How They Got Here: 2009 Debut Author Danielle Joseph

This post is part of a year-long series of blog interviews I’ll be hosting with my fellow 2009 Debut Authors, called "How They Got Here."  

It should be an especially helpful series for teens who write, teachers, and anyone who wants to write for kids.  2009 debut authors will be dropping by to talk about how their writing in school shaped the authors they are today, what teachers can do to make a difference, how they revise, and how they found their agents and editors.  (You’ll even be able to read some successful query letters!)  If you know a teacher or two who might be interested, please share the link!

Today… Danielle Joseph
, author of SHRINKING VIOLET!

So I’m extra pleased that I’m Danielle’s blog tour stop today, since I just finished reading SHRINKING VIOLET yesterday and loved every minute. This is the kind of book teens love for its authentic voice and realistic portrayal of what it’s like to be graduating from high school.

Tere Adams is a super-shy senior who loves music and has dreams of being a radio DJ. Her inner strength is tested when her mom’s boyfriend provides an "in" to the local hit station at the same time a dreaded group presentation at school forces her out of her shell there. As someone who worked in radio right after college, I laughed like crazy at Joseph’s dead-on characterizations of the personalities that inhabit popular radio stations, from the shirt-open prime time DJ, to the music-loving cool guy, to the front desk receptionist. This novel will especially appeal to teens who are constantly attached to their iPods and those who love popular music, and it has a mysterious love interest to satisfy romance fans, too. A fun, fantastic summer read!

Welcome, Danielle! Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote that made you think maybe you were a writer.

"Mommy, Can I Go to the Zoo?" Written and illustrated by me in first grade and laminated by my teacher.

What books did you love when you were a kid?

Pippi Longstockings, all Judy Blume books and I was a big fan of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

Is there a particular teacher or librarian who was a mentor for you in your reading and writing life?

I was lucky to have many inspiring and supportive teachers but I will always thank my mom for reading to me every night.

Moving on to the here and now, most writers admit that making time to write can sometimes be a challenge.  When and where do you write?   Do you have any special rituals?  

I sometimes write in my office and other times I head off to Starbucks with my laptop. Sometimes I sit down with a cup of coffee, other times it’s all about the chocolate. If I’m editing I like quiet. If I’m writing something new, I often turn up the music.

Your favorite strategy for revision?

I like to break things up into segments and I often jump around.

Best advice for young writers?

Be true to yourself. Write what you want!

What’s special about your debut novel?

That I wrote about real people and their fears.

What were the best and worst parts of writing it?

The best was just getting my thoughts down on paper. There really was no worst because I had so much fun writing this book!

How did you find your agent and/or editor?

I read a book that I really enjoyed and then decided to query the agent. She liked my sample and requested the full manuscript and soon after we began working together!

Thanks for sharing your journey, Danielle!

You can read more about Danielle at her website, and of course, you can ask for SHRINKING VIOLET at your local independent bookseller.  You can also order it through one of my favorite indies, Flying Pig Bookstore (they ship!), or find an indie near you by checking out IndieBound!

Three Cheers for Peru Intermediate Readers!

I spent part of Friday afternoon celebrating with Peru Intermediate School 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to mark the end of their big reading incentive month.  While reading is always important, Peru decided to give it some extra attention in May by asking kids to set personal reading goals.  (I set one, too, and finished my 8th book just last night!)  And I wasn’t alone in meeting my goal – check out all these successful readers!

I loved the way the school celebrated.  Since their theme for the month was Lake Champlain, they created a lake in the front hallway and gave each class a ship.  When students met their goals, they put their photographs on the ships and signed them.

The school also gave away 30 copies of SPITFIRE and CHAMPLAIN AND THE SILENT ONE in a drawing for students who met their goals.  By the end of the afternoon, my voice was hoarse from cheering, my hand was tired from signing, and my head was full of great book suggestions from these awesome readers. 

Congratulations, Peru kids!!  I hope you find just as many fantastic books to read over the summer.  If you need some new suggestions, here’s the latest ALA Notable Books list with plenty  of great choices.  Happy Reading!

