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<<November 2014>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Giveaways, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,016
1. Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, by Robert McCarty | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale by Robert McCarty. Giveaway begins November 21, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 20, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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2. John Rocco's BLIZZARD - Interview and Giveaway!

John Rocco has a new book out called BLIZZARD - a mostly light book because of all the snow. It’s a wonderful follow-up to his Caldecott honor-winning, mostly dark book, BLACKOUT, which I also adored and talked to John about HERE. In BLIZZARD, John relays a story from his own childhood when forty inches of snow buried Rhode Island back in 1978. I can so relate to this story because of my own similar experience… an ice-storm in Georgia in the 70s that left me and my family sleeping by the fireplace where we cooked our food, boiled our water, and kept warm for days before things got back to normal. So, I’m thrilled to have John back to talk about his latest picture book...

Q. Hi John, You’ve done it again! You’ve taken a quiet little moment of life and made it big and beautiful - congratulations!
Thanks so much Elizabeth! I think the quiet moments are the most interesting.

Q. Truly, you’re creating a niche of pulling those odd little moments from life, a blackout, a snowstorm, and turning them into something magical. How do these stories develop for you?
Well, with Blackout, the story was developed through interviewing many people in Brooklyn and New York City about their individual experiences during the blackout of 2003. What was interesting to me were how many of them had similar experiences, and that became the thrust of the book. Blizzard on the other hand had developed from my daughter continually asking for stories about my childhood. This was one of them. This book is almost a diary of that week when I was little. When I told my father about the new book I was working on, he shipped me all the newspapers from that week in 1978. He had actually saved them!

Q. I love the contrast of the dark book versus the light book. Was that intentional?
Well, I guess I could have called it WHITEOUT, but I like the fact that they both begin with B. But yes, almost everything is intentional in my books. The things that aren't are usually the best. You know, those happy accidents? I do think they make a nice pairing for story time though. In Blackout, the main character goes through an emotional arc, from being bored, to scared, to curious, to surprised and happy. I tried to use color, and the lack thereof, to help amplify his emotions. With Blizzard I was dealing with an event that most adults at the time did not find fun at all. In fact, it was a pretty big ordeal. But us kids thought it was fantastic and magical and…and…THERE WAS NO SCHOOL FOR A WEEK!

Q. I’m sure the lighting in BLACKOUT was a challenge. Were there any particular lighting challenges in BLIZZARD?
The biggest challenge for me with Blizzard was to figure out where and when to let the white of the paper feel like the snow, and where to use watercolor washes to indicate some atmosphere. I think finding that balance was the most difficult.

Q. Was it truly you who made the trek through the neighborhood on snow shoes fashioned out of tennis rackets to get to the store and purchase emergency supplies?
Yes, it was. In fact I remember that my sisters racket was a white Christ Evert model, and mine was a light blue Bjorn Borg model. Recently, at a book signing in my old home town, the woman who owned that store with her husband came by and said hello. It was surreal. I screamed out, "I JUST PAINTED OF PICTURE OF YOU!" The one big change I had made was that when the snowplows finally came it wasn't hot chocolate everyone was drinking in the street, it was whiskey. My father had told me that when the snowplows finally started up our road, our next door neighbor ran out and planted a bottle of whiskey in the snow. They stopped the plow and everyone came out for a toast.

Q. What was your fondest memory from that time?
I think building all the snow forts and tunnels in our front yard. My sister and I were like gophers, digging through that snow.

Q. Did working on this book bring up old memories for you? How was it to work with that?
It's interesting you ask that. My parents separated when I was about 18. My sister and father both moved to California shortly after that. So now, almost thirty years later, I re-created the world where we were all together again. Drawing all the details of our living room; the wood stove, the conch shell on the mantle, the Andrew Wyeth print on the wall, my mom's rocker, my dad's chair…it's all there. It was strange and fun and a little emotional for me.

Q. I know you’ve shared before, but for my readers who don’t know, can you share your illustration method?
First I create a tonal drawing, and then I scan it into the computer and color using a combination of digital paint and water color washes and textures that I bring in as well.

Q. We’re heading into the snowy season. Any words of wisdom to those who might have a similar experience?
Most importantly, I would say, stay safe and enjoy the time you get to spend with your family.

Q. Thanks and I wish you much continued success, John!
Thanks Elizabeth!!
Here I am with John (far right) at the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville this past October:

Check out this great book trailer for BLIZZARD! (The link will take you to Vimeo.)

Disney has kindly agreed to give a free copy of BLIZZARD to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win - enter below.

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3. DEFY Book Trailer and Giveaway!

Fantasy lovers! Have you read DEFY by Sara B Larson? If not now is the time! Adventure? Fantasy? Romance? A girl who has to pretend she's a boy? Sounds like my kind of book! Check out the new book trailer! DEFY will be out in paperback next week, on November 25th! The sequel, IGNITE, will be out on December 30th. YAY! No waiting!! About DEFY By: Sara B. Larson Published by:

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4. Skink: No Surrender, by Carl Hiaasen | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a hardcover copy of Skink—No Surrender, by New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiassen. Giveaway begins November 19, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 18, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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5. Coloring Page Tuesday - Quail!

     Q is for Quail... with a tardy book return. Doesn't he look guilty? Or is he too closely related to turkeys to feel comfortable?
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, coming out next week! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
**A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**

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6. Get Happy, by Mary Amato | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a hardcover copy of Get Happy, by Mary Amato. Giveaway begins November 16, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 15, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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7. Eugene Yelchin's ARCADY'S GOAL - Guest Post and Giveaway!

I'm thrilled to have a new friend on today, Eugene Yelchin, author/illustrator of the Newbery Honor winning BREAKING STALIN'S NOSE. He has a new book out called ARCADY'S GOAL and he dropped by to talk about it...

     Given the fact that I was born and raised in the former Soviet Union, and the even more unfortunate fact that I had to survive in that country until I finally left at 27 years old, it comes at no surprise that my books are a meditation on the unalienable rights — Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

      The pursuit of Happiness takes many forms in America. A current form that’s getting a lot of attention is soccer. Soccer is something I know about. My father was a fairly well known soccer player and captain of the Red Army Soccer Club. For years he trained me to become a soccer player until he realized that I would rather draw pictures on my soccer ball than kick it.

