Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Big in Japan by Jennifer Griffith

Big in Japan 

A story of an overweight Texan guy who’s a nobody, walked on by others, and invisible in his job and in love. He goes to Japan and accidentally becomes the first blond sumo wrestler.

Release date for Big in Japan is July 28th.
Jennifer Griffith will sign copies at Weller Books in Trolley Square in Salt Lake City, Utah at 6:00 p.m. that same day.

Big in Japan is also available in bookstores nationwide, through online booksellers, and as ebook. 

Thank you, Jennifer, for appearing on my blog today! Our title for this interview is, "Don't Write What You Know." Can't wait to hear about the meaning behind it. (And yes, folks, she is as pretty as her picture shows. No need for a glamour studio!)

Thank you for letting me be your guest blogger today! It’s an honor.

Why did you write a novel about a blond sumo wrestler?

Do you remember those skits by Monty Python, “And Now for Something Completely Different?” You probably wanted something completely different on this blog today, so here’s a post about sumo wrestling!

Sumo. It’s gross, right? Flabby, mostly-naked guys slamming into each other at full speed?

Is that all there is to it?

Ah, but my friends, it is much, much more!

Sumo is the national sport of Japan. It’s of ancient origin. Only men are allowed to compete. Foreigners have been part of sumo for almost 100 years, and the current champion is foreign, as was his predecessor. There are about 1000 men who are in the pro ranks, and there are six levels that a competitor must climb through (or shove through, actually!) to get to the top tier. There are six tournaments a year, three in Tokyo, and three at other locations in Japan. The winner of a tournament receives The Emperor’s Cup, a huge silver trophy I couldn’t lift if my life depended on it.

There aren’t any weight classes, so the biggest, heaviest guys compete against everyone else in their level. It pays to put on weight! And having good balance can help a wrestler (rikishi) win, even if he’s lighter than his opponent.

The rules are simple. To win a match, a Rikishi must force his opponent out of the ring or make him touch the ground with any part of his body other than the bottom of his foot. Matches are super intense, but they only last a few seconds. The power of these giants is just incredible.

Where can Americans go to watch sumo wrestling?

Lots of matches are available to watch online.

Some of us eat sushi at restaurants called “The Happy Sumo,” but there’s a darker side to the sport. In recent years some incidents of hazing and bout throwing have come to light, and there have been scandals that have rocked the sport and disillusioned some fans.

Now, I did live in Japan for a year and a half (LOVED it!), and I did see a sumo wrestler in a train station one time in Tokyo, but I didn’t know much about the sport until I started researching it for my newly released novel BIG IN JAPAN. 

So, what is the meaning behind, "Write What You Don't Know"?

For this book, I didn’t follow the advice of “write what you know.” Heh heh. I’m a 5’1” girly girl mom of five who lives in the Arizona desert. (Although I do love Japan and wanted to take readers on a virtual tour of it.) Instead I followed the rule “write what you want to know.” I wanted to know more about sumo, thought it was so exotic and readers might want to know about it too.

Robert Frost said in his poem “Maple,” “Name some children some names and see what happens.” I echo that: “Pick an exotic subject for your novel, research it and see what happens.”

It could turn out to be BIG!

Thank you so much, Jennifer, for the interview!

Jennifer Griffith is the author of four novels. BIG IN JAPAN is published by Jolly Fish Press and is available at bookstores nationwide and online. It is also available as an ebook. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @GriffithJen.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Review--Powers of Influence by Jordan Arey

Powers of Influence by Jordan Arey is literary fiction--a far cry from the romantic adventures I am used to reading, but I very much enjoyed the read. Powers of Influence is set for a late November release, so put it on your to-read list and/or Christmas list.
 The woman on the cover hints of a world far from mine, and the figure of a man standing in a small boat piqued my interest and leaving me to wonder how the two related. The story was not set in an exotic land nor was it a lengthy sea adventure, but it kept me turning pages with interesting twists and turns along the way.
Powers of Influence starts out as a not-so-usual tale. A young man awakens on a sandy beach not remembering how he came to be there or who he is. A kind couple takes him in and he becomes a part of their family. He slowly discovers that most people on the island arrived there the same way he had, awakening with no memory on the shore. He becomes obsessed to know who he is and risks his life by crossing the sea to find answers--and that is when the real adventure begins. 
Arey's tale has all the elements of a good storytelling: opposition, mystery, intrigue, war, and my favorite--a touch of romance. It is somewhat an allegory that makes you think and view life from different perspectives. The story relates to scripture, science, and deals with the human plight itself. By the last page, I felt I had come full circle--a satisfying ending.
I recommend Powers of Influence to all readers (even romance appreciators). I hope you all enjoy the story as much as I did. Arey has a creative, almost poetically crafted voice all can enjoy. Visit Jordan Arey's author site here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

LDStorymakers Midwest Conference, Sept 15, 2012

This is going to be a great writer's conference in Kansas City!

