Tag Archives: launch

Looney Love

Looney ExperimentAtticus Hobart, the protagonist of The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds, has a lot on his mind (that tends to happen when you have an imagination that works on overdrive). Bullies. Teachers. His dad. And, of course, Audrey Higgins.

Audrey is brave, assertive, and everything Atticus thinks he isn’t—and he’s crazy about her. In celebration of The Looney Experiment (and especially of Atticus and Audrey) the EMUs are sharing stories about our own crushes, loves, and romantic entanglements. Read on. It gets juicy!

Tamara Ellis Smith
In second grade I developed a crush on Jimmy Henricks.  (I know, I know, but I THINK I am remembering his name correctly!) I can’t recall, now, what it was about Jimmy that caught my attention. He had long eyelashes, I remember that, but I don’t remember much else…except that he played the violin.  So naturally I wanted to play the violin.  I begged my parents to let me play—which they agreed to—and I began to take lessons at school. I was never very good at it, but boy did I love those half hour sessions when I got to leave the classroom WITH Jimmy to go to our lesson down the hall to make beautiful* music together!

*Jimmy made beautiful music. I made sounds.

Debbi Michiko Florence
When I was in the first grade, I was extremely shy. I hated recess. I was at a new school and had no real friends yet. One recess, I was so upset I started to cry. I remember a teacher’s aide walking me from the yard back to the classroom. As we walked, we passed a boy who was the son of my mom’s friend. We’d met briefly. When we walked by him, he said, “Who hurt her? I’m going to get him.” I don’t think we ever talked after that, and I can’t really call it a first crush, but I thought it was sweet. And I finally stopped crying at recess and made friends after that. I think his comment made me feel less invisible.

Christine Hayes
When I was about five years old, my mom would often bring me along when she visited a close friend of hers. That friend had two little boys: Reid, also five, and Travis, a year or two younger. Though the memories have blurred around the edges, as memories do, I remember that we played Bionic Man and Woman, The Rescuers, and many other grand games of pretend. One particular day we decided to a little kissing, just to see what it was like. Later, I fessed up to my mom and told her, “Reid kissed me.” Naturally, when she asked where (as in cheek? lips? elbow?) I answered, “In the closet.” I’ll never forget my first crush on dreamy, five-year-old Reid what’s-his-name! 🙂

Elly Swartz
My first crush was a boy my family knew. The romance was short and sweet. One day he kissed me underwater at the JCC pool. I immediately popped out of the water, ran over to my mom who was playing cards with her friends and told her that Jimmy had kissed me. She smiled. I then promptly jumped back into the pool. And, that was the start and finish of our romance. 

Janet Fox
My first crush was a boy named Peter. We rode the bus together in 5th grade, and he sat across the aisle. We talked, we talked, we…talked. Then I moved halfway across the country. All I remember about Peter was that he was tall and had dark hair. Oh, and the man I married a bajillion years later (not Peter)? Tall, with dark hair. 

Adam Shaughnessy
My first crush was in first grade. Her name was Jean Kelly. She was awesome. I seized every opportunity to spend time with her. I even befriended her brother, Kevin Kelly, so I could be around Jean more. I’d visit his house all the time and I was always disappointed when Jean wasn’t home. It drove me nuts that Kevin kept denying even having a sister!

It took me another year before I understood that two people could have the same last name but not be related. Oops. Anyway, Kevin had neat robot toys so it was cool.

Hayley Barrett
I’m a dawdler and a dreamer and was always late for school. When I was in fourth grade, I developed a crush on a classmate. (He shall remain nameless because I still live in the same town.) Anyway, I decided to reveal my crush by leaving a mushy note in his desk. I wish I could remember what it said, but I do remember that what-have-I-done, flop-sweat, sleepless night. I launched out of bed like a rocket the next morning and RACED to school, arriving even before the teachers. I yanked that note right out of his desk and he never knew. I still feel relieved. Whew!

