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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Author Spotlight: Meg Eden Talks About Post-High School Reality Quest

Meg Eden Talks Post-High School Reality Quest | Author Spotligh Interview | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Meg Eden and her debut novel POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST.

Title: Post-High School Reality Quest

Genre: Magical Realism, YA

Age Range: 14+

Launch Date: June 13, 2017

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST is about high school graduate Buffy, who is trying to cope with transitioning to college, making life decisions, and the changes in her friend group. During these changes, Buffy starts hearing a text parser narrating her life (e.g., “You are in a room. There is a piano. Exits are: out.”), and feels stuck in this video game that the voice is creating. Is she actually in the game? Is it all in her head? How does she escape? Read the book and find out!

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

One day a friend said to me: “Hey, you should write a novel in the form of a text adventure game.” I honestly didn’t think much of the idea but tried it out one day for fun. Once I started, I got hooked! The original draft of POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST was really just a hot mess with no plot, focusing on the main “group” of friends: Buffy, Merrill, Tristan, Chase and Sephora. It was pretty much just me playing with people I knew and experiences from high school but nothing really happened. When I started playing with the text adventure idea, I tried it on this old draft, and everything came together really fast—I think I finished that draft in about a month. I also got strep like, three times in a row, so I was more or less bed-ridden and writing was the only thing I felt like doing. Since I already knew the characters from the older draft, plugging them into the text adventure framework was easy—and gave their narrative structure. The text adventure format helped induce a plot, as it created a conflict between Buffy and the Text Parser. It ended up making perfect sense: examining a group of friends in video game culture through the lens of a literal game.

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

I write in pieces and I write with a lot of drafts. I write the first ten drafts of a book just getting to know my characters. Then I start trying to figure out what they’re actually doing. If I know my characters in a fully rounded way like real people, it makes it easier to see what they’d do in the situations given by the plot. I can’t plan novels—if I know what’s going to happen in the end, I get bored. My writing, like my reading, is an act of discovery.

I do a lot of research for my novels—even ones from largely my own experience. I try to make dates line up (a lot of my writing is in the form of journal entries), and use google maps to “revisit” places I’ve been to write about them more accurately. I try to not let research consume me though, because I totally could let it do that to me. I usually try to research on “down” days where I’m physically and mentally tired. I watch a lot of youtube videos and take notes. I observe, and prepare for when I’m ready to write next.

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 a lot of amazing teachers along the way, but I think my writing started with my 8th grade history teacher. She’s the first person I remember commenting that my writing was good, and I felt like she took me seriously as an individual and writer, not just as a “student”. I remember when I went to high school I’d go back and visit her and have all sorts of discussions with her. I was inspired by her to work on my very first novel, a project inspired by some of the Saxon history from her class. I think she’s the first person I really shared my stories with.

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 POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST would be a great book in particularly the college classroom, but also upper level high school classes. The book deals with quite a range of topics: suicide, eating disorders, coping with change, mental health, faith, alcohol and relationships. I’d love to see this book used to open up conversations about these topics and how they relate to students and readers. These conversations could also lead to freewriting exercises where students can process the book and put themselves into it: which topics resonate with them most, and how do they connect to that topic with their own personal experience?              

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

I grew up with a dog named Wolfie, who was around before I was born and passed away when I was in 5th grade. Being an only child, Wolfie was like this rebellious older sister figure to me. She would run away to swim in the neighbor’s pool or the creek. She hunted gophers and chickens and brought them to our house like prizes. She wouldn’t let anyone tell her where she should be, and didn’t pretend that she liked people that she didn’t. I learned a lot from Wolfie.

Meg Eden | Author Spotlight; Meg Eden Talks Post High School Reality Quest | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Meg Eden | Author Spotligh Interview | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comheadshotMeg Eden teaches creative writing at the University of Maryland. She has four poetry chapbooks, and her novel “Post-High School Reality Quest” is published with California Coldblood, an imprint of Rare Bird Books. Find her online at www.megedenbooks.com or on Twitter at @ConfusedNarwhal.

You can grab a copy of POST-HIGH SCHOOL REALITY QUEST at your local bookstore or online.

Thanks, Meg!

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Author Spotlight: Alexandra Ott Talks About Rules for Thieves

Author Spotlight | Alexandra Ott Talks About Rules for Thieves | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on fellow Class of 2k17 member Alexandra Ott and her debut novel RULES FOR THIEVES.

