Author Archives: Janet Fox

About Janet Fox

author of award-winning books for children and young adults

The Joy of Having A Literary Family

Golly. It felt like just yesterday that I was invited to join the EMUs Debuts group. Within these walls I’ve found support, comfort, wisdom, and joy. I am so lucky.

There’s no greater gift for a writer than the gift of colleagues. The writing life is lonely – it’s a solitary profession, with much angst and middle-of-the-night worries. When I’m writing, I am isolated in my little bubble. Sure, I’m in the company of characters, but they are usually misfits – misguided creatures who are trying to find their way out of sometimes dreadful circumstances. Sitting back in my chair to take a breather makes me realize just how isolated I am.

But I’m not truly isolated when I have friends like the friends I have

If you are just starting out on the path to publication I strongly encourage you to find a group like this one. There are many out there: through SCBWI, through independent groups on Facebook, through your grad program (mine is Vermont College of Fine Arts), through your local writing connections, through debut author collectives. Join. Commiserate. Share. Support. You’ll thank your lucky stars.

Which is what I’m doing right now – thanking all of you here who have given me so much.


IMG_8226bJanet Fox is the author of the recently released THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE (Viking). Find more about her at




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How to Handle a Book Launch Without Falling On Your Pen

In one week, I’ll be overseeing my fifth book launch. Obviously, this isn’t a new thing for me, but oh how it feels like a nail-biter! With the wisdom of hindsight and the fear of foresight, I thought I’d throw out some (tongue-in-cheek) tips on making your book launch a success.

  1. Throw a party. The bigger the better. Invite everyone you know in town: your dentist, your dog-groomer, your auto mechanic. Approach strangers on the sidewalk with invitations. They aren’t middle grade age? That doesn’t matter – they probably know someone who is middle grade age. Or you could flatter them: “Gosh, you don’t look a day over thirteen!”
  1. Serve lots of food. Lots and lots of food. Cakes, cupcakes and cookies are best. Those sweet carbs will lull your audience into a soporific haze of


    willingness to buy, buy, buy.

  1. Hire a band. I’m thinking that, for my novel set in Scotland, I’ll find someone to play bagpipes.
  1. Read a ton from your book. By the seventh ten-page scene, your audience will be begging to buy your book and head home so they can immerse themselves in their new purchase.
  1. Give away cool swag. Think outside the box: bookmarks are so last century. What about puppies? Everyone wants a puppy! Or a kitten!
  1. Advertise. Remember the good old days, when guys wore sandwich boards? Why not try it? Wear a costume underneath the board to get people excited. Chickens are all the rage in costume-wear. Gosh, wear that get-up at the party and you’re sure to engage your audience.


    Cute, right?

  1. Blast social media. More Facebook posts, more tweets, more Instagram photos about your book will catch more readers! Experts say you need to tweet about your book every two minutes to grab that new, refreshing audience. Be sure to stop and tweet your book during your book launch party – pausing in the middle of those ten-page scenes – for that “Live From Your Bookstore” experience.

That’s it – the sum total of my wisdom. I really hope not to follow my own advice.


Janet Fox is the author of 5 books for young readers. Her newest, THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE, is out next week from Viking. She’s never dressed in a chicken costume and has no intention of doing so now. You can, however, find her at


Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Book Launch, Uncategorized

Pajama Party!

It’s relHow To Put Your Parents To Bed Coverease week for Mylisa Larsen’s sweet and hilarious (yes, both!) HOW TO PUT YOUR PARENTS TO BED and we’re starting out with a pajama party! And a contest!! So you have to check out the ending of this post, because you’ll really, really want to participate in the contest.

First, a few of us reading – or not – in pajamas – or not – our favorite books, or hugging our favorite dogs, or our favorite dogs reading their favorite books, or…


Anya Gianferrari, not yet reading…

Carole Gerber

Carole Gerber, reading surprise!

Andrea Wang son + Mochi

Mochi Wang, serving as a bookrest…








Trixie Florence

Trixie Florence, reading about breakfast…



Jason & Brodie

Jason and Brodie, dreaming about reading…








Kevin Fox, putting his gram to bed…

Elly & Lucy Swartz

Elly & Lucy Swartz, reading a favorite.


Mylisa herself, ready to waddle off.





Tyler & Ben Reynolds

Tyler & Ben Reynolds reading their puppy to sleep.














We hope you’ll join us in our party!

Comment on this post, or share on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #PutParents2Bed,  to be entered to win a copy of the book and a gift certificate for pajamas from Lazy One. See the official rules here: The contest will run until April 1.

