Interview With YA Author Mimi Cross + Book Give-away.

My friend and fellow author MIMI CROSS, just launched her debut book, BEFORE GOODBYE,  a YA contemporary that’s has all the elements of a page turner – teen angst, love lost and found, dealing with loss, friendship and who to trust, and more.  One lucky reader of this blog will have a chance to win a signed copy of the book.  See the end of the post to learn how.  For now, here’s Mimi:

Hey Darlene, thanks for having me on your blog.          mimi photo

You’ve asked me to answer a few questions, including how I came to write children’s books. This is probably the only thing about writing prose that’s crystal clear for me: the inspiration came from my son.

Up until my son was born, for nearly twenty years, I’d been a singer songwriter. I taught music in the schools for fifteen of those years, after receiving my Bachelor of Music from Ithaca College. I wrote stories as a kid and then again during grad school at NYU, but nothing really came of those efforts, probably because I was so focused on creating a career as a musician—although even as I write this I’m thinking: that’s not totally true. Writing is cumulative, and all creative efforts contribute The Work in some mysterious way.

Performing became impossible after my son was born, mostly because I wanted to spend every second with him. Plus, performing has a lot of moving parts. Some people can tote a couple of guitars and diaper bag at the same time, but not me.

Thankfully, the desire to create didn’t disappear, and when my son was a few years old, I wrote a bunch of stories for him. Two of those stories evolved into projects that were a lot of fun for both of us: The Crankamacallit an iPad app published by Polymash, and The Alligator Waiter, which was published by Abe’s Peanut.

But the thing is? WRITING PICTURE BOOK STORIES IS REALLY HARD. Also, picture books have an extremely important audience, the most important audience, so they have to be great. Or—they should be great. Their simplicity and beauty, among other traits, places them (at least in my mind) among the highest forms of—

Whoa. That’s a lot of pressure.   And under that pressure, I did what any writer would do: I read. A lot.

I’d always been a big reader, but at that point I became a voracious reader. A chain reader. An armchair traveler in every way. I read for escape and for—

Inspiration.

This inspiration, plus Chris Baty’s brilliant and irreverent book No Plot? No Problem got me going—I started writing novels. A few friends had already suggested I might enjoy NaNoWriMo, the wildly popular 50,000 words-in-thirty days writing marathon that Chris Baty founded, and they were right. I loved it. The words started gushing out like blood from a wound.

Another thing that helped the blood flow? Yoga.

I’ve been doing yoga on and off since I was twelve and in 2001, and after living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health for a month while taking their rigorous teacher training program, I became a certified Kripalu yoga instructor. Yoga is a transformative practice for the body, mind, and spirit—but don’t take my word for it. There are a ton of books out there, and a million yoga studios. If you do start taking yoga classes, one thing I can guarantee is that you will begin inhabiting your body in a different way. And if you’re a writer, this way will help you inhabit the bodies of your characters.

A couple of years ago I created a workshop called Body of Writing that combines yoga postures, yogic breathing techniques, visualization, and meditation with writing exercises. Our bodies hold our stories, and Body of Writing safely supports the release of those stories onto the page. I’ve taught Body of Writing as a series, in private standalone sessions to boost creativity, and as a four-hour intensive at writing conferences. It’s such a pleasure to share the very things that have helped me be more creative. I love watching the magic happen.

This same magic is what helped me write Before Goodbye, a process that took several years to complete. I wrote Before Goodbye in between working on two other novels, one of which will be coming out in May 2016, called Shining Sea.

A dark fantasy, Shining Sea is a very different novel than Before Goodbye, which is a realistic, contemporary romance. And while both books are character driven, I think of Before Goodbye as a series of vignettes, while Shining Sea is an epic tome. Out of the two, Before Goodbye surprised me the most. It started out as a completely different story!

But that’s the joy of writing.             Cross-Before Goodbye cover

Cate Reese, one of the main characters in Before Goodbye, is a musician, and tries to control her music. But close to the end of the book, Cate concludes, “Singing with a band is trampolining with your breath. A sound you make that makes you too.”

