The Royal Magician of Oz Trilogy is a 3 volume tale of magic and wonder that recalls the cherished values of friendship, loyalty and courage. This timeless tale of Oz reminds us of the value of overcoming our deepest fears and conquering the challenges that might otherwise defeat us.

Volume One; Magician of Oz, Volume Two; Shadow Demon of Oz and Volume Three; Family of Oz are now available for your reading enjoyment, as well as The Ozian Adventure of Pickleless & Blu.

The Emerald Slippers of Oz
, featuring an Introduction by Roger S. Baum; great grandson of L. Frank Baum, as well as Tails of Oz are also
available for your reading enjoyment.

The newest adventure in Oz, entitled: Nomes of Oz is now available and fast becoming a best-seller in the Land of Oz.

All are available in both paperback and Kindle.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Scene 1; Act 9: Guest Author Fiona Ingram &

In our continuing program to feature new and exciting authors, I present this week's special guest as part of my contribution to the Virtual Book Tour;

FIONA INGRAM

“My story-telling career began at age ten!”

Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialised tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favourites in the cast of characters.

Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s bookThe Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author is already immersed in the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure.

Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

After winning the Emma Smith Scholarship to finance her university studies, Fiona Ingram graduated from the University of Natal, Durban with a double first in her B.A. (French & Drama). She won a Human Sciences Research Council Bursary, which enabled her to do her Honours in Drama at Natal. Fiona then went to the University of the Witwatersrand to do her Masters in French-African literature (the impact of colonial language and culture upon the development of African theatre and literary forms), a subject which has interested her greatly. Fiona applied for and won the Emma Smith Overseas Scholarship for further study. She studied drama at The Drama Studio in London and mime at L’Ecole Jacques le Coq in Paris. Upon her return to South Africa, Fiona immersed herself in teaching drama at community centres, and became involved in producing community and grassroots theatre with local playwrights and performers in Natal for several years. A move to Johannesburg took her in a new direction—that of journalism. She has written freelance for the last fifteen years.

www.secretofthesacredscarab.com

www.chroniclesofthestone.com

dteensbo

Creative writing for kids is one of the most challenging and fulfilling aspects of the classroom. Many teachers who are not writers may struggle to explain the nuts and bolts of writing in relation to the imaginative and creative process involved in making a story. Children may also not grasp the solid hard work involved in creating the structure and plot of a good story. Here are some easy classroom tips to make the creative writing process both successful and fun.

Writing can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of your life. There are many reasons a person decides to write: to share their life’s experiences, to tell a good story, to express the feelings and situations of others … the list is endless. Some people even write just for fun. I wrote my book because I visited Egypt with my two nephews and wanted to write a short story to help them remember a special time. To my surprise, the short story turned into a book, and then a book series. So, you never know what’s going to happen once you begin!

Any good story is composed of two important elements:

1) a really gripping plot

2) realistic, believable characters.

· How To Choose a Great Story Topic. You may think, “But what can I write about?” Write about what you know best, or what excites you, or what you enjoy. You’ll find that when you are really keen on something—it can be an activity, a place, an event, or a person (real or imaginary)—it becomes easier to write. Do you love reading about faraway exciting places? Then research a place you find interesting and set your story there. Do you enjoy mysteries? Think about something that’ll keep people guessing. Are you good at a skill or a sport? Set your story around a character with those abilities.

· Plot Comes First. What comes first? Everyone has their own ideas but I believe the plot should come first. What’s the point of great characters if they sit around and don’t achieve very much. So, step one, write your plot down in a few words (that’s all you need). “My story is about … who manages to … and goes on to ….” Example from my book: two cousins go to Egypt with their aunt Isabel and their Gran and are given an ancient scarab that plunges them into a whirlpool of exciting events. I have my two main characters, two secondary characters, a great location (open to all kinds of amazing events), an important object, and … well, the amazing events are up to my imagination.