      In ARCADY'S GOAL, a Russian boy dreams of becoming a soccer champion. “The trouble with soccer,” says Arcady, “is you can’t play it alone. Soccer is a team sport.” Being a member of a team is a problem for Arcady, who has never been permitted to be a member of anything. As a child of the enemies of the state in the pre-World War II Russia, he is excluded not only from being on a soccer team but from what most of us take for granted—being a member of a family. Family, the most essential fabric of humanity, is torn apart by the Soviet state and remade into a highly politicized entity. As a result, for Arcady and the man who adopts him, creating a family of their own let alone a children’s soccer team is extremely dangerous.

      In this lies the paradox of telling young American readers stories about freedom. To them being a member of a family or a member of a sports team are basic unalienable rights. My hope is that in looking through the eyes of Arcady, they might view those rights in a slightly different light. They might become more attentive to what they inherited. They might consider that preserving those rights requires personal courage. They might not take the pursuit of Happiness so lightly. That in fact, as Arcady shows, Happiness is sometimes only achieved at great risk of both life and Liberty.

LISTEN TO AN AUDIO SAMPLE OF ARCADY'S GOAL - Click the image to listen on YouTube:

Here is Eugene with his boys:

And here are shots of Eugene's studio (click the image to see it larger in a new window):

LISTEN to a great interview with Eugene at LET'S GET BUSY PODCAST!

Macmillan has kindly agreed to give away a free copy of ARCADY'S GOAL to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below:

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8. The Demon Catchers of Milan 2: The Halcyon Bird, by Kat Beyer | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a hardcover copy of The Demon Catchers of Milan #2: The Halcyon Bird, by Kat Beyer. Giveaway begins November 15, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 14, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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9. THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS - Interview (with both the author and illustrator) and GIVEAWAY!

THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS written by Bil Lepp and illustrated by David Wenzel is a bit of a throwback to the sweet sort of folklore that I would have stared at for hours as a kid. A greedy king wants everything, while a humble king respects the little things in life. Eventually the two sensibilities come to a head. I’m thrilled to have Bil and David here today to talk about their creation…

Q. Bil - THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS reads like a classic. How did the idea come to you and how long have you been telling the story?
I have been telling The King of Little Things for about ten years. The idea came from my son. One day he asked if I wanted to play Kingdoms. He then proceeded to collect his subjects- the Tonka Truck dump truck, the Tonka Truck firetruck, the T-Rex. All the big toys. He said, "I will be the king of big things." He then handed me a marble and a jack and said, "You can be the king of little things." I said, "What a great idea for a story! Play by yourself...cat's in the cradle..." and I went to my office and wrote the tale. The orginal version was closer to 2500 words then the 700 some words the story is now. I told that version for years before the book came out, so my oral version is a bit longer than the book version.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. David - What was your reaction when you read the manuscript for the first time? Did the images come to you easily?
The artwork for King of Little Things was definitely in my wheelhouse. I have been recognized for my whimsical approach to many subjects, but particularly those with a Medieval theme. So envisioning the characters was very enjoyable. Once they were fleshed out, I developed the various concepts for each spread, and I had to give that some real thought. The book has a King character that conquers other lands and I wanted my art to not glorify that in any form, so I tried to think of visuals that implied rather then exemplified the military aspects of conquering. I still had plenty of chances to illustrate pompous generals and inept knights. A secondary theme of the story Bil wrote were the many small and little things that make up our world and I really enjoyed sneaking as many of those tidbits into the art as I could.

Q. Bil - You are a well-known storyteller. Was it challenging to turn this story into book text?
I was amazed by the editing process. I had, obviously, wonderful editors. There were times when lines were cut from the tale that I hated to see go, but I just kept telling myself that the folks at Peachtree know what they are doing. One of the most fascinating aspects was seeing, on certain pages, how the layout of text and the illustrations work in conjunction. For example, on the page where the big king is wearing all the hats and crowns and the text mirrors the movement of the hats.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. David - I’ve heard illustrators refer to some texts as “illustrator candy.” Were there lots of illustrator notes or was Bill’s text simply mental candy for you?
I guess Bil's provided me with a small bowl of illustrator candy. I usually do a lot of preliminary character work on this kind of project. Between Bil, Loraine, the art director, and Margaret, the publisher, we had agreed on the two king characters before I started to develop the layouts. I was really free to interpret Bil's words and the suggestions I received on my sketches truly enhanced the final versions.

Q. Bil - What was the message you wanted to relay in THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS?
I feel as if I say more here, I will take away from the point. :-)

Q. David - Most of the illustrations are loaded with tiny details. How long did each piece take you and what was your method?
Thanks for noticing all of the"little things". I spend a lot of time developing the layout so each page works with the entire story. basic simple shapes at first. I compiled several lists of little things that I wanted to include and the sky was the limit since Bil had already designated items like rust, fungus and pickles as subjects of the King of Little Things. So I used my lists to plug in as many extra little things as I could. Once the sketch is done I do a value study in PhotoShop and then transfer the sketch to 330 lb. Fabriano soft press watercolor paper. I then go over the sketch in a black colored pencil and then watercolor it.

Q. Bil - What was your path to publication with THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS?
I was very fortunate that Carmen Deedy heard me tell The King of Little Things at a storytelling festival. She asked if I would be interested in the story becoming a picture book and I think I responded with a resounding, "Duh, of course!" Carmen shepherded me through the process and I am grateful that her love of the story led to its eventual publication. I know I grew impatient at times during the process, but Carmen was there to assure me that the process worked. And, after earning all these great reviews, accolades and awards, I must confess, she was correct. When David came on board I was even more excited. Even his initial illustrations, rough drafts, were so delightful, and insightful, that I knew he was going to make the book a real success. I had been with the story a long time, and had grown used to it, but David's art helped me see the story in a whole new way. I have heard of writers being dissatisfied with the illustrations, but that is not the case here. David's devotion to the details and the illustrations turn a good story into a great book.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. David - You’ve been in the illustration business for a long time. Any advice for those struggling on a similar path?
I guess all illustrators get asked this question. There is no easy answer. My son Brendan Wenzel has been carving out a great career in children's books and I think his path is more recent and more relevant then the one I started on many years ago. He has always had really great ideas for books and he had to work in several other illustration fields before he caught on with children's books. He worked doing story boards, making props, animations, and other art related jobs. He kept his eye on his goal and explored every opportunity to get his work out there. He put one of his pieces in an art show in California, it was seen by Angela DiTerlizzi, and she connected with him to illustrate her new book, Some Bugs. I think it's important for aspiring illustrators to understand you build a career piece by piece and always strive to move forward and try to think of set backs as inspiration to get you to the next level.
Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. Bil and David - Are you doing anything special to celebrate the release of THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS?

Bil: I'm hoping that this book leads to more oppotunities for David and I to work together again. The book actually came out a year ago, but we are celebrating the anniversay by going to the PEN Awards ceremony to receive our PEN/Steven Kroll Award.

David: We've been together in NY a couple of times to promote the book and attend the Irma Black awards at Bank Street College. We would like to celebrate more with each other and libraries and bookshops that would like us to come by.

I wish you both much continued success!

Peachtree has kindly agreed to send one free copy of THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below:

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10. Hello Kitty Con 2014 Recap


On Nov. 1, 2014, I headed down to Los Angeles's Little Tokyo with my pals Celina and Kate to see the crazy Sanrio extravaganza known as Hello Kitty Con. Celebrating her 40th Anniversary, HKCon2014 was a massive cutesplosion of displays, activities, and of course, shopping. My only regret is not getting a second day pass so I could see panels as well as shop. Oh, ok, and that the SPAM booth ran out of Hello Kitty Musubi kits. And that I didn't have time or energy left to go make sand art.


Ok, so I have a lot of regrets. But I had a ton of fun, too! It was weird to look through the Vintage Village displays and see things I most certainly had as a kid. To see all the people dressed in head-to-toe Sanrio gear made me grin. I picked up some collectibles (Socks! Notebooks! Baggu!) for myself, plus a couple more things to give away! Enter below using the Rafflecopter.

The prize is a set of 40th Anniversary notebooks and pins from Hello Kitty Con, plus a bag of Strawberry Pocky because they're pink and delicious. If the post gets 100 comments (minus any by Alethea, Thuy, or Kimberly) we'll throw in a gray Hello Kitty Baggu bag from Poketo, and the Hello Kitty graphic novel, Delicious!

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 11/20/2014.
  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 
  3. One set of entries per household please. 
  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 
  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 
  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 
  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here
  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!
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11. Snowman’s Story, by Will Hillenbrand | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a hardcover copy of Snowman's Story, by Will Hillenbrand Giveaway begins November 12, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 11, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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12. Coloring Page Tuesday - Grasshopper!

     G is for Grasshopper... You know the story of the Ants and the Grasshopper? It's starting to get colder outside (here in the south). Methinks it's time for Mr. Grasshopper to get to work saving up food for the winter!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages!! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, coming out next week! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
**A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**

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13. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Pop-Up Book | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Pop-Up Book, story by Lisa Ann Marsoli and illustrations by Keith Andrew Finch! Giveaway begins November 11, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends December 10, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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14. Monday Mishmash: 11/10/14

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:

1. The Attic of Sand and Secrets by Medeia Sharif  I'm reading this right now!
by Medeia Sharif

Vendor links will be updated on Medeia’s site.

Middle Grade Historical and Fantasy, Featherweight Press, November 2014

Lily, a learning disabled girl, attempts to unravel the mystery of her abducted mother using supernatural clues from an ancient stranger, even when it means posing a danger to herself.

Learning-disabled Lily desires to prove herself, although her mind freezes when presented with big problems - such as her mother's abduction. With a French father and Egyptian mother, Lily worries that her mother hid her ethnicity from her French in-laws. However, there's something deeper going on. Lily finds a way into an attic that's normally locked and encounters a mysterious, moonlit Egyptian night world. There she finds Khadijah, an ancient stranger who guides her to finding clues about her mother's whereabouts. Lily becomes a sleuth in both the real world and magical desert, endangering herself as she gets closer to the kidnapper.

Find Medeia – Multi-published YA and MG Author

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2. Revisions  This week I'm revising one of my manuscripts I put aside for a while. It's always fun to go back and read a first draft I've stepped away from.

3. Some Fine Day by Kat Ross  Kat Ross has a new release and a giveaway for you.
What if everything you've been taught is a lie?

Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist knows that when the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface.

She knows that the only species to thrive there is the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.

Most of all, she knows there's no place where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.

Turns out Jansin was wrong. On all counts…

Enter here to win a Kindle Paperwhite pre-loaded with Some Fine Day, plus other awesome YA audiobook giveaways!

4.  Reading/Reviewing  I'm reading a bunch of books that I need to review. It's nice to have to find time to read. Usually reading gets pushed aside for other things, but when I promise to review, I can't do that. ;)

5. Promo  My crazy month of events every week (some weeks more than one event) is over, but I do still have a signing set up for this month and two school visits coming up. This week I'll be trying to book another signing for the holidays.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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15. Penny Warner's CODE BUSTERS - Guest Post and Giveaway!

I'm thrilled to help Penny Warner celebrate the 4th book in her CODE BUSTERS series today. Penny was a mentor to me in my early career and I actually did a mock cover for the series before it was sold. So, I have a special loyalty to it and its creator. So, welcome Penny!

By Penny Warner for Elizabeth Dulemba

      I always wanted to be Nancy Drew. She’s the one who set me on the path of writing mysteries. In fact, everything I know about writing, I learned from reading Nancy Drew mysteries. I thought I’d share her writing tips with you today.
1. Create unforgettable characters: “You know Nancy.” All agreed she possessed an appealing quality, which people never forgot. ~ Clue in the Diary
      All stories are based on interesting characters—there are no exceptions. Introduce us to your character a little at a time, using action and dialogue (showing), rather than a thumbnail sketch (telling). Create realistic characters without using stereotypical traits, and include some surprises about the character that are believable. Finally, give the characters conflict—happy characters make dull characters.
2. Use dialogue: Suddenly the young sleuth snapped her fingers. “I know what I’ll do! I’ll set a trap for that ghost!” ~ The Hidden Staircase
     Dialogue makes a story come alive. It also helps move the story along, increases pace and creates drama. Listen to real conversations for realism, then edit and tighten them to make the dialogue readable. Keep attribution simple—use action or “said,” rather than adverbs and euphemisms for “said.” Finally, read your dialogue aloud.
3. Set the scene: Many Colonial houses had secret passageways. “Do you know any entrances a thief could use?” ~ The Hidden Staircase
      A vivid setting pulls the reader into the story. It also intensifies suspense and becomes a character in itself. Show the setting through the character’s eyes and include all five senses, telling details, and occasional metaphors.
4. Add mood and atmosphere: Nancy had heard music, thumps and creaking noises at night, and had seen eerie, shadows on walls. ~ The Hidden Staircase
      Give a sense of foreboding through description. Mood and atmosphere give the story depth and stimulate the emotions of the readers. Use foreshadowing to give the reader a feeling of unease.
5. Outline your plot: Ellen was alarmed. “We must do something to stop him!” “I have a little plan,” Nancy said. ~ Quest of the Missing Map
      Before you begin writing, outline your plot so you know, generally, where the story is headed. You can keep it simple and just jot down the major plot points of the story—where the story takes a surprising turn and how it ratchets up the suspense. Or you can write a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, with the option of veering off if the story requires an alteration.
6. Start the clock ticking: “Hurry, girls, or we’ll miss the train to River Heights!” Nancy knew being on time was important. ~ Secret of Red Gate Farm
      Begin with the inciting incident, which starts the clock ticking. Include not only the situation, but where it takes place, and who’s involved. This is where you ask the story questions: What if….? Think about your goal as you start the story and where it will lead.
7. Create conflict: Nancy struggled to get away. She twisted, kicked and clawed. “Let me go!” Nancy cried. ~ Secret of the Old Clock
      There is no story without conflict. The protagonist must come up against an antagonist, which can be a person, an idea, a corporation, or some kind of evil. Conflict helps reveal the protagonist’s needs, values, and fears, and causes her to confront her demons, challenge herself, and become a hero of sorts.
8. Pack it with action: “How do we get in?” “Over the top, commando style,” George urged. “Lucky we wore jeans.” ~ Clue in the Crumbling Wall
      Today’s reader wants action, so give your protagonist opportunities to do something physical. Give her a choice between fight or flight, and when she fights—make her strong but still vulnerable.
9. Spark reader’s emotions: Nancy was too frightened to think logically. She beat on the door, but the panels would not give way. ~ Secret of the Old Clock
      Crank up the reader’s involvement but increasing the character’s emotional risk. This way the reader will care about the story. If she can relate to the protagonist’s emotional jeopardy, she’ll be hooked on finding out what happens.
      And there you have it—The Mystery of Writing Children’s Mysteries, solved, by the Girl Sleuth herself!

      Penny Warner is the author of the award-winning series, THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB, and the award-nominated guide, THE OFFICIAL NANCY DREW HANDBOOK. She can be reached at www.pennywarner.com and www.codebustersclub. Here is her favorite writing spot:

      Egmont has kindly agreed to give the whole set of THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB books (#1-3 in paperback and #4 in hardcover) to one of my lucky, lucky followers! Must live in the US/Canada to win - enter below!

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16. Children’s Book Trends on The Children’s Book Review | November 2014

This month's little peek into what TCBR readers have been most interested in shows the book trends are following the upcoming season with "20 of the Best Christmas Books," "Kids Thanksgiving Books," and the "Best New Kids Books!"

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17. 100 Sideways Miles Blog Tour

I'm so thrilled to be on the 100 Sideways Miles blog tour for Andrew Smith! Read on for more about the book, my review, and a giveaway. Check out the tour schedule for more reviews.

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About the book

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 277
Published: 2 Sept, 2014

Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved.
Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

Where to find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Goodreads | Free Preview

About the author

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers WeeklyKirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist).

Smith is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Stand Off, the sequel to Winger, coming in January 2015, is his ninth novel. He lives in Southern California.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Events | Goodreads

Alethea's Review

To begin, I should tell you I know Andrew Smith. I met him in 2011, right after a Wall Street Journal article on YA books basically shat all over him and a few other terrific authors for writing children's literature that was "too dark". He's a great guy and an amazing writer. While the content of his novels are usually brutal, violent, darkly and scatologically humorous, which might make you think the author is some rough, tough ne'er-do-well, he's actually quite sensitive. Anyone who understands his writing understands that, just as he understands us and our feelings. (All the feels!)

While it would probably behoove me to tell you that I am giving the book an honest review regardless of how I think of Andrew, that wouldn't be quite true. I would be even less truthful to say I'm giving it a good review because I like him a lot, and want to spare his feelings. I want you to know I'm giving 100 Sideways Miles the most honest review that I can, given that I already presupposed it to be brilliant because it's written by Andrew Smith. I'm not sugar-coating it, because I don't have to.

It's brilliant.

Finn Easton's view of life, from his stance as an epileptic, uncertain, eventually heart-broken teenaged boy tilts the reader's perspective in unexpected ways. Whenever Finn has a seizure, all is beauty, and words cease to have meaning as the connections between them unravel in his brain. He marks time in miles instead of minutes, thinks of people in terms of their molecules, and how much or how little the microscopic bits of matter want to stay together or rejoin the universe. His best friend Cade, crass and a little insane, makes a great foil. Finn's crush, Julia Bishop, is a girl I'd fall in love with, myself. She's forthright and real. Their story unfolds like history rather than fiction.

Strange plot and lovable characters aside--I won't spoil anything for you--the real star of the show is Smith's prose. He has a penchant for taking normal, everyday words and stringing them together in unforgettable ways, like "the planet of humans and dogs", or "the knackery never shuts down", simple but lyrical to the point where I find myself thinking them throughout the day, when I think about politics and people, when I am planting seeds in the garden, when I'm shampooing my hair. "Twenty miles. Twenty miles." It's how many miles the earth travels per second. When he's not busy blowing your mind, Smith sneaks in relevant tidbits of history, like carrots in the meatloaf. I probably knew, but didn't remember, anything about the St. Francis dam disaster of 1928, and now I feel like I'll never forget it.

People who don't like Andrew Smith point and pick at his use of profanity as weakness. To me, they're the weak ones. His frank voice helps me feel understood; it echoes the way I think, speak, and feel. It makes us, his readers, feel like we're not alone. Not just that, but Smith's detractors are missing the point; they're missing the words and ideas that matter. "Twenty miles. Twenty miles." Every moment we stand still, we're moving. 

100 Sideways Miles is darkly funny, deeply thoughtful, and a worthy addition to Andrew Smith's bildungsroman novels.


Tour Schedule

November 3rd ~ The Pirate Tree – Review
November 3rd ~ Roof Beam Reader – Review
November 3rd ~ Cabin Goddess – Mom & Son Review with a Recipe
November 3rd ~ Bookish – Review
November 3rd ~ Lookandseebeanazed – Review
November 4th ~ The Reader and the Chef – Review
November 4th ~ The Bookish Confections – Review
November 4th ~ Fangirlish – Review
November 4th ~ Reads All The Books – Review
November 5th ~ Word Spelunking – Review
November 5th ~ Debbie Bookish – Review
November 5th ~ Books and Bling – Review
November 5th ~ Falling For YA – Review
November 5th ~ I Read Banned Books  – Review
November 5th ~ Ringo The Cat – Review
November 5th ~ A Leisure Moment – Review
November 6th ~ Reading on the Farm – Review
November 6th ~ Blogging Between the Lines – Review
November 6th ~ Bookhounds YA – Review
November 6th ~ What A Nerd Girl Says – Review
November 6th ~ Movies, Shows & Books – Review
November 6th ~ Deal Sharing Aunt  – Review
November 7th ~ Pixie Vixen Book Reviews – Review
November 7th ~ roro is Reading – Review
November 7th ~ The Reader and the Chef – Review
November 7th ~ Cabin Goddess – Review
November 7th ~ Reads All The Books – Review
November 7th ~ Laura Kreitzer, Bestselling Author  – Review
November 7th ~ LRB - Karin Baker  – Review
November 7th ~ Read Now Sleep Later – Review


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18. Friday DOUBLE Feature: Vanquished and Catch Me When I Fall

I have a treat for you today. I've read this debut YA series and it's great. I'm so happy to welcome Katie Clark to my blog!

The Making of Vanquished

Thank you for having me today! I’m thrilled to introduce your readers to my debut novel, Vanquished. People are always asking me how I got the idea for Vanquished, and since it’s a story I love telling I am happy to share it.

This wasn’t an easy idea. It came to me in bits and pieces over the course of a few years. It started with the main character, Hana. I was always thinking about this girl. This strong but vulnerable girl. She wanted to believe in the life she’d been led to live. She wanted to follow the rules. Except she couldn’t.

At that time, I had no idea what brought about her unhappiness or dissatisfaction, I only knew she needed to work toward something more.

Fast forward a year or two, I was given the idea to write a story set in a world where there was no God. No Bible. No religion. Would this world be better? Worse? And how? I had no idea how to make this story happen, but the idea stuck in my head and percolated.

Finally, the two halves came together to make a whole. One day I was sitting in church (yes, I admit I was daydreaming), and it hit me. These two stories were the same story. Hana was dissatisfied because she suspected there was more than met the eye in her city, and she set out to find it. Her mom was sick, and she needed answers. What she uncovered went way beyond hidden medications and technology—what she found was the truth that the God she’d been told was myth might not be myth at all. The story just flew from there, and it didn’t end for three books!

I hope you all enjoy it, and to celebrate I’m giving away an e-copy of Vanquished! I’ll choose one lucky commenter at random, so leave your name and email address below for a chance to win. Thanks for stopping by!

About Vanquished:
When Hana’s mom is diagnosed with the mutation, she is denied the medication that might save her life.  Fischer, a medic at the hospital, implies there are people who can help—except Hana’s not sure she can trust him; Fischer is involved in a religious group, and religion has been outlawed for the last hundred years.  Hana embarks on a dangerous journey, seeking the answers Fischer insists are available. When the truth is uncovered does Hana stick to what she knows?  Or does she join the rebellion, taking a stand against an untrustworthy society?

KATIE CLARK writes young adult speculative fiction, including her dystopian Enslaved Series, made up of Vanquished, Deliverance, and Redeemer. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Thank you, Katie!

Make sure you comment below for a chance to win an ebook of Vanquished!

That's not all. My agency sister, Vicki Leigh, is also have a blog tour for her new release, Catch Me When I Fall.

Catch Me When I Fall, by Vicki Leigh

Genre: young-adult, urban-fantasy, paranormal-romance

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release­­: October 23, 2014

Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, having given up his chance at an afterlife when he chose to become a Protector. That doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best, but he wants nothing more than to stop.

Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen-year-old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take a deep interest in her, appearing in unprecedented numbers, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. He fights ruthlessly to keep the Nightmares from overwhelming his team and Kayla. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him.

A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law and reveal his identity. Driven by his growing feelings for her, he whisks her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality.

We followed Kayla to her dining hall for lunch. The room was large with white walls and a white, tiled floor. Steel tables and chairs were bolted to the ground. Kayla sat near a window in the far corner of the room with one other boy, a red-haired, freckle-faced kid with glasses that covered the top half of his face. He spoke with a bit of a lisp, and he rocked back and forth as he conversed with Kayla. Still, he appeared to be quite intelligent.
“Did you ever read Charles Darwin’s theory on evolution? Maybe we’re not crazy at all, but instead, we’re fundamentally different from the rest of the universe because we can see things and hear things. Maybe we’re supposed to be part of this super army that protects other people like us when the zombie apocalypse takes over the world and destroys all the people who haven’t mutated like us.”
Okay, maybe he was crazy.
Kayla smiled. “So, we’re going to be like X-Men during a zombie apocalypse?” She listened with intensity, as if she was truly interested in hearing what he had to say, and although his idea was absolutely idiotic, she had replied with a level of kindness I never would have managed. Impressive.
“Exactly! Ooh, I know. You could be Rogue, and I’ll be Cyclops.”
Kayla’s head tipped backward as she exploded with genuine laughter. “Why Rogue? I mean, maybe I want to be Storm. She’s badass, you know.”
“Yeah, but you’re pretty, like Rogue.”
Kayla blushed as if she hadn’t gotten those kinds of comments a million times. “Well, thank you.” She patted his hand.
He smiled and looked down at where her fingertips touched the back of his hand. Then he looked over his shoulder and glared. Kayla’s instant frown made me spring up on the balls of my feet.
“No, you’re wrong!” He yelled at an empty spot in the room.
Kayla grabbed his wrist. “Marcus, calm down.”
He snatched his wrist out of her grasp and turned in his chair toward whatever invisible person he screamed at. “No! I don’t have to listen to you! She’s my friend.” He stood up and marched over to the empty space, swinging like he was backhanding someone.
Kayla jumped from her seat and stood in front of him. She placed her hands on his upper arms. “Marcus, they aren’t going to hurt you.”
“Get off me!” He shoved her away from him, hard. Not weighing much, Kayla flew into the chair behind her. Bolted to the floor, the chair didn’t budge. She yelped in pain and crashed to the ground.
I took a step toward her, every fiber in me wanting to make sure she was okay. But then I remembered what I was and ground my teeth.
Seeing the violence, the nurses rushed in. Two of the bigger men grabbed Marcus as he fought them, eventually having to resort to a tranquilizer to calm him down. Two others jogged to Kayla where she sat on the ground, her eyes wet with tears. She clutched her side where her ribs had hit the metal chair. I balled my hands into fists, angry that I could do nothing but watch as the nurses helped her to her feet and led her out of the cafeteria.

Find Catch Me When I Fall Online:


About The Author:
Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay-at-home mom, Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki penned her first, full-length screenplay. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes.

Vicki is an editor for Curiosity Quills Press and is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.

Find Vicki Leigh Online:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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19. STONE COLD TOUCH by Jennifer Armentrout {Review & Giveaway}

Review by Becca STONE COLD TOUCH The Dark Elements #3 by Jennifer L ArmentroutPaperback: 464 pagesPublisher: Harlequin Teen (October 21, 2014) Amazon Barnes and Noble Kobo iTunes Every touch has its price Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend

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20. Shirley Parenteau's SHIP OF DOLLS - Guest Post and Giveaway

SHIP OF DOLLS by Shirley Parenteau
      When asked where I get ideas, the answer is easy. Although we have no grandsons, we have six granddaughters, four of them living nearby and currently between ages nine and thirteen. A few years ago, frogs croaking in the stream near our 100 year-old farmhouse made me think “counting book,” although I had been writing women’s fiction since our own three children grew older. After a number of rejections that turned out to be blessings, the book found a home with the publisher of my dreams, Candlewick Press. I was delighted when my daughter reported that her then two-year-old Elizabeth learned to relate written numbers to letter numbers through many re-readings of One Frog Sang.
      About a year later, I watched Elizabeth in a bookstore play area putting stuffed animals on small chairs. Bears on Chairs, a rhyming book on sharing resulted. Editors often warn against writing in rhyme, partly because rhyme can be hard to translate. Yet in Japan where rhyme is not used, a translation of Bears on Chairs has been so popular that the bears are now available there as plush animals, on notepapers and more. I have to credit David Walker’s irresistible illustrations for much of the bear’s success. Happily, the books became a series. Candlewick published the third, Bears in the Bath, this year and has scheduled Bears and a Birthday for next year.
      My son’s oldest daughter Michelle inspired Ship of Dolls, a middle-grade novel. When she was three, Michelle’s parents took her to Japan to visit maternal grandparents and take part in the traditional girl’s day festival of Hinamatsuri. (Later they took Michelle and her younger sister Nicole, above, to the festival.) They returned with photos that suggested ideas for a picture book.

In an online search for details of Hinamatsuri, I discovered an event in our history that was entirely new to me, the Friendship Doll project of 1926 when children across America sent more than 12,000 dolls to children in Japan in hope of friendship and peace. Japanese children sent back 58 exquisite dolls of gratitude, each about 3 feet tall, with many accessories and wearing kimonos in patterns by the Empress’ own dressmaker.
      I’ve visited one currently on display in a museum in Reno, Nevada, and fell instantly in love.
      I longed to tell the story of the dolls as a middle-grade novel and worked on it from time to time, setting the story in NW Oregon because I grew up on the Northern Oregon Coast. But I was absorbed in my picture book series. Somehow years swept by. Then a writing friend called to tell me about a newly published book, Kirby Larsen’s The Friendship Doll. My heart sank. Had I waited too long? When I read Kirby’s book, I found it far different than mine, featuring one of the lovely Japanese dolls. I stopped revising and proposed Ship of Dolls to my Candlewick editor. She loved the idea of the Friendship Doll Project and not only wanted the book, but suggested a second book, set in Japan to tell the story through the eyes of a girl there.
      Ship of Dolls saw publication this past August. Dolls of Hope will follow in 2015. Cover artist Kelly Murphy created a stunning cover using Japanese papers for waves and vintage clothing for the girl’s and doll’s dresses. And to my surprise and absolute delight, Lexie, as Kelly has painted her, looks very much like my now eleven-year-old granddaughter Elizabeth, something Kelly had no way of knowing.

      Reviews have been wonderful. I love the conclusion of a review in School Library Journal that says, “Fans of (Beverly Cleary’s) Ramona will have no trouble connecting with and rooting for lively and likable Lexie.”
      The most exciting news of all—the publisher of Japanese translations of my bear books has purchased translation rights to Ship of Dolls and Dolls of Hope. I’m especially touched that he plans to tie publication next spring to the 70th anniversary of the ending of the war in the Pacific. He believes the book will help express to young readers his company’s wish for world peace and friendship. I can’t think of a more gratifying reception for a story that came straight from my heart.
      My current writing spot is not yet a fave. In August, we moved from our old farmhouse to a more convenient single-story home. I prefer a desktop computer and have installed it on the former owner’s craft table while I research desks (and try to keep my calico cat, Folly, from the keyboard).

Candlewick has kindly offered a free copy of SHIP OF DOLLS to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win - enter below:

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21. Giveaway: THE RAVEN CYCLE by Maggie Stiefvater + Tarot Cards (US only)


Mystery, Romance and the supernatural combine in this series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.
Book 1: The Raven Boys
Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them--until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn't believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.
Book 2: The Dream Thieves
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after....
Book 3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.
Read by Will Patton, published by Scholastic Audio in 2014. Music by Kate Hummel.
 “Equal parts thriller and mystery, with a measured dash of romance sprinkled on topMaggie has woven such a unique, intriguing narrative that I struggled for comparisons..”— MTV.com
“[A] well-paced neo-Gothic thriller about a teenage fivesome’s search for the supernatural . . .”— New York Times Book Review
“Simultaneously complex and simple, compulsively readable, marvelously wrought.”— Kirkus Reviews, starred review 
“Stiefvater’s can’t-put-it-down paranormal adventure will leave you clamoring for book 2.” Entertainment Weekly 
“[A]  tour de force of characterization, and while there is no lack of event or mystery, it is the way Stiefvater’s people live in the reader’s imagination that makes this such a memorable read.”— Publishers Weekly, starred review
Visit The Raven Cycle Official Site
Visit Maggie Stiefvater’s Official Site
Visit the This is Teen Pinterest page to follow The Raven Cycle Tarot Tour
Follow Maggie on TwitterFacebookTumblr and Instagram

Author Maggie Stiefvater designed The Raven Cycle Tarot, a Major Arcana 22-card deck inspired by The Raven Cycle series. The cards will be revealed in a 22-stop blog tour running November 1 – November 22. 
Follow The Raven Cycle Tarot Tour on the This is Teen Pinterest page to collect all 22 cards!
Download the tour schedule:
b2ap3_thumbnail_MaggieStiefvater.jpgABOUT THE AUTHOR
Entertainment Weekly has called Maggie Stiefvater, “one of the finest YA novelists writing today.” Maggie Stiefvater is a writer, artist, and musician and the New York Times bestselling author of Shiver, hailed by Publishers Weekly in a starred review as, “a lyrical tale,” and by BookPage as, “beautifully written, even poetic at times, and a perfect indulgence for readers of all ages.” There are more than 1.8 million copies of the Shiver trilogy in print. Since publication, rights to thirty-six foreign editions of Shiver have been licensed. Linger, the second book in the Shiver trilogy, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. The Scorpio Races (2011) was named to the following best of the year lists for 2011: Publishers WeeklySchool Library JournalThe Horn Book and Kirkus Reviews. In addition, The Scorpio Races was named a 2012 Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association and a New York Times Notable Children’s BookTime Magazine called, The Raven Boys, Book #1 in Stiefvater’s latest New York Timesbestselling series The Raven Cycle, “A flirtier kind of horror-fantasy, aimed at teens clutching tattered Twilight and Sandman paperbacks....Stiefvater’s quirky prose has ample nerdy pleasures.” Stiefvater lives in Virginia with her family.
One winner will receive:
·         The Raven BoysThe Dream Thieves, and Blue Lily, Lily Blue
·         PLUS a Limited Edition The Raven Cycle Major Arcana Tarot Deck (featuring Maggie Stiefvater original artwork!)
Prizing & samples courtesy of Scholastic
Giveaway open to US addresses only
Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30-60 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: Who is your favorite character in The Raven Cycle and why?

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22. I'm My Own Dog Blog Tour

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for asking us to join the I'm My Own Dog blog tour. They're giving away a copy of the book, and David Ezra Stein answered some questions for us! Read on and enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget (US, ends 11/14).


About the book

Many dogs have human owners. Not this dog. He fetches his own slippers, curls up at his own feet, and gives himself a good scratch. But there is one spot, in the middle of his back, that he just can’t reach. So one day, he lets a human scratch it. And the poor little fella follows him home. What can the dog do but get a leash to lead the guy around with? Dog lovers of all ages will revel in the humorous role-reversal as this dog teaches his human all the skills he needs to be a faithful companion.

About the author

David Ezra Stein is the creator of many award-winning picture books, including Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor, Because Amelia Smiled, and Dinosaur Kisses. He lives with his family in Kew Gardens, New York.

Find out more about him at www.davidezra.com.


Q & A with David Ezra Stein

Alethea at RNSL: I loved I'm My Own Dog. Do you have (or have you previously had) a pet like this? How did you develop the alternative view he takes on ownership?

David Ezra Stein: Hi Alethea! Thanks; I have had quite a few pets in my life. When I was a kid I was allergic, so I had mainly guinea pigs, fish, and a snake. I think all my books, and especially the characters, come from my own emotions and my relationship to the demands that life makes on me. When I wrote this book, I was feeling a desire to be true to myself, and suddenly I became aware of the voice of this dog character. He began telling me about himself. I wrote it down. Then I followed through by figuring out what the rest of his life would be like. I realized he would eventually need someone else, and that’s where the man came in.

RNSL: This book is quite hilarious. What do you think developed your particular sense of humor?

DES: Oh, thank you so much. I guess I had funny parents and also, I think I had a rough time in childhood in some ways, and humor is always what got me through, and gave me a sense of power. If you can laugh, you can survive. I was attracted to humor and gobbled it up wherever I could. Sesame Street was a big influence. In the ‘80s we had so many really funny movies. For example, Spaceballs absolutely blew my mind as a kid. I was rolling in the aisle of the movie theater, getting popcorn stuck to my clothes. Commercials were also little haikus of humor. Calvin & Hobbes comic books were a huge inspiration.

RNSL: You have a great, loose, flowy style of illustration. Can you tell us a bit about how you started drawing and creating art?

DES: I tried almost every medium as a kid. My parents were both artists. I scribbled right onto the pages of books I liked. To be part of the art. I was always attracted to ink: the blackness against the white paper, and the way it flows. Even though I am a city guy, I have had an affinity for the natural world all my life. I used to go out painting with my mother at about age 10 and try to capture the beauty of old houses and gardens. It’s always been a value of mine to be a fine artist, like Van Gogh or Matisse. In college I got into drawing out on the spot again, which is wonderful to do in New York City. I could do that every day. I still do it whenever I can. Now I bring watercolor, too, another flowy medium, as you say.

RNSL: You both write and illustrate your stories. Do you prefer one mode over the other, and why or why not?

DES: They are both ways of getting an idea down. Especially in the early stages of a book. I can’t do just one. I love going to the painting stage, though. There is a delightful wordlessness about it, like music. It says things that can’t be said in words.

RNSL: I have two cats, who aren't so much independent (they still need me to open the food cans) but who sometimes behave as if I am quite an inferior, hairless, clumsy feline. My husband is often considered the better cat in the household (he is warm and a bit furry, and excels at paper ball games). Do you think you will do a story for cat lovers sometime in the future? (In a very roundabout way, I'm asking what you're working on next.)

DES: Ha, ha! Sounds like you might have a book in there, yourself! Yes, I am open to doing a cat book. I love cats, actually, and have rescued a couple. They are so interesting and weird, as well. Uncanny would be the word. For now, I have a frog book coming next summer, called Tad and Dad. It’s about a little tadpole who jumps into Dad’s lily pad every night. Think co-sleeping with frogs.

RNSL: Thanks for answering my questions, David! I'm off to draft that picture book...


Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 11/14/2014.

  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 

  3. One set of entries per household please. 

  4. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address. 

  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 

  6. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner. 

  7. If you have any questions, feel free to email us. You can review our full contest policy here

  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

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23. Coloring Page Tuesday - Scarecrow!

     Scarecrow - um, not. He's trying to be scary, really is. But the crows seem too interested in that bowl full of apples. Hm.
     CLICK HERE for more Halloween coloring pages!! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, coming out next week! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
**A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**

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24. The Silence of Six is now in stores!

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E.C. Myers

Silence of SixI, Sooz, am so incredibly excited for E.C. Myers’ latest release: The Silence of Six. Not only is Myers a fellow Pub Crawler, but he’s also an Andre Norton Award winner. In other words: he’s a damned good writer.

Plus, even if he didn’t wield magical powers over prose, just read this summary or check out the amazing trailer.

“What is the silence of six, and what are you going to do about it?”

These are the last words uttered by 17-year-old Max Stein’s best friend, Evan. Just moments after hacking into the live-streaming Presidential debate at their high school, he kills himself.

Haunted by the image of Evan’s death, Max’s entire world turns upside down as he suddenly finds himself the target of a corporate-government witch-hunt. Fearing for his life and fighting to prove his own innocence, Max goes on the run with no one to trust and too many unanswered questions.

Max must dust off his own hacking skills and maneuver the dangerous labyrinth of underground hacktivist networks, ever-shifting alliances, and virtual identities — all while hoping to find the truth behind the “Silence of Six” before it’s too late.

AAAH! Don’t you just HAVE to find out what the Silence of Six is??? I know do!

To celebrate this latest release from E.C. Myers, we’re giving away copy of The Silence of Six. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form (sorry! US only!), and we’ll pick a winner next week.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eugene_ClaraE.C. Myers was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts and raised by a single mother and a public library in Yonkers, New York. His Andre Norton Award–winning young adult novel Fair Coin and its sequel, Quantum Coin, were published by Pyr in 2012. His short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines such as Sybil’s GarageShimmer, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. He currently lives with his wife, two doofy cats, and a mild-mannered dog in Philadelphia. You can find traces of E.C. all over the internet, but especially at his websiteTwitterFacebook, and Tumblr.

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25. David Ezra Stein's I'M MY OWN DOG - Interview and Giveaway!

You know I’m a fan of David Ezra Stein (Caldecott Honor winner for INTERRUPTING CHICKEN), who I interviewed a while back for BECAUSE AMELIA SMILED . Well, David has a new one out which every dog owner can relate to. It’s called I’M MY OWN DOG. I’m thrilled to have David back to talk about his latest creation!

Q. David - Congratulations on I’M MY OWN DOG! You seem to be constantly playing with your illustration methods. How did you come up with this lovely style of thick and thin lines and vibrant color washes?
Thanks, Elizabeth! The art for a book stems from my explorations as an artist in my daily life, as well as what I’ve been doing in previous books. It’s very wonky. Maybe I’m excited about putting two colors next to each other, or about a certain order of layering crayon with pencil or paint. When I have a book I’m going to the final art on, I am looking for the best way to tell the new story with pictures. This usually means sitting down with all my art supplies around, and for lack of a better term, messing around. It takes a lot of courage to make room for this messing, and I can easily become discouraged and want to give up. But I keep on going, and after a while (usually a month or so) I use the right kind of line on the right paper, and the right colors, and it’s like a door opens into the world of the book.

Q. Truly, how do you know when you’ve ‘hit it’ on a style? Does something click for you? (I ask this because I’m currently trying to switch up how I work.)
I get this warm feeling in my gut when something is working well. During my messing around, I look at the paper and I think, “Well, that looks like something!” Sometimes I have been working a long time, and feel like it’s not going well. Then I go out and do something else for a while, and come back. My eyes hit the work, and I know. Either it’s there or it isn’t. But I usually feel like it’s not as bad as I thought, in fact maybe it’s great!

Q. Was this story inspired by a dog you know?
Well, the look of the dog is based on my cousin Madelyn’s Boston Terrier. I had chosen a bulldog for the role, but I wasn’t happy with his coloring. Not graphic enough. I was procrastinating on FaceBook and saw photos of my cousin’s dog taking a walk. He has a beautiful black and white coat. I decided to use his coloring. Thanks, cuz!
      The story itself comes from, I think, a basic human quandary of wanting independence but needing to have companionship in life. Kids feel this as they begin to socialize, and also as they interact with their immediate family.

Q. How long does it take you to complete a picture book?
Once it is in the docket and it’s the main thing I’m working on, under a year. But I have taken up to 13 years (Because Amelia Smiled), or as a little as a month (I did a book called Tim & Sam for Hooked on Phonics in a month, from text to finished art.)

Q. What’s the most wonderful thing about being a full-time children’s book creator?
The possibilities of exploring funny ideas and making art. You never know what will come along out of the ether, that can be captured on paper. That sense of discovery is what keeps me ticking along.

Wishing you much continued success!!

David Ezra Stein is the creator of many award-winning picture books, including Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor, Because Amelia Smiled, and Dinosaur Kisses. He lives with his family in Kew Gardens, New York.

Candlewick has kindly agreed to send a free copy of I’M MY OWN DOG to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win - enter below.

11/3/2014 - Smart Books for Smart Kids
11/4/2014 - Read Now, Sleep Later
11/5/2014 - Cracking the Cover
11/6/2014 - Elizabeth Dulemba's blog
11/7/2014 - The Fourth Musketeer
11/8/2014 - Picture Book Palooza
11/9/2014 - Randomly Reading
11/10/2014 - Children's Corner
11/11/2014 - Flowering Minds
11/12/2014 - Teach Mentor Texts
11/13/2014 - KidLit Frenzy
11/14/2014 - Literacy Toolbox

I'M MY OWN DOG. Copyright © 2014 by David Ezra Stein. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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