My very first author event

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the great good fortune this past weekend of participating in the first-ever Longmont Public Library Teen Author Night, which culminated the weeklong Longmont Library Festival.

It also happened to be my first-ever official author event, and the organizers were kind enough to include me even though my first book won’t be published until July. Luckily, the panel also included the fabulous local MG & YA authors Jeannie MobleyMelanie CrowderJenny Goebel, and Todd Mitchell, so the panel’s attendees were not starved for wisdom and advice from actual published authors.

And oh, those attendees! The library did an absolutely incredible job bringing in teens and tweens, and there were more than 60 kids in the audience. Check out how deep that room goes!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We took questions from the audience for an hour, and it was amazing how quickly the time passed. (Left to right: Melanie, me, Todd, Jenny, Jeannie)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s my turn at the mike! What am I saying? Possibly telling the kids that I was working on my first book before some of them were born. That line got some gasps and a few laughs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Even better than the formal panel was the Q&A time after, when the teens were able to just come over and chat with us. They asked such fantastic questions, ranging from “What do you do when you have writers’ block?” to “Should I study creative writing in college if I want to be an author?” Longmont Library Teen NightOverall, it was an incredible event, and a very useful testing of the waters for me as a presenter. Special thanks to Jeannie Mobley (whose gorgeous first novel, Katerina’s Wish, you’ve heard me kvell about repeatedly on this blog) for roping me in. I hope to return to Longmont for more events in the future!

 

 

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Interview with Colorado author Claudia Mills!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I’m happy to welcome chapter book and middle-grade author Claudia Mills to the blog!

Claudia Mills, Philosophyclaudia.mills@colorado.eduphoto by: Larry HarwoodClaudia is the author of a very long list of children’s books (seriously, check it out–it is impressive), and Kirkus reviews recently called her “a master of the school story” (also very impressive!) Welcome, Claudia!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

I’m a transplant, directly from Maryland, originally from New Jersey. I came to Colorado for my day job (professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado in Boulder) and for my husband’s dream (he was raised in Golden, and once we had our boys, he had his heart set on raising them in the West).

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My two most recent books are Kelsey Green, Reading Queen and Zero Tolerance, both published this past June by Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Macmillan.

Kelsey coverKelsey Green is a third-grade-level chapter book, first in a series called Franklin School Friends. Kelsey, a passionate reader, is determined to read the most books for her grade in a school-wide reading contest, but there’s only one problem: Simon Ellis is reading even more books than she is. Or at least, Simon Ellis says he is reading more books than she is. She and her two best friends, Annika Riz (who is a math whiz) and Izzy Barr (who is a running star), decide to make a top-secret cheater-catcher plan to see if Simon has earned his status as Kelsey’s chief rival, or not. This book is my valentine to readers and book lovers everywhere.

Zero-Tolerance-CoverIn Zero Tolerance, Sierra Shepard is a seventh-grade honor student and “perfect” girl who has never been in trouble in her life – until the day she brings her mother’s lunch to school by mistake. In the lunch is a knife to cut her mother’s apple. Sierra, good girl that she is, turns the knife in immediately, and finds she is now facing mandatory expulsion under her middle school’s “zero tolerance” policies for drugs and weapons. Of all my books, this is the only one I’ve written where I myself didn’t know how it would all turn out until the very end. I kept on writing to see: would Sierra get expelled or not? And if she did, by that point, would she even care?

photo couchWhat’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

I write curled up on a little couch with a blanket, clipboard, pad of paper, pen – and mug of hot chocolate. So no view. But very cozy!

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

For me, the best thing is being part of my terrific writing group. I’ve been a member of this group for twenty years, and together we have published over a hundred books during that time, everything from children’s books to adult mysteries, science fiction, literary fiction, and nonfiction about Colorado history. The best Colorado thing about my writing group is that we have a retreat every summer up at Lake Dillon. We spend a whole weekend writing, reading, talking about writing, talking about reading, walking by the lake, and sitting in a hot tub under the Colorado stars. That’s when I most think what a sweet thing it is to be a writer in Colorado.

