Thursday, July 28, 2016

Throwback Thursday

The first ARCs of SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY featured a lovely cover. In 2012, my best friend surprised me with a cake, featuring that same cover. 

Happy Thursday!



Monday, June 6, 2016

20 Days of Backstory: Day 20

Hi, friends,

This is the final day of my blog series on MAYDAY backstory. Thank you for following along.  



BACKSTORY FACT 20

In the first draft of the story, I wrote an epilogue from Wayne Kovok as a young man in the military. 

The idea to write a letter was a good one, but I decided to include a letter from Grandpa instead. This just illustrates how stories morph over time. 

Here is the epilogue, unedited. The “seven things” was a once, now deleted thread in the novel in which Grandpa gave Wayne advice. It refers to completing seven things a person can take pride in, not own, but can be photographed. 


To: Sandy Showalter

I heard a song the other day. It included the word bewildering in the lyrics and it made me remember you and that time in my life when I wrote letters I never sent. But hearing that word caused me to pause and pick up a piece of paper and a pen. I haven’t done that since school days. Usually I just type. But I thought you’d want to know that today, I’m checking off one of my seven things. Serving my country. There will be a photograph and when I look at it, I’ll remember everything. 

Sincerely,

Wayne H. Kovok
2nd Lieutenant, United States Air Force

--



Saturday, June 4, 2016

20 Days of Backstory: Day 19

Hi, friends,

In the spirit of Wayne Kovok, the fact-loving protagonist of my new novel, MAYDAY, I'm sharing facts about the story. 




BACKSTORY FACT 19


MAYDAY has a playlist. Most of the time, I bounce around and listen to a ton of songs while I'm editing. For MAYDAY, I had a steady playlist, which provided constant inspiration.

"The Soldier and The Oak" by Eliot Park. (This is the song I heard as Grandpa and Wayne drive East to find the flag.)

"Wave on Ole Glory" by Billy Dean. (Just because.)

"Kryptonite" by 3 Doors Down (When Wayne finds out Grandpa's secret and runs.)

"America" by Imagine Dragons (Watch the video here )

"Til There Was You" by Meredith Willson (The Beatles' version. This is Denny's song.)

"Hero" by Family of the Year (I think Wayne feels this way.)

"Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson (Another running song.)

"Learn to Fly" by The Foo Fighters (A must listen after reading the final page. I listened to this hundreds of times as I edited that final chapter.)

Friday, June 3, 2016

20 Days of Backstory: Day 18

Hi, friends,

 In the spirit of Wayne Kovok, the fact-loving protagonist of my new novel, MAYDAY, I'm sharing facts about the story.


BACKSTORY FACT 18


- I had a picture of Robert Duvall on my desk while writing the novel. He served as the muse for Wayne's grandfather. I love him! 


Did you know that one of the major charities Mr. Duvall supports is Our Military Kids, whose mission it is to minimize the emotional toll on military children? True story! Check them out and lend your support, too. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

20 Days of Backstory: Day 17

Hi, friends,

In the spirit of Wayne Kovok, the fact-loving protagonist of my new novel, MAYDAY, I'm sharing facts about the story. 



BACKSTORY FACT 17


In a crucial scene, Wayne and his grandfather eat at The Hamburger Store in Jefferson, Texas. This is a real place! The meringue on the pies is epic.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

20 Days of Backstory: Day 16

Hi, friends,

In the spirit of Wayne Kovok, the fact-loving protagonist of my new novel, MAYDAY, I'm sharing facts about the story. 



BACKSTORY FACT 16


In one scene, a Blue Jay lands on a mouse trap with tragic consequences. That happened in my backyard right before I was getting ready to go to the American Library Association Meeting three years ago. I cried. It was really awful. 

--

Want to know more about my writing process? Check out this interview I did with Kidliterati blogger and author of COUNTING THYME, Melanie Conklin.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

20 Days of Backstory: Day 15

Hi, friends,

In the spirit of Wayne Kovok, the fact-loving protagonist of my new novel, MAYDAY, I'm sharing facts about the story. 

