Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rave Reviews Book Club's "Spotlight" Author Blog Tour for Author John Fioravanti



Hello, I’m John Fioravanti, and welcome to the tenth post of my “Spotlight Blog Tour” sponsored by my family at Rave Reviews Book Club. I am so grateful and excited to be a guest today with Carol Marrs Phipps!

In earlier posts this week I have talked about several aspects of my new novel, Passion and Struggle  Publishing your very first work of fiction is a very exciting experience! It has also been an exhausting journey, too! On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked about my experience as an Indie author/publisher. Today, I’ll describe my journey to date.


About Indie Publishing

Prior to my novel, my two published non-fiction works, Getting It Right in History Class  and A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching  were released by Indie Publishers. I had no real idea what was involved in getting a manuscript prepared for publication. When Anne and I decided to become business partners in December, 2014, and launch our own Independent publishing house, we had a lot of help!



My award-winning ‘Journey’ book was published by Iceberg Publishing  owned and operated by the Tam family here in Waterloo, Ontario. Iceberg was founded in 2002 and they took me in as an author in 2006. Journey was published in 2007, and it won an IPPY Bronze Medal in May, 2008  When Anne and I decided to strike out on our own, the Tams enthusiastically agreed and suggested that Iceberg Publishing should enter into an alliance with Fiora Books - separate companies, but allied.

What did that alliance look like? We operate separately with our own websites, our own contracts with retailers, printers, and the like. Kenneth Tam, my former student, is Iceberg’s most prolific author and their IT person, so he offered to teach me the business end of publishing. I thank my lucky stars that he did!

I remember that December evening when my wife and I pored over the task sheet that Kenneth and his parents, Jacqui and Peter, had created for us as a guideline. Task #1 - company name. 'Fiora Books’ came fairly easily - as a play on my surname. When I taught high school, I prepared writing skill guides for my students to follow, and I called them ‘FioraBooks’. They thought that was cute. Then one year, I set up a system of bonus marks they could earn, and issued play money that I called ‘FioraBucks’ - they thought that was cuter yet. So that was settled. 

Task #2 - create a logo. “Fiora” translates from Italian as “flowers”. So we thought our company logo had to have a book or books and a flower. I suggested a rose since it is Anne’s favourite flower. I can’t draw to save my life, so I went looking online, found what I was looking for, bought the rights to it, and we had our logo. Then I suggested we have a tag line to go with the logo. I liked Iceberg’s, “Look beneath the surface” - that went beautifully with the concept of an Iceberg. As you’re reading - look for meaning beneath the surface. I thought and thought… Anne could smell the wood burning! Then it hit me out of the blue… I have loved reading books since I was a kid - over five decades of reading! How to express that? Bang! It hit me again… getting bruised up pretty good here… “Cherish the written word.” Anne loved it and so did I. Check out our website and see if you like the combination.

Once I got the company registered with the Province of Ontario and we had our business licence, then we were ready to set up our website. Kenneth designed that after consulting with us, and then taught me how to maintain the site. Then he told me to start writing a blog each week, if not more often. A blog? What’s that? He’s a very patient and sensitive young man, so he didn’t laugh at me. So Anne and I learned to blog. Then we followed his suggestions and set up our Fiora Books page on Facebook, and a similar account on Twitter. Then Kenneth explained about Tweets. Tweets? Why do I gotta go Tweeting online?? What’s this got to do with publishing? He rolled his eyes as I ranted on about silly birdies… oh my! It’s about online marketing, he explained. Gee... I don’t know anything about that.

After four months of intense online research I started to understand a few things about book marketing in the twenty-first century. I found out that there are tons of Indie authors and publishers worldwide. No Kidding! Yes, and they are gradually wrestling large numbers of consumers away from the mainstream publishers. Really? Uh-huh, right again. It was near the end of that sojourn into the wonderful world of online research that I found a gentleman in the UK who was participating in a LinkedIn book marketing group discussion. His name is Chris Ward, and he gave me the best online advice I had yet received. He suggested that I join the Rave Reviews Book Club because they are all about helping fellow Indie authors/publishers be successful.

