Kami Kinard and THE BOY PROJECT

4 Apr

Today on the blog Kami Kinard, author of THE BOY PROJECT, which which came out in January, stops by to write about female characters, Shannon Hale’s THE PRINCESS ACADEMY and why she hates using the word “favorite”. For a little more info about her amazing debut, THE BOY PROJECT, check out her trailer: 


And now, Kami:

Oh boy, I mean girl, I freak out a little when someone uses the words favorite and literature in the same sentence because I love love love reading and I could never name a favorite anything from all of the books I’ve read. BUT there are some female characters who I feel are unforgettable, and one of those is Miri from Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy. Tiny Miri is considered too small to work in the quarry like the rest of her community. Because she cannot rely on physical strength for fulfillment, she must employ other strengths: brainpower and determination. Armed with these, she is able to fight bandits. Armed with these, she is able to stand for what she believes in, instead of what is being pushed upon her by society. Brainpower and determination are two of my favorite traits in female characters.

I could not say that Miri exactly influenced my main character. When writing THE BOY PROJECT (NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS OF KARA MCALLISTER) I strove to create a strong female character, so I gave Kara McAllister the traits of real females who I admire. I think I was drawn to Miri because she shares those traits.

Like Miri, Kara is brainy. She is does a lot of thinking, creating charts and graphs, taking notes, and making lists. She is a keen observer of the world around her, just as Miri is. And like Miri, it is ultimately through these observations that she comes to understand what is most important to her life, and it isn’t what she originally thought it was at all.

Kara’s story is lighter and more humorous than Miri’s, but they share a sense of determination that comes from a feeling deep within. Both are comfortable with who they are. This makes it easier for them to face their fears, their problems, and the world. Strong female characters are awesome. I look forward to being introduced to many more through this blog!

Learn more about Kami (and Kara Mcallister) here.


Sarah Frances Hardy and PUZZLED BY PINK

27 Mar

Today on the blog Sarah Frances Hardy, author of Puzzled By Pink, which comes out this April, stops by to write about the inspiration behind her Wednesday Adams-esque Izzy.

**Sidenote: can we talk about how much I loved Wednesday Adams as a kid? I mean, the snark and the braids and the all-black clothes. Amazing. 

I can’t wait for Sarah to introduce a whole new generation of readers to Izzy, an amazing new little budding goth heroine. Here’s a little more information about PUZZLED BY PINK:

Not every girl loves pink

Izzie hates pink as much as her sister, Rose, loves it. So when Rose plans an all-pink birthday party with the guests dressed in fairy costumes, Izzie decides to give her own alternative party in the attic, where the guests will be monsters, spiders, ghosts, and the pet cat. But some powerful magic triggers the appearance of yet another guest – an unexpected one. This will be a party nobody forgets!

And now, without further ado, Sarah Frances Hardy: 

Thanks so much for having me here, and I must say that your main character in ZIP sounds fantastic. I agree that girl main characters need to have a little moxie–enough with the Bella Swans and passive princesses!

My all time favorite female character from literature is Harriet M. Welsch in Louise Fitzhugh’s HARRIET THE SPY. When I first read this book in fourth grade, I was blown away. Completely. Blown. Away.

Immediately, I scoured my house for an empty notebook and I began writing about everything that was happening around me, and when I decided that none of that was very interesting, I started making stuff up. The fictionalized journal ended up being a very good thing because (just like in the book) some friends of mine found my journal and read it. Worst nightmare, right? At least I hadn’t been writing mean things about them!

But poor Harriet! Her friends found her journal and were hurt by the things that she had written, and for that, she was very publicly shunned and ridiculed–worst of all, her friends wouldn’t let her be part of their very cool club.

Like any child would do, Harriet spent a lot of time plotting revenge, but in the end with the advice and guidance of her beloved nanny Ole Golly, Harriet apologized, got a writing gig and everything turned out all right.

So . . .  how did Harriet influence my main character in my upcoming picture book release?

Puzzled by Pink; Viking Children’s Books; April 2012

My main character Izzy is a budding goth (think Wednesday Addams) who is ousted from her little sister’s birthday party because she refuses to wear a pink tutu. So in an “I’ll show them” act of independence and defiance, she heads to the attic to have her own party. All alone.

The story ends with the sisters coming together and learning to accept each other–Izzy gets to go to the party sans pink tutus or fairy wings–and they all have a great time.


It’s that feeling of being left out of the group that Louise Fitzhugh did so well in HARRIET THE SPY that I was hoping to tap into in PUZZLED BY PINK. My main character uses anger (much like Harriet did) to hide her intense hurt over being told she can’t join the group because she’s different. And can’t every child identify with being left out? It’s awful stuff! But it happens and it’s something that you have to learn to deal with. You can’t run away and pout and drown in misery forever. You’ve got to make the best of your situation AND stay true to yourself.

Which is what Harriet did . . . and my beloved Izzy!

You can learn more about Sarah Frances Hardy, and Izzy, here!

Weekend Inspiration

26 Mar

I’m thinking of making Mondays “Eye-candy Mondays!” What do you think?

In any case, I thought I’d share a few more images that inspired me while I was writing ZIP. As always, you can take a gander at my Pinterest Board to see them all.

Thanks for stopping by!

Girl Adventurers I Love: Dear Scarlet

22 Mar

I stumbled onto this amazing blog last week and fell completely, head over heels, madly in love with the whole thing. I mean, seriously, how adorbs is five-year-old Scarlet?

