A Black Belt’s Guide to Writing: The Eyes Must See All Sides

Yvonne Ventresca Author Photo (1)Here at Nerdy Chicks Rule we celebrate strong women so it is our privilege to welcome author Yvonne Ventresca to the blog. Yvonne, who holds a third degree black belt in Isshinryu karate, shares how a martial arts principle can apply to writing. Hope you all enjoy A Black Belt’s Guide to Writing by Yvonne Ventresca.

 As both a young adult novelist and a third degree black belt, I love to look for the overlap between the martial arts and creativity. Part of the philosophy of Isshinryu karate is represented in the eight codes called the Kenpo Gokui. “The eyes must see all sides” is one of those codes which can be applied in multiple ways to writing.

See the Scene from a Secondary Character’s POV: 

 In a self-defense situation, it’s obvious why we’d want to be acutely aware of our surroundings. But there’s a philosophical application to “the eyes must see all sides” as well. During a conflict, it’s helpful to consider the other person’s viewpoint. In writing, if we narrate a scene from a single character’s POV, we should still take into account the other characters’ perspectives. After all, each person is the main character in his/her own world.

In a tense scene between our main character and her boyfriend, for example, the boyfriend brings his own background and emotions to an argument. What is the boyfriend’s goal in the story? What’s at stake for him? This can change his response and reaction.

See from a Fresh Perspective

 When we think about seeing all sides, that can also refer to the potential readers’ Gaiman quoteperspective. We don’t want to stunt our creativity worrying about this in early drafts. But during revision, a fresh set of eyes are key. Working with a critique group or critique partner is an opportunity to see our story from another viewpoint. It’s also helpful to take time between revisions. Neil Gaiman said, “The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes . . . When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before.”

 See the Big Picture of a Story

 When it comes time to revise, it’s beneficial to look at a story overall. For a picture boPandemic_cover_with_seal SMALLERok, this might mean making a dummy. Author Tara Lazar has a helpful post with information about how to create one.

For novels, we can create a reverse outline. Basically this involves writing an outline based on what we’ve actually written (as opposed to what we planned to write.) It can be a simple table, instead of a traditional outline format, noting the characters, events, and timing of each chapter. Or it can focus on specific areas we want to concentrate on during the revision. (I provide an example in my summer school post from last year.)

Another idea to try is Darcy Pattison’s shrunken manuscript technique. She provides more information on her website, but basically the concept is to print the novel on as few pages as possible (she suggests thirty) so that it can be spread across the floor. This provides an overall perspective we don’t get from a thick pile of paper.

See the Finer Details

 BlackFlowersWhiteLies_coverIn the martial arts, when you’re blocking a punch, specifics like posture, stance, the angle of your arm, and its distance from your body are all important. Little changes can have a large effect. This is similar to writing and word choice. The thesaurus provides several options for “walk,” but there’s a big difference between a stroll, a march, and a hike. Another way to “see” a manuscript (once the big picture changes are made) is to focus on each word. Precise language (and grammar) can elevate a story. One way to achieve this detailed view is to read the manuscript aloud. I always find this to be painful but enlightening.

See the Gap as Inspiration

There is often a gap between our own skill level and
the skill of those we admire. It’s always a humbling experience for me to watch someone masterful perform a kata (a predetermined sequence of moves) that I’ve been practicing. The same goes for reading an excellent story. Ira Glass has a great quote about not being frustrated by the gap – there is a one-minute video of his full quote here. Overall, we can use the disparity between the book that we respect and the one that we’re writing as an incentive to improve.

Yvonne Ventresca is the author of Black Flowers, White Lies, a YA psychological thriller coming in October. Her debut YA novel, Pandemic, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and will be available in paperback later this month. Yvonne has been both writing and studying the martial arts for over a decade. She was recently promoted to third degree black belt in Isshinryu karate.

To connect with Yvonne:

Newsletter | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Buy links:

Indiebound | Amazon | B&N

Bonus: An inspirational quote selected by Yvonne! And if you’re a writer and haven’t signed up for Kidlit Summer School yet, check out the details HERE.

Mind the Gap

 

Dear Diary

Cassie-Parker_final-cover-677x1024I recently revisited my old diaries when fellow author Terra Elan McVoy approached me about participating in a diary share campaign she is organizing to launch her new book, This Is  All Your Fault, Cassie Parker, which is out TODAY. To promote the campaign, Terra gathered diary pages from several authors, including me. If you follow the hashtags #diarydare and #yourfaultCassie on Twitter and Instagram, you can check out some of our old diary entries!

