Wednesday, January 30, 2019

JUST START (HOLLY SCHINDLER)

We've written quite a bit on what makes a great first line, what our favorite first lines are.

But when do we find those first lines? At what part of the process?

The first lines of my books are never, NEVER the first thing I write. I usually don't find them until several drafts in.

Often, I don't even know what the true first scene is when I start. I just start.

What does the first line tell us? Who the character is. What the problem is. Maybe even what the theme is. That's why so many cite the first line of CHARLOTTE'S WEB as being a great opener. With, "Where's Pa going with that ax?" we get a rural setting. We get a child's voice. And we get issues of life and death.

But when do we know our character and our theme? Not when we open a new file. It's a few drafts in.

Don't fall in love with that first line the first time you write it. Don't get so used to seeing it that you stop questioning it. When you write the first line the first time, just think of it as a placeholder. A way to get started.

You don't know what your first line is until you get a chance to meet the rest of your book.


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

First Lines, Last Word...

By Charlotte Bennardo

The theme this month is first lines or international creativity. I'm going with first lines.

Once you start attending writing conferences and meet with editors and agents, they emphasize the importance of the 'hook' or the first line to pull readers in. We spend so much time writing and re-writing the beginnings of our novels, and especially the first line.

Photo courtesy of Pexels, Inc.

But what makes a great first line? I did some perusing around the net to see what people considered was the best. I checked the Top 100 Opening Lines as chosen by the American Book Review. Hmmm. I stopped at the first 50. They seem to favor certain classic authors, it didn't matter that a lot of these first lines would be red-inked by editors today (too wordy, too long, too passive), and none were written after 1999. So I checked with Gawker. A few more current titles, but still, I was not impressed. (I'm not going to tell you which ones I thought were dumb; look for yourself and decide.)

But first lines are subjective like the books themselves; some will hate it, some love it, and sometimes who knows what the writer/editor/critics were thinking. We writers put a lot of thought and revision into our first lines, but if the first line doesn't pull you in, skip to the second or third line or even the next chapter.

Here are a few more Best First Lines from other sources:

Signature Reads

Scribendi

Bored Panda

BuzzFeed

Happy reading!

Monday, January 28, 2019

The Hook That Sold Zillions of Women's Magazines (and Beauty Products, and Self-Help Books, and So Forth)


As I was thinking about first lines for this month's theme, I ran through so many wonderful famous first lines in my head. And then I happened upon this story in the news about a cosmetics company making women feel bad about cellulite on their thighs. And immediately I knew which famous first line I wanted to write about.


“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.”

This, of course, is the first line of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, a book I might likely have never read had it not been assigned in a graduate class I took many years ago called Literature in Popular Culture. We read it alongside a fascinating book called The Myth of Aunt Jemima and had many interesting discussions about so many aspects of the novel, none of which I will get into here as I focus on this brilliant first line. 

First of all, I find it sort of hilarious that Hollywood completely ignored the first line of the novel by casting Vivien Leigh, who was most certainly beautiful. But I think what Mitchell did by making her book's heroine an average-looking woman was to make her much more interesting. And I think Margaret Mitchell was an ingenious salesperson because she tapped into the female psyche in ways that advertisers are apparently still trying to catch up to.

How many magazine cover lines have for decades promised to make women better looking, more interesting, and happier...but mainly, you know, better looking? Because if we were better looking, we'd be more interesting and happier, right? We'd be "the beautiful people," who are...well, a little better than us regular folk. Isn't that the bill of goods women have been sold for...forever? If we just buy this magazine, or this face cream, or this diet book....

I guess that's what makes me cheer a little bit when I read Mitchell's first line about Scarlett. She's not beautiful. But you know what she is? Charming. Unlike beauty, charm is a thing that can be learned. You can study it. Practice it. And of course, the promise of this ingenious first line is that maybe, just maybe, if you can stick with Mitchell through 1,000+ pages, you can learn it, too. 

I'm not an expert on psychology, but I have to think that that first line may have been the hook that pulled in so many readers. Say what you will about Scarlett (and there's a lot to say, no doubt), but she knew a thing or two about using charm to get her way. A romance novel with a heroine who's not beautiful? Certainly it was risky to buck the formula, and so boldly, from the very first line, no less! But Mitchell went for it.

