ALL FOUR KIDS: AN INTERVIEW WITH KRISTIN RAE, AUTHOR OF WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN

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We’ve got another great interview for you, this one with Kristin Rae, whose YA contemporary romance, WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, releases today!

About WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN:

Wish You Were Italian krae 2014Pippa has always wanted to go to Italy … but not by herself. And certainly not to sit in art school the entire summer learning about dead guys’ paintings. When she steps off the plane in Rome, she realizes that traveling solo gives her the freedom to do whatever she wants. So it’s arrivederci, boring art program and ciao, hot Italian guys!

Charming, daring, and romantic, Bruno is just the Italian Pippa’s looking for—except she keeps running into cute American archeology student Darren everywhere she goes. Pippa may be determined to fall in love with an Italian guy … but the electricity she feels with Darren says her heart might have other plans. Can Pippa figure out her feelings before her parents discover she left the program and—even worse—she loses her chance at love?

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Kristin Rae 2014KV: Congratulations on the release of WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN! What inspired you to write it?

KR: Thank you! Hubs and I went to Italy in 2009 with a couple friends, and I was smitten with the idea of setting a story there. But it wasn’t until 2011 after I read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins that I was hit with both the realization that I should be writing contemporary instead of paranormal, and the confidence that setting a book in a foreign country was possible and could be very visual.

KV: I love how your trip to Italy inspired and informed Pippa’s. What were some of your favorite sights?

KR: I think I left part of my heart in Rome. There’s something about standing among structures that were built thousands of years ago that hits you. The US is such a baby compared to Europe, we don’t get to experience the same kind of visual display of history here (and when things get old, we tend to knock them down to build something else). And the Cinque Terre, where much of my book is set, is probably my favorite place in the world. Five little fishing villages nestled in valleys along the coast of the Italian Riviera with amazing views and the most delicious food you’ll ever eat.

KV: The thought of flying to Europe by myself–and then abandoning my plans and gallivanting across the countryside–would have scared me to death as a teenager. (Heck, it scares me now!) Would you have ever done something that daring and crazy?

KR: NO WAY! To this day I’ve still never flown anywhere without one of my parents or my husband. I didn’t even go on my senior trip (I went to a small high school, and I was the only one that didn’t go). And I’d never encourage a teen to do such a thing. It’s one of those scenarios where I knew what story I wanted to tell, and that was the way to do it, no matter how much I was cringing at her choices. It’s not only daring and crazy, it’s dangerous! But it makes for a fun adventure to escape with. Think of it as fairytale realism.

KV: Over the course of her adventures, Pippa befriends an Italian girl, Chiara. Did you set out to write a strong female friendship, or did their relationship develop as you went?

KR: I knew I wanted someone to support and ground her as opposed to a mean girl type character, but Chiara’s personality revealed itself as I wrote. I had two strong female friendships as a teen, so I wanted Pippa to have that too: with her friend back home that we get to know through the journal she sent with Pippa, and with a girl she meets on her adventure.

KV: Okay, this is a romance, so we have to talk about the guys. 🙂 Were their characters inspired by any real-life boys?

KR: Darren was inspired by someone, but I’m not telling just yet. If you read the book (and the acknowledgements) you can probably figure it out, but I’d like readers to come up with a picture of how they see him first before they know who I saw when I wrote it. Bruno wasn’t inspired by anyone except for help with physical description. A certain Portuguese soccer player for Madrid. Don’t you love how vague I am?

KV: We all need to have our secrets. 🙂

Have you done any traveling recently, and if so, will those trips make appearances in your future books?

KR: Since Italy in 2009, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Alaska, San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Hong Kong and China, and Colorado. It’s very possible I’ll find ways to work in some of my travel experiences in future books, that is if I can figure out how to do it without repeating ITALIAN in a different setting!

KV: As this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

KR: I have a small fear of being bitten by a snake one day. It’s not something I think about all the time, but living in Texas you run across your fair share of snakes in the summer. And something I’m not afraid of? Writing kissing scenes. 🙂

For more information about Kristin and WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, you can find her at her website, www.kristinrae.com, and on Twitter, @kristincreative.

Krista squaredKrista Van Dolzer is a stay-at-home mom by day and a children’s author by naptime. She holds degrees in Mathematics Education and Economics from Brigham Young University and lives with her husband and three kids in Mesquite, Nevada. She is the author of a forthcoming-but-as-yet-untitled debut (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015) and the forthcoming DUEL/DUET (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Fall 2015).

ALL FOUR KIDS: CATHERINE LINKA, A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS

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On behalf of all 15ers I am pleased to  welcome Catherine Linka, whose debut A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS releases on May 6th, from St. Martin’s Press!

