Tag Archives: authors

Author interview with K. D. Huxman

K.D. Huxman’s new nonfiction children’s book (pictured above.)
Author K. D. Huxman
What Ludlow looks like current day
Today’s post is a departure from my usual photography and poetry to share a peak into an interesting new book by a fellow SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) author.
1. Tell us the name of your book and what was your inspiration?

The title is COLORADO COAL FIELD WAR: MASSACRE AT LUDLOW.

My publisher, Apprentice Shop Books wanted to put together a series for middle school and older to highlight events in American history that changed hearts and minds. The Ludlow Massacre was part of a larger conflict in the mines of Colorado that pitted immigrant miners against wealthy mine owners. I’m a transplant to Colorado. The first time I heard about this bit of history was in a newspaper article. It caught my mind. When I was invited to submit book proposal, it didn’t take me long to decide to retell this story.

2. Is this your first nonfiction book? What else have you written?

Yes, this is my first book length nonfiction. I have written shorter biographical pieces for Apprentice Shop Books’ 25 Women You Should Know series. I have two picture books out. For adults I’ve had six novels, three novellas, and a short story published as well as a number of magazine pieces and poetry.

3. Will you have a teacher’s guide to go along with this book?

It’s been suggested that I do so. At this time it is a work in progress. I’ll post it on my website when I’ve got it finished.

4. Your book is about events that happened over 100 years ago, did you find research to be challenging?

The massacre at Ludlow was well documented in the newspapers at the time as well as by the Colorado Militia in regards to movements of troops and the legal actions following the events. There are many photos available. It was a pleasant bit of history hunting to do the research. Ludlow is a ghost town now, but I drove down there and took some time taking pictures and getting a feel for the place.

5. Are there any events present day that you feel are tied to the massacre at Ludlow?

As I was doing my research and writing it was clear to me that there are many corollaries to be drawn from those events over a hundred years ago. In some ways the plight of immigrants and the challenges they faced haven’t changed. The desire to improve our lot in life is a very human desire, and does not fade with time. The struggles to organize the mines and miners helped create the labor organizations we have today. Lastly, the fact that men still go into the earth all over the world to dig for coal and other materials and die in the attempt hasn’t changed. It remains a dangerous job.

You can find K.D. Huxman at:

Http://kdhuxman.wordpress.com

Her book is available now on Amazon.com and Apprenticeshopbooks.com

Why did you name him Charlie?

Two months ago, I brought home a wonderfully sweet Goldendoodle puppy and named him Charlie. The three questions I am most often asked:

What kind of dog is he? What’s his name? (Followed by)

Why did you name him Charlie?

I had decided on the name Charlie earlier in the week, knowing we were going to meet him that Saturday. I thought about other names, tried saying them softly and calling them loudly. I never wavered. Charlie felt right. I didn’t have any specific connection to the name, no it’s not the name of an old boyfriend, I just liked the way it sounded. I had a few other names suggested to me but nothing came close. I waited until the following day, having said “Charlie” to my new bundle of joy many times in the first 36 hours and watching him respond. It’s a happy name that fits the expert criteria of naming a dog: 2 syllables and ending in an E sound so they can distinguish their name from other commands.

It wasn’t until this week, when I reread my favorite book from childhood, All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor, that I realized where my affinity for the name began. This charming story published in 1951 and set in 1912, centers around a Jewish immigrant family living on the lower east side of New York with five daughters. Their family friend, one of only two nonJewish characters in the book is named Charlie. I don’t want to give anything away, because I highly recommend this book, but I now understand why I loved the name from all those years ago.

A writer’s life

I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at a writers conference this weekend with an amazing faculty of agents, editors, and authors. In addition to the outstanding experts, I was surrounded by inspiring writers in my critique groups, workshops, and I also had a fantastic roommate to share writing with.

After the conference, I met up with a friend and came across this quote from Louis L’Amour and it made me think of writing, or more accurately, revising. I’m sure other writers and artists will be able to relate.

Thoughts on book reviews

Recently I’ve seen several discussions about the value or harm of book reviews. Authors need them to help with sales and even negative reviews aren’t necessarily going to hurt sales.

