Monday, May 19, 2014

Guest TA Interview & Book Giveaway with the Amazing Debbie Dadey!

Today I'm thrilled to share a guest TeachingAuthor interview with the prolific and talented Debbie Dadey. We're honored to help Debbie celebrate the release of her latest chapter book, Treasure in Trident City (Aladdin), book eight in the Mermaid Tales series for ages 6-9. Here's a little about the story:
Pearl can't believe it! There is a pirate's treasure near Trident City. If she can find it, she'll be the richest, most famous mermaid ever. Tales of pirate ghosts don't scare Pearl off, but something much bigger just might.
See the end of this post for details on how to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of this fun title! I also share the name of the winner of our last giveaway.

I'm guessing most of our TeachingAuthors' readers are familiar with Debbie's work. She is the award-winning author/co-author of 158 books for children! She is perhaps most known for the best-selling Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series (Scholastic) , which she wrote with Marcia Thornton Jones. Debbie and Marcia also co-wrote a writing book for adults, Story Sparkers : A Creativity Guide for Children's Writers (Writer's Digest). A former elementary school teacher and school librarian, Debbie enjoys working with writers of all ages through school visits and writing conferences. She currently divides her time between Bucks County, PA and Sevierville, TN. She has three children, two dogs, and one very smart husband. You can learn more about Debbie through her website and follow her via Twitter and Facebook.

I first connected with Debbie Dadey years ago, when a member of my critique group invited her to join
us. My son was in second grade at the time, and a HUGE fan of the Bailey School Kids. When I told him that Debbie had joined our group, he could hardly believe it. He said, "Wow, Mom, now you're going to be famous!" Well, knowing Debbie didn't make me "famous," but having her in our group definitely made me a "tighter" writer. Our group called Debbie "the slasher" because she was so great at helping us cut extraneous material. We were all disappointed when she moved away. All these years later, I'm happy to be able to still call her my friend. 

And now, for the interview:

Debbie, would you tell our readers how you became a TeachingAuthor? 

When I was an elementary school teacher, I taught writing to my students. When I was a PK-12th grade librarian, I taught writing to my students. As an author, it was only natural to continue teaching writing through continuing education classes at universities, school visits, and writing conferences. My website has a writing section that I hope is helpful to writers of all ages.

Can you tell us a bit about your Mermaid Tales series and how you came to write it? What was the inspiration behind the newest book in the series, Treasure in Trident City? Are there more Mermaid Tales books in the works? 

Yes, there are more Mermaid Tales books in the works. Treasure in Trident City (think sunken pirate ship, pirate ghosts, and treasure!) is #8 and I have written 12 so far. It is a series about a school at the bottom of the ocean. The merboys and mermaids have normal school adventures, but also get the opportunity to have exciting interactions with ocean animals. In Treasure in Trident City, Pearl becomes friends with a giant octopus! I was lucky enough that Simon and Schuster approached me about writing it.

I’m intrigued that Simon and Schuster approached you. Did they provide the general premise for the series and ask you to come up with the stories? Did they dictate number of books, plot ideas, etc.? Did you already have other series with them?

They suggested a series about mermaids and let me run with it, but first they wanted me to create a world for them to live in, so I created a Travel Guide to Trident City which outlined the world.  Of course, the one I gave to my editor had character sketches, a map (which the artist redrew for the books), and ideas for books. They did not say how many books they wanted to start with, but I thought four was a great number (since I had four main character) to try and they went for it. This was the first work I've done for Simon and Schuster. I thought it was interesting that they contacted me through my website and I was glad that I had a way on there for them to contact me! It doesn't have my email listed, but it comes directly to my email.

Your website highlights you as an author for “reluctant readers.” What is it about your books that appeals to reluctant readers? Do you have any tips for other writers who want to reach this audience?

I hope my books are full of action, which I think draws in reluctant readers. I think books for any young reader needs to be kid-oriented and avoid overdosing on description.

You also list specific suggestions for parents and teachers to help motivate reluctant readers on your website. Which of these ideas to you think are most effective? 

There is nothing a parent or teacher can to do encourage reading more than modeling that behavior. Reading aloud to them and turning off the TV to read when your child can see speaks volumes!

You’re such a prolific author. Would you share a little about your writing schedule/routine? Do you set writing quotas/goals? Do you have any tricks for generating story/character ideas?

I write every day, except Sunday. I begin my day by updating my website, Facebook fan page, and answering email. Then I dive into writing and strive for 3-4 pages per day and most of that is done in the morning. My website,, has a writing section that has ‘worksheets’ that I use to help me learn about my character and my stories. I think they are helpful. My friend Marcia Jones and I created them for a book about writing called Story Sparkers, which we are currently turning into an eBook.

You do so many school and library visits. Can you share a funny (or interesting) story about one?

I’ll never forget the little boy who was crying in the hallway when I visited his school. Why was he crying? It was because he had thought the characters in the Bailey School Kids books (my first series with Marcia Jones) were visiting. When he found out it was just me, he was devastated. To him, the characters were real and he really wanted to meet them!

Well, I can't think of a better compliment to your writing than that, Debbie! Thank you so much for taking time out from your busy schedule to visit with us.  

I hope all the teachers in our audience will visit the Teacher's Page of Debbie's website for book-related activities and other resources. And I hope all our readers check back here on Wednesday, when Debbie shares a favorite writing exercise for our Wednesday Writing Workout.

Now it's time for you to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of Treasure in Trident City (Aladdin). Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter via 1, 2, or all 3 options specified. If you choose the "comment" option, share a comment to TODAY'S blog post telling us what you'll do with the book should you win: save it for yourself or give it away? And please include your name in your comment, if it's not obvious from your comment "identity." (If you prefer, you may submit your comment via email to: teachingauthors [at] gmail [dot] com.  )

The giveaway ends on May 30. 

And congratulations to our most recent winner, Elaine Kaplan, who follows us via email. Thanks for being a TeachingAuthors subscriber, Elaine!

Good luck and happy writing!

P.S. If you've never entered a Rafflecopter giveaway, here's info on how to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway and the difference between signing in with Facebook vs. with an email address. Email subscribers: if you received this post via email, you can click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of this message to access the entry form.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


kt giorgio said...

My daughter really enjoyed the first book! Thanks for sharing!

iza said...

Great interview! A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Debbie at the Hudson Children's Book Festival and she was lovely. It was nice to learn more about her!

Cat Ami said...

I love seeing interviews with children's book authors... really lovely interview!

Pen N. InkBlog said...

What a wonderfully helpful site. Thank you so much for pointing me to it. I would first read Mermaid Tales to the kids I tutor at The North Valley Caring Center. Then I would send it to my granddaughter, Ella.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for the comments KT, Iza, Cat Ami, and Susan. Good luck to those of you who entered our drawing!

LibraryDragon/Storykeeper said...

What a great interview. I am a K-6 Librarian in Billings, Montana. My students are fans of the Bailey School Kids and I know they would enjoy the mermaid series. I am adding those titles to my next book order. I really enjoy your site.

LibraryDragon/Storykeeper said...

Oops - I subscribe by email. If I win it will go into my school library. I love when I can help kids make connections with authors. It is fun to watch their eyes light up.

Gayl Smith said...

This book would be so popular at our school. I would first share it with a member of our First Readers' Club who would read it and enter a review onto our online book catalog for all of our students to see. After that, it would be hard to keep it on our shelves!

Margo Dill said...

I would save the book to share wi th my daughter when she gets a little older.

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for stopping by LibraryDragon, Gayl, and Margo. Good luck in the drawing!