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1. KidLit Author Events March 31-April 7

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It’s good to be home! I just got back from D4EO Literary Agency’s first annual retreat, on the beautiful Sequim Bay in in Washington (Seals! Bald eagles!). My body was still on Houston time, so I got six to seven hours of writing in each morning before the day’s activities began. It was fantastic to be surrounded by so many brilliant, dedicated writers and our wonderful agents, Kristin Vincent, Mandy Hubbard and Bree Ogden.

If you haven’t signed up for the SCBWI Houston Conference, April 18-9, there is still time! There are also available spots for the Sunday intensives, one for writers led by Wendy Loggia, Executive Editor at Delacorte Press, and one for illustrators led by Isabel Warren-Lynch, Executive Art Director at Random House Children’s Books.

Though the critique spots are filled, all attendees will be given information on what the speakers are looking for and how to submit their work to these editors and agents after the conference. Please join us to hear what this great line up of speakers has to share with us!

KELLY LIGHT  is the illustrator of two chapter books series: THE QUIRKS and ELVIS AND THE UNDERDOGS and the author-illustrator of the LOUISE LOVES ART picture book series.
ISABEL WARREN-LYNCH is the Executive Art Director at Random House Children’s Books.
SUSAN HAWK is a Literary Agent at The Bent Agency, representing middle grade, YA, picture books, and non-fiction for kids.
WENDY LOGGIA is Executive Editor at Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.
MOLLY JAFFA is an agent with Folio Literary Management. She focuses exclusively on middle grade and young adult fiction.
ANNIE BERGER is an associate editor at HarperCollins. Annie is looking for both middle-grade and teen fiction.
JOHN M. CUSICK is an agent with Greenhouse Literary, representing picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels.
J. PATRICK LEWIS is the author of more than fifty books of poetry for children and served as the nation’s third Children’s Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2013.

Here are the registration details.

Here’s what’s going on this week around Houston:

April 02, Thursday, 5:30 PMTHE IMPOSSIBLE RACE by Chad Morris
Barnes & Noble, Town & Country
Chad Morris, MG Author

Chad Morris is the author of the Cragbridge Hall series, a middle grade romp through a futuristic secondary school. He will sign the third book in the series, THE IMPOSSIBLE RACE and give away posters and bookmarks!

Every year the futuristic school, Cragbridge Hall, holds its most popular tournament–the Race: a series of challenges that range throughout the school and require the use of its amazing inventions like its holographic time machine! But this year is different. Rather than a monetary or academic reward, this year’s winner will be the recipient of a carefully guarded school secret: a secret that could prove both powerful and dangerous. Afraid that the secret may be one of their Grandfather’s inventions, Abby and Derick gather several friends and enroll.

But when Derick gets a mysterious message from the future, the team of friends must figure out how to succeed even when they know they are destined to fail. The stakes have never been higher. A page-turning, time-travel adventure that teaches powerful lessons about choice and consequence, believing you can do hard things, and valuing our history.

Watch the exciting trailer!

April 4, Saturday, 2:00 PM I AM HER REVENGE by Meredith Moore
Blue Willow Bookshop
Meredith Moore, YA Author

Houston author Meredith Moore will sign her debut YA novel, I AM HER REVENGE.

Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception. And she can destroy anyone. When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago. With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her.

April 7, Tuesday, 7:00 PM THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL by Paige McKenzie
Blue Willow Bookshop
Paige McKenzie, YA Author
TICKETED EVENT!

Paige McKenzie will discuss and sign her new novel, THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL, which is based on her YouTube series of the same name.

Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, Sunshine Griffith and her mother Kat move from sunny Austin, Texas, to the rain-drenched town of Ridgemont, Washington. Though Sunshine is adopted, she and her mother have always been close, sharing a special bond filled with laughter and inside jokes. But from the moment they arrive, Sunshine feels her world darken with an eeriness she cannot place. And even if Kat doesn’t recognize it, Sunshine knows that something about their new house is just … creepy.

In the days that follow, things only get stranger. Sunshine is followed around the house by an icy breeze, phantom wind slams her bedroom door shut, and eventually, the laughter Sunshine hears on her first night evolves into sobs. She can hardly believe it, but as the spirits haunting her house become more frightening–and it becomes clear that Kat is in danger–Sunshine must accept what she is, pass the test before her, and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

NOTE: This is a ticketed event. In order to attend this event with Paige McKenzie, please purchase THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL from Blue Willow Bookshop. At the time of your purchase, you will be issued a ticket that indicates your place in line. Your book and signing line ticket can be picked up at the event.

Here’s the haunting trailer:

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2. Hello Again...

As always, a big thank you for your kind comments. Yes, the book is ALMOST finished, although I've strayed from the straight and narrow, due to various hiccups concerning my husband's health, and to lighten the situation, have joined the Society of All Artists. Partly to provide a relief from writing, and partly because I need to complete some illustrations for my books for the very young. Any excuse.

