Monday, December 31, 2018

A Field Trip To The Frankin Institute

Photo courtesy of: Beyond My Ken


A field trip to The Franklin Institute is the perfect supplemental activity for science or history lessons for any grade. It may also inspire a few stories among your creative writing students as well.
           
After all many science-fiction writers base their stories on imagined scientific breakthroughs in time travel, space exploration, and life on other planets.
           
Many superheroes and super villains suffer accidents rooted in sensationalized science. Peter Parker became Spiderman after a radio-active spider bit him; Barry Allen became The Flash after being struck by lightening and covered with chemicals; Norman Osborn became the Green Goblin after drinking a special formula.


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The Franklin Institute is a premier science museum in Philadelphia, PA. It's named after Benjamin Franklin, an accomplished scholar in political theory and science. He is also one of United States of America's Founding Fathers.

                          
Photo courtesy of: Frank Ralph

Throughout the year, the museum hosts a wide variety of interactive exhibits and exhibitions that educate and entertain both seasoned and amateur scientists alike. As a child my favorite spot in the museum to visit was the Large Heart

Even now it‘s fun to walk through the giant model, surrounded by the rhythmic beating, and experience the inner workings of the heart as blood pumps through it.


Photo courtesy of: Frank Ralph

What I love most about the museum is their unique way of presenting some of my favorite fiction stories and digging through the science behind them. Over the years I've been to several of these exhibitions. Two of my favorites are the Narnia and Star Wars shows.



Photo courtesy of: The Franklin Institute
           
Through magical recreations with props and actors, they immersed people spectacularly in these worlds and made the moment memorable. I'll never forget the snow falling on me as I stepped through the door of the wardrobe or watching Darth Vader march down 20th Street to the Star Wars soundtrack.


Photo courtesy of: Erin Ralph

During my most recent visit to the museum, I embarked on a Viking adventure. As a fan of the show Vikings on The History Channel, it was neat to see the authentic weapons, jewelry and clothing and to delve deeper into Scandinavian history. 


Photo: Ellwyn Autumn


Photo: Ellwyn Autumn


Photo courtesy of: Frank Ralph

I also saw a princess' dress and cloak that resembled Anna's outfit from Disney's animated movie Frozen. Pretty cool!


Photo: Ellwyn Autumn

Besides amazing exhibitions, The Franklin Institute has a many exhibits, antique machines and educational resources too numerous to list. So whether you're a budding scientist or a curious citizen who loves to learn new things, The Franklin Institute is a great place to explore.
           

The Franklin Institute For Teachers:

            Field Trip Planning Guide
            Traveling Science Shows (They even have a Preschool One!)
            Professional Development
            Exhibit Resources
            Homeschool Workshops
            Title 1 Schools
            Educator Discounts

  Teacher Resources:

            History Time Youtube
            BBC Youtube
        

By it on Amazon

   
Amazon Link


                     
Amazon Link


Amazon Link


           On April 13, 2019, Marvel: Universe Of Super Heroes will be swinging on over to The Franklin Institute.  I'm going to attend the show are you?


Photo courtesy of: Judeus Samson on Unsplash



Check out pictures of the Narnia Exhibition here.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Interview With Author/Teacher: Samantha Bryant


Photo courtesy of: Samantha Bryant

Samantha Bryant is a master at balancing her busy lifestyle. Using her feminine superpowers she makes teaching middle-school Spanish, raising a family, writing novels and finding lost things look easy.

Samantha is a winner of the 2016 Jacquis Award from Legendary Women for her novel, Going Through The Change. When she's not writing she enjoys watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places. She lives in North Carolina with her family.

Now that I've introduced you to Samantha let's get to know her a little better.




Hello, Samantha, welcome to Lemon Drop Literary. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

Why did you become a teacher?

I have a helping heart and learning new things is my idea of a good time. I also truly enjoyed school when I was a child. So, it seemed a natural choice to choose to teach as a career.

