Thanks so much for visiting HipWriterMama, my blog about children's books, authors and readergirlz!

It's time for a change. I've decided to focus my attention on my writing blog, www.vivianleemahoney.com. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SBBT: Writing the True with Jo Knowles, Jumping off Swings, Lessons from a Dead Girl, and a Book Giveaway!!

I first discovered Jo Knowles when I read her first book, LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL, over a year ago. It's a haunting tale of a friendship between two girls and what happens when there's a breach of trust, of abuse. In some ways--Jo's style--the way she let the characters deal with the emotional aftermath with unflinching detail, the way she was unafraid to write what was true, reminded me of one of my favorite YA authors, and I wanted to know more. Every once in awhile I would lurk on Jo's blog and find her enthusiasm, her cheeriness, to be plain refreshing. 

Just last month, I had an opportunity to read the ARC for Jo's second book, JUMPING OFF SWINGS. Jo has honed her style with this book and it is so powerful. This story is told in four different voices, which we all know can be tricky, but it worked so well in this book. I could picture each teen, caught in a trap of their own making, based on one girl's decision, that ultimately changed each of their lives. Jo did a fantastic job keeping each voice, each personality distinct, drawing out the emotion, the conflict, the understanding. 

Look at the awards Jo has received for her books (as taken from Jo's website):
  Jumping Off Swings (Candlewick, August 2009):
-The 2002 SCBWI Work In Progress Grant for Contemporary Fiction

Lessons From A Dead Girl (Candlewick, 2007):
-The Pen New England Children's Book Disovery Award
-A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
-A YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers
-A Gold Star Award for Excellence from TeensReadToo.com
-A Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee for 2009-2010

I know you want to read these books. And here's a chance to win a copy! Candlewick Press has been kind to offer a generous Book Giveaway for Jo's books! (THIS JUST IN!!! Candlewick Press will give away 10 packages that will include a copy of LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL with an ARC of JUMPING OFF SWINGS!!!) Details at the end of the interview.

Last month, I had a chance to meet Jo, very briefly, at the NESCBWI conference and for lack of a better word, she's so angelic--so sweet-tempered. Sure it was less than a couple minutes, but still, I'm a good judge of character. *grin* It made me wonder even more, how someone so delightful could write about such angst and I couldn't wait to read her answers to my questions. Wait to you read what she has to say.

Without further ado, I give you...Jo Knowles.
HWM: What made you realize you wanted to write books for teens? How did you get your “break” into getting published?
Jo Knowles: I knew as an undergrad that I wanted to work in the children’s book industry, but I always thought I’d be an editor. I was particularly drawn to YA literature, so when I took a course in writing for children, I just naturally gave writing for teens a try. My instructor was so encouraging, she planted this crazy idea in my head that I could actually be a writer. So, for my master’s thesis I asked if I could write a YA novel instead of a scholarly paper. I was hooked.

As for breaks, my first big one came when I won an SCBWI Work In Progress Grant, which helped me land my agent. The second when I won the PEN New England Discovery Award, which connected me with my editor at Candlewick.

HWM: I've read that you were inspired to write LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL after you read an article about kids abusing kids. As a parent, it must have been very difficult to write. How did you keep focused so you stayed true to Laine and Leah, to your story?
Jo Knowles: After reading that article, I think Laine was just born inside my head. She came to me sitting on that bed, scared stiff and confused, and I was right there with her. We never let go of each other until I finished the story. I wrote the early draft before I became a parent, so it wasn’t really an issue. I try not to think about the reader when I’m writing those early drafts because it’s just too distracting. Don’t get me wrong, I care deeply about my readers and want to write responsibly. But I think that means writing “the truth.” When writing about difficult topics, it’s hard not to take the easy way out. But in order for the story to feel real, to be true, sometimes you’ve to go to the hard places.

HWM: What did you like about writing LESSONS?
Jo Knowles: I loved writing the first draft. The story came to me in such a strong and visceral way, that I couldn’t wait to get home from work each night to get back to Laine. It was as if she was waiting for me to help her find her way.

