Cover Reveal: THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE

I’m thrilled to be able to announce the cover of my March 15, 2016 middle grade debut, THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE (Viking). And happy to add that the book will simultaneously release as an audiobook, by Listening Library!

Here’s the synopsis: Something is not right at Rookskill Castle, a rundown Scottish manor shrouded in mystery. The castle is a temporary boarding school for children escaping the Blitz, but soon it’s clear there is something terribly wrong. There are clues hinting that a spy is in the house, and there are undeniable signs of a sinister magic. When the children in the castle’s temporary boarding school begin disappearing one by one, it’s a race against the clock for twelve-year-old Kat Bateson, her two younger siblings, and their new best friend.

CharmedChildrencover (1)

I’m so happy with this beautiful cover, illustrated by Greg Ruth. You can add it to your Goodreads to-read shelf here


IMG_8226bJanet Fox’s published works include the non-fiction middle grade self-help book GET ORGANIZED WITHOUT LOSING IT (Free Spirit Publishing) and three young adult historical novels: FAITHFUL, FORGIVEN, and SIRENS (all Speak/Penguin). Her debut middle grade novel THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE is due out in March 2016 from Viking; it’s a creepy historical fantasy featuring ghosts, enigma machines, disappearing children, castles, and curses. Janet is currently working on a number of projects ranging from picture books to more middle grade to YA science fiction. Janet is a former high school teacher, and a 2010 MFA graduate from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she’s represented by Erin Murphy. She lives in Bozeman, Montana, where she and her husband are ruled by an energetic Lab, but you can also find her at www.janetsfox.com.

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Unless You Have Already Called 911–Some Tips for Sharing the Summer with Kids

So, it’s summer. Strawberries. Kayaks. Kids in my office.

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Ok, my office is a corner of the bedroom. Or the kitchen table. Or the living room couch. And school’s out.

So if you work from home and you’re in that phase of life where you’re writing and raising kids at the same time, here are a few ideas about how to share the summer so that both the writer and the kids are happy.

Make a sign for your door.

The sign that goes up on my bedroom door during the summer says, “Unless you have already called 911, do not knock on this door. I’m writing.” I know, I know. It sounds a little harsh. But my at-home kids are 14 and 11. They are perfectly capable people. And the sign was made one afternoon when they had knocked on the door to ask “Do we only have creamy peanut butter?” “Can Vi come over tomorrow?” “Do you know where the toenail clippers are?” and seventeen other things that could have waited until after work time.

The point is to set work times and kid times and then honor them. Talk to your kids about what time you need. Ask them to honor that time. But then honor their time too. During the summer, I only work two hours a day. It’s a lot less time than I usually write. But it’s enough time to keep my brain working. It’s summer and I know that in September, I’ll hit it hard again. And once I walk out of that room and take down my sign, I’m home from work and can do kid stuff without thinking about the writing because I know tomorrow at 2:00, I’ll have two hours where no one will interrupt me at all.

You know that cute middle school kid on your block? Maybe they need a summer job.

When my kids were younger, just hanging a sign on the door would not have worked at all. But there were certain fun kids who lived in our neighborhood who really wanted to earn some spending money but weren’t quite old enough for a job. And they were still young enough to enjoy playing. So I’d hire them to come play wild games of soccer for two hours with my boys. I’d get writing time. They’d get money from me and total adoration—hero status, really—from my boys. And it was the best time of the day for my boys.

Create an artificial media shortage.

I’m not sure I’m proud of this technique but I used it for two summers and it works amazingly well. Simply cut off all access to media except during the two hours you’re planning to write. My kids did all sorts of other things because media wasn’t the easy default. And at 2:00 in the afternoon, every device in the house flickered on and an eerie silence descended as the little brains went in for their fix. And I went into my room and wrote like a maniac for two hours.

Teach yourself to work where you are.

You’ve got to drive a kid to soccer/science/art/drama camp and then you’ve got to drive home and snatch some work time. But then you’ve got to drive back. You just lost a lot of time back and forthing in the car. What if you just dropped the kid off and plunked yourself under a tree with a notebook or a laptop?

Enjoy your kids.

You only get so many summers. And as Elaine reminded us last week, it’s all about balance and having those “real-life, non-writing adventures” feeds the writing too. (You can read that post here.) So go climb to that waterfall that you have to let yourself down to with a rope someone tied to a tree. Let ten fourteen year olds invade your house and don’t stop the waterfight that develops. Wake a kid up early and go watch the sunrise from a kayak. Everything goes into the well and we draw it back out and transform it. Maybe it’s time to spend some time filling up the well.

mylisa_email_2-2Mylisa Larsen has been telling stories for a long time. This has caused her to get gimlet-eyed looks from her parents, her siblings and, later, her own children when they felt that certain stories had been embellished beyond acceptable limits. She now writes children’s books where her talents for hyperbole are actually rewarded.

