30 October

BLINK BLOG: Fall Memories

It’s the final installment in the fall series of the Blink Blog! Read below for some of our authors favorite fall memories and to hear what has been inspiring them!

Favorite elementary school memory?

Alison Gervais: My elementary school in California used to have a Halloween parade, and I always loved it. We got to dress up in costumes and go around the school and get lots of candy. I loved it!

Christina June: This isn’t exactly a favorite, but on my very first day of kindergarten, I threw up during the fire drill.  I was out sick for a few days after that – definitely memorable!

Mary Rand Hess: I was in sixth grade, performing in a traveling play based on the novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I played Aunt March and had to wear a white wig and shawl. One time my braces got caught in my best friend’s shawl, and I had mere seconds to free my teeth before my lines. It’s not necessarily the most joyful memory, but it makes me (and others) laugh to this day.

McCall Hoyle: In elementary school, I had a gray pony named Duchess. She was my best friend. I could spend hours (days if my parents would have allowed it) roaming the woods and creeks of North Georgia. The best part was making up stories in my head about Native Americans, Revolutionary War Soldiers, Civil War Spies. If I wasn’t lost in some great historical event, I was Nancy Drew looking for clues and solving mysteries. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was preparing to write my own stories someday.

Stephanie Morrill: Favorite elementary school memory?: Writing stories and reading them out loud to the class. I remember clearly having time for this in early elementary school, and it’s what made me want to be an author when I grew up.

What has been inspiring you lately?

Alison Gervais: I would say my job has been inspiring me right now. I currently work in D/deaf/Hard of Hearing services, and I am so inspired by the consumers I work with. There are far more obstacles than there should be right now for the Deaf community – like ignorance and lack of effective communication – and I am in awe of how graciously my consumers overcome these obstacles.

Christina June: I’ve been so busy writing college recommendation letters that I’m happy to just marinate on new ideas.  The cooling weather puts me in the mood to write, so I’ll be glad when I have more time.

Mary Rand Hess: The helpers in the world inspire me…those who get out of their comfort zone to make a difference.

McCall Hoyle: My students inspire me. Teaching inspires me. Connecting with teenagers inspires me and renews my faith in the possibility of a beautiful future. I kind of have the two best jobs in the world—teaching and writing!

Stephanie Morrill: What has been inspiring you lately?: Most of the year I’ve been reading obsessively about the Japanese American experience during WWII for my upcoming release with Blink. I expected to be saddened and horrified by what I learned (and I was) but I didn’t expect to feel so deeply inspired by a group of people I’ve never known. Most of them took an awful, unfair situation that stripped away their rights and still they created beautiful communities within those barbed wire fences. I’m in awe of their strength and courage.

Any favorite childhood memories from fall?

Alison Gervais: I’ve always loved apple picking! Even now, it’s a family affair, and now that my siblings and I are all grown up and my sisters have children, my nieces and nephews are going apple picking with us too. Their excitement is infectious. Afterward we’ve been going to this cute little restaurant called the Gooseberry Patch and we order a bunch of slices of pie. It’s great.

Christina June: Going to the pumpkin patch, trick-or-treating, and most importantly, MY BIRTHDAY, which is in October and celebrated all month.

Mary Rand Hess: One of my favorite memories is carving pumpkins and baking pumpkin seeds with my dad. Afterward, we’d join in on the neighborhood Halloween parade, where a large antique fire truck blared its sirens as we marched in costume.

McCall Hoyle: I grew up in North Georgia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Every fall, we would visit places like Helen, and Dahlonega, and Blairsville to search for changing leaves. Our daytrips generally revolved around family and nature and always included a steaming brown bag of boiled peanuts and good times.

Stephanie Morrill: Picking out new clothes was always a favorite fall activity of mine. I was a little bummed when I stopped growing and needing new clothes every year!


12 October

Blink Blog: Pumpkin Spice Lattes + Reading Lists

The #BlinkBlog is back! Read below to see what our authors are reading and get a glimpse in from our Blink authors!

Pumpkin Spice Latte fan?

Alison Gervais: Not really a pumpkin spice latte fan anymore! I’ll have maybe one frappachino a season now, but that’s about it.

