Book Giveaway: Heather Petty’s Lock & Mori

Just in time for the holidays!

Writing and Illustrating

Heather Petty has agreed to participate in our Holiday Book Giveaway Extravaganza with her new book LOCK & MORI.

All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

lori-and-lockBOOK DESCRIPTION:

Sherlock Holmes and Miss James “Mori” Moriarty may have closed their first case, but the mystery is far from over in the thrilling sequel to Lock & Mori, perfect for fans of Maureen Johnson and Sherlock.

You know their names. Now discover their beginnings.

Mori’s abusive father is behind bars…and she has never felt less safe. Threatening letters…

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Welcome to the World of Genies by KidLit Author Tara Crowl + Free Book

Today’s post is brought to you by Kid Lit Author TARA CROWL.  Here’s Tara:

In my middle-grade novels Eden’s Wish and Eden’s Escape (Disney-Hyperion), my protagonist, Eden, is a twelve-year-old genie who wants to be a regular girl and live on Earth. But for her, that’s impossible—at least, until she grants 999 wishes and completes her genie career. Until then, she’s stuck in the lamp with her masters, Xavier and Goldie, who have raised every genie who’s ever lived in the lamp.

But during the brief periods of time she’s spent on Earth granting wishes, Eden has fallen in love with the world. She isn’t content to wait. So in Eden’s Wish, she finds a way to escape her lamp, comes to Earth, and poses as a regular girl. In Eden’s Escape, her wish finally comes true when the lamp’s rules change to allow her to live on Earth while completing her genie career.

Eden is strong-willed, adventurous, and brave, and she definitely knows what she does and does not like. To help you get to know her, here are Eden’s 5 favorite things, and her 5 least favorite things.

Eden’s 5 Favorite Things

  1. Growing up in the lamp, Eden never got to see the sun. In Eden’s Wish, she describes her first sighting of it: “She couldn’t have imagined light like this. She was used to the soft glow of her chandelier and to the flickering of candles on the dining table. Now she saw they were thin imitations of the bright light that baked the Earth like a cake in an oven.” She’s baffled and enamored by the sun, and back in the lamp, she dreams about it.

2. In the lamp, Eden takes lessons in every subject, as well as special units on Lamp History and Granting for Genies. Her favorite subject is biology. She delights in learning about living things, and dogs are her favorite. She can identify every breed. When she goes to Earth and sees them in real life, she can’t contain her excitement.

3. New friends. When Eden arrives on Earth after escaping the lamp, she meets a brother and sister named Tyler and Sasha. They befriend her right away, and lie to their father so Eden can stay at their apartment and go to school with them. They end up forming a friendship that carries on through the series. In Eden’s Escape, Eden becomes close friends with her guardian, a jubilant genie alum named Pepper. Later, when she is summoned to Paris for a granting and has to go on the run, she makes friends with a French girl named Melodie. Eden loves making new friends, and they play a vital role in her adventures. She also learns a lot about how to be a good friend.

4. The ocean. When Eden first shows up on a San Diego beach, she’s elated to see the ocean. She’s only seen it once before, on a granting in Jamaica. She’s so excited that she runs in and gets tossed around by the waves. It’s so bad that she has to be rescued!

5. More than anything else, Eden loves and values freedom. That’s why, in Eden’s Wish, she takes a huge risk and escapes the lamp to chase after it.

Eden’s 5 Least Favorite Things

  1. Writing reports. After her first granting in Eden’s Wish, Eden’s master Xavier scolds her for the mischievous way she twisted the wisher’s wishes. He assigns her a written report on how the granting should have been handled. Eden hates being told what to do, and how to do it. But while she’s under her masters’ control, there’s not much she can do about it.

2. Being patient. Eden wants to live on Earth, but first she has to complete her career as a genie. That means granting 999 wishes. In Eden’s Wish, she thinks, “That could take fifty years, or forty, or maybe, if she was lucky, thirty.” She simply can’t imagine waiting that long.

3. Being trapped. In Eden’s Wish, Eden wonders, “How much potential could you live up to in a prison? Potential lay out there on Earth, not trapped in an antique oil lamp.” She is desperate to be free, and live outside the lamp’s boundaries.

4. Deceitful people. In the lamp, Eden is fascinated by a genie alum named Sylvana. Sylvana is the only alum who doesn’t have any granted wishes listed in the Lamp History course guide, and Eden can tell that Xavier and Goldie become uncomfortable when she asks about her. On Earth, Sylvana shows up at Eden’s school, pretending to be her mother. At first, Eden is thrilled to meet the alum she always wondered about and looked up to. She thinks she’s finally found someone who understands her. But eventually, she learns that Sylvana is trying to use her to acquire the lamp and its power for herself. From that point forward, Sylvana becomes Eden’s enemy—and Eden starts to be wary of deceit.

 5. Letting people down. In Eden’s Escape, now that she’s living her dream of being on Earth, Eden is focused on protecting the people she loves, and she’s frustrated when she falls short. At one point, she laments: “This time, she’d really made a mess of things. She’d let down everyone she cared about: not only Pepper and the Loyals, who she had no hope of rescuing now, but also her masters, who were still stuck in the lamp…She couldn’t seem to do the right thing.” You’ll have to read the books to see if she’s able to turn things around!

Thanks for having me, and happy reading!     

EDEN’S WISH (EDEN OF THE LAMP #1) BY M. TARA CROWL

Age range: 9-12                  edenswish_cvr_5-20-15Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (September 1, 2015)

All twelve years of Eden’s life have been spent in an antique oil lamp. She lives like a princess inside her tiny, luxurious home; but to Eden, the lamp is nothing but a prison. She hates being a genie. All she wants, more than anything, is freedom.

When Eden finds a gateway to Earth within the lamp, she takes her chance and enters the world she loves. And this time, she won’t be sent back after three wishes.

Posing as the new kid at a California middle school, Eden revels in all of Earth’s pleasures–but quickly learns that this world isn’t as perfect as she always thought it was. Eden soon finds herself in the middle of a centuries-old conflict between powerful immortals. A ruthless organization run by a former genie will stop at nothing to acquire the lamp and its power–even hurt Tyler and Sasha, the new mortal friends who have given Eden a home. To save her friends and protect the lamp’s magic, Eden must decide once and for all where she belongs.

EDEN’S ESCAPE (EDEN OF THE LAMP #2) BY M. TARA CROWL

Age range: 9-12

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (September 6, 2016)   edens-escape_final-2

Eden’s new life on earth begins in New York City under the guidance of her new guardian: Pepper, a petite, bubbly genie alum who’s also a Broadway actress. Before she has a chance to settle in, though, Eden is whisked away for a granting–only to find herself trapped in a laboratory.

David Brightly, owner of the world’s leading tech company, cares more about tapping into the lamp’s power than making a wish and starts performing tests on Eden. With Brightly’s plasma shield around the lamp, Eden has no way home. Left without a choice, she escapes the lab and goes on the run. After her daring exit, Eden finds herself on the streets of Paris–home to Electra’s headquarters. Left in a strange city with a price on her head (courtesy of scheming Brightly), Eden has to keep her wits about her. She dons a chic disguise and flits around Paris incognito, investigating Brightly Tech. Assisted by Pepper and her old adversary Bola, as well as some new friends, Eden embarks on a quest to retrieve the lamp and protect the secrets of the genie legacy.

PRAISE FOR THE EDEN OF THE LAMP SERIES

“Crowl’s imaginative story line rings with both perception and humor.”  ―Kirkus Reviews 

“Middle grade readers will enjoy the children’s autonomy and Eden’s humorous difficulties in grasping how school works…Hand this to readers who like their magical fantasy combined with middle school drama.”  ―School Library Journal

“An imaginative romp with a smart, snarky protagonist and a humorous interpretation of the world as we know it…[Eden] is also just plain entertaining, with a sassy attitude and a clever wit that saves her on more than one occasion.”   ―BCCB

 

_mg_3301-croppedTara Crowl grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She studied Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, then received an MA in Creative Writing at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She lives in New York City.

Tara is happy to give away a signed copy of EDEN’S WISH.  Just leave a comment  here and share the post on social media to enter.  ON name will be drawn at random from those entered.  A winner will be announced on this blog on 12-15-16.

Karen Fortunati: Author of THE WEIGHT OF ZERO.

With the holidays around the corner, I am reblogging posts of some excellent books to remind readers that books make great gifts.  Here’s one on the YA novel THE WEIGHT OF ZERO…an award winning debut from author Karen Fortunati.

I had the pleasure of meeting Karen Fortunati a few years ago at a writer’s retreat in Avalon NJ.  We shared critiques and bonded over writing, the beach and sharing life stories.  Her brilliant writing stood out then and has only gotten better.  Karen’s debut YA, THE WEIGHT OF ZERO (Delacorte Press), will be out this fall and has already gotten raves and literary recognition.  It is with great pleasure that I feature her on today’s post.  Here’s Karen:

What’s In A Name? by Karen Fortunati

How do writers come up with their characters’ names? Divine inspiration? Subconscious memories intersecting with imagination? Focused creativity? Or just flat out making it up as we go along? For me, it’s a combo of all these methods. Here’s a little insight on the naming of some of my characters in The Weight of Zero.

Catherine Pulaski: The main character popped into my head with her first name firmly established. She was Catherine and there were no bones about it. Since writing her story, I’ve asked myself why “Catherine?” I’m guessing it’s because of my aunt/godmother, Catherine Lonski. Like my mother, she’s been a constant, positive and inspirational influence in my life. In addition, my mom has been interchanging my name with her sister’s for so long, the name feels like mine.

My mother, Margaret Angelo, Aunt Catherine (Lonski), Aunt Marilyn (Librizzi) (l to r) and little Emmy

My mother, Margaret Angelo, Aunt Catherine (Lonski), Aunt Marilyn (Librizzi) (l to r) and little Emmy

Now my fictional Catherine didn’t come with a last name so I had to choose one. Having gone through an American Revolution obsession several years ago, I decided to use a general’s name. I choose Casimir Pulaski, a Polish citizen who became enamored with the cause for independence. Once he got to America, he turned out to be a brilliant tactician and has been called the “Father of the American Cavalry.”

http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/chron/civilwarnotes/pulaski.html

So why him? First off, I’m part Polish. Second, the Pulaski name is familiar to me. I grew up in New Jersey and worked most summers at my father’s pharmacy in Newark. My favorite landmarks for the commute to the store were Newark Airport and the Pulaski Skyway, a huge elevated structure always hulking in the distance.

http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/roads/pulaski/history.shtm

Coincidentally, my dad owned a pharmacy on Pulaski Street in Newark prior to buying the one I worked in for most of my childhood. After writing the story, I feel like I see the Pulaski name everywhere. During a summer trip, we passed signs for the Pulaski Highway in Maryland and it gave me a little thrill. On a visit to the University of Scranton, my alma mater, I discovered a statue of Pulaski in town. I don’t think I had ever noticed it before.

 

Me at the General Pulaski Monument in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Me at the General Pulaski Monument in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Now, in writing this blog post, I’ve learned of another personal connection to General Pulaski. The general died on October 11th which also happens to be the release date of The Weight of Zero. In fact, October 11th is officially General Pulaski Memorial Day. I think the coincidence is weird but in a good way, like I made the right choice in choosing “Pulask

Jody Pulaski: Another name I purposely choose was Catherine’s mother, Jody. Originally, the mother’s name was Caroline (after one of my close friends) but due to the similarity of the two names, my editor thought something different might work better. This time the name jumped out at me – Jody – after one of my oldest and dearest friends. When I needed another name, I had to choose Stephanie, after another oldest and dearest and the remaining third of our friend triumvirate.

Jody Tole, Stephanie Hadley and me (l to r)

Jody Tole, Stephanie Hadley and me (l to r)

Jane Talmadge: I knew I would be naming one of my most favorite characters after my maternal grandmother, Jane. But my grandmother’s last name didn’t feel right so I used an old author pseudonym trick my younger brother Steven had told me about well before I even considered trying to write a book: Use your middle name and street name of house you grew up in. So I choose my grandmother’s first name and the street she raised my mother and her siblings on in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Aunt Darlene:  Again, this was an easy one. I choose Darlene after Darlene Beck-Jacobson. I met Darlene at one of Kathy Temean’s Avalon Full Manuscript Writers Retreats a few months before the release of Darlene’s first book, the wonderful Wheels of Change. From the very start, she’s been a continually supportive and encouraging writing ally and I’m so grateful to have met her.

It’s funny just how much your own experiences inform your writing. In The Weight of Zero, it’s the relationships between the women in the story  – mother, daughter, grandmother, aunt, friend – that help build a supportive network for Catherine.  Looking back on the names I choose, I’m thinking that maybe my writing (and naming) was one way to honor these relationships in my own life.

BDD_WeightOfZero_FB_Cover_1P_NO_DATE

The Weight of Zero: Contemporary Young Adult, Delacorte Press

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its own living death on her again.

