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In the Middle with Ryan Gebhart

ROAR! Today we are in the middle with Ryan Gebhart and his wonderful debut There Will Be Bears:

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Thirteen-year-old Tyson loves spending time with his roughneck grandpa Gene, who’s a lot more friend than Tyson’s ex-best friend, Bright. These days, Bright just wants to hang with the cool kids, who make fun of Tyson’s Taylor Swift obsession and dorky ways. When Gene moves to a nursing home that can manage his kindey disease, Tyson feels he is losing his only friend. So, defying his parents’ strict instructions, Tyson sneaks off with Gene on his first elk hunt, despite reports of a stalking man-eating grizzly.

There will be action–like shooting elk. Is Tyson tough enough?

There will be suspense–is Grandpa Gene too sick to handle the hunt?

And yes, there will be bears.

There Will Be Bears is available on IndieBound, B&N, Amazon, and in bookstores near you.

What draws you into writing for a middle grade audience?

Middle school kids are awkward and bizarre from an adult perspective, but they’re just desperate to fit into their own skin, to fit in with their friends, and to discover their own identity. Being able to speak to MG’ers and to represent them in this coming-of-age time is a complete honor, because I remember just how much the things I loved stuck with me at that age.

If you had a time machine and could visit middle-grade you, what would you tell him?

You’re gonna do it, kid. You think you’ll be an author at fifteen but you won’t even be close. But you won’t give up because this is what you want, and you’ll only know when you’re thirty one just how much work it will take to get published.

Choose your own adventure: Is there an interview question you’d love to answer, but haven’t been asked?

Q: Do you really think you’re going to score a date with Taylor Swift?

A: I bear swear it’s going to happen.

I believe you. Thanks for dropping in, Ryan, and congrats on your debut!

Ryan Gebhart was born and raised in Maumee, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio University with a master’s degree in Spanish. Having held twenty-one jobs in his life, he can do lots of unexpected things, from wiring a house to painting portraits to quartering large game to making a fierce smoothie. There Will Be Bears was inspired by a gig working at a hunting ranch in western Wyoming. Ryan Gebhart lives in Ohio.
Connect with him on Goodreads and Twitter.

Did the Chicken Cross the Road? The Mystery of the Missing Phyllis

Some of you may have heard that our beloved Phyllis Diller disappeared last week.

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It looked as though she had run away when our yard service came and had the gate open. If she was alive and well, we were certain she would have returned to the coop. Our girls don’t really like to wander. And she’s so little, even a cat could have gotten her. After three nights away from the coop, we had given up hope.

We accepted that she would not be coming home.

BUT THEN…

On Thursday, I was working at my desk, when I heard a tap at the back door, accompanied by the loudest squawk ever uttered by any hen. I looked through the window, and low and behold, the prodigal Phyllis had returned! Not only had she returned, but in true diva fashion, she was demanding treats. We gave her some.

Where had she gone? What had she been doing? It was a mystery. The day was rainy, but Phyllis was dry. Her normally grayish white feet had taken on a pink hue. Had she gotten sore feet from walking on pavement? A long adventure on suburban sidewalks? If so, how had she remained dry?

We couldn’t figure out what had happened, but were happy to have her home.

BUT THEN…

On Friday, she disappeared again. She was gone all afternoon and did not turn up in the evening. All our birds put themselves to bed in their warm and dry coop before the sun goes down, but once again, Phyllis was absent.

We had searched the yard when she first went missing and had not found her. Our yard is not very big and has few hiding places anyway. However, when she didn’t appear Saturday morning, Walt conducted his own search. I imagine his police training came in handy, for he discovered what Hannah and I could not: Phyllis’s hideout.

Way in the back of the narrow gap between the shed and the fence, under a bit of plywood left over from when we built the chicken coup, Phyllis had built a secret nest.

(Let it be noted, I had looked under that plywood myself, but she stayed hidden, quiet and deep in the shadows. $&*@ bird.)

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That is about three weeks’ worth of eggs. Walt found her trying to sit on all of them at once. Broody hens can sit on their clutch of eggs for days, not even getting up for food and water.

I haven’t conducted any chicken health classes so I suppose Phyllis can’t be blamed for not knowing that it takes a rooster and a hen to get chicks*.

But what of the reddish, pavement sore feet? Google assures me that pink feet can be a result of becoming a bit chilled. Becoming a bit chilled can be a result of staying out all night.

Mystery solved.

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*A rooster and a hen…or a feed store.
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Apparently Phyllis and I are of the same mind when it comes to wanting spring chicks.

Meet Liza Minnelli and Apple. What have we gotten ourselves into now?

On My Mind: April 9, 2014

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Book things. Only book things.

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“Words! Words! Words!” —Eliza Doolittle (and me)
I am working on a new book, with a need to get a readable draft finished rather quickly.

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Due to the aforementioned book, the Pomodoro Method has become my friend. Basically, this method dictates you work on a task for 25 minutes (or one pomodoro) then take a five minute break. After four pomodoros you take a longer break, 15-20 minutes. It has really helped to keep me from straying over to twitter when I can’t think of a word I want to use.

Any timer would work, but I use an app on my mac. I like because it puts a little countdown clock in the corner of whatever window I have open. See:

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I’m finding it much easier to stay on task when I can see that I have a break coming up. I live for those breaks.

On days where I need extra help focusing, I also use the Freedom app. It locks me out of the internet for whatever predetermined time I have set. And there is no way to turn it off. You just have to wait it out. It’s a dream (and a nightmare)!

What tricks do you use to keep from getting distracted?

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There is no three, only Zuul.

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Last month I got to take part in my first ever public reading of Hook’s Revenge as part of a local 2014 Kidlit Debuts panel. I had a great time with Robin Herrera, author of Hope is a Ferris WheelChris Struyk-Bonn, author of Whisper; and Mary Elizabeth Summer, author of Trust me, I’m Lying at A Children’s Place Bookstore in Portland.

Want to see some pictures? OKAY.

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I’m not a giant. It’s the angle, I promise.

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Hook’s Revenge has been available for pre-order in hardcover for some time. Some of you have asked when the e-version would be available for pre-order. The answer is now:
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Kindle
Hardcover buying options are linked to on my books page. Both paper and electronic versions release September 16.

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Gosh, I love you.

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I’m working on planning a couple of International Talk Like a Pirate Day Weekend/Book Launch parties, one in Portland and one in Salem. Locals, mark your calendars for September 19th and 20th and watch this space.

Please note: There will be costumes.

What’s on your mind?

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