Danette Haworth, author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, Launches her Blog Tour!

Monday, May 04, 2009

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

In Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning Danette Haworth tells a story of growing up and making friends--with a few alligators and lightning bolts thrown in for excitement. Violet Raines' life has been just perfect and when things start going wrong she blames Melissa, the new girl in the neighborhood. But maybe it isn't Melissa who causes all the changes, maybe it's Violet.

Haworth has been writing and making people laugh since she was six years old. As an Air Force brat, she also is an expert at making new friends. Haworth combined those two experiences to make a funny and poignant book that will seem familiar to every young girl whether she lives in Alaska or Zimbabwe.

Finally settled down in Violet's backyard--Florida--Danette would own a diner called "Netti's" if she wasn't a writer. It would be small--you'd probably pass it if you drove by too fast--but the regulars would be loyal. "Try the sweet potato loaf," they'd tell each other. "It is to die for!"

We had to include this trailer of Danette's book, made by Scholastic--it's so fun! Check it out.

Visit Danette at her website at www.danettehaworth.com
and her blog: http://summerfriend.blogspot.com/
Violet Raines Reading Group Guide: http://www.violetraines.com/readingguide.htm

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Danette's book, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

Published by Walker Books for Young Readers, $15.99
Children's Fiction, Ages 9-12, Hardcover
ISBN# 0802797911

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Danette. We're delighted to launch your blog tour for your book,
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning. I just finished reading your book (all in one afternoon). I couldn't stop reading because the characters were so real I felt they would jump off the page and ask me to go search for alligators! Where did they come from? Did you know a Violet, Lottie, Melissa or Eddie? Were you one?

Danette: Thanks, Jodi! They were all so real to me that writing the book was almost like watching a movie! The story seemed to spill out in front of me. Growing up, I knew a lot of Violets, Lotties, and Melissas, but only one true Eddie.

Eddie is based on a boy I knew when I was in 4th-6th grade. He was gracious, handsome, and the fastest runner in school. This boy had dark hair and glittery blue eyes, just like Eddie. Once, we were playing manhunt and he found me, scooped me up like the hero in a romance novel and carried me to base--I just about swooned!

WOW: Tall, dark and handsome--didn’t I just see him on a movie screen last weekend? Actually, that was the most detailed description you gave of Eddie which I found surprising. As writers we sometimes rely on detailed physical descriptions to make our characters come alive. With the exception of Melissa, you never really described your characters' appearances. Why was that?

Danette: Because Melissa was the newcomer, we had the chance to scrutinize her through Violet's squinched-up eyes, but since Violet already knew everyone else, she didn't take a second thought of their looks. That's why I provided only a few nudges in the physical description of the other characters.

What makes characters in any book come alive is the things they do and the way they react to the events in the story. As a reader, I love when the author gets me to the point where I'm thinking, *Gasp* I can’t believe the MC[main character] did that! How will her best friend ever forgive her? I don't mind a little hint of what a person looks like, but I don't need a full description to see the story as I read.

WOW: I'm always interested in how ideas transform into books. How was this book created? Did you have this wonderful Violet character on stage waiting for something to happen or was something else the kernel that grew into this book?

Danette: I was just starting to query for a different novel (Me and Jack, 2011, Walker), but I didn’t want to sit around waiting. I wanted to get started on the next project. But what? I reported to my computer room everyday and sat in my chair thinking.

I had this idea for a mother and daughter story, an adult novel with issues, based on stories my mom told me about her childhood. One story I always liked was this: My mother grew up in farm country up north, and the people next door had a huge family, a big rambling house, and they invited my mom over for a fish fry every Sunday. My mom has a brother and a sister who were NEVER invited. I always thought that was funny, and I wondered why (and of course this was no small victory for my mom, who was the youngest and usually got the short end of the stick for everything).

I kept thinking everyday, all the while having an adult story in mind, when Violet Raines just walked in one day and rattled off the first paragraph of the book. I whipped around in my chair and typed it up really fast; I didn’t want to lose any of it. Here’s what she said:

When Eddie B. dared me to walk the net bridge over the Elijah Hatchett River where we'd seen an alligator and another kid got bit by a coral snake, I wasn’t scared--I just didn't feel like doing it right then. So that's how come I know just what he's saying when I see him in church, flapping his elbows like someone in here is chicken. When Momma's not looking, I make my evil face at him, but he just laughs and turns the right way in his pew.

I could see her, with her short dark hair and the swampy woods behind her. She had a little smudge of dirt on her leg from coming through the woods. I had an instant, complete sense of Violet, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to her!

WOW: Yet another sign that we shouldn't stop writing while we try to sell out first book! Could you tell us a little about your path from writing to publication for Violet Raines?

