Thinking in Threes: Triple MG Interview


Today on the blog, we’re featuring triplet debut authors Jill Diamond, Elly Swartz, and our own Elaine Vickers! These three authors’ books were released just this week, and they each agreed to answer three of our interview questions. Bonus: They also agreed to do a giveaway! Check the end of the post to find out how you could win a critique from all three authors. But first, the interview…

finding-perfectWhere did your initial story idea come from?

Elly Swartz, author of Finding PerfectOne day, I woke-up with Molly in my head, and she wouldn’t leave until I told her story. At the time, I knew a number of adults and kids whom I was very close with who had OCD. I was awed by the disconnect between how they saw themselves and the world saw them. I then spent the next 7 years researching OCD, writing Molly’s story, and working with OCD pediatric specialists to authenticate the manifestation, discovery and treatment of Molly’s symptoms. Between research and the writing, I learned so much from Molly. She has stayed with me long after wrapping up my final draft. Truly, I think a piece of Molly will stay with me always.

Jill Diamond, author of Lou Lou and Pea and the Mural MysteryI actually came up with Lou Lou and Pea’s names before anything else. I adore naming things! After that, I knew I wanted to write a story inspired by the people, traditions, art, and culture that I love about my neighborhood, the Mission District in San Francisco. I also knew I wanted it to be a mystery and a friendship story. It all kind of fell into place from there, and Lou Lou and Pea were born!

Elaine Vickers, author of Like MagicFrom an editor’s tweet to an agent. (Neither of whom I ended up working with! So you’re not wasting your time on Twitter, folks. 🙂 There was an article about an American Girl doll being checked out from the New York Public Library that this agent and editor felt would make a great middle grade novel. I agreed, and I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I wrote the story. The doll was replaced by a hollowed-out book box after several revisions, but that tweet and that article started it all.

lm-coverTo whom is your book dedicated, and why did you choose that particular dedication line?

Elaine: My dedication line reads:

for my mom

and my daughters

who make my life

like magic

Like Magic is a story of connection—between friends, but also between mothers and daughters. My mom has been my greatest support all my life—the kind of mom I hope to be for my own daughters. So it felt just right to dedicate it to them.

Jill: My dedication line reads:

For Nancy Diamond, known to her students as The Best Librarian in the Whole Wide World, known to me as Mom

I dedicated the book to my mom because it could never have existed without her. My mom was an elementary school librarian and a true champion of children’s literature. I began working on the book when I was caring for her during a terminal illness. I thought it was a fitting way to honor her, particularly because my mom greatly influenced my love of both reading and creative writing.

My dedication line says, “To James, Joshua and Gregory. You make my heart smile every day. I love you.” James is my husband of 26 years, and Joshua and Gregory are our sons. I dedicated this book to them as they are truly my whole heart. On this long journey to YES, their belief in me never wavered. They make me proud and so very happy. I am beyond grateful. And lucky.

lou-louWhat is the best reader response you’ve ever had for this book?

Jill: My favorite feedback thus far was from someone who won an ARC of LOU LOU AND PEA in a raffle. She tweeted: “My daughter LOVED Lou Lou & Pea! She gobbled it up in one night, told me it was super funny (her highest praise), and said she wants to learn Spanish. So – THANK YOU!”

Elly: I had the privilege of Skyping with a class whose teacher had an arc of Finding Perfect that she had read aloud to all of her students. When we Skyped, we spoke a lot about Molly and her unattainable definition of perfect. In response, this fourth grader shared his interpretation of what perfect meant to him after reading Molly’s story and participating in our discussion. I was truly moved.


Elaine: When I read this book to my daughter for the first time, she surprised me with a Lego recreation of a key scene in the book. I think it will be hard for anything to top that, ever.


And now for the best part…

Click here to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway and win a critique of the first five pages of your MG or YA manuscript by Elaine Vickers, Elly Swartz, and Jill Diamond!

Good luck!

JillDiamond_Headshot.pngJill Diamond has loved children’s literature for as long as she can remember, thanks to her school librarian mother and the long, cold winters in Maine. When she’s not writing, Jill practices law, dreams about her next travels, eats soft serve ice cream, and wears cowboy boots. Jill now lives in San Francisco with her husband and their son. Visit her at or on Twitter @jillinboots

ellyElly Swartz’s debut novel, Finding Perfect (FSG) is about twelve-year-old Molly, friendships, family, OCD, and a slam poetry competition that will determine everything. Through the years, Elly’s been a Sesame Place ride operator, messenger, lawyer, legal author, and college essay adviser. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband, two sons and beagle named Lucy. If you want to connect with Elly or learn more about what she’s working on, you can find her at, on Twitter @ellyswartz or Facebook.

profile-picElaine Vickers is the author of Like Magic (HarperCollins) and loves writing middle grade and chapter books when she’s not teaching college chemistry or hanging out with her fabulous family. You can find her at on the web, @ElaineBVickers on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, or generally anywhere there are books and/or food for her consumption.

