Monday, December 06, 2010

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

Today's interview and giveaway comes from the fabulous, very funny and adorable Shannon Messenger at "Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe"! Check her out pronto, follow her, gobble up her wonderful posts about writing and life and books!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday--The Healing Spell (and a Giveaway!!!)

You guys--I am SO excited for today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, because not only do I get to talk about a book I LOVE, but I get to introduce you to the amazing author who wrote it. AND she was kind enough to donate a gorgeous signed book for me to give away. So yeah--LOTS of good stuff. This will be a bit of a longer post, but it's so packed with awesome I doubt you'll feel it.

Okay, so the book we're talking about came out earlier this year: THE HEALING SPELL, by Kimberly Griffiths Little. Here's the beautiful cover and blurb:

Twelve-year-old Livie is living with a secret and it's crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother's coma, but she can't tell anyone. It's up to her to find a way to wake her momma up.

Stuck in the middle of three sisters, hiding a forbidden pet alligator, and afraid to disappoint her daddy, whom she loves more than anyone else, Livie struggles to find her place within her own family as she learns about the powers of faith and redemption. Livie's powerful, emotional, and sometimes humorous story will stay with readers long after the last line is read.

I'd heard amazing things about this book from my fellow Bookanistas, so as soon as I had a spare second to read, I dove into this story. And it did not disappoint!

I read the book all in one sitting because I had to know Livie's secret, or if the healing spell would work. And the writing is gorgeous! Lovely. Powerful. Made me laugh AND cry. Yep. Definitely a winner. Added bonus: Kimberly is one of my favorite people. Sweet. Supportive. So much fun. But don't take my word for it. See for yourself. I give you, the FABULOUS Kimberly Griffiths Little:

Me: Thank you SO much for sparing a minute to hang out with me Kimberley--I know how busy your revision schedule has been recently--so I'm going to jump straight into the questions! One of my favorite things about THE HEALING SPELL is how the setting is so deeply integrated into the story, and the lovely way you describe it. It makes me want to pack my bags and head to the south. But as a Cali girl who has *blush* never gone to the south, I'm not sure where to go. Any place in particular I should visit?

KGL: I'm a Cali girl, too (*patiently pauses while Shannon squeals and fist pumps for Cali girls*)- and the first time I visited Louisiana and took a swamp tour, I fell in love. HARD.

You can take a bayou/swamp tour in just about any small town between Lafayette and New Orleans. Just get off I-10 and explore all the wonderful small towns along Highway 90 in "Cajun Country". I've been to them all; visited schools, graveyards, neighborhoods, cafes, Main Street, sugar cane refineries, etc. Google "swamp tours" and you'll find tons of websites like this one for Cajun Jack:

He's terrific! We even got rained on!

Of course, New Orleans is a fabulous, mysterious city, with creepy voodoo museums, great food, carriage rides, haunted hotels, like the Bourbon New Orleans Hotel. I stayed there with a girlfriend on a research trip and there is a ballroom at the top of the hotel where they used to hold Quadrille Balls before the Civil War where French plantation owners came to pick out a mulatto mistress. Cindy-Rae and I walked up and down the halls and visited the ballroom several times while we were there - with our tape recorder on - and kept hoping for "paranormal" activity. Spooked ourselves silly! I also had my fortune told by a Voodoo Priestess with a crystal ball. Verrrry interesting. I recorded my *session* on a hidden tape, too, mwah, ha, ha.

You've also GOT to visit the plantations along the Mississippi River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge - fantastic and romantic! Natchez, Mississippi is also another *must-see* city with dozens of city and country plantations to tour. We stayed at the Choctaw Mansion right in town and it was like staying at Tara from "Gone With the Wind".

A few years ago my husband and I spent our anniversary at Nottaway Plantation which is open for tours and as a Bed & Breakfast. Here's a picture of how stunning it is:

(Nottaway (nicknamed White Castle) is in my current Victorian Paranormal WIP.)

Me: Okay, that's it--you will officially be my vacation planner from now on! Awesome suggestions. And while I've never been to the south, I LOVE their food. What's your favorite southern delicacy? And do you have a magic spell for making all those delicious fried foods low calorie? ;)

KGL: Beignets, crawfish etoufee, pralines, deep fried catfish, hush puppies, to name a few food groups! The secret to *not* putting on weight is DANCING. Those Cajuns eat up all that good food in those restaurants and then hit the dance floor and burn it all off to the live bands! But recently, I have been working on some beauty spells . . .

