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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Giveaways, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 945
1. Coloring Page Tuesday - L is for Lemur

      Adding to my alphabet of reading critters, I give you a lemur! They're so cute with their long ringed tails. Do you suppose they like to read THE JUNGLE BOOK?
     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.
AWARDS
**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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2. The Shadow Lantern, by Teresa Flavin | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a hardcover copy of The Shadow Lantern, by Teresa Flavin. Giveaway begins September 30, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 26, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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3. THE CURSE OF THE BUTTONS by Anne Ylvisaker - Guest post and GIVEAWAY!

Today, I'm happy to welcome Anne Ylvisaker as she talks about her new mid-grade...

     One of the joys of reading a novel is sinking into the setting, getting to know a distinct place at a particular time. As a writer, discovering the setting of a story is one of my favorite parts of the process.
      When I begin writing a novel, I have a who, and often a what, but finding the where and when usually takes some exploration. I try my main character in different settings to see what feels right. I pour over photographs, walk the streets where I live, and drop my protagonist into different time periods and places until I find their story.
      My middle grade novel The Luck of the Buttons (Candlewick, 2011) was originally set in 1970s Minneapolis, Minnesota until a Grant Wood painting inspired me to set Tugs Button’s story, and then her cousin Ned Button’s Button Down (Candlewick, 2012) in fictional Goodhue, Iowa, circa 1929.
      For my newest book, however, the setting came ready made. The Curse of the Buttons (Candlewick, 2014) is Tugs and Ned’s Great-granddaddy Ike’s boyhood story. Because bits of Granddaddy’s life slip into The Luck of the Buttons and Button Down, I knew his adventure would be set during the Civil War, and this time there was a real town I was anxious to use. My husband was born in Keokuk, Iowa, and from the first time I heard the name, I loved to say it out loud (KEY-u-kuk), and hoped to find a story to set there.
      I love river towns and Keokuk is the ultimate river town. Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, one of my favorite river town storytellers, even lived in Keokuk for a time. Called the Gate City, Keokuk’s place at the confluence of the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers puts it on a line between north and south, east and west. This unique geographic situation made the city particularly valuable and volatile during the Civil War. Thousands of soldiers mustered in Keokuk. Freedom seekers crossed the Des Moines River and found their way north through the town. Sympathies were divided even among family members.

      I read Raymond E. Garrison’s Tales of Early Keokuk Homes, which is full of fascinating snippets of life stories, many from the 1850s and 60s; names, like Albirdie; and jobs people held, like boatman, carriage maker, and butter and egg man. I could imagine Ike’s adventures among those people, walking into Chatham Square Church to discover a clandestine meeting, running down to the levee when a steamboat arrived with the announcement that Iowa’s soldiers were being called up to war.
      While the main character births the idea of a novel, the setting unleashes questions that make the story unfurl. Questions I hope will propel readers through The Curse of the Buttons include: What was it like to live in a town between North and South at the dawn of the Civil War? How did children understand the issues of the war? What were towns like after the most of the men left? What if a boy in Iowa met a boy who was escaping slavery? What if a child was faced with having to make an ethical decision while the adults around him spouted conflicting beliefs? I am excited to share Ike and his summer of 1861 adventures in Keokuk, and hope that readers find as much satisfaction as I did in connecting character to setting, question to answer.

Anne Ylvisaker writes in a tiny cottage in a green belt ravine behind her house in Monterey, California. She is the author of five middle grade novels, all from Candlewick Press, including Dear Papa (2002), named a Booklist Top Ten Youth First Novel, Little Klein (2007), Midwest Booksellers Choice award winner, and three books about the comically unlucky Button family.

GIVEAWAY!
Candlewick has generously offered a free copy of The Curse of the Buttons to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win - enter below.

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4. Temple Run, by Chase Wilder | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a Temple Run prize pack. Temple Run, the fastest-growing mobile game app, is taking its biggest leap yet, jumping into children's books! Giveaway begins September 27, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 26, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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5. Atlantis Rising, by T.A. Barron’s | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Atlantis Rising, written by T. A. Barron. Giveaway begins September 26, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 25, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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6. Friday Feature: Damaged Goods Giveaway




Hey everybody, my name is Kai Strand. I was unpacking books at a signing and came across a copy of King of Bad with a torn cover. Bummer. I can’t sell that! But my loss is your gain. Because I can hold a giveaway instead!

Along with a slightly damaged copy of King of Bad, I’m also giving away several sets of character trading cards. These cards have been specially designed for book one in the series. There will be a separate set of cards designed for each book – so be among the first to own a set.

About the book:

Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.

He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?

