Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Babe To Teens, Past
A Youth Column
By Jan Fields

An Interview with Dotti Enderle, reviews of The Lost Girl and Hand of Fate

    The school year is winding down and most of us have our eye on summertime fun. One thing you might want to consider is your local library’s summer reading program. Not only are libraries a great place to sample new writers without blowing your book budget, but signing up for these summer reading programs can give you incentive and earn you some minor loot. Many libraries give fun (if a bit silly) prizes every time you read a set number of books. And the reading program may wrap up with a party. We all love parties -- right? So check our your library and mix a few books into your summertime plan. Let me know what you win.

   Dotti Enderle is the author of the Fortune Tellers Club series (Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.) She’s also a professional storyteller, a skill that comes in handy for all the school visits she does. And she’s written an educational book series, Storytime Discoveries, as well as picture books and even ebooks. She lives in Texas with her husband and two teenaged daughters.

Jan: Your Fortune Tellers Club series is a mystery with a unique twist -- how did this series come about in your head? How did you go about finding a publisher for such a unique concept?

Dotti: When my oldest daughter was twelve, she had a birthday sleepover, and the first thing the girls did was pull out the Ouija Board. That reminded me of my childhood, and my two best friends, Pamela and Debbie. The three of us were a lot like the Fortune Tellers Club. We’d spend hours asking the Ouija questions, or trying to read the future with cards. Preteen girls are both curious and impatient. They want to know what will happen to them, and they want to know NOW. We were no different. As the memories of my childhood came pouring back, so did the concept of the Fortune Tellers Club. Pamela and Debbie and I never solved any mysteries with our divination, but I loved the idea of three girls who could.

I really had a lot of problems finding a publisher at first. The mainstream children’s publishers rejected it on the grounds that they couldn’t put it in the book clubs because of the occult content. One day I happened upon a YA novel published by Llewellyn Publications, which totally shocked me because I didn’t know they published fiction. I sent in the first novel, The Lost Girl, and became their pioneer in children’s publishing, writing their first middle-grade series.


Jan: What kind of reaction have you had from your readers? Do you get much fan mail? Does the input of fans (and not so fans) affect your writing choices?

Dotti: My readers are great! I do get lots of fan mail, and it’s always positive. One girl told me that her mother loves my books so much, she gets first dibs on the new releases, then passes them on to her and her sister. And a mother from France emailed me that her daughter speaks English, but her comfort level for reading is French. The Lost Girl, was the first book in English that the girl had ever read straight through without putting down. That made me feel fantastic.

But my fans don’t offer much input for my stories. One girl did mention that she’d like to see the girls visit the new age store more often, so I wrote it into the book I was working on at the time. However, most of the influence for my books comes from my own real life occurrences or those of my daughters.


Jan: Tell us about your in-person visits -- what can readers expect if they get Dotti Enderle to come to their school?

Dotti: Lots of laughter and great stories. I do several presentations, depending on grade level, but I always include a few stories. I was a professional storyteller before becoming an author, and when I’m telling stories, I’m guaranteed a quiet, attentive audience. I also love participation from the kids, and incorporate it in both my stories and my presentations. I often pose questions to the audience during my talk. That keeps them alert, and quite frankly kids like the opportunity to raise their hands to give an answer. My favorite is when I ask the audience if they think all authors are rich and famous. I get lots more than just a yes or no with that one.


Jan: Do you have a favorite character in the Fortune Tellers series or a favorite book? Slip us some inside information on these fortune telling girls.

Dotti: I can’t say that I have a favorite character because all three represent some aspect of myself. Juniper is mystical, Gena is zany and a real fraidy cat, and Anne is level-headed, yet constantly curious. I always know which part of my psyche to pull from for each one. Originally I was going to center the entire series around Juniper, the main character in the first book, but a friend urged me to rotate characters. I’m so glad she did. I learned a lot about myself, and the other two characters by doing that. And I think it’s more fun for the readers.

I do have a favorite book though. It’s The Magic Shades. Mostly because I love the idea of taking a mundane object like a pair of sunglasses and using them to see the future. Now, if only I could invent some!


Jan: You've done educational books, electronic books, picture books, magazine writing, as well as the Fortune Tellers series -- what's your favorite kind of writing to do?

Dotti: Actually my favorite kind of writing is the genre in which I’m still waiting for publication – historical fiction. I’ve written two historical midgrades that are being considered by major houses right now. One is set in 1883, and the other in 1961. And I plan to start another one very soon that takes place in 1931. All three are set in Texas because that’s where I’ve lived my entire life. I’m not sure I’d know how to write about anywhere else.


Jan: Tell us about the books you have upcoming. I see you've got a picture book that is very Texas -- what should Dotti Enderle fans be watching for?

Dotti: My picture book is called The Cotton Candy Catastrophe at the Texas State Fair. The cotton candy machine goes berserk, and the state fair is overrun with the sticky menace. It’s a fun book that not only tells the story of Jake and how he’s set the cotton candy on the loose, but it also incorporates some amazing features of the State Fair of Texas, like The Texas Star – America’s tallest Ferris wheel, and Big Tex, the 52-foot tall statue that greats visitors at the front gate.

