Author Spotlight: Amanda Hosch Talks About Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying

Author Spotlight | Amanda Hosch Talks About Mabel Opal Pear } www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Amanda Hosch and her debut novel Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying.

Title: Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying

Genre: Middle Grade Mystery

Age Range: 9 to 12

Launch Date: October 1, 2017


Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Fifth-grader Mabel (code name Sunflower) wrote the Rules for a Successful Life as an Undercover Secret Agent, so when her parents leave town abruptly she is not too worried–but when her beloved Aunt Gertie is arrested, and her objectionable Uncle Frank and Aunt Stella (Frankenstella) and her annoying (but clever) cousin Victoria take over her house and the family’s private museum, Mabel begins to smell a rat and she is determined to find out what her suspicious relatives are up to.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

I’ve always loved mystery and detective stories. Mabel’s voice came to me one summer. It was very strong and very sure. Her parents were secret agents, she knew their secret, and was struggling with balancing their secret and trying to live a normal fifth-grade life.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

Usually, I write the first two or three chapters to see if the narrator has a story to tell. If I find it interesting, then I plot out the rest. Mabel’s voice was so strong in the first few chapters that I was able to outline the book in a day since I knew exactly what she would do. The short outline had perhaps two or three sentences for each chapter. The first draft took about six weeks. After I was done the first draft, I double-checked some of the fact and trivia, and then revised (of course) and revised some more.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

How much time do you have? Seriously, so many people encouraged my love of reading and writing, starting with my mother.

Miss Linda from the Nix branch of the New Orleans library system. She let me hang out in the “teen” section, which was only two bookshelves and always recommended new books for me. She taught me about the wonders of interlibrary loan. In fact, I was a library volunteer during the summers of my middle school years.

Mrs. Lee Klebba and Mrs. Sandra Fassnacht at Mercy Academy both encouraged my writing.

 What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

Mabel is a typical fifth grader and she’s studied US geography and state capitals (which come into play for the plot), but her secret super power is observation. She really sees what’s going on and trusts her instincts. I’d love to see MOPRS used as a way for students to strengthen their own powers of observation.

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

When I was about three, we brought home a shaggy black street mutt from Audubon Park. His real name was Reginald, but I called him Puppy. He was the smartest and most loyal dog ever. He was a street mutt at heart so he would eat anything (crayons, rubber bands, bananas, loafs of bread, frozen whole fish). However, he was also super-obedient. One day, my brothers and I put our full lunch plates on the kitchen floor, told him “no,” and walked into the other room. He sat next to the plates, quivering, but not eating a bite. My mother was not pleased with our experiment, and we had to give Puppy the ham from our sandwiches as reward for his restraint.

Author Spotlight | Amanda Hosch Talks About Mabel Opal Pear } www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight | Amanda Hosch Talks About Mabel Opal Pear } www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI’m an EFL/ESL teacher (English as a Foreign Language/English as a Second Language) and taught abroad for almost a decade: Canada, South Korea, Czech Republic, and Taiwan. Originally from New Orleans, I now live in Seattle with my husband, our two daughters, and a ghost cat. We recently added two former shelter cats to our family. When not writing, I volunteer at the school library or work with struggling readers.

https://www.amandahosch.com/

https://twitter.com/AmandaFaeremom

Thanks, Amanda!

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Class of 2k17 Books Fall Giveaway!

It’s time for another  Class of 2k17 GIVEAWAY!

This time we’re giving away a prize package that contains some awesome Class of 2k16 books and some really fun bookish gifts that are perfect for the crisp fall weather.

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Click here to enter to win!

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Author Spotlight: Elissa Brent Weissman Talks About Our Story Begins

Author Spotlight | Elissa Brent Weissman Talks About Our Story Begins | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
Today I’m
shining the Author Spotlight on Elissa Brent Weissman  and her memoir/anthology OUR STORY BEGINS:  YOUR FAVORITE AUTHORS AND ILLUSTRATORS SHARE FUN, INSPIRING, AND OCCASIONALLY RIDICULOUS THINGS THEY WROTE AND DREW AS KIDS.

