Royal Baby: Named! + David Litwack Novel Publicity Blog Tour Day 3–”Along the Watchtower” Excerpt

“What’s in a name?” Juliet famously asks Romeo. Well, if you’re a household in fair Verona, I can’t tell you. But if you’re the newest prince of England, the answer is a lot. According to The Globe and Mail, speculation over the new prince’s name was so hotly debated that bookies accepted tens of thousands of pounds in bets. Luckily, today’s announcement was anything but star-crossed–unless your bet was wrong, that is.

Prince George Alexander Louis. (Photo from USA Today; click image for full article and video.)

The name didn’t come as a total shock for most people (except the one who bet they would copy the newest Kardashian baby with “North”…really?). In fact, all of the names have great historical significance, although they did break the tradition of the previous two generations by streamlining the name from four to three.

Shocked or not, people around the world have not been quiet about their opinions. Traffic peaked on Monday, but it’s still going strong. MailOnline reported on Monday (the day of the royal birth) that it was one of the busiest days ever for social media, with #RoyalBaby as the top trend in the UK and one of the top in the world. With bandwidth well-spent, a massive 487 million Twitter users took part in the discussion internationally, with the UK only comprising 41% of that number.

Will the world’s fascination decrescendo, now that we have a name for the prince? Time will tell, but something tells me I don’t think so, at least not all the way. As I mentioned in my blog post about the royal birth and the media’s response, Kate & Will have millions of avid fans all over the world–and why not? They’re great role models and kind people. I would think an addition to their family will receive equal attention. Although this would disappoint some exasperated Tweeters, I think perhaps their requests to “Stop talking about the #RoyalBaby” are futile, in that they are actually perpetuating the trending hashtag. 😉 Regardless, I predict an exponential increase in “George” as a baby name. Perhaps the royal baby will now be the first “George” who comes to mind, as opposed to these pop culture paradigms:

So why were so many people not surprised about the names? Call it ESP or historical trends, but the three names have been popular throughout the family’s history. Although–or perhaps, because–Kate & Will are famously discreet about such things, many sites have postulated sources for the names. The most common hypothesis, which is indeed my favorite, is that “George” came both from being the patron saint of England and also the current Queen Elizabeth II’s father, George VI, whom you may recall from that brilliant movie, The King’s Speech. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It is an evocative, inspiring film that gives great insight into this monarch’s life and the British monarchy in general. It shows the painful struggle of a disability hindering a person’s very ability to communicate in public, hiding the wit and intelligence the country demands. More importantly, it shows how perseverance and loving support can overcome such a disability, and how the courage to do what is right is what makes history.

Speaking of disability and courage, let’s talk some more about David Litwack’s Along the Watchtower for day three of his whirlwind blog tour. For the first two days, I posted an interview with and a guest post by the author. Tonight, I will share an excerpt from this book as well as the book’s trailer.

As I mentioned last night, I haven’t gotten a chance to read this book yet, but the trailer, interview, and guest post got me interested. After reading the excerpt, I’m really intrigued. So far, I only see two links between the two narrations–the name, and a kind woman. I have a feeling those links will be very important throughout the novel. From reading the guest post, I know that the main character is actually the same person in both worlds, but it’s interesting to see how even the narration style is different. I guess if you’re going to escape into a fantasy world, you might as well escape all the way, even with vocabulary. I think it’s pretty unique. Is this something you’ve seen before, as a reader? Is it something you’ve tried before, as a writer? Let me know what you think in the comments, and as with the rest of this week, scroll to the bottom to see how to win prizes!

 Excerpt from Along the Watchtower

Please enjoy this gripping excerpt from Along the Watchtower by David Litwack. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

Becky 

On the ground floor, the center of the hospital opened into a small courtyard, an insecure space with too many places for insurgents to hide. I took a quick breath and tensed.

“Wait up, Ralph.”

“It’s okay, Freddie. You’re safe here.”

“Give me a minute. It’s my first time out.”

I surveyed the perimeter. A few benches. A flower garden dominated by hydrangeas, but not like the softball-sized blossoms my mom used to grow. These were small and paler than the Cape Cod variety, which were a blue that could compete with the sky.

At once, I could see my mom, hands buried in the hydrangeas, grooming her flowers—one of the few memories I could bear to recall. Me and my brothers in the driveway shooting hoops. Mom telling us to keep the ball out of her garden. She was happy then, surrounded by her family, her garden, and the ocean.

I looked past the hydrangeas to find purple asters and some lilies too. But no roses. For some reason, I’d been hoping for roses.

