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I’m late posting this (though I did do a ridiculous victory dance on Twitter when it was first announced. But I’m happy to say that Will in Scarlet is in very good company. Just in time for the holidays, too . . . .
CMH: THE MIDDLE GRADE STORYBALL Pseudonymous Bosch, Adam Gidwitz, Lisi Harrison, Alexander London, Lisa McMann, Barnabas Miller, Lauren Oliver, Carrie Ryan, Natalie Standiford, JE Thompson, Sean Williams (All Middle Grade Authors will be on stage!) Moderator: Matthew Cody
BALLROOM: WRITING FOR KIDS Matthew Cody, Adam Gidwitz, Lisa McMann, Carrie Ryan,, C. Alexander London Moderator: Pseudonymous Bosch
I’m currently in lovely Saratoga Springs visiting the equally lovely Northshire Bookstore, but I wanted to take a moment from the road and share this very nice review from The Bulletin. They say so many nice things I’m going all blushy.
«Cody, MatthewWill in Scarlet.Knopf, 2013[272p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-375-86895-5$16.99
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-96895-2$19.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-375-89980-5$10.99
Reviewed from galleys R*Gr. 5-7
With his father off crusading for King Richard, thirteen-year-old Will Shackley must leave childhood mischief behind him as he takes on the responsibility of governing the Shackley estate. He makes a fine start, slaughtering two wolves during a hunt with his father’s men, but when Prince John’s thugs later attack Will’s home in an attempt to force fealty, the boy flees the battle to survive. Finding refuge among a merry band of thieves (including a drunken archer named Rob) in Sherwood Forest, Will sets out to plan his revenge but is soon confronted with the possibility that injustice is not simply the fault of one bad man. The punches packed in this historical action tale are both physical and emotional, as Will discovers that the sheltered world he grew up in is a privilege for very few and a distant dream for most. Cody’s pacing is a clever construction of frenzied but focused fight sequences balanced with quiet, subtle moments of self-reflection on Will’s part. Rich characterization does justice to each of the main players here, especially the villains: their motivations are made clear and understandable so that readers, like Will, come to realize the world is a complicated place with room for good and evil and much in between. Early scenes of wolf hunting and thrilling ambushes will likely draw even the most reluctant reader in, while the careful prose and likable hero will see them through to the satisfying conclusion. KQG
I’ll be traveling the country this fall talking about Will inScarlet to any vagabonds and scallywags that will listen! Below is the schedule of where you can find me and when. Be sure to check back for updates as we get closer to the actual dates!
Friday, October 4th
Voracious Reader (Larchmont, NY)
Sunday, October 13th
New York Comic-Con
Tuesday, October 15th
Lemuria Books (Jackson, MS)
Thursday, October 17th
The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)
Friday, October 18th
McIntyre’s Books (Chapel Hill, NC)
Saturday, October 19th
Barnes & Noble (Cary, NC)
Sunday, October 20th
Barnes & Noble (Skokie, IL)
Monday, October 21st
Anderson’s Bookshop (Downer’s Grove, IL)
Tuesday, October 22nd
The Book Stall (Winnetka, IL)
Saturday, October 26th
Books of Wonder (New York City, NY)
Friday, November 1st
The Center for Fiction (New York – not open to the public)
Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?
I was always into books and a real sucker for the Dr. Suess stuff, can probably still recite Green Eggs and Ham by heart, but the first book that made me want to be a writer was Les Miserables, which I would probably have named as my favorite book, except for the Princess Bride by William Goldman, who is primarily known as a screenwriter, but has written some incredible novels.
I am currently re-reading several William Goldman novels, including Marathon Man and the Color of Light. You can learn a lot as a writer from reading his books. .
More importantly, I am back to reading hardcovers and paperbacks after spending too long with e-books. While I’m a techno nut, the truth is there is nothing better than holding a real book, being able to thumb back and forth through the pages and knowing exactly where you are at any given point.
What is your secret talent?
I play keyboards. I am, in fact, really bad musician and have been fired from some pretty talentless bands when I was younger. Thankfully I record nothing so no one has to know. Until now.
Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.
Mean Girls. I could watch this movie constantly and still laugh at every line.
Also, fart noises and Gilbert Gottfried, not necessarily in that order.
My current obsessions are…
Headphones, I have like 20 pairs. I need loud music when I’m working.
Also, Uncharted 3D, in fact almost every videogame, movie and documentary in 3D.
Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
Know where you are going before you start. Make an outline and stick to it and then keep on going without looking back until you hit THE END. And then, take whatever you’ve done and put it on the highest shelf in your room for 6 weeks without looking at it.
And then make a new outline and start over with the brightest red pen you can find.
