Monday, November 12, 2018

MMGM Guest Post - Serafina Loves Science

Guest Post - Cara Bartek

Serafina Loves Science

I am thrilled to host Cara Bartek for today's MMGM focus. Thanks so much Cara, for stopping by today!

 As the mom of a math and science loving daughter, I truly appreciate the STEM focus of these awesome stories. More than that, I love the fun and adventure thrown in. These books are a must have! Add them to your Christmas shopping list!

Cara has taken the time to share her publishing journey with us, and how the Serafina series came to be. Enjoy!

Time Traveling Ten-Year Olds

I read A Wrinkle in Time quite literally on a dark and stormy night. I was ten and we had just moved from the sprawling concrete suburbs of North Houston out to a small farming community in Austin County, Texas. Where my old school was new and state of the art with computers and carpeting and air conditioning, my new school was built sometime around World War II and looked like something Norman Bates and his mom would consider “lovely”. 

It was also a dark and stormy time in my life. We were living with my grandparents as we were making this transition. My parents were going through a rough time, I was going through a rough time adjusting to the new environment, and I felt pretty alone. 

The library at my new elementary school was cozy and proved to be a nice sanctuary, save for the really scary librarian. She was something like a cross between Old Mother Hubbard and the devil himself. In the library there was no talking, no eye contact, no loud breathing, and certainly no love. She preferred everyone to make his or her reading selection silently and then immediately leave. 

I had picked through the stacks many times, as I was already a bookworm at this point in my life. I ran across a copy of A Wrinkle in Time and was drawn in by the cover. It was a depiction of some sort of flying horse with kids on its back. It looked pretty cool, so I gave it a shot.

I read the entire book in a single night. That is a pretty big accomplishment for someone who actively avoided brushing her teeth. The book had me. I wanted to be Meg. I wanted to visit new and strange worlds. I wanted to be understood just like Calvin understood her. Most of all I wanted to escape. I wanted to jump through that tesseract just like Meg and Charles and Calvin. 

My life pivots along the line of that night – the ten years prior to reading A Wrinkle and all the time that followed. You may think this is a story about how I came to love reading. (Actually that story happened much earlier in my life as I watched my mom and dad devour hardbacks and paperbacks and grocery store novels and Tolstoy and McMurtry and Anne Rice. Reading brought them so much pleasure I thought I would try it on myself.) This is a story about something different. 

That chasm, that fault line represents the day I realized science was more than just a subject. Until that evening with my thirty-year old copy of A Wrinkle in Time, science was something that was talked about, studied, used, and left at school. Cold and antiseptic. It was never brought home. It didn’t have utility in my life. It was a concept that people who were much older and much smarter than me used. Meg, Charles, and Calvin had used science to bend space and time and transform their ordinary lives into something extraordinary. 

I took this realization into my own life and started to grow keen on science. I saw how the simple concepts we were learning had much broader and deeper meanings. You could almost hear all the gears grinding to life in my brain. I saw how through the understanding of the most basic tenets of the universe, you could in some small way begin to master the world around you. You could gain power in your own life. You could, in some small way, escape the nasty and dogging reality of being a kid in between. A kid who exists somewhere between child and grownup and has no real control over parents fighting or where you live or what other people think of you. This power was the power of understanding. 

As a woman in STEM, I see the under-representation of women in all roles, including leadership, the difficulty that exists in balancing work and home by way of outdated family and maternity practice, and the lack of opportunity for advancement. I spent time working in educational and advocacy groups trying to promote change. What I realized is the people standing next to me, my peers, my colleagues, all agreed change should happen. So I asked myself why were things so slow to change? Later, as I became a mother, I realized that not all girls believe they are capable, amazing, and wonderful. It struck me. The hearts and minds that need to be changed are not people my age; it’s the children. 

In the Serafina Loves Science! series I seek to create this connection for little girls. I am working to change their hearts and minds about their ability to excel in science. I also hope to make them laugh and enjoy scientific concepts along the way. I know I am no Madeline L’Engle, but I hope to make “nerdy” happen one fart joke at a time. 

About Serafina Loves Science! The series is middle grade fiction that focuses on an eleven-year-old girl named Serafina Sterling. Serafina is just like all other eleven-year-olds who have to deal with issues like annoying older brothers, cliques at school, and parents who restrict her use of noxious chemicals. Serafina is trying to figure it out, much like all of her friends. But she has a little secret… Serafina loves science! Her passion for all things scientific helps her make new friends and figure the old ones out, understand her family, invent new devices for space travel, and appreciate the basic principles of the universe.

About me: I live in Texas with my husband and two daughters. The Serafina Loves Science! series was inspired in part by my own career path. The other part of my inspiration is my two little girls. I hope to make this world a more equitable and opportune place for my daughters one silly story at a time!

You can find me at:

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Author Guest Post - Sherry L. Ross


I am thrilled to host author, Sherry L. Ross today.  I have been featuring her new book, Vinetrope Adventures, for the past couple of posts, including the Midwinter Giveaway Hop. It is a wonderful story, and I couldn't be more excited to share her personal journey with you!

