Tag Archives: ‘children’s books

Signed Book Giveaway-Martin’s Big Words

Martin's Big Words

Martin’s Big Words

Mr. Brian Collier

Mr. Brian Collier

It’s giveaway time. This past November I met Brian Collier at an SCBWI writing conference. Brian is an illustrator and shared his road to success story with us.

Brian and I with Martin's Big Words

Brian and I with Martin’s Big Words

Signed Copy by illustrator Brian Collier

Signed Copy by illustrator Brian Collier

He spent hours each day walking the streets of NYC dropping off his portfolio to publishing houses. He was determined to get his work noticed and never gave up until he did. He made a comment that stuck with me, “It’s not there until it’s there,” he said. I think as writers we can understand this statement. We dream of the “one day,” but the dream is just a dream until that “one day” finally comes.

I was hoping to get an interview with Brian for the blog, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to get in touch with him. I did however manage to get a signed copy of the book he illustrated, Martin’s Big Words, The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King. This book received many awards including the Jane Adams Children’s Book Awards, Blue Ribbon List, The Caldecott Honor Book, Best Children’s Book award and several more.

Brian’s illustrations are amazing. He is a gifted artist who conveys the emotion of the picture brilliantly. If you ever get the chance to attend a conference where he is speaking, I highly recommend you go. He’s funny and knows how to capture his audience.

Just one of the beautiful pictures you will find in this book.

Just one of the beautiful pictures you will find in this book.

Here is the summary on Amazon:

This picture-book biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world’s most influential leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Doreen Rappaport weaves the immortal words of Dr. King into a captivating narrative to tell the story of his life. With stunning art by acclaimed illustrator Bryan Collier, Martin’s Big Words is an unforgettable portrait of a man whose dream changed America-and the world-forever.

Anyone who comments on this blog will be entered into the giveaway. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to own this signed book.

I will leave the contest open for comments for one week. Next Wednesday I will announce a winner.

Good Luck!

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Filed under Author Interview, books, Giveaway, reading, writer conference

CONGRATULATIONS

and-the-winner-is-oscar-37748

Congratulations Medeia you are the winner of the signed copy Road to Tater Hill! You have commented on many of my giveaways prior to this but this is your first win. I will be sending you the book asap. Please send me a comment after you read the book letting me know how you liked it.

Readers, if you are interested in me interviewing you for my blog leave a comment an I will arrange everything.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Filed under Author Interview, books, Fiction, Giveaway, middle grade fiction, writer's life, writers

I’VE GOT SUNSHINE

Hey, hey, I’m back. My blog has taken a brief hiatus in recent months and now it’s time to return. I have some cool things coming up that I hope will please my readers.

In the next few weeks you will be able to enter a giveaway (for a signed copy of a super funny book), read an interview (from the author who wrote the super funny book), participate in writing exercises, read some ramblings and hopefully gain some useful information. So, keep reading for new updates and blog posts.

Okay, let’s get to today’s post. Yesterday I received a   Sunshine Blogger Award from fellow writer A.F.E. Smith (which instantly made me smile). In accepting this award, I am required to answer a series of questions and then pass the torch (aka Sunshine Blogger Award) to other bloggers who I think deserve the award too, link my nominees to this post and comment on their blog letting them know of their nomination. Below are my answers and the blogs I have nominated, keep reading to see if you are one of them.

  1.  What is your favorite Christmas movie?

I love them all. But, A Christmas Story is definitely my favorite. I remember watching it with my father for the first time and laughing at both the movie and the fact that he was laughing so hard. You’ll shoot your eye out kid, the leg lamp, the brother stuffed into his snow suit, the infamous fight scene, Flicks tongue sticking to the pole, Ralphie muttering the f word, Santa kicking him down the slide, enough said. I love the movie.

Runner ups are Ebenezer Scrooge: A Christmas Carol. Who doesn’t love this movie? Redemption, love, reflection, family and ghosts, it has it all. I can’t not mention Rudolph and Frosty, I love them too.

2. What is your favorite flower?

Wow, I’m having a tough time giving one answer. I have to include two answers for this one as well.  My favorite flower for inside the home are Gerber daisies. They are colorful, cheerful, pretty, and make me happy. For outside the home, I love orange Tiger Lilies. These beautiful flowers bloom the week of my oldest daughter’s birthday every year. For me, the orange tiger lilies symbolize birth and joy. Plus, I have always had a thing for the color orange.

3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic beverage? My mother’s fresh brewed unsweetened Iced Tea with lots of ice. It is simply the most refreshing drink. I think it is better  than any bottled tea on the market.