Anyway, I should have River Dark completed by the publishing date I set for myself.

I have been composing a very occasional Newsletter from the Cake and Custard Bookshop, with very simple offers, some of you said you might be interested in this, but I can't be sure who was kind enough to say so. If you receive an unwanted copy of the newsletter, then do please click on the unsubscribe and you won't be bothered again. And I do apologise.

Yes, we jog along as best we can, husband and me, and in order to get him out of the armchair, I have booked several short holidays away throughout the year, while he can still do this. The first is just a weekend in the Cotswolds, a gift given to us for our 40th Wedding Anniversary, and we are both looking forward to the break. 

Shall be taking many photographs, partly to have material for those amazing pictures I'm going to paint!

Much love to you all, Carole.

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3. Brad Garrett Announces His Book of Autobiographical Essays

Everybody Loves Raymond actor Brad Garrett announced the release of his first book.

Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, will publish When the Balls Drop on May 5th. In the video embedded above, Garrett reveals some of the topics he explores in his essays: “middle age,” “mid-life crisis,” and “erectile dysfunction.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC may develop the content from this book into a sitcom. At the moment, “the pilot script for the single-camera comedy is being penned by Garrett and How I Met Your Mother writer Chuck Tatham. Like the book, it will examine the life of a divorced, middle-aged man trying to balance home life and work.”

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4. I am illustrator of the week on childrensillustrators.com

Hey, check me out! I am Illustrator of the Week on childrensillustrators.com.

childrensillustrators.com/geraldhawksley


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5. Today’s the Day! Maggie on Audio by Tavia Gilbert!

GRAIN VALLEY, Kan. (March 31, 2015) – The audiobook version of Maggie Vaults Over the Moon, narrated by voice actress Tavia Gilbert, has been released today by distribution giant Blackstone Audio to major internet platforms and download sites around the … Continue reading

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6. Christine Taylor-Butler's THE LOST TRIBES

Christine Taylor-Butler's The Lost Tribes was released on March 25th. Published by Move Books, I read an advanced copy. Here's the synopsis from Amazon:

In The Lost Tribes, five friends could never imagine their ordinary parents are scientists on a secret mission. When their parents go missing, they are forced into unfathomable circumstances and learn of a history that's best left unknown. Now they must race against time in the search for tribal artifacts that are thousands of years old. Artifacts that hold the fate of the universe in the balance. But unbeknownst to them, they are catalysts in an ancient score that must be settled. The Lost Tribes is a challenge from beginning to end. As the chaos unfolds so do opportunities to solve codes and figure out where the characters will end up next (and the illustration and design give the reader a visual unfolding as well). Written by a former engineer, this book provides a sturdy and accurate science and history foundation, where readers will surely become participants in the facts, fun, and adventure.

Among those five friends and their parents is Serise Hightower and her parents, Dr. David Hightower and Dr. Cheryl Hightower. The kids (Serise, Carlos, Grace, and Ben and his little sister, April) all live in the same cul-de-sac in California. Until later in the book when we learn that all these characters are "scientific observers from another galaxy" we think of Serise as being Navajo. We first learn about her on page 52 (reading the ARC, so page numbers may differ in final copy) when two characters, Ben and Grace, are trying to break a coded message in a game that Ben's uncle has given to him. Serise, Grace tells Ben, is good at breaking codes.

Ben doesn't like Serise. He thinks of her as the "self-titled Queen of the Universe" (p. 60) who can barely move in her tight jeans and wedge-heeled shoes. When she appears in the story, she's showing off a watch that her mom got in New Mexico. It has turquoise in it. That Serise paints matching flowers on her nails tells me the watch is something similar to what I show to the right.

More obnoxious to Ben, however, are the "maroon and purple highlights and feathers in her jet black hair" (p. 60). Another character, Carlos, doesn't like Serise either. He praises the watch but smirks at Ben as he does it. Serise's mom is the Curator of the Sunnyslope Museum of Natural History. She travels a lot. The expensive gifts she brings back to Serise mean that she is spoiled.

Ben doesn't think much of the watch. Serise asks if he wants to see "something cool" (p. 61). Ben, Grace, and Carlos follow her to her backyard (p. 61):
A domed structure sat in the corner. Covered with blankets, canvas tarps and leather, it looked like a cross between a hut and a tent. A single opening was visible on the west side.
It, she tells them, is a "new sweat lodge" built by her dad. He is "getting ready for a vision quest." His hobby is mystic religions and he's "always trying to conjure up the spirit of an ancient ancestor."  In this vision quest, he'll "cleanse himself of toxic impurities and restore his soul" (p. 61). He's been meditating and fasting and wants to do a ceremony on Sunday to get guidance for a journey he's going to go on.

Ben asks if he always does these ceremonies before a trip, and Serise tells him this one is different. After "the big storm" that happened when the book begins, her dad is going to "ask the Tribal Council for permission to conduct an Enemyway ceremony" (p. 61). From inside, the kids can hear her dad chanting. Grace thinks the whole thing sounds cool till Serise tells her "You have to be naked."

