Sunday, July 19, 2009

Pythons by the thousands in south Florida!

In an AP article written by Brian Skoloff that appeared in my yesterday’s newspaper: “The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) announced this week that pythons were going to be hunted by snake experts in an effort to eradicate the pythons from hundreds of thousands of acres in south Florida presently infested with them. South Florida and the Everglades National Park may have tens of thousands of pythons.

These snakes were probably both released by individual pet owners who freed their snakes into the wild when they grew too large to keep as pets and Burmese pythons escaped in 1992 from pet shops hit by hurricane Andrew. These snakes have been reproducing in the wild for nearly twenty years, producing as many as 100 eggs at a time, with no natural predators in Florida to control their population.

Experts in the Everglades National Park have captured hundreds of pythons in the park over the past several years. A new program is starting to try to eradicate the pythons before they become established out in the open Everglades where they would have a million acres of habitat. On Friday morning the FWC held a news conference to announce the program and then took reporters by airboats to a hunting camp in the Everglades to show the wetlands habitat to the group. Upon arrival at the camp, a 9 and ½ foot-long python was spotted and captured, within an hour of their first setting out. They had expected it would be highly unlikely to actually see a python since they can be hard to find supposedly. The program will last for months and hopefully reduce the python population significantly.”

Sounds to me like those snakes are already too well established for their numbers to be reduced to the point of near eradication. Those pythons are in south Florida to stay!

I first heard about this situation last fall, 2008. I wrote a poem about it then:
Florida Has Pythons!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Promoting Your Book" Discussion

There is a great, lively on-going discussion on one of the blogs of the 'VBT, Authors on the Move' Yahoo group of the difficulties of self-published authors and authors published by small presses in promoting their books. One major challenge is the poor relationship such authors usually have with the brick-and-mortar bookstores like Barnes & Noble, which refuse to stock their books or often even to allow booksignings by such authors. The comments have been entertaining and enlightening. If interested in this topic, please drop by and join in the discussion.

Crystalee Calderwood- Writer and Poet
I was recently invited to serve as a guest book reviewer for the LL Book Review. My review is now posted. Review # 91:

The book was "Welcome to Grandparenting" by Rosemary Weis & Michelle Johnston. I gave the book a good review because it is filled with tips and suggestions for grandparents, new or experienced. It has advice for all stages of the grandchildren's lives from newborn to going off to college that would, if followed, make the grandparent have a special relationship with their grandchild. It has good advice to make the grandparents work well with the baby's parents as well. Although written to be especially helpful to new grandparents, experienced grandparents will pick up some new ideas also. The book would make a great gift to the soon-to-be grandparent and would a great way to announce the pregnancy to them. All in all, I think I did a good job with my review, and I do recommend this book.

You can check the book out further at

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Gift From Above...Heather Paye's New Novel

In today’s post we take a look at Heather Paye’s first published novel, “A Gift From Above”.

Book description:

Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: March 1, 2009
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1441498389
ISBN-13: 978-1441498380
Book Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
Related Categories: Juvenile Fiction / Family / New Baby

Book's Description:

Celia Meyers gets everything that she wants, but when she requests a sibling and gets it, it's not all that she expected at all. Her parents ignore her and threaten to send her to a "summer camp", and the worst possible things happen to her all of the time. Finally she can't take it anymore, so she confides in her best friend Tommy Hanson about searching for her long-lost nanny Milicent Potter. But when she finds Millie, she learns some disturbing facts that she's not quite sure what to do with.
Celia visits with Tommy and discovers his true feelings towards her. At the ending Celia becomes somewhat of a hero as she saves a young boy in a car accident.
The book starts out when she is 8 and progresses through her life until she is 16.

Heather, what motivated you to write a children’s book?

I know I decided right off that writing something that I enjoy reading would be the best way to go. And that’s basically what I did – I mean do. I write what I like. You can really see how my styles change in the books that I write. Other than that, J.K.Rowling is definitely my role model for writing, and writing a children’s book.

What message or what did you hope to accomplish in your book?

I just wanted to capture how siblings feel towards each other, as well as give parents a glimpse as to what it’s like for the kids, what’s going through their minds, etc. The main message that I had was that there are a lot of kids that are older and they find out that they are going to have another sibling, they automatically think, yay, someone to play with. But, it’s not like that at all, they are very annoying and time consuming, and it is as frustrating as it gets – that is, when things don’t turn out how you expect them to, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. All of the chaos caused by a new sibling does have its unexpected rewards, and I wanted to get that message across too.

