I love meeting and chatting with all authors, no matter their choice of publishing path, because I never tire of hearing about every author's personal experience. None are ever the same. And today, I'm thrilled to be joined by self-published D.L. Jordan, who has some great insight into his journey.
1. In a nutshell, who are you and what do you write?
My name is Dominique Langston Jordan and I write under the name of D. L. Jordan. I write in a lot of genres, but I mostly write Fantasy. Throughout my life, people have taken notice that my middle name is Langston and that I’m named after Langston Hughes. I’ve grown up reading his writings, especially his poems, and he’s one of my favorite African American writers of all time. My favorite poem of his is, “I, Too”. It’s such a powerful poem about equality and what it means to be an American.
2. When did you start writing? What set you off on this writing path?
I first started writing when I was just seven-years-old when my parents gave me a journal as a gift. I had always loved to read books, so the sight of one that was completely filled with empty pages confused me. I was so perplexed about what to do with this small, empty book in my hands that I didn’t know what to do. That’s when they told me that I should just write down everything I saw and everything that happened. So, that’s just what I did. I wrote down everything that happened around me in my neighborhood — kids playing in the street, our neighbor’s dog running and barking after every car that passed by, and even the smell of the freshly cut grass under the marvelous blue sky. Everything around me was a source of inspiration.
But eventually, like most kids who get something new, I eventually lost interest in writing and didn’t really regain that interest until I was 14.
At the age of 14, I was in high school and my English class was given an assignment to write a story about a boy who finds a pebble. That evening, as I pondered on what to write about, my mind instantly became flooded with ideas about the boy and the pebble. I began thinking, “Could it be a magical pebble? What if someone had lost it and was desperately trying to retrieve it? Maybe it leads to a wondrous underwater metropolis completely unseen by humans?” I eventually finished my assignment, going along with the latter idea and turning it in to my teacher the next day. But I couldn’t get the idea of the boy and this unrevealed metropolis out of my head. I then began to scribble ideas about the boy’s background and certain things he liked to do. I would also write about the history of the civilization he would visit. Within a few months, these ideas became my first completed manuscript. I was so proud of myself and I wanted others to share in my joy. That was the defining moment for me. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer.
3. How many books had you written before deciding to publish? When did you feel the time had come to get your writing out there, to actually have books available for your readers?
Before I knew I wanted to self-publish, I had written only one book. It was my first book in The Erlonan Tales series called The Erlonan Tales: The Genesis of Destiny. It was back in 2014 and, at that time, it was called The Erlonan Tales: The Destined Child. During that time, it had been with a small publisher called Silver Tongue Press. When the publisher was bought out by an even bigger publisher, the authors signed to the company were given the option to transfer over to the larger company or be dropped from the roster to pursue other publishing outlets. I had read a lot about self-publishing and wanted to pursue it for a while after I was dissatisfied with the ethics and processes of those who were running Silver Tongue Press. I had researched the company that had bought out Silver Tongue Press and could see that they were much like the company they had acquired. After that I had decided, I was going to do everything concerning my works on my own. Ever since that moment, I knew that I had made the right decision.
4. So why self-publishing and not traditional?
After that, I continued to work on my writing and create more stories in The Erlonan Tales series along with other different works in different genres. I also tried to go the traditional route and attempt to find an agent for my book. I researched on how to write the perfect query letter, how to approach agents, what agents were appropriate for the genre I was writing, what to say, what not to say, what time of year is best to send a query, and even how to pitch a query that will catch an agent’s eye. There’s so much information out there written by so many people on how authors can break into traditional publishing. I think I pretty much absorbed all of it. Like so many other writers out there, I wanted desperately for an agent to see the value in my work.
I emailed and pitched my work to so many agents that I even have a folder in my emails of where I store both the email that was sent and even the rejections. I continued to pitch my story to no avail, so I continued to work on improving my writing. I also became dismayed because of the long, waiting process to hear back from the agents themselves. It became frustrating waiting six weeks to six months just to receive a form letter saying that, “Though your manuscript had promise, it wasn’t something we’re currently interested in.”
I wanted to self-publish, not out of bitterness or frustration, but because I had all these works I’d been writing since I was 14 and I didn’t want them to rot in the crevices of my hard drive. After so much rejection, that is almost what happened. I pictured I would let them sit in a closet or pass them down to future generations with the story of, “…at least I tried.” This may seem dramatic, and rightfully so. I was always told I had a flair for the dramatic growing up. However, I’ve never been one to give up without a fight. Science has proven that the key to survival is adaptation to environment. So, I adapted. I decided to take all the power into my own hands.
I like self-publishing because it allows the author to assert his/her own control over the content they publish. It enables them to reach out to audiences who possess a hunger for their content without the approval or permission of the traditional literary gatekeepers.
Self-published authors, or indie (independent) authors as we sometimes call ourselves, even have the power to develop our own imprints and create, market, and distribute our works under that publishing company. We can publish what we want, when we want, however we want. This is what I’ve done with my company DLJordan Books, which I founded in December of 2017.
The internet has made all this possible. Everything necessary to the publishing process such as editors, illustrators, cover artists, synopsis writers, sites to help you publish your website, and even reviewers can be found on the internet. Of course, none of these necessary processes are free, but they are both affordable and easily accessible. Social media is also a huge help when marketing books.
5. How has the experience been for you so far? What have you found easy, and what not so easy?
So far, the self-publishing process has been a lot of fun. Although, sometimes, it’s not easy. Hiring freelance editors, cover artists, etc. is not only effective and easy – it’s also not cheap. Paying for their services does add up. That’s why it’s always a great idea to find someone who can perform the services you need at an affordable price. Also, it’s hard to find people who are interested in your work once it’s out there. Social media does help, but it’s oftentimes not enough. That would be one of the greatest challenges I’ve faced.
6. For anyone thinking of self-publishing, can you give a breakdown or bullet point list of things to do? Perhaps even an idea of when and how to action each item?
For anyone thinking of publishing, there’s not a definitive outline or process that you can follow. Every author has their own experiences of what they’ve done to self-publish. So far, for me, I would say the most effective thing has been to find different services on Fiverr and sell your work on Amazon. I’ve used Amazon for years and their KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) program has been very helpful in helping authors broadcast their work to the world. Having a website or blog helps a lot, as well as having a newsletter.
7. What's the hardest or most important lesson you've learned so far?
The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is to never give up and to never be afraid to re-invent yourself. After querying agents and not being accepted into the world of traditional publishing, I almost let years of disappointment stop me from pursuing my dream. The key is to not give into any feeling that stops you from being the best person you can be.
8. What has and hasn't worked for you?
The one thing that has worked for me is knowing what stories I should write about based on the ideas that I have written down on paper. What hasn’t worked for me is letting myself procrastinate with my writing. I try to be more disciplined with getting my writing on paper. Whether it’s a page a day or a page a week, I try to dedicate myself to writing as much as I can.
9. Give one main piece of advice for those about to embark on the self-publishing journey?
Self-publishing is the new frontier of the publishing industry. More people who never had a chance to show their writing to the world are now getting the opportunity to display their talents. The titles that they’re releasing are even competing with those that have been traditionally published. Those self-published titles are even outselling traditional titles on numerous bestseller’s lists. My advice to anyone who wishes to embark on the journey of self-publishing would be to never give up. There’s someone out there who is waiting to become your number one fan. Keep writing!
