No Small Shame – Happy Book Day

Christine Bell is a Melbourne fiction writer. Her debut historical novel No Small Shame was published by Ventura Press (Impact) April 2020.

In October 2019, Christine was awarded the inaugural Historical Novel Society Australasia (HNSA) Colleen McCullough Residency for an Established Writer. She is a Varuna fellow and holds a Master of Creative Writing (RMIT). Christine has had 35 short fiction works published for children. No Small Shame is her first adult novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Published by Ventura Press on 1 April, No Small Shame is the story of a young Catholic immigrant torn between love and duty at a time when there were high expectations but little agency for women.

Australia, 1914. The world is erupting in war. Jobs are scarce and immigrants unwelcome. For young Catholic Mary O’Donnell, this is not the new life she imagined. When one foolish night of passion leads to an unexpected pregnancy and a loveless marriage, Mary’s reluctant husband Liam escapes to the trenches. With her overbearing mother attempting to control her every decision, Mary flees to Melbourne determined to build a life for herself and her child. There, she forms an unlikely friendship with Protestant army reject Tom Robbins.

But as a shattering betrayal is revealed, Mary must make an impossible choice. Does she embrace the path fate has set for her, or follow the one she longs to take? From the harshness of a pit village in Scotland to the upheaval of wartime Australia, No Small Shame tells the moving story of love and duty, loyalty and betrayal, and confronting the past before you can seek a future.

CHRISTINE’S FIVE FABULOUS WRITING TIPS

  1. Track your research on a spreadsheet, every single fact, resource, book, website and contact. It will prove invaluable when it comes time to double check that obscure bit of information that you’ve long forgotten its origins.
  2. Walk the ground of your story whenever possible. Though one of my settings, a pit village in Scotland, had long been demolished, I was able to visit the site, see the light, feel the breeze, smell the local foliage. I travelled down a disused coal mine capturing that degree of darkness and sulphury smell as well as visited a reconstructed tenement row replicating the miner’s housing of 1910. Invaluable fodder, detail and inspiration for my story.
  3. Explore primary resources. I found the original design specifications and floor plans of the miners cottages in Wonthaggi. The descriptions, dimensions and specific detail helped me to reconstruct another of my character’s houses. I found these gems in the correspondence files of the State Coal Mine in the Public Records Office Victoria (PROV)
  4. Once your characters are fully formed and living on the page, let them make natural choices in keeping with their character. They can lead the way to the inevitable conclusion of your story.
  5. Give your story air time between drafts. It’s amazing the insights and revelations a break can reveal when you return to your manuscript with fresh eyes. I had a break of over two years between the first fully edited draft and the complete rewrite.

No Small Shame began as a passion project after I visited the State Coal Mine in Wonthaggi (Victoria) to explore my family history. My great-grandparents’ journey to Australia from a tiny pit village in Scotland cried out as a backdrop in need of a story; and so began a love affair that has taken me to my ancestors’ birthplace, down a Lanarkshire coal mine and onto the battlefields of France.

WHERE TO FIND CHRISTINE ONLINE

Website:             https://christinebell.com.au
Twitter:                https://twitter.com/chrisbellwrites
Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/chris.bell.77377
Instagram:           https://www.instagram.com/christinembell

The Swing Tree is available where all good books are sold.

Congratulations Christine and Happy Book Day.

WIN A COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK 

Only open to Australia residents.

All you have to do is:

  1. In the comments section on this post, tell us why you’d like to win the book.
  2. Share it on social media and tag ‘Dee White Author’

Good luck!

The Philosopher’s Daughters – Happy Book Day

Today we’re celebrating Alison Booth’s Happy Book Day with her adult historical fiction, The Philosopher’s Daughters.

Alison was born in Melbourne, brought up in Sydney and lives in Canberra. She has worked in the UK and in Australia as a professor as well as a novelist.

Her new novel, The Philosopher’s Daughters, is set in the 1890s in London and Australia. Her previous novels include A Perfect Marriage, a work of contemporary fiction, while her first three novels (Stillwater Creek, The Indigo Sky, and A Distant Land) are historical fiction spanning the decades 1950s through to the early 1970s.

Alison’s work has been translated into French and has also been published by Reader’s Digest Select Editions in both Asia and Europe. Stillwater Creek was Highly Commended in the ACT Book of the Year Award in 2011 and A Perfect Marriage was Highly Commended in the 2019 ACT Writing and Publishing Awards.

The Philosopher’s Daughters is published by RedDoor Press and paperback and e-book editions are available from today. April 2020.  The large print edition and the audiobook will be available form early July.

ABOUT THE PHILOSOPHER’S DAUGHTERS

London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters’ lives are changed forever. Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life’s work or to devote herself to painting.

When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life. Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand who is seeking revenge.

ALISON’S FABULOUS TIPS ON WRITING

To understand history, we rely on the reports of others. And when we read those words we might ask ourselves whose stories are missing. Typically, it will be the stories of those who were losers, of those who had no power at the time; for example. the disenfranchised, the dispossessed, the defeated.  And this is where writers of historical fiction can present different perspectives of the past to those that are found in standard straight historical texts. The fiction writer can tell a story that includes the marginal voices that history left aside. This was one of my goals.

As with all my novels, at the first-draft stage I try to work consistently every day on the manuscript. Not for long, maybe an hour or so each day. Once the draft is complete, I put it away for a while, and return later for further drafting. At the redraft stage I try to set aside weeks to work on it, until it drives me mad and I put it to one side again. The Philosopher’s Daughters took many years to write, not only because of the research required but also because my thinking evolved over its writing.

My plotting is largely done at the start. This might seem very constraining to some people, but it allows me to keep track of where I am. And while much of this detailed preplanning goes out the door as the novel proceeds, it’s very helpful at the beginning.

Before beginning a novel, I also decide whose viewpoint I want to write from, and if there will be one or multiple viewpoints. As the sisters in The Philosopher’s Daughters are very different in spite of their common upbringing, I chose to tell the story from each of their viewpoints. This allowed the narrative to be more nuanced than if I’d been writing from the perspective of one of the sisters.

In the second half of the 19th century, my ancestors sailed from England and Scotland to the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria. It’s always struck me how brave they were, and I grew up fascinated by the thought that Australia once comprised such small colonies teetering on the edge of a vast continent. In this novel I wanted to travel back in time to view it through the eyes of two well-educated young women.