Danette: During the day, I wrote articles on state-of-the-art tank simulators; after work, I wrote short literary stories and submitted them. Then a few years ago my schedule changed when I became a stay-at-home writer. Since now I had a larger block of time, I thought about maybe adding more clients. Then it hit me--maybe it was time to pursue my own dream, writing a novel.

I thought about writing detective fiction since I love reading it, but then I realized I'd have to figure out how to murder people and almost get away with it. I did not want to do that! (And my husband got really nervous when books such as Deadly Doses: a writer's guide to poisons starting showing up on my bookshelf.) So I thought about some of my favorite authors: Anne Tyler, Sue Miller, Elizabeth Buchan, and Elizabeth Berg. But each time I approached a novel, the characters that came to life for me were eleven or twelve-years-old, and I identified with them! I had to write their stories!

I heard an SCBWI writing conference was coming to my area in the summer of 2007. I was still writing Violet Raines, but I knew the manuscript would benefit from a qualified critique. I polished up the first ten pages, submitted them, and ended up being critiqued by editor Stacy Cantor from Walker Books. She loved what she read, and I loved her response! In the weeks that followed, she read the full manuscript and I queried a handful of agents who I thought might like Violet Raines. I don't bite my nails, but if I did, they would have been nubs by the time I got "The Call!" In October 2007, I signed on with Ted Malawer of Firebrand and accepted a book deal with Walker Books.

WOW: That's quite a success story! Thank you for sharing. Some writers write solely in one genre, while others write a bit of everything: fiction, nonfiction, children's, YA. Which type of writing career do you think you'll have?

Danette: I don't know what type of writing career I'll have! I'm so glad I discovered children's literature because not only do I enjoy writing it, I LOVE reading it! But I love young adult fiction, now, too, and I still read mysteries, literary fiction, short stories and flash fiction. I think, in the long run, my writing career will reflect my reading career.

WOW: What are you working on now? Will we get a peek at Violet in high school? Or are there new characters waiting for their chance on the stage?

Danette: Will we see Violet in high school? Oh, my gosh--I don’t know! I love her just the way she is, and yet some things have already happened there in that little swamp town since the book got published. It’s all in my head, of course, but who knows? I love Violet!

I just turned in the draft for The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness, a middle-grade novel in which a girl who lives in a hotel meets an eclectic group of friends, including a teenage runaway. Blueberry Goodness takes place in Florida, at a dilapidating, antebellum resort whose once manicured lawns are now grown wild. (Walker BFYR, 2010)

Me and Jack is set in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Eleven-year-old Joshua knows how to play new kid: hang back, don't talk too much, become invisible. Then he pairs up with Jack, a dog he rescues from the pound. Jack yanks Joshua from the sidelines to the front line to take on an unfriendly town, a mountain, and meanest kid in school. (Walker BFYR, 2011)

Whenever anyone asks me about my writing, I'm either all hush-hush or I keep talking even when I see them start checking their watches and looking at their cell phones. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my work with you!

WOW: Well, we weren't checking our cell phones. We can’t wait to meet all your new characters!

Want to join Danette on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

MAY 4, 2009 Monday
Danette will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Danette's book!

MAY 5, 2009 Tuesday
Danette will be chatting with Kim Zook in an exclusive interview! Come join these two in a lively chat at the Zook Book Nook, & book giveaway!

MAY 8, 2009 Friday
Stop by The Friendly Book Nook to learn more about author Danette Haworth and her unstoppable friend Violet Raines.

MAY 12, 2009 Tuesday
Danette will be stopping by Anne-Marie Nichols' popular blog, A Mama's Rant, for an informative guest post: Write My Book or Wash the Laundry: How Does a Stay at Home Writer Do It? This is not to miss!

MAY 20, 2009 Wednesday
Danette will be stopping by The Mother Daughter Book Club for an exclusive author interview! Be sure to join in on the chat.

MAY 22, 2009 Friday
Danette will be stopping by A Good Blog is Hard to Find, a blog dedicated to southern authors, for a surprise guest post with tips for writers. Not to miss!

JUNE 4, 2009 Thursday
Margo will pick Danette's brain today at her blog Read These Books and Use Them--both about writing her book and some great activities that teachers and parents can do with their children while reading Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. Don't worry--no lightning involved!

We also have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Danette Haworth's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at: blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Danette's book Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning.


Beverly said...

I am a recently retired school librarian. I hope to write a middle grade novel. I think reading yours will be an inspiration to me. It sounds most interesting.

jess said...

Your book sounds fun, and I LOVE the title! ~jess

Danette Haworth said...

Thank you Beverly! I hope you love Violet Raines!

