28 September, 2012

#NGotB :: New Girl on the Blog - 2



Debbie Brown @ Amethyst Eyes

I am a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature, and presently following an advanced course for selected graduates, which will be completed this fall.
I have been traipsing around the depths of my imagination for as long as I can remember and began writing stories back when I was twelve. I love to read just about anything, from technical manuals to self-help, sci-fi to romance. I do avoid anything overly violent or graphic and have never been a fan of horror. I have a good memory and vivid imagination so I avoid reading or watching things I don't want stored in my mind. 
Amethyst Eyes is my first published novel. It is about a 15-year-old boy who has to leave his life behind to go live with his father after losing his mother in a tragic accident. Although the setting becomes sci-fi (since his father is not from Earth and Tommy has to live on his 
father’s space ship), the story is more about growth and human interaction. There is a lot of adventure and a few twists to keep the readers busy throughout the book.
Over the years I have worked as a nurse, a school teacher, a martial arts instructor, baseball, figure-skating and gymnastics coach as well as an artist, selling paintings in an art gallery. I have been part of an orchestra, flown planes and gone on wilderness hikes. I am an officer in the Canadian Forces, and though I have taught on different military bases, for now I work primarily with cadets. Writing full time is my next goal.
Never having been much of a city girl, I live with the youngest of my four children, my husband Jean-Pierre, and all of our pets in the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec. I could not imagine life without the beauty found in the trees, mountains and lakes that surround me. I enjoy the change in season's and my perfect cure for a long winter's night is curling up in front of a fire with a good book while snowflakes drift slowly past the window.

Welcome to ‘New Girl on the Blog’ Debbie. Tell us, how long have you been blogging? Why & how did you start your blog?
Thank you for having me!  My blog will be celebrating its first birthday on Dec. 20th, and I started the blog following the release of my first novel, Amethyst Eyes. I share bits on writing and what comes after, promote fellow authors and learn as I go along. As for HOW…like everything else I have undertaken building my author platform, I just did it and learned as I went along. I have never had an easy time with computers, so it was quite a challenge…add to that the fact that I can’t type, and you have an idea. (I am getting better, but it’s a work in progress).

Tell us a bit about the ‘Debbie’ outside blogosphere. What is she like? What are her likes and dislikes?
I have worn many hats, or rather uniforms, in my lifetime, so ‘Debbie’ has been Nurse, Captain, Sensei, Teacher, Coach and so much more.  I love to learn, and believe, or at least hope, I will keep on learning until I die.  Teaching also comes naturally, and I love to watch someone discover something new and amazing.
I have four children, three are grown, and my husband and I decided to do it all over again… easier for him than me ;o)
I am a country girl, I need my mountains and lakes, and I live happily nestled in the middle of it all. 
I can fly a plane, drive a truck and repair a car. I love cooking, carpentry, painting, and sewing, and can knit a decent sweater. I love music, Country and Irish would be my favorites.  I can play several instruments, but my son is a most amazing musician, singer/songwriter.
AS for dislikes…living in the city would kill me, and I dislike anything superficial.

Do you keep making changes to the look and feel / layout and design of your blog? OR, do have you stuck to the same design from the beginning?
My blog has pretty much remained the same since I started it, although I am bringing about some changes, starting with the launch of my website. I really enjoy promoting fellow authors and bloggers, though not all of them are suitable for a YA writing blog. The blog carries the name of my first novel, and I have young people stopping by, so I want to keep it user friendly.

What, according to you, is the best ‘feature’ of your blog? The one thing that anybody visiting your blog MUST check out?
Hmmm, I guess I’ll have to add one of those, LOL. I guess it depends on what you are looking for… if it’s tips for writers, bloggers or just information on my books, there’s a little of it all.

So, tell us about your books - Amethyst Eyes & Emma. 
Amethyst Eyes is about 15-year-old Tommy, who had been living in the Canadian Rockies with his mother until a car crash took her from him.  The arrival of Tommy’s estranged father brings about more changes than the teen is prepared for. His father is not from Earth, and he lives onboard his Crisis-Intervention space ship that Tommy must now call home. Adapting to a new parent, home, technology and friends, while dealing with the loss of his home and mother is a lot to ask a teen, and this story brings you through each of the steps as Tommy struggles to find his place. Jayden, has been tasked with helping the “half-breed” fit in, and she does not hide the fact that it was the last thing she wanted to be saddled with. You discover the new world and its new rules along with him…and find out a little about the legend around those born with Amethyst Eyes.