Serise goes to the sweat lodge and shows them a walkie talkie she has put there with the intent of playing a joke on her dad while he does the ceremony. While she's doing that, Grace, Ben, and Carlos whisper to each other about how awful it is to be around her.

That evening, Ben's dad tells him that they're invited to the sweat lodge on Sunday. Of course, Ben is unhappy about it. When he gets there, he sees Dr. Hightower and Grace's dad, Dr. Choedon, standing by "an intricate painting at the entrance to the lodge." Dr. Choedon calls it a mandala that is part of the ritual. Inside, Dr. Hightower tells them that if they're sick, they shouldn't participate, because being in a sweat lodge "is a grueling test of endurance." He starts to chant and pour water over huge "red-hot boulders" that Dr. Hightower tells them were heated outside the lodge and brought inside with "a little ingenuity" that he doesn't describe.

Thus far, Taylor-Butler (the author) has not named a specific tribal nation.

The "Enemyway ceremony" and the language that Serise's dad uses, however, indicate that we are meant to think they are Navajo. But because they aren't really Navajo (remember, they're not of Earth at all), I'm not sure what to do with this.

Where did these observers from another galaxy get the information they needed to behave in what they think of as Navajo?

What they do is troubling and misrepresentative. Generally speaking, Navajo ceremonies take place in hogans, not sweat lodges, and sandpaintings are done inside of hogans. Healers don't need to seek permission from a tribal council to do ceremonies. Fasting isn't part of the preparation. Though the ceremony in The Lost Tribes is called an "Enemyway" ceremony (usually written as Enemy Way), the language that Hightower uses is that of the Beauty Way ceremony.

The description of the sweat lodge in The Lost Tribes is more like the sweats done by other Native nations. With this vision quest/sweat lodge/Enemyway ceremony, the author has collapsed the ways of several distinct Native Nations and Tibetan Monks into... the ways of who?!

On page 286, we get an explanation. The kids learn their parents are not from Earth. They were sent to Earth from their homes in the Sonecian galaxy to find out what happened to a previous group. Henry (Ben's uncle), explains (p. 289):
"We call this place Safe Harbor because that is what it represented to our ancestors--a sanctuary from the impending collapse of a star near our galaxy.
"Our ancestors wanted to preserve something of their cultures. Earth was the nearest planet capable of sustaining the many species found in our solar system, making it perfect for colonization. They placed eight tribes on a land mass similar to the environment on their home planet. In time, the tribes blended with the indigenous populations and became part of their genetic pool."

For some unknown reason, they didn't survive and there's no records as to what happened. The kids parents are supposed to investigate what went wrong, but they've done other things, too--like having children. Medie (Ben's mom, who is a chemist) created a way for the kids to behave like human children. For Ben, it was a drink. Parents of the other kids gave it to them, too, in other forms. For Carlos, it was a green tamale. For Grace, it was sushi rolls. For Serise, it was smoothies and mud masks she used at night.

Because Earth's core is unstable, a decision is made to evacuate. Plans are being made to leave, but those plans are interrupted by the arrival of a transport ship, accompanied by military escorts.

"Fierce-looking warriors" in heavy body armor arrive. They are the Royal Guard of Casmir, which is Carlos's tribe. They carry spears, and show no mercy when provoked. Their leader has a "macho swagger" (p. 307-308).

Another group of warriors materializes. These wear no armor and carry no weapons. They are Serise's tribe, the "Hayookaal." Their long black hair "blew in an invisible breeze" -- which signals their ability to control weather and climate on Earth (p. 308). They are very muscular.

Hmmm... the Latino and Native characters are from tribes known as exceptional warriors, even in another galaxy.

Grace's tribe arrives next. They look a lot like Serise's. They're "one of the oldest tribes in the known universe" and are the best linguists in this alliance. They've got a power, too, but do not speak of it publicly. Three other tribes materialize. As Ben wonders when his tribe will materialize, an explosion takes place, but it is the means by which his tribe arrives. They're the Xenobian Warrior caste, an "elite squad" who are "brilliant strategists."

As is clear, the kids in The Lost Tribes are from various tribes, which means the book qualifies as a "diverse" one. For me, however, the diversity must ring true.

The Native characters and their attributes are a mish-mash of several nations, and they're stereotypical, too. The use and misrepresentation of ceremonies that are sacred to the Navajo Nation is especially troubling. Also troubling is that the Kirkus review says there is a "lack of stereotyping" in the book.

These problems could be attributed to stereotypical material that the inhabitants from the other planets read---we all know there's plenty of that right now---but elsewhere in the story, they talk of how superior they are to humans. They've been watching and living amongst humans on earth for thousands of years, so it seems to me they'd know a lot about all the humans on earth and how they were treated by each other. That would include misrepresentations.

The problems in The Lost Tribes are such that I cannot recommend it.

