Wednesday, December 27, 2017

You Heard it Here First: Cover Reveal for DRIVE by Joyce Hostetter

I am honored to share the cover reveal for DRIVE, Joyce Hostetter's newest middle grade book that will be released in September by Calkins Creek. In this interview she gives you a glimpse of the backstory behind the latest in the Bakers Mountain Stories as well as the nitty gritty research she did. Take it away, Joyce!
Photo credit: Wendy Hostetter Davis

Synopsis

Ida and Ellie Honeycutt are identical twins whose personalities and internal drives are quite different. Ellie likes action and loves going to the local stock car speedway with its thrilling competitions. Ida, who hates the noise, dirt, and danger of racing, prefers quiet evenings at home pursuing her love of art.
Ellie tends to lead and Ida is mostly content to let her do so. They find security in their expected roles but entering high school gives them more separate experiences and forces them to function independently of each other. However nothing can stop them from falling for the same charming boy and finding themselves at increasing odds with each other.
Then a car accident forces them into new roles, affirms their unique identities, and leads them back to their deep loyalties to each other.

Carol: How did you arrive at the concept for DRIVE? 

Joyce: After my publisher suggested a prequel to BLUE (which eventually became AIM), I decided to create a series which is now known as the Bakers Mountain Stories. Five books seemed like a satisfactory number of volumes and would give each of the neighborhood youngsters a chance to tell his or her story.  (Ann Fay Honeycutt narrates two books, BLUE and COMFORT since she unknowingly kicked off the series!)   
Next in line were the twins. Of course I could have given them each their own separate books to narrate but being lumped together was also a twin dilemma I could utilize.  Mostly I wanted to explore their individuality in the context of the same story line. So I decided to write DRIVE from both of their voices and let their differing viewpoints create the conflict.  My goal was to have the reader pull for both of them even when they were at odds with each other.

Carol: Why did you call the book DRIVE?

I’ve always thought that, if I wrote a sequel to COMFORT, I’d want to share a bit of North Carolina’s NASCAR history.  The Hickory Motor Speedway opened in 1952, the year my story takes place, and we’ve had a number of exceptional drivers emerge from our area. Ned Jarrett grew up in the community and ran his first race at our speedway on the night that it opened. Jarrett represented racing so well via his competitive drive, his deep integrity, and his trailblazing career in NASCAR broadcasting. Including him as a character in the story was a real honor for me.
The historical backdrop for DRIVE is The Cold War, The Korean Conflict, and the presidential race between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. Ultimately, I see this book as being about competition, the drive to succeed, and what it means to win. 
In any competition, we tend to see winners and losers. But one person or party taking first place doesn’t have to mean loss for others. Winning is the result of facing challenges with integrity, admitting our mistakes, and learning more about ourselves and what makes us valuable—no matter what the outcome of the contest. In DRIVE Ida and Ellie discover what makes them each unique and a winner in her own right.

Carol: What challenges did you encounter while writing DRIVE?

Writing from two viewpoints is always more complicated than I imagine it will be. Each character’s story must be fully fleshed out while complementing the other’s.  There’s so much to cover— scenes they share, separate scenes, more characters to flesh out, and interior monologue and a story arc for each protagonist. My biggest challenge was getting it all in and making it work together without bogging the story down. Based on editor feedback I did some major rewriting which changed the story a lot. The heart of the story was unchanged but the narrative for reaching resolution was quite different.
Also regarding challenges—I have to say that securing a contract to write a novel before it’s actually fleshed out sounds like a writer’s dream. But this presents its own struggle.  Deadlines always arrive more quickly than I like!

Carol: What kind of research did you do?

I read about the twin experience, of course, but conversations with multiple sets of twins were the most helpful in understanding the complicated mix of deep love and intense competition that exists between many of them. I also interviewed local NASCAR legend, Ned Jarrett and spent lots of time at the library reading our local newspaper from 1952 & 1953.
YouTube was great for giving me glimpses of the 1952 presidential election and aspects of the Cold War. I also watched quite a few NASCAR documentaries and attended my first stock car race at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Hickory Motor Speedway

Carol: You mentioned five books in Bakers Mountain Stories.  So far you have AIM, BLUE, COMFORT and DRIVE. What’s next?

Something that starts with an E, of course. I anticipate the title to be EQUALITY since that was a big theme of the sixties. The youngest Honeycutt child, Jackie (a boy) will turn fourteen in 1960 and will experience some history making moments. I can’t wait to see the storyline evolve as I discover ideas while researching. Just getting started on that now!
Thanks so much Carol for listening and sharing DRIVE with your readers!

