Four new heroines are about to enter the book world in this romance series full of swoon-worthy guys, comical moments, witty dialogue, and hot kisses…
Find the series on Goodreads.
Read the prequel novella, FORGIVEN, for FREE at most online retailers!
And Laura Pauling has a new YA contemporary novel that just released called website.
And Laura Pauling has a new YA contemporary novel that just released called website.
I have a few winners to announce.
The winner of THE EIGHTH DAY is Claudia McCarron!
And the winner of ROSE AND THE LOST PRINCESS is Jess Lawson!
Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.
Today I’m thrilled to be a part of debut author Tracy Holczer’s blog tour and to have here here to share about her debut MG contemporary book, THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY that released on May 1, 2014. This sounds like a fantastic story I think you’ll like. And it’s gotten fantastic blurbs including:
"Tracy Holczer's story is a lyric about love and loss and not being able to find your future until you've uncovered your past."
— Richard Peck, author of Newbery winning A Year Down Yonder
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:
After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.
Lyrical, poignant and fresh, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a beautifully told middle grade tale with a great deal of heart.
Hi Tracy! Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
I became a writer because of All the Things. A childhood filled with wonder and nature and love and awfulness. All of those experiences mixed together into a stew and I just have this deep need to unwind it and get it down. My stories are not autobiographical in their literal circumstances, but the emotional circumstances are written from my experience with loss and joy and that overwhelming feeling I had as a kid that things just had to get better. And they did. So for me, it’s important to deliver that message to my readers, but also, writing those types of stories is a constant reminder to myself.
2. That’s great that your writing reminds you of this too. Where did you get the idea for your story?
I sat down quite a few years ago to capture something that happened in my own childhood. I had a statue named Mary that I believed was magic—believed it so hard that I brought it to school for show and tell and would tell anyone who asked about its magical properties. One girl laughed at me and my ridiculous claims, so I told her I’d prove it by throwing Mary onto the hard asphalt. When it shattered, something broke in me, too, and later, I felt drawn to write about what happened. But, interestingly, characters have their own needs and so those particular circumstances from my past fell away as I concentrated more on the feelings they inspired. A lack of faith, a feeling of disconnection, grief. Grace came alive because of what happened to me as a kid, but she took on a life of her own as I gave myself over to the process of story. And healing.
3. It’s great how you drew on your own experiences for the inspiration for your story. Voice is so important, especially in middle grade stories. Did Grace’s voice come easily to you and what tips do you have on getting the middle grade character’s voice right?
Grace’s voice was always there. In fact, I’ve struggled a bit in my new story with the voice because Grace’s way of looking at things still butts in from time to time. My best advice on writing for middle grade is revisiting your own middle grade years. Really go there. Focus on the emotion of the time; the white-hot joy, the overwhelming heartbreak, the expansion of ideas and wrong turns. Also, read a hundred middle grades, one right after the other. Write down what made them work, what sorts of emotions were on the page. Embrace your middle-grade self. She’s in there.
4. I know your advice is true, but must I really go back to those painful years? Just kidding. I know cranes play a role in your story. Share a bit about them and why you decided they would be important to the story.
One of the components of the story is migration. Mama moves she and Grace all over the state of
5. That’s amazing how you just discovered the crane reserve close to the setting for your book. What was a challenge you faced craft-wise in writing THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY and how did you overcome it?
PLOT. Traditional thinking around plot is that the character must have an external goal. It wasn’t until finding Robert Olen Butler’s FROM WHERE YOU DREAM that I discovered the idea that it’s enough for the character to have a strong yearning for something they aren’t emotionally equipped to handle. The story then goes about breaking down the barriers that stand in the way of achieving happiness. Once I got this, it was easier to provide an external plot. I highly recommend the book for everyone, but especially those looking to write contemporary, character driven stories.
6. Robert Butler’s book sounds like a great read for contemporary writers. I’ve read that you enjoy reading books on the craft of writing. What are three of your favorites and why do you recommend them?
I use different pieces of craft books at different times. To get down a first draft, I use Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT, but only the beat sheet. As a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer, this helped me tremendously in plotting just enough to get myself to the next structural marker in the story, without feeling burdened by a too specific outline. The one I use in revision is THE PLOT WHISPERER. This one helps in getting to know each of the characters as well as provide every possible idea for how to organize the mess I just created. FROM WHERE YOU DREAM is one to use all along the way for inspiration and as a reminder to trust my instincts.
7. I use the ideas from SAVE THE CAT too and I’ve heard of THE PLOT WHISPERER. I’ll have to check it out. Rosemary Stimola is your agent. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?
