame. The information shared wasn't pleasant; frankly it disturbed me for days later. It wasn't the words the writer chose to use that hit me, but the subject matter of a real-life event that happened in her world - her local community.

This particular incident dealt with the suicide of a young tween at a local school. A middle grader. It's as heartbreaking to write here as it was to originally read. 

But what I mostly want to focus on is the message at the end of that status. The author wrote What are we doing?

Yes, what are WE doing? Not them or those people, but WE

The headlines are flooded with gut-wrenching stories of school shootings, accidents, threats, and more of the like. We all hear about tragedies like these, read about them on social media or wherever. And then what happens?

Someone tugs the blame game out and thrusts it back into the spotlight, and we hear that this one is at fault or it's because that one didn't do this. Whatever, already. Accountability is a lost art. In accountability there is honor - a duty to oneself and others to do what is right and just. 

My #IWSG insecurity for this week: our society (not a particular nation, race, religion, culture, etc...), where it's headed, and how we as writers can contribute in positive ways to spread acceptance, diversity, and belief in the greater good. 

Feel free to spread this conversation by tweeting: How can  contribute in positive ways 2 spread acceptance, , & belief in the greater good.    

The purpose of the IWSG is to share and encourage, posting on the first Wednesday of each month. You'll find writer doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Support and a common understanding spread throughout the group as many fellow writers can relate. JOIN in anytime.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

MMGM~WESTLY: A Spider's Tale by Bryan Beus & a GIVEAWAY!

I've been away from my middle grade spotlights for a while, but this is my SECOND released post in the same month. (my earlier post) It's great to be back in the lineup for Shannon Messenger's MMGM! Click HERE for the other participants.

Now those of you who've stalked the Alleyway for a while know that I like all that's spooky, eerie, and goose bump-worthy. I seek out the strange, the silence in the dark, and the squiggly. All except for one majorly, disgusting creepy crawler...Spid... Honestly, I can't even type the word. I do not like those eight-legged thingys. They can turn on a dime and always hide in places you can't quite see into, yet need to get something inside of. 

However ... I just don't have those same feelings when I think about Westly's sweet middle grade tale, which is having his book birthday tomorrow! CONGRATULATIONS to Brian!!!

WESTLY: A Spider's Tale 
by Bryan Beus

Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Released: September 29th, 2015
Pages: 176

I'd like to thank the publisher for supplying me with an eCopy in exchange for an unbiased review.

Favorite Line/Passage: Finally, Westly glanced down and as he did, his eyebrows rose to the top of his head. His hands were not the delicate, elegant hands of a butterfly. His belly was not the soft fuzzy belly of a monarch. His feet were not tapered and clean, but pointy and sharp. His tail was not sleek and long, but bulbous and round. Worst of all, when he looked at his back he saw he was entirely without wings. 

With a scream, Westly realized that his change had gone horribly, terribly, wickedly wrong. (Kindle 18%)

Description: This is tale of a caterpillar named Westly who is destined to be a Monarch butterfly and the next king of the butterfly kingdom. But sometimes things don't turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon he is nothing like he expected. As a spider he must rediscover who he is. Adopted by the "dirt eaters," Westly is determined to make a difference. He is determined to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be. 


My Splats: While you were a child growing up, ever believe you were one thing (type of person, likes, dislikes, etc...), and then, due to some event or circumstance, you came to discover you were not? This pretty much sums up Westly's sudden journey from child to tween.

The writing is very visual, which I especially noted from the first few words of the opening. Any reader will instantly become immersed within the world of these caterpillars. They have a home, a routine, and a hierarchy - on that Westly is very much a part of. He has a distinct voice. It's intelligent, but a little abrasive at first. His view of their world is much different from the butterflies and other caterpillars. He is the prince, after all, which is a lot to shoulder. And being responsible for protecting the Chandelier - their home - is quite a serious job. As the son of the Monarch, he's expected to behave accordingly, when in truth he'd like to be normal and fit in with his friends. Or as his father calls them 'subjects'. 

But if Westly is honest with himself, being son of the king is not the only thing that makes him different. He's always had better physical strength than his friends, jumping higher and enduring longer. And when he wakes up from his cocoon he realizes why.

The doubts and insecurities that have always plagued him squelch his hopes and dreams, as the crowd stares at him. He's always feared disappointing his friends and mostly his father. This surely must be a great disappointment to them. So he makes the decision to leave, thinking he's saving them from such pain.

Along the way, Westly meets fascinating characters from grasshoppers to moths to dragonflies. He learns the world is much larger than the existence he's been living. (It kind of reminded me of when a child leaves and goes off to college. It was that sort of eye-opening adventure.) He undergoes trials and struggles trying to find where he fits in, to find his place in the world. But along this journey, there are also dangers he could have never dreamed of. Westly will learn to decipher these dangers, the people (of nature) involved, and decide how to handle them. He discovers that embracing oneself and one's own talents is where one's importance in life and to others truly lies.

This story is just adorable, filled with rights of passage, the art of true sacrifice, and the love of family. I would recommend this to any middle schooler, really. Any who like a sweet tale that still has some adventure. Oh, and it's also for you, of course! And I believe it would be a fantastic read-a-loud for a classroom!

