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1. The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson - and a Giveaway

First, I have a winner to announce from the LUG giveaway. Drum roll please............ 

The winner is.......


SUZANNE WARR



Congratulations, Suzanne! Look for a message from me asking for your mailing address. 


*   *   *   *   *


Today's MMGM features another debut novel. And it's the debut of our own Jessica Lawson! 

For other MMGM posts, look for the links on Shannon Messenger's blog.






Jessica Lawson from her website







The Actual &Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher by Jessica Lawson, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno  (for ages  8 to 12, Simon & Schuster, July 2014)

Source: purchased from B&N

Synopsis (from the book jacket): Becky Thatcher is sick and tired of that tattletale Tom Sawyer following her around! Becky is determined to have her own adventures, just like she promised her brother, Jon, before he died. When she joins the boys at school in a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas, the rumored town witch, Becky recruits her best friend Amy Lawrence to join her in a night of mischief. And that's when the real adventure begins.

Why I recommend it: What a fun read! This is one of those delightful stories you could easily read over and over again, especially if you're eleven or twelve. You don't have to be familiar with Tom Sawyer or Sam Clemens, but it helps. This is a smart, funny book, and best of all, it features one of the strongest female protagonists I've encountered this year. Or in a lot of years. The sassy and tomboyish Becky is a joy to get to know. You'll have a great time tagging along as she searches for adventure, escaped convicts, and maybe even treasure.



What MG novel could you read over and over again? Tell me in the comments.



Now for the GIVEAWAY details:


My very own hardcover copy (*hugs book*) is staying right here in my house, but the author herself has generously offered a FREE hardcover copy for one lucky winner, who will be chosen by randomizer. This giveaway is open to US/Canadian addresses only. To enter, you must be a follower and you must leave a comment on this post. If you tweet about the giveaway or mention on facebook or your own blog, I'll give you extra entries, but please include the links. Thanks! This giveaway ends at 10 pm EDT on Friday Oct 3, 2014 and the winner will be announced on Monday Oct 6.


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2. Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos STARRED Review from SLJ (School Library Journal)

Floating :) And no, I don't know this wonderful woman who gave the review. 




And excerpt from the review:


Told in narrative format, this beautifully designed and illustrated picture book gives readers a glimpse into the childhood wonderings Sagan experienced as he looked at the night sky and imagined the possibilities. ....  A gorgeous, informative offering for biography and science collections.–Maggie Chase, Boise State University, ID
A link to the full review here

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3. Sailor


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4. People’s Climate March, NYC, Sept. 21st, 2014

One big focus on my blog and in my writing is our responsibility towards all life on this planet, so I had to do a post about yesterday’s historic climate  march!  I believe it to be the most important issued … Continue reading

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5. Query Question: crossing gender lines


I have written a YA fiction with a male protagonist/narrator. I don't intend to only write for boys forever but I have two teenage sons who I have homeschooled and it's been 18 years of working hard at taking a walk in young men's shoes, so it felt easy for me. When I research authors of teen boy fiction or when authors recommend teen boy fiction, it's primarily male writers. I do know my sons sort of side with the boy world quite unconsciously, but do agents/publishers also go along those lines. I want to use a pen name, anyhow. Should I consider an androgynous name since my first book is boy oriented? Or do you think I should begin querying without a pseudonym and bring it up if/when it goes that far? I've even wondered if I should specifically target male agents. I feel like getting boys to read, sometimes is harder than girls who read male writers pretty much as effortlessly as women's writers. I guess this is a strange question about gender.  


It's a confusing question about gender because it's all over the place.  First you're asking if readers think books with male protagonists/narrators have to be written by men. If you're seriously asking that question, you haven't read enough to query. Read enough in your category and read enough over all.  In other words I'm telling you that your reading alone should tell you that it doesn't matter if you're a man, a woman, a shark or a nincompoop: the story is what counts. Get your story right and we're off to the races.

And if you're asking if male agents have a preference for male writers, or writers they think are male, well, no, they don't. They have a preference for (all together now) Good Stories!

And if you're asking if it's a truism that getting boys to read is harder than getting girls to read, well, that's not something you as a writer have any control over whatsoever and thus you should not worry about.

What do you have control over? Your story.
Make it fabulous and everyone will want to read it.  Make the characters people we want to be, or hang out with, and you've got yourself a book.