MAYDAY is a story about friendship, fathers and sons, and the importance of finding one's voice. 




BACKSTORY FACT 15


During the first round of edits, my editor remarked that she was “obsessed” with the last line of the novel. I wrote that final line early in the drafting process because author John Irving said he often begins a novel by knowing the last line. I challenged myself to do that. I think it worked. 

See Irving's comments on this idea in "Forward Thinking, Writing Backwards." 


Monday, May 30, 2016

20 Days of Backstory: Day 14

Hi, friends,

In the spirit of Wayne Kovok, the fact-loving protagonist of my new novel, MAYDAY, I'm sharing facts about the story. (You might remember 
Wayne from his small role in COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS.) 

MAYDAY is a story about friendship, fathers and sons, and the importance of finding one's voice. 




BACKSTORY FACT 14


Like Wayne, my family has a long, proud history of service.

My brother, Robert Harrington, when he was in the Marines.

My Dad used to talk about our family service a lot. My favorite story too place in 1941. When he was seven, the family sat around one December morning in Stoneham, Massachusetts, listening to the radio. His aunt told him, "Bobby, go run and get your uncle and tell him this. The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor." 

My father ran to the back of the house where his uncle was cutting wood. He gave him the message. His uncle grabbed his tools and ran to the house. He put on his National Guard uniform and went to his post. Soon after, he was inducted into the regular army and was in charge of troop movements in and out of Boston. By 1945, he'd risen to the rank of full colonel, leading his troops in Germany. 

My dad also introduced me to the historical novel APRIL MORNING by Howard Fast when I was in middle school. There are several valiant characters with the last name Harrington in this story. As a kid, that story AND seeing the name Harrington inside a book made a big impression on me.

I chose the photo below to use on my dedication page, where I dedicate the novel to all the men and women who've served in our country, past and present. Take note of the flagpole in the background. It came from the mast of a great ship. My Dad said he remembers his father telling him it came from the navy ship, The U.S.S. Constitution, nicknamed "Old Ironsides." 

My dad and grandfather in 1945.



Saturday, May 28, 2016

20 Days of Backstory: Day 13

Hi, friends,

In the spirit of Wayne Kovok, the fact-loving protagonist of my new novel, MAYDAY, I'm sharing facts about the story. 


BACKSTORY FACT 13


I watched this neighborhood kid sprint to the bus every morning for a year. Each day, he barely made it on time. I rooted for him. I thought, he must be doing this on purpose. It seemed like this was something Wayne Kovok would do, too. It gave me the idea to include running as a theme in MAYDAY. 

Check out my interview in BOOKPAGE magazine here for more backstory.


Friday, May 27, 2016

20 Days of Backstory: Day 12

Hi, friends,

In the spirit of Wayne Kovok, the fact-loving protagonist of my new novel, MAYDAY, I'm sharing facts about the story. 


BACKSTORY FACT 12

After the crash in MAYDAY, Wayne naturally sees airplanes in a new light. He's even more aware that real people are flying miles above the earth at all times. He lays down in his yard and ferries planes in his hands as they pass over his airspace. 

I did that. 

It takes 28-30 seconds for them to pass over my house. Sometimes I made up small stories about the people in the planes.

The view from my backyard



--

Praise for Mayday:

"A fine character-driven tale that slowly grows to a crescendo of satisfaction."
Kirkus Reviews


"Wayne is an appealing protagonist with a strong voice who develops believably over the difficult months, as do the other characters. A well-done book on all levels."―Publishers Weekly


"The main characters are well depicted and highly appealing.... Thought provoking and touching, Mayday applies to anyone who has ever felt like an outcast and wishes to become someone with a sense of pride."
VOYA

"Wayne's is an authentic, funny, and sometimes sarcastic teen voice, which comes through clearly, even when he can't speak out loud.... in this sweet tale of survival, heroism, and the search for strength."
School Library Journal