HWM: Your new book, JUMPING OFF SWINGS, is due to be released in August. Talk about powerful. Why did you decide to tell this story from four different viewpoints and what were your challenges?
Jo Knowles: I really wanted to explore the idea that no story is just one person’s story. We’re all affected by each other and each others’ actions. Sometimes, deeply so. I also wanted to explore how there’s always more to a person than we think. We’re all so good at compartmentalizing and then dismissing, you know? We take our first impression of someone, decide they are a certain “type” and then move on. But we’re all complex. There’s always more behind the face. Usually way more than we assumed.

HWM: This must have been another tough story to write. Why do you choose to write about such difficult topics?
Jo Knowles: Ooh, good question. I don’t think I set out to write about tough topics, but so far that’s just how it’s worked out. The stories/characters came to me and I had to write what they needed me to.

HWM: Who was the easiest character? The hardest?
Jo Knowles: In Jumping Off Swings? Hmm, I’m not sure! I think they all had their challenges. I guess my favorite character was Josh, because he kept surprising me with his big, troubled heart. I wrote the Ellie chapter first, and I really wanted to hate him, but as soon as I started writing in his voice it was clear to me there was a lot more to him than met the eye.

HWM: What type of research did you have to do for these books?
Jo Knowles: For LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL, I was actually researching something else when I came across the article that sparked the idea for the story (about kids abusing kids). For JUMPING OFF SWINGS, I had to check abortion laws and adoption practices in various states to make sure the plot would be plausible.

HWM: When did you know you had the right ending for your books?
Jo Knowles: When I could walk away from my computer screen and not feel like there was an invisible arm trying to pull me back. Or in the case of Jumping Off Swings, four invisible arms. :-)

HWM:  What other projects are you working on?
Jo Knowles: I recently sold my third book, PEARL, To Henry Holt. It’s about a girl who lives with her mom and grandfather, and what happens when her grandfather dies and family secrets are unleashed. 

HWM: What do you like writing the most: the beginning, middle or the end of the story?
Jo Knowles: Definitely the beginning!

HWM: What is your writing process?
Jo Knowles: I really should have one by now, but it changes with every project. I’ve plunged, I’ve plotted, I’ve revised as I went. I think at this point, I know I don’t like plotting/outlining the first draft, but often in revision I’ll go back and do just that.

HWM: Describe a favorite fan moment.
Jo Knowles: Every time I hear from readers I’ve never met telling me my book helped them or changed them or made them think. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that. And definitely I’ll never get tired of it.

HWM: What has been the biggest surprise of your writing career?
Jo Knowles: See my previous answer. Honestly I just wasn’t prepared for that feeling. It’s amazing.

HWM: If you could share any unique writing tip to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Jo Knowles: Keep writing. Oh wait. Unique. Hmm. That’s hard! OK, well, I think you should write what calls to you, not what you think will be the next bestseller. I know that’s not very unique advice, either. But it’s worth repeating. :-)

HWM: What was the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?
Jo Knowles: To ask myself at the end of every draft, “Is it true?” Jennifer Richard Jacobson gave me that one and it has made a world of difference.

HWM: What question do you wish other people would ask you and how would you answer it?
Jo Knowles: 
Question: Can I treat you to a nice dinner?
Answer: Yes please!

HWM: If you found a way to go back to your teen years as one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Jo Knowles: I think I’m going to have to write a new book for that one because I definitely wouldn’t want to go through what any of my characters have so far. :-)

HWM: If you were a superhero, what powers would you want and why?
Jo Knowles: Superpowers scare me. But I guess if I had to choose, I would want the power to painlessly knock sense into the leaders of the world so we could stop these useless wars, get everyone on board to clean up our planet, take care of our poor, and make this world a better place for EVERYONE.


Now for the FANTASTIC Book Giveaway (THIS JUST IN!!! There are 10 packages that will include a copy of LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL and an ARC of JUMPING OFF SWINGS), courtesy of Candlewick Press...
1. Leave a comment on a time when you felt most carefree.
2. Only one comment per person.
3. U.S. destinations only.
4. Deadline for this Book Giveaway will be next Friday, May 29th.
5. Please spread the word!