Amethyst Eyes has now been out for a year, and Amethyst Eyes, the Legend Comes to Life, the second book in the series will be making its appearance before year’s end. Three years after his arrival onboard, Tommy begins Specific Training to assume his place in his father’s society. The transition to adulthood, laden with unexplored emotions and overwhelming responsibilities, have made this unstoppable change too much to handle. Tommy wants to go back home, to Earth, to a way of life he’d been forced to leave behind. An unforeseen attack on his father, a disaster on Earth, and the added weight of responsibility take their toll on the young man, who suddenly finds himself struggling to save the ones he loves. 

Emma is not a YA book, but rather Women’s lit, as it tells the story of Tommy’s parents through his mother’s eyes. We go back some 17 years and learn why Emma had returned back home to her parent’s place in the Rockies, how she finds Dthau-Mahsz after his vessel crashes nearby, and how they forge a friendship that grows into a relationship. 

Your blog’s name, Tommy & Emma’s latest charge – all have one thing in common - Amethyst Eyes. I don’t think it’s a coincidence – what’s the story there & why Amethyst?
Although Tommy’s father is not from Earth, I based my story on a legend, shared by Native Americans, some African tribes and Egyptians, claiming our forefathers came from a planet around the Dog Star, Sirius. Therefore, his people (the father’s) are very similar to humans, being from the same stock. Tommy, like his father, has Amethyst Eyes. This is rare, even amongst his father’s people, and every person born with Amethyst Eyes has some heightened ability. There is a race of people, the Binari, who believe they have powers and want them, especially Tommy’s, because according to legend, he has an added something special. (Don’t want to spoil it).

What is the most difficult stage for a writer? Coming up with a plot or writing the draft or editing or getting published or the marketing?
Personally, when it came to writing Amethyst Eyes, it was trusting what was going on. I did not plan events, characters or anything in advance. I had written a short story about Tommy some 10 years before I sat down to write the book, and when I did commit to the novel, it took on a life of its own.  I felt like an observer, at times unable to type as fast as the scene was unfolding, and all I did was put the story to paper. I remember one scene that had me resisting writing it, because I couldn’t figure out what it was doing in the book…it came out of nowhere, but I wrote it as it played out, and I’m glad I did. 
I think the most difficult would be marketing. Today, it doesn’t matter how you publish, if you want to get your book out there, then you –as an author, have to roll up your sleeves and put in the hours. It’s not a one-time thing either, it’s a daily ongoing effort.

Which do you prefer – Hardcover or paperback or eBooks? And why?

Oh, how I love my books…all books, every book. I love hardcovers because you can remove and protect the jacket. The rigid cover protects the pages, but they are heave and not easy to ‘discretely’ drag along. (I am unable to leave home without a book or two).  I  love the smell of books and although paperbacks make up the bulk of my collection, I have to admit that the portability of my kindle makes it a great thing…I have over a thousand books on one ereader…I also own a SONY. I still but books, REAL ones, every chance I get…which is pretty often.

I had been in a swamp, waiting for cadets to find me as an orienteering exercise…but there was this one sun spot, and I had my kindle, wrapped tightly I n a plastic bag (just in case), so I read most of the day :o).

Has blogging changed/influenced your personal reading habit?
Maintaining a blog is time consuming, which inevitably cuts into my reading time…you know, the free time between midnight and three A.M., the time we waste sleeping…
Yes, it has had a direct impact on my reading. Some of the authors I host have asked me to read and review their books, so this makes me put off reading my own selection.

If you could be any fictional character of your choice – who would you be and why?
Having read so many books makes the choice very difficult.  I’m sure my choice would change daily, but at this moment, I would choose Sam Becket, from Quantum Leap, for his ability to travel through time and help others. Harry Potter, so I could experience the world of magic. Actually, just being me in any of the books would be great…from Star Trek to Westerns, and a few in between. 

If you had to read a single book for the rest of your life – which book would you choose and why?
If there were to be only one then I would pick Spiritual Growth, by Sanaya Roman. Food for thought, visualization exercises…helping you to be a better person and lead a better life. 

