A Roundup of My Posts at From the Mixed Up Files

If you hang out with me on social media you know I’ve been busy writing posts for the From The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog the last few weeks. (If you’re not hanging out with me, please, come on over and connect). It’s always fun to see my posts up on other sites, and even more fun to share them again on mine. With that in mind, I thought I’d do a little round up here on the blog in case you missed them.

The first post involved me nerding out to space exploration and Elon Musk’s roadster. It includes a list of space-themed middle grade books you’ll want to add to your want to read list.

starman-a-space-themed-middle-grade-book-list | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

The second post was a simple book list, filled with (nearly) all the new middle grade books coming out in March. (And there’s a lot. My to-read pile is seriously out of control). Here’s the list.

March New Releases | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Thanks for reading. And be sure to visit From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors. There’s a ton of great stuff for teachers, librarians, kids, and writers over there.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Author Spotlight: Sarah Nicole Smetana Talks About The Midnights

It’s a brand new year in YA and Children’s Literature – which means it’s time to pass the debut author gauntlet to a new group of writers. It’s a pleasure to welcome the Class of 2k18 and their debut novels into the world this year, and I’m extra pleased to get to feature some of them on my blog.

Author Spotlight | Sarah Nicole Smetana Talks About The Midnights | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Sarah Nicole Smetana and her debut novel THE MIDNIGHTS


Genre:  Contemporary YA

Age Range:  14+

Launch Date:  March 6, 2018

Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Taking place in Southern California, THE MIDNIGHTS is about an aspiring musician struggling to hold onto herself and her music after her father’s unexpected death uproots more than just long-buried family secrets.

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

The simple answer is that the book was inspired by my experiences in the music scene as a teenager, as well as California in general. But as a coming-of-age story, I’d also say it was inspired by the process most teenagers go through of trying to figure out who they are, where they belong in the world, and how to best pursue their passions.

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

The writing process was… long. I began this book, in earnest, about six months before I started my MFA program, and then it went through two years of writing and scrapping and rewriting and tearing apart the insides just looking for the real story. After figuring that out, it took a few more years to write the darn thing. And, all in all, I probably wrote hundreds of pages that were eventually deleted or reconfigured entirely. Seven years passed between the time I started really working on THE MIDNIGHTS, and now, when it’s hitting shelves.

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

Ms. Kim, my AP English Lit teacher in high school. She’s married now and has a different last name but I will forever call her Ms. Kim. I had her class for 0 period my senior year, which was pretty rough because it was so early in the morning, but Ms. Kim was such an incredible teacher, so passionate and so fun. I didn’t actually do any creative writing there, but the class definitely expanded my love of reading. We tore apart these complex novels that I never would have understood or appreciated otherwise, and I think working like that—really isolating and assigning meaning to all the pieces in a work of fiction—helped guide me when I decided to start writing fiction of my own.

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?

Wow, this is a great question, and one I’ve never thought about! Other than it being a story about growing up and trying to figure out who you are (which I hope teen readers can identify with!), I think it would be a fun exercise to look closely at the setting as a literary device, and explore how it affects the protagonist and the story. The setting (and the weather in particular) was a big factor for me when writing, and it plays a very important role. We are, after all, a product of where we are raised. And sometimes, a place is really quite different from how it appears to an outsider.

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 two favorite dogs, but I’ll just talk about one: Juno, the white German shepherd that my parents got a few years before I was born. When I came into the family, Juno was already part of it—and this, I’ve always thought, was really special. I never knew the world without having a big, loving dog by my side. She was my best friend until I was about twelve, when she passed. I still miss her.


Author Spotlight | Sarah Nicole Smetana Talks About The Midnights | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSarah Nicole Smetana grew up in Orange, California, where she wrote songs, played in a few bands, and successfully pilfered all of her parents’ best vinyl records. She received her BFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University and her MFA in Fiction from The New School. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their three-legged cat. The Midnights (HarperTeen/HarperCollins) is her first novel.

You can find Sarah at her website and on:





You can pick up a copy at THE MIDNIGHTS at your favorite local bookstore on March 6, or pre-order online now.

Thanks, Sarah!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue



I’m an Oregon Book Awards Finalist!

I’m beyond thrilled to see my book on the list of finalists for this year’s Oregon Book Awards!

Five years ago, when I was trying hard to do the things I thought real writers did, I submitted 25 pages of a manuscript I was working on to the Oregon Literary Arts fellowship program on a whim. Miraculously, I was awarded the Edna L. Holmes Fellowship in Young Readers Literature. I used the monetary gift they so generously presented me to attend a retreat that helped me shape that manuscript into THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN. And now, that book is up for an Oregon Book Award! Talk about full circle.

