Thursday, December 4, 2014

December musings and what kids want to read

I spent a glorious Thanksgiving break reading, thanks to Jenn's Bookshelves' brilliant idea to curl up with a book. I made my way through the better part of the pile of books I had waiting for me; some I read all the way, some I put aside to give away. Alas, the cupcake cozy just wasn't for me.

I've also been spending this past month or so thinking about what I want to write next. I've been reading middle-grade and YA, brainstorming ideas, and most of all...

I've been listening to kids. The ones who walk up to my signing table, and also the ones who don't. I watch to see what books they pick up, what books they take home. I've been listening to third, fourth--all the way to high school aged kids when they tell me what books they like, and why.

The younger kids like funny, fast, and some fantasy. Teens want to be swept away to a different place--they love those big, epic tales. Dystopian is still a favorite. Retellings of fairytales, too.

Scholastic did a quick study on what kids like; you can read all about it here. And one of my favorite MG reviewers Ms. Yingling has been talking (with exclamation marks, because this stuff is important) about how depressing recent books are that she reviews for her library. The study tells us kids want funny books, a whopping seventy percent.

So why the disconnect?

I don't know. If I can have a soapbox moment here... I think we should focus more on what kids want to read than on what we think they should read. In any case, I hope we'll see more funny books, don't you? We could all use a laugh.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be Thankfully Reading...

Happy Turkey Day, all! I'm spending my Thanksgiving with the family and cats, at home, my favorite place to be.

And I won't be shopping this weekend; I just loathe the whole Black Friday thing. I might order some books off the internetz, or shop at Etsy for Small Business Saturday. But otherwise, I'm curling up with a book.

Look at this stack I brought home from Bouchercon! I will admit, some of these are not books I would be reading if they weren't in my book bag. But I wanted to read out of my comfort zone for a change, so I'm even going for a cozy mystery with cupcakes on the front. I'll let you know how it all works out...

Happy reading, guys!



Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Fun of School Visits (or: What Happens When You Leave the Bouchercon Conference Hotel)

I'm back from Bouchercon 2014! For those of you unfamiliar, Bouchercon is an annual mystery fan conference, a big one. This year it was in Long Beach, CA. So I got to escape the snow for just a few days (this was my deck, with sub-zero temps...).

The organizers were kind enough to connect me to a local school librarian, who invited me for a school visit at Dooley Elementary. School visits are my favorite part of the job, because I get to talk to the kids--this time, the entire cafeteria was packed. I told them all about my books, and about how George Washington was a master spy during the Revolutionary War. That particular talk is always fun.

And another favorite part of my job is meeting school librarians. This is Sharon Dudka, librarian extraordinaire. Like most librarians I meet, she is smart, has a great positive attitude, and knows how to get kids reading on a shoestring budget. If you happen to be in a giving mood, donate a book to your local school library.

Afterward, I had a good talk about how amazing teachers are with my cab driver David. We agreed they should get more respect and get paid better.

After my morning school visit, I was on a very cool panel on YA Dystopian, where (thankfully) we also talked about middle-grade. The best part: listening to Michelle Gagnon, Joelle Charbonneau, Sophie Littlefield, and Alexandra Monir talk about YA, and how cool their fans are. Jess Lourey moderated awesomely, and we got interesting questions too. Good stuff. But I forgot to take pictures...

I saw Michael Connelly in the lobby, but was too shy to tell him I love his books. And then I met author friends, reviewers, booksellers, and other great people over fancy appetizers and desserts.

So that's my Bouchercon report. Next week, I'll report on my book bag, which was full of books I plan to read during the Thankfully Reading Thanksgiving weekend...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Character Book Club: Linc interviews middle-grade characters Lewis and Eva from TIME SQUARE--THE SHIFT

Linc: Lewis and Eva—it’s so cool to hang out with you guys today! I heard about your adventure called TIME SQUARE | THE SHIFT, and I have a lot of questions about this time traveling you’re doing. 

First, can you tell me what happened in the first book to make you both travel in time?

Lewis: Hi, Linc, it’s great to be here. Thanks for the invite. Time travel … hmmm … it’s one of those things that just happened out of the blue. It was all a complete accident, really. I think Eva can sum it up better than me.

Eva: Accident! That’s the perfect way to describe it. You could say we just fell into it. Our dad found an ancient relic in Machu Picchu and hid it in our basement. While he was showing it to us he rubbed it, and it sort of just swallowed him. We were both dragged into it when we tried to save him. Next thing, we were sitting on the ground being stared at by a bunch of people in a huge place called Time Square. The centre of time.

Lewis: Yeah, it’s a brilliant place that controls time. And if you’re licenced (or swallowed by a crusty old relic) it lets you get from one time to another.

Eva: Think of a Central Station for time travellers … and that’s Time Square.


Linc: My dad is a mechanic, but yours is a scientist. What’s that like? Who gets into trouble more: you two, or your dad? 

Eva: Dad’s great, but he can be a little bumbling. I mean, he’s smart and has discovered some amazing stuff, but, yeah … he’s caused a few problems along the way too.

Lewis: Yeah, like trapping us in Time Square.

Eva: But he didn’t mean to. You’ve done worse.

Lewis: Like what? I’ve never caused the family to cross into another dimension and get stranded with no way to get back to 1930. Dad’s handiwork is way worse than mine.

Eva: Yeah, ok, he’s got a point. Even though Lewis has caused more things to go wrong than dad, this Time Square thing has to be dad’s biggest foul up.


Linc: My spy missions seem like fun, but they get dangerous, too. How about your time travel adventures? What’s the scariest moment so far?

Lewis: I think the scariest moment so far was when it really hit me that we were actually in another time. If things didn’t work out, then we wouldn’t be able to get back to Time Square. I wasn’t too thrilled at the thought of being stuck in 1947.

Eva: Mine was when I realised that out little brother, Thomas, was still back in our house in Washington D.C. in 1930. I was so scared for him.

Lewis: He’ll be fine, Eva. Aunt Gracie will look after him ‘til we can find a way back.


Linc: Tell me about mission ELMR-01, in TIME SQUARE | UFO. That one sounds a lot like my Pandora missions, but even more mysterious…

Eva: Well, getting us stuck in Time Square wasn’t the only trouble dad caused. He sort of caused a Shift, which is a time glitch, and caused lot of travellers to become stranded throughout time.

Lewis: Yeah, good one dad!

Eva: So, we’ve both joined Operation Slingshot, which has been set up to find and rescue all of the missing travellers. ELMR is our rescue team name, and UFO is all about our first mission. There’s plenty of mystery and action.

Lewis: We went to a place called Roswell in 1947. Think space ships and aliens in a small town, then throw in a crazy inventor and a pile of twists. I think we did really well, considering it was our first mission.


Linc: Seems like you get a history lesson too, while you’re time traveling. What is the most interesting thing you learned so far?

Lewis: History! Not so far. For us, everything after 1930 is future. 

Eva: But it’s Linc’s history, Lewis. Yes, Linc, we’ve learned plenty of things about history.

Lewis: History, future, it’s all the same I guess. The most amazing thing we’ve seen has to be when we were being chased by those guards and saw the …

Eva: Lewis! … shhhh … don’t give too much away.


Linc: So after your mission to Roswell in TIME SQUARE | UFO …What’s next??

Eva: Our next mission, ELMR-02, is called TIME SQUARE | TRIANGLE. We’re off to the future, again, to save a traveller from a huge ocean liner somewhere between Bermuda and Florida. I’m sure it sounds easier than it will be. Who knows what twists are in store for us?

Lewis: I hate boats!

Eva: It’s a ship, Lewis. It’s not going to sink.

Lewis: How do you know? It’s still a boat. I hate boats!


Linc: If you were each granted three wishes, what would you wish for?

Lewis: Easy. One, I’d wish we weren’t going on a boat. Two, I’d wish to live on the sunny west coast in a huge house with cars and staff to look after me. Third, I’d wish to be able to take the inventions I’ve seen in 1947 back to 1930 and take the credit. But I know I can’t do that, shame really. That would be such a good wish.

Eva: I’d only need one wish, and that would be to get back home to our brother, Thomas.

Lewis: Ah, yeah … me too on that one. That can replace my third one. Good call, Eva. How come you’re always so … thoughtful?

Linc: Thanks so much for hanging out with me today, Lewis and Eva! I’ll set you up with my pal Henry, so he can invent you some cool spy gadgets for your future time travel adventures…

Lewis: Sounds great, it was fun to chat.

Eva: Thanks for having us, Linc. Maybe we could find a way for you and Henry to visit the Workshop in Time Square. That’s definitely gadget heaven.


You can find out more about S.W. Lothian and the Time Square series right here!

 

Monday, November 10, 2014

MMGM book review: Time Square-The Shift by S.W. Lothian

From the publisher:

Imagine this. Your dad is a part-time archaeologist who has a tendency to discover things. One day, he comes home from an expedition with a crusty old relic, and dumps it in the basement. You’d probably think everything would be fine and dandy, but that’s where you’re wrong. Because that’s precisely when all the trouble started.

It’s 1930, and Lewis and Eva Hudson are a couple of twin teens with just such a dad. Then, on a chilly wintry day in Washington D.C., the three of them mysteriously disappear into thin air, without a trace.

Throw in a weird and mysterious rival with a point to prove, add a looming disaster that threatens to break time itself, and pretty soon they’re smack bang in the front seat of a roller-coaster to doomsville.



My thoughts:

I read this book on my e-reader this summer, while on a long road trip. I couldn't think of a better book to read--Time Square-The Shift had me hooked from the beginning. I found myself reading portions out loud, making my kids laugh with me.

S.W. Lothian has truly captured that MG audience in this book. I heard the next in the series just came out, so I can get back to the fun...

***Be sure to stop by this blog Friday, when Linc interviews Lewis and Eva for the character book club!***


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November Travel, Thankfully Reading, and Other Happenings


It's November! That may not come as a shock to you, but it was to me. Seeing the calendar date made me look behind me to see where time has gone...

But I'm a fan of November, so no worries. I get the hour back that was stolen for Daylight Savings, there are pretty fall colors here in Colorado, and Thanksgiving approaches, which is my favorite holiday. Food, family, all that.

Plus, I'm going to Scottsdale and L.A. next week! If you're attending the AZ & Mountains and Plains Library Association(s) conference, come say hi on Thursday. I'll be talking about different ways to reach reluctant readers.
And you can also find me in Los Angeles for Bouchercon! I'm on a YA panel Friday, and I'll be on the Queen Mary for the YA Funfest on Sunday. You can have lunch with me; I promise I have good table manners.

Also this November, as part of the CBC Roundtable, Linc interviews MG author S.W. Lothian's characters Lewis and Eva--that's on Friday the 14th. You must stop by for that; these characters are so cool.

One thing I don't like about Thanksgiving weekend is the shopping nonsense while the turkey is still warm. And I'm not alone. So Jenn's Book Thoughts has come up with the Thankfully Reading challenge: instead of shopping, we read. Brilliant idea. You can join the fun right here.

So that's November, in a nutshell. No NaNoWriMo for me, but I'm plenty busy anyway.

How about you? Anyone writing, or reading anything good...?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's A Book Birthday! How Do You Celebrate Accomplishments?


Double Vision: The Alias Men releases today! That means cake and lemonade, guys. Pass the plates...

You can buy the book right here. 

I can't believe this is the last book in the trilogy...! It's been such a blast to write Linc's adventures, and I'm pretty sure he's off to have some more, even if they might not happen on the page...

Anyway, this book birthday made me think about accomplishments, and how we celebrate them. I'm not much of a party animal--I celebrate with take-out for dinner (no cooking, which is nice), some form of chocolate for dessert, and maybe a glass of wine.

How about you? How do you celebrate your accomplishments...?

Oh, and if you want to win ALL THREE books in the Double Vision trilogy (signed hardcovers!), head over to the Secret Files of Fairday Morrow blog...