· How to Construct your Storyline. Structure is very important otherwise you’ll end up writing away like crazy but forget some vital detail here and there, and your story will fall to pieces. Sit down and draw your storyline—remember, you have already written it down in a few words. You may not stick to it exactly, but it’s important to map out where the story is going. You don’t want to give away the plot too soon, or tell the reader everything all at once. So begin with a simple 3-point system: the Beginning (your hero appears—what is he doing? What does he want to achieve?); the Middle (something will happen to him and he has to …?); the Ending (your hero resolves the situation). From those three vital points you will fill in your other plot points—how did… why did… what happens next…

· Make Your Characters as Interesting as Possible. Tip: take them from real life examples. You could write about someone like yourself, or else model the characters on friends at school, teachers, or other people you know. The dialogue between your characters is also important because that’s one place to develop the plot line. Their interaction will reveal the chain of events as the characters work out various situations. Don’t forget to break your dialogue with various activities so that readers don’t get bogged down in lots of talking but no action.

· Make Your Information to the Reader as Interesting as Possible: You can do this by weaving it into the story. Don’t say that it’s cold. Get your character to shiver because he left his jacket at home. You can set the scene around your characters by using adjectives and adverbs to enhance your descriptions and actions but don’t overdo it. The reader is also going to use his or her imagination, so don’t overload your writing with too many descriptions. At the same time, your reader is not in your head so you have to help the reader along by using your five senses to engage theirs: sight, sounds, touch, taste, smell. Is your hero in a hot, exotic climate? He (or she) will be sweating, the sounds will be different, the taste of the food unusual etc. Is your heroine (or hero) in a strange place – what is she experiencing e.g. confusion, anxiety, excitement or curiosity? You will create the environment for your readers so they appreciate exactly what the hero is experiencing.

· The Hard Part: if you love what you’re writing about, and you trust your imagination, then writing will be as fun and exciting as you can imagine. However, two important elements must never be forgotten: research and grammar.

Research will be necessary whether your story is set in the real world, or if it’s an imaginary, fantasy, or sci-fi land. Make notes before and during your writing process. Your heroes are likely to be around your own ages, so think about how they are going to get places and achieve things. If they are travelling, are they alone (not likely) and will they need assistance (possibly)? If they are in a foreign country then make sure your facts are accurate. How did they get there, who are they with, and how are they going to accomplish their task/challenge? If it’s a fantasy setting, then make sure you don’t lose track of your characters and the various places and items found in your fantasy world. Make your own research notes relevant to your fantasy land.

Grammar: spelling and grammar are very important otherwise your readers will never get through the first few pages. They’ll get bogged down in bad grammar and terrible spelling, so make sure you use your spelling and grammar check on your computer (if you’re using one) and your dictionary and style guide (if you’re writing by hand). In any case, you’ll have to check everything yourself because sometimes computers will accept a word that is spelled right, but is actually the wrong word for the sentence or context.

A final piece of advice: writing should be fun and exciting. Just enjoy yourself and let your imagination take you to places you only ever dreamed of…



Title: THE SECRET OF THE SACRED SCARAB

Author: Fiona Ingram

Publisher: iUniverse, #1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, Indiana, 47403, USA www.iuniverse.com

ISBN: 978-0-595-45716-8

Publication date: 1 December 2008

Genre: Juvenile Fiction, adventure, 262 pages (includes map and graphics).

Age group: 10-14

Nominations:

· The Secret of the Sacred Scarab was a Finalist in the Children’s/Juvenile Fiction category of the 2009 USA Next Generation Indie Book Awards

· Finalist in the Children’s Fiction section of the USA National Best Books 2009 Awards.

· It was also a Winner in the Preteen category of the 2009 Readers’ Favorites 2009 Awards.

· The book has just been nominated Number 2 in the Top 10 Favourite Books of 2009 for Kids, Tweens and Teens in The Children’s & Teens Book Connection.

· It has also won a Silver medal in the Teen Fiction category of the 2010 Nautilus Book Awards.