4. What is your passion?

My passion is without a doubt writing. I will write until the day I die.  It is not only a passion for me, it’s a calling.

5. What is your favorite time of year? I adore fall

6. What is your favorite time of day? I have been a night owl ever since I could remember but as I get older I am beginning to thoroughly enjoy the early evening hours.

7. What is your favorite physical activity? I always enjoyed Yoga but have gotten away from a daily routine. There is something euphoric about balancing the mind, body and spirit.

8. What is your favorite vacation? Anywhere my family is. I love the beach but one day I hope to have a vacation home on a lake.

My nominees are: (Sorry, I had to lis twelve, I couldn’t leave anyone of these great writers out)

  1. Renee DeAngelo
  2. Medeia Sherif
  3. Courtney at Fuzzy Coffee Books
  4. Taffy at Taffy’s Writing
  5. Rebecca at Novel Girl
  6. Laura Marcella at Wavy Lines
  7. Nutschell at The Writing Nut
  8. Cricketmuse
  9. Britney Gulbrandsen
  10. Andrea Mack at That’s Another Story
  11. Laura At Writing Straight
  12. Barbara Davis-Pyles at The Mind’s Elbow

Each blog I have nominated as inspired me at one point or another. Keep writing, you never know who might need your words.

If your blog has been given an award, make sure you post your button award on your blog, answer the eight questions and then nominate ten others. Have a sunny day!

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Filed under blogger awards, meme, Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Interview with Eisley Jacobs

I am super excited to post another author interview. I met Eisley Jacobs on Twitter in one of the writing chat rooms about a year or so ago. She was one of the first ones to welcome me and has always been willing to answer any questions I had (even know she really had no idea who I was). I knew immediately she would be a successful author. (How? you ask. There was something about her online presence that drew people toward her. If she could do that without being published I could only imagine what she would become when her name was really out there for the whole world to see).

Today, Eisley’s books are being sold and I can’t wait to find out how her journey is going.

Hi Eisley, how are you today? I’m awesome! I just drove in from Colorado for a small book tour visit in California. I’m pretty exhausted from driving with four kids, but I’m excited to be here on this adventure!

Let’s start with your name (or pen name) Eisley, can you tell us how you came up with this uber cool name and what made you decide to not use Heather?

Yes, my real name is Heather but coupled with my last name… it’s taken. If my name was Stephen King, I would have to come up with a pen name. It is NEVER a good idea to share your name with anyone, especially someone famous. The Heather that has my name is actually a publishing author. She is not in my genre but when you google her name, she comes up all over the place (along with a PhD who has published a few papers). So when it was time to start the social media road, I knew I needed a name that stood out from the crowd and meant something. Eisley means “strong or firm” and Jacobs means “to hold onto”… so my name means “to firmly hold onto…” my convictions. And that is just what I plan to do when I write. *That is Awesome*

I remember reading on your blog about your book Born to be a Dragon. It sounded really cool. Can you share with us what this story is about?

Born to Be a Dragon is about the epic relationship between two ten year olds… a dragon and a girl. The story encourages kids to “follow their dreams” and never just accept sterotypes.

What inspired you to write this book?

My children were a big inspiration to this book. They love playing make believe and as I watched them one day, Deglan strolled through my brain. I was in a lull with Rings of Time so it was perfect timing.

How are your books selling?

Remarkably well. My totals are still out, but preliminary totals are blowing me away. If the reviews on Amazon are any clue as to how this book is being received, then I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Did I see Born to Be A Dragon was on the top releases right out of the gate?

Yes! In fact, I hit #1 the first day of release in “Hot New Releases” It was a pretty awesome moment.

Do you remember the moment the idea came to you?

I don’t remember the very moment the idea came to me, but I do know that I was watching my kids play when it came.

How did you come up with your character names?

Deglan’s name came from an intense search of my friends children’s names. Declan was the boys name that Deglan came from. Because he was a dragon, I added a G and made it very dragon. *Super Cool*

Does the stories or the characters come to you first?

I’m a pantser writer. Much like watching a movie, the story and characters reveal themselves moment by moment during my first draft. So they really all come together at the same time. In my second draft I fill holes I may have and round our my characters. But for the most part, it’s all a very organic way of writing.

It seems that agents are often requesting middle-grade novels with boy protagonists. Did you try querying this book before you decided to self-publish?

Oh yes, I queried this book about 90 times. Complete with about 70 rejections. I sent the manuscript to two agents (who are friends) and asked them what was wrong. The surprising answer was NOTHING! Dragon books just weren’t selling to the publishers right now. One of the agents told me to sit on it a while and the other said, “if you believe in the book, go Indie.” So I did.