I'm chastising you here because you've fallen into a trap that snares many writers at the start of their careers: you're worrying about things you can't control.  All that fear keeps you from thinking about writing.  Stop it.  When your mind starts whirring with these thoughts, say to yourself "Stop worrying about this."  You might need to say it out loud. (That will amuse your sons endlessly of course.)  And you might need something to think about INSTEAD of these worrisome thoughts.  Turn your mind to sitting down and writing.  Or scotch. I've found one or the other always works.

Now, quit worrying about this. Back to work.

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6. Querying 101: Putting Your Best Book Forward – Sept. 25 Webinar With Jennifer De Chiara

jencopyLearning how to write a great query—one that will not only make an agent want to read your book, but pick up the phone and call you the minute he/she reads your query—is essential if you want to be a published author.

In this live 90-minute webinar — titled “Querying 101: Putting Your Best Book Forward” —  Literary agent Jennifer De Chiara will guide you, step-by-step, in writing the perfect pitch for your book. She’ll offer do’s and don’ts from her 16+ years of agenting and share queries that got her attention and those that didn’t. De Chiara will also give tips on how to find the right agents to query.If you’ve written a dynamite query, it’s still worthless if you’re not sending it to the right agents. It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, September 25, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • U9486How to start your query
  • How to write the perfect elevator pitch
  • Common mistakes that writers make
  • How to find the right agent to query
  • How to highlight your hook
  • How simple and direct can often be the best way to go

INSTRUCTOR

Jennifer De Chiara is President and Owner of the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, which she founded in 2001. Before forming the agency, she was a literary agent with two established New York agencies, worked in the editorial departments of Simon & Schuster and Random House, and was a writing consultant for several major corporations. A New York City-based writer, she is a frequent guest judge for the WRITER’S DIGEST, WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING, and THAT FIRST LINE writing contests, among others. She is a frequent guest lecturer on publishing and the art of writing at universities and writers’ conferences throughout the country, including New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute, the Penticton, Canada Writers Conference, the San Diego State University Writers Conference, Backspace, the International Women’s Writing Guild, and the Learning Annex. The agency represents both children’s and adult books, fiction and non-fiction, in a wide range of genres. They represent many best-selling, award-winning authors, including: Pen Award-winning author Carol Lynch Williams, Edgar Award-winner and PEN Award-winner Matthew J. Kirby, Newbery Honor Medal-winner Margi Preus, Lambda Award-winning YA novelist Brent Hartinger, best-selling children’s book authors Chanda Bell and Carol Aebersold, best-selling, award-winning Cathie Pelletier (aka K.C. McKinnon), and #1 New York Times’ best-selling author Sylvia Browne. The agency has a strong presence in Hollywood and is affiliated with many of the top film agencies there, with many film and television projects in development, several of which De Chiara has created and/or co-produced.

HOW DOES THE CRITIQUE WORK?

All registrants are invited to submit their query letter for review. All submissions are guaranteed a written critique by literary agent Jennifer De Chiara. Jennifer reserves the right to request more writing from attendees by e-mail following the event, if she deems the query excellent. Instructions on how to submit your work are sent after you have purchased the webinar and officially register in Go-to-Webinar. When you have registered in GTW, you will receive a confirmation email from gotowebinar@citrixonline.com, which contains the information you need to access the live webinar AND the Critique Submission Instructions.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?

  • Writers who are unsure about how to craft a query
  • Writers currently composing a query who want to make sure their work gets read
  • Writers who want to write the perfect elevator pitch
  • Writers with a finished novel or proposal who are ready to submit their work to editors and agents
  • Writers who have been rejected by agents and editors and wonder if their query letter was at fault
  • Writers in need of help with the business side-rather than creative side-of publishing
  • Writers who want a professional critique by a literary agent

 

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7. Egg & Spoon - an audio book review

I can save you some time today. If you'd like the short review of Egg & Spoon, click here to read my review for AudioFile Magazine. However, if you want to hear more about this wonderful book, read on!

Maguire, Gregory. 2014. Egg & Spoon. Grand Haven, MI: Brilliance Audio.  Read by Michael Page.

Can what we want change who we are? 
Have patience and you will see.

Set in the tsarist Russia of the late 18th or early 19th century, Egg & Spoon is an enchanting mix of historical fiction and magical folklore, featuring switched and mistaken identities, adventurous quests, the witch Baba Yaga, and of course, an egg.

Narrator Michael Page is at his best as the self-proclaimed “unreliable scribe,” who tells the tale from his tower prison cell, claiming to have seen it all through his one blind eye. In a fashion similar to that of Scheherazade, spinning 1001 "Tales of the Arabian Nights," our narrator weaves fantastical stories together and wraps us in their spell.

