• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Uncategorized > Palace Beautiful – Interview and giveaway
  • OhMG! News

    New-Oh-MG-critter

    April 11, 2014:
    Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
    A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

    April 9, 2014:
    How many Newbery winners have you read?
    You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

    March 28, 2014:
    Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

    For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

    February 14, 2014:
    Cybils Awards announced
    Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

    January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
    Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

    November 12, 2013:
    Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

    Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

    November 9, 2013:
    Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

    Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

    October 14, 2013:
    Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

    Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
    Read more ...

    September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

    Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

    September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

    Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

    September 16, 2013:
    National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

    For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
    Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

    August 21, 2013:
    Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

    Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

    August 19, 2013:
    S&S and BN reach a deal
    Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

    August 6, 2013:
    NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
    NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

     
    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

    The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...

     

    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...

     

    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories, read more...

     

    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...

     

    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...

     

    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…

     

    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...

     

    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...

     

    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...

     

    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...

     

  • Subscribe!

    Get email updates:

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Palace Beautiful – Interview and giveaway

Uncategorized

Today we’d like to welcome Sarah deFord Williams, author of Palace Beautiful, published by G.P. Putnam. Palace Beautiful is Sarah’s first novel and it was released in April, 2010.

Palace Beautiful is one of my favorite middle-grade novels released this year. As a kid, I was always fascinated by the magic of attics and the collections of old things I found there. That’s probably why I loved this story so much. Here’s a description of the novel:

Book CoverWhen sisters Sadie and Zuzu Brooks move to Salt Lake City, they discover a secret room in the attic of their new house, with a sign that reads “Palace Beautiful” and containing an old journal. Along with their neighbor, dramatic Belladonna Desolation (real name: Kristin Smith), they take turns reading the story of a girl named Helen living during the flu epidemic of 1918. The journal ends with a tragedy that has a scary parallel to Sadie and Zuzu’s lives, and the girls become obsessed with finding out what happened to Helen after the journal ends. Did she survive the flu? Is she still alive somewhere? Or could her ghost be lurking in the nearby graveyard?

 

Welcome to the Mixed Up Files, Sarah! And congratulations on getting a starred review from the School Library Journal. That’s awesome! Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

My journey to publication was pretty long. About ten years ago I decided to start writing every day.  As a child I wrote all the time–dozens of journals, hundreds of songs and poems and stories, but I had never really tried to write a novel. When I made my goal to write every day, I didn’t even try to write books, yet. I just wanted to have a little space in my day for creativity that belonged just to me. I was so rusty, though, it took years to get anything that wasn’t just embarrassing. I suppose writing embarrassing things is all part of the process–my process at least. :)

About six years ago, I was home sick from work when I pulled out my daily writing like always. This time was different, though. As I started writing, I realized I had the first chapter of a novel. Something in me just knew that I could do this. I made a goal to have a first draft by the end of the summer. I did it. I kept it a secret–even from my mom, that I was writing a book. I didn’t want to jinks anything. 

Well, I finished that book and another book and then started Palace Beautiful before I ever even considered trying to get published. I just wanted to make sure I had a lot of books in me and not just one. I started trying to get a literary agent in February of 2006. I finally landed one in July of 2008. In September of 2008, we sent out Palace Beautiful to see what would happen. I expected to hear crickets. Literary, contemporary, kind of old fashion middle grade fiction isn’t exactly super-selling, high-powered sale material. To my surprise, a bunch of big publishing houses jumped on it right away. It ended up going to auction–during my French class! It was amazing! A year and a half later, the book came out. It has been a real roller coaster, but I’d never trade it. 

Wow, that does sound like a roller coaster ride! Since writing is so time-consuming, plus waiting for feedback from agents, editors and reveiwers can be nerve-wracking, how has your home life been affected?Sarah Williams

When I first started writing novels, I did it in secret. I’m not sure why I didn’t want to tell anyone, but I guess it was my safe little secret place–my own Palace Beautiful. Back then, I would write after I put the kids to bed. My husband was working in another state for the summer so he didn’t even know. After I finished writing my first book (which won’t be published), I admitted it to my mom and my husband and family. 

I kept writing and the kids kept growing. Soon, they didn’t need naps anymore and their bed time became close to mine, so I now have to write when they are awake. I don’t spend too much more time on it than I did before I was published, but it’s time that the kids see now, so it probably seems like I spend more time on it. 

I think it’s good for them, though. I hope it teaches them that when you are a mom, you are still an individual who has to do things outside the family as well to be a whole person. 

I’m looking forward to reading more novels by you, and I’m sure a lot of kids are too. Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

My current project is a book who’s working title (probably to be changed) is Artificial Night. I can’t say too much about it at this point other than to tell you that it’s a mystery that also takes place here in Salt Lake City. It’s for the same demographic as Palace Beautiful, and also has a main character who is 13. When I started this book I wanted to have fun. I wanted to do everything I love about writing. When it’s done, I hope the book will be mysterious, atmospheric, creepy, funny, silly, complex, rich and fun. Right now, it’s pretty rough, but I think when it’s finished, it will be my very favorite. It’s already under contract at Penguin, so I hope everyone else will like it, too. 

