Two fantastic holiday surprises

I’m not a big gift person. Maybe it’s because I’ve already been through the experience of selling off all of my possessions (in anticipation of our epic round-the-world trip), and I never want to have that much stuff to get rid of again. Or maybe it was the trip itself; living out of a backpack taught me how few physical items I truly need to get by (though we always made room for a book or two).

All of that is to say that I’ve reached the point in my life where Hanukkah and Christmas and birthday presents don’t really appeal to me anymore. Or, at least, I thought they didn’t…until this year, when my sister-in-law gave me this:

Gladys doll

I mean, OMG. It’s Gladys!!

Based on Kelly Murphy‘s cover for The Stars of Summer, Etsy custom doll designer Kaiya’s Room got her absolutely perfect–from her hairdo to her freckles to her camp t-shirt to her ADORABLE, DETACHABLE LOBSTER BACKPACK.

So, yeah…Heidi has officially ruined me for all future gifts. :) Doll-Gladys is now sitting atop my mantle with my author copies of All Four Stars and ARCs of The Stars of Summer, but don’t worry, I take her down frequently for hugs.

Cybils-Logo-2014-Web-LgI didn’t think the holiday season could get any better for me and Gladys, but we were in for one more excellent surprise. Bright and early on the first day of 2015, I learned that All Four Stars had been named a finalist for a Cybils Award!

I love the mission of the Cybils, which is “to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal.” It’s a huge boost to have my first novel honored according to these criteria.

I was also thrilled to see that my agency-mates Laurie Ann Thompson (Be a Changemaker) and Deborah Underwood (Here Comes the Easter Cat) were among the finalists for YA nonfiction and for picture books. Hooray! Their books are fantastic.

You can find the full list of finalists here in the many categories the Cybils cover. There are so many titles in there that I’m anxious to read! Many, many thanks to the judges for their time and effort selecting them, and good luck to everyone in the next round.

 

Winners, and guest post!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered last week’s giveaway for Natasha Wing’s books The Night Before Hanukkah and The Night Before the Night Before Christmas. The winners are Sara and Clare! Congrats, guys, and happy reading.

LinkBackButton-02Continuing with the holiday theme, I have a guest post up today at one of my very favorite book blogs, Pop! Goes the Reader. Not surprisingly, I’m talking about holiday food…but perhaps surprisingly, I’m revealing some not-so-Gladys-approved shortcuts that I’ve been known to take from time to time. Many thanks to Jen for inviting me to participate in her “Authors Talk Holidays” series!

Tonight at the Tattered Cover!

Tattered_Cover_logoThis evening at 7 PM, I’ll be taking part in a panel at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Highlands Ranch, CO! Teaming up with me are two of my very favorite middle-grade authors, Jeannie Mobley (Searching for Silverheels and Katerina’s Wish) and Jessica Lawson (The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher). Lucky, lucky me!

We’ll be talking about strong heroines in middle grade, discussing our own books, asking trivia questions and giving out prizes, and, of course, signing!

Here’s the Facebook invitation if you’d like RSVP. Hope to see you tonight!

The Night Before Hanukkah: Review & Giveaway!

blog_tourToday I’m excited to be participating in the blog tour for my friend (and fellow Colorado author) Natasha Wing’s new picture book, The Night Before Hanukkah! It’s a terrific addition to her uber-popular Night Before series, which helps kids get ready for important milestones in their lives.

As they go to sleep the night before Hanukkah begins, “visions of chocolate gelt” dance in the heads of the sister and brother who are the main characters of this delightful book. Once the holiday begins, they learn to light the menorah, sing songs, hear the story of Hanukkah, and play dreidel. Wing does a great job of giving an overview of this sometimes-complicated game!

hanukkahYou could probably guess that my favorite part of the book, though, involves food. I love the illustrations of the family enjoying potato latkes, jelly donuts, brisket and gravy, and melty chocolate gelt coins. I’m getting hungry just writing this. :)

And there’s an adorable twist at the end in which one of our main characters saves the night when the family runs out of candles for the menorah. I won’t give it away here, but I’ll just say that it’s really resourceful and cute.

