TIME OF HONOR: Fourteen-year-old Connor’s smart mouth gets her in and—luckily—out of trouble on her prep school’s debate team and in the classroom. On a field trip to the U.K., when she is suddenly catapulted into the year 1272, she finds her royal new friends’ lives are threatened by a conspiracy fueled by greed. When William and Maud learn that their father has been murdered on the Crusade, they beg her to help them find who is plotting against them. What does Connor discover about her ability to use words when she tries to save her new friends—and herself?
Available on www.amazon.com and www.museituppublishing.com
(Q) Thanks for stopping by my blog! Let’s start with the basics: where are you from?
Thank you so much for your invitation, Meradeth! Now, I live in California, but I grew up in Spain and Italy as a child and then moved here to the U.S, my “passport country,” living in California, Hawaii, and Minnesota. Your question made me smile, actually, since I’ve been hearing that question all my life in many different countries!
Is there any place online you’d like to direct us to learn more about you? (A blog, facebook, etc.?)
You can visit my website at www.margosorenson.com and follow some of the links on the “interviews/press” tab for some inside info and smiles. I’m also on Twitter as @ipapaverison and tweet about literature, languages, teaching, and supporting fellow writers.
(Q) I always love hearing about how the idea for a particular book came about. Please fill us in on how you got the idea for TIME OF HONOR
Growing up where I saw castles on a daily basis, it was a natural to major in medieval history and, of course, to wish I’d lived back in the middle ages. I am picky about the years, though; give me anything before the Black Plague (1348)! Obviously, the only way I could really live in medieval times was to write myself into right back into the middle ages. I did a lot more research, prompting my dear husband to ask why was I buying back all my old medieval history college textbooks and many more. Knowing the details of daily life is key to trying to make the story come alive. Did they use forks? Spoons? Where did they put their clothes? Daily grooming routines? (That got a little gross!) Then, I because I’d coached and taught high school debate and speech for a number of years and got the biggest kick out of the (as we say in Hawaii) akamai (street smart) debaters, I knew that my heroine needed to be someone who could think on her feet in dangerous situations, and that led directly to her being a Lincoln-Douglas debater, someone who debates value propositions on the fly (ex: Individuals have a moral obligation to assist people in need), as opposed to an Oxford debater, who debates policy propositions with a well-rehearsed case (ex: The US should create a nationwide light rail system). Catapult a smart-mouth debater, who thinks she knows it all, back to 1272, face her off against a completely different world view of life, and throw some evil people in to boot, and you’ve got a story – I hope! (This is quite possibly the coolest and most fun answer I've gotten to this question!)
(Q) Which authors have most influenced your own writing?
This could be embarrassing, because people can read these names and think, “WHAT is she thinking? She doesn’t write like that at all!” However, writers who’ve influenced me in many ways – besides writing -- are Doreen Cronin (hilarious one-ups), Harper Lee (tapping into a child’s psyche), Ian McEwen (the blurring of memory), Kazuo Ishiguro (the shock of recognition too late), Ernest Hemingway (evocation of scene), Mo Willems (humor extraordinaire), Sandra Boynton (spare, but perfect), and Donna Leon (Italia and character in their glory; how I wish I’d written these). Yes, that is a wildly-assorted bunch!
(Q) What do you do for fun other than writing?
Other than writing, I love to read (surprise!) for pleasure and to try and keep my horizons broadened, play golf with my dear husband, travel back to countries where I lived to soak up the atmosphere, study languages to try and keep my brain tuned and enjoy the nuances of communication, watch the great American game of baseball, which is full of unwritten stories, and, best of all, visit my grandchildren and be vastly entertained by their takes on the world and their energy.
(Q) If you could describe your ideal writing spot, where would it be?
My ideal writing spot is anywhere in the world where I can use my pencil and notebook. At home, there is a special place in our courtyard shaded by trees and bougainvillea, and inside, there’s always my favorite lounge chair that looks out on the peaceful back yard and the desert mountains in the distance.
What music would you listen to (if at all)? What treats would you have on hand?
No music and no treats for me, because they’re too distracting for my pea-brain; silence is best, so that I can create the world in my head and be present with my characters. I can tune out background noise (I did teach middle and high school!), but, that’s not self-initiated. Listening to music when I’m not writing, however, is inspirational for helping me set the scenes later and getting into the time and place. For example, when I was writing TIME OF HONOR, I listened to a lot of Purcell’s trumpet voluntaries. I felt I was right there in the castle!
