Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Conversation with Bethany Crandell, author of SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS

Bethany Crandell, author of SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS

Hi Bethany! I'm so glad you agreed to a chat today. Hey JRo! Thanks for having me.  Your book, Summer on the Short Bus, has intrigued me since I first read your title and description. Aw, yay! It sounds like a perfect mix of irreverence and heartfelt fun. It is! But it’s also very honest. To the point where one reader told me she felt uncomfortable at times because she was laughing along with the story but wasn’t sure she should be. Ha! BEST COMPLIMENT EVER! As far as I’m concerned, it’s those awkward/uncomfortable/will-I-go-to-hell-for-laughing-at-this? moments that make for a rich,  authentic life. If I was able to capture any of those in this book, I will consider it a huge success!
How much of your personality is infused in the book? *pauses to chuckle*, Oh boy. The short answer is, a lot! Bethany is all over these pages. Are you as sassy as your MC seems to be? I’m not sure I’m as sassy as Cricket (I’m sure my family would beg to differ), but the irreverence is all me. The way I see it, life is too short to worry about fitting into someone else’s mold. And being irreverent, IMO, isn’t about being rude or disrespectful, it’s about marching to the beat of your own rhythm—not the world’s.

Okay so now I totally want to hang out with you for hours on end! Aw, that’s sweet. But trust me, after a few more questions you’ll be begging me to leave. Besides your own character, Cricket (great name, btw!), do you have any fictional favorites? You know…I think I’m kind of a hooker when it comes to fictional favorites. I tend to fall hard for whoever I’m reading at the time (currently Eleanor & Park), and then move on to the next and repeat the process. It’s sad, really. I don’t call the next day. Don’t leave any cash on the nightstand. If they really rocked my world, I’ll swing by GR and leave them some stars… anyway, back to the question. I’ll default to one of my all-time favorites: Ramona Quimby. Sassy, bold, unapologetic. She has entertained me, and now my own kids, for years. You can’t go wrong with a Quimby.

You are scandalous! So is it true what they say about preacher's kids? Depends on what you’ve heard. *glances at ankle tattoo* Maybe I should have answered your previous question with, Ariel, from Footloose. Ah, Footloose…Kevin Bacon…illegal dancing…Kevin Bacon…I’m sorry. What were we talking about?

Uh, books, right, that's what we were talking about. *snickers* Kevin Bacon has that effect on people. Okay. Debut year. What's been awesome? Hands down, hanging out with other debut authors. It’s sort of mind-blowing how supportive and encouraging everyone is to each other, especially when you consider we’re all “competing” for sales. I can honestly say that in the last year I’ve built some friendships that will last a lifetime. What's freaking you out? The whole world having access to what I wrote. It’s one thing to allow friends/betas/crit-partners access to your writing, but knowing that perfect strangers will have access to it is beyond scary. I compare this feeling to standing on the 50 yard line, totally nude, at the Super Bowl. Exposed much?!

And now that THAT particular image is burned into my to add a line to our exquisite corpse story? Thanks! I assume you meant a picture of me and not Kevin Bacon…  This was super fun, JRo! Thanks for inviting me to play along!

And now Johnny's story continues:

Yesterday, at the asylum, Johnny got lost in a hole. One moment he was occupying stall #6 of the third floor boy's restroom, the next he was gone, nothing but a flush and a startled scream in his wake.  Briefly, he wondered how he'd talk himself out of this mess when they found him...if they found him. But a howling sound suddenly echoed through the surrounding darkness and he knew; there wasn’t time to worry.

Check back next week when I'll be chatting with Anne Blankman, author of Prisoner of Night and Fog!

Monday, October 28, 2013

KEEPER OF WONDER: An interview with Amanda-Jane McFadden

Totally adorable photo!

Today I'm happy to welcome another New Zealand librarian, Amanda-Jane McFadden. I stalked Amanda-Jane on Twitter (@amandajanemcf) and fortunately didn't freak her out too terribly bad. Because she agreed to an interview! I can already tell this is going to be great judging by that big red dog hanging out with her on a park bench.