I hesitate to say that Before Goodbye has a message—that’s not how I think when I write. But I can tell you that one of the main themes of the book is this: If you let it, Art will shape you.
Website: http://www.mimicross.com
To pre-order book: http://www.amazon.com/Before-Goodbye-Mimi-Cross/dp/1503951286/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=
Twitter: @mimicross
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mimicrosswrites             

Here’s the press release:

BEFORE GOODBYE
A Novel  By Mimi Cross

Can Cate recover after losing her friend and muse?

Mimi Cross, an award-winning and celebrated musician/songwriter, delivers a brave and heart-wrenching YA novel with her debut BEFORE GOODBYE (Skyscape, January 1, 2016). During her musical career, Cross has shared the bill with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Bonnie Raitt, and Jon Bon Jovi, and Grammy award-winning artist Rosanne Cash has praised her saying, “Mimi fuses delicacy and power, heart and gut. Her writing and singing are inspiring, evocative and refreshing.” As a novelist, Cross channels the same raw passion and intensity to tell the story of Cate, a young guitarist coping with hurt, confusion, and heartbreak.

Music means more than anything to high school student Cate Reese; it’s also what unites her with Cal Woods. Devoted classical guitar players, Cate and Cal are childhood friends newly smitten by love—until a devastating car accident rips Cal out of Cate’s life forever. Blaming herself for the horrific tragedy and struggling to surface from her despair, Cate spirals downhill in a desperate attempt to ease her pain.

Fellow student David Bennet might look like the school’s golden boy, but underneath the surface the popular athlete battles demons of his own. Racked with survivor’s guilt after his brother’s suicide, things get worse when tragedy darkens his world again—but connecting with Cate, his sister’s longtime babysitter, starts bringing the light back in. As Cate and David grow closer, the two shattered teenagers learn to examine the pieces of their lives . . . and, together, find a way to be whole again.

Beautifully written and emotionally resonant, BEFORE GOODBYE is a mesmerizing debut that reminds readers that you can find hope in times of tragedy—and harmony in times of discord.

 BEFORE GOODBYE by Mimi Cross * On-Sale Date: January 1, 2016
Price: $24.95 hardcover, $9.99 paperback, $5.99 eBook * Skyscape

Now, if you’d like to win a signed copy of BEFORE GOODBYE just leave a comment on this post.  Your name will be entered once.  Tweet about it or share the post on FB and your name will be entered again.  Let me know what you are doing so I can give you the correct number of entries.  You have until Wednesday, 1-27, 2016, when the winner will be announced.  Good luck!

Mrs. P’s “Be A Famous Writer Contest” for Kids.

Pets is the theme of the 7th annual   MrsP.com    Be-a-Famous Writer Contest. The contest is for K-4 classrooms and the winning classroom is filled with books in every format from the generous sponsors of the contest.

• ENTRY DATES: SEPTEMBER 1, 2015.
• Contest Closes: November 15, 2015
• Winners Announced January 15, 2016
• For classrooms K – 4th grade
Mrs. P invites classrooms to write a story on the topic of PETS no less than 250 words and not to exceed 1,000 words. It may be fiction or non-fiction. Any classroom from Kindergarten through 4th grade may enter. Just one story per classroom! It can be a collaborative story, or teachers can have their class vote on which child’s story to enter. While the contest is for classrooms only, parents can participate by telling their child’s teacher about it.  Find all the details at my contest website. http://contest.mrsp.com/

Loner in the Garret: A Guest Post by Jennifer R. Hubbard

The upside to freelance writing is that it’s self-directed. You decide what to wear, where to sit, what music to play, when to start and when to stop, how much to do in a day. All those things that a day-job employer controls are in your own hands when you freelance. (Once you start signing contracts, you have deadlines to meet. But you still choose how you’re going to meet those deadlines, and how much to do each day.)

And the downside to freelance writing is that it’s self-directed. If the choices are yours, the responsibilities are yours also. You can get feedback, but it won’t be consistent: The ending that seems abrupt to one reader will strike another as dragging and drawn out. One reader will call your plot fresh and original, while another considers it predictable. And you will have to decide whom to listen to, what to change. You have the responsibility of sitting down and starting, of revising once more when you’d rather be done, of motivating yourself and coping with the rejections that come.

