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Random Thoughts on Reading, Writing, Life, and Books, by Author Greg Leitich Smith
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Yesterday was the inaugural Young Adult Bookfest
(aka YABFest), sponsored by The Book Spot
, the City of Round Rock, the Round Rock and Pflugerville ISDs, and The Frisco
I was on a panel titled "Out of this World" with Sharon Bayliss
, Ernest Cline
, Krissi Dallas
, Rachel Harris
and Cory Putnam Oakes
! At Cory's instigation, here's a pic of us doing something called "Blue Steel:"
Here are a couple pics of the day, behind the scenes:
|CC Hunter, Cory Oakes, Mari Mancusi, Rachel Harris|
|Andrea Cremer and David Levithan|
|Andrea, PJ Hoover, Jill Bailey, David|
|Krissi, Lindsey Scheibe (Back, blue), Cory, Sharon|
Here are some pics fromt he Friday night reception:
|Jessica Lee Anderson, Cyn, PJ Hoover, Danny Woodfill|
|Julie Woodfill and Madeline Smoot|
|Cyn and me|
Thanks to all the sponsors, volunteers, and attendees! Congrats on a great first event!
BALL, by Mary Sullivan
2013)(ages 3+). In this nearly-wordless picture book, Dog is obsessed with playing fetch and Girl is happy to oblige. When Girl has to go to school, though, what's a dog to do?
BALL is hilarious fun, terrifically capturing every dog's biggest obsession (after food and sleep).
Here are a couple pics from the launch party Saturday:
|Mary Sullivan and Bethany Hegedus|
|Cyn and Mary|
|Erik Kuntz and me|
By: Greg Leitich Smith
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Nikki Loftin
, Cory Putnam Oakes
, Liz Garton Scanlon
, Cynthia Levinson
, Cynthia Leitich Smith
, Susan Kralovansky
, Austin author
, Bridget Zinn
, Add a tag
A couple weeks ago, Cyn, Chris Barton, and Tim Tingle were featured authors at an event at the LBJ Library sponsored by Reading is Fundamental. Here are some pics:
|Tim and Chris watch while Cyn displays JINGLE DANCER|
|Day Glo Brothers, Saltypie, and Jingle Dancer|
|Chris, Cyn, and Tim sign their books|
|Joy Hein, Kathi Appelt, and Cyn like Ike.|
|Monkey in the middle|
Then, last week, we attended a gathering at BookPeople
for the release of the late Bridget Zinn
. To celebrate, a group of Austin authors signed copies of the book, which are now available at BookPeople! To buy a copy, click here
|P.J. Hoover, Susan Kralovansky, Nikki Loftin, Cory Oakes|
|Liz Garton Scanlon, Me, and Cynthia Levinson|
|Cyn and me. Photo courtesy Cory Oakes|
BUILDING OUR HOUSE, by Jonathan Bean
2013)(ages 4+). A girl and her family live in a trailer while they build their new house. An informative text and fun, yet detailed, illustrations take the reader through the year-and-a-half long project.
Altogether, BUILDING OUR HOUSE is a terrific look at construction and tools and what makes -- and how to make -- the buildings we live in. Check out the Macmillan web page
for an activity guide and interior illustrations.
Last Sunday, Cyn and I participated in the biggest 10K run in Texas, the Capitol 10K! It was Cyn's first ever, and the first one I've done in years.
Here are some pics:
One of the fun things about it (and one of the fun things it shares with the Turkey Trot
) is the folks who wear costumes for the run. Here's just one:
|Jetpacks! It's blurry because they're moving so fast...|
Another of the fun things was the bands and music groups that played along the race route. Among my favorites were St. Martin's Lutheran Church playing "For unto Us a Child is Born" from Handel's Messiah
as we were climbing the 15th Street hill; the Connally High School Marching band under the MoPac bridge; and the Japanese drum group on Cesar Chavez.
|15th Street hill on the way down|
Many thanks to all the organizers, sponsors, volunteers and participants. Thanks also to the folks in Austin who put up with the traffic delays!
, author of the terrific Hunchback Assignments
series (see my recs of the first two books here
), is in the midst of an intriguing new crowd-funding project: a standalone graphic novel called MODO: EMBER'S END
They've got a pile of perks, including signed copies, T-shirts, original art, and Skype visits.