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7. A Star for Beatrix

Beatrix and her book Good Morning to Me! got a starred review from Publishers Weekly! The link is here. We're all eager for the book to be out on May 5th!

b_star_small

The post A Star for Beatrix appeared first on Lita Judge.

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8. Preview: The Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt and a COMPULSION for Reading Giveaway

Hey, guys!

Are you ready for some fun? I'm participating in the Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt from noon PACIFIC time on April 2nd to noon PACIFIC time on April 5th. 

The hunt is HUGE this year, so there will be eight different teams. I'm going to be on #TeamBlue, but you can play every team for more chances to win! 

If you've never played before, it's like a giant blog hop, introducing you to new YA authors and books at every stop. There are tons of prizes including a grand prize for each team. If you win one of the grand prizes you will get a book from each author on that team! For more information and to make sure you get hunt updates, sign up for news on the #YASH website. 

Not only will I be hiding an exclusive never-before-revealed sneak peek of COMPULSION, but I will also be giving away a signed hardcover and an ARC of PERSUASION, book two in the series for part of the Blue Team prize. 

Starting today, here on Adventures, I'll also be giving away a Tiffany-style "key" necklace like Barrie wears, an "I have a compulsion for reading" tote bag, and ten "I have a compulsion for reading" bumper stickers. You don't want to miss out on this fabulous and fun event, but play fast because the hunt is only live for three short days!

Ready? Here are the teams! (Hint: If you click on the image you can get a close up)

Blue Team 1 Pink TeamTeam Gold (2)Team Purple 1Team GreenTeam Red 1Team Teal (2)
Team Orange


I hope you are all as excited as I am!
THE HUNT BEGINS 4/2/15!

Today's Bonus Giveaway




a Rafflecopter giveaway

SOUND OFF! 

What book first started your compulsion for reading?

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9. top 4 post-workshop mistakes to avoid

Vermont College of Fine Arts Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Vermont College of Fine Arts
Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Kathi Appelt, David Macinnis Gill, Dana Walrath, Joy Peskin Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Kathi Appelt, David Macinnis Gill, Dana Walrath, Joy Peskin
Photo by Vicky Lorencen

You roll your quarters, register, and highlight the dates on the calendar. You pre-pick your plane seat and pack your bags. You’re going to a workshop! You look forward to it for months, fret about how many pairs of shoes to take, and finally, it’s time to blast off. I got to do just that earlier this month when I attended the amazing 12th Annual Novel Writing Retreat at Vermont College of Fine Arts. (If you’d like a great recap of the experience itself, I highly recommend visiting Debbi Michiko Florence’s site.)

I don’t know about you, but time passes at a sloth’s pace leading up to an event, but then the workshop itself whisks by at road runner speed. If you’re not careful (and by you’re, of course, I mean, I’m), it’s easy as gliding up an escalator to let the whole experience slip away once you’re back home.

Watch out for these post-workshop mistakes . . . 

1. Rushing to query or submit your manuscript. Some writers think, if I don’t send that editor or agent my manuscript as soon as I get home, they’ll forget all about me. Not true, especially when you wisely offer a little reminder in the first sentence of your cover letter about how you met. Even if a presenter gives you a teensy window–like six weeks–to submit, take your time. Better to email a glistening, well-groomed manuscript, than to rush yourself and offer a schloppy copy. Your work is a reflection of you. Go for shiny, not speedy.

2. Neglecting your notes–if your notes are handwritten (mine always are), type them up. Seriously. It won’t take long, and while you’re typing, you’ll be reviewing the gems the presenters shared with you. It’ll be easy to highlight the parts that resonate with you too. [Next, pop some brackets around a hint or suggestion that perfectly applies to your WIP and cut/paste it into your ms. to serve as a reminder when you return to that section.] Don’t want to type? Use an old school highlighter or sticky notes to spotlight the bits you most want to recall. Put those pages (or copies of them) in the folder of goodies (research, hard copies, feedback) you’re compiling for this new novel. The idea is to incorporate every epiphany, aha and eureka into what you’re working on now, plus you’ll make them easier to find for future follies, that is to say, novels.

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

3. Disconnecting with the people who “clicked” with you. Friend them on Facebook, send a follow-up email or connect with them on LinkedIn. Send a text, a tweet or smoke signal, whatever works for you. These are your new peeps who share your passion. Passing on this chance to expand your circle is criminal, okay, well, at the very least, a pity.

4. Cooling off—you arrived home pooped, but positively giddy about a new idea for your WIP, but then your fervor fizzled. Family, your tyrannical to do list and Facebook eclipsed your euphoria. Don’t let them! If you have a critique group (or a beloved writing buddy), share what you learned with them. Talking about the lectures will help to solidify concepts in your mind. Your group/buddy may also be able to help decide out how to best use what you learned (and of course, you can return the favor). Ask someone to hold you accountable and offer to do likewise.

How about you? How do you keep the momentum moving after a workshop or retreat?