10_29_GirlCalledFearlessFINAL

“Gripping, memorable, and heartrending. An ordinary girl becomes extraordinary in her fight for freedom.” C.C. Hunter, author of Shadow Falls series

Ten years ago an untested hormone took the lives of 50 million women. The death threat is past, but the Paternalist Movement, begun to “protect” young women, now controls them. Avie Reveare still mourns the loss of her mom but she’s also dreaming about college, her future, and Yates, the boy she’s always loved. But when her father contracts her into a marriage to a Paternalist politician, her world suddenly narrows to 2 choices: be fearless and run to freedom, or be imprisoned in a lovesless marriage. Neither is safe, and both would change her life forever.

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So cool to share a “fearless” connection and so glad I could catch up with the gracious and very busy author (at work on the sequel, as we speak)! With Catherine juggling numerous interviews being posted surrounding the release of FEARLESS, we cut right to the chase:

SW: In FEARLESS, the Paternalist movement is threatening women’s rights in the USA, with arranged marriages, restricting access to education, rescinding the right to vote… This is a fictional story, yet these are some of the real-life inequities women face throughout the world. Is this why the story is set in real time?

CL: The story is set in the present day, because I wanted to explore what it would be like if teenage American girls were forced to live under the same oppressive rules or law that affect girls today in many developing nations. Imagine growing up in a country that celebrates individuality and freedom to choose one’s destiny, and then because of a catastrophic event, the mood and the politics of the US changes. Fathers want to protect their daughters, but it’s taken to an extreme.

What would it be like, I thought, if you grew up watching movies in which girls had the opportunity to do or be anything, but suddenly you were shut out of college, lost unrestricted access to television and the Internet, had all your phone calls and purchases monitored, and were so valuable your father could contract you in marriage for millions of dollars?

SW: Did you expect you’d be writing Feminist lit?

CL: I didn’t have an agenda in writing this story. I didn’t take classes in college in women’s studies or gender politics. This is speculative fiction, so the story grew out of asking what would happen after a catastrophe. But I was raised to believe in myself, because my dad never set limits on what he thought I could do. He took me backpacking every summer, and taught me how to use a pick and an axe. He encouraged me to get my Masters in Business when I was still in high school.

SW: Avie is inspired by some very strong women. Who are your real-life heroines?

CL: I prefer inspirations to heroines. I’ve always been impressed by female athletes who’ve overcome huge odds: Wilma Rudolph who overcame polio to be an Olympic medalist, or Diana Nyad who after six attempts swam from Cuba to the US at 60! I am in awe of Elizabeth I who ruled Britain despite men who tried to keep her from the throne and then tried to oust her from power during her entire reign.

I’m blown away by women who ignore threats to their personal safety to build schools or women’s shelters in extremist controlled areas. And I’m grateful to women like Lady Gaga who create a place in society for outsiders, and celebrities like Angelina Jolie who, instead of indulging in the perks of celebrity, use it to bring attention to those in need.

SW: There are song lyrics and poetry scattered through FEARLESS. How was it writing verse?

CL: I had to laugh when you asked, because I started out as a poet, not a prose writer. My mom used to recite poetry to me, and she loved metric poems like Poe’s Annabel Lee. So I wrote poetry through college. And I’ve always sung funny little made up songs around the house, mainly to my family and the guinea pigs. When I started writing A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS, the songs just appeared almost like the voice of the country. I liked that they showed that Avie’s experience was shared by many others.

SW: As this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of!

CL: A lot of people are afraid of change, but I’ve always embraced it. Leaving friends and family to move to a new city, starting a new degree, traveling to a foreign country, creating a new product or department at work are all things I’ve done numerous times.

And while I’m comfortable challenging myself emotionally, I am scared of going downhill fast. Yep, I’m a complete scaredy cat when it comes to skiing downhill, biking down steep roads, or riding a plunging roller coaster.

Thank you, Catherine! You’ve posed serious questions in an action-packed tale (fear of roller coasters aside, A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS is quite the thrill ride!)

Catherine_Linka_10257_highresCatherine Linka is a children’s book buyer at the Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada, CA. Linka received a BSFS from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where she studied U.S. diplomatic history, economics, and politics, as well as an MFA from Vermont College, and an MBA from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler School of Business. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

You can connect with Catherine here: catherinelinka.comCatherineLinkaAuthor@cblinka, and email: cblinka@msn.com
Sandra Waugh cropped final.Sandra Waugh grew up in an old house with crowded bookshelves, in walking distance of an old library with even more crowded bookshelves. It goes without saying that she fell in love with the old house in Litchfield County, CT because of its bookshelves and she lives there now with her husband, two sons, and Daisy the snoring goldendoodle. Her debut fantasy, LARK RISING, will be out from Random House September 2014. Follow Sandra on Twitter at @sandrajwaugh.

