Author Spotlight: Emily Whitman Talks About The Turning

Author Spotlight | Emily Whitman Talks About The Turning| www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Emily Whitman and her middle grade novel THE TURNING.

Title:  The Turning

Genre: Middle-grade novel

Age Range: 8-12

Launch Date: July 24, 2018

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Aran is a selkie and lives on the open sea with his clan. All he’s ever wished for is a pelt, which will turn him into a sleek, powerful seal like the other selkies. Then Aran discovers that his clan has been keeping a secret from him. And the secret means Aran may never get his pelt. That he’s a danger to the entire clan. That maybe he doesn’t even belong to the sea at all. Aran’s desperate quest for a pelt lands him in the bewildering and dangerous world of humans. He has to learn their strange ways to pass as one of them. Land holds wonders: trees and birds’ nests and cookies and, most surprising of all, friends. Yet the land is dangerous, too. When the unimaginable happens, Aran will be forced to choose: Will he fight for his place on land, or listen to the call of the sea?

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

I’ve always loved mythology and folklore. They’re truth and magic tangled up together! I was on a boat to Ireland’s Skellig Islands when an image of selkies flashed into my mind. In Celtic lore, selkies can slip off their seal pelts to take human form. I started to wonder what would happen to a selkie boy living at sea who’d never had a seal pelt. It grew into a story about belonging, bravery, and self-discovery. I’m also fascinated by cusps, those thin edges where one thing is about to turn into another and you can step in either direction. A selkie tale is the cusp of our human nature and our animal nature, of ocean and land, magic and reality. Pretty cool!

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

I start with a spark that’s pure imagination. Something on the page surprises me and I decide to follow up. The story takes surprising turns. I’ll do bits of outlining as I go, but mostly I uncover flashes of character and story as I write, and then I do what my friend Amy brilliantly calls “Frankenstein-ing it together.” As I write, I’m always researching, and the research keeps feeding me new insights. I love adventure research: going out in search of sense perceptions and experiences that feed the story. For The Turning, I visited a seal colony, and spent time on the shore and in aquariums. When I found out that orcas will work together to splash a seal off a rock, I knew that had to become a scene in the 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?

This is such a good question! I’m grateful for the wonderful guides along my way. I can start all the way back in first grade, when Mrs. Johnson had us write nonstop. Every Monday we’d write what we did over the weekend. We listened to Peter and the Wolf and wrote our own versions—maybe that was the start of my lifelong love of retellings and making a classic tale my own! And then there was the Whittier school librarian Mrs. Wolzien. I was a library helper from 4th-6th grades. When I graduated I got to choose any book I wanted. Here’s a picture of the one I chose, The Animal Family.
animal-family-cover-medium

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?

 Take a great adventure story, set it in a magical, atmospheric ocean world, and give kids someone they connect with as they struggle with what it means to belong, and with finding the courage to face new situations. Then give teachers tools that make it easy to use the book in the classroom—discussion questions, activities, lesson plans, and links to great sites where kids can explore marine mammals, ocean life, and folktales. The Teaching Guide and links on my website will give you lots of ideas!

I love interdisciplinary approaches where kids’ interest in one area pulls them into others. I’m really excited how The Turning can enrich units on myth and folklore, ocean science, and writing with all your senses.

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

Jake! Wonderful Jake! When I was in high school we got a German Shepherd puppy with floppy ears and gigantic paws. He grew into a gigantic, loving, playful, and very poorly trained dog. He’d jump up and put his paws on my tiny grandmother’s shoulders. I can still hear her saying “Down Jakie!” He could catch a line-drive tennis ball like you wouldn’t believe. After all these years I still miss him.

Author Spotlight | Emily Whitman Talk About The Turning| Jake | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Elsie, my cat and writing partner, asked to be mentioned, too. I told her you were interested specifically in dogs, but as a proudly independent creature she thought you’d like to see her picture anyway! (I’ll allow it – even though it will make my cats terribly jealous 🙂 ~ trish)

Author Spotlight | Emily Whitman Talk About The Turning| Elsie | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight | Emily Whitman Talk About The Turning | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIn Emily Whitman’s novels, myth and magic are part of everyday life. The Turning is her first novel for kids. Her YA novels are Radiant Darkness, #1 on the IndieBound Kid’s Next List, and Wildwing, winner of the Oregon Book Award and a Bankstreet College Best Children’s Book. Emily teaches writing workshops and lives with her family in Portland, Oregon. Come say hi at www.emilywhitman.com, facebook.com/emilywhitman, and instagram.com/emilywhitmanbooks.

