February is almost over! On Monday we’ll wrap up the Fantasy February posts and have a birthday celebration for King’s Warrior, since it is having it’s very first birthday!!! (Despite being 4 years old)
But today I am pleased to introduce you to another Clean Indie Reads Fantasy Author, Peggy Mound McAloon. Peggy will be giving away a kindle or pdf copy of the first two books in her Lessons from the Fiori series at the end of this post, so make sure you don’t miss that!
Also, Peggy has worked with a child counselor to create a discussion sheet to go with her books that can help parents talk to their children about bullying and other dangers that exist in real life that can be difficult for children to deal with and scary to talk about. She has provided a link to the discussion sheet HERE.
Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals, book 1 of the Lessons from Fiori series
Elle Burton is an ordinary kid…or so she thinks. On her tenth birthday, she encounters Eunie Mae, a tiny, fairylike being who comes from a world called Fiori. Other than some children under the age of eight, the only human beings who can see Fiorins are Guides-people who have been chosen to help protect the children of Earth. Being a guide seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Elle has always loved helping others, and now she’ll have magical assistance. But not everybody wants her to succeed. There are evil forces that do everything in their power to keep the guides from offering support to those in need. Can Elle be brave enough to oppose them?
When and why did you start writing? I began my career in storytelling when I was five or six. I made paper puppets and created stories about the characters. I started writing down my stories in grade school, but didn’t share them unless they were part of a class project. I love reading and writing, but life didn’t allow me to pursue these passions until after the children were grown. My first published book was written as part of my career in the field of commercial credit. It was called “The Art of Business Credit Investigation”. This book was recommended in Inc. Magazine’s June, 1992 edition. My true passion as an author is to inspire both children and adults to find hope in this life filled with challenges. Most of life’s challenges are not insurmountable!
Why did you choose to write in this genre? I loved reading fiction as a child. It gave me a way to escape the bullying and abuse. I wanted to combine fantasy and reality in such a way that kids might actually see themselves in the story and strive to be better people. One grandpa read the first Elle Burton book and stated that he found himself cheering for the bad guy to become a better person. That’s the kind of response I’m hoping the kids encounter as they get into the story.
What inspires you to write? I have been incredibly lucky in life. Mother used to call me her Pollyanna when I was little. No matter how bad things might be, I always found the good in everything. After the traumatic brain injury in the late ‘70’s, I was told I would never work again. My words came out garbled and I could only manage about two to three hours of activity each day. For five years, I believed the doctors and specialists who all urged me to give up hoping I’d ever have a normal life. My words can still get scrambled when I’m over-tired, and I can temporarily lose the use of my left arm or leg again, but for the most part I have a wonderful life. I’m not the same, but what I am isn’t bad. I worked hard to develop my recovery program. I took some things from the therapy I was directed to, but found the majority of the things that worked on my own. I want to convince others to never give up. If I can write books today, then my readers can do whatever their heart is urging them to do too. I do hire the best editors I can find because I have a tendency to pick a favorite word and use it multiple times on the same page. The editors catch those. It just proves you don’t have to be a perfect wordsmith to write books. You simply need to be smart enough to surround yourself with excellent mentors and editors.
What is the best part about writing? Whether it’s through the books or my blog, the best part is when I hear from someone that my words have inspired them. I’ve been amazed at how many women have read “Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals” and shared with me that they suffered abuse as children. They read about my background and desire to help kids, and they find the courage for the first time to share their own story. That’s what this is all about for me. Whether it’s convincing a child to find help if someone is trying to hurt them or to inspire someone with a disability to keep trying, it’s what I want to do with this last chapter in my life.
What is the most important thing you have learned about yourself through writing? I continue to learn and appreciate how many people have influenced me in this life. For every bad thing that’s happened to me, there were a hundred moments of inspiration I can share with others. For every moment of pain I thought I’d never recover from, there were hours of joy that others will find benefit in learning about. What I hope others learn from my writing is that I’m no more perfect than they are. We all make mistakes and have demons who sometimes return to haunt us, but we continue to grow and improve every single day.
