Shari Mauer

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  • Hmmm, Maybe I Kind of Like E-Readers, After All

    Posted on August 1st, 2011 Shari 5 comments

    Currently reading: PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ by A.S. King (fellow member of the “met our husbands at 17 in summer camp” club!)

    Hi, all. I’m just back from a great trip to London. I knew I’d be reading a lot and hopefully writing and was trying to figure out the best way to do this. I came to the conclusion that I should get a keyboard for my iPad and also load it with e-books. I could even put a London travel app on it and have only 1 thing to carry with me.

    Well, this might have been perfect, had I the foresight to download and practice on the word processing programs before I left. I’ve since learned that the hour before the car comes to pick you up for the airport is not the time. Turns out my iPad isn’t updated enough for the current word processing apps (it’s a very, very old iPad–6 months. The woman on the Apple help phone told me it was several versions outdated. Amazing how technology can whoosh by you in a mere 6 months.) and the keyboard that seemed so great when I bought it at Brookstone wasn’t that great either. Oh well.

    However, I did download several books. This wound up being extremely helpful when my husband, Mat, was sleeping and jet lagged-me was still awake. The lighting on the iPad is just enough to read, but not enough to wake the guy next to you.

    A lovely friend had given Mat a Kindle and he used it on our last vacation. If you have a Kindle app for the iPad, you can also read the books on the Kindle. Turns out a Kindle is much lighter than a regular book and great to stuff in your bag when you’re touring. I felt guilty–I realized I was really enjoying this e-book thing.

    It was a relief not to have to fill my luggage with four different books. And when I was close to finishing the books I brought, I was able to download a few more (though I also learned that B&, which I was originally using on the iPad, does not work in the UK–another lesson.)

    Nothing replaces the smell, feel and rhythm of a book. No matter what people say, I don’t think it’s so easy to find that phrase or plot point you want to find, when you’re flipping back through an e-book. And you can’t read them when a plane is taking off or landing, so make sure you have something else to do during that time.

    You also can’t share a favorite book with someone else if you’ve bought it for an e-reader. There’s a bit of a loss at not being able to pass on your copy of a beloved novel.

    So I’m not on board 100% with this e-book stuff. But I think I’ll wind up with more of a mix than I previously allowed myself. Maybe it’s okay to like e-readers. It doesn’t mean I don’t like books, it’s just another way to enjoy them.

  • Writer Wednesday: C. Lee McKenzie

    Posted on July 13th, 2011 Shari 5 comments

    Currently reading: THE PULL OF GRAVITY by Gae Polisner

    Hi, everyone. It’s been a while since the last Writer Wednesday, but we’re back!

    This week we have my fellow WestSide author, C. Lee McKenzie, author of Sliding on the Edge and The Princess of Las Pulgas. For the first time in recent memory, I read a book in one day. Something about Princess just kept me reading (and I guess for some reason my kids left me alone and let me read). Both of these books are examples of why I’m proud to be a WestSide author.

    About C. Lee McKenzie:


    Native Californian C. Lee McKenzie has always been a writer. But she’s also been a university professor and administrator, and for five years, she wrote and published a newsletter for university professors. She’s published articles on linguistics and intercultural communication, as well as on general magazine topics. Her fiction and nonfiction for young readers has been published in the award-winning e-zine, Stories for Children, and Crow Toes Quarterly has published her ghostly tales. Writing for teenagers keeps Lee in touch with young members of her family, and lets her revisit those wonderful teen years when everything is possible. When she isn’t writing, Lee hikes in the Santa Cruz Mountains in Los Gatos, California.

    About The Princess of Las Pulgas:


    Carlie Edmund has everything: a loving family, good friends, a perfect home and wealth and status; then in her junior year of high school all of that changes. How will Carlie take on the challenges of living in a different world, a world where she doesn’t “fit” and where nothing is as it should be?

    On to the interview:

    1. I just finished The Princess of Las Pulgas and cried through the first 155 pages as I absorbed Carlie’s pain and loss. Did you base this on a specific experience? What inspired you to write this book?

    Wow! The first 155 pages, crying!  I guess I did treat poor Carlie rather badly. You’re the second person today that’s told me she cried for my MC.
    I can’t say that I based Carlie’s story on any one experience, but I have lost family members, and I know the feelings that come with those kinds of losses. There’s always fear, often resentment at being left,
    sometimes relief if the person has suffered greatly, and then there’s the guilt that follows the feeling of relief. It’s all very complicated, and it takes some sorting out. I guess that’s what’s call the “normal healing

    I really started this book because I’d sold the first one, Sliding on the Edge, and I needed something to present at a conference. I started with the question, “What if a family who had everything suddenly had
    nothing?” So that’s where Princess began and it began before the economic downturn, so I didn’t set out to be a topical author on this one. It just happened.