 

You can pick up a copy of THE TURNING at your favorite independent bookstore or online.

Thanks, Emily!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Author Spotlight: Julie Leung Talks About Merlin’s Last Quest

Merlin's Last Quest | Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Julie Leung and her middle grade novel MICE OF THE ROUND TABLE:  MERLIN’S LAST QUEST

Title: Mice of The Round Table: Merlin’s Last Quest

Genre: Fantasy

Age Range: 8-12

Launch Date: 10/2/2018

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Merlin’s Last Quest concludes my trilogy, Mice of the Round Table. After pulling the Sword from the Stone and saving Camelot from a mysterious plague, Galahad and Calib infiltrate Morgan le Fay’s lair to secure the Holy Grail from their enemies.

The stars are align for a final battle that determines Camelot’s fate. Calib and his friends must harness the magic of Merlin as well as the strength, bravery, and wisdom within themselves to become the mythical heroes they were destined to be.

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

I loved the Redwall series by Brian Jacques with a fierce, probably obsessive passion. To this day, the mere description of potato leek soup and anything with the word trifle in it sends nostalgic shivers down my spine. And like any budding fantasy fiction fanatic, Arthurian legends were a gateway drug. These kinds of books made me who I am today. Mice of the Round Table is the perfect marriage of those two early loves.

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

Even though I find myself always changing my outlines, it has helped me immensely to set a destination in mind when writing—or even multiple destinations, like a road trip. I package my writing goals in small sprints, scene-to-scene, chapter-to-chapter. It keeps my fingers moving on the keyboard and makes drafting feel less daunting.

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 think often about my experiences growing up in the public education system—its many pitfalls, classroom distractions, and budget constraints. And yet, the English teachers who taught me gave it their all. In the 10th grade, one of my literature teachers read an essay of mine out loud to the class. It was a simple 5-paragraph glorified book report on the Elie Wiesel book, Night. However, it was the first time I’d ever heard my words being read out loud by someone else. It was the first time I thought I could make a career out of writing.

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

In the practical sense, I like to think of my series as a gateway to the Redwall series, as well as to the larger body of Arthurian legends. In a more poetical sense, I wrote Calib’s story as an examination on navigating familial, societal, and self-imposed expectations. How does one carve out one’s own legend against a backdrop of outside influences? How does one find the courage to become their own person?

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

My husband and I have a dream of getting a Boston Terrier one day and naming him, Admiral Ackbark. He exists only in our hearts and imagination currently.

 

Author Spotlight | Julie Leung Talks About Merlin's Last Quest |www.patriciabaileyauthor.comJULIE LEUNG was raised in the sleepy suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, though it may be more accurate to say she grew up in Oz and came of age in Middle-earth. She works in book publishing as a digital marketer. In her free time, she enjoys furtively sniffing books at used bookstores and winning at obscure board games. Her favorite mode of transportation is the library. You can follow he on these Internet tendencies: TwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.

 

You can learn more about Julie and the other books in the MICE OF THE ROUND TABLE series by clicking on this interview I did with her about Book 1:  A TAIL OF CAMELOT and this Guest Post Julie did about Book 2:  VOYAGE TO AVALON.

You can buy Julie’s books at your favorite independent bookstore.

Thanks, Julie!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

 

 

 

Middle Grade Book Love: Rules of the Ruff

If you’re a regular reader of this blog (heck, even if this is your first ever visit to my website)  you know I love dogs. I don’t own a dog (YET!), but I adore them, which is why I eagerly snapped up an ARC of Heidi Lang’s latest middle grade novel, RULES OF THE RUFF. It has everything I love in a middle grade book – family drama, friendships, a yearning for something just out of reach, and a bit of a mystery. Plus, it has dogs. Lots and lots of dogs!

MG Book Love | rules-of-the-ruff | www.patriciabaieyauthor.comTwelve-year-old Jessie is in for a long summer at her aunt and uncle’s house. Her cousin Ann has a snotty new best friend, which leaves Jessie all alone. But Jessie is industrious, and—not content with being ignored all summer—she convinces Wes, a grouchy neighborhood dog walker, to take her on as his apprentice.

