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LYNDA MULLALY HUNT INTERVIEW AND ONE FOR THE MURPHYS GIVEAWAY

First I want to thank everyone who read my Never Surrender Blogfest post on Friday. It was something very personal I went through and I appreciate all the kind comments.

Today Casey's doing a guest post at Darcy Pattison's Fiction Notes today on Top Ten Tips on Getting An Agent. Go check it out here. It sounds fantastic and Darcy's blog is a great one to follow. This is Casey's first guest post and my first one is coming up on Wednesday. (Details at the end of the post.) How weird is that?

Before I get to my awesome interview, I'll announce the winner of A SPY LIKE ME. The winner is:

JULIE MUSIL!

Congrats! I've already contacted Julie.

Today I’m excited to interview Lynda Mullaly Hunt about her debut book ONE FOR THE MURPHYS that was released May 10, 2012. I really enjoyed that this was a story about a kid in foster care. And I read it super fast—in one day.

Here’s a description from Goodreads

A moving debut novel about a foster child learning to open her heart to a family's love

Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she's blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie-cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong--until her mother wants her back and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She's not really a Murphy, but the gifts they've given her have opened up a new future.

Hi Lynda. Thanks so much for joining us.

1.      Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became an author.

Well, I became an author through my love of writing. As a kid, I wrote song lyrics more than I wrote stories, though. As a student at UConn, I took two classes that spurred me on; one was Children’s Literature Appreciation where I wrote my first story for children. The second was a high level writing class which was not required, but I took it anyway; I’d heard it was like a writing boot camp—and it was, but I learned a lot!
As a teacher, I began writing for my students with the idea that if they could grade/correct me that they would dig deep in analyzing a writing piece--and they did! These exercises were when I really began to see how much I loved to write—even if I was intentionally writing flawed pieces.

2.      I wish I would have taken some writing classes in college. One of the things I loved about ONE FOR THE MURPHYS is that Carley is in foster care. I don’t see many stories about nontraditional families and I’m drawn to those stories since my daughter is adopted. What made you decide to write a book about a girl in foster care?

Funny the way my writing brain works! I never decided consciously to write about foster care. One day while rinsing a dish, this voice just rang in my head. I knew that she was in the hospital, confused, fatigued and upset. I also know that she was a foster child. Then, I went about researching the topic a bit and thinking a lot about the experience of being dropped into someone else’s family. 

I actually know what this is like, as I lived with another family for three months when I was young. It was a side of life I didn’t know existed and I left their home with a new vision for what my future could hold. That I would create that kind of family-oriented life for myself one day.

However, in reference to crafting the book, one thing I did make a conscious decision about was that I would write a book about a positive foster experience. Although it was suggested by editors at conferences that an abusive family may be more interesting, I knew that One for the Murphys would never be a story like that. 


3.      I'm glad you kept it positive. Because it's like the importance of showing diverse races in MG and YA books. There are a lot of kids in different family situations and it's important that books kids read reflect these different family situations in positive ways. What research did you do to get Carley’s feelings about her home life and being in a foster home right?

I don’t think you can really research feelings—at least I can’t. I drew upon experiences in my life when I may have felt similar to Carley in One for the Murphys and applied it to her circumstances.

4.      Well I'm guessing it helped that you could rely on your own experiences. Those of us who don't have any experiences like that might need to read some books about that family situation to understand some of the feelings involved. One of the relationships I enjoyed watching grow was Carley’s relationship with Daniel. Tell us about how you developed the changes in their relationship and share any tips on how to do so realistically.

Thanks, Natalie! Well, the one thing I knew about Daniel right away was that he did not want Carley in his house. It made him feel as if someone was on his turf. He worried about his mother loving someone else as much as him.

I knew that Carey loved basketball, so I made the decision to have Daniel play, too, with plans that they would eventually connect on this. However, it took longer for Daniel to warm up than I thought it might. J

5.      That was a great move to pick basketball as a way they could connect. Mrs. Murphy is a complex character too. Did you draw on your own life in developing her?

At first, the character of Mrs. Murphy was based on a mentor friend of mine that took me under her wing when I was a young teacher. I learned much about her—about children and marriage and being a mother. In fact, I dedicated the book to her (and my hubby as well!).

6.      Let’s more onto the business aspect of writing. Tell us about your road to publication and how Erin Murphy became your agent. Do you have any advice on the querying process?

Well, when I was ready for an agent, I researched like a fiend. I made charts showing what they’d been selling, took tons of notes on piles of interviews, and also researched their clients. Then went about ranking the agents I wanted to query. Erin Murphy had my top spot.