Other SBBT interviews:
Maya Ganesan at Miss Erin
Amber Bensonat lectitans
Carolyn Hennesy at Bildungsroman
Jo Knowles at HipWriterMama
Sherri Winston at Finding Wonderland


stephanieburgis said...

What a great interview! I'd love to be entered in this drawing, but I live in the UK, and I'll understand if it's US-only.

Erin said...

I'm dying to read Jumping Off Swings! Anyway, a time when I felt the most carefree would have to be the last vacation that Chris and I took to Longboat Key. I'm not sure I've ever felt so relaxed and pampered. I wish I could live the resort life forever. Who wouldn't want to be brought icy beverages by unfailingly polite staff while laying in the sun and playing in the ocean (slathered in SPF 70 of course).

cathyipcizade said...

Ooh! I soooo want to read this book! I teach Writing for Children: A Beginning Workshop. I'm always looking for great books to recommend to my students who write YA.

Let's see--a time when I felt carefree...it would have to the summer I used my student loan money to go to Europe. It was the first time I'd been out of my hometown, much less the country! The trip was exhilarating. It broke the boundaries of my imagination.

Catherine Ipcizade

stephanieburgis said...

Oops! I forgot to include my most carefree moment in my first comment. For me, it was going to the beach at Aldeburgh in England, two years ago. The sea was roaring in, wind was blowing my hair, and my husband & I were both laughing out loud w/sheer exhilaration. I ended up collectig three pebbles from the beach, and I still carry them around in my purse as a reminder of that day.

sboman said...

I love Jo and these were great questions!

I last felt carefree when I forgot about being a thirtysomething-year-old mom and enjoyed the amusement park rides like I was a kid; laughing uncontrollably, screaming, feeling my stomach drop, the fear of what would come next and the thrill of it all. It felt so good to let myself go. I wish it didn't take a trip to Disneyworld to get that feeling.

Laurie Schneider said...

Jumping off swings...what a wonderful title!

I felt carefree this weekend -- driving alone across the desert, country music blasting on the radio.

Vivian said...

Hi Stephanie,
I'm so sorry. The contest is for US destinations only. If you have a US shipping address, let me know. I've just updated the post with the new rules.

DeenaML said...

Great interview -- I can't wait for JUMPING!

beckylevine said...

I feel like I've been winning an awful lot lately and a bit guilty about entering, but I REALLY want Jumping Off Swings! (I have Lessons, but if I win, I promise to pass the paperback off to someone else who will love it as much!)

beckylevine said...

Ack: I forgot to say when I felt carefree. (I have GOT to start reading rules!). The times, on our family vacations, when my parents and sisters went off to innertube down a river or climb a mountain, and I was allowed to stay back at the cabin by myself and just READ!

Rebecca Stead said...

Great interview. I just got to meet Jo at the Hudson Children's Book Festival, and really can't wait to read JUMPING OFF SWINGS.

And a carefree time: Play rehearsals! When I was a kid, I was in a few plays, and there's something about rehearsing that was always wonderfully relaxing and liberating for me -- possibly because I was being someone else?


bookshop said...

What an awesome interview! :D I'm excited. :D

The most carefree times for me have always been when I was onstage singing choral music or singing in some other kind of ensemble. When I was in high school I sang with a vocal jazz ensemble out of Memphis, and I remember there was this completely sublime moment when we gave a performance at Memphis State where everything just coalesced and the air was full of light and sound and harmony and I just let it soak in. It was one of the best, most blissful moments ever. :)

(We were singing an arrangement of the great Ellington song "Caravan.")

writearoundsue said...

A time when I felt most carefree...The day I decided I wasn't going to work for a man who screamed obscenities in my face because I didn't get a salad to the table quick enough. I was 20 years old, in between my junior and senior year in college, working as a waitress at a pasta restaurant and living in my parents' beach home on the Jersey Shore. The restaurant owner was a tyrant and one day I just threw my apron down and walked out the door. I walked straight to the beach, jumped in the ocean with all my clothes on and floated over the waves. It was an awesome moment of independence and rightousness.

Kelly Fineman said...

Vivian: How did I not get to meet you and hang out at NESCBWI? *curses the unfairness of things*

Great interview, both of you. I'm looking forward to Jo's new book, even moreso after reading this.

