Thursday, May 14, 2009

Giveaway and Interview with Rachel Rene Russell, author of Dork Diaries



From the back cover: Dork Diaries follows eighth grader Nikki Maxwell as she chronicles through text and sketches her move to a snooty new school; her epic battle with her mom for an iphone; her enthusiasm for drawing and art; and a love/hate fascination with the new school's queen bee, a girl named MacKenzie, who becomes Nikki's rival in a schoolwide art competition. Nikki writes about friendships, crushes, popularity and family with a unique and fresh voice that still conveys a universal authenticity. Nikk's sketches throughout her diary addd humor and spunk to the book, a surefire hit with tween girl readers.

I can't imagine a tween girl not loving this book. It's fun, it's real, it's fantastic! Rachel has portrayed MacKenzie, the queen of mean, to perfection. Nikki is just an ordinary kid trying her best to fit in but the tween years are jam packed with drama and Nikki sure knows how to play that card. She just has to have an iphone. She wants one, she needs one and that's that. Nikki wants an iphone so badly she spray paints a hearing aid she found to look like an earpiece for a phone. There are a lot more amusing incidents in this book. Let's get right to the interview and contest because I know that is what you want to read.

Kaye: Hi Rachel, I want to welcome you today to discuss your new book, Dork Diaries. Your bio says you are an attorney, are you currently practicing and what type of law do (did) you practice?

Rachel: Yes, I still practice law. I am a consumer bankruptcy attorney and help people get out of debt. A lot of families are struggling due to the recession and high unemployment rate, so I really like this area of the law. However, I'm now taking a few months off to finish up my Dork Diaries Book 2. I like being a children's author a lot better than an attorney because they do not allow you to wear your pajamas to court. And, the Judges want you to bathe.


Kaye: Judges and the court are so picky! Since this is a debut novel, can you tell us when you came up with the idea for the book? Did you kick it around for a long time or just write it straight away?

Rachel: I came up with the idea for the book in the spring of 2007 and wrote most of it during the summer of 2008. The illustrations were completed in the fall. It was a fun book to write and often I'd be sitting at my computer laughing at my own jokes. My family thought I was nuts.


Kaye: Well, at least you can amuse yourself. Why a pre teen book?

Rachel: I love writing about Tween-age characters because I feel it's a fun and exciting age. They are not quite as tainted or complex as older teens and adults. Also, they still find the world to be quite fascinating and they have vivid imaginations. Older teens do "not-so-fun" stuff like wreck your car and then park it in the garage until you notice the entire front end is missing.


Kaye: I've heard from self published authors that it is very difficult to get a publisher now. Did you have a hard time finding a publisher and how long did it take to go through the process?

Rachel: Actually, thanks to my fantastic agent, Daniel Lazar at Writers House, I was very lucky. We had several publishers interested in the first week and the book went to auction. I still pinch myself once a week to make sure I'm not dreaming.


Kaye: I am really interested in the ever so clever marketing of your book. Whose idea was it to put the book in a purse with items from the story? Is this just for pre- publication marketing because when I went to Amazon it just showed the book, no purse.

Rachel: It was my idea to send the book to reviewers along with Nikki's purse. I was trying to come up with a marketing idea that was fun, exciting and memorable and would introduce the reader to my main character, Nikki Maxwell. Sending her purse (stuffed with personal items) along with the book was the perfect way to achieve this. And, if the book turned out crappy, at least everyone would get a cute purse and some lip gloss out of it. The actual book does NOT come with the purse. But, I plan to give away a lot of them during my Blog Tour and on the Dork Diaries web site which launches in June.


Kaye: Contestants, take note. One of you will be winning a truly unique prize. Did you do any particular research into the pre teen culture?

Rachel: I've been exposed to Tween culture mostly due to the fact that I have two daughters. But, I also make a concerted effort to stay abreast of the latest trends by going to teen movies, watching television and reading magazines. And, if I'm around Tweens in a public place, like the mall, I always try to listen and observe, in hopes of picking up material I can use in my books. So, I do lots of things, short of actually stalking them.


Kaye: You stated that you have 2 daughters who provide material for the book. What do they think of their Mom writing such a fun book?

