Special Guest: Braxton A. Cosby Shares His Writing Endeavors

I am so honored and thrilled to play host today to Dr. Braxton A. Cosby. You’ve heard of his uncle–the beloved Bill Cosby–and Dr. Cosby, like his uncle, seeks to make the world a better place through his experience and influence. His latest adventures include writing Young Adult fiction. ProtoStar, book #1 of his Star-Crossed Saga is due out next year. Check it out on Goodreads by clicking HERE. And coming soon–VERY soon–is his novel The School of Ministry: The Windgate. Below, Cosby explains just what this book is about, and gives us some insights into his writing process and goals as an author.

Dr. Cosby and I connected on Twitter–isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing? Therefore, through some messaging, I have the awesome privilege of reading and reviewing an ARC of The Windgate, and will post as soon as I’m finished with it. But now, without further ado, I’ll hand you all over to Dr. Cosby so you can find out more about him through an interview we conducted via e-mail:

BraxtonBIO: Dr. Braxton A. Cosby received his doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Miami and has been an experienced clinician for over 12 years. He is also a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist. He currently co-hosts a weekly radio show with Jamie Dukes on Atlanta’s own 1380 WAOK called “Ask The Fat Doctors” where they discuss current events and matters of health and wellness. Braxton (A.K.A. the FatDoc) runs his own blog called “Cosby’s Corner”, where he dishes on almost everything from books and movies, to fitness and sports. He also models, acts, and is an award-winning Young Adult author.

Interview

TH: Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

BC: Well, admittedly, my knack for storytelling is definitely in the genes. My Uncle has been doing stand-up for years where he shares his tales of fatherhood and family. My stories probably parallel his in some aspects because the focus is on values of accountability and the importance of making the right choices and accepting the consequences.

TH: What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

BC: I think it is so important for people to share their culture with everyone. There is such a big world out there, with communities of people that can be appreciated from various aspects. Storytelling is a great way to share that with others. I try to write stories that have people everyone can relate to in some way beyond color and ethnicity. The focuses of my books are to pull people in to the personalities of the characters and the hope is that people will identify with them in some way or another.

TH: What does your writing process “look” like? How do you get your ideas and inspiration? 

BC: I start with an outline and I brainstorm ideas that I think would be interesting to the story and see if they fit. The characters have to fit, the setting has to make sense, and the ending has to be engaging. If it all works, then I start to piece it together and make it flow from beginning to end. Moving things around as I write has become a practice that although slightly painful at first, is much appreciated once it is executed and smoothed out.

TH: What is the genre in which you write and why did you choose it?

BC: I love Young Adult. I have to admit that I still envy young folks. The more that I am around them I appreciate the essence of being young. The responsibilities are less, the feeling of invincibility is there and the lack of cynicism is daunting. I love the way our young people today are so accepting of each other’s differences. It’s not perfect, but overall, they are so much less serious as generations past. I think that’s why they can lose themselves in books so easily. The pitch to them is ridiculously less nerve-racking as speaking to adults.

SOM Book cover 720 x 480 Centered grey JPEGcompressedTH: You live a busy life. How long did it take to finish The School of Ministry: The Windgate and did you ever strike a balance between writing and all your other commitments? 

BC: Wow. It is kind of crazy. I do have the gift of “Stick-to-it-ness” and that’s what helps me stay focused. SOM probably took 3 months to complete the first rough draft (one that I thought was the final draft). Then, the much needed editing process: probably another 2 months.

Navigating the schedule is something that has become an artwork. I have so many plates spinning at once that I wonder how I get through it all. But I just add things as necessary and let God sort out what needs to go. Who knows what task or project is going to be the next big thing.

TH: Can you briefly tell us what the book and the series are about?

BC: It’s the spiritual successor of The Harry Potter Series, in a nutshell. Orphan Ziv, trying to find the meaning of life, is recruited by a secret society when his lifelong friend and crush goes missing. They ask him to join them in their quest to hunt down evil and protect the weak, promising to help him find his friend.

Along the way, he learns that he has gifts and talents of his own that must be perfected if he is to both survive and find the things he is looking for: love and the truth. There’s a wonderful triple love triangle that evolves, awesome action scenes, and comical dialogue throughout the book. Even though the story is told through Ziv’s perspective, the development of the other characters in the story is what I’m the most proud of.

TH: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?  

BC: Tell a fresh, new story, that hadn’t been told before. Also, give young people something that was sleek and unique, that incorporates spirituality as being both real and cool. I think I came close.

TH: How does your book relate to your spiritual practice?

BC: Believing as much as possible; without always having the visual proof that there is a plan in place that is directing your life. Sometimes road maps are best left at home and that voice that speaks to you at the times when you most feel discouraged could ultimately be the only directive you’ll ever receive. Life is tough, but the decision to Choose is the most essential component of our fate.