Though it’s been a hard row to hoe sometimes (emotionally and financially), it’s also been a joy and inspiration and gives me a feeling of purpose. Knowing I have an impact and make a difference in this world is important to my well-being.

What grade do you teach?

Currently, I’m teaching sixth through eighth grade Spanish. Across my twenty-three years in the classroom, I’ve taught a range of Spanish and English classes, as well as computers, theater, and even music to people in middle school, high school, and college.

I’m also offering creative writing workshops and classes through a local community college from time to time.

How has your teaching experience influenced your writing?

I’ve been able to parlay teaching into a variety of opportunities. It’s given me the chance to live, teach, and study in some great places: Alaska, Vermont, Kentucky, Kansas, Spain, England, and North Carolina. All these different settings feed my creativity and imagination.

Teaching has also put me in contact with a lot of different people from backgrounds that differ from my own. Kids tell you everything so teaching is full of writing fodder.

Spending time with young people exposes me to new music, media, games, and obsessions all the time.

Some of my classroom skills have proven useful in building a writing life as well. I know how to present publicly, so things like giving talks, taking part in panels, running workshops, or giving a reading were easier for me than for some of my writing colleagues who had different day jobs.

Teaching has also allowed me a great deal of autonomy. I’m used to planning out my own agenda and schedule and can be very productive even though no one is checking on my progress. That’s been really important for the phases of the writing process where it’s just me and my computer.

Photo courtesy of: Samantha Bryant

What inspired you to become a writer?

I came to writing through reading. Even before I could read, I was in love with story and the sounds of language. My mother and I lived at the library when I was little and read together all the time.

When I was in first grade, my teacher had us copy famous poems as a handwriting exercise. It was when I first encountered Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, and Robert Frost.

Mrs. Alsdorf could see how excited I was by the language, and one day, she leaned down next to my desk and said something like, “You know, you could write poems yourself, if you wanted to.”

I thought this was a marvelous idea, and I’ve been writing ever since. I write more novels than poetry these days, but I write every single day.



Photo courtesy of: Samantha Bryant


Which genres do you write?

My published novels are all part of a single series: The Menopausal Superhero Series. These novels are a hybrid of superhero fantasy and women’s fiction. Going Through the Change, Change of Life, and Face the Change might best be described as drama-dy because they intermix serious drama with levity.

However, in varying degrees of completion, I have a women’s issues fiction novel, a middle grade urban fantasy, and the first in a women’s historical fiction trilogy.
I’m currently writing a near-future young adult dystopian romance and plan for my next book to be a gothic romance.
 
Among my short stories, you’ll find science fiction, literary fiction, ghost stories, fantasy, and horror.

I’m open to reading and writing a variety of genres and am attracted to many kinds of stories. I’m in this for the long haul, and plan to pursue a wide variety of characters through their trials and travails.

What do you find most challenging writing for these genres?

In writing superhero fiction, the challenge lies in finding the right balance between character development and action and adventure, though that might be said of a lot of genres.

When my work is at its most effective, readers are drawn in by exciting superheroic fights, but stay because they are invested in the characters and care about what happens to them.



Photo courtesy of: Samantha Bryant

What are you working on now?

My work in progress is a new novel, working title Thursday’s Children. It’s young adult dystopian romance and started out as a novella I intended to include in a book bundle with some author friends. 

love trying out new genres and was excited to write something aimed at the age group I teach. I wasn’t able to keep the story small enough for a novella, though, so here I am several months later, hoping to finish the first draft by spring of 2019.

My three main characters Kye’luh Wade, Malcolm Singletary, and Jason Berger are smart, strong capable kids and I’m loving writing their story. The novel takes place in a near future in which a shadowy governmental agency called the EBC (Ethical Behavior Committee) has been making “troublemakers” disappear and taking the affected children into educational centers.

When sixteen-year-old track star Kye’luh Wade and her cousins escape the system and run off to their survivalist grandfather’s mountain hideaway, they must decide whether to cower and survive or take on the system and make a difference.