Westly (1)
Author Bryan Beus Bryan Beus – which rhymes with Zeus – is the winner of the Kirchoff/Wohlberg Award from The New York Society of Illustrators. He works full time as an illustrator for magazines, book covers, film and game conceptual art, and more. When not writing and drawing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Amanda, mindful meditation, drinking root beer floats, and eating far too many Sour Patch Watermelons. Westly is his debut novel. Website * Twitter

$25 Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon eGift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 10/15/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an eGift Card or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So, have you read a middle grade story with a creepy crawly character you just couldn't resist?
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

PRECIPICE by M. Pax~Meet Craze & Rainly, plus a giveaway!

Here on Writer's Alley, Wednesdays are mostly reserved for exploring, celebrating, and challenging all that we've come to know as young adult literature. But just as in other areas of life, pushing beyond our comfort zone can bring us new unexpected life and growth.

you can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward
and uncomfortable when you try something new.
                                                                             ~Brian Tracey

In the literary world, that applies to both writer and reader. So for today let's step out of our Alleyway comfort zone and welcome a couple of out-of-this-world peeps written into an adult world.


Genre: Sci Fi
Series: The Backworlds #6
Released: May 2015
Pages: 255 

Description: In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendants to survive in a harsh universe. This is the sixth book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. A space opera adventure. 

The Backworlds hang by a Quantum string, a thread about to snap. Annihilation is coming if Craze can’t stop it.

The genocidal alien he had trapped breaks free, destroying a ship belonging to the Backworlds’ oldest enemy, the Fo’wo’s. The murderous alien wants to overtake the galaxy. The Fo’wo’s want another war.

The Backworlds’ best chance to survive is to overcome a century of hate and forge an alliance with the Fo’wo’s. Because of his history with the alien, Craze is recruited to represent his people. Now he’s the most hated man in the galaxy.

The looming war will be a holocaust unless Craze can stop it, knowing salvation comes at a price. 

Hi Craze & Rainly! It's been a bit of a wait to feature you, but you're finally here. Woot! Welcome to the Alleyway. Want to share a tidbit about yourselves before we begin?
Craze: Sure. Usually I run a bar on the edge of human expansion in the galaxy. This time, I've been recruited as an envoy to broker an alliance with our most hated enemy.

Rainly: He serves a good drink. I wish I was with him right now. Before I ran off, I repaired ships. Now I'm among the enemy, growing a brain in a box, finding out I am the enemy.

Ooh, ... an alliance with an enemy and growing a brain in a what? Geez, let's get this interview started. Your most desired job in the universe would be..?
Craze: Easy. I'd be the biggest business magnet in all the Backworlds. Rainly: I'm happy wherever the man I love is. Craze is my closest, bestest friend, but not my man.
Craze: Yeah, let's get that straight.

Ow-kay... So if you could be any other fictional character, who would it be and why?
Craze: That billionaire guy with all the control. Control and money. What's not to love? Rainly: Sleeping Beauty has an appeal to me.

Haha! Tell-tale opposites - makes for some serious tension, I'm sure. #cheekygrin

Rainly: Not really.

No? So what do you really think of each other?
Rainly: I don't see why the rest of the galaxy hates Craze. He has the biggest, gooiest heart. He'd do anything for those he loves. I suppose that's why he's working on the alliance with the enemy. None of us will survive without it.

Craze: She talks a lot, but Rainly is too sweet not to love. If she is the enemy, well, that's hard for me to believe.
Yeah, I'm seeing some conflict and tension, but if you two say no we'll move on. What do you both see as your (other) biggest challenge in life?
Craze: Well, since my father threw me out of the house, the village, and my home planet, I've been scrambling to establish a good life. It's hard to build something with nothing. Also that gooey center Rainly mentioned gets in my way. Rainly: I'm part cybernetic with programming and protocols. I fear losing my free will and control of my actions. If I lose those, am I still me or someone else?

Aw, Rainly, you sound conflicted.

Craze: What about me?

I'm sure she's conflicted about you, too. #snort

Rainly: *chuckles*

Craze: Hey....

Just kidding. *bumps Craze in the shoulder* Fun fact: What's you favorite snack?
Craze: Roasted ricklits. I like when the wings and legs get all crunchy. Rainly: Rootbagger stew is more up my alley.

Uh...on that disgusting visual that will haunt me all day long... No really, it's been a blast having you splatter your signatures on the Graffiti Wall. Thank you so much for joining us and a HUGE thanks goes out to your creator, M. Pax!

Mary has been gracious enough to offer up one (1) eCopy of one of her books - winner chooses between any in her Backworlds series (The Backworlds, Stop Over At The Backworlds' Edge, Boomtown Craze, Beyond The Edge, Worlds On Edge, Precipice), Rifters series (The Rifters, The Initiate), The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear, or Semper Audacia!

To ENTER: tell us what your favorite space-age snack would be. Mary will choose a winner, which I'll announce next week! Contest ends 09/29/15.
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