What did I do? I did the second smartest thing I’ve ever done in my 63 years - I joined Nonnie Jules’ Rave Reviews Book Club! What was the first smartest thing I did? I married Anne Runstedler in 1973… you had to ask? �� I could go on for hours about my experiences preparing book and cover files - struggling with those Adobe Brothers… Photoshop, InDesign, etc!!! But I’d rather urge you good folks to get involved with RRBC. You can join as a reader or as an author. It is a blast! You get to see Nonnie sitting on her book shelf talking to herself  and on Tuesdays we get to push other authors around a lot - that’s called #PUSHTUESDAYS! Seriously though, I’ve never met a more dedicated group of people who are all about uplifting others and helping them to succeed.

Do yourself the same huge favour that I did for myself… check out Nonnie Jules’ Rave Reviews Book Club! Maybe I’ll see you there! 

AUTHOR BIO
John Fioravanti is a retired secondary school educator who completed his thirty-five year career in the classroom in June, 2008. His teaching career was split between two schools: St. Benedict CSS in Cambridge, Ontario and St. David CSS in Waterloo, Ontario.
Throughout his career, John focused on developing research, analysis, and essay writing skills in his History Classroom. This led to the publication of his first non-fiction work for student use, Getting It Right in History Class (Data Based Directions, 2002), along with an international version of the same title. A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching  Iceberg Publishing, 2007, 2008, 2010) (Fiora Books 2014) is his second non-fiction work; it attempts to crystallize the struggles, accomplishments, and setbacks experienced in more than three decades of effort to achieve excellence in his chosen field.



John’s first work of fiction is Passion & Struggle and is set within Kenneth Tam s Equations universe (Iceberg Publishing). He claims that, after two non-fiction books, he’s having the time of his life bringing new stories and characters to life!
At present, John lives in Waterloo, Ontario with Anne, his bride of forty-one years. They have three children and three grandchildren. In December of 2013, John and Anne founded Fiora Books for the express purpose of publishing John’s books. After four decades of marriage, they decided to become business partners as well.

BOOK LINKS:

CONNECT HERE:
Twitter: @FioraBooks  + @jfinwat  (I have 2 accounts)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