Authors Who Skype with Classes & Book Clubs (for free!)

Welcome to the Authors Who Skype with Classes & Book Clubs List!  I’m Kate Messner, the children’s author and educator who maintains this site.  I started it because I’ve found that virtual author visits are a great way to connect authors and readers, and I realize that many schools facing budget troubles don’t have the option of paid author visits. With that in mind, this is a list of authors who offer free 15-20-minute Q and A sessions with classes and book clubs that have finished reading one of their books. As an author, I offer Skype chats for all of my titles – check out the “Books” tab above for a list!

 

If you’re interested in booking a “virtual visit” with me, please visit my author-Skype page for current availability and directions for requesting a visit!

How does a Skype virtual visit work?  Click here to read a blog entry about my students’ virtual visit with the fantastic Laurie Halse Anderson. It includes an overview of how a Skype chat with an author might work, as well as tips for teachers, librarians, & book club organizers to help your virtual visit run smoothly.  You can click here to read my first School Library Journal technology feature on Skype author visits, called “Met Any Good Authors Lately? Classroom Visits Can  Happen Via Skype” and this follow-up SLJ feature, “An Author in Every Classroom: Kids Connecting with Authors via Skype. It’s the next best thing to being there.”  There’s also an ever-growing list of authors who offer both free and paid Skype visits at the Skype An Author Network.

Important note for teachers & librarians: Please check with the author via email to be sure he or she still offers free Skype chats before you purchase books or make plans. (Some authors offer only a limited number of free Skype visits, and some who start out offering free visits begin to charge later on.  I don’t always get those updates right away.)  And authors…if you’re on this list but no longer offer free Skype visits, please let me know.

Authors Who Skype With Classes & Book Clubs (for free!)

The following authors offer free 15-20-minute Skype chats with book clubs and classes that have read one of their books! (Many also offer more in-depth virtual visits for a fee.) To arrange a virtual visit, check out the authors’ websites for book choices and contact information.  Then ask for their books at your favorite bookstore or visit IndieBound to find a store near you!

For Picture Book & Young Chapter Book Readers 

Marsha Diane Arnold
Sarah Aronson
Mike Artell
Deborah Blumenthal
Louise Borden
Donna Janell Bowman
Larry Dane Brimner
Susan Taylor Brown
Leslie Bulion
Rachelle Burk
Nancy Castaldo
Tracey M. Cox
Katie Davis
Keila Dawson
Erin Dealey
Lori Degman
Elizabeth Dulemba
Kathy Duval
Carol Gordon Ekster
Jonathan Emmett
Jill Esbaum
Carol Gordon Esker
Julie Falatko
Debbi Michiko Florence
Alison Ashley Formento
Julie Fortenberry
Sonia Clark Foster
Josh Funk
Laura Gehl
Kristin L. Gray
Jenna Grodzicki
Susan Hood
Laurie Jacobs
Lisa Jahn-Clough
Shelli R. Johannes
Rebecca C. Jones
Jacqueline Jules
Jess Keating
Jane Kohuth
Jane Kurtz
Kevin Kurtz
Lindsey Lane
Heather Lang
Kara Lareau
Tara Lazar
Gail Carson Levine
Deb Lund
JoAnn Early Macken
Wendy Martin
Sarah Jane Marsh
Kate Messner
Jamie Michalak
Kate Narita
Christopher Silas Neal
Judy Carey Nevin
Kim Norman
Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Wendy Orr
Ammi-Joan Paquette
Erica Perl
Gina Perry
Annette Pimentel
Sally J. Pla
J.L. Powers
Candice Ransom
Elizabeth Raum
Jean Reidy
Mara Rockliff
Madelyn Rosenberg
Barb Rosenstock
Michelle Schaub
Jody Jensen Shaffer
Michael Shoulders
Amy Sklansky
Margo Sorenson
Ruth Spiro
Sarah Sullivan
Jane Sutcliffe
Jennifer Swanson
Debbie A. Taylor
Holly Thompson
Laurie Ann Thompson
Carmella Van Vleet
Nancy Viau
Stef Wade
Laurie Wallmark
Jennifer Ward
Lee Wardlaw
Dianne White
Robin Yardi