(Q) Plotter or pantser? Both? Neither?
I’m a pantser when I’m first coming up with an idea and definitely a plotter once I sort of have the idea in my head. Then, as all you writers know, it’s about being flexible and letting your characters have their own way in the world you’ve created for them, so plotting does change during the writing process. William Faulkner once wrote (paraphrase), “It’s all about the character, really, and once he’s up and walking around, all you have to do is pick up your pencil and paper and run after him, writing down everything he does and says.” Then in revision, it goes back to the plotting again, to make sure everything hangs together – but, pantsing can help with solving some of those problems! It’s really an ebb and flow, and as writers, we need to be able to give ourselves permission to do what feels right for us at the time.
(Q) Do you have any new projects that you are working on? Care to share? (optional if you don't have a WIP to talk about)
Goodness! I always have projects I’m working on. One that tickles me is an adult historical romance (yes, in my favorite time period) that was just acquired by Entangled Publishing, written under my pen name and which should be out n 2013. A few clicks of the mouse will reveal that secret. Writing fiction for adults is a new venture for me, and I’m currently working on revisions for my editor, including adding 5,000 words. Then, on the children’s side, I have a clutch of picture books that I’m revising; that’s a never-ending battle! They’re all under 500 words, so every single word counts – not that they don’t count in any kind of writing! Picture book ideas are always humming in my brain, so keeping that notebook and pencil handy is key.
(Q) What kinds of marketing do you think are the most successful in terms of getting your name/book out there? (Curious minds are taking notes!)
If anyone knows the answer to this, please let me know! First, for me, it’s all about relationships, and my friends are my biggest supporters; they do a super job of spreading the word about my newest words. Next, I try to work on publicity through contacting librarians, teachers, bloggers, and newspapers and magazines (especially the home town and alumni variety) about my book, and I love doing interviews and guest posts for my favorite blogger friends. Niche marketing is also a hoot: the National Forensic League – yes, it’s true, I was a coach for the NFL -- is actually featuring TIME OF HONOR in its alumni newsletter, because of the debate angle. Doing school visits for my other books really helps, thanks to those wonderful librarians, teachers, and principals. Having some free lesson plans available on the website (like for ALOHA FOR CAROL ANN) and even publisher-produced classroom resources can encourage educators to make their choices. I use Twitter and have my website updated for those random searches that land there. Also, I belong to professional organizations that not only are wonderful supporters but are educational, and they will also disseminate information about my books: SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, the Children’s Literature Council of Southern California (which Eve Bunting – and my mother – began), California Readers, and more. When I read an article in a newspaper that prompts me to think someone – a teacher or a principal -- might want to know about one of my books, a number of which are used in schools, for example, TSUNAMI: DEATH WAVE (if you’re ever on Oahu, be sure and get a personalized tour at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center – it’s great and they really like to have the public see what they’re about) or one of my time-travel adventure-biographies, such as FIGHT IN THE FIELDS: CESAR CHAVEZ, I email them the information. That’s a great way to keep books in print and in demand and in the hands of young readers. People have been wonderful everywhere, and the writing and reading community is stellar!
(Q) If you'd like to add anything, please do so.
Meradeth, again, thank you so much for your invitation to stop by your blog!
(Q) How about an excerpt to tantalize the readers?
I knew my smart mouth was definitely going to get me into big trouble, because it always does. Not that I really care all that much—after all, trouble can be a lot more fun and interesting than just plain old vanilla life. But, what happened to me because of opening my mouth at the wrong time was—well—I still can’t believe I said what I said—and that, well….
It all started on the field trip to Grafford Castle in the UK. No, wait, not exactly. It started, if I really have to be analytical, which is one of my strong points, when my dear mother decided it was a great idea to dump me, her darling and only daughter, in a boarding school. That way, she could travel the world and write, instead of having to drag me along while she tried to get in the culture of whatever God-forsaken corner of the world she landed in. That’s what she is—a travel writer. Everywhere we go, people are always bowing and scraping to her; fluffing her pillows and snapping pictures with their cell phones—all that junk. When you get to be fourteen, like I am, you begin to notice a kid kind of gets in the way of that free-wheeling lifestyle. It really put a cramp in the ol’ lady’s act when she wanted to have an extra glass of Fernet-Granc with the person of the hour and suddenly there was her fourteen-year-old daughter staring at her.
Does this book sound fun? Thanks a million for stopping by today Margo!! You can also learn more about Margo and Time Of Honor by visiting here!