Anyway, Bonnie joins us here today to catch us up on what she's been doing!
Name: Bonnie J. Doerr
Debut Group: Class of 2k10
Debut novel: ISLAND STING (Leap Books)
Hi, Bonnie! It's so great to have you here!
PJH: Okay, so it’s been 2 years since you graduated from your debut class. Personally, I miss the heck out of knowing what my classmates are up to. So give us the low-down. What have you been up to in the last few years? New books? New degrees? New pets? What has been going on, and what do we have to look forward to from you in the future?
BD: PJ, it’s a pleasure to talk with you about the debut experience. One of the joys of being part of a class is meeting members of other classes, like you! But it’s sad when you spend a year in close communication with a group, travel to conferences and signings together, and then you gradually lose touch with so many. Thanks for helping keep us in touch.
These days I often feel adrift in a sea without a life jacket. For a year you had a tight support group and then, you find yourself alone again. Still, classmates are available when you need to reach out, and that’s a gift that keeps on giving. It’s fun and inspiring to follow your fellow authors’ public and/or personal successes. Writers for young readers are fascinating folks whose gifts help create a better world whether they go about it quietly or with a big bang.
So, what’s been going on with me? The year after Island Sting was traditionally pubbed, the book was released as an eBook. I was thrilled when it received the 2011 EPIC Children’s eBook Award. By then I’d returned to a quiet life of gardening, reading, and travel. Much of my travel was devoted to working on my eco-adventure/mystery series. The second book, StakeOut, a sea turtle mystery, was published in 2011. StakeOut was one of six finalists for the 2012 Green Earth YA Book Award. Seeing StakeOut on the shortlist for the Green Earth Award was a wonderful honor for my ecologically themed novel.
So far, 2012 has been a quiet year for me. I wore myself out traveling and speaking in far away places during 2010-2011. Lately, I’ve managed to visit schools, writer camps, conferences, and libraries close to home.
I’m working on my third and final book in the series, tentatively titled Tangled. In it, teens Kenzie and Angelo deal with a mysterious series of animal tortures and battle the development of an ecologically fragile island. They also finally resolve their complicated relationship. Exactly how they work things out remains to be seen. But at that point, it will be time to allow them peace and privacy. I’m confident they can continue their green agendas without my help.
STAKE OUT (Leap Books, April 8, 2011)
PJH: If you could summarize to a debut novelist the best part of being a member of an author group like the “Class of” groups, what would you say?
BD: It’s group therapy. You are suddenly not alone, and it’s so much fun when you attend events together! You always have a group people who really get what you’re going through. Your class is a big caring family sharing expertise. Each member understands your periods of daydreaming, quirky habits, frustrations, fears, and hopes. It’s like belonging to a sorority or fraternity without the horrid hazing. You make lifelong connections. It’s difficult to suss out any one best part.
PJH: Though I absolutely loved being a debut author, I’m really thrilled with all the experience I’ve gained since. What advice would you give to those who are debuting now? What do you wish you had known when you started out?
BD: I’ll pass on the best advice that was given to me. Don’t weigh your success or what you may consider “lack thereof” against that of any other author. Your path will be unique. While on that path revel in the journey. Don’t dwell on the destination. It rarely turns out to be where or what you expect it to be.
ISLAND STING (Leap Book, December 15, 2009)
PJH: In addition to writing the next mega-million bestselling novel, what do you want to accomplish in the next five years? Do you want to write five more books? Get your black belt in Kung Fu? Walk the Great Wall of China? Let’s hear it.
BD: After my third book in the eco-mystery/adventure series is released, I plan to work with an inspiring Kenyan woman to write and publish the story of her personal journey. She has lived in the USA for over twenty years. Recently, she established a 501c international organization to support forgotten and neglected women. She returns often to her native land to aid suffering women and their children. Her goal is to “bring wholeness into the lives of broken women from all walks of life.” Hers is a true story of faith and how she found her own strength and uses it to empower women wherever she sees a need.
PJH: Anything else you want to add? Five reasons to read your book? A picture of your writing space? How you celebrated when you signed your contract? Your choice!
BD: Five reasons to read Island Sting, StakeOut, and the forthcoming Tangled:
1. You’ll feel like you’re on a vacation in the Florida Keys and—
2. You won’t have to pay for the vacation or deal with heat and mosquitoes.
3. You’ll learn cool stuff about endangered species without feeling like you’re learning.
4. You’ll meet some quirky, colorful characters.
5. You’ll have fun!
A really great writing space!
PJH: Thank you so much for being here! And good luck with everything in the future!
BD: Thanks so much for sharing class member updates. If only we could share these stories in person. What a party that would be!
A retired educator, Bonnie J. Doerr has taught students from kindergarten to college. An M.Ed. in reading education, combined with a brief post as a science teacher, inspired her to write ecological mystery/adventures for ages ten and up. Ms. Doerr’s work has been recommended by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for use in environmental education and has been included in Milkweed Editions literary field guides. Titles include, Island Sting, Danger in the National Key Deer Refuge (Leap Books, 2010), winner of the EPIC 2011 Outstanding Children’s eBook Award, StakeOut, A sea turtle mystery, (Leap Books 2011), Green Earth YA Book Award finalist, and the forthcoming Tangled. When not researching and writing in the Florida Keys, she lives in a log cabin in North Carolina. Get to know her better here!
Thanks for helping me celebrate former debuts! And if you are a former debut and are interested in being featured, check out this post here!