Writing quote

Sure, it's simple writing for kids...Just as simple as raising them.
— Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, October 29, 2012


   The winner of the Beach Bound Books Sacajawea book giveaway is: LOUISE HENRIKSEN! Congratulations, Louise, and thanks for participating.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Picture   Beach Bound Books reviews Sacajawea of the Shoshone. Stacie Theis says, "Natasha Yim's proficient knowledge of Sacajawea shines through in her writing, and certainly makes a certain part of American history enjoyable." Answer the question, "If you could ask Sacajawea a question, what would it be?" for a chance at winning a free, signed copy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


    What did Sacajawea use for diapers for little Pomp? What was the favorite food of the Corps of Discovery on their westward journey? Check out the answers on Elizabeth Stevens Omlor's blog, Banana Peelin': The Ups and Downs of Becoming a Children's Writer. On today's Sacajawea of the Shoshone blog tour stop, I share with Elizabeth's readers some strange but true facts of Sacajawea and the Lewis and Clark expedition that did not make it into the book.


Monday, October 22, 2012


  The Sacajawea of the Shoshone blog tour stops at the Highlighted Author website today where hostess Charlene Wilson and I chat about where inspiration comes from, what it's like to share my books at schools and other public appearances, and who my greatest supporters are.

Follow the Sacajawea Journey! Stop in at Elizabeth Omlor's Banana Peelin' blog tomorrow to find out what weird and interesting facts did not make it into the book!

Saturday, October 20, 2012



 The Sacajawea of the Shoshone blog tour continues today on Margot Finke's wonderful Hook Kids on Reading blog in which I reveal my greatest fear, never before shared with anyone outside of my family. Yes, we writers have lots of strange and unexplained quirks! 

Follow the Sacajawea Journey!

Friday, October 19, 2012


   Susanna Hill, my lovely blog tour hostess on Oct. 15, has reviewed Sacajawea of the Shoshone, announced the winner of the Sacajawea book giveaway, and given me a blog award. Wow!  Thanks, Susanna! 

   What Susanna says about Sacajawea of the Shoshone: "The text is clearly written and includes a lot of information I didn't know about Sacajawea and the Lewis and Clark expedition. I especially loved the side bar type sections which gave extra interesting information about certain things, like the spelling of Sacajawea's name, what she ate, and how she got chosen for the Lewis and Clark expedition. The art is beautiful - a combination of painting and photography that works very well. And I like that this book is a title in the Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses and includes a bibliography of sources." Read the entire review here
   The winner of the Sacajawea book Giveaway is VIVIAN! Congratulations, Vivian. The winner was chosen at random through random.org, but Vivian got her name in the mix by posting two hilarious Sacajawea article ideas in the comments: Coping with PMS While Portaging, and Fun Projects using Natural Materials from Prairies and Plains. Love the alliteration. Brilliant! Thanks for your innovativeness Vivian, and for stopping by my blog tour. Thank you too to ALL of you who came by to read the interview, and participated in the giveaway. I'm awed by your creativity and humor.
   Now, for the award. I'm terrible at the passing it forward part because I still have to nominate my blogs for the Sunshine Blog Awards which I got waaaayyyy back when from Elizabeth Stevens Omlor. So sad, but true. I'm like Susanna. There're so many good blogs out there, it's hard to decide. But here are the rules of the One Sweet Blog and Super-Sweet Blogging awards:

1. Give credit to the person who chose you (Susanna Leonard Hill)
2. Answer the 5 Super Sweet questions below and,
3. Nominate a Baker's Dozen (13 blogs)

1. Cookies or Cake? Cookies.
2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Most definitely chocolate.
3. What is your favorite sweet treat? Cheesecake. Can't resist a good cheesecake.
4. When do you crave sweets the most? After dinner.
5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? Sweetie Pie. Okay, that's not very original, but it's...sweet.

And here are my nominations:

All the bloggers who have hosted or are going to host a blog tour stop on the Sacajawea of the Shoshone Blog Tour!

