Interview with Claire M Caterer, Author of The Key and the Flame

Claire M Caterer is our special guest today.  Please welcome her to the virtual offices!  Claire is here to chat about her MG release, The Key and The Flame, which hits shelves in April.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Claire M Caterer] I love great stories in all forms; music I can sing to; animals of all sizes; travel & nature. Mostly introverted, sometimes a showoff.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Key and the Flame?

[Claire M Caterer] Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard, who leads a very ho-hum kind of life, receives a strange gift from an elderly British caretaker. The gift is just an old iron key, but when Holly discovers an ancient tree that contains a keyhole, she finds that her key unlocks the portal to a medieval world of danger and magic. Along with her brother Ben and their new friend Everett, Holly travels there, and the kids find themselves locked in a battle for their lives as a ruthless king attempts to wipe out all the magic in the land. It’s the first in a five-part series, the second book of which will come out in summer 2014.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Claire M Caterer] The forest is a magical place to me—huddled in its own ecosystem, cut off from the world, quiet and green. One day on one of my favorite walks, I came upon an incredible tree and thought, “I wouldn’t be surprised if this were a portal to somewhere fantastic and magical.” Holly as a character grew naturally out of the plot, because she is a person who can be very quiet in the natural world and listen for the things that other people miss. She shares some qualities with me, including her eyeglass prescription. I identify with Ben in other ways, particularly his allergy to horses.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Holly?

[Claire M Caterer] outsider, adventurous, honorable

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Holly had a theme song, what would it be?

[Claire M Caterer] The best I can come up with is an old Cole Porter song—“Don’t Fence Me In.” Holly’s not a cowboy, but that is her ethic. She just wants to be free to be herself, not to be hobbled or tied down to convention.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Holly won’t leave home without.

[Claire M Caterer] Her compass. Holly needs to know where she’s going, and she trusts science and nature to get her there. It takes her quite awhile to trust her magic in the same way.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Holly’s most prized possession?

[Claire M Caterer] Her magic key. What this key opens, and what the key becomes, makes it her most prized possession. It is her power.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Claire M Caterer] As a kid I read and reread The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I also loved Roald Dahl, J.R.R. Tolkien, E. B. White, and Madeleine L’Engle. And there are so many others!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Claire M Caterer] Ideally I need quiet, my cup of coffee, and my computer. While I can write longhand, I love the convenience of having the delete key! The coffee is more of a crutch than a tool. I like to have the cup next to me, but if I really get going it just sits there and gets cold. As for quiet, some noise is all right, but I absolutely cannot write if there’s music playing. I get caught up in the music and can’t get immersed in my imaginary world.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Claire M Caterer] A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness—I read it last summer. I was able to crawl right inside that character and feel what he was feeling. The pencil drawings are exquisite—so evocative. I loved that marriage of illustration and text. The writing is sharp, beautiful, horrifying. And it made me cry, which most books don’t.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Claire M Caterer] That’s tough, because I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember. But there was a marvelous book that’s out of print now called The Hidden Cave by Ruth Chew, about some kids who found a cave in an old sewer pipe in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. In the cave they found Merlin the magician, who led them on some interesting magical adventures. Ruth Chew was a wonderful writer of short middle-grade fantastic fiction, and she drew her own illustrations, which I liked. I probably started reading her books in second grade and couldn’t get enough of them.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Claire M Caterer] I read as much as I can. I don’t watch a lot of television but am very devoted to the shows I do watch, especially British comedy and drama. I also love going on outings with my daughter. We go to parks and nature trails and the arboretum and botanical gardens whenever we can. I like to wander.

I love to travel, but don’t do as much as I’d like. Otherwise, I’m home with my dogs. I crank up something like the soundtrack to Mamma Mia! and dance around the house.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Claire M Caterer] I love talking with readers, and they can find me at my new-fangled website and blog, my Facebook and Twitter pages, and on Goodreads. They can also email me to ask questions or just to chat at readerchat [at] cmcaterer.com.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can pre-order The Key and the Flame from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the links below:

 

About the book:

Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard wants nothing more than to seek adventure outside of her humdrum American life. She gets her chance at last when her family travels to England and Holly receives an unusual gift: an iron key that unlocks a passage to the dangerous kingdom of Anglielle, where magic is outlawed and those who practice magic are hunted. When her friend Everett and brother Ben are captured by Anglielle’s ruthless king, Holly must rescue them. But that means finding—and using—the magic within herself and learning which magical allies she can trust.

