Interview with K. E. Ormsbee, Author of The Water and the Wild

K. E. Ormsbee

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I was a huge bookworm as a kid, and that love for stories grew, as it so often does, into a desire to tell my own. When I was twelve, I began my first project: an epic high fantasy complete with hand-drawn map. I called my fantasy land Marladia, which I now realize sounds a little too much like marmalade. I only made it four chapters in before abandoning that very ambitious project, but ever since then I’ve been an avid writer.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I’ve wanted to write for children for as long as I’ve wanted to write, period. Growing up, I was deeply impacted by children’s literature. Books like Matilda, Bridge to Terebithia, and Charlotte’s Web—just to name a very few—influenced the way I perceived life, death, and myself. I wanted to write stories that gave young readers the same sense of understanding, hope, and camaraderie I took away from my own favorite books.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

Well, my only experience writing for “adults” was my short fiction creative thesis in college, so I’m not sure I’m very qualified to comment. I will say I’ve found it much harder to write my Middle Grade books than my Young Adult books. Which isn’t to say one process is more enjoyable than the other! It’s just that so far my YA projects have flowed much more easily and quickly. Does that mean it’s harder to write books for a younger audience? Maybe… But I think it’s always worth the effort!

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

Hearing back from young readers and their teachers. I was lucky enough to attend the NCTE Annual Convention last year, where I met some of the most gracious, compassionate, fascinating people. English teachers ROCK, and it’s such a thrill to send a signed book back to the classroom. And I could talk to young readers all day long. Last holiday season, I had a conversation with my cousin, who is in his teens and has long professed his hatred of reading. He was raving about Looking For Alaska and several other YA books he’d recently discovered. “It’s weird,” he told me. “I like reading books now.” I didn’t tackle hug him, because he’s too cool for that, but I was bursting with happiness after that talk. That’s why I write. For readers like my cousin, who just needed to find a book that spoke to him, a protagonist he could relate to, and a plot he could get behind. One book can change everything.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

The Water and the Wild is the story of a girl named Lottie Fiske, whose best friend Eliot is dying of a mysterious illness. In an attempt to find a cure, Lottie travels through a magical apple tree’s roots into a parallel world called Albion Isle. On her journey, she’s joined by a poetry-spouting boy with untouchable hands, a girl who can hear for miles in every direction, and a royal heir who can taste emotions. As Lottie and her companions make their way to the Southerly Court, where the one healer who can save Eliot is being held captive, they encounter many obstacles, including the sinister wolf-like Barghest, oblivion-filled swamps, and giant spider webs. It’s a story filled with poetry, adventure, friendship, and MAGICAL BIRDS.

What inspired you to write it?Water and the Wild_FC_ HiRes

In the summer of 2008, the image of a white finch in a green apple tree lodged itself soundly into my brain. I wrote down a description of that image, which would eventually become some of the first pages of The Water and the Wild. Then I wrote an outline of the story, which drew some of its inspiration from my love of fantasy, Shakespeare, English Romantic poets, and folklore from the British Isles.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Anywhere books are sold! Here are a few handy dandy links:
Indie Bound (
B & N (
Amazon (

What is up next for you?

Right now, I’m working on four projects. The first is a sequel to The Water and the Wild, which is slated for a Fall 2016 release. The second is my YA contemporary debut, Lucky Few (Simon & Schuster 2016), about a homeschooled girl and her neighbor, a boy struggling with death anxiety. The third is a standalone MG called The House in Poplar Wood (Chronicle, 2017). And the fourth is a Super Top Secret project that’s still under wraps.

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! Keep on keeping on, and live long and prosper.


Coming in April: One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart


Something is not right with Nadia Cara. While spending a year in Florence, Italy, she’s become a thief. She has secrets. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom only she has seen. Can Nadia be rescued or will she simply lose herself altogether? Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is a celebration of language, beauty, imagination, and the salvation of love.

5 5/8 x 8 1/8 in; 280 pp;
April 2015
ISBN 9781452128313

Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of books for both adults and young readers, includingGoing Over, You Are My Only, Small Damages, and Handling the Truth. She lives in Devon, Pennsylvania.

Guest Blogger: Michaela MacColl, Author of Always Emily (Giveaway)

Always Emily_FC

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

What’s Up with That Title? by Michaela MacColl

This week my new book Always Emily comes out. It’s the next novel in my series of literary mysteries – this one is about the Bronte sisters.  Charlotte Bronte (who would write Jane Eyre) is 18 and her sister Emily (of Wuthering Heights fame) is 17. The sisters get involved in a mystery on their very own moors – a mystery that threatens their peace of mind, their brother and father and even their lives.

