MONIQUE: My friend, Vicky Morris, is guest blogging on my blog today while hers is undergoing some technical difficulties. I think you'll enjoy what she has to say. Without further ado, Vicky, welcome to my blog and "take it away!"
VICKY: Hello everyone. I'm pleased to share a fun interview with my friend, Monique Bucheger, author of the Ginnie West Adventures middle grade series. We've known each other for a couple of years, and we've ventured into something together as well. Finding a story to tell together, we can now add co-author to our writing resumes. So let's get on with the fun, shall we?
As I understand it, our book will be your first writing collaboration.
MONIQUE: Yes, it will. So far it’s been a lot of fun. The first one is almost done. I’m looking forward to introducing our new project to everybody.
VICKY: Let’s get started with that, but first, why don’t you introduce me to Ginnie and Tillie, the main characters in your current books. After all, this blog tour is about the Ginnie West Adventure series. I’d like to get to know them a little bit.
MONIQUE: Certainly, I’d love too. Ginnie West and Tillie Taylor, I’d like you to meet my good friend, Vicky Morris. She is an author, an artist, and will be the illustrator for our new series.
GINNIE: (looking puzzled) New series? You didn’t tell me that we were going to do a new series. Oh, wait a minute. You mean the picture books from when Toran and I were little, don’t you?
MONIQUE: (looking a little embarrassed): Uh-no. I mean yes, I’m planning to do more picture books—with Mikey Brooks in the future. But no, I mean I am working on a new fantasy book series—with Vicky. It will be set in a different world, with new characters. Not with you and Tillie.
GINNIE: (looking very surprised) Why not with me and Tillie? I thought we were buds. You and I go way back—since you were our age.
MONIQUE: I know, but… um, hey--I’m still working on your 5th novel. The Ginnie West Adventure series is still a huge part of me. Vicky and I aren’t replacing your series. You and Tillie have a lot more adventures to share—trust me on this. But Vicky and I started brainstorming a new world and well…, some new characters popped into my head and we felt they would be a better match for the new series.
TILLIE: (touching Ginnie’s arm) Gin, maybe we should hear them out.
VICKY: Oh, boy. This isn’t turning out quite like we planned. Say, Ginnie and Tillie, why don’t we tell you about Jadzia and Azrael—the main characters of the first two books in our new series. They are also 12—just like you two. I’m sure you’ll have a lot in common.
TILLIE: (nodding) Sure. Maybe we can be friends.
GINNIE: (letting out a slow breath) Okay. Any chance they have horses?
TILLIE: OH! I want a horse. (Locks her gaze on Monique) Ginnie has one, will I be getting one any time soon?
MONIQUE: (smiling with relief) I’m considering hooking you up. But no, the new girls don’t have horses.
VICKY: They have a black rhino though—well, Jadzia does. Azrael isn’t sure what animal she’ll get yet.
GINNIE: A black rhino? Are you kidding? They live in Africa. (wags a knowing finger as understanding lights her face.) Now I get why you need new characters. My dad isn’t going to want to move to Africa.
MONIQUE: Actually, Jadzia and Azrael live in America, like you—well sort of.
GINNIE: (shaking her head) How do you “sort of” live in America? Either you do or you don’t.
VICKY: Monique means that the girls do live in America, but it’s not exactly the same America that you live in. For instance, Ginnie, you are correct. Black Rhinos are native to Africa. Jadzia’s rhino, Elvira, does live in Africa. So when Jadzia needs to spend time with Elvira, she transports to Africa to see her.
TILLIE: Like in an airplane?
VICKY: No, like through a portal door at their new school or garden.
GINNIE: That sounds cool—but why would an African rhino need an American girl?
MONIQUE: Normally they wouldn’t, but Jadzia isn’t just an ordinary American girl. She is to be the future ambassador to the black rhinos. Just like her mom and her grandmother and seven great-grandmothers before her were.
VICKY: Well, at least everyone thinks she will be. But she hasn’t twiggled yet.
TILLIE: What does “twiggled” mean?
VICKY: It’s how our girls know they’re growing up. They hear a special song that only they can understand. That song is actually the ability to talk to a chosen animal.
GINNIE: Oh ... kind of like Calliope and me. When I ride my horse, we become like one person sometimes. Calliope just seems to know what to do and where to go—without me telling her. Like we’re thinking the same thought.
MONIQUE: Very similar, only Jadzia and Elvira will communicate with telepathy and actually hear each other’s words—provided of course, that Jadzia ever becomes the new ambassador. Things are looking pretty iffy right now.
VICKY: True, and before they can become ambassadors, Jadzia and Azrael have to twiggle and be invited to attend the Prestige Eloquence Academy for Creative Excellence or P.E.A.C.E.—a private school for girls who will learn how to be effective ambassadors for rare and fantastical animals.
TILLIE: What kind of animals?
VICKY: Black rhinos, bald Eagles, hippocerfs, albino deer, unicorns, and whatever other animals need ambassadors.
TILLIE: Unicorns? Cool.
GINNIE: What’s a hippocerf?
MONIQUE: An animal that is half-deer, half-horse.
GINNIE: You’re making that up.
MONIQUE: No, really. Google “hippocerf.” You’ll find pictures—even though they’re actually extinct.
GINNIE: (rolls eyes) And make-believe.