Available in print or electronic: Whiskey Creek Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble 

Excerpt:

“I guess I’m not comfortable being something. I’ve never aspired to do much of anything and it seems like a lot of pressure to suddenly learn I’m supposedly a super villain and that I have to learn how to do it right.”

“You don’t have to do anything, kid. You are what you are. We are just here for you if you want to learn how to do more.” Pyro leaned back in her chair and crossed her leg. “Let me start closer to the beginning. Once upon a time…”

Jeff curled his lip and grunted. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Yes, I am. This is no fairytale.”

“How many of us are there? Is this the only school or are they everywhere? What happens if I decide not to get training?”

“Whoa, boy! Rein in the questions. I’ll get to them.” Pyro’s foot bobbed as she studied Jeff. “I don’t usually recruit. I work in administration, a fundraiser. They asked me to take you on because they suspected you had fire. So let’s start there.”

Pyro explained Mr. Sims initial encounter with Jeff and how he’d reported to Tubs. “That’s when Tubs got me involved. See, Sims felt your S.V. energy when you blew to fan the flames. Since you were playing with fire, Tubs suspected you had it and he knows that fire is a dangerous new ability and best taught by someone with experience. You know, when I first saw you, kid, I thought they were making way more of it than was needed. You were hanging out with your friends. Giving your sister a hard time. Taking out the trash like a good son, but there was nothing about you that struck me as special. Or even super for that matter. But then you did something that changed my mind completely.”

Jeff sat up straight in his chair then slouched back down again. He felt very conflicted hearing that Pyro had been shadowing him for so long and he hadn’t even known it. “What? What did I do?”

“You blew out a match.”

Jeff frowned. “How could blowing fire out prove I have fire in me?”

“It didn’t. You have fire in your hands, just like I do.” Pyro raised her right hand, palm up. Her fingertips were already swollen and throbbing. A spark emitted from each finger and flowed together in the center of her palm. A marble sized ball of fire ebbed and crackled in the middle of her hand. She studied it. “When you learn control, you’ll be able to start fires whenever you want. But what is unique about you, is you will also be able to douse them.”

Pyro held the fireball in front of Jeff. “Blow.”

Jeff shrugged and blew on the fire as if extinguishing birthday candles. A thin frost doused the flame and coated Pyro’s hand. Jeff blinked, thinking he was seeing things. He scraped a finger through the frost on her palm and touched it to his tongue. Cold and wet.
Pyro wiped her hand on her pants leg. “Fire and ice. I can’t even begin to imagine how you do that. But, Jeff, I can tell you no one has ever had opposing elements. Ever.”

Reviews:

I found myself falling in love with all the characters in the book. I loved the different abilities each one of them have. Kai did an outstanding job writing this book. I could not put it down. It is filled with lots of action and even some romance. Everything you want in a book. Victoria for Page Turners Blog

Can't wait for the sequel! – Christopher White for Amazon

About the author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

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7. Aaron Becker's QUEST..


Aaron Becker's debut picture book, JOURNEY, took the kid lit world by storm and won a Caldecott Honor. So we've been anxiously awaiting his second, QUEST, which I have to say, is just as brilliant. They're both wordless, epic stories unlike anything the children's lit world has seen before. I am thrilled to have Aaron here today to tell us more about it...

Q. I’ve heard you used a 3-D program to get the castle and other landscape elements just right in QUEST, but there’s still a ton of atmosphere. How did you take a 3-D model and give it such life?
A.
I come from a film background and the 3D training I received was always just a means to an end - in other words, it’s a tool in the belt, but the danger is that things can end up looking computerized as you’ve suggested, just as they do in movies. So I’ve always been very aware of this tendency. By the time I do my watercolors, the information (perspective, lighting, design) I get from the 3D models is really just used like reference, almost like a photograph or scale model might aid an illustrator in their work. It was important to me that anything from the computer world didn’t end up in the final illustrations, so I tend to just work traditionally at that point with ink and watercolor. Occasionally, there’s a light printout of some of the lighting information from the 3D models, but this gets quickly buried underneath layers of paint.

Q. Even though QUEST has no words, the ideas are quite complicated. I love the magic crayons - can you explain the idea behind those a little further?
A.
There’s an entire mythology behind QUEST and the universe of the JOURNEY trilogy; I had to work out a large back story and the markers are an important part of it. In the end, you don’t necessarily find out about all of the myths that drive the adventure at hand, but the details are there and they support a sense of a larger world that’s quite important for fueling the imagination of the reader. In the wordless realm, this is especially important. Without details that are open to interpretation, the books would fall flat. All this is to say - yes, there’s more behind the markers, but no I won’t tell you! Like a magician and his tricks, knowing what’s behind it all ruins the fun!