You can find out more about Dominique Langston Jordan (D. L. Jordan) at his website at www.DLJordanBooks.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @DLJordan90.
With her second book released later this year, I'm delighted to welcome my friend and fab author Jodi Gallegos to the blog today. She has some great insight on publishing with a small press as well as awesome advice for new writers. Enjoy!
1. Who are you and what do you write?
My name (pen and real) is Jodi Gallegos. I write contemporary fiction, historical fiction and light fantasy for the young adult and new adult/adult markets. I’m currently published as an adult/new adult romance author.
2. When did this all start for you? (your writing that is, not the interview!)
I’ve been a story-teller for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had an endless stream of story lines, dialogues and made-up scenarios running through my head.
In the third grade I was fired from my first writing job: play write. The group project was to prepare a play for the class. While the other girls fought over who would be cast as Cinderella and the wicked stepsisters, I set about writing the play. Sixteen pages in, and with character introductions barely done, I was relived of my duties.
In the tenth grade I made the bold decision to declare that, while I didn’t know the exact details, I wanted to work in literature when I grew up. My English teacher killed that dream with the words “you’ll never earn a living in literature.”
I spent the rest of my teenage years writing angsty poems, character sketches, situational scenes, and love letters between imaginary people. It never crossed my mind to write a book until I was an adult. (Note to adults: do NOT trash the dreams of children, no matter how unreasonable they seem to you!
Note to children: If an adult tries to kill your dreams, let me know. I'll have words with them!)
3. How long had you been writing, how many books had you written before deciding to become a published author? Can you tell us a little about your journey?
Sure, as I mentioned, I’ve always written “things”, indefinable bits of fiction on scrap paper and napkins, which I’d inevitably cast into forgotten drawers or the trash.
I was in my thirties before I first entertained the thought of writing a book. I experimented with picture and chapter books before finding my voice in young adult and adult genres. My natural tendency is to tackle every project as if it’s something to be conquered, and I did the same with writing. I studied the business as well as the art of writing and took every opportunity to learn more. I started—and discarded—a handful of picture books, chapter books, short stories, and novels before I completed my first novel.
My first completed novel was a four-year endeavor. I’m still revising and perfecting it.
I wrote my second novel during NaNoWriMo. After revisions I was fortunate to be selected as an alternate for a writing contest and received help editing it. That novel became my debut, A Shine That Defies the Dark.
My journey to publication was a mix of hard work, determination, and the connections I’d made with people online and in the publishing world. It took over fifteen years, but all the pieces finally snapped into place.
4. You're published with a small press - can you tell us about your experience so far?
I love the opportunity that I’ve had with my publisher. It’s a small press, but well-established. I’d known about them for quite a while, had read several of their books and found their covers to be amazing.
My debut novel was initially rejected by them (a very kind rejection, with a reasoning that I completely understood). When CTP launched a new imprint for romance I was approached with an offer to re-submit. A Shine That Defies the Dark became the third novel published by Changing Tides Publishing.
The benefit of working with a small press is that I feel like I’m known by my publisher rather than being an anonymous cog in the wheel. There is a camaraderie between the publishers, editors and authors which has helped me navigate the reality of being a published author. As a smaller group we share information, tricks and tips about marketing and the business of being authors. I find that kind of interaction and support to be invaluable as I’m learning to navigate this new world.
5. You also work for a small press. Can you tell us, with your experience on both sides as an editor and author, what the small press experience is like?
First, I should admit that my original intentions in going to work for a small press were entirely selfish. As an author I felt that the querying process was a beast I didn’t completely understand. I volunteered to read submissions to better understand what makes a query effective, and thereby improve my own querying skills.
When I joined Lakewater Press I was given so much more. I learned what happens on the publishing side, the side most authors don’t get a direct glimpse of. Everything I’ve learned about editing, marketing, and publishing has given me a greater appreciation for the business. As I mentioned before, I have a “conquer it” mentality, so I’m constantly striving to better understand and to learn more. The opportunities I’ve been given at Lakewater Press are amazing, I’ve been allowed to stretch my wings and take on new projects. I work with a team of people who are always willing to share their thoughts and guide me as I learn how—and why—things are done as they are. Each thing I’ve learned from the publisher’s side has only enriched my experience as an author.
As an author the things I want other authors to know about publishers are:
6. For anyone unsure about publishing with a small press, what would you say to them?
I absolutely encourage writers to consider submitting to a small press. For me, having a more personal relationship is a benefit. I see it as an author and as a team member for a small press. I think the connection is vitally important. I love to feel as though I’m on a team and that each of us has the same goal: to make each book/author a success.
That said, there are predatory presses/agents and it’s important to do your research before submitting to them. Before you submit to a small press check their website, their submission policy, look at their books and the quality of their covers. Read some of their books, follow their authors on social media, you can even contact small press authors to ask if they recommend their publisher.
I researched both the publisher I submitted to and the one I work for before becoming involved with either. But keep in mind, just because a publisher is new, it doesn’t mean they're not reputable. I joined Lakewater Press just before their first birthday and went in fully confident because of the research I’d done on everyone involved.
7. For new writers, what advice might you have for them that you've learned along the way? What are the main things writers should be doing with their work and careers, in your opinion?
First, I’d say that it is never too early to work on your social media platform. Don’t wait until you have a book deal to establish your online presence. Marketing begins with who you are as a person, not just an author. Take the time to make connections with people and establish relationships with others. I see too many authors who use social media solely as a means of marketing themselves and their books, which is a one-way street to self-promotion. Engage in conversations, ask questions, share the good news of others, ask your followers about their own projects, promote others more than you promote yourself!
Second, don’t underestimate how much effort you need to put towards marketing yourself and your books (that’s right, plural, always keep your eye on the big picture!). Marketing can be an exhausting task, but you’re as responsible for spreading the word as your publisher. The dream is yours though, so I’d argue that you’re more responsible for putting in the work.
Third, be professional. As you interact on social media and submit to agents and publishers you’ll be leaving your footprint in the industry. Sloppy queries, angry responses to rejections, and social media trashing of agents/publishers who reject you won’t get you anywhere.
8. What does the future have in store for you?
Well, a New York Times best-selling world-wide phenomenon is always the goal, right?
My more short-term plans include the release of the sequel to A Shine That Defies the Dark. The Light at Finnigan’s End (Rum Runners, Book 2) comes out November 5, 2018, with Changing Tides Publishing.
I’m hoping to complete final revisions on my first book, The High Crown Chronicles, by the end of the year. I’ve also begun research and plotting for Book 3 in the Rum Runners series and a new romance set in Alaska.
I’m also always on the lookout for the next query to Lakewater Press that will spark my passion.
Jodi is a YA and NA/Adult author, black belt, and registered nurse. She lives with her husband, three sons and an evolving herd of undisciplined animals in Colorado. She has a well-earned fear of bears, but tolerates the Teddy and Gummy variety. She has been obsessed with books, both reading and writing them, for most of her life and prefers the written word to having actual conversations. The most current projected completion date of her To Be Read book collection is May 17, 2176.
