Blogging at Christian Children’s Authors: Themes in Children’s Literature

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Check out my post at Christian Children’s Authors where I compare discuss how some of the themes from books of my youth still appear in popular books today. You can find it at http://christianchildrensauthors.com/2015/07/17/themes-in-childrens-literature-then-and-now/

Coming Soon!: The Book of Dares for Lost Friends by Jane Kelley

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Val and Lanora have been friends forever. Val expects their relationship to stay the same. But after they start middle school, Lanora decides to reinvent herself. Her parents have split up, and she wants to rise above that. Unfortunately Lanora’s choices lead her into trouble. Val hates watching her friend lose her way. She wants to rescue Lanora, but how? Val doesn’t know what to do until a stray cat leads her to a strange boy who lives in an even stranger bookshop. Together they embark on a quest. Will they be able to save a lost friend? Will they get lost themselves? Or will they find a way to help each other become who they want to be . . . .

Jane Kelley has created a nuanced, universal story about friendship and that delicate time of adolescence when there is much to lose and much more to find.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (July 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250050871
ISBN-13: 978-1250050878

Pre-order here!

Books to Film

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Every once in a while, I get to thinking about my favorite television or movie adaptations of books. Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, and Matilda come to mind.

For this generation, perhaps it is The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Harry Potter.

But whatever books we are talking about, when a popular book or book series is made into a movie(s), controversy surrounds it. Which characters did they change? What characters did they leave out? How much did they alter the story for film?

I remember the Lil’ Diva complaining for days because a certain character, and therefore, her favorite scene, were cut from Divergent. Gasp! How dare they?

What are some of your favorite television and movie adaptations? Were you ever irked in how they changed it for film?

Interview with Jody M. Mabry, Author of The Treasure at Devil’s Hole

Jody MabryBorn at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois, Jody has had the opportunity to live in places such as Cuba, St. Croix USVI, Mississippi, Illinois, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he spent the teen years of his life in an 1800’s farmhouse that was, of course, haunted. At fourteen Jody first heard the story of Arizona’s “Lost Dutchman Mine,” sparking an interest in adventure, ghost towns, and lost treasure. Always prone to telling a good story, Jody now passes on the tradition to his children who will no doubt find their own treasure someday. Jody and his family live in the charming Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

His lastest book is the middle grade novel, The Treasure at Devil’s Hole.

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Where did you grow up? 

I moved around a bit when I was younger. We lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Illinois, but eventually settles into an old farm in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I can’t actually recall a time in my childhood when I wasn’t writing. But, it was after reading Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles that I decided I wanted to be a writer. That was in the 7th grade.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

My writing schedule is as flexible as it can get. I generally wake up around 4:00 AM, sometimes earlier, and write while everyone is asleep. I have a fifteen-month-old daughter, so I’ve set up a small desk in our living room, although once she sees me open my laptop she wants to pound the keys too. I’ve been known to write overnight while everyone sleeps, or anytime I can get a few minutes. It doesn’t always seem like it, but writing for 15-30 minutes several times a day adds up quickly.

What is this book about?

The short answer is that The Treasure at Devil’s Hole is about a young boy in search of treasure. Francis “Bug” Mosser is obsessed with a legendary outlaw treasure and elicits the help of his brothers and best friend to seek it out. What he finds in the end, is more than just the treasure. He finds love, small town shenanigans, bullies, a big family secret, and the notion that adventures never quite turn out the way you expected.

What inspired you to write it? The Treasure at Devil's Hole 2

I was inspired by a story my dad told me when I was younger. It was about him and his brother digging a well with dynamite. The Treasure at Devil’s Hole begins and ends with this story. The problem I had was that I was trying to tell the story of the well, which wasn’t exactly a book length story. It was when I began telling the story from a different character’s point of view that The Treasure at Devil’s came to be.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

My favorite character is Miss. Julia Brandon, the gun-toting teacher. I thought it would be fun having a young attractive teacher who was sweet and charming turn into a Bonnie and Clyde type of character. I never planned it, but as I wrote I thought it would be a fun twist. That being said, I was shocked that the main character Francis “Bug” Mosser was so popular. I’ve received several emails from middle graders who said he was one of their favorite characters in any book, or that they could relate to him. I was very surprised, especially considering he wasn’t my favorite character.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The Treasure at Devil’s Hole is available on Amazon.com, or Jodymabry.com. It is also available in libraries and independent bookstores throughout the Midwest, South, and East Coast.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it? 

I don’t, but in doing marketing research I’ve seen some great video trailers, so it may be an addition to my 2016 marketing campaigns.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

This is a good question for other writers. Most writers, in an effort to save money, try to market for free. This would include tweeting your book on Twitter dozens of times a day. We tend to take the volume marketing approach. This never worked for me. Blog tours, book giveaways, and any marketing that connected me with readers were the best investment. Giving away books for free has helped a lot. I have the opportunity to talk to someone about the book, connect with them, and in turn they talk about me and my books.