If my story is about two sisters, what’s up with that title? Always Emily? I’ve had lots of  people ask me (especially my husband who gets this book mixed up with my last one about Emily Dickinson).  The truth is this book was originally written in alternating chapters, first Charlotte then Emily. These sisters, despite having an identical upbringing, were completely different from one another.

Charlotte was the eldest sister and she assumed responsibility for the family. She’s the one with the plan – to keep the family solvent, to find employment and to get the sisters published.  Emily, on the other hand, had zero ambitions other than to wander the moors and write her wild, uninhibited poetry and stories. Naturally Charlotte wrote about the repressed and moral Jane Eyre, while Emily penned a gothic melodrama of illicit love and revenge.

Jane Eyrewuthering heights


Ultimately I found the alternating narration way too confining. It didn’t seem fair to the reader to leave Charlotte locked in a trunk about to suffocate and then shift to Emily doing the most mundane of chores.  So I switched to a third person, but let each sister own their own chapters.  It worked so much better but I had to answer that pressing question, who is the main character?


I’m the eldest in my family and I’m the one who likes to plan – so my preference was Charlotte of course. But Emily was so much more fun! And if there’s to be a romance (and in these literary mysteries there is always a hint of some love in the air) Emily seems the more likely candidate. So Emily won out by a hair – Charlotte has adventures, but Emily is the main player.

Charlotte quite reasonably resents her sister’s lack of responsibilities. And how aggravating that Emily is the sister that attracts the masculine attention that Charlotte craved. More than once Charlotte mutters, “Emily, it’s always Emily.”

My editor and I liked this as a title because it sounds so romantic – but really it’s the lament of the plainer, older, duller sister. It’s always Emily!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to have you visit at , or follow me on Twitter at @MichaelaMacColl or check out Author Michaela MacColl on Facebook.


Read an excerpt at

CCSS-Aligned Discussion/Teacher’s Guide at

Win a signed copy of Always Emily!

Leave a comment, including your email address, for a chance to win an autographed copy of Always Emily by Michaela MacColl!


  • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older and reside in the U.S. or Canada.
  • Giveaway ends 11:59 PM EST on May 1, 2014.
  • Winner will be notified by email and have 72 hours to claim the prize.
  • Prize will be shipped directly to the winner by the author or her representative.
  • This blog is not responsible for items lost or damaged in shipment.
  • Void where prohibited.


Coming Soon from Chronicle Books!

Here are three titles I received this week. They are coming in April and May from Chronicle Books.


When Bryce Billings says he will clobber Fish Finelli in the Captain Kidd Classic boat race, Fish has no choice but to accept the bet. But Fish’s 1970s Whaler with a broken motor is no match for Bryce’s new, top-of-the-line, 9.9-horsepower Viper—even if Fish, Roger, and T. J. can fix their measly 5-horsepower motor, it can’t compete with Bryce’s boat. With $9.63 between them, do the guys even have a chance at the Classic? A hilarious romp, filled with fun facts seamlessly integrated into the story, Fish Finelli informs as much as it entertains for perfect middle-grade reading.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Series: Fish Finelli
Hardcover: 172 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1452110832
ISBN-13: 978-1452110837

Armani Curtis can think about only one thing: her tenth birthday. All her friends are coming to her party, her mama is making a big cake, and she has a good feeling about a certain9781452124568_upside-down-in-the-middle-of-nowhere_large wrapped box. Turning ten is a big deal to Armani. It means she’s older, wiser, more responsible. But when Hurricane Katrina hits the Lower Nines of New Orleans, Armani realizes that being ten means being brave, watching loved ones die, and mustering all her strength to help her family weather the storm. A powerful story of courage and survival, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere celebrates the miraculous power of hope and love in the face of the unthinkable.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 8, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1452124566
ISBN-13: 978-1452124568


As befits a future President of the United States of America, Maggie Mayfield has decided to write a memoir of the past year of her life. And what a banner year it’s been! During this period she’s Student of the Month on a regular basis, an official shareholder of Coca-Cola stock, and defending Science Fair champion. Most importantly, though, this is the year Maggie has to pull up her bootstraps (the family motto) and finally learn why her cool-dude dad is in a wheelchair, no matter how scary that is. Author Megan Jean Sovern, herself the daughter of a dad with multiple sclerosis, writes with the funny grace and assured prose of a new literary star.

A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book will be donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (May 6, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1452110212
ISBN-13: 978-1452110219

Best of Summer 2013 Kid Lit Giveaway Hop

Best of Summer 2013 Kid Lit Giveaway Hop - Button

The Best of Summer 2013 Kid Lit Giveaway Hop is hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews. Kid lit bloggers, teen lit blogger, authors, and publishers are coming together to share their favorite books of the summer!

