Saturday, May 31, 2008

Shameless Saturday

Give us a week and SHAZAM good news bursts forth. It's literary lava and we are HOT!


Nina Nelson’s Bringing the Boy Home received a glowing review from Kirkus. “"Told in two distinctive voices, this imaginative and beautifully realized novel, set in the Amazon, tells the story of two boys from the fictional Takunami tribe…their stories connect in a surprising yet totally believable way, giving psychological depth to this richly hued novel about the winding turns of destiny and the bonds between father and son, tribe and family.”

The Story Siren said Regina Scott’s “La Petite Four has a little bit of everything; mystery, suspense, romance and of course really beautiful dresses! The plot is interesting and captivating.” They also refer to Regina as an “awesome writer.”


M.P. Barker got an excellent write up in The Republican and was a featured author on Red Room.

Jennifer Bradbury’s Shift will be published in Dutch!

Teri Brown’s book trailer for Read My Lips is featured on CBS’s You Tube.

Laura Bowers is known for her amusing author interviews. Check out her latest 1-on-1 in which Daphne Grab confesses to singing to her cat.

Not only has Marissa Doyle been a featured author on the Fantasy Debut blogspot, her Bewitching Season was named in the editor's ten best summer reads for older readers in Scholastic’s Instructor, a magazine for teachers.

Sarah Prineas talks about killing your darlings aka revising as a guest blogger on Darcy Patterson’s Revision Notes. Even better, Czech and Slovak rights to The Magic Thief trilogy were sold to publisher Fortuna. That's a total of 12 languages, plus the UK/Australia!

Who knew Lisa Schroeder was an expert juggler?!? But she says as much in this great interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith. And I Heart You, You Haunt Me is going to be published in Polish. It’s official…2k8 is international!

Pittsburgh’s Lux did an awesome interview with Brooke Taylor (her first!). Check it out!

Sarah Beth Durst (Into the Wild) recently interviewed our Zu Vincent about her essay in the Teen Libris anthology, Through the Wardrobe: Your Favorite Authors on C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

Annie Wedekind’s new website is a must see in addition to her post about the love affair between girls and horses on the Feiwel and Friends blog.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Before we say farewell to Regina Scott and her debut week we ask her this question, "Why the Regency period?"

So far, each of my books has been set in the marvelous Regency period in England. What’s so marvelous, you may ask? Oh, let me tell you!

The Regency period, strictly speaking, ran from 1811 to 1820, when George IV was Regent of England. In fact, the mores of the period ran from approximately 1800 to 1830. The real-life heroes and heroines faced the industrial revolution, where technology transformed the fabric of their society even as computers are transforming ours. They watched countries fall to revolution around them, even as we watch other nations struggle with concepts of democracy. Even the clothing of the Regency, so informal compared to the hoops and powdered wigs of the previous period and patterned after the simple frocks of the French countryside, reflected a transition in society just as our jeans and exercise wear do now.

The Regency period invites both writer and reader to play in a world rich in language, historical detail, pomp, and circumstance. Stemming from the legacy of Jane Austen, the time period was popularized in the modern era by Georgette Heyer. Her books are still read decades after her death, an amazing record for an industry where bookstores often give a paperback love story a six-week shelf life.

Building on the model of society developed by Georgette Heyer and scrupulously researched and detailed, stories set in the Regency period take on a shared world flavor similar to some science fiction and fantasy novels. Readers familiar with the period know that when they pick up a story set in the Regency period, they are in for witty dialogue, rich historical detail, and a language that’s all their own. Gentlemen have impeccable manners and little things, like the brush of a hand and the lowering of an eyelash, can spell the difference between pleasure and social ostracism. This is a world populated by licentious rakes, self-important dandies, erudite bluestockings, independent Originals, and gorgeous Incomparables. A gentleman might drive his cattle (horses) through the ton (the better part of London) so that others might consider him an out-and-outer (impressive fellow). A lady might invite her bosom beau (best friend) to her at home (time available to receive callers) so that they might have a nice coze (talk).

All that aside, I’m a sucker for long dresses, dashing gentlemen, and elegant balls. Why wouldn’t I want to write in this period?

Why indeed! Thank you so much for sharing this week with us, Regina. It's been a real pleasure. We wish you the best of luck with LA PETITE FOUR.

And to further entice readers we'd like to share Regina's fantabulous book trailer.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 4: Giving Thanks Where Thanks Are Due

In getting to know Regina Scott we've learned she writes long hand on airplanes, she's walked in her character's shoes and she has an affinity for costumes, but she also has a long list of loving people she'd like to thank for helping her along the way.

My dedication is long enough that my publisher wondered if it shouldn’t be an acknowledgment instead. Either way, the book really wouldn’t have happened if each of the wonderful people I named hadn’t helped. So, here’s who had a key hand in creating LA PETITE FOUR:

To the Lord for inspiration and encouragement. I believe that the idea for a story, the ability to write, and the courage to keep writing are gifts. It’s only right to thank the Giver for them.

To my Emily and my Larry, for believing in me. It truly is merely a coincidence that my agent, Emily Sylvan Kim, and my lead character Lady Emily Southwell share the same name. But I completely agree with the song by From First to Last: “There’s no one in the world like Emily.” My husband Larry (left), on the other hand, is the wind beneath my wings. He’s become Mister Mom to our sons so I can have more time to write.

To Jessica and Lexa for working so hard. When I accepted the offer from Penguin, I got not only one fantastic editor, but two! Both of them were full of enthusiasm and ideas. It’s been a very interesting journey so far!

To the ever-supportive Kris for brainstorming, Lord Snedley, and blood pooling about decapitated bodies. Yes, really, decapitated bodies. I call Kris my critique partner because people immediately understand the relationship, but she rarely has me review anything she writes. On the other hand, nothing I write as fiction goes out the door without Kris looking at it. I trust her to find the typo on page three as well as the moment my heroine turns whiney. For LA PETITE FOUR, she outdid herself, helping me brainstorm my way out of corners, coming up with way cool supporting characters, and even supplying one of my favorite lines of all time, “Emily was trying to determine precisely how blood would pool around a decapitated body when the footman announced she had visitors.”

And to library staff everywhere, especially Marsha Bates of the Mid-Columbia Library and John Charles of the Scottsdale Public Library, who point us to books that teach, enrich, and set us to dreaming of all we can be. Where would we be without libraries and helpful librarians! Marsha spent hours helping me understand and appreciate the YA genre, giving me reading lists and a personal tour of the YA section, recommending her favorites, and explaining about industry networking opportunities. And I have been proud to associate with librarian, reviewer, and fellow author John Charles for many years. He won my heart when, as Romance Writers of America Librarian of the Year, he said from his spot on a panel on libraries, “My perfect library would be 90% Regency romances and 10% everything else.” God bless you, John! Here’s one more for your library!

We know everyone is so proud of you, Regina. Thank you for sharing those who mean so much to you.

Readers, tomorrow Regina will answer the question, "Why the Regency period?"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 3: Taking a Walk In Her Character's Shoes

Today Regina allows us to take a walk through London in Lady Emily's shoes. Come along for this enchanting excursion....

Most of LA PETITE FOUR is set in London, England, in April 1815. While many places in London didn’t survive the Blitz of World War II, there are still a number of places where my heroine, Lady Emily Southwell, and her three friends would have dined, and danced, and lived, and played.

Starting from Mayfair, where Emily would have lived, you’ll find some lovely townhouses like these. Contrary to popular belief, though, you aren’t likely to find any ballrooms in these babies. LA PETITE FOUR had to go a little farther afield for that, like these assembly rooms in Bath.

