Tag Archives: debut

Breezy Battles and Baseball Bloopers, Plus a HUGE Giveaway!

I left you (and Sly Stallone) hanging yesterday, but now I’m back to give you exactly what I promised and more!Cliffhanger 2

Yesterday, GOOGLE IT! author Anna Crowley Redding gamely answered questions about her past work as an investigative television reporter.  I saved an extra-special, best-for-last anecdote for today’s post.

Anna, what is your funniest memory from when you were on TV?

There are a lot, but one comes to mind. I was asked to throw the first pitch out for Charlotte, NC’s minor league team. I did not grow up playing sports, so I was secretly VERY nervous about this whole proposition. I practiced and practiced and practiced. I really just wanted the ball to make it to the plate.Anna Baseball 1

I get to the ballpark, they call my name, and I head out there to get ready. But I was in big trouble immediately. What I did not prepare for… was the catcher. He was so handsome! I mean, he looked like he had just walked off a soap opera set . . . and he smiled at me just as I started to throw the ball. Anna Baseball 2I don’t even know where the ball went, but certainly nowhere near the plate. To say it was embarrassing is an understatement.

Even worse, I had to anchor the news the next morning for three hours. My co-anchor had video of the whole thing and played it over and over again, and every time, I turned from serious journalist into this puddle of giggles. Oh, Lawdy! That was a doozie.

As we wrap up this interview, Anna, I have to ask you the question that’s on everyone’s mind. What is the weirdest, wackiest, most way-out topic you’ve ever…Googled?

Most of my random Google searches come from my boys (ages 6 and 9), and it goes like this “Hey, Google! Tornado vs. Hurricane. What happens?” And luckily, we always get a solid answer!

 

That’s one big-time battle of the breezes!

Anna’s Google search highlight is way more exciting than mine, but I happen to know that if you Google “Squirrel Expert,” Squirrel gradyou’ll find one. I did!

Many thanks, Anna, and congratulations on your debut book, GOOGLE IT! IMG_8310

GIVEAWAY ALERT! To celebrate the launch of Google It: A History of Google,  Teachers and Librarians have a chance to win a classroom set of 25 copies! The lucky winner will also receive a classroom set of Google It! bookmarks plus a free Skype visit. A winner will be picked on September 4, 2018. Click here to enter.

 


About Hayley BarrettHayley's Author Photo-2 MB-JPEG

I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming in fall 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka. GIRL VS. SQUIRREL, a funny STEM-based picture book illustrated by Renée Andriani, is coming from Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House in spring 2020. I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

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Filed under Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Celebrations, Interviews, Launch, middle grade, nonfiction, Uncategorized

The BLUE SKY WHITE STARS All-American Author Interview! Plus a Recipe!

Cue the marching band! Light the fireworks! It’s time for an All-American Author Interview! 

I asked Blue Sky White Stars author Sarvinder Naberhaus  about her favorite American foods, pastimes, and traditions. Here’s the scoop:

The 4th of July is coming, and you’re invited to my backyard barbecue bash. What tasty treat should I grill up for you? A hot dog? A hamburger? Something else entirely?

A grilled hamburger is good, but so is a grilled hot dog. It’s probably a toss-up, but I’d top either of them with barbecue sauce. 

Barbecue sauce on a dog or burger?! That’s some American ingenuity, right there. I’ll forgo my usual ketchup-mustard-relish-onions combo next time and try it. 

Batter up! We’re headed off to enjoy America’s favorite pastime — a baseball game. When the snack vendor comes our way, do you want peanuts or Cracker Jack?

When I was young I’d walk to Pammel Grocery and buy Cracker Jack. I only bought them for the prize. I would eat them, but never really liked them. I lived for the prize. 

Here you go, Sarvinder. All the prizes just for you.

Happy Thanksgiving! Do you choose a slice of apple pie or pumpkin pie? And what’s your favorite side dish?

