Categories
Books Children

Interview with Maggie Mitchell Author of The Big Stink

I love having friends who write books for ME! I have a friend, Maggie Mitchell, who among other things is a children’s writer. She wrote a lovely

book called the Big Stink, which I will be reviewing later.

The Big Stink by Maggie Mitchelle

Mags graciously sat down with me for a lil ole interview.  Let’s step into the mind of Maggie Mitchell, shall we?

UNCONVENTIONAL LIBRARIAN: Welcome to our interview! Let’s get started. Do you drink coffee?

MAGGIE MITCHELL: I haven’t had any caffeine in 5 weeks! I don’t need a medal or a parade for that feat, it’s just something I wanted to do for my own personal health. Prior to that point, however, I did enjoy coffee ‘drinks,’ but I never got into a cup of joe from a countertop coffeepot. Say that three times fast.

UL. coffeepot coffeepot coffeepot. I win!  Do you like donuts or cookies? Do you dunk?

MM: No dunking. I like my beverage & carbohydrate entities to remain separate, unless there are Oreos and milk involved. I love to bake cookies…and eat them…but if I had to choose, I’d go with a donut that someone else made!

UL: Donuts for the win! We’re kindred spirits. How did your book get started?

MM:  After my daughter was born in 2010, I had a great compulsion to write. I wrote The Big Stink as a response to a particularly profound stink bug invasion that fall, coupled with sad, sad stories I was hearing on the news about the outcomes of bullying in schools. I took something serious and something not-so-serious and developed a story. I love that inspiration can just strike! I was open to it and it found me and I have a book to show for it as the proof!

UL: That’s the great thing about inspiration; it STRIKES! So, tell me, what else have you written?

MM: I wrote Kacey the Papercat in 2012, which is a poetic ode to our big male Tuxedo cat. He’s actually laying at my feet as I type this. I used to write my own blog, but as my daughter got older and when my son was on his way (he was born in December 2014), it became clear to me that blogging was not the way I wanted to use my “extra” time, so I went off the grid. I like it off the grid. I think I’ll stay.

UL: (singing: “Kacey the Papercat…something something where it’s at.”) I hope you like the theme song I just wrote for you. If you could have any superpower what would it be?

MM: Since I am a mom, I can already read minds and predict the future, so those are out. I’m going to have to say flying. If I’m going to be up high, though, I like going fast. I am not a fan of ferris wheels. My superpower would have to be fast flying.

UL: YES!! Flying! What makes you happy?

MM: I think most moms out there would agree with me when I said that seeing my children happy makes me happy. However, I’m going to come right out and say that being alone also makes me very happy. There is nothing so lovely as taking a nap in the middle of the day and waking up naturally to a quiet house. Or sitting on the beach for as long as I like without interruption. I think I’ve done those things before, perhaps in a past life.

UL: hmmmm I can agree.  Something about being alone with your thoughts is glorious. Wrapping up now, anything else you want to tell us?
MM:Wear sunscreen, don’t be afraid of color & mixing patterns, and, from Death of a Salesman, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Because personality always wins the day.”
UL: Well said, Mags.

Isn’t Maggie just the coolest? Stay tuned for my review of her anti bullying book on this channel!

See you soon!

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Children

Mommy, Why’s Your Skin So Brown? by Maria Leonard Olsen

If you’re white, you probably don’t get asked too many questions about your heritage. To be sure, you probably identify as Irish, Italian, Polish, or whatever. But have you ever gotten asked why your skin is pink or white or whatever color it is? Probably not. Mommy, Why’s Your Skin So Brown? Is a question one mother was asked by her children. Kids are naturally curious and there probably isn’t any judgement in the question, they just want to know why your skin looks one way while their skin looks another. 17915819 The author answers the child’s questions with a candor that a child can understand: we are different colors because you are a mix of both Mommy’s color and Daddy’s color. People are all different shades of colors. The author and I share a similar problem:  I’ve been the recipient of these kinds of questions all my life and so have my children.  The mother in the story handles it beautifully. I do not think I’ve always handled these difficult questions as tactfully or as gently as this mother does.  There is a lesson in this book for everyone.  This title would make a great addition to any family’s (or school’s) library. My takeaway? Stop asking questions. Just let people BE the color they are! This book qualifies for the Diversity Challenge. Why are YOU the color you are?

Categories
Adult Fiction Books

Crooked Branch by Jeanine Cummins TBC Book Club

Unconventional Librarian

I’m thrilled to host tonight’s book club meeting at Towne Book Center & Cafe because tonight’s meeting will be special; we’ll be visited by Jeanine Cummins, the author of The Crooked Branch (and WINE); woot!