Title: Rules for Thieves
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: MG
Launch Date: June 6, 2017!

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Rules for Thieves is about a 12-year-old orphan who tries to join a legendary band of thieves in order to get the cure for the curse that’s killing her.

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

I’ve loved heist novels and books about thieves ever since I was younger, and I always knew I wanted to write one of my own. Parts of the book are even inspired by thief stories I invented when I was a kid. But it wasn’t until Alli Rosco’s voice popped into my head one day, full of sarcasm and stubbornness, that all of the pieces fell into place. I knew right away that she was the perfect character to tell this story.

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

So far, the process has been a little different for each book. But what generally happens is that I get pieces of an idea—a character or a premise or a spark of something that interests me—and I spend some time developing it. I research things that may be important, jot down a few notes about the characters, and put together a very loose outline of major plot points. But I leave lots of room to explore during the first draft, letting the characters and the story take me in unexpected directions. Once the first draft is down, I do more research. Then I revise again and again and again until the manuscript finally becomes a book.


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 the acknowledgments of Rules for Thieves, I thank three teachers. One taught me in middle school, one taught me in high school, and one was my creative writing professor in college. Each of them gave me valuable advice about writing craft and, more importantly, encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming an author. Their support was so important to me as a young writer, and I’m very grateful for it.           

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 want Rules for Thieves to be a book that’s fun and engaging for young readers in the same way that my favorite books were for me at that age. I hope it’s accessible enough to young readers that teachers (and librarians) can pass it on to their reluctant readers or those who haven’t yet been introduced to fantasy books. I hope it’s a book that instills a love of reading in young students.         

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, of course, my own:  an eight-year-old Lhasa Apso named Penny. She’s described as my tiny canine overlord in my author bio because she completely rules my house. She’s a very small dog with a very big personality. 🙂

 

Author Spotlight; Alexandra Ott Talks About Rules for Thieves penny-20161

 

Alexandra Ott Talks About Rules for Thieves
Alexandra Ott holds a B.A. in English from the University of Tulsa. She currently lives in Oklahoma with her tiny canine overlord. Rules for Thieves is her debut novel. Visit her online at alexandraott.com and on Twitter @Alexandra_Ott.

 

 

Thanks so much, Alexandra!

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Author Spotlight: Joanne O’Sullivan Talks About Between Two Skies

Author Spotlight Interview | Joanne O'Sullivan talks Between Two Skies | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on fellow Class of 2k17 member Joanne O’Sullivan and her debut novel BETWEEN TWO SKIES.

Title: 
BETWEEN TWO SKIES

Genre:  YA

Age Range:  12-16

Launch Date:  April 25, 2017

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Most kids her age can’t wait to get out of tiny Bayou Perdu, a fishing town way, way down in Louisiana. But for sixteen-year-old Evangeline Riley it’s home. She has her best friends, Kendra and Danielle; her wise, beloved Mamere; and back-to-back titles in the under-sixteen fishing rodeo and above all peace that only comes when she takes her skiff out to where there is nothing but sky and air and water and wings. Then Hurricane Katrina comes, and everything changes. Exiled to Atlanta, she longs for home. But when she meets—and falls for—fellow “refugee” and budding bluesman Tru, she has to decide if home is a person or a place.

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

I went to college at Loyola University in New Orleans and that area holds a special place in my heart. After Hurricane Katrina hit, I really wanted to do something to help. However, I was expecting my son, so I wasn’t able to volunteer for rebuilding. Instead, I read a lot about what was happening: a lot of first-person narratives. I was struck by the teens whose lives were interrupted by the storm. School had either just started or was about to start for many. The year that they though they would have—and for some the life they thought they would have—never happened.

I first read Wordsworth’s “Evangeline” when I was in college in New Orleans. This sweeping, melancholy love poem tells the story of a girl in Acadia (now Atlantic Canada) separated from her true love Gabriel on the eve of their wedding as the British forced French speakers out of Canada and they resettle in Louisiana. She relentlessly searches the frontier of the US for him, only to find him when it’s too late. The heroine of this story, Evangeline, is legendary in Louisiana.

