Today I am excited to introduce you to Stephanie and Jess. They are the authors and brilliant minds behind the book and blog of the same name, The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. I love visiting their fun little blog. It is geared toward middle grade readers. Every week they have a theme that kicks off on Monday with a fun little riddle. On Tuesday the answer is revealed and then the topics for the rest of the week usually refer back to this riddle. They review mostly middle grade books and occasionally books for younger readers. I am always popping over there finding book ideas for my little ones. If you have a young reader in your house, you must check out this blog. It is so much fun! l love it! I have Jess and Stephanie here to answer a few interview questions. After that I have included a fun how to project perfect for the little glamour girl and glimmer goddess in all of us grownups. The book features a pair of glittery red, ruby encrusted high heel sneakers. Awesome, right? I totally want a pair. So I did the next best thing, I found a way to make your own. You can read the how to directions following the interview. Make sure you enter the giveaway as well. Now here are Jess and Stephanie (Steph is on the left, Jess the right) to answer a few questions:
How did you start your writing career?
Jessica: I have always loved stories, for as long as I can remember. I would say after I got over the devastation that I was probably not going to be an astronaut (terrible at math) becoming a writer was the only other thing there was for me to be.
I started looking for a literary agent for my children’s story, Ruby Begonia and the High-Heeled Sneakers about five years ago. Since the story has transformed into the middle grade book, The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow, the pursuit has become much more involved.
Stephanie: Since I was a little girl I have loved reading and creating stories. When I was younger I thought I would be a teacher during the year and spend the summer writing books (yes, that is plural). I obviously didn’t understand how much time teaching and writing would actually take. Ever since Jessica asked me to co-author The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow with her I have been actively pursuing my dreams of being a writer.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?
Jessica: I learned a lot about myself and about discipline in writing. I am sort of a free-form writer, and it is absolutely essential to keep everything in tune and orderly to progress. Stephanie is the master of organization, so I am very lucky to have her as my co-author. Most of the time, instructions and lists sound to me like the adults in Charlie Brown, whoh, whoh, whoh. However, after working on this with my awesome writing partner, I embrace the list : )
Stephanie: I have been surprised by the amount of time Jessica and I spend discussing Fairday and her friends and coming up with ideas. Most of our conversations now center around our writing and blog. I never knew how much fun it would be to write a book with someone else who shares my same vision and makes work fun. Also, I have been pleasantly surprised to find support for my book in places I never expected. Thanks to all of our supporters.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Jessica: Morpheus & Death from the Sandman series. Neil Gaiman twists his stories and characters into the fabric of myth and folklore, bringing them to life in a new way. I think that The Sandman is wonderfully original.
Stephanie: Harry Potter. I loved seeing the magical world through his voice. I had a connection to his story, and felt like I was right there with him every step of the way.
What is the inspiration behind the red sparkly jewel encrusted shoes?
Jess: My grandfather, actually. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house in Ridgefield, CT. It was somewhat of a spooky place, and there were times when it sounded like someone was walking around upstairs, when everybody in the house was clearly downstairs. My grandfather told me that it was Ruby Begonia in her high-heeled sneakers. Instead of being scared of a ghost, my curiosity was ignited and I went on the hunt to seek out this mysterious woman sneaking around from room to room in a crazy pair of sneakers. My imagination filled in the gaps, decorating the sneakers with rubies and diamonds, coloring them bright red, and then giving them extraordinary powers. Stephanie and I had a blast working out all the ins and outs to these magnificent sneakers as we worked on the book together.
Were you interested in solving mysteries as a kid? If so what items did you have in your detective kit?
Jess: I did enjoy solving mysteries. However, there always had to be something magical involved- a somewhat illogical aspect to the situation that could add to the adventure. I always carried a compass. Actually, I still do.
Stephanie: I loved solving mysteries when I was a kid. I devoured Nancy Drew books and wanted so much to have a mystery of my own. I always kept a notepad with me to jot down clues. Binoculars were a favorite of mine, and I used them every chance I got. Most of the mysteries I solved were imaginary- but they were still quite exciting.
I love the phrase: "Fear Not the Unexpected" how did you come up with it?
Jess & Stephanie: The phrase found its way into the story because we both try to live our lives keeping that notion in mind : )
What would you do if you came face to face with a real ghost?
