The Titans of Ardana by @JessSFrankel, interview by #thetoiboxofwords

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I have a treat to share. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, J.S. Frankel. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.

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Toi Thomas: Hi there J.S.! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ToiBox Blog. I’m excited to learn more about you and your work.

J.S. Frankel: Hi there Toi. I’m excited to be here.

Toi Thomas: So tell me, who is J.S. Frankel?

J.S. Frankel: J.S. Frankel is my pen name, and I write primarily YA Fantasy with a lot of action. Some of my better known novels are the Catnip series, Star Maps, The Titans of Ardana, and Twisted, a gender-switch fantasy. I was born in Toronto, Canada, a long time ago, moved to Japan at age of twenty-six, and have been here ever since. I got into writing late, at the age of forty-eight, got published a year later, and have been at it ever since. I love to write YA, as it has a freshness and immediacy all its own. Every book is a new adventure!

Toi Thomas: I thought starting to write in my 30’s was late, but in reality, there’s no time-limit on discovering a part of yourself. I can’t wait to learn more about your journey. Before we dive into your special message today, let’s get to know you, the person inside the author.

What makes you geek out?

J.S. Frankel: Oh, god, it has to be superhero flicks! I remember watching Superman, the original film, back when I was a teen, and forty years later I’m still watching the best (and worst) that Hollywood has to offer. Recently, I saw Wonder Woman and said to myself, “THAT’S how you do an action movie!”

Toi Thomas: I know right. I’m pretty sure I was holding my breath through the whole film, just waiting for the s*** to hit the fan, but it never did. Wonder Woman was a really good movie. While not all superhero flicks are winners, I’m so happy that they’ve become mainstream. They are great stories at their core.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?

J.S. Frankel: Probably The Voyage of the Luna 1. It was a British story written in the late 1940’s, and it fired my imagination about space travel and adventure. The science was all wrong, but I was six. How could I know? I loved it, all the same.

Toi Thomas: I’ve never heard of this book, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy. While good science fiction should, for the most part, feel feasible, I sometimes get a kick out of stories that stretch the limits and make no real sense. At that point, it feels like reading accidental fantasy.

In terms of interviews, whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

J.S. Frankel: If I could, I’d love to interview Robert McCammon or Nora Jemisin, as they are two of my favorite writers. Yes, pick their brains–not eat them!–and find out their process of writing. Both are very wordy writers, but with no waste, no excess or info dumping. Different styles, but very readable. Anything they write is prime!

Toi Thomas: While I’m only vaguely familiar with Robert McCammon, I believe best known for historical fiction, I’ve heard a lot of Jemisin (I believe she goes by N.K.) with the release of her book The Fifth Season. It’s been on my TBR for a while, but so have a lot of books. I’ll definitely get to it though.

Now that we know a little more about you, the person, let’s learn about you, the author, and dive into your special message.

So whacha got for me today?

J.S. Frankel: The Titans of Ardana is a YA Adventure/Fantasy novel. It’s about a young teen–Martin Calder–who is enamored of a television show as well as its co-star, Dana, no last name given. Martin sets out to get her autograph, but in doing so, finds out that she and her twin brother, Van, aren’t exactly from around here. Then the fun begins!

Toi Thomas: I really like the sound of this. I get the feeling there is a lot of humor and mystery in this story. An actress playing one role on TV and then playing another role in real life because she’s not what she seems; already has me curious. Does mystery play a part in this story directly or indirectly?

J.S. Frankel: Actually, the reveal is there right away, right at the end of the first chapter. It’s what happens after that provides all the fun!

Toi Thomas: So, who’s starring in this 2-dimensional script read of The Titans of Ardana?

J.S. Frankel: Two main stars. Martin Calder is the main protagonist of the novel. He’s a geek over sci-fi and fantasy, loves a television show, The Metas, and is in love with the star, Dana, no last name given. Dana is the star of the show. Tall, raven-haired, gorgeous (purple eyes are killer!) she is every bit the superheroine that Martin imagines her to be. Ironically, she IS a superhero, an alien, and she and her twin brother Van are on the run from an interstellar warlord who wants to eliminate them.

