The Frog Blog

J.R. Sparlin discusses things

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Tribute to David Letterman

My husband Derek and me, just after we attended a taping of
The Late Show with David Letterman last February

It has been one year today since the last airing of The Late Show with David Letterman. I wrote this letter to Dave shortly before his retirement. I doubt he had time to read it, but I am including it here to commemorate a great show and a big part of my life.

Dear Dave,

I started watching your show in 1983 with my dad. I was nine years old. (Apparently my mother did not know about this.) We had lots of fun watching the show together and wrote Top Ten lists and Viewer Mail letters, which we never mailed. Our favorite was:

            Dear Dave,

It was my ambition to write for you when I grew up. And I am a writer, although not a well-known one.

I think that because I have watched the show all my life, it has had a profound effect on my personality and sense of humor, and therefore on my writing. There are of course many influences in a person’s life. But if I am sarcastic and funny, with a finely honed sense of the absurd, it is, in part, because of you. I love how you take all the weird little things people do and make them funny. One of my favorite pieces from the show is “How Many Mice Can Fit in a Dunkin Doughnuts?”

In more recent years, my husband and I have visited New York a number of times, and have always made it a point to walk or ride past the theater. It has always been a big part, for me, of the magic that is New York City. We were able to go inside and attend two tapings of the show, which were amazing and magical, and I will never forget it.

And so I have watched the show through the triumphs and tragedies of my life. Just about a year ago, six hours after having major surgery, my nurses were startled to find me sitting up in bed, eating roast beef, watching Dave.

Thank you for the happiness, diversion, and sheer malicious glee you have given me and my family. I am very, very sad the show is ending, but I wish you great happiness in your retirement. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself now at 10:30 every night. Perhaps I will actually get to bed earlier.

Not likely.

Jennifer Sparlin
Wichita, KS  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Winner of the January/February Contest Is . . .

I announced in January I would give away a copy of The Court Wizard to one of you who newly liked my Facebook author page, or had already liked my page, as of February 29. And the winner is my good friend LEIF JONKER! In case any of you are wondering why the winners of my two recent contests are brothers from the same family . . . well, each time I wrote everyone's name on tiny pieces of paper, folded them, closed my eyes, shook them, and drew one. =)smile emoticon Leif wins his choice of a signed print copy, a Kindle copy, or a Nook copy!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"Jaleth and the Dragons" Published in FICTION on the WEB!

My 14,000-word novella, "Jaleth and the Dragons," was published today in the free online magazine FICTION on the WEB, and chosen as a "pick of the month"! Editor Charlie Fish gave it this description:

Jaleth leaves his forest village to partake of a time-honoured ritual of manhood, but he will soon realise how narrow his horizons have been, in J. R. Sparlin's sweeping fantasy.

Cool, huh?

If you would like to read it, here's the link: "Jaleth and the Dragons" in FICTION on the WEB. If you would like to leave a comment, you can do so at the end of the story! 

March comes in like a dragon . . .

Thursday, February 25, 2016

"Jaleth and the Dragons" Accepted for Publication!

My story, "Jaleth and the Dragons," will appear March 1 on FICTION on the WEB! This is a free British online magazine, so everyone can read it! This will be my first British publication.

Notice I said "story," not "short story." It is 14,000 words long (40 pages double-spaced) so it is really a novellette or novella.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

And The Winner Is . . . (And a New Contest!)

The winner of the December contest is Logan! He wins a free copy of The Court Wizard!

Thank you to everyone who signed my Guest Book and entered the contest. I apologize for announcing the winner a little late. Unfortunately I have been Horribly Sick.

So, to make up for it, I will be giving away another copy of The Court Wizard! If you "like" my J.R. Sparlin, Author Facebook page between now and February 29, 2016, you are entered in the contest. However, I don't want to leave out my faithful friends and fans who have already liked the page, so they are included as well. In other words, on February 29 I will look at the list of people who like the page, and randomly select a winner. The winner will receive his or her choice of a signed print copy OR a Kindle copy OR a Nook copy (unless the winner lives outside the contiguous 48 states, in which case it will be a Kindle or Nook copy). I will announce the winner on this blog and on my Facebook page during the first week of March, and if possible, message the winner on Facebook.

Congratulations again Logan!