Thing was, Erin did not/does not accept queries unless you have a recommendation from one of her clients or have met her in person. I didn’t know her clients, but I did see that she would be at a group book signing in Vermont, so I drove five and a half hours to meet her. She agreed to let me send a query, then she asked for 50 pages and then she asked for the full. After reading the full, she asked to see excerpts of other things I’d written. After all of this, we had a phone conference. Finally she asked for some revisions on OFTM, which I happily (and nervously) did. Soon after, we signed together! One of the best things I’ve done as a writer—on many levels.

7.      Wow! That's total dedication to finding an agent to drive so far to meet her. I met Erin at a SCBWI conference once. I was really impressed by her. 

      I’ve heard a lot of authors say marketing a middle grade book is harder than a YA book. Tell us about your marketing plan. Also I’ve seen that you’re being interviewed on a few of the mostly YA book reviews blogs like I Am A Reader Not A Writer. Share how you were able to reach out to those type of book review blogs and get them to agree to interview you. 

Well, I just sent an honest note to each of them asking if they would. If I asked, there was something about their site that I was really drawn to or something about their site (or them as a person) that told me that they might enjoy a book like MURPHYS. I read the work of a ton more bloggers than I wrote to. Like anything in this business, it is important to do your homework. J

8.      That's great advice to do research on the bloggers you're reaching out too. No one's suggested that before. What are you working on now?

Happily, I have a second novel entitled ALPHABET SOUP under contract with Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin). I couldn’t be happier to be working with my publisher and editor on another book!

Thanks Lynda for sharing your advice. You can find Lynda at her Website, Blog, and Twitter@Lynmullalyhunt.

Lynda generously offered an ARC for a giveaway. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on June 30th. I’ll announce the winner on July 2nd. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by ShannonWhitney Messenger to spotlight middle grade authors. Check out the other Middle Grade group:

Brennan and Meyrick Murphy
Andrea Mack
Laurisa Reyes
Kim Aippersbach
Akossiwa Ketoglo
Julie from That's Swell
Jemi Fraser

Here's what's coming up. On Wednesday, I'm doing a guest post at Seeing Creative with advice on how to conduct a good interview. I'll post a reminder on Wednesday about this. 

On Friday, we have a guest post by Luke Reynolds. He's interviewing agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. Can't wait to read the interview.

On Monday I'm interviewing Karen Halvorsen Schreck about her newly released YA book WHILE HE WAS AWAY.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's agent spotlights on Thursday.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

 



46 comments:

  1. Such an interesting interview! Thanks for featuring this book. It's one I've been wanting to read - and now I want to even more.

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  2. I look forward to reading the book! Sounds great.

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  3. This sounds like a marvelous book! I love that you stuck to your guns, Lynda, and kept it positive even though you were told it would sell better with a negative spin. Good for you, to highlight the good side even if it's not so popular!

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  4. Great interview! Now that's drive when it comes to finding your dream agent. But considering it's next to impossible to query Erin, it was definitely a smart move.

    Thanks for the tip on the blogging tip. :D

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  5. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the interview and letting us get to know Lynda a bit more!

    kellybrown28021@gmail.com

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  6. This sounds fantastic, and I appreciate the chance to win an ARC.

    Thank you for the interview. I loved hearing how you got your agent, Lynda.

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  7. Congrats to Lynda! I'm a social worker and one of my novels also has a character in foster care. I'm so curious about your book, but I should wait until I'm done revising. I'm so impressed you drove all that way to meet Erin Murphy!

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  8. This sounds like a great book! I especially like that she's showing the foster care system in a positive light. I'm not particularly familiar with it, but I had a friend in high school who was adopted and she always spoke about how she was so glad she'd been given to the wonderful family who adopted her. While abusive stories are compelling, they kind of make it seem like the entire foster care system is a nightmare. I'm sure there are aspects of it that are unpleasant, but if the entire thing were that terrible, we wouldn't be using it at all. Kudos to this author for sticking to her guns and putting out a positive story for kids! :D

    lkhill.blogspot.com

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  9. The book sounds great, and I love her tenacity in driving 5 1/2 hours to meet the agent of her dreams! I am so impressed. Congratulations to Lynda on her debut publication!

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  10. Yay! for Julie!!

    It's great to meet you, Lynda. The book sounds wonderful. I really like the cover. Best of luck to you. ;D

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  11. I met Lynda and heard her speak on a panel of authors of quiet books. Honestly, quiet books are anything but quiet. They are packed with emotion. This book sounds terrific!

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  12. Great interview. I like the fact that she drove 5and a half hours to meet her dream agent. Good luck, Lynda!

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  13. Love the interview and getting to know more about the writing behind One for the Murphys. Carley sounds like a sweet girl, and I like the foster care aspect of the novel. I really want to read this book!

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  14. I've heard such amazing things about this book!

