Monday, May 04, 2009


Danette Haworth, author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, Launches her Blog Tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

In Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning Danette Haworth tells a story of growing up and making friends--with a few alligators and lightning bolts thrown in for excitement. Violet Raines' life has been just perfect and when things start going wrong she blames Melissa, the new girl in the neighborhood. But maybe it isn't Melissa who causes all the changes, maybe it's Violet.

Haworth has been writing and making people laugh since she was six years old. As an Air Force brat, she also is an expert at making new friends. Haworth combined those two experiences to make a funny and poignant book that will seem familiar to every young girl whether she lives in Alaska or Zimbabwe.

Finally settled down in Violet's backyard--Florida--Danette would own a diner called "Netti's" if she wasn't a writer. It would be small--you'd probably pass it if you drove by too fast--but the regulars would be loyal. "Try the sweet potato loaf," they'd tell each other. "It is to die for!"

We had to include this trailer of Danette's book, made by Scholastic--it's so fun! Check it out.

Visit Danette at her website at
and her blog:
Violet Raines Reading Group Guide:

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Danette's book, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end.

Published by Walker Books for Young Readers, $15.99
Children's Fiction, Ages 9-12, Hardcover
ISBN# 0802797911

We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment. Enjoy!

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Welcome to The Muffin, Danette. We're delighted to launch your blog tour for your book,
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning. I just finished reading your book (all in one afternoon). I couldn't stop reading because the characters were so real I felt they would jump off the page and ask me to go search for alligators! Where did they come from? Did you know a Violet, Lottie, Melissa or Eddie? Were you one?

Danette: Thanks, Jodi! They were all so real to me that writing the book was almost like watching a movie! The story seemed to spill out in front of me. Growing up, I knew a lot of Violets, Lotties, and Melissas, but only one true Eddie.

Eddie is based on a boy I knew when I was in 4th-6th grade. He was gracious, handsome, and the fastest runner in school. This boy had dark hair and glittery blue eyes, just like Eddie. Once, we were playing manhunt and he found me, scooped me up like the hero in a romance novel and carried me to base--I just about swooned!

WOW: Tall, dark and handsome--didn’t I just see him on a movie screen last weekend? Actually, that was the most detailed description you gave of Eddie which I found surprising. As writers we sometimes rely on detailed physical descriptions to make our characters come alive. With the exception of Melissa, you never really described your characters' appearances. Why was that?

Danette: Because Melissa was the newcomer, we had the chance to scrutinize her through Violet's squinched-up eyes, but since Violet already knew everyone else, she didn't take a second thought of their looks. That's why I provided only a few nudges in the physical description of the other characters.

What makes characters in any book come alive is the things they do and the way they react to the events in the story. As a reader, I love when the author gets me to the point where I'm thinking, *Gasp* I can’t believe the MC[main character] did that! How will her best friend ever forgive her? I don't mind a little hint of what a person looks like, but I don't need a full description to see the story as I read.

WOW: I'm always interested in how ideas transform into books. How was this book created? Did you have this wonderful Violet character on stage waiting for something to happen or was something else the kernel that grew into this book?

Danette: I was just starting to query for a different novel (Me and Jack, 2011, Walker), but I didn’t want to sit around waiting. I wanted to get started on the next project. But what? I reported to my computer room everyday and sat in my chair thinking.

I had this idea for a mother and daughter story, an adult novel with issues, based on stories my mom told me about her childhood. One story I always liked was this: My mother grew up in farm country up north, and the people next door had a huge family, a big rambling house, and they invited my mom over for a fish fry every Sunday. My mom has a brother and a sister who were NEVER invited. I always thought that was funny, and I wondered why (and of course this was no small victory for my mom, who was the youngest and usually got the short end of the stick for everything).

I kept thinking everyday, all the while having an adult story in mind, when Violet Raines just walked in one day and rattled off the first paragraph of the book. I whipped around in my chair and typed it up really fast; I didn’t want to lose any of it. Here’s what she said:

When Eddie B. dared me to walk the net bridge over the Elijah Hatchett River where we'd seen an alligator and another kid got bit by a coral snake, I wasn’t scared--I just didn't feel like doing it right then. So that's how come I know just what he's saying when I see him in church, flapping his elbows like someone in here is chicken. When Momma's not looking, I make my evil face at him, but he just laughs and turns the right way in his pew.

I could see her, with her short dark hair and the swampy woods behind her. She had a little smudge of dirt on her leg from coming through the woods. I had an instant, complete sense of Violet, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to her!

