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1. Reviews/praise for LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN

My editor just sent me this fantastic review of LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN from Publishers Weekly!

"In this gleefully absurd tale, Smith (Chronal Engine) unfurls a series of alien-inspired hijinks at a space-themed motel on Florida’s Space Coast...Arnold’s skillfully drafted spot cartoons give this offbeat story a lively layout and match Smith’s light and breezy tone, grounded by the occasional serious moment. The result is an engaging, humorous look at humans learning that they’re not alone in the universe."

--Publishers Weekly

And check out these awesome blurbs!

"Aliens, government coverups, bionic limbs, kooky scientists, luau pigs, conspiracy theories, and mysterious patio furniture—I don't know about you, but these are the things I look for in a great story. Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn has all of them, plus a huge dose of humor. Read it and enjoy, but be warned: You may never want to eat roast pork ever again."

—Matthew Holm, co-creator of Babymouse and Squish

“Here is a story for everyone who has ever wondered if that brilliant green light was a UFO.  It's for everyone who has ever imagined living on Mars. In short, it's for everyone who has ever asked the question, 'who am I, really?’  Read it, then make your reservations at the Mercury Inn.  Just don’t be alarmed if you find an alien in the refrigerator."

--Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor author of The Underneath

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2. 2014 TLA Conference Signings by Texas Authors

Next week is the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in San Antonio!  As usual, there are a bunch of Texas authors signing books and/or ARCs.  Here's what I've got so far.  Note that times and places are subject to change.  The complete schedule for authors signing in the Author Area is available here.


Tuesday, April 8:

6:00-7:00 Jennifer Ziegler, Booth 1823 (Scholastic)

Wednesday April 9:

10:15 - 11:00 Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Author Area
10:15 - 11:00 Don Tate, Author Area
10:15-11:00 P.J. Hoover, Booth 2522 (Overlooked Books)
10:15-11:00 Jessica Lee Anderson, Booth 2522 (Overlooked Books)

11:00-12:00 Dotti Enderle, Author Area
11:00-12:00 Jo Whittemore, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)

12:00-1:00 Rachel Caine, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)

1:00-2:00 Molly Blaisdell,  Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)

2:00-3:00 Cynthia Leitich Smith, Author Area
2:00-3:00 Libba Bray, Author Area
2:00-3:00 Greg Leitich Smith, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)
2:00-3:00 Victoria Scott, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)
2:00-3:00 Don Tate, Booth 2440 (Charlesbridge)

3:00-4:00 Liz Garton Scanlon, Author Area
3:00-4:00 Varian Johnson, Author Area
3:00-4:00 E.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Author Area 

3:00-4:00 PJ Hoover, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)
3:00-4:00 Jessica Lee Anderson, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)

4:00-5:00 K.A. Holt, Author Area 

4:00-5:00 Kay Honeyman, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)

Thursday, April 10

9:00-10:00 Nikki Loftin, Author Area
9:00-10:00 Don Tate, Booth 2522 (Overlooked Books)

10:00-11:00 Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Author Area

10:45-11:15 P.J. Hoover, Booth 1448 (Tor)

11:00-12:00 Joy Preble, Author Area

12:00-1:00 Dotti Enderle, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)

1:00-2:00 E. Kristin Anderson, Author Area
1:00-2:00 Jerry Hatchett, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)

2:00-3:00 Sophie Jordan, Author Area
2:00-3:00 Mari Mancusi,  Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)
2:00-3:00 Krissi Dallas,  Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)
2:00-3:00 A.G. Howard,  Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)

3:00-4:00 Varsha Bajaj, Booth 1548 (Albert Whitman)

Friday, April 11

9:30-10:30  Bethany Hegedus, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)
9:30-10:30  Joy Preble, Booth 1443 (Book Festivals of Texas)

10:00-11:00 Lupe Ruiz-Fores, Author Area

11:00-12:00 Kathi Appelt, Author Area

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3. A Dino a Day Special: Illustration by C.S. Jennings

I am delighted to present this awesome illustration by author/illustrator C.S. ("Christopher") JenningsCyn and I had the pleasure of meeting Christopher a couple years back at the Austin Comic Con, where we discussed the possibility of his doing a dino-related sketch for me.  We talked over a couple ideas until I did the A Dino a Day Strikes Back feature last fall to celebrate the release of CHRONAL ENGINE in paperback, and then Christopher did THIS:   


Per his web site, "C.S. Jennings is a professional illustrator specializing in concept work, children's, and editorial illustration. He brings top shelf know-how to the publishing, gaming, editorial, and entertainment industries. (Did we tell you about that one time when he was an animation lead for Richard Linklater's "A Scanner Darkly?" That was pretty cool.) He's an author too, which he is doing more of these days. He calls Austin, Texas home. He has an extensive hat collection, many too hot to wear in his home state."

