Release Day-Louise Galveston, By The Grace Of Todd

Today we’re talking with Louise Galveston, author of the middle grade humorous adventure, By The Grace of Todd.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

Todd’s room borders on Hoarders-level messy. We’re talking Roomageddon here. When his mom gives him the ultimatum to clean it or miss his best friend’s birthday bash, Todd makes an amazing discovery: he has created an entire civilization of ant-sized people from the sheer grossness on his filthy sock. The “Toddlians” put their faith in their all-powerful creator, but can the kid who can’t even keep a hermit crab alive save them from Max Loving, the biggest bully at Wakefield Middle School?

I think one of the coolest things about this book are how many pieces of “me” went into it. For instance, I was a science geek as a kid (although not as smart as Todd’s brainy neighbor, Lucy), I had poodles growing up (though none as evil as Todd’s mom’s demon dog, Princess VanderPuff), I had hermit crabs (which met with better fates than Leonardo DaPinchy), and I have kids that were Todd’s and Daisy’s ages when I wrote the book. And Persephone, the cowgirl Toddlian? She’s my alter-ego. I grew up on John Wayne and Louis L’Amour. Yee-haw!

What do you do in your daily life outside of writing?

I’m a stay-at-home mom and I also direct children’s and community theater. My husband also directs–our entire family does theater together, which is really fun! I also love to sketch and watercolor. It’s just a hobby for now, but I have dreams of going to art school and one day illustrating my own stories.

What are some little known facts about you that might surprise our readers.

I was a music theater major in college and wanted to pursue a career on Broadway. Instead, I married my high school sweetheart and became a minister. I have eleven children and one grandson. We have a parrot named BB, because apparently our house isn’t noisy enough.

What excites you the most about debuting?

Meeting readers has been my favorite experience so far. I love doing school visits and connecting with kids! Next, I would have to say getting to know my fabulous fellow debut authors, who have made this journey even more wonderful. And finally, the opportunity to travel excites me; I really enjoy seeing new places. Who knows, I might even get to travel to NYC and take in a little Broadway at last!

Today’s the big day! How are you celebrating the release of By The Grace Of Todd? Any special plans?

I have a local school visit this morning, and a date with my husband at our favorite Mediterranean restaurant tonight. (Tiramisu, baby!) We’ll probably hit the local bookstores. That’s what we usually do on dates, but this time we’ll be looking for MY book! 😀

Here’s where you can buy By The Grace Of Todd:


Barnes and Noble



Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD (Penguin/Razorbill Feb. 27, 2014). She and her husband live in the Midwest with their eleven kids and a parrot. When Louise isn’t writing or folding laundry, she directs her local children’s theater, where she’s playwright in residence.

Your Author Website, Part Two: Suggested Pages

So, you came back. All my talk of the dreaded author website didn’t scare you away? Excellent!

Last week, we talked about Author Website Must Haves—pages your website should not do without. Today, we’ll be exploring additional content—pages you might want to consider including.

Come back next week for what to avoid at all costs.

Suggested Pages

  • Blog
  • Events/Calendar (for published authors)
  • Press/News (for published authors)
  • FAQ
  • Extras


A blog is a great way to connect with readers. It gives them a chance to get to know you better, and it’s a good forum for sharing book news. One the other hand, regular, original content can be a lot of extra work, particularly when you are trying to promote your releasing book and/or write new ones.

Should you start a blog?

Just like any other form of social media, I would suggest you do it only if you enjoy don’t hate it. If you hate blogging, you won’t do it. Your last post will sit at the top of your page, mouldering for ages. You will feel guilt. You would be better off not blogging at all.

But if you don’t hate it—or better yet, enjoy it—your content will be fresh and more engaging, even when you are under a deadline and can’t update as often as you like.

How often should you update your blog?

That depends on what your comfort level is, but it should be regularly so readers know what to expect. Whether that is daily (HAHAHA), weekly, or monthly is up to you. In any case, be sure to give your readers a way to keep up with your content via an email subscription box and/or an RSS button.

What should you blog about?

A lot of writers like to blog about writing. That’s not a bad thing, but it can make it hard to differentiate yourself from all the others. It also doesn’t engage your core audience: readers. I’m going to make a radical suggestion that you blog about anything else that interests you. Cooking, crafts, woodworking, books you like, what color you painted your dining room…it doesn’t much matter. We already know you are an engaging writer. If you are interested in the subject, write it well and your readers will be too.

Case in point: My most popular blog post, by far, is a recipe for clumpy granola. I posted it in August, 2011 and to date it has had more than 50,000 page views.

Your blog is also a great place to write more about interesting research facts that might not have made it into your book.