The Key & the Flame is the first in a brand-new fantasy adventure series for ages 8 and up.

Waiting on Wednesday–Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

I’m kind of scared to read Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson because I will be worried that something bad happens to the dogs, but I am fascinated by the premise.  Long wait on this one!

Hits stores February 2014

Victoria Secord, a 14-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer loses her way on a routine outing with her dogs. With food gone and temperatures dropping, her survival and that of her dogs and the mysterious boy she meets in the woods, is entirely up to her. Author Terry Lynn Johnson is a musher herself and her crackling writing puts readers at the reins as Victoria and Chris experience setbacks, mistakes, and small triumphs in their wilderness adventure.

What are you waiting on?

Interview with Kathryn Fitzmaurice, Author of Destiny, Rewritten

Kathryn Fitzmaurice is our special guest today.  She’s here to fill us in about her newest release, Destiny, Rewritten.  Please give her a warm welcome!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] extremely neat, mostly organized, mother of two boys, dog lover.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Destiny, Rewritten?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] Here is a review from Shelf Awareness, written by Jennifer Brown. I think it does a terrific job of summarizing the story!

From Shelf Awareness, (Jan 2013)

Children’s Review: Destiny, Rewritten

Destiny, Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, $16.99 hardcover, 352p., ages 9-12, 9780061625015, February 19, 2013)

Kathryn Fitzmaurice (The Year the Swallows Came Early) creates another memorable 11-year-old grappling with her identity and her passions.

Emily Elizabeth Davis lives with her mother, aunt and cousin in the heart of Berkeley, Calif., where everybody knows everybody. Her mother named her for Emily Dickinson, but Emily prefers romance novels to poetry. She’s read almost half of Danielle Steel’s books, and copies down the happy endings of each of them.

Fitzmaurice portrays a strong bond between mother and daughter, and chronicles the tension that develops between them over her mother’s aspirations for Emily versus Emily’s own interests, and Emily’s growing resentment of her mother’s caginess about the identity of Emily’s father. The woman inscribes a first edition of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson to Emily: "Emily Dickinson is one of the great poets. The same will be said of you one day." Rather than keeping a photo album for Emily, she records each milestone of Emily’s life next to a poem that ties in; "the road map of your life," she calls it. She wrote Emily’s birth weight and height in the margins of "Angels, in the early morning," and recorded the date of her first steps next to "I’ll tell you how the Sun rose." Just after Emily learns that her mother wrote her father’s name in the margins of the Dickinson poetry book, the heroine inadvertently places it on top of some donation boxes. Suddenly the road map to Emily’s life is gone. For the balance of the novel, she searches the town to find the volume.

Besides confiding in Danielle Steel through letters, Emily also has a best friend, Wavey St. Clair. Wavey is so loyal, she compromises her perfect attendance record to help Emily search for her book. Fitzmaurice possesses a perfect ear for dialogue when it comes to conversations between the sixth graders.

Emily grapples with whether destiny truly does rule her life, or whether, "if you do something every once in a while that’s unexpected,… it might change the way you are." Emily’s search for her book, her internal debate about destiny and the ways in which the heroine makes small changes in her life all come together into a moving climax. Emily comes to realize that sometimes the answer you needed was right there all the time. –Jennifer M. Brown

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] My grandmother gave me a volume of Emily Dickinson poetry for my twentieth birthday. Inside she wrote, “E.D. is a revered poet. Perhaps one day the same will be said of K.H. Happy Birthday, Love, Gramma Eleanor.” This was the starting point for DESTINY, REWRITTEN. I thought she had predicted my future and then I decided to make this into a story.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Emily?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] friend, romance writer

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Emily is never without.

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] Her notebook filled with happy endings.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Emily’s bedroom?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] Well, because Emily tries to change her destiny, she suddenly finds herself inside a messy room, but it really bothers her and she does her best to live with it. But before she became messy, you would have never found a pair of socks thrown on her floor, or things out of order. Everything in her closet was completely organized, even her tennis shoes were in order from lightest to darkest.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Emily had a theme song, what would it be?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] This is a very good question. Maybe it would be the song on the book trailer, which is on my website.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] My grandmother, Eleanor Robinson, who wrote science fiction novels, and any novel written by Gary D. Schmidt and Kate DiCamillo, who are both brilliant authors.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] My computer, my desk, and a cup of green tea.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] THE DOG STARS, by Peter Heller. This was an amazing, very well written book that I could not put down.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] The Little House Books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I still have my first edition set.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] Walk my dog, Holly, to the beach and back. But since dogs are not allowed on the sand, I like to walk on the beach with my friends, barefoot, through the waves.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Kathryn Fitzmaurice] Through my website, there are many ways to connect with me. You may send me an email, or follow me on twitter, or friend me on Facebook.

