Once upon a time, two children’s book authors met in cyberspace and discovered they had much in common. As their friendship grew despite the 1,500 miles that separated them, so did a story idea for tweens.
In 2018, that story idea crystallized, and the two writers started working together to create a purr-fect tale of courage and kindness for tweens:
Shy Olivia just wants to do her best in 6th grade
and care for the animals on her family farm.
But the new girl at school
to turn that world
So Olivia pours out her heart
in a journal to the only one who truly understands …
Read on for my answers to four cool questions readers asked about my writing journey and new release, Just Between Sam and Me. Then scroll to the end and click over to co-writer Rosie Russell to find her answers to four different questions from our readers.
1. Were you inspired [to write] by your English teacher in High School?
– Peggy, Wisconsin
Mr. Nelson, my sixth-grade teacher at Tracy Elementary in Norwalk, Connecticut, was first to recognize my passion for music and writing.
My 7th-grade English instructor at West Rocks Middle School, Mrs. Martinson, was the one who truly encouraged my writing and taught me the elements of grammar and sentence construction. I remain grateful to both of them, and hope they know how much they’ve done for me.
2. Have you experienced tornadoes? They must be scary!
– Ariane, California
For sure! I dodged tornadoes travelling between rural schools as a resource teacher outside of Wichita, Kansas. I spent many spring evenings in my basement while tornado sirens wailed.
sHowever, it wasn’t until I moved to North Carolina that I experienced two tornadoes that claimed lives, touching down within miles of my house. I was alone both times, so I understand the terror that one of our characters feels when she faces a similar situation.
I also lived through Fran, a Category 3 hurricane that spawned tornadoes and toppled about two-dozen trees in our yard. Incredibly, those giant oaks missed hitting our home by inches. We were lucky they didn't crash through to the bedroom as we slept.
The trees also blocked our driveway, so we couldn’t drive our cars to get help until a neighbor with a bobcat arrived and pushed them aside.
Since we lived in the country then, we were also without well water and electricity for 10 days. It was absolute misery in late summer's heat, humidity and misquotes.
And yes (no spoilers), Rosie and I weave several of these stormy experiences into our tale.
3. What’s your favorite middle-grade book you read as a tween?
– Sue, Connecticut
I still smile remembering The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. A smart children's science fiction novel by English author Eleanor Cameron, this book enthralled me with its mix of adventure, fantasy and whimsy while featuring brave kids who take risks doing the right thing.
And my all-time fave middle grade read as an adult?
Hands down – JK’s tales!
4. You write realistically about Olivia’s horse, Star.
What experiences did you have with horses that helped you?
– Theresa, North Carolina
I knew enough to know I didn’t know enough!
I spent a weekend at a working horse farm in Southern Pines, North Carolina, to experience these animals up close and personal. I learned they are beautiful and BIG!
(Hey, take a photo walk through my equine weekend HERE.)
Rosie and I are grateful for the many equine insights shared by our very own Horse Whisperer, Judy Hart, who once raised horses in the Pacific Northwest. Judy's insights helped us write realistic equine scenes.
Sam and Friends
Just Between Sam and Me is making its way to young readers around the world. Best, Sam is sparking important convos between kids and parents about kindness and bullying.
Hey, see for yourself what the buzz is all about.
Click the video link below
to watch a preview of
Just Between Sam and Me.
to order your copy of
Just Between Sam and Me
from your favorite e-book retailer
in paperback from Amazon
Don't forget ...
before you go,
click over to meet Rosie Russell in Kansas City
for her reader questions
How have experiences from your childhood shaped your professional life? What other questions might you have for a children’s book author? What was your favorite book as a tween? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
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