Megan Morrison
My entire adolescence was a daisy-chain of (mostly) unrequited crushes. I didn’t fall in the kind of love that matters until I met my husband, and I had mostly given up believing that it would happen for me… but not quite. There was a part of me that still believed in the fairy tale, and that part of me was awake and alive the night I met him, in a bar in New York City. He wore a Voldemort t-shirt. I wore Weasley Is Our King. We talked Harry Potter and drank beer and were giddy with the at-first-sightness of it all. A couple of years later, just after we both finished reading book seven in the Harry Potter series, he proposed. We were at a vineyard with all our geeky friends, and the celebration was epic. In fact, our engagement made it into a book – HARRY, A HISTORY, written by our friend Melissa Anelli.

Has this compilation of the EMUs’ greatest love songs put you in the mood for love? Then pick up The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds. You’ll fall head over heels, guaranteed! You can find it at your nearest independent bookseller by visiting indiebound.org. Or find it at any of the following booksellers:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon BAM

Better yet, if you comment on this or any other post this week you’ll be entered to win a signed copy!


Filed under Book Launch

Emus love dogs, especially literary ones!

It’s easy to see that we Emus love books, and you may have figured out by now that many of us love dogs, too, so what could possibly be better than combining the two? To continue this week’s celebration of Maria Gianferrari’s Penny & Jelly: The School Show, which released yesterday, here is a collection of our favorite dogs from literature. Woof!

Penny & Jelly cover

First, we have some classics…

Susan Vaught:

I’m a sucker for Lassie, not the television one (okay, that one, too), but the dog in Lassie Come Home written in 1940 by Eric Knight. I read it when I was about 10, nice and hefty, around 270-300 pages? Something like that. I absolutely lived in that book.

Penny Parker Klostermann:

Toto from The Wizard of Oz. “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” I worried about him through the whole movie even though was feisty and brave and revealed that the Wizard of Oz was not a wizard at all.

Carole Gerber:

Snoopy, of course! He is beloved by people all over the planet and still appears in cartoons and books sixteen years after the death of Charles Schultz, creator of “Peanuts.”

Donna Janell Bowman:

Hands down, my fave literary dogs were Old Yeller, and Old Dan and Little Ann from Where The Red Fern Grows. As a kid, I read each book a billion times. More than the actual plots (which would be questionable by today’s standards,) I was so enamored by the dogs’ personalities and with the bond between boy and dog(s).


And then there are some more modern middle-grade canines…

Megan Morrison:

As an avid Harry Potter fan, I’ve got to go with Hagrid’s dog Fang. I love that he’s huge, and his name is fierce, but he’s really just a lovable, slobbering coward who runs from the fight – unless he’s protecting Hagrid, in which case, he’ll take a Stunning Spell to defend his big best friend.

Mylisa Larsen:

I’m always amused by Hagrid’s dogs–Fang and Fluffy (aka Cerebus). I also love Winn-Dixie because you’ve gotta love a dog who can smile.

Elaine Braithwaite Vickers:

Ranger, the kind old bloodhound from Kathi Appelt’s THE UNDERNEATH. So inherently good and true, as literary dogs should be.

Rebecca Van Slyke:

Winn Dixie. He helps India Opal negotiate the tricky business of moving to a new town and making friends in unlikely places. Plus he can smile so hard it makes him sneeze.

Tamara Smith:

Both my daughters and I are madly in love with Bigfoot, from Alison McGhee’s JULIA GILLIAN series. According to Julia, they can telepathically communicate! Too awesome! Bigfoot is the quintessential big-hearted canine best friend.


And, of course, we wouldn’t forget the picture books!

Janet Fox:

My favorite literary dog is Martha from MARTHA SPEAKS by Susan Meddaugh. I remember how much I loved reading that book to my son!

Christine Olson Hayes:

I love the adorable dog named Hondo from Peter McCarty’s picture book, HONDO AND FABIAN. The story is simple and sweet, but it’s the art I adore–it gives off a warm, cozy glow that makes me want to curl up in front of a fire with a favorite book!

Kevan Atteberry:

I was moved by a graphic novel I read recently about Laika, the first dog in space. It was terribly sad though. I read the Plague Dogs years ago and enjoyed it but don’t remember the two dogs’ names. Brian from Family Guy probably wouldn’t count, so I’ll go with Olive from Olive the Other Reindeer.