What was the deciding factor that made you decide to self-publish?Having two agents tell me my manuscript was good but it just wasn’t the subject that was selling right now was good enough for me.

Are you happy with your choice?
I am THRILLED with my choice. This has been an amazing journey that I would not exchange for the world!

Can you tell us a little bit about self-publishing?

It’s a hard road. It’s not for the weak willed. You have no one pushing you for a deadline. It’s all you! You have to press on and move forward and enjoy the ride!

Is self publishing expensive?

Amazingly enough this answer is as varied as the author you talk to. Depending on which press you print with, you will have a fee. Create Space was $39. Then there is your cover artist (that could be $50-500). Mine was free because I’ve got mad skilz… Ha ha. I made it with my tablet and pen. Then you have the editor and proofreaders, again varied costs of anywhere from $100-$1000 depending on how large your manuscript is. So it can cost as little or as much as you can afford. However, skimping on any of these costs will show.

I love the cover of your book. Did you work with an artist for the design?

I didn’t actually. I had a first draft of the cover with an island and a palm tree with a dragon tail, foot prints and a hermit crab, but I just didn’t like the concept as much as I liked the full moon silhouette. After searching around for some ideas, I used my tablet and made my own silhouettes and that is a photo of the real moon, edited a little to fit my needs.

You also have several other books in the works. Can you offer their titles and give us a sneak peek what they are about? (I know Rings of Times is one of them)

Rings of Time is indeed ready for a final read through and publish date, but I don’t have one yet. I don’t want to rush this one but it’s almost ready.

Dragons Forever 2 has a working title, but I can’t reveal it yet. It will be released on BLACK FRIDAY 2011.

I also have a YA novel called PIECES OF ME that is nearly ½ done, but has taken a back seat to everything else.

Your blog is phenomenal. You talk about everything from writing to home schooling. Although I don’t home school my children, I have always been impressed by parents that took on this task. Can you share with us what led you to this decision?

We really decided to homeschool out of necessity. The school wanted to hold my very intelligent daughter back because her age didn’t permit her to move forward (born 17 days too late for first grade). And when I went to the kindergarten orientation I was NOT impressed. They were going to teach her the ABCs and her colors… and she was reading chapter books already. It just didn’t work for us. So we started homeschooling and have never looked back. It continues to fit our lifestyle and my children’s needs. They enjoy their tailored learning and the field trips we attend. I don’t know if we will homeschool forever, but right now, it works for us.

Do you read your stories to your children? What do they think?
My oldest reads the YA stories herself but I read the MG stories aloud to everyone. They absolutely LOVE it and will interject their opinions A LOT… and sometimes it’s helps tremendously!

You are also somewhat of a humanitarian. (Yes, she does it all). You have visited other countries. Have you brought your books with you? Did any ideas get inspired while traveling?
I have brought books with me, but mostly to read during my down time. It’s amazing what you “find” when you aren’t stuck in the writing mode. So I bring my ipad and read through my manuscripts to see what I find.

I have a few ideas for YA/MG novels from visiting the beautiful Ethiopia. We will see how they pan out as the years go on. I go back in March to Ethiopia (See the WHAT A LOAD OF CROC? Post) and plan to bring at least two books with me for the teachers at the orphanage. They love reading and will enjoy the Dragons Forever Series.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Believe in yourself. Believe in your writing. And do the work. Nothing is perfect and always accept criticism with grace and dignity. Try hard to just say THANKS and not give excuses. Take EVERY critique and really chew it over. REALLY, you may not find value to it today… but come back to it and REALLY debate with yourself as to if the advice is valid. You will be surprised what a couple weeks can afford your attitude. Your critique partners just want to HELP you they do not want to bring you down. Oh and get several crit partners… VERY important.

Okay, before we end our interview I have a few more quick questions.

I often ask other writers what their favorite word is. Mine is BELIEVE! Can you share your favorite word with us?I don’t know if I have a favorite word! That is a new question… and one that I’m not sure I can answer! I really try hard to mix it up and make sure I don’t repeat the same words. I even throw my manuscript through a script checker to make sure I don’t use the same word 1,999 times. But I do love the word twinkling and trembling. Not that I overuse them 😉

Do you have a writing spot?
I don’t really have a writing spot. The couch with my laptop is where you will most often find me. However, I love going to the “office” to write too. Sometimes I am more productive when I leave my element.

What time is your favorite time to write?
At night after dinner. Usually the kids are all settled down doing other stuff and I am able to really concentrate on my characters instead of the dishes, homeschooling or life.

