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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: YA Books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. This is #IReadYA Week! And some of my recent favorites.

i-read-ya-lavenderI love reading YA books; they’re my favorite–and I love writing them, too. (Smiling) So much emotion and tension, strong-girl characters (and strong boys, too) who I root for, no boring bits or long passages of description that stop the story, so often characters overcoming great odds or fighting for what is right or learning something important about themselves and other people, and novels tackling issues that others aren’t talking about. YA books feed my soul–and they helped me survive when I was a teen being abused. So I’m happy ‪#‎IReadYa‬ week is here! (See @thisisteen on Instagram for more info.)

I’ve been on a YA fantasy binge for a while. Some of my most recent favorites are:

Unremembered by Jessica Brody,






The Body Electric by Beth Revis,





Elusion by Claudia Gable & Cheryl Klam,




Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay,

and The Taking by Kimberly Derting–all of which I highly recommend.

I’m looking forward to reading lesbian YA novels:

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

and If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan. And I love Julie Anne Peters’ novels, and so many other ‪#‎LGBTQ‬ novels.

And I always recommend realistic YA fiction by Ellen Hopkins, Jennifer Brown, April Henry, Laura Wiess, Jo Knowles, Gail Giles, and many more. Discover the fantastic books out there waiting for you!

0 Comments on This is #IReadYA Week! And some of my recent favorites. as of 5/18/2015 10:05:00 PM
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2. Saaba Tahir, Author of An Ember in the Ashes | Speed Interview

Which five words best describe An Ember in the Ashes (Razorbill, April 2015), by Saaba Tahir? Adventurous, Brutal, Honest, Fast-Paced, Romance

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3. KidLit Author Events May 12-18

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We have three big events in Houston this week, including one HUGE event for the whole family! The Houston Public Library is having their 6th Annual Books Alive! Event, and this year the featured author is Jon Scieszka! Scroll down for lots of exciting details, but don’t miss all the fun stuff happening before then!

A TALE OF TWO BESTIES by Sophia RossiMay 14, Thursday, 7:00 pm
Outreach Center of West Houston, 725 Bateswood, Houston

Sophia Rossi, HelloGiggles co-founder, will meet and greet fans as she discusses her new book, A TALE OF TWO BESTIES.

Whatever you want to call them, Harper and Lily were born to be besties. Casual-cool Cali girl Harper and awkward, always-costumed Lily are in constant contact, whether they are sharing after school fro-yos or swapping emojis. Not even the threat of different high schools could throw this BFFship off-course, even if Lily begs her parents not to send her to the “dreaded Pathways,” a special school for creative types, while effortlessly-popular Harper attends Beverly High with the rest of their class. But in a city like L.A., where fitting in means standing out and there’s nothing more uncool than being cool, it’s the naturally charismatic Harper who finds herself fighting the tide of American Apparel’d teens who rule the school. Meanwhile, it’s the perpetually “gawkward” Lily–who accessorizes every ensemble with a pair of tattered fairy wings–who finds herself flying alongside the queen bees of Pathways. Can BFF-ship survive the tidal wave of HS drama, or does growing up mean leaving some friends behind?

Admission: In order to go through the signing line and meet Sophia Rossi for book personalization, please purchase TALE OF TWO BESTIES from Blue Willow Bookshop. At the time of your purchase, we will issue a signing line ticket that indicates your place in line. Your book and signing line ticket can be picked up at the event. Each person who purchases a copy of TALE OF TWO BESTIES from Blue Willow Bookshop will receive a gift bag.

May 15, Friday, 7:00 PMNIL UNLOCKED by Lynne Matson
Blue Willow Bookshop
Fierce Reads 2015 Tour: Four YA Authors

Four YA authors will appear together at Blue Willow Bookshop, talking about their books and anything else.

Lynne Matson: NIL UNLOCKED: On the island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape–or you die. Rives is now the undisputed Leader of Nil City, but keeping the City united is tougher than ever. Raiders have grown bolder, supplies are dwindling, and non-human inhabitants have taken a turn toward the deadly. New arrivals cause rifts within the City, putting the Search system at risk, and calling everything Rives knows into question. Desperate for answers, he teams up with the only other person searching for them: Skye, a new arrival with a mysterious past of her own. Soon the duo find themselves locked in a desperate race to save all the residents of Nil–and possibly destroy the island forever. But at what cost? And who will pay the price?

REVENGE, ICE CREAM AND OTHER THINGS BEST SERVED COLD by Katie FinnKatie Finn: REVENGE, ICE CREAM, AND OTHER THINGS BEST SERVED COLD:

After the humiliating events on the 4th of July, Gemma’s trying to grapple with the fact that Hallie knew her true identity all summer, and that she was the one who stole Teddy from her. Gemma vows revenge, but things immediately get more complicated than she planned. Her dad forces her to get a job, and the only one she can find involves scooping ice cream all day. Ford, Gemma’s longtime crush, has arrived in the Hamptons, and is cuter than ever. Josh is refusing to speak to her after finding out she lied to him. And to top it all off, Teddy is back in the picture, and closer to home than Gemma would like. Gemma and Hallie find themselves locked in an escalating revenge cycle involving everything from strawberry syrup to stolen identities. But just when Gemma thinks she has the upper hand, the biggest bombshell of all is dropped. And it’s one that threatens to change her life forever.

THE WINNER'S CRIME by Maria RutkoskiMarie Rutkoski: THE WINNER’S CRIME: A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

SKANDAL by Lindsey SmithLindsay Smith: SKANDAL: The dramatic sequel to SEKRET, this psychic Cold War espionage thriller follows Yulia to Washington, DC, where she fights to discover the truth about her family without losing control of her mind. My mind is mine alone. Life in Washington, D.C., is not the safe haven Yulia hoped for when she risked everything to flee communist Russia. Her father is reckless and aloof, and Valentin is distant and haunted by his past. Her mother is being targeted by the CIA and the US government is suspicious of Yulia’s allegiance. And when super-psychics start turning up in the US capitol, it seems that even Rostov is still a threat. Ultimately, Yulia must keep control of her own mind to save the people she loves and avoid an international SKANDAL.

Admission: In order to go through the signing line and meet the authors for book personalization, please purchase one of the author’s books from Blue Willow Bookshop. At the time of your purchase, you will receive a signing line ticket that indicates your place in line.

THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES BY JON SCIESZKAMay 16, Saturday, 12:15– 3:30 PM
Central Library 500 McKinney St., Houston
Books Alive! 6th Annual Children’s Book Celebration

The celebration at Houston Public Library kicks off at 12:15 on the fourth floor as Main Street Theater young ambassadors present selections from THE STINKY CHEESE MAN AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES and FRANK EINSTEIN AND THE ANTIMATTER MOTOR. At 12:45, Author Jon Scieszka will address the crowd and sign his books. Starting at 1:30, there will be music and entertainment by AndyRoo and the AndyRooniverse! Arts & Crafts, Mad Science of Houston, PhotoMoto photo booth, Houston Museum of Natural Science, and the Children’s Museum of Houston.

Come dressed to impress as your favorite Jon Scieszka–inspired book character! 
Prizes will be awarded for best costumes!

Take a peek at some of the fun in store: Music video from AndyRoo, Mad Science of Houston’s video from The Houston International Festival, and fun with PhotoMoto!

