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Today I’m excited to have debut author Dorine White here to share about her new book, THE EMERALD RING, which was released on May 14, 2013. I really enjoyed watching Sara use her wits to discover what the emerald ring is with her friends Heidi and Kainu. And I really found the mythology based on Cleopatra very unique.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Ordinary tween life turns upside down when Ancient Egypt intrudes on modern middle school life. Twelve year old Sara Guadalupe Bogus reads about adventures, but unexpectedly is drawn into one when a mystical emerald ring that once belonged to Cleopatra becomes stuck on her finger.

A series of burglaries spook Sara’s small Ohio hometown. Concluding that the root of all the crimes is the emerald ring, Sara realizes it’s up to her and her friends, Heidi and African exchange student Kainu, to save the town and protect Cleopatra’s legacy. Filled with magic, the ring thrusts Sara into a world filled with nightmares, allows her to shape shift into an Egyptian cat and battle assassins.

Hi Dorine. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer. 

I attended BYU in Utah where I graduated with a BA in Humanities. I love humanities. It includes everything I am excited about, including history, culture and art. The other thing that I am into is reading books. From the time I was in High School I loved fantasy novels. I devour them :) So, the urge to combine my two passions grew within me until I started writing. At first I tried screenplays, but after 2 or 3 movie scripts, I decided to try my hand at books. I have never looked back.
I am proud to say that I am a stay-at-home mom to six wonderful and hair raising children. It is my dream-come true. I love my family. Writing is a bonus.

2. Awesome how you were able to combine your two passions.. How did you come up with the ideas of the emerald ring and its connection to Cleopatra? 

I wanted to write about something children would be interested in reading. When I was a kid I was fascinated by Ancient Egypt, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Cleopatra has always fascinated me, and I wanted to write about her life and tragic death. The magic gemstones are a complete myth. I have not come across any writings that mention Cleopatra was into magic. I took a literary license to add magic to the story.

3. Cleopatra is such an interesting historical person. Share about your main character, Sara. Is there any part of you in her? 

Sara is based on a lot of different people I know. Part of my family is Guatemalan, so I thought a lot about my niece Carissa when I was imaging scenes. I’d see her image in my head as I wrote. Personality wise, she is a lot like me. When I was a kid I read tons of books about other places, and always wanted to travel, just like Sara. She also gets her fear from me. I was scared of the dark as a kid and often had nightmares. I also know a lot of people that suffer from anxiety, so the inclusion of Sara’s mom’s panic attacks came from real people.

I got her name from two of my best friends growing up, Sara Carlson and Denise Bogus. Yes, Bogus is a real last name!

4. This is part of a series. Have you plotted the whole story line out? When do you recommend knowing the big picture of the story in relation to writing the first book in the series? 

I’m not the type to outline, so it is all stuck in my head. I have written the second book and I am almost
done with the third. I know where I’m going. I just have to get there.

The main arc involves the secret cult and the magic gemstones. In each book a kid has one of the gemstones, and one or more of the cult members are after them. As the series progresses, we learn that Cleopatra has need of her gemstones in the afterlife, so the conclusion will involve finding Cleopatra’s tomb and returning the gemstones to her. But, the kids need to evade the cult. If the cult gets the gemstones they will rise to power, restore the Roman Empire and enslave the world. I’ve had the arc in mind from the get go.

5. I bet it’s been helpful that book 2 and part of book 3 is already written at the time this book is released. What was one of the biggest challenges in writing THE EMERALD RING? How did you overcome it?

Editing! There are so many rules to grammar that it boggles my mind. I love writing and storytelling, but grammar- yuck! For this book I was lucky enough to find a book doctor to help me. I also picked up a couple grammar guides and bought an online grammar service. Even with all that help, I still got things wrong. Wow, it was tough. I don’t think I’ve overcome it yet, it is a skill in progress.

6. I’m not a big fan of grammar either. It’s great that you hired someone to help you with what you struggle with. Your publisher is Cedar Fort. Share about your road to publication and your experience in working with a smaller press. 

I have been writing books for almost 9 years. The Emerald Ring is my third manuscript. The first one I spent years sending to agents and editors, all to rejections. Number 2 got set aside. The Emerald Ring showed promise right from the beginning. Even though agents said no, several publishers requested the manuscript. It went all the way up to acquisitions several times, but then wasn’t contracted. I actually gave up after 2 ½ years of trying, and began focusing on my 2nd manuscript again.

I was just thinking of sending that 2nd manuscript out, when my sister-in-law Lauri told me to try The Emerald Ring one more time. I decided to take her advice. As a blogger, I now had more contacts and had learned about smaller presses. Cedar Fort was one of those smaller presses. They use an online submission form to query. I sent my letter in, and waited. When I finally got asked to send in my manuscript, they got back to me within the week and asked to purchase the book. It was amazing.
I have enjoyed working with Cedar Fort. I have a great marketing person named Kelly. He helps answer my questions. Though most of the promoting is on my shoulders, I feel that is the same with most publishers these days.

7. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Cedar Fort from other authors too. What should authors consider in querying smaller presses? Why did you pick Cedar Fort rather than another small press? 

