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Writing in the Cracks

“How on Earth do you find time to write with all those kids?” is the question I get asked constantly when people discover I have a large family.

My tribe.

My tribe.

The very wise and kind Eileen Spinelli (mother of six) once told me to “write in the cracks.” At that point, I was at Chautauqua for a Highlights Retreat and expecting my ninth child. (I was able to go on that retreat because my husband, who is the fueler of all my dreams, had taken a week of vacation to watch our kids.) At that point the cracks in my life were only big enough to cram in a short story, or snippets of poetry, so that’s what I focused on writing.

During that time I wrote during ballet practices and for a couple of hours in the evening when I would shut myself in my bedroom while my husband cared for the kids. But I really wanted to work on novels, so I decided to carve out more writing time. After the kids went to bed, I would hit the keyboard, writing until the words swam on the screen. I’d snag a nap in the afternoon (on good days) while the little ones napped and repeat the process at night.

Tight deadlines have forced me to find more productive writing times, so I’m currently trying to condition myself to getting up at five in the morning and writing until the kids wake up. I’ve found that my head is much clearer and drafting flows far better than when I’m tired at the end of the day. The problem I’m having is that I want to spend time with my teenagers and husband at night, so I don’t get to bed early enough to function without a nap next day, and the three-year-old has decided to boycott naps.

So, I’m still trying to figure out how to make more productive “cracks,” but if I can do it, anyone can! What about you? When do you do your most productive writing?

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.
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Happy Release Day, Caminar!

Happy Release Day, Caminar!   caminar

What people are saying:

Exquisitely crafted poems are the basis of an unusually fine verse novel…”

–Horn Book, starred review

“…a much-needed addition to Latin American-themed middle grade fiction.”

–School Library Journal, starred review

A moving introduction to a subject seldom covered in fiction for youth…A promising debut.”     

–Kirkus

A Junior Library Guild Selection

From the jacket flap:

Carlos knows when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it’s time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet—he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist.

Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

Here’s where you can get your copy of Caminar:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Indie Bound

Skila Brown has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee, lived for a bit in Guatemala, and now resides with her family in Indiana. Her debut novel, CAMINAR, is available now from Candlewick Press.
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A Middle Grader Reviews a Middle Grade Novel: THE LOST PLANET by Rachel Searles

As a huge fan of MG science fiction, I was totally excited to read Rachel Searles’s debut THE LOST PLANET, which released in January. I was going to review the book myself until I realized I have a much bigger authority in the household: my 10-year-old son, Jonah. He’s generously agreed to answer my questions (and I didn’t even need to bribe him with extra TV time)!

Hey, Jonah. What’s up?

Wait, that’s one of the questions? For real?

Tell us about the story in THE LOST PLANET.

So Chase doesn’t have any memory. And the whole story, he’s trying to find his memory again. He’s on a planet called Trucon. He meets a kid named Parker, and he has a robot named Mina. Chase has a message, “Guide the star.” But he doesn’t know what that means. He’s told to stay away from the fleet, and there’s a mysterious fleet soldier named Lieutenant Maurus.

What was the coolest part of the book?

The coolest part was when the Goxar were attacking the ship Chase is on. That part was cool because it was a mini-battle, because Mina and Maurus were fighting the Goxar.

Which character did you like the most, and why?

I liked Lieutenant Maurus, because you never knew which side he was on.

As you know, I love monsters. Were there any great monsters in the book?

Yeah, like I mentioned earlier, there were the Goxar, who were aliens with poisonous spikes on their back. There were also these cool creatures with claws on their backs. And there were also these monsters called Ambessitari. They were tricky, and they served their master, who was called Rezer Bennin.

Now for the final and all-important question: on a scale of 1 to 5, how many little green space dudes would you give THE LOST PLANET?

I give it a 4.5:

5 little aliens

Thanks, Jonah! Be sure to tell me about the next cool book you read, okay?

Yup, and I’m out!

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since age eight (though his first few were admittedly very short). His debut YA science fiction novel SURVIVAL COLONY NINE will be published in September 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Josh likes (in no particular order) gorillas, frogs, monsters, and human beings.
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Rachel M. Wilson: DON’T TOUCH

DONT-TOUCH-HC-1(1)

DON’T TOUCH, HarperTeen, September 2, 2014

I lift my gloved hand to catch his wrist. It feels strong in my hand, and his fingers, his
palm, burn an inch away from my already hot cheek. It would be a choice to let him
touch me. I almost want to pull his hand to my face, close the gap and let go.

_________________________

Today, we’re chatting with Rachel M. Wilson. You know the drill: one author, four questions! Rachel’s YA contemporary, DON’T TOUCH deals with anxiety, theater, divorce, and so much love. It will be out from HarperTeen on September 2, 2014.

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?

Well, my college roommate was a witch and . . . No. Nope. Not telling that story . . . For the record, while my debut is realistic contemporary, I’m a big fan of fantasy and horror!

In reality, I’ve been working toward publication for a long time. A few lines of this book were written when I was in college, but I didn’t develop the story into a novel until years later, when I was studying for my MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. I wrote two full drafts during the program, and the second was a major rewrite. To give you some idea, the book used to be called Manatee, and a manatee played a major role in the plot. Today, the book contains a total of zero manatees.

After I graduated, I continued revising, cutting, adding, until I got the guts to submit to agents. My dream agent, the amazing Sara Crowe, had seen me read from the book at an alumni retreat at VCFA and seemed to like what she heard. When I queried her, she accepted, and the book sold at auction to the delightful people at HarperTeen in February of 2012.

