AUTHOR: Mikki Sadil
BOOK TITLE: Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters
GENRE: Contemporary Middle Grade/Tween story.
PUBLISHER: MuseItUp Publisher
BUY LINK: museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/69-our-authors-s/379-mikki-sadil; also on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and most major ebook distributors.
Please tell us about yourself.
I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother. I’ve been writing off and on for most of my life, but didn’t really settle down to it full time until Christmas, 2005, when my daughter sent me a box full of books on writing for children, with a note that said ( to put it politely), ‘Mom, get off your butt and start writing for real.’ July, 2006, I began my first of three courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature, sold my first article to a national children’s magazine eight months later, and decided I was, indeed, “writing for real.” By the time I graduated from my last course at ICL, in 2011, I had published more than 20 articles and short stories, and to date, have published more than 70, plus my debut novel, The Freedom Thief, an historical adventure for kids age 10-13, set in pre-Civil War Kentucky.
What inspired you to write your first book?
From childhood on, I have been fascinated by the Civil War. When I studied it in school, I couldn’t understand how a difference in philosophy could be so drastic as to lead to a war in which, literally, brother was against brother. Of course, as an adult, I came to realize that most wars begin over a difference in philosophy, but none has ever been so dividing as that which caused the Civil War. I always knew that some day, I would write a story about some aspect of the Civil War, and The Freedom Thief is the result. I also grew up in a “modestly” racial family…I say “modestly,” perhaps not the right word, but my parents were prejudiced people, just not to the extreme. I learned, not from them, but from the educational world I grew up in to accept people of all kinds and colors. I wrote about slavery during the Civil War because the way African Americans were treated then, and even since the days of slavery, have always been appalling to me.
What are your thoughts about promotion?
YUCK! Those are my thoughts in a nutshell! LOL Truthfully, I hate the promotional part of publishing. I’m not the social networking butterfly it seems that one needs to be. I don’t like putting myself and my family “out there” for the whole planet to see. I don’t like asking that one buy my book. Yet, it seems that is the way an author has to do it these days, as the time of the publisher doing most or all of the promoting of books is long gone. Promotion is the most difficult part of the publishing game: writing the book is the easy part. Even getting it accepted is easy, compared to marketing and promotion. I’m still trying, and I’m most definitely still learning about how to successfully market/promote a book, and maybe someday, I’ll actually be successful, but I’m afraid that day hasn’t arrived yet.
What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
To be honest, I don’t remember ever getting what I would consider a “tough” criticism. I had great instructors at ICL, honest, open with their remarks and criticisms, but never tough on me. I’ve had the same critique group for seven years, and the same goes for them: they are very honest, very open in their opinions, but never hard or tough in any way. I truly have never received much if any negativity, but I have learned a great deal from the positive criticisms I have received in the almost eight years I’ve been writing for publication. My biggest compliment came from a professional reviewer, and I’ve pasted it below…it is the last part of her entire review of my debut novel.
THE FREEDOM THIEF should be required reading everywhere in the world...not just here in the United States. People are NOT possessions, and never should be.
FIVE STARS for this powerful children's book, and a
HUGE thank you for Ms. Sadil. Long may your writing voice be a beacon for the rest of us.
Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
Yes, I do have writer’s block, more often than I would like. It has only occurred in the last year and a half, and I think that is because of the trauma our family has gone through during that time. I get through it in different ways. Mostly, I try to let the work sit for a while, sometimes only a day or two, but sometimes it can take a month or more before I even want to get back to it. I want my mind to be completely away from the story, completely free from any little sniggling bit one of my characters is trying to get me to listen to. ( Sometimes, my characters and I just don’t get along at all.) By clearing my mind of anything related to the story for a period of time, I can then go back and start to work again with more of a clear idea of what to do, where I need to go from that point on, and how I’m going to get there.
I’m not one to outline, but I have found recently that by creating a “mind map” it can be very helpful in solving a problem or working through a situation that is blocking me. Using a mind map is helpful to me only when I do have problems, although I know a lot of writers use them instead of an outline to put the entire plot into perspective.
Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters is a book about bullying, but it is subtle. It doesn’t involve cyber bullying, or physical bullying. In doing research for this story, I learned a lot about the effect bullying has on kids today, both boys and girls. It is terribly disconcerting to read about all the things that happen in schools, on school buses, and on the Internet, and the total lack of concern about this situation that so many teachers and school officials exhibit. Mere children, 9, 10, 12 years old are driven to suicide, because no one, not even parents seem to believe that the bullying is that severe, that drastic, until it is too late. My story doesn’t involve that kind, that depth, of bullying, because I couldn’t bring myself to write something that dark. It is there, it is real, but it’s not in this book.
Who is your publisher, and how did you connect with them?
My publisher is MuseItUp Publishing. I submitted my query to them because I was referred by another author who is published by them. It has been a good relationship so far.
What are your current projects?
I am writing the first of what I hope will become a trilogy. It is WAY out of my comfort zone! It is a paranormal/historical/mystery. It doesn’t have the usual vampires and werewolves. It does have psychic abilities, gargoyles, and a few witches! The main character is a sixteen year old girl, whose parents own a traveling carnival in the year 1930. They come to a town in Iowa called Dead Man’s Crossing, and the entire carnival breaks down. In the meantime, MC Gabriela is hearing the voices of three little girls who have been brutally murdered in this town, it was never solved, and their voices beg her to find their killer. Don’t ask me why I had to write this novel…I don’t read paranormal books, nor watch paranormal movies or TV. But this young lady came to me in the middle of the night, and informed me she had a story to tell, and I had to write it. Well, you know you NEVER ignore your characters! So here I am, in the middle of a story called Beneath the Possum Belly: Night Cries.
