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1. KidLit Author Events July 22-28

The dog days of summer are perfect for curling up with a good book in an air-conditioned room with a big window looking out over the beautiful Texas greenery. (Whew–was that enough prepositional phrases in one sentence?) I braved the heat Saturday morning to work in my yard, but ran head-first into a patch of poison ivy, so now I’m just staying indoors and trying not to scratch the rash. For those of you who don’t look like you’ve got a case of the measles, here are a few events going on around town you might want to look into:

July 23, Wednesday, 7:00 p.m.THE SWEET DEAD LIFE by Joy Preble
Katy Budget Books
Joy Preble, YA Author

Joy Preble joins the Young Adult Book Club to discuss THE SWEET DEAD LIFE. The angel book gets a Texas makeover from the author of the Dreaming Anastasia series.

“I found out two things today: One, I think I’m dying. And two, my brother is a perv.” So begins the diary of Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad year. Her mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was nine. Her older brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs—difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. Really sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.

Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her, looking pretty good. Better than ever, in fact. Downright… angelic. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that her brother didn’t survive the accident at all, and she isn’t just sick; she’s being poisoned. Casey has been sent back to help Jenna find out who’s got it out for her, a mystery that leads to more questions about their mother’s depression and their father’s disappearance.

July 24, Thursday, 10:00 a.m. THE WAR WITH THE ICE LADY by D. Scozzari
Katy Budget Books
Donna Scozzari, MG Author

Author Donna Scozzari  joins KBB’s Summer Middle Reader Book Club —Ages 8 to 12—to discuss her book THE NINTH REGION: WAR WITH THE ICE LADY, the first in a fantasy adventure series for early to mid chapter book readers. Gloria and Nathan are twin Kermode bears on a quest to rescue their big brother Nettle from the heartless Ice Lady. Leaving home in the dead of winter when the twins should be sleeping with their parents, they attempt to rescues their brother and the others that have been taken. Soon they learn that the world outside their hamlet is not a safe place and more than a match for them.

July 26, Saturday, 2:00 p.m.THE DRY by Rebecca Nolen
Barnes & Noble River Oaks
Rebecca Nolen, MG Author

Get Pop-Cultured: Local Sci-Fi & Fantasy Author Showcase! Join Rebecca Nolen, author of THE DRY, in celebration of Houston’s local Science Fiction/Fantasy authors.

In THE DRY, a deadly dry spell has left the earth parched and souls desperate. Crops are failing. Cities are starving. A missing newspaper man doesn’t account for much in times so terrible, except to the twelve-year-old son he left behind. When Elliot Sweeney discovers the search for his father has been called off, he boards a train alone to find him.

His quest leads Elliot into the depths of an abandoned mine, with a peculiar pocket watch, a blind burro, and a gutsy girl at his side. He discovers a world he never dreamed of, even in his worst nightmares, and lands smack in the middle of a war between two kingdoms. Monstrous insects, smiling villains, and dark riddles are everywhere. Deciding who to trust may prove to be his greatest challenge, while the fate of the world above hangs on Elliot’s choice.


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2. YA & KidLit Author Events July 15-21

Sometimes even big events sneak up on me. The Mississippi Mud Bash happening at Murder By the Book this week took me by surprise. So here’s a heads up for a major event coming up in September; Tweens Read 2014 will be held September 27 at South Houston High School in Pasadena, Texas.

This week’s events:

July 19, Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble, Vanderbilt Square
Three YA Authors, plus sci-fi workshop for kids

Solar Nova Author Panel: Join us for signings from local authors Brandy Truly  (THE SONAR TRILOGY), Jacqueline Patricks (FAIRYTALE APOCALYPSE ) and K.M. Montemayor  (THE CIRCLE). The authors will supply helpful advice for aspiring authors. Includes a sci-fi workshop for kids ages 8 and up.

SONAR: THE CRASHING by B. Truly FAIRYTALE APOCALYPSE by Jacqueline PatricksTHE CIRCLE by K. M. Montemayor



July 19, Saturday, 4:00 p.m.THE PROVIDER: Katie Lea Yates
Katy Budget Books
Katie Lea Yates, YA Author 

Katie Lea Yates signs her young adult book, THE PROVIDER.
The book: Finishing eighth grade and getting ready for high school is hard enough. Finding out that you can jump into the pictures you’ve drawn and become ruler of thousands of people makes it just a tiny bit tougher. Thankfully, I’m not alone. There’s a whole group of us. They’re very cool, and I love living with them. But it seems that I brought back a little more than my memories when I jumped into that first drawing-now I’m able to create things, or bring things from somewhere else, or . . . well, it’s complicated. And unfortunately, somebody might want us all dead.

July 20, Sunday, 3:00 p.m.THE MURDER COMPLEX by Lindsay Cummings
Murder By the Book
Mighty Mississippi Book Blast, Six YA Authors

Lindsay Cummings: THE MURDER COMPLEX (HarperCollins), an action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller. Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision. The plot thickens when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or is it part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES by Rachel HarrisRachel Harris: A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES (Entangled). Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, Alessandra D’Angeli is lost. Until the stars hear her plea. One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen…until she meets the infuriating—and infuriatingly handsome—surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in…and introduces her to a world filled with possibility. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything BURN OUT by Kristi Helvigshe’s come to love?

Kristi Helvig: BURN OUT (Egmont). The last girl on Earth…just got company. Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, a teenage girl yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.

Julie Murphy: SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY (HarperCollins) WhatSIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy if you’d been living your life as if you were dying—only to find out that you had your whole future ahead of you? When sixteen-year-old Alice is diagnosed with leukemia, her prognosis is grim. To maximize the time she does have, she vows to spend her final months righting wrongs—however she sees fit. She convinces her friend Harvey, whom she knows has always had feelings for her, to help her with a crazy bucket list that’s as much about revenge (humiliating her ex-boyfriend and getting back at her arch nemesis) as it is about hope (doing something unexpectedly kind for a stranger and reliving some childhood memories). But just when Alice’s scores are settled, she goes into remission. Now Alice must face the consequences of all she’s done, as well as her true feelings for Harvey. But has she done irreparable damage to the people around her, and to the one person who matters most?

THE BREAK-UP ARTIST BY PHILIP SIEGELPhilip Siegel: THE BREAK-UP ARTIST (Harlequin Teen). Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash.
Some work at the mall. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca’s older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple’s relationship into smithereens. One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and the football team’s star player, Steve. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars…. No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.

THE ART OF LAINEY by Paula StokesPaula Stokes: THE ART OF LAINEY (Harper Teen). Soccer-star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back. And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. and decide to use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

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3. KidLit Author Events July 8-14

VOICES OF PEARL HARBOR by Sherry Garland, Illustrated by Layne JohnsonI hope everyone enjoyed celebrating our Independence Day. My family had a great time in Fredericksburg at the National Museum of the Pacific War. Although I expected it to be there, it was still a thrill to see Sherry Garland and Layne Johnson’s gorgeous book VOICES OF PEARL HARBOR prominently displayed in the children’s book section.

Here’s what’s going on this week:

July 8, Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.UNCAGED by John Sandford and Michelle Cook
Murder By The Book
John Sandford and Michelle Cook, YA Authors

John Sandford and Michelle Cook will sign and discuss UNCAGED (Knopf for Young Readers) the first book in their new Singular Menace series. In UNCAGED, Shay Remby arrives in Hollywood with $58 and a handmade knife, searching for her brother, Odin. Odin’s a brilliant hacker but a bit of a loose cannon. He and a group of radical animal-rights activists hit a Singular Corp. research lab in Eugene, Oregon. The raid was a disaster, but Odin escaped with a set of highly encrypted flash drives and a post-surgical dog.

When Shay gets a frantic 3 a.m. phone call from Odin—talking about evidence of unspeakable experiments, and a ruthless corporation, and how he must hide—she’s concerned. When she gets a menacing visit from Singular’s security team, she knows: her brother’s a dead man walking.

What Singular doesn’t know—yet—is that 16-year-old Shay is every bit as ruthless as their security force, and she “will” burn Singular to the ground, if that’s what it takes to save her brother.

Sneak a preview peek here!

July 9, Wednesday, 10:00 a.m.BIZZ AND BUZZ MAKE HONEY BUNS by Dee Leone
Katy Budget Books
Dee Leone, PB Author

Local author Dee Leone will visit KBB for a special story time with her new book BIZZ AND BUZZ MAKE HONEY BUNS (Grosset & Dunlap). Bizz and Buzz are two bees who want to make honey buns. So, they ask their friend Bear for his recipe. Although the directions seem simple, Bizz and Buzz make mistake after mistake, like finding a little “flower “instead of adding a little “flour.” What will “bee”-come of the honey buns?

