Operation Frog Effect by Sarah Scheerger
1- Have you ever shared your journal with a group of people?
Ummm. No. My journal would be way too private and I would be way too shy. In fact… I wrote my first two books under a pen name (my first and middle) because I was too shy to tell my friends and family that I wrote a book! Isn’t that ridiculous? And then I wound up telling them anyway, and I had to laugh at myself for not just telling them right from the start!
Interestingly, my cousin and her two best friends do share a journal. They have three going at once and swap weekly. I think that's amazing.
2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Seek feedback from others but keep your vision in mind as you revise.
3- What ignited your passion for writing?
I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember. For my day job, I’m a school-based counselor, and I often talk to my students about coping skills. Honestly, writing has been a coping skill for me at various times in my life. I gravitated toward writing during times in my life that were more challenging. I began writing more seriously after a loss in my life—and also when I began reading children’s books to my own kids.
4- Your website shows your "real" debut book... The Bisnots. Have others shared such treasures with you, or do you hope they will?
Yes! I have seen such treasures from students. I encourage everyone to write/write/write… just get the creative juices flowing. That’s how it all starts.
5- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
My twitter handle is @sarahscheerger , and a huge shout out to @Jarrett_Lerner @HillaryHomzie @Author_Cisneros @apalessandri @ginamarieperry !
6- Would you share some pages of your book with us?
Interior illustrations credit to Gina Perry.
7- You already wrote for young readers and teens. What motivated you to debut with Middle-Grade readers?
In my writing process, my inspiration comes from the story idea itself, not from the target audience. . . so when I get an idea my next step is to think about what format would be most ideal to tell that story. In this case, my motivation was my memory of my 4th-grade teacher. As I pulled together images and memories, I realized the best way to tell his story was through the eyes/voice of middle-grade characters. PLUS I just love how 4th/5th-grade teachers use literature to spark classroom discussions.
8- What most motivates you to read a new book?
Time. There are SO many amazing books I want to read, so my wish list of books is long (and my time is limited). I’d love to read pretty much all newly released fiction in the kidlit category. Sadly, I don’t get to read as many as I’d like. But if I have a chunk of time that’s a motivator. I do find myself gravitating to realistic fiction (probably because that’s what I like to write.) Cover and title are huge pulls too. I think coming up with the perfect title is SO hard! I’m impressed when a title grabs me in right away.
9- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
There are too many to choose from!!!!! But if I had to pick one…
Author name: @RJPalacio
Love because: I love this book because of the transformative impact it has had on classrooms across the country. When I walk into 4th, 5th and 6th-grade classrooms, I see images and messages from this book. It has inspired tolerance, awareness, empathy, perspective-taking, and kindness… plus of course, there’s beautiful writing, engaging characters, and believable plot. (Am I gushing?)
10- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
Hmmm. You mean besides my kids? (Just kidding) I have to say that the twitter love that has most inspired me has been from my colleague Ernesto Cisneros @Author_Cisneros He’s a teacher and an author as well—his debut Efrén-Divided releases in 2020. He’s said the kindest things about my story. I think because he’s a teacher who works with students close in age to those in my story, he sees the potential classroom application here. I went back through some of my tweets from him and here’s one from February 10th that really touched me. He wrote, “2019 is bringing many highly anticipated books, but none more so than this one. A perfect blend of heart, humor, social-awareness, AND entertainment.” I cannot wait to read Ernesto’s debut when it releases!
11- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?
I want my readers to feel empathy, compassion, and empowerment. In my opinion, kids don’t get credit for how amazing they are. They’re insightful, compassionate, innovative, and they will be the adults of tomorrow. I want them to know they can make a difference today! (Just take a peek at the news and you’ll see that happening already. I am so inspired by our children.)
In terms of scenes—I hope they’re empowered by the scene at the School Board meeting. I hope they’re angered by the scene in which Kayley calls Blake a mean name. I hope they’re saddened by the scene when Blake is evicted. And most of all, I hope they can feel with Cecilia as she copes with the fear that mother could be deported. There are so many children living in our country today whose parents are at risk of deportation. I hope readers feel empathy throughout.
12- What is your favorite kind of candy?
I do love candy. Most candy, to be truthful. I particularly like those hard See's lollipops (Butterscotch or Cafe Latte). I also love anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter.
13- How do you hope your book will help readers in their life?
I hope that readers will feel connected and feel empathy for the characters. I hope they’ll see evidence of how (in the same situation) different people can have very different experiences. I hope they hold onto a few special ideas. The following are examples:
- You get to choose the kind of person you want to be.
- Every voice matters.
- The “frog effect”—the idea that every action can create ripples in the world (positive or negative). This wording is based on the more well-known concept of the butterfly effect.
14- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?
I love Kermit’s smile on the cover. Don’t you just want to hug him?
15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
Love this question! I wanted the characters in Operation Frog Effect to represent the beautiful and diverse faces I see every day in California classrooms. For that reason, my characters are all diverse. Here’s the range of diverse backgrounds/qualities you’ll see in my characters: Latina, Taiwanese, African American, Caucasian, different learning styles (learning disability), Jewish, financial instability, parental depression, and adoption. I had many authenticity readers (at least fifteen) for this project, to help me make sure that I was representing each character authentically. My editor was so helpful and careful—we wanted to ensure we were doing our best to accurately represent everyone.
16- Who is your favorite book review blogger?
I like many, and I’m so grateful for all the bloggers putting energy into spreading the book love around…. Including Mr. Schu http://mrschureads.blogspot.com/ and https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/
17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
While the traditional publishing route is full of rejections and much waiting time, it’s the route for me. I try to be (mostly) at peace with the idea that not every manuscript of mine will sell. I try to be patient with the time it takes to sell a book. I don’t feel that I have the expertise or marketing skills necessary for successful self-publishing, and I do love the editorial support from a traditional company. I really appreciate the editorial guidance and vision. (The traditional route can be discouraging for sure, but often well worth the wait!)
18- Why do you think readers should write book reviews?
Reviews help spread the word about books, as do “shout outs” and shares on social media. There are so many books published every year, and each book is vying for attention. If you like a book, write a review or share some social media love to help spread the word.
19- Do you have one question or discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?
Do you remember that special teacher from your childhood? The one who noticed you? Or made you feel like what you had to say mattered? Okay… now that you’re picturing that special teacher, what would you like to say to him/her if you could reach out to the teacher today?
20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
Check out Operation Frog Effect’s section in Random House’s “School Stories Educator Guide”. (This may be helpful to the teachers out there.)
Click on this link to listen to an excerpt from the 9 actors cast as characters in the audiobook:
Sarah Scheerger is a clinical social worker with “at-promise” youth, helping them figure out who they are and who they want to be. She writes picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. Sarah loves reading, watching movies, dancing around the house in socks and pajamas, as well as spending time with her family and friends. OPERATION FROG EFFECT is her middle-grade debut.
Click on this link to read an excerpt:
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Operation Frog Effect by Sarah Scheerger