ALL FOUR KIDS: TRACY HOLCZER, THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY

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We’re pleased to welcome Tracy Holczer, whose book THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY just debuted from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

SecretHum_cover_FINALTwelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. She thinks she’s found it with Mrs. Greene and her daughter Lacey so when her mother says it’s time to move on again, Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels. She’ll always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.

Now faced with making a home with a grandmother she’s never met, and according to her mother, didn’t want her in the first place, Grace is desperate to get back to Mrs. Greene and Lacey. A mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on, may must be the key. It all begins with a crane. And Grace is sure it’s her mother showing her the way home.

SL: How long have you been writing and how long did it take you to write THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY?

TH: I’ve been writing for twelve years, which I mark by the date I joined the SCBWI. And Daisy took six of those years.

SL: How did the crane symbolism come about? Were you involved with the process of creating the cover?

TH: My editor was kind enough to share versions of the cover as we went along, asking for input. We nixed the first two covers and when they showed me the one we have now, I have to admit that, at first, I wasn’t sure it was a match to the story. Really, though, it just wasn’t a match to my very narrow view of how I thought the cover should look. I mean, I had it all picked out, and my daughter had drawn a perfect pencil sketch, don’t you know.

The magic that came out of that process for me was letting go of my very narrow view (sort of like Grace!). And thank goodness for it. Annie Ericsson created a beautiful cover and the cranes are such a perfect metaphor for Grace’s story. DAISY is so not just about loss, but about transformation and self-identity. It is the absolute perfect cover for my book and I am grateful every day that no one asked for my daughter’s pencil sketch (even though it is gorgeous and I framed it and hung it in my family room).

SL: What’s your typical writing day?tracyholczersm

TH: Let’s start with the ideal writing day. I would get up, walk the dogs, exercise, SHOWER, change into actual clothes, eat a balanced breakfast, take my vitamins and sit down to write for four hours. Then I would do an hour of internet/marketing/fun stuff and be refreshed from my wonderfully productive day so that I have loads of energy for when the kids get home from school.

Typical is more along the lines of throwing the toy down the hallway a few times in lieu of walking the dogs and staring at the exercise DVDs with loathing as I throw on a pair of ratty jeans and head to my local coffee shop where I spend too much time on the internet. BUT, I do get the words down, so I’m working on not judging myself on those days I’m not Polly Perfect.

SL: What have you learned from working with your editor (Stacey Barney)?

TH: Oh, I don’t know, let’s see. How about EVERYTHING. I think the twelve years I wrote, attended workshops, took classes, read how-to-write books, and everything else I did to try and cram writing knowledge into my brain gave me a great foundation. But the true work of story, of getting down the thematic significance and the pacing, really came clear during the editorial process with Stacey. She did what all really good editors probably do, which is point out the holes without telling you how to fill them. She made herself available for all the questions. She was encouraging. But then she stood back and gave me the room I needed to write my story.

SL: What is the one thing you’d like readers to take away from your book?

TH: That we are the sum of our parts. Not just the positive experiences, but the negative ones, too. Humans are equal parts joy and loss, light and dark, and those dark times that we survive are worth celebrating. It’s never too early for a child to know this, I don’t think. Also, no one is impossible to love and forgive if they are willing to work hard to repair the damage done.

SL: Do daisies really hum?

TH: For me, they do.

THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY is available now.  Tracy Holczer may be contacted at 2629 Foothill Blvd. #144, La Crescenta, CA 91214 or emailed at: tholczer@earthlink.net.  You may also tweet her at @tracyholczer.

stacey-lee-smallStacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she gave up her job as a lawyer to finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day and it was easier than moving to Spain. UNDER A PAINTED SKY is her first novel, coming Winter 2015 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons. To learn more, visit www.staceyhlee.com or follow her on Twitter.

ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview with Jessie Humphries, author of KILLING RUBY ROSE

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I’m so happy to interview my Greenhouse Literary sister Jessie Humphries, whose YA thriller KILLING RUBY ROSE is out right now!

 

Killing Ruby Rose_FINALIn sunny Southern California, seventeen-year-old Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died, she’s also got a few killer secrets.

To cope, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Manolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal). But after six months of therapy and pathetic parenting by her mom, the District Attorney, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

When Ruby ends up killing a murderer to save his intended victim, she discovers that she’s gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There’s a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who’s using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up swapping Valentino red for prison orange.

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, won’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?

Available at Amazon, BAM, IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s

And other local & national retailers.

SG: Hi, Jessie! Congrats on your book and thanks for stopping by our blog!

