Interview with Colorado author Jeannie Mobley!

Colorado is for writersWelcome to the inaugural interview in my new series, Colorado is for Writers! Every other Tuesday, I’ll be talking to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. And this week we have a giveaway, too! See the end of the post for details.

Now, who better to kick things off than (spoiler alert!) Colorado native—and newly-minted winner of the prestigious Colorado Book AwardJeannie Mobley? Welcome, Jeannie!Author Jeannie Mobley

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Native, born and bred. In fact, my mother was also born in Colorado, as were both of her parents, in 1910 and 1912 respectively, so our family has some pretty deep roots here. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are a bunch of homebodies that never get out. We’ve explored pretty much every inch of the state in our summer camping and hiking adventures over the years, as well as traveling around much of the West. It was all that daydreaming in the car, on the trail, or at night under the stars that honed my writer’s imagination as a kid. That’s why Colorado/Western history features prominently in much of my writing.

Katerina's Wish by Jeannie MobleyPlease tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My first book, KATERINA’S WISH, was published in fall of 2012, and just won the 2013 Colorado Book Award for juvenile fiction! (Which I hope means books for juveniles, rather than being a reflection on my own personality.) It is the story of an immigrant family in the coal mining communities of southern Colorado at the beginning of the 20th century. Trina’s family came to America for a farm, but end up barely scraping by in the coal mines. Then Trina sees a fish that reminds her of a folk tale about a fish that grants wishes. She wishes for her family’s dream of a farm, and lucky things begin to happen. But is it magic, or is something else behind their success? It is the story of one family’s American dream, and the risks they must take to make a dream come true.

Jeannie's teenage grandmother and her friends at the family cabin in Silverplume, Colorado, during prohibition (which, you can see, they weren't exactly in accordance with)

Jeannie’s teenage grandmother and her friends at the family cabin in Silverplume, Colorado, during prohibition (which, you can see, they weren’t exactly in accordance with)

My second book, SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, will be published in fall 2014. It is the story of 13-year-old Pearl Rose Barnell, a romantic girl who waits tables in the Silverheels Café and delights in telling tourists a local legend of the dancehall girl Silverheels. But, as the summer of 1917 heats up, so too does the First World War, along with accusations of un-American behavior and the outrageous fanaticism of a local suffragist, with whom Pearl has taken a potentially dangerous bet.

Beyond those, I have a variety of other projects in the works, ranging from contemporary humor to historical fiction. I seem to get new ideas for stories much faster than I can turn them into books.

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

I like to write either outside or where I can see the outside. When the weather is conducive, I write at my picnic table on the back patio. When it is either too hot or too cold for that, I work in the sunroom on the back of my house that looks out onto our back yard. It’s not a big back yard, but the trees and bushes make it feel peaceful and somewhat secluded (even though it really isn’t). And even though my room is called a “sunroom” I love working out here in the winter when the snow is falling outside the windows. Very peaceful.

Jeannie's family setting off on a camp trip, circa 1978. (That's Jeannie and her malamute in the backseat.)

Jeannie’s family setting off on a camping trip, circa 1978 (that’s Jeannie and her malamute in the backseat)

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

I love Colorado because of the scenery, the outdoor lifestyle, and because my family and my memories are here. I used to love it for the weather, too, although this year I’m not so sure. I could be a writer anywhere, but at heart, I am a mountain person. Mountains feed my soul better than any other kind of landscape. I listen to the mountains—there are stories in the silences of the high elevations and the old ghost towns. There are places where stopping and doing nothing is very productive. Where the stillness, the vastness, the timelessness bring my senses to hyper-awareness. The Colorado Rockies* awaken a sense of wonder in me that I try to keep at the heart of my writing life. I could work in another environment, but why would I want to?

*This refers to the mountains, not the baseball team. Although the MLB Colorado Rockies also awaken a sense of wonder—as in, I wonder why they can’t ever get a decent bullpen???

Thank you so much, Jeannie! 

