Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Humble Teen Beginnings: The Birth of a Teen Fantasy Author-Guest blog and Giveaway with AK Taylor

My Humble Teen Beginnings: The Birth of a Teen  Fantasy Author

My love for all things imaginary and fantastical go way back before I knew my ABCs or learned how to write my name. Living far back in the woods with my just my parents and hardly no children to play with left a lot of room to cultivate my imagination. Many magical worlds came alive in the back yard and the backwoods. My parents would take me fishing or we went swimming in the river with snakes and all; I would look for freshwater clams and the fish would nibble on my toes. I would roam hundreds of acres of woods. The river was just down the hill from our house, so we didn’t have to travel very far.

To make this part of the story short, we move to another wooded area and then to the suburbs. My existence in suburbia was worse than miserable. Major drastic changes were being made in my life from child to adult, and some of them were excruciatingly painful with constant bullying on top of it. I had to give up something I loved because of my age: playing. The woods were already gone, but luckily I didn’t have to give up video games, but they would only take me so far. I needed an escape and an outlet for my imagination. It was running out of my ears. I had to escape my miserable reality or risk some kind of breakdown or meltdown. I wanted to return to my fantasy worlds and maybe even create some new ones. But how? I had to give up my only known gateway. Was there another?

I was invited to another cousin’s birthday skating party. It was an opportunity to hang out even if it was little kids and family. While skating, I let my mind wonder as I listened to the music and skated laps on my rollerblades. I remembered how much I liked writing, and how much I desperately wanted to return to my pretend worlds--somehow. Then the thought occurred to me, “What if I could write my way back in?” Then the “what ifs” and ideas followed behind it just like magic: “What if they were combined somehow? What if they were part of or threatening OUR world?” A scene also took shape in my mind at the skating ring, and you can find this in Neiko’s Five Land Adventure. I just couldn’t wait to sit down at the computer. I do a few days later.

My parents had an old computer in their bedroom with a chair, desk, and Microsoft Word like they were waiting for me all this time. I booted it up, put my fingers to the keyboard, and wrote the first pages of Neiko’s Five Land Adventure (it wasn’t called that at the time, but I’m not sharing that embarrassing title). I knew how to work Word a little bit from middle school computer classes, and I had already taken keyboarding. My imagination seemed to flow to my fingertips. No one taught me how to write a novel; I took what I learned from language arts and books that I had read over the years and put it together. I never attended a writing class or a seminar. I didn’t know they existed for teens or if there were any around. I never had the first thought about being published or being a professional. It was my secret escape, and it was my own personal experiment (my science background showing) and done for fun. I taught myself the basics and just went for it to see what would happen. I didn’t have anything to loose.

Every opportunity I could get at that computer, I took it when I wasn’t off with family or playing video games. I was mad when the teachers would load me with homework and writing time wouldn’t fit in—it was just like how I felt if I couldn’t go play outside or dive in to that new video game I just saved up and bought. I had to wrestle with my parents when they wanted to play solitaire or Taipei. Can they do that when I go to bed? I wanna write! Weekends and summertime meant I could pull late nights (I’m a night owl after all). My parents would beg me to go to bed, so they could sleep. It would be 2 AM, and I was still hammering on the keys and the light of the monitor shining in their eyes. “Aww! Just one more paragraph!?” or “Let me finish this part/thought/sentence.” I said that five paragraphs/thoughts/words/sentences ago. When it was dinner, bathtime, or my time to give up the computer, insert a groan of protest.

Needless to say the experiment was more than a success. More ideas for books came. I finished Neiko’s Five Land Adventure about 100K words later and started on Escape from Ancient Egypt. They weren’t perfect, but I never thought anyone would ever see them. Maps, notes, and character sketches began to pile up along with more characters and more adventures. I hit the motherlode. Time passed, and I didn’t care too much about being left out or not being asked to prom as long, as I can go home and write. The lonely lunches, sitting alone at socializing, or roaming the halls solo allowed time for brainstorming. The emptiness had meaning like never before, and I would leave the bullies back at school and go on the next part of the fantastic journey. I replaced people who didn’t like me and bullies for fantasy writing. I had escaped until I had to return to school the next day.

Eventually, my younger cousin, whose party started it all, took an interest in my stories and wanted get involved. Our combined imaginations took us to new heights for a time. More stories, characters, worlds, and adventures were born. It was nice to have a buddy to share something I loved even if it was a younger family member. No one at school would care anyway, or they would make fun of me at the first opportunity they got. As far as I was concerned, this was private. Only the trusted could enter.