 

Negative reviews Evidently, some people write negative reviews and go so far as to tag the author in them. I’m not sure why anyone thinks that’s acceptable. Bad manners are never okay.There are also many reviews I’ve seen (I only read them after reading a book) that go out of their way to be mean.

The value of reviews Feelings about reviews range from “they are important and I depend on them before I make a purchase,” to “I never read them and I don’t write them.” I weighed in on a Twitter discussion saying I only write reviews if I like a book. I read 50 books in 2017 and liked the vast majority. I don’t think that’s because I’m an “easy grader.” I believe it’s because I choose well. I ask people whose opinions I trust for recommendations and make an educated decision of what to read. Of the 50 books, I didn’t finish one because I just couldn’t get through it. I know it is a beloved book by most people who’ve read it, including people I know well. I didn’t review it because my opinion wouldn’t be helpful to someone considering reading it. I didn’t choose well when I tried reading it.

Writing community on Twitter weighs in Back to the Twitter discussion: One response argued that it’s not helpful if I only write positive feedback. Another went so far as to say, if they read something they don’t like, they feel a negative review might be helpful to the author as a way to improve in the future.

Opinions My opinion, and that’s what a review is – OPINION – is that when you are weighing in on someone’s art, your voice is only helpful to those who share your frame of reference. I occasionally read genres I don’t really care for to expand my horizons as a writer, but I wouldn’t write a negative review. Obviously I’m not the target audience and my opinion isn’t going to be meaningful to a person who likes the genre.

What are your thoughts on reviews? Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Writing Date

I don’t typically write about my own writing in my blog so indulge me, if you will.

Today a friend who is a very accomplished author with wonderful habits and rituals came for a writing date. She explained how she infuses fun in her daily life and writing process. We visited for a while and she met my new puppy, Charlie. 💗🐶💓

Then we agreed to silent, dedicated writing time sitting side-by-side. We’ve talked about how writing alone shouldn’t be hard, but sometimes the focus isn’t there.

It was a lovely morning for so many reasons. I wrote the final draft of the back matter for a picture book and revised another book based on feedback I received over the weekend. Thinking about the ritual of writing and what makes it both gratifying and successful is now something I will consider as I write. I know this will impact my productivity and my enjoyment.

Catalina and the King’s Wall

Today’s post is about a soon to be released book and the current kickstarter campaign. I was lucky enough to spend time with the author at a retreat last fall and we have become friends and writing partners since then.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Boise, Idaho with my husband, a toddler, a dog named Pippa, and a dog named Spencer. I have a BA in Psychology from the University of St Thomas and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. I currently work in higher education and have had my research on attention and implicit processing published in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Consciousness and Cognition, and Psychological Science.

I was inspired to write my first book, Catalina and the King’s Wall, while attending the Women’s March in January 2017. I am excited to say that the book has successfully garnered a lot of attention and pre-orders, well before the launch date of May 5th, 2018. I am also currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise PR funds and also funds for local refugee organizations.  https://www.kickstarter.com/about

My background in neuroscience helped me to write my first picture book. It is designed to be a teaching tool for progressive parents to discuss current events with their young children.

I am an active member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and my local Idaho-Utah chapter of SCBWI. I am a member of 12 x 12, a supportive community for picture book writers, encouraging us to write a new picture book a month. I recently was offered representation by a New York Agency and I am currently working on my second picture book.

What inspired your book, Catalina and the King’s Wall?

I was inspired to write this book after I took my son to my local women’s march in January 2017 following the combative U.S. presidential election. I stood with him on that cold and snowy day and wondered: What kind of world was he born into? How will he learn to always be kind? I was deeply concerned, yet hopeful because of the turnout at the march. I wrote my book to help parents discuss these questions with their kids in a fun story format that children can relate to. I would love for all kids to hear the story of a persistent cookie baker named Catalina and how she never gave up on seeing her family again.

Tell us about your main character.

I really love how Catalina turned out. Catalina is a talented young baker, away from home, happily baking for the king. However, she learns that the king wants to build a wall to keep anyone who is “different” out. She realizes that her family, due to visit her soon, won’t be able to visit if a wall is built. She is too busy baking to take time off to go visit them. Catalina is determined to come up with a plan to stop the king from building his wall. She is persistent, never giving up on her dream of seeing her family. She speaks in baking puns and a positive tone. When she is trying to come up with her next idea, she says to herself “Oh, for goodness bakes!” and when the king demands more of more of her cookies, even when yelling that he does not like them, she thinks to herself “He really frosts my cookies!”

What do you think readers will find most appealing about your book?

I think parents will find the underlying message and subtle political jabs – both in the text and the illustrations – amusing. I think kids will like it because it talks about cookies, cake and frosting! They will like Catalina’s silly way of talking in baking puns and how persistent she is in standing up for what she believes in. She is the true underdog to root for and kids will be rooting for her the entire story!

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a non-fiction picture book biography. I was recently offered representation by a New York Agency, but I am not allowed to say more until a book deal is made – most likely later this spring.

Interview with Diana Gallagher, author of “Lessons in Falling” Raffle to win free signed copy

IMG_0086       Front Cover

#17DABash interview with the author, Diana Gallagher and a chance to win a free signed copy of the book.  Comment on this blog post to be entered in the raffle! “Lessons in Falling” is a beautifully written contemporary YA book. Before we meet Savannah, she’s suffered a career-ending gymnastics injury.  The book takes us through her senior year as she faces challenges in the aftermath of her injury, with her best friend Cassie, and Marcos, a boy from school who shows her a different type of life challenges. I highly recommend this book!

Q. In Lesson in Falling you have three storylines braided together: the friendship between the two girls, the relationship with Marcos, and the challenge of overcoming injury and going back to gymnastics. Where did the idea for the story?

A. The story began as an assignment for a graduate workshop in writing the YA novel. In fact, the first chapter is very similar to its initial draft: a girl who fails her driver’s test for the umpteenth time and takes matters into her own hands. Although I only had one chapter written for the workshop, I already knew Savannah was a gymnast and had a best friend named Cassie.

Q. How much of Savannah’s gymnastics experience is based on your own? Did you have a serious injury?

A. Savannah is a much better gymnast than I was, but we do have several elements in common: we both preferred floor exercise over uneven bars, we both pursued college gymnastics, and we shared the same injury that took Savannah out of gymnastics. Tearing my ACL was a pivotal moment in my athletic career; while I reacted quite differently than Savannah initially does, it was a valuable lesson in perseverance, patience, and fighting my way back due to pure love of the sport.

Q. How much research went into the racial part of the book? Was that a theme you wanted to tackle when you began writing or did it become bigger as you revised?

A. I researched extensively as I pursued the racial portion of the novel. From the outset, it evolved as an organic part of the story due to the prevalence of the real-life issues facing the area the book is based in. At the time I began writing, a federal investigation was launched into the hate crime death of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, in a nearby town. Because I chose to set the story on the East End of Long Island, NY, it was impossible to ignore the contrast between the ostentatious mansions by the ocean and the migrant workers standing on the side of the road each morning, waiting for work.

Q. The issue of suicide is touched on with Cassie, but not fully dealt with. Do you feel that books like Thirteen Reasons Why are exploring the topic or exploiting it?

A. I think works like Thirteen Reasons Why open up the opportunity for conversations between parents, school administrators, counselors, and teens to deal with real issues faced by teens.

Q. Did you have any personal or cultural inspiration for the relationship between Savannah and her parents, especially her father?

A. The original draft of the novel featured a subplot with Savannah and her mother, but I ended up cutting it after the book sold. It’s fair to say that while my teenage relationship with my father was not nearly as antagonistic as Savannah’s is with her dad, my dad has always been a huge champion of my athletic and artistic pursuits!

If Lessons in Falling is made into a movie, who do you envision in the lead roles?

Savannah–Willow Shields

Cassie–Sasha Pieterse

Marcos–Tyler Posey

Q. What can your readers look forward to from you next?

You can find me contributing humorous essays to websites like The Gymternet. In the meantime, I’m continuing to write more YA novels with sporty protagonists in complicated situations!

Comment on this post by Midnight 12/27/17 Mountain Time to be entered to win a signed copy of “Lesson in Falling.”

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The book, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” was a favorite of mine growing up. At the time Brooklyn didn’t have special meaning to me, more on this in a minute, but I loved the immigrant story in this and another cherished book “All of a Kind Family.” That book was closer to my own family’s story and I have fond memories of disappearing into these turn of the century worlds.

On my recent visit to spend time with my daughter who lives in Brooklyn, I took this photograph. Immediately, I was transported to my childhood room, where I spent many happy hours reading and escaping into historical fiction families. As I look forward to 2018, one of my reading goals will be to reread these gems.

Interview with author Carlie Sorosiak and a chance to win a Query Critique

An interview with Carlie Sorosiak, the delightful author of If Birds Fly Back

Read and comment on this post for your chance to win a Query Critique of less than 500 words!

IMG_0086  IMG_0180

  1. In If Birds Fly Back, you have two main characters with an alternating POV. Did you originally envision the story this way?

 

Originally, I envisioned the entire novel from Linny’s perspective . . . but Sebastian’s voice kept edging in. I found him so organic to write. I also love dual POV narratives. I’ll Give You the Sun is my favorite YA novel.

 

  1. Do you have a background in physics or was there considerable research to make Sebastian’s character so knowledgeable?

 

I don’t have a background in physics, no; but I’ve always been interested in science. One of the best things about writing If Birds Fly Back was the chance to research things that I never learned in school. I read loads of books to support Sebastian’s character; I found those by Professor Brian Cox most interesting and accessible. He has a really fabulous book called Human Universe, which everyone should definitely check out!

 

  1. Using MomandDad as a single character through most of the book was something that I found really interesting. Can you talk about that?

 

I think that as most couples age, they start to develop mannerisms and habits that mirror each other. But really I wanted to use MomandDad as this overwhelming presence that Linny views as quite stifling; making them a singular character at the onset felt appropriate to me.

 

  1. Do you think Linny’s mom is the antagonist in your story? Do you think parents should play a big role in YA?

 

I think that, for a while, Linny might view her as the antagonist; in my view, however, she’s just a mom who wants the best for her children, and who doesn’t know the most sensitive way to express it. She’s also someone who has recently experienced a serious loss (her eldest daughter ran away from home six months before the story begins), so I’ve always felt quite a bit of sympathy for her. Yes, parents should absolutely play a big role in more contemporary narratives, because they do in real life. There was absolutely no one more influential growing up than my mom, and I think that a lot of people would answer similarly.

 

  1. What do you think are the most important relationships in the book besides Linny and Sebastian?

 

Linny and her parents is definitely one. Linny and her missing sister, Grace (and all the turmoil and feelings of abandonment that brings) is another. I’d argue that, almost equal in importance to Linny and Sebastian’s relationship, is Sebastian’s relationship with his father, Álvaro Herrera. It’s partially what drives Sebastian as a character: how he didn’t know his father growing up, and how that’s shaped him in many ways. Álvaro has always been my favorite character, and I loved writing the bittersweet scenes between him and Sebastian.

 

  1. Did you end the book thinking you might write a sequel? If so, will Grace make an appearance?

 

I never thought I’d write a sequel. I quite like where I left the characters. But I’ve always thought that I might write a short story about Grace, and what really happened to her when she was on the road. I’ll possibly get to it when my TBR pile is shorter, and when I’m not on deadline for other novels!

 

  1. Imagine If Birds Fly Back is made into a movie; who do you envision in the lead roles?

 

This is always such a difficult question! I’ll admit that I don’t have a ready answer. A reader during my UK tour did suggest Zendaya for Linny, though, and I support that wholeheartedly.

 

  1. What can your readers look forward to from you next?

 

My sophomore novel, Wild Blue Wonder, comes out in June 2018. It’s basically about a girl named Quinn whose family runs a summer camp (which may or may not have a sea monster), and when something awful happens at the camp, Quinn thinks it’s her fault. As she begins to heal, she starts to understand the truth about love, loss, and monsters—real and imagined. I am so, so excited for you all to read it!