It’s a real honor to be listed among the finalists for the ELOISE JARVIS MCGRAW AWARD FOR CHILDREN’S LITERATURE. The books are all incredible, and I wanted to give a shout out to each of them.

SHAKE A LEG, EGG by Kurt Cyrus

Oregon Book Awards 2018 | shake-a-leg-egg | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

From celebrated author-illustrator Kurt Cyrus comes a playful and whimsical picture book that celebrates the excitement and anticipation of a soon-to-be-born baby.

It’s springtime, and the pond is bursting with new life. There are beaver pups, heron hatchlings, and lots and lots of ducklings. Everyone is out and about, swimming, flapping, chirping, and quacking—except for one family of geese. When, oh when, will their last little one break on out and join the waiting world?


Oregon Book Awards 2018 | bridge-of-the-gods | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTwelve-year-old Chloe Ashton is an only child living in the remote wilderness of Oregon. She spends her days happily exploring the forests around her home, and is astonished to find the animals seem to know her, to follow her, and even try to speak to her. When a family tragedy results in Chloe’s abduction and sale to the vagabonds, she is taken deeper into the woods, and finds out just how much the animals know.

Set at a time when technology is first touching the west, there is an evil rising in the land. The country is under attack, and all creatures, man and beast, must hide. The old legends speak of an ancient, natural magic deep within the mountains and rivers, and as Chloe struggles to survive, she finds that it still exists deep within the forests. Friendship can be found even in the darkest of places, and it doesn’t always come in human form.

Bridge of the Gods is a novel for all ages about the magical power of nature, and of finding friendship in the darkest of places.

THE  MUSIC OF LIFE by Elizabeth Rusch

Oregon Book Awards 2018 | the-music-of-life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comAward-winning biographer Elizabeth Rusch and two-time Caldecott Honor–recipient Marjorie Priceman team up to tell the inspiring story of the invention of the world’s most popular instrument: the piano.

Bartolomeo Cristofori coaxes just the right sounds from the musical instruments he makes. Some of his keyboards can play piano, light and soft; others make forte notes ring out, strong and loud, but Cristofori longs to create an instrument that can be played both soft and loud.

His talent has caught the attention of Prince Ferdinando de Medici, who wants his court to become the musical center of Italy. The prince brings Cristofori to the noisy city of Florence, where the goldsmiths’ tiny hammers whisper tink, tink and the blacksmiths’ big sledgehammers shout BANG, BANG! Could hammers be the key to the new instrument?

At last Cristofori gets his creation just right. It is called the pianoforte, for what it can do. All around the world, people young and old can play the most intricate music of their lives, thanks to Bartolomeo Cristofori’s marvelous creation: the piano.

LIFE by Cynthia Rylant

Oregon Book Awards 2018 | life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comCynthia Rylant and Brendan Wenzel explore the beauty and tenacity of life.

Life begins small, then grows…

There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle. Through the eyes of the world’s animals—including elephants, monkeys, whales, and more—Cynthia Rylant offers a moving meditation on finding beauty around us every day and finding strength in adversity. Brendan Wenzel’s stunning landscapes and engaging creatures make this an inspiring and intriguing gift for readers of all ages.

And (because I’m so excited I can’t resist):


The Tragically True Adventure of Kit Dononvan | Patricia Bailey | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comLife in a 1905 Nevada mining town is not easy for any thirteen-year-old. For Kit Donovan, it seems downright impossible. When her mother dies of a fever, Kit is certain she is to blame. Guilt-ridden, she is determined to honor her promises to her mother—namely to be a “proper lady.” Only being a lady is tougher than it looks. When Kit discovers that Papa’s boss at the gold mine (the menacing and self-serving Mr. Granger) is profiting from unsafe working conditions in the mine, she convinces her dad to speak out. But sometimes doing the right thing leads to trouble. Now Kit must find a way to expose Granger’s misdeeds before it’s too late. Aided by an eccentric woman, a Shoshone boy, and a drunken newspaperman, Kit puts her big mouth and all the life skills she’s learned from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to work. With a man’s hat and a printing press, Kit defies threats of violence and discovers that justice doesn’t always look like she imagined it would.

The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on April 30. I can’t wait to meet everyone and fan girl my heart out.

In the meantime, be sure to cast your vote in the Readers’ Choice Award survey!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue


I Wrote a Picture Book!!

i-wrote-a-picture-book | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comAbout two months ago I had a flash of an idea. One of those flashes that come unbidden and out of nowhere and demand you pay attention to them. So I paid attention because I learned long ago that these flashes are gifts – from the universe or the muse or just some part of the unconscious that’s particularly tuned in at that moment – I really don’t know. But I do know that they always lead somewhere interesting. This time the flash led me to do something I never thought I’d do:  I wrote a picture book!