WHERE THE INSPIRATION FOR THE PHILOSOPHER’S DAUGHTERS CAME FROM

For years the idea for my new novel, The Philosopher’s Daughters, just wouldn’t let me alone. I kept imagining 1890s London and two strong young women, the daughters of a moral philosopher. Someone like John Stuart Mill, a great advocate for the emancipation of women. Someone who gives the girls a relatively modern upbringing. Then I thought of altering the sisters’ circumstances so that they separately choose to journey into remote and wild Australia. What might happen to them?  How might they see life at the ‘frontier’ once they are confronted with the brutal dispossession of the Indigenous population? How would their characters develop as they faced danger?

See also https://www.alisonbooth.net/

You can find out more about Alison and her work at her website, www.alisonbooth.net and her Facebook page iat  www.facebook.com/AlisonBoothAuthor/ . Her Twitter handle is @booth_alison and her Instagram account name is alisonboothauthor9723

Her Facebook page is at https:// www.facebook.com/AlisonBoothAuthor/ . Her Twitter handle is @booth_alison and her Instagram account name is alisonboothauthor9723

Congratulations and Happy Book Day, Alison!

WIN A COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK 

Only open to Australia residents.

All you have to do is:

  1. In the comments section on this post, tell us why you’d like to win the book.
  2. Share it on social media and tag ‘Dee White Author’

Good luck!

 

The Brisbane Line – Happy Book Day

Judith Powell lives out of Brisbane and today we’re celebrating the Book Day for her new adult historical crime fiction, the Brisbane Line.

It’s not surprising that Judith writes in this genre. She’s an archaeologist and historian with a passion for bringing the past to life. She has worked as a high school teacher, an academic, a National Parks officer, a museum administrator and has excavated in Jordan, Cyprus and Greece as well as leading historical archaeology projects in Australia.

The Brisbane Line is her first work of fiction. Previously she has written school textbooks, academic publications, government reports and a biography of the first person to teach archaeology in Australia (Love’s Obsession. The lives and archaeology of Jim and Eve Stewart. Wakefield Press. 2013). In 2017 she was awarded a QANZAC Fellowship by the State Library of Queensland to pursue research into, and writing of, a series of crime novels set in Brisbane during World War II.

ABOUT THE BRISBANE LINE

As WWII ravages the world and the Japanese Empire has set its sights on Australia, the Americans have come to save us. But not all soldiers are heroes and not all heroes are soldiers.

Sergeant Joe Washington, a US Military Police, loves music and photography but spends his days delving into the sordid and petty crimes committed by the thousands of American troops passing through town.

While trying to find stolen gasoline stores, he is sent to investigate the body of an American soldier found dumped in a cemetery. Suddenly Joe is up against notorious detective Frank Bischof.

Although ordered to leave the investigation alone, Joe fears that Bischof is protecting the most likely suspect while trying to pin the crime on an innocent – and intriguing – young woman, Rose. A woman who seems to walk between the parallel worlds of black market deals and Brisbane’s high society.

Praise for J.P. Powell ‘Beautifully textured, thoughtful and satisfying.’ Emily Maguire

JUDITH’S TIPS ON WRITING

• Listen
• Learn
• Experiment
• Don’t be a prima donna

• Just sit and write

“Crime fiction is brilliant at portraying place (think Ian Rankin’s Edinburgh, Peter Carey’s Sydney or Donna Leon’s Venice) and historical period (think Lindsay Davis’s ancient Rome, Sulari Gentil’s 1930s Sydney). I love research and will happily pore over old newspapers and documents for hours. This research helps create an authentic atmosphere, but atmosphere is not story.

One of the lessons I had to learn was how to craft a story from all my research. As a member of the Queensland Writers Centre I attended numerous writing workshops and you always learn something. One of the most important things you learn is that you’re not alone. You’re seldom the worst writer in the group and seldom the best. You need to develop a degree of courage and confidence, but ego can be the enemy if it stops you from learning from others. ”

Judith’s inspiration for ’The Brisbane Line’ came from a lifelong love of crime fiction, a fascination with life in wartime Brisbane AND the discovery of a series of crime files kept by an American Military Policeman based in Brisbane during World War Two. How could she not write this?

You can find Judith online at https://jppowellauthor.wixsite.com/website

WHERE TO BUY THE BRISBANE LINE

You can buy The Brisbane Line here:

In Qld at AVID Readerhttps://avidreader.com.au/products/the-brisbane-line

Elsewhere
Booktopia 
Dymocks

Happy Book Day Judith and congratulations on the release of The Brisbane Line.

WIN A COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK 

Only open to Australia residents.

All you have to do is:

  1. In the comments section on this post, tell us why you’d like to win the book.
  2. Share it on social media and tag ‘Dee White Author’

Good luck!

The Shifting Landscape – Happy Book Day to Katherine Kovacic

The landscape is certainly shifting all over the world at the moment. I hope you’re safe and well out there.

Everyone is struggling with the devastating effects of Covid-19 so now’s the time to band together and help each other.

That’s why I’m using my blog to share the love … and some great books. All over the world author events and book launches are being cancelled, but we’re the lucky ones because we still have online forums to share our art … to tell people about our books … books that can provide a great source of entertainment and comfort in these difficult times.

Today, let’s say Happy Book Day to Katherine Kovaci and her amazing new release, The Shifting Landscape.

Katherine Kovacic is a former veterinarian turned art historian who works with a wide variety of museums, galleries and historic houses. She lives in Melbourne with a Borzoi and a Scottish Deerhound. The Shifting Landscape is the third book in the Alex Clayton art mystery series. This adult crime fiction is being released into the world today, 31 March, by Echo Publishing.

Here’s what The Shifting Landscape is about:

Art dealer Alex Clayton travels to Victoria’s Western District to value the McMillan family’s collection. At their historic sheep station, she finds an important and previously unknown colonial painting – and a family fraught with tension. There are arguments about the future of the property and its place in an ancient and highly significant indigenous landscape.

