2013 Summer Author Promo Blitz INTERVIEW W/ Jo WHITTEMORE

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Hello everyone, Paul here today with a great event that I am SO excited to be a part of. I saw this promotion and jumped all over it. I want to give a special thanks to the hosts Belle Whittington & Tabatha Perry for all their hard work and efforts, without which, this wouldn’t have been possible. There will be great giveaways, interviews, tips, and even a scavenger hunt. Before I go any farther, I want to be sure to include the Blitz schedule. To view the entire schedule, click here.

This seems like a good place to sneak in a mention of the scavenger hunt. Yes, I said scavenger hunt (those of you that have read Lionel Turns the Other Cheek know I love scavenger hunts). Somewhere on this page there is a scavenger hunt graphic/clue. All you have to do is search for the graphic. When you find it, go to the tour schedule link and head there. Under each stop on the tour there will be a link taking you to the rafflecopter, which host Belle has posted, and then make an entry towards a prize.

There is so much going on, I don’t know where to begin, so let’s start with our guest author here at Sher A. Hart blog. I am so very pleased to introduce author Jo Whittemore. Today I will interviewing Jo and I must say, I am quite excited. She is a wonderfully talented person and I can’t wait to learn more about her. But first, here is her bio from the page Texas Sweethearts & Scoundrels (if you don’t love that name, I can’t help you):

Jo Whittemore started her writing career as a toddler, dragging a crayon across the living room wall. She has since switched to pen and paper and is now the author of three published fantasy novels: Escape from Arylon, Curse of Arastold, and Onaj’s Horn. Her fourth novel, Front Page Face-Off (Mean Girls + the school paper), is available, and her fifth novel, Odd Girl In, will be released March 2011.

Jo has been a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) since 2003 and is one of the founding members of AS IF! (Authors Supporting Intellectual Freedom). She has been featured in the national magazines For Me, East West, and Audrey and loves all things chocolate, most things sparkly and nothing that involves the word “mayonnaise”.

Check out Jo Whittemore’s Website for more information. You can also find her at Yellow Bird: Editors + Writing Coaches.

Now, on to the interview.

Let’s start with the covers of the Aladdin Mix books. I LOVE them! Who did them? Did you come up with the concept? If you didn’t do them, did you have input? 

Thanks for the cover love! My publisher actually hired different artists for each, but the thing I enjoy is that they all have a common theme: the main character not quite meshing with the two other characters on the cover. I’m not sure if that’s intentional or just luck, but I love it, because it follows the theme of my books, which are usually about outsiders/underdogs. The only input I’ve ever needed to provide is “That is awesome!” 🙂 The artists capture the feel of the stories so well.

What led you down the path to being an author? 

I’ve always loved writing, even when I was a kid. I still remember when we would get computer lab time in elementary school. I would plop down in a hard plastic chair in front of an 80s Macintosh that took true floppy disks and type away about a girl named Cassie. Then in my 20s, I listened to an author speak, and he described his early career when he was practicing law by day and writing by night. That’s when it hit me: Normal people can become authors??? After that, it became my mission.

Why did you write middle grade humor novels? 

It seems to be the age range I most identify with and where my maturity level is stuck. 🙂 
I love how kids that age are just starting to discover who they are and develop their own identities. And I think the hardest times for me were when I was a tween, so I like giving them something humorous to help through the rough spots.

I, myself, love middle grade books. What are the challenges to writing for middle grade audience? 

You have to understand that they want to be mature and treated like adults, but they’re not quite ready to grow up yet. There’s that balance of skepticism and innocence. Also, there are some topics that (even though they happen in real life) are taboo to write about in middle grade fiction because some readers still aren’t ready.

I see that query letters & synopsis editing are your areas of specialty on the Yellow Bird Editors site. I think these two things trip up authors almost more than anything. I read your synopsis’s for the Aladdin Mix books and I would certainly agree with that: they are superb. Okay, I’m getting to the question. Where did this talent come from, research, practice, trial and error, where you born with it? 

Thanks again on the compliment about the synopses! They’re actually a collaborative effort between myself and the publisher. I’m very fond of formulas and lists, and I’d say queries and synopses can be compared to those. Because there ARE established processes for both that never fail. You start with the basic list of what goes in a query letter and you enhance it with your voice and style. So for me, it was trial and error when I first started writing, and then it was practice, practice, practice.

I don’t expect you to give away any secrets, but can you offer any tips for writing a rock solid synopsis? 

Keep it simple and top-level. Just like in newspaper articles, keep it to Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How, always focused on the main character. If it’s not the main character’s problem, we don’t need to know. If it won’t help the main character solve a problem, we don’t need to know. Imagine if you were interviewing the main character. Would you ask “So how is your best friend’s art project coming along?” 

Which authors inspire you? 

Jonathan Stroud. I love how he can mix something as dark as demon-summoning with humor. Douglas Adams. He could write the most outlandish scene and make seem not only possible but the most obvious option.

What is your favorite part about writing a story? 

Writing the humor. 🙂 I can write and re-write a joke about twenty times and never get sick of trying to make it funnier.

Thanks so much everyone for stopping by and a very special thanks to Jo for joining us and for offering a fantastic giveaway. Before you head to the Rafflecopter though, I want to remind you to join in the Twitter party on July 19 at 7PM: #2013SummerAuthorBlitz. There will also be a special Facebook event on July 26th at 3PM. The link for the event is:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1393136437566649/ a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. I simply adore this interview! It was fantastic getting to know Jo! And I love her advice on writing a synopsis! Many thanks to Paul and Jo!

  2. What a fantastic interview! It was wonderful to hear from Jo. I love MG books too. 🙂 The blitz sounds like such fun. Thanks so much for the giveaway and a chance to win.

  3. Really great interview. I love the part about her writing career starting with a crayon on the wall! 🙂 Thanks for linking up to Booknificent Thursday! Hope to see you again this week!
    Tina from mommynificent.com

    • Hi Tina,
      Thanks for stopping by. I loved interviewing Jo. What a wonderful, talented, engaging person. I love her book covers. You’re welcome for the link up! Have a great day.


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