Toi Thomas: I love stories with twins in them; no idea why. I think it has something to do with the idea that two people can be connected in an almost psychic way from birth.

What’s so special about this story that’s going to reel in the readers?

J.S. Frankel: It takes the concept of what being a superhero is and turns it on its head. The alien co-stars of the novel, Dana and her twin brother, Van, exist on sugar, and that makes for some funny gross-out moments, as they eat TONS of sugar-laden goodies every day in order to survive. The action is also very good, and there’s quite a bit of humor in the novel. I like to have a little bit of everything in the books I write, and The Titans of Ardana has a little bit of everything to recommend.

Toi Thomas: I enjoy humor, but there are different kinds that appeal to different people. What kind of humor does this story have: slap-stick physical humor, sarcasm and ironic humor, dark and twisted humor, etc…

J.S. Frankel: I’d liken the humor to physical humor, mainly, but no pratfalls or pies in the face. It’s what Dana does—you’ll have to read the chapter in which she and Martin go to a chocolate factory—to get the humor. It’s sort of physical, gross-me-out stuff, and lies in the reactions of the people around them. It also happens to be the funniest scene in the novel, and then it quickly transitions into an action scene, something I am known for and love doing.

Toi Thomas: Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?

J.S. Frankel: I don’t have a detailed game plan, per se. Ideas pop into my head, the old “What if” scenarios. I do a very basic outline of what will happen in each chapter, who is in it, dialogue, and then start writing. Of course, everything is subject to change and I’m always tweaking something. No music…I listen to that while taking breaks. I need silence. I write late at night when my family is asleep. I can concentrate better that way.

Toi Thomas: I cherish those moments when I can write in complete silence, they just don’t come around very often. I do, however, from time to time use music to inspire me when I need it.

Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?

J.S. Frankel: “Whatever!”

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Toi Thomas: If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

J.S. Frankel: There are so many, but I’m going to go with an old one, Some Like It Hot, with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. It’s basically a 20-minute burlesque sketch expanded into a movie, but the performances are terrific, Marilyn is adorable, and the final line is killer. Great movie, stands up against anything done today.

Toi Thomas: That is a good movie. While it’s not my favorite Monroe role, I still like her in it and can never get enough of the laughs. As far as burlesque goes, I have a fondness for Gypsy. What can I say, Marilyn is classic, but Natalie is eternal.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

J.S. Frankel: More writing! I would love to be recognized more for what I do, but realistically, there are so many writers out there that recognition is difficult, as is fame or financial reward. While it would be great to make a living from my novels, really, I love to write first and foremost. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Toi Thomas: If you love to write and stay true to that, who knows, recognition may come when you least expect it.

Any last words to offer our readers after visiting here at the ToiBox of Words?

J.S. Frankel: I would like to say thank you for giving me the chance to express myself. Interviews are hard to come by, and I’m grateful for any and all opportunities.

Toi Thomas: Thank you so much J.S. for spending time with me today.

J.S. Frankel: This has been a fun ride, and the questions were terrific, so thank you once again!

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Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from J.S. Frankel, check out these great links:

Amazon.com: J.S. Frankel

Facebook: J.S. Frankel AUTHOR

Twitter: @JessSFrankel

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Okja & Moana #review + Curious #Question 2

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So, I didn’t make it out to the theater this month, but that means that I have notes for both movies I’m reviewing. Please consider checking out those notes. This month I reviewed a family/kid film and a modern adult action/adventure.

If anyone is interested in my experience of watching Okja, click here to see my notes.

If anyone is interested in my experience of watching Moana, click here to see my notes.

You can watch this video on YouTube to leave a comment, like it, and or subscribe to my channel.

