Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays from the YA Sleuth!

I'm always a sucker for classics, particularly around the holidays. So here's a Nat King Cole one.

Happy holidays, and I'll see you in 2013!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Share Your Great Teacher Story

Friday's events in Connecticut left me (and I imagine anyone) pretty shaken. However, since there's enough heartbreak on the news right now, I won't add to that here.

But that tragedy did remind me how great teachers and educators can be, and how many teachers have impacted me as a kid, and as I have my own kiddos now, into adulthood. Like my first grade teacher Mieke, who was smart, fair, kind, and just plain cool. My Latin teacher, who could always see the humor in my terrible Latin translations (I would come up with whole new stories that were totally not in the text). The great teacher at my kids' Colorado school, always ready to give a hug or a high-five.

Or the media specialist (that's a fancy word for librarian) I spoke to at a local convention earlier this month. The kids at her school come from poor families, where there's no book in the house for her K-4 classes to read. But that doesn't stop this awesome lady from encouraging her kids to read: she tells them to read cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, whatever they can get their hands on. She told me one kid brought in the label off a pillow because it had a word from his spelling list on it. Humbling stuff.

It takes a special person to be a teacher. 

How about you? who was your favorite teacher?

Friday, December 14, 2012

For The Parents And Kids In Connecticut

We're all heartbroken for you. 

Don't think words are enough today...

And The Story Of The Week Is...

...this giant rubber duck going under the Tower Bridge in London. I don't even care so much about the story, but the image made me smile.

You can get the details at ITV. Hat tip to Sarah Weinman who posted the story on Twitter.

Happy weekend, guys!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

For Writers: How To Write MG Fiction

Calling all writers who want to write middle-grade fiction! Maybe that's you?

I'm blogging over at Savvy Authors: Kids Rule: 7 Rules for Writing Middle-Grade Fiction. Come on over, and consider crossing over to the MG side.

MG writers have all the fun, honest.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Fun: Go Google Yourself

I don't remember where I got it, but someone once advised me years ago to Google your name every once in a while, to see what comes up. You know, in case someone is saying nice (or not so nice) things about you.

I hadn't done this in ages, I'll admit. But it's sort of fun to see what comes up. When I checked F.T. Bradley, I found the usual interviews and blog posts, my website--stuff I already knew about. But then there was a guy (or lady) who thought (s)he could sell a Double Vision ARC for fifty bucks (ha!). There was a website in Japan selling the book--at least I think that's what they were doing, since I couldn't read any of it. And a few more websites--the book is kind of pricey in foreign countries.

I also found a sweet review by ten year-old Lily of Double Vision on the website of The Bookcase on Lake Street, an independent bookstore in Minnesota. It was posted back in September and I didn't know about it until now. Look at what you can miss, huh?

So go Google yourself, guys. I'll wait. Tell me if you find something fun or interesting.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Books Librarians and Teachers Want (A Conference Report)

Yesterday, I presented my workshop Books Are Ice Cream Not Broccoli at the Mississippi Reading Association annual conference. It was the first time I'd presented it, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But it turned out awesome--I had a packed room with people sitting on the floor, and ended up having exactly enough handouts for everyone. Phew!

Realization #1: Librarians (or Media Specialists) and teachers are so polite. The room was very quiet when I started talking about reluctant readers, and about being one myself. I talked about how we can get kids to read by adjusting the way we present books. I suggested creative new ways to build excitement. Nobody interrupted, even though I'd given attendees permission. After a bit of prodding, people started sharing their kids' favorite books. Books that hit the mark with their class. We had fun sharing favorites, and everyone took notes, including me.

Realization #2: Librarians and teachers know kids like no one else. They'll tell you what books work, what kind don't. Some requests from the crowd: we need more books for 5th and 6th graders, ones that don't get into YA-type content. We need more books with depth--silly-funny books for boys don't cut it past 3rd grade (they want more story). More books for middle-grade girls that aren't so girly (ditch the pink covers, in other words). Reluctant reader adventures that are girl-friendly. More middle-grade, more middle-grade, more middle-grade. Make it so, publishing peeps.

Realization #3: Librarians and teachers get upset if they can't buy your book on the spot. Seriously. I wish I could have, but alas, there was no opportunity. Hope Double Vision ends up in a few libraries and schools after the conference anyway.