Ekaterina and Elena are two young girls - one privileged, one peasant - yet so alike that their very lives can be exchanged. Page creates voices so similar that one can believe the subterfuge, yet the voices are also distinct - a necessity in a book written to respect the reader's (or listener's) ability to discern the flow of conversation without the constant insertion of "he said/she said."

One girl finds herself en route to see the tsar, a captive guest of  the haughty and imperious Aunt Sophia on a train to St. Petersburg.  The other finds herself a captive guest of the witch, Baba Yaga, and her curious home that walks on chicken legs. As Baba Yaga, Page is as wildly unpredictable as the witch herself, chortling, cackling, menacing, mothering.

Michael Page is wonderful.  He brings each of author Gregory Maguire's many characters to life with a distinct voice.  He never falls out of character, and his pacing is perfect - measured to keep the listener from being overwhelmed by the story's intricate plot.

Grand and magical, Egg & Spoon is a metaphoric epic for readers from twelve to adult.
Notes:
If you find the egg (or eggs) elusive, you will find the spoon even more so!
My copy of the book was supplied by the publisher. My copy of the audio book was supplied by AudioFile Magazine.  

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8. Games & Books & Q&A: Glenn “Commander” Banton of Operation Supply Drop

OperationSupplyDropGlenn “Commander” Banton, the board chairman and executive director of Operation Supply Drop (OSD), is the next interviewee from the field of gaming in my Games & Books & Q&A series.

OSD is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides video-game-filled care packages to American and allied soldiers, both those deployed to combat zones and those recovering in military hospitals. The organization plans to increase on-base activities stateside, contribute further to peacekeeping and humanitarian missions worldwide, and help soldiers leaving the military to transition into entry-level game-developer jobs.

For reasons that you’ll read for yourself below, my exchange with Glenn brought to mind the much-needed focus and attention that “reluctant readers” receive from librarians today, as exemplified by this session at last year’s American Library Association conference. If you could use some “strategies for turning reluctant readers into ‘eager readers,'” I highly recommend it.

CB: What do you remember about the first video game you ever played?

G”C”B: This is a great question! While I’m not 100% sure what the actual first game was, it almost certainly was on one of those Tiger handheld systems. Maybe the Bo Jackson Football/Baseball combo, Paperboy, or electronic football. We didn’t have a console-type system, so I remember saving up the $20-30 for these individual games. Also, around the same time frame I recall the long days and nights on Super Mario Bros. as well as the day we beat the game… and the utter disappointment in that it just starts the game over. I still know the house I was in when that happened and have even shown my kids. I’m not sure they’re impressed.

CB: What did you like to read when you were a kid? What did you love about it?

SuperfudgeG”C”B: When I was a kid, I had a love/hate relationship with reading — meaning I loved to hate it — which is quite odd given how much I now read as an adult. I remember very clearly reading (and enjoying) books like Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Clearly or Superfudge or How to Eat Fried Worms as well as what I’m sure a lot of kids’ favorite library checkout was around the same time, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but that was very small window during 4th/5th grade.

In order to encourage more reading late in elementary school into middle school, my parents even offered to pay me 10 cents per chapter, and for some reason this didn’t work, either. As I got older, entering high school and then college, I can’t honestly remember reading much other than the Cliff’s Notes versions of books unless they were nonfiction. I believe this had a lot to do with the number of books being assigned in school and not having the time time to actually explore what I would have liked to read. I’d rather read books on computer programming or historical books, but those weren’t a part of the curriculum.

As I mention, though, I read a lot these days, probably 2-5 books each month. And even with both of my kids, they’re the types that telling them they cannot read would be a punishment.

CB: What book that you read while growing up had the most influence on who you became as an adult?

G”C”B: There are actually two, with one being more of a series of books. The first and most influential is the Bible. There is no other book on the planet from which a kid, or adult for that matter, can draw such wisdom. I still read the Bible every day. The second would be the Cub Scout, then Boy Scout handbooks. I was a scout for 7+ years, and nearly everything we did was also taught or narrated from one of these books. I’ve had the pleasure of recently starting up scouting again with my son, so it’s great to share these same lessons with him.

***

I expect to continue this series through the October publication of my book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet. (I suspect that this book will appeal to a few of those reluctant readers we just discussed.) If there’s anyone in the gamer or kidlit camp that you’d love to see me feature in upcoming posts in this series, please drop me a line or tweet at me or just leave a message in the comments.

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9. Mix It Up!

