Today I welcome Barbara Bockman, author of WOUNDS available from Muse It Up Publishing. Barbara is giving away a free pdf copy of WOUNDS to one lucky person who leaves a comment! Welcome, Barbara!
Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.
Hi Kathy. Thanks for inviting me to be on your blog. I think I have considered myself an author since about age 13. But I was too shy to do much about it for many years. Finally, after seeing the ad for the Institute of Children’s Literature in magazines, I took the plunge and signed up for the basic course. I felt it was a good company to go with because the Dean of Faculty, Alvin Tresselt, was the author of a Caldecott Honor book, Hide and Seek Fog, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin. After having several stories and poems published in children’s magazines, I decided to go for a novel.
What is one of your favorite books and why?
One of my favorite books is The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. I am drawn to historical fiction, and this is one of the best stories about life in Puritan New England in the late 1600s. The romance and mystery blend perfectly with the everyday life and religious and social mores of the time.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write Wounds by an incident that happened near my home. Someone attacked a 500 year old oak tree with a chain saw. I was appalled by the maliciousness of the action. At first, I started to write a short story about the tree, but as I learned more about middle grade fiction, I realized I needed to write about a youngster and just have the tree as an element in the story. It’s not a piece of cake being a teenager, and I had no trouble working out a motive for the vandal’s actions. The boy in my story becomes an outcast because of his bad behavior. I did a lot of research, such as visiting the Division of Family and Children office. I hope my book will show young readers that they can overcome their worst impulses, even if they have done something socially unacceptable.
How would you describe your writing process?
I love it when I have large blocks of time in which to really get into whatever I’m working on. I read some of what I’ve previously written to get back into the frame of mind I was in when I cut off. And then I’m totally involved; nothing around distracts me when I’m deep inside the world of the story. I see what the characters see and feel what they feel. My only hope is that I can convey all that to the reader.
How have you marketed your book?
I belong to several online sites, such as, The Blogging Mastermind Comment Tribe and LinkedIn, and of course, Facebook and Twitter. I’ve met with the school district curriculum coordinator to set up book talks in the local middle schools. My daughter is helping me create posters and visuals. I have a blog and I’ve been a guest on several blogs.
What advice would you give to other authors?
I would advise other authors along the same lines as the advice I’ve received from established authors: write the kind of books you love to read; write about what moves you; continue to learn about writing and the publishing business; believe in yourself; never give up.
Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
(In this excerpt, “Siegfried” is the dog and Craig, the protagonist).
The next Saturday, K’BeTs gathered in the Ark kitchen to brainstorm about their fund raiser. The officers acted as team leaders and formed groups with three other club members and started pitching out ideas. Each team hoped to come up with the best proposal.
Craig was sitting in front of the TV in the living room. He couldn’t concentrate for straining to hear the voices in the kitchen. Siegfried stationed himself beside Craig.
Craig felt left-out and it hurt. That was his tree! He sat fuming. When Mrs. Ark came into the living room with a feather duster, she said, in a fake French accent, “Mees-sure, do you mind eff I dust zeez objects d’art?”
He could tell she wanted to distract him. He made an attempt to accept her friendship. “Go right ahead, Ma-dame.”
The “objects d’art” in question were the Noah’s arks. Craig admired each item of the colorful and varied collection. I wish my mom had had something pretty, he thought.
He could think about his mom a little now without much pain. Her curly brown hair that she had a hard time controlling in the Florida humidity. Her big green eyes. Sometimes Julia pushed Charlie into this job or that scheme, but he never held a job for long. Craig remembered how his dad liked to go out with “the boys” and carouse a little. He liked to drink a little. The drinking made it even harder to get a good job.
Finally, Julia persuaded Charlie to try his hand at roofing, a job he had irregular experience with. The bank wouldn’t give him a loan, but Bentley Ark did. It went well for a while. Charlie stayed sober. They were about to make it. There was no health insurance because Julia was saving money to buy . . . . Craig’s thoughts were treading into a forbidden area. This was more painful than thoughts about the tree. He forced himself to smile at Mrs. Ark and make pleasant comments about her collection.
