Happy Book Birthday to Almost Magic!

Almost-Magic-web-coverHappy Book Birthday to Almost Magic!

This month’s release is Almost Magic,  by Kathleen Bullock.

SBN 9781939392114 paperback

Ever since she turned twelve, Apple Bramblewood’s life has been plagued by visits from weird creatures from the magical realms.

It seems she is a rare Attractor, a Wizard whose sole talent is solving the clamorous demands of very odd beings, usually in the most unorthodox, haphazard, and klutzy ways. Apple doesn’t want to be an Attractor; her most passionate goal is to attend the ordinary high school with ordinary kids where her perfect older sister, Cornelia, is allowed to go. Her parents have no doubts about Cornelia’s magical prowess, but Apple seems destined to be home-schooled forever if she can’t pass the entrance exam and perfect at least one magical enchantment.

Almost Magic is Apple’s first-person account of that magic summer between childhood and adolescence and, in Apple’s case, one filled with the most amazing, hilarious, and often dangerous events.

Get to know the author by visiting her author page.

 

An Interview with Darby Karchut

Darby KarchutBW - authorDarby Karchut is the author of the Spencer Hill Middle Grade series THE ADVENTURES OF FINN MacCULLEN. We tied her down recently and made her give us the scoop on what it’s like to be a writer.

SHPMG: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

DK:Unlike a lot of writers, I never once thought about penning anything, much less a book, until I was fifty years old. It was either write a novel or run a marathon. You know – that whole mid-life crisis thing. (Why, yes. I am planning on living until I’m a hundred years old.)

While I do run cross country a lot (as well as mountain biking, skiing, and mountaineering), the marathon seemed like too much of a commitment, so, I went with the book thing. I know. I KNOW! What was I thinking?

Five years later, I’m wrapping up my 14th book. And, until last spring, I also taught social studies at a junior high school here in Colorado Springs, where I live with my husband. Nope, no kids.

What do I write? Mostly middle grade adventure fantasy, young adult urban fantasy, and under the pen name of Darby Kaye, urban fantasy for adults.

SHPMG: For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you

Finn Finnegan by Darby Karchut

Finn Finnegan by Darby Karchut, the first in the series

write? What can readers expect from THE ADVENTUERS OF FINN MacCULLEN series?

DK: Based on Celtic mythology, but set in a suburban neighborhood in modern-day Colorado, this series is a coming-of-age tale full of adventure and monster hunting. But the heart and soul of the series is the father and son relationship forged between apprentice monster-hunter, Finn MacCullen, and his gruff, but affectionate master, the Knight, Gideon Lir. Readers of the series will find both young teen and adult heroes and heroines to cheer for.

 

SHPMG: What character did you love or hate the most while writing?

DK: Gideon Lir. The guy is a blend of chivalrous Knight, fierce Celtic warrior, and a father figure to his apprentice. True, he’s not perfect – he’s got a bit o’ the famous Irish temper. But, when push gets knocked on its tush by shove, Gideon Lir is the guy I would want at my back in any situation. Since the series is told from the viewpoints of dual protagonists (Finn and Gideon), watching both of them grow as characters is a delight.

Gideon's Spear by Darby Karchut

Gideon’s Spear by Darby Karchut

SHPMG: What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome it?

DK: The first draft. Oh, how I detest the first draft. I’ve tried elaborate plotting. I’ve tried just winging it. I’ve tried everything in between. But, the first draft is a bloodletting for me. I think it’s because Demon Failure sits on my shoulder the entire time, whispering in my ear that all my other novels were a fluke, and that I really don’t have what it takes to finish a book.

But writing a book is a lot like running uphill. You put your head down and concentrate on a steady stride; a pace you can maintain the entire distance. Telling yourself that the only way to reach the top is one step after another. One word after another. Sure, sometimes, you have to slow down, or even walk, but you keep going. And then, finally, you reach the top of the hill. The end of the book.

 

Repeat for the next hill/book. And the next.

SHPMG: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?

DK: Keep reading. Reading is what first got me into writing, and reading is still something I do a few hours each evening before bed. I read everything, but I read in my genre the most. Reading great middle grade books is one of the best ways to improve my craft. And while I may give up writing some day, I will never give up reading.

