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Friday, April 27, 2012

A Crack in the Line Book Discussion and Author Chat

If you're a writer, pay attention. I have fun news for you!

There is going to be a book discussion and author chat on Facebook, Friday, May 11 at 2pm EST.  You shouldn't miss it. There are a variety of things going on with this event that can benefit you. Yes, I'm looking at you. Let me explain.

American hardcover edition
The event kicks off with a real time book discussion of Michael Lawrence's Printz award nominee, A Crack in the LineMichael, himself, will be online for the discussion as well. How often do you get to attend a book discussion with the author present? Not often. But, wait! Before you click to another page because you haven't read the the book and you don't care to, let me explain what else is in store.

First, you'll have to opportunity to pick the brain of an author who has published over 40 books for all ages in the youth spectrum. Books for babies? Yes. Books for beginning readers? Yes. Early chapter books? Yes. Middle grade? Yes. YA? Yes! He's offering both readers and writers the chance to ask their burning questions during this event.

Still not interested? Well, have you considered coming to scope out the possibilities social media offers you to connect to your audience? People are doing online release parties these days. Have you been to one? Do you know how to conduct such a thing for yourself? Are you interested in doing your own author chats on your social media network of choice? Then attend as many as possible in the meantime. See what works and what doesn't. It's a fun kind of research, wouldn't you say? And, you never know, you might find an author whose work you'll really enjoy. Or get some great tips. Or make a new friend. The possibilities are endless!

Yes, I admit, Michael is one of my top 3 favorite authors but I wanted to share the news about this cool event that I think will offer a lot to current fans as well as people who aren't familiar with his work at all. Will I be there? You bet! I hope you will too! (even if you don't read the book ahead of time)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bethany Telles Interview

The next new MeeGenius author I'm spotlighting is Bethany Telles. Her story is absolutely adorable, Waiting for James in a Sea of Pink. (isn't that a great title too?) I hope you'll check out her story, right after you check out her interview.

The Restless Writer (RW): Your story, Waiting for James in a Sea of Pink is really cute! This sounds like something you have personal experience with. How did inspiration strike you? 
Bethany Telles (BT): Our family mainly consists of boys, including our two little ones. However, my husband has one little cousin who happens to be... a girl. *Gasp!* She's the most stereotypical, adorable little girl I have ever met, and her fourth birthday was EXACTLY as described in my book. I've never seen so much pink! I noticed her older brother pacing by the window during the party, bored to frantic tears, waiting and waiting for his friend to come. It was just too easy!

RW: What's the best party you've ever been to? 
BT: I have no idea! I'm usually the party thrower, so I'd be completely biased. My dream party would be some sort of masquerade ball or Mad Hatter Tea Party!

RW: I love the character names in your book. How do you choose character names, generally? BT: Honestly? Okay, don't laugh... I couldn't give up the baby name book I got when I was pregnant with my first kiddo. It's sitting right on my desk, next to my Dictionary and Thesaurus!

RW: I really like the illustrations for your book. How did you feel the first time you saw them? 
BT: I was blown away. It wasn't at all what I had pictured in my mind, so when I saw how artistically different Mr. Parker had interpreted my story, I jumped for joy. I loved the expressions on the characters' faces, and the teeny tiny details he threw in. He did such a great job!

Author Bethany Telles
RW: Gavin has to wait in a sea of pink. What color would you hate to be surrounded by? 
BT: Anything neon, I think. I'm an earthy-tone kind of gal!

RW: Who do you relate to more in your book, Gavin or Brittin? 
BT: Gavin. Hands down! Haha I am NOT the girliest girl on the planet... Plus, my brother (and his friends) got away with everything when we were growing up!

RW: What's next for your writing? 
BT: Well, I plan on perfecting my craft (if there is such a thing!) and submitting like a crazy person to agents. I am involved in Julie Foster Hedlund's 12x12 in 2012- that's where you write one picture book draft each month this year- so I'm hoping to have enough manuscripts under my belt in case I finally catch the eye of someone willing to take a second look at me.

RW: If you could have lunch with any author, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you want to talk about? 
BT: Good Lord! I didn't see this coming... Well, it's a toss up between Tolkien and Seuss! They both had such deep connections with their own imaginations. I think we would talk about all the people in the restaurant we'd be eating at. I would probably pick one person, then ask them to create that person's life story. Just to hear what they'd have to say? Man... I'd have goosebumps for years!

RW: If you could go on a writer's retreat, where would you most want to go? 
BT: Scotland or Italy. I know they have one in Italy (or did!), but those are two places I'm dying to see. If I'm going to be realistic, though, the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York is up there on my list as well!