And don’t, under any circumstances, get stuck playing Uncharted 3D or watching anything else in 3D. In fact, disconnect your television and your internet and throw away your iPads, playstations and smartphones.
Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…
Forgets that they are reading;
misses a train stop because they need to finish a chapter;
recognizes the characters so much that they find it difficult to believe that its fiction;
Buys another book the second they finish this one;
Or is inspired to write one themselves.
Tell us more about how CRASH AND BURN was born.
I was challenged by my son, who has ADD to write something that he would be willing to read. Spending time with him and his friends, playing videogames and watching movies, I wanted to come up with a form of entertainment that they would consider to be as fast paced and captivating, something that would make them think differently, more deeply about themselves and their world. Using him and his friends as models, I went back in time and thoroughly researched the everyday occurrences in the world they lived in, the language they used, the legal and illegal drugs they were experimenting with and the social interactions between them and the adults in their world. When I realized how difficult the struggle was for most kids, I knew that I had something that I wanted to write about.
Thanks Michael! CRASH AND BURN (which has received 2 starred reviews– from Booklist and BCCB!) is on sale in stores now.
Next in our Winter 2013 New Voices series is teen debut novel CRASH AND BURN, by Michael Hassan, a book that quite literally stopped us all in our tracks the first time we heard Michael’s editor, Jordan Brown, formally present it. Today I’ll let Jordan’s powerful words speak for themselves…
Of all the qualities of a manuscript that get me interested in working with an author, one of the most exciting is when I feel like I’m reading the work of someone who looks for untold stories in places where we don’t expect to find them. Of course, the most prominent plot elements of Michael Hassan’s debut novel Crash and Burn—the story of a profoundly troubled senior who takes his school hostage at gunpoint, and the profoundly untroubled student who stops him—are, sadly, not unusual or unobvious ones. But what is unique and unexpected about Mike’s story is the perspective from which he chooses to tell it.
Steven “Crash” Crashinsky is unlike any of the teen male characters one finds in contemporary teen literature. He is not the brooding, complicated, brilliant outcast; he’s not the bad boy with a heart of gold; he’s not the irredeemable jerk; he’s not the heartthrob who can distill his interior struggles in a moment but is still paralyzed by indecision. He is all of these things, and none of them. He is the kind of male character who is remarkable only for being so typical: a teen whose self-image has been defined by his learning disabilities, whose behavior has been shaped by society’s indulgent “boys will be boys” attitude, who has realized that life’s a lot easier when you just don’t care. He’s the kind of teen we all know, and yet the kind we don’t often find populating teen books—perhaps because he’s the kind we don’t often find reading teen books.
But he is not unreachable, as Mike’s knockout of a first novel shows us. This is a book—one of the first I’ve seen—that speaks directly to these young men, telling a story they need to hear. The element of the book that was paramount to both Mike and me in the editing process was keeping Crash’s voice and experiences as authentic as possible. And thus we have a story that doesn’t pull any punches, that reads more like a chronicle than a novel, that speaks to these readers in a language they can understand.
Crash and Burn is not a book for everyone. The truths it draws out and elucidates don’t provide many answers for the desperate struggles today’s teens experience. But I’m a big believer in the idea that the process always starts with asking the right questions. And Mike asks these big questions while writing a story that is hilarious and frightening and touching in turn; one about friendship and tragedy, first love and first hate; one that shows us that the untold stories can sometimes be the most important.
Thanks Jordan! And don’t forget to visit us again tomorrow for an interview with the author, Michael Hassan.
Yesterday we took you behind the editorial curtain of debut teen novel PIVOT POINT. Today I bring you the inside scoop on the adorable, hilarious Kasie West herself…
What is your secret talent?
Secret talent? If I tell, it won’t be a secret anymore. But since I’ve never passed up on an opportunity to brag (that might not be a true statement), I will tell you that I am super good at proving I’m not a robot. I rock word verification on blogs and websites. Seriously, I have like a 99% success rate at figuring out those impossible to read words. Is this a talent?? I think yes.
Fill in the blank: always makes me laugh.
My husband (He is so funny. The main reason I married him, by the way).
My current obsessions are…
twitter, garden salsa Sun Chips, naps (I’m only obsessed with naps right now because I haven’t been able to take them and I need a nap so bad).
Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
Read read read and keep writing. Make sure you are constantly feeding your mind with new books and plots by reading whenever you can. And when you are done writing a book and it’s ready to query, start immediately on your next one. Don’t spend a lot of time editing a book over and over (note: I’m not telling you not to edit. Definitely edit.). But keep moving forward.
Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…
Laughs, loves, and appreciates the friendships in their lives.
Tell us more about how Pivot Point was born.