Sure, dog walking turns out to be harder than she expected, but she has Wes’s dog-walking code, the Rules of the Ruff, to guide her, and soon she’s wrangling her very own pack. But when a charismatic rival dog walker moves to town, she quickly snatches up most of Wes’s business—and Jessie decides she isn’t going to take this defeat with her tail between her legs.

 

Rules of the RuffRules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Such a fun book! Smart and funny in all the best ways – with a character who doesn’t always do the right thing, but is so easy to root for you can’t help but going along for the ride (or, in this case, the walk). Rules of the Ruff is a realistic look at how sometimes good intentions can lead you astray and how even the worst people may be better than you think.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A pitch-perfect age-appropriate sort-of romance. Kinda.
  • A easy-to-relate to main character who is far from perfect.
  • Dogs! Lots of dogs!

For teachers

  • Some subtle lessons on growing up taught through dog-walking rules.
  • Complicated family and friend relationships that will prove to be good conversation starters.
  • Good descriptions of what’s required to be a responsible pet owner from the eyes of a kid.

RULES OF THE RUFF  is available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

You can learn more about Heidi’s other middle grade books by checking out an interview I did with her and her writing partner here.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

KIT’s Out in Paperback!

THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN is out in paperback!!

And it has a bright and shiny new cover. And it has a blurb from the legendary historical fiction writer Karen Cushman right there on the cover!

kit-donvan-paperback | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Isn’t it lovely? It totally reminds me of covers of books I read and loved when I was a kid. Plus, there’s just something so accessible about a paperback book.

Confession:  When I opened the box of hard cover books Albert Whitman & Company sent me last year, I couldn’t touch them. Seriously. I could barely look at them. They just seemed so real and so scary and so serious I couldn’t quite believe they were mine.

kit-in-paperback | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comBut when I got my box of paperbacks last month, I reached right in and pulled one out. I even flipped through it. I wasn’t afraid of breaking it, or making it dirty, or otherwise mishandling it. It felt familiar – in a way the hard cover never did for me.

I hope that readers find the paperback as enticing and as comfortable as I do.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN, now you can for the paperback price. (How fun is that?). And if you have bought a hard cover, thank you! You still might want to take a look at the beautiful new paperback, though. It’s so pretty and such a good deal, it’s hard to resist.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells | Indiebound

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

KIT’s Winning Awards!

THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN has had an pretty amazing run of luck these past couple of months. Truth be told, I’m still amazed that people are actually reading something I wrote. The fact that they are reading and liking it still feels pretty surreal to me. The fact that they want to give it an award is beyond shocking and completely humbling.

As you know, THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN won an Oregon Book Award in May – an event that still makes me giddy when I think about and resulted in my book being on the shelf at Powell’s with one of those nifty little cards underneath.

KIT at Powells | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

But somehow the magic didn’t stop there. In the last couple of months, KIT has ended up on three other winner lists:

THE TRAGICWilla Award | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN is the Winner of the 2018 WILLA Literary Award Winner in Children’s/Young Adult Fiction & Nonfiction – an award given by Women Writing the West to recognize “outstanding literature featuring women’s stories set in the west.” I’ve been an avid reader of western literature for as long as I can remember – and as I child I actively sought out stories about girls and women in the west; stories that proved difficult to find. After a childhood of making up “girl in the west” stories in my head, it was a joy to get one published. It’s a real honor to be considered an award-winning writer of one, too.

osba | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
KIT is also the winner of the Oregon Council of Teachers of English’s Oregon Spirit Book Award. The award is “given yearly to the author of a distinguished contribution to children’s literature or young adult literature that engages and encourages readers’ imagination, discovery, and understanding, reflecting the spirit and values held by Oregonians.” If you know me, you know I’ve spent 15 plus years as an Oregon English teacher. You also know that encouraging kids to read and discuss books that interest and inspire them is high on my list of things that matter in the world. To be chosen for this award by a group of people I admire – and people I know to be a pretty tough audience 🙂 – is simply amazing.