MONIQUE: (smiling) I did mention our new series is a fantasy, remember?
TILLIE: She did, Gin, though I think a half-deer, half-horse animal could be beautiful.
VICKY: It is. And so far, it doesn’t exist in our new world either, but who knows? Maybe in a future book.
GINNIE: How many books are in your new series?
MONIQUE: We’re thinking about a dozen. The books in the new series will be a lot shorter than the books in your series. Think “Magic Tree House” book length—and each book will explore a new animal and a new conflict a different girl needs to resolve.
TILLIE: So Jadzia and Azrael will disappear after the first 2 books?
GINNIE: I like our series better already.
VICKY: No, Tillie, they won’t disappear. We have a core group of seven girls who will go to school and learn how to be ambassadors to different kinds of animals, together. But they each have their own backstory and reason to be at The P.E.A.C.E. school, also called The Prestige. And each of them will have different strengths and trials—just like any other kids.
For instance, becoming an ambassador is a big job, and Jadzia’s mom has been doing it since she was young, but right now her mom is very sick and Jadzia isn’t sure she’ll be able to learn everything she needs to—IF she ever even twiggles.
MONIQUE: True, and Azrael isn’t sure why she gets chosen to go to the Prestige in the first place. Most girls who go there have mothers and grandmothers who also went there as teens. Azrael is like Hermione from Harry Potter—she has no family heritage that shows that she should be able to attend this special school, and yet she is chosen to go.
TILLIE: I’m so excited because we get to go to a private school in our next book, —and the new school has horses we can ride! Right, Miss Monique?
MONIQUE: That’s the plan.
GINNIE: How’d you talk my dad into that?
MONIQUE: I didn’t talk him into it. (points a finger between Ginnie and Tillie and grins) But I’ll send you a copy of the book as soon as I finish it and you’ll find out who did.
GINNIE: (groans in a joking way) Everyone says I’m a tease. I’m thinking I get accused of a lot of things that YOU are responsible for.
MONIQUE: (offers a shrug and a playful grin): Could be. Sorry about that.
TILLIE: (giggling) You don’t sound very sorry. So if Jadzia has a pet rhino—what does Azrael have?
VICKY: (smiling) Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. But I can tell you this—it’s really cool.
GINNIE: Great! Miss Monique is rubbing off on you.
VICKY: (in a teasing voice) Or maybe I’m rubbing off on her. (voice turns more serious). The animals aren’t really pets—they are wild beasts who reign in their own habitats. The cool thing about the ambassadorship program is that both the girls and the animals truly respect each other’s roles.
They help each other. Neither tries to own the other.
GINNIE: I live on a farm with cattle, hogs, chickens, ducks, cats, dogs, my horse Calliope, and a crazy nanny goat named Gertrude. We take care of our animals and even though we sometimes talk to the animals—they never talk back—though Calliope seems to try.
TILLIE: How do the girls and animals help each other, Miss Vicky?
VICKY: Well, you’ve heard stories of children being raised by animals or at least protected by them, haven’t you?
VICKY: Imagine being a lone survivor on a deserted island with just a dolphin ambassador or maybe lost in the mountains and spotted by an eagle ambassador. Those animals could tell their girl ambassadors what is going on and get help for the lost kids.
TILLIE: Wow—that’s really cool.
GINNIE: Yeah—and how do the people help the animals?
MONIQUE: In our first book—Jadzia’s mom helps a laboring mama rhino give birth to her baby. The baby is breach. Without help, the baby will die—and possibly the mom.
TILLIE: That’s so sad!
GINNIE: It is—one of our cows had that problem. My uncle had to help the calf turn so it could be born. If he hadn’t, we would have lost the calf and maybe the mom.
VICKY: Exactly. Most of the time things aren’t quite so serious, but the ambassador program is really awesome. We’re learning about all kinds of animals and hope to share some fun info. Did you know that some dolphins are naturally pink and some animals are born without any pigment?
GINNIE: Yeah—they call those animals albino. Really cool.
MONIQUE: Vicky is a great artist. She’ll be illustrating the books with cool pictures. I’m looking forward to seeing her rendition of a unicorn-cheetah-cow.
TILLIE: A what?
GINNIE: You’re making that up.
MONIQUE: (shakes her head) Nope. It’s a real animal—at least in our new world.
TILLIE: A unicorn-cheetah-cow? I’m in.
GINNIE: Me, too. Does it fly?
MONIQUE: No—but it can run REALLY fast.
GINNIE: (rolls her eyes) I’ll bet.
MONIQUE: (laughs) Vicky, thanks for having us on your blog today.
VICKY: (laughs) We’ve got a few surprises. Ginnie and Tillie, I hope you’ll check out our new series. I’m looking forward to reading more of yours.
TILLIE: Thanks. Your new series sounds fun— I’ll definitely check it out.
GINNIE: Me too.
VICKY: Thank you so much for joining me: Monique, Ginnie and Tillie. It was so much fun to talk with you all!
PS: The Secret Sisters Club and Simply West of Heaven are on sale for .99. ;)
ALSO, I have a short story in the Christmas anthology: Angels From Their Realms of Story. It's set up like an advent calendar so people can read a "story a day until Christmas."
Several authors have donated their stories to help kids with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. ALL proceeds will go to research and help support families with kids who have Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. Please help support this worthy cause. THANK YOU!! :)