Is there anything else about your book that you’d care to add?

I think all of the characters are unique characters that anyone can really relate to in one way or another, and all of them come from different parts of the world, they have different backgrounds but they all come together in this story. I really like that about this story, the characters almost speak for themselves.

A review of ““A Gift From Above”:


Please check out Heather Paye’s book. You’ll be glad that you did, I’m sure.

Where to find Heather’s book:
Amazon Kindle:


Thank you for being my guest this week, Heather. It has been a pleasure getting to know more about you.



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Meet Author Heather Paye

My guest writer this month on our VBT blog tour is Heather Paye, a remarkable young writer whom I’d like you all to get to know better. Please read and find out more about Heather, who has recently published her first novel, “A Gift From Above”.

Heather, please tell us more about yourself, starting with where were you born and where do you live?

I was born in Tucson, Arizona, and I still live there now… or I should say here.

How old are you, and what grade are you now in?

I am 15 years old, and I will be starting 11th grade next fall.

What does your family think about you having published a book?

My family stands behind me 100 percent. My family has given me the love, knowledge, and support that I need to keep my fire burning. At times, I feel that I am not moving fast enough or getting anywhere; and then, someone steps in with another path or idea that I had not thought of. If I need something, anything, my family members are there to assist me any way that they can. I bounce ideas off of my family and they have all done their share of editing and re-editing.

We recently did a book signing and every one in my family pulled together to make my signing a success. We put together bookmarks for each and every book; some members were cutting, laminating, and printing for days. The whole family turned out for the signing including my 8 –month-old, baby sister who smiled and cooed throughout the evening. I consider myself fortunate to have the family that I do because they made me what I am, without them I would be a completely different person.

How did you become interested in writing at such an early age? Does anyone else in your family write?

Well, boredom always sparks creativity for me. I remember the very first time I started writing a story, I was sitting down at my computer (this is before I had the Internet) and I wanted to be creative, I wanted to write something, so I opened up Microsoft Word and I wrote. What got my interest in writing was J.K.Rowling; her Harry Potter series inspired me so much. I read an article about her, and then I found out anyone can write. Before that I really thought that you had to be someone special to write a book, the president’s daughter or something, I didn’t know that anyone could try their hand at writing. And that’s what made me want to write, that’s why I started.

Yes, actually, my sister has this wonderfully creative Stephen King mind, and she’s as clever as it gets, and she’s always writing something, she’s also a great artist. And my mom, she writes too, she’s equally as wonderful as my sister, not half as demented, probably completely the opposite in her writing. I’m trying to think of words to describe it, it’s just close to the heart writing, just brilliant writing. My little brother isn’t quite old enough to write yet, but I really think he’s going to get the writing bug after he gets his spelling down, he’s almost there, but not quite yet. He has a great imagination; I get a lot of my inspiration from him.

My grandfather always kept a journal and inspired my mother to keep one too. I owe the honor of my great imagination to my grandmother who passed that down to my mother and then to me. The gift to dream and daydream came from a long line of dreamers and thinkers. Before I started writing I used to daydream quite a bit (and still do), my mother always told me that my head was always in the clouds. I live in a very small town and almost nothing ever happens here, except for when you open your eyes and look around with a writer’s mind. Yes, I would definitely say that boredom was one of the main contributing factors to my becoming a writer. I just cannot sit still and do nothing – ever.

What were the first things (poems, short stories, essays, etc) you started out writing?

First I started writing lyrics, just short little silly songs. I think one year I did a Harry Potter version of Jingle Bells… yeah, that was creepy. But, anyways, then I started writing short stories, and I wrote about two short stories before I wanted to write something bigger and better… Novels. I was 9 going on 10 years old when I started writing my first novel. I worked on it for 4 or 5 years – I think – before I finished it, which includes the editing. And then about a year later, I got interested in writing poetry. Oh, and this year I just finished a script.

What are your future writing plans? Anything currently in the works?

Yes, I actually have quite a few books in the works, I have a series of nine books that I’m working on called the Artifact Series. The first one is done and currently being looked over by publishers, the second book is still in the writing stage, but it’s about ¾ done right now. And, I get this question a lot, so I’m just going to answer it now, the titles of the books are: The Jewel of Onsolot, The Cloak of Erason, The Ring of Tellisgera, The Shield of Manicoli, The Sword of Anoshea, The Dragon of Landon, The Elves of Nardia, The King of Illion, and The Bracelet of Deloia. I also have a book in the works about a girl turning into a werewolf; no title for it yet.