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman:

I’m partial to “Dog” from Dog in Charge by K.L. Going and illustrated by Dan Santat. It’s a sweet and funny story about a dog left in charge of five cats with this refrain to describe him: “He’s a good dog, a smart dog, a very good dog.”

Adam Shaughnessy:

I always loved Clifford the Big Red Dog when I was little. I remember being especially fond of the illustrations and drawing (or trying to draw) Clifford again and again. I went through a lot of red crayons.

Laurie Ann Thompson:

Harry the Dirty Dog was one of my favorite books as a child, and it still is. I just love his transformation from a white dog with black spots to a black dog with white spots! And, of course, I love the happy ending.


Penny & Jelly author and fellow Emu Maria Gianferrari shared some of her favorites, too, as well as those of Penny and Jelly themselves!

Some of my favorite literary dogs are Bob (from the One & Only Ivan), Rontu (from Island of the Blue Dolphins),
Dismay (from Each Little Bird That Sings), and Rain (from Reign Rain).

Penny’s favorites are Winn Dixie, Hound (from the Penderwicks), and HMS Beagle (from Susan Patron’s Lucky books).

Jelly’s favorites are Gaston, Daisy (from A Ball for Daisy), and Hachiko.

(Of course, they’re all really my favorites too!) 😉


As you know, this week we’re all celebrating the launch of our newest favorite literary dog in Penny & Jelly: The School Show, and I’m sure the delightful Jelly will soon be one of your favorites, too! Don’t forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of this heartwarming book or some Penny & Jelly swag. You can visit Penny & Jelly at pennyandjelly.com, and be sure to purchase a copy for yourself and your favorite dog lovers by visiting one of the sites below:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers Amazon.com Books-a-Million Barnes & Noble IndieBound Politics and Prose Powell's The Toadstool Bookshop
Also available as an eBook in several of these locations, and at iBooks and Kobo.


Filed under Book Giveaway, Book Launch, Celebrations, Picture books, Updates on our Books!

Laurie Thompson is the BEST.

Sometimes we pick up a book because it simply looks excellent, and sometimes we pick up a book because we want to support an author who happens to be an excellent human being.

Laurie Ann Thompson head shot

She is also extra pretty.

Today, we can do both.

Laurie Ann Thompson is wonderful. Her debut picture book, MY DOG IS THE BEST, is wonderful too. She and illustrator Paul Schmid have created a gem that’s full of charm, heart, and huggable warmth – much like Laurie herself. Today, we celebrate not only MY DOG IS THE BEST, but also the bestness of its author, whose kindness and guidance has helped every single one of us Emus to become more sure-footed on this publishing journey. Everyone lucky enough to know Laurie is ready and willing to sing her praises. Here’s why.

Lindsey Lane

Laurie is community. She believes in it. She fosters it. She creates it. Whether I have a bumbling tech question or a crisis of confidence or a query about the politics of social media, she is ALWAYS there to help and advise. Her generosity of spirit is beyond compare. Laurie Thompson is the best. Really. I feel lucky to know her.

 Ammi-Joan Paquette

Laurie is an incredible multi-tasker: fiction PBs? Non-fiction PBs? Non-fiction for teens? You name it, she can do it. She’s organized and creative and her research skills—and attention to detail—never cease to amaze me. What’s more, she does it all with a smile and warm glow about her that just can’t be faked. Laurie Thompson is the real deal!

Tamara Ellis Smith

I’m not sure I can do brief when it comes to describing supportive and Laurie Thompson in the same breath. Laurie has been such a wonderful support to me personally, both emotionally (with such kind words about my book deal and my first EMU blog post and and and… the list goes on) and logistically (giving me technical pointers and book launch ideas and and and…THAT list goes on too!)  And the thing is…I know she is this way for so many people.  Laurie is just simply kind hearted and articulate.  At her core. Which is a very lovely, very unique combination!  🙂  She is a gentle, smart leader and a creative, intuitive soul.  I am grateful to know her.  (And I will never forget FINALLY meeting her in Vermont at the 2014 EMLA retreat.  it was a little like coming home.)