Thanks for a fun interview, Bethany! You can keep tabs on Bethany at her blog:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lisa Rose Interview

     It is truly a pleasure for me to introduce you to the next MeeGenius author in my interview series,  Lisa Rose. And what makes Lisa Rose so special? Well, she's a hometown girl! She's in my regional SCBWI chapter and I've had the wonderful opportunity of meeting her in person.  I am so happy that we're both MeeGenius authors now. Truly, it's a wonderful group to be part of, as you've been learning from these interviews. (and there are more to come!)  Lisa Rose is the author of Oh No! The Easter Bunny is Allergic to Eggs!
     Welcome, Lisa Rose!

The Restless Writer (RW): How long have you been writing for kids?

Lisa Rose (LR): I have always loved writing and kids. I was a babysitter, camp counselor, swim instructor, and first grade teacher. I guess you could say that it was only natural that I wrote for children. I studied children’s literature and adult playwriting at the University of Michigan. However, once I started teaching I was so immersed in children’s writing that I began to write less plays and more children’s books.
When my husband had brain cancer, I realized that life was too short not to live your dreams. I loved teaching, but I really felt like I was supposed to write. He recovered, we had a child, I stopped teaching and now I take care of my daughter and write.

RW: You've written a really unique and heartwarming story about the Easter Bunny. How did you come up with the idea for this story?

LR: I was working with an agent. She was trying to sell my Jewish themed pictures books. We had no success. So she suggested I write a holiday book for the mass market. My agent claimed that publishers look for holiday books with unique twists. I wrote the first draft on a long car ride to Syracuse to see my in-laws. And yes, ironically, I am Jewish.

RW: Since this book features a holiday, I must ask, what is your favorite holiday?

LR: I love Halloween because it is just fun! No pressure with presents, family, or dinners. All you have to do is be willing to be silly.

RW: What has been your favorite part of working with MeeGenius?

LR: I have been published in e-mags and in anthologies but this is my first illustrated book. It is so exciting to see my words come alive. I see my stories in my head (in fact I still picture things like a playwright on the stage) but now other people can have that view too.

RW: Do you have any other writing projects in the works right now?

LR: I always have things at various stages, but right now I am more excited about my chapter book titled THE WAR SWITCHED MY DAD. It is a timely book that shows how a family copes with a loved one returning from war suffering from P.T. S. D. This chapter book is like Encyclopedia Brown meets M.A.S.H. It is mystery that also tackles a very serious issue like P.T.S.D. with sensitivity and a touch of wacky humor.

RW: What are your favorite holiday books? (Any holiday)
LR: It’s going to sound cliché but I love T’was the Night before Christmas. It is just so perfect in so many ways. I think this is why it has endured for so long. I liked it as a child and as an adult writer I admire it.

RW: What is your favorite time of day to write? Are you more creative in the morning, afternoon or evening?

LR: I think of my best ideas when I am working out early (4-6 am) in the morning. My brain is crisp and clear and I let it wander while my heart pounds and body sweats. I write down my ideas (mostly on sweaty scraps of paper) and work on them when I have time. I have a four year old with special needs so writing time is scheduled. I have a sitter come to my house to play with her while I work upstairs.

RW: What would you say to an aspiring author who is hesitating on trying digital publishing because they have that dream of a print book?

LR: I would state the fact that Amazon sold more e-books than print books last year. Then I would ask a question: Why would you want to be a cassette tape when you could be an iPod?

RW: How do you get back on track when you're not in the mood to write?

LR: Because of my “mom job” I can’t work every day so it’s a real treat when I finally get a chance to put my butt in the chair and work on what has been rattling around in my head and spilling out onto (sweaty) little pieces of paper. Also, I find when you are paying someone to watch your child you can become quite creative on command---LOL!
Seriously, I find it more challenging to cope with the rejection. If someone says they want to write, I tell them to run full speed into a brick wall 1000 times. If after all that they still want to write, then I tell them to sit down and write and rewrite and rewrite.
The All American Rejects help me too. The song Move Along “When all you have to be is strong move along, move along. Even if you hope is gone, move along move along…right back what is wrong.” To me, this means to just keep writing and learning and submitting no matter how many rejections you receive. Just keep going. BELIEVE. LIVE THE DREAM.

