In the Middle with Robin Herrera

Heavenly donuts! Today we are In the Middle with the talented Robin Herrera, author of Hope is a Ferris Wheel.

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Ten-year-old Star Mackie lives in a trailer park with her flaky mom and her melancholy older sister, Winter, whom Star idolizes. Moving to a new town has made it difficult for Star to make friends, when her classmates tease her because of where she lives and because of her layered blue hair. But when Star starts a poetry club, she develops a love of Emily Dickinson and, through Dickinson’s poetry, learns some important lessons about herself and comes to terms with her hopes for the future.

With an unforgettable voice with a lot of heart, Hope Is a Ferris Wheel is the story of a young girl who learns to accept her family and herself while trying to make sense of the world around her.

Hope is a Ferris Wheel is available on Barnes and Noble, Powell’s, IndieBound, Amazon, and in bookstores near you.

Q&A with Robin

What draws you into writing for a middle grade audience?

Middle Grade is pure fun! I wrote a lot of YA in college, and fell into MG when I started working at an elementary school as part of a work-study program and interacting with younger children. I spent the next six years of my life working in elementary schools, and I think being with that age group for so long is what drew me into writing for them. (I still write YA occasionally!)

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

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“Read more fiction!” I read a lot of non-fiction in elementary school, but fell in love with the few middle grade novels I did read, like I AM REGINA by Sally M. Keehn and JACOB HAVE I LOVED by Katherine Paterson. I’d probably tell myself to read THE GIVER and HOLES and to give the Harry Potter series a chance when it comes out. (I stubbornly refused to read it until college. WHUT.)

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

Yes! I’ve always wanted someone to ask what Hogwarts House I’d be in, because I think they’d be surprised by the answer. I’d probably be in Slytherin, because I’m not that brave, or smart, or loyal, but I am very ambitious, and when I was little I was always trying to prove myself. Also, I’ve got horcruxes.

Horcruxes are a big clue, yes. (Secretly, I think I’m a Hufflepuff.) Thanks for stopping in and congratulations on your launch!

Robin Herrera is an aspiring cat lady living in Portland, Oregon with her fiancé and one very mean (but very precious) cat. She received her BA from Mills College and her MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When not chasing cats, she can be found at her desk at Oni Press, where she works as an associate editor, or at the library, where she severely abuses the hold system.

Connect with Robin on her website, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Heidi—Live and In Person

Shhh. If you are very, very quiet, you might soon be able to see a rare Heidi in the wild. Check it out:

This Sunday I’ll be at A Children’s Place Bookstore in Portland with a panel of other 2014 debut kidlit authors.  We’ll give you a sneak peek and a reading from our upcoming releases. This will be the first time I will publicly read from Hook’s Revenge. Who knows what might happen? Maybe I’ll forget how to read! Maybe I’ll throw up! Maybe I’ll sneezefart and have to move away and change my name! You really won’t want to miss this. Details here.

Next weekend I’ll be giving a SCBWI workshop on using Twitter in your writing career.  Details here.

I’ll have Hook’s Revenge postcards and bookmarks at both these events. I’m happy to sign one for you.

I mean, if you want.

(Though I can’t quite imagine that anyone would care about my signature unless they are trying to forge loan documents or some such thing. Please don’t do that.)

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P.S. There’s still time to win an advance copy of Hook’s Revenge over on The Midnight Garden YA. Go now or forever be sorry.

 

In the Middle with Louise Galveston

Today on In the Middle, we are speaking with Louise Galveston, author of By the Grace of Todd.

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Todd’s room borders on Hoarders-level messy. We’re talking Roomageddon here. When his mom gives him the ultimatum to clean it or miss his best friend’s birthday bash, Todd makes an amazing discovery: he has created an entire civilization of ant-sized people from the sheer grossness on his filthy sock. The “Toddlians” put their faith in their all-powerful creator, but can the kid who can’t even keep a hermit crab alive save them from Max Loving, the biggest bully at Wakefield Middle School?

By the Grace of Todd is available on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Indiebound, and bookstores near you.

Q&A with Louise

What draws you into writing for a middle grade audience?

I was an early reader, but it was the books I read during my middle grade years that inspired me to want to actually try new things. You know, eat fried worms (I attempted this, but couldn’t bring myself to swallow it down!), write everyone’s secret lives in a spy notebook, and sleep with my feet on my pillow, a la Pippi Longstocking. Somehow I never quite got away from my middle grade self. She’s still chasing crazy dreams and trying to figure out where she belongs in the world. Only she’s usually disguised as a twelve-year-old boy. My sense of humor is definitely stuck in sixth grade!

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

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Keep your head in the clouds, Dreamer. Don’t listen to the “cool kids” who want to clone you into one of their followers. Don’t give up playing the trumpet, drawing, riding horses, or dancing. You won’t have buck teeth forever, Bugsy. Even though you think tiny town Kansas is the end of the earth, don’t despair, your future husband is on that dusty yellow bus, right across the aisle from you. (I think I’d hold back the part about having eleven kids to give the husband a fighting chance.) :)

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

If you could spend a day with any author, who would it be?

