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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: BLOG TOUR, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. #IndieHooplaPromos Tour: The Guardians of Man (Part 2 of 2)

Tour Schedule Here

I'm excited that I get to host on this tour because I met Lori several years ago and she's an amazing person and author. Crystal, I hope to get to know better. So ladies, I'm putting you in my hot chair, one at time of course, to see what myself and readers can learn about two authors working as one. Time to play 10 questions with Crystal! 

Do you prefer to write with a typewriter, pen and paper, or a computer?
Hi guys! Thanks so much for your time today. I like to write everything out by hand, once I get to the point where I’m satisfied I type it out and save it for my editor.

Do you need music or silence to write?
Once I start writing it doesn’t matter what’s going on around me. Once I started writing while I was in a movie theater. The movie wasn’t boring but sometimes, especially when I get to a certain point in the story, my writing trumps everything

Did you read a lot as a child?
As far as reading is concerned I was a late bloomer. I really didn’t start reading on my own until Jr. High.

How did you pick your cover art? What was the inspiration?
For the covers of In the foothills of Mt. Empyreal our inspiration came directly from the stories, which is why there are angels and birds on both covers. Our cover artist for this project is Rebecca Treadway over at http://atrtink.com/

I’ve worked with her before, this was Lori’s 1st time working with Rebecca but because I trusted her so completely Lori trusted her too. We sent her a few images and gave her an idea of what we wanted then we stepped back and let her run with it.

Because both books revolve around the same event and takes place in the same location, but are completely stand alone stories she reversed the images and joined both books together by using fire and ice color schemes. We both approved the very 1st concept.

What would you like to be remembered for?
Hopefully for the little things, for my random acts of kindness, something nice that I said. I hope that I can be forgiven for the times I was bullheaded or intentionally cruel because I let my anger get the best of me or I wanted to hurt someone for hurting me. Being a good person is hard and I haven’t always been that, so hopefully if I do what I need to, if I can think before I speak, to think before I act, I can be remembered as being a good person.

Are there any of your characters that are based off of any people in real life?
No. Some of my characters do and say things that remind me of people I know in real life and after the release of my story The Monster I had distant cousins contact me asking if some of the characters were based on family members, that was fun but, it was just a coincidence.

Of your characters, whom do you favor most, and why?
I don’t have an all time favorite but for instance like in the Spectrum Trilogy there are parts in the story as a whole where one character will blow me away.

How long did it take you to write your very first novel?
My very 1st novel The Darkness took five years to write, but I wasn’t writing full time.

Of your characters, who is it that you just love to hate? Why is that?
Lol, sometimes they piss me off but I don’t hate any of my characters. When I was working with Lori on Mt. Empyreal I created a character named Khrystle that I wasn’t really feeling but Lori wanted to keep her and that made me resent her for a while but I didn’t hate her.

How old were you when you first started writing?
Well I always told really creepy stories, I remember being invited to slumber parties for the sole purpose of telling a spooky story but I really didn’t start writing them down until I was in Jr. Highschool.

To see Lori's answers, VISIT HERE.


The Guardians of Man by Connor Titus

In the valley of Mt. Empyreal, the fight for humanity has already begun.

In the mountain community of Fate's Keep, the global power outage and the onset of winter are only the beginning of what is yet to come. Along with the first snowfall, an ancient evil has come. With time running out, will the Guardians be able to save mankind?


Buy the Book: Amazon



About the Authors

Lori Titus

Lori Titus is a native Californian with a penchant for stories that are twisted, scary, or both. She also enjoys a dash of romance in her storytelling when she can get away with it! She is the author of Hunting in Closed Spaces (The Marradith Ryder Series, Part 1). She is also half of the writing team known as Connor Titus (with author Crystal Connor) and has co-authored two novels, The Guardians of Man and The End Is Now. Lori has authored many short stories and two novellas, Lazarus and Hailey's Shadow. Some may know her as the Managing Editor at Flashes in the Dark. Upcoming work for 2015 includes a novel called The Bell House and the second installment of the Ryder Series.

The Darkest of Lore Blog  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads | Amazon Author Page


Crystal Connor


Washington State native Crystal Connor has been terrorizing readers since before Jr. high School and loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys, rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high heel shoes & unreasonably priced hang bags. She is also considering changing her professional title to ‘dramatization specialist’ because it’s so much more theatrical than being just a mere drama queen. Along with inducing insomnia within her readership Crystal also reviews indie horror and sci-fi movies for HorrorAddicts.net








 GIVEAWAY

1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire HDX 7" (US Only - $229 value) or Amazon Gift Card ($199 value/ International) Ends 12/17/2014. Open only to those who can legally enter. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kisha from Indie Hoopla Services & Promotions, http://indiehoopla.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

0 Comments on #IndieHooplaPromos Tour: The Guardians of Man (Part 2 of 2) as of 12/9/2014 12:01:00 AM
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2. Interviewed on Grab the Lapels

The lovely Melanie Page interviewed me today on her blog, Grab the Lapels. You can read the post here.

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3. #IndieHooplaPromos Tour: The Guardians of Man (Part 1 of 2)

Tour Schedule Here

I'm excited that I get to host on this tour because I met Lori several years ago and she's an amazing person and author. Crystal, I hope to get to know better. So ladies, I'm putting you in my hot chair, one at time of course, to see what myself and readers can learn about two authors working as one. Time to play 10 questions with Lori!

1. Do you prefer to write with a typewriter, pen and paper, or a computer?
I usually write on my computer, but when I want to experiment I will go back to pen and paper.

2. Do you need music or silence to write?
I don't like writing in silence. I usually have on some music, or have the tv on for background noise.

3. Did you read a lot as a child?
Yes, I was a voracious reader! I think that was one of the things that inspired me to write.

4. How did you pick your cover art? What was the inspiration?
R.L. Treadway did both the covers for The Guardians of Man and Hunting in Closed Spaces.  I discussed the stories with her and she came up with a few choices for each.

5. What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered as someone who enriched the lives of others in some way.

6. Are there any of your characters that are based off of any people in real life?
None are actually based on real people, but some of the characters do have qualities of people I know.  For example,  Marradith's mother in Hunting has some personality traits of three different women.

7. Of your characters, whom do you favor most, and why?
In The Guardians of Man, I love Rythy.  She is so completely evil,  and has no clue about rules or limits. Justin Granthem is a favorite because he's flawed and sometimes comical, but in many ways he is an ideal man.

8. How long did it take you to write your very first novel?
About a year and a half.

9. Of your characters, who is it that you just love to hate? Why is that?
There are several! Leighton Ryder, Marradith's great grandfather, and Adam from Guardians.

10. How old were you when you first started writing?
I was nine.


The Guardians of Man by Connor Titus

In the valley of Mt. Empyreal, the fight for humanity has already begun.

In the mountain community of Fate's Keep, the global power outage and the onset of winter are only the beginning of what is yet to come. Along with the first snowfall, an ancient evil has come. With time running out, will the Guardians be able to save mankind?


Buy the Book: Amazon



About the Authors

Lori Titus

Lori Titus is a native Californian with a penchant for stories that are twisted, scary, or both. She also enjoys a dash of romance in her storytelling when she can get away with it! She is the author of Hunting in Closed Spaces (The Marradith Ryder Series, Part 1). She is also half of the writing team known as Connor Titus (with author Crystal Connor) and has co-authored two novels, The Guardians of Man and The End Is Now. Lori has authored many short stories and two novellas, Lazarus and Hailey's Shadow. Some may know her as the Managing Editor at Flashes in the Dark. Upcoming work for 2015 includes a novel called The Bell House and the second installment of the Ryder Series.

The Darkest of Lore Blog  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads | Amazon Author Page


Crystal Connor


Washington State native Crystal Connor has been terrorizing readers since before Jr. high School and loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys, rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high heel shoes & unreasonably priced hang bags. She is also considering changing her professional title to ‘dramatization specialist’ because it’s so much more theatrical than being just a mere drama queen. Along with inducing insomnia within her readership Crystal also reviews indie horror and sci-fi movies for HorrorAddicts.net








 GIVEAWAY

1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire HDX 7" (US Only - $229 value) or Amazon Gift Card ($199 value/ International) Ends 12/17/2014. Open only to those who can legally enter. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kisha from Indie Hoopla Services & Promotions, http://indiehoopla.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

0 Comments on #IndieHooplaPromos Tour: The Guardians of Man (Part 1 of 2) as of 12/4/2014 5:09:00 AM
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4. Blog Tour Stop: Children’s Literary Podcasting Loves a Winner

LetsGetBusy1 293x300 Blog Tour Stop: Childrens Literary Podcasting Loves a WinnerOn April 19th of this past year I hosted a Children’s Literary Salon at NYPL called Podcasting Children’s Books: Ins and Outs, Ups and Downs. Unlike a lot of my Salons, this one was actually recorded and turned into a podcast here.  Why am I telling you all this?  Because that podcaster, one Matthew Winner, has just hit a very important milestone.  As of  November 21st the Let’s Get Busy podcast celebrated its 100th episode.  To celebrate this momentous event, Matthew organized a Blog+Pod tour.  And lo and behold, I’m on the schedule.

Now if you don’t listen to children’s literature podcasts but have been vaguely interested in starting, I can’t recommend Matthew’s enough.  But that’s enough from me.  Let’s hear from the man himself.

Betsy: Great to have you hear Matthew!  Let’s start with an easy question.  Why don’t we delve deep into the nature of podcasting itself?

Matthew: Sounds great! You know, podcasting has gone through much of the same trend the blogging did in the early days of the internet. It’s so easy to do and requires so little prep that it seems like hundreds of new podcasts are popping up every week. And that’s such a good thing, because it means that people are sharing their voices and their unique perspectives on a myriad of topics. 

Betsy: So what’s the advantage of being a podcaster?

Matthew: The biggest draw for me as a podcaster is getting to interact with my content in this authentic and meaningful way that an interview format allows. I love being able to ask whatever question comes to mind in the context of our conversation, but I also love hearing guests work through their responses. There’s always a prized moment where an unexpected insight is shared that just rocks me to the core. Those are the moments I live for and it’s the quality that I think keeps people listening. Also, podcasting is a bit less time-consuming for me. Most of the time spent with Let’s Get Busy is on setting up the interviews, confirming that the guest’s technology works, and prepping the episode for publication. I still write reviews, post lesson ideas, and share insights on advocacy and ed trends through my Busy Librarian blog, but it’s really nice to have an outlet where I can interact with a human being, make a connection over great literature or art, and then share that conversation with others.

