Monday, July 14, 2014

#virtualbookclub = spindiddly

Hello friends!

Apparently, the swanky folks of the #virtualbookclub on Twitter have made A Snicker of Magic one of their book club selections this month! HOORAY!

If you'd like to be involved in the conversation, hop over on The Twitter and check out the #virtualbookclub hashtag at 9PM - EST tonight.

Sadly, I have to miss out, as I'm currently banished to The Land of No Internet. This summer, I'm hiding out in quiet places, digging deep inside my heart, and working on my second novel. I'm super excited about it, and I can't wait to talk more about the new characters who've moved into my brain space.

Since Biscuit and I are in the edit trenches, I decided to pre-set this post to publish on Monday, July 14th to say THANK YOU.

Thank you so, so much for reading Snicker and taking the time to discuss it!

I also thought it might be fun to share the answers to some of the questions I get asked about the story. I've sent this list to the lovely Niki Ohs Barnes and Beth Shaum as well, in case they want to tweet any of it tonight.  If you'd rather not read these, that is totally understandable! I know some people prefer a reading experience without ever knowing what's happening behind the fluttery curtain.

If you're interested in what inspired the book, how characters came to fruition, how I came up with the words, what it's like working with an editor, how it felt to be published, and where the heck __________ disappeared to?!** ... keep reading.

** There are spoilers ahead. So if you haven't read the story yet, and you are firmly anti-spoiler, maybe go watch this sweet baby otter instead of reading the rest of this post.

I'm so bummed that I can't participate in tonight's chat. I'm pretty surprised, and totally delighted, that #virtualbookclub would choose to discuss Snicker. Thank you for bringing your heart to the story. Thank you for reading it so thoughtfully.

Here's how I took some of my favorite things:

ice cream
bluegrass music
a curse
an inky bird
a quirky family
a possible witch's curse ...
.... and a snicker of magic ...

and patched them,
and stitched them,
into one sugar-dusted story.

I hope you enjoyed your time in Midnight Gulch. I hope you never forget that your words are magical things. And, well, I hope. That's it, really. For you, and for me, I think hope is always there, always fluttering at the edges of the stories we get to live and write. Good magic, that. :)

Have a most spindiddly Summer!

Love (& Blackberry Sunrise),

(aka: Answers to Sometimes-Sort-of Frequently Asked Questions)

*   One of the early inspirations for ASoM was an Avett Brothers concert.

*   When the lights dimmed, and the music hit the air, I felt insta-chills ripple up and down my arms. People were dancing together, having an amazing time. Strangers who came from different backgrounds, and believed different things, all came together because of music. I told my brother it was more like a magic show than a concert.

*   The Avett Bros music helped me find my way through the story. Their music helps me find my way every time I write. I like the roughed up beauty of their songs.

*   The idea of word collecting came from a Beatles song. Theres a line in Across the Universe about words slithering and slipping through the atmosphere. I love that image. I started thinking about the words I might see over my friends, my dog, a summer sunset, a storm

*   While I was editing the book, I realized I actually wrote ASoM because I was homesick for people I love, and miss. Particularly, my grandparents. 

*   My grandfather played a guitar and a banjo. When my brother plays those instruments now, its never just music I hear. I picture sunlight. Summer days. Cowboy boots tapping the porch. Something about music turns the memories loose inside me.

*   One of my grandmothers was a quilter, and she also had a knack for bringing people together. Thats where I got the idea for Cleos words: Patch it, Mend it, Stitch it back together.

*   My other grandmother (I called her Granny) loved poetry. She gave me a book of poems with notes in the margins about why she liked them. I remember thinking it was as if shed pressed memories in the book for me to find.

*   I had a great time with the wordplay in ASoM. Sometimes I would go on a search for interesting, odd, funky, fun words. Sometimes I was drawn to words simply because I like the sound.

*   Smashing words together to make up new words was fun, too. I dont collect words the same way Felicity Pickle does, but I treasure them.

*   I cant see words floating above peoples heads. But since ASoM has been published, Ive heard from readers who have similar abilities. One reader told me that every word she reads has a flavor.

*   I wasnt consciously thinking of Synesthesia when I wrote from Felicitys perspective, but I certainly think she could have that.

