Friday, September 27, 2013

Mayhem's Season Premier: Three New Stars!!!


Welcome to Project Mayhem's new season of Writing with the Stars... well, we can but dream of being beamed into every living room in America in our spangly gowns and sparkling tuxedos. (And get a look at Hilary's tap shoes!)

Seriously, it does seem like a new season on the blog. This summer, we said farewell to three magnificent Mayhemers--Lee Wardlaw, Mike Winchell, and Tracy Edward Wymer ("The Three Double Yous")--as they moved on to pursue other avenues of Mayhem in their lives. Then, in kind of our own papal conclave, we sent up some white smoke and were blessed by three great new writers who said YES! to the Mayhem. So, without further ado, let me introduce our newest members:

Joy McCullough-Carranza – Joy grew up in San Diego (where she was a total bookworm), went to college in Chicago (where she studied theater and became a playwright), and lived in Guatemala for a year (where she met her husband). Now she makes her home in Seattle with two book-obsessed kids and an equally book-obsessed husband. A walk through their home includes the ever-present danger of a falling stack of books. Between homeschooling her children, freelance writing and editing, answering someone else’s fan mail, and writing her own middle grade fiction, Joy is excited to make room for Project Mayhem in her life.


Braden Bell - was the least-stable, lowest-achieving middle school student in the history of civilization. He shocked every former teacher by eventually earning both a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in theatre.  A middle school teacher by day and a father by night, he is around middle-grade mayhem 24/7. He teaches choir and directs plays, but whether he fights evil on evenings and weekends is something he cannot disclose. Braden lives with his wife and children on a quiet, tree-lined lot outside of Nashville, TN. He is the author of THE KINDLING, PENUMBRAS, and the forthcoming LUMINESCENCE.



Joe McGee - Joe was raised by wolves. Llama riding, Irish wolves who roamed the countryside, selling stories for cheese and Sour Patch Kids. At the age of 12, he began to write these stories down, filling spiral-bound notebooks. He has not stopped. He has ink in his blood and words in his heart. He is 17 feet tall and can swallow fire and can play six ukuleles at once and may have been a pirate in another life... Wait. None of that’s true? Well….what about the spiral-bound notebooks filled with stories? Yes, that part IS true.
He LOVES quirky, dark, strange fiction. (Tips hat to Roald Dahl.) He enjoys witty banter. Cemeteries, shadows, and tentacles make him warm and fuzzy. Joe has his Master’s Degree in writing and is very close to finishing his MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at The Vermont College of Fine Arts (July 2014). He is represented by Linda Epstein of the Jennifer DeChiara agency. Joe writes picture books, young adult, and middle-grade (HUZZAH!)           
Website  Twitter 

I sat down (virtually) with the new recruits to chew the fat. Of course, since we're all writers, our first ruminations were about books.

Me: So guys, any thoughts about books you'd like to share? Favorite books as a child? Favorite lines? Books you'd love to read again for the first time?

Joy: I'd love the chance to re-experience the Harry Potter series - as a kid. (But watching my daughter discover them has been the next best thing.)

Me: Oh, me too. I've actually read the series aloud twice to my older two kids. Now I'm waiting for my first grader to show interest. But he wants to be Indiana Jones, not a schoolboy wizard.

Braden: My favorite book when I was younger was actually a whole series of books about pig named Freddy who solved mysteries. There were at least a dozen, I think. I still remember some of the names and characters because they seemed so vivid to me at the time.

Me: Whoa, never heard of that! (Quick web search) Hey, I've found it: Freddy the Detective, by Walter R. Brooks. Cool. I'll be on the lookout for those!

Joe: I've got a favorite line to share. Actually, I want to give you two. Can I do that? Can I lead off with some mayhem? ;) 

1. "Not all those who wander are lost." J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.
2. "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

Me: Speaking of breakfast, I'm a bit peckish myself at this time in the morning. What's your favorite breakfast, Joe?

Joe: COFFEE.

Me: Yeah, I gather you're a bit of a night owl. How about you, Joy?

Joy: Hmm ... I love breakfast foods, both sweet and savory. I think I'll go for some super fluffy chocolate chip pancakes drowning in whipped cream. I wouldn't turn down some fresh-squeezed orange juice. No coffee, though. Because blech.

Me: Ooh, them's fighting words! But we all get along on Project Mayhem, even if we can create a bit of a stir. Braden, you got anything to add?

Braden: I have to leave the house at 6:25 to get the kids to school so I don't eat breakfast--that is a few extra minutes of sleep right there. So I have spoonful of peanut butter usually and then way too much Dr. Pepper. 

Me: Wow! I'm not letting my kids know that's an option. They'd be all over it! Well, now that we've got the breakfast issue out of the way, how's about having a little fantasy. Anyone want to share a dream vacation?