Betsy: And what’s changed since you began?

LetsGetBusy5 300x298 Blog Tour Stop: Childrens Literary Podcasting Loves a WinnerMatthew: I’m now receiving interview requests pretty frequently from publishers and publicists organizing blog tours and looking to promote their big releases. I don’t say yes to every request, but when I do I always love being a part of the book’s send-off. Whether it’s the author’s debut into publishing, their first work for a particular age range, or it’s just a great book that is receiving some extra publicity, it’s a huge honor to be a part of the celebration. But most of my guests come through recommendations from previous guests. This might be the quality I feel like is working best of all for the podcast. We’ve built a family through the podcast guests of friends, colleagues, mentors, and man-would-I-love-to-hear-you-speak-with-NAME-about-TOPIC. It’s a really wonderful thing. Oh! And the other thing that’s changed is that I’ve started to find more kidlit podcasters! When we met at the NYPL Literary Salon the only other podcasters doing something similar to Let’s Get Busy that I was aware of were Katie Davis (Brain Burps About Books), John Sellers (PW KidsCast), and The Kids Comics Revolution (Dave Roman and Jerzy Drozd). Now I’ve made pals with Gregg Schigiel of the Stuff Said comics podcast, Nick Patton of the Picturebooking Podcast, and a handful of really cool people on Twitter who have plans to start podcasting soon. I feel like collectively we’re all helping to give a greater voice to children’s publishing. 

Betsy: Have you gotten any feedback from the public that’s surprised you?

Matthew: I keep a digital folder of all of the nice things people have said about the podcast via email, Facebook, or Twitter. (I know, I know… I’m such a teacher. You do know we all keep “smile” folders with these kids of notes from kids, parents, and administration, right?!) It helps me to know that people are listening and that the podcast is becoming for them something bigger than I ever expected. I even share a couple of them through my “Nice Things Said” tab on the podcast homepage (http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/p/blog-page.html) as sort of testimonials for new visitors to the podcast.

But the comment that surprised me most and still gives me chills today was from Dan Santat, author of Sidekicks, Beekle, and illustrator of half of your favorite picture books). He visited Julie Danielson’s Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog and had the following to say about Let’s Get Busy:

“I’ve recently become addicted to Matthew Winner’s Let’s Get Busy podcast, where he interviews authors and illustrators in children’s publishing. Everyone should check that podcast out. It feels like I’m hanging out with all my friends. I think in about a year, when everyone catches on, it will be one of the most important media sites in the children’s publishing field.”

My interview with Dan was a really special one and I point people back to it all the time just to hear Dan himself tell the story of Beekle. It makes me a little weepy just thinking about it now. I admire him for his deep sincerity in not just what he writes, but also for who he is. He’s top notch in my book and knowing that there are people like him out there that believe in me and the future of this podcast the way he does is a truth I hold very near and dear.

LetsGetBusy4 375x500 Blog Tour Stop: Childrens Literary Podcasting Loves a WinnerBetsy: Where do you see the future of podcasting even going?

Matthew: Podcasting is such an easy way to consume media. We’re already seeing a decline in network television and an increase in digital content streaming and on-demand media. In that way I think that much of our content is going to start trending toward formats like podcasting because of the ease of reaching a wide audience and the flexibility in how the content can be presented.

Betsy:  And if you could add one cool feature, what would it be?

Matthew: I may have talked about this on the podcast before, but if I could add one feature to the podcast it would be to have a digital shop for all of the past and upcoming guests to share their books, their art, and their talent. A number of illustrators are on Etsy or similar sites. Some sell through their own host sites. But as a huge fanboy of kidlit I feel like we don’t have a central location to access all of this good stuff. A place for me to pick up a tee of Dan Santat’s Beekle alongside a print of Molly Idle’s Flora partner skating with a penguin and an amazing handmade fairtrade Little Lost Owl based on Chris Haughton’s gorgeous books. I feel like what we need is to see more of our favorite books and characters on the walls of our rooms, schools, and libraries and on the totes, tees, and rub-on-tattoos of every card-carrying kidlit fan out there. That would be amazing.

Betsy:  Abso-friggin’-lutely.

Well big time thanks to Matthew for stopping on by.  I think this post may be the most useful encapsulation of the state of contemporary children’s literature podcasting today, thanks in large part to Matthew’s knowledge about the field.  Now be sure to check out the rest of the Let’s Get Busy Podcast blog tour:

Wed. Nov. 19 – Picturebooking Podcast

Sat. Nov. 22 – The Library Fanatic

Sun. Nov. 23 – Laurie Ann Thompson

Mon. Nov. 24 – 100 Scope Notes

Tue. Nov. 25 – LGBPodcast via McSpedden Elementary Library blog

Wed. Nov. 26 – Writer Side Up

Thu. Nov. 27 – Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Fri. Nov. 28 – Brain Burps About Books

Sat. Nov. 29 – LGBPodcast via Aimee Winner

Mon. Dec. 1 – Here!

Tue. Dec 2. – LGBPodcast via Carter Higgins

Wed. Dec. 3 – GreenRow Books

Let’s Get Busy podcast - http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/
The Busy Librarian blog - http://www.busylibrarian.com
LIKE the Busy Librarian on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/BusyLibrarian
Follow Matthew on Twitter - @MatthewWinner

LetsGetBusy2 Blog Tour Stop: Childrens Literary Podcasting Loves a Winner


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5. Weeklong Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month beginning December 1st

Thanks to a very generous benefactor, we are taking PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month on what appears to be developing into a massive blog tour beginning December 1st through the 5th!

Seven years ago, I began offering the beta version of PlotWriMo for novelist word drunk from NaNoWriMo. Over the years I continued refining and perfecting the steps to help writers revise all those words generated in November into a compelling story with a plot (and all other novelists and memoirists and screenwriters alike struggling to create a pleasing form for their readers)

Earlier this year, I partnered with Jill Corcoran who brought her insight and love of concept and knowledge of the inside of publishing. Together we created an entire video series of the program. The feedback and "ah ha" moments we have received have been enormously rewarding and makes all the time and hard work worthwhile.

Sample of feedback:
"Jill (video 4, I think) explained what agents meant when they say "They didn't connect" and it was like a lightbulb had been screwed in my head-- I failed to meet all of the essential elements of a scene. There was always something about my former MS that I could never pinpoint that felt off, and that was just it! I needed more emotional development, conflict/ tension, dramatic action and clear goals PER scene."

"I watched the Revise Your Novel in a Month videos and really began to understand the difference between crisis and climax and the key ways to develop each part of the plot."

"PlotWriMo is the closest “formula” for structuring a book I’ve ever discovered. It’s like an algebra equation for writing – if you’re missing any of the energetic markers you can’s solve for X."

"It’s helped me re-envision my own work and I can’t stop myself from dissecting every movie and book I’ve read since."

"I've learned a lot through the PlotWriMo series. I've always struggled with revision, but the PlotWriMo series has helped me organize my revision so that I am going deeper than I ever have before at making my story shine."

"Now, what did I learn from the videos? Goodness, what did I not? It's all about the structure. Being a pantser doesn't work when you are revising (Not sure it would work for me - ever), but you have to be clear in your journey. I also learned to forgive myself. To keep writing. And that we can learn from our mistakes and become better writers."

"I watched PlotWriMo and learned about EMs, concept and that the antagonist OWNS the middle."

“Ah, ha” Moment: The exercise of writing down all of the themes, and getting down to the grittier ones. And when I found my darker theme was about loss, and the threat of losing someone you love. I couldn’t believe when I went back and looked at the Energy Markers and found that common theme. I’m working on deepening the scenes with metaphors and thematic significance."

"Don't start drafting until you're happy with the concept and markers."

"As for what I learned, viewing both the crisis and the climax from my antagonist’s point of view gave my story dramatic action and the depth it needed to bind the story and pull in the reader."

"Yet my greatest aha moment came with the challenge of writing the concept, giving my story definition. As a young woman I took my family on some exciting adventures, wounds and all, and the only dream still intact in the end was my passion and desire to be a writer. I couldn’t just throw out my concept because it wasn’t good enough, or my life wouldn’t be either. Crafting my concept, meant validating what I had done and why, all the parts and pieces."

"I really had an "aha moment" when Martha Alderson talked about the end mirroring the beginning."

The icing on the proverbial cake was the news that one writer secured an agent (having the amazing opportunity to chose from 3 offering her contracts). As she writes: "No word of lie - it is absolutely thanks to Jill Corcoran and Martha Alderson! The last round of revisions changed everything! I just thank god I have the videos and future classes for other books! I have worked like a dog on this book, but the videos and Martha's book really changes everything. The advanced workshop kicked my butt in the best way possible and made me really rethink some things and made the work so much better!"

The tour begins December 1st through the 5th so if you'd like to add your blog to the tour, please sign up ASAP. 

We're using the opportunity to spread the word about writing and revising stories and about A Path to Publishing in general. Jill and I will visit all the participating blogs, comment and award prizes. (If you'd like to simply follow along on the tour, I'll list the participating blogs during the tour.)

See you soon!