Alison said...

Great contest--thanks! I remember feeling very carefree one year when my husband and I went to Hawaii to visit my grandmother, who was living there at the time. I was in the clear, cool water, floating on a raft, looking up at endless blue sky and hearing soft music playing in the distance, and thought, "I'd normally be at work right now, but I don't have a thing to do or a place to be except to be right here enjoying this moment." How I'd love to be there right now!

Robin said...

Jumping Off Swings sounds so intriguing!

Carefree time for me...holding a skipping contest with other writing friends in the lobby of a hotel in LA last year. Um, yeah. The bartender made us stop.

Kekla Magoon said...

Fun interview! Looking forward to reading the latest books!

The most recent carefree days for me were part of a writers' retreat I attended with some friends in Victoria, BC. We wrote and shared and workshopped, all against the backdrop of gorgeous Pacific scenery - wide open spaces, woods and ocean. Just enough isolation to forget the real world for a while; just enough togetherness to remind us all why we care so deeply about this work. Idyllic!

Hula Bunny said...

What a lovely interview. I would love to win a set of Jo's books! I haven't had much carefree time because I'm pretty much a worrier. But I would have to say that right after I got married, it was a pretty care-free time in my life, when I could enjoy my husband's company without the worry of kids, bad economies, mortgage payments, or aging parents.

annemariepace said...

Great interview! I'm so looking forward to JUMPING OFF SWINGS.

I can hardly remember a time when I felt carefree, but I had a moment yesterday sitting in the sun listening to an unseen neighbor practice trumpet outdoors. It felt pretty right, even if it was brief.

jama said...

Loved Lessons from a Dead Girl, and am dying to read Jumping Off Swings. Thanks for the great interview, ladies!

I think the most carefree I've ever felt in my life was living and teaching in London -- a dream come true for a shy girl from Hawai'i! :)

RM1(SS) (ret) said...

Carefree - I'm going to say during the 1988 deployment, wandering around Pattaya, Thailand. No real worries at all in those days....

angeladegroot said...

Excellent interview. Jo's books sound like must reads to me.

I'd have to say that I felt the most carefree while on writers' retreat in New Hampshire recently. No crazy work schedule or activities and appointments to rush the kids to and from, no laundry or other household chores. Just me going at my own pace along with the companionship of two other writers. It was like living the dream.

Angela said...

Great interview. I wish I could enter, but I'm in Canada. Both books sound great and I can't wait to read them.

KateMessner said...

Great interview! I used to have a copy of LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL, but one of our babysitters, a college student, read it and loved it so much that she...er...forgot to return it. And I'm dying to read JUMPING OFF SWINGS, so I'd love to be entered in the drawing!

My most carefree times were -- and are -- hiking with my family. We love wandering around the Adirondacks and Green Mountains and having picnics at the tops of some of them.

Just A Girl said...

Just today I posted a blog seeking suggestions for a certain type of book. I think I just found it! Thanks so much for the wonderful interview. (Now I'm kicking myself for not going to the NESCBWI conference.)

My most carefree moment was a gift from my six year old son. A friend and I had parted ways. She was once very close to my son and one day he asked me why I was so mad at her. I told him that she lied to me. As he looked up, his brown eyes swimming with emotion, he asked "But did you ask her to say she was sorry?" His innocence overtook my pride. I was suddenly free of myself. It was then I knew I needed to begin building a new bridge to reach a dear old friend.

jeniwrites said...

One of the most recent times I felt carefree was on my honeymoon (my three-year wedding anniversary is tomorrow), playing in the water with my husband on the island of St. Martin. After all the craziness of wedding planning and a move to a new city and new home, it was so wonderful just to be together for a whole week on a beach that looked like it came straight out of a Corona commercial. We'd love to go back.

And I am so looking forward to reading Jo's new book. Congratulations!

traciezimmer said...

Whenever I can escape into the arms of a book for more than half an hour and just stay there, in the story, is carefree for me.

I can't wait to do just that with Jo's new book!

Jen said...

When I finally found self-acceptance and stopped judging myself

Solvang Sherrie said...