*   I watched a documentary about a man who had a form of Synesthesia that gave every musical note a color. Thats where I got the idea for Boones similar ability.

*   Dreaming up characters is one of my favorite parts of writing. I think there are definitely elements of people I know in the characters. Cleo is very much like my granny.

*   Biscuit is the name of my dog. I knew I would stick with the story if I could imagine Biscuit running through the scenes. Plus, I love animals. I wanted Felicity and Frannie to have a sweet dog. Here's Biscuit the Task Master, making sure I'm working on edits: 

*   Initially, I didnt think I would write a sequel for ASoM. But I might peak back in on Midnight Gulch someday.

*   Coming up with ice cream flavors was another fun part. Definitely the most fun Ive ever had with research. Ha!

*   Readers often want to know what happened to Felicitys dad. A reader can imagine this any way they want, but I think Roger Pickle was having some personal struggles. He thought he needed to work out those issues alone, so he wouldnt burden his family. Thats the wrong decision, of course. But thats the decision he made.

*   A thoughtful reader in Holly Muellers (@MuellerHolly) class asked if I thought Felicity would have forgiven her father, if he had come back. I think she definitely would have, yes.

*   Even though Felicitys happy ending wasnt perfect, I think shes in a good place. Families can look so many different ways. Felicitys family might look different; but theyre loving and supportive and theyre giving her a safe place to bloom up bright and fine.

*   Meeting young readers is one of my absolute favorite parts of writing. Im so impressed by their questions. Teachers and parents are doing an amazing job of giving students a safe space to share their heart through words. This is a beautiful poem I received from a talented young reader named Julie: 

*   A student in David Muellers (@MrMuellerTeach) school told me that she drew Oliver's bird on her wrist for a spelling bee, because it made her feel brave.

*   Another reader in Davids school told me ASoM gave her confidence. That makes me SO happy! 

*   After brainstorming Beedle ideas, Greg Armamentoss (@dashthebook) students organized a yard sale to raise money for charity. Here's a picture of a fun piece of word-art they made for me: 

*   Ive heard stories of Beedles in several classrooms - leaving kind notes and suckers on desks, and donating books to the class library.

*   Im not surprised young readers connected to the Beedle. I think kids have a magical mix of imagination and kindness swirling around inside them. But I am thrilled! I cant take any credit for the Beedling though. Thats all them. 

*   My editor is Mallory Kass (@Mal_a_la_tete) at Scholastic. Working with her is been a dream. This is when she surprised me with the finished copy of my book at ALA this year! 

*   I once heard Richard Peck say that a good editor holds a flashlight while a writer digs for treasure. Mallory helped me find the heart of my story.

*   Even her edit letters - which are long and intense - always leave me feeling inspired. Im so lucky that I get to work with her.

*   I have jokingly said that my writing inspirations are Roald Dahl and Dolly Parton. But Im not really joking. I think Im drawn to the idea of writing rockabilly fairytales.

*   For as long as Ive been able to daydream, Ive wanted to be a writer.

*   Some of the books that made me a proud booknerd for life were: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Babysitters Club, Anne of Green Gables, & Roald Dahl & Judy Blume books. One of my Scholastic friends, Tracy, tweeted me this picture of Ann M. Martin holding Snicker. You better believe I cried buckets: 

*   My second novel is scheduled to come out in Fall 2015. A friend asked for a four word clue about Novel #2. I said: 

Hot Chocolate.


*   My favorite ice cream flavor is Blackberry Sunrise, which Beth Shaum made for me! This is from an event in Ohio when I finally got to meet Beth: 

*   Im still amazed anyone would take the time to read ASoM. And I feel so blessed that I get to spend so much time doing what I love. I wake up every day grateful. Thank you for giving the Pickles a home in your heart. Im honored to see Snicker as a #virtualbookclub pick!


  1. I had never really thought about the possibility of Felicity having Synesthesia, but that's so interesting. I'm a little fascinated with Synesthesia...I recently ordered a middle grade-ish book about it (I think it's called One + One = Blue?).

    I loved reading these behind the scenes bits! :)

  2. I'm so glad you brought up the idea of Felicity having synesthesia because I wondered if you had that in your mind when you were writing her character.