Q. Is it the power of the rainbow, or simply the power of COLOR that holds the magic in the alternate world?
A.
What do you think? :)
ME: Oh dangit! Hmmm!

Q. I love the purple bird, a carryover from JOURNEY. Does it have special symbolism to you?
A.
I think of the bird as a sort of R2D2 character that knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen in this story. She guides the characters to where they need to be to help push their destinies along. In fact, if you look in the books, you’ll notice she’s always looking in the direction of where I want the reader to look. Sometimes she knows more than the girl and boy about what’s around the corner (or chasing them from behind!) Symbolically, the bird is a symbol of the freedom that comes with being unaffected as a child - the wonder that comes with believing in those magical corners of the world that we usually forget as grown ups. But perhaps I’m giving away too much here!

Q. You’ve been an “overnight success” with JOURNEY and now QUEST too, and yet I know there’s no such thing. What was your journey to publication?
A.
I went to my first SCBWI conference 15 years ago. In fact, I met my current editor at Candlewick at a retreat in 1999. We reconnected many years later, after I returned to art school to hone my skills and worked in the film industry for nearly a decade. So yes, it was a long road, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I think I needed all that time to figure out how I wanted to tell a story.
(Here's an image still in its 3-D mode...

And in watercolor...)


Q. What is your general method and how long does it take you to create a piece?
A.
The most time consuming part of any project for me is getting the story right. The sketches, the constant wrangling, editing, back-stepping - all of the normal trials and tribulations of any writer. By the time I’m ready to do my final artwork, the bulk of my “work” is done. But the paintings do take time. I take my rough sketches and make them tighter, print them out onto watercolor paper very lightly, then do the inking, and then the watercolor. Before any of this, each illustration is planned out extensively on the computer so that all of my compositional and color decisions are already made. At each stage of the process, I like to focus on only one or two things at a time, so with the watercolor, I’m just focusing on pigment and water and not story-telling or design. I’d say these books are taking me about a year and a half from start to finish, with the artwork taking about four and a half months of that.

Q. I know the publicity wheels are keeping you VERY busy, so I appreciate your time and wish you much continued success!!
A.
THANK YOU!

Watch the official book trailer at VIMEO:

GIVEAWAY!
Candlewick has kindly agreed to send a beautiful, free copy of QUEST to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below:



QUEST. Copyright © 2014 by Aaron Becker. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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8. The Clockwork Dagger {Blog Tour & Giveaway}

Hello & welcome to THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER blog tour. I'm so thrilled to be on the tour. Check out today's post below & be sure to enter to win! By: Beth Cato Published by: Harper Voyager To Be Released on: September 16th, 2014 Add it to Goodreads Get it From: Amazon | B&N Book Blurb: An extremely fun and very commercial fantasy debut, in the bestselling vein of Trudi Canavan and Gail

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9. Coloring Page Tuesdays - Honey Biscuits

     Where's your favorite reading spot? This bear likes to munch on honey biscuits while reading a good book. Do you have a reading ritual?
     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.
AWARDS
**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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10. Tabula Rasa, by Kristen Lippert-Martin | Book Giveaway

Enter to win an autographed copy of Tabula Rasa, written by Kristen Lippert-Martin. Giveaway begins September 23, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 22, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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11. SURVIVAL COLONY 9 {Excerpt & Giveaway}

From Simon & Schuster Written by Joshua David Bellin Fourteen-year-old Querry Genn's world is a desert where small groups of survivors struggle against heat, starvation, and the creatures known as the Skaldi, monsters that appeared on the planet after war swept away the old world. Suffering from amnesia brought on by an accident, Querry struggles to recover the lost memories that might save

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12. Twelve Dancing Unicorns, by Alissa Heyman | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Twelve Dancing Unicorns, written by Alissa Heyman and illustrated by Justin Gerard. Giveaway begins September 21, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 20, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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13. How Do Fairy Tales Affect Today's Teens? (& POISONED APPLES Giveaway)

When Hannah emailed me about POISONED APPLES, I could basically see her excitement seeping out into the email. It isn't often that she's this stirred up about a book, so when she is, I pay attention. So, of course I agreed to be a part of this blog tour (I promise, Hannah didn't threaten me . . . much). Check out Christine Heppermann's thoughts on Fairy Tales today, and make sure you enter to

0 Comments on How Do Fairy Tales Affect Today's Teens? (& POISONED APPLES Giveaway) as of 9/21/2014 2:04:00 AM
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14. BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Thompson - Guest Post and Giveaway

I've got a slightly different sort of book for you to learn about today... It's called BE A CHANGEMAKER by Laurie Thompson and it's about kids taking charge to change their worlds for the better - powerful stuff! And something I fully support, which is why I was thrilled Laurie wanted to stop by to talk about it...