Find out more about Mylisa and her books here and order your own copy of HOW TO PUT YOUR PARENTS TO BED here.




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Practical Matters: School Visits

With my new book coming out in early spring, I’m beginning to book school visits again after a three-year lapse. In that interim I’ve learned a few practical things – beyond the fun of preparing the presentation – that I thought I’d share, and I’d like to open a “suggestion box” for everyone in this talented group to pitch in with their own ideas.

Before the visit:

  • It helps to establish a fee structure that is both realistic and fair to you and the school. I’d suggest that before you book your first visit, talk to colleagues and find out how much they charge. Remember to include expenses, especially if your visit is at a distance. Most authors do Skype visits for free or a nominal fee; a lot of authors offer free or low-cost visits to local schools.
  • I try not to book more than one visit a month unless they are back-to-back in the same region. Writing comes first!

When the visit is booked:

  • If the visit includes fees, expense reimbursements, and an understanding of technology requirements, I find it helps to send the school a contract. SCBWI has a model contract in their resource database for members that I modified for my use.


    My packet (center) with cover letter and poster – made using Word.

  • I send that contract, together with a packet I’ve created, to the school contact person. In the packet is the following:
    • A brief cover letter that directs the contact person to my website and my free downloadable study guides and cover jpegs, and expresses my excitement about the visit.
    • A complete brochure that details each of my books, with synopsis, awards, and reviews.
    • A ready-made poster with the date left blank that the contact person can fill in and post.
    • A swag packet of bookmarks, etc.
  • I’m now following the suggestion of some colleagues to supply one copy of each of my in-print books to the school. I order the books to be drop-shipped to the school as soon as the visit is booked. This accomplishes several things: I’ve found that the school doesn’t always have copies of my books on hand; students who are interested can read ahead of the visit; I get credit for the book sales; I create good will with my contact person. I’ve found that the expense is small, and I fold the cost into my fee.


    Swag and interior packet materials.

During the visit:

  • I try to bring bookmarks or other swag to hand out.
  • I try to have someone take a few photos (quality video is even better if possible) that I can post to my website or use for publicity.
  • If a bookseller is not involved with my visit, I’ve arranged with my local indie to bring a one-page order form for my books with me. Many kids won’t buy books before the visit but will be excited afterwards, and that’s when they’ll want to order. I ask the contact person at the school to collect the order forms and checks made out to my indie (I add something for shipping) and send the forms to me. My indie orders the books, I sign them, and then I send them in bulk back to the school.

After the visit:

  • I send a brief thank-you to the contact person, following up with any reimbursements and orders.

That’s what I’ve got – if you have suggestions please add!


IMG_8226bJanet Fox is the author of a number of books for young readers. Her debut middle grade novel, The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, launches on March 15, 2016 from Viking.


Filed under Advice, School Author Visits, Uncategorized

Clearing The Path

Not too long ago I tackled one of those (kind of miserable) projects to which there is no alternative but hard work. I had to remove the grass that had grown for years between pavers and was progressing to cover the walkway completely. The only way to remove said grass was to get down on my hands and knees with a couple of sharp turf knives. I’m not fond of chemicals and with this kind of growth? No alternatives to using muscle and making sweat.


The path before.

I decided to spend an hour every morning, an hour that coincided with consuming my second cup of coffee, on hands and knees and getting the job done a bit at a time. That way my back could recover after each foray, I’d feel accomplished for the day, and the job would, in fact, get done. Eventually.

It took me about two weeks all told, but I’ve removed the grass, and I can assure you it won’t be allowed to regrow there. The path looks terrific and I enjoy walking on it again. It frames my garden as it should. It feels nice underfoot. I’ve saved something I almost lost.

As with all things in life, metaphors to writing abound.

That grass was really stubborn. The knives had to be re-sharpened every day – sometimes twice a day (thank you, DH). Some places had to be dug deeper and deeper – the roots had become entwined and grown right under the pavers. Sometimes the grass pulled up in a long intact piece, like peeling a banana – especially where it had grown across the rocks so the roots had no soil.

I’ve been struggling with a revision of a piece that I adore but that I wrote a long time ago. It needs a lot of work. The roots of words, in places, have dug in deep. In other places, the roots are so shallow they have no foundation. The story and the character had both disappeared underneath a pretty but choking mat of wordy growth. It’s been hard for me to find my way and re-expose the stuff that’s important.