WRMA | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comFinally, KIT has been chosen as a finalist for The Will Rogers Medallion Award. The WRMA “recognizes excellence in Western literature and media.” I’m so honored to be included among so many great Western writers. The Award Ceremony is in Fort Worth, TX in October, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

I’m so happy KIT seems to be finding her place in the world. You never know what all those years of writing and rewriting, hoping and despairing will amount to. You don’t know if a book will ever get published, or, if it does, if it will ever be read, or even liked, let alone loved. It’s a real joy to see that KIT’s story has resonated with people, that a few of them may have even loved it, and that someone might be carrying KIT around in their head as they walk to school or go shopping or just sit in class daydreaming – the way I did (and still do) with the books and characters I love.

Thank you all for your support over the last year and a half. It means the world to me.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Author Spotlight: Beth McMullen Talks About Power Play: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls #2

Author Spotlight | Beth McMullen Talks About Power Play | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Beth McMullen and her middle grade novel POWER PLAY:  MRS. SMITH’S SPY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS #2

Title: Power Play: Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls #2

Genre: mystery/action/adventure

Age Range: 9-14

Launch Date: July 3, 2018


Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Abby and the rest of her friends go international as they embark on their first “official” Center mission in this second book in the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series.

After discovering the truth about her spy school/boarding school—and her super-spy mom—Abby Hunter is ready for her next adventure, but what’s about to happen is something she never would have guessed…

Everyone at The Smith School is obsessed with Monster Mayhem, the latest reality video game craze. But when Drexel Caine, the mastermind behind the game is suddenly kidnapped, it becomes clear that the kidnappers are playing for more than just special badges.

After Drexel’s son—who is Abby’s friend, Toby—receives a cryptic message, Abby and her friends discover the kidnapping is part of a bigger scheme that could take down The Center for good.

With the help of Abby’s frenemy (and reluctant mentor), Veronica Brooks, the group tackles their first official Center Mission. They tangle with the world’s most notorious hacker, get in trouble for the possible theft of the Mona Lisa, and prepare for the ultimate showdown in London. But not before they have to contend with one more hurdle: the agonizing Smith School Spring Formal. Along the way, they discover they are much stronger as a team they can ever be alone.

And with a little luck, they might just save the world.

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

I went to boarding school as a kid and always thought it would make a great setting for a novel. I was writing for adults at the time so I tried it as an adult mystery but it was really bad. It wasn’t until I hit on a twelve year old as my main character that all the pieces fell into place.

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

My process is messy and inefficient!  I wish I could make a beautiful, detailed outline and stick to it but I’m definitely a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of author. I just jump in and start writing. It’s not uncommon for me to rewrite the first 50 pages ten times. Mostly I’m trying to find the voice of the character and somewhere in that write/rewrite process I get it and then I’m off to the races.

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?

When I was in high school, my history teacher read a story I’d written about brothers on opposing sides of the civil war aloud to the class. Naturally, I was mortified (teenagers!) but I distinctly remember how the students hung on every word. I was hooked!            

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 students to understand that making mistakes is okay, this is how we learn, and that sometimes we have to quiet the internal voice of doubt that keeps us from taking action and just embrace the risk of something new or unknown. Abby is a girl who doesn’t claim to know what she’s doing but is willing to try anyway. My message is: get off the sidelines, get into the game and don’t worry if you mess up. Keep trying.

It’s a message I dearly wish someone had offered me when I was young.       

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

I just wrote a dog into an adult thriller screenplay I’m working on!  He’s a tiny little thing – probably some kind of toy poodle/scrappy mutt mix and his job is to give the main character something to cling to (in her case, literally) when things get way ugly in the third act. His names is Oscar and he’s loosely based on my brother’s dog.

 

Author Spotlight | Beth McMullen Talks About Power Play | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
Beth McMullen is the author of the Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls series and several adult mysteries. Her books have heroes and bad guys, action and messy situations. An avid reader, she once missed her subway stop and rode the train all the way to Brooklyn because the book she was reading was that good. She lives in Northern California with her family, two cats and a parakeet named Zeus, who is sick of the cats eye-balling him like he’s dinner.

 

You can find Beth at her website or on social media at:
Twitter: @bvam
Instagram: @BethMcMullenBooks
FaceBook: @BethMcMullenBooks

POWER PLAY is available now online or at your local independent bookstore.

