Interview with children’s writer Tonya Ellis

Today’s
special guest author is Tonya Ellis.
We’re chatting about her new children’s middle grade book, Sophie Washington: The Snitch.

During
her virtual book tour, Tonya will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble
(winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly chosen winner. To be entered
for a chance to win, use the form below.
To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops
and enter there, too!
Bio:
Tonya
Ellis remembers hiding in the restroom from a few bullies during her elementary
school days. She encourages kids to speak out if they are being mistreated. She
knew she wanted to become a writer after an article she wrote was published in
her hometown newspaper. Since then, Tonya has worked as a journalist, written
for newspapers and magazines and won awards for her books. When she’s not busy
writing, she enjoys reading, biking with her husband and two sons and daughter,
and travelling to interesting places. Sophie
Washington: The Snitch
is the second book in a series about Sophie and her
friends.
Welcome, Tonya. Please tell us a little bit
about your current release.
Ten-year-old
Texan Sophie Washington and her friends are being bullied by new kid in school,
Lanie Mitchell. Lanie pushes Sophie and her friends around at their lockers and
even takes their lunch money. If they tell, they are scared other kids in their
class will call them snitches, and won’t be their friends. And when you’re in
the fifth grade, nothing seems worse than that. Lanie’s bullying goes too far
and a classmate gets seriously hurt. Sophie needs to make a decision. Should
she stand up to the bully, or become a snitch?
What inspired you to write this book?
I saw
kids in my daughter’s elementary school class being bullied and was baffled as
to why they didn’t want to tell teachers or other adults. Fear of being called
snitches was worse to them then being shoved around and harassed on a daily
basis.
Excerpt from Sophie Washington: The Snitch:
I’ve got a secret. Want to hear it?
Secrets are usually nice. Like when
my dad surprised me with a new goldfish last year. Or the time Grandma
Washington unexpectedly visited us in Houston from her house in Corpus Christi.
I used to love secrets. But this
one’s not so great.
No one knows it, except my best
friend Chloe. It’s her secret, too. We don’t talk about it, ‘cause if we do
people won’t like us. And in the fifth grade being liked is as important as
having a fun birthday party, or staying up as late as possible, or…Christmas.
For now, I’m not telling. Chloe’s
not either.
“Hey Sophie, wait up!” Chloe yells
as I make my way down the hall to our first period math class. “How was your
weekend?”
“The same old, same old,” I reply,
hoisting my math book and binder up in my arms. “Cole whined about having
nothing to do, so Mom and Dad took us to the zoo and then out for ice cream. On
Sunday I caught up on all my homework after church.”
Cole is my seven-year-old brother.
My mom thinks he’s an angel, but I think he was sent here to drive me crazy.
Just this morning at breakfast, for example, he pulled my ponytail while she
wasn’t looking, and then started crying loudly after I whacked him with an
empty Cheerios box. Of course, I’m the one who got in trouble. My dad is nicer
to Cole than he deserves, but I think he’s figured out his game a little bit
better than Mom.
“Nothing much exciting happened at
our house, either,” says Chloe, “but I did get this cute new purse.” Chloe is
what you’d call a Fashionista. I admire the pretty, powder blue bag and notice
the red, glittery, slide-on shoes she wears on her feet. She always manages to
make our boring, private school uniforms look stylish.
“That’s nice,” I say.
As we near the classroom I see
someone in the shadows and my heart starts to beat fast.
“Just great,” I mutter.
Lanie Mitchell, the class bully,
heads our way from the opposite direction.
She sees us, grins, and blocks our
path. Most of our classmates are 10, like me, but Lanie is already 12 years
old. She’s the second tallest girl in 5B, behind Chloe, and a little bit on the
chubby side.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Sophie Washington: The Snitch is the second book in
my series. In March I will be releasing the fifth book – Sophie Washington: Hurricane. In this book Sophie, family and
friends are forced to evacuate their home when a natural disaster strikes the
Houston area. Sophie learns valuable lessons about appreciation and
gratefulness and realizes that she is stronger than she ever imagined.

When did you consider yourself a writer?

I
considered myself a writer after a story I wrote and illustrated about “Mr.
Peanut,” won first prize in my school’s young author contest when I was in
fifth grade. My teachers praised and encouraged me and I felt like this was something
I might be able to do for a living. Then in 10th grade an editorial
I wrote was published in my hometown newspaper and my decision to become a
journalist was cemented.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work
day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to
write?

I work
part time as a realtor and property manager but commit myself full time to
writing and promoting my books, so basically I have a job and a half!  I find time to write in the wee morning hours
before everyone in my house is awake and later in the evenings when things have
settled down. I set writing goals of say, a chapter a day, once I start on a
new book for my children’s series to make sure that I stay on a production
schedule that helps me reach my writing goals. As an indie author I spend a lot
of time promoting my book, as well, so I set aside certain days of the week for
writing only.
What would you say is your interesting writing
quirk?

I can’t
say I have too many quirks when I’m actually writing. Once I get a flow going
I’m pretty immersed in my work. One thing I find weird is when I get an idea I
can write it beautifully in my head when I’m sleeping. I come up with all kinds
of great essays and thoughts worded perfectly right before I wake up in the
morning or as I’m dozing off to sleep. I like to keep a notepad at my bedside
so I can jot thoughts down and won’t forget them.
As a child, what did you want to be when you
grew up?

I really
can’t remember wanting to be anything other than a writer. I’ve had various jobs
as an adult and I even went back to school and earned an MBA degree for higher
paying career options, but in the end it’s always been back to writing for me.
Links:

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10 thoughts on “Interview with children’s writer Tonya Ellis

  1. Bernie Wallace says:

    What book would you like to see a prequel to? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

    • Tonya Duncan Ellis says:

      Good luck Joseph! I hadn’t thought about writing a prequel…Maybe I could write a backstory about Lanie the bully’s life before she transferred to Sophie’s school.

  2. Bernie Wallace says:

    Who is your favorite author of all time? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(dot)com

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