MixItUpCover

(image via here.)

by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle Books, 2014)

First of all. Welcome to the new Design of the Picture Book! I’m super excited to feature this particular book as the first spot in my face-lifted blog–its heart and soul of art and play is exactly what I think these new digs represent.

Do you see? The logo! The colors! The Book Party? THE BOOK PARTY?!! (If you are in a reader, click over and see all the goodies. And for the love, please join the Book Party. I mean really.)

Super huge thanks to Sara Jensen for, well, everything. (#taken)

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

It’s here. This highly anticipated follow up to the smash hit Press Here is muddled-up fun and completely magical.

Remember those rolls of endless butcher paper and squishing your fingers into as many paint puddles as possible? That’s what this book is. It’s a lesson in color mixing wrapped up in a hefty dose of play.

Mix It Up by Herve TulletMix It Up by Herve Tullet

Slam the book together so the yellow and blue make green. Shake it on its side and watch purple drips racing off the page. What happens when you add some white? Or black? Or stick your hand right in the middle of the mess?

Mix It Up by Herve TulletMix It Up by Herve Tullet

It’s a color theory primer and an invitation to get dirty. And isn’t that the best kind of creating?

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

I’m a grownup. I get the gig here. And still I looked at my palm when I flipped the last page of this book, sure it would be dripping with paint.

Welcome back to childhood. It’s good here.

Want to win a children’s painting studio worth $500? Check out the details here, and tweet away using #MixItUpBook!

P.S – If you need more Hervé Tullet (and the answer is probably yes, yes you do) check out this other experiential art book for tiny, creative minds.

ch

I received this book from the publisher (right back atcha, #chroniclecrush!), but opinions are all mine.

 

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10. honoring the river, at the Flow Festival






We let the flowers fall gently down (bless our Schuylkill River). We watched the children chase the bubbles, sparkle their fish, play the music of the drip drum, watch the mechanical flotilla, choose a history question to answer: Do you remember a flood? Do you have an umbrella story? We watched them build a sculpture out of water drops and silkscreen a poster. And that was beautiful.

But this was beautiful, too: the way we adults quietly took it in—the thrumming of the river, the pavilion of flowers, the old-world mechanics of water power, the simple rising of the tide against a fiber texture. There we were, in a city, and what we felt was a quieting down, a simplifying, a moment for prayer.

Congratulations to Fairmount Water Works, Karen Young, Victoria Prizzia, all the artists, and the many people who came to the Flow Festival. The city at its finest. I'm stepping back from the words right now. The pictures tell the story.

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11. Picture Book Monday with a review of Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie

For as long as there have been books, there have been bookworms, people who love books and who are happy to spend hours reading them. Sometimes bookworms get so wrapped up in the books that they read that they have trouble connecting with the real world. In today's picture book you are going to meet a big who is just such a bookworm.

Calvin Can't Fly: The Story of a Bookworm BirdieCalvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie
Jennifer Berne
Illustrated by Keith Bendis
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Sterling, 2010, 978-1-4027-7323-5
Calvin is a young starling and he lives under the eaves of an old barn with his siblings and all his cousins. When the young starlings explore the ground for the first time, Calvin’s siblings discover worms, grass, dirt, and water. Calvin discovers a book, and from that moment he is hooked on the written word. While Calvin’s brothers and sisters are chasing insects, Calvin is learning to read, and when they are taking flying lessons, Calvin is at the library reading books. Though Calvin does not know how to fly, “his mind soared” when he reads books. Books can take “him to places wings never could.”
   Though Calvin’s cousins tease him and called him names, Calvin does not give up his love of books. Instead he sadly goes to the library, the one place where he feels happy. He spends his summer reading and learning, soaking up information about everything and anything.
   Then summer turns into fall and the starlings prepare to fly south. There is just one problem. Calvin cannot fly, which means that he will have to stay in the barn for the fall and winter. All alone.

   In this wonderful picture book we see how important it is to follow your heart, even if it means that you don’t always fit in with your peers. Readers will be delighted to see that in the end, Calvin’s love of books turns out to be an asset for him and his extremely large family. Being a bookworm might not, in some people’s opinion, be ‘cool,’ but the rest of know better.

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12. KidLit - Midwest Book Review - Powder Monkey by Donna McDine


I'm over the moon to announce the latest review for my historical fiction children's book, Powder Monkey by Midwest Book Review - http://midwestbookreview.com/cbw/sep_14.htm#EasyReader 


Snoopy Dance…




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author


Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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13. The Body Electric: An Interview With Author Beth Revis!