Definitely pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Favorite side dish? French Silk Pie! 

Pie on the side? That takes the cake!

My kids love my pumpkin bars too, so I’ll share the recipe at the end of this post. 

Have you ever visited Washington D.C. and the Smithsonian museums? Which was your favorite? 

The Air and Space Museum. I’m fascinated with the stars and wanted to be an astronaut, hence the ending of Blue Sky White Stars. 

Readers will have to rocket to their nearest library or bookstore to see BLUE SKY WHITE STAR’s spectacular ending. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are stratospherically stunning. 

It’s a perfect summer night with exactly zero mosquitoes. I’ve packed the station wagon with snacks and pillows. Let’s go to the drive-in! Which classic American film should we see? *crosses her fingers for JAWS*

My favorite movie is THE SOUND OF MUSIC, but for the drive-in, I say GREASE. 

Speaking of summer blockbusters, I’ve revved up the DeLorean’s flux capacitor. Let’s time travel! Which famous American would you most like to meet? 

There are lots of people in BLUE SKY WHITE STARS that I’d like to meet, but I’d have to say Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

Great choice! I’d love to hear Half Pint’s stories first-hand. Can you imagine getting writing advice from her? Amazing. 

Nothing is more American than a… In that spirit, it’s time for the speed round. Hold on to your 10-gallon hat, Sarvinder!

 

Fireworks or fireflies?

Definitely fireflies on a warm July night, millions blinking over the fields of Iowa. A sight to behold. 

Jazz or Country? Country. My favorite singer is Amy Grant. 

Nascar or rodeo? Nascar.

Coke or Pepsi? Neither. Dr. Pepper!

On that appropriately independent note, I’d like to thank you, Sarvinder Naberhaus, for participating in this All-American Author Interview. And now, for the grand finale:

Sarvinder’s Famous Pumpkin Bars With Cream Cheese Frosting

Grease a 10 x 13 ” pan. Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together:

4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 c. sugar
2 c. pumpkin (1 15 oz. can)

Then add:

1 c. vegetable oil

Next add:

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Spread batter into pan. Bake 20 minutes. 

Frosting:

Soften 4 oz. cream cheese and 3/4 c. butter (1 1/2 sticks)
Blend cream cheese and butter with 1 tsp. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 3/4 c. powdered sugar until smooth. (Frosting recipe can be doubled. Freeze half for another day.)

Frost cooled pumpkin sheet cake and cut into bars. 

Enjoy while reading BLUE SKY WHITE STARS. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I write for young people and live to make kids laugh. My picture book BABYMOON celebrates the birth of a new family and is coming from Candlewick Press. WHAT MISS MITCHELL SAW, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is coming in spring 2019 from Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane Books and will be illustrated by Diana Sudyka.
I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

 

(Vendor photo: Apr 5, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Ballpark vendor Chico Sakulsky sells peanuts and Cracker Jack before the Pittsburgh Pirates play the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

 

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Filed under Celebrations, Inspiration, Interviews, Uncategorized

My Friend, Fear

fear-quotes-growth

Fear is a fickle friend. I mean at first glance it’s hard to imagine her as your lunch buddy, but as time goes on, you understand her subtle ways. Confession – I’m not always the bravest. I’m scared of hairy/crunchy/large bugs, heights, the dark, mice crawling over my sandals at the movies. You get the picture. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that as publication for my debut mg novel, Finding Perfect, inches closer, so does fear. She visits with some regularity these days. She accompanies me when I hit send to my editor and when I venture into uncharted territory, like this week at the New England Independent Bookseller Association Author Reception. This is me at the reception hanging with Gillian Kohli, owner of the amazing Wellesley Books and president of NEIBA. (Fear aside, the night was amazing.)

