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1. Classic Readalong Discussion: Tuck Everlasting

Welcome to The Midnight Garden discussion of Tuck Everlasting, which is posted to coincide with the 40th Anniversary Blog Tour. This book has been a special favorite of mine since one of my best friends pressed it into my hands in 5th grade. At the tender age of 10 fiction suddenly posed me with the question: “What if you could live forever?” There is such  a unique relationship with stories you loved specifically as a child. I’m so glad I read this at the age of 11 when the magic of the book couldn’t escape me. But we certainly hope to hear all of manner of opinions about this book! We’re also so excited to be giving away a beautiful hardcover of the special anniversary edition, which includes a foreward by Gregory Maguire. Did you know that this book has never been out of print in all that time? Let’s discuss why... Read more »

The post Classic Readalong Discussion: Tuck Everlasting appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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2. 2015 Mock Newbery discussions at Emerson, part 7: OUR WINNERS! + GIVEAWAY!!!

It's been an exciting journey with our students, reading and discussing what they think the most distinguished books for children have been in 2014. My students know their voices and opinions are valued--and that's made a huge difference to them. But even more than that, they've had a great time sharing their ideas with each other.

As a special celebration, I'm hosting a giveaway of one of these titles of your choosing. Please see below for full details!


The winner for the 2015 Mock Newbery at Emerson School is The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander. 

Students passionately argued that The Crossover was not just a book they loved, but the writing distinguished and distinctive. They shared examples about the characters, the plot and the language. Students from all sorts of different backgrounds connected to the themes and language in The Crossover. This is not just a sports book, but rather a book that operates on a multitude of levels. I think most of all, they responded Kwame Alexander's voice, in the way he both riffed on rap style but also wove deeper issues that made kids pause and think.

We celebrated three honor books that all received more votes than the rest of the titles. The three honor books for 2015 Mock Newbery at Emerson are:
The Swap, by Megan Shull -- a book that resonated emotionally with many students, because it captured some of the inner and social pressures kids feel today. The followed the complex plot, and found the voices clear and consistent. I especially appreciated the nuanced gender roles -- some typical for boys and girls, some less expected.
The Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd -- students responded to the lovely language, the heartfelt themes and the magical fantasy in Lloyd's debut novel. They understood how hard it was for Felicity to move every time things started to get tough for her mom. They could feel how important words were to Felicity. And they could see Felicity growing throughout the story.
The Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer L. Holm -- it was wonderful to see how students responded to the layers of science, fantasy and family. There was just the right amount of depth to draw students in, but never overwhelm them. That balance takes incredible skill; Holm creates thought-provoking situations without making readers feel like they're being led into a discussion. Our readers responded to the humor, the heart and the love in this story.

Will any of these win the 2015 Newbery Medal? We'll all find out on Monday, February 2nd when the winners are announced in Chicago at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. You can follow the live webcast here early Monday morning.

I'll be spending the weekend with my library "book friends", talking about favorite books we've read and new books we're looking forward reading this year. These four special books will certainly be ones I'll be sharing--because my students' excitement is contagious!

GIVEAWAY: As a special celebration, I would like to send one of these titles to a classroom or school library as a way to share a love of books. Please fill out the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway rulles are simple:
  1. Giveaway ends Thursday 2/5 at 12am Pacific.
  2. Winners must be to the United States shipping address.
  3. Kids & parents may enter, and present the gift to a teacher or school library.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


I want to give a special thanks to all the publishers who supported our book club by sending review copies. It made our small adventure possible. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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3. Guest Post and Giveaway: Rachel Lacey, Author of For Keeps

I was able to chat with Rachel Lacey, and she answered the question below.  Check out her response, and be sure to enter the giveaway below!

TJ is planning the perfect dinner date to woo Merry – What are the Top 5 items on the menu?

Ooh, great question! There is a scene in FOR KEEPS where TJ plans to woo Merry with a romantic home-cooked meal, but it never quite happens. Here’s my chance to decide what was on the menu that night…

1. Merry spends more time taking care of others than herself, so TJ would want to make this dinner really special for her. He’d start them off with some strawberries and other fruit to dip. Strawberries are an aphrodisiac, and they’re just fun to feed to each other :)

2. Of course they’d need a glass (or two) of champagne to go with the fruit.

3. Merry’s not big on health food – especially not on a night like this – so he’d skip the salad and serve a baked brie in puff pastry instead.

4. For the entree, he’d grill steak and lobster tails. TJ’s not much of a chef, but he knows his way around a grill, and this would be sure to fill them up after a long day on the farm. He might even make a joke about the lobsters being crawfish just to make her laugh (you’ll have to read FOR KEEPS to find out why!) :)

5. Merry loves chocolate, so after stuffing themselves on surf and turf, TJ would finish off the night with a nice, light chocolate mousse.

 

About FOR KEEPS:

A SUMMER FLING . . . OR SOMETHING MORE?

Merry Atwater would do just about anything to save her dog rescue – even if it means working with the most stubborn man on the planet. It’s hard to avoid the sparks that fly with TJ Jameson, the ruggedly sexy cowboy in charge of the children’s camp where she’s just taken an animal therapy job. But commitment is not Merry’s style, and TJ clearly wants more than just a roll in the hay. TJ Jameson isn’t looking for anything complicated-just a peaceful life on his family’s ranch with a wife and kids. “No-strings” Merry Atwater doesn’t fit that bill, no matter how irresistible she is. But when he sees how Merry gets through to his autistic nephew and the other kids at Camp Blue Sky, TJ’s a goner. If he doesn’t give in to the now, he might just lose his shot at forever . . .

About Rachel Lacey:

Rachel Lacey lives in North Carolina, with her husband, son, and their own rescued pup. She volunteers her spare time with Carolina Boxer Rescue and truly has a passion for helping our furry friends. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her local Heart of Carolina RWA chapter.

Rachel’s SM:

@rachelslacey

www.rachellacey.com

http://facebook.com/RachelLaceyAuthor

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8150779.Rachel_Lacey?from_search=true

Buy Links:

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1xkN5pc

BAM – http://bit.ly/17E21Kv

B&N – http://bit.ly/1AWAKPw

IndieBound – http://bit.ly/1AWAH6a

GooglePlay – http://bit.ly/1u3e1JX

iTunes – http://bit.ly/1u27ViN

Kobo – http://bit.ly/1CeOF0t


 

Excerpt:

His expression heated until his eyes practically burned her.

She nibbled her bottom lip. “I should, uh, I should go.”

“It’s late,” he said, his voice like gravel. It tickled all her sweet spots.

She stared at his hands, those big calloused fingers. Damn, but she wanted to feel them on her skin. Like, now.

“Really late.” She took a step, but her feet accidentally carried her toward T.J., not the door.

He sucked in an audible breath, his eyes scorching hers. “I thought you were going.”

“So did I.” But fuck it. If she was going to be in his house in the middle of the night in her underwear, she might as well give him a kiss goodnight.

She’d never been known for her self-control, after all.

He watched her, not moving a muscle, as if he’d become rooted to the floor.

She put her palms on his biceps and pressed her lips to his. Just a quick kiss to test the waters, because they did have to work together for the next month.

His scent wrapped around her, filled her lungs, and stole her sanity. She lingered for a moment, her lips on his, so soft, so warm. Just enough to make her want more. So much more.

Her body pulsed with it.

She was about to pull back and tell him goodnight when his arms slid around her waist, securing her against the firm column of his body, and oh God, she was a goner.

“What was that?” he whispered against her lips.

She slid her hands up to encircle his neck. “A goodnight kiss.”

“And why would you do something like that?” His voice vibrated through her.

“Because I wanted to.” Their bodies were pressed together, and though he hadn’t kissed her back, he wanted to. She felt the evidence pressed against her belly.

“Bad idea,” he growled, his lips still touching hers, teasing, tempting.

“Oh, yeah?” She could hardly breathe. Every nerve tingled with awareness, desperate for his touch, his kiss. More. More of everything.

Her heart throbbed in her chest.

T.J.’s eyes smoldered into hers, his pupils blown with lust. His body vibrated with tension, his arms like steel bands around her. “Yeah.”

“Then send me home.” She wiggled in his arms, pressing into his erection, tempting him, willing him to kiss her back. Just for tonight.

She needed to be kissed. She needed to feel.

And he could make her…

His lips crushed hers, taking her so suddenly, so thoroughly, that she didn’t have time to draw a breath. She heard herself groan, felt the desire inside her explode into something so completely out of control it almost frightened her.

Her back slammed into the wall, and her legs wrapped around his waist. His tongue plunged into her mouth, gliding against hers in a rhythm so perfect she shuddered in his arms. He lifted her hips, grinding himself against her until her eyes rolled back in her head, and…

Holy shit, holy shit.

