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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cover Reveals - YA (62)

Tumbling by Caela Carter
Work harder than anyone.
Be the most talented.
Sacrifice everything.
And if you’re lucky, maybe you will go to the Olympics.

Grace lives and breathes gymnastics—but no matter how hard she pushes herself, she can never be perfect enough.

Leigh, Grace’s best friend, has it all: a gymnastics career, a normal high-school life... and a secret that could ruin everything.

Camille wants to please her mom, wants to please her boyfriend, and most of all, wants to walk away.

Wilhemina was denied her Olympic dream four years ago, and she won’t let anything stop her again. No matter what.

Monica is terrified. Nobody believes in her—and why should they?

By the end of the two days of the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials, some of these girls will be stars. Some will be going home with nothing. And all will have their lives changed forever.
Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill
Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.
Breaker by Kat Ellis
Kyle Henry has a new name, a new school, and a new life—one without the shadow of the Bonebreaker hanging over him. It's been a year since his serial killer father's execution, and it finally looks like things are turning around for Kyle.

Until he recognizes the girl sitting in the back row in homeroom.

Naomi Steadman is immediately intrigued by Killdeer Academy's newcomer. She does not know he is the son of the man who murdered her mother. What she does know is she and Kyle have a connection with each other—and a spark that Kyle continues to back away from.

Soon after Kyle’s arrival, the death count on campus starts to rise. Someone is set on finishing what the Bonebreaker started, and murdering ghosts from the past may be the only thing that can stop the spree.

Told in alternating viewpoints, Kat Ellis’s tale of mystery and horror is full of broken bonds and new beginnings.
The Transatlantic Conspiracy by G.D. Falksen
The year is 1908. Seventeen-year-old Rosalind Wallace’s blissful stay in England with her best friend, Cecily de Vere, has come to an abrupt end, which is fine with Rosalind. She was getting tired of being high society Cecily’s American “pet.” Her industrialist father is unveiling his fabulous new Transatlantic Express, the world’s first underwater railway. As a publicity stunt he has booked her on the maiden voyage—without asking. Rosalind is furious. But lucky for her, Cecily and her handsome older brother, Charles, volunteer to accompany her home.

Fun turns to worry when Charles disappears during boarding. Then, deep under the sea, Cecily and her housemaid, Doris, are found stabbed to death in their state room. Rosalind is now trapped on Father’s train—fighting to clear herself of her friend’s murder, to find the killer, and ultimately to uncover the sinister truth behind the railway’s construction.
Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker

LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.

CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .

Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.

Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.
A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison
For fans of The DUFF, this hilarious and true-to-teen romance is Broad City meets Judy Blume.

The summer before college, Hannah swears she’s finally going to find The One. And for five perfect minutes, Hannah does find him. He’s cute and makes her laugh like crazy. She just wishes she’d caught his name, because Toilet Boy Cinderella really lacks sex appeal.

For Sam, the summer is off to a bad start for a million reasons. But for five minutes his luck changes: in a fancy restroom painted purple like it belongs in a Bond villain hideaway, Sam falls head over heels for some strange and hilarious girl. Of course, he doesn’t know her name. With his luck, he’ll never see her again, and he’ll remain a girlfriendless, moony-eyed virgin. Forever.

But another chance meeting brings them together, only to have a chance misunderstanding drive them apart . . . and then the cycle starts all over again. Madcap mishaps, raunchy hilarity, and deep romance follow these two wherever they go. For two people so clearly destined for each other, they sure have a hell of a lot of trouble even getting together.

A Song to Take the World Apart by Zan Romanoff
A contemporary YA novel with notes of magical realism. 16-year-old Lorelei has a voice that can change hearts and minds – sometimes unintentionally – and she must learn to gain control of her power before it devastates the people she loves. Publication is set for fall 2016.
 Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
While violence runs rampant throughout New York, a teenage girl faces danger within her own home in Meg Medina's riveting coming-of-age novel.

Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit — and the hardest to accept.
Going Geek by Charlotte Huang
In the story, a girl is forced to stand up for who she really is - if she even knows - when her friends dump her and she is forced to hang out with the fringe crowd at school.
Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett
With masterful nuance and vividly drawn characters, Sonya Hartnett’s novel visits a suburban neighborhood where psychological menace lurks below the surface.