 

Title: Our Story Begins: Your Favorite Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids

Genre: Memoir, anthology

Age range: 8+

Launch date: July 4, 2017

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Everyone’s story begins somewhere.

For Linda Sue Park, it was a trip to the ocean, a brand-new typewriter, and a little creative license. For Jarrett J. Krosoczka, it was a third-grade writing assignment that ignited a creative fire in a kid who liked to draw. For Kwame Alexander, it was a loving poem composed for Mother’s Day–and perfected through draft after discarded draft. For others, it was a teacher, a parent, a beloved book, or a word of encouragement. It was trying, and failing, and trying again. It was a love of word and pictures and stories.

Our Story Begins presents some of today’s foremost children’s authors and illustrators as their quirky, smart, vulnerable, youthful selves, revealing young talent, the storytellers they would someday become, and the creativity they inspire today in kids everywhere.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

Our story begins with a box in a basement. In my parents’ basement, I found a box filled with stories that I wrote when I was a kid. Some were genuinely funny, others were so bad they were funny. The box even had the first three chapters of the novel I wrote and tried, unsuccessfully, to get published when I was in elementary school. When I go into schools as an author, I tell kids about that novel, and many of them ask if they can read it. Here it was! It struck me that I couldn’t be the only one with a box like this in a basement somewhere. How cool would it be to see what other children’s authors were writing when they were their readers’ age? Illustrators too. What were they drawing? When I realized a collection like this did not exist, I knew I’d have to be the one to put it together.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

This was my first time editing an anthology, so I had a big learning curve. I started by talking to authors I know about my idea, to see what they thought and if they had any childhood writing or art saved that they could contribute. Once the book was under contract (with a few authors on board), my editor and I worked together to build the list of contributors. I reached out to potential contributors directly, which was intimidating but also exciting—I admire them all tremendously, and I’ve been a fan of some since I was a kid myself! Once contributors were on board, it was a matter of collecting their materials, suggesting revisions on the memoirs that accompany their childhood work (which appears in the book as scans of the handwritten originals!), figuring out the order, writing the introduction, and dealing with all sorts of administrative responsibilities. Even figuring out the title was a process (you can read about it here: http://rivetedlit.com/2017/07/07/enter-title-here-how-a-book-gets-a-title/)! The main thing I learned is that putting together an anthology is a lot of work. But in this case, it was absolutely worth it.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

I’ve had so many wonderful teachers who encouraged me to write. One of the best was Mrs. Berman, who ran the gifted program at my elementary school years. In her class, I chose writing and publishing as a year-long independent study project, and she had me read aloud chapters of my book as I wrote them. I cringe now to think of my poor classmates having to sit through my read-alouds! (I recently apologized to my friend Dan, who was in the captive audience back then.) But Mrs. Berman clearly believed in me, and that kind of encouragement makes all the difference. (Fun fact: My friend Dan also ended up in the field that he studied in Mrs. Berman’s class: architecture!

What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

This book has so much classroom potential! The memoirs by the authors and illustrators show a range of styles, experiences, and points of view—great for comparing and contrasting. The childhood work is hilarious and moving and ridiculous—rich material for endless creative writing prompts. There’s a list of tips for young writers and artists at the back of the book, and a Common Core-aligned curriculum guide is in the works. But the most valuable thing of all that I hope teachers and their students take from this book is the idea that there’s no right or wrong way to become an author or an artist, and that hard work and passion matter more than natural talent.

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

My son and daughter, ages 4 and 6, like to play dog. One of them will be the dog—crawling, barking, and panting—and the other will be the owner, taking care of the “dog” and making it do tricks. A little weird? Probably. But it’s still completely adorable.

