Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Mau and The Book of Dares for Lost Friends


Dear Two-legged One,

You're welcome. I have successfully inspired you to create a cat who is a cat, and not a fluffy fashion accessory. Because of my insights, Mau will take her place among literature's other masterful cats, such as The Cheshire Cat, Crookshanks, and Mr. Mistoffelees.

Mau's book will be in stores on July 14. Then everyone can admire her wisdom and her grace. There are some human characters in the book too, for those who like reading about "middle-school cruelty, the heartache of abandonment, and the supple bonds of friendship."  (from Publishers Weekly) Of course, my favorite parts were when Mau was hunting for rats near the Obelisk in Central Park.

I believe that you will be giving a reading at 7 pm on July 16th at  Community Bookstore in Brooklyn. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend. But I know that there is a cat in residence there, so all should go well.

I have arranged for 5 copies of Mau's book to be given away from Goodreads. LINK to the GOODREADS Giveaway  If you haven't joined that group of readers, you should. It's free and fun.

And so, dear Two-legged One, my work here is done. 

Sincerely, 

BLACKBERRY

The Cat


Monday, June 8, 2015

Jabberbox

This month, the middle-grade authors at Smack Dab in the Middle are blogging about what we did during the summer when we were kids.

Click this link to read my blog about Jabberbox.

And while you're there, check out the other authors.

This photograph is of the woods near the house where I grew up in Wisconsin.

Not too far from where Jabberbox was first discovered.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

That yucky voice again?????

The other day I came across a picture that my daughter drew ten years ago. She was just beginning to fall in love with the theater. I was so enchanted with her depiction of herself taking over the stage.


Until I looked closer. In the middle of the cheering crowd, there was one critic, shall we say, who chose to point a finger at the performer.


My heart sank. Here was proof that, despite how many opportunities and awards Sofia had received, despite how happy she was to be performing, she still heard a yucky voice. In fact, she heard it so clearly that she made it part of her picture.

In my first novel, NATURE GIRL, the main character has a continuing struggle with her yucky voice. As Megan hikes the Appalachian Trail, her confidence grows. The voice gradually fades, until Megan realizes with delight that the voice is gone.

I have to confess that that isn't really accurate. Those who have yucky voices, and I am one of them, know that permanently silencing that voice is very very difficult. The past few months, I've been struggling with an impossible novel. My yucky voice has been positively gleeful to have so many opportunities to make me feel bad. But I haven't let it completely take over my life.  I haven't quit. Instead I keep reminding myself of the positive comments I've received. It feels a little vain to reread kind emails and notes. That goes against my Midwestern upbringing. But why should we dwell on the negative? Why let that one voice be louder than the positive?

And so, in that spirit, I made a few alterations to my daughter's drawing. I decided to include what I know the rest of the audience was thinking. I hope she understands.





Friday, May 8, 2015

Asking Permission

Happy May!

This month the middle grade authors at Smack Dab in the Middle are posting about moms and asking permission.

Stop by the Smack Dab in the Middle site to see my latest post.

Did I have the right to tell about this woman's years with the Seneca tribe?

Mary Jemison


Please make a comment while you're there -- I'd love to know what you think too!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Special School Visit

Whenever I visit a school, I get so inspired. I love the questions I get asked. I love hearing about what the students are writing. I love how much they love reading.

The other day, I had a special treat. I have a friend who works at a school. After she noticed that some students were reading my book, The Girl Behind The Glass, she said, "Jane's my friend!" The teacher eagerly invited me to visit with the class.

I was happy to talk to a group of kids who had already read my book---especially that one, which has so many secrets. I didn't have to worry about spoiling anything for anyone. We could discuss the mystery of the narrator, and what had happened in that closet. I was especially glad to hear how pleased they were with the book's ending. My editor Shana Corey and I had worked hard to find just the right image for the end.

As I said good-bye to the students, three girls showed me this amazing poster that they had made. It's a cross section of that house on Hemlock Road. The girls included so many wonderful details. I was so impressed by how much thought they had put into their drawing.


By Erin, Esmee, and Eve

Thank you, Erin, Esmee, and Eve, for making this drawing. Thanks to everyone in the class for sharing your thoughts and your enthusiasm. 

It's such a joy to be able to share my books with you---and all my readers.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Growing a character -- with sweat and tears

Stop by the Smack Dab in the Middle Blog to read my latest post -- and all the other wonderful middle-grade authors who are blogging about growing a character this month.

Sweat and Tears

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Conversation with author Holly Schindler

Holly Schindler is the author of four traditionally published books. Her work has received starred reviews in Booklist and Publishers' Weekly, and has been featured on Booklist's Best First Novels for Youth and School Library Journal's What's Hot in YA. Fifth Avenue Fidos, her first independently published book, is out tomorrow. I invited her to answer some questions about it.