Colt Jenson and his younger brother, Bastian, have moved to a new, working-class suburb. The Jensons are different. Their father, Rex, showers them with gifts — toys, bikes, all that glitters most — and makes them the envy of the neighborhood. To the local kids, the Jensons are a family out of a movie, and Rex a hero — successful, attentive, attractive, always there to lend a hand. But to Colt he's an impossible figure: unbearable, suffocating. Has Colt got Rex wrong, or has he seen something in his father that will destroy their fragile new lives? This brilliant and unflinching new novel reveals internationally acclaimed author Sonya Hartnett at her most intriguing and psychologically complex.
Red Ink by Julie Mayhew
A sharp-witted teenager discovers surprising truths after her mother’s death in a wry and heartrending novel touching on denial, identity, and family lore.
When her mother is knocked down and killed by a London bus, fifteen-year-old Melon Fouraki is left with no family worth mentioning. Her mother, Maria, never did introduce her to a living, breathing father. The indomitable Auntie Aphrodite, meanwhile, is hundreds of miles away on a farm in Crete, and she is not likely to jump on a plane to come to East Finchley anytime soon. But at least Melon has The Story. The Story is the Fouraki family fairy tale. A story is something. Balanced with tenderness and humor, this time-shifting novel offers a narrator by turns angry and vulnerable, hurt and defiant as she struggles with sudden grief—and the unfolding process of finding out who she really is.
How to Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler
This electric cross-country thriller follows the game of cat and mouse between a girl on the run from a murder she witnessed—or committed? —and the boy who's sent to kill her.

Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she's pretty sure she can get away with anything...until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette's house. Which is why she has to disappear.

Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A's and athletic trophies can't make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.

As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.
Lottery Boy by Michael Byrne
In a gripping thriller with a hint of Oliver Twist, a street kid and his dog are chasing an unlikely fortune — and dodging the thugs who would steal it.

Twelve-year-old Bully has lost his mum and his old life. Living rough on the streets of London with his dog, Jack, he can’t imagine a future. But one day he finds, tucked inside his most cherished possession—the last birthday card his mother ever gave him—a lottery ticket he bought her. And it’s a winner. A big winner. Suddenly there’s hope, if only he can get to his prize on time! But just as Bully’s prospects open up, peril closes in. Now ruthless gangsters are in hot pursuit, and everyone wants a piece of him. Whom can he trust to help him retrieve what's his? And even if Bully does claim all that money, will he really be winning what he needs most? Michael Byrne's thrill-packed debut delivers the emotionally charged story of a boy whose luck has changed for the better, if only he can survive long enough to claim it.
Which new covers are your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Interview with Deborah Underwood, author of Here Comes Valentine Cat

The wonderful Deborah Underwood is visiting The Hiding Spot today to celebrate the release of the hilarious new Cat book, Here Comes Valentine Cat. And don't forget to pick up a copy of Here Comes Santa Cat for the holiday; it's one of my favorite holiday picture books! Check out the interview to find about more about Deborah's process, her inspiration, and the next Cat book!


Tell us a bit about your writing process. Do you begin with the text, a general idea, specific scenes...? 
My process varies from book to book. Sometimes I start with a title, and sometimes with a character. The process for the Cat books is unique for me: I actually do rough sketches as I write, because Cat’s actions and expressions are critical to the stories. In general, an author would never submit illustrations along with a story, but this seemed to be the easiest way to get the idea across when I was writing the first book in the series (Here Comes Easter Cat). Since this approach seemed to work for all of us, we just continued in the same manner for the next books. 

After my sketches are done and the book is edited, it goes to the wonderful illustrator, Claudia Rueda, and she takes it from there. Claudia and I don’t communicate directly at all during the illustration process. Picture book authors and illustrators typically don’t; it would be hard for an illustrator to work if an author was hanging over her shoulder trying to direct! 
One of the reasons I so love your Cat books is because my cat, Isabella, and Cat have a lot in common – including their distrust of dogs. Do you have a feline friend who inspires your Cat series? 
As a matter of fact, the series was inspired by my own dear kitty, Bella! If you look at the book flap, in fact, you’ll see that she claims credit for writing the entire series. Cats! (You can see Bella in the photo at the top of this post, too!)
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot. 
You’ve probably heard this before, but the Harry Potter series was a big favorite! J.K. Rowling created such a complete, vivid, and enchanting world, and it was delightful to slip into it again every time a new book came out. 
What can readers look forward to next? 
After Here Comes Valentine Cat, next up is Good Night, Baddies, a picture book about what all the “bad” fairy tale characters do after they clock out and go home. (Hint: they’re probably nicer than you expect!) The book has gorgeous illustrations by Juli Kangas, and publishes in May of 2016. After that, more Cat! We’re working on Here Comes Teacher Cat right now.

About the Book
The New York Times bestselling Cat is back just in time for Valentine’s Day—but he’s not interested in giving a valentine to any old dog. This homage to classic comic strips is perfect for fans of Pete the Cat, Bad Kitty, Mo Willems’s Pigeon books, and of course, Cat’s two previous capers, Here Comes the Easter Cat and Here Comes Santa Cat.

Cat does NOT like Valentine's Day. It's much too mushy, and no way is he making anyone a valentine—especially not his new neighbor, Dog. Dog refuses to respect the fence: He keeps tossing over old bones and hitting Cat in the head! But just as Cat’s about to send Dog an angry "valentine" telling him exactly what he can do with his bones, Dog throws a ball over the fence. What is Dog playing at? Cat is in for a hilarious—and heartwarming—surprise in this story about being perhaps too quick to judge.
About the Author
Deborah Underwood is the author of numerous fiction books for children, including A Balloon for Isabel, Pirate Mom, Part-Time Princess, and the New York Times bestsellers Here Comes the Easter Cat, The Quiet Book, and The Loud Book. She has written more than 25 nonfiction books for kids, and her work has appeared in National Geographic Kids, Ladybug, Spider, and Highlights for Children. She lives in northern California with her cat, Bella.
 Here's a picture of my kitty, Bells! :)


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Cover Reveals - Middle Grade (61)

Five Children on the Western Front by Kate Saunders
In this incredible, heart-wrenching story reminiscent of E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It, Kate Saunders illustrates the power of war but the even greater power of family, and the love that carries us out of the darkness of despair into the light of hope.

The sand fairy, also known as the Psammead, is merely a creature from stories Lamb and Edith have heard their older brothers and sisters tell . . . until he suddenly reappears. Lamb and Edith are pleased to have something to take their minds off the war, but this time the Psammead’s magic might have a serious purpose.

Before their adventure ends, all will be changed, and the Lamb and Edith will have seen the Great War from every possible viewpoint—that of factory workers, soldiers and sailors, and nurses. But most of all, the war’s impact will be felt by those left behind, at the very heart of their family.
Audacity Jones to the Rescue by Kirby Larson
An irrepressible orphan named Audacity Jones is headed on an adventure of historic proportions! The first book in a brand-new series from beloved Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson!

Audacity Jones is an eleven-year-old orphan who aches for adventure, a challenge to break up the monotony of her life at Miss Maisie's School for Wayward Girls. Life as a wayward girl isn't so bad; Audie has the best of friends, a clever cat companion, and plenty of books to read. Still, she longs for some excitement, like the characters in the novels she so loves encounter.

So when the mysterious Commodore Crutchfield visits the school and whisks Audie off to Washington, DC, she knows she's in for the journey of a lifetime. But soon, it becomes clear that the Commodore has unsavory plans for Audie--plans that involve the president of the United States and a sinister kidnapping plot. Before she knows it, Audie winds up in the White House kitchens, where she's determined to stop the Commodore dead in his tracks. Can Audie save the day before it's too late?
The Imagination Box by Martyn Ford
What if everything you imagined could become real?

It all starts when Professor Eisenstone, scientist and inventor, creates a box that’s supposed to turn whatever you imagine into reality. There’s only one problem: he can’t get it to work. Until Tim shows up. An orphan with an especially keen imagination, Tim brings to life Phil, an eloquent finger monkey with a dry sense of humor.
Tim and Professor Eisenstone work in secret to make the box more powerful. But when Eisenstone is kidnapped along with his contraption, Tim, Phil, and the professor’s granddaughter, Dee, must find the criminals before they use the box to turn their imagined evil into something all too real.
Creating a miniature monkey is all well and good. But in order to rescue his friend, Tim will have to face his darkest fears and unleash the true potential of his own mind.
Great Falls by Steve Watkins
When Luke's annoying older brother became a superhero instead of him, Luke thought he couldn't get any more disgruntled-- until his friend Lara became a superhero, too.  Now Luke's feeling totally left out; even his best friend gets mad at him when Luke's attempts at crime-solving without superpowers go terribly awry.  So when Luke discovers an alien plot to overthrow the world, he's got nobody to turn to who'll listen...nobody but his sworn enemy.  In this hilarious sequel to My Brother is a Superhero, Luke will have to put on his big-boy Daredevil underpants and find out what heroes and villains are truly made of.
Princess Juniper of the Anju by Ammi-Joan Paquette

Juniper may have secured her kingdom, but danger – and adventure – are far from over. 

The land known as Queen's Basin is securely under Juniper's rule, and the time has come to focus on saving her father's kingdom. But before she can return to Torr, Juniper must find her subjects' missing horses, which were taken by a tribe of the Anju who live in the Hourglass Mountains – the very tribe her mother once belonged to.

Juniper arrives at the Anju settlement just as the tribe members are about to begin ritual trials to select their next leader. Juniper, whose mother had been next in line for the Anju throne, throws her own hat in the ring. As she competes, however, she must answer the question that's been tugging at her heart: Does she want to rule the Anju because they are her mother's people, or does she have less noble intentions in mind?

Juniper must prove to everyone – especially herself – that she is a brave and strong ruler who puts all her subjects first.

This book series is for girls who love climbing trees in their party dresses and running races in their Mary Janes. It's for girls who know that wearing hair ribbons doesn't stop someone from being strong, and liking perfume and jewelry doesn't mean you can't be smart. Girls who don't even know they're looking for role models will find one in Juniper.
Stars So Sweet by Tara Dairman
Joan Bauer meets Ruth Reichl in this charming middle grade foodie series.

As the summer winds down and Gladys Gatsby prepares to start middle school, she is nervous about juggling schoolwork and looming deadlines from her secret job as the New York Standard’s youngest restaurant critic. When her editor pushes for a face-to-face meeting to discuss more opportunities with the paper, Gladys knows she must finally come clean to her parents. But her perfectly planned reveal is put on hold when her parents arrive home with a surprise:  her Aunt Lydia, one of the only adults who knows her secret, fresh off the plane from Paris. Gladys and Aunt Lydia try one last ruse to fool her editor at the Standard, but even with her aunt’s help, Gladys just can’t manage the drama of middle school and a secret life. It’s time for Gladys to be true to herself and honest with her friends and family, regardless of what those around her think.

The Gallery by Laura Marx-Fitzgerald
A riveting historical art mystery for fans of Chasing Vermeer and The Westing Game, set in the Roaring Twenties!
It's 1929, and twelve-year-old Martha has no choice but to work as a maid in the New York City mansion of the wealthy Sewell family. But, despite the Gatsby-like parties and trimmings of success, she suspects something might be deeply wrong in the household—specifically with Rose Sewell, the formerly vivacious lady of the house who now refuses to leave her room. The other servants say Rose is crazy, but scrappy, strong-willed Martha thinks there’s more to the story—and that the paintings in the Sewell’s gallery contain a hidden message detailing the truth. But in a house filled with secrets, nothing is quite what it seems, and no one is who they say. Can Martha follow the clues, decipher the code, and solve the mystery of what’s really going on with Rose Sewell?

Inspired by true events described in a fascinating author’s note, The Gallery is a 1920s caper told with humor and spunk that readers today will love.
 Wandmaker by Ed Masessa
Magic is real -- and it runs in the family -- in this charming fantasy adventure about a boy who must balance his magical education with the demands of big-brotherhood, perfect for fans of Jenny Nimmo and Angie Sage.

Henry Leach the Eighth doesn't know it yet, but he's descended from a long line of wandmakers. That means he has inherited mysterious powers, a trunk full of strange artifacts... and a whole host of problems.

His biggest problem at the moment, however, is his little sister, Brianna. She's always had a special talent for getting in his way. And she takes troublemaking to new heights when she's caught in the crossfire of Henry's first major spell!

Heartfelt, funny, and imaginative, Wandmaker is sure to leave young readers spellbound.
When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin
A boy’s chance encounter with a scruffy dog leads to an unforgettable friendship in this deeply moving story about life, loss, and the meaning of family

Ben Coffin has never felt like he fits in. A former foster kid, he keeps his head down at school to avoid bullies and spends his afternoons reading sci-fi books at the library. But that all changes when he finds a scruffy abandoned dog named Flip and befriends the librarian's daughter, Halley. For the first time, Ben starts to feel like he belongs in his own life. Then, everything changes, and suddenly, Ben is more alone than ever. But with a little help from Halley's magician father, Ben discovers his place in the world and learns to see his own magic through others' eyes.

Equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming, this book is a must-read for dog lovers and fans of emotionally resonant middle grade novels like One for the Murphys and Okay for Now.
A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee
From the author of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy comes the story of a friendship between two girls set in Victorian England, with magical machines, wizards, witches, a mysterious underworld, and a race against time.

Annabel Grey is primed for a proper life as a young lady in Victorian England. But when her mother suddenly disappears, she’s put in the care of two eccentric aunts who thrust her into a decidedly un-ladylike life, full of potions and flying broomsticks and wizards who eat nothing but crackers. Magic, indeed! Who ever heard of such a thing?

Before Annabel can assess the most ladylike way to respond to her current predicament, she is swept up in an urgent quest. Annabel is pitted against another young witch, Kitty, to rescue the sacred Moreover Wand from the dangerous underworld that exists beneath London. The two girls outsmart trolls, find passage through a wall of faerie bones, and narrowly escape a dragon, but it doesn’t take long for Annabel to see that the most dangerous part of her journey is her decision to trust this wild, magical girl.

Sparkling with Karen Foxlee’s enchanting writing, this is a bewitching tale of one important wand and two most magical girls.
The Secret Sea by Barry Lyga
Pitched as a 21st-century WRINKLE IN TIME, about three friends who find themselves plunged into a world of quantum physics, a rare disease that only affects identical twins, and a mysterious fact about a real-life global catastrophe.
Soldier Sister, Fly Home by Nancy Bo Flood
A tender and gripping novel about family, identity, and loss.

Fourteen-year-old Tess is having a hard enough time understanding what it means to be part white and part Navajo, but now she's coping with her sister Gaby's announcement that she's going to enlist and fight in the Iraq war. Gaby's decision comes just weeks after the news that Lori Piestewa, a member of their community, is the first Native American woman in US history to die in combat, adding to Tess's stress and emotions. While Gaby is away, Tess reluctantly cares for her sister's semi-wild stallion, Blue, who will teach Tess how to deal with tragic loss and guide her own journey of self-discovery.

Lori Piestewa was a real-life soldier who was killed in Iraq and was a member of the Hopi tribe. Back matter includes further information about Piestewa as well as a note by author Nancy Bo Flood detailing her experiences living on the Navajo reservation. A pronunciation guide to all Navajo vocabulary used within the text is also included.
Little Cat's Luck by Marion Dane Bauer
From Newbery Honoree Marion Dane Bauer comes a heartwarming novel in verse that's a companion to the "wholly satisfying&" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) Little Dog, Lost.

When an indoor calico cat named Patches spots a golden autumn leaf fluttering past her window, she can't help but venture outside to chase it. But soon, Patches feels something tugging at her, telling her to find a special place--one she won't know until she sees it. Why must she go on this search? She doesn't know yet.

Along the way, Patches finds herself in dire circumstances, but with the help of the other neighborhood animals, she faces off against the scariest dog in town and continues on her journey to her special place.

Beautifully told in verse and accompanied by adorable illustrations by Jennifer A. Bell, this heartwarming novel from Newbery Honor winner, Marion Dane Bauer, is a timeless, touching, and fulfilling story about finding your way home.
Which new covers are your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Interview + Giveaway with Marilyn Hilton, author of Full Cicada Moon

Full Cicada Moon, a gorgeous MG verse novel, was one of my favorite reads of 2016, so I'm incredibly happy to share this interview with author Marilyn Hilton at The Hiding Spot today. After reading the q&a, be sure to enter to win one of 3 finished copies of Full Cicada Moon!


Mimi, the main character of Full Cicada Moon, is a joy to read. She’s bright and passionate and, even when the world seems determined to hold her back, she perseveres. Can you share a bit about your inspiration for Mimi’s character? 
Thank you for saying that about Mimi! She was a joy for me to write, too. I wanted to write a book about a character like my kids (two daughters and a son), who are also mixed race and who, like Mimi, are intelligent, kind, determined, and courageous. I wanted Mimi to have the ability to transcend her current situation and move in the world as she believes it should be, instead of how it is. This belief in herself and her abilities, combined with her relentless persistence and optimism, are, I believe, what allowed Mimi to succeed. If she had been a real person, she would have changed the world in positive and remarkable ways. 

In writing this character, I also drew on my own experiences growing up, remembering how it felt at times to be self-conscious and misunderstood, and how painful it is when you don’t fit in. These feelings are universal and timeless, which is why I think readers can relate to Mimi. 
Full Cicada Moon, is written in verse, but your previous novel for middle grade readers, Found Things is not. How do you decide which format is best suited for a particular story or character? Do you feel more comfortable writing in a certain format? 
The story naturally dictates the form, so I have to “listen” carefully for the right fit in the developmental stage of writing a book. Experimenting with the right format, point of view, and verb tense is fun, though it’s part of the work of writing. Once I figure this out, the writing becomes easier. 

The story of Full Cicada Moon came to me very quickly, and to capture it as fast as it flowed, I began writing it in free-verse form. I had written lots of poetry in graduate school and beyond, so it felt natural to write this way. Also, this story is as much about Mimi’s observations and emotional responses as it is about what happens, and told from a deeply personal place in the character, so verse felt like a perfect fit for this story. 
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end? 
I really admire writers who can fully outline a book before they begin writing. I’m not one of those writers! I often begin writing because I have a character in a situation that intrigues me. With River, in Found Things, there was a girl who had lost her brother. With Mimi, in Full Cicada Moon, there was a girl of mixed race who was moving to a new home. And I have a question, like: “Will River find her brother?” or “Will Mimi succeed in her new home and at her new school?” I’ll also have a general idea of the story’s arc, and I know how the story will end. Then I begin writing from the beginning. But—either because I can’t keep track of too many details at once or because I like surprises—I like to see where the story goes as it’s being written. I love when it takes unexpected turns—for example, the character of Benjamin just popped into Found Things, and in Full Cicada Moon Mimi lived in 1969 and wanted to be an astronaut. Sometimes these surprises turn out to be rabbit trails, but at other times I realize they were always integral to the story and were just waiting to be discovered. 
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration? 
This is an interesting question! I’ve had so many jobs—worked in retail, was an administrative assistant, taught college remedial reading, and taught English in Japan. For the past several years I’ve been a technical writer in the software industry, and most recently a technical editor, which I enjoy. I’ve always loved language, and the relationships between words, sounds, images, thoughts, and emotions, and I’ve always wanted to write stories. I think that what has inspired me more than my jobs have been the people I’ve met and the stories they’ve told. Everyone has a fascinating story to tell, and whether the story is funny, sad, or sobering, it’s always humbling. A sacred connection occurs between the person telling and the person listening, as if the story is moving from one soul to the other, so I always feel inspired by this experience. 
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 
Definitely, my favorite word is “Try,” because you’ll never know what you can accomplish unless you try it. I’ve been surprised many times by trying to do something I never thought was possible. Trying gives us the freedom to fail, and in failing, we always learn something until finally we succeed. You never lose by trying—you can only win! 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot. 
I had many hiding spots when I was growing up, but the book I loved most for a long time was Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary. I used to get into messes like Henry when I was a kid, so I could relate to him. But it was reassuring that everything always worked out fine for him in the end. Years later, I fell in love with Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo for every reason—the story, the character Opal, the other flawed but lovable characters, the voice, and the magic. That book inspired me to write the kinds of stories I wanted to tell. In fact, the day before I met Kate for the first (and only time) at a book signing event, a package of ARCs (advanced reading copies) of Found Things had been delivered to my house. So, I took that as a good sign! 
What can readers look forward to next? 
I’m having fun trying out a few new ideas, which are different from the previous novels but also for middle-grade readers. I love writing for this age group, because readers are experiencing so many brand-new and exciting things, and the books they read can reflect and encourage these discoveries.


3 winners. Open to US only. Ends January 1, 2016.
About the Book
Inside Out and Back Again meets One Crazy Summer and Brown Girl Dreaming in this novel-in-verse about fitting in and standing up for what’s right

It's 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi's appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi’s dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade—no matter how many times she’s told no.

This historical middle-grade novel is told in poems from Mimi's perspective over the course of one year in her new town, and shows readers that positive change can start with just one person speaking up.
About the Author 
Marilyn Hilton is the author of two novels and two nonfiction books. She has also published numerous articles, devotions, short stories, and poems in literary and consumer magazines, and has contributed to various compilations. Her work has won several awards including the Sue Alexander Award for 2011. 
She holds a MA in English/Creative Writing and has worked for several years in the computer software industry as a technical writer and editor. Marilyn is a member of several professional organizations. As a freelance editor and a frequent contest judge, she enjoys helping other writers develop their gifts. As a speaker, she enjoys encouraging her listeners. As a writer, she enjoys telling “stories that stick” to readers of all ages.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Interview with Eric Lindstrom, author of Not If I See You First

A few weeks ago the wonderful Mariam (from Flying Through Fiction) and I buddy read Eric Lindstom's phenomenal novel, Not If I See You First. Mariam was prepping for exams and I was just beginning the descent into holiday retail madness (as one does as a bookseller), but we both devoured Lindstrom's debut. Today, Mariam are both thrilled to be featuring Lindstrom and Not If I See You First on our blogs. After you read my interview with Eric below, be sure to check out Mariam's post here!
I love how smart and snarky your main character is. Can you speak a bit about developing your main character’s voice and personality? 
It’s relatively easy to make a character smart, since authors have more time to think about everything than anyone actually does in real time. The trick is not making them too smart or they’ll come off as contrived. Snarky is easy, too, because I just let Parker say things a lot of people would think but don’t say out loud. The decision to have her say these things was less straightforward. It came from this idea that Parker growing up got less negative feedback than average for her speech. Years of disapproving facial expressions encourage people who can see them to be more careful about what they say. This didn’t happen to Parker, so she has less filter than most. 
Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end? 
Not If I See You First is the first story I’ve written without an outline, and it was an unexpectedly wonderful experience. But having no outline doesn’t mean I had no destinations in mind. I always have strong ideas about what conflicts to explore, and how I want them to evolve in high-level ways. The events themselves and the details come as I go. I think this combination of goals and flexibility is important. Characters need to be true to themselves in what they do, but also, a story about a journey that the author knows will end in failure should be written differently than if it will end in success. But once I know the basics, then it’s like building a tower, starting at the bottom and adding floors one at a time. I can never write a later scene out of sequence because everything has to be aware of every aspect of what came before, from the broadest concepts down to word choices. So while I know how things will generally turn out, I write linearly and freely from a starting point. Sometimes I do end up in a different place than I expected, and when that happens I’m usually very glad I did. 
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration? 
I’ve wanted to be an author since I was a little kid, but I’ve always understood it might take awhile to do it full time. After high school I got a degree in Mechanical Engineering, but it didn’t take long to see that it didn’t suit me as a career. Then I landed in the computer games industry by accident, writing instruction manuals for games, and later marketing and advertising copy, and I realized it was possible to have a career in writing without being a full-time novelist. Progressing in the video games industry, however, led me to becoming a game designer, which is the role that sets the rules and determines the content of a game, including writing any stories and dialog and descriptions, so my experience in games contributed a lot to my growth as a writer. But few roads are straight or simple; along the way I also got a teaching credential, worked as a substitute elementary school teacher, and a part-time kindergarten teacher. But really, just waking up and walking down the street gives a writer experience and inspiration about what to write. 
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why? 
Enigma. Because. 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot. 
That would have to be The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy by Douglas Adams. They are the only books I will pick up, flip to a random page, and start reading no matter where I landed. Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes hours. It always makes me happy and ready to come back to the world and try again.
What can readers look forward to next? 
I’m just now finishing my second book, a YA novel scheduled to release in the Fall of 2016, announcement to come soon!

About the Book
The Rules:

Don't deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.

Don't help me unless I ask. Otherwise you're just getting in my way or bothering me.

Don't be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I'm just like you only smarter.

Parker Grant doesn't need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That's why she created the Rules: Don't treat her any differently just because she's blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.

When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there's only one way to react-shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that's right, her eyes don't work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn't cried since her dad's death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened--both with Scott, and her dad--the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.

About the Author 
In addition to writing Young Adult novels, Eric Lindstrom has worked in the interactive entertainment industry for years as a creative director, game designer, writer, and usually combinations of all three. As Editor and Co-Writer for Tomb Raider: Legend he received a 2006 BAFTA nomination for Best Video Game Screenplay, and then as the Creative Director for Tomb Raider: Underworld he received a 2009 BAFTA nomination for Best Action Adventure Video Game and a 2009 WGA nomination for Best Writing in a Video Game.

He has also raised children, which led to becoming first a school volunteer, then a substitute teacher, then a part time kindergarten teacher, then getting a credential to teach elementary school, and most importantly the discovery that YA literature is awesome. It’s pretty much all he ever reads, and now writes, in his house near the beach on the west coast, with his wife and, yes, cats.