 

photo credit: Alisha Shaw
photo credit: Alisha Shaw

Elissa Brent Weissman is an award-winning author of novels for 8-to-12-year olds. Her most recent books, Nerd Camp 2.0 and Nikhil and the Geek Retreat, are follow-ups to the popular Nerd Camp, which was named a best summer read for middle graders in The Washington Post. The Short Seller, about a seventh grade stock-trading whiz, was a Girls’ Life must-read and featured on NPR’s “Here and Now.” Named one of CBS Baltimore’s Best Authors in Maryland, Elissa lives in Baltimore, where she teaches creative writing to children, college students, and adults.

You can find her online at:

Website

Facebook

Twitter:  @ebweissman

Thanks, Elissa!

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Author Spotlight: Kim Ventrella Talks About Skeleton Tree

Author Spotlight | Kim Ventrella Talks about The Skeleton Tree | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Kim Ventrella and her debut novel SKELETON TREE.

Title: Skeleton Tree

Genre: MG Fantasy

Age Range: 7-12

Launch Date: September 26, 2017


Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Twelve-year-old Stanly knows the bone is a little weird, but that’s okay, because now he’ll have the perfect photo to submit for the Young Discoverer’s Competition. With such a unique find he’s sure to win the grand prize.

But, oddly, the bone doesn’t appear in any photos. Even stranger, it seems to be growing into a full skeleton . . . one that only children can see. There’s just one person who doesn’t find any of this weird—Stanly’s little sister. Mischievous Miren adopts the skeleton as a friend, and soon, the two become inseparable playmates. When Miren starts to grow sick, Stanly suspects that the skeleton is responsible, and does everything in his power to drive the creature away. However, Miren is desperate not to lose her friend, forcing Stanly to question everything he’s ever believed about life, love, and the mysterious forces that connect us.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

I started by asking what would happen if a boy discovered a finger bone growing in his backyard, and the rest of the story evolved from there. I had no idea where my spooky skeleton story would go, but it ended up helping me through a difficult situation in my life.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

I write fast and revise slow. By necessity more than by choice. I wrote the first draft of Skeleton Tree in two weeks, but the entire revision process took over a year.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

J.K. Rowling! No, she wasn’t my actual teacher, but she did inspire me to start writing. And books are great teachers!

What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

Skeleton Tree would be a great book to spark conversations about losing someone you love.        

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

My favorite dog is my dog, Hera! I even mention her in my acknowledgements. She’s super sweet and smart, loves to run in the snow and is great at spooning. She’s a rescue dog who was seized by the police from her original owners and is now what they call “severely damaged.” Despite being very fearful of people and dogs, she loves life and is a fantastic co-writer.

Author Spotlight | Kim Ventrella Talks about The Skeleton Tree | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
When she’s not writing, you might find Kim Ventrella working as a children’s librarian, hanging out with the best dog ever, or dreaming of snow.

 

 

 

You can find Kim on the web at:

https://kimventrella.com/

https://twitter.com/kimventrella

https://www.instagram.com/kimventrella/

 

Thanks, Kim!

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2017 Debut Book Love – The Thing with Feathers

Fellow Class of 2k17 member McCall Hoyle’s debut novel, THE THING WITH FEATHERS, released earlier this month. This is YA at its best – and teachers and librarians are going to want more than one copy of this book on their shelves.

2017 Debut Book Love | The Thing with Feathers | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comEmilie Day believes in playing it safe: she’s homeschooled, her best friend is her seizure dog, and she’s probably the only girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina who can’t swim.

Then Emilie’s mom enrolls her in public school, and Emilie goes from studying at home in her pj’s to halls full of strangers. To make matters worse, Emilie is paired with starting point guard Chatham York for a major research project on Emily Dickinson. She should be ecstatic when Chatham shows interest, but she has a problem. She hasn’t told anyone about her epilepsy.