For Middle Grade Readers (Ages 8-12)

Sarah Albee
John David Anderson
R.J. Anderson
Aubre Andrus
Kathi Appelt
Sarah Aronson
Hannah Barnaby
Tracy Barrett
Nora Raleigh Baskin
Dale Basye
W.H. Beck
Brooks Benjamin
Eric Berlin
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Julie Berry
Jenn Bishop
Megan Frazer Blakemore
Karen Blumethal
Ellen Booraem
F.T. Bradley
Larry Dane Brimner
Christine Brodien-Jones
Susan Taylor Brown
Leslie Bulion
Tamara Bundy
Lisa Bunker
Stephanie Burgis
Rachelle Burk
Kathleen Burkinshaw
Dori Hillestad Butler
Rebecca Caprara
Caroline Carson
Nancy Castaldo
Jennifer Cervantes
Paula Chase
Samantha M. Clark
Melanie Conklin
Lindsay Currie
Debbie Dadey
Elisabeth Dahl
Tara Dairman
Danielle Davis
Katie Davis
Kenneth C. Davis
Karen Day
Julia DeVillers
Jill Diamond
Erin Dionne
Bonnie Doerr
Rebecca Donnelly
Gail Donovan
Jen Swann Downey
Kathleen Duble
Kathleen Duey
Brianna DuMont
Sarah Beth Durst
Peggy Eddleman
Mary Cronk Farrell
Jody Feldman
Greg Fishbone
Jo Franklin
D. Dina Friedman
Kimberly Newton Fusco
Dee Garretson
Dan Gemeinhart
Karina Yan Glaser
Chris Grabenstein
Mike Graf
Kristin L. Gray
Amy Butler Greenfield
Danette Haworth
Mary Winn Heider
Bridget Heos
Tess Hilmo
Shannon Hitchcock
Bridget Hodder
Sara Lewis Holmes
Amanda Hosch
Jacqueline Houtman
Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Michele Weber Hurwitz
Mark Jeffrey
Janet Johnson
Rebecca C. Jones
Jess Keating
Lynne Kelly
Derek Taylor Kent
Rose Kent
Morgan Keyes
Kristen Kittscher
Jo Knowles
Jane Kurtz
R.L. LaFevers
Irene Latham
Jessica Leader
Lindsey Leavitt
Claire Legrand
Jarrett Lerner
Gail Carson Levine
Debbie Levy
Joanne Levy
Cynthea Liu
Nikki Loftin
C. Alexander London
Dayna Lorentz
Eric Luper
JoAnn Early Macken
Wendy McLeod MacKnight
Diane Magras
Andrew Maraniss
Leslie Margolis
Nan Marino
Sarah Jane Marsh
Laura Williams McCaffrey
Stephen McCranie
Robin Mellom
Kate Messner
Laurie Morrison
Rita Murphy
Mahtab Narsimhan
Richard Newsome
Wendy Orr
Alexandra Ott
Ammi-Joan Paquette
Mitali Perkins
Erica Perl
Jen Petro-Roy
Sally J. Pla
J.L. Powers
Sarah Prineas
Katie Quirk
Candice Ransom
Elizabeth Raum
Laura Resau
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Yolanda Ridge
Anica Mrose Rissi
Mara Rockliff
Dee Romito
Madelyn Rosenberg
Susan Ross
Dianne Salerni
Augusta Scattergood
Laura Schaefer
Lisa Schroeder
Heidi Schulz
Rachel Searles
Adam Selzer
Liesl Shurtliff
Laurel Snyder
Margo Sorenson
Tricia Springtubb
Anna Staniszewski
Nanci Turner Steveson
Amy Stewart
Catherine Stine
Sarah Sullivan
Jane Sutcliffe
Jennifer Swanson
Elly Swartz
Erin Teagan
Holly Thompson
Laurie Ann Thompson
Melissa Thomson
Jennifer Trafton
Anne Ursu
Greg van Eekhout
Carmella Van Vleet
Nancy Viau
Rob Vlock
J and P Voelkel
Beth Vrabel
Lee Wardlaw
Cynthia Willis
Dianna Winget
Barry Wolverton
Barbara Wright
Robin Yardi
Karen Romano Young
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

For Teen Readers
(Also check out the list of adult authors below; many also work with teens.)

