Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Welcome Kate Messner, author of Sugar and Ice (ages 9 - 12)

I adored reading Sugar and Ice, Kate Messner's new novel that explores a young girl's experiences in the competitive world of ice skating. I asked Kate to reflect a bit on what it is like to juggle being a mom, a teacher and a writer - how she has time to do all these things. See my review of Sugar and Ice here.

Welcome Kate!

Being a writer along with a full-time middle school teacher and mom can be a tricky business. Kids have to be picked up from track practice and skating lessons, dinner has to be made and bedtime read-alouds done before it’s writing time at our house. And the truth is, I probably wouldn’t be able to pull off this balancing act if my family weren’t so supportive and involved. Turning a writing life into a family affair can be tricky, but it’s also brought us some unexpected joys.

For starters, my kids and their friends serve as a constant source of ideas for plotlines and dialogue. I confess to listening in when I’m driving around a car full of 14-year-old boys or 9-year-old girls, and I’ve even been known to jot down especially great lines of stolen dialogue at red lights.

SUGAR AND ICE was a book that grew out of my daughter’s hobby of figure skating. It was at a basic skills skating camp in Lake Placid that I first heard sports psychologist Dr. Mara Smith talk about her work with competitive skaters and their families to keep the sport a healthy, happy one, and I knew right away that the skating rink, with all its drama and competitiveness, would be a great setting for a story. What if a kid who wasn’t used to all that were suddenly plunged into the middle of that world? That “what-if” question led me to Claire, the girl from a small-town maple farm who would become the main character in SUGAR AND ICE, earning an unexpected scholarship to train with the elite in Lake Placid.

My daughter and her fellow skaters at our local club read early versions of the manuscript and saved me from a great deal of embarrassment when it comes to the details of skating. “No,” they’d write on the manuscript in colored pencil. “You don’t plant your toe pick when you’re doing a salchow.”

Our family takes research trips together, too – like the weekend we spent in Lake Placid, watching a friend skate at Junior Nationals and “collecting” skating outfits in photographs and notes to be used later in the book’s descriptions. Other books have taken us to Washington, D.C. for an early-morning, behind-the-scenes tour of the Smithsonian and to Costa Rica, where my daughter and I spent a long, rainy afternoon on the porch of our lodge scribbling details from our morning hike through the forest.

Sure, there are times when I retreat to my writing room in the back of the house, too. But in the end, it’s the together-times that make this writing life so much fun. When we celebrate the release of SUGAR AND ICE at the official book launch at The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid on December 11th, it’ll be as a family, and the book signing will be followed by a family dinner, complete with dessert and lots of laughter.

Thank you so much, Kate, for stopping by! I'm amazed how you juggle it all. If you'd like to learn more about Kate, head over to her website and blog.

Want a personalized, signed copy of SUGAR AND ICE?

The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid is hosting a SUGAR AND ICE launch party from 3-5 pm on Saturday, December 11th, so please consider this your invitation if you live in the area! If you can’t make it but would still like a signed, personalized copy, just give the bookstore a call at (518) 523-2950 by December 10th. They’ll take your order, have Kate sign your book after the event, and ship it out to you in plenty of time for the holidays.

Junior Library Guild Selection
Winter 2010-2011 Kids IndieNext List
An Amazon.com Best Book for December
For Claire Boucher, life is all about skating on the frozen cow pond and in the annual Maple Show right before the big pancake breakfast on her family's maple farm. But all that changes when Claire is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity-a scholarship to train with the elite skaters in Lake Placid. Tossed into a world of mean girls on ice, where competition is everything, Claire soon realizes that her sweet dream-come-true has sharper edges than she could have imagined. Can she find the strength to stand up to the people who want her to fail and the courage to decide which dream she wants to follow?

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds awesome. I can't wait to read it. And I love how Kate includes her family in her writing life, especially in the celebrations!