If you had the chance to rewrite a story, which one would you choose & what changes would you make to it?
Your question made me laugh…because there is one in particular I remember…Message in a Bottle by Nicolas Sparks. I had seen the movie before reading the book, but I came away so outraged by the ending that I bought the book so I could tear it out and rewrite it.  It’s almost as though this author had a sadistic side to his writing.

     Waking up in the hospital from the car accident that claimed his mother’s life, 15-year-old Tommy is told his father is on his way. Unaware of his father’s true identity or the reason he left so long ago, the teen is unprepared for the reality of the life he must now lead. In the blink of an eye Tommy finds himself on an alien vessel…his father is not from Earth!
    The challenges Tommy face go beyond adapting to a new home and school. But first, he has to survive Jayden…the reluctant, unsympathetic tutor, tasked to help him fit in. When he finally thinks things are getting better, things come crashing down as he learns that being born with amethyst eyes has made him the target of some very unfriendly beings.

An Excerpt

“Hold on!” Tommy’s mother yelled as she tried to steer their old Cherokee from the truck’s path. Tommy never saw it coming. It was just there, on the wrong side of the road and out of control.
     “Mom?” Closing his eyes tight, he grabbed hold of the arm she placed across his chest to shield him from the crash, and as suddenly as the truck had appeared, his world went black.
     The smell of the smoke was the first thing he noticed. Opening his eyes, he saw that they were still in the jeep. What was left of it. His entire body screamed with pain as he tried to move. “Mom,” he called. She was pinned to her seat by the steering wheel. A trickle of blood ran from the corner of her mouth.
     “T-om-my,” she managed. 
     Tears filled his eyes. Don’t die, he thought to himself. Removing his seatbelt, he attempted to slide closer to her. A sharp stab of pain surprised him, releasing a wave of dizziness. Sweat beaded on his forehead. “Mom…”
     Stirring ever so slightly, she tried to speak. Her voice was barely a whisper. “Join…the…p-pen-dant.” The effort seemed to cost her greatly. She coughed and let out a small cry as she slipped into unconsciousness.
     Tommy’s mind raced. The pendant, the pendant. He knew what she meant, he just never believed it. He thought she was joking when she said it was their 911 line to his father. Forcing himself to focus, he pulled on her chain until he located the clasp. Sliding it open and removing the chain, he secured it around his neck. Then he proceeded to join the two stone halves. Would his father come? Where was he? What had Mom meant when she told me ‘you will know your father’s world soon enough’?
     A burst of coloured light filled the car. Tommy dropped the pendant as if it had suddenly become too hot to handle. Before the pendant hit his chest, the molecules shifted, rendering it invisible. He knew now that his father would come. Another wave of dizziness hit as he gazed one last time at his mother.
     “I love you, Mom,” he whispered as darkness claimed him.

     Tommy’s stomach knotted as he recognized the antiseptic smell that could only belong to a hospital. Opening his eyes, the memory of the accident came slowly back. He began to cry. The heart monitor raced in response to the sudden onrush of emotion, and he couldn’t control the sobs that took hold of his body. He didn’t try to either.
     A nurse stepped in to check on him. After a quick evaluation, she wrapped her arms around him tight, and without saying a word, let him grieve over his loss. 
     When the tears were all but spent, Jenna (according to her name tag) brushed the hair from his forehead. He felt so empty and alone, even in the comfort of her arms. His breaths caught sharply when she gently repositioned the brace around his shattered leg, but he said nothing.         
     “I’m so sorry for your loss,” she said in a soft voice. She helped him settle back in the bed, stood and checked on his various tubes and wires. “Your father has contacted us

and will arrive in a few days.” Pulling a pad from her pocket, she checked her notes.
 “You aren’t due for more pain medication for another hour.” She shoved the paper back in her pocket. “But if the pain is too intense, I can-”
     “I don’t want it.” He cut her off.
     She smiled in a gentle manner. “Well, we’ll wait and see, ok?”