Date: Saturday, September 15th, 2012
Time: 8 am – 9 pm
Location: Holiday Inn – Olathe (101 W. 151st St., Olathe, KS) 913-829-4000 *Discounted hotel rooms are available for $78/night. Please reference the Storymakers Writers Conference when you call to make a reservation.
Registration Fee: $95, includes all classes, lunch, dinner, and conference materials.

And what a great lineup of teachers and speakers!

We’re excited to announce our Keynote Speaker:
   Lisa Mangum (Editor for Deseret Book & Shadow Mountain and Best-Selling Author of The Hourglass Door series)

We’re also delighted to have the following authors as presenters:
   Traci Hunter Abramson

   Don Carey

   Karen Hoover

   Heather Justesen

   Josi Kilpack

   Laurie (L.C.) Lewis

   Steve Westover

Pitch your latest story to Lisa Mangum. Appointments are available on a first come first served basis. Meet your favorite authors at the Friday night Authorpalooza. Network with other writers across the Midwest.
Sign up for a day full of awesomeness! Register here:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Interview with Jordan Arey, Author of Powers of Influence

Today I am honored to interview author Jordan Arey, whose first novel Powers of Influence is scheduled for a November release.

This a great description from the front cover:

“One part Divine Comedy; one part Chronicles of Narnia; one part Gospel of John; and withal a thoroughly good read... In Powers of Influence, Jordan Arey has not only crafted an incredibly suspenseful fable, he has also lent us a much-needed, indelible reminder, and a very prescient hint, about a long-lost but not-forgotten love, a mysterious promise, alive maybe, and awake inside an as yet unremembered world.” — Todd Erick Pedersen, author of The Sapphire Song

When John wakes on the shores of Caprecia, he realizes that something is terribly wrong. Having been discovered and awakened by kind and caring strangers, he comes to find that not only is he nearly paralyzed and unable to talk, but his memory has failed him as well.
A sense of near panic started to well inside of me. I began to feel helpless in my motionless and speechless state and, if this wasn’t enough to cause desperation, the next realization was. Despite the two unfortunate facts that were presently causing such anxiety in my heart, there was an additional reality that struck me as far more unsettling. It was at that moment that I realized I had no idea where I was. Far worse than this was that I wasn’t even sure of my own name. I couldn’t picture in my mind any event except what I had just seen, and I soon came to find that I had no recollection of anything at all.”
Eventually overcoming the phenomenon that left him physically impaired, John learns from those who take him in that he isn’t alone in his strange circumstances. Confronted with the truth that everyone around him is as lost as he is, John strives to regain his identity and the connection he has to the face of a woman seen in his dreams. However, finding himself in a colony of supposed shipwrecks fraught with the danger of impending war makes his search no small task.

Tell us, Jordan, why we should read Powers of Influence.

Powers of Influence is an intriguing and suspenseful tale about the search for personal identity, growth, and the power of love. With these elements forming the backbone of the story, it makes for an interesting read, but the novel reaches beyond its plot. Powers of Influence is literary fiction, and its greatest value is in the many parallels and metaphors that speak of the truthful aspects of our lives. It's not only a good story, it's a dissected study on human existence, one meant to expand the understanding of life's mysteries.

Yes, it is a good story. When did you start writing?

I started seriously writing in my last year of high school. If someone had approached me much earlier than that and told me that I would aspire to be a novelist, I would have doubted their foresight. But I had a teacher, Mrs. Bullock, in my junior year that helped me realize that I had a bit of talent when it came to writing, however raw it may have been. I started writing mostly essays about topics for which I was most adamant. Few of those have actually endured, but they helped me establish my voice. In fact, it was during this same time period that the beginning of my book began. It was a lot different and very much a work in progress then.  

Hurrah for great teachers! Every aspiring writer could benefit from a mentor. 
So, what are you working on now?

I've started my second book. It's going to be called The Departure. I also have ideas for two more after that. We'll see how the order of events work out. The Departure might end up being my third. Depending on how Powers of Influence does, there might be a sequel, and then I would have to focus on that. I actually started it before I started The Departure. The name of it is The Advocate, but I had to put it on the shelf for now.

How do you come up with ideas for your books?

All ideas I get for my writings, short stories and novels alike, are spurred by the matters or topics that I think about most. I find that I always have to have something to ponder, something to mull over in my mind. When I do, sometimes stories come from it. And the matters I think about most are the paramount questions every inquisitive soul asks: who am I, why am I here, what is my purpose, where am I going.