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Fear tugs at my chest as the years/months to publication dwindle to days. When my daily activities of marketing, tweeting, blogging, signing, visiting school, and participating in panels, all fall outside of my comfort zone and squarely into the box marked ARE-YOU-KIDDING. But it’s in these moments that I have begun to see fear less as my-roller-coaster-going-to-throw-up foe, and more as my you’ve-got-this friend. You see, fear is what has taught that to grow I need to learn and to learn I need to step beyond what’s comfortable. I need to embrace the itchy, the awkward, the feared. I need to welcome all of it. Because it’s in those moments when the real magic happens.

So as the days to publication now number 26, I say, bring it on! The fear, the challenge, the awkward itchiness.  Let’s do this thing!

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Elly Swartz’s debut middle grade novel, FINDING PERFECT, comes out October 18th, 2016 with Farrar, Straus and Giroux. FINDING PERFECT is about a twelve-year-old girl named Molly, friendship, family, OCD, and a slam poetry competition that will determine everything. She happily lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her family. If you want to connect with Elly or learn more about what she’s working on next, you can find her at www.ellyswartz.com, on Twitter @ellyswartz or Facebook.

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Filed under Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Anxiety, Writing and Life

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?

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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.

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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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The Name of the Game

Jennifer Bertman’s thrilling debut novel, BOOK SCAVENGER, centers around an intriguing game of clues, hidden books, and a mysterious prize. People play games for all sorts of reasons:  fun, relaxation, family time, or even just a little healthy competition.

Book-Scavenger-coverWe asked the EMUs to pick their favorite games of all time, and they were happy to share! For many of us it was impossible to narrow it down to just one. Choices ranged from classic board games to outdoor games to RPGs (role-playing games, for the uninitiated).

For starters, we have several hard-core Parcheesi enthusiasts. Who knew?

Janet Fox: “Parcheesi!! I loved it. We used to play it as a family every Sunday afternoon – it was a ritual. Even my mom and dad joined in. Just looking at the box gives me the warm fuzzies.”

Susan Vaught: “I adored Parcheesi as well, played it endlessly. It became a bloodsport with my friends, sending people back to start/home! Bwaahahaha! I was always yellow, and I had NO MERCY.”

Luke Reynolds: “I was a Parcheesi wild man! My grandpa and I played every time he came over to babysit and I absolutely loved it.”

Then we have the miscellaneous board game fans, including one unrepentant cheater:

Courtney Pippin-Mathur: “Trouble board game. The one with the bubble in the middle that held the dice. So, every turn was like popping a giant piece of bubble wrap.”

Trouble GameDonna Bowman Bratton: “As a kid, my family would sometimes gather for game night. I remember playing Clue, Tripoli, and PayDay. I especially loved PayDay, an alternative to Monopoly, because unlike Monopoly, it could be played without investing a humongous chunk of my life.”

Christine Hayes: “Growing up, my sister and I had a closet full of board games, and we played them all: Monopoly, Stratego, Mastermind, Bonkers, Battleship, Trouble, Mousetrap, Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Lay an Egg, The Muppet Show Game, Clue, Life, Sorry, Operation…and I know I’m forgetting a bunch more. I’m surprised those games had any pieces left by the time we were done wearing them out. But my absolute, all-time favorite game, even now, is Scrabble. I usually have to bribe people to play it with me.”

Elaine Braithwaite Vickers: “We had an awesome friend in high school who would host Monopoly tournaments and I would ALWAYS cheat. And therefore, I would almost always win. I justified it by announcing that I was going to cheat beforehand, and letting my friend’s vigilant older sister specifically watch me. But extra money still found its way to my pile.”

Next, the classics, jacks and jump rope:

Rebecca Van Slyke: “When I was in 5th and 6th grade the ‘in’ thing was playing jacks at recess. We had endless variations that we played. I can still feel the tiny rocks on the asphalt digging into my knees as we worked our way from ‘One-sies’ to ‘Ten-sies.'”

Carole Gerber: “Double dutch jump rope.”