Here's what the funds are going toward:
We're looking for enough greenbacks to print a full-colour collector's edition of Ember's End. (It's gonna look real purrrty.) The artist and author will also be paid for their work. More importantly, we have several awesome stretch rewards in mind should we surpass our funding goal. Will it be buttons? T-shirts? Airships for everyone? Stay tuned.They have three more days to raise the goal of $15,000.
Here's the link to the Indiegogo EMBER'S END page.
And check out the trailer:
|Me and Leo|
In two days, the 3D version of Jurassic Park
is released, which explains the T-shirt.
It's been twenty years since the movie was originally released and it still has some of the best, most-true-to-life effects and realistic dinosaurs of any dinosaur movie, anytime, anywhere. And the score and main theme by John Williams are his best, IMHO.
I have a lot of favorite scenes, particularly the one where the lawyer gets eaten by the T.rex.
:-). It also formed the basis for some irreverent but nonetheless legitimate science:
In The Complete Dinosaur
(Indiana University Press 1997), M.K. Brett-Surman and James O. Farlow address the question thusly:
It is agreed by all living humans that the highlight of the movie Jurassic Park (Universal Studios 1993) was the consumption of the lawyer by the true hero of the movie, Tyrannosaurus rex. This brings up the obvious question: how many lawyers would it take to properly feed a captive T.rex?
The answer: it depends on whether a T.rex
is endothermic or exothermic (i.e., cold or warm-blooded). Their conclusion? If the T.rex
is warm-blooded, 292 lawyers per year. If the T.rex
is cold-blooded, 73 lawyers per year. Assuming the average lawyer weighs 150 pounds and weighs around 4.5 tons, that is. Now you know.
That said, my favorite scene of the movie was (and still is) is the one where Grant and Sadler first see the brachiosaur and the herd of hadrosaurs in the distance. It just has a majestic feel to it, and was the first time you actually saw dinosaurs as "real" animals:
So, yes, I'm going to see it in 3D, and enjoy every minute of it. :-).
P.S. The Complete Dinosaur
just issued as a second edition last fall and you should check it out.
has reached its pledge goal!
You can still pledge, though, and also buy some of the cool stuff offered by David Orr (Anatotitan) on his Redbubble site
Here's Dr. Hone's latest update post
Above is a special DINO A DAY T-shirt featuring one of David Orr's project logo design.
ICE!: THE AMAZING HISTORY OF THE ICE BUSINESS, by Laurence Pringle
/Boyds Mills 2012)(ages 8+). Before mechanical refrigeration, there was ice, which had to be harvested during the winter, stored, transported, and then delivered to customers. ICE! offers a fascinating glimpse into a lost industry and illuminates a portion of day-to-day life a century ago. Photos and sidebars offer additional information and insights.
So, this weekend marks the conflation of a series of somewhat disparate events that conspired together to culminate in some rather interesting culinary, err, mash-ups involving one or more of the Leitich Smiths (by which I mean, me.).
First, today marks three weeks since the Austin Marathon and, therefore, the official end of my "recovery" period (both in terms of workouts and dietarily). Essentially, this meant that while I was not going to indulge my every dietary whim (Fannie May Mint Meltaways at every meal! Jolly Rancher Watermelon candies on the hour!) , I was going to be less punctilious about what I ate.
Second, Cyn is at Vermont College teaching a workshop, which means there is a precedent for my undertaking some rather extreme dietary experiments. (For the record, at the end of the week long Pizza a Day diet plan, I lost 5 pounds).
So, anyway, the theme this time is hamburgers. Of a rather exotic variety. The first is the Great Dane Brat and Pretzel Burger at Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company, in Madison, Wisconsin. (Author E.M. Kokie introduced Cyn and me to the place after our round of school visits).
This burger has a beef patty, a bratwurst patty, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickle slices, and it's all served on a pretzel bun! It is heart-stoppingly good, with a surprisingly subtle, yet rich, flavor -- and the salt chunks add a nice punch. One of the best burgers I've ever had. It's also enormous :-). (I ended up eating the whole thing, even though I figured when I ordered it, I'd only have half).
While we were at the restaurant, I happened to remark that there was this place in Austin that served burgers on a -- get this -- donut bun, but that I had never been there.
Well, that place is Gourdough's Public House
, a brick-and-mortar incarnation of Gourdough's Big. Fat. Donuts
(one of the bright spots in Austin's food truck scene). And, of course, tonight, I had to go there.
They have an entire menu based on donuts -- all the entrees come with a donut, and even the salads are accompanied by a garlic donut (Really). And all the sandwiches come on a donut bun.
