Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Chat: Lehua Parker, author of "One Shark, No Swim."

Lehua Parker
Today we welcome Lehua Parker, author of the exciting Niuhi Shark Saga. The latest book in the series, “One Shark, No Swim,” continues the adventures of a young man named Zader and his mysterious connection to the water. Lehua sits down with me to talk about her new book, which is out now.
How is Zader different than the last time we saw him in One Boy, No Water, the first book in the Niuhi Shark Saga?
After his experience standing in seawater during the fight and after what he sees when Leia dives into the ocean at the end of One Boy, No Water, Zader begins to question things he always took for granted. He begins to test Uncle Kahana, and when Uncle Kahana isn’t forthcoming, Zader starts to hide things he’s feeling and doing. In One Shark, No Swim Zader is restless, more aggressive, and hungry like a shark.
Have you found it’s easier or more challenging to get deeper into the series? Why?
In my head, the whole series is one long story. Book 1 introduced all the characters and explained how things began. Now that the readers are on board, we’re paddling out into the deep water of how things change. It’s a lot more fun to write.
Do you feel any differently about Zader’s world now that you’ve had more experience with it? Have you discovered more about it?
 Zader’s world is part of a larger writing universe I think of as Lauele Town. There are other stories about characters we’ve met in the Niuhi Shark Saga that I’d like to write one day. Most of them are not for MG/YA readers. When I write a novel, I have the major beats in my head, but nothing remotely like a detailed outline. At the computer I think, “Okay. In this next scene Zader needs to meet his art teacher. What’s he doing?” And like magic I see the scene unfold with Zader walking up to the beach pavilion where Char Siu and some girls are mimicking the newest dance craze. And then Zader says he hates K-Pop. Those kinds of discoveries keep me writing.
What are the challenges of writing for a MG/YA audience?
Through the series I’ve realized that for my audience a lot of the tension and conflict that I felt was in the story wasn’t on the page yet. Middle grade readers are just beginning to understand symbolism, metaphor, and allegory. They don’t make connections between things that older, more experienced readers do. I’ve learned to write in neon and hold up big signs saying, “Pay attention to this. You may be quizzed on it later.”
The new book, One Shark, No Swim, has less Hawaiian Pidgin English in it than the first edition of One Boy, No Water, which is also being released in a second edition with less Pidgin. How did that decision come about? 
There were a couple of assumptions in my marketing plan that didn’t work out the way I planned.
I had the idea that the series would gain readers in Hawaii first, then move across the Pacific to California, Nevada, Washington, Utah—places where a lot of ex-pat islanders live. If I lived in Hawaii or had gone with an islander publisher, this probably would’ve been the way it worked. But living in Utah with a publisher based in Utah as well, it was tough to get books on Hawaiian bookstore shelves. With middle grade readers and their parents it’s all about being able to pick up a book before buying it. I learned eBook services aren’t the best distribution system for an audience without smart phones, iPads, or Kindles yet.
When I first conceived of the series, I wanted to write books that I would’ve loved as a kid growing up in Hawaii. In literature, there are almost no characters that looked, talked, and acted like the people I knew. I also wanted to write something that would appeal to island boys who didn’t like reading. I chose to write a lot of the dialogue in a kind of Pidgin-lite thinking non-native speakers could still follow the action and that islanders would automatically switch Anglicized words to their proper Pidgin ones.
Adult readers have no problem getting into the Pidgin groove. New or reluctant readers—the very audience I was aiming for—struggle with what looks like broken English to them. Mainland schools throw their hands up. They like it, but don’t know what to do with it. So I basically had a series written using unconventional language for an audience that didn’t read books and a distribution system that couldn’t get it in their hands—even if they decided to look.
Something had to change.
That’s when I realized the series needed a Pidgin-ectomy and wrote One Shark, No Swim with far less Pidgin and Hawaiian words. It needed to appeal to readers who liked to read first and island kids second. When I was writing One Shark, No Swim I approached  Jolly Fish Press with the idea of doing a second edition of One Boy, No Water. When JFP inked a new distribution deal with IPG, they came back and said the time was right. Since all of their titles would have to be re-formatted, it made sense to do the second edition now.
What’s next for Zader and his ‘ohana?
In book 3, tentatively titled One Fight, No Fist, Zader’s human world begins to collapse. He meets his sister and biological mother and begins to understand what’s at risk and why he was hidden with his adopted family. Readers will get to know the Niuhi side of the story.
If you could say one thing to everyone who picks up one of the books in the Niuhi Shark Saga, what would it be?