I'm not saying Scarlett would've rallied women to show their cellulite with pride. In fact, I kind of think that she'd have been the first one to run the ad shaming cellulite if she thought she could make a buck doing so. She was all about female empowerment if the female in question were herself, but Scarlett rarely concerned herself with other women, whom she actually didn't even like, or big pictures about kindness and justice, which were things so overwhelming they would have to be thought about tomorrow (or in Scarlett's reality, never). Mitchell never actually said Scarlett was someone we should emulate, just that she was charming...

A crucial piece of characterization that proved to be an irresistible formula for hooking readers.



Sunday, January 27, 2019

Music and the Creative Process

I was recently asked by a writer friend to respond to this question (below), and given the January theme of creativity, I thought I'd share my answer here. If you're inclined, please share your own responses in the comments! 

HOW DOES MUSIC PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?


99% of the time, I write alone and in silence. That said, I’ll add that some large percentage of my non-writing time is filled with music. And some amount of that time is filled with bad singing and (yes, I’ll own it) not-half-bad dancing. I sing in the car all the time, and I dance like a fool around my house whenever I get the chance. Because here’s the thing. I once heard a writer at a conference talk about using other artistic pursuits as a way of maintaining her connection with the kind of free-flowing creative mindset that can become elusive at the keyboard, when the job of writing is a daily requirement. And I totally agree. I love to sing and dance anyway, but more to the point, I believe in the tangible benefits of putting myself into that creative mindset on a regular basis, where there are no mistakes, no revisions required, no deadlines, and no audience to pass judgement. For the woman I mentioned above, it was knitting that got her there. Maybe for someone else, it’s doodling, or painting, or designing roller coasters. For me, it all flows from my love of music, and more specifically, from the way I use music to make a private fool of myself, every chance I get. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Never Not a Lovely Moon--Smack Dab in the Imagination by Dia Calhoun

Never Not a Lovely Moon: The Art of Being Your Self by Caroline McHugh has my imagination delighted. McHugh has a fresh and inspiring way of taking a familiar idea and flipping it--to startling effect.

Image result for never not a lovely moon My favorite line, and one that caused a young woman I mentor in creative writing to say, "wow," is this: "...become a verb, so you can do who you be."  Do who you be. That certainly fires my imagination. I know that living from the inside out has always been my goal. I just never put it so succinctly.

Another favorite is, "The moment you arrived in the world, you were sentenced to life." Love the resonance of meanings in that simple line. 

The book is graphic art at it's best. Filled with provoking dye-cuts, folds, and with page turns worth of a picture book. It's pricey. But try to get your hands on a copy. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Creativity In the New Year

This post may be somewhat repetitious for me considering that last month I blogged about indulging in wasting time. This month I'd like to highlight a book with a very similar theme.


This book is at the top of my "To Be Read" pile in 2019. I can't wait to dive in and find out how much brilliance I can achieve with boredom. Though I haven't read through this book yet, just perusing the table of contents and seeing chapter titles such as "Digital Overload," "Doing the Deep Work," and "You are Brilliant," literally makes me giddy inside. 

I found this book and others about creativity while wandering the shelves of nonfiction at my public library, and I have to admit that once I started reading books about creativity, I realized how much, even as an author, I have drifted away from cultivating my creative heart and soul. I'm thankful for the authors who have taken time to step back and really contemplate the nuts and bolts of creativity and then taken the time to pull it altogether and share it with readers. 

So, if you're feeling like me, and wanting more creativity in the new year, I hope you'll check out this book and find a few on your own that encourage you to give yourself permission to do what's necessary to get the creative juices flowing in your life, even if that means allowing yourself a little boredom.  

Happy Boredom in the New Year,

Saturday, January 19, 2019

First lines and first loves

“There once was a cat….” is possibly the first line to (possibly many) of the first of my short stories as a child.

 As I grew into an adult writer, it didn’t change much: “Her striking beauty stared up at me from the front page of the Monday edition of The Daily Reporter.” It is a more polished sentence and hopefully has a little more catch, but it still refers to a cat. This is the first line from my first published novel, the middle grade mystery, “The Great Cat Nap.” It is the first in a series of adventures of Ace the Cat.