Thanks, Beth!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Author Spotlight: Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski Talk About A Hint of Hydra

Today IAuthor Spotlight | A Hint of Hydra | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com’m shining the Author Spotlight on Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski and their middle grade novel A HINT OF HYRA. A HINT OF HYDRA is the sequel to a book I loved last year, A DASH OF DRAGON.

Title: A HINT OF HYDRA

Genre: Fantasy

Age Range: 8-12

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Lailu Loganberry just wants to hunt and cook “monster cuisine” and serve lots of customers in the restaurant she owns with her (somewhat unreliable) mentor. Unfortunately, due to the events in book one of this series, a war is brewing between the vicious elven mafia and a group of up-and-coming steampunk scientists, and Lailu is caught in the middle.

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

KATI: For the first book, I was actually inspired by a “throwaway” episode of my favorite anime, SLAYERS. The characters go on this whole quest to eat dragon cuisine, and I thought it would be really fun to write a story about a girl whose goal is to become a master chef of dragon cuisine.

HEIDI: I loved Kati’s idea so much that I pestered her until she let me write this story with her, and it kind of evolved from there. We set our chef up in a magic versus science world, where the elves used to have a stranglehold on all the people and their businesses, but now they’re being replaced by steam-powered science.

KATI: We knew the first book would be about setting up the restaurant and starting those tensions, and then this sequel would be where those tensions really build. The whole book takes place during the Week of Masks, which is basically like a giant, week-long Halloween party.

HEIDI: Halloween is Kati’s favorite holiday, so the idea of a week-long celebration of it really appealed to her.

KATI: You’d love it, too. 😉

HEIDI: Yeah…I would. Especially the whole masked ball thing. Always wanted to go to one of those.

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

HEIDI: Our process is a little different because there are two of us. This is the second book we’ve written together, and surprisingly our co-writing system has stayed the same. Basically we brainstorm about our overall story and then Kati writes these really detailed outlines, which I then ignore.

KATI: It’s extremely frustrating.

HEIDI: She loves it. Secretly. 😉

KATI: Anyway…we take turns writing sections. So I’ll write a scene and then I’ll send it to Heidi. She makes any changes she wants to my scene and then writes the next scene and sends it back. I make my changes to hers, write my next scene, and…you see where we’re going with this.

HEIDI: When we’re finished with a draft, we both go through it together and come up with a plan for revisions. Our goal is to make sure our entire story is a good mix of both of us so the voice will feel like one 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?

KATI: Honestly I really struggled with writing when I was younger, until in my junior year of high school I started writing a story for fun about a girl samurai. I think that made me realize I could write things I enjoyed instead of just trying to write what I thought the teacher was looking for. I tested that out my senior year, and Mr. Degman, my English teacher that year, actually really liked my writing and gave me good grades on my papers. I think that was when I started to believe more in my writing.

HEIDI: Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a writer (aside from a brief period in second grade when I wanted to be a person who rehabilitated injured owls), and I was constantly writing these little stories until somehow, in high school, I did the reverse of Kati and lost my confidence in my writing. It wasn’t until I took a creative writing class in college that I rediscovered that confidence, and I owe a lot of that to Professor Berman. He could be brutally honest when critiquing our work, which was sometimes hard to take, but also meant when he told me he thought I had something good in my writing, I believed him. And when I told him I wanted to be an author, and he was very encouraging about it, I believed that, too.\

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?

KATI: We both loved Tamora Pierce’s “Alanna” series when we were kids, so we also wanted to write a story about a girl who has a very specific goal that she is willing to devote her whole life to. We’d read more than a few books about girls who had goals that they were willing to give up when they fell in love, because that love was the most important thing, and we were like, no.

HEIDI: So in our book, Lailu has a few potential love interests, and we won’t give away any spoilers here, but let’s just say her first love, her true love, will always be her cooking. We both think it’s important for kids to find something they are passionate about and willing to work toward. And to not feel constrained, either. Be creative, invent your own job if you can. In our world, there are no restaurants until Lailu invents the idea, and even though many people stand in her way, she works hard and makes it happen. Obviously there are different roadblocks for people living in this world than there are in our fictional one, but we wanted to show someone who doesn’t follow the conventional “chef” footsteps of getting a job in an aristocratic household, but instead wants to share her cooking with everyone.

