Monday, December 6, 2010

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday--The Healing Spell (and a Giveaway!!!)

You guys--I am SO excited for today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, because not only do I get to talk about a book I LOVE, but I get to introduce you to the amazing author who wrote it. AND she was kind enough to donate a gorgeous signed book for me to give away. So yeah--LOTS of good stuff. This will be a bit of a longer post, but it's so packed with awesome I doubt you'll feel it.

Okay, so the book we're talking about came out earlier this year: THE HEALING SPELL, by Kimberley Griffiths Little. Here's the beautiful cover and blurb:

Twelve-year-old Livie is living with a secret and it's crushing her. She knows she is responsible for her mother's coma, but she can't tell anyone. It's up to her to find a way to wake her momma up.

Stuck in the middle of three sisters, hiding a forbidden pet alligator, and afraid to disappoint her daddy, whom she loves more than anyone else, Livie struggles to find her place within her own family as she learns about the powers of faith and redemption. Livie's powerful, emotional, and sometimes humorous story will stay with readers long after the last line is read.

I'd heard amazing things about this book from my fellow Bookanistas, so as soon as I had a spare second to read, I dove into this story. And it did not disappoint!

I read the book all in one sitting because I had to know Livie's secret, or if the healing spell would work. And the writing is gorgeous! Lovely. Powerful. Made me laugh AND cry. Yep. Definitely a winner.
Added bonus: Kimberly is one of my favorite people. Sweet. Supportive. So much fun. But don't take my word for it. See for yourself. I give you, the FABULOUS Kimberley Griffiths Little:

Me: Thank you SO much for sparing a minute to hang out with me Kimberley--I know how busy your revision schedule has been recently--so I'm going to jump straight into the questions! One of my favorite things about THE HEALING SPELL is how the setting is so deeply integrated into the story, and the lovely way you describe it. It makes me want to pack my bags and head to the south. But as a Cali girl who has *blush* never gone to the south, I'm not sure where to go. Any place in particular I should visit?

KGL: I'm a Cali girl, too (*patiently pauses while Shannon squeals and fist pumps for Cali girls*)- and the first time I visited Louisiana and took a swamp tour, I fell in love. HARD.

You can take a bayou/swamp tour in just about any small town between Lafayette and New Orleans. Just get off I-10 and explore all the wonderful small towns along Highway 90 in "Cajun Country". I've been to them all; visited schools, graveyards, neighborhoods, cafes, Main Street, sugar cane refineries, etc. Google "swamp tours" and you'll find tons of websites, like Cajun Jack. 
He's terrific! We even got rained on!

Of course, New Orleans is a fabulous, mysterious city, with creepy voodoo museums, great food, carriage rides, haunted hotels, like the Bourbon New Orleans Hotel. I stayed there with a girlfriend on a research trip and there is a ballroom at the top of the hotel where they used to hold Quadrille Balls before the Civil War where French plantation owners came to pick out a mulatto mistress. Cindy-Rae and I walked up and down the halls and visited the ballroom several times while we were there - with our tape recorder on - and kept hoping for "paranormal" activity. Spooked ourselves silly! I also had my fortune told by a Voodoo Priestess with a crystal ball. Verrrry interesting. I recorded my *session* on a hidden tape, too, mwah, ha, ha.

You've also GOT to visit the plantations along the Mississippi River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge - fantastic and romantic! Natchez, Mississippi is also another *must-see* city with dozens of city and country plantations to tour. We stayed at the Choctaw Mansion right in town and it was like staying at Tara from "Gone With the Wind".

A few years ago my husband and I spent our anniversary at Nottaway Plantation which is open for tours and as a Bed & Breakfast. 
(Nottaway (nicknamed White Castle) is in my current Victorian Paranormal WIP.)

Me: Okay, that's it--you will officially be my vacation planner from now on! Awesome suggestions. And while I've never been to the south, I LOVE their food. What's your favorite southern delicacy? And do you have a magic spell for making all those delicious fried foods low calorie? ;)

KGL: Beignets, crawfish etoufee, pralines, deep fried catfish, hush puppies, to name a few food groups! The secret to *not* putting on weight is DANCING. Those Cajuns eat up all that good food in those restaurants and then hit the dance floor and burn it all off to the live bands! But recently, I have been working on some beauty spells . . .