First lines for me are always much like a new love interest. They are shiny and new, full of possibility and wonder. Expectation, promises, butterflies in the stomach, blushing. The adventure of learning an entirely new language - the language of someone else, the language of this particular story. Hope. First lines are the start of potential, a fiery spark, and an entirely new journey through the brambles and tangles that are my mind and imagination. And I do not want the magic to end.

Much like falling in love, with starting a new novel, I lose my steps. Time collapses. All I am consumed with is this new novel ideal. I talk to myself mid-day, stretching that first sentence into futures and dialogue, plot lines and characters rich with depth, yet also crashing tensions and disaster, a moment of all lost hope, and finally, a happy ending. Or, mostly happy endings. You’ll find I don’t always believe in them in their entirety.

It’s true not all of my novels – or my unfinished manuscripts sitting on my computer like stones waiting to be unearthed from the beach – they did not all start with that first line, though so many of them have for me. Others began with a thought, a strand, a single word uttered by a character who begins to haunt me. Begging me, really, to write their story.

Writing in general is much like being in love, and many times, you fall out of love, just like with some manuscripts. Not all stories are meant to be finished, no matter how good that first line is, so not all of them will be. That's okay. Some are all right to be started and shelved until they are ready to reveal all their secrets and then be completed another day, month, year. Others, however, will be the best of you, the very best of your love and your life. They will endure the test of time and writer's block and self-doubt and rejection and fear. And if you’re really blessed, you’ll get to share that writing with someone else. You’ll share it with readers who crack the spine to lay their eyes on that very first line. That book will endure the test of time.

Happy reading!


(photo courtesy of istockphoto.com)

To celebrate the new year, I will be giving away a personally signed copy of The Great Cat Nap right here at Smack Dab in the Middle! To enter, just comment what your favorite first line is, or what book has your favorite first line. At the end of January, I will choose a random winner and mail the paperback copy. Good luck!


(photo by AM Bostwick)

Friday, January 18, 2019

A Book's First Line Is Not Its MOST Important Line

Here's my heretical opinion:

A book's first line is not its most important line.

Ditto for the last line.

Instead, as both writer and reader, I place most weight on  - ta-dah! - the last line of the first chapter. For me, this is where the book's central dramatic question can be posed most crisply and distilled most succinctly. It clarifies for the reader what the book, most fundamentally, is about.

I wrote an article in praise of this crucial, but often overlooked, line in an article for the SCBWI Bulletin a couple of years ago. (It's definitely my pet obsession.) There I argued,"If a book's opening sentence entices the reader to finish the first chapter, the last line of that chapter convinces the reader to finish the entire book."

So in the first chapter of the launch title in my Nora Notebooks series, The Trouble with Ants, budding-scientist and ant-lover Nora decides to try to break the Guinness World Record for youngest person ever to publish an article in a peer-reviewed science journal.
Nora's sure she's a shoe-in to smash the record: after all, isn't she already the leading ten-year-old expert on myrmecology, the scientific study of ants? She glances over at her ants scurrying about in their ant farm, and the chapter ends with this line: "They had no idea how important they were soon going to be to the future of science."

Likewise, in the final book in the series, The Trouble with Friends, I placed similar weight on the first chapter's closing line.
As the book opens, Nora's teacher gives his class a challenge to do something completely new over the course of the next six weeks, whether trying a new sport or musical instrument, eating a new food, learning a few words in a new language, or making a new friend, "preferably someone as different from you as possible." When Nora's nemesis, Emma, who is opposite from her in just about every way, approaches her with an invitation for a sleepover (the last thing in the world Nora would ever want to do),  I end the chapter this way: "A terrible suspicion began to form in Nora's brain: Emma's new project was her."

Whenever I work as a mentor with emerging middle-grade writers, in manuscript after manuscript I get to the end of the first chapter with no idea at all where the story is heading. It's the role of the first chapter's last line to serve as a signpost, pointing the way forward.

Now, I have to confess I read many brilliant, best-selling, award-winning middle-grade books that don't end their first chapter with that satisfying little CLICK! in the final sentence. But when I'm floundering in my own work-in-progress, nothing helps as much as tinkering with the first chapter's last line. It's where I answer the "What is this book about?" for me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Endings and Beginnings!