Before Craig had time to delve into self-pity again, Carson brought her group into the living room. “The teams are scattering because it got too noisy in the kitchen,” she said. “Is it all right if we come in here?”
“Why, certainly,” Mrs. Ark said and left with her duster.
Craig clicked off the television and got up to leave with Siegfried following.
“Why don’t you stay and help us, Craig?” said Carson. “We could use some more brain power.” She looked at Mark and Norma Faith and Chan as if to dare them to dispute her.
They didn’t. They nodded and mumbled, “Yeah, stay, Craig.”
He hesitated then decided to stay. He wanted to be a part of the group and Carson was reaching out a hand in friendship. “Okay,” he said. Since Craig returned to his seat, Siegfried returned also, with his front half sitting beside Craig and his back half standing up. “You’re ridiculous, Siegfried,” said Carson. Everyone laughed and the atmosphere in the room seemed friendly.
“Whatever we come up with,” said Carson, slipping smoothly into the role of team leader, “had better be big. We can ask other people for help. I know for certain that my mother’s business will pitch in.”
“My dad’s Sunday School class will help, I bet,” said Mark. Mark was a muscular boy with a shock of red hair who was never without a basketball ball. He twirled one on his finger during the meeting.
Norma Faith was the first with a suggestion. Twisting her hair around a scrunchy, she said, “Okay. I was thinking about a dog show. We take our poodle to dog shows, and it’s expensive to enter. We could charge a lot. Everybody has a dog.”
“Not everybody,” said Chan. “But lots of people have pets. It doesn’t have to be just dogs. James has rabbits and Nelson has Siegfried. I have a guinea pig. Her name is Tundra.”
“A pet show is not big enough,” said Carson. “But it’s a good suggestion,” she added, when Norma Faith’s face turned red. “I’ll write that down. It’s a good start.”
“The weather’s too cold for a dog wash or a car wash,” said Mark. “They’re always fun.”
Craig cleared his throat, “Huh.” He was going to jump in. “How about a bake sale?” he
ventured. He had seen bake sales in front of the Food Lion.
Carson smiled at him across the coffee table and across the gulf of exclusion. Then she gently nixed his idea. “The Girl Scouts are selling cookies and the School Patrols are selling candy for their trip to Washington. I don’t think a bake sale would go over right now. We need something totally different.”
“I know,” said Mark. “How about a chili cook-off?”
“Just chili?” asked Carson, wrinkling her nose.
“I wish we could do them all,” whined Norma Faith, and pulled the scrunchy out of her hair.
Craig thought the way Carson tilted her head was cute. Then she surprised him by shouting,
“Well, why don’t we!”
She raised her arms into the air as if to embrace all the good ideas. “We could have a carnival in the school gym.”
“And we could include whatever the other teams have come up with, too,” Mark said.
“Let’s go and see what they think about it.” Carson jumped up and lead the way to the kitchen. “I think it should be a winter carnival. We can rent a snow machine and everything.”
Craig lagged back. It was nice while it lasted, but he didn’t think the rest of the group would want him to butt in. And besides, Craig was expecting Mrs. Dayton. Every week, she advised him to be patient; his life would return to normal, eventually. Eventually. At the time he had not believed her. But after today--with Carson--maybe she was right.
Where can readers find you and your book?
I would love for your readers to visit my blog, Stories a la Mode at http://barbarabockman.wordpress.com
My book is available through my publisher, MuseItUp Publishing, at http://bit.ly/pjSEdC
I would like to offer a PDF copy of Wounds to one of your readers who leaves a comment.
Thanks again, Kathy, for having me on your blog. I’m looking forward to having you visit mine, too.
Thank you, Barbara! And don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a free pdf copy of WOUNDS!