Vinetrope Adventures Book One:
Return of the Vinetropes

by Sherry L. Ross

The wee-folk have returned. But we are surprised to learn they are called vinetropes, not fairies. Uncover the mystery of who vinetropes are and why they have returned in this first book in The Vinetrope Adventures series. Following a young girl, Sara, who has recently lost her mom to cancerReturn of the Vinetropes tells the story of the birth of remarkable fairy-like creature who Sara discovers in her backyard. She is Lucinda Vinetrope, born wise, full grown and all alone, but possessing some astounding powers. In fact, the very blood circulating in her body is a form of clean energy! Lucinda knows the world is different, not at all like she remembers it from her dreams in her growing chamber, but she is born and she must survive. The two protagonists, both lonely and bewildered by loss, instantly bond and begin a quest to see if other vinetropes do exist. Could Lucinda's birth herald the making of a Vinetrope Nation? But if so, it might also mean the return of their ancient, evil counterparts and put humans, vinetropes and all creatures of our earth in danger. With unique and life altering powers, vinetropes have the ability to shape the course of history for the better, but if the bad folk return as well, the future of mankind could be grim. 
Chocked full of fantastic characters, such as the comical squirrel brothers Ekle and Apkin, the elegant and courageous owl named Owletta, and Jamuna, Sara's human friend who has the gift of prophesy, book one takes the reader on a mystifying journey into an unpredictable future.


Sherry's Journey to Publication
Guest Post

Vinetrope Adventures: Return of the Vinetropes, Book One is the fulfillment of a childhood dream. I have been working on the world of vinetropes all my life. As a child, I would imagine a world in which beings of goodness were busy at work helping the rest of us in unseen ways—invisible to us, but still connected. When I was twelve, I read George MacDonald’s classic, At the Back of the North Wind, which addressed the theme of death in childhood. When I was a young child I nearly died as the result of a car accident and so the book spoke to me. I told myself that if someday I could write a book that touched another child as deeply as this book touched me, I would have lived a successful life. The Vinetropes and their world was born out of these memories and experiences. 

In many ways, Return of the Vinetropes addresses significant life events. Although there is much humor in my story, there is also loss. Sara, the human protagonist, is a twelve-year-old girl who lost her mom to cancer. In my “real” life, we lost our son. Sara’s character is based on my daughter Kara, and Sara’s brother Steven, is modeled after my late son Gregory and their relationship is much the same as when Kara and Greg were growing up. 

In many ways, these parallels between the story and real life made the actual writing process magical. When I’m writing, it feels like I’m the child and someone else is telling me the story. This mysterious “narrator” is trying to please, entertain and provoke my inner child. Later, in the editorial process, it a very different and “adult” experience, but during the creation process that mysterious voice is real. My unconscious was at work here, like a river moving the story along, filled with the knowledge and influence of every story I’ve ever read. And as the characters began to come to life, they interjected their own personalities. They began to tell me what they wanted to do and what they wanted to say. I listened to the voice of that “unknown” narrator and listened for the voices of my characters to bring the Vinetropes to life. 

For example, Lucinda, the fairy protagonist, is a poet, the master Rhymer and historian of her people. How did that come about? My dad was a writer, writing comics for Stan Lee. I was intimidated by his professionalism, so I began writing poetry to help me sort my emotions. I think my personal connection to poetry is why Lucinda often bursts into spontaneous poetry—the unknown narrator of my story—my subconscious—channeled that energy into Lucinda’s character. 

The sci-fi element of Return of the Vinetropes is also important to my story. I wanted this to be a modern fairy tale; one based on classic elements, but with a brand new twist that would feel fresh and relevant to today’s children. I did research on computers, clean-energy, fungi (the bad guys are fungus), photosynthesis, and cold fusion. The blood of vinetropes, who are sentient plant life, is a source of clean energy. And, though they haven’t discovered it in book one, vinetropes can bend space and time a bit. Technology is moving so rapidly and care for our environment is needed more than ever. The timing felt right to incorporate those elements into the world of the Vinetropes. 

The story is dynamic and visual with many elements. I was blessed to have Return of the Vinetropes lavishly illustrated by Julie Bell. She is a renowned artist and illustrator and I have a deep appreciation and admiration for her artistry. Through the process we have become good friends. In fact, Julie and I, with input from our husbands, made the decisions of which places to illustrate together. It’s unusual for an author to be a part of the illustrative element of a book so I was incredibly exciting to partner with my husband Fred, Julie, and her husband, Boris Vallejo, a fantasy artist in his own right, to select the illustrations. We have all become great friends as a result and I’m grateful to my publisher for the opportunity to be a part of the process. 

I am looking forward to sharing the second book which I’m currently writing. In book two the children will be able to travel in the blink of an eye. It is an incredibly fun process and Julie will illustrate it. We look forward to sharing it when we have the final book!

Thank you so much, Sherry, for taking the time to share your story with us!

Vinetrope Adventures Book 1 is available for purchase: 
Amazon HERE
Barnes & Noble HERE

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