Book Signing Dec. 5 

By Mary Heyl

Mack – the title character of Alicia Vella Dziak’s newest book – is back!

Dziak, assistant editor and graphic designer for The Ellicottville Times, published her latest book, Mack the Indecisive, in August. She will be signing this book, along with her first book, Mack the Invisible, on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Bookworm at 34 Elm Street in East Aurora.

The second book of her young adult series called “Westbrook Ramblings,” Mack the Indecisive chronicles the tough choices that eighth grader, Mack Sanders, must make as she finishes middle school and enjoys her last summer before starting high school.

In Dziak’s words, this new book is all about Mack “finding her way. In the first book of the series, Mack had her first boyfriend, and now in the second book, she’s heartbroken.”

Mack’s pain is intensified when her best friend moves away and she must discover what friendships will follow her into high school. She also discovers a whole new world as she leaves her small town for a special summer vacation. As Mack travels to new places, she learns to see herself as more than someone’s girlfriend and discovers that the world is so much bigger than she ever realized.

For many readers, Mack’s experiences feel very familiar. According to Dziak, the idea for Mack the Invisible came from her very own basement, where she stored a large bin of school memorabilia, including her journals from middle school through college.

Last fall, Dziak re-read each journal and remembered the joys and pains of what many regard as the toughest years: middle school.

“I feel lucky that I have all these journals,” Dziak explained, “because they bring it all back…I try to capture this in my characters. Because of the journals, it’s not just what I remember I felt back then, but what I actually felt.”

In addition to Dziak’s own experiences, the input of her two daughters has been a critical part of the writing process. Dziak’s daughters and their friends, who are middle school students, enjoyed incorporating the Westbrook Ramblings series into their summer reading, and eagerly shared their thoughts with Dziak.

“It helps to have my target audience help me along the way. It’s cool to have their input and feedback, like asking my kids and their friends: What parts did you like? What do you think should happen with this character?”

Besides sharing their ideas about the plot and characters, Dziak’s daughters also are an important resource for their mom.

Dziak explained, “I’m basing these stories on things that I did when I was that age, but technology and how people communicate has changed so much since then.” Technology and even today’s language and figures of speech are important details that Dziak’s daughters have shared with their mom throughout this process.

“It’s great to be able to talk to them about things I went through when I was their age. There are lots of things that are the same for every generation, even how you felt about your parents at that age!”

Since her first book, which was published in February, Dziak has learned even more about the self-publishing process.

“The process went smoother the second time…because I knew what to expect.”

In addition to enlisting the services of more editors, Dziak was able to work with her illustrator, Ashlee Oakley of Springville, before finishing the manuscript. Like her first book, Dziak used CreateSpace, an independent platform, to publish Mack the Indecisive, which is also available for purchase on Amazon.com in print and digital formats.

Even better, readers can get signed copies of both books from Dziak herself at The Bookworm on Saturday, Dec. 5.  They make great gifts for all your favorite tweens!