What are you reading right now?
Right now my books (yes plural) are The Clearing, by Anne Riley (YA), Bridger, by Megan Curd (YA) and The Secret of Spruce Knoll, by Heather McCorkle (YA). I also just put on my list Frindle, by Andrew Clements (MG) and Sept 20th the next Secret Series book comes out, You Have to Stop This by Pseudonymous Bosch (MG).

Do you have a favorite author?
C.S. Lewis was always my favorite author and will continue to be.

Eisley, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I truly hope that your writing career takes off to levels you never imagined.

Is there a thought you wish to end this interview with?
Believe in the impossible and look for it to happen!

Eisley can also be found on Twitter. Follow her @EisleyJacobs
Visit her at http://www.EisleyJacobs.com

Leave a comment and let Eisley know what you thought of her fantastic interview.

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Filed under Author Interview, books, Fiction, platform building, story writing, writer's life, writers, Writing

MY GUEST BLOG POST FOR AGENT BREE OGDEN

Do you think a writer needs to go on a diet? A writing diet that is. Check out my guest post over at This Literary Life. Bree Ogden (a super agent) was cool enough to allow me to write a blog for her site. It is the first time I have written for another blog as a guest and I’m super excited.

Make sure you leave a comment so I know you stopped by.

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Filed under audience, Author Interview, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, critique, critique groups, editing, Fiction, Inspirational, life, rejections, stories, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Getting Rid of My Book’s “Baby Fat”


I’m approaching the end of my YA novel titled The Cult. I have been writing this suspense novel for about two years. The idea came to me in a dream right around the time Nanowrimo was about to start. I was about three chapters into a middle-grade novel (I’m excited to get back to that one) when my sister-in-law presented me with a challenge. “Hey, let’s do Nanowrimo,” she said. She had been contemplating writing a book for some time and Nanowrimo was the push she needed to get started. I accepted her challenge and began writing never realizing at the time it would take me two years to finish the book I never planned on writing. Writing this book was different from the others I have written. It was the first time I chose to just keep writing and not look back. My previous books I would write a chapter, edit a chapter, and then continue. I took more of an organic approach with this one and I’m hopeful it will pay off.

Growing up in an Italian family meant that eating was good. The more you ate the healthier you were. As I got older I realized that what I ate mattered more than how much I ate. It was time to get rid of the “baby fat”. Today I am getting rid of my book’s “baby fat” and replacing it with healthier options. I have to be honest with myself and admit that some of what I wrote was nothing more than junk or fillers. At the time it sounded good but in the end it weighed the book down. The junk made the pace sluggish and hid the story inside.

It’s time to sculpt my book and help it become the best version of itself. I don’t want it to be filled with empty words. I want it to be healthy and full but not stuffed.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on editing your book for publication. How do you know when your story is weighed down?

“Do you have a hard time putting your book on a “diet”?

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Filed under audience, books, character, character building, constructing, creating, editing, emotions, Fiction, Giveaway, Inspirational, life, meme, middle grade fiction, NaNoWriMo, novel, random, rejections, routine, story telling, story writing, Style, Voice, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing, Young Adult

Interview With LK-Gardner-Griffie

I’m back! As promised I have an author interview for you today. LK-Gardner-Griffie is the author of Misfit McCabe and Nowhere Feels Like Home. The third book No Boundries will be released this summer. The books follow the life of 14 year old Katie McCabe.
LK is very talented and her journey to publication is extremely interesting. She inspires me to keep going.

The online reviews of Misfit McCabe are impressive. If you are looking for something to read now that the summer is here, pick up Misfit McCabe and Nowhere Feels Like Home. I am positive you will be happy that you did.

I’d love to hear what you think of this interview so please leave a comment.

Hi LK, How are you today?
LK: I’m actually recovering from pneumonia, but I can breathe, washed my hair, and I did a little revising today, so we’ll call it a win all around.

I’d like to start off by asking you a question about your name. Is LK something you chose as your Pen name? Did you choose this or did an agent or editor recommend it? I always wondered if pen names were suggested or not (you know, sort of how some celebrities are encouraged to change their names).

LK: I think I decided to go with my initials at around age ten, so no agent or editor was involved at that time. I decided I wanted to write books when I was nine, and by ten I started thinking about what name would be on the cover. Every year at the beginning of school, or with every substitute teacher I had, my name, which is Liana, would get mangled and it irritated me that teachers, who should know everything, couldn’t get a simple thing like my name right. So I started thinking about how much more it would get mangled when I became a famous author and how easy I would be to find (I’ve always been a private person). And came to the conclusion that if I used initials, it added a bit of mystique and I could write as either a boy or a girl. And while the sting of being called Linda every year until the teacher learned my name had faded, by the time I had completed my first novel, the idea of using initials stuck with me.

