Balancing life and writing, or How they are intertwined by Ben Gartner – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ben Gartner will be awarding a $30 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Balancing life and writing, or How they are intertwined

THE EYE OF RA was born from life. That sounds pretty high-falutin’ but what I mean to say is that to ask about a balance between life and writing is like asking what it’s like to balance life and good food. While not technically a requirement, life is less without it! But I understand the sentiment of the question is about how to get writing done in the midst of all our other life-ly responsibilities like working, raising children, and getting dinner on the table. My post here revolves around the last point: Dinner.

Our family makes a point to sit down and eat dinner with each other every night. It works out that way most of the time. We start with saying something we’re grateful for. For the kids, that might be “pasta” or whatever is in front of them, but sometimes there are gems from the mouths of babes. And instilling in them the practice of gratitude we hope will be something they remember as they mosey through life. While eating, we discuss our day, our highs and lows and funny parts, and generally get some focused together time. It is often the highlight of my day and something I look forward to.

In THE EYE OF RA, without coming on heavy-handed about it, the idea of a family sharing a meal is echoed a few times. It isn’t a central theme or anything serious like that, but it does speak to the prompt for this post about intertwining life with writing, how one can be a reflection of the other, and vice versa.

This isn’t really a spoiler, but sorta: In the book, one particular meal is mentioned—Tilapia Barley Stew—that is adapted from a real recipe used by the ancient Egyptians according to Cooking in Ancient Civilizations by Cathy K. Kaufman, with some liberties added. I share it here now with you. As a family, we tried this together and my kids loved it. Bonus for the chef (me), it was super easy to prepare…


– 1/2 cup barley (rinsed to remove surface starch)
– 3 cups water (from the Nile if you can swing it, but make sure to filter it first)
– 4 green onions, sliced
– 2 tilapia fillets, cut into bite-size chunks
– 2 cloves of garlic, minced
– salt to taste

Boil the barley in the water, then simmer for 30 minutes. Skim off any foam (starch) that rises to the surface. Add the tilapia. Cook for approximately 10 minutes on medium. Add the scallions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Enjoy like John and Sarah and the ancient Egyptians.

Exploring a mysterious cave in the mountains behind their house, John and his sister Sarah are shocked to discover they’ve time traveled to ancient Egypt!

Now they must work together to find a way back home from an ancient civilization of golden desert sand and a towering new pyramid, without parents to save them. The adventures abound—cobras, scorpions, a tomb robber, and more! The two kids have to trust each other, make friends who can help, and survive the challenges thrown at them . . . or be stuck in ancient Egypt forever.

For readers graduating from the Magic Treehouse series and ready for intense action, dive into this middle grade novel rich with meticulous historical detail.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Up ahead, almost like an optical illusion in the rocks, a black oval dissolved into the mountain. It seemed to shimmer in the fading sunlight.

“What . . . is it?” John asked, taking a step back.

Sarah moved forward. “It—” She stepped closer, hunching to get a better look at the dark shape about the dimensions of the full-length mirror they had on the back of their bathroom door. “It looks like a cave. Cool!”

“Careful, Sarah. We shouldn’t go in there.”

“That’s a great idea,” Sarah said, standing upright and walking toward the mysterious black shape.

“No, wait, I said we shouldn’t go in there.” John turned to walk away. But he couldn’t leave his sister. “We should get Mom and Dad.”

“I’ll just peek in,” Sarah said, standing only an arm’s length from the entrance. “It definitely looks like a cave, or maybe an old mining tunnel or something. I don’t remember this from before.”

“Come on, Sarah.” John’s tone sounded more urgent now.

Sarah stepped closer, slowly, her lips parted and her eyes fixed on the cave.
Without another word, Sarah stepped across the threshold, and her body disappeared into the black.

About the Author: Ben Gartner is the author of adventure books for middle graders and thrillers for adults. His writing for both audiences shares an ability to grab readers by their neurons for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something in the meantime. Ben can be found living and writing near the mountains with his wife and two boys.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub

Buy the book at iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Google Play, or Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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  1. James Robert says

    Congrats on this tour and thank for the opportunity to read about another great book out there to read. It helps out so I can find books I know my family will enjoy reading. Thanks as well for the giveaway.

  2. Thanks for hosting!

  3. Diana Hardt says

    I liked the excerpt. The book sounds very intriguing.

  4. Sounds like a great book.

  5. Thanks for sharing the excerpt. This sounds good

  6. Victoria Alexander says

    I’ve really enjoyed following the tour for The Eye of Ra and can’t wait to read it. Thanks for sharing all of the great posts along the way.

  7. Bernard Wallace says

    Do you have any plans for a follow up book?

  8. Intriguing excerpt!

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