Like with other books I’d written before Pivot Point (books that were not published) I find inspiration in life: things I see, movies I watch, experiences I have. My husband and I often discuss plots or ideas that would make a good book. Pivot Point was inspired by the movie Sliding Doors. I love that movie. I love the idea of one pivotal choice that can change everything; The idea of exploring alternate realities and seeing how small decisions can change outcomes. We may not have mental abilities like the people in this book, but I truly feel like choice is power. We have the power to choose to work hard and follow our dreams or to give up. We are in charge of our fate, our destiny, and that is power.
Thanks Kasie! PIVOT POINT is on sale in bookstores now– and once you read it, you’ll be happy to know this happy news: there will be a book 2, out next year!
It’s just two days before the beginning of your junior year when you’re hit by a pickup truck. And killed. And brought back to life. And somehow, you know that it was the loner you’ve never spoken to before that did it. And then, as impossible as it seems, things get even weirder. Sucked in yet? We certainly were. Welcome to UNRAVELING, the debut thriller/sci-fi/romance by Elizabeth Norris.
Let’s hear from Elizabeth’s editor, Kristin Rens, about how she knew immediately that UNRAVELING was something really special:
“I knew I wanted to publish Unraveling before I even finished reading the first page.
From the moment I met Janelle, the main character, I was pulled in by her lively, no-nonsense voice and her take-no-prisoners style—she’s tough, and she’s strong, and she’s loyal to the folks she loves—and her voice is so vivid that I knew within minutes that this was a character I would follow to the ends of the earth. And the fact that she’s up against a clock-ticking countdown that just might lead to the end of life as she knows it? Well, that was the icing on the cake.
In the current wave of paranormal and dystopian YA, Unraveling feels refreshing and different—it’s a high-stakes thriller, a Veronica Mars-esque mystery…and it’s got a light sci-fi twist that would even appeal to readers who don’t necessarily consider themselves sci-fi fans (I know, because I’m one of them). And holy cow, does Liz Norris know how to write a love story—because at the heart of Unraveling is the sweeping romance between Janelle and Ben Michaels, who in many ways are the ultimate star-crossed lovers.
Liz was a high school teacher for a couple of years before she became an author—and it shows in her writing, and in her characters. Because more than anything else what makes Unraveling such a compelling read is that she’s a writer who knows teens—knows how they talk, how they act, what they want. And this comes through in every page of the book—in Janelle’s relationship with her brother Jared, which is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time; in her sarcastic yet fiercely supportive dynamic with her best friend Alex; in the romance between Janelle and Ben, which is sweet, and tender, and completely believable. And there’s a depth and complexity to the characters and to their story that makes Liz a very special writer indeed.
I like to call Unraveling the love child of I Am Number Four and the TV show Fringe. But it’s also very much its own story, one that keeps surprising you as you read. And the result is a breathtakingly romantic sci-fi thriller about one girl’s fight to save her family and her world.
I absolutely love it.”
Thanks Kristin! We also want to share a few of the great reviews that UNRAVELING has received:
“Leav[es] the reader wanting more and begging for a sequel to this multilayered debut.”
— Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Readers will enjoy the nonstop action and romance.”
— School Library Journal
“A satisfying puzzle full of novel twists and provocative clues.”
— Publishers Weekly
Read a hearty excerpt of UNRAVELING here– the book is out in bookstores now. And come back tomorrow for an interview with Elizabeth herself!
A Q&A that I did with Sharon Roat is up, where I talk about my experience of writing SCARS, how I got my agent, how writing HUNTED was a similar process to SCARS, and my upcoming novel STAINED. I hope you’ll check it out.
Yesterday we brought you an inside scoop on UNRAVELING, and today we’re giving you some insight into the author herself, Elizabeth Norris. Be warned: by the end of this, not only will you be dying to read the book, you’ll be sighing with envy at Elizabeth’s romance and craving banana pudding.
Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?
When I was first learning to read, my mom bought me a collection of picture books about characters from the Disney movies and I read them over and over again until I could practically recite them. Then in fourth grade I read A Bridge to Terabithia and it was the most incredible story. I begged my mom to buy me a copy since I had to give the school its copy back. Right now, I’ve just started reading Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, and it’s wonderful.
What is your secret talent?
I’m not sure if it’s a talent, but I always manage to find myself in strange or awkward situations that make hilarious stories after the fact. My friends in college used to joke that I should put all my embarrassing stories together in some kind of memoir and title in Only in My Life.
Fill in the blank: _______ always makes me laugh.
My sister. Whenever we’re together it’s like the stars have aligned and everything is hilarious.
My current obsessions are…
I recently discovered the banana pudding at Magnolia Bakery and I swear I have dreams about it. I’m also super obsessed with Game of Thrones–the books and the television show. I feel like Westeros is a real place and I want to go visit it (but after the war ends).
Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?