There was lots of talk about the new Common Core State Standards (the new curriculum standards, for those of you unfamiliar) too, but that's a post for another time. Anyway, I had a great time. Librarians and teachers rule, don't they?

While we're on the subject: are there any books you wish you'd find (more of) on the store shelves?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tell Me: Have You Ever Stopped Reading?

I'm presenting a workshop at the Mississippi Reading Association conference tomorrow. It's called Books Are Ice Cream Not Broccoli, and I'll be talking about how to get reluctant readers to read. I'm something of an expert.

Because I'm a reluctant reader myself. I like my books to be fast-paced, if not, I tune out. Although I read a lot as a kid, once I became a teen and had a list of required reading, I stopped reading for fun, and didn't start back up again until my mid-twenties. Now I can't imagine not reading...

How about you, YA Sleutheri? Have you ever stopped reading?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's Take Your Child To A Bookstore Day!

Well, not today--it's actually Saturday (Dec. 1), but we can get excited ahead of time, right? What better way to do some good and get a book. You know, for the children.

Happy book shopping, all!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Who's Your Go-To Author?

I'm making my holiday wish list. It's not very long, and consists entirely of books (no surprise there, eh?).

Michael Connelly's latest is on there--I don't even know much about this book, but I want it. He's one of a few go-to authors on my list: those writers whose book I buy no matter what.

How about you? Do you have a favorite author like that?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Walking In The Air (from: The Snowman) And Random Thoughts On Dated Things

I loved The Snowman movie when I was a kid. I think it was the magical idea of stuff that only happens to kids, after parents think you're long asleep. Like the BFG by Roald Dahl.

But when I watched this movie with my kiddos, they couldn't care less. It was too dated for them, I think--though they've watched their share of movies and television from the eighties and even back a few decades, and loved that. My oldest devoured the old Twilight Zone episodes.

This weekend, we watched a nineties movie where the dad character was going to great lengths to find a popular toy for his kid. My daughter huffed. "What's his issue? Doesn't he know you can just order it off the internet?"

How about you, fellow Sleutheri? Are there movies or books that you loved that now seem dated to kids? Ones that held up?


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Where To Get The Best Holiday Presents

I'm a big fan of Thanksgiving, and I get a little offended when people start talking holiday shopping before the bird has been cooked. But I'm going to break my own rule this year...

See, I sent Linc around the States to check out all these great bookstores so he could report back and give us all the scoop. Because as an author and reader, I'm a big fan of these independent bookstores. If you've ever visited a good one, you know how the staff, the atmosphere, and the personal recommendations make all the difference. I've discovered great new authors by visiting my local indies.

So I hope you'll join me and check out these bookstores for your holiday shopping:

Hooray For Books in Alexandria, VA

Seattle Mystery Bookshop in Seattle, WA

Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA

Tattered Cover in Denver, CO

Murder by the Book in Houston, TX

Lemuria Books in Jackson, MS

Park Street Books in Medfield, MA

Most of them stock signed books (best present ever!), and will ship them to you. Or go to your own local bookstore. Saturday is Small Business Saturday...

That's my soapbox moment.

Happy Turkey Day, all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Talking Paris, And Middle-Grade Mysteries

The hardest part of being an author with a book fresh off the press? It's that I feel like I'm always talking about myself...

But I hope you'll come check out my post over at Lara Britt's blog, about Paris and researching location.

And I'm also in the SCBWI National Bulletin, talking middle-grade mystery.

That's it. Back to your regular programming...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Some Monday Music--Cool Video

Love it... Don't we all want to dance on the beach like this?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Linc's Bookstore Tour Stop #7: Park Street Books

It's Linc again, still traveling around the States. My bookstore tour is almost over...

I'm kind of bummed, but then I should really head home to California for some Thanksgiving grub. My last stop takes me over to Massachusetts.

Seventh Stop: Park Street Books 
Place: Medfield, MA

Here's the scoop:

Question: What makes Park Street Books different from other bookstores?

Our bookstore is different in many ways: We are the biggest children's bookstore in New England. There is nothing downloadable or electronic in the store. We never advertise ... just word of mouth.

Question: I have a day to spend in the Medfield area. What should I do for fun?
Medfield Fun: Rocky Wood reservation for hiking.

Question: If you could invent any spy gadget, what would it be and what would it do?

