Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Breadcrumbs Releases Today!

Anne Ursu's much-talked-about Breadcrumbs releases TODAY! To celebrate, I'm giving away my signed ARC to one lucky commenter! (Okay, it's not signed yet but it will be on Sunday). Comment by 1:00pm CST Friday, September 30th, to enter! And while that's cool, this is waaaaay cooler: Walden Pond Press is giving away an iPad! Follow this link for details!

I can't rave enough about this book. Anne Ursu's capture of the middle grade voice and her treatment of issues at the heart of middle graders - all while weaving a wondrous tale - is hard to place in words. Breadcrumbs is funny, witty, sad, delightful, and beautiful. You simply must read it for yourself.

And the illustrations by Erin McGuire take your breath away. I'm issuing a caution, however, that some of the illustrations were not set at the ARC's printing and say "art to come." But those you do see? Wow. If you want them all, by all means PURCHASE THIS BOOK!! (You really should anyway.)

I reviewed (gushed about) Breadcrumbs this summer; that review/gush is found right here. And.....if you live in the Minneapolis area, Anne Ursu is visiting several local bookstores, as well as The Loft, in October and November. Check her website for details as well as details on her blog tour (which begins today)!

And.....this counts as my Thursday post for the week. I know it's not a writerly one, but Anne's writing style is something to be studied (if you can do that without getting lost in her stories)! So I guess I made it writerly after all.

Happy Breadcrumbs book birthday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Owl Keeper

I was sold on this book by the cover alone, but what's inside is just as wonderful. The Owl Keeper is dark and mysterious but I love the way it keeps hope tucked in a back pocket. That combination makes this book truly magical as Christine Brodien-Jones creates a world where villains are ugly and friends are supportive, but what if you don't know the villains are villains, and what if you've never had a friend? When the High Echelon declares silver owls are extinct, Maxwell Unger doesn't know what to think when one appears in a tree he visits each night.

The premise: When Max's grandma was alive, he was brave. They walked in the forest while she told stories about nature, silver owls, and the Owl Keeper. But then the Great Destruction came, Gran died, silver owls became extinct, and all Gran's books were destroyed. But after a time a silver owl appeared. And then a girl. Max knows he must be brave once again.

What keeps readers reading: A fantastical world where a boy, a girl, and an owl fight to make right what has been wrong for so long. Most people don't remember - or simply don't care - what's wrong anymore because the High Echelon has made life pleasant, comfy, and cozy. Those that don't think so are.......discarded. It's up to Max, his friend Rose, and a silver owl to discover if Gran's stories about the Owl Keeper are truly real.

Other MMGMers and their reviews
Links are in my right sidebar ~~~~~~~>

Happy middle grade reading!
And.....tomorrow is special. Return (tomorrow) to discover why.....  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Writing Tree

When I walk my dog, which is nearly every day, we take a meandering path leading us through a park and out into the woods. And because dogs aren't too interested in people chatter when they walk, I ponder and reflect. And solve all sorts of problems. Okay, not really. But I work through the problems in my writing.

As we walk, my dog and I pass by this tiny tree, and each day this tiny tree inspires me -- and my writing. Just in case the photo doesn't do the tree justice, this is the tree's story.

The tiny tree was growing. Then it broke. In half. Likely in a wind storm last spring. Its main trunk snapped, and its treetop now lies on the ground. But the tiny tree did not die; it did not give up. Inside its tree-self, it decided to keep growing, even though it grows differently than every other tree in the woods. Now, in early fall, the tiny tree has numerous new branches sprouting upwards, as well as the original treetop growing sideways. (Wouldn't this make a perfect picture book?)

Keep the image of my writing tree tucked inside your writing self. This little tree has so much to say. And what do you have to say - are there things you see that inspire what you write?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Winner of Anne's Book!

In celebration of online friends everywhere (scroll two posts down),
the winner of my friend Anne Ylvisaker's  The Luck of the Buttons is.......

Author and illustrator Iza Trapani!! 
Email your snail mail address to the email address listed in my right sidebar so I can mail this little gem to you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Peter Nimble and His Fantstic Eyes is an incredible read and a magnificent read-aloud! My kids and I finished reading it together last week, and while I completely stink at character voices when reading aloud, this debut novel by Jonathan Auxier (released in August 2011) demands unique voices for each character. Each character is that developed and that easily pictured. During the reading of this book, my kids begged, "One more chapter? Please?" and "No! Don't stop there!" each time our reading concluded. We laughed, we cheered, we booed, we perched on the edges of our seats, and we totally LOVED this book!

The premise: Orphaned Peter Nimble is blind. He is also a thief. Not just any thief, but the greatest thief who ever lived. One afternoon during his burgling, he steals a box containing three pairs of magical eyes. When he puts in the first pair, he's transported to an island and presented with a journey. A journey that involves rescuing a kingdom from a traitorous king - in a world beyond known borders. And so begins Peter's escapade into destiny.

What keeps readers reading: The suspense. The characters. The plot. The action. So very, very many things keep readers reading Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes that I cannot name them all. Peter Nimble himself is a character who grows right in your heart. You love him, you want to help him, and you live his life as you read. Jonathan Auxier has a knack for writing a serious, action-packed scene that somehow has you laughing out-loud at the same time. And as a mom, I have to say, when I was reading, I wanted to take Peter Nimble aside, hug him, and tell him everything's gonna be okay. Luckily for Peter, he encountered friends along his journey that have his back.

If I haven't gushed enough, when I read the last sentence and closed this book, my son said, "That's an awesome story." My daughter took the book from my hands, hugged it to her chest, and asked, "Can we read it again?"

Don't forget the other MMGMers!
Find their links in my right sidebar ~~~~~~~>

Happy middle grade reading! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Meeting my Friend Anne (and a Giveaway!)

It's not unusual, I don't think, to have friends we've never met in person. We get to know people through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, emails, or other internet places. And some of these people become people we call friends. And these types of friends are every bit as real and wonderful as those we sip coffee with. (Although I don't sip coffee. Or even drink it. It just sounds so cozy I wish I did).

For me, one of those friends is middle grade author Anne Ylvisaker. I first met her through Twitter. Then I read a book of hers, reviewed it on a Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post (this one), she wrote a guest post on my blog (it's right here), and we began emailing. She's a wonderfully gracious, kind, encouraging, thoughtful friend who makes time for me - even when she doesn't have the time.

One week ago today, I read on Anne's blog that she'd be in Red Wing, Minnesota, on Saturday, September 10, for a children's book festival. Oh. My. Gosh. That's one hour from where I live! So my kids and I drove to the festival and met Anne!!

There are people who doubt a friendship can exist from online communication only. I am not one of those people, but I am grateful for having met Anne in person. I hope it's not the only time I do so. And......quite obviously, she's the published author and knows not to cover the cover of the book with her FINGERS!

Because she and her writing are so wonderful, I bought an extra copy of Anne's latest novel (I'm not nice enough to give you mine) The Luck of the Buttons and had it signed - to give away to one of you!! Comment by 10pm CST on Sunday, September 18, to enter the drawing for a hardcover, signed copy of The Luck of the Buttons.

And just because I'm curious, do you have friends you've never met in person?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Junonia

Junonia, written by Kevin Henkes, is my 'ode to longing for summer.' It takes readers to Florida's beaches for seashell searching and ocean observing. Published in 2011, this novel demonstrates Mr. Henkes' love of the ocean (and all it can teach us) as he guides soon-turning-ten-year-old Alice on a journey for a rarest of rare shells - the Junonia. As Alice searches, she grows in understanding of things that can't stay the same and how to embrace those things, even if she doesn't want to.

The premise: Every year Alice and her parents spend one month of Wisconsin's cold winter along the coast of Florida, and this year Alice hopes for great things. Turning ten and searching harder than ever for that elusive Junonia will make it so. What Alice finds, however, is that the great things she hoped for result in adapting to difference and accepting change. And she's none too happy.

What keeps readers reading: Hoping and hoping Alice finds a Junonia. When Alice's beloved 'Aunt' Kate shows up this year with boyfriend Ted and his young daughter Mallory - and Mr. and Mrs. Wishmeier's grandkids do not come - and neither does Helen Blair - everything Alice dreamed for this Florida vacation fizzles. And to make matters worse, Mr. Barden says something Alice cannot forget and Alice herself says all the wrong things. Junonia shows readers that change comes, no matter what. Kevin Henkes brings us into a beautiful setting, where problems arise and things change, but perhaps the Junonia Alice seeks looks different than she thinks. And perhaps it's the same for us.

Check the other MMGMers recommendations this week:
Follow the links in my right sidebar ~~~~~~>

Happy middle grade reading!  

Friday, September 9, 2011

Blogging Change

Autumn, at least where I live, is a time of change. Even the trees know it. I snapped this photo in late fall last year off my deck. While beautiful, the view is very different from my summer one. And wouldn't you know, my blogging view has changed from summer to fall also. Just when I thought I had it all figured out.

At the beginning of summer, I blogged about my blogging schedule. Middle grade reads on Mondays, writing blurbs on Wednesdays, and free-for-all Fridays. It worked superbly - for summer - until I took an (almost) break from blogging in August and discovered in September that I JUST CAN'T KEEP UP!

You may say, so what? Blog when you can, blog when you feel like it, blog because you want to, and blog because you love it. And I do all those things. But I also love (and need) a schedule. So here it is: on Mondays I'll still share my love of middle grade reads (along with a lovely list of other bloggers who do the same) and Thursdays will be writerly blurbs mixed with a little free-for-all Friday flavor.

There you have it. The new schedule. And......
You guessed it. It's subject to change.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Revising: Post 2

When it comes to revising, I'm a turtle. Yep. Definitely a turtle. It's a good thing I adore turtles and find them too cute for words. Every revised page of my printed manuscript now looks something like this. That's an awful lot of red pen and arrows and notes-to-self. But it doesn't get better until it gets messier, right?

Whenever I'm revising, I remind myself of revising's definition: to change, amend, and improve. IMPROVE. I focus on the improving part. A little over halfway through this first round of revisions, I still discover something each time I tweak.
  • Writing is still more fun for me than revising.
  • But I'm appreciating revising more than I did at first.
  • I'm slower than I thought I would be at revising.
  • Each change makes my story stronger.
  • Sometimes one little revision triggers a WHOLE LOT of revision later on.
  • Solid, genuine critique enriches my story.
  • I dream about actually finishing this round of revisions.
  • Each change makes my story stronger.
So, who's on the revising road with me? What discoveries have you made? And tell me, what kind of revising animal are you?

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Winner of Wolf Storm!

Ahhhhh. It's Labor Day weekend. September has arrived. The high school football team my husband coaches had their first game of the season last night (They won. All was determined on the last play. It was very exciting). These are signs that summer has truly come to an end. And so has my blogging break. I'll be vacationing from the (fun!) labor of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday this coming Monday but will resume my more regular blogging schedule starting Wednesday!

And, just in case you're interested, my Golden Retriever and I have now walked 235 out of the 245 days in 2011 (roughly 95.92%). See this post if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

It's been awhile since I blathered on because I've only been posting Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays for the month of August, so forgive me for getting carried away with my blathering. Now, the moment you've been waiting for has arrived! The winner of Dee Garretson's now released Wolf Storm is.......

Susan Sipal!
*confetti falls*horns blow*
Email your mailing address to my email address (listed in the right sidebar) so I can forward it to Dee! She will mail this action-packed thriller to you. Thank you for celebrating Dee's newest book!