Heather Ayris Burnell, Frolicking Through Cyberspace
Raychelle Muhammad, Rachelle Writes
Chris Henderson, The Write Chris
Susanna Leonard Hill, Susanna Hill's blog (Can you pass the award back to someone who passed it to you?)
Margot Finke, Hook Kids on Reading
Charlene Wilson, Highlighted Author
Elizabeth Stevens Omlor, Banana Peelin': The Ups and Downs of Becoming a Children's Writer
Stacie Theis, Beach Bound Books
Jody Gehrman, Jody Gehrman's blog

There, my Baker's Dozen—I'm learning to count like Susanna!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


   Halloween is fast approaching. Bet you can't guess who I'm going as. What? That was amazing! SACAJAWEA...how did you guess? Yep, I've already unveiled the costume at the Sonoma County Book Festival and will do it again tomorrow when I'll be reading to a group of second graders. How fun is that? But why stop there? Let the fun continue! It'll be a real kick if there were a bunch of Sacajaweas running around on All Hallow's Eve. Let's give those witches and goblins and spooks a run for their money! So, if you're still hunting for a Halloween costume idea, how about dressing up as this amazing Native American princess? Why am I rambling on about Sacajawea costumes? Because it can win you a prize, that's why! 
   Enter the Sacajawea Halloween Contest! If you have a Native American costume or decide to dress up in one for Halloween, take a picture and send it to me. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, come to the Goosebottom Books Launch in San Mateo on Oct. 28, 4 pm. at Reach and Teach bookstore. It's a Halloween-themed launch with spooky treats, authors dressed in costumes, and a scary story reading competition based on Shirin Bridges' Horrible Hauntings (Goosebottom Books, 2012), and it promises to be a blast. Come dressed as Sacajawea or any Native American costume, and you get TWO entries for the contest. The prize? A free signed copy of Sacajawea of the Shoshone and a free Skype author visit (or in person visit if you live in Mendocino, Lake or Sonoma County)! The winner will be selected randomly by random.org and unveiled the day after Halloween on Nov. 1st.
   So, join the Halloween fun and win a prize. Just email me pictures of you dressed up as Sacajawea. I'll start it off. Here's a picture of me in my Sacajawea costume.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012


   Thank you Redwood Writers for an awesome Author Book Launch celebration. I feel so honored to be part of this group of supportive and dedicated writers. Each book launch author was introduced by another Redwood Writer member, and I want to thank Jean Wong for her fabulous and in-depth introduction. Congratulations to all the authors on the birth of their books! Looking forward to seeing you all at the next Redwood Writers meeting.

Redwood Writers Author Launch celebration

Reading an excerpt of Sacajawea of the Shoshone


   Woo Hoo! Sacajawea of the Shoshone has been nominated for the prestigious American Library Association's (ALA) Amelia Bloomer Project! The Amelia Bloomer Project is a "list that presents well-written and illustrated books with strong feminist messages published in the past 18 months that are recommended for young people from birth through eighteen years of age. It is a list of quality fiction and nonfiction titles that affirm positive roles for girls and women." What an honor!

Monday, October 15, 2012


   Sacajawea of the Shoshone makes its 4th blog tour stop at children's book author Susannah Hill's blog. Susannah has created a supremely fun and entertaining idea for the book giveaway. So, for your chance to win a free signed copy of Sacajawea of the Shoshone, post a comment and answer the question, "If you were Sacajawea, what would you write an article/advice column about?" Hop on over to read some of the hilarious and outrageous entries! Join the fun. Be creative! Be wacky! Be way, way, way over the top. We love it! The winner will be randomly selected through random.org, and announced on Wednesday, Oct. 17 or Thursday, Oct 18.

Sacajawea being kidnapped by Hidatsa warrior,
from Sacajawea of the Shoshone


Saturday, October 13, 2012


   Okay, I admit it. Sometimes, I Google myself...or my books. Not because I have some self-obsessed need to see how often I come up in a Google search...okay, maybe just a little...But sometimes, I uncover interesting things that happen in relation to my books that I never knew about. Like the time a library in Maryland used Otto's Rainy Day as their featured book for a Springtime event and conducted rainy day art projects around it. How cool was that? 
   So, in Googling Cixi, The Dragon Empress the other day, I came upon two great reviews that I hadn't seen before. Catholic Lane's The Book Browser said, "This book is engrossing and will capture the minds of young girls, making history interesting and fun.", while the South Sound Book Review Council called it, "fascinating and well-written, this book informed me about a figure from history that I knew nothing about."
   Can you say, "Make my day!"?