KATI: Our sequel also deals with things like loneliness, or that feeling when your friends start growing apart from you, which we think is so relatable at that middle grade age. We wanted to show how friendships can change as you grow older, but that doesn’t mean they have to end. And also, we love creating characters who are morally gray. Someone can be a great chef, for instance, but a terrible mentor. Or someone can be loving, but unreliable. We’d love to see teachers highlighting those points.

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

HEIDI: Well, my favorite dogs have to be my own. Gordy is a twelve-year-old heeler/border collie mix (we think), and he’s the best boy ever. We’ve taken him on so many adventures – he goes camping, backpacking, rafting, hiking, he’s been up mountains and swimming in rivers and pretty much anywhere in between. Super smart, very loyal. And then there’s Gomu…

KATI: Go on, tell us about Gomu. 😉

HEIDI: Well…he’s super cute, a corgi/Australian shepherd mix. And he can also be super sweet.

KATI: When he wants to be.

HEIDI: Exactly. His loyalty is sometimes questionable. ;D But when he is being affectionate, he’ll pull his ears back and wag his whole body, and it totally wins us over every time. Plus he’s got so much personality, he keeps us entertained always.

KATI: I don’t have any dogs of my own, but I love my dog nephews, too.

Author Spotlight | A Hint of Hydra | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight | A Hint of Hydra Kati And Heidi | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comHeidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski are a writing team of two sisters with twenty years of experience in Judo. Heidi likes to fling food across her stove while attempting to cook new dishes, and Kati enjoys trying new cuisine at fancy restaurants. Between the two of them, they love creating characters that kick butt both inside and outside the kitchen. They are the co-authors of A DASH OF DRAGON and A HINT OF HYDRA. Find them on their website, www.HeidiandKatiwrite.com, or follow them on twitter @hidlang and @ktbartkowski.

 

You can pick up A HINT OF HYDRA at your favorite independent bookstore or online.

While you’re at it, you might want to read A DASH OF DRAGON first. (It’s so fun!)

A Dash of Dragon (Lailu Loganberry #1)A Dash of Dragon by Heidi Lang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! Heidi Lang places her super tough, super fun heroine into a great fantasy world – and adds cooking! The adventure is fun. The stakes are high. And there’s plenty of humor to keep you laughing along the way. Middle grade fantasy fans are going to love this one!

View all my reviews

 

Thanks Kati and Heidi!

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Author Spotlight: Caryn Lix Talks About Sanctuary

sanctuary | Author Spotlight | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
Today I’m
shining the Author Spotlight on Caryn Lix and her debut novel SANCTUARY.

Title:     SANCTUARY

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Age Range: 14-99 (YA)

Launch Date: July 24 2018

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Alien meets Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds in this novel about prison-guard-in-training, Kenzie, who is taken hostage by the superpowered criminal teens of the Sanctuary space station—only to have to band together with them when the station is attacked by mysterious creatures.

Kenzie holds one truth above all: the company is everything.

As a citizen of Omnistellar Concepts, the most powerful corporation in the solar system, Kenzie has trained her entire life for one goal: to become an elite guard on Sanctuary, Omnistellar’s space prison for superpowered teens too dangerous for Earth. As a junior guard, she’s excited to prove herself to her company—and that means sacrificing anything that won’t propel her forward.

But then a routine drill goes sideways and Kenzie is taken hostage by rioting prisoners.

At first, she’s confident her commanding officer—who also happens to be her mother—will stop at nothing to secure her freedom. Yet it soon becomes clear that her mother is more concerned with sticking to Omnistellar protocol than she is with getting Kenzie out safely.

As Kenzie forms her own plan to escape, she doesn’t realize there’s a more sinister threat looming, something ancient and evil that has clawed its way into Sanctuary from the vacuum of space. And Kenzie might have to team up with her captors to survive—all while beginning to suspect there’s a darker side to the Omnistellar she knows.

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

I love space. I love aliens. I love messy decisions and blurred moral lines and romances that transcend boundaries. I wanted to put all of these things together with that sense of claustrophobic horror you get from the very best creepy movies and video games, and that was why I decided to write about an alien attack on a prison – and one on a space station. You can’t get more trapped than that.

As for my characters, I love them all. I really do. They start as these vivid dreams and become my best friends and worst enemies, taking on a life of their own until I really don’t have much choice about getting them down on paper. They sneak out of my brain onto the page.

