All-Star Fun With Margo Dill and her Newest YA Release!

1655060_10202352586313888_1471055173_oI grew up with three brothers; I learned to play baseball so I wouldn’t be left out of the fun. And I’ve been having fun with baseball ever since! When friend and author, Margo Dill’s book came out, Caught Between Two Curses, I jumped on the chance to read a teen novel with baseball in the mix.

Even if it was the Cubs. (Come on, I’m kidding. Mostly.)

Margo’s having a fun promotion this week because it’s the All-Star break and all of the true baseball fans are missing our sport. (And do not try to tell me that the All-Star game counts. Everybody knows we only watch to see if the players picked from our favorite teams get in the game.)

Anyway, as part of the All-Star celebration, she’s hopping around to a couple of blogs, and I’m thrilled she landed here today! Take it away, Margo!

When I came up with the idea for Caught Between Two Curses, it didn’t occur to me that baseball in a book would not be a big draw. I mean, I grew up in a world of baseball—thanks to my dad and grandpa, and my mom, too, who likes sports. My daughter’s one-year-old birthday party turned into a World Series party because the Cardinals were playing (and winning!) game 7 that night. But I have read review after review, which I am very grateful for, with a line, such as: “I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book because I don’t like baseball much, but luckily, it’s not really about baseball.”

This is true—my plot is much more about a 17-year-old girl who is having boy trouble and being pressured to have sex, who is living with her aunt’s family after her parents’ death, and who is trying to figure out how to break a curse on her family. She doesn’t like baseball herself, but her uncle is crazy about it. The curse grabs ahold of him for the first time while he’s at a Chicago Cubs baseball game while he’s eating a bratwurst, and eventually, he falls into a coma.

But my point is do we really pick books or not pick them because of a subplot? Am I marketing my book wrong? Do people just see the cover with Wrigley Field on it and assume it’s a baseball book? This whole issue has me thinking. I read books with things I’m not interested in all the time, like one of Claire Cook’s books, Time Flies, has a main character, who is a successful metal sculptor. I don’t like or dislike metal sculptors, but I have no interest in this art form. I did enjoy the book because it’s not actually about metal sculpting—it’s about a middle-aged woman trying to find her way and having an adventure!

Take this a step further. . .I love to read murder mystery books—like the ones James Patterson wrote about Alex Cross, but I’m not interested in murder—as a matter of fact, I don’t like it at all. I loved Hunger Games, but I’m not interested in watching teenagers fight to their death. I don’t usually read reviews about these books, such as, “I knew this book was about a game where teenagers fought to their death so their families wouldn’t starve, and I’m not usually interested in this, but the book turned out to be more than just murder.”

meAm I making my point here?

I love baseball. I put baseball in my book. I have discovered that perhaps I am not in the majority with my love of baseball, and that’s okay. But before we judge a book by its cover (BIG CLICHÉ THERE, HUH?), maybe read what it’s actually about? I’m thankful many readers who don’t like baseball have given my book a chance and liked it, and I’m hopeful many more will, too.

Have you ever put something in a short story or a book and had a reaction like this? OR have you had a reaction like this to a book you’ve read?

Margo’s book, Caught Between Two Curses, is on sale this week thanks to baseball’s All-Star Game! You can find out all the details about the sale here, but basically, the e-book for KINDLE is on sale for 99 cents today (July 15), $1.99 (July 16-17), and $2.99 (July 18-19). An autographed copy of the print book is available for $5.00 off the cover price–$6.95. Thanks to All-Star week, she is also having a contest with a prize of one $25 gift card to one of 5 restaurants (Olive Garden, Starbucks, Panera Bread, Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s) (U.S. mailing addresses only please) and a 3000-word free edit (anywhere in the world, English-language only). Enter to win those prizes on the Rafflecopter form below—no purchase necessary! Check out more about Margo and her books here!

RAFFLECOPTER LINK: a Rafflecopter giveaway

(I have NO idea why I can’t get Rafflecopter to actually show up on my blog! But if you click on that link, it will take you to the giveaway and you can sign up for all the goodies! And perhaps, before the end of the promotion, I’ll get Margo to show me how to fix it. In the meantime, I hope you’ll get Margo’s book, Caught Between Two Curses.)

Now hurry, y’all, you don’t want to miss the fun! Because when the All-Star break is over, she’s OUT of here!

Five Questions for Margo L. Dill, Author of Finding My Place (And A Giveaway!)