 When the family patriarch dies under mysterious circumstances and the painting is stolen, Alex decides to leave; then a toddler disappears and Alex’s faithful dog Hogarth goes missing. With fears rising for the safety of both child and hound, Alex and her best friend John, who has been drawn into the mystery, join searchers scouring the countryside. But her attempts to unravel the McMillan family secrets have put Alex in danger, and she’s not the only one.
Sounds fascinating doesn’t it? You might like to check our her other Alex Clayton art mysteries too.
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
Katherine says that her inspiration for The Shifting Landscape  came from a number of places.
“Foremost was the country itself (Victoria’s Western District) and it’s rich Indigenous, and colonial pastoral histories. Then, I’m always inspired by all those wonderful books from the golden age of crime, and in this instance, it was the idea of the classic English manor house mystery transported to modern-day Australia. Finally, art is part of all the books in the series, so paintings — both of the Western District and of other things that resonate for my protagonist, Alex Clayton — are always a source of inspiration.”
KATHERINE’S WRITING TIPS

If you fancy writing this kind of book, Katherine has some great tips that she’s sharing here:

  1. Do a lot of research then file most of it away in the back of your mind. The reader doesn’t need every detail (no matter how awesome it is) just a few nuggets to fire the imagination.
  2. Look at pictures relating to the setting of the book (or how you imagine the setting to be). Colours, light and tiny details can be a spark of inspiration.
  3. If you can, spend time wandering around the place where your book is set (or the place it is based on). Focus on sensations (smells, wind, the ground under your feet, sounds…)
  4. Sometimes my characters don’t do what I expect them to. Mostly, if I go along for the ride it turns out better than anything I had planned.
  5. If something in the draft doesn’t feel right, read it out loud.

Thanks so much for visiting, Katherine and Happy Book Day! You can buy The Shifting Landscape at

You can find out more about Katherine and her books by following her here:
Facebook: Katherine_Kovacic
Twitter: @KathKov1Instagram: katherine.kovacic

And buy The Shifting Landscape where all good books are sold.

Congratulations and Happy Book Day, Katherine.

WIN A COPY OF THIS FABULOUS BOOK 

Only open to Australia residents.

All you have to do is:

  1. In the comments section on this post, tell us why you’d like to win the book.
  2. Share it on social media and tag ‘Dee White Author’

Good luck!

FAUNA: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures – Tania McCartney shares creative secrets

One of the things I love most about being Australian is the amazing fauna we have in our country. Tania McCartney has captured all my favourites and more in her gorgeous new book, Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures.

“Did you know that platypus have retractable webbing on their hind feet to enable an easy transition from swimming to digging? That kangaroos can’t sweat and that the cassowary has no tongue?”

You’ll discover so many amazing facts about our incredible fauna in Tania’s new book.

As with all of her work, Tania is so detailed in her research that she uncovers the unknown and quirky details that I love.

This is not just a stunning book about Australian fauna, it’s also a book about conservation with Tania flagging species that are vulnerable and endangered; some of these will surprise you.

From koalas to crocodiles, and dugongs to Tasmanian devils there are so many fun and fascinating facts to devour.

There’s a lot to absorb, but kids will also enjoy the fun way in which these facts are presented with sections on drop bears, crocodile nosh, and the aerial acrobatics of the Sugar Glider, just to name a few.

I loved delving into all this amazing information, and poring over the gorgeous full colour, often humorous illustrations that add a whole new layer for readers to enjoy.

Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures is the kind of book you can take on holidays with the family to try and spot some curious fauna. It’s also a great classroom tool for talking about the fauna treasures we have in our country, and environment and species conservation.

It’s a book that takes the reader on an amazing journey of discovery, and inspires them to share what they have learned. Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures is published by the National Library of Australia and available where all good books are sold.

We’re so lucky that Tania’s joining us today to talk about how she created her beautiful new book.

Tania McCartney is an author, illustrator and editor of children’s books, with a particular passion for picture books. She has over 50 books in print or production, and recent books include Mamie(HarperCollins), Ivy Bird (Windy Hollow), I Heart the World (Hardie Grant Travel, Feb 2020), and junior fiction series Evie and Pog (HarperCollins, Feb 2020). The founder of Kids’ Book Review and The Happy Book podcast, Tania’s awards include several CBCA Notable books, the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award and the CBCA Laurie Copping Award for Distinguished Service to Children’s Literature. An ambassador for the Chief Minister’s Reading Challenge, Tania has lived in France, England and China, and currently lives in Canberra with her family, a forest of artwork and a mountain of books. 

TANIA’S TIPS AND INSPIRATION

1. What was the inspiration behind Fauna?
An animal book has been on my bucket list for a while, and during research for some of my other books, I found myself incessantly marvelling at the curiosities of our native fauna. I mean, we all know there’s lots of quirk when it comes to Australian animals, but I was finding more and more super cool facts I was pretty sure many kids (and adults) had not yet heard of.

I was also keen to produce a book that wasn’t a ‘typical’, traditional animal book. I wanted to create a book high on design and laid out in pockets of text that would enchant a broad range of kids—even reluctant readers and younger readers who are ready for ‘more’.

2. As an author/illustrator, did you write the text first and then do the illustrations or did you work on them simultaneously as you were doing the research?
I’m so lucky with the National Library. My publisher Susan Hall entrusts me with creating books in an organic way that fits my style of working. I find text and image a seamless dance, so I put most parts of Fauna together simultaneously.

I would research, write, sketch and play with shapes and form all at the same time. This meant I could create really balanced spreads. If I needed to fill a certain section, I could choose to create a new image or seek out another little fact or chart of diagram.

The book was edited from fully designed and laid-out spreads. Scientific editor Jeannette Birtles was a real trooper. She went through several rounds of spreads in this way and it worked out really well, as image was so tightly correlated with text, and both could be edited in tandem.

3. There is so much amazing detail in this book. Are you able to estimate how many hours you spent on researching and creating it?
That’s a hard question! I tend to work on several books at the same time, but Faunawas one of the rarities where I had to really focus. I’d say it took about 8 months of work in the proper sense—in that I was actively working in a solid way. But there were many times outside that active phase where I’d do further research, read, tweak, re-check, seek illustration inspiration, take photographs, make textures, etc. So perhaps the entire process was a year in the making.

4. Who is your favourite curious creature?
I have a bit of a soft spot for the dugong. Researching this beautiful creature was strangely calming, and I was particularly taken with how bonded babies and mums are. They’re just the sweetest of animals and have an extraordinary evolutionary history. I love monotremes, too—the echidna and the platypus. They have that special something—when you see one in the wild, you can’t breathe, they’re so beautiful. And both are living relics from our dinosaur past.