Thinking in Threes: Brenda Drake and Touching Fate

Many of you may know Brenda Drake as the mastermind behind such online contests as Pitch Madness, #pitmad, and Pitch Wars. She’s an incredible supporter of writers of all genres, as well as a writer herself, and I am thrilled to be part of the book tour for her new release, TOUCHING FATE.

Since I have Brenda on the blog, I also wanted to do a quick Thinking in Threes feature with her. Read on to find out more about her cool new book and an amazing giveaway (Kindle Fire!)

Where are the top three places you love to write?

The top three places I love to write are at my desk top, on my treadmill desk (the hubby built it), or in a coffee shop or book store coffee shop.  

Planner, Pantser or Hybrid? Give us three insights into your drafting process.

 I would say I’m a hybrid. I prepare graphs for both the external and internal plots for the book. I also like to have a “cheat” notebook filled with pics of characters and settings in the book. Music plays a big role in getting my graphs together and setting the mood for the story.

What are the top three movies based on books that you would recommend?

This is so easy. The Harry Potter movies, The Hunger Games movies, and the Divergent movies. Loved them all!

Touching Fate
Touching Fate (The Fated #1)
Release Date: 10/13/15
Entangled Teen: Crave
Summary from Goodreads:
Aster Layne believes in physics, not psychics. A tarot card reading on the Ocean City Boardwalk should have been a ridiculous, just-for-fun thing. It wasn’t. Aster discovers she has a very unscientific gift—with a simple touch of the cards, she can change a person’s fate.
Reese Van Buren is cursed. Like the kind of old-school, centuries-old curse that runs in royal families. Every firstborn son is doomed to die on his eighteenth birthday—and Reese’s is coming up fast. Bummer. He tries to distract himself from his inevitable death…only to find the one person who can save him.
Aster doesn’t know that the hot Dutch guy she’s just met needs her help–or that he’s about to die.
But worst of all…she doesn’t know that her new gift comes with dark, dark consequences that can harm everyone she loves.
Find the book at: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and Entangled
About the Author
Brenda Drake Author Photo1Brenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).
Author Links:
Fire HD 7, 7″ HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB US/Canada or $100 Amazon Card if the winner is international

a Rafflecopter giveaway//

Book Tour Organized by:
YA Bound Book Tours


Rosalyn Eves is a part-time writer, part-time English professor, and full-time mother of three. She loves all things BBC, especially costume dramas and mysteries. When not wrangling children (and sometimes when she should be wrangling children), she’s often found reading. Her debut novel, THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, is forthcoming Fall 2016 from Knopf. She’s represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.


Self-editing resources for writers and book GIVEAWAY!

E is for Editing.
E can be for Exciting.
(E doesn’t have to be for Evil.)

Ah, the dreaded editing process. No writer is exempt, and if you love to write, this is one of the most important steps for making your words shiny and beautiful. Some of you may publish with a smaller press, for which it’s becoming more and more common for you to have to do your own editing/hire your own editor prior to submission. Or perhaps you are self-publishing (like me), in which case it’s essential that you edit your work/hire an editor prior to hitting that exciting “submit” button. Others of you may publish through presses that employ their own editors, but you can minimize the types of editorial changes you have to make if you know how to edit your own work prior to submission. Or perhaps you’re thinking of submitting your MS to agents, entering in a contest, or sending out ARCs for early reviews. A well-edited manuscript will receive a much better response than one that is…well, not.

Regardless of the route you take to publishing, editing is a necessary step in the writing process.

My Short List of Self-editing Resources

Books about editing: If you are like me, you prefer to read stories and not spend a lot of time reading about writing. 🙂 However, there are a few books out there that I consider gems as reference material. Contrary to the image above, you DO NOT need a stack of these, but either one of the following is a GREAT resource for editing:

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
Purchase links are provided so you may view more about each book
Keep scrolling to the bottom if you would like a chance to win one of my faves!

On-line resources: For when you’re not sure about that grammar rule and need to look it up in a pinch. When in doubt, LOOK IT UP, better safe than sorry, and all of those things your mother probably told you. There are a few great on-line resources for grammar, and I’ve found the following two sites especially to be reliable and accurate:

For example:

When should I hyphenate two words? When should I leave them the heck alone? 
See what Grammarist has to say.

Is there a difference between “blond” and “blonde”? 
See what Grammar Girl has to say.

Is the phrase “in the process of” necessary? 
See what Grammarist has to say.

Do I use “lie,” “lay,” “laid,” or “lain,” and OMG, can I go back in time and throttle the people who came up with these things? 
See what Grammar Girl has to say (about the former question, anyhow).

Did I use that comma correctly? Do I have too many? 
See what Grammarist has to say.

Let’s eat George.
Let’s eat, George.

Psst! Punctuation saves lives.

What about you? Do you have any other favorite self-editing resources? Comment below if you do, and thank you for sharing!
Oh, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! 
(for U.S. addresses only due to shipping costs)