Find out more about Jodi here!
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JodiLGallegos/
It is with great delight that I can join in with the book release day blitz for my lovely friend and editing partner, Rebecca Carpenter! BUTTERFLY BLOOD is the sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES and it is absolutely stunning. Such a thrilling, devastating, heart-pounding, non-stop ride with so many twists, turns, and surprises. Readers have been calling this series unique and nothing like any other YA novel they've ever read. AND THEY ARE NOT WRONG. Be sure to get BUTTERFLY BONES free right now and BUTTERFLY BLOOD for only 99c on Kindle. These sales won't run for much longer.
Hello! Welcome back to the blog, and today I have some valuable information for all those writing novels. I recently asked the following question on Twitter:
Of course, before reading on for a selection of the answers I received, it's important to remember just how wonderfully subjective this industry is -- which yes, in my opinion is as positive a thing as it is negative -- so understanding why readers stop reading books can be analysed as much or as little as suits. You can see in my question that I didn't specify audience or genre, so if I were to delve deeper into each, I am sure the answers given would shift and vary dependent on expectation.
But, that aside, I find a lot of valuable info in the reasons that come straight from the mouths of readers, and in this case, I'm sure you'll notice two reasons that are raised consistently.
NB: There are 32 answers in this slideshow.
So, there we have it. I hope you noted how flat characters and slow starts both cropped up frequently. I hope these answers help as you move forward with your writing. Feel free to leave your reasons for ditching a book in the comments below.
And be sure to come back next week when I share with you the results of a variety of polls I set up related to reader preferences. It's super informative!
Yeah! I'm back and delighted to welcome Niki Lenz to the blog. Past Pitch Wars mentor, middle grade author, and all around lovely person, Niki answered some of my questions to find out where it all began and how she reached the title of published author.
Check it out!
When you're a Buttman, the label bully comes with the territory, and Bernice lives up to her name. But life as a bully is lonely, and if there's one thing Bernice really wants (even more than becoming a Hollywood stuntwoman), it's a true friend.
After her mom skedaddles and leaves her in a new town with her aunt (who is a real live nun), Bernice decides to mend her ways and become a model citizen. If her plan works, she just might be able to get herself to Hollywood Hills Stunt Camp! But it's hard to be kind when no one shows you kindness, so a few cheesy pranks may still be up her sleeve...
Bernice Buttman is tough, and she is crass. But if you let her in, she'll serve up some laughs, a lesson or two about empathy, and plenty of cheese balls in this delightful debut.
Where did Niki Lenz - author begin?
Well, I have always been an avid reader, and when my babies were born I started blogging about our adventures. I always got comments like, "You have such a funny way of telling a story!" and "Oh my gosh, you make the dumbest incidents seem like a whole thing..." And so, while my children took naps, I sat at my computer and told myself stories. I remember Googling, "How to be a published author" and "How to write a book." And in those (somewhat futile) Google searches I found out about Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and thought I would try it, just to see if I could. My first outline was just a list of ten things I thought could maybe happen. Oy.
What's one of the first things you ever wrote?
The first full novel I wrote was a dark and twisty YA set in an insane asylum in the 1920s. Not exactly on brand for me! I tried writing middle grade a few books later and fell in love with the freedom, honesty, and humor there and never looked back.
Did you share it with anyone - what did they say?
Yes, I made a bunch of my friends read it. They were all very supportive, but it makes me cringe now, ten novels later, that they saw my first attempt. I'd like to think I've gotten better since then!
Do you have a day job? Can you tell me about how you balance that and all the other arms of life with writing?
I do have a day job now that both of my kids are in elementary school. I am a substitute teacher. I love getting to interact with kids, plug my books, and help teach writing! And, bonus, no after school meetings to attend! I taught kindergarten for six years before I had children, so it is nice to be back in the classroom but on my own terms. I usually only sub three days a week and try to squeeze author stuff in on the other two days.
What did you do to hone your craft?
Well, some valuable advice I got when I Googled "How to be a published author" was to watch what real authors did and then do that. So I did! I joined a writer's group at the library. I signed up for SCBWI and went to my first regional conference. I read the entire "writing" section at the library. Basically, I was in full on "Fake it til you make it" mode!
What steps have you taken to grow as a writer?
The very very best thing anyone can do to become a better writer is to get some CPs who are better than you. I am serious. My CP, Jennie, is amazing and insightful and she reads all my terrible first drafts and I love her to pieces. But don't just stop at one! Keep switching manuscripts with as many people as possible, because you will learn new things each time.
Have you a team of cheerleaders behind you?
My family is super supportive of me. My husband worked hard to pay for laptops and memberships and conferences when publication was such a long shot. I will be forever grateful to him for that. My kids think it's really cool to have a mom who is an author. And they all work extra hard at staying out of my hair when I am on deadline, so that is immensely helpful.
When did you make the decision to pursue publication?
I went to my very first SCBWI conference in the middle of drafting that first novel, and I knew I was going to query it, at least for practice. I remember hearing statistics at the conference about how hard it is to get your work published, and instead of being discouraged I thought, "Why not me, though? I mean, they have to publish somebody..."
Can you tell us about this journey, from sending that first query to getting that call from the editor?
I queried my first three novels and wracked up three hundred rejections within a few years. But when I was ready to query my fourth novel, I knew had something special. I only queried my top fifteen agents for that one, and when Kate Testerman of KT Lit emailed to set up a call to "talk about my book" I was like "Wow, I've never had an agent call to reject my book before! Progress!" But it turned out that wasn't what the call was about at all. Kate offered me representation, and I was over the moon. We went on submission with that book for about a year before Kate read my next novel, BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN. She decided to put novel number four on the shelf and send out BERNICE. It was only a few months before it found it's home at Random House with my amazing and talented editor Caroline Abbey.
If you could pass on one piece of wisdom you've collected during your journey, what would it be?
I think my advice would be to just try to enjoy every stage of the process. It is such a privilege to find an audience for your work, and I don't ever want to take it for granted. If just one kid loves my story, I will be super duper excited. And the rest is just the gravy on top.
And for fun...
Mayo or Tomato ketchup
BOTH ON ALMOST EVERYTHING
Cats or dogs
Paperback or e-book
Day or night
Indoors or outdoors
Beer or wine
Run or walk
Mountains or beaches
Sweet or savory
Niki Lenz is an author living in Kansas City, Missouri. She is married to a handsome and brave police officer and has two adorable children.She studied elementary education at Southwest Baptist University and taught kindergarten for six years. She enjoys reading, travel, glamping, polka dots, red lipstick, and oldies music. Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen is her first novel.
Pre-order Niki's book now!
I LOVE supporting authors, whether they are multi-published, traditionally published, self published, or going to be published one day. And today, I'm helping out a dictionary of writers (I I made that up!) from Tasmania!
DO YOU LIVE IN OR NEAR LAUNCESTON, TASMANIA?
DO YOU LOVE MEETING AUTHORS AND BUYING BOOKS?
DO YOU LOVE NIBBLES?