She is the author of the picture books, Instructions for Bedtime (Katherine Tegen Books) and If I Were A Kangaroo (Viking.)

You can visit her online at http://mylisalarsen.com

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Just the Right Amount of Adventure

Image-1 (2)I’m so thrilled to be posting on Emu’s Debuts for the very first time! I’ve had my eye on this blog since my querying days (okay, years), so writing this post feels like one of those moments when something big (or small) happens and you think, “This dream is really coming true!”

And yet.

When this post goes live, I’ll be headed to a cabin in the mountains with no WiFi, where I’ll be spending three days drafting my second book that’s really my fifth book. Because there are times to blog and tweet and research and live life abundantly, and there are times when you have to just open up your manuscript and write and write and write. It’s all about balance, isn’t it?

My kids are signed up for a Shakespeare camp this summer (one of the advantages of living near the Utah Shakespeare Festival), and for his audition, my son and I found this monologue and both fell in love:

“The test of an adventure is that when you’re in the middle of it, you say to yourself, ‘Oh, now I’ve got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home.’ And the sign that something’s wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.”

~ Thornton Wilder, The Matchmaker, Act IV

(It goes on, and it’s wonderful, and you should probably just read the whole play.)

There’s so much we can learn about life simply by being writers. We know what it means to be obsessed and apathetic, despairing and joyful, rejected and triumphant…the list goes on and on. But there’s a depth and dimension that comes to our writing from getting out there and having real-life, non-writing adventures. We all know this, of course, but sometimes it bears repeating. (And sometimes, when you go to a cabin in the woods with a bunch of neurotic writers, it could go either way. *cues scary music*)

So what I wish for you, writing friends, is that you find that balance again in your life, and that you fill your summer with “just the right amount of sitting quietly at home, and just the right amount of…adventure!”


View More: http://morgansladephotography.pass.us/vickersfamilyElaine Vickers is the author of LOST AND FOUND (HarperCollins, 2016) and loves writing middle grade and chapter books when she’s not teaching college chemistry or hanging out with her fabulous family. She’s a member of SCBWI and represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of EMLA. You can find her at elainevickers.com on the web, @ElaineBVickers on Twitter, here on Pinterest, or generally anywhere there are books and/or food for her consumption. :)

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Filed under Advice, Introduction, Time Management, Writing and Life

Gifts and Talent

Mothman's Curse Final CoverFirst of all, an announcement: the winner of the Mothman’s Curse giveaway is TheSmitlyJotter! Congratulations! Christine will be in touch soon to arrange delivery. Thanks to everyone who commented and followed along with us through Christine’s launch. We hope you had as much fun as we did. If you didn’t win last week—stay with us! There are many more launches ahead this summer.

Next, I have a confession to make.

I forgot that I was supposed to post today.

Fortunately, the talented, helpful and far-better-organized-than-I Mylisa Larson sent me a heads up. That got me thinking.

If we remove the far-better-organized-than-I bit from the list of attributes above then we’re left with two traits: talented and helpful. I think there’s something about those two qualities, and the relationship between them, that merits some attention.

We all know people who are talented. We all know people who are helpful. But I think that if we were all to construct a Venn Diagram detailing the people in our lives who are talented and who are helpful then a good number of people would be listed in the in-between area—that special place reserved for people who are not just one thing or the other, but both.

That’s not a revolutionary thought, of course. Obviously we all know people who are talented and helpful. But I know that in recent years I’ve been developing a whole new appreciation for such people and how much good they do.

I think this awakening started when I began pursuing my Master’s in Children’s Literature. I had been away from writing and scholarship for a long time. I was (at least) ten years older than most of my classmates, who were all inconsiderately clever and creative and made me very conscious of my insecurities about moving from the education field (where I knew a thing or two) to the field of children’s literature (where I did not).

But as anxiety inducing as my classmates were, I was most influenced by my professors. And I quickly began to notice that the professors that seemed to be the most knowledgeable of their craft or area of scholarship were also the professors that were the most generous with their time and encouragement. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, or an observation born of gratitude. I think there’s a connection between talent and helpfulness. Maybe it’s because the most talented people are the most secure, and therefore the most open. Maybe talent demands growth and kindness nurtures growth—within and without. Maybe it’s more complicated than either of those thigns (or more simple).

All I know is that, since entering the world of writing for children, the people that have impressed me the most with their talent and skill have also been the people who are most inclined to encourage and support the growth of others. I think that’s true of the community here at EMU’s Debuts. I think it’s true elsewhere.