Me: Beauty Spells? Okay, I definitely need some of those. Maybe that could help me get rid of the "Overworked Writer" look I've been rocking lately. It's ... not cute. *sighs* Moving on to less depressing thoughts: I'm also amazed that your descriptions of T-Baby made me want a pet alligator! (I'm...not a big reptile fan) Which makes me wonder, did you have (or still have) any unique pets growing up? 

KGL: My cat Sparky lived until she was 18 years old and I got her when I was three. Other than a few German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers over the years, nothing extraordinary, but as the mother of THREE BOYS, we've had several snakes in the house, geckos, lizards, tarantulas, gerbils, and a scorpion as pets. Can you tell that I'm a mother who can't say "NO"?! 

Me: LOL. Which also means you are an awesome mother! Though if I ever come visit you, I'm going to need some sort of guarantee there won't be any tarantulas or scorpions on the premises! *shudder* Okay, as a middle grade writer, I have to take this chance and talk craft with a fellow middle grade writer. What do you think is the biggest challenge writing for kids in this age range? 

KGL: I think the biggest challenge is keeping your MG self alive and well nourished. Remembering those emotions and embarrassments and angst and tears and friendships and family problems.All those issues are huge at those ages, the age before kids turn into independent, sneaky teenagers taking your car keys and eating you out of house and home and having hormonal melt-downs. (Actually, I love teenagers, too!) 

Me: So true! Everything feels insurmountable at that age. And that's before hormones *really* complicate things! (Ah...teenagers) :) Any advice you'd like to pass on to the aspiring writers reading this? 

KGL: Write. Write. Write. Never, never, never give up. Learn your craft. Get feedback from trusted crit partners. Get online and learn the biz! And most of all, LOVE THE JOURNEY, LOVE THE WRITING. At the end of the day, that's often all you got - even after you're published. 

Me: Brilliant. *applauds* Okay, I know you need to get back to work, so we should probably wrap this up. But before you go, let's do a quick speed round of random questions, so my followers can get to know you better. Ready...Go!

Iced tea or hot tea? 
Um, no tea. I'm a Dr Pepper fan. And a milk fan. And strawberry lemonade. 

Worst hair style you've ever sported? 
My mother is the original creator of Princess Leia hair balls on each side of my head. 


*Shannon pauses to giggle uncontrollably*

*minutes pass*

*clears throat*

Cookies or Cake? 
Cake. Warm. I could eat half a cake all by myself. 

Which book do you wish you'd written? 
How can I possibly choose? Oldies: JANE EYRE, GONE WITH THE WIND, HARRIET THE SPY. I just finished reading, THE KNEE BONE BOY and thought it was brilliant. I'm on an Ellen Potter kick and adore her OLIVIA KIDNEY books. They are so clever and funny and true-to-life and witty. I want to be HER when I grow up!

Guiltiest TV Viewing Pleasure? 
"So You Think You Can Dance!" (I'm a frustrated ballet dancer. I grew too tall. So I took up Middle Eastern belly dancing. For reals. See my upcoming YA called SECRET RITES OF THE GODDESS in 2012 with Scholastic.) 

What color are your toenails at the moment? 
I have weird toes so I hide them in socks nearly all the time. Or slippers.

Favorite city?
Oh, gosh, how can I choose! Paris. Edinburgh. New York. San Francisco where I was raised.

How many hours do you sleep at night? 
I wake up off and on all night long so about 6 hours. Sometimes I catch up with 8 on weekends. 

And, of course, the most important question of all (careful how you answer): Twizzlers or Redvines?
I know that the online world is ALL ABOUT the Twizzlers, but sssh! I'm a total Red Vines chick! I ate a whole package last week in the car driving to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving!

Hm...I SHOULD hold that last answer against her...but I can't. She's way too sweet. If you don't believe me, look at this BEAUTIFUL hardcover of THE HEALING SPELL she has donated for me to give away. 

And even though I *want* to keep it...I'll be good and pass it on to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is follow my blog and leave a comment on today's post by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, December 11th and you'll be entered to win. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on December 12th. International entries welcome.

Good luck everyone and don't forget to leave a comment HERE at Shannon's blog for a chance to win THE HEALING SPELL!!!

Happy Monday!


jacque said...

Red vines are okay...but over Twizzlers? I love this humerous! I'd also love to win of course! LOL

Lexie said...

I LOVE "So You Think You Can Dance"! Probably my favorite TV show.
I am a follower (Lexie@BookBug)

Linda Henderson said...

I enjoyed the interview very much and this sounds like a great book. I'd love to read it.

seriousreader at live dot com

Vivien said...

Wow this book looks tremendous. Great interview. Follower

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Hi Jacque, Lexie, Linda and Vivien! Thanks for your comments on the interview. Really appreciate it!



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