Me: Beauty Spells? Okay, I definitely need some of those. Maybe that could help me get rid of the "Overworked Writer" look I've been rocking lately. It's ... not cute. *sighs* Moving on to less depressing thoughts: I'm also amazed that your descriptions of T-Baby made me want a pet alligator! (I'm...not a big reptile fan) Which makes me wonder, did you have (or still have) any unique pets growing up? 

KGL: My cat Sparky lived until she was 18 years old and I got her when I was three. Other than a few German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers over the years, nothing extraordinary, but as the mother of THREE BOYS, we've had several snakes in the house, geckos, lizards, tarantulas, gerbils, and a scorpion as pets. Can you tell that I'm a mother who can't say "NO"?! 

Me: LOL. Which also means you are an awesome mother! Though if I ever come visit you, I'm going to need some sort of guarantee there won't be any tarantulas or scorpions on the premises! *shudder* Okay, as a middle grade writer, I have to take this chance and talk craft with a fellow middle grade writer. What do you think is the biggest challenge writing for kids in this age range? 

KGL: I think the biggest challenge is keeping your MG self alive and well nourished. Remembering those emotions and embarrassments and angst and tears and friendships and family problems. It's huge at those ages, the age before kids turn into independent, sneaky teenagers taking your car keys and eating you out of house and home and having hormonal melt-downs. (Actually, I love teenagers, too!) 

Me: So true! Everything feels insurmountable at that age. And that's before hormones *really* complicate things! (Ah...teenagers) :) Any advice you'd like to pass on to the aspiring writers reading this? 

KGL: Write. Write. Write. Never, never, never give up. Learn your craft. Get feedback from trusted crit partners. Get online and learn the biz! And most of all, LOVE THE JOURNEY, LOVE THE WRITING. At the end of the day, that's often all you got - even after you're published. 

Me: Brilliant. *applauds* Okay, I know you need to get back to work, so we should probably wrap this up. But before you go, let's do a quick speed round of random questions, so my followers can get to know you better. Ready...Go!

Iced tea or hot tea? 
Um, no tea. I'm a Dr Pepper fan. And a milk fan. And strawberry lemonade. 

Worst hair style you've ever sported? 
My mother is the original creator of Princess Leia hair balls on each side of my head. 


*Shannon pauses to giggle uncontrollably*

*minutes pass*

*clears throat*

Cookies or Cake? 
Cake. Warm. I could eat half a cake all by myself. 

Which book do you wish you'd written? 
How can I possibly choose? Oldies: JANE EYRE, GONE WITH THE WIND, HARRIET THE SPY. I just finished reading, THE KNEE BONE BOY and thought it was brilliant. I'm on an Ellen Potter kick and adore her OLIVIA KIDNEY books. They are so clever and funny and true-to-life and witty. I want to be HER when I grow up!

Guiltiest TV Viewing Pleasure? 
"So You Think You Can Dance!" (I'm a frustrated ballet dancer. I grew too tall. So I took up Middle Eastern belly dancing. For reals. See my upcoming YA called SECRET RITES OF THE GODDESS in 2012 with Scholastic.) 

What color are your toenails at the moment? 
I have weird toes so I hide them in socks nearly all the time. Or slippers.

Favorite city?
Oh, gosh, how can I choose! Paris. Edinburgh. New York. San Francisco where I was raised.

How many hours do you sleep at night? 
I wake up off and on all night long so about 6 hours. Sometimes I catch up with 8 on weekends. 

And, of course, the most important question of all (careful how you answer): Twizzlers or Redvines?
I know that the online world is ALL ABOUT the Twizzlers, but sssh! I'm a total Red Vines chick! I ate a whole package last week in the car driving to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving!

Hm...I SHOULD hold that last answer against her...but I can't. She's way too sweet. If you don't believe me, look at this BEAUTIFUL hardcover of THE HEALING SPELL she has donated for me to give away. 

And even though I *want* to keep it...I'll be good and pass it on to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is follow my blog and leave a comment on today's post by 11:59 pm PST on Saturday, December 11th and you'll be entered to win. I'll draw one random winner and post their name on December 12th. International entries welcome. Good luck everyone!

To hear about another awesome middle grade book, hop over to Elle Strauss' blog to hear her rave about IDA B by Katherine Hannigan.

UPDATE: Myrna Foster is also doing a MMGM, focusing on THE CLOCKWORK THREE by Matthew J. Kirby. Make sure you head over THERE and check it out.