Karen Akins
E. Kristin Anderson
R.J. Anderson
Ann Angel
Kathi Appelt
Heidi Ayarbe
Kim Baccellia
Pam Bachorz
Cyn Balog
Tracey Baptiste
Tracy Barrett
Janice Gable Bashman
Lauren Bjorkman
Deborah Blumenthal
Karen Blumethal
Sarah Rees Brennan
Larry Dane Brimner
Jessica Burkhart
Kay Cassidy
Angela Cerrito
Crissa-Jean Chappell
Paula Chase
Bethany Crandell
Mary Crockett
Ellen Dee Davidson
Kenneth C. Davis
Christa Desir
Stephanie Diaz
Jaclyn Dolamore
Kathleen Duble
Kathleen Duey
Sarah Beth Durst
Debby Dahl Edwardson
Christina Farley
Beth Fehlbaum
Alison Ashley Formento
Megan Frazer Blakemore
D. Dina Friedman
Margie Gelbwasser
David Macinnis Gill
Lori Goldstein
Carla Gunn
Teri Hall
Brendan Halpin
S.A. Harazin
Sue Harrison
Cheryl Renee Herbsman
Jim C. Hines
Jennifer Hubbard
Jennifer Jabaley
Denise Jaden
Lisa Jahn-Clough
Christine Johnson
Jennifer Kam
Tara Kelly
James Kennedy
Jo Knowles
Daniel Kraus
Nina LaCour
Marie Lamba
Kristen Landon
Lindsey Lane
Mackenzi Lee
Claire Legrand
Anita Liberty
Catherine Linka
Sarah Darer Littman
Cynthea Liu
Dayna Lorentz
Amber Lough
Elisa Ludwig
Eric Luper
Sarah Maclean
Torrey Maldonado
Andrew Maraniss
Leslie Margolis
Peter Marino
Laura Williams McCaffrey
Kate McGovern
Neesha Meminger
Dawn Metcalf
Marissa Meyer
Lynn Miller-Lachman
Megan Miranda
Saundra Mitchell
Mike Mullin
Elisa Nader
Greg Neri
Patricia Newman
Caragh O’Brien
Sarah Ockler
Micol Ostow
Maria Padian
Ammi-Joan Paquette
Mark H. Parsons
Jackson Pearce
Ashley Perez
Mitali Perkins
Erica Perl
Amy Plum
Gae Polisner
J.L. Powers
Laura Resau
Beth Revis
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Emily Ross
Lena Roy
Amy Kathleen Ryan
Carrie Ryan
Dianne Salerni
Peter Salomon
Sydney Salter
Karen Sandler
Eliot Schrefer
Lisa Schroeder
Inara Scott
Adam Selzer
Kristina Springer
Alison Stine
Catherine Stine
Laurie Stolarz
Holly Thompson
Laurie Ann Thompson
Tiffany Trent
Melissa Walker
Lee Wardlaw
Carly Anne West
Amy Brecount White
Elaine Wolf
Mary Rose Wood


For Adult Readers
(Also check out the authors listed above; middle grade & teen novels can be great book club selections!)

