A Writer’s Delight!

Stories
    Serendipity is a beautiful thing!

An unexpected email led to a delightful afternoon.

Hometown grandmother Nancy knew I grew up in Michigan and wondered if I’d autograph a book for her granddaughter visiting from Washington state. Then she realized I now lived in Florida. She expressed how much her daughter loved her new book, President of the Whole Sixth Grade—Girl Code.

Well, just so happened I was in Michigan for the wonderful author-illustrator experience, Nerd Camp, in Parma, Michigan. I reached out to Nancy, set a date, and it was on.

Meeting Nancy and Sarah was a true highlight to my week. Sarah, 10, was adorable and very smart. We sat around chatting like ladies who lunch.

Divine!

And if that wasn’t enough of the serendipity sauce, Nancy brought along a friend—my middle school civics teacher whose habit of teaching us to read newspapers in her classroom directly led to the plot of the third book in the President series—Mrs. Western. Now, I’m sure the woman has a first name but I still feel like raising my hand when I see her so I didn’t ask.

Thanks Sarah and Nancy for renewing my understanding of why I write stories for children. Your kind words motivated me to carry on. And thank you, truly, to Mrs. Western, whose caring yet no-nonsense teaching style helped open my eyes to the world around me, inspiring me to see greater and be greater. Thank you, ladies for a wonderful day.

A Bright And Shiny Day

Stories

 

Authoring can be tough. You are the creator, the whimsical-minded engine that brings imaginary worlds to life.

But you are also the businesswoman. The one-woman-shop, who must handle public relations, promote, plan speaking events and marketing strategies. When you are trying to be an up-and-comer in the publishing world and produce a beautiful piece of work, which I shamelessly proclaim The Sweetest Sound to be, you expect the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD will love it as much as you.

The reality, however, is that despite critical accolades, a dedicated marketing team at your publisher and determined efforts on your part, your little book hasn’t yet set the world afire as you’d hope.

Which is why Saturday was so awesome.

I awoke to an email from a dedicated school librarian in Upstate New York. Talk about chicken soup for the soul. Stacey Rattner contacted me to says how much she enjoyed The Sweetest Sound and how much her students loved it. She even sent along copies of letters the children had written to me about what they thought of the book.

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As I was already preparing to go out and visit bookstores to Twitter and Tweeter and all sorts of social media stuff for Sweetest paperback, feeling the love energized me. I wore makeup, put on a dress and even wore heels. Then I met the cutest, sweetest bookseller at Books-A-Million in the Loop Mall, Kissimmee. She was so excited to meet—Me?

At the Barnes & Noble near downtown Orlando, bookseller Cassie was an angel, helping  take pictures as I grinned like a mad woman upon seeing my new paperbacks.

It was one of those days when us little-known yet determined authors can, for just a while, feel like a J.K. Rowling or James Patterson or Jacqueline Woodson. It was a very good day.

President of the Whole SIXTH Grade!

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Congratulations to my favorite alter ego, Brianna Justice. Little, Brown has just announced the upcoming release to the sequel of President of the Fifth Grade. Brianna and her friends will face the social land mines of middle school in the 2015 release of President of the Whole SIXTH Grade! Woo-hoo!

Congratulations to my favorite alter ego, Brianna Justice. Little, Brown has just announced the upcoming release to the sequel of President of the Fifth Grade. Brianna and her friends will face the social land mines of middle school in the 2015 release of President of the Whole SIXTH Grade! Woo-hoo!

I have waited a while for this announcement. It’s official — President of the Whole Sixth Grade is set for a 2015 Fall release.

A year ago, I was returning home from a summer of craziness, teaching at a camp in Western Pennsylvania and having a time of a my life. Except for the part where I went to New York to pitch a manuscript I’d been working on for over six months only to learn that the editors at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers were interested in hearing more from the heroine of my previous LB middle-grade novel, Brianna Justice.

The hardest thing about waiting for the next book in the sequence is anticipating the new cover.

The hardest thing about waiting for the next book in the sequence is anticipating the new cover.

Luckily, I, too, felt that Miss Justice had plenty more to say. President of the Whole Fifth Grade featured a 10-year-old girl who wanted to become a cupcake-making millionaire. She idolized television cooking personality Miss Delicious and hoped to follow in her diamond-studded footsteps. However, as Brianna grew closer to her goal, she started to realize that she was sacrificing her friends and herself.

Hey, who hasn’t been there, right?

I love the Brianna Justice character because she represents wish-fullfilment. I was such a timid and shy kid in fifth grade that when I look back, I wish I could have been more daring and outgoing, like Brianna. Now, in President of the Whole Sixth Grade, I get to push my wish fulfillment a step further, positing a sixth-grade in which a smart, level-headed girl is able to gather her wits and strength to motivate those around her to be their absolute best. And make a difference.

With so much to celebrate, I couldn’t let the occasion pass without a beautiful chocolate cake.

So here’s to you, Brianna Justice — and all the Brianna Justices out there. Thank you for your awesomeness!