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Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Family That Writes Together- A Guest Post by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Today I want to extend a warm welcome to author Lauren Baratz-Logsted who has graciously agreed to Guest Post with us! Lauren is the author of numerous novels for both teens, children and adults. The much anticipated Crazy Beautiful will be released September 7th 2009.

by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

The idea for The Sisters 8 series was born when our family was snowbound in Crested Butte, Colorado, in December of 2006. We wound up there for 10 days. The friends we were staying with had no children, nor were there any in the neighborhood, and no TV. My daughter Jackie was six at the time and she did fine for the first several days. But toward the end there, desperate for something new to do, I asked her, if I were to write a book for her, what she'd like the book to be about; you see, I'd had several books published at that point and Jackie had always been proud of my career, but she could never read the books because of the adult content.

Being an only child, Jackie wanted a book about sisters.

Me: How many sisters?

Her: Eight.

Me: What ages?

Her: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8.

Me: That's good. But what if we make it that rarest of things, octuplets...?

Before we knew it, we were off and running, brainstorming a nine-book series about the Huit sisters, whose parents go missing one New Year's Eve when Mom goes out to the kitchen for eggnog, Dad goes to the shed for firewood...and don't return. This leaves the Eights, as they are known, to solve the mystery of their parents' disappearance while keeping the greater world from realizing that eight seven-year-olds are living home alone. Each sister must discover her personal power and gift before the mystery can be solved. While Jackie came up with the sisters' names and I provided their eight cats' names, my husband Greg Logsted, also a novelist (Something Happened; Alibi Junior High) jumped in with plot twists and unique inventions, like talking refrigerators, flying watering cans, and bouncy boots.

When we finally got home to Danbury, CT, I began to write the first book, with Greg and Jackie providing input all the while. I'd write a chapter, they'd tell me what worked and what didn't, we'd discuss what needed to go into the next chapter, and on I'd go. We say that I'm "the pen" of the series, and along with that responsibility comes final veto power, but there would be no Sisters 8 without Greg and Jackie.

Once I finished the first volume, Annie's Adventures, I sent it off to one of my favorite people in publishing, the editorial director of children's books at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She ended up buying the first four books in the series for starters, all of which have been released, and has since bough volumes 5 and 6, slated to be released in 2010. We'll worry about the final three books after that.

The Sisters 8 has been favorably reviewed by Kirkus, with various reviewers comparing the series to the works of Roald Dahl, Edward Gorey and Lemony Snicket. Greg and Jackie, now nine, participate in the publishing process every step of the way and at book signings Jackie can schmooze with the best of them. You should see her signing pen: light blue glass with a sequined flower and a feather shooting out of the top. Oh, and she's pretty good at answering fan mail too.

After HMH's acquisition of the series was initially announced, I began hearing from all sorts of writing acquaintances saying how cool they thought it was and how they intended to start joint writing projects with their own small children or teens. But the most gratifying letter of all came from an unpublished writer who has a daughter with cerebral palsy. She said that for years her relationship with her daughter had been strained but that when she mentioned our family project to her daughter's therapist she was told it might be a good thing for her daughter to get involved with something like that. Her daughter has since become excited about writing and their mother/daughter relationship has greatly improved as a result. It's wonderful to think that something that began on a whim for us, just a way to keep ourselves entertained, has turned into something so positive for someone else.

It does get a little crazy having three writers under one roof. I work in what I call my basement cave; my next three books outside of The Sisters 8 series are all YA: Crazy Beautiful in September, The Education of Bet, next spring, and The Twin's Daughter in fall 2000. Greg works two storeys up in our bedroom. He's currently promoting Alibi Junior High which came out in June, has a YA on submission and a fourth book that he's working on. As for Jackie, she doesn't have her own computer yet, so she hits us up for time on ours. So far she's written skits, a play for 17 characters called The BFFs and she's working on book 2 of a series called The Cat Chronicles.

Really, the Baratz-Logsted/Logsted clan is just like any other family. We go to movies and watch TV, we have friends over, we eat pink frosting straight from the can. There's just this other thing we do also, sometimes separately, sometimes together. It's a good life.

You can visit Lauren Baratz-Logsted at http://www.blogger.com/www.laurenbaratzlogsted.com, Greg Logsted at http://www.blogger.com/www.greglogsted.com, and The Sisters 8 at http://www.blogger.com/www.sisterseight.com.

Thank you Lauren! We appreciate you stopping by! Lauren was also kind enough to do an interview with me, which I will be posting tomorrow as part of my new "Tantalizing Tuesday" series, so be sure to come back and check it out!

Lauren grew up in Monroe, CT, where her father owned a drugstore at which her mother was the pharmacist. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut at Storrs, where she majored in psychology. She also has what she calls her “half-Masters” in English from Western Connecticut State University (five courses down, another five to go…someday!).

Throughout college, she worked semester breaks as a doughnut salesperson, a job that she swears gave her white lung disease from all the powdered sugar she breathed.

Upon graduation, she began work at the venerable independent bookseller, now sadly defunct as such, Klein’s of Westport. There, she bought and sold for the better part of 11 years.

In November 1994, Lauren left the bookstore to finally take a chance on herself as a writer. Success did not happen over night. Between 1994 and May 2002 – when Red Dress Ink called with an offer to buy THE THIN PINK LINE – Lauren worked as a book reviewer, a freelance editor and writer, and a window washer, making her arguably the only woman in the world who has ever both hosted a book signing party and washed the windows of the late best-selling novelist Robert Ludlum.

Since Red Dress Ink’s call in 2002, Lauren has been kept very busy with writing more novels and checking her Amazon ranking on a daily basis. She still lives in Danbury, with her husband and daughter, where she has lived since 1991.

In addition to writing, Lauren’s daughter keeps her busy, accounting for the rest of her time.

Lauren’s favorite color is green.

Lauren’s favorite non-cat animals are penguins.

Lauren wants you to know that, however you are pronouncing her last name, you are probably pronouncing it wrong.


celi.a said...

Great interview! I've noticed a couple of family writing collaborations lately (including Robin McKinley & Peter Dickinson's Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits and Daniel and Dina Nayeri's Another Faust), and it sounds like a lot of fun. And hard work. Am looking forward to Crazy Beautiful, so I really appreciated this author spotlight. Thanks!

Kristen said...

Fantastic interview! Her books look like a lot of fun!

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