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  15. I've been hearing such wonderful things about this novel. Foster care really just terrifies me. I just couldn't imagine it!
    GFC: Vivien
    tweet:
    https://twitter.com/deadtossedwaves/status/214750879293771779

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

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  16. Great stuff. Thanks for introducing Lynda! :)

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  17. Hey, Natalie! Thanks so much for posting our interview; I'm honored to be here. Thanks, also, to all of your followers for the kind commnets that they have made thus far. Take care, Lynda

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  18. I'd love to win this book. laurisawhitereyes at yahoo dot com. And I'm tweeting this giveaway! And congrats to Julie Musil!!!

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  19. I could not stop reading ONE FOR THE MURPHYS. My 10 yr old devoured it in one afternoon! Now her 13 yr old sister is reading it! (Stayed up until 11pm with the book, but hey, it's summer. :) )
    The writing drips with authentic MG voice.
    And don't forget about the heart...you'll need tissues for this one.
    *Posting this link on Twitter!*

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  20. So nice to hear the background on ONE FOR THE MURPHYS... such a fabulous book.

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  21. Congrats to Julie! I know she'll love the book. :D You do such an awesome job with interviews. I always get so much out of the ones you put up. The book sounds truly touching.

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  22. Lovely interview for a great book! Thanks, ladies!

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  23. this book sounds so beautiful - a fish out of water with a twist :)

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  24. What a great interview! I've heard a lot of great buzz about this one, so glad it's being received so well! Thanks, ladies! :)

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  25. Awesome interview. Love that you used your stories to teach your students editing. I've done the same thing :) It's fun. Looking forward to reading your book!

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  26. Can't wait to read this book! I am constantly looking for MG with nontraditional family structures! Thanks for this great interview!

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  27. Loved the interview.
    Glad Lynda you stuck to your original idea of a positive foster care experience instead the one the publisher suggested.
    Wonderful interview.


    The giveaway looks great!
    GFC Follower-Cassandra Ruiz

    E-mail-bookandmoviedimensionblogger [at]yahoo[dot]com

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  28. Great interview. I LOVED One for the Murphys. I'm tempted to have you put me in the drawing so I could read the book again since I gave my copy away on my blog, but I think you should give it to someone who hasn't yet had the pleasure. Someone will be very happy they won this wonderful book.

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  29. Awesome interview! Wow 5 hr drive to meet your agent. That's so cool that it all worked out. Congrats!

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  30. Great interview! Sounds like a really good book, thanks for the chance to win!

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  31. ONE FOR THE MURPHYS looks absolutely wonderful. Thank you for such a great interview.

    GFC: Mary Preston

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  32. I'm glad you were true to yourself after hearing conference advice. It's so hard to process what we learn from mentors. I'd love to win your book!

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  33. Sounds like a great book! Thanks for doing this.

    cerickson at integra dot net

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  34. Took me an entire box of tissues to get through OFTM but I loved every moment of it!

    Gave my copy away to someone else who would appreciate it, but would love to win the ARC so I can peruse it at leisure.

    Bravo! An amazing, well written book.

    cathy54321 at hotmail dot com

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  35. Sounds like an awesome read! :)
    -jennybelieves@gmail.com

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  36. "it was suggested by editors at conferences that an abusive family may be more interesting..."

    Lynda, I'm glad you stuck to your guns. Your interview and book had me thinking of a foster family I know of with kids in that exact situation--a couple siblings connected with the foster family, foster family went about trying to adopt, parents decided they wanted the kids back.

    I've read plenty of negative foster kid stories, but never any positive ones, and I think it's a little sad editors would suggest you change this. Once again--glad you stuck to your guns!

    -Mandy

    HeadDeskForWriters (at) gmail (dot) com

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  37. thanks for the giveaway... :)

    anubha56@gmail.com

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  38. Lynda,
    I would love to read this and then pass it to my friend who adopted four children. The family's last name is Murphy. How cool! Thanks for the tip about searching out blogs as a part of marketing.

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  39. Sounds like a great read! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  40. I LOVED this book and would love to add it to my classroom library!

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  41. I can't WAIT to read this book. My to read stack is overflowing as it is, but something about this book seems extra special. Great interview!
    --Carter Higgins

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  42. Thanks for the great info and giveaway Lynda! Fingers crossed...

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  43. Thanks for the great info and giveaway Lynda! Fingers crossed...

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  44. Ohh, I'm in love with the cover!Anyway, it looks like a good book!

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  45. Enjoyed the interview. Thank you. I would love to add this book to my classroom library.

    juli
    uffdauff@msn.com

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  46. I agree - this would be great for the classroom!
    I'd love to win the book!

    LisaRosenman@hotmail.com

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