An Interview with Claudia Whitsitt | Between the Lines Blog Tour & Giveaway

12:30 AM

Between the Lines

by Claudia Whitsitt

Publication Date: March, 2015
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 318
Recommended Ages: 9+

Between the Lines tells the story of three girls who become friends during the racially-charged aftermath of the 1967 Detroit Riots.

Hattie Percha is crushed when the riots start on her tenth birthday, and when she must move away from her treasured childhood home and friends, attending public school for the first time, she’s afraid her life is over. Then, she meets Beverly Jo Nichols, her first black friend, and Crackers, a fearless tomboy. Despite opposition from Hattie’s mother and a racist teacher, the unlikely friends join forces. As the self-proclaimed Dream Girls, they challenge bigotry and intolerance, willing to do whatever it takes to hold onto what’s most precious to them all, their friendship.

 The Buzz

"Between the Lines is a powerful piece of historical fiction that must be added to the reading list of every middle grade student."~ 5 Stars, Lori L., Goodreads
"Teachers and parents need to purchase this novel... Parents could use this novel to engage their kids in discussions to help develop a sense of social responsibility, friendship, and morality... Ultimately, this story is inspirational." ~ 5 Stars, Amazon Customer
"This book is a must read for everyone, no matter what age ... I would recommend it highly to be in the curriculum of every 5th and 6th grade classroom. " ~ 5 Stars, Sandra W., Amazon
"My daughter and I read this book together and loved it. It is a story that will stay with both of us for many years to come!" ~ 5 Stars, aleblanc, Amazon
"Between the Lines tells a really heartbreaking but uplifting story, about race and loyalty and friends, in a way that any kid will relate to. A perfect gift book for that hard-to-please youngster!" ~ 5 Stars, Jimmy, Amazon

 An Interview


Claudia Whitsitt

It's so good to have Claudia here on DDE today! Read below for an interview with the author of Between the Lines.

1. Why did you decide to write Between the Lines?

In my final years of teaching, I was writing mystery/suspense for adults. My students begged me to write a book they could read, and I made them a promise that once I retired from teaching I would. Once I retired, I mulled over ideas for a few months before settling in to tell the story of the Dream Girls, historical fiction based on the Civil Rights movement of the late 60s, focusing on universal themes of friendship, tolerance, and acceptance. Sadly, these are topics that we are still addressing today.

It’s my hope to inspire readers to recognize the wisdom in kindness. While we can feel small and ineffectual in creating a climate of change, simple acts of kindness renew sad and troubled spirits. I encourage all of my readers to recognize the confidence, belonging, and pride they can impart with a compliment, a helping hand, or a listening ear. 

I created wristbands with the #friendshipiscolorblind motto for my readers to remind them of my mission. Hopefully, they will take away the symbolism from Between the Lines and this slogan and understand that we should practice the Golden Rule, “treat others as you want to be treated.”

2. What advice would you give someone aspiring to write a children’s book?

Knowing and understanding children is essential to writing a children’s book. The issues kids face today are very different from many issues that adults faced as children, yet there are issues that span the ages—acceptance, confidence, fearlessness, and friendship, to name a few. Like any author, we must immerse ourselves in Children’s Literature before we write, and use an engaging, humorous voice in spite of a more serious message we hope to impart.

3. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

I was on my teaching prep when I received an email announcing my first book deal. I yelped, jumped like a pogo stick for a full five minutes, and drew my teaching partners into my office. From there, I called and emailed everyone who had been involved in the project from the start. My husband and I celebrated by going out to dinner that evening at one of our favorite spots. Sleep didn’t come easy for several nights. The excitement stayed with me for weeks!

4. Can you tell us about the challenges you have faced in marketing your books? 

What works? What’s a bust?

Marketing has always proved a challenge and complicated balancing act. In the beginning, I easily became discouraged when I followed sales numbers in ebook stores, so I avoid the inclination to check sales. I’ve also learned that authors don’t sell books on Twitter or Facebook. For me, personal relationships are more important than sales. Connecting with my readers and talking about books and writing is what inspires me. The sales will come as long as I continue to write compelling books. I make as many personal appearances as possible, so I can meet my readers.

5. What are some of your favourite books from when you were a child and did 
any of these inspire you when writing your books?

I grew up with a steady diet of Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew books. They were my absolute favorites for years. Character driven stories were my best friends and certainly influenced my early writing, even though I was penning adult mysteries. As a teenager, I became obsessed with classics like Catcher in the Rye, The Scarlett Letter, The Diary of a Young Girl, and Little Women, to name a few. More than one particular book, reading everything I could get my hands on inspired me to write. I wanted to create the feeling of living in someone else’s world, just as my favorite authors had done for me.

6. What books are you reading right now?

I’m currently reading Even in Darkness, a debut novel by Barbara Stark-Nemon. It is a harrowing story of survival which has kept me awake many nights. 

7.  What do you do when you are not writing or reading?

Nature is my muse, so I spend as much time as I can outdoors. I love downhill skiing in the winter, power-walking all year long, working in the yard, and swimming laps as the weather allows. 

8.  What is a typical day in your life?

No day seems typical lately, but when I’m only writing and not visiting schools and handling the business end of things, I have many perfect writing days. I love waking up early and diving into my character’s lives with a hot cup of coffee. Starting early in the day is one of my greatest pleasures, spending the entire day at the computer without interruptions—just my characters and me. 

9.  If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you? 

I’d have to have my laptop—I couldn’t survive without my writing tools, then coffee and chocolate. Sounds like a perfect life, doesn’t it?

10.  If you could choose only one time period (i.e., past, present, or future) and place to live, when and where would you live and why? 

For me, life is not about a specific time period, but I would choose to live in California if given my choice. I love squishing my toes in the sand, listening to the waves hit the beach and feeling the sun on my face. I’m always happiest when I’m outside. 

Thank you for the opportunity to meet you!

 About the author

Claudia Whitsitt spent a lifetime teaching special education and writing before becoming a full-time author. She believes in the power of friendship, small acts of kindness, and paying it forward. Nothing makes her happier than spending time with her children, which includes not only the five she raised but the countless students who touched her life over the years.

"Between the Lines"
Blog Tour Schedule (2015)

May 18
May 19
May 20
May 21
May 22
May 23
May 24
May 25
May 26
May 27
May 28
May 29
May 30
May 31


Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice
Contest closes: June 7, 11:59 pm, 2015
Open to: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by Claudia Whitsitt and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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