5. What was the hardest part about creating this book?
Creating Fauna was a joy, but probably the hardest thing was the toll on my body. The hours put into creating these illustrations … graphic design-style imagery may appear relatively ‘easy’ but it’s not. It’s a massive amount of detailed work, complete with many layers of texture and filters. The other challenging thing was the many (and necessary) rounds of edits with Jeannette. For a book like this, multiple rounds are vital. We want to get our facts straight, and science comes up with new facts almost daily! So, this was a laborious process, especially the cladogram at the end of the book. Worth it, though.

6. What did you enjoy most about creating it?
Discovering glorious facts. Learning more about our beautiful and unique fauna. Falling in love with animals all over again. Designing and laying out the book, and having the creative freedom to do so. That meant the world to me.

7. Fauna is fun, funny and fascinating, but there’s also a strong conservation thread. Why did you include this theme in your book?
As Earth’s ecosystems continue to falter, and as most of the world’s leaders continue to put profit and power before planet, we must seize any opportunity to further educate our children on conservation. These kids hold the planet’s future in their hands, and the love and care and concern they already show for nature is heartening. I hope Fauna can help impassion and inspire them further, in even the smallest way. That is, after all, what books are for.

Thanks for dropping by, Tania.

I loved your new book. I can see Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures making a great Christmas present for animal lovers of all ages.

Dee

Blabbermouth – books for anyone who has ever been in trouble for talking

I remember being in trouble for talking at school, often; especially in classes that didn’t involve creating stories or drawing.

That’s why I could relate so well to Chrissy Perry’s latest series for 7+ readers, Blabbermouth, published by Scholastic Australia.

I’m so thrilled that Chrissy is visiting my blog today to talk about how she wrote these fun and very entertaining books.

But first … about the books!

THE BLABBERMOUTH BOOKS

Amelie is the kind of kid you’d love to have in your friendship group. She’s funny, kind and wise. But like everyone, Amelie has her problems too. Amelie is bubbly, very bubbly, and sometimes things fly out her mouth without meaning to. The words are never meant to cause trouble but they do.

Nobody, even Amelie’s friends believe that she can keep her mouth shut, but Amelie is out to prove them wrong.

To do this, she takes on a secret identity requiring her to keep the darkest secrets and solve other kid’s problems in a thoughtful and unique way.

In the first book, ‘Blabbermouth – Oops, I’ve done it again!’ Amelie is ‘trying to help’ and accidentally divulges a friend’s secret. Her mouth also gets her into trouble when she’s seconded to the A-Grade netball team and involved in their strategy meetings.

In book two, Blabbermouth – Oops, I’ve told a little lie, Amelie has the most adorable thing to show the class, but she accidentally leads them to believe that it belongs to her.

Three of the girls in Amelie’s friendship group love her unconditionally, in spite of the messes her mouth gets her into. But one of them, Paris is Amelie’s frenemy – her friend one minute and turning on her the next. And if Amelie is caught out in her lie about the adorable thing, it could destroy their relationship forever.

There is so much to love about Amelie. She has many endearing qualities, and the trait the gets her into trouble the most is something that many kids her age would experience at some point – accidentally divulging a secret.

There’s so much to love about these books. They’re full of humour and cute and quirky drawings by Pete Petrovic, and Amelie is a problem solver with a mature self-awareness for a girl in Grade 5.

I really liked that her friendships are not smooth sailing because they are realistic and her experiences are very relatable.

The Blabbermouth Books are fast-faced fun with deeper underlying themes for readers aged 8+ and will help kids of all genders navigate the difficult road of friendship. The first two books in the series left me wanting more.

ABOUT CHRISSIE

Chrissie Perry (who also writes as Chrissie Keighery) is the author of thirty-five books for Children and Young Adults, including thirteen in the popular Go Girl series and the award winning YA novel, Whisper.

Find out more about Chrissie at her website: https://chrissieperry.com/

HOW CHRISSE WROTE THESE FABULOUS BLABBERMOUTH BOOKS

  1. Where did the inspiration for Amelie’s character come from?

I had an idea that it could be fun to write about a clueless kid who has been given an Advice Column to run. Initially, I thought it might be called ‘Just Ask Ava’. As I developed her character, though, it became clear that her clunkiness is largely due to her lack of filter. It’s true for a lot of kids (and quite a few adults too!).  I really wanted this to be a fun, light hearted series, and Amelie Anderson seemed just the ticket.

  1. Did you have a frenemy at school? Does writing about them help?

Yes, in Primary School I totally did – thanks for asking! Her name was Melinda BLEEPand she gave me a very hard time. I think her biggest problem was that THE most popular girl liked to hang out with me. Melinda BLEEPwould belittle and humiliate me at every opportunity. I definitely thought about her when I was writing Paris Sheridan. The techniques she used to put me down finally came in handy! It was cathartic having Amelie stand in my place, as she’s so resilient and refuses to let Paris keep her down for long.

  1. Have you planned out the whole series or do you write each book as a new idea comes to you?

 A bit of both. There is a narrative arc that rides across the whole series, but each book can be read as a standalone. So, when ideas for a particular book became too congested, I’d keep some for another book. In general, though, each book is driven by a couple of threads with a strong relationship to the title.

  1. What did you love most about writing these books?

Amelie made me laugh. She’s very unlike me. I’m pretty sensitive, but our dear gal is resilient. So, through all her trials and tribulations, I knew she would be okay. I love the subsidiary characters too (except Paris, but even she has reasons why she is who she is) and whenever I got to see Pete’s renditions of them I felt utterly delighted.

  1. What was the hardest thing about writing them?

Sometimes figuring out how the problems Amelie has to answer in her Advice Column could play into her life experiences and make her more emotionally intelligent were tricky to manoeuvre. Of course, the links had to appear seamless – and there’s often a lot of paddling below the surface to make that happen.

  1. What do you want readers to take away from them?

First and foremost, I want readers to have fun with this series. The take away is that they may start to consider notions of kindness, empathy and inclusiveness along the way. That’s quite a lofty goal – but I just mean baby steps towards these qualities.

Thanks for dropping in, Chrissie. It was so great to chat with you and read your books.

If you had a frenemy at school or was in trouble for talking a lot, we’d love to hear your stories in the comments section of this post. If you have a question for Chrissie about her books, you can include that in the comments too.

International Author Sails in to DeeScribe Writing

Today I’m very excited to welcome dear friend and fellow SCBWI Nevada mentee, Mina Witteman to my blog.