I’ve also been exceptionally lucky to have Chuck Galey as my illustrator. He’s done a phenomenal job on bringing the state fair to life, and covering it with clouds of cotton candy. The pictures truly make the book.

Also be on the lookout for three more Fortune Tellers Club books, and Storytime Discoveries: Math, the fourth in my Storytime Discoveries series from Teaching & Learning Co.


Jan: Many young readers dream of being writers, how would you suggest they begin now to end up where you are -- a published author?

Dotti: The most important way a writer can prepare is by reading. Read everything. Not just how-to books, but books on the genre in which you wish to write. Although classes are a great help, there is no teacher quite like your favorite author. Enjoy the story, then reread it, taking note of how it’s written. What strong verbs does the author use? How much description…emotion…inner dialogue is used. How often does the author interrupt dialogue to insert thoughts or feelings? These are the mechanics for telling a compelling story. A fantastic idea won’t make a great book unless it’s well written. Also, write whenever you can. Just like anything else in life, it takes lots and lots of practice. Be patient and enjoy the process.


Jan: What things have been most important in shaping your writing career? What do you credit with the transformation from Dotti Enderle, butterfly mom, to Dotti Enderle, multi-book author?

Dotti: The most important thing for me was, and still is, having contact with other writers and professionals who put me on the right track. I’ve been a part of a few listservs for several years, and I can honestly say that I’ve learned more by reading the interaction of both published and unpublished writers than anywhere else. Those contacts opened an amazing new world for me. Between that and finding my own voice, a revelation that came about by doing what I suggested above, I’ve been genuinely blessed.


Jan: What's your favorite part of being a writer?

Dotti: Having an outlet for all these ideas that have taken residence in my head. I love putting them on paper and seeing how they turn out. When I start a novel it’s like an adventure. I never know where it’s going to take me until the end.


Jan: Who are your favorite authors and why?

Dotti: There is only one author whom I read consistently and that’s Kimberly Willis Holt. I adore her books and her writing voice, and I’m usually the first in line when her latest gets put on the shelf.

Other favorites include Mark Twain, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Linda Smith.


Jan: Tell us what you were like as a kid.

Dotti: This may be surprising, but I was painfully shy and withdrawn. I was afraid to speak out loud, and spend the majority of my school days in fear of interaction, from the first day of the first grade until the day I graduated high school. I preferred living in a dream world, and my mind stayed in an alpha state for half my life. I think now that it was not only an escape, but also the only place I could be where I felt important. I developed a sense of humor as a teenager, but would only open up at home, never in public. I think I was well into my mid-twenties when the public starting wishing I’d withdraw into myself again!

But those daydreaming days eventually paid off. Had I spent those childhood years in the real world, I wouldn’t have anything to write about now. I had an overactive imagination, and though it’s never really stopped pumping, I’ve learned to function in a duel existence. And I think I’m safe as long as I can distinguish between the two!


Jan: Dotti, thank you for taking the time to share so much with our readers. I wish you the best of fortune with your writing and I hope one of your historical middle-grade novels finds a publishing home soon.

For next time, we’ll have a review with Linda Zinnen about her new fantasy novel and how her books have run the gamut from sassy YA to sports to dragons….


The Lost Girl
By Dotti Enderle
Fortune Tellers Club, No. 1
Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd - September 2002
ISBN: 0738702536 - Paperback
Juvenile Fiction (ages 9-12)

Buy a Copy
Read an excerpt

Review by Jan Fields,

     After growing up on Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon, I found The Lost Girl to be a kicked-up version of the kind of books I loved as a kid. The main character, Juniper Lynch, and her friends Anne and Gena are fascinated with fortune telling -- any kind of fortune telling. Since I remembered trying to read tea leaves from burst tea bags and trying to see images in the crystal on my birthstone ring, I could really relate to this fascination. But this book isn’t some kind of enticement to the New Age -- it’s pure middle-grade mystery at its heart. I was caught up in the plot and sailed through the story’s fast pace. And Gena made me laugh out loud -- readers will enjoy how different these characters are portrayed. I could see how some parents could be uncomfortable with the paranormal aspects of the story but I think this book would capture the attention of any girl who loves magic in her books. It definitely whetted my appetite for the series.


Hand of Fate
Fortune Tellers Club, No. 5
By Dotti Enderle
Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd - May 2004
ISBN: 0738703907 - Paperback
Juvenile Fiction (ages 9-12)

Buy a Copy

Review by Jan Fields,

   Hand of Fate is the newest release of The Fortunetellers Club. I have to admit, it featured my least favorite character -- Anne Donovan. Not that Anne’s not cool, she’s going to cheerleading camp and I’m sure lots of girls relate well to that, but I like my character’s a bit wacky. The mystery itself delivers, though, with all the tension and excitement of the previous books. As a summer read, this book is fast and exciting. Plus, what could be more enticing than the search for an answer when something bad (in this case a car accident) happens. By giving the characters the means to move that search to the paranormal, I believe this book pulls on something inside us that wants to believe there are answers for everything if we just had the tools to find them.

2004 Past Columns

Dotti Enderle

© MyShelf.Com. All Rights Reserved.