How can we find you?
Facebook: Mikki Sadil
Twitter: Marienne Sadil @ Mikki Sadil
Tell us about the current book you are promoting.
Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters is the story of thirteen year old AJ Devlin, who has two BFFs, a champion Quarter Horse mare, and who thinks her life is just about as perfect as it can get. Until the new girl, Celine Carroll, comes to town. From the moment they meet at the eighth grade cheerleading tryouts at West Haven Middle School, Celine seems out to destroy everything AJ holds dear. From the very first day, Celine insinuates herself into AJ’s life, taking over Jaime and Julie, AJ’s BFFs in every way possible. The two Js seem almost hypnotized by this new girl, who manages to insert herself into their cheerleading partnership with AJ, leaving AJ with two girls, Lisa and Amberley, the most disliked girls in school, who are now her partners. From day one forward, nothing goes right for AJ, and her life becomes one disaster after another.
This is the story of bullying, but the most subtle kind of all…a silent, indirect bullying that involves the hatred of one girl directed towards another girl, who has no idea of the reason for it or behind it…for the two have never met until now.
What genre do you write in and why?
I write historical and contemporary novels for middle school kids and tweens. I love this age kid…they are still wide-eyed about the world they live in, they still want to learn from books they love, and they are still innocent in ways that will be gone before very much longer. I think most kids this age are still willing to read stories about historical events that have never captured their attention before, and they are willing to learn lessons from them for the future. I think they know about certain contemporary events and situations that happen around them, sometimes to them, and they are willing and even eager to read about different ways of responding and reacting to those same events.
Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done?
No, I have published almost 70 other short stories and articles for children. The very first thing I published was a non-fiction article about dung beetles. It was featured in the national children’s magazine ODYSSEY, and was from an assignment for my first of three courses at the Institute of Children’s Literature. I wrote short stories and NF articles for over a year for an online children’s school publisher. These were for grades 4, 5, and 6. I published a book of Haiku poetry while I was in college, but other than that, all my other writing has either been professional or for children.
Why did you choose to write a children’s book?
Children fascinate me. They are so open, so honest, so inquisitive. They are intelligent, sensitive, giving, loving ,and they ask only to be heard, to be listened to, and to be understood. Children are so far above adults in so many ways. When I decided I wanted to write with the hope of publication, it just never occurred to me to write for adults. I love to tell stories, and there is never a better listener than a child. It just seemed natural to me that I should write stories that…hopefully…children would love, understand, and accept.
Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children’s literature?
Yes! Learn your craft of writing, first and foremost. Listen to kids, talk to kids, hear what they have to say, and how they say it. Learn what interests them, and as important, what does not interest them. Listen to them talk about their daily lives, the situations they find themselves in, the life experiences they have and go through, whether they are elementary age, middle grade, or teens. Take classes in how to write for kids and teens…it is far different from writing for adults, AND it is harder. Many won’t believe this last statement but it is true. An example: an adult picks up a new book, reads the first few pages, thinks it might be an “iffy” kind of book, but goes ahead and finishes the chapter, maybe even the next couple of chapters before deciding if it holds their interest or they want to dump it. Take a kid of any age, give him/her a new book, and if the first few paragraphs or first page at the most don’t hold their interest, the book is dumped. Adults give writers a little leeway in deciding if a book is going to be read or not; a kid does not. Those first few sentences and paragraphs had better grab that kid’s interest, or the first page will never be turned. So again:1.Learn your craft; 2. Talk to and listen to kids;3. Take classes in how to write for kids and teens. In the end, you’ll never be sorry!
What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
The first thing that bugs me is the way the book is written ,i.e. bad grammar and poor sentence structure. I don’t read to “find” those things, but they still jump out at me, and it shows me that no matter how interesting the story might be, it is poorly written and hasn’t been edited. A great many self-published books fall into this category. Another thing that bugs me is unsympathetic characters: the main character is shallow and not well-defined, often a “goody-two-shoes” in that she is rendered perfect with no flaws. The antagonist and/or villain are just the opposite, vile, evil, with absolutely no good qualities. No one is perfect and no one is all bad, so don’t make your characters that way!
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
My favorite part is the writing itself. I love to write, I love to listen to what my characters have to say, I love to fight with my characters. Sometimes my husband thinks I’ve kinda sorta lost my mind, but that’s okay, he’s not a writer. My characters talk to me and tell me what is going to happen. Example: in my current WIP, from day one the killer has been Papa, the MC’s father. I have written from that perspective, that at the end, she will find it is her father. One day in the shower ( uh, yes, in the shower), another of my characters started yelling at me, telling me what a dummy I am. He kept saying, “I’ve been at every single event that has happened, even if in the background, every time anything has gone wrong, I’ve been there. YOU DUMMY! I am the killer!” Well, gollygeewhiz, he is right. HE is the killer. I tried to explain all that to my husband, but he just thought I had lost it…again.
The least favorite part of being an author is the promotion we all have to do for our books. It’s very frustrating, and I’ve found it especially difficult since my books are for kids, and come out as ebooks. This pretty much discourages school visits, as the teachers want a print book to share with students. So the promo stuff is hard, and frankly, I…er…”dislike” it. Immensely!
Thank you, Penny, for having me here today. These questions have been fun and way different from most interview questions. I’ve really enjoyed answering them.
Mikki Sadil, author, Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters
MuseItUpPublishing, April 11, 2014