    2. We are both published by WestSide Books. Your book, Sliding on the Edge was one of the original books they published. How did you find WestSide and what was your road to publication on Sliding like?

    I found an announcement in the SCBWI Journal that WestSide was looking for realistic, edgy YA stories. Since that’s what I write, I queried them and they asked for a full,  then wanted my book. I found the road to publication on my first
    book interesting because I knew nothing about the business. However, the editor was patient with me and when she made suggestions I took them. She knew a heck of a lot more than I did.

    3. Did you have a different writing process for Princess than for your first book, Sliding on the Edge?

    Oh yes, very different. Sliding started when I read a news article about Ivy League students who self-abused. It disturbed me to think that “successful” kids were cutting and burning themselves, so I wanted to know why and I planned to write about it. I just didn’t know it would be a novel. I’d thought about doing an article, but that didn’t happen. Also once I started the novel it came down pretty much the way I envisioned the story–first this and then that. Princess came down in random chunks, scenes I guess you’d say,  and it was a very different story than what was finally published. I took out a major thread, added more depth to my MC’s character and changed some of the minor characters’  personalities. My editor was great in guiding me on book two.

    4. What’s the nicest thing someone has said about either of your books?

    The nicest thing is that it touched them in some way. They could relate to the people (They didn’t say characters.). Some said they didn’t want the book to end.  All of these comments were very gratifying. One reader asked me what happened after the story ended. I thought that was interesting. He (Yes, an adult male person–a cardiologist who I don’t know, but ferreted me out at a gathering) had all kinds of questions and none of them were literary; they were all as if the people in the book were real. I thought that was quite a compliment. I also I had to scramble to figure out what to say in response to his questions. Now I have answers and maybe I’ll write a book about what happens after the book ends–a book 2? That would be interesting.

    5. Have you gotten any letters or reader reactions that surprised you?

    They all surprise me, but I just got one that touched me deeply . Here are a couple parts I’ll share. I don’t think this person will mind because I won’t give the reader’s name. I lost my mother a few years ago to cancer (it was a very long battle) and reading Carlie’s thoughts and feelings of guilt, relief, sadness, numbness, anger was like reading my own experience. I just wanted to tell you how much your novel meant to me and I am very honored to have read it. It ranks up there with “Little Women” (which is my all time favorite book – my mother use to read it to me all the time as a child). I cannot wait to read your future works. Not many authors are able to pour such emotion onto the page and succeed – but you have. Thank you for writing such an amazing piece of literature.”

    This was a big surprise and kept me writing on my fourth book. I was thinking of moving on to other endeavors.

    6. Where did you grow up? When you were 15, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    I grew up all over the place, but all in California. Guess it’s good that it’s a big state, so when I say all over the place I can really mean it. I started in a northern valley in a town called Modesto. From there I moved to another valley town called Patterson, then San Diego, Alhambra, San Bernadino, El Monte. North again. This time to Gilroy (the garlic capital of the world, YAY!), San Jose, San Francisco, Los Gatos–my angle of repose place. And when I was 15 I was definitely going to be an archeologist. I wanted to find another Troy or dig in the Valley of the Kings. That didn’t happen, but I still love to read about archeological finds and in my next book I indulge myself in a bit of Egyptology.

    7. Where did you go to college? What was your favorite course there?
    I went to San Jose State University and my favorite course was something called Correlation of the Arts. A brilliant course that integrated literature, architecture, science, music and geography. I never missed one of those classes. My next favorite, if I can go there, was Psycholinguistics. It really opened me to understanding how the mind works and how language and culture interact to create who we are. My family wonders about me sometimes when I get excited about synapses and neurolinguistic programing articles. Can’t help myself.

    8. Besides writing, what do you do to fill your days?
    I love this question. I keep asking for more hours in the day, but nobody’s listening! Writing is a big part of my day most days, but when I take a break I hike. I love being outside on a trail and I do that as much a possible. I definitely carve out three hours a week for yoga and I have for years. In the summer I grow my own vegetables, so I do a lot of stuff with dirt starting in March. Outside of that I read, I try to keep in touch with my friends and family and I stare at the trees in the forest where I live, wondering how I could be so lucky to have them. All of that pretty much takes up the day and I find the only way to even near finishing what I want is to get up about 4AM, which I do, but not every day.