Jeff Crosby (l) and C.S. Jennings (r) at Comic Con
Christopher was also gracious enough to take the time to answer a couple of questions.
Both of my recent novels (CHRONAL ENGINE and LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN) feature illustrations.  You've illustrated picture books and graphic novels, as well as the Jacob Wonderbar series (written by Nathan Bransford) of middle grade novels.  Can you tell us a bit about how you approach illustrating for a novel?  Is it different than illustrating for a picture book?   Or graphic novel?

Illustrating for a chapter book definitely offers a different experience from picture books and graphic novels. First off, the approach to the characters has to change. My picture book characters are more round, soft. Chapter books are aimed at an older group, so the edges get sharper, the characters pulled and stretched to be taller. The themes in the older books are darker too, and this translates into the illustrations. There may be more shadow applied, heavier line in the art, more grim expressions or character design. 

Chapter books and graphic novels, well … Graphic novels have 200 times the illustration in them, whereas chapter books feature mostly spot illustrations. When I approach graphic novel characters I try to keep things simple. One book I did, the character had a red striped shirt on. Drawing all those stripes probably added 15 hours to the book. Also, the characters in chapter books are black and white (in the interior). The tonal pallet is greatly reduced, with a smaller spectrum within to communicate. This is also defined by the printing process and the generally lower quality paper printed upon. Anything over 30% black gets too dark really quickly, anything under 5% disappears.

What does your average day (when you're working on a project) look like?

I have a day job, so I come home, eat a quick dinner, and get into the studio as quickly as I can. I begin each project by listing out the illustrations in a checklist. I make a column for each step--roughs, revisions, final line, adding tones, how much time it will take, that kind of stuff. I try to spend time with the manuscript section I am illustrating that day beforehand to let my brain start chewing on the images. After that, it's warm up time at the drawing table, getting to the place where my brain and my hand line up. Then it's off to the races (the tasks that evening defined by the checklist). I play loud music in the studio. It helps to create a fully immersive environment. Some people can watch TV and work. I can't. I need it to be my pencil, my paper, and my hand. All else exists outside that bubble.

You are a member of the Armadillustrators, a consortium of Austin illustrators.  Can you tell us a bit about that?
Christopher, Don Tate, Jeff Crosby
Critique groups!!!! EVERYONE should be in one. We meet once a month. Our group talks not just about illustration, but also writing. The group discussion is open and fair, with each member free to say what he sees in the illustrations or text. It's so great (and important, I think) to get another set of eyes on your work. They see things you don't, elements that aren't working, as well as those that can help the story. The ideas offered up are for the taking, or can be disregarded. This group has been key to the development of myself and my work. I am so fortunate to have this group.

You also write your own books.  Can you tell us a bit about how you look at the intersection of text and art when it's your own?

Hmmm. Great question. I write picture books and board books, so I'll talk about the relationship from there first. Text and art work hand in hand. When I am writing, I pare down the words. What's the LEAST I can say for this scene? I try to stay aware of "showing and not telling." For instance, if the character is going to pour water out of a bucket, I don't write, "Mr. Jimbers picked up the bucket and poured the water out." He is holding the bucket in the illustration, so I can cut those words. "Mr. Jimbers poured the water out." Can I shorten it even more? Mr. Jimbers is tipping the bucket, blue stuff is coming out …. "Mr. Jimbers poured." In a picture book the drawing does so much of the work. Emotion, characters cues, time, and place are defined by the drawings. There is a concept in the industry that says you should be able to still understand the picture book without the words. (Which makes sense as so many in the audience cannot actually read.)

When I receive a manuscript for a chapter book, I am looking for the places in the text where I can share moments that will grip the reader. Whether it's an emotion, some fun character, or cool element, I ask myself, "What would I want to see as the reader?" Admittedly, sometimes it's "What do I want to draw?" "Ah, sweet! Spaceships!" or, "this character is awesome!" Sometimes it's a wacko character design. Other times, as in the Jacob Wonderbar books, it's someone historical. "Einstein! Napoleon? I've always wanted to do draw them!" I am chomping at the bit to draw Teddy Roosevelt.