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

Everyone has such a unique perspective on this, and I love hearing how other people write. For me, I often start with a rough outline, but before long that goes out the window, which means there’s usually a point halfway through where I’ve written myself into a corner and am curled up on the couch under a blanket yelling plot ideas at my dogs. Eventually my husband convinces me to go write some more, at which point I write a truly terrible chapter that has to be deleted later, but that’s enough to propel me back into the story and get things moving again. In this way, bit by bit, an idea becomes a plot.

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 so many amazing teachers. I mention three in my acknowledgements. The first teacher who ever told me I could write was Ms Rochester, my grade 8 creative writing teacher. It had never occurred to me before that. In high school, my English teacher Mr Feschuk and my drama teacher Mr Montalbetti both had huge roles in encouraging me to write. I really don’t think I’d be where I am without them.

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?

As a teacher myself, I think I have a pretty strong connection with what kids like to read. This is a great classroom pick for reluctant readers who want page-turning action, but will still appeal to a wide audience, making it a good whole class read. I’d love to see teachers use it to explore themes of isolation, of corporate entities and their control over the world, of what we can trust in terms of what we see and hear in the world around us.

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

Um, YES. I have two dogs. Aleiah is a nine year old rescue. She’s a black lab with three legs. We think someone kicked her as a pup and her leg grew in crooked. The rescue organization had to amputate it before I adopted her. She is my very best friend and is always at my side. Archer is a three year old Boston Terrier. He is 50% adorableness and 50% nightmare. When he’s not curled up being the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, he’s attacking a wall because it looked at him funny. They are my constant writing companions.

Caryn Lix Aleigh | Author Spotlight | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Caryn Lix and Archer and Ali | Author Spotlight | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comarcher-anbd-ali

Caryn Lix and Archer | Author Spotlight | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

 

 

 

Caryn Lix | Author Spotlight | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comCaryn Lix has been writing since she was a teenager and delved deep into science fiction, fantasy, and the uncanny while working on her Masters in English literature. Caryn writes novels for teens and anyone else who likes a bit of the bizarre to mess up their day. When not writing, Caryn spends her time obsessively consuming other people’s stories, plotting travel adventures, and exploring artistic endeavors. She lives with her husband and a horde of surly and entitled animals in southern Alberta. Visit her online at www.carynlix.com or find her on Twitter and Instagram: @missrithenay

You can pick up SANCTUARY at your local indie bookstore or online July 24, 2018.

Thanks, Caryn!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

 

Author Spotlight: Darcy Miller Talks About Margot and Mateo Save the World

Margot and Mateo | Author Spotlight | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Darcy Miller and her middle grade novel MARGOT AND MATEO SAVE THE WORLD.

Title:  Margot and Mateo Save the World

Genre:  Middle Grade Science Fiction

Age Range:  8-12

Launch Date:  July 3, 2018


Please tell us a little bit about your book.

In Margot and Mateo two, unlikely middle school friends race to save the world from an alien slug invasion! It contains, among other things: a mysterious beached whale, a bumbling scientist, an ill-fated middle school production of “Romeo and Juliet”, alien goo, and salt. Lots of salt.

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

My husband, Ben, and I were on a lunch date at a sushi restaurant early last year, and happened to sit next to a mother and her daughter. The daughter, who was probably about nine years old, had blue-streaked hair, gold flash tattoos, and was ordering eel for lunch. She had more self-confidence in her little finger than I did in my entire body, and I was blown away by her. Right away, I knew I wanted to write a book with a heroine like her: a girl who was strong, and smart, and capable of doing anything she wanted to do, including saving the world.

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

I have two small children at home, so every minute of writing time is precious! I wrote my first book almost entirely in the middle of the night, typing one-handed while breastfeeding. (I can still type over 70 WPM with one hand!) Our youngest son just started 4K last year, so for the first time, I had two and a half hours to write uninterrupted every day. I still try to steal every minute I can, though; I’ve been known to hide behind our kitchen counter with a notebook . . .

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?

The setting for my first novel, ROLL, is actually a thinly-veiled version of my hometown, in southern Minnesota. When I went back to do a library presentation about ROLL for the first time, SEVEN of my elementary/high school teachers came out to support me. Almost every single one of them mentioned how I always had a book with me at school, and how they knew I would go on to be a writer. So while it wasn’t one teacher or librarian in particular, I was incredibly lucky to grow up with people who believed in me, and made me believe in myself.