Why not pop by the Stories Bookshop on St John's Street and meet not just one, but a bunch of terrific authors!
In Dunstan and Theodore, two friends drive to Western Junction where they plan to have a picnic after Dunstan flies his plane. Why can’t Dunstan land his plane? Who comes to the rescue? In other adventures, Theodore goes to Bridport and sails from Low Head to Flinders Island.
In Sea Monsters, explore the pages and use your imagination to discover images within the shadows and shapes in the photos. How many Sea Monsters can you find? The book provides an opportunity to engage in conversation about the environment and discover an imaginative world outside. Create your own monsters using natural objects, write, draw, paint, photograph and share experiences. Teachers Notes are available.
Sharon lives in Launceston with her family. Sharon has been a creative Visual Merchandiser and Window Dresser for forty years.
Paul Richardson & Amanda Walker
When accepted by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service volunteer program as caretakers for Maatsuyker Island, Paul Richardson and Amanda Walker were well aware they had chosen to live in isolation in one of the windiest places in Australia at a time when the weather is at its wildest.
This remarkable book chronicles their preparations, first impressions and then the daily caretaking tasks needed to look after the lighthouse, the light keeper’s quarters, outbuildings and island infrastructure. It tells of ocean swells, driving rains, lightning strikes, mist and drizzle, calm and sunny periods, bitter cold and record winds. All this is accompanied by Amanda and Paul’s lavish photographs and Amanda’s exquisite artwork which provide a striking visual record of their six-month stay.
There are still days, as I am returning home from a shoot, when the light gets that special quality that you see nowhere else in the world, when I feel a certain smugness. Next year marks 30 years since Vicki and I packed up our lives in Sydney and moved to Tasmania. Not once have we regretted our decision, and we still marvel at the clarity of mind that our younger selves had about the move all those years ago.
After 4 books devoted to the amazing produce grown in Tasmania and the talented people who turn it into world class food, it was time to look at what else this island had to offer. The food is important, and the wine has been well known around the world for decades now, but all of a sudden, it’s the single malt whiskey, the hand crafted gins and the experiences that are woven around these fabulous products that has been bringing more and more people to visit us.
A field guide to an awesome trip around Tassie! If you get to experience, taste and enjoy half the things in this book you will have a trip to beat all others.
A delightful tale of four horsey friends by new Tasmanian author, Vanessa Beaumont, with illustrations by Tabitha Osztreicher. The perfect gift for children who love horses.
Four horsey friends live peacefully in their field...
three of them docile and one strong-willed.
One windy day all goes astray...
which of the horses would save them that day?
Greg Ray & Jenny Miller
Greg Ray is the proud owner of a ‘bitser’ called Bremer who is a cross between a Border Collie and a Boxer. Bremer wandered into the Ray household as a stray and has been successfully running the family ever since.
Jenny Miller provides the beautiful illustrations for the Why Dogs series of books. She is the proud owner of a rescue dog called Sasol. Sasol bears a remarkable resemblance to Rastus Ramier, the pup who features in the first book of the series Why Dogs Circle to Lie Down.
The Why Dogs series of beautiful children’s books currently comprises 5 titles – Why Dogs Sniff Bums, Why Dogs Don’t Bark at Santa, Why Dogs Circle to Lie Down, Why Dogs Chase Cats and Why Dogs Bury Bones.
Owl and Echidna feel sick and sad that so many of their friends and family members are hurt and killed on the roads in their neighbourhood.
Owl and Echidna come up with a clever plan that involves planting a very special seed in a special place. This proves to be quite a tricky task so they ask their human friend, Fergus Fleegelbaum, to help
Kathleen McLaren lives in a lovely spot at the foothills of Mt Wellington. She enjoys illustrating and writing stories, hiking in Tasmania’s beautiful natural areas and working as a primary school teacher.
There Be Dragons is a collection of short true-life stories of growing up in Tasmania in the late 1940s and early 50s. The stories are light, whimsical, told from a child's point of view, but with some adult layers.
Heather Donaldson grew up in Launceston. She is a nurse, wife, mother, grandmother, lover of animals, wild places, beaches and books. Her Tasmanian childhood provides her with wonderful memories and endless ideas for stories. She has travelled widely but always comes home to Tasmania. She continues to live in and love this beautiful place.
‘Ghosts Royal’ is a fictional account of Abdication Day 1936, the day that changed the life of one ten-year-old princess forever. More poignantly, the story is told through the eyes of the princess, portraying all her hopes, fears, memories and misgivings.
This unique blend of fact and fiction is a portrait of one day in history from a young girl’s point of view, rarely considered in such intimate detail. You are shown glimpses of the Queen she will one day become.
Author and illustrator Brian Harrison-Lever has used his years of experience to give a voice to some of history’s voiceless: transported convicts.
Harrison-Lever is the drawing hand behind the illustrations of books such as In Flanders Fields, and Photographs in the Mud.
Originally from Western Australia, where he also worked in television and performing arts, he moved to Tasmania about 20 years ago.
It was here that he found the inspiration for his latest book: Transported: Tales of Misfortune and Roguery.
Dianne Snowden was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for services to heritage. Dianne is a professional genealogist and historian based in Tasmania and she is President of the Australasian Association of Genealogists and Record Agents (AAGRA). AAGRA is the accrediting body for professional genealogical researchers throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Dianne is a regular visitor to Ireland for research purposes. With the Wicklow historian Joan Kavanagh she wrote Van Diemen’s Women – a History of Transportation to Tasmania, published in 2015.
Mr Peter Mercer, class of 1952, is a prolific author and historian.
In late 2017 Peter published two new books titled A Brush with the Past which details childhood experiences of growing up in Launceston and being educated at the Launceston Church Grammar School during the 1940’s and 1950’s.
Peter has also written Happy Holidaying at Low Head about childhood experiences at the Tasmanian seaside in the 1940s and early 1950s.
Both books are a fascinating recollection of living, holidaying and being educated in Launceston in a golden era to be a child.
Dr John David Paull
Retired after 40 years practising anaesthesia and engaging in research, teaching, administration, and more recently the history of anaesthesia in Australia, in 2013 John published his biography of Dr William Russ Pugh.
Now he has turned his attention to the Log and Journal which Dr Pugh compiled on the long voyage from England to New Holland as a 28 year old ship’s doctor in 1835. After a seven-year search, the missing journal was found in the safekeeping of a great great grandson of Pugh’s sister, living in Bristol, England.
John has transcribed and annotated the hand written journal to reveal the exciting tale of Pugh’s five month journey from England to Hobart, on to Sydney and return to Hobart and then a month long walk to Launceston.
Rick Smith was born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1955.
He is a former A Grade cricketer, writer and photographer. He is the author or co-author of 24 books and numerous articles on various aspects of cricket history, including Australian Test Cricketers, Great Days in Test Cricket and Cricket’s Enigma: the Sid Barnes Story.
Rick’s book Blighted Lives – the Story of Harry and Albert Trott won the Australian Cricket Society’s Literary Award in 2010.
Since 1990 Rick has been Cricket Tasmania’s match photographer. His photography has won honours awards from the Australian Photographic Society and the Photographic Society of America.
