Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Author: Bobbie Pyron Interview and Giveaway!

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I'd like to welcome children's author, Bobbie Pyron, to the blog today to feature her newest release, as part of Premier Virtual's tour! Welcome to Books à la Mode today, Bobbie! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief bio with us?

Bobbie was born in Hollywood, Florida and spent her growing up years up in the panhandle, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and dreaming of being a mermaid. She has degrees in Psychology and Anthropology, and a Masters degree in Library Science, and has worked as a librarian for over twenty-five years.

Her first book, a novel for teens titled The Ring (WestSide Books), was published in October of 2009. Her second book, A Dog's Way Home (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books), was published to starred reviews in March of 2011. The Dog Writers Association of America recently awarded Bobbie the Maxwell Medal of Excellence and the Merial Human-Animal Bond Award. It was also named a Banks Street Best Books of the Year.

Her new book, The Dogs of Winter (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic), came out October of 2012. The Dogs of Winter is a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Kirkus Best 100 Children’s Books of the Year. Bobbie lives in Park City, Utah with her husband, three dogs, and two cats.

What is The Dogs of Winter about?

Page Count: 320
Release Date: 1 October, 2012
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)

Genre: Middle-grade, adventure, coming-of-age
Audience: Middle-grade: Ages 10 and up

A small boy, a cruel city, and the incredible dogs who save him.
Based on a true story! 
When Ivan's mother disappears, he's abandoned on the streets of Moscow, with little chance to make it through the harsh winter. But help comes in an unexpected form: Ivan is adopted by a pack of dogs, and the dogs quickly become more than just his street companions: They become his family. Soon Ivan, who used to love reading fairytales, is practically living in one, as he and his pack roam the city and countryside, using their wits to find food and shelter, dodging danger, begging for coins. But Ivan can’t stay hidden from the world of people forever. When help is finally offered to him, will he be able to accept it? Will he even want to?

A heart-pounding tale of survival and a moving look at what makes us human.

How did you first get published? Tell us your call story.

I’d always wanted to be a writer from the time I was about nine years old. I couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful than creating a whole world that others would want to read. But my life (like most of ours) took many twists and turns before I started writing seriously—about seven years ago. I started out writing picture books (none of which have been published) and did that for about two years. Then one day, I started hearing this teenage girl’s voice talking in my head about her life. The only way I could get rid of the voice was to write it down. That eventually became my first book, The Ring, which was published in 2009. During those years between when I first started writing and The Ring got published was filled with exhilaration, crushing disappointment, lots of workshops and conferences, many rejection letters, and finally, an agent. Getting an agent made a huge difference for me. Finally, I had someone who was in my corner, who got me past the Gatekeepers! My second book, A Dog's Way Home, was published in 2011 by Katherine Tegen Books of HarperCollins, and now, The Dogs of Winter. I’ve also published two short stories for Scholastic’s magazines Scope and Storyworks.

Sounds like a roller-coaster of a journey—both emotionally and career-wise! How do you react to negative or harsh reviews of your books?

I wish I could say I’m philosophical about it and just say, “Well, not every book is for every reader,” but I don’t. I get hurt, angry, defensive, and insecure when I get a negative review. Honestly, most authors do. For instance, when The Dogs of Winter first came out, it was reviewed by a well-known author of a well-known memoir about his dog. The review appeared in a national newspaper and it was not particularly favourable. Never mind that I strongly disliked his book, and never mind that The Dogs of Winter has gone on to garner three starred reviews and lots of praise, it’s that negative review I remember best. Maybe one day I’ll develop a tougher skin, but I doubt it.

It's very admirable for you to reveal how you honestly feel. I can only imagine how disappointing it may be to receive negative reviews (even though I'm usually the perpetrator—an author's living nightmare: candid AND cheeky; if I don't like a book, you'll be the first to know!) But it's also amazing how you authors can stay strong, keep your heads up, and keep on writing! Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you'd known before getting published. 

Getting published is not the be all and end all. You think once you get published all your problems—personal and otherwise—will be solved. You’ll be skinnier, wealthier, have greater self-esteem. Anything you write will be published! None of that is true. And here’s the kicker: once you’re published, you will never have the same freedom to write whatever you like. Your creativity will never again be that unfettered. So I can’t say this enough: Enjoy the journey! Enjoy the process! And as weird as it sounds, enjoy being unpublished while you can!

Now give us your best personal advice—something you wish you'd known when you were younger and would offer to your own kids.

Don’t take everything so seriously. Like getting bad book reviews ;)

What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Patience, determination, a sense of humor, self-discipline, curiosity, tolerance for aloneness, and dogs who will force you to go outside and play!

Where can you be found on the web?

It was wonderful having you over at the blog today, Bobbie! Thank you so much for joining us, and good luck with the rest of the tour.


Readers, Bobbie has been generous enough to offer one hardcover copy of The Dogs of Winter to one lucky US resident. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below:
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends 6 March 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only. Sorry, international! Check my sidebar for international giveaways
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I will be selecting the winner, I am in no way responsible for the prize, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!