TH: What are your thoughts on writing a book series and what will we see from you in your literary future?

BC: Love it or leave it. It is a huge endeavor because you are always thinking ahead as you write. Do I save this for part three, or put it in part two? How do I introduce this character, and can I kill off this one here? Wait a minute, that’s one of the main focuses of part five! It can be kind of crazy. But once you structure the thing, there is nothing that has been more rewarding in my professional career.

SOM has five planned books, while The Star-Crossed Saga (coming in early 2014) is a trilogy. I will be adding short books in between to give more background on characters and settings to keep readers interested. I have a lot of plans for each series. 

TH: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

BC: Some of the toughest criticism is when people make statements about your work without offering objective examples. I don’t mind the comments, but show me in the work where it is so that I can possibly make it better. Nobody’s perfect and I’d like to make something that is my best effort. In the midst of the criticism, hopefully I can find some positive takeaways that can make the stories better and me a better writer. 

Best compliment: A recent reviewer said that SOM was fresh and new; they hope they can have the opportunity to review the next installment. That’s exactly what I want people to get from it. 

TH: What is your favorite book and why?

BC: The Hunger Games. I’ve only read the first two because I am trying to follow as close to the movies as I can. Suzanne Collins is a literary “beast”. Her writing is magnificent!

TH: How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

BC: Prayer from my grandmother, love from my mother, support from my wife, and a whole heck of a lot of perseverance. Life is not easy by any haul and I know that I’ve earned my way to the point I am today. I love what I do.

TH: What advice can you offer to aspiring and/or struggling writers?

BC: Find a story, don’t re-write one. Believe in what you have come up with and choose a path to publication. Don’t let it choose you. You have to decide why you are writing in the first place. Beyond the money and fame lies the true essence of a story that will move minds and hearts.

TH: Anything else you would like to share?

BC: Thank you for the interview Tamar, and for those who have connected with me: I hope you enjoy everything I’m giving to the world today.

 

Find Dr. Braxton A. Cosby at these sites:

Series website: www.theschoolofministry.com

Twitter: @Cosbykid_Fatdoc

Website: www.braxtoncosby.com

Blog: www.cosbyscorner.com

Special Guest: Alan S. Blood

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Alan S. Blood, author of Once Upon a Castle. Below is information about his book, as well as some background information on the author himself. Hope you’ll check out his book. Enjoy!

Capturing the Castle (How “Once Upon a Castle” was born)

On a bitterly cold, November afternoon, I found myself stranded near Bamburgh Castle on the wild Northumberland coast whilst the local, old fashioned garage, with tall petrol pumps, repaired my broken-down car.

The delicate, somewhat bright, late autumn sunlight created an eerie, pastel coloured scene, albeit tempered by a biting breeze, yet quite magical, certainly ancient, and almost ethereal.

Vikings have landed here,’ I told myself scanning the unique white beaches below the hazy castle ramparts. It was one of those strange experiences that triggered the imagination and I could see a Scandinavian longship coming ashore, disgorging horned-helmeted warriors seizing the beach before storming inland to ravage the sparse Saxon populace. I could feel that there was a tale to be told.

With the genesis of a story in my mind, I conducted research into Northumbrian castles and was intrigued to discover there was another ruined castle along the coast. This gave me a plot basis involving two castles, one of which was real and the other a phantom! Ideas built as I thought this was an area to where children were evacuated during World War II.

Things shaped towards an exciting novel for young adolescents involving twelve-year-old twins, Tom and Mary (to appeal to both sexes) who dread being sent from southern England to Aunt Victoria’s Northumberland farm. Yet she proves to be young, and fun, until lessons are arranged with a terrible private tutor, Miss Urquart. Their London Uncle Toby had said: “There will be castles to explore with ghosts and things.”

Teenage rebelliousness ensues as the twins escape and riotous, scary adventures involving castles, Vikings and even the Royal Navy begin.

“Once Upon a Castle” is republished by USA publisher GMTA Publishing under their imprint, Mythos Press.

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Synopsis: Uncle Toby had said that there would be castles to explore, with ghosts and things. This helps to cheer up the glum twelve-year old Lovell twins, Tom and Mary, leaving their schools and loving parents to be evacuated to wild Northumbria during World War II. Then the adventure begins.

They live with their Aunt Victoria and Uncle Leslie, meet the loveable ‘Mrs M’, a strange dog called ‘Scamp’ and, worst, the terrible private tutor, Miss Urquart, from whom they run away to find a mysterious castle seen through an old telescope.