For help about the Energetic Markers to write toward every week of NaNoWriMo.
The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

For plot prompts to move your writing everyday and reach each major turning point: The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing. To complete write your story in a month, complete 4 prompts everyday. (As one writer proclaims: The PW Book of Prompts is my lighted path…)

For plot help and resources during NaNoWriMo

1)  The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
2)  The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3)  The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.
  ~~~~~~~~
To continue writing and revising (and, lots of writers are finding PlotWriMo the exact right resource to help pre-plot for a powerful first draft. Knowing what to look for in a revision helps create a tighter first draft):
  •  
  • PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month
 ~~ View your story in an entirely new light. Recharge your energy and enthusiasm for your writing. 8 videos (5.5 hours)+ 30 exercises

0 Comments on Weeklong Blog Tour for PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month beginning December 1st as of 11/17/2014 12:33:00 PM
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6. Guest Post: Shelby Bach



I'm excited to welcome middle grade author Shelby Bach to GreenBeanTeenQueen! If the middle grade readers at my library are anything like yours, fairy tales are huge! 




About Shelby: Shelby Bach was born in Houston, Texas and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, but while writing the ever afters, she moved almost as many times as her main character. She came up with the idea for the series right before she left New York City, and she finished the first book, of giants and ice, in Montana—the second, of witches and wind, back in Charlotte. Driving up the West Coast to research the settings for the third book, of sorcery and snow, Shelby fell in love with Portland, Oregon and settled there. She would love to set up a Door Trek system in her apartment to visit her family and friends around the country, but she makes due with much slower and less fictional transportation. These days, while finishing up the fourth and final book, she also works part time for a real-life afterschool program. It is strangely similar to the one where her stories are set—except the students study math instead of fairy tales.   






What Fairy Tales Taught Me About Plot
By Shelby Bach

I love adding new characters, and I especially love giving a side character a strong subplot of their own. Of course, this enthusiasm led to several unruly early drafts of my first novel, Of Giants and Ice, and as an inexperienced novelist, I spent weeks overwhelmed by the number of plot threads I was failing to keep straight and develop effectively. Somewhere around draft number five, I started to use the Rule of Threes to help me structure each of the story arcs. It was a good decision—both for my book and for my sanity.

The Rule of Threes is usually explained as a pattern that occurs three times, which happens a lot in fairy tales. In some, these repetitions occur in just one section: for instance, at the end of “Cinderella,” three people try on the glass slipper the prince is carrying: the two stepsisters and Cinderella. Sometimes, these repetitions make up most of the fairy tale: for example, Jack climbs the Beanstalk three times.

I took a fairy tale course in college that analyzed the Rule of Threes in more detail. (Believe it or not, this was one of the hardest classes I ever took at Vassar. Professor Darlington was a stickler for structure and precision in every paper. My grades suffered, but my writing improved.) First of all, plain repetition gets pretty boring, so our class examined what the three instances actually achieved within the fairy tale: the first one describes the process of actually climbing a beanstalk and sneaking around a giant’s house. The second instance establishes what part of that process is a pattern: Jack climbs the beanstalk again but steals a golden goose from the giant instead those gold coins. (It’s usually the shortest passage.) The third instance, however, breaks with what was established with the first two occurrences and leads to some sort of big change: the giant notices Jack stealing his harp and chases him down the beanstalk. Describing just one trip up the beanstalk would have made a fun story, because the first two instances establishes certain expectations, Jack’s third trip has a bigger impact.

Limiting myself to three occurrences helped me tame the plot threads in Of Giants and Ice. It also forced me to make sure every scene in a certain arc served a purpose. An almost spoiler-free example is the subplot around Rory’s dad. Her parents are divorced, so readers don’t actually see her father in person in Of Giants and Ice. Rory does, however, speak to him on the phone—exactly three times. During the initial call, Rory’s father, a Hollywood director, invites her to a shoot in England during the summer. Rory knows immediately that she doesn’t want to go (he barely pays any attention to her while he’s filming a movie), but afraid of disappointing him, Rory tells him she’ll think about it. Her father doesn’t listen well—he starts telling her all about the actress he wants her to meet when they’re in England. This leads to her mother stepping in and Rory’s parents fighting. The second call takes place a few weeks later. Rory tries to talk to her father about something completely different, but he asks her when her school lets out—he wants to book her flight. She reminds him that she hasn’t made up her mind up and quickly ends the call before her mom can step in again. That’s a tiny step forward—she avoids a fight between her parents, but she still isn’t honest. The third call takes place after Rory has come back from her quest. She discovers from the tabloids that her father has started dating the actress he wanted her to meet in England, and Rory calls him up and tells him that she won’t go on the trip with him. Then she explains exactly how much it upsets her that she had to find out about his new girlfriend from an outside source. Because readers have seen Rory struggle to be honest about her feelings in the previous scenes, her strong stance in the final call has more oomph.


This isn’t much different from most goals in fiction—to show how conflict has changed our characters—but the Rule of Threes was a helpful way to think about it, especially when working with an overwhelming amount of plot threads. As I mentioned earlier, the Rule of Threes was most helpful during the revision process—conscious repetition is easier to develop when you have a whole plot to work with. It’s also easier to recognize where plot threads intersect. In my second novel, Of Witches and Wind, I challenged myself to take several story arcs and see how many third instances I could pack into one scene. It tightened the book’s pacing and gave the ending a way more epic grand finale.

 Find Shelby online:

Blog Tour – Shelby Bach


November 3 – Middle Grade Mafioso
November 4 – From the Mixed-Up Files
November 5 – Log Cabin Library
November 6 – Amanda K. Thompson Blog
November 7 – Novels, News, and Notes
November 8 – Green Bean Teen Queen

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7. Blog Tour Launch & $100 Giveaway: A Year in the Secret Garden by Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters

The Blog Tour has begun!

A Year in the Secret Garden

Just this week our delight was compounded when Valarie announced that the physical version of the book had arrived, just in time for the upcoming launch and blog tour.

A Year in the Secret Garden

This book was a labor of love between two creative people (Valarie and Marilyn) who not only wanted to bring a classic children’s tale to life, but encourage families to step away from the computer and into the garden, craft room and kitchen.

Title: A Year in the Life of the Secret Garden | Author: Valarie Budayr | Illustrator: Marilyn Scott-Waters | Publication Date: November, 2014 | Publisher: Audrey Press | Pages: 144 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 99

Book Description: Award-winning authors Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters have co-created A Year in the Secret Garden to introduce the beloved children’s classic, The Secret Garden to a new generation of families. This guide uses over two hundred full color illustrations and photos to bring the magical story to life, with fascinating historical information, monthly gardening activities, easy-to-make recipes, and step-by-step crafts, designed to enchant readers of all ages. Each month your family will unlock the mysteries of a Secret Garden character, as well as have fun together creating the original crafts and activities based on the book.Over 140 pages, with 200 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. A Year In the Secret Garden is our opportunity to introduce new generations of families to the magic of this classic tale in a modern and innovative way that creates special learning and play times outside in nature. This book encourages families to step away from technology and into the kitchen, garden, reading nook and craft room.

Amazon * Audrey Press * Goodreads

 

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A Year in the Secret Garden provides the perfect companion to the original story.  The book is divided into major sections by months of the year.  For each month, a character from the book (e.g., Mary Lennox, Dickon, Colin) is introduced and their role in the story is described.  Each month also features a number of activities including planting activities, crafts, recipes, children’s games, as well as snippets of information about some of the themes covered in the story (e.g., death in Victorian England, language spoken in Yorkshire), and so much more!’-Renee @Mother/Daughter Book Reviews

In honor of this exciting new release,  there will be a special blog tour that will run from November 1 to 30, 2014. We encourage our readers to stop by and experience the magic of A Year in The Secret Garden through book reviews, author interviews, guest posts and excerpts from this activity-packed book.  The blog tour will include a shared giveaway for a $100 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash prize, open worldwide.

To get a snapshot of A Year in the Secret Garden book month-by-month AND a sneak peek at the blog tour schedule, go HERE.

For a chance to enter to win our Amazon $100 Gift Card, Go HERE

A Year in the Secret Garden Blog Tour Schedule

A Year in the Secret Garden blog tour

EXPLORING SEPTEMBER

November 1

Mother Daughter Book Reviews (Launch)

Coffee Books & Art (Guest Post)

WS Momma Readers Nook (Book Review)

November 2

Cherry Mischievous (Excerpt)

Hope to Read (Excerpt)

November 3

Eloquent Articulation (Book Review)

Enter Here Canada (Excerpt)

 

EXPLORING OCTOBER

November 4

BeachBoundBooks (Excerpt)

Books, Babies and Bows (Book Review)

November 5

Monique’s Musings (Book Review)

November 6

SOS-Supply (Book Review)

 

EXPLORING NOVEMBER

November 7

Randomly Reading (Book Review)

November 8

Adalinc to Life (Book Review)

 

EXPLORING DECEMBER

November 9

100 Pages a Day (Book Review)

November 10

Edventures With Kids (Book Review)

 

EXPLORING JANUARY

November 11

Icefairy’s Treasure Chest (Book Review)

November 12

Girl of 1000 Wonders (Book Review)

 

EXPLORING FEBRUARY

November 13

Seraphina Reads (Guest Post)

November 14

Juggling Act Mama (Book Review)

 

EXPLORING MARCH

November 15

Pragmatic Mom (Author/Illustrator Interview)

Purple Monster Coupons (Book Review)

November 16

Stacking Books (Book Review)

 

EXPLORING APRIL

November 17

Oh My Bookness (Book Review)

November 18

Crystal’s Tiny Treasures (Book Review)

 

EXPLORING MAY

November 19

The Blended Blog (Book Review)

November 20

All Done Monkey (Book Review)

November 21

Geo Librarian (Book Review)

Grandbooking (Author/Illustrator Interview)

 

JUNE

November 22

My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 23

Christy’s Cozy Corners (Book Review)

My Life, Loves and Passions (Book Review)

November 24

Bookaholic Chick (Excerpt)

Hide-N-(Sensory)-Seeking (Book Review)

JULY

November 25

Ninja Librarian (Guest Post)

November 26

Jane Ritz (Book Review)

Rockin’ Book Reviews (Book Review)

November 27

I’d Rather Be Reading At The Beach (Book Review)

 

EXPLORING AUGUST

November 28

Deal Sharing Aunt (Book Review)

November 29

Mommynificent (Book Review)

November 30

This Kid Reviews Books (Book Review)

Java John Z’s (Author/Illustrator Interview)

Visit our A Year in The Secret Garden page to learn more about this one-of-a-kind unique keepsake book for children and families.