JacksTamara Smith: “One of my favorite games as a kid was Chinese jump rope. Remember that one? With the stretchy circular rope? You’d put it around two people’s ankles and the third person would jump in this particular pattern (In, Out, Side, Side, On, In, Out. I remember it, wow!!!) and then once you successfully executed it you’d raise the rope and do it again. I usually played it with one friend and so we had to use a chair too. We’d play for HOURS.”

And our self-professed video game addict:

Megan Morrison: “My favorite games of all time are BioWare’s amazing, fully absorbing and addictive RPGs (role-playing video games, for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about). But I would never have found those games–would never have given them a chance–if it weren’t for the fact that as a 7th-grader, I spent a few months in the grip of a video-game fever that left me changed. That was the year I became obsessed with Super Mario Bros. I had to save the princess. HAD TO SAVE HER. This was back in the days when video games were punishing; you couldn’t save your progress. If you ran out of lives, you had to start All. The way. Over. You essentially had to memorize every single move in the entire game and repeat your memorized moves perfectly in order to achieve victory. Oh sure, if you really knew what you were doing, if you were dedicated, you could warp. You could even get tons of extra lives. (I did both.) But kids today, with their fancy “Load Last Save Game” options, just don’t know the devastation, the perspiration, the unchecked thrill of beating a game that wants to make you sob and throw the controller so hard that you break the Nintendo console. Wait. No. None of those things happened. It was all very above board. Plus, the console wasn’t even mine – I went to my best friend’s house after school every day and played for hours on her little brother’s console. That’s how hooked I was. Super Mario Bros. should have just been labeled ‘Crack’. That would have been more honest.”

Of course, we have a few EMUs who love EVERYTHING:

Penny Parker Klostermann: “Picking a favorite game is hard for me because  I like games of all sorts. As a kid I loved Hide-n-Seek and Sardines. I, also, liked playing Monopoly, Go Fish, and Liver Pool Rummy with my family. As an adult, I love tennis…especially doubles because I like the strategy involved. And I keep several games of Words With Friends going and enjoy playing all sorts of Solitaire.”

Laurie Ann Thompson: “As a kid, I loved playing Risk, Scrabble, and the card game we called Bull$hit. As a teen, I loved playing Dungeons & Dragons. I spent my 20s playing Sid Meier’s Civilization, Alpha Centauri, and Age of Empires. Now, our family plays a lot of board games like Dominion, Settlers of Cataan, and Splendor. And I hate to admit it, but I have a weakness for iOS games including Candy Crush, Ticket to Ride online, and–my latest guilty pleasure–Bonza.”

candy crushAnd last but not least, our epic outdoorsman and women:

Maria Gianferrari: “When we were kids, we played mostly imaginative outdoor games: when we ran through the culvert, we were playing ‘journey to the center of the earth.’ We squished in the muddy river and dug clay and played ‘Coney Island’ (don’t know why—but that was where we were)! We also used to play Little House on the Prairie in our elderly neighbor’s old barn. Other favorites: kick the can and many a game of hide-and-seek in the adjacent cornfield, lots of Frisbee and kick soccer (which some people call kick baseball). Our current favorite family game is Dominion, a deck-building card game. We often host game nights here and play with friends.”

Adam Shaughnessy: “I will always have a soft spot for Capture the Flag. This is probably because of one glorious day in the summer of 1982. My camp had an all-camp extravaganza match. The word epic was created so that we would have a term to describe that particular game. It culminated when my friend Max stole his twin brother Leo’s spare set of clothes from his swim locker and–masquerading as his brother–strolled across enemy territory, orchestrated a save-the-game jailbreak, and managed to get the other team’s flag in a maneuver that (in my opinion) still represents the pinnacle of covert operations.”