You can also join in the fun for a chance to win a prize by sharing pages from your own diary! A link to details appears at the end of this post.

Most of you know that my own books, The Boy Project and The Boy Problem were influenced by my old school diaries. Reading through my diaries reconnected me with the feelings I had as a tween and teen. To me, this is the most important thing about diaries. They are perhaps the only place where we can be completely free with our feelings.  And this connection to feelings is what makes books written in diary formats so appealing to young readers.

I wrote an article about this very thing a while ago for The 4:00 Book Hook, a wonderful newsletter for book lovers that is no longer in print, so I thought I’d share that article here today in celebration of It’s All Your Fault Cassie Parker and diary keepers everywhere!

DEAR DIARY

diary-of-a-worm-cover-imageA diary is a safe place where we can share our most secret feelings. True? Of course! It is what makes diary format books so appealing to young readers. These books employ first person narrators who share feelings with their diaries, and thus their readers, that they don’t share with anyone else. This creates a sense of kinship between reader and narrator that is almost immediate. Adults searching for a way to talk about feelings with the children they care about might find a diary format book a doorway into conversation. Talking about feelings presented through the eyes of a narrator can launch discussion about a child’s own feelings.
One of my favorite books for very young readers is Diary of a Worm, a picture book by Doreen Cronin. Cronin’s simple text consists mostly of one sentence entries, but Worm communicates his feelings about friends and family very effectively. He touches on familiar subjects like nightmares, being laughed at by peers, and getting in trouble with parents: all things that evoke strong feelings for kindergarten aged children and younger. What a great book to use to start a discussion about the feelings these children experience almost daily!

amelias-notebookElementary school readers might enjoy Amelia’s Notebook by Marissa Moss. Amelia expresses some very strong feelings about having to move to a new state– she hates it – on the very first page. Through colorful drawings as well as her words, Amelia addresses the pain of leaving a home and a best friend behind and the struggles of finding a new friend. Children will be able to relate to and talk about Amelia’s feelings of being out of place and on the outside of things even if they haven’t experienced moving.

diary of a wimpy KidA common theme in diary format books geared for the middle grade audience is social awkwardness. This is true of the wildly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. Through narrator Greg Heffley, Kinney captures some of middle school’s most awkward moments. Spring boarding a discussion with this comical book would be a non-threatening way to discuss fitting in and decision making with middle school aged children.

Cathy's BookThe hardest feelings to discuss with our children are those they experience when they enter young adulthood. YA books written in the diary format often deal with angst regarding social pressures, sexual curiosity, and drug usage. In Cathy’s Book by Sean Stewart, Jordan Weisman, and Cathy Briggs, Cathy wakes up to find a needle track in her arm. She can’t remember much about the previous night, and is forced to wonder if she’s been drugged and taken advantage of by her ex-boyfriend. Because her parents are virtually absent, Cathy must struggle with her feelings alone.

The children in our lives don’t have to struggle with feelings alone. There are many wonderful diary format books on the market today. Share one with your favorite reader and discuss.

And writers out there… as a writing exercise, try letting your characters write in their diaries, whether you use it in your book or not, it is a great way to get in touch with your characters’ feelings.

Don’t forget to check out and participate in Terra’s #diarydare campaign. Click HERE for details!

March into Writing

So the year started off for me with some type of flu that took me down for almost four

becblowingrockwin03052016

Rebecca shows how we felt at the end of the retreat: Ready to take on anything. (But she was the only one of us brave enough to climb up to the edge.)

weeks. There went January! Needless to say, I spent February trying to make up for lost time. So when March rolled in, I was ready for work, inspiration, and motivation. And I got it with three awesome writing related events scheduled back to back for the first three weekends of the month. There were many awesome takeaways from each one, but I’ve picked just a few to share that can be applied both writing and life.

mountaingroup03052016

With nerdy chicks Rebecca Petruck, Jocelyn Rish and Kathleen Fox.

First Weekend in March: Writing Retreat in the NC Mountains with these brilliant ladies. We laughed, we talked, we wrote, and most importantly, we brainstormed a ton of ideas. I learned that one of mine wasn’t really worth pursuing. This is actually very valuable to a writer, and anyone else with more ideas than time to execute them all. Thankfully, I also learned which of my other ideas I should throw my time into. Takeaway: There’s nothing like the collective brain!

