Tuesday, April 19, 2022

April 2022 News (or: on reading slumps and lots of editing...)


April snuck up on me like a thief in the night! I’ve been so busy writing, editing, and coming up with ideas for Daybreak on Raven Island’s book launch (in August!) that I didn’t even realize March was over. Phew! I’m not much of a winter person, as pretty as the snow is. And April means we’re getting closer to outside activities, so I’m excited about that.
My lovely Rocky Mountain SCBWI calendar.

On Reaching Reluctant Readers

Recently, I found myself in a bit of a reading slump. Books by my favorite authors just weren’t doing it either, which made me realize it was me, not the book. I just needed a change of scenery.

Reluctant readers can be like this too. And as I’ve talked about here (and there, and everywhere) before, I’m a reluctant reader. It’s not as bad as it once was, but I still find myself hesitant to pick up a book with a fat spine, tiny print, or lots of dense paragraphs (usually of interior monologue that I believe would be better if it were action and/or dialogue).

So what does a reader do when in a slump? I found myself drawn to non-fiction. To novels in verse, poetry. Biographies. Or just a little less reading altogether. That’s okay, I must remind myself. There’s a season for everything, and April in Colorado is still winter. Even on the reading front, it’s okay to have a lesser month of sorts.

As for your reluctant reader, it’s important to remember that ANY READING COUNTS. It keeps the brain moving, which helps with lots of other subjects (in school or life) too. So if you have a reluctant reader at home or in your classroom (my amazing teacher and home schooling friends!), don’t worry if they’re not reading fiction. Non-fiction can be just as beneficial (and great to learn new things!). Or poetry. Maybe even encourage your reader to write their own…

That’s my reluctant reader tip for the month: any reading counts!

This last bit of winter here in Colorado, I take my own advice.


What I'm Up To 
April is all about revision for me—I’m a bear in hibernation, kind of. It’s hard work, but also great to see the story get better with each draft.

I’m still tinkering on my top-secret middle-grade mystery, plus next up this month: last revisions on my YA mystery before it can go back to my agent, and hopefully out into publishing submission land. Exciting and a little terrifying, because this idea has been bouncing around my head for at least a dozen years... It’ll be nice to say I finished the manuscript for sure, whatever happens to it once it leaves my writing studio.

In the meantime, I’ve also been enjoying restoring a few old typewriters I had mostly been using as d├ęcor; I’m proud to say I can type a real life letter, on paper, now. But first, I’ll need to get my finger strength back—typing on a typewriter is no joke.

I’m also looking forward to getting more time outside. I’ve been enjoying putting plants all over the house, but we’re running the risk of jungle status now… Time to get my green thumb on in the yard, where possible here on the western plains.


Where to Find Me
I’m going out into the world again, to see people! In person, and also virtual. It’s so exciting… Here’s where to find me in the next few weeks:
April 23rd, 2022: 
Wandering Jellyfish Bookstore Educator Night, in Niwot, CO
April 24th, 2022: Moderator for Best YA Edgars Panel (virtual), 
MWA Facebook page
May 13th, 2022: StokerCon Librarian Day, Denver, CO
May 14th, 2022: StokerCon Horror University: 
Kidlit 101 (where I talk all about the children’s fiction writing market), Denver, CO


Daybreak on Raven Island
I’m starting to work on dates for appearances for the launch of Daybreak on Raven Island! I’ll be going places in-person like so many writer friends, which I’m sure we’re all excited about.

I am also working on pre-order promotion, and maybe even a street team of sorts… Stay tuned this summer for updates.

I’m so proud of and excited for this ghostly, Alcatraz-inspired mystery, I can’t wait for everyone to read it.

Your Monthly Cat Picture
Floof is supervising my edits. That stare means business...
Want to get your hands on Daybreak on Raven Island the minute it comes out…? You can preorder your copy now; I will be eternally grateful because preorders help an author soooo much…
Haven’t read Midnight at the Barclay Hotel yet…? It’s out in paperback and has a sample chapter of Daybreak on Raven Island in the back…

March 2022 News (Or: on choice for reluctant readers, and good news for the Barclay Hotel)

 On Reaching Reluctant Readers

Last month was all about talking to educators and librarians for me—and it’s my favorite thing to do. I talk about reaching reluctant readers, which is a topic close to my heart.