Emilie lives in fear her recently adjusted meds will fail and she’ll seize at school. Eventually, the worst happens, and she must decide whether to withdraw to safety or follow a dead poet’s advice and “dwell in possibility.”

THE THINGS WITH FEATHERS is a touching story and a compelling read. Teens will love it – but so will adults.

The Thing with FeathersThe Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful book – full of hope. McCall Hoyle’s YA debut captures the fears and excitement of edging past what’s comfortable and safe – and learning to trust the people around you. The writing is lovely and the characters are perfectly drawn – likeable but flawed, and at all times, believable.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A relate-able hero.
  • A sweet romance.
  • A school environment/community that teens will recognize.

For teachers

  • Emily Dickinson!
  • Beautiful and heartfelt writing.
  • A close look at facing fears and finding your way to acceptance.

THE THING WITH FEATHERS is available now. You can pick up a copy at your local bookstore or online at:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells

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Author Spotlight: R.M. Romero Talks About The Dollmaker of Karkow

Author Spotlight | RM Romero Talks About the Dollmaker of Krakow | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on R.M. Romero and her debut novel THE DOLLMAKER OF KRAKOW.

Title: The Dollmaker of Kraków

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Age Range: 8-12

Launch Date: September 12th, 2017

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

 The Dollmaker of Kraków is a historical fantasy novel that follows Karolina, a living doll who arrives in Krakow, Poland on the eve of World War II. It chronicles her friendship with a veteran of the Great War and a Jewish man and his daughter, and what happens to them during the German occupation of the city from 1939 to 1943.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

I never would have written The Dollmaker of Kraków if I hadn’t traveled to Poland when I was a teenager. (I’ve been back twice since.) At eighteen, I was struck by the beauty of the city of Kraków and shattered by the horror of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. It took me almost a decade to be able to be able to write about those things, though the form it took was quite unexpected…

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

For better or worse, I am what is known as a “pantser.” I don’t outline my books; I let my characters lead me through the story while I’m writing the first draft. Then I go back and revise, cutting out threads that fizzled out and making sure the plot unfolds in a more coherent way. I draw inspiration from music, art, reading nonfiction, and traveling.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

In middle school, most of my teachers were annoyed by how I was more interested in writing fiction than paying attention in class. But my 8th grade English teacher Carrie actively encouraged me to keep writing. During our graduation ceremony, one of the teachers would say a few words about a student they’d grown close to. When my turn came, Carrie told the audience that one day, they would see a book I’d written on the shelf in Barnes and Noble. It meant the world to me. And happily, her prediction has come true!

What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

In a time when hatred and xenophobia are on the rise, I think that it’s valuable to look back at history and see not only how such things can lead to tragedies, but how to actively resist them. The Dollmaker of Kraków is about doing just that.

I wanted to write a book that gave a historically accurate and sensitive depiction of the Holocaust and the German occupation of Poland during the Second World War, and I think that it could be paired with lessons about WWII by teachers and librarians. I even have a series of blog posts containing more historical information paired with photos from my trips to Kraków that I plan to put on my website in September. I also wanted to let young readers experience the beautiful and unique city of Kraków and give them a window into Polish folklore and mythology, which is fascinating!

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers  about  your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

This is Tucker, my family’s dachshund. If you’ve seen Up! and remember Dug, that sums up Tucker quite well…

Author Spotlight: RM Romero Talks About the Dollmaker of Krakow | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight: RM Romero Talks About the Dollmaker of Krakow | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
R. M. Romero the author of fairy tales and children’s fiction. She lives with her family and a menagerie of pets in Colorado. You can visit her online at rmromero.com, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr.

 

 

Thanks, R.M.!

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How I Got My Agent

I took part in a fun “How I Got My Agent” blog post over at Beth McMullen’s blog last week. Beth is a fellow middle grade debut author whose book, MRS. SMITH’S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS,  released in July.

