Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Guest Post by Kristin Mahoney

Author, Kristin Mahoney
 Welcome Kristin Mahoney!  
Kristin's book that's on the NYSRA Charlotte Book Award Intermediate Ballot. 
1.    I wrote Annie’s Life in Lists because . .. 

I noticed that my two daughters liked to make lists of things that were important to them, and I thought it would be really interesting to try telling a whole story as a series of lists.

I also liked the idea of writing about a kid who had a knack for remembering tiny details about people that others might never even notice. That’s what I was like as a kid (and as an adult too, actually!).

2.    Readers should read my books . ..

if they like stories about funny things that happen to regular kids. Also if they like stories about kids who usually want to do what’s right, but are realizing as they get older that it’s not always so easy to know what the right choice is.
3.    My favorite place to read . . .

In summer: on a beach or my screened-in porch

In winter: Under a blanket by the fireplace
4.    A book that has touched my heart . . .

There are so many! I will say the first that always comes to mind is Charlotte’s Web. But two more recent examples are Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar and The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore.
5.    I collect my ideas for writing . . .

Lots of places…memories from my own childhood, conversations with my children (who are currently both in middle school), funny things I notice in the world. Before I wrote my second book, The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School, I actually emailed a bunch of friends and asked them to tell me about unique “characters” they’d known when they were in middle school and high school. Some of their examples found their way into the book. I find that most people I meet have so many fantastic and funny stories (I just make sure to ask for permission before putting them into a book!).

6.    A project I’m currently working on . . .

My next book is scheduled to be published in the summer of 2021. It doesn’t have a title yet, but I can tell you it’s about a fifth-grader who wants to be perfect all the time…and how she handles the consequences when things don’t go according to plan for her.
7.    Readers should know . . . 

That I love hearing their thoughts about my books! It’s so interesting to me to learn which characters readers identify with, what makes them laugh, and what makes them think about life differently.

I remember taking a class in college where I learned that some writers believe that once their work is in the world, it no longer belongs to them. Instead, it belongs to the readers. And I really like that idea…it’s fascinating that readers can help me look at something I wrote in a whole new way!

Thank you so much for visiting, Kristin!  

Make sure to visit Kristin's website!


Friday, November 15, 2019

A Guest Post by Rhonda Gowler-Greene

Rhonda Gowler-Greene

I'd like to give a warm welcome to Rhonda Gowler Greene, author of The First Men Who Went to the Moon, which is on the New York State Reading Association's Charlotte Book Award Intermediate ballot.      


1.   I wrote The First Men Who Went to the Moon because I had written other books in the same circular, poetic pattern (example - The Very First Thanksgiving Day) and they were successful.  I thought- What other historical event could I write about?  The journey of Apollo 11 popped in my head, maybe because I actually watched the first Moon landing and walk on live TV when I was a kid. 
I didn’t write the story with the 50th anniversary (2019) of the Apollo 11 mission in mind, but I was excited and pleased that the publisher (Sleeping Bear Press) worked hard to get the book out in time for the worldwide anniversary celebration.

2.  Readers should read my books to…
a) learn interesting facts about historical events (such as in The First Men   
Who Went to the Moon),
b) have fun with reading (in No Pirates Allowed! Said Library Lou), and…
c) look for good writing craft.

3.  My favorite place to read is next to a fireplace.   I’m lucky because the house my husband and I moved into a couple of years ago has fireplaces in the kitchen, living room, and a bedroom.   I love to curl up in a cozy chair with a good book right next to a warm, glowing fire- even in summer!

4.  A book that has touched my heart is Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.  It’s beautifully written.  Plus, I love free verse novels.  It won the Newbery Award a while back, in 1998.  There are actually so many children’s books that have touched my heart.  Another one is Mr. Putter & Tabby Write the Book by my favorite author, Cynthia Rylant.  (I got to meet her once!)  I love all her books, but this one really hits home.  It’s so warm and funny.  And I’m going to squeeze one more in, a newer one—The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart.  Wow, I couldn’t put that one down.  I predict it will be a contender for the 2020 Newbery Award.

5.  I collect my ideas for writing most often when I’m reading other children’s books.  My house is like a library!  It’s absolutely full of kids’ books, from picture books to novels.  I study the books and read them like a writer.  I jot down my ideas on any paper that happens to be near me.  I’ve learned if I don’t write down an idea the very moment it comes to me, I usually forget it.  I keep these ideas in a file folder.  Or some, I’ve put in a computer file.   

6.  A project I’m currently working on is a picture book about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  I don’t know yet if an editor will want to buy the manuscript, but—fingers crossed!

7.  Readers should know I got 220 rejections (for about a dozen different stories) before I ever sold a manuscript.  That was over twenty years ago.  The First Men Who Went to the Moon is my 28th book.  I think it takes three P’s to get published— 
Passion, Persistence, and Patience.  Though I still get lots of rejections and it’s very frustrating at times, I don’t give up.  

When signing my Apollo 11 book, I always add– ‘Dream Big!  Reach for the stars!’  To accomplish any major goal, I think it requires dreaming big, working really hard, and not giving up.  It takes that for me to get a book published.  And on a much larger scale, it took that (and a team of 400,000 people!) to land humans on the Moon and get them safely back to Earth.

 Thanks so much for the interview!

Thank YOU Rhonda!  

Watch the book trailer for The First Men Who Went to the Moon . . . 

Make sure to visit Rhonda's website!


Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Guest Post by Kate Messner

Kate Messner

Hello Kate Messner!  Welcome to Mrs. Merrill's Book Break!  Congratulations on having your book, The Exact Location of Home selected for the Intermediate New York State Charlotte Book Award Ballot!  

Kate says . . .

1.      I wrote THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME because at the time, a young person's loss of a home  wasn't something that was addressed in many middle grade novels, and yet more than a million kids experience homelessness each year. As a former middle school teacher and as someone who wants all kids to feel seen, it was important for me to explore this experience in a way that's realistic but also offers hope.

2.       Readers should read my books if they're curious people, like I am! Probably most writers to answer this question by saying something like "if they like mythology!" or "if they love nonfiction!" But the truth is, I write all over the place, just like I enjoy reading lots of different kinds of books. The one common thread, though, is curiosity. Every book begins with me wondering about something, whether that's how we might be able to manage invasive Burmese pythons in Florida, to what it's like to experience homelessness as a middle schooler, to what happens during a prison break. So I think my books are great for readers who have that same kind of thirsty curiosity about lots of different things.

3.       My favorite place to read is on my deck in the summertime, overlooking Lake Champlain.

4.       A book that has touched my heart is TWO NAOMIS by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick. I loved this story about two girls finding friendship and family, even though it means uncomfortable changes. (And the sequel, NAOMIS,TOO, is wonderful as well!)

5.       I collect my ideas for writing in a notebook that I carry with me everywhere I go. As a writer, you never really turn off your writing brain, so you never know when you'll see something or hear something and think "Ohh! I want to know more about that!" or "Ah! That's a cool idea for a book!"  

6.       A project I’m currently working on is a new nonfiction series aimed at undoing the lies we tell small children about history. It's called HISTORY SMASHERS and the first two books, about the Mayflower and Women's Right to Vote, will be out from Random House in July. They're illustrated by Dylan Meconis (including some graphic/comic sequences!)  and I can't wait for you to see them! 

7.       Readers should know that I believe in telling kids the truth, even when that truth makes adults uncomfortable sometimes. That's why I've written novels for kids about homelessness, and the impact of the opioid epidemic on families.


For lots more information about Kate and her books, be sure to visit Kate's website.   

Thank you for visiting my blog Kate!