Monday, August 25, 2014

Emily Ungar, Author of LIBERTY BELLE, Guest Posts Today!

Today, we have a special guest with us -- Emily Ungar, author of the middle grade novel LIBERTY BELLE, which was just released on August 12.

You can learn more about LIBERTY BELLE below, but first, Emily's here to talk about her favorite childhood books:

I really enjoyed Shelley’s recent post on favorite childhood books. As soon as I saw her image of those familiar worn covers, I felt an instant comfort. I loved all of the Beverly Cleary books, Boxcar Children, Babysitters Club, Sleepover Friends, The Gymnasts...I could go on forever! Books have always been an incredible source of comfort for me. Back when I had more time, I prided myself on alphabetically organizing my bookshelf, and within the alphabet I would also organize by series. Because my family moved around a lot, books were things I could take with me that made me feel like I was at home no matter where we were living.

I’d like to share some of my favorite middle grade series and why I fell in love with each:

The Sleepover Friends (by Susan Saunders)

This was a lesser-known series, but I loved it. It was a contemporary book about 4 friends. One wanted to be a famous film director. Another only wore outfits with red, black, and white. It’s funny the little details about people that we remember. Reading this series as a 10-year-old gave a glimpse into the splendor of teenhood--shopping in the juniors’ section, wearing yellow leg warmers (eeek!), and roller skating on Friday nights.

Babysitters Club (by Ann M. Martin)

This series is classic for anyone born into the late 70s or early 80s. You have a terrific cast of characters, strong plotlines, and no shortage of babysitting drama. Plus, how cool was it that Dawn was (as she called it) “bicoastal?” The idea of living on both coasts was pretty exotic!

The Gymnasts (by Elizabeth Levy)

I wasn’t a gymnast. In fact, I’m terrified of even doing a somersault. But there was something awesome about the group of young gymnasts who competed in events and did things I couldn’t do, like rub chalk on their hands and fly around on the uneven bars or do a back handspring from a vault. Plus, in the Halloween edition there was a gymnast in a hot dog costume. Now what other book can boast that?

The Mandie Books (by Lois Gladys Leppard)

I didn’t read too many historical books as a middle grader, but I loved the Mandie books. The main character was a turn-of-the-century girl who along with her beloved Uncle Ned solved many mysteries. It was a really sweet and suspenseful series that I read over and over again.

There are so many other series and standalone books that I adored, and I wish I’d kept more of them like Shelley did. Thanks for walking down memory lane with me, and I urge you to revisit those innocent childhood reading days of reading your favorite book under the covers with a flashlight!

Thank you for sharing, Emily! I hadn't read the Gymnasts or the Mandie books, but I loved the others.

Here's more about Emily and her fantastic-looking book, which I've read the beginning of and can't wait to read more:

On the same day she turns twelve years old, Savannah moves away from everything she’s known in sweet, sunny Georgia to preppy Washington D.C. Not only will she miss her best friends Katie and Tessa, Savannah will start a new school. She soon discovers that her schoolmates love to brag—about their clothes, their parents’ governmental connections, and even who has the in with the school authorities.

Unhappy and lonely, Savannah decides if she can’t make life better, she can at least make it sound that way. Soon she is living in the childhood home of George Washington, riding in the limo of the vice president’s daughter, and even moving into the former Luxembourg embassy.

All is well until she learns that her true friends from Georgia are coming for a visit. Now Savannah must create the life she’s been talking about in her letters—and fast! Will Savannah find herself or lose her friends?

Buy the book here:


And also check it out here:

Anaiah Press:

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About Emily:

Emily Ungar is a graduate of Indiana University, where she majored in journalism. After living in seven different U.S. states by the time she finished college, she now lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband and very curious twin toddlers. When she isn’t chasing after her twin boys, Emily loves to curl up in a chaise lounge with a book in one hand and a lemon cupcake in the other. Emily loves connecting with her readers, so she welcomes you to say hi on her blog at

Twitter: @emilyungar

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dear Old Friends, AKA Childhood Books

During one of my most recent trips visiting my mom, I had the pleasure of going through an old box of books.

It felt like reuniting with old friends!

These were just some of the familiar faces I saw. I wanted to hug them.

Perhaps my favorite discovery was the very first book I'd ever read on my own (besides picture books and early readers): Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary

I remember sitting at my desk in first grade and opening this book for the first time. My teacher (one of the best teachers I'd ever had) praised me for challenging myself and reading above grade level. She pointed out that I was the only one in my class who wasn't reading a picture book during silent reading time.

This beloved book has my name on the inside cover AND includes little check marks next to each chapter title in the table of contents. It must have been quite a task to finish my very first non-picture book!

Which books were special to you when you were little? Did you happen to keep any books from your childhood?