    9. If I told you tonight’s dinner was your last meal ever, what would you request? (appetizer, main course, dessert).
    Oh dear. I love to eat, so this is the hardest of all your questions. But I guess if I only had one meal left in this world I’d choose bruschetta as an appetizer. For the main course I’d take a freshly made black pasta with prawns and green-lipped mussels, tossed with olive oil and lime and sprinkled with fresh parmesan cheese. (Now I’m hungry.) I seldom eat dessert, but if I did and I was having it with this meal I’d take a cheese with fresh seasonal fruit. If was eating it as a stand alone dish, Hot Fudge Sundae topped with nuts, hands down.

    10. And the important question: Favorite Chocolate–Dark, Milk or White?
    Dark. Never Milk. Bitter and with lots of nuts. No nuts? Don’t like it.

    Is there anything else you want to talk about?

    Well, I could talk about tons of things, but I guess I’ll plug something that’s coming out in October. The 2009 Debutantes, a group I’m very proud of being associated with, has created an anthololgy of short stories. The theme and title is The First Time and it will include every kind of genre imaginable. I was really excited to see the cover and to see all of the great YA people involved. My story is called Premeditated Cat. Hope people will look for it when it comes out. I believe that will be in October.


    Thanks so much for your time. You can learn more about C. Lee McKenzie at her website.

    Have a great summer!

  • A Year of Change of Heart: What I’ve Learned

    Posted on June 9th, 2011 Shari 3 comments

    Currently reading: THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot (adult book club selection)

    It has been an amazing year since my debut novel, Change of Heart, was published. I’ve learned so much this year and thought I’d share some of those things.

    1. Book signings are much more fun if done with other authors. As a debut author, my signings are sometimes “lightly attended.” If you have a buddy with you, you don’t feel as lonely.

    Book signing with Jen Nadol, Shannon Delany, Margie Gelbwasser and Jame Richards

    Book signing with Jen Nadol, Shannon Delany, Margie Gelbwasser and Jame Richards

    2. Facebook is not the enemy. I was a very reluctant Facebooker. And while there may be people who overshare and sometimes the bounds of privacy are broken, it’s been a great way to connect with people. I still haven’t found the way to make Twitter work for me, though I do pop over there on occasion and join the conversation, but Facebook has been surprisingly fun. Please come over to FB and say hi. (I can call it FB now because we’re really good friends!)

    3. AMTRAK is awesome! I took the train to ALA in DC in June, to the Baltimore Book Festival in September and to the Rochester Teen Book Festival in May. I could have driven to any of these places, but the train is so much easier–and with no one around to interrupt me, it’s like a writer’s retreat on wheels.

    4. There is no right way to balance promotion and writing. Even the more seasoned authors I have met say they haven’t quite figured it out. The best thing you can do, I guess, is just try to allocate time for each.

    5. Speaking of seasoned authors–YA and Children’s Authors are a fabulously generous and welcoming bunch. Starting with the giant “welcome to the YA sisterhood” I got when I met Laurie Halse Anderson at a BEA signing last year to hanging out with some terrific, prolific people at the Rochester Teen Book Festival last month, everyone has been so welcoming. You hear horror stories of how competitive adult authors can be and I’ve found nothing but camaraderie and respect in the YA world.

    Huge fan-girl moment meeting Laurie Halse Anderson!

    Huge fan-girl moment meeting Laurie Halse Anderson!

    6. Barnes and Noble will pull your book after 3 months if the sales in an individual store aren’t what they want–but it’s not the end of the world. And no one at B&N could tell me exactly what the magic number was. Because Change of Heart was a little late in being released, it only got about 6 weeks, which is really not a lot of time. That said, after my initial panic, I realized there are a lot of things about being published that you can’t control and Change of Heart still lives on at Amazon, B&, some indies, etc.

    It was a huge thrill to see my book on the B&N shelves.

    It was a huge thrill to see my book on the B&N shelves.

    7. Never underestimate the value of the hometown crowd. That includes having 300 people at my book launch at the New City Library, great press coverage in the Rockland County Journal-News and New City Patch, being included in the summer reading list for Clarkstown North and South and all of the support our friends and family have given me. Plus Change of Heart is still in the Nanuet and Palisades B&Ns (see happy exception to #6).

    Ally, Sam, Brittany and Toni debate "Team Sam" and "Team Abe"

    Ally, Sam, Brittany and Toni debate "Team Sam" and "Team Abe"

    8. Debut groups are invaluable. I was a member of both the Class of 2K10 and The Tenners. It was so great to be able to share the highs and lows of my debut year with people going through exactly what I was.

    The Class of 2K10 hanging out at BEA

    The Class of 2K10 hanging out at BEA

    Do you notice a trend? So many of these lessons revolve around the people I’ve met. I think that’s been the nicest surprise of all. I always thought of writing as a solitary pursuit, but this year have realized how awesome it is to have met so many interesting, intelligent people and to be a part of the writing community.