How many books have you written?

Three are published. Three others have complete drafts on my hard drive. Two others have incomplete drafts on my hard drive. Another exists only in notes and in my heart. Yet another lies abandoned on my hard drive. I’m also in the middle of a nonfiction book with a partner-writer.

So, I think I would count six of those as books I “have written” and three as ones I “am writing.” Who knows what the others will become? Not bad when you consider that I didn’t take it seriously until I turned 42.



Photo courtesy of: Samantha Bryant

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?

I’ve been so fortunate to find support and advice from writers whose careers are more established than mine. I take great joy in passing this knowledge on to others.

When I teach creative writing classes, take part on panels, judge contests, or just have a good conversation with beginning writers, I am so pleased to offer help and encouragement to others. It feels like a circle of life in that way.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

There is no “magic bullet.” There’s no right way or wrong way to go about this. There is only the way that works for you. Building a writing life will involve a bit of trial and error, but it’s worth it for the fulfillment of a dream. Stay the course!

What message are you sharing in your books?

The Menopausal Superhero Series isn’t a message-preaching sort of book, but it does have a lot to say about friendship among women and about issues surrounding aging.

I dedicated the first book to “any woman who has ever felt betrayed by her own body.” I hope that other women recognize their own feelings and experiences in the pages of my books and find comfort by the images in that mirror.



Photo courtesy of: Samantha Bryant

When you not writing where can we find you?

Though I love to travel, I’ve been more of a homebody these past few years. Children turned out to be a very expensive proposition! I wouldn’t trade mine for the world, but it has kept me in a closer orbit in this phase of life.

I find a lot of close to home joys in long walks in the woods and by the river with my dog and in attending as many cultural events as my pocketbook allows. I’m a huge fan of the Retro series at the Carolina theater, and my husband and I see at least one live performance of something by Shakespeare every year.

I always say my favorite gift is tickets—to almost anything!

What are your favorite books/authors?

I’ve been on a Shirley Jackson kick lately, revisiting The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and taking on some of her works I hadn‘t read. I read classics and contemporary novels alongside a fair amount of nonfiction. I’m attracted to character-driven work, but I also love an intriguing setting.

I review nearly everything I read on Goodreads and would love to connect with you there!



Photo courtesy of: Samantha Bryant


What are your favorite TV shows/movies?

I’m chronically behind on television. There are not enough hours in the day to hold down my day job, create all the things, and read and watch all the things!
I am an old movie buff, and many of my Hollywood crushes are on people who died before I was born, like Humphrey Bogart and Gary Cooper. The Quiet Man is one of my favorite movies of all time.

I do enjoy a good superhero movie or show, so am trying to catch up on all the newest DC and Marvel creations out there. A goodly amount of my television time is spent with my family.

The youngest and I just finished She-Ra: Princesses of Power, which was great fun! The eldest and I watched The Haunting of Hill House which somehow was nothing like the book, and exactly like the book at the same time. The husband and I recently watched Altered Carbon, which was mind-blowing.

Is there anything else you'd like your readers to know about you?

I have the best and most supportive family. I’d never have been able to make a go of this whole “writing thing” without their love and encouragement and work.

Do you have a website/Facebook page?

Are you kidding? Social media is so much fun! I LOVE being a twenty-first century girl, with the entire world at my fingertips.

I dabble in a variety of formats, so there’s a good chance we have at least one in common. Here’s my stack of current links:


Where can we find your books?

My Amazon page is probably the easiest way to access them though many of my publications are also available by request at your favorite indie or big box bookstore.
You can also subscribe to my newsletter for updates on my public appearances and new releases (I promise: no more than one newsletter per month). 


Thank you, Samantha, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!




Photo courtesy of: Samantha Bryant



Kamyla Chung And The Classroom Bully Is Story Monster Approved!


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Interview With Author/Teacher: Robin Woods

Photo courtesy of: Robin Woods

Robin Woods loves vampires and English Literature. She enjoys the latter so much she studied the subject at college, taught it to her high school students, and has penned eleven books with more on the way.