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

Don’t Touch is the story of Caddie, a 16-year-old girl who’s recently been accepted to an arts high school to study theater. Caddie wants to play Ophelia in the academy’s production of Hamlet, and she wants to renew her friendship with her former best friend, Mandy, but she’s troubled by a fear of touching other people’s skin. Caddie’s parents are trying out a separation, and she creates a rule for herself that if she can avoid touch, she might be able to prevent her family from falling apart. Of course, it’s difficult to act without touching other actors. It’s hard for Caddie to act normal in front of her friends when she so clearly isn’t, and it’s hard to deal with her feelings for her fellow actor, Peter, who seems like a shoe-in for the role of Hamlet.

Cool details? I think it’s pretty cool that the book is set in Birmingham, AL, my hometown. Birmingham is a decent-sized city, an old iron town built around train tracks, but it definitely has some Deep South flavor–red-orange clay, hills covered in kudzu, plenty of BBQ and ham-laced greens and grits . . . There are some scenes set in old Irondale, by the train tracks, and around an abandoned swimming pool in the middle of the woods. These settings are inspired by real places. During revisions, my sister accompanied me in taking pictures for inspiration.

My sister Laura on the tracks

DSCN3745
Baby pool with the big pool in the background.

This is the wreckage of Irondale Swim & Tennis where I used to swim as a kid. I visited it while drafting Don’t Touch, and was surprised to find it abandoned. That inspired a scene which is still part of the book. The picture you see here was taken a year or two later–on my visit that inspired the scene, the pool had not yet been filled with dirt, much less grass, and still had water in the bottom.

Why the fear of touch?

As a kid, I had OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) starting around age ten. For several years I was afraid to touch lots of things–not just people–and I was a magical thinker, constantly worried that I might cause something bad to happen just by thinking about it. By the time I was in high school, I’d gotten help for it, but I still had a lot of anxiety, and that made it hard to be open with other people.

At the same time, I was good at putting on a happy face and hiding what was going on with me. Like Caddie, I loved acting because it allowed me to hide behind a character and to connect with people in ways I wasn’t bold enough for in real life. So while the plot and characters are definitely fictional, the novel had its spark in experience. Fear has loomed large in my life. I wanted to explore how fear can separate us from other people and from our passions, and how those same people and passions can sometimes combat fear.

I decided to focus on the fear of touch because it serves as an extended metaphor for Caddie’s struggle to be open and vulnerable to other people. You don’t have to have experienced mental illness to relate to that. Caddie’s fears are heightened versions of the fears we all feel . . . the fear of abandonment, the fear of change, the fear of coming into one’s own power . . .

What do you do when you’re not writing?

155118_453249105372_4196833_n

That’s me, front and center, rocking my Halloween Monkey shirt

I do a lot of work with an amazing theater company called Barrel of Monkeys. We teach writing workshops in Chicago Public Schools and adapt the students’ writing for the stage, often with comedy and music. I coordinate our after-school program, teach, and play roles ranging from a homicidal church bell to a two-timing cheerleader to a rampaging American Girl Doll–whatever the kids can imagine. It’s the most fun ever. If you want a little taste, here’s a link to one of my favorite Monkey songs, “Bad Car,” which is adapted word for word by musical theater guru, Jonathan Mastro.

Aside from that, I do lots of odd jobs–the oddest involves pretending to be sick to help doctors learn. Sometimes, I get to pretend to be a surgeon or nurse and save mannequins’ lives. It’s always educational, and a not-so-terrible side effect is that I want to set all my scenes in hospitals these days.

Screen Shot 2014-02-08 at 9.59.19 PM

My coworker had a rough day.

Lately, I spend way too much time on Tumblr. For myself, for the OneFours, and for my PhD in Superheroes!

Thanks for asking!

Rachel M. Wilson‘s DON’T TOUCH stems from a personal vendetta against anxiety and a love of all things theater. After studying acting at Northwestern, Rachel earned her MFA in Writing for Children & YA at VCFA. Originally from Birmingham, AL, she now lives in Chicago, IL, where she writes, acts, teaches, and spoils a dog named Remy Frankenstein. DON’T TOUCH releases September 2, 2014 from HarperTeen.
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Rin Chupeco: THE GIRL FROM THE WELL

The Girl from the Well (August 5, 2014; Sourcebooks)

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

—–

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. One author, four questions.  Today we’re talking to Rin Chupeco, author of THE GIRL FROM THE WELL.  And while not technically an undead spirit herself, Rin has been mistaken enough times as one hat she feels she can  competently write about them.

Hey, you’re getting published!  How’d that happen?

It almost didn’t. I live in the Philippines, where writing speculative fiction locally was discouraged – mostly because nobody has ever eked out a decent living from them. The chances of successfully establishing myself as an author in the international scene was even lower. For the longest time, I believed people when they said it wasn’t worth the effort, until a chance encounter with a rather famous writer (here’s a hint: his name starts with an ‘N’, and ends in an ‘eil Gaiman’) convinced me I’ll never know if I never try.

The thought of a nine to five job for the rest of my non-pensioned life finally scared the crap out of me, and I began to write. At first they were short stories, which got me into local and online indie publications, but with little financial compensation. From there I soon graduated to novels. I wrote a book, queried it for awhile, then shelved it after realizing I’d made the neophyte’s mistake of querying too soon. My experiences in an old building where I used to work, combined with an odd conversation with a friend about horror movies, inspired me to write a second book, which I did in roughly three months, falling back on my love for creepy Asian things and psychological ghost stories.

