June 28, 2016

THE TIME KEY by Melanie Bateman


What an incredible and unique book! If you're looking for a deep, complex, and well-written time travel adventure that delves into themes of redemption, perspective and sacrifice, look no further. THE TIME KEY by Melanie Bateman is a little bit of a sci-fi/fantasy version of, "It's a Wonderful Life" mixed with a touch of Neil Gaiman's voice to me. Plus, she also illustrates her story throughout which is a delight. I'd recommend this for teens on up. It's definitely worth checking out!

About the book: When Stanley saves a man, he's given a mysterious device that allows him to travel through time. But he soon learns that changing his past doesn't necessary lead to a better future. Traveling over 100 years into the future may be the only way Stanley can change his fate and save his family.

About the author: Melanie Bateman was born in Caracas, Venezuela and moved to the U.S. at age nine. She has an associate's degree in fine art from Utah Valley University, emphasizing in illustration. From a very young age she's had a passion for drawing, specifically nature and the human figure. It is from this creative look on the world that she began to write stories.

June 25, 2016

Let's Read!

Some kids gobble up books all summer long.

Others?

Not so much.

For some children, days and weeks can go by without having cracked open a single book unless they're dragged into it by the meanest mother in the universe. (That would be moi.) I'm not so concerned about the summer slide even if I should be. What I'm most interested in is that kids fall in love with reading. I love this infographic from Big Universe. It focuses on ways to make reading fun!





























One of the best ways to make reading FUN is to find great books that they'll enjoy.

Next week, I'll start a series on really great books--old and new--for kids to enjoy! If you have a book that you think would totally turn kids on to reading, let me know in the comments. Or if there is a book that hooked you when you were a kid, I'd love to know!

Until next time, happy reading!

June 4, 2016

THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH'S by Lee Gjertsen Malone

One of the best things I get to do as an author is get to know other authors and read their books. THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH'S is no exception. What a fun, full-hearted story this is! If you're looking for a good summer read, this is it. Check it out and see the interview below that I did with Lee.

Blurb: A seventh grade prankster is determined to escape the all-girls academy where he’s the only boy—by getting expelled—in this “spectacular debut” (Kirkus Reviews) that’s perfect for “fans of Jerry Spinelli’s Crash and Loser” (Booklist).

Seventh grader Jeremy Miner has a girl problem. Or, more accurately, a girls problem. 475 of them to be exact. That’s how many girls attend his school, St. Edith’s Academy.

Jeremy is the only boy left after the school’s brief experiment in co-education. And he needs to get out. But his mother—a teacher at the school—won’t let him transfer, so Jeremy takes matters into his own hands: he’s going to get expelled.

Together with his best friend Claudia, Jeremy unleashes a series of hilarious pranks in hopes that he’ll get kicked out with minimal damage to his permanent record. But when his stunts start to backfire, Jeremy has to decide how far he’s willing to go and whom he’s willing to knock down to get out the door.

Hi Lee! Thank you so much for joining me on my blog, Lee! I loved THE LAST BOY AT ST. EDITH'S! Where in the world did your story idea originate? This is one of those books that just the premise and the title are hook enough!

My husband went to an all-boy’s high school that went coed a few years after he graduated. (Successfully, I have to say!)  We get newsletters from them periodically and after reading one, I was intrigued — why would a school choose to do this? how would they know that people would want to come? And what if kids didn’t want to go to there? I think most of us imagine a school going coed with each year having more and more kids of the opposite gender, but in my mind, I thought of a school where it was going the other way — every year there were fewer and fewer. At the same time, I had been mulling the idea of a story that centered on a strong platonic girl-boy friendship and so this failed coed school was the perfect setting.


How long did it take you to write and revise. How long did your query process take? Can you share a bit about your path to publication for readers out there who are still on this journey?

First things first: This is not my first completed novel. I actually had another novel, another agent, and a whole other submission experience prior to this one (though that book never sold). So my journey has been on the long side, shall we say. In the case of this book, it started life as a YA novel that took me about 9 months to write. But after querying for a while and getting some excellent advice, I decided to completely revise it as an MG novel, which took another year.  Then I was chosen for Pitch Wars, which was an amazing experience, and began querying again…which took it’s own amount of time. The amazing thing is that after all that, I wasn’t really on submission to editors for very long — slightly less than two months. Which is probably a good thing, since by then my nerves were pretty much shot.


It sure can take a long time, but your perseverance and hard work paid off! Growing up were you a prankster? How did you come up with so many wild and crazy ideas to include in your book? Are there any pranks that didn't make it in your final book?

I was not a prankster, though I hung out with some. I call myself “prankster adjacent,” — at least as a kid. I did more pranks in college. The pranks in the book come from all sorts of sources, including rumored pranks from my high school days, Internet research, and my own head. Amazingly there’s actually only one prank that got cut from the book, and that’s because it was replaced with a much better one. Finding prank ideas was easy, but finding ones that would work in the story I wanted to tell was much more difficult. Especially since I knew that the pranks needed to seem harmless, at least at first. There’s a lot of mean pranks out there but those were wrong for my book. 


Your writing style is so well-done and easy to read, as is the dialogue in your book. Do you have any favorite writing tips?

One of my favorite things to do is to read the entire book out loud in the space of about a day, focusing on flow, voice and dialogue. I usually do this at least twice — my husband can always tell when I have a read-out-loud day because when he gets home my voice is shot. But I don’t know a better way of capturing what works and what doesn’t work in dialogue and voice than reading out loud, and for me, it has to happen almost all at once, so I can hear how it all works together.


That's great advice! I've heard of reading one's book aloud, but not all in one day. What are you working on now?

I’m nearly done revising another contemporary realistic middle grade novel that I hope to share with the world at some point. *fingers crossed*

Congratulations and good luck on the next book, Lee!

Bio: Lee Gjertsen Malone is a Massachusetts transplant via Long Island, Brooklyn, and Ithaca, New York. As a journalist she’s written about everything from wedding planning to the banking crisis to how to build your own homemade camera satellite. Her interests include amateur cheese making, traveling, associating with animals, shushing people in movie theaters, kickboxing and blinking very rapidly for no reason. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, daughter and a rotating cast of pets.

LINKS

Twitter: @Lee_G_Malone
Facebook: /LeeGjertsenMaloneBooks

May 24, 2016

MIRROR IN THE SKY by Aditi Khorana

Today I have the lovely Aditi Khorana, author of MIRROR IN THE SKY (June 21, 2016), on the blog! What an amazing book with great characters and a compelling premise. Definitely give this one a try and learn more about Aditi and her book in the interview below.

Book Blurb:
For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara's life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth--and for Tara--will ever be the same again.
Hi Aditi! Thank you so much for joining me! I've been hearing more and more in the news about the possibility of alternate realities or infinite universes, but you wrote this book quite some time ago. Where did you originally get the idea?

I wrote the book in 2014, right around the time that Cosmos was airing on TV. I kept seeing all these articles in the news about the discovery of Earth-like planets, and I started to realize that we probably will discover intelligent life on other planets at some point in my life. But the original idea actually came from a Dear Sugar column: The Ghost Ship That Didn't Carry Us. This column gave me goose bumps and made me think about all the paths we don't choose. What happens to those possibilities? Are there alternate versions of us somewhere out in another dimension living the lives we didn't live? And what if we conclusively learned about the existence of our Other selves? What would that do to our collective conscious?

Very interesting! While this is a SciFi book, it is also a timely contemporary story about a group of high school friends just trying to figure their own lives out. How did you come up with such individual yet intersecting stories?

Oddly, many of these characters came to me in dreams. Like, specific facets of their personalities, even things they said in the book, and I developed them from there. 

I love how dreams can speak to us. Which character to you identify with the most and why?

I identify with Tara quite a bit. Like her, I was practically the only brown person at a predominantly white Connecticut high school, and like her, I'm a bit of an introvert. I also spent most of high school reading books under my desk, contending with daily microaggressions and basically wishing I could burn the place down (I actually don't think you're allowed to say that as a brown person because, you know, racial profiling).

Thanks for sharing that. Your story and Tara's story are very much needed to be heard. I loved how authentic Tara's voice and experiences were in the book. I can't wait to read more from you! Do you have a favorite writing tip? How about a query tip for newer writers out there?

I've always liked the idea of writing being a daily relay race. You want to get as far as you can to set the next person in the relay up for success. Except the next person is you, tomorrow, if that makes sense. So I always try and stay ahead of Tomorrow Aditi and set her up to be productive and happy.

Wow. I love that analogy! So powerful to intentionally set yourself up for success tomorrow. Will there be a sequel to MIRROR IN THE SKY? What are you working on now?

There are no plans for a sequel. At the moment, I'm working on two novels: a YA feminist fantasy set in ancient India during the time of Alexander the Great's imperial conquest of the region, and an adult novel. It's literary fiction about an immigrant family contending with a secret about their past.

I can't wait to read them, Aditi, and wish you all the best writing successes along your journey! Thank you so much for sharing here today.

Bio:
Aditi Khorana spent part of her childhood in India, Denmark and New England. She has a BA in International Relations from Brown University and an MA in Global Media and Communications from the Annenberg School for Communication. She has worked as a journalist at ABC News, CNN, and PBS, and most recently as a marketing executive consulting for various Hollywood studios including FOX, Paramount and SONY. MIRROR IN THE SKY is her first novel. She lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time reading, hiking, and exploring LA's eclectic and wonderful architecture. 

Twitter: @aditi_khorana
Instagram: aditi_khorana

May 13, 2016

BORN TO TREASON by E.B. Wheeler

I read E.B. Wheeler's BORN TO TREASON and truly loved it! This Historical Fiction/Romance has a Pride and Prejudice meets Beauty and the Beast feel set in Wales during the English Reformation. If covers are any indication of how good a book is, just look at this cover. Gorgeous and lush, just like the story itself.

BORN TO TREASON starts out with what I think is one of the best first lines and opening paragraphs I've read in a very long time. And then the rest of the book does not disappoint. Joan Pryce risks losing her faith or her life throughout this adventurous book which is set during the time when Catholicism had been outlawed by Queen Elizabeth I. Joan is Catholic and must balance her faith, family ties and new-found love discretely or risk her life. Through difficult choices, Joan learns not to judge others even in the midst of holding onto her convictions. She is a well-drawn, complex character who fully came to life in my mind. I did not want the book to end, and I will likely read this one again.

I highly recommend this book. A 5 star book. Click over to your favorite bookseller or visit your local indie bookstore and ask for BORN TO TREASON by E.B. Wheeler.

Description: Joan Pryce is not only a Catholic during the English Reformation but also Welsh, and comes from a family of proud revolutionaries. But when a small act of defiance entangles her in a deadly conspiracy, a single misstep may lead her straight to the gallows. Now, Joan must navigate a twisting path that could cost her life, her freedom, and her chance of finding love.

E.B. Wheeler grew up in Georgia and California. She attended BYU, majoring in history with an English minor, and earned graduate degrees in history and landscape architecture from Utah State University. She's the award-winning author of THE HAUNTING OF SPRINGETT HALL and BORN TO TREASON, as well as several short stories, magazine articles, and scripts for educational software programs. She lives in the mountains of Utah with her husband, daughters, various pets, and as many antique roses as she can cram into her yard. If she had spare time, she would spend it playing harp and hammered dulcimer, gardening, hiking, shooting archery, knitting, and reading.



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