A former high-school educator, her dedication to her students prompted her to write for teens and young adults. Born and raised in California, she still lives there with her husband and two children.

Now that I've introduced you to Robin let's get to know her a little better.




Hello, Robin, welcome to Lemon Drop Literary. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

Why did you become a teacher?

When I was fourteen years old, I decided I wanted to do two things—teach and write. I’ve been focused ever since. I taught right out of college and never looked back. That is, until this year, where I’ve made a huge change in my life. 

I’ve quit my day job. Eek! After two-and-a-half decades of teaching English (literature and writing), I’ve retired from teaching and am writing as a career (with the support of my fabulous husband).

What grade did you teach?

I taught one year of junior high. Bless all of you who have that gifting because I do not. I spent the rest of my career teaching high school (junior and seniors) and college. Mostly American and British literature. My editors tease me because I often get my British and American spellings mixed up when I write because of my twenty-three years of Brit. Lit.

How has your teaching experience influenced your writing?

My students are actually the ones who spurred me on. I had my incomplete manuscript for my first novel (The Unintended) on a table. One of my students picked it up and asked if she could read it. I nervously said yes. 

She sat there and read for forty-five minutes without getting up once. When she had to leave, she asked if she could come back the next day and continue. Long story short, one student turned into a group of students, and they wanted new pages each day. 

They pushed me until I finished. That group stuck with me through all six books in the series and pushed me to write faster and to be better. I am forever grateful.

Additionally, my creative writing workbooks are a culmination of my three loves: teaching, writing, and photography. I enjoyed writing bell activities and story starters for journal work. I channeled that love into my non-fiction.

What inspired you to become a writer?

I fell in love with Hobbits and dragons and vampires at a young age and wanted to create my own stories.


Photo courtesy of: Robin Woods

Which genres do you write?

I’m published in both young adult (urban fantasy) and non-fiction (creative writing workbooks).

What do you find most challenging writing for your genres?

Honestly, I think finishing is the hardest thing. I believe most writers struggle with this. It’s easy to get started, but it isn’t always fun to write the transitional scenes.

What are you working on now?

I have several other projects in the works. I’m toggling between two more Prompt Me Workbooks, co-writing a Rom-Com (with author Tamar Hela), a film script, and a Beauty & the Beast mash up (with Vikings). I don’t have enough hours in the day.

How many books have you written?

Currently, I have eleven books out. Prompt Me Romance will be out in early February just in time for Valentine’s Day.


Photo courtesy of: Robin Woods

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?

I love that my creative writing books have helped some teens grow closer to their parents. I’ve received multiple thank you messages from readers who write with their kids.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Write often. Read often. Don’t worry about editing until you finish. Hire a professional editor. If you don’t write for a while, don’t beat yourself up—just get back to writing.

What message are you sharing in your books?

I try not to have an agenda, I personally hate being preached at when I read fiction. But I do have strong themes. The theme that runs throughout The Watcher Series is redemption. Some of my characters have to struggle to find not only goodness in the world, but in themselves.

I also do my best not to glorify horrible behavior, but show them as destructive and have a positive alternative. Though obsessive behavior can seem romantic, it is ultimately damaging.

When you’re not writing where can we find you?

Traveling has always been a passion. My parents dragged my brother and I all over the country in a camper since we could crawl, so I think it’s hard wired. As a teacher, I would live like a pauper all year and save my money so I could travel all summer.

What are your favorite books?

I always feel that this is a cruel question. Ha. Here are a few I recommend to people: My Lady Jane (Princess Bride style snark and adventure), Shatter Me Series by Mafi (swoon worthy dystopian), Clockwork Angel by Clare (book boyfriend heaven set in Victorian England), Whine with Cheese by Wayne (smoking, hot rom-com), and The Scorpio Races by Stiefvater (one of the most unique books I’ve ever read).

