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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: book tour, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Book Blog Tour: The Secret in Mossy Swamp by Rita Monette...

Things are never what they seem... in a foggy Louisiana swamp

Book Information:

Title: The Secret in Mossy Swamp

Series: Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, Book 3

Author Name: Rita Monette

Genre(s): Juvenile/Middle Grade, Adventure, Mystery

Length: Approx. 204 pages

ISBN Paperback: 978-1987976168

Release Date: Septemer 17, 2016

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing

Follow the Blog Tour:

About The Secret in Mossy Swamp:

Living in a tiny houseboat, Nikki is stuck with sharing a room with her little brother, Jesse, who does what little brothers do best…torture their sisters. Fed up, she decides to build a place of her own…a tree house where no boys are allowed. Meanwhile, something strange is happening on Bayou Platte. Things and people are coming up missing…and little stick dolls covered in moss, known locally as “signs” from the legendary Rougarou, are showing up in their place.

Is the Rougarou really to blame? Can Nikki get to the bottom of the mystery before things get worse? Find out in this third instalment of the Nikki Landry Swamp Legends Series!

Exclusive Excerpt:

Mama came into the room, holding her worn cotton housecoat together in the front. “What’s all the commotion?”

Papa chuckled. “Jesse’s giving Nikki a hard time.”

“He snuck up and grabbed me in the dark, Mama.”

“Oh, Nikki, he’s just playing around,” she said. “He’s just a baby.”

“Why does everyone take up for him?” I folded my arms in front of me. “He’s not a baby. He’s a pest, that’s what he is.”

Jesse giggled and ran toward his cot, where he’d shaped his blankets to look like someone was lying under ’em. “I really scared you, didn’t I?” He made a growling noise and jumped onto his bed. “Did you think I was the rougarou?”

I threw my pillow at him. “No.”

“Did that howling wake you?” Mama asked Jesse as she tucked him in.

“Nope. I ain’t scared of no how’ing dog.” Jesse still struggled with his L sounds.

“That wasn’t no howling sound anyway.” I poked my lips out. “It was more like some old pig a-screechin’.”

“Well, y’all quiet down.” She handed me back my pillow. “Papa’s gotta get some sleep. He has to get up early in the morning.”

Add the Book on Goodreads:

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing ~
Paperback: http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/juvenile/products/the-secret-in-mossy-swamp-paperback

eBook: http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/collections/juvenile/products/the-secret-in-mossy-swamp-e-book

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cbkPHy

Meet the Author:

Behind Every Legend Lies the Truth!

Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. She is currently retired and lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, She enjoys participating in festivals and craft shows where she does face and body art, along with selling her books.


Goodreads Author Page:  

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2. Last Day of 2015

This is my annual recap of the year that was as well as a squiz at what’s gunna happen in 2016.1 By which I mean what’s going to happen in my publishing life. I am not Nostradamus. (Actually neither was Nostradamus. He was not an accurate prognosticator.) Nor would I want to be. I’m convinced being able to tell the future is the worst superpower. I’d rather be invisible and being invisible never ends well. Just read H. G. Wells!

Um, I digress:

How my books did in 2015

resized_9781743319789_224_297_FitSquareAt the beginning of the year my story, “Little Red Suit,” in Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar and Anita Roy, was published in Australia and New Zealand by Allen and Unwin.

The anthology is an Indian-Australian collaboration with half the contributors from each country. Some worked in collaboration with each other to produce comics as well as short stories. I was partnered with Anita Roy. We critiqued each other’s stories. Hers is a corker: future Masterchef. I chortled. There’s not a single dud in Eat the Sky.2

RazorhurstUSIn March Soho Teen published the North American edition of Razorhurst. It received four starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus and em>The Bulletin of The Center for Children’s Books (BCCB). As well as making the Tayshas 2016 list.

Meanwhile in Australia Razorhurst was shortlisted for the following awards: Adelaide Festival Award 2016, Young Adult Fiction Award, New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards 2015, Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award 2015, Golden Inky Award, Queensland Literary Awards 2015, The Griffith University Young Adult Book Awardand the Norma K. Hemming Award 2015. Razorhurst won the Aurealis Award for Best Horror Novel.

The acclaim for Razorhurst means even more to me than usual because, let’s be honest, Razorhurst is weird. It sits uneasily in a bunch of different genres. Some said it wasn’t really YA. Thus making the shortlist for the Inkys—entirely voted on by teen readers—was particularly gratifying. We struggled figuring out how to market the book. I worried it was going to disappear without a trace. So as you can imagine the enthusiastic reception has been way beyond what I let myself hope for. For awhile there all I let myself hope for was that Razorhurst would get published.

Books Out in 2016

MySisterRosa_RCcvr.inddA year ago I thought my next novel would be out already. But then I had a nasty bout of pneumonia in January and it took forever to recover. Lungs, they do not like to be messed with. I give pneumonia one star and that’s for the silent p.

My Sister Rosa was bumped from the schedule. None of my books has ever been bumped before. It freaked me out. OMG! I’m never going to finish this book! It’s never going to be published! My career is over! But—spoiler—I finished the book. Turns out it’s better to take the time to write the best book possible than to rush into print something half-baked. In the end, I’m proud of Rosa but it was the most gruelling writing experience of my career.

My Sister Rosa is my eleventh book, my eighth novel, and seventh solo novel. It’s my sixth book with my Australian/New Zealand publisher, Allen and Unwin, which makes them the publisher I’ve been with the longest anywhere in the world. Thank you, Allen and Unwin, for sticking with me! Youse mob are a joy to work with.

For those of you who don’t know, My Sister Rosa is my take on the bad seed told from the point of view a seventeen year old boy whose ten year old sister is a psychopath. Spoiler: this does not lead to fun times. You can read the first chapter here and how I came to write it here. It’s my first novel that I can accurately describe in one short sentence. High concept! I finally managed it.

IMG_5796The Australian edition will hit shops at the end of January. So soon! The finished book is gorgeous. Look at that cover. It’s beautiful and creepy, which is perfect. Also it has the popping-est spine.

Okay, I admit it doesn’t look that popping in this photo, but trust me, in real life it totally pops. People are going to see it on shelves and be compelled to pick it up and take it home. It is the Pied Piper of book spines.

There will be not one, but two, My Sister Rosa launches. For the first time I’ll be launching with someone else. Kirsty Eagar’s brilliant new book Summer Skin publishes on the same day. I’m a huge Eagar fan so launching our books together is going to be amazing. The first launch is in Sydney, the second in Melbourne:

Thursday, 4 February 2016 at 6:00pm for a 6:30pm
Double book launch My Sister Rosa/Summer Skin book launch
with the fabulous Kirsty Eagar
We will discuss
Sex and Psychopaths
And answer all your questions for we love Q&A!
Level 2, The Galleries,
500 George St,
Sydney, NSW

Wednesday 10 February 2016 at 6:00pm for a 6:30pm
Double book launch of My Sister Rosa/Summer Skin
With the brilliant Kirsty Eagar
By the wonderful Ellie Marney
309 Lygon St,
Carlton, Victoria

Hope to see you some of you there!

My Sister Rosa will be published in the USA and Canada by Soho Press in November 2016. That’s my second book with them. So far it’s been a very enjoyable experience working with the lovely folk at Soho. Wait till you see Rosa’s Soho cover! It’s every bit as good (and grey) as the Allen and Unwin cover but also very different. I’ve been blessed by the cover gods on this book.

What I wrote in 2015

I spent this year writing and rewriting and rewriting and going through copyedits and proofs of My Sister Rosa. This took longer than I thought it would and not just because of the pneumonia. Rosa was a tough book to write. For the first time in my writing life I struggled to find the voice of my protagonist. I didn’t get it right until I was well into the second or third draft. (Or was it the fourth? It’s all a blur now.) Since I’d already sold the book it was pretty terrifying. I had a finished draft and yet the narrative voice didn’t work. What even?!

Since this is my first book told entirely from the point of view of a boy some assumed it was his maleness that made finding his voice difficult. Not at all. It was how nice he is. Che Taylor is possibly the nicest point of view character I’ve ever written. He genuinely thinks the best of everyone. Even his psychopathic sister. Writing someone that nice is hard. Ridiculously hard.

I suspect this reflects poorly on me. I’m sure other writers have no difficulties writing nice. Oh, well. We all have our flaws. I got there in the end and the early responses to Che are very positive. So far no one finds him so nice they want to throw up. Phew.

I also wrote forty thousand words of a new novel this year. It’s told from the point of view of the least nice character I’ve ever written. She’s a psychopath. Yup, having written from Che’s point of view about living with a psychopath, and doing all the research to make that convincing, I started writing a novel from the monster’s point of view. It has its own difficulties but, I’m ashamed to say, it’s much easier writing from a psychopath’s point of view than from that of their empathetic opposite.

I continued blogging, but between illness and deadlines, did not manage to blog nearly as much as last year. I’m hoping to do better in 2016. I love blogging, even though apparently it’s still dying, and hate it when I have too much going on to do so regularly.

So, yeah, I plan to blog more next year, illness, weather, deadlines willing. Blogging, I love you no matter how out of fashion you are. *hugs blogging*

Writing Plans for 2016

I plan to finish the psychopath novel. It’s unsold so I can’t tell you when it will be published. My experience with My Sister Rosa showed me, once again, that I have a much easier time of it if I sell my novels after I finish them, not before. I’m lucky that I’m in a position where I’m able to do that. I think I’ve finally learned to stop worrying about how big the gaps are between my novels’ publication.

All of this writing is possible because I’m still managing my RSI as I described here. Being ill did make it worse. The fitter I am, the less trouble I have with it, and I lost a lot of fitness this year. But I’m almost back to being able to write as much as six hours a day now.

Travel in 2015

I was in the USA in April and May to promote Razorhurst and had a wonderful time. The Houston Teen Book Con was amazing. If you’re ever invited, fellow YA authors, go. It’s the first YA con I’ve been to that was overwhelming populated by teens. Wonderful!

For my travel plans in 2016 go here. I’ll be in the USA in May for the paperback publication of Razorhurst and to be guest of honour (!) at Wiscon. I’ll return in November for the North American publication of My Sister Rosa (and to complain about how cold it is).

Reading and Watching in 2015

One of the good things about being really sick is that I read a lot more than I usually do this year. I read so many wonderful books I don’t know where to start. I tweet about books and tv shows I love so if you’re looking for more recommendations you can check my Twitter feed.

As mentioned above I discovered the writing of Kirsty Eagar this year and was blown away. Everyone needs to read her NOW. I know many consider, Raw Blue, to be her best book, and don’t get me wrong, it’s excellent, but my favourite is Night Beach which is one of the best explorations of teenage female desire I’ve read.3 Night Beach takes on one of the dominant tropes in YA: teen girl lusting after a little bit older hot guy. The teen girl is not punished for this desire. She is not seen as freakish or slut-shamed. I could hug this book.

