Interview with Julie Otzelberger the Author of The Cat that Went to Homecoming

YAPC would like to welcome Julie Otzelberger to the blog today. She will be interviewing with us and sharing some info about her book The Cat that Went to Homecoming. If this looks like something you would enjoy reading, please go get a copy!

YAPC: Tell us about your new release.

Julie: The Cat That Went To Homecoming is a story about a bullied teen who learns how to overcome her bullies without stooping to their level through the help of her cat, Hershey.  Most of us can relate to the unconditional affection our pets give us and the joy they bring to our lives.  Since they bring us such joy, why not share that feeling with others who may need a little companionship?   Ellen’s volunteerism with Hershey connects her with people who need her, but also teach her valuable life lessons.

YAPC: Do you have a day job?

Julie: Yes I do, a starving artist must work to support herself!  I’m a Medical Assistant and I work for an Internal Medicine doctor in one of the biggest healthcare organizations in my state.  I’m also a registered animal handler with Pet Partners.  My cat, Bear, and I visit hospice patients in my spare time.

We also visit college students during finals to “de-stress” them.   Bear and I will be visiting a local college in mid May and let me tell you, the college girls love my cat!

YAPC: When did you decide to become a writer?

Julie: I’ve been a writer all of my life.  Let’s put it this way, when most people doodle, they draw pictures.  When I doodle. I write words.  It wasn’t until my daughter graduated from high school that I decided it was time for me to put my nose to the grindstone and write my first book.

YAPC: Who is your mentor?  Who do you look up to?

Julie: I grew up reading Judy Blume’s books.  She wrote what were considered at the time to be very controversial novels.  Her books touched on such topics as racism and weight discrimination, bullying, divorce, and even masturbation and teen sex.  Her books were realistic and generated discussions among we young adults.  It is Judy Blume who I look up to the most as an author.  Some topics are difficult to talk to your parents about.  I think that having books to read with characters you can relate to and care for can help with some of the difficult things in life.

YAPC: State a random fact about yourself that would surprise your readers.

Julie: I never went to a homecoming dance.  In hindsight, that may be a part of why my book is titled The Cat That Went To Homecoming.

YAPC: Which scenes were the hardest to write? 

Julie: Spoiler alert!  The scene where Ellen meets Janet in the rehab facility for the first time was difficult for me to get through.  The death of Janet’s cat, Lincoln, had me crying as I was writing.  I’ve been through a few very painful pet deaths in my life from the same form of cancer as Lincoln had, so to me, if felt so real and so raw.

YAPC: Why did you choose the genre you write in?

Julie: I’ve always been drawn to young adult tv series and movies.  I still watch reruns of Saved By The Bell and will sit through a marathon of Degrassi episodes!  I think that because I did not experience the kinds of good times the kids in these high school dramas do is what draws me in, I guess I live vicariously through these shows.  I write stories with characters I would have been, or wanted to be.

YAPC: How did you come up with the premise for your book?

Julie: Unfortunately, the basic story was already there for me to embellish.  My experiences during my work with my own cat just sparked a new direction for the story to go in.

YAPC: Do you have an all time favorite book?

Julie: Charlotte’s Web.   It is a story about the compassion and commitment in friendship that not only changes the lives of the two friends involved, but changes the way others around them think and feel. My 3rd grade teacher was reading this book aloud to us in class and I was thoroughly engrossed in the story.  I could not wait for the next time she’d read!  I believe she read to us once a week, so I had a week in between readings to anticipate the next direction the story would take. This all changed when Charlotte died.  I cried and sobbed and was inconsolable.  Fellow students were laughing at me, and my teacher had to stop the reading and redirect me.  It was the first book of many that made me cry.  It broke my heart.  I never got to hear the end of the book from my teacher because my family moved, so I took the book out of the library at the new school and finished it myself.

YAPC: Where is your work available?

Julie: My book is sold on Amazon.com and Lulu.com.  It was published by Fire and Ice Young Adult Books/Melange, and can be found on their website as well.  It is available in Kindle form as well as paperback.

YAPC: What are your thoughts on ebooks?

Julie: I am 47 years old and I have yet to read a book in electronic form!  I guess I’m a bit of a dinosaur.  I just love books, the feel of them in my hand, turning the pages, and skipping ahead when I don’t like the path the story is taking to make sure it will be okay.  i did; however, buy my book on Kindle when it was released, it just seemed like the right thing to do!  I still haven’t looked at it, but I have it.

YAPC: What projects are you currently working on?  Would you mind sharing them?

Julie: I am working toward starting an anti-bullying campaign and taking my cat, Bear, to visit daycares and grade schools to spread the message.  If we educate children early in life, maybe we can stop some of the would-be bullies from progressing to the point of being a full-fledged bully.  I am a realist though, and I know bullying will NEVER go away.  It is as old as time itself. I just feel compelled to do my part.  I am in the midst of writing another YA novel, and that book is going in a completely different direction.  Like I said earlier, I want to write about characters I would have liked to have been in high school.  I can’t wait until you meet my next character!

Blurb:

The Cat that went to homecomingThe Cat That Went To Homecoming is the coming of age story of Ellen Jones, an overweight teenage girl from a single family home.  She is under constant attack by her peers, bullied because of her weight and her family’s poverty.   Through volunteer work with her cat, Hershey, Ellen finds her self esteem and the courage to stand up to her bullies.  Along the way, she discovers what true friendship and forgiveness are and tells us how Hershey became The Cat That Went To Homecoming.

