NaNoWriMo update with Angela Sage Larsen

With the finish line for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) looming — see it there just ahead, on the other side of Thanksgiving? — I thought this would be the perfect time to check in with my friend Angela Sage Larsen and find out how she’s doing.

Not only is Angela participating in NaNo this year — she’s also being offered as a prize!  Well, her expertise is being offered. Read on to learn more….

Angela Sage Larsen
Angela Sage Larsen

Isn’t she gorgeous? And check out that cool purple streak in her hair — Angela is not only braver than me, signing up to participate in NaNo, she’s also w-a-y hipper.

Angela is the author of the fabulous Petalwink books and the oh-so-fun Fifties Chix time-traveling adventure series. Actually, she not only wrote all these books, SHE ILLUSTRATED THEM. (I put that in last bit in caps because as most of you know, I can’t even draw stick figures–I’m just in awe of artists.) As if that weren’t enough, Angela is also hard at work these days writing a musical.  (Click here to learn more about Petalwink: The Musical).

Let’s see, she’s wildly creative, amazingly versatile, can actually say the words “I’m writing a musical” with a straight face, and she has a cool purple streak in her hair? How can we possibly be friends? Oh, that’s right — because she’s TOTALLY AWESOME.

HVF:  You’re a NaNoWriMo first-timer, Angela, right?

ASL: Yes. I’ve been a member of NaNo before, but I’ve never actually participated.

HVF:  So how’s it going?

ASL:  I’ve got 20,000 words — not quite halfway there.

HVF:  Think you’ll make it to the finish line?

ASL:  Well, I have a real-life deadline — the musical — so that has to take priority, but I’m hoping to!

HVF:  Why did you decide to hop aboard this year?

ASL: I don’t tend to complete things unless I have a deadline, so I’m using it as an excuse, as a kind of self-imposed deadline.

HVF: Can you tell us what you’re working on?

ASL: It’s something for adults for a change, a book about four best friends from college who promise to keep in touch, and who go on a trip together 20 years after they graduate.  We get to find out what the characters’ dreams were in college, and where they are now. It’s been really fun to work on.

HVF:  What are some of the things you like about NaNo?

ASL:  I love the pep talks they send right to your inbox. They’re super helpful. I’ll be coming back to those all year. [Editor’s note:  Click here to read a sample NaNo pep talk with Rainbow Rowell] Also, I don’t think I’ve ever done a word sprint before. They’ll set a goal and announce one on Twitter, and it’s kind of cool, knowing everyone else is trying to write [in a concentrated burst], too. At first I thought, “There’s no way,” but I squeezed in a half hour sprint one day, and was amazed that I got 2,000 words out.!

HVF:  Any other things about NaNo that you’ve particularly enjoyed?

ASL:  I did my first write-in! I went to a coffee shop, and there were probably about a dozen NaNo-ers there. It was hard, because I’m used to writing alone, and at home I have everything set up just the way I want, but I was surprised that I actually got some really good work done. Probably because I was concentrating so hard due to the noise. It was interesting to have that sense of camaraderie, but at the same time it forced me to work a little harder.

HVF: I don’t know about you, but I find there are more distractions at home than when I write at coffee shops. Especially four-legged distractions!

ASL:  I know! My dog Daisy is always popping in to say “Look how adorable I am, don’t you want to post a picture of me on Instagram?”

Daisy moping after the Red Sox win the World Series
Daisy moping after the Red Sox win the World Series


HVF:  With just days to go until the finish line — and that 50,000 word goal — what advice would you offer NaNo-ers?

ASL: I think now is the time to go for broke, to have something really dramatic happen in your story, even if that means going off in a totally unexpected direction. Wait, what is that alien doing here?  Now is the time to remind yourself that anything can happen. This is fiction!  This is the perfect time to drop in the wildest thing you can think of  and see what happens. Especially since it’s NaNo. Unless you have a book contract waiting for you, just go for it!  Have as much fun as possible.

HVF:  I understand you’ve been working on a brand-new series of Lit Guides for the Fifties Chix series?

50sChix book club header-no text

ASL: Yes! They’re actually kind of a perfect tie-in with NaNo, and especially the Young Writer’s Program.  The emphasis in the guides is on writing — how do I as a reader write my own stories? Each one has a different focus, such as establishing characters and setting, researching historical fiction, that sort of thing. There’s a guide for each book in the series, and they build on one another. Whatever you learn in one book, you take to the next level in the following book.

[Click here to learn more about Angela’s lit guides, including a free sample.]

HVF: Sounds great! Now I want to hear more about this contest from your publisher, FastPencil, who is an official sponsor of this year’s NaNoWriMo. I understand they’re offering you as the grand prize?

ASL: Well, it’s 2013, so they don’t get *me* as a prize, but the winner gets an hour-long consultation with me!! Lucky ducks. And just think, Heather — you can call me any time and I’ll talk your ear off for an hour for free.

HVF: The perks of friendship! 