SHPMG: What are your passions when you’re not writing?houndatthegate-web

As I mentioned before, I love the Colorado lifestyle – running, skiing, biking, hiking, backpacking, climbing, and I have recently gotten into stand up paddle boarding and yoga. (Not at the same time. Yet.) I also read a lot. I used to knit. Gave it up. Don’t know why.

Oh, wait, I do know why.

I started writing…

Darby loves visiting with readerly and writerly folks. You can stalk her at:

Her Website

Her Blog

Friend her on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter

or Goodreads!

You can also find out more about the author on her author page.

Find Darby’s books at:

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and at independent bookstore everywhere.

 

The Story behind the Story, Living Bones by Jared Agard

I can still remember how the darkness seemed to be alive when I was a child. How it seemed to reach out for me. The thick, blurry-edged shapes would form and flee on my closet door, wisps of smoky purple against the moonlit dull yellow paint. I first saw the skeleton there when I was three, but I remember him vividly.
My three-year-old self was sure that I had been wide awake when I saw him emerge from the billowing shadows. A chill slithered up my spine and my blood pumped cold through my veins. The face was yellowed bone. The eye sockets glowed red with malignant spiritual evil. His head was crowned with three horns growing straight out of the bone.

Skelly

My body shook uncontrollably under the covers where I hid. I knew he would come for me. Why else would he have appeared in my room? He was going to kill me.
Finally, I could no longer stand hiding. I slowly pulled the covers down from around my head. He was gone, but I expected he would reappear the minute my foot touched fluffy brown carpet fiber. I slid my back against the wall and moved as stealthily as a chubby little boy could, inching my way toward escape. Once I reached the hallway, I ran for my life and threw open my parents’ door.
“There’s a skeleton in my room,” I panted.
My parents were not in any way concerned. In fact, my father rather crossly commanded me to return to the place that I knew would be my end.

LivingBones

Amazingly enough, I lived to tell the tale. In fact, I have lived long enough to have children of my own who throw open my bedroom door and proclaim that monsters hunt them in their rooms in the darkness.
The darkness doesn’t come for me anymore. Even if it did, I wouldn’t notice. With adulthood comes fatigue, which I believe firmly accounts for the disappearance of Nyctophobia. It’s not that adults are too brave to be afraid of the dark, we’re just too tired.
It is strangely satisfying to feel that fear again. Aren’t we odd as human beings? We abhor having certain emotional responses, but in a way we revel in them. Why else would we create stories to force ourselves to feel vicariously through the characters we read about? It is a great thrill to feel with them as they save the world or fall in love. For some reason, we love to cry with them, feel rage with them, and tremble in fear with them just as much.
Living BonesSo, Living Bones started as a dream that I had. A nightmare. It became a book as I was driving home from the Willamette Writers Festival where I had spent the day learning about writing and pitching stories in hopes of landing an agent.
The day had been fun and successful. I had successfully pitched my stories to many agents. I then met an agent named Bree Ogden, who listened to my pitches politely but then told me that she was really looking for middle grade horror.
I don’t write horror, I thought to myself.
On the drive home, another thought came to me. An agent had just told me exactly what she was looking for. Why in the world wouldn’t I try? The next questions that I asked myself were very logical now that I knew I was going to try to scare young people.
What scared me when I was a kid? What scares me now?
And that darn skeleton popped right back into my head. I smiled when I saw him there, in my brain, because he still gave me the creeps. I had my villain, but there was so much left to decide about who he was and how he was able to move around as a bunch of bones. The story really took off from there.
I’ve always believed that a really good story has to have a really bad villain. Villains have the ability to either deflate or inflate the conflict. My skeleton lost the red eyes and horns and became Mordecai Bleak. And Mordecai has been giving people the creeps ever since he turned up on the pages of Living Bones.

To make a long story short, Bree read Living Bones and became my agent. Spencer Hill Press agreed to publish Living Bones. It has always been my dream to be an author, and now I am one.
In other words, my nightmare made my dream come true.

Learn more about the author, Jared Agard, by visiting his author page. Learn more about Living Bones by visiting it’s book page.

Happy Book Birthday to Tangled Magick!

Tangled-Magick-forwebHappy Book Birthday to Tangled Magick

This month’s release is Tangled Magick,  by Jennifer Carson.

SBN 978-1-63392-000-2 paperback

ISBN 978-1-63392-001-9 Ebook

The Sequel to Hapenny Magick

Enter the giveaway on the author’s website!