It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. ~ J.K. Rowling


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10. New Non-Fiction for Inquisitive Teens: Rockin Books from Zest

Zest Books is a fantastic publisher of non-fiction for teens. If you're looking for fun, engaging, and informative non-fiction, add these to your collection!



Secret societies are fascinating. Did you  know there's even a secret (and pricey!) club at Disney? Some of the groups may be familiar, some may be new, but all have interesting secrets to share! 

For teens looking for a fun read exposing secret clubs and societies, this is a book that would be a blast. It could also be a fun starting point for research projects. 



With so much information coming at teens, how do they know who and what to trust? How can they find out information for themselves? Debunk It helps teens sort out what's true and what's false. 

Debunk It helps teens sort out information and decide for themselves what to believe. 




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11. It's live!! Cover Reveal: Your Voice Is All I Hear by Leah Scheier + Giveaway (US/Canada)

 

Hi, everyone!

Today we're super excited to celebrate the cover reveal for YOUR VOICE IS ALL I HEAR by Leah Scheier, releasing September 1, 2015 from Sourcebooks. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Leah:

 

Welcome to the cover reveal for my second novel, YOUR VOICE IS ALL I HEAR. I am so excited to share it with you!  Getting a cover mock-up is so nerve-wracking for an author. I tell people that I'm "graphically-challenged;" I know what looks good when I see it but I can't visualize or design anything, not even if my life depended on it.  So when people asked me what I wanted my cover to look like, all I could say was, "I don't know. Sad. But not too sad. Also hopeful? There should be a girl on it.  Or maybe a boy?"
 
A couple of months ago, I was in a deli ordering sandwiches when my phone beeped. My editor had just sent me the cover photo! I couldn't believe it was ready. I tapped on the message, holding my breath for the big reveal, as I bounced in place like a little kid on a sugar high. I waited. And waited. AND THE ATTACHMENT WOULDN'T OPEN ON MY PHONE. It was an awful moment. I gasped out, "Oh my god, oh my god! Extra pickles, please!" to the mystified deli waiter and frantically messaged my daughter. "Open my email," I begged her. "I can't see my cover! You have to tell me what you think." An eternity passed as she downloaded the picture. "Ohhhh, Mom," she replied. "Wow. You are so lucky!"
 
My daughter was right. It had turned out even better than I'd hoped for. When the snapchat popped up on my screen, I finally saw the girl I'd imagined for years, right there in front of me. Joanna Jankowska and her team had captured the mood of the book in one perfect photo.
 
"Hey, lady? Your sandwiches are ready." The waiter held them out nervously. "Extra pickles, just like you said, okay?"
 
"Thank you, that's just wonderful!" I exclaimed. "You're wonderful!"
 
He smiled and backed away slowly. I guess he wasn't used to seeing wild-eyed enthusiasm over pastrami on rye.  
 
Since then, whenever I go back to that deli, I always get a crap-load of pickles with my order.    
   
I want to thank the team at Sourcebooks for the beautiful cover design. And for the many pickles that have come into my life. 
 
 
~ Leah Scheier (YOUR VOICE IS ALL I HEAR, Sourcebooks)
 

 

 

Ready to see?

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Here it is!

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_your-voice.png

*** If you choose to share this image elsewhere, please include a courtesy link back to this page so others can enter Leah's giveaway. Thank you! ***

 

YOUR VOICE IS ALL I HEAR

by Leah Scheier
Release date: September 1, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks
ISBN: 1492614416
 
 
About the Book

 

April won't let Jonah go without a fight. He’s her boyfriend—her best friend. She’ll do anything to keep him safe. But as Jonah slips into a dark depression, trying to escape the traumatic past that haunts him, April is torn. To protect Jonah, she risks losing everything: family, friends, an opportunity to attend a prestigious music school. How much must she sacrifice? And will her voice be loud enough to drown out the dissenters—and the ones in his head?

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_leah-scheier.jpgAbout the Author

Leah Scheier is the author of Secret Letters, a historical mystery featuring the daughter of the Great Detective. After finishing up her adventures in Victorian England, Leah moved back to modern times, and currently writes about teens in her hometown of Baltimore. During the day she waves around a pink stethoscope and sheets of Smurf stickers; at night she bangs on her battered computer and drinks too much caffeine. You can visit her website at leahscheier.com or say hi to her on Twitter @leahscheier.

 

Twitter | Web | Goodreads | Facebook | Pre-order Amazon | Pre-order Barnes & Noble | Pre-order Book Depository | YABC Profile

 
 
 

Giveaway Details

Two winners will each receive a signed copy of YOUR VOICE IS ALL I HEAR (when available). 

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

What do you think about the cover and synopsis?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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12. An Elephant Gift For You : Hello from the Elephants

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13. Cover Revealed For Book Four of The Millennium Series

The Girl in The Spider's WebThe cover for The Girl in The Spider’s Web, the fourth installment of the bestselling Millennium series, has been unveiled by The Wall Street Journal.