And after

I’m figuratively on my hands and knees and my back gets cramped, and I have to stand up every so often and take another gulp of coffee. I can only work on this for so long before I need a break.

Yet, bit by bit, little by little, the pathway is reopening. My story is revealing itself again after having nearly been smothered. I have to remind myself that this is painstaking work (just ask my back) and that it will take time, but that each day brings a new revelation, and each effort exposes more of the story and more of the character, and eventually, when I stand back, I’ll be delighted.

And that’s the way we writers roll, do we not?

(ps in case you’re curious: I was told that white vinegar spray would kill grass just as effectively as a commercial herbicide – and it does! It’ll be very easy to spray the new invaders now that I’ve done the hard work.)


Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise

Norse Mythology Reinterpreted

I love mythology, and Norse mythology is one of those mystical landscapes I haven’t explored very much. So when I learned that Adam Shaughnessy’s book THE ENTIRELY TRUE STORY OF THE UNBELIEVABLE FIB is based partly on Norse mythology…well, I’m salivating. I had to ask Adam all about it…

I’m a complete sucker for anything mythological. What appeals to you about Norse mythology in particular? (And what is it about that squirrel??)

I’m a sucker for mythology, too! As far as the Norse myths go, I think my love for them starts with the cosmology of the stories. At the center of the universe of Norse mythology is Yggdrasil, a giant ash tree. Yggdrasil is so big it holds three whole worlds in its branches (or roots, depending on who you ask). There’s Asgard, the world of the gods; Midgard, the world of mortals; and Niflheim, the world of the dead. Each world is divided into various regions, but that’s the basic layout. That’s the stage on which the characters in the myths perform—and it is a vast and varied cast of characters, to say the least!

fib_coverPerhaps my favorite character, though, in the Norse pantheon is Ratatosk, the squirrel. Now, the fact that he’s a squirrel might not sound too impressive at first. But remember that the axis of this mythical universe is an enormous tree! And in the land of the tree, the squirrel is king. Well, okay, Ratatosk isn’t a king. He’s better. He’s a messenger. But according to the myths, most of the messages Ratatosk carries are insults. There’s an eagle at the top of Yggdrasil and a dragon at the bottom who hate each other. They send Ratatosk back and forth with nasty messages. This makes Ratatosk, for all intents and purposes, a talking insult squirrel.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Another thing that fascinates me about the Norse myths is that they end. There’s a sequence of myths that tell how the Norse gods will die. They predict a final battle, called Ragnarok, between gods and giants. Most of the gods meet their end in that battle (though they take the giants and their villainous allies with them).

If we consider that these stories were embraced by the fatalistic Vikings, then I think there’s a lot to think about in terms of the relationship between people and stories. To what degree do we shape the stories we tell, and to what degree do the stories we tell shape us?

 What are the parallels between FIB and Norse mythology?

Interesting question! I enjoy myths in which the gods have flaws. I like to see my own imperfections reflected in the gods so I can see the struggles I have in life played out on a grand and magical scale (that looks a little vain in writing…).

So perhaps it’s not surprising that there are parallels between the Norse gods who take center stage in my book and my main characters, who—in many ways—represent aspects of my own personality. Pru, for example, is hot tempered, like Thor. She’s also clever and more than slightly mischievous, like Loki. ABE is wise beyond his years and very observant, like Odin. He also loves riddles, though, so he’s got a bit of Loki’s cleverness in him, too. And Mister Fox? Mister Fox and Loki are cut very much from the same cloth: sly all over.

What is the unbelievable fib? And if you can’t reveal, can you give us some round-about hints?

Let’s see how well I can answer this without giving too much away! The book starts with a question: WHAT IS THE UNBELIEVABLE FIB? As the story progresses, my hope is that readers will discover different levels of answers to that question.

On the surface, the “UNBELIEVABLE FIB” is an acronym—but I won’t tell you what for!

(Check out these Shaughnessy_FIB_funfacts .) Shaughnessy_FIB_funfacts

But there’s another “UNBELIEVABLE FIB” beneath the surface. The book is a mystery. It’s not so much a Whodunit as a Whoisit mystery. The main character has to identify the villain’s identity. To do that, she must discover which one of her new friends is lying (or, shall we say, telling an unbelievable fib) to her.

Finally, there’s another possible answer to the book’s initial question that deals with the main character’s emotional journey and the lies we so often tell to children—sometimes (though not always) with the best of intentions. I’ll let readers identify that “UNBELIEVABLE FIB” for themselves.