Great interview, Vivian! Becky, if you win, I'm HAPPY to take your old copy of Lessons :^)

I remember feeling really carefree as a child, especially the winter we skied in Colorado. My dad flew us there and it was just a wonderful family vacation. I wanted it to last forever.

Tarie said...

"Is it true?" Wow, awesome writing advice!

Thank you for this interview, Vivian and Jo. :o)

Charlotte said...

Thanks for the great interview!

My most carefree time was spent as a wild horse galloping through the forest when I was 4 ish years old.

Joyce Lansky said...

I would love to win these books, so the times I felt most carefree would have to be childhood. I remember catching fireflies in a jar, hanging by my knees from the jungle gym, and rolling in the mud on a Girl Scout camping trip. Never have I been as carefree as in childhood. So why do all these kids want to grow up so fast?


katysd said...

I read and loved the powerfulness of LESSONS so I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of JUMPING OFF SPRINGS.

Carefree...hmmm..this sounds obvious and cheesy, but my most carefree times are taking loooong walks alone on the beach.

Katy Duffield

rockabunny said...

The time I felt most carefree was my wedding day. I felt like no matter what happened, from then on, it would all be gravy :)


BeeLeigh said...

Hi! Former student of Jo's. My most carefree moment...the afternoon drive home from this academically intense high school. For 25 minutes, it was my brother at the wheel, music with a bouncy beat whispering in my ear, and the waning Florida sun's rays tickling my barefoot toes, finally released from ugly regulation brown shoes and now propped up on the dashboard of the Acura Legend almost as old as I was. For that one ride, it was just me, beholden to nothing but the wind.

BeeLeigh said...

probably should post my info:

bschlorff@gmail.com. I live in Boston.

kbaccellia said...

Great interview!

I must have felt the most carefree when I left home for the first time and moved out of state to go to a private university. Scary, yes. But also so freeing.

Faith said...

I am so looking forward to reading "Jumping off Swings."
Most carefree time? Probably the summer vacations I spent with my family in VA when I were in high school.

a. fortis said...

Great interview--excellent writerly questions! More books for my TBR pile...

Carol said...

I'm a teacher. I absolutely and totally love my job, but I always feel totally carefree when I lock my classroom for the last time each June, and know that for a month or two, I get to stay up as late as I want, reading whatever I want, whenever I want! This summer I would love for it to be Lessons From a Dead Girl and Jumping Off Swings. They sound great!

beth said...

I always feel most carefree when I'm traveling alone. Something about being somewhere new, where no one knows me, really frees me to do just about whatever I want, whenever I want.

Lori Calabrese said...

Okay, Vivian! You've totally made me want to read Jo's new book! Thanks for sharing such a fantastic interview--KUDOS!

My last carefree moment happened this afternoon during a caterpillar watch with my four year old. I haven't stopped to watch a caterpillar since I was probably 10 years old. It's amazing how a hairy furry little creature can captivate you while it explores and tries to figure out where it's heading next! I just love how little people help us see and celebrate the things most of us would walk right by!

"Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free..." --Joseph Brackett

All the best,

kporterbooks said...

When I felt carefree: Right after I got married. When I was newly graduated from college strains and was so in love I couldn't see straight.

Suzanne Casamento said...

I felt most carefree after college, when I fled the east coast for LA and moved in with a bunch of girls I'd gone to college with but I didn't really know.

I was working hard to get my stories published. Pitching magazines like crazy and exploring LA with my new girlfriends. We stuffed so many of us in the house that rent was crazy cheap. So selling one story went a long way.

We drove the coast with the top down, scoped bars for guys, danced at hip Hollywood clubs and played Questions by the pool late night.

We discovered that we could hit the beach and have a snowball fight in the mountains on the same day. We roadtripped all over the country, snuck out of the country under the cover of darkness and did all sorts of things I won't write about.

At least not under my real name. ; )

It was the best time I ever had.

writerlaurienyc said...

I rode a bicycle down a HUGE hill in Napa one early morning a couple of years ago. I had left about five minutes behind the other riders, so I never had to use my brakes. Just me with the wind in my face and a forest of trees on either side of me, not a car in sight.