When I read about the many people displaced by Katrina, I couldn’t help but connect the Acadians—exiled hundreds of years before—to this new catastrophe, this new exodus for some of their descendants. A new Evangeline and a new Gabriel took shape in my mind: Evangeline Riley, whose family’s fortunes are so entwined with the land and sea, and Tru Nguyen, whose family has endured exile before as war pushed them out of Vietnam. Like characters in the story that inspired them, they are caught up in circumstances beyond their control and driven out of the diverse and soulful place that is Southern Louisiana. Their lives are broken and bent into new shapes. The way they respond to this upheaval will determine their futures.

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

I typically start with a certain character or scene that’s intriguing to me and build out from there. I am a journalist as well, so I love research; so much so that I need to stop myself at some point so that I don’t lean to far into non-fiction! Once I’ve got some scenes written and the characters have introduced themselves to me I start to think about plot- where are we going with this? This may not be the most efficient way to write a novel, but that’s the way it happens for me!

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?

My elementary school librarian Mrs. Johnson was a big influence in my life! At my school, being athletic was much more the norm than being bookish. Mrs. Johnson always welcomed me and found new books that she knew I would like, so the library felt more like home to me than any other part of the school. My second grade teacher Mrs. Hale also encouraged me to write and her encouragement stayed with me for a long time!

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?

BETWEEN TWO SKIES helps to show the more human side of one of the biggest natural disasters in American history, Hurricane Katrina. While reading nonfiction and historical accounts helps us understand it on one level, fiction helps readers to understand it on the emotional level. I would love it if teachers used BETWEEN TWO SKIES to show how historical events can be brought to life in fiction. But it’s also an all-around coming-of-age, family and love story!

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

I’m a little dog obsessed, too! My favorite real dog is, of course, my family dog Biscuit. He adopted us one weekend when we were visiting a friend’s weekend house. He arrived on the driveway and basically never left us again. We tried to find an owner, but no one came forward so he became our pup. He’s a bit shy with strangers, but he’s such a loving guy with us. He’s not the smartest dog in the world, but we think he’s the sweetest!

Author Spotlight Interview | Joanne O'Sullivan talks Between Two Skies | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight Interview | Joanne OSullivan talks Between Two Skies | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comJoanne O’Sullivan introduces fascinating people and places to readers through books, articles and blog posts. Her award-winning science, sustainability and travel books for kids include “Migration Nation” (Charlesbridge, 2015) and the 101 Before You’re 12 series. She has lived in a sixteenth-century Italian palazzo and a modern Korean high-rise, but now calls beautiful Asheville, North Carolina home. When she and her environmental activist husband and artistic kids aren’t out in the woods, she’s usually planning her next big trip to faraway places. Visit her at www.joanneosullivan.com or on Twitter and Instagram at jkosullian1.

Thanks so much, Joanne!

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Author Spotlight: Allison Hymas Talks About Under Locker And Key

Author Spotlight Interview | Allison Hymas talks Under Locker and Key | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Allison Hymas and her debut novel UNDER LOCKER AND KEY.

Title: Under Locker and Key

Genre: Middle Grade Crime/Mystery

Age Range: Ages 9-13

Launch Date: April 18, 2017

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

UNDER LOCKER AND KEY is about a 12-year-old “retrieval specialist” named Jeremy Wilderson who steals back things for the kids in his school. Since doing his job requires a certain amount of lying, cheating, con artistry, and straight-up burglary, Jeremy has made an enemy of the school’s private investigator, a girl named Becca Mills, who has made it her mission to personally take Jeremy down. When Jeremy accidentally places the key that opens every locker in the school in the hands of an aspiring eighth-grade kingpin, he must team up with Becca Mills herself to get it back.

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

I actually started this story as part of a class for writing for children and adolescents. I had to come up with a character and write a one-page introduction for the character in his or her voice. At the time I had been reading a lot of middle grade mysteries and watching TV shows about thieves and criminals. I realized that I had found many books about middle grade detectives, but not as many about the criminals they chased. That led to me thinking about what a criminal protagonist would be like, whether he would see himself as a thief or as a hero, why he’d do what he did, etc. I decided he’d see himself as a hero, not a thief, so I wrote the sentence, “First off, I am not a thief,” and Jeremy Wilderson jumped off the page. From there, it was easy to develop Becca, the straight-laced detective antagonist who opposes Jeremy but maybe has more in common with him than she thinks. It has been fun writing a story with a good-guy thief protagonist because I can have him opposed by both the law and by bad-guy thieves.