Jess, thanks for the compliment. The working draft had a different title that was fitting, but very boring: Crossing the Elijah Hatchett Bridge.

I went to the SCBWI conference with a few titles listed on notepaper. When I sat down to the critique with Stacy, I showed her my thoughts on the title, my favorite being Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, and the publisher loved it!

Karin said...

I agree-- great title. The cover art makes me want to cartwheel my way across the room! (except I never could do a proper cartwheel!)

Gayle said...

Danette, your book sounds wonderful, and Violet sounds so much like my daughter I wonder if you've met her! LOL!

Krysten Lindsay Hager said...

Violet sounds adorable! Had you read a lot of YA and middle-grade novels before you started writing?

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Danette,
As a book reviewer and a grandmother raising two grandchildren, I always appreciate hearing about new books. Love the title of your book--and your main character's name! Thank you for sharing your experience at the SCBWI conference. Good luck with all your books. And thank you, WOW, for introducing us to Danette.
Donna Volkenannt

Danette Haworth said...

My heart lifted when I opened the email containing the cover art! It absolutely captures the carefree spirit of the book. I have my editor to thank for that; she and the graphic artist worked very closely to come up with just the right image. This cover came after six or seven others were rejected.

I have met so many girls who tell me how much they relate to Violet--how they love to be outside, how they love to climb trees, etc. I love hearing that!

When I had the chance to get serious about writing a few years ago, I became active in online children's writing communities, started talking, getting recommendations, reading PW Children's Bookshelf; now almost every book on my nightstand is a middle-grade or young adult novel!

Thank you for the well-wishes and compliments on the title and Violet's name! I hope you get the chance to read it!

Marcia Peterson said...

Congratulations on your book, Danette! It sounds wonderful, and my daughters would love to read it.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for the inspiration! I recently went from writing about heavy-duty trucks to part-time copywriting (because I had a baby). I decided to turn down freelance assignments so I can focus on a novel, but I can't seem to get to it.

I have so many ideas buzzing around my head, it's sort of annoying, and then I end up checking Facebook and twitter and writing on my blog.

Not one of these ideas seem to stick. I'll start one story and I end up not liking the MC! So, I stop.

I've always enjoyed YA books, and my mom once told me I should write one, but my characters always seem to be older. Hmmm...now that I'm thinking about it, maybe that's why I don't like them! Maybe I'd like a younger character...

Do you have any tips for getting to know and love your MC? Or, is it purely like you said: "Violet Raines just walked in..."?

Anyway, I adore the sound of your novel and look forward to reading about Violet!

Best wishes!

Madeline said...

Danette, I love how you talk about your characters and your stories - it's obvious you love what you do, and that comes across/will come across in your work. Looking forward to meeting Violet!


Danette Haworth said...

MP, I hope your daughters love it!

Yes, it's hard writing while taking care of a baby!

For Violet Raines, it really was a case of Violet walking in. She came to me as a complete character; she brought her friends with her, her neighborhood and her spunky attitude. I knew who she was immediately.

But that doesn't happen every time. Sometimes, I have a plot event that cries out for a certain character, and the character is born that way.

Before I ever set to writing, I work hard on the outline and character sketches. This helps me to get started, but it's when you get to that keyboard and spill the story that the characters come to life, sometimes doing things you didn't plan but that work out perfectly.

To get published, I have to do the physical act of writing; to write, I have to sit around and think for a while. This might feel like a waste of time, but, for myself, I have to be already immersed in the story through the background work in order to know where I'm coming from when I peck those keys.

LuAnn said...

Would you recommend all new book authors attend a writers conference prior to attempting to publish that first book?

Danette Haworth said...

Thank you! When I was in fifth grade, I told my sister I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I'm so thankful to be able to do this!

I'm a firm believer that raw talent can only benefit with education. Whether that's attending a conference, surfing writers' websites or reading books on the craft of writing, any of it and all of it benefits writers at any stage in their careers.

Mary Jo said...

Thanks for this interesting book tour and to WOW for hosting. I'm glad someone else asked about the cover art - it is very carefree and something I would pick up even if I didn't come across your interview first.
I was curious about the switch you made from part time writer while working a full time job to full time author. How did you know it was time to make that switch and what did you do to prepare?
Mary Jo

Kerrie said...

Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. Funny, I was thinking about character sketches today on my drive home from the chiropractor. When I was younger, I used to do them with absolutely no story in mind. Just for fun! My husband would be calling me a big nerd right now, but maybe I need to revisit that. Thanks again and good luck with all your books!

Danette Haworth said...

Hi Mary Jo,
My after work life was filled with freelance editing and submitting my short stories. The editing was pretty steady, and I could pick and choose those assignments that fit into my schedule.

