Thursday, September 15, 2016

Spilling Secrets with the BTS Bookshelf Tour, Part 2

Hello dear readers!

Today, the middle grade authors from the Back To School Bookshelf Tour are back to spill more secrets about their debut novels. Read on to learn more about the four debuts featured today! Part One can be found here. And don't forget to enter the giveaway below!


THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM gives a glimpse into 12-year-old Yuriko's life in Hiroshima during the last year of WWII. A shocking family secret is revealed right before her world ignites and becomes a shadow of what it had been.

Secrets from Kathleen:

1) During the major editing stage, I couldn’t type or hold a pen for very long so my husband typed as I dictated to him.

2) I had randomly chosen the 7th grade teacher’s name from a list of Japanese surnames. When my mother read my first draft, she told me she was surprised I knew the name of her teacher from the 4th grade!

3) After visiting Hiroshima, last summer, I changed some of my descriptions, that I had originally written. I had not realized the beauty of the area with the sea and the mountains, until being there in person. I could look at Hiroshima as my mother did before the war.
Kathleen Burkinshaw lives in Charlotte, NC. She's a wife, mom to a daughter in college(dreading the reality of being an empty nester-most of the time), and has a dog who is a kitchen ninja. Writing gives her an outlet in her daily struggle with chronic pain. She has carried her mother's story for most of her life and feels privileged to now share it with the world.Writing historical fiction also satisfies her obsessive love of researching anything and everything. @klburkinshaw1


A single-minded twelve-year-old drummer, challenged by her school's budget cuts and her family's financial woes, must find a way to keep her dreams of drumming alive.

Secrets from Mike:
1) The first draft of I AM DRUMS was written during my son’s naptimes. He was less than a year old at the time, so whenever he fell asleep I’d dash to the computer and pound away at the keys until he woke up.

2) Pete, the drum teacher, is loosely based on my real drum teacher growing up. He gave me a hard a time about my stick grip the same as Pete, but he was much nicer about it.

3) Sam and her friend, Kristen, cross a bridge over the Eisenhower expressway that was inspired by a real bridge I crossed every day on my way to and from middle school. On a clear day, you get a perfect view of the Chicago skyline.
Mike Grosso is a musician and a fourth-grade teacher who always keeps a guitar in his classroom. He lives in Oak Park, Illinois with his wife, son, and a drum set he plays much too loud.


In a town where magical powers are determined by the week day of one's birth, there lives a girl named Poppy whose Monday telekinesis skills are in need of a bit of work.

Secrets from Jennie:

1. Poppy's tiny dog Pickle is totally inspired by my own cute little yorkie Gia. Just like Gia, Pickle's favorite color is purple. Pickle's collar and leash are modeled after Gia's. And, yes, I also have a tendency to dress my yorkie just like Poppy dresses Pickle.

2. In my book, the characters have magical powers based on the day of the week they were born. At first, Saturdays and Sundays were also going to have magical powers. It wasn't until I was half way through drafting the book that I decided to make the weekends powerless.

3. I am a total pantser when I write. I write by the seat of my pants and rarely plot out or outline my books. Writing the outline for book three was tough for me because I'm used to ideas popping in my head and then just going with it!

Jennie K. Brown is an award-winning high school English teacher, freelance magazine writer, and author of children’s books. Jennie lives in Hershey, PA with her husband, son and two dogs. (And yes, it does smell like chocolate!)


Thirteen-year-old film-obsessed Lissa discovers a shape-shifting monster in her woods and decides to film the greatest horror movie of all time…until her little sister is kidnapped to the monster homeland of Down Below and she needs her star’s help to rescue her. 

Secrets from Sarah:

1) The spooky forest in Monsterville is based on Sarah Reida's real woods growing up. As a kid, she searched for ghosts and monsters, but alas, there were none. (There were, however, a lot of great hiding spots for a kid to read).

2) Adam, a main character, is based on Sarah's idea of what her husband Scott was like as a kid ("a literally giant Boy Scout"), even though Scott has never worn a fanny pack and can't find his way back from the local Target (that sounds mean, but he says it's true).

3) Sarah watched Tim Burton movies over and over while writing Monsterville, particularly Beetlejuice; and in her head, every scene played out in Tim Burton's style.

Sarah Schauerte Reida is an attorney for veterans, champion for unwanted animals, and middle grade writer. She lives in the Atlanta area but hails from the Midwest.

Thanks for sharing so many cool secrets with us today, BTS Bookshelf Tour! We love middle grade debuts! And now, here's your chance to win copies of ALL EIGHT books:

Click here to enter!


  1. Would love to have a selection of books for this age group for my Little Free Library! I have so many books for younger children but am looking for books to entice these kids to Take A Book Leave A Book and help create a circle of books in my neighborhood!!


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