Thanks!  For more information, Christopher's web site is here and his twitter handle is @dajanx



Above are a couple of the "inspiration pieces" for the illustration above (photos by Sam Bond Photography). 

And here are links to the rest:

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4. Audio book version of CHRONAL ENGINE!

I am delighted to announce that the audio book version of CHRONAL ENGINE is now available from audible.com!  Click here to download/order!

The narrator is Andrew Keltz, who has a background in theatre and has a BA from Northwestern University.

Boo!



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5. Cover art reveal for LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN!

I'm thrilled to present the cover art I just received for LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan 2014)!  It's by Andrew Arnold, who also did the interior illos.


LITTLE GREEN MEN AT THE MERCURY INN is a comedic middle grade story about three friends at a motel in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and what happens when a manned space launch at Kennedy Space Center is scrubbed due to the appearance of an unidentified flying object over Cape Canaveral.

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6. A Dino a Day Strikes Back: A CHRONAL ENGINE Celebration Day 12

 
Welcome to Day 12 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

The paperback of CHRONAL ENGINE is available today!

Today's T-shirt is from Zazzle.com and features a riff on the popular WWII slogan "Keep Calm and Carry On."  I confess that I kind of prefer Churchill's formulation: "For each and for all, as for the Royal Navy, the watchword should be 'Carry on and Dread Nought.'"

But "Keep Calm and Ignore the Raptor" is pretty good, too.

The pictures were taken at Moody Gardens in Galveston last summer, at their Dinos Alive! exhibit.   They basically had about a dozen animatronic dinosaurs on display in conjunction with a 3D movie - the premise of which seemed to be a bunch of folks getting lost in the past :-) (We didn't see the movie itself).

They didn't have a Velociraptor, but they did have an Ornithomimus, which qualifies as a "maniraptor," and hence "raptor."  (Okay, I'm stretching it a little).  Anyway, here are the pics:

Big theropod head for posing next to/on top of
Baryonyx and me
Styracosaurus
Ornithomimus
T.rex, naturally

A nest of Edmontosaurus

A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum 
Day 3: Waller Creek Boat House
Day 4: Hartmann Prehistoric Garden
Day 5: UT Alumni Center
Day 6: O. Henry House and Museum
Day 7: Santa Rita Rig No. 1
Day 8: Texas Memorial Museum (Piranhas)
Day 9: Night Wing
Day 10: Austin Nature and Science Center Day 11:Japanese Garden at Zilker Park


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7. A Dino a Day Strikes Back: A Chronal Engine Celebration! Day 11!

 
Welcome to Day 11 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

DINOSAUR!  In Japanese.  So it seemed appropriate to take the picture at the Japanese Garden in Zilker Park in Austin.  Photos are by Sam Bond of Sam Bond Photography.

 



On the stepping stones over the koi pond
A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum 
Day 3: Waller Creek Boat House
Day 4: Hartmann Prehistoric Garden
Day 5: UT Alumni Center
Day 6: O. Henry House and Museum
Day 7: Santa Rita Rig No. 1
Day 8: Texas Memorial Museum (Piranhas)
Day 9: Night Wing
Day 10: Austin Nature and Science Center

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8. A Dino a Day Strikes Back: A Chronal Engine Celebration Day 10!


Welcome to Day 10 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

 Poor T.rex, his arms never get any respect. :-).  But they're still bigger than Carnotaurus's...

Today's T-shirt is from zazzle.com and features pics from the Austin Nature and Science Center at Zilker Park.  The place has a visitor's center and a great garden and pond, along with a Dino Pit and a Birds of Prey exhibit.  Definitely worth a visit!

At the pond
All these guys were there in the Cretaceous except the heron (and the human)



Barn owl!

A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum 
Day 3: Waller Creek Boat House
Day 4: Hartmann Prehistoric Garden
Day 5: UT Alumni Center
Day 6: O. Henry House and Museum
Day 7: Santa Rita Rig No. 1
Day 8: Texas Memorial Museum (Piranhas) 
Day 9: Night Wing




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9. A DINO A DAY STRIKES BACK:A CHRONAL ENGINE CELEBRATION! Day 9

 
Welcome to Day 9 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

Nightwing!

Okay, not exactly. :-).


