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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Kim Long here to share about her MG adventure LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT. I’m super excited to read it because it’s an adventure story with scavenger hunts and puzzles.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

For fans of The Amazing RaceLexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament is the perfect adventure for middle grade readers who like scavenger hunts and puzzle-solving.

Twelve-year-old physics whiz Lexi Magill won't let anything stop her from winning Wisconsin's Teleportation Tournament--the annual competition where teams teleport around the world to solve science-based puzzles. She needs the prize money if she wants to re-enroll in the science academy her parents can no longer afford. Added bonus: she'll be able to reconnect with her best friend Haley.

But Lexi's two teammates put a wrench in her plans. When one misreads a clue that lands the team in a castle in Germany, and the other loses her teleportation medallion in Poland, Lexi wonders what she's gotten herself into. Struggling to keep her team under control as the race rages on, Lexi not only has to figure out how to get back on course (literally), but she must decide how far she's willing to go to win, and who her real friends are. With riddles to solve and messages to decode, this interactive read won't disappoint!

Hi Kim! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
 I loved creating writing in school, and I always had it in mind to write a book someday. After I graduated law school, I started writing a legal thriller. Of course, at the time I had absolutely no idea what I was doing! I read a lot, but as for writing craft, beats, agency, etc., I was clueless. Fast forward to about eight years ago, and I seriously started thinking about writing “for real” again. I bought some craft books, hunkered down, and began writing a YA Fantasy. It wasn’t any good, lol, but I joined Twitter and became active in the writing community. I felt like I found my people! I then wrote a middle grade story, which got me an agent. Lexi Magill and the Teleportation Tournament is actually the third completed novel I wrote.

2. Funny you are a lawyer. Me too and many debut authors I interviewed. Where did you get your idea for this story?

I was stuck in Chicago traffic and started thinking (again) about how cool it would be if I could just teleport home. That got me thinking about a teleportation novel, but I really didn’t have any idea what the plot would be. I tinkered around with a mystery, a music school, and a few other things until I was playing a board game, The Castles of Mad King Ludwig. That got me thinking about having the kids travel to castles and museums around the world. I stuck with the game theme and the idea of a teleportation tournament was born!

3. I love that this is a STEM adventure. How did you plot out the scavenger hunt and puzzles in your story? What advice do you have for other writers who want to include these in their own stories?

I didn’t want the teleportation concept to be the only science element, so I decided to make Lexi a physics whiz and for the teleportation tournament to focus on science/scientists. The STEM focus kind of conflicted with my idea of traveling to castles, so I definitely had to do some finagling there to make it all work. In the end, there’s a STEM theme, but I included art museums and even a puzzle with Aeosp’s fables, so a lot of difference concepts are included.

As for plotting the puzzles, I did it a couple of ways. I knew I wanted to include King Ludwig’s castle, so I simply read a bunch about him and his castles so I could fashion a clue that made sense. For some of the other puzzles, I needed the teams to travel to a specific country or location, so then I’d research that city and see what kind of STEM element I could include that would make sense. Really, it was just being open to different ideas until finding something that clicked. That’s the advice I’d give to others—instead of picking the puzzle and figuring out how to make it work in a scene, I’d focus on the scene element (for me it was the location they’d be traveling to) and then see what kind of puzzle fits with that scene/element/location.

4. It sounds like Lexi and her friends are well-developed characters that steal readers’ hearts. What is your character development process like?

I am definitely a plot-first writer, so character development for me has always been something I’ve
struggled with at the end of a draft—going back and trying to make these characters more realistic. To make it easier for me, I gave Lexi and her teammates different interests and goals, so as I wrote, each’s actions served their own purpose. Still, though, they weren’t really well-rounded until after my agent’s suggestions, which leads into the next question perfectly.

5. I struggle with this too so appreciate your advice. What was a challenge you faced when working on your manuscript with your agent or editor? How did you overcome it?

One of the suggestions my agent had was to even further strengthen each character’s goals and growth. Originally, Lexi changes throughout and at the end, but her teammates Ron and Malena do not have their own arcs. I added arcs for them, too, which made them and the story stronger.

6. Your agent is Natascha Morris. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Natascha is actually my second agent. I got my first agent with a different middle grade novel in 2014. That manuscript went on sub in 2015 and did not sell, but during that year I wrote LEXI. That agent then subbed LEXI in 2016, and although we received some great feedback, it didn’t sell by the end of the year. I amicably parted ways with my agent at that time and queried something new (the middle grade that I had written in 2016—always keep writing something new!). After about six months of querying, Natascha offered in July 2017. She asked about other projects, and I mentioned LEXI. Since it had been over a year since it had been subbed to editors and we were making changes to strengthen the side characters, Nat suggested putting it back on sub. We did, and we received an offer from Running Press Kids about seven months later. In total, between the first agent and Natascha, LEXI was on sub for about 19 months (thought with a break in between).

7. I saw that your blog that you’ve had 10 events in 2019 before and after your debut. How did you schedule them? What advice do you have for other debut authors on scheduling events?