Here’s a quick summary:

mrs-smiths-spy-school-for-girls-coverA girl discovers her boarding school is actually an elite spy-training program, and she must learn the skills of the trade in order to find her mother in this action-packed middle grade debut.

After a botched escape plan from her boarding school, Abigail is stunned to discover the school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, along with being training grounds for future spies. Even more shocking? Abigail’s mother is a top agent for The Center and she has gone MIA, with valuable information that many people would like to have—at any cost. Along with a former nemesis and charming boy from her grade, Abigail goes through a crash course in Spy Training 101, often with hilarious—and sometimes painful—results. But Abigail realizes she might be a better spy-in-training than she thought—and the answers to her mother’s whereabouts are a lot closer than she thinks…

I haven’t read MRS. SMITH’S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS yet, but I can’t wait to curl up with it soon. Boarding school. Spy training. A charming nemesis. It’s bound to be a fun read.

And so is Beth’s “How I got my agent” story. Talk about 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Check out the post over at Beth’s site – and maybe pick up a copy of her novel while you’re there.

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Author Spotlight: Jonathan Rosen Talks About Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies

Author Spotlight | Jonathan Rosen Talks Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Jonathan Rosen and his debut novel NIGHT OF THE LIVING CUDDLE BUNNIES.

Title: Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies

Genre: MG Humor/sci-fi/horror

Age Range: Ages 10-13 or Grades 6-8

Launch Date: August 1, 2017

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

It’s about Devin and his cousin Tommy, who think a witch has moved into the neighborhood. Nobody believes them, until strange things start happening. Things like reports of the hot new Christmas toy, the Cuddle Bunny, coming to life all around town. Devin and Tommy have to prove the new neighbor is behind it, while at the same time being forced to fight the cutest little monsters ever.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

The story had always been in the back of my mind. I wanted to do something with evil stuffed animals and make it quirky and funny. And then the right timing struck. I had just had a couple of really close calls with a previous manuscript, but get stopped at the very end both times. Both places gave me different reasons why they ultimately passed, but the common thread with both of them, was that they loved the humor. So, with that fresh in my mind, I returned to that evil stuffed animal manuscript, and set off to make the funniest book that I could. I think it lived up to that and the characters were sort of organic. They have their own quirks, which fit and grew into the situation more and more as I went along.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

I’m such a bad person to ask about this. Writing, I get in whenever I can. If I have a spare half-hour here and there, I’ll jump into write. Mostly, I write at night when the house is quiet and everyone is in bed. What helps me, is having a weekly critique group. I feel the pressure to have a chapter ready for Tuesdays, so I make sure to have something to read then. It doesn’t always happen, but most of the time, I’m ready for Tuesday.

As far as research goes, I do a TON. I look up almost everything I want to use. Even if I think I know it all, I look it up to make sure, before I put it in a story.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

I like this question. I do always remember one teacher who inspired writing. Ms. Spurny back in high school. I’d had writing in my English classes before, but she had fun creative writing exercises, which I loved. I’d never had things like that before. I even took some of the exercises she did when I started teaching. Her class was one of the first ones I had, where it wasn’t just learning the proper format of writing. She let us be as creative as we wanted and take a story wherever we wanted to go.

What makes your book  a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d  like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

 My book is funny. Honest! I do think kids will get a big kick out of things in there and there are plenty of jokes for their parents as well. Besides looking up certain references the book makes, I think it will just be entertaining for kids. My kids loved when I did the voices and dialect for the characters, so this is something to reward students for working. I’m sticking to that.

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about  your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

My favorite dog is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever (mostly) mutt named Parker. He’s less than a year old and is about the biggest lapdog there is. He’s so loving and loves to cuddle. Oh, I didn’t mention…he’s mine! Love that dog and he’s made an impact on everyone in the house.