Note, however, that while donuts, these are not sugary confections -- they are more on the savory side (I confess that I was skeptical at first, too, but it turns out these things are pretty darn awesome). (The donuts themselves seem, in texture, somewhere between a traditional cake-style and glazed type).
Here are a couple pics of the Big burger, with pimento cheese blend, cilantro, red onion, and tomato:
The bun, not surprisingly, was rich, but it didn't overpower the burger. The cheese was well-matched and I liked the cilantro as well. And the chips were a nice complement -- I think fries would have been a bit much. (Verily). All in all, another of the best burgers I've ever had, and I'm anxious to try other things on the menu, as well.
Oh, and I did sample one of the desserts: the leprechaun donut, in honor of St. Patrick's Day. This confection consisted of a hot donut with a Guinness stout chocolate mint sauce. (Read that again, and then look at the pictures):
It was amazing. Again, rich without being overly sweet -- the Guinness seemed to cut some fo the sweetness of the chocolate sauce, and the mint added a nice aroma.
|Daspletosaurus, Field Museum|
Paleontologist and prolific blogger Dave Hone (Dave Hone's Archosaur Musings
) has a potential new project in the works: a study of cannibalism in Daspletosaurus
was a tyrannosaurid from a few million years earlier than T.rex
, and slightly smaller). As I understand it, he would be working with Darren Tanke
on analysis and prep work of one or more specimens (Darren Tanke is a preparator at the Royal Tyrell Museum and the one who led the Dino Hunting by Boat Project
a couple years back).
To help fund the project (i.e., travel expenses from the UK to Canada, supplies, publishing costs), he's set up a crowd-funding page at Microryza: Cannibalism in Giant Tyrannosaurs
. Check out the Updates
page and go here
for contributions/donor incentives by several renowned (paleo)artists, including Brett Booth, Luis Rey, and Julius Csotonyi.
In addition, David Orr of Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs
has designed a logo and is offering merchandise (T-shirts!) for sale on his RedBubble site
(proceeds go to Project Daspletosaurus).
P.S. Yes, I ordered a T-shirt. Don't tell Cyn
RIPTIDE, by Lindsey Scheibe
, May 2013)(ages 12+). It's the summer before senior year. Best friends and fellow surfers Ford and Grace are at different crossroads: Ford wants to move their relationship to the next level while padding his resume with an internship at Grace's father's law firm. Grace wants to somehow break free from the Ivy League track her parents have placed her on.
But that means she'll have to pay for college on her own. So she enters a major surfing competition, one being judged by the coach of the UCSD surfing team, in hopes of winning and landing a scholarship.
And that means, she doesn't have time for Ford. At least not in that
RIPTIDE offers an engaging narrative told in alternating voices -- a thoroughly entertaining read about an epic summer of change.
I am delighted to announce that the manuscript sometimes known as CHRONAL ENGINE II: THE WRATH OF KHAAN
is scheduled for publication by Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!
We don't actually have a final title yet (one of the working titles -- and the title in today's Publishers' Marketplace announcement -- is CHRONAL PATHFINDER, but that might change, as well). Obviously, this isn't the real cover either -- I just like the Pulp-O-Mizer
What's it about? Well, here's a teaser: Not long after the events of CHRONAL ENGINE, a mysterious letter found beneath the floorboards of the ranch house sends the teens back to the Cretaceous to rescue Mad Jack Pierson!
Thanks to my agent Ginger Knowlton
and new editor Jennifer Greene
Oh, and here's the Pulp-O-Mizer cover for CHRONAL ENGINE:
Just a few pics from the Chicago-Madison trip. Go check out Cynsations for more!
|Hancock, Drake, Palmolive|
|Frosty Lake Michigan|
|Oak Street Beach|
|One of the places where we were today|
|Outside Glenbard West|
I am delighted to report that I completed my first marathon of the century! It was also my slowest marathon (and the one with the most hills), which I attribute to both age and a couple of training glitches in the last month before the race. :-).
I last ran the Austin Marathon in 2000, when it was all downhill. Since then, the route has become a bit more picturesque, but the first half is mostly uphill.