Second Weekend in March: SCBWI Southern Breeze Spring Mingle March marks the wonderful Spring Mingle Conference held yearly in Decatur, Georgia. It’s a great event with a great faculty and plenty of hospitality. One of the speakers was agent Tracey Adams, whose talk about the publishing business was insightful. She reminded us that writing requires both patience and the ability to shake off rejections. Takeaway: ONWARD!

MG mafia

Attempting to infiltrate the MG Mafia at the post-conference reception.

This year, in addition to the usual fantastic camaraderie, I was surprised with the honor of being asked to fill in for one of Sunday’s keynote speakers. When writing the speech, I spent some time thinking about the thing that has helped me most as an author, and how to express that to an audience of fellow writers. I challenged them to do what I do when I start a new project, so I gave them this takeaway: Keep Nudging Your Brain into New Territory.

GA book festival

Sharing our books with librarians!

Third Weekend in March: For the first time I headed to the Georgia Book Awards

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With college friend Lisa at The Grill.

Conference in Athens Georgia. Since I received my undergraduate degree from UGA, it was wonderful to be back in Athens for the first time in many years. The city is as gorgeous as ever, and still full of vibrant, interesting places. It gave me the rare chance to hang out with new friends I’ve made in the past year, AND to get together with a college roommate I haven’t seen in over a decade. Take Away: Life is good when you can laugh with new friends at dinner and old friends at lunch! 

Now, full of ideas and inspiration, I’m looking forward to a very productive April. Here’s hoping you all are too!

 

 

 

Spooky Picks for Nerdy Chicks

If you know me, you might know that I am the kind of person who doesn’t like to be scared. I have never seen a horror movie in my life, and I have no plans to change that! I’ve never read a Stephen King novel, and I don’t plan to change that either. I just don’t do scary. Unless…. well, unless the scary something is created by a fellow Nerdy Chick. Then I push myself to read things I might not otherwise read. Out of solidarity, you know.

A recent wave of Spooky Nerdy Chick News (giveaways, deals, new book news, film premiers…) inspired me to share some Spooky Reads (and more) from some fabulous Nerdy Chick authors. I’ve read or am reading all of these books! So I suggest that the next time you want to sit on the edge of your seat, you pick up one of them. And make sure you read to the end, because you’ll have a chance to see a film that is perfect for Halloween right here on the blog.

Young Adult:

fractrFracture by Megan Miranda! Fracture is suspenseful with just the right amount of creepiness. Here’s a brief intro to the novel: “By the time Delaney Maxwell was pulled from a Maine lake’s icy waters by her best friend, Decker Phillips, her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead.” You can visit Megan’s website to learn more and to read the first two chapters! Also, don’t miss a chance to win a free ARC of Megan’s newest title, The Safest Lies. Click HERE to enter.

ripperRipper by Amy Carol Reeves! I blurbed this book as, “Thrilling, chilling, and beautifully written.” Here’s more about it: Set in London in 1888, Ripper follow’s Arabella Sharp’s eerie account of volunteering at Whitechapel Hospital, helping women and children. “Within days, female patients begin turning up brutally murdered at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Even more horrifying, Abbie starts having strange visions that lead her straight to the Ripper’s next massacres.” Click HERE to read more about Ripper and its sequels.

Middle Grade:

jumbiesThe Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste! I just finished reading this story set in Trinidad and featuring Jumbies, mythical creatures that dwell on that island! And it features a super-brave heroine! Here’s a blurb: Corinne La Mer knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they? 

cabinetCabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet: I’m currently reading this page-turner, which is available for a limited time in ebook form (Kindle and Nook among others) for $1.99! It’s about twelve-year-old Maya who is miserable when she has to move from California to Paris. Not speaking French at a school full of snobby French girls is bad enough, but Maya believes there is something sinister going on in her new city. A purple-eyed man follows Maya and her younger brother, James. Statues seem to have Maya’s face. And an eerie cabinet filled with mysterious colored bottles calls to her. 

Picture Books:

Hampire_jacketHampire by Sudipta Bardhan Quallen! When Hampire creeps around the barnyard at night with red oozing from his fangs he terrifies the other animals, especially Duck. Check out this picture book with not only a kid-pleasing twist, but also the best illustrations of terrified barnyard animals every created. And if you have a little pirate running around your house this Halloween (and even if you don’t), you’ll want to check out Sudipta’s Pirate Princess too!

monstore The Monstore by Tara Lazar! What kid doesn’t dream of having his own monster? The Monstore is the place to go to get one. The only problem is…. certain rule and restrictions apply. So getting his own monster doesn’t work out the way exactly like Zack plans….  Check out this book and Tara’s brand spanking new just-released-this-week book Little Red Gliding Hood!

vampirina_ballerinaVampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace! Vampirina wants to take ballet lessons, but what’s a little vampire to do when she can’t step into sunlight or see herself in the dance studio mirrors? Check out this book as well Vampirina Hosts a Sleepover. Vampirina fans will be happy to know that Ann Marie just announced that a third Vampirina book is in the works!