Thank you! Mahalo for picking it up. Between the covers you’ll find adventure, a loving and supportive family, danger, excitement, and all the trials and tribulations of growing up different. You’ll meet Zader, a boy who’s allergic to water, see how islanders live, and maybe take a little piece of Hawaii home with you.

Lehua Parker’s Biography

Lehua Parker is originally from Hawaii and a graduate of The Kamehameha Schools and Brigham Young University. In addition to writing award-winning short fiction, poetry, and plays, she is the author of the Pacific literature MG/YA series the Niuhi Shark Saga published by Jolly Fish Press. One Boy, No Water and One Shark, No Swim are available now. Book 3, One Fight, No Fist will be published in 2014.
So far Lehua has been a live television director, a school teacher, a courseware manager, an instructional designer, a sports coach, a theater critic, a SCUBA instructor, a playwright, a web designer, a book editor, a mother, and a wife. She currently lives in Utah with her husband, two children, three cats, two dogs, six horses, and assorted chickens. During the snowy Utah winters she dreams about the beach.

Connect with Lehua Parker
Blog & Free Short Stories:
All things Niuhi Shark Saga:
Twitter: @LehuaParker

One Boy, No Water

11 year old Alexander Kaonakai Westin—Zader for short—is allergic to water. One drop on his skin sears like white-hot lava. Too bad a lifetime of carrying an umbrella and staying away from the beach isn’t the answer, especially when his popular almost twin brother Jay looks destined to become the next Hawaiian surfing sensation.
But avoiding water is just the tip of Zader’s troubles. Eating raw seafood and rare meat gives him strange dreams about a young girl in a red cape and nightmares about a man with too many teeth. There’s also the school bullies who want to make Zader their personal punching bag, the pressure of getting into Ridgemont Academy, and the mysterious yearly presents from his birth family that nobody talks about.
It’s enough to drive Zader crazy, especially when he suspects old Uncle Kahana and ‘Ilima know a secret that explains his unusual biological quirks. After all, they were the ones who found him newborn and abandoned on a reef and brought him to the Westins to adopt. Uncle Kahana swears Zader is ‘ohana—family—by blood as well as adoption.  Too bad he’s not saying more.
When Jay quits surfing after a shark scare, Zader decides it’s time to stop hiding in the shadows and start searching for answers.
Growing up adopted in Hawai‘i just got a little weirder.

One Boy, No Water               
Barnes & Noble

One Shark, No Swim

There’s something bugging adopted Zader Westin, something more troubling than his water allergies where one drop on his skin burns like hot lava. It’s bigger than his new obsession with knives, designing the new murals for the pavilion with Mr. Halpert, or dealing with Char Siu’s Lauele Girlz scotch tape makeover. Zader can’t stop thinking about a dream, the dream that might not have been a dream where Lē‘ia called him brother then jumped into the ocean and turned into a shark.
Zader’s got a lot of questions, not the least being why he’s hungry all the time, restless at night, and why he feels a constant itch on the back of his neck. It’s making him feel like teri chicken on a pūpū platter, but Zader doesn’t want to think about chicken, not with his growing compulsion to slip it down his throat—raw.
With Jay busy at surf camp and Uncle Kahana pretending nothing’s happening, Zader’s left alone to figure things out, including why someone—something—is stalking him before it’s too late.
Summer in Lauele Town, Hawaii just got a little more interesting.
One Shark, No Swim:           
Barnes & Noble

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guest blog: Dancing with the Darkness

Today we’re taking a walk on the dark side with Johnny Worthen, author of the delightfully shivery head-trip “BEATRYSEL.” Here, Johnny talks about how easy it can be to slip into the shadows.


