Book Review and Giveaway for Caught Between Two Curses, by Margo L. Dill

Monday, April 14, 2014
Today is a very exciting day here at the Muffin, as we are featuring an interview and giveaway with WOW’s very own Margo Dill, author of the recently released YA novel Caught Between Two Curses. Read on as we chat with Margo about the inspiration for the novel, advice on writing for children and teens, and for a review of the book. Plus, enter to win your very own copy at the bottom of this post!

Seventeen-year-old Julie Nigelson is cursed. So is her entire family. And it's not just any-old-regular curse, either-it's strangely connected to the famous "Curse of the Billy Goat" on the Chicago Cubs. Julie must figure out this mystery while her uncle lies in a coma and her entire love life is in ruins: her boyfriend Gus is pressuring her to have sex, while her best friend Matt is growing more attractive to her all the time. Somehow, Julie must figure out how to save her uncle, her family's future, and her own love life-and time is running out!

Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Rocking Horse Publishing (March 18, 2014)
ISBN: 0991069560
ISBN-13: 978-0991069569

You can find Caught Between Two Curses at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and IndieBound, or your local bookstore.

About the author:
Margo L. Dill is a children's author, freelance editor, and workshop leader living in St. Louis, Missouri. She is also the author of the historical fiction middle-grade novel, Finding My Place: One Girl's Strength at Vicksburg (White Mane Kids, 2012) and the forthcoming picture books, Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire and the Case of the Missing Cookies, and Lucy and the Red Ribbon Week Adventure. Caught Between Two Curses is her first young adult novel. She promises that she is a Cardinals' fan at heart, but the Billy Goat curse on the Chicago Cubs is too irresistible for a plot line.


Lit Ladies Blog:

WOW: Welcome, Margo! First of all, congratulations on the publication of your new book! Caught Between Two Curses truly has something for every young adult reader, whether they love baseball or not! How did you get the idea for this book? Did you always plan to use the real Chicago Cubs "Curse of the Billy Goat" as one of the storylines, or did that come later?

Margo: Honestly--it was Steve Bartman in 2003, when he interfered with the ball at a Chicago Cubs playoff game, and everyone flipped out. It was all over the news. I got to thinking--what if the curse affected Bartman's brain that day and made him react? Then there was also a news story about a little girl who had survived a car crash when her parents had died. That got me thinking about why some people survive and why others don't. Is it true some people still have things left to do on earth, and this is why they survive? These were both interesting questions to me. I have no answers, of course, but these thoughts are why the book was born.

At first, I was going to make up a baseball team, but then I decided it would be much more fun to just use the Chicago Cubs!

WOW: I always love hearing the inspiration behind books. Which character in this book was the most fun to write and why?

Margo: That's a really hard question. I love JULIE--I tried to make her unique for a teen main character, in that she's pretty popular, but nice and likeable and full of flaws. I also hope I made her funny. But GRANDMA is a hoot to write, and Matt is every girl's dream--cute, nice, funny, and popular. So, it's a toss up.

WOW: I can see how Grandma was very fun to write--she was one of my favorite characters in the book, too!  I know you work with a critique group on a lot of your books. In what way was that group instrumental during the revision process for Caught Between Two Curses?

Margo: Well, if you look at the acknowledgement section of my book, you will see this book went through four critique groups because I moved so many times! My last two groups read the whole thing, and just gave great advice. They watched for consistency in my characters, if the plot was moving along, if the events were believable, and if I kept my voice or not. The Lit Ladies, my current critique group, suggested I take out almost the entire beginning (I had Julie appearing on a talk show, like Oprah), and I didn't want to. But when I did, I realized THEY WERE RIGHT. It was completely getting in the way of the story. But who knows? That show may come back in another novel.

WOW: I think your story about your critique group helps illustrate the point that while it's a scary prospect, beta readers are so necessary for every writer! What are some tips you can give our readers on writing for children and teens?

Margo: Read, read, read what is currently out on the market. If all you remember reading are the Newberry books from when you were a kid or the My Little Golden Books or even Nancy Drew mysteries, go to the library, talk to a librarian, and read some current books. Study them--how do authors get their characters across? What role do adults play? What topics are covered? Dialogue can be especially tricky. I also think you should join SCBWI. I get no cutbacks from this organization, but it is the best professional organization for beginning and published children's writers. It has resources and connections that you can't even imagine for about $8 a month! You are automatically connected with every other SCBWI member in your state for no additional charge, and all states host their own workshops and conferences for writers--some are even FREE!