    Who knows what the next year will bring. I am still promoting Change of Heart, working on several other books, trying to figure out the life/work balance and have been writing a Moms Talk column for our local on-line newspaper the New City Patch. Which I guess brings me to the 9th and final lesson of the year:

    9. There are never enough hours in the day, so do the best you can. And gee, if that means the dishes get done at midnight or ordering a pizza, well, so be it. No one ever died from dirty dishes or too much pizza.

    Thanks to everyone who made it a great year!

  • Writer Wednesday: Beth Fehlbaum

    Posted on March 9th, 2011 Shari 3 comments

    Currently reading: Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (for some reason, I’m between books)

    This week’s featured author also celebrated her birthday yesterday. So I’ll start with a big “Happy Birthday” to my wonderful imprint-mate, Beth Fehlbaum. I’m so excited to have her as a guest on the blog today. Her book, Hope in Patience, has been honored by YALSA as a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and Beth has been very busy reaching out to readers, both in Texas, where she lives, and in cyberspace.

    About Beth:

    Beth Fehlbaum

    I write fiction for young adults, although the fiction I write is rooted in truth. Even though I’m no longer a teenager, I still see the world through the lens of a teen, and that enables me to shine light on parts of life that some adults would prefer to keep hidden. I am a teacher and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I drew on both experiences to write my debut novel, Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse. My newest book, Hope in Patience, released late October, 2010, from WestSide Books! I’m currently at work on Truth in Patience. Read the rest of this entry »

  • Writer Wednesday: Cheryl Rainfield

    Posted on March 2nd, 2011 Shari 2 comments

    Currently reading: DIAMOND RUBY by Joseph Wallace (adult book club selection)

    I’m excited to bring back my Writer Wednesdays with an interview with my imprint-mate, Cheryl Rainfield, author of the powerful Scars. Not only has Cheryl’s book racked up accolades and awards, but it has reached so many teens who struggle with self-harm. It was truly one of my favorite books of the year and has been a breakout novel for WestSide Books, which is very exciting for our young imprint.

    About Cheryl:


    Cheryl Rainfield writes realistic edgy fiction for teens, fantasy for children, and some non-fiction articles for adults. She edits and critiques children’s and teen fiction, and on her website she reviews a wide variety of children’s and YA books. In addition to writing, Cheryl is also a talented artist. She lives in Toronto.

    About Scars:


    Kendra, fifteen, hasn’t felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse—especially because she still can’t remember the most important detail—her abuser’s identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it’s her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who’s becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra’s abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. Scars is the unforgettable story of one girl’s frightening path to the truth.

    On to the interview:

    1. I understand that Scars came out of your personal experience. At what point did you decide to write this book and how did you go about doing it?

    I wrote the initial draft of Scars more than ten years ago. It’s hard to feel alone and in pain, and it’s even harder when people judge you for it. I wanted people to understand, to have more compassion–and I wanted people who had been through it to know they weren’t alone, just as I needed to know that. The first drafts had a lot more getting out the pain, the emotion, the trauma onto the pages, along with story. I poured a lot of my heart and experiences into it. Over time, I edited and rewrote it so that Scars was less raw, and held more hope.

    2. Many people are surprised to learn that you used a photograph of your own arms on the cover. How did the idea for this come about? Did it come from WestSide or from you?

    I mentioned to my publisher that I had a professional photo of my scarred arm and wondered if they’d be willing to look at it. They were–and I’m so grateful! I think it works really well; it tells readers right away what the book is about, without being sensationalist.

    3. When I was in college, one of our friends was cutting. What advice would you to give to someone if they thought their friend needed help?

    Talk to them about it–gently, with compassion. Don’t pressure or back them into a corner. You could ask if they’re seeing a therapist, that that can help a lot, having someone who listens with compassion and cares. If you’re willing to listen without judgment, you can offer that. Educate yourself about self-harm before you talk to your friend. (The Secret Shame website is a *fantastic* resource.) You could bring a book, an article, something you found helpful on the subject, and leave it with them. Most important of any of that is having compassion, caring, and sensitivity. Helping your friend know that they’re not alone, that someone cares, that you see their pain, and are not judging them.

    4. What’s the nicest thing someone has said about the book?

    Hm. There’s been a lot of things! Many readers have told me that before they read Scars, they’d felt so alone, like no one understood, and that after reading Scars, they felt like someone finally understood. Many readers who’ve used self-harm have told me that they’ve been able to tell a good friend, or seek out therapy after reading Scars, and/or that they have been able to stop or reduce their self-harm after reading Scars. That’s such an incredible response; more than I’d hoped for! A few readers told me that before reading Scars, they could never understand how anyone could hurt themselves, but that after reading Scars, they really got it. All of those responses make me feel so good!