Rachel: In the beginning they were very helpful. But, by the second month, they were sick of me asking them about the latest slang, who they thought was the cutest Jonas brother, and re-reading manuscript pages for like the 7th time. So, they demanded that I pay them an hourly "consulting fee." And, I agreed to it. Yes, it's sad that your own flesh and blood would stoop so low.


Kaye: Your daughters sound very enterprising! The book is illustrated by you, and quite well I might add. Do you have any formal art training or does it just come naturally?

Rachel: No, I have not had any formal training. I think this talent just runs in my family. Both of my daughters are very good artists. Toward the end, I started falling a bit behind schedule, so I took on two assistants to help me get the illustrations done by the deadline. One of my daughters was an assistant, and yes she charged me for that too!

Kaye: Are you a doodler? If so, does it help you think?

Rachel: Yes, I'm a doodler. Actually, I cannot think UNLESS I'm doodling. I'm doodling while I type this.


Kaye: I like the message in the book to be yourself and not try to pander to the popular. Is there any personal inspiration for this message?

Rachel: Yes, my younger daughter tried really hard to fit with other students during grade school and middle school. I felt really sorry for her, because no matter what she did and no matter how hard she tried, everyone at her school still considered her to be a bit weird because... well, she IS a bit weird. But, she is also kind, smart, loving and super-talented. I dedicated my book to her.

Kaye: Is this something you are trying to instill in your own daughters?

Rachel: Most definitely, yes! And, I'm also trying to instill it in myself. I wanted to write serious teen novels like Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dessen and Stephenie Meyer. But, literary agents just read my manuscripts and laughed. Really hard. So, I decided to take advantage of that and try to make the stories funny on purpose. So, now my heroes are Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries) and Barbara Park (Junie B), two very funny and talented authors. I also like Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid). I heard it was a lot harder to make people laugh than to make them cry. So, I am finally getting comfortable with my light-hearted, fluffy, sometimes silly writing and drawing skills.


Kaye: So you are playing to your strengths. Good strategy! When do you anticipate Dork Diaries 2 to be available?

Rachel: It is supposed to be released in the Summer of 2010. Actually, I'm supposed to be working on it right now.


Kaye: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Rachel: I hope to have written both a chapter book series and a YA series by then. And, maybe I'll try a serious novel too. Something really original and unique like a girl falling in love with a dangerous vampire or a boy who goes to wizard school.

Kaye: Yeah, either of those sounds really good and original to boot! ( eyes rolling in head) Lol! You have a very good sense of humor, it is easy to see why your book is so much fun. Thank you for spending some of your valuable time with us. Also, a big thanks for your generosity in providing one lucky reader with Nikki's purse. The winner will love it!

Now for the contest. Open to US and Canada only. No P.O. Boxes please. Rachel will ship the winner the purse and book when it becomes available in early June. Be sure to leave an e- mail address in your comment. Entries must be received by 5 P.M. on May 24th.
No need for separate comments for entries.

For your official entry: comment on an interview answer from Rachel.

For 3 bonus entries: become a public follower. Already one, that counts too!

For 1 bonus entry: post a link to the contest in your sidebar.Good luck!

51 comments:

  1. I love the idea of tween books. I agree about the "not-so-fun" stuff, like wrecking cars. I know it's hard being a tween, figuring out where you fit in. I would love to win this as I know the tween girl it would go to.\

    l-morrissey(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  2. She is publishing a new book in 2010. She hopes to write more books for older teens. Thanks.

    gahome2mom at gmail dot com

    (P.S. Your link at Book Blogs was incorrect. You have a comma were a dot should be. I also tweeted it @gahome2mom so hopefully you will get more hits.) Have a great day! :)

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  3. Rachel is so impressive - she's a mom, a lawyer and an author. The book sounds like great fun. milou2ster(at)gmail.com

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  4. follower

    gahome2mom at gmail dot com

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  5. What a great giveaway and interview!

    I'm always looking for great tween books because my niece is an avid 12-year-old reader who simply can't get enough, and I tryi to make sure she has good books over here as she visit all the time! I find that reading the same books that she does (I like to read and review them on my blog) gives us something extra to talk about, especially when she has a hard day at school. ;) (I'm hoping this makes me the FUN aunt! LOL)

    I absolutely love the fact that Rachel Rene Russell gets help (and slang) from her daughters. What a wonderful way to stay connected, hear about current issues and make the girls feel good about themselves. What is better than going to the source for great information, plus, its the perfect way to appeal to tween girls.

