Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating early

Navigating Early by Clare Vnaderpool, a 2014 Printz Honor Book, is a moving novel of friendship, forgiveness, and moving on.

After the death of his mother, Jack Baker’s father moves him from Kansas to a boy’s boarding school in Maine. His life turned upside down, Jack makes friend with an odd boy named Early Auden who only attends class when he wishes, lives down in the basement, and listens to a variety of records depending upon the day and the weather.

Inadvertently left alone at school over the break, Jack and Early embark upon a journey by boat to find the Great Appalachian Bear. Fraught with danger and numerous surprises, the boys learn  a great deal about themselves and each other in the process.

Throughout the story runs the mythical story of Pi, an adventurer whose journey closely relates to Jack’s and Early’s.

I don’t often listen to audio books, but for this grade level they are fun. The variety of characters portrayed in this adventurous tale is superb. The narrator was fabulous! I don’t want to give away too much because the surprises along the way are worth picking up this book, but let me say that even though there are down times in this book, the pace is fairly steady.

Navigating Early is filled with engaging characters whose story will captivate you fully. Not only is Jack coping with the death of his mother, but he has a difficult relationship with his military father. Both Jack and Early Auden are odd men out when it comes to school. Early’s ties to the school hero who went off to war and Jack’s inability to row at a school where rowing is a right of passage, bring them together. But it isn’t until the journey they take while alone at school that Jack can appreciate Early’s friendship.

I loved everything about this book: the plot development, the character development, the hooks, the shocks, and the tears. The mythical story of Pi ties in nicely and connects the boys in more ways than one.

If your middle grade reader only picks up one book this year, it should be Navigating Early.

Highly recommended!

 

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Age Range: 10 and up
Grade Level: 5 and up
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Yearling (December 23, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307930653
ISBN-13: 978-0307930651

 

I borrowed this book from the library. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Guest Blogger: Michaela MacColl, Author of Always Emily (Giveaway)

Always Emily_FC

Emily and Charlotte Brontë are about as opposite as two sisters can be. Charlotte is practical and cautious; Emily is headstrong and imaginative. But they do have one thing in common: a love of writing. This shared passion will lead them to be two of the first published female novelists and authors of several enduring works of classic literature. But they’re not there yet. First, they have to figure out if there is a connection between a string of local burglaries, rumors that a neighbor’s death may not have been accidental, and the appearance on the moors of a mysterious and handsome stranger. The girls have a lot of knots to untangle—before someone else gets killed.

What’s Up with That Title? by Michaela MacColl

This week my new book Always Emily comes out. It’s the next novel in my series of literary mysteries – this one is about the Bronte sisters.  Charlotte Bronte (who would write Jane Eyre) is 18 and her sister Emily (of Wuthering Heights fame) is 17. The sisters get involved in a mystery on their very own moors – a mystery that threatens their peace of mind, their brother and father and even their lives.

If my story is about two sisters, what’s up with that title? Always Emily? I’ve had lots of  people ask me (especially my husband who gets this book mixed up with my last one about Emily Dickinson).  The truth is this book was originally written in alternating chapters, first Charlotte then Emily. These sisters, despite having an identical upbringing, were completely different from one another.

Charlotte was the eldest sister and she assumed responsibility for the family. She’s the one with the plan – to keep the family solvent, to find employment and to get the sisters published.  Emily, on the other hand, had zero ambitions other than to wander the moors and write her wild, uninhibited poetry and stories. Naturally Charlotte wrote about the repressed and moral Jane Eyre, while Emily penned a gothic melodrama of illicit love and revenge.

Jane Eyrewuthering heights

 

Ultimately I found the alternating narration way too confining. It didn’t seem fair to the reader to leave Charlotte locked in a trunk about to suffocate and then shift to Emily doing the most mundane of chores.  So I switched to a third person, but let each sister own their own chapters.  It worked so much better but I had to answer that pressing question, who is the main character?

bronte

I’m the eldest in my family and I’m the one who likes to plan – so my preference was Charlotte of course. But Emily was so much more fun! And if there’s to be a romance (and in these literary mysteries there is always a hint of some love in the air) Emily seems the more likely candidate. So Emily won out by a hair – Charlotte has adventures, but Emily is the main player.