July 12, Saturday, 2:00 p.m. OVETA CULP HOBBY: COLONEL, CABINET MEMBER, PHILANTHROPIST by Debra Winegarten
Blue Willow Bookshop
Debra Winegarten, MG Nonfiction Author

Join author Debra Winegarten for a discussion of her new biography OVETA CULP HOBBY: COLONEL, CABINET MEMBER, PHILANTHROPIST. Oveta Culp Hobby (1905-1995) had a lifetime of stellar achievement. During World War II, she was asked to build a women’s army from scratch – and did. Hobby became Director of the Women’s Army Corps and the first Army woman to earn the rank of colonel. President Eisenhower chose her as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, making her the second woman in history to be appointed to a president’s cabinet. When she wasn’t serving in the government, Hobby worked with her husband, former Texas governor William P. Hobby, to lead a media empire that included the Houston Post newspaper and radio and TV stations. She also supported the Houston community in many ways, from advocating for civil rights for African Americans to donating generously to the Houston Symphony and the Museum of Fine Arts.

This first biography of a remarkable woman has been written for middle school readers. It traces her life from her childhood in Killeen to her remarkable achievements in Washington, DC, and Houston. Debra Winegarten provides the background to help young adult readers understand the times in which Hobby lived and the challenges she faced as a woman in nontraditional jobs. She shows how Hobby opened doors for women to serve in the military and in other professions that still benefit women today. Most of all, Oveta Culp Hobby will inspire young adults to follow their own dreams and turn them into tangible reality.

July 13, Sunday 2:00 p.m. KATHY'S ADVENTURES by Ricci Ivers Casserly
Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands
Ricci Casserly, Children’s Author

Join Ricci Casserly  as she signs KATHY’S ADVENTURES  (Tate) the story of a little girl named Ricci and her favorite doll, Kathy. Ricci and Kathy are the best of friends, and Ricci will do anything to care for Kathy. But as time passes, Ricci plays with Kathy less and less. One day when Ricci goes to her grandmother’s house to see Kathy, Kathy is gone. Come along with Ricci as she learns never to give up hope and follows her dreams of reuniting with her best friend.

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4. July Writing Workshops

We don’t have a lot of author/illustrator events for readers this month, but for writers, it’s a windfall! In case you haven’t heard, we have a new writers’ workshop venue in town Write Space, and they are launching their events this summer with a lineup of workshops for writers of children’s and young adult books.

Also, I want to pass on the news that the Houston Writers Guild Fall Contest is open for submissions July 1 – September 1, 2014. The contest is open to all writers (regardless of publishing status) with original, unpublished work. First place in each category wins $75. Winners will be announced at the 2014 Houston Writers Guild Winter Conference (November 8; details TBA). Everyone will receive score sheets with feedback via email after the winners are announced.

Please note that the first workshop listed is for children; all others are for adults writing for children.

July 12, Saturday, 10:00–3:00 p.m. LITTLE MISS MOLLY by Melissa Williams
Houston Children’s Museum
Melissa Williams, PB Author
Workshop For Kids Ages 8-14
Cost: $135.00

Exercise Your Imagination at the Houston Children’s Museum with Melissa Williams, author of the picture book series, IGGY THE IGUANA, TURTLE TOWN and LITTLE MISS MOLLY! Workshop Includes: Take Home Brainstorming Notebook; 16×20 Painted Canvas; Lunch; Goodie Bag. Register online here.

July 12, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jen Mathieu
Write Space
Jen Mathieu, YA Author
Workshop: How to Find Your Character’s Voice
Cost: $45.00

Jen Mathieu, author of the runaway hit, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, will lead this writers’ workshop. Heart-stopping plots and detailed settings are important to any memorable story, but a character who becomes real in the heart and mind of the reader leaves a permanent mark. In this three-hour workshop, we’ll spend some time reading and dissecting examples of terrific character voice and complete several writing exercises intended to help develop a character whose story demands to be told. All levels of experience are welcome. Students will leave with a handout of exercises for uncovering a character’s personality, motivations, fears, and dreams as well as a list of suggested readings. Please bring a laptop or notepad and pen/pencil, depending on which instrument you feel most comfortable using for quick writing exercises.

July 19, 10:00-4:30 p.m. TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ by Kathy Duval; illustrated by Adam McCauley
Write Space
Kathy Duval, PB Author
Workshop: Make It Shine! Polish Your Picture Book
Cost: $85.00

Five hundred words— no problem, right? Wrong!
A successful picture book is an art form combining lyrical language and dynamic images, each dependent on the other.  To compete, your work must shine, as well as follow the conventions of today’s crowded market.

This hands-on revision workshop led by Kathy Duval, author of TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ (Hyperion/Disney) and THE THREE BEARS’ CHRISTMAS and THE THREE BEARS’ HALLOWEEN (Holiday House), will take a fresh look at your characters, setting, plot, and picture book language. Participants will complete exercises to polish their prose, as well as create a dummy to see how your text fits into a picture book format.  Feedback in small groups will help you take your picture book to the next level. Participants will be asked to bring three copies of the same completed picture book manuscript. You will be notified closer to the workshop date about the other supplies you will need for making a dummy.

July 19, Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ACCIDENTAL ACTION STAR by Emily Evans
Houston YA/MG Regular Meeting
Community Room at the H.E.B. at 9710 Katy Freeway
Emily Evans, YA Author
Workshop: Tips, Tricks, & Secrets of the Millionaire Author

Pre-published? Traditionally published? Indie Published?

Employ millionaire-author strategies now so your future is more “party at the Capital” and less “welcome to the Hunger Games.” Houston YA/MG’s own Emily Evans will lead the discussion. Emily has made $150 K indie-publishing her YA novels. Where’d she go wrong? What’s she doing right? Emily will brush off her psych degree and analyze marketing trends, best-seller habits, and pretty much anything else you want to throw out there. So change out of those writing pajamas and join us…

Saturday, July 26, 1:00-4:00 p.m.THE A-WORD by Joy Preble
Write Space
Workshop: The Power of Point of View
Joy Preble, YA Author
Cost: $45.00

Joy Preble, author of  the Dreaming Anastasia series (Sourcebooks) and the Sweet Dead Life series (Soho Press), will lead this workshop. Point of view is one of the most important choices an author can make because it impacts how readers see and respond to the story. Through whose eyes is the story being told? Through the eyes of a character as he experiences the story’s events (1st person present), through an unnamed narrator (3rd person omniscient), or through a narrator who shares the thoughts of just one character (3rd person limited)?

If a story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, often the problem lies in point of view. For instance, perhaps we aren’t telling the right character’s story. Or, we are telling the right character’s story, but we aren’t telling her story in the right point of view. When the story is told (before or after events), why it is told, and who does the telling are all powerful decisions each writer must make. It’s easy to give attention to the more glamorous aspects of craft such as character arcs, plot, and tension, but profound discoveries await those willing to explore point of view.

All levels of experience are welcome in this hands-on workshop. To help free up our stories, we will read and analyze examples of point of view in successful novels, and then apply our newfound knowledge to our own writing.

Come prepared to write, revise, and experiment. Please bring the first three to five pages of a novel or short story you’re working on, as well as a laptop or a notepad and pen or pencil.

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5. Book Release: DEADWOOD + KidLit Events June 23-July 1

DEADWOOD by Kell Andrews (Spencer Hill Press)Book Release Day!

 Kell Andrew’s


Sometimes a lucky ritual becomes a curse.

Seventh-grader Martin Cruz hates his rotten new town, Lower Brynwood, but with his mom fighting a war in Afghanistan, he has no choice but to live with his crazy aunt. Then he gets a message from a tree telling him it’s cursed—and so is he.

It’s not just any tree either, it’s the Spirit Tree, an ancient beech the football team carves for good luck before the season opener. But every year they lose. Now the Spirit Tree is dying, and the other trees in the park are toppling around it like dominoes. The town is plagued with unexplainable accidents and people begin to fade, drained of life.

Martin must team up with a know-it-all soccer star, Hannah Vaughan, if he has any chance of breaking the curse. If they fail to save the Spirit Tree, it could mean the destruction of Lower Brynwood and a permanent case of bad luck.

BIZZ AND BUZZ MAKE HONEY BUNS by Dee LeoneJune 26, Thursday, 10:00 a.m.
Blue Willow Bookshop
Dee Leone, PB Author

Join author Dee Leone for a special story time/book launch for BIZZ AND BUZZ MAKE HONEY BUNS! Bizz and Buzz are two bees who want to make honey buns. So, they ask their friend Bear for his recipe. Although the directions seem simple, Bizz and Buzz make mistake after mistake, like finding a little “flower “instead of adding a little “flour.” What will “bee”-come of the honey buns?

RIVER ROYALS by Katie Clark & Sarah Wynne

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6. Anna Staniszewski: THE PRANK LIST Blog Tour

THE PRANK LIST by Anna Staniszewski

Today, I am so excited to welcome back Anna Staniszewski! Anna visited this blog when she was wrapping up her My Very UnFairytale Life series and wrote a great post about character development in Give Your Main Character a Mirror. Anna’s newest book, the second in her Dirt Diary series, THE PRANK LIST, launches July 1. From Anna’s blog, here’s a bit about THE PRANK LIST:

Rachel never thought she’d fight for the right to clean toilets, but she has to save her mom’s business. Nothing can distract her from her mission – except maybe Whit, the cute new guy in cooking class. Then she discovers something about Whit that could change everything. After destroying her Dirt Diary, Rachel thought she was done with secrets, but to save her family’s business, Rachel’s going to have to get her hands dirty. Again.