There are a lot of highs and lows when you’re writing a book and even more when you’re trying to get published. You have to savor the highs and let them inspire you, and then let the lows roll of your back.
Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…
Tell us more about how UNRAVELING was born.
Like most of the crazy stories in my life, this once starts with “So I met this guy…”
Only, I didn’t actually “meet” the guy in a traditional sense—I became friends with him over the internet. He was a friend of a friend, funny, intelligent, charming. We traded meaningless comments or jokes with friends, but the more I got to know about him, the more it seemed we had in common. We liked the same movies and television shows, we both loved to read and to write, and we just seemed to be on the same intellectual wavelength. We recommended books to each other and we could talk about anything and everything.
And somewhere along the line, I realized he had become my best friend—and then we met, and it just felt like we belonged together (I’m a hopeless romantic, I know). Of course, he lived in another state and neither one of us had any ambitions to ever move so we started muddling through a long distance relationship, making up our own rules and trying to figure out what worked best for us.
Which got me thinking about long distance relationships. They’re hard—flawed and tragic. Most of them are doomed from the beginning. The emotional highs and lows in that type of relationship add an intense stress to even the most calm lives.
In June 2010 (during one of those emotional lows), I thought about how universally unfair it was, that I’d finally found this guy who was perfect for me, who really belonged with me, and yet he actually also belonged somewhere else. And that was the moment of inception of UNRAVELING. Because at its heart, it’s a star-crossed love story. Janelle and Ben are from different worlds, and in their darkest moments, they find each other.
I am also a huge science fiction and fantasy nerd, and I hate the perception that science fiction isn’t cool so I wanted UNRAVELING to be accessible to people who don’t know a lot about science or who don’t normally read science fiction. I love shows like Fringe and The X-Files and I wanted to do something with science fiction that was very grounded in reality. I spent about two months thinking about the plot and writing down character ideas in a notebook while riding the subway, and then I started writing pieces of dialogue and a few key scenes. And then before I knew it, the book was almost complete.
Thanks Elizabeth! UNRAVELING is on sale now. And you’ll be happy to know that this won’t be the last you’ll hear from Ben and Janelle. Check back next summer for more!
And that wraps up our Summer New Voices! We’ll be back January to share our amazingly talented debut writers of the winter with you. Until then…
We’ve teamed up with our brilliant Online Gurus here at HarperCollins Children’s Books to bring you something new on The Pageturn: monthly videos highlighting that month’s “picks,” featuring picture books, chapter books, middle grade and YA.
They’ll be brief booktalks of titles that we feel are perfect for your use in libraries and schools, both brand new and old favorites, directly from our hearts to yours. We don’t think we’ll be ever be YouTube stars (just wait for the blooper reel!), but our goal was to replicate as much as possible that great experience we have at conferences with you all, talking face to face, sharing what we love.
So here we go! Thoughts? Suggestions? We want to hear!
We have an absolutely HUGE treat for you today: words from Sir Terry Pratchett himself in advance of his newest book, DODGER, publishing tomorrow.
Sir Terry Pratchett on DODGER:
“Dodger was initially undertaken as a tribute to Henry Mayhew, who, in London, in the early years of the Victorian reign, catalogued meticulously the lives, jobs, foods, hygiene, sleeping arrangements, etc., of the poor of the city. He did this simply by walking the streets, getting into conversations with people, and then later recording them in his notebook.
He spoke to everybody, even down to the little flower girls who sold posies for a meagre living and slept in doorways and didn’t even know which country they were living in. His friend Charles Dickens is often said to have made the middle classes of London aware of the appalling circumstances of the under classes of the richest and most influential city at that time. But, in truth, while Dickens did sterling work, Mayhew—and the people he worked with—did it the hard way: by piling up the dreadful statistics until they could not be ignored. In so doing, they compiled a startling and wonderful body of knowledge about what was happening beyond the city lights.
This record is available as the book London Labour and the London Poor. And it is a heavyweight document, as Mr. Mayhew speaks of the sick, the neglected elderly, and, not least, the ladies of negotiable affection (a polite way of putting it—the phrasing, incidentally, originated in the United States).
I read London Labour and the London Poor in my teens shortly after reading The Lord of the Rings. And I thought that one day it might be great to do a real fantasy in the world of Mayhew, picking out a street urchin of the time, winding him up, and dropping him in the middle of a thunder storm to begin his own personal odyssey. He would meet Mayhew, Dickens, and number of other prominent Victorians, while at the same time telling it like it was in those days. That is how Dodger was born, and he did most of the work for me—coming alive on the page and quickly running off with the story itself.
Thank you for reading about him.”