    So . . . I'm going to keep my newly polished fingers and toes crossed that I can win a copy of this fun sounding tweeny book to both review and share with my niece!

    ~ Wendi
    wbarker at hotmail.com

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  6. I've just added a link to your giveaway on my sidebar under the giveaway section!

    Sorry about the different comments - I was too tired to think clearly this morning. :) Forgive me??

    ~ Wendi
    wbarker at hotmail.com

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  7. What a cool marketing idea to send the book to publishers in a purse.

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  8. Just saying I've posted this on Win A Book. Don't enter me.

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  9. my daughter would think this book is a hoot!

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  10. This book sounds so fun! I would love to read it myself and then pass it on to my niece.

    I love that Rachel illustrated the book herself. That's my goal to someday write and illustrate my own childrens book. I think she is so clever to use her daughters as a source for information and the latest fads. She has her own research team!

    Please include me in the drawing. This is a fun contest!
    - I'm a very loyal follower, forever and always.
    - I've added this to my sidebar.
    http://www.wrightysreads.blogspot.com

    5wrights1[at]verizon[dot]net

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  11. The "tweens" are such a tricky age! This one sounds like a winner. I loved the interview. I was highly entertained by Rachel's daughters refusing to help for free! I can see my daughter acting in a similar fashion someday. Thanks for the giveaway--I love the little purse marketing idea :)

    I already follow you.
    allison DOT campbell AT gmail DOT com

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  12. This looks great! Please enter me!

    It was a little odd to read in the interview that she thinks her daughter is weird. But, cool that she dedicated the book to her.

    BookCrossingKitten22[at]gmail[dot]com

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  13. like that she's a doodler...like me
    pksanddancer@yahoo.com

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  14. I am so happy you are writing funny instead of sad!! I really get tired of all the sad coming of age books.
    I remember mostly fun and happy.
    I know just the girl for this book besides me.
    Thanks,
    Grandma Sally

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  15. Love that she's a doodler. I do my best thinking while I'm doodling.
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    kimspam66(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  16. Looks like a cute book, please enter me!
    booksobsession(at)gmail(dot)com

    I liked her answer saying, "And, maybe I'll try a serious novel too. Something really original and unique like a girl falling in love with a dangerous vampire or a boy who goes to wizard school."

    Vampire books are always a popular topic for teens (..mostly girls!!)

    +3 I am a follower.

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  17. I live the idea that she writes for teens and thinks as they get older and get into more trouble they are not fun to writhe about. I would love to have my name entered for your drawing.
    Thanks
    Carlene
    iluvreading(at)verizon.net

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  18. I am a follower.
    Thanks
    Carlene
    iluvreading(at)verizon.net

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  19. My daughter would love this book. It's nice to see that Rachel has embraced her funny side. I think when authors write in a style that comes naturally to them the book is so much better!

    jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

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  20. I am already a follower :)

    jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

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  21. I posted about this in my right sidebar at:

    http://janelsjumble.blogspot.com

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  22. That was a great interview!

    As a practicing lawyer, I liked her quip about court protocol and that her daughters were charging her by the hour for their services! But I really enjoyed learning how she chose to write for and about tweens - the curiosity without the anger and fighting that comes with the teen years! I also enjoyed larning more about how she ended up writing to her strengths with funny characters and situations.

    I think it's pretty amazing how a writer gets a book done and to the market. So even the description of the "goodie bags" with the book was cool.

    +1 I've posted a link to this contest on my blog's sideroll

    http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/

    + 3 I'm a public follower

    Thanks!

    gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

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  23. I am loving her ideas of future novels . . .but they sound so familiar ;)

    ajcmeyer AT go DOT com

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  24. Great interview! I liked reading about Rachel's children's involvement and help with the book, even though they demanded "compensation"! Also, I love how purses were sent out with the books - such a great marketing idea! I'd love to be entered - this book sounds like a lot of fun :)

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  25. I'm also a follower of your blog!

    bookopolis at live dot com

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  26. She has a new book coming out in 2010! And she is a lawyer..

    I am a follower.. :)

    lovestoread0708(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  27. I think it is brillant that her daughters charge her a "consulting fee". I bet they have a great Mother/Daughter realationship!