Jess: I have been waiting for that to happen for as long as I can remember, peering into the windows of old, abandoned houses and carefully watching around the corners in historical buildings- lol! It still hasn’t happened though, and I have absolutely no clue how I would react. I always tell myself that I would be slick about it, but most likely it would be more like me yelling hysterically,“Look, everyone, there’s a ghost!” : )
Stephanie: Hmmm... I like to think I would remain pretty calm. I would jump at first, but then I would try to rationalize the situation. I know I would try to talk to the ghost so I could find out what was going on. I guess part of my reaction would depend on what the ghost was doing when I encountered it. I would prefer a happy ghost that was dancing a jig or gliding along peacefully.
How do you think you would have reacted if your parents told you that you were moving into an eccentric, run down possibly haunted house when you were ten?
Stephanie: I would have been sad and annoyed at leaving my friends. The prospect of living in a cool house with secrets and hidden passages would have helped win me over. I was always fascinated by houses with a lot of character and hoped to find hidden staircases, dumbwaiters, and all types of mysterious surprises. Without out a doubt I would have explored the house from top to bottom!
Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Stephanie: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Favorite summer food?
Stephanie: Fresh fruit and vegetables- especially from a farmer’s market.
Stephanie: Swimming or reading
Jess: A private lake house in Vermont
Stephanie: I love Nantucket and the relaxed atmosphere there or a driving trip cross country (I still have four states left to see).
What is the perfect summer temperature for you?
Stephanie: 83- with low humidity
Favorite summer read?
Jess: Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Stephanie: I read the Harry Potter series over again every summer.
Jess: Flip Flops
Thank you so much ladies! Now as I mentioned I am in love with the red, sparkly sneakers and I thought I would share with you how to make your own:
Tools and Materials
- Masking tape
- Mod Podge
- Craft stick
- Fine art paintbrushes
- Craft knife (optional)
- Gemstone embellishments
- E-6000 multipurpose adhesive
- Metallic silver Sharpie marker
Glittered Sneakers How-To
- With masking tape, mask edges of each shoe, being sure to cover the rubber soles as well as the toe area.
- To create glitter mixture, add one part glitter to two parts mod podge and mix thoroughly with a craft stick.
- With a fine art brush, paint a layer of glitter mixture onto each shoe and let dry 10-15 minutes.
- Paint on additional coats of glitter mixture until each shoe is completely covered and no white space is showing. Let dry completely.
- Once dry, remove all tape and use a craft knife or the edge of your fingernail to scrape dried glitter from grommets and soles.
- Use E-6000 adhesive to adhere gemstone embellishments to toe area.
- To finish shoes, use a metallic silver Sharpie marker to color in the grommets and then lace them up.
Coarse glitter in Rose Quartz and Florentine Gold and Basic Brush Set available from Martha Stewart Crafts; mod podge available from Plaid or most crafts-supply stores; gemstone embellishments available from M&J Trimming; E-6000 multipurpose adhesive available from most crafts-supply and hardware stores; plain canvas sneakers available from Vans.
You can make these any color you want. Martha Stewart glitter is definitely the best. For crystals a great resouce I have found is The Rhinestone Shop, they have fantastic prices and free shipping in the U.S. I would highly recommend before you put on your crystals spraying your shoes with a polyurethane coating to protect the glitter and prevent it from rubbing off. You can find it at the craft store, usually sold in aerosol cans.
See full article on Martha Stewart.com
My review of The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow
Fairday Morrow is less than happy about moving to the quiet, country town of Ashpot, not to mention, utterly cheerless at the prospect of living in the crumbling, creepy old manor known as Begonia House.Nevertheless, that's exactly where she's headed.Strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where and ancient mirror, a brass key, and a strange picture of a red-haired lady are the first in a series of clues that will take Fairday and her friends in the Detective Mystery Squad, more commonly known as the DMS, on an amazing adventure that will challenge them in ways they never thought possible.As the investigation gears up, it becomes plainly obvious to Fairday that the danger is deadly serious. With a little help, which is found in some very odd places, the twisting tale begins to unfurl. Will the DMS be able to piece together the puzzle before it's too late?
Paperback, Limited Edition, Author Illustrated Copy, 271 pages
Four Stars: An enjoyable middle grade novel with mystery, adventure and more!