So what’s the takeaway from all of this? Maybe it’s a reminder to myself to remain appreciative. Maybe it’s a note that while I may not ever achieve the level of talent possessed by those that inspire me I can still aspire to match their generosity and level of encouragement. It’s so easy to forget to do both those things. Life is busy. There are weddings and honeymoons and medical tests and deadlines and new Batman video games to play. It’s easy to forget to be grateful and generous. But I genuinely believe it’s worth the effort, both for ourselves and the people around us.

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Celebrating MOTHMAN’S CURSE

Mothman's Curse Final Cover

If you haven’t read Mothman’s Curse yet, (Wait, why haven’t you read Mothman’s Curse yet? Get on that!) you’ll find that it features siblings that manage to get themselves into some outsize trouble. To celebrate that spirit, we’ve rounded up some tales of sibling shenanigans from our own Emus.

My sister and I were about 3 and 5 when we got into our mom’s baking cabinet, took out the flour, and poured it over one another. Unfortunately we were standing on top of the floor heater vent (an old Victorian house) so when the heat came on, it blew flour EVERYWHERE. My mom said she had to keep from laughing after scolding us because we were so flour-encrusted all she could see were the tear-tracks down our cheeks. Janet Fox

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To the artist, everything is a medium.

My three sisters and I did a lot of things that would’ve gotten us into trouble had we been caught. Here’s one instance where we felt we really got away with something. We all four loved to climb the trees in our apple orchard. Our parents told us in no uncertain terms that we were to avoid smaller branches because they couldn’t hold our weight. You guessed it. One of us took a chance and used a smaller branch to reach a higher branch and it broke. We snuck inside, grabbed a roll of masking tape and carefully taped it back together. Believe it or not that branch healed and grew to be a sturdy climbing branch. We couldn’t believe we’d gotten away with it because there would’ve been consequences for sure! Penny Parker Klosterman


Yep. That's gonna fix it.

Yep. That’s gonna fix it.

My brother, my friend Patti and I often played together outside, while my sister and our other neighbors, two different sets of sisters, played inside. We were a bit mischievous, and our favorite thing to do was to play ring and run. We were having so much fun! When they stopped answering the door, then we started running our knuckles down the shutters and hiding. Another time when there was a backyard sleepover in a tent at another neighbor’s house, we pretended to be ghosts to try and scare them. Then we pelted the tent with crabapples until we got caught and scolded by the girls’ very unhappy father. Maria Gianferrari

My brother and I were about 14 and 9 when we had to muck out the pig barn. We’d neglected it for far too long, so it was really, really nasty at that point. Somehow, we started singing about our work, which evolved (devolved?) into us taking turns attempting to use the s-word expletive for manure in every line of song, each of us trying to be more clever than the last. Whether or not our parents heard, I don’t know, but luckily they didn’t try to stop it. I don’t think I’ve ever sworn–or laughed–so much in my life, and I know the barn never got cleaned so quickly. Laurie Thompson

When my sister and I were in grade school – on the rare occasions when our parents went out alone for a couple of hours – we would make fudge and try to hide the evidence but the smell and mess always revealed we had broken the rule about never turning on the gas stove! Carole Gerber

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Fudge? I don’t smell fudge.

This is a story of why certain kids should not have access to surgical tubing. My two oldest boys tell me that if your parent is both trusting and a deep sleeper and if you have access to a certain gauge of surgical tubing, you can sneak out of your house at night and set up to launch water balloons from two cul-de-sacs away from a poker game that is being played outside in the summer in someone’s garage. And possibly because by 2 AM the people playing are a little impaired, they will never figure out what hit them or where it’s coming from. Mylisa Larsen

Best thing ever.

Water balloons. Best thing ever.

When I was growing up, we lived on a farm on a long dirt road.  It was quite hilly, and there was a huge hill above one side of our driveway. Cars were always speeding down it too fast and my dad was always lamenting that fact.  One day my sister and I were out for a walk along the road (I was, maybe, 12…so she was 9).  I don’t know how far we walked but we came to a speed limit sign.  We commented on the fact that my dad would love that sign right at the base of our driveway.  We made a joke about bringing it to him. We laughed about it.  And then we decided to do it.  I want to say it was my sister who came up with the harebrained idea, but I think it was mine.  I was the idea girl back then and my sister was the conviction and brawn.  So it probably went something like:

Me: We could dig it up and bring it to dad!
My sister: Let’s do it!
Me: No, we can’t do it…
My sister (already on her hands and knees, fingers in the dirt): Oh yes we can…

We dug that speed limit sign out of the ground–don’t ask me how–and we lugged it back to our house–don’t ask me how–and we re-stuck it at the bottom of our driveway.

My dad was not too pleased.
(I’m pretty sure moving a speed limit sign is, like, a federal offense…) Tam Smith

I know you've always wanted one of these.