Describe your ideal place to write. I love to both read and write by the water. We always went to the lake during the summer months as I was growing up. We also lived close to the Mississippi River and I loved going there too. The waves and breezes have always inspired and calmed me. I can be swept downstream to a new adventure or out to sea as the water laps against the shore. As my own children grew up, we also took them to the lakes and rivers. The harbor in Duluth was one of our favorite destinations. It’s probably why the portals for the Fiorins to enter Earth are through the reflections of children in the ponds and lakes in Fiori. Although my favorite place to write is by the water, my inspiration comes from this mixed-up mess we all call life. It’s from our normal surroundings that I find the inspiration I take with me to the water.
What is your favorite thing you have written? Why? My personal favorite is the story of the “I Can”. It’s one of my favorite stories from my childhood. The hero of the story is my grandpa. He gave a gift to a broken child which would give me my life back decades after his death. That story was shared on my blog and is also a chapter in Joel Comm’s ?So What Do You Do? Vol. 2 – Discovering the Genius Next Door With One Simple Question. Here’s the link to that story: http://peggymcaloon.com/if-i-can-you-can-too/#.Vqw7pyMrLIU The story will also explain some of the inspiration for the winged creatures in my “Lessons from Fiori” series.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing? Why? That’s a simple question to answer. The greatest influence on my writing has been my children. I used to think I must have done something really bad when I was little. I always figured if I worked a little harder, got better grades, etc., that the abuse would end. It wasn’t until I had my own children that I realized the pure joy and innocence of a child. There wasn’t anything those children ever did that could ever encourage someone to hurt them. They gave me the courage to fight back from the brain injury and to begin writing to inspire and empower children like them to be the best they can be and to always treat others with respect and kindness. One of the greatest scenes in “Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals” was about the class bully, and was taken from a real-life experience we had with my son’s bully.
How would you like to be remembered? I tell people that my grandfather had the kindest heart of any individual I have ever met in this life. His wisdom and compassion in approaching the people lucky enough to have known him isn’t normally seen in this world today. I would love to have people describe me as being kind.
What is the most fun thing about writing? I love being able to create an entire world using the imagination of my childhood. Fiori is a cross between what I think heaven would look like and Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile, AL. I tried to envision a place where all children would feel safe. The flowers are as big as tractor tires in Fiori and the lions play with the lambs. Huge birds called Trueros float in the ponds and are big enough for a child to ride on their backs. Elephant-like creatures are small like puppies and are house pets in Fiori. If it’s fun and magical, you might find it in Fiori. One of the best parts is being able to ride on the back of Pegasus under a sky filled with the colors of the most brilliant sunset you’ve ever experienced.
What is something (book, short story, poem, paragraph, sentence) that you wish YOU had written, and why? One thing most people don’t know about me is that I was always involved in music. I began to play the organ for church services when I was about nine-years-old. Based on my life story, I think I would have liked to have been the one to write “The Impossible Dream”. Not because I believe it’s the most beautiful song in the world, but because it is as close to a theme song for me as I could ever imagine.
What are your other hobbies? I began painting with watercolors about five years ago. I belong to a group of painters which meets weekly to paint for a few hours together. It’s probably one of the most relaxing things I’ve ever done. In that respect, it beats writing any day of the week. I have to admit my creative spirit is challenged equally by art and writing. I wouldn’t want to give up either of them. I’ve even won a few blue ribbons and one Grand Prize at the Dunn County Fair where my book “Missing” begins.
On a lighter note (you may answer as many or as few of these as you wish):
1. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Triple Chocolate Gelato
2. Favorite season? Why? Spring – I love all the flowers and the promise of new life.
3. Favorite hot beverage? Tea
4. Favorite dessert? Black Bottom Pecan Pie
6. The best pizza you’ve ever had was from….? Roma
8. How many siblings do you have? One brother
9. Storms: awesome or terrifying? Storms are neither awesome nor terrifying. We adopted a little blind dog who is terrified of storms. He has a tendency to try to get to the highest place possible when it thunders. That means he may launch himself from the sofa toward a table with a glass lamp on it. All we know about him is that he belonged to an older gentleman in Milwaukee who died. He was first taken to a pound there and he broke off half his teeth trying to chew his way out of the cage. For us, storms mean we now take turns staying up all night to prevent him from hurting himself. We won’t put him in a cage. I will point out here that last summer during a storm, I had a massive asthma attack and couldn’t get to my inhaler. He immediately stopped his pacing and panting and tried desperately to lift my head from the floor. When that didn’t work, he started knocking things in the house around until he made enough noise to wake my husband up to come to my rescue.
10. What is your favorite movie? Gone with the Wind