May 16, Saturday, 3:00 PMTHE BOOK OF ETHAN by Russell J. Sanders
River Oaks Bookstore
Russell J. Sanders, YA Author

Houston YA Author Russell J. Sanders presents his new novel THE BOOK OF ETHAN. Ethan Harker is the son of The Prophet, the stern, demanding leader of a small Southwestern polygamous community. Ethan has been groomed to one day take his place as the leader of this isolated cult. But things happen that compel Ethan to flee his stifling community and find his way in the world beyond it. Totally out of his depth, he is sheltered by a remarkable group of people from a loving and accepting church. From them, he learns what family truly means and begins to construct a life free from the restrictions he’s grown up with. Little by little he dismisses the assumptions he was taught about the evil people in the outside world. Amid all this, Ethan realizes something about himself when he meets rapper Kyan, a boy his age. Although he’s been brought up to fear and hate members of Kyan’s race, he can’t help falling in love with Kyan. Fueled by a new understanding and new friends, Ethan gains the strength and courage to conquer the confusing world he has been thrust into.

Now through June 30Houston Writers Guild Press
Houston Writers Guild
Short Story Contest
Entry fee: $25 HWG members / $35 non-members / $20 students or seniors over 65
Multiple entries: $15 for subsequent entries for members / $25 for nonmembers / $10 for students and seniors over 65.

HWG is looking for original unpublished mystery short stories; stand-alone adaptations from a longer manuscript are welcome. Authors may submit up to 3 short stories for consideration in the contest. Please see their website for more information.

 

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4. Best Selling Young Adult Books | May 2015

With so many strong novels on this list, a lot remains the same on our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list.

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5. Book Birthday! FALLING FOR ALICE

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FALLING FOR ALICEHappy birthday to

FALLING FOR ALICE

A YA Anthology celebrating 150 years
of Alice in Wonderland
by authors

Shari Green
Denise Jaden
Dawn Dalton
Kitty Keswick
Cady Vance

From ​the modern Alice dumped in the Aquarian ​Age of the late sixties, to the ​present day Alice, tormented by body image and emotional issues, to the Alice of the future, launched forward through time and space, FALLING FOR ALICE offers five fresh takes on ​Lewis​ Carroll’s classic tale.

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6. KidLit Author Events April 21-27

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LOUISE LOVES ART by Kelly LightSorry, I don’t have time to write about our SCBWI Houston conference this past weekend, but I’ve just got to shout about our keynote speaker:

KELLY LIGHT!

Along with a big thank you to everyone who helped put this conference together, I want to say a special thanks to our guests, Wendy Loggia, Annie Berger, John Cusick, Molly Jaffa, Susan Hawk, Isabel Warren Lynch, and J. Patrick Lewis, and of course, to our wonderful bookstore host, Blue Willow Bookshop. It was truly an outstanding conference.

This week’s events:

April 22- May 27, Wednesdays, 6:00 PMCassandra Clarke
Writespace
Cassandra Clarke: Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop (Hybrid)
Cost: $170-$205
Cap 12

Do you take your fiction with a side of aliens, superheroes, dragons, or witches? Then this is the workshop for you!

This course will provide an overview of the SFF genre. Together we will consider those elements of writing which are crucial to crafting compelling speculative stories, such as building our own worlds, extrapolating the fantastic from reality, and creating compelling non-human characters. In addition to discussing classic and contemporary SFF works, you will participate in writing exercises and bring in your own work for critique. Come to class prepared to write and discuss, and by the end of the six weeks, you will have completed at least one SFF short story.

Please note: This is a hybrid workshop, which means the workshop meet three Wednesdays at Writespace and three Wednesdays online, from the comfort of home. Though writers will be asked to post and read discussions on our online forum on Wednesdays, our Wednesday online meeting dates will offer more flexibility. For instance, on the days of our online “meetings,” if you need to check in at a time other than between 6-9 PM, this will work.

April 25, Saturday, 10:00 AMKathy Duval
Writespace
Kathy Duval: Workshop: Make it Shine! Polish Your Picture Book to Its Fullest Potential!
Cost: $75-$95
Cap 12

Five hundred words—no problem, right? Wrong!

A successful picture book is an art form combining lyrical language and dynamic images, each dependent on the other.  To compete, your work must shine, as well as follow the conventions of today’s crowded market.

In this hands-on revision workshop, we’ll take a fresh look at your characters, setting, plot, and picture book language. Participants will complete exercises to polish their prose, as well as create a dummy to see how your text fits into a picture book format. Feedback in small groups will help you take your picture book to the next level.

Participants will be asked to bring three copies of the same completed picture book manuscript. You will be notified closer to the workshop date about the other supplies you will need for making a dummy.

April 25: Saturday, 2:00 PMFINDING PARIS by Joy Preble
Blue Willow Bookshop
Joy Preble, YA Author

Joy Preble will discuss and sign her newest novel for teens, FINDING PARIS.

Sisters Leo and Paris Hollings have only ever had each other to rely on. They can’t trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who’s moved them all to Las Vegas. It’s just the two of them: Paris, who’s always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind–going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling in love. But Leo isn’t going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister.

Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared?

When Leo reluctantly accepts Max’s offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for the truth is not a straight line. And neither is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside.

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7. KidLit Author Events April 14-21

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Art by Diandra Mae

It’s finally here! This weekend is the SCBWI Houston conference! All the details are in place, agents, editors, authors and illustrators will be flying and driving into Houston for the big weekend. If you haven’t registered, there is room for walk-ins Saturday morning. Come to the Westin at Memorial City and find out what it takes to be an author or illustrator for children’s and young adult literature! (Art by Diandra Mae.)

The Houston Public Library is offering an exciting opportunity:

Win a Lunch with Jon Scieszka!FRANK EINSTEIN AND THE ANTIMATTER MOTOR by Jon Scieszka

Create an art masterpiece inspired by one of the many books written by the award-winning, world-famous author Jon Scieszka! Fifty winners and one adult guest each will be treated to a catered lunch 
with Jon Scieszka and receive an autographed copy of “Frank Einstein & the Antimatter Motor!” This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is scheduled to take place prior to the kickoff of the 6th Annual Books Alive! Children’s Book Celebration on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

Deadline: Friday, May 1, 2015
Winners will be notified by Friday, May 8, 2015.

For more information visit the Books Alive! Contest.

Now for this week’s author visits:

April 14, Tuesday,  5:00 PMDEAR HANK WILLIAMS: Kimbrely Willlis Holt
Blue Willow Bookshop
Kimberly Willis Holt, MG/YA Author

Kimberly Willis Holt will discuss and sign her newest novel for kids, DEAR HANK WILLIAMS. It’s 1948 in Rippling Creek, Louisiana, and Tate P. Ellerbee’s new teacher has just given her class an assignment–learning the art of letter-writing. Luckily, Tate has the perfect pen pal in mind: Hank Williams, a country music singer whose star has just begun to rise. Tate and her great-aunt and -uncle listen to him on the radio every Saturday night, and Tate just knows that she and Hank are kindred spirits.

Told entirely through Tate’s hopeful letters, this beautifully drawn novel from National Book Award-winning author Kimberly Willis Holt gradually unfolds a story of family love, overcoming tragedy, and an insightful girl learning to find her voice.

April 16, Thursday, 10:00 AM BUNNY ROO, I LOVE YOU: Melissa Marr; Illustrated by Teagan White
Blue Willow Bookshop
Melissa Marr, PB Author

Melissa Marr, author of the bestselling Wicked Lovely series as well as the adult fantasy novels GRAVEMINDER and THE ARRIVALS, joins Blue Willow Bookshop for a very special story time with her debut picture book, BUNNY ROO, I LOVE YOU!