What are your favorite TV shows/movies?

TV: Firefly, Friends, The Office, The Walking Dead, Suits, and Stranger Things.

Is there anything else you'd like your readers to know about you?

Sorry, here is my shameless plug. If you love writing or need a gift for someone who loves it, check out the Prompt Me Series. They are all under $10. Happy writing!
Where to find more about Robin Woods


Thank you, Robin, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!



Photo courtesy of: Robin Woods




Monday, November 19, 2018

My Book Review of Proud Black Girl on CHW





Author: Sly L. Williams

Reviewer: Ellwyn Autumn

Rating: 4 Lemon Drops


                                                         Coffee House Writers


4 LEMON DROPS!
I Really Liked It!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Interview With Author Matt Brunnabend

Photo courtesy of: Matt Brunnabend

Matt Brunnabend is a man who writes his dreams into reality. He works a regular 9 to 5 job but longs for the day when he can write full time. He and his Cockatoo live in a house that Matt is painstakingly remodeling into the ideal home.  


Matt loves science fiction, Stephen King novels, spending time with family and friends, and honing his craft.

Now that I've introduced you to Matt let's get to know him a little better.




Hello, Matt, welcome to Lemon Drop Literary. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

What inspired you to be a writer?

In my last job, I did a fair bit of flying.  When I would fly, I would take a Stephen King book with me. I loved to read his compilations of short stories. 

One day, sitting on the tarmac in a plane while a storm passed by, I finished reading one of his stories and thought to myself, “Hey, I think I can do this.”

Now, the definition of a professional, is someone who makes it look easy.  But that’s what inspired me to try and I must say, I love the art of writing.  It’s fun to play God, therapeutic to touch on subjects and topics that trouble me, and in the process entertain and excite others.
                       

Is writing your full-time profession? 

Not yet.  But I fantasize about bouncing out of bed at 6 a.m. and hopping on the computer so I can write.  I have no shortage of ideas for novels just the painful reality that I never have enough time to dedicate to my art.

Have you won any awards? 

No, and here’s why.  Fear.  I have written five novels, but published one.  After I wrote my very first novel I thought, “If I only have one chance of making it as a writer, I want that first novel to be a huge hit”. 

My first novel, Life’s Dream is a fun story but I wasn’t feeling that it would that big hit.  That’s when I came upon the idea of The Amant Chronicles.  It’s a four part sci-fi adventure series with romance and mystery.  It’s my baby. 

So I focused on writing that first volume, but after I wrote it, I was nervous about getting it published.  It’s all me in those pages and I wasn’t ready to stand tall against any potential criticism. 

It took me finishing five novels ( Life’s Dream, Amant Chronicles Volumes 1-3, and Bright Future ) to find the courage to push ahead and publish that first novel.  So there hasn’t been enough time yet to garner any praise or awards, but there’s always tomorrow.

How long have you been writing?

It’s been about five years now.  I know I can write more novels, but like any art form, they take time and that’s the most precious of commodities. 

Balancing a regular 9 to 5 job, spending time with friends, remodeling my house by myself, working out in the gym, and spending time with my very needy Cockatoo, leaves only a scant bit of time to write…


Photo courtesy of: Matt Brunnabend

How many books have you written?

Five so far, ( Bright Future, Life’s Dream, The Amant Chronicles Volumes 1, 2, and 3.)  Trying to finish the final volume of the Amant Chronicles.

Which genre do you write for? 

Yes.  Ha!  Well, my love is for Science Fiction, but I don’t hold strictly to it.  I love Sci Fi, because I’m a Star Trek, Star Wars, and many others fan.. 

I enjoy astronomy and the thought that there is so much more out there.  It fires the creativity in me and it also works well with my lazy side that doesn’t enjoy research. 

Fiction allows me to just ‘create’ what I need.  I also enjoy an adventure with some romance sprinkled in. What’s life without some romance?

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

Oddly enough, I don’t really have much of a challenge.  Instead of writer’s block, I have the opposite. 