A hapenny should live a simple life, but two years ago Maewyn Bridgepost discovered her magick and saved her village from a troll invasion. Now as an official Protector of the Wedge, Maewyn shares in the responsibility of keeping it’s residents safe.

When her mentor, the wizard Callum, leads a Great Expedition, Maewyn joins, knowing that to be the best protector she can be, she must be familiar with what the world holds beyond her tiny village.

When you are only 3 foot tall, the outside world can be a scary place, and the hapennies soon find themselves knee deep in troll trouble. Captured by a gang of trolls the group is taken to a broken-down castle to be servants to the troll queen, Huldfrejya. Unfortunately, Callum is cast into a deep slumber. It’s up to Maewyn to rescue herself and her friends before they are entangled by a powerful magickal enchantment that will turn them into slaves to the troll queen forever!

Don’t miss the first book in the series, Hapenny Magick!

Get to know the author by visiting her author page.

Interested in purchasing Tangled Magick? Order the book on: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM or from your local Indie store!

Why #WeNeedDiverseBooks

This article appeared in our spring Educator’s Newsletter. You can sign up for the newsletter here or print out the article and find other articles here.

Why #WeNeedDiverseBooks

“Let’s go fight the good fight.”

By Bryce Leung and Kristy Shen

We were sitting at a lunch table at the Javits Center in New York, May 2014. All around us, in that manic swirl of Book Expo America (or BEA, as the cool kids call it), is where we first met Ellen Oh and Lamar Giles, two of the original founders of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

It was a fledgling little operation and they had just finished speaking to a packed conference room. A friend had introduced us, and we happily volunteered to help man the main exhibition hall booth. “Let’s go fight the good fight,” we joked, figuring it would be more fun to experience BEA from behind a booth than in front of one.

Little did we know that this was the birth of a movement.

The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign started as a response to BEA’s decision to include only white males in their keynote “Author Breakfast” panel. As newly published authors, this annoyed us enough, but we had no reason to believe it would affect those outside the publishing industry. We had no idea how important our fight truly was.

That changed on August 9, 2014. In a little-known middle-America town named Ferguson, Michael Brown, an unarmed eighteen-year-old, was shot dead by a white policeman, and the world watched as Ferguson and discussions about Ferguson quickly and angrily became divided along racial lines.

That’s when we finally realized how important this campaign was.

WNDB is not just about helping diverse authors or supporting diverse titles. It’s about creating the world we want our next generation to live in.

We are not in a post-racial world. Not yet. Racial prejudice and racial discrimination are still around us, simmering below the surface. And when it erupts, it often erupts violently. On the streets of Ferguson. On the avenues of New York. On the sidewalks of Washington DC.

But the nasty thing about clashes that feature riot gear, and batons, and Molotov cocktails, is that they are not the real battlefields. The best-case scenario is a ceasefire. That is not the same thing as peace.

The real battlefield is in the classroom, and in the hearts and minds of the next generation. The real soldiers are the teachers, the parents, and the librarians.

If we could convince kids that diversity is not something to be feared, but something to be treasured, they would react not with fear, but with curiosity. Racial and sexual discrimination would be something the last generation did, something they have no interest in perpetuating, and they would succeed in creating the post-racial world we’ve always dreamed of.

One way to do it is with diverse books.

As authors, the most powerful ability we have is creating worlds. Worlds in which African American characters can be first-page heroes rather than front-page criminals. Worlds in which Hispanic characters can represent social change rather than social problems. And worlds where people of color can be just…people.

These should be the stories the next generation grows up with.

We can’t all face down baton-waving police officers, but we can put a book in front of a child. And maybe, just maybe, we can change their world. And in doing so, we can let them change ours.

This is why #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Let’s go fight the good fight.

* * *

LittleMissEvil-finalcoverforwebKristy Shen & Bryce Leung are senior members of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, a grassroots organization dedicated to increasing diverse representation in children’s books and promoting the works of diverse authors. Their role in #WeNeedDiverseBooks is Directors of Technology, which includes running the official website, the official Twitter feed, and the official Tumblr account. Their debut novel LITTLE MISS EVIL was released by Spencer Hill Middle Grade in March 2015, and they are represented by Jamie Drowley at Inklings Literary. Twitter: @kristyshen

 

Happy Book Birthday to Little Miss Evil!