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

When I’m starting a new story, I tend to think about it a lot before I sit down to write the first page. I’ll do lots of prewriting, which I find very fun because it feels like solving a mystery to me. I’ll write up profiles for my characters and experiment by imagining them in different situations and seeing how they’ll react. I’ll start basic plotting for the novel before I write it by listing possible events that could happen in the story and why they would, based on my characters’ personalities and motives. Before I start writing, I will develop a very basic outline for the story; I know major events that need to happen, but am less sure about the details in between. Then I sit down to write, and when I write, those details come. I’m okay changing the major outline if the story works better in a different way.

My first draft is very rough. I write it fast, just to have something to work with later. Most of my good writing comes in revisions as I shape the story to fit what I want it to be best. I tend to discover more about my plot and my characters as I write, so that first fast draft is important for me to understand better what my story is about. As for research, I will do some preliminary research during the prewriting stage, but will research again as I need it during writing. For example, I may learn a little about picking locks before starting the story, but as I write the lock-picking parts I may look for research about what it takes to pick a certain kind of lock or try picking a lock myself so I know how it feels to do 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?

My parents have always been very supportive of my writing, so I think they deserve a nod here. There were two teachers, my fifth grade teacher and my sixth grade Language Arts teacher, who encouraged my writing and told me I was actually good at it, so I credit them with the change from thinking, “I’d like to be a writer, but that’s just a dream,” to “I might actually be able to write as a career.” In college, Dr. Chris Crowe was a professor who really mentored me as a writer and encouraged me to eventually publish my work.

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?

Well, since my book is about preteen criminals, this question is a little hard to answer! Jeremy has an elevated vocabulary for a 12-year-old, though not overly so for the age group, and he’s fond of language and words, so it could work as a book used to teach vocabulary to a middle grade audience. I’d prefer, though, for the book to be used more to discuss crime and justice, doing the right thing, and interacting with people who have different views on subjects than you do than just for vocabulary. The book deals with these things in a way that is (I think) appropriate and entertaining for young readers.

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

Growing up, I had a dog named Snoopy. He was a beagle-basset hound mix and was very energetic and affectionate. We ended up giving him away, but I loved him and learned a lot about caring for another creature from having him. My favorite story about Snoopy was the time I came home to find that he’d caught and killed a rabbit in the back yard. We didn’t want him killing anything, and I had to clean up the mess, but Snoopy looked so proud of himself and was leaping around with a doggy smile on his face, so thrilled that he’d hunted a rabbit for me, that I couldn’t bring myself to say anything but a half-hearted, “Good job, boy,” as I disposed of the poor bunny’s remains.

 

Author Spotlight Interview | Allison Hymas talks about Under Locker and Key | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

As a middle schooler, I was a law-abiding citizen (except for the occasional offense of reading under my desk when I should have been listening). I now hold an MFA from Brigham Young University and currently live in Utah. Under Locker and Key is my first novel. I’m hard at work writing Jeremy Wilderson’s further adventures.

You can learn more about Allison and UNDER LOCKER AND KEY at her website, and you can visit with her on social media at the following links:

Blog
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter
Instagram

Thanks so much, Allison!

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Author Spotlight: Kristin Gray Talks About Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT


Today I’m
finalcover Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge shining the Author Spotlight on Kristin Gray and her debut novel VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE.

Title: VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE

Genre: Contemporary Middle-Grade

Age Range: 8-12

Launch Date: March 7, 2017

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Fourth grader Vilonia hasn’t lost her rain coat in the three weeks she’s had it and she’s brushed her teeth every night and she’s volunteered to be the Friday Library Helper. But all that hard work is worth it if it means she can get a dog. Besides, this dog isn’t just because Vilonia has wanted one for pretty much ever. It’s also to help Mama, who’s been lost in one, big sadness fog for forty-three days—ever since Nana died. But Vilonia read that pets can help with sadness. Now all she has to do is keep the library goldfish alive over spring break, stop bringing stray animals home, and help Mama not get fired from her job. And she’s got to do all of it before the Catfish Festival. Easy as pie, right?