The Old Year


John Clare, 1793 – 1864
The Old Year's gone away
     To nothingness and night:
We cannot find him all the day
     Nor hear him in the night:
He left no footstep, mark or place
     In either shade or sun:
The last year he'd a neighbour's face,
     In this he's known by none.

 And welcome to the New Year!

I am reminded of what T.S. Elliot once said, that last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words are yet to be written.

So now we have an opportunity to begin a new story. A blank page is in front of me, and I’m still trying to figure out my first line. It’s intimating, writing that first line. An argument can be made that the beginning of the story is the most important. First impressions and all. In fact Jacob Appel suggests in his article, 10 Ways to Start Your Story Better,  believes that the fate of most literary endeavors is sealed within the initial paragraph, “and that the seeds of that triumph or defeat are usually sown by the end of the very first sentence.”

“In writing, as in dating and business, initial reactions matter. You don’t get a second chance, as mouthwash commercials often remind us, to make a first impression.”

Consider these iconic first lines:

Jane Austin, Pride and Prejudice (1813): It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851): Call me Ishmael.

George Orwell, 1984 (1949): It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities (1859) : It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850): Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451(1953): It was a pleasure to burn.

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1953): It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937): Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.

So I wrote my first line, to my new story. It reads:

To see the elephant: an American expression popular in the 19th century. It means to gain experience, overcome unexpected dangers and face the miseries of life, but at an extraordinary cost.

I’ll work on it.

What is the first line to your new story? 

Bobbi Miller

Monday, January 14, 2019

Interview with Author Jarrett Lerner, by Michele Weber Hurwitz


I’m so happy to be interviewing Jarrett Lerner today. He’s the author of EngiNerds (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin 2017) and the sequel, Revenge of the EngiNerds (also S&S/Aladdin), soaring into the world next month on February 19.

In the first book, Ken is an EngiNerd, one of a super-smart group of friends. Ken’s best friend Dan builds robots and secretly sends one to each of the EngiNerds. At first, Ken is thrilled – he has a robot on call to clean his room, walk the dog, and help with homework – but when Dan’s robot starts eating ravenously and causing mayhem, it’s up to the EngiNerds to save the day. The battle between boys and bots is on!

In the sequel, the crew returns in a nerdy new adventure. The EngiNerds are on the hunt for one rogue robot. But Ken’s the only one who seems concerned – the rest of the gang are MIA, and Ken thinks it’s because of a new girl in town who is obsessed with UFOs and aliens, and wants to join the EngiNerds. Will Ken be able to stop a rogue robot and a know-it-all, genius girl from wreaking havoc on the entire universe?  

These hilarious STEM adventure books, which also explore themes of leadership and friendship, have been a big hit. The first book was a 2018 Global Read Aloud finalist.

MWH: Welcome to the blog, Jarrett! Tell us about your upcoming sequel. Did you have a second book in mind when you wrote the first?

JL: Thank you so much for having me, Michele! It’s great to be here!
Revenge of the EngiNerds picks up right where EngiNerds leaves off – and it’s a good thing, I think, otherwise I might have some pretty upset readers! I did have this second book in mind when writing the first. I reached what I felt was a good stopping point in Book 1 – but the EngiNerds’ story certainly wasn’t done yet.

MWH: How did you come up with the idea for the books? I have to ask, were you (or are you) an EngiNerd?

JL: I often describe EngiNerds as “tinkerers” – people who are curious about the world around them and the things that make it up, and whose curiosity often manifests itself in a tactile manner. Which is just a fancy-pants way of saying that tinkerers like to get their hands on stuff. They like to take things apart and find out how they work. They like to build, to put together, to construct. Using that definition, yes – I am most definitely an EngiNerd, and I always have been. Chopstick catapults play a large part in the first book of the series, and as a kid, I really did build such things. I didn’t use the catapults to battle a horde of endlessly hungry, dangerously flatulent robots. But still.