Queenstown is below, stitched into the bottom of the valley, the dark geometric shapes of the Mount Lyell headframe away to his left and the vast sail of Mount Owen on the other side of the town, opposite him. The summer sky is clean and clear, vast and high, an endless cathedral ceiling. This is where he comes when he wants to hide.
Cameron Hindrum is a writer, poet, playwright and teacher, based in Launceston. Since 2003, he has coordinated the annual Tasmanian Poetry Festival, and for nearly 20 years he has organised spoken word events, readings, literary events and poetry slams. He has published two volumes of poetry, Private Conversations Volumes 1 and 2.
Susie R Harrison
Susie was born in England but has spent most of her life in Australia, currently living in Tasmania.
She loves to travel, particularly in Scandinavia, and her trips have included the UK, Europe, Egypt and Asia. However she had always wanted to go to America and a recent visit to New York and New England was love at first sight. She cannot wait to return – hence, the American setting for this story, her first novel.
Susie holds a Bachelor of Education and has worked a wide range of jobs, including Community Ambassador, Tour Guide, Bank Technical Officer, Fashion Consultant and Office Manager.
Wife, mother and now alpaca farmer, Fiona Stocker captures the trials, adventures and euphoria of living in a place of untrammelled beauty – Tasmania. Wry, humorous and gently reflective, this is a modern-day wife’s tale, an everywoman’s story and a paean to a new, slower age.
“Apple Island Wife is both heart-warming and hilarious. Filled with raw, honest real-life accounts of trying to attain the good life fuelled with a pioneering spirit and a positive attitude. Compulsive reading for anyone who has ever thought they are not living the life they should!”
Steven Lamb, River Cottage
Besides partnering in the farm, Fiona writes freelance and works as a ghost writer and editor on books. She writes a blog, also called Apple Island Wife, and was a judge in the Tasmanian Short Story Competition in 2016. Her first book A Place in the Stockyard, was commissioned by Tasmanian Women in Agriculture and published in 2016.
Apple Island Wife, a travel memoir, is published by Unbound in August 2018.
Fiona Stocker lives with her husband and two children in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania.
When social worker Aimee blows into the mining town of Kalgoorlie for a fresh start, she unwittingly uncovers a web of lies and a heartbreaking tie with her tumultuous past in this compelling family saga where the personal and political collide.
Her colleagues Lori and Paddy seem friendly, and she is also drawn to one of her cases: the Steele family, whose future looks particularly bleak. But Aimee has a dark secret, and as the past reaches out towards her once more, she realises that somehow her secret is connected to this harshly beautiful town and its inhabitants.
Shirley Patton lives in the Tamar Valley, Tasmania. Her career includes social work lecturer, published researcher, television newsreader and television chat show host.
Prue Hutton taught Art to schoolchildren and adults for many years. In this book she interprets colours, textures, patterns of the natural environment of Maria Island off the East Coast of Tasmania. Using a range of printmaking and drawing techniques, Prue has illustrated her story of a four day walk on Maria.
Sally Ord has designed original knitting patterns (included) that reflect the story, and included images so that readers can knit the garments she designed.
Parenting the Next Generation: A Journey of Life, Love and Learning.
Marg Cruickshank (BA/DipEd) grew up in the Huon Valley. She is a parent, grandparent and senior secondary teacher with more than 30 years classroom experience. Parenting the Next Generation: A Journey of Life, Love and Learning recounts conversations between Marg and her students about how they were raised, the values they were taught and the values they want for tomorrow.
This book creates a space for laughter, love and honest reflection in a market that shouts perfection. A refreshing contribution that speaks to the heart of anyone stepping out on the parenting /teaching/grandparenting path.
Harry is tired of being the tall new kid with red hair, big feet and freckles; the one with the dead sister whose voice follows her wherever she goes
When Harry’s wish for a horse comes true and Marksman comes into her life, she isn’t sure that the impressive horse is the one for her. She doesn’t need another challenge. But could he be just what she needs to learn the difference between standing out and standing up? This fantastic story for middle-grade readers will tug at your heartstrings.
Jackie has lived in Tasmania for 16 years. Presently, Jackie lives in Harford, Sassafras with her horses. Her love of horses extends from her childhood when her parents bought a riding school. Horses proved a cure when she was carsick: she would imagine horses galloping by the car, and thus calm her sickness. These childhood experiences have inspired her debut novel ‘The Promise Horse’.
I'm delighted to welcome a super dooper special friend to the blog today as she celebrates a super dooper special day! Over to you, Sarah...
Kate, thanks for hosting my cover reveal! Especially since your twitter-pitch-drafting and editorial services helped me land my agent in the first place!
Now, without further ado . . . After five years of work, I’m so excited to officially reveal the cover of my debut novel, ALL THE WALLS OF BELFAST, to the world!
About All the Walls of Belfast...
The Carnival at Bray meets West Side Story in Sarah Carlson’s powerful YA debut; set in post-conflict Belfast (Northern Ireland), alternating between two teenagers, both trying to understand their past and preserve their future. Seventeen-year-olds, Fiona and Danny must choose between their dreams and the people they aspire to be.
Fiona and Danny were born in the same hospital. Fiona’s mom fled with her to the United States when she was two, but, fourteen years after the Troubles ended, a forty-foot-tall peace wall still separates her dad’s Catholic neighborhood from Danny’s Protestant neighborhood.
After chance brings Fiona and Danny together, their love of the band Fading Stars, big dreams, and desire to run away from their families unites them. Danny and Fiona must help one another overcome the burden of their parents’ pasts. But one ugly truth might shatter what they have…
ALL THE WALLS OF BELFAST will be released by Turner Publishing Company on March 12th, 2019.
Check out my book trailer: https://youtube/K3i5YSUL5Gk
What was your path to publication?
I queried two manuscripts before ALL THE WALLS OF BELFAST with absolutely no requests at all. To be fair, when I started querying eight or nine years ago, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. At all. Like my YA sci-fi was 240,000 words. EEK!!!! There were years where I just gave up querying altogether, but I didn’t give up writing because I can’t. I love creating stories and have since I started walking basically. I kept pushing myself to improve. I attended writing conferences, researched effective query letters, learned more about HOW to write a book, wrote new books. Worked with a few writing coaches. Found critique partners. Joined writing groups. Kept pushing myself. Kept writing.
With ALL THE WALLS OF BELFAST, I was very reluctant to even start querying, but I worked hard on compiling a list of agents. Then in 2014 I discovered the joy of the YA writing Twitter community. The first contest I participated in (and it was with ALL THE WALLS OF BELFAST) was Pitch Wars. I was one of those hopeful mentees who read all the signs and was SURE I would be picked. I wasn’t. But my query materials were in much better shape and I’d amassed many new, skilled writing friends I still talk to. Like Kate 😊 Then I participated in a few more Twitter-based writing contests and didn’t get picked.
Just as I was preparing to (finally) traditionally query, Kate told me about a Twitter pitching contest called #Pitchmas, right before Christmas. I was almost like, what’s the point, but she helped me prepare a few 140 word tweets, so I went for it. And . . . my agent Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Regal Hoffman & Associates liked one of my tweets! Kate provided some line editing services, then I sent Claire my materials. I made a point of telling her I’d planned on querying her anyway. I sent the full, and I think THE CALL came in late January 2015. I reached out to other agents who had my query, got a few more full requests, then gave them a week to read them. In the end, I decided Claire’s vision for my novel, and her enthusiasm, was the perfect fit!