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

Vilonia’s story morphed over time. After shelving an unsuccessful manuscript, I knew I wanted to write something lively and with heart. I had the idea of a young girl adopting and nurturing a puppy who had been born preterm. But as I  researched, I came across more and more articles about pet therapy and how dogs help us. So Vilonia’s story quickly evolved into one of a dog helping her family overcome their grief. So yes, dogs can be therapy. (Though sometimes, my dogs drive me bananas, but I love them anyway.)

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

I write in batches of scenes. Sometimes I only have half an hour, while I’m waiting on my kids at their various activities, but if I know the next scene, I’ll write it. Here’s the honest truth, I was stuck for almost three months because I didn’t know how (spoiler!) the chicken coop caught fire. Then fortuitously, I was out working at a local café one morning. A man at the table next to me was retelling the story of how his family’s hen coop had burned down. I eavesdropped for a bit and then introduced myself. I wrote the rest of the chapter that afternoon, and the rest as they say is history. So wherever you are, Dan with the hen coop, thank you! (Though I did not use the exact turn of events, it served as a springing board for my imagination.)

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?

Oh my goodness. Mrs. Babbs was one of my librarians. I remember her reading WHY MOSQUITOES BUZZ IN PEOPLE’S EARS and parts of CADDIE WOODLAWN. I remember my 3rd and 6th grade teachers reading STUART LITTLE and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH to us before the last bell. I was transfixed by those stories.

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’d like to think Vilonia would make a fun read aloud. That was my favorite part of the school day, when teachers read to us. What a dream it would be to have my own words read in a classroom!    

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

Oh, I adore my two dogs! Lucy is an eight-year-old Border Terrier. Roxie is a two-year-old Airedale. They are so funny together. Lucy is rather lazy, so Roxie makes sure she gets her exercise. May I attach a photo?

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screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-11-55-46-am Author of Viloina Beebe Takes ChargeKristin L. Gray drinks coffee (cream, no sugar) and writes books (funny, not sad) from her home in northwest Arkansas. She loves to read, walk her dogs, and eat cake for breakfast. Kristin’s fourth-grade self would never believe she has five children, two dogs, one fish, a bearded dragon, and a shy gecko. Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge is her first novel.

You can learn more about Kristin and her books by following her on:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/kristinlgray

Insta: http://instagram.com/kristinlgray/

FB: www.facebook.com/kristinlgray/author/

Web: www.KristinLGray.com
You can buy VILIONA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE at bookstores or online at:

Amazon | B&N | Powells |

 

Thank you so much, Kristin!

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Author Spotlight: Shaila Patel Talks About Soulmated.

author-spotlightIt’s Valentine’s Day so I decided to get a little lovey-dovey here on the blog. <3 Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Shaila Patel and her debut YA  romance novel SOULMATED.

Title: SOULMATED

Genre: Young adult paranormal romance

Age Range: 12 and up

Launch Date: 1/24/17
Soulmated is OUT NOW!

 

SoulmatedPlease tell us a little bit about your book?

Soulmated is an #ownvoices teen paranormal romance about an Irish empath prince named Liam Whelan who is forced to search for his empath soul mate by his father. The rare union will solidify the Whelan family’s political power and standing, but Liam couldn’t care less. When they come to America in search of this elusive soul mate, Liam falls for a non-empath, Laxshmi Kapadia, and has to decide just what he’ll sacrifice to be with her.

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

I’d been thinking of how emotionally perceptive my mom was one day and thought that if there were such a thing as an EQ test (where the E stood for emotional intelligence), my mom would score through the roof. She’s always had this uncanny ability to read my feelings, so naturally, my writer-mind imagined what it would be like if empaths (people who read emotions) really existed.

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

I’m a pantser-plotter hybrid. For those of you who don’t know what pantsing is, it’s the process of writing where you just write your story, without an outline and without any plans. The story tends to develop more organically, but it also leads to a lot more editing for me once the draft is done. So, instead, I plan out a rough sketch of the story as a loose outline. Then I “pants” or free-write individual sections, and when my thoughts get too jumbled or the details get too difficult to juggle, I write up a more detailed mini-outline of the next few chapters so I don’t lose all my story threads.

As for research, I’m afraid I’m no different than most who encounter the rabbit hole of Google. Once I search for something it’s like “Oh, look, something shiny…”

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?