    5. Have you gotten any letters or reader reactions that surprised you?

    My personal experience with self-harm is that it comes out of abuse and trauma, and of course deep emotional pain. I’ve seen that in others who I’ve known who used self-harm, too. So I was at first surprised when a queer reader told me that he hadn’t been abused but used self harm to cope. But of course, emotional pain often comes up in being queer in our homophobic society, with people not accepting who we are, who we love, and it can be a real torment, especially when you’re a teen and your parents don’t accept or understand you–or even hate you for who you love.

    6. I know that you write both fantasy and realistic fiction. Do you approach each of these genres differently or is your writing process for each similar?

    For me, the writing process is similar. I start with an idea, an issue that I want to delve into that is close to my heart, one that is a part of my experience or relates to my experience or is something I care about. I write a rough first draft, then edit a lot, look at the shape of the story and try to make sure it’s working. I try to write about what I care about, what I love, what I need. I write about what moves me, and I try to make it real on an emotional level.

    7. And the important question: Favorite Chocolate–Dark, Milk or White?

    Milk chocolate. (smiling) I love it! Though I now have to have sugar-free chocolate, and sometimes it’s hard to find brands that taste good. I’m always grateful when I do.

    Thanks so much for joining me today, Cheryl. To read more about Cheryl, visit her website.

    Have a great day!

  • Hoops 4 Dana

    Posted on February 1st, 2011 Shari 1 comment

    I’m setting aside Writer Wednesday and the usual blog post to borrow this space and give some information on an upcoming event.

    Hoops 4 Dana is a 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament celebrating the life of Dana Sassano, a senior at Clarkstown North who we lost this past December in a horrible car accident.

    The Tournament is Sunday, March 27th in the gym at Clarkstown High School North. All proceeds to go to the Friends of Dana, which will support a scholarship in her name, as well as to continue Dana’s mission of helping people in need.

    Teams can have 3-4 members and there will be a running time of 5 minutes per game. It is double elimination, so everyone is guaranteed at least 2 games.

    We will hold different sessions for different age groups during the day:

    3rd grade- 5th grade: 10:30am-1pm

    6th grade- 8th grade: 1:30pm-4:30pm

    9th grade-12th grade: 5:00pm-8:00pm

    Cost: $20 donation per player includes t-shirt and water

    DEADLINE TO REGISTER IS THURSDAY, MARCH 10th. Registration is happening in the Annex at North during lunch on March 3, 4, 7, 8, 9. You can also register by mail. Please e-mail and we will send you a form.

    If you don’t have a team, let us know and we will group you with other players your age.

    For more information or to become a corporate sponsor, please e-mail me at

    To RSVP on the Facebook page and to help us spread the word, go here. (this does not count as a pre-registration, though. We must have payment for you to be considered registered).

    The event is sponsored by Clarkstown North’s Interact Club (Jodi Gottlieb, Lissie Maurer, co-presidents and Jenna Heim, committee member) and Josh Maurer and Danny Heim.

    Thanks to the Clarkstown School District and the Town of Clarkstown for all of their help on this event.

    Hope to see you there!

    Dana Sassano

    Dana Sassano

  • Writer Wednesday: Cindy Callaghan (and this one has a giveaway!)

    Posted on January 26th, 2011 Shari 6 comments

    Currently reading: WINTER’S BONE by Daniel Woodrell (Adult Book Club selection)

    Well, it’s snowing here in NY (AGAIN!). Sigh. We just hope my kids get their midterms in and don’t have it dragging out over the weekend.

    On a brighter note, I found the perfect book for a snowy day. It’s a fun read and totally inspires you to unleash your inner cook. Read on to learn more about Just Add Magic and its author, Cindy Callaghan.

    AND….as a special hope-you’re-not-snowed-in, but here’s-something-to-cheer-you-up-if-you-are incentive, comment at the end of this post and tell us your favorite thing to cook. The winner will be drawn in one week and will win a signed copy of Just Add Magic. Don’t forget to leave your e-mail address so I can contact you.

    About Just Add Magic:

    Just_Add_Magic_cover small

    When Kelly Quinn and her two BFFs discover a dusty old cookbook while cleaning out her attic, the girls decide to try a few of the mysterious recipes inside.  But the ancient book bears an eerie warning, and it doesn’t take long for the girls to realize that their dishes are linked to strange occurences.  The Keep ‘Em Quiet Cobbler actually silences Kelly’s pesky little brother and the Hexberry Tarta brings an annoying curse to mean girl Charlotte Barney.  And there is the Love Bug Juice, which seems to have quite the effect on those cute Rusamano boys…

    Could these recipes really be magical? Who wrote them and where did they come from? And most importantly, what kind of trouble are the girls stirring up for themselves? Things are about to get just a little too hot in Kelly Quinn’s kitchen.