I’d like to go back in time and hang out with Lucy Maud Montgomery. I’d pick her brain about writing humor and yet being such a genius with setting… in my mind she’s the consummate writer. I’d also like to show her how much her work would impact the world and encourage her in her last days.

Great interview questions, Heidi! Thanks for having me, this was fun!

Thank you, Louise, and congratulations on your launch!

Louise Galveston grew up on horseback in the Midwest. The only thing that could pull her out of the saddle was a great book or a game of Star Wars. The lone girl in her neighborhood, she always got to play Princess Leia, thus her mad lightsaber skills. (Yes, she had the cinnamon roll side-bun hair.) Louise even cleaned her room on occasion, but never found anything but a rogue hamster under her bed. Louise still lives in the Midwest. When she’s not writing, she directs children’s theater and dabbles in watercolor. She is proud to say that some of her eleven children have inherited her horsey genes and all of them love Sea-Monkeys. (Her first obsession with tiny creatures.)
Connect with Louise on her website or a special website created for By The Grace of Todd, twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads.

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In the Middle with Gayle Rosengren

This week, we are In the Middle with Gayle Rosengren and her middle grade debut, What the Moon Said.

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Thanks to her superstitious mother, Esther knows some tricks for avoiding bad luck: toss salt over your left shoulder, never button your shirt crooked, and avoid black cats. But even luck can’t keep her family safe from the Great Depression. When Pa loses his job, Esther’s family leaves their comfy Chicago life behind for a farm in Wisconsin.

Living on a farm comes with lots of hard work, but that means there are plenty of opportunities for Esther to show her mother how helpful she can be. She loves all of the farm animals (except the mean geese) and even better makes a fast friend in lively Bethany. But then Ma sees a sign that Esther just knows is wrong. If believing a superstition makes you miserable, how can that be good luck?

Debut author Gayle Rosengren brings the past to life in this extraordinary, hopeful story.

Advance praise for What the Moon Said:

“A coming-of-age tale gets to the heart of family dynamics in the face of drastic life changes in the earliest days of the Depression… Sensitive and tender.” — Kirkus
“…heartwarming story…engaging historical fiction” — Booklist
“…Esther makes the most of each day, asks little, and gives much.” — Publishers Weekly

What the Moon Said is available on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, IndieBound, and bookstores near you.

Q&A with Gail

What draws you to writing for a middle grade audience?

I write middle grade because I think it’s key to creating life-long readers.  Newly independent readers who discover the thrill of being caught up in compelling fictional worlds or illuminating non-fictional ones will almost certainly be book lovers forever.  The door to reading is always open but never so wide and invitingly as it is during the middle grade years when youngsters are discovering for the first time the amazing places that a book can take them.  These books often make such indelible impressions on readers that they remember them years after closing their covers. Writing for middle graders is a unique opportunity to touch children’s lives in a truly significant way.  It’s a privilege and a responsibility that I embrace as enthusiastically as these readers embrace their favorite middle grade books.

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

Gayle at 13

I’d say, “Don’t be afraid to dream of someday writing books like the ones you love.  Being an author is within your reach if only you love words and stories enough and will work hard, have faith in yourself, and never give up.”

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

I’d ask, “You say that your mother and grandmother were the inspiration for your book.  Does that mean it’s not really fiction?”

What the Moon Said is definitely fiction.  It was the relationship between my mother and my grandmother that inspired the storyline, and even that was just my impression of their relationship.  It wasn’t necessarily correct or “true”.  A few incidents in the book were inspired by true events, but even those were changed in the telling for dramatic purposes.  My mother and her girlhood provided the seeds for any number of possible stories.  I planted them in a certain way and coaxed them to bloom in a unique pattern, to create a story that I hope readers will perceive as beautiful.

It was a pleasure having you, Gayle. Congratulations on your debut!
 

Gayle Rosengren writes full-time in her home just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband, Don, and slightly neurotic rescue dog, Fiona. Gayle is living her dream, writing books she hopes will make the same difference in children’s lives as her favorite books and authors made in hers. What the Moon Said is her first novel. Connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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On My Mind: February 26, 2014

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Book news! Hook’s Revenge has a cover and you can see it!

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Head over to The Midnight Garden—YA for Adults to see the full jacket (I love the back cover almost as much as the front), hear my thoughts about it (Spoiler: lots of these !!!!!), and enter to win an advance reader copy and some pirate treasure!

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Speaking of advance reader copies, I just got home from New York and these where waiting to welcome me home.
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This. Is. Happening.

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Speaking of New York, I had an absolutely lovely time. I went to the Bi-Annual International SCBWI Conference. I spent time with friends. I ate pie.

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Here I am looking awful with people I quite like: my agent, Brooks Sherman, and 2015 debut author Adam Silvera.

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If this wasn’t so blurry, you’d see me looking less awful with more people I like very much: both my editors, Mary Kate Castellani (Bloomsbury Kids) and Rotem Moscovich (Disney*Hyperion).

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I was only gone a few days but when I came home, bulbs were popping up through the ground. I think spring is on the way. Hallelujah! Our chickens should start laying again soon.

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I am sort of obsessed with the Coraline soundtrack at the moment. Especially this song:

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