Easy. My senior AP Lit teacher. She was the first teacher who taught me I could write—and gave me the tools to do so. Even though my love for the written word had started all the way back in fourth grade, she was the one who had me dreaming of writing a book someday. (Thanks, Mrs. B!)

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?

 Soulmated is an #ownvoices novel, which means it portrays a diverse character like me, an Indian-American. Young readers might assume that if a character doesn’t look like them, they wouldn’t be able to relate. By reading #ownvoices novels, it teaches them that regardless of race, color, or religion—or anything else represented by a marginalized group—people have the same emotions, fears, goals, and needs as anyone else on the planet. Reading diverse fiction is a critical piece in teaching empathy and breaking down the “us vs. them” mentality. Presenting this “lesson” as entertaining fiction rather than a study in diverse characters might make it more accessible to young readers if they’re entertained at the same time.     

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

I don’t have a dog right now, but oh my god…I can’t stop watching those adorable videos of teacup puppies! Have you seen them? Drop everything and check them out on YouTube. Now. Go. You’ll thank me later! Lol!

 

Shaila Patel SoulmatedShaila is a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Her debut multicultural paranormal romance, Soulmated, won first place in the Young Adult category of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she enjoys traveling, craft beer, tea, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online.

Contact Shaila here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Feel like adding a little romance to your life? You can buy SOULMATED  at bookstores or online at:

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Kobo | Google Play | Books-a-Million

 

Thank you, Shaila and Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Author Spotlight: Wendy McLeod MacKnight Talks About It’s a Mystery, Pig Face!

author-spotlight
Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Wendy McLeod MacKnight and her debut novel IT’S A MYSTERY, PIG FACE!

Title: It’s a Mystery, Pig Face!

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Age Range: 8-12

Launch Date: February 7th, 2017

 

 

 

9781510706217-frontcover-its-a-mystery-pig-facePlease tell us a little bit about your book?

When anyone in town could be the culprit in a crime, summer will be anything but boring.

Eleven-year-old Tracy Munroe and her family have just gotten back from their family vacation—why did no one realize that her little brother, Lester, a.k.a. Pig Face, was allergic to sand, salt air, and the ocean before they decided to go to the beach? Now she has three big goals to accomplish before she goes back to school:

  • Figure out a fantastic end of summer adventure with her best friend, Ralph, budding Michelin-star chef. (And no, Ralph, perfecting a soufflé does not count.)
  • Make sure Pig Face does not tag along.
  • Get the gorgeous new boy next door, Zach, to know she even exists.

But when Tracy and Ralph discover an envelope stuffed with money in the dugout at baseball field (and Lester forces them to let him help), they have a mystery on their hands. Did someone lose the cash? Or, did someone steal it? St. Stephens has always seemed like a quiet place to live, but soon the town is brimming with suspects.

Now they’re on a hunt to discover the truth, before the trio is accused of the crime themselves.

 

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

I wrote the first draft of this book years ago, when I was living far away from my hometown and feeling homesick. When I was a kid, my friends and are were always trying to solve mysteries, but either we were dismal detectives or our neighborhood lacked the necessary criminal element to achieve our ends! My first draft had WAY more characters; in the end, I pared it down to the essential three. And sadly, I did call my brother Pig Face once or twice when I was a kid because he knew how to push my buttons! And I always got in trouble for it.

 

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

I think I started out as more of a pantser, but as I get better and better I do a lot of pre-work before I start to write. With It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! I didn’t need to do any research (except about old barns!) because it’s set in my hometown and I know it like the back of my hand. Usually, I come up with a VERY bare bones concept, and then mull it over. I bounce ideas off my amazing agent, Lauren Galit of LKG Agency, who has a good nose for what works and what doesn’t, and she always pushes me to go deeper. Then I draft a detailed outline, do back story stuff, and then fast draft a very horrible first draft. I’m not saying that to be humble. It is always horrible. Then I read it over, and figure out what the heck is wrong. Sometimes that takes weeks. And then I start revisions, which for me is really an almost total rewrite. I research as I go, and then fill in the blanks when I’m done.

 

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 had a teacher in elementary school who changed my life, and lucky me, I’ve gotten to tell her that and use her name in the book! Mrs. Garnett was infinitely patient with me – she read every story and poem I wrote and listened to every story I told her. I don’t know where she got the patience, but she made me feel special and talented, and really, what more could a kid want in life? I wasn’t an athletic kid, but I believed I could topple mountains and do whatever I wanted thanks to her!