Swedish writer David Lagercrantz picks up where the late Stieg Larsson left off. Deadline reports that Lagercrantz did not consult “the partial manuscript for a fourth book that the author’s partner, Eva Gabrielsson, reportedly found in his computer.”

According to The Guardian, Quercus Books will publish the United Kingdom edition of this book on August 27th. Click here to watch the book trailer and see the cover art for this title. Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Penguin Random House, won’t release the American version until September 1st. Follow this link to see the American publisher’s book trailer.

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14. An Interview with Jessica Faust


I do a lot of interviews, many with a lot of the same questions. Every once in a while one stands out as just a little different with questions that will give the reader, hopefully, something she hasn't heard a million times before.


Anna Katmore held just that kind of interview with me and for a long time I was saving the interview on my desktop to parse bits and pieces out for you or use it as inspiration for blog posts. After almost a year (how the heck did that happen!) I decided that the best course of action would just be to share the interview and let you read it all for yourself. 

Enjoy!



--jhf

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15. Picture Book Monday with a review of A tale of Two Beasts


We often like to think that there is only one side to a story, the side we know and believe in. This is rarely true, and into today's picture book we see how the same story can be very different depending on who is telling that story. Children will be amused by this tale, and hopefully they will also take something away with them after they have read it.

A tale of two beasts
Fiona Roberton

A tale of two beasts
Picture Book
For ages
Kane Miller, 2015, 978-1-61067-361-7
One day a little girl is walking home through the woods when she sees a peculiar little beast hanging from a tree. The little beast is “whining sadly,” so the little girl decides to “rescue” the little animal. She takes him home wrapped in her scarf, washes him, dresses him in a sweater and hat, and gives him a bowl of nuts to eat. She takes him for walks and shows him off to her friends.  Then the little girl realizes that the little beast is not happy and soon after he runs away, returning to his home in the woods.
   One day, a little beast is happily hanging from a tree singing when he is “AMBUSHED by a terrible beast!” The beast ties it up, takes it to her “secret lair” and then proceeds to do unspeakable things to the little beast, things like bathing it, dressing it, and giving is stupid squirrel food to eat. Eventually the little beast comes up with a “cunning plan” and it escapes into the woods before its cruel captor can get her hands on him again.
   In this clever book the author tells us the same story from two points of view. First the little girl tells the story, and then the little beast tells the story. They both think the other is a “beast,” and they don’t think very highly of each other either. It is interesting to see how the little girl thinks she is saving the beast, whereas he thinks she is kidnapping, or rather beastnapping, him.
   Both the stories are funny, and together they will help children to see that there are always at least two sides to every story.  The wonderful thing about both stories is that in the end the two beasts come to an understanding. They see things from slightly different perspectives to be sure, but the end result is a good one for both of them.

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16. Sean Fay Wolfe Lands Deal With HarperCollins

Minecraft PictureSean Fay Wolfe, a teen writer, has signed a three-book deal with HarperCollins. Wolfe became well-known for writing fan fiction stories inspired by the video game Minecraft.

Senior editor Pamela Bobowicz negotiated the terms of the agreement with Zachary Shuster Harmsworth literary agent Rick Richter. The publisher will release book one of Wolfe’s middle-grade trilogy, entitled Quest For Justice, on July 28, 2015. Book two will come out on October 27, 2015 and book three will follow on January 26, 2016.

Here’s more from the press release: “Sean Fay Wolfe was just 16 years old when he wrote, Quest For Justice, the first book of The Elementia Chronicles trilogy, which he originally self-published. Inspired by the best-selling game, this unofficial trilogy brings Minecraft fans and middle grade readers on an action packed adventure. In Quest for Justice, dark forces are at work on the Elementia server, and when new players Stan, Kat and Charlie arrive on the scene, they quickly find themselves in peril.”

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17. Three Questions with Tricia Springstubb: Advice for young writers, office cats and CODY AND THE FOUNTAIN OF HAPPINESS

A late bloomer, Tricia Springstubb didn’t discover the writing life till after she’d tried many other careers—all of which, not so surprisingly, centered on kids. Now she is lucky enough to be a full-time writer in Cleveland, where she lives with her teacher husband and, of course, Habibi. Her books include the novels What Happened on Fox Street, Mo Wren Lost and Found, and the picture book Phoebe and Digger.

You can find out more about Tricia and her work at her website, on Twitter and on Pinterest.

Synopsis of CODY AND THE FOUNTAIN OF HAPPINESS:

This is the very first book in a new series about Cody, her best friend Spencer, and their diverse families and neighbors. Cody is a girl who hates to give up, which makes for adventures big and small. My books are usually kind of broody, so writing one as sunny and happy as this was great fun. The next book publishes in spring 2016. (Publisher: Candlewick)

Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?

This is the aptly named Habibi. He’s beloved not just by me, but kids all over the world. For real! Whenever I do a Skype visit, the sound of young voices brings him running. As soon as I hold him up to the camera, it’s all over for me. He completely steals the show! When not being a rock star, he likes to hang around my desk, preferably sitting on top of my notes. Cody features a large, comic, infinitely lovable cat named MewMew. Maybe you can guess my inspiration.

