Perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Walk Two Moons, this debut middle grade novel is the story of two girls and the unforgettable summer in which they learn about true friendship and loss.
Annie has been promised a summer of freedom in the country. Freedom from a difficult school year, freedom from her fake “friends” back in the city, and, most of all, freedom from her mom’s life-governing spreadsheets and rigid schedules.
When Annie meets California, who is visiting her grandfather’s farm, it seems she has found the perfect partner for the summer she’s always craved. Especially when California offers Annie a real-life adventure: if she and Annie can find the ponies her mom rode as a girl, surely it will remind her mom how wonderful the farm is—and fix what’s broken between her mom and her grandfather.
But Annie’s summer of freedom is sprinkled with secrets, and everything she has learned about bravery and love will be put to the test when the truth behind the ultimate secret changes her life forever.
About the Author
Nanci grew up in Connecticut, England and Texas, always with a book in one hand, the reins of a pony in the other. She wrote her first “novel” at the age of nine, which she uses to teach young writing students never to give up, no matter the odds. After raising her two sons in Maryland, Nanci made her dream come true by moving to a historic cabin in a meadow in Jackson Hole, WY. Aside from writing novels for young people, she is a professional theatre stage manager and the Teen Writing Instructor at her local library. She lives with her two horses, two dogs, and an abundance of wildlife in the national forest right outside her back door.
Nanci is a strong believer in the power of books and kids.
Have you learned anything during the process of publishing this book that you wished you'd known beforehand?
So much, it is hard to point to one thing and say, “That!” Probably the most significant thing I’ve learned during revisions with my editor was how to step outside my comfort zone and learn new revision techniques that helped mold and shape and sculpt the best of the story so it shines brightly. As far as being published, I am relieved to have learned and accepted that not everyone will like my book, and that’s okay, and that some reviewers will get it, and others won’t.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
Wow, there are so many I love, but there is one I keep going back to because I know her story must be told Her name is Lizzie and she is the main character in my current WIP. I started this book in 2009, it was the manuscript that enticed my agent to sign me, but it never sold. Coming out of the recession, it was always rejected as being “too quiet.” Looking at it now, years later, I see there is much more wrong with it than simply being too quiet, but I get excited and happy every time I start working on it again. Lizzie will be a relatable character to so many kids who are overlooked in literature because of her circumstances, and I know the reason I keep coming back to this is because she is demanding my attention to get this story out at just the right time.
Is there a genre that you refuse to write?
I’m pretty sure I’d never write anything that had Fabio on the cover, or graphic sex scenes, because even just writing that makes me blush.
What do you listen to while you're writing?
When I was writing Swing Sideways, I listened obsessively to a song performed by a remarkable 12 year old English girl named Jasmine Thompson. The title of the song is Under the Willow, and if you read Swing Sideways, you will understand completely why that song resonated with me. It is haunting and lovely and heartbreaking and full of hope.
For the book I just finished, Georgia Rules, which comes out summer 2017, I chose music that went along with the emotion of whatever scene I was working on, so it varied a lot. Most of the time it was really old stuff like the Beach Boys (although the story takes place in Vermont), or Harvest Moon by Neil Young, or Willie Nelson. I’m an old soul when it comes to music. Don’t laugh. Okay, go ahead and laugh.
As a general rule, I only have music with words on when I am editing, not the initial writing process. I do have an app that has binary beats so I can put on my headphones and set it to Focus (a big one for me), Creativity, etc.
Do you believe that opposites attract?
Heck yeah! I’m all about exploring and discovery and if your core belief system is strong and confident, the things you can learn from someone who is quite different from you is amazing. Also, I tend to hermitize a lot (a verb I made up that needs no explanation), so having an opposite — provided they are respectful of my need for solitude — can add a lively flavor to life. But, it can also exhaust me, so I retreat to my cave and re-energize by being alone.
Are you #TeamChocolateChip or #OatmealRaisin4Lyf?
CHOCOLATE!!! Gooey, rich, and abundant.
Were any of the scenes difficult to write?
Two scenes that still make me cry when I read them, which feels so weird since I wrote them. I can’t say what they are because there is a twist at the end of Swing Sideways, but know they are not necessarily heartbreaking tears. There is a lot of really positive, beautiful stuff that happens. I wrote Swing Sideways while caring for my dad who was dying from three primary cancers. The grandfather in the book — well, never mind, you’ll see. Suffice to say, the loss of my dad came out in parts of this book, but in the same way that one celebrates the meaningful life of someone very much loved.
Which book has inspired your work the most?
Black Beauty was the book I read when I was nine that made me know I would be an author someday, and it certainly influenced my making that happen, more so than my writing style. There is a stack of books I keep next to my desk that I refer to when I need a boost to push through something: Walk Two Moons; Les Miserable; The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate; The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane; Judy’s Journey; and Lonesome Dove. They all influence me in different ways. So does poetry by Mary Oliver and Robert Frost, even though I’m not a poet.
What do you enjoy, outside of writing?
I live in a historic cabin in a mountain meadow where I keep my horses and dogs. I’m a lifelong horse-girl, animal lover, wildflower picker, jam maker, crochet-er, amateur photographer, dancer, and can identify almost every weed and flower, bush, tree, or vine in the national forest outside my back door. I’m addicted to NFL football (3 more months!), professional tennis, history, reading, and my two grown sons.
Last, and most important of all, would you ever consider putting a platypire in one of your future books?
I can completely envision an imaginative character appearing in a book someday who loves a platypire, much to the chagrin and fright of her family. I think this character’s name might be Saffron and she sewed together a bunch of of rags and buttons to make her own platypire to carry around with a tiny babydoll-bottle of some kind of red liquid in it’s hands.