Despite the nice day, the courtyard was deserted, except for a woman about my age who sat on a wooden bench, finishing up a brown-bag lunch. Her eyes were closed and her head tipped back to take in the sun, making her appear to be dreaming. Sitting alone on the bench, her face seemed framed by flowers.

When she heard us coming, she sat up, straightened her scrubs, and smiled.

“Hey, Ralph. What do you have there? Another victim for me?”

“Becky,” Ralph said. “What’s up? This is Freddie, Lt. Williams, our newest patient. We’re trying to bring him back from the dead. Freddie, meet Becky Marshall, one of our physical therapists.”

I nodded a greeting to her, not much in the mood for small talk. She tilted her head to one side as if evaluating me. Then she gave me the kind of look that said we’d met before, if not in this world than in another, and that she intended to make a difference in my life.

“Is he ready for me?”

“Soon. If he’s assigned to you.”

My attention was drawn to a soda can on the bench next to her. I’d seen too many IEDs in soda cans.

She caught me fixating on it and grinned.

“Just my diet Pepsi, Freddie. See?”

She chugged what was left and tossed the can into a nearby trash basket. Then she crumpled the bag into a ball and to show off, stepped off exactly five paces and shot the bag into the basket in a perfect arc.

“Nice shot,” I said.

“I make that shot every time.”

“Yeah, right.”

She came close enough that our knees were almost touching and hovered over me, sizing me up.

“You’ll be mine,” she said finally. “I can tell. I get all the hard cases.”

As she walked away, light on her feet like a dancer, I fumbled for the wheel of the chair, trying to spin it around so I could watch her go. But Ralph had set the brake.

The Gardener

The white butterfly fluttered before her face. When she saw it, she reached out a hand and at once it landed on the curve of her wrist.

“Now there’s a fine omen for you,” she said. “Light knows we need one these days.” She whispered some words and the butterfly flew off across the courtyard and out over the castle wall.

A fine omen? Perhaps. But I’d learned to be wary. I stepped forward, scuffling my boots to make noise. She ignored my presence. Not until I was a pace away did she turn.

It was hard to say if she was beautiful or even pretty. Soil from the garden had splattered her cheeks and marked her forehead with a splotch that looked like a raven. A muddied apron hid her shape. But I took note of a glint in her gray-green eyes, as if the flowers had conspired to lend their color. And her mouth was a crescent moon upturned on its side.

The corners of the crescent twitched when she saw me but only for an instant. Then she went back to her work as if I were invisible. Her hands cradled each bloom as she sliced off the heads with a small knife.

“Are you spirit or demon?” I demanded.

She made no answer.

I drew my sword, relieved it slipped so easily from its scabbard, and stretched it in her direction. She watched the point from the corner of her eye but kept her head down and continued to work. Finally, I nudged her with the tip.

She let out a yelp. Only then did I realize I’d thrust too hard, and the blade had slit her garment. I backed off at once, ready to apologize, but then recalled my encounter with the assassin. I poked again, more gently this time.

“Why do you keep doing that?” she said.

“To see if you’re real.”

She stood and faced me, feet set wide and planted squarely on the ground.

“Why shouldn’t I be real?”

She was tall for a girl, her head rising above my chin, and had a bearing unlike a servant. When I continued to challenge her, she reached out and eased the point of my sword to one side.

“Would you put that silly thing away?”

I began to back off, then remembered the circumstance and held firm. “Why didn’t you say anything when I first approached you?”

“Because we servants aren’t supposed to talk to you royals.” She lowered her gaze and turned back to the flowers. “I’m sorry . . . Milord.”

“What’s your name?”

“Rebecca.”

“Rebecca. My name is Frederick.”

She paled and then bent in a deep curtsy, her brashness collapsing into two whispered words. “The dauphin.”  . . .

I wandered in a circle, hands folded behind my back, and inspected the flowers, unsure of what else to say. Then a thought occurred to me.

“Do you have roses in this garden?”

“No roses, Milord. I have asters and hydrangeas. Some fall crocus. And climbing the wall to the watchtower, sweet autumn clematis. A bit of monkshood underneath and tulips in the spring. But no roses.”

I must have looked disappointed. She came closer and reached out, but not enough to touch me.

“It must be lonely, Milord, a terrible burden. Every morning as I walk from my village to the gardens, I see the darkening clouds and wonder where my strength will come from. Then I remember. The dauphin will protect us. Save Him Oh Goddess, I pray. If only I could do something to help.”