Book Recommendation banner

 

My friends, I am in COUNTDOWN MODE. Beth Revis’s new novel The Body Electric is nearly with us, and it’s so close I can taste it! October 6th, you are so close! From the NYT bestselling author who catapulted us into space with Across The Universe, this is a new story that answers the question: what happened on earth while the Godspeed was making her way to a new world? Bring. It. On. I’ve already ordered my limited-edition copy! And today, I’ve got Beth here with us to answer all our burning questions!

But first, a little about The Body Electric…

The Body ElectricElla Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

Beth, welcome! In Across The Universe and its sequels, you took us into space, trapped us on claustrophobic ships and landed us on incredible new planets. Tell us about your inspiration for The Body Electric! Where did this story start? A dream? A musical clip? Plain, old-fashioned brainstorming?

I first started getting the idea for The Body Electric while writing Shades of Earth, the last AtU novel. Amy and Elder have a little interaction with Earth, and it’s not positive. It made me start thinking: what was happening on Earth while Amy and Elder were in space? How did Earth change to become the kind of place where the events that happened in Shades of Earth happened?

Of course, I was also influenced by a lifetime of reading and SF movies–especially the works of Philip K. Dick. There are hints of Total Recall and Blade Runner in this book.

beth revis headshotThat’s insanely cool, and I think it’s a question more than one reader has wondered about– I certainly did! So, if you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?

NONE OF THEM OMG EVERYONE IS ALWAYS ABOUT A CHAPTER AWAY FROM DEATH IN MY BOOKS. I want to stay right here, pants-less and on my couch, thank you very much.

That is a point very well made. On to other things! Your decision to self-publish The Body Electric has given you a lot of freedom to release and promote the book exactly the way you want, from getting hands-on in cover design to the choice to include amazing swag with your limited-edition paperback. Can you tell us a bit about that decision and your journey?

I did not come to self-publishing lightly, although now it seems like the clear, obvious choice. My agent helped me a TON in making this decision and in realizing the potential I had with doing this book exactly the right way for my readers. A big part of my motivation to self publish came from wanting to thank the people who made my career what it is: my readers and indie bookstores. So I made the Limited Edition–it has 30 pages of extra content, full color art cards, a coupon for an ebook copy, swag, and more. And I was able to choose the price, and keep it at $14.99. And the Limited Edition is only available from my local indie bookstore, but the Special Edition–with all the same content, minus the art cards and my signature–is available from any bookstore in America.

Of course, the book is available in lots of other formats: a cheaper paperback available through Amazon, e-book editions, etc.

The freedom of this has been amazing. I love having such a voice in every aspect, from the cover design, to the price, to literally everything. It’s been so freeing.

Seriousness aside: Pub Brawl!!!!! What weapon are you wielding?

My weapon is Jayne from Firefly. I win.

Yes, yes you do. I have nothing to add on that count. What are you reading right now?

I’ve just started reading The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin. I’m so jealous I didn’t write this book. It’s been brilliant–an engaging plot, crafted masterfully. [Amie: On Beth's recommendation I've just picked up a copy, can't wait to get stuck in!]

Beth, thank you so much for visiting! We can’t WAIT for The Body Electric!

Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth’s new science fiction novel for teens, The Body Electric, will release October 6, 2014. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram.

amie165c-twitterAmie Kaufman is the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, a YA sci-fi novel out now from Disney-Hyperion (US) and Allen & Unwin (Australia). Book two, THIS SHATTERED WORLD is out in December! Her new trilogy will start with ILLUMINAE, coming from Random House/Knopf in 2015. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. You can find her on Twitter or on Facebook, or visit the These Broken Stars website for exclusive sneak-peeks and contests. Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and rescue dog.

 

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14. Interview with Beverly McClure, author of 'A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat'

When Beverly Stowe McClure was in eighth grade, her teacher sent her poem “Stars” to the National High School Poetry Association, and she was soon a published writer in Young America Sings, an anthology of Texas high school poetry. Today, Beverly is a cum laude graduate of Midwestern State University with a BSEd degree. For twenty-two years, she taught children to read and write. They taught her patience. She is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices in her head tell her. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps photos of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. She also enjoys visiting with her family and teaching a women’s Sunday school class at her church. Her articles have been published in leading children’s magazines. Two of her stories are in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL ANTHOLOGIES, and she has nine novels published, two of them award winning novels at Children’s Literary Classics and other competitions.

Connect with Beverly on the net:


Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. What was your inspiration for it?