She must have lost her mind. Her body burned, quaked, shook for him, and he felt so fucking good. He tasted like sin, sweet and sexy, like leather and cowboy boots, and…

Holy shit.

She needed more. She needed everything. She needed him buried deep inside her, groaning her name as he drove her over the edge, as he came inside her, and…

Holy shit.

This was completely out of control.

“Holy shit.” The words came from T.J.’s lips, not her own, as he tore his mouth from hers and speared her with his gaze. He panted for breath, his body coiled against hers, so hard, so ready. She felt every inch of him still pressed between her legs, right where her body burned hottest for him. “What the hell was that?”

She laughed. “If you don’t know, then you’re more out of practice than I am.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Rachel Lacey, Author of For Keeps appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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4. Bartography Express for January 2015, featuring Trent Reedy’s Burning Nation

This month, one subscriber to my Bartography Express newsletter will win a copy of Burning Nation (Scholastic), the second book in Trent Reedy’s Divided We Fall YA trilogy

If you’re not already receiving Bartography Express, click the image below for a look. If you like what you see, click “Join” in the bottom right corner, and you’ll be in the running for the giveaway at the end of this week.

20150122 Bartography Express

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5. Blog Tour: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski PLUS Giveaway



About the Book: (From Goodreads)-Winning what you want may cost you everything you love 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: As an avid reader and librarian who has a constantly huge TBR pile, it takes a lot for me to get into a series and want to read a sequel and keep a series on my radar. And oh my goodness, let me tell you that The Winner's Curse is a book that I am keeping on my radar and eagerly awaiting the next book in the series and I can't wait to keep going!

There are so many things to like about The Winner's Curse. First off, I really love Kestrel. She's a strong female character and I love seeing strong women in YA, especially young women who really come into their own and learn to stand up for themselves over the course of the book. She doesn't swoon for boys or need a guy to save her. Kestrel is uncovering the veiled world she's lived in and questioning what she has always thought she knew and her journey there is fantastic to read. 

Arin might be a bit on the broody side, but he's a strong character as well. I LOVE that there was not a love triangle in this book-thank you Ms. Rutkoski!!! Kestrel and Arin are both having to uncover long held truths and put aside prejudices they have about each other and this aspect of the novel is especially well written and developed. I really liked the interplay between them as they go from mistrust to an uneasy trust to a possible relationship that has too many barriers in its way. It's intriguing and makes the novel especially appealing.

The world building is also fantastic. It's hard to classify this book exactly-it's a bit fantasy, a bit historical, a bit dystopian, a bit romance, a bit adventure, a bit mystery, and a bit political intrigue. There really is something for everyone. And while there is a romantic plot line, it is not so central to the story that non-romance readers would be turned off from it. 

I actually listened to this book on audio and I really enjoyed the various accents the narrator used throughout. It made the characters even more realistic and I thought it created even more intrigue. With a big surprise cliffhanger for the ending, readers will be eagerly anticipating the sequel!

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from audiobook checked out from my local library

The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price.  What would you pay too much for?

As part of The Winner's Curse blog tour, participants have been asked what they would pay too much for. That is such a hard question! 

My first answer when I saw this question was books-ha! I know Mr. GreenBeanSexyMan would say that's the truth! But I can't help it-I love books. And while I don't think I would spend thousands of dollars (or more) for a signed copy or a limited edition (I'm not that much of a collector), I do think in my own way I spend too much for books at times. 

It's always a risk-taking a chance on a book that you may or may not like. If it turns out to be something you don't like, did you pay too much for it? Or what if you purchase a book and you don't ever end up reading it? And then it takes up room on your shelf (shelf space is valuable!!) and you keep telling yourself you promise you'll read it this year, but then another year passes and you still haven't read it? Was the price too high then? And like I tell my readers at the library all the time, life is too short to read bad books. It takes time to read-precious time out of your already busy day, so you want to make the most of it and read something that you will enjoy reading. You don't want it to be a chore. And if it becomes a chore, than it's not enjoyable anymore and you've paid too much by loosing your enjoyment of reading.

Maybe that's silly to think of books in that way. But with as much time as I spend thinking, researching, reading, talking, and writing about books, books make up a significant part of my life! I want to get what I paid for! Maybe that's why I should just stick to library books!

GIVEAWAY
Want to win a copy of The Winner's Curse? Enter the giveaway below!
-One entry per person
-US  address only
-ages 13+
-One entry per person
-Contest ends January 30


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6. My Heart and Other Black Holes: Review + Giveaway

This isn’t really a Kim Book.* Although, to be fair, if Kim Books usually involve incredibly heartfelt portrayals of our deepest humanity infused with humor and hope then perhaps I am about that also. Maybe. Every once in awhile a book comes along that crawls right into your heart and rends your ventricles. This is one of those. [Okay so there are moments where I’ll get a bit meta and personal. In ways that don’t really flow with the review but are important if you’d like an auxiliary/personal touch so I’m putting them behind spoiler brackets. When you see spoiler brackets it’s me being personal.] This is the story of Aysel (like uh-zell, rhymes with gazelle) who has longed to escape from the shadow of her father’s horrific crime for years. And of Roman who is living with an unimaginable grief. Both live trapped in the mire of isolation and... Read more »

The post My Heart and Other Black Holes: Review + Giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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7. Save Me by Jenny Elliott Giveaway



About the Book: Something strange is going on in the tiny coastal town of Liberty, Oregon. Cara has never seen a whale swim close enough for her to touch it—let alone knock her into the freezing water. Fortunately, cute newcomer David is there to save her, and the rescue leads to a bond deeper than Cara ever imagined.

So when she learns David’s interning as a teacher at her school, Cara is devastated. She turns to her best friend for support, but Rachel has changed. She’s suddenly into witchcraft & is becoming dangerously obsessed with her new boyfriend.
Cara has lost her best friend, discovered her soul mate is off limits, and has attracted the attention of a stalker. But she’s not completely alone. Her mysterious, gorgeous new friend Garren is there to support her. But is Garren possibly too perfect?


Swoon Reads is the perfect new imprint from Macmillan for romance readers. There are romances for every kind of reader and Save Me is a mash up of several different paranormal tropes. Mysterious new guys, strange small town happenings, and Readers who love paranormal, romance, and suspense are sure to fall in love with Save Me.  Want to read it? Enter to win a copy!

-Open to US Addresses only
-Ages 13+
-Contest Ends January 24
-Fill out form to enter


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Follow the Tour:


Jenny Elliott is a lifelong resident of Washington State and lives in Spokane with her husband and four kids. Writing fiction is her favorite method for avoiding insanity. Other avoidance techniques include reading, playing Scrabble, and browsing social media sites. Save Me is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter at @jennykelliott.

Swoon Reads is the crowd-sourced teen romance imprint founded by Jean Feiwel and published under Feiwel and Friends, a division of Macmillan. Swoon Reads is a community where members are included in every step of the publishing process, from acquiring manuscripts to choosing cover directions. To find out more and discover the best in swoon-worthy novels visit SwoonReads.com or follow us on Twitter at @SwoonReads.

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8. Giveaway: Win Book Bundle from Candlewick Press!

This morning I have a bundle of awesomeness for you to win.  Candlewick Press wants to celebrate, and they are inviting you to enter for a chance to win this incredible bundle of their young adult books that received a nod from Time Magazine’s by landing on their Top 100 YA books of all-time. 

TIME MAGAZINE ANNOUNCES TOP 100 YOUNG ADULT AND CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF ALL-TIME

CANDLEWICK PRESS EARNS 10 “BEST OF” NODS IN THE DISTINGUISHED RANKINGS

One of the most prominent news magazines in the U.S., TIME magazine, has declared we are living in a “golden age” of children’s and young adult books. A claim supported by ongoing sales reports that books for young readers and teens continue to dominate the bestseller charts and lead industry growth as they find wide audiences beyond their intended age demographics.

With the assistance of industry experts, reviewers, and major literacy non-profits, TIME has compiled a list to honor the all-time classics, both old and new.

Candlewick Press, a leading independent children’s book publisher based near Boston, Massachusetts, is proud to announce ten titles from its publishing list have been selected for inclusion – all remarkable works of writing and illustrating – that have established themselves as enduring favorites via critical and commercial success. Both National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, and celebrated novelist, Patrick Ness, have the remarkable achievement of having two of their works selected. Candlewick’s titles include:

YA/Novels:

Feed by M. T. Anderson

Anderson takes on consumerism in this smart, savage satire that has captivated readers with its view of an imagined future that veers unnervingly close to the here and now.