Friday, October 12, 2012


Welcome to Friday Features! This is where you'll find interviews and guest blogs with and by other authors of juvenile fiction. If you're interested in being one of my guest authors, please email me.

   Today's guest author is Ginny Rorby, award-winning author of Dolphin Sky, Hurt Go Happy, The Outside of a Horse, and 2011's Lost in the River of Grass. Ginny shares with us her unusual route to publishing, her writing process, and her involvement with the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference.
    Some of us have had some inkling that we wanted to be writers from an early age.
Others, like Ginny, stumbled upon this career path quite by chance. She was a flight attendant with National Airlines, then Pan Am for twenty-three years, and writing never even crossed her mind.
   A former junior College drop-out, and a terrible English student in High School, Ginny went back to college in her thirties, attending classes during the week and working the London flights on the weekends. She would do her homework in the galley with her books spread out in front of the ovens. Ginny received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and English from the University of Miami and eventually an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University.

1. You kind of stumbled upon writing by chance. Can you tell us a little about that and how you became a writer?

  English was my worst subject in high school, so becoming a writer never so much as crossed my mind until I was in my late thirties. In 1981, I wrote a letter to the owners of the dog a friend of mine found. She was young, skin and bones with no fur left on her body except for a single long patch down the back of her neck. Maggots lived in the open sores on her sides, her eyes were diseased and opaque, her head and ears were bloody from her miserable digging at the fleas, flies drank at the discharge from her eyes. I wrote her owners a letter describing how her life ended. Of course, I had no one to send it to, so it stayed folded in a pocket of my purse for a year.  
In early August 1982, I was in the offices of the Miami News and, while waiting for the editor, I began cleaning out my purse and found the letter I’d written about the dog. I scrawled, We Found Your Dog, at the top of the page and gave it to the woman who came to review the pictures I’d brought to show her.   
The next day an editor with the News called my home and left a message with my husband—a single sentence. “Tell her if she can write like that, we’ll publish anything she writes.”
Because of that phone call, on a whim, I signed up for a creative writing class at the University of Miami. Eventually, with the encouragement of Evelyn Wilde Mayerson and Lester Goran, and a pat or two on the head by Isaac Bashevis Singer and James Michener I was, by 1985, committed to becoming a writer and had begun work on the novel that would eventually become DOLPHIN SKY.  

2. Why Young Adult? What is it about this world/POV that interests you?

   I’d never heard of YA or Middle Grade as a genre before being proclaimed a YA/MG writer, but then I wasn’t part of the writing community. My agent sent DOLPHIN SKY to 6 editors of adult fiction, all of whom sent it back with the same snappy little comment, “This is not adult fiction.” 
   DS is the story of a young girl’s friendship with a pair of dolphins that were kept in a freshwater pond as part of roadside tourist attraction in the Everglades. After that initial round of rejections I rewrote it, taking out the sex scene between her father and a visiting research biologist, and my agent started submitting it to editors of children’s fiction. Eight rejections later it finally sold.  

 3. What books are you reading or on your reading list at the moment and why?

I just finished reading What a Plant Knows as part of the ongoing research for a YA novel I’ve been writing based on the 1974 book, The Secret Life of Plants. For pleasure reading, I just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and am about half-way through Longitude

4. Are you an outliner or a pantser (fly by the seat of your pants writer)? Tell us a little   
     about your writing process when starting a new book. 

I think I’m a little of both. I really need a fully formed plot in my head before I start the research, then I crack my knuckles, wiggle my arms, shake my legs and let the research and the stories I pick up in the process, inform the track the novel takes. In THE OUTSIDE OF A HORSE, every scene is based in fact. I maintained the original concept for the story like the background of a painting, and then layered in the details. 