 

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’ve thought about this a lot, actually. I’ve developed a classroom guide for teachers to use and it’s on the It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! Website. I think the book delves into themes that young readers struggle with – trying to impress other people, feelings of jealousy, feeling like they don’t fit in. In Tracy’s case, one good friend – Ralph – makes all the difference. But she makes some poor choices that come back to haunt her and has difficulty juggling old and new friendships, which I think is a really common theme in this age group. On the other hand, Ralph is singular in his pursuit of a goal – to be a chef someday – and is a wonderful example of what can happen when you actually apply yourself!   

          

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

I have a 16, almost 17-year-old Lhasa Apso named Indy. He is one of the loves of my life, but he is the worst trained dog EVER. On the other hand, he is very stoic, looks a lot like an ewok, and still prances around the house despite his age!

indy - wendy mcleod mackingt and it's a mystery pig face

 

wendy-mcleod-macknight-author-its-a-mystery-pig-faceWendy McLeod MacKnight is the former deputy minister of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Education in New Brunswick. She grew up in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada with her own Ralph and Pig Face. She now lives in Hanwell, New Brunswick. It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! Is her debut novel. Her second, untitled, middle grade novel will be published by Greenwillow Books in winter 2018.

You can find Wendy all over social media and on her websites. Just use the links below:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wendymacknight

Author Website: http://wendymcleodmacknight.com

IT’S A MYSTERY PIG FACE! Website: http://itsamysterypigface.com

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wendymcleodmacknight/

You can purchase IT’S A MYSTERY, PIG FACE! at bookstores or online at:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Powells

Thanks so much, Wendy!

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Author Spotlight: Linda Williams Jackson Talks About Midnight Without a Moon

author-spotlightToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Linda Williams Jackson and her debut novel MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON.

Title:  MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON

Genre:  Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Age Range:  10 and up

Launch Date:  January 3, 2017
(Out now!)

 

 

Midnight Witout A Moon mwam-cover-linda-jacksonPlease tell us a little bit about your book?

In Midnight Without a Moon, thirteen-year-old Rose Lee Carter wants desperately to flee the dirt clods of the Mississippi Delta. But for now, she’s stuck living on a cotton plantation with her grandparents Papa and Ma Pearl, her brother Fred Lee, and her not-so-nice cousin Queen. When a fourteen-year-old Chicago boy named Emmett Till is murdered in nearby Money, Mississippi, Rose is suddenly faced with the opportunity of a lifetime—an offer to move up north. But will she go?


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

As a child, I rarely played with other children. Instead, I lurked in the background among the grown-ups and indulged myself in the stories they told. From these stories grew a desire to someday write a book that sort of reflected my family’s life in the Mississippi Delta. The story is set in 1955 because I wanted to tie in the Emmett Till story and the spark of the Civil Rights Movement.

 

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

First off, I DO NOT WRITE EVERY DAY. At least not fiction. I do journal every day, however. I basically aim for a date to complete a first draft, determine how much writing I need to do to in order to get me to that date, then I go for it. I can write ANYWHERE, so this helps in getting a first draft down without having to have a set writing time/place.

As far as research, the Internet is my friend. But I do purchase a few books for information that I can’t find on the Web. I also read a TON of books that are similar to what I’m writing. On another note, I like to read two types of books while I’m writing: One with “beautiful” writing, and the other with not-so-beautiful writing. The former gives me something to aspire to. The latter shows me what to avoid.

 

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?

My college professors had a huge impact on my writing life. I was an overachiever who worked very hard to get all A’s, and the hardest A’s came from writing composition classes.

               

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 seventeen-year-old daughter often speaks of how much she loved ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY by Mildred D. Taylor, COPPER SUN by Sharon Draper, and ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams Garcia as classroom reads during middle school. Like these books about African-American history, I hope that MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON will be a book that is required reading in middle schools and that it will be a book that young readers are still talking about even at age seventeen.


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

 I don’t own a dog, but my favorite dogs are Clifford, T-Bone, and Cleo from Clifford the Big Red Dog!

http://www.gpb.org/clifford
http://www.gpb.org/clifford

 

lindajacksonheadshotLinda Williams Jackson is an author who loves to read books more than she loves to write them. But, if she could manage a month-long vacation from her day job as wife (of 1), mother (of 3), homemaker, and homeschooler, she would check herself into a very nice hotel room and both read and write ALL DAY LONG. Of course, she’d take a break and order herself a pizza occasionally.

