Laurie Wallmark Presents: A new PB about Grace Hopper, Queen of Computer Code.

WHAT 3 WORDS BEST DESCRIBE GRACE HOPPER?

Curious. Persistent. Unique                       

HOW WAS SHE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TERM “COMPUTER BUG”?
The term “bug” to represent a problem in machinery pre-dated Grace by quite a bit. Thomas Edison coined the term in the 1870s to refer to a problem in a telegraph system he was designing. Grace was the first one to use it in reference to computers, though. Her team found an actual bug, a moth, stuck in a computer relay. This “computer bug” caused a program to malfunction.

HOW DID GRACE SERVE HER COUNTRY?

Grace was proud to serve her country in the United States Navy. From the beginning, her service always involved work with computers. She retired at age 79 as a Rear Admiral. Her feelings about the Navy are summed up with the following quotation: “I’ve received many honors and I’m grateful for them; but I’ve already received the highest award I’ll ever receive, and that has been the privilege and honor of serving very proudly in the United States Navy.”

GRACE SEEMED TO HAVE A FEW SAYING’S OR BELIEFS ON HOW TO GET THROUGH LIFE.  WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I love the self-confidence she exhibited at age nine when she wrote, “The world will be a better place / When all agree with me.” Don’t we all feel that way now and then?

Click here to join Laurie as she travels from blog to blog to introduce her picture book biography, Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code.

Laurie Wallmark
www.lauriewallmark.com    

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code (Sterling, May 2017)

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine (Creston, 2015)

 

Connie Colon Presents: School Rules!

Connie T. Colón is a Children’s Author in the Apollo Beach, Florida area. On April 3, 2017, Connie will release Principal Kidd through Foundations Books, LLC, a traditional publishing company. School Rules! is Connie’s first children’s book and Book 1 in the Principal Kidd series for children ages 7-11.

Connie T. Colón is a graduate of Syracuse University and former advertising executive, Connie has a degree in art but now also paints with her words.

“When I read about Michael Sessions, who had become mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan at 18, while still in high  school — I thought that concept would be fun for a kids story. (And yes, I used to be a fan of the show Doogie Howser MD!) This concept began as a proposal for a kids animated TV series, complete with a pilot episode written — but I was advised to start with a book series.”

Connie had the unique opportunity to work one-on-one with award winning author, Jerry Spinelli at the Highlights Workshop in Chautauqua. An active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Connie had served as a Committee Member for the NJ Chapter. She has sold over 60 articles and over 100 photos to publications including Highlights, Fun For Kidz, AppleSeeds, and Faces. Her ongoing feature “Dear Tommy” had run in Faces magazine for over seven years. Connie occasionally teaches magazine writing workshops at SCBWI events and loves to visit schools. She is working on several manuscripts for humorous chapter book series based on her television animation concepts.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014953950396

https://twitter.com/ConnieTColon

https://www.instagram.com/connietcolon/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/connie-travisano-colon-17120a47

http://www.conniecolon.com

http://www.FoundationsBooks.net

SCHOOL RULES! (Book #1)  A children’s book for ages 7-11

Eleven-year-old whiz, Oliver Kidd, had no trouble using his genius IQ to skip grades and zoom through the accelerated college program. But after landing a job as the world’s first kid principal back at his old elementary school, Oliver faces sabotage from the jealous vice principal, Mr. Dagger, along with challenges of a kid in charge of the teachers, parents, and students. Good thing his trusty sidekick and school mascot, Chelsea the chicken, is on his side. Principal Kidd scores points with the students with his new rules, until the town health inspector shows up and threatens to shut the doors on Eggshell Elementary. Join in on the giggles and mayhem as Oliver Kidd and his friends since kindergarten try to save Eggshell Elementary. (Just watch your step, you may encounter chicken poop!)

Here is the link for the book trailer :

https://youtu.be/DJnpnJ6DtPU

 

Interview with Detective Wilcox about The Case of the Poached Egg.

Today I am meeting with Detective Wilcox, #2 Missing Food Investigator on the force at Ed’s Farm, to discuss the latest developments in The Case of the Poached Egg.

DBJ: Is it true Henrietta’s precious egg, Penny, was egg-napped on the eve of Farmer Ed’s Big Speggtacular?

DW: At 10:00 am on Tuesday Henrietta Hen reported the disappearance of her egg, Penny.

DBJ: Was it an egg-napping?

DW: It’s too soon to tell.

DBJ: Any suspects?

DW: I can’t comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, but I can tell you we plan on speaking with particular animals of interest.

DBJ: Do you think Penny’s disappearance has something to do with the Speggtacular?

DW: We’re exploring all possible angles.  

DBJ: Was fowl play involved?

DW: On a farm with over 100 hungry thieving animals, it’s always a possibility.