Thank you, Claudia–and may I just say that both of your new books sound completely fabulous? (As does that retreat at the lake!) 

And the winner of GRAVE IMAGES is…

Greg Pattridge! Congratulations!

Grave Images by Jenny Goebel

 

Thank you to everyone who commented last week and helped spread the word about Jenny Goebel‘s fabulous debut novel, GRAVE IMAGES. It will hit the shelves in a couple of short weeks!

For those who didn’t win, you might want to add it to to your to-read listpreorder it, or, best yet, hit Jenny’s launch party at the Tattered Cover in Denver!

 

 

Colorado is for Writers will be back next Tuesday with an interview of Lindsay Eland–stay tuned!

Colorado is for writers

Interview with Colorado author Jenny Goebel (and giveaway)!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, I am thrilled to welcome my friend and critique partner Jenny Goebel!

Jenny’s debut middle-grade novel, GRAVE IMAGESwill be published this month, and it’s a moving, somewhat creepy, and overall fantastically-written book. You can read an excerpt on Jenny’s website here. And if you are in the Denver area, you can hit the GRAVE IMAGES launch party at the Tattered Cover on Colfax on October 26!

Giveaway alert: Jenny has kindly offered to give a signed ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of GRAVE IMAGES to one lucky reader of this blog! See the end of the post for details.

Let’s get to know Jenny!

Jenny Goebel

 

First things first: Colorado native or transplant? Native. And I have some of the deepest roots you could ever hope to find. My great, great grandparents settled here back before Colorado was even a state, and every generation since has wisely decided to stick around. What can say, Colorado is an awesome place to live!

 

 

Grave Images by Jenny Goebel

 

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress! Scholastic is publishing my middle grade debut, GRAVE IMAGES, this November. It’s creepy, it’s soulful, and hopefully, all in all, horrific fun. The story is about a monument maker’s daughter whose family hires a drifter to etch headstone portraits. When she discovers that the drifter is etching portraits of people before they pass away, she has to decipher whether he’s merely predicting the deaths or, worse, actually causing them.  I have worked as a monument engraver myself, but, rest assured, this book is in no way autobiographical.

Foreman Farley Has a BackhoeMy first picture book, Foreman Farley has a Backhoe, is being published by Grosset & Dunlap next summer (2014). Farley is a construction foreman who builds a schoolhouse using an assortment of heavy machinery. The text is written to the tune of Old MacDonald has a Farm, and Grosset & Dunlap has also contracted me to write two more picture books with release dates to be announced.

 

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space? Well, the view from my usual writing space is a long way from spectacular. I share a home office with my husband, and it faces the neighbor’s house—so, yeah, nothing but drab, gray siding.

View from the CabinHowever, I am very fortunate to be able to sneak away to write at my parents’ cabin in Grand County every now and then. That view is something else entirely! Aspen and pine trees, and wildflowers in the summer, and if I’m very lucky, an occasional deer passing by. When I don’t get lost staring out the window at the breathtaking scenery, I’m far more productive than I am at home—thanks in large part to one minute detail: no Internet connection.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado? Oh, it’s far too difficult to narrow it down to just one thing. The people, the history, the wildlife, the nature, the art and culture— there is no shortage of things that give life to creativity here. I’d say that Colorado is the opposite of suffocating for a writer. And one of the most nourishing facets has to be the writing community. So many great, supportive writers here in Colorado, and you, Tara, are one of the finest! (Interviewer’s note: Awww. Right back at ya, Jenny!) Thanks so much for asking me to do this interview, and thereby giving me the opportunity to brag about our wonderful state.

Thank you so much, Jenny! And congratulations on your debut!!

Giveaway: Would you like to win a signed ARC of GRAVE IMAGES? Just leave a comment that answers this question: What’s your favorite creepy book? The winner will be announced next Tuesday, October 15.

GRAVE IMAGES is available for preorder! Find it at
Indiebound B&N * Amazon * BAM * Powell’s * Indigo