A: One summer, on a visit to our son and his wife in South Carolina, we went to Folly Beach, not far from where they lived, to watch the sun rise over the water and lighthouse. It was a beautiful sight. But what caught my attention more than the sunrise was the lighthouse sitting in the middle of the inlet. It was deactivated years ago, but was used during the Civil War. A lighthouse must have a ghost, right? My mind started chasing different scenarios as to who the ghost was and why he was a ghost. What kept him from finding rest? A blockade runner worked nicely, since the ships came into the harbor bringing supplies to the city. Other ideas popped up, too. Pirates were quite active in the area although in earlier years. But, if they were ghosts they could have been around for years. So I added a couple of pirates to the story. And what’s a good ghost story without a cat? My MG/Tween novel APirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat was born.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Thirteen-year-old Erik Burks is a typical young teen. He plays baseball and likes to hang out with his friends. When his dad leaves home, Erik’s life changes in ways he could never imagine. First, his mom takes Erik from Texas to South Carolina where they move in with her sister. Second, he meets the weird twins that live down the street and that claim they’ve seen a ghost ship in the harbor. Third, Erik doesn’t believe that ghosts exist. Fourth, he soon discovers he might be wrong.     

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: I had fun creating Erik and the twins, typical teens, if you count a girl who can read mind dreams typical. The ghost pirates are based on real pirates, and I did a lot of research to learn about them and their ships so the historical facts would be accurate. I am a slow writer and it took probably two years to write and edit the story. No major bumps along the way. I had visited some of the places in the story, like the lighthouse, and tried to remember what they were like.

Getting the pirate language just right took some research too, but was a lot of fun. Avast, matey. I discovered fascinating information about the two pirates that ended up in the story.

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: I try to put the characters in exciting circumstances. In novels for MG readers, the kids like action. They’ll stop reading if they’re bored. Forget description unless it moves the story along. I let the characters get in trouble so the reader will wonder if they’ll get out of it. At this age, friendships are important. And they need trouble. Lots of trouble. Ghosts are just right to cause trouble, along with a cat that Erik hates, and the feeling is mutual.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: Sometimes, I look at the blank screen on the computer and think, Okay, where do I start? Will anyone like this story? Can I even write it? The only way to deal with anxiety is to start typing. Yes, there will be many changes, at least for me. I usually rewrite the beginning a jillion times. If I don’t get those first words down, I’ll never have a story. So I go for it and hope I’m headed in the right direction.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I’m a morning person. Usually I work on my WIP from 9:00 AM to 11:30 or 12:00 noon. Then I take a lunch break and maybe check emails or look at blogs. (I’ve done some mail early in the morning before I started writing.) Around 2:00 PM I do edits if I have a manuscript that’s been sold, or else I check my blogs and post on other blogs. Evenings, I write reviews, do critiques for my critique groups (I’m in two), and whatever else needs to be done.

I’m retired from my teaching job, so I have no outside work to interfere with my writing. I’m a playmate for my cats, but other than that, my time is my own.

Q: How do you define success?

A: Success to me is writing novels that help young people enjoy reading, and if they take anything away from the story that makes their lives happier or more understandable, that’s an added bonus.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: It’s hard when your family doesn’t support you, but I feel we each have the right to pursue our dreams. I’m not saying neglect your significant others. Don’t neglect yourself either. Let them know how important your writing is to you. They may surprise you and understand. If they don’t, find time when you’re alone, or make time to be alone, even if it’s only 30 minutes or an hour. Maybe while they’re at work, or anytime they go out for whatever reason. Don’t give up. Follow your dreams. You only have one life.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: Oh, yes. A writer has to be driven; otherwise, why would we sit in a chair for hours a day, typing our hearts away, for pennies a day (at least in my case)? Perhaps we’re a little insane. And the beauty of it is we don’t care. We’re doing what we love.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: Just thank you for hosting me today. Thank all you awesome readers for your comments and thoughts. You’re the ones that keep us writing, you know. If you have a chance, stop by my blog and see what’s happening. http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com.



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15. Cover Reveal! Deceptions by Sean Hayden

DecCRbanner

DECEPTIONS

(The Demonkin, #2)

by

Sean Hayden

Published with Untold Press

Release Date: October 21, 2014

Deceptions

The great State of California has elected themselves a new governor…and he’s a vampire! Many hope it will bring some peace between the humans and vampires. Many don’t, which could be the reason someone is trying to kill him. Knowing they can’t protect him from supernatural terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security turns to the only people who can, the FBI. More importantly, their only vampire agent. Ashlyn may be Governor Greer’s only hope, but can she keep him alive without starting a war of her own? When the lines begin to blur and it becomes difficult to separate her enemies from her allies, Ashlyn may end up doing just that.