Okay, let’s start with Misfit McCabe. How did you come up with this idea?

LK: Misfit McCabe came to me. Literally, in the form of a dream. I woke up one morning with the dream still playing in my head and the desire to write it as a book was born. I didn’t dream every detail, but most of the key parts of Misfit McCabe were in the dream. You’d better believe I did some fast scribbling to capture as much as I could.

Ooh interesting. The book I am currently completing also came to me in a dream.

Can you tell us about how long it took you to write this book?

LK: Believe it or not, this question is a little difficult for me to answer because Misfit McCabe was written quite awhile ago. But my memory says, I think approximately two months for the first draft. Nowhere Feels Like Home was drafted in four weeks, but it gushed out and I just rode the wave. With Misfit McCabe, I wasn’t sure what I was writing was worth the paper it was on, so I took a writing class to help get some feedback on the work, and I’d finished before the class was over, but revisions took longer—as they always do for me.

What was the querying process like for you? Did you rack up a lot of rejections prior to getting the “acceptance”.

LK: With Misfit McCabe, I had a roller-coaster type of experience. I didn’t rack up a lot of rejections prior to getting the “acceptance”, but I did afterward. Let me preface this by saying publishing was a different animal when I wrote Misfit McCabe and even then my experience was an exceptional one. As I mentioned I took a writing course to help make sure I was on the right track with the technical aspects of the story. During the class, we found out about a local writers conference and I decided to go. My first exposure to agents came at the conference when the agents who took the stage that day gave a talk about what they look for in their submissions. One basically said she had a full client list and wasn’t interested in any new submissions. (And I wondered why she was there.) The other gave a realistic talk about the type of time the agent spends on the various activities and where you, as a new writer, fit into that time scheme. Then after the conference, I noticed the agent who actually said something of value had a circle of people around her asking questions, so I joined the group on the fringes, just so I could soak up the information. I had no intentions of asking any questions, I just wanted to learn as much as I could.

She then turned to me and asked what I wanted to know. I panicked. And thinking fast, I asked what the best way was to find agents who handled juvenile fiction. (This was prior to the internet, and even prior to young adult as a separate category, and agents for juvenile work were sparse.) She said that she had a friend who handled juvenile, and that they were trying to work out a co-op type of arrangement where they would recommend clients to each other, and to send her my first three chapters and she’d see whether she could refer me to her friend.
I was ecstatic and scared. And I probably wrote the lamest query letter of all times… along the lines of “Hi – I met you at the conference and you asked me to send you three chapters and here they are.” I sent my package off the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and that Sunday I received “the call”. She couldn’t stand to be away from the office, so had gone in and my manuscript pages were there and she read them…and LOVED them. By that time I couldn’t feel my feet, but managed to squeak out “does that mean you’re going to refer me to your friend?” To which she responded, “No, I’m want to represent you.” And it was done. (Again, different times and most of publishing was handled by a “handshake” and not a contract.) I had an agent. And after a bona fide happy dance, panic settled in. Holy crap, she wanted the rest of the manuscript and I hadn’t finished it yet. So I came down off my cloud and finished writing the book.

The rejections. Well, it would have been nice if my agent had done something with my manuscript, but I’m afraid it languished around the office waiting to be noticed again. My mistake was not insisting that it be sent to someone who handled juvenile fiction as a part of their work. I was just so happy that an agent loved my work, and to be honest, I was so new to the publishing industry I didn’t know any better. Then there were problems within the agency and the agency dissolved and all of the work was divided up, but my lone little juvenile manuscript didn’t have a home because no one handled juvenile, so it came back to me after a couple years. And Writer’s Market and I went to work. But in those days, simultaneous submissions were taboo, so one submission at a time, via snail mail with average response times of approximately six months. So while I didn’t wrack up a lot of rejections, it happened over years. And life kept getting crazier until I had a job where I traveled constantly and I simply stopped submitting.
Then one day toward the end of 2007, I decided enough was enough, Misfit McCabe had gathered enough dust, and I wanted to put it out to share with my family and friends, so decided to self-publish it. I did another couple of rounds of revisions (I’m addicted to revisions and sometimes don’t know when to stop), had a cover made, and put it out. I’ll share a little more about what happened with it, when I answer some of the questions below.