Being an EngiNerd myself, it wasn’t too hard to write about such kids. But their story, perhaps surprisingly, originated from a place of frustration. My agent and I had been on submission with two other novels before I even started EngiNerds, and while I got some nibbles, there were no full-on bites. These novels were quite different than EngiNerds – they were longer, for one thing, and tackled more serious themes. One day, I sat down and told myself, “I’m going to write the exact sort of book that I would’ve gone gaga over when I was 10 years old.” EngiNerds rocketed out of me, and so did a whole bunch of other stuff. It’s a pretty simple thing – but just telling myself to write for a younger me helped me find what I believe to be my voice. It’s been five, maybe six years since I had that little epiphany, and I haven’t looked back since. 


MWH: Was writing a sequel easier, because you had the characters and story line in place? How was your writing process with the second book, as compared to the first?

JL: I don’t think I could say whether it was “easier” or “harder.” What I can say is that it was decidedly different. Sequels present particular challenges that stand-alone novels and series-starters don’t. They also offer unique pleasures that those other kinds of books don’t. It was a joy to return to all these characters I love, and to already know them so well. But when it came to plotting out the story, sometimes the characters’ fully-formed-ness got in the way. I couldn’t “massage” a character as I was writing for the sake of the tightness of the plot – and while revising, there were times when I really, really wished I could do that!


MWH: Tell us about your daily writing routine. Coffee shops? Work at home? Play music? Talk to the walls?

JL: Before I became a dad and before I started doing so much book-related traveling (both things happened at about the same time!), I had a much more regular routine. I’d wake up early, way before my wife, and drink an unreasonable amount of coffee while scrawling away in my notebooks. But even back then, I’d purposely upset my routines now and again. I don’t think it’s healthy or productive for a creator to get too precious about their routines. Because there’ll no doubt be times in your life when you can’t satisfy those ideal conditions, and then what? You lose a day of writing. Or a week. Or a month. Or a year.

I’m very, very glad I did all that intentional routine-upsetting. It prepared me well for my current situation, where one day I’ll have five whole uninterrupted hours to draw and write, and the next day I’ll have about five minutes. It’s not easy, but I’ve gotten better at maximizing my productivity at the drop of a hat. Sometimes, nap time is the ONLY time I get to work, or a few minutes in the morning before going off to a school visit. I make the most out of every single one of those seconds.


MWH: You’re one of the founders of MG Book Village, an online hub for all things middle grade. Can you explain how that came about, and what the site hopes to achieve?

JL: It all started on Twitter, with a month-long celebration of Middle Grade literature set up by Annaliese Avery – #MGBooktober. The whole thing really took off, and Annaliese asked me to help her out with it. As the month was coming to a close, people expressed their sadness that the celebration – and the community it had brought together around books on a daily basis – was ending. And so Annaliese, librarian Kathie MacIsaac, and I created a Twitter celebration for November, and for December. It was during THAT month that we decided to launch the site, mostly just as a place to organize our future Twitter fun, but also as a place for members of the community – authors, educators, librarians, and KIDS – to share whatever they might want to. Just like our Twitter events, the site sort of exploded. A few months after getting things going, we teamed up with the MG at Heart Book Club and Corrina Allen (from the Books Between podcast) and, in addition to everything they do at the site, we host cover reveals, conduct interviews, share thought pieces, and post book reviews. Most recently, we launched a weekly Twitter chat (#MGBookChat), which happens pretty much every Monday night at 9 pm EST. EVERYONE is welcome at the Village, so if anyone reading this has something they’d like to share or suggest we do, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

MWH: You’re also the co-organizer of #KidsNeedMentors. The mentor project connects authors to classrooms for an entire school year with multiple Skype visits and a variety of author-student interaction. It’s been a successful first year, with hundreds of educators and authors on board. Tell us what’s next for this amazing program.



JL: This first year has been beyond successful – it’s more than the other co-organizers and I could’ve possibly hoped for. We’ve already got a massive waitlist for next year, and foresee even more educators and librarians applying, and so will be making a big push to recruit more creators in an effort to allow everyone involved who wants to be involved. Find out more here. And to follow along with the program and see the impact it’s having, follow the #KidsNeedMentors hashtag on Twitter. Participants are posting about the amazing things they’re doing all the time!


MWH: Do you have a favorite childhood book and/or reading memory? What inspired you to become an author?