     I started working on Be a Changemaker in 2004. At the time, I was working on another book about ordinary people who had done extraordinary things. This is a common theme in much of my work, probably because I yearn to do extraordinary things despite feeling so very ordinary myself!
      While researching that book, I came across David Bornstein’s How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, which contains case studies of social entrepreneurs around the world who started innovative programs to solve various kinds of social problems in their local communities. I was so excited by Bornstein’s stories of individuals who had built lasting, meaningful organizations from the ground up and the myriad ways they had directly improved people’s lives. I remember shaking the book at my husband and saying, “You know who needs a book like this? Teenagers! If they knew they were capable of making the changes they care about, the world would be a better place for all of us. Why doesn’t someone write a book like this for them?” Obviously, that was a light bulb moment! I was someone, after all, so I would just have to write the book myself. With a new focus, I turned all my energies toward developing what would become Be a Changemaker.
      The people profiled in How to Change the World were all fellows in an organization called Ashoka, whose slogan is “Everyone a changemaker.” I soon discovered that Ashoka had a division called Youth Venture, which is specifically aimed at empowering young people to make positive changes in their communities, and one of their flagship offices was in Seattle, not far from my home. It felt like it was meant to be!
      Youth Venture invited me to attend a community workshop they were offering. The energy and enthusiasm there was infectious! The teens were thrilled to talk about the problems they saw in their communities and excited to work together to try to find solutions. Seeing them in action validated my ideas for Be a Changemaker. Everyone I met from the Youth Venture staff was supportive, too, despite the fact that I had never even written a book, much less published one! They knew that sometimes passion and persistence can be more important than experience, and their confidence in me was a huge boost.
      I got to work researching, drafting, and revising a proposal. I submitted the proposal for critique, got positive feedback, and kept going. I submitted again, got less positive feedback, and put it away. I learned more. I went back and started over again and again and again, round and round. After six years of this, I felt like I was finally getting somewhere and submitted the proposal to an agent. She liked it but wanted me to address a few issues. Feeling like I only had one chance to get it right, I worked on that revision for an entire year. It worked! Surely the hard part was over, right?
      Anyone who knows publishing knows it’s rarely that easy. It still took a while to find the perfect home for it, and then I had to finish writing it and go through the editorial process under tight deadlines and facing some unexpected medical challenges throughout. After all the initial waiting and painstaking refinement, I worried that the mad dash to the finish might cause me to lose sight of what I had been trying to accomplish and make me miss the mark I’d been shooting for all of those years.
      In the end, though, it turned out even better than I ever imagined. My family was behind me every step of the way. I was fortunate enough to work with a team of people who understood the vision and helped me nurture it all along the way. And, eventually, the process itself ended up coming full circle in the most fulfilling ways: I got to profile Divine Bradley, the inspirational guest speaker at that first Youth Venture workshop, in chapter two of Be a Changemaker; Bill Drayton, the founder of Ashoka, wrote the foreword; and David Bornstein read an advance copy and provided a quote. To an ordinary gal like me, that’s some pretty extraordinary stuff. And looking back on it now, it was worth every minute.

Laurie's favorite writing spot is her Treadmill Desk. Click here to learn more about it.


GIVEAWAY!
Blue Slip Media has kindly agreed to give a free copy of BE A CHANGEMAKER to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below:

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15. Captain No Beard Series and Pirate Ship Giveaway of Treasures

The Children’s Book Review | September 19, 2014 In Honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day … Enter to win a complete autographed set of the Captain No Beard series, by award-winning author Carole P. Roman, and a Pirate Ship to deepen the imaginative play encouraged by these great books! One (1) grand prize winner receives: An autographed […]

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16. Friday Feature: Who R U Really? Book Birthday & Elixir Bound Sale and Giveaway


It’s a BOOKBirthday!
The birth of a debut book is often a long labor of love, and Margo Kelly’s Who R U Really? is no exception. Margo finished the first draft of the manuscript in 2010! More than four years later, more than four title changes, and way-more-than four revisions … it has finally arrived! WAHOO!

*.-*.-**throws confetti**.-*.-*
When Thea discovers a new role-playing game online, she breaks her parents’ rules to play. And in the world of the game, Thea falls for an older boy named Kit whose smarts and savvy can’t defeat his near-suicidal despair. Soon, he’s texting her, asking her to meet him, and talking in vague ways about how they can be together forever. As much as she suspects that this is wrong, Thea is powerless to resist Kit’s allure, and hurtles toward the very fate her parents feared most. Who R U Really? will excite you and scare you, as Thea’s life spins out of control.

“Kelly has painted a realistic picture of how a smart girl can get caught up in something dangerous online. … Guaranteed to give readers goosebumps.” -- School Library Journal.  (http://www.bookverdict.com)

“Thea’s mistakes, while frustrating to encounter, are frighteningly plausible, and the relationships among characters are well–fleshed out, especially between mother and daughter. Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner.” -- Kirkus Reviews (www.kirkusreviews.com)

Who R U Really? published in hardcover and e-book versions by Merit Press (F+W Media) on September 18, 2014.

Buy online:

You can also enter for a chance to win a copy in the Goodreads giveaway here.

*.-*.-**throws confetti**.-*.-*

Margo Kellyis a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Who R U Really? is her first novel. Margowelcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs.

Follow her online:
Twitter: @MargoWKelly

Scheduled Appearances:
September 26, 2014 – 5pm – Book Signing at Hastings in Meridian, Idaho
September 27, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Hastings on Overland in Boise, Idaho
October 3, 2014 – 7pm – Book Launch Party at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho
October 11, 2014 – 4pm – Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in Boise, Idaho



That's not all! 



My fellow writer friend, Katie Carroll's YA fantasy, Elixir Bound, is on sale (ebook version) for only $.99 until September 27th. And there's a giveaway on Goodreads for a signed paper back. First, here's her book:




Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of Faway Forest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone.

It is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings that will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.




Ebook on sale for $.99 until September 27:

Prefer paperback? Enter the Goodreads giveaway here.

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17. A CAT NAMED TIM by John Martz - Giveaway!


A CAT NAMED TIM by John Martz is sort of like Richard Scarry for the more mature set. It's a series of stories of adorable and endearing characters such as "Doug & Mouse, Connie (a girl with big glasses), Mr. and Mrs. Hamhock," and of course, "Tim" - all in one book. It also reminds me a bit of Hello, Mr. Hulot in it's mini-story, yet graphic style approach. John stopped by to tell us more about it...

Q. John, Congratulations on A CAT NAMED TIM! How did the book come to be?
A.
Thanks! I have illustrated a handful of picture books for kids, and Annie at Koyama Press told me she was interested in publishing comics for kids and young readers, and asked if I’d be interested in something like that. My kids books up to this point have all been written by someone other than myself, so I jumped at the chance to do a book for kids in which I was both the author and illustrator.
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. Koyama Press does funky graphic novels and artsy books for a wide age-range. Some of their work is definitely not for kids, while other works are for the kids at heart - like yours. How did you hook up with Koyama Press?
A.
I first met Annie at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We had emailed a few times before then, but hadn’t met. She expressed interest in my comics, and we’ve since worked on a few projects together, including The Big Team Society League Book of Answers, which is a collection of jam comics, and certainly not for young children. My style is heavily influenced by picture books and newspaper comic strips and Saturday morning cartoons, and while I don’t always do kid-friendly work, I do think I come somewhat naturally to it, and working with Annie and Ed Kanerva has been a joy.

Q. Who do you consider your target audience?
A.
I didn’t have a target audience in mind when I began working on the book. I wanted primarily to take the improvisational process I learned from working on both Team Society League and my comic strip Machine Gum, and apply it to a kid-friendly cast of characters. As the book took shape I saw potential to accommodate children who can’t yet read or are just learning; the scenarios and gags are fairly uncomplicated, and it’s mostly wordless. The minimal dialogue there is is more textural than textual, and I hope that the illustrations and scenes allow children to make up their own stories and explanations for what’s going on.
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. There are very few words in A CAT NAMED TIM, mostly series of illustrations with very clever twists. Can you describe your format?
A.
The book is primarily a series of double-page spreads, each one an independent gag or scenario. I don’t know if I can easily sum up the format other than to say that I enjoy playing with the formal elements of comics, and trying different panel layouts and different ways of directing the reader through an image or a series of images. I’m particularly drawn to the idea that comics don’t need to be read solely panel-by-panel, and that inviting a reader to examine the page as a whole, and see different moments in time simultaneously, is something unique to comics and illustration, and a fun thing to exploit.

Q. What is your illustration method and how do you conceptualize the stories behind your narratives?
A.
Each scenario started in my sketchbook as super-rough barely-legible-to-anyone-but-me thumbnail drawing. A sketchbook allows me to get ideas out my head quickly and with minimal fuss. These thumbnails are often only a starting point, and I like to save some of the final problem-solving, details, and specifics for when I’m working on the finished art.
      The illustrations for this book were drawn digitally in Photoshop. The process is similar to the way I learned to draw comics, in which I start with a “pencilled” line drawing of the page that acts as the skeleton of the finished artwork. I put together a palette of colours for the entire book, and I do a quick low-res colour study for each page before starting the final art so that the painting/colouring process itself, which is mostly done on a single layer, involves little to no thinking as all the planning has been taken care of.
     Click the image to see a larger version in a new window.

Q. It's truly an unusual book, and yet one that I think will really grow on people. Kids will love studying all the fun things you include in your illustrations. What were your influences with all the little details going on?
A.
You mention Richard Scarry in your introduction, and his books were a huge influence, of course. I loved his books as a kid, and I could spend hours poring over all the little details and miniature dramas in his busy pages. I have so many other influences, but for this book a short list would have to include Richard Scarry, Jim Henson, vintage Sesame Street, Sergio Aragonés, Where’s Waldo? books, Hanna-Barbera, Super Mario games, and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

Q. How are you getting the word out about A CAT NAMED TIM?
A.
The book debuts/debuted at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda Maryland, and I’m doing a joint launch party with Britt Wilson for her Koyama book Cat Dad, King of the Goblins at the kids comic store Little Island in Toronto on October 26.
      I’m grateful to be published by Koyama Press. Annie has fostered a lot of community and good will in the comics world, and that sort of thing (in addition to putting out good books) goes a long way in terms of generating buzz and support.
      You can also follow me on Twitter, @johnmartz, which is my social media platform of choice.

Q. I look forward to seeing more from you in the future!
A.
Thanks!

Enjoy this great video about John and his work (or CLICK HERE if the video gives you any issues):

John has also been very active with the TD Summer Reading Club in Canada.

GIVEAWAY!
Koyama Press has kindly agreed to send a free copy of A CAT NAMED TIM to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below:

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18. BLACKBIRD by Anna Carey {Giveaway}

Hello & Welcome to the BLACKBIRD blog tour! Check out today's feature below & enter to win a signed copy of BLACKBIRD! About the Book Written by: Anna Carey Published by: Harper Teen Releasing on: September 16th, 2014 Add it to Goodreads Get it From: Amazon | B&N Read a Sample A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react,

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19. Of Monsters and Madness, by Jessica Verday | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Of Monsters and Madness, by Jessica Verday. Giveaway begins September 13, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 12, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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20. MIchelle Knudsen's EVIL LIBRARIAN - guest post and giveaway!

A dear friend of mine - Michelle Knudsen (of THE DRAGON OF TRELIAN, THE LIBRARY LION, etc...) has a new novel coming out called EVIL LIBRARIAN and it is a hoot! I'm thrilled she stopped by to talk to us about it today...

People often want to know the story behind a story — where the idea came from, what the process was from blank page to publication. The later stages are usually easy to talk about, but the beginning part is always hard for me. I try to pay attention, when I first start to get an idea, because I know people are going to ask me about it later ... but I’m usually just so excited to feel an idea coming together that I don’t want to think too much about where it came from and risk messing it up. Ideas can be fragile things when they first begin to materialize. And then of course once it feels solid enough to hold up to more intense scrutiny, often I’ve forgotten what the initial moment of inspiration actually was.
      Here is what I do remember about the very beginning of Evil Librarian: I wrote the first draft of the first chapter in late March/early April 2009. I was in my second semester at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, working toward my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and needed a break from the heavier fantasy novel I was focusing on as my main project. I seem to remember starting it while on a plane, but I may be making that up. It was only the second time I’d attempted a novel in first person (the first being my other VCFA novel-in-progress, started a few months before). I’d been purposely choosing first person at school because it was hard for me; close third person was my go-to POV, and I wanted to push myself to try different and more challenging things. It had been a real challenge with the first novel, slow and sometimes painful, but Cyn’s voice in Evil Librarian came so quickly and naturally to me that writing her story was a pleasure. I had no idea what the story was going to be about when I began. I just started writing. And then I liked it, and I kept going.
     I kept working on Evil Librarian throughout my MFA program (along with my other novel, various picture book drafts, critical essays, etc.), and by the time I graduated I had about 80 pages. I sent those to my editor, who liked them (yay!) and then worked on a synopsis to show her I could figure out where the story was going to go. And then I wrote another, longer synopsis, and then a chapter-by-chapter outline (another first for me) and then eventually I had the whole novel, which went through another couple of revisions under my editor’s guidance and then a lot of last-minute tweaks and fixes until they finally made me stop touching it and it was done.
      One of the hardest things about this book, other than eventually trying to figure out what was actually going to happen in the story, was getting past my fears of trying to be funny. At the beginning, I could see that at least some of the initial pages I’d written were funny; my advisors at school thought they were, and when I read little parts out loud at occasional writerly gatherings, the people listening laughed in all the right places. That was nice. When you read something serious to an audience, even if it’s great, the most reaction you get in the moment is sort of a hushed “hmmmm” sound. But when you’re funny, people laugh. Sometimes a lot. And it feels like very honest feedback — there they are, in the moment, reacting with pleasure to your work. It was amazing. But then I realized I had to keep being funny. On purpose. How could I manage to be funny for an entire novel? What if I couldn’t? What if only the beginning was funny, and then everyone kept waiting for the next funny part and it never came?
      One of my MFA advisors wisely advised me to stop worrying about it. I had enough other stuff to worry about; the plot, for example, since in the beginning I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. And I had Cyn’s voice, and Cyn was funny. So if I just kept going, it stood to reason that more of her humor would come across, and I could trust her to keep my readers engaged and laughing. So that is what I tried to do. And of course there was a lot of other stuff to focus on: not just the plot, but what I wanted the book to ultimately be about, the themes underneath the story, the relationships among the characters, the pacing and the (hopefully) exciting or scary parts and the integration of all the musical theater elements that Cyn and I both loved so much. It ended up being a story about a lot of things, I think, and also brought back a lot of my own high school memories, which were wonderful to re-experience. My high school friends are still some of my best and closest friends today, and although none of them actually make a specific appearance in the book, all of them influenced my take on this story and my vision for what Cyn’s high school experience was like.

BLOG BOOK TOUR!
Visit other blogs on Mikki's tour for EVIL LIBRARIAN:
WhoRuBlog, http://www.whorublog.com/ - 9/9/2014
Elizabeth O. Dulemba, http://dulemba.com - 9/13/2014
Random Chalk Talk, http://randomchalktalk.blogspot.com/ - 9/10/2014
Books 4 Your Kids, http://www.books4yourkids.com/ - 9/11/2014
Green Bean Teen Queen, http://www.greenbeanteenqueen.com/ - 9/12/2014
Katie's Book Blog, http://katiesbookblog.com/ - 9/15/2014
Word Spelunking, http://www.wordspelunking.blogspot.com/ - 9/16/2-14
Book Chic Club, http://www.bookchicclub.blogspot.com/ - 9/17/2014

GIVEAWAY
Candlewick has kindly agreed to give away one free copy of EVIL LIBRARIAN to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below.

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21. {Giveaway} Paying it Forward with Futuredaze 2: Reprise

By Erin Underwood One thing that people may not know about the science fiction community is the strong ethic to "pay it forward." [i.e. When someone shows you an act of kindness, instead of paying the person back, you pay that kindness forward to someone else.] This is one thing that I love about the people as well as the SF genre. It's a philosophy that I try to live by, especially

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22. The Grisha Series Giveaway

   

This signed set of Leigh Bardugo's Grisha series could be yours! Shadow & Bone (paperback), Siege & Storm (paperback), and Ruin & Rising (hardcover)... and maybe some other goodies thrown in. What could they be? Buttons? Nail polish? Etherealki-blue kefta not included in the prize pack, though.

We love Leigh so much, we've already put her latest novel, The Dregs (due out summer 2015) on our to-be-read shelves. We cannot wait.

US addresses only (until I properly hit the lottery and can afford worldwide shipping).

Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 09/21/2014.
  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!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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23. Monday Mishmash 9/15/14


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. Scholastic Book Fair  I'm helping out with the Scholastic Book Fair at my daughter's school this week. That's always dangerous because I can't be around books and not spend a lot of money.
  2. Kiss of Death  I have a FREE Touch of Death prequel novella from Alex's POV. It's no secret I love Alex, so I had to tell his story. It's been in my head since I wrote Touch of Death. Check out the cover below, and download it FREE here.
  3. Into the Fire Challenge  Have you seen my #IntotheFire Challenge? If you review the book on Amazon before October 10, you'll be entered to win an awesome prize. You could become a phoenix in the Birth of the Phoenix series and get signed copies of all the books! Check out my video about the challenge here.
  4. FREE!  In celebration of the releases of Perfect For You and Into the Fire, I'm making Campus Crush permanently FREE. It's already free on Nook and I'm trying to get Amazon to price match. Hopefully soon.
  5. Milayna Cover Reveal  Michelle Pickett has a cover reveal today. Milayna releases March 17 through Clean Teen Publishing. Check it out. 
    It’s hard being good all the time. Everyone needs to be bad once in a while. But for seventeen-year-old Milayna, being good isn’t a choice. It’s a job requirement. And it’s a job she can’t quit. Born a demi-angel, Milayna steps in when danger and demons threaten the people around her, but being half angel isn’t all halos and happiness. Azazel, Hell’s demon, wants Milayna’s power and he’ll do anything to get it. But he only has until her eighteenth birthday, after which she becomes untouchable.