The world can seem like a big, bewildering place for new babies—fortunately, their mamas know just how to soothe and comfort them. Through enchanting scenes portraying all kinds of mama animals looking out for their little ones, the mother in this story reassures her baby, and young children everywhere, that their caretakers will always love them and keep them safe. This beautiful picture book has the feel of a classic and its heartwarming premise should make it a family favorite.

April 16, Thursday, 6:30PMTHE FINISHER: David Baldacci
Murder By The Boook
David Baldacci, YA Author

Worldwide bestselling novelist David Baldacci will sign and discuss THE FINISHER (Scholastic). Vega Jane has never left the village of Wormwood. But this isn’t unusual, nobody has ever left the village of Wormwood. At least not until Quentin Herms vanishes into the unknown. Vega knows Quentin didn’t just leave, but that he was chased. And he’s left behind a very dangerous trail of clues that only she can decode. The Quag is a dark forest filled with terrifying beasts and bloodthirsty Outliers. But just as deadly are the threats that exist within the walls of Wormwood. It is a place built on lies, where influential people are willing to kill to keep their secrets. Vega is determined to uncover the truth. But the closer she gets, the more she risks her life.

Thursday, April 16, 7:00 PMI AM HER REVENGE by Meredith Moore
Brazos Bookstore
Meredith Moore, YA Author

Houston author Meredith Moore will sign her debut YA novel, I AM HER REVENGE. She can be anyone you want her to be.
Vivian was raised with one purpose in life: to exact revenge on behalf of her mother. Manipulative and cruel, Mother has deprived Vivian not only of a childhood, but of an original identity. With an endless arsenal of enticing personalities at her disposal, Vivian is a veritable weapon of deception.

And she can destroy anyone.
When it’s time to strike, she enrolls in a boarding school on the English moors, where she will zero in on her target: sweet and innocent Ben, the son of the man who broke Mother’s heart twenty years ago.

Anyone…except for the woman who created her.
With every secret she uncovers, Vivian comes one step closer to learning who she really is. But the more she learns about herself, the more dangerous this cat and mouse game becomes. Because Mother will stop at nothing to make sure the truth dies with her.

April 16, Thursday, 7:00 PM Image from THE CROODS
Texas A&M, Langford Building
The Neuland Concept Designers
Cost: FREE!

SCBWI Brazos Valley Illustrator Event: The Neuland Concept Designers

Concept designers Margaret Wuller and Patrick Hannenberger will discuss their work for film projects such as The Croods, Rise of the Guardians, Monsters vs. Aliens, and How to Train Your Dragon. The free public lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the Geren Auditorium at the College of Architecture on the A&M campus.

April 18, Saturday, 10:00 AMTHE WIZARD'S PROMISE: CASSANDRA ROSE CLARK
Houston YA/MG Writers
Writespace: Silver Street Studios – Studio 212

Cassandra Clark: Workshop: Engaging Your Reader Through Tension
Cost: FREE!

Tension may be a bad thing in our personal lives, but it’s a necessity in our writing. Nothing engages a reader like tension! This month, YA and adult science fiction and fantasy writer Cassandra Rose Clarke will show us how writers can effectively build tension throughout their work. We’ll consider how to up the tension through the internal and external elements of the story, from cliff-hangers to pacing and from character motivations to story stakes. We’ll leave with the tools to keep readers turning pages until late into the night!

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8. AUSTIN CALLING: TLA 2015

We’re soon to touch down in one of our absolute favorite literary states for the Texas Library Association Conference in Austin! If there’s anything better than talking books, hanging out with authors and librarians, and enjoying sunshine and Shiners, then we don’t want to know about it.

If you’ll be in the Lone Star State, too, please swing by our booth, #1341, for galleys, giveaways, and face time with the HarperCollins Children’s Books School & Library team. We can’t wait to chat and put books in your hands.

But if you’re reading this thinking, “sure, you guys are nice, but we’re here to meet the AUTHORS, silly!” check out our top-notch signing schedule, here:

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15TH:
11:00am–12:00pm, Joy Preble, Aisle 7, Finding Paris
11:00am–12:00pm, Melissa Marr, Aisle 8, Made For You
12:00–1:00pm, Kiera Cass, Aisle 8, The Selection Series
1:00–2:00pm, Thanhha Lai, Aisle 8, Listen, Slowly
2:00–3:00pm, Dan Gutman, Aisle 8, Genius Files #5: License to Thrill
4:00–5:00pm, Lauren Oliver, Aisle 8, Vanishing Girls

THURSDAY, APRIL 16TH:
10:00–11:00am, Sherry Thomas, Aisle 3, The Elemental Trilogy
11:30am–12:30pm, Neal & Brendan Shusterman, Aisle 1, Challenger Deep
2:00–3:00pm, Gordon Korman, Aisle 1, Masterminds
2:00–3:00pm, Julie Murphy, Aisle 2, Dumplin’ galleys
3:00–4:00pm, Becky Albertalli, Aisle 1, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

You don’t want to miss our coupon in the aisle by aisle guide, either! It points you to our booth for a free copy of BONE GAP, by Laura Ruby (*while supplies last), and a chance to enter to win a piece of framed original art by Jef Czekaj, from his upcoming picture book, AUSTIN, LOST IN AMERICA.

We can’t wait to see y’all!

 

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9. KidLit Author Events April 8-15

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YOU’RE NOT TOO LATE! There is still time to register for the SCBWI Houston Conference: CraftQuest! If you’ve ever wondered about whether writing for children and teens is right for you, come to our conference. We have editors, literary agents, authors, illustrators, an art director and a poet laureate to help put you on the right path. Join us for a wonderful, exciting weekend!

This year’s BIG Ya event is hereTEENBOOKCON! The organizers have put together a fabulous event with twenty-eight authors.

April 11, Saturday, 9:00 AM-5:00 PMTeenBookCon
Alief Taylor High School
7555 Howell Sugar Land RoadHouston
TeenBookCon
FREE!

This years TeenBookCon features Gayle Forman as Opening Speaker and Ally Carter and David Levithan as Closing Speakers, plus a fantastic lineup of 28 YA and Graphic Novel authors:

Panels include:

The Secrets that Bind Us: Lindsay Cummings, Ally Carter, Justine Larbalastier, Henry Turner, Maureen Johnson

The Hardest Thing: Kevin Emerson, Aisha Saeed, Elizabeth Wein, Gayle Forman, Jason Reynolds

Reality Need Not Apply: Lydia Kang, Megan Miranda, Kristen Simmons, Scott Westerfeld, Tommy Wallach

Magical Mayhem: Josephine Angelini, Sarah Cross, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Rachel Hartman, Joe Shine, Leslye J. Walton

Fight the Good Fight: George O’Connor, Jen Wang

The Truth About Love: Alexis Bass, Susane Colasanti, Joy Preble, David Levithan, Jennifer Mathieu

Blue Willow Bookshop is the official bookseller of TeenBookCon.  All featured authors’ books will be available for purchase all day.  Buy books at the festival and have them signed by your favorite authors at the end of the day! Your receipt from Blue Willow will also entitle you to bring 2 additional books from home to be signed by the authors as well.