Christine Hayes

When I was nervous about joining EMU’s Debuts, Laurie welcomed me in and answered my many questions with kindness and patience. Throughout my time here she has been a steady presence: calm, smart, down-to-earth, supportive, super talented…I could go on and on! My favorite memory, though, is going horseback riding with Laurie and her family during the EMLA retreat in Montana. Although my back was mad at me for a few days afterward, I will never forget the spectacular scenery and the unique opportunity to chat with Laurie and learn first-hand what a fantastic human being she is.

Penny Parker Klostermann

Laurie Thompson is the BEST because she’s an expert at spreading EMU love. She’s a HUGE supporter of EMUs, as well as children’s authors in general. Luckily, she’s always there to answer technical WordPress questions. Laurie’s an EMU guru and we’re going to miss her terribly when she moves on to the EMU Emeriti Lounge. Love you, Laurie!

Maria Gianferrari

Laurie Thompson is the BEST—period .  I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Laurie in person, and yet, through all of our online exchanges, I feel very connected to her. I think it’s a combination of things: we have a lot in common, but she also just generally exudes warmth and kindness, and that’s not an easy thing to do in the cyber world, let alone in the real one. Laurie’s books, especially Be a Changemaker and Emmanuel’s Dream, are so inspirational and moving. They make me want to be a better person. And My Dog is the Best is sweet and funny. I really look forward to the day when we’ll finally meet in person!

Elaine Braithwaite Vickers

Laurie Thompson is the best! I met Laurie about two years ago and was immediately impressed by how kind she is. There are people who preach kindness (which is good!), and then there are people like Laurie, who embody it in a hundred ways each day. And that’s the best.

Mylisa Larsen

Laurie Thompson is the best because she can write fiction and nonfiction, long form and short form, she can herd emus with grace and good humor, she can steer people through trauma-with-technology crises with endless patience, and she does all this with a smile and a sense of humor. She may just be the best of the best.

Kevan Atteberry

Laurie Thompson is the best. As a support group member she is supportive (natch) and enthusiastic and so damn smart! As a friend she is also supportive and enthusiastic and caring. Her cheer is contagious. She has the best smile, the best laugh and is always a pleasure to be around. Laurie has a heart that not only sings, but takes requests.

Megan Morrison

Laurie Thompson is the best because she is truly kind. When she finds good in the world, she happy cries. When someone is flailing, her first instinct is to help. I wrote a whole post based on her helpful spirit. Laurie was the person who took me under her wing at my first Kid Lit Drinks Night and introduced me to everyone so that I wouldn’t have to stand around feeling new and awkward. She’s a class act from the old school, who promptly sends handwritten thank-you notes when they are called for (I know this because she sent one to my mother that surprised and delighted her). She also genuinely supports kids in their endeavors. One of my students is devoted to another of Laurie’s books, BE A CHANGEMAKER, and Laurie has sent him supportive e-mails, encouraging swag, and links to grant applications throughout the school year. Truly, she is outstanding.

Laurie Ann Thompson, congratulations on this debut, and thank you for being you.


Laurie’s debut fiction picture book, MY DOG IS THE BEST, is available at University Book Store, Amazon, Powell’s, and Indiebound.

Laurie herself, unlike her book, unfortunately cannot be cloned and distributed nationwide. But if you ever get a chance to attend one of her author visits or to meet her at SCBWI, you should take the opportunity.

You should also comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of MY DOG IS THE BEST!


Filed under Launch

It’s the NOT IN THE SCRIPT launch party kickoff and giveaway!

You may think we Emus have been doing an awful lot of partying lately, but we’re not done yet. This coming Tuesday is the official release date of Amy Finnegan’s wonderful debut, NOT IN THE SCRIPT! So, toot your horns and throw that confetti, because we’ve got more celebrating to do, and we hope you’ll join us!

Not in the Script cover

Doesn’t that cover look fun? Check out this description:

The best kinds of love stories don’t follow a script.

Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma wonders if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships.

Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance.

When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.

– See more at: http://bloomsbury.com/us/not-in-the-script-9781619633988/#sthash.f08cASwU.dpuf

One of my favorite things about the book is how it immerses you in the lives of the young actors, both on set and off. How was Amy able to bring the entertainment world to life so vividly? She’s heard years of behind-the-scenes stories from her industry veteran brother, plus she’s been lucky enough to visit dozens of film sets and sit in on major productions such as Parks and Recreation and Parenthood, so you can be pretty sure the fictional experiences are authentic. Want to know more? You can follow Amy on Twitter: @ajfinnegan, Instagram: StrangerThanFictionWriter, Facebook: Amy Finnegan, Author, or visit her at AmyFinnegan.com.

Check out this awesome book+swag package put together by Amy herself:

Not in the Script giveaway package

For a chance to win this super swagalicious giveaway, just comment on any of the launch party posts today through Friday. We’ve got all kinds of fun things planned to celebrate, so be sure to check in every day this week!

Of course, if you just can’t wait to see if you win (trust me–you don’t want to wait!) or you need more than one (trust me–you’ll want extras to give as gifts!), you can order hardcovers, paperbacks, and ebooks from:

And don’t forget to add it to Goodreads here!

Cut! And that’s a wrap. (We’ll pick up again with scene 2 tomorrow!)


Filed under 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!



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

Cooking Calamities


None of us went here.

The launch celebration for ALL FOUR STARS continues, and nothing says “celebrate” like a few good cooking calamities!

In Tara Dairman’s delightful story, 12-year-old Gladys Gatsby knows her way around a kitchen. But even Gladys has the occasional slip-up. Could anything be worse than the unfortunate blowtorch incident?

Several EMUs have been gracious enough to share their own cooking disasters with us. Judge for yourselves, dear readers, if any of our stories stack up.


Gladys, unruffled by crisis

Lindsey Lane:

You think Gladys’s lighting kitchen curtains on fire was bad? This disaster involved trying to drain the pasta while talking on the phone. Pot slipped out of my hands. Scalding water everywhere. Burned leg. No pasta for dinner. The cellphone was fine. Take out was ordered.


Penny Parker Klostermann:

fried rattlesnake

But they do look like chicken wings.

I wasn’t the cook for my cooking disaster, so maybe it’s more of an eating disaster. About twenty years ago (yes this has stuck in my mind) a group of us decided to attend the largest rattlesnake round-up in the US in nearby Sweetwater, Texas. You’ve probably already guessed what I ate. And let me tell you…rattlesnakes don’t look like chickens, they don’t sound like chickens, they don’t move like chickens, AND THEY DON’T TASTE LIKE CHICKEN! They taste like rattlesnake…and that’s disastrous! Yech!

Laurie Ann Thompson:


You had me at “Broccoli cheese taffy.”

When I met Bernie, we were both working in south Florida on an internship. Our friendship gradually grew into something more, and (finally!) he asked me out on our first real date. He invited me to his apartment for dinner, and he decided to make broccoli cheese soup from scratch, which he’d never tried to do before. It turned into something resembling broccoli cheese taffy, and I couldn’t stop laughing! We ended up sharing an apple, the only other food he had in the house. Three years later I married him, and he still cooks for me almost every night… usually with much more edible results!

Jenn Bertman:


Please don’t feed (or slake) the authors.

It was a summer evening: sunset, Jack Johnson tunes, a glass of wine, making fish tacos. I fry the tortillas into shells, so I had just turned the heat on the oil-filled pan when my husband started talking about rearranging our furniture. I poured a second glass of wine (did I mention I rarely drink alcohol?), and soon enough I was on a buzz-fueled furniture arranging mission. Shortly after the second couch configuration, we noticed the flames shooting up from the stove. The relaxing summer evening vibe became a frantic frenzy of my husband and I slapping at the fire with a dish towel, digging for the extinguisher, shouting about whether to throw baking soda or baking powder on it, until finally my husband dropped a lid on the pan and snuffed out the flames. The lesson to learn here, kids, is: “Don’t drink and fry.”