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seanhayden

Born the son of a fire chief, Sean naturally developed a love of playing with fire. His family and friends quickly found other outlets for his destructive creativity. Writing is his latest endeavor.

Always a fan of the macabre, mythical, and magical, Sean found a love of urban fantasy and horror. After writing several novels in this genre, he found, fell in love with, and immersed himself in steampunk. He has always wanted to rewrite history and steampunk gave him that opportunity.

Sean currently lives in Florida as a fiber-optic engineer as well as an author. He was blessed with the two most amazing children he could ever hope for, has met the absolute love of his life, who coincidentally is his partner in everything. His hobbies include grand designs on world domination as well as a starring role in his own television sitcom.

 

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Click on the titles below to learn more about Sean Hayden’s books

Demonkin Series

Origins

Deceptions

Rise of the Fallen Series

My Soul to Keep

Your Soul to Take

Anthologies

Flashy Fiction and Other Insane Tales Vol 1 & 2

Short Stories/Novellas

The Ghost of Christmas Last

Lady Dorn


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16. abandoned: taken

by David Massey Chicken House / Scholastic 2014 Teens in peril. That's where you lose me. I try to read books as "blind" as possible, knowing as little as I can going in so I can let the freshness of the story carry me. Sometimes, though, I get a sense early in a book that it's going to piss me off. In the past when I was a younger man and felt like I had a lifetime to read everything I'd

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17. MMGM Links (9/22/14)

Assembling these MMGM links after a looooooong day of drafting/brainstorming. So here's hoping there aren't too many mistakes. Sorry if there are. Brain = tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired. But thank you all so much for all the awesome support for middle grade!

- Annie McMahon is gushing about...*blush* EXILE, by, um, me. (wow, THANK YOU). So if you'd like to see what she thought, click HERE 
- Heidi Grange is cheering for PAPERBOY. Click HERE to see why. 
- Amara Jabber is highlighting THE MARK OF THE DRAGONFLY. Click HERE to see her review. 
- Janet Smart continues gushing about HANK ZIPZER again, this week focusing on THE ZIPPITY ZINGER. Click HERE to read her review.
- Clare Caterer is in love with THE RED PYRAMID. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Lucy at Booksylvania wants everyone to want THE UNWANTEDS. Click HERE to read her review. 
- Suzanne Warr is living for THE YEAR OF THE PANDA. Click HERE to see her feature. 
- Rcubed is talking about THE SUMMER I SAVED THE WORLD...IN 65 DAYS. Click HERE to see why. 
- Greg Pattridge is stirred up for RILEY MACK STIRS UP MORE TROUBLE. Click HERE to read his review.  
- Rosi Hollinbeck has two reviews, and two awesome GIVEAWAYS.  LEROY NINKER SADDLES UP and FAMILY TIES. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is putting his faith in RORY'S PROMISE. Click HERE to see why. 
- Katie Fitzgerald is caught up in GREENGLASS HOUSE. Click HERE to see why.  
- Kami Kinard is studying THE BOY PROJECT. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Susan Olson has chills for THE WALKING DEAD. Click HERE to see her review. 
- Jenni Enzor is obsessed with THE TWO PRINCESS OF BAMARRE. Click HERE to see why.  
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome! 
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Jennifer Rumberger always has an awesome MMGM feature on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.  
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week. 
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.  


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me. 

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18. My tweets

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19. Celebrating Banned Books

I’ve never been a fan of people telling me what to do. I’m open to book suggestions, but when people tell me NOT to read something, I’m probably much more likely to pick that book up. Which is why I love Banned Books Week. I read my son his first banned book when he was […]

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20. The utter delight found in "Where My Wellies Take Me..."


Where My Wellies Take Me...
by Clare & Michael Murpurgo is one of those books that is so pretty and smart that I hesitate to do much of any kind of review because it's too hard not to lump the superlatives and make it sound impossible. I want to tell you it functions remarkably well as a poetry anthology, that Pippa's story of gentle outdoor adventure will appeal to kids and parents who enjoy a good jaunt and that Olivia Lomenech Gill's scrapbook style design and artwork is classic in all the best ways.

Oh heck. I love this book and I'm not afraid to just say tell you so.

The basic story is simple: Pippa sets off from her kind Aunt Peggy's on a trek through the countryside (hence the need to wear her wellies). She visits a local farmer, takes a ride on his horse, has a lunch, considers some birds, pigs and dandelions, plays Pooh sticks, spies a fisherman (and dwells on the end of life for a fish) and makes it back to the village in time to be crowned the unexpected victor of a race.