(Please note that this is a scheduled post. I'm not around today to visit blogs, but I'll see you guys as soon as I can.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Writing With Chronic Illness

Hey everyone, before I point you in the direction of Misha Gericke's blog, where I'm a guest today, I'd like to share one thing:

My book, Wishing for Washington, has been entered in a contest held by IndieReCon. The category is Best Middle Grade Book of 2014. If you feel like voting for Wishing for Washington, that would be way awesome and I'd be your friend forever:

Anyway, onto today's topic...

I'm at Misha Gericke's blog today, talking about ways I manage to keep writing while chronically ill. Please feel free to check it out at:

Misha's got a very engaging and popular blog, so I encourage you guys to check out the other posts, too!

See you over there!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hello from the Revision Cave

It's dark in here.

I knew my manuscript needed work, but I didn't realize how much.

So. Much.

It's funny, before I started writing seriously, back when I was just scribbling down stories for fun and only sharing them with a few people, I didn't realize how exhausting and arduous the editing process is. I thought it was just like the editing process we had in English class:

Step 1: The teacher reads what you've written and crosses out misspelled words, adds in punctuation marks you missed, etc.
Step 2: You write a new draft, incorporating those changes.
Step 3: You're done.


I had a conversation recently, in the past few months, with someone who thought the same thing. This person isn't a writer, and they thought when I said I was editing for days, that all I was doing was checking for minor errors. Which is a part of the revision process, yes. But what I happened to be working on was not as simple. It's more like:

Step 1: Receive notes from critique partners and consider their suggestions.
Step 2: Rewrite your first chapter.
Step 3: Take out that scene later in the story that your CPs said wasn't working and write something new in its place.
Step 4: Rewrite your first chapter again.
Step 5: Change your character's reaction to an event based on the new scene you wrote.
Step 6: Now revise all of the later chapters based on the character's new reaction.
Step 7: Rewrite your first chapter again.

And it keeps going.

Never mind all the grammatical edits that happen later on.

But you know, I'm okay with being smack in the middle of this misunderstood and complicated process. I'm okay with wanting to rip my hair out because I can't think of a way to make this scene work. (Please remind me later that I said this, okay?) It's part of my job.

If this is a "rough day at work," I'll take it. Because this is something that writers can, and do, get through.

Anyone have any tales from the revision cave?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

All Of Your Questions, Answered!

This week, my critique partner and friend, Kristi Wientge, interviewed me on her blog. She's a fantastic person and everything you could hope for in a CP, so I encourage you all to go visit her at Moments-n-between:

It was SO kind of her to do this, and she came up with some superb questions! Just a warning: my answers are a little on the long and rambling side. But we've covered pretty much everything. If there's anything you've wanted to know about the process of publishing Wishing for Washington, this interview is where you'll find it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Way You Talk

Have you ever been in a conversation -- or overheard a conversation -- and heard someone say a phrase or word that just sticks with you?

When I was in college, I had a philosophy professor who had a very quirky way of describing things. He was an older gentleman, very kind and easy-going (and very forgetful... he gave us the same assignment a few times in a row... oops.)

We worked in groups in that class, and when my group (3 other girls and myself) was finished with our work, we'd talk and talk. Sometimes our discussions got lively and full of dramatic storytelling. Every time our professor walked by and heard us gabbing away, he'd always say the same thing:

"So much drama! What is this, the soaps?"

And we'd all laugh with him.

The soaps?

I love it. It was such a part of my professor's character to describe things like that. I wouldn't have immediately thought of soap operas when overhearing college students talking dramatically, but he did.

Something made me think of that class the other day, and I realized how we all have our ways of talking that are specific to us. I'm sure I have plenty of quirks that I'm not aware of. And if you're a writer, it's a good idea to be mindful of characters' vocabularies and preferred phrases, too.

What are some peculiar or interesting phrases that you've heard?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review of WISH YOU WEREN'T by Sherrie Petersen

If you love Middle Grade, love science and space, and love to be taken on an adventure, then please -- read this book!

A summary of the book, taken from

Marten doesn't believe in the power of wishes. None of his have ever come true. His parents ignore him, his little brother is a pain and his family is talking about moving to Texas. Not cool. So when he makes an impulsive wish during a meteor shower, he doesn't expect it to make any difference.

Until his annoying brother disappears.

With the present uncertain and his brother’s future in limbo, Marten finds himself stuck in his past. And if he runs out of time, even wishes might not be enough to save the ones he loves.

WISH YOU WEREN'T by Sherrie Petersen is the kind of book that stays in my mind long after I've read it. The characters were very real to me and their dialogue was fun and humorous. Marten, the main character, is easy to relate to, and his little brother is exactly the kind of little brother you'd see in real life (you know, cute and annoying at the same time.) I think my favorite character was Marten's best friend, Paul, who reminds me a bit of myself. I enjoyed the characters' adventure and can't wait to read more by the author!

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, and highly recommend it!

Check out the book on Amazon here, or learn more at Sherrie's website.
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