    About Cindy:

    Cindy Callaghan small

    Just Add Magic is Cindy Callaghan’s debut novel. Cindy grew up in New Jersey and attended college at the University of Southern California before earning her BA and MBA from the University of Delaware.

    Her full-time job is in corporate America; her other full-time jobs are mom and writer.

    She is very involved with her children’s activities, including coaching the occasional soccer team.  Cindy lives, works and writes in Wilmington, Delaware with her family and numerous rescued pets.

    On to the interview:

    1. In Just Add Magic, you center the book around food. Are you a big cook? And did you have to do a lot of research (i.e. cooking and eating!) while writing?

    I am not a good cook.  I can admit it.  And I don’t really like to cook when I have to.  I like to cook for fun.  For example, I don’t make very good pancakes (instant kinda stuff), but I make them pink, purple, blue…whatever color I feel like that day.  The hardest part about the recipes for JUST ADD MAGIC is that I don’t follow them.  I just have an idea for how much seems about right.  Then, I taste test.  Usually I’m pretty close, but sometimes it’s disastrous and I order pizza to be delivered.

    I do like to bake.  I toss in a little of this…some of that…and oh yumm.

    2.    What’s the nicest thing someone has said about the book?

    There has been so much.  The feedback has been amazing both from adults who have read it and kids too.  I love, love, love going to pick my kids up from school and the other children run up to me with a copy of the book to sign.  I feel famous.

    I think I am most impressed/flattered when someone takes the time to write me an email after they’ve read the book.  A few times a week I get a note from a tween who has read it and they tell me how much they loved it.  That’s what it was always all about for me….giving a reader something they can just fall in love with.

    3.    Have you gotten any letters or reader reactions that surprised you?

    Someone recently wanted me to send them an autographed picture of me.  I thought, “I’ve arrived!”  Then I thought, “I don’t have any autographed pictures of myself.”  My next call was to 1-800-DAD who printed some shots for me to sign.

    4.    Where did you grow up? When you were 12, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    I grew up in New Jersey and did my first few years of undergraduate studies in LA.  I wanted to be a celebrity, a movie star, maybe have my own talk show.  I still think I would make an absolutely amazing TV Detective.  It wouldn’t surprise me to get a call from Law and Order or CSI one of these days.

    5.    Do you watch cooking shows? Which one is your favorite? (in our house, we don’t watch cooking shows, but we do have a thing for Man vs. Food.)

    I really don’t.  If I happen to be home when Rachael Ray is on, I’ll watch her, but not even for the cooking so much; I just really like her.  There is a character in JUST ADD MAGIC that is based on Rachael Ray; her name is Felice Foudini.  I’ve contacted the show to see if Rachael would be interested in giving the books to her audience or something, but I haven’t gotten any bites.  (haha, get it? “bite”?)

    6.  Besides writing, what do you do to fill your days?

    I have a full time job as a marketer in the pharmaceutical industry, very polar opposite to my writing job.  I also have three busy kids and I try to be very involved with all their sports, clubs, activities and friends.  This provides me with tons of good material to write about. Besides that I love going to the mountains, reading, watching crime drama, walking, going to the movies and hanging with my pets and friends.

    7.    If I told you tonight’s dinner was your last meal ever, what would you request? (appetizer, main course, dessert).

    Nachos (staked high), Pasta (like a Fra Diavlo), Tiramisu (There’s a mean tiramisu in JUST ADD MAGIC)

    8.    And the important question: Favorite Chocolate–Dark, Milk or White

    Milk.  Hands down.

    Cindy has a really fun website–complete with recipes. Go visit and say hi.

    And don’t forget to comment to win a free book. And what the heck–include a recipe and we’ll count your entry twice.

    Thanks, Cindy!

  • Writer Wednesday: Nicole Weaver

    Posted on January 19th, 2011 Shari 21 comments

    Currently reading: THE SWEETNESS OF SALT by Cecilia Galante

    Writer Wednesday is back! I’m very excited this week to feature Nicole Weaver, whose TRIlingual (yes, 3 languages) picture book, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle is out. This is totally my kind of book. I remember buying my friend’s son a Spanish version of Green Eggs and Ham in an attempt to give him a book that exposed him to another language. Nicole does that in her book, with the languages side by side for easier understanding.