I knew this was THE ONE after I penned the final draft; I knew it was different, I knew there was nothing like it out yet, and I thought the concept was unusual enough to be noticed. Requests started coming in as soon as I started querying, and I eventually signed on with Rebecca Podos and Nicole LaBombard from the Helen Rees Agency. A few months later, I accepted a publishing deal with Sourcebooks, and have been thrilled ever since.

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

THE GIRL FROM THE WELL is based on the Bancho Sarayashiki, which is one of the most popular ghost stories in Japan. It’s about a young maidservant accused of something she didn’t do, but was thrown down a well as punishment. Now her ghost rises nightly from that well, unable to rest in peace. It’s the same story the movie Ringu / The Ring was based upon, but while the relentless Sadako is driven by hate and rage with little reason, my protagonist has something few ghosts are able to retain in the afterlife: a conscience, however slight that may be.

This doesn’t stop her from being violent when the situation calls for it, and while she considers most of what she does true justice, I wouldn’t say she’s been able to temper it with mercy when it comes to many of her victims – though she’s forced to reassess her centuries-old vengeance when innocent humans become involved. It’s a tale of redemption, a love story without necessarily being a romance – and it’s a story about how even the worst of monsters might still deserve what most people are often given: a second chance.

Are there any other ghost stories / urban legends you enjoy other than the Bancho Sarayashiki?

Right off the bat, I’m gonna say that Japan has some of the weirdest ghosts you will ever read about. One is Hanako-san, a little girl who has a predisposition for haunting toilets. She appears only after you knock at the  third stall of a school bathroom on the third floor, and ask for her by name, much like the Bloody Mary legend. Outcomes vary, from apparitions of a bloody hand, to her killing the caller rather gruesomely. Another more horrifying ghost is the Kuchisake-onna, a woman who wanders around with a mask on who stops and asks people if she’s pretty. If they say no, she kills them; if they say yes, she takes off her mask and shows them a mouth that has been slit from ear to ear, and asks them again. Another “no” gets them killed, and a “yes” will make her slash their mouths to give them the same disfigurement. Not exactly a good outcome for both answers.

Philippine mythology doesn’t get as much popularity as I think it deserves, too. There’s the legend of the manananggal, who’s usually a pretty girl in the daytime. At night, she has the ability to sever her body from the waist up, sprout wings, and fly over rooftops looking for babies and pregnant women to feast, on with a long prehensile tongue that can slip through small cracks in ceilings for this purpose. And there’s the tiyanak, which manifests as a crying baby apparently left in the woods or at an abandoned lot, and turns into basically an evil gremlin the instant you pick them up. I am a huge sucker for stories like these!

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

1. I was born and raised in the Philippines, but am ethnically Chinese for the most part. (I’m something of a mutt, with some Malay / Thai / Spanish / etc. trawling through the family bloodstream, though we’ve never been able to pinpoint a more definite ratio). This might explain why I’ve got huge eyes for an Asian, but STILL does not explain why I’ve got the body of a short thirteen year old girl while other family members are built like models.

2. I have foldable hands, in that I can fold them lengthwise, due in part to an old diving-into-a-shallow-pool-because-I’m-an-idiot incident. This gives me no superpowers whatsoever, other than the ability to gross people out.

3. I grew up on a steady diet of television and books, and Conan O’Brien was my babysitter for the latter part of my childhood. (On the other hand, Remington Steele appeared to be my favorite series during my toddlerhood. My father has stories  where, at two years old, I would point to Pierce Brosnan on-screen and yell: “That’s my boyfriend!”)

Despite an uncanny resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin has always maintained her sense of hummus. Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps eight pets: a dog, six birds, and a husband. She’s been a time traveler, a Starfleet captain, and a mutant, because real jobs are overrated. Her YA horror, THE UNNATURAL STATES OF DEAD GIRLS IN WELLS (Sourcebooks), pitched as Dexter meets the Grudge, is due out Fall 2014.
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For the Love of Little People

I’ve always loved tiny creatures: fairies, sea monkeys (yes, they ARE people, haven’t you seen the ads?), and even leprechauns. So it’s no surprise that my debut novel, BY THE GRACE OF TODD, is about a boy and the tiny civilization of humanoids that have sprung from the grime of his grungy baseball sock.

Today, I’m going to discuss how I developed the Toddlans. When Todd first discovers the tiny race on his sock, they are dressed in togas made from fibers and live in crude huts made of his filth. Their language at this point is a series of grunts and coos, which Todd’s baby sister, Daisy, happens to speak fluently. They live like cave men, roasting toe jam over tiny fires.

As the Toddlians are exposed to TV (specifically The Bachelorette, QVC, and John Wayne) they learn English using context clues. It was fun to intersperse their dialogue with snippets of commercials and TV lingo. But the language also posed a challenge: how does someone who’s never seen a pencil before describe it? Carpet becomes a fiber forest, cars are metal monsters, and dental floss is a lasso (for Persephone, the cowgirl Toddlian. Yeehaw!)

Todd interior final #8

Illustration by Patrick Faricy

Despite the difficulties of seeing the world though a Toddlian point of view, there were also some delightful things about working with little people. For instance, I had to be extra creative to accommodate them–almost like playing with dolls. They drink from Lego heads, sleep in a fluffy slipper, and swim in Lake Parkay (a margarine tub lid.) Plus, they can ride around hidden in Todd’s hair, although they might be heard screaming, “Slow down, for the love of all things tiny!”

I’ll close with my favorite bit of Toddlian trivia, the Toddlandian National Anthem:
Toddlandia, Toddlandia, our home upon a sock,
Toddlandia, Toddlandia, of forest, hill, and rock,
From the salty Sweat River to the wide Sebaceous Sea,
Toddlandia, Toddlandia, our love we pledge to thee.

How about you? Do you believe in wee folk? What’s your favorite read involving little people?

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.
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Dana Alison Levy: THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER

Today we’re talking to Dana Alison Levy. Unlike her characters, she does not have an invisible cheetah, or an endless desire to make cat barf jokes. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some true facts buried in her funny Middle Grade debut, THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER, which will be out in July from Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House. She’s just not telling what they are.

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?
The old-fashioned way. I wrote a book, then I wrote another book, then I queried literary agents, then I wrote another book, and so on. THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER was, I think, my fourth book, and when superagent Marietta Zacker called to offer representation I was downright giddy.

In all honesty, it seems I spent my career writing but pretending I wasn’t writing. By that I mean I worked in marketing, small business management, executive recruiting, and more, and in each job, what I was best at and enjoyed the most was…wait for it…writing. I lost my job in the 2009 recession. While I looked for work and hung out with my young children, I decided that what I really wanted to do next was the same thing I had wanted to do on Career Day in third grade: I wanted to write. Now I freelance for for a bunch of clients, writing on a variety of random and weird topics. And I write books for kids and young adults (also, honesty compels me to state, on a variety of random and weird topics).

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?
It’s a story about the new school year for a wacky and shenanigan-filled modern family with four adopted boys, two dads, and an ever-changing number of pets. Someone called it THE PENDERWICKS meet Modern Family, and that’s probably about right.

As for a cool detail…well, originally, the dog’s name was Walter, and someone pointed out the folly of another boy’s name in a family that already had six of them. So I asked a group of writers — I was at a writing retreat — for advice. And one of my writer friends, who has an awesome southern drawl, said, “Well, growing up our dog was Sir Puggleton!” Boom. A new dog name was born.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?
Well, one very cool fact is that I actually come from a distinguished line of writers! Both my aunt, Elizabeth Levy, and my cousin, Robie Harris, are children’s book authors, with well over a hundred books between them. So I’ve been lucky in that I have sympathetic mentors and cheerleaders throughout the grueling process. In case anyone’s wondering though? Nepotism doesn’t really get you anywhere in publishing. I was pulled from the slush pile, like everyone else. (But my collection of signed books is pretty impressive)!

Also, I can wiggle my ears.

What are your desert island books?
I can’t even…DON’T ASK ME THAT. I wish for an unlimited number of wishes!! Oh wait, that wasn’t the question. Well, it feels like it. I don’t believe it favorite books (or movies, or kids…it always leads to heartbreak), but here are a few I love:

Picture book:
TIME OF WONDER by Robert McCloskey: Oh, the evocative images and language used to convey coastal Maine in all its glory!

Classic Middle Grade:
ALL OF A KIND FAMILY series, by Sydney Taylor: Loved these stories of a Jewish family in New York in the first half of the twentieth century. (Hmmm…four girls in the their family, four boys in the Fletchers. Never thought of that).

Newer Middle Grade:
MOON OVER MANIFEST by Clare Vanderpool: This one did everything right. Complex, beautiful, and redemptive historical fiction. Puts the “literature” in the term “children’s literature.”

Humorous Young Adult:
ANGUS, THONGS, AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING by Louise Rennison: Writing the funny is hard, and this author nails it again and again. Laugh out loud silliness.

Lyrical Young Adult:
JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta: Beautifully written, incredible characters, and a plot that pulls together so perfectly I want to weep.

Dana Alison Levy was raised by pirates but escaped at a young age and went on to earn a degree in aeronautics and puppetry. Actually, that’s not true-—she just likes to make things up, which is why she writes books. Her middle grade debut, THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER, is due out in July 22, 2014, from Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House. She really hopes it’s funny.
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Mad For Middle Grade: Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue…

Welcome to MAD FOR MIDDLE GRADE!  We’re here the first Monday of every month, discussing middle grade writing, chatting about from our favorite middle grade books, introducing our own middle grade titles, sharing middle grade writing advice, and generally obsess over everything middle grade! And if there’s any middle grade topic you’re interested in, we’d love to hear it in the comments!

Brrrrrrrr, it’s cold outside! And what better way to stay all warm and cozy than with a cute, snuggly middle grade book? Check out our newly minted February releases:

When Audrey Met Alice final cover

WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE
by Rebecca Behrens
Release date: February 4
Goodreads

MoonSaid

WHAT THE MOON SAID
by Gayle Rosengren
Release date: February 20
Goodreads

ByTheGrace

BY THE GRACE OF TODD
by Louise Galveston
Release date: February 27
Goodreads

Three cheers for Rebecca, Gayle, and Louise! And be sure to check out these delightful debuts, dear reader!!!

And now, for this week’s topic:

ROSES ARE RED
VIOLETS ARE BLUE
WE LOVE MIDDLE GRADE
WOO WOO WOO

If you haven’t guessed, we’re gearing up for Valentine’s Day! …which mean’s we’re going to discuss LOVE! (Ewwwww cooties.) But not just romantic love–all types of love in our middle grade novels!

