Monday, October 6, 2014

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Gary Rodriguez, Author of 'Escape Through The Wilderness'


Gary Rodriguez is president of LeaderMetrix Inc., a consulting company that specializes in senior-level executive coaching, organizational development and conflict resolution. He is the author of the new adventure novel Escape through the Wilderness scheduled for release in June 2014.

His first book Purpose-Centered Public Speaking was an instant hit and recently republished by Tate Publishing.

His extensive resume includes eighteen years as an executive in the radio business where he spent several years as one of the original managers of Infinity Broadcasting. He was twice nominated as medium market manager of the year by the Bobby Poe report, a national media publication.

For over thirty-five years, Gary has spoken in public both nationally and internationally. Gary’s resume includes a season in the U.S. Army where he was highly decorated as the youngest Drill Instructor in the Army’s history at age 18 years. He was also awarded the Silver Star (the nation’s third highest award for valor) while serving in Viet Nam.

Visit the book’s website at http://ettw.tateauthor.com/ You can also find Gary at http://leadermetrix.com/ and http://www.leadermetrix.com/authorspeaker.


About the Book:

Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics’ accident that
dashed her Olympic dreams, but didn’t stop her from attending an adventure camp in Idaho. At Camp Arrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift taunts Savi because of her injury.

When the four are teamed together for an overnight white-water river rafting adventure, Savi refuses to get in the same raft with Conner. Unfortunately, the director will not reassign her.
A fun expedition down the river turns into a nightmare when their raft slams into a huge rock and their adult guide disappears down the river.

Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the “Last Chance” marker and enter the larger rapids. With Jade pinned between the raft and a rock, and Rico clinging to a lifeline, Savi must cut the raft free.

When the four drag themselves out of the river, they’re bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of late-night campfire tales of Vexel, a vicious animal that roams the nearby woods, Savi and the others are terrified.

Savi becomes the unlikely leader who tries to guide the group back to Camp Arrowhead. Limited supplies, injuries, and the constant threat of Vexel—who Savi fears is stalking them, complicate the harrowing return trip.

Readers will enjoy dramatic survival scenes and the group working together, solving problems, and learning to overcome adversity.





What is Escape Through the Wilderness about?

Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics' accident that dashed her Olympic dreams, but that didn't stop her from attending an adventure camp in Idaho. At Camp Arrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift taunts Savi because of her injury.

The four are teamed together for an overnight white water rafting adventure. A fun expedition turns into a nightmare when their raft slams into a huge rock and their adult guide disappears down the river. Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the "Last Chance" marker and enter the larger rapids. After a series of harrowing events, Savi is forced to cut the raft free or risk the life of another group member.

When the four drag themselves out of the river, they're bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of the late-night campfire tales of Vexel, an animal that roams the nearby woods, the teens are terrified and fear the vicious creature is stalking them. Savi becomes the unlikely leader who tries to guide the group back to Camp Arrowhead.

Readers will enjoy dramatic survival scenes and the group working together, solving problems, and learning to overcome adversity.

What inspired you to write it?

My primary purpose in writing Escape Through The Wilderness was to entertain and inspire young readers. In my circles, I see a lot of great students that represent the best of our society. But in the media today, you don't hear many positive stories that involve this age group.

Consequently, I chose to write what I believe is an entertaining and thrilling adventure story. It’s about a group of teens that exemplifies some of the best, instead of the worst, character qualities in our society. Although each person in the story has their own personal struggles, they develop new perspectives as the story progresses. Savi, Rico, Jade, and Conner are all from different parts of the country and are unique in their own ways. But through a series of circumstances they are thrust into a situation that forces them to learn to get along, work together as a team, and deal with what looks like insurmountable obstacles in order to survive.

You've previously written books on public speaking. How is writing a novel different than your nonfiction work? Are there ways in which they are similar?

Writing a novel is very different than writing non-fiction. One of the biggest differences is the inclusion of dialog.

Creating and developing dialog is a fascinating process. Creating believable dialog helps readers get to know the way each character thinks and communicates. I enjoyed generating a variety of exchanges between the characters in Escape Through The Wilderness. Some of those interactions were friendly, others were fun, but many were very intense. Each of the characters has their own unique characteristics, experiences, and communication style. I enjoyed developing each of the characters, in part, by utilizing the verbal exchanges between them.

Writing a novel is similar to writing non-fiction in that both types demand time and a good degree of discipline. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, books don't write themselves. Authors of fiction and non-fiction alike must be willing to invest the time and energy to do relevant research, stick to a self-imposed writing schedule, and stay committed to the project even when it seems daunting and overwhelming.

A good analogy for writing a book is running a marathon. Everyone starts off strong, but few finish the race. Authoring is difficult for most people because there’s a lot involved in it. However, as the saying goes, “It's not rocket science.” If you know what you want to write, plan out the project, and stay the course; eventually you will succeed.

I love the cover art. Who designed it? Were you able to provide input for the cover?

I love it as well. And yes, I was able to provide guidance for the book cover’s design. I know this might be hard to believe, but my wife and I actually had a similar picture of the cover in our minds. Both of us separately envisioned the same type of cover that is now on the book. Amazingly, my designer, Hope Nixon (http://hopenixondesign.com/) created the cover we saw in our imaginations! When she sent the first proof, we were both stunned. I couldn't be happier with it. It represents the content of the book perfectly.

What do you feel your book offers this market as opposed to other books that are available?

In many ways, Escape Through The Wilderness is an analogy about life and the challenges we all face. Savi, Rico, Jade, and Conner represent all of us who struggle to overcome obstacles that we encounter unexpectedly. Throughout the story, the teens demonstrate a positive example of healthy personal growth and the importance of teamwork. In addition, they highlight the need and value of friendships in overcoming all kinds of difficult challenges.

Hopefully readers will see themselves in each of the characters portrayed in the book.

There is one more character I've not mentioned yet. His name is Luke, and he's a very special part of the story. I can't go into much detail about him, or I'll give the story away. But I know readers will find him a crucial character in the story.

Escape Through The Wilderness is intended to offer readers who are currently facing obstacles and difficulties a measure of encouragement. Hopefully, by seeing examples of how others have overcome challenges readers may be emboldened to do the same. In this way, the book was written to instruct, entertain, and inspire young readers. My hope and prayer is that it does just that.

Is there anything you would like to add?

There are two things.

First, I encourage those who read Escape Through The Wilderness, and find the story inspirational, please do pass it on to someone else who might enjoy it. In the course of my life, friends have given me some of the most important books I've read. I also suggest that parents read this story although they are not the primary target audience. Many adults who have read the book loved it because the story is exciting and timeless.

Lastly, I want to say thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share about my book. Websites like yours help readers to get to know an author and additional background information about the story. This definitely makes the featured book more enjoyable to read.

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