    About Nicole:

    nicole weaver

    Nicole weaver was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She came to the United States when she was ten years old. She is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish and English. She is a veteran teacher of French and Spanish. She is the author of a children’s trilingual picture book titled  Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle. The story is about a Haitian little girl who resided by the beach in Haiti. Her second trilingual children’s picture book will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. The book titled, My Sister is my Best Friend will be published in 2011.

    About the book:

    A delightful story about compassion and the richness of family love and devotion!

    This story is about the love that developed between a little girl named Marie and a stranded sea turtle. The story tells the struggles Marie had as she helped the sea turtle back out to sea.

    Esta historia es sobre el amor que se desarrolló entre una niña llamaba María y una tortuga que vino a tierra para poner sus huevos. La historia cuenta las dificultades que tenía María para regresar la tortuga de nuevo al océano.

    Cette histoire est au sujet de l’amour qui s’est développé entre une petite fille qui s’appelait Marie et une tortue de mer qui est venue sur le sable pour pondre ses oeufs. L’histoire raconte les dificultés que Marie a rencontrées pour remettre la tortue dans l’océan.

    (okay, who could translate those paragraphs without looking at the English?!)

    On to the interview:

    1) I love the idea of a trilingual book. This is something I would have bought for my kids in a heart beat. Where did the idea for this come from and how do you go about writing it? Did you write the story in one language and then translate or was it simultaneous?

    I grew up speaking French and Creole, learned English as a third language and Spanish as a fourth. I know from firsthand experiences how important it is to be exposed to a language at an early age. I am a middle school and high school French, Spanish teacher; I wrote the book as a trilingual book so I can use it in my classroom. I see a huge need for books that will introduce children to different cultures and languages.

    I wrote the story first in English, then translated into French and Spanish. I need to make sure the story is well written in English before I venture out to write the French and Spanish versions. It is more of a challenge for me to write in English than in French and Spanish.

    2) What’s the nicest thing someone has said about the book?

    I have received a lot of excellent feedback from people; most people are amazed that I wrote the book in three languages. Bilingual families have emailed me thanking me because they use my book to introduce their children to a third language. Kathy Davis from said: “This book has a cute story, with bright and cheery illustrations. I could almost smell the salty ocean and feel the sun on my face as I read it. And I found the tri-lingual ingredient fascinating – it is not often I stumble upon a children’s book written in three languages.”

    3) Have you gotten any letters or reader reactions that surprised you?

    Yes! One individual surprised me with the following review: “The story of Marie and the sea turtle was cute. The story is delivered in three different languages which gives it a unique selling quality. I didn’t enjoy the set up of this quality. Overall this book was average for me. It was a cute story with a good lesson, but it wasn’t spectacular and didn’t stand out in any particular areas for me. My girls weren’t very interested in reading it multiple times.”

    This type of reaction infuses me with more tenacity to continue to write all of my books as trilingual books. Some people must be educated about the importance of different cultures and languages. I think what surprised me the most about the reviewer’s reaction is this statement: “My girls weren’t very interested in reading it multiple times.”

    4) Where did you grow up? When you were 12, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    I lived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti the first ten years of my life. I moved to New York when I was ten and had to learn English. I attended college in New York and later moved to Houston. At first, I had my heart set on becoming a translator/interpreter for the United Nations, but changed my mind after working as a French/Spanish tutor at Manhattan Community College. I decided to go to graduate school to become a foreign language teacher.
    5) What was your favorite picture book when you were a kid?

    When I first arrived to the United States, I got hooked on reading the Curious George series.

    6) Besides writing, what do you do to fill your days?

    I am a French and Spanish teacher at the middle and high school levels. My youngest is a sophomore in high school, he keeps me pretty busy attending his sporting events.

    7) If I told you tonight’s dinner was your last meal ever, what would you request? (appetizer, main course, dessert).

    I would request a main course: Coq-au-vin (organic chicken with wine sauce) with steamed haricots verts (extra fine French green beans)

    8) And the important question: Favorite Chocolate–Dark, Milk or White?

    I am not a huge fan of chocolate.

    9) Is there anything else you want to talk about?

    Firstly, thanks for interviewing me. Secondly, I encourage readers to check out my blog at: . I donate a portion of proceeds from my book sales for Haiti relief efforts; readers can get more information about the Lambi Fund by visiting their website:

    Lastly, readers can go here :, to view a recent interview and video about the good the Lambi Fund is doing for earthquake victims. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to interview me.

  • Moving forward…

    Posted on January 3rd, 2011 Shari 1 comment

    Currently reading: THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES by Kristina McBride (Class of 2k10 mate)

    Last week we got the awful news that one of my son’s good friends lost his sister in a car accident. She was a beautiful, artistic, smart 17 year old with everything ahead of her. We are aching for this family and for the huge loss to our community.