And for more on DODGER, watch Terry speak to his “chums” here:
Our NYC-area librarian pals were kind enough to join us last week for an early morning of ferocious book talking, coffee consuming, and oohing and aahing over our upcoming Winter (and early Summer) 2013 titles. It was an oddly hot and humid day to chat about Winter (10 weeks until Christmas…it’s really coming!), but we managed to get into the spirit and of course, had an absolutely lovely time.
Lo and behold, a new Preview blog post feature! These are books that, when mentioned, garnered an across-the-room-audible “awwwww!” from the audience:
AMELIA BEDELIA– 2013 is the 50th Anniversary of our favorite mixed-up but wholeheartedly well-meaning friend Amelia! We’re reissuing the original picture book in a bit larger trim size with truly fantastic additional back matter.
TIPTOE JOE, by Ginger Fogelsong Gibson, illustrations by Laura Rankin — I won’t spoil the payoff of this adorable picture book, but let me just say, you’ll lay your hand over your heart when you get to the end.
RAMONA– We’re repackaging the entire beloved Ramona series in 2013, and let me tell you, the art is adorable. The consensus in the room (and from Beverly Cleary herself, of course) was that this is true Ramona- goofy, a bit scruffy, and every bit lovable.
All I Really Need to Know About Writing
by Jocelyn Shipley
I’d like to thank Cheryl very much for inviting me to do a guest post about writing. What an honour! I met Cheryl some years ago through CANSCAIP and always admire and am inspired by her dedication to books and reading, her constant efforts to stand up to book banners, and her support of other writers. Plus she has the best smile!
It’s been twenty years since I took my first writing class, and ten since I published my first book. After all that time and five more books, you’d think I should know almost everything there is to know about writing. But I don’t. I have to tell you that most days, I still feel like a beginner. All I really know is how much I don’t know.
I used to be confident that if I worked hard enough, I’d figure everything out and be set for life. Didn’t happen. Writing didn’t get any easier. In fact it got harder, because my expectations got higher. I put so much pressure on myself to grow as a writer and achieve more. I’m no longer satisfied with simply completing a manuscript – I want it to be better, much better, than my last one.
But my attempts to improve my craft often fall short. On bad days, when my words won’t flow, my characters won’t come alive, my plots bore me and I’m out of ideas, the urge to shred every printout, delete every file, throw the laptop out the window and bang my head against my desk for the rest of my life is strong. Hey, it even sounds like fun. More fun than writing, anyway.
What keeps me going?
On good days, and there are also plenty of those, writing is a way to explore the world, to figure out why we’re here and what it all means. Not that I expect to find clear answers. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any. But writing is my attempt at making sense of things.
Somehow life is easier to understand through a story. There’s something so satisfying about creating a bit of order out of the randomness of daily experience. It uplifts and renews me to take raw emotions and conflict and try to put them into words, the words into sentences, the sentences into paragraphs, the paragraphs into chapters, and finally the chapters into a book that I hope will resonate with others.
Writing makes me feel whole and grounded and engaged with life and I’d probably go mad if I ever stopped. So I guess you could say that along with everything I don’t know about writing, there is one thing I do know for sure. It’s simply this: Even though writing sometimes makes me crazy, it always keeps me sane. And I think maybe that’s all I’m ever going to figure out. But it’s probably all I really need to know.
Thank you, Jocelyn! I so identify with writing helping you feel whole and grounded–I need to write, and it can help heal us, I believe. And I also really identify with the need to keep making a manuscript better–that it’s not enough to just complete a manuscript. Of course we want polished writing that is going to reach people (and get published). I think a lot of writers can relate to that.
About Jocelyn Shipley
Jocelyn Shipley’s YA novel, How to Tend a Grave, won the 2012 Gold Medal Moonbeam Award for YA Fiction – Mature Issues. She is co-editor of Cleavage: Breakaway Fiction for Real Girls, and her other books for teens include Seraphina’s Circle, Cross My Heart, and Getting A Life. Her work has been translated into many languages for Stabenfeldt’s tween book club GIRL:IT, and her award-winning stories have appeared in anthologies, newspapers and magazines. She lives in Toronto and on Vancouver Island, Canada.
A CONFUSION OF PRINCES, Garth Nix’s first teen novel since ABHORSEN, came out earlier this year– did you read it? We did, and we were completely enthralled: it’s a sci-fi, action/adventure tale set in a totally fascinating world where thousands of mostly-immortal superhuman Princes compete to rise above the rest while operating within a dangerous, traitorous Empire. And you know, fighting epic battles in space. But above all, it’s a coming-of-age story that you’ll find complex and moving. And it received three starred reviews (SLJ, Horn Book, and Kirkus), to boot!
Today we are lucky enough to hear from the man himself, as Garth graciously agreed to be subjected to our shockingly rigorous line of questioning…
What time is your alarm clock set for?