Charlotte quite reasonably resents her sister’s lack of responsibilities. And how aggravating that Emily is the sister that attracts the masculine attention that Charlotte craved. More than once Charlotte mutters, “Emily, it’s always Emily.”

My editor and I liked this as a title because it sounds so romantic – but really it’s the lament of the plainer, older, duller sister. It’s always Emily!

Thanks for reading. I’d love to have you visit at www.michaelamaccoll.com , or follow me on Twitter at @MichaelaMacColl or check out Author Michaela MacColl on Facebook.

 

Read an excerpt at http://www.scribd.com/doc/198642656/Always-Emily

CCSS-Aligned Discussion/Teacher’s Guide at http://www.chroniclebooks.com/landing-pages/pdfs/AlwaysEmily_DiscussionGuide_FINAL.pdf

Win a signed copy of Always Emily!

Leave a comment, including your email address, for a chance to win an autographed copy of Always Emily by Michaela MacColl!

TERMS AND CONDITIONS:

  • By entering, you confirm you are 18 years of age or older and reside in the U.S. or Canada.
  • Giveaway ends 11:59 PM EST on May 1, 2014.
  • Winner will be notified by email and have 72 hours to claim the prize.
  • Prize will be shipped directly to the winner by the author or her representative.
  • This blog is not responsible for items lost or damaged in shipment.
  • Void where prohibited.

 

Kindle Freebie: The Tiger Princess (Saderia Series) by Sarah Renee

tiger

Ten years ago, the tiger King and Queen of a vast forest disappeared in a mysterious fire.

No one knows how the fire started. In ten years, the truth has never been discovered. But now, ten years later, their orphaned daughter is determined to solve the mystery…

Ten-year-old Saderia has led a life of luxury as the Princess of the forest under the care of her persnickety aunt and uncle – though it has always had its flaws. But when her nights are troubled by terrifying dreams of the fire that took her parents, her comfortable life is turned into a race to find the truth. On a quest to solve the mystery of who killed her parents, she stumbles upon bewildering clues, secretive allies, and even magic.

Saderia is determined to solve the mystery, but as she uncovers more clues, her own life is drawn deeper and deeper into danger. She must find out the truth before time runs out – and her own fate is sealed.

File Size: 3497 KB
Print Length: 342 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 146990263X
Publisher: Tiger Print Books; 1 edition (January 8, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B004W3L5DM

PURCHASE HERE!

Magelica’s Voyage Book Blast with Louise Courey Nadeau (Giveaway)

About the Book

Magelica's Voyage by Louise Courey NadeauTitle: Magelica’s Voyage | Author: Louise Courey Nadeau | Publication Date: August 24, 2013 | Publisher: Kite Readers | Pages: 48 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 10

Summary: Who ever heard of a girl being hatched from an egg the colour of sapphires? Magelica doesn’t know where she came from or who she really is. But when she’s transported to the Isle of Dreams in a flying bathtub, she launches into an adventure of discovery, and learns that wonderful things can happen when she uses her imagination, believes, opens her heart and trusts in love. Come fly with her and discover for yourself the power of imagination,gratitude,believing in yourself, and love! In this special first voyage, fantasy, adventure, magical illustrations, empowering messages, and a wonderful cast of enchanting characters come together as Magelica takes young girls and the special people in their lives on a fun, inspiring voyage about making your life magical.

* Available in English / French / Spanish *

 

Purchase

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback) | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

 

Book Trailer

The Buzz

“Magelica’s Voyage is an inspiring, magical tale of a world that I did not want to leave. The author’s imagination takes off with vivid magical characters transformed into beautiful illustrations that your child will love. At the Isle Of Dreams anything is possible including Wally the wizard, the benevolent queen, Odin and even a Warblegrif. In the Festival Of Cheer the message is clear; just be yourself and let love be your guide. When you open this book you’ll instantly discover that magic is indeed in the air.” ~ 5 Star Review, StevieV, Amazon

“This is a wonderful, enchanting book! The story is so imaginative and the illustrations are beautiful! It is delightful to join Magelica on her adventure to the Isle of Dreams, and it is great to see such a positive, confident heroine. I highly recommend this book!” ~ 5 Star Review, Laurie J., Amazon

“Magelica is easy to love; a child who accepts herself as she is but who questions the very world around her, is someone many children will be able to relate to. Give this wonderful story a try- you won’t be sorry you did.” ~ 5 Star Review, Shelley V., Amazon

“Magelica’s Voyage by Louise Courey Nadeau is a beautifully written enchanting tale filled with alluring adventure. The story is magnificently illustrated, from the winsome depiction of Magelica to the creative Isle of Dreams, the authors gifted imagination is prevalent on every page. I found Magelica’s Voyage to be a charming story with a very special message for all. I highly recommend picking up a copy..” ~ 5 Star Review, Stacie T., Amazon

“I purchased the book in August and since then, my 2 kids request to read it for them every single time. I travel and I have to read it over FaceTime to them as they do not want to miss when their mom is unable….Same Timezone has helped. I recommend it to every kid between the age of 3 until 9 whether it is a girl or boy. The energy when reading it is indescribable. I bought 2 versions (the english and the spanish). Both are well made and I recommend it to every parent that cares about how their children should be raised! Great buy and thank you for the author.” ~ 5 Star Review, Hassan, Amazon

 

About the Author: Louise Courey Nadeau

Louise Courey Nadeau

Louise Courey Nadeau

A marketing and advertising executive, a tireless fundraiser for many charities, a painter, gardener and mother to two daughters and two sons, Louise’s passions keep growing. Sensing the need to do more for young children in our challenging world and inspired by life itself, Louise created MAGELICA, a young girl with fairy blood and her own questions about life. In the first book of Magelica’s Voyage trilogy, Louise takes our winged heroine along with her fun and wacky friends to new worlds of magic and adventure, where the reader discovers the magic of life and the power of love and how faith in the unknown can create confidence and a sense of empowerment . More than a decade in the making and with new stories underway, Louise and MAGELICA intend to spread their magical feathers and create a bond with children and their caregivers around the globe.

Book Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

* Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift cardAmazon 25 gift card

 

 

 

 

Prize: Two winners will each receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: May 2, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Louise Courey Nadeau and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Grimmtastic Girls by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams Book Blast Giveaway

About the Books: The Grimmtastic Girls

Book #1

Title: Grimmtastic Girls #1: Cinderella Stays Late | Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams | Publication Date: March 25, 2014 | Publisher: Scholastic Inc. | Pages: 192 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12

Grimmtastic Girls: Cinderella Stays LateSummary: The authors of the hit Goddess Girls series put a fun and girly twist on another super-popular theme: fairy tales!

Once upon a time, in faraway Grimmlandia…

A Grimmtastic girl named Cinderella is starting her first week at Grimm Academy on the wrong foot. Cinda’s totally evil stepsisters are out to make her life miserable. The Steps tease Cinda, give her terrible advice about life at the academy, and even make her look bad in front of her new friends, Red, Snow, and Rapunzel! But when Cinda overhears the Steps plotting a villainous deed that could ruin Prince Awesome’s ball, Cinda, her new friends, and a pair of magical glass slippers have to stop them–before the last stroke of midnight!
AmazonGoodreads

 

Book #2

Title: Grimmtastic Girls #2: Red Riding Hood Gets Lost | Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams | Publication Date: March 25, 2014 | Publisher: Scholastic Inc. | Pages: 192 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12GRIMMTASTIC-2-cover-206x300

Summary: Red Riding Hood might have a terrible sense of direction, but her grimmtastic friends are always there to help!

Once upon a time, in faraway Grimmlandia…

Red Riding Hood is thrilled to try out for the school play. Acting is her dream, and she’s great at it–too bad she has stage fright! After a grimmiserable audition, Red decides to focus on helping her friends Cinda, Snow, and Rapunzel save Grimm Academy from the E.V.I.L. Society. But when Red gets lost in Neverwood forest and runs into Wolfgang, who might be part of E.V.I.L., she needs her magic basket and a grimmazingly dramatic performance to figure out what’s going on!
AmazonGoodreads

 

About the Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Joan Holub

 

Joan Holub has authored and/or illustrated more than 130 children’s books, including Little Red Writing (illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet) and Zero the Hero. She lives in NC and is online at www.joanholub.com

Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads

 

 

Suzanne Williams

 

Suzanne Williams is the author of nearly 50 books for children, including the award-winning picture book Library Lil (illustrated by Steven Kellogg). She lives near Seattle, WA and is online at www.suzanne-williams.com

Author Blog | Goodreads

 

 

Co-authors Joan and Suzanne have written the Goddess Girls, Heroes in Training, and Grimmtastic Girls series. Though they live in different states and hardly ever get to see each other, they spend lots of time together in Grimmlandia.

Facebook (Grimmtastic Girls) | Facebook (Goddess Girls Books)

Online Author Visits

 

$50 Book Blast Giveaway

Amazon $50 Gift Card

Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: April 23, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the authors, Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Guest Book Review: The Shadow of the Pyramid by Wendy Leighton-Porter

porterPublisher: Mauve Square Publishing (February 4, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1909411043
ISBN-13: 978-1909411043
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Ages 8+
Fantasy/Adventure/Action

Five Stars

Jemima, Joe, their talking Tonkinese cat Max, and their best friend Charlie are off on their adventures again, searching for Jemima and Joe’s parents (somehow trapped in the past) and this time they are headed for ancient Egypt. Using their magical book, the poem containing clues, and Jemima’s necklace with the key, the kids and Max are transported back in time, arriving in the middle of an assassination plot to murder the young king Tutankhamun. Alas, Max has a morbid fear of mummies, having glimpsed a ghastly sight of one on Joe’s XBox game and he’s not too keen on this part of their adventure. They meet Ankharet, the gorgeous cat belonging to Tut’s young wife, Ankhesenamun. Max is totally smitten, but unfortunately Ankharet (who is jealous of Max’s instant popularity) doesn’t feel quite the same way about him. As the adventure unfolds, the kids and the cats, along with Tut’s wife try to stop several attempts on the young king’s life. Max even manages to foil two attempts, displaying a kind of unintentional bravery. The king is entranced with Max and names him “Max, beloved of Amun.” What an honour! Alas, despite their best efforts, once again the kids and Max are unable to change the course of history and cannot prevent the young king’s fate, a mystery which remains to this day. The end of the book is absolutely delightful and kids will just love the twist in this tale.

Max’s fear of mummies and the like afford some absolutely hilarious moments, especially since all his apparent heroics and saving the day are by accident. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has woven a marvellous mixture of suspense, adventure, history, geography, and culture into an intriguing tale. Using real historical figures, she captures the feel and flavour of ancient times, and puts forward some quite viable theories for exactly what might have happened to Tutankhamun. As in previous books, the kids and Max are totally immersed in history, and this tale will definitely draw eager young readers to join them in the adventure. There are some interesting facts at the end of the book which will no doubt stimulate young time travellers to go and do a bit more research. Learning history the fun way is becoming the mark of this captivating series.

Reviewer’s bio: Fiona Ingram is an award-winning middle grade author who is passionate about getting kids interested in reading. Find out more about Fiona and her books on www.FionaIngram.com. She reviews books for the Jozikids Blog.

The Magician’s Doll $25 Book Blast with M. L. Roble

About the Book

The Magician's Doll by M.L.Roble

Title: The Magician’s Doll | Author: M.L. Roble | Publication Date: February 2, 2013

Publisher: Independent | Pages: 320 | Recommended Ages: 10+

Summary

“They are stronger. They are coming. They will arrive!”