Events/Calendar (for published authors)

Of course, right? You want an easy way to let people know where/when to find you. I love the calendar page on Marissa Meyer’s website. If you are on a self-hosted wordpress site, you can download a similar (maybe even the same?) plugin here: The Events Calendar by Modern Tribe.

I have it installed on my website and it’s really easy to keep updated, but even if all you keep is a simple list showing where you will be and when, having this information is a really great idea.

Press/News (for published authors)

This is a nice place for readers to keep up on all the things that are happening with your book. Links to your interviews, reviews, awards, nominations—all of those can be placed on this page.


When is your book coming out?

Can I preorder it?

What are you working on now?

Will there be a sequel?

Where do you get your ideas?

When was the last time you showered?

Collect all those FAQs and give them their own place to live.


Some other fun things to consider:

  • WIP information (especially if you are not yet published)
  • Behind the scenes info
  • Fan art
  • Secret pages (I’m quite partial to this one.)
  • Printable bookmark downloads

What website content would you suggest including? Tell me in the comments.

Heidi Schulz is a writer, reader, and giraffe suspicioner. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, HOOK’S REVENGE, will be published by Disney•Hyperion on September 16, 2014, followed by her picture book debut, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, by Bloomsbury Kids, in 2016. She lives in Oregon with her husband, their teen daughter, a terrible little dog, and five irascible chickens. Connect with her on her websiteTwitter, or Facebook.


When We Say YA: Books We Loved as Teens

Welcome to When We Say YA! Every month, the OneFour YA authors get together to talk about everything related to young adult lit. February is all about love, so this month’s question is:

What were your most loved books from your own teen years?

Harry Potter, for sure. I fall into that beautiful age category where I discovered the first book at nine or ten, and so basically grew up along with the series.
Corinne Duyvis, OTHERBOUND

As a teen, I was crazy about old poetry. Wallace Stevens, e.e. cummings, Gerard Manly Hopkins, John Donne, Langston Hughes. All the dead (mostly white) guys.
I didn’t necessarily understand their poems in the normal way of “understanding” something, but I don’t think the normal way of understanding is what poetry is about. It’s definitely not what love is about–and I was out-of-my-gourd in love.
I still have my dad’s old paperback copy of Wallace Steven’s The Palm at the End of the Mind. The spine is busted and it’s held together with a rubber band, but that book is one of my absolute favorite things. There are little pencil-mark stars beside the poems I kept going back to. And they’re the poems I return to, even now.
Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

High School Jess went through a bit of a Jane Austen phase after the release of Clueless and the Sense and Sensibility movie starring Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. I must have read Emma and Sense and Sensibility a zillion times.
I was also desperately in love with The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I don’t think I fully understood it, but it still spoke to me in a way no other book had managed to.
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

I was a big Christopher Pike fan. I loved how messy his characters were. None of them were 100% angelic, nor two-dimensionally evil. I think I read almost every single one. I still have a stained, yellowing paperback of Remember Me on my shelf. But I also read a ton of scifi and fantasy. Andre Norton, Ray Bradbury, David Eddings, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, Anne McCaffrey. In fact, the first series of books that launched me into my obsession of reading was The Secret of the Unicorn Queen series. I freaking loved those books.
Mary Elizabeth Summer, TRUST ME, I’M LYING

Harry Potter all the way. Also His Dark Materials and the Farsala trilogy by Hilari Bell.
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

Soooo much Sweet Valley – High, Senior Year, University…all of it. Of all the books I had to read for school, I’d say SONG OF SOLOMON by Toni Morrison was my favorite. So good.

I’m with you, Dahlia. I devoured every Sweet Valley High book I could get my hands on. I also really enjoyed my older sister’s Nancy Drew books.
Michelle Krys, HEXED

I don’t remember reading much that was specifically YA, though there was this one called AS THE WALTZ WAS ENDING about a girl living through Nazi Germany as a member of the German Ballet. I read a lot of thrillers, especially by David Morrell and Dean Koontz. And then when I took AP English, I was in love with THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, anything by Toni Morrison, and CATCH-22.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

I was really into Isabel Allende and John Steinbeck in high school and into college -not sure what the connection is there. Going back a little further I loved Narnia, The Alanna series by Tamora Pierce and The Bridge to Terabithia!

The book that stands out for me as my true love during high school was Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. I remember being amazed at finding a character that was allowed to be with her pain and anger, even when she didn’t fully understand it. It spoke to me in a powerful way. I also loved Forever… we all knew the page of the sex scene by heart.
Kinda jealous of those of you young enough to have enjoyed Harry Potter as kids. I actually avoided it until book 7 was about to be released (I avoid “the pack”). Finally, my high school English teacher (with whom is stayed friends), convinced me to give it a chance. Wow. Inhaled them all during a blissful two-week period. Fully immersed in that world. Heaven. Or, better. Hogwarts.