I spent three years revising with Claire. There were several seven page, single-spaced developmental edit letters and lots of other feedback that forced me to find the heart of my story. In the end, I completely re-wrote the entire novel one point of view at a time. And then did more revisions to really boil the story down to its essence. ALL THE WALLS OF BELFAST went on submission in February 2018 and then was picked up by Turner Publishing Company in mid-March 2018.
How long was your writing journey for All the Walls of Belfast?
It took about five years, largely because of the research that went into it: taking three trips to Belfast and visiting all setting locations and exploring history and different perspectives, recruiting Belfast readers, studying the Troubles and the long history leading up to them, daily tracking of current events in Belfast and Northern Ireland, researching both British English and specifically Northern Irish dialect through mediums such as novels/movies/shows, Google Maps streetviewing everything, among other things. It also took some time (and many re-writes) to find the heart of Fiona’s story, as well as her voice. Which is kind of ironic, since she’s the basically American character. And then there were the many, many re-writes.
Who will All the Walls of Belfast appeal to?
Readers who enjoy being challenged by complex themes like forgiveness for egregious past mistakes, rising above the burden of the past to forge a new future for yourself, and challenging the notion of “other” ingrained in you by adults. And anyone who might enjoy a dash of star-crossed romance.
If All the Walls of Belfast had a theme song, what would it be?
For me, music is essential to my writing process. I create ever-evolving playlists for every novel I write to help me set the mood for setting, character, and scene. If I had to pick one theme song, I think I would pick “Mess is Mine” by Vance Joy.
You can check out my playlist here. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB_UMsWd2O9aC5c5h5Y0AHxWs024H2r3u
And now a few random questions...
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
Definitely hiking the Routeburn Track on the south island of New Zealand. It was a three day hike through a mountain pass where we faced both freezing temperatures and flooding. They shut down the trail and started evacuating people after we finished! In addition to the steep hike carrying a thirty pound pack with all my stuff, I had to climb up a water fall and may have almost fallen off a narrow path with a hundred foot drop off. But the whole hike was absolutely beautiful in a way that words and pictures cannot capture, and the feeling of pride and accomplishment when we reached the end was absolutely intoxicating. I felt completely alive.
If you could tell your teenage self one thing, what would it be?
Study Spanish instead of German. Seriously, after studying it five years, I’ve only used German like twice. I could be using Spanish daily. I know you said one, but . . . also, do things that scare you. Force yourself to take risks.
Chocolate or gummy bears?
Gummy bears every time.
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YABC Profile Page: http://www.yabookscentral.com/yaindie/22834-all-the-walls-of-belfast
I ABSOLUTELY FREAKING LOVE BEAUTIFUL BOOK COVERS, and I have been known to stare longingly at those in book stores for long amounts of time, drawing strange looks from other browsers probably wondering if I'm some kind of cardboard cut out. I'm not. I'm just fond of lovely powerful images that adorn books. So, naturally, today I'm super excited to be a part of a very special person's cover reveal.
My lovely friend and editing partner Rebecca Carpenter writes an incredible YA contemporary science fiction series called THE METAMORPHOSIS SERIES, with her debut BUTTERFLY BONES winning an award (OH YEAH!) and book 2 BUTTERFLY BLOOD coming out in August (and it's one heck of a sequel!). Well, the series has had a face lift, courtesy of the awesomely talented Emma Wicker, and OH MY WORD IT'S GORGEOUS!
Check it out...
HER BONES. HER FUTURE. HER SACRIFICE.
“I wish I was a normal fifteen-year-old. I have dreams that I am.”
Fifteen-year-old Bethany Keatley’s life is anything but perfect. Yet despite a rare bone disorder cursing her with the body of a ten year old, a dead mom, and being a target for the school bullies, things could be worse.
She owes her life to her scientist father and the butterfly hormone racing through her blood.
But the discovery of unexpected and horrifying side effects means her dreams of leaving the small-minded town of Springs, Georgia to become a scientist have all but shattered.
Her world becomes a prison and her existence a life sentence.
The only thing keeping Bethany fighting is her true love, football star Jeremiah Wright—if only he felt the same way. And now, with the clock ticking and her future uncertain, courage and the determination to survive must drive her decisions.
But nature has other plans, a sacrifice for Bethany’s life.
In this award-winning incredible debut, Rebecca Carpenter brings to life the “haunting and twisted story” of one girl and an ending that will blow your mind.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON.COM
CHECK OUT THE REVIEWS ON GOODREADS
READ NOW ON NETGALLEY
HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.
“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”
Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.
The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.
Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she's never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.
But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.
Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.
Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?
In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.
BUY NOW ON AMAZON.COM
READ THE REVIEWS ON GOODREADS
I love these books so much. Rebecca is such a talented writer and this series offers you so much more than a lot of the YA on bookshelves. It has science, it has romance, it has creepiness, horror, shocks, twists, and courage. And it's jam-packed with so much beauty. I highly recommend you get your hands on this series if you love something a little bit different.
Can you hear that? No, seriously, listen hard ... Yep, that's the sound of me crying. I'm bringing you my final author interview in my best and worst series and I'm gutted! All the fab people I've gotten to know through this has been absolutely awesome and I'm going to miss it. But, it's time to say goodbye and for a change, of course.
But, I'm ending the series on a fabulously high note as I'm delighted to introduce you to not only a superbly talented young lady (and trust me, I've read her words and wow!), but also a wonderful, supportive, and upbeat soul.
Sage Webb spent over a decade writing legal briefs in the field of federal criminal defense before turning to fiction. Her debut novel, The Unremarkable Circumstances of Inmate 17656-090, won the Permian Basin Writers Workshop 2017 manuscript contest for general/literary fiction.
For short stories, her piece "Queen" won second place in the 2017 Hackney Literary Awards, her story "Rings" earned semi-finalist status in Ruminate Magazine's 2018 William Van Dyke Short Story Contest, and her work "Dispute" was the overall winner of the Wild Words 2017 Winter Solstice Competition (based in the U.K.).
In nonfiction, she writes for a Gulf Coast health-and-wellness magazine and her essay "Mahogany Pilgrimage" received honorable mention in Flyway's 2017 Notes from the Field Contest. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and Read Local. Sage and her husband live on a fifty-year-old wooden trawler in Galveston Bay with a ship’s cat named Ines and Jackson, the boat dog.
In this modern-day twist on the idea of the Good Thief, an abused young man fights for a new life and falls in love with two adventurous itinerants on a small sailboat only to face an indictment for receiving child pornography and become federal inmate 17656-090.
Before his conviction, the young man leaves Michigan and the abuse of his childhood in search of a new life on Galveston Bay. Serving sandwiches beside the tourist boardwalk, he meets failure-haunted Grayson and affection-seeking Blair, who invite him into the world of the little sailboat on which they live. The threesome builds the family none of them has ever known, and will-be inmate 17656-090 believes he’s just about made it to the mythic “beach in California” of his dreams—until Blair starts dating another man and Grayson makes a confusing romantic overture.