For more info see www.LisaRoseWrites.com

Thank you so much for dropping by, Lisa Rose!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Jennifer Young Interview

Sticking with the MeeGenius new author theme, I've asked Jennifer Young to answer some questions about her adorable story, Poison Apple Pie. (Which is currently a MeeGenius bestseller. Congrats, Jennifer!) You may recognize Jennifer from my blog, as she's been a follower and a reliable commenter for awhile now. I really appreciate that she's taken the time to actively follow my blog so I'm more than happy for this opportunity to introduce you to her.  (And she has a fun blog too.)So, here we go!

Author Jennifer Young
The Restless Writer (RW): Poison Apple Pie draws on popular fairy tale elements to create this new tale. What is your favorite fairy tale?
Jennifer Young (JY): Cinderella hands down. It has every element I love about classic fairy tales; magic, a moral, some justice, and a very happy ending.  I had some funny memories as a kid with my sister. We would act out Cinderella at times. For some reason, I always played one of the ugly stepsisters.  We had my little brother participate too, poor kid.

RW: Poison Apple Pie is a fantastic title. Did it come to you before or after you wrote the story? 
JY: Thanks Sarah, I’m so glad you think so.  I thought of the title during the writing process. I had it as my #2 pick. I almost went with Winka the Witch instead. I took my husband’s advice and changed it. 

RW: How long have you been writing picture books?
JY: I started writing for children back in 2008. I had been a stay at home mother for a little more than a year. My five year old daughter was one at the time and I was very much inspired to try out this new writing adventure.

RW: What are some of your favorite picture books?
JY: When I was a kid I loved (and still do):MISS NELSON IS MISSING! By Allard, Harry and James Marshall (I loved the twist ending) Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel (Tikki Tikki Tembo’s name in itself is like a song) How the Grinch Stole Christmasby Dr. Seuss (Who doesn’t love this one, right?!)
As an adult I absolutely fell in love with: All the Mercer Mayer books, Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Cronin, Doreen (This is one funny book!) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett (Love the storyline, and the silliness of pictures- this is probably is my #1) No, David! by David Shannon (His illustrations are outlandishly fantastic) The Polar Express byVan Allsburg, Chris (I can’t believe I didn’t find this one sooner. It captures the magic of Christmas)

RW: What excited you most about the whole MeeGenius contest process?
JY: The most exciting part was seeing my story illustrated by the very talented Lara Apponyi and getting an email from the MeeGenius Team notifying me that Poison Apple Pie made the finalist round. I opened the email at 9 o’clock at night when everyone was asleep and all I wanted to do was jump around and tell the world. Of course we couldn’t announce it on Facebook or Twitter for about a month. Also, a definite highlight during the process was having the continual support from my family, friends and the community.

RW: Are you currently working on any other writing projects or just enjoying the success of Poison Apple Pie for a bit?
JY: I have a few things going on. Since the beginning of 2012 I joined a fabulous writing challenge where I have to write one picture book draft a month for a year. The challenge is called 12 x 12 in 2012 and it’s hosted by Julie Hedlund on her blog Write Up My Life.  I joined a poetry challenge for the entire month of April at Rena Traxel’s blog. I also have a couple of picture books going out next month to querying agents.  Lastly, I’m waiting to hear back about future edits on a picture book that is currently under contract with Willow Moon Publishing.

RW: Fairy tales seem to be rising in popularity, at least as far as Hollywood is concerned. Are you planning to see Mirror Mirror? 
JY: That one looks great! Julia Roberts is great in everything she's in. Although, I'll skip the theaters and see it when it comes out on tv. I do have a soft spot for fairy tale movies like Enchanted, Happily Ever After, and I’ve even enjoyed a few episodes of the tv series, Once Upon a Time.

RW: What is the best book you've read, so far, this year?
JY: Lately, I’ve been reading mostly kidlit books.  I’ll have to go with My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck. I would LOVE to create a book just like this one day.  As for adult lit I really enjoyed Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. 

RW: Was there something specific that inspired you to write this story or just one of those moments of pure inspiration? 
JY: The story started off as a different type of fractured fairy tale. At first, I created a story where the main character travels into different fairy tales and partakes in each story as a new character. It was kind of like the behind the scenes of a fairy tale. From there, I created the character Winka the witch and in some way it developed into Poison Apple Pie.

Thank you so much, Jennifer, and best of luck with your books! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Gwendolyn Conover interview

Today, I'm spotlighting another of the new MeeGenius authors, Gwendolyn Conover, this year's 2nd runner up in the Author Challenge. Her awesome book, Robot Party is a lot of fun. Check it out!

The Restless Writer (RW): How long have you been writing for children?