I know you’ve always wanted one of these.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s celebration of Mothman’s Curse. Tell us about your own sibling shenanigans or comment on any post this week to be entered in a drawing for a signed copy.

Or pick up your own copy from Amazon, IndieboundBarnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and Powell’s.

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Scary, Scary Stuff!!

This week on the blog we are celebrating all things scary in honor of the release of Christine Hayes’ Mothman’s Curse! Mothman’s Curse is about three kids who discover a Polaroid camera that prints pictures haunted with the ghost of the local town recluse. The kids are quickly sucked into a mystery that involves cursed jewelry, an unhappy spirit, and the legendary Mothman.

Comment on any post this week and you will be entered to win a signed copy of Mothman’s Curse!  Or pick up a copy for yourself or a friend at the following retailersAmazonIndieboundBarnes and NobleBooks-A-Million, and Powell’s.

I’ve invited our esteemed team to tell me about their scariest movie/TV experience…and I’ll lead off with my own: I can’t watch scary things. Can’t. Like Tam Smith right below and Mylisa Larsen at the end, I’m a wimp. But oh – I can read about them, all right! I think my visual imagination is a wee bit wild. So the stuff you see here? Never watched a one. (With one exception: The Sixth Sense, which I thought was amazing. Somehow, I didn’t find it scary…maybe because I was trying to puzzle it out.)Mothman's Curse Final Cover

Tam Smith: I am certifiably TERRIFIED of scary movies. I can’t watch them. If I do they stay in my brain forever. I can’t even watch scary parts of movies for the same reason. If I am ever in a movie theater watching a movie and a scary part comes up, I take off my glasses so I can’t see! The beginning of this, I think, was when I saw Halloween when I was in middle school. I had nightmares for months. And I STILL think of the movie to this day.

Maria Gianferrari: My favorite scary films all have one thing in common: they came out in the 80s! REDRUM, anyone? The Shining is still one of the creepiest movies ever! It has been many, many years since I’ve seen it, yet so much of it has stuck with me. All work and no play, make Jack a dull boy, right? Jack Nicholson does insanity well…spine-chilling! Another classic 80s movie, more on the campy-creepy side, is the original Fright Night.

Brian DePalma’s re-make of Blow Out, is another suspenseful and scary film, more Hitchcockian than horror. It’s a thriller about a sound effects technician who discovers that a murder has taken place, and stars a young John Travolta and John Lithgow as a cold-blooded killer.

Penny Parker Klostermann: The Shining still creeps me out! Jack Nicholson plays “crazy” in the best possible way! I can just see him standing outside the door . . .

“Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. [Silence and a pause] Not by the hair of your chiny-chin-chins? Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

He axes hole in the door and peeks through, looking scarier than any Big Bad Wolf!
Then…”Heeere’s Johnny!” Yikes and Shivers—that’s a scary movie!

Laurie Thompson: Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye scared me so bad. I watched it when I was young, and for years afterward I had trouble sitting on a couch with my feet on the floor, for fear of what was lurking under there and what it might do to my Achilles’ tendon! ::shiver:: It still creeps me out just to think of that little creature with his little knife. Way to go, cat!

Susan Vaught: The original Dark Shadows television series scared me to death. I can still remember huddling under an ironing board with one of my cousins while my aunt ironed, and the three of us stared wide-eyed at Barnabus Collins and the witch who always tried to kill him. Yikes!!

Megan Morrison: This isn’t so much my favorite scary movie as it is a scary movie that I will never watch again because it was so effective: The Ring. I am told that the original Japanese film is much scarier. Good to know. I will never go near that thing. The Ring doesn’t rely on gore. The Ring is about suspense. It’s about mood. It’s about a few disturbing images that aren’t gory – they’re just wrong, to the point where I wish I could unsee them – and then it’s about waiting for the next piece of the awful mystery to be revealed so that it can worm its way into your psyche and never come unstuck. I haven’t seen that movie in years, but Samara still legitimately frightens me. When I feel like I need to hurry through my house at night, it’s her I envision behind me.

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you know who…from The Shining…

Luke Reynolds: When I was a little kid–maybe 5 or 6–my older brothers were babysitting me and they let me watch this movie Cobra with Sylvester Stallone. It wasn’t a horror movie, but these murderers drive around in a van and kill everyone. (Of course, Stallone stops them.) But I was ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED of vans for the next two years. Every time I saw one, I ran wildly in the opposite direction!!

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman: I remember both loving and being freaked out by Watcher in the Woods and Something Wicked This Way Comes as a kid. (I couldn’t remember what Something Wicked was about, so I just looked up the trailer. It doesn’t bring back memories of watching it, but it does make me want to watch the movie again today. Or even better–read the book!