Today's Dino a Day T-shirt features T.rex on a bicycle with the moon in the background, a riff on the iconic scene from E.T. Naturally, T.rex is not using the handlebars.   T-shirt is from zazzle.com.

I'm standing next to the Night Wing sculpture at the corner of Congress Avenue and Barton Springs Road, near the Congress Avenue Bridge, home to the world's largest urban bat colony.


Alas, it doesn't seem that bats evolved until after the Cretaceous, but appeared not long after.

 A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum 
Day 3: Waller Creek Boat House
Day 4: Hartmann Prehistoric Garden
Day 5: UT Alumni Center
Day 6: O. Henry House and Museum
Day 7: Santa Rita Rig No. 1
Day 8: Texas Memorial Museum (Piranhas)

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10. A DINO A DAY STRIKES BACK: A CHRONAL ENGINE CELEBRATION DAY 8


Welcome to Day 8 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

Today we feature a fishy (heh) interlude:  PIRANHAS RULE! Shirt is from zazzle.com.

Photos were taken at the Texas Memorial Museum, where it's about more than just dinosaurs.  During the Mesozoic, central Texas was part of the coast of the Western Interior Seaway, and so was home to some rather large aquatic critters.  Alas, piranhas don't seem to have been around back then, but one of my favorite fish with razor sharp teeth, Xiphactinus, was.  Scroll down for pics!

Giant turtle, Protostega
Big fish, Xiphactinus
Looking Mosasaurus in the mouth
My, what big teeth you have...
A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum 
Day 3: Waller Creek Boat House
Day 4: Hartmann Prehistoric Garden
Day 5: UT Alumni Center
Day 6: O. Henry House and Museum
Day 7: Santa Rita Rig No. 1

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11. A Dino a Day Strikes Back: A CHRONAL ENGINE Celebration Day 7

 
Welcome to Day 7 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

In the spirit of Sinclair Oil (and Texas), these pics were taken at the Santa Rita No. 1 oil rig, on display at MLK and San Jacinto, on the University of Texas campus.

 Sinclair Oil, of course, used to feature a "Brontosaurus" as its symbol (and back in the day, Sinclair was a sponsor of many paleo-digs out West.):



The Santa Rita No. 1 is the first oil well on University of Texas lands in west Texas (about halfway between Austin and El Paso).  The oil well flowed from 1923 to 1990. This rig was moved to Austin in 1940. 

 A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum 
Day 3: Waller Creek Boat House
Day 4: Hartmann Prehistoric Garden
Day 5: UT Alumni Center
Day 6: O. Henry House and Museum

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12. A Dino a Day Strikes back: A Chronal Engine Celebration! Day 6

 
Welcome to Day 6 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!



These pics were taken by Sam Bond of Sam Bond Photography at the O.Henry House and Museum


On the porch

Listening to the only recording of O. Henry on the Gramophone
Out back
William Sidney Porter lived in the house between 1893 and 1895.  Every May, the site hosts the O. Henry Pun-Off. .Alas, it appears that he was not the first to refer to Austin as the "City of the Violet Crown" in print...

A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum 
Day 3: Waller Creek Boat House
Day 4: Hartmann Prehistoric Garden
Day 5: UT Alumni Center

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13. A Dino a Day Strikes Back: A CHRONAL ENGINE Celebration Day 5

 
Welcome to Day 5 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

In case you ever wondered "How to Eat a Triceratops," this T-shirt (from zazzle.com) features a helpful diagram illustrating the choicest cuts. 



The photos were taken, appropriately enough, in front of a sculpture of another large horned animal: a longhorn at the Texas Exes Alumni Center.  The cattle drive, of course, is part of Texas lore, and Bevo, a longhorn steer, is the mascot of the University of Texas at Austin.

And, recently, scientists announced the discovery of a dinosaur named Nasutoceratops, whose horns looked kind of like those of Bevo's...

A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum 
Day 3: Waller Creek Boat House
Day 4: Hartmann Prehistoric Garden

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14. A Dino a Day Strikes back: A Chronal Engine Celebration Day 4!

 
Welcome to Day 4 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

Shirt is from Zazzle.com and features a T.rex with a death ray laser coming out of its mouth, warning of the dangers of science.  Or maybe, science fiction :-).  Photos are by Sam Bond of Sam Bond Photography.