In Eagar’s version the guy turns out to not be perfect. He is not a wish fulfilment, but a real person with flaws, some of them misogynistic. I’ve been working on my own take on this trope and getting no where with it for years and years. Eagar has written the book I haven’t been able to and it’s amazing. She manages to write about the toxicity of masculinity, while portraying believable, not villainous, male characters. She shows how that toxic mix of masculinity and misogyny is harmful to men as well as women.

Another favourite huge favourite this year was Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda‘s Monstress. Wow. Words fail. The writing. The art. It’s one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read and we’re only two issues in. MORE PLEASE.

Then there was Nnedi Okorafor‘s Lagoon. I’ve never read a book like it before. Big and sprawling with a million points of view, including sea creatures. It’s about an alien invasion that starts in Lagos, Nigeria but, really, that’s just the starting point. It’s about much more than that. It’s one of those books you’ll get something different out of ever time you read it. Yes, I’ve already read it twice.

I also loved Ashley Hope Perez’s heartbreaking Out of Darkness set in late the 1930s in a small town Texas. It should win all the YA awards.

This year I decided to read something I normally hate: a cosy mystery. You know one of those mysteries where everything is tidily wrapped up at the end and everyone lives happily ever after? An Agatha Christie kind of mystery. They are so not my thing. But then someone was raving about Barbara Neely’s Blanche White books and they sounded interesting. I read the first one, Blanche on the Lam about a black domestic worker who escapes after a judge gives her a custodial sentence for being late paying a fine. She winds up being housekeeper to a deeply dysfunctional wealthy white family, and solving their assorted crimes, while delivering much pungent, and often funny, commentary on racism and misogyny while resisting her employers’ desires to turn her into a mammy. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

I also read much non-fiction this year. I re-read The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter. It’s a book every one should read, particularly Americans, as the USA is her primary focus. Her book demonstrates that white is not universal, that white is not neutral, that it has a history, which she eloquently delineates. It’s not often you finish a book understanding how the world operates better than before you read it.

I was wowed by Margo Jefferson’s memoir, Negroland, which is about growing up black and privileged in Chicago in the fifties and sixties. It was a window into an alien world. Obviously, I’m not black, but what was really alien to me was her family’s focus on respectability. I was never taught when to wear white gloves, what length skirt is appropriate. The only reason I’ve ever had to wear a hat is to avoid skin cancer. But I’ve known white Australian girls from wealthy families who were sent to posh private schools, who knew all of that stuff, and I think would recognise much in Jefferson’s book. What I related to most strongly was the sexism and misogyny she had to battle.

One of my fave new TV shows is Into the Badlands because martial arts staged well and magically and saturated colours and eye candy and coherent plot and world building. It has a strong diverse cast. Except, well, I’ve been noticing this a lot lately in US TV shows and movies, even when several of the big roles are given to PoC, the extras are still overwhelmingly white. And there’s never any world-building to explain why in the future the world is 90% white.

I also enjoyed Ready For This, which was created by the people behind Dance Academy and Redfern Now, and really it’s what you’d get if you crossed Redfern Now with Dance Academy. I.e. heaven.

2015 was awful but there’s always hope

I was sicker this year than I’ve been in years. It made everything else much harder. I spent the year behind on deadlines and everything else. It’s only now in December that I feel even slightly caught up. 2016 has to be better.

2015 was an awful year in both of my home countries, Australia and the USA, and in way too many other parts of the world. I would love to say that I’m full of hope for change in the future. I try to be. But then more awful shit happens and nothing is done to stop it from repeating. History, we are not learning from it.

In Australia we have a government actively undoing what little progress had been made on climate change and stripping money from all the important institutions such as the ABC, CSIRO and SBS. The new PM, Turnbull, while a vast improvement on his predecessor is not doing much, if anything, to slow that process done. Sure, he’s less anti-science and anti-culture than Abbott, but low bar, and there’s not a lot to show for it beyond rhetoric. We still have disgraceful policies on asylum seekers and Aboriginal Australians continue to die in custody.

Last year I wrote: May you have a wonderful 2016 full of whatever you love best and may the world become less unjust. Speaking out and creating art that truly reflects the world we live in goes part of the way towards doing that. At least that’s what I hope.

I feel the same way now. Happy new year! May 2016 not be vile.

  1. Yes, here in Sydney it is the 31st of December. Time zones. Who knew?
  2. It’ll be published in North America but I don’t have more details on that yet.
  3. I’ve not yet read Saltwater Vampires I’m saving that as a reward for after I finish the books I have in my critique queue.

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3. Book Tour: Goth Girl, Virgin Queen by JoAnne Keltner...

Book Information:

Title: Goth Girl, Virgin Queen

Author Name: JoAnne Keltner

Genre(s): Young Adult Paranormal

Length: Approx. 298 pages

Release Date: December 3, 2015

Jackie Turov, a Different Kind of Psychic...

Jackie Turov (Goth Girl, Virgin Queen) hates being called psychic. When her friends compare her to Madam Sophie, the local fortuneteller and serious fashion crimes offender, she swears she’s not psychic—not like her. Although Jackie denies her psychic gifts because of the guilt she carries, she’s right in that she has different abilities than Madam Sophie.

There are many types of psychics, which are based on the ability they possess. For example, mediums communicate with the dead. Clairvoyants see things that can’t be seen with the five senses. Since they can see things that the normal person can’t, they are typically helpful in offering people guidance. Some psychics use divination tools, such as Tarot cards and tea leaves, to predict the future or to gain insight into a person’s life. Others can see and interpret auras, the colorful energy fields that surround living things. Empaths pick up the emotional states of people. Psychometrists read objects and people through touch. And claircongnizants know things intuitively, typically by picking up a “gut” feeling. This is just a short list of psychic types, and many psychics have a combination of abilities.

So what kind of psychic is Jackie? Jackie is an empath and a psychometrist. Plus, she can read auras. She absorbs the emotions of people just by being near them and also picks up emotions and information through touch. This information tells her things about a person’s past and about the present. Her empathic ability is the most crippling for her because she absorbs emotions into her body. This makes her sick, especially when the emotions are toxically hateful or extremely sad.
Madam Sophie is a classic mind reader, plus she uses psychometry and divination tools to gain insight.

Jason (Jackie’s best friend) argues that Jackie is psychic in the traditional sense, that she can predict the future because she predicted the Holy Resurrection fire. Is Jason right? Does Jackie also possess the power to see into the future? Read Goth Girl, Virgin Queen to find out.

About Goth Girl, Virgin Queen:

Calling Jackie Turov psychic makes her cringe. But Jackie’s no normal seventeen-year-old. She picks up emotions from people and objects like a freak. The emotions make her sick, and the guilt she feels for lying to her church when she was twelve causes her to deny her psychic abilities.

So Jackie goes goth to make others stay away from her and forget her past. But her past is soon resurrected when her jealous friend Trish invites a demon, a persecutor of healers, to steal away Jason’s love for Jackie. The demon causes Jackie to be bullied for the lie she told and puts her best friend, Jason, in danger.

Jackie must learn how to use her gift to protect Jason and herself and to heal the negative energies of those around her. To do so means she must overcome her guilt and accept who she is before the demon claims her soul.

Read an Excerpt:

The medicine cabinet mirror—dotted with rust and turning gray—made the powder foundation on Jackie’s face look ashen and her jet-black hair, blurry. She looked like a shadow of a girl. She smeared black lipstick on her lips and shook out her shoulder-length hair. Her straight-cut bangs veiled her mascara-lined eyes, and the layered ends of her hair stuck out in defiant wisps.

Some of the kids at school—the ones she didn’t hang out with—called her Goth Girl. Some, whose memories wouldn’t die, called her VQ for Virgin Queen.

Jackie preferred Goth Girl, to be one of the living dead, to be numb to the emotions that plagued her. But this was what she wanted, not what she got.

Goth Girl or Virgin Queen, she was a freak, absorbing the emotions around her like a sponge. Sometimes the emotions made her sick. Sometimes they made her see things.

Because of this, she kept to a tight-knit group of goth friends—Jason, Zeta, and Trish—and avoided social activities. She attended high school only because Mom wouldn’t let her homeschool. Mom was afraid she’d hang with Babu all day, making piroshki and doing needlepoint instead of studying. Jackie, afraid of what life offered a freak like her beyond high school, had to admit that hanging with Babu all day was tempting.

Typically, Fridays were movie nights for Jason and her, but tonight would be different. Tonight, she’d subject herself to a hodgepodge of emotions from crowds and rides and the very ground she’d walk on to protect Jason. For this, she would need physical and spiritual strength, which she sought from Babu these days.

Babu’s door was cracked, and Jackie slowly pushed the door open. “Babu?”

The room smelled of beeswax and down. A candle burned on the shrine on the dresser. The flickering flame animated the icon of the Virgin of Vladimir and cast shadows across the picture of Babu, Grandma, Mom, and Jackie. Although Babu didn’t speak English, and Jackie didn’t understand much Russian, Jackie knew Babu kept that picture on her shrine to pray for Grandma, who passed away several years ago; for Mom, who divorced Dad; and for the girl who saw the Virgin when she was twelve—for the girl she had become as a teen.

Babu sat in bed, a country quilt spread over her legs, her thumb pressed against a knot of her prayer rope, her head bowed sleepily, and her lips wording prayers.

“I wanted to say goodbye,” Jackie whispered.

Babu crossed herself and then smiled at Jackie, her gold eyetooth shining from the light of the bed-stand lamp. She patted the empty space beside her. “Sadees.”

Jackie sat down beside Babu at the edge of the bed and took Babu’s hand in hers. Babu’s hand was warm and knotted with arthritis. Jackie rubbed her thumb over the bumps on Babu’s knuckles; her black fingernails were a sharp contrast to Babu’s flour-white skin.

She wasn’t afraid to touch Babu’s hands and absorb her emotions. Jackie got a good feeling from her. Babu filled Jackie’s inner vision with white light. She renewed her spirit. And this is what Jackie needed for the commitment she had made for tonight.

Kooda eedyosh?” Babu asked.

“I’m going out,” Jackie said as if Babu understood her. This is how they communicated: Babu telling her stuff she couldn’t understand, Jackie telling Babu stuff she couldn’t understand. Somehow they carried on fine this way.

Eedyosh sdroozyamee?”

“I’m going with Jason.”