Christina June: Yes, but not die-hard.  I’ll treat myself to one or two a season.

Heather Maclean: Nope. I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life, so sadly I miss out on the PSL experience. I do, however, make a mean pumpkin bread. I do dunk it in my tea–does that count?

Mary Rand Hess: I enjoy a pumpkin spice latte, but prefer a cappuccino or hot tea.

McCall Hoyle: I start stalking the local grocery stores in late August for anything pumpkin flavored—cream cheese, cookies, Krispy Kreme donuts. So yes to Pumpkin Spice Latte with a capital Y.

Stephanie Morrill: Not so much. I mean, I’ll drink one, but it’s not my go-to drink. I’m an enthusiastic coffee drinker, but a basic one.


What’s on your reading list this fall?

Alison Gervais: Right now I’m reading Outlander by Diana Galbadon. It’s great so far, but it’s also a huge novel, so between work and writing, it might take me until the end of fall to finish!

Christina June: THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM by Dave Connis, DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone, and MOXIE by Jennifer Mathieu.

Heather Maclean: The new sequel for my all-time favorite book from my all-time favorite author: Ken Follett’s “A Column of Fire.”

Mary Rand Hess: Here’s what I’m reading this fall: Refugee by Alan Gratz, The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie, The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle, In 27 Days by Alison Gervais, A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood, Olio by Tyehimba Jess, The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins, Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings by Joy Harjo, Where Now (New and Selected Poems) by Laura Kasischke, my favorite bedtime stories, Cy Makes a Friend by Ann Marie Stephens and Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth, and finally, manuscripts from my amazing writing group friends, and the Bible.

McCall Hoyle: There are not enough hours in the day to read all the books I want to read, but two books that I know I’ve preordered and will read this fall are Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and Dear Martin by Nic Stone, a fellow 2017 debut author.

Stephanie Morrill: Sarah Dessen’s Once and for All. It came out over the summer, but I never get much reading time until my kids go back to school.

Share about a day in the life of you as an author.

Alison Gervais: A day in my life as an author consists of work (not too exciting there) and writing. I’m always writing! I’ll pull up a word document on the computer or sometimes have a pen and paper nearby to jot down stuff when I can. Nothing too glamorous.

Christina June: Get kiddo and me off to work, snag a few minutes of writing or promo before contract begins, work 8 hours, go home and snag a few more minutes of writing, family time, bed time for kiddo, sneak in some more writing or promo, downtime with my husband, pass out.

Mary Rand Hess: On an average day, I have a little breakfast and get my sons off to school, exchange emails or texts with my writing partner, Kwame Alexander, and maybe jump on a conference call or two. Sometimes, I take a late morning nap (because I was up until 3 a.m. writing the night before). Then I take my dogs out, come back inside to read, listen to music, and start writing and dreaming. Or I meet up with my writing group pals at one of our favorite writing spots. This goes on for about four hours or so. Then I break for a late lunch, and catch up with my sons after school. We run around town to go here and there. When my husband gets home, we like to take a walk or workout. Then we all have dinner before or after my sons’ basketball practices. We blink, and it’s getting late and everyone is settling in for the night, finishing up homework, and getting ready for bed. This is when the real writing begins. I love writing when it seems the world is asleep. I make tea, write and read for another 3 to 5 hours. Sounds like a laundry list, right? About that laundry…

McCall Hoyle: I love talking to readers, so I spend almost as much time conducting school visits and library visits as I do teaching high school English and writing. I also spend lots of time daydreaming about all the stories in my head.

Stephanie Morrill: Prepare yourself to be awed by my glamorous author life. (Ha ha ha.) The older two are in elementary school, but my youngest is just two and home with me. When he naps, I heat up leftovers and ignore my messy house as I shut myself in my office. I write first so that I make sure it happens. I write for at least an hour. Two, if I don’t have much else on my “must do today” work list. When I’m done writing for the day, I spend the rest of my time drafting or editing blog posts for GoTeenWriters.com, responding to emails, interacting on social media, or other non-writing but writing-related type things. On a good day when my toddler naps well, I get three hours before I morph back into a mom and go pick up my kids. In busy seasons, I also work after the kids are in bed.