WOW: Yet another sign that we shouldn't stop writing while we try to sell out first book! Could you tell us a little about your path from writing to publication for Violet Raines?

Danette: During the day, I wrote articles on state-of-the-art tank simulators; after work, I wrote short literary stories and submitted them. Then a few years ago my schedule changed when I became a stay-at-home writer. Since now I had a larger block of time, I thought about maybe adding more clients. Then it hit me--maybe it was time to pursue my own dream, writing a novel.

I thought about writing detective fiction since I love reading it, but then I realized I'd have to figure out how to murder people and almost get away with it. I did not want to do that! (And my husband got really nervous when books such as Deadly Doses: a writer's guide to poisons starting showing up on my bookshelf.) So I thought about some of my favorite authors: Anne Tyler, Sue Miller, Elizabeth Buchan, and Elizabeth Berg. But each time I approached a novel, the characters that came to life for me were eleven or twelve-years-old, and I identified with them! I had to write their stories!

I heard an SCBWI writing conference was coming to my area in the summer of 2007. I was still writing Violet Raines, but I knew the manuscript would benefit from a qualified critique. I polished up the first ten pages, submitted them, and ended up being critiqued by editor Stacy Cantor from Walker Books. She loved what she read, and I loved her response! In the weeks that followed, she read the full manuscript and I queried a handful of agents who I thought might like Violet Raines. I don't bite my nails, but if I did, they would have been nubs by the time I got "The Call!" In October 2007, I signed on with Ted Malawer of Firebrand and accepted a book deal with Walker Books.

WOW: That's quite a success story! Thank you for sharing. Some writers write solely in one genre, while others write a bit of everything: fiction, nonfiction, children's, YA. Which type of writing career do you think you'll have?

Danette: I don't know what type of writing career I'll have! I'm so glad I discovered children's literature because not only do I enjoy writing it, I LOVE reading it! But I love young adult fiction, now, too, and I still read mysteries, literary fiction, short stories and flash fiction. I think, in the long run, my writing career will reflect my reading career.

WOW: What are you working on now? Will we get a peek at Violet in high school? Or are there new characters waiting for their chance on the stage?

Danette: Will we see Violet in high school? Oh, my gosh--I don’t know! I love her just the way she is, and yet some things have already happened there in that little swamp town since the book got published. It’s all in my head, of course, but who knows? I love Violet!

I just turned in the draft for The Hotel of Blueberry Goodness, a middle-grade novel in which a girl who lives in a hotel meets an eclectic group of friends, including a teenage runaway. Blueberry Goodness takes place in Florida, at a dilapidating, antebellum resort whose once manicured lawns are now grown wild. (Walker BFYR, 2010)

Me and Jack is set in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. Eleven-year-old Joshua knows how to play new kid: hang back, don't talk too much, become invisible. Then he pairs up with Jack, a dog he rescues from the pound. Jack yanks Joshua from the sidelines to the front line to take on an unfriendly town, a mountain, and meanest kid in school. (Walker BFYR, 2011)

Whenever anyone asks me about my writing, I'm either all hush-hush or I keep talking even when I see them start checking their watches and looking at their cell phones. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my work with you!

WOW: Well, we weren't checking our cell phones. We can’t wait to meet all your new characters!

Want to join Danette on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

MAY 4, 2009 Monday
Danette will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Danette's book!

MAY 5, 2009 Tuesday
Danette will be chatting with Kim Zook in an exclusive interview! Come join these two in a lively chat at the Zook Book Nook, & book giveaway!

MAY 8, 2009 Friday
Stop by The Friendly Book Nook to learn more about author Danette Haworth and her unstoppable friend Violet Raines.

MAY 12, 2009 Tuesday
Danette will be stopping by Anne-Marie Nichols' popular blog, A Mama's Rant, for an informative guest post: Write My Book or Wash the Laundry: How Does a Stay at Home Writer Do It? This is not to miss!

MAY 20, 2009 Wednesday
Danette will be stopping by The Mother Daughter Book Club for an exclusive author interview! Be sure to join in on the chat.

MAY 22, 2009 Friday
Danette will be stopping by A Good Blog is Hard to Find, a blog dedicated to southern authors, for a surprise guest post with tips for writers. Not to miss!

JUNE 4, 2009 Thursday
Margo will pick Danette's brain today at her blog Read These Books and Use Them--both about writing her book and some great activities that teachers and parents can do with their children while reading Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. Don't worry--no lightning involved!