The scary movie that had the longest lasting negative impression on me was Poltergeist. I had beloved Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls that my grandmother made for me, but after seeing that movie those dolls were banished from my room.

Christine Olson Hayes:  I’m a big fan of the TV show Supernatural, though I have to close my eyes during the squicky parts. I LOVE The Sixth Sense, because it was super creepy and because I was truly surprised by the twist at the end. And after watching The Shining in college, I will never not be freaked out by that movie. Ever. A writer slowly going crazy in front of his own typewriter? Yeah, not scary at all.

Elaine Braithwaite Vickers:  When we were first married, my husband decided we should watch every episode of the X-Files together. I only remember a few that still haunt me (The guy who could get reeeeeally skinny and slip through the vents! Yikes!), but due to the overall creepiness, I’d have to take breaks periodically when my mind slipped to the paranormal too often. Apparently, I wanted to believe.

Rebecca Van Slyke: Back in the ’60s, when I was in second grade, there was a movie I watched at my cousin’s house about three girls who met a stranger. One ran home, but the other two went with him and ended up dead. For YEARS afterward that movie visited me in my nightmares.

Mylisa Larsen: I am constitutionally unable to do scary movies of any type. No matter how many times I tell my squidgy little brain that this is just pretend, it does not believe me at all. It’s sure it’s going to die and it’s moving me to the nearest exit.

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An interview with MOTHMAN’S CURSE illustrator James K. Hindle

Another day for celebrating MOTHMAN’S CURSE by Christine Hayes!

Mothman's Curse Final Cover

Just look at this AMAZING cover!

Really, how cool is this cover? Right? The mighty illustrator behind its awesome creepiness is James K. Hindle. And he’s got sweet black and white illustrations inside the book too. He was kind enough to answer some questions for me, so without further ado, here’s James…

You’re an illustrator and a designer, right? What do you design?  And then what do you illustrate? 

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One of James’ comics.

During the day, I work as an art director at a creative studio where I do a lot of different kinds of graphic design work for colleges, businesses and non-profits. Then, when I’m not there, I work as a freelance illustrator. I’ve mostly done editorial work for newspapers and magazines, but I was excited to work on Mothman’s Curse, and I hope it leads to more book illustration in the future. I also draw self-published mini comics.

How did you get connected to Christine’s book?

I was contacted by a designer at Roaring Brook Press. I met him at a comic book convention several years ago.

When you first read the manuscript for Mothman’s Curse did you take some time to decide if you wanted to illustrate it or did you know right away?

As soon as I read the description, I knew it would be a fun project to work on. It’s exactly the kind of spooky book I loved to read when I was a kid.

What were some of your favorite books?

6a00d83451fdc069e2017ee9b5e432970d

By Edward Gorey, from The House With a Clock in Its Walls.

My most favorite book that I can remember reading as a kid was The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs. The gothic story combined with Edward Gorey’s creepy illustrations left a lasting impression on me.

 There are illustrations within the book? How do you decide what gets illustrated in a novel?  Why black and white?

Yes, the book is filled with spot illustrations. They were required to be black and white, probably because of printing costs, but I enjoy working in black and white, so it was great for me.

Why do you enjoy working in black and white?

I enjoy the simplicity of black and white line drawings. That’s the kind of artwork that I’ve always gravitated towards, and the kind of artwork I’ve always enjoyed making.

For the most part, the publisher let me decide what to illustrate. It was a lot of fun to read through the manuscript and pick out scenes to draw.

Because you are also a designer, did you have any creative say in the design of the book?  The chapter heading art details, for example?

The book’s design was done by Andrew Arnold at Roaring Brook Press. I think he did an awesome job.

I do too! How did you create the cover? Was it a long process?

The cover process didn’t take too long. I started by making a few sketches of different ideas. Then, after they chose a direction, there was some back and forth about the poses of the characters, to get the movement and gesture just right. I love to illustrate covers, so this was a lot of fun.

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The different stages of MOTHMAN’s cover. So cool!

What was the most challenging part of this process?  What was the most rewarding?

The most challenging part of the book was deciding what to show, and how to show it. I wanted to make pictures that would set the right mood, but not show every detail of the scene, so that the reader could still use their imagination.

The most rewarding part was seeing all of the illustrations together after they were finished.

Have you illustrated other books?  Which ones?

This is the first real “book” that I’ve illustrated, but I’m looking forward to doing more in the future.

Do you have a general process for creating illustrations?  What is it?

 I start by making some sketches in pencil, and I send those to the client. They’ll pick one, and maybe have some changes, and I’ll make a revised sketch. Once they’re happy with it, I make the final drawing in pencil and then ink it. Then, I scan the ink drawing into the computer and color the illustration in Photoshop.