It can get lonely in the writer’s loft. Without a circle of writer friends to share the experience, I might not have the fortitude or the attitude to sit down and face the blank computer screen again and again. And so I decided to produce a “writer’s companion” in book form, addressing these very ups and downs.      LonerintheGarret_Ebook

Loner in the Garret is a series of short discussions on all aspects of writing and publishing. Ideally, it’s meant to be read a page or two at a time, perhaps before a writing session, focusing on whichever topic you most need to read at that moment. But of course, you can read as much or as little as you want, in any order. You’re the boss … which is your challenge and your reward.

Synopsis: Sometimes the most difficult part of writing is not coming up with a plot or the perfect turn of phrase. It’s getting motivated to sit down and start, or having the confidence to go forward, or finding the courage to move past the sting of rejection. Loner in the Garret: A Writer’s Companion provides inspiration and encouragement for that mental and emotional journey. Covering topics as varied as procrastination, the inner critic, fear, distractions, envy, rejection, joy, and playfulness, it charts the ups and downs of the writing life with honesty, gentle suggestions, and a dash of humor.

For more: http://jenniferrhubbard.blogspot.com/p/publications.html       biopic2

Bio: Jennifer R. Hubbard http://www.jenniferhubbard.com is the author of three novels for young adults, several short stories, and a nonfiction book about writing. She lives near Philadelphia with an understanding husband, a pile of books and chocolate, and a   melodramatic cat.

Creating a Journal: by Suzy Leopold

Can you guess what Andrew Carnegie, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, and Theodore Roosevelt all have in common? They all kept journals. All of these famous individuals wrote in a personal notebook on a daily basis.

Did you know that Leonardo da Vinci kept over forty notebooks? He wrote about his activities, and recorded plans for his engineering projects. If Meriwether Lewis had not kept a journal, while exploring across North America, we would not have a glimpse of his travels, during the time he lived, nor the geographical information that he recorded in his journal. The beloved, world class diary, The Diary of Anne Frank, was written while Anne and her family hid in an attic, from the Nazis during World War II. Reading her remarkable child diary connects the reader to the horrors of the war. President Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth president, kept a kind of diary. On little scraps of paper, he jotted down thoughts and sometimes referred to these notes in his speeches. Our beloved president was a powerful orator. His love for the written word was evident in his love for books. As a young man, Abraham always had a book stashed away. He read whenever he found a chance to do so, sometimes finding a moment in between chores on the farm. On a page from Abraham’s schoolbook he wrote the following poem:

Abraham Lincoln
his hand and pen
he will be good but
god knows when

Do you keep a journal? I hope you do and if you don’t, consider the fact that journaling promotes good health and wellness. Journaling expands our minds. Journaling increases vocabulary, while improving on one’s creative writing ability.

A journal can be kept for a variety of writing topics and a variety of reasons. Perhaps you want to capture a new experience or record something special, exciting and memorable. Perhaps after a crummy day, you may need to vent, solve a problem or unload your thoughts. Do so, in a journal. Jotting down favorite Bible verses, quotes, poems and sayings are all wonderful ideas for a personal journal. A journal can be used to generate a shopping list, make a wish list, or even produce a To Do List.

As a writer, brainstorm thoughts and make lists in a journal. Use a journal for pre writing that is spontaneous and written in a first draft form. Try a strategy referred to as quickwriting. It is an informal ramble of words on paper to develop and generate ideas. Jump start your writing with some writing prompts that may spark creativity. Make a list. Doodle. Sketch. Create a graphic organizer. Think of bold beginnings, mighty middles, and exciting endings. Add mementos and ephemera. Jot down words and more words. Keep on writing. Just focus on your thinking and ideas, not grammar and spelling. The revisions and editing can follow later. Use a variety of writing implements. You can use more than a pencil. Try writing with colored pencils, markers, or even a collection of rainbow colored pens.

Consider sharing personal thoughts, dreams and hopes, as you write. A journal can record whatever is on your mind. Just like reading, writing should take place every day. So grab a writing instrument and a notebook and begin to record your thoughts.

