Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest Post: How Songbird Came to Be by Angela Fristoe

How Songbird Came to Be by Angela Fristoe

In October 2009 I was talking with some writers about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which a contest to write 50,000 words in 30 days held every November. A day before it started, I almost backed out. While others I knew who were participating had plans, and outlines, I didn't even have an
idea. So, when I sat down at my computer on November 1st, I just opened a blank document and started typing. I wrote the first chapter of Songbird that day.

The rest of November sped by, and I wrote pretty much a chapter a day. A few times, I would write ideas down throughout my regular work day, but mostly I sat at that empty screen and just wrote as it came to me. By the end of the month, I had thirty chapters of Songbird done. The last five chapters took another
three months to complete, primarily because I wasn't sure how I wanted Dani's story to end. I felt a lot of pressure to build up certain aspects of the story and get the word count up. Finally, I just put all of that aside and focused on what Dani was going through, had already experienced and where she needed to go. I
was done by the summer of 2010.

In February 2011, I decided to self-publish. It was a hard decision, but I don't regret it. I spoke about my decision on a writer's workshop I participate in and was then approached by two other members who were starting up Little Prince Publishing, an independent publisher. They asked if I would be interested in
publishing with them. I jumped at the chance.

I love working with Little Prince Publishing. It is very similar to self-publishing in that I have complete control and responsibility for my book, but they are there to support me in getting the book up and out there and to assist me with marketing.

The past five months have been spent revising, editing, formatting, and more recently, marketing. Marketing is by far the hardest part. The cover and book trailer were fun, but there were a lot of elements to them, and the other marketing ideas I've been working on, that I had never realized.

I'd always thought that writing 'The End' really was the end, or at least it was after revisions and edits. but I don't think Songbird will ever be done for me. There will always be more I can do to find Dani's audience and get her story out there.

Book Review: Borneo Tom by Tom McLaughlin

  Borneo Tom: In Story and Sketch: Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia
Publisher: Tom McLaughlin
Publish Date: August 27, 2010
Paperback, 132 pages 
Non-Fiction, Travel, Memoir
 ISBN: 978-9838082112

My Review
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book.  I think I figured I would read a few of the essays/chapters/stories, whatever you would like to call each one page section, skip around and then write my review.  I did not expect to be so captivated to take my entire afternoon and read it cover-to-cover.  Though I will confess to reading the last couple of pages in the middle, but that didn't ruin anything, it just made me want to read the rest all the more.

Borneo Tom is a collection of what I like to think of as essays or short stories of different adventures in Tom's life as he lives and travels through the Far East.  I really enjoyed the stories.  He has a very down-to-earth tone that makes you feel like you are right there with him on each of the journeys.  I like the lessons he learns and the humor he uses.  I feel like I have gotten to know Tom a little and an area of the world that I knew very little about a lot more.

I found Borneo Tom to be a fascinating read and well worth my afternoon.  And the illustrations that go along with the stories are great.  I personally didn't need them, but they do add to the book.  I want more of his stories and hope he continues to write and will be sure to check out his websites below.

If you enjoy travel-type memoirs then this is a book for you.  If you like a book you can pick up here and there, then this can be a book for you but I dare you, I think you will find it hard to do it.  I would finish a story and would immediately be immersed in the next even though I really needed to go do something else.  It was just that enjoyable to me.  So come join Borneo Tom and the others who join him on his journeys and learn more about this area of the world that he has chosen as his home at least most of the time.

My Rating:  4.5/5.0

About Tom McLaughlin

Science teacher Tom McLaughlin battled a rare neurological disease to a stand still, packed up his life and moved to Malaysian Borneo from a Washington D.C. suburb.
Landing in Kuching, he quickly learned the Malay language and involved himself in projects which includes orangutan rehabilitation and research about the famed naturalist, Alfred Wallace, whose thunder was stolen by Charles Darwin.

The advent of cheap air travel to many destinations in Southeast Asia transported him to many adventures. From dancing naked in an earthquake in Sumatra, to getting lost in a warren of World War II Japanese caves to walking the rim of a volcano with poisonous gas, he has jumped with foolhardiness into everything wild and wonderful, all related in his book Borneo Tom.

Reuniting with his Peace Corps family of thirty five years ago, sharing adventures with one daughter, then reconciling with another after a divorce, marriage with full kampung ceremony and then taking both daughters on his honeymoon to Bali are a few of the highlights of his remarkable personal life. Oh, but we can’t forget? His vasectomy coupled with a wife diagnosed as barren has reproduced a son, Dzul Patrick, now a few months old.
Tom teaches at the Lodge International School in Kuching, Malaysian Borneo while writing about his adventures as a US expat living in Borneo.

You can find him at:
On Twitter
On Facebook
On Kindle!

About Borneo Tom: In Story and Sketch: Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia

Join award winning science teacher Tom McLaughlin as he moves from America to Malaysian Borneo as he tracks orangutans, dances naked in an earthquake, swims with jellyfish AND MORE DANGEROUSLY…falls in love.

Walk with him through a cacophony of emotions including great joy when he finds the love of his life and marries in a village ceremony, reunites with one daughter after a divorce, travels with another and flies the entire family on his honeymoon in Bali. Oh, yes, did I forget? His vasectomy and his wife’s diagnosis of barrenness produces a son, Dzul Patrick, now a few months old.

Each stand alone chapter is humorously sketched by Water Front Niki, a familiar face to all who visit Kuching. Niki’s sensitive portraits of the national bird, the Hornbill, decorates living rooms world wide.

**Proceeds from the book go for items that support the Matang Wildlife Center that rehabs orangutans and other amazing wildlife.**

Read an Exerpt!

Bukit Tinggi, Sumatra Indonesia – Women rule here. The culture, matriarchal, requires the land pass to the daughters. The custom predates the arrival of Islam and no number of Saudi Arabian missionaries, whose job it is to ensure pure Islamic tradition being observed, are ever going to change it to the Qu’ran required patriarchal system. They have tried. And believe me when I tell you, these ladies would have no part if it! Local customs and religious belief coexist side by side as they have for hundreds of years. I wandered into one particular village and stopped at a house and chatted with the owner. She was lovely lady in her 40s with two teenagers, a son and daughter. She informed http://www.pumpupyourbook.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpher husband had divorced her and left. I teasingly asked her if I could marry her and move in but I think she thought I was serious. She looked me over, considered the idea and said yes but everyday I would have to work in the nearby rice fields. There would be no freeloader man in her house, I surmised.
FTC Information: I received this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book Promotion for an honest review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.