 

Author Spotlight | Jonathan Rosen Talks Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight | Jonathan Rosen Talks Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comJonathan Rosen is a transplanted New Yorker, who now lives with his family in sunny, South Florida. He spends his “free” time being a volunteer coach and chauffeur for his three kids. Some of Jonathan’s fondest childhood memories are of discovering a really good book to dive into. He mostly writes middle-grade, because he finds that he shares the same sense of humor as that audience. Jonathan proudly represents diversity by way of being half-Mexican and half-American, though to be fair, neither country is really willing to accept responsibility.

You can find him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/houseofrosen?lang=en

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JRosen18

FromtheMixedUpFiles.Com, The Tuesday Writers and has own website, WWW.HouseofRosen.com

Thanks, Jonathan!

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Author Spotlight: Melissa Roske Talks About Kat Greene Comes Clean

Author Spotlight | Melissa Roske Talks About Kat Green Comes Clean | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Melissa Roske and her debut novel KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN.

Title: KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN

Genre: Contemporary MG

Age Range: 8-12

Launch Date: August 22, 2017, from Charlesbridge


Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Eleven-year-old Kat Greene has a lot on her pre-rinsed plate, thanks to her divorced mom’s obsession with cleaning. When Mom isn’t scrubbing every inch of their Greenwich Village apartment, she’s boiling the silverware or checking Kat’s sheets for bedbugs. Add friendship troubles to the mix, a crummy role in the school play, and Mom’s decision to try out for Clean Sweep, a TV game show about cleaning, and what’ve you got? More trouble than Kat can handle—at least without a little help from her friends.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

I first got the idea from a fortune cookie. It said, “A winsome smile is your sure protection.” I wasn’t sure what it meant quite honestly, but I liked the sentiment. So I started freewriting, and Kat Greene – a smart, kind, funny 11-year-old – popped out!

In terms of the mom’s character, that is more complicated. As you know from reading the book (thanks, Trish! J), Kat’s mom suffers from a cleaning compulsion—a symptom of her OCD. She’s also afraid of germs and contamination. It wasn’t until I was done writing the book that I realized that the mom is actually based on my dad. It honestly hadn’t occurred to me, at least on a conscious level. My dad, however, is the opposite of Kat’s mom. He is extremely messy and keeps everything. I actually found a datebook in his apartment from 1973! He also hasn’t been diagnosed with OCD, although his behavior certainly points to it. He’s a checker, for instance, which means he can’t sleep until he’s checked the front-door locks at least three times. I too have some OCD symptoms, including the need to have my window shades fixed at a certain level, but I wouldn’t say they adversely affect my life. They’re just annoying—to my family, and to myself.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

I try to write every day, even if it’s for 15 minutes. That’s not to say I actually do it, but the operative word is try! I also like to do a little prewriting before I sit down to work. I have a special journal for this purpose, and I use it to test out ideas, explore plot points, and to ask myself plenty of “What if” questions. For instance, there’s a scene in my book where Halle is blabbing on and on about her crush, Michael McGraw.  I wasn’t sure how Kat should react, so I asked myself: “What if Kat told Halle to put a lid on it?” From there, the scene developed fluidly. Also, I don’t work from an outline, but I do write a synopsis before I tackle a project. I like to have a roadmap, even if I don’t follow it. It keeps me focused, and on track.

In terms of research, I had to do quite a lot, because I wanted to make sure that the mom’s OCD was portrayed fairly and accurately. Therefore, I read many books on the subject—including Traci Foust’s excellent Nowhere Near Normal: A Memoir of OCD—and I interviewed psychologists and psychiatrists. I wanted to be respectful of those who suffer from this disorder, as well as family members who suffer as a result.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

I can’t choose one teacher because there were so many (!), but I can say that my love of writing was definitely nurtured and encouraged by my teachers at the City and Country School, the century-old progressive school, in New York’s Greenwich Village, on which Kat’s school is loosely based.  City and Country taught me to think outside the box, and to work independently. We didn’t have homework, or tests, or grades—yet we managed to “learn by doing,” the guiding principle of the school, coined by C&C’s visionary founder, educator Caroline Pratt.