For me it was Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books and Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear. They were slightly racy, filled with animals, intrigue, and romance! I also loved the southern classics like Gone With the Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird.
Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

I was on team Harry Potter as well. One of my favorite reading memories was diving into the first three books over the course of about four days in early November of my sophomore year. (Fall leaves, cloudy skies, cozy reading.) I was also really into Francesca Lia Block, Tamora Pierce, Cyrano de Bergerac, and stories from Seventeen Magazine.

As a fantasy geek, I was deeply, obsessively in love with Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle, and I also grew up with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series–which only recently ended! (The latter was a very lengthy love affair.)
AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

The Hobbit was a book that I still continue to draw inspiration from. Also The Giver, which was the beginning of my love for dystopian (or utopian, I suppose). The Dragonriders of Pern series was a beloved favorite as well, and I devoured every Fear Street book I could find from R.L. Stine.

I read and reread the Belgariad, Mallorean, Elenium and Tamuli sagas by David and Leah Eddings constantly during my teens – it’s what started my love for the fantasy series. This was also around the time I discovered Shirley Jackson and Mervyn Peake (the Gormenghast series was nothing like I’d ever read before then).

If Mercedes Lackey wrote it, I read it. I fancied myself one of her Heralds of Valdemar in another life. If Ursula K. Le Guin wrote it, I read it. I suppose I also fancied myself an explorer of worlds and societies. Neither of these has changed very much.
Natalie C. Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

CARRIE, FIRESTARTER, IT, THE STAND: Stephen King was my favorite author when I was a teen (and also a pre-teen, and also an adult). I also loved all the V.C. Andrews books (don’t judge). THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton was another favorite. Stay gold, Ponyboy.
Clara Kensie, RUN TO YOU

I’m going to second THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, especially the story THE SWEETHEART OF THE SONG TRA BONG which I re-read almost every year. I also remember reading THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison in school and just being blown away by how gorgeous and raw it was.
Also, a lot of romance novels. So many romance novels.
Elissa Sussman, STRAY

As a Jersey girl, I loved, loved LOVED Judy Blume. (Although I know she has a much wider audience than New Jersey, I still like to claim her!) Her stories were so relatable to me and I definitely credit her books with inspiring me to write stories that readers connect to. I was forbidden to read FOREVER, so that only made it that much more appealing (sorry, Mom!). For me, that book was a safe place to live out the highs and lows of first love without experiencing collateral damage!

The classics! Jane Eyre, all of the Jane Austen books, the Scarlet Pimpernel, C.S. Lewis and of course all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works.
Christy Farley, GILDED

I loved J. D. Salinger, particularly Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey, and anything Hemingway. My parents passed the super sentimental poetry of Edgar Guest back and forth when my father was stationed overseas and that was my doorway into the love of poetry. W. H. Auden, e.e. cummings and Ogden Nash were a few of my early favorites but the list is long.
Linda Phillips, CRAZY

Roots by Alex Haley was a book I decided to read for my freshman English class because I had to prove to my friend that I could read a longer book than she could in the allocated three weeks. But that book stayed with me. Still does. It was a very personal journey into mistreatment and injustice; I could not get over the harsh living conditions the characters in the book had to endure.
Chris Struyk-Bonn, WHISPER

What books are/were your favorites as a teen? Share them in the comments!

Annie Cardi lives outside Boston, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press on April 22 2014. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.

How to Survive Your First Author Event

I hate public speaking. Loathe it. Loathe it like Jacob loathes Edward. Loathe it like my cat loathes me when I try to give him his deworming medicine.

The problem is, I wrote this book called Lies We Tell Ourselves. And it’s coming out this fall. And when you write a book you are supposed to go out and promote it and stuff. And promoting a book tends to involve appearing public and ― gulp ― talking about it. Otherwise known as public speaking.

Two weeks ago, I did my first such event. To say I was kind of nervous going in would be to say the YA community is kind of excited to see the Fault in Our Stars movie.

And yet. It actually wasn’t that terrible.

In fact it was kind of awesome.

Okay, it was actually, genuinely, no-holds-barred fabulous.

I had fun. In all my anticipation for what my first event might be like, it never occurred to me that I would actually have fun.

But fun was had! In fact, it was such a positive experience that I felt compelled to list out some tips for other debut authors who are biting their nails with dread awaiting their first official appearances.

Here’s my quick list:

  1. Have something to talk about. My first panel was about diversity in young adult fiction. A fascinating topic ― and having a specific agenda meant I didn’t have to spend the whole time just talking about my book. Sure, I talked some about Lies We Tell Ourselves, but mainly we talked about the broader topic of diversity and how it affects the YA field as a whole. It’s much easier to get pumped to discuss a meaty topic like this one than to feel self-conscious for plugging your book the whole time.
  2. Know what you’re getting into. The event I spoke at was the third in a series of panels for writers called “Shut Up and Write” moderated by kick-ass author Jon Skovron at the Arlington Central Library in Virginia. So, I made sure I went to the first two panels in the series prior to my own event. Knowing what to expect made me way more comfortable when it was my turn to be on the panel. Granted, not every author event is part of a series, but if you can go to other events similar to the one you’ll be appearing at ― for example, signings held at the same location, or launch parties for other authors in your genre ― it can give you an idea of what your appearance will be like. (I’ll go to the future panels in “Shut Up and Write” series too, by the way, because these panels are freaking awesome.)
  3. Start small. I’ve been to author events that had ten attendees and to events that had hundreds. The crowd at our panel was about 30 or 35 people, which was perfect, in my view. It was small enough that it felt intimate, and everyone was excited to be there. The crowd was really engaged in the topic and asked great questions. It felt more like we were all hanging out having a conversation than what I usually think of as Public Speaking.
  4. Have an excellent moderator and outstanding co-panelists. The aforementioned Jon Skovron is the perfect panel moderator. He asked thought-provoking questions that were easy to answer and got us started on a fascinating dialogue. The other two ladies on my panel, Lucky 13 author Ellen Oh and author/cover designer Shirin Dubbin, were brilliant, and had so many insights to share that I kept wanting to raise my hand and ask them questions too. If I could have my way, they would be my co-panelists for every event I ever do!

Granted, I was still nervous. And granted, it was still bizarre to be talking about my book in front of a crowd who actually appeared to be interested in hearing what I say about it.

But now that I’ve got an appearance under my belt ― and an awesome one ― I’m not quite so scared about doing it again.

I know I won’t always have such a supportive crowd, and I won’t always have such an interesting discussion topic. But I’ll never be a first-timer again.

Next time I’ll be that much less nervous. And the time after that, I’m sure I’ll feel like an old pro.

Or, at the very least, I’ll be less nervous approaching an upcoming appearance than I am when approaching my cat with a medicated syringe. At least author panels rarely involve bloodshed!

Robin Talley lives in Washington, D.C., with an ornery cat, a goofy hound dog and a lovely fiancée. Robin’s debut novel, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES (Harlequin Teen, 9/30/2014), follows a black girl in 1959 Virginia who’s the first to desegregate an all-white high school, and winds up falling in love with a white girl in the process. Robin tweets at @robin_talley.

Your Author Website, Part One: Must Haves

If you are like 97.425% of writers*, at least one of your body parts will involuntarily clench when I say the words “Your Author Website.” But as your internet face to the world, it’s worth your while to unclench and look at what you can do to make your website more effective.

*I like to make up statistics. Even so, I’m pretty sure my numbers are correct there.

Today, we’ll spend some time talking about Must Haves. Next week, in Part Two, we’ll talk about Suggested Pages, and in Part Three, we’ll talk about Things to Avoid.

I’m not planning on spending time talking about the various website platforms, mostly because I only have eyes for WordPress and am woefully under-informed about others. However, if you have suggestions, throw them up in the comments.

Whether you design your website yourself or hire someone else to do it, there are some bits of information that really need to be included.

Must Have Pages/Content

  • About Me
  • Contact
  • Social Media Icons
  • Books (for published authors)

About Me

At the top of this page, where it will be the easiest to find, please place information on how to contact your agent and/or publicist, if you have them. Repeat this information on your contact page.

Last year, I was on the planning board for a large literary festival. There were a couple authors I wanted to invite, but doing so was made difficult because I had such a hard time tracking down their publicists. Likewise, if someone is interested in your work and wants to contact your agent, you probably want them to be able to do so. Make it easy for them.

A simple line or two saying something like “For rights inquiries, please contact A. Fabulous Agent at Best Literary Agency” and/or “For interviews, ARC requests, and appearances, please contact Awesome Publicist at Wonderful Publisher/Publicity House” and include an email address.

Below that, if you are published or soon to be published, this is where your author photo and bio should be found. I love what Beth Revis has done on her About page. She has posted a blurb bio, a short bio, and a long bio, with photos and social media links, all on one page.

I followed her example and did the same thing on mine. Having all this information on one page has been very handy when it comes to doing interviews. I can simply send a link to the interviewer. They select what size bio they prefer, download my photo, and find all my social media links in one place.

If you do not yet have books under contract, this page is still very important. Agents and editors will check it out when they are stalking you online. (They totally do that.) Make sure it’s professional.

This could also be a good place to mention memberships like SCBWI, awards, and/or preferred genres.


Again, if you have an agent and/or publicist, copy and paste those same lines from your About Me page to the top of this page. I can’t stress enough how important it can be to make this information easy to find.

Under that place either a contact form or an email address.

I’m going to nitpick here. I personally find this: emailaddress [at] gmail [dot] com a little annoying. I don’t think it lends a professional polish to your website and it’s a pain to copy and reformat for email.

On the other hand, spambots are really irritating. How can you avoid them, but still list a nice, linked email address? It’s easy with a free, online email scrambler and a little bit of HTML. To scramble email, I like GoLiveCentral.com.

Put in the email address you would like scrambled and click Submit. The website will give you a series of numbers and symbols.

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 10.53.29 PM

Click to enlarge

That is the email address, but in order to use it you have to do a little bit of HTML work. I am mostly familiar with wordpress, but I think most website platforms have two tabs for entering pages/posts. One tab usually says something like Visual. The other may say Text or HTML. Click that one.

GoLiveCentral very kindly gives the HTML code you will need to enter to create a beautiful email link:

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 10.53.45 PM

click to enlarge

Yours will look something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 10.20.35 AM

Substituting the scrambled email code and your own text for the capital letters above.
Note: once you have entered this in your HTML, don’t go back to the Visual view tab before posting. For some $%&@ reason, it unscrambles it.

I’ve used this technique here: Heidi Schulz’s email, hold the spam, please.

Doesn’t that look nicer that [at] email [dot] com? And no bots! Feel free to email me and test it out.

Social Media Icons

I was a semi-serious blogger for years before I started writing fiction. I read a lot about blog/website design. Most post/article agreed that the upper right corner of every page of your website should have your social media icons. Just like making your publicist information easy for festival planners, and representation information easy for editors that are looking to throw money at you, make it easy for readers to connect with you across your entire internet platform. Don’t make them scroll and dig to find your twitter handle.

Leigh Bardugo’s blog is a great example of doing this right.

Ideally, you should have an RSS icon here as well so readers can have updates sent to their reader. And, for those who may prefer to have updates emailed to them, a subscription box is a great idea. Place it directly under your social media/RSS icons.


Literary Agent Jennifer Laughran wrote a great blog post about what to include on this page. Rather than regurgitating, I’m going to go refer you to the source. Read it here.

Jennifer’s client Miriam Forster has done a great job of following her advice. See Miriam’s Books page. If you are so inclined, it would also be great to include a blurb or two and your jacket copy or synopsis on this page.

Next week, we’ll talk  about other pages/content you might want to include on your website.

What do you think are author website Must Haves? Let’s get a discussion going in the comments.

Heidi Schulz is a writer, reader, and giraffe suspicioner. Her debut novel for middle grade readers, HOOK’S REVENGE, will be published by Disney•Hyperion on September 16, 2014, followed by her picture book debut, GIRAFFES RUIN EVERYTHING, by Bloomsbury Kids, in 2016. She lives in Oregon with her husband, their teen daughter, a terrible little dog, and five irascible chickens. Connect with her on her websiteTwitter, or Facebook.


The Author’s Voice: interview with OneFour author Kathryn Rose

Arthurian legend steampunk’d!!

Kathryn speaks with us about her forthcoming YA fantasy CAMELOT BURNING (Flux, 2014).


Kate Boorman is an independent artist and writer from the Canadian prairies. She was born in Nepal (where she was carried up the Himalayas in a basket) and she grew up in a small Albertan town (where she rode her bike to Girl Guides). She is fond of creepy things. Speaking of! Her YA fantasy WINTERKILL debuts September 9th, 2014 (Abrams/Amulet and Faber & Faber).

Cover Reveal – The 8th Continent!

Hi! I’m Matt London, and today I’m very excited to be joining the OneFour KidLit community! Not only am I saying hello, I’m also revealing the cover of my debut novel THE 8TH CONTINENT! Like most of the authors you’ll meet on this blog, the journey to this moment has been long and arduous (much like the adventure of the heroes in my book (although with decidedly fewer robots)). It’s with great joy that I get to share the victory dance at the end of the road.

But before I do that, let me tell you a bit about my novel, THE 8TH CONTINENT.

It’s the story of Evie and Rick Lane, who are determined to transform the Great Pacific Garbage patch—a real life pile of floating garbage—into an eighth continent, using a special formula developed by their father. This new continent will be a place where their family can live free from the intervention of Winterpole, a global rule-maker run by bumbling bureaucrats. But eleven-year-old pink-and-plastic-obsessed Vesuvia Piffle, the secret mastermind behind the villainous Condo Corp, also has her sights set on this new land, and she wants to use it to build a kind of Miami-on-steroids. Now, it’s a race against time and across the world as the kids gather the items they need to create their continent. Because whoever controls the eighth continent controls our future. And the future can’t be both “green” and pink.

So if you like adventure, flying machines, robots, or saving the planet, then THE 8TH CONTINENT is the book for you. It was important that the cover of such a tale conveyed this message, and that’s exactly what it did.


Will Rick and Evie build an island paradise like the one featured here? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out. But I promise you wacky pink robo-birds and trash-clogged oceans are sure to make appearances.

If you have questions about THE 8TH CONTINENT, feel free to drop me a comment here or write to me on Twitter, and if you’re so inclined, add THE 8TH CONTINENT to your Goodreads. The book comes out September 16th!

Until then, happy continent building!

Matt London is the author of THE 8TH CONTINENT, coming in September 2014 from Penguin – Razorbill. He is a writer and avid recycler who graduated from The Clarion Writers Workshop, and studied computers, cameras, rockets, and robots at New York University. When not investigating lost civilizations, Matt explores the mysterious island where he lives — Manhattan.

Leaping from Book One to Book Two

Now that your debut book is FINALLY well on its way to becoming a reality (WHEW!) you can sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and ……jump into that second book like your life depended on it.

Because it does.  Your writer life, that is.

So I thought I would share how it’s going with me, and, well, maybe you can relate.

Here is the pitch for my WIP, my hoped for second book, a contemporary middle grade adventure spiked with humor:

Procrastination Pete must complete his science project during Spring Break at a castle where proving that a ghost doesn’t exist involves more than he bargains for. 

This idea evolved from a visit to the family castle.  Well, let me explain that just a little.  My husband’s cousin is a baron in Switzerland because his mother married into the lineage.  The castle actually belongs to the Swiss government but the family has full use of it as their “summer cottage.” (That’s my name for it, not necessarily theirs.)   We, being the distant over-the-pond American relatives, were invited to stay there for a family reunion, and after that, I knew I had to use it in a book. I’m currently fiddling with the plot line for the third time, but I’ll keep at it because the setting is just too fun not to use.

Well, maybe I’ll keep at it.  Or maybe I won’t.  Right now.

You see, my debut book, Crazy, (Eerdmans/October 2014) is written in verse and set in the sixties, about a teenage girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness. That book evolved out of poems I wrote as a cathartic exercise to work through my emotional response to the events in my teen years.

I had given it a fleeting thought that book one and book two would probably slide away from each other on the shelf if they ever landed there next to each other.  But, I do love that delicious castle setting and the thought of writing in a humorous tone after being immersed in a subject matter of such serious content for so long seems tempting.  So I forged ahead, choosing not to worry about the bigger picture at the moment.

Then I had a conversation with a fellow writer who has read some of my work and who was kind enough to pass on some wisdom she gleaned from her editor. She challenged me to stop and strategize for a minute.  Is it the most prudent idea to follow up a debut book with a second book so totally different in every way?  Would it not make better sense to write a second book in the same vein as the first?  In my case, that would probably translate into a book in verse dealing with another serious subject matter.  Not to imply that my work is anywhere as great as Ellen Hopkins’ work, but I love how she well established her brand by writing numerous books in verse, each about an equally riveting topic.

The argument makes sense.  There is the time and energy we put into establishing our brand, marketing to a certain audience, cultivating a readership.  In a sense, as my friend pointed out, going in such an opposite direction with the second book would be like starting all over again as a new author.  I would be leaping from YA to MG, serious literary to humorous adventure, historical to contemporary.  Not just one aspect, but every aspect of the second book would be different.

Given this line of thinking, I have some choices.  I don’t know about you, but I always breathe better with choices.  I could finish up the MG castle story soon, before I lose my train of thought, and nestle it safely into that drawer we all keep for work that needs bed rest.  And then I could jump right into another YA book that would look more like a cousin than an alien next to my debut book.  Once that is securely on its way to being my second book, I could dive back into the drawer, resuscitate the castle story, and make it my third book.

Or, I could forge ahead with the castle book as my second and enjoy all the spice that variety in life affords!  I could take my chances and find out first hand how easy or difficult it is to jump from YA to MG, serious to humorous.  Who knows?  It might be more fun than writers should be allowed to have. (heh, heh)

Or, I could figure out some way to use that lovely castle setting in the next serious YA book in verse, or another book down the road.  If we keep good records and always make sure we have plenty of drawer space, we writers can get pretty handy about recycling our little darlings, right?

Well, I know this is my problem, not yours, but I’d love to hear about it if you’ve had similar thoughts or conversations about the move from book one to book two.  If you are luckier than I, maybe you have an editor or agent, like my friend, who has already done some of this strategizing for you.  If not, here’s hoping you have devised your own grand scheme and are happily on the way with your second or third book, feeling confident that you are headed in the right direction.

Ya gotta admit, it’s a fascinating journey no matter which way you turn.  Here’s hoping we can all make that leap without so much as skinning a knee!

