Monthly Archives: July 2012

Whole Lot of Lucky Giveaway

Danette Hayworth, author of the popular Me & Jack and Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, is back! Her new novel, A Whole Lot of Lucky, is sure to hit that  middle grade sweet spot. 

From Indiebound: Hailee Richardson never realized how much she hated her Salvation Army life and Goodwill accessories until the night her family wins the lottery. All of a sudden she’s no longer the only girl at school without a cell phone or a brand-new bike! And the newfound popularity that comes with being a lottery winner is just what she’s always dreamed of. But the glow of her smartphone and fancy new clothes wears off when Hailee is transferred to Magnolia Academy, a private school. All of a sudden, her best friend and parents seem shabby compared to the beautiful Magnolia moms and the popular bad-girl Nikki, who seems to want to be her friend. Now, Hailee wants nothing more than to grow up-and away-from her old life. It’ll take one very busy social networking page, a stolen first kiss, and a whole carton of eggs for Hailee to realize that not all luck is good, not all change is bad, and a best friend who’s just a call away will always be more valuable than a phone.

Danette stopped by to talk about her writing process, share the secrets of a writer’s purse, and give away an ARC of the new book. Take it away, Danette!

For me, the writing of a story almost always begins with voice, a voice so strong that it carries with it the gender, age, location, and disposition of the character. All I have to do then is think of what could be the worst thing that could happen to that character. If the voice is strong enough, I can drop the character into any situation and know how she’ll react. That’s where the real work begins: finding the right situation to exploit the voice in my head.

While I was in line edits for Me & Jack, I got hit by this image of two girls and a bike. Not just a snapshot image, it was like a short video of an old memory. The girls were in a driveway. I saw lots of trees, and it was that kind of warm/chilly day you get in spring. The main character had just convinced her reluctant best friend to let her ride her new bike (a new bike, and it wasn’t even her birthday!) by agreeing to pay a dollar and a pack of Smarties. As the MC rides away from her friend’s shouted instructions and warnings, she feels as free as the honeysuckle air wafting under her nose, yet she can’t help but compare her friend’s flashy new bike to her own embarrassing old red boy bike, bought for three dollars at a garage sale last year.

The image of these two girls was so strong, I picked up a scrap of paper and wrote down the main character’s viewpoint of that scene, dialogue and all. The words flowed like water from the tap. Other thoughts popped up over the next few days and I wrote them all down. Later, I nixed some of them and expanded others, but what remained were those first words spoken by twelve-year-old Hailee Richardson, owner of the red boy bike. She didn’t know it then, but her whole life was about to change.

The first three chapters are available on my website. If you compare them to the scrap below—and if you can decipher my scratchy writing!—you’ll see that the first few published pages don’t differ much from the first scrappy words spoken by my then-nameless main character.

Parts of this book were written on the backs of old grocery receipts, a must-have for every writer’s purse.

Now that you know the inside story, why not try your own luck. Leave a comment below and you may win an advanced reader’s copy of the novel, due on shelves Sept. 4.

On the Road: Transformative road trip reads for your next car trip

Ah, the family road trip—you start off envisioning flying down the open road, singing, and playing games and you forget about the fighting over music, the whining, and traffic. Let’s face it, who hasn’t used a video to sedate the kids or let them remain plugged up with earbuds tied to their ipods?

The thing is, even with the electronic distractions, a car ride is a journey. You’re going from one place to another, and the experiences along the way can transform you—if you open up to the possibility. Why not introduce a little G-rated Kerouac to your kids?

Without any modern distractions in the car, thirteen-year-old Salamanca entertains her Gram and Gramps as they travel from Kentucky to Idaho in search of her mother. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (Harper Collins 1994) is a beautiful story within a story. Sal passes the hours telling the “extensively strange story” of her friend Phoebe Winterbottom. As the miles roll by, the truth about Sal’s mom slowly is revealed.

What kid doesn’t want a turn at the wheel? Sal makes the last four hours alone, reasoning, “in the course of a lifetime, there were some things that mattered.”

Twelve-year-old Margie makes a similar courageous journey to get her mother back. In Tami Lewis Brown’s The Map of Me (Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2010), Margie and her sister Peep set off to find their mother who has left a note saying she “had to go.” When Dad is too busy making a sale at the World of Tires, Margie finds the spare key to the Faithful Ford and drives the back roads of Kentucky. Through a series of wrong turns, and fights over gas, and encounters with troopers, Margie grows to understand her mother and herself.

Ten-year-old Kenny ends up in the Brown Bomber with his family, driving from Flint, Michigan to Alabama in The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (Delacorte Press, 1995). Trouble drives the family to make the trip to see Grandma Sands and instead of peace they arrive at the darkest moment of the civil rights movement. Although much more happens in this book than the road trip, the difficulties the Watsons experience finding decent restrooms on their way may stop all complaining and stir conversation about U.S. history.

Wherever the road takes you, get out the map and follow along on these three brave and eye-opening journeys.

Jennifer Gennari is the author of My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer and she likes bike riding better than car trips. www.jengennari.com

Laugh with the Moon contest winner!

A big congrats to Stacey Hicklin, who has won a copy of Shana Burg’s, Laugh with the Moon!