Do you use a sketchbook?

Yes, I always have a sketchbook with me. I use it to sketch ideas, write things down and draw from life.

What’s up next?

I have a few projects I’m working on at the moment, but nothing specific to share.

Well, we can’t wait to see what they are!  Thank you so much for sharing some of your process, James!

 

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James draws James!

James K. Hindle is an illustrator and a designer. His illustrations have appeared in numerous publications, including The Boston Globe, The New York Times and others. When he’s not drawing, he spends his days working as an art director at a graphic design studio. He lives in Western Massachusetts.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Don’t forget to comment on this post and you will be entered to win a signed copy of Mothman’s Curse!  

Or pick up a copy for yourself or a friend at the following retailers: 

AmazonIndieboundBarnes and NobleBooks-A-Million, and Powell’s

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A Collection of Collections

Mothman's Curse Final CoverToday is THE day! Mothman’s Curse by Christine Hayes is hitting the shelves!

Happy Book Birthday, Christine!

In Christine’s story, Josie and her brothers have grown up helping out at their family’s auction house. They see firsthand the things that people have collected over a lifetime. It seems everyone collects something and it’s interesting to see what people collect. So today, as we continue to celebrate with Christine, we decided to share our EMU collections.

Janet Fox: Clocks. We have half a dozen old working clocks, all ticking and chiming away, not always in sync. Overnight guests have a hard time if we don’t stop them! I don’t even hear them any more.

Tamara Smith: Penguins. My husband used to collect penguins: stuffed animals, posters, clocks, a shower curtain. My daughter, Zory, collects narwhals: wall hangings, stuffed animals, tshirts, model toys. Here’s a fun picture of my 12 year old daughter Zory at a museum in Ottawa “holding up” a narwhal!  It isn’t one of the ones in her collection, of course, but she’d like it to be!

Tam-narwhal

Zory with a narwhal she wishes was in her collection :-)

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman: Besides collecting books, I have a wind-up toy collection. For a long time I was in the habit of buying one as a souvenir from every trip I went on. And I have a collection of Muppets items and also artwork by children’s book illustrators. Oh, and there’s my dust collection too. That counts, right?

Susan Vaught: I collect turtles (not real ones). I have them everywhere in my office.

Laurie Thompson-First Response: There is but one thing I collect: books! I can never have enough bookshelves. There are bookcases and stacks and piles in practically every room of my house. I can’t let go of the ones written by friends. I can’t let go of the ones that were my kids’ favorites when they were little. I can’t let go of the ones I haven’t read yet. I can’t let go of the ones I have read and loved. I can’t even let go of some of the ones I hated, because I like to keep them around to remind me what not to do! It’s an addiction. Send help.

lauries old photo

Laurie’s favorite old photo of people she doesn’t know.

Laurie Thompson-Second Response: Okay, if you want me to reveal all of my secret oddities (beyond being a book nerd)… I have a small but growing collection of vintage Little Golden Books. I love quotes but can’t memorize them, so I keep files. I have a nice collection of blue antique Currier and Ives dishes. I can’t resist old photos, even ones of random strangers. And I’m obsessed with crows.
This is my favorite old photo of people I don’t know. I found it in an antique store and had to buy it. It makes me happy every time I look at it.

Megan Morrison: I have a small collection of French Market coffee mugs, and a lot of fridge magnets. I used to buy the French Market mugs whenever I saw them (either in the actual French Quarter, or in Disneyland’s reproduction). My husband and I also used to buy a fridge magnet whenever we took a trip anywhere. I’m not sure why we don’t do that anymore – it was a fun tradition. I think we just got busy and forgot!

Megan's coffee cup collection

Megan’s French Market coffee mugs

Mylisa Larsen: Unless we want to count my inadvertent collection of ratty t-shirts then not really. Well, books, yeah but that’s kind of a given with this group, isn’t it?

Rebecca Van Slyke: I’m in the book (collectors’) club, too. I especially like antique reading books. And I am amassing a small army of penguins.

Courtney Pippin-Mathur: Books, flying pigs (glass, stuffed and homemade paper and scotch tape sculpture by my daughter) and earrings (the bigger and slightly funky the better).

Carole Gerber: Rejections! (Let’s hear the hysterical but sympathetic laughter.)

Maria Gianferrari: We collect quirky and unusual clocks. We bought the sardine clock at a flea market in Berlin. This is a glass cat from Venezia. A curlicue clock from Cambridge, UK. A city skyscape made from an old record (a gift from a German friend).