Joanne Fritz is also raving about NO PASSENGERS BEYOND THIS POINT by Gennifer Choldenko. Click HERE to read her review.

And the always awesome Shannon O'Donnell is talking about one of my particular favorites: THE CANDY SHOP WAR by Brandon Mull. Click HERE to read all about it.

So exciting to see other bloggers doing MMGMs!!!

If you've done one on your blog, email me a link and I will happily link you. Together we can give MG the spotlight it deserves!

Phew, okay, I think that's everything. Thanks for reading to the end. Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win THE HEALING SPELL.

Happy Monday!


  1. Great Interview! 'The Healing Spell' sound like a great book, and I would love to read it with my daughter.

  2. I loved the interview! My mom took belly dancing lessons and said it was a lot of fun. Neither of my daughters have grown their hair out long enough for me to embarrass them with Princess Leia hair balls, or I'd be tempted. That's an awesome picture!

    Thanks to both of you, and now I want to read The Healing Spell!

  3. Great interview. I'd love to read The Healing Spell. I've heard such good things about it.

    Good luck Kimberly.

  4. I've just read a great review about this book. WOW ! sign me up for this one. i would loooveee to have it :)

    - A follower via GFC

    uniquas at ymail dot com

  5. What a great interview! I love the pictures!

    The book sounds *really* interesting, too. Must check it out!

  6. What a fantastic interview... you asked all the deep probing questions like cookies or cake or what color are your toe nails... Yes! Awesome.

    I'd love to read this book. Mostly because I prefer cake over cookies, so clearly Kimberly and I should be best friends.

  7. This is adorable. I love the interview and the cover's so pretty! :D

  8. Wow. That WAS really in depth, but totally worth it. Technically I live in the South, but Atlanta is nothing like the Bayou, there is nowhere near that much culture, mystery or romance around here.

    Great interview, thanks ladies!

  9. I've heard great things about this book! Thanks, Shannon!

  10. Awesome interview and the book sounds wonderful. I'm a souther chick though I must agree with the above commenter that Atlanta is NOT the romantic south written about here. I did get to live in Savannah for a few years and let me tell you, that place is just exploding with stories to tell!!


  11. I've heard the setting in this is amazing. Definitely going to check it out.

  12. This was such a great interview! I definitely want to visit New Orleans and go on a swamp tour. Kimberly's novel sounds wonderful! Thanks for having another giveaway, Shannon!

  13. This was such a fun interview! I love the hair (hahahahaha) and the books she wishes she'd written. I wish I'd written Fablehaven. *sigh* This book is on my wish list. thanks for the review and author spotlight #1. :-)

  14. Thanks for the interview, and the giveaway! I've never been to the South, but now I REALLY want to go on a swamp tour.

    And, oh, that picture! I've got a few of that type of picture lying around. I feel for you.

  15. I just stayed at Nottoway Plantation in August on my road trip! It's the most amazing place. This interview was so much fun--can't wait to read this book!

  16. THis sounds like a wonderful book! I remember my ex-mil came back from a trip where she went by Nottaway. She was bummed that she didn't buy some of these little (for lack of a better term) plates that fit around candles to catch the wax. I had to call down there and try explain what the heck it was so I could get them for her for Christmas. I did though. :) After seeing that gorgeous picture, I want to go visit myself.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

  17. hi miss shannon! yikes another cool mg book to get added on top of that HUGE pile i already got. miss kimberly is real fun and that was a neat interview. i like that she lets her kids bring lots of cool stuff in the house. snakes and lizards are so fun. how could she feel about the raccoon i let in that gets on the table and eats cookies. ha ha. mg monday rocks!
    ...hugs from lenny

  18. Thx for the giveaway! LOL at So You Think You Can Dance. My husband loves that show too! ;)

    Jen @ I Read Banned Books


  19. I love THE HEALING SPELL just as much as I love Kimberley. She is fantastic!

  20. Awesome interview, I really enjoyed it. :)

  21. Very awesome giveaway! :) Another thing I'd like to say, Kimberly was the 2nd follower of my blog. :) Haha!

  22. Wonderful interview, Shannon, thanks!

    **Hey, you have a gift certificate waiting for you at Mysterious Galaxy Books. Enjoy!!!

  23. First, I want to go to Cajun country and second, I REALLY want to read this book! You kill me on Mondays, THANK YOU! :)

  24. oh...the Princess Leia hair balls cracked me up!