The Hartmann Prehistoric Garden at Zilker Park is one of my favorite spots in Austin.  It features plants that either existed during or had ancestors with similar forms that existed during the Mesozoic and, thus, were contemporaneous with the dinosaurs.
Ornithomimid sculpture.  Its tracks were found at the site.

 

A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum 
Day 3: Waller Creek Boat House

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15. A Dino a Day Strikes Back: A Chronal Engine Celebration Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX
 

T.rex hates rowing!  In addition to those puny arms, he probably displaces around 5 tons.  The shirt is from zazzle.com.  Photos are by Sam Bond of Sam Bond Photography.


Working out on the erg

The new workout room

Wielding oars
Austin is a great place for sports of the rowing/paddling ilk.  Both the Texas Rowing Center (located behind Austin High) and the Austin Rowing Club (headquartered in the Waller Creek Boathouse behind the Four Seasons) offer novice sculling classes (ARC also offers sweep rowing classes).  I had great fun with the Introduction to Rowing class at ARC and was a member a few years back, when they still had the old boathouse.

In addition, the University of Texas maintains a woman's team and a men's club team.
Grrr....
A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)
Day 2: Texas Memorial Museum

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16. A Dino a Day Strikes Back: A CHRONAL ENGINE Celebration Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

Ask me about my T.rex!  With the exception of the above, photos are by the awesome Sam Bond of Sam Bond Photography.

With Smilodon.  Not a T.rex.
 This strangely hilarious shirt (scroll down) is from etsy.com.

I found this one last fall, when Shirley Lukenbill, professor of children's literature at the University of Texas at Austin, posted it on my facebook page, so it seemed oddly appropriate to take the pictures at the Texas Memorial Museum, on the UT campus.

Horses.  Also not a T.rex.

T.rex!  Sort of. :-).
Unfortunately, the day we went, the museum itself was closed due to the UT football game...


T.rex and friends, from a few years back...

A Dino a Day Strikes Back Previous Days
Day 1: Palmer Events Center (Austin Marathon Expo)

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17. A Dino a Day Strikes Back: A CHRONAL ENGINE Celebration! Day One

Welcome to Day 1 of A Dino a Day Strikes Back, celebrating the paperback release of CHRONAL ENGINE, and the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

This T-shirt from Snorgtees features a traditional size/scale comparison of a human and various theropod dinosaurs (a Dilophosaurus, a Utahraptor, and a T.rex, I believe).  It seems that a significant number of the size comparisons on the Wikipedia dinosaur entries feature this image, which is the waving human from the Pioneer spacecraft gold plaque.  Apparently, they were first used by paleoartist Matthew Martyniuk (who refers to the silhouette as "Pioneer Dork," because of his seeming insouciance in the face of carnivorous theropods in close proximity).



These photos were taken at the Palmer Events Center, at packet pick-up during the Austin Marathon Expo in February 2013.  For some reason, the shirt seemed appropriate :-).  

Shadows of me and Cyn
The view from Palmer grounds
Expo and packet pickup



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18. A Dino a Day Strikes Back!


November 19 marks the release of the paperback edition of CHRONAL ENGINE and last month, the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX were released!

So, to celebrate, starting on November 8, I'm featuring twelve days of dinosaur (mostly T.rex) T-shirts (and, just maybe, a ninja or a piranha or two, although they didn't exist in the Cretaceous) at various locales around Austin, Texas! (For the first edition of A Dino a Day, click here!) 

Outtake from last year's A Dino a Day

And, if you missed it last year, check out the trailer for CHRONAL ENGINE, made by the talented Owen Ziegler:








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19. One Book, One San Diego (For Kids!): Jingle Dancer

Last week, Cyn and I headed out to San Diego, where she was honored by having Jingle Dancer chosen for the One Book: One San Diego (For Kids!) program. 

Cynthia did several days of events, including a visit to the new San Diego Central Library, the School in the Park, the Rosa Parks Elementary School, and the Lemon Grove Library.

We also had the chance to go to the zoo and take a run by the water front.

Here are some pics:

Elephants at San Diego Zoo
In front of koi pond
Giraffes!
 
Getting set up in the activities room at the Central Library
Standing by map of new library

Posing...
Shore birds at natural history museum
Cyn and me and an ankylosaur
Botanical garden
20 percent of the US carrier fleet
Stern of USS Midway.  You can eat there now...
Statue of iconic image....
Bob Hope.  In bronze. With audio (really).