And without further ado, take a look at this beautiful cover!

One of the ways we can support our favorite authors is by pre-ordering their books. Guess what? DRIVE is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for pre-order! In 2018 you'll have the opportunity to win the ARC off my blog when I review it--but why wait? Order your copy now!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Fresh Voices in the Blogosphere



A young writer friend recently introduced me to a new blog entitled, Rebellious Writing. Organized by a precocious 14-year-old, the movement's mission is to promote clean young adult literature. To encourage these young bloggers and to promote their writing efforts, I decided to feature three Rebellious Writers on my blog along with two other young women with similar passions. Here are the questions I asked each to consider:

If you had the ear of a publisher or editor who is publishing YA literature, what would you say to her about the current state of the publishing industry? What are your concerns with the books that are being published right now?

"I think smut and low expectations for teens rule the YA world because books have begun to lower standards for teens, one reader at a time. Too often, I read books telling us teenagers that it's okay and perfectly normal to be misunderstood, unintelligent, impulsive, and constantly swearing teens, and that it is okay to write this way, because it is "realistic". When it isn't or shouldn't be.

As a rebellious writer, I want to re-write the standards for teen readers and writers. I want to bring light, truth, and good morals back to young adult, but I can't do that alone, no one can. I am with Rebellious Writing, because I believe that I can make a difference despite my age, and I believe others can too. It is time for teens to rise up against swearing, lust, abuse, and general glorified bad behavior in books. We need to take a stand, and with Rebellious Writing, we are doing just that."
Gray Marie Cox is a Christian Texas girl and author. She is a firm believer in good books for all.
Here is her AMAZING POST that began the Rebellious Writers Movement.
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"I believe that part of the reason that the literature industry is accepting this bad literature is because for the past 50-80 years, the youth culture has been steadily breaking down whatever moral limits that were placed on them. A culture developed between 1920-1950 that tolerated such moral abuses such as swearing, abuse and especially lust in the general culture, then a culture developed between 1950-1980 that accepted these abuses as a fact of life – facts of life that are now glorified in YA today.  

Two generations later, these abuses have become a chokehold on society and the trashy YA only strengthens itNothing short of an outright rebellion is going to elicit change. I’ve made a conscious decision to “scout out” the books that I plan to read for any pitfalls, and I’m helping others do the same. While the monetary impacts are likely to be small at first, the seeds have been planted. In the meantime, I shall weave my tales of fantasy." 


Catherine Hawthorn is an aspiring young Catholic authoress who wishes to follow the footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkein. When not mending plot holes by the firelight or chasing her rebellious muse, she reads everything from historical fiction to high fantasy literature. She is also the email coordinator for the Rebellious Writers Movement.

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"If I had the ear of a publisher or editor, I would want to tell them that their industry has room for much-needed improvement. It's a pain to find clean Young Adult fiction. I want to ask publishers, 'Are you not receiving much of any clean YA submissions? Tell me, does every one of them have sordid content, or are you just ignoring most of the books with pure content because lewdness seems to be all the rage these days?'

"Both reasons are awful. And this concerns me because even if adolescents - such as myself - want that kind of content, they shouldn't have it. Foul language and sexual immorality in YA poisons young minds.

"What do I want to do about this, you ask? I want to write a deep, but also God-honoring, YA novel. Then I want to publish it traditionally. Then I want to keep writing and publishing smut-free books for Jesus. With my teammates at Rebellious Writing and with everyone else who shares the same goal, we can make a difference. Together we strive to spark a revival in the world of YA lit."


Lila Kims is a young Christian writer who wants to someday publish clean novels that both honor God and appeal to readers all across the vast bookosphere. She loves cheese but dislikes tea, and she considers the sky one of the most beautiful parts of God's creation. Lila's favorite stories to read and write are fairy tale retellings. She is one of ten Rebellious Writers.

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"As a generation, us young adults have turned aside from morals and laws and wish to please ourselves. We don't want to hear about consequences or sin, but prefer to do (and say) whatever we want. Writers, aiming to appeal to the youth of today and make their characters and situations “relatable”, then write like what we have become, which only furthers the downward spiral…until smut happens. Very few writers are willing to risk being unpopular by writing something different, and readers, avoiding cleaner literature for fear of being preached at, continue to reach for books with suggestive content. I believe that it is possible to tell a good story without being explicit, using coarse language, and (at the other end of the spectrum) being preachy, and we need to support and purchase from writers who do so. I write, and encourage others who write, clean YA literature in all genres."
Julian Daventry grew up in a house with books in every room, and acquired a taste for reading at an early age.  After reaching her teen years, the amount of "readable" material lessened greatly, and she began to write the stories she so desperately wanted to read. When not writing or blogging, Julian songwrites, runs long-distance, and rides gigantic horses. 