My spy gadget would be a piece of wood with lead in it that can write down facts ... Wait, that may have already been invented.

Question: Any cool events coming up for my friends who live in the area?

Our cool events: We have lots of author visits and we have a creative art studio with classes and workshops. You can even paint your own pottery.

Verdict: Park Street Books is pretty cool, so come on by to meet the staff!

You can follow Park Street Books on Facebook, and check out the staff's favorite books for some holiday present ideas...

Friday, November 16, 2012

For A Friday Laugh

We went to see Wreck It Ralph last weekend. It was fun, but for some reason, I always remember those short animated movies afterward. This one had Paperman, a silent mini-film that had the kid-filled movie theater silent and glued to the screen. Brilliant, but alas not on the ol' Youtube yet. I'm sure it'll be up for an award.

But then there was a preview for Despicable Me 2. Not like they need me to plug the movie or anything, but this trailer made me laugh. So I had to share.

Happy Friday, all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My (Strange) Path To Publication, And Win A Signed Copy Of DOUBLE VISION

Fellow writerly people always want to know: how did you get published? It's an unusual saga for me and Linc, and I talk about it over at the awesome Smack Dab In The Middle Blog.

Come on over, comment, and enter to win a signed copy of Double Vision...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Linc's Bookstore Tour Stop #6: Lemuria Books

Linc here. I just left Houston, and now I'm in Jackson, Mississippi.

My tour is almost over... I'm kind of bummed about that--this is way more fun than going to school, let me tell you.

Sixth stop: Lemuria Books 
Place: Jackson, MS
Question: What makes Lemuria Books different from other bookstores? 
Well for one thing, just the sheer number of books! We want to make sure that we have the exact book you're looking for. We also have a lot, and I mean a LOT, of signed books We usually have more than one signing a week and we loved signed books.

Question: I have a day to spend in Jackson. What should I do for fun? After you have visited us, you should head over to Eudora Welty's house in Belhaven. One of the most complete author houses in the United States, Ms. Welty was a beloved Mississippian, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and a lover of books. Take a tour of the house and you will feel like you met her. Oh and also, go visit the children's museum. I know, I know, you're twelve, too old for such things, but really, even adults have fun there. From the huge map/playground of Mississippi to the largest Scrabble board ever made, you can definitely learn a lot here and have too much fun doing it.

Question: If you could invent any spy gadget, what would it be and what would it do?
A gadget that reads people's thoughts and records them into written transcripts. You could do a lot of spying that way!

Question: Any cool events coming up for my friends who live in the area? Well, on Wednesday, November 14th at 5:00 we have the great author John Flanagan coming for the newest book in his Brotherband Chronicles series, The Hunters. I think you might even like it...

Looks like I'm sticking around Jackson for a while...!

Follow the Lemuria Books blog, or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Or you can come meet the staff in person! I left a backpack with gadgets and a signed copy of Double Vision...

Monday, November 12, 2012

You've Made It As A Writer When....

How would you answer that question, fellow writers? Are you in it for the money (ha!), the fame (double-ha!), your name on the book cover?

I shared my 'Made It Moment' with Jenny Milchman, and it wasn't about any of those things... Check it out here.

What's yours?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

For Veterans Day

I wasn't going to post anything for Veterans Day. Didn't really have anything to add, plus as you may know, my better half wears combat boots, so it feels a little close to home.

But as we enjoyed an outing to the aquarium, I couldn't help but think of the moms, dads, brothers, sisters, etc. who are at war. They have to miss this sort of thing. And that--on top of the perils of serving in the military in combat--is really hard.

So as you enjoy your day, like me, I hope you'll join me in giving a little mental nod to those military members. Imagine what it would be like to miss that birthday, Christmas, whatever. And enjoy yours a little extra, for them.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Linc's Bookstore Tour Stop #5: Murder by the Book

Linc here--I just left Denver, after hanging out at Tattered Cover and checking out the cool city of Denver. Now I'm headed south to Texas for the fifth stop in my tour. I'm having a blast!

Fifth Stop: Murder By The Book 
Place: Houston, TX

Here's the skinny:
Question: What makes Murder By The Book different from other bookstores?

For starters, we only carry mysteries! Our entire store is devoted to crime fiction, and we have a whole section for espionage/spy novels. Everyone on the staff at the store loves books and reading, so we're always ready to offer recommendations. We also host a TON of author events. A typical week has us hosting 3-4 events.

Question: I have a day to spend in Houston. What should I do for fun?

There's so much to do in and around Houston. My favorite thing to do is spend a day at Hermann Park. The park has a beautiful Japanese Garden, paddle boats, a train to ride through the park, the Houston Zoo, and it's surrounded by the Museum of Fine Arts and The Museum of Natural Science. You can also take a trip down to NASA and visit Space Center Houston.

Question: If you could invent any spy gadget, what would it be and what would it do? 

I think a gadget that put everyone in the vicinity to sleep for a short period would make sneaking into people's houses much easier. You would just sneak up to the area you needed to snoop around in, turn on the device and get a 10 or 15 minute window to find any information you would need. It's perfect, no one would get harmed and you could in, get the info you need, and get back out before anyone was the wiser!

Question: Any cool events coming up for my friends who live in the area?

We have some really great stuff coming up in December. We're still finalizing details, but December 8th and 9th we'll be hosting local authors at the store to signed books just in time for the holidays. We've got 14 authors signed up so far! On December 22nd we'll be hosting our annual Holiday Open House. We'll have live holiday music as well a last minute edition of Murder By The Book Recommends (where staff members tell the crowd about their favorite reads).

You can find the latest events on the Murder By The Book website.

Conclusion: Murder By The Book is where it's at!

Find Murder By The Book on Facebook and Twitter, so you always have the scoop. Or better yet, head on over there. Tell them Linc sent you, and they might be able to tell you how to enter to win some spy gadgets and a signed copy of Double Vision...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Do You Nano?

Every year, I plan to join the NaNoWriMo thing (you know, where you write 50k words in a month). It's so ideally suited for the middle-grade writer, since that's the length (roughly) of a MG manuscript.

But every year, I bow out. This time, it's because I'm still brewing Linc's third adventure. The outline is almost done... I think I'm taking the slow-and-steady-wins-the-race road for this one--cookin' it slow like a good soup.

How about you, writerly friends? Do you Nano?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Linc's Bookstore Tour Stop #4: Tattered Cover

It's Linc again. I left Georgia, and now I'm in Denver, Colorado, heading to the fourth stop in my bookstore tour. Did you know this airport looks like a bunch of tipis? Pretty cool...

Anyway, here's the lowdown on my next stop:

Fourth Stop: Tattered Cover Book Store 
Place: Denver (metro), Colorado
Question: What makes Tattered Cover different from other bookstores?

Excellent question Linc! Of course the whole idea of independent bookstores is their “independence” – so every bookstore is unique. We at the Tattered Cover are particularly proud of our author event series. We love being able to connect authors with their readers, and because we have three stores, we're able to host over 500 author events every year!

Question: I have a day to spend in Denver. What should I do for fun?

Denver sure has a lot to offer for an adventurous person like yourself. The Tattered Cover staff loves to enjoy local music, eat at some of our fabulous local restaurants, and enjoy Denver's year-round (mostly) sunny weather. Right now you can explore “Pompeii” at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, learn all about Vincent Van Gogh's amazing career at the Denver Art Museum, and catch an indie flick at the Denver Film Center/Colfax, just a few feet away from our bookstore on Colfax avenue.

Question: If you could invent any spy gadget, what would it be and what would it do?

I think one of the coolest gadgets any spy could have would be a belt that generates an invisibility field – rendering the wearer invisible. While I can't imagine the science behind it, I'm sure there's a brilliant spy-gadget inventor somewhere just putting the finishing touches on this idea!

Question: Any cool events coming up for my kid friends who live in the area?

I don't know what kind of books your friends are interested in, but I can say that we have a calendar full of events for kids of all ages (and adults) this fall. From storytimes with crafts to paranormal mysteries for teens, we have something for everyone. All anyone needs to do is visit our website ( and check out our event calendar.

Sounds like Tattered Cover is the place to be, right?

Find Tattered Cover on Facebook, read the Tattered Cover blog, and follow on Twitter so you never miss an event.

I dropped a Kid Spy giveaway package with gadgets and a signed copy of Double Vision at Tattered cover, so head on over there to enter to win...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Want To Help With Post #Sandy Recovery?

Go to Kid-Lit Cares!

There's a most cool list of items you can bid on, organized by the awesome Kate Messner, and all proceeds go to the Red Cross. I mean, who doesn't want a writer's retreat in Austin, or a manuscript critique by a great agent or editor?


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sending All Best To East Coast Friends...

I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a little helpless as I watch the images of devastation from the East Coast. I wish I could send food, power, and a cleanup crew...

But aside from donations, I'll send some Kermit and Cookie Monster, because they always cheer me up. Hang in there, and may the recovery be swift...


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I'm Over At Patti Abbott's, So Join In...

Over here. It's one of my favorite blogs--Patti's always in the know on the best in crime fiction, books or movies, new or forgotten.

It's like my favorite local pub. You know, virtually anyway.

So check it out, find out how Linc came about, comment, stay awhile.

Linc's Bookstore Tour: Stop #3: Little Shop of Stories

**Before continuing with the tour, I want to send all best wishes to East Coast friends. You're in our thoughts...**

It's Linc again. I left Seattle, which was loads of fun, and now I've landed in Georgia. I rode my skateboard over to the next stop in my bookstore tour:

Third stop: Little Shop of Stories 
Place: Decatur, GA

Question: What makes Little Shop of Stories different from other bookstores?

I think the biggest thing that makes us different are our events. We have three weekly storytimes (one of which kids are invited to wear their pjs and we serve milk and cookies), and tons of special events, like Fancy Storytime (where you dress as fancy as possible), Bark if You Love Storytime (where you bring your dog), art galleries, poetry jams, and an annual Root Beer Festival!

We have married dogs here at the shop, we've turned our basement into a crypt based on the Graveyard Book at Halloween, and we put a 30-foot Christmas Tree on the roof of our shop every year and host an annual tree lighting event for the city. We coordinate a community-wide reading initiative getting families and schools around Atlanta to read the same book and participate in our book-inspired program all fall. We offer summer camps based on books from Magic Treehouse to American Girl to Harry Potter to Percy Jackson. 

We host tons of author events as well. In October alone we hosted Adam Gidwitz, Judy Schachner, Matthew Reinhart, Tad Hills, and Christopher Paolini, to name a few. We love to bring the community together and show them a good time!

Question: I have a day to spend in the Decatur area. What should I do for fun?

Come visit Little Shop! We'll probably be having an event!

Other than that, you should walk around and visit the quirky, fun shops like Squash Blossom, Homegrown Decatur, Decatur CD, and Heliotrope. You should get a cup of coffee (wait, you're twelve, so maybe you don't drink coffee..who knows, with the busy spy life you lead, maybe you do) at Java Monkey, grab a Popsicle from the King of Pops cart, and visit the Decatur Cemetery for a self-guided walking tour.

There are tons of restaurants to choose from...but for you I'd recommend Farm Burger, Brick Store, or Raging Burrito. In the evening, stop by Eddie's Attic for a concert. You could also easily hop on MARTA and visit downtown Atlanta, the High Museum of Art, the Center for Puppetry Arts, and Piedmont Park.

Question: If you could invent any spy gadget, what would it be and what would it do?

I would invent a key that could open any door, that would also have the capability to get through doors with codes, or even hand or eye scanners. I think getting into locked rooms would be half the battle of being a spy.

Question: Any cool events coming up for my friends who live in the area?

Yes, tons!

 November 1st-November 6th The Little Shop Election! Come by the shop to vote for which book character should be our new president

November 3rd at 4 pm Holes Movie Screening at Decatur High School

November 5th 7 pm Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, (author of Black Heels to Tractor Wheels) will be at the shop for a reading and signing

November 8th 7 pm Inaugural Ball and Storytime Find out who is our next shop president

November 15th 7pm On The Same Page Holes Party

November 19th 7 pm Anne Lamott hosted by the Georgia Center for the Book

November 29th 7pm Decatur Christmas Tree Lighting

Verdict: Little Shop of Stories is super-cool!

Find Little Shop of Stories on Facebook and subscribe to their newsletter, so you never miss an event.

Or better yet, go over to Little Shop of Stories in person! You can tell them Linc sent you, and you can enter to win a signed copy of Double Vision and some cool spy gadgets...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Get Your Halloween On With Monday Music: Danse Macabre

This musical piece has always been a favorite of mine. Not sure if that makes me morbid...