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Tick-tock: sardine, glass cat, curlicue, old record

Adam Shaughnessy: I collected comic books through my teen years and they’re still a prized possession. Recently, though, squirrels have been the hot items. Not actual squirrels. That would be weird. But my wife and I discovered shortly after meeting that squirrels both featured prominently in the books we were working on. So now whenever we see squirrel related merchandise, we pick it up! A highlight of our honeymoon was seeing two red squirrels frolicking together in Germany. They did not want to be collected.

Luke Reynolds: I collect pens! Maybe not that unusual for us writers…hhhmmm…I also collect little rocks from camping and hiking trips:)

Penny Parker Klostermann: We collect Santas. They come out every Christmas. We, also, inherited my aunt’s collection. The family lovingly refers to it as “The Jackass Collection” because that’s what it is :-)

santa's

A few of our Santas

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Jackass collection

Do you have a collection? We’d love to hear about it in comments.

Remember! Comment on any post this week and you will be entered to win a signed copy of Mothman’s Curse!  Or pick up a copy for yourself or a friend at the following retailers: Amazon, IndieboundBarnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and Powell’s

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Celebrating MOTHMAN’S CURSE by Christine Hayes!

Mothman's Curse Final CoverWe are on a celebratory roll here at Emu’s Debuts with another book launching into bookstores and libraries near you this week. And you don’t want to miss this one, especially if you are a fan of spooky stories! Mothman’s Curse by Christine Hayes is about three kids who discover a polaroid camera that prints pictures haunted with the ghost of the local town recluse. The kids are quickly sucked into a mystery that involves cursed jewelry, an unhappy spirit, and the legendary Mothman.

Kirkus Reviews gave this middle grade mystery a starred review saying, “Along with a red-eyed, winged monster who is not at all shy about appearing, even over crowds of terrified onlookers, Hayes folds sudden blasts of bone-chilling cold, conversations with the dead, and plenty of other thrillingly eerie elements into a tale that winds suspensefully to a wild, scary climax. An ectoplasmic extravaganza . . . tailor-made for reading beneath the bedcovers.”

Comment on any post this week and you will be entered to win a signed copy of Mothman’s Curse!  Or pick up a copy for yourself or a friend at the following retailers: Amazon, IndieboundBarnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and Powell’s

Before we get to the festivities, we have two winners from our previous launch weeks to announce:

Congratulations Ann Bedichek Braden! You are the winner of a signed copy of My Dog is the Best by Laurie Thompson!

and

Congratulations Bridget R. Wilson! You are the winner of a signed copy of Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman!

 

And now to kick off the Mothman party, we decided to share some photos and talk about what scares us, but something seems to have gone awry with our cameras because these photos don’t seem quite right . . .

 

Jennshark

Here I am enjoying a nice tranquil day by the ocean, thinking about what a great read MOTHMAN’S CURSE is, and appreciating being OUT of the water since I’m terrified of what’s in it, and surely I will be safe if I’m on dry land.

 

Mariaclown

Uh, Maria? I know you and Becca are happily celebrating MOTHMAN’S CURSE but you might want to back slowly away from that fence. On second thought, I’d run if I were you!

 

MeganSamara

I think Megan may have noticed there’s someone else in her reflection besides herself . . .

PennySpider

Penny is being haunted by a spider as big as her head!

Susan

This photo was taken at the Old Asylum where Susan works. Those are stairs in an observatory tower with restricted access where nobody was supposed to be. The stairs were empty when Susan’s coworker snapped this photo, but when he got home it appears the stairs might not have been as empty as they’d originally thought.

TamSnake

Tam has a fear of snakes, so I think you should keep drawing happy pictures, Tam, and whatever you do DON’T look over your shoulder.

 

Carole

Carole wants to wish Chris a happy book publication week, but she’s trapped in a phone booth in London, and it looks like she has company.

ChrisMothman

Here is our lovable author, Christine, on vacation with her husband but wait . . . What’s that shadow coming over the mountain? Oh no–it’s the Mothman!! Quick! RUN!!! Run to your nearest bookstore or library to pick up a copy of MOTHMAN’S CURSE!

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WHOSE Dog is the best??

 

covermydogIn Laurie Ann Thompson’s wonderful new release, My Dog is the Best, illustrated by Paul Schmid, a boy gives his reasons for why his dog is absolutely the best, in his world and in his heart. No doubt, the dog depicted in this delightful picture book is outstanding–and it got us all thinking about the pets who bless our lives, and why they, too, are the best!

 

JanetFoxDog
Janet Fox, author of several titles for young readers, wanted you to know that HER dog is the best–because he loves his toys to pieces.