I mumbled a thank you and turned to go, but stopped when I saw her examining her damaged apron.

“Are you here every day?”

“No, Milord, I have other gardens as well.”

“Come tomorrow, and I’ll bring you a new apron to replace the one I tore.”

She curtsied more deeply this time.

“I’d be so grateful, Milord, but I have nothing to give in return.”

“No need.”

“Ah, wait.” She took her small knife and clipped off a bulging blossom at the stem and handed it to me. “Now place it in water the first chance you get.”

I accepted the gift and admired her through its petals.

“Thank you,” I said. “Tomorrow at noon.”

As I walked away, I glanced over my shoulder to get one last look at the gardener. She was back at her work, resuming her song and snipping away, so light of hand and foot. As she blew away a curl that had drifted across her face, the summer dress rustled against her skin. I inhaled the scent of the flower and thought I caught the sun peeking through the clouds over Golgoreth.

And for the first time since my father died, goddesses seemed possible.

Watchtower Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, both Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack are on sale this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Pick up Along the Watchtower at its discounted price of $2.99 on Amazon
  2. Get There Comes a Prophet at its discounted price of 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  4. Visit the featured social media events
  5. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

Along the Watchtower tells of a tragic warrior lost in two worlds; a woman who may be his only way back from Hell. Get it on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iTunes.

There Comes a Prophet A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a time of violence and social collapse. Nathaniel has grown up in their world of limits, longing for something more. For what are we without dreams? Get it on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iTunes.

David Litwack, the once and future writer, explores the blurry line between reality and the fantastic. Visit David on his websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

Advertisements

Royal Baby Update + David Litwack Novel Publicity Blog Tour Day 2–Author Guest Post

Hello all! My blog has gotten a big increase in traffic lately, and I couldn’t be happier; thanks for reading! To all my new followers, welcome! To all my old, welcome back. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s two posts–one on the royal birth, and the other as the first of David Litwack’s blog tour posts. Here is a mini-update on the happy royal family:

Kate and Will leave the hospital today with the as-yet-unnamed newborn prince. Doesn’t Kate look gorgeous, especially considering she just gave birth yesterday? Love how happy the couple looks. ❤ People are saying the baby looks like he is already giving a royal wave in this picture. 😉 (Photo from ABC News; click image for full story and video.)

I’ve heard some people grousing about the over-saturation of this event being on the news, but I’m not one of them. 😉 I think it’s high time we focus on more positive stories in the news. I also love Kate, Will, and Kate + Will, so I’m very happy to hear lots about the third member of their little family. 🙂

It’s Day Two of David Litwack’s whirlwind blog tour, and there’s been a lot of good conversation about him and his work. In fact, he had an interview on Twitter (a “Twitterview”) today with Novel Publicity, and at the end, he answered questions by fans. Click here for the whole transcript, including lots of writing tips and insight on Litwack’s work.

Today, let’s get to know the author a little better. I’m going to share a guest post by David Litwack, himself. I’ve actually read this post a few times, and it moves me with each read. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know how important disability awareness is to me. For my new followers, in a nutshell, I sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury in 2005. I am lucky and blessed to have survived, recovered, and flourished so well. But, sadly, not everyone does, and Litwack explores the psychology of it in his book, Along the Watchtower.

Along the Watchtower, Litwack’s latest novel about a war veteran suffering from PTSD, escaping reality with World of Warcraft, and making sense of it all

I actually haven’t gotten a chance to read this book, myself, yet; I’ve been focused on his other, There Comes a Prophet, which I’ll be reviewing on Friday. After reading the interview, this guest post, and an excerpt (which I’ll be posting tomorrow!), I can’t wait to start.

I admire how important this topic is to Litwack, as well as the depth of research he did. He saw an international problem that is largely ignored, and he addressed it through fiction. I think it’s something all writers strive to do, and I’m in awe of this combination. In the story, Litwack’s main character is having a tough time facing reality and unwittingly starts to recognize the world of World of Warcraft, Azeroth, as his own. I think it’s a common and natural tendency for anyone who’s been through trauma to try to find an escape, albeit temporary. It’s actually pretty natural for anyone, isn’t it–isn’t that what we do every time we watch a television show, play a video game, or read a book?

Another reason this material hits home for me is because I realize, from personal experience, how blurry that line can be between reality and dreams/nightmares. When I first woke up from my coma, I kept thinking I was in a dream. It finally sunk in when my mom said something after a few weeks; it’s something none of us can remember because it was so trivial and small, but it was in its commonness that I recognized reality. It’s not always the big things that make us feel alive, it’s the small, too, which anchor us to this everyday world. It’s a strange feeling to explain, and I look forward to reading how Litwack has illustrated it.