Thank you very much for interviewing me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase Destiny, Rewritten from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.  Available in print and digital.

 

About the book:

Des·tin·y: |destin?/
(noun) The hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate.

Eleven-year-old Emily Elizabeth Davis has been told for her entire life that her destiny is to become a poet, just like her famous namesake, Emily Dickinson. But Emily doesn’t even really like poetry, and she has a secret career ambition that she suspects her English-professor mother will frown on. Then a seeming tragedy strikes: just after discovering that it contains an important family secret, she accidentally loses the special copy of Emily Dickinson’s poetry that was given to her at birth. As Emily and her friends search for the lost book in used bookstores and thrift shops all across town, Emily’s understanding of destiny begins to unravel and then rewrite itself in a marvelous new way.

In her third novel, Kathryn Fitzmaurice again weaves a richly textured and delightful story about unexpected connections, about the ways that friends can help us see ourselves for who we truly are, and about the most perfect kinds of happy endings: those that happen just on time.

Review: Peanut by Ayun Halliday & Paul Hoppe

 

 

Title: Peanut

Author: Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

"Before you write me off as a delusional psycho, think about what it’s like to be thrown into a situation where everyone knows everyone . . . and no one knows you." Sadie has the perfect plan to snag some friends when she transfers to Plainfield High—pretend to have a peanut allergy. But what happens when you have to hand in that student health form your unsuspecting mom was supposed to fill out? And what if your new friends want to come over and your mom serves them snacks? (Peanut butter sandwich, anyone?) And then there’s the bake sale, when your teacher thinks you ate a brownie with peanuts. Graphic coming-of-age novels have huge cross-over potential, and Peanut is sure to appeal to adults and teens alike.


Review:

When I received this book, I was a bit mystified.  Why, oh why would anyone pretend to have a fatal peanut allergy?  Baffled, I dug right into this graphic novel, intrigued to see if there was a compelling reason for Sadie to fabricate such a serious health issue.  After finishing the book, I have to say that I didn’t find it.  While the characters are likable, the rationale behind Sadie’s pretend illness just didn’t cut it for me.  Sadie’s little white lie, which quickly spirals out of control, is spun in an effort to be more popular at her new school. 

After talking to a girl about her medical alert bracelet, Sadie is so fascinated by the thought of having a severe peanut allergy that she orders a bracelet of her own.  I wanted to question how she was able to accomplish this, online, without a credit card or her mother’s knowledge, but I didn’t.  I just followed along with Sadie as she experiences the unintended consequences of her little lie.  A concerned teacher has her freaked out because she hasn’t turned in a health form, signed by her mother,  to the school nurse, and that EpiPen that she’s supposed to carry with her at all times?  Yeah, she needs a prescription to have access to that prop.  When a new friend asks to see it, she flips out on him.  When her new boyfriend thinks that she’s eaten a chip cooked in peanut oil, she realizes that living with this lie isn’t going to be easy.

The thing that kept me engaged in the story was Sadie’s fear of discovery.  Afraid to fess up to her new friends, she just keeps digging herself into a deeper and deeper hole.  She is terrified that the truth will come out, and when it does, that she will lose all of the friends that she’s made.  When reality does come crashing down around her, it is every bit as awful as she feared.  I think that the fallout was shortchanged, and that mending her bridges went too easy for her.  From her first day of school, the image of herself that she projected was all based on fallacy, and the small amount of page time given for her repentance was disappointing.

The art is quirky and it works well with the tone of the story.  I loved the splash of color from Sadie’s clothes. 

Grade:  C+

Review copy provided by publisher

Pandora the Curious (Goddess Girls #9) Book Blast Giveaway!

I have read and enjoyed a few of the Goddess Girls books, so I’m happy to participate in this book blast for the latest, Pandora the Curious.  This is the 9th book in the series. Enter below for a chance to win a $100 Amazon or Paypal Gift card!


Goddess Girls #9 – Pandora the Curious

Is Pandora about to open up a box of trouble?