Now they are drawn into bizarre supernatural events of a time-warp between the war itself and ancient warfare. They encounter dark forces, as the story twists and turns, and are even rescued by the Royal Navy. Yet, this is only the beginning of more unexpected tragedies before the twins begin to escape from it all.

About Alan S. Blood

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Alan S. Blood worked in the British Civil Service, Advertising and journalism (edited three publications) before qualifying as a Teacher from the University of Reading, England. He enjoyed a long, distinguished career in the Teaching Profession, in both Primary and Secondary levels of education, in several parts of the UK – which eventually led to Senior Management. His main subject area was English and, at one time, he was Head of English and Drama. Throughout, he gained considerable knowledge of literature that children and adolescents enjoy.

Alan now devotes his time to writing novels, plays, screenplays and poetry. He won top award in the ‘Hastings International Poetry Festival’ (2003) with his controversial ‘litter’ poem ‘CONTRITE CAN CANNOT’. The paranormal genre features in much of his prose work.

ONCE UPON A CASTLE is a ghost story written for young people (but also enjoyed by adults) set in World War 11. It concerns both a real and a phantom castle based upon Alan’s experience of strange castles on the wild Northumbrian coast of England on cold, dark wintry afternoon.

Alan Blood has widely travelled the world and undertook research in Chile where some of his supernatural crime thriller ‘CRY OF THE MACHI A Suffolk Murder Mystery’ is set. He was previously a Cotswold Morris Dancer and the novel is a conflict between the forces of good and evil linking a Chilean ‘Machi’ and ‘organised crime’ to murders in a Suffolk Morris Men side.

Alan enjoys wildlife photography in the Welsh countryside, painting and scraperboard engraving. He lives in a Victorian (1873) house below the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales.

Connect With Alan:

Websitehttp://www.alansblood.co.uk/

Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5068714.Alan_S_Blood

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Alan-S-Blood-AUTHOR/237585902938877

Facebook Like Pagehttps://www.facebook.com/OnceUponACastle

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/AlanSBlood

Buy the Book:

Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-Castle-Alan-Blood/dp/1478306750/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1357603197&sr=8-3&keywords=once+upon+a+castle

Barnes & Noblehttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/once-upon-a-castle-alan-s-blood/1112345687?ean=9781478306757

Createspacehttps://www.createspace.com/3947440

Kobohttp://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Once-Upon-a-Castle/book-540nsPe1AEGmScLmvz8ulg/page1.html?s=6IoRz8t4WECzM-9ZzI0wQQ&r=1

 

Ermagherd…Erm Gering Ter Bersten! (OMG I’m Going to Boston!)

It’s been a while since I’ve written and I’m not going to put myself down for that. Settling into a new position at work has been a huge task–rewarding, but there’s quite a bit on my plate. However, I have some really exciting news! I will be going to Boston, next week, and will be at quite a few events for my debut novel, Feast Island! For a complete list of events, feel free to check out my website: http://www.tamarhela.com/events/

One of my first events will be with the Brookline Public Library. Check out the details here: http://bit.ly/VRywtq

It’s still just sinking in that I’m going to these different events, speaking to people, and being asked questions about my writing process, and about my inspirations, and about my thoughts on literature. I mean, really? Am I that interesting? I sure hope so. I’m not “important” or an “anybody” in the literature world in any regard; I’m simply a girl who has followed her heart and made something uncommon happen: I wrote a novel and had it published. Either way, I am very excited about going to speak to teens especially, and encouraging them to take hold of one of my mantras: “Dream big.”

I will also be vacationing for the first time in over a year–which is much needed! One of my very good friends is getting married in Boston next Sunday and I can’t wait to see her in her beautiful dress, and have a great time with friends that I’ve known for years. After that, my mom, her best friend, and I will be making a short and sweet trip to NY and leave from there to go home. It’s going to be great.

One of my friends, whom I affectionately label as my Cabana Boy, will be traveling with me the first few days in Boston. He’s going to watch out for me and help me with all my events. Rock star material, right there! 🙂 I sure hope he can put up with me, ha! And my other lovely friend, who is not able to join us on the trip, is the one who coordinated these exciting events for me! I am so grateful and can’t wait to see where this all leads.

When I visited Boston about two and a half years ago, I fell in love with the city. If I ever had to relocate to somewhere in the States from the Silicon Valley, I’d shoot for Boston. It’s just such a cool place. I’m definitely looking forward to going back and showing my family and friends a city that I love. If any of you blog followers are on the East Coast and want to meet me, I’d love to see you at one of the events! Hopefully this blog will be a little more active next week–I’ll be posting pictures and sharing stories. Until the next post, I leave you with a beautiful shot of the Charles River, during sunset, I took in 2010. Cheers!