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Frog Blog Interview with E M McIntyre

Today is the FROG BLOG INTERVIEW with E M McIntyre! Native to Minnesota, she immersed herself in the worlds of Xanth and Narnia as a child and dreamed of one day creating her own magical world for others to enjoy. After receiving a Master's degree in Biology, E M decided the time was right to pursue her true passion of authorship. Her debut YA fantasy novel, The Phantom of Faerie Mountain, is the first of three in the Red King Trilogy. She is currently working on the second installment, The Secret of Berry Brae Circle. When not daydreaming of magic, mystery, and mischievous characters, E M enjoys gardening and spending time with her crazy pack of five Italian greyhounds. She’s also a fellow SCBWI Book Launch Partyer. Visit her website at

THE FROG BLOG especially enjoyed the Scottish setting of The Phantom of Faerie Mountain. THE FROG BLOG proudly descends from several Scottish clans, one of which appears as the, er, bad guys in this story. (To find out which one, you’ll have to read the book, ha ha!)  However, despite their differences, E M and THE FROG BLOG have decided they can still be friends.

What made you want to be a writer?

As a child, I was an avid reader of adventure, mystery, and most of all, fantasy. I lost myself to the likes of Nancy Drew, Pippi Longstocking, and The Hardy Boys, and withdrew into the worlds of Narnia and Xanth. I recall early on thinking how "neat" it would be to write a story of my own that would sweep others away to another place.

I was an average student in English throughout my general education; it was not my favorite of required curriculum. I was most interested Biology, which held true through my college career and beyond. However, when given the opportunity to take a creative writing class in high school, I excelled and a dormant seed was planted. Our final project of the course was to hand-make a book and read it to a class of kindergartners. What a terrifying prospect – reading to 6-year-olds! Despite my stage fright, I pushed through and created my first book: Slick the Cool Cat Counts to Ten. The teacher even kept my creation to use as an example for future classes.

Fast forward twenty-some years, a good friend at the time turned me on to a distance-learning writing class through the Institute of Children’s Literature (ICL). It was time for my tucked away seed to finally sprout and The Phantom of Faerie Mountain was born.

(THE FROG BLOG also loves Nancy Drew!)

How did you become interested in Scotland and its folklore?  How did you get the idea for this story?  What kind of research did you do?

I was fortunate to spend eleven days in central Scotland during the summer of 2001. I fell instantly in love with the Highlands and, well, everything about that land so far from my home. I didn’t know it then, but a day-trip I made to climb Ben A’an (a popular miniature mountain) would shape my future goals.

The final assignment for my writing class at the ICL allowed me to begin a novel. There was no thinking about it; my story, my life-long dream, would take place in Scotland. A YA fantasy, aimed toward younger individuals in the spectrum was my goal. I knew I wanted my protagonist to be strong, intelligent, and perhaps a bit stubborn, but she would need an indigenous side-kick as well as a mythical companion.

My research consisted of studying maps of Scotland online and reading about mythical creatures. It was important that the setting include a mountain. I came across one near Kinloch-Rannoch called Schiehallion, or, "Fairy Hill of the Caledonians." When coupled with my discovery of the Cu Sith, a mythical hound inhabiting Scotland, The Phantom of Faerie Mountain planted its feet.

Schiehallion. Photo credit

You're working on the second installment in the Red King Trilogy. How is that going? Do you have an approximate release date?

The second installment, The Secret of Berry Brae Circle, is still in its infancy, but I hope to have a completed draft before the end of 2016. Please hold me to this!

(E M is holding a contest on her website to name one of the characters in The Secret of Berry Brae Circle. Go to to vote! THE FROG BLOG did!)

Do you have ideas for where you might go as a writer after the Red King Trilogy, or are you thinking that far ahead?

I’ve considered how I might create stand-alone stories that branch off from the Red King Trilogy; lately I’ve felt that perhaps I’ve pigeonholed myself by deeming it a trilogy! The third, and yet unnamed installment, will require 100% world-building. Because of this, there should be plenty of potential for expanding storylines.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Find what works best for you in terms of when you write, where you write, and how you write, and stick with it. For me, I do my best work early in the morning on the weekends (after waking and feeding my belly). I prefer a quite household (all 5 of my Italian greyhounds must be doing what they do best – sleep) and my writing software of choice is Scrivener.

Last , and most importantly: if you were a frog, what kind of frog would you be?
A red-eyed tree frog because they’re just so stinkin’ cute, or, if I was feeling sinister, a blue poison dart frog!     

Thanks E M, and we look forward to hearing about all your future endeavors! The Phantom of Faerie Mountain is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

A telepathic dog. An ancient prophecy. Two devious faeries. 14 yr old Abby Fletcher must unravel their connection when she is thrown into a world of unknowns after receiving a mysterious message from a frightening beast: The Red King must set me free. Determined to discover the meaning of this puzzling phrase, Abby sets off to explore a nearby Scottish mountainside in search of clues. What Abby doesn't realize, however, is that it's not a matter of where she will find her answers but when. Whisked back to the early 14th century, Abby must find the courage to solve the mystery of the Red King and save not only herself but a group of powerless captives wrapped up in a faerie plot.