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20. Book Buzz Blog Radio Interview on NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

Click here to check out the interview I did with Susannah Greenberg of Book Buzz about the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX.


And here's a pic of me in Lampasas, where I spoke during the day at Lampasas Middle School (home of the Badgers!):




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21. Texas Book Festival Children's and YA Panels [Updated]

The schedule for the 2013 Texas Book Festival has just been released!  Here's a handy listing of the children's and YA panels.  Note that I did not include the readings in the Children's Read Me a Story tent, which are ongoing all day Saturday and Sunday. Also note that the schedule is subject to change and it's entirely possible that I missed a coupled of the panels :-).  

Panels featuring Austin authors are indicated in bold. Panels featuring authors from other parts of Texas are indicated in italics.

Update: I will be moderating the On the Verge of Crazy panel with Diana Lopez and Karen Harrington at the Family Life Center (1300 Lavaca) and 11:30 on Saturday.  See you there!

SATURDAY

10-11 AM
Battle Bunny
Family Life Center (1300 Lavaca)
Jon Scieszka
Mac Barnett

10-11 AM
Haters Gonna Hate
Capitol Extension Room E2.030
e. E. Charlton-Trujillo

10-11 AM
My So-Called Life
Capitol Extension Room E2.014
Gabrielle Zevin
Joanna Philbin

10- 11 AM
Shared Spaces: Children's Picture Book Authors in One Studio
Capitol Extension Room E2.010
Sergio Ruzzier
John Marciano
Brian Floca
Sophie Blackall

10:30-11:30
Confessions of a Scholarship Winner
Capitol Extension Room E2.028
Kristina Ellis

11:30 - 12:15
Tomás Rivera Award
Capitol Extension Room E2.030
Guadalupe Garcia McCall

11:30-12:30
On the Verge of Crazy
Family Life Center (1300 Lavaca)
Diana Lopez
Karen Harrington

12:15 - 1 PM
Summer Changes Everything
Capitol Extension Room E2.014
Leila Sales
Bennett Madison
Gayle Forman

1 - 1:45 PM
Build It & They Will Come: Keeping Readers Hooked in a Series
Family Life Center (1300 Lavaca)
Jude Watson
Adam Gidwitz
Clark Rich Burbidge

 1 - 2 PM
A Midsummer Night's Scream
House Chamber
R.L. Stine

1:30 - 2:30 PM
Girl Power(s)
Capitol Extension Room E2.014
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Jessica Khoury
Kami Garcia
PJ Hoover

2:15 - 3 PM
The One and Only Ivan
Family Life Center (1300 Lavaca)
Katherine Applegate

3 - 3:45 PM
Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction
Capitol Extension Room E2.014
James L. Swanson
Steve Sheinkin

3:30 - 4:15 PM
Is It the End of the World As We Know It?
Family Life Center (1300 Lavaca)
Heather Terrell
Neal Shusterman

4:15 - 5:15 PM
Apocalypse Now
Capitol Extension Room E2.014
Brian Yansky
Matt de la Pena
Alexandra Coutts

SUNDAY

11 - 11:45 AM
At a Loss for Words
Capitol Extension Room E2.010
Bob Staake
Chris Raschka

12:15 - 1 PM
When Did You See Her Last?
House Chamber
Lemony Snicket

12:15 - 1 PM
You Are Getting Very Sleepy!
Capitol Extension Room E2.010
Gordon Korman

12:15 - 1:15 PM
Move Over, Katniss: New Heroines
Lone Star Tent
Aprilynne Pike
P. J. Hoover
Tracy Deebs
Amy Rose Capetta

1:30 -2:15 PM
Scavenger Hunt
Capitol Extension Room E2.010
Jude Watson
Xavier Garza

2:45- 3 PM
Friends in Low Places
Capitol Extension Room E2.010
Anne Ursu
Claire Legrand

 4 - 5 PM
Scary Tales
Capitol Extension Room E2.010
James Preller

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22. NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX new editions!


I am delighted to announce the release of the new editions of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO and TOFU AND T.REX!

Here's the ordering:

NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO
ISBN-13: 9781623520298
Indiebound (to come)
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

“Smith’s sparkling debut offers three seventh grade narrators, each of them precocious, intelligent, and wickedly funny…Readers will identify with these smart characters and enjoy the vicarious attendance at their idiosyncratic school.”
–Publisher’s Weekly

TOFU AND T.REX
ISBN-13: 9781623520311
Indiebound (to come)
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

 “This book will make kids laugh out loud.
–School Library Journal

They're available in paperback and as electronic editions from any online retailer (a hardcover will also be available) and can be ordered using the above-listed isbn's by any brick-and-mortar store.