The Expo, where various vendors display their wares and you pick up your bib, T-shirt, and timing chip, was held Friday and Saturday at the Palmer Events Center (we got there early, before most of the crowds had arrived):
|The race T-shirt|
Here's a pic of me before the race, at 6 in the morning before I headed out, looking grimly determined :-):
The start and the finish line were on opposite sides of the Capitol:
|Finish line at 10th and Congress|
|Gathering at 15th street for the start|
The race was held in conjunction with a half marathon and a 5k. (Typically, 2/3 of the participants are there for the half). This is also my first marathon with a cell phone camera, so I snapped a couple pictures along the way:
|Early in the race, looking south on Congress at Riverside|
|Around mile 20|
I finished with a personal worst (an hour longer than my personal best), but came in around the time I was expecting, so I was generally pleased.
|After the race|
|After the race, with finisher's medal!|
The race was very well organized and a lot of fun. Because it's through the neighborhoods, there were a lot of spectators sitting out on their lawns and cheering (Gillian Fedfearn, a Macmillan book rep, was among them!).
Thanks to all the organizers and sponsors and volunteers! The music and bands along the way were terrific (I particularly liked the Japanese drum group), and the Gatorade and water were plentiful.
So who's going to do the race with me next year?
Janni Lee Simner
is a prolific writer of short stories and novels for young readers. She's the author of the Bones of Faerie
trilogy, comprising Bones of Faerie
, Faerie Winter
, and the forthcoming Faerie After
Here, Janni poses with an origami Triceratops
made by her husband Larry Hammer
. She and Larry live in Tucson.
FERAL NIGHTS: Candlewick Press isbn-10/isbn-13:
0763659096 / 9780763659097
When Yoshi, a sexy, free-spirited werecat, tracts his big sister, Ruby, to Austin, he discovers that she's not only MIA; she's also the key suspect in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, sarcastic werepossum Clyde and his human pal Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of a friend.
When all three are snared in an underground kidnapping ring, they end up on a remote tropical island ruled by an unusual (even by shape-shifter standards) species. The island harbors a grim secret, and were-predator and were-prey must join forces in a fight to escape alive.
Fans of best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith's Tantalize quartet will thrill to see favorite sidekick characters-together with all-new ones-take to the fore in this wry, high-action entry in an exciting new series.
Fans of the Tantalize quartet will thrill to see werepossum Clyde and other favorite secondary characters -- plus all-new ones -- take to the fore in book one of an all-new series.
- Kirkus Reviews: "Teens who favor humorous paranormal romance that never takes itself too seriously will enjoy dialogue that sparkles with wit, filled with both literary and pop-culture references."
- Publishers Weekly: "Smith’s fantasy smoothly switches between the three protagonists’ perspectives, while expertly blending the mythical and the modern. The story’s sharp banter and edgy plot make for an entertaining and clever story about loyalty and reconciling differences."
- Booklist: "Smith takes readers back to the universe of the Tantalize quartet with this sexy, fast-paced new novel...[with] an ending that satisfies and should win her many new fans."
- The Horn Book: "Smith’s blend of supernatural suspense, campy humor, and romantic tension is addictive; allusions to both pop culture ('Thriller,' Monty Python) and literature (The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Most Dangerous Game) add to the fun. Most satisfying of all, Aimee and especially unassuming, injured Clyde leave their sidekick roles behind to come into their own."
ETERNAL: ZACHARY'S STORY: Candlewick Press
isbn-10/isbn-13: 0763651192 / 9780763651190
Reckless guardian angel Zachary has an unusual assignment. He’s meant to save the soul of Miranda, high-school theater wannabe turned glamorous royal vampire. Completely devoted to Miranda, Zachary takes his demotion to human form in stride, taking a job as the princess’s personal assistant. Of course, this means he has to balance his soul-saving efforts with planning the Master’s fast-approaching Deathday gala. Vivid illustrations by Ming Doyle elevate this darkly funny love story to a new dramatic level with bold black-and-white panels.
Cynthia Leitich Smith’s New York Times bestseller is reimagined as a graphic novel seen through the eyes of Zachary, teenage guardian angel.
In addition to the May 17 release (finally!) of Star Trek into Darkness
, 2013 looks to be a good year for movies based on children's and YA books.
Coming up this year are:Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Ender's GameThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Other movies this year based on books/plays/classic tales include:
Bless Me, Ultima
Jack the Giant Slayer
Jurassic Park 3D
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Great Gatsby
World War Z
Much Ado About Nothing
The Seventh Son
And based on comic books:
Iron Man 3
Man of Steel
Thor: The Dark Worlds
Cyn and I are safely back from YAK Fest! We had a great time road-tripping with Cory Putnam Oakes and Jessica Lee Anderson, although traffic on I-35 was the worst ever. (And we didn't allow anyone in the car who doesn't have three names in their byline).