One of the few mortals at Mount Olympus Academy, Pandora is famous for her mega quizzical nature—not that she thinks there’s anything wrong with being curious, of course!

Her curiosity kicks into high gear when a godboy named Epimetheus brings a mysterious box to school. Epimetheus is the nephew of an MOA teacher in whose class Pandora once opened another box that sent a few weather disasters to earth. Still, Pandora can’t help but take a peek inside this new box when it unexpectedly lands in her lap. What could be the harm in that, right? Little does she know that opening the box will open up far more trouble than she ever expected!

Authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams put a modern spin on classic myths with the Goddess Girls series. Follow the ins and outs of divine social life at Mount Olympus Academy, where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills.


Purchase


Praise for The Goddess Girls
“…a clever take on Greek deities…”
~ Booklist

"Readers familiar with Greek myths should get a kick out of this plucky restaging."
~Publisher’s Weekly

“…an enchanting mythological world with middle-school woes compounded by life as a deity…”
~ School Library Journal


The Goddess Girls Series

The Goddess Girls series, by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams puts a modern spin on classic Greek myths. Follow the ins and outs of divine social life where the most privileged godboys and goddessgirls in the Greek pantheon hone their mythical skills.
  • Athena the Brain Finding out she’s a goddess and being sent to Mount Olympus brings Athena new friends, a weird dad, and the meanest girl in mythology—Medusa! 
  • Persephone the Phony Hiding her feelings works fine for Persephone until she meets a guy she can be herself with—Hades, the bad-boy of the Underworld. 
  • Aphrodite the Beauty Sure Aphrodite is beautiful, but it’s not always easy being the goddessgirl of love. 
  • Artemis the Brave She may be the goddess of the hunt, but that doesn’t mean Artemis always feels brave. 
  • Athena the Wise Zeus says Heracles has to do twelve tasks or he’ll get kicked out of MOA! Although she’s not sure it’s wise, Athena agrees to help out. 
  • Aphrodite the Diva Isis claims she’s the goddess of love? Ha! But to keep the title all to herself, Aphrodite has to find the perfect match for Pygmalion, the most annoying boy ever. 
  • Artemis the Loyal It’s time for the annual Olympic Games, and Artemis and her friends are not happy. It’s boys only. Not fair! 
  • Medusa the Mean Medusa wants to be more like her two sisters and the other kids at Mount Olympus Academy — immortal. Is that too much to ask? 
  • The Girl Games (Goddess Girls Super Special) Listen in on what all four goddess girls are thinking as Mount Olympus Academy hosts visitors from many lands–including an adorable kitten!The first-ever standalone superspecial in the Goddess Girls series! 
  • Pandora the Curious
  • Pheme the Gossip (Apr. 3, 2013) 
  • Persephone the Daring (Aug. 7, 2013) 
The Goddess Girls




Author Suzanne Williams

Suzanne Williams is the award-winning author of nearly 40 books for children, from picture books and easy readers to chapter books and middle grade fiction series. A former elementary school librarian, she lives near Seattle. Her picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) won the New Mexico children’s choice award in 2000 and was on several other state award lists. She is co-author (with Joan Holub) of the popular Goddess Girls series(for ages 8 – 12) and Heroes in Training (ages 6 – 11). Other series include Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power.








Author Joan Holub

I graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree, and then freelanced as an art director at a graphic design firm for eight years. I dreamed of working in children’s books, so I moved to New York City and became associate art director in Scholastic trade books, where I designed books for children and worked with editors and illustrators. It was a great job.

I illustrated my first published children’s book in 1992 and soon began illustrating full time. I began completing manuscripts and mailing them out to publishers in the early 1990s. In 1996, I sold my first two manuscripts — Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book (Scholastic) and Pen Pals (Grosset & Dunlap). Yippee!

Now I write full time and have written and/or illustrated over 130 children’s books. Creating books that entertain, inform, and interest children (and me) is a fabulous job that I truly love.







Book Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 12/16/12
*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry. Simply enter it when you follow Joan and leave the others blank.

Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent’s permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


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Poseidon and the Sea of Fury Book Blast Giveaway!

I have read some of the Goddess Girls books and enjoyed them, but I haven’t had a chance to check out any of the Heroes in Training titles.  They look like fun reads, too!  Enter below for your chance to win a $100 Amazon or Paypal Gift card!
 