Linda Vigen Phillips lives in Charlotte but never got over being a native Oregonian. She still goes gaga over mountains with Ponderosa pines and oceans that roar. She is a mother of twins, grandmother of two, wife of a retired minister, retired teacher of learning disabled students, and writer of YA, Middle Grade and poetry. Her debut YA novel written in verse, CRAZY, will be released by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers in October 2014.

Happy 14th Day: February

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! And Happy 14th Day, too! We’ve got heaps of news, and I know you’ll be impressed!

I am going to introduce the news by author, rather than by topic, this time. (With the exception of the book covers, which I’ll save for the end.)

MARIA ANDREU’s The Secret Side of Empty, out on March 11th, 2014, has just been chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection.

REBECCA BEHRENS’s When Audrey Met Alice got a review from the New York Times!

JAYE ROBIN BROWN has a cover reveal TODAY and is hosting a giveaway with the YAValentines (click here to enter).

SKILA BROWN’s Caminar was chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection.

ERICA CAMERON is hosting a contest to honor Sing Sweet Nightingale‘s release March 4!! (click here to enter) She will also be appearing at the NoVaTEEN Book Festival in Arlington, Virginia.

EDITH COHN’s Spirit’s Key has a cover! (See below)

SARAH COMBS’s Breakfast Served Anytime has a great review from Kirkus.

ELLE COSIMANO’s Nearly Gone received a starred review from School Library Journal, and the German rights to Nearly Gone have been sold to Literarische Agentur Silke Weniger for publication in Spring 2015.

MARY CROCKETT’s cover for Dream Boy is out–see below!

CORINNE DUYVIS’s Otherbound has gotten some great blurbs, with Margo Lanagan calling it an “action-packed tale of passion, possession and hair-raising leaps from world to world,” Karen Healey calling the book “assured, powerful” and “a deeply moving exploration of how circumstance and choice shape who we are.” Sarah Beth Durst “loved every second of this fascinating, fantastic novel!” and Laura Lam says, “A wonderful debut.” (Read more hereOtherbound was also chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection.

CHRISTINA FARLEY’s Gilded has a sequel–Silvern–which will be released September 23, 2014. (Here for more details.)

LAURA MARX FITZGERALD’s Under the Egg is one of 50 books in the Spring 2014 Kids’ Indie Next List—“Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers”!

ROBIN HERRERA’s Hope is a Ferris Wheel has a trailer! (Watch it  here)

CLARA KENSIE’s series is on the run! The first two parts of her Harlequin Teen serial RUN TO YOU is out already (Part One: First Sight on February 1 andPart Two: Second Glance on February 8), and Part Three: Third Charm — the conclusion to Book 1 — is coming out tomorrow, February 15.

LORI M. LEE has a new website and her book is available for pre-order.

R.C. LEWIS’s cover reveal giveaway (ARC, apple pendant necklace, and circuit-board bookmark) is ongoing at YABC.

MATT LONDON’s The 8th Continent received a blurb from Kim Stanley Robinson– “This is a delightful start to the adventures of the Lane family, with their flying tree and their mechanical bird tutor. Evie and Rick and their brilliant if eccentric parents are wonderfully vivid, and the villains who try to impede them in their quest to save the Earth, equally memorable. It’s all in the great tradition of adventure fiction for young readers, running back through Akiko and Freddy the Pig all the way to Tom Sawyer.”

AMBER LOUGH’s The Fire Wish cover reveal giveaway (ARC, signed copy of Tamora Pierce’s Battle Magic) is ongoing at YABC. Dutch rights to The Fire Wish have been sold to Luitingh-Sijthoff.

JESSICA LOVE’s Push Girl has a new, updated cover, and it includes a blurb from Jennifer Brown. “A tender, inspirational, and, most of all, important story.” – Jennifer Brown, Award-Winning Author of Hate List. (Cover below)

KELSEY MACKE’s DAMSEL DISTRESSED now has a cover! The team over at act.MTV.com hosted the exclusive cover reveal for her debut, along with the artwork for the book’s companion album of original music, IMOGEN UNLOCKED. The book is now available for pre-order on Amazon, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Kelsey’s favorite charity, NoStigmas.org!

LISA MAXWELL had her cover reveal for Sweet Unrest on Icey Books. She is also hosing a giveaway (including The Winner’s Curse, The Prisoner of the Night and Fog, The Murder Complex, and Unforgotten) on her new blog. (Enter here)

JULIE MURPHY’s Side Effects May Vary received a great Kirkus review! It was also chosen as one of Teen Vogue‘s most exciting titles of 2014, and Seventeen Magazine included it in their winter entertainment guide! Woohoo!

NATALIE C. PARKER’s Beware the Wild has a cover! Check it out at YABC and enter the contest to win more books! It’s also Available for pre-order via Amazon. Last but not least, check out these blurbs! “Unique, haunting, and filled with characters who steal your heart, you’ll be just as intrigued by the rural, small-town world that Parker builds as you will by the magic she weaves in the dark of the wild.” — International Bestselling Author Josephine Angelini
“Brimming with mystery, passion, and dark enchantments, BEWARE THE WILD is Southern Gothic at its most beguiling.” — Sonia Gensler, author of The Revenant and The Dark Between
“This book, much like its dark and enticing swamp, seeps into your soul. And that is a very, very good thing.” — Tara Hudson, author of the HEREAFTER series
“Natalie Parker speaks Southern Gothic fluently, from the haunting rhythm of her language to the easy cadence of her dialogue. I dare you to turn the page: the Louisiana swamp will eat you alive.” — Myra McEntire, author of the HOURGLASS series
“Creepily delicious swamp magic. I loved BEWARE THE WILD something wicked.” — International Bestselling Author, Amy Plum


GAYLE ROSENGREN’s What the Moon Said releases on February 20th! Congratulations, Gayle!

PATRICK SAMPHIRE, author of Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, has a new website and blog. (See it here!)

HEIDI SHULZ’s Hook’s Revenge is now available for pre-order. (AmazonPowell’sIndieBoundBarnes and Noble)

ADRIANNE STRICKLAND will be signing ARCs of her YA sci-fi/fantasy, Wordless, at PLA 2014 in Indianapolis. She’ll be at the Llewellyn Worldwide/Flux Books booth (#1953) at 3pm on Thursday, March 13th! Everyone–librarians, especially–should stop by and say hi!

RACHEL M. WILSON’s cover is out at Icey Books, The Compulsive ReaderMe, My Shelf & I, and I Read Banned Books, and on her site, with a spotlight post today from Mundie Moms. Her book, Don’t Touch, also got its first blurb: “Wilson writes from the rapidly beating heart of a girl living on the edge of everything, ‘eager and terrified.’ The book is fiercely compelling, darkly funny, and hums like a high tension wire.” — Tim Wynne-Jones, author of BLINK & CAUTION

Covers! (I apologize for the different sizes. I tried to get them all the same.)

NoPlace hc c (1)








Amber Lough lives with her husband, their two kids, and their cat, Popcorn, in Syracuse, NY. She spent much of her childhood in Japan and Bahrain. Later, she returned to the Middle East as an Air Force intelligence officer to spend eight months in Baghdad, where the ancient sands still echo the voices lost to wind and time. Her Middle Eastern fantasy, THE FIRE WISH, is due from Random House Children’s in July 2014.

Helene Dunbar: These Gentle Wounds

Today, Helene Dunbar shares a little about THESE GENTLE WOUNDS, her favorite book and talks about pea balls (really!)

These Gentle Wounds

So. Where in the world did you get the idea for this book?

I was doing some freelance writing for a publisher that produced educational materials. I was assigned to write about the 2001 Andrea Yates case in which a woman drowned her five children and the 1994 case of Susan Smith who drove her car with her two young sons into the river. In 2011, a mother in New York State did the same thing with her five children in the car and one of them escaped. I started wondering what life would be for the boy who survived.

That sounds horribly bleak, but my main character Gordie’s voice was always very clear in my head and he’s a very sweet and sometimes funny 15-year old who is just trying to pull his life together while navigating the usual high school stuff (like girls and bullies and hockey) while redefining his relationship with his older half-brother and confronting his past in dramatic fashion.

Um. What the heck are Pea Balls?

I love that so many early readers and bloggers have connected to the relationship between Gordie and his older brother Kevin. Kevin has a lot of guilt and a lot of anger and has devoted a lot of his adolescence to watching over Gordie. The one outlet he allows himself is cooking and he’s a huge fan of molecular gastronomy (blending science and cooking), sometimes to explosive results. Pea Balls are actually a real thing: kind of a spherical ravioli filled with liquefied green peas.

What do you do when you aren’t writing?

I think about writing. I also work in marketing and social media. And I’m a long-term freelance writer for a magazine in Ireland covering traditional Irish music in the US. And I’m a wife and mom and pet owner and fairly rabid Detroit Tigers fan.

Desert Island books?

Oh, this is my favorite question EVER.

My I’m always adding to this list but, at this moment in time, I’m going to say that I could happily live on an island with these: Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh), The Secret History (Donna Tartt), Teeth (Hannah Moskowitz), The Marbury Lens (Andrew Smith), The Raven Boys series (Maggie Steifvater), and The Starboard Sea (Amber Dermont).

5580amHelene Dunbar usually writes features about fiddles & accordions, but she’s also been known to write about court cases, theater, and Native American Indian tribes. She lives in Nashville where she manages social media by day and writes YA the rest of the time. Her debut YA contemporary, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS, is releasing from Flux in May 2014. Find her on Twitter, and Facebook.