“No light without darkness,” says Phenex. “Love and jealousy; loyalty and betrayal; affection and anger.” BEATRYSEL

This is the heart of BEATRYSEL. Remembering always the flip side of emotion, I strove to imagine what perfect pain a perfect love could bring, what perfect betrayal from a perfect mate. As I imagined love given form, I only had to turn the euphoria a few degrees to see the depths of despair waiting in balance. The rest wrote itself.

BEATRYSEL began as a love story, and still is, but it in I explore the dark sides of love, its axioms and inversions. Though I prefer “occult thriller,” some have called it “horror” and that might be as good a description as any because what can be more horrible than love, that omnipotent euphoric nucleus of being turned around?

What I expose is how vulnerable one can be when they give themselves over completely to another. It’s a good thing, to love that much, but there is a danger. In the natural flow of things, given time, this emotional exposure is often mitigated by wisdom and maturity. But not always and never completely. Because if you cannot be hurt by your lover, how can you say you love them?

Every love we have has the potential to hurt us. The deeper we are in love, be it for a child, a sister or a spouse, the greater is the potential for dissatisfaction and heartache. But luckily, blessedly, usually that doesn’t happen and unless we have first hand experience, we’re always blind to the danger going in.

It’s cold comfort to know that when it does go bad, we can measure our worth and emotional giving by the duration of our sobs and the volume of our tears. And the tension in our fists.

It doesn’t always end this way. But it could and sometimes does.

Johnny Worthen
For those who have this experience, I present to you, your sister, BEATRYSEL. To those of you with the imagination to conceive of it, I present to you your friend BEATRYSEL. To those of you who are immune to this kind of pain, I present to you your nemesis, BEATRYSEL.

For, BEATRYSEL is a creature of love.

BEATRYSEL was freed September 12th from Omnium Gatherum

My links:

Twitter: @JohnnyWorthen

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Friday Chat: Elsie Park, author of "Shadows of Valor"

Today I’m lucky enough to have fantastic author and all around fabulous person Elsie Park stop by and talk to us about her new book, “Shadows of Valor” (seriously, people, go read it – it’s exciting, classic romance at its finest). First, though, sit back and listen to the story of how she made the magic happen.

1. What first gave you the idea for “Shadows of Valor”?
A bunch of medieval ideas that I thought might make a good movie or story came to me over a period of days and weeks, but at this point, I’d never written a novel in my life. I’d done essays and short stories in school and for personal enjoyment, but nothing serious. But this time, on a whim, I decided to jot them down. As a stay-at-home mother of a 10-month old, I was looking for something to do other than chores, dishes, laundry, groceries shopping and changing diapers. Not that those things didn’t take enough of my time, but I needed something a little more exciting – LOL.

2. What was the research process like for the book?
I spent days, weeks and months researching books and online about the specific medieval time period in which I chose to write (1300 A.D. England), and I had pages of notes and bookmarks marking piles of books up the wazoo. And then, when once I felt like I could proceed with my story, I’d run into countless other things later on that I had to look up and clarify before I could again continue writing the details. Sheesh. Even with all the research I did, I still don’t feel like any kind of an expert. There’s just so much to learn. I only researched what applied to my story and time period.

3. What was your favorite thing about writing “Shadows of Valor”?
My favorite thing was writing a cool mystery/drama/romance/plot that weaved together create an intriguing story. Creating characters that I liked and that held a tiny piece of myself and my loved ones and friends was really fun. That’s the fun of writing. An author can write whatever they want and use whatever inspiration they receive and from whomever. Reminds me of a humorous statement I saw about authors. I’m paraphrasing, but it was to the effect of: “Beware, I’m an author – Anything you say or do may end up in one of my books!” *laugh* So true.

4. What would you say was the hardest thing about writing “Shadows of Valor”?
It was difficult to write my dialogues in the old English (which I didn’t end up using in my final version anyway because it read somewhat like Shakespeare and readers tripped over it). All that work for nothin’ *shrug*.

5. If you could go around to everyone who buys the book and tell them one thing, what would it be?
I hope you love and appreciate the tale of Sir Calan and Elsbeth. I hope you can find similarities within yourselves that bring you closer to the characters’ struggles, triumphs and feelings of love.