Mina is an amazing international author and editor, and today she’s sharing the inspiring story of how genetics, a love of books, and a lifetime of sailing led to the creation of her hugely successful Boreas series for middle grade readers.

Mina will tell us how she weaves facts and reality into her extraordinary fiction.

ABOUT MINA

Mina writes in English and Dutch, and has seven middle grade adventure novels out in the Netherlands, over 40 short stories, and a Little Golden Book. She is currently working on an English novel for Young Adults and an English middle grade novel.

She debuted in 2005 with De wraak van Deedee (Deedee’s Revenge), followed by two more middle grade adventure novels with Van Goor Children’s Books. In 2010 she transferred to Ploegsma Children’s Book Publishers, one of the oldest and most prestigious children’s book publishers in the Netherlands, where her Boreas series is published. The Boreas series tell the story of twelve-year-old Boreas who circumnavigates the world with his parents on a sailboat. The first book, Boreas en de zeven zeeën (Boreas and the Seven Seas ), came out in June 2015 and received rave reviews. Boreas en de duizend eilanden (Boreas and the Thousand Islands) was published in April 2016 and was equally praised, just like book 3 in the series, Boreas en de vier windstreken (Boreas and the Four Winds) that saw the light in 2017. Book 4, Boreas en de vijftien vrienden (Boreas and the Fifteen Friends) is scheduled to come out in 2018.

She was honored to write a series of 21 short stories with illustrations of famous Dutch illustrator Fiep Westendorp. The series was published in Bobo Children’s Magazine. Recent short stories are published in the famous read-aloud anthologies of Ploegsma Children’s Books. She is the proud author of a Dutch Little Golden Book, Mia’s Nest (Rubinstein Publishing, 2014), followed by a full-version Spanish edition, El nido de Mia (Panamericana, 2016).

Mina is a seasoned book editor, trained through the University of Amsterdam’s Dual Master Book Editing. She is an certified teacher creative writing (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) and teaches and coaches budding and published writers alike. Mina is SCBWI’s International Published Authors’ Coordinator and a founding member of the successful SCBWI Europolitan Conferences. Mina is member of the EU Planning Committee of the SCBWI British Isles’ Undiscovered Voices Competition for unagented and unpublished writers and illustrators and a nominating body for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and a long-time jury member for the Young Authors Fiction Festival of the American Library in Paris. She is the Program Associate Children and Young Adults for the Bay Area Book Festival, and lives in   Berkeley, California.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WRITING – Mina’s story

I grew up in a small town in the Netherlands. Tucked away in the crown of a knotted linden tree, I read book after book, fiction and non-fiction, books that landed me in adventures on far shores, books that taught me history and mythology, books that let me explore nature and science. I loved these books and their exciting unfamiliar worlds. I often wished I could live in them for a while. Reading sparked a fire that, to this date, hasn’t gone out. But there was more that ignited this longing to look further than my own world. My father was an architect and a sailor with a lifelong dream to sail around the world. He instilled in me a love for science, for the sea and the wind. My mother showed me how to catch the tiniest details of life and nature, like a caterpillar on a tree branch or a quicksilver rabbit in a faraway field, gone in an eye’s blink. She also had the gift of storytelling, which she passed on to me. With strands like that coiled around each other and forming my DNA, it was inevitable that some day I myself would write thrilling adventures on far shores.

It wasn’t until I had scattered my mother’s ashes in the sea and bid my father fair winds and following seas, that Boreas was born. Boreas, a young boy named after the Greek god of the northern wind, who circumnavigates the world with his parents on their sailboat the Argo. I couldn’t be happier when Ploegsma, one of the oldest and most prestigious Dutch children’s publishing houses, decided to publish the series.

I wanted the series to appeal to all children, no matter where they lived, to girls and boys, to sailors and to readers who prefer solid ground. Like the stories that captivated me when I was young, I wanted Boreas’s journey to reflect life and the real world in all its facets. I could not just include fun and games; I had to add life’s hardships and the world’s challenges, as well. My biggest hurdle was that I love—as in LOVE!—facts. If I come across something, say celestial navigation, I find out every little detail about it. And I’m super eager to share that knowledge. But I didn’t want to scuttle Boreas’s fast-paced adventures by dumping facts.

My mother’s storytelling gift threw me a lifebuoy. While perusing the logbooks she kept during the twelve years she and my father spent sailing, I realized Boreas had to keep a logbook, too. So, I alternated riveting adventures, ashore and at sea, with more reflective logbook pages where I could sprinkle in my fun facts, ranging from the use of marine signal flags to, yes, celestial navigation, from recipes of dishes typical to the countries Boreas visits to wildlife to plastic pollution.

Most important to me was that I portrayed events, countries and cultures without cloaking the harsher sides of life. I juxtaposed bleaker stories with lighter ones to find a healthy balance in presenting the good and the bad for my young middle grade readers. My Dutch candor keeps me from prettifying the truth. If there is no happy end in real life, like when Boreas and his parents crash into the self-built raft of a young refugee, trying cross the English Channel, I won’t forge a happy ending nor will I leave my readers in despair. I do want to give hope and the logbook pages turned out to be a perfect tool for that. Boreas looks back on events like this, asking himself questions: What is fair and what is unfair? How would he solve the situation if he were in charge? Readers, but also teachers and librarians love the books, as they not just give the joy of reading, but offer talking points for discussions, while sneaking in information and facts that can deepen my readers understanding of the world.

Thanks, Mina for sharing your amazing story with us. If you have questions for Mina, please feel free to share them in the comments section of this blog.

Happy writing 🙂

Dee

Tarin of the Mammoths – Jo Sandhu’s 5 Step Approach to Story Development

Jo Sandhu is an amazing writer who was very supportive of me in the early stages of my career, which is why I’m so pleased that her beautifully written Tarin of the Mammoths series (Book 2 due out next month) is doing so well.

In today’s post, Jo generously shares her Five Step Approach to Story Development … and I review her beautiful book, Tarin of the Mammoths – Book 1.

ABOUT JO

Jo grew up in the Tweed Valley in northern NSW, close to the beach… and she’s still there. She’s married to Sarj, and has two boys, Chris, 21 and Alex, 19.

Jo has been writing on and off for over 15 years and her short stories have been highly commended in numerous competitions. Tarin of the Mammoths: The Exile is my first published novel.