Giveaway: Would you like to win a signed copy of KATERINA’S WISH (complete with a shiny gold “Colorado Book Award Winner” sticker on the cover)? Just leave a comment that answers this question: What kind of landscape leaves you with a sense of wonder? The winner will be announced next Tuesday, July 23.

A new interview series: Colorado is for writers!

Ever since I moved here a year and a half ago, I’ve been wondering what, exactly, it is that makes Colorado such a wonderful place to be a writer.Could it be the near-constant sunshine? Is there something in the (mountain-spring-fresh) water or the (clean, not-humid) air? Or is it perhaps the mountain scenery all around that makes me feel like I’m living in a writers’ retreat?

I’m still not sure what the answer is, so I’ve turned to my fellow Colorado writers to help me figure it out.

Coming soon–as in, tomorrow!–I’m starting a new interview series on this blog that highlights the amazing community of kidlit writers we have here in my adopted home state and asks them about their connections to Colorado. I’ve even put my questionable Microsoft Paint skills to use to create a snazzy logo for it. 🙂

Colorado is for writersWe’ll be kicking things off tomorrow with Jeannie Mobley, whose debut novel Katerina’s Wish just won the Colorado Book Award (hooray!). Then the series will continue with a new interview every other Tuesday.

I hope that you’ll stop by!

Advice for writerly types

Hello, friends! It seems to be time for my monthly blog update.

First of all, I have a new post up today at EMU’s Debuts called “Wisdom from the 2013 EMLA Retreat.” The title pretty much says it all: It’s filled with great bits of advice that I picked up from other writers at the recent retreat for clients of Erin Murphy Literary Agency in Montana.

Also, on my Facebook page yesterday, I shared a few tips that have been helping me speed up my drafting. I’m planning to expand this into a blog post soon (I swear!), but if you want to check them out now, you can find them in the comments here.

In ALL FOUR STARS news, I’ve seen a preliminary sketch of the cover, and it’s amazing. I cannot wait until I have the final art to share with you! I’ve also been working on writing acknowledgements and even taking a stab at jacket copy (the summary of the book that goes on the inside flap or back cover), which has been only slightly nerve-wracking.

I’ll leave you now with a few pictures from the EMLA retreat, which was definitely one of the more fun and informative weekends of my writing career.

Lovely ladies of Colorado!Here I am with my Colorado-dwelling buddies Jeannie Mobley and Cindy Strandvold on Ugly Sweater Night. None of us won an ugliest sweater prize (mine was deemed “too cute” by one of the judges–bah!), but Cindy was a finalist for ugliest ensemble!

The EMUs!I finally got to meet a bunch of my fellow bloggers from EMU’s Debuts in person! From the top left, we have Christine Hayes, Kevan Atteberry, Pat Zietlow Miller, Laurie Ann Thompson, and Joshua McCune, then in the front row are Carol Brendler and me.

Tara at the waterfallSome of us took a hike to a local waterfall near Big Sky. I am sporting my new EMLA T-shirt, which I won for having been to the most countries. That round-the-world honeymoon just keeps paying off. 🙂

Hope your July is going well!

PARCHED launches!

Hello, friends! This week, over at Emu’s Debuts, we’re celebrating the launch of my friend Melanie Crowder‘s debut novel, PARCHED. I have a new blog post up over there (featuring quite a few pictures from my round-the-world travels!) about water use around the world. And if you leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of the book!

Here’s my Goodreads review of PARCHED. It should definitely be on your to-read list.

Parched

Parched by Melanie Crowder

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This slender volume packs the punch of a much longer novel, and won’t soon be forgotten by its readers, young and old alike.

Taking place in a drought-plagued country, it alternates between the stories of a boy (Musa) who has been kidnapped by warlords for his unique ability to seek out water; a girl (Sarel) who is orphaned by those warlords; and the brave dog (Nandi) who protects Sarel. The writing throughout is haunting and evocative, but the dog chapters are especially breathtaking, written in a deeply sensory way that truly immerses the reader in the animal experience.

A brilliant debut novel.