King James's Escape



"Fates! What was that?" said James with a moan, as he sat bolt upright. "Oh bell tolls from the Pit! Probably something going off in my stupid, stinking head. Why sit up, anyway? There's not a thing I can ever see, even when I bump into it." He reached for the familiar itchy place on his scalp, which had just lately gotten gooey, and found it unexpectedly painful. He lay back with his hand over the spot to keep the filthy straws from poking it. "Mmmm! It throbs just lying down. Why, oh why doesn't Spitemorta just execute me...?"
"Mercy no, King James! Fates forbid it...!"
"Damn!" cried James with a wail, not knowing in the least whether he was delirious or whether some speaking something had gotten into his cell with him. 
"Sire! Your eyes are mattered shut," said the young soldier, nodding at another to come forth with a torch, as he knelt to peer into James's face. "I'm Owain, I was..."
"Yes!" cried James as he accidentally broke into sobs. "You brought me that nice supper, didn't you! You're the one, right? You've got to be...!"
"I am! I said I'd be back. I'm terrible sorry hit took so long..."
"Yes. I see you do have a light...I mean through my lids..."
"Well we had a delay, ye might say. We found one amongst us who was a stinker, a traitor, if ye know what I mean, a loyalist to the queen. We had to carry on very careful Hit took us a right smart number of days to be safe. Here sire, let me help you up."
"You've come for me then?"
"Why absolutely. I gave ye my word, sire."
"Certainly..." he said, breaking into sobs all over again. "Oh forgive me! I'm not acting like much of a sovereign..."
"Why, you've run clean out of hope, is what. Anybody would, slow as I am, if ye know what I mean, sire."
"I'm just so very, very grateful."
"Easy, Your Majesty...Here. Take his other arm, Llewyrch. He's right wobbledy.
"Well as I was saying, there was one amongst us who was a-spying for Spitemorta. She never did find out that he was, but he was fixing for to wheedle his way into her good graces, the best he could."
"He's as big a fool as I was," said James, trying to steady himself. "Spitemorta has no good graces."
"You're no fool sire, but she certainly has no good graces," said Owain as he and Llewyrch carefully helped James to the door. "Anyway, as I was a-saying, we caught him attempting to take her news of our plans to get you out of this dungeon. Well. We pinned him down last night and the varmint confessed everything. There's 'way more to the story than that , but..."
"What will keep him from going to her behind your backs if you already can't trust him?" said James.
"Oh he won't have a chance. Ol' Culwch (that's his name, by the way) won't be bothering a soul."
"You killed him?"
"Nay. Not yet. I guess you don't have your eyes open yet..."
"I haven't tried. They've felt like they had sand in them and I couldn't see anything anyway, so..."
"Well, we got Culwch standing right before ye, all blindfolded, gagged and tied up. There are five more of us here to keep him pointed the right way, and we're going to make him nice and comfortable in your old cell. Won't take but a minute."
James heard some scuffling and a muffled yell before the groan of hinges, a heavy bang and the rattle and jingle of hasp, lock and keys behind him. He felt light and giddy, but there was no way he could stay on his feet. As his knees buckled, he felt Owain, Llewyrch and the others grab him up to haul him hurriedly down the corridor, up several flights of gritty stone steps and outside for a good way in the gloriously fresh air of early dawn. A rooster crowed. He could smell unicorn manure and hay. Somebody was cooking breakfast, maybe egg in a hole. He felt like singing. "I'll thank the Fates for the privilege of being allowed to enjoy this world, every single day," he thought.
"Oh, that's right good advice for each and every one of us, Your Majesty," said Owain with a grunt, right at his ear.
"My word! Have I lost track of when I'm speaking?"
"You're a-having your first joy in quite a spell, sire. I'd speak out too, and that's a fact."  
At last they carefully stepped through a narrow door with him into some other building. They set him down. "Here sire." said Owain as he carefully took James's hand and put his fingertips into some warm water. "What do you think of that? If that's about right, we'll get those filthy rags off you and Pryderi here will give ye a proper bath. He's a barber and a healer, and he's right good."
"Oh, it's perfect..."
"Now, there ain't no women around sire," said Llewyrch. "Let's get your shirt."
Soon James was in bath water up to his chin. "Do you object to Elf medicine, Your Majesty?" said Pryderi as he carefully examined James's head.
"Not in the least. It was Spitemorta who tried to pin the sukere burning on the Elves, not I."
"Well I have something that'll put you right quicker than anything I know of, but it's the bitterest thing you'll ever have in your mouth. You need to chew it up real fine and swallow every bit," said Pryderi as he put a black twist of leaves to James's lips.
"Mercy! I'll say!" said James after a couple of thoughtful chews. "It makes my tongue and mouth feel like old dry wood."