Tell us about your library? (Where, what, anything quirky or cool?) What's your job title and description?

My role is as a Children’s and Teenagers’ librarian at Tauranga City Libraries, Tauranga. A city of 125,000 in the sunny Bay of Plenty of New Zealand. My job includes the collection development of the children and teens collections in our four libraries, and I also plan and run events for teenagers, which is so much fun!
We are really proud of the events we do for all young people and have really successful summer reading programmes; about 450 children and 200 teens do the programmes each year.
Cool things we have with teens have been: Rock Climbing, Ice Cream Party, Library Lock-in, Skyped with Lauren Oliver, a Hunger Games Challenge and I am just planning for this summer ‘Catching Fire’ challenge.
Quirky things … we are children and teenage librarians; we dress up, we sing, we act, we read in funny voices, we think outside the square … we are just ‘awesomely’ funky!  (sounds like an inspiring profession!)

What was the most recent book request? 

As it is the school holidays it has been ‘The Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series or the ‘Tom Gates’ series. 

What was your most recent book suggestion to a patron?

I love doing Reader Advisory with the teens; and I always recommend to the teens a book written by a New Zealand author. 
Yesterday I recommended ‘The Freedom Merchants’ by Sherryl Jordan. A story set in Ireland and the African Coast; dealing with the ‘white slave trade’. It is a powerful, enthralling and well researched book. (This sounds fantastic!)

What was your most recent book suggestion to a friend? 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (adult fiction)

If you could sit down to your favorite beverage with any current kidlit author, who would it be? And why? 

It would be with a Margarita and to talk with Jo Nesbo. How does he write such gripping adult suspense fiction (Headhunters and Redbreast) and then chill out enough to write funny children’s fiction (Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder series)

What book do you wish you had in your library (professional or personal or both) but don’t? (this can be something written or something you’ve never seen) 

Ha ha ha… the one I want to write! Lots of ideas in my head but need the time to get them on paper. (Do they have a 5am writers club in NZ? Works for me! - and yes, write! write!)

What factors influence your decision to add a book to your collection?

For me there are many contributing factors; independent reviews of the book, a ‘pick me up cover’, and requests from customers. But the most effective way for me is my ‘gut instinct’.  (I am a big believer in the power of the gut!)

What about you would make us say, “REALLY? But you’re a librarian!” ? 

For a hobby I use to Belly dance. The study has taken over for now… but I love all my sparkling costumes and jewelry so will be heading back to dancing as soon as I can.  :0)

Five favorite books of the past five years

Only Five! I could list many… here are a few:

The Freedom Merchants by Sherryl Jordan
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Brother/Sister by Sean Olin
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Convent by Maureen McCarthy

Thanks so much for stopping by Amanda-Jane! Now go belly dance off into the sunset :0)

Next week, I'm going to do a review of our librarian's top fives and patron/friend suggestions by genre/age level. In the meantime, if you know a librarian who might like to be interviewed, please direct them to my Keeper of Wonder series!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Conversation with Jen McConnel, author of Daughter of Chaos

Hi Jen! I'm so happy to have you here for a conversation about books and writing. Your upcoming debut, Daughter of Chaos (Month 9 Books), is about a rather witchy girl. Of course, as you know, I'm lucky enough to have read your book, but for the readers out there, tell us, what three words would you use to describe Darlena. Of course, since you're a writer, feel free to expound on why you chose those words. :0)
Darlena is definitely a Red Witch in this photo!

Thanks for having me, Jaye! I'm excited to be here. 

Three words to describe Darlena, hmm?  I'd say headstrong, powerful, and passionate.  She makes her declaration to follow Red Magic on an impulse (and because she's sick of being told what to do), but she's really a perfect fit for Red Magic; she's fierce and passionate, and her energy is more than a little chaotic.  And she's clearly powerful; otherwise, all the Red gods and goddesses wouldn't be after her!

Impulsive, huh? So, what would you tell your readers is the most impulsive thing you've ever done in your writing career? How'd it work out for you?

Well, it's impulsive on the surface: in 2011, I quit my full-time teaching job to devote more energy to my writing.  Although I didn't really have a clear plan, I'd been thinking long and hard about the decision for close to two years before I took the plunge.  It was the most AMAZING risk, and I'm so glad I did it; even though I still work (I teach part-time at a community college now), from that point forward I considered myself a full-time writer, and that mental shift has made a huge difference.  I started taking my work more seriously, and I began taking other risks, putting myself out there in ways that had previously terrified me.  I'd say the impulse paid off: I've written so much more in the past two years than I had previously, and I've been able to find homes for a number of the titles I've written since becoming a "full-time" writer.  

I really admire that. I think it would be great to have that kind of time to pour into story. Was there ever a time when you were scared to call yourself a writer? Did you worry about what other people might think? If yes, how'd you get past it? (And I'm not ignoring those other titles, we'll get to those at the close :0))
You know, I was apologetic about my writing for a long time, even after I made the shift to full-time.  When I'd meet new people, I would usually answer the dreaded "What do you do?" question with "I'm a writer, but I also teach." I was terrified to stand there and say "I'm a writer. Period."  I don't know quite what got me over that, but as I creep closer to my release, I've found the confidence to really own my identity as a writer.  Of course, I've also re-learned how much I like teaching writing, and I'm learning which identity to put forward first when I meet new people.  Primarily, I think I was afraid to talk about my work (what if they don't like it?), but I am slowly becoming more comfortable with owning the "I'm a writer, hear me roar!" feeling.  Still, it's intimidating to tell people in person that I'm a writer; I don't know why I keep expecting people to judge me for choosing a creative career, but I do.  Meeting other writers and beginning to feel at home in this wonderful creative community have both really helped me embrace this identity, but I'm still learning how to be brave in face-to-face interactions with people who don't know about my writing.

Yay, Jen! So glad you rose to that challenge. I understand you taught your first group of teens recently. I'm not going to ask you to go into that since you wrote a blog post about it, but what I will ask is how it was to talk to a group of teens about YOUR book? 

It was SO different from the years of teaching middle school! I loved every minute of it; the high school writing group I met with was filled with passionate readers and writers, and they seemed so excited to hear about DAUGHTER.  It really rejuvenated me and reminded me of one of the major reasons I write; I tell my stories because I love them, but I am also writing for my (future) readers.  I love the energy teens have (downs as well as ups), and it was so great to spend the afternoon with such a fun, friendly batch.  It was my first school visit, but I hope it won't be my last!

I hope not, too, for the teen readers' sake! Okay so two things. First, tell us about those other books. Then you have to add to our Exquisite Corpse writing below (1st sentence by a teen writer). And thank you so much for stopping by to chat!

Happily! Although DAUGHTER is m YA Debut, I also write NA, and I'm thrilled to be coming closer to the Winter 2013 release of THE SECRET OF ISOBEL KEY (Bloomsbury Spark).  In a nutshell, it's a story about a 21 year old girl, Lou, who's dazed and confused and has no idea what to do after college.  She travels to Scotland, falls for a hunky tour guide, and uncovers a mystery about a woman who was accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century.   I'm so excited to share it with readers, and I have some other fabulous NA projects under wraps, too.


Yesterday, at the asylum, Johnny got lost in a hole. One moment he was occupying stall #6 of the third floor boy's restroom, the next he was gone, nothing but a flush and a startled scream in his wake.  Briefly, he wondered how he'd talk himself out of this mess when they found him...if they found him.

Thanks Jen! And be sure and stop by next week when we'll be talking to Bethany Crandell, author of Summer on the Short Bus!

Monday, October 21, 2013

KEEPER OF WONDER: An Interview with Bookmobile Librarian, Sylvia Archer

Today's interview is a bit different than usual. For one, I'm IN REAL LIFE friends with the librarian, Sylvia Archer. I've know Sylvia since I taught her son in fourth grade (he's great, too!) and at the time, she was working for good friends of mine helping in their stained glass studio. Sylvia looked around for what to do and decided to get her degree in library science. Now she's our Bookmobile driver! She's not on Twitter but the Bookmobile has a Facebook page:

Our tri-county library system has a long history with the bookmobile. Children's author, Gloria Houston, wrote a book about it: 

Now we have "Ms. Sylvia!" The bookmobile has had two incarnations since I've known it. The first was a real classic but it had all sorts of problems and eventually had to go the scrap yard.

Now we have a shiny new bookmobile with an awning for the rain and everything!

Inside it's cozy and warm. The left hand side is adult fiction, mostly romance, best sellers, and inspirational fiction. The right hand side is children's fiction. The bookmobile is used by home-schoolers, the elderly, and anyone who lives at least five miles away from the physical library.

If you look behind Sylvia in the picture above, what you see is a wall of drawings. These are her young patrons' interpretations of the bookmobile.
I like the next one. This fellow has figured out a way to make the bookmobile get to him even on a snow day!

So without further ado, here are Sylvia's answers to my interview questions! I hope you enjoyed this little tour of what I think is a real treasure in my community.

Tell us about your library? (Where, what, anything quirky or cool?) What's your job title and description?

Avery Mitchell Yancey (AMY) Regional Lilbrary Bookmobile/Outreach Librarian

What was the most recent book request? 

"Waterfalls of Western North Carolina"

What was your most recent book suggestion to a patron? 

" Burning Bright" , by Ron Rash

What was your most recent book suggestion to a friend? 

" River of Bees" , by Kij Johanssen

If you could sit down to your favorite beverage with any current kidlit author, who would it be? 

" Dr. Dog" author Babette Cole And why? quirky, funny, irreverent, much like me :)

What book do you wish you had in your library (professional or personal or both) but don’t?  

The Lloyd Bailey Anthologies (this can be something written or something you’ve never seen)

What factors influence your decision to add a book to your collection? (if you are a purchasing librarian otherwise skip this one) 

Popularity among my readers, and price.

What about you would make us say, “REALLY? But you’re a librarian!” ? 

 I talk loudly.

Five favorite books of the past five years. 

" Burning Bright' by Ron Rash, " River of Bees" by Kij Johannsen, "EllaMinnowPea" by Mark Dunn, "Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegner, and " Stranger in a Strange Land" Robert Heinlein

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Conversation with Sara Raasch, author of SNOW LIKE ASHES - And the Start of our Exquisite Corpse

Yep, that crazy JRo's been at again. I've had a blast meeting all kinds of cool librarians but I also want my author friends to have a forum. So I decided to start the conversation series, and rather than a standard set of questions, these are organic conversations that develop over a series of e-mails. I'm super excited about this set of interviews as well. The ones in process are already fabulous! And what's more, we're writing one huge crazy story in the form of an "add-a-line" exquisite corpse game. The first line is courtesy of a high school student!

Normally these will run on Thursdays, but I'm setting this one free today - BECAUSE I JUST CAN'T WAIT! And if you and I know each other via the Internet or the Blue Boards or the OneFour forum, and you're interested in a chat, let me know! (must be in process of publication or pub'd already. Must be young adult or middle grade writers)

Hi Sara! I'm so happy to have you here for a blog chat! The part of your story that sticks with me is that the genesis of this book started when you were a teenager. What is it about your world that made it impossible for you to leave it behind? I mean, most people would have given up or moved on to a shiny new idea, but you stuck with your world and sold a trilogy!

Thanks for having me, Jro! Two things made it impossible for me to move on from this book: 

1) The Season Kingdoms. I've seen people do Season Kingdoms before, but as fairy realms (but, don't hurt me, I'm not a *huge* fairy fan -- I always wanted to do that concept as a "human" realm). I loved the idea of entire kingdoms stuck in seasons and how that would morph their cultures and people. I also adored the juxtaposition of Winter being the "good" guys and Spring the "bad" guys, because winter always gets a bad rap (Chronicles of Narnia, GoT, etc). I'm a huge proponent of flipping things like that, and that idea of winter-spring good-vs-evil never let me go!

2) My MC, Meira. She's...well, I could gush for hours about her, but she's feisty and crazy and loyal and smart, and she's always been a part of me, all through growing up. Because she's been with me for so long (going on twelve years now, yikes!), through adolescence, through college, through all of life's scary events, I feel this inexplicable connection to her, like because she's been a part of my life, I owe it to her to share hers with the world. I don't know what I'm going to do with myself when I finish her story -- I'll probably have a mid-midlife crisis or something ;)

Awesome, Sara (no h!) - what great answers. So another question. Do you dream about Meira, like the two of you having adventures together? I'm only asking because I sometimes dream about my characters like they're real people. If yes, what's the coolest dream you've had about your book people. If no, what do you dream about! (I'm hoping it's yes so I won't feel like the freakiest freak in the freakazoid)

I have the weirdest, most unrelated dreams in the world. I rarely, if ever, dream about people I know (and that includes my characters). My brain must really like making people up, because that's who populates my dream-world -- random dudes and dudettes that leave me quite confused the next morning.

The impending corpse question has me greatly intrigued. 

Gah! So I am the freakiest freak! Oh well. Moving on. Let's talk Game of Thrones. If your book is in any way at all similar, I'm all in (Who am I kidding, I'm all in, anyway!). I love that show so much. I'm torn between the Starks and the Targeryen's as my faves. What about you? GoT fan (even though I understand you had no clue who George R.R. Martin was when you wrote your novel)? Favorite episode or scene? Favorite character?

GoT and I have a very sordid relationship. When I first saw HBO's rendition of Dany, I panicked -- "She has white hair. No, MY characters have white hair. THEY STOLE MY CHARACTER WHAAAAAT." I have since calmed down (mainly by finding out that the technical description of her hair is "really really light blonde" not "white," or so I've been told. Yes, I'm weird) and I no longer twitch at the injustice, mainly because I think Dany and Meira would get along fantastically -- in more ways than their shared similar hair colors ;) 

As for the Stark vs Targaryen, I'm Team Dany all the way. Like I said, I think her and my MC have a lot in common -- they're both very young women in a world dominated by men, and they have to constantly prove themselves. That is one of the biggest themes in SNOW LIKE ASHES -- Meira's quest to prove that she matters. Though, sadly, there are no dragons.

"Meira's quest to prove that she matters." - Oooh, I love this. So relevant and important for young women. All right, one more question before the story starter. What have been, and do you anticipate to be, the most exciting parts of your debut year? (And I'm so excited to be a part of it with you over at the YA Valentine's blog!)

Oh gosh -- I think an easier question would be what am I NOT excited about! Actually, no, that question isn't any easier. I'm excited for EVERYTHING. Cover reveal, ARCs, first copies, reviews, signings. But I think the thing I am most excited for is the one moment I've been imagining since I was a wee preteen -- walking into a bookstore and seeing my book sitting on a shelf. Something about that moment screams "I've made it!"

I know. It's all very surreal. It's like falling in love, or having a crush. Just this immense special something inside that you carry with you all the time. I can't wait to see SNOW LIKE ASHES on the shelf, too and be all like, "Hey, I KNOW her!"

Okay, the Exquisite Corpse game. You are officially the FIRST to reach this point, so you get to add to the first line, which was created by my high school students. Please add a sentence to our opening line! Use whatever punctuation you feel necessary (say, if you choose to make our opening line dialogue).

Yesterday, at the asylum, Johnny got lost in a hole.

Thanks for this, Jro! It was fun :)

Yesterday, at the asylum, Johnny got lost in a hole. One moment he was occupying stall #6 of the third floor boy's restroom, the next he was gone, nothing but a flush and a startled scream in his wake.


Monday, October 14, 2013

KEEPER OF WONDER: An Interview with Tammy Langeberg

Today's fabulous Keeper of Wonder is Tammy Langeberg, aka School Teacher Librarian Dragon, also known on Twitter as @SchoolTLDragon! She's an active force there, always talking about books and from her photo you can tell that's NO JOKE! So without further ado:

Tell us about your library?

My lovely library, Semper Elementary, is located in Westminster, Colorado near the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Our library is in the center of the building with vaulted ceilings and lots of windows. It is as big as some school gyms. I am the teacher librarian with an emphasis on teacher. I read to kids and with kids, I help them choose good fit books, and teach educational technology and information literacy. That is a mouthful for teaching kids how to be good digital citizens who can navigate through technologies and be safe. I was the librarian here at Semper for three years and moved on to another library for five years and came back. The cool thing is the kindergarteners back then are now big ol’ sixth graders. They have changed a lot!

What was the most recent book request?

Do we have any new Babymouse books? We have all of them but are anticipating #18 next April.

What was your most recent book suggestion to a patron?

Origami Yoda. She has an origami book and I suggested this as a companion! She took it! (Such a fun book!)

What was your most recent book suggestion to a friend?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

If you could sit down with your favorite beverage with any current kidlit author, who would it be? And why?

I think I would like to talk to Chris Grabenstein. His book is such a beautiful love letter to librarians and libraries. It would be fun to hear why he has such a love for them. Also I want to know about the secret game he sneaked into his book. (I am running to Google now, as I do not know him!)

What book do you wish you had in your library (professional or personal or both) but don’t?
I would like to have more “slice of life” books. Kids love to read about things that happened to authors and make connections. There are a few great ones like Patricia Polacco’s Thundercake and Chris Raschka’s, The Hello, Goodbye Window. I want every teacher to have Librarians as Learning Specialists Meeting the Learning Imperative for the 21st Century by Allison Zmuda and Violet H. Harada. It really explains what a teacher librarian does and why they are so important to schools.

What factors influence your decision to add a book to your collection?

If children want it, I get it (if appropriate for elementary level). If teachers want it, I get it. The teacher/librarian PLNs on Twitter have really helped me find the best of the best. I actually had both the 2013 Caldecott and Newbery books in my library when they were announced winners! That has NEVER happened before! That was due to chatter on Twitter. (Ah, cool that you use Twitter as a PLN - does your district recognize it as such?)

What about you would make us say, “REALLY? But you’re a librarian!”?
I do not have a collection of books at home. My philosophy is to share the books. No one can read them if they are sitting in my house! So I tend to donate a lot of books to my library, friends, and family..

Five favorite books of the past five years.
The Doll People by Ann M. Martin
(grownups) Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (A friend lent me this & I loved!)
(grownups)Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell
Wonder by R. J. Polacio
Arnie the Doughnut by Laurie Keller

That was WAY hard! (So, I've heard ;0))

Thank you for the opportunity to share what I do and who I am!

Thanks so much for stopping in, Tammy!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Paperback Release of Meradeth Houston's COLORS LIKE MEMORIES!

Today on the blog I'm pleased to welcome my friend, Meradeth Houston, whose debut YA, COLORS LIKE MEMORIES is now available in paperback! At these places:

Hi! *waves* I'm incredibly excited to announce the paperback release for COLORS LIKE MEMORIES. The ebook release has been a blast, and it is especially awesome to actually hold the book in my hands :) Here are three things I think you might find fun about the book:

1. It's got a pretty sweet cover :) And I'm rather partial to the blurb:

Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of.

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

2. There have been some pretty awesome things said about it (if I do say so myself, but I may be a bit biased). See:

-"...I applaud the author for providing a writing that has the power to encourage, inspire, help, heal and simply serve as a platform to stimulate communication for any reader (regardless of age), who is feeling hopeless. If you are looking for an interesting read, this book is well written, interesting and has several positive messages that the reader can take away from the story. I would recommend this book to any reader." TWC Amazon Review

-"Colors Like Memories was an amazing YA paranormal romance. It will make you soar with wings then drop you off and catch you once you get near the ground." Michelle Kullman Amazon Review

-"COLORS LIKE MEMORIES is an achingly beautiful tale of love, loss, and new beginnings. Meradeth Houston writes with a clean, clear prose that packs a punch. She carries her characters through the full spectrum of emotions, and the reader is swept along in the journey." RunningnWriting Amazon Review

3. You don't have to wait for book #2! THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE, also set in the Sary world, is already available, and you can grab a copy at Amazon, B&N, or my publisher MuseItUp Publishing. Book #3, SURRENDER THE SKY, will also be released soon :)

You can pre-order COLORS LIKE MEMORIES at my publisher's site: MuseItUp Publishing, or find it on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Ebook copies are also available on all vendor sites!

Those are my three things, and if that's not enough to interest you, well, I've also got a little giveaway running for a book of your choice. Check out the rafflecopter below :)

A bit about Meradeth:

>She’s a Northern California girl, but now lives and teaches anthropology in Montana.
>When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
>She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
>If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.

Find her online:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct link to Rafflecopter.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I'm a Pitch Wars Mentor!

So the fabulous Brenda Drake hosts an amazing contest for unagented writers with unpublished manuscripts - part of the deal is you apply to be mentored by one of 47 mentors. This mentor works with you and your entire manuscript, as well as your pitch, to prepare you for the agent round in January.

For full details and the exact dates, go HERE.

Anyway, I'm a mentor and I'm super excited to participate and work with someone out there who's chasing the dream.

I can't tell you my wish list yet, but I will be mentoring a young adult manuscript, and you can see by my list of books read that my taste is varied!

Anyway, I look forward to you stopping back in November when I'll be posting my wish list!

Monday, October 7, 2013

KEEPER OF WONDER: An Interview With Julia Elizabeth DeRuiter

Today I'm excited to introduce my first international librarian on the blog. Julia De Ruiter lives in NEW ZEALAND! Now forever known as "that place Lord of the Rings" was filmed. You can find Julia on Twitter at @JuliaDeRuiter

Let's begin!

Tell us about your library? (Where, what, anything quirky or cool?) What's your job title and description?

 I work in a medium sized public library in Oamaru, New Zealand. We serve a wide range of patrons- kids, retirees, families, students & tourists from all over the world

 My job title is officially Library Assistant but I’ve managed to take on a few extra jobs above my pay grade ;) ( If you don’t ask,you don’t get right?!) I take care of holds, serials, children's processing, social media, displays and I run Wriggle and Rhyme ( a music and movement group for 0-2 year olds) along with my colleague every Friday. I also have one rostered shift on the circulation/reference desk per day. 

I  feel very lucky that I can say I genuinely love my job - every day is different. Something a lot of people find interesting is that I never planned on becoming a librarian- I just kind of fell into it. I was planning on working for a year before going to study Occupational Therapy. This job came up and I thought it sounded awesome. Little did I know I would still be here four years later and totally committed to libraries and the communities they serve. I’ve been studying through correspondence since I started at the library and recently completed my Level 5 Diploma. I’m currently studying towards a Certificate in Literature and Services for Children and Young People. It’s been a crazy ride at times; balancing work & family life with community commitments, a lot of travel and study but I don’t regret a second of it.

Libraries rock! (Yes they do! And I love how you fell into a career that fits you!)

What was the most recent book request?
 The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly has been super popular in our library over the last couple of months.

What was your most recent book suggestion to a patron?
 One woman was fixated with Phillipa Gregory novels and didn’t want to read anything else but I convinced her to try The Wild Hunt by Elizabeth Chadwick. She came back raving and put holds on two more. Job done. (Yay, you!)

What was your most recent book suggestion to a friend?
 I suggested my friend read I am number four by Pittacus Lore. I’m really into reading YA fiction, mainly to keep on top of the trends and for readers advisory purposes but I do enjoy the majority of the books I read.

If you could sit down to your favorite beverage with any current kidlit author, who would it be? And why?
 I would sit down for a vanilla latte with the one and only Oliver Jeffers. He is so cool! I love the quirky nature of his picture books especially the ‘Incredible Book Eating Boy”. (Now I am craving a vanilla latte)

What book do you wish you had in your library (professional or personal or both) but don’t? (this can be something written or something you’ve never seen)
 There is a picture book called "Bony-legs" by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Dirk Zimmer which my sister loved when we were little. I’ve always wanted to read it again, because it had such good memories. Professionally, I would love if our library held more books about social media and marketing in libraries because that’s an area I’m particularly interested in. "The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Social Media" by Laura Solomon is one that we have recently purchased and I highly recommend it. (That sounds really interesting)

What about you would make us say, “REALLY? But you’re a librarian!” ?
 Hmmm, that’s a tricky one. I’m the opposite of the traditional stereotyped librarian so I cop quite a bit of flak when I tell people I’m a librarian. They immediately say ‘Oh, you don’t look like a librarian-where are your glasses, hair in a bun and pearls?”. Drives me up the wall! Probably the main thing is that my books aren’t organised in any kind of logical sequence. They are just stacked in ways I think look pretty. I will admit though, that when I was in high school everything in my wardrobe was colour coded, and hung in height order within the colour categories.

Five favorite books of the past five years. 

 Argh! What a mean question! I’ve read so many great books but I guess if I had to pick five mine would be : (looks around sheepishly)

The Last Quarter of the Moon by Chi Zijian: I loved the way this book was written- it truly takes you to another world. I was very excited when the translator of the book commented on the book review I did on my blog!

Saving June by Hannah HarringtonI read this as an ebook while I was on my summer holiday and something about it really appealed to my wild nature. (This has been on my TBR pile for a while. Guess it's time to buy it)

Kitchen Chinese by Ann MahI love food and the descriptions in this book made my mouth water! (Food books are always a win!)

Divergent by Veronica RothI read this before it became a ‘thing’ and became immediately obsessed. I’m hanging out for the third book Allegiant to be released late October

City of Bones by Cassandra ClareI also read this before it became popular. I like how it transported me to a completely different world and how well the characters were developed.

Thanks for stopping by, Julia! And thanks for the recs!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Friday Five otherwise known as "What's been Happening!"

Hello everyone - I feel like such a slacker blogger in relation to personal posts, so I'm throwing up a quick Friday Five.

1. This video's been around for a while but it gives me great joy. One, the timing of the music and the cat is PERFECT. Two, I used to have a Siamese named Skeeter who had perfected the move at the end. We called him Ninja cat as he'd fly like this cat, but vertically with all four paws out in front, when he was attacking dogs. Anyway, enjoy.

2. My edits are pretty much DONE! We went to the copyeditor on Tuesday, so now I have some time off from NO PLACE TO FALL. AAAAAAAHHHHHH........wish I could lounge on a beach in Tahiti.

3. I attended SCBWI Carolinas this past weekend and it was great. I saw old friends and made new friends and as always left inspired and filled with the well that is kidlit. Dan Yaccarino gave a hugely inspiring ending keynote speech - he's awesome. It was hard to return to high school teacher land after being in writer land.

4. I haven't been riding like I should. I feel so overwhelmed between teaching, art club, writing, life. Trying not to be guilty about it. Pretty hard as I had equal doses of Jewish and Catholic guilt as a child. But I've secured hay for the winter and they are loved, so I suppose it's better than some horses' situations.

5. Tomorrow I'm going to the brand new Trader Joe's in Asheville. I've been hearing about this utopia of a grocery store for YEARS and this will be my virgin voyage. Anything I shouldn't pass up?

That's a recap. How are you?