JO SANDHU’S FIVE STEP APPROACH TO STORY DEVELOPMENT

I’ve always loved a Quest story and I’ve always been fascinated by history, so it was probably inevitable that I would one day write an historical adventure story. It only took me ten years! Of course, my first draft was very different to the story that was finally published, and these are some of the steps I took to develop a trilogy from my initial idea.

Step One:

First, I started with an idea and a protagonist.

A boy travels to a mountain with an Offering from his clan.

Simple and straight forward. Then I played with that idea – I asked questions and posed problems.

Who is Tarin? Why is he going to the Mountain? Why him? What happens if he fails? Does that make him still a hero? Does anyone want to read a story about a boy who failed?

From these questions came the picture of Tarin as a member of a Clan or Tribe. I hadn’t set the exact time period yet because I was still playing with ideas around his character. He was going to be the weakest member of the Clan, because I like the idea of the Unlikely Hero. And there would be wolves and river rapids and danger, but somehow, he would ‘save’ his clan. Obviously, still lots of plot holes at this stage of development.

Step Two: Refine the details.

My next step was to make some decisions about Tarin’s world, because that would determine the nature of his Quest.

Where is this happening, and most importantly, when?

Two elements came together here.

Firstly, I had always loved Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series and wanted to share it with my children, but they were too young for such an adult book. Secondly, I already knew a lot about the Paleolithic Era from my own non-fiction reading. The two combined to give me my time in history – a time about 30 000 years ago, when the last of the Neanderthals were disappearing and mammoths and bison still roamed the tundra in large numbers.

I then had to decide about place. I had spent a year in Finnish Lapland as an Exchange Student and still remembered the forests and deep winter. This would be my landscape.

As my picture of Tarin and his world grew, so did my plot. I have to plot a story before I begin writing, otherwise I get a bit tangled up and lose focus. I think a good plot outline is like a map – I might wander off course sometimes, and even find a trail that is better than my original plan, but if I don’t have that initial map to keep me focussed on my destination, I could end up anywhere!

At this stage I had Tarin reaching the mountain, rescuing the wolf pups, returning home and being hailed a hero. The End.

Step Three: Research – my favourite part.

I love research so much I tend to get lost in it. I wanted an authentic world, so I read widely on archaeological digs, scientific discoveries, customs of ancient civilisations, flora and fauna, survival skills, herbal medicine, hunting skills, and so on, and my historical details are as authentic as possible after 30 000 years.

Step Four: Write the story. Follow the map, but be willing to explore.

Step Five: Editing and layering.

Possibly my favourite bit after researching. This is where I take my raw story and shape it into something completely different. I take out extraneous words, adjust pace, swap chapters around, change characters names, delete whole passages in disgust – all the while using my research to add authenticity and richness to the world I’ve created.

I like adding extra layers to the story and I do this by dropping in small facts such as wolverine fur doesn’t allow ice to form, reindeer fur keeps the wearer warm and dry, and sedge grass can be stuffed in boots as insulation. I use Finnish words such as Kaamos for the long, dark winter when the sun doesn’t rise, and beaska is a Saami (traditional Lappish) word for coat. The herbs Tarin uses are all Scandinavian herbs and used authentically, although I created mustika, the plant that brings on trances or death, from the Finnish words for black and plant.

It’s like adding to a skeleton – muscle, flesh, then skin and finally, clothes. I find this is when the story really starts to sing.

I’ve really enjoyed writing Tarin’s story. Book Two, Clan of Wolves is out in October this year, followed by Book Three, Cave Bear Mountain next March.

You can find me at www.josandhu.com

Thanks Jo for taking us through your fascinating story development process and sharing your tips.

DEE’S REVIEW OF TARIN OF THE MAMMOTHS – The Exile

Tarin of the Mammoths – the Exile is a seamless work of historical fiction that immerses the reader so deeply in Tarin’s world that you feel like you are part of the story, sitting in the deer hide tent, or rubbing firestones together to try and get warm.

You can smell the broth being stirred with the bleached bone, and you can picture Tarin limping along, determined but frightened.

With extroardinary setting detail, author Jo Sandhu has captured the world of the Mammoth Clan completely.

Then there’s the main character, Tarin. Tarin is so believable, vulnerable and brave that he stays with you long after this story is over.

Tarin longs to be a hunter, but his twisted leg means he is feared and bullied. After a disastrous mishap, Tarin is forced to leave his family and travel alone across wild, unknown land to save the Mammoth Clan to which he belongs.

Tarin’s disgrace is even harder to bear because his parents are the leaders of the Clan.

He has so much to lose, his family, his honour and his life.

Readers looking for adventure, great characters and tension will love Tarin of the Mammoths – The Exile, and after reading the last page will be eager to know what happens next.

And you’re in luck, because the sequel, Clan of Wolves is due for release early next month.

Thanks Jo for visiting DeeScribe Writing, and sharing your writing secrets.

Dee

International Author Sails in With Some Fabulous Writing Insights

I first met extraordinary author Mina Witteman at the 2010 SCBWI LA Conference where she was also the representative of SCBWI Netherlands through her role as Regional Advisor.
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By a strange coincidence, we both successfully applied for the SCBWI Nevada Mentorship Program and here we are pictured above.

As well as being a much-loved writer, Mina is also a huge advocate for children’s and young adult creators and the publishing industry.

In 2015 I was lucky to be invited by Mina to present a writing workshop at the second SCBWI Europolitan Conference she organised in Amsterdam. She is one of the three founding members of this bi-annual conference that offers a great opportunity for children’s book creators to connect with each other and with publishing professionals from all over the world.

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My Amsterdam writing workshop

Mina was Regional Advisor for SCBWI Netherlands for more than five years from 2011 to 2016, and as well as organising amazing events in that part of the world she was also responsible for member communications. The Dutch chapter of the SCBWI is one of the nominating bodies of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s most prestigious children’s book award.

Mina is a member of the EU Planning Committee of Undiscovered Voices anthology whose aim is to discover new talent in Children’s and YA lit. In addition to this she spent four years as the Chairman of the Working Group Children’s Books of the Dutch Authors Guild in the Netherlands.

She is still a Jury member of the Young Authors Fiction Festival organised by the American Library in Paris. dsc_4667

In between doing all this amazing advocacy work for the children’s book industry, Mina still finds time to create her wonderful stories for children, and that’s what she’s here to talk to us about today. She writes across all genre and age groups from picture book to young adult.

She currently divides her time between her hometown Amsterdam and San Francisco, where she is researching for a number of new works.

