Thursday, August 9, 2018

Writing Tips & Middle Grade Author Jessie Janowitz

Welcome! Before we meet our author, here are some writing tips from authors I interviewed in August and September, 2016. As always, feel free to leave your own tips in the comments.

Don't waste any time. I came late to writing and wish I could have started in my teensSilke Stein, author of Trina Bell's Humming Summer.

Write what’s close to youSuzanne de Montigny, author of the Shadow of the Unicorn series.

Know why you write and be passionate about following your "Why", for you will encounter many times of discouragement when only your "why" will see you through. Always know, if you're not passionate about your "why" no one else will be eitherL.R.W. Lee, author of Andy Smithton: Vision of the Griffin's Heart.

The best advice I can give is write daily, even if it’s only a few paragraphs and read every chance you getSteve Altier, author of Lizardville - The Ghost Story.

And now

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Jessie Janowitz, a first time middle grade author.

First, a bit about Jessie:

Jessie Janowitz is a graduate of Princeton University’s undergraduate creative writing program and holds a J.D. from University of Pennsylvania Law School. She’s currently enrolled in the Writing for Children MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. This is her debut novel. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers?

Two of my kids are in middle school, and I wanted to write the kind of books that they can never get enough of: family stories with a mix of humor and heart.

What types of books do you like to read?

Almost all books for kids. Mostly realistic fiction. I love good historical fiction, particularly ones with a bit of mystery. I love Gennifer Choldenko’s middle grade books, like Al Capone Does My Shirts and Chasing Secrets.

When you are not writing, what do you do?

I’m hanging out with my kids. I have three. I listen to a LOT of audiobooks. I just listened to The Hazel Wood with my kids, and I highly recommend it. I also love to travel with my family. Our last big trip was to India. It was magical, particularly the Himalayas, where we visited Buddhist monasteries.

Tell us about The Doughnut Fix and how the story came to be.

The Doughnut Fix is the story of a 12-year-old boy’s quest to start his own doughnut business in the tiny upstate NY town to which his family has moved from NYC.

There were two real sparks that set me on the path to writing The Doughnut Fix. Strangely perhaps, neither was a doughnut.

Spark #1: Back in 2008--I incubate stories for a long time before I put pen to paper--I witnessed kids being pulled from my son's school mid-year. It was during the financial crisis, and these families' circumstances had changed so drastically and suddenly that they had to leave their homes and community. It was clear that these kids sensed something had gone terribly wrong, but they were never told the complete story. Moving can be traumatic enough, and I wondered what that experience would be like if the decision was taken suddenly, and you knew you weren't getting all the facts.

Spark #2: This sign is in the window of a small market in a very small town I drive through all the time. It always made me laugh and wonder what the story behind it might be. There was something about the store, one that had seen better days, that made me suspect that it didn’t actually have chocolate cream doughnuts, which made the sign so much better, not as a potential doughnut source, of course, but as story material. A lying sign really got my imagination going.

Here's a peek at The Doughnut Fix:

Tristan isn't Gifted or Talented like his sister Jeanine, and he's always been okay with that because he can make a perfect chocolate chip cookie and he lives in the greatest city in the world. But his life takes a turn for the worse when his parents decide to move to middle-of-nowhere Petersville―a town with one street and no restaurants. It's like suddenly they're supposed to be this other family, one that can survive without bagels and movie theaters.

His suspicions about his new town are confirmed when he's tricked into believing the local general store has life-changing chocolate cream doughnuts, when in fact the owner hasn't made them in years. And so begins the only thing that could make life in Petersville worth living: getting the recipe, making the doughnuts, and bringing them back to the town through his very own doughnut stand. But Tristan will soon discover that when starting a business, it helps to be both Gifted and Talented, and It's possible he's bitten off more than he can chew...

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I’m at work on the sequel to The Doughnut Fix and can’t wait to share it with readers. It will be released in the spring.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Keep going! Revision is a powerful tool, an essential one, but it can also be your enemy. Don’t try to revise until you get to the end. If you keep tinkering on your way to the end of your story, you may never get there. Embrace the flawed first draft!

Anything else you want readers to know?

Yes! I believe (and have observed) kids really responding to the sense of empowerment that my main character Tris attains through his struggle to start his own doughnut business. In fact, it’s inspired me to launch The Doughnut Fix Start-Your-Own-Business Challenge ( so they can experience a bit of that for themselves. There’s an activity kit and a chance to win a prize!

Where can readers find you and your books?

Anywhere books are sold--Barnes and Noble, Amazon, IndieBound, Bam!, etc. To find out more about me and my work, you can visit me on, Twitter, or Facebook.