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Two Interviews, a Review, and a Free Book Contest February 23, 2010

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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Jen Wardrip interviewed me at “Authors Unleashed” yesterday, and tomorrow Margo Dill will interview me at “Read These Books and Use Them.”

The Authors Unleashed site interests me because Jen asks the same questions of all authors she interviews. I didn’t realize this beforehand, but when I went to the site after interviewing, I saw how some of the big names in children’s writing (like Gary Paulsen, author of Hatchet, and Lois Duncan, author of I Know What You Did Last Summer and Killing Mr. Griffin) answered the same questions. I was glad I hadn’t read their interviews beforehand, so no one’s answers influenced mine. The interviews are insightful, though. I especially enjoyed the answers to Jen’s question, “Which cartoon character is most like you?” You can read my interview at:


A Shadow in the Dark

Margo Dill reviewed A Shadow in the Dark on her site, “Read These Books and Use Them.” This is a great site for teachers and homeschoolers. A former writing teacher, Margo reads fiction books and gives teachers and parents ideas of how to use the books to build their children’s academic skills. She suggested specific ways to use my book to prompt journal writing.

You can read the review and enter a contest for a free copy of the book at:


She’ll post an interview of me on the same site tomorrow.


Discussion Questions for Living It Up to Live It Down February 7, 2010

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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I posted questions about Living It Up to Live It Down on the “Questions for Book Groups” page of this site. Leaders of reading groups can use these questions to spark discussion of the book.

The Value of Social Networking February 1, 2010

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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Standard advice for writers these days is to get involved in social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter to promote their names and books. I joined Facebook, JacketFlap, and LinkedIn but wondered how much they’d benefit me as a writer.

I’ve been on Facebook the longest, a little more than a year now, and without putting much effort in, I made a contact in the book industry, sold a couple of books to a long-lost cousin who found me through the site, and reconnected with another long-lost cousin. This last contact proved the most valuable, but not in the way one might expect. By reconnecting with my cousin, I reconnected with my childhood.

Children’s writers like me are always advised to spend time with children to make their stories realistic. I’ve doled out this advice myself. When Jenny Whitehead, another writer and poet, was searching for more topics for her book of school poems, I advised her to hang out at a playground and eavesdrop on children. I had done that and rediscovered a whole nother world in children’s language. When a boy pushed a girl on a swing, she told him, “No underdogs.” Underdogs. As an adult, I had forgotten about those, but the memory came back quickly. Underdogs are when you push a swing high enough to run under it. And then there are tagbacks and cooties and all kinds of other words distinctly from a child’s world. Hanging out with children and hearing such words can inform the writing of a children’s author.

But after reconnecting with my cousin through Facebook, I might be more apt to advise other writers to get in touch with the world of children by reconnecting with friends from their own childhood. My cousin, Greg, said to me, “You still have that giggle no one else has.” I’d completely forgotten that I have a distinctive laugh, one that other children used to try to make me laugh just to hear. Adults don’t usually point out unusual laughs. And then Greg reminded me of family get-togethers and the time I camped out with his sister. Neighbor boys had tried to scare us by crawling on the roof of the camper and scratching on it like panthers. That memory put me squarely back in my childhood. I wrote a story about this after he left.

We both shared stories that reminded us who we used to be and who that inner child in us still is. What a great benefit from such a small investment in time!

Ronica and her cousin Greg