Mylisa Larsen: “My favorite game as a kid happened on summer nights when the grownups had kind of given up on a reasonable bedtime and no one was really paying too much attention to what we were doing. We lived behind our grandma’s house and her front lawn ran along a road. We’d play this game where we’d stand on the the edge of her lawn and wait until a car came over the rise. When the beam from the headlights hit the mailbox down the road, you’d start running like a maniac across the lawn and parallel to the road. The object of the game was to run fast enough that you stayed ahead of the headlights and then, just a split second before the lights picked you up, you’d dive into this empty ditch on the far side of the lawn. No, our mother did not know about this game. And, looking back, I wonder If we were as invisible to the drivers as we thought we were or if they were driving along on a beautiful summer night and then there were three crazed children tumbling into a ditch and they were ‘What the heck?'”

Whew! Are you in the mood to go out and play? Better yet, grab a copy of BOOK SCAVENGER at one of the following links:

Amazon.com

Powell’s

Books a Million

Indiebound

Barnes & Noble

For more info about BOOK SCAVENGER, including details about how to join in the book hiding and seeking fun, visit the official web site: Book Scavenger.

PLUS, don’t forget to comment for your chance to win a signed copy of BOOK SCAVENGER!!!

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From the Files of FOOTER DAVIS (and Friends)

Susan Vaught’s disarming, delightful, devourable middle-grade debut features a trio of young people who are truly worth spending time with. Luckily, in FOOTER DAVIS MIGHT BE PROBABLY IS CRAZY, we get a chance to know these wonderful characters intimately, as Susan lets us peek inside their journals. We get to read Footer’s school papers, complete with doodles, tangential thinking, and teacher commentary. We watch over her shoulder as she lists and crosses out information that’s key to her uncovering the truth about the fire. We keep track of Peavine’s detective journal, where he faithfully records all suspect interviews and makes his personal observations in the form of stage directions. We even get glimpses into Angel’s astronaut journal, when she puts her oar into the investigation.

Susan so deftly uses these devices to draw us ever deeper into the world of Bugtussle that it got us thinking: What other books do we love that make use of characters’ journals and notebooks as central elements of the stories?

From the nifty notebook of Penny Parker Klostermann:

I loved THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson. The main character, Lennie, writes poems on scraps of paper, lollipop wrappers, to-go cups, etc. The poems are interwoven in the story to give readers a glimpse of Lennie’s emotional journey as she deals with the untimely death of her sister. The inclusion of the poetry is powerful and moving.

In EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN by Lindsey Lane, main character, Tommy, disappears. We learn about Tommy from other characters that answer the sheriff’s questions and speculate about his disappearance. But Lane also includes excerpts from Tommy’s journal which add to the mystery of his disappearance.

From the dangerous diary of Mylisa Larsen:

One of my favorite uses of a notebook in a book is Vida’s (“My public calls me Velveeta.”) letters to Calvin in Bluefish.  You’ll have a couple chapters of narration and then you’ll read one of Velveeta’s letters and getting to see what happens to Vida from the outside (narration) and the inside (the letters) is fascinating.

From the marvelous missives of Megan Morrison:

Right now, I’m rereading MONSTER, by Walter Dean Myers – a powerful book about a young, black male who is on trial for murder. The protagonist, Steve Harmon, deals with the surreality of his situation by setting down every word and action of the experience as if it’s happening in a film. The book flips between the courtroom scenes, which are formatted exactly like a screenplay, and Steve’s personal journal, scrawled in his messy handwriting. The journal is where Steve becomes vulnerable and emotional, processing the horror of his situation on a more personal level. The journal is where he deals with the fact that, after court is finished each day, he has to face the realities of jail, where he might well be stuck forever.

From the fabulous files of Maria Gianferrari:

One of the most ingenious ways I’ve seen visuals incorporated into a story, literally, is in Jennifer L. Holm’s Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff. As the subtitle suggests, newspaper clippings, to-do lists, report cards, post-it notes, school assignments, even police blotters about garden gnomes and wheelchairs gone missing (thanks to Ginny’s older juvenile delinquent brother) are woven into the fabric of the story.