View all my reviews

 

In other news, I recently wrote another blog post for the Emus addressing the writerly question of “When to Stop Asking for Feedback.”  I also participated in the most recent “Mad for Middle Grade” feature at OneFour Kidlit, in which we discuss why we write middle grade.

I’ll be doing quite a bit of traveling over the next month, so I don’t expect to be posting much here, but come July I do have some exciting new plans for this blog. Recipes may be involved. 🙂 Hope your summer is starting off well!

Starry…Blog Post

Oh, hello, friends. I have a new blog post up at EMU’s Debuts today called “No Fault in These Stars.” I know, it’s the cleverest title you’ve ever read, totally not derivative of any bestselling YA books or famous Shakespeare quotes or anything. Here’s a visual hint as to what it’s about:

Oh, wow, three whole stars!

Oh, wow, three whole stars!

OK, that wasn’t actually a very good picture to share, because it doesn’t have a lot of stars in it. February wasn’t exactly my most productive month when it came to drafting. April was much better–click over to the post to check out that pic and more. 🙂

In other news, the wonderful Krista van Dolzer of Mother.Write.Repeat. has sold her debut middle-grade novel to my very own editor, Shauna Rossano at Putnam! I’m so thrilled for everyone involved, but especially for you readers, who will get to experience the awesomeness that is THE REGENERATED MAN in 2015.

I can’t think of too much more news to share…well, except that Animal Planet is apparently coming to my house this weekend to interview me about parasites, but that’s probably a story for another day.

Happy May!

Cover ideas, book 2 obsessions, and more

I’ve got a new post up today at EMU’s Debuts called “Obsessing about book 2.” Because, ya know, worrying about the book that’s actually getting published just isn’t enough. 🙂

Speaking of that book, many people have been asking for updates recently, so here’s what I’ve got.

1) The book is still scheduled to come out in Summer of 2014. I don’t have an official release date yet.

2) My editor and I are still trying to come up with the perfect title. I’ll keep ya posted!

3) I recently finished a second round of edits on the book, and am feeling good about how they turned out. I imagine that there will be some more tweaking before the text is set, but for now, I’m pretty happy with where things stand.

4) My publisher is starting to think about cover designs, which is very exciting, and my editor asked me to share a few of my favorite MG covers. I have no idea whether they’ll end up influencing the ultimate design, but they are pretty so I thought I’d share a few here, too!

I love the nighttime cityscape and the silhouetted boy. And the title!

I love the nighttime cityscape and the silhouetted boy. And the title!

I love the new Harry Potter cover--Hogsmeade by night!

Oooh, the new Harry Potter cover–Diagon Alley by night!

YUM.

YUM.

So, it seems that I am a fan of nighttime scenes and the color blue. Which probably means that Gladys will end up having a bright pink cover, but you know what? That would be fine. Pink is actually a really important color in the book, and also, MY BOOK IS GETTING PUBLISHED NEXT YEAR, so what do I have to complain about? 🙂

Back on the radar!

Fair Coin

One of my favorites of 2012!

I have a new blog post up at EMU’s Debuts today: EMU’s Best Under-the-Radar Kids’ Books of 2012!

If you’re looking for a couple of book recommendations–or have some of your own to share–we’d love to have you stop by.

Remarkable

Another of my favorites of 2012!

As you may have noticed, this blog has been under the radar a bit lately, too. I have approximately 400 excellent excuses for that, but rather than bore you with them, I’ll just say that once my current round of edits on Gladys Gatsby get done (probably in March), I do have big plans for some exciting new features here. In the meantime, you can always catch me on Facebook or Twitter…and here are a few posts I’ve done elsewhere over the last couple of months:

Bring on 2013! @ Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire

Bouncer Interview with Tara Dairman @ Cupid’s Literary Connection (where I was “Bouncer Myrtle” in the still-ongoing Blind Speed Dating event)

It’s Launch Week for BLAZE! @ EMU’s Debuts (Seriously, check out BLAZE by Laurie Boyle Crompton, a terrific new YA book!)

I hope that the new year has been treating you well so far. 🙂