Q. What advice do you have for young writers?

Look again.

The world today is such a busy, buzzy place, with stimulation coming at us from every angle. It’s easy to find ourselves skimming along the surface of all there is to see, hear and read. Easy to forget how to listen instead of hear, how to look and really see.

Kids are born naturals at noticing and observing. As writers we need to nurture that skill, so we don’t just register A Tree but This Tree, in all its particular leafy (or barren) glory. Not just A Mean Girl, but This Mean Girl, with her chewed-down nails and too-loud voice. Our job is to go beneath the surface, beyond labels and first impressions, behind that front door. I may be biased, but I think it’s the world’s best, most rewarding job!

Q. What are you excited about right now?

I’m surfing the stratosphere because Eliza Wheeler is the illustrator for the Cody books. She found just the right combination of warm and witty to perfectly suit the books’ tone. Wait till you see her MewMew!

I’m also excited to have two new books in a single year, a first for me for sure. The other is Moonpenny Island, a middle grade novel for slightly older readers. A small island, Moonpenny harbors some big secrets. I think of the main character, Flor, as a sort of older sister to Cody. Both girls brim with questions and dreams, and though they grow and change, they also remain indelibly, uniquely themselves.

------
For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.

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18. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip



There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 


An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance
 

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule
http://www.wattpad.com/story/29486760-irresistible-mistake-new-adult-romantic-suspense


Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 
 

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19. Video: A School Visit with Author G. Neri

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

G. Neri is the Coretta Scott King honor-winning author of Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty (Lee & Low) and the recipient of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award for his free-verse novella, Chess Rumble (Lee & Low).

His novels include Knockout Games (Carolrhoda Lab), Surf Mules (Putnam) and the Horace Mann Upstander Award-winning, Ghetto Cowboy (Candlewick). His latest is the free-verse picture book bio, Hello, I'm Johnny Cash (Candlewick).

Prior to becoming a writer, Neri was a filmmaker, an animator/illustrator, a digital media producer, and a founding member of The Truth anti-smoking campaign. Neri currently writes full-time and lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife and daughter.

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20. Stransky: Package Received.


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21. The Night Horses - a bookwrap





Unwrapping some quotes for you today...







Unwrapping...







Author:  Anaka Jones 

Ages:  2-5








A rhyming unwrapping of book today...


Night Horses

Early morning
Start of day
Horses gather
Eat their hay.

Off they gallop
Work with power
Toil all day
Then back for shower.

Sun descends
Dinner calls...
Served with smiles
Inside their stalls.

Humans tired
Home...days done
Horses perk up...
Time for fun!

Cards come out
They braid their manes
Paint their hooves
Now that's insane!

Funny joke time
Midnight snacks,
Dance to music,
Back to back.

Alas, they're tired
Parties done,
Time for sleep
Night, everyone!

Tomorrow's close
The sun peeks through..
Up they get
So much to do.





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22. Book of Earth (2015)

Book of Earth (Bradamante Saga #1) Robin Brande. 2015. Ryer Publishing. 395 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Bradamante knelt in the mud and cut away all of her hair. Rain peppered her bare scalp. The wind shoved at her in gusts, plastering her wet clothes against her skin. It was stupid, she knew, to kneel here in the storm--even in summer the combination of wet and wind could prove deadly. Her fingers were already wooden from the cold. But she continued working, pulling each new section of hair taut and slicing it away with her hunting knife.

Did I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Robin Brande's Book of Earth? No. I didn't LOVE it. Did I love it enough that I'd want to read more in the series? Yes. In fact, I probably would enjoy them more.

The main focus of Book of Earth is on world-building and introducing the characters. Both are important, essential even. But it had a prologue feel to it, like the real story had yet to begin. That's not to say that the book lacks action or suspense. But most of it comes towards the end.

Bradamante is the heroine of Book of Earth. Is she weak? Is she strong? Is she decisive? Is she impulsive? At the start of the novel, Bradamante has perhaps taken the first step towards her future. Her decision to cut her hair may seem small, but, it's life-changing. That night she has her first vision. (This first vision reminded me of Samuel's calling in the Bible. For those that are interested, you can read about it in 1 Samuel 3.) In the vision, she sees a teacher, Manat, and an older-stronger-wiser self. I believe at the time of the vision, she is twelve, but her older self, her "warrior" self is in her twenties. She listens to what Manat has to say. She's at a crossroads of sorts. She can choose what direction her life will take. She can choose to commit to the warrior-path knowing that it will be difficult and demanding and require tough sacrifices, or, she can remain where she is and take a more passive  role. (I hesitate to use the word "victim" here, but, in some ways it might apply. Since most readers can guess this will not be her choice, I'm not sure if it matters.) Bradamante chooses to become a warrior: to begin her training. But this training is unique. For it occurs NIGHTLY in her visions. She's training for the future while she sleeps. She wakes and plays instructor for her brother, Rinaldo. I'll be honest: these visions add strangeness to the novel. I wasn't sure, at the beginning, who Manat was, if she was a real person, or a spirit. Her brother also had some doubts about "Manat." Is his sister crazy? Why is she suddenly having all these strange dreams or "visions"? How does she know what she knows? Bradamante's biggest fear--at first--is that her new life will take her away from her brother. She is hoping that it WILL take her far, far away from her mother, however. But in her reckoning, the perfect life would take both of them far, far away, and they'd be together and both strong warriors.