JH: Thanks for hosting this interview, Shannon! It’s nice to have an agency sister involved. Go Team Greenhouse!

So, I decided that I’m going to answer ALL of your questions! But not like I normally would, more like rapid fire! Like Ruby Rose cocking and pulling the trigger, I’m gonna bullet point out these answers like an automatic rifle with night scope vision!

SG: Awesome, I’m ready! So tell us where did the idea for KILLING RUBY ROSE come from?

  • From watching/reading the DEXTER series by Jeff Lindsay and reading the HEIST  SOCIETY books by Ally Carter.

SG: Jessie, do you outline or use any visual plotting method when you write? Or bullet points, ha ha 🙂 ?

  • Yes, I use the beat system from Blake Snyder’s book, SAVE THE CAT. Me and my CP’s call our system of outlining, “Brushing Our Cat.” ;0

SG: Oh I love that book! What are your favorite revision tools?

  • Babysitters, busy cafés with high energy, caffeine, and a reward system including chocolate.

SG: How could we ever get through revisions without chocolate! When do you write, when are you the most creative, and what does your schedule look like?

  • In the morning. It’s when I’m most focused and creative. I usually have to get up between 5-6:00 am to get any amount of work done because I have to be home by 8:00 am for carpool.

SG: Wow, you are dedicated for sure! So when you venture out so early, where do you write?

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SG: Of course! And, where is the weirdest place you’ve written down story notes?

  • On the back of a fortune cookie. (Don’t remember what the fortune cookie said though).

SG: Okay, I’ve never heard of anyone writing notes on a fortune cookie! Jessie, did you research much for KILLING RUBY ROSE?

  • A little bit. Three years of law school and a grueling bar exam also helped with the legal aspects of the book.

SG: What a perfect background for writing crime! Can you tell us what was the hardest part of writing this book?

  • The ending. Before my agent signed me, she made me change the ENTIRE ending. It was hard, I might have had a series of mental breakdowns, several stages of giving up, and a popped out rib from the stress…but I did it!

SG: Ugh! Endings are so hard! I’m so glad you made it, and I sure hope your rib is better! How did you come up with the title for KILLING RUBY ROSE?

  • I didn’t. My amazing agent, Sarah Davies did. The second she said it, I knew it was the one. (The title I had come up with was total crap).

SG: Just one of Sarah’s many talents, right? So, Jessie, is this your first book? If not, did you learn anything new when you wrote this?

  • No, it was my third (or fourth book–depending on how many times I revamped that first book). I learned a ton from those first couple attempts, namely: stop writing sucky books.

SG: I know what you mean! Have you ever wanted to strangle or shake one of your characters?

  • Yes, and then I did. Literally, have them strangled, stabbed, shot, set on fire, etc. What? My MC is a serial killer!

SG: Oh yeah! LOL! SO when you’re sitting at your computer, stuck, what distracts you?

  • Checking Facebook for what fabulous things my friends are doing while I’m stuck and suffering.

SG: Jessie, what is your favorite part of the whole process of getting this book from your idea and into the hands of readers?

  • Experiencing the making of the book trailer. From hiring the director and actors, to being physically present for the filming, to sharing it with the world. Seeing my characters come alive right before my eyes is cool beyond description. Also, the filmmaker, j.j. huckin, has decided that the footage he’s got is so good that he can’t stand to waste any of it and is turning it into a short film!

SG: Wow! That is incredible! I can’t wait to see it! Okay one more writing question: How long did it take to write the first draft of KILLING RUBY ROSE? Revisions?

  • First draft: 6 months. Revisions: 18 months (because revisions started all over again once I sold my book)

SG: And worth every minute of work and popped ribs, etc., I’m sure! Last question, Jessie. As this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

  • I’m afraid of shins. (It’s weird, I know).
  • I’m not afraid of failure. (I move past it all the time).!

 

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About the Author: Jessie Humphries was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. She received a BA from San Diego State University, where she cultivated her love of the beach, then lived in France, where she cultivated her weakness for shoes, and finally earned a law degree from UNLV, where she cultivated her interest in justice. After practicing law for several years she began writing, and, appropriately, her debut novel Killing Ruby Rose is a thriller about vigilante justice set in sunny southern California with a shoe-obsessed protagonist. Jessie currently writes and practices law in Las Vegas, where she lives with her husband and children.

Find Jessie online: website, blog, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, Goodreads

 

Shannon writer photo crop 2Shannon Grogan teaches kindergarten by day, and writes at Starbucks while her kids are at ballet and baseball. If she can stay off Twitter and stay awake, she writes at night, in a tiny logging town near Seattle, Washington. Her debut, FROM WHERE I WATCH YOU, will be published by Soho Teen, Spring 2015.