Enjoy anyway, and I hope you have a spooky (and storm-free...) Halloween!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Linc's Bookstore Tour: Stop #2: Seattle Mystery Bookshop

Linc here--I just left Alexandria, VA, and I took a plane to the state of Washington. This bookstore tour is getting me all caught up on my peanut and pretzel eating, let me tell you.

I have to say: I'm glad to ride the streets on my skateboard again.

Second stop in my bookstore tour: Seattle Mystery Bookshop
Place: Seattle, WA

Here's the skinny:

Question: What makes Seattle Mystery Bookshop different from other bookstores?

What makes us special? Unlike many bookshops out there we focus on a specific genre of fiction. So for 22 years we have specialized exclusively on mystery books! Spies, thrillers, suspense, classic noir….if there’s a body in the book we have it!

Plus we try very hard to bring a personalized service to our customers. One of the biggest and best areas - we read, review and recommend new books & authors to our readers. In addition we have author events nearly every week where fans are able to meet and speak with their favorite authors. Which, let me tell you, is absolutely thrilling!

Question: I have a day to spend in Seattle. What should I do for fun?

Other than coming to Seattle Mystery Bookshop and finding a great book to read? Well...

I would suggest Pike Place Market, there is a wide variety of local vendors selling some very unique wares. Plus the crowds are big enough if you were being followed it would be easy to lose a tail. While you are there you can visit Seattle’s famous gum wall. Located in Pike Place as well, where years of chewing gum cling to an alley wall and all you need to do to participate is stick your piece on! I suggest Hubba Bubba. It is also a great place to leave a secret message, hidden in plain sight, should you need to make contact with another agent while on vacation!

Another recommendation would be The Water Front, where you have the Seattle Aquarium, The Carousel and a giant Ferris Wheel to see (plus a whole bunch of shopping, tours and a bug zoo as well). Plus it offers a number of modes of escape: street car, boat and ferry should you need to make a fast getaway!

Question: If you could invent any spy gadget, what would it be and what would it do?

Dr. Who’s slightly psychic paper would be nice, so you could always have a fake ID or invitation to get you out of a tight spot…. Or Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak would be nice as well, so you could follow quarry without being spotted. Or maybe that map…

But to be honest the most effective gadget for me…..would be a phase shifter. Since I can trip and knock things over when I am walking across a flat stable surface. That way when I need to break into a house to find a hidden file, secret lab or find evidence, I wouldn’t have to worry about knocking over a lamp, bumping into tables or tripping over an ottoman I would walk right through them. So I would never worry again about giving myself -- and the operation -- away!

Question: Any cool events coming up for my friends who live in the area?

One great event, Edgar winner, Dori Hillestad Butler author of the Buddy Files series will be in our shop on November 24th at Noon! This is a great series which we highly recommend!

Or the Run Scared 5k where you earn your candy on October 29
th in Seward Park. Costume contest, doggie costume contest, free kids dash, trick-or-treat bags, prizes for top runners and random door prizes, pumpkin bread, gear check, free event photos and so much more!

Conclusion: Seattle Mystery Bookshop rocks! 

I left a Kid Spy giveaway package, so make your way over there to find out how to enter, fellow spies...

Visit Seattle Mystery Bookshop's Kids Corner for children's, middle-grade and YA mystery book recommendations.

Follow Seattle Mystery Bookshop on Facebook or on Twitter @SeattleMystery for the latest news and upcoming events!

What's Your Favorite Independent Bookstore?

As you've probably noticed in recent posts, I've been pondering the whole what-is-home thing a lot. Because when you have a brand new book out, you kind of need your home team to cheer for you. And I've had lots of cheers (thank you :-).

You know what's been the coolest? Getting all those friends who live in different states to ask me if I'm coming their way, because they have the greatest independent bookstore nearby. Indies really mean home, and discovering them by proxy through Linc has been most awesome. He's going to Seattle tomorrow...

Dwell Magazine (they have the best modern dream homes...) has a map of independent bookstores across the U.S.--go over there and see if your hometown favorite is listed, and add it if need be.

And while we're on the subject: what's your favorite independent bookstore?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Linc's Bookstore Tour: Stop #1: Hooray for Books

Hey, it's Linc Baker, the twelve year-old kid who just came back from a mission in Paris. It was a tough one, let me tell you. I got arrested, ended up jumping from an airplane… Anyway, you can read all about it in Double Vision.

Now that my backpack is empty (I used all the spy gadgets my tech guy Henry made for me), I’m off on a tour of independent bookstores. You know, so I can fill it up with books, and see some cities without being chased by bad dudes.

First stop: Hooray for Books!
Place: Alexandria, VA

Here's the scoop:

What makes Hooray for Books! different from other bookstores?

First, we’re community driven--we’re here to provide a much needed service to our area, and we want to be sure our customers are taken care of. We like to think of ourselves as a gathering place for kids of all ages--and the adults who love them! We have weekly story times for neighborhood toddlers, book clubs for beginning readers through adults, and a “Grandmother’s Club,” which allows relatives to regularly ship books to youngsters around the country. And of course, we’re big fans of local authors and illustrators--we’re always happy to host events and book launches for our writer friends.

We want our customers to be as excited about books as we are! We’re devoted to giving people the personalized attention they deserve. Looking for an obscure book from your childhood? We’ll track it down. Need a list of recommendations based on your child’s favorite books? We’ll come up with one. We’re at your service!

I have a day to spend in Alexandria. What should I do for fun?

There’s always something cool happening in Alexandria. Wander through the artists’ galleries and workspaces in The Torpedo Factory Art Center by the Potomac River (their annual Arts Safari event in October is an especially fun day for kids and families). Don a crazy costume and Trick or Treat with the Boutiques for Halloween, then participate in Del Ray’s annual Halloween parade. Take a class (with a sweet name like “Cupcake Hootenanny” or “Candy Graveyard”) with our friends and candy purveyors extraordinaire at The Sugar Cube. Learn more about the spooktacular history of Old Town Alexandria on a Ghosts and Graveyard Tour--while you’re at it, take on the Old Town Scavenger Hunt, too! Have a look at the Old Town Boutique District and Del Ray Patch websites for more awesome ideas!

If you could invent any spy gadget, what would it be and what would it do?

If we could invent any spy gadget, it would be a Word Detector!  The Word Detector looks just like a pair of glasses, but when you put them on, they do something special: if you say any word out loud, all the books nearby that have that word light up!  That way it’s easy to find examples of fun new words we learn.

Any cool events coming up for my friends who live in the area?

Why, yes! How kind of you to ask! We’re pretty excited about our great lineup for the fall.

Tuesday, Oct. 23, 4 pm -- Author Jon Klassen

The author and illustrator of the hilarious I Want My Hat Back presents his newest picture book, This Is Not My Hat! Bring the whole family to enjoy an event with one of our favorite authors! RSVP  Ages 3 and up. Free.

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 12:30-6 pm  -- Silhouette Artist Keith Donaldson

There are very few true silhouette artists left in the country, and the amazing Keith Donaldson is one of them! He’ll be at Hooray for books to create a one-of-a-kind hand cut paper silhouette of you, your children, or anyone in your family! Reserve a spot at  All ages. Deposit required.

Saturday, Oct. 27, 2-3 pm -- Author Elizabeth Brokamp

Celebrate Halloween with us as spooktacular author Elizabeth Brokamp shares her picture book, The Picky Little Witch! Complete with a recipe for Halloween soup, this lighthearted story highlights an all too common problem: how can parents get their little witches (and wizards!) to try new foods?
Ages 3-6. Free.

Sunday, Oct. 28, 2-4 pm -- Author Mary Jane O’Loughlin

Welcome Mary Jane O’Loughlin as she presents Ruby and Unlikely Friendship, the story of the bond between an American housecat and a baby elephant from Africa. Little ones will love this adorable animal story!  Ages 3-6. Free.

Sunday, Nov. 4, 2:30-3:30 pm -- Author Sharon Hickey

Grab a spot in our story time corner as local author and illustrator Sharon Hickey reads her picture book, Card Auntie’s Wonderful Workshop. After story time, get in on craft time--creating notes and pictures to send to overseas U.S. service members through Operation Write Home!  Ages 3-6. Free.

Conclusion: Hooray for Books! is the place to be! 

I left a Top-Secret backpack with a signed copy of Double Vision and spy gadgets for you kid spies... 

Find Hooray for Books! on Facebook so you'll never miss an event.

Follow Hooray for Books on Twitter @HFBooks

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book Launch Realizations, And Announcing The Double Vision Book Tour

Three things I realized as I worked on launch events (since, you know, I have to market this new book and everything):

Realization #1: I'm a little homeless.

Well, not in the literal sense--I live quite comfortably (see the current Casa Bradley on the left). But given that my love wears combat boots, home is pretty much where ever he's assigned. Right now, that's the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

But when I hear fellow debut authors talk about their launch parties in home towns with dozens of friends attending, I have to scratch my head, feeling lost. Truth is, I have friends all over the world. Colorado, North Dakota, California, Holland, France, England, India--you get the idea. So no home town as such. And most everyone's too far away to have a party. I had fun in Birmingham, but still...

The world is my home town. Strange but true.

Realization #2: I really hate talking about myself.

I love Double Vision, and I'm really excited people get to read Linc's story now. I'm proud of this book. But there are only so many times you can talk about it to promote the book. Buy the book, please.

See? Nuf said.

I'd rather talk about someone else.

Realization #3: Book tours are expensive.

Even though the world is my home town, I don't have the budget to tour or host a launch party everywhere. Hence the virtual cake last week. But I'd really like to do a book tour.

Solution: A virtual book tour. Instead of going myself, I thought I would send Linc, since he's a cool dude between missions (hopefully, he'll stay out of trouble this way, too...).

He's going on a tour around the States (since the world is a wee bit ambitious), visiting my favorite book stores along the way. Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Tattered Cover, Hooray for Books!, Little Shop of Stories--and many others. Linc will get the scoop on what's happening at each of these bookstores and what to do for fun in their city or town, and we'll talk gadgets too.

It'll be fun, so I hope you'll tune in! Linc's tour kicks off tomorrow...

And here's a Monday Music song, apropos:

Fun in Birmingham, And My First Signing

I had a blast in Birmingham this weekend. Partied with my SCBWI Southern Breeze peeps, hosted a workshop on writing YA and MG mysteries to a packed room, and had my first official book signing.

See, that's me. Behind me is not a prison, but just a closed high school cafeteria, since that's where the convention was. I was a little worried when I got there, because the bookseller had two huge stacks of Double Vision in the mini-store. Did they think I was famous or something?

But the store sold out, and I had to bring in my box-o-books from the car. So hurrah for Linc!

Cool story: the volunteer assigned to help me out had read the e-book of Double Vision before coming to Birmingham, and from the writing, he thought I was a guy. A compliment, in my opinion, since the book is for boys, sort of. But you can imagine his surprise...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Talking Writer Friends And Birmingham

As I'm celebrating my book launch this week, I really miss my Colorado writer friends. They were there for me when I was collecting rejection letters, and high-fived me when I finally found a home for my writing. They're awesome...

But I made a few new friends, even if they are kind of scattered around the expansive South. Here's a picture of a few Southern Breeze members (my SCBWI chapter--from left to right: Jo Kittinger, Claudia Pearson, and Hester Bass)--they really made this Colorado transplant feel like home.

And I'm off to catch up with them in Birmingham this weekend! I'm teaching a workshop on writing MG and YA mysteries at their Fall Conference. It'll be fun.

Hope to see you there....!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Join Me For My Book Birthday! There's Cake...

If you've been hanging around here a while, you probably know: it's launch day for Double Vision! Seems like it took forever for this day to come, and then suddenly, here we are.

Pass the cake (I'm all about the cake, you know)...

And for more partying, come on over to Sleuths, Spies, and Alibis for an Interrogation Room interview with yours truly. You can enter to win a signed copy of the book!

And if you've followed me this far, I hope you'll consider buying a copy of Double Vision--it makes a great present... Easy buy buttons are to the right, see?

That's it for the hard sell from me. Have some more cake, and let's celebrate!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Music: Happy Birthday, Swedish Chef Style!

As luck would have it, my birthday is today, and my book birthday is tomorrow. So I thought a little Swedish Chef was in order.

Pass the cake, all...!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Want A Free Kid Spy Giveaway Package?

Of course you do--who doesn't love spy stuff and freebies?

There's a nice review of Double Vision up at Criminal Element, and you can win a signed copy, spy gadgets and the latest Spy Kids movie.

Go over there if you're feeling lucky...