2017 Debut Book Love – One Shadow on the Wall

Fellow Class of 2k17 Books member Leah Henderson’s gorgeous MG debut, ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL, released last week. This is a middle grade book you want on your shelves.

2017 Debut Book Love | One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comAn orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father in this captivating debut novel laced with magical realism.

Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined.

With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom in all their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own?


One Shadow on the Wall is about love and loss, family and friendship, and creating your own future—even if it’s hard to do.

ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL is simply gorgeous in every way. I cannot wait to share it with everyone I know.

One Shadow on the WallOne Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best books I’ve read this year. Leah Henderson’s debut novel is simply captivating. A beautifully written tale of a young boy in Senegal who is determined to keep his family together – despite the very real dangers that come his way. Young Mor is faced with one tough decision after another, but with the help of his neighbors, his friends, and his family, Mor finds the will to not only survive, but to thrive. A gorgeous debut that is a must for every school and library collection.

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For readers

  • A relateable hero.
  • Wonderful sibling and community relationships.
  • An action-packed story.

For teachers

  • A beautifully drawn setting.
  • Vivid details of everyday life that are compelling.
  • Discussion about doing what’s right even in the face of danger.

ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL 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: 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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2017 Debut Book Love: I Am Fartacus

2017 Debut Book Love | I Am Fartacus | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI AM FARTACUS: The title kind of says it all.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book with this many bathroom jokes in it. Maybe never. Still, the ARC of Mark Maciejewski’s middle grade debut, I AM FARTACUS, had me laughing right out loud more than once.

I’m pretty sure classrooms full of kids are going to be cracking up in 2017.

Mark gives us an interesting character in his bald, anti-hero Chub. Bent on revenge against Alanmoore Middle School’s most popular boy, (yep, Alanmoore – and that’s not the only reference to The Watchmen which only adds to the fun) Chub and his cadre of mischief makers plan and prank their way toward justice. But sometimes it’s hard to tell where the good guy ends and the bad guy begins.

I Am FartacusI Am Fartacus by Mark Maciejewski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A funny middle grade debut with a great cast of secondary characters. It’s tough not to like this short, bald anti-hero and his Cadre of Evil.

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A funny middle grade debut with a great cast of secondary characters. It’s tough not to like this short, bald anti-hero and his Cadre of Evil.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A fun cast of secondary characters. The Colonel may be my favorite adult ever.
  • Pranks, fart jokes, and more pranks.
  • Fun references to comics and movies.

For teachers

  • A anti-hero worth studying.
  • Discussion about the fine line between heroes and villains, bullying and getting even.
  • A main character who happens to be an immigrant.
  • A cast with a diverse set of family situations.

Another April debut, I AM FARTACUS is released April 18, 2017. It is available for order now at Amazon.

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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?

fullsizerender-8

 

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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2017 Debut Book Love: The Ethan I Was Before

Book Review | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comOne of the things that’s been a little bit strange and a lot wonderful about getting to read books before they are published is getting to experience them before all the reviews (both the good and the bad) come out and try to shape your opinion. I got to read Ali Standish’s THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE late last year and I got to read it with the same clean slate I read books like Bridge to Terabithia  and The Summer of the Swans when I was a kid. Which means I read it the same way I read books back then – straight through, sneaking in pages while I folded the laundry, waited in line at the post office, and even while I ate lunch (sometimes being a grown up pays off).

Ethan’s story is a deeply moving one. In THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE Ali Standish perfectly captures the time right after a life has changed irretrievably and just before it’s transformed into whatever is going to come next. Publisher’s Weekly gave it a well-deserved star for how it handles grief, guilt, and forgiveness. I’d say it’s a modern classic.

The Ethan I Was BeforeThe Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful of story of friendship, family, and loss, Ali Standish’s wonderful debut grabbed me from the beginning and didn’t let me go until I saw Ethan through to the end. Strong characters, a spot-on setting, and great details bring the story to life. THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE is a soon-to-be classic. Readers of all ages will love this book, and teachers and librarians will be sharing it for a long time.

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For readers:

  • A strong, and likeable cast of characters.
  • A great, true-to-life sibling relationship.
  • Friendship and adventure.