    I am a google reader follower.

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  28. Tee hee... well, if the book is as good a chuckle as this interview, it should prove quite entertaining.

    Both my girls were/are big Junie B. fans! My youngest zoomed through the 3 Wimpy Kid books and loved the diary style (and those crazy illustrations)! Dork Diaries would be another fun read for her, I'm sure!

    I am a follower.
    Not my sidebar but I have this giveaway posted here.

    wanda_waiting[@]hotmail[.]com

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  29. I'm now a follower :)

    My husband's niece is a tween and her mom is having a hard time getting her to read outside of the classroom. I think something like this would be perfect for her and I'd never heard of it before. So thanks!

    zoeyredbird9@gmail.com

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  30. First of all I love LOVE the Title of this book! My nine year old daughter and a couple of her friends have started a "dork club" at school because they just want to be themselves and don't care if they are dorks or whatever people want to label them. This is why I'd love a chance to win this book.
    From the interview - I love how she said that she listened in on tween/teen girls at the mall for some of her research. I too love to hear what the girls are talking about and if it's the same things me and my friends were talking about at that age. I also like how she reads the tween magazines. I steal my daughters all the time or if I'm the first to the mail box, you better believe I'm reading it before she gets home. Thank you so much for the chance to win! I'll be looking forward to all the books in the Dork Diaries and I know my daughter will to!
    five_lambs@yahoo.com

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  31. I would love to win a copy of this book! It sounds like a fun one!

    I enjoyed reading the interview with the author. She sounds like a busy lady and a fun one too! I think it is neat that she illustrated the book herself and got her daughters involved as well!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    Cindy
    Socmom213@aol.com

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  32. I just became a follower of your blog and enjoy reading it!
    Thanks for the giveaway. I think this would be a great book to read.

    Cindy
    Socmom213@aol.com

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  33. I, too, like the message in the book "to be yourself and not try to pander to the popular." But it's so hard to get tweens to believe that.
    traymona[at]aol.com

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  34. Great interview...nice to hear that other people doodle as well! I would love to enter for this book and know just who I will share it with if I win...one happy niece.
    I am a public follower (if that means over on the right where the little pictures are???) Thanks for an always great interview and giveaway..and you blog gets cuter every time I am here...you are so clever!

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  35. Older teens do "not-so-fun" stuff like wreck your car and then park it in the garage until you notice the entire front end is missing.
    Ain't that the truth! I have that to look forward to soon!
    digicat{AT}sbcglobal{DOT}net

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  36. I follow you
    digicat{AT}sbcglobal{DOT}net

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  37. Her daughters wanting a consulting fee made me laugh out loud! Great interview. Pleasde enter me.

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  38. Oh I almost had water on my computer screen when I read about her daughters and their "consulting fee" and then one of then charging for being an assistant... I could see some tweens doing just that.. What a wonderful book for such a hmmm interesting time in ones life.. weeshenanigans (at( gmail (dot) com

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  39. I love the fact that Rachel says she's a doodler. Doodlers are very creative and her book certainly sounds creative.

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  40. I think it's neat that she illustrated it herself -- what with being a lawyer and a mom and everything else -- she has so much talent!

    marielay@gmail.com

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  41. I am a follower.

    marielay@gmail.com

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  42. I also doodle when I am trying to think. Somehow, when my hands are engaged, my brain is free to do what it needs to do without as many distractions.

    madamerkf at aol dot com

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  43. It's nice to know that if my daughter like this that another 2nd book will be coming out in 2010. Thanks.
    pamelashockley(AT)netscape(DOT)net

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  44. This sonds like a great book to read!

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  45. This books sounds like too much fun to pass up! I love the image of the author sitting at her computer laughing at her own jokes! Thanks for the chance to win a copy! I'm sure I'll be laughing, too!

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

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  46. And, I'm a Follower!

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

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  47. Great interview. The book sounds like fun.

    Please enter me.


    sharon54220@gmail.com

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  48. I am also a follower.

    sharon54220@gmail.com

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  49. This was a well written review of a fine book for tweens and their culture. I really enjoyed the author interview as well.

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  50. Hello, Please enter me. I have a tween niece that would love this book.

    +3 I am a follower

    runningmatey at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete

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