Author Interview: Amanda Hart Miller

Amanda Hart Miller’s debut children’s book SUPERDYLAN AND THE POWERS OF JUST RIGHT came out in July 2013.  My kids have reviewed the book and it’s HILARIOUS.  She has graciously agreed to be interviewed.

Amanda’s previous credits include short stories and poetry.  You can read more about her publishing experience at: amandahartmiller.com.  Find SUPERDYLAN at Amazon.com in both print and kindle editions.

Post a comment in the section below and you’ll automatically be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of SuperDylan and the Powers of Just Right.

coverAmanda Hart Miller

1)      Tell us a little about the book and the intended audience.

Like most children’s books, SuperDylan and the Powers of Just Right has a dual audience. Since early reader chapter books are usually tandem-read by a parent and child, a good book needs to entertain both readers and encourage discussion. SuperDylan is narrated by 5 year old Dylan, and his insight comes straight from my own sons’ interpretations of the world around them. Dylan is trying to find his place as the middle child in his family–he doesn’t know as much as his older sister, and he’s not allowed to get away with as much as his baby brother. When his baby brother shows up with a superhero cape like Dylan’s, Dylan goes on a crusade to prove his brother isn’t a true superhero. After a few mishaps and a rescue mission, Dylan learns what it means to be “just right.”

2)      What made you want to write SuperDylan?

The current market offers a lot of great chapter book series for boys, but most of these books are either for a slightly older audience (like the Wimpy Kid series) or they are based on fantasy (like the Magic Tree House series). I was surprised to find a dearth of early reader chapter books that use humor to explore real family situations.

 3)      What surprised you about the publishing process?

I’ve been very pleased, and perhaps a little surprised, by the ease of the self-publishing process. It takes less than a half hour to “self-publish” a book. However, the most important part of the publishing process, whether you’re self-publishing or going the route of traditional publishing, is the first step: create something good. That’s the step that can take years. Then you just have to believe in your product and do what’s necessary to get it into readers’ hands.

4)      Did you already have a platform in place?  What are you doing to build a readership?

I’m lucky to live in Hagerstown, MD, a community that supports its authors. My local newspaper, the Herald Mail, is running a profile on the book, and several local bookstores have contacted me about selling the book and hosting readings. I’m also lucky to have a strong online network of fellow writers, readers, and parents. I’m thrilled to be here at TasteofSherri and I hope to visit a few other blogs in the next few weeks.

5)      What are your future plans with SuperDylan?

Grant and I are already at work on the second book, SuperDylan and the Night Horse, which we are hoping to release in time for Halloween. As Dylan’s family prepares to move to their new home, Dylan is troubled by nightmares about making new friends. After receiving some unique advice from his big sister, he works to control his nightmare (Night Horse) and use it to his advantage. The first SuperDylan book is a story about sibling rivalry and identity; this second book focuses on self-confidence, positive thinking, and imagination.

6)      Best piece(s) of advice that you’ve received as a writer?

I recently read an article entitled “Madman, Architect, Carpenter, Judge.”

https://webspace.utexas.edu/cherwitz/www/ie/b_flowers.html

It breaks the writing process into 4 stages, and I can’t stress how much this article rang true to me. So many people either let their amazing ideas be silenced by their inner critic, or they go to the other extreme and feel like whatever they write first should make it into the final draft. By the final draft, I’ve usually cut about 80% of what my “Madman” writes, but if I never let him write it in the first place, I’d never have the fodder I need to create the final product.

Amanda, thank you so much for stopping by!

Advertisements

Graduation

Yesterday was the drop-off for my twins to go to daycamp.  The last time they were at the Goddard School, Sylvia and Evelyn were preschoolers.  Now they are campers.  There is no dreaded naptime after lunch.  Instead, there are water days, special arts and crafts, weekly entertainers.  But, some things never change.  Like pizza day.  And, me.  As in, me not having the right shoes for water day.  I DID bring what I considered water shoes…and I remembered the towels and swim suits and exact change for pizza day.  So, drop off Chance at HIS camp and then drive home to get tennis shoes and then back to Goddard School for shoe drop-off.  And, as I stood outside the classroom, I realized: THIS IS IT.  In six weeks, my babies are going to kindergarten.

Our last preschool graduation – numbers three and four – have passed.   Gone by.  That part of my life is over.  That part of their life is over.  And, I’m excited.  The teachers take care that sentimental parents (me) have all we need.  We have pictures and a CD of songs and their funny interviews.

IMG_0384grad

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sylvia: a scientist (no, she doesn’t.  She wants to be a nurse or teacher.)

Evelyn: a mermaid (probably)

Mrs. Debbie and Mrs. Cathy had some serious work with these two.  My twins hadn’t attended preschool before because of Evelyn’s leukemia so they started out not even knowing about circle time and weather bear.  And then, Evelyn had problems with her chemo and her hair was falling out and then she had blood sugar issues and I’d have to rush over with glycogen drinks.  We stopped chemo before Christmas break…and soon after Sylvia broke her arm.  Phone calls so I could come over and give her Tylenol or bring her sling.