I also love the way Abigail, the protagonist in Nancy J. Cavanaugh’s Always, Abigail narrates the story through a variety of letters, both sent, and un-sent as well as her favorite to-do lists. Cavanaugh also does a similar thing to great effect in This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, where homeschooled Ratchet tells the story in journal form where she writes poems and completes her school assignments, making it an emotionally engaging and fast-paced read.

From the authorial archives of Laurie Ann Thompson:

The first one that comes to mind for me would have to be the delightful Ellie McDoodle series, starting with Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel, by Ruth McNally Barshaw. Here’s a bit of that first book’s description:
Twelve-year-old Ellie McDougal, aka McDoodle, is a prisoner. Sentenced to a week-long camping trip with her aunt, uncle, and cousins, she is determined to hate every single minute of the experience. Thank goodness she at least has her sketch journal, in which she records all the excruciating details. Mosquito bites and trips to the Fred Moose Museum she can handle, but how will she keep her journal from falling into Er-ick the Enemy’s hands? And what will happen if-gasp-she actually starts having fun? Part graphic novel, part confessional journal, part wilderness survival guide, Ellie’s story is a treat for young campers, vacationers, or any kid looking for a great summer read.
I loved it, my sketchpad toting kid loved it, and everyone who has met Ruth can’t help but love her, too, so this one will always have a special place in my heart.

 

And finally, from the lyrical letters of Tamara Ellis Smith:

I second Ellie McDoodle!

And we all second, third, and fourth FOOTER DAVIS!

Footer Davis CvrWelcome, FOOTER, to the ranks of these unforgettable books.

 

Don’t forget, to enter the drawing for a free copy of FOOTER DAVIS MIGHT BE PROBABLY IS CRAZY, please comment on any post this week! 

You can also buy your own copy of Footer Davis at The Flying Pig BookstoreIndie BoundBarnes & Noble, or Amazon!

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With Joy and Trepidation

This is not my first debut.

Oxymoron? Not in publishing, where shifting genres allows an author to “debut” again (in my case from historical YA to fantasy middle grade). Plus I have the added delight of being a “debut” EMU, of joining this talented team of authors and being guided by my amazing new agent Erin Murphy.

That’s the joy part.

The trepidation comes from the realization that no matter how many novels I might have under my belt, releasing another into the world is fodder for the worst kind of self-doubt.

There are the standard questions: What if they hate it? What if I didn’t get it right? What if they ignore it entirely? And probably the most frightening: What if they think, She should’ve stuck to YA.

I’ve seen my share of successes – my first novel is still in print – and failures – my second is out of print. I’ve been to reader fests where young girls ask for my autograph, and I’ve sat at bookstore tables alone while crowds drift by, occasionally stopping to ask for directions to the loo.

Being an author is not for the faint-of-heart. Whether one is a debut-debut author or a semi-debut author, snaggle-toothed and hungry self-doubt, that enemy of art and artists everywhere, is waiting to pounce. What is an author to do besides crawl into the Cave of Quit?

David Bayles and Ted Orland in ART & FEAR say, You can only plunge ahead, even when that carries with it the bittersweet realization that you have already done your very best work. They’re right. Art can be great or it can be mediocre, but when you are an artist you have no choice but to make it, and keep on making it, and keep on keeping on, even while doubt stalks.

I have no choice but to venture in new directions with my art, plunging ahead, perhaps blindly and foolishly, but writing because I love it. (Joy!) Maybe this book will soar, or maybe sink, but I had to write this book. (Trepidation!) I have the pleasure of writing every single day. (Joy!) But for how much longer? (Trepidation!)

Bayles and Orland also say that the “operating manual for not quitting” is Make friends with others who make art. I’m here among the best of friends (Double Joy!) and I refuse to crawl into the cave.