Michele Albion
Alma Alexander
Amy Alkon
Christa Allan
Charlene Ann Baumbich
Sandra Gulland
Carla Gunn
Sue Harrison
Gail Carson Levine
M.M. Holaday
Sarah Maclean
Andrew Maraniss
Louise Mathewson
Maryann McFadden
Kitty Morse
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
Kelly Simmons
Garth Stein
Amy Stewart
Holly Thompson
Gwendolyn Zepeda
 

For Authors & Illustrators:  If you’re an author or illustrator of a traditionally published book who would like to be added, please email me (katemessner books at gmail dot com) with your name, website, and publisher, and whether you write picture books, MG, YA, or adult.  For the sake of being clear, traditionally published means published in print by a widely recognized children’s book publisher. I recognize that e-books and self-published titles are also part of the publishing world, but a list that encompasses all of those would simply be too overwhelming for me to maintain. If someone would like to start a list of ebook and self-published authors who Skype, I think that would be great, and I’ll happily link to it here. So again…this is a list of traditionally published authors who offer FREE 15-20 minute Skype chats with classrooms & book clubs that have read one of their books.

If you’re a bookseller or book club member, teacher, or librarian, thanks for stopping by – and feel free to comment with any questions!

Revision at the National Archives

Last weekend, aside from researching my new book in Washington, D.C. I got to visit someplace I’ve always wanted to go.

The National Archives is home to the Charters of Freedom exhibit, including the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  They were breathtaking, but it was this document set off to the side, rather than one of the "big three" that  captured my imagination the most.

This is a rough draft of the Constitution.  In 1787, they printed up one of these for each delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and each man marked up his copy with revisions & suggestions.  This one is believed to have belonged to David Brearly of New Jersey, and you can see how he changed phrases, crossed out parts he didn’t like, and added lines here and there.

Now imagine 55 of these marked-up documents in the same room, along with all the folks who did the adding and the crossing out, arguing for their ideas…

I would have loved to see each delegate’s revised version side by side with the final draft, to see whose ideas were included, whose were ignored, and how the compromises happened.  And while I’m wishing… oh, what I wouldn’t give to go back in time and listen at an open window of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, even for a moment.  It must have been an amazing, amazing process.

How They Got Here: 2009 Debut Author Cindy Pon

This post is part of a year-long series of blog interviews I’ll be hosting with my fellow 2009 Debut Authors, called "How They Got Here." 

It should be an especially helpful series for teens who write, teachers, and anyone who wants to write for kids.  2009 debut authors will be dropping by to talk about how their writing in school shaped the authors they are today, what teachers can do to make a difference, how they revise, and how they found their agents and editors.  (You’ll even be able to read some successful query letters!)  If you know a teacher or two who might be interested, please share the link!

Today…Cindy Pon, author of SILVER PHOENIX!

No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger’s subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.

But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn’t only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.

Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.

It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.

Welcome, Cindy! Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote that made you think maybe you were a writer.

probably a short story i wrote in 9th or 10th grade? i won some awards for district writing contests back in high school. made me feel like "a writer" and proud.

What books did you love when you were a kid?

noel streatfield’s dancing shoes and ballet shoes. island of the blue dolphins by scott o’dell. a little princess by frances h burnett.

Is there a particular teacher or librarian who was a mentor for you in your reading and writing life?

mr. cox who i had for ap english junior and senior year. we didn’t do much creative writing, but he was the first teacher to introduce me to elements of style. and remains my favorite english teacher to this day.

What’s your best advice for young writers?

to keep writing. to believe in yourself. push yourself so you can grow as a writer. this is the only way to find your story and your voice.

What’s special about your debut novel?

i think mainly that it features an asian heroine in a fantasy setting that is ancient china.

How did you find your agent and/or editor?

i queried 121 agents and was fortunate enough to sign with bill contardi. we went on submission and my book went to auction. i was able to speak with the editors who were interested, but felt a connection with virginia from greenwillow books from the start. i couldn’t be happier that my book finds home there, and i feel very blessed.

You can read more about Cindy’s writing (and her beautiful brush art) at her website. You can pick up your copy of SILVER PHOENIX at your local independent bookseller, order it through one of my favorite indies, Flying Pig Bookstore (they ship!), or find an indie near you by checking out IndieBound!

Up next in the "How They Got Here" Debut 2009 series… Danielle Joseph, author of SHRINKING VIOLET, will be stopping by on Monday.