But Zero’s return is delayed due to unexpected and meaningful relationships that lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. These relationships along with the care of a gifted psychiatrist alter Catherine’s perception of her diagnosis as a death sentence. This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how some of the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.

GOODREADS

Website: www.karenfortunati.com

Twitter: @karenfortunati

Facebook: @AuthorKarenFortunati        WeightofZero_front cover new12.indd

 Recognition:

A SUMMER/FALL 2016 INDIES INTRODUCE SELECTION

A SHELF AWARENESS BEA2016 YA  BUZZ BOOK

A BARNES AND NOBLE 2016 MOST ANTICIPATED DEBUT 

Kirkus: “Catherine’s acerbically witty narrative voice is razor sharp and often raw, and the confessional tone of her present-tense narration makes clear how overwhelming her pain is…. An honest, informative, and ultimately optimistic novel about living with mental illness.”        re3669

Darlene’s Review of THE WEIGHT OF ZERO:

Catherine – Cat – Pulaski is a high school junior navigating the ups and downs of adolescent friendships and relationships.  She’s also preparing herself for the dreaded appearance of Zero by stockpiling medicine for its inevitable return.  Cat is bipolar and Zero is the crippling depression that makes it impossible to live a normal life.  A life that isn’t defined by her mother’s constant monitoring, therapy sessions, and a mood rating scale from 0-10.  Zero found her once right after her grandmother died.  Cat is determined not to let it get her again without a plan.

            This amazing YA debut gives an honest and true voice to the silent and often un talked about world of mental illness.  It is a story with humor, heart and hope. A story that will stay with you for a long time.  It should be required reading for all high school students.

 

 

 

 

Go Take a Hike: by Marilyn Ostermiller

If you need a reason to enjoy the great outdoors, why not take a hike?   With more than 60,000 miles of trails in the National Trail System across the 50 states, there is no lack of opportunity to go for a walk.   The benefits of walking are well documented: eases stress, great for cardio/vascular and joint health, improves mental function and helps maintain or even lose weight.  There are even locations that are open for hiking year round.

To find a hiking trail close to home or in an area you plan to visit, enter the zip code at www.Trails.com. It list locations and the length of each trail.

To set off on the right foot, the Wilderness Society offers 10 tips, among them:

  • Keep it simple. Select a hike that isn’t too long or too strenuous. If you are introducing children to hiking, pick a trail that has an interesting feature, like a lake, stream or waterfall, to give them something to look forward to.
  • Plan for frequent energy stops because hiking requires a lot of energy.
  • Leave no trace. Take a ziplock plastic bag large enough to hold all the trash you are likely to generate.

For the full list, visit http://wilderness.org/blog/take-your-kids-hiking-10-tips-make-adventure-fun-whole-family

Be prepared. Take the 10 Essentials including:                  file0001233456056

  • water and electrolytes
  • food and salty snacks
  • flashlight or headlamp
  • first aid kit
  • sunscreen
  • hat
  • sunglasses
  • rain jacket
  • spray bottle
  • good attitude

Learn what makes each item essential, at the National Parks Service website  https://www.nps.gov/grca/learn/photosmultimedia/hike_smart-02.htm

What you wear depends on whether you are hiking around town or someplace more ambitious. Basic apparel includes sneakers or boots, socks that aren’t going to cause blisters, long pants to avoid scratches and poison ivy, and a light weight, long-sleeved shirt that will wick away perspiration.

Among the books that will introduce children to hiking:

The Book on Hiking by Andy Dragt. This is a basic introduction to hiking for youngsters 10 to 18 years old. The focus is hiking in the Canadian Rockies and the preparation, gear, and knowledge required to do so. Also included are wildlife, survival techniques and the benefits of hiking with a club.

Walk on the Wild Side, written and illustrated by Nicholas Oldland, is for children 3 to 7 years old. One day, a bear, a moose and a beaver go for a walk in the mountains. To make the hike more exciting, they decide to race to the top. But soon the friends fall into deep trouble and one of them must find a way to save the day.

 

Marilyn OstermillerMarilyn Ostermiller is a long-time business journalist who now writes for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.

 

 

Just One Thing from Author Nancy Viau!

When Darlene asked me to write a post about my new middle grade, I wasn’t sure what I’d say that wouldn’t give away one of the surprises within the plot. Then it hit me—KA-BOOM! I’ll give away a book, so you can see for yourself.

Here’s a bit about how Just One Thing! (illustrated by Timothy Young) came to be:

Having raised two sons (and two daughters, but that’s beside the point), I wanted to write from a boy’s point of view. So naturally, in the beginning stages, I asked them, “What were your memories of growing up?” Their answers: hanging out with friends, the traumatic move from PA to NJ, water gun fights, bikes, soccer, gymnastics, goofing off when homework was due, school projects, road trips to South Philly to visit relatives and eat cheesesteaks, and more. I also asked guys I connected with on the Blue Boards, and they chimed in with: the Booger Wall at school, whoopee cushions, playground obstacles courses, bullies, and nicknames.  (I can’t find these guys on the boards anymore, but Adam, Marcus, and Ryan, if you’re reading this, I promised you a copy for helping me, so contact me.)

Bottom line, many of these adventures became part of Anthony Pantaloni’s quest to find one thing he does well; one thing that replaces the awful nickname he got tagged with in fifth grade, and one thing he could be known for before he moves on to middle school. We all have those things that contribute to our identity. For kids, it’s more profound and constantly changing. How many of you remember that friend who was obsessed with horses, or the jokester who made funny faces behind the teacher’s back, or an amazing athlete, or extremely talented musician?

Just One Thing! is available at bookstores and online. Oh, I almost forgot! You can doodle in the book, but of course, only if it’s your copy. And only if you promise to contemplate, what’s your one thing?              just-one-thing-cover

Nancy Viau no longer worries about finding her one thing for she has found quite a few things she loves, like being a mom, writing, traveling, and working as a librarian assistant. She is the author of the picture books City Street Beat, Look What I Can Do! and Storm Song, and an additional middle-grade novel, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head. Nancy grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA and now resides in South Jersey. www.NancyViau.com/ @NancyViau1

To win a copy of JUST ONE THING, Leave a comment on what your one thing is and how/when you discovered it.  Darlene will draw a name at random and announce the winner here on Wednesday, 12-7-16.

 

 

 

NYT Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2016

Writing and Illustrating

The 2016 New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books
in alphabetical order:

nyt1hungermountain-articlelargeThe Cat From Hunger Mountain

Written and illustrated by Ed Young

The wealthy, selfish Lord Cat lives in wasteful luxury high on a mountain and treats his servants with contempt, until a drought brings hunger and he is forced to change his ways. With complex collages that mix photographs, torn paper, string and other materials, Young creates a stunning visual symphony with a surprising and unsettling emotional power.

32 pp. Philomel Books. $17.99.

nyt2dead-bird-articlelargeThe Dead Bird

By Margaret Wise Brown. Illustrated by Christian Robinson.

Brown’s quiet 1938 story of children who find a dead bird in the woods and give it a proper burial gets an exuberant, emotionally resonant update from Robinson, who moves the setting to an urban park and gives one child fairy wings, another a fox costume. Our reviewer, Mark Levine, praised Robinson’s “bold and…

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THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR.

As we approach another Thanksgiving, I am reminded that for all the uncertainty and turmoil throughout the world, I have blessings worth celebrating this Thanksgiving Season.  Love of family and friends. Food for my family, and the resources to provide food for those in need.  Good health, employment.  And those “free” things we always take for granted: sunshine, water, kindness, helping hands, laughter, love.

Here’s to counting our blessings this Thanksgiving…for me, they far outweigh the trouble.  Here’s a simple recipe for a breakfast or brunch treat that can be made ahead and frozen until ready to eat.  Let the kids help and be part of the celebration.

APPLESAUCE CARROT MUFFINS             applesauce-arrot-walnut-muffins

3/4 C sugar    1/4 C oil (I used coconut, but you can use whatever you choose).

2 C unsweetened applesauce            1 C shredded carrots         3 eggs.

Mix these ingredients together until blended.   Set aside.

Dry Ingredients: 

2 C flour ( I use a mix of oat flour, whole wheat and white).  2 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg, cloves, ginger.   Ad this to the wet mixture and stir until blended.  Optional:  Add one C chopped walnuts and/or diced apple.

Pour into paper lined muffin pans.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Makes about 16 muffins.

While they’re baking, here is a link to some great books that teach kids how to be thankful.

http://www.readbrightly.com/books-that-show-kids-what-it-means-to-be-thankful/?ref=PRH0563577803&aid=randohouseinc13256-20&linkid=PRH0563577803&cdi=2AEB03AD52D94BE9E0534FD66B0A7FAD

May your blessings be many this holiday season!