What elevates the book is the accompaniment of so many impressive poems from the likes of Ted Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Yeats, Rossetti and more. The poems are often short, easy to understand and directly applicable to the text. The combination, with the great scrapbook pages and Pippa's story, makes this a lovely read and also a book to pore over for hours while studying the art.

Some books are treasures and Where My Wellies Take Me... certainly fits that standard. The very young will like Pippa a lot but I think it actually might reach best for the 6 & up crowd - 8 -10 year olds could be the best age of all. Really, though, it depends on the child. You'll know when you look at it if it fits for the explorer in your life. I hope it does.

Here are a couple of spreads from the Olivia Lomenech Gill's website:


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21. Bill Moyers Put Together a Nice Summary of Climate Change Science

That you can see by clicking here

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22. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Trailer

Again, this looks good! Click on the image to go watch the official trailer on YouTube:

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23. 5 Secrets for Cultivating Creativity


Creativity is tough to define and tougher still to write about. I’m no expert, but I know what works for me, and likely, you know what works for you. So I thought it might be fun to see what a few famous creative people had to say about the subject. I hope one of these nuggets inspires you. I’m putting a few up on my own bulletin board pronto.  :)

 (Note:  I apologize for the wonky spacing you'll see below. It looks perfect on the "compose" page.)

To cultivate creativity:

1.  Don’t overthink.


“It’s impossible to explain creativity. It’s like asking a bird, ‘How do you fly?’ You just do.” 
                                                                 –Eric Jerome Dickey

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
                        –Ray Bradbury

“The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ sense.” 
                                                                –Pablo Picasso

“Rational thoughts never drive people’s creativity the way emotions do.”
                                                                          –Neil deGrasse Tyson



2.  Stop worrying that everything you write has to be perfect.

     “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
                                                                           –Scott Adams


“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”
                                   –Edwin Land

“There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.”
                                                                    –Brene Brown


3.  Just do it.

    “Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits.”
                                                                   –Twyla Tharp


“Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the
most extraordinary results in human culture.”
                                   –Ken Robinson


“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
                                                                           –Sylvia Plath


4.  Believe in your own unique and beautiful mind.
 
                    “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look 
                    at things in a different way.”

                                   –Edward de Bono

                 “Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.”
                                                                           –Bill Moyers


  “Rule of art:  Can’t kills creativity!”
                                   –Camille Paglia


5.  Trust your instincts…

“A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.”
                                                   –Frank Capra


…and let yourself go.

“Creativity makes a leap, then looks to see where it is.”
                                          –Mason Cooley



More excellent posts about creativity:

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/08/25/the-psychology-of-writing-daily-routine/

http://writerunboxed.com/2014/09/12/the-surprising-importance-of-doing-nothing/

This is my last post for TeachingAuthors. I’ll miss my friends here, as well as you readers who comment to let us know you're reading (that’s always appreciated!). But I’m not disappearing entirely. I’ll be blogging at a new blog called Picture Book Builders, along with seven other published picture book authors and illustrators. Every Tuesday and Friday we'll explore one of the many, many elements that go into the making of great picture books. Hope to see you there! Check us out at www.picturebookbuilders.com


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24. एहसास हो गया


एक पल ही नज़रे हटाई हमने, तो वो ज़ालिम नाराज़ हो गया,
उसकी हँसी जो होंटो से लगाई, तो दिल-ए-गुलज़ार वो साज़ हो गया,

सूनी सी सर्दी में ठिठुरी राहें थी,तन्हाइयों की गर्म चादर ओढ़े,
ऐसी धुन में रमे हम उसके, जैसे वो अब दिल की आवाज़ हो गया,

भूले थे खुद को हम ऐसे, जैसे सुबह में रात घुली हो,
पर कुछ लगाए उसकी बातों ने, दिल अपना ऊँचाइयाँ छूता बाज़ हो गया,    

ना कभी किया वो एहसास, इस कदर दिल संभाले रखा था, 
बस नज़रे होते ही चार, उस प्रेम की व्यथा का आगाज़ हो गया

किसको हैं अब होश ज़माने का, उसमे ही डूबे है हम "ए दोस्त"   
अब तो हुस्न-ए-जहान वो,  मेरे पल पल का एहसास हो गया ||

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25. The Truth About Twinkie Pie: Review Haiku

Southern-fried cooking
comes to Long Island, packed with
family secrets.

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh. Little Brown, 2015, 352 pages.

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