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?

One of my biggest pet peeves about middle grade fiction is when stories get labeled as “boy” or “girl” books! There’s a misconception that action books are just for boys. With that in mind, I had a single goal for MARGOT AND MATEO: to write the most off-the-wall, hilarious, action story that I could, featuring a fearless girl heroine in the lead. My hope is that MARGOT AND MATEO will appeal to everyone, especially reluctant readers!

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

Paws down, my favorite dog in the world has to be our puppy, Snake! (Our four-year-old named her after a dream he had.) She’s pretty much the greatest thing to ever happen to us, and has already tripled in size since we got her! Now if we can just get her to stop chewing the siding off our garage . . .

Darcy Miller and Snake | Author Spotlight | www.patrciabaileyauthor.com

 

Darcy Miller | Author Spotlight | www.patrciabaileyauthor.comDarcy Miller is the author of Margot and Mateo Save the World and Roll. She lives in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, with her two children and librarian husband. You can visit Darcy online at www.darcyamiller.com. She is @DarcyAMiller on Twitter, and @darcyannemiller on Instagram.

You can pick up a copy of MARGOT AND MATEO SAVE THE WORLD at your favorite indie bookstore or online on July 3, 2018.

You might want to check out Darcy’s other book, ROLL, too. (Trust me, you do). You can read my rave review below:

RollRoll by Darcy Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s so much to love about Darcy Miller’s MG debut. Ren is likeable and funny – and his worries and doubts are so easy to relate to. Sutton is smart and self-aware, and has the coolest hobby ever – training roller pigeons. Together, they face a summer of change in heartfelt and interesting ways.
Funny, engaging, and ultimately full of hope – Roll tackles the very real issues of growing up (and maybe growing apart) in an authentic way. A wonderful read.

View all my reviews

Thanks, Darcy!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Middle Grade Book Love: The Frame-Up

One very cool thing about having writer friends is that you get to read their new books before they are released into the world – which is how I got a sneak peek at Wendy McLeod MacKnight’s latest middle grade mystery, THE FRAME-UP.

I was lucky enough to befriend Wendy last year, as we navigated the debut author world together. I interviewed her then about her novel, IT’S A MYSTERY PIG-FACE, and got to interview her again last month over at the From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog about her latest novel, THE FRAME-UP, a book that quickly became one of my favorite middle grade reads.

Middle Grade Book Love | The Frame-Up | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comWhen Sargent Singer discovers that the paintings in his father’s gallery are alive, he is pulled into a captivating world behind the frame that he never knew existed.

Filled with shady characters, devious plots, and a grand art heist, this inventive mystery-adventure celebrates art and artists and is perfect for fans of Night at the Museum and Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer.

There’s one important rule at the Beaverbrook Gallery—don’t let anyone know the paintings are alive. Mona Dunn, forever frozen at thirteen when her portrait was painted by William Orpen, has just broken that rule. Luckily twelve-year-old Sargent Singer, an aspiring artist himself, is more interested in learning about the vast and intriguing world behind the frame than he is in sharing her secret.

And when Mona and Sargent suspect shady dealings are happening behind the scenes at the gallery, they set out to find the culprit. They must find a way to save the gallery—and each other—before they are lost forever.  

With an imaginative setting, lots of intrigue, and a thoroughly engaging cast of characters, The Frame-Up will captivate readers of Jacqueline West’s The Books of Elsewhere.

 

The Frame-UpThe Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my favorite reads this year. Wendy McLeod MacKnight blends humor, mystery, heart, and art in this fun and intriguing middle grade novel. Great characters abound – both inside and outside of the paintings. And MacKnight keeps the mystery tight and the plot moving while mixing in just the right amount of relationship/family problems. Clever. Innovative. Great writing. And a fun read. This one is timeless.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • Humor. It’s funny! Smart characters and great, imaginative situations.
  • Pictures that come to life – and have a life.
  • A great mystery.

For teachers

  • Art. Lots of it. Real life masterpieces, art theory, and art history come to life in this book.
  • A fun boy/girl friendship.
  • A good depiction of the difficulties of staying with your non-custodial parent.

THE FRAME-UP is available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.

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