$8.99 U.S./$10.00 CAN

ISBNS:  9780763662622 Pbk * 9780763651558 E-book

* A National Book Award finalist

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo , illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

$6.99 U.S./$8.00 CAN — ISBNS:  9780763643676 Digest pbk * 9780763649425 E-book

$19.99 U.S./$23.00 CAN Hardcover – ISBN: 9780763625894

Note: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is in the Top 25 to be voted on for Best of the Best ranking by reader vote: http://time.com/100-best-young-adult-books/

Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Rob, sickly and devastated by the death of his mother, moves to a hotel with his father for a new start. But after he comes across a caged tiger in the woods outside the motel, the unexpected find helps him overcome his sadness and open up to a new friend.

$5.99 U.S./$7.00 CAN

ISBNS:  9780763618988 Pbk * 9780763649449 E-book (Gift edition  9780763652708)

*A National Book Award finalist 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Jim Kay

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

$ 8.99 U.S./$10.00 CAN

ISBNS: 9780763660659 Pbk * 9780763683474 E-book

* Soon to be a major motion picture

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

A dystopian thriller follows a boy and girl on the run from a town where all thoughts can be heard — and the passage to manhood embodies a horrible secret.

$10.99 US/$12.00 CAN

ISBNS: 9780763676186 Pbk * 9780763652166 E-book

Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci

An unforgettable debut novel that follows an antisocial cinephile as she meets a quick-witted artist who’s savvy enough to see through her sci-fi disguise.

$8.99 US /$10.00 CAN 

ISBNS: 9780763627966 Pbk * 9780763654283 E-book

* Celebrating 10th anniversary in February 2015

ABOUT CANDLEWICK PRESS
Candlewick Press is an independent, employee-owned publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. For over twenty years, Candlewick has published outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages, including books by award-winning authors and illustrators such as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, Jon Klassen, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, and ’Ology series; and favorites such as Guess How Much I Love You, Where’s Waldo?, and Maisy. Candlewick is part of the Walker Books Group, together with Walker Books UK in London and Walker Books Australia, based in Sydney and Auckland. Visit Candlewick online at www.candlewick.com

US ADDESSES ONLY, PLEASE

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Giveaway: Win Book Bundle from Candlewick Press! appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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9. A Love Letter to Sarah J. Maas + Giveaway

I’m so excited to be kicking off a brand new feature here at The Midnight Garden! Introducing: The Love Letter Series! In which we wax lyrical to our favorite authors. The ones that inspire us. The ones that keep us reading way past midnight. The ones that give us all the feeeeeeelings. Without further adieu, I suppose I will kick us off with a love letter to (C’mon, guys, it’s me. Who else would it be to?) Sarah J. Maas!   Dearest Sarah J. Maas, It’s no secret how much I adore you. I hope by now I am well known for relentlessly pushing your books and for my inability to disengage the caps lock whenever your series are mentioned. I am really quite passionate about your writing. I shall elaborate! I love how you create such intricately fantastical worlds with seeming effortless ease. It’s so easy to escape into your... Read more »

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10. Guest Post from Dianne Salerni for The Inquisitor's Mark (coming soon!) - and a giveaway!




The Inquisitor's Mark (The Eighth Day, Book 2) by Dianne K Salerni (Harpercollins, January 27, 2015, for ages 8 to 12)

Source: advanced reading copy from publisher

Synopsis: When a mysterious man claiming to be Jax Aubrey's uncle kidnaps his best friend, Billy, Jax fears a trap. Before his father died, he never mentioned having a brother. Enemy Kin leaders and corrupt Transitioners are after Jax's guardian, Riley, the sought-after descendant of King Arthur, and his liege lady, Evangeline, a powerful magician descended from Merlin. To protect them Jax sneaks off to New York City by himself to rescue Billy. And it's a trap all right. Jax learns his real last name is Ambrose, not Aubrey. And his new-found relatives will stop at nothing to get what they want.


Crests designed by Dianne's daughter


Why I recommend it: As exciting as The Eighth Day was, this second book in the series ratchets up the tension even more. You'll be racing through the pages to find out what happens. Jax has to call on all his resources to handle not only his nasty new relatives, but an enormous and deadly creature he's never seen before.





And now here's Dianne herself to tell us what she enjoyed about writing the sequel:


When I sat down to plan and write The Inquisitor’s Mark, I remember feeling overwhelmed and nervous. It was the first time I’d ever had to write a book that was already sold, sight unseen, before it existed. HarperCollins had bought The Eighth Day and expected me to write at least two more books in the series. They believed I could, and I REALLY hoped their faith in me was well-founded!

As it turned out, this book was my favorite one to write in the series so far. (Writing Book 3 made me pull my hair out, but that’s another story …) What was fun about The Inquisitor’s Mark was that the personalities of the central characters were already established – at least up to the point where I left them in Book 1 – but since people change and grow in real life, I knew these characters would do the same.

For example, at the beginning of the first book, Jax loathed his 18-year-old guardian, Riley, but by the end, his opinion had changed. This is touched upon in several places, but with the whole We-Have-To-Save-The-World thing going on in the climax, there wasn’t a lot of time to fully explore it. Therefore, it was very rewarding to have the time in the early chapters of The Inquisitor’s Mark to play with this developing brotherly relationship, including the normal teasing and rough-housing one might expect between boys.

“I haven’t given up, you know,” Riley told Evangeline. “I have a trick or two up my sleeves.”

“I thought all you had up your sleeves were tattoos,” Jax said. Riley made sure Evangeline wasn’t looking, then smacked Jax in the back of the head.

Of course, you can’t keep up the tension if things are going great, so Jax overhears Riley planning to send him away for his own good and Mrs. Crandall urging Riley to break up the vassal-liege bond between Jax and Evangeline before Jax gets hurt … and suddenly Jax doesn’t know his place in the group anymore.

Enter the new characters – who were another favorite part of writing this sequel.

Jax has a family, as it turns out: an uncle, cousins, and grand-parents. Too bad they belong to the Dulac clan, the powerful and corrupt people who assassinated Riley’s family and would like to see Riley dead too!  The dynamics of meeting these people – blood relatives and also enemies – was massively fun to write as an author, while incredibly difficult for poor Jax. I particularly enjoyed the character of Jax’s uncle, Finn Ambrose. He’s the right-hand man of the evil Ursula Dulac and definitely a “bad guy,” but he loved his brother Rayne, and he sincerely wants to provide a home for his long-lost nephew. How does a 13-year-old boy deal with a man who, on one hand, wants him to betray his friends, but on the other hand, looks so much like his father?

Uncle Finn took Jax by the shoulder and steered him out of the apartment. “That was uncalled for.”

“You wanted to know if I had any talent,” Jax said smugly. “I just proved it.”

“It’s discourteous to use your talent to embarrass your clan members.”

“I don’t want those guys touching my tattoo.”

“It doesn’t seem necessary,” his uncle said. “You’re obviously an Ambrose.” Then he made a noise that caused Jax to glance at him in surprise. Jax couldn’t tell if it was a snort or a laugh or even a sob, but Uncle Finn was looking at him with strangely moist eyes. “Rayne would’ve done the same thing.”

Jax grinned. And his uncle grinned back.

I wrote The Inquisitor’s Mark in just eleven weeks, the fastest I’ve ever written any first draft in my life. And while there are many action scenes in the book that were wonderfully fun to write, what made this book my favorite (so far) was the character interactions. It was too long to make the tagline on the cover, but Jax is “Related to the enemy. Loyal to their targets.”


That provides a wealth of material for an author to work with!

*   *   *   *   *

Thanks, Dianne! I'm truly impressed that you wrote the rough draft in eleven weeks.

Readers, The Inquisitor's Mark pubs on January 27, 2015.  And if you haven't read The Eighth Day yet (and why haven't you???) the paperback is now available!

For this giveaway, I will be purchasing a hardcover copy  of The Inquisitor's Mark for Dianne to sign in a few weeks. To enter simply be a follower and leave a comment on this post. If you tweet about the giveaway or mention on facebook, let me know and I'll give you extra entries. US and Canadian mailing addresses only. This giveaway ends at 10 pm on Sunday January 25, 2015. And the winner will be announced on Monday January 26.

0 Comments on Guest Post from Dianne Salerni for The Inquisitor's Mark (coming soon!) - and a giveaway! as of 1/12/2015 8:16:00 AM
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11. The Ghosts of Heaven: visual tour + giveaway

There are a handful of authors who have an open invitation to come do anything they like here at The Midnight Garden, and today’s guest is one of them. I don’t think of the word “genius” much in conjunction with novelists, but it pops into my head often when I read Marcus Sedgwick’s books. He is the 2014 Printz-winning author of the glorious, bloody Midwinterblood and a favorite guest of ours. His newest book features 4 stories, which can be read in order or not, as the reader chooses. All are linked by spirals that appear again and again. What does it all mean? We’re pleased to be kicking off the official The Ghosts of Heaven blog tour with a visual tour of places that inspired portions of his newest book! Though really, don’t be surprised if you drop in one of these days  and Marcus is just casually strumming... Read more »

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12. Start Your Engines…TRACKED is Almost Here!

Exactly four months from today, Tracked will hit shelves, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! So I’m celebrating by firing off a double-shot of good news:

1. On the first day of Christmas, my true love (@coachmathmartin) gave to me…the debut present of a lifetime. Seriously. This Tracked-related surprise is made of hand-polished, custom-welded, plasma-cut steel. You can see it below, in Tracked‘s first official trailer! Check it out:

2. Today, we’re also announcing TRACKED‘S OFFICIAL CREW. By joining Phee Van Zant’s circuit rally team, you’ll be the very first to snag book excerpts, custom swag, and exclusive content. And did I mention prizes? Hit the starting line now, and lap the competition by winning BIG. Each month, from now until May, there will be wildcard giveaways and winner’s circle prizes for one-of-a-kind Tracked-related bags, posters, bookmarks, keychains, t-shirts, quote cards, autographed books, skype visits and MORE. There will be loads of opportunities to win, and multiple winners will be chosen for each lap! Trust me. You’re not going to want to miss this race, so join by signing up below!

TRACKED Crew Badge

[contact-form]

See you on the starting line. ;0)

Jenny

1 Comments on Start Your Engines…TRACKED is Almost Here!, last added: 1/6/2015
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13. Spotlight and Giveaway: Kensington Historical Holiday Romance Title

This morning, I have a spotlight and giveaway for some Kensington holiday historical romances.  Make sure you fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter!

 
 
Win Print/iBook Bundle of ALL Six Holiday Romances
 
~*~

SEASON FOR DESIRE 
Theresa Romain
Holiday Pleasures # 4
Released Oct 7th, 2014
Zebra/Kensington


 
 

PROPERLY WICKED

Like her four sisters, Lady Audrina Bradleigh is expected to marry a duke, lead fashion, and behave with propriety. Consequently, Audrina pursues mischief with gusto, attending scandalous parties and indulging in illicit affairs. But when an erstwhile lover threatens to ruin her reputation, Audrina has no choice but to find a respectable husband at once.

Who would guess that her search would lead her to Giles Rutherford, a blunt-spoken American on a treasure hunt of his own? When a Christmas snowstorm strands the pair at a country inn, more secrets are traded than gifts—along with kisses that require no mistletoe—and Audrina discovers even proper gentlemen have their wicked side…



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Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest. Please visit her at http://theresaromain.com.

~*~

ONCE UPON A PLAID
Mia Marlowe
Spirit of the Highlands # 2
Released Oct 7th, 2014
Zebra

 
 

A wife may be courted, too…


Many would count Katherine Douglas fortunate indeed. Laird William Douglas is broad-shouldered, gentle-handed, everything a lass could dream. But after four years of marriage, Katherine still knows little of what goes on in his heart. And she has yet to bear him an heir. The distance between them is too great—and so she flees over the snowy highlands to Glengarry Castle, home of her childhood, to set her husband free.

But William won’t let his wife slip away without a fight. Before long, he’s at her father’s threshold himself, witness to the rumbles of discontent in Glengarry, the bright joy of Yuletide at a family hearth, and the hidden needs of his own beloved…

 
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Mia Marlowe learned much of what she knows about storytelling from singing. A classically trained soprano, she devised back stories to prepare for operatic roles. Since she’s worn a real corset, and had to sing high C’s in one, she empathizes with the trials of her fictional heroines. But in Mia’s stories, they don’t die in a Parisian garret. They get to live and keep the hero! Mia loves history, art, music and travel. Especially travel. Good thing, since she’s lived in 9 different states and is embarrassed to admit she’s lost track of how many times she’s been to Europe. She regards her frequent moves as vacations on which she drags along all her stuff. Currently, she and her DH make their home in New England.

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MADELEINE’S CHRISTMAS WISH
Ella Quinn
The Marriage Game # 5.5
Released Oct 27th, 2014
eKensingston
 
 
 
The bachelors in Ella Quinn’s Marriage Game series make a habit of resisting the irresistible. But during the season for giving, surrendering to temptation may be the greatest gift of all…

A French spy, Georges, Marquis Cruzy-le-Châtel, has lived in England for years, sacrificing his life for his country—but not his heart. For he’s never been able to forget his childhood friend, Madeleine. And now, in her hour of need, he is there to rescue her…

The victim of a ruthless statesman, Madeleine, Comtesse du Beaune, has been abducted and sent to England to work in a brothel. Her greatest wish is to return home for Christmas, and her only hope of it is to marry Georges—though she will be his wife in name alone. Yet as they steal across the snowy countryside, Georges decides to woo her—with kisses that melt the winter’s frost and leave her longing for a holiday miracle…


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Ella Quinn lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband, three bossy cats and loveable great date. Fans can find out more at www.ellaquinnauthor.wordpress.com


~*~

AN OATH TAKEN 
Diana Cosby
The Oath Trilogy # 1
Released Dec 8th, 2014
eKensington


 
 
A man of honor. A woman of spirit.

As the new castellan, Sir Nicholas Beringar has the daunting task of rebuilding Ravenmoor Castle on the Scottish border and gaining the trust of the locals—one of whom wastes no time in trying to rob him. Instead of punishing the boy, Nicholas decides to make him his squire. Little does he know the thieving young lad is really…a lady.

Lady Elizabet Armstrong had donned a disguise in an attempt to free her brother from Ravenmoor’s dungeons. Although intimidated by the confident Englishman with his well-honed muscles and beguiling eyes, she cannot refuse his offer.

Nicholas senses that his new squire is not what he seems. His gentle attempts to break through the boy’s defenses leave Elizabet powerless to stem the desire that engulfs her. And when the truth is exposed, she’ll have to trust in Nicholas’s honor to help her people—and to surrender to his touch…


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Diana Cosby, a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, owes her passion for writing to a gypsy childhood of living, traveling and experiencing various cultures throughout the world. An avid romance reader her entire life, it was an easy decision to begin writing after her career as a meteorologist. Diana is married to Bob, the hero of her life, a naval officer with over 22 years of service, including a tour in Iraq. She is blessed with three loving children: Eric, Stephanie and Christopher, and enjoys the company of her dog, Duncan Trevor MacGregor, and two cats, Bad and Brat. She’s a member of various romance writing organizations and presents writing workshops for her local writing chapters.
 

~*~

CHRISTMAS AT THORNCLIFF TOWERS
Marina Myles
The Cursed Princes # 3.5
Released Nov 24th, 2014
eKensington

 


THE WEREWOLF’S SERVANT

Thorncliff Towers is done up for Christmas, secure against wind and wolves. But Karina Petri is shut out, too, and the gypsy witch wants what’s inside. She envies the gifts, the feast, the pretty clothes, of course. But her true desire is for the love of Constantin Stoica. Her smolderingly handsome childhood friend agreed to serve Lord Draven after his brother was caught stealing last year. He suspects Karina was involved—and it would take more magic than she possesses to make him forgive…

Constantin has always been drawn to Karina’s dark curls, flashing eyes, and reckless ways. But trusting her has proven dangerous before, and this night holds more to fear than most. The wrong decisions could cost him his job, his safety—even his life. But letting Karina go could cost him his heart…



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Although Marina Myles lives under the sunny skies of Arizona, she would reside in a historic manor house in foggy England if she had her way. Her love of books began as soon as she read her first fairy tale and eventually led to a degree in English Literature. Now, with her loyal Maltese close by, she relishes the hours she gets to escape into worlds filled with fiery—but not easily attained—love affairs. She’s busy being a wife, a mother, and a member of Romance Writers of America, but she is never too busy to hear from her amazing readers. Visit her at www.marinamyles.com.
 

~*~

CHRISTMAS DELIGHTS
Heather Hiestand
The Redcakes # 5
Released Nov 1st, 2014
Kensington

 
 
 
The sweetest gift is the hardest to unwrap…

Lady Victoria Allen-Hill never dreamed she’d be a widow at twenty-one—let alone a virgin. Her father insists that she attend a matchmaking house party in the snow-covered seaside town of Pevensey in hopes she’ll find a suitable husband. But for Victoria, it’s an opportunity to indulge in a passionate affair—and the handsome inventor she meets at the Christmas Eve masquerade ball may be just the man for the job…

Lewis Noble is the cousin of London’s famed Redcake sisters, so it almost stands to reason that he’s just as irresistible as one of their sugar-iced pastries. Lewis catches the eye of every woman at the party—but Victoria is the only one who catches his. He won’t be tied down in her father’s business, but watching other men court her amid a flurry of engagements ignites a jealousy he’s never felt before. A dose of honesty may be just the thing to mend their broken hearts—for many holidays to come…


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Heather Hiestand was born in Illinois but her family migrated west before she started school. Since then she has claimed Washington State as home, except for a few years in California. She wrote her first story at age seven and went on to major in creative writing at the University of Washington. Her first published fiction was a mystery short story, but since then it has been all about the many flavors of romance. Heather’s first published romance short story was set in the Victorian period and she continues to return, fascinated by the rapid changes of the nineteenth century. The author of many novels, novellas and short stories, she makes her home in a small town with her husband and son and supposedly works out of her tiny office, though she mostly writes in her easy chair in the living room.
 
For more information, visit Heather’s website at www.heatherhiestand.com. Heather loves to hear from readers! Her email is heather@heatherhiestand.com.
 

 
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The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Kensington Historical Holiday Romance Title appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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14. Spotlight and Giveaway: Romancing the Holidays at Kensington

I have a spotlight and giveaway for some contemporary holiday romances. Fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter!

 
 
Win Print/iBook Bundle of ALL Six Holiday Romances
 
~*~

ALL HE WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS
Lisa Plumley
Kismet, Michigan # 4
Released Oct 7th, 2014
Zebra/Kensington

 
 
In Kismet, Michigan, Christmas is special: big fluffy snowflakes, sleigh bells, carolers singing. It’s a picture-perfect holiday—you just have to choose who’s in the frame…


Jason Hamilton is on thin ice with the board of his toy company. The young CEO may be a kid at heart, but his party boy reputation requires damage control. So Jason’s off to Kismet to inspect a model store, stay on Santa’s Nice list, and stick to business—no goofing around. Which is too bad, because the store manager, Danielle Sharpe, is the definition of what makes Naughty fun…

Danielle is thrilled to show off her thriving little toy store—especially if it’s her ticket out of Kismet. The single mom is tired of manufacturing cheer solo while her ex-husband has all the fun. But if she’d known Jason was this hot, she wouldn’t have offered to host him. With Jason in her house, Danielle is getting warmer than spiked cider. She’s supposed to impress him with her expertise, not daydream about catching him under the mistletoe. Now whatever she does, she can’t get swept up in the magic…


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When she sat down to write her first book, LISA PLUMLEY expected the process to be easy. Three tries and several years later, she realized it’s not easy—but it is the most fun to be had outside of shoe shopping. Now the bestselling author of more than a dozen books, Lisa lives in sunny Arizona with her husband and two children. She invites readers to visit her website, www.lisaplumley.com, for previews of upcoming books and more.


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NO CHRISTMAS LIKE THE PRESENT
Sierra Donovan
Released Oct 7th, 2014
Zebra

 
 
Lindsay Miller is knee-deep in Christmas cards and homemade fudge, but she’s never felt more like a Grinch. Why can’t Christmas be full of magic, like in her favorite movie, A Christmas Carol…?

…Enter Fred, a sexy and eccentric stranger who arrives at Lindsay’s door out of the blue. Dressed like he just stepped out of a Dickens novel, complete with British accent, Fred claims he’s a Messenger, sent from “Headquarters” to help her discover the joy of Christmas. But is Fred an angel from above—or just stone cold crazy? 

Fred’s used to dealing with skeptics. Telling a stranger you’ve been ordered to inspire holiday cheer is a tough sell. But there’s a further complication. Fred’s mission is to help Lindsay right the wrongs from her past that have been holding her back. But somehow along the way, they’ve become wildly attracted to each other—and falling in love is not part of the plan. Fred only has ‘til the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve to guide Lindsay to the magical future she deserves—even if it’s a future without him…
 
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Sierra Donovan lives with her husband and two children in Victorville, California. Readers can visit her website at www.sierradonovan.com.
 Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
 
~*~

CHRISTMAS IN COWBOY COUNTRY
Janet Dailey
Released Sept 30th, 2014
Zebra

 
 
 
The greatest gift is love…

Ski instructor Annie Bennett doesn’t have time to miss the twinkling lights and holiday parties in Aspen and Vail. With her older brothers gone and winter just around the corner, her parents need help with their sprawling Colorado ranch. The most wonderful time of the year isn’t always easy for a lot of the folks in their town, but Annie does her best—until the tall, dark, and rugged surveyor on their neighbor’s land becomes a potent distraction…

Wyoming born and bred, Marshall Stone is a practical man. But there’s something about Annie that’s as wild and sweet as the mountain wind. He doesn’t want to tame her. Just love her. Annie Bennett is all he wants for Christmas. And for always. But she’s too wary to believe he means it. Until he takes her in his arms and explains without saying a single word…

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Janet Dailey’s first book was published in 1976. Since then she has written more than 100 novels and become one of the top-selling female authors in the world, with 300 million copies of her books sold in nineteen languages in ninety-eight countries. She is known for her strong, decisive characters, her extraordinary ability to recreate a time and a place, and her unerring courage to confront important, controversial issues in her stories.


~*~

HUCKLEBERRY CHRISTMAS
Jennifer Beckstrand
The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill # 3 
Released Oct 7th, 2014
Zebra/Kensington

 
 

Now that they’ve happily married off two of their grandchildren, Anna and Felty Helmuth are ready for their next matchmaking challenge. What better way to celebrate the most heartwarming of seasons—and make Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin, the place for unexpected love…

A difficult marriage has left the Helmuths’ widowed great-granddaughter, Beth, finished with wedlock. She’s content to live with them and make a life for herself and her toddler son. But once she turns down handsome Tyler Yoder’s proposal, it seems only fair to encourage him to find a suitable wife. Trouble is, his gentleness and generous ways are showing her how joyous a real meeting of hearts can be. . .

After a failed courtship, Tyler thought the best he could hope for in a wife was mere companionship. But spirited Beth is the one he longs to protect, and hold close. Earning her trust is the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. And soon, both will discover that forgiveness and understanding are gifts that only rekindled faith—along with the happiest of holidays—can bring.

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Jennifer Beckstrand is the bestselling author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and the Forever After in Apple Lake series, set in two Amish communities in beautiful Wisconsin. She has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. Jennifer has a degree in mathematics and a background in editing. She and her husband have been married for thirty years, and she has four daughters, two sons, and two adorable grandsons, whom she spoils rotten. Readers can visit her website at www.jenniferbeckstrand.com
 

~*~

SANTA’S SECRET
Serenity Woods
Released Dec 1st, 2014
Kensington Books

 
 

Will the magic still be there when they wake on Christmas morning?

Having long since lost his Christmas spirit, Rudi comes to Santa’s Secret Village looking to sell the resort. His seven-year-old daughter already knows the truth about Santa, and neither of them is particularly in the mood for the festive season.

Practically a recluse since the death of her husband, Eva’s not looking for romance. Her trip to Santa’s Village is for the sole purpose of making Christmas more festive this year for her young son. But Eva brings an unexpected sparkle to Rudi and Isabel’s lives that renews their belief in the spirit of Christmas.

As the weather grows colder, things heat up between Rudi and Eva. But will the magic still be there when they wake on Christmas morning?


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Serenity Woods lives in the sub-tropical Northland of New Zealand with her wonderful husband and gorgeous teenage son. She writes fun, flirty, sweet and sexy contemporary romances. She would much rather immerse herself in reading or writing romance than do the dusting and ironing, which is why it’s not a great idea to pop round if you have any allergies.
 

~*~

IF THE SHOE KILLS
Lynn Cahoon
A Tourist Trap Mystery # 3
Released Nov 10th, 2014
eKensington

 


The tourist town of South Cove, California, is a lovely place to spend the holidays. But this year, shop owner Jill Gardner discovers there’s no place like home for homicide…

As owner of Coffee, Books, and More, Jill Gardner looks forward to the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers. But when the mayor ropes her into being liaison for a new work program, ‘tis the season to be wary. Local businesses are afraid the interns will be delinquents, punks, or worse. For Jill, nothing’s worse than Ted Hendricks—the jerk who runs the program. After a few run-ins, Jill’s ready to kill the guy. That, however, turns out to be unnecessary when she finds Ted in his car—dead as a doornail. Detective Greg King assumes it’s a suicide. Jill thinks it’s murder. And if the holidays weren’t stressful enough, a spoiled blonde wants to sue the city for breaking her heel. Jill has to act fast to solve this mess—before the other shoe drops…

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Lynn Cahoon is a multi-published author. An Idaho native, her stories focus around the depth and experience of small town life and love. Currently she lives in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and two fur babies. 
 


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15. Guest Post & Giveaway: Jennifer Wolf Kam on Words from the Past

Meeting young writers at The Voracious Reader.
By Jennifer Wolf Kam
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

In the spring of 1981, Space Shuttle Columbia completed a successful orbital mission around the Earth, my hometown New York Islanders won the Stanley Cup and eight-year-old me wrote my first fan letter. It was not a letter to Shaun Cassidy or Scott Baio, or any other Tiger Beat sensation.

I’d just read The Little Leftover Witch, and my letter was to its author, Florence Laughlin.

Writers were (still are) my rock stars.

After reading this wonderful book I knew I wanted to be a writer. I thought perhaps, I might be a witch, too, but writing seemed more practical—especially since, try as I might, I could not get my room to clean itself just by snapping my fingers and wishing it so.

I can imagine what my letter to Florence Laughlin was like, written in my best penmanship. I likely told her about the construction paper and crayon creations I read to my third grade class. I probably described how I dressed up and performed stories for whomever would listen. I may have declared that, since reading her book, I would be a witch for Halloween. I know I told her I loved to read. I know this because her generous reply began with:

“You are my favorite kind of people! You tell me that you just love to read.”

I swooned.

She described how the idea for the book had come to her twenty years earlier, and that the little witch herself nudged and pestered her to write her story.

The thought of the mischievous little witch pestering Florence Laughlin (like I often pestered my mother) delighted me. But I also heard something else—the story needed to come out. It needed to be written.

I knew that feeling. I carried stories inside of me, too—all asking for a chance to be told. I got to work at once. In the ensuing years, I wrote whenever I could, and even when I couldn’t.

I studied the craft, attended conferences, joined critique groups, and earned my MFA at the fabulous Vermont College of Fine Arts.

I spent countless hours at my laptop, writing and revising, creating and honing, immersed in worlds of my own creation.

None of my efforts led to a book contract. There were dark moments, soothed by chocolate and loved ones, when the “what ifs” and “never wills” mingled with the stories inside my head. My dream drifted further away, like a little witch, gliding off into the Halloween night on her broomstick.

What I wouldn’t have given for a touch of her magic!

Learn more!
But I kept at it. Just like the little witch’s, my stories wanted to be told and I needed to write them. Slowly, that started to become enough.

Then, an amazing thing happened. My novel, Devin Rhodes Is Dead (Mackinac Island/Charlesbridge, 2014) won the National Association of Elementary School Principals Children’s Book Award, and I received a publishing contract from marvelous Charlesbridge. I do believe the best things happen when we least expect them.

Much time has passed since I was the girl who opened that letter and dreamed of writing books. I want to tell her—that impatient little one in a hurry to dance with words and share her stories—that it won’t be easy. But then, we all have our journey, and this is hers. This is mine.

In the end, we write our own stories. Mine was filled with hard work, determination, stick-to-it-iveness and bucket loads of gratitude.

And I think, a bit of magic, after all.

Kitty and muse, KitKat
Cynsational Screening Room

 

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win one of three signed copies of Devon Rhodes Is Dead by Jennifer Wolf Kam (Mackinac Island/Charlesbridge, 2014). Author sponsored. Eligibility: North America and the U.K.

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16. And the Winners are...

Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment or enter the Christmas Giveaway.


Little Noddy will soon be on the way to Stephanie from The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow.





The Magic Spectacles will soon be watching over Teressa at Window on the World.







Pussy Cat & her kittens will soon be purring for Anne Marie at Beetles, Bikes & Books.







Bunny and his Woodland Friends can't wait to visit Anita at the delightful Castles Crowns and Cottages.





A Bright Red Lorry is on the road to Tracy at 


Fiona from Dundee will soon be enjoying these two early readers




Fun and games to be had by Yvonne at Winter Moon.







The sweet little ducklings are making their way to Sue at The Secret Agency 





My thanks to everyone who took the time to enter, Tweet, Facebook and Google+. 

Congratulations to the winners I will be contacting you all later today.  For those of you who were unlucky this time I’m sure to do another giveaway next year.


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17. Guest Post & Giveaway: Dana Walrath on Writing from the Marrow

By Dana Walrath
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

My first novel, Like Water on Stone, just came out (Delacorte, Nov. 2014). Of course, I’m smiling. The cover and interior of the book are beautifully produced. I’ve poured my soul into it.

“What’s it about?” people ask me.

When I tell them, “It’s the story of three siblings who survive the Armenian genocide of 1915 with the help of the guardian spirit of an eagle,” I’ve learned that I better get my smile under control.

Genocide and smiles do not go together.

And yet I know that “smile-worthy” hope and the power of the imagination fill this story, even as it minces no words about the violence. The three young siblings not only survive, but they survive intact, because their imaginations protect them. Ardziv, the eagle, embodies imagination. Just as he protects the young ones as they journey, he protects the readers.

Ardziv also protected me as I wrote this story.

Like Water on Stone, grew out of one the very few things my mother told me about her own mother’s life: “After her parents were killed, she and her younger brother and sister hid during the day and ran at night from their home in Palu to the orphanage in Aleppo.”


I was in elementary school when I learned this, and it took me decades to fill in the flesh around those bare bones. I knew this story had to be told, especially in the face of global politics that allow for continued denial of this first genocide of the 20th century. But I knew it had to be told in a way that would pull readers along, instead of punishing them.

The story flowed out in lyrical free verse instead of prose, the abundant white space providing safety for the reader, just as Ardziv does. The crumbling Ottoman Empire, whose leaders orchestrated the genocide, is distant in time, space, and experience for readers. Free verse evokes the feeling of foods, music, dances, and ritual from another land. Because it works through metaphor and magic, free verse also shows all that was physically lost, and how it persists in the imaginations of survivors.

Palu roof
Keeping my Armenian identity hidden, I had traveled to my grandparents’ homeland the summer of 1984. With the hospitality characteristic of the region, I was welcomed into people’s homes and fed foods I had known my whole life. In Palu, I asked locals if they knew of any mills—my great grandfather had been a miller. I was sent across the eastern branch of the Euphrates River on a modern bridge next to a crumbling one built of stone, and into the woods when I found a mill, set along the banks of a stream. On the rooftop the woman of the house served me tea, a half dozen children watching us, mounds of apricots drying in the sun.

Palu Mill Wheel
When I asked about the mill’s history she told me that it had been in her family for sixty years, but before that it had belonged to Armenians. Joy and pain converged as I thought this could perhaps have been my family’s home.

Psychologist Paul Ekman—who has spent a lifetime analyzing the connection between emotion and facial expression— shows us that when we remember the death of a loved one, our faces reflect a blend of strong sadness, moderate anger and moderate joy.

When a book touches me, it passes the “tear test”-- bringing tears to my eyes not because of sadness but because of connection.

We write to connect. We read to connect. Connecting is complicated. Our faces reflect that.

This human capacity for hope, magical thinking, and imagination in the face of the deepest pain, builds a bridge from the dark places to joy. We know this complexity and connection in the marrow of our bones, that place where our bodies make our blood and keep us flowing.

Human connection deserves our widest smiles.

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win a signed copy of Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath (Delacorte, 2014). Author sponsored. U.S. only. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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18. Three Months of Kidlit Book Giveaways! Awesome Books for Teens

giveaway

Can you believe that Christmas is only a hop-skip-n-a-jump away???

With the winter months upon us, I feel this is a great time for readers of all ages to snuggle in with a good book. I have been blessed with tons of amazing books titles for kids over these last few months and I want to get these books into the hands of young readers. SO, for the next three months Jump Into a Book will be hosting a book giveaway every Wednesday! Some giveaways will be a single title, some will be a “Book Bundle,” but all will be books that your readers will love and cherish. I think these books will also make great gifts as well! Here’s what we are giving away this week (NOTE: All of these books are physical books, not Kindle versions).

This week I am giving away some wonderful book that will appeal to our teen and YA readers. Enjoy!

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Briar Rose

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma’s stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma’s astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.

 

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

breadcrumbs

The winner of numerous awards and recipient of four starred reviews, Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs is a stunning and heartbreaking story of growing up, wrapped in a modern-day fairy tale. Read my extended review and bookjump HERE.

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson
The Girl from Felony Bay

Abbie Force has a mission: solve the mystery of her father’s accident and alleged theft. Since he has been in a coma for nine months and cannot defend himself, it is Abbie’s job to put the pieces together. Her life has been uprooted—her father’s unavailable; her home has been sold to a new family; she has to leave her beloved school; and now she has to live with her mean aunt and uncle that don’t give one lick about her. Her summer is starting off horribly. That is until she meets the new family that has moved into her old house with the same last name and a daughter near her age—Bee. These two adventurous girls become fast friends and on their many adventures through the plantation, discover a plot afoot right under their very noses. Read my extended book review and bookjump HERE.

Horn’s and Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson

Horns and Wrinkles

How can you tell if a river’s under a spell? River trolls, rock trolls, blue-wing fairies—the usual suspects. The stretch of the Mississippi where Claire lives has rumors of them all, not that she’s ever spotted any. But then Claire’s cousin Duke takes a swim and sprouts a horn—a long, pointy, handsome thing. After that, Claire doesn’t have much choice but to believe that something rivery is going on, especially since she’s the only one who can help Duke lose his new addition.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Three Months of Kidlit Book Giveaways! Awesome Books for Teens appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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19. #IndieHooplaPromos Tour: The Guardians of Man (Part 2 of 2)

Tour Schedule Here

I'm excited that I get to host on this tour because I met Lori several years ago and she's an amazing person and author. Crystal, I hope to get to know better. So ladies, I'm putting you in my hot chair, one at time of course, to see what myself and readers can learn about two authors working as one. Time to play 10 questions with Crystal! 

Do you prefer to write with a typewriter, pen and paper, or a computer?
Hi guys! Thanks so much for your time today. I like to write everything out by hand, once I get to the point where I’m satisfied I type it out and save it for my editor.

Do you need music or silence to write?
Once I start writing it doesn’t matter what’s going on around me. Once I started writing while I was in a movie theater. The movie wasn’t boring but sometimes, especially when I get to a certain point in the story, my writing trumps everything

Did you read a lot as a child?
As far as reading is concerned I was a late bloomer. I really didn’t start reading on my own until Jr. High.

How did you pick your cover art? What was the inspiration?
For the covers of In the foothills of Mt. Empyreal our inspiration came directly from the stories, which is why there are angels and birds on both covers. Our cover artist for this project is Rebecca Treadway over at http://atrtink.com/

I’ve worked with her before, this was Lori’s 1st time working with Rebecca but because I trusted her so completely Lori trusted her too. We sent her a few images and gave her an idea of what we wanted then we stepped back and let her run with it.

Because both books revolve around the same event and takes place in the same location, but are completely stand alone stories she reversed the images and joined both books together by using fire and ice color schemes. We both approved the very 1st concept.

What would you like to be remembered for?
Hopefully for the little things, for my random acts of kindness, something nice that I said. I hope that I can be forgiven for the times I was bullheaded or intentionally cruel because I let my anger get the best of me or I wanted to hurt someone for hurting me. Being a good person is hard and I haven’t always been that, so hopefully if I do what I need to, if I can think before I speak, to think before I act, I can be remembered as being a good person.

Are there any of your characters that are based off of any people in real life?
No. Some of my characters do and say things that remind me of people I know in real life and after the release of my story The Monster I had distant cousins contact me asking if some of the characters were based on family members, that was fun but, it was just a coincidence.

Of your characters, whom do you favor most, and why?
I don’t have an all time favorite but for instance like in the Spectrum Trilogy there are parts in the story as a whole where one character will blow me away.

How long did it take you to write your very first novel?
My very 1st novel The Darkness took five years to write, but I wasn’t writing full time.

Of your characters, who is it that you just love to hate? Why is that?
Lol, sometimes they piss me off but I don’t hate any of my characters. When I was working with Lori on Mt. Empyreal I created a character named Khrystle that I wasn’t really feeling but Lori wanted to keep her and that made me resent her for a while but I didn’t hate her.

How old were you when you first started writing?
Well I always told really creepy stories, I remember being invited to slumber parties for the sole purpose of telling a spooky story but I really didn’t start writing them down until I was in Jr. Highschool.

To see Lori's answers, VISIT HERE.


The Guardians of Man by Connor Titus

In the valley of Mt. Empyreal, the fight for humanity has already begun.

In the mountain community of Fate's Keep, the global power outage and the onset of winter are only the beginning of what is yet to come. Along with the first snowfall, an ancient evil has come. With time running out, will the Guardians be able to save mankind?


Buy the Book: Amazon



About the Authors

Lori Titus

Lori Titus is a native Californian with a penchant for stories that are twisted, scary, or both. She also enjoys a dash of romance in her storytelling when she can get away with it! She is the author of Hunting in Closed Spaces (The Marradith Ryder Series, Part 1). She is also half of the writing team known as Connor Titus (with author Crystal Connor) and has co-authored two novels, The Guardians of Man and The End Is Now. Lori has authored many short stories and two novellas, Lazarus and Hailey's Shadow. Some may know her as the Managing Editor at Flashes in the Dark. Upcoming work for 2015 includes a novel called The Bell House and the second installment of the Ryder Series.

The Darkest of Lore Blog  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads | Amazon Author Page


Crystal Connor


Washington State native Crystal Connor has been terrorizing readers since before Jr. high School and loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys, rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high heel shoes & unreasonably priced hang bags. She is also considering changing her professional title to ‘dramatization specialist’ because it’s so much more theatrical than being just a mere drama queen. Along with inducing insomnia within her readership Crystal also reviews indie horror and sci-fi movies for HorrorAddicts.net








 GIVEAWAY

1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire HDX 7" (US Only - $229 value) or Amazon Gift Card ($199 value/ International) Ends 12/17/2014. Open only to those who can legally enter. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kisha from Indie Hoopla Services & Promotions, http://indiehoopla.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

0 Comments on #IndieHooplaPromos Tour: The Guardians of Man (Part 2 of 2) as of 12/9/2014 12:01:00 AM
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20. Guest Post & Giveaway: Bruce Hale on Is There a Book Idea in Your Childhood?

By Bruce Hale
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Tell the truth, did you ever want to be a secret agent?

To experience the glamor, the danger, the mad spy skills?

I sure did, and from that childhood desire to be James Bond sprang my newest Disney-Hyperion series for tweens, School for S.P.I.E.S.

(Of course, that desire also led me to apply for a job with the CIA after college, but if I told you about that, I’d have to — well, you know.)

The deep, true passions of childhood can be a tremendous springboard for stories, as well as a way of reaching for what’s true in you as a writer. And by telling you how my own passions inspired this series, I hope to give you some ideas on mining your own childhood enthusiasms.

I was a child spy

Growing up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, I swam in a Cold War sea of spies and espionage. TV boasted "Get Smart," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," and "The Girl From U.N.C.L.E." X-ray glasses and toys like Six-Finger (a finger-shaped gun — don’t ask) abounded. And the movies were full of "Bond, James Bond."

I loved it all. My friend Billy and I played spies up and down the block, snooping into our neighbors’ doings and generally causing trouble. That love of spies continued up into middle school, when I discovered girls and lost interest in spies. Or so I thought.

In truth, the spy gene just went dormant for a while.

Many years later, after I’d written the Chet Gecko Mysteries series (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), I was casting about for my next project, when inspiration met preparation. And School for S.P.I.E.S. was born.

Yogic inspiration

Practicing tree skills with Billy
What’s the strangest place you can think of for inspiration to strike? A Laundromat? A bathroom? A disco?

Mine came during yoga class.

I arrived expecting your stereotypical yoga teacher. You know — beatific expression, serene energy, gentle style.

Instead, we got a big-hearted yet fierce little Korean woman — part drill sergeant, part slave driver. “You, flex your feet! You, straight your legs!” she snapped.

Half the class was mystified, the other half terrified.

I, however, knew a character for a book when I saw one.

Fast-forward to the end of my Chet Gecko series. I was beginning to mine ideas for the next project, using Ray Bradbury’s technique of creating a list of titles based on childhood memories. I also listed my early loves, like spies, monsters, and Daniel Boone.

In reviewing those lists, something clicked when it came to spies. I added in my old yoga teacher (now the spy school director), threw in a pinch of Oliver Twist, and the series concept sprang to life.

Granted, it took over thirteen drafts and a lot of work, but that childhood love of spies birthed a book, then a series.

Did it also, you wonder, lead to a job with the CIA?

Truth is, when they told me to get an advanced economics degree because all they needed were economic analysts, I thought, Maybe I’ll investigate that childhood dream of becoming a children’s author after all.

Cynsational Notes

Bruce Hale has written and illustrated over 30 books for young readers, including the award-winning Chet Gecko Mysteries, Clark the Shark (HarperCollins), and Snoring Beauty (Harcourt), one of Oprah’s Recommended Reads for Kids. His School For S.P.I.E.S. series began with Playing With Fire, and continues with Thicker Than Water.

Cynsational Giveaway

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21. Three Months of Book Giveaways! Four Enchanting Tales from Wisdom Tales Press!

 Wisdom Tale Press Giveaway

With the winter months upon us, I feel this is a great time for readers of all ages to snuggle in with a good book. I have been blessed with tons of amazing books titles for kids over these last few months and I want to get these books into the hands of young readers. SO, for the next three months Jump Into a Book will be hosting a book giveaway every Wednesday! Some giveaways will be a single title, some will be a “Book Bundle,” but all will be books that your readers will love and cherish. I think these books will also make great gifts as well! Here’s what we are giving away this week (NOTE: All of these books are physical books, not Kindle versions).

This week I am giving away some wonderful books courtesy of Wisdom Tales Press! As you may already know, I a huge fan of Wisdom Tales and their high-quality multicultural books for kids. Wisdom Tales is also one of our Platinum Sponsors for Multicultural Children’s Book Day and I couldn’t be more grateful. They were also kind enough to supply me with FOUR gorgeous books to giveaway this week! Good luck!

The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston and Illustrated by Claire Ewart
The Olive Tree
Read my book review of this wonderful book (with activities!) HERE.
The Dreidel That Wouldn’t Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson and Illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard
dradel
“This dreidel doesn’t work!” the father had cried. “What do you mean? How can a dreidel not work?” the shopkeeper asked. It was certainly the most beautiful spinning top the shopkeeper had ever seen, with magical golden letters on its sides. But it just would not spin for two spoiled children who insisted on owning it! Later, the shopkeeper decides to try it one last time: would it spin for another child, one who carried the true spirit of Hanukkah in his heart?
Horse raid by Paul Goble
Read my book review with companion activities HERE.
The Pandas and Their Chopsticks
Eating bamboo shoots with chopsticks three feet long? Impossible, you say. Not if you are a playful panda and learn to share and work together with your friends! In her beautifully illustrated new book, award-winning author, Demi, presents ten classic animal stories, each containing important moral lessons for little hearts and minds to absorb. Cunning kitties, helpful hummingbirds, talkative turtles, and hasty hedgehogs, all bring these meaningful fables to life. Through her magical illustrations and whimsical storytelling, Demi teaches the importance of being humble, the dangers of being too proud, the importance of generosity and sharing, and how everyone, no matter how small, has a part to play in life.

DETAILS ON GIVEAWAY:

  • ONE winner each receive a one copy of all three books. Giveaway begins December 10th and ends December 17th, 2014
  • Prizing & samples courtesy of Audrey Press
  • Giveaway open to US addresses only
  • ONE lucky winner will win one copy of each book listed above.
  • Residents of USA only please.
  • Must be 18 years or older to enter.
  • One entry per household.
  • Staff and family members of Audrey Press are not eligible.
  • Grand Prize winner has 48 hours to claim prize.
  • Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on December 18th

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Three Months of Book Giveaways! Four Enchanting Tales from Wisdom Tales Press! appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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22. Mortal Heart: review + giveaway

Assassin nuns! Who doesn’t love assassin nuns? (All of the people who get assassinated by them, probably.) If you aren’t a threat to 15th-century Brittany, though, you’re probably safe. That said, if you haven’t read any of the books in the His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers, GO READ THEM NOW. That is an order. The second book, Dark Triumph, is one of the best books I’ve read in the past year, and I think the series as a whole is pretty awesomesauce. The premise is as follows: the books follow the adventures (murder adventures) of three initiates – Ismae, Sybella, and Annith – of the Convent of Saint Mortain, the god of Death. All of the convent’s novitiates are also supposed to be the daughters of Mortain and have the creepy birth stories to prove it (with the exception of Annith whose birth is mysterious and unknown). They have all... Read more »

The post Mortal Heart: review + giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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23. DREAMTIME MAN Giveaway!


I am Giving away

I am giving away 5x Print Copies of
#Dreamtime Man

+ copies of my "Fairdinkum Aussie Recipe Book."

ONE copy can be won on each of the 5 days below.
Beginning December 11th.

Thursday - Friday - Saturday - Sunday - Monday




WIN Thursday the 11th's copy
by being the FIRST to answer this question:


Name a unique Aussie animal
that lives in gum trees. 


** Please add your answers to the
COMMENTS.


If you don't win Dreamtime Man,
ALL who add a comment will get a copy
of my FREE
"Fairdinkum Aussie Recipe Book."
Recipes for the food I loved to eat while
growing up Down Under. 


 *********************

DISCLAIMER:
These Dreamatime Man copies arrived with a small
pale gray mark at the bottom of some verse pages.

The problem has now been fixed, and I decided
to give away the originals. My lyrically rhyming
tale, based on Aboriginal history, and the glorious
illustrations, are not affected in any way.
  

 *********************

Books for Kids -Manuscript Critiques
SKYPE author Visits

 *********************

0 Comments on DREAMTIME MAN Giveaway! as of 12/10/2014 9:10:00 PM
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24. Guest Post & Giveaway: Dianne White on Doing the Work & Not Giving Up

By Dianne White
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

I haven’t always been a writer – at least not in the way I assume my friends who write must have been as children growing up.

I never wrote stories I couldn’t wait to share with my parents and teachers; I was not the kid who stapled lined pages together to write and illustrate my own books; I never kept a journal, and I’m not one of those people with rich imaginations able to tell grand stories at the drop of a hat.

I’m not at all like many writers I admire who are either far more gifted than me or simply have a voice and heart that seems to easily capture on paper that intangible something that makes a reader fall in love with a book.

So, how did I end up with a debut picture book published by my dream editor and illustrated by a Caldecott artist? Serendipity and something more.

Blue on Blue (Beach Lane, 2014) is one of those once-in-a-lifetime books. It was quickly written and sold to the first editor who saw it. This does not usually happen! Nor has it happened with any other manuscript I’ve written over more years that I care to mention. But the happy journey of Blue on Blue’s publication points to the few things that I, and every pre-published or published children’s writer, have the power to control: Do the work and don’t give up.

an author in the making
Do the work – put in your 10,000 – or less, or more - hours of practice. However many hours it takes you is really all that matters. So don’t compare. Ask any published author and they’ll tell you that each book is its own puzzle. What sometimes looks easy to the outsider is never exactly as it seems. But practice and study and an attitude that understands there’s always room for growth will never disappoint.

As a primary grade teacher who earned a credential in the late 80’s during the height of core lit and thematic units, I had only just begun to understand the power, width, and breadth of the picture book genre. I fell in love and wanted to write such books.

But like most things, wanting to do something and learning to do it well don’t always go hand in hand. The work must be so grounded in passion that you’re willing to do what it takes to get you there. Writing is hard, and publishing is a business, after all. Writing is also art, so go in expecting to face rejection – lots of it - with the knowledge that it will never be as easy as it looks.

Okay. Sure. There will be people who will reach their publishing goals faster than you. But, in the end, we reach our goals our own way, and if it takes you longer than you think it should, then do yourself a favor and embrace the journey. Because, honestly, that’s one of the very best things about the children’s book community - the awesome, and very supportive people you’ll meet along the way. Be sure to take time to appreciate that goodness and the many terrific people rooting for you.

Don’t give up – this is where your level of passion comes into play. Writing for kids is an honor and a gift. Treasure it and understand that it is your passion that will keep you plugging away, rethinking, and revising.

When Blue on Blue debuted on Dec, 9, it was almost six years from acquisition to publication. In every single way, it’s been worth the wait. It’s a book I’m deeply proud of, most especially because it reflects the vision of a group of dedicated picture book lovers– editor Allyn Johnston, illustrator Beth Krommes, and art director Lauren Rille.

Picture books exist because of this community of artists, all of who contribute something wonderful and unique to the projects they’re involved in.

I continue to work on new picture book ideas, but I’m enjoying this time of “firsts.” It’s been a long but worthwhile journey and I can’t wait to see what new experiences and wonderful things lie just around the corner.

Cynsational Notes

Dianne White has lived and traveled around the world and now calls Arizona home. She holds an elementary bilingual teaching credential and a master's in Language and Literacy. In 2007, she received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

After teaching students of all ages for 25 years, she now writes full-time. Her first picture book, Blue on Blue, illustrated by 2009 Caldecott winner, Beth Krommes, is published by Beach Lane Books.

Illustration by Beth Krommes; learn more about Blue on Blue!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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25. congratulations to the winners of the jumpin’ jolly triple-triple-triple (holy holly this title is long) giveaway to giveaway!

Giveaway goodies!

Giveaway goodies!

Congratulations to . . .

  • Randy Bulla, winner of JAKE and LILY by Jerry Spinelli.
  • Danielle Hammelef, winner of FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo.
  • Erin Fanning, winner of EXTRA YARN by Marc Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.

Winners, please contact me with your mailing address and let me know if you’d like to take me up on the free gift wrapping option.

Whether you decide to experience the joy of giving away your giveaway prize or cherishing it yourself (and who could blame you?), I hope this special treat adds fun to your holiday.

Many thanks to everyone who entered–and invited friends to follow Frog on a Dime. I understand a few squirrels may be added to the list (thank you, Randy!)

Wishing you all a lovely holiday season, filled with laughter, craziness (the jolly kind), moments for quiet reflection (and of course, reading) and much joy!

Oh, and cookies. Can’t forget those.

Merry Reading from Frog on a Dime! Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Merry Reading from Frog on a Dime!
Photo by Vicky Lorencen


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