Or maybe I’m fibbing, and “THE UNBELIEVABLE FIB” is something completely different! Honestly, I wouldn’t put it past me…

So…magic, right? Norse magic? Or something else?

In The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB, beings from Norse mythology invade a small New England community. Not everyone can see these magical beings, though. Only certain people in the book can experience magic.

That’s a common convention in stories for children. Often, the people who can experience magic are the ones who believe in it. But this is the world of “THE UNBELIEVABLE FIB.” Belief has a different role. In my book, belief blinds people to magic. It’s the people who aren’t sure what they believe that experience magic—the uncertain people, the people who are still trying to make sense of the world and are therefore open to possibility. That’s where the book’s tagline comes from: “The truth is out there; don’t believe it!”

And I have to ask about the giants, because I love giants.

There’s a lot to love about giants, especially the giants in Norse mythology (and not just because they’re big)! The Norse giants are an intriguing group. By the end of the cycle of myths, they’re the villains. When Ragnarok (that final, apocalyptic battle I mentioned) arrives, the giants ally themselves with the most terrible monsters of the myths and wage war on the gods of Asgard.

But here’s the interesting thing: there are many instances throughout the rest of the myths in which the giants and the gods get along just fine. They do more than get along, in fact. They become friends. They get married. They have adventures together. And yet, by the end of the cycle of myths, they’re mortal enemies.

The character of Loki encapsulates this dichotomous dynamic and violent progression. Loki is a giant who lives among the gods. He is their friend and ally in the early myths. He is Odin’s blood brother, in fact, and Thor’s frequent traveling companion (and foil). By the end, though, Loki has become the embodiment of evil. He murders Baldur, Odin’s son, an act that sets in motion the events that lead to Ragnarok. And, in the end, he and his children lead the war against the gods.But why? Why do Loki and the giants go from friends of the gods to foes? I think that’s an interesting question.

And, as it turns out, that’s the very question I address in the second book of the Unbelievable FIB series. So this seems like a perfect place to stop!

Leave a comment, and be entered for a chance to win a copy!

Here’s where you can buy your very own copy of The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB!!




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Dragon Versus Knight! The Age-Old Fight…

In days of old, when knights were bold…they fought the dragons that plagued the stained glass of cathedral windows. The knights usually won.Rogier_van_der_Weyden_-_Saint_George_and_the_Dragon,_NGA,_Washington

I rather like dragons, myself (scaly, slimy, fire-breathing beasts that they are), and wondered how many other EMUs shared my sentiments. In honor of Penny Parker Klosterman’s There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight launch I thought I’d pose the question. Here are the interesting results:

Maria Gianferrari said, “In dragon vs. knight battles, I’d always be in favor of dragons. And the dragon in Penny’s book is so cute! I especially love his purple horns, and expressive eyebrows.”

Debbi Michiko Florence agrees: “Dragon. I have always had a soft spot for animals (I have my degree in Zoology).”

Jason Gallaher added, “I’ve got to say I’m very pro-Dragon. I think they’re just misunderstood critters. Plus, everyone has got to eat, so we can’t really blame the guy for wanting lunch.”

Mylisa Larsen also: “Dragon. Because the knights often seem to be asking for it in a lot of the tales and there’s just nothing cooler than a dragon. Even when a dragon is of the evil variety, it ends up being more interesting than the knight somehow.”

Tamara Smith said, “All I can think Dragon Cover High Res copyof is Toothless, who I adore, and who has brought my already love and support for dragons rise to the surface. They are like dogs or whales, aren’t they? Such wise souls…Sorry, knight, but my heart is with the mighty dragon.”

Luke Reynolds declared, “I would root for the dragon unless the knight is a kid!”

Laurie Thompson said, “I must confess I would root for the dragon. I’m too much of an animal lover not to.”

And Hayley Barrett added, “My heart is with the dragon for I love them and want one of my very own.”

(I’m with you, Hayley.) On the opposing team:

Luke Reynolds favors knights, and said, “My all time favorite knight: the young protagonist in The Sunflower Sword….”

Donna Janell Bowman added, “I would vote for the knight because dragons do not have opposable thumbs, which are required to hold the credit card that pays for the keyboard, that requires thumbs to hit the space bar, which is important for typing stories about knights and dragons.”

Carole Gerber replied, “I’m rooting for the knight because he’s the victim in this tale. I’m sure he was miserable while stuffed inside that dragon’s belly with all those other critters and things! However, the dragon is by far the cutest I have ever seen. (Though his innards are probably not attractive.)”