"Oh, it's just got started, sire. Just keep a-chewing. Try not to bite your tongue. It's called aquilaria. It's very difficult to come by. My grandfather found out about it from an Elf called Talamh Coille Graham, right before he was murdered by a witch known to the Elves as Bailitheoir Cailli. Ever hear of her?"
"I'm afraid so. She was Spitemorta's real mother. I had no idea when I married her."
"My word!" said Pryderi, falling silent for a time before resuming: "Well, the Elves's name for aquilaria is sláinte ollmhór. How's it doing?"
"Makes wormwood seem like something sweet. You're sure that I'm not turning into some kind of stump?"
"You don't have to worry about that, but I'm going to have to cut your hair. It's nothing but a filthy mat of snarls and nits. Now before I do, lay your head back here so that I can put a poultice of aquilaria, eyebright, goldenseal root, rue and fennel on your eyes. When I get your hair cut, I'm going to put burdock root and dandelion root on this awful festered sore on your head. If it doesn't dry up in a few days, someone will have to put a hot iron to it."
After a while, James found himself dressed in fresh plain wool and linen clothes, and able to partly open one eye as he sat in a chair, pressing a poultice against his face. "Do I smell food?" he said as he took down the sopping wet muslin and tried to use his eyes.
"The board is set for you in the next room," said Owain as he peered into his face. "Can you see to get there, or do you need help?"
"Let me try," he said as he stood and slowly shuffled to the next room, navigating with the flaming red slit of one eye. He paused as Llewyrch drew back his chair. "My! This is wonderful!" He took his place at the head of a sumptuous table of plain fare: roast chickens, cabbage and carrots, buttered squash, hot brown bread and heaping saucers of cottage cheese and honey. A dainty old lady whisked up and poured him a cup o' tea. "My word! Each of you, please, please have a seat and eat with me. And please don't be so formal. You will always be my friends." He spread wide his arms and bowed his head.
Never had a meal tasted so heavenly to James. At last he wiped his mouth and sat back. Just as he picked up his poultice to daub his eyes again, in came the little old lady with a steaming hot apple pie. She set it down before him and cut him a big piece. Suddenly he grabbed her by the waist and gave her a squeeze as tears ran down his cheeks. "My wonderful, wonderful friends!" he said.
"We are right honored to serve you, Your Majesty," said Owain.
"I am indeed grateful beyond anything I'm capable of putting into words," said James, "but you all are taking an unbelievable risk. The longer I'm here, the more peril you'll be in. I should be getting away immediately, but I've no idea how that would even be possible with Spitemorta and Demonica and their spies everywhere."
"This be the perfect time, sire," said Owain as he shared a look with Pryderi. "They've got all their attention on the birth of the new babe... Oh my stars! I apologize, sire! We neglected to tell ye that your queen bore a baby girl."
"Wasn't there another child?"
"There certainly was," said Owain with an anxious glance each way, "but he was stillborn, much as I hate bearing you such news. And worse yet, Spitemorta was so blithering furious over it all that she up and killed the midwife and all the attending help cleaning up the birth."
By now James had both eyes open.
"They keep saying she used some kind of witch's power to stop all their hearts," said Llewyrch. "And lots of folks reckon that she did indeed do it from different things people have seen. Do you suppose she actually did, sire?"
"Oh very possibly. Did you hear me tell Pryderi that she is Bailitheor Cailli's own daughter? Brutelee and Bee secretly adopted her."
"Well, we're right sorry we had to be the ones to tell ye, Your Majesty," said Owain. "But now, that's a piece of news about Spitemorta's dam."
"I appreciate your courage," said James.
"Thank you, sire," said Owain. "Anyway, we figure tonight's the night to get ye out of here. The servants think Spitemorta will be laid up for at least a week, and not only that, Demonica seems to have quite vanished, and no one has the slightest idea where she's gone off to."
"Then tonight's the night," said James. "But I'll say this: you need to keep a right sharp eye out for Demonica every single moment, because she reappears just as suddenly as she vanishes."
"We've heard the like," said Owain with a solemn nod. "We'll be as careful as we can be. And if ye don't mind my saying so sire, nobody's ever seen you with a beard. Maybe you should keep it for a while."
"Suits me, my dear fellows," said James as he stretched wide a bushy red-eyed grin.
 ***
On the eve of Queen Spitemorta's campaign to take over the world, King James is caught by her and her grandmother Demonica, tortured and imprisoned in the fetid blackness of Castle Goll's dungeon. He and his rescuers flee into the Gollmore countryside to join the Elves in their flight to the Wilderlands in Chapter 19 of The Burgeoning.