Question: What four things does your main character love?

caminarSkila Brown
CAMINAR
Candlewick Press

Carlos loves playing soccer and earning money, especially when he skips school to do so. He also loves his mama. (Because every good boy should.)  But most of all, he loves his village, though he doesn’t realize just how much until he’s on his own.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Edith Cohn
20518878SPIRIT’S KEY
FSG/Macmillan

More than anything in the world Spirit Holden loves her dog Sky. But he mysteriously died and washed ashore on a sand dune. Sky used to be a wild dog, feared by the islanders in her community. Spirit is the only one who loves all the island’s wild dogs. More are dying, and she has to save them. But first she has to save her dad. She loves him too. She’ll hunt down clues in her rubber-peeling purple flip flops—because purple is a color Spirit loves to wear.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heidi Schulz
HOOK’S REVENGE
Disney-Hyperion

cover coming soonFour things–four things only–that Jocelyn Hook loves?

1. Books, especially adventures like The Odyssey, or true histories of famous explorers like Ferdinand Magellan (the more gruesome, the better.)

2. White dresses, because white makes an excellent canvas for grass stains on her seat, mud on her hem, and raspberry jam dribbled in her lap.

3. Her friend Roger. Wait–no. That’s disgusting. They’re nothing more than friends.

4. Frightening people by the mere mention of her father’s name: Captain James Hook. Yes, that Captain Hook. Shall I fetch the smelling salts?

AND

5. Doing things her own way, especially if it means breaking all the rules.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AllFourStarsTara Dairman
ALL FOUR STARS
Putnam/Penguin

The great loves of Gladys Gatsby—other than cooking, of course!—include:

1) Rating every meal she eats in her reviewing journal (using a strict
four-star system adapted from the New York Standard’s Dining Section).

2) Alphabetizing the tomato products at Mr. Eng’s Gourmet Grocery
(crushed, diced, paste, pureed, stewed, whole!).

3) Sampling Indian delicacies at her friend Parm’s house (mmmm, samosas).

4) Playing with her neighbor Sandy’s rabbits, Edward and Dennis
Hopper. (Whom she has never considered cooking into a
delicately-flavored stew. Nope, not even once.)

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9780448456836_IHB_1Heart_CV_front (1)Michelle Schusterman
I HEART BAND
Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin

Holly loves her French horn, obviously – so much that she even practices on Sundays, which drives her brother up the wall. She also loves color-coded labels and schedules that are organized down to the minute. And thanks to her friend Owen, Holly discovers she loves alien video games and fantasy role-playing card games, too.

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Kate Hannigan
51nY5kdGT2L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_CUPCAKE COUSINS
Disney-Hyperion

The main characters in my book are almost-10-year-old cousins Willow and Delia, who are trying to bake their way out of being flower girls in their aunt’s upcoming wedding. Each summer, the girls spend a week vacationing together, along with their whole, extended family in an old Victorian on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Their loves are:
+ Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa
+ Warm waffles on Sunday mornings
+ Big furry, drooly dogs like Willow’s Bernese mountain dog
+ Grandpa – definitely not any boys at school

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jen Malone
ATYOURSERVICEAT YOUR SERVICE
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster

Chloe Turner loves positively everything about NEW YORK CITY firstly and forever. She’s also pretty enamored with living in a hotel, between luggage cart races with the bellhops to room service sundae bars at her sleepovers. Third place goes to the color black (being a native New Yorker and all) and, lastly, we have quiet walks on the beach. Pfft. As if. Give her honking taxis and ambulance sirens any day of the week. Unless you happen to be talking Rockaway Beach, since that’s, ya know, part of NEW YORK CITY.

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UnderTheEggLaura Marx Fitzgerald
UNDER THE EGG
Dial/Penguin

Theo Tenpenny loves–or loved–her grandfather, who died suddenly, leaving her a clue to find “a letter . . . and a treasure.” She loves finding a new friend in the jet-setting, up-for-anything Bodhi. She loves an air-conditioned diner with a comped meatloaf plate and New York Post. And more than anything, Theo loves a great street find (as does the author).

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MoonSaidGayle Rosengren
WHAT THE MOON SAID
Putnam/Penguin

Esther loves Rin Tin Tin the Wonder Dog. What if there’s no theater in the town near the farm where she can follow his film adventures? She loves to read but she only owns two books. She relies on libraries to satisfy her book-cravings. Will there be a library near the farm?  Esther has a special love for her doll, Margaret.  She tells Margaret all her secrets and she confides her fears about moving.  Ma scolds.  She says Esther is too old for dolls. Esther loves Ma with all her heart–if only she could be sure that Ma loves her.

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ThereWillBeBearsRyan Gebhart
THERE WILL BE BEARS
Candlewick Press

Tyson Eugene Driggs isn’t really sure what he loves, but he knows he likes a bunch of stuff. The new girl who just moved from Texas in his Choir class, she’s pretty cute.  He’s also a big fan of Taylor Swift, even though everyone makes fun of him for it. He likes the *idea* of hunting and of seeing a grizzly bear in the wild, even though he’s not exactly sure what he’s getting himself into. And pizza. Yeah, he definitely loves pizza.

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Rebecca Petruck
SteeringTowardNormal_FinalSTEERING TOWARD NORMAL
Abrams/Amulet

Diggy Lawson is a simple man.

He loves to raise steers. He loves D-movies (because B-movies are too classy—give him a yeti tearing off a guy’s leg any day). He loves July Johnston (so what if she’s a senior and he’s still in eighth grade?). And he loves a good prank, especially if it’s on his supposed half-brother Wayne.

Now all Diggy needs is that Grand Champ purple ribbon…

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Adriana Schanen
51XMyuS393L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QUINNY & HOPPER
Disney-Hyperion

Quinny loves playing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” on her accordion; kee-yaapping a block of wood in half with her kicky bare foot; talking to anyone; and, without quite realizing it, she loves her quiet neighbor Hopper’s great big looking-looking eyes.

Hopper loves juggling (but only in private) and reading “Atlas of Human Anatomy” by Frank H. Netter, a book so thick and heavy that real doctors actually use it. He loves going to the town pool at night when no one’s there but 200-year-old Mrs. Porridge in her swim cap made of parrot feathers. Plus he secretly loves Quinny’s teeth, because they’re the happiest teeth he’s ever seen.

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ByTheGraceLouise Galveston
BY THE GRACE OF TODD
Razorbill/Penguin

Todd and his best friend Duddy LOVE to role-play Dragon Sensei, a “wicked awesome” Japanese anime series featuring Koi Boy and his green monkey sidekick, Mongee Poo. Lucy, the brainy neighbor who helps Todd discover and care for the Toddlians (the tiny people who spawned from Todd’s sock) loves all things scientific. Lewis, the Toddlian most loyal to Todd, loves his Creator. And Daisy, Todd’s evil genius baby sister, loves her power source: the Blankie.

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WhenAudreyRebecca Behrens
WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE
Sourcebooks

Both of my main characters, Audrey and Alice, love to dance, although Audrey’s not exactly sure what Alice means when she talks about doing the “hootchy-kootchy.” Through reading Alice’s diary, Audrey comes to love a few new ways to “eat up the world” as a First Daughter: wearing unapproved outfits to State dinners, taking joyrides on the White House lawn, and sneaking in (crushworthy) guests. Of course, neither one particularly loves the repercussions!

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HopeIsRobin Herrera
HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL
Amulet Books

What does Star Mackie love? More than ANYTHING else? Her sister, Winter, is number one, along with the rest of her family–Mom and Gloria, her pseudo-godmother. And her home, Treasure Trailers, even if it is next to the dump and everyone makes fun of her for it. She also loves macaroni bake, a dish her mom cooks. And finally, she loves Emily Dickinson. Even though no one else in the Emily Dickinson Club does.

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bWF9njFSoPiovwFCJUtNAovKP4AYgX4CNkj5tAhh-S0Jennifer Downey
THE NINJA LIBRARIANS
Sourcebooks

Dorrie Barnes, consistent loser of books and accidental time-traveler, loves getting in a little sword-work with Cyrano de Bergerac, avoiding tramplings by wayward overgrown cows, caramels caramels caramels, standing up for the knocked down, and asking for forgiveness rather than permission. Eh-hem. Oh, did I list FIVE loves? What? We were supposed to list four? I AM sorry. Hey what’s that? Over there….

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Patrick Samphire
SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB
secrets-of-the-dragon-tomb-temporary-coverChristy Ottaviano Books/Macmillan

What does Edward Sullivan love? 

1. Adventure. At least, when it’s safely in his favorite magazine, Thrilling Martian Tales. Not so much when he’s being chased through a crashing airship by murderous mechanical crabs, or being dropped of a fifty foot cliff.

2. Spies. All Edward ever wanted was to be a spy, but now there are spies everywhere, and they’re spying on his family. That really wasn’t what he had in mind.

3. His little sister, Putty. Yes, she may be interfering, outrageous, and prone to dragging him into madcap schemes and explosive situations, but…she’s family.

4. Living on Mars. There are pterodactyls, clockwork servants, and dragon tombs full of mechanical marvels. What’s not to love?

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HumTracy Holczer
THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY
Putnam/Penguin

Grace has just lost her Mama, so it’s hard for her to love much of anything at the moment. She tries, though, by hanging on to Mrs. Greene and Lacey, friends she had to leave when Mama died. She writes letters so they won’t forget about her, and she loves getting Lacey’s letters in return. She loves her writing journals, and keeps them close, even though she can’t get herself to write in them. Most of all, she loves the junk-art bird Mama left behind. The one that just might lead her home.

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Lauren Magaziner
THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES
Dial/Penguin

Rupert loves–TheOnlyThingWorseTh#FEB1942

“HEY!” Witchling Two cackles in my ear. “I’m the mainiest maniac main character that ever was. Plus,” she nods vigorously, “I love lots more things than Rupert.”

She steals the keyboard from my hands and begins to type:

Witchling Two loves loves loves

1. Purple

2. Lollipops

3. PURPLE LOLLIPOPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4. OODLES AND OODLES OF PURPLE LOLLIPOPS!!!!!!!!

Sfjklsdfasdfhdslskdjfsldkjfskflsdjfa

At this point I steal the keyboard back from her. She has dreamily put her elbows on the keyboard and drooled over the thought of grape lollipops. Excuse me while I fetch a napkin to clean my keys… BLECH.

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Dana Alison Levy
18769364THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER
Delacorte/Random House

What do the Fletcher boys love? Well, it depends who you ask. Sam loves his phone and soccer, but kinda-sorta-secretly loves telling spooky stories to an adoring audience. Eli loves learning, as long as he can do it his own way, without too many rules. Jax loves fourth grade, (except maybe he actually doesn’t). And Frog, well, that’s easy. Frog loves Ladybug Li, his new best friend, even if everyone does think she’s imaginary. Oh, and he loves his pet cheetah too, and he’s not imaginary either. Just invisible. (Duh).

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Is there a topic you’d like us to discuss next month? Let us know in the comments!

Stay warm, friends! We’ll be back on March 3rd!

Lauren Magaziner is a 4th grader at heart, watches way too much TV, and loves to steal people’s toes to make Toecorn, which tastes like chewy, meaty popcorn. Only one of those is true. (Okay… you caught me. They’re all true.) Her MG debut THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES—about a boy who becomes a witchling’s apprentice in a town full of dangerous, Toecorn-loving witches—is forth-coming from Dial/Penguin on August 14, 2014.
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Friday Q&A

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! On Fridays, the OneFours answer questions about their books, writing processes, life, favorite flavors of ice cream, and more. This week’s question:

Which book by another author would you love to claim as your own and why?

I’d love to pass off MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness as my own. His whole Chaos Walking Trilogy, really. It contains such an interesting sci-fi concept, and Ness isn’t afraid to put his characters into the kind of horrible situations that make you want to simultaneously punch him in the face and sob for a million years. My goal as a writer is to make people feel the way I feel when I read his books.
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

Maggie Stiefvater’s book always make me feel like I have no business writing, but I’ve learned that a lot of newer authors feel that way. So, I’m going to say Amber Dermont’s THE STARBOARD SEA, which is a coming-of-age story (classified as adult, but I’d readily recommend to teens who appreciate beautiful words). It’s the kind of book that deepens with repeated reading and a protagonist who really got under my skin and made my cry (which is the benchmark of a good book for me).
Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

I’m gonna cheat and go with a whole series here, but they’re short! The Ruby Oliver series (THE BOY BOOK, etc.) by E. Lockhart is, in my opinion, the most dead-on insight into the teen female mind. The writing is great, and Ruby’s a really fun character, but what really gets me about it is the way four strong books are crafted out of the kind of real, true dramas I remember experiencing that age, which no crazy, unrelatable plot points thrown in for sympathy points or dramatic effect or to scream “High concept!” It’s really just a girl learning to prioritize her life and embrace herself, while understanding what makes some relationships stronger and more worthwhile than others. To pull off that kind of thing while also being quirky and entertaining and unique isn’t easy, and it’s the kind of thing I’d love to contribute to the YA canon!
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Would anyone notice if I replaced Ellen Raskin’s name with my own? Even now, The Westing Game has everything I love in a book. A central mystery. The reading of a will. Cryptic clues. A race to solve them. An ensemble cast of interesting, complex characters. A flawed but funny mini-heroine with a great name (Turtle). And at no point does the book talk down to kids: the plot includes bombs, bookies, religious extremism, and degenerative disease. I read this book over and over as a kid, and I still pick it up and re-read it! I think that’s the dream of any author–to write a book that has something to say to every reader.
Laura Marx Fitzgerald, UNDER THE EGG

Oh, Libba Bray’s BEAUTY QUEENS, without a doubt. It’s smart and funny. A brilliant work of satire! I had writer-envy right from page one.
Skila Brown, CAMINAR

I’m a sucker for a good romance, and it doesn’t get more perfect than ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins. I don’t know anyone who isn’t in love with both Etienne and Anna, and the perfect Parisian setting is just the icing on this delicious cake. I would love to be able to craft such a perfect romance.
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

I’d be thrilled to be able to slap my name onto WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. Fantastic characters and setting, and a plot that fits together like a perfect puzzle? Something to aspire to, for sure.
Tara Dairman, ALL FOUR STARS

I was so endlessly captivated by the world building in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, by Laini Taylor. Her ability to create a world that is so vivid and lush, while also creating real, relatable characters blew me away. I wish I wrote in that genre because every word on her pages would be such an incredible study in craft.
Kelsey Macke, DAMSEL DISTRESSED

Another vote for DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. Laini Taylor’s prose is breathtakingly gorgeous, and her world-building is some of the best I’ve ever come across. I read that book twice—once in complete awe of its craft and once more just for fun.
Meredith McCardle, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. From the very first sentence, I knew it was going to be a bad idea to read it, because it ‘s so good, with such completely compelling prose, I felt like a total hack in comparison. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to be a better writer.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

If I’d written BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu, I could die happy. I love the way she combines the real world with fantasy and brings alive the hurt of losing a friend. She manages to make being human seem hyper real through fantasy, and her writing makes me so immersed. Breadcrumbs is also super dark and scary, and I love that!
Edith Cohn, SPIRIT’S KEY

One day I would love to write a book like The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I love it for its scope and the incredible characters she creates and follows through out their lives.
Sashi Kaufman, THE OTHER WAY AROUND

This is a hard one! I’m so tempted to say Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, but I’m going to have to go with God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo. It was the first book I had to re-read immediately after finishing it.
Julie Murphy, SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY

I’m tempted to say The Hunger Games, because, helloooo, BANK. But I’m going to say Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. Beautiful prose, quirky characters, gorgeous setting, poetry. It’s basically like the best date ever in a book.
–Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor because HOLY GORGEOUS WRITING, BATMAN. She could write about knitting and I’d be captivated.
Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

I’d love to claim MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY (the whole series) by Rachel Harris. The characters are so real, the romance makes me swoon, and I love the time travel elements. (I’ve always wanted to write a time travel book, but I’m so afraid I’d mess it all up!) Or if I can’t have that series, I’d claim the CAMP BOYFRIEND series by J.K. Rock for the same reason: characters that feel like real people and romance that makes my heart flutter. :)
Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEP

I’m going to say CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare. There’s something about her writing that makes me care so freaking much about the characters, and the romance between Will and Tessa is one of my all time favourites. The scene where they first kiss is a masterpiece of an example of how to create an incredible amount of romantic tension with the simple act of removing a glove.
Danielle L. Jensen, STOLEN SONGBIRD

My choice would go to JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta. I read it last year and was so struck by the beautiful writing and the stunning plot craftsmanship. And all of the characters felt so real and genuine to me; I didn’t want to leave them behind when I got to the last page. I didn’t at all expect it to affect me like it did, and I only wish I could write something so complex and touching.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

I’d love to be able to claim SAVVY by Ingrid Law. I am so intrigued by the idea of turning 13 and having a special power! I was captivated from the first page of her wonderful book.
Kate Hannigan, CUPCAKE COUSINS

Jaye stole my idea of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. You know what they say about great minds… Beyond the heartfelt way Jandy weaves a tale of both grief and love, loss and new beginnings, the use of Lenny’s discarded poetry is genius. I had ALL the feels after readings that book. In fact, I think I need to reread it right now!
Bethany Neal, MY LAST KISS

The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. I don’t recall how old I was when I read it, but those are the books that made me look for the small crevices and sheltered places in my own world where magic might hide. Which is another way of saying they turned me into a bizarre little child writer. I’d like to do that for some other unsuspecting creature.
Natalie Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

What book do you wish you could claim as your own? Share 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.
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Jen Malone: AT YOUR SERVICE

Unlike your favorite hotel employees, Jen Malone doesn’t often answer to a ringing bell, but much like those service masters, she is usually smiling (usually). Today we’re introducing her on the OneFourKidLit blog. Jen is the author of the forthcoming AT YOUR SERVICE, which publishes with SImon & Schuster Aladdin this summer.

ATYOURSERVICE

Four questions. Are you ready?

Bring it! Wait, did that count as the first one?

No! Starting… now. Okay, tell us a little about your book.
AT YOUR SERVICE is about Chloe, who is laser-focused on becoming the best concierge the city of New York has ever seen, despite the fact that she’s only twelve at the book’s beginning. She does have a good mentor in her concierge father and living in a hotel keeps her right in the action (and makes her a legend among her friends: Sleepovers with room service sundae bars! Celebrity spottings! Maids to make her bed!) When Chloe proves herself particularly adept at handling at out-of-control guest, she is awarded the role of junior concierge, taking care of all the kids who stay at the hotel.
All is going well until the children of visiting royalty are placed in her care and the youngest princess pulls a disappearing act. With little to go on except the fact that Princess Ingrid is intent on completing her collection of souvenir pressed pennies, Chloe, her best friend Paisley, and the remaining royals: a perfectly perfect tween princess and her adorable prince (as in actual prince) of a brother have to hit up all of New York’s best tourist destinations to track down the little girl before Chloe’s mistake becomes international news and she loses all chances of future concierge glory.

Fun! Sounds like New York City plays a pretty major role in AT YOUR SERVICE?

Definitely! I consider it another character. I love the city and I head down from Boston several times a year, but most of my early impressions of it were formed from visiting the tourist sites and I still feel that magic of seeing the city through those eyes. I loved making Chloe a proud native and showing her joy in sharing her city with guests, as well as her indignation when Princess Sophie only focuses on its negatives. In fact my favorite lines in the book are when Sophie tells Chloe she’s not a fan and Chloe thinks, “Has she not seen the t-shirts? They don’t say “I FROWNY-FACE NY” No. They say “I HEART NY” And anyone who doesn’t heart it themselves must not have a heart to begin with.” She truly can’t believe anyone could resist its charms (although neither can I)!

What was your favorite scene to write?
Chloe’s first kiss, for sure. Granted, it takes place in front of Sexy Sadie the Bearded Lady at Ripley’s Believe it or Not and it’s for the benefit of a paparazzo, but it is from a cute prince and there’s some dipping involved (though mostly because she can’t put pressure on her newly-sprained ankle). The one I had the most fun researching was the Rockette scene. Chloe escorts a guest to a behind-the-scenes rehearsal at Radio City Music Hall, and I needed to be sure I was getting the details right. I was lucky enough that one of my critique partners is friends with a Rockette so I interviewed her for maybe two hours and she walked me step by step (pun intended) through a session. I had to cut a ton out of the book to keep the story moving along but I could have written ten chapters about this, I was so fascinated. Here’s a fun fact: did you know those dancers are able to keep such perfect formation in part because there are grid lines on the stage floor, marking horizontal lines and vertical lines with letters and numbers? So they learn the choreography according to their grid coordinates for each step. I also did a ton of research on behind-the-scenes hotel stuff, some of which makes me never want to travel again☺

Oh, do spill!

This didn’t make it into the book (though tons of other hotel tricks did), but if you’re rude to a New York City front desk clerk, he or she will assign you to Room 1212. That way, if guests use the phone in their room to dial any New York number (area code 212) and forget to dial 9 for an outside line, the phone in your room will ring. So you’ll likely be taking orders for Chinese food at 3 a.m! Less effective in the age of cell phones, but still pretty diabolical…