Personally, I’m a big fan of the Mia Farrow hair-do that turns into a mohawk in a pinch (when you all get the chance to read ZIP, you’ll find out how much I love mohawks!) Absolutely perfect! Make sure you take a moment to read a little more about this Girl Adventurer-in-Training at the blog Dear Scarlet. 

Lynne Kelly, Author of CHAINED, Talks HARRIET THE SPY

20 Mar

Today on the blog Lynne Kelley, author of CHAINED, which comes out on May 8, 2012, stops by to write about HARRIET THE SPY. Here’s a little more information about CHAINED:

After ten-year-old Hastin’s family borrows money to pay for his sister’s hospital bill, he leaves his village in northern India to take a job as an elephant keeper and work off the debt. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn’t prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she’s not performing and hurt with a hook until she learns tricks perfectly. Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can, knowing that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape.

Lynne shares one of my favorite female adventurers of all time–Miss Harriet, of HARRIET THE SPY. Read on to learn why she loves the mischievous young spy so:

I’m not sure how often I checked out Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy from my school library, but I know my name was written on that check-out card a few times. I didn’t just want to be friends with Harriet Welsch, I wanted to be Harriet. If you lived in my neighborhood, I might have been standing outside your wooden fence, eavesdropping on your back yard conversations. (Sorry about that. It’s just business, you understand.) Like Harriet, I carried around a notebook with me and sometimes jotted down important notes about people I observed driving by, like “Bald man driving brown car. Looks suspicious.” Of course the man might have looked suspicious because of the weird girl standing there furiously scribbling notes while staring at him, but that’s beside the point.

I never knew this while reading it, but the book was considered controversial when it was first published. Harriet wasn’t well-behaved. She had flaws. But that’s probably why we loved her; we know that we’re not perfect ourselves, so it’s refreshing to find out we’re not alone. Even better, Harriet was okay with not being perfect. What a relief for anyone who’s ever felt excluded, different, or who’s said the wrong thing (and isn’t that everyone?).
Harriet wasn’t afraid to admit when she didn’t have the answers. She didn’t pretend to know things she didn’t; that takes confidence, and made her a better writer, since we can’t satisfy our curiosity if we don’t voice our questions and take time to listen to the answers.

So I still identify with Harriet Welsch, who no doubt grew up to be a writer. Isn’t that what writers do, take notes on everything we observe around us? And whether it’s a journal entry, an unedited manuscript, or an accidental “reply all” email, I’m sure everyone’s experienced the horror of having people read something not meant for public eyes, like when Harriet’s classmates found her notebook. Harriet got into some trouble for being nosy then, but it wasn’t nosiness that made her write down her observations. She just wanted to know everything. What she didn’t know yet, she’d make up a great story for.
I still carry notebooks around with me in case I see or hear something I just have to write about. But don’t worry–I’m not listening at the fence anymore. Unless I really, really need to know what’s going on over there.

We talked about our favorite spy on the blog here, so I thought that, instead of sharing a pic of the book cover, I’d include the trailer for the Harriet the Spy movie (which I loved if only because it included a teeny little pre-Buffy Michelle Trachtenburg.) Enjoy!

Weekend Inspiration

19 Mar

I love eye candy, so I thought I’d start this week with a few pics that inspired me while writing Zip!

Hot air balloons…tree houses and horses – LOVE! Looking at these photos helped me to invoke the EXACT tone I wanted to find for ZIP – whimsical, sweet and full of fun. To see more of the photos that inspired me, make sure to check out my ZIP inspiration board on Pinterest! 

And check in here tomorrow for CHAINED author Lynne Kelly’s favorite girl adventurer!

Sarvenaz Tash Talks Elizabeth Bennet

13 Mar

Today on the blog Sarvenaz Tash, author of THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOSTS, which comes out on April 24th, 2012, stops by to write about Elizabeth Bennet. Here’s a little more information about THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOSTS: 

Goldenrod Moram loves nothing better than a good quest. Intrepid, curious, and full of a well-honed sense of adventure, she decides to start her own exploring team fashioned after her idols, the explorers Lewis and Clark, and to map the forest right behind her home. This task is complicated, however, by a series of unique events—a chance encounter with a mysterious old lady has her searching for a legendary blue rose. Another encounter lands her in the middle of a ragtag gang of brilliant troublemakers. And when she stumbles upon none other than the ghost of Meriwether Lewis himself, Goldenrod knows this will be anything but an ordinary summer . . . or an ordinary quest. Debut author Sarvenaz Tash combines an edge-of-your-seat adventure, a uniquely clever voice, and an unforgettable cast of characters to prove that sometimes the best adventures of all are waiting right in your own backyard.

An intrepid girl adventurer with a thirst for adventure? LOVE it. Read on to learn more about Sarvenaz’s favorite heroines:

Oooh. I too LOVE girl adventurers and that is a very tough question. Turtle Wexler from The Westing Game and Hermione Granger both seriously come to mind.

I think for this one, I’ll have to go with Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. I reread that book yearly and, each time, I’m struck with what a perfect heroine she is. By which I mean, she’s not perfect. She’s sometimes quick to judge and gets irritated by folly rather easily. What I also love about her is that she’s not stunningly beautiful right from page one. She’s a person who becomes beautiful to the reader and the hero through her personality: which is vivacious and witty. Not to mention, this is a girl who can deliver a zinger.

I think her wittiness and smarts is something that she shares with my main character, Goldenrod, who also cares little about what others think of her.

Learn more about Sarvenaz and her debut THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST here.