April 14-May 19, Tuesdays, 6:00 PM
Writespace
Adrienne Perry: Writers of Color Workshop
Cost for 6-week Workshop: $245

Over the last few decades, organizations designed to support and promote the work of writers of color have emerged across the country to encourage writers of color to take risks, resist stereotypes (in ourselves, others, and in our writing), and creat poems, stories, novels, and essays that speak to the range of our experience as human beings. This workshop shares these intentions. While no single feature can capture the experience and identity of a human being, writers of color—of all levels, and from all genres and backgrounds—have the opportunity to thrive in workshop experiences where their many, varied voices are welcomed and seen to enrich the workshop’s diverse worldview. We will read the work of poets and fiction writers of color, including our own. This workshop is open to writers of all races typically underrepresented in American literature. We will study the craft of prose and poetry, whether literary fiction or slam or sci-fi, consider what the work is trying to say, and explore what possibilities it can open up for our writing. As a special treat, Trinidadian author Lynn Joseph will visit our workshop via Skype to supplement our conversations with an international view of craft and community considerations specific to writers of color. Expect to come away with fierce new work, as well as a renewed sense of the power found through community.

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10. Best Selling Young Adult Books | April 2015

With so many strong novels on this list, everything remains the same on our hand-picked list from the Best Selling Young Adult list—including The Children's Book Review's number one best selling young adult book is The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy, a classic must-read for all Greek mythology fans.

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11. KidLit Author Events Jan. 6-20, 2015

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Happy New Year!

The Houston SCBWI spring conference is now open for registration! If you are interested in finding out about writing or illustrating literature for children and young adults, this conference is exactly what you need. There will be three literary agents: Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency, Molly Jaffa of Folio Literary Management, and John Cusick of Greenhouse Literary; two editors from closed houses (meaning they do not accept unagented submissions): Annie Berger of HarperCollins and Wendy Loggia of Random House; and Random House art director Isabel Warren-Lynch. Our Keynote speaker will be author/illustrator Kelly Light. Join us!

If you’re on the west side of town, you might enjoy stopping by Blue Willow Bookshop this Saturday morning at 10:00. The cast of Stratford High School’s production of Bye Bye Birdie will be there performing  hits from the show. This is a fundraiser for the Stratford Playhouse, so bring your shopping list! The show opens Thursday, Jan. 29th and runs until Saturday, Feb 7th.Tickets and more information are available at shsplayhouse.org.

This week’s events:

January 7, Wednesday, 7;00 PM THIS SHATTERED WORLD by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Blue Willow Bookshop
Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, YA Authors

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner will discuss and sign THIS SHATTERED WORLD (Disney), the newest in the STARBOUND series for young adults. In THIS SHATTERED WORLD, Jubilee Chase (a.k.a. Lee) and Flynn Cormac should never have met. Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents. Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. His sister died in the original uprising against the powerful corporate conglomerate that rules Avon with an iron fist. These corporations make their fortune by terraforming uninhabitable planets across the universe and recruiting colonists to make the planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion. Desperate for any advantage against the military occupying his home, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as his prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape base together, caught between two sides in a senseless war. Will they survive?

January 12, Monday, 5:00 PM BLUE MOON by James Ponti
Blue Willow Bookshop
James Ponti, MG Author

James Ponti will discuss and sign the books in his DEAD CITY series for middle grade readers. DEAD CITY and BLUE MOON (Aladdin) are the first two books in the Aladdin Middle Grade series about Molly Bigelow and the Omegas, a super-secret society charged with policing and protecting the undead of New York City.

When Molly Bigelow discovered that zombies shared New York with humans, she didn’t think life could get more shocking. Then she learned her mother was once one of the greatest zombie killers ever—and she discovered her dead mother is not technically dead (although she isn’t alive, either). Molly’s efforts to keep these secrets and to help her Omega team track down the identity of the original thirteen zombies takes her from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Her loyalties to friends and family will be put to the test. And her life will be changed in ways she never could have imagined.

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12. Candlewick Prize Pack with 6 of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Young Adult Books

Enter to win a prize pack with 6 of the listed Candlewick titles from TIME Magazine's Top 100 Young Adult Books. Giveaway begins January 15, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends January 31, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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13. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events Jan. 20-27

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I’m sorry I missed posting last week’s events. They were wonderful, so to avoid more shame, I won’t mention any more about them. (Hides head in paper bag.) But look what we’ve got this week!

Please remember to check the bookstores’ websites for the most up-to-date information!

January 22, Thursday, 7:00 PM THE LIVING by Matt de la Pena
Blue Willow Bookshop
Matt de la Pena, YA Author

Matt de la Pena will discuss and sign his fifth novel, THE LIVING (Ember). In this Pura Belpre Author Honor Award novel, Shy takes a summer job to make some money. In a few months on a luxury cruise liner, he’ll rake in the tips and be able to help his mom and sister out with bills. And how bad can it be? Bikinis, free food, maybe even a girl or two—every cruise has different passengers, after all. But everything changes when the Big One hits. Shy is only weeks out at sea when an earthquake more massive than ever before recorded hits California, and his life is forever changed.

The earthquake is only the first disaster. Suddenly it’s a fight to survive for those left living.

January 23, Friday, 6:00 PMFIREFIGHT by Brandon Sanderson
Murder By the Book
Brandon Sanderson, MG Author

Internationally best-selling author Brandon Sanderson will sign and discuss FIREFIGHT (Delacorte). In this sequel to the #1 bestseller STEELHEART:
Newcago is free.
They told David it was impossible, that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet Steelheart–invincible, immortal, unconquerable—is dead. And he died by David’s hand.
Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And no one in Newcago can give him answers.
Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as the borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic Regalia, Babylon Restored is flooded and miserable, but David is sure it’s the path that will lead him to what he needs to find. Entering a city oppressed by a High Epic despot is risky, but David’s willing to take the gamble. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic—Firefight. And now he will go on a quest darker and even more dangerous than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.

January 23, Friday, 4:00 PM KREMLIN KERFUFFLE: KOSHKI OF THE CIA by George Arnold
January 24, Saturday, 10:00 AM
January 25, Sudday, 10:00 AM
Barnes & Noble, Vanderbilt Square
George Arnold, MG Author

Author George Arnold signs his book for young readers, KREMLIN KERFUFFLE: KOSHKI OF THE CIA (Eakin Press). In this seventh story in the Cats of the CIA, Buzzer Louis, Cincinnati the dancing pig, Dusty Louise, and the kitten twins—Luigi and Luisa—are dispatched to Moscow to help the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) track down the opium smuggling panda from China, Ar-Chee. In Moscow, our secret agents confront a spy-turned-traitor, turned-patriot named Natasha, who presents an ongoing puzzle for them. With the help of Boris Alexandrovich, head of the FSB, and Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, our heroes set a trap for the panda. A trap designed by Luigi and Luisa that’s sure to snare Ar-Chee.

In the process of tracking down Ar-Chee, the heroes learn to speak considerable Russian. You will, too, with a 750-word and–phrase vocabulary and pronunciation guide in Russian, built right into the story.

January 24, Saturday, 2:00 PM SILLY SHOES: POEMS TO MAKE YOU SMILE by Lawson Gow
Blue Willow Bookshop
Lawson Gow, Children’s Poet

Lawson Gow, author of SILLY SHOES (Bright Sky Press), will meet and greet customers. The world can seem so serious, and sometimes people just can’t think of a reason to smile. SILLY SHOES, a collection of whimsical, endearing poems, gives kids just the tickle that’s needed. Life is good, and SILLY SHOES reminds us of the color and fun that surrounds us, if we’re willing to look. No matter what’s going on, Lawson Gow proves that there are always things to smile about if you just put on your silly shoes and tie them up tight!