    With the help of other demi-angels, Milayna thwarts the trouble Azazel sends her way. Fighting by her side is Chay. He’s a demi-angel who’s sinfully gorgeous, and Milayna falls hard. But is Chay her true love… or her nemesis in disguise?

    When she learns of a traitor in her group, there’s no one she can trust… not even the one she loves.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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24. Happy Book Birthday to The 8th Continent by Matt London!

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featuring

Matt London

8CIt’s always fun to celebrate an author’s debut novel, and this one’s in the family; Matt London is a dear friend of mine, as well as Jordon Hamessly London’s other half. Matt’s one of the hardest working writers I know, and I’m so excited that people finally will be able to read his novel. Tomorrow, his first book, The 8th Continent, will start finding its way into the hands and hearts of middle grade readers — as well as older readers who love a good adventure story and anyone who hasn’t quite grown up.

Yep, I’m definitely the latter. While I was reading an advance copy of The 8th Continent last weekend, it kept reminding me of favorite stories from my childhood. I used to love adventure books starring smart kids like the Danny Dunn series by Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams; the Alvin Fernald books by Clifford B. Hicks; the Three Investigators by Robert Arthur, Jr.; Matthew Looney by Jerome Beatty, Jr.; and of course, the Tom Swift books by Victor Appleton. It also captured the same humor, epicness, and thrills of one of the best cartoons of all time, DuckTales, and the fun and gee-whiz factor of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Spy Kids.

I know I’ve just horribly dated myself, but what I’m getting at is I loved The 8th Continent, but 10-year-old me would have been obsessed with it. Oh, for a time machine…

The 8th Continent has broad appeal in the age of its readers and their interests, but if your kids love science, technology, and biology, you have to give them this book. There are lots of teachable moments throughout, from little quizzes forced upon the main characters — 10-year-old Evie and her 11-year-old brother, Rick — to discussions you can have with young readers about ecology, zoology, and even morality and family dynamics.

There’s also plenty of action and excitement with some tense chapters that will keep you turning the pages, and Matt sure knows how to turn a phrase. His liberal use of goofy similes always made me smile, and I often laughed out loud. One of my favorite sentences: “And then he saw it, a vacant white socket behind the wires, looking at him like a surprised ghost.” So adults will enjoy reading this adventure with their kids, too, and it could also be an introduction to other stories they’ll like: Matt has filled the book with sly nods to books like The Wind in the Willows and Charlotte’s Web, and when kids pick up on them, they’ll probably be grinning as much as I was.

But wait, what’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:

Evie and Rick Lane are determined to transform the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a real life pile of floating garbage — into an eighth continent, using a special formula developed by their father. This new continent will be a place where their family can live free from the intervention of Winterpole, a global rule-maker run by bumbling bureaucrats. But eleven-year-old pink-and-plastic-obsessed Vesuvia Piffle, the secret mastermind behind the villainous Condo Corp, also has her sights set on this new land, and she wants to use it to build a kind of Miami-on-steroids. Now, it’s a race against time and across the world as the kids gather the items they need to create their continent. Because whoever controls the eighth continent controls our future. And the future can’t be both “green” and pink.

In honor of Matt’s release day, I’m giving away one hardcover copy of The 8th Continent (open internationally). To enter, just leave a comment saying what you would do with your own new continent and then fill out the Rafflecopter form below. And be sure to wish Matt a happy release day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats again, Matt! I’m really glad I won’t have too long to wait for the next book. :) I think this is a charming and clever series that will stick with kids for a long time and one day be remembered as a childhood favorite by a geeky 36-year-old reader like me.

EC MyersE.C. Myers was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts and raised by a single mother and the public library in Yonkers, New York. He is the author of the Andre Norton Award–winning young adult novel Fair Coin and Quantum Coin, as well as numerous short stories. His new novel, The Silence of Six, a thriller about teenage hackers and government conspiracies, will be out on November 5, 2014 from Adaptive Books. You can find traces of him all over the internet, but especially at http://ecmyers.net and on Twitter: @ecmyers.

 

 

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25. Coloring Page Tuesday - Crows Nest

     Friday is Talk Like a Pirate Day! Methinks our young pirate might run the ship aground if he keeps his nose buried in Treasure Island instead of on the view in front of him. Arrrrrrr!
     CLICK HERE for more pirate-themed 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.
AWARDS
**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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