As it is shared with my wife Anna, who is an early riser, the alarm usually goes off about 6:00am. But if I am honest, my actual rising time is around 8:00am and sometimes later, if I stayed up working and didn’t go to bed till 1:00 or 2:00, as is not unusual.
Favorite book from childhood?
I have many, many favourite books from childhood. How could I select just one? Today I will choose KNIGHT’S FEE by Rosemary Sutcliff, tomorrow I might choose THE DARK IS RISING by Susan Cooper, the day after that TARAN WANDERER by Lloyd Alexander, or perhaps CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY by Robert Heinlein, or DOWN WITH SKOOL by Ronald Searle, or LEAVE IT TO PSMITH by P. G. Wodehouse or THE GOLDEN GOBLET by Eloise Jarvis McGraw or UNCLE by J. P. Martin . . . there are too many wonderful books to choose from!
If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what job would you like to have?
I have had many different jobs, mostly in publishing. My favourite was being a literary agent, helping other authors get their work published, and that is probably what I would go back to being if I wasn’t being a full-time author.
How many stamps are in your passport?
I think I am on my fifth passport since I was 19. The current one has about twenty stamps in it. Sadly, some countries don’t stamp passports anymore, it is all stored electronically, so I don’t have as many in the current passport as I would once have collected. The best passport I had was in my late 20s, which had lots of weird and wonderful visas and entry/exit stamps from Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading the fascinating non-fiction book THE TIME TRAVELLER’S GUIDE TO MEDIEVAL ENGLAND by Ian Mortimer.
Finish this sentence: “I always smile when…”
…I come home from a trip away and see my family.
Funniest (or most interesting) question from a fan?
I get lots of interesting questions, but one that really stumped me was someone at a book event who asked me: “Why 996 steps?” I had no idea what she was asking. She repeated the question. Eventually it turned into a very specific question about the number of steps down from the well in the Abhorsen’s House, in my book ABHORSEN and why that particular number. The answer being that I had no idea, it just seemed the right depth.
Our beautiful park suffered severely from last year’s drought. Money raised through ticket sales for this event and 30% of artists’ sales will be donated to The Memorial Park Conservancy for park reforestation.
Come enjoy the wine, dessert and snacks at the cocktail reception featuring the founder of Paws on Patios, Patrick Walsh, Jim Porter– chairman of The Memorial Park Conservancy, Brian Kalinec– singer/songwriter, Suzanne Marsh– silhouette artist, and the amazingly tall Walking Tree Of Life performer as well as many wonderful artists who will be selling tree-themed art. Visit www.theartfullumbrella.com/art_benefit for the details and to purchase tickets. Art which is not purchased at the event will be for sale online from December 12th-18th at www.theartfullumbrella.com/art_gallery/. Photo credit: Steve Lathem
For those of you in the West Houston/Katy/Fulshear areas, I wanted to pass on news of the 3rd annual “Stuff the Sleigh of Katy”, an all-volunteer holiday toy drive benefiting pediatric cancer patients treated at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH) – West Campus, and their siblings. Santa Claus will present the children with toys collected in his Santa’s Sleigh at a family holiday party. The community toy drive is accepting donations to purchase holiday gifts through Wednesday, December 12. Those interested in sponsoring a child’s gift may stop by the Firethorne Community Center to select a ‘sleigh’ gift card with a wish list item on it from a young cancer patient or their brother or sister. Photo credit: Ginny Lund
We have several fun events happening this weekend! Remember that the information here is from the sponsoring bookstore or organization’s website and changes do happen. Please check their websites for the latest, most up-to-date information on these events.
Join Rachel Harris as she discusses and signs her new book MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY.
Armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat is thrust into the Renaissance on the eve of her sixteenth birthday where she soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But romance takes an unpleasant turn when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around. Can Cat find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?
Illustrator Nancy Binford presents her new book, THE LAST CHRISTMAS TREE. The story of a not-to-handsome tree that has watched all the other trees on the lot get taken home. Will The Last Christmas Tree get a home?
While you’re out doing your holiday shopping, don’t forget to stop by the Houston area fine independent bookstores which frequently sponsor author and illustrator events:
I’m excited that my new YA fantasy Parallel Visions is now out in the world! To celebrate, I’m having a contest. Help me get the word out about Parallel Visions, and you’ll be entered to win bookstore giftcards and an ebook reader. It’s $2.99 ebook, and $7.99 print. It’s up on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords (where you can get it in every ebook format, including for Nook), and will be up on B&N in a few weeks.
Parallel Visions deals with being different, domestic violence, attempted suicide, rape, and asthma, all in a fantasy setting. Like all my books, it’s also written with suspense and hope, and some of my own trauma and abuse experience.
Evelyn Fazio, the same editor who edited my books Scars and Hunted, edited Parallel Visions. I care a lot about Parallel Visions, just like I do all my books. I hope you’ll help me get the word out.