I loved THE DIRT DIARY, so I was delighted to have an opportunity to read an ARC of THE PRANK LIST. These books are so much fun! In an interview on The Book Cellar, you mention that you usually come up with the premise for a story before plot or characters. What inspired the premise for THE PRANK LIST?

At the end of The Dirt Diary, there’s talk about Rachel taking a pastry class at a local bakery. That idea stuck in my head, and I wondered what would happen if Rachel got to the class and it wasn’t at all what she thought it would be. As for where the “prank war” idea came from in the story, I thought it would be interesting to bring in a rival cleaning service so we could see how far Rachel is willing to go to save her mom’s business.

The main character in your book, Rachel, loves to bake. Details like her first disaster with the caramel squares—a pan of goo on one side and crunchy crystals on the other—sound so authentic. Did Rachel get her love of baking from you?

Sadly, Rachel’s baking mishaps in this book are very much inspired by my own. I love eating baked goods, but I’m not a very good cook. My big problem is that I’m impatient, so anything that takes more than a half hour is a deal-breaker for me. Rachel is the kind of baker I wish I could be!

On Stephen Macquignon’s blog, you wrote about thinking visually in novels. One of your tips was to repeat an image for emphasis. Can you tell us about an important image from THE PRANK LIST?

Good question! I wanted Rachel to feel taunted by the rival cleaning business’s vans (red and black ones painted to look like ladybugs) that seem to follow her all around town. Every time she sees one, she feels like it’s mocking her, and she becomes more and more desperate to succeed.

I loved Rachel’s best friend Marisol when we met her in THE DIRT DIARY, but I loved her even more in this book. Without giving away spoilers, can you tell us a little about Marisol’s role in this story?

Marisol tends to be the voice of reason in Rachel’s life, but at the same time, she would do anything to help Rachel. So in this book, it was interesting to explore how far Marisol is willing to veer away from her moral compass in order to help her best friend.

You recently wrote a guest post for Janet Fox, Creating a Believable Tween Voice, in which you urged writers to focus on emotions. Does Rachel, the main character in your story, have a particular emotion that defines her or drives her actions?

Rachel always means well and she tries to do the right thing, but she often lets her good intentions get her into trouble when she starts feeling desperate and frantic. That’s when things get out of control and she winds up making decisions that aren’t necessarily the right ones.

Another fun element of voice in this story is Rachel’s exclamations, like “Oh my goldfish,” and “Crabgrass!” Did you have to try out a lot of sayings before finding the ones that seemed natural to Rachel?

Coming up with funny sayings has become a bit of a game in my house. I’m always testing new ones out on my husband, and he’s even started a list of ones that he thinks I might like.

Anna, thank you for stopping by today!

You can find out more about Anna on the other stops on her blog tour, including her guest posts, I Sold My Book: Now What?, What to Expect After the Sale, and an interview with Nancy Tandon on her writing process for THE PRANK LIST.

Anna StaniszewskiAbout Anna:
Born in Poland and raised in the United States, Anna Staniszewski grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. Currently, she lives outside Boston with her husband and their crazy dog. When she’s not writing, Anna spends her time reading, daydreaming, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. She is the author of the My Very UnFairy Tale Life series and the Dirt Diary series. Her newest book, The Prank List, releases on July 1st from Sourcebooks. You can visit Anna at www.annastan.com.

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7. Kathi Appelt and Mogie + KidLit Events June 17-24

MogieThis weekend was the occasion of a very special event at Blue Willow Bookshop. Newbery Honor and National Book Award finalist author Kathi Appelt held the Houston launch for Ronald McDonald House Houston’s tour for their picture book celebration of MOGIE, THE HEART OF THE HOUSE. Kathi was accompanied by three other celebrities, the RMHH Executive Director Leslie Bourne, the RMHH Director of Development Mikki Donnelly, and the RMHH Key Comfort Ambassador himself, Mogie!

Before Kathi got started telling about meeting Mogie Mogie the Ambassadorand writing his story, Mogie put his ambassador skills to work. He graciously greeted each person who walked through the door, making us all feel welcome and wanted.

Blue Willow Bookshop was fill to the brim with Kathi’s fans, Mogie’s fans and people who love picture books. After Kathi’s brief, sweet talk about Mogie and the wonderful kids she met at the Ronald McDonald House, everyone filed into line to get their copies of the book personalized. Every book was signed by Kathi and stamped with Mogie’s PAW-tograph.

The book: Mogie is a real-life Labradoodle with a special talent: he always knows just what a sick kid Celebritiesneeds! Give that dog a puddle and he’d splash. Give him a whistle and he’d roll over. Give him a rule and he’d break it.

One day a passel of puppies was born. Each puppy was designated for a Very Important Job, like Service Dog, or Search and Rescue Dog, or Groomed for the Show Ring Dog. Each puppy, that is, except Mogie. Mogie was a ball-chasing, tail-wagging, moon-howling pup. Not the kind of pup for any of Signature and Pawtographthose jobs! But there is a place that is just right for Mogie: a very special house where sick children and their families can stay while they undergo long-term treatment. A place with children who NEED a ball-chasing, tail-wagging, moon-howling pup. And there’s one little boy in particular who needs Mogie. And Mogie is about to prove he’s the MOGIE, THE HEART OF THE HOUSEbest darn pooch in the passel. Based on a true story, this heartwarming picture book is published in conjunction with the Ronald McDonald House.

For more adorable pictures of Mogie and his RMHH family take a look at this article from The Houston Chronicle.

Follow Mogie: Twitter Facebook Website
Follow author Kathi Appelt: Twitter Facebook Website
Follow illustrator Marc Rosenthal: Twitter Facebook Website
Follow Ronald McDonald House Houston: Twitter Facebook Website
Follow Blue Willow Bookshop: Twitter Facebook Website

And now, this week’s event:

June 21, Saturday
THE TINY PRINCESS AND THE MISSING CHOCOLATES by Nancy Shakespeare, Illustrated by Katie ClouetteThe Storybook Cottage, Katy, TX
Nancy Shakespeare, PB Author

Join Nancy Shakespeare at The Storybook Cottage to celebrate the release of her new picture book, THE TINY PRINCESS AND THE MISSING CHOCOLATES. When the Tiny Princess’ chocolates go missing, it is up to Tatum to find them. On a quest to find her sweets, she discovers something even more important than her delicious chocolates.

This is a free event and the Princesses will enjoy one hour of pampering; including brush-on glitter, nail painting, a tea party with pink lemonade & Princess cookies and story time with the Author. To register, please send an email to shakespearestories@gmail.com. Space is limited.

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8. Kidlit Events June 10-16

We have two events happening this week, one YA and one picture book. But this isn’t any ordinary picture book signing—this is a very special event in support of the Ronald McDonald House featuring a special book from Newbery Honor and National Book Award Finalist Kathi Appelt. Your place in line will be assigned when you purchase the book from Blue Willow Bookshop, so if you don’t want to wait in what I expect will be a very long line, hurry to buy your copy ahead of time! See you there!

June 10, Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. TROUBLE by Non Pratt
Blue Willow Bookshop
Non Pratt, YA Author

Non Pratt will discuss and sign TROUBLE, her debut novel for young adults. From Publishers Weekly: Friendship, betrayal, lust, and love are recurring themes in U.K. editor/publisher Pratt’s first novel exploring the trials of a British teen after she finds out she is pregnant. Reluctant to reveal the identity of the baby’s father, 15-year-old Hannah is surprised and relieved when her new friend, Aaron, offers to pretend he is responsible. But Aaron’s motives run deeper than wanting to help Hannah: part of him hopes that acting nobly might make up for previous actions that ended in tragedy…

June 14, Saturday, 1:00 p.m. MOGIE THE HEART OF THE HOUSE
Blue Willow Bookshop
Kathi Appelt, Children’s Author

Newbery Honor and National Book Award finalist author Kathi Appelt  will discuss and sign her newest picture book, MOGIE: THE HEART OF THE HOUSE.

Mogie is a real-life Labradoodle with a special talent: he always knows just what a sick kid needs! Give that dog a puddle and he’d splash. Give him a whistle and he’d roll over. Give him a rule and he’d break it.

One day a passel of puppies was born. Each puppy was designated for a Very Important Job, like Service Dog, or Search and Rescue Dog, or Groomed for the Show Ring Dog. Each puppy, that is, except Mogie. Mogie was a ball-chasing, tail-wagging, moon-howling pup. Not the kind of pup for any of those jobs! But there is a place that is just right for Mogie: a very special house where sick children and their families can stay while they undergo long-term treatment. A place with children who NEED a ball-chasing, tail-wagging, moon-howling pup. And there’s one little boy in particular who needs Mogie. And Mogie is about to prove he’s the best darn pooch in the passel. Based on a true story, this heartwarming picture book is published in conjunction with the Ronald McDonald House.

Note: In order to go through the signing line and meet Kathi Appelt for book personalization, please purchase MOGIE: THE HEART OF THE HOUSE from Blue Willow Bookshop. At the time of your purchase, Blue Willow will issue a signing line ticket that indicates your place in line. Your book and signing line ticket can be picked up at the event.

