Hillary Homzie is with us today in celebration of a brand new chapter book series that features an irrepressible eight-year-old by the name of Ellie May. Ellie May wants to be everything: the funniest one in class, the best gecko whisperer, as presidential as George Washington, and the girl with the best April Fool’s Day joke. She takes on life at full speed, with arms flung wide, but she’ll break your heart with her bad choices and the way she tries to make them right. I have to admit, I even got a little teary toward the end of Ellie May on Presidents’ Day. But don’t despair, she got me laughing soon enough, because Ellie May is funny. Very funny. In fact, if you’re a fan of Eloise, Ramona, Pippi Longstocking, or Junie B. Jones, chances are you are going to love Ellie May.
In writing the Ellie May books, Hillary borrowed several details from her own life, to which she added a twist. In Ellie May’s family, there are three girls. In Hillary’s, there are three boys. In Ellie May’s family, the father is a writer and the mother is a lawyer. In Hillary’s, it’s the opposite way around. Ellie May’s family has a Labradoodle, and—no twist here—Hillary’s has one too.
All these borrowings got me thinking about Hillary’s writing life and wanting to know more. I already knew she had another hilarious chapter books series, Alien Clones from Outer Space, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when I discovered she wrote and performed sketch comedy Off-Broadway for a few years. Such talent! But what else? What else is at the heart of Hillary’s writing? And what got her to set Ellie May’s stories around President’s Day and April Fool’s Day? To give us some answers, Hillary joins us today from California to tell us what was on Hillary Homzie’s…
Lineup of Favorite Holidays: April Fools’ Day—because I get to play pranks on my family and it’s generally a day full of fun and mirth! Oh, and I really like Mother’s Day because I’m always completely spoiled by my husband and three sons. I’m in favor of that!
Play List: My middle son’s alt rock band on Spotify (Secure the Sun), as well as his recent solo stuff just under Ari (his profile is Arisingerr).
Agenda: I’ll just give you my agenda for today.
- Return overdue library book. (I’m so delinquent. It happens every time I love a book so much. It’s a reminder that I need to own said book.)
- Pack for writing retreat weekend in Portland, Oregon (ha—I will ignore that until it’s an hour before I need to leave for the airport).
- Mail Ellie May chapter books to winners in my Twitter Giveaway
- Take a walk
- Get dressed (yes, I love my pajamas and so I need prodding to get out of them).
- Oh, write up What Was!
- Teach my lovely class at Sonoma State University
- Grade papers
- Hopefully, do a little writing but Wednesdays are challenging in that regard. However, I’ll use my commute to daydream about my writing.
- Eat, sleep and all other regular human functions!
Commute: Last night on my commute (I teach during the academic year at Sonoma State University), I passed by a rather large disgruntled coyote, no doubt confused by the large flock of fake sheep on a nearby low hill, which are part of an exhibit at the contemporary art museum, the DiRosa Preserve. Happily, along with rows of grapevines, there are plenty of real sheep, goats and herds of cattle. However, just a little bit down the road at Mulas Dairy there is a fake cow, letting everyone know there are apparently real cows nearby.
At this point, I make sure my windows are closed; otherwise, I will smell cow and then grow hungry as I drive past a popular meal shack–Boxcar Fried Chicken and Biscuits (even through a crack in my window, I can smell their hushpuppies with remoulade and must use willpower not to stop), .
At the corner of Fremont Drive and Napa Road, I grow a little melancholy to see the charred remains of the historic Stornetta Dairy and former cheesemaking farm.
It burned down in the horrific fires we had over a year ago in Sonoma and Napa.
Then I’m always baffled by the warning about a narrow bridge (and yet I never pass a narrow bridge!). And finally, I laugh aloud when I see a sign for Green Strings. For years, I thought it was some sort of violin workshop using green products. But no, it’s an organic farm. It’s amazing how you can see what you want to see! (Especially when your sons all play violin). Oh, and finally I chuckle at the entrance to the farm. It says Lettuce Enter. 🙂
Post-its: I usually can’t find my Post-it pad so instead, I write on whatever piece of paper happens to be flung (in heaps, mind you!) on my desk. Right now, I’m looking at a page from my science fantasy middle grade work-in-progress, and scribbled in the bottom left corner (in no particular order): dyspraxia, clear as a jingle bell and Tinklepaus. All of these are edit reminders—but not for my science fantasy text—for other manuscripts that I’m working on or critiquing. This disordered way of notetaking is not recommended as it’s not efficient or particularly orderly. I’m afraid it’s the way my brain works though.
Dream Guest List: Madeleine L’Engle, Oprah Winfrey, Malala Yousafzai, Maya Angelou, Clara Lemlich, Ursula K. LeGuin.
If you would like to order the Ellie May books—after all April Fool’s Day is right around the corner—simply click on the images below.
Hillary is also the author of Apple Pie Promises, Pumpkin Spice Secrets, The Hot List, Things Are Gonna Get Ugly, Queen of Likes and the Alien Clones From Outer Space chapter book series.
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