A Blog of Writing Tips, Interviews, Thoughts on the Writing Process, Book Reviews, Blog Hops, and Things NESCBWI Conference Related.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Children's Author Blog Hop

This week I am participating in the Children’s Author Blog Hop.  For this Blog Hop, participating authors were asked to answer four identical questions and then invite additional children’s authors to join in the “Hop.”  My invitees are Ansha Kotyk  and Laura Pauling.

I am so grateful that my dear friend, the picture book goddess, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, was kind enough to reach out to me via social media and ask me join in the fun.

Joyce Shor Johnson & Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
The Meeting of two great minds
(2009 NESCBWI Conference)
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen writes across the spectrum. Her work includes picture books, fiction and non-fiction for both children and even adults. Her upcoming middle grade chapter book series, Spectacles of Destiny, and her latest picture book Duck, Duck, Moose! illustrated by Noah Z. Jones is coming out January 2014.  You can find Sudipta at these social media sites: Website, blog, which she shares with author Kami Kinard, Facebook, Twitter.


Blog Hop Interview of Joyce Shor Johnson

What are you working on right now? 
Over the last year, while Co-Directing the 2013 NESCBWI Conference, I had been toying with an idea for a contemporary young adult novel. Now that my two-year commitment to NESCBWI is complete, I have started writing again and I am two chapters into my WIP. This is the fun part, because I am still learning about my characters, which often leads to unexpected developments.
I’ve also been outlining and working on a number of non-fiction picture books, including one about the art of keeping secrets.

How does it differ from other works in the genre?
My first two books, THE CASTING and HOUSE OF GIRLS are historical fiction. My current work-in-progress is contemporary and focuses on how social media has become ruling factor in how we communicate. The two non-fiction picture books are experimental, and I’m waiting to see how they turn out.

Why do you write what you do?
I write for children because my characters always seem to be kids on the threshold of change. 

What is the hardest part about writing?
Finding the time to outline and then the time to write the first draft. Once I know where I’m going and have the time, the writing is easy.  

Here are the two talented writers that I’ve invited to the Blog Hop, (I wanted to invite everyone I knew, but there are limits).


Ansha Kotyk lives in Massachusetts where she writes upper middle grade stories full of adventure in the modern day with a twist of fantasy. What that fantastical twist is… well, it depends on what her cat whispers in her ear while she’s writing.

Her characters have strong family ties, and value their friendships. They also seem to get into a great deal of trouble and meet some seriously evil bad guys in their stories. You can find Natasha at these social media sites:


GANGSTERLAND
, her first novel, spent 3 weeks in the top 10 of Hot New Releases in children’s books about bullies, is a story about a boy, a bully and a magical comic book that transports its readers to the gangster era of the 1920′s. Book #2 in the Ink Portal series follows the friends on a Geo-caching treasure hunt in a mysterious haunted mountain range, Apocalypse Junction will be out later this year.



Laura Pauling writes about spies, murder and mystery. She’s the author of the exciting Circle of Spies Series, and the time travel mystery, Heist. She’s a former elementary teacher and currently lives in New England. After spending time reading books to her kids and loving a good plot turn, she put her fingers to the keyboard. Don’t ask her about the unfinished quilts and scrapbooks. Stories are way more exciting. She writes to entertain and experience a great story…and to be able to work in her jammies and slippers. You can find Laura at these social media sites: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

HEIST, One night Jack travels back in time to one of the world’s largest art thefts, known as the Gardner Heist. Why that one moment in time? And what does it mean for Jack?
When he returns, his world is different. His best friend is rougher, meaner. His dad hasn’t been around in years. And then there’s Jetta. The girl who took over his heart the moment she stepped into his life. No one is safe. Each time Jack goes back to the heist to fix his mistakes, he returns to face the fallout. Disaster strikes in the present until Jack must make a choice. His family and his own happiness. Or the girl he loves. Except, he learns that his sixth sense was right. Someone has been watching him and wants him dead.  




Monday, September 9, 2013

HEIST by Laura Pauling

Author Laura Pauling knows how to write thrilling fiction. Her latest novel, HEIST, continues the tradition. The inspiration for HEIST came about because of her interest in the 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist.

One night Jack travels back in time to one of the world’s largest art thefts, known as the Gardner Heist. Why that one moment in time? And what does it mean for Jack?

When he returns, his world is different. His best friend is rougher, meaner. His dad hasn’t been around in years. And then there’s Jetta. The girl who took over his heart the moment she stepped into his life. No one is safe.

Each time Jack goes back to the heist to fix his mistakes, he returns to face the fallout. Disaster strikes in the present until Jack must make a choice. His family and his own happiness. Or the girl he loves. Except, he learns that his sixth sense was right.