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"I’m sorry that our world is the way it is, where trash sells and gold doesn’t. I truly believe that most publishers are people who want to produce good literature, but are held at the whims of the market. They settle for sub-par because their readers demand it with pitchforks and torches. 

"It seems there are two extremes writers tend to swing towards: perfect characters, with no flaws, or gross, twisted characters, with no recourse for their actions. The result from either end is a trashy, unhelpful book. We need characters with flaws, but who try hard to fight against their shortcomings. 

"I want to write books with redemption. Characters who fall hard, but are given a second chance. People who, when they learn the difference between right and wrong, strive to make right choices. 

"I also want to support and commend, in whatever way possible, the endeavors of other authors who write these kinds of books. By doing this, I can show the publishing industry that clean books do have a market and that they do sell."

Sarah Rodecker is a Christian twenty-something ailurophile who loves food, books, and making things for others. With seven first-draft novels completed, she is focusing on editing her first book, The Dawn of a Hero.
She also leads her writing group, The Order of the Pen.

I hope these young writers will inspire you as much as they have inspired me! Please check out their blogs as well as the Rebellious Writing blog. 

How would you answer the questions I posed?






Monday, December 11, 2017

Shared WIP Tag IV: Questions on Writing


Congratulations to my Grand Prize Winner, Charlene Lutes, who won a Hattie doll and an autographed copy of Hattie On Her Way; and to Connie Saunders who won an autographed copy of the book. Thanks to so many of you who entered this giveaway. Make sure you check out Clara's blog for a wonderful writerly giveaway!

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I am embarrassed to admit that I'm almost two months late for the final installment of the Shared WIP tag. Better late than never! (If you're curious, you can find the previous posts here.)



1. What do you do to get yourself in the story?

I usually re-read a few scenes prior to the one I'm working on. Sometimes I complete an exercise from a blog that I'm following or one from Donald Maass's excellent book:


2. Do you do anything extra- art, covers, character journals, glossaries, playlists, etc to help you with your story?

I have several journals (some written in long hand, some in files on my computer). I also use picture from Pinterest a lot, such as this one:

Fredi Washington refused to "pass" for white as Hollywood suggested.
Therefore she was type cast as mixed race and never allowed a flourishing career.
b-1903; d-1994

3. What is your writing process?

Simple answer: Write. Read. Revise. Repeat as often as necessary. 

Expanded answer: I try to write forward as much as possible. That means not going back to tweak previous chapters or scenes, not editing as I go, or not stopping to look up details. I have found that it's a really good idea to let your work rest before tackling revisions --but sometimes I'm too impatient. I am currently reading my manuscript aloud to a neighbor which is extremely helpful. I can't believe how many errors I'm finding!

Extra answer: I am a serious plotter. I need a road map to figure out what I should write next. As a result, I create outlines in Word, move chapters around on One Stop for Writers and Scrivener. Then I feel free to let go and write.

4. Anything you would like to share about yourself or your writing that you would like to share?

Both my protagonist, Kate Dinsmore, and I want the same thing. But you'll have to read the book to find out what that is!

5. What keeps you going when you start to worry you'll never finish?

   a. I love the story and believe the theme will touch readers.
   b. My "Aaron" friends.

6. What inspired you to start writing and how long have you been at it?

When I was in junior high my mother used to tell me that "I had a way with words." Her praise and confidence in my abilities inspired me. The answer to the second part of your question gives away my age! Since I first started sending poems to magazines when I was in high school, I suppose I've been at this for over 50 years. (YIKES!). My first published article was in the mid-1970's. 

7. What author is your writing style similar to?

I honestly don't know! I'm trying to be as scrupulous in my research and as intergenerational as Joyce Hostetter, and as able to employ imagery through similes and metaphors as Linda Phillips. But you'll have to ask them, after Half-Truths is published, if I was successful!

8. What writing goals do you set and how do you reward yourself for meeting them?

My writing goals change depending on what stage I'm in with my book. When I'm crafting new chapters, then 1500 words a day is great. Right now I'm revising and I think more in terms of spending 2-3 hours a day on it.

My reward is anything that tastes like this:

Or, checking my email or peeking at Facebook.

9. What does a regular writing day look like?

I prefer to write in the morning when I'm freshest, but life doesn't always co-operate. I'd like to think I could write, take a lunch break, and then go back to it again--but usually other commitments or lack of brain power keep me from a second writing session.