DBJ: Are those cheese donuts on your desk? I’ve never had one.

DW: Help yourself.

DBJ: Do you know how they came about?

DW: The cheese donuts? Some crazy children’s book author named Robin Newman came up with the idea. Now I’ve got to scramble if I’m going to crack this case. Let’s hope this case finishes sunny side up. Sunny side up, indeed.

About Robin Newman:  

Raised in New York and Paris, Robin was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs and peacocks. She’s the author of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake, A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery (Creston Books) and Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep (Creston Books). The second book in the Wilcox & Griswold mystery series,

The Case of the Poached Egg (Creston Books), releases April 2017 (but is already available for pre-order at your favorite independent bookstore, Amazon and Barnes & Noble) and No Peacocks! (Sky Pony Press), flies onto bookshelves fall 2017. Robin lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels.

Website: www.robinnewmanbooks.com

Twitter: @robinnewmanbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RobinNewmanBooks/339179099505049

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author Annie Silvestro: Why I ♥ Libraries.

I  ♥ Libraries: By Annie Silvestro

Libraries are my very favorite places.  They are special, sacred places of joy and discovery.  Safe places to learn, to engage, to connect, to grow.

Libraries are places filled with magic.

To be a part of the magic, and thus a little bit magic ourselves, all we have to do is enter.

And when we do, the whole entire world – fictional or factual or fantasy – is ours for the taking. With the help of one very important card of course.   bbc-library-card-front

I remember the proud moment when I obtained my very first library card as a child. I felt responsible. Giddy. Powerful! I treasured books and the idea that I could pick any ones I wanted and take them home with me to read brought me immeasurable pleasure. It still does.

Of course for a reader, a library is as enticing as a candy store. For a writer, the library is also an invaluable resource. Libraries expose us to a world of inspiration, to a diversity of voices, to mentor texts modern and classic. Not to mention books about writing and craft and language. The library provides endless opportunities to spark our own imaginations.

The library inspired me to write BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB.    

bbc-cover-from-prh-websiteIn the story, Bunny loves books so much he sneaks into the library to get them. He wants to share in the magic, too.

When Bunny’s friends catch wind of what he’s been up to, they want in on the action. Not only do they want books, they want to choose exactly which ones they’ll read. So off they go to do just that. And who could blame them?

The library contains something for the reader –or writer- in each of us. And if a person (or animal) can’t immediately find that perfect book? The librarian can make a recommendation.

Because they’re a little bit magic, too.

BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB is a love letter to libraries.

My very favorite places.      as-headshot-v3

Annie Silvestro is a lover of books who reads and writes as much as possible and can often be found shuffling piles of them around so she has a place to sit or someplace to put her teacup. Her picture books include BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss (Doubleday Books for Young Readers), MICE SKATING, illustrated by Teagan White (Sterling, Fall 2017), and THE CHRISTMAS TREE WHO LOVED TRAINS, illustrated by Paola Zakimi (HarperCollins, Fall 2018).

Annie lives by the beach in NJ with her husband and two boys who like to read, and a cat who does not. Visit Annie online at: www.anniesilvestro.com and on Twitter and Instagram: @anniesilvestro

One lucky reader can win a signed copy of BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB! To enter, leave a comment below.  Darlene will put your name in a hat.  If you share this post on FB or Tweet it on Twitter, she will add your name again (Just let her know what you did).  US RESIDENTS ONLY, PLEASE.  Winner will be announced here on 2-15-17.

 

 

 

 

Rodney Whittenberg Presents Live Interviews With Civil Rights Leaders.

For today’s post it is my joy and pleasure to bring an interview with Emmy Award Winning Composer RODNEY WHITTENBERG, whose new CD WE STOOD UP, explores the experiences of civil rights leaders through interviews and songs.  Sit back and enjoy this amazing project.

Nancy Rogers (NR): Lincoln Financial Foundation

First, a little background for context…Our company’s association with our namesake, Abraham Lincoln, goes back to our founding. In 1905, our founders asked permission of President Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, to use his father’s name for their new company – to reflect the ideals with which they intended to operate. 

Fast-forward to 2016…We Stood Up actually grew out of a 3-year initiative – which we called “Lincoln’s Legacy” – to celebrate the 150th anniversaries of the Emancipation Proclamation (2013) and the 13th Amendment (2015).  As part of the Lincoln’s Legacy initiative, we recorded oral history interviews with a wide range of people who spoke about how the ideals of freedom, opportunity and equality have evolved during their lifetimes. It was our intent from the beginning to produce an anthology of a selection of the interviews. We began with the premise that children would be most influenced – and perhaps most inspired – by other children. In many cases, the interview questions were posed by grandchildren, relatives or mentees of the interviewees – and you can sense the personal nature of some of the questions and answers.  We provided some suggested questions, but the kids were also encouraged to ask about what interested them. In several cases, these recording sessions were the first time that the children had asked questions about how their grandparents or mentors had felt about the things that happened when they were young. That realization helped shape the tone and spirit of We Stood Up. The addition of songs and poems seemed like a natural way to complement the stories being shared – and another vehicle for communicating complex ideas and feelings.     we-stood-up-cd-cover

The creative process was amazing on so many levels. First, there were the oral histories. Our own employees videotaped the interviews. They went to locations the interviewees had chosen, where they were surrounded by people and things that were important to them.

For Julian Bond, it was Florida during a family vacation; for Franklin McCain, it was the Woolworth lunch counter exhibit at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro; for Andrew Young, it was the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA in Atlanta; for Shirley Franklin, it was the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the museum she oversees as board chair; for several others it was their own homes. The locations themselves informed the creative process. And of course, the stories and reflections shared during the interviews.

Our video team members were in awe, and so honored to be playing a part in something so meaningful. They worked countless hours to get the edits just right, and to do justice to the content. Our Lincoln staff has continued to work on the project, and they remain committed advocates today.

But it became clear to us as we moved forward that we needed a dedicated professional, with experience in producing both films and records, and we were introduced to Rodney Whittenberg of Melodyvision – who has been our partner in this project for over 2 years.  His creativity and guidance have been invaluable, and he has brought talent and passion in equal measure to the production of We Stood Up. Then there was the music. The music evolved the most significantly over the course of the project.

At first, we thought we would produce a spoken word album. As the album took shape, we realized that we needed a narrator to provide context and connect the interviews. Then, we began to realize that music would raise it to a different level – from an artistic standpoint, an entertainment standpoint, and an emotional standpoint.

 All of the songs are original, and are tailored to the interview content, and Rodney wrote and performed in all of the songs.  One of the truly gratifying things about this whole experience was the willingness of professional musicians and singers to donate their time and talent because they believed in the project. We had contributing performers who specialize in children’s music, but we also had R&B legend Sarah Dash – who couldn’t have been more supportive of the album. On the track, “Someone Thinks,” Sarah sings with her niece, and another niece runs the school where the kids’ chorus comes from.  The music was written for kids, but with adults in mind, too – so that it’s enjoyable during a long car ride with the family!  We also wanted it to feel new and old at the same time…to pay homage to the civil rights era, bus still sound current and relevant today.     

Rodney Whittenberg: Emmy Award Winning Composer.  Songwriter Composer Producer – We Stood Up:  l_r_whittenberg_001

For me this was a passion project. From the moment I first spoke with Nancy and learned about the Lincoln Legacy project I was hooked. I have been working on educational and art projects for the longest time and this made me think we could create something really special. The process started with listening to the interviews they had  created, then traveling around and doing interviews. The high point for me was The John Lewis interview. He was so inspiring, his commitment and courage seams superhuman.

The songs were inspired by the interviews and the stories. Working with legendary singer Sarah Dash was a high point of the process. She really helped and connected me with Sprout performing arts school in Trenton NJ.

My favorite moment on the CD is “John Lewis on Non – Violence” in to the song “Love”.

The best part of the CD is that it’s free for teachers, schools, libraries, and it is available on iTunes.  All of the proceeds go to Boys and Girls club of Phila. 

a-3820397-1399737314-6298Rodney Whittenberg is founder of Melodyvision where he works as a Creative Consultant by using his skills as a composer / song writer/ multi instrumentalist, producer / engineer / filmmaker and educator. He brings a fresh and unique perspective to each client and project adding value that results in creative solutions to often complex problems. Rodney has composed music for over 34 films and TV shows, and countless dance performances. Projects include: Anthony Bourdain’s show a Cooks Tour; PBS POV Documentary The Camden 28; horror cult classics Infested and Return to Sleep Away Camp. He’s received a regional Emmy for his score for the TV Documentary Mother Dot’s Philadelphia and Best Sound Design at the Terror Film Festival for Toll Taker.  

Rodney’s work as a filmmaker centers around his passion for telling a story from start to finish in a creative way. Projects include: HBO Family segments 30X30: Kid Flicks; WHYY Wider Horizon educational spots; and numerous music videos and short-form documentaries. His most recent passion project is as co-producer of the feature-length documentary Caregivers: Their Passion, Their Pain, which was recently featured on Radio Times and written up in The Guardian.  More info at www.melodyvision.com

We Stood UP

https://www.lfg.com/public/aboutus/lincolnfinancialfoundation/lincolnslegacy/anthology

We Stood Up iTunes link

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/we-stood-up/id1157789980

Itunes

Sound-cloud Link

https://soundcloud.com/user-774801037/sets/we-stood-up-final-master/s-BgaIn

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.  ONE 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.