As to the video game,  I haven’t played it, personally, beyond commandeering Jeremiah’s game he sometimes leaves unattended, and flying his character (via dragon, of course) as high as possible, into the most obscure location I can find. Sometimes, his character will take unfortunately long swims. For some reason, he hasn’t been leaving his computer unattended anymore, and I can’t imagine why. 😉 But I do think the world is complex and fascinating, and I’m interested to see how Litwack translates it into literature.

Without further ado, please enjoy what I think is a very honest and important guest post by David Litwack.

Guest Post by David Litwack

Please enjoy this guest post by David Litwack, author of the gripping contemporary novel, Along the Watchtower, and the deep, dark dystopia, There Comes a Prophet. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

Gaming and war would seem to be as far apart from each other as you can get. But while you’re in the midst of them, they share one thing in common—a sense of being in an alternate reality.

I’ve always been fascinated by how much of what we consider to be reality is subjective, how each of us bring our own experiences and biases into play. But when we’re ripped from our normal lives and placed in extreme circumstances, our reality becomes totally fragmented. Such is the case with hospitals and war.

A couple of years ago, I became engrossed in the online game, World of Warcraft, thanks to my son. I’m on the east coast and he’s on the west, so we’d meet every Wednesday evening in the virtual world of Azeroth, where our avatars would go on quests together. I was struck by how immersed I became in the mood of the game as we wandered through castles and crypts, solving riddles and vanquishing demons, how for a short period of time, I could totally buy in to the alternate reality.

The fantasy gaming experience has a dream-like quality to it, which led me to wonder: how would this experience affect the dreams of someone whose reality has been fragmented by the trauma of war? These concepts—war, hospitals, and the fantasy world of online gaming—came together in Along the Watchtower.

I began to research the effects of war on returning veterans. I learned that 30% are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress. That means after six months they’re still dealing with flashbacks, disturbing dreams, depression and difficulty re-assimilating into their former lives. And that doesn’t account for the many others who are seemingly able to adjust but continue to deal with inner turmoil. The war experience changes all forever. Many have suicidal thoughts (the suicide rate among veterans is triple that of the general population. More soldiers have died by their own hand than in the war itself). Many struggle with dark thoughts and have difficulty forming relationships, unable to “turn off” the normal flight or fight syndrome, leaving them suspicious in crowds and always on alert.

And then, there are the physical injuries. One of the ironic successes of these recent wars is the advance in battlefield medicine. The result is that far fewer die of wounds than in prior wars. The ratio of wounded to dead in WWII was 1.1/1, in Vietnam 1.7/1. In Iraq, it’s 7/1. More are saved, but more come home with debilitating, lifelong injuries. And 68% of the wounded have some form or brain trauma, penetrating injuries from shrapnel or non-penetrating concussions from the blasts of IEDs.

To learn more about brain injuries, I read In an Instant, the story of Bob Woodruff. The brilliant Woodruff had just been named co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight. Then, while embedded with the military in Iraq, an improvised explosive device went off near the tank he was riding in. Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed him. The book describes his recovery and recounts how fragile the human brain can be. At one point, the erudite Woodruff could rattle off the names of all prior U.S. presidents but couldn’t remember the names of his own children.

And I read about post traumatic stress. One of the best books is Achilles in Vietnam. Written by Jonathan Shay, a Vietnam War era PTSD counselor, it compares his clinical notes from patients to the text from Homer’s Odyssey, showing how we as human beings have dealt with war trauma across the millennia. He shows how war disrupts our moral compass, leaving re-entry into normal life as a brutal and agonizing experience.

Playing a make-believe fantasy game and going to war both have a surreal quality that takes us out of our normal reality. But for war veterans, the sense of normality doesn’t return without a struggle.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a wonderful organization, dedicated to helping veterans adjust. Their stated mission is: “To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.” How successful we’ll be at achieving that goal will tell a lot about who we are. It’s one of the most important stories of our time.

Watchtower Tour BadgeAs part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, both Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack are on sale this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.

The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes isRIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Pick up Along the Watchtower at its discounted price of $2.99 on Amazon
  2. Get There Comes a Prophet at its discounted price of 99 cents
  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below
  4. Visit the featured social media events
  5. Leave a comment on my blog for a chance at a $100 prize.