When a federal agent knocks with an arrest warrant based on an indictment for receiving child pornography, the world of the little boat crumbles and the will-be inmate must answer charges for looking at the pictures that had helped him make sense of all he’d suffered. Speaking with his crusading public defenders and the psychologist who declares he presents no danger of a “hands-on” offense, he begins to hope for the best in the face of the mandatory five-to-twenty-year sentencing range until Grayson appears at the U.S. Attorney’s Office with another laptop.
Buy it now on Amazon!
An Excerpt from Sage's Novel ...
Mr. Donaldson rises, steps to the podium, places his legal pad in front of him.
“Your honor, my client is twenty-four years old, and these twenty-four years have not been very good to him. But this young man has done just about everything in his limited power to dig out of the hole into which he was born, in which he found himself through no fault of his own. He’s worked, he’s tried to provide for his sister and her children, he earned a high school diploma. And probably most remarkably, he’s stayed optimistic. He has cultivated some deep, pro-social relationships, and he likes to read. And something that stood out to me markedly: he moved to the Galveston area and learned to sail sailboats. Now, I know nothing about boats. I don’t even fish, even though I love my summers in the Upper Peninsula. But this young man, from very, very humble circumstances, somehow found his way onto a sailboat with a woman, a platonic friend, who knows how to race these boats. And he learned to sail. When he talks about it—and that isn’t often; he’s quiet, humble—he lights up. One afternoon at the jail, he told me a story about driving—sailing—a boat from the north end of Galveston Bay down to Galveston Island. He told me how he and his friends anchored the boat and rowed to shore and went to the beach. He told me how they returned to the boat and barbequed and told stories and spent the weekend anchored on this boat.”
Mr. Donaldson pauses, and the courtroom uncurls, stretches. It pays attention to what it seems to consider an unlikely tale.
“I tell the court this story because it strikes me that this young man is more than what the indictment and the presentence report describe. Yes, he suffered terrible—unspeakable—abuse from the time he was five years old. He has been beaten, raped, humiliated, and tortured. But he hasn’t stopped. In fact, I’d say this young man could teach each one of us some lesson about living. He has kept on living, and I daresay has enjoyed parts of his recent past, namely some friendships and the sailing.”
The room quiets, hollows out. I feel the table under my folded hands melt, flex, ripple. Sucking at the air, I drop softly through space out of the wood-paneled nave—down, down—to land on the deck of Narwhal. Grayson and Blair cast off the lines one last time, and I point the little boat toward Cuba one last time, and I am free one last time.
"The sights, sounds, and smells of the Texas Gulf Coast come to life in this unusual but captivating work. Regardless of which side one takes, Sage Webb courageously dwells where few have dared, and boldly questions public policy and basic notions of justice. Webb crafts a subtle tale of a wounded protagonist who gets in well over his head vis-à-vis perplexing laws and persistent attitudes. We are drawn into the colorful lives of a group of close-knit but lovably flawed friends. What started off as the protagonist’s act of self-medication, an attempt to heal from abuse, turned out to be a profound mistake that forever changed not only his life but those of everyone around him. Prejudging aside, this work will provoke obliging discussions about a topic best left undiscussed."
Jaime Salazar, Author of Legion of the Lost and Escaping the Amazon
THE BEST & WORST OF SAGE
Best Book - My favorite book (look at my terrible American spelling!) has long been the Iliad. It’s so fundamental in many ways: fundamental human frailty, fundamental human longings, fundamental plot lines. . . . It’s all there. I also love The Sun Also Rises. I didn’t “get” Hemingway as a kid, but he really speaks to me now.
Best Band - Oh, that’s tough. I like Latin dance music, especially bachata. But if I had to pick one band, maybe it’d be Gypsy Kings. Before I moved to Texas, I couldn’t do country at all, but it’s grown on me and I’d recommend John Baumann to writers: the man has a real gift with lyrics—his songs are bite-sized short stories.
Best Song / Worst Song - Aaahhh! Another tough one. I’d say “Timing Is Everything.” A country song by Garrett Hedlund. My husband plays guitar and that’s “our song.” He strums that one and I melt. Guilty pleasure: “Vivir Mi Vida” (Marc Anthony). Get my pumping: Orff’s “O Fortuna.” Worst?! Yikes. “Pour Some Sugar on Me”—not because it’s a bad song, but because it’s the only song I karaoke to and I’m a HORRIBLE singer.
Best Holiday / Worst Holiday - Best holiday?! The one you “sneak”: when you play hooky from work and go surfing. Also America’s Memorial Day. I lived in Michigan for over a decade and winters there are killer! Memorial Day ushered in summer! Worst . . . well, I’ll get serious. My family had some biggish bumps in its road when I was a kid (and maybe that comes out in my writing in a couple places). I’ll just say I haven’t had to celebrate Mothers’ Day in a long, long time. It hasn’t been a big thing since I was quite young, but every once in a while, I feel that “hole.”
Best Animal - CATS!!!!!! We have an awesome ship’s cat/pirate kitty and a wonderful boat dog. But I’m a cat person all the way.
Best Item of Clothing - Rash guard for watersports! Worst: winter clothes!!!!
Best Food / Worst Food - Best?!?!?! Ice cream? Pizza? Crepes? Gelato? Don’t make me pick!!! Worst: olives . . . and cucumbers.
Best Drink / Worst Drink - Best: my husband’s special virgin Margaritas!!!! Da bomb! Worst?! I don’t do coffee. My husband’s an addict. I never touch the stuff.
Best Alcoholic Drink / Worst Alcoholic Drink - My drinking has been very limited. I just don’t have a taste for it. But for book research, I tried Sunny Delight + Vodka. Ya know? It worked. Worst?! Beer!!!! My husband loves his IPA. I don’t get it.
Best Friend - Husband, sister, and an amazing woman/dance friend/singer I lost to colon cancer a couple years ago. I miss her tons.
Best Writing Moment - It’s also the scariest: having people buy my book!!!
Best Childhood Memory - I’ll skip the worst here. Best . . . hmmmmm. I had a pony when I was a kid. That’s hard to top. And I rock climbed a lot, and I used to lead multi-pitch stuff and aid climb. That was pretty cool.
Best Word / Worst Word - Antidisestablishmentarianismist and pusillanimous. Because they are just darn fun. Worst: can’t. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at an event I attended and reminded us that “Old man Can’t is dead . . . and I helped bury him.”
Best Shop - Little book shops with cats!!!!!
Best Sport - Sailing? Diving? Worst: running!!!! I hate to run.
Best Job - I’d like to be a mascot/character in a suit. Worst: lawyering when the deadlines are crushing you.
Best Saying - See above: “Old man Can’t is dead and I helped bury him.” Justice Clarence Thomas (and his grandpa).
Best Teacher / Worst Teacher - Same for both: Experience. You really learn from her, but she beats the tar out of you at times.
Best Time of Day / Worst Time of Day - Worst: I’m not a morning person. Best time: when I’m with my husband and/or on the water.
Best Room - The cabin on a boat!