Can you tell us about Katie (the main character)?
When I first read the back cover of Misfit McCabe I thought I bet I could relate to this girl (growing up I was sort of a rebel but never really wanted to be. I guess you could say I was an accidental rebel).
LK: Katie. She and I have been together for so long it’s like she’s a part of me. She’s smart, but doesn’t think before she acts most of the time. She definitely has attitude, and can be contrary to work with. But she has an innocence that comes of having been well-protected growing up. She’s a staunch friend, has a quick temper, and is very emotional. In short, she’s a teenager. And in many ways, while she rebels, she doesn’t really want to—she craves acceptance, but has difficulty in believing that her new family does care for her and wants her to be a part of the family.

In the first book it is told that Katie lost her mother and her father was seriously ill. How did you tap into the emotions of that for this character?

LK: I’ve always been an empathetic writer. Well, I guess first I’m an empathetic reader. I’ve always been able to put myself in the place of the characters in a book and feel what they are feeling. Which is why when I read, I’m so often a mess afterward, all it takes is a sad moment and I’m bawling my eyes out. So I use that same ability when I write. I experience my characters’ pain. It comes naturally for me to do this, so it is difficult for me to explain how. I believe in them, they are real to me, and just as when you share the pain and suffering of a friend, I share theirs. My job is to keep enough of my mind above the feeling to capture it. But my heart has broken many times with Katie. I go through it first draft, and with every single revision.

I know a lot of what we do as writers is imagine what it would be like to be in a situation. Did you have to imagine the pain she felt or did you have life experiences that told you first hand?

LK: Yes and no. I had both parents in my life growing up, so for the emotions surrounding the absence of her mother, I have to imagine… or the way I think of it, I allow Katie to tell me how she feels. At the time I originally wrote Misfit McCabe, my own father was still alive and at that point well, but had been very ill with cancer during my teens, when I was a little younger than Katie’s fourteen. So I understand her fears about her father’s illness, but because her life changes so drastically, those fears are somewhat sublimated because of all of the new experiences she’s having. When she loses her father, I had not yet lost mine, so you can say that I had to imagine the pain, but I would disagree. Throughout my life I have experienced loss of loved ones, and with the illness my father had in my teens, I went through the same emotions as if I had lost him because he was not expected to live. As writers we can draw on any life experience and extrapolate it to what we need to connect with our character. The loss of a pet is a loss, and can be used to delve into that emotion. I think I have even called on emotions experienced from reading a book to help me in my writing before.

Early in my writing career, I read that a writer should interview their main character. Was their a process that you followed when writing about Katie?

LK: I was so green when I started writing Katie, I wouldn’t have known what you meant by a character interview. But since that time I have done character interviews with her, and with some of my other characters. Katie talks to me…when she’s not in a snit about something, so most of the time I don’t need to interview her. I use the question and answer times for when she’s clamming up about something, which usually means it’s something that has more layers and she’s not comfortable with exploring, which means we have to. For the third book in the series (no release date yet), No Boundaries, I had to do a character interview with one of my characters who kept feeding me fantastic lines, but refused to tell me her name or let me see what she looked like. I had her voice, but nothing else. The root of the problem? She didn’t like her name and she didn’t want to be stereotyped. No worries on that score—she is decidedly an individual. I have another character for another book (Middle Grade) for which there was no need to interview her. She marched up told me her name and told me I was going to write her story.

It is always interesting to me to learn about how other writers connect with their characters. I have journals filled with my character interviews.

The follow up to Misfit McCabe is Nowhere Feels Like Home. What can readers expect in the second book?

LK: Nowhere Feels Like Home was an interesting one for me because, without giving too much away, Katie winds up with a broken ankle at the end of Misfit McCabe and Nowhere Feels Like Home picks up hours after the conclusion of Misfit McCabe, so I have a very active, always looking for something to get into, teenager laid up in bed for the duration of the book. Also, originally the book was not supposed to be a sequel, but a companion book to Misfit McCabe. As I mentioned, the first book was written years ago, but Nowhere Feels Like Home, was written in 2009. And all those years ago I meant Misfit McCabe to be a stand-alone. But after finishing it realized there was another story I wanted to tell, that of Katie’s cousin Sarah. So Nowhere Feels Like Home became a blended book, where I fulfilled the needs of my reader’s by continuing Katie’s story, but also had a chance to tell Sarah’s story as Sarah relates her past to Katie. It gives Katie more of a feeling of her roots, and there is so much from the past that is influencing Katie’s present that she knows nothing about. I like to think of Misfit McCabe as being a story about a girl and her experiences and is very Katie-centric. Nowhere Feels Like Home gives more of a flavor of the McCabe family. The third book, No Boundaries, focuses more on school life.