It may sound silly, but for over a year I ran ad campaigns on Amazon.com knowing I’d likely lose money, and I did. I did it because the campaigns guaranteed me a couple dozen sales a week, both physical and eBook. While I was losing money my sales rank remained high enough that when I stopped the ads my book continued to sell for a few months. Now, I run a campaign for about three months of the year, and no longer lose money. This is a good example that in many cases you need to spend money to make sales.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Well, dare I repeat the often repeated? The best advice is to write. Not only do you strengthen your skills, but much like pulp writers of the early 20th century, the more you write the more likely you are to sell. This was an early lesson I learned. After finishing The Treasure at Devil’s Hole I had hundreds of requests for a sequel. I had no idea that was coming. Had I had a sequel out within a couple months I would have nearly doubled sales that first year.

What is up next for you?

I’m putting out several shorter books for middle graders The Ghosts of Jasmine Bogs and The Pirate’s Lighthouse, among others. The Strange Circus is a sequel to  The Treasure at Devil’s Hole. This was unplanned, but I received so many emails from readers asking when the next book will be out, that I couldn’t help myself. Strange Circus is slated for June of this year. In November, Orphan Train, will be coming out which is independent from the other books. Then I plan on at least two books a year, with several shorter ones mixed in.

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Interview with K. E. Ormsbee, Author of The Water and the Wild

K. E. Ormsbee

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I was a huge bookworm as a kid, and that love for stories grew, as it so often does, into a desire to tell my own. When I was twelve, I began my first project: an epic high fantasy complete with hand-drawn map. I called my fantasy land Marladia, which I now realize sounds a little too much like marmalade. I only made it four chapters in before abandoning that very ambitious project, but ever since then I’ve been an avid writer.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I’ve wanted to write for children for as long as I’ve wanted to write, period. Growing up, I was deeply impacted by children’s literature. Books like Matilda, Bridge to Terebithia, and Charlotte’s Web—just to name a very few—influenced the way I perceived life, death, and myself. I wanted to write stories that gave young readers the same sense of understanding, hope, and camaraderie I took away from my own favorite books.

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

Well, my only experience writing for “adults” was my short fiction creative thesis in college, so I’m not sure I’m very qualified to comment. I will say I’ve found it much harder to write my Middle Grade books than my Young Adult books. Which isn’t to say one process is more enjoyable than the other! It’s just that so far my YA projects have flowed much more easily and quickly. Does that mean it’s harder to write books for a younger audience? Maybe… But I think it’s always worth the effort!

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

Hearing back from young readers and their teachers. I was lucky enough to attend the NCTE Annual Convention last year, where I met some of the most gracious, compassionate, fascinating people. English teachers ROCK, and it’s such a thrill to send a signed book back to the classroom. And I could talk to young readers all day long. Last holiday season, I had a conversation with my cousin, who is in his teens and has long professed his hatred of reading. He was raving about Looking For Alaska and several other YA books he’d recently discovered. “It’s weird,” he told me. “I like reading books now.” I didn’t tackle hug him, because he’s too cool for that, but I was bursting with happiness after that talk. That’s why I write. For readers like my cousin, who just needed to find a book that spoke to him, a protagonist he could relate to, and a plot he could get behind. One book can change everything.

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

The Water and the Wild is the story of a girl named Lottie Fiske, whose best friend Eliot is dying of a mysterious illness. In an attempt to find a cure, Lottie travels through a magical apple tree’s roots into a parallel world called Albion Isle. On her journey, she’s joined by a poetry-spouting boy with untouchable hands, a girl who can hear for miles in every direction, and a royal heir who can taste emotions. As Lottie and her companions make their way to the Southerly Court, where the one healer who can save Eliot is being held captive, they encounter many obstacles, including the sinister wolf-like Barghest, oblivion-filled swamps, and giant spider webs. It’s a story filled with poetry, adventure, friendship, and MAGICAL BIRDS.

What inspired you to write it?Water and the Wild_FC_ HiRes

In the summer of 2008, the image of a white finch in a green apple tree lodged itself soundly into my brain. I wrote down a description of that image, which would eventually become some of the first pages of The Water and the Wild. Then I wrote an outline of the story, which drew some of its inspiration from my love of fantasy, Shakespeare, English Romantic poets, and folklore from the British Isles.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Anywhere books are sold! Here are a few handy dandy links:
Indie Bound (http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781452113869)
B & N (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-water-and-the-wild-katie-elise-ormsbee/1119943015)
Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Water-Wild-Katie-Elise-Ormsbee/dp/1452113866)

What is up next for you?