Oh, that sounds good! We’ll stop asking you questions now so you can get back to work. Thank you so much for talking with us, Sarah!

Readers, if you’d like to win a hardcover copy of Palace Beautiful, leave a message in the comments section below. We’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Good luck!

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. jpetroroy  •  Aug 6, 2010 @9:48 am

    I’d love to enter! Great interview.

  2. Angie  •  Aug 6, 2010 @9:54 am

    Fun. And … hard. I am always so impressed by writers. I LOVE reading … but don’t think I have the stories inside me to write. So I’m glad they can. Consider me entered. And Thanks for the opportunity. 8]

  3. Jennifer  •  Aug 6, 2010 @9:56 am

    I loved Palace Beautiful when I read the ARC – I passed it on to some little girls and they loved it too! They had an impromptu book club at school, passing the ARC around. I am ashamed to say it has somehow not gotten ordered yet! It’s still on an order list, but…if I don’t win a copy, I’ll definitely get it…soon. My juvenile budget is really wacky this year.

  4. Anamaria Anderson  •  Aug 6, 2010 @9:58 am

    I’m so looking forward to reading Palace Beautiful–I can’t attics full of interesting old things, either. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

  5. Renae  •  Aug 6, 2010 @10:01 am

    I’d love a chance to win! :)

  6. Tracy Abell  •  Aug 6, 2010 @11:49 am

    I’m not eligible to win but I wanted to say this was such a fun interview. I appreciated the insights into Sarah’s process and her journey to publication. I get the whole “writing in secret” thing; sometimes that’s the only way we can muster the courage to move ahead.

  7. Laura Marcella  •  Aug 6, 2010 @1:25 pm

    Sara is very wise to have a few books written before attempting to publish. Her novel sounds terrific and even if I don’t win it, I’ll definitely be reading it! Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

  8. Laura Marcella  •  Aug 6, 2010 @1:26 pm

    Ooops, I mean Sarah. Sorry I forgot the H in my earlier post!

  9. Heather Kephart  •  Aug 6, 2010 @2:48 pm

    Hi! I’d love a copy. Sounds like a great book!

  10. Sarah  •  Aug 6, 2010 @3:10 pm

    Thanks for letting me visit you here on the blog! I had fun doing the interview, and I wish everyone could win a copy. :)

    -Sarah DeFord Williams

  11. KatherineR  •  Aug 6, 2010 @3:10 pm

    I’d love to read it! (And I do like your cover.)

  12. Liz S  •  Aug 6, 2010 @4:24 pm

    I have always dreamed of moving into a house with an attic full of things. My WIP has an attic full of cast offs, but the story line is completely different!

    Love to read the book!

  13. Carolee  •  Aug 6, 2010 @5:25 pm

    I already purchased a copy of the book and loved it! I passed on my copy to my nieces, and I’d love to win another copy to share with others that I know will love it!

  14. Claire Guthrie  •  Aug 6, 2010 @5:35 pm

    I would love it!

  15. Claire Guthrie  •  Aug 6, 2010 @5:35 pm

    I would love a copy of the book.

  16. Sheri Larsen  •  Aug 6, 2010 @7:08 pm

    This sounds like a fantastic read! Congrats, Sarah, on getting starred and for sharing your story.

  17. Danette  •  Aug 6, 2010 @7:10 pm

    Sarah,

    Your story and cover are EXACTLY the kind of book I like. Also, when I first started writing, I did it in secret, too. Congrats on the great reviews and good luck on the next book!

  18. Elliah Terry  •  Aug 6, 2010 @8:27 pm

    Palace Beautiful is already on my list of books to read. (I’d learned about it from a writer’s group.) After reading this interview, I’m going to have to bump it up to the top of the list as I’m really in need of a good MG read right now!

  19. Llehn  •  Aug 6, 2010 @8:40 pm

    The book is so gorgeous!

  20. Cathe Olson  •  Aug 6, 2010 @9:22 pm

    That is just the kind of book I loved as a kid and just the kind my daughters would love. I will have to check this one out for my school library.

  21. Melina  •  Aug 6, 2010 @9:55 pm

    Historical fiction is one of my FAVORITES. Gosh, this book looks great.

  22. Allison  •  Aug 6, 2010 @11:33 pm

    Thanks for this giveaway!

  23. Suzie F.  •  Aug 7, 2010 @6:24 am

    What a great interview! Palace Beautiful sounds like a wonderful story that both my daughter and I would enjoy.

  24. Jeannie  •  Aug 7, 2010 @9:05 am

    I’ve been dying to read Palace Beautiful all summer, i just haven’t made it in to a bookstore. Great interview Sara, I love to hear about other people’s processes in the writing world.

  25. sheelachari  •  Aug 8, 2010 @5:06 pm

    Lovely interview! This is one of the books on my list to read this year.

    I liked reading about how writing has changed for Sara. With small kids myself, I feel the challenges of balancing writing and spending time with them – it’s reassuring to hear that I’m not the only one.

    Btw, literary, contemporary MG sounds perfect to my ears!

    Thanks to Sara and Jennifer.

  26. Susan Manzke  •  Aug 9, 2010 @11:39 am

    So good to hear about this success! I put the book on my to-read list.