Gwendolyn Conover (GC): In second grade, my teacher, Mrs. Spangler, put one of my poems in the glass display case in the hallway at school.  It was a poem about two birds who were in love and sang to each other.  I called them doves in the poem, but really they were inspired by the pigeons in our barn!  So I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve loved putting words together as long as I can remember.  I started really focusing on trying to get published about five years ago.  That might sound like a long time, but there is a lot to learn!
RW: Who are your favorite children's book authors?

GC: Oh, there are so many to love!  But I will try to hit the highlights . . .
I love Dr. Seuss.  One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish was one of my favorite books when I was a kid.  The Pale Green Pants is not one I hear about a ton, but I love that story.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas has so many great rhymes and cool word-smithing.  Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! is fantastic if you love to really get into a dramatic out-loud reading. 

For picture books, I also love Margaret Wise Brown, Karma Wilson, and Mo Willems.

For older kids, one of my favorite books is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is amazing.  I also love Suzanne Collins and Scott Westerfeld.  And J.K. Rowling is awesome, but duh.

I’m sure when I read this later I will slap myself in the head and say, “How could I forget (fill in the blank)!” but that’s a good start, anyway.

RW: How did you get the idea for Robot Party?
GC: It came from playing with my kids, which is where many of my ideas come from.  My son was pretending to be a robot and his arm was a crank.  Pulling it made him say “Please,” or “Thank you.”   That’s actually where the line in Robot Party, “His Thank You Crank is out of whack,” comes from.  My daughter has a great sense of humor and lots of fun ideas come from her.  My kids also ask great questions, and those sometimes spark ideas for books.

RW: For me, it was a tough decision to try for ebook publishing vs. print publishing. Did you have any struggles with print vs. digital?

GC: The high quality of the MeeGenius book collection really turned my head.  I hadn’t really considered e-publication before discovering them.  I hope to also get a chance to go the route of print publishing at some point, but I am thrilled to count myself among the authors at MeeGenius.

RW: What do you do when you're not writing?
GC: Well, I have two kids, and I am lucky enough to spend a good chunk of my time with them.  When my youngest is in school for half days, sometimes I feather-dust four floors worth of antiques or make thirty pounds of mashed potatoes.  (I work part-time at a bed and breakfast and do a little bit of everything, including helping out with large catering gigs.)  I am one of those people that needs my daily exercise, and I also like to spend some time every day reading.

RW: I've always had a bit of a robot phobia (not about your book though). How do you feel about robots, apart from the partying kind?

GC: Ha!  Well, robots can be freaky, I agree.  That’s why I go in for the cute kind.  I guess I dig more of a Rolie Polie Olie kind of vibe versus something like AI or I, Robot (though those are both interesting films).

RW: What was the most exciting part of this whole contest process for you?

GC: Seeing Lucy Mara’s illustrations was very exciting.  Seeing my book in that bright shiny MeeGenius store, and hearing Robot Party read aloud in such a fun way via the Read To Me feature . . . those were very cool moments.  Also, the support and enthusiasm of family, friends and my fantastic little town all meant a lot to me.

RW: Are you part of a critique group or do you go it alone? 

GC: I am part of an SCBWI critique group that I love.  They are responsible for much of my growth and development as a writer, and I highly recommend both SCBWI and their critique groups to any aspiring writers out there. 

RW: If you could hang out with either C3PO or R2D2, but not both, which one would you pick and why?

GC: That is an interesting question.  While I would like to say R2D2 because he’s a fun, adventurous kind of bot, the truth is, I’m probably more of a C3PO kind of person.  I’m not a huge fan of danger, and tend to like to think things through.  Though, I’d like to think, if it was up to me to fight The Dark Side I could be brave. 

RW: I know Robot Party has JUST been published, but are you working on any other books now? 
GC: Yes!  I am trying to finish a YA novel that it seems I’ve been working on FOREVER.  I have a tendency toward obsessive reworking (especially when it comes to word choice and the way individual sentences read) that does not lend itself to finishing a longer work!  But my critique group is a great support, and a few of them are successful novel writers, so it helps that they understand and can offer support (and occasionally, a kick in the pants).  I am also always working on picture books.  Right now I have a couple that are bouncing around in my brain, one growing in complexity, the other getting some polish.  I have a couple of steampunk picture books that I really believe in, and they are ready to query.  I’ve sent them out to just a couple agents, and I need to send out more queries.  I hate querying and often procrastinate horribly when it comes to this part of my quest.

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You can hang out with Gwen on Facebook, or find her on Twitter.
Thank you so much, Gwen and best of luck with all your other creative endeavors!