June 14, Saturday, 4:00 p.m. 
River Oaks Bookstore
Quinn Holliday, Author & Ryan Shaw, Illustrator

Join the Quinn Holliday, author of MACGYVER THE BEST BIG BLACK DOG for a reading and signing. Ryan Shaw the illustrator will be drawing for the kids as well!

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9. Jennifer Mathieu’s Debut! + YA Events June 3-10

THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE by Jen MatthieuI’m sorry i didn’t get this post up yesterday. I was having trouble staying connected to my website. The past few days here have been so much fun. Friday night, I got to go to a book launch for a local author’s debut novel. And talk about launching, this author is going to skyrocket!

Write down this name:

Jennifer Mathieu

I predict you’ll be seeing it on all kinds of literary lists soon, including the New York Times Bestsellers list. Her debut YA novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, was pitched as “Easy A” meets “Friday Night Lights,” about small town teens who spread rumors Jen's friends form Johnston Middle Schoolabout a former friend that may or may not be true.

Jen’s launch at Blue Willow Bookshop was a huge event. Jen teaches at a high school in this area, and formerly taught at a Houston middle school, so many of her friends and coworkers showed up to help her celebrate. A lot of her students and Cathy Berner, Jen Mathieu, Valerie Koehlerformer students showed up, too. The bookstore was packed to the walls.

We got to hear a bit about Jen’s journey to publication. Nineteen agents turned her down before she signed with Sarah LaPolla. Like most writers, Jennifer didn’t hit success with her first book, or her second. At one point she talked with her husband about giving up, but he told her that if she got pleasure from writing, she should keep Me and Jendoing it. She did keep writing, and her third book, THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, sold at auction to a brilliant editor named Nancy Mercado, with Roaring Brook Press.

Follow Jen on twitter, and enjoy her blog tour for THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, starting with this interview on Ex Libris.


SEVERED by Dax VarleyAnother cool event I got to attend was our monthly Houston SCBWI meeting where one of our traditionally published children’s authors talked about her adventures in self publishing young adult books under the name Dax Varley. I think the cat may be out of the bag as to this author’s true identity, but in case I’m mistaken, I won’t spill it here. Dax shared a wealth of information about all the technical aspects of SP, including the unexpectedly tricky aspects of designing book covers, proofing, formatting, reviews and the importance of choosing the right title. And her final caution: Hire a professional copyeditor! To keep up with Dax, follow her on twitter or catch up with her news on her blog, I Bleed Ink.


Now for this week’s events!

June 8, Sunday, 3:00 p.m.SPECIAL EFFECT by Russell Sanders
River Oaks Bookstore
Russell Sanders, YA Author

Russell Sanders will be signing and discussing his new novel SPECIAL EFFECT. Graduating Senior Nick Fortunati works as a lighting tech in a creepy old theater. Out of the shadows steps mysterious Steve Stripling. Nick must decide if he wants to help Steve solve the mystery surrounding him and perhaps lose his newfound friend forever.


June 10, Tuesday, 7:00 p.m.TROUBLE by Non Pratt
Blue Willow Bookshop
Non Pratt, YA Author

Non Pratt will discuss and sign TROUBLE, her debut novel for young adults. From Publishers Weekly: Friendship, betrayal, lust, and love are recurring themes in U.K. editor/publisher Pratt’s first novel exploring the trials of a British teen after she finds out she is pregnant. Reluctant to reveal the identity of the baby’s father, 15-year-old Hannah is surprised and relieved when her new friend, Aaron, offers to pretend he is responsible. But Aaron’s motives run deeper than wanting to help Hannah: part of him hopes that acting nobly might make up for previous actions that ended in tragedy…

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10. KidLit Events May 27-June 3

I’m in a rush today, but here’s what’s going on this week:

May 27, Tuesday, 6:00 p.m.
Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands
3 YA Authors: Joy Preble, Varsha Bajaj, Christina Mandelski

Join three teen authors as they sign and discuss their newest books. Joy Preble, Varsha Bajaj and Christina Mandelski will all be in-store in the seating area. Don’t miss out on this chance to meet three fantastic YA authors!
The A WordChristin MandelskiABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD by Varsha Bajaj








May 30, Friday, 7:00 p.m. THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE
Blue Willow Bookshop
Jennifer Mathieu, YA Author

Blue Willow Bookshop is thrilled to help Jennifer Mathieu launch THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE, her debut novel for young adults! This stunning debut is told in unique, multiple voices with flawless structure, intense pace, and fabulous writing. Though this story is set in the right-here-and-now, the overall message, and especially the end of the book insights from Alice, will make this a timeless read.


May 30, Friday, 3:00 p.m. MacGyver The Best Big Black Dog
French Cuff Boutique
Quinn Holladay, PB Author

French Cuff Boutique presents MACGYVER—THE BEST BIG BLACK DOG by Quinn Holladay.



May 31, Saturday, 4:00 p.m. Dream Write
River Oaks Bookstore
Sheri Kiss

Join us for a fun and entertaining puppet show based on Sheri Kiss’s children’s book, DREAM WRITE. An engaging book signing (with puppets!) will follow.

The A WordJune 1, Sunday, 2:00 p.m. Reborn
Katy Budget Books
Two YA Authors: CC Hunter and Joy Preble 

Join three of KBB’s favorite local authors as they sign and discuss their latest releases: CC Hunter with REBORN, and Joy Preble with THE A WORD, plus Sophie Jordan with her NA novel.

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11. KidLit Events May 20-27

Read Aloud Authors

In celebration of the 95th annual Children’s Book Week, authors and illustrators showed up at local indie bookstores nationwide to read stories aloud. I’m so glad I had the chance to see the four Texas authors—Crystal Allen, Nikki Loftin, Kathy Duval and Varsha Bajaj—at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston as they shared their favorite picture books. This event was big fun! All four authors were amazing laugh-out-loud readers and the diversity of the books they selected added so much flavor to the event. Kathy Duval shared SOPHIE’S SQUASH, written by her friend Pat Z. Miller. Nikki Loftin read one of her favorite books from her own childhood, FREDERICK, while Crystal Allen chose a new favorite MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD and Varsha Bajaj read a book her children had loved, SIXTEEN COWS.

A Word LaunchI barely had time to run home and get a few errands done before it was time to be back at Blue Willow for the launch of Joy Preble’s new YA novel, THE A WORD. As usual for Joy’s events, it was a packed house. I think nearly every YA author in Houston (and one from Austin!) was there. After Joy’s lively discussion and book signing, we all headed to Ooo La La for cupcakes, gelato and coffee. A yummy day!

The only downside was that with everything else that was going on, I missed the Houston YA/MG Writers meeting where Jessica Capelle was talking about world building. The good news is that this summer, Jessica will be giving a full day workshop on this topic at Houston’s new hot spot for writers, Writespace.

Coming up this week…

May 20, Tuesday, 5:00 pm PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLYFISH by Jarrett J. Krosocza
Blue Willow Bookshop
Jarrett Krosoczka, PB Author/Illustrator

Award-winning picture book creator Jarrett Krosoczka will sign his books, including PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLYFISH, his latest picture book—a funny and touching story of friendships old and new, and about being brave enough to apologize. Peanut Butter and Jellyfish are best of friends and swim up, down, around, and through their ocean home. Crabby is their neighbor. He is not their best friend. But when Crabby gets in trouble, will Peanut Butter and Jellyfish come to the rescue? You bet they will!

Wednesday, May 21, 5:00 p.m. DOG vs CAT by Chris Gall
Blue Willow Bookshop
Chris Gall, Author/Illustrator

Illustrator and author Chris Gall will discuss and sign his newest picture book for kids, DOG vs. CAT. Dog and Cat do not get along. But when they’re forced to share a room, they agree to be on their best behavior…until Dog won’t stop “sniffing.” Cat won’t stop “primping.” Dog won’t stop “howling.” Cat won’t stop “scratching.” And when it comes to the litter-box…sharing is “not” an option! What will it take to bring Dog and Cat together? Find out in Chris Gall’s comic clash that brings out the best (and worst) in two very different pets.

Wednesday, May 21, 7:00 p.m. Dangerous Creatures
Brazos Bookstore
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, YA Authors

Join the coauthors of the #1 New York Times bestselling Beautiful Creatures series, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl in conversation with author Sophie Jordan about their YA novel DANGEROUS CREATURES, a dangerous new tale of love and magic.

Thursday May 22, 5:30 p.m.
Barnes & Noble, Town & Country Village
Rummel Creek Elementary School Young Authors’ Night

Rummel Creek Elementary School presents Young Authors’ Night. The students will read their writings.


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12. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events May 13-20

Kristin Rae's LaunchWow, what a turn-out debut YA author Kristin Rae had for the launch of her teen romance, WISH YOU WERE ITALIANBlue Willow Bookshop was packed with friends, family and YA fans. I was thrilled to see so many members of the Houston SCBWI, the Houston YA/MG Writers and the Houston Writers Guild show up for this event. I even spotted author Lindsey Lane, an author from Austin whose debut YA novel EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN comes out this September.