What role do you envision for writing in your career as an adult?

Well, unless I turn out to be the next Nora Roberts, J.K.Rowling, or Stephanie Meyers, I’m probably going to be a part-time writer and full-time Game Designer. I couldn’t imagine a life without writing… at all, it’s just a dark and scary place.

What kind of writer do you consider yourself to be primarily, i.e. poet, short story writer, novelist, etc? What genre(s) do you write in?

I’d say novelist, I can live without writing lyrics, I can live without writing poems, but I can’t live without writing novels. Sometimes Horror, Drama, Drama, Drama (I have to have drama), Mystery/ Suspense, Children’s, Fantasy, Folklore, Teen, Tragedy, etc. What I don’t write is Sci-Fi, or anything non-fiction.

What challenges have you encountered as a young writer?

My challenges are mostly difficulties that I’ve overcome along the way to my publishing success. Issues that I’ve overlooked, etc., Writing takes quite a thick hide to stay in the business. First of all, you have to be able to take criticism with a grain of salt. Many reviewers can be quite harsh on your writing, and I learned to not take things too personal regarding my writing. Becoming a good writer also takes discipline and good planning. In order to meet a deadline and stay successful, you need to learn how to keep an exact record of how many pages or words to be completed on any given day.

Writing is a job and requires work. I learned to push and to push hard at an early age to be taken serious by fellow writers and publishers, usually two or even three times my age. I get mixed emotions when it comes to gaining the respect of other writers. Sometimes, I have to earn my place within the writing community. Every door that opened, I went in with gusto, asking questions and learning more every step of the way. After talking with me, many people comment they cannot believe that I am such a young person.

Writing is in my heart; I want this more than any thing. My drive comes from within. I am not going away any time soon. In addition to writing my novel series, I took on Nanowrimo last November and that is what created my current novel, “A Gift From Above”. I wrote the book in thirty days. Previous to the novel, I enrolled and successfully completed some college level writing courses at the Writing Academy online. A year ago I joined and became a “newbie” member. Shortly after joining the group, I saw many good writers losing their memberships simply because they were unable to pay their dues. After some consideration, I started a group to help pay for the membership fees of the writers in need. My successful group became known as H.U.G.S (Heather’s Upgrade Giving Service). My group has never had to turn any one down for a membership to date. As a result, I learned to multi-task and multi-task fast.

While completing the aforementioned challenges, I continuously labored on my “first love”, my series of nine books. While pushing to publish or find a publisher to take on a teenage writer, I continued to edit and re-edit the first book and write the second. Now, if all of these above-mentioned challenges are not enough, I keep up with home-schooling and recently held my first book signing at our local middle school. I simply cannot wait to see what path life takes me on next. Come on world; I am ready.

I see that you have written some poetry and posted it on-line. Would you please share one of your favorites from your poems?

Sure! This is one of my favorite poems; it’s called “Peaceful”.

Look at you, look at me,
What big difference do you see?
I am me. You are you.
What did I ever do?

You've grown you've seen,
But all you can do is be mean.
You're peaceful now.
But I'm hurt somehow.

You don't understand anymore.
You're eyes are hidden behind doors.
Why do you criticize me?
I'm just here; just trying to be.

I've never done anything wrong,
So why won't you let me sing my song?
I'm not as evil as I seem.
My blooming heart sparkles and gleams.

So please don't be scared of me!
I'm harmless you see.
Please, I want to be peaceful you already are.
So why is it my heart you have to scar?

Now look at you, look at me.
What big difference do you see?

Is there anything else you would like the readers to know about you?

I love to learn something new, and am always ready and willing to make new friends, so feel free to stop by my blog and leave a comment or two! I’m always happy to hear from people and willing to give advice and receive it. Don’t be intimidated by me just because I’m an author.

Heather Paye’s blog:

Heather Paye’s website: (I just have a fansite for my book right now, and it currently serves as both fansite for my book and fansite for me)

Heather Paye’s email:

Where to find Heather’s book:
Amazon Kindle:

And I’m hoping to turn it into an audio book soon.

Whew! I hope you read all the way to the end so as to learn all the details about this fascinating young writer, Heather Paye. Please come back in two days to learn more about Heather’s book, “A Gift From Above”.