WOW: I agree with the SCBWI recommendation. It's very worth it. What's up next? Do you have any other books in the works right now? Can you share any details with us?

Margo: I do! I have a humorous middle-grade mystery novel that I need to be sending out there. It's done. I also am working on another YA novel about a community shooting--the story is about two teenagers and what happens in their lives AFTER one of their dad's shoots the other dad in a multiple homicide. It's much more serious than what I usually write! Finally, I am brainstorming ideas for a second curses book--this would have a character from my first book and a new curse--maybe the curse on James Dean's car. . .

Book Review of Caught Between Two Curses 

By Renee Roberson

I’ll be the first to admit that we don’t watch a whole lot of baseball in our house. Actually, college basketball is really the only thing that has my family shouting at the television screen, so when I found out one of the curses in Dill’s book involved baseball, I worried it would keep me from fully understanding the story. Because I always like to be prepared, I researched the infamous Billy Goat curse before I turned the first page and found it very intriguing!

Any worries I had about the baseball aspect of the storyline quickly disappeared once I started reading Caught Between Two Curses. The main character in the story, Julie, admits in the novel that even she isn’t a huge fan of watching the Chicago Cubs play, but tolerates it for the most part because her family loves the team so much. Because of this, it makes perfect sense that she ends up being the one burdened with the responsibility for breaking the hold the two curses have over her family, the Billy Goat curse and the curse that threatens the lives of all the men on her maternal grandmother’s side.

From the opening pages of the book, where Julie fights with her boyfriend over whether or not she is ready to have sex, to the realization that a mysterious curse has plagued her family for decades, the novel takes off at a fast pace, keeping the reader turning page after page. There is a great cast of witty and zany characters in this book, from Julie’s adorable and loyal best friend Matt to her charming cad of a boyfriend, Gus. Julie’s grandmother, with her colorful head scarves, jangly bracelets, gazillion cats and uncanny sixth sense, is also well-written, and I found myself looking forward to every scene that featured her. Throughout the book, Julie is torn between trying to figure out her confusing love life to how she can possibly break the curse over her family that now threatens the life of her beloved Uncle Henri.

Baseball, and all the things that naturally go along with it, such as bratwursts, foam fingers, junk food, soda, and sitting in the crowded stands with hundreds of thousands of other fans makes for a great YA novel backdrop. Caught Between Two Curses is the perfect summertime read, with romance, adventure, and more than a little magic.


We also have an autographed copy of Caught Between Two Curses by Margo Dill to give away to one lucky reader! Just enter the Rafflecopter form below to be entered in the drawing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Thanks for the interview and the review. (I'm right with you when it comes to baseball.)

Margo--It was interesting to find out who your favorite characters were to write, and it was especially fascinating to read about your resistance when it came to changing your beginning. When we let go, and trust our colleagues, it often involves lots of extra work (on our part) but is (obviously, considering your newest published book) worth it.

Good luck with this book. (I hope I win!)

Donna Volkenannt said...

Thanks, Renee, for the review and interview.

I can't wait to read your latest book. You are an inspiration!

Barbara Barth said...

Great interview. I am hesitant to use Beta readers - but you may have convinced me. Going to check this out on Amazon!

Margo Dill said...

Thanks, ladies for stopping by.

Sioux: I would love to know what you think if you win! :)

Donna: I think YOU are an inspiration and it was great to see you today.

@Barbara: Thanks for checking it out on Amazon. :)

Holly said...

Really good interview! It's wonderful that you have a second book.

Margo Dill said...

Thank you, Holly. :) I'm lucky to have a 2nd book. And I hope to have a 3rd, 4th, 5th. . .

truthvardad said...

HUGE FAN!!! Can't wait for the next one.

Wayne Lecoy said...

I am entering your giveaway.
It would be great to win a copy of
Caught Between Two Curses
by Margo L. Dill.
I enjoyed reading your interview
and from your book review
this sounds like a book i would enjoy reading.
Thank you for having this giveaway!!!

Buddy Garrett said...

The book sounds very interesting. Putting the Cubs in the book was a nice touch.

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