NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The May Books!

The Lucky 13s* are offering up some super reads in May  to kickstart your summer, from dystopian sci-fi to fun mystery and fantasy to page-turning contemporaries. The sand is calling, blogfrogs! Load up those beach bags.

The Path of Names by Ari Goelman
May 1 (Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic)
MG mystery / magic

 Coda by Emma Trevayne
May 7 (Running Press Kids)
YA science fiction / dystopia

The End Games by T. Michael Martin
May 7 (HarperCollins)
YA horror

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
May 7 (Simon Pulse)
YA contemporary

Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
May 7 (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
YA historical mystery

Reboot by Amy Tintera
May 7 (HarperTeen)
YA  science fiction / dystopian

Riptide by Lindsey Scheibe
May 8 (Flux)
YA contemporary

Oh My Godmother: The Glitter Trap by Barbara Brauner & James Iver Mattson
May 14 (Hyperion Books)
MG fantasy

The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
May 14 (Disney/Hyperion)
YA contemporary thriller

Truth or Dare by Jacqueline Green
May 14 (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
YA contemporary thriller

The Neptune Project by Polly Holyoke
May 21 (Disney/Hyperion)
MG science fiction / dystopian

Boom! Boom! Boom! by Jamie A. Swenson; illustrated by David Walker
May 28 (Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers)
picture book

* What's a Lucky 13? An author lucky enough to be publishing his or her very first book for kids or teens in 2013! Each month, I'll introduce a new crop of fabulous debut fiction. Search for the tag 2013 debuts to see more, and read the Lucky 13 blog right here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

April Linklove

All the best stuff I've read around the weboverse in the last month!

Therese Walsh on respecting your writing process (via Writer Unboxed)
Jane Friedman on how to improve your author website
Rachelle Gardner busts several publishing myths
Jason Boog offers several self-publishing video tutorials (via GalleyCat)
Yahong Chi offers advice for the writer who Tweets (via Project Mayhem)
Justine Larbalestier on her ten years as a YA writer
Linda Formichelli explains how freelance writers CAN have it all (Write to Done)
Author-illustrator Bruce Hale on successful school visits (SCBWI blog)
Writer Barbara O'Neal on avoiding writer burnout (Writer Unboxed)

Excellent advice from agent Elisabeth Weed on how to get an agent
Literary Rambles spotlights agent Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media
Middle Grade Ninja asks 7 questions of agent Emily Gref of Lowenstein Associates
Agent Susan Hawk of the Bent Agency reveals what she wants in her in box 
Chasing the Crazies talks to agent Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency
... and also to agent Kathleen Rushall of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

Simon & Schuster open Library Ebook Program (via GalleyCat)
E.B. White Read-Aloud Award & Indies Choice Award finalists announced (via ABA)
... and the winners!

The Purple Crayon Blog collects reasons to love kidlit
Chris Colfer of Glee announces the second book in his Land of Stories series (via EW's Shelf Life)
My beloved Little Prince turns 70 (via PW)
Bestselling author Cassandra Clare & film director Harald Zwart dish about the upcoming Mortal Insrument  film(s) (LA Times)

Natalie Aguirre of Literary Rambles chats with Taken  author Erin Bowman
Cynthia Leitich Smith talks with Genie Wishes author Elisabeth Dahl
Smack Dab in the Middle blog continues its fun Middleview interview series, chatting with MG authors Joe Lawlor (,  Liesl Shurtliff (Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin), Josanne LaValley (The Vine Basket), and yeah, me too (The Key & the Flame)
Co-authors Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini on their foray into MG fiction with House of Secrets (LA Times)

(links go to Kirkus reviews unless otherwise noted)

Middle Grade by Joe Lawlor (Barbara Brauner)
The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff
Genie Wishes by Elisabeth Dahl
Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
The Key & the Flame by Claire M. Caterer (PW)
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
Thrice Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

Young Adult

ACID by Emma Pass (Daydreaming Bookworm)
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi (Book Passion for Life)
The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf
Taken by Erin Bowman (Empire of Books)
That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard
Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland (Paranormal Reads)

Kristen Kittscher chats up some sassy spy girls for The Wig in the Window
Beautiful picture book and equally gorgeous trailer for Steam Train Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld
Christopher Healy's The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle
The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen


Zareen Jafferey of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers explains an editor's job
Is the Ring that inspired Tolkien hiding out in a British museum? Cool! (via The Guardian)
PW honors the memory of beloved writer E. L. Konigsburg (1930-2013)

image courtesy of wikimedia commons; available for reuse under this Creative Commons license

Friday, April 19, 2013

E.B. White Read-Aloud Award Announced!

I always look forward to the E.B. White Read-Aloud Award given by the Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC), which is now part of the American Booksellers Association (ABA). But enough alphabet soup! This year's prize, always awarded to a marvelous middle-grade book, was granted to:

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012

Having earned a spot on the Best Children's Books of 2012 lists from Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist--not to mention a slew of fantastic reviews from critics and readers alike--it's not surprising that  this story about a boy with a facial deformity has taken this year's E.B. White prize.