There’s so much going on this week, starting tonight with another event featuring Kristin! Please remember to check the sponsoring bookstore’s or organization’s website for the latest, most accurate information on these events.

May 13, Tuesday, 6:00 p.m.First Loves Books
Three YA Authors: Lindsey Leavitt, Emery Lord and Kristin Rae

Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands
Join three exciting teen authors, Lindsey Leavitt, Emery Lord and Kristin Rae in the First Loves YA Event as they discuss and sign their books upstairs in the seating area.

May 17, Saturday, All DayBooks Alive
Central Library
Books Alive! 5th Annual Children’s Book Celebration

Children of all ages are invited to enjoy all the fun and exciting activities scheduled for the Houston Public Library’s Books Alive! 5th Annual Children’s Book Celebration.

The Children’s Book Celebration kicks off with a full day of exciting performances, hands-on arts and crafts activities, and special appearances. The highlight of the celebration is the appearance of Jennifer Holm, the author and illustrator of the Babymouse graphic novel series

May 17, Saturday, 10:00 a.m.Indies First Authors
Blue Willow Bookshop
Indies First Storytime, Four Children’s Authors

Four Texas authors will help us celebrate the inaugural Indies First Storytime by reading their favorite picture books. Crystal Allen, Varsha Bajaj, Kathy Duval and Nikki Loftin will join us – you should too!

May 17, Saturday, 10:00 a.m. CIA Cats
Barnes & Noble, Deerbrook Mall
George Arnold, Children’s Author

Come meet local multi-genre author George Arnold, author of the Cats of the C.I.A. series. Mr. Arnold is a well-known author of young reader and mystery novels. Each title is packed with his signature humor.

May 17, Saturday, 2:00 p.m.
Blue Willow Bookshop
Joy Preble, YA Author

The A WordJoy Preble will discuss and sign her newest novel for teens, THE A-WORD. It’s been almost a year since fifteen-year-old Jenna’s stoner brother, Casey, died and returned as her guardian angel, along with his twenty-something “angel boss,” Amber Velasco. Almost a year since Casey and Amber used up their one-time-only angel power of flight to save Jenna from the evil Dr. Renfroe. Now Casey’s wonders why he’s still hanging around—not that he minds protecting Jenna, but there’s got to be a bigger picture, right? Something to distract him from his doomed relationship with cheerleader Lanie Phelps, who has no idea her boyfriend is, well, dead. After all, he can’t use his angel wings anymore. Neither can Amber. Enter Bo Shivers, Amber’s “angel boss.” Whiskey-guzzling, handsome and unpredictable, Bo lost his angel wings in an earthly flight a long time back, and he’s been a thorn in Angel Management’s side ever since. But Bo knows something big is coming. Something worth forfeiting his wings for Jenna… something that might change everything for everyone.

Saturday May 17, 5:00 p.m.The Thickety
Barnes & Noble, College Station
J. White, MG Author

Join author J. White for a discussion of his debut novel THE THICKETY: A PATH BEGINS.  A dark, forbidden forest. Vicious beasts. Deadly plants. An evil spell book. Secrets. Mysteries. Demons and witches both fair and foul. Welcome to the world of The Thickety.

When Kara Westfall was six years old, her mother was convicted of the worst of all crimes: witchcraft. Years later, Kara and her little brother, Taff, are still shunned by the people of their village, who believe that nothing is more evil than magic . . . except, perhaps, the mysterious forest that covers nearly the entire island. It has many names, this place. Sometimes it is called the Dark Wood, or Sordyr’s Realm. But mostly it’s called the Thickety. Illustrated by Andrea Offermann.

May 20, Tuesday, 5:00 p.m.Peanut Butter Jellyfish
Blue Willow Bookshop
Jarrett Krosoczka, PB Author/Illustrator

Award-winning picture book creator Jarrett Krosoczka will sign his books, including PEANUT BUTTER JELLYFISH, his latest picture book—a funny and touching story of friendships old and new, and about being brave enough to apologize. Peanut Butter and Jellyfish are best of friends and swim up, down, around, and through their ocean home. Crabby is their neighbor. He is not their best friend. But when Crabby gets in trouble, will Peanut Butter and Jellyfish come to the rescue? You bet they will!

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13. Happy Book Birthday to WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, plus KidLit Events May 6-13

WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN by Kristin RaeHappy Book Birthday

to Kristin Rae’s debut YA novel


Seventeen-year-old Pippa Preston, sent to Italy for a three-month art history program, decides instead to see the country on her own, armed with a list of such goals as eating an entire pizza and falling in love with an Italian, but soon finds herself attracted both to a dangerous local boy and an American archaeology student.

Join Kristin at her launch party at Blue Willow Bookshop Saturday, May 10 at 2 PM!

Here’s more events happening this week:

May 5-9, 5:00 p.m.Little Miss Molly
Hahn Gallery
Read3zero Literacy Extravaganza

Hanh Gallery and The Hanh Collection are hosting a week long extravaganza featuring the works of children’s author Melissa Williams. All proceeds will benefit the READ3Zero Literacy Foundation, inspiring kids to read and write. RSVP to eric@hanhgallery.com for the dates you are attending.

May 7, 5:00 p.m. President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath
Blue Willow Bookshop
Mac Barnett, Children’s Author

Mac Barnett’s latest picture book is PRESIDENT TAFT GOT STUCK IN THE BATH. George Washington crossed the Delaware in the dead of night. Abraham Lincoln saved the Union. And President William Howard Taft, a man of great stature — well, he got stuck in a bathtub. Now “how “did he get unstuck? Author Mac Barnett and illustrator Chris Van Dusen bring their full comedic weight to this legendary story, imagining a parade of clueless cabinet members advising the exasperated president, leading up to a hugely satisfying, hilarious finale.

May 10, Saturday, 2:00 p.m.SLEEPYHEADS by Sandra Howatt; Illustrated by Joyce Wan
Barnes and Noble, The Woodlands
Sandra Howatt, PB Author

Join picture book author Sandra Howatt as she celebrates her debut, SLEEPYHEADS. This sweet, snuggly, and silly bedtime book with irresistible illustrations is sure to prepare little ones for a cozy night’s sleep.  The sun has set, and sleepyheads all across the land are tucked into their cozy beds.
Rabbit is snoozing in the weeds, and Duck is snuggled in the reeds.
Bear is nestled in his cave, and Otter is rocking on a wave.
But there’s one little sleepyhead who’s not in his bed.
Where, oh where, could he be?

A perfect bedtime read-aloud!

May 10, Saturday, 2:00 p.m. The Vintage Contessa & Princessa
Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, Children’s Author

Join Tootsies for a Mother-Daughter Tea Party and Book Release party for THE VINTAGE CONTESSA & PRINCESSA by Donae Cangelosi Chramosta. Celebrate beauty from within on a fashionable and luxurious adventure full of love, hope and friendship. The Princessa dreams of helping her mother plan the perfect charity event to honor her BFF! When the night of the festivities arrives, a major disaster turns the two little girls fabulous celebration upside down. Even the prettiest dresses and most fashionable hats can’t fix this dilemma. The Princessa discovers that life is not always perfect, and it is in our greatest challenges where we find the true beauty of love.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of The Vintage Contessa & Princessa will go to cancer charities in communities around the world. Please RSVP to sue@longtalepublishing.com.

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14. Happy Book Birthday: THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY

Happy Book Birthday to


by Tracy Holczer!

Cover illustration and design by Annie EricssonTwelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. She thinks she’s found it with Mrs. Greene and her daughter Lacey so when her mother says it’s time to move on again, Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels. She’ll always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.

Now faced with making a home with a grandmother she’s never met, and according to her mother, didn’t want her in the first place, Grace is desperate to get back to Mrs. Greene and Lacey. A mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on, may must be the key. It all begins with a crane. And Grace is sure it’s her mother showing her the way home.

You can read the first chapter on Tracy’s webpage.

For a wonderful review, head over to Leandra Wallace’s blog. (BONUS: recipe for luscious lemonade cookie pies!) For an interview with Tracy, visit OneFour KidLit, and to get the scoop on her success story head over to Miss Snark’s First Victim.

Look at this list list of recognitions!

2014 Indies Introduce New Voices pick for Summer/Fall

Publisher’s Weekly starred review

Kirkus Reviews quote: “Holczer presents a tender, transformative exploration of family, loss and reconciliation. The phrasing and the images are beautiful and rich.”

And for those of you who are fortunate enough to be going to the SCBWI International Conference in Los Angeles this summer, Tracy will be on the New Voices Panel on Group Marketing Strategies.

Tracy Holczer lives in Southern California with her husband, three daughters, and two rather fluffy dogs named Buster and Molly. She has a deep love for the mountains where she grew up so she writes them into her stories. Her debut middle grade novel, The Secret Hum of a Daisy, was written in praise of both nature and family, and all that can be found if you’re willing to hunt for treasure. It will be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on May 1, 2014 and by Konigskinder/Carlsen in Germany 2015.