06 October

BLINK BLOG: Fall Favorites + Back To School

The #BlinkBlog is BACK!! Read below to see some of our authors’ fall favorites and back to school tips.

Do you have any Back To School traditions?

Alison Gervais: Since I recently just graduated with my bachelor’s, I won’t be heading back to school anytime soon! Perhaps I’ll start new back to school traditions for my masters degree.

Christina June: As both my husband and I work in schools, and we have an elementary school-aged kiddo, we’re basically just trying to survive during this time of year.  I do like to take first day of school photos with my daughter.

Heather Maclean: We hit the Renaissance Faire every year right before school starts up again. Full costumes, turkey leg snacks, and jousting–perfect prep for a new school year!

Mary Rand Hess: We shop for school supplies last minute, and pretend summer is still in season…until it’s time for bed the night before school officially begins. It’s not that we don’t like school, it’s just hard to let go of summer and all its freedom.

McCall Hoyle: As a teacher, I love buying school supplies, especially large quantities of purple Pentel pens. They literally glide across the paper and the colorful ink makes my teacher heart very happy.

Stephanie Morrill: Writing! I enjoy the extra time with my kids during the summer, but I’m always happy when they return to school and I again get daily writing time.

What was your favorite subject in school?

Alison Gervais: My favorite subject in school has always been anything English related, i.e. creative writing, reading, (sometimes) poetry. I’m actually still in touch with some of my previous English teachers; I’ve been very fortunate to have teachers who have always encouraged me to pursue my passion for writing.

Christina June: When I was little, I loved language arts, especially the days we had “sustained silent reading.”  Later on, I was partial to French and choir.

Mary Rand Hess: My favorite subject in school was English. I got as excited about poetry as some people get about football and basketball games.

McCall Hoyle: No surprises here. English. I love reading. I love writing. And I love talking. The English classroom is the perfect place to talk about themes, and symbolism, and connect books to my own life and the world around me. I’ve always been a dreamer and love exploring the “what ifs” in fiction.

Stephanie Morrill: I loved English, of course. History felt fun if we were studying something that interested me. Anything that involved lots of dates and battles bored me, but I was always very interested in lifestyles of people from different times and cultures.

Any back to school tips for students?Alison Gervais: One piece of advice I would pass along to students is to just remain calm! A class or two might seem overwhelming at first, but that won’t mean it will be that way for the rest of the semester.

Christina June: Seek balance.  Work hard in school, but always make time for fun too.

Heather Maclean: The motto in my house is: “You only have to go to school tomorrow.” Of course, that phrase resets every day… but it teaches them to just take one day at a time, and not get overwhelmed.

Mary Rand Hess: Take it one day at a time, one assignment at a time, and remember to make your own time to enjoy a little free time to dream and create. That’s a lot of “time,” but the future belongs to creators who make time to dream.

McCall Hoyle: Read. A lot. For Pleasure. I apologize, but I’m getting ready to sound like a teacher. Reading for pleasure is the number one indicator of academic success. The more time students spend reading for pleasure the better they do in school. And reading fiction makes human beings more empathetic. I’m pretty sure this world could use all the kind, tolerant, empathetic human beings she can find. So what are you waiting for? Go grab a book!

Stephanie Morrill: This is going to make me sound like the mom that I am, but try to get a healthy amount of sleep every night. There are so, so many studies out about how depriving ourselves of sleep is damaging to our health.

What’s your favorite thing about fall?

Christina June: The crisp chill in the air, leaves changing color, and breaking out my sweaters.

Heather Maclean: Most people think I’m crazy for saying this, but the smell of snow on the breeze! I love cold weather!

McCall Hoyle: Everything. Fall is my favorite season. I love warm sweaters and fuzzy socks. I love pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin cheesecake, and lighting a roaring fire in the fireplace and listening to it crackle while I lose myself in a good book. Honestly, what is there to not like about fall?

Stephanie Morrill: How can I possibly pick? Watching the leaves change. Hearing them crunch under my boots when I walk my kids to school. Crisp mornings and evenings. Sweaters. Honeycrisp apples returning to the grocery stores. I adore this season!