DOLPHIN SKY and HURT GO HAPPY both came into my head fully plotted, but I remained open to changing what didn’t work, and working in new information as it presented itself. As for LOST IN THE RIVER OF GRASS, I stole the entire story from my husband. He’s the one who sank his airboat while showing off for an ex-girlfriend, and together they walked out of the Everglades. I did turn it into YA, so the school field trip to the Everglades is basically the only fictional part. 

5. How did you become involved with the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference? 

I volunteered to help find housing for presenters in 1996. When Marlis Broadhead who started the conference in 1989, moved to Oklahoma, Suzanne Byerley and I stepped forward. She and I ran it for the next 9 years until she moved to Ohio. We turned it over to Charlotte Gullick for a couple of years until she left to run a community college Creative Writing program in Austin, TX. Maureen Eppstein took over as director and here we are—ready to celebrate our 24th year in 2013. 

6. What writing tips would you offer aspiring writers of young adult fiction?

Tap into your teen-aged angst. I remember how small my world was, and how every crisis seemed like something I would never get over. I have an ambylopic (a lazy) eye, and my greatest fear was that my mother would make me wear my glasses. There were no contact lens back then, and only nerds and geeks wore glasses, right? Every time I try to imagine how a kid fears ridicule, I remember the terror I felt every time I was called on to read in class. If my eyes were tired, I had to turn that eye in to see the page. Because I had so much trouble seeing, my grades were horrible, but it was more important to be popular. Telling you this story is looking back from my adult perspective, and in telling you this story I’ve written it for adults. Showing that kind of angst for a teen character is YA writing. The YA writer has to burrow back into the teen experience—be that kid with 13, 14, 15 years of experience living in the world. If you are writing from hindsight, with all the knowledge and worldliness you’ve acquired, you are writing an adult book.
I did a one-on-one critique at this year’s writer’s conference. The woman was writing about an overweight young girl trying to lose enough weight—by scary means—to be popular. She revealed that she had been overweight as a girl, and that her brother used to tease her about it—pretend to stick her with a pin to let the fat out like air out of a balloon. “Is that in there?” I asked. “No,” she answered. My parting words to her and to all YA/MS writers: Revisit your pain and use it to make your story ring with authenticity. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012


   In today's blog stop for the SACAJAWEA OF THE SHOSHONE Blog Tour, Chris Henderson and I chat about the writing, the research, and what "The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses" really means. Hop over to The Write Chris for this exclusive interview.

A peek inside the book
My Sacajawea doll

                                Follow the Journey!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Mike Jung's just released Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities will be a hit. It has action/adventure. It has humor. It has a unique premise. And it has Mike singing this song he wrote about writing a book. The song will be a hit too. It has a catchy tune. It has funny lyrics. It has Mike playing the ukelele. And his voice is pretty good to boot.

Monday, October 8, 2012


   Sacajawea's journey with Lewis and Clark was often fraught with risks, setbacks, and disappointment...but then again, so is writing...
   Follow the Sacajawea of the Shoshone blog tour journey by hopping over to The Writer's Block on Raychelle Writes

Next up: Chris Henderson interviews me on The Write Chris on Oct. 11.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


The Sacajawea Blog Tour officially begins today! Woo Hoo! I'm so excited! 

For most of us authors, public speaking doesn't come naturally, you have to work at it. I should know: at my very first book reading ever for Otto's Rainy Day, I was so scared, I had my brother-in-law read the book! Was I a chicken or what? In today's first blog tour stop, I talk about my experiences with public speaking, how the anxiety never goes away, and share some tips on managing your sweaty palms, hammering heart, and the urge to throw up all over your audience...

Hop on over to FrolickingThroughCyberspace Blog to read the post!

Presenting Sacajawea of the Shosohone
at the Sonoma County Book Festival, 2012

10 years ago, this crowd would have
really freaked me out!
Presenting Cixi, The Dragon Empress,
Ukiah book launch, Mendocino Book
Company, 2011
Presenting Cixi, The Dragon Empress
Book launch for The Thinking
Girls' Treasury of Dastardly Dames,
Book Passage, Corte Madera, 2011