We also have several more dates to come, so be sure to check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to participate in Danette Haworth's blog tour, or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

** Please feel free to copy any portion of this post.

Oh, be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Danette's book Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Interview with Danette Haworth, Third Place Winner!

Our Winter 2008 Flash Fiction Contest, sponsored by W. W. Norton, was our first open prompt contest ever, and we received so many fantastic entries! The interesting part was the variety of stories, which brought on a whole new aspect for our guest judges to tackle. But, as the saying goes, "Variety is the spice of life," and Danette's story Intersection is truly remarkable. If you haven't read it already, please do check it out, and then come back and read this fascinating interview with Danette!

Danette Haworth was first published at six-years-old, when she created a comic book series starring Peter Pan. Each comic book featured a green stickboy, a red stickman, and all the hair-raising conflict a six-year-old can conjure up. These marvelous adventures usually ended with a defeated Captain Hook raising his sword, shouting, "I'll get you, Pan!" Danette's mother still has the first edition, so carefully colored and stapled all those years ago.

After earning a BA in English, Danette landed a job as a technical writer, which was a fun position because she got to play in tank simulators and explain to scientists that possessive its does not have an apostrophe. She later worked as a travel writer for a well-known automobile club, one of the best jobs she'd ever held; she read history books, interviewed people on the telephone, looked at travel brochures, and got paid for doing this!

Her middle-grade novel, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, is due Fall 2008 with Walker Books for Young Readers.

Visit Danette at her website,, or her blog, Summer Friend:


WOW: Danette, I'm thrilled to be interviewing you today. You've always been such a supporter of WOW!, and likewise, we've been a fan of yours! You placed as an honorable mention in our last Winter '07 contest, and I was ecstatic to find out that you won Third Place in our Winter 2008 FF Contest--our biggest contest ever. How did it feel when you first found out you'd won?

Danette: I love WOW! and I'm thrilled to be here! After I got your email, I wanted to throw open my front door and yell, "I'm a winner! I won Third Place!" Instead, I emailed my husband, my sister, my agent, and I called my mom!

WOW: (laughs) Well, you truly deserve the win, and all of us adore your story, Intersection, what inspired you to write it?

Danette: When I saw the open prompt for the Winter 2008 Flash Fiction Contest, I knew I wanted to enter. But what to write? Every single day for a week or so, I thought about it. (A lot of my writing process is just thinking about it.)

One day, I pulled up behind a van with those happy stick figures on the back windshield. I wondered what would happen if the real-life figures weren't so happy. What if the parents got divorced? Suddenly, I got the image of this woman attacking the man stick figure with her fingernails. She scraped him off in skinny little strips, but slivers of him remained on the windshield, as if he'd never be totally out of her life.

I felt there was a story there, but I didn't know what it was. I knew if I stayed with it, I could push it through. After thinking about it for a couple of days, I realized the story wasn't about the woman with the stickers; it was about a woman who observed the woman with the stickers. I began to think of what else this woman might see at the red light and how she might interpret it.

WOW: I love that! It's always interesting to find out how a story is fleshed out, and how perspectives change. I see those white stickers on the backs of cars all the time...especially here in Southern California. Your take on the one (Dad) scratched off is so original, it just drew me into your story. Did you actually experience this yourself?

Danette: I see those stickers everywhere too! I've never seen the dad scratched off, but once I got that image, I saw that there might be more than one reason why a woman couldn't bear to have that sticker on her van.

WOW: It's a great image. And in my opinion, Intersection is the perfect combination of interior monologue, description, and character. The narrator of the story is someone we can all relate to. It seems quite natural, and yet, I know fiction requires countless revisions. Did you do a lot of tinkering with the plot or character to get the story just right?

Danette: Thank you for your compliments on Intersection! I did do a lot of tinkering with the story, but most of the work took place in my head! The stickers were a good starting point, but they weren't enough for the whole piece; the story needed a stronger core. I had to let the idea evolve, which sounds passive, but my mind was totally occupied with the story. I thought about it constantly.

After several days, I had the epiphany about the woman behind the woman with the stickers. This new woman would be the narrator, assigning roles and casting judgment on the other drivers at the intersection. Once I nailed down the central concept, I was able to write the story.

WOW: You did give it a stronger core. The ending is very subtle, understated, and profound. All these different characters and lifestyles come together as they move forward in traffic. How did you decide on the ending?

Danette: It's very fulfilling to me that the ending was meaningful to you--thank you! The first version of the story ended with the narrator wondering why the trucker hadn't looked at her legs. Though I liked that part (because she now observed herself), it didn't provide enough punch, nor did it pull everything together.