Babu rubbed the top of Jackie’s hand and ran her thumb over black fingernails. “Fsyevo kharoshevuh,” she said in a comforting tone and gently squeezed Jackie’s hand. Then she cupped her hands around Jackie’s jaws and pulled her forehead to her lips. Jackie imagined Babu’s kiss imprinted on her forehead and carrying Babu’s blessings and love with her tonight.
Meet the Author:

JoAnne Keltner is the author of Goth Girl, Virgin Queen (Solstice Publishing, 2015) and Obsession (Musa Publishing, 2013 ed.). As an only child and avid daydreamer, she spent hours alone in her backyard on the South Side of Chicago, which she imagined to be everything from an alien planet to the Antarctic. She currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, four dogs, cat, and three chickens. When she isn't writing or freelance editing, she's obsessively streaming popular TV shows.

Social Media Links:

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4. Dan Hanna – Illustrator Interview

I am changing up my Wednesday series just a little today to join in Debbie Diesen and Dan Hannah’s blog & book tour of THE NOT VERY MERRY POUT-POUT FISH, the latest hardcover children’s picture book from The New York … Continue reading

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5. I Love Teens

No, not in that way. Stop snickering.

Not all of them, obviously. Like adults, some are lovely, some are complete shitheads, and some are a bit meh. But unlike the majority of adults, teens mostly don’t temper their enthusiasms, they haven’t had their enthusiasms squashed down for them yet. Yes, some have a wall of fuck-you, but when you break through that wall of fuck you, it stays broken.

On my first book tour, for How To Ditch Your Fairy, I was sent around the USA to talk to mostly years 6, 7 and 8. In the US they segregate those years into what they call middle schools. Middle schools are notoriously hellish. All my YA/middle grade writer friends who were veterans of many tours were deeply sympathetic and told me horror stories of being pelted with rotten fruit and being asked probing literary questions such as, “Why are your clothes so shit?”1

Thanks, you bastard writer friends, for filling my heart with terror.

On that first tour I visited gazillions of middle schools. They were all fabulous. Not a single projectile was thrown and my western boots were beloved. So was my accent. I highly recommend touring the US if you have a non US English-as-a-native-language accent and cool boots.

A quick aside: what I was meant to be doing was flogging my books, which was pointless as most teens do not show up at school with the money to buy books. (The only exception is the insanely rich private schools with stables and croquet courts where each kids has an expense account and three hundred copies of my book sold in a day. STABLES, people!) What I actually did was not talk about my book much at all.2

My favourite visit of the entire tour was at a public school (without a hint of a stable) in the Midwest.3 I was abandoned in the library by my publicist and the librarian in front of three classes of mostly 13 and 14 year olds. There were at least 60 teens and me. Every writer in this situation develops an if-all-else-fails move. Mine is vomit stories. This is the story I told them. Their response was to ask me to tell more vomit stories. Much fun was had.

When we got to Q&A they wanted to know everything there is to know about Australians, a people with whom they clearly had a lot in common. So I may or may not have told them that wombats fly and echolocate and aerate the earth, which, is, in fact, why they’re called “wombats” because they’re a cross between a worm and a bat. The questions and answers went on in that mode. We all laughed our arses off.

You’ll be pleased to hear they DID NOT BELIEVE A SINGLE WORD. One actually said, “You are the best liar ever.”

I conceded that, yes, bullshit is an art and that I have studied with the very best.

They all cheered.

Sadly, I praised the fine art of bullshitting just as the librarian and publicist walked back in. They were unswayed by the approval of my audience.

Cue lecture on not swearing in front of students. To which I did not respond by pointing out that in my culture shit does not count as swearing. Mainly because I wasn’t a hundred per cent sure I hadn’t said any of the words that count as swearing for all cultures ever. Their main concern, of course, was not the students, it was the parents. The librarian really didn’t want to deal with all the complaints they were sure they were going to get because of my praise of bullshit.

No teen has ever told me not to swear or complained about the shits and fucks and arseholes in my books.4 Nor have they ever complained about the sex. Or violence. They have, however, complained that my books start too slow, that no teen would ever be allowed the freedom that the teens in my books have, and that I don’t write fast enough, what am I? The laziest writer in the world?

Teens also, you’ll be stunned to hear, do not complain about the so-called fact that teens don’t read.

My hairdresser does. He has apparently read every single one of the gazillion panicked articles about the the current generation’s total lack of literacy. Seriously every time I go in he will say, once we’ve gotten past all the neighbourhood gossip, “I hear kids aren’t reading much these days.”

And I will say for the gazillionth time, “Actually, teens today read more than any previous generation of teens. They are readaholics. They are a huge part of why the genre I write, YA, is such a huge seller with double digit growth every year for well over a decade.”

“My kids only read comic books.”

“That’s reading! Reading graphic novels and manga requires a level of literacy with images and language that many adult readers struggle with. Furthermore, not only are teens reading more than ever before. They are also writing more. They write novels! Did you write a novel when you were thirteen? I didn’t. Teens today are a literacy advocate’s wet dream. Also, my lovely hairdresser, you need to stop reading the [redacted name of tabloid newspaper].”

This is why I love teens. They don’t get their information from [redacted name of tabloid newspaper]. Most of them are a lot better at spotting bullshit than your average adult and they’re way less prone to repeating the warmed over moral panics of the last hundred years. The sheer breadth of their reading is astonishing. They read novels, and comic books—sometimes backwards—and airplane manuals and games reviews and they write songs and poetry and stories and novels and think about words and language and invent slang in ways that most adults have long since ceased to do.

Can you imagine a better audience?

  1. That last question was actually asked on a tour of the UK, not the US. In the questioner’s defence the writer in question really does wear shit clothes. Most writers are poor, yo.
  2. I wonder why I was only ever sent out on one other tour? It is very puzzling.
  3. I think it was an M state. But it could have been a vowel state. My memory is now hazy.
  4. For the record none of those words appear in How To Ditch Your Fairy the book I was promoting.

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6. Summer Schedule!

Summer reading is upon us! I am honored and delighted to have created the art for the Collaborative Summer Library Program. Perhaps you may see one of these posters hanging at your local library? If you do, please give your librarians a high-five for me!

I'll be stopping by a few libraries in New England this summer for book readings. Perhaps we can high-five the librarians together?

June 29 
3:30 pm
Watertown, MA
Watertown Public Library

June 30
6:00 pm Grades K-2
6:45 pm Book Signing
7:30 pm Grades 3 +
Durham, CT
July 7
Always Tardy Marty hits bookshelves! Written by the talented Erica S. Perl and illustrated by yours truly! Ironically, 
this book is hitting bookshelves early. (It was originally slated for September.)

July 21
6:30 pm
Walpole, MA
Walpole Public Library

August 6
Chicopee, MA

I know you don't want to think of back-to-school season just yet, but... Looking ahead to fall, here is a look at some
of the events that are getting cooked up. There will be more events added for It's Tough to Lose Your Balloon, so stay
tuned for more info!

September 5
Washington, D.C.
The National Book Festival

September 8
It's Tough to Loose Your Balloon hits bookshelves! When this book publishes, it will be the 30th book with the name Krosoczka on the spine!

September 8
4 pm
Dedham, MA
Blue Bunny Bookshop

September 9
Knoxville, TN
Union Avenue Books

September 12
Amherst, MA
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

September 19
Princeton, NJ

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7. What I’ll Be Doing In May: New York! Dallas!

I have two events in New York in the next week and a bit. The first is in Manhattan and the other is a little bit upstate in Rhinebeck, a gorgeous town I’ve heard much about, but never visited before:

Wednesday, 6 May, 6-7:30pm
Teen Author Reading Night
Melissa Grey, Corey Ann Haydu,
Justine Larbalestier, Lance Rubin,
Melissa Walker, Tommy Wallach.
Jefferson Market Branch of NYPL
Corner of 6th Ave and 10th St
New York, New York

Look at that star-studded line up! It shall be a wonderful night. I’ll be reading a very short amusing bit from Razorhurst. Yes, even a book that’s been repeatedly described as “bloody” and “blood-soaked” and just won the Aurealis award for best Australian horror novel1 has funny bits. Honest.

Sunday, 10 May, 4:00pm
Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld
Hudson Valley YA Society
Oblong Books
6422 Montgomery Street
Rhinebeck, New York, 12572

Me and the old man will talk about our latest books, what books are coming next, what it’s like living with another writer—HELL ON EARTH! heavenly—and many other things.

We’ll also be at the Romantic Times Conference in Dallas in May. Where we’ll both be reading our juvenilia to an audience that may regret attending that particular session. I found a demented Raymond Chandler pastiche from when I was around fourteen. Breathtakingly awful. You’ll laugh till you expire.

Here’s hoping I get to see some of you soon!

  1. Adult or Young Adult, I’ll have you know. Go, Razorhurst!

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8. Last Day of 2014

The year is practically over so here I am again with my annual recap of the year that was as well as a squiz at what’s gunna happen in 2015.1

Books Out in 2014

This was my first year with a new solo novel since 2009. Five years in between solo novels!2 I was nervous but it seems to have gone quite well.

Razorhurst was published in July by Allen and Unwin in Australia and New Zealand. The reviews have been blush-making. Including being named a book of the week by the Sydney Morning Herald, of the month from Readings Books and making Readings’ top ten YA books of the year and top 50 books by Australian women in 2014 lists, as well being the Australian Independent Bookseller’s No. 1 Children’s Pick for July. Although Razorhurst isn’t out in the US until March it’s already received starred reviews from the School Library Journal as well as Kirkus.

Then, best of all, earlier this month I learned that Razorhurst has made the shortlist of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award (Young Adult), which is one of the biggest YA prizes in Australia.3

So, yeah, I’m more than happy with how Razorhurst has been received. Pinching myself, in fact.

Books Out in 2015 and 2016

I will have three books out in 2015. Two novels and a short story in a wonderful new anthology.

resized_9781743319789_224_297_FitSquareIn India this month my story, “Little Red Suit,” was published in Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar and Anita Roy, but I’m going to pretend that’s 2015, as it will be published in Australia and New Zealand by Allen and Unwin in February. Isn’t that cover divine?

The anthology is an Indian-Australian collaboration with half the contributors from each country. Some of them worked in collaboration with each other to produce comics as well as short stories. I was partnered with Anita Roy and we critiqued each other’s stories. Hers is a corker. I can’t wait to see the finished book.

“Little Red Suit,” is a post-apocalyptic retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Fairy tales were the first stories I ever told so it was lovely to return to the form. As I’ve mentioned, once or twice, I am not a natural short story writer. They are much more of a challenge for me than writing novels. So much so that I kind of want to turn this story into a novel. (Almost all of my short stories are secretly novels.) I hope you enjoy it.

RazorhurstUSIn March Soho Teen will publish the US edition of Razorhurst. I am very excited and will be over there in the US doing events in California and New York and Texas and possibly some other states. I will keep you posted. Yes, the Soho Teen edition will be available in Canada too.

Then in October I’ll have a brand new novel out with Allen and Unwin.

Let’s pause for a moment to digest that: in October there will be a brand new Justine Larbalestier novel, only a year later than my last one.

I know, brand new novels two years in a row! I’ve become a writing machine!

The new novel hasn’t been formally announced yet so I can’t tell you much about it other than it’s realism set in New York City, told from the point of view of a seventeen-year old Australian boy named Che.

The new novel will be published in the USA by Soho Press in March 2016.

What I wrote in 2014

I spent this year writing and rewriting the new novel. As well as rewrites, copyedits and etc. of Razorhurst. My novels, they go through many drafts.

And, me being me, I started a brand new novel out of nowhere, inspired by . . . you know what, it’s still a tiny whisper of a novel. I’ll wait until there’s a bit more before I start talking about it in public.

Then just a week or so ago I got the idea for yet another novel. So who knows which of those I’ll wind up finishing this year.

I continued blogging and managed to blog roughly once a week for most of the year. The most fun I had blogging this year was doing the Bestselling Women’s Fiction Book Club with Kate Elliott. I was very bummed when deadlines and travel forced us to call it quits. Here’s hoping we can get it started again some time in 2015.

I plan to blog even more next year. Er, tomorrow. Blogging, I love you no matter out of fashion you are. *hugs blogging*

Writing Plans for 2015

Well, obviously, there’ll be more rewrites and copyedits and etc for the new novel.

Then I plan to finish one of the novels that came out of nowhere. After that, well, who knows? Will I finally get back to the New York Depression-era novel(s)? The snow-boarding werewolves? The fairy godmother middle grade? Or one of the many other novels I’ve been working on for ages? Or something else that comes out of nowhere? Given that my last three novels came out of nowhere that would be the safest bet.

All of this writing is possible because I’m still managing my RSI as I described here. I’m continuing to be able to write as much as six hours a day. The few times I’ve written longer than that I have paid for it. It’s good to know my limits.

Travel in 2014

I was in the US briefly in June and then again in Sept-Nov, accompanying Scott on his Afterworlds tour. It felt like we went everywhere. Both coasts! Or all three if you count Texas as the third coast. Also Canada. It went fabulously well. Scott’s fans turned out in great numbers and many book sold and I met heaps of wonderful librarians and booksellers and readers and writers and some of them had already read Razorhurst thanks to my wonderful publicist at Soho Press, Meredith Barnes. It will be fun to go out on the road again in March.

Reading and Watching in 2014

My favourite new writers are Brandy Colbert and Courtney Summers, who both write realist contemporary YA, which I’ve gotta be honest is not my thing. That’s why I read a tonne of it this year: to learn and to grow. Both Colbert and Summers are dark and uncompromising almost bleak writers. Their books made me weep buckets. But there’s heart and hope in their novels too. I’m really looking forward to more from both of them. Courtney’s next book, All the Rage, will be out in early 2015.

I also read heaps of non-fiction this year. A Chosen Exile by Allyson Hobbs is a wonderful history of passing in the USA, which centres those who chose not to pass as much as those who did, and looks closely at the reason for deciding either way and how they changed over time. African-American family life is at the centre of this excellent history.

One of my fave new TV shows is Faking It because it’s silly and funny and kind of reminds me of my high school days at an alternative school though, you know, more scripted. I also love Cara Fi created and written by a dear friend, Sarah Dollard, who is a mighty talent. It’s set in Wales and is sweet and funny and feminist and touching and you should all watch it.

2014 was awful but there’s always hope

Although 2014 was a wonderful year for me professionally it was an awful year in both of my home countries, Australia and the USA, and in way too many other parts of the world. I would love to say that I’m full of hope for change in the future. I try to be. The movement that has grown out of the protests in Ferguson is inspiring and should fill us all with optimism. But then it happens all over again.

In Australia we have a government actively undoing what little progress had been made on climate change and stripping money from all the important institutions such as the ABC, CSIRO and SBS. This is the most anti-science, anti-culture and, well, anti-people government we’ve ever had. The already disgraceful policy on asylum seekers has gotten even worse and Aboriginal Australians continue to die in custody.

Argh. Make it stop!

May you have a wonderful 2014 full of whatever you love best and may the world become less unjust. Speaking out and creating art that truly reflects the world we live in goes part of the way to doing that. At least that’s what I hope.

  1. Yes, here in Sydney it is the 31st of December. I’m sorry that you live in the past.
  2. Yes, I had a co-edited anthology and a co-written novel in those five years but you would be amazed by how many people do not count collaborations as being a real novel by an author. I don’t get it either.
  3. If you’re from the US think Printz or National Book Award only plus money. That’s right in Australia if you win a literary award they give you money. Bizarre, I know.

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9. Accompanying Scott on his tour of the USA

I’ve not been blogging much because I’m accompanying Scott on his Afterworlds tour. So far we’ve been to Raleigh, Lexington, Louisville, Philadelphia, Washington DC, St Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee. And there’s much more to come. Check out the rest of the tour here. I’d be delighted to sign anything you want signed but mostly I’m just happy to say hi and chat.

We’ve had many adventures so far including staying in what I swear was a haunted hotel. Uncannily cold temperatures? Check. Eerie cold winds that came rushing out of the elevators/lifts? Check. Strange rustling sounds in the hotel room in the middle of the night? Check.

If you haven’t read Afterworlds yet you should. It’s definitely Scott’s best book so far.

Hope to see some of you soon!

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10. The strange things children’s writers do – Lari Don

Yesterday, I helped dress a dragon in a car park.

The dragonmobile, at Pirniehall Primary in Edinburgh

But it’s not the strangest thing I’ve done as a children’s writer.

I've recce'd a castle, going in undercover as a tourist, to discover the best way to steal their most famous artefact.

I've interviewed a vet about how to heal a fairy’s dislocated wing, and a boat builder about how to fit a centaur on a rowing boat.

I've lost half a dozen journalists in a maze. (I guided them out again eventually. Most of them.)

I've told Celtic legends on an iron age hillfort, fairytales in an inner city woodland, and Viking myths in a cave.

And all of these things have been an integral part of my job as a children’s writer. Because writing is not just sitting at a keyboard and tapping out chapters.

The research (chatting to vets about fairy injuries and sneaking about castles) is often as much fun as the writing. And the promotion (dragon dressing and outdoor storytelling) is almost as important as the sitting at my desk imagining.

I suspect that as a children’s writer, you have to be just as imaginative in your research methods and your promotion ideas as you do in your cliffhangers and your characterisations.

But I can’t take credit for the dragon in the carpark. I did create a shiny friendly blue dragon, as one of the main characters in my Fabled Beast series. However, I had moved onto creating other characters in other stories, when my publishers decided to give the Fabled Beasts Chronicles new covers, and announced that they were going to promote the covers with a dragonflight tour.

Then the very talented marketing executive at Floris Books designed a dragon costume for her own car. And she’ll be spending most of the next fortnight driving me round beautiful bits of Scotland and the north of England (yesterday Edinburgh, today Perth, then Aberdeenshire and Penrith, as we get more confident and stretch our wings!) in a car which we dress up as a dragon in the carpark of various primary schools, then invite the children out to ooh and aah at our shiny blue dragon and her shimmering flames, before I go inside to chat with the pupils about cliff-hangers and quests.

So, this week, I’ve already learnt how to put a dragon’s jaws on at speed. And I’ve discovered that if the engine hasn’t cooled down yet, those flames coming down from the bonnet are actually warm!
Very brave Forthview Primary pupils sitting on dragon's flames!

So, yes, I do strange things. But I have fun! And I hope that my enjoyment comes across in my books, and in my author events.

I don’t think the adventures I create would be nearly as interesting without the odd conversations I have while I’m researching them, or the weird things I do to promote them.

So – what do you think? Should I just be sensible and stay indoors writing? Or is a little bit of weird now and then an effective way to make books, reading and writing more exciting for children?

Lari Don is the award-winning author of 22 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers. 

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11. Darlene Beck-Jacobson – Book Give-a-Way

darlenepicnewDarlene’s Debut Historical Novel WHEELS OF CHANGE launches on September 22nd. I am only too glad to be part of Darlene’s Blog Tour.

Darlene gave me an advanced copy and I loved the book. It is a middle grade book, so YA readers don’t expect to find steamy and edgy. What you do find is a well-written book that everyone will enjoy. I like that she based it on some real life events that happened in her Grandmother’s life.

We are very lucky. Darlene has agreed to give one lucky visitor a copy of her book. All you have to do is leave a comment below to have a chance to win. Want to up your chance? Then twitter about it, post on facebook, or another social media site, and let me know. I will add your name on a piece of paper for each thing you do. On September 18th, I will announce the winner and have Darlene mail out your copy. Please note: Darlene will pay for US shipping and any other reasonable shipping, but she may have to refuse shipping to every country around the world.

Three Fun Facts About Darlene:

  1. Even though I can’t swim, I snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia thanks to a life jacket and swim ring. It was magnificent…and scary. Without the swim ring there was NOTHING to hold onto.
  2. I like trying new food and have enjoyed the following:
  • Frog legs (tastes like chicken wings) and Escargo (garlicky and melts in the mouth) in Paris.
  • Ostrich (like filet mignon) in Lambertville, NJ
  • Crocodile (chewy and fishy, like clams) and Kangaroo (like ground beef only better) Both in Australia
  • Buffalo (leaner and more tender than beef) in Western Canada
  • Passion Fruit (sweet and delicious) in Hawaii
  • Conch (heavenly) Florida keys
  • Panga Fish (BEST fish I’ve ever eaten, bar none) in Vollendam, Netherlands

Food you couldn’t pay me to eat again: Poi (wallpaper paste tastes better) and Vegemite (way too salty)

  1. I love learning new things and have taken classes in:
  • Flint napping
  • Navaho rug weaving
  • Origami
  • Crazy quilting
  • Pisanki (Polish egg decorating)

Three Fun Facts About Darlene’s Grandmother – the real Emily Soper:

  1. She was a debutante in Washington DC Society and travelled in the same social circles as Alice Roosevelt.
  2. She lost her standing in society when she married my grandfather for love instead marrying for money and status.
  3. She was 4 feet 11 inches tall.

Filed under: Author, Book Tour Tagged: Blog Tour, book give-a-way, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Wheels of Change

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12. Free Fall Friday – Holly McGhee/Hallie Durand

Holly November 2013

A new book titled, CATCH THE COOKIE has hit the bookshelves written by Hallie Durand, a.k.a. Agent Holly McGhee and illustrated by David Small. I have the book and can truthfully say it is a very fun picture book. I scanned in a few interior shots and Holly sent a picture of the real Marshall to add to the interview questions. I also added a quick blurb to whet your appetite:

Marshall knows one thing for sure, despite what all the stories say: Gingerbread men cannot run. Cookies are for eating, and he can’t wait to eat his after spending all morning baking them with his class. But when it’s time to take the gingerbread men out of the oven . . . they’re gone! Now, to find those rogue cookies, Marshall and his class have to solve a series of rhyming clues. And Marshall just might have to rethink his stance on magic. Catch That Cookie! is an imaginative mystery, deliciously illustrated by Caldecott Medal winner David Small. It’s sure to inspire a new classroom tradition . . . and maybe even a few new believers!

I wanted to know more about the book and Holly, so below is the interview I had with her. If you want to read more about David Small and read about the process of creating the book cover for CATCH THE COOKIE, he was featured this past Saturday on Illustrator Saturday - definitely worth reading. Here’s Hallie/Holly:

Most people know you as Holly McGhee. Why did you decide to write under another name?

A: On that first submission especially, I needed to know whether my writing could speak for itself, in no way connected to me as an agent—could I get published just because an editor and publisher believed in my work? I’ve kept with a pen name to separate my writing from agenting, though at this point it’s not a secret that I’m Holly McGhee & Hallie Durand.

When did you start writing your latest book, Catch That Cookie!? 

A: I started Catch That Cookie! in earnest over the Christmas holidays of 2011. My son Marshall had been a preschool student of Mrs. Gray’s (the teacher in my book) in the fall of 2009, and he had gone on a gingerbread hunt at school. He’d come home with a recipe for gingerbread men, and he was obsessed with making the cookies. He kept nagging me, and so I finally borrowed the cookie cutters from Mrs. Gray and we made them for our class picnic in June of 2010, in ninety-degree heat. We put them in the van to bring to the picnic, and then Marshall started locking the van doors. I realized he thought the cookies would escape, ha ha ha ha! I knew there was a story there, and I wanted to know what Mrs. Gray had done in class to make Marshall believe those G-men could escape. So I interviewed Mrs. Gray and that inspired my picture book.

Marsh with his G-Man August 2014

How did it find a home at Dial?

A: When I finally had a draft that I liked, I shared it with my agent, Elena Giovinazzo, who sent it out to editors. Lauri Hornik and Kate Harrison at Dial made an offer.

Catch That Cookie!, with ribbon

Were you the one who chose David Small to illustrate the book?

A: No, that was my editor, Kate Harrison, and the art director Lily Malcom. I couldn’t be happier about the choice—not only is David my client but he is one of my very close friends. (I was nervous he would turn it down though, and thrilled that he liked it—he’s picky!)


How long did it take David to do the illustrations?

A: He started early in 2013 and finished that fall. I sent him a picture of Mrs. Gray to inspire him and also pictures of Marshall, Avery, and Henry, who all appear in the book (they were Marshall’s classmates).

Do you plan any book signings or other marketing things now that the book is sold?

A: Yes, David and I are doing a little mini tour to celebrate both the book and our friendship. I am going out to Kalamazoo, Michigan on September 10 and we are doing one appearance for adults at the Kalamazoo Library and one for kids at the Book Bug, and then he’s coming back with me to Maplewood, NJ. We’ll have a big gingerbread hunt with Mrs. Gray at the Maplewood Library on September 13, and an event for writers and artists (together with Anna Kang and Chris Weyant of You Are (Not) Small and Richard Morris of This Is a Moose) on the 14th. We’re going to talk about collaboration. Then we’ll have an appearance at our local bookstore on the 15th as well as a private event for the preschool four year olds (all at Words, Maplewood). David will share some of his drawing secrets. I’ll have more details for you soon.

When did you write your first book and what was the title?

A: In 2007 I wrote my first chapter book / novel, Dessert First, and I wrote two more books in that series. Dessert First was published in 2009, Just Desserts in 2010, and No Room for Dessert in 2011, all illustrated by the amazing French artist Christine Davenier.


Were you an editor at that time?

A: Nope, I had been an agent for nine years already (though I’ve never stopped being an editor really—as an agent I’m often the first set of eyes on a manuscript, helping polish it enough to be acquired).

How did the idea come to you?

A: It started at a dinner with one of my best friends at the River Run Café in NYC. We ordered dessert to share, and as always I angled the plate so that the best part of the dessert “happened” to be directly in front of me. My friend had had enough of my bad behavior and she said, “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS TAKE THE BEST PART OF THE DESSERT?” And I, with nowhere to hide, said, “Because I thought I was getting away with it.” That honesty marked a turning point in our friendship. A few years later, we were sharing a slice of Iced Lemon Cake at lunch, reminiscing about our fateful evening at the River Run. And that very evening, on NJ Transit, Dessert Schneider barged into my life and wouldn’t be quiet till I wrote her story. I’d never experienced anything like that—she was really bossy!

How did that book get published?

A: It was multiply submitted, under my pen name, and was acquired in a two-book deal.


It looks like most of your books have a food element. Is that because you like to bake?

A: Funny you bring this up, because it hasn’t been intentional. Food has been a continuing thread throughout my life, and as a kid I always went grocery shopping with my dad (we still like to go together when we can); we like to see what new products there are on the shelves and what’s on sale. I was the New York State 4-H Bread champion (not kidding!) as a seventeen year old—baking bread was something to do in an otherwise pretty boring summer in farm country, so I went for it, baking bread every day for the entire two months that school was out. Cooking and baking are relaxing for me like nothing else, and when I’m not writing, I’m usually in the kitchen. I even like chopping leeks, just as thin as I can get them without slicing off my thumb in the process . . .

Headless G-Man

Do you feel that writing your own books helps you relate better with your writer clients?

A: I think my writers and artists appreciate that I understand what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling in a way that you only know if you are a writer or artist yourself. We talk . . . a lot.

cookie riser

When I heard David Small and Kate DiCamillo speak at SCBWI conferences, it sounded like you were not only a great agent, but a great critique partner for them.

Over the years, there’s a trust that builds, and with David and Kate and most of my clients, I’m a gatekeeper; they can share work with me before anybody else sees it, and they know that if I’m willing to share it with the world, I believe in it.


Why did you decide to leave HarperCollins to open a literary agency?

A: I’d been an executive editor for six years, and I had developed my own taste in books. I’d begun to believe that if I loved reading a book, maybe somebody else in the world would too. And so I was ready to set out of my own after a time, especially when some of the projects I tried to acquire were rejected by an acquisitions board. I wanted to succeed or fail based on my own taste.

What was your biggest success as a literary agent?

A: Biggest successes can run the gamut. There are the seven-figure deals with film rights and foreign licenses sold simultaneously, and there are the original books by new authors that become franchises, with television and live-stage deals coming along the way. But there are also the smaller deals that come with huge personal satisfaction, such as bringing a beloved book back into print decades after first publication, or placing that book I’ve always believed in, months after first submission. I think the biggest fun is finding an editor who loves a book, acquires it, and publishes it well, whether it’s snapped up in a pre-empt an hour after submission or acquired after months of waiting. They all matter.

On top of that, the feeling of comraderie I have with my colleagues is one I cherish–we root for each other and have a fabulous time together. That matters too.

Hallie, catching a cookie NYC August 2014

Do you have any words of wisdom for writers from an author’s point–of-view?

~Be discerning but don’t be precious about your work.

~Take your work as far as you can on your own before showing it; your agent only gets a first read once.

~Let your work speak for itself—no need to tell your agent how much your neighbors and other writer friends love it first; that can set unrealistic expectations before that first read.

~Go to your laptop or drawing board every day. It’s easier to stay with the story you’re trying to write or illustrate than it is to reintroduce yourself after an absence.

~Think about a problem you are having with your book right before you go to sleep, and keep a pencil and notepad by your bedside table; you might get an answer during the night or first thing in the morning (it happens!).

~Don’t worry about how many books you have published / are publishing; Robert McCloskey did seven in his lifetime.

~Don’t get obsessed with Amazon rankings, etc. The secret is that a bad ranking will make you feel worse and a good ranking or review won’t make you feel much better.

~As long as you can say to yourself, when you’re looking back at your work, I did the best I was capable of at that time in my life, you’ll be a bit more impervious to negative comments. But make sure you can say that before your book goes out into the world.

Would you answer differently with your agent’s hat on?

A: No, but some of these things I only know from being a writer, inside information J.

Holly, thanks for answering the interview questions. I will remind people when they might be able to see you in September. It was such great fun to share the picture of your son with everyone. It looks like David really captured his looks and personality.

Best of Luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,


PS: Remember to check back next Friday to read the four first pages critiqued by Holly.

Filed under: Advice, Agent, Book Tour, Editor & Agent Info, Interview, Picture Book Tagged: Agent Holly McGhee, Author Hallie Durand, Catch the Cookie, Illustrator David Small

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13. Professional Writer Checklist and The Plumb Crazy Book Tour

Howdy, folks! Summertime, and I'm off to watch the Houston Astros take down the Toronto Blue Jays. This is one of those high stakes, nation vs. nation games.

I'm still  celebrating the book tour. I'm running a giveaway with my book tour, and I hope that you will consider entering. It's in the sidebar. Win a signed copy of the book and $100 gift certificate to Cavender's.

I offer the professional writer checklist.  Lots of people want to be professional writers. I'm going to hand out the game plan. Here are ten steps to professional writer .

1. Write every day.  Yes, professional writers must write. (I usually write 2- 4 hours a day, five days a week.)
2. Create an office.  Professionals have offices
3. Take all paying gigs. This one comes with a commandment. Thou shalt not sneer at any paying gig  like menus, tweets, content farms, technical manuals, wfh, basal readers, etc.." Anyone who looks down on this stuff is not a professional, he or she is a hobbyist.
4. Make specific, achievable long term and short term goals.
5. Network with your peers regularly. (Critique groups, conferences, professional organizations, etc.)
6. Join the social media circus. (website, Facebook, Twitter, bloggers, tumblr, etc...)
7. Keep accurate financial records.
8. Buy some business cards.
9. Invest in a printer that can spit mega pages in a short period of time. (Weird, but needed.)
10. Profess you are a professional writer to anyone who asks. (Never belittle yourself, not in self talk, not to others.)

Ta-da, you are a professional writer.  The doodle and quote are at the end.

Here is the tour schedule!
July 28
Elva'a Profile! -- Shooting Stars Reviews - http://ow.ly/zSd3d 

July 29:
The PLUMB CRAZY playlist -- Victoria Simcox's Blog  - http://ow.ly/zSdHS  
You can listen to it on Youtube-- http://ow.ly/zSdHS!
Author Interview! -- Kelly P's Blog -  http://ow.ly/zSeo9 -

July 30:
Mitch's Profile! -- Book Club Sisters - http://ow.ly/zSf99
Review! Books, books, and more books - http://ow.ly/zSfEZ  

July 31:
Author Interviews Mitch! - The Written Adventure - http://ow.ly/zSfS2 

August 1:
Author's Writing Journey! - My Writers' Connection - http://ow.ly/zSg7q  
The Plumb Crazy Dream Cast! -The Avid Reader - http://ow.ly/zSgpj
Mitch wins Book Boyfriend of the Week! -  Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://ow.ly/zShqN  

August 4:
Review- kimberlyfaye reads - http://kimberlyfayereads.com 

August 5:
Book Boyfriend Reviews - http://www.bookboyfriendreview.blogspot.com – Review
My Love for Reading Keeps Growing - http://readingisoneofmypassions.blogspot.com/ 

August 6:
My Devotional Thoughts - http://mydevotionalthoughts.net – Review
books are love – www.hello-booklover.tumblr.com - Review

August 7:
Flirting With Fiction - www.flirtyfiction.net - Review
Plain Talk Book Marketing - http://www.plaintalkbm.com

August 8:
Little Whimsy Books - http://littlewhimsybooks.tk - Review

Here is a doodle!  "Roses"

And a quote for your pocket:
A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it. Alistair Cooke

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14. Books – Events: Ettlinger – Ventressca – S.E. Green

Below are three books that I think you might be interested in knowing about. All three are giving-a-way a signed copy. Anyone who leaves a comment is automatically entered. You will get an additional entry for each or the following: Blog, reblog, tweet, or talk about it on facebook. Deadline: May 22nd, 2014.

s is for Sea glassCover600

Poet Richard Michelson and illustrator Doris Ettlinger remind beach lovers of all ages of the many reasons we’re drawn to the shore in this picture book published by Sleep Bear Press.

The tickle of sand on the bottom of bare feet … the taste of salt from a spray of water … the rumble-roar as waves come ashore. These are just a few of the many sensory experiences a day at the beach can bring. S is for Sea Glass: A Beach Alphabet uses a variety of poetry forms such as free verse, haiku, and ode in this celebration of the beach and seaside life.


If you can’t visit one of the book events, you can purchase an autographed book here to read at the beach or when you wish you were at the beach.  It would also make a great gift for that friend with the beach house you love to visit.

It is normal for high school to be a painful and confusing time, but Liliana’s circumstances are anything but normal. Only a few people know what caused her sudden change from model student to the withdrawn, doomsayer, but her situation isn’t about to get any better. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Liliana’s worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak—her father in D.C. covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey—Liliana’s town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread illness and fatal disaster. With friends and neighbors dying all around her, Liliana does everything she can just to survive. But as the disease rages on, so does an unexpected tension as Liliana is torn between an old ex and a new romantic interest.

Yvonne Ventresca debut YA novel, PANDEMIC published by Sky Pony Press is out and getting good reviews:

“This is an engrossing apocalyptic story, told through Lil’s eyes and newsfeeds as her neighborhood, then the East Coast, and finally the entire U.S. buckles to its knees as the pandemic spreads. . . . Themes of friendship and coming together in a crisis carry the novel.” —School Library Journal


You’re invited to join Yvonne in celebrating the release of her debut young adult novel, Pandemic. There will be wine and cheese, cake, and some giveaways. Yvonne will be reading a passage from her new book and signing copies. For more information about the book, please visit www.YvonneVentresca.com

Don’t miss the party!

Killer Instinct

S.E. Green’s debut YA thriller has hit the market this week. Kirkus Reviews writes, “A zippy, gripping psychological drama.”

Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. After-school job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick.

Why? Because she might be one herself.

Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals and delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder, but with each visceral rush, the line of self-control blurs. And when a young preschool teacher goes missing—and returns in pieces—Lane gets a little too excited about tracking down “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer who has come to her hometown.

As she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her own past, Lane realizes she is no longer invisible or safe. Especially after the Decapitator contacts her directly. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim…

S. E. Green was raised in Tennessee, but now calls North Florida home. KILLER INSTINCT is her debut young adult thriller. Find her on the web at http://www.segreen.net, on Twitter @Shan_E_Green, Tumblr under segreenauthor, or on her Facebook Fan Page. Here are some answers to questions that you might have.

Q: How old were you when you started writing?

A: Late twenties. I didn’t even know I wanted to be a writer. Go figure.

Q: How did you pitch this book?

A: A teen girl version of Dexter meets the high stakes danger and mystery of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Q: Who published this book?

A: My agent Jenny Bent placed it with Simon Pulse.

Q: Why do you write under two names?

A: S. E. Green is the dark, thriller side of me. Shannon Greenland is the romantic, adventurous side.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: The second book of this YA thriller series.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Book, Book Tour, Interview, Picture Book, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Doris Ettlinger, Jenny Bent, S.E. Green, Yvonne Ventresca

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15. I Started a Small Press (and Then Things Got Weird)


The author in repose.


I tried retail for a while, and that was fun, in the way that puking on yourself at a family gathering is fun: you have a story. After a time, though, it stops being a story you laugh at and starts being one that you cry over. Usually into a beer. Next came moving furniture. For a time, that was good, physical work. I genuinely enjoyed it. And the stories I heard there, man, the meat of my second novel is mostly that. My imagination’s not that good. But then here comes nature and that heavy time and all of a sudden my back is in ruins and I got sick of carrying marble armoires up three flights of stairs. Then came restaurant work. That was fun.

Through all of this, I wrote. My first novel dropped in that weird interim before I started the moving job, when I was living in my car. The second hit and I was getting these royalty checks, but aside from the first one (which paid my rent), it wasn’t paying my rent. It hit me: “I’ve gotta find a way to make a living off of words or I’m going to die.”

I’ve been a fan of crime fiction since before I can remember. It started with Ellroy. I read White Jazz and threw my hands up and hollered. You can say this much with so little? I was hooked. I got the classics in, then I got voracious with it: Mosely, Sallis, Willeford, Pelecanos, Westlake, Parker, on and on.

I loved the opportunity crime fiction presented to peer into the human condition, and the (usually) clipped, no-bullshit delivery. What I didn’t like were the formulas, the staunch sexism, the rampant racism. I really wanted to carve something out that could represent everything that makes crime fiction beautiful, minus the stuff that made me cringe. That, and I didn’t want to sell hot dogs anymore.

I gathered a nice group of brilliant writers, who for whatever reason decided to hook me up with some manuscripts. I started a Kickstarter (pause for groans) in which I detailed five books my new indie press would put out, and—wonder of wonders—people thought it looked cool. I got the money and I was off to the races.

Sort of.

The books were edited and designed and off to the printers. They dropped, and then there I was. Floating.

There were many times I’d go out to my porch and smoke a cigarette and my house would shake as the trains rolled by out across the road, and I’d wonder what I could do to actually get people to look at these titles, to pick them up. I’d gotten a massively talented artist (Matthew Revert

) to do all of the covers for them, and they really popped. I’d sent out some review copies to places I thought would dig them.

Still waiting to hear back from most of those places.

I got tired of sitting on my hands. I took the books and grabbed a friend and hit the road. We went from Oklahoma to Wichita to Denver to Salt Lake City to Boise to Seattle to Portland to Sacramento out to the Bay to Los Angeles to El Paso. We performed in punk squats and abandoned warehouses and bookstores and back alleys. At one performance we lit a mannequin head on fire while I paced the floor with paint on my feet, tracing a chalk outline of an eye, rambling about a cyclops. At another I read the audience the end of my first novel and ripped out each page and burned it as I went. Though I didn’t sell copies at every stop, I talked to as many people as I could about the books. And I noticed an uptick. We live in an age of social media noise and rampant void screaming. There’s only one way to get things going, especially if you live in Oklahoma: you have to get out there and talk to people.

You have to ask them to dance.

There are other things you have to remember, too. Running a small press, it’s important to utilize social media, despite my prior assertion that it’s a dying medium. You have to be a person online, first. I see folks every day, inviting me to their “book releases,” which are really just Amazon launches of e-books. That’s annoying. You’re more likely to see me posting pictures of my dog, or complaining about how I could really go for a cigarette (quitting is tough, but, hey! nine days) than you are to see me talking about the books or writing or editing. The first reason is that places like Facebook and my blog are my escapes. The second is that you just turn into a spambot and fade into the background, and good luck swimming out of that lagoon.

Another thing: finances. Be careful. Keep your receipts. Where I live, there are crazy tax breaks for small businesses. Make sure you know exactly what you owe your authors. If you don’t pay them right, everyone will know, and you will be ostracized. And rightly so.

On the topic of writers: they are, for the most part, a funny bunch. They care about this stuff. So they’ll have things to fix, last-minute requests, bizarre neuroses. You have to learn to bend, to understand that your voice is not the voice. And if they want changes, you make them. Mark Twain once said that a novel is never finished, only abandoned, and I think that’s true, but Broken River authors abandon their children with a packed lunch (complete with smiley face note written on napkin), surplus army jacket, mace, a Swiss Army knife, and one of those flashlights you put on your head. And a ‘mommy loves you’ and a peck on the cheek. God love them for that. They care. And you have to, as well. If you don’t, well … you know.

I’m not a father so I don’t really know what I’m talking about here, but I’m assuming there’s a feeling you get when you hold a baby for the first time. Does it get real? I figure it gets real, then. When you spend months and months eating tuna from a can and pecking at a keyboard and making sure the kerning and keeping and hyphens and headers look right in InDesign, and then you send it to a printer and they send you copies and they are physical, real objects, resting there, looking up at you, you can almost see these big blue cartoon eyes, these helpless things that need you. So, you start to feel an obligation.

When you start a small press, you lack resources, usually. And that should make you hungry. You need to provide for these babies. Your authors, they spent years writing these things, invested their lives into them. Now here they are. Your responsibility. You’ll want to quit, lord I know you will, because the whole thing is so big, like pressing your body up against the edge of everything. But you have to get out there, you have to keep your mind right, and you have to make people sit up and take notice. You didn’t pull a sword out of a stone; no one ordained you the Chosen One. You chose you. It’s your responsibility. So go do it. If you love something, take that big Christmas dinner in your heart and break it down into MREs and dish it out to every person you meet, in small, manageable doses. They’ll feel it. They’ll know you’re down.

And then, you ask them to dance.



J David Osborne lives in Oklahoma with his wife and dog. He’s the author of two novels, a freelance editor and the editor-in-chief of Broken River Books. Please query at jdavidosborne@gmail.com.

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16. Visiting Publishers

A writing friend told me that she once scored a book deal after touring a publishing house and being told by her tour guide what the publisher was looking for in children’s books. I doubt this happens much since most book publishers are in New York and not all of them give tours, but any opportunity a writer has to network with publishers can’t hurt.

I was fortunate to be able to visit one of my publishers, Royal Fireworks Press, in New York this summer. The press had purchased and published three of my books after discovering my work in the slush pile. (Submissions that come to a publisher without the aid of  an agent or any special contact are said to “go through the slush pile.”) After I’d sold each book, I spoke with the staff over the telephone and through e-mails, but until this summer, I had never met any of the staff in person. Tom Kemnitz, the president of the company, spoke with me in his office for about an hour and gave me a tour of the plant, showing me the book publishing process.

Tom Kemnitz and Ronica Stromberg at Royal Fireworks Press in New York.

It  Tom Kemnitz and Ronica Stromberg at Royal Fireworks Press, the publisher of her books A Shadow in the Dark, Living It Up to Live It Down, and The Glass Inheritance.

I enjoyed seeing the inner workings of a small press and having the chance to speak about the market for my own books. And Tom did give me some good tips, one of which would be helpful to anyone considering submitting to this publisher:  Royal Fireworks Press is no longer publishing much science fiction. The press primarily publishes nonfiction, but in the fiction line, the acquisitions team is mainly seeking historical fiction.









































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17. Tour Schedule Fall 2013

Happy back-to-school season! I'm gearing up for a very exciting fall, where I'll be visiting with students and educators in seventeen states. Whenever I can, I hold public events during my travels. Below is where you can find me in the next few months. Perhaps I'll see you there?

September 5, 5 PM- Slidell, LA- St. Tammany Parish Library- Slidell Branch Library

September 22, Brooklyn, NY- Brooklyn Book Festival

October 5, 10 AM- Chapel Hill, NC- University of North Carolina Steinfirst Lecture

October 11, 6:30 PM- Providence, RI- RISD's Entrepreneur Mindshare Keynote

October 12, 2 PM- Providence, RI- RISD READS Children's Book Reading and Signing

October 19, 9 AM- Providence, RI- Rhode Island Festival of Children's Books and Authors

October 23, 12 PM- Green Bay, WI- Wisconsin Library Association Author Luncheon Series

November 2, 8:30PM - 12:30 PM- Chestnut Hill, MA - The Foundation for Children's Books 

November 10, 10 AM- Storrs, CT- Connecticut Children's Book Fair

November 17, 9 AM- Hartford, CT- Rising to the Challenge- American Association of School Libraries Author Breakfast

November 21, 4:30 PM- Boston, MA- National Counsel of Teachers of English Conference:
Elementary Section Get-Together

November 22, Boston, MA- National Counsel of Teachers of English Conference: 12-1 Platypus Police Squad signing at HarperCollins Children's Books, 1-2 signing Lunch Lady at Random House Children's Books

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18. Interview with Debut Author Tori Corn

toricropped290I met Tori years ago at one of the first events I put on as Regional Advisor of the New Jersey Chapter of the SCBWI. I got to see the effort that Tori put into her books and making sure her work was seen by editors and agents.  She is represented by the Liza Royce Agency and was one of their first clients.

Tori’s interest in children’s books began when her daughter was born. She fell in love with picture books after spending countless hours at the library reading to her daughter. By the time her sons were born, she was inspired to write her own stories and quickly became hooked on writing. She also studied picture book illustration at the School of Visual Arts. Tori joined New Jersey SCBWI and attended writing conferences where she learned the ins and outs of the publishing industry.  Writing and illustrating children’s books became an unexpected, exciting second career for her. She has expanded her writing for children of all ages and is currently working on a historical fiction novel.

PenelopeHer debut picture book, What Will It Be, Penelope? hits the book shelves on June 4th.

You can meet Tori Corn (author)and Dannielle Ceccolini (illustrator) at The Corner Bookstore tonight to celebrate the publication of What Will It Be, Penelope?

Wednesday, May 22nd – 6:00 p.m.

RSVP: (212) 831-3554 or cornerbook@aol.com

Here are a few questions I asked Tori that I thought you might be interested in reading:

Can you tell us about your journey with What Will It Be, Penelope?

Watching children try and decide what flavor ice cream they wanted is what inspired me to write the story. Sometimes my youngest son would hold up the line at the Mr. Softee ice cream truck! Of course there’s a bit of me in the story. I’ve been known to take forever to decide something silly like which soap to buy at Target! Penelope was the first picture book I wrote that wasn’t written in rhyme. I’m embarrassed to tell you how many versions there are!

How long ago did you write What’s Will It Be, Penelope?

It’s hard to say. I wrote the first version about seven years ago but I put it aside and didn’t look at it for years. It was way too long, around 850 words, which is a common mistake for picture book writers who are just learning their craft.  It took me a while to figure out how to tell a story in only 500 to 600 words.

Did you do revisions? 

Did I do revisions? All I did was revisions! And once I sold the manuscript, I still had to do more revisions!

What did it feel like to sign that first contract? 

It was a really special day for me, especially since I’d been envisioning the moment for such a long time.

Can you tell us a little bit about Sky Pony Press? 

Sky Pony is a wonderful publisher.(I’m not biased.) Launched in fall of 2011, it’s the children’s book imprint of Skyhorse Publishing. Their list includes picture books, middle grade, young adult, educational books and reissues of some well-loved classics. Since their first list in Fall 2011, Sky Pony now has over 100 books in print. I feel so blessed to have Penelope on that list. Next year, I’ll have another picture book called Dixie Wants an Allergy on the list too. What I love about Sky Pony is that they make decisions quickly and are capable of producing their books in record time. I signed my contract in Jan 2012 and I was holding a copy of my book in my hands in May 2013! Amazing.

Did you have any input into choosing the illustrator?

No I didn’t, but I’m glad that Sky Pony chose Danielle Ceccolini to do the illustrations for What Will It Be Penelope?  In general, the publisher chooses the illustrator, not the author.

Do you ever think you will try your hand in illustrating one of your books? 

Yes! I was an art major at SyracuseUniversity. I love to draw and paint!  As a matter of fact, I illustrated the cover for my website. You can probably tell by looking at it that I was a textile designer because of the textures and the prints on my character’s clothing.

I took picture book illustration classes at The School of visual Arts and began working on a book dummy for my picture book called Sometimes I Wake in the Middle of the Night. Hopefully I’ll finish illustrating it someday. And you never know, maybe I’ll write and illustrate a story about the mice on my website! www.toricorn.com

Do you have any other books on the horizon?

I’ve written eight picture books and I’m currently working on a historical fiction novel.

What types of things have you done to help get prepared for your book launch? 

Well, for one thing, I had a website developed.  I’ve also purchased some cute Penelope giveaways to give to kids after I’ve read my book during school visits. I’m hoping the children will go home and ask their parents to buy my book and these items will help them remember the name of my book!

Do you have any words of wisdom to share that would help unpublished writers? 

The most important advice I can give writers is to be thoughtful when deciding who to send their manuscripts to. This cuts down on the amount of (and type of ) reject letters you get. For instance, I only sent my manuscripts to editors and agents that I met at SCBWI conferences and I didn’t send them to everyone, only those whom I felt were seriously interested in my stories. That way, I only received encouraging reject letters! Most of them had excellent editorial comments so instead of feeling bad, I actually felt  inspired to work harder to improve my manuscript.

My second piece of advice is for writers to envision their books getting published. That’s really important. Someone once told me to “Stay on the road and keep looking forward” which is what I did. I think it’s also important to join a writing group so you can have your manuscripts critiqued often and learn what other authors are doing right and wrong.   And remember, if a few people are saying the same thing, you should listen. That said, always stay true to yourself.

Thank you Tori for sharing your experience with us. Best of luck with the book. Stop by www.toricorn.com to see Tori’s new website.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Book Tour, inspiration, Interview, Picture Book Tagged: Danielle Ceccolini, Liza Royce Literary Agency, Tori Corn, What Will It Be Penelope?

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A message from Claudia D. Hernandez

Dear Friends,

I am launching my very first Indiegogo effort to fund my latest project: TODAY'S REVOLUTIONARY WOMEN OF COLOR Book and Photography Exhibit

I NEED YOUR SUPPORT to cover costs such as book editor, art designer, exhibit costs and book publication which will be given as a GIFT to every young girl who attends the exhibit

The deadline to back this project is December 9th!
The date and the location of the exhibit is pending. Most likely, it will be next year, mid year.Please, watch my video and then click on the pink button that says "Contribute now" and donate $1

Share the video with your friends and family to help spread the word. 
Please forward this email to your friends and organizations that you know might help. Thank you for supporting education and community through the arts!

Please visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/258398?a=1644733

The Closet of Discarded Dreams

Texas Book Tour
 Oct. 25-31, 2012

Bloguero Rudy Ch. Garcia will be visiting Texas. Come and discover the Closet of Discarded Dreams. 

River Oaks Bookstore
Friday Oct. 26, 2012 5:00 – 7:00pm
3270 Westheimer
Live on-air interview on Tony Diaz’s Nuestra Palabra –
Latino Writers Having Their Say, KPFT 90.1fm, Tue. Oct 23, 7:30pm CST
Southwest Workers Union
Sun. Oct. 28 3:00
1416 E. Commerce
The Twig Book Shop
Sun. Oct 28 5:00
@ The Pearl Brewery
Palo Alto College Guadalupe Hall #119
Tuesday Oct. 30 12:50
1400 W. Villaret Blvd.
Great Day SA interview
on daytime TV program, KENS5 in San Anto
Sun. Oct. 28 beginning at 12:00 noon.

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20. Bible Detective: A Puzzle Search Book by Peter Martin

5 stars Bible Detective: A Puzzle Search Book Peter Martin Lion Children's Books 48 Pages   Ages: 4+ .............. ……………………. Are  you a super sleuth? Have you got an eagle eye?  Back Cover:  This book is a treasure trove of fabulously detailed pictures from the world of the Bible. You’ll have hours of fun trying to [...]

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21. Opportunity! Jerry Spinelli’s Northeast Hokey Pokey Book Tour

I know so many people love Jerry and Eileen Spinelli, especially if they have met them. Below is Jerry’s schedule for his HOKEY POKEY Book Tour. You will notice Jerry and Eileen are going to be together in PA and then Jerry goes off to DC, PA, MA, and NY. If you live in any of those areas, you might even want to let the teachers you know of the opportunity. They are always e-mailing me to see if I can get Jerry to visit their school. They might like the chance to ask him in person.


Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Book Stores, Book Tour, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity Tagged: Book Tour, Eileen Spinelli, Hokey Pokey, Jake & Lily, Jerry Spinelli

4 Comments on Opportunity! Jerry Spinelli’s Northeast Hokey Pokey Book Tour, last added: 1/2/2013
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22. I Haiku You – Win A Book

With Valentine’s Day coming up next week.  I thought I would remind you of Betsy Synder’s new book, I HAIKU YOU and give you a chance to win a copy of her book.  It is simple.  Just Tweet and link to this post and leave a comment letting me know.  All names will be placed in a box and a name announced on Feb. 14th.  Random House will send the winner I HAIKU BABY directly to your address.


BETSY SNYDER_HEADSHOT_1_LOBetsy is and author and illustrator, who was featured on Illustrator Saturday December 1st.  You can click her to see her books and illustrations, but today I have asked Betsy some questions about I HAIKU YOU and the road the book has taken her down.

Back in December Betsy told us that all four of the books she has written so far have been with Random House.  She had the idea for “Haiku Baby” floating around in her head for quite a while when her agent told her of an opportunity at Random House.  She jumped on that opportunity and took the time she needed to get it on paper and sent it to an editor at Random House. She worked up some additional book ideas at the same time, which turned her first writing venture into a 3-book (now 5-book) contract with Random House.


What did you do to help launch I Haiku You when it came out on December 26th?

Books that are marketed for Valentine’s Day come out right after Christmas so stores can start promoting them right away. I shared news of the Dec. 26 book release with Twitter, Facebook and blog followers, but most people aren’t ready to think about Valentine’s Day in late December. For this reason, it worked better to time “I Haiku you” book launch events closer to Valentine’s Day. The big push has just begun for my promotion efforts and will continue through mid-February.

Did you make a plan for how to market the book before it hit the book shelves?

Yes, I worked with my publicist at Random House to determine what our joint efforts would be. One thing we decided on was a week-long blog tour in early February. My publicist helped coordinate all the blog stops and arrange a schedule for me. And since “I Haiku You” is a good book for any time of year, not JUST Valentine’s Day, we’re also planning to do another wave of promotion in April for poetry month. Stay tuned!

What types of things have you done since?

For my local book launch party, I teamed up with my friend Susan Reagan, who has a new Valentine’s book out called “Tweet Hearts” (also Random House). We held a special “Valentine Story Time” for both our books at a friend’s flower and gift shop called the Urban Orchid. We had fun crafts and sweet treats—I even made my own haiku fortune cookies as party favors! Susan and I will also be signing books together at a Cleveland-area boutique called Banyon Tree for the Tremont Art Walk this Fri., Feb. 8. And all this week I’m doing a multi-stop blog tour with all kinds of Q/A’s, guest posts and even some book giveaways—this is my second stop on the tour route!

I see you have a book trailer. How did you come up with how the trailer would be laid out?

Fortunately my husband is a motion graphics artist, so he was able to help. Jeff and I brainstormed ideas together and discussed the best approach. I chose the music and prepared the art files, and Jeff did the animation. My niece Ava even did the “Who do YOU haiku?” voice-over at the end. It was a true family effort!

What other blogs are on your book tour?





www.mrschureads.blogspot.com (Watch. Connect. Read.)


(sorry if I’m leaving anyone out, but that’s the most current list I have)

Have you set up any school visits to help promote the book?  If so, how did you start and plan this process?

I do have a school visit this May that is part of a special book event called Claire’s Day. You can read all about it at www.clairesday.org. I initially made a contact for this event while I was a presenter at an annual SCBWI conference (Northern Ohio).

Balancing time for making new books with promoting my existing titles is always a challenge, so I haven’t been able to organize more school visits yet. But that is something I would love to find more time for in the future. Connecting with kids, teachers and parents is one of the best parts of my job—I learn so much with every experience.

Do you have any stats on how the book is selling?

I’ve been having so much fun promoting the new book that I haven’t even checked yet!


Betsy, wishing you the best of luck with your new book and thanks for making it so much fun by letting me give-a-way a book.

Don’t miss out on leaving a comment and having a chance to win a copy of I Haiku You.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book Tour, Contest, opportunity, Picture Book Tagged: Betsy Snyder, Blog Book Tour, I Haiku You, Random House

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23. Kindergarten library card party -- your public library should take on this awesome program

Roseville Public Library in Minnesota holds a "graduation ceremony" for Kindergartners who are getting their first library cards. It's awesome! Impossibly cute and the kids are filled with so much pride. And of course it reinforces the privilege of having a card! I was honored to be invited out to speak at the event.  Here I am with the incredible group (minus Ann) who made it all happen!

You should totally bring such a program to your community! 

0 Comments on Kindergarten library card party -- your public library should take on this awesome program as of 2/12/2013 12:40:00 PM
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24. Traveling and Voice: Some Thoughts on Finding My Place

Speaking to the COSMO group in Columbia, MO

Speaking to the COSMO group in Columbia, MO

Today, I have a few things to share with you about Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg: a story about my recent “book tour” :) , a story from someone who bought the book, and a quick lesson on VOICE, one of the 6 + 1 traits of writing–so let’s go!

Going On a Book Tour
Last week, my good friend, who is just like a mother-in-law to me (that’s a story for another post!), Pamela Anderson from Columbia, MO invited me to stay at her house with my two-year-old and speak to her COSMO group (diabetes research) and Pachyderms (the first club ever in the U.S.) and then organized a breakfast for me of old friends–all to promote my book. My husband came, too, and the trip was a huge success! I was worried about my talk because I was used to speaking to either groups of writers, teachers, or kids; but I tied the story of taking 11 years for my book to be published (FIVE after I signed the contract) to never giving up and following your dreams. People seemed to really relate to it, even if they weren’t writers because when I finished talking, there was actually a line to buy a copy of my book! I met the most interesting and nice people–one woman was almost 90-years-old and had been researching her family on the Trail of Tears for over 30 years. Her determination and spirit made my trip. The breakfast with old friends was so great, and my two-year-old came to that–I was a little worried about this, as she is not in the “patient” stage. But even she was so good and ATE, too. (You mothers of toddlers know what an accomplishment this is.)

I am so thankful to Pamela Anderson (the retired air traffic controller, not the actress) for organizing AND my husband Rick and my good, good friend Michelle Pfeiffer (I swear–I have a friend named Pamela Anderson and Michelle Pfeiffer–both married last names!) for helping me with KB!

Final Finding My Place CoverA Cool, Heartwarming Story
My mom’s friend, Bobette, bought a book for her grandson, Gavin. He is in fifth grade. My mom and Bobette have been friends for longer than I’ve been alive (not telling you how long that is!); and I’ve met Gavin before, but he lives in a different state–so I don’t know him well. Anyway, as the sweet kid that he is, he took my book to his fifth grade teacher and said that he HAD to read if for independent reading because this was written by a family friend. The teacher was reluctant–this is understandable because she has NO IDEA who I am–but agreed to read the book to see what she thought. (What an awesome teacher!) After she finished reading it, she agreed Gavin could read it, and even better–she put my book on her reading list. WOW! Thank you!

A Lesson in Voice: 6 + 1 Traits of Writing

This is a quick lesson you can do with ANY book, not just Finding My Place. But it works better with novel length books. traits-logo

1. Once you and your students have read at least half of the book, they should be familiar with the main characters’ voices. For example, in Finding My Place, students should be able to recognize Anna, Sara, James, Mrs. Franklin, and possibly Dr. Franklin and Stuart, too.

2. Review what VOICE is. This is such a hard concept for children to understand–there is an overall voice to the book, which is Anna’s in FMP, but then each character also has their own voice. Voice is the way the words sound together, and authors have their own distinct voice. For example, you can easily tell the difference between my book and one written by Mark Twain! (HA!)

3. Each student should have a piece of paper, numbered 1-10. You, the teacher (or students can take turns doing it to) or parent, read a line or two from FMP–it could be Anna’s narrative or dialogue OR dialogue from one of the main characters. Then ask students to write down whose VOICE they think that is.

4. After revealing the correct answers, discuss with students how they knew that Mrs. Franklin said what she did or that it was Anna speaking–what is different about the VOICE?

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25. Meltdown ● March 30th ● Who will take the stage in 2013?

The 2013 Meltdown shall soon be upon us!

My better half and me.

It's hard to believe that this March 30th will be the 5th year for The River's Music Meltdown and Book Bash. Or, as it's known for short—MELTDOWN! When my wife Gina and I moved to the Pioneer Valley, we knew we wanted to get involved with our new community and we wasted no time doing so. We always loved the events that I had attended for Punk Farm, where music was incorporated into readings, and saw a big hole in our author-saturated town of Northampton: NO book festival! We floated the idea for a day where authors and kids' musicians would swap stage time to our new friends Bill Childs and Monte Belmonte, DJs at the local radio station. Next thing you knew, we were teaming up and the first Meltdown was staged in 2009!

Since its inception, we have brought Grace Lin, Jon Scieszka, Jeanne Birdsall, Jeff Mack, Jef Czekaj, Diane deGroat, Mo Willems, Timothy Basil Ering, Anna Alter, Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Scott Fischer, John Bemelmans Marciano, Eric Wight and Lisa Yee to the stage! We love that the kids in our neighborhood have had the opportunity to see all of these authors!

And now that we're in our 5th year, our oldest daughter is four and will truly enjoy this year's Meltdown! She was all of three months during the first staging of this event!

Our girls helped us make a display for our local library!

Much credit needs to go to WRSI The River. They do all of the heavy lifting to make Meltdown something that can happen. There are a lot of finances that go behind an event like this and their hard work allows Gina and I to program the author side without worrying about permits, etc.

So who do we have line up this year? Here's who you will see on Saturday, March 30th!

Please note that Meltdown is moving this year! We've outgrown our previous space and will now be at Smith Vocational High School, located at 80 Locust St!

10:40 AM
This guy.

We really had to pull some strings for this one. But seriously, we kind of did. My publisher will be releasing LL #9 a few weeks early exclusively for Meltdown 2013. So if you want to read LL and the Video Game Villain before the rest of the country, this is your chance!

11:40 am
Angela DiTerlizzi!

Our copy of Ang's Say What? is already dog-eared. We can never read it just once, as the girls insist on repeated readings. Which is fine by us, this book ROCKS!

12:40 pm
Matthew McElligott!

Matthew's books are a huge hit with our girls. (Do you see a theme here? Our daughters seem to be running the show...) Even Aliens Need Snacks is a sequel to Matt's equally hilarious Even Monsters Need Haircuts

1:40 pm

Judy Schachner!

Skippyjon Jones, everyone's favorite kitty-boy who thinks he's a Chihuahua, will be represented at Meltdown 2013! These books are crazy popular, and crazy fun, as is Judy!  Our daughter runs around the house dressed as Skippyjon. Esta un cabeza de loco. My Spanish is rusty. I need to go read more Sippyjon Jones books... 

2:40 pm
Tony DiTerlizzi

But wait! There's more DiTerlizzi to be had! Tony's books range from picture books (G is for One Gzonk gets our girls giggling) to chapter books (T's new WandLa series will keep you at the edge of your seats and inspire your imaginations!). We can't wait to see what T will conjure up on the Meltdown stage!

Not only do all of these authors write superlative books, but they also put on fantastic shows. That's a big part of what we look for in Meltdown authors—stage presence! You'll never be disappointed by who we invite to read, they're all stahs!

And of course, Bill Childs has another fantastic line up of musicians. Be sure to check the official Meltdown page for more info! www.rivermeltdown.com

1 Comments on Meltdown ● March 30th ● Who will take the stage in 2013?, last added: 4/7/2013
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