 Materials Needed:

One composition notebook or student journal
Three pieces of 12 X 12 inch scrapbook paper
Glue stick
Hot glue gun                                        September 2010 040
Scissors
Paper cutter (optional)
Ruler
Embellishments
Di cut letters or letter stickers
Ribbon or Rick Rack

Directions:

1. Using three sheets of scrapbook paper, cut two pieces of scrapbook paper 8 X 12 inches.           journal pic

2. Apply a generous amount of glue to the journal, position the scrapbook paper and smooth out any bubbles.

3. Wrap and fold the extended edges of the scrapbook paper, creating mitered corners and secure with a generous amount of glue.

journal 5journal 74. Cut two pieces of scrapbook paper 9 X 6 inches. Using a glue stick adhere to the inside covers of the journal.      journal 8

 
5. Open the journal to the middle section of the notebook that reveals the stitching. Hot glue two or three 14 inch pieces of ribbon on the top edge. Drape the pieces of ribbon across sections of the notebook to become a bookmark. Tie a knot at the bottom of each piece of ribbon.       journal 9
6. Time to embellish your journal with scrapbook stickers and cutouts, etc. Use additional scraps of scrapbook paper. Recycle greeting cards. Use buttons and babbles. Be creative.

journals

 

 

Suzy Leopold is delighted to offer the opportunity for one reader to win a personalized journal. She will create and mail the journal to the winner. Just leave a comment on this post and I will enter your name in the give-away. If you tweet about it or share it on FB, I will put your name in again. If you reblog, you get another chance. Just let me know what you’ve done so I can put the correct number of names in the drawing. Give-away ends on Friday April 3, 2015.

Follow Suzy and her writer friends on their group blog: http://groggorg.blogspot.com/p/meet-grog-authors.html
Word Press: http://sleopoldblog.wordpress.com    suzy pic
Twitter: SuzyK5 Facebook: suzy.leopold

Fifth Avenue Fidos: A New Adult Rom-Com with “Bite” by Holly Schindler

When a mutt from Queens meets a purebred New Yorker, it takes man’s—and woman’s—best friend to convince them what they feel is more than puppy love.

Mable Barker, a hilarious, good-natured sweetheart who is always the pal but never the girlfriend, endures nine horrendous months of bouncing between lackluster New York City jobs (and suffering unrequited love) in her unsuccessful attempt to find her one true talent. So when she meets Innis, the ill-tempered Upper East Side Pekingese, she assumes her dog-walking days are numbered, too; soon, she’ll be heading back to Queens brokenhearted, tail tucked between her legs. But Innis belongs to the adorable yet painfully shy young veterinarian, Jason Mead, a man whose awkward ways around women have him dreaming not of finding love for himself but of playing canine matchmaker—breeding Westminster champions.

When Mable and Jason meet, romance is officially unleashed: they find an instant connection and shared goal, as it appears that Mable could very well have what it takes to be a professional handler, soon to be seen holding Innis under a banner labeled, “Best in Show.” As Jason and Mable get closer to putting a new twist on the term “dog lovers,” outside forces—Mable’s overprotective brothers, a successful wedding planner with her eye on Jason, even the theft of purebred pups from Jason’s Fifth Avenue apartment building—all threaten to come between them. Will Mable and Jason simply let their burgeoning love roll over and play dead? Or will they rally to make sure Innis emerges as the leader of the pack?

Brimming with humor and endearing characters, Holly Schindler’s Fifth Avenue Fidos offers a sweet romance and modern-day fairy tale in which dogs, not dragons, rule the land…a story about the loves that help us realize our dreams.             FAFLargeCover

Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fifth-Avenue-Fidos-Adult-Rom-Com-ebook/dp/B00UCI9ED4/ref=la_B003E3TJ7U_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425769738&sr=1-5

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/fifth-avenue-fidos

The book will also be available through B&N as well. B&N has no pre-order option; the book will go live on March 20. All links to purchase will be found here: http://hollyschindler.blogspot.com/p/indie-releases.html

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25095977-fifth-avenue-fidos?from_search=true

Bio:
Holly Schindler is the author of four traditionally published books. Her work has received starred reviews in Booklist and Publishers Weekly, has won silver and gold medals in ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year and the IPPY Awards, respectively, has been featured on Booklist’s Best First Novels for Youth and School Library Journal’s What’s Hot in YA, and has been a PW Pick of the Week. Fifth Avenue Fidos is her first independently published book. She is owned by a Pekingese named Jake and can be found working on her next book in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri. She can also be found at hollyschindler.com.      

Holly Schindler: Author of FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS.