Poseidon and the Sea of Fury

A young Poseidon must triumph over aquatic terrors in this Heroes in Training adventure. The merciless Cronus and his Titan buddies are in hot pursuit of Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon, who plan to travel across the treacherous boiling sea in order to save a fellow Olympian. They have a boat, but they also have a problem: Poseidon can’t swim and is terrified of the water (well, really of the creatures that lurk in its depths). The group faces danger after danger as they battle singing sirens, a fishy and ferocious Titan named Oceanus, and people-eating monsters sent by Cronus himself. Can Poseidon overcome his fears and help his fellow heroes escape Cronus and his cronies?






Purchase



Heroes in Training by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
Authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams deliver fun, adventures, and a few surprises as ten-year-old Olympians go on a journey of a lifetime to discover their true identities and defeat their Titan enemies.


Praise for Heroes in Training
"Readers will gobble this down and look for more, make no mythtake."
~ Kirkus

“This is a fun read, casting Zeus in the role of relatable kid, and there is a nice balance between his primary goal of survival and his sense of destiny and adventure. . . Share this title, and likely more to come, with those still too young for Percy Jackson’s adventures.”
~ School Library Journal



The Series

#1 Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom
#2 Poseidon and the Sea of Fury
#3 Hades and the Helm of Darkness
#4 Hyperion and the Great Balls of Fire

Aladdin Paperbacks (ages 6-9)
http://series.simonandschuster.com/Heroes-in-training



Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom (Book 1)


After pulling a magical thunderbolt from a stone, ten-year-old Zeus goes on the adventure of a lifetime in this thrilling start to a brand-new series! The terrible Titans–merciless giants who enjoy snacking on humans–have dominated the earth and put the world into chaos. But their rule is about to be put to the test as a group of young Olympians discover their powers and prepare to righteously rule the universe….
   
     Ten-year-old Zeus is mystified (and super-annoyed) by the fact that he keeps getting hit by lightening. Every. Single. Year. He also longs for adventure, as he has never been far from the cave where he grew up.

     Zeus gets his wish–and a lot more than he bargained for–when he is kidnapped by dangerous, giant Titans! In self-defense, he grabs the first thing he sees–an actual thunderbolt he pulls from a stone that is covered in mysterious markings. Zeus is the only one who can decipher the markings, and sets off on a quest to rescue his youthful fellow Olympians from the evil Cronus. Armed with his trusty thunderbolt (named Bolt, of course), Zeus is on an adventure of a lifetime–and a journey to fulfill his destiny as King of the Gods.



Hades and the Helm of Darkness (Book 3 coming April 2013)


The Heroes in Training are entering the Underworld—if Hades can conquer his canine fears, that is.

The Underworld usually isn’t really meant to be a fun place—but tell that to Hades! He loves the dark and the stinky smell of sulfur. However, there is one thing that Hades is not a fan of: dogs. And when Zeus and his fellow Olympians encounter Cerberus—a snarling, three-headed dog—Hades must conquer his fears and tame the hound so everyone can continue into the Underworld and deposit their Titan prisoner, Oceanus, back where he belongs!

But with magical water that causes forgetfulness, hot beds of lava, and another epic battle with two more Titans standing in their way, will Zeus and his heroes make it out of the Underworld with everyone intact?



Author Suzanne Williams

Suzanne Williams is the award-winning author of nearly 40 books for children, from picture books and easy readers to chapter books and middle grade fiction series. A former elementary school librarian, she lives near Seattle. Her picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg) won the New Mexico children’s choice award in 2000 and was on several other state award lists. She is co-author (with Joan Holub) of the popular Goddess Girls series(for ages 8 – 12) and Heroes in Training (ages 6 – 11). Other series include Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power.








Author Joan Holub

I graduated from college in Texas with a fine arts degree, and then freelanced as an art director at a graphic design firm for eight years. I dreamed of working in children’s books, so I moved to New York City and became associate art director in Scholastic trade books, where I designed books for children and worked with editors and illustrators. It was a great job.

I illustrated my first published children’s book in 1992 and soon began illustrating full time. I began completing manuscripts and mailing them out to publishers in the early 1990s. In 1996, I sold my first two manuscripts — Boo Who? A Spooky Lift-the-Flap Book (Scholastic) and Pen Pals (Grosset & Dunlap). Yippee!

Now I write full time and have written and/or illustrated over 130 children’s books. Creating books that entertain, inform, and interest children (and me) is a fabulous job that I truly love.





Book Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 12/9/12


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Happily Ever After Giveaway Hop-Win Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

 

Welcome to my Happily Ever After giveaway,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Valerie from Murphy’s Library.  This hop runs from October 9 to October 14, and you can win lots of new reads.  Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I am giving away an ARC of Diane Zahler’s MG fantasy Princess of The Wild Swans.  I love Diane Zahler’s fairy tale retellings, and I think you will, too!

 

About the book:

Princess Meriel’s brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment–cast by their conniving new stepmother–has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.

Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.

With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam–a pretty half-witch and her clever brother–Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.

But if she fails . . . all will be lost.

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following! US addresses only, please.

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Feed Your Kindle – Cheap Middle Grade Reads!

Today I have some Middle Grade books, all nicely priced under 3bucks!

Click on the covers for the Amazon product page.

A  Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban – $2.99 MG – I read this a few years ago and fell in love with the quirky characters.

Ten-year-old Zoe Elias has perfect piano dreams. She can practically feel the keys under her flying fingers; she can hear the audience’s applause. All she needs is a baby grand so she can start her lessons, and then she’ll be well on her way to Carnegie Hall.

But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe’s dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn’t the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And the organ isn’t the only part of Zoe’s life that’s off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day.

Yet when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises–and that perfection may be even better when it’s just a little off center.

 

 

The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick – $1.99 – MG

Something strange is happening at the Clarksville City Zoo. Late at night, monkeys are scaling the walls and searching the neighborhood—but what are they looking for?

Noah, his sister Megan, and their best friends, Richie and Ella, live next door to the zoo. Megan is the first to notice the puzzling behavior of some of the animals. One day Megan disappears, and her brother and their friends realize it’s up to them to find her. Their only choice is to follow a series of clues and sneak into the zoo. But once inside, will they discover there’s much more to the Clarksville City Zoo than they could ever have guessed?

 

 

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman – 1.99 MG

In eight days, Coke and Pepsi McDonald are going to turn thirteen.

Before then, they’ll jump off a cliff, get trapped in the locked basement of their burning school, chased cross-country by murderous lunatics, left for dead in the pit of a sand dune, forced to decipher mysterious coded messages, thrown into a giant vat of SPAM, and visit the world’s largest . . . ball of twine!

There’s more, but if we told you here, we’d have to kill you.

Megapopular author Dan Gutman brings on the excitement with an action-packed new series that’s nothing short of dynamite. Join Coke and Pep on their quest to uncover just what it means to be part of The Genius Files . . . if you dare!

 

 

The Familiars by Andrew Jacobson and Adam Jay Epstein $1.99

Is the kingdom’s fate in the hands of an orphan cat?

Running fast to save his life, Aldwyn ducks into an unusual pet store. Moments later Jack, a young wizard in training, comes in to choose a magical animal to be his familiar. Aldwyn’s always been clever. But magical? Jack thinks so—and Aldwyn is happy to play along.

He just has to convince the other familiars—the know-it-all blue jay Skylar and the friendly tree frog Gilbert—that he’s the powerful cat he claims to be.

Then the unthinkable happens. Jack and two other young wizards are captured by the evil queen of Vastia.

On a thrilling quest to save their loyals, the familiars face dangerous foes, unearth a shocking centuries-old secret, and discover a destiny that will change Vastia forever. Their magical adventure—an irresistible blend of real heart, edge-of-your-seat action, and laugh-out-loud humor—is an unforgettable celebration of fantasy and friendship.


The Frog Princess by E D Baker – $.99 MG

Princess Emeralda isn’t exactly an ideal princess. Her laugh is like a donkey’s bray rather than tinkling bells, she trips over her own feet and she does NOT like Prince Jorge, whom her mother hopes she will marry. But if Emma ever thought to escape her life, she never expected it to happen by turning into a frog! When convinced to kiss a frog so he might return to being a Prince, somehow the spell is reversed and Emma turns into a frog herself! Thus begins the adventure – a quest to return to human form.

Fascinating and hilarious characters ranging from a self-conscious but friendly bat to a surprisingly loyal snake and a wise old green witch confirm that readers won’t soon forget this madcap story! A fantastic debut from the talented E.D. Baker.

Look for the other exciting books in this series: A Prince Among Frogs, Dragon Kiss, Dragon’s Breath, The Dragon Princess, Once Upon a Curse, No Place for Magic, and The Salamander Spell!