Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Posting with The Kindness Project

Today's my day at The Kindness Project! High school English class, a poem and a (very short) YouTube video await.

Here's the link: The Kindness Project

(And there's a giveaway of a fabulous middle grade book still open in the post below.) 

Hope to see you at The Kindness Project,

Monday, March 25, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: When the Butterflies Came (with ARC giveaway!)

First, the winner of my ARC of Plastic Polly is . . .
Yay! Please email your mailing address to barbarawatson94(at)gmail(dot)com.

And now, today's middle grade goodness . . .

Having read Kimberley Griffiths Little's books before (and loving how rich her characters, settings, and plots are), I knew I would adore When the Butterflies Came. And, of course, I did. Some authors are like that--you know everything they write will be what you love. When the Butterflies Came releases officially on April 1st, but lucky me, I have an ARC--and now want to give it away to one of you!

The premise: When Tara Doucet's Grammy Claire dies, her world tilts sideways. But the day after the funeral, the first butterfly arrives. And a few days later, a letter from her grandmother (written before she died)--along with a stack of keys. Grammy Claire has entrusted Tara to solve an important mystery. The butterflies, letters and keys take Tara and her sister Riley on an adventure, including a trip to the Chuuk Islands for the reading of Grammy Claire's will. Tara must find the courage and bravery her grandmother trusted her to have.

What I loved: The mystery! Kimberley Griffiths Little leads readers--letter by letter, key by key, and butterfly by butterfly--on a twisty, turn-y, up and down adventure. An added bonus is Kimberley's use of setting. And since this story takes place in several different locations, readers delve into each new place with fascination.

To enter the giveaway for my (signed!) ARC, simply comment on this post by Sunday, April 7th, 2013, by 8pm CDT and have a US mailing address. Blog followers receive two entries in the drawing. Winner announced on April 8th! 

For more middle grade reads, check the links on
Happy middle grade reading! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Plot Walking

Some people think I walk my big dog every day so we can exercise. And still others think I'm such a dedicated pet owner -- walking through snow, rain, heat and whatever else comes. But . . . I have a secret. whispers now and you strain to hear Most days I walk my beloved dog because it's when my writing ideas flow most freely.

So when we walk (even on days like this) . . .

. . . it's not because I'm some health champion. It's not just because my big dog needs to get out and move. It's not so I can eat four pounds of dark chocolate M&Ms.

It's because when I get back, I can write.

Because while I walk, I solve plot snags. I flesh out characters. I allow alternate story routes to roam my brain. I freeflow with new story ideas. I create. I even dream up book covers sometimes. Shhhhh. That's another secret. Jaye Robin Brown once called what I do "plot walking." I love that, so it's what I've officially dubbed what I do.

What about you? How and when and where do you plot walk? If you don't write, where or when do you do your best thinking?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Plastic Polly (with ARC giveaway and author interview!)

Middle school years can be tough. There's no getting around it. In Plastic Polly, author Jenny Lundquist explores one girl's fallout based around her middle school choices. And . . . since Plastic Polly releases next week, I'm celebrating with an author interview and ARC giveaway!

The premise: Polly Pierce is a very popular girl, but in order to get where she is, she made some hard-to-swallow choices. For her, it's worth it. Most of the time. But when her best friend, the even more popular Kelsey, has a freak accident, Polly takes the challenge and becomes PlanMaster for her school's Groove It Up committee. She's hoping she can prove she's more than Plastic Polly.

What I loved: Polly's voice. Because even though everyone thinks Polly is fake, the way she tells this story lets readers know there's always more to a person than what you see and what you think you know.

I purposely kept my review super-short, which I plan to do from now on. My job is to hook you and tell you what I loved. Your job is to then read. :-) Now, the interview with Jenny Lundquist. My questions are in blue, her responses in black.

What do you love about writing?

There are so many things I love about writing. I love that I can play in my imagination for several hours a day and call it work. I love that I can consume novel after YA/MG novel and call it "studying my craft." I love that I can stare out the window and daydream and call it "brainstorming." I love that I can stare at images on Pinterest and call it "research." But mostly, I love taking an idea, or a character in my head, and weaving words together to try to help others "see" the things I see in my imagination. That's a real privilege, and I don't take it for granted.

What do you not love about writing?

For all the things I love about writing, there are definitely days when it feels like "a job." When my kids are sick, and my house is a mess, and the laundry is piled up, but I'm having a hard time dealing with any of it because I'm staring down a deadline, those are the days I'm not particularly fond of, when I feel like my entire life is on hold because of writing.

I also don't love how careful I have to be about guarding my own confidence, if that makes sense. When your work is out there for everyone to see and you read a bad or even just a mediocre review, it can really mess with your head and make you doubt yourself. Sometimes I've had to ban myself from Amazon, Goodreads, etc., because I knew I wasn't in the right frame of mind to hear criticism (no matter how constructive) without it affecting my ability to write that day. And when I'm staring down a deadline, I really need to be able to produce pages without believing I'm the worst writer in the entire universe. I don't think I ever imagined that so much of the writing life after you're published is about learning how to effectively manage your own negative emotions and make choices to keep yourself in a healthy place, emotionally and mentally.

Writing can certainly test one's confidence. It's nice to know published authors still struggle with that too. What is one fun or little-known fact about you (that you're willing to share)?

I secretly name my cars. The first car I ever bought was a metallic blue color which I named "Otter Pop." My current car is named "Callie" after the main character in Seeing Cinderella. But my all-time favorite is my husband's car, which I named, "Machine Gun Kelly." Any So I Married an Axe Murderer fans out there?

I love that!
In college, a bunch of my friends named cars. The only one I remember is Morrie Mazda. Another little personal bit: Would you rather take a jaunty spin in a sports car or hike a mountain trail?

I would love to hike up a mountain trail, then let someone with their jaunty sports car ferry me back down. When it comes to hiking, I'm a wimp.

Thanks so much for having me!

Thank YOU for sharing with us, Jenny! As for the ARC giveaway: simply comment on this post by Sunday, March 24, 2013, at 8pm CDT and have a US mailing address. Blog followers will be entered twice. Winner announced March 25th.

For more middle grade goodness, check the links at
Happy middle grade reading!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stumbling onto Tumblr.

Crazy us. Who needs another blog-type/social media site? Certainly not me. I blog, I tweet, I Facebook. That's enough. I'm not on Pinterest because I don't find joy in pinning. Maybe because the ones I see deal with recipes, cooking, or crafts. And my eyes glaze over. I know, I know. I've heard about the FUN! that is Pinterest, but it's not for me. At least not right now. (I won't use the word never--even with Pinterest.)

I'm not on Instagram either but soon will be. My thirteen-year-old daughter tells me that's where her middle school friends hangout more so than Facebook . . . and "Mom, can I have an Instagram?" Yes, dear sweet one--but only if I'm there too. So, according to my daughter, Instagram is where you hit a middle school audience.

And I'd heard about Tumblr but didn't really get it until I read this post by Lydia Kang.

I spent a few days mulling over her thoughts. Then I joined. Seriously crazy me.

But maybe not.

Tumblr has the power to connect with the young and the super-busy, something blogging does not. And people post less on Tumblr than on Twitter and Facebook, so you actually see what's out there. And you can reblog other's content with a little twist of yourself. But for me, what's most to love about Tumblr is that it allows the personal me, the writer me, and the reading-books me to live all in one place. In incredibly tiny snippets that take no time at all to post.

So maybe it's the best of blogging and social media in one package, tailored by you, to fit you.

If you tumble, tell me your username! If you know any great people to follow, tell me that too. I'm definitely a beginner.

I tumble at Fictional Footprints: