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1. KidLit Events Sept. 2-9

Fall events are off and rolling! Here’s what’s going on this week:

September 6, Saturday, 2:00 PMTHE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS by Skylar Dorset
Blue Willow Bookshop
Skylar Dorset, YA Author

Debut author Skylar Dorset will discuss and sign her novel for young adults, THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS. In Selkie’s family, you don’t celebrate birthdays. You don’t talk about birthdays. And you never, ever reveal your birth date. Until now. The instant Selkie blurts out the truth to Ben in the middle of Boston Common, her whole world shatters.

Because her life has been nothing but a lie—an elaborate enchantment meant to conceal the truth: Selkie is a half-faerie princess. And her mother wants her dead.

September 8, Monday, 7:00 PMARMY CAMELS: TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT by Doris Fisher
Tracy Gee Community Center
SCBWI Houston
Doris Fisher, Children’s Author

Doris Fisher, won the Crystal Kite Award for the Texas/Oklahoma Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators region this year for her book, ARMY CAMELS, TEXAS SHIPS OF THE DESERT. Doris will talk a little about her writing journey, so don’t miss hearing her story. Also, local writers who attended the National SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles this month will share what they learned from the many breakout sessions and keynotes.

September 9, Tuesday, 6:00 P.M.A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall
Katy Budget Books
Sandy Hall, YA Author

Teen librarian Sandy Hall signs her debut YA romance novel, A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT, which was selected as the first novel to be published by Swoon Reads, a crowd-sourced teen romance imprint. This sweet romance between two college students is told from 14 different viewpoints. The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it.

Please remember to check the website of the sponsoring bookstore or organization for the most up-to-date information on these events.

 

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2. Win a Copy of STAINED and 7 other YA books!

Enter to win a copy of STAINED and 7 other great YA books! You have 25 days more to enter.

You can win:

STAINED by Cheryl Rainfield







The Caged Graves by Dianne K Salerni







Grunge Gods and Graveyards by Kimberly G Giarratano







Thin Space by Jody Casella







The Headhunters Race by Kimberly Afe







Touching The Surface by Kimberly Sabatini







Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey







Catherine by April Lindner







Good luck!

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3. Alex London guest post, GUARDIAN blog tour, first chapter read, and giveaway!

LONDON-TOUR-60

I LOVE Alex London’s YA dystopian PROXY–it’s one of my favorites and deals with oppression in a fast-moving, emotional and satisfying story–so I’m happy to have him here today to talk about his next book GUARDIAN and invite you to enter his giveaway! If you haven’t read PROXY yet, I suggest you get yourself a copy, and then go read GUARDIAN. (smiling) They make good #WeNeedDiverseBooks reads! PROXY and GUARDIAN have characters of color and LGBT, and are great reads. Take it away, Alex. :)



Alex London
What I wanted to explore with the oppressive systems in PROXY was how the most insidious forms of oppression are often the ones that pass themselves off as freedom. In PROXY’s world, the market gives the illusion of freedom. The powerful think that it’s a person’s choice to go into debt and if they don’t want to pay for what they can’t afford, then that’s their problem. And the powerless in many cased buy into that system because they have to in order to survive, to participate in society in any way and because the other options–making deals with criminals, eking out survival at the fringes of civilization–are pretty horrible options.

The Patrons are just as much trapped by this system as the Proxies, although they get the better end of the deal. Knox could no more drop out of being a patron than Syd can drop out of being a Proxy. He could, of course, be less of a self-centered jerk, but that’s his journey.
So in Proxy, the system is oppression masking itself as the absolute freedom of an unregulated market. It is, essentially, the fantasy of present day neoliberal economics. It’s Ayn Rand’s market ideology taken to extremes.

In GUARDIAN, that system is reversed. It’s a nightmare of collectivism, the kind of economy the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia tried to create.
Essentially, if there was a coherent philosophy behind these books–and I’m not saying there is!–it would be that any system can be become oppressive when it puts its ideological purity above the humans who make it up.

The stories are, at their cores, about real people, real teenagers, asserting their own right to exist with all their contradictions, needs, and desires in the face of merciless ideologies. In the end though, I really just tried to write a gripping tale. The ideas are there, but my loyalty is always going to be to the story.



Thank you, Alex. Read on for chapter one of GUARDIAN, the giveaway, and more about GUARDIAN and Alex London.


GUARDIAN (Proxy, #2) by Alex London
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Hardcover, 352 pages
Publisher: Philomel
Genre: YA / Dystopian / LGBT

The pulse-pounding sequel to Proxy! Inspired by The Whipping Boy and Feed, this adrenaline-fueled thriller will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

In the new world led by the Rebooters, former Proxy Syd is the figurehead of the Revolution, beloved by some and hated by others. Liam, a seventeen-year-old Rebooter, is Syd’s bodyguard and must protect him with his life. But armed Machinists aren’t the only danger.

People are falling ill—their veins show through their skin, they find it hard to speak, and sores erupt all over their bodies. Guardians, the violent enforcers of the old system, are hit first, and the government does nothing to help. The old elites fall next, and in the face of an indifferent government, Syd decides it’s up to him to find a cure . . . and what he discovers leaves him stunned.

This heart-stopping thriller is packed with action, adventure, and heroics. Guardian will leave you breathless until the final page.

A fast-paced, thrill-ride of novel full of non-stop action, heart-hammering suspense and true friendship—just as moving as it is exhilarating. Fans of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series, James Dashner’s Maze Runner, Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, and Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy will be swept away by this story.

Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Goodreads

Author Bio:
Alex London writes books for adults (One Day The Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War), children (Dog Tagsseries; An Accidental Adventure series) and teens (Proxy). At one time a journalist reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, he is now a full time novelist living in Brooklyn, NY, where he can be found wandering the streets talking to his dog, who is the real brains of the operation.


Chapter One – GUARDIAN by Alex London

At night, they disposed of the bodies. There was no ceremony, no ritual, no remembrance.

“They’re human,” some argued.

“They were human,” said others. “Now they’re meat.”

“We have to study the infection,” said the doctor.

“We have to contain it,” said the counselor and gave her orders. “Burn the bodies.”

A work detail was tasked with the burning. One by one, in the dead of night, green uniforms with white masks hauled corpses to the pile. The corpses were webbed with black veins, their entire network of blood vessels visible through the pale skin. Dried blood obscured their faces and each had a single hole in the temple by the eyes, where the killing bolt went in. They were put down like livestock, burned like sacrifices.

As the bodies crackled, the doctor watched the flames, her face half in shadow, half dancing in firelight. “I believe there is a cure for this,” she said.

The counselor, standing beside her, nodded, but did not turn to look her way. “Your cure is worse than the disease.”

“You believe that?”

“It’s the truth. Your way is treason.”

“You’re in denial,” the doctor said. “This is going to get worse if we don’t stop it.”

“It’s a new world, Doctor,” the counselor replied. “We can’t turn back the clock.”

“Even to save people’s lives?”

“These”—the counselor gestured at the bodies—“are not people.”

“If it spreads?”

“Is it spreading?”

The doctor watched the young members of the work detail tossing the bodies on the pyre. They moved with the assurance of youth, the kind of attitude that allowed them to stare infection and death in the face and believe it would never touch them. “I don’t know.”

“It is your job to know.”

“I can hardly understand it. The blood turns against the body. Itching, burning. Then, expulsion. Half of them bleed out.”

“And the other half?”

The doctor clenched her jaw. “They haven’t bled out yet.”

“They are in pain?”

“They can’t communicate, but we have to restrain them to keep them from scratching their skin off with their fingernails.” The doctor sighed. “So, yes, they are in pain.”

“Put them out of their misery,” the counselor ordered.

“But, we can still learn—”

“Those are the orders.” The counselor walked away, two green uniforms trailing her into the jungle. The doctor took off her white smock, pulled the blue gloves from her hands with a loud synthetic snap, and stood before the flames.
She watched her latest failed experiments turn to smoke and ash in the bonfire, every bit of blood boiled away, with all the information it might have contained.

She had ideas, dangerous to share; but if she didn’t find a way, she feared, this sickness would go further than any of them could imagine. She would record a message in case she failed. She hoped that someone would still be alive to receive it.

Sneak Peek Chapters of GUARDIAN

Read the Exclusive 3 Chapters from London’s new release, GUARDIAN.

You can read the short story PUNISHMENT, the PROXY prequel on Wattpad for free right now! Meet Syd, Knox, and Liam (from Guardian) at 15…


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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4. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events July 29-August 4

Our local bookstores are hosting several events this week to keep us reading and out of the heat, plus there may still be room in Houston’s new writers’ workshop venue, Write Space, for this week’s class. Here’s the details:

July 30, Wednesday, 30, 10:00 a.m.  MY BROTHER BOUGHT A PET SNAKE by Deborah Masterson
Katy Budget Books
Deborah Masterson, PB Author/Illustrator

Deborah Masterson joins Storytime to read MY BROTHER BOBBY BOUGHT A PET SNAKE. Bobby buys a pet snake, and now he has a big problem. Can you help him figure out what to do?

Kirkus says, “This cleverly illustrated picture book will have readers pondering their own endings and possibly inventing further adventures for Bobby and Sue.”

August 1, Friday, 3:00-7:00 p.m. THE DRY by Rebecca Nolen
August 2, Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Kroger #017, 1440 Studmont St.
Rebecca Nolen, MG Author

Multi-age group author Rebecca Nolen will be signing books, including her middle grade fantasy, THE DRY. West Virginia, 1895. A deadly dry spell has left the earth parched and souls desperate. Crops are failing. Cities are starving. A missing newspaper man doesn’t account for much in times so terrible, except to the twelve-year-old son he left behind. When Elliot Sweeney discovers the search for his father has been called off, he boards a train alone to find him.

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

August 2, Saturday, 10:00-5:00 p.m. I'M NOT SAYING, I'M JUST SAYING by Matthew Salesses
Write Space
Workshop: Revision Made Simple
Matthew Salesses, Author
Cost: $95.00

This revision workshop is led by Matthew Salesses, author of I’M NOT SAYING, I’M JUST SAYING (Civil Coping Mechanisms). Revision is often held up as the key to good writing. But rarely does an author or editor walk you through concrete strategies for how to revise. There are, however, some real steps one can learn. In this 6-hour course, we will go over 20 of these steps and will emulate some of them with our own stories in class. Students should bring with them the first two pages of a story they want to work on.

August 2, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. UNHINGED: SPLINTERED BOOK 2 by A.G. Howard
Murder By the Book
A.G. Howard, YA Author

A.G. Howard will sign and discuss her young adult novel, UNHINGED (Amulet). In this second book of the Splintered series, Alyssa Gardner has been down the rabbit hole. She was crowned Queen of the Red Court and faced the bandersnatch. She saved the life of Jeb, the boy she loves, and escaped the machinations of the disturbingly appealing Morpheus. Now all she has to do is graduate high school. That would be easier without her mother, freshly released from an asylum, acting overly protective and suspicious. And it would be much simpler if the mysterious Morpheus didn’t show up for school one day to tempt her with another dangerous quest in the dark, challenging Wonderland–where she (partly) belongs. Could she leave Jeb and her parents behind again, for the sake of a man she knows has manipulated her before? Will her mother and Jeb trust her to do what’s right? Readers will swoon over the satisfying return to Howard’s bold, sensual reimagining of Carroll’s classic.

August 4, Monday, 7:00 p.m. LUX: OPPOSITION by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Blue Willow Bookshop
Jennifer Armentrout, YA Author

Jennifer Armentrout will kick off her tour for OPPOSITION, the fifth book in the LUX series from Entangled Teen. Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came. She can’t believe Daemon stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred. Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

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5. Join Cheryl Rainfield on Sat, Sept 13, 2pm at Chapters Scarborough in Toronto

If you’re in Toronto, join me at

Chapters Scarborough
on Saturday, September 13th at 2pm

to hear me talk about STAINED–why I wrote it, the need for strong-girl characters, and more–and get a signed copy of STAINED, SCARS, and/or HUNTED.

stained-launch-cheryl-signing-via-jean

I draw on my own trauma experiences to write all my books.

In STAINED, Sarah is abducted and must find a way to rescue herself.

Cheryl Rainfield has been said to write with “great empathy and compassion” (VOYA) and to write stories that “can, perhaps, save a life.” (CM Magazine) SLJ said of her work: “[Readers] will be on the edge of their seats.”

I hope you’ll join me.

STAINED-display-Yorkdale-Indigo-cropped

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6. YA & KidLit Author Events July 15-21

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

This week’s events:

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7. Interview With YA Author Conrad Wesselhoeft

First a synopsis of Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly:
Seventeen-year-old Arlo Santiago lives in a dusty corner of New Mexico where his two passions are riding dirt bikes and playing a video game called “Drone Pilot.” He’s so good at the game that the military hires him to fly real drones over Pakistan. However, Arlo is reeling emotionally from a violent death in his family. Will he take the military’s money and commit violence against a terrorist leader half a world away, or find another solution to his troubles? He’s got a lot of them, including a father who drinks, a sister with Huntington’s Disease, and a girlfriend who won’t let him run from his past.     Dirt bikes cover HMH

How did the idea for Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly originate?
It grew out of my interest in—and concern about—drone warfare, which offers today’s militaries “capability without vulnerability.” As Arlo’s dad says, “Capability without vulnerability! Where are the heroics in that?” I was interested in several themes. One was the idea that violence against the individual is, in fact, violence against society as a whole. Another focused on the importance of friendship and family in dealing with grief. A third was the tendency of technology to outpace human wisdom.
Tells us a bit more about the story.

Arlo’s mom was a victim of violence. His father, a laid-off newspaper editor, is a pacifist. The family desperately needs money to help Arlo’s younger sister, and Arlo is poised to become a major breadwinner. He joins the drone-missile program as an adventure, without considering the moral ramifications. But he grows increasingly troubled at the thought of the violence he might commit.

So the story raises moral questions for Arlo?
Yes, it hinges on the moral dilemma between what seems right at a universal human level—one that values all life—versus what would provide immediate help to Arlo and his struggling family. It’s the tension between what he wants to do and what he feels he should do.
Like Arlo’s dad, you worked in northeast New Mexico as a newspaper editor. Is the book autobiographical?
Only in small ways. For example, Arlo owns a scruffy standard poodle named El Guapo. I own a scruffy standard poodle named Django.

What path led you to writing novels for young adults?
Years ago, I met the acclaimed young-adult author Scott O’Dell (Island of the Blue Dolphins, Sing Down the Moon, and many more). I shared my literary dreams with him, and he urged me to start writing a novel immediately, not to concoct excuses or bog down in planning. That day is one of the most important of my life. It set me on the path to writing YA fiction.

Why do you write for young adults?
I thought it would be easier than writing for grownups. (Man, was I was wrong.) Also, I had three teenagers in my life. My son, in particular, liked to bring home a pack of “big-personality” buddies whose collective voice mixed confidence, arrogance, enthusiasm, laziness, courage, cowardice, cadence, and more. I’d be doing dishes or driving them somewhere and these boys would be handing me golden nuggets, so to speak. They became role models for “The Thicks” in my first book, Adios, Nirvana.

How would you describe your writing process?
Kurt Vonnegut divided all writers into two groups, “bashers” and “swoopers.” I’m a basher, a slow writer who tries to perfect each paragraph before moving to the next. (Swoopers are fast, yet a bit sloppy.) In the morning, I pour some coffee, and get to work. I bash and bash. Only when I’ve bashed all the bumps down to practically dust do I move to the next chapter. I wish I bashed less and swooped more. The best I can hope for is “swashing.”

What have you learned about yourself through the process of writing both Adios, Nirvana and Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways To Fly?

I’ve learned that metaphor can be good medicine. Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to deal directly with emotional pain. In writing fiction, I’m able to project my shadow onto the wall of a different cave and, in doing so, work through my issues. As the story unfolds, the characters and I journey toward greater self-understanding. It’s a roundabout process, but it works.

Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly is a novel that clearly provides hope for the future. How important do you think it is to have that note of hope in a novel for young adults?
Hope is extremely important. I choose themes that are important to me. Foremost among these are hope, healing, family, and friendship. These are themes I’d like my own children to embrace. Life can be hard and seem hopeless, so as a writer I choose to send out that “ripple of hope” on the chance it may be heard or felt, and so make a difference.

And finally, what advice would you give to teens struggling to break away from peer group-imposed identities and create a sense of self?
All of us are great people in the making. One doesn’t have to be rich, famous, brilliant, beautiful, or an outward success to be great. One of my favorite examples from fiction is the fisherman Santiago in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. (Trivial fact: I named my main character Arlo Santiago after Hemingway’s old man.) In the Hemingway book, Santiago starts out poor and ends up poorer. However, in the course of the story, he tests himself to the limit. We see his strength, courage, humility, nobility, and hopeful spirit. Each time we take a step closer to who we really are we get stronger. So my thought would be, if you can’t take big steps toward your goal now, take small ones. As with all goals (including writing YA fiction), time is your friend. So to teens who are struggling, I say be patient, practice, persevere, believe in yourself. Never give up.
the-rock-shot-cropped-half-size

Conrad Wesselhoeft worked as a tugboat hand in Singapore and Peace Corps Volunteer in Polynesia before embarking on a career in journalism. He has served on the editorial staffs of five newspapers, including The New York Times. He is the author of the young adult novels Adios, Nirvana (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) and Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly (Houghton Mifflin, 2014).

 

 

 

 


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8. Out today: Drift and Rebellion

Warm weather is finally here! Get those summer reading lists ready because we’re excited to announce the release of two new YA novels from our Tu Books imprint: Drift, a high fantasy adventure that takes place on the shores of Hell, and Rebellion, the thrilling final book in Karen Sandler’s Tankborn series.

drift, by m.k. hutchins

In Drift, Tenjat lives on the shores of Hell, an ocean filled with ravenous naga monsters. His island, a massive Turtle, is slowed by the people living on its back. Tenjat is poor as poor gets: poor enough, even, to condescend to the shame of marriage, so his children can help support him one day. But Tenjat has a plan to avoid this fate. He will join the Handlers, those who defend and rule the island. As an epic naga battle approaches, Tenjat’s training intensifies, but a long-hidden family secret—not to mention his own growing feelings for his trainer—put his plans in jeopardy, and might threaten the very survival of his island.

Read an excerpt. Learn more about Drift and author M.K. Hutchins here.

rebellion

In Rebellion, the Tankborn story comes to its thrilling conclusion as questions are answered after the devastating bomb blast that ended Awakening. Kayla has been brought to the headquarters of the organization that planted the bomb, and many others like it, in GEN food warehouses and homes. Her biological mother tells her that Devak is dead and that Kayla must join their terrorist group, which is ramping up for something big. Now Kayla must pretend to embrace this new role in an underground compound full of paranoia as she plots a way to escape and save her friends.

Read an excerpt. Learn more about the Tankborn trilogy and author Karen Sandler here.

Happy book birthday to our newest releases! You can purchase them on our website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookseller (if copies are not in stock, they can always order them for you). And of course, they’re also available as e-books.


Filed under: Book News, Diversity in YA, New Releases, Tu Books Tagged: diverse YA, drift, fantasy, Karen Sandler, m.k. hutchins, rebellion, Science Fiction/Fantasy, ya books, young adult

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9. Kidlit Events June 10-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10. I will be speaking this Thursday at York University on Writing LGBT Characters in YA Literature


I’m honored to be speaking to Professor Cheryl Cowdy’s class this Thursday on writing LGBTQ characters in YA fiction. It’s really important to me to have a queer character in every book I write, whether it be the main character, like Kendra in SCARS, or a secondary character, like Caitlyn’s best friend Rachel in HUNTED, or Sarah’s friend Charlene in STAINED who comes out, or the walk-on characters in the older lesbian couple who help save Sarah after she first escapes. I think having queer characters who are queer where that’s not the issue in the book, where it’s not a coming out story, is really important; it helps normalize queer characters, helps reduce homophobia and increase acceptance, helps LGBT people feel less alone. We all need positive reflections of ourselves in books and movies; to not have that is to feel invisible. So, just as it’s important to me to have queer characters in every book, I try to also put people of color in every book (whether it’s a love interest or a walk-on character), and I put survivors of trauma or oppression in every book (it’s such a part of who I am). I’m sure over time I will continue to expand this.


I think LGBT people deserve to have stories where queer characters are the hero of that story–whether it be sci-fi, fantasy, suspense and thriller, or a quiet story–heroes that they can identify with and even look up to. And I think that having that will help everyone, not just the LGBT community. Because LGBT people are a part of this world, and we all need to live in harmony, accepting and appreciating each other. And i believe that books are a powerful part of change, acceptance, and greater compassion.

I will be talking about this, and other issues with LGBT characters in YA fiction, as well as answering questions from the class on Thursday. I’m looking forward to it.

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11. Guest Post on Human Trafficking: Jasmine of Berlin by author S. Bergstrom

Today author S. Bergstrom talks to us about human trafficking–an inhumane practice that happens all too often–as well as his new book The Cruelty. Human trafficking is very close to what I went through myself as a child and teen through the cult, so it really affects me. No human should be treated this way. I’m very glad S. Bergstrom is speaking out, and helping people become more aware through his book. I’m glad to be part of his tour. I hope you are moved by his post, as I was.

VBT Icon


Jasmine of Berlin
by S. Bergstrom, author of The Cruelty.

The girl wears her hair in schoolgirl braids tied with pink ribbon. An attempt, I suppose, to look even younger than her seventeen or eighteen years. Despite it being a brutally cold Berlin night in February 2012, she wears a very short skirt and I can see bruises the color of eggplant on her bare legs.

After scanning the bar for a few seconds, the girl takes a seat next to me. The bartender gives her a look and doesn’t bother asking if she wants anything to drink. She is, evidently, known here. Jasmine is how she introduces herself, and that’s what I call her for the remainder of the ten second conversation that follows. If possible, her German is more basic than mine, and filled with enough Russian vowels and rolled r’s that I have to assume she’s from one of the former Soviet Republics.

“Why you here alone?” she asks.

“Waiting on a friend,” I answer. “Why are you here alone, Jasmine?”

She looks at me in a way that means I’m impossibly stupid or impossibly cruel for making her say it out loud. “Sex for money,” she says. “Do you want? Very cheap.”

I tell her no and reiterate that I’m waiting for a friend. She gets up without another word and approaches two middle-aged business men drinking at the other end of the bar. No more than a minute passes before she leaves with one of them, the man’s arm around her waist.

This is not a remarkable story. I’m not even sure I mentioned to the friend who came in a few minutes later. To men especially, it’s all pretty familiar. Travel enough by yourself and approaches such as these happen too often to count. It happens not just in Europe, of course, but in North America, too. Miami. New York. Toronto. Topeka. But it’s precisely because it’s unremarkable and universal that it’s so tragic.

Jasmine—or Anna, or Olga, or Sveta, or whatever her real name is—did not end up in Berlin by accident. If you travel extensively in this part of the world, you know it’s not too far a logical leap to guess at the story that came before her arrival in Germany’s capital. Jasmine was, very likely—in fact, almost certainly—the victim of human trafficking.

Trafficking in human beings for both sex and labor happens everywhere, but it’s most obvious in places like Berlin where the impoverished East borders the relatively more prosperous West. Class distinctions there are sharp and it’s a mecca for immigrants, mainly from Turkey, but from former Soviet satellite states, too. It’s these latter countries—particularly the poorest of the poor, such as Moldova—that are the epicenters of human trafficking in Europe.

In such countries there is little industry or infrastructure. But what these places do have in abundance is young people on whom human traffickers prey by promising them lucrative, easy work abroad. It often begins with the offer of a waitressing gig in Dubai, or modeling job in Paris. Such connections are often made through brokers who advance sums of money to the young woman’s family. Sometimes it’s even a relative—an uncle or cousin abroad who’s made arrangements with his acquaintances there.

What happens next varies in specifics, but typically ends the same way. Upon arriving in a new country, the victim’s passport is confiscated and the true nature of the work she’ll be doing is finally disclosed. Leaving is impossible without her passport, and threats to quit are countered by threats to either her life, or the lives of her family back home. There is also the issue of spurious “debt,” which the victim has accrued both through the advance often paid to her family, and the purported costs of transport, lodging, and other “fees” such as bribes to officials for work visas which almost never materialize. This debt, along with the interest it accrues, is typically so inflated that there is no realistic way for the women to repay it.

Those brave enough to escape this life often find themselves victimized again by the legal system in their host country. While tremendous gains have been made in much of Europe in recognizing these women as victims rather than criminals, this is not the case in many Middle Eastern or Asian countries. Branded as criminals both for the work they performed and their lack of documentation, the victims of human trafficking often face prison sentences and further abuse at the hands of the police.

The idea of slavery is, today, almost universally repellent. But then, so is war. So is starvation. Yet these things go on anyway. Some time ago, when I approached a magazine to write an article about sex trafficking, the editor’s face contorted in visible disgust. “No one wants to read about that,” she said. I explained to her that according to the United Nations, there were more human beings enslaved in the 21st Century than there were at the height of the Atlantic slave trade. She only shrugged. “My readers can’t do anything about it,” she said.

Book CoverMostly, that editor is right. Human trafficking, whether for sex or labor, is a decentralized problem. There is no single nation from which the women come, and no single nation that is their destination. Thankfully, through the attention of the UN and many NGOs, reforms are taking place worldwide that enact tougher penalties for the traffickers themselves while providing support for the victims. We can only encourage the spread and strict enforcement of these laws, all the while raising awareness whenever possible and with whatever media is at hand. Is that enough? Will such reforms work? I don’t know. Neither does anyone.

I thought about Jasmine as I wrote my novel The Cruelty, where the woman I knew for all of ten seconds became Marina, guide and benefactor to my protagonist. It was a hopeful gesture, but ultimately a meaningless one. In the book, Marina survives. She defeats the man responsible for her bondage, triumphing over him. But in real life I’m not sure Jasmine fared so well.




SB-CUS. Bergstrom is a writer and traveler fascinated by the darker, unloved corners of world’s great cities. His books and articles on architecture and urbanism have been widely published in both the United States and Europe. The Cruelty is his first novel. He can be reached at sbergstrom.com or on Twitter @BergstromScott

When her diplomat father is kidnapped and the U.S. government refuses to help, 17-year-old Gwendolyn Bloom sets off across the dark underbelly of Europe to rescue him. Following the only lead she has—the name of a Palestinian informer living in France—Gwendolyn plunges into a brutal world of arms smuggling and human trafficking. As she journeys from the slums of Paris, to the nightclubs of Berlin, to the heart of the most feared crime family in Prague, Gwendolyn discovers that to survive in this new world she must become every bit as cruel as the men she’s hunting.

You can find S. Bergstrom on:
Author Website
Twitter
Facebook
Instagram
Goodreads
Virtual Tour Page

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12. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events April 8-14

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

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

Other events going on this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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13. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events April 22-28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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14. Young Adult Books with Emmy Laybourne Author of Monument 14

Emmy Laybourne is the author of MONUMENT 14, SKY ON FIRE and SAVAGE DRIFT (out May 6th). Both her first two books were YALSA Teens Top Ten Nominees. Here are her picks for 5 YA titles to watch for.

