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Friday, August 26, 2011

Where I Got The Idea For The Little Rednecks

Let me start by saying that how I came up with the idea is not pleasant. In fact, it's downright heartbreaking and it made me cry.
I have a niece, she is now 10 years old and her name is Sarah. Sarah was born with a hearing defect that left her almost deaf and she has to wear hearing aids. This little girl is the most caring and thoughful person I've ever known. When the Tsunami hit Japan, she asked her mother to help her bake cookies so she could sell them and send the money to the people of Japan. Every time a disaster hits our country or someone else's, my nieces first thought is, "How can I help them?" and she springs into action, whether it's making cookies or creating buckeye necklaces. She then takes everything she's made and sets up a table wherever she can find people.

On the day that I got the idea, I was at a family cookout. Sarah has two cousins and the three of them were in the backyard. The two cousins were whispering to each other and Sarah's father saw them. He told the girls that it wasn't polite to whisper in front of his daughter. The youngest of the two cousins looked at him and with a snotty look on her face said, "Why? It's not like she can hear us anyway."

Sarah was 7 or 8 at the time and she was totally oblivious to what had just happened. All she wanted to do was hang out with her cousins and it broke my heart. At that moment, I knew this was a story that I had to write. It was a story that needed to be told. I went home and immediately started doing research on bullying. I was shocked by some of the things that I learned. For instance: UNICEF reports show that 16% of able-bodied children are bullied compared to 82% of children with disabilites. That number is horrifying and that is why I wrote The Little Rednecks.

This is not acceptable to me nor should it be to anyone else. Bullying is a major problem and not just in this country. It is a worldwide epidemic and it must stop. If I can empower one child or person through this story then hopefully, I have succeeded in making the world a little better for a child who may be physically challenged.     

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Judging Books By Their Cover And Title

Okay, today I want to talk about book covers and titles. So I will start with a few questions for you. Do you personally judge a book by its cover? Do you judge a book by its title? If you do or have done those things, have you found out later that you had made a mistake, whether it be good or bad. Meaning that you bought the book because of those things and you wished you hadn't or you didn't buy the book because of those things and you later wished you had.

Let's get down to the nitty gritty of this post and the method to my madness for bringing it up. Take a look at the book cover for my debut middle grade novel and then look at the title. What is the first thought(s) that came to your mind? Did you judge my book by its cover? Did you judge my book by its title? If you answer yes, that's okay. I think the majority of readers do.
I'll start with the cover itself. The Little Rednecks and a Town Full of Bullies is about four physically challenged kids and the bullying they face due to their disability. Their adventure takes place inside an abandoned Coal Mine and the entire story takes place in a town called Murray City, Ohio. At one time, Murray City was the largest Coal Mining town in the United States. The title of my book is about a stereotype and the damage it can cause. My title is controversial. I know that. If you look up the definition of a redneck on Wikipedia, the first thing you see is the defamatory description. Over the years, society has taken something good, something to be respected, and turned it into something ugly. Jeff Foxworthy made millions of dollars from doing it. I'm hoping to change that. So, I'm going to give you the definition of the word and its origin.
"The United Mine Workers of America (UMW) and other miner's unions assigned both the term redneck and its symbol, the red bandana, in order to build multiracial unions of white, black, and immigrant miners in the strike-ridden coalfields of northern and central Appalachia between 1912 and 1936. The use of redneck to designate "a union member" was especially popular during the 1920s and 1930s in the coal-producing regions of southern West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and western Pennsylvania where the word came to be specifically applied to a miner who belonged to a union or a striking coal miner. It is almost a given that the word "redneck" originated in strike-ridden coalfields to mean "union miner" independently of its use in the deep south. Clearly, the best explanation of redneck to mean "union man" is that the word refers to the red handkerchiefs that striking union coal miners in both southern West Virginia and southern Colorado often wore around their necks or arms as a part of their informal uniform."