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15. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events: April 29-May 5

I’m still wiped out from the three-day celebration of the Houston SCBWI’s 25th Anniversary conference. I wish I could spend more time with all the amazing folks I got to hang out with this weekend. Thank you to all our guests and to the volunteers who made this such an awesome conference. And thank you to Blue Willow Bookshop for doing such an outstanding job for us!  I’d like to post pictures of all the wonderful writers, illustrators, agents, editors and our visiting art director, but I’ve been away from my work in progress for three days and it’s really nagging at me. Back to work!

But first I want to give a shout out to Lynne Kelly and Crystal Allen, wishing them a wonderful experience at Kindling Words, and also, a big congratulations to Joy Preble over the announcement of the sale of her new YA novel, IT WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, to Soho Teen.

Now for this week’s events:

May 1, Thursday, 5:30-7:00 p.m. The Library's Hat's Off to Reading!
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands
Hats Off to Reading Celebration

Join the Hats Off to Reading Celebration, with tent activities, including crafts, free hats, a coloring contest, book walk, and more! Every child will receive a free book and goodie bag! This free event promoting student literacy and a love of reading is sponsored by the Reading Odyssey Committee, a partnership between Montgomery County Memorial Library System, Conroe ISD librarians, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School Library, Chick-Fil-A, Scholastic Books and The Pavilion. A family friendly concert  will follow!

May 3, 2:00 p.m. SLEEPYHEADS by Sandra Howatt; Illustrated by Joyce Wan
Blue Willow Bookshop
Sandra Howatt, PB Author

Join picture book author Sandra Howatt as she celebrates her debut, SLEEPYHEADS. This sweet, snuggly, and silly bedtime book with irresistible illustrations is sure to prepare little ones for a cozy night’s sleep.

The sun has set, and sleepyheads all across the land are tucked into their cozy beds.
Rabbit is snoozing in the weeds, and Duck is snuggled in the reeds.
Bear is nestled in his cave, and Otter is rocking on a wave.
But there’s one little sleepyhead who’s not in his bed.
Where, oh where, could he be?

A perfect bedtime read-aloud!

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16. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events April 22-28

SCBWI Houston Conference (art by Diandra Mae)This is a big, BIG week! We are celebrating the Houston Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 25th Anniversary Conference!

Online registration for this fabulous event is closed, as are all critiques and the dinner event. But we still have availability for registration by check or cash at the door for the main events on Saturday, as well as both workshops on Sunday. If you haven’t yet registered but hope to attend, please come by the Westin Houston Memorial City Hotel on Saturday morning.

I can’t believe it’s Tuesday already and I haven’t figured out what to wear for the Paint the Town Read party on Saturday night. I’ve made a list of literary (or semi-literary) characters who have at least one prominent red feature: Little Red Riding Hood; Clifford; The Little Red Hen; Dorothy; The Queen of Hearts; Scarlet (Cinder); Scarlet (Robin Hood); Waldo; Elmo; Fox in Sox; Olivia; Angry Birds; Lady Bug Girl; Raggedy Ann/Andy; Cat in the Hat; Thing One & Thing Two; Pippi Longstocking; Curious George; Paddington Bear; Winnie the Pooh; Santa Claus;  Superman; Spiderman; Rafael the Ninja Turtle; Mickey Mouse; Matilda; anyone from Gryffindor.

I’ll figure something out. And I’ll try to wipe off all remaining smudges of silliness in time for the Sunday morning workshop with two-time Newbery Honor winner Gary Schmidt.

And the other big event, which I will have to miss this year, TEEN BOOK CON!

April 26, Saturday, 9:00-5:00 THE IMPOSSIBLE KNIFE OF MEMORY by Laurie Halse Anderson: Keynote Speaker for the Houston 2014 TeenBookCon
Alief Taylor High School

There will be almost 40 authors at this year’s TeenBookCon. You will be choosing from 7 panel sessions which will repeat only 4 times. So spend some time studying the panel sessions before TeenBookCon to make sure you get to see those authors you are most excited about!

Blue Willow Bookshop is the official bookseller of TeenBookCon. All featured authors’ books will be available for purchase throughout the day. All authors will be available to sign only books. You must purchase a book at TeenBookCon to get into the signing lines.

All fans of YA literature are welcome, but TeenBookCon is first and foremost an event for teens. In all panel sessions, teens will be given the chance to ask questions of our authors first and also, if a panel session becomes full, any seated adult will be asked to give up their seat. Due to the tight schedule of TeenBookCon, there will not be an opportunity to conduct interviews with TeenBookCon authors.

April 28, Monday, 5:00 p.m. WHATEVER AFTER: BAD HAIR DAY
Blue Willow Bookshop
Sarah Mlynowski

Sarah Mlynowski, author of the WHATEVER AFTER series, the MAGIC IN MANHATTAN SERIES, GIMME A CALL, and TEN THINGS WE DID (AND PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE), will celebrate the launch of BAD HAIR DAY, the newest book in the WHATEVER AFTER series. In this fractured fairy tale, the magic mirror sucks Abby and Jonah into the story of Rapunzel. When the siblings get the famous tale all tangled up, they have to find a way to set things right . . . with hilarious results!

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17. Brandon Mull: FIVE KINGDOMS

Brandon MullOn Brandon Mull’s third visit to Blue Willow Bookshop, the crowd was buzzing, waiting for the star to arrive. Everyone’s brought their favorite Brandon Mull books and rumors of sequels and spinoffs are flying around the room. All the kids are on the floor at the front to make room for the adults, but there still aren’t enough seats.

The guy knows how to make an entrance. One of the first things he said brought delighted gasps—there will be a sequel series to FABLEHAVEN, five more books called DRAGON WATCH. It starts just a few months after the last Fable Haven story ended, and the books will be released one per year: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, FIVE KINGDOMS: SKY RAIDERSand 2020. The last book in his CANDY WARS series will be released sometime after the final book in DRAGON WATCH.

His new book SKY RAIDERS is the first in a new five-book series, FIVE KINGDOMS. In this first installment, Cole Randolph was just trying to have a fun time with his friends on Halloween (and maybe get to know Jenna Hunt a little better). But when a spooky haunted house turns out to be a portal to something much creepier, Cole finds himself on an adventure on a whole different level.

After Cole sees his friends whisked away to some mysterious place underneath the haunted house, he dives in after them–and ends up in The Outskirts.

The Outskirts are made up of five kingdoms that lie between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. It’s an in-between place. Some people are born there. Some find their way there from our world, or from other worlds.

And once you come to the Outskirts, it’s very hard to leave.

With the magic of the Outskirts starting to unravel, it’s up to Cole and an unusual girl named Mira to rescue his friends, set things right in the Outskirts, and hopefully find his way back home…before his existence is forgotten.

The first three books in FIVE KINGDOMS will be released with six months between books. Brandon Mull has been keeping up a frantic writing pace for a long time, but plans to be slowing down soon. He said, “It’s not that it’s hard to write two books in a year. It’s hard to write two good books in a year.”

After his presentation, the audience got to ask questions, and after all these books, Brandon Mull knows what they are going to ask. I could write his answers here, but it will sound better and be a lot more fun if you go to his website page for Educators and Parents; it’s all there!


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18. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events April 8-14

NIGHTINGALE'S NEST by Nikki LoftinThis week I’m excited about The Houston Writers Guild Annual Agents & Editors Conference 50 Shades Beyond Gray: Color Your Writing, Infuse Your Future. It’s going to be this Saturday in Sugar Land at the Marriott Town Center, and Nikki Loftin, the fabulous and energetic author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy and Nightingale’s Nest, will be giving the keynote speech. There may still be time to register!

LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY by Gary D. SchmidtAnd speaking of conferences, registration is still open for the Houston Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 25th Anniversary Conference, taking place April 26-27. If you write or illustrate for young readers or have ever dreamed of doing so, register now! We will have agents from three agencies: Writers House, Jennifer DeChiara Literacy Agency , and Bradford Literary Agency, plus three editors:  Viking Books for Children, HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Charlesbridge, and the Associate Art Director at Viking Children’s Books. And the big bonus is that two-time Newbery Honor winning author Gary Schmidt will be delivering our keynote address! Register now!

Other events going on this week:

April 8, Tuesday, 5:00 p.m.LIKE CARROT JUICE ON A CUPCAKE by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Barnes & Noble, Vanderbilt Square
Julie Sternberg,  MG Author

I did a mean thing.
A very mean thing.
I HATE that I did it.
But I did.
This is worse than carrot juice on a cupcake or a wasp on my pillow or a dress that’s too tight at the neck.

In LIKE CARROT JUICE ON A CUPCAKE, the third installment from author Julie Sternberg and illustrator Matthew Cordell (the team who created Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and Like Bug Juice on a Burger) Eleanor’s relationship with her best friend, Pearl, experiences its first growing pains. When a glamorous new student transfers to school, at first Eleanor’s excited about the possibility of a new friend. But when Pearl is assigned to be the new girl’s buddy, Eleanor fears she can’t compete. To make matters worse, Eleanor’s been chosen for the lead role in the springtime musical, which means she has to sing a solo in front of the entire school!

April 9, Wednesday, 5:00 pmSKY RAIDERS by Brandon Mull
Blue Willow Bookshop
Brandon Mull, MG Author

Brandon Mull will discuss and sign his newest novel for kids, SKY RAIDERS. Cole Randolph is just trying to have fun with his friends on Halloween (and maybe get to know Jenna Hunt a little better). But when a spooky haunted house turns out to be a portal to something much creepier, Cole finds himself on an adventure on a whole different level.