But first -- a brief synopsis of this New Adult Rom-Com with "Bite."

Mable Barker, a hilarious good-natured sweetheart who is always the pal but never the girlfriend, endures nine horrendous months of unrequited love while bouncing between lackluster NYC jobs. When she meets Innis, an ill-tempered Upper East Side Pekingese, Mabel assumes her dog-walking days are numbered and she'll have to head back home with her tail tucked between her legs. Innis belongs to a veterinarian, Jason Mead, whose awkward ways around women have him dreaming about breeding Westminster champions instead of finding love for himself. When Mable and Jason meet, romance is officially unleashed. Mable could very well have what it takes to be a professional handler. As Jason and Mable get closer to putting a new twist on the term "dog lovers," outside forces threaten to come between them. Will they let their burgeoning love roll over and play dead? Or will they rally to make sure Innis emerges as the leader of the pack?

Brimming with humor and endearing characters, Fifth Avenue Fidos offers a sweet romance and modern-day fairy tale in which dogs, not dragons, rule the land...a story about the loves that help us realize our dreams.  To order the book, click here.


JK: Welcome, Holly! On your website, you say that you like to write for different age groups. Do you start with the idea and then figure out which age is most appropriate? Do you ever switch an idea to a different age group?

HS: Actually the generation of the idea usually coincides with what age group it's most appropriate for. My main character is, of course, the strongest factor in determining the age group.  But that doesn't mean my original idea always sees the light of day. Both of the books I released in 2014 were originally drafted in other age categories. Initially, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky (my MG about a young folk artist) was a picture book. I thought illustrations depicting the wild sculptures Auggie makes from found items would be wonderful! But editors thought the concept of folk art was too advanced for picture book readers, so I turned it into an MG novel. Feral began as an MG mystery. The descriptions got so dark that I knew I needed to bump it into YA. But that meant I had to ditch my original main character. She was SO thirteen. (I still love that character, though. I keep brainstorming ideas for books to put her in.)

JK: New Adult is a comparatively new category. How do you define it?

HS: I think of New Adult as the old "Friends" TV show. Young people trying to figure their way out in the adult world.

JK: What have you enjoyed most about writing for this age group?

HS: Actually I drafted this book before New Adult was a category. When it was first submitted, editors said that the book was well done. One said, "This needs to be published." But they didn't know what to do with it. It wasn't YA, it wasn't adult. Even after New Adult became a well-read age category, Fifth Avenue Fidos was continuing to break the mold. This is a sweet comedy--not overtly sexy, no graphic erotica, not about college life. Editors were hanging onto it, trying to find a place for it, and were unsuccessful.

But that's what makes Fidos perfect for the indie platform. There are books that just don't fit the traditional publishing agenda. Certain works are better suited for the independent world. Fifth Avenue Fidos is one of those books.

JK: "A Rom Com -- with bite" is such a clever description! I love using animals as characters too. Is there a difference between creating a human and an animal character?

HS: I've had animals my entire life––only spent three of my thirty-eight years without one. I have a Peke myself named Jake. He was the original inspiration for Fidos. Innis is really based on him. I drafted the book shortly after Jake came into my life eleven years ago! This is obviously a book I've long wanted to get into the world.

JK: I'm so impressed that you have published this as an indie. Do you have any advice for those who want to go this route?

HS:There are certainly benefits and drawbacks to both the traditional and independent platforms. I've just gotten my toes wet in the indie world myself, and feel as though I'm only beginning to explore what's possible. One of the earliest lessons I learned is that the independent author community is incredible. Welcoming and forthcoming about what they've tried, what their process was, what worked, what didn't. They're also quick to offer technical guidance. I'd suggest finding an online forum--through Facebook, etc.-- and jumping into the conversation.

As far as the technical aspects are concerned, I used Scrivener, which allowed me to format both .mobi and .epub files. I'm pretty in love with Scrivener--can't wait to draft my first book from start to end on it. I also recommend Ed Ditto's book on using Scrivener to format your e-book. How to Format Your Novel ... In One Afternoon

Most of all, if you're curious about the indie world, just dive in! Have fun--that's why we all came to writing in the first place, right? Because it brought us incredible joy.

JK: What's next?

HS: I'm currently writing Play It Again, the NA sequel to my YA romance, Playing Hurt. I'm delighted that I get a chance to spend more time with Chelsea and Clint! The official release date will be announced on my newsletter. To get the announcement,sign up here.


JK: Thanks, Holly! I can't wait to read these books!