Yup, we were a problem.  But, both girls grew so much under their care.  The graduation itself was so sweet with each class singing their songs and receiving their ‘diplomas.’  Izzy, Little Nana, Mike, and I sat in the audience constantly trying to make sure we could see both twins.  Then, at the ceremony, Mrs. Amber stood up and read “The Little Caterpillar” and she challenged the adults in the audience to really listen.  To embrace the changes that come, to look forward to the future without ignoring the present.  And, I’m ready for the twins to go to elementary school.  They are going to love it.  I know the routine there.  I know how it works.

What I’m scared about is middle school.  Because Diana graduated too.  And I’m okay with the locker and the changing classes.  What I’m scared about is making the bus.  Because, we (Diana and I) struggled to get her on the 8:15 elem. bus and the middle school bus comes at 6:30.  IN THE MORNING.

 

And, if she misses it, I’ve got to wait to get the other three on the elem bus AND THEN DRIVE HER TO SCHOOL.  This has so terrified me that I even offered to homeschool her for 6th  grade.  She said no.  So I adjusted to the idea of her going.  And me waking up at 5:45.  Now, she’s not so certain about going….so we keep flip-flopping.

 

This is probably the last time I can write about Diana because she’ll want her privacy and everything, but I’m proud of her for so many reasons; her love for animals, her fierce independence, her wildness, her curiosity, her love for board games, her zany sense of humor. She also drives me crazy for many of the same reasons.  J  Every year I take a picture of her in my wedding dress, the one I wore when I eloped with Mike to Italy.   Look how grown-up she is.

WD Age 11 2013 (4)

 

Graduation is a mark that we’ve made it.  WE MADE IT.  But, it’s also a knife cutting through a ribbon.  We can’t go back and change anything.  It’s done.  There are some things I would have liked to have done better.

Like: You know how when you’re home with toddlers and preschoolers and you’re done, cooked, wrung out and then YOU HEAR THE GARAGE DOOR GO UP?  You think, my reinforcement is here.  My husband is going to walk through the door and sweep up the kids in a loving hug and I can get out of here.  Just take a quick walk outside by myself.  And, you look at the microwave and the minutes tick by and HE IS STILL IN THE GARAGE.  And your happiness starts going sour like the lunchtime milk in the sippy cup and when he actually walks in (tired from his own day of office work) your jaw is set and you are MAD.  FURIOUS.

Yeah.  We never found a creative, heart-warming solution to that.

Or, letting yourself get so tired and frustrated that you yell and scream and then burst into tears and feel terrible.  Maybe you make everyone a big bowl of ice cream to atone.  Maybe you just send everyone, even yourself, to bed and promise that this won’t happen again.

Maybe you sit everyone down in front of the television and one show turns into two and you whisper to yourself that PBS and the Disney Channel and all those are fine.  They are EDUCATIONAL, you might say.

Or, putting your kid in unsupervised quiet time for half an hour (all the advice columns say “its important for a mom to have a break while the child plays quietly in his or her room.  It helps them learn self-directed play”) and he takes off his full diaper and uses the poop to ‘glue’ his blocks to the wall.  Yeah.  None of the ‘experts’ warned me about that one…

 

The point is, we just timed out on some of those.  The kids got older and the situation went away.  Like in mini-golf.  Take the 6 strokes, pick up your ball from the fake river, and go on to the windmill.

There are a gazillion other examples of ways I’ve messed up, but I don’t have to look back.  Amber’s challenge was to look forward and be ready and excited for change.  And I’m going to do it.  Especially if it means that I get to eat:  one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon.

 

Love,

Sherri

A Face in the Crowd

Miracles aren’t painless. Sometimes I think we get confused by magic wands and wishes that come from nothing.  We look away from the sacrifice.  The payment. But that truth is in the old stories.  Tyr, from Norse mythology, cutting off his hand to feed the wolf.  The Little Mermaid giving up her tail.   It’s in the Bible too. The boy in the New Testament giving up his lunch of bread and fish.  Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice, dying for the sins of the world.

When young Josh Aversano was struck and killed by a van last year, my church was shocked.  Memories spilled out of us, memories of the handsome, joking boy about to leave for the Marines.  During the service we saw pictures of the happy family, but we couldn’t see how good can come from a child, a son, a brother dying.

http://www.today.com/video/today/52339337#

And then Randy and Gwen made a choice to match their son’s story to a story that started fifteen years before…and that combination made medical history.  Impossible to predict how many people will be helped because of this pioneering technology.  Ann Curry reports on the ‘most extensive face transplant’ a year later.

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/face-crowd-year-after-most-extensive-face-transplant-history-6C10484450

I don’t need to tell you how brave Randy and Gwen are.  About their faith.  Their love.  Honor them by  listening.

Have tissues.

Love,

Sherri