What type of readers would like your book?

My hope is that the majority of people would like my book, even if they don't understand all its implications. However, those who would enjoy it the most are those who like a story that makes them think, that makes them wonder and contemplate the greatest and most important truths of life.

What is your favorite aspect about writing?

My favorite thing about writing is that you can speak of things that are difficult to articulate, and I mean particularly in regards to story telling. The greatest Teacher of all used parables to relate aspects of life that were above the reach of spoken or written language. It seems ironic to say that when we're talking about writing a “written language”, but the point I mean to make is that most things are best understood through experience, and the value of writing fiction is that it allows the mind to take over and comprehend truth conceptually, without the limitations imposed by English or any other language.

Thank you, Jordan! We will look forward to the release of Powers of Influence. And best wishes for its success!

Visit Jordan Arey at Homebound Publications, his author site and website.

I will review Powers of Influence next week.

Please leave a comment.

Friday 13th Kindle Giveaway--My Body Fell Off!

BJ Rowley

My Body Fell Off!

A Breathtaking Out-of-Body Adventure That Will Have You Sitting on the Edge of Your Chair!
Imagine going to bed one night and suddenly finding yourself floating around on the ceiling—looking down at your own sleeping body! Imagine being able to leave your body anytime you want, passing invisible through walls and doors—and even people! Imagine transporting yourself to friends' houses in the blink of an eye without them even knowing, or floating right into movies and concerts for free, or enjoying the Super Bowl on the fifty yard line—right behind the quarterback!! Then, imagine finding yourself inadvertently and invisibly witnessing a top secret meeting of some of the most dangerous criminals of our time as they hatch a multi-million dollar conspiracy involving blackmail, kidnapping, and even murder!

Bart Elderberry experiences all this and more after becoming the recipient of this very unique and special ability. He has just begun to enjoy the excitement of driving, dating, and high school when his whole world is turned upside down by the bizarre events transpiring around him. Suddenly, his unusual ability is the only thing standing between life and death for himself and his friends.

Now … imagine trying to explain to ANYBODY about your rare skills and abilities without them thinking you're as crazy as a three-dollar bill and throwing you in the loony-bin for life.

MY BODY FELL OFF! delivers a fast-paced, heart-pounding adventure that will leave you gasping at every turn—an adventure that, once begun, will be impossible to put aside until its final, dramatic conclusion.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Enter the First Annual WUFC Writing Contest: Courage to Thrive

Writers Unite to Fight Cancer (WUFC) has partneredwith the Virginia G. Piper Creative Writing Center at Arizona State University to hold the first annual WUFC writing contest will run through midnight on August 15, 2012. 

Entry fees will be donated to the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Community Outreach Program and Research. Winners and finalists will be published in the WUFC Writing Contest Anthology.Entries are being accepted in all genres except horror and erotica. Limit is 4000 words in all categories. 

Distinguished and award winning authors who have volunteered to judge include: Kerry Blair, Larry Brooks, Joyce DiPastena, Pamela R. Goodfellow, Cynthia Hogue, Cecily Markland, Ethel Lee Miller, Heather B. Moore, Rev. Beverly Jane Phillips, Jewel Parker Rhodes, Holly Robinson, Conrad Storad.

The awards ceremony will be held at Changing Hands Bookstore on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. Judges will read from their published works and hold a book signing after the event. WUFC is a philanthropic group of authors who raise money for cancer research and other cancer related causes. Visit their website or email writersunitetofightcancer (at) gmail (dot) com for more information.

Additionally, you may contact Writers Unite to Fight Cancer at 480-773-7087. Mail entries with fees to Margaret L. Turley, Writers Unite to Fight Cancer, 1146 N. Mesa Dr. #102-233 Mesa, AZ 85201.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I Believe in Jesus Too by Nielsen and Stapley

I was thrilled to win in a blog contest a copy of a new children's book, I Believe in Jesus Too, written by Mark S. Nielsen and Illustrated by Craig Stapley. It is a lovely book and I've enjoyed sharing it with my grandchildren, and this Sunday it went to the Sunbeam class and they enjoyed it too!

All around the world, Latter-day Saint children go to church, sing songs, pray, read scriptures, participate in family home evening, and get baptized. We may meet in different types of buildings or speak different languages, but we have a lot in common. Why? Because no matter where we live, we all love and believe in Jesus, and He loves each one of us just the same. Are you like Pablo, Dimitri, Bayani, Junpei, and Shamara? Do you believe in Jesus too?

This a beautiful, hard-cover, well-written book with excellent illustrations. Buy a copy of I Believe in Jesus Too at Deseret Book.