And then there were those who waffled (maybe waiting to see whether the dragon or the knight has the greater charm…):

Megan Morrison said, “It depends on the tale. I would rather BE the dragon than the knight, that’s for sure. One of my favorite knight-and-dragon duos is Hiccup and Toothless, from How to Train Your Dragon. I cried when Toothless first touched his head to Hiccup’s hand, and their relationship of trust really began. I loved that Hiccup made him a prosthetic fin that gave him the ability to fly again. I can’t wait until my son is just a little older, so that I can share the story with him.”

And Adam Shaughnessy said, “Trick question! Dragons and knights are both awesome, so they would totally team up and take on all challengers. (I can’t choose—I loved King Arthur stories and the Dragonrides of Pern series as a kid, so I can’t bring myself to take sides.)”dragons weapons fantasy art robes artwork spears veil 4158x2339 wallpaper_www.wallpaperhi.com_27

So, dear reader, what do you think? Dragon or knight? Certainly the dragon won this round. Don’t you want to read Penny’s charming book and find out what she thinks?

For personalized signed copies of There Was an Old Dragon, you can order from Texas Star Trading Co. and give your dedication details in the Gift Message box. You can also contact them by email at or call  (325) 672-9696.

You can find one at YOUR local indie bookstore here: Indiebound

Or, you can order online through Barnes and NobleAmazonBooks-A-Million, or Powell’s.

Of course, you can also try your luck: Comment on any post this week for a chance to win your very own SIGNED copy of There Was an Old Dragon.


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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


Filed under Book Launch, cover art

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.


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.


Filed under Book Giveaway, Book Launch

In It For The Long Haul

I’m a debut EMU (and so proud of it!) but this is not my first rodeo. I’m the author of four published books. The first, a little non-fiction book, I sold myself and it’s still ticking away. The second and third were novels sold by my previous agent, and the fourth was solicited by my publisher.

My hometown indie, Country Bookshelf

My hometown indie, Country Bookshelf

With each launch I’ve felt the same sense of trepidation – that feeling never goes away. After all, you want the world to greet every one of your babies with love. You want each to soar. You’ve suffered through multiple revisions with each (that never goes away, either) and there are times when you’ve felt you can’t make another book.

Not to dampen your enthusiasm but here are a few sobering statistics, courtesy of marketing guru Tim Grahl:

  • the number of books published in 2013 – 750,000
  • the number of copies most sell in their first year – fewer than 250
  • most sell fewer than 2000 copies in their lifetime
  • odds of being stocked in a bookstore – less than 1%

I’ve been on both sides of these statistics. I’ve sold upwards of 20,000 copies of two of my books, and fewer than 2000 of one (which has gone out of print.) Ironically, the out-of-print book garnered awards and high praise. There are no guarantees that any one book will rise above the huge crowd of competitors. And let’s not even talk about earning a living wage.

But that’s where it’s all about sticking with it. Because, first, this is what we do, isn’t it? We write. And when we finish one book we write the next. Because we can’t imagine living in a world in which we aren’t writing.

And second, here’s the good, if not great news. If you feel as passionate as I do about writing, and you keep writing, and honing your craft, and making each book the best you can in that moment, you will indeed find an audience. Most authors do not spring out of the box as best sellers like Athena springing from the head of Zeus. Most authors who gather an audience do so bit by bit, book by book. With each book, new readers come to the library. With each book, appreciative booksellers grow in number. With each book, reviewers and librarians sit up and take notice. This career has a very, very long tail, and readers can and will discover your earlier work when they fall in love with your newer work.

I tell beginning writers that, as soon as they finish (and polish and vet and polish again) that first manuscript, and hit the send button, they should begin working on their next book. That beauty of a debut may be a hit and, if so, fantastic! But more often than not, readers find authors they love because the authors they love keep writing, and with each book readers want the next.

Write every day. Write the next book. Build a body of work. Build an audience, book by book. I’m in it for the long haul because writing is what I love to do and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

IMG_8226bJanet Fox writes award-winning fiction and non-fiction for children of all ages. Her published works include the non-fiction middle grade book GET ORGANIZED WITHOUT LOSING IT (Free Spirit, 2006), and three YA historical romances: FAITHFUL (Speak/Penguin Group, 2010), FORGIVEN (2011), and SIRENS (2012). Janet’s debut middle grade novel THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE is an historical fantasy set in 1940 Scotland (Viking, 2016). Janet is a 2010 graduate of the MFA/Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she lives in Bozeman, Montana. You can also find her at


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