Joe: Riding llamas (or zebras) across New Zealand, stopping only to serenade the locals with ukeleles, and fireside stories.

Me: Okay, I'm expecting a new llama/zebra-with-ukelele novel from you any time soon. Joy and Braden?

Joy: I've never been to Europe, and if I have to narrow it down, I think I'd say Italy. But ideally, I'd love to do the whole shebang. Not with backpacks and youth hostels, though. Europe on a luxurious budget - now there's a dream!

Braden: I spend so much time gone and away from my home that when I am daydreaming about vacations, I tend to daydream about not having to go anywhere. Being able to putter in my yard, read, and watch some old movies is my dream vacation. Oh--and lots of lemonade and even more Mexican food. 


Me: Yup, let's hear it for staycations. And Mexican food!!

Thanks, guys. This has been quite a fiesta. You're all so great! I'm really looking forward to working with you at Project Mayhem. 

World, have your say, and welcome Braden, Joe, and Joy to the Mayhem!

42 comments:

  1. Welcome, writers! I hope that no one pulls any ligaments this year, as Bill Nye did. Looking forward to your posts.

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    1. Yes, no pulled ligaments, please! But these three are in great shape, so I doubt that'll happen.

      Thanks for the support, Karen!

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    2. Shoot, Michael, was being in great shape a requirement to join PMGM? We might need to talk...there's a reason my photo has me mostly hidden behind balloons. Hello Ms. Yingling! I hope your school year is going well and that you had a good summer.

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    3. We're all in great Mind Shape, Braden. At least I think I am...

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    4. Thank you, Ms. Yingling! I've been spending a lot of time on my treadmill desk in preparation for my Mayhem duties.

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    1. Thanks for your support, Rhonda! And you hit the SUPER FAB nail on the head.

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    2. Coming from one SUPER FAB gal herself!

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  3. Wait. Wolves that RIDE Llamas? I so want one. These peeps all seem really awesome! I look forward to getting to know them. Also, having grown up in a house where my dad was the stage manager of the Seattle Opera, and my mom was a TV actress, it's really cool to see some theater people in the house!

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    1. Agreed! (And I have got to read your autobiography some day, Matt.)

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    2. Ooh, I can't decide whether a stage manager for a parent would be ideal or a nightmare. I'm leaning toward ideal. So organized and unfazed by disaster!

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    3. Well, he was hardly ever home, but when he was, there was a lot of great music. But I did get to play a small part in La Boheme, and Wagner's Sigfried as a boy. That was pretty cool.

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    4. Matt, you should see family reunions!

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    5. Matthew, I love it that your parents were in theatre! That is really cool. You must have had a very rich childhood.

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  4. Howdy to all the new writers, looking forward to reading your posts.

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    1. Brenda, thanks for stopping by today and supporting the Mayhem. We're grateful for all our friends.

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    2. Thank you, Brenda! Howdy to you too.

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  5. Hip-Hip-Hooray! Hip-Hip-Hooray! *waves pom poms and happy dances*

    So, so excited to have you all here--truly. :)

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    1. Pom pom waving, balloons, dancing--it's a real party over here!

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    2. Ha ha. You know I <3 ya, Braden! :)

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  6. Yay!!! So happy to have new Mayhemers!! Welcome, guys! We have such a great lineup of diverse middle-grade writers!

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    1. Thank, Hilary. I'm so excited to be here.

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  7. Welcome new Mayhemers!!! :-) :-)

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  8. Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone! I'm super thrilled to be a part of the team.

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  9. Great interview, guys! Glad you all are joining us!

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  10. Big thanks for the welcome, excitement, and enthusiasm! Glad to be a part of the Mayhem!

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  11. Big thanks for the welcome, excitement, and enthusiasm! Glad to be a part of the Mayhem!

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  12. Yay to all of these fantastic writers~ I'm anticipating much wisdom and hilarity in their posts! :)

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    1. I agree, Jessica. Thanks for your support of the Mayhem!

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    2. Wait! What? We're supposed to bring wisdom....uh-oh. ;]

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  13. Wow! THREE new MG Mayhemmers! Should make for lots of riotous tumult, er, mayhem! Welcome, all. Looking forward to reading your posts.

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  14. Joe, I'm a huge cemetery fan, too (...does that sound weird?). In fact, when I first read this post, I'd just returned from scouting one out!

    Welcome all!

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    1. Not weird at all...wait, why are people moving AWAY from us? You know, cemeteries are a great source of unique names...

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    2. Ramoncita was my favorite Friday find.

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  15. Joy, Joe, and Braden- I think your breakfast choices reveal quite a lot! Joe prefers, well, joe while Joy gets great pleasure in delicious treats. And Braden heads off to the theatre with a mouth full of peanut butter. Thank you for sharing! And WELCOME ALL- we are so glad you are here.

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!