Although I enjoyed working outside the home, I always knew when we started a family, I wanted to be at home. So I became a freelance-during-naptime-editor/writer. It was very important to me to continue to use that writing muscle even though I no longer reported for work. I continued to write short stories and articles, and I began to see some of them get published.

When my children became a little more independent, my first thought was to expand the editing. But then I had a revelation: Now you can write your own stuff! I had the time; I had the education; I had some experience behind me. It was time to take the risk!

Thanks, Kerrie! Good luck in all you do and with your little one.

T. Forehand said...

Hi Dannette, congratulations on the book, I will be getting a copy asap to review on my blog. I am a critical care pediatric nurse and I love to read and recommend books to my patients, I also am a freelance writer and envy anyone in the published side of the arena. My mother's maiden name was Haworth so your name rings close to my heart as well. Good to learn more about you from the interview and blog tour. I will check in again to see what is new.
Again, congratulations,I can't wait to read the book.

Cheri said...

Hi Danette, Your book sounds like fun. We moved to Florida when I was nine. As kids we ran barefoot through the woods; learned to watch for water moccasins and 'gators when wading in the pond; how to pick oranges without getting stuck by the thorns; and the many uses of moss. Violet sounds like she could have been one of us. LOL.

Your description on how Violet walked in and introduced herself, sounds right on. I think those characters are the strongest and most fun.

Looking forward to reading your book. Good luck with it and the tour!

Cheri (Sherry)

Petula said...

Congratulations on your blog tour! Your book sounds like a great read and I loved the trailer.

Danette Haworth said...

Thank you for all your kind words and for visiting my blog. I hope you enjoy Violet!

Ha! Yes, Violet could have been your friend! And don't forget the other thing about picking oranges: doing it quickly and running before the owner catches you!

Thank you! I remember not feeling nervous when the Scholastic crew came to film the trailer; not nervous at all until they started filming! Then all of a sudden I had dry mouth; it was too hot; and I stepped in dog poop, and I don't even have a dog!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Hi Danette!

I've been running around like crazy today and just got a moment to check in. :o) I'm enjoying the lively discussion!

I love your book trailer. I had the darndest time trying to figure out how to embed it, but I'm glad it showed up. It's absolutely adorable! I do have a question: did Scholastic create it for you? How does that work? Did you film it and then they edited it? I'm sure many of our other children's book writers would be interested in how that process works. ;o)

Thanks in advance, and congrats on your tour!



Danette Haworth said...

Hi Angela!

Thank you for the compliments on the trailer! Scholastic created it and I just love the lightning effects!

Here's how it came about: My editor emailed me one day and said Scholastic picked up Violet Raines for their book club and the book fairs; they wanted to feature me in their author video--was I available?

OMG! YES! I was definitely available!

Before they came, I spoke on the phone with a couple of guys from Scholastic, but we didn't plan anything out--they wanted the video to be spontaneous and natural.

They arrived on a sunny day, a three man crew, all nice guys. The pollen count was high that day and my allergies were kicking in; I didn't want to be sniffing and snorting on tape, so I took an Actifed before they came.

That totally backfired! Instead of snorting and sniffing, my throat got really dry and my voice was raspy!

In any case, working with Scott, Larry, and Juan was great. They prompted me with questions and were very good at what they do.

They were book lovers, too, and it made me feel good when I realized how intimately they knew MY book.

We filmed at the Econlockhatchee River, my backyard, and inside my house.

One of the fringe benefits of knowing they might film my house was that my mom repainted all my downstairs walls for me AND the baseboards! What a great mom, right?!

Cheryl said...

Nothing like getting a call to be in a Scholastic video, hey? Congratulations. The video is excellent.

Violet's story sounds like a must read...kind of like a modern day Anne Shirley in the way she doesn't take any guff.

Best of luck on your tour.


Sunnymay said...

I love when stories almost write themselves if we only listen. The bridge crossing with alligators draws the reader in close to see the same view the writer is pointing them to. You have us "on the ropes" teetering in suspense between possibilities and reality. I want to keep turning the pages and see where they lead.

Patti said...

I know what you mean by those 11-12 year old characters, I have one that keeps poking me to finish her story, too. They have a lot on their mind and much to say!

I'm looking forward to getting to know Violet, and more of your characters, real soon!

Danette Haworth said...

Thanks! And you got Violet all right--she doesn't take any guff!

Thank you, Sunnymay!

Good luck with your story, and I hope you enjoy Violet!

Anonymous said...


WOW! said...

Hi Ladies! We have a winner for the comments contest. Congratulations Kerrie! I will be emailing you with the details. :)

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