Once we arrived in Keller, we were treated to a nice reception/dinner at the awesome Book Carriage Book Store. The next morning, Simone Elkeles delivered a rousing keynote, followed by our panels!
On my panel,Krissi Dallas spoke about creating worlds and names therefor; Tracy Deebs talked about apocalypses and Pandora's bad rap; and Andrea White talked about the inspiration for Surviving Antarctica.
Many thanks to all the organizers, sponsors, and volunteers!
Here are some pictures:
|Jason Henderson, Lori Aurelia Williams, Cory Putnam Oakes, Jessica Lee Anderson, and Cyn and Me.|
|The Elvis shrine at the Waco Chuy's|
|Cory, Cyn, Krissi Dallas, Me|
|Jason Henderson and Me|
|Traffic jam in Waco|
|Cory, Jessica, a Yak, Krissi, Cyn and Me|
February 2, Cyn and I will be on panels at the Montgomery County Book Festival!
Here's the schedule and list of authors:
Panel Title and Author List
Magic and Dragons and Mermaids, Oh My!
E. Kristin Anderson
Moderator: Molly Harras
Moderator: Belle Whittington
It’s the End of the World
As We Know It
Make Every Day Count
Moderator: Jonathan Maberry
Books With Bite
Reality is Great But
I Wouldn’t Want to
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Moderator: Missy Jane
Janni Lee Simner
Moderator: Ledia Runnels
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: SciFi Reads
Tweens Read Too
Greg Leitich Smith
David McGinnis Gill
Moderator: Jim Schmidt
Kimberley Griffiths Little
Moderator: Melissa Studdard
Things That Go BUMP
in the Night
Man! Those Corsets Were Tight!:
Michelle Hayes Pickett
Janet S. Fox
Moderator: Lana Meyers
9:00 - 10:00 am
Registration, Book Sales and
Entertainment in Commons
Keynote address in Theater with Jonathan Maberry
Session I Author Panels
Writing Workshop - Beginner
Author Signing Session I
Special Keynote Presentation
with DeeAnne Gist
Session II Author Panels
Writing Workshop - Intermediate
Author Signing Session II
Session III Author Panels
Author Signing Session III
Keynote Address in Theater with Sherrilyn Kenyon
4:00 - 5:00 pm
Closing Author Signing Session
WILD BOY: THE REAL LIFE OF THE SAVAGE OF AVEYRON, by Mary Losure
, ill. by Timothy Basil Ering
, March 2013)(ages 10+). In the last years of the 18th century, a boy -- about ten or eleven years old -- was captured in rural France. He'd been living on his own -- foraging in the forest, naked and running on all fours -- and no one knew where he came from. Ultimately, he was taken to Paris for study, where scientists tried to "civilize" him...
WILD BOY offers a fascinating look at one boy and human nature and what it means to be civilized -- a compelling and thought-provoking read.
Cyn and I are just back from the Montgomery County Book Festival, where we had an amazing time! Congrats on a terrific event and thanks for all the hard work by the organizers and volunteers!
My panel was titled "We're Not in Kansas Anymore: SciFi Reads," and included co-panelists Brian Falkner and David Macinnis Gill. I haven't read Brian's work, but am excited to do so now; and I'm thrilled that the third book in David's BLACK HOLE SUN series is forthcoming next month.
We had a great discussion, including how science fiction reflects society and inspirations of our respective works.
Here are some pictures:
|Opening night reception|
Check out Cyn's report here
for more photos!
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The Austin SCBWI Annual Conference has come and gone and was, as usual, a great success! This year's conference focuses largely on the picture book.
Speakers included illustrators E.B. Lewis and Patrice Barton; agents John Cusick, Rubin Pfeffer, and Erszi Deak; editors Neal Porter, Kathy Landwehr, and Tamra Tuller; and authors Shutta Crum and Cynthia Levinson.
Thanks to outgoing RA Debbie Gonzales, ARA Carmen Oliver, Illustrator Chair Mark Mitchell, and all the volunteers! Looking forward to the new administration of Shelley Ann Jackson, Sam Clark, and Amy Farrier!
Here are some pictures:
|Mark Mitchell, Julie Lake, Cyn, Liz Garton Scanlon|
|Debbie Gonzales and me during First Impressions panel|
|Jessic Lee Anderson, Lindsey Lane, Betty X. Davis|
|Jo Whittemore, Jeff Crosby, Emily Anderson, Nikki Loftin, Me|
|Bethany Hegedus, Gene Brenek, Vanessa Lee, Sean Petrie|
|First Impressions Panel|