After Cole sees his friends whisked away to some mysterious place underneath the haunted house, he dives in after them—and ends up in The Outskirts, five kingdoms that lie between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. It’s an in-between place. Some people are born there. Some find their way there from our world, or from other worlds. And once you come to the Outskirts, it’s very hard to leave.

Admission: In order to go through the signing line and meet Brandon Mull for book personalization, please purchase SKY RAIDERS from Blue Willow Bookshop.

April 10, Thursday, 7:00 pmSTAY WHERE YOU ARE THEN LEAVE by John Boyne
Blue Willow Bookshop
John Boyne, MG Author

John Boyne will discuss and sign his newest novel for children, STAY WHERE YOU ARE THEN LEAVE . The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight–but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission. Then, while shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father’s name on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realizes his father is in a hospital close by—a hospital treating soldiers with shell shock. Alfie isn’t sure what shell shock is, but he is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place. . . .

Admission: In order to go through the signing line and meet John Boyne for book personalization, please purchase STAY WHERE YOU ARE THEN LEAVE from Blue Willow Bookshop.

April 12, Saturday, 2:00-4:00 pm
Missouri City Branch Library, Missouri City, TX
Poetry Slam Competition for Young Adults

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Missouri City Branch Library will present a Poetry Slam Competition in the Meeting Room of the library. Local high school and college-age students are invited to compete in the event by reading original works they have created themselves. Prizes will be awarded. The Poetry Slam is free and open to the public. For more information, call the branch library at 281-238-2100.

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19. KidLit Author Event: March 1 Varsha Bajaj!

We only have one children’s/young adult event happening this week, but it’s one many of us have been anticipating for a long time! Please join us at Blue Willow Bookshop this Saturday and spread the word to your friends on facebook and twitter!

March 1, Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD by Varsha Bajaj
Blue Willow Bookshop
Varsha Bajaj, MG Author

Join Varsha Bajaj for the launch of her debut novel middle grade novel, ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD.

What thirteen-year-old Abby wants most is to meet her father. She just never imagined he would be a huge film star—in Bollywood! When she travels to Mumbai to meet him, she is overwhelmed by the culture clash, the pressures of being the daughter of India’s most famous celebrity, and the burden of keeping her identity a secret. But as she learns to navigate her new surroundings, she just might discover where she really belongs.

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20. Happy Book Birthday to GILDED by Christina Farley!

GILDED by Christina Farley

Join YA author

Christina Farley on her blog all day today, March 1

to celebrate the launch of her new novel


…about a girl with a black belt and deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows.

Available in Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, and Audio

Christina will be joined at her launch by many of her author friends

sharing their inspirations on how they reached their dreams:

Andrea Mack  Erica Cameron  Casey McCormick

Natalie Aguirre  Elisa Nader  Kit Grindstaff

Vivi Barnes  Beth Revis  Debbie Ridpath Ohi

 Robin Constantine  Meredith McCardle

Amy Parker  Maureen McGowan

Plus, swag and book giveaways!

Join the party!

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21. KidLit Author Events March 4-6

DONNA OF THE DEAD blog tour Happy Book Birthday to Alison Kemper’s DONNA OF THE DEAD!

Availble now! Watch for the blog tour, starting March 10, from Rock Star Book Tours!


I also want to give a Happy Book Birthday shout out to Lisa Ann Scott’s middle grade novel THE SCHOOL OF CHARM which debuted over the weekend. Take a look at the video below, then hop over to HarperCollins and read an excerpt!


ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD by Varsha BajajWhat an amazing and heart-warming turnout we had Saturday at Blue Willow Bookshop for the launch of Varsha Bajaj’s debute middle grade novel, ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD! Blue Willow was completely packed with friends from near and far. There is a great interview with Varsha and recap of the event on Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog, Cynsations, and a Blue Willow Bookshop posted a photo of Varsha and her daughter performing a violin/song duet. If you weren’t able to go, you might still be able to get a signed copy at Blue Willow—if you hurry!

And this week’s event:

March 6, Thursday, 7:00 p.m.  UNFORGOTTEN by Jessica Brody
Blue Willow Bookshop
Jessica Brody, YA Author

Jessica Brody will discuss and sign her newest novel for teens, UNFORGOTTEN. After a daring escape from the Diotech scientists who created her, Seraphina and Zen believe they are finally safe from the horrors of her past. But new threats await them at every turn as Zen falls prey to a mysterious illness and Sera’s extraordinary abilities make it more and more difficult to stay hidden. Meanwhile, Diotech has developed a dangerous new weapon designed to apprehend Sera, a weapon that even Sera will be powerless to stop. Her only hope of saving Zen’s life and defeating the company that made her is a secret buried deep within her mind, a secret that Diotech will kill to protect. Packed with mystery, suspense, and romance, UNFORGOTTEN is the riveting second installment of Jessica Brody’s Unremembered trilogy, and delivers more heart-pounding action as loyalties are tested, love becomes a weapon, and no one’s memories are safe.

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22. KidLit Writers’ Events

We don’t have any KidLit Author/Illustrator events this week, (although super-writer Brandon Sanderson who has a new YA novel STEELHEART  is at Murder By the Book tonight promoting the newest book in his current series for adults) so I thought I’d let you in on what’s going on around Houston for those who write books for kids and teens.

March 15, 9:00 a.m. Recurring: Third Saturday of each month
Bunker Hill HEB Community Room, 9710 Katy Fwy, Houston, Texas 77055
Houston YAMG Writers Group

Houston YAMG Writers Group is happy to have Elizabeth White of The Writer’s Studio of Houston speaking this month on How to Wow Readers on Page One!

To get an agent’s or an editor’s attention, yes, you need a “hook” that draws them in. Yes, you need flawless prose. And, yes, you need a style of your own and an idea so unique, your readers won’t let go. And, you need something else: you need a terrible problem that catches any reader’s heart, and a character whose pain and desire are achingly evident from the start. Come learn to let the deeper elements of character arise in your first words, so that you hook not just readers’ minds, but their souls. Elizabeth has asked that everyone try to bring in an example of a well-written first page from a novel they love.
Follow Houston YAMG Writers on Twitter!

March 20, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Recurring
Barnes & Noble, Baybrook II, Webster, TX
BAWL (Bay Area Writers’ League) Critique Group

Members of the Bay Area Writers’ League meet on the first and third Thursday of each month to improve their writing efforts.

March 22, Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Brazos Valley SCBWI Workshop with Martha Wells
Registration: $20 for SCBWI members /$25 non-members. Seating is limited. Please r.s.v.p: brazosvalley@scbwi.org

“Writing Speculative Fiction for Kids and Teens,” a morning workshop with acclaimed fantasy author Martha Wells. She will offer her expert overview of speculative fiction, including tips, resources, exercises and practical advice. Bring your questions for a time of Q&A. Copies of Martha’s books will be available for purchase—cash or check only.

March 24, Monday, 7:30 p.m. Recurring
Barnes & Noble, Baybrook II, Webster, TX
SCBWI Critique Group

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month. Join us as we give and receive feedback on our writing projects!

There is still time to sign up for the awesome writers’ conferences coming up in April:

The Houston Writers Guild Annual Agents & Editors Conference: April 12

Keynote Presenter—Nikki Loftin (Penguin/Razorbill author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy and Nightingale’s Nest)
Pre-conference Workshop (Power Revision, editor Meghan Pinson)
Post-conference Workshops (Author Platform, author Joy Preble).
Agent/editor pitch sessions (Eddie Schneider— JABberwocky, Jennifer Udden—Donald Maass, Pooja Menon—Kimberley Cameron, Stella Riley —Soul Mate Publishing, Dawn Dowdle—Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Jessica Kirkland—Blythe Danield Agency


Keynote Presenter: Two-time Newbery Honor Winner and NAtional Book Award Finalist Gary D. Schmidt,
Agents: Stephen BarrWriters House; Stephen Fraser—Jennifer DeChiara Literacy Agency; Natalie LakosilBradford Literary Agency
Editors: Kendra Levin—Senior Editor, Viking Books for Children, Penguin; Jocelyn Davies—Editorial Assistant, HarperCollins;
Julie Ham—Associate Editor, Charlesbridge
Art Director: Jim Hoover—Associate Art Director, Viking Children’s Books, Penguin Group
PLUS: There is still time to sign up for a critique with authors Kathy Duval, Sherry Garland, Joy Preble, and Ana María Rodríguez.

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23. KidLit Good News!

NIGHTINGALE'S NEST by Nikki LoftinYesterday brought exciting news:  New York Public Library’s Youth Materials Collections Specialist, Betsy Bird has tagged Austin author Nikki Loftin‘s new MG magical realism novel NIGHTINGALE’S NEST as a 2015 Newbery contender! Says Bird, “Honestly, it’s like nothing else I’ve seen in quite a while.” :) :) :)

And there’s more good news; Nikki will be the keynote speaker at the Houston Writers’ League Agents and Editors Conference next month, April 11, where she will also be leading a breakout session on writing successful query letters. Sign up!