Click here for all the details about FastPencil’s NaNoWriMo contest, including their grand prize, a $299 Print and eBook Wide Distribution Package and a one-hour phone call with best-selling author Angela Sage Larsen.



Important note for the Fifties Chix giveaway

All of your delicious malt shop comments are making me hungry! So fun!  BUT please don’t forget that in order to be entered in the giveaway you ALSO need to sign up for the Fifties Chix fan club. Click here to take care of that little detail, after you’ve asked your parents’ permission …

(It’s so worth it, trust me!  Angela is super creative, and is always coming up with fun “extras” for her fans — a newsletter, free stuff, exclusive sneak peeks at future books.  Hmmm … maybe I should take notes.)


A fun Fifties Chix giveaway!

Happy “book birthday” to my friend Angela Sage Larsen!  Here she is with her new baby:

Big #3 announcement

Can you tell she’s thrilled?  She’s glowing!  (Even more than usual, that is — Angela is a glowy kind of person, which is just one of the many things I love about her.)

I’m a big fan of Angela and her books.  Not only is she a talented artist, but she also has a clear sense of purpose about her art and her writing, which I admire.  “Strong Girls x Good Books” is her motto.  What’s not to love about that?!

Book 3 FC-3rd Times a charm

THIRD TIME’S A CHARM is the third (duh) in her “Fifties Chix” time travel series.  I’ll let her tell you more about the book (and don’t miss the giveaway at the end!):

Heather:  Imagine you find yourself in an elevator with a movie producer.  You have thirty seconds to pitch the FIFTIES CHIX.  How would you describe the series?

Angela:  I would tell her, first of all, what a big fan I am (of course) and then I would describe FIFTIES CHIX as Back to the Future meets Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: it’s about 5 girls who time travel from 1955 to present day.

Heather:  Tell me about how you came to write the books.

Angela:  My books and stories always start with characters and then asking “what if…?” I was inspired to write the Fifties Chix series after first drawing and painting five different characters just for fun (although at that point, I wasn’t thinking about writing a story about it, just enjoying drawing). I imagined what typical 1950s “teeny boppers” might be like — one girl obsessed with Hollywood and the movies (who became Judy), one girl who is a talented athlete who loves sports (Beverly), another who is a homemaker who enjoys sewing and cooking (Mary), one girl who is concerned about social issues (Maxine), and a girl who is very artistic and loves to paint (Ann). I imagined how they would act and what they would think–and even how others would perceive them–if they were to be dropped right in present day straight from the 1950s. The question that I’ve been trying to answer for myself by writing the series is ultimately, “What’s ‘better’–the 1950s, which everyone says was a ‘simpler time’, or present day?” I’m just starting to write the fifth and last book and I’m still not sure there’s a clear cut answer!

Heather:  What’s been the biggest surprise along the way?

Angela:  There have been so many; one of the biggest surprises is when I hear about which characters readers identify with. For example, I have readers who are soccer players that identify more with Mary–who likes to be organized and in charge–than with Beverly, who is a star athlete. It’s a happy surprise for me, because it means the characters have more than just one dimension.

 Heather:  You’re in a ’50s malt shop.  What one must-have item would you order?

Angela:  I have a question for you: why do I only get to pick one? 😉 I’d have to choose between a rootbeer float, hot fudge sundae (no nuts), and/or a chocolate shake.

Now it’s YOUR turn!  To enter the giveaway for a copy of THIRD TIME’S A CHARM, leave a comment below telling us what one favorite treat YOU would order at a ’50s malt shop, then sign up for the Fifties Chix fan club by clicking here!  (Make sure and ask your parents’ permission first.)  Giveaway ends at midnight January 23rd; one winner will be chosen at random and announced here on this blog on January 24th.  (US/Canada only, please.)


And the winners are…

*cue drumroll*

Judges in position …


And they’re off!

(I hide dog cookies in there to help speed the process.)

See that white slip sticking out a bit?  That came out stuck to Bonnie’s lip, so she really did choose a name!  And the winner of the double giveaway of HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS and the Fifties Chix debut adventure TRAVEL TO TOMORROW is … ANDREA!

Now hop on over to Angela Sage Larsen’s blog to find out who her dog Daisy picked for our second winner!

THANKS to all of you for entering — look for more holiday giveaways
coming soon!

(Andrea – if you could zap me an email from the “contact me” portion of my website, I’ll arrange to have the books sent to your librarian friend here in the U.S.)

2011 Cyber Monday Double Giveaway with Angela Sage Larsen!

November 28th is Cyber Monday (a big online shopping day), and my friend and fellow author Angela Sage Larsen and I have cooked up a double giveaway event in its honor.  We thought that with the holiday season upon us and the release of our books, it would be the perfect time to think about good reads that you can curl up with … with family and friends.