Right now, I’m working on four projects. The first is a sequel to The Water and the Wild, which is slated for a Fall 2016 release. The second is my YA contemporary debut, Lucky Few (Simon & Schuster 2016), about a homeschooled girl and her neighbor, a boy struggling with death anxiety. The third is a standalone MG called The House in Poplar Wood (Chronicle, 2017). And the fourth is a Super Top Secret project that’s still under wraps.

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! Keep on keeping on, and live long and prosper.

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Coming Soon!

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Check out Nikki Maxwell’s ninth diary in the #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series!

Nikki’s diary is up to the month of April, and springtime is sure to bring more wacky adventures with Nikki and her friends Chloe, Zoey, and Brandon!

whatever2The magical seventh installment in this NEW YORK TIMES bestselling series!

This time, the magic mirror sucks Abby and Jonah into the story of Beauty and the Beast. When Jonah angers the Beast by picking flowers from his garden, he becomes the Beast’s prisoner! Abby has to save her brother by finding Beauty, whom the Beast will surely fall in love with, right? NOPE. The Beast doesn’t like Beauty, so it’s up to Abby and her brother to match-make this reluctant pair and fix this fractured fairy tale before things get pretty ugly!

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The New York Times and USA Today bestselling series soars to even greater heights with a new prophecy and five new dragonets ready to claim their destiny!

Daring mission… or deadly mistake?

Winter has been a disappointment to his royal IceWing family his whole life. When his sister, Icicle, runs away from Jade Mountain Academy, fleeing terrible crimes and possibly planning to commit more, Winter knows that they both need a second chance to make things right — if only he can find her.

Winter’s new clawmates, Moon, Qibli, and Kinkajou, won’t let him make this dangerous journey alone. They don’t seem to understand that IceWings, the most superior of all dragon tribes, can fix their own problems. When their search leads the dragonets straight into Queen Scarlet’s vicious talons, Winter is grateful to have some help. But even the bravest dragons can’t follow him to the Ice Kingdom, where he’ll have to face the greatest threat of all: his own family.

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She’s grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.

Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.

Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen’s deepest and most psychologically probing novel yet, telling an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.

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Jack and Annie are diving into danger when the magic tree house whisks them away to shark-infested waters in this NEW adventure in the New York Times bestselling Magic Tree House series!

It’s a dream vacation for Jack and Annie—or is it?

When Teddy, a young sorcerer, offers to send Jack and Annie on a dream vacation, they can’t wait to go. The brother-and-sister pair wish for a trip to a beach paradise, and the magic tree house whisks them off to the coast of Mexico. Everything starts out perfectly as they raft around a coral reef. But then a hungry shark attacks! And their dream vacation turns into a nightmare!

Guest Book Review: Rosabelle by Linda Harrington

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Print Length: 208 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B00M1TIJKG
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, animal stories

Rating: 4 stars
Rosabelle by Linda Harrington is a delightful children’s book set in rural New Zealand, in the 1970s. The main focus of the story falls upon 11-year-old Jane Williams, and their father’s racehorse, the titular Rosabelle. When Jane’s father has a suspicious accident at the racing stables, he is unable to work for a good while; this wreaks havoc upon the family’s finances, as well as family relationships since Jim Williams is a proud man, not used to accepting help from people. Rosabelle is the family’s last hope because she is such a good racer. However, finances are so tight that Jim even considers selling Rosabelle to his so-called friend and associate, Don O’Leary. But things are going wrong all round with various farmers’ sheep being stolen from farms. When Jane overhears O’Leary making sinister remarks about her father and Rosabelle, she is on the alert to his motives. Sadly, no one believes her until disaster strikes again and more sheep go missing. With the help of her friend Marta, and with information helpfully supplied by her teacher, Mr. Dunkerton, and with surprising assistance from Rosabelle herself, Jane sets out to expose Don O’Leary and get back those sheep. But it’s not going to be as easy as she thought!

The story unfolds slowly, and this enables young readers to really get to know Jane, her family and her friends, and also to learn about Rosabelle. The pace of living several decades ago was very different as well, and the author has a delightful way of describing rural life, as well as deftly inserting interesting snippets of historical information to place readers in the ’70s context. Readers also learn more about Jane’s family history (which has an interesting outcome), and might be keen to dig into their own family backgrounds as a result. There is enough horse detail to satisfy equine fans, without overpowering readers not as familiar with saddle soap and stables! I enjoyed this book very much; the author painted the entire story with loving strokes, imbuing it with a whimsical charm that seeps right through each page, making the ambiance, the era, the characters and their lives come to life. I especially enjoyed Jane’s Scottish teacher, the eccentric Mr. Dunkerton, and his bagpipes. The author includes a front map and a back glossary of unfamiliar words and terms which young readers will also enjoy, enabling them to place the location of the story and to understand the colloquial words and terms. This book will appeal to young readers and those who enjoy family oriented stories.

 

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.