GRANDFATHER GANDHI by Bethany Hegedus/Arun Gandhi, illustrated by Evan TurkAND! Besty Bird has also predicted the picture book GRANDFATHER  GANDHI by author Bethany Hegedus (founder of Austin’s The Writing Barn), co-author Arun Gandhi and illustrator Evan Turk, as a 2015 Caldecott nominee!

Read about both of these nominations as well as the books Betsy Bird thinks will be their main competition so far on Fuse Eight’s Newbery / Caldecott 2015: Spring Prediction Edition.

CHAINED by Lynne KellyIn other news, have you seen Lynne Kelly’s new site for CHAINED? It’s full of fun information like deleted scenes of Hastin telling folktales to his little sister Chanda, a book trailer, and a curriculum guide full of great classroom ideas.

ARMY CAMELS: TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT by Doris FisherDoris Fisher’s new nonfiction picture book ARMY CAMELS: TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT has been getting some good buzz! It’s been included in librarian/teacher Michael Sullivan’s list of Best Boy Books. Author JoAn Martin gave it a 5 Cart Review on publisher Pelican’s site.

DONNA OF THE DEAD by Alison Kemper

My D4EO Literary agent-mate Alison Kemper is having a blog tour for her debut YA DONNA OF THE DEAD from Entangled Teen. In this campy humor-meets-action vein of the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, a teen girl has to face the obliteration of the human race from a virus that makes people act zombie-like, with only the help of a rag-tag group of high school classmates, including her long-time crush. (Coming soon: DWIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD!)

Hop over to The Reading Diaries, The Library of the Seen, The Happy Booker, The Bookworm’s Blog, and Addicted Readers for reviews, excerpts and giveaways!

There are so many exciting upcoming conferences and workshops; unfortunately, I can’t go to all of them. I can’t even go to most. But I can go to some! I will of course be at the Houston SCBWI Conference on April 26-27, and I might be at the Houston Writers’ Guild Conference on April 12. I really want to go to the Writing For Young Readers Conference in Utah this June, then there’s the enticing Full Novel Revision Week in August at The Writing Barn, and I’ve already committed to the Florida SCBWI Conference next January (TBA) to meet and hang out with Verla Kay (yes, I’m name-dropping :) ) and many other SCBWI Blue Board friends. I hope to run into some of you at one of these awesome writers’ events!


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24. KidLit Good News & Events

Today, I’m delighted to have a guest post on Dear Editor! The question is about choosing an online writing class. I’d be thrilled if my readers hopped over and had a look.

We only have one event going on this week, but I’ve got other news to share, too:

KUNG POW CHICKEN #2: BOK! BOK! BOOM! by Cyndi MarkoHappy Book Birthday to Cyndi Marko’s



Fowladelphia is under attack by Dr. Screech. Can Kung Pow Chicken save the day?

The adventures continue! Featuring Gordon, an ordinary little chicken who fell into a vat of toxic sludge and emerged as Kung Pow Chicken, and his sidekick little brother Egg Drop (a.k.a. Benny), whose Stop, Drop, and Thunder Roll sends bad guys scrambling for cover.

Kirkus calls the KPC books from Schalastic “high-interest, fast reads for the just-ready-for-chapters reader.” Read the review from Kirkus here!

EXTREME BABYMOUSE by Jennifer HolmThe Houston Public Library is hosting an exciting illustration contest for children. The contest winners and one adult guest each will be treated to a catered lunch with Jennifer Holm, author of the BABYMOUSE  graphic novel series and an autographed copy of her newest Babymouse book, EXTREME BABYMOUSE. For submission guidelines, go here. The contest is open to children in 1st-6th grades. Contest Deadline May 1.


And this week we have an event for dog lovers of all ages!

March 30, Sunday, 2:00 p.m. Find Momo: A Photography Book by Andrew Knapp
Brazos Bookstore
Andrew Knapp (human/photographer) & Momo (dog/master of disguise)

FIND MOMO Meet Momo, a border collie who loves tagging along on adventures and getting his picture taken, and Momo’s photographer and blogger Andrew Knapp. FIND MOMO is more than a photo book: it’s a game, and it’s up to you to find out where the playful pup is hiding. Momo is in all-new adventures as he poses, peeks out, and camouflages himself in all kinds of places. From simple settings to more complex hide-and-go-seeks, there’s lots for dog lovers of all ages to discover.

One last item for friends of Gus, the bookstore cat at Galveston Bookshop. I wanted to pass along the news that Gus had to have drastic eye surgery and is recuperating at home. You can read about his situation here. Get well soon, Gus!

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25. KidLit Events April 1-8…and Beyond

Spring is moving fast, and the big events for readers and writers of children’s and YA literature are speeding toward us. If you haven’t yet signed up for at least one of the two big conferences, do not delay! On April 12, at the Houston Writers’ Guild Conference, Nikki Loftin—author of NIGHTINGALE’S NEST and THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY—will be delivering the keynote address. Other Houston children’s or YA writers who will be on the staff are Joy Preble, Jessica Cappelle, Sharon Morse and Elizabeth White, as well as literary agents Pooja Menon and Eddie Schneider.

SCBWI Houston Conference (art by Diandra Mae)The biggest event in Texas this year for children’s and young adult writers is the Houston Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 25th Anniversary Conference, taking place April 26-27. If you write or illustrate for young readers or have ever dreamed of doing so, register now! We will have agents from three agencies:

Stephen BarrWriters House
Stephen Fraser—Jennifer DeChiara Literacy Agency
Natalie LakosilBradford Literary Agency

Plus three editors from closed houses (this means they do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or queries to submit manuscripts) who will accept submissions from attendees of the Houston SCBWI Conference:

Kendra Levin—Viking Books for Children
Jocelyn Davies—HarperCollins
Julie Ham—Charlesbridge

PLUS, Jim Hoover, Associate Art Director at Viking Children’s Books.

And to top it off, two-time Newbery Honor winning author Gary Schmidt of THE WEDNESDAY WARS, OKAY FOR NOW and LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY will be delivering our keynote address! If you love youth literature, you will love this conference! Register now!

If for some reason you can’t make it to the Houston SCBWI Conference (say, for instance you are under eighteen), there is another fantastic event that day that will make you roll out of bed before noon—the Greater HoustonTeen Book Convention. Too many fabulous authors will be attending for me to mention here, but go to their website and check it out!

Now for this week’s events—the first event is not strictly a children’s author/illustrator event, but it is an event for some very special children who illustrate, so I wanted to share this news with you.

April 2, Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. MD Anderson Children's Art Project
Cornelius Nursery, Voss Rd.
Fundraiser Event for MD Anderson Children’s Art Project

Cornelius Nursery on Voss Rd is holding a painting party for pediatric patients of the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Please come by and join in the fun, enjoy the artwork, and be inspired, plus view wonderful new designs from The Children’s Art Project that are perfect for your garden. The newest collaboration is between Children’s Art Project and the Round Top Collection, which produces unique metal artwork for the garden based on the artwork from children in the Children’s Art Project. Shannon A. Murray, ED of Children’s Art Project and Jeff Krause the founder of Round Top will be on hand to celebrate and highlight this newest collection.

April 4, Friday, 6:30 p.m. KNIGHTLY AND SON by Rohan Gavin
Murder By The Book
Rohan Gavin, YA Author

In author/screenwriter Rohan Gavin’s new YA novel KNIGHTLY AND SON, the once highly in-demand detective Alan Knightley has just woken up after an unexplained incident kept him asleep for four years. While he was out cold, his son, Darkus, took it upon himself to read of all his dad’s old cases, and he’s learned “a lot” about the art of detection. It’s a good thing too–because suddenly the duo find themselves caught up in a crazy conspiracy that involves a group of villainous masterminds (who keep appearing and then vanishing), some high-speed car chases (that will have everyone fastening their seat belts), and a national, bestselling book with the power to make people do terrible, terrible things. But because Alan is still suffering the effects of his coma, he tends to, well, fall asleep at the worst possible moments, Meaning that young Darkus might just have to solve this mystery . . . by himself.

April 5, Saturday, 2:00 p.m.  SUGAR BUG ON THE TOOTH by Dr. Linda Sturrup
Barnes & Noble, Vanderbilt Square
Dr. Linda Sturrup, Dentist/Author

Dr. Linda Sturrup presents A SUGAR BUG ON MY TOOTH, a great read for that first dentist visit for little ones. Natalie Jean’s visit to the dentist seems a little scary, but with help from Dr. Cork, she learns that a dentist checkup can actually be fun! Kirkus  says it’s “An approachable tale of a first dental visit with pictures and a tone that will provide a reassuring beginning lesson to preschool-aged readers.”

April 5, Saturday, 2:00 THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE by Jonathan Stroud
Blue Willow Bookshop
Jonathan Stroud, MG Author

Jonathan Stroud, author of the New York Times best-selling Bartimaeus Trilogy, visits to introduce his new series for middle grade readers. If you like ghost stories that are scary but not too scary, this is for you!  A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see—and eradicate—these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

In THE SCREAMING STAIRCASE, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?

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