MORE SPOOKY NEWS:

Nerdy Chick Jocelyn Rish is made of steel. She’s not afraid of facing scary subjects in books or on film. HH&H_poster_Jocelyn has recently joined the MTV news staff (Congrats Jocelyn!) and has written these two articles about these spectacularly spooky subjects: Goosebumps and Zombies! And, High Heels and Hoodoo, the short film she produced with her brother is premiering today! Today is the first time the film is available for the public to watch online. Click HERE for details about the creation of this film and to watch it for free! I saw this  film for the first time at the Beaufort Film Festival and it is clever, entertaining, and spooky! What’s not to like about a graveyard and hoodoo film on Halloween?

Here’s a brief synopsis of the film: A greedy party girl is so determined to get what she wants that she employs the dangerous magic of a Gullah root doctor.

Can’t wait to see this amazing film? Go ahead, you can start watching right now! It’s a full story in about seven minutes, so treat yourself to a movie premier this Halloween!

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Kristine Asselin: Stretch Your Writing Muscles

IMG_8233-2-2 (1)“What do you write?”

It’s often the first question people ask when you meet them at a writer’s conference. I find that most people can boil their answer down into one or two categories.

I always struggle to keep my answer concise, because I write in more than one category. YA, MG, Nonfiction, and the occasional picture book. Being flexible in my writing style has been a key reason for some of the success I’ve had.

One piece of advice I always give new writers is to try to write in more than one category. Stretching yourself and having flexibility is often the difference between being a writer and being a published author.

When I started writing seriously about ten years ago, I was all about picture books. My daughter was small and it seemed manageable. Write a novel? No flipping way could I ever do THAT. Are you kidding?

But then I wrote a short story loosely based on my own experience as a teen. I had a longer story that demanded to be told. Hazzah! It was like a bright light suddenly illuminated my writing!

I became a YA writer.

Selling my YA novel turned into marathon. I never gave up on it, but in between querying and revising and writing a new novel, I submitted a writing sample to an educational publisher and got my first work-for-hire contract for a nonfiction book.

That first contract gave me my first experience working with an editor and meeting writing deadlines. Having those first few books under my belt made me more marketable to my agent.

Writing and researching nonfiction topics under a tight deadline gave me a different skill set. It made me work faster. It made me stress less about each and every word choice.

I hear a lot of people throw around this cliché piece of writing advice: Write what you know.

Final CoverBut I think you need to have a broader scope—IF you want to have a long career in writing. Trends come and go. You need to be open to writing what you don’t know. I didn’t know much about women in World War One, but I just finished a 15K nonfiction book for grades 6-8 about that topic. If I’d stayed true to “write what you know,” I would have been too nervous to take the project.

I didn’t know much about hockey. But my debut novel centers on a girl who plays hockey on a boys’ hockey team to the chagrin of her parents, who’d rather her focus on the family restaurant. Finding a friend to help with hockey knowledge, and doing a lot of research helped me make the voice authentic.

Here are a couple of writing exercises:

  1. Try writing a scene in a different genre—if you write contemporary, try writing something historical.
  2. Try writing something for a different age group—if you write YA, try writing a picture book.
  3. Try writing in a genre you’ve never tried.
  4. Try rewriting a scene in your current MS from different POV.

Trying even one of these writing exercises will make you a stronger writer, and who knows, you might find out that you’re really good at something you’ve never considered.

I’ve been doing a workout DVD lately, and the instructor likes to say, “it doesn’t get easier, you just get better.”

Challenging yourself to write in different categories and genres will make you better.

About Kristine

Kristine Carlson Asselin lives in Massachusetts and writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. Her debut YA novel ANY WAY YOU SLICE IT (Bloomsbury Spark) came out in April 2015. She is also the author of fifteen children’s books for the elementary school library market. Kris volunteers with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, and loves Harry Potter, Doctor Who, classic rock from the 70’s and 80’s, and anything with a time travel theme.