Check out the book trailer!
Help me get the word out about Parallel Visions, and you can win:
1 of 2 bookstore giftcards for $10 (at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, or any other online bookstore)
1 of 2 bookstore giftcards for $5 (at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, or any other online bookstore)
I’ve been waiting for this day for a while–the official cover reveal of STAINED (which comes out this November from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)! All across the web today, you’ll see many book bloggers, librarians, reviewers, and some readers who have generously taken part in this reveal.
So, here it is–the cover of STAINED!
I really, really love this cover. I think it immediately tells the reader exactly what the book is about, just like SCARS does. You know just from looking at the cover that the girl has been abducted. And if you read the tagline–Sometimes you have to be your own hero
–you also know that Sarah has to be the one to rescue herself, and from that you know that she’s a strong-girl character. You don’t see all of Sarah’s face on the cover because she usually hides her port wine stain beneath her hair (she has body image issues, like many of us do). I love that my editor, Karen Grove, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt asked for what I wanted, and listened! That’s such a good feeling.
So what’s STAINED about? Here’s the official book description, which I love:
In this heart-wrenching and suspenseful teen thriller, sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for “normal.” Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.
Like I did with SCARS and HUNTED, I drew on some of my own experiences of bullying, abuse, and trauma to write STAINED and to give it greater emotional depth. Like Sarah in STAINED, I experienced abduction, imprisonment, periods of forced starvation, mind control, and having my life threatened. And like Sarah, I tried hard to fight against my abuser, keep my own sense of self, and escape. I hope, if you read STAINED, you will see Sarah’s strength and courage, and appreciate her emotional growth as she reclaims herself.
And here’s the book trailer for STAINED; I hope you’ll watch it!
So, what do you think? Do you like the cover? Does STAINED sound interesting to you?
comes out Nov 19, 2013. If you want to make sure you don’t miss it, you can pre-order a copy:
The Montgomery County Book Festival is now partnering with Lone Star College – Montgomery. This year the festival is being expanded from a teens only format to include authors of children’s and tween books, young adult authors who cross over to the adult market and authors who write specifically for adults. However, as this blog focuses on children’s and young adult’s literature, I’ve only listed the names of authors who write for these age groups. For a complete list, visit the Montgomery County Book Festival website.
Chinese New Year Storytime! Join author Mary Wade in celebrating the Chinese New Year with the reading of NO YEAR OF THE CAT.
The Emperor has a problem. He wants his people to remember the year in which his son was born. But there is no way to keep track of the years. So the Emperor devises a race in which animals will cross a river. The first twelve animals to reach the opposite side will have a year named after them. Thus, the people will be able to remember the years and the events that occurred. And so the race is set. Rat, knowing he is no match for the rushing water, schemes with Cat on how to cross the river. Together the two convince Ox to carry them across. But halfway across the river, Rat shows his true colors. Will Cat make it to the other side? Which animals will have a year named after them? Accompanied by exquisite watercolor artwork, this charming story explains the origins of the Chinese calendar.
February 5, Tuesday, 6:00 PM Barnes & Noble, College Station Janet Fox and Joy Preble, YA Authors
Join Janet Fox and Joy Preble for an exclusive young adult Q&A session of their latest books and what it takes to be a YA author. We will be celebrating the release of Janet’s newest book, SIRENS, and Joy will talk about her upcoming book, THE SWEET DEAD LIFE.
Houston playwright Kathleen Tolan’s regional premiere of MEMORY HOUSE, directed by Claire Hart-Palumbo.
As Katia struggles to finish her college essay by tonight’s midnight deadline her mother Maggie tries to motivate and encourage her while baking a pie. Mother and daughter wrestle with lingering issues from Katia’s adoption from Russia, her parents’ divorce and her fear of leaving home as they pick their way through the very human, very honest, and sometimes very funny struggle of how to connect with each other and face the future.
Post show discussions: Following the Sunday matinee on February 3, the audience is invited to join the artists involved with the production as well as a diverse panel of adoptive families, who will reflect on the play and share their own experiences.
Ally Carter, New York Times best-selling author of the five books in the Gallagher Girls series, will discuss and sign her young adult novel PERFECT SCOUNDRELS.
Katarina Bishop and W.W. Hale the fifth were born to lead completely different lives: Kat comes from a long, proud line of loveable criminal masterminds, while Hale is the scion of one of the most seemingly perfect dynasties in the world. If their families have one thing in common, it’s that they both know how to stay under the radar while getting—or stealing—whatever they want.
