Easter Ann Peters
By Jody Lamb
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About The Book:
Twelve-year-old Easter Ann Peters has a plan to make seventh grade awesome: Operation Cool. She’s determined to erase years of being known as the quiet, straight-A student who can’t think of a decent comeback to a bully she calls Horse Girl. When the confident new girl, Wreni, becomes her long-needed best friend, Easter lets her personality shine. The coolest guy in school takes a sudden interest. But as tough times at school fade away, so does a happy life at home. Mom is drinking, and Easter works double-overtime to keep their secret in the tiny lakeside town. Operation Cool derails. Fast. Can Easter discover the solution in time? Or will seventh grade be her worst year yet?
Have you ever wished for something so important that you thought your entire future depended on the outcome? Easter Ann Peters has. From an adult point-of-view, maybe her aspirations aren't in the realm of what we would consider drastically important. But, how does one measure a young girls' desire to be accepted, liked, and befriended.
Author Jody Lamb dives deep and brings to the surface strong emotions through common and tragic circumstances in Easter Ann's life. She creates in this young character both a heroine and a victim, stirring in the reader both joy and grief. The reading is light and humorous, and at times, deeply serious while dealing with family trauma and peer pressure. While this is certainly an engaging read, it also has lessons to teach and would give young adult readers much food for thought. I'm more than happy to give this book 5 Stars!
BETWEEN THE PAGES thanks author Jody Lamb for taking the time to give us an interview.
Jody Lamb, author of Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a lifelong story lover. I’m also a passionate advocate for kids with alcoholic loved ones. I hope my books generate greater discussion and awareness about coping with the effects of loved ones’ alcoholism. After reading nearly everything written about alcoholism and its effect on families, I believe there’s great need for contemporary, effective books on the subject for young people. You can read more about that on my website – JodyLamb.com.
I’m a fan of books, writing, dogs, peppermint ice cream, ear-to-ear smiles, insides-twisting laughter and my family. I’ve been told I’m pretty ungrownup, for a grownup, in a good way. By day, I’m a corporate public relations manager. I earned a journalism degree from Michigan State University. I live in metro Detroit in the beautiful Michigan mitten.
I love connecting with fellow authors and book lovers. You can find me on twitter: @jodymlamb and facebook.com/JodyLambAuthor.
2. Congratulations on the release of your debut novel. Please tell us about it.
Thank you! Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool is a middle-grade novel about a 12-year-old Easter Ann Peters who has a plan—Operation Cool—to make her seventh grade year awesome and erase years of being known only as a quiet, straight-A student who can’t think of a comeback to her bully. When the confident new girl, Wreni, becomes her long-needed best friend, Easter lets her personality shine. The coolest guy in school takes a sudden interest. But as tough times at school fade away, so does a happy life at home. Easter’s mother is drinking a lot, and Easter works double overtime to keep their secret in the tiny lakeside town. Operation Cool derails, fast, and Easter must discover a solution. It’s a story of friendship, fitting in, family drama and hope.
3. What’s the inspiration behind the novel?
I wrote this book because it’s the story I would have been as a young girl. When I created the Easter Ann character, I knew I just had to keep going with the story because I wanted to know what would happen to her. Also, because alcoholism is a problem in my large family, and I know that millions of kids are coping with the destructive effects of alcoholism in their lives, too, I wanted to create a realistic story that could spark a little hope. After reading nearly every book written about alcoholism and its effect on families, I was shocked to discover that researchers estimate that 10 to 25 percent of American kids live with at least one parent who abuses alcohol.
I hope that young people will enjoy getting to know the Easter character and perhaps identify with her struggles at school and at home. I hope they’re moved by her determination and hope. For readers with alcoholics in their lives, I hope that they’re reminded that they are not alone and that they’re inspired by Easter’s discovery of the solution to improve her life situation. For readers who do not have alcoholics in their lives, I hope they’ll gain a more solid understanding of what alcoholism is, how it affects others and sensitivity to what their classmates, teammates and neighbors may be coping with at home.
4. How long did it take you to write this?
This novel began as a short story homework assignment in a community college creative writing course in the summer of 2009. I was 26 and in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. I had quickly moved up the corporate ladder in marketing and PR but I enjoyed little satisfaction in the work
I was missing something. I studied many grownups around me. They’re full of regrets and they give up on dreams. I didn’t want to be that kind of grownup but I’d never felt so lost about changing my life. One day, I read all of my childhood diaries and cried over the grand plans I had for life in grownup land. I would start and led a good-cause organization to do great things. I would do something new every day, even if I had the flu. I thought little-kid me would be so disappointed in the way I lived the grownup life. The next day, the only thing I could think to do was enroll in a creative writing course to write stories like I did as a girl.
Quickly came my first draft of a middle-grade novel manuscript. It was cathartic. I felt like me, again, for the first time in more than a decade.
I kept working on the novel, giving a lot of my non-working time to learning how to write better for kids. Two and a half years and four drafts later, it had been rejected 30 times by agents and editors. A few of them told me to drastically change it because “realistic fiction isn’t easy to sell.” I couldn’t change it. It would lose its purpose. I feared I may never be able to share it with young people. Finally, the marvelous Jennifer Baum of Royal Oak, Michigan-based Scribe Publishing Company liked the story and believed in the subject and in me.
In this rapidly evolving world of publishing, my advice to aspiring authors is to write the story that they want to read. Pay more attention to your heart than what the publishing industry editors and agents say about what they’re looking for to be the next big hit. The best story is going to be the one you love. And of course, don’t ever give up.
5. Where do you write?
When I first began writing again as an adult, I sat down to pen or key my homework assignments at home and at coffee shops. I froze. I was distracted by the usual stresses around me – the deadlines, the people, the carpet needing vacuuming. So I went to my local lakeside park. Right away, when I unpacked my notebook and pen, I actually felt lighter, as crazy as that might sound. My work stresses and family drama weren’t with me there. Expectations and obligations. Worries and insecurities. They all slipped away. There, if only for a minute or two, I’m a writer with a notebook full of blank pages and a pen full of ink. It’s how I always thought grownup would feel. Being there is good for my writerly soul, like eating ice cream, and I am so grateful for that free feeling.
6. What’s next for you?
My first young adult novel is in progress. I’m currently writing two non-fiction books for kids related to coping when loved ones are addicted to alcohol or other drugs. I hope to find a way to provide such books to kids at no cost. Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool has kick-started my life efforts to help kids coping with tough stuff. If one kid ever writes to me, “Hey, thanks for this,” those four words alone will be infinitely more valuable than 50 years of continued success in corporate America. I’m so excited.
You can learn more about Jody and her debut middle-grade novel, Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool, on her website – www.JodyLamb.com. Jody hopes you’ll say hi and connect with her at Facebook.com/JodyLambAuthor and Twitter.com/jodymlamb.
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