I sang -- badly and off-key-- at the top of my lungs. People heard me hooting and hollering all the way down the hill.


Kelsey said...

Oooh! Awesome contest! Um a time I felt so carefree was definitely when I was on a vacation to Hawaii for a week a few years ago! It was the most relaxed I have ever felt!

Brittany said...

The time when I felt most carefree would have to be two summers ago. My boyfriend and I just backpacked and hiked a ton of mountains and we were just outdoors with no care about having to be anywhere. Time did not exist that summer. it was beautiful


Beth Kephart said...

I knew this would be fantastic. I knew it would.

blackroze37yahoo.com said...

carefree? hmm before i had children
longgggggggg ago

it just not carefree with after you have kids, even if they are with babysitter, you still worry

Erin said...

I think it's when I'm with my best friend, Traci, that I'm most carefree. This sounds so cliche and hokey, but she's the person I can honestly be 100% myself around.

Erin said...

P.S. I LOVED this interview.

RichLayers said...

Great interview! And thanks for the chance to win. This is awesome timing because I've been stressed by classes and work, and I'm now on my very short break before summer classes start up. Tuesday I took off to the campgrounds outside of town and yesterday spent the whole day outside in the shade, reading a book and occasionally munching on chips and salsa or a roasted hot dog... put everything out of my mind and just enjoyed the moment.

Michelle said...

Wow, from 4 points of view - I'm interested to see how it all turns out. I love the cover and the title, it just brings so many summers to mind. For myself, I feel the most carefree at night, when I've got the house cleaned up, the kid in bed and I can do whatever in the heck I want!!

mindy said...

i never really felt care free i was always an old soul with the weight of the world on my shoulders, i had trouble being a kid and care free because of that and as i got older it just progressed thanks for the giveaway

TheGhostBlogger said...

zenrei57 (at) hotmail (dot) com

I can remember one time when I felt so carefree (i know this will sound goofy but it's true) ... anyway, I was driving in the middle of the night,out in the country with the radio on and the wind blowing in my hair, looking at the stars in the sky and everything felt so vital and alive. It was a carefree, joyous feeling!

Mary said...

At my most carefree, I was a little girl. How wonderful to remember the days of just plain fun and joy. No bills, commitments, worries to weigh you down. I like to think at times I still have a bit of that little girl in me.


Sarah Z said...

Doing penny drops of the high bar in grade school!
believedreamcourage (at) gmail.com

A Reader said...

I felt most carefree when I was 5 and roamed the neighborhood (back in the day it was safe). Still carry those memories with me.
Thanks for the giveaway!

scottsgal said...

The most carefree time in my life was when I was in college - not too many cares in the world. Now I feel carefree when I'm on a boat cruising through the Caribbean - that is my freedom these days.

msboatgal at aol.com

wendy said...

My most carefree time was a week I spent in a private villa in Jamaica a few years ago. It was pre-paid, they took care of all my needs. and I didn'thave to worry about anything!

madamerkf at aol dot com

jemscout425 said...

driving down the freeway as a young woman, windows rolled down, music blasting and the sun shining. not a care in the world

Belinda said...

I would say when I was a child and riding my bicycle.
1bmore @ gmail . com

Sandy said...

I love Jo! And I'm dying to read JOS!

I felt carefree yesterday when I was dancing with my 2 year old and 7 month old. I danced like no one was watching, silly and giggling. It was fun!

susan said...

I feel carefree when I go to the beach it is just me and the sand.. so relaxing! and just time for me!

Leah Claire said...

Carefree moments? Definitely when I'm on vacation...especially if it's a place where I have limited access to phones and computers and am with family and friends. I love that feeling of just being in the present and soaking it up.

Little Willow said...

Go Jo, and go HWM!

Love the cover of Swings. :)

I feel carefree when I'm singing and/or dancing and know I'm hitting every single movement/note and motivation.

Kat Werner said...

I feel especially carefree when I am outside walking or sitting on my porch in the nice weather. I just love being outdoors and it makes me happy and carefree.

Jenna said...

What a nice interview! She seems like such a sweet, funny, and easygoing person. It doesn’t help that she writes books that look and sound amazing!