    Incidents like these put everything in perspective. They also cause you to grab your kids and hug them till they beg you to stop. And of course, as a writer, you can’t help but peek out of your grief to view the whole thing as, well, a writer. That the situation contains shades of my next book is eerie. Thinking I should use my sadness to take a look at my manuscript with the raw emotion I was feeling, I opened the document. But I read the first few lines and realized the emotion was far too raw and it was all too close. I put my writer-self away.

    Today, the kids are back at school (okay, all except the one who is sick) and it feels like it’s time to start fresh. Move forward. Time to get the clutter out of my house (my husband and I thought we’d spend the vacation doing this–a thought that was more exciting to me than the beach vacation we are planning for later this year–but we didn’t quite get as much done as we would have liked). If I take 15 minutes a day and throw out a few things, in a month, I bet the place looks much better. Of course it helps that my husband has agreed that I can get rid of some of his old medical books (anyone want a Physician’s Desk Reference from 1993?!). So this is Goal #1.

    And the other clutter I need to be careful about is the internet clutter. You know, the kind that you start poking through and suddenly two hours of your writing day is gone? I vow to be more focused and wander less through Facebook and other such distractions (but on a different note–we saw “The Social Network” and loved it. A rare case of the five members of my family going to a movie together and actually finding one that both parents and a 16 year old girl and 13 and 10 year old boys would enjoy. Okay, wandering off again. Must pull back.)

    I’m making a renewed push to see my first baby Change of Heart out there (waves hello to anyone who may have found me via Kids Buzz and Shelf Awareness and Dear Reader, etc.!). One of WestSide’s strengths are its Teacher’s Guides and having seen one, I’m now trying to get them into some of the schools so they can see what a wonderful resource it can be. If you are a teacher and would like to see one, send me a note via my contact page. And I’m thrilled that Change of Heart will be on the Summer Reading list for Clarkstown High School South and hope it’ll find it’s way onto more lists.

    And speaking of lists…I was thrilled that Change of Heart was named to a few “Best of 2010″ lists. Here are two of the links if you want to take a look:

    Reading Addict and Ticket To Anywhere

    My next book, tentatively titled Callie’s Sister is shaping up. I’m eagerly awaiting my crit partners notes and have been so grateful to get the input of some fabulous teen readers and also my friend Suzanne, a home health care nurse, who has told me that my facts are good (always nice when the facts check out!).

    So as this week has shown us–savor the little things, hug your kids, appreciate your family and friends and look forward. 2011 promises to be a wonderful year.


  • My New Philosophy

    Posted on November 23rd, 2010 Shari 5 comments

    Currently reading: PULL by Barbara Binns (fellow WestSide author)

    Life’s been throwing a lot at me lately. Nothing major. Lots of things that I’ll look back on in five years and won’t even remember. But even the minor things can get stressful.

    I’m a bit of an obsessive person. And I beat myself up sometimes when I make a poor decision. Even when I had the best intentions at the time. From things as silly as ordering the wrong size for my son’s Little League championship jacket (this after going to the company, trying on an Adult Small, which was too big on me and figuring that a Youth Large would be slightly smaller, but as it turns out, is way smaller) to not finding flights for an attempted Christmas week vacation for less than $700 per person (yes, I know you’re supposed to book in April. I wasn’t ready to think about it then.)

    Eric in his too-small jacket

    Eric in his too-small jacket

    So after beating myself up for hours on these and other small matters, it finally occurred to me–I made the best decision I could with the information I had at the time. If you allow yourself that, it’s hard to continue the self-castigating. There’s nothing you would have done differently, knowing exactly what you knew when you made the decision.

    My husband says I sound a lot like a politician when I chant this (and yes, as I’m writing this, I’m reminded of the whole alleged weapons of mass destruction argument, but I’m going to ignore that).

    Of course anything that happens in my personal life, I have to try to find the connection with my writing. And I think that this philosophy actually works quite well when you’re working on character motivations. Characters only know what they know at the time they are making their own decisions. Even if you, as the author, know what the future holds for one of your characters, you need to have them function with the knowledge that they have at the time in your story.

    If any of us, fictional or real, could predict the future, our stories might be quite different. We can’t, therefore we make the best decisions based on the information we have at the time (there I go, repeating it again).

    Ditto, this for a debut author learning to do promotion. There may have been things that, looking back on my debut year, I might have done differently, but I made the best…well, you get my point.

    And while I’m at it: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Another lesson we’ve learned this Fall. But that’s a post for another day.

    Writer Wednesday will return soon. I have to finish revising my WIP and stop obsessing over silly things and finally send some questions to more of the wonderful authors who have volunteered to be interviewed.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!