January 24, Saturday, 2:00 PM THE PRIOR by Katie Lea Yates
Katy Budget Books
Katie Lea Yates, YA Author

KBB welcomes back Katie Lea Yates as she discusses and signs her young adult book, THE PRIOR (Rocking Horse Publishing LLC), sequel to THE PROVIDER, a huge hit with both the young adult and middle grade book clubs last summer.

Please visit KBB’s Event page for important information.

 

 

 

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14. WINTER 2015 NEW VOICES SNEAK PEEK

Happy 2015 to you! To start the year off right, we’d like to introduce our New Voices picks for Winter 2015. These debut novels entertained us, enriched us, intrigued us, and made us so excited to witness the beginnings of these authors’ sure-to-be-stellar writing careers.

Click on the links below to read the first chapter of each title, and make sure to keep an eye on these fantastic authors. We can’t wait to see what they do next!

Blackbird Fly

BLACKBIRD FLY, by Erin Entrada Kelly, follows twelve-year-old Apple Yengko as she grapples with being different, with friends and backstabbers, and with following her dreams. Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to America from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods, makes mistakes with her English, and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” But it becomes unbearable in eighth grade, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple’s class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is. Read the first chapter here!

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly

THE KEEPERS: THE BOX AND THE DRAGONFLY, by Ted Sanders, is the first in a four-book middle-grade fantasy series about Horace F. Andrews, a quiet boy who discovers he possesses a power that can change worlds. When a sign leads Horace underground to the House of Answers, a hidden warehouse full of mysterious objects, he unfortunately finds only questions. What is this curious place? Who are the strange, secretive people who entrust him with a rare and immensely powerful gift? And what is he to do with it? From the enormous, sinister man shadowing him to the gradual mastery of his new-found abilities to his encounters with Chloe—a girl who has an astonishing talent of her own—Horace follows a path that puts the pair in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between two warring factions in which every decision they make could have disastrous consequences. Read the first chapter here!

No Parking at the End Times

NO PARKING AT THE END TIMES, by Bryan Bliss, is a thoughtful and moving story about losing everything—and about what you will do for the people you love. Abigail’s parents never should have made that first donation to that end-of-times preacher. Or the next, or the next. They shouldn’t have sold their house. Or packed Abigail and her twin brother, Aaron, into their old van to drive across the country to San Francisco, to be there for the “end of the world.” Because now they’re living in their van. And Aaron is full of anger, disappearing to who-knows-where every night. Their family is falling apart. All Abigail wants is to hold them together, to get them back to the place where things were right. But is that too big a task for one teenage girl? Read the first chapter here!

Red Queen

RED QUEEN, by Victoria Aveyard, is a sweeping fantasy about seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose latent magical powers draw her into the dangerous world of the elite ruling class. Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with Red blood serve the Silver elite, whose silver blood gifts them with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the King, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the King forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything to use her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal. Read the first chapter here!

Little Peach

LITTLE PEACH, by Peggy Kern, is the gritty and riveting story of a runaway who comes to New York City and is lured into prostitution by a manipulative pimp. When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: She is alone and out of options. Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels. But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution. It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition. This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive. Read the first chapter here.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, by Becky Albertalli, is an incredibly funny and poignant twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming-out story—wrapped in a geek romance. Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: If he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing with, will be jeopardized. With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. Read the first chapter here!

Check back here for “Opening the Book” Q&A’s with the authors and insightful words from the editors of these fantastic New Voices!

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15. Fifteen Diverse Authors You Should Resolve to Read in 2015

A new year means a new chance to get to all the things you didn’t get to last year. And by “things,” what we really mean is BOOKS. We also know that reading diversely doesn’t happen by accident; it takes a concerted effort to read a wide range of books.

So, we thought we’d help on both counts by offering up a list of the diverse authors we’re resolving to read in 2015. Some are new, and some have just been on our list for years. This is the year we plan to get to them – perhaps this will be your year, too?

1. Valynne E. Maetani, Ink and Ashes

INK AND ASHES coverInk and Ashes is Tu Books’ first New Visions Award winner! This debut novel follows a Japanese American teen named Claire Takata. After finding a letter from her deceased father, she opens a door to the past that she should have left closed.

2. Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies and Rose Eagle 

The award-winning Killer of Enemies follows seventeen-year-old Apache monster hunter Lozen in a post-apocalyptic world.

The prequel, Rose Eagle, follows seventeen-year-old Rose of the Lakota tribe.  After her aunt has a vision, Rose goes on a quest to the Black Hills and finds healing for her people.

3. Jacqueline Woodson, Brown Girl Dreaming

Everyone’s talking about Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir in verse about her childhood in the American South and in Brooklyn that recently won the 2014 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. But have you read it yet?

Her other novels include Miracle’s Boys and If You Come Softly.

4. Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

 Junot Diaz’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel follows Oscar, an overweight, ghetto Dominican American nerd as he dreams of becoming the next J.R.R. Tolkein. This book is filled with Dominican history, magical realism, science-fiction and comic book references.

5. I.W. Gregorio, None of the Above 

In this debut novel, Kristen, has a seemingly ideal life. She’s just been voted homecoming queen and is a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college. Everything unravels when Kristen and her boyfriend decide to take it to the next level, and Kristen finds out she’s intersex. Somehow her secret is leaked to the whole school.

6. Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones

This novel covers the Parsley Massacre of 1937 in Dominican Republic. Anabelle Desir and her lover Sebastien, decide they will get married at the end of the cane season and return to Haiti. When the Generalissimo Trujillo calls for an ethnic cleansing of the country’s Haitians, Anabelle and Sebastien struggle to survive.

 7. Eric Gansworth, If I Ever Get Out of Here

Lewis “Shoe” Blake, a boy growing in the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in upsate New York in 1975, isn’t used to white people like George Haddonfield being nice to him. Lewis is also the target of the bully Eddie Reininger. Will George still be Lewis’s friend when he finds out the truth of how Lewis actually lives?

8. Alex Sanchez, Rainbow Boys

Alex Sanchez’s debut novel follows three boys, Jason Carrillo, Kyle Meeks, and Nelson Glassman, as they struggle with their sexualities and their friendships.

9. Natsuo Kirino, Out

Masako Katori lives with her dead-beat husband in the suburbs of Tokyo, where she makes boxed lunches in a factory. After violently strangling her husband, she uses the help of coworkers to cover her crime.

10. Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Summer of the Mariposas and Under the Mesquite

Summer of the Mariposas is a retelling of the Odyssey set in Mexico. When Odilia and her sisters find the body of a dead man in the Rio Grande, they decide to take his body back to Mexico.

In Under the Mesquite Lupita is an aspiring actress and poet, and the oldest of 8 siblings. When Lupita’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, Lupita struggles to keep her family together.

11. Naoko Uehashi, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, which is set in a fantasy Asian-inspired world, inspired an anime of the same name. Balsa is a body guard who is hired by  Prince Chagum’s mother to protect him from his father, the emperor, who wants him dead. A strange spirit possesses Prince Chagum that may be a threat to the kingdom.

12. Nnendi Okorafor, Akata Witch

American-born Sunny is an albino girl living in Nigeria. Although she doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere, Sunny discovers her latent magical abilities and joins 3 other students to learn how to control her powers. Sunny and her friends have to capture a career criminal who uses magic as well.