PicMonkey Collage

The post Blog Tour Launch & $100 Giveaway: A Year in the Secret Garden by Valarie Budayr and Marilyn Scott-Waters appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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8. Doodles and Drafts – A bewitching encounter with Angela Sunde

Hold on to your broomsticks because today we have someone special visiting. She’s a bit of a drafter and doodler, a fellow resident of the magical Gold Coast and a wickedly wonderful conjurer of stories. Snap Magic is her latest light-hearted, fairy tale inspired fantasy novel about friendship and young girls approaching the precipitous edge […]

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9. Author Guest Post: Julie Sternberg PLUS GIVEAWAY

Please welcome author Julie Sternberg to the blog! Julie writes very funny books for middle grade readers and they include fantastic illustrations. I asked Julie to talk about what it's like working with an illustrator with her books since her books are such a big combination of pictures and text.
Credit:Meredith Zinner

I am embarrassed to admit this, but here goes:  I did not instantly love the illustrations for my first book, LIKE PICKLE JUICE ON A COOKIE. 

I love them wholeheartedly now. I can’t imagine better ones.  And a framed copy of this one is the first thing I see when I walk into my apartment. It makes me very happy:


But, in the beginning, I found the illustrations jarring, for this reason: Although the PICKLE JUICE story is fiction, it is based on a moment in my life; and I had a clear picture in my head of most of the characters. The book’s immensely talented illustrator, Matthew Cordell, has never met me (authors and illustrators don’t typically meet) or the people I had in mind when I wrote the story. The illustrations show his vision of the characters, not mine. That can be hard, especially for a first-time author. 
But I adjusted! Matt made it easy for me, with pictures like these:  

I skipped the startled phase with Johanna Wright’s illustrations for FRIENDSHIP OVER, the first book in THE TOP-SECRET DIARY OF CELIE VALENTINE series. I’d gone through the process before, and the story and characters are farther removed from my life. So it was easier to simply enjoy Johanna’s vision.  
Our process for the FRIENDSHIP OVER illustrations was particularly fun for me, too. Usually authors are urged to include very few, if any, art notes for the illustrator. The general rule is that an art note is only appropriate if the text requires a particular image—and one that isn’t clear from the text itself. (For example, the author might want to make a joke that the text sets up and the illustration finishes. In that case, an art note can set out the punchline for the illustrator.) 
I can’t remember including a single art note for Matt. But, in FRIENDSHIP OVER, Celie is supposed to be drawing the pictures in her diary. They are very much a product of her thinking. So I was able to include many art notes, saying, essentially, this is what Celie wants to sketch here. It was astonishing how well Johanna translated those notes into pictures that absolutely could have been drawn by Celie herself. 
Just as one example:  The art note said, “insert dispirited doodle by Celie, maybe of a very small Celie on very large sofa,”and Johanna drew:

I want to emphasize that I have NO visual artistic ability. I struggle with bubble letters (particularly S and N). Yet all of my stories have been enhanced by remarkable art. I feel very, very lucky. 

Follow Julie's blog tour for Friendship Over:
Mon, Sept 29
Mother Daughter Book Club
Tues, Sept 30
5 Minutes for Mom
Wed, Oct 1
Sharpread
Thurs, Oct 2
KidLit Frenzy
Fri, Oct 3
The Hiding Spot
Sat, Oct 4
Booking Mama
Mon, Oct 6
Ms. Yingling Reads
Tues, Oct 7
GreenBeanTeenQueen
Wed, Oct 8
Great Kid Books
Thurs, Oct 9
Teach Mentor Texts
Fri, Oct 10
Unleashing Readers
Sat, Oct 11
Bermuda Onion

Want to win a copy of Friendship Over? Leave a comment below!

One entry per person, contest ends October 14, ages 13+, US address only, contest thanks to Blue Slip Media


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10. Blog Tour: Can I Come Too by Brian Patten, illustrated by Nicola Bayley


About the Book: A young mouse sets out on a grand adventure to discover the biggest animal in the world and makes new friends along the way.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Can I Come Too is a sweet and charming cumulative picture book perfect for preschoolers. The little mouse wants to discover the biggest animal in the world and spends the day meeting new animals and discovering bigger and bigger animals along the way.

The illustrations are gorgeous and are sure to inspire readers to pour over the pages and take in all the details. The text is simple enough for young readers but engaging enough for older readers to join in.


I love how the author deftly includes some science into the text. What animal is the biggest animal in the world? What animal will be next-it has to be larger than the animal we just met. It's a great way to get kids thinking about animals and their size. Pair this one with Steve Jenkins Actual Size for a fun filled animal science storytime! 

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by publisher for review

Be sure to follow the tour: 


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11. Blog Tour: The Rise of Aurora West and EXLUSIVE ART by David Rubin




About the Book: Monsters are plaguing Arcopolis and children are not safe. Haggard West is the hero that is trying to take them down and he has an apprentice: his daughter Aurora West. Aurora discovers that the monsters may have something to do with the mystery behind her mother's death and if she can unlock her childhood memories and remember her imaginary friend, she might be able to piece it all together. All she has to do is survive Sadisto and his murderous gang long enough to uncover the past.

GreenBeanTeenQueen: The Rise of Aurora West is set in the same world as Battling Boy but is a prequel to that graphic novel and stands on its own. No prior knowledge or readership of Battling Boy is required, but I'm sure readers will want to pick up Battling Boy after finishing this one! The story is fast paced and is a bit dark with an everyday hero out to fight monsters in a dystopian future.

The Rise of Aurora West is a graphic novel with lots of adventure, mystery, family drama and secrets, an awesome hero on the rise and a fantastic father/daughter relationship. Add in some pretty creepy monsters, a city with no hope, and a a bit of archaeology and you've got one action packed story that is easy to get lost in. This is part one of a two volume series and I can't wait to get my hands on the next part of Aurora's story! If you have graphic novel fans who enjoy adventure and hero stories, be sure to add this one to your shelves.

Check out this exclusive art from David Rubin featuring one of those creepy monsters-seriously, I would not want to run into this guy!



 Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC sent by publisher for review

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12. the inside scoop on Tour de Blog—via Bill Wolfe and Caroline Leavitt and over to Kelly Simmons

Well, here we go. Mr. Bill Wolfe, that cool dude who reads only women's fiction and lives to tell the tale on Read Her Like an Open Book, tagged me (oh, the secrets, the secrets) on the My Writing Process Tour Blog. Bill, who keeps us guest bloggers honest, reviews incredibly interesting books, teaches for a living, and opines, but always kindly, is a tough act to follow. Equally tough is his tagger, Caroline Leavitt, whose inspirational story and stories (and blog) have been integral to the lay of my land for years.

(I've previously written about Bill here and Caroline here and many elsewheres.)

And now, here I stand, with questions to answer, pondering my capability.

I begin:

1. What are you working on? 
I am currently doing a final round of edits to a young adult novel that will launch from Chronicle Books in 2016. When that is done later this weekend, I'll return to two new projects—an adult novel and a book of nonfiction. Both are in the early 4,000-word stage, so inchoate, strange, and internal that I suspect I won't be able to describe them even after (if) they are done. They are projects designed to keep my mind whole, more than anything else, or as whole as this cracked vessel will ever get. In between, when feigning greater sanity, I'm writing white papers and news stories for clients and reviews and essays for the Chicago Tribune and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Oh, and a lot of student recommendation letters.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I always think this is a question best left to the critics—though I hate to presume that any critic anywhere will have time for such a Beth Kephart conundrum. I guess the answer, for me, has something to do with that old cliche of staying true to myself (hey, if Tim Gunn can say it on national TV, I can say it in Beth land). I'm not interested in bending my work to meet the expectations of our time (whatever they are) or to fall in line with trends. I write what is urgent, what intrigues me. I write to find out what might happen next, a small and increasingly daring enterprise.

3. Why do you write what you do?
Because I can't help it. Because I get obsessed with some historical event (the Berlin wall, the Spanish Civil War, Florence after the flood), some force of nature, some sound in my head, something someone said, some trouble. Because the only excuse I have to think about it longer is to begin to write a book. Otherwise, in my dim and insufficiently capacious brain, all is fleeting. And because I think that what we write has to matter in a broader way. We live in perilous times. I want to understand them. I want my stories and my work to lead others down inquiring paths. I also want my readers to think about language in new ways, and so I write what I hear in my twisted head.

4. How does your writing process work?
It rarely does work. Most of the time I'm doing my day job. But when I find patches of time I hunch my shoulders, draw out a pen (literally), sit on the couch where the depressed cushion suggests I should each less chocolate, and get going. When I'm writing I am living inside a fortress of books and newspapers (on some days the research is my favorite part). When I'm writing there's a happy buzz inside my head, except when the writing isn't working, which is an astonishingly large chunk of the time. Boy, I can write some really bad stuff. Boy, I can go off on tangents. But, hey. Nobody sees that, at least in the beginning. Nobody but me and my chocolate bars.

For the next stop on the blog tour, I nominate Kelly Simmons,who is not just a terrific, funny, compassionate, hardworking writer, but a starred writer, too, and a dear friend. (Kelly also knows where the best V-necked turquoise T-shirts live in the local shop, and she will join you in the consumption of six-ounce shrimp at the drop of a dime; she also forgives (I think) your poorly typed text messages; finally, I wish to add that, when you are walking together down Sugartown Road, the boys in the cars all stop for her, the Kelly Phenom.) Kelly's third novel (for adults, people!), One More Day, was PW announced days ago. It will be published by Sourcebooks next fall. I've read a few pages here and there. Ladies and gents, get ready for Wow.



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13. Haze (Blog Tour)

Haze

Written by: Paula Weston

Published by: Tundra Books

Published on: September 9, 2014

Ages: New Adult



Provided by the publisher for review. All opinions are my own. 







Gaby and Rafa are back!!! Last year I fell in love with the Rephaim and Pan Beach residents introduced in Paula Weston's Shadows.  That tale was packed with action and building a fascinating world where the children of fallen angels fight to keep humans safe from demons. The best thing about the book is it was only the first. Now Haze is here to continue this story.

Gaby's journey to unravel the web of deceit and false memories she has fallen into continues. The last memory she has of her brother Jude was of him dying in a car crash. But if the car crash wasn't real for her, maybe it wasn't for him either. In that case, where is her twin??

Luckily, Gaby has the mysterious and attractive Rafa to help her follow Jude's trail and introduce her to the other Rephaim, which might be the most difficult part- she steps right into a world fraught with tension and division and she doesn't know who is her friend and who is her enemy from her past life. How do you work beside others to kill demons when you can't even trust them?