Concert on the Capitol Lawn

Has anyone ever noticed that the number of volunteer "research assistants" you have is in direct proportion to the coolness of your research trip?  When I was able to schedule my Smithsonian trip for this weekend, it seemed like a great idea for the whole family to come along, and we’ve been able to squeeze in plenty of fun in between my appointments.  Last night, we picked up dinner to go at the Union Station food court and headed for the Capitol lawn, where they were holding dress rehearsal for the National Memorial Day Concert featuring the amazing National Symphony. Not a bad spot for a picnic…

The actual concert is tonight, and if you don’t happen to be in D.C. you can also see it aired on PBS Monday night at 8pm

Author Visits, Books, & Research Geeks

  • First of all, if you are a teacher or librarian interested in a possible author visit for the 2009-2010  school year, please drop me an email. (kmessner at katemessner dot com with no spaces or anything)  Several people had asked about this before I was ready to start thinking about  next year, and I promised to get in touch when I was feeling more organized.  I have next year’s calendar out, and I think I touched base with all of those folks tonight.  But if not – or if you’re a new person just now thinking "Hey! Author visit!!" – by all means, please drop me a note.
  • I have read a whole bunch of great MG and YA novels lately and promise to blog about them soon.
  • I’m leaving Friday for a research trip to Washington, D.C.  Without getting into too many details about my MG mystery (because I am superstitious that way), I can share that I’ll be spending some time behind-the-scenes at the Smithsonian for this project.  This, my friends, is research-geek heaven. 
Growing up, I was always that girl sitting on the floor in the library stacks. You know the one?  She’d breathe in the smell of books and read through half of recess, always hoping to check out just one more book than she was allowed,  making up reports to assign herself. 

"Gorillas!"  She’d decide.  "I need to research gorillas." 

I’d love to go back in time just long enough to whisper in her ear, "Some day, you’ll get to do research at the biggest museum complex in the whole world."  She’d think that was the coolest thing ever. 

And so do I.

Field Trip Critters

I teach middle school, first and foremost, because I love kids that age and love sharing books and writing with them.  Reason #2?  Probably the field trips.  I have never quite gotten over that feeling I used to get in second grade when I’d arrive at school, see the yellow buses waiting outside, and know that we were leaving.  Walking right out of the building to go to an official interesting place.

My seventh graders and I went to one of those places on the Burlington, VT waterfront today.  We took a trip on the University of Vermont’s research vessel, the Melosira.  If you teach and live within striking distance, I highly recommend this trip.  My group started the day with some activities in the lab, then ate lunch and climbed on board for a variety of lake-science activities.

Our guides used this special net to collect plankton samples for examination under the boat’s two dissecting microscopes.

How They Got Here: 2009 Debut Author Leigh Brescia

This post is part of a year-long series of blog interviews I’ll be hosting with my fellow 2009 Debut Authors, called "How They Got Here." 

It should be an especially helpful series for teens who write, teachers, and anyone who wants to write for kids.  2009 debut authors will be dropping by to talk about how their writing in school shaped the authors they are today, what teachers can do to make a difference, how they revise, and how they found their agents and editors.  (You’ll even be able to read some successful query letters!)  If you know a teacher or two who might be interested, please share the link!

Today…Leigh Brescia, author of ONE WISH!
If Wrenn Scott had only ONE WISH she’d wish to be thin. She desperately wants to be popular and snag a hot boyfriend. Her amazing voice (for once) overshadows her weight when she lands a lead role in the high school musical. Pushing to get thinner by opening night, Wrenn’s waistline shrinks as she learns all the wrong ways to lose weight from a new "it-girl" friend in the show. By opening night, the old Wrenn has almost disappeared. After a crisis reveals her weight-loss tricks, Wrenn realizes there are much more important things than being thin, popular, or even dating a hunk.

Welcome, Leigh! Tell us about the first thing you ever wrote that made you think maybe you were a writer.

My mom signed me up for a poetry class at the local library when I was in the sixth grade. I wrote a poem about my cats Tiny and Tiffy, and my teacher loved it. I thought: “All right! I can do this.”   I can still quote the poem. 🙂

What books did you love when you were a kid?