Okay, so there you have it. The bottom line is: I am a proud Appalachian Redneck and my next to the oldest brother worked in the Blue Diamond Coal Mine in Kentucky. When I use the term redneck, it is used with the utmost respect for a designated group of people who worked hard, and more often than not, sacrificed their own lives in order to provide for their families. There is absolutely no shame in that.

As you can imagine, the title of my book has incited quite a few debates with my friends as well as author peers, and some of those conversations got a little heated. I was told that readers will be turned off by the title and walk right by my book in the bookstore. I was told that it is a derogatory word and that I shouldn't use it. I had a woman state that if she saw my book in a store, she would not even look at it because it has the word "redneck" in the title. I've had several people tell me that I need to change my title. I am not a followerer and I never have been. I've never given in to peer pressure, and I'm not going to start now. Those close-minded comments that I listed above are the exact reason I wrote this book and that is why I will not change the title.

I'm going to paste the blurb for my book below. Please read it and afterward, you be the judge. In parting: If you judge a book or a person by their cover, and in my case the title, you just may be missing out on something really special and that is the real shame.

The Little Rednecks and a Town Full of Bullies -

Ten years ago, Arthur “Southpaw” Alexander feared for his granddaughter’s safety when he used magic to hide a mysterious silver case inside the #7 Coal Mine. The events surrounding that fateful day will be revealed on his granddaughter’s thirteenth birthday and he is powerless to stop it.

Joee Alexander, Stump, Wheels, and Sarah are physically challenged and that’s not all the four best friends have in common. They’re bullied on a daily basis, they’ve unknowingly been linked to each other since birth, and they all possess magic abilities they don’t know they have.

Over the course of five days, their lives are changed forever and it all begins when they find an old map, which reveals a maze of secret tunnels, leading to the #7 Coal Mine. Unable to resist an adventure, they join forces to find what they think is hidden treasure.

As the days fly by and the clues unfold, they learn the truth about the mysterious case and their magic powers along with a prophetic destiny that will pit them against a town full of bullies, a corrupt banker who isn’t what he seems, and Maulick, a man so evil, he cannot possibly be from their world. 

The Little Rednecks is about the difficulties physically challenged children face. It highlights the problem with stereotypes and shows bullying at its worst. It is a story about heart and dedication, and the friendship, dreams, and hopes of four physically challenged kids who prove that they really are like every other kid their age.     

To review the full document on Wikipedia -

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Very First Blog - EVER!

Okay, so here goes. I'm new to this blog thingy but I'm gonna give it a shot. I would like for it to be a place of collaboration, thoughts, and ideas on anything that has to do with writing or not :)
I'm gonna talk about the road I've travelled and what it took for me to get published. One of the things that I noticed the entire time I was teaching myself how to write a novel was that I had a very hard time finding examples of pages that were laid out with the proper format. Sure you can find bits and pieces all over the place, and tons, and tons, and tons of advice but then you have to try and put it all together. So, that being said, one of the things I will do, is show actual example pages from my own novels with explicit instructions on how I did it. I wish someone would have done that for me. I haven't yet figured out how to show example pages on here and I'm not sure it's even possible. If not, you may have to swing over to my Web site to see them. They will be there for sure.... Easy web address...

In addition to those types of topics, I'm also going to talk about the steps it has taken me to get to where I am now --- anticipating the debut release of my middle grade novel in e-book form from Fantasy Island Book Publishing to be followed by the print edition.
My writing career began as a screenwriter, which I still am and still do. As a matter of fact, I'm a little screwed up when it comes to writing. When I get an idea for a story, I write it as a screenplay first. If I like it, then I do a reverse adaptation of the screenplay and turn it into a novel. Most writers do it just the opposite. They write a great book and then someone else turns it into a movie - See, I told you I was a little screwed up :)
I will also discuss where I am in writing the 2nd book in the series and if that's not enough, I will be featuring author interviews to keep things interesting.

I will forewarn you though, I have a wicked sense of humor. All good though, no bad stuff.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read my gibberish and welcome to my Blog Thingy :)