MINA DRAWS ON HER OWN ADVENTURES TO WRITE HER BOREAS SERIES

  1. Mina, your latest very popular series follows the adventures of Boreas, a young boy who circumnavigates the world with his parents on a sailboat. Can you tell us where the character of Boreas came from?

boreas-copy-2
My favorite childhood book was Margaret Wise Brown’s
THE SAILOR DOG, a Little Golden Book about a dog that sailed around the world, and another one of my favorites was GIDEONS REIZEN (Gideon’s Travels), a book by famous Dutch children’s book author An Rutgers van der Loeff. Both books opened new and excitingly unknown worlds. From the first time my mother read me THE SAILOR DOG, I wanted to sail with Scupper on his ship. I wanted to hang my hat on a hook next to his, my spyglass on a hook next to his and have a bunk for a bed. I wanted to explore new worlds with him. Just like I wanted to travel with Gideon and his father to the mesmerizing new worlds they traveled to. With the Boreas series I hope to open new worlds to my readers, too.

2. You have mentioned to me before that these books come from your own personal experiences? Can you elaborate on this?
Sailing is in my blood, too. Thanks to my father, a sailor in heart and soul, we could sail before we could ride a bike, and that is something extraordinary in a country, where people are basically born bicycling.

We sailed a lot, first in a small open boat on a nearby lake and later on my father’s yacht out on the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. When we kids had all left home, my father left his firm – he was an architect – and his house, bought a bigger yacht and whisked my mother away on a sailing trip that would last twelve years. Every chance we had we would fly to wherever on the globe they were and sail along for a month or so. My mother was the storyteller of the family – I might have inherited some genes here too – and all those years at sea she kept a journal in which she wrote her daily adventures. When she passed away she left me her journals. They are my inspiration, together with all my own sailing memories. 

Mina sailing in France as a child with one of her sisters.

Mina sailing in France as a child with one of her sisters.

  1. boreas-en-de-vier-windstrekenHow important do you think it is for an author to bring their own personal experiences to their work as a children’s book writer? Do you have any tips for other writers aiming to do this?

I believe an author bringing personal experiences to the table is what makes the heart of a story beat.

And this is also where the hard work starts. On whatever experience or memory an author draws, it should never end up in a story just like it was. The art of writing is to transpose the beating heart from your memory to your story. You call up the feeling, the emotion behind the memory or experience and slip that into your protagonist’s skin. You disconnect the personal memory from what you need for your story.

You throw out the truth—what really happened to you—and invite fiction—what happens to your characters.

It’s easier with the middle grade adventure novels, but decidedly harder with my young adult novels. My young adult novels rely more heavily on my emotional life and I have to actively curb my truth, as it were, to prevent it from polluting my protagonist’s story or, worse, taking over and morphing it into a memoir.

  1. Do you think that it’s this personal connection to your work that makes these books so popular with readers? If so, why?

Reviewers and readers alike often describe that it is as if they are part of the story, as if they are physically present and sense everything the protagonist senses.

Readers of the Boreas books mention that they can feel the wind in their hair, they hear the tingling of the halyards and stays, the flapping of the sails.

I believe this feeling of first-hand experience is brought about by how I peel the me from the memories and shape them into emotions the reader can project onto himself.

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Mina tumbling down a waterfall

Maybe also, because I tend go even further than only using my past; I create new experiences, too. If the protagonist of my middle grade adventure books tumbles down a waterfall in a kayak, I want to know how that feels. I need to know what happens when you go under, how the current pulls your hair and clothes, how the water pressure pushes the air out of your lungs, how it feels when you want open your mouth to breathe but you can’t because all you’ll pull in is water, how you panic and lose track of what’s up and what’s down. So… I make sure I tumble down a waterfall too. Just like I hike icy mountains or scorching deserts or spend weeks alone at sea.

Just like I roam the streets of San Francisco and Amsterdam for my Young Adult novels. All to find out how my protagonist will see, hear, smell but above all how he or she will feel: the happiness, the sadness, the terror, the desperation, the boredom, the excitement.

  1. You are currently spending some time in San Francisco, immersing yourself in that world for your writing. How important do you think it is for an author to do actual research as opposed to virtually through the internet? What do you think this adds to a writer’s work?

As said before, my work is known to pull readers deep into such a vivid world that it feels as if they are actually there, walking alongside the protagonist, or even living in the protagonist’s head, seeing the world through her eyes. I would not be able to pull that off without walking where my protagonist walks, without seeing what she sees, without experiencing the light and the dark of this city. The Internet is a great help, but it gives you the technicalities of a location only, the street plan, the houses, the hills, the landmarks. I know with Street View you can ‘walk’ the streets, but what it doesn’t provide are any other sensory details. It doesn’t give you that distinct change in smell when you stray from the Financial District into The Tenderloin when crisp winter air morphs into the fetor of human waste. It doesn’t give you the nocturnal wailing and crying of the homeless that haunt you well through the day. It doesn’t brush the salty tang of the ocean past your lips. For that you have to be there. I have to be there. It not only breathes life into my writing, it’s also imperative to the development of the story, because it influences the actions of my characters, it has an impact on my protagonist’s state of mind. Imagine how different her responses will be if she ends up in a clean and bright city that is entirely plucked from the virtual reality of the Internet instead of being plunged into the grim truth of San Francisco… 

'The salty tang of the ocean'. Mina sails the Mediterranean.

The salty tang of the ocean sailing the Mediterranean.

MINA’S LITTLE GOLDEN BOOK

  1. You have also written a Little Golden Book, Mia’s Nest. How did it feel to have your work selected for this classic series? What do you think makes Mia’s story so special?

el-nido-de-miaMia’s Nest…

My first favorite book was the Little Golden Book I mentioned earlier and to be included in that legendary collection is an immense honor.

Angela Pelaez Vargas and I were delighted when we got the call from the publisher. What makes Mia’s Nest a Little Golden Book? I guess it’s the universal theme—a little girl with tangles in her hair—combined with the unexpected twist and Angela’s enchanting pencil drawings, which give the illustrations that classic feel, that, at least I think, fits this much-lauded series.

  1. You have the ability to write in more than one language, what do you think this brings to your work as a children’s book author?

I am not sure if it adds to my work as a children’s book author per se. What I do know is that I never translate: when I write in Dutch I live, think and dream in Dutch and when I work on an English manuscript I live, think and dream in English and because of that it’s easier to write my Dutch novels in Amsterdam and my English novels in the US.