Honestly, after three plus years, Cedar Fort offered me the contract. As authors, we’d like to think that several publishing houses will be fighting over our book, but that just isn’t the case. As a debut author, I do not have as many choices as well known authors. I was happy Cedar Fort picked me. They publish over 140 books a year, which is huge for a small press. They also have connections to the LDS world, which helps with marketing.

If an author is going to query a small press, check them out first. Make sure they know what they are doing. As a blogger, I have run into several small presses that just don’t have a clue about marketing and promotion. Even though the author does most of the work, you still need a press that has connections. Also, small presses can take years to publish. They might only put out 5 books a year. So, you get put on a list 3 years down the road. And then, what if you have a sequel? It is all worth thinking about.

8. Those are all important things to think about. Knowing when your book would be published seems like a big consideration. I know you’re on blog tour. How did you set it up and what advice do you have for the rest of us from your experiences?

Hmm, advice wise, be a nice person. I am also a blogger, so I know a lot of other people who blog. But, it all comes down to being nice. I personally sent out emails to my blogging friends, not group emails. I wanted them to know that I chose them personally and was interested in each of their blogs. I think being a blogger for the last several years is making a big difference in my marketing. I’m glad I started blogging long before I was published.

Cedar Fort allowed me to pick the dates I wanted for my tour, and then posted it on their website. They also designed the blog tour banner, which was a big help. I was open to bloggers signing up on the same days, and also, I was open to newbie bloggers. I have one person on the tour with only 16 followers. But that is okay, because I started out that way too. We all help each other and it makes the world a better place.

9. Sending the personal e-mails sounds like something we should all do. What are you working on now?

I am working on Cleopatra’s Legacy- Book 3- The Diamond Looking Glass. Inside scoop- it takes place in Paris, France.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Dorine. You can find Dorine at:

Twitter @DorineWhite https://twitter.com/DorineWhite

Dorine’s publisher generously offered a copy of THE EMERALD RING for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on June 1st. I’ll announce the winner on June 3rd.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome, but will be an e-book giveaway.

Here’s what’s coming up:

I’ll be off on Monday, Memorial Day. Yay! We all need a rest.

Next Wednesday, I’m participating in HB Bolten’s blog tour for her new book, THE SERPENT’S RING, a middle grade fantasy that will fans of Percy Jackson should like. There will be a giveaway too.

The following Monday, I have an interview with Merrie Haskell and a giveaway of HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS, a story about a runaway princess who learns about dragons, danger, and duty. I loved Merrie's first book, THE PRINCESS CURSE, and can't wait to read this new book of hers.

The Monday after that I’m interviewing Dianne Salerni and giving away an ARC of her new book, THE CAGED GRAVES. It’s a historical novel filled with mystery, paranormal elements, and romance that I really enjoyed. Dianne’s one of my writing heroes and I’m thrilled to interview her.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you next Wednesday!


Beth said...

This book sounds charming! Congratulations to Dorine! And I'll keep Cedar Fort in mind.

Donna K. Weaver said...

What a fun interview. And another Utah author. It must be in the water. lol I think my granddaughter would enjoy this book.

Kim Van Sickler said...

Was not familiar with Cedar Fort. Sounds like you paid your dues, Dorine! I wish you the best of luck with The Emerald Ring series!

Reader said...

I have my eye on this book. Great giveaway and interview.


Tyrean Martinson said...

Great interview!!!

Crystal Collier said...

What a fun story! I'm making a list of books for my daughter, and I think this one is going on it. Yay!

nutschell said...

Wow! Sounds like a fun story. Definitely up my alley. I'll have to check it out. wonderful interview!

Emily R. King said...

I love this premise! What a fun story and setting. And the cover is gorgeous. I want to hear more about her shape shifting into Egyptian cat.

Congrats to Dorine!

Brenda said...

Lovely interview, I too was not familiar with Cedar Fort. What an interesting road to publication and I feel you on Grammer..ugh.

Kristin Lenz said...

Sounds like a story my daughter would love. Congrats to Dorine - sounds like it worked out great for you to go with a small press. Good luck with the rest of the series!

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Great interview. I also thank you for the information on Cedar Fort. Good luck with the book.

Eisen said...

Great interview! And thanks for having the giveaway - I tweeted it also:

CG @ Paper Fury said...

It's always really interesting hearing about small presses. Great interview! And way to go, Dorine, for being a writer and a mum! That's what I'd like to do. ;)

Leigh Covington said...

Great interview ladies! This book sounds excellent and I love that I came here today to find it. I'm currently looking for books to add to my classroom as well as for my own reading pleasure and this needs to be one of them! :D

Bryann James Almeda said...

Yay, im from the Philippines.!
You are awesome!

Christina Lee said...

What a story of persistence!!!

And the idea of adding magic to a Cleopatra story sounds awesome. :D

PK HREZO said...

What a great story!! Love that she resubbed that first ms. I always have that hope for my saved mss. Maybe some day ... le sigh ...

Bluerose said...

I love the Cleopatra connection! It sounds fun! :)

I tweeted.... https://twitter.com/BluerosesHeart/status/338669625132863488

Anonymous said...

That description blew me away. I'm going to add this to my wish list.