Someone has been watching him and wants him dead.
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Pauling explains:

I love heists - any and all kinds: art theft, diamonds, bank robberies, con stories…etc. Some of my favorite movies and books involve a heist of some sort. So a few years back, I decided to write about one. But which one?

I turned to my best friend in times like this - Google. I plugged in the words, famous art heist. And on the very first page I found the Gardner Heist. I still didn’t think much of it, but I clicked on it, and the word, Boston, flashed on the screen. What? There was a famous heist in a museum in a city near me? The decision was made.

Of course, I knew absolutely nothing about the museum or the heist.

So, the research started. I read nonfiction books and learned the ins and outs of the crime. It truly was fascinating. At that point in time, the heist was coming on twenty years - and it had never been solved! That hooked me even more.

This was an amazing opportunity for me. My books have been set in Paris, Greece, Prague, and the ruins of the ancient Maya. I had to learn what I could of those settings from blogs, books, Youtube videos…etc. It was incredible to go to Boston, walk through the museum, stroll through the Public Garden, ride the T - all settings in my story. Of course, soaking in the atmosphere and scribbling down details I’d be sure to forget otherwise.

You’ll find all those details in Heist. Plus, you’ll walk through details of one of the most famous art heists.








Interview 101 with Laura Pauling:

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

No, I haven’t. I’d love to say I’m one of those writers that wrote her first story when she was 3 months old. But, I’ve always loved a good story. It wasn’t until I was home with my kids that I got the urge to create my own. Before then, though, I always had a creative outlet. I loved putting together small photo albums. I quilted - for a little bit, even finishing a wall hanging. And I put a lot of time into the children’s ministry at my church, planning events. The earliest creative memory I have is designing a line of cards to sell in the neighborhood.

What’s a recent book you’ve read that you absolutely loved? And what will you be reading?

The last book that I couldn’t put down and loved was Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes by DeniseGrover Swank. A book I’m looking forward to reading soon is Nomad by J.L. Bryan - another time travel thriller.

What do you like to do in your free time? Any other creative pursuits?

Right now, outside of writing, my time is spent with my family and my kids. I enjoy hanging with them, especially because every time I blink, they seem to get a year older. I still participate in my church, co-leading the middle school youth group too.

Will there be a sequel to Heist? Or will you be working on something new?

Right now, Heist is a stand-alone novel. If I were to write a sequel it would be from Jetta’s point of view on one of the alternate time lines. When I hit this alternate time line in Heist, I realized there was a lot more to tell there. And, of course, other heists to write about.

I’m eagerly planning, plotting and outlining an adult light-hearted romantic mystery. We’ll see what happens when the writing starts. I’d love to turn it into a series.

Read an excerpt of HEIST now!

 
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At the bottom step, I hesitate. Moonlight reflects off a metal napkin holder and a half-finished puzzle left out for customers. It’s a small shop, and the faded smell of cinnamon clings to everything. Even our upstairs apartment.
I breathe in the scent, drawing courage from all that is familiar. Times like this I wish for Dad. He’d know what to do.
The floor creaks from the other side of the room. 
My heart crawls into my throat, choking me. My knees weaken and my sweaty hands slip on the handle of the bat.
Step up and be a man. Those were Dad’s words, spoken into a telephone on the other side of the glass partition.
I think back to that day, the visit Mom knows nothing about. The smeared glass, the stubble on Dad’s chin and the fierce look in his eye that said he’d be outta there next week. But the next week turned into months and then years.
As my eyes adjust, the vague outline of a man appears in front of a painting on the wall. He reaches out and traces his finger down the gilded frame.
My pulse pounds so loud against the inside of my head, I can’t think. I stumble forward and raise the bat above my head. “Who’s there?” My voice shakes.
With his back to me, the intruder hesitates, his finger at the bottom of the frame. He doesn’t turn or flinch or seem to care who’s behind him. His black suit is tailored to fit his body and much too fancy for this time of night.
Sweat beads on my forehead and it feels like hours before the man clears his throat to speak. My arms shake. I debate whether to whack the guy in the legs with the bat and then take him out with one good punch.
“You been behaving yourself, kid?”
I freeze. The bat drops with a thud.
The words, the tone of voice, remind me of lazy spring afternoons when Stick and I would find my dad and uncle under the hood of their latest piece-of-shit car. I can taste the cold iced-tea and homemade cookies. I can feel the warm air against my face and smell the gasoline and grease. That was when I was thirteen and thought my dad was perfect. At sixteen, I know better.
Dad turns and steps forward, his thumbs hooked into the pockets of his tuxedo. All suave and elegant, he looks like a star from the old black and white movies Aunt Fiona watches. His parole is tomorrow. Did they let him out early? Or did he break out? 

Book & Author Details:
Heist by Laura Pauling
Genre: YA Psychological Thriller