For teachers

  • An exploration of the grief, guilt, and forgiveness.
  • A vivid setting.
  • A great example of building suspense by withholding information.

THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE is in bookstores now.

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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:

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Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Thanks so much, Linda!

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My 2017 Debut Author Interview at Just Another Teen Reading Books

ice-cream-1653441_1280I so enjoyed chatting with Jessica over at her blog Just Another Teen Reading Books.

My interview was part of her 2017 Debut Author series. Check it out and discover my favorite flavor of ice-cream and some of the 2017 debut novels I’ve enjoyed reading so far this year. You might also learn a little more about my novel, THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN, while you’re there.

And be sure to read Jessica’s interviews with the other debut authors she’s featuring this month. There are so many great books coming out in 2017 – you’re going to want to make a list.

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Author Spotlight: Kiersi Burkhart and Amber Keyser Talk About Their Quartz Creek Ranch series

author-spotlight

Today I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Kiersi Burkhart and Amber Keyser – the amazing duo behind the QUARTZ CREEK RANCH series.

Title: The QUARTZ CREEK RANCH Series, containing: Shy Girl & Shy Guy, One Brave Summer, At Top Speed, and The Long Trail Home

Genre: Contemporary

Age Range: Middle-Grade (ages 9-12)

Launch Date: January 1st, 2017!

 

Quartz Creek Ranch Series all-covers

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Kiersi: Hi! Well, we’ve got a couple books in this series… Four, to be exact. They’re all coming out at the same time, and you can even buy them in a box set if you want!

Amber: Every summer, the gates of Quartz Creek Ranch swing open for kids in trouble. Under the watchful eyes of lifelong ranchers Willard and Etty Bridle, these ten to twelve-year-olds put their hands—and hearts—to good use, herding cattle, tending the garden, harvesting hay, and caring for animals.

Kiersi: And all four of the books take place in the same world, on the same ranch, just during different summers. So same ranch owners, horse trainers, even the veterinarian, but different kids each time.


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

Amber: I grew up riding horses and have always loved horse books like King of the Wind and Misty of Chincoteague. My agent knew that so when she got a call from a European publisher looking for horse books, she asked me if I had any ideas. I brainstormed a little and sent her list. The one that caught her eye was “therapy horses.” Shortly after that I saw my writer friend, Kiersi, tweeting about a horse she had rehabilitated when she was a kid. It struck me how much fun it would be to work together on my two-word idea for a series.

Kiersi: Oh man, and when Amber brought up the idea, I knew there was no way we wouldn’t do it. We brainstormed it in a day and came up with six or so stories we wanted to tell on the ranch. The two books I was the lead author on (Shy Girl & Shy Guy and At Top Speed) are based on horses I’ve known, or things I’ve been passionate about. Shy Guy is a bit like my old Appaloosa, and a bit like the horse I rehabilitated as a tween. I loved barrel racing as a girl, which inspired me to write At Top Speed. And I struggled with a lot of the same issues Ella struggles with in that novel.

Amber: The horse in One Brave Summer is based on a big red gelding I rode one summer, and The Long Trail Home was inspired by several backcountry pack trips I took as a kid. Rivka’s story in The Long Trail Home is a really personal one for me. I’m Jewish and have been reeling from the rise in anti-semitism in this country. Rivka’s journey from fear to activism in the face of racism is one I’m trying to emulate.


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

Kiersi: The very first thing I did when we started working on this project was start taking riding lessons again. I hadn’t taken regular lessons since I was seventeen (and I was twenty-five at the time we started on QCR), so it had been a while for me. I also read one of the most lovely books of my life: The Man Who Listens to Horses, by Monty Roberts. There’s some controversy around him now, but his message about “whispering, not shouting” to earn respect from horses really resonated with me. I also loved the documentary “Buck,” and would recommend it to anyone. It’s all about rehabilitating problem horses and starting horses humanely. I would love to see a world where we stop using the phrase “breaking” a horse, and instead use “starting” a horse. Teaching a young horse to go under the saddle shouldn’t be traumatizing or violent.