Life would be so much better for twelve-year-old Natalie if she and her mother weren’t different; other kids wouldn’t pick on her; she wouldn’t have to get into fights. She would have friends. But Natalie has abilities that set her apart, and despite her very best efforts to have a normal life, her developing “gift” has a way of upending them all. Then one day a big top circus rolls into town bringing with it Beausoleil the Magician, his daughter Louisa, and his mysterious doll. Strange things are afoot with Beausoleil’s arrival, and in his wake, an eerie storm is approaching. Soon Natalie discovers there is more to her world and the people around her than she knew, and that being different is just the tip of the iceberg… The Magician’s Doll sparks readers’ imaginations with a tale of magical discoveries, profound friendships, a fight against evil, and the growth that comes with facing your fears and accepting who you are.

Purchase the Book

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | The Book Bin

The Buzz

“The story of exceptional and gifted beings secretly living among us is timeless; this exhilarating book is an impressive treatment of that classic storyline. The writing is fast and clear, with a well-developed plot and perfect buildup of action and suspense.” ~ 5 Star Review, G. Wagner, Amazon

“This is perfect for kids of the middle grade age. It forces them to look at the way they treat each other and their differences. It makes them look at what true friendship is and what they would do in certain circumstances. I am sure this book was written to be a wonderful story, yet I find it is a great example of teaching kids something without them realizing they are learning I will definitely continue to recommend this book to parents and students.” ~ 5 Star Review, Sandra S., Amazon

“I am a eighth grader, and was told to read this book by a friend. I am a huge fan of fantasy and magic, and thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it well thought through with colorful characters from a variety of backgrounds. The concepts and ideas are fresh and interesting, I especially enjoyed the idea of travel through maps, like Phillipe. I would DEFINITELY recommend this book to all my friends, and will do so as soon as possible.” ~ 5 Star Review, Eugenia, Amazon

About the Author: M.L. Roble

M.L. RobleM. L. Roble’s desire to write a children’s novel stems from the nostalgia of her own middle grade reading years where she first experienced books like “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Shattered Stone”. There have been different books and genres since, but those years fueled an enchantment for story that continues to this day.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Google+

* Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: April 11, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, M.L. Roble and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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“The Story Behind my Queen Vernita Series,” by Dawn Menge

coastlineQueen Vernita is based on my Grandmother Vernita.  Every character in the book is someone in my life.  My illustrator takes a picture I have of them and creates a character of them doing an activity.  Queen Vernita’s adventures are based on my real travels.

Each book is based on repetition and the math concepts of years, days, weeks and seasons.  Each year Queen Vernita chooses a destination and twelve wonderful friends to visit, one for each month of the year.

Queen Vernita visits the Blue Ice Mountains is based on my trips to Alaska.  Queen Vernita and her friends learn about crabs, glaciers, seals, otters and more.  They ride horses, kayak, and snorkel in the cold glacier waters.

Queen Vernita visits the Islands of Enchantment is based on the Hawaiian Islands, Sea Captain Jeff and Enchantress Carrie. The adventures swim with dolphins, sharks, eels, they learn to fish and explore lava caverns.

Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer is co-written with my brother Heath Rhoades who participates in asteroid and comet astrometry. The visitors learn about the planets and comets in the solar system. They learn how to make a sun dial and tell time using it.

Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer’s Coastline is about her yearlong coach travel.  She and her friends learn about jellyfish, Stalagmites and Stalactites, they explore caves and camp in the Redwood forest.

Queen Vernita visits Gator County is currently being published.  Queen Vernita travels down south where she gets to hold a baby alligator , ride in the bayou, she learns about the Underground Railroad, visits plantations and the Mardi Gras.

Queen Vernita explores Baja Quails takes her further south to learn new languages and dances.  She visits a crystal cave, learns to surf, rides a new invention along the beach and visits a blowhole along the ocean.

More books in the series will include; Queen Vernita visits Volcanic Island with Sea Captain Jeff, Queen Vernita visits the Great White Mountains, Queen Vernita explores Paradise Reef, Queen Vernita sails the seas with John Alden and many more adventures soon to be written.