Gaby is lucky that she has her best friend from Pan Beach, Maggie, and she knows Maggie is true. Sadly, she knows Maggie has also been dragged into this demon war mess, and has to make sure Maggie is protected too.

Gaby is such a great central character. Her disconnect between her current self and what people tell her about her past self, and especially her past morals, makes her vulnerable despite her physical strength, and without ever veering into whiny. Will she ever develop back into the Gabe who dated the arrogant Daniel? I hope not, I like to see her with Rafa, despite the fact that Rafa won't tell Gaby what was up with them before she landed in Pan Beach.


One of the fun things the fabulous author, Paula Weston, did for the bloggers on the tour was to tell us which character matched our personality the most! I was afraid I would end up being Daniel, we both have a tendency to know what is best for everyone who is not ourselves. But I was so happy to find out that I am most like Micah!


The easy going guitar playing half-angel was Gabe's best friend in the Sanctuary. He, Jude, Rafa, and Gabe were inseparable before Jude and Gabe disappeared. When Gaby comes back he is quick to reacquaint her with the other Rephaim, and tries to play peacemaker between the Sanctuary Rephaim and Rebel Rephaim. Micah is a stand-up guy and I hope to see more of him in Shimmer and Burn.

This book ends on a cliffhanger, and I cannot wait to see how it is resolved. Shimmer comes out next autumn and I hope the time passes quickly before I am back in Gaby's world.

Visit the other stops on the Haze tour today!

Summer at MissFictional’s World of YA Books
Jillian at Centre of the Universe
Crystal at WinterHaven Books
Lisa at Turning Pages


Don't forget to check out the home of the Blog Tour at Tundra Press to see what other fabulous places Haze is visiting this week, where there will be giveaways, interviews, and more!

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14. Blog Tour: Pig and Small by Alex Latimer

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About the Book: Pig and Bug want to be friends, but their size difference is causing them trouble. Bug is too small to play chess and Pig is too big for Bug's presents. Can they find anything that they can do together?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Pig and Small is an adorable picture book about friendship. Pig and Bug work hard to be friends, but it's not always easy because of their size. But they find things they have in common and it makes their friendship stronger. It's a great story about working at friendship and finding things to do together as friends.

The illustrations add to the detail and humor-Bug sweating and pushing hard on a large chess piece, Pig chomping on a small cake in one bite. The illustrations add more for kids to talk about and discuss. The message that friendship doesn't always come easily is thoughtful and portrayed in a sweet and humorous way.

Pig and Small could also be a great addition to preschool storytimes and pair well with other seemingly mismatched friend stories.

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by publisher

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15. Evil Librarian Blog Tour: Michelle Knudsen Guest Post

Please welcome Michelle Knudsen to GreenBeanTeenQueen! She's sharing a playlist of her favorite musical theater songs in honor of her latest book, Evil Librarian.

About the Book: (from Goodreads): #EvilLibrarian He’s young. He’s hot. He’s also evil. He’s . . . the librarian.

When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety)

Like Cyn, the main character in Evil Librarian, I love musical theater. In college, a bunch of my theater friends and I lived on the far edge of campus from where rehearsals usually were, and we got into the habit of listening to musical theater mix tapes during the drives there and back. I would often listen to my favorite songs from shows and sing along in the car when alone, too, but it was even more fun to do it with a few like-minded friends who could all sing different characters in the multi-part numbers. In honor of the Evil Librarian blog tour, I thought I’d put together a little playlist of some of my favorite musical theater songs — the ones that would definitely make it onto a playlist if I were making a new one today. These are in no particular order — it’s just a list, not a ranking. :)

1. “Quartet (A Model of Decorum and Tranquility” from Chess (U.S. version)
Chess is one of my all-time favorite musicals to listen to (both the Broadway and London versions, which are very different from each other) although I’ve never yet seen it performed on stage.

2. “I Heard Someone Crying” from The Secret Garden
This is one we used to sing together in the car on the way to rehearsal. I’ve never seen this one live either, although (of course) I’ve read the book it’s based on.

3. “Potiphar” from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
They did this one my freshman year of high school, and it was a lot of fun to watch and listen to. I still really love all the music, but this is one of the songs I most often find randomly popping into my head.

4. “Belle” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
I’d go with the movie soundtrack version on this one. Does that still count? I saw the movie in the theater 10 times when it first came out. And I still love to sing this one in the car. And outside the car. I still know every word by heart.

5. “Any Moment: Moments in the Woods” from Into the Woods
It was hard deciding between this one and “On the Steps of the Palace.” Those are my two favorite songs to sing from this show. I saw the Public Theater “Sondheim in the Park” production in 2012 which was amazing (with the same two best friends mentioned in #7 below).

6. “One Day More” from Les Misérables
One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals of all time. I think I picked this one for this list over “Stars” (another of my favorites) because it’s got everyone in it, and I love big ensemble numbers so much.

7. “The Devil You Know” from Side Show
I first encountered Side Show at Broadway on Broadway in NYC with two of my best friends (the two friends Evil Librarian is dedicated to, actually) and I fell in love with it at once. I didn’t get to see it on Broadway before it closed, so I’m super excited about the revival opening this fall!

8. “Heaven on Their Minds” from Jesus Christ Superstar
I love to sing this one, but never where anyone can hear me. I know I can’t really sing it. I’m sure it sounds ridiculous and horrible when I try. But I love to anyway.

9. “Skid Row (Downtown)” from Little Shop of Horrors
We did this one in high school. It’s really not a good show for the chorus, at least in terms of stage time — except for a few small character parts, most of the chorus only got to sing in the opening and the finale. But it’s a fabulous show to watch/listen to. (I love the movie version, too, which is not always the case.)

10. “A Little Priest” from Sweeney Todd
I couldn’t end this list without including something from Sweeney Todd, which is the show Cyn and her classmates are doing in the book. One of my all-time favorites. If you’ve never seen it, buy or borrow a copy of the 1982 recording of the Angela Lansbury/George Hearn performance and watch! I love this song because it’s such a great example of the blending of the darkness and humor and madness and brilliance that runs through the entire show.

Follow the tour:
WhoRuBlog
9/9/2014
Elizabeth O. Dulemba
9/13/2014
Random Chalk Talk
9/10/2014
Books 4 Your Kids
9/11/2014
Green Bean Teen Queen
9/12/2014
Katie's Book Blog
9/15/2014
Word Spelunking
9/16/2-14
Book Chic Club
9/17/2014

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16. Blog Tour: Visions of the Future: Writers Talk About Their Apocalypses

I'm very excited to host the next stop in the Visions of the Future Tour from MacTeens. Emmy Layborne is talking about her post-apocalyptic world in her series Monument 14.




Ah! Post-apocalyptic visions of mass destruction - you are so varied, so specific and so horrible! It’s a pleasure to be here today talking about my own personal brand of ruination.

In the Monument 14 trilogy, an escalating series of environmental catastrophes results in a breach of chemical weapon storage facilities at NORAD. 

Two chemical weapons are released. One is a magnetized blackout cloud, designed to hover above the detonation site and jam all radio, television and cell signals. The other is a compound called MORS, which divides the population based on blood type, turning people with Type AB blood into paranoid freaks, people with A blood blister up and die almost immediately. Type O people become deranged, consumed with bloodlust, driven to slaughter indiscriminately. The fourth blood type, B, shows no outward symptoms. They’ve been made sterile and infertile, but otherwise they’re fine - and must witness the chaos and bloodshed around them.

Fourteen kids ranging in age from 5 to 18 wind up stranded together in the relative safety of an empty super store. Inside, they must band together to form a new society in order to survive the threats of their new world.

Once I finished Monument 14, I took a moment to ask myself: What is wrong with you, Emmy?
Why did you feel the need to cast the world into such darkness? Why did you have a mega-tsunami wipe out the eastern seaboard? (That happened in the chain of catastrophes I mentioned before.) Why did you set the epicenter of all this misery in Monument, Colorado - where your own mother-in-law lives?! 
Okay, so I can totally answer the first one. It had nothing to do with destroying my MIL’s hometown, I promise. I simply wanted a small town in Colorado, and I was familiar with Monument and knew I’d be visiting Monument 2-3 times a year to do additional research. I swear!

But why did I feel the need to create such a dark world? And why did my vision of the future have such a high body-count? One answer is that I created a dark world so that the inner light of my characters could shine through. There’s truth in it, but that seems a little easy, doesn’t it? 

Did I do it because I was following the trends? God, no. If I’d been following the trends I would have made the central character a girl and put her smack dab in the middle of a Niko/Jake love triangle!

I think my impulse to destroy the world comes from a sub-conscious recognition of a true need that young adults have. I think post-apocalyptic and dystopian YA literature originates from this: Teenagers need to destroy the world of their parents so that they can create their own, new worlds. 

And so, in the twisted, terrifying world of Monument, CO in the year 2024, I forced the characters to create a new social construct and to find out who they are - in a new (okay, terribly dark and violent) world. 
So there you have my rumination on the post-apocalyptic world I created in the Monument 14 trilogy. Hey, I’d love for you to read the series and tell me why you think I put the kids in such terrible danger.

Thanks again for having me here! If you’d like, follow me on on InstagramTwitter or like my author page over at Facebook. And over at www.emmylaybourne.com you’ll find giveaways and the latest news on the “Monument 14” movie deal. 


Be sure to follow the tour:
Monday: Andrew Smith at Cuddlebuggery 
Tuesday: Caragh O'Brien at Finding Wonderland
Wednesday: Farel Dalrymple at The Book Wars
Thursday: Here!
Friday: Carrie Ryan at Forever YA

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17. Blog Tour: Stanley's Garage by William Bee

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About the Book: It's another busy day for Stanley! His friends need help fixing their cars and Stanley and his garage is there to rescue them.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Stanley's adventure in his garage is perfect for transportation loving toddlers. William Bee's illustrations are bright and colorful. The color scheme and clear illustration style make this one that would work great in a group setting for storytime as well as one on one.

Stanley's friends all drive different colored cars, so there's a subtle inclusion of color introduction as well as a simplified insight into what cars need to run. Animals need help fixing a flat tire or getting gas and Stanley helps another friend whose car breaks down and needs a tow. The text is simple but offers a lot of great vocabulary (overheating, radiator, oil) which is a fantastic way to give young readers a look into how cars work.