Every time I pulled up to a red light, I imagined my narrator doing the same. There is this moment at intersections in which we are held together by the red light; this moment ends with the green light. I saw that as a metaphor for our lives--we cross paths and we move forward together. When I thought about the narrator moving forward with all the people she'd observed, it just felt like the perfect ending.

WOW: Danette, you are a very gifted writer. I remember in October 2007 when you announced the sale of your middle-grade novel, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning, and we shared it in this blog post. What's happening with it now? Please share a synopsis, and when it will be released with our readers.

Danette: Yes! I am so excited about the upcoming release of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning (Walker Books, August 2008). The manuscript has been through copyedits, proofreads, and typesetting. I've seen the advance reading copy and it looks beautiful!

Stacy Cantor, my editor at Walker Books, was absolutely amazing to work with. She connected with the story on every level, and she helped bring out the best in Violet Raines. I could not have asked for a better experience.

Violet Raines is set in the oak-covered hammocks of rural Florida. Here's a short synopsis: Eleven-year-old Violet Raines dodges lightning and outruns alligators while trying to keep the prissy new girl from stealing her best friends.

An here's the first paragraph:

When Eddie B. dared me to walk the net bridge over the Elijah Hatchett River where we'd seen an alligator and another kid got bit by a coral snake, I wasn't scared--I just didn't feel like doing it right then. So that's how come I know just what he's saying when I see him in church, flapping his elbows like someone in here is chicken. When Momma's not looking, I make my evil face at him, but he just laughs and turns the right way in his pew.

The first chapter appears on my website. Come visit!

WOW: Congratulations Danette! I'm very excited to read your book. So, how are you going to market your book for your big launch?

Danette: I'm new at all of this, so I'm eagerly reading up on what others do to promote their books, and I'm working with Walker's publicist to decide what kind of things would work best for me.

I have visited a couple of classrooms and I can tell you how much fun it was to talk with potential readers! I was touched by the students, who were truly interested in the life of a writer.

WOW: That's the best! I'm sure you were a great inspiration to the students. So, what is your attraction to writing middle-grade novels?

Danette: In middle-grade fiction, you can be completely honest! You can describe emotions in their true state. You don't have to make excuses for your characters' feelings. The readers are reading with open hearts--it means something to them to discover that other people (even fictional people) feel the same way.

Plus, I love the adventures and settings that kids are in. I love spending time in those places. Even when it's my own creation, it's still very real to me.

WOW: Are there any other genres you are considering?

Danette: I'll always have room for flash fiction! Other genres I love reading and would love to write are young adult and literary.

WOW: I can definitely see you going there! Danette, from your bio, I know you've had quite an interesting writing career! From technical writing where you played with tank simulators to travel writing where you interviewed people and studied travel brochures. Both of which sound quite fun. What are your favorite stories from these jobs that you can share with us?

Danette: The thing I loved about both careers was the other creative people I worked with. As a technical writer, I worked closely with artists, a photographer, and computer program designers. I was always impressed with their talents and the format in which they produced their creative vision.

The travel writing was an excellent job all the way around. We had eleven editors on staff and the conversations were so writerly! At lunch, we'd spin our stories, throwing out our big vocabulary words and lofty ideas. Back at the cubicles, we'd debate whether to use a or an before acronyms starting with M. (Vote an!)

WOW: (laughs) My senior editor, Annette, would love those debates! And I would love the technical discussions. Speaking of, you also have a very active blog. In fact, you are my sole inspiration for starting my periodic column on The Muffin, SEO Sundays, which I can't thank you enough for! So, I have to know, what has blogging done for your writing life?

Danette: Thank you for all the wonderful information you provide. Last year, I was new to blogging and websites, and I've learned a lot from your column.

The best thing about blogging is the funny and clever comments other people leave on my blog. I've met many people over the Internet, and I think about them sometimes during my day. When they leave a comment on my blog, I know they were thinking about me too! Visiting blogs and websites for writers makes me feel like I'm in a busy, noisy room, rubbing shoulders with my peers. I love it!

WOW: Comments are fantastic. It makes blogging worthwhile. But, have you ever been hit with writer's block?

Danette: Yes, sooner or later, I think we all get hit with it. The main thing to know about writer's block is that you can push through it. If you feel stymied, set a low, attainable, daily goal for yourself. Strive for quality, of course, but don't edit your words before you even type them. During writer's block, you must keep exercising the writing muscle--keep your writing mind active--and you will get through it.