6. Fictionally speaking, what are your plans for the future?
I’m writing another medieval story set in 1300’s England/Scotland involving a minor character from SHADOWS OF VALOR and giving him his own story. There will be mystery, intrigue, trials, triumphs, villains, action and, of course, a love story (always PG-rated, like your cute novels *smile*)

7. Does it bother you how much I apparently love the word “what”?
*LAUGH* To be honest, Jen, I hadn’t noticed at all so I can honestly say it hasn’t bothered me. But now that you’ve brought it to my attention . . . *smile*
Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your wonderful blog, Jenniffer! I await your next tale, BEAST CHARMING with anticipation!

SHADOWS OF VALOR overview: Taking place in 1300 A.D. England, The Shadow (aka Sir Calan), a knight-spy working under the direction of King Edward I, hunts down and arrests smugglers who defy the law and evade paying their taxes. The Shadow’s duty is fueled by vengeance from a childhood experience against smugglers. Dealing with society at its worst, The Shadow becomes cynical and struggles to rein in his desire to execute lethal justice before turning the perpetrators over to local authorities. He feels his soul turning black with hate in his continual fight against evil. A childhood acquaintance, Lady Elsbeth, enters his life years later, bringing light to his soul once again, but she has a story of her own, accompanied by physical and emotional scars. Calan feel he needs Elsbeth in his life, but in an effort to keep his identity and duty secret, he must deceive her. This creates distrust and uncertainty between them, as she accepts another man as her suitor. But Calan must ask the question: What’s worth fighting for more? His long-standing desire to avenge a childhood friend or the woman who may be his salvation? What entails is a glorious tale full of deceit, greed, inner struggles, betrayal, and most of all—love.

SHADOWS OF VALOR was released September 7, 2013 through Jolly Fish Press. It can be ordered from any bookstore including Barnes and Noble and and will be available in hard cover, paperback and on e-readers (including Kindle, Nook, and Kobo, as well as any tablet, smartphone, or computer).

About the author:
Growing up in a small mountain town outside of Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.A., Elsie Park enjoyed playing soccer, playing piano, reading, writing, art and spending time with family and friends. Years ago she spent 18 months in Italy teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeing the castles and old Roman cities only added to her fascination for ancient and medieval culture. In college she studied zoology, botany and criminal justice. She’s worked as a wildland firefighter, security guard and a police officer, but she is currently a stay-at-home mom, spending time with her children and husband. She loves thinking up new ideas for interesting stories and musical compositions to go with them.

Twitter: @elsiepark1
Author Facebook:
Barnes and Noble:

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I love words. Each line and curve, each sound shaped by a human mouth, contains infinities. 
At some point I began to see words lining the world like bricks, every line and curve of reality bracketed on all sides by the description of it that unspools in my head. Every person that I know is a symphony of words, the memory of a thousand conversations mixing with a hundred silent realizations and that thing (or two) I keep meaning to tell them but never do. Words run through the marrow of my bones, skim over the surface of me like a second skin. My face is an accident of genetics, familiar but not particularly evocative of my identity. But read my words, and you’ll truly get a taste of who I am.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t see the world this way – memories are mostly words, the only thing left when the hazy pictures have faded away. My childhood was filled with stories: smiling out at me from brightly colored books, scribbled across construction paper by my own hands, or spinning in the air as my family passed old memories back and forth like a ball tossed in the summer sunshine. Every story contains its own little world, each word holding a crash of lightning or the sound of someone’s laughter, and I had a thousand to choose from at any one moment. 
When I was younger I built them up like little castles, putting together simple stacks of word-bricks like other kids did with their super-sized Legos. The word-castles grew as I grew, developing turrets that spun upward into the heavens and moats that stretched fathoms deep. I learned how to build everything I wanted to see, shaping the words so they would radiate with the sound of someone’s laughter and follow the curve I could see so clearly in my mind. I pulled the words out of my heart, out of the hearts of those I loved, and used them to fashion blood and breath and bones.

When I die, all that will be left of me is words. The stories I’ve left behind will sit on shelves or in some forgotten corner of the Internet, and memories of me will be passed from mouth to ear among those who knew and loved me. I will live on as the thing I love the most.