Find out more about Linda at www.jacksonbooks.com and connect with her on Twitter at @LindaWJackson.

You can learn more about MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON by listening to Linda’s NPR interview, here, and you can buy the book anywhere good books are sold, or online at:

Powells

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Thanks so much, Linda!

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Author Spotlight: Breeana Shields Talks about POISON’S KISS

author-spotlight

Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on fellow Class of 2k17 member
Breeana Shields and her debut novel POISON’S KISS.

Title: POISON’S KISS

Genre: YA fantasy

Age Range: 12 and up

Launch Date: January 10th, 2017

 

 

poisons-kiss-cover-small -

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Poison’s Kiss is about a girl who can kill with a single kiss. Since childhood, she’s served the Raja as one of his most lethal assassins. But when she receives orders to kiss a boy she knows—a boy she’s sure doesn’t deserve to die—she starts to question who she’s really working for. And that thread, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

 

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

I often get ideas for books when I’m learning about something totally unrelated. It’s one of the reasons I love museums, classes, and documentaries. In this case, I was listening to a lecture on espionage and the professor mentioned something in passing—a legendary figure in Indian folklore called the poison damsel—that sent my imagination on a lengthy tangent. I didn’t hear the rest of the lecture, but I did walk away with a new book idea.

 

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

I usually start a new project with a basic premise, a few major turning points, and rough idea of the ending. From there, I just dive in, start writing, and let the story unfold organically. Often it turns out very differently than the version I had in my head when I first started. Once I have a draft, I can edit to make sure that the final product is a satisfying 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?

My writing teacher in high school, Mr. Beck, had a huge influence on me as both a writer and a person. He started out as my sophomore honors English teacher, but he also taught journalism and encouraged me to join the newspaper staff. Once I did, I was completely hooked. I had always loved writing, but getting to write every day, to decide on topics and layouts, and most of all, to have readers was more satisfying than anything else I’d experienced up to that point.

Some of my happiest memories of high school are being in the newspaper lab late at night with my friends, all of us rushing to get the next issue out on time. I loved printing out an article, feeding it into the wax machine and pasting it up at the light table only to immediately savage it with a blue editing pencil and decide I needed to start all over.

Mr. Beck demanded the best of his students and he didn’t tolerate anything less. Other teachers gave me a lot of praise for my writing—and they were instrumental in building my confidence—but Mr. Beck wasn’t so easily impressed. He challenged every weakly-written sentence, called out every bit of lazy writing, and always pushed me to do better. I still remember how thrilling it was to get an assignment back with the words, “solid writing” at the top of the page. From him that was high praise. I probably would have found my way into a writing career even without Mr. Beck—I think it’s in my blood—but it would have taken a lot longer to hone the skills I needed to succeed.

 

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 Poison’s Kiss could be used in the classroom in a number of ways—as a jumping off point for discussing mythology, as an exploration of medicine and the different ways toxins affect the body, or as a character study in what people do when placed in morally complex situations. I’m also a huge fan of literature circles, where small groups of students who all read the same novel and then gather in class to discuss together. I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer to lead a few lit circles, and it was a complete joy. I love listening to students read something they chose themselves and hear their smart observations and spirited debates.

 

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

I have an adorable miniature poodle named Molly. I call her my Velcro dog because she sticks to my side, following me from room to room throughout the day. She’s also really smart—she can dance on command and walk across the entire length of a room on her hind legs (as long as there’s peanut butter waiting at the other end.). And she has an uncanny sense of my schedule. As soon as my kids leave for school, she curls up under my desk ready to start our writing day.

molly

 

breeana-shields-small - Author Poison's KissBreeana Shields has a BA in English from Brigham Young University and is an active member of SCBWI. When she’s not writing, Breeana loves reading, traveling, and spending time with her husband, her three children, and an extremely spoiled miniature poodle. Visit her online at breeanashields.com or follow her on Twitter at @BreeanaShields.

 

You can read my review of POISON’S KISS here, and you can buy Breeana’s book anywhere good books are sold, or online at:

Powells

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Thanks so much, Breena!

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