Just off Bond Street, that shopping district of the rich and famous then as now, you’ll find St. George’s Hanover Square. This is Emily’s church. She and her father, His Grace the Duke of Emerson, can be found there every Sunday during the Season, which runs from Easter until Parliament closes for the summer, usually July or August.

Just down the block on Oxford Street is Hatchard’s, purveyors of fine literature. Emily’s been known to stock up on classics as well as a few Gothic novels. She loves a good mystery, in her books as well as in her life.

Across the street from Hatchard’s is the entrance to Burlington House, a fine mansion. At one time, at the rear in and around a coal shed, stood the Parthenon Marbles. These fine sculptures were removed from Greece by Lord Elgin and brought to England where they were finally purchased by the British Museum. Their sweeping lines and majestic poses have inspired many an artist, including Emily.

Around the corner on St. James’s is Harris’s perfumery. They specialize in lilac water. Of course, the fact that they sit right next to a gentleman’s club and you might just catch of glimpse of someone handsome and debonair could have something to do with the charm.

Beyond St. James’s is Hyde Park and Rotten Row. It sounds like a funny name for such a lovely, sandy riding track. Legend has it that the name is a corruption of the original name, Route de Roi, or King’s Road, the road that led to Kensington Palace. Emily and her horse Medallion are quite fond of galloping down this path, even though they really should take the Ladies Mile on the other side of the park.

Of course, London is an entirely different place by night, even when one is safely ensconced in a carriage and chasing a villain through the streets. But we’ll save that for another time.

Tune back tomorrow when Regina shares her loving dedication of LA PETITE FOUR.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 2: A Closer Look at Regina

We're back today with the regal Regina Scott, so get settled on your setee and let's get to know this woman who's an intriguing blend of old fashioned charm with modern day sensibilty.

2k8: Tell us, Regina, where do you do most of your writing?

RS: Actually, a lot of my writing is done on airplanes. I work part time as a consultant, and I have to fly all over the country to meet with clients. If I have any work I can do on a plane, of course that comes first. But very often, there’s nothing meaningful I can do squished between two other people for hours at a time, so I write. My first drafts are all done longhand in blank lined journals. To me, the act of writing is a creative process that comes to life in longhand, while the act of editing is an analytical process that really fits best on the computer.

When I’m home, I work in my office, and I surround myself with things that inspire, so when I look up from typing away, I get an instant boost. The silk wall hanging my friend gave me years ago has fairies hidden among the falling leaves, prompting me to look for the unexpected blessing. A needle-point bookmark a reader made for me reminds me that someone out there appreciates my work.

One of my favorite energy boosters is a hand-written sticky over my computer, a quote from author Kate Douglas, who wrote for 20 years before making her first sale. “When I wrote the stories I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write them, when I finally stayed on a path that led to my own satisfaction, the Grail fell softly into my lap.” That speaks to the core story that fills my writing: know who you are and be true to that person.

2k8: That's an excellent value to hold to. Can you tell us how LA PETITE FOUR came to be? How did you begin writing it and make the transition from adult fiction to young adult?

RS: I’d written almost 20 books for adults, but I felt as if something was missing. Then I read a great article in an industry publication about how every author has a core story, a theme that comes out no matter what genre they write in. I got to thinking about my core story: coming to know who you are and how you fit in the world. That works very well in romance and fantasy, two areas I was really interested in. My agent pointed out that I was missing an obvious genre: young adult literature. She thought my voice would be perfect.

I’d read some YA with my sons, but my agent’s enthusiasm made me go out and scour the shelves. Our local library has an awesome YA section, so I read everything I could. And everything I read told me this was where I wanted to be!

One of my published adult books, A DANGEROUS DALLIANCE, featured a quartet of young ladies, sort of a Greek choir for the heroine. I’d had fans ask if I would ever write their story. Here was my chance! I focused on the leader, Lady Emily Southwell, and started writing. Her voice came so easily that I knew I was on to something.

2k8: It's always magical when things just click as if they were meant to be. So, how did you find a publisher for it? Was it hard making a switch?

RS: My agent wasn’t sure how a YA historical would do in the market, so she sent just the concept to several houses. We were stunned with the answers: “We want to see this when it gets done!” Razorbill wasn’t actually one of those houses. Going with them was what a friend calls “A God thing.” My editor called my agent up out of the blue and asked to have lunch, during which they discussed all kinds of things that might fit Razorbill’s list. Purely as an extra, my agent threw in LA PETITE FOUR. My editor loved it, everyone else there loved it, and they made me an offer I was delighted to accept.

2k8: What a wonderful transistion. Did anything else surprise you or catch you off guard when you were writing the book?

RS: Emily’s voice. She was the most real character I’ve ever written. She’ll tell me exactly how she feels about a situation. As we were working through the revision process, my editor suggested a change that seemed pretty basic to me. To my surprise, Emily refused. No matter which way I wrote it, she wouldn’t cooperate. I finally demanded to know why, and she told me in no uncertain terms. Wow. I had no idea she felt that way, but you can be sure those feelings got factored into the story, making it stronger.
You gotta love it when your characters take charge! Regina, thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
Come back Wednesday when we'll take a walk in Lady Emily's shoes.

Monday, May 26, 2008

We're pleased to have you meet Regina Scott

May has been a jam packed month, but we're giddy about having one more debut author. Well, she's sorta a debut author. Regina Scott is actually a best-selling, adult regency author making her YA debut.

Regina always wanted to be an author. She started writing stories for her friends in the third grade. In the eighth grade, she got in trouble for writing a parody of school life, set in a mythical medieval kingdom (hey, she always loved those long dresses too), and lampooning the hottest guy in school. The parody was an instant bestseller, at least at Eisenhower Middle School.

She had to wait a little longer for her next bestseller. After numerous short stories and articles in magazines and trade journals, she got serious about her novel writing and published 17 historical romances for adults, several of which won awards from booksellers and readers. And then her clever agent showed her it would be a lot more fun to write for young adults instead.
Regina and her husband are the parents of two teenage sons. They reside in the Tri-Cities of southeast Washington State and are members of the Church of the Nazarene. Regina is also a decent fencer and owns a historical, fantasy, and science fiction costume collection that takes up over a third of her large closet (remember what we said about long dresses?).

LA PETITE FOUR tells the story of Lady Emily Southwell and her three dearest friends who intend to take Society by storm by hosting the most elegant, elaborate, exclusive ball 1815 London has ever seen. But dashing Lord Robert Townsend insists that Emily honor the engagement their parents spoke of years ago. Has he no sensibilities? No refinement of spirit? No idea he has laid down a challenge Emily has no choice but to accept?

Yet as Emily and her friends come up with ever wilder ways to put Lord Robert in his place, they stumble across secrets better left untold. With the aid of mysterious James Cropper, who seems to be following Lord Robert (or, gasp! Lady Emily?), the girls must determine whether Lord Robert has more up his sleeve than a nicely muscled arm. Otherwise their dreams of a smashing Season just might come crashing down.

Advanced praise for LA PETITE FOUR:

Sophie at "Couture's Fashionable Reads" was kind enough to award La Petite Four a 7 out of 10 in the book's first review. "With clever plot twists, spying, and debonair courtiers, this book will keep you reading to the end!"

Come back tomorrow for an interview with Regina in which she explains the how and the where of her writing process. And take it from us...not many people approach things the way she does.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Toodle-oo to Sarah

Sarah's talked this week about herself, her cats, her book, maps, and biscuits and bacon. Before saying toodle-oo today, because editors are such an important part of the book-making process, she wanted to share her thoughts about Ursula Nordstrom, the legendary director of the HarperCollins children's books division from 1940 to 1973.

I didn't really understand what book editors do, or how they feel about their work, until my own editor sent me Dear Genius, which is a book of letters from Ursula Nordstrom to many of the authors she worked with, including E.B. White, Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, M.E. Kerr, Russell and Lillian Hoban, etc, etc, etc. UN had her hand in so many of the best-loved children's books published during those years; she had a vision, and she stuck to it.

The book was a revelation, really. Publishing is big business, right? HarperCollins, as far as I know, is owned by a huge multinational corporation. And we writers are aware of the tension between the business and the book. We love our own books, and we worry about whether they're going to sell well enough to make our publisher happy. This tension is nothing new; UN felt it, and referred angrily at the end of her career to "those tiny, tiny persons who live on the well-known bottom line."

As director, UN had to be aware of the bottom line, but she quite often fell in love with a book or with a piece of artwork. "There are a lot of us in publishing," she said, "who are just as romantic, or perhaps more romantic, about books than many of the authors and artists." Reading a book sent to her by one of her authors, she describes herself: "I sit here in shimmering happiness over such a lovely manuscript."

Once an author or artist was 'hers,' she became his or her champion. She discovered Maurice Sendak when he was designing shop windows at FAO Schwartz! She defended his controversial In the Night Kitchen (in the pictures, the little boy is naked) against prudish readers who wanted to censor the book and described one of her responses as leaving 'blood all over the keyboard.' She describes herself as "one who has fought, bled, and practically died to do good books whether or not they were going to be immediately profitable."

Sometimes her 'geniuses' didn't produce the work they were contracted to do. UN was a master of gentle flattering persuasion—dear genius, the world needs your beautiful book! As deadlines pass, she prods gently, and sometimes with dramatic desperation. Kay Thompson was supposed to do another Eloise book for Harper, but she didn't turn the book in on time, and stopped answering letters or phone calls. UN wrote, "I wonder if I'm dead and I don't realize it, and that's why you can't get in touch with me." And Edward Gorey made her nuts! After repeated delays, she said she hoped Harper could publish the book "before a truck knocks me down and kills me."

She was passionate about her books and her artists and authors. And I think that tradition in publishing is still alive. Editors still buy books because they fall in love with them. Thanks to them, readers can find books that they, too, can fall in love with.

Have you ever read a book that made you feel "shimmering happiness"? I bet its editor felt that way, too.

We'll leave you pondering that question while we thank Sarah for her enlightening post on editors and for a divine debut week. Best of luck, Sarah!

P.S. Everyone be sure to check our HarperCollins's new website for THE MAGIC THIEF, it just launched.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day 4: Bacon and Biscuits

Feeling hungry? Sarah Prineas is doling out some viritual biscuits and bacon for breakfast along with the reasoning behind her fattening yummy obsession.

So…biscuits? Bacon?

Yes, there's a whole biscuit subplot running through the three MAGIC THIEF books. Biscuits dripping with butter, and biscuits with bacon, and biscuits with cheese and jam, and stale biscuits dunked in tea, and biscuits used as bait to catch a dragon…

In the appendices at the back of book one, there are even two biscuit recipes. One you'd want to make, the other you'd want to make and then feed to your dog (if you didn't like your dog).

There is a reason for the biscuit plot. Before he gets involved in magical doings, my protagonist, Conn, was a "gutterboy"—a street kid who made his living picking pockets and locks in the Twilight, the bad part of town. Because he hasn't always gotten enough to eat, he's a little obsessed on the subject of food.

Unlike Benet, the biscuit-baking bodyguard/housekeeper from the book, I am not much of a chef. The Pillsbury dough-boy makes the biscuits at my house. But I do know how to cook bacon.

There is an art to it, if you have the patience. You want the bacon nice and crispy, but not burnt, and once the bacon grease gets hot, burnt can happen very fast. I learned how to cook bacon from a friend. What you do is, get a cast-iron pan. Open the bacon package. Throw the bacon in, all in one lump. Cook on very low heat for, like, an hour. Drain it on a paper towel. Save the bacon grease to put on the dog's biscuits.

On the day I signed the book contract with HarperCollins, can you guess what the Prineas family had for dinner?

Now that we've stirred up some some unrelenting cravings in you, make sure to swing by tomorrow when Sarah talks about a book that gave her a whole new perspective on editors.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 3: Mapping Things Out

We all know writers have a love of words, but did you know Sarah Prineas also has a love for maps?

An interesting thing about hobbits is they don't like to travel, but Bilbo always loved maps. Especially Thror's map.

I love maps, too, with a deep and geeky love for things like magical runes and "here there be dragons" and the compass rose and place names like "the Withered Heath" and "Mirkwood the Great".

For fantasy writers, maps are really important because we often create what Tolkien called a "secondary world" that is, a world completely removed from the "real" world, with its own geography and history. Maps make real the places of the imagination. That's why you'll see maps in the first couple of pages of many fantasy novels, including THE MAGIC THIEF.
When the book was being designed, my editor asked me for a map sketch to give the artist. I started out by consulting a really excellent map of 18th century London because Wellmet, the city in my book, is very loosely based on it, especially Southwark which was, back then, the seedy side of the Thames. I was inspired by the twisty streets with the funny names:

London map

Then I started sketching, coming up with twisty streets and funny names of my own. This is a detail from the Twilight, the part of Wellmet where you wouldn't want to live:

my map sketch

Then the artist for THE MAGIC THIEF took my sketch and turned it into a real map which is right at the beginning of the book:

book map

I have a puzzle version of Thror's map, by the way. It's one of my favorite things in the world.

What a cool thing to see the evolution of a story map. Now be sure to come back early tommorrow because Sarah will be treating us with biscuits and bacon. Yum!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day 2: Getting to know Sarah

We're back with the lively Sarah Prineas for an intimate interview with this imaginative author. Settle in for your chance to get the 1 on 1 scoop.

2k8: Tell us, Sarah, where do you do most of your writing? Are you a coffee house writer or house hermit?

Sarah: House hermit. My house is pretty small so I don't have a home office. During my "writing days" (days off from my halftime dayjob) I write at the kitchen table. Keeping me company are the cats, Feather and Sparkle (who, by some weird coincidence looks just like Lady, the cat in THE MAGIC THIEF). This is a picture of them looking symmetrical instead of fighting, which they do on a schedule. I write on a black stealth MacBook computer named Sparks. It has a dragon sticker on it. Also keeping me company when I write is a cup of Lady Grey tea with cream and sugar. Check out the mug! One of my best buddies sent it to me after I got the book's cover art.

2k8: What a great gift! So, how did THE MAGIC THIEF come about? What got you started with the story?

Sarah: It was originally supposed to be a story for Cricket magazine. I had the first couple of lines--"A thief is a lot like a wizard…"--in a file on my computer for over a year: but I didn't have a protagonist or a story. But once I saw the letters to the editor in Cricket asking for mores stories with magic and wizards and more two-part stories, Conn's voice and character leaped into being.

2k8: It's amazing how things evolve, isn't it? How did you end up finding a publisher for it? Give us the deets.

Sarah: My publication story is pretty much textbook and boring. About a month after finishing the novel I got an agent through a referral. The agent had me do some revisions. She sent off the manuscript to 10 editors and after a couple of weeks we did the deal with HarperCollins. As my agent said later, "It's the way deals are supposed to work but never do." Except that it did! It took about a year from the day I started writing the book to the day I sold it.

2k8: Very cool! We like it when things go smoothly. Did anything at all catch you off guard when you were writing it?

Sarah: Oh, yeah. I didn't know I was a children's writer! Well, and first I didn't know it was a novel. It was supposed to be a story, but I found Conn's voice so fun to write and the possibilities of the Wellmet world so exciting, that the story turned into a novel manuscript. When my agent sent it to mainstream children's publishers instead of sf/fantasy ones I was surprised. She knew what she was doing, though.

2k8: We love it when all the pieces fall perfectly together. Now what question won't most people know to ask you? And what's your answer?

Sarah: What's your favorite disease? Lyme disease, definitely. Book one was put onto a "crash" publication schedule, so the editing process happened quickly. My editor called at the beginning of June and asked if I could finish edits by the end of the month. Then I caught Lyme disease (stupid tick). All of a sudden, edits needed to be done by the end of the week. And I did them! With a 102 fever and chills from the Lyme disease. The funny part of it is, my hometown is Lyme, Connecticut. Not funny ha-ha, really…

Wow, talk about rough revisions! And you and Meg Cabot now have something in common. Hopefully you'll share some good things too! Thank you so much for your time, Sarah.

Tune back in tomorrow when Sarah will expound on maps!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Let us introduce you to the magical, mystical Sarah Prineas

We're so excited to introduce you to our magical MG author, Sarah Prineas! Sarah lives not too far from the Iowa River in Iowa City, Iowa, where she works at the University of Iowa. It's a good thing she really likes Iowa… She has two kids and two cats and is married to a mad scientist. Her biscuits are the kind that come out of a can (put 'em on a pan, hope they don't burn...).

THE MAGIC THIEF is her first novel and is the first in a fantasy trilogy—or possibly a series, who knows—about Conn, a scruffy kid with a dark past who survives by picking pockets on the streets of Wellmet. When he picks the wizard Nevery's pocket he sets off on an adventure involving magic, peril, misery eels, pugilistic displays, evil Devices, the most amazing locus magicalicus in the world, and crossing a (mostly) frozen river on a night of stars as bright as daggers. He also eats a lot of biscuits and bacon.

Chapter one can be found here:


"Sarah Prineas' vivid descriptions made me feel as if I was walking right next to Conn, her young resourceful hero." –D. J. MacHale author, of the
Pendragon series

"I couldn't put it down. Wonderful exciting stuff."--Diana Wynne Jones, author of Howl's Moving Castle

"Conn's attempts—both sorcerous and light-fingered—to save Wellmet's magic will enthrall readers, leaving them hungry for more of Conn's adventures—and perhaps for a biscuit or two!"--Ysabeau Wilce, author of Flora Segunda

"An uncommonly engaging young narrator kicks this debut fantasy ahead of the general run." --Kirkus (starred)

"What works wonderfully well here is the boy's irresistible voice, which is supplemented by the writings of Nevery in his journal, its creased and stained pages appearing as apart of the design."--Booklist (starred)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Shamelessness!


We've got game!

WIN a copy of Sarah Prineas's The Magic Thief and a whole bunch of other HarperCollins books by clicking HERE. What more can you ask for?

Jody Feldman, author of The Gollywhopper Games (Greenwillow) is running a cool contest for kids to win a Nintendo DS Lite or a very cool Gollywhopper Games T-shirt. Info at Click on the Contests balloon.

Nancy Viau, author of Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head (Abrams/Amulet) is having a fun drawing. Prizes include a hot-off-the-presses ARC of her middle-grade, a rock collection like her main character's, and much more. Check out her blog for details.


The buzz is building for Zu Vincent's The Lucky Place (Front Street Press), starting with a great review at School Library Journal, who call it "a stunning fiction debut by an author to watch." The rest of the review is HERE. Did you get that? Stunning. Go Zu!

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books liked The Lucky Place, too, calling it "Moving and multilayered."

Booklist finds even more strengths: "The 1960s setting is infused with small details from a child's viewpoint, providing a solid backdrop to the timeless story of changing family dynamics and allegiances." The reviewer also notes that "Fans of Nancy Werlin's Rules of Survival (2006) are a natural for this sad but hopeful story."

Debbie Reed Fischer has been interviewed by Alice Pope (and Deb's hilarious, as usual): Check it out HERE.

Have a great weekend, everybody. See you Monday!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Adieu to Jennifer

Today we bid adieu to Jennifer Bradbury during her celebratory week. We hope you've enjoyed your time getting to know this fantabulous author. Make sure you read her riveting debut, SHIFT, which award-winning author, Chris Crutcher, says is a " great realistic mystery. Jennifer Bradbury tells a totally believable, totally engrossing story. You will keep the pages turning."

And now Jennifer shares a little about herself and her family with her personal photo album.

Here I am in a jail cell in Louisiana. The way we ended up staying the night there is very much like what happens in the book. I won't spoil it for anyone and tell here, though. Just let me point out that the sink/toilet totally looked like that before we got there.

Here's a shot of me at the capitol building in Austin, TX. Back then George Bush was the governor. We loved Texas, and it was true that everything was bigger there—including the headwinds when we hit them. But the hill country was totally worth the climbing. And really, what's not to love about a place sells blocks of cheese cut to look like the state itself? That's pride.

Scamping in Redhill, NM, one of those towns that exist as dots on the map only. When we got there—hoping for a campground with showers—there were just half a dozen empty buildings and some sketchy looking busted-up cars. We lifted our bikes over the fence and camped out of sight of the road. Oddly enough, we woke the next morning to five inches of snow on our tent (in late April!) It turned out to the one of the two times all the way across we had to hitch a few miles.

I think this shot was in Arizona somewhere. But it really could have been anywhere. Just imagine me asking my husband why he needs another picture of me over his shoulder as I ride along looking goofy next to some glorious scenery in the background and you're pretty much there. We have more shots like this in our album than we should.

We're trying to introduce our daughter to bike touring as well. Maybe one day she'll actually pedal, but for now, all we can do is haul her around. Last summer we did a short bike/camping thing over on the San Juan Islands (which was extra fun because there's a ferry ride involved and you get to zip past all the cars and board first). This summer we plan to ride up and back the Columbia River Gorge with her. By the time she can pedal, we hope she's got the bug enough to enjoy some longer trips with us. The only draw back? It’s a little tough to travel light when you've got a toddler, particularly when her favorite toys are books.

Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing your debut week with us. We know SHIFT is going to be a huge success and we look forward to seeing what develops for you in the future.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day 4: Learning From Mistakes

As writers we often learn things about our industry and craft through trial and error. It can be painful at times, but inevitably we survive these experiences being smarter and stronger. We asked Jennifer Bradbury if there was anything that made her think she might never get published.

I never thought I'd get published when I started trying to write YA back in 2002. I learned about the Delacorte press contest for first Young Adult Novel and decided that I would try and write and submit to this contest—having a deadline has always helped me be more productive. That first year, I actually got a really nice, detailed rejection, and ended up speaking with the editor and resubmitting later. I blew it, but felt the next year, when I submitted a story that I thought was way, way better that things would go differently. And they did. But not well. I got the standard, speedy form rejection.

And I was devastated.

Now when I look back at that manuscript, I realize it isn't even close to as wonderful as I thought it was then. But at the time, I was certain it represented the best I could ever pull off. Was certain it was superior to the one I'd submitted the year before. And I sort of folded up and felt sorry for myself for a while.

Eventually, I started revising, bought a copy of The Children's Writers and Illustrators Market, and started querying agents with that same story. And though no one ever bought it, getting through that disappointment was necessary and made me a better writer.

Incidentally, I submitted an early, very rough version of SHIFT to the contest as well (because by then, I'd sort of established a pattern of writing a novel a year and getting rejected). And whether it just wasn't ready, or the people opening the envelopes were put off by the fact that my well-meaning friend (who I had print and submit it for me because we were still out of the country) printed it double sided, I'll never know. But that rejection came back even more quickly than the two before it!

Double-sided? Eek! We're betting that's it. Tomorrow we're going to get to know Jennifer a little better by flipping through her photo album. We'll find out why she was in jail and where she found state-shaped blocks of cheese.