So, have you seen either of these movies?
What did you think of them?
Any movie review suggestions?
Want to offer your two cents on my curious question?
Go visit that page and join the discussion.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#WIP Update 21 #amwriting

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So, writing is a tricky thing (in case you didn’t know). I’ve done quite a bit of writing as of late, but I haven’t made a whole lot of progress on any one story. (How is this possible you ask?)

Well, in the process of picking up stories I hadn’t worked on in ages, I found that my original vision for many of them has changed. This month, though, I just want to focus on my progress with the Saying Series 2 book. At the moment, the working title is “Be Careful What You Wish For.”

Since I’m bringing back all the characters from the first book but choosing to focus on one in particular, I had to figure out how to put my new (well, new to this installment) heroin at the center of the action or drama. Needless to say, there’s going to be loads of relationship issues and not all of them will be Lisa’s fault (she’s matured since book 1).

So here’s the basics of what I’m working with. Lisa and Teddy are working to keep a spark in their relationship as they both continue to excel in their careers, which kinda pulls them away from each other. Between Lisa and Rebecca, someone has to get pregnant soon so Sarah Rapture can have a grandchild. Paul, Alex, and a few new comers are back on the dating scene and it’s a little scary (some of Lisa’s life lessons will come in handy here). And while I’m sure some will be put off by this, there will be race issues addressed (in case you didn’t know, Lisa is black… dunt, dunt, dunnnnnn! 😮 )

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’ll explain about some of the other stories I’m rewriting and or structuring another day. If you’re up for it, please check out my Reading Challenge Update.

-Do you have a WIP Update to share? I’d love to see it.

-Feeling a little lost about what’s going on in this post? Just see the side panel and search ToiBox Topics, WIP Updates, to get all caught up. Also, check my Works In Progress tab to see what else I may be working on.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#IWSG August 2017: reading/writing/editing pet peeves & other #questions

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Created and hosted by the Ninja himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writers Support Group posts the 1st Wednesday of every month. Click the image to learn more or sign up.

Monthly Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Since I really don’t like editing, mainly because I’m no good at self-editing, it’s all one big pet peeve to me. I don’t mind offering feedback on other people’s work, but self-editing seems like an oxymoron to me. To me, if I write something, I know what it’s supposed to sound like and look like, so I can’t see those places where the ideas in my mind and what’s on the screen or paper don’t match. I really don’t like editing.

In terms of writing, my pet peeves are interruptions and inquisitions. It drives me crazy when people won’t let me write. It’s hard enough finding those magical moments when you are motivated to write and actually have the time only to be trapped by someone else’s need to chit-chat after ages of silence. I swear it happens every time. Then there are those times when you’re writing something and people want to talk to you about what you’re writing, or they want to watch you work and get inspired or any number of annoying things to show that they are all of a sudden interested in your writing when they’ve never cared before.

As far as reading goes, while most people will go on and on about style, voice, and p.o.v., the biggest pet peeve I have is when the author has treated the reader like a simpleton. It drives me crazy when authors explain things that don’t need to be explained. I think I do this myself sometimes and I make myself so mad when I do. Gotta work on that.

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Now on to the personal updates.

I’ve been sick, again. I’m always sick, but as long as I’m not in the hospital it really isn’t that bad. I’m used to it, but it does make keeping up with schedules and plans difficult. I’ve also been losing my battle with depression lately. At least I can say that now; I’m currently in a better place. It’s what I call the bounce back. It’s difficult to talk about depression with people who don’t suffer from it because it’s an entirely different thought process; it’s emotional and it’s messy. Most people avoid those who even mention depression, which is why I rarely talk about it. But since I’m doing better at the moment and will, prayerfully, stay that way, I figured it was important to put it out there in case someone is feeling all alone in their struggle.

On a lighter note, I’ve been keeping up with my YouTube channel pretty well, but I’ve realized that I won’t grow a large following with it. With my efforts split between this and other blogs and YouTube, there’s simply no way for me to put the time and interaction into it that would take for effective growth. At this point, it’s just something else I like to do whether others join me or not.