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15. #WeNeedDiverseBooks because….

#WeNeedDiverseBooks-CherylRainfield-05-2014

#WeNeedDiverseBooks-empathy-rainfield

#WeNeedDiverseBooks-everyone-reflections-rainfield

#WeNeedDiverseBooks-lgbtq-rainfield

#WeNeedDiverseBooks-race-sexuality-rainfield

I believe so strongly that we need diversity in books. I hope you do, too.

Join in the discussion through the Twitter Chat on May 2nd at 2pm (EST) using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Share your thoughts on the issues with diversity in literature and why diversity matters to you.

There are a ton of YA and kidlit authors, industry professionals, and readers taking part in this. I hope you’ll check out some of the books. There are so many diverse, important books that can help bring greater empathy to our world.

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

WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN by Kristin RaeHappy Book Birthday

to Kristin Rae’s debut YA novel

WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN

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

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

Here’s more events happening this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

A perfect bedtime read-aloud!

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

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

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

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17. KidLit Author/Illustrator Events May 13-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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18. Oblivion, by Sasha Dawn | Book Giveaway

Enter to win an autographed copy of Oblivion, by Sasha Dawn. Giveaway begins May 27, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends June 26, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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19. The Art of Writing YA Thrillers

If I were to write this tale, I’d have to research hauntings, of course, and children who grow up with surrogate parents, and anxiety issues and medications. Assuming I’m comfortable gathering this information, there are few things I’ll look at to see if I have the makings of a YA psychological, suspenseful thriller:

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20. KidLit Events May 27-June 3

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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



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

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

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21. Best Selling Young Adult Books | June 2014

If I stay by Gayle Forman has been added to our best selling young adult books for this month. The rest of the titles have remained the same, proving just how these titles truly are popular books for teens (and many adults, too).

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

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

Write down this name:

Jennifer Mathieu

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Now for this week’s events!

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

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

 

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

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

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23. STAINED will be released in paperback in 2015

So not only is STAINED one of Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature’s Best Book of the Year for ages Fourteen and Up–it’s also going to be released in paperback on 5/11/15 and be only $8.99!

So much good news today! I love good news. (beaming)

STAINED_New-Cover-final-600

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24. I’m delighted that STAINED is one of Bank Street College’s Book of the Year for ages Fourteen and Up

I’m delighted that STAINED is one of Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature’s Book of the Year for ages Fourteen and Up! (beaming)

stained-bank-street-college-book-of-yearstained-bank-street-college-book-of-year

Links to all books and categories here.

It’s such a feel-good thing to have my book recognized! For any author to have that happen. (grinning)

2 Comments on I’m delighted that STAINED is one of Bank Street College’s Book of the Year for ages Fourteen and Up, last added: 6/9/2014
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25. I am honored SCARS is in a B&N blog post: “8 Great YAs About Mental Health Issues” #YAsaves #WeNeedDiverseBooks

scarsI am honored that SCARS is included in a thoughtful B&N blog post: “8 Great YAs About Mental Health Issues” written by Dahlia Adler.

Dahlia includes some powerful YA books on various mental health issues, including Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (eating disorders), It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini (depression), OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu (OCD), and Crazy by Amy Reed (bi-polar).

Check out her post for the entire list and thoughtful descriptions of the books from someone who’s clearly read them and been touched by them, and to leave a comment about your favorite YA books that deal with mental health issues.

I think it’s important that we have books that deal with mental health issues in honest and realistic ways–and that provide hope. We all need to know that we’re not alone, and that things can get better.

8-yas-mental-health-crop

2 Comments on I am honored SCARS is in a B&N blog post: “8 Great YAs About Mental Health Issues” #YAsaves #WeNeedDiverseBooks, last added: 6/13/2014
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