The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection is giving away a hardcover copy of Nobody’s Secret, a novel of intrigue and romance by Michaela MacColl. This is the first book in a MacColl’s new series that imagines great literary figures as teenage crime solvers.


One day, fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson meets a mysterious, handsome young man. Surprisingly, he doesn’t seem to know who she or her family is. And even more surprisingly, he playfully refuses to divulge his name. Emily enjoys her secret flirtation with Mr. “Nobody” until he turns up dead in her family’s pond. She’s stricken with guilt. Only Emily can discover who this enigmatic stranger was before he’s condemned to be buried in an anonymous grave. Her investigation takes her deep into town secrets, blossoming romance, and deadly danger. Exquisitely written and meticulously researched, this novel celebrates Emily Dickinson’s intellect and spunk in a page-turner of a book that will excite fans of mystery, romance, and poetry alike.

Enter for your chance to win this book

Leave a comment answering the following statement: “My favorite children’s book is….”


  • This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada who are 18 years of age or older.
  • Prize will be shipped to the winner via USPS.
  • Only comments including an email address are eligible to win.
  • Giveaway runs from 12:00 AM EST on August 25, 2013 to 11:59 PM EST on September 6, 2013.
  • Winner will be notified by email. Winner has 72 hours to respond with mailing address before a new winner is selected.
  • The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection is not responsible for items lost or damaged in shipment.

Good luck!

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Interview with Michaela MacColl, Author of Nobody’s Secret

imagesCAVTYJWPMichaela MacColl studied multidisciplinary history at Vassar College and Yale University, which turns out to be the perfect degree for writing historical fiction. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and three extremely large cats in Connecticut. To learn more about her work, please visit 

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Albany NY.

When did you begin writing?

I began writing about 12 years ago. I was traveling with my young kids in Italy and trying to get them interested in the places we were seeing (with poor results). I started to think about writing historical fiction about particular places. My goals and style evolved – but I still consider setting to be an important “character” in my work.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

I hate this question! I wish I was more disciplined than I am. I basically write to deadlines. I have a wonderful critique group who meet weekly. That’s my impetus most weeks. Of course now I have contracts and deadlines with my publishers. But guilt is usually my driver!

What is this book about?

Nobody’s Secret is a literary mystery starring Emily Dickinson. I started with the premise that Emily might be a brilliant natural detective – she’s a born observer (just read her poems about nature) and she questions authority. She feels passionately about life and knows how to mourn death. I knew that if I gave her something to care about, a mystery to solve and an injustice to right, she would never ever stop.

What inspired you to write it?nobody

It’s based on a poem, “I’m Nobody, Who are You? Are you Nobody too?” It’s one of my favorites of hers. The poem seems to sum up all her frustration with being the daughter of a important person when all she wants is anonymity. When she meets a handsome stranger, who also desires anonymity, they are immediately attracted to each other. Mr. Nobody, as Emily calls him, is just the kind of hero that Emily might fall in love with.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

Well, I loved writing Emily. It’s such a daunting task to try and write a character based on a true person – particularly a brilliant writer like Emily. But once I found a voice for her that I liked, it was easy! On the other hand, I was a little bit in love with Mr. Nobody.

Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?

When I had the idea to write a literary mystery with Emily Dickinson, I first envisioned a series of books with her as my “detective.” To be honest, I was hoping to cut down on the amount of research I had to do with every book. I pitched the idea to my very very smart editor, Victoria Rock. She responded by suggesting that Emily might not be sustainable as a series – but what did I think of a series of mysteries about different writers, with their own settings, time periods and of course literary style. In other words, four times the research!

I’ve finished the next one already, a novel about the Bronte sisters. And as she usually is, Victoria was right. It was a delight to learn about these writers and immerse myself in their work. Hopefully readers will find the idea as fun as I do.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book? If yes, where can readers find it?

There is a really fun trailer for Nobody’s Secret. You can find it on my website,

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

It was a long time between starting to write in 2000 before being published in 2010 (to be fair, I sold the book in late 2008). You have to be stubborn and keep writing. And reading. Consistent writing and reading is the best way to improve your craft.

The Templeton Twins Have An Idea Winner!


Sorry I am so late in announcing this. Life has gotten crazy the past couple of months. It’s almost over, though, since the writers conference is Saturday and the Lil Diva’s cheerleading and the Lil Princess’ soccer will be over at the end of the month.

Congratulations goes out to Alice. She won a copy of The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner. I’ll email her now.

Thanks to all who participated.