Note that if you want a copy of NINJAS, PIRANHAS, AND GALILEO with the original cover, BookPeople still has some copies available.

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23. New school year...end of summer...

A couple days ago, the city of Austin public schools began the new year and classes begin at UT today.  

It's always seemed weird to me when begins in August, rather than the day after Labor Day, like it did in Chicago when I was growing up.  Anyway, I haven't been blogging a lot this summer, so here's a much-abbreviated post of "What I did last summer." 

Of course, the bulk of the summer was working on the follow-up to CHRONAL ENGINE :-).

In July, Cyn and I did a trip to Galveston, where we went to Moody Gardens and saw some penguins.  We also did a trip to the Railroad Museum and wandered around the Strand.

Avian dinosaurs at Moody Gardens
Another avian dinosaur at Moody Gardens
Cyn at the Bishop's Palace
Big cruise ship
Me and a diesel  locomotive. 
Me and a steam locomotive
At the Rain Forest Cafe

With the ghosts at the railroad museum...

Then, after just enough time at home to do laundry, we headed out to Honesdale, PA, to teach the Highlights Foundation YA Whole Novel Workshop.  It was a great deal of fun -- good food, relaxed, collegial atmosphere, and a lot of writing time.  Unfortunately, I took the draft of CEII down to the bones....  Best of all, it was about 25 degrees cooler than in Texas. :-). 

Giving my speech on Voice.
The cabin in the woods...
 

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24. 2015 Books by Austinites

Here's a preliminary list of books by Austin authors scheduled for publication in 2015!  For previous years' (2010-2014) lists, click here: "Austin Authors and Illustrators." Note that titles and pub dates are subject to change. 

Middle Grade/Tween

CHRONAL ENGINE II (final title to come), by Greg Leitich Smith (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015).

HOW TO MAKE A MILLION, by Jo Whittemore (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Spring 2015).

WATCH OUT FOR FLYING KIDS, by Cynthia Levinson (Peachtree 2015).

THE GREAT GOOD SUMMER, by Liz Garton Scanlon (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster 2015).

HOUSE ARREST, by K.A. Holt (Chronicle Books, Fall 2015).

AROUND THE CLOCK (AND BACK AGAIN), by Paige Britt (Scholastic, Spring 2015).

DINOSAUR BOY, by Cory Putnam Oakes (Sourcebooks 2015).

TO CATCH A CHEAT, by Varian Johnson (Arthur Levine/Scholastic Fall 2015).

Young Adult

FERAL PRIDE, by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick, Spring 2015).

THINGS I'LL NEVER SAY: SHORT STORIES ABOUT OUR SECRET SELVES, by Ann Angel (ed.)(Candlewick, Spring 2015)(with pieces by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Varian Johnson) 

UTOPIA, IOWA, by Brian Yansky (Candlewick 2015).

SCORCHED (NO. 3), by Mari Mancusi (Sourcebooks Fire, Fall 2015).

KISSING IN AMERICA, by Margo Rabb (HarperTeen Spring 2015).

Picture Books

STEP RIGHT UP: THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL JIM KEY, by Donna Bowman Bratton (Lee & Low 2015).

PIONEERS AND PIROUETTES, by Chris Barton, ill. by tbd. (Millbrook 2015).

SLAVE POET OF CHAPEL HILL (tentative title), by Don Tate (Peachtree 2015).

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25. REALITY BOY

REALITY BOY, by A.S. King (Little Brown, October 22, 2013)(ages 14+).  At the age of five, Gerald and his anger management issues became a national sensation when his family appeared on the reality TV show, Network Nanny.  Infamous as a spoiled brat who who acted out by committing acts of vandalism through bowel movements (really), Gerald is now in high school, trying to control his anger, avoid fights, deal with his parents, and somehow move forward, even if that means jail.

Told in a compelling first-person voice, REALITY BOY is at once funny, horrifying, and heartwarming.  More than just an examination of the excesses of "reality" television, REALITY BOY offers the gripping story of a boy coping with an extraordinary past and hoping to salvage something from the wreckage of his childhood.     

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