But as always, ABC offers us a great list of must-reads with their Honors List as well. For middle-grade readers, they are:


Same Sun Here by Silas House & Neela Vaswani


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Pet Peeve: Everyday

For some reason, everybody--or at least, a lot of the bodies--has come to the conclusion that everyday is always one word, no matter what you're doing with it or why.

It isn't.

Everyday is an adjective, meaning it describes a person, place, or thing. It means "ordinary, used routinely," according to Webby. Often, you'll see it used in the phrase everyday life:

For Buffy, killing vampires is just a part of everyday life. That's not the case for most of us.

The peeve comes in when folks use everyday when what they mean is every day--meaning "continually, day after day":

Every day, Buffy finds a demon or vampire who needs vanquishing.
Every day, I find a dirty sock that needs washing.
My everyday life doesn't look much like Buffy's, I guess.

See the difference? If you can't put a noun after your use of everyday/every day, split it into two words.

I knew you'd get it. Now I won't have to come after you with Mr. Pointy.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Giveaway Update

If you've been on the Internet in the last week or so, blogfrogs, you may have seen me Tweeting or Facebooking madly about free copies and other giveaways related to The Key & the Flame. But if you haven't, there's still plenty of time and ways to win free stuff and save your hard-earned cash.

Now that the blog tour is over and the air has cleared, here's the lowdown on the giveaways still going on. Unless otherwise noted, each giveaway goes up through the end of the day (midnight) on the noted date. Prizes are listed below the dates. Asterisks indicate giveaways that don't have too many entries yet, so the pool is wide open:

Ending Monday, April 15 (9 pm EST):
a nifty bag o' swag from The Book Muncher

Ending Wednesday, April 17:
*a signed copy of The Key & the Flame from From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors

Ending Thursday, April 18:
a signed copy of The Key & the Flame from IceyBooks
*a nifty bag o' swag from Fantasy Book Addict

Ending Sunday, April 21:
*a signed copy of The Key & the Flame from The Hiding Spot
a copy of The Key & the Flame (sorry, this one's not signed) from The Girls in the Stacks

Ending Tuesday, April 23:
a signed copy of The Key & the Flame from I Am a Reader, Not a Writer


Look for giveaways to come in the near future from The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia and Goodreads. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Fab Launch Party

It has taken me several days, blog readers, to come out of my post-launch daze and post about my party. What a fabulous event! To those of you who were there, thank you so much for coming and filling the house! And for those who couldn't make it, I offer a little snapshot of what went on.

Thanks to the boundless energy of my sister, we set up food and tables at Shawnee Books & Toys bookstore around 5:00. Michelle Ranney, manager extraordinaire, kept things running like clockwork and even hired extra help to handle all the book selling. Sis hung out by the food. We had cheese and fruit for the adults, and cake, cupcakes, cookies, and snack foods for the kids (and ... er ... the adults).

This cake, designed by my local Hy-Vee bakery, not only looked gorgeous, but tasted good too!

 Most folks took our advice and reserved their books. We sold all 125 copies, and then broke into my stash of author copies, for a total of about 140 total sold.

I gave my richly deserved thank-yous to the bookstore, my family, and all the friends who showed up to celebrate with me. Then I read briefly from the book (pp 69-72) and did some Q&A. I was so glad the kids were brave enough to ask questions, because theirs were the best ones.

And of course, what's a book event without free stuff? We raffled off 4 bags of swag, a charm bracelet, and two lovely golden keys in fancy boxes. Shawnee Books & Toys threw in a $25 gift card for the store to sweeten the pot!

That was about it for the entertainment, because we had a lot of people waiting to get books signed. All told, about 140 people attended, 35 of whom were kids. I call that a big success! Thank you, everyone, for supporting me and supporting books. I love you all.

images copyright Shawnee Books & Toys. Used with permission. Visit their page here.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

More Free Books!

I thought of doing a sneaky bait-and-switch by titling this post "Win a New Porsche," but my ethics forbid it. Still, I wanted to let you blogfrogs know that a brand-new giveaway is up today at IceyBooks, which is hosting Day #4 on the blog tour, in which I illustrate the publishing journey from concept to contract--through dialogue, no less.

So go take a look and win a book.


There's still time to enter the Wowza Palooza Pub Day Giveaway on this blog! Prizes include
  • a personalized signed copy of The Key & the Flame
  • a fun bag o' swag, with buttons, stickers, a gorgeous key pendant necklace, and more
  • a $20 Amazon gift card to spend however you like


In case you missed them, here are some fun posts from this week about The Key & the Flame :
Tomorrow, the blog tour heads to I Am a Reader, Not a Writer--and another giveaway!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blog Tour Update

Okay, folks, maybe I got a little excited yesterday. Maybe because of this:

My book baby at Rainy Day Books, Fairway, KS

Come on, it does look cute sitting up there with all its little book brothers and sisters, right?

But even now, as I've stopped jumping off the ceiling, I find there's plenty to be excited about. Today the blog tour rolls on over at Hobbitsies, where I've left a guest post about how I created the setting(s) for The Key & the Flame. So get on over there.