Fairday stares out the car window, dreading the move. She is stuck in the car with her parents and baby sister, headed to her new home. Her mother purchased a run down mansion on Craig's list. As an interior decorator, her Mrs. Morrow is eagerly looking forward to renovating and redecorating the run down Begonia House. Fairday is already missing the city and her best friend, Lizzy. She and Lizzy are young mystery detectives. They even have their own little agency called the D.M.S. short for Detective Mystery Squad. Armed with their backpacks and detective gear, the pair is out to solve mysteries. Sadly, the duo is split up since Fairday is moving to the country. At last, the Morrows arrive at the Begonia House. It certainly is an eye sore! During the exploration of the mysterious, old house, Fairday swears she hears bagpipe music, but that couldn't be possible, right? Soon the family is settled and Fairday quickly learns that the old house is brimming with secrets, mystery and even a possible murder...This is definitely a case for the D.M.S. Can Fairday unravel the mystery behind the Begonia House and find out what happened to the missing bride?
What I Liked:
- Every once in awhile it is refreshing to read a middle grade book and let your imagination run wild. That is exactly what happened when I picked up the DMS Files. This is a book geared toward middle grade readers and it is perfect for this age range. At the heart of this book is an intriguing mystery that will keep readers young and old guessing until the final pages. There are riddles, magic and sparkly shoes and much more to entertain you along the way.
- I adored both Fairday and Lizzie. They are precocious ten years old who have a keen sense of adventure. What I admired the most with these young ladies was the way they both were able to diffuse sticky situations...meaning they stood up to bullies and mean kids and handled themselves in a classy manner. I loved this about both of them. The way they addressed the mean comments was awesome. I also appreciated that they were comfortable in their own skins.
- The secondary characters were just as fun and interesting as the protagonists. For instance, the strange curmudgeon, Mr. Lowell, while he may appear to be a grumpy old man, in reality he is a kind hearted, helpful guy with a sparkle in his eye and a spring in his step. A true case of looks can be deceiving. Lizzie's parents Mr. and Mrs. Morrow were fun as well. Her dad is always popping up with funny, notable little quotes and quirky behavior. I really enjoyed how fleshed out and entertaining all the characters are in this book.
- Finally, the main plot of the book revolves around the mysterious Begonia House and the secrets hidden within its walls and mirror for that matter. The theme of the book is "Fear Not the Unexpected" which I was particularly fond of. Indeed, Fairday and her pals find plenty of unexpected and mysterious findings, even a pair of jewel encrusted sneakers (I want some sparkly sneakers!). This book has a magical twist and a big reveal at the end. I think young readers will enjoy this mystery.
And The Not So Much:
- This is an issue that will not bother young readers at all, but for me I was a bit confused by Margo, Fairday's younger sister. She is supposedly two and a half but her behavior was more in line with a young baby more along the lines of a one year old. Again, this is not a big deal just an observance, I guess I am more in tune since my little boy is almost two and his behavior is far beyond Margo's.
- At the end of the book I had a couple of lingering questions....Who enchanted the willow and why? What was the deal with all the ghostly figures, were they shadows of the past or something more?
The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow was a nice change from my normal reading fare. It was nice to pick up a book for a younger audience and be swept away with a fun and imaginative story. A nice break from love triangles, emotional upheaval and cliffhangers. This is an enjoyably and engaging read that is sure to entertain readers of all ages. Hey, it even has pictures! I am looking forward to reading the next installment of the DMS Files to see what new mysteries are in store for the junior detectives.
“Fairday knew most of the time, the really mean kids were just insecure, and if you didn’t let them get to you, they usually left you alone.”
“Bullies were only triumphant when they made other people feel smaller than they, themselves actually felt.”
“She always said that her daughters eyes reminded her fondly of the wicked, though hauntingly beautiful weather that was sometimes kicked up onto the sandy shores of the small island.”
“Fairday and Lizzy both shared the belief that, as long as you are true to yourself, and happy with who you were, no one could hurt you with their words.”
“Remember, young lady, you have to think beyond what you know to be real, you have to see with your mind, as well as your eyes.”
“Fear not the Unexpected.”
A huge thanks to Stephanie and Jess for the review copy and for the guest post. The book is in limited release if you are interested in a copy please contact Steph or Jess on their blog: The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow. The two lovely ladies have allowed me to give away one copy of their book for U.S. Residents only. To enter fill out the Rafflecopter! Good Luck!
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