WOW: Well put. As well as exercising your writing mind, it's important to have a writing schedule. Do you have one?

Danette: I do. I am a very disciplined writer. I report to my computer room at the same time every day; I don't answer the phone or make plans for that time.

I used to think I could just wait for inspiration, but I've found that sticking to a schedule enhances inspiration because I have an expectation to be productive.

WOW: That's super! So, how do you maintain a balance between life and writing?

Danette: I don't know! I'm disciplined about starting my daily writing, but I often have trouble turning it off. I do revisions in my head while sitting in church; when doing chores, I'm off building forts with my characters.

When I'm done with a piece and finally emerge, I feel shocked--what has happened to my house? How did it get into this condition? Isn't this the same T-shirt I was wearing seven years ago?

WOW: (laughs) I hear that! But that's what comes from being so dedicated to the craft. So, if you were to give one tip to flash fiction writers, what would it be?

Danette: Flash fiction is truly an art form. You must convey setting, voice, characterization and a story arc in five hundred words or less. You don't have time for all the wonderful undercurrents you might be able to weave into a short story. Zoom in and discover the kernel or the moment that displays all the facets of the story you want to convey.

Don't be fooled into thinking that because of its short length, you needn't spend much time on a flash. It takes great care to carve something so small.

WOW: That last sentence is a great quote! Thank you, Danette, for taking the time to chat with us today! We've truly enjoyed it. Do you have any parting words of wisdom, or possibly a quote, that you can share with your writing sisters?

Danette: This interview was a lot of fun! I'm honored to be among the writers you've featured.

As far as quotes go, I'm partial to Psalm 90:17:
And let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands--yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it.

If you haven't done so already, please read Danette's award-winning story, Intersection. And remember, every Tuesday we'll be featuring an interview with one of the top 10 winners from the Winter 2008 Flash Fiction Contest. So, be sure to check back and see who's up next!

For more details about the current WOW! Women On Writing Spring Flash Fiction Contest, sponsored by Seal Press, please visit: Last month to enter! Deadline: May 31, 2008

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Friday, October 19, 2007


Danette Haworth’s Debut!

We want to share a writer’s fantastic news! Danette Haworth just sold her middle grade novel, Violet Raines Almost Got Struck By Lightning. We’re very excited for her!

Here's the blurb from PM:

“Danette Haworth's debut VIOLET RAINES ALMOST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, about a vivacious eleven-year-old whose life changes drastically when a new girl moves to her backwoods Florida town, to Stacy Cantor at Walker, on an exclusive submission, for publication in Fall 2008, by Ted Malawer at Firebrand Literary.”

Isn’t that “crazy, delirious, euphoric?” These words come from Danette’s own blog. To check out her excitement, click here.

If you’re not familiar with Danette’s blogs, please take note:
We send super-sized congratulations to you, Danette!



Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Bits & Pieces

Happy Tuesday y'all! And happy June! Have you thought about just how much of this year has past? Are you on target with your goals or do you need to review and maybe change them? Take a look this week and see where you need to be and what you need to do to get there.

Send us your Press Release...we'd love to brag for you!
Sold a story, placed in a contest, got a great review? Let us know and we'll be sure to spread the word.

* To be included in the Announcements Section of our Freelancer's Corner page, we need your submissions by the 15th of the month. Send to with the subject line: Announcements Section

* If you'd like your announcement posted on the Blog send to any time.

Naturally we can't promise to use every announcement we get but we'll do our best. Also, we may edit to fit as needed.

On-Line Writing Course
Patricia Fry is offering a new concept in online classes: Courses-on Demand. You sign up when you want to take the course and you'll receive a lecture and an assignment via email every week throughout the duration of the course. Fry, a 30-year veteran freelance writer and the author of 25 books, including, "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book" is currently teaching, "Article Writing," How to Write a Book Proposal" and a "Self-Publishing" Course. Learn more at

Congrats to...
Danette Haworth who received an Honorable Mention in our Winter Flash Fiction Contest. She sent the story out, won another Honorable Mention and publication on Whim's Place. Congratulations girl!

Check this market out...
When we returned home Saturday evening from our camping adventure, I hurried to my "puter" and checked my email. Among the "junk" was a very nice acceptance letter from Mysterical-e . My short story will either be in their fall or winter issue. It's a nice little ezine all mystery lovers will enjoy so check it out.

So, now you have your tasks for the week...assess your goals, send out a something and enjoy a little down time with a good story.


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