What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

I think KAT works well in a classroom, because most of the action takes place in the classroom—namely, the Village Humanity School, Kat’s ultra-progressive elementary school. That’s not to say that Kat’s classroom experience will mirror that of a more traditional classroom, but there are certain themes that are universal: coping with conflict; working out differences; respecting others; kindness.            

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

I am a huge fan of my friend Irene’s bulldog, Bo Hwang. He has a sweet disposition, a cute wrinkly face, and a fierce sense of style. He has his own Facebook page too.

Author Spotlight | Melissa Roske Talks About Kat Green Comes Clean | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Author Spotlight | Melissa Roske Talks About Kat Green Comes Clean | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comBefore spending her days with imaginary people, Melissa Roske interviewed real ones, as a journalist in Europe. In London, she landed a job as an advice columnist for Just Seventeen magazine, where she answered hundreds of letters from readers each week. Upon returning to her native New York, Melissa contributed to several books and magazines, selected jokes for Reader’s Digest, and got certified as a life coach. She lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with her husband, daughter, and the occasional dust bunny.You can find Melissa on the web at:

WebsiteFacebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Instagram

Thanks, Melissa!

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Author Spotlight: Kristi Wientge Talks About Karma Khullar’s Mustache

Author Spotlight | Kristi Wientge Talks About Karma Kullar's Mustache | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Kristi Wientge and her debut novel KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE.

Title: KARMA KHULLAR’S MUSTACHE

Genre: Contemporary

Age Range: MG

Launch Date: August 15, 2017


Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Karma is entering middle school and is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend, or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima, or that her daddy is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mom to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip. With everyone preoccupied, Karma has no one to turn to, and must figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

Being a hairy girl, I’ve always wanted to read about a hairy girl, but no one ever wrote a book about this topic. It was only after I attended a master class at a writing conference in Singapore that I was inspired to come up with an interesting character name and once I had the name Karma Khullar, the rest of the story fell into place!

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

For a story to really take off for me, I have to start with the voice. I just tried to put some voice into a manuscript that I love, but lacked voice and it didn’t work. I pretty much struggled for a year trying to squish voice into it. For me, I can have the plot, the emotional arcs, even know the ending, but if I don’t have a strong voice, I’m not going to be able to do the story justice.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

This question is so easy for me. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Clark, was fresh out of college and brimming with ideas. She encouraged creative writing and let me and a friend put on plays for the class. She submitted my work to a publication for children’s writing. My short story Salt and Pepper was accepted and I just knew I was on my way to a Newberry!

What makes your book  a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

I’m not sure if the topic of facial hair is classroom worthy. As much as I wanted to read a book about another girl with facial hair as I was growing up, I would have been mortified if we’d read a book about it in class. I’m sure everyone in the classroom would be staring at me! What I would like to see teachers do is share this book with the girls they think it would help. Karma is dealing with more than just facial hair, she’s got family problems and friend problems and even if a girl isn’t hairy, I think it’d make the reader more empathetic towards girls they notice with hairiness issues.           

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

I had a very dog-eared copy of BENJI by my bed for years and years growing up. I can still picture it in my head!

Author Spotlight | Kristi Wientge Talks About Karma Kullar's Mustache | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight | Kristi Wientge Talks About Karma Kullar's Mustache | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comKristi Wientge is originally from Ohio, where she grew up writing stories about animals, including (her favorite) a jet-setting mouse. After studying to become a teacher for children with special needs, she spent several years exploring the world from China to England, teaching her students everything from English to how to flip their eyelids. She’s spent the last twelve years raising her family in her husband’s home country of Singapore, where she spends her days taking her four kids to school, Punjabi lessons, and music class. You can find her at kristiwientge.com and on twitter at @kwientge

Thanks, Kristi!

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