JL: I vividly remember all the books that my fourth-grade teacher, Mr. Lombard, read aloud to my class. He had a deep, gravelly, booming voice, and he’d use that to narrate, but he’d also come up with a different voice for each and every character, some of them highly silly. I particularly remember him reading us The BFG, and the way all 25 or 30 of us would go from laughing out loud to sniffling with sadness. Those experiences really drove home how powerful stories could be – and storytelling too.
From then on, I was hooked on books. Even when reading wasn’t the main thing I was doing, I always had a book or two going. I was addicted to stories, and their unique brand of magic. And I think all of us creators have something inside of us, a spark that fizzes a bit whenever we encounter a work of art, and that this little reaction compels us to try and make some art of our own. And so I started writing my own stories and making my own comic books, and sooner or later, that spark of mine really started to sizzle, and then it flared up into a full-blown fire.

Even so, it wasn’t until I was in college that I really, truly believed I could be an author. It took having an author I looked up to a great deal encouraging me to go for it – and then giving me some practical advice on how to go for it – for me to believe in myself enough to take that leap. That’s one of the reasons I spend so much of my time connecting with kids and helping others do the same. If fourth-grade Jarrett had met a published author or illustrator, if I’d come to see that they were also just book-lovers who’d put in a lot of work to get where they were, if I’d been given even the slightest bit of acknowledgement, validation, encouragement – or even just information! – from them, it would’ve changed my life.


MWH: What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

JL: I’ve run two marathons, and a whole bunch of half-marathons. One of the half-marathons was in Iceland, which was a particularly amazing run. I haven’t had the time in a while to get back into long-distance running, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling of exhausted accomplishment you get after a long, hard run.

MWH: Can you share some advice you’d give to writers hoping to break in to middle grade? How long did it take you to get published, and what bumps did you encounter along the way?

JL: For years, I thought I was a YA author. It took several finished manuscripts, and several rounds of feedback from my agent in which she kept on mentioning that all of my supposedly young adult characters felt “too young,” before I even realized I wrote MG. So, I guess that was all a pretty big bump. Pretty much as soon as I discovered and fully embraced my “MG-ness,” I started producing much better work, and started selling books. But it took years of trying to cram my MG stories into a YA mold before I got there.

Sometimes I look back on it all and wish I’d figured it out sooner, but really, I know I had to write all that unpublished (and unpublishable) stuff before I could get here. It’s part of the process of finding yourself. And every day that I sit down to create, I’m still engaging in that process, still trying to figure out exactly who I am as a creator. So, I guess that’d be my advice – to embrace the process. To try to be patient with it, and with yourself. Nothing happens quickly in this industry. And when you get to where you’re supposed to be, you’ll be glad for all you learned on the journey.

MWH: What are you working on next?

JL: I’ve got an early chapter book series, GEEGER THE ROBOT, launching in 2020, and another project I can’t quite talk about yet coming out later on in 2020. I’ve also got lots of other projects in various stages of completion. I’m rarely working on just one thing at a time. Usually it’s two or three, or even four or five.

MWH: Last question, tell us 1) your favorite ice cream flavor, 2) the craziest question you’ve been asked at a school visit, and 3) if you had to choose, would you rather be Superman or Batman 😊 ?

JL: Okay… 1) Mint chocolate chip. Or no – coffee. Or actually anything that has health bar in it. Or – or – or –
2) I once got asked – extensively – about my diet. Maybe it’s because I write so much about food? Or maybe they were doing some sort of diet-related project in their classes? I don’t know, but these kids wanted to know what I ate and when I ate it and how much of it I ate. Which was all fine by me, as eating is one of my favorite pastimes.
3) I want to say Batman, because he’s got the house and the cave and all the cool gizmos and gadgets. But he’s such a BUMMER. He’s definitely the sulkiest of the superheroes. But Superman has always felt, to me, a little too upstanding and righteous. Like, I can’t imagine him having fun. And I think Batman at least has a sense of humor – it’s just really, really, really dark. So, yeah – Batman. But a bit begrudgingly.

Good luck on the release of Revenge of the EngiNerds! Find the book here on Indie Bound.



Jarrett Lerner can be found at jarrettlerner.com, on Twitter at @Jarrett_Lerner, and on Instagram at @jarrettlerner. He lives in Medford, Massachusetts, with his wife, his daughter, and a cat.


Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of four middle grade novels, with a fifth coming in 2020. Find her at micheleweberhurwitz.com