 

“This is my dog, Sable,” says author Rebecca VanSlyke. “Sable is the best because she is such a smart dog! She can dorebeccavsdog many tricks, from the regular sit, down, stay tricks to things like ‘High Five,’ ‘Shake,’ ‘Roll over,’ ‘Be cute,’ and ‘Sit up.’ When she needs to go outside, she rings a bell that we keep by the back door.  She also plays the piano (a little Fisher-Price toy piano), says her prayers (putting her nose on her paws and waiting for her treat until I say, ‘Amen!’ and when I point my finger at her and say, ‘BANG!’ she falls over on her side and lies still. Plus she’s just so doggone cute!”

 

Donna Bowman Bratton tells us, “Here’s a picture of Sparky Malarky, our lovable shelter dog with super powers. BesidesSparky incessant begging, which is both adorable and annoying, he can pierce the human soul by morphing his eyes from doggy-joy to pathetic tale of woe. He’s a master manipulator. And it works for him every time.”

 

Tam's Pets“The cat is Bantam,” Tamara Ellis Smith explains. “The dog is Fundy.  Fundy is our 15 year old chocolate lab.  She is deaf and blind and, as you can see from the picture, her back legs are barely working anymore so we need this harness to help her get up to go outside.  Fundy is also easily agitated these days…she seems to go in and out of senility.  She gets confused and seems to not know where she is at times. Bantam, our six year old cat, is her best friend. Every time he comes in from being outside, he goes straight to Fundy to say hello.  He weaves his body in and around hers, rubs her face with his nose, purrs so that that she can feel the rumble.  He takes care of her, plain and simple.  It truly seems like that.  And he has gotten more vigilant about it, the older she has gotten.”

 

 

christinehayesdogChristine Hayes wants you to meet her dog, too. “Here’s our funny Wheaten Terrier, Chewie (short for Chewbacca). We chose him because he doesn’t shed (allergies) and because he’s like a big teddy bear. He also looks a lot like the family dog, Cotton, that I adored growing up. Plus he keeps me company during the day. I may have been known to carry on conversations with him from time to time, and he never argues or talks back!”

 

Megan Morrison offers up this entry into the world’s best dog. “This is Jake, my brother’s dog, and the best loved dog I’ve everJakeDog known. My brother took the Jake dog to work every day. They were never apart for long. Jake was a big bullmastiff and the sweetest, gentlest animal. He loved children. He loved everybody – and everybody loved him. He listened to everything my brother said; they were like their own pack of two. Jake passed away last year, and it was rough for the whole family. He really was the best.” How could anyone resist THIS FACE?

 

pennyparkerklostermanndogPenny Parker Klostermann admits that she defected to cats in her adult years–but she’s no stranger to beloved pups. She sent a picture of a dog she had in childhood that she’s never forgotten. “Tippy had the privilege of being the first puppy to live with the Parker girls and they all agreed that he was the BEST dog ever. He was named for the white tip on his tail. As you can see, there were four girls to love on him, so Tippy never lacked for petting or playmates.”

 

Maria Gianferrari makes no excuses for believing her dog is the most awesome ever. “Becca is the best! She’s a Dixie Chick,mariasdog a rescue dog from Chattanooga, Tennessee. We’re so lucky and grateful that kind-hearted souls rescued her after she was dumped on the side of a highway! She was meant to be in our family. We had a friend who was about to have a baby girl, and I was discussing some possible names with my daughter who was then four. And the name “Rebecca” popped into my head. The next day, I went on Petfinder and found our Rebecca. I just fell in love with her sweet face in this photo, and knew she’d be the perfect dog for us. She was transported on a rescue truck to NH, where we picked her up. That was in August 2006, and she’s been the best family member, writing companion, and dog sister to Anya, who’s an only child. She’s playful, yet mellow, and so very tolerant. And she’s doesn’t bark often, only when alerting us to someone at the door. She’s definitely the best dog in the universe!!”

 

 lukeandfrodoAs for me, I have THREE dogs, and couldn’t begin to pick which one is the best. Instead, I’ll just volunteer them as adorable, and much-loved. Here are two of them, the tiniest (Frodo) and the hugest (Luke) making the best of a warm spring afternoon on our front porch.

 

Finally, you may be wondering what Laurie’s dog thinks of her mother’s new masterpiece. Laurie says, “My dog, Prim, loves the title, but wonders why the dog in the book looks nothing like her.”

 

lauriethompsondog
PrimII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, is your dog actually the best? Tell us all about that special pup in a comment, and get a chance to win a giveaway! To purchase this outstanding book, check out these links:

University Books (for “authographed” copies!)

Indiebound

Macmillan Kids

Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble

 

 

 

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Susan Vaught

Susan Vaught is the author of many books for young adults, such as TRIGGER, BIG FAT MANIFESTO, and FREAKS LIKE US. Her debut novel for middle-grade readers, FOOTER DAVIS PROBABLY IS CRAZY, published by Simon & Schuster, hit the shelves in March, 2015. Please visit Susan at her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.

 

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