I never had any plans to write a picture book. It looked hard. Too hard. I’ve read picture books. They are amazing. And impossible. Tell an entire story in 500 words or less and make it smart and funny, poignant and heartfelt, rich and beautiful. The best ones do all this and more.

Making Picture Book Magic | I wrote a picture book | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

But I had an idea, so when my friend Janet told me about Making Picture Book Magic and offered to retake the course with me, I signed up. Then I dove in with both feet, dedicating time every day to write my picture book. And thanks to Susanna’s awesome lessons, boosts of support from my classmates, and the added gift of Janet’s eagle-eye critiquing skills, I did it! I wrote a picture book. A complete one. And it might even be kind of funny. Maybe. But it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I honored the flash and took a chance and created something brand new. I played with ideas and tinkered with words and had a blast just writing – with no expectations beyond the simple act of creating something.

It was awesome! So awesome, I decided to lean all the way and challenge myself to write a picture book each month as part of the 12×12 Challenge.
I’m pretty sure it will be difficult and frustrating and exciting and loads of fun. All the best adventures are.

12-x-12-picture book challenge | I wrote a picture book | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

I’m excited to be starting 2018 with a completed picture book manuscript, a really fun middle grade work in progress, and a plan. It’s the end of January, what are you excited about?

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com




Middle Grade Book Love: Midnight Without a Moon

I’ve been wanting to read Linda  Williams Jackson’s historical middle grade novel, MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON since I first heard about it early in 2017. I had the good fortune of interviewing Linda for my Author Spotlight series in January of that year, and the story has stuck with me ever since.

Which may be why I saved it for so long. (Yep, I was the kid who could make a candy bar last for days if I needed to). I had a feeling it would be rich in character and history as well as beautifully written, and I wanted to be able to dive right into it and read without interruption. I was not disappointed.

Book Love | Midnight Without a Moon | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. For now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation. Then, one town over, an African American boy, Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. When Till’s murderers are unjustly acquitted, Rose realizes that the South needs a change and that she should be part of the movement. Linda Jackson’s moving debut seamlessly blends a fictional portrait of an African American family and factual events from a famous trial that provoked change in race relations in the United States.

MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON is a compelling story – told with honesty and grace. Every school should have this book on their shelves.

Midnight Without a Moon (Rose Lee Carter #1)Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wonderful and powerful. A tough, lovely, and real story about a young girl growing up in the Mississippi Delta during the 1950’s and struggling to sort out her place in her family and in the world at large. This is a beautiful book – filled with complex characters, sharp storytelling, and rich history. A must read for kids and adults.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A brave story well told.
  • A compelling and relate-able heroine.
  • A complicated family structure lots of kids will relate to.

For teachers

  • An accessible and compelling story about Civil Rights in America.
  • A great book to pair with To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Some beautiful examples of literary devices such as metaphor, simile, and alliteration.
  • A great Discussion Guide.

MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON and the next book in the series, A SKY FULL OF STARS, are both available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year | 2018 | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

2017 was a bit of a roller coaster year for many of us. Great highs Terrifying dips. And far too many unexpected turns. Between the thrill of seeing my book published and out in the world and the fear of seeing my husband sick and struggling, I’m feeling a little worn out and tossed around by 2017 –  and more than happy to usher in a bright and shiny new year.

My goals for 2018 are pretty simple:

  • Focus on the joy. Do  more of what I love with the people that I love.
  • Finish Book 2 – the project that’s been a casualty of life stress for far too long.
  • Write a picture book (or two or three).
  • Get a solid draft of a new mg historical novel.
  • Find the quiet. Take more walks in the woods and on the beach.

Not a small list, for sure, and not a particularly easy one. But a do-able one. And a necessary one. I feel the need for deep focus in the months ahead.The kind of deep focus that sometimes seems difficult in our busy lives full of screen time and instant updates.

Which is why I think I’ll start the new year using May Sarton’s poetic advice as a guide – and shove off the clutter and find my way “…back to still water.”

New Year Resolve

The time has come
To stop allowing the clutter
To clutter my mind
Like dirty snow,
Shove it off and find
Clear time, clear water.

Time for a change,
Let silence in like a cat
Who has sat at my door
Neither wild nor strange
Hoping for food from my store
And shivering on the mat.

Let silence in.
She will rarely speak or mew,
She will sleep on my bed
And all I have ever been
Either false or true
Will live again in my head.