13. Zadie Smith, White Teeth

White Teeth focuses on the intertwining stories of two wartime buddies living in London with their families, and addresses topics such as assimilation and immigration in the U.K.’s cultural hub.

14. Aisha Saeed, Written in the Stars

Naila’s conservative immigrant parents say that they will let her wear her hair how she wants, choose what she will study and be when she grows up, but they will choose her husband. When Naila breaks this rule by falling in love with a boy named Saif, her parents take her to Pakistan to reconnect her with her roots. But Naila’s parents’ plans have changed, and they’ve arranged a marriage for her.

15. Alex Gino, George

Everyone thinks George is a boy, but George knows that she’s a girl. After her teacher announces that the class play is Charlotte’s Web, George hatches a plan with her best Kelly, so that everyone can know who she is once and for all.

1 Comments on Fifteen Diverse Authors You Should Resolve to Read in 2015, last added: 1/29/2015
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16. KidLit Author Illustrator Events Feb. 3-7

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I had a great time talking with SCBWI-Houston last night about one of my favorite subjects, the SCBWI Blueboards. I hope to see many of our members there soon!

SUPER STRUCTURE: THE KEY TO UNLEASHING THE POWER OF STORY by James Scott BellWhile revising my current work-in-progress this week, I’m going to try out the advice in a new craft book from James Scott Bell. I’ve heard him speak twice at the Northwest Houston RWA Lonestar Conference, and found his advice to be insightful and inspiring both times. His new book is SUPER STRUCTURE: THE KEY TO UNLEASHING THE POWER OF STORY. I can’t wait to see what exciting tips  this book has in store!

Here’s what’s going on around Houston this week. As always, please check the bookshops’ websites for the latest, most accurate information, or better yet, go in and say hello!

February 4, Wednesday, 5:00 PM TOMBQUEST: BOOK OF THE DEAD
Blue Willow Bookshop
Michael Northrop, MG Author

Michael Northrop will discuss and sign TOMBQUEST: BOOK OF THE DEAD, the first book in his new series for middle graders. Nothing can save Alex Sennefer’s life. That’s what all the doctors say, but his mother knows it’s not true. She knows that the Lost Spells of the Egyptian Book of the Dead can crack open a door to the afterlife and pull her son back from the brink. But when she uses the spells the Death Walkers are also brought back to life, and an ancient evil has been unleashed. Mummies are awakening. New York is overrun with scorpions. And worst of all for Alex, his mom and the Lost Spells have both disappeared. He and his best friend, Ren, will do anything to find his mom and save the world…even if that means going head-to-head with a Death Walker who has been plotting his revenge for 3,000 years.

February 7, Saturday, 5:00 PM LOVE YOU FOREVER by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw
Archway Gallery
Sheila McGraw & Barbara Farnsworth, Children’s Authors

February 7 through March 5, Archway Gallery presents an exhibition, Love You Forever and Beyond: The Children’s Book Art of Sheila McGraw. A reception and artist’s talk will be held on Saturday, February 7. There will be complimentary valet parking and catered refreshments. Illustrator Sheila McGraw will be signing many of her popular books along with Indie author Barbara Farnsworth who wrote WHERE THE LOST THINGS GO, illustrated by Sheila McGraw. Farnsworth and McGraw will be available at the reception to discuss their publishing experiences with guests. Books will be on sale throughout the show.

February 7, Saturday, 7:00 PM THE SCUPLTOR by Scott McCloud
Brazos Bookstore
Scott McCloud, YA Author/Illustrator

Meet author/illustrator Scott McCloud. He wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work. In THE SCULPTOR (First Second), David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn’t making it any easier!

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17. Sway, by Kat Spears | Book Review

Kat Spears debut novel is, quite simply, a delight. It has all the ingredients for an engaging and witty read, laced with honesty and insight that’s refreshingly real.

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18. KidLit Author Events Feb. 18-23

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Sorry I forgot to post this yesterday! It was a busy critique day :)

Here’s what’s going on this week for readers and writers:

February 21, Saturday, 10:00 AM THE EIGHTH DAY by Dianne Salerni
Writespace
Writers’ Workshop, Diane Salerni
Cost: FREE

Houston YA/MG Writers presents a free workshop with YA Author Dianne Salerni: Crafting A Series for Teens And Tweens

February 21, Saturday, 1:00-4:00 PM
Writespace
Writers’ Workshop with Cassandra Rose Clarke
Cost: $30.00 – $45.00

Writespace presents Crafting Effective Prose. All stories require fascinating characters and a compelling plot to be successful. But how do we reveal those characters and stories? Movies get images, music, and sound. Comic books get art and writing. Prose fiction, though, just gets words.

In this workshop, we’ll examine these powerful building blocks of fiction by focusing on the importance of effective prose. How can the prose of a story highlight and enhance classic story elements like character, structure, and plot arcs? How many metaphors are too many?  Should we all just be trying to write like Hemingway? Through a combination of writing exercises and discussion of classic examples of effective prose, we’ll answer these questions and more.

February 21, Saturday, 9:00 AM.-4:00 PM Rhyme Schemer by K.A. HoltTHE XYZsOF BEING WICKED by Lara Chapman
Lone Star College – Montgomery, Conroe, TX
Montgomery County Book Festival

The Montgomery County Book Festival is an annual free event for all ages. YA author Ellen Hopkins will give the keynote address. There will be three author discussion panels featuring Texas children’s/YA Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood, by Varsha BajajBALANCE KEPERS: Lindsey Cummingsauthors Dianna H. Aston, Kari Anne Holt, Lara Chapman, Lindsay Cummings, Emily McKay, Michelle Madow, Meg Gardiner, Kim O’Brien, Joy Preble, A.G. Howard, Victoria Scott, Beth Fehlbaum, Jennifer Mathieu, Julie Murphy, Varsha Bajaj, Lindsey Lane, C.C. Hunter, Kristin Rae, Rachel Harris and Mari Mancusi. For a full list of participating authors, please see the festival’s website. Topics being discussed include romance,UNHINGED: A.G.HowardBIG FAT DISASTER: Beth Fehlbaum mysteries, writing children’s literature, graphic novels and censorship. There will also be two workshops for writers/illustrators: Creating Comics: Words Pictures Comics! and How to Engage Readers with the Teams Writing Strategy. Murder By the Book will be on hand to sell the authors’ books.


WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN: Kristin RaeTHE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE: Jennifer MAthieuThe A-Word by Joy PrebleEVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN: Lindsey LaneTHE SECRET DIAMOND SISTERS: Michelle Madow

February 21, Saturday, 10:00 AMThe Neptune Project: Polly Holyoke
Blue Willow Bookshop
Polly Holyoke , MG Author

Polly Holyoke will discuss and sign her novel THE NEPTUNE PROJECT. Nere has never understood why she feels so much more comfortable and confident in water than on land, but everything falls into place when Nere learns that she is one of a group of kids who, unbeknownst to themselves, have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of “The Neptune Project” will be able to build a better future under the sea, safe from the barren country’s famine, wars, and harsh laws.

But there are some very big problems: no one asked Nere if she wanted to be a science experiment, the other Neptune kids aren’t exactly the friendliest bunch, and in order to reach the safe haven of the Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim through hundreds of miles of dangerous waters, relying only on their wits, dolphins, and each other to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids…dead or alive.

Fierce battles and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friends race to safety in this action-packed aquatic adventure.