How I choose in which language I write a story? I don’t know. It doesn’t fees like I have a choice. Somehow the language is an intrinsic part of the story I need to tell. The idea comes in Dutch or in English and that decides in which language it needs to be written. So far, I mostly write my middle grade stories, which are adventurous and humorous, in Dutch, whereas my young adult stories that are decidedly raw and dark come in English. It may be that English creates just that little more distance between the darkness of those stories and me to not slip into despair myself. Or maybe my voice is just funnier and more light-hearted in Dutch. I don’t question my gut here. I just go for it. In English or in Dutch.

Picture books and short stories come in Dutch and in English. In between my longer work, I love writing short pieces. My études. I use them to sharpen my pen, to force myself to be concise and trim skin, fat and muscles from a story to unravel its bare bones. Or I use them to just whip my brain in gear and keep the writing going. I need that in both languages and it’s always a conscious decision, composing an étude in Dutch or English.  403137

MINA’S WRITING TIPS

  1. As a highly successful children’s book author, what tips do you have for up and coming writers?

Don’t give up on your dream would be the obvious one, right? And you shouldn’t. You should never give up on your dream.

But not giving up on your dream comes with an obligation: you will need to work hard to make it happen.

Not just because it isn’t an easy business (and trust me on this one: it isn’t!), but first and foremost because we owe it the children who will read our stories. Our books are the ones they first encounter on their path to literacy, the earliest guidance in growing up, toward compassion and to critical thinking. We have to give it our best shot. You have to invest in your tuition. You have to continue to hone your craft every step of the way. Learn from others. Read the authors you love, but the ones you don’t love, too.

Gaining insight in story and in what works and what doesn’t will help you find your own strength in writing, your unique voice.

  1. Can you share one lesson you’ve learned in your journey from aspiring writer to an author whose books are loved by so many?

Writing is a wicked awesome métier but a solitary one. Don’t get lost in silence. Don’t get lost in your own head. Find the people out there who know what it is to be a writer, people that have experienced what you experience, the joys of that perfect story idea, the satisfaction of overcoming blocks and other hindrances, the despair that washes over you when you get rejection after rejection, the self-doubt that creeps in when words won’t work, the thrill of selling a story, the sheer ecstasy of holding your first book in your hands. You will need your tribe and you can find them by joining organizations like the SCBWI and local authors guilds. Find your tribe!

Mina, thank you so much for visiting and for your wonderful insights into your world and how you create your amazing books.

You can find out more about Mina and her wonderful work here.

If you have questions for Mina about anything writing related, feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post. It could be about her work, about being a bilingual author, about writing stories for an international readership … anything.

Hope you’ve had a great start to 2017 and may it bring you much happiness.

I have a big year ahead with two new books coming which I’m so excited about. I’ll be posting about them here. I’ll also be sharing lots more writing tips, author interviews and the story of how I came to sign with  my fabulous US agent, Jill Corcoran. (I was so lucky to have wonderful people supporting and encouraging me along the way. That’s why as Mina says, it’s so important to connect with other writers.

Till next time …

Happy writing 🙂

Dee

 

 

 

Tracy Clark Brings Her Worldwide Conspiracy to Australia

traleaning-4Today I’m pleased to welcome an author all the way from one of my favourite parts of the USA, Nevada.

Tracy Clark is an award-winning author who grew up a “Valley Girl” in Southern California but now lives in her home state of Nevada. She has two teenagers who are a continuous source of great dialogue. (I can relate to this, Tracy 🙂

Her published books include: a young-adult paranormal series, The Light Key Trilogy (SCINTILLATE, DEVIATE, ILLUMINATE,) and her latest novel, MIRAGE, an eerie YA thriller.

Tracy’s a proud mom, a private pilot, a post-skydiving daredevil, a spicy-chocolate connoisseur, and an irredeemable dreamer. www.tracyclark.org

Welcome Tracy 🙂 I’m so pleased you could take time out from your busy schedule to visit my blog. We have so much in common even though we’ve never met. I might need to get some spicy-chocolate tips from you at some stage 🙂

Tracy says,
“Thank you again for being willing to help me spread the word about SCINTILLATE internationally! It’s book one in The Light Key Trilogy. The series is complete and all books are available. Scintillate is on sale for .99 on all platforms and Bookbub is running its ad on 1/29. (Though the sale price will extend a bit longer, according to my publisher.) 
 
I’m thrilled to bring the series to Australia as it is a global story featuring a worldwide conspiracy. The series has been likened to a YA DaVinci Code or National Treasure because I use real-life mysteries and artifacts from around the world to build the mythology. There’s a strong romance storyline as well because I can’t help but write kissing scenes. It’s an addiction! Right now, the whole series can be had for about $8.00 USD. “

If you have a question for Tracy about her writing or her fabulous books, feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post.

ABOUT SCINTILLATE (NOW AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIA)

scintillate-new-coverA mighty flame follows a tiny spark.

Cora Sandoval’s mother disappeared when she was five and they were living in Ireland. Since then, her dad has been more than overprotective and Cora is beginning to chafe under his confines. But even more troubling is the colorful light she suddenly sees around people. Everyone, that is, except herself—instead, she glows a brilliant, sparkling silver.

As she realizes the danger associated with these strange auras, Cora is inexplicably drawn to Finn, a gorgeous Irish exchange student who makes her feel safe. Their attraction is instant, magnetic, and primal—but her father disapproves, and Finn’s mother orders him home to Ireland upon hearing he’s fallen in love. After a fight with her father, Cora flees to Ireland, both to follow Finn and to look for her missing mother.

There she meets another silver-haloed person and discovers the meaning of her newfound powers and their role in a conspiracy spanning centuries—one that could change mankind forever…and end her life.

Scintillate is the thrilling Book 1 in the Light Key Trilogy.

WHERE TO BUY TRACY’S BOOKS

www.tracyclark.org – website
Rated 4.1 stars on Amazon and won the Golden Quill for Best YA.
THE LIGHT KEY TRILOGY
SCINTILLATE,  Book 1
DEVIATE, Book 2
ILLUMINATE, Book 3
PLUS
MIRAGE, a YA thriller, 2016 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Thanks for visiting us here in Australia, Tracy. We are so pleased we’ll have the opportunity to buy your books.
Dee