I really wanted someone who I felt “got” my work, would invest in me as a writer with their time and effort, and who published other books in the same vein as mine. Secondarily, it would be nice to have someone with connections in other areas – foreign markets, film and TV. So, I went to querytracker and pulled up a list of possibilities, and then read interviews, went to agency websites and read clients’ books. When I had my list, Ro was at the very top. At first, though, I thought, “Um. Hunger Games. This is so not going to happen.” But then I found this in an interview Literary Rambles linked to on Cynsations where Ro stated, “… I never walk away from a pitch-perfect, character-driven middle grade with the right blend of humor and pathos.”
After sending a query, she requested the manuscript just before Christmas 2012 and got back to me in early January with a revision request. After a revise and resubmit, I sent it back and she offered representation. It was all so surreal. You have this dream for years and then, BAM, it’s not a dream anymore. It’s actually happening. Ro has been perfect for me. She is no-nonsense, professional and concise. She returns emails within minutes and loves to brainstorm. I have never once felt like a small fish in her big pond. She treats everyone like a rock star and I’m so happy she’s with me on this journey.
We went on submission in late February and had a two-book deal in May with Stacey Barney at Putnam/Penguin. Another total dream come true. I would say that everyone needs to publish with Stacey, but you can’t have her. She’s mine. However, everyone should publish with Penguin. They are incredible. Ro has since sold rights to Konigskinder/Carlsen in Germany, at auction, and brought HUM along to Bologna and London where I’m waiting, not-too patiently, to hear news.
8. I met Rosemary at a SCBWI weekend conference. She’s a fantastic speaker so I can imagine what an amazing agent she must be. I know you’re doing a blog tour. How did you decide on the blogs for your tour and what advice do you have for middle grade authors setting up their debut blog tour?
I researched blogs that I thought would have an interest in contemporary middle grades, or who primarily focus on middle grade. I pitched myself and offered to send a galley. I took up people on their offers for an interview or review if they came my way. The advice I would give is to keep it to ten blogs or less and don’t focus on the blog’s readership numbers as much as the connection you feel to that blog’s reviews/personality, etc. Always lead with your heart.
9. That’s great advice on setting up a blog tour. I’m flattered you included Literary Rambles in your tour. What are you working on now?
My next book, the tentatively titled THE NATURAL HISTORY OF SAMANTHA ROSSI is scheduled for release in 2016 from Penguin and 2017 from Konigskinder. It’s a Vietnam Era story (I refuse to call it historical fiction since I was a kid in 1971, albeit, a very tiny kid) about a girl who wants to be a scientist and when her father comes back from Vietnam changed, she turns to her science books for theories on how she might reverse evolution. It’s a story about once in a lifetime friendships, a Series of Unfortunate Substitute Teachers, and meatballs. Lots of meatballs. As an aside, if you go here http://tracyholczer.com/treasures.html and click on Nonni’s Pink Kitchen Recipes (and yes, that is an actual picture of my Italian grandmother’s pink kitchen) I freely give the best meatball recipe you will ever find. More recipes to follow as we get closer to release. Happy meatballing!
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Tracy. You can find Tracy at:
Website (where you can find the first chapter of HUM on the Books tab)
Blog (the 30th of each month)
And here’s purchase links:
For an autographed copy (make sure and note it in the comments of the purchase or they won't know about the autograph): http://www.shoponceuponatime.com/book/9780399163937
So there are two giveaways. First there’s a blog tour giveaway. Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And Tracy’s publisher Putman Juvenile generously offered an ARC of THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 26th. I’ll announce the winner on May 28th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is for US & Canada residents only.
Here’s what’s coming up:
Tomorrow On Tuesday Casey has a guest post by Shannon Wiersbitzky with a giveaway of WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER.
On Monday I have a guest post by Jacqueline West and a giveaway of one of her books (winner’s choice) in her MG fantasy THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE series. I read the first book in the series and really enjoyed it.
I’ll be off the following Monday because it’s Memorial Day but I’ll be back on Wednesday that week with an interview with author and blogger friend Cherie Reich and a giveaway of REBORN, her new YA fantasy that I can’t wait to read.
The next Monday I have an interview with debut author Skylar Dorset and a ARC giveaway of NEVER TRUST A FAIRY, a urban fantasy that sounds really good and that I would have read if so much hadn’t been going on in my personal life lately.
The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Bethany Neal and a ARC giveaway of MY LAST KISS, her YA ghost story/mystery. I loved it.
And here's the rest of the blogs on this Blog Tour:
May 6: Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire
May 7: Leandra Wallace
May 8: Heidi Schultz
May 9: AuthorOf
May 10: Read Now, Sleep Later
May 11: Kidlit Frenzy
May 12: Literary Rambles
May 14: Smack Dab in the Middle