The Stanley books follow the same format-Stanley helps his friends and then heads home for supper, a bath, and bed after a busy day. The repeating format, fun illustrations, and engaging text make this series stand out as a great toddler addition. A sure hit with young readers-be prepared to read about Stanley's adventures frequently!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from galley sent by publisher

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18. Darlene Beck-Jacobson – Book Give-a-Way

darlenepicnewDarlene’s Debut Historical Novel WHEELS OF CHANGE launches on September 22nd. I am only too glad to be part of Darlene’s Blog Tour.

Darlene gave me an advanced copy and I loved the book. It is a middle grade book, so YA readers don’t expect to find steamy and edgy. What you do find is a well-written book that everyone will enjoy. I like that she based it on some real life events that happened in her Grandmother’s life.

We are very lucky. Darlene has agreed to give one lucky visitor a copy of her book. All you have to do is leave a comment below to have a chance to win. Want to up your chance? Then twitter about it, post on facebook, or another social media site, and let me know. I will add your name on a piece of paper for each thing you do. On September 18th, I will announce the winner and have Darlene mail out your copy. Please note: Darlene will pay for US shipping and any other reasonable shipping, but she may have to refuse shipping to every country around the world.

Three Fun Facts About Darlene:

  1. Even though I can’t swim, I snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia thanks to a life jacket and swim ring. It was magnificent…and scary. Without the swim ring there was NOTHING to hold onto.
  2. I like trying new food and have enjoyed the following:
  • Frog legs (tastes like chicken wings) and Escargo (garlicky and melts in the mouth) in Paris.
  • Ostrich (like filet mignon) in Lambertville, NJ
  • Crocodile (chewy and fishy, like clams) and Kangaroo (like ground beef only better) Both in Australia
  • Buffalo (leaner and more tender than beef) in Western Canada
  • Passion Fruit (sweet and delicious) in Hawaii
  • Conch (heavenly) Florida keys
  • Panga Fish (BEST fish I’ve ever eaten, bar none) in Vollendam, Netherlands

Food you couldn’t pay me to eat again: Poi (wallpaper paste tastes better) and Vegemite (way too salty)

  1. I love learning new things and have taken classes in:
  • Flint napping
  • Navaho rug weaving
  • Origami
  • Crazy quilting
  • Pisanki (Polish egg decorating)

Three Fun Facts About Darlene’s Grandmother – the real Emily Soper:

  1. She was a debutante in Washington DC Society and travelled in the same social circles as Alice Roosevelt.
  2. She lost her standing in society when she married my grandfather for love instead marrying for money and status.
  3. She was 4 feet 11 inches tall.

Filed under: Author, Book Tour Tagged: Blog Tour, book give-a-way, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Wheels of Change

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19. Interview: Jen Wang

If you like multiplayer RPGs and graphic novels, then you should pick up IN REAL LIFE by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang when it hits the shelves on October 14th. This full-color graphic novel, which has a front-cover blurb o' praise from Felicia Day of Geek & Sundry, is based on Cory's short story. Thanks to Gina at First Second Books, I had the opportunity to read the book early and then virtually meet writer-illustrator Jen Wang. Let's dive right into our interview:

Creative types the world over have had to take day jobs to pay the bills, and many have stories about their worst day job - but let's stay positive here and ask, what has been your favorite day job?

My favorite day job was working the front desk at a hostel in San Francisco, sometime after college. Every day was a different set of people and it was fantastic for observation. Being the host can be challenging but you also got to talk to a lot of cool people who want to know all about your city. I was actually inking KOKO BE GOOD at the time and would try to do a page or so during the slow hours of my shift. There weren’t that many!

What are your favorite mediums and tools of the trade?



I’m pretty standard when it comes to tools. I draw comics with a mechanical pencil and ink with a #2 Raphael 8404 brush. I also have an assortment of Pentel brush pens at various stages of dryness that I like to play around with. I held off for the longest time but I’m ready to get a Cintiq. I think that’s the next step for me!

KOKO BE GOOD, your first full-color full-length graphic novel published by First Second Books, is set in San Francisco, your old stomping ground. What are/were your favorite San Francisco haunts?

I haven’t lived in San Francisco for a while so things have probably changed a lot, but I still love the Castro Theater. They have great programming and nothing is better than that pre-show organ player.

Any cool writing courses, groups, or spots you'd recommend to aspiring authors and artists in the Bay Area?



Unfortunately I didn’t take advantage of many art and writing resources in the Bay Area when I was there, but there’s always volunteering for 826 Valencia, which does great writing workshops for students. There’s also events like Litquake and SF ZineFest that can get you in touch with other creative members of the community. A met a ton of peers just going to A.P.E. (Alternative Press Expo) every year!

What inspired KOKO BE GOOD?

KOKO BE GOOD started with the main character in a short comic I drew my second year of college. Like most people that age I was going through a lot of big changes in my life and she encapsulated all those feelings I couldn’t quite articulate and gain any sort of perspective on. After college I wanted to expand on the story and close out that period of my life with a big project and KOKO the graphic novel was born.

How was it writing a full-length book versus single comics and anthology contributions?

The main difference between the full-length book and the short comic was it took a super long time! Drawing the short comic took maybe less than a week but the book took more than a year to complete.



IN REAL LIFE was based on a short story by Cory Doctorow. Tell us about the journey from short story to graphic novel.

After KOKO I was struggling with my follow up project and First Second approached me about doing the adaptation for ANDA’S GAME, Cory’s short story. I’d never talked to Cory before but he had previously written a great review of KOKO for Boing Boing and was looking forward to working with me and that was super exciting.

Was this your first adaptation based on someone else's story?

Yes! I’d never adapted anything before and part of the appeal was First Second allowed me a lot of flexibility in translating the story to comics. Cory’s prose is very dialogue driven, which would’ve been a little visually static, so I was able to move it in a more action-driven direction. It allowed me to use my skills as a writer too, which made the overall experience more fun for me.



Describe the collaboration process - Did you and Cory review the original short story together, decide what would be changed and what had to be kept, and then you put pen to paper following an agreed-upon beat sheet or storyboard, or did you launch right in and get notes as you went?

I wrote a couple different drafts of the script, and Cory would go over each one and make notes and suggestions. Interestingly the first draft was a very literal translation of ANDA’S GAME, and it was clear I wasn’t very good at faking a Cory voice. The more I followed my gut instincts and wrote as myself the more natural the story became. The final story is very different from the original but it is a combination of my voice and Cory’s vision.



I love the shift in the colour palette between the story's real world and the gaming world. Which colour scheme did you decide on first? Which world was "easier" to create and plot?



The real life material came more naturally, so it was easier to draw as well. I liked drawing real life Anda with her fuller figure and messy hair. For the color palettes, I put a more monochromatic filter over the real life stuff and in the gaming world I just added more textures and didn’t skimp on the color!

Which parts of Anda's story resonate with you?



On a very basic level I indentified with Anda as a teenager who spent all her time afterschool holed up in her room talking to internet friends. I started meeting other cartoonists online at her age and having a place where I could meet peers and indulge in my interests really changed my life. But also Anda is naïve and learning a lot about how the world works. She doesn’t have a lot of life experience, she’s just reading about everything on the internet and thinks she understands it all when she doesn’t. The idea of being well-intentioned but still making mistakes and learning from that is something that really resonates with me.

Are you a gamer?

I’m not that much of a gamer, but I like a lot of indie games.

What games do you play and recommend?

More recent ones I’ve played that I’ve liked are Gone Home, Analogue: A Hate Story, and Monument Valley. There’re also a bunch of cool interactive fiction games out there like the Twine game Howling Dogs by Porpentine. Of course I also play a lot of games on my phone. IN REAL LIFE would not have happened without a lot of Tetris and Plants Vs. Zombies.

I love Tetris. 

What artists -- musicians, actors, painters, authors -- have inspired your personal style?

My drawing style came out of reading lots of manga and watching Disney cartoons as a kid. The weirdest thing about that is I don’t really watch Disney movies or read manga anymore but those roots are so strong they’ve stuck.

Who would you love to collaborate with, if such things were possible?



I think it would be super fun to collaborate with a game designer! Indie games and comics have a lot in common and they’re both exploring new and exciting ways to tell stories. Doing it on my own seems daunting, but working with someone would be so cool!

You hear that, game designers? Contact Jen! :)

Do you have any beta readers who read your early drafts?

I don’t share early drafts with peers because I don’t want too many opinions muddling my focus, but I do share them with my boyfriend, Jake. He’s the perfect sounding board because we have different individual tastes but we tend to agree on what does or doesn’t work. It’s a good way to have perspective on what I’m doing.

Any words of encouragement for female artists and/or gamers who love being creative but are hesitant to realize their potential, who think of their art as a hobby but ought to really turn it into a career?

I can’t really speak for games but the advice I’d give to female artists is, just do it! There’s no reason not to! Indie comics are a very robust and female-friendly community. Put your work online, go to conventions, meet people online, and I promise you’ll find lots of people who will support your creativity. Everyone just wants to read more cool comics!

Visit Jen at http://jenwang.net

Get a sneak peek at IN REAL LIFE at firstsecondbooks.com!

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20. Meet My Character Blog Tour

Last week my friend and critique partner Kimberley Troutte tagged me as part of a Meet My Character Blog Tour. She posted about the characters from her newly released novel, God Whisperer. I can remember reading a draft of this story years ago, so it was incredibly exciting to see it released to the world […]

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21. Wild Things Blog Tour Guest Post


I knew from the first page of Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature that I was going to love this book. If you work in the world of children's and teen lit, you've most likely heard from others that they think children's lit is cute, sweet, and simple. But Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter D. Sieruta are out to prove everyone wrong. They've uncovered some wild acts of mischief in children's literature and it's an absolute blast to join them on the ride. Want an example of some fun they discovered? Check out this crazy tidbit from Betsy and Jules:

Courtney Love’s Unlikely Connection to the Newbery Award Winning Book The Slave Dancer