February 22, Sunday, 1:00 PM The Orphan Sky, by Ella Leya
Barnes & Noble, River Oaks Shopping Center
Ella Leya, YA Author

Join us young adult author Ella Leya for a reading and signing of her new novel. Set at the crossroads of Turkish, Persian and Russian cultures under the red flag of Communism in the late 1970s,  THE ORPHAN SKY reveals one young woman’s struggle to reconcile her ideals with the corrupt world around her, and to decide whether to betray her country or her heart.

Leila is a young classical pianist who dreams of winning international competitions and bringing awards to her beloved country Azerbaijan. She is also a proud daughter of the Communist Party. When she receives an assignment from her communist mentor to spy on a music shop suspected of traitorous Western influences, she does it eagerly, determined to prove her worth to the Party.

But Leila didn’t anticipate the complications of meeting Tahir, the rebellious painter who owns the music shop. His jazz recordings, abstract art, and subversive political opinions crack open the veneer of the world she’s been living in. Just when she begins to fall in love with both the West and Tahir, her comrades force her to make an impossible choice.

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19. Kidlit Author Events Feb. 24-March 2

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Wish Girl

Happy Book Birthday

to

Nikki Loftin’s

WISH GIRL!

Shout out your congratulations to Nikki on facebook and twitter then take a look at her interview on Middle Grade Mafia!

 

Now for this week’s events:

February 24, Tuesday, 6:30 PMUNLEASHED: Sophie Jordan
Murder By the Book
Sophie Jordan & Victoria Scott, YA Authors

Sophie Jordan will sign and discuss her newest young adult novel UNLEASHED  (Harper Teen) and Victoria Scott will sign and discuss SALT & STONE (Scholastic).

UNLEASHED is the romantic, high-stakes sequel to Sophie Jordan’s bestselling UNINVITED. Davy has spent the last few months trying to come to terms with the fact that she tested positive for the kill gene HTS (also known as Homicidal Tendency Syndrome). She swore she would not let it change her, and that her DNA did not define her . . . but then she killed a man.

Now on the run, Davy must decide whether she’ll be ruled by the kill gene or if she’ll follow her heart and fight for her right to live free. But with her own potential for violence lying right beneath the surface, Davy doesn’t even know if she can trust herself.

SALT & STONE: Victoria ScottSALT & STONE is Victoria Scott‘s sequel to FIRE & BLOOD. In FIRE & FLOOD, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and a terrifying march across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can’t stop–and in SALT & STONE, Tella will have to face the unseen dangers of the ocean, the breathless cold of a mountain, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone’s keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you’d relied on most suddenly isn’t there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the beginning of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the fourth and final part of the race, just forty-one are left . . . and only one can win.

February 28, Saturday, 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Houston Authors Bash
FREE! But registration is required: Eventbrite

The Houston Authors Bash is a book signing event bringing indie and traditionally published authors together. This is a fundraising event brought to you by Wines and Labels Productions. The event will include over 100 authors, including local YA/MG favorites Rose Garcia, Dax Varley and RL NOLEN!  You can bring your own books to sign, but the authors’ books will also be for sale at the event. If you are bringing your own books, please know that you can bring one book for each one that you buy at the event.

FINAL STAND: Rose GarciaBOOGERMAN'S HOUSE: Dax VarleyTHE DRY: RL Nolen

 

 

 

 

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20. Book Birthdays!

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Happy birthday this week to four YA novels!

PAINLESS (Albert Whitman & Co.) by S.A. Harazin

THE STORY SPINNER (Simon & Schuster) by Becky Wallace

DEAD TO ME (Disney Hyperion) by Mary McCoy

MOSQUITOLAND (Viking Penguin) by David Arnold

PAINLESS by S.A. HarazinPAINLESS: A first kiss. Falling in love. Going to prom. These are all normal things that most teenagers experience. Except for 17-year-old David Hart. His life is anything but normal and more difficult than most. Because of the disease that wracks his body, David is unable to feel pain. He has congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis–or CIPA for short. One of only a handful of people in the world who suffer from CIPA, David can’t do the things every teenager does. He might accidentally break a limb and not know it. If he stands too close to a campfire, he could burn his skin and never feel it. He can’t tell if he has a fever and his temperature is rising. Abandoned by his parents, David now lives with his elderly grandmother who is dying. When David’s legal guardian tells him that he needs to move into an assisted living facility as he cannot live alone, David is determined to prove him wrong. He creates a bucket list, meets a girl with her own wish list, and then sets out to find his parents. All David wants to do is grow old, beat the odds, find love, travel the world, and see something spectacular. And he still wants to find his parents. While he still can.

THE STORY SPINNER: THE STORYSPINNER by Becky WallaceIn a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

DEAD TO ME: Don’t believe anything they say.”

Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her–and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.

When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn’t a kid anymore, and this time she won’t let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets–and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie’s attacker behind bars–if Alice can find her first. And she isn’t the only one looking.

MOSQUITOLAND by David ArnoldMOSQUITOLAND: I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

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21. KidLit Author Events March 10-17

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Abby Spencer ppbI saw a lot of great reader and writer news on the  SCBWI-Houston newsletter this month. Varsha Bajaj’s debut MG novel ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLLYWOOD (a Cybil’s Award finalist) is now available in a paperback edition which comes with a bonus of six henna tattoos! I also discovered a great blog about middle grade historical fiction, Mad About MG History.  Today’s post Women’s History is History, is by SCBWI-Houston member, children’s coordinator at Brazoria County Library System, and soon-to-be debut author (!) Sara K. Joiner.

Here’s what’s going on around Houston this week. As always, please check the host’s website for the most accurate information.

March 10, Tuesday, 5:00 PM COLONIAL MADNESS by Jo Whittmore
Blue Willow Bookshop
2 MG Authors: Blast from the Past Tour

It’s the Blast from the Past tour with Middle Grade authors Jo Whittemore, COLONIAL MADNESS, and Cory Putnam Oakes, DINOSAUR BOY.

In COLONIAL MADNESS, Tori Porter is best friends with her mom, and most of the time it’s awesome. Not many girls have a mom who’d take them to a graveyard for hide-and-seek or fill the bathtub with ice cream for the world’s biggest sundae. But sometimes Tori wishes her mom would act a little more her age. Thanks to her mom’s poor financial planning, they are in danger of losing their business and their home. But an unusual opportunity arises in a bizarre contest put on by an eccentric relative: Whoever can survive two weeks in the Archibald Family’s colonial manor will inherit the property. The catch? Contestants have to live as in colonial times: no modern conveniences, no outside help, and daily tests of their abilities to survive challenges of the time period. Tori thinks it’s the perfect answer to their debt problems, but she and her mom aren’t the only ones interested. The other family members seem to be much more prepared for the two weeks on the manor—and it doesn’t help that Mom doesn’t seem to be taking the contest seriously. Do they stand a chance?

Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putman OakesIn DINOSAUR BOY, it isn’t a complete surprise when Sawyer sprouts spikes and a tail before the start of fifth grade. After all, his grandfather was part stegosaurus. Despite the Principal’s Zero Tolerance Policy, Sawyer becomes a bully magnet, befriended only by Elliot aka “Gigantor” and the weird new girl. When the bullies start disappearing, Sawyer is relieved-until he discovers a secret about the principal that’s more shocking than Dino DNA. The bullies are in for a galactically horrible fate…and it’s up to Sawyer and his friends to rescue the day.

