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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Meet Guest Author, Kathy Rygg

Today I am very pleased to introduce you all to Kathy Rygg, author of Animal Andy, who is here to talk about her latest middle grade book from MuseItUp Publishing. I am thrilled to highlight authors from MuseItUp, since this is my publisher as well!

Let's find out a little more about Kathy.

Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.

I have a degree in magazine journalism and have worked for a number of publications as well as several Fortune 500 companies in marketing and public relations. I’ve always written in some form, but it wasn’t until after I had kids that I tried writing for children, and I was instantly hooked! I have a real comfort zone with the younger middle grade voice (probably because I’m around it all the time with my own kids). And there’s nothing better than going on a school visit and hearing a room full of children tell you how much they love your book! 

What is one of your favorite books and why?

Growing up, one of my favorite book series was The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I loved the creativity of little people living in the walls who borrowed household objects. To this day, whenever I misplace an item, I always say, “The Borrowers must have taken it!”

Barbara: My favorite book was Alice in Wonderland, so the first story I wrote was a fantasy story. I have since turned to realistic. Though I haven't read The Borrowers, I have seen the cartoon and the idea is very cute. In our house we used to say "Mr. Nobody took it.":)

I also loved the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald. In fact, my children’s chapter book, Tall Tales with Mr. K is my modern-day version of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I love the premise of an eccentric, magical mentor who helps children with common problems using fun, quirky, “adventurous” methods.

How would you describe your writing process?

I’m a planner at heart and highly organized. I always outline each chapter before I start writing so I have a big picture view. Of course it always changes along the way, which is the fun part. I also love the revision process. There’s nothing better than taking something you think is good and making it better, and better, and better.

What inspired you to write ANIMAL ANDY?

My kids were enthralled with The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborn, and I wanted to write a magical realism story that could transport kids to another world—the world of animals! Our city’s zoo has a beautiful menagerie carousel, and it was during a zoo outing with my kids that I decided a carousel would be the perfect device—each time Andy rides the carousel at the zoo, he turns into whichever animal he was riding at the time. I interviewed zoo keepers to get behind-the-scenes information, learn about animal behavior, and discover some pretty funny things that animals do.

What has been your most successful marketing tool?

Working with other authors is invaluable. To appear on one another’s blogs, tweet about each other’s books, and have a support group you can turn to for questions, ideas, etc. makes all the difference in this market. Books only sell through word of mouth, and the more mouths you have helping you, the better!

Barbara: I agree! The friendships I have made with other bloggers and with the writing community in general have been invaluable. I also find that meeting people and telling them about your book while giving them a card with all the information helps a great deal. I carry my cards around with me all the time!! I also give out book marks. People love those and it gets your book in front of them even if they are reading something else.

What advice would you give to other authors?

The best advice I have is the advice I once received from a well-known author—read as many books as you can in your genre. You should devote just as much time each day to reading as you do to writing. If there’s a book you really enjoy, identify why that is—is it the writing style? The voice? The characters? Then try to apply it in your own work. I also believe practice makes perfect—writers get a little better each time, so don’t ever stop! 

Please tell us a little about your book.

Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors that the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy’s dad is hopeful it will help boost attendance. Andy’s doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn’t see what’s so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he unlocks the magic that will help save the zoo.

Barbara: This sounds like the kind of story that would definitely hook a middle grade reader. 

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

Andy’s knees wobbled and buckled as he stumbled off the carousel’s platform. He thrust forward, collapsing into a heap on the ground. Shaking his head a few times, he flinched when a snort escaped his mouth. 
A flash of turquoise caught his eye. He scrambled up as a skinny-necked bird with short legs and a long, plump body strutted over. It stopped a few inches away and let out an ear-splitting squawk. Only a peacock could make that sound.
“What are you doing over here?” the bird asked. “Are you out of your mind? Don’t you know this is the kind of thing that gets all of us into trouble?” 
Andy froze. He was sure the peacock had just spoken to him.
“Well, don’t just sit there, zebra, we need to get you back to the pen,” the bird snapped.
Andy whipped his head from side to side. Nobody was around, and he didn’t see a zebra.
“Did you just talk?” 
"Don't get all high and mighty on me," the peacock said. "It's socially acceptable for a peacock to speak to a zebra."
"Why do you keep calling me a zebra?" Andy narrowed his eyes at the bird.
“Well, I don’t see any other escaped animal standing in front of me,” the peacock said. Andy lowered his gaze and saw four black and white striped legs beneath him. He craned his neck and saw a thin, black tail swishing behind him. Puzzled, he glanced at the carousel and saw an empty brass pole where the zebra had been.
He stumbled backward. "No, no, no,” he said, shaking his head. "How…it can’t be,” he breathed.

 “There’s just no way. I…I…I’m a zebra!”

Barbara: I'm loving this excerpt and now have another book to put on my TBR list. It's bulging from all the great books I have found to read!!! I know a lot of kids who would love this book!!! The dynamics of becoming an animal and having to live in an animal world are very intriguing!! Good luck with it.

Author Bio:

Kathy Sattem Rygg is Editor-in-Chief for the children’s online magazine Knowonder!, and an active member of SCBWI. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Iowa State University and has worked for the McGraw-Hill Companies’ business publications division in New York City. She was also the editor in chief of Women’s Edition magazine in Denver, CO. She currently lives in Omaha, NE, with her husband and two children. 

Where can readers find you and your book?

ANIMAL ANDY is available as an ebook from Muse It Up Publishing and the print version is available on Amazon.

View the ANIMAL ANDY book trailer!

You can follow me online at: 
Facebook: KSR Writer
Twitter: @kathyrygg
Goodreads: Kathy Sattem Rygg

Now here's a surprise! Anyone who leaves a comment will have a chance to win a free copy of Animal Andy!! 

Until the next time my next guest author will be Katie Carroll another Muse author. 

I also want to let you know that a good friend of mine, Donna Marie Merritt is going to be reading her poetry in Mystic, CT on September 10th at the RiverWalk Restaurant from 7:00PM to 9:00PM. Anyone who is close to here come on over!! I'll be there with my daughter. Listening to Donna read her poetry is a real treat and there will be music as well. For more information go to: Poetry and Music on Facebook.


  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Barbara! What a pleasure! Kathy Rygg

  2. Kathy, the pleasure is all mine! I can't wait to see who is the lucky winner of your book!!!

  3. Fun excerpt! Can't wait for my turns on both of your blogs!

  4. Looking forward to it, Katie!! Glad you like the post.:)

  5. Congratulations! I loved merry-go-rounds when I was a kid.

  6. The book cover is a real eye-catcher. What fun story! Best wishes.


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