Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day Two Banned Book Week

Today, Ellen Booraem talks Harry Potter, which surprisingly has been banned or challenged numorous times. Take it away, Ellen!

I’m always puzzled when people try to ban the Potter books. Although they are supremely entertaining, these books also have an unusually strong moral message—you’re never in any doubt about the distinction between good and evil, or our responsibility to choose between them. The last book makes it clear that redemption is always possible, and the only completely evil person is the one who refuses to seek it.

J.K.Rowling is not a polemicist, though. Her story’s enthralling plot is driven by the character of Harry, a flawed hero whose salvation is his capacity for love. And the books are funny even when tragic—the wizarding world often is a hilarious send-up of our own, from the bureaucrats to the journalists. One of my favorite characters dies with a joke on his lips.

I guess it’s the witchcraft that bothers the banners, but it would be hard to find a less satanic brand of magic. I mean, a world where the first wizard Harry meets is a half-giant with a pink parasol for a wand? What’s not to love?

Thanks Ellen! If you don't think books are still being banned or challneged, think again. The following is an excerpt from a press release from the American Library Association and the Office for Intellectual Freedom,(OIF).

Each year, the OIF receives hundreds of reports on books and other materials that were "challenged" by people who asked that they be removed from school or library shelves. There were 420 known attempts to remove books in 2007, and more than 9, 600 attempts since the ALA’s OIF began to electronically compile and publish information on book challenges in 1990. Unfortunately, it is believed that for every challenge or banning reported to OIF, there are four to five incidents not reported.

You can read more here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Banned Books Week!

This week is banned book week and 2k8er’s are taking a good long look at some of the books that have been challenged or banned. What have these books meant to us and what might our world have been like if we hadn’t read them? How have these books affected our writing or our life?

First off, we have Barrie Summy, author of I So Don’t Do Mysteries talking about a family favorite, The Great Gilly Hopkins.

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson (published 1978 for approx 10-15 year olds) was banned by many libraries and schools for rough language (the “n” word) and Gilly’s inappropriate behavior. (At the start of the story, she’s racist.)

The Great Gilly Hopkins won many, many awards including the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the ALA Notable Children’s Book List, The Horn Book’s Honor list, the Jane Addams Award, the Christopher Award, and the list goes on.

The book opens with Galadriel or Gilly as she prefers to be called and her social worker on their way to yet another foster placement for Gilly. This eleven-year-old girl is tough and mean and manipulative and purposefully difficult to get along with. Imagine her behavior when she finds herself living with Maime Trotter, an illiterate, religious and obese foster mother; William Ernest Teague, a shy, nervous, slow, seven-year-old foster child; Mr. Randolph, her blind neighbor who is black; Miss Harris, her sixth grade teacher who is also black.

Over the course of the book, Gilly learns respect for others and for herself. She learns that family comes in all different shapes and sizes and isn’t necessarily connected by blood. And when her maternal grandmother shows up to claim her and reunite her with her biological mother, Gilly learns that getting what you wish for doesn’t always turn out to be all that great.

In our family, The Great Gilly Hopkins is the first decent-sized chapter book (as in over 80 pages) that Child #1 requested after listening to a fellow classmate’s book talk.

So, a book that encourages discussion about family shapes, racism, and anger (to name a few topics) seems to me like a book you’d want kids to read. Hard to believe some people are still trying to get it banned. Thirty years after the fact.

For a really good sized excerpt, click here

Saturday, September 27, 2008

What a week! Let's get right to it!

The Class of 2k8 took over the New England Independent Booksellers trade show last week! Nina Nelson (Bringing the Boy Home) and Ellen Booraem (The Unnameables) signed books, and Donna Freitas was there, too, accepting kudos for The Possibilities of Sainthood.

Ellen Booraem At the NEIB

Nina Nelson Signing at the NEIB

Next, TheHappyNappyBookseller says Sherry (short for Sherlock) Holmes Baldwin, reluctant sleuth of I So Don't Do Mysteries is "just the right amount of pink."

The review goes on to say, "Summy has created a very lovable character in Sherry Baldwin and doesn't skimp us on the others. I look forward to reading more."

Thanks TheHappyNappyBookseller! You're the right amount of pink for us too! Check it out here! Congrats to Barrie Summy!

Guys Lit Wire reviewed N.A. Nelson's book Bringing the Boy Home, saying "This is a book for anyone who is after a classic adventure tale, and who enjoys survival stories with extreme settings. Nelson's tale really rips along...introducing us to a writer to watch." Yay Nina!

"Kiss the Book" says about Zu Vincent's The Lucky Place...

"The Lucky Place really shows everyone exactly how hard it can be to have an Old Dad and a New Dad and having to think you have to choose between them. Great book, an eye opener for sure. I would recommend (that) parents read this book to their children if they have to go through the same thing, also for Middle Schoolers, High Schoolers, and adults...This book is for everyone at every age." What a great review, Zu!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Second Books

Today is our last day talking about second books. There's a lot to look forward to next year! Or perhaps the year after, because the year 2010 is the year Ellen Booraem, author of The Unnameables, comes out with her second book, The Filioli (Harcourt Children’s Books).

It sounds amazing!

When her basement is infested by a tribe of elegant fairies addicted to illusion, 13-year-old Mellie Turpin learns to value what’s real.

Another teaser! Let's chat with Ellen.

2k8: How does it feel to have a second book coming out?

Ellen: Selling the second book made the first one seem more real, and made me feel like less of an interloper in the novel-writing world. I drafted this book in between revisions of The Unnameables, and revising the second book has been a welcome distraction from the launch of the first one, which I find a bit nerve-wracking.

2k8: How was it different from the first book?

Ellen: My first book went through five revisions, three of them under the guidance of my Harcourt editor, Kathy Dawson. I think (I hope) I learned from that process—we’ll see. I do think the first draft of this book is better paced than the first draft of The Unnameables. And so far it’s the right length—I cut something like 100 pages from The Unnameables.

Thanks Ellen!

Don't forget to drop by tomorrow for Shameless Saturday, when we show everyone what the Class has been up to and next Monday, when we start our week long series on banned books!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Two for Jennifer Bradbury!

As we speak, Jennifer Bradbury, author of Shift, is busily working on the edits for Apart, her second book with Antheum Books for Young Readers. While she doesn't as yet have a cover, let's take another look at the cover of her first novel, Shift.

Isn't it purty? And if you haven't read it yet, you really should!

But back to her second book, because that's the whole point of this week's blog-- second books! Jennifer shares this tidbit about Apart.

Three sisters must redefine what it means to be family in the wake of their father's descent into schizophrenia.

Okay, that's more of a teaser than a tidbit! Let's talk to Jennifer.

2k8: How does it feel to have sold a second book?

Jennifer: Honestly, it's a bit of a relief to have that second one waiting. I'm excited to share the story with readers, but a little nervous about how it might be received after SHIFT. Mostly excited, though!

2k8: What was different about writing this one than writing Shift?

Jennifer: The biggest difference was writing with a particular editor in mind. I've grown very used to my editor's voice, and think her insights are amazing, but it took some work for me to what I thought she might say and write the book that needed to be written. Luckily, we were both happy with the story in the end.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We So Do Second Books!

Today we are featuring an author who's first book hasn't even released yet! Barrie Summy's, I So Don't Do Mysteries, will be released December 9th. (Check back for her launch party!) Her second book, I So Don't Do Spooky, is slated for sometime in 2009.

Nope, it doesn't have a cover yet, but Barrie said it will be similar in tone as the first book because both books have the same cover designer--an extremely talented woman named Marci Senders.

I So Don't Do Spooky is the second book in the middle-grade mystery series starring reluctant sleuth Sherry (short for Sherlock) Holmes Baldwin. In I So Don't Do Spooky, Sherry teams up again with her ghost mother to find out who's stalking The Ruler (Sherry's stepmom). And why. There's a zany cast including a teen psychic, a good-looking ghost hunter, a rival robotics team and, of course, Sherry's cute boyfriend, Josh, her BFF, Junie, and Junie's cousin-with-attitude, Amber.
2k8: How does it feel to have a second book coming out?

Barrie: Great! It removes the "when will I sell my second book" angst. But it's surreal too. I mean, it is pretty weird to think I'll have proofed the galleys for the second book before the first one is even on shelves. Weirder still, I'll probably be writing the third book in the series before the first book is out.

2k8: What was different about writing this book as opposed to the first?

Barrie: It was way way way easier. I sent a very detailed chapter-by-chapter outline to my editor. So, I knew going in what would work and what wouldn't. As it turned out, I ended up ditching a bunch of the material in the outline. It was either that or hand in a book that was something like a thousand pages long!

Another thing that made the second book easier to write is that I'm working with the same editor. An editor I totally trust. An editor who has the same vision for the book that I have. An editor I already have a really decent working relationship with.
Lastly, I've already spent hours and hours with the main characters. I know them better than I know some of my friends!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Second Book Madness

Today, we continue with our second book series with Lisa Schroeder, who's haunting(no pun intended)debut novel, I Heart You, You Haunt Me had readers clamoring for more! Have you ever seen a more beautiful cover?

Do you believe in angels?

FAR FROM YOU is a story of love and loss, and reminds us what's really important in life. Fans of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME are sure to enjoy this novel-in-verse feauturing 16-year-old Alice, a singer/songwriter who's had her share of hard times, and unfortunately, has more to come. What will pull her through? Her music? The love of her boyfriend, Blaze? Or perhaps, an angel, here on earth?

Now let's ask Lisa a couple of questions!

2k8: How does it feel to have a second book coming out?

Lisa: Amazing and terrifying. No, I'm actually really excited. I just got the ARCs and Simon Pulse has done a beautiful job with the design of this book. I feel like they're really trying to make it something special. And this one will be hardcover, which is exciting to me as well!

Obviously, more than anything, I want teens who enjoyed I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME to like this one as well. It's not as much a love story as the other one was, although there is definitely love and romance in this one too.

2k8: What was different about writing this book as opposed to the first?

Lisa: Both books actually came pretty easily. Once I got started, the words flowed and I got into my characters and the story. I really ripped through the first draft of I HEART YOU, like within a month I had a draft done, and FAR FROM YOU took much longer, so I guess that's one difference. The other interesting thing about FAR FROM YOU is that I used music a lot more to get me in the mood. I listened to a lot of Lifehouse and Sarah Mclachlan as I wrote. But other than that, it was a lot of writing, revising, more revising, sending to crit partners, more revising, just like the first one.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Second Books!

As you already know, the class of 2k8 boasts many talented authors. We thought we would take a week and talk about their second books! First up, we have the uber talented Debbie Reed Fischer, author of, Braless in Wonderland. Her new book, Swimming With Sharks, is available NOW! That's right, you can go pick up this talented authors second book immediately! Check it out!


Five-foot eleven. Freckled. Flat s a surfboard. Peyton Grady sees her role on the varsity cheer squad as the only thing keeping her off the social sidelines at wealthy Beachwood Preparatory Academy. It's her umbilical cord to cool -- and it's constantly in danger of getting cut.

As a base, it's Peyton's duty to be stepped on -- literally -- by cheer queen Lexie Court. So when Lexie hatches a fierce hazing campaign against the frumpy new girl, Peyton has no choice but to support her flier. Soon the pranks become sadistically cruel, even criminal. Suddenly, Peyton has more to lose than her new-found Alpha celebrity. Will she gamble her entire future for "the good of the squad"?

"Blubber for the 21rst century. Debbie Reed Fischer's sizzling take on girl hazing and cheer pressure mixes the perfect ratio of humor to anger for a compelling, un-put-downable read."
---Alex Flinn, author of Breathing Underwater and Beastly

Of course, we had a couple of questions for her regarding second books...

2k8: How does it feel to have a second book coming out?

Debbie: I feel grateful. And busy! The whole experience is surreal. I realize I'm in a unique situation to have two books released in the same year. It happened because both my books sold within a few weeks of each other, each to a different publisher.

2k8: What was different about writing this book as opposed to the first?

Debbie: Actually, I wrote Swimming with the Sharks first. I sold my second book, Braless in Wonderland, on a partial submission, and was finishing it up as Sharks was being submitted to publishers. Even though Braless was released first, Sharks is really my first book.

Congrats on your second book, Debbie! Many happy sales!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Shameless Saturday!

A lot going on this week!

2k8'ers, Teri Brown, Jennifer Bradbury, Lisa Schroeder, and Liz Gallagher, along with 2k9er Roseanne Perry, were spotted giving a presentation at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association conference in Portland, Oregon last week. Too bad none of the fab five thought to take a picture!

Good thing another group of 2k8'ers weren't so forgetful! The amazing Barrie Summy has posted pictures of herself, along with Stacy Nyikos, PJ Hoover, and Jenny Meyerhoff at the Encyclo-media Conference In Oklahome City, Oklahoma. You can check it out here.

Other great news for the week:

A helpful reader alerted Regina Scott that The Chicago Tribune had reviewed La Petite Four! The paper called La Petite Four "a charming, expertly crafted traditional Regency romance." The full review is here.

Marissa Doyle's Bewitching Season was named to ALA Booklist's 2008 list of Top Ten Romance Fiction for Youth in their annual Spotlight on Romance issue.

Debbie Reed Fischer is spotlighted here on Chicklitgurrl blogspot.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The “Come as your favorite Made-Up-Saint Book Party” for THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD!

Wow! This looks like one heck of a party! And why not? It's not everyday your debut novel launches! Let's join Donna as she dishes on her real life launch party!

Last Saturday I got to celebrate the publication of my first novel and I’m happy to report that it was a lot of fun. One of my geeky ideas for the party and in honor of my protagonist, Antonia, who proposes new saint specializations that she feels are in dire need of representation—was to have the guests dress as their favorite idea for a new saint. It was hilarious to see what people came up with, and we took special “saint portraits” of friends in costumes. Here are some of my favorites:

Here’s Lisa Graff—author of “The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower,” editor at FSG, and one of the Longstockings—as the Patron Saint of the Book Jacket. If there had been a contest I think Lisa would have won! How creative is that skirt? And note the headband and bracelets—all made of book jackets!

Do you know, that Chrysler Building headdress actually lights up? Cheryl Klein, editor at Arthur Levine Books/Scholastic, and I ham it up for the camera.

It’s the Patron Saint of Candy! And look at all that candy…YUM. Anyone who knows Alvina Ling, editor at Little, Brown, knows how much she loves sugar. By the end of the night most of that candy was gone…

The esteemed 2k8 class member and author of Alive and Well in Prague, New York, made it early on to the party and I had to make sure to catch her with the camera. Daphne was amazing moral support as I was nervous and getting everything ready before guests started to arrive—and I’m eternally grateful to this fellow 2k8-er and dear friend.

Hope you enjoyed a quick look into THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD launch party!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

First Kiss Confessions and Book Trailer!

Today, Donna Freitas talks about first kisses and sainthood!

My protagonist, Antonia Lucia Labella is preoccupied with landing her first kiss (perhaps even more than sainthood). As anyone still in that never-been-kissed category or who remembers their first kiss knows—sometimes finding that right person and right moment for this important event can be challenging. It’s so challenging for Antonia that, after a near-disaster boy-encounter when Antonia “gets more action than she bargained for” as one reviewer put it, Antonia writes the Vatican proposing a special saint that might help smooth the process for girls (and boys) her age everywhere in similar predicaments:

Vatican Committee on Sainthood
Vatican City
Rome, Italy

To Whom It May Concern (ideally the Pope if he’s available):

I’m writing to inform you of a grave oversight in the area of patron saint specializations. As yet, there is no Patron Saint of the Kiss, and, to be more specific, the First Kiss! I ask you: how is this possible? Lord knows, it is virtually impossible to get yourself kissed in general without some heavenly intervention, and then before you know it, a little prayer here, a little prayer there, to saints who clearly are not trained in the art of kiss intercession, and suddenly you are in big trouble.

I implore you to realize that naming a Patron Saint of the First Kiss and Kissing is essential.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Antonia Lucia Labella

P.S. I humbly offer myself as the ideal candidate to not only become the Patron Saint of the First Kiss and Kissing, but the first ever living saint in Catholic history! Hope to hear from you soon!

What do you think of Antonia’s idea for sainthood? Think the Vatican would ever go for it? Do you agree with Antonia that a little divine intervention on the kissing front could be helpful? We hope you get what you want Antonia... on all counts!
Now check out the book trailer for The Possibilities of Sainthood!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Catholic School Girl Uniforms...

Today, Donna Freitas, author of The Possibilities of Sainthood, gives us advice on how to alter our Catholic school uniforms... who knew???

As a lifer at Catholic schools, beginning all the way back in first grade, I wore a school uniform for TWELVE entire years. After that much experience, a girl (and her best friends) eventually develop ways of…let’s call it “altering” the plaid and the wool and the knee socks and all that go with those God-forsaken outfits. My protagonist is no exception in the art of uniform alteration, and included in THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD is her very own guide to this all-important procedure for girls forced to wear uniforms on a daily basis. Here’s an abridged version of it:

Antonia Lucia Labella’s Catholic School Girl’s Guide to Uniform Alteration
1. Most important is rolling your skirt so that it is a virtual mini (you keep folding it over at the waist-band). The key to successful skirt rolling is to be sure your Catholic pleated plaid is already hemmed at least two inches above the knee. Otherwise, if you have to fold it over, like, twenty times at the waist, you end up looking as if you’ve got a serious amount of extra inches around the middle. Not attractive. If you have a mother like mine who insists on skirts at least to the knee, then you have several possible options: get out the ironing board and iron the desired hem, then either tape said hem or carefully safety-pin it all around the bottom, ideally so that none of the pins show through to the front.

Why not just pull out a needle and thread and hem it for real? Because you always need to be prepared for emergency hem-letting-down when your mother wonders why your skirt seems so short. If she realizes you illegally hemmed it, getting grounded is almost inevitable.

2. The question of boxer shorts: to wear or not to wear boxer shorts underneath your skirt? Mothers of uniform-wearing schoolgirls across the nation hate this trend of wearing boxers even more so than the rolling up of the plaid. Preferably, you should buy your own boxers. It’s weird to steal from Dad, though some girls do it. I don’t know when or who started the boxers craze, but it’s been going on for as long as I’ve been at Catholic school (which is always). To be honest, I don’t know why wearing boxers is cool, because sometimes, frankly, it looks kind of bad, but we do it anyway. Still, depending on how much you want the boys to see, boxers are a good preventive measure for the accidental flashing factor.

3. Legs: as bare as possible. Wear socks only when you are made to, and when wearing them, make sure they are scrunched down to the ankles. Never, I repeat, never wear tights.

4. Standard white oxford: ideally two buttons un- done and never buttoned all the way to the neck. Cute, tight-fitting tank top underneath for before and after school when you are hanging out in the parking lot.

The tank top allows you to remove the required oxford entirely if you so choose and transform yourself into the ideal sexy Catholic schoolgirl that every Catholic schoolboy wants to go out with. Note: Never ever let your mother or teacher/principal see you in just a tank top or you’ll be in trouble for sure.

So that’s Antonia’s advice!

Did you—or do you—have to wear a uniform to school? And if so, how did/do you go about altering it in creative ways?
Donna in her school uniform!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Getting to Know Donna Freitas!

Today, we get to know Donna Freitas, author of, The Possibilities of Sainthood, a little bit better... at the end she even reveals a secret!

2k8: So, where do you do most of your writing? What's it look like?

Donna: I write most everything in cafés, and for the last couple of years an Italian café in Manhattan called Tarallucci e Vino. Not only do they make pastries to die for (which, on a daily basis, can become a really bad habit), I think they have the best coffee in the city. I am picky about my coffee!

The best part about Tarallucci, though, is the space—sometimes I sit outside, but in the colder or hottest months, the inside of the restaurant is the long, bright, wide open space that is virtually empty until lunch time. It’s a wonderful place to write and they do not have wifi, which for me is essential to actually getting work done. I will literally go there at 8am, the second it opens, and stay until noon, sometimes 1pm, working. There was actually a point about a year ago that the entire staff at Tarallucci not only knew “my usual” order, but also knew how far along I was in my manuscript!

(2k8 note-- that's where everyone should write!)

2k8: Can you tell us how the book came about? How did you begin writing it?

Donna: The book started out with a line that popped into my head—well, a statement from my protagonist really: “My name is Antonia Lucia Labella and I am an aspiring saint.” It was strange—though I suppose all new ideas for stories come about in rather strange ways—but that one line showed up, I opened my laptop, and the whole story just poured out, especially the romance aspect of the novel—Antonia’s obsessed with getting her first kiss. That, and the Italian family/food part of the story.

Really, what drove me to see the story through, though, to finish it, was Antonia’s voice. I could hear Antonia, clear as a bell, chattering away in my head (I know, it’s possible I should not admit that!), which made it so much fun to write. She sort of wouldn’t leave me alone until the story was done—in a good way.

2k8: And how did it find a publisher? Where were you when you got The Call? Give us the real dirt!

Donna: Well, this is kind of a funny story. I still cannot believe I ended up with my editor, Frances Foster, at FSG and here is why.

I never ever thought I’d write fiction. I mean, really. Never ever—even though I’ve been a rather fanatical reader of fiction my entire life. I am always, always reading. I wasn’t an aspiring writer growing up or even in my twenties though in my late twenties I’d started to publish. Anyway, one day while on vacation I was laying in a hammock reading Holes by Louis Sachar—I read it all the way through in a single sitting and just cracked up through the whole thing. I loved how quirky Stanley Yelnats was as a character and I just thought the story was magnificent—both literary and funny which is not always a combination you see often. So I sat there afterward, daydreaming about how “if I made up a character, what would her weird quirk be?” I never thought I would actually write the story of this quirky character, however! But of course, I did.

Then, when it actually became a possibility that someone might publish this novel I wrote, I asked my agent to send it to Frances Foster. Frances edited Holes (and many other wonderful novels that I love now and loved growing up as a kid), and I got it into my head that maybe, just maybe, somehow Frances would magically get the humor in my story and want it. It never occurred to me she actually would!

When my agent called to tell me that Frances wanted a meeting with us—that she was interested in the novel, I almost died. That was it for me. I couldn’t believe it at the time and I still can’t be it now, that she is my editor.

Lisa Graff (one of the longstockings and an editor at FSG who works closely with Frances) and I joke about starting an “I ª Frances Foster” fan club because we love her so much and every time we see each other she and I go on gushing about Frances.

2k8: Did anything surprise you or caught you off guard when you were writing your book?

Donna: The fact that I actually wrote it! I mean, finished it. How weird is that? I didn’t plan on writing a novel or even when I started to I never dreamed of actually following it through to the end. The part that was so amazing though, was how much encouragement I got from friends with whom I’d talked about the idea and then shared some of the story. My librarian friend Beth Wright (she is the children’s librarian at the Burlington Free Library in Vermont) and the prolific children’s author Tanya Lee Stone kept pushing me to have faith in my story, my ability to write it, that it wasn’t a crazy idea to be writing it. Also, I attended Kindling Words—a wonderful writer’s retreat held each year in Vermont—when I was about 50 pages in. I did a reading on the last night of the retreat and people gave me so much encouragement about it. I feel like getting the courage to write a story, finish it, submit it to editors was this group effort, somehow, of wonderful, caring people in my life. I am so grateful for all that encouragement!

2k8: Imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might not be). What story do you want to write next/someday and why?

Donna: Well, I am already at my dream press!

I love this question—how intriguing. Well, my dirty little secret (for me) is that I am currently dabbling with a fantasy novel. I love reading fantasy but I always think it would be impossible to write. And the one I am dabbling with might be way too complicated so I doubt anyone would publish it. But I would love to some day to publish fantasy…

The YA novel I’d love to write but would never get published because people would say the audience would be so small as to be negligible is about a high school girl who is also a novice Catholic nun. She thinks boys are so impossible and unlikeable that she just prefers Jesus. And she’s on the soccer team. Anyway, I think a story about a teenage nun could turn out to be hilarious.

2k8: What question won't most people know to ask you? What is your answer?

Donna: Um, that almost until publication, the boy that Antonia, my protagonist, actually does kiss in the end—I actually had used the real name of the first boy I kissed in high school. (And no, I’m not naming him here…) I was so embarrassed that I had done this—remember, I never thought anyone would publish the story—that I was afraid to tell my editor that I’d used someone’s actual name as a major character. I remember when I finally changed it in the last stages of copyediting (!!)—I didn’t even tell my editor I was going to—and was hoping she wouldn’t notice. She kept writing these comments in the margins that said… “Isn’t his name supposed to be X?”

I still turn red thinking about it. All I could think was, ohmigosh, if I don’t change the name, if someone from my high school ever reads this book they will think I’ve been pining for this guy for years now.

But, lucky for me, my secret is still safe!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Introducing Donna Freitas!

Today we celebrate the launch of The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas! Check out that beautiful cover!

About the book!

Antonia Lucia Labella has two secrets: at fifteen, she’s still waiting for her first kiss, and she wants to be a saint. An official one. Seem strange? Well, to Antonia, saints are royalty, and she wants her chance at being a princess. All her life she’s kept company with these kings and queens of small favors, knowing exactly whom to pray to on every occasion. Unfortunately, the two events Antonia’s prayed for seem equally unlikely to happen. It’s not for lack of trying. For how long has she been hoping to gain the attention of the love of her life – the tall, dark, and so good-looking Andy Rotellini? Too long to mention. And every month for the last eight years, Antonia has sent a petition to the Vatican proposing a new patron saint and bravely offering herself for the post. So what if she’s not dead? But as Antonia learns, in matters of the heart and sainthood, things are about as straightforward as wound-up linguini, and sometimes you need to recognize the signs.

Now meet Donna!

Donna Freitas is a professor of Religion at Boston University. Her writing has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, including The Boston Globe, Newsweek, Salon, and The Wall Street Journal. She contributes regularly to “On Faith,” an online panel co-sponsored by Newsweek and The Washington Post, and she is an occasional commentator for NPR’s All Thing’s Considered. Donna is also the author of several nonfiction books, including Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses forthcoming from Oxford University Press, and Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman's Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials (Jossey-Bass, 2007). Growing up, Donna could often be found covered in flour in the wee hours of the morning making pasta from scratch with her Italian mother and grandmother, listening to them pray to one saint or another. She lives in New York City. This is her first novel.

What other people are saying about The Possibilities of Sainthood:

Behold: A rare bloom of a book, a genuflection toward the reality that today’s young can still be, more likely than not, good at heart. THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD while never gloomy or dogmatic, is a literary work of mercy. Let us rejoice and be glad.” —Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and A Lion Among Men

“With a satisfying ending, this novel about the realistic struggles of a chaste teen is a great addition to all collections.” —Starred, School Library Journal

“Fresh and funny, this debut novel introduces a 15-year-old Catholic schoolgirl who experiences typical adolescent angst but has her own way of dealing with it: Antonia regularly petitions the saints. . . . Her e-mails to the Vatican (inhabited here by a pope open to the notion of women priests, gay marriage, etc.) add flair to a coming-of-age novel already vivid for its warm portrayal of urban Italian-American family life.” —Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Like good homemade pasta, this satisfying novel balances lightness with substance and leaves teens wanting another serving.” —Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“First-time novelist Freitas hops into the romance genre and brightens and heightens it by providing characters who are anything but run-of-the-mill.” —Starred, Booklist

Wow, people, you don't get any better praise than that! Don’t forget to stop by tomorrow as we get to know Donna better!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Shameless Saturday!

Another fabulous week for the class of 2k8 and a ton of reasons to brag!

Brenda Ferber interviews the fabulous Jen Meyerhoff of at her blog! And in a wonderful twist, Jen's critique group tells all here!

Laurel Snyder received a wonderful review from School and Library Journal for Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains...

This fairy tale, set in a time "before television and interstate highways" in the land of Bewilderness, has appealing characters who grow and develop; clear, accessible language; lively dialogue; and a light humorous tone. -Mari Pongkhamsing, St. Perpetua School, Lafayette, CA

Jennifer Bradbury's SHIFT has been named to two top ten lists by the editors of Booklist. In May, it was identified as one of the "Top Ten Crime Fiction for Youth", and this month landed on the "Top Ten Sports Books for Youth" list. You can check it out here, and here!

Shelf Elf calls Daphne Grab's ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, NEW YORK a "charming and tender book, from beginning to end". Check out the whole review at Shelf Elf's awesome blog.

Shelf Elf has been busy because she gave a huge elfy thumb's up to Barrie Summy's middle grade novel, I So Don't Do Mysteries. Here's a tidbit from Shelf Elf's review:

Straight off, let me say that I hope that Barrie gives us more than two mysteries starring Sherry (Sherlock) Holmes Baldwin. This book was SO much fun. Right at this second, I can think of at least ten grade 6 girls who would gobble it up in a single sitting and then come running back wanting to know how long till the next one. There's a meaty mystery plot with a crazy supernatural twist, a little romance, a lot of laughs and great writing. Got all that? Sorry you need to wait until December to read it.

You can read the whole interview here!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Nancy gives us the answers...

So what's the truth and what's a lie, Nancy? SPILL!

There is a teacher in Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head named Mrs. Montemore. She promoted science in every aspect of her classroom, but most importantly, she turned a smart, awkward kid into the science-lover she is today.

That kid is my (now) 12 year-old, not-so-awkward daughter.

Every character name in my book is found in my real life, although their personalities have been changed to protect the innocent.

Someone once told me that if I included the names of people I knew, they would certainly buy the book to see how I twisted their personalities, and that's true! And this has been a huge, very fun part of my launch!

When I visited the canyon a few years ago, I found that the best part was the hike down Bright Angel Trail. I’ll never forget that—especially the look of surprise, awe, and exhaustion on my children’s faces when we reached the bottom.

Well...um...I imagined those looks, folks. We only walked about 2 miles down the trail because it was November and we were freezing! We promised each other that someday we would go back, and this time we'd do exactly what Sam has done in the book--make it ALL the way to the bottom and camp.
One more question before we say good-bye, Nancy. What's the final amount for the Nat'l Park Foundation?

I added up all the comments from my week, including my own, rounded up, and the bottom line is that I'll be sending the Nat'l Park Foundation a check for 50 bucks. Thanks so much for helping me save the parks, everybody!
: )

Two Truths and a Lie

We end our time with Nancy Viau this week with a 2k8 favorite... Two Truths and a Lie. See if you can figure out which is which!

1. There is a teacher in Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head named Mrs. Montemore. Mrs. Montemore loves science in my book, and this is ab-so-lutely the truth. She promoted science in every aspect of her classroom, but most importantly, she turned a smart, awkward kid into the science-lover she is today.

2. It’s so hard to choose names for characters, isn’t it? Every character name in my book is found in my real life, although their personalities have been changed to protect the innocent.

3. Most of you know that the story is based on a family trip to the canyon, but how much is truth and how much is fiction? When I visited the canyon a few years ago, I found that the best part was the hike down Bright Angel Trail. I’ll never forget that—especially the look of surprise, awe, and exhaustion on my children’s faces when we reached the bottom.

That’s it for Nancy’s week. Look for Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head in bookstores everywhere!

“…a terrific read for any 8-12 year old.” ~Teens Read Too

“Sam shares many qualities with Junie B.—the obligatory spunk, a chattily ingenuous voice—but her passion for science distinguishes her from other franchise heroines.” ~Kirkus Reviews

“(Sam is) lovable and full of the kind of spirit that makes for a lasting character. Nancy Viau weaves in seamless science lessons, sure to slide by young readers as casual plot, until they pop up and help them during science tests.” ~Young Adult (and Kids Books) Central

“A fantastic middle-grade novel…” ~Book Chic

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nancy Viau Doesn't have Rocks in her Head!

Samantha Hansen May Have Rocks in Her Head, but Nancy Viau doesn't! Let's get to know this amazing author even better!
2k8: Imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might *not* be). What story do you want to write next/someday and why?

Nancy: Is it weird to believe that I am already at my dream press? Abrams is made up of some very special people. From my editor who is lovely, quiet, and intelligent to the super-charged publicity director, and detailed oriented assistant managing editor, everyone has one thing in common—other than the fact they worked together on my book—they like each other, and it shows. I feel extremely fortunate. My dream would be to publish many books with them.

I have a ton of ideas for kids’ books, including picture books. I just love picture books. I’ll never outgrow them! Oh, and somewhere way back in my brain is a memoir floating around. Its working title is Bent Out of Shape and it’s both “insane” and (possibly) “unmarketable.” But...I’ll need to outlive plenty of relatives before I'm brave enough to put those thoughts on paper. And that’s all I’ll say about that!

2k8:What question won't most people know to ask you? What is your answer?
Do you wish you had begun a writing career sooner?

Nancy: And of course, the answer is YES…
and um…NO.

Yes, I wish I’d discovered my love of writing in college. I was one of those students who “aced” every writing assignment, no matter how large or small. I stayed up late “helping” the football team write research papers. (Shhhhh!) I also typed and edited reports for friends, and created fun stories for assignments for my elementary education major. Not once did anyone suggest I should look at writing as a career. Back then—at least in my little neck of the woods—women became teachers, nurses, or secretaries. My parents were simply thrilled that I was going college for I was the first in the family. So, I graduated, taught kids, had a few of my own, and did other things

No, not really. My best years and my best ideas come from the life I’ve lived. I wouldn’t trade those years for a second.

Remember to stop by tomorrow to play two truths and a lie!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More About Nancy Viau!

Today, we get to know Nancy a little better! (Of course, after finding out she has rocks in her bathroom, we feel like we know her pretty well!)

2k8: So, where do you do most of your writing? What does it look like?

Nancy: As much as I’d love to be one of those cool writers who tote a laptop around town and write in interesting places, I’m not. I do my best writing at home, in my office. I like having access to my files, resource books, a huge desk, lots of floor space, and…um…food, coffee, wine, and the laundry room. This picture shows the neat side. The messy side is well...messy. Some days I have so much stuff spread all over that I can't get out the door.

Recently, I've discovered a cozy coffee shop, and found I can sit there for a bit. But the more pages I fill, the more my wallet empties. When did coffee get so expensive? When did I start having trouble sleeping at night?

2k8: Many writers claim they don’t sleep much. What keeps YOU awake?

Nancy: Aside from one or two mondo-jumbo, skinny mocha lattes, you mean? It’s this whole bit about how the worrying never ends. The italicized part below is what goes on in my head when I SHOULD be snoring away.

Month one: Oh, I have an agent—hurray! My work means something to somebody. How long will it be till my book sells? Will my book sell?)(!!@#? What’s my advance? What about that option clause?

The next three months: Ah ha! My agent has found a great publisher. This is my big break. Whoo hoo! I’ve accomplished my goal. I have Sold. A. Book. WHAT? Only A. Book? I’ve gotta write another. Right NOW. What should I write about? Should it be a sequel, a prequel. Heck, what I need is NyQuil.

The editorial letter arrives: I seriously need a manicure. I’ve chewed off all my nails doing this revision. Can I schedule one in between the kids’ band practice and the dance lessons? Who am I kidding? I don’t have time for this revision stuff. Plus, it’s too hard! Besides…what if my editor hates what I’ve done to my precious manuscript? Can I get fired? Will this book ever be published? SOMEthing is gonna go wrong. I just know it.

Final editorial letters come: Who needs to sleep? I am on a deadline here. The house is quiet. Too quiet. I can’t work with all this quiet! I am WIDE awake. What’s on TV? Is the Disney channel on at 2 AM? Would my book work as a Disney movie? Who would I cast in it? Will my book even end up as funny as it started?

Launch Day: Have I done ANYTHING right?

We think you have, Nancy! Samantha Hanson Has Rocks in Her Head...Rocks!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Interview With Nancy Viau!

Today we learn more about Nancy Viau, author of Samantha Hanson Has Rocks In Her Head. Trust me, she gives new meaning to the term "Rockhound!"

2k8: You call yourself a reluctant novelist? Why?

My book started out as a short and sweet, 10,000-word, early chapter book. My inspiration came from a family trip to the Grand Canyon, and my daughter’s curiosity and love of rocks and fossils. I have to admit to being a bit of a rockhound myself. Perhaps it was the years I lived in Colorado that gave me such an appreciation for Earth science and geology? Now, wherever I go, I seem to pick up a rock, or two, or twenty. In fact, I have little groups of rocks all over my house.

Some people like to read in all kinds of things about why I have these: Do I have feel spiritually connected to crystals? Does a certain rock hold some significance or remind me of a special time? Is a small rock part of something large and important in my life? Nah, nope, and NO. I just like finding and collecting cool ones, and I’ve been able to see how special they are through the eyes of my daughter.

Anyway, my agent thought there could be so much more to my story, and he encouraged me to expand it.. (“Can you add 20,000 words?”) I never thought of myself as a novelist, but it didn’t take long before I was hooked! A few months—and several revisions—later, it sold to Amulet Books.

100 years ago President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon to be a national monument. He said:

"The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. .... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness... keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."

Join Nancy in helping to protect ALL our nation’s national parks. Nancy will donate one dollar to the National Park Foundation for every different person that comments on her launch this week—Monday through Friday. And if you have any doubt of just how beautiful that Grand Canyon is, look at Nancy’s book trailer below.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Meet Nancy Viau!

Break out the bubbly! Our featured debut author this week is Nancy Viau, Author of Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head …wait, what was that you said, Nancy? No, champagne? Ok, Nancy just informed us she prefers to celebrate with an ice-cold O’Cosmo—that’s a cosmo made with orange rum, people. Yum.

Kids…it’s orange Gatorade for you!

Let’s find out more about this debut author:

Nancy was the kid in school who always had a Nancy Drew book in her hand.

Her teachers claimed she was quiet and well-behaved; her brothers say the opposite. Growing up, she wanted to be an astronaut, but changed her mind when she found out how many years of math she’d have to take. In fact, on her Web site, there’s a picture of her report card that shows a Big Fat “D” in math!

Nancy’s had an assortment of jobs including elementary school teacher, counselor, and reading instructor, waitress, lifeguard, swim instructor, fitness club manager, and aerobics instructor. Yes, friends, it was the eighties. Bring on the silver spandex!

But once Nancy sent her youngest child off to preschool, she decided to embark on something new—writing. First, she wrote about community issues, parenting, and family life for The Philadelphia Inquirer. She eventually became a guest columnist, and got to write about her experiences living at the shore in the summer. “There’s nothing like writing about fireworks, silly town laws, crowded beaches, and ice cream to keep the creative juices flowing,” Nancy says. Many of Nancy’s essays were humorous, and she affectionately looks back on her time at the Inquirer as her Erma Bombeck years. Her essays were also published in anthologies like The Writing Group Book and Chicken Soup for the Soul, and magazines like Family Circle, FamilyFun, etc..

But Nancy’s first love has always been writing for children, and she’s sold stories, poems, and activities to most of the top children’s magazines. Highlights for Children is an all time favorite because she loves how the editors there challenge her. In 2006, she began writing longer fiction, and in July of 2007, that middle-grade novel, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head, sold to Abrams Books for Young Readers/Amulet Books.

Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head

Sam is a ten-year-old mad scientist, but she doesn't blow up stuff or change kids into cats that bark. She just has a little trouble keeping a lid on her temper, and she “ab-so-lutely” loves science—especially rocks. But science isn’t all that helpful when it comes to the big questions like, why does she get into trouble, why is her sister so annoying, and why won’t anyone talk about her dad. When Sam’s mom announces a trip to the Grand Canyon, it’s a dream-come-true. But if Sam can’t get a grip on her emotions, she’s going to miss seeing her favorite rocks, and miss finding out the answers to some of her questions.

Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head is a hilarious and touching debut that introduces middle graders to an exuberant new character who studies the world around her as she discovers what is in her own heart.

Come back tomorrow to find out why Nancy thinks she’s a reluctant novelist.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Shameless Saturday!

What a Week! Check out the latest from our classmembers!

Zu Vincent's THE LUCKY PLACE has a starred review in the August/September 2008 issue of Library Media Connection. Here's an exerpt from the review...

* This delicate page-turner is written in a way to subtly grab the reader by the gut...thoughtful, satisfying, and realistic. Highly Recommended. Leslie Freddy Library Media Specialist

Brook Taylor's UNDONE was given the ultimate compliment. A teen created a Myspace icon with a quote from the book! You can check it out here.

Oh, almost forgot! Shelf Elf calls Daphne Grab's ALIVE AND WELL IN PRAGUE, NEW YORK a "charming and tender book, from beginning to end". Check out the whole review at Shelf Elf's awesome blog.http://shelfelf.wordpress.com/2008/08/28/alive-and-well-in-prague-new-york/

Friday, September 5, 2008

Project Runway, Children’s Book Style

Today, The Class of 2k8 has a treat in store for you! As you might recall, Jenny Meyerhoff is the proud author of Third Grade Baby. This is Jenny's version of Project Runway, Children's Book Style!

Heidi Klum walks onto the runway. I shift nervously in my seat, wondering what she’s going to throw at me next.

Heidi: Authors, congratulations on writing your first book, for your next challenge you will have to create a look to accompany your book at your book launch party.

A look? Oh no! I haven’t sewn anything since 9th grade. Does a tote bag count as a look?

Heidi: You will have one day to complete this challenge. Your look must be a character in the book, but doesn’t have to be the main character. It must be entertaining to those who will attend your launch party. Tim is waiting out front to take you to Mood.

That doesn’t look like Mood.

Tim: Make it work.

I assemble all my supplies on my work table. But my model hasn’t shown up yet. I’ll have to start without her measurements. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it.
Halfway through the time allotment, my model finally show up. She’s much taller than I anticipated and I don’t have any more foam. I guess I’m making a mini.

I’m nearly keeling over with exhaustion, when Tim enters the room to critique our work.

Tim: I’m concerned. I’m just not sure this is saying children’s book. I really think you need to take it further.

There’s not enough time left. And anyway, I think this outfit is going to be fierce. I’m thinking of calling it children’s book-licious.

Time for the runway.

The judges want to see a picture of the character for purposes of comparison.

I’m just in heaven when I see my model walking down the runway. The look is exactly the way I pictured it. The sash really catches the light. It really looks like the tooth character who visits Polly’s class to discuss proper dental hygiene, Martha Molar.

Michael Kors: I think it’s really chic.

Nina Garcia: I could see this as a cover try.

Heidi: I’d wear it.

I breathe a sigh of relief knowing I won’t be aufed today.

To see this look in person join me tomorrow at The Bookstall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, IL from 2-3 p.m.
And who wouldn't want to see that look in person?! Thanks, Jenny and I hope you had a wonderful launch week!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Truth About The Tooth Fairy

As promised, today, Jenny Meyerhoff is going to give us the inside scoop on the Tooth Fairy!

THIRD GRADE BABY deals with one of the most common rites of childhood passage in our country…a visit from the tooth fairy. Though for Polly, the main character, things don’t go as smoothly as they did for her classmates who lost their first teeth in kindergarten and the first grade. When late-bloomer Polly loses her first tooth, she’s already a third grader. And most of her classmates have begun to doubt or out-and-out disbelieve in the existance of the tooth fairy.

The tooth fairy, so popular with kids in America, is a tradition we share with only a few other countries, Ireland, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and the UK. It’s not a very old tradition either. The first references to the tooth fairy only appeared around 1900, and she didn’t take off in popularity until the 1950’s.

Around the world, however, different cultures have been commemorating the loss of baby teeth for far longer than 100 years, by feeding milk teeth to animals, burying them and offering them to the sun.

Oliver Wu, one of Polly’s best friends, has never believed in the tooth fairy. His father is from China, and he practices a different tradition. Whenever he loses an upper tooth, he puts it under his bed. Whenever he loses an upper tooth, he throws it on the roof. This is suppose to ensure that the new teeth will grow in in the right direction.

If you are interested in learning more about different tooth traditions, there are some great books for you. THROW YOUR TOOTH ON THE ROOF: Tooth Traditions From Around the World, by Selby Beeler and TOOTH TALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD, by Marlene Targ Brill.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Hurray for Read Alouds!

There are many heart pounding moments for the debut novelist: the first time we hold our book, the first time we see it on the shelf, our first book signing. Jenny Meyerhoff shares what makes her giddy about her book launching.

When I imagine my book out in the world, one of the things that most excites me is this: THIRD GRADE BABY being read aloud in a classroom. As a former elementary school student, and then later, as a former elementary school teacher, I know that read aloud time is one of the most magical times of the day. It doesn’t matter how old students get being read to is a pleasure that has no age limit. I remember begging my teacher daily to read just one more chapter. I remember the hush and focus that would fall over students (even the ones who supposedly had difficulty paying attention.)

And the best part, years later, I still remember those books that my teachers (and librarians) read to me and my classmates.

ONE FAT SUMMER, by Robert Lipsyte. Mr. Campbell should have been an actor. He really knew how to read!
THE LEMONADE TRICK, by Scott Corbett. I wrote a letter to Mr. Corbett in fourth grade. He wrote me back!

RAMONA QUIMBY, AGE 8, by Beverly Cleary. My introduction to Beverly Cleary! I quickly read all the other Ramona books.
LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Made my parents buy me the boxed set.

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, by Roald Dahl. My own copy of the book, which still sits on my bookshelf, has been read so many times it’s in tatters.

Thank you, thank you to all the teachers and librarians who fed my love of books. In appreciation, I invite you all over to my blog, The Purple Desk, for a very special contest. Every month, for the entire 2008-2009 school year, I will be awarding one third grade classroom a copy of my book along with a big box of goodies related to my book. Check it out here! To enter your favorite third grade classroom, all you have to do is send an email with the name of the teacher, school and city of the class to contest@jennymeyerhoff.com.

September’s winner has just been posted. Good luck. And if you remember your favorite school read-alouds, I’d love to hear about them!

Thanks, Jenny!

And remember to check back tomorrow when Jenny dishes the truth about the tooth fairy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Meet Jenny!

Today we have an interview with the fabulous Jenny Meyerhoff, author of Third Grade Baby. And at the end we get to find out the answer to that all important question... does she believe in the tooth fairy?

2k8: So, where do you do most of your writing? What's it look like?

Jenny Meyerhoff: I have a very fancy office. It’s about 1500 square feet with a choice of writing tables or upholstered club chairs by a fireplace. A chef will whip up a sandwich, salad or soup, and the coffee is always flowing. I never have to worry about making a mess—I have people there who offer to clear my things for me.

Here’s what it looks like inside.

Here’s what it looks like from the outside

When I’m not writing at the café, I’m in my office at home. Obviously no one cleans up after me at home.

2k8:Can you tell us how the book came about? How did you begin writing it?

Jenny Meyerhoff: I started writing THIRD GRADE BABY because of a title. The original was “The Top Secret Files of the Tooth Fairy.” It came to me in a flash, and I really wanted to know the story that went with it. It was a fantasy about a girl who got to help the tooth fairy. Unfortunately, that book wasn’t very good, so after a major revision (from fantasy to contemporary realistic fiction) THIRD GRADE BABY was born.

2k8: And how did it find a publisher? Where were you when you got The Call?

Jenny Meyerhoff: The call didn’t come quite out of the blue. I had been told that my books were being taken to acquisitions and so was hoping to hear from my agent at any time. (Not that I was obsessively checking my email and voicemail or anything.) When the call finally came, I somehow was unable to locate my cellphone. I could hear it ringing, but ran frantically around the house trying to locate the source of the sound without success. Voicemail picked up and my agent had to deliver the news via message. (Which I saved. However, to preserve my dignity, I cannot tell you how many times I listened to it.)

2k8: Imagine you have an offer from your dream press to publish your dream book, no matter how insane or unmarketable it might be (though of course it might not be). What story do you want to write next/someday and why?

Jenny Meyerhoff: I already feel like this has happened for me. Publishing my first book with FSG was everything I could have imagined and more. And right now I’m working with them on my second book, THE IMPOSSIBLE SECRETS OF ESSIE GREEN. It’s a young adult novel.

2k8: What question won't most people know to ask you? What is your answer?

Jenny Meyerhoff: Well, my book really tackles the question of whether or not third graders are too old to believe in the tooth fairy. One of the characters states emphatically that they are. Another one says she will continue to believe in the tooth fairy no matter what. The main character tries to decide what she should believe; she really isn’t sure.

So far, no one has asked me if I believe in the tooth fairy.

The answer is yes, I do.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome Jenny Meyerhoff!

This week, join the Class of 2k8 in welcoming the talented Jenny Meyerhoff, who is celebrating the release of her book, Third Grade Baby!

Polly Peterson knows that baby teeth are for babies like her little brother Max. And yet she’s the only kid in her third grade class who hasn’t lost a single one. Her best friends, Oliver and Amelia, try to make her feel better, but it’s hard to be cheerful when Zachary, the new boy at school, starts calling her babyteeth. As if that weren’t bad enough, Polly worries about what to do when she finally does lose a tooth. Can third graders leave teeth under their pillows? Or is the tooth fairy also just for babies?

Now read an excerpt!

Polly Peterson tightened her ponytail and skipped alongside her mother on the sidewalk in front of Barker Elementary School. School hadn't even started, and already there was a problem. Everywhere Polly looked, students were running, climbing, and waiting for the bell to ring, but she didn't see any parents. Since third graders used the upper elementary playground, Polly guessed they were supposed to walk to school by themselves.


Polly turned to her mom, who was pushing Max, Polly's baby brother in a stroller. Max chewed on his fingers, and a big glob of drool dripped from his mouth. Eew!

"We can say goodbye here, Mom," Polly said.

Polly's mom looked at the school and then back at Polly, as if she wasn't sure. Then she asked, "You'll be okay?"

Polly nodded. "I'll be fine." Then she wiggled her loose front tooth. It was on the bottom, right in front.

The bell rang, and the third graders lined up. Oliver Wu and Amelia Sanchez, Polly's two best friends, stood at the front of the line. Their parents were already on their way to work. Polly hoped no one could see that her mom had walked her to school.

Polly's mom leaned down. "Can I at least have a hug?"

Polly guessed a hug would be okay. She squeezed her mom goodbye. Then Polly's mom gave her a big kiss on the cheek. "Oops!" she said when she stood up. "I got lipstick on you. Just a second."

Polly's mom reached into Max's diaper bad and pulled out a baby wipe. A baby wipe! She grabbed Polly's chin. "Hold still."

Polly squirmed but she couldn't escape. Her mom cleaned her cheek with the wipe. Disgusting! Polly thought having a baby brother would make her parents treat her like a bigger kid, not like a toddler. She hoped no one had seen. She looked back at the playground. A tall, blond boy was staring at her, a fifth grader probably. Polly bet he thought she was a baby because her mom was wiping her face.

Huge Congrats, Jenny! What an accomplishment!

Tomorrow, we meet Jenny up close and personal as we continue to celebrate her debut week!