For it is now or not
As old age silts the stream,
To shove away the clutter,
To untie every knot,
To take the time to dream,
To come back to still water.

~ May Sarton, “New Year Resolve” from Collected Poems, 1930-1993

My wish for you is that you take the time to dream in the year ahead; find time for the quiet moments that fill you up and make you whole; take the time to rediscover yourself.

May 2018 be overflowing with love and happiness.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

A Christmas Thank You

Happy Holidays | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s been a big year here at my house. Lots of truly wonderful things happened – my first novel was published; I made a bunch of new friends; and I got to travel to some pretty cool places. And lots of not-so- wonderful things happened, too – my husband got terribly sick in March and we spent a whole  lot of time worrying and doctoring and trying to do life and work and art in the midst of chaos and doubt. People smarter than I say that the universe likes balance – and 2017 may have convinced me of this truth.

One of the things I know is that everything always look a little better when you take the time to count your blessings. And even in a hard year – when taking a moment to be grateful can sometimes seem like another thing on the to-do list – there are many things to be grateful for. And one of the things on my blessings list is you. So, I want to give you all a big Christmas Thank You. Thank you for being here for me this year – for showing up at book events, for talking with me over coffee and on Facebook and on Twitter, for cheering for all the good that’s happened and for supporting me through the bad. You are the best. <3

Sending you all much love and wishing you happiness in health in 2018.

Patricia Bailey | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com


Jolabokaflod: A Post About Book-Giving at the Mixed-Up Files Blog

Book-giving | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comLast week, I shared a post about gift-giving over at The Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors – the spot where I blog when I’m not blogging here. In it, I talk about the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve – and my own book-giving traditions.

I also asked some of my writing friends to share their book-giving lists – which they did, so there’s also a great book list of must-reads over there.

You can read the post here.

I’d love to hear about  your book-giving traditions – or the best books you’ve given or received as gifts. Feel free to share in the comments below.


Class of 2k17 Books New Year, New Library Giveaway!

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

This time we’re giving away a huge prize package! Start your year with a library full of books. We’re giving away 28 Middle Grade and Young Adult books and swag signed by the authors.



Click here to enter to win this awesome prize package!

~Contest ends 12/18/17~


So How Long Did It Take?

Last month I was asked to write an article that would fit in The Author’s Journey column of the Oregon SCBWI’s regional newsletter.

I was honored – and scared – which turns out to be a combination of emotions that actually gets work out of me.

I wrote the following piece in a whir – which may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but I’ve been pretty blocked writing-wise for quite some time. Getting words on a page – any words – felt like a freaking miracle to me.
The fact that the words made sense and seemed to resonate with the readers who took the time to email me was staggering.

And revisiting the serendipitous magic that resulted in a published book was healing for me. It’s always good to remember that dreams come true through a mix of hard work, aligned timing, and simple luck – and you’re only in control of one of these.

I hope you enjoy the article.

The Tragically True Adventure of Kit Dononvan | Patricia Bailey | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSo How Long Did it Take

There’s one question every author gets asked – whether they’re being interviewed or speaking on a conference panel – “How long did it take you to get published?”.

It’s a good question. A valid question. We’re writers, after all, and who better to give us a clue about the path to publication than someone who found a way through the wilderness and got a book on the bookstore shelf.

The only problem is that there are as many paths to that shelf as there are writers. Everyone’s journey is a little bit different. But one thing is true for all of us, and that’s the answer I usually give.

It’s taken my entire life – from birth to right now – to get published.

It’s taken every sentence I’ve scribbled since I learned to hold a pencil. Every book I’ve read. Every teacher who said, “I don’t understand what you mean here,” or “Tell me more about this.”

It’s taken every second I’ve spent daydreaming. Every time I’ve asked “I wonder?” Every hour I’ve passed following my curiosity.

It’s taken years of classes and conferences, craft books and critique partners.

Cycles of hope and doubt, failure and triumph.

It took forever.

And then, suddenly, it took no time and all.

I signed up for a manuscript critique at the Oregon SBWI conference in May of 2015 and had the incredible luck of meeting an agent who loved my book and my writing. I signed with her in June, and the novel was on submission in September. By March 2016 we had a publisher, and by the end of April 2017 my book was on the shelf at Barnes and Noble.

Which means I could say that my path to publication took two years. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

But we all know that’s not quite true. We’re all writers here after all. So maybe a better question to ask is: “Was it worth it?”

And to that question, my answer is an easy one.

Absolutely. Every minute of it.

(Originally published in Oregon SCBWI Newsworthy November-December 2017)