Things don't go as Bradamante would wish. To say the least! And there's a dark, cruelty to the world Brande has created in Book of Earth. There were definitely scenes that brought the Bible to mind once again. (Genesis 19 and Judges 19). I'm struggling with how much to reveal--in general. How much is too much in a review? I will add this perhaps. There comes a time when Bradamante's training moves from nightly visions to reality. In other words, she begins to physically train and do battle with other would-be warriors. She continues to learn from Manat, Samual, and others. Not just how to do battle or how to survive, but, more meaning-of-life, philosophical, spiritual stuff.

The world Brande has created definitely has a spiritual side to it. But it isn't exactly a spirituality that one would recognize or distinguish as being "Christian". There isn't one God. In fact, lower-case "g" throughout. And all the talk is of each person finding and listening to their god. There isn't any one message to be spread or taught either. In fact, in quite a few places, it's stressed that what happens between a person and their god is private and personal and just for them. That being said, Bradamante's message from her god comes almost straight from the Bible--Jeremiah 1:5. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart. That is the message Bradamante's god gives her along with: Do not be afraid. I have called you to this life. Do not be afraid. Be strong in body. Strong in mind. Strong in heart. And know that I am with you.

Book of Earth kept me reading. Even if I didn't always "like" a particular scene. (Intense scenes can make me uncomfortable in the moment. I want to know what happens, if characters get out of a situation. But until they do--I have an almost hate-to-look reaction.) For the most part, I cared about the characters and thought they were well-developed. (Jara and Astolpho are other characters I came to care about.) The world she created was interesting. Not one I'd like to visit, mind you, but interesting all the same. I do want to know what happens next.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. when diversity is not a strategy but an essential element of the story being told: Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose

We Need Diverse Books. We absolutely do. Books that don't merely place a "non-mainstream" character into the story for the sake of inclusion. Books that go much deeper than the announcement of, or allusion to, skin color, origin countries, sexual preferences. Books that don't operate as if conforming to PC checklists. Books that function outside the circle of slogans and tell real stories.

Truly diverse books are books in which the culture and cultural heritage and economics of the characters are essential to the story being told. They explore wide ranging personages, languages, histories, orientations, dreams. They are steeped in the particular social and personal pressures faced by very particular (and particularly well-drawn) characters. They introduce characters that seem to live not just on the page, but off it.

Middle grade/YA novels such as Ann E. Burg's Serafina's Promise, Thanhha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again, and Patricia McCormick's Never Fall Down and Sold have, among many other titles, introduced lasting, fully dimensional, diverse characters to younger readers. With her second stunning middle grade novel, Blue Birds, Caroline Starr Rose has made another important addition to this canon.

Blue Birds is a novel in verse that explores a little-known chapter of American history concerning the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke. It's late in the 16th century. English explorers have arrived to Roanoke Island, off Virginia. Conflict and distrust erupt among the native tribes and the English.

Into this setting Rose has placed two young girls—Alis, from England, and Kimi, a Roanoke who has watched the English bring disease and disaster to her world. Out on her own, Alis discovers the natural beauty of the place. Watching, Kimi must decide whether or not to trust this fair-skinned creature. Will Alis and Kimi be able to peel back the social prejudice and befriend one another? Will they be able to step over the great divide that rises whenever individual people are presented with difference? And what will they do—what can they do—as tensions mount in their respective communities?

Rose has given us a complex story, a real and researched story, a story that, despite its roots in late 16th century America, feels contemporary. The questions about other are neither dodged nor trumped, and they never feel commercially strategic. The questions arise because such questions naturally do, because this is the story Starr is telling. And look how gracefully and honestly she tells it:

Why do they dress as they do?
To speak their language,
does it feel as it sounds,
like sharpened rocks on  your tongue?
What makes their skin
the color of a snake's underside?
Why do the men not keep their faces smooth
but grow hair from their cheeks?
Do they ever bathe?
For their strong odor lingers
long after they've gone.

Though they
have brought us heartache,
must all of them
be enemies?
In bringing readers Alis and Kimi, Starr has not just brought us a distant era. She's brought her readers a way of sinking in with real questions about difference—and a credible suggestion that such differences might be overcome.





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24. Social Media Etiquette

What not to do when using social media.


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25. Kindle Kid's Book Trailer : "Happy Animals. A Children's Animal Picture ...

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