Final Finding My Place CoverI’m SO excited to have Margo L. Dill joining me today! Her debut middle grade historical fiction, Finding My Place, has been out for a month or so and Margo is visiting blogs to share her story and her wonderful writing expertise. So I put five questions to her that I thought might be helpful to any and all writers out there, a little something for everyone! And P.S. You’ll want to read to the very end because Margo has something special for one lucky commenter!

 

1. Finding My Place is set in Vicksburg, Mississippi during the siege there in 1863, and honestly, I think the setting really makes this a unique Civil War story! I often wonder whether, when it comes to historical fiction, writers have an idea, then jump into the research? Or if a writer falls in love with a subject, then comes up with a story. So which came first for you, the history or the plot?

What came first for me was the history. I was teaching fifth grade social studies, when I read in the book, ONE PARAGRAPH about Vicksburg, Mississippi. It said how the citizens showed remarkable strength, lived in caves, and ate rats to keep from surrendering to the Yankees. I needed a novel idea because I was taking a correspondence course about writing for children, and so there was my idea!

 

2. Your heroine, Anna Green, has several siblings, but it’s her younger brother, James, who really tries her patience! How much of your own sibling relationships came into play in the story?

You are going to laugh at this—I am an only child. I have no idea what it’s like to have a sibling, but my husband has two younger siblings—a brother and then a sister. Whenever they are together, they talk all about the past and all the awful things they used to do to each other. Now, they love each other and are close—but back then, my husband is lucky that he has all of his limbs! Actually, my brother-in-law is the one that is lucky—one time my husband accidentally shot him in the leg with a bow and arrow!

 

3. I know this is totally geeky, but I love research notes as much as story, and you had some wonderful tidbits of information in your notes! What surprised you the most about life in Vicksburg during the war? And what made you say, “Ewwww. You’ve got to be kidding!”?

The substitutions that the Vicksburg citizens used so they wouldn’t surrender to the Blue Bellies were amazing to me. Instead of drinking coffee, they created coffee out of acorns! When they didn’t have any paper left, they printed their news on the back of wallpaper. They were creative and resourceful, and I love that spirit. As for gross—all the stuff I read about wounded soldiers and their treatments—gross—it is amazing anyone survived the Civil War. I couldn’t put a lot of that in my book since it’s middle-grade, but I do have some in there when Anna goes and works at an army hospital.

 

4. The road to publication for Finding My Place seemed to hit a few bumps along the way, but I’m so glad you succeeded! What advice can you give to writers struggling to get their novel published?

Don’t give up. It took 11 years from the idea to holding the book in my hand. Part of that was the fact this was my first novel, and I had no idea what I was doing. J I had a critique group that helped me , and I went to writing conferences. Once I had it revised and ready-to-go (really!), I found a publisher fairly quickly—I think I sent to three or four and got two responses—to get to that point took five years. Then once I signed my contract and turned in my final copy, instead of 18 months to publication, it took almost five more years! This was because of the economy and things beyond my control. I just kept writing and kept publishing and kept communicating with my publisher. In the end, it all worked out!

 

5. So we’ve talked about history, but now it’s time to take a look at the future. Inquiring middle-schooler (and older) minds want to know, so what can we expect to read about in the next Margo L. Dill novel?

I am working on a few things—I have a YA that is almost finished—my critique group says send it out, but I have a few more things I want to do. I also have a rough draft finished for a middle-grade mystery novel (contemporary, humorous) that I want to work on in the winter and hopefully send out in the spring. I have two picture books under contract, and those will be out in the future, too. As for more historical fiction, I’m not ruling it out, but it is very time-consuming and difficult to write. I’m going to have to wait until my daughter is in kindergarten!

 

Margo short hairSo there you have it–all you wanted to know about Finding My Place! Oh! Hold on a tic. I didn’t give you the story itself. As it happens, I read Margo’s wonderful book and was lucky enough to review it over at The Muffin. I’m also lucky enough to know Margo, in a virtual way. She’s a contributing editor at WOW! Women-on-writing, which brings me to another lovely surprise for you!

Margo is offering one of two professional critiques/evaluations. There will be one winner and she/he may choose one of the following:

**Professional critique of the first 5 pages of any novel, nonfiction work, or short story
OR
**Professional evaluation of a blog or social media profile with a written summary of what works and suggestions
All you have to do to win is leave a comment here and I’ll draw a name. It’s a swell prize, right? And Finding My Place is a swell book. You can find out how to get an autographed copy for your favorite young reader right here. It’s so easy, even I could do it. (And P.S. I did.)