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!

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Author Spotlight: Amanda Hosch Talks About Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying

Author Spotlight | Amanda Hosch Talks About Mabel Opal Pear } www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Amanda Hosch and her debut novel Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying.

Title: Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying

Genre: Middle Grade Mystery

Age Range: 9 to 12

Launch Date: October 1, 2017


Please tell us a little bit about your book.

Fifth-grader Mabel (code name Sunflower) wrote the Rules for a Successful Life as an Undercover Secret Agent, so when her parents leave town abruptly she is not too worried–but when her beloved Aunt Gertie is arrested, and her objectionable Uncle Frank and Aunt Stella (Frankenstella) and her annoying (but clever) cousin Victoria take over her house and the family’s private museum, Mabel begins to smell a rat and she is determined to find out what her suspicious relatives are up to.

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

I’ve always loved mystery and detective stories. Mabel’s voice came to me one summer. It was very strong and very sure. Her parents were secret agents, she knew their secret, and was struggling with balancing their secret and trying to live a normal fifth-grade life.

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

Usually, I write the first two or three chapters to see if the narrator has a story to tell. If I find it interesting, then I plot out the rest. Mabel’s voice was so strong in the first few chapters that I was able to outline the book in a day since I knew exactly what she would do. The short outline had perhaps two or three sentences for each chapter. The first draft took about six weeks. After I was done the first draft, I double-checked some of the fact and trivia, and then revised (of course) and revised some more.

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?

How much time do you have? Seriously, so many people encouraged my love of reading and writing, starting with my mother.

Miss Linda from the Nix branch of the New Orleans library system. She let me hang out in the “teen” section, which was only two bookshelves and always recommended new books for me. She taught me about the wonders of interlibrary loan. In fact, I was a library volunteer during the summers of my middle school years.

Mrs. Lee Klebba and Mrs. Sandra Fassnacht at Mercy Academy both encouraged my 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?

Mabel is a typical fifth grader and she’s studied US geography and state capitals (which come into play for the plot), but her secret super power is observation. She really sees what’s going on and trusts her instincts. I’d love to see MOPRS used as a way for students to strengthen their own powers of observation.

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

When I was about three, we brought home a shaggy black street mutt from Audubon Park. His real name was Reginald, but I called him Puppy. He was the smartest and most loyal dog ever. He was a street mutt at heart so he would eat anything (crayons, rubber bands, bananas, loafs of bread, frozen whole fish). However, he was also super-obedient. One day, my brothers and I put our full lunch plates on the kitchen floor, told him “no,” and walked into the other room. He sat next to the plates, quivering, but not eating a bite. My mother was not pleased with our experiment, and we had to give Puppy the ham from our sandwiches as reward for his restraint.

Author Spotlight | Amanda Hosch Talks About Mabel Opal Pear } www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight | Amanda Hosch Talks About Mabel Opal Pear } www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI’m an EFL/ESL teacher (English as a Foreign Language/English as a Second Language) and taught abroad for almost a decade: Canada, South Korea, Czech Republic, and Taiwan. Originally from New Orleans, I now live in Seattle with my husband, our two daughters, and a ghost cat. We recently added two former shelter cats to our family. When not writing, I volunteer at the school library or work with struggling readers.

https://www.amandahosch.com/

https://twitter.com/AmandaFaeremom

Thanks, Amanda!

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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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