Best Day Ever / Worst Day Ever - Best days: involve the beach. Worst days: when you don’t get outside!
Best Smell / Worst Smell - Best: plumeria flowers and magnolias. Worst: fish offal stink in the harbor of Kona, Hawai`i, on hot days when I was in college!
Best TV Show - OK, I got a little addicted to Breaking Bad. My husband did Shameless. I did NOT!
Best Gadget - Those weird circular apple slicers that you push over an apple to slice it!!!
Best Sound / Worst Sound - Best: ocean sounds, silence (we don’t get enough!), my husband playing guitar and singing. Worst: the ding of MORE email coming in. My life and work involve too much email!
Best Restaurant - There’s this cute local chain in West Michigan called Russ’s. Homemade food cheap. Not low calorie. Good for feeding sweet teeth (plural of sweet tooth?!)
Best Movie / Worst Movie - Best: Cool Runnings about the Jamaican bobsled team. Worst: anything horror! Plus I don’t do the blow-‘em-up ones.
Best Time of Year / Worst Time of Year - Summer rocks. People just seem more chill in summer. Summer means boats and boards and beaches. Winter is kinda sad. Staying inside is sad.
Best School Subject / Worst School Subject - I was pretty good in English and with languages and, in law school, I loved jurisprudence and legal theory. Worst: do not ask me to do math or tax!
Best Body Part / Worst Body Part - Your eyes—to read and see the world! Worst: my, ahem, girth when I get a little liberal with the sweets.
Yes! I am there with you hiding from the math questions! But probably not when it comes to watching horror! Thanks for being my final victim, Sage. Good luck with the book. :)
I'm back today with one of my final Best & Worst author interviews *cries* but I don't think you'll be disappointed with my guest. Here, celebrating May, her book birthday month, please meet...
MIRIAM SPITZER FRANKLIN
Miriam Spitzer Franklin has been sharing her love of reading and writing with her students for years as an elementary and middle school language arts teacher. Her debut novel, EXTRAORDINARY, was published by Skypony Press in 2015. She has published two other middle grade novels, CALL ME SUNFLOWER (2017) and EMILY OUT OF FOCUS, which comes out in Feb. 2019.
Miriam's hobbies include coaching her daughter's Odyssey of the Mind team, figure skating, and being passionate about environmental and animal rights causes. Miriam spent her childhood in New Jersey but currently lives with her husband, two daughters, and two pampered cats in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Follow Miriam on Twitter here!
Last spring, Pansy chickened out on going to spring break camp, even though she’d promised her best friend, Anna, she’d go. It was just like when they went to get their hair cut for Locks of Love; only one of them walked out with a new hairstyle, and it wasn’t Pansy. But Pansy never got the chance to make it up to Anna. While at camp, Anna contracted meningitis and a dangerously high fever, and she hasn’t been the same since. Now all Pansy wants is her best friend back—not the silent girl in the wheelchair who has to go to a special school and who can’t do all the things Pansy used to chicken out of doing. So when Pansy discovers that Anna is getting a surgery that might cure her, Pansy realizes this is her chance—she’ll become the friend she always should have been. She’ll become the best friend Anna’s ever had—even if it means taking risks, trying new things (like those scary roller skates), and running herself ragged in the process.
Pansy’s chasing extraordinary, hoping she reaches it in time for her friend’s triumphant return. But what lies at the end of Pansy’s journey might not be exactly what she had expected—or wanted.
Extraordinary is a heartfelt, occasionally funny, coming-of-age middle grade novel by debut author Miriam Spitzer Franklin. It’s sure to appeal to fans of Cynthia Lord’s Rules and will inspire young friends to cherish the times they spend together. Every day should be lived like it’s extraordinary.
REVIEWS OF MIRIAM'S BOOKS...
"An endearing story of friendship, heartache and triumph proves extraordinary things can happen when we least expect it."--Jennifer Murgia, author of Forest of Whispers and Castle of Signs
"Readers will be both heartbroken and warmed by the way Sunny views the world and her attempts to change it. A relatable heroine with a noble cause that readers won't soon forget." --Erin Entrada Kelly, Newberry Award winner of the book, Hello Universe
For more information and to purchase EXTRAORDINARY, visit: here and here and here!
For more information and to purchase CALL ME SUNFLOWER, visit: here and here and here!
THE BEST & WORST OF MIRIAM
Best Book : Soooo hard to pick, but one of my all-time faves since I was a child is CHARLOTTE'S WEB. It never fails to amaze me, now matter how many times I've read it. A newer favorite? THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson. This book is pure poetry and is a story about things that matter: family, friendship, music, nature, joy, love, dealing with loss, and finding your best self.
Best Band: The Beatles
Best Animal: Cats, elephants, whales, otters, and Esther the Wonder Pig (if you don't know who she is, Google it!)
Best Food / Worst Food: One of my favorite treats is Cadbury Eggs but I can only eat them for a few months of the year! My worst choice is meat since I've been a vegetarian since my early teens.
Best Drink / Worst Drink: Diet Coke with Lime- a must-have when I'm writing / regular Coke
Best Alcoholic Drink: It's hard to choose a favorite but I usually drink red wine!
Best Friend: I've been lucky to have Liz as my best friend since college! We're very different but she's always been there for me and seems to know what I'm thinking before I put it into words. <3
Best Writing Moment: When I finally saw the email saying my debut novel, Extraordinary, had sold! It had been out with the last publisher for 8 months and my agent and I had parted ways so it was totally unexpected!
Best Childhood Memory: Going ice skating on Thursday nights at the outdoor rink in NJ with my friends. My dad, an engineer who wrote plays in his spare time, would sit on a bench in the warming area with the latest scene he'd written and a pen. When we finished skating, I'd find him there, reading his words and laughing at his own jokes. He always bought me a Milky Way and a hot chocolate before we headed home.
Best Word / Worst Word: I'll state the obvious here: Peace/War
Best Shop: Street Fair—my favorite hippie shop in Asheville, NC where I can find all my favorite skirts, barettes, earrings, and bumper stickers.
Best Sport: Ice skating
Best Saying: "The only way to guarantee failure is to quit."
Best Teacher: The best teacher I had was in 1st and 2nd grade. She encouraged me to write and asked me to go to the upper grades and share my stories. The worst teacher I had was my 8th grade history teacher who gave me a zero when she fell asleep during my presentation. She'd also stand behind students while they were taking one of her challenging quizzes, cackling. Yes, she actually cackled. A real witch of a teacher! When I modeled a teacher after her in one of my manuscripts, I was told by everyone to tone her down because she wasn't realistic.
Best Time of Day / Worst Time of Day: Afternoon/morning
Best TV Show: Current favorite: This Is Us. Full of amazing writing and people you wish were family members. Each episode is a work of art. Bring a box of tissues.
Best Restaurant: Ben Tanh Vietnamese
Best Movie: HAROLD & MAUDE—I first saw this back in college and I will always remember how I walked out of the screening and it was raining outside, and while I'm usually not a fan of rain, I wanted to stop and feel the rain against my skin, feeling the joy of being alive. (Really! this movie will do this to you)
Best time of year: Fall
Best School Subject / Worst School Subject: Reading/Math
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