For our YA Fresh Halloween celebration, we welcome debut author Cindy Callaghan to chat with us about her writer’s life and her debut middle grade novel, Just Add Magic.

Hello, Cindy! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

I’ve been writing forever. In third grade I wrote my first play. I was always into short stories, scenes and characters. Of course, lots of melodramatic poetry. Then, I put creative writing aside for college, grad school, early career days of clawing my way to the glass ceiling, and starting a family. About six years ago I saw an ad for a writing class. That catapulted me into my first novel, a fabulous suspense thriller for adults. The class became a critique group and one novel became another and another, and finally to JUST ADD MAGIC.

Great! Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author’s writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

I prefer big chunks of time to write. So, I try to block a whole day, sometimes two. I go away over night sometimes. It is very hard for me to find a quiet place, so getting away to our mountain house alone or with a few writing friends works very well. The coffee shop is a good place for me to edit on paper. Also, I like to work early in the morning. If my creative juices are really flowing, like with a first draft, I can get up really early and write for hours. It feels like minutes.

Please tell us about your novel, Just Add Magic, and what we can expect from your characters.

When Kelly Quinn and her two BFFs discover a dusty old cookbook while cleaning out her attic, the girls decide to try a few of the mysterious recipes inside. But the ancient book bears an eerie warning, and it doesn’t take long for the girls to realize that their dishes are linked to strange occurrences. The Keep ‘Em Quiet Cobbler actually silences Kelly’s pesky little brother and the Hexberry Tart brings an annoying curse to mean girl Charlotte Barney. And there is the Love Bug Juice, which seems to have quite the effect on those cute Rusamano boys…

Could these recipes really be magical? Who wrote them and where did they come from. And most importantly, what kind of trouble are the girls stirring up for themselves? Things are about to get just a little too hot in Kelly Quinn’s kitchen.

Sounds terrific, Cindy. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

I’ll borrow from the great philosopher, Nike…..Just Do It!

I love it! Okay–now YA Freshers, it’s your turn to weigh in. To be entered to win a copy of Cindy’s book, and keeping the Halloween holiday and yummy food in mind, merely leave us a comment telling us your favorite Halloween treat! Whether it’s trick-or-treat candy, a cup of witch’s brew punch over dry ice or maybe orange and black popcorn balls…whatever you like!

And be sure to check back on Monday to learn the winner.

Freshly Posted by TinaFerraro @ 10/29/2010

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