Janet Fox’s debut middle grade novel, tentatively titled CHATELAINE, is set in a rundown Scottish castle during WWII. It features ghosts, spies, a steampunk witch, an immortal wizard, new-found friends, a creepy castle, an enigma machine, teachers-who-are-not-what-they-seem (aren’t they all?), missing children, the Scottish Highlands…It’s a race against the clock for one girl, her two younger siblings, and her new best friend to get to the bottom of host of mysteries. CHATELAINE (Viking) is slated for a winter 2016 release. Janet is also the author of three YA novels, all from Penguin: FAITHFUL (2010), FORGIVEN (2011) and SIRENS (2012). Here’s a short teaser for CHATELAINE:

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Filed under Anxiety, Colleagues, Introduction

BE A CHANGEMAKER: A Tool for Change

changemaker_jacket_r3.inddI borrowed this synopsis of Laurie Ann Thompson’s book, BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS, from Beyond Words/Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

“Do you wish you could make a difference in your community or even the world? Are you one of the millions of high school teens with a service-learning requirement? Either way, Be a Changemaker will empower you with the confidence and knowledge you need to affect real change. You’ll find all the tools you need right here—through engaging youth profiles, step-by-step exercises, and practical tips, you can start making a difference today.

This inspiring guide will teach you how to research ideas, build a team, recruit supportive adults, fundraise, host events, work the media, and, most importantly, create lasting positive change. Apply lessons from the business world to problems that need solving and become a savvy activist with valuable skills that will benefit you for a lifetime!”

The book sounds incredible, doesn’t it? You may be wondering how one book can offer all of this. Well, Laurie’s book does. I’ve read it and was amazed, not only with the information, but with the way in which Laurie presented it.

When the publisher says, “You’ll find the tools you need right here—”, they mean it.  And the information is presented with a simplicity that isn’t overwhelming.

Want a peek? Click HERE for a short excerpt from the Event Planning Boot Camp chapter. You will see how Laurie’s easy-to-follow tips will walk you through planning an event by considering your goals, taking a look at your financials, and evaluating staff for your event team.

HERE you can view the first 25 pages of BE A CHANGEMAKER. This glimpse will be inspiring and empowering. You will see how this book’s straight-forward approach is a tool for change.

bigger size

BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO S TART SOMETHING THAT MATTERS debuts next Tuesday, September 16th, 2014.

You can get your own copy of BE A CHANGEMAKER from your local independent bookstore (find one here), or order it from your favorite national or online retailer such as Simon & SchusterPowell’sB&N, or Amazon.

And please comment here–or on any post this week–to be entered to win a signed ARC of BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations, Launch

BE A CHANGEMAKER: Words of Wisdom

changemaker_jacket_r3.inddThis week, we’re celebrating a powerful new arrival on the youth nonfiction scene: Laurie Ann Thompson‘s BE A CHANGEMAKER, a guide for young people who want to make positive changes in the world. Laurie’s book grants its readers two great gifts: first, the courage to believe they can be agents for change, in spite of all apparent obstacles, and second, a practical roadmap to making that belief a reality. That’s inspiring stuff in a world that so often tells us we’re crazy for trying.

Inspiration is a funny thing; it has to be genuine in order to move our hearts and make us strive, and yet we know we won’t reach our goals if we sit around waiting around for it to strike. Instead, we have to learn how to tap in to inspiration every day. Since that’s not easy, it helps to have a few pearls of wisdom stored away for the days when we need a little extra fuel to keep our fires burning.

And so, to honor BE A CHANGEMAKER, the EMU mob has decided to share the things that help us to get inspired, stay inspired, and keep striving no matter what.

Great Advice

First, here’s some of the advice we’ve come to rely on:

 

Motivational Quotes

Next, some of the quotes that empower us:

 

The Advice I Wish I’d Gotten 

Finally, Christine Hayes gets real about the things she wishes someone had told her, at the beginning of the journey:

 

I loved putting this post together, not only because I am passionate about telling everyone how great BE A CHANGEMAKER is, but because watching and editing these videos has given me an inner glow that’s going to last for weeks. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, EMUs – and thank you for sending your tremendous book out into the world, Laurie Ann Thompson. Congratulations on your launch. You are an inspiration.

