April 11, 2015

Blog Tour: Ava & Taco Cat by Carol Weston #blogtour #guestpost @carol_weston

Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: April 7th 2015

Ava desperately wants a pet for her eleventh birthday-but gets way more than she bargained for when she adopts T-A-C-O-C-A-T.

When Ava Wren hears about an injured yellow tabby with mismatched ears, she becomes obsessed and wants to rescue him. She even picks out a perfect palindromic name: T-A-C-O-C-A-T. But when Taco joins the family, he doesn't snuggle or purr-all he does is hide. Worse, Ava's best friend starts hanging out with Zara, a new girl in fifth grade. Ava feels alone and writes an acclaimed story, "The Cat Who Wouldn't Purr." What begins as exciting news turns into a disaster. How can Ava make things right? And what about sweet, scared little Taco?

The New York Times called AVA AND PIP "a love letter to language. " With this second diary, Girls' Life advice columnist Carol Weston hits another home run.

I'll just come clean and confess that when I was a kid, I did not jump into books. My best friend was an avid reader and I was in awe.
Big books scared me. I was like Ava. I preferred sampling one Aesop fable each night – I liked that fables were short and pithy and about the length of a blog post.
Now I love jumping into books -- and swapping my world for someone else’s for hours at a time. In college, I was a literature major and read 100 Years of Solitude in Spanish and The Red and the Black in French. I’ve been in the same book club for decades, and I hate being caught without something to read. Big books? Bring ’em on! Yet that said, if an author works hard to whittle away his or her masterpiece, I’m ever grateful. (Did The Goldfinch have to be 784 pages? Did War and Peace need a two-part epilogue?)
For me, it's fun writing about a character who is a word nerd, yet not a bookworm. Ava Wren is a fifth grader who loves words and wordplay, but she never jumps into books. She wades in. No, not true. She sticks one toe in at a time. She checks out the front cover, skims the jacket flap, considers the size of the print, sees how many pages there are, and then and only then decides whether to take the book for a test drive. If she likes it, she'll keep going. If not, forget it, that book goes back on the shelf.
Fact is, I know my readers have other things they could be doing. So I write and rewrite and delete and revise until the final book keeps readers turning pages, laughing, reflecting, and wondering what will happen next.
It’s a kind of seduction.
There are a lot of dog stories out there, from Beautiful Joe and Old Yeller to Because of Winn Dixie. My new book, Ava and Taco Cat, is a cat story. But it’s also about how it feels when your best friend makes a new friend. And it's about the power of writing itself. The creative writing tips that Author Jerry Valentino offers the kids of Misty Oaks (page 150) are good for all ages. Here they are:
1.     Write from the heart: write about what you care about.
2.     Use your head: think about beginning, middle, and end.
3.     Show, don’t just tell: it’s better to reveal than to explain.
4.     Use your senses: sight, smell, sound, taste, touch.
5.     Provide details: paint pictures with words.  
6.     Read your work aloud: listen to the rhythm and music of words.

I taught writing at Middlebury College in January of 2013 and used these tips and also the prompt techniques that Jerry uses with Ava and her classmates. 
What else? Well, I hope you will jump into AVA AND TACO CAT with both feet, and that you like both reading and writing. 
P.S. Here's a photo of my upside down cat, Mike.

Carol Weston is a writer and speaker. The author of fourteen books, she has been the "Dear Carol" advice columnist at Girls' Life Magazine since 1994. Her newest book is AVA AND TACO CAT (April, 2015). A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale with a master's from Middlebury, Carol has appeared on Today, The View, 48 Hours, Oprah, and given talks at scores of schools around the country. Newsweek calls her a "Teen Dear Abby." Carol and her husband, playwright Rob Ackerman, live in Manhattan and have two daughters and one cat. Carol has taught writing at Middlebury and at the New York Society Library. She speaks excellent French and Spanish and not-half-bad Italian and has had 40 letters published in The New York Times. Her novels in the works are AVA XOX and THE SPEED OF LIFE

 Find Carol: Website | Twitter | Facebook


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