No matter the risk, the Bishops can always be counted on, but in Hale’s family, all bets are off when money is on the line. When Hale unexpectedly inherits his grandmother’s billion dollar corporation, he quickly learns that there’s no place for Kat and their old heists in his new role. But Kat won’t let him go that easily, especially after she gets tipped off that his grandmother’s will might have been altered in an elaborate con to steal the company’s fortune. So instead of being the heir—this time, Hale might be the mark.
The news is now far and wide, but we want to officially say– yahoo! This past weekend in Seattle at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association, six of our titles were honored by awards committees and we are beyond bowled over with excitement and pride. Congratulations to all– to the authors, editors, fans, and champions of these books. Every Midwinter we are so grateful to be reminded that the community we book-people live and work within is vibrant, supportive, and very, very much alive and kicking. We are all in it together.
Congratulations to all authors and illustrators honored with 2013 awards, and the biggest and humblest of thank you’s to the awards committees for their hard work, dedication, and the countless hours they spent this past year reading and discussing books. Now we wish we could fast-forward to June and our official ALA celebrations!
The Day of Love is almost upon us! There are so many wonderful classics for this holiday (a personal favorite has always been, and always will be I LIKE YOU, by Sandol Stoddard Warburg) and I think the best way to celebrate is with books and chocolate*! These are a few brand new picks for your Valentine’s Day reading:
AN AWESOME BOOK OF LOVE!, by Dallas Clayton There are so many different kinds of love – the way you love your husband or wife, the way you love your child, the way you love your parents – and Dallas Clayton knows just how to describe them all.
FANCY NANCY, NANCY CLANCY: SECRET ADMIRER, by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
The second in the Fancy Nancy chapter book series. Love is in the air, and Nancy Clancy is sure to make the most of it!
NOBODY BUT US, by Kristin Halbrook
BONNIE & CLYDE meets BLUE VALENTINE in this addictive, heart-wrenching story about two desperate teenagers on the run from their pasts.
In Chris Crutcher’s upcoming novel, PERIOD 8, a group of students comes together every day during Period 8 to talk about (in the author’s own words) “the important things: hopes, dreams, fears, and the comedy and tragedy of their lives.” Teacher Bruce Logsdon, who runs Period 8, has only one rule—you have to tell the truth. No question is off-limits, no topic is forbidden, as long as the discussion remains honest.
If you’ve read his books or seen him speak, you know that frank treatment of tough subjects is a Chris Crutcher hallmark. Perhaps you are thinking, “Hmmm. I wonder how much of this Bruce Logsdon character is autobiographical.” We can’t exactly answer that for you, but we can offer you this exciting invitation . . .
In the spirit of Period 8, Chris Crutcher is taking real-life questions from teens, and he will answer them in a video to be posted on our teen community website Epic Reads.
Do your teens have burning questions they’d like to ask him? (Who doesn’t, right?) Encourage them to submit their questions on Epic Reads, and check back at the end of March for some video answers from this very wise man.
Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, a special type of clairvoyant, whenever Addie is faced with a choice she is able to look into the future and see both outcomes. So when her parents ambush her with the news that they are getting a divorce and she has to pick who she wants to live with, the answer should be easy.
However, as Addie searches her two possible futures, one where she leaves with her father to live off of the paranormal compound and the other where she stays with her mother and the gifted in the life she’s always known, she realizes how hard the choice really is. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through…and who she can’t live without.
This one was love at first sight (or should we say love at first read) for us: it’s bright, fun, well-plotted, and clearly the beginning of a very promising career for Kasie! Let’s hear why Kasie’s editor, Sarah Landis, loved it immediately too…
When the agent pitched Kasie’s novel to me, it immediately reminded me of one of my favorite rainy-day movies, “Sliding Doors”, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve been let down more times than I can count by a great idea that doesn’t come through in execution. But in this case, not only did it live up to my expectations, it exceeded them! Addie is such a winning protagonist. She has attitude, spunk, intelligence, and a sense of humor (girl heroines rarely have a sense of humor!). The whole idea that one decision can potentially alter the course of your life has always intrigued me. I think we’ve all made a decision and then wondered… What If? In PIVOT POINT, when Addie is faced with a decision, she has the ability to look down both of those roads and decide which one has the better outcome. But…as we find out, knowing both paths doesn’t necessarily make choosing any easier. In fact, sometimes it makes it even harder.
PIVOT POINT had me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how it was going to end. As editors, we see the same recycled plots over and over, and I feel like I’m rarely genuinely surprised. And I totally was! When I first read it, the ending was so good but so, so frustrating. Without giving anything away for anyone who hasn’t read it, I begged and pleaded with Kasie to change the ending (that is how strongly I felt about these characters fates). The way she revised the ending is so completely perfect now. That brings me to what a dream it is to work with an author who you know is going to be around for a long time.
Thanks Sarah! And don’t forget to check back tomorrow to hear from Kasie herself.