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to remember how I first heard about this story.  Odds are SLJ reporter Rocco Staino is the one to credit.  You see, when Jules Danielson, Peter Sieruta, and I first started working on our book Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, we wanted to fill it to overflowing with some of the funniest, kookiest, craziest children’s book stories out there.  Everything from Robert McCloskey’s drunk ducklings to the true fate of Misty of Chincoteague.  And as we were writing the book we kept our eyes peeled for any new items that might fit the bill.  Well lo and behold in 2011 the article Paula Fox on a Roll came out.  On the surface it was a fairly innocuous piece about how the Newbery Award winning author was being inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame.  Ho hum.  Nothing much to catch the eye . . . until you get to the part near the bottom where Ms. Fox has this to say about, of all people, the singer Courtney Love.  Quote: “She is crazy, and to use a modern term, a psychopath.”  And why, precisely, would Ms. Fox weigh in on the woman who coined the phrase “Kinderwhore”?  Because it’s her own granddaughter.

Hubba wha?

There’s nothing better than discovering that two seemingly unrelated beings, famous in their own right, have a connection.  In the course of writing this book we had to ultimately cut out stories that talked about how Roald Dahl claimed that Beatrix Potter yelled at him as a child.  We eschewed mentioning that the great Arthur Ransome, author of the British-beloved novel Swallows and Amazons, married Trotsky’s daughter.  But you WILL find stories about how Roald Dahl got to know Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce veeeeeeeery well.  And, you’ll follow our little research path to get to know how precisely a writer like Paula Fox becomes a grandmother to a Courtney Love.

Because to be perfectly honest with you, when it comes to the wide and wonderful world of children’s literature, nothing should surprise you.  There are some pretty wild people out there.

Check out more wild and unexpected stories from Wild Things on the Wild Things tour and follow Betsy and Jules around the blogosphere for more intriguing stories. And be sure to get your hands on a copy of Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature-you don't want to  miss out on these unexpected and surprising stories!

August 5: 100 Scope Notes
August 6: There's A Book
August 8: Guys Lit Wire
Week of August 11: Book Riot
August 14: Wendy on the Web
August 20: The Book Nest


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22. Interview: Julie Danielson and Betsy Bird

If you appreciate children's literature and want to know the stories behind your favorite stories, pick up WILD THINGS! written by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and the late Peter D. Sieruta. Packed from cover-to-cover with funny stories and little known facts about famous authors, secret feuds, inspired illustrations, and classic characters, this is a great resource for readers and writers alike. The authors - all three proud bibliophiles and bloggers - clearly had fun putting this book together.

Little Willow: This book is filled with anecdotes. Is anyone in your family a master of tall tales?

Betsy: In my family we've all had a predilection towards storytelling, but then I went and married a clear cut storyteller as well. Now I'm so steeped in them that it's only natural that a book like this would be the result. Here in New York City a children's literature gathering often involves members of the old guard (people who've been working in the field for decades) so you get all kinds of fascinating stories. Seems only natural that they should have ended up in a book at some point. As for me, I actually prefer to hear anecdotes to telling them, but some of them are just too good NOT to tell.

Jules: My family isn't necessarily filled with storytellers, but I'm fascinated by storytelling. In fact, I once took a grad course on the very subject, and I loved every second of it. For my final course project, I memorized every word of Rudyard Kipling's "The Elephant's Child." That is a wonderful story to tell. I no longer have it memorized word-for-word, but it'd probably not be that challenging to re-learn, since it's probably still hiding in the cobwebbed corners of my brain. "In the High and Far-Off Times the Elephant, O Best Beloved, had no trunk...." (I love that singular beginning.)

Little Willow: That's impressive. Did any of the real-life stories change how you viewed a particular author or book?

Betsy: Well, I don't think I'll ever look at The Cricket in Times Square the same way again. That's all I'll say.

Jules: There's a very tender story about James Marshall and his mother, a story that didn't make it into our book. We did, however, share it at the site, where we are sharing stories cut from our manuscript. I'm a big Marshall fan, but this made me want to learn even more about him.

Little Willow: How did the three of you come together to write this book? Who had the first inkling that you should and would write a book together?

Betsy: That was me. I had this notion that there were some pretty amazing bloggers out there and that their sites would naturally adapt into a book format pretty well. Ironically, of the three blogs that came together here (A Fuse #8 Production, Collecting Children's Books, and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast) mine is probably the least book-worthy. But I've an eye for talent and these guys were talented. So I reached out to them and asked if they'd be keen to work together on something. As luck would have it, they were!

Little Willow: Describe the writing process. How did you divvy up tasks between the three of you?

Betsy: First we decided which chapters should be in the book. Then we pooled all the stories we wanted to tell. Once each story was slotted into the right chapter we assigned chapters. There was a lot of swapping of stories between chapters and a lot of rewriting and editing of one another. That may account for the single "voice" found in the book.

Jules: Yep, we each worked on assigned chapters and then passed them around. We made suggestions for editing, adding, deleting, you-name-it. At one point, Peter and I were working on the same chapter and didn't even realize it. So, we eventually merged what we'd written. Whew. That worked out well!

Little Willow: What's your favorite part about collaborations? What does working with others bring out of you?

Betsy: For me, it makes me more confident about the final product. When I write something entirely on my own I may love it but there will always be this little voice in the back of my head that says I could have done more. When I work with other people who are as smart as Peter and Jules, that little voice disappears. I can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that no matter how much I screw up, they'll be there to point me in the right direction. It's an enormous relief, I can tell you.

Jules: I learned so much more about writing, I think, just by watching Betsy and Peter do their thing. And when someone edits your work, you learn TONS. I feel like if I'm a better writer at the close of this project, it's thanks to them. I love collaborating. I mean, no one likes, say, those grad school projects where you're stuck with people who don't pull their own weight OR you're assigned to a topic you hate, but if I dig my partners-in-crime and I love the subject, I'd much rather work in a group.

Little Willow: As a kid, did you have any teachers, librarians, or booksellers that you went to regularly to get (and give) book recommendations?

Betsy: Nope. And what's more, I couldn't tell you single one of their names. That said, my mom worked in an independent bookstore in Kalamazoo, Michigan and she was always suggesting books or handing books to me. My Aunt Judy was the same, so that's where I found the bulk of my recommended literature.

Jules: I didn't read a TON when I was a kid, which is why I'm trying to get caught up now! I did have a high school English lit and drama teacher who really got me fired up about reading, and I'm still friends with her. She's one of those amazing teachers you'd like to clone.

Little Willow: What aspects of blogging do you find the most enjoyable?

Betsy: I think it's a combination of the pleasure of the regularity (I am required to blog four times a week on my site), the fact that I can highlight books, people, or events that may not be getting a lot of publicity (I always alternate big publishers with little publishers in my reviews), and the different ways in which I can make my opinions known.

Jules: Hands down, I love the community. I love getting to know those folks who are as passionate about children's lit as I am. It's even better when you get to meet them in person.

Little Willow: How has blogging has changed how you read and recommend books, and how you interact with readers and authors?

Betsy: Since I work for New York Public Library and blog for School Library Journal I see a LOT of books in a given year, but there's always this sense that I'm not seeing ALL the books. And boy howdy do I want to see absolutely everything. So blogging, for me, is a way of filling in the gaps. It also allows me to recommend sites to friends who are looking to specialize in certain areas.

Jules: Well, before blogging I rarely interacted with authors and illustrators, but since I do a lot of interviews, I talk to many of them now on a pretty regular basis. As for how blogging has changed my reading habits, I tend to have less time for novels (though I still read them as much as I can), since I'm blogging about picture books and illustration. But it's worth it. I love writing about picture books and art.

Little Willow: What books did you love as a child that you still love just as much today?

Betsy: I was recently weeding my bookshelves, so this question was already in my mind. On my part, I think I'll always love Edward Eager, E. Nesbit, Tasha Tudor's A Time to Keep, various Steven Kellogg titles, The Secret Garden, The Girl With the Silver Eyes, and any number of Apple paperbacks found via the Scholastic Book Fairs.

Jules: Shel Silverstein, the Grimm Brothers, Trina Schart Hyman, Maurice Sendak, Beverly Cleary.

Little Willow: Would you rather travel with Max to meet the Wild Things, or go with Harry Potter and attend Hogwarts?

Betsy: Hogwarts. Is there any question? I wonder about folks who would say Wild Things. You'd have to be a very particular kind of person, I suspect. For me, there's no contest.

Jules: The Wild Things, without any doubt. Because maybe perhaps possibly if Sendak is there, too, we can chat.

Little Willow: Would you rather visit Narnia or Never Never Land?

Betsy: That is a very hard question. I go back and forth. Narnia, I guess. Though they both dwell in very distinct metaphors. But I should like to see a faun, so Narnia wins.

Jules: You're going to think I'm just saying the opposite of Betsy now, just to mix things up, but honestly I'd go to Never Never Land. I want to meet Mrs. Darling first, though.

Little Willow: Would you rather have a sip at the tea party in Wonderland or snag a treat from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory?

Betsy: Wonka. Admittedly, you'd never be entirely certain what the Wonka treat would do to you, but I also suspect that the food at that tea party can't be entirely hygienic (there's a dormouse in one of the teapots, for crying out loud!). Plus there's always a chance that Wonka will look like Gene Wilder and I've always had a hardcore crush on that guy.

Jules: Well, given the theme of my blog, I gotta attend the Mad Tea-Party, yes?

Little Willow: Would you rather have the job of The Giver or be the head gamemaker for the Hunger Games?

Betsy: I don't think I'm skilled enough to pass muster as a gamemaker. I suspect I'd construct some little landscape and forget to do something essential like install the video cameras. And I'm always telling and retelling stories of the past ad nauseum anyway, so maybe I'm halfway to Giver-ship already!

Jules: Oh, The Giver! Definitely that. I recently read that book again---this time I read it aloud to my daughters---and it blows my mind how good it is.

WILD THINGS! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson, and Peter D. Sieruta is now available at a bookstore near you.

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23. Interview: Micol Ostow

micolIn 1974, Ronald DeFeo Junior killed all six members of his family in their home in Amityville, New York. A year later, another family moved into that home only to move out 28 days later, saying they were terrorized by something paranormal in the house. Their story was captured in a book by Jay Anson, then subsequently retold in various films and other adaptations.

In Micol Ostow's new novel Amity, we meet two teenagers who live in Amityville at two different times. This is not time travel; instead, they alternate narrative duties, weaving their stories together chapter by chapter. Inspired by the real story but wholly fictional, this YA book is now available for late night reading. But I promise, this interview is not scary, and neither is Micol.