I have two other novels in my head right now that I’d love to be writing.  And I know that once I start one of those two, another idea will sprout and grow, tormenting me while I write.  That’s actually what happened while I was writing my first novel, Life’s Dream. 

Just three chapters in, I had the idea for The Amant Chronicles and I would have spurts of ideas on scenes, dialog, and growing plot line every day.  It got to the point where it was nagging me to drop everything and write it. 

I’m one chapter shy of finishing Life’s Dream because I had to get the first volume of The Amant Chronicles down on paper. 

What are you working on now?

I am currently 8 chapters into the fourth and final volume of The Amant Chronicles. 

I put out a poll on the internet, asking reader’s that if they were looking at a four part series, would they buy the first volume and wait for the next three or wait until all four volumes were out so they could buy and binge read.  Binge reading won by a landslide.  So I’m busy trying to finish the fourth volume. 

Release of Volume 2 should be by the end of November with publication of the 3rd volume soon after.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?

Speaking to a fan who read and loved my novel.  She got everything I wrote, from the subtle humor to the romantic aspects and the building mystery.  It was so enjoyable seeing my work appreciated so much.  

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

One, ask as many questions as you can.  In publishing my first novel, it was an extremely costly and aggravating experience. 

The vanity publisher I used made mistakes at every single point along the way.  Even when it was all done and I received my first copy of my novel, it was actually someone else’s novel with my cover on it.  I was floored. 

I wish I had asked other authors more questions.   It was only through book events, where I had plenty of time to converse with fellow authors that I learned about the process of self-publishing, which is both a huge money saver and allows complete control of your novel.

Second, don’t listen to anyone but you when it comes to your writing.  Write what you want, what makes you feel good, what gives you therapy.  No matter the topic, fans will find you and success will follow.

Is there anything else you'd like your readers to know about you?

Hmm, not really.  If there’s anything they’re curious about, I’d say just ask.  One of my favorite comedians goes by the nickname, Fluffy.  I’m sure you know his name. 

He gave a closing statement to the crowd at one of his concerts. 
            He said, “You folks make me.  You enjoy my craft and pay me for the privilege of doing comedy.  So don’t feel shy about asking for an autograph, or just saying hi.”  

Granted, I don’t have that fame or success, but I’m always open to talk with anyone who has questions about me or my work.

What message are you sharing in your books? 

One aspect I love about every volume of The Amant Chronicles, is that each volume is two stories.  Of course, one is about the continuing adventure and mystery of Amant’s life.

 But the reader is treated to a second storyline about another person in Amant’s lineage.  So I can and do, have two themes in each novel.  I speak out against racism, I reinforce the importance of duty and honor.  I also champion the challenge of the fights in life. 

What are your favorite books?

I never used to think about that.  But when I reflect on the books I’ve read, I can say that I truly enjoyed Fahrenheit 451, The Stand, and several of Stephen King’s short stories. 

What are your favorite movies, TV shows?

My top 3 all time movies: Field of Dreams, Shawshank Redemption, The Unforgiven. 

TV shows.. hmm… I guess the newest Star Trek, Rick and Morty, and The Venture Brothers. 

When you aren't writing where can we find you?

Some place in my house, remodeling.  I’m hoping to have the house done in the next year.  I am a firm believer in making a house a home. 

So I take a few years to redo every room and add my touch in one way or another..  My current house, well, it’s been a huge project, including removing load-bearing walls and remodeling the entire kitchen. 

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Absolutely.  www.mjbrun.com   
MJ Brunnabend on Facebook and Instagram. 
I will be putting more time and effort into my website, and upcoming novel releases so please stop by.

Where can we find your books?

You can find them on Amanzon, Barnes and Noble and other booksellers. 
But I highly suggest buying your soft-copy from my website, www.mjbrun.com, since you’ll save $5.00 off the price, get a free short story, and have it personalized for you and the author’s signature. 

Thank you, Matt, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success in the future and lots of luck!