 ————————————–

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
dawn
   Dawn Menge is the author of the Queen Vernita’s educational series.  There are currently five books published.  Queen Vernita’s Visitors, Queen Vernita Visits the Blue Ice Mountains, Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer and Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer’s Coastline.  Dawn Menge’s series has won nineteen literary awards.
     Dawn Menge has been teaching severely handicapped students for fourteen years. She holds a Masters and clear credential as an Educational specialist.  She is currently working on her PHD in Curriculum and Instruction.
     Dawn Menge is the mother of three and the grandmother of five beautiful children.
PURCHASE HER BOOKS ON AMAZON
CHECK OUT HER LATEST BOOK: 
 
Title: Queen Vernita Explores the Oceaneer’s Coastline
Genre: Children’s literature
Author: Dawn Menge
Publisher: Outskirtspress

Interview with Annie Tipton, author of the ‘Diary of a Real Payne’ series

AnnieTiptonAnnie Tipton made up her first story at the ripe old age of two when she asked her mom to write it down for her. (Hey, she was just two—she didn’t know how to make letters yet!) Since then she has read and written many words as a student, newspaper reporter, author, and editor. Annie loves snow (which is a good thing because she lives in Ohio), wearing scarves, sushi, Scrabble, and spending time with friends and family.

www.facebook.com/diaryofarealpayne

Thank you for joining us today, Annie. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself? When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I’ve been a writer my whole life (almost literally!). My mom likes to tell a story about when I was two years old and I asked her to write down the words to a story that I made up. I remember writing scripts for plays that a friend and I acted out on the playground in early elementary school. Third grade was the first year I entered a story and was selected to represent my class at a conference for young authors. I always (well almost always) enjoyed writing school assignments and essays and I did lots of extracurricular writing—the school newspaper, a middle school writing contest called The Power of the Pen. Professionally, my first paying gig was some freelance work in high school when I wrote a few articles for a teen magazine put out by a Christian publisher. That was a pretty amazing experience to make a few bucks for doing something I absolutely loved!

I have a communications degree (with an emphasis in journalism), and my first jobs out of college were newspaper reporting. I wrote all kinds of stories—local politics and government, crime, business, healthcare—but my favorite articles focused on people and their stories. Now in my day job I work with words every day as an editor at Barbour Publishing.

I consider whatever writing talent I have as gift from God Himself. That’s not to say that I haven’t worked on honing the skill over the years, but He gives me the words. And my prayer is that readers will see Him on the page—even in some small way. 

9781624168260Why did you decide to write stories for children?

One of the main reasons I wanted to write a children’s series is because I am simply a kid at heart! Some of the first chapter books I read as a kid left a lasting impression on me, so I know firsthand the power that memorable characters and stories can have. 

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

I’ve actually been surprised at how easy it is for me to revert to “kid mode” while writing this series. I generally have a simple and optimistic view of the world and I tend to see humor in everyday life, so my own point-of-view lines up with kids well. Many scenes from my childhood—particularly memories I have of my younger brother—pop up in the storyline of the series, too.  Because of all of this, I think children’s fiction is probably the least-challenging fiction that I, personally, could be writing.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

I have really enjoyed walking down memory lane and reliving the big-sister-little-brother dynamic that EJ and Isaac have. Kids want to read about authentic experiences on the page—not something idealized or preachy—so it’s been a great challenge to constantly evaluate whether or not the story and the characters are ringing true. Plus, kids love goofiness, and it’s fun to let the characters really let loose sometimes, knowing that it just might be a reader’s favorite part of the book!

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Diary of a Real Payne: Church Camp Chaos picks up about 6 months after the end of book 1 (True Story). Summer vacation is just around the corner, and EJ is more than ready to be done with Ms. “Picky” Pickerington, CoraLee McCallister, and the fourth grade. Hello sunshine! Hello 11th birthday party! Hello. . .CAMP!

It’s EJ’s first summer to spend an entire week at Camp Christian—complete with friends, bunk beds, games, campfires, s’mores, and even a gigantic zip line. From dining hall cooks dressed up in costumes (Is that a giraffe from Noah’s ark serving mashed potatoes?) to a stickler of a counselor named Gene, church camp is full of colorful characters and fantastically fun things to do. And, as always, EJ serves up even more marvelous adventures for herself with her vivid daydreams. Nothing. . .not even her annoying little brother’s appearance for day camp can spoil EJ’s fun!