Please comment here–or on any post this week–to be entered to win a signed ARC of BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Ann Thompson!

 

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Filed under Advice, Book Promotion, Celebrations, Colleagues, Launch, Satisfaction

I am not my book… Or am I?

On Monday, Tara wrote a great post stating, “I am not my book.” If you haven’t read it yet, please do! There is so much wisdom in that way of thinking, and I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate it into my life as I move forward in my career as an author. I am certainly going to try. Unfortunately, I think for most of us separating the author from the book is much easier said than done, both as readers and as writers.

As readers, I think we tend to equate the author with the work more often than we might care to admit. We ask ourselves, “Would I like this person?” and we base our answer on whether or not we liked the book and the ideas it contained. When we love a book, we assume we’d love the author if we ever got the opportunity to meet him or her in person. (Sadly, this isn’t always the case!) If we don’t connect with a book, we assume we won’t be able to connect with its author. (Fortunately, this isn’t always the case, either!) Conversely, when we like an author in real life, we expect we will also like his or her books. And if we don’t like the author? Well, we probably won’t even bother reading the books!

As writers, it’s even more difficult to separate ourselves from our work. We pour everything we have into our books, often over the course of many years. But, no matter how long and hard we’ve worked on a project, we still see the flaws in it—flaws we either don’t have time to fix or don’t yet know how to. Or, perhaps worse, flaws we didn’t even know were there that rear their ugly heads and reveal themselves to us after it’s too late to change them. Once published, a book becomes both frozen in time and yet strangely immortal, forever associated with its creator—flaws and all.

I recently came across this quote on the Writing Quotes blog on Tumblr, which really hit home for me and helped me find a way to think about separating the author from the work:

“It’s not getting it perfect. This is taking an infinite project and turning it into a finite project. It’s about realizing it isn’t your absolute best work – because then you’d never let go of it – but it’s something you’d be very proud of.”
—Dave Cullen
(http://writingquotes.tumblr.com/post/84636205686/its-not-getting-it-perfect-this-is-taking-an)

As both readers and as writers, the trick is to remember that a book is the finite product that results from an infinite process. An author has to make all sorts of complicated decisions and compromises to force their myriad ideas into a static form. Then, knowing it will never be perfect, they have to let it go. If the author isn’t able to do any of those things, no one will ever get to read the book.

“The best is oftentimes the enemy of the good; and many a good book has remained unwritten…because there floated before the mind’s eye the ideal of a better or a best.”
—R .C. Trench
(http://writingquotes.tumblr.com/post/84770273004/the-best-is-oftentimes-the-enemy-of-the-good-and)

One thing I know for sure is that I am not willing to wait endlessly for a perfect book that can never be. I would much rather be reading—and writing—good books, right now.

As in other professions, authors too must do the best they can with what they have available at the time and with what time they have available, and that is all they can do. Their works, of course, are influenced by who they are as people. Who they are as people is in turn influenced by the work they have done. They are reflections of each other, but both are imperfect images.

So, am I my book? Are you yours? Yes and no. Partially, but not completely. As much as I want to keep the two separate, they seem to keep getting tangled up with each other again.

Let’s just say… “It’s complicated.”


Laurie Ann Thompson head shotLaurie Ann Thompson’s debut young-adult nonfiction, BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS, will be published by Beyond Words/Simon Pulse in September, 2014. She also has two upcoming picture books: EMMANUEL’S DREAM, a picture-book biography with Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House (January 2015), and MY DOG IS THE BEST, a fiction picture book with Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Macmillan (May 2015). Please visit her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.

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Filed under Advice, Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Anti-Advice, Anxiety, Writing and Life