This Week Featuring:
- Published: August 28, 2014
- By George L. Nitti
On August 30, at Ye Olde Warwick Bookshop (2 - 4 p.m.) in Warwick, NY, authors Sharon Linnéa and B.K. Sherer will read from and sign copies of their new novel, Plagues of Eden, as well as raffle off a basket of Paris, West Point and wine-themed prizes. Plagues of Eden is part of their new trilogy that picks up where they left off in the thrilling adventures of their Eden Series.
So as summer careens to an end, tell me what’s happening with you.
It’s been a busy time of year for me. I have a son who is going back to college at Suny Plattsburgh and a daughter who is a senior at Warwick Valley High School. With 2 dogs and 3 cats and a new book coming out, it’s a little bit crazy.
How long have you been writing the Eden series?
Chasing Eden, which was the first to come out, was published in 2006. Then there was Beyond Eden and the Treasure of Eden. So about 8 years.
Is Plagues of Eden the 4th book in the series?
Yes, and it’s the first book of a new trilogy. So it’s a good point for a new reader to jump in.
I see. Kind of like Star Wars?
Hopefully better than the first one in that second trilogy. (Sorry, Phantom Menace!)
What in part defines this new trilogy?
Although not much time elapses between the two trilogies, we now find our protagonist, Chaplain Jamie Richards, stateside at West Point. She is married—but not exactly settled. What also marks the break is the fact that we get inside the head of her husband, the mysterious Sword 23—as well as a large mélange of bad guys and good guys, of course.
What are some of the highlights of the book?
There is a madman who is about to unleash the 10 deadly plagues of ancient Egypt. Jamie is called in to help and has to fly around the world to stop the infamous people who are doing it. The book also gets into winemaking, which we had a great deal of fun researching—not only Napa, France and Italy, but in China as well! Check out the trailer and you'll get a sense of the adventure you are in for.
How does wine come into play?
One of the characters is dangerously delusional. However, he is able to create a fantastic grape, and wine, to win the heart of the woman he loves.
That sounds interesting. So how has publishing changed since your first book?
Since 2006, publishing has changed in historic ways. In 2006, 100% of our sales were of traditional, “paper” books. Now, close to 80% of sales are e-books, and they are available in audio, which is fun. , Fortunately, when people read the first book, more than 50% go on to buy the 2nd and 3rd.
Tell me a little about B.K. Sherer and your collaboration with her.
She’s a Presbyterian minister and an active duty Army chaplain. She’s also very good at what she does. She’s currently stationed at West Point, and even though she often works 7 day weeks, it’s been a treat to have her not only here in the U.S. instead of deployed, but in the same time zone! And a drivable distance! But I know not to get too attached to the current situation. But because she also has a “day job,” we need to work around her schedule.
When we are working, we first hammer out the outline. Then she takes characters and I take characters, and we work through a first draft. Obviously, she takes the military characters. I eventually do a final edit to make sure the voice(s) are consistent and that the narrative flows.
So you like collaborating?
There is nothing better than a good collaborator. It becomes effortless. But it’s also very challenging when you are writing a lot of facts and trying to get inside someone’s head. Writing with a co-author is very much like a marriage, in which you both have to be willing to give more than 50%. It’s more like each has to give 90%.
What’s your background? Have you always been a writer?
I have a background in publishing. I worked for 3 major book publishers, as well as 5 national magazines. It taught me to really value a good editor, and I’m sure grateful for ours!
You also teach a writing workshop with author Matthew Field. What is the gist of the workshop?
Do you have any writing advice?
First, take your craft seriously. Work on continuing to improve.
Second, put your butt in the chair. There’s no way around it.
Third, allow yourself a horrible first draft, but finish the whole draft before you edit. I can’t tell you how many people have a first chapter they’ve re-written 53 times, and nothing else!
For more info about the authors and the book, go to http://www.edenthrillers.com/
- Published: August 22, 2014
- By George L. Nitti with Kerryl Ann Ebneter
This summer I have been indulging myself in the world of mushrooms. I began the exploration in mid July when I noticed a mushroom on the ground just as I was considering what to do on our wooded land. The answer seemingly revealed itself to me in that instant – ‘go find mushrooms’ - and so I set out into the woods to see what I could learn.
My first few forays gave me a sense of the wide variety of ‘shrooms that reside on the forest floor. Wanting to learn more, I bought myself a mushroom identification guide and searched online for workshops that would aid me in this education. For the first time in my life, I felt I was entering the woods with a mission, arming myself with nothing more than a camera and a burning curiosity to know more about fungi.
Each time I went, I discovered something new in terms of mushrooms I had never seen. What fascinated me, even more than a successful identification, was how mushrooms compose themselves with other elements in nature – how they sit in leaves, grow on wood, pop out in ferns, nestle next to sticks, attach themselves to trees, and hang out and grow together as a family – with a kind of artistry worthy of a fine masterpiece.
Stumbling upon a mushroom workshop for beginning mycophiles on the internet, I realized this class was located only several minutes from friends whom we had previous plans to visit before the mushroom obsession hit. Coincidentally that place, called the Eagle Hill Institute, also had a restaurant on its premises named Christopher's at Eagle Hill, where we had made dinner reservations a month prior. Great coincidence I thought or as Kerryl termed, a “mushroom miracle."
We never made the workshop, but before dinner, we were greeted by the director of the institute (also manager of the restaurant) that holds these special workshops and he said, “If you have orange mushrooms on your property, I will be there to remove all of them for you,” with an enthusiasm that really caught our attention. And guess what? They happened to have them on the menu. Known as CHANTERELLES, they were served as an appetizer in a cream sauce with a phyllo dough. We ordered them and found them to be delicious, the first bite beginning our love affair with chanterelles.
One memorable experience occurred a couple days later at our friend’s home early morning when I went on a quest to find those special chanterelles. After spotting a patch at the onset of my exploration, somehow I was convinced that there were plenty more if I just went deeper into the woods. Feeling a little like an underwater diver entering unchartered territory, I plumbed the wooded depths, coming across all kinds of interesting and sacred places, caught in the spell of plush greenery, until I realized I was completely lost.
Yes, it was scary, seeing nothing but woods and having lost all sense of direction. At the same time, I would never have discovered untrodden places nor such a full spectrum of mushrooms. After about an hour and a half of trying to make my way out, I was set free, thanks to the ongoing sound of the motor of a truck on a distant roadside that I followed with my ears.
Although now relieved, I was disappointed that I had not found another chanterelle along this journey. Then, all of a sudden, I looked down, and I saw the unmistakable orange mushroom that led me to several more lying nearby which opened up into a small field of chanterelles. I gave out a whoop and picked them like flowers, bringing them home with a victory smile. That evening, I cooked them up for the first time and ate them with Kerryl and friends as they let me know I was going to take the first bite.
Needless to say, we were all giddy and happy, living to see the next day with no psychedelic or side effects.
I’ve continued to delve into the woods, seeking out the alluring chanterelles while embracing the numerous varieties of mushrooms and all of their magic.
Another but not final miracle in the world of mushrooms, Kerryl and I have discovered our own family of chanterelles growing amongst the evergreens just beyond our front door.