Laurie Crompton:


Next, we’ll grill some Twizzlers.

As a teen I decided to improve on the classic M & M cookie recipe by using Skittles in place of M & Ms. After all, everything’s better with a little taste of rainbow, right? Erm, no. Apparently when those tasty bits of fruit-flavored magic reach a temperature of 350 degrees they melt. And once melted they infuse liquid candy that gives cookies the power to bend spatulas in half. Literally. Several ruined baking utensils later, I packaged up the (admittedly very pretty) cookies and mailed them to a long-distance friend. I figured he would assume the cookies had hardened along the way, although I never did hear from him again.

Tamara Smith:

Knees knocking, arms full with a bag of ice cream, raspberries, sugar, butter, and pie crust dough that I had just spent an hour making at my apartment…I walked into my boyfriend’s kitchen, ready to make him a raspberry pie for his birthday. The very first birthday I had spent with him. No pressure. Nah. Except I wanted the pie to be perfect. I got to it. Washed the table, spread flour, began to roll out the dough. Gorgeous, thick, buttery dough.

“What are those?” asked my boyfriend over my shoulder.

“Hmmmm?” I asked as I pushed the rolling pin.

“Those white bits?  They look like rice?  There–”  He pointed to the dough.

“Those?” I asked.  I hadn’t seen them until now.  I paused.  Broke off a piece of the dough and looked closely at it.  “Oh those…” My heart began to beat fast.  “Those are…”  Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.  “Those are…maggots!”

How had that happened?  How could that happen?  What would happen now?

My boyfriend laughed.  He hugged me.  Soon, I was laughing too.  Hard.  What else was there to do?

One more thing.  Celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday…with ice cream and raspberries.

Jeanne Ryan:


Poulet de bottes mouillées

Since “cooking” and “disaster” have often proved interchangeable in my culinary experience, I try to avoid both. However, one day, buoyed by the freedom of no deadlines, I decided to roast a chicken. Only minutes after pre-heating the oven, a foul, rubbery stench filled the kitchen. Apparently, the rarity of my cooking led someone to believe they could dry their hiking boots in the oven. See, I don’t even need to touch food for disaster to occur.

Megan Morrison:

Nobody in my family will let me forget the blueberry burgers, even though I was pregnant. I was trying to be healthy, so I assembled a recipe out of Fit Pregnancy and brought the result to a family party. Everyone expected to bite into delicious, greasy burgers; instead, they found their mouths full of a sinister fruit-meat cocktail. They have never forgiven me.

Jeannie Mobley:


Later that night, this baby became a Transformer.

One of the first meals I cooked for my fiancé from scratch was my mom’s famous and delicious homemade spaghetti sauce recipe. The recipe calls for you to layer meat and garlic and tie the stack together with string, then slow cook it in the sauce. I didn’t have string, so I rubber banded them together. Then I simmered them in the sauce for four hours before serving up something that took me all day to make and looked absolutely perfect. And tasted like boiled rubber. Depending on how you look at it, that meal may or may not have been worthy of a Michelin Star.

Donna Bowman Bratton:

Picture this: It was was a dark and stormy night… Seriously, it was! When I was about ten years old, my family temporarily lived in a mobile home near the construction site that would become our ranch house. On this particular night, my father was out of town, and our community was under a tornado watch. Of course! My mother, brother, and I tried to act like nothing was wrong. Mom was preparing a hot dog feast. Pork-n-beans were simmering on the stove. Suddenly, the lights went out. Somebody fumbled to light a candle, causing eerie shadows to haunt the walls while the mobile home rattled, and creaked, and threatened to careen to somewhere over the distant rainbow. I’m not certain of the events that followed except that one of us dished up a bowl of beans, one of us had the bright idea to tell a scary story, and lighting decided to strike nearby at the precise moment of the story’s terrifying climax. All I know is there was a scream, a flailing of hands, and a bowl of beans on the ceiling. And that, my friends, is why I don’t write horror and I cringe whenever I see pork-n-beans.