Holly Schindler: Author of FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS.

 

WRITE YOUR STORY…WITH FIRST LINE.

2015 marks the 17th year of The First Line.  This online publication gives writers an opportunity to see one of their stories in print using the format of the same first line.

Here are the new first lines for 2015.

Spring 2015: Fairy tales hardly ever come true for quiet girls.   (Submissions due February 1, 2015.)

Summer 2015: Laura liked to think she was honest with herself; it was everyone else she lied to.   (Submissions due May 1, 2015.)

 Fall 2015: The old neighborhood was nearly unrecognizable.   (Submissions due August 1, 2015.)

 Winter 2015: George pressed the call button and said, “Mrs. Whitfield, you have a visitor.”(Submissions due November 1, 2015.)

The First Line is available on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006XGLLSU

My Euphoria at Discovering Anaphora: by Beth Ferry

The Use of Literary Devices in Picture Books: Part 1        Beth_Ferry_photo
by Beth Ferry

As parents, we are constantly teaching our children about the world: rules, facts and essential life truths such as: Be kind. Be patient. Bees sting. Eat your vegetables. Don’t eat the sand. Say please and thank you. Don’t step on that ant. As they grow older, teaching can morph into school related lessons: spelling tools, vocabulary words, and math tricks such as Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. As they grow even older, teaching becomes somehow more life affirming: Don’t drive and text. Be kind. Be true to yourself. Do your best. Hold your head up high. High school only lasts for four years.

In return, our children teach us how to be patient and forgiving. How to be creative and inventive. How to be happy. Watching them grow and learn has taught me a lot about myself, and I am a better person because I am a parent. But it is a rare event that I learn something academically new from my children. There are plenty of instances where I’ll encounter something I absolutely once knew, but have lost on the journey to adulthood, like, you know, the sum of interior alternate angles or how to balance a chemical equation. My college major was English after all. So imagine my surprise when, while reading aloud my new work-in-progress, my teenage son says “That’s anaphora.”

Stop the merry-go-round. What is he saying? Is it Latin? Text-talk? A new girl in his class? He explains it is a literary device he is learning about in AP English concerning rhetoric. What? He shows me his list of literary terms and I suddenly morph into a kid in a candy shop, marveling over this plethora of devices that I am unconsciously using and about which I have heard nary a whisper. I scurry off to devour this list, to taste each device and explore my own skill in using such lofty literary language without even knowing it.

There are reasons that these literary devices exist. It is because they work. The use of these devices makes writing stronger, more lyrical, more beautiful. Without even knowing it, I bet you will find your work peppered with polysyndeton, anadiplosis and euphony. Here are some of my favorites:

Alliteration. This one you will know as it is very common in picture books. I love alliteration and I’m sure you are familiar with the repetition of similar sounds in the beginning of successive words. I use them a lot in titles such as Stick and Stone or Pirate’s Perfect Pet.

Anadiplosis. This is the repetition of the last word of the preceding clause in the beginning of the next sentence. So it is almost like a word-segue between sentences. It’s hard to do, but very effective. The most recent and perfect example I can think of comes from the lyrics to the song “Glad You Came” by The Wanted:
Turn the lights out now
Now I’ll take you by the hand
Hand you another drink
Drink it if you can

Anaphora. This device is like alliteration but involving words instead of sounds. It is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of every clause or sentence. The opening of A Tale of Two Cities is the perfect example: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. . . It was the epitome of anaphora.

Anastrophe. Using this device allows the order of the noun and adjective to be reversed – think Yoda. It is also knows as hyperbaton, from the Greek meaning ‘transposition’. Poe uses this device to great effect, “Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing.”

Assonance. Like alliteration, assonance repeats sounds, but the sounds produced by the vowels only, such as “purple curtain”. In the same vein, consonance is the repetitive use of the consonant sounds, usually at the end – stuck, streak, luck. You probably use both of these without even knowing it.

Beth will return with MORE LITERARY DEVICES next month.  Rest assured…there are LOTS more!

Beth Ferry lives and writes near the beach. Her debut book, Stick and Stone, will be released on April 7, 2015 by HMH. Land Shark (Chronicle) will be released in Fall 2015 and Pirate’s Perfect Pet (Candlewick) follows in Fall 2016.  stick and stone cover