· The book was a Finalist in the 2010 International Book Awards

Description: A thrilling adventure for two young boys, whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret.

Book Synopsis: A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives two young South African tourists, Adam and Justin Sinclair, an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another!

Added value: Young explorers will enjoy an interactive journey through Egypt, following Justin and Adam’s exciting adventure on www.secretofthesacredscarab.com. Readers can also browse the first chapter of the book and there is a Book Glossary for interested readers. Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients. T-shirts, mugs and Stones of Power are available for purchase on the site.

Purchase: The book is available internationally through Amazon.com and selected online book sites as well as Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: Fiona Ingram (B.A., Hons. (Natal), M.A., (Wits)) was born and educated in South Africa. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. The first book was inspired by an actual trip the author took to Egypt with her two young nephews (then aged 10 and 12).

Contact Fiona Ingram by email if you would like to review this book in South Africa. Contact the publishers for reviews appearing in the USA and UK. Fiona is also available to do readings at interested schools and children’s libraries in South Africa.

Email the Author: fiona.ingram@telkomsa.net

Websites: www.secretofthesacredscarab.com www.FionaIngram.com

Some Professional Book Review Comments:

· The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is entertainment for readers up to around age fourteen and for those who wish they were fourteen again. It is at once adventure and history, art and architecture, humor and redemption, travel writing and social studies, and great fun.

Rating: Five stars

Reviewed by: Barbara Milbourn for Writers in the Sky barbaramilbourn@comcast.net

WITS Web site: http://www.writersinthesky.com

· All I can say is, "Wow!" This is one of the most thrilling children's books that I have read in a long time. Author Fiona Ingram, who was born and educated in South Africa, has combined an exciting story that is filled with adventure and suspenseful mystery to keep the reader turning the pages with a lot of interesting factual information about the history and geography of Egypt.

Rating: Five stars

Reviewed by: Wayne Walker waynewalker@storiesforchildrenmagazine.org

Stories for Children Magazine http://storiesforchildrenmagazine.org

· The Secret of the Sacred Scarab by Fiona Ingram is a middle grade fiction book that reminded me why I fell in love with reading in the first place. The author has a great writing style, and she has a great sense of humor that shines through her writing. I think it’s a great testament to an author’s writing when the interest can be held of readers outside of the targeted audience. Ms. Ingram held my attention and made me reminisce about books that I read many years ago. If I had a child around age 9, up until age 13 or 14, I would thrust this book into their hands and encourage them to read it. It’s books like this that spark a love of reading.

Rating: 90 out of 100

Reviewed by: Trish Collins trish.browning@gmail.com

Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com

· Ingram has crafted a fascinating story of adventure. Ancient Egypt is a topic that captivates most young adults, and Ingram incorporates information about Egypt’s modern culture, as well as ancient legend. The story’s many twists and turns may be too complex for younger readers, but teens and tweens who can keep straight the many characters and navigate the long and detailed story will appreciate this well-researched adventure.

Rating: Four Stars (out of Five)

Reviewed by Whitney Hallberg whitney@forewordmagazine.com

Foreword Literary Review Magazine www.ForeWordMagazine.com

· Once I started reading The Secret of the Sacred Scarab I never wanted to put it down, and I was ready to read it all over again as soon as I was done. If the first book in The Chronicle of the Stone series by Fiona Ingram is this superb, I hold out high hopes for future installments. I eagerly anticipate Book 2 in the series, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur!

Rating: Five Stars

cg20pm00@gmail.com>

Children’s and Teens Book Connection http://childrensanokconnection.wordpress.com

2 comments:

  1. What an engaging interview! I'm going to bookmark this one for all of Fiona Ingram's writing tips. Congratulations to Fiona on her many accomplishments!

    ReplyDelete
  2. > sure you use your spelling and grammar check on your computer

    Hmn... might I suggest taking a look at Spell Check Anywhere (SpellCheckAnywhere.Com). It is a terrific spell checker that works in all programs, including blogs. Also comes with a grammar checker.

    ReplyDelete