Amber: Like Kiersi, I started riding again and reading books on natural horsemanship. YouTube is invaluable resource for writing scenes like the foal birth in The Long Trail Home. We also had a horse expert read each book and offer suggestions during the revision process. In general, we brainstormed each book together. The lead writer would produce a detailed outline, which the other would comment on. Once we agreed on that, the lead writer would get to work on the first draft. The other person was always the first reader offering detailed revision notes. All the books were edited by Anna Cavallo at Darby Creek. She helped make sure all four had the same voice.


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?

Amber: My first grade teacher, Ms. August, knew I could already read. She let me spend all the reading instructional time in the corner with a novel while everyone else worked on sounding things out. FOREVER GRATEFUL! As for writing, my freshman English teacher, Ms. Milani, taught me the mechanics of writing. If I put together a good sentence now and then, it’s because of her!

Kiersi: I had this one teacher in 4th grade who is unparalleled. I’d always been in bilingual classes growing up, but then the one time I wasn’t, I got the worst teacher possible. We were completely incompatible. So Sr. Gonzalez came and rescued me from my awful teacher and moved me into his class.

I was always getting ahead of the group, so he’d send me to the library to write an extra book report or two. (I know. Serious nerd. I loved writing book reports.) And whenever we went to the computer lab to work on our “stories,” he would poke fun at me because while the other kids were tapping out one or two pages, I was writing a “novel.” Sr. Gonzalez always read my work and gave me gushing compliments, which of course encouraged me to keep writing. I stayed in touch with him all the way through high school. I wish I knew where he is now, so I could tell him I’m an author. I don’t think it would surprise him. Maybe somebody already told him.


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?

Kiersi: All four of our books feature protagonists who are struggling with something—whether it’s strict parent expectations, social anxiety, or anger management. Though the horses are incredibly important to the stories we tell in this series, they really function as vessels for these kids to explore themselves in a safe, encouraging environment, and grow beyond what took them to the ranch.

Amber: I love the social dynamics in these books. Each one has an ensemble cast of both girls and boys. They come together in really surprising ways. I think the series is a great way to talk about listening to one another’s truths and learning to respect the place each of us is coming from. The best books are ones that teach empathy and that’s one of the things Kiersi and I have tried to do with Quartz Creek Ranch.


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

Amber: Gilda! Believe it or not, I got my first dog two years ago from Kiersi’s aunt and uncle. She is a lab-poodle-mystery-mix aka a muppet. My family had been lobbying for a long time for a dog. I didn’t want one. Now Gilda and I are inseparable. We go paddle-boarding, trail-running and cross-country skiing together. I had no idea that I would love her so much!

Kiersi: Two years ago I would have said White Fang, but then last summer, I adopted the most incredible rescue dog. Baby has become my best friend, closest confidant, and life partner. We’ve gone through a lot together this last year and a half and I don’t know if I’d have gotten through it without him. Though he still has some quirks from his former life being homeless, I wouldn’t have him any other way. I’m never alone with Baby in my life. As I always say… Adopt, don’t shop!

Kiersi and Amber - gals-with-dogs

 

smiling-headshot_medKiersi Burkhart lives and works as a freelance writer and author in Wyoming. While not writing or running her own business, she finds time to advocate for social justice and play Dungeons & Dragons. Kiersi has a deep and abiding love of Pokemon, her partner, and her dog Baby. QUARTZ CREEK RANCH is her debut series. Her first YA novel, HONOR CODE, comes out in Spring 2018. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and at her website.

 

amber-keyserAmber J. Keyser writes both fiction and non-fiction for tweens and teens. QUARTZ CREEK RANCH is her middle-grade debut. Her young adult novels include POINTE, CLAW and THE WAY BACK FROM BROKEN. Her nonfiction titles include THE V-WORD (a New York Public Library Best Book for Teens and Chicago Public Library Best Nonfiction for Teens) and SNEAKER CENTURY: A HISTORY OF ATHLETIC SHOES, among numerous other titles. Find Amber on Facebook, Twitter, and at her website.

You can buy their books anywhere good books are sold, or online at:

Powells

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

Thanks so much, ladies!
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