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.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

Middle Grade Book Love: The Last Great Adventure of the PB and J Society

I’m celebrating my birthday week by highlighting a great friend and a great book! (Bonus, this friend also shares a birthday month with me. Yay fellow Aries!) I read THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB AND J SOCIETY shortly after meeting Janet, and I knew immediately we were destined to by friends. She’s smart, funny, and thoughtful in all the best ways – and so is her book!

Middle Grade Book Love | the-last-great-adventure-of-the-pb-and-j-society | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comWhen her best friend’s house is threatened with foreclosure, young Annie Jenkins is full of ideas to save the home: selling her appendix on eBay, winning the lottery, facing down the bankers . . . anything to keep Jason from moving. But Jason’s out-of-work dad blows up at the smallest things, and he’s not very happy with Annie’s interventions, which always seem to get them into more trouble. But when Annie tracks a lost treasure to Jason’s backyard, she’s sure the booty will be enough to save Jason’s family. Pirate treasure in the Midwest seems far-fetched, even to Annie, but it could be the answer to all their problems. Now all she has to do is convince Jason. As the two hunt for answers and the pressure gets to Jason and his family, Annie discovers that the best-laid plans aren’t always enough and there are worse things than moving away.

For readers

  • Humor. It’s funny with lots of laugh out loud moments.
  • A great friendship.
  • A main character who makes mistakes you can relate to.

For teachers

  • A smart, funny, and realistic handling of tough topics.
  • A fierce boy/girl friendship.
  • A detailed Discussion Guide.

THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB AND J SOCIETY is available now. You can pick up a copy online or at your nearest independent bookseller.

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue

I’m an Oregon Book Awards Finalist!

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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?

BRIDGE OF THE GODS by Diane Rios

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 ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN by Patricia Bailey.

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.

oregone-book-awards-state-imagetransparent
In the meantime, be sure to cast your vote in the Readers’ Choice Award survey!

PB | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comTrishSignatureblue