     On the day of his father’s arrival, Tommy stood in the bathroom with the help of his crutches and examined his features closely. He wondered how much he looked like his father. Did he have the same amethyst eyes, or the strange gold highlights in his hair? The glow of the overhead bulb seemed to accentuate the unearthliness of his most prominent features.
     Jenna poked her head into the room. “Are you ready?”
     He avoided her gaze. “I still have a few things to pack.”
     “To meet your father, I mean.” Without missing a beat, she walked over to him, placed his hair quickly and proceeded to escort him to the door.
     “I can’t.” He stopped before stepping out into the hall. “He left almost thirteen years ago. I don’t even remember what he looks like. I was only two...” his voice trailed off.
     Jenna placed a comforting hand on his arm. “He’s as nervous as you are, and I don’t think you’ll have any trouble recognizing him. Let’s go, gorgeous.” She winked at him in an attempt to lighten the mood, but her support and reassurance were genuine. 
Jenna led Tommy to a private lounge where a tall, uniformed man stood by the window, looking out over the city. Tommy didn’t recognize the blue-and-black uniform but thought nothing of it. The commander turned at the sound of the door opening, and two sets of amethyst eyes met for the first time in years. A silent exchange of acknowledgement passed between the two. 
     Jenna stood, hands on hips. “Now don’t tell me you’re one of those cold military types who can’t risk an emotional display by hugging a son you haven’t seen in years.” 
Jenna’s outburst caused the commander to blush ever so slightly. He made his way over to his son. Tommy let his crutches fall to the floor as he held tight to his father.
     “Leave us,” the commander ordered with no room for discussion. He lifted Tommy’s chin and examined him closely. “I am saddened at the loss of your mother. This was not how we had planned it.”
     “What do you mean?” Tommy’s could barely get the words out.
     “Come, sit.” A strong arm held Tommy by the waist, and guided him to the couch.    Taking a deep breath the commander continued, “As you know, your mother and I are of different origins. She chose not to follow me but to remain here and raise you until the age of eighteen. At this point, I was to return and give you the choice of worlds.”
     “The choice of worlds?” Tommy repeated. “I’d never even thought about a military career.” Why would his father talk about this now?  “How far were you stationed that you couldn’t even write?” Painful questions Tommy usually avoided were beginning to stir inside. 
     A look of surprise crossed the commander’s face. Releasing the breath he had been holding he said, “I see your mother has not prepared you for this at all.” He passed a hand over his mouth and then tapped his watch twice.
     “Yes, Commander?” A man’s voice filled the room.
     “Molecular transport, on my mark.” Standing, he helped Tommy to his feet and collected the crutches. “I will show you my world, and I will explain.” 
     Confused, Tommy nervously accepted his father’s support.
     Holding his son tight, the commander gave the order.
     Tommy blinked as everything around him faded. He was no longer in the hospital lounge but on a raised platform at the back of a square, unadorned room. A shimmering glass wall separated them from the two men who sat at some kind of computer console. He froze in place. This was not possible. “Father…” Tommy whispered.
     “All clear, Commander,” one of the two men said. 
     His father nodded to the officer. “Follow me,” he said to Tommy. 
     Tommy couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. He was trying to process what had just happened, but his mind wasn’t able to accept it. His heart rate shot up and his legs felt weak.
     “Do you require assistance?” his father asked.
     Forcing himself to focus, Tommy shook his head ‘no’ and hobbled forward. 
     “We will take it slow, one step at a time.” His father helped him down from the platform, and they stepped out of the room into a brightly lit, ice-blue corridor. “Are you able to walk, or would you prefer we-”
     Tommy cut him off. “I can walk.” He took a few unsteady steps forward. “A bit.” 
     “Do you know where we are?” his father asked as they moved slowly down the corridor. The answer came as they made their way to the large, oval port hole at the end of the corridor. It showed Earth in all her glory, directly below them. 

As an ER nurse, Emma knows life can change in the blink of an eye. 
When fate comes knocking on her door, she finds herself far away from the city and back on the mountain ranch where she grew up with the intention to close up and sell so she can move on. 
But fate wasn’t done with her yet, and that’s when she finds him, the one Two-Feathers refers to as ‘Star Brother’. Wounded and unconscious, Emma assumes he’s a military test pilot, until he opens his amethyst eyes and stares into the very essence of her being.

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  1. Wow Debbie, a sensei, a Captain, a nurse, too awesome!

  2. Thanks for the great post! It was fun to do the interview :o) and participate in this NGOTB.