March 12, Thursday, 7:00 PM Vanishing Girls
Blue Willow Bookshop
Lauren Oliver, YA Author

Author of New York Times and international bestselling novels Lauren Oliver will discuss and sign VANISHING GIRLS, her new book for young adults.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

CRAFTQUEST 2015: Illustration by Diandra Mae

March 14, Saturday, 9:00 AM – NOON
Tracy Gee Community Center
Diandra Mae, SCBWI-Houston Illustrator Coordinator

In preparation for the upcoming SCBWI Houston Spring Conference on April 18-19, our chapter’s Illustrator Coordinator Diandra Mae will be holding a Portfolio Prep day. Please bring whatever work you intend to display in your portfolio, a portfolio purchased for the conference (if you have one), and any questions you have regarding illustrator opportunities at the conference.

There is a private group for SCBWI illustrator members on Facebook. It’s a place for discussion as well as critique. If you are a local illustrator, SCBWI member, and wish to participate in the group, follow this link and request to join. Once SCBWI membership has been confirmed, you will be added.

March 14, Saturday, 1:00 PMMattie Has Wheels
Barnes & Noble, Westheimer
Meena Dhanjal, PB Author

Meena Dhanjal presents her picture book MATTIE HAS WHEELS. Mattie is a little girl with a strong love for life. She is a young girl that uses a wheelchair. Nothing stops Mattie from being a normal kid. Mattie loves to play basketball and reading. She is surrounded by great friends and a wonderful family.

March 14, Saturday, 1:00 PM THE ASSASSIN'S CURSE: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Writespace
Cassandre Clarke: Writing Workshop
Cost: $30.00 – $45.00

TENSION: HOW TO BUILD IT, KEEP IT, AND INCREASE IT:
Cassandra Clarke, author of the YA novel THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE, leads this three-hour workshop discussing the elements of tension, from cliff hangers to pacing, from character motivations to story stakes. The class will dissect high-tension examples from published stories and participate in several writing exercises in order to put these elements to work. Bring a laptop or pen and paper and be prepared to write, share, and try new things! Attendees will receive a $15 gift certificate to Cassandra Clarke’s April 22nd-May 27th Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop.

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22. KidLit Author Events March 17-24

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TEN EASTER EGGS by Vijaya Bodach; Illustrated by Laura LoganWhat a lovely week for Spring Break! I hope everyone gets a chance to get outside and enjoy this fabulous weather! Before we get going on this week’s events, I want to share a fun little springtime book, TEN EASTER EGGS, by Vijaya Bodach, illustrated by Laura Logan.

From Scholastic: In this sweet story, clever die-cuts, touchable plastic pieces, and fuzzy flocking all come together in a rhyming adventure all about Easter traditions. Follow and count along as ten quiet Easter eggs become ten colorful chicks ready to celebrate the holiday! A fun, engaging novelty story just right for the littlest of readers.

This week:

March 21, Saturday, 1:00 PMEVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN by Lindsey Lane
Blue Willow Bookshop
YA Panel with Lindsey Lane, Jennifer Mathieu, & Varsha Bajaj

A great YA panel hits Houston when author Lindsey Lane chats with authors Jennifer Mathieu (THE TRUTH ABOUT ALICE) and Varsha Bajaj (ABBY SPENCER GOES TO BOLLYWOOD) about EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN, Lindsey’s novel for young adults. Told in a series of first-person narratives from people who knew a missing teenager, EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN explores themes of loneliness, connectedness, and the role we play in creating our own realities.

When high school junior Tommy Smythe goes missing, everyone has a theory about what happened to him. He was an odd kid, often deeply involved in particle physics, so maybe he just got distracted and wandered off. He was last seen at a pullout off the highway, so maybe someone snatched him. Tommy believes that everything is possible, and that until something can be proven false, it may be true. So as long as Tommy’s whereabouts are undetermined, he could literally be anywhere.

March 21, Saturday, 1:00-4:00 PM Writespace
Writespace
Writing Workshop: Benjamin Rybeck
COST: $30-$45

Character Development: Pushing the Story Forward: Everyone has something they want—to find a lost dog, to snag the jewels from a bank heist, to attract a romantic partner—but the reasons behind these desires are complex, suggesting our past experiences in rich ways.

In fiction, giving your protagonists clear goals pushes the story forward, but it also helps you develop complicated characters that will move your readers. Is your character striving for a promotion? Perhaps she’s also working through feelings of worthlessness in her childhood. Is your character searching for a friend’s child after a disastrous day of babysitting? Maybe he’s also confronting his own failings as a man who abandoned his own son years earlier. All great characters contain a mix of these desires—some literal and immediate, others figurative and lingering.

In this workshop, we will look at familiar characters from short fiction and even film to identify these literal and figurative objectives, and a series of in-class prompts will help you use these lessons in your current projects—and also as inspiration for your next story.

Attendees will receive a $20 gift certificate to Benjamin Rybeck’s six-week “Short Story” workshop, which begins March 28.

March 20, Friday, NOON-9:00 PM Writespace
Writespace
Open House
FREE

Writespace is happy to announce their first Open House and Faculty Reading event! On Friday afternoon, join a free write-in complete with writing prompts hosted by Layla Al-Bedawi, then stick around for a free critique session with director Elizabeth White-Olsen. If you’d like to receive free feedback from a professional editor, please bring along the first two to five pages of a work of fiction, poetry, personal essay, or memoir you’ve written, as well as seven copies for the group! Afterward, enjoy a spontaneous poetry lesson from Writespace’s brilliant and wonderfully unpredictable poetry instructor BJ Love.

From 5:30-7:30 PM there will be a cocktail hour and public reception (Free to the public, 21+) with faculty readings from K.J.Russell, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Katie Bagley, Benjamin Rybeck, B.J. Love.

Free Gift: $15 gift certificate to every person who walks in our door either day. Here’s a link to the event on facebook.

March 21, Saturday, 4:30-9:00 PM Writespace
Writespace
Open House
FREE

The Open House celebration continues! Saturday from 4:30-5:30 PM, Writespace director Elizabeth White-Olsen will give a free mini-workshop on “How to Wow Readers on Page One.” Afterward, there will be a meet and greet for interested parents and teens of the Young Writers Program. Meet SAT/ACT and college admissions essay instructor Jessica Capelle and young writers creative writing instructors Elizabeth White-Olsen and Adrienne Perry. At 6:30 there will be an electric violin performance: “Our Simple, Spacious Envelope” by Shepherd School of Music student Nigel Deane.

Stick around for faculty readings from Adrienne Perry, Joy Preble, Jess Capelle, BJ Love, Matthew Salesses, and Elizabeth White-Olsen. Before and after the reading, you will have ample opportunity to meet Writespace faculty members and learn about their work. This would be the perfect opportunity to ask them for writing advice! Have a question about the writing process or about what will happen in a workshop led by one of the Writespace teachers? Now is the time to get to know Writespace faculty members and to see whether the teacher you are interested in is someone you can learn from.

Free Gift: $15 gift certificate to every person who walks in our door either day.

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23. Re-Imaging Shakespeare or Creating a Shakespeare Re-Mix

To make re-mixed Shakespeare exciting for young readers as well as older readers, get your hands dirty and have a field day in that Shakespeare toolbox.

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24. Zodiac, by Romina Russell | Book Review

Readers looking for tension, angst, fantastical myths, well-rounded characters, and a very human tale of survival will delight in this quick and engrossing page-turner of a story, sure to inspire the inner-Zodiac in everyone.

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25. KidLit Author Events March 31-April 7

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

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

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

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

Here are the registration details.

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the exciting trailer!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the haunting trailer:

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