LAURIE: Jackie, I’m so glad you could join us today to talk about your new book and your writing journey. First, can you tell us a bit about your book and what inspired you to write this story?
JACKIE: One Small Spark is a middle grade historical novel set in Boston just before the Revolutionary War. I’d learned in elementary school that Crispus Attucks was the first casualty of the American Revolution, so you can imagine my surprise to discover I’d been mistaken for more than sixty years. I was channel surfing one evening and came across a program titled Legends and Lies: The Patriots. The story line focused on the period immediately preceding the outbreak of the Revolution. Boston was in crisis.
Part of the population wanted to break away from England but not enough were actually willing to take up arms. Samuel and John Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock, and some other patriots had formed a secret society called “The Sons of Liberty” to foment anti-British sentiment. They recruited a gang of boys to harass merchants who refused to boycott British goods.
Enter young Christopher Seider, the 11-year old servant of a wealthy widow. No one knows why he was present at a protest in February of 1770, but his decision turned out to be deadly. During the demonstration, he was shot and killed. Word of this tragedy spread like wildfire, and the colonists were enraged. The Sons of Liberty saw this as the perfect opportunity to promote their cause, and it worked.
A week later, five Bostonians, including Crispus Attucks, were killed in what became known as the Boston Massacre, and the American Revolution was underway.
I was amazed that I’d never heard of Christopher Seider. How could someone so pivotal to our country’s past become lost to history? I decided to tell his story so young readers won’t have to wait sixty years (like I did) to meet this important young man.
LAURIE: And is this the first book you have coming out with Anaiah Press?
JACKIE: Actually, this is my second. My first was Jacqueline, another middle grade historical, set in France during WWII. It’s based on an experience my dad had while stationed in Rennes shortly after D-day. Jacqueline was published in 2015.
It received an Eric Hoffer Book Award, the gold medal for historical fiction from Literary Classics Book Awards, first place for middle grade fiction in the Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Awards, and a medal from the Military Writers Society of America.
LAURIE: Congratulations! That’s wonderful news. And what led you to publish with Anaiah Press?
JACKIE: I’d been agent-shopping the manuscript for Jacqueline and eventually realized that most of the agents weren’t interested in a faith-based novel for younger readers. So, I decided to look for a small Christian publisher where the story could find a good home.
When I read about Anaiah, I was impressed by their mission statement and decided it would be a good fit for Jacqueline. It was one of the best decisions I ever made!
LAURIE: Are there any authors who’ve influenced you in your writing? Do you have any favourite authors?
JACKIE: I think my writing has been influenced to some degree by all of the authors I’ve read. But my favorites include Ray Bradbury, Frank McCourt, Maeve Binchy, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine is one of my all-time favorite books. It’s a beautiful little coming-of-age story. If you haven’t read it, you should.
LAURIE: Thanks for that tip for our readers! And the question everyone asks an author - how long has it taken you to get published?
JACKIE: I wrote my first novel in 2008, and after spending many months submitting to publishers, I decided to self-publish. The book did pretty well, but it was a tremendous amount of work, so I decided to go the traditional route with Jacqueline. I spent a little over a year submitting to agents and publishers before getting the contract offer from Anaiah.
LAURIE: What advice would you give to other writers trying to break in to the Christian market?
JACKIE: Don’t give up! If there was ever a time when wholesome, inspirational, faith-based stories were needed, it’s now. Make sure your manuscript is the best it can be, then trust that God has a plan for it. He gave you the talent and the desire to write, so have faith in Him. There is a home for your story – and He will help you find it.
LAURIE: What hobbies do you like to do when you’re not writing? Anything else you’d like our readers to know about you and your work?
JACKIE: I spend a LOT of time reading. Since I live in Florida, I enjoy walking on the beach, fishing, and boating. I do needlework to relax. And I love to visit my grandkids up in NJ.
I’m currently working on a homeschool curriculum for Kindergarten. I also have an outline for another middle grade historical – this one set during Jesus’ ministry.
LAURIE: That sounds fascinating! And where can your readers find you on social media?
JACKIE: Here’s a list of my social media contacts. I love hearing from my readers!
Website is www.jackieminniti.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jackie-Minniti/e/B0037ZHSKK/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
LAURIE: And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?
JACKIE: I can’t say for certain. I know it’s going to involve a tremendous amount of research, so we’ll see how that goes. But the story is taking shape in my mind a little more each day, so things should move quickly once I start putting it on paper. For me, that’s the fun part!
LAURIE: Thank you, Jackie for sharing with our readers today! If anyone has a comment for Jackie please feel free to leave one and Jackie will be in and out all day today.
Here is the lovely cover of "One Small Spark" and the story within:
A mysterious message on a scrap of paper.
A shadowy group whose motives are unclear.
A political struggle that pits friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor, and father against son.
Eleven-year-old Benjamin Pembroke’s safe, sheltered life is turned upside-down when he meets a strange boy who becomes an unlikely friend in troubling times. Unfortunately, Benjamin has no way of knowing that his future, as well as the future of his country, will be changed forever.
You can buy "One Small Spark" at:
Jackie Minniti is a former teacher and journalist. She is the award-winning author of Project June Bug and Jacqueline. Several of her stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. She lives in Treasure Island, Florida, with her husband and two noisy macaws.
I'm a military wife who's raised two wonderful special needs children to adulthood. We've lived all over Canada and are still on that journey. When I'm not writing, I can be found spinning, knitting, and hanging out with my dogs.