18 April 2016

Treasure at Lure Lake and INTERVIEW with author Shari Schwarz

I have to admit, when it comes to camping, I am a total lightweight. I start my fires with matches, I prefer to sleep in a cabin, and I've never tied my food up high to keep it from bears because my food is locked in said cabin. Or RV. My grandfather's family shared an RV and we'd take it every once in a while for a family outing. One year, it was cloudy and gloomy the entire three days we were in the woods, so I holed up in my bunk and read the entire time. I got yelled at for nearly killing the RV battery because I had to use the bunk's light the entire time. What can I say? I was lost in a book. Nothing new there!

From Goodreads:
"An epic adventure—that’s all Bryce wants this summer. So when he stumbles upon a treasure map connected to an old family secret, Bryce is determined to follow the clues to unearth both, even if it means hiking in the wilderness in the middle of nowhere. Bryce must work with his bickering brother, Jack, or they may never see the light of day again!"

The campers in Treasure at Lure Lake are a little more intrepid than I am. Jack and Bryce are taking some time to really rough it with their grandpa up in the mountains of Colorado as they hike to the rather primitive cabin that's been in the family for generations. Jack and Bryce argue back and forth like brothers do--Ms. Schwarz definitely captures the tone of sibling relationships! This seemingly simple trip is beset by some rather traumatic incidents, testing the bond between the brothers, and Bryce's curiosity leads to the discovery of a devastating family secret.

But what could be a very heavy story is redeemed by Ms. Schwarz' deft writing and light tone--she completely captures what it is to be a young adolescent, still full of wonder and innocence, as well as a young man who is struggling between adolescence and imminent manhood. Also, although she takes her story seriously, none of the distressing events were overwhelming or too intense to read. In fact, I found it hard to put the book down. With an excellent use of foreshadowing and great character motivations, the story moved forward quickly and I ate it up.

This is a great book for middle graders who appreciate life's more serious situations and can open up some excellent opportunities for discussion. I'm glad to have had the chance to read it.

Gentle Reader Alert: I found nothing of concern.

Now, on to the interview!

Shari Schwarz lives in Ft. Collins, Colorado near the Rocky Mountains with her husband and their four boys. TREASURE AT LURE LAKE (April 12, 2016) is her debut middle grade novel which reflects her love for a good survival adventure story. When she’s not reading or writing, Shari can be found freelance editing, weight-lifting, gardening or watching her boys play football, basketball, speed stacking, or wrestling. She frequently daydreams of exploring Oregon Coast beaches or plotting out her next children’s book.

1. In your early attempts at writing, what is the most embarrassing thing you wrote? (For example, a friend of mine got started by writing fan fiction about the Backstreet Boys. She freely admits this. :D) 

 What a great question! The most embarrassing things I have written (besides angsty journal entries) would definitely be my early queries to agents when I was just starting out on my writing journey. I made all of the query mistakes you can make, but this one in particular was mortifying. I even blogged about it here: http://www.sharischwarz.com/2014/06/most-embarassing-query-experience.html Basically, I accidentally sent several different versions of the same query to an agent. I can only imagine what he thought about that little episode. I now know that agents see all kinds of crazy things. But these experiences are lessons learned. Onward and upward, right?

 2. What is your writing routine?

 I usually write when my four-year-old is in preschool and when my big boys are at youth group. I go to one of my favorite coffee shops and have a couple of hours each time to write. But often I find myself writing in between all of the nooks and crannies of life...those moments where you have a few minutes to kill here or there, between appointments, sitting in the pick-up line at my son's elementary school, or while waiting for water to boil for dinner. I can write in the middle of chaos. But I cannot edit that way. I have to have very concentrated and quite time to do that, which usually happens on weekends or when my husband is able to watch our boys.

 3. Do you have any favorite music to listen to while you write? Why? 

 Even though I can write in the middle of 'life,' I can't write with music on. I really wish I could! But I find it hard to tune it out.

 4. All right, now to exercise the ol' imagination--you can have any superhero power you want but you're trapped in a book. What power do you have and what book are you trapped in? Why? 

 I would want the superhero power of being able to transport others into the book with me so that we could have the same, life-changing experiences together. And, maybe, together, we'd be able to figure a way to get back to reality!

 5. When you're absolutely sick of your own writing, what books/genre do you read to give yourself a break?

 I read widely. I love reading picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult and adult novels pretty much in any genre as long as it's clean. My favorite book of the last year was THE LIFE LIST by Lori Nelson Spielman. It's pretty much the perfect book for me. But usually I love reading survival stories the most.

 6. What's the best feedback/compliment you've ever gotten? 

 On TREASURE AT LURE LAKE, my favorite comment was when my dad said he teared up because of a scene toward the end of the book that he felt he could relate to. I felt like I got it just right, and through all of my revisions, that scene has pretty much stayed the same. I wish I could reveal it, but it would be a spoiler. On my writing in general, the highlight for me was being published in last year's Writer's Digest short story competition. I won 7th place out of almost 7000 entries. It gave me a huge boost in confidence.

 7. What is the most important life lesson you've learned so far? 

 Oh, wow. This is a hard one. So many life lessons over the years. I'll try to pick one...It's beautiful to watch when someone realizes what their passion in life is and develops it. I guess I would say that I've learned to listen to my heart and not be afraid of failure. I believe in dreaming and working toward your dreams no matter how hard it may be. In the back of my 5th grade journal, I wrote that I wanted to write a book. It took me thirty years and has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I'm so excited to be realizing my dream now as my book comes out.

 Thank you for having me on your blog, Karie. It's been wonderful!
Thank you, Shari! 

Treasure at Lure Lake is available for purchase at an e-retailer near you. 

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