But when EJ sets out to conquer her fears—some big, some small—will she learn that God is big enough to handle anything? 

What inspired you to write it?

I grew up in a family that is very involved in summer church camp. My grandfather was the camp manager, so my mom grew up (literally) at camp. My first summer jobs were working on staff at camp, and it’s always been a big part of my life. So having EJ go to her first week of church camp in book 2 was great fun for me!

Where can readers purchase a copy?

The Diary of a Real Payne series is available where all books are sold.

What is up next for you?

The third and final book in the series—Diary of a Real Payne: Oh Baby!—releases in September 2014. I’m looking forward to seeing the completion of EJ’s adventures!

Thank you for spending time with us today, Annie. We wish you much success.

 

On My Kindle

alchemy

The summer of 1984 was a golden time in America. From California, where gymnast Mary Lou Retton was winning Olympic gold, to Cape Cod, where explorer Barry Clifford was discovering pirate gold, the nation seemed obsessed with the precious metal. But for 15-year old Al, that obsession hits a little too close to home when he finds a code-filled notebook belonging to his missing father that may contain the ancient formula for turning lead to gold. Convinced that his father’s sudden disappearance is connected to his secret experiments in alchemy, Al sets out to find the truth. He enlists the help of Cammie, a beautiful girl staying for the summer while her marine biologist father tracks a wayward manatee, and together they begin unraveling the mystery. But the closer they get to an answer, the closer they grow to each other, and as the end of summer draws nearer, Al wonders if they can break the code without breaking his heart.

bone field

In this sequel to Belle of the Glades, the holiday season brings mystery and adventure for Belle and her Indian friend, Summer. At the Bone Field, they find clues of a Bigfoot, but Belle’s uncle dismisses the signs. Belle and Summer set out to befriend the mysterious stranger with food gifts, but he has reason to stay hidden. Is he a real Bigfoot? How does Belle solve the mystery?

games

Eleanor Parkhurst is determined to get in the way of Nathaniel Naverly seducing her sweet cousin Rose. Nate has a history of treating girls badly and Ellie suspects his intentions are far from honorable. Getting Nate to switch his attention to her seemed like a good plan, but Ellie didn’t foresee that she might have to protect her own heart from his schemes as well. The game is proving a challenge. Midnight meetings, fighting or kissing, it’s all part of the fun of flirting. Set in an English boarding school, Ellie and her American new best friend, Flora, discover that boys are more complicated than classes, and you have to play the game well or you might just get played!

guinevere
She is a mere child of twelve. But in these medieval days, this is the age when childish things must be put away and greater responsibilities accepted–all in preparation for a betrothal of marriage.

For young Lady Guinevere, on the advent of her thirteenth Birth Day, the whole idea is quite unbearable. After all, what could be better than spending her youth playing with her best friend Cedwyn, roaming the grounds around the castle looking for mythical creatures or hunting rabbits?

However, the wizard Merlyn–her teacher and friend–knows that destiny has a way of catching up with a person. His arrival sets in motion a series of events that will lead Guinevere to her destiny whether she is ready for it or not.

down under

When a reluctant grandson in Oregon is pressured into writing to his grandma in Australia, wonderful things happen. Both have a need for love and reassurance as they deal with their everyday problems. Back and forth the letters go: Josh shares his daily problems, and Grandma Rose shares past memories that astonish her grandson and his friend Kelly.

The Xbox gathers dust, as the two friends find themselves bike riding and bird watching – and actually reading. Googling the weird and wonderful Aussie critters that come to Rose’s garden becomes a fun hobby. Soon, Andy and Gradma Rose shrink the Pacific Ocean into a puddle they can easily ford.

** Glossary of Australian and words included.

billy

Young Billy loves the game of baseball. He can’t wait to play and hang around with his team mates. But Billy’s team mates don’t take to him right away and Billy struggles hitting.