I’d like to congratulate you on the awards these books have received. Misfit McCabe placed runner up in the Montreal’s Pearson Prize Teen Choice Award and then Nowhere Feels like Home received the The Pearson Prize Teen Choice Award the following year.

How did it feel to be told your book won an award? Was it a surreal moment?

LK: Thanks!! As I mentioned in a previous question, I published Misfit McCabe with the idea of giving copies to family and some friends. But then it started selling to strangers, and I received an email from Michael Sweet, a teacher in Montreal who runs the Learning for a Cause organization, requesting Misfit McCabe’s participation in The Pearson Prize Teen Choice Awards. To say I was surprised was an understatement. I checked into the contest and I really liked the premise of it and even though my book is geared toward the younger side of young adult, and these were high school students, felt that it was an honor to be asked to participate, so I sent in the book expecting to be a participant only. So it was very much a surprise to receive the letter advising me Misfit McCabe had achieved runner up, in a contest where 150 books were read by over 100 students. Not bad for a book which was really geared more toward middle school/junior high age. Then when I completed Nowhere Feels Like Home, the submissions were being accepted for The Pearson Prize Teen Choice Award for 2010, so I sent it in, again not expecting to win. So yes, surreal covers it nicely. It provides me immense satisfaction that students voted on the stories and two years in a row were deemed favorites. They are who I write for, so it really does mean a lot to me.

Everything about becoming published intrigues me especially the book covers. Did you have any input into what your book cover would look like? I have to tell you, I thought Katie looked like a younger version of you. I wondered if this was purely coincidental.

LK: On the covers, the current Misfit McCabe cover is the second cover it has borne. The first one was more comic like in appearance because I really didn’t want to show a person on the cover. I like for the reader to use their imagination and come up with what the character looks like to them. But I had several comments about the cover being too young for the book. People either seemed to love it or hate it. It was polarizing. And since it was something I put out myself, I had complete control over what was on the book, so I decided to change it. In the traditional scenario, I would as a debut author, have had little to no say at all about the design of the cover. Being the publisher, I got to change it, so I started looking for suitable pictures. When I ran across the pictures, which were listed with a creative commons license, it was Katie to me. I recognized her instantly. I knew she had to be my cover. And yes, that she does look like a younger version of me is completely coincidental. I didn’t look like that at her age. The new cover has gone over much better and is more universally liked. What’s interesting is that at a book festival I attended when I was trying to decide on which cover to go with, I had a few books made up with different covers to ask readers which they liked the best. I had both bookmarks with the old cover and ones with potential new covers. Younger kids and boys picked up the old cover and the target age girls picked up the new cover. I have quite a few boys who really enjoyed Misfit McCabe, so in a way I was a little sad to change a cover that appealed to them. I don’t know how many boys will feel comfortable reading the book with the new cover. At least in public.

Can you tell us what you find to be the biggest challenge when it comes to writing?

LK: Sustained belief in myself and my abilities. Most days, I’m pretty good about knowing that I’m a good writer, and that my stories hang together well, but I have, as I think we all do, some devastating moments where believing that what I’m working on matters to anyone else, or that I have the ability to string a sentence together is a long stretch. I don’t write edgy, so it won’t fit in today’s market, or my story isn’t about big issues, but the small ones kids face daily. And usually that’s where I can get myself turned back around. My work does connect with kids and it connects with adults. And I have some concepts for books which scare the tar out of me… I’m not sure that I have the writing chops to take them on, but I know I will and I’ll futz with them until I get them right. And then the world can judge whether I accomplished my goal or not. I’ll continue to write because I have to. The stories keep coming and I need to be able to write faster so I can get them all down.

Twitter is a great way to connect with other writers and potential readers (it’s where I met you) can you tell my readers where they may find you (eg. blog, twitter facebook etc).
Website: http://www.griffieworld.com
Blog: http://blog.griffieworld.com
Book site: http://www.misfitmccabe.com
Twitter: @lkgg (http://www.twitter.com/lkgg)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLKGardnerGriffie
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MisfitMcCabe
AuthorsDen: http://www.authorsden.com/lkgardnergriffie
I also have LinkedIn & Myspace, but am so rarely there I won’t bother to put the links.

Do you have more planned for Katie?

LK: No Boundaries the third book in the series will be released some time this summer. I’m going through the final revision stage (again and again) and have the cover already done. I am currently working on the fourth book in the series, which is untitled as yet. And have a fifth book planned. For me, that will be the end of the series.

Okay, I have a few personal questions to ask if that’s okay.
1. Do you have a writing spot?