Hmmm…A time when I was most carefree? When I was younger, my friend Jeremy had a trampoline in his backyard. We would spend hours back there jumping, playing games, doing flips, and dancing. Everything just seemed easier and simpler back then. People were more honest, and open, and didn’t play games with each other. I miss those days.

Thanks for the awesome contest! Congrats to whoever wins these great books!



Anastasia said...

What a fun sounding interview, if only MY JOB was to talk to interesting people and write about them and their work. Maybe I'll pursue such a career!

A carefree time for me and when I visit my real dad. I never really had him around for the important things and I understand why, filling in the shoes of FATHER can be daunting. He probably just didn't want to mess up. I visit him now that I'm older because I know it's less stressful for him, I don't expect stuff from him, I go to visit and enjoy his company, not to ask for money or complain.
Anyway, he lives in The Middle of Nowhere, South Texas. I know I've reached his small plot of land when I lose all cell phone reception. His trailer is small and unkempt but the insides is so warm and inviting. I can breathe fresh country air on his wooden porch and watch the sun set behind the hill of his neighbors land. I can enjoy the sun and intense quiet of the Texas atmosphere while watching his ranch cats catch things.

This is where things like e-mail (no wireless for my laptop), texting, polluting cars, construction noise, and strangers don't strain on my predominately city girl mind. Here I can push those irritants away and worry about nothing...

Mishia said...

Anytime I'm with my best friend. She makes me feel alive, like I can do no wrong. I don't have to worry about saying something wrong or being goofy. She doesn't ridicule me when I'm afraid of something.With her I am free to be myself and I don't have a care in the world.

rubymoon said...

I felt most carefree recently visiting the coast and wandering up and down the beach picking up shells and interesting stones.

rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

shelburns said...

Thanks for the interview and what a great giveaway! I would love to read these! A time when I felt most carefree was when my husband and I went to the Bahamas to get married, 2 1/2 years ago!

I'm adding this to my sidebar.

shelcows AT gmail DOT com

Katie said...

I feel carefree on vacation at the beach. There's no way to feel stressed out when your toes are in the sand and the ocean is stretched out endlessly in front of you!


sweetmelissa818 said...

I feel carefree when I'm in the front yard and both of my kids are playing happily! There is no better time then when both the girls are having fun!


Judy Lansky said...

When I first learned to drive three years ago, I felt completely carefree. I could go wherever I wanted and no one was to tell me otherwise (well maybe my parents...) All the drivers could see ME driving myself all alone. Nothing could surpass that feeling of independence.


bridget3420 said...

I'm carefree when my husband holds me.

LittleEagle said...

I felt the most carefree spending summers at our cabin on the creek. sharonaquilino(At)hotmail(dot)com

Shalonda said...

A time during which I felt most carefree was sliding down snow covered hills in my neighborhood as a child. There was nothing more exciting than having a snow day off from school and spending it outside with my friends. Though it was freezing cold, I had not a care in the world!

Kelly said...

A time I felt most carefree... in recent memory, it was about 2 months ago. I was on a day trip with my boyfriend, and we had the whole day ahead of us... no plans, just finding what we could find as we found it. We started out with brunch, and I remember just sitting there, looking at him, anticipating the day ahead of us. I took a photograph of that moment, and it remains one of my favorites. It's one of my favorite memories and was a truly carefree day!

krtrumpet[at] aol [dot] com

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I'd love to be entered. I think Jumping Off Swings just sounds amazing. Loved the interview, by the way. It will be cool to see a book from many points of view. There is more to us than people tend to notice.

Let's see though...a time when I felt most carefree was when I was around 8 or so and my mom babysat other kids around my age. we'd all hang out in my woods and just climb the trees and "explore." it was a lot of fun and just great kid enjoyment.

lauren51990 AT aol DOT com

Brooke said...

I was most carefree when I was 22.. I traveled all over by myself and just enjoyed everyday to the fullest... weeshenanigans (at) gmail (dot) com

Hil'Lesha said...

I felt most carefree when I was a teen. :)

lilacbutterfly [at] earthlink.net

Alexa said...

My most carefree time was when I was a little kid. I remember how I used to play on the swings and lay in the grass staring at the clouds.


Heather M said...

I'm real carefree right now! I've been traveling a lot and we're planning our summer and it's chock full of concerts! Can't wait!!

hmahan_0529 @yahoo dot com

Joyce Lansky said...

My daughter Judy posted a story about driving for the first time. She is such an avid reader, and I know she'd really enjoy these books. I hope she wins!


Hillary said...

I was the most carefree when I was a kid living at my parents house. Please enter me. Thanks

Carlene said...

One time I felt most carefree was the time me and some friends went to Six Flags without any adults. It was so much fun.

Miss Shears said...

Hmm... the time that I felt most carefee? One that sticks out is a recent roadtrip to see one of my favorite bands. My girlfriends and I had a great time, and we really enjoyed the music. It was a cathartic trip filled with great conversation, awesome laughs, and bouncing around to some awesome music.

Kelso said...

i wanted to read Jo's books before and now i KNOW i need to attack them now. Will definitely be getting Lessons From A Dead Girl no matter what.

a time when i felt most carefree, was last summer, when me and my two friends went to LBI for the weekend. I was away from my parents and we just hung out and laughed and cooked dinner together and had a blast. I could really be myself and not have to worry about my parents. I don't think i've ever felt more carefree and haven't felt that carefree since.

Natasha M. Heck said...

What a fun interview. I love reading about authors since I am doing my best to write as much as I can these days and learn all I can about the craft.

The last time I felt carefree was this last December. My husband and I went to England and France for our first real vacation alone. Our favorite day was when we went to Stonehenge during the special tour where you can go up to the stones. The sun was coming up and frost covered the long grass and it crunched under our feet. We both swear that it was warmer in the stones than out since it was about 40 degrees and we could see our breath.

We had the rest of the day free, and at Stonehenge, we met a couple who recommended Glastonbury (the site of Avalon) to us. We drove there and spent the day walking around in little shops and exploring the Abbey and we climbed the Tor. It was a fairly clear day, and we could see for miles from the Tor. From there, we watched the sunset over the miles of green valleys and hills.

When I think of being carefree, or just need to find a calm place for my mind, I go there to bring peace. It was a perfect, magicial, and beautiful day to spend with my husband that I will never, ever forget.

gaby317 said...

I felt most carefree when I left the big law firm and it hadn't fully hit me yet! I wasn't about to start looking for work right away and had the chance to just explore NYC after living there and working for over 2 years. it was a good feeling!

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Cari said...

Wonderful! I can't wait to read the new book!

My carefree moment came after a long period of stress. It was in college and for years (even in high school) I spent my time working, studying, or doing extra curricular activities (mainly studying) with no real time to my self. One day, my roommate took me downtown and we entered the PeaceNook. It was a place I knew about but never had the time to visit.

When we entered the PeaceNook, I was hit with a wave of relief. I felt surrounded by things that made me happy - books. Sure, the PeaceNook sold more that books, but the important part was the books. Kids books that cracked me up, non-fiction books of my political persuasion, fiction books that I could read only to enjoy! I wandered around that tiny little basement of a place for a long time.

It was a great moment.

neohippy10 [at] hotmail [dot] com

Steph Su said...

Wow, what a fantastic giveaway! I think I felt the most careful by my family friend's house on a private beach (which I now realize is probably part of the Hamptons or something. Meep). She has a stone garden with a little Oriental bridge over a small manmade pond, with a fountain in the middle, and after my brothers and I came back from the beach, all salty and sandy, we'd stand on the bridge and try to touch the fountain. It was just so much fun, and I miss those days.

stephxsu at gmail dot com

Paradox said...

Hmm... carefree. I've always tended to worry, but I guess it wasn't as bad when I was little. I was very caught up in fantasy worlds I created and didn't really worry about real life. Everything was an adventure, or some magical secret.

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

bargaingirl said...

Both these books look like good summer reads. I would have to say my most carefree time was before I had kids. I only thought of myself and what would benefit me or my husband. Now I do everything for my kids. Thanks for the giveaway!

Vivian said...

Thanks, Everyone, for entering. The contest is now closed. Winner TBA soon.