    (I follow!)


    happy holidays everyone!

  25. LOVE Nottaway and this book looks awesome. Thanks for the interview!


  26. What a great giveaway!
    My book pile is starting to dwindle... :)


  27. Great interview! The healing spell sounds wonderful and I'd love to know Lizzie's secret!

    Happy Holidays and thanks for the giveaway.

    I follow!

    nas_dean@ymail. com

  28. Great interview! Thanks for the chance to win. It sounds like a great read. Thanks! seescootread[at]gmail[dot]com

  29. Love the interview. Your questions are soooo I would love to read this book. Your giveaways are always so good!

  30. Wow - Kimberly sounds absolutely fascinating! I love that she checked out the haunted hotel - I would totally do that. In fact, my friends and I are trying to plan a trip to New Orleans next fall - SCORE! Now I've got some great suggestions to incorporate into our itin!! :) I also love the cover of the book - definitely another one for the TBR list. Even better if I win a copy! Thanks, Shannon!

  31. I've been looking for some awesome MG books to read, and THE HEALING SPELL looks fantastic!

    Also, Princess Leia buns for the win!

  32. I enjoyed the interview very much, this sounds like a great book and I'd love to read it.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  33. Another marvelous post, Shannon. Really want to read this book now! And what a terrific interview. I love haunted hotels. And pralines, yum!

    I posted another MMGM myself. Check it out.

    Late in the day as usual, I know.

  34. I am SO jealous you had the best hair style ever!!! Oddly enough my hair was bone straight since the day I was born and looks the same to this day. I would love, love, love, your book! Congrats to you!

  35. Had a few entries come into the wrong place so I'll enter them here.

    Linda Henderson said:

    I enjoyed the interview very much and this sounds like a great book. I'd love to read it.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  36. Lexie said:

    I LOVE "So You Think You Can Dance"! Probably my favorite TV show.
    I am a follower (Lexie@BookBug)

  37. Jacque said:

    Red vines are okay...but over Twizzlers? I love this humerous! I'd also love to win of course! LOL

  38. Oh, I've been waiting to read this one! Kimberly seems like such a genuine, kind person as well. Love that she has freaky toes, too--although, I bet mine are way freakier.

    Super picture. My great grandma used to do her hair sort of like that, except, well, okay, only one braid wrapped all around her head. Very German, less Princessy.

  39. Lovely - I really want to visit the New Orleans area one day - such a fascinating place!

  40. This book sounds wonderful and the cover is beautiful. Thanks for the giveaway.

  41. Yay, Kimberly! Yay, South Louisiana! Yay Albuquerque authors! ;)

  42. Fave quote: Love the Journey, Love the Writing. (Yes, yes, yes!)

    And I have three boys too, but there's never been a tarantula in the house. Am I a bad father?

    Hope you enjoyed your trip to Disneyland!

  43. I've been seeing this pop up a lot lately. Thanks for the chance to win it!

  44. I love the cover and it sounds really interesting, nice interview.

  45. Oh, man, you guys, I'm overwhelmed!!! Thanks for all the great kudos and comments! I loved reading them! Of course, I adore Shannon for such a great interview and becoming one of my newest/bestest writing friends.

    That's so cool that so many of you have been to Nottaway, too! I've stayed in two plantations now and the haunted tower room of a castle in Scotland. Didn't sleep a wink.

    And, hey, anybody who wants to copy the Princess Leia hair balls has my blessings . . . my mom used to perm my hair to get it to stay that way. Those Toni Home Perms where I had to lay over the sink with a towel over my face and try not to gag from the fumes. :-)

  46. The Healing Spell sounds awesome.

  47. GREAT interview! The book sounds awesome. It is on my TBR book list, BUT I'd like it if my name was drawn to win an autographed copy.
    : )

    Good luck to everyone entered in the drawing!

  48. Another entry: Vivien said...

    Wow this book looks tremendous. Great interview. Follower

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  49. What a great interview! Can Kimberley plan my next holiday too, please? I've always wanted to see that part of the world (a swamp tour!). One day, one day! The book sounds wonderful, it's definitely on my list.


Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Any arguing or intense debate--on any subject will be removed. Let's keep this a safe, fun space.