LK: I would LOVE to have a writing spot. At the moment, I tend to do most of my writing in bed because I have three long-haired miniature dachshunds who bang on the door, whine, or will scratch my leg if I write in another room. I have a lap table and a bed stand that I use for my laptop and they lay next to me or on my lap as I write. When we move, I plan to have a specific writing room and will use good ear plugs, so I’m not distracted by pups or my husband. Actually, I did use a writing room when working on the revisions for Misfit McCabe and wound up using a pouch to put our then youngest pup in and had to reach around her to get to the keyboard. She’d go promptly to sleep, but couldn’t stand to be on the floor at my feet.

2. When an idea comes to mind what do you do with it?

LK: Usually when an idea hits me, it’s one of those brain-stopping moments so the first thing I do is try to get beyond the “Whoa!!” stage. Then I try to decelerate the brain because it goes into overdrive. And when I can finally get it settled down and partially coherent, I notate the idea. Ideas for me have to simmer for awhile. Sometimes they start like Misfit McCabe with a dream and are nearly intact, but other times it is the whisper of an idea and I have to let it percolate and mature. Some don’t mature, and others do.

3. Where is the most unusual place you scribbled down something you needed to remember? (mine was on the back of a book of matches).

LK: I’ve used napkins, I think, but they are not that unusual. A drink coaster once or twice, but most of the time I note things in my mind and then put it in the computer when I have a chance. If the idea sticks around, then it’s worth exploring. If it disappears before I can get it notated, then it probably wasn’t the right idea for me.

4. How valuable do you think critique groups are? Can you tell us if you have one?

LK: I think critiques definitely add value to the process. Without gaining feedback on the work at hand, you lose a perspective or multiple perspectives which could aid you in making your work better. Working with a group can be wonderful, and it can also be challenging. A group has members that are at varying levels, and if you have the most experience, you end up being the teacher and don’t grow as much as you could should you be in a group where your abilities are on par with or even below the other members. That’s not to say you can’t gain in both instances, but usually in the first, you’re giving more than you’re taking away. Also, there is the issue of time, whether the group is online or in person, etc. One of the most invaluable experiences I’ve had as a writer was the writing class I took when writing Misfit McCabe. It was run very much like a critique group and each person turned in two pages each class and they were read aloud by the designated reader (who wasn’t a writer). In this way, the same voice read all of the pieces, you were forced to listen for the nuances, and where the reader stumbled (time to rewrite), then the class would comment and the teacher would sum up. Hearing the work read aloud is invaluable—especially by someone who has not read it before. I think it is important to find a group that has the same values you are looking for as well. I have heard horror stories about some groups where the members are vicious about the writing. There isn’t any need for that.
I currently do not have an in person critique group, but belong to one online, although I have not been active with the group of late because of time constraints. I rely heavily on people I trust to read and critique my work, who will give me honest feedback and tell me where the writing needs to be tweaked, what works, and what doesn’t.

5. What is the best thing about writing for you?

LK: The moments. There is so much I love about writing. The creation, the getting to know the characters, figuring out the plot, but the best is the moments. The moments during the creation phase when the story starts moving in a direction you hadn’t thought of, and wouldn’t have taken it. The moments during the revision & editing phases where tightening a sentence or adding two words create an additional layer of meaning for the reader. And finally, the moments when the reader connects to the words on the page (and hopefully tells you) and knows what your character is feeling because they have felt the same.

6. Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? I know some writers need their chocolate before they sit down or their cup of coffee or glass of wine, how about you?

LK: I used to be a lot more persnickety about my writing habits than I am now. The only thing that I think I can say is mandatory, outside of my characters talking to me, is something to drink by my side, usually hot tea which cools and goes stone cold as I’m in the middle of working through a scene. But I drink it anyway.

Lk, I’d like to sincerely thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. You are extremely talented and an inspiration for me.

LK: You are so kind. Thank you very much for allowing me to participate in this interview.

Is there a piece of advice you’d like to give before you leave?

LK: Believe in yourself and keep writing. Even if what you write is crap, let it pour out on to the page, because bad writing can be fixed, but no writing cannot. And don’t be afraid to stretch yourself. Only by stretching ourselves can we find out what we are capable of and it strengthens our abilities.

LK Gardner-Griffie – Author of Misfit McCabe & Nowhere Feels Like Home
2 Time Pearson Prize Teen Choice Award Winner
Preview Misfit McCabe / Preview Nowhere Feels Like Home

Visit me at Griffie World
Where in the World is Misfit McCabe?
Follow me on Twitter: @lkgg

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