She is a proud member of SCBWI-New England, a contributor to the Sporty Girl Books blog, and a host for the weekly twitter chat #MGLitChat. Kris does query package critiques under the alter-ego @QueryGodMother and loves doing school visits for kids all over New England. Follow Kristine on twitter @KristineAsselin and learn more at http://www.kristineasselin.com.

Buy Any Way You Slice It here:

Kindle

Nook

Kobo

SCBWI Springmingle 2015: Top Five Reasons You Should Go to Conferences

The Nerdy Chicks are members of The Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and one of the benefits of being in this organization is getting to attend great conferences on craft. Last weekend I attended Springmingle, a conference hosted by the Southern Breeze chapter of SCBWI. It is the first time I’ve been to this particular event, and it was fabulous! I think conferences are an important aspect in the life of any professional. Why? Here are my top five reasons you should consider going to conferences, whatever your profession:

20150314_2152391. Rejuvenation.  Getting away from your obligations at home and finding time to focus on your career brings new energy to your work! I left this conference with tons of ideas I never would have come up with had I spent the weekend alone in my office. Here I am with my pal Robyn Hood Black.

2015-03-15 21.33.402. Expert Advice. A great conference has great speakers and this one had a wonderful panel of experts. Tips from these fabulous faculty members follow.

20150314_0908543. Inspiration. Having people who excel in their careers share their stories is inspiring. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more inspirational speaker than author Meg Medina, pictured left, whose marketing talk has me rethinking my forward path.

2015-03-17 08.36.314. Connections. Making new friends among your colleagues is a consistent conference perk. Sometimes you make a connection with an industry professional that leads to a career advancement, but this should not be your sole purpose in attending an event. Usually the benefit of going to conferences is going to have a less direct impact, but a positive one nonetheless! I was thrilled to meet my Facebook freind Jen Swanson, pictured with me here, in person.

CAGfwexWgAARWAF5. FUN! Nothing is more energizing than having a chance to hang out with your tribe. These people choose to do what you do. They love what you love. In my case, this means they spend their days with words, books, and the creative spirit. And hey, when you get a bunch of creative spirits together, you’re bound to have a blast. We had fun Saturday night with a literary trivia game hosted by The Middle Grade Mafia. Members Kim Zachman and Lela Bridgers are pictured here with agent Karen Grencik. 

Some bits of conference wisdom:

Thank you Southern Breeze for including me in your tribe, and helping me celebrate the launch of The Boy Problem!

Thank you Southern Breeze for including me in your tribe, and helping me celebrate the launch of The Boy Problem!

Author Meg Medina reminded us not to edit ourselves too early, to focus on craft before marketing, and that the “most touching place you can travel is inside of you.”

Editor Neal Porter says he asks “WHERE’S THE STORY?” of all PB manuscripts.

Art Director Giuseppe Castellano said that illustrators should keep sending post cards featuring their art, but not to expect a response because he gets so many. Still, he never knows when one will really move him. He was, by the way, the most gregarious industry professional I’ve ever seen at a conference.

Agent Karen Grencik advised everyone to, “Practice your skill and get your work out there.”

Editor Elise Howard highlighted the differences between big publishing houses and small ones. She said she’d love to find a funny novel to fall in love with.

Art director Giuseppe Castellano, pictured here with poet Robyn Hood Black, hung out with attendees, answering questions and chatting well after the scheduled events ended!

Art director Giuseppe Castellano, pictured here with poet Robyn Hood Black, hung out with attendees, answering questions and chatting well after the scheduled events ended!

I always think it is valuable to know what these professionals do NOT want to see as well. So don’t send…

Karen Grencik a mass email query.

Giuseppe Castellano an email with a claim such as, “Your search for the perfect illustrator is over!”

Elise Howard a note telling her what moral or lesson your story holds. Also, spell her name right.

Neal Porter an email addressed to Mrs. Neal Porter! The panel agreed that incorrect spellings of names like these reveals that you don’t pay attention to detail, and are therefore not someone they would want to work with.

Springmingle was a great event with a fabulous faculty and put together by a host of talented volunteers from the Southern Breeze chapter of SCBWI. Another perk of the conference was that it was held in the Decatur Library and their wonderful staff could not have been more helpful and professional. If any of you are considering going to conferences, I advise you to take the plunge!

Searching for Silverheels (and fellow Nerdy Chicks)

SilverheelsCoverSCBWIWe feel lucky to offer a guest post today by Jeannie Mobley, college professor, author, and nerdy chick! Check out what Jeannie has to say about her nerdy writing journey and her newest novel. 