Have you ever experienced sudden hope after all was lost? Please tell us about it.

Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Monday, October 20, 2014

Who is Queen Spitemorta?


Queen Spitemorta of Goll is the beautiful raven haired daughter of the witch known as Ugleeuh, the granddaughter of the evil sorceress Demonica and the mother of Abaddon. She is secretly given by Ugleeuh to King Brutelee and Queen Bee of Goll to raise. As soon as she is grown, she poisons Brutlee and Bee, assumes the throne of Goll and marries King James of Loxmere. 
When the news reaches Pennvro on the Dark Continent that Spitemorta is on the throne and has the First Wizard's Great Staff, in Stone Heart, Demonica kills and replaces Abaddon's nanny and begins plying Spitemorta with a strategy of world conquest, which requires finding the Crystal Heart of the Staff in order to have the needed power. In time they do find the Heart and set out to conquer Niarg and the rest of the world, thereby fulfilling the first part of the Elven Prophecy.  

Discovering that Spitemorta is a dangerous sorceress when she destroys her own nation's main cash crop and begins addressing her subjects with crystal skinwelerioù to incite them to go to war with their peaceful neighbors, in The Burgeoning, James hides Abaddon from her and tries to flee Castle Goll. She captures and tortures him and throws him into the dungeon.
Years before, when Spitemorta is still a princess in The Collector Witch, it is she whose vicious rumor sends Rose into the perils of the Chokewoods in search of her identity, and she who takes away the Staff from Ugleeuh's frantic grasp. And in spite of her lifelong reputation for cold bloodedness, she is assumed to be the granddaughter of the benevolent wizard Razzmorten, until far away in the volcanic cauldron of Mount Bed, the great oak tree Longbark touches Abaddon and determines that he is actually the great-grandson of the evil sorcerer Razzorbauch.

As her power grows, Spitemorta's fits of wanton destruction and murder soon have the Jutland Elves calling her Baineor Buile Cailli, The Reaper Witch, as they, James,  Abaddon and the diatrymas flee her for their very lives into the Wilderlands.




Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fire Sprites and Glow Lichens




Fire Sprites Homo sapiens luciferestris L. a diminutive and highly luminescent human whose melanin has been replaced by luciferin, the light producing pigment in fireflies. Fire Sprites glow with such intensity that many who have gotten fleeting glimpses of  them have mistakenly reckoned them to be engulfed in flames, though in daylight their skin is an almost translucent alabaster white. They inhabit the utterly lightless lava tubes of the volcanic formations in the Eternal Mountains of the Eastern Continent. They communicate with one another and with other races of humans almost exclusively with thought projection and extra sensory perception (ESP), reserving their arcane and mysterious language for their singing of eerie aeolian chorals in the echoes of their caverns.
  
In Elf Killers Oísín and Doona and their party escape the marauding trolls by hiding in the tunnels of Ubh Ollmhór, where they are rescued by the Sprites and led through the maze of inky black volcanic passages to the grasslands of the Great Strah on the far side of the mountains. 
The Fire Sprites are actually the ones who originally made what becomes known as the Elven Prophecy about the rise of an evil which will seek to take over the world. This prophecy has a part in The Collector WitchStone Heart, The Burgeoning and The Reaper Witch (to be released early in 2013) and Doom (to be released late in 2013).
  
Glow lichen Cladonia antrolucidus R., is a close relative of the reindeer lichen (reindeer moss) and lives in moist underground caverns. Its fungal symbiont takes up nutrients saprophyticly from the moist cave walls and emits a strong bioluminescence, using the pigment luciferin, which allows its plant symbiont to photosynthesize in turn, releasing sugars to the saprophyte. Glow lichen is common throughout lava tubes in the Pitmaster's Kettles and in deep cavern systems throughout the southern half of the Northern Continent. Luxuriant growths can light up caverns with their greenish yellow ambience at least as bright as artificially lighted rooms.

Glow lichen lights the caverns of the Magic River in The Collector Witch and the volcanic tunnels of Mount Bed in The Burgeoning. It also illuminates the Fairy underground in The BurgeoningThe Reaper Witch and Doom.
 
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps