Emblazon is a cool site to find books for tweens by some really great authors. And every fourth Wednesday of the month, the Emblazoners host Tween the Weekends and give others an opportunity to promote (reviews, writing for kids, etc.) tween literature — that age bracket squashed between middle grade and young adult. So, I thought now would be a great time to introduce you to a new teen author.
It’s my pleasure to welcome Gabriella Webster to my blog today. Gabriella is an award-winning fourteen-year-old author who recently published her first novel, CONFESSIONS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL NERD. And she’s giving away a copy of it here today. Just enter via the Rafflecopter below!
In just a short amount of time, Gabriella has racked up some impressive credits:
- Second Place in the 7th & 8th grade division of the 2013 Texas Book Festival Fiction Writing Contest presented by Kirkus Reviews for her short story, “Constellations.”
- 1st Place Overall in a local high school’s Teen Read Week Fiction Writing Contest for her poem, “Eventually.”
- Teen Ink Editor’s Choice for her Poem “Ode to an Ink Pen.”
I recently read CONFESSIONS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL NERD and loved it. My inner nerd could definitely relate – especially thinking back to when I was in school. Gabriella’s main character, Kylie Wattson, uses humor to recount some of her less than stellar experiences. She is a character that I think most teens can relate to and I believe the book is a must read for kids at the middle and high school levels.
In this fresh and relatable, “laugh-out-loud” novel, thirteen year old Kylie Wattson exposes herself as a klutzy, nerdy, awkward teenage girl with stories to tell and lessons to learn. Through a series of quirky retellings, Kylie relates her goal of making nerdy an accessory, learning–in the end–that we’re all a little nerdy, and that’s okay. With witty intelligence, Kylie shares what she’s learned about self-worth, acceptance, and individuality.
“This is hilarious and fresh! I was literally laughing out loud!”-Christina Baker.
“An easy and relatable read for kids of all ages. Anybody can find a little bit of themselves in this novel.”-Robin Zaruba.
Gabriella agreed to an interview – so I’ll get out of the way and let you meet her.
How long have you been writing? And when did you first realize you wanted to publish your work?
I was a really creative and outgoing child—writing plays for my cousin and me to perform at sleepovers or inventing stories to tell my little brother at night—but I didn’t really develop a passion for writing until fourth grade. Before then, writing had just been fun and cute, but at ten years old I really began to develop my writing and even published short stories and poems for my school library. My teacher really saw something in me, especially the quirky kind of wit that makes its way into most of my work, and that was when I started entering fine arts competitions at school and in the district. My success in those competitions and others I entered in middle school, along with lots of encouragement from family, friends, and teachers, pushed me to publish this novel and a series of poems also written in eighth grade. It took me a while to gain the confidence to put my book on the market at only fourteen, but I’m glad I did.
Can you tell us what inspired this particular novel?
Confessions of a Middle School Nerd was originally an eighth grade writing assignment. The concept followed the guidelines of National Novel Writing Month (although the process took place in February) and was assigned as an 8,000-word fiction paper, though it evolved into so much more than that over time. When searching for a topic, I wanted a challenge. I had done the “fiction” thing for years, and been tested with non-fiction and persuasive papers in every class since third grade, but a memoir was something I had never attempted before, and I wanted to use the opportunity to writing my own novel to grow as much as I could as a writer before high school; expanding my repertoire, if you will. It was therapeutic, in a way, because Confessions of a Middle School Nerd is the story of my life. At the same time, it brought with it tough decisions about what I did and didn’t want to share with the world. Whatever I published would never go away, and the book almost exactly reflects who I am. I had to tell my story humbly, and do my crazy life justice, and I really appreciate having had the opportunity to do so. I’ve grown so much as a person in writing this book, and my intentions are that whoever reads it will, too.
You’re in high school, right? Do your friends know about your book? What has their response been like?
This year, I’m attending a different school than all of my middle school friends as a transfer student for the International Baccalaureate Programme at <a local> High School. Having to start all over and make all new friends, the book wasn’t really something I brought up initially. Writing and publishing a book isn’t a very humble thing to announce as you try to get to know people and establish yourself, but when I released it on Lulu and created the Confessions of a Middle School Nerd Facebook page, word got around, and everyone’s been really impressed and supportive. Some of the characters from Confessions of a Middle School Nerd (i.e. the geometry story in “Why This is Not a Rom-Com”) actually go to DHS with me this year, and are really excited to hear that they are in my book and may play a crucial role in the sequel to COAMSN (hint, hint). Going to school full time with the kids that inspired the geometry class aspect of “Why This is Not a Rom-Com” has everyone at school wondering if their role in my freshman year will make it into the COAMSN sequel. The book’s also gotten a lot of support from the school newspaper and clubs. Everyone is really excited to see where this book takes me, and I am too.
Tell us a little about yourself. Besides writing, what are some of the things you enjoy?
Aside from writing, I’ve been acting since I was five, yodeled and played the violin since I was seven, played volleyball since I was eight, played the ukulele since I was eleven, and danced on and off since I was two. In addition, I’m really involved in extra-curricular activities at school and participate in Chess Club, Math Club, GSA, the I Am Second Club, Interact Club, Key Club, Signing Broncos (the deaf club at our school), and Latin Club, as well as orchestra, dance, and Latin as a course. With the help of some wonderful friends, I’m also learning more and more sign language, and—as strange as this may sound—really love school. With my family and friends, I’m also very involved in community service, particularly at the local nursing homes and homeless shelters, and love giving back to the community I’ve grown up in. Outside the community, I’m a St. Jude’s Pal—and have been since I was seven—and babysit in my free time. It’s a crazy life, but I like it that way.
Wow! Very impressive. One has to wonder where you find any free time. Okay, so how about your favorite author(s)?
I’m not particularly drawn to certain authors, but I am truly in love with an interesting slough of books. Some of my favorites include The Hunger Games, The Giver, White Lilacs, And Then There Were None, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Matched, The Mysterious Benedict Society, Ender’s Game, The Outsiders, and anything Sherlock Holmes. I’m a really picky reader, but these books I really love for a multitude of reasons. I can’t stand the mushy-gushy teenage love stories that I should be obsessed with at my age, and I kept that in mind when writing Confessions of a Middle School Nerd: part of my ABC, “Anything But Cliché,” movement. I want everything I do and say to mean something, and I want everything I do and say to be remembered. Most of the stories aimed at kids my age these days are picture perfect, and I wanted to ensure that what I wrote was something I’d want to read: honest and over-flowing with life and curiosity.
I think all writers hope to see their work on the big screen or made into a TV series. Have you thought at all about who you’d like to play your main characters?
But, of course! In fact, the day I received my published novel in the mail, I drove across town to my best friend and co-illustrator’s house just to discuss the movie rights. Imagine two teenage girls high on adrenaline deciding who will play themselves in a blockbuster movie. We were so excited that we even started writing songs for when it became a Broadway musical. I think that’s one of the great things about being a teen author: I’m not afraid to dream.
The cast list is as follows:
Kylie Wattson………………..Elle Fanning
Raven………………..Jamie Lee Curtis
Two of my favorite shows are Supernatural and Pretty Little Liars. Oh! And of course, The Big Bang Theory – gotta love my fellow nerds and geeks. What are some of your favorites?
Like any honest teenage girl, I’ll admit I love Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl, Big Brother, and Dance Moms. On a totally different note, I’m obsessed with Survivor, along with Modern Family and The Middle. I love how honest those shows are with good-natured humor and personality-plus. I also have a lot of deaf friends, and know ASL, so Switched at Birth is one of my favorites.
I know this one is brand new, but have you started working on another book, yet?
Actually, a sequel has been on my mind for a little while now. As you know, Confessions of a Middle School Nerd is a memoir—a compilation of quirky and fun stories from throughout my life—but my first day of high school alone showed the potential to be a great start to Confessions of a High School Nerd. The name isn’t set in stone, and I may have to write more than one volume to do my high school years justice—perhaps a freshman edition to start—but these first few weeks of high school have shown a lot of promise for a sequel that will do my first book justice.
Wow! What a multi-talented young lady!
Thank you for being my guest today, Gabriella. I wish you much success!
So, are the rest of you ready to find out where you can get your copy of CONFESSIONS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL NERD?
Currently, it’s only available in paperback at Lulu.com. I’ll update the links should it become available elsewhere in the near future. I think it would make a great Christmas present for any tween.
Want to enter to win an autographed copy? Enter via the Rafflecopter between now and November 30th. A winner will be announced December 1st!
In the meantime, if you want to find out more about Gabriella and be one of the first to find out about any new releases, you can find her on Facebook.
And don’t forget to check out other tween links on the Emblazoner’s site!
Have questions for Gabriella? Or just want to congratulate her? Leave a comment.
As always — Thanks for reading!