When I first saw the Nerdy Chicks banner, defining  a Nerdy Chick as “Smart girl who flaunts brain power and flouts social norms,” I knew I had found my tribe. Because my new novel, Searching for Silverheels, is all about an old woman who does exactly those things, and a young girl who is just learning how. And it’s who I’ve always been–the girl who thought that not-very-girly sciencey stuff was totally cool. Who has been known to go all goosebumpy excited over complex analytical statistics.

But when I was a kid, it wasn’t always so easy to go public with my love of cool nerdiness. I went through all the awkward nerdy phases before I found my tribe:

–the grade school years when I thought wanting to be an archaeologist was the coolest thing ever, and couldn’t understand why other kids rolled their eyes.

–the middle school years, when I discovered already knowing you wanted to be an archaeologist got you branded as a freak of nature and therefore it was best to suppress, or at least hide, such crazy compulsions

–the high school years, when I discovered picking  a college based on the strength of its academic programs was not the norm among my classmates, who preferred to check their Party School ratings in such upstanding journals as Playboy.

So, when, with a PhD and a college professorship under my belt, I set out to write a novel about strong, smart women, I didn’t have to do much research about how to write a smart young girl with big dreams but not enough backbone to stand up for herself. Because, I’m sorry to say, I’ve been there.

Nor did it take much for me to write the cranky-pants older woman who wants to fight for all the nerdy chick girls who need to grow that spine. I’ve been there too–in fact, I’ve got a whole closet full of crankypants even as I write this.

What did take some research, was finding the perfect setting. Which turned out to be 1917, just a few months after the US entered World War I. It was the perfect time, because I knew I wanted to write about a time when women weren’t thought of as strong, but did amazingly strong things. Any war time is good for that, but World War I coincided–or perhaps more accurately–collided, with the women’s suffrage movement.

Harris and Ewing Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (neg. no. LC-H261-8200)

Harris and Ewing Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (neg. no. LC-H261-8200)

This led me to researching both the war and the fight for a constitutional amendment granting women the vote. I didn’t know much about World War I, it seems to be the forgotten war for US history, or at least in my understanding of it. Yet the more I read about the home front in the Great War –the discrimination, the accusations of sedition against those who found fault in American politics, the pressure to conform to patriotic ideals that compromised freedoms–I came to appreciate how true it is that history repeats itself. How much every war, every international conflict, brings out those same issues. How much we need strong women in EVERY generation. And finally, now many unsung strong women there have been in every generation.

So let’s hear it for the Nerdy Chicks! Three cheers for brain power! Three boos for social norms that stop women (or anyone else, for that matter) from being all they can be! And thank heavens for the bold women who stand up for girls, either on the national stage (like the National Women’s Party that suffered harassment and arrest for challenging the president in 1917) or on the local stage, like my character Josie, the women’s suffragist  who takes a powerless girl under her wing and teaches her that she has power within her that she shouldn’t be afraid to use.

Because you do have power inside you, Nerdy Chicks of the world. And it is beautiful, so let it shine!

Thank you Jeannie! And welcome to the Nerdy Chick tribe! 😉  Keep reading to find out more about Jeannie and her novel. 

 

small pond (1)Jeannie Mobley writes middle grade historical fiction. Her newest novel, SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS released September 2, 2014. Kirkus Reviews calls it “an engrossing, plausible story of several unlikely feminist heroines, with a touch of romance and intrigue.”

When not writing or reading fiction, Jeannie is a mother, wife, lover of critters, and an anthropology professor at Front Range Community College, where she teaches a variety of classes on cultures past and present.

 

Searching for Silverheels  by Jeannie Mobley

SilverheelsCoverSCBWIIn her small Colorado town Pearl spends the summers helping her mother run the family café and entertaining tourists with the legend of Silverheels, a beautiful dancer who nursed miners through a smallpox epidemic in 1861 and then mysteriously disappeared. According to lore, the miners loved her so much they named their mountain after her.

Pearl believes the tale is true, but she is mocked by her neighbor, Josie, a suffragette campaigning for women’s right to vote. Josie says that Silverheels was a crook, not a savior, and she challenges Pearl to a bet: prove that Silverheels was the kindhearted angel of legend, or help Josie pass out the suffragist pamphlets that Pearl thinks drive away the tourists. Not to mention driving away handsome George Crawford.

As Pearl looks for the truth, darker forces are at work in her small town. The United States’s entry into World War I casts suspicion on German immigrants, and also on anyone who criticizes the president during wartime—including Josie. How do you choose what’s right when it could cost you everything you have?