Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Family Friendly Fantasy Fun Fest

Just shooting out a quick note that I will be participating in the Family Friendly Fantasy Fun Fest on Facebook the 20th and the 21st. The first day, I will be featuring Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess and will be very dragon-centric. The next day will be focused on the Cats in the Mirror series and be cat-tastic. We hope you can join us for one or more of the author events. There will surely be games!

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Family Friendly Fantasy Fun Fest

6:00 - 6:30 PM - KAREN MARTIN
6:30 - 7:00 PM - MEG WELCH DENDLER
7:00 - 7:30 PM - HOWARD BAGSBY
7:30 - 8:00 PM - KANDI WYATT
9:30 - 10:00 PM - ALLY SCARBOROUGH
10:00 - 10:30 PM - KAREN EISENBREY
10:30 - 11:00 PM - JOANNA WHITE
6:00 - 6:30 PM - MEG WELCH DENDLER
6:30 - 7:00 PM - PATRICIA LESLIE
7:00 - 7:30 PM - CONNIE WHITE
7:30 - 8:00 PM - CONNIE WHITE/JQM
8:30 - 9:00 PM - LAURA D PALMER
9:30 - 10:00 PM - JENELLE LEANNE
10:00 - 10:30 PM - AUTHOR R D TRIMBLE
10:30 - 11:00 PM - JOANNA WHITE

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Summer Reading

I finally got around to getting my library card in our new city, and I went a bit crazy. I mean, access to thousands of books for free! For my summer reading, I have been working my way through An Echo in the Bone, Book 7 of the Outlander series. These books are seriously long--like 1,000 pages of close text--so I sometimes take breaks in the middle and read some fun kidlit. Here's a few that I have gobbled up already this summer and highly recommend.

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by [McAnulty, Stacy]

A lightning strike gave her a super power...but even a super genius can't solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth GoldfishRain Reign, and Counting by Sevens.

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn't remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she's technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test--middle school!

Lucy's grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that's not a math textbook!). Lucy's not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy's life has already been solved. Unless there's been a miscalculation?

A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty's smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different.

Wish by [O'Connor, Barbara]

Eleven-year-old Charlie Reese has been making the same secret wish every day since fourth grade. She even has a list of all the ways there are to make the wish, such as cutting off the pointed end of a slice of pie and wishing on it as she takes the last bite. But when she is sent to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to live with family she barely knows, it seems unlikely that her wish will ever come true. That is until she meets Wishbone, a skinny stray dog who captures her heart, and Howard, a neighbor boy who proves surprising in lots of ways. Suddenly Charlie is in serious danger of discovering that what she thought she wanted may not be what she needs at all.
From award-winning author Barbara O'Connor comes a middle-grade novel about a girl who, with the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places.

Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by [Potter, Alicia]

Miss Hazeltine is opening a very special school for shy and fearful cats.  They come from all over, and Miss Hazeltine gives them lessons in everything, from “Bird Basics” to “How Not to Fear the Broom.” The most timid of all is Crumb. He cowers in a corner. Miss Hazeltine doesn’t mind. But when she gets in trouble and only Crumb knows where she is, will he find his inner courage and lead a daring rescue?
Filled with adorable illustrations and ideal for fans of Disappearing Desmond and The Invisible Boy, Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats is a story that’s perfect for shy and fearful children as it both helps them face scary situations and accepts them just as they are.

The Problim Children by [Lloyd, Natalie]

With a dash of Lemony Snicket, a dollop of the Addams Family, and a hearty dose of adventure, New York Times bestselling author Natalie Lloyd introduces a new series about seven strange and adventurous siblings who tackle problems together—even when their new neighbors try to tear them apart.
Filled with mystery, humor, and adventure, the first book in this new trilogy is an unforgettable tale of adventure, family, and finding the courage to face any problem heart-first. When the Problim children’s ramshackle bungalow in the Swampy Woods goes kaboom, the seven siblings—each born on a different day of the week—have to move into their grandpa’s bizarre old mansion in Lost Cove. No problem! For the Problim children, every problem is a gift! But rumors about their family run rampant in the small town: tales of a bitter feud, a hidden treasure, and a certain kind of magic lingering in the halls of #7 Main Street. Their neighbors, the O’Pinions, will do anything to find the secrets lurking inside the Problim household—including sending the seven children to seven different houses on seven different continents!

Up next, I have Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I've never read one of his books before, so we shall see. Everyone was ga-ga over this when it came out. Had to at least take a peek. 

So what are YOU reading this summer? 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Shallows Book Release

Fun new book release to share with you. The cover is just perfect for the book.

Shallows by [Evans, Denver]

Price: Free with Kindle Unlimited / $0.99 for purchase

A luminescent mermaid. A bookish inventor. A terrible truth.

The sea isn't safe. Only the bravest and strongest become sailors. Luminescent mermaids roam the depths and the shallows, mouthing words no one can hear, never surfacing.

Raised all his life in an island fishing village, bookish Emerson Kadwell has always been warned away from the shore. But an infant memory of a song and the lapping of waves continually draw him.

When Emerson finds a mermaid stranded in an isolated part of the shoreline, the truth about his past and hers will change his world forever. Shallows is a clean YA fantasy novel with elements of paranormal and romance. It is the first in a series.

Denver is a fun-sized person who dislikes talking about herself in third person. (Feels pretentious, ya know?) She lives with her handsome hubby and an army of small gnomes that look suspiciously like the two of them combined. She spends her days desperate to write a good story without too many dumb typos. She thrives on hearing from her fans. (Like, really!)

Catch her latest writings pre-publication on Wattpad:
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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

OWFI 2018 & A Big Win!

The Oklahoma Writers' Federation annual conference was in Oklahoma City from May 3-5, and I came home with pages and pages of notes and ideas--along with a trophy for Best Juvenile Book of 2018 for Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess.

Percy and Sammy are so proud of Bianca!

I love that it lists my affiliate critique group, Ozark Mountain Guild (OMG),
because they had their hands on every page of this book. 

It was certainly an exciting way to end my first OWFI conference! I also took home a 4th Place certificate for a poem that will hopefully be a picture book one day: Kimba's Day.

A lot of times I wouldn't get excited about 4th Place, but there were 44 entries so it's amazing. I'm slowly getting feedback from other category submissions, and the competition was fierce. Some of my entries earned 95/100 or in the high 90s and still didn't even place. OWFI is a group of talented writers.

Besides the award ceremony at the end, the speakers were fantastic and at the top of their game. I'd never heard of Michael Dahl before, but if you enjoy scary kidlit, be sure to look him up. If his books are half as much fun as he is, you won't be disappointed. Sadly, the bookshop sold out of his middle grade books before I got there. I'll have to order them on my own. I did come home with a book by Mark Alpert--autographed for Scott because the subject matter is more his style--and the second book in the Moonlight Mississippi series, Avalee's Gift, by my friend Linda Apple.

But mostly I came home with piles of new ideas and notes. One work-in-progress I had brought with me to pitch to an agent has ideas written up and down the sides of every page. Pitching an agent or editor at a conference is rather like speed-date job interviewing. You get anywhere from 8 to 10 minutes to sell yourself and the book you hope they will represent/want to publish. It is a nerve-racking few minutes. While we were waiting for our chance at our selected agent/editor, the woman next to me joke that if she passed out cold I should just step over her. I assured her I would if I could manage to pick up my feet that high. My heart was going like I'd run a marathon.

The agent I had chosen to pitch to was lovely and kind, but she wasn't interested in that particular YA fantasy book I had in mind for her. But she did want to see one of my picture books. Very exciting! The reality is that it could be everything--or nothing. I've had agents/editors want to see things in the past and some never even respond afterward. That's the game. That's why you just keep pitching and writing. And always have a "something else" in case they are not interested in the first option.

My biggest piece of advice to new writers (or really all writers) is to attend conferences. Lots of conferences. Beside meeting excellent writers at the top of their game and getting a chance to pitch your work, you will learn so much.

And let's face it, writers are a weird breed of human. Sometimes it's just nice to be around other people who understand how your brain works. In one session, the power went out for about 30 seconds. When it came back on, we all looked around. Was anyone murdered? Did anyone vanish? I'm guessing that's not how normal people would react, but we writers were already typing out the scene in our heads.

Entering contests can be as daunting as submission letters, especially at a good conference, but still do it as often as you can. Your chances of winning are slim, but you should get feedback from the judges that can help make your entry better in the future. I received some great notes on a couple of entries that are headed for life as a book, and one serious skewering that let me know that project should just be set aside for a while. So one entry got a C+ and another won 1st Place. That's life as a writer!

Now it's back to normal life and work, work, work. I head out in a few hours for a school visit at lovely Eureka Springs Elementary. I substituted there for several years while we lived in town, and it will be nice to see old friends and students I know. Then it's time to buckle down for the summer and get the hardcover edition of Why Kimba Saved The World done and out to libraries. Never a dull moment!

I don't do events during the summer, but I'll let you know if anything worthy of note happens. Enjoy the warm weather (finally!!) and read dozens of good books.

Miss Fatty Cat is totally ready for summer break and for her mama to COME HOME!
I pick Callista up from U of A this evening, so she will be one happy cat. 

Have a delightful summer!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Children's Book Week Sale

Just a quick note to let you know that all of my books are on sale on Kindle for 99 cents each. It's a promotion for Children's Book Week, but At the Corner of Magnetic and Main is on sale as well. Grab yourself a copy of any you are missing!

Links here:
Why Kimba Saved The World
Vacation Hiro
Miss Fatty Cat's Revenge
Slinky Steps Out
Max's Wild Night
Dottie's Daring Day
Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess
At the Corner of Magnetic and Main

Sale ends May 6th!

That's all for now because I'm busy prepping for a Career Day Thursday morning before I head out to the OWFI 50th Anniversary conference. Very excited!! More once I'm home.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Bet Lost & Won

My husband, Scott, had been tweeting with his favorite local newscaster, Paige Preusse from 40/29 News, about the basketball tournament. He lived in Michigan for nearly 40 years, and mostly in the Detroit Metro area, so he was over the moon about U of M going into the final four and then the championship game. Paige was holding firm for Villanova. A friendly bet ensued. If Michigan won, Scott got a signed photo of Paige. If Villanova won . . . Well, we would send Paige one of my books. That's the only interesting thing we could think we had to offer.

By now, I'm sure you know the outcome.

(photo courtesy of Paige Preusse)

We couldn't decide which book to send her, so we dropped off a selection on the canine side of things. Paige tweeted this photo out later that day. Best bet I ever lost! We hope she enjoys them.

At the Corner of Magnetic and Main doesn't often get the love it deserves with so many children's books in the mix, but the San Francisco Review of Books did just post a review recommending it. Very exciting!

Here's an excerpt:
"The plot twists were nicely done. While I saw some of them coming ahead of time, there were also a few surprises along the way that I never would have expected from this tale. The author seemed to have an intuitive understanding of what the audience was expecting from her, and she knew exactly when to give to those expectations as well as when she should ignore them. Her creativity in this area makes me curious to see what she will come up with next!"

And Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess has earned a 5-Star review from Readers' Choice. 

Here's a portion of that review:
"The story is an enchanting fairy tale woven with witches, fairies, dragons, adventure, and whimsy. Bianca's character has been strongly portrayed and her bravery, courage, kindness, and goodness are tangible to young readers as they turn the pages. It is a wonderful read and, with all the action and adventure, has a good pace and movement which will keep readers glued till the very end. It is also interesting to note Bianca's transition from that of a quiet and protected girl to that of being a responsible and confident young girl. For all those who love magic, adventure, action, fantasy, whimsy, and fairy tales, this book is a must-read."
Thank you, Readers' Choice!

I'm gearing up to share my books at several events and school visits over the next few weeks. Stop by to say hello at these two that are open to the public:

April 21             Bella Vista Library Author Showcase, Bella Vista, AR  10:00 am -12:00 pm
April 28 & 29   Old Timers Day Festival, Van Buren, Arkansas

Sadly, both the Fayetteville SpringFest and Block Street Block Party that we normally do in the spring have been cancelled for this year. Hopefully they will be back for 2019. The powers that be promise they will.

My spring newsletter is in the works and will be out by the end of the week. If you want to subscribe to that (I promise, I only send out five or six emails a year) you can do that through the link in the sidebar of this blog for my Reader's Group.

Here's to wishing genuine spring weather for everyone!

And PS:  If you love Twitter, we'd love to have you follow one of us there--
Kimba  Yes, Kimba has a Twitter account. And a Facebook page. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Tyson Elementary School Visit

Spring has sprung, and my comfy winter of hiding in my office and getting things done is over. As much as I love that quiet, productive time, I also love getting out and meeting readers. Spring is also the time for author visits at elementary schools, and I was thrilled this week to visit Tyson Elementary right here in Springdale.

I met their librarian, Mrs. Valerie Harp, when she stopped by my booth at the War Eagle Fall Craft Festival in 2017. She was excited to meet a local author, and I was excited to meet such a lovely champion of reading and books. After a few chats over email, we set up my author visit at her school for March 9th.

Yay for Mrs. Harp, Rock Star Librarian!
Kimba and Hiro highly approve.

School visits take on all shapes and forms, but this talk was to the entire student body after their Friday morning assembly. I thought the kids might be a little tired of sitting on the cafeteria floor by the time I came on, but they were wonderful and engaged and loved seeing the real photos of our whole Cats in the Mirror family. Many books went into eager hands, and the library was set up with a copy of all of my books, including Bianca and Max's Wild Night in hardcover. Yes, Max is now in hardcover! But more on that in a minute.

Reading the opening of Bianca and looking at how the cover design was done.
(From Tyson Elementary's Facebook Page)
Both now in hardcover!
(From Tyson Elementary's Facebook Page)

I'm so grateful that Mrs. Harp promoted and supported and cheered on this author visit. I have had events that did not go so well because the librarian didn't help get the kids excited or share my books ahead of time. You can't just drop onto their doorstep. Author visits are the most beneficial when the students are a bit invested in the stories you will be talking about. Mrs. Harp had shared Max with a large percentage of the students, and I love that their biggest concern was if Max was still alive. Yes, Max is most certainly still alive, though he is an old man dog of 12 now. Many, many thanks to Mrs. Harp and all the wonderful people I met at Tyson Elementary. Everyone was so cheerful and welcoming. What a delightful school environment!

And back to a bit more news on the Max front. My cozy winter months were spent fussing with my first edition of Max's Wild Night and creating the hardcover version of the book. My next blog will have much more about that, and hardcover versions of the whole Cats in the Mirror series are on the horizon. Maybe the distant horizon--it's a time-consuming process--but I can still see it.

Many of you are probably getting ready for spring break vacations. Callista comes home on Friday to rest for a week before the final push to end her sophomore year. I'm hoping to get her to create some new illustrations for Why Kimba Saved The World. We shall see.

And if you are in the parts of the country that are covered in snow, I send you my condolences. I lived in the North most of my life and don't miss snow at all. I'll try to swish some warm weather your direction. Scott and Amanda are working on a new flower bed out in front of the house while I type this. It's planting time in Arkansas. Whatever your weather and plans for March, Happy Spring to each of you!