We’ve teamed up to interview each other on our blogs, and offer two randomly selected winners copies of BOTH of our new books:  Angela’s TRAVEL TO TOMORROW and my HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.  (Angela will pick one winner and I’ll pick one — U.S. and Canada only, please.)  How double fun is that?!

All you have to do is answer the question that follows my interview with Angela below, then hop on over to the Fifties Chix page and answer the question following Angela’s interview with me.  Easy as pie (which as you all know is my favorite dessert)!  YOU MUST ANSWER THE QUESTIONS IN BOTH SPOTS TO BE ELIGIBLE!!!  (some folks forgot)

If you’re on Facebook, be sure and “like” the Fifties Chix.
(Breaking news:  a mother-daughter book club fan club page is coming soon to Facebook — stay tuned!)

Angela Sage Larsen

Where did the idea for the Fifties Chix come from?

I’ve always loved to tell stories, whether it’s through words or through painting and drawing. I was inspired to write the Fifties Chix series after I was playing around doodling for fun five different 1950s characters–one girl obsessed with Hollywood and the movies; one girl who is a tomboy who loves sports; another who is a homemaker who enjoys sewing and cooking; one girl who is a writer concerned about social issues; and a girl who is very artistic and loves to paint. I imagined how they would act and what they would think–and even how others would perceive them–if they were to be plopped right in present day straight from the 1950s (clothes and attitudes and slang and all). I thought it would be fun and funny, but the more I thought about, the more overwhelming I realized it would seem.

What drew you to write about the ’50s specifically?

I love stuff from the 1950s and many consider it to be a “golden era” in America that will never be seen again. America had come out of World War II and The Great Depression and people were starting to find success and prosperity. It was a time of hope and dreams. In many ways, there was a picture perfect image of the American Dream being lived out. At the same time, there were many issues like women’s rights and racial equality that were coming to a head just below surface. I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast the 50s with present day because we all want to fit in–and the 1950s was so much about conformity; and we also all value individuality and uniqueness–which is such a focus today. I thought it would be fascinating to see how these characters in the Fifties Chix went on a quest to find their place within themselves, with each other as friends, and in society.

How about the time travel element?  Where did that come from?

I love movies, books and stories about time travel, but I didn’t really ever expect to write a book (or a series) about it myself! Sometimes I think that there are periods in history that would be much harder to live through day by day, while other times I’m convinced that those same periods were a “simpler” time. I’m intrigued by the questions, If someone lives in a different era, does that make them a different person? Do their circumstances change their values and priorities, for example? Is there really such thing as a “simpler” time? I don’t think so, but I’ll know better by the fifth or subsequent Fifties Chix book!

I know you’re planning to do more books in the series — can you give us a hint about what’s to come?  Do the girls travel to other time periods?

I’m planning *at least* five books in the Fifties Chix series… And I’m currently working on the third book (“Third Time’s a Charm,” clever, right??) and without giving too much away, I’ll just say that three characters time travel to the 1860s era from 1945. So there are at least two more time periods I’m getting to learn about, World War II and the Civil War. The second Fifties Chix book, “Keeping Secrets” is due out at the beginning of 2012.

What were some of your favorite books when you were a tween and teen?

I loved the books you write about in your Mother Daughter Book Club series, like “Little Women,”  and the “Anne of Green Gables” series. I also adored “Island of the Blue Dolphins,” anything by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary (when I was a bit younger) and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books; “A Wrinkle in Time,” was another favorite and “Where the Red Fern Grows” made me bawl like a baby, but I kept rereading it anyway!

Did you have a group of friends like your “chix” when you were growing up?  Are any of your characters based on or inspired by them?

I did and do have friends like the Fifties Chix; many of my friendships growing up (and even as an adult) started with me thinking they weren’t “my type.” Which is really funny; how do you have a “type” of friend?? My friends are very much like the Fifties Chix (and I definitely draw on the varied characteristics of my friends for inspiration), and my friends are just as “mis-matched” as the Fifties Chix. The things that bond us go much deeper than how we look, of course. I have different things in common with different friends. I look at my amazing friends and feel like the richest, most blessed person on the planet! I love exploring and writing about those deep bonds and, to me, that’s the most interesting part of the story (and spoiler alert: what the series is really all about!).

Do you read a lot every day?  If so, is it for work or for fun?

I guess because I love reading so much, I only ever think of it as fun! I wasn’t too much of a history buff when I was in school, but now I’m doing a lot of research for the Fifties Chix series and I love it! So technically, it’s for “work” because it’s part of my job, but it is really fun. I’m always reading at least 3 or 4 books at a time, as well as writing 2 or 3 books at a time.

Thanks, Angela!  It’s been fun visiting with you!  Now for the giveaway question.  To be eligible to win, you’ll need to answer this one in the comment section below, then hop on over to the Fifties Chix page to answer the second one.

If you could travel to any other time period,
where would you travel to and why?


Two entries (U.S. and Canada only, please) will be randomly selected by midnight PST on Monday November 28th.  Check back here on Tuesday the 29th for the names of the winners!