Welcome

This is the blog of children's book author and third grade teacher, Stacy Barnett Mozer. I blog about my own writing journey, the journey of other kidlit authors, my classroom, and talk about books. Thanks for stopping by. Your thoughts are always welcome (and encouraged).

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Interview With YA and Middle Grade Author Lisa Schroeder


Lisa Schroeder is a native Oregonian, which means her childhood summers were spent camping, fishing, reading books (of course!), and playing in the sun, when it finally came out. These days, Lisa spends her summers, and every other part of the year, sharing all the wonderful things Oregon has to offer with her husband and two sons. She is the author of three verse novels for young adults published by Simon Pulse - I Heart You, You Haunt Me, Far From You, and Chasing Brooklyn. Her middle grade debut, It's Raining Cupcakes, will be published by Aladdin in March, 2010. This interview was conducted by email on Dec. 30, five days before Chasing Brooklyn's release date.


How did you come up the idea for Chasing Brooklyn?

Chasing Brooklyn came about because I desperately wanted to write a book for the fans of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME. So many teens write to me, asking if there’s going to be a sequel, and when I approached my editor about the idea, he said he thought we left Ava in a good, hopeful place. But he tossed out the idea of having Ava make an appearance in a book. So, I thought around that, and decided I could write another book about loss, and perhaps have Ava offer help to one of the characters.


In Chasing Brooklyn you tell the story in first person from two main characters. Why did you decided to use more than one character’s point of view?

As I was playing around with it, in the beginning, I tried a couple of pages, alternating between Brooklyn and Nico, because I knew they would both be integral to the story I was playing around with in my head. It was SO fun to write from a male POV for a change. And I really love books that have multiple points of view, when they’re done well. The problem I later discovered is that doing it that way is not exactly easy. Instead of writing one story, in a way, you’re writing two. But, I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I hope readers are as well.


Let's talk about how you plan and write your books. Do you have specific prewriting techniques?

If I get a story idea that I’m really excited about, I’ll take some notes and try to get the “hook” into a one sentence blurb. If I can do that, and I’m excited by what that one sentence says about the story, I dive in and see where the characters take me.

Sometimes, though, it’s more of a seed or two of an idea that sprouts, and so I’ll take notes in a notebook or on note cards, and just keep taking notes until I have a good sense of what’s going to happen. Again, I’ll try to describe the book in one sentence, and if I like how it all sounds, I begin.

I didn’t used to worry about summarizing the plot, but now I understand that with the market as competitive as it is, you need to have a book that sounds good from the get go. Of course the writing needs to be good and all of that, but the premise is really important, and I want to make sure I’ve nailed that before I begin.


Here is a question for the writers reading this interview. How did you go from aspiring writer to published author? Was it luck or hard work?

I think most authors would agree with me that it’s usually a lot of hard work and a little or a lot of luck thrown in there too. I had been writing for a long time, manuscript after manuscript, and when I finally got an agent, after querying agents on and off for two years on various manuscripts, I think right place, right time did have a lot to do with it.

Still, you have to have a good manuscript to begin with, and that only comes through working hard on craft. I had written a few mid-grade novels and half of a young adult novel when I had the idea for my first novel, I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME. I started writing it and it flowed out of me like nothing I’d written before. I got critiques on it, revised, and then started querying on it. I received many nos from lots of well known agents, but one wonderful agent asked to see the whole manuscript, and a couple of weeks later, she was offering me representation.


What do you feel you do best as a writer? And on the other side, what do you still need to work on?

Well, the teens who enjoy my books say I’m really good at writing the emotional scenes. It’s something I work hard at, so it makes me happy to hear that. As for what I still need to work on, I’d have to say all of it. I don’t think it ever gets easier. There’s always so much to learn, and with each book, I want to get better at character development, sensory details, showing instead of telling, writing a gripping plot, etc. etc. With each book, I want to stretch myself, and make myself dig deeper and try harder to do the very best I’m capable of.


What are you working on now?

I’m playing around with some ideas for a mid-grade novel, trying to decide what I’d like to write next. I took most of November and December off, working on promotional stuff for the release of CHASING BROOKLYN. But I’m ready to dive into something new, and I’d love to have another book to follow my first mid-grade novel, IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES, which comes out in March. But first I have to write it!!


Lisa, thank you so much for answering these questions. Good luck with your release on Tuesday. I am looking forward to reading Chasing Brooklyn.

Thanks so much for having me here, it was a pleasure.

Make sure to check out Chasing Brooklyn. You can purchase the book at Indie Bound or use their links to find your local Indie Bookseller.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Favorite Books Read in 2009

This year I have met or connected with amazing kidlit people with great book recommendations. Here's a list of the best books I read in 2009 (in no particular order)

Young Adult Fantasy/Science Fiction
1. BEAUTIFUL CREATURES (2009) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
2. HUNGER GAMES (2008) and CATCHING FIRE (2009) by Suzanne Collins
3. GRACELING (2008) and FIRE (2009) by Kristin Cashore
4. THE MAZE RUNNER (2009) by James Dashner
5. GRAVEYARD BOOK (2008) by Neil Gaiman
6. SHIVER (2009) by Maggie Stiefvater
7. SILVER PHOENIX (2009) by Cindy Pon
8. ENDERS GAME (8th Printing 1994) by Orson Scott Card

Young Adult Realistic Fiction
1. PURGE (2009) by Sarah Darer Littman
2. HATE LIST (2009) by Jennifer Brown
3. ONCE WAS LOST (2009) by Sara Zarr
4. IF I STAY (2009) by Gayle Forman
5. LOOKING FOR ALASKA (2005) by John Green
6. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY (2007) by Jay Asher
7. EVERY SOUL A STAR (2008) by Wendy Mass

Middle Grade Favorites
1. PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE (2009) by Cynthea Liu
2. THE DOG DAYS OF CHARLOTTE HAYES (2009) by Marlane Kennedy
3. YEAR OF THE DOG (2007) and YEAR OF THE RAT (2008) by Grace Lin
4. THE UNUSUAL MIND OF VINCENT SHADOW (2009) by Tim Kehoe
5. THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY (2009) by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

What books are on your list?