So, what’s your best (worst?) cooking calamity? Share with us in the comments for a chance to win a signed copy of ALL FOUR STARS!

And remember, you can get your own copy from your local independent bookstore (find one here), or order it from your favorite national or online retailer such as PenguinPowell’sB&Nor Amazon.


Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations, Launch, Writing and Life

The Importance of Knowing Yourself

[Ed. note: Today we have a special treat for you, as fellow EMLA author Corinne Duyvis stops by for a guest post feature to celebrate the launch of her own debut, OTHERBOUND!]

Whether you’re searching for an agent, hoping to snag a publisher, or going it alone with self-publishing, writing is often a difficult and stressful job. Add the complications of having a day job, a family, and/or a disability, and it becomes even more difficult to keep up your spirits and your productivity.

My first novel only just released, so I’m in the early stages of being a professional author. I’ve still had my share of publishing heartbreak: the novels I’ve had to shelve, the agent that didn’t work out, the negative reviews, the rejections—both before and after the book deal–and I’m sure that list will only grow.

(Though, um, I’d rather it doesn’t.)

The most important thing I’ve had to learn throughout all this is me.

In order to survive this business, no matter which route of publishing you choose, it’s so, so important to learn your own desires and reactions, your strengths and weaknesses.

What are you looking for? If you’re querying or interviewing agents, it can be tempting to either stick to the huge names you see in the Twittersphere or to contact any agent who takes your genre. This can work out perfectly. It can also work out terribly.

To protect yourself from heartbreak and ending up in no-win situations, figure out what you want, and do it early. Do you value lightning-quick communication? One-day turnarounds on manuscripts? In-depth editing? Massive deals? Perfect author-editor, book-publisher fits? Do you want to have your hand held, or to be whacked on the back of the head when you’re not writing quickly enough? Or do you want to be left to your own devices as much as possible?

Know what you want, look for just that, and communicate your needs clearly.

It also applies to later stages of publishing. Some authors can’t handle feedback at an early stage; make sure to explain that so you can come to a mutual agreement about when to submit your work.

Conversely, if you’re constantly worrying about which project to work on next, you’ll want to find an agent who will help you decide, or you’ll want to ask your editor which of your pitches she thinks is most interesting. It isn’t a guarantee of a book deal, but it might set your mind at ease knowing there’s interest.

I’m one of the latter. I need feedback to stay motivated.

Not everyone will need this. Decide whether you do.

So far, this has been about communication, about navigating your publishing partnerships, but it works at any level.

If you know yourself, you know how you cope with deadlines.

Whether you struggle to write while waiting for feedback.

Whether you work better in mornings or evenings.

Whether feedback at an early stage will invigorate you or crush your creativity.

Whether keeping track of your word count helps you or hurts you.

Whether the magic happens in the drafting stage, or when you’re tweaking sentences later down the line.

Whether editing or drafting requires more focus.

Whether bad news can throw you off your game, and how long for.

And if you know all these things, you can guard yourself appropriately. It seems obvious, but it surprised me just how much of this I didn’t know about myself—or how much I thought I knew, and was wrong about.

Even better, it surprised just how much of it can be worked around with some foresight, flexibility, and planning.

Publishing is hard enough already. It’s OK to look around and figure out how to make it a little easier on yourself. Guard against your weaknesses, capitalize on your strengths, and tweak your habits and partnerships accordingly.

(And when you need it, don’t hesitate to break out the hot chocolate.)

Corinne DuyvisA lifelong Amsterdammer, Corinne Duyvis spends her days writing speculative young adult and middle grade novels. She enjoys brutal martial arts and gets her geek on whenever possible.

Otherbound, her YA fantasy debut, released this week from Amulet Books/ABRAMS. It has received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and BCCB. Kirkus called it “original and compelling; a stunning debut,” while BCCB called it “a brilliantly paced edge-of-your seat adventure” and praised its “subtle, nuanced examinations of power dynamics and privilege.”

Find Corinne at her Twitter or Tumblr.



Filed under Advice, Advice - Helpful or Otherwise, Happiness, Helpful or Otherwise, Launch, rejection and success, Writing and Life