I’d say about half the events I scheduled and half were scheduled via my publisher. I pitched myself to the Wisconsin Book Festival, which resulted in a school visit and 130 books being sold! Although I live in Illinois, since Lexi takes place in Wisconsin, I’ve focused on Wisconsin schools and bookstores as well as Illinois stores/schools. I’ve also coordinated some events with fellow 2019 debut authors, and I reached out to a couple more Illinois bookstores recently about school visits, and those are in the works. I’d recommend authors reach out to bookstores on their own and see if there is interest in school visits or panels and also coordinate with fellow authors for bookstore events. Don’t rely on your publisher for all of your events/marketing/publicity!

8. How else have you been building your social media platform and marketing your book? Do you have any thoughts on how your plans have been working?

My main social media is through Twitter, which is what I feel most comfortable with. After I became agented in 2014, I started working with Pitch Wars as a middle grade mentor. I also served as a judge for on-line query contests. Really, over the years I’ve focused on things I like to do. I was clueless when I first started writing that YA fantasy about 8 years ago, so if I can help someone navigate writing/publishing and make their path a bit easier, I’m all for it. Writing is such a solitary task, but it’s such a tremendous lift to see other people in the same boat you are. I probably should be doing more marketing-wise, but I remain sort-of clueless in that area.

9.That's such great advice. What are you working on now?

For the past month or so, I’ve been brainstorming and plotting a new story. It has STEM elements and a sci-fi/magical twist in a contemporary world. I hope to start the actual drafting soon.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kim. You can find Kim at:

@KimLongMG (twitter and Instagram)

Kim has generously offered a hardback of LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENTfor 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 December 28th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, January 8th I'll be back with an interview with debut author Isabel Ibañez and a giveaway of her YA fantasy WOVEN IN MIDNIGHT and my IWSG post

Monday, January 13th I have an interview with debut author Janae Marks and a giveaway of her MG contemporary FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON

Tuesday, January 14th I'm participating in the Best of 2019 Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Saturday! If I don't see you until January, have a Happy Holiday!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I always wish I could just teleport home! Cool idea for a kid's story.

Greg Pattridge said...

Fun interview with some great advice. I'm looking forward to reading Kim's book. The characters and story line have me hooked.

Jemi Fraser said...

This sounds like a fabulous book! Love the idea of a teleporting contest :)

June McCrary Jacobs said...

I enjoyed this interview, and Kim's book sounds fun and educational. I enjoyed learning how the author thought of the 'teleportation' theme while stuck in traffic. Thanks for sharing this for MMGM, Natalie!

Danielle H. said...

Awesome way to generate this book idea--excellent use of commuting time. I too have often wished for teleportation while riding in a car all day. I can't wait to read this fun book and shared about this on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/189575735027/kim-long-interview-and-lexi-magill-and-the

DMS said...

What a fun interview. I have always wanted to teleport and talk about it all the time- so this sounds like a book I will need to read. :) Thanks for the chance to win a copy. Best of luck to Kim!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I would be so ready to teleport if it was a thing.

Patricia T. said...

I enjoyed your discussion about plotting the puzzles -- that took some research and work. This sounds like a story I'd enjoy. Glad to see the STEM focus, but have often felt that STEM should be STEAM and include the arts. Something you said reminded me of how important the arts are in this mix. (A musician and mathematician use the same parts of the brain)

Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

This sounds like such a great book! The combination of STEM, puzzles, museums, castles, and teleportation is very neat! Thanks so much for the interesting interview!

Unknown said...

Always like to hear more MG SF novels and especially happy to hear agents and editors interested. Not that I've written one or anything, cough, cough.

BetW said...

Kim, your book sounds fascinating. Teleportation sounds like something I'd like now and then to get away from winter. My science minded grandson would love this book.

1flexymomma said...

The concept of teleportation within an Amazing Race-type of framework is such a fantastic way to integrate STEM so it is woven naturally throughout an exciting plot. Congratulations.

Patsy said...

A teleportation tournament sounds like fun.

Rosi said...

I know of so many writers who are or used to be attorneys. I find that so interesting. Thanks for another fascinating interview. I will pass on the giveaway. I'm just buried in books again.

Julie S said...

Lexi Magill is such a good book! I borrowed it from the library and would love my own copy :)

Brenda said...

A book with teleportation and puzzles, sounds wonderful.

Angie Quantrell said...

I'm intrigued by the interactive style of this book! Fascinating. Can't wait to read it. Congratulations! I will share this on Twitter. :) Just connected there with you, Kim.

Carl Scott said...

I'd love to be able to teleport. Thanks for making my dream come true, in fiction at least.
I tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1204638809154940931, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link as well: https://www.pinterest.com.mx/pin/336573772153139112/.
I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
Thanks again have a great holiday season everyone!

Debra Branigan said...

I know the perfect reader for this interesting STEM book! Thanks for sharing and the chance for a free copy. I follow you and tweeted (https://twitter.com/BraniganDebra/status/1206193986765033473?s=20). dbranigan27 at gmail dot com.

tetewa said...

Sounds like a fun read! tWarner419@aol.com

Nancy P said...

Looks like a good book.

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