My mom read to me a lot when I was younger, and I participated in the summer library reading program (you know: read 100 books and get a medal/trophy/certificate), but I remember devouring Sweet Valley Twins and Babysitters Club books. I couldn’t get enough of them.

Is there a particular teacher or librarian who was a mentor for you in your reading and writing life?

Not particularly. All of my English teachers/professors impacted me in some way. I thank a number of them in the acknowledgements section of One Wish. I figured I should thank them all at once, in case I never publish another book. 🙂

Moving on to the here and now, most writers admit that making time to write can sometimes be a challenge.  When and where do you write?   Do you have any special rituals?  Music?  Food & beverages?

Because I teach online English courses, I usually write at night. My mid-morning to dinner hours I devote to grading papers and answering student emails. I do my serious writing when my little girl is in bed. And yes, there are rituals: I must have a glass of milk (and some kind of snack: chocolate, ice cream, cookies, etc.). I listen to music depending on my mood.

Do you have a favorite strategy for revision?

I try to edit as I go. Before I begin writing I’ll re-read the chapter/content I wrote the night before. After I finish the ms, I usually go back and re-read it twice on the computer. Then I print it and break out the red pen. I usually print and edit the ms 3-5 times before I think my agent is ready to see it.

What’s your best advice for young writers?

Read a lot of good books, and keep practicing. Don’t give up! Not everyone will understand why you want to be a writer, but if it’s meant to be you’ll make it happen.

What’s special about your debut novel?

I think a lot of teen girls will relate to Wrenn. I wasn’t overweight in high school, but I had many of the same thoughts and fears. Everyone wants to be accepted.

What were the best and worst parts of writing it?

This was the second book I officially wrote, and I think the best part, as I was writing, was knowing that I had the strength to finish it. When I was writing my first ms, I was so concerned about word count that I couldn’t focus on the story. Since I’d already proven that I could finish a book-length ms, I was able to focus more on plot and character development.

How did you find your agent and/or editor?

After I finished the ms, I bought a copy of Writer’s Market 2004 and started querying the agents who represented YA writers.

Thanks for joining us, Leigh!

You can learn more about Leigh at her website. You can pick up your copy of ONE WISH at your local independent bookseller, order it through one of my favorite indies, Flying Pig Bookstore (they ship!), or find an indie near you by checking out IndieBound!

Up next in the "How They Got Here" Debut 2009 series… Sarah Cross, author of DULL BOY, will be stopping by on Thursday.

Celebrating Children’s Book Week at Peru Intermediate

I spent my Children’s Book Week Wednesday at an extra-special school visit. All this month, the kids at Peru Intermediate School are reading my Lake Champlain historical novels, Spitfire and Champlain and the Silent One with their teachers, while they read other books at home to work toward meeting personal reading goals for the month.  Today, I gave presentations to the third, fourth, and fifth grade classes.

Here are some very enthusiastic third graders.

The kids all had terrific questions, and when I left the presentation area, I found a surprise…

Hallways with beautiful student artwork, inspired by Spitfire and Champlain and the Silent One!  This is one of the things they don’t tell you about when you are about to have a book published…how some day, you’ll be walking down a school hallway and see the scenes you wrote brought to life in color by amazing young artists.  This has happened to me a few times now, and every time, I fight back tears. (Good ones… so thanks, Peru kids!)


This illustration shows a scene where some of the members of Silent One’s tribe are sick from eating flesh from an old pig carcass they found at the French settlement.  My favorite part? Silent One’s speech bubble… "I told you not to eat the meat."

After my two morning presentations, it was time for a luncheon in the library, where I ate cookies, talked with kids about their favorite books, and signed lunch napkins and books (most that I had written and one that I didn’t, but its owner insisted that I sign anyway).  Really, lunch time doesn’t get much better than that.

I’m looking forward to one more visit to Peru Intermediate at the end of this month, when we’ll be celebrating meeting our reading goals and giving away books.  For now…it’s time for me curl up with tonight’s reading.  I still have three more books in my pile to reach my goal!