Along the Watchtower tells of a tragic warrior lost in two worlds; a woman who may be his only way back from Hell. Get it on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iTunes.

There Comes a Prophet A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a time of violence and social collapse. Nathaniel has grown up in their world of limits, longing for something more. For what are we without dreams? Get it on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or iTunes.

David Litwack, the once and future writer, explores the blurry line between reality and the fantastic. Visit David on his websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

A Prince is Born!

(Image from Huffington Post)

“IT’S A BOY!” Twittersphere, Facebook…verse? and similar sites erupted with this today as the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William welcomed the new prince into the world. It’s news we’ve been waiting for for weeks, and if you’re a Kate Middleton/Duchess Catherine fan like me, you’ve been watching the news very closely. 🙂

As you probably know about me by now, I’m as interested in news stories as their global impact. We’re so lucky to live in an age where we can voice our opinions and be heard so easily. (Of course, in my opinion, that privilege comes with the responsibility of courtesy and accuracy, but that’s really nothing new, over the centuries–only the speed and accessibility!)

Not surprisingly, #RoyalBaby and all sorts of variants are trending on Twitter right now. In fact, I started my day with a Tweet with that very same tag; you can see it on my Twitter sidebar widget, along with Jennifer’s colorful and excited note. 🙂 However, Twitter was NOT the place to get news today, as rumors spread like wildfire. For awhile, people were retweeting that Kate had already given birth to twins. Personally, I always check news sources before retweeting something like that, although my heart did skip with excitement upon first view. 😉 I think people get over-excited, make jokes/speculations that get misinterpreted, and accidentally start rumors. However, some great Tweets were Tweeted today, packing guffaw-worthy reflections in 140 characters or less, a limitation I personally am still trying to adjust to. Click here for a list of the day’s top funny Tweets. These are a couple of my personal favorites:

John Frusciante
BBC News now reporting it’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno.

According to the London Evening Standard, the first photographer, Jesal Parshotam, to report the labour (a “u” in honoUr of this British event! 😉 ) decided to respect the Duchess’s privacy by not photographing her. “We had decided in advance we were not going to take a photo of her,” claims Parshotam. “I made that decision — she’s a woman in labour. I just wanted to photograph the commotion and convoy of cars. That was a personal decision we both made. To take a picture of her would have been over stepping the mark.”
How wonderful! I’m sure the couple appreciated the privacy, especially considering the horrible experience the family has had with paparazzi in the past. 😦 I think Parshotam made a nice step in improving the reputation of paparazzi everywhere.

The Daily Mail has a very detailed account of the day, along with lots of nice pictures.

Speaking of pictures, you can bet your crumpets that Instagram, Tumblr, and the rest of the graphic world were not to be outdone by us linguaphiles. Honestly, although I am partial to words, I think Tumblr took the cake–tart?–today when it came to hilarious announcements.

The Royal Announcement, “Lion King”-style. How could I not love the combination of Disney + Kate? I burst out laughing when I saw this one, though I imagine Harry will make a much better uncle than Scar. 😉

And now, I will explain why I love Kate so much. Can we just call her Kate for a minute? 🙂 Kate Middleton, as the world knew her prior to her marriage, has captured the hearts of people worldwide. She’s been credited for breathing life into the British Monarchy, sometimes viewed as too-prim or out-of-touch with common folk like us. We love her for her grace, her manners, her kindness, her style, her HAIR–or maybe we hate her for that last one, but only because she has raised the bar quite high for women’s hair. 😉

I’ve been following news about Kate since right before her marriage, but she’s been a great role model for women for longer than that. My sister, for instance, has been obsessed (she admits it!) for years now. And why not? The Duchess has shown women they don’t have to choose between love and following their own dreams/being independent. She’s performed very gracefully under lots of media pressure; she seems only to become more endearing with each charity and humanitarian engagement, with which she is actively involved.

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge is presented with flowers and a hug by then 6-year-old Diamond Marshall, a little girl who had cancer. Diamond got her two greatest wishes: to meet a princess (after viewing Kate’s wedding from her hospital bed) and to beat cancer, in 2011. It’s OK if you’re crying; so am I. :’) (Photo from “Mirror News”; click image for full article. Here is an article updating Diamond’s good health.)

And so, let me add my personal congratulations to the millions around the world who are celebrating this new baby. I’m very fond of Kate and William, as individuals and as a couple, and I can only imagine they will be great parents who will raise a great future king. 🙂

———–

Check back on my blog later tonight for my first post of David Litwack’s whirlwind blog tour this week.