Because I’m a reluctant reader. If you show me a book with a chunky spine, I’m thinking that I probably won’t read it, or I may just skip over some parts. Maybe I’m impatient, or maybe I’m just like so many other readers like me.

Whatever the reason, it’s so very important to reach reluctant readers and keep them reading. I can throw a whole bunch of statistics your way (as a former accountant, I like numbers), but just one big one is this:

53% of 4th graders read recreationally “almost every day,” while only 20% of 8th graders. (source: dosomething.org)

So we’re losing more than half of those kids who read for fun in 4th grade by the time they reach high school. That’s bad, because reading is vital to success in just about everything, from math, to college, to plain graduating high school so you can get a job.

It’s why I love doing my talk for educators and librarians on reaching reluctant readers. Librarians and teachers are at the front line of making sure kids don’t end up on the wrong side of the statistics.

Here’s the best place to start: choice. As adults, we don’t always realize how little control kids have over what they do, wear, eat, see and read every day. And during these Covid-19 impacted years, choice has become even more scarce for kids and teens.

So here’s a simple thing you can do: take your reluctant reader to the bookstore or library (it’s free!). Then tell them: you can pick anything you want to read.

Because here’s the big secret: all reading counts. It doesn’t matter if it’s the back of a cereal box, a book with hideous pictures of the Guinness Book of World Records or Ripley’s Believe It or Not (my daughter’s favorite when she was young), or a magazine or whatever… All reading gets this magic stuff to happen in a kid’s brain that makes them better at EVERYTHING. Including math.

I know, it’s amazing. So start with choice. It’s fun too, to see wat your reluctant reader chooses. Maybe you can even read a book together.
Off my soapbox now, and on to what I’m doing in March

Good News

There was more good news for Midnight at the Barclay Hotel this past week: the sales numbers are (much, much) better than expected—so thank you! Never in my wildest dream did I think my love for mystery wrapped in a fictional hotel would be such a success. I owe it to all of you who have been spreading the word and putting the book in classrooms and kids’ hands. Thank you.

Midnight at the Barclay Hotel also made the shortlist for the (Texas) Horned Toad Tale Award, which means lots more kids will be reading the book. I feel so fortunate for the support from teachers and librarians.

In short story news: my story set in the Stanley Hotel called Tag, You’re It was accepted for the Haunted States of America SCBWI anthology. More news on publication dates, etc. soon…

What I’m Writing
It’s editing time here in Fleur’s writing studio. Editing is hard work, so I’m setting up a nice corner (with snack bowl and seat for Luna the Floof) and playing some snappy music. I hope to finish edits on a YA mystery I’ve been working on, as well as a middle-grade spooky mystery. Wish me luck…
Daybreak on Raven Island

I’m also looking forward to the launch of Daybreak on Raven Island. I hope to do some in person signings; if you have a favorite bookstore you think I should visit, shoot me an email! And if you’re a reviewer on Edelweiss or NetGalley, I should have info on review copies in the next month or so.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll consider preordering Daybreak on Raven Island here, so you can get it hot off the press on August 23rd

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

February Newsletter: Doing Something Nice Every Day


It’s February! Today kind of snuck up on me, if I’m honest…
I had a productive and inspiring January month, and we even had some snow in Colorado. Snow means moisture here, which we need to ward off those scary fires. Plus, it’s an excuse to have a cup of tea or cocoa by the fireplace—with a good book, of course.
January always has me looking ahead at the year, thinking of what I might want to accomplish. And this time, I want my year to be more than just a list of checked-off tasks, words written, jobs completed. I decided that I’m going to do something nice for someone else every day. During a recent webinar I listened to, presenter Dan Blank called it reaching out with a giving hand. I really like that sentiment. So that’s what I set out to do, all of 2022.
It’s surprisingly easy to do something nice for someone else. You can send a kind message on Twitter or Facebook. You can post a review of someone’s book. You can reach out to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. You can write a letter (so much fun to drop that envelope in the mail!). You can let someone with three items behind you in line (versus your thirty things and all that chocolate, ahem, Fleur) go ahead of you.
The fulfillment of consciously doing one nice thing for someone else, every single day, is unexpectedly great. I’m finding myself being more grateful for what I have. I’m making new friends, and am reconnecting with ones who’ve drifted away in Covid isolation times.
I highly recommend it, this one-nice-thing-for-someone-else daily goal. And what’s nice: all these things are free, or just cost a postage stamp.
It’s especially good to counter the coming months, where I’ll be asking others for help. With my next book coming out, I am encouraging readers and educators to preorder Daybreak on Raven Island, or directing them to Midnight at the Barclay Hotel. But what if you can’t afford to buy books right now, or just not all of them?

I made a handy dandy graphic to show free ways you can help an author—and it doesn’t have to be to help me! But I’ve been so very fortunate to have lots of support for my books, and I want other authors to feel just as lucky. So I’m paying it forward.
And on that note: I should review some books I’ve enjoyed…
A quick addition to brighten your day (it certainly made mine!): with her mom’s permission, here is Grace, dressed up as Penny from Midnight at the Barclay Hotel for Literacy Week at her school.
Doesn’t she look amazing?

Where to Find Fleur
Here in Colorado, we’re carefully dipping our toes into having in-person events again. It’s exciting, although I should probably check to see if I still have pants that fit…

This is where you can find me in February:

Feb. 2, 2022:
World Read Aloud Day 
Feb. 3, 2022, 6 PM MST
Tattered Cover Aspen Grove, CO
in conversation with MG author Heather Sappenfield; signing Midnight at the Barclay Hotel (in person)
Feb. 10-11, 2022
CCIRA, Littleton, CO
SCBWI panel - Feb 10 at 11 AM
SCBWI table in conference hall - Feb 11 at 12 PM (in person)

What I’m Writing

I finished what is (hopefully) a good first draft of a YA mystery at the end of 2021. This story had been bouncing around my brain, so it felt good to complete it. Now, I’ll probably be editing this YA mystery next month.

Daybreak on Raven Island is moving toward the final stages, which means I get to plan the book launch! It’s a bit like planning a birthday party or a wedding, so I’m hard at work on scheduling fun events, online and in person. Stay tuned…

I’m also writing the first draft of a brand new (top secret!) spooky middle-grade mystery and having a blast. This part of the writing is always a lot of fun, especially during winter. I will keep you posted on that!

Your Monthly Cat Picture

If you know me a little, you probably know that I’m a bit of a nutty cat lady. So I’ll end this newsletter with a picture of Luna, A.K.A. the Floof. She keeps me working.

This blog post is available as a newsletter: SIGN UP HERE...! 

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

August news: Reading, Writing, and Getting Back to Social Life. Sort Of...

It's August! That means I'm at that point in summer where I complain a lot about the heat and air quality, and about not being able to cook in the house without sweating. 

But August also means back to school, which I think we're all a bit weary of. I actually jumped and felt my heartrate rise as I passed the back-to-school section last month... 

Let's face it: this whole online schooling, Zooming, and hybrid-or-something learning has been hard on kids and teachers. And although I no longer have kids at this stage, I empathize with all of you who are carrying the weight of Covid... I hope this upcoming school year is a bit calmer for everyone. I look forward to doing lots of  school visits again; I did over a hundred this past school year (!!). If you're an educator and want to invite me for a (virtual or in-person) author visit, you can find more info here. 

For some good news:
Midnight at the Barclay Hotel won the Colorado Book Award! I'm so humbled and proud, and most of all thankful to Colorado Humanities for the honor. Midnight at the Barclay Hotel is going strong (huzzah!) in sales and recognition even a year after publication, and it's out in paperback this month. So if you haven't gotten a copy yet, now is your chance to snag one at a bargain price.

To promote the book, I'll be roaming around Colorado in August, mostly at virtual events but some in person:

Aug. 7-9: Middleground Bookfest, panel on MG mysteries on Aug. 8th. (virtual and free)

Aug. 18: Sisters in Crime Colorado Book club (virtual) 

Aug. 25-29: Bouchercon, New Orleans, LA

Aug 27: SCBWI Colorado Springs meet (in-person, members only) 

More events to come in September and October!

What I'm reading in Young Readers:

I've loved Dori Butler's mysteries for kids for a very long time now. Her Haunted Library books are just the perfect chapter book series; King and Kayla is a great series to check out if you're looking for early chapter books in mystery (which are hard to find). Book #7, King and Kayla and the Case of the Gold Ring is out now.

What I'm reading in MG: 

After we were on a panel together for the Agatha Award nominees for best YA/Juvenile, I finally discovered Elizabeth C. Bunce's Premeditated Myrtle. It won the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile, and I can certainly see why, now that I'm deep into this series...

Such a smart MG mystery; I'm moving on to How to Get Away with Myrtle and having a blast reading. Elizabeth and I will be talking about her third book, Cold-Blooded Myrtle virtually at Murder by the Book on October 5th, if you want to join the MG mystery fun. she's a very entertaining speaker, so you don't want to miss this event!

What I'm reading in YA:

My TBR pile in YA mysteries is resembling the Tower of Pisa right now, but I couldn't resist The Taking of Jake Livingston. The cover had me take notice--nothing like a good spooky mystery to get me longing for those cooler October days leading up to Halloween.

What I'm writing:

I'm hard at work on my next middle-grade mystery, DAYBREAK ON RAVEN ISLAND. It's a little older reading-wise than Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, and a little spookier... Here's the quick summary:

When three kids miss the last ferry to get off Raven Island during a school field trip and are stuck on the island overnight, they must outrun a killer, a weird ghost hunting crew, and a creepy flock of birds--and solve a generations-old mystery--if they want to survive until daybreak. 

It was a blast to write and now edit, and I can't wait to tell you more as we get closer to Summer 2022, when DAYBREAK ON RAVEN ISLAND is out in the world. I had to do lots of research into prisons (think Alcatraz), Alfred Hitchcock suspense, ghost hunting, and ravens. Get ready for me to talk your ear off about all that in 2022...

What I'm doing:

In the meantime, I'm enjoying summer while glamping in our new camper. It's fun, and I'm even getting some writing in here and there. It's a new adventure for sure.

Also, I have a recipe in this fun middle-grade cookbook, which you can download for free! Mary Lanni and Julie DenOuden deserve all the kudos for putting this together. You can download the book here...

Next up:

More editing, and a bit of writing on a brand-new MG mystery, and a (top-secret!) YA mystery project. More on all that when I actually finish writing it... As you can see from this picture, my cat Chloe is on the case.

And finally:

This blog post is actually a newsletter I'm sending to subscribers. If you sign up HERE, you'll be entered to win a signed copy of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel..!

Everyone likes to be a winner, right? Mr. Barclay certainly thinks so...

Friday, July 23, 2021

Don't call it a comeback

I'm still alive, I promise... I've just been spending more time on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and...

Well, I've been writing, which is a good thing. But I do miss hanging out here on the blog. 

So I'm back, slowly dipping my toes into the blog waters again. And I'll be checking out everyone else's blog.

Stay tuned for more from me! 

And if you want to sign up for updates from this blog, go here...

Monday, August 3, 2020

Follow along with the MIDNIGHT AT THE BARCLAY HOTEL blog tour!

I'm so excited for the Aug. 25th release if MIDNIGHT AT THE BARCLAY HOTEL...! 

If you want to join the fun, follow along with the blog tour (and giveaways) here:

Aug. 3rd: Book review at Always in the Middle
Aug. 11th: An interview at MG Bookvillage
Aug 14th: Book review at Charlotte’s Library
Aug. 16th: Guest post: Fleur talks about reaching reluctant readers at Unleashing Readers
Aug. 18th: Review at MG Mojo
Aug. 19th.: Interview and giveaway at From the Mixed-Up Files
Aug. 21st: Book review at Our Thoughts Precisely.
Aug. 23rd: Interview and giveaway at Spooky MG
Aug. 24th: Interview at YA Booknerd
Sept. 4th : Fleur talks about getting out of your comfort zone on Kirby Larson’s blog
Sept. 8th: Fleur outlines how to develop a compelling MG concept at Writer's Digest

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Pre-order Midnight at the Barclay Hotel and get swag!

I'm tearing myself away from summer reading to share a pre-order promotion:

Pre-order Midnight at the Barclay Hotel and get signed bookmarks, a signed bookplate, and a sticker...! Here's what you have to do:

1. Pre-order Midnight at the Barclay Hotel from any retailer--that can be your local independent bookstore, or anywhere online. Here's the link from my publisher Penguin/Random House, where there are buy buttons to pretty much everywhere; 

2. Send a picture of your proof of purchase to Fleur@ftbradley.com, along with your mailing address;

3. I'll send you this swag! Even to you international friends (check your preferred online retailer, or Book Depository if you're outside the U.S.)!

**Ends Sept. 1, 2020, or when I run out of supplies...**

April 2022 News (or: on reading slumps and lots of editing...)

  April snuck up on me like a thief in the night! I’ve been so busy writing, editing, and coming up with ideas for  Daybreak on Raven Island...