Do you recall the first time you heard about the Amityville Horror?

The first time I heard about the Amityville Horror was when reading Stephen King's Danse Macabre, where he talks about the components of an effective horror movie. In fact, I didn't realize it was based on a true story (and that there was a bestselling book about the original crime!) until much later. Once I became interested in a riff on Amityville as a possible subject for a novel, I went back and read the original book by Jay Anson, as well as High Hopes, the book written specifically about the DeFeo family (as opposed to the Lutzes, who moved in after the DeFeos' murders and claim to have experienced hauntings within).

When did the seed for your novel Amity firmly plant itself in your brain?

Around Halloween, 2011. My novel Family had come out in April and I was tossing around ideas for the next book under contract. My husband was out of town and I was indulging in my favorite guilty pleasure: horror movies and Red Vines. The Amityville 2005 remake was on, and something clicked. But it wasn't until several months later that I had a pitch to show my agent, and it was a few months after that before we put something together for my editor. I went back and forth a lot trying to decide whether I wanted to tell the Lutz family's story, or the DeFeos' story. Both concepts – the "possessed," murderous son, and the beleaguered, haunted successors to the house – were equally compelling to me. Ultimately that's what led me to tell two alternate narratives, set ten years apart. That way I didn't have to choose!

amityWhen you started writing the book, did you know the ending? (Readers, don't worry - we kept this answer spoiler free!)

I one hundred percent knew the ending, and it didn't change one bit, strangely. Maybe a hint of clarification here and there. Some of the supernatural bits tend to read more straightforward in my brain than on a first-draft page. But it was an interesting process as compared specifically to Family, my first book with Egmont. The ending to Family changed three times, as did my feelings about where the protagonist needed to be, emotionally, by the story's end. This one was much more clear-cut. The two narratives needed to converge and I could only really see one way for that to happen.

Have you ever been to Amityville, New York?

We have family out on Long Island and therefore drive past the Amityville exit on the LIE several times a year, at least. I always point it out, like a huge dork. But I've never visited the house and to be honest, at this point, I probably wouldn't. It's been renovated heavily so specifically, those iconic half-moon “eye” windows are gone. And more to the point, there's also the fact that 1) it's a little icky to make a spectacle of a place where a family was murdered and 2) it's actually a private home, where people live. Personally, I prefer the make-believe versions of the Amityville story and am happier to spend my time there.

You've written for a number of different audiences - kids, teens, adults, fantasy, comedy, mixed media. Do you consciously try to mix it up?

I really don't try to mix it up, believe it or not! It just seems to work out that way! I was fortunate enough to come into publishing through the back door, in that I worked as an editor in the work-for-hire realm. So some of my earlier contracts were the results of editors seeking me out and offering me the chance to work with them. (Note: this is not the typical author's path to publication and I am very, very lucky. Trust me, I know!) The Bradford Novels were the product of an editor's original concept, and Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa came from a publishing friend suggesting I mine some of my own adolescent experiences and pitch her a story. Even So Punk Rock was actually originally conceived of by my brother, David Ostow, who worked with me on the story and illustrated the book.

Family was the first novel I sat down to write, as they say, "on spec." And because it wasn't under contract and was coming purely from me, I was free to experiment. I had no idea when I sat down to my computer that what would come out was going to be such a massive departure from my previous work. But once it was published, it was treated as a sort of literary debut. So for Amity, I was much more conscious of trying to write something that would match Family in tone and audience.

What genre or audiences would you like to write for that you haven't yet?

As far as what's coming down the pike that's different, I have a chapter book series releasing this spring called Louise Trapeze, about a little girl in a circus family who wants to learn to fly on the trapeze but is afraid of heights. Talk about a departure!

Have you always been drawn to the horror genre?

Yes! My mother is a huge horror buff and always had the TV set to old B-movies, and scary-covered novels on her nightstand. They completely terrified me but obviously burrowed into my subconscious.

I've known people who can watch horror movies but can't read horror novels, and I've known people who can read horror but can't watch it. Do you lean more towards one than the other?

Love them both! Although in general, I watch a broader range of horror movies than I read horror novels. The only category of horror I really stay away from is the straight-up torture. The extreme gore really doesn't do it for me. With the books I tend to lean more heavily toward literary horror or dark thrillers as opposed to paranormal... and basically anything in the Stephen King cannon.

QUICK DRAW! Time for simple questions:

First horror story that gave you goosebumps: The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
(Little Willow adds: I liked that book, too!)

First scary film that gave you nightmares: Frankenstein

Horror movie or book that you love but can only watch or read in the daylight: It by Stephen King

Favorite funny spooky story: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Favorite funny spooky movie: Shaun of the Dead

Favorite horror authors: Stephen King, Joe Hill, Shirley Jackson, Daniel Krause, Sarah Waters for purer horror. Adele Griffin (Tighter), Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers), Libba Bray (The Diviners), Nova Ren Suma (Imaginary Girls), Mariana Baer (Frost), Thomas Harris (The Silence of the Lambs) for creepy psychological thriller/suspense-y stories. Robert Bloch's original Psycho was great. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg.

Favorite season of American Horror Story: Season One, Murder House, was amazing for just flinging all the fundamental tropes at the wall, and doing something different – and genuinely scary! – on TV. And I absolutely loved that finale.

Favorite Halloween costume you've worn: I'm super boring on Halloween! I love celebrating and decorating and eating treats and watching movies, but I rarely dress up. I'm kind of a party pooper that way. Last year I wore my “Overlook Hotel” tee-shirt and called it a day. But my daughter usually cycles through at least three costumes over the course of the festivities so I think that evens us out.

Ouija board: Wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole or bring it on?
I'm a little superstitious. I'd rather not tempt fate.

Ghosts and/or haunted houses: Believe, don't believe, or open-minded?
I have not had any paranormal experiences myself, but as per the above and being slightly superstitious – I do believe, actually. Kind of. Let's call it open-minded. That works.

Amity Giveaway!

What's your favorite ghost story? EGMONT USA is giving away a signed copy of the finished book to one lucky USA/Canada resident. Leave a comment below with the title of a book, movie, or play that chills you -- or even a personal story! -- along with your email address. You may mask the address, like myname (at) eeemail (dot) com - but we must be able to reach you to get your mailing information. The first comment with the proper info will get the signed book!

Follow the blog tour!

Micol is also visiting the readergirlz blog today. Check out the full schedule at the Egmont USA website.

Related posts at Bildungsroman:
Interview: Micol Ostow (2006)
Interview: Micol Ostow (2007)
Book Review: Popular Vote by Micol Ostow
Book Review: So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol Ostow with art by David Ostow

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24. COVER STORIES: "Amity!"


Hi readergirlz!

I'm super thrilled to be celebrating the release of my 12th (!) original novel, Amity, a haunted house story told in two separate perspectives, ten years apart. Diva Melissa was gracious enough to offer up a Cover Story slot to me, so here we go! 


1.              Did you have an idea in mind for your cover as you were proposing/writing the book? If so, what did it look like?

I think we all always knew Amity was going to have an image of a haunted house on the cover. It’s iconic and classic for a reason, right? We may have tossed around the idea of focusing in on one aspect of a house – a window, a door – or even doing something more modern and all type, but I don’t think any of those concepts were seriously on the table.

2.              Did your publisher ask for your input on the cover design before the art dept started working? If so, what input did you give?

My editor at the time showed me an early mock-up with the image they were planning to use. But at the time, she did make it clear that everyone in-house was very enthusiastic about the image, which, as I know from my own days on the editorial side of the desk, is pretty crucial and not to be ignored.



3.              What did you think the first time you saw the original version of your cover?

I liked the general idea and I really liked that Egmont was truly capturing that straightforward, “HORROR novel,” genre vibe. My main concern was only that the house itself looked nothing like the building that’s described in the book, or the original “Amityville” house. Specifically the half-moon windows are mentioned a whole bunch in the book, and are familiar to anyone who knows anything about the original Amityville crime. But I can appreciate that a strong cover can often outweigh the value of a literal cover. We talked a bit about how the house in the mock-up looked small and not quite menacing enough, and my editor assured me it would be tweaked.

And it was! And it’s amazing and perfect!



As you can see, the final cover is the same original image. But with the color adjusted, a new font, and lots of creepy blood dripped, the terror factor is amped way, way up. I could seriously marry this new final cover, and I’ve been thrilled with readers’ reactions to it! The general consensus seems to be that it’s insanely scary. Which to me translates to: mission accomplished!


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25. Blog Tour: Stanley the Builder by William Bee PLUS Giveaway

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About the Book: Stanley is a helpful guinea pig who helps his friend Myrtle build a new house.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: When it comes to picture books, I can't help but do the storytime browse when I look through them. You know the one. You open a book, check the length of the text on the page and if it's a page long, you put it aside in the not for storytime pile. Yes, I know, longer picture books are great for lapsits and older readers, but I'm always on the lookout for simple text to use with my youngest storytime crowd.

New toddler books are hard to find so I am thrilled that William Bee's Stanley is here! Bright colors, simple text and fantastic vocabulary all make this a wonderful addition to toddler storytime.

Stanley builds Myrtle's house using a variety of trucks which is sure to be a hit with young readers. I love that in addition to the vocabulary of each vehicle used, there's also an introduction to the color of each vehicle. The colors are bright and vibrant and sure to engage young readers who will love looking at Stanley's adventures.


Along with his friend Charlie, Stanley builds Myrtle's house using concrete, bricks, nails and of course paint! 


The process of building is explained in a way that toddlers will understand. They're sure to want to read it again and again. And who can resist the adorable Stanley? 

Stanley is a great addition to toddler storytimes and would pair nicely with Lauren Thompson's Mouse Series

Would you like to win a copy? 
-One entry per person
-US Address only
-13+
-Contest ends September 8

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Full Disclosure: Copy reviewed from galley received from publisher for review 



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