The Cat That Went To Homecoming addresses many serious social issues including family separation, bullying, homophobia, social isolation, and depression.  The compelling story is also about fun, friendship, and forgiveness.”   Paula Scott-Ginn, Pet Partners Marketing Coordinator

Buy the Book:

Amazon Paperback * Kindle * Lulu

About the Author: Julie Otzelberger grew up in Hartland WisconsinJulie Otzelberger and has been a Milwaukee area resident since her high school years. She is no stranger to bullying, having been bullied for most of her school years. The comments classmates made still haunted her after thirty years. In an effort to overcome her self esteem issues, Mrs. Otzelberger underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2010.

The unconditional love that pets offer can heal almost any pain. Gastric Bypass surgery changed Mrs. Otzelberger’s appearance, but it could not heal the scars of bullying. The work she does with her therapy cat, Bear, gave her the self esteem she was lacking.

Julie Otzelberger has been married to her husband for 17 years, and their daughter still lives at home while attending college to become a vet tech. They have four cats and one dog-several of her coworkers refer to her home as “Noah’s Ark”.

“Hershey is a combination of each cat God has blessed me with over the years. My life was similar to Ellen’s, but I did not find anything like Pet Partners until very recently. I hope I help a young girl finds her way to Pet Partners and follow her altruistic path with her best friend.” Julie Otzelberger

Connect with Julie:

Facebook * Goodreads * Blog

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Guest Post with D.S. Mcknight Author of Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not

YAPC would like to welcome D.S. McKnight to the blog today. She is here to share a guest post with us as well as some information about her book Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not. If this looks like something you would be interested in reading, please go pick up a copy!

Guest Post: Imagination

As a child, I suffered from a vivid imagination.  Yes, I was that kid who heard prowlers at my window and imagined monsters in the dark.  I’m sure my parents dreaded the nightly knock on their bedroom door.  Fortunately, I grew up and learned that monsters weren’t hiding under my bed — they were just hanging out in my thoughts waiting to tell their story.

Imagination is as individual as it is wonderful.  We can read the same book but how we visualize the scenes and characters are unique to each of us. Recently, someone who had read my novel Of Dreams and Shadow approached me.  She said she knew exactly how the character (bad guy) Silas looked.  She went on to describe him as looking like Robert Carlyle, the actor who portrayed Mr. Gold from Once Upon a Time.  Mr. Gold is one of my favorite characters but I never envisioned him as Silas.

The character of Silas developed over time.  When I first started writing him – I didn’t see his face but as I spent more time with him – his features came into focus: shoulder length dark hair, a face that would attract a female’s attention.  (Think Ben Barnes, the actor who portrays Prince Caspian.)  I think the fact that Silas is not only dangerous but beautiful makes him more compelling.

Silas was my favorite character to write.  He allowed me to go to the dark side.  There were no rules or moral codes to consider.  I was free to do as I pleased — well…almost.  When you “live” with a character as long as I lived with Silas, the character is bound to start talking and Silas did just that.  He introduced me to his victims and surprised me when he revealed his romantic side.  He shared his childhood and the abuse he suffered as well as the anger he carried. There were many nights he kept me awake, my mind racing with possibilities.  There were moments that I felt sorry for him but those moments didn’t last.  Ultimately, Silas couldn’t be redeemed.

It’s hard to feel sympathy for a character that has none for others.  I don’t want to give away too much but there was a scene where Silas murders someone.  I really liked the victim and I was quite upset by her death.  I walked out of the home office and said to my husband.  “I can’t believe it!  He killed her!  I never saw it coming!”  To which my husband replied, “Uh, you’re writing this…”  The thing is — if we will listen to our characters, they will tell us a tale that we never imagined!

Blurb:

Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me NotSixteen year old Jenna Barton isn’t a happy camper.  She’s had to deal with moving to a new town, transferring to a new school, leaving old friends and trying to make new ones.   It doesn’t help that her new neighbor, Chase Williams, is particularly unwelcoming.   Unfortunately, for Jenna these are the least of her problems.  She has unwittingly stepped into the middle of a mystery involving a missing child.  The predator is still on the loose and Jenna has become his new obsession.  Sarah Jones was just four years old when she disappeared and Chase was the only witness.  No one believed the ramblings of a scared little boy — especially when he said a shadow took Sarah.  Now, all he wants is for Jenna to move.  He knows what resides in her backyard — but how can he tell her?  She wouldn’t believe him anyway.

Buy Of Dreams and Shadow:

Paperback * Kindle

About the Author: D.S. McKnight has enjoyed a varied career—fromD.S, McKnight working as a radio DJ on a small AM station to serving as president and co-owner of a marina, until Hurricane Ophelia took aim at the Carolina coast.  Currently, she works at an insurance agency as well as hosting her blog – Novel Notions.

When she was a little girl, she was afraid of her shadow. Seriously afraid – running and screaming afraid.  Perhaps she’s always been a victim of an over-active imagination and maybe that explains the monsters hiding under her bed, the ghosts lurking in her closet, and the Shadow that inspired her first novel.

She is married, has three sons and makes her home in coastal North Carolina.  It is her love of the North Carolina coast that fueled her desire to write.  Of Dreams and Shadow: Forget Me Not (book 1) is her first novel.  You can contact the author at: http://www.dsmcknight.com

Connect with D.S. McKnight:

Website * Blog * Amazon Page * Facebook * YouTube * Pinterest * Twitter * Goodreads

YAPromoCentral

YA Promo Central (YAPC) is an affordable platform for authors to advertise their books. We help authors get the exposure they need through weekly blog rolls, cross promotion, author resources and Free Days. Let us expose you. Reach out. We promise to bite.

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