Here’s what they’re saying on Goodreads about it:

rom the national bestselling and highly acclaimed author of The Outside Boy comes the deeply moving story of two mothers—witty, self-deprecating Majella, who is shocked by her entry into motherhood in modern-day New York, and her ancestor, tough and terrified Ginny Doyle, whose battles are more fundamental: she must keep her young family alive during Ireland’s Great Famine.

After the birth of her daughter Emma, the usually resilient Majella finds herself feeling isolated and exhausted. Then, at her childhood home in Queens, Majella discovers the diary of her maternal ancestor Ginny—and is shocked to read a story of murder in her family history.

With the famine upon her, Ginny Doyle fled from Ireland to America, but not all of her family made it. What happened during those harrowing years, and why does Ginny call herself a killer? Is Majella genetically fated to be a bad mother, despite the fierce tenderness she feels for her baby? Determined to uncover the truth of her heritage and her own identity, Majella sets out to explore Ginny’s past—and discovers surprising truths about her family and ultimately, herself.

 

Me? That’s not quite the way I see it.  I see the book as a story of a new mother struggling with postpartum depression. She stumbles across an old diary about a family in famine-ridden Ireland in 1848. What a fascinating story of the struggles of the family in Ireland! I was tempted to just skip every other chapter and read only about the family in Ireland.  I’m glad I persevered because the end was satisfying. Still some unanswered questions but I’m sure I’ll ask the author tonight when I see her!

Easy to read; enjoyable! I give it 3 paws for showing us that motherhood is not easy and that not all mothers are nice and easy (or likable).

Unconventional Librarian 3 paws

Categories
Adult Fiction

Praise of Motherhood author Phil Jourdan

Please enjoy this guest post by Phil Jourdan, author of the touching memoir, Praise of Motherhood. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $500 in Amazon gift cards and 5 autographed copies of the book.

 

The Story behind this Real-Life Story
by Phil Jourdan

 

Back in late 2009, when I began working on Praise of Motherhood, I had envisioned a book very different from what I ended up submitting to my publisher. I’d just lost the woman who’d raised me, and when I wasn’t sitting around numb and brooding, I was frantically trying to contain the universe of loss and suffering in a single Word document on my laptop.

I wanted to write a book that expressed the impossibility of letting go. We’re often told, when someone close to us dies, that we have to move on, that things will get better. I couldn’t accept this back then: I didn’t think it was possible to let go of my mother, who had been so patient and kind during my weird teenage years.

The first two versions were entirely different from each other in form and tone, but they did have a certain delight in chaos in common. I was mourning the only way I knew how: by adopting a hundred different voices, each trying to say something about my mother that the others couldn’t say. One chapter was pure dialogue; another was a series of letters; for a while I wrote in breathless page-long paragraphs because it was the only way I could feel “honest” about what I felt. I’d swing from rage to self-pity to sadness to bliss to sheer bafflement.

It was only when I decided to turn this book into something that others could actually read without going insane that I figured out how to structure a book like this. I cut a great number chapters because they were “honest” but unhelpful. I tried to make myself a sort of antagonist, so my mother’s qualities as a human being could be emphasized. I left things relatively ambiguous instead of offering anything like words of wisdom to my readers. I tried to leave the book as open as the wound that stayed after my mother died.

This has irritated some people. They ask why I don’t provide a real sense of what my mother was like on a day-to-day basis, or why I focused so much on how she affected my life instead of just writing about her, as a person in her own right. Fair questions — but I never set out to just “write about my mom”. I wanted to write about the struggle of losing her, and what made losing her so painful. That’s why I ask questions in the book that I never really answer: because I was never able to answer them myself. They are questions that will remain.

Praise of Motherhood isn’t a book praising all mothers across all ages. It’s not meant to praise the idea of “motherhood” itself as some glorious ideal. I wrote this book because I wanted to transmit something of my mother to those who didn’t know her; those who, perhaps, need to hear that it’s okay to say you love your mommy and you wish she could still be here when you feel like crying.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Praise of Motherhood eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $500 in Amazon gift cards and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Praise of Motherhood for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
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About the book: Praise of Motherhood is a son’s tribute to the woman who not only gave him life, but helped him live: through various psychotic breakdowns, tumultuous teenage years, and years of feeling out of place in the world. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: Phil Jourdan fronts the lit-rock band Paris and the Hiltons, runs the fiction press Perfect Edge Books, and occasionally works on a PhD. Visit Phil on his blog, music site, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.