Middle Grade Author Nancy J. Cavanaugh Talks About the Process of Writing Her Latest Book – Elsie Mae Has Something to Say + GIVEAWAY!

Hi guys! Happy Labor Day everybody! Today I am finishing up my 5-day weekend from school, and (hopefully) I got a lot of things done. September is going to be a crazy month for me- it usually is one of the busiest throughout the year- but I am so glad to have an amazing lineup of authors this month! Please give a warm welcome to Nancy J. Cavanaugh, author of Elsie Mae Has Something to Say, which I reviewed a few weeks ago as an ARC! She’s also giving away a signed copy of her book, so please don’t miss that!

About Elsie Mae Has Something to Say34006756

Elsie Mae is pretty sure this’ll be the best summer ever. She gets to explore the cool, quiet waters of the Okefenokee Swamp around her grandparents’ house with her new dog, Huck, and she’s written a letter to President Roosevelt that she’s confident will save the swamp from a shipping company and make her a major hometown hero. Then, news reaches Elsie Mae of some hog bandits stealing from swamper families, and she sees another opportunity to make her family proud while waiting to hear back from the White House.

But when her cousin Henry James, who dreams of one day becoming a traveling preacher like his daddy, shows up and just about ruins her investigation with his “Hallelujahs,” Elsie Mae will learn the hard way what it really means to be a hero.


Nancy J. Cavanaugh

My Writing Process for Elsie Mae Has Something to Say

So excited to be stopping by to do a guest post on Lilbooklovers!  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share a bit about my process in writing my most recent book, Elsie Mae Has Something to Say.

My basic formula for writing this particular book was to take one cup of inspiration, combine it with many cups of research, fold in a couple of cups of personal experience, then simmer and stir into a pot of creative imagination for about twenty years to yield one middle grade historical novel.

AlligatorThe inspiration for this novel, which is set in the Okefenokee Swamp, came from a program I saw on television where a man was studying the life of alligators in the Okefenokee.  I had never heard of the Okefenokee Swamp before I saw that program, and I became intrigued.  I headed off to the library to find books about the swamp, and the more I read, the more fascinated I became, especially when I learned that there were people, called swampers, who used to live in the Okefenokee.  I knew there was definitely a story to be told about this place.

I spent a lot of time pouring over all the books I found about the swamp itself and the people who lived there.  There was one book in particular, The Okefinokee Album by Francis Harper & Delma Presley, that really interested me.  This book was full of stories about the original swamper families who called the Okefenokee home; and in addition to the stories, Harper wrote about, there were plenty of photographs of these people and their way of life.  This book also recorded the details regarding the Okefenokee Swamp being named a National Wildlife Refuge by President Roosevelt in 1937.  These facts and stories were the real inspiration behind my character Elsie Mae’s story.img_2448_0043 (2)

Besides the reading I did, I also visited the Okefenokee on two separate occasions.  I had the chance to see the swamp and experience it by hiking in it, going on a tram ride, canoeing in it, and most importantly by talking to people who had grown up in the Okefenokee.

Even with all this inspiration and research, it took years for my imagination to create the characters whose story I wanted to tell, but the long journey has been such a satisfying one.  I love what this tiny nugget of inspiration has become, and I am so excited that readers will get to experience the Okefenokee Swamp of the 1930’s by reading Elsie Mae’s story in Elsie Mae Has Something to Say.

About the Authorimg_5950

Nancy is the award-winning author of This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, Always, Abigail, Just Like Me, and Elsie Mae Has Something to Say.

Nancy is a former elementary and middle school teacher as well as a school librarian.  One of her favorite parts of writing for children is being able to say, “I’m working” when reading middle grade novels.

Nancy enjoys visiting schools and sharing her love of writing with students.  She also enjoys sharing her expertise about writing and children’s literature with teachers and librarians.

Besides reading and writing, Nancy loves eating pizza in her hometown of Chicago.

Website | Twitter | Facebook


A few quick rules:

  • 1) You must be 13 years or older
  • 2) You must be a US resident
  • 3) If your Twitter account is a giveaway account, you are automatically disqualified.
  • 4) Read the rest of the terms and conditions for more.

Here’s the giveaway link! May the odds ever be in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Reading!

+ J.M.J.

~ Kester

Are you excited about Elsie Mae Has Something to Say? Do you love historical fiction books or middle grade reads?

Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!

Contact | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Bloglovin

5 thoughts on “Middle Grade Author Nancy J. Cavanaugh Talks About the Process of Writing Her Latest Book – Elsie Mae Has Something to Say + GIVEAWAY!

  1. “Comment below with a place in nature you love visiting!” I would like a nice back yard that is completely walled and private. The cats and I could enjoy plant life and cool breezes in the shade.

    Liked by 1 person

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