Want the lowdown on the whole blog tour? Check it out here.

Want to get your hands on a free book, some cool swag, and a $20 Amazon gift card? The giveaway is still going on! Get in on the action here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Wowza Palooza Pub Day Party!

Bring on the fireworks, baby, 'cause it's the pub day for The Key & the Flame! Let's get this party started.

Why, thanks, Leo, don't mind if I do. I'm sure that's sparkling white grape juice in that glass, right? This is a family blog, after all. Now, don't go asking me to make a speech. Please. It's too much.

Well, if  you insist. Thank you, Ron, and all the Hogwarts kids. I appreciate your support. I couldn't have gotten to this point without you. Sorry, what? Where's the what? The free stuff?

Oh, you mean the giveaways. Yeah, let's not pause too long to congratulate my achievement. Let's get right to the booty. In honor of the next book (no more on that for now), let us salute the booty and start giving stuff away.

 Today's giveaway features a personalized signed book, a $20 Amazon gift card, and a nifty bag o' swag, including

  • Key & the Flame stickers
  • a premium tasseled bookmark with key charms
  • The Key & the Flame buttons
  • signed author bookplates
  • your very own plush Golden Salamander, who will protect you forever, just as he does Holly in the book
  • a key pendant necklace
You can see photos of some of this cool swag right here.

But before you run and enter the giveaway, check out the other fun Key & the Flame events on the blogosphere today:
  •  Melanie Crowder offers a sneak peek at Chapter 1 of the book on The Lucky 13s
  • Rebecca Behrens chats with me at OneFour KidLit
  • Author Tamera Will Wissinger (Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse) officially kicks off the blog tour for The Key & the Flame with an interview at Smack Dab in the Middle
The blog tour rolls on until April 13! Get the full schedule right here. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 1, 2013

March Linklove!

All the best stuff I've read around the weboverse in the last month!

Kristin Lenz offers clarification on the old show-don't-tell tip (via Literary Rambles)
Rachelle Gardner tells us her Single Best Tip for Using Twitter (via Books & Such blog)
Writer Kristen Lamb on 7 Things Confident Writers Don't Do
Is it time for you to stop blogging? Jane Friedman says maybe so
An easy infographic on how to write a scene from John August and Ryan Rivard (via GalleyCat)
Erin MacPherson on why Pinterest isn't social media (and how you can use it) (via Rachelle Gardner)
Carline Brice gives Tips for Writing and Working Full Time (via Writer Unboxed)
Lee Wardlaw on how to get writers' block (via Project Mayhem)
Should you self-publish your MG novel? Chris Eboch lets you know (via Project Mayhem)
What readers want from your website (via Author Media)

Agent Peter Knapp outlines his wish list for YA & MG
YA Stands interviews agent Jennifer Azantian from the Sandra Dijkstra Agency 
Writers Digest talks to agent Brooks Sherman of FinePrint Literary Management
Middle Grade Ninja asks 7 questions of agent Linda Pratt
Agent Joanna Volpe is accepting submissions again, and she loves MG! (via Middle Grade Ninja)

This year's Children's Book Fair in Bologna shows strong market for MG (via PW)
PW presents a sneak preview of fall kidlit titles 
Hey, kids! Vote for your favorite kidlit titles in the Children's Choice Book Awards (via GalleyCat)

PW lists the bestselling kidlit of 2012
Books don't have to come from trees (via PW)
Amazon doesn't have enough stuff, so now it's acquiring Goodreads (via GalleyCat)
New Lemony Snicket cover revealed (via GalleyCat)
Late author Bridget Zinn gets publicity push for Poison (via PW)

An amazing panel of Newbery authors presented at the ALA Midwinter Meeting (video--don't miss it!) via Watch.Connect. Read.
PW chats with the always busy, always delightful Lauren Oliver
MG author Tom Angleberger featured in the LA Times
Liz Michalski interviews kidlit & adult author Alice Hoffman (via Writer Unboxed)
Middle Grade Ninja talks to author Jacqueline West (The Books of Elsewhere)

(links go to Kirkus reviews unless otherwise noted)

Middle Grade

Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater & Robbin Gourley
Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger
The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris (Old-Fashioned Motherhood)
White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan

Young Adult

The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar (Hobbitsies)
Being Henry David by Cal Armistead
Brianna on the Brink by Nicole McInnes
Bruised by Sarah Skilton
The Culling by Steven dos Santos (Presenting Lenore)
Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden
Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch 
Let the Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger (Alice Marvels)
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett (Books, Bones & Buffy)

MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
Poison by Bridget Zinn (PW)
Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley (Girls in the Stacks)

The Flame in the Mist by Kit Grindstaff (via IceyBooks)
Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt (via GreenBeanTeenQueen)
Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

Who really owns your e-books (via Salon)
Author Erin Bowman (Taken) continues her series on the stages of publishing: first-pass pages (via Publishing Crawl)
Lauren Oliver's video series gives you the lowdown on how a book is made, from concept to bound book

image courtesy of wikimedia commons; available for reuse under this Creative Commons license