LittleMissEvil-finalcoverforwebHappy Book Birthday to Little Miss Evil!

This month’s release is Little Miss Evil,  by Bryce Leung and Kristy Shen.

ISBN: 978-1939392091

When you live in a volcano, ride to school in a helicopter, and regularly see your dad on the news with the caption “EVIL GENIUS” underneath his picture, it takes a lot to rattle you.

Until you get a message that says: We have your father. Deliver the NOVA in 24 hours or we will kill him.

What’s a NOVA you ask? It’s a nuclear bomb capable of turning the city into a radioactive mushroom cloud, and ever since Fiona’s dad built it, it’s caused nothing but grief. But telling him to stop building weapons is like telling Michelangelo to stop painting.
And that’s why thirteen-year-old Fiona has a flamethrower strapped to her arm. After all, who’d mess with a girl who can throw fireballs?
Apparently, these guys.
Big mistake.

You can purchase Little Miss Evil from :Amazon, B&N,  and any fine bookseller near you!

Get to know the author by visiting their author page.

 

 

 

 

Super-villain Super Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of Little Miss Evil Kristy and Bryce are doing a super giveaway on their blog. You could win a book, a $50.00 Amazon gift card or A Kindle Fire tablet!! To enter the contest click here.
And watch their super book trailer!

Cover Reveal! The House on Blister Hill

blisterhill_finalBeautiful cover art by the fabulous Veronica Jones! Find more at her website VVJones.com

The House on Blister Hill, coming in October 2015. Click here to request an advanced reader copy!

In the summer of 1949, twelve-year old Neddy Puddy’s only concern is settling a score with Delores Shrumm, her former best friend. But one summer night, a strange snow falls over Heaven’s Peak, North Carolina, leaving blisters on anyone it touches.

Grandpa Joe dons his bowler hat the next morning and sets out with Old Jim Flint to solve the mystery, only to end up dead. To make matters worse, all the adults in Heaven’s Peak have come down with the floating flu, and an evil carnival has risen on Blister Hill. When the carnival owner threatens to eliminate each and every bugsnot kid west of the Dismal Swamp, Neddy knows that everyone she loves might disappear with the last fold of the carnival’s tents.

With a posse of misfit kids and Old Jim Flint by her side, Neddy will have to face her worst fears in the middle of her worst heartache. But will she live to tell the tale?

KT Gannon was born in Queens, New York. She studied writing at Columbia University and then received her MSW from New York University. KT worked with victims of violent crime in New York City for years before returning to writing. Now she lives in Arlington, VA with her stuntman-turned-lawyer husband and her three amazing daughters: Ava, Cate and Syd. When KT isn’t writing she can be found in the bleachers at Ava’s softball game, answering (inadequately) Cate’s questions regarding human existence, and reveling in Syd’s quiet triumphs.

Find out more about the author by visiting her author page.

If you’d like to request an ARC, please use the reviewer form on our website.

https://spencerhillmiddlegrade.com/for-reviewers/.

 

 

Happy Book Birthday to The Hound at the Gate!

houndatthegate-webHappy Book Birthday to The Hound at the Gate!

This month’s release is The Hound At the Gate,  by Darby Karchut.

ISBN: 978-1939392480–paperback,ebook

The Sequel to Gideon’s Spear

 

 

Autumn: the season of endings. And beginnings.

Especially for one young apprentice.

At the annual Festival of the Hunt, thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn MacCullen and his master, Gideon Lir, join other Tuatha De Danaan to honor their people’s heritage. But Finn soon realizes that there are some who denounce his right to attend due to his half-human bloodline.

While he struggles to keep his place by his master’s side, he finds himself embroiled in a decades-old grudge between Gideon and another Knight, bewildered (and beguiled) by a female apprentice with a temper as explosive as his own, and battling a pack of goblins determined to wipe out the entire camp in a surprise attack.

It’s going to take some fancy knife work, the help of a female Knight with a lethal bow, and one old pick up truck to defeat the goblins and prove to his people that his blood runs true-blue Tuatha De Danaan.

Don’t miss the first book in the series, Finn Finnegan!

Get to know the author by visiting her author page.

Interested in purchasing The Hound at the Gate? Order the book on: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, BAM or from your local Indie store!