After a few years, I can’t keep a lid on this. No one at school ever knew. People didn’t really do anything to cultivate young writers there or in the community. Graduation came and went and the other kids or the teachers had no idea that there was a young storyteller in their midst. People in the community didn’t teach kids how to write novels; there seemed to be lack of interest thereof. My parents and grandparents sneak peeks when they caught me writing and start talking about it to people they knew. It spreads, but not enough to cause a major ruckus.

One day the computer died. Talk about a major tragedy. It was almost as bad as my dog dying or telling me to give up Nintendo. I have to write with pencil and paper until we get it back, so I could copy it. The guys who repaired the computer find the stories and start reading. People, including strangers, began mentioning about publishing these stories.

Uh, how do I do that? I’ve never thought anything about publishing when I started this whole gambit. It was an experiment and an escape plan to flee from the awful reality I had to face day to day—it followed me into the workforce in the form of workplace bullying and the occasional surly customer who ruined my day or thought it was worth their while to bully me. It’s not like high school where I could tell off the bully; I had to take it and somehow keep my sanity as I smoldered in silence. There were a lot of people who could be dinner for velociraptors or T-rex or some other kind of accident, but I didn’t. They should stay out of my worlds where they belong.

 I thought it would be nice to see my stories as books or even as a movie someday, but I felt that was a lost cause—the unattainable dream. I don’t have a clue about how that could even be done. Years pass and after a rather rocky start, the first two books I had ever written are now books I can hold in my hand as a book, or even cooler a tablet or a phone. I’ve grown even more and did things I thought I never could do. One dream has been made attainable. The other? We just have to see.

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October 3 Interview
Dalene’s Book Reviews

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October 11 Interview
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Rose & Beps Blog -

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October 16 Guest blog (review later)
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Book Suburbia

October 22 Spotlight Book 1
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October 23 Spotlight Book 2
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October 28 Spotlight
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October 28 Interview
Reading in Twilight

Neiko’s Five Land Adventure
The Neiko Adventure Saga
Book One
A.K. Taylor

Genre: YA Fantasy Action Adventure

Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Date of Publication: September 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1936198856

Number of pages: 354
Word Count: Approx 101K

Cover Artist: A.K. Taylor, Kristeen

Book Description:

The Indians and the Crackedskulls are locked in the turmoil of war and presently in a stalemate. Her enemies, Raven and Bloodhawk, have come up with a scheme to up the ante and break the stalemate into their favor. Neiko later finds out that a land she thought she had only imagined is actually real and contains a legendary and otherworldly evil within it. Not only that, she becomes trapped there and must escape the world, the people within it, and the sinister evil within. 

Neiko must find her way back home and turn the tables on her enemies. Can she come back home and escape the evil that seeks to claim her?

Escape from Ancient Egypt
The Neiko Adventure Saga
Book Two
A.K. Taylor

Genre: YA Fantasy Action Adventure/ Historical Fantasy, time travel

Publisher: Telemachus Press

ISBN: 978-1484107355

Number of pages: 290
Word Count: Approx. 90K

Cover Artist: A.K. Taylor, Steve Himes

Book Description:

Seeking his revenge on Neiko for exposing him, Francesco banishes Neiko into ancient Egypt just like he did her friends eleven years ago. During her stay there, she unravels the mystery of what happened to her four friends. Now she’s faced with a bigger problem—how to get home. After a series of unfortunate events, Neiko is now entangled with Pharaoh Ramesses II. Francesco also comes to make sure their fates are sealed. Can Neiko and her friends beat impossible odds and return to Hawote and back to the present?

About the Author:

A.K. Taylor grew up in the backwoods of Georgia where she learned about nature. She enjoys hunting and fishing, beekeeping, gardening, archery, shooting, hiking, and has various collections. She also has interest in music, Native American history and heritage, Egyptian history, and the natural sciences. A.K. Taylor has been writing and drawing since the age of 16. A.K. Taylor has graduated from the University of Georgia with a biology degree, and she shares an interest in herpetology with her husband.

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Neiko's Five Land Adventure by A.K. Taylor

Neiko's Five Land Adventure

by A.K. Taylor

Giveaway ends October 28, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Escape from Ancient Egypt by A.K. Taylor

Escape from Ancient Egypt

by A.K. Taylor

Giveaway ends October 28, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win


Amanda Taylor said...

Thanks so much for hosting me Roxanne and wanting to know more about my teen background! I hope I inspired someone! :)

Roxanne Rhoads said...

thanks for being a guest !