10. How many writing ideas do you currently have saved on your computer/flash drive?

Not that many. I have ideas for a prequel and some ideas for first readers/picture books. But mostly I'm focusing on Half-Truths. If you asked me how many drafts or lesson plans for teaching writing...now that would be a different story. 

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There you have it. I FINALLY completed this 4-part series. Apparently the ring-leader for this Shared Tag, Julian Daventry, will be egging us on to new blogging heights in February. If she'll have me--dragging my feet as I am--you'll get another round of posts then. Meanwhile, here are the other bloggers who shared this adventure:


Monday, December 4, 2017

Hattie On Her Way: A Review and TWO Giveaways!

Congratulations to Linda Phillips. Random.org selected her name to win an audio book off last week's blog.

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Several weeks ago I pulled one of the books I received at Highlight Summer CampHattie on Her Way (Candlewick Press, 2005) off my TBR shelf. Written by my friend and fellow blogger, Clara Gillow Clark, this girls' middle grade novel weaves together some troubling family situations in a very sensitive manner.


The Review

A sequel to Clara's first book, Hill Hawk Hattie, this book opens in April of 1883 with Hattie arriving at her grandmother's house. Right away, the reader hears her voice:
Pa said hawks don't crash into mountains or trees. He said they fly alert, watchful. But suppose a hawk got itself blown off course, ended up somewhere strange, somewhere it didn't rightly belong? Could it find its way home, fly back to its nest in the hills again? (p. 1)
The imagery of hawks and the theme of Hattie yearning for home repeat themselves. Surrounded by secrets, Hattie tries to get used to living with a grandmother she doesn't know in the house where her deceased mother grew up.
If she [Grandmother] thought we were on the same side together, she might share the shadowy secrets of Grandfather, and why the keys had gone missing and the silver was squirreled away, and why she didn't wear black, and where all the furniture and pictures had gone, and why she had hurried Pa away, and mostly why Ma had run off and never come back. It was a powerful lot to find out. And that's why I had to stay here and behave properly, though sitting so close to Grandmother made me even more lonesome for Pa and Jasper and my real home. (p.28)

A young next door neighbor, Ivy Victoria, pretends to befriend her. Ivy doesn't know that Hattie's mother is dead but relays the town rumor that her mother ran off with her father because her Grandmother killed her Grandfather. This theory only lends credence to Hattie's over-active imagination. 

Hattie's relationship with her Grandmother warms up when she sings Hattie the same songs she sang to her mother. That new closeness makes Hattie think,
Somehow I knew it better not to tell Grandmother about Ma's fairies becoming real to her. "Can you hear the fairies in the hemlocks?" Ma would say to me. All I heard was the wind. "See their gossamer wings?" All I saw were rainbows on raindrops or crystals of frost. She would tilt her head and smile. "They wish me to sing and dance with them," she would say. "Will you dance too, Hattie Belle?" The fairy make-believe was mostly enchanting.  But I didn't want to dance about in the clearing with invisible things or answer them like they were asking me questions or telling me what to do." (p. 63)
On the day that Grandmother unlocks her mother's bedroom, the two of them inspect her mother's dollhouse where she made up imaginary fairies rather than played with dolls. When her Grandmother finds little dresses and cloaks that her mother had made,
A sick feeling came over me like we were caught in a blinding snow together, and I shivered. "She sewed little dresses and bonnets for my clothespin dolls," I said. "She just liked to do it, sew dainty things." I reassured myself that Ma's fairy world had been make-believe and enchanting for both of us until just a few months before she died.
"Yes," Grandmother said slowly, thoughtfully as if she'd stumbled onto something a bit troubling and sad.  (p.121)
In the end, Hattie discovers the truth of the mental illness that plagued both her grandfather and her mother. This "madness" is dealt with in a very sensitive manner and enables Hattie to make an important decision. 

Girls in grades 4-6 will enjoy this historical novel. The only scene that may trouble some sensitive readers is a seance towards the end of the book.  

Two Giveaways

Clara is generously sponsoring this give away. The first winner will receive a Hattie doll plus an autographed copy of the book. The runner-up will receive an autographed copy of the book. What are you waiting for? This is a great holiday gift for the younger sister, daughter, niece, or granddaughter in your life! Please leave me a comment by December 8. Share this on the social media of your choice or become a new follower of my blog, and I'll never your name twice. PLEASE leave your email address and tell me what you did.


Lulu & Rocky in MILWAUKEE: A Grandmother/Grandson Review and Giveaway

Congratulations to Jo Lynn Worden who won Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature and to Linda Phillips who won The Elephant Whisperer ....