I’ve been writing quite a bit, though I don’t feel like I’m making much progress. Still, it feels good to be writing on a regular basis. I’ll talk more about it in my WIP update on Friday, where I’ll mention how my last public appearance, for a while, went the night before. I’ll be attending “Meet the Authors” at the Central Library in Virginia Beach. At least I’ll get to show off my new business cards.

If you have a moment, I’d love for you to visit my CURIOUS QUESTIONS page and offer your two cents on the question being asked. Thanks bunches.

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So, what are some of your read/write/edit pet peeves?
Any issues you want to talk about?
Any advice for my library appearance?

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After hanging out with Alex, be sure to stop by and visit this month’s co-hosts:
Christine Rains,
Dolarah @ Book Lover,
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor,
Yvonne Ventresca, and
LG Keltner!

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Click here to visit other IWSG blogs and sites to receive and share more inspiration and support. (This month, I’m #61).

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse #Review: Faith & Fandom Volume 2 #geek #Christian

The idea is simple: on the last Friday of each month, post about the best book you’ve finished over the past month while visiting other bloggers doing the same. In this way, we’ll all have the opportunity to share our thoughts with other enthusiastic readers. Please join us below.

Title: Faith & Fandom Volume 2: The Obligatory Sequel
Author: Hector Miray
Genre: Christian Nonfiction, Geek Culture
Pages: 95
Reading Level: Teen
Content: PG (reference to books, movies, and video games targeted to teen and adult audiences, religious principles)

I’ll admit that it took me some time to get into this book, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I enjoyed this book so much that I immediately shared it with a family member after finishing it. With that said, I did have a few issues concerning my reading experience and would like to explain what I liked and didn’t like, thus keeping this wonderful book from receiving a 5 star rating.

First, I loved the cover. It pulled me in from across the alley at the local Comic Con where I received it. The images and the title immediately had me curious about the content within, so imagine my disappointment with there were no images inside, at all. I’m no fool to the issue of copyright infringement, but for some reason, I at least expected to see some vague and rough sketches to accompany some of the featured stories, but there were none.

Second, I enjoyed the personal and carefree tone of the essays. Many of them include personal life experiences and moments of pure geekdom that I could totally relate to. Then when the author began to transition into making biblical connections, it didn’t feel forced or preachy. He was simply offering his opinions based on his personal faith-walk and experience as a geek and fanboy. However, there were times when comprehending the message was a little difficult. There was no stylized formatting to clearly separate what was personal opinion, media quotes, or scripture. Yes, Miray, used all correct punctuation, but since the essays are written in a conversational way, it was sometimes difficult to determine which part of the one-sided conversation you were reading. Plus, it bothered me that none of the paragraphs were indented, though, I got over it quickly by pretending I was reading blog posts, which are often times not indented.

Lastly, I liked that this was a short read that packed a lot of punch. Miray covers so many different fandoms in this volume, it makes me want to go back to see what he talked about in the first one. Since I acquired my copy at a live event, I got to speak with Miray who suggested that I start with whichever volume seemed to have more of the geek stuff I liked in it, thus I started with volume two.

Even though this was a short read, it did take me a while to get into it because of all the forwards. I’m used to reading one or two pages of forwards and I think this book had four pages of them. Also, I was a little annoyed that there were no page numbers to reference. Sometimes I like to gauge my progress as I’m reading to motivate myself to finish a book, but I couldn’t do that this time.

Overall, I really felt like this book was wonderful for those who love geek culture and who might be curious about Christian faith. Other books that claim to connect faith to pop culture in a fun and interesting way, to me, have fallen short, but this book does it right. Recommended to, as the description states “geek curious believer[s and] a faith curious fanboy[s and girls]” of all ages, though younger children may not get all the references.

I give this book a 4.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book or others in the series, try this link: Amazon

If you have a moment, I’d love for you to visit my CURIOUS QUESTIONS page and offer your two cents on the question being asked. Thanks bunches.

Please stop by and see what others have read. 😀

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords