Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Author Natalie Harnett shares about her journey to publication + Giveaway


Dear Readers,

Please welcome a dear friend, Author Natalie Harnett, whose debut novel and background story to publication is perfect for starting off the New Year! Natalie is generously donating an autographed copy of her novel,  The Hollow Ground--an extraordinary debut of literary fiction. For a chance to win a copy of this award winning book, please leave a comment below for Natalie. Thank you!

My Journey to Publication by Natalie Harnett

I grew up in Queens, New York and for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to write. I think my love for language came at a young age and was fostered by the many afternoons I spent reading early twentieth century poems to my maternal grandmother. My family’s love of made up words and my paternal grandmother’s broken English—she was an ethnic German immigrant from Slovenia—also helped.

Though I did well in school, I had a poor understanding of grammar until I taught it to myself during my first year of graduate school. Oddly enough, I think my lack of knowledge of grammar and punctuation gave me a kind of freedom with language that I wouldn’t have otherwise felt. It seems strange to say, but I’m actually glad I didn’t learn grammar until I was an adult!

During grad school I wrote a novel and then later wrote several others.  Those novels won some literary awards but never got published.  In a way, I’m grateful for that. I don’t think the writing in them is as strong as the writing in my debut, The Hollow Ground, and if they’d been published, I’m not sure how well they would have done.

Those previous novels were all in third person and were inspired largely by personal experience.  By the time I was ready to start The Hollow Ground, I knew I wanted to start something new.  I wanted to try first person and I wanted to do something that I had not personally experienced.  My mom has always said that people love to learn something when they read, so I was thinking historical fiction.  I love history.  I also always start with place when I write, and the place that my imagination kept returning to was the city of Carbondale, PA.

While I was a young child my grandfather lived in the Pocono area of Pennsylvania and through him, I became familiar with the nearby city of Carbondale.   There was something about the city’s steep, narrow streets and large old homes that called to me. From my grandfather’s neighbor I’d heard about how coal mine fires had sunk houses and poisoned people, but at that time, I’d had no intention of writing about a coal mine fire.  In fact, I didn’t even know about Carbondale’s fire until I started doing research on the city.

Gradually, as I learned more and more about that fire and the horrific conditions the residents had survived, I knew I also wanted to tell the story of the fire.  That’s when The Hollow Ground started to take shape.  Up until then, I’d thought the novel would be about a gift for healing that Brigid had inherited from her Auntie.  But the story of the fire soon overtook the story of Brigid’s healings, and I was forced to scrap the bulk of the novel I’d already written and start anew.

By that time I was pregnant and deeply concerned that I’d never manage to complete the novel once the baby was born.  As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.  My baby’s first year of life was the most productive writing year of my own life!  She had colic and I’d spend hours in a rocking chair, holding her in my left arm while writing with my right.  My incredibly supportive family also did everything they could to give me time to type and rewrite.  I couldn’t have done it without them. Now my daughter is five and it’s such a pleasure to see her get a kick out of ‘Mommy’s book’ being on a library shelf.  It’s truly a dream come true.

Currently, I have two projects in the works. One is an outline for a novel about a 64 year old woman, a former child refugee, who finally learns to love. And the other is a novel set in the 1950s that is inspired by my great grandmother’s and her servant’s lives.  My great grandmother was a diamond dealer, and she came over from Amsterdam under very shady circumstances.  Her servant was a white woman who was basically her slave.  That servant was never paid a dime, never had a day off and, once she became too old to work, my great grandmother gave her away to my grandmother.
Their story has haunted me since I was a little kid, and it’s been a very powerful experience writing about them.  What’s also been a powerful experience is learning, through my research, about New York City’s significant slave history. I knew almost nothing about it and that history gets incorporated into the novel as well. Oh, and my great grandfather’s Queens speakeasy gets some mention, too.



Review: The Hollow Ground by Natalie S. Harnett (Thomas Dunne Books). In this evocative debut novel, a 12-year-old girl narrates the story of her family's life in a mining town where the very bowels of the earth are ablaze. Brigid Hawley is as unforgettable as Francie in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," and hands down this is the best novel of 2014. ~Providence Journal

Plot summary: Inspired by real-life events, the underground mine fires ravaging a Pennsylvania coal town lead eleven-year-old Brigid Howley to make a grisly discovery in a long-abandoned bootleg mine shaft. In the aftermath, old secrets threaten to prove just as dangerous to the Howleys as the burning, hollow ground beneath their feet.

Honors and Awards: THE HOLLOW GROUND won the 2015 John Gardner Fiction Book Award, the 2014 Appalachian Book of the Year Award and was long-listed for the 2016 International Dublin Literary Award.


Author Natalie Harnett
Natalie S. Harnett has an MFA from Columbia and has been awarded an Edward Albee Fellowship, a Summer Literary Seminars Fellowship, and a Vermont Studio Center Writer’s Grant. Her fiction has been a finalist for the Mary McCarthy Prize, the Mid-List Press First Series Award for the Novel, the Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers, and The Ray Bradbury Short Story Fellowship.  Her work has appeared in the Chicago Quarterly Review, The Irish Echo, The Madison Review, The MacGuffin and The New York Times.

Learn more about the author: www.natalieharnett.com

Follow her On Facebook and Twitter:

https://www.facebook.com/NatalieSHarnett

https://twitter.com/nataliesharnett

Thanks, dear readers, for stopping by to read the post and share with us in the comments below. The winner of The Hollow Ground, will be announced in about a week. (If you're new to the blog, please include a way for me to reach you if your comment number is picked by random.org. Much appreciated.)

Happy New Year!
~Clara

Monday, December 12, 2016

Interview with K.L. Going + Winner of SECRETS IN THE SNOW

Dear Readers,

I know you're eager to learn the winner of Michaela MacColl's exciting novel, Secrets in the Snow, but THIS week the winner will be announced at the end of the blog!

First, please welcome award winning author, K.L. Going, in this special, unannounced interview. Kelly and I are co-faculty for an upcoming workshop, Novel Beginnings, from March 16-19 for Highlights Foundation with special guest editor, Andrea Tompa from Candlewick Press.
And NOW, here's K.L.!! 

Author K.L. Going and her FAVORITE distraction
Q. What makes the start of a novel so challenging?
K.L. - Whenever I'm writing a new novel, the section I read and reread the most is the opening chapter. There is so much that has to be introduced right away, and all of it has to be done in an artful way so that readers don't feel like they're receiving an information dump. Key features of the characters and plot must *pop* enough to be memorable, but they're competing with every other element that needs to be established from page one -- like setting, tone, and the most important feature of the plot: what does this character want or need? That's no small order, right?

Meanwhile, an author is also dealing with that feeling in the pit of the stomach that happens when you think about all of the blank pages ahead that haven't been written yet. Ha. Suddenly, the great idea that seemed so amazing before you sat down to actually write it, can begin to feel like maybe it's not so great after all. Especially when you read your first draft.

My solution? Recognize right from the start that the opening of your novel is going to take multiple revisions in order to get it right. It's going to take work. Editing. Taking the time to think through those fundamental decisions about what makes your character and plot tick will make your book so much stronger later on. Planning pays off, and expectations matter.

Q. What do you know now that you wish you'd known at the start of your career?

K.L. - Marketing. Groan. Many authors feel like this is the bane of our existence. I'd rather just write books. That's what I'm good at. BUT... marketing has become an indispensable part of an author's job. I wish that ten years ago I'd understood the importance of gathering names and e-mail addresses for a mailing list, but at that time having a website felt like an achievement.

Q. What is one common mistake you see when critiquing new writers?
K.L. - One of the most common mistakes I see is that the plot of the novel feels episodic. You can have a strong character, a compelling idea, and clean prose, but if the through line of your plot isn't strong and fails to connect each and every event in a meaningful way, the story will feel like a collection of events and it will fail to have that snowball effect which keeps a reader turning the pages because the story is building towards a conclusion, gaining speed and urgency as it goes along.
 
Q. What are you most looking forward to about our upcoming Highlights Foundation workshop, Novel Beginnings?

K.L. - Having a span of time removed from the demands of my daily life (child care, laundry, grocery shopping!) to focus on writing. Even as a teacher, I always come away feeling rejuvenated and inspired to write more. Write better! I always learn new things. A friend of mine, Lisa Grace Byrne, founder of Well Grounded Life, talks about giving yourself permission and graces. Attending a workshop means I'm giving myself permission to pursue my passion, and the grace to try something new, even if that means making mistakes or taking risks. If I've given myself permissions and graces, I can enjoy focused, quality writing-centered time without judgement, and that is such an amazing gift!

Learn about our upcoming workshop by clicking on the link: Novel Beginnings: Building Strong Foundations for Your Novel and Your Career 2017

Our workshop is perfect for advanced beginners. Kelly and I will review up to 50 pages of a w-i-p, give authors detailed feedback, and meet with them one-on-one. We will also be presenting several workshops on craft and career!
_______________________________________________________________

The WINNER of Michaela MacColl's novel, Secrets in the Snow, chosen by random.org is: 
**SUE FRYE**
Congratulations, Sue!
(Please e-mail me with your mailing address and how you'd like the book personalized by Michaela.)
Thanks again, dear readers, for your continued support of BOOKS and AUTHORS! May your days be merry and bright!

Warmest wishes, Clara











Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Writing from the Inside Out. . . Author Michaela MacColl shares + Giveaway

Dear Friends,

It's been awhile since I had a guest author who writes for the Young Adult age group, and what could be more exciting for Jane Austen fans and mystery lovers, than a book featuring Jane herself in a mystery of espionage, intrigue, and romance? Besides Secrets in the Snow featuring Jane Austen, our guest author, Michaela MacColl, has written mysteries featuring our favorite heroines from the 19th-century literary world--Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, and the Bronte sisters! A complete set would be a perfect gift this season not just for teens, but for all of us!

But before Michaela takes the stage, we have TWO winners picked by random.org from last week's post. Winner #1: KATHY WEICHMAN. Kathy, you may choose from either A Christmas Spider's Miracle or Apple Tree Christmas by Trinka Hakes Noble. Winner #2: JANA ESCHNER, you will receive the remaining book--the books will be personalized for the winners.
***Congratulations, Kathy and Jana!***  
 (Kathy and Jana please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and how you'd like the book personalized.)

And NOW, please welcome historical fiction author and my friend, Michaela MacColl. Michaela is generously donating a copy of her newest mystery, Secrets in the Snow, featuring Jane Austen! All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment about the post or share your favorite Jane Austen title. Thank you!


Dare I imitate Jane? by Michaela MacColl

I’ve written four literary mysteries now featuring famous writers as young adults – and I do say so myself, I’ve dared a lot. I channeled Emily Dickinson’s unique take on the world and explored the sibling rivalry between the Bronte sisters. Louisa May Alcott fell prey to my pen too (actually I found her matter-of- fact problem-solving ethos very modern). But Jane Austen? The undisputed Mistress of Conversation? How dare I put words in her mouth?

When I begin these books I read biography and their body of work in tandem. I look for emotional links in their writing to my understanding of their lives. With Emily D. I found connections between her shyness and search for someone who understands her in her poetry. With Louisa it was easy – Jo March is for all intents and purposes, Louisa with all the rebellion and childhood mischief that implies. But Jane was a different story. Her life was practically event-less. She lived quietly with her family, a dependent spinster. There were no deaths or mysteries in her life – just tea, county dances and conversation. Lots of conversation. In fact, the more I looked in Jane’s work for physical descriptions of characters or places, the less I found. Unless Elizabeth’s “fine eyes” tell you more than me – we have no idea what she looks like. But we do know how she talked. That’s mostly what all the characters in Jane Austen do – they talk.

So I read the books out loud. I watched my favorite adaptations – BBC anyone? -- and of course the 1999 adaptation of Mansfield Park. By the time I started writing, I had the rhythm and the vocabulary. I put Jane in the scene with her mother and a romantic interest and let them talk! I think it worked – but would love to know what you think?

Check out Secrets in the Snow (Chronicle, October 2016) and let me know!


Review From School Library Journal --Secrets in the Snow. Gr 7–10—Nineteen-year-old Jane Austen—yes, that Jane Austen—finds herself entwined in some serious intrigue when the War Office suggests that her cousin, whose French aristocrat husband lost his head to the guillotine, might be engaged in traitorous activity against England. Jane is determined to get to the bottom of the situation, even if it means veering into unladylike territory. Adding to the drama, a gentleman studying the law has entered Jane's social circle—and all of her family members are eager to encourage a marriage match regardless of his condescending first impression. MacColl's fidelity to Austen's biography and family, with a bit of creative license woven in, results in a charming historical mystery. Her playfulness with Austen's voice is a delight, and she peppers the story with hints at characters and plot points from the author's oeuvre—nothing that distracts from the narrative, but tidbits that serve as inside jokes to readers who have already dived into her works. These elements more than make up for a somewhat rushed conclusion. Readers whose interest in Austen is piqued will enjoy the biographical back matter. VERDICT A solid addition for fans of cozy mysteries and literary reimaginings.—Amy Koester, Skokie Public Library, IL

New York Times bestselling author Michaela MacColl  attended Vassar College and Yale University earning degrees in multi-disciplinary history. Unfortunately, it took her 20 years before she realized she was learning how to write historical fiction. Her favorite stories are the ones she finds about the childhood experiences of famous people. She has written about a teenaged Queen Victoria (Prisoners in the Palace, Chronicle 2010) and Beryl Markham’s childhood (Promise the Night, Chronicle 2011). She is writing a literary mystery series for teens featuring famous writers such as Emily Dickinson, the Bronte sisters, Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen.  She has recently begun a new middle-grade series with Boyd’s Mills/Highlights called Hidden Histories about odd events in America’s past, including orphan trains, Dred Scott’s daughter and the Carlisle Indian Boarding School.  

Learn more about Michaela MacColl and her books: www.michaelamaccoll.com
Follow her on twitter: @MichaelaMacColl
FaceBook: AuthorMichaelaMacColl

Currently, Michaela is working on a new entry for the Calkins Creek Hidden History Series. This one is about an ancestor of hers who came to America from Shanghai in the 1870’s. 

Thanks, Michaela, for sharing your exciting new Jane Austen mystery--Secrets in the Snow--here at Writing from the Inside Out. . . I especially loved that line--I've dared a lot. That's a great challenge and good advice for all of us who write.


I'll be back on Monday, December 12th, to announce the winner of Secrets in the Snow! Thanks, dear readers, for continuing to support authors and books! You're the best!

Happy Holidays to all!

~Clara

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"Christmas Stories from the Heart" with Author Trinka Hakes Noble

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for sharing what you were thankful for this Thanksgiving time. Your thankful hearts warmed my heart! I know you've been waiting for this announcement, so without further fanfare, the winner of Pat Brisson's book, Before We Eat: from farm to table chosen by random.org is:   
Donna Volkenannt. ** Congratulations, Donna! **  
(Donna, please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and how you'd like the book personalized.)

This week's featured guest, Author Trinka Hakes Noble, is generously donating one copy each of her two beautiful Christmas Books for the comment contest that she will autograph and personalize for the winners. All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment about the post or share a Christmas memory of your own. The winners will be announced on December 6th.

And now, please welcome my dear sweet friend, Trinka!

Christmas Stories from the Heart by Trinka Hakes Noble


Every Holiday Season, bookstores cram their shelves and displays with Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa books for children. These books run the gamut from crassly commercial to deeply heart felt. Many holiday books are given to children as gifts each year, and many adults collect Christmas books. For many families, Christmas books are keepsakes they cherish year after year. So, children’s book publishers make sure they offer new holiday titles on their lists each year. 

Having published two Christmas books and one Thanksgiving Day story, forthcoming in 2017, I feel writing these holiday books comes with a certain responsibility, not only to your young readers and the adults who purchase them as gifts, but to the holiday itself. 

You can’t just hang a story, any old story, on a holiday like an ornament on a Christmas tree. To my way of thinking, the story must be interwoven in an organic way with the holiday, and yet, not totally dependent on it either. I feel that the story must be strong enough that it might be able to stand on its own without the holiday. At least almost. In other words, the story is so captivating and transporting that you might forget that you are reading a Christmas story.

And yet, the magic and wonder of Christmas must somehow be sprinkled into the story like soft snowflakes landing on your tongue.

Trinka's drawing board made by her dad
I like to think that Apple Tree Christmas, which I wrote and Illustrated, is that kind of Christmas story. Not only is it written from my heart, but from my real life as well. I loved to draw as a kid, and one Christmas my father made me the most beautiful, real, professional drawing board I’d ever seen. Right then I knew nothing was going to stop me and I would grow up to be an artist.  

But that Christmas long ago, there were two little words I never said. I never said “thank you” to my Dad for the best gift I’ve ever received.  So, when I did grow up to be an artist and a writer, I decided to say thank you to my Dad in a very special way. I wrote and illustrated Apple Tree Christmas just for him. If you read the dedication, you’ll understand. 

Every illustration in Apple Tree Christmas I drew on that same drawing board my father made for me. It is sitting in my studio today. I probably wouldn’t be writing these words to you right now if my father hadn’t made me that beautiful drawing board so long ago.

Illustration from Apple Tree Christmas
 Ever since its first publication in 1984, Apple Tree Christmas has touched thousands of readers young and old with its simple heartfelt message. Now in a handsome, classic edition, published by Sleeping Bear Press, Trinka Hakes Noble’s holiday remembrance reminds us once again of the strength of family ties and the boundless roots of love. 








Vine swing in the old apple tree



          “So much of Apple Tree Christmas – the vine swing, the old apple tree, Mrs. Wooly, the drawing board, and the little girl who dreams of becoming an artist – is from my cherished Michigan childhood.”

Junior Literary Guild Selection
CBC Book of the Year
Featured in Cricket Magazine
Included in The Golden Books Treasury of Christmas






 
Christmas Spider’s Miracle was inspired by an old Ukrainian tale that touched my heart. My publisher at Sleeping Bear Press handed me a very short blurb describing this Old World tale and asked, “Are you interested?” Well, I was more than interested! My storyteller’s heart was captivated.  

From this short blurb I wrote an original story of two mothers on a bitterly cold Christmas Eve. One was a poor peasant woman who struggled to provide for her children, and the other was a mother spider that also worked hard to care for her little spiderlings. Although different as night and day, these two poor mothers had much in common. 


Mother Spider caring for her Spiderlings

On Christmas Eve, that magical night of nights, they came together in a most heartwarming way with the kindness, compassion and grace that embodies the true spirit of Christmas.
Illustration from A Christmas Spider's Miracle
The illustrator of A Christmas Spider’s Miracle, Stephen Costanza, captured the long ago Old World charm with his beautifully lush artwork.      
Ukrainian Village from A Christmas Spider's Miracle

Reviews for A Christmas Spider's Miracle: 
“The story unfolds smoothly...with lyrical, dramatic text. An appealing story with a magical aura spun by the shimmering illustrations and memorable story.” – Kirkus Review, 2011

“Enchantingly told, the story is enriched by the visual magic of textured compositions.  An excellent choice for lap-sit reading or group sharing.” – School Library Journal, 2011



 A new book coming in 2017, titled Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade, is a Thanksgiving Day story about an immigrant girl who lives in the tenements on New York’s Lower East Side in 1918. Her name is Loretta, but everyone calls her Rettie. In 1918, American was in the grip of The Great Influenza Epidemic and World War I, colossal events way beyond a young girl’s control. In these hard times, Rettie struggles to keep her family together. The only thing that keeps her going is the hope that the Ragamuffin Parade won’t be canceled on Thanksgiving morning. 

Sketch for Rettie and the Ragmuffin Parade
Long ago, the children of New York would dress up like hobos and beggars and parade though the streets of New York with their hands out asking “Have you anythin’ for Thanksgiving?” Then people would give them a penny. Rettie, along with all the tenement children, loved the Ragamuffin Parade because they badly needed those pennies.

History tells us that when Halloween became popular with children dressing up, parading and trick-or-treating for candy, the Ragamuffin Parade fell out of favor. Many of the immigrant children who loved the Ragamuffin Parade grew up to be employed at a large department store called Macy’s in Midtown Manhattan. Some historians believe that these employees asked Mr. Macy if he would put on a parade for the children of New York on Thanksgiving morning. And so, in 1924, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place, and has continued to this day.

Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade, coming in 2017, will be part of The Tales of Young Americans Series, published by Sleeping Bear Press. It is presently under illustration by David Gardner. 

In closing, my wish this Holiday Season is that a Christmas story touches the hearts of the children in your life, and the child within you. 

A Blessed Christmas to you all,
Trinka Hakes Noble

Trinka Hakes Noble is the award-winning author of over thirty picture books including: The Scarlet Stockings Spy (IRA Teachers’ Choice 2005), The Last Brother, The Legend of the Cape May Diamond, The Legend of the Jersey Devil and Apple Tree Christmas, which she wrote and illustrated. Other titles include: The Orange Shoes (IRA Teachers’ Choice 2008), The New Jersey Reader, Little New Jersey, The People of Twelve Thousand Winters and The Christmas Spider’s Miracle. Ms. Noble also wrote the ever-popular Jimmy’s Boa series, illustrated by Steven Kellogg, and Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, both featured on PBS’s Reading Rainbow. Her many awards include ALA Notable Children’s Book, Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice, IRA-CBC Children’s Choice, Learning: The Year’s Ten Best, plus several state reading awards and Junior Literary Guild selections. Her latest titles are Lizzie and the Last Day of School (March 2015), and The Legend of Sea Glass (February 2016).
Coming in the fall of 2017 will be a story set on the Lower East Side in 1918, about a young immigrant girl named Loretta, whom everyone called Rettie. The title is Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade: A Thanksgiving Story, and will be part of the Tales of Young Americans series by Sleeping Bear Press.

A graduate of Michigan State University, Ms. Noble went on to study children’s book writing and illustrating in New York City at Parsons School of Design, the New School University, Caldecott medalist Uri Shulevitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and at New York University. She is on the board of The New Jersey Center for the Book and a member of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature. In 2002 she was awarded Outstanding Woman in Arts and Letters in the state of New Jersey for her lifetime work in children’s books, along with letters of commendation from the US Senate, the US House of Representatives and the US Congress. She is also the recipient of the Author and Illustrator of the Year Award, 2016, from the New Jersey Association of School Librarians. Ms. Noble currently lives in northern New Jersey. Learn more at her Web site www.trinkahakesnoble.com.

Thank you so much, Trinka, for sharing "Christmas Stories from the Heart" and your beautiful books, Apple Tree Christmas and A Christmas Spider's Miracle. I know we all hope you'll come back next year to share about your Thanksgiving book, Rettie and the Ragamuffin Parade. 

On December 6th, my final guest for the year, Author Michaela MacColl, will share about the writing of Secrets in the Snow, a YA novel of intrigue and romance featuring Jane Austen!

Merry Christmas!  ~Clara












Monday, November 14, 2016

Giving Thanks with Author Pat Brisson + Book Giveaway

Dear Friends,

Please welcome my dear friend Pat Brisson, whose short post reminds us all to be thankful for the Food We Eat! Pat is always an inspiration for me. Just seeing her smiling face makes me want to be kinder and more mindful of others.

Pat has generously donated an autographed copy of her book, The Food We Eat: from farm to table for the comment contest. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment about giving thanks.

Author Pat Brisson shares about the writing of her picture book: Before We Eat: from farm to table

I have long felt that Thanksgiving was the most spiritual of all American holidays because it’s not cluttered up with stuff but is all about getting together with family to share a meal. And give thanks for all our blessings. And although Before We Eat: from farm to table is not specifically about Thanksgiving, it’s an appropriate book to talk about in the Thanksgiving season because it’s about being mindful, when we sit down to share a meal with family, that a lot of people worked very hard to help us get food to our tables.

I grew up with the tradition of saying grace before meals and this book started out as a grace with the words Bless the one who did this and Bless the one who did that. My editor at Tilbury House, Audrey Maynard, asked if I would consider changing Bless to Thank. She thought it would give the book broader appeal. So I did, and it became a sort of secular grace – a moment of thankful awareness of, not only the workers in the fields, but also the ones packing the crates and checking weights and driving the produce to the stores and all the clerks who sell the food to us.

When Audrey said they were thinking of an illustrator who did woodblock prints to do the illustration. I said, “Oh, like Mary Azarian?” “That’s who we’ve sent it to," she told me. I was stunned. I LOVED Mary Azarian’s art and – be still my heart – she agreed to do it! Came out of retirement to do it! I was thrilled. Mary’s striking art takes my words to another level. Her prints are both strong and tender and offer so much for the youngest readers to explore on the page. If I never do another book (a strong possibility in this current difficult market) I will feel like I’m going out on a high note.

* MOONBEAM GOLD AWARD *
* GROWING GOOD KIDS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY AND NATIONAL MASTER JUNIOR GARDENER PROGRAM *
(Milk doesn't just appear in your refrigerator, nor do apples grow in the bowl on the kitchen counter.)

“A simple poem thanking the people who grow, transport, sell and prepare our food is transformed by Azarian’s bright woodcuts... A warm celebration of both small farms and the idea that it takes a village to feed a child. (Picture book. 2-6)” (Kirkus)

Illustration from Before We Eat
 “The  book is a thoughtful examination of where food comes from― that is before is gets to the grocery store.  …Pages show people engaged in every manner of food production: plowing, planting, harvesting, milking, egg gathering, packing and weighing crates, driving delivery trucks and cashiering at the grocery store.  It is a wonderfully inclusive and honest way to view food acquisition.” (Jennifer Prince - Children’s Book Review, Citizen-Times, Ashville NC)


Pat Brisson is the author of 20 books for young readers, including The Summer My Father Was Ten and Sometimes We Were Brave (both from Boyds Mills Press). A graduate of Rutgers University, she is a former elementary school teacher, school librarian, and public-library reference librarian. Pat lives in New Jersey with her husband. 

Artist Mary Azarian is the Caldecott-Medal winning illustrator of Snowflake Bentley, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (1999, Houghton Mifflin). She created the pictures for Before We Eat by first carving the pictures in wood (in reverse!) and then printing them with ink onto paper before adding the color with watercolor paints. She lives and creates her art on a hilltop farm in Vermont.

Author Pat Brisson and Artist Mary Azarian
To learn more about Pat and her books, check out her website: www.patbrisson.com  
To learn more about the  publisher of Before We Eat, click on the link: tilburyhouse.com


Thank you, dear Pat, for this thoughtful reminder to give thanks. Thank you, dear reader for leaving a comment about what you are thankful for. The winner will be announced on November 29. ~Clara

Friday, November 4, 2016

Happy Book Birthday to Author Kim Briggs -- BOOK ONE OF THE STARR FALL SERIES


Announcing an exciting new series by my friend, Author Kim Briggs! 

Happy Book Birthday to you, Kim!






 
Author of STARR FALL, BOOK ONE OF THE STARR FALL SERIES, November 4, 2016
“On the run from the Organization, Starr never planned on falling in love.”

STARR LOST, BOOK TWO OF THE STARR FALL SERIES, January 2017
STARR GONE, BOOK THREE OF THE STARR FALL SERIES, June 2017
AND THEN HE, A NEW ADULT PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER, available now at major retailers
Co-Regional Advisor Eastern PA SCBWI

Friday, October 28, 2016

Whooooo is the LUCKY WINNER of THE HAUNTING HALLOWEEN GIVEAWAY?

Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for your enthusiastic response to Kenneth Kit Lamug's Interview and his atmospheric illustrations in his haunting Halloween tale, The Stumps of Flattop Hill. I hope you took the time to watch his delightfully eerie book trailer. If not, you'll find the link below.

Thank you, Ken, for sharing your special talent with us! Visit the author here:

https://www.rabbleboy.com

And now, announcing The LUCKY WINNER of THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL chosen by random.org: 
**Congratulations, MARTIN SEGAL**

(Martin, you have one week to claim your prize. Please e-mail me with your mailing address: (at)gmail(dot)com>)

The Stumps of Flattop Hill is a macabre tale of a little girl who enters the town’s legendary haunted house in the face of fear. A dark tale for children in the tradition of the Brother’s Grimm, it calls to mind the provocative illustration style of Edward Gorey. Scary and entertaining, this book challenges the idea of what children’s books can be.
 
The Stumps of Flattop Hill received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2016

Here's the link to the book trailer:

Spooky Halloween Fairytale Picture Book Children's 

https://www.youtube.com/user/koolkit/videos


 My next guest is a dear friend of many years, Author Pat Brisson, who will share with us for the Thanksgiving season. For now, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! ~Clara