Xmas_homeThis is a great story to help kids learn what to expect from a Hanukkah celebration–and, just in time for Hanukkah this year, I’m giving a signed copy away! And what’s more, I also have a signed copy of Natasha Wing’s The Night Before The Night Before Christmas to give away to an additional winner.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this blog post sharing your favorite food to eat at holiday time. And it doesn’t just have to be at Hanukkah or Christmas! Any holiday will do. I’ll announce a winner next Monday, 12/15.

You can also earn extra entries by posting about this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter. Please mention that you’ve done so in your comment (or in an additional comment) to get credit!

Sample Tweet:
giveaway! Win a copy of ‘s delightful new picture book, THE NIGHT BEFORE HANUKKAH!

Sample FB post:
giveaway! Enter to win a copy of Natasha Wing’s delightful new picture book, THE NIGHT BEFORE HANUKKAH!

 

Wing

 

Thanks again to Natasha Wing for appearing!  For other stops on her 8 days of the Night Before Hanukkah Blog Tour, please check www.natashawing.wordpress.com.

ALL FOUR STARS on NPR!

logoI’m a huge fan of the Colorado Public Radio show “Colorado Matters”–especially when it focuses on books, like it does regularly with its new “Colorado Matters at the Tattered” series (in which host Ryan Warner interviews Colorado authors at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver).

So I’m super-excited to share that All Four Stars is recommended on that program today! Many thanks to bookseller Nicole Magistro of The Bookworm of Edwards for highlighting it as one of her best picks for children. And the other best pick? Searching for Silverheels by Jeannie Mobley! Nicole has excellent taste. :)

Listen here!

More updates soon. Happy belated Thanksgiving to all!

Pick of the Day at A Mighty Girl!

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman CoverI was so pleased to learn this morning that All Four Stars is the Pick of the Day from A Mighty Girl!

A Mighty Girl is an awesome website that seeks to empower and inspire girls with books, toys, movies, and music, and Gladys and I are honored to have her story featured.

Their post recommends several other terrific foodie reads (including A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff, whom I interviewed here!)–and just in time for the kickoff of Masterchef Junior. :)

Happy cooking, everyone!

Interview with Colorado author Darby Karchut!

Colorado is for writersWelcome back to the Colorado is for Writers interview series! Every other Tuesday, I talk to different Colorado-based authors about their work and their connections to this beautiful state. Today, Darby Karchut joints us here on the blog!

Darby is the author of several awesome-sounding middle-grade novels. Let’s get to know Darby better, and learn more about her books!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Darby Karchut - authorAlthough I’ve lived in Colorado Springs since 1983, I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where both sets of grandparents migrated to World War II. I even went to the University of New Mexico (like most of my extended family) and earned my undergraduate degree in anthropology. But, shortly after college, I came to Colorado, fell in love with the state, then fell in love with my future husband, and am now living the Rocky Mountain dream. I do miss the cultural “richness” of New Mexico, but I am an avid runner, biker, and skier. An even exchange. And I just recently retired from teaching 7th grade social studies in a local junior high school. Go Cheyenne Mountain JH Thunderbirds!

Tell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

Hound at the Gate coverMy latest book, The Hound at the Gate (release date is this coming January), is the third book in the Adventures of Finn MacCullen middle grade series. Based on a mix of the Celtic legends of Finn McCool and the Fey warriors known as the Tuatha Dé Danaan, my suburban fantasy is set in modern-day Colorado Springs, and features a master and apprentice duo of goblin hunters. These books are geared toward a very specific reader: the reluctant middle school/junior high boy. That said, girls love my characters and their adventures, too, and I have loads of 4th and 5th grade fans, as well.

Like Finn Finnegan and Gideon’s Spear, the first two books in the series, my stories, while loaded with action and humor, focuses on the relationship between thirteen-year-old Finn MacCullen, and his stern, but caring, master, the legendary warrior, Gideon Lir. One of my goals with these books, besides having fun researching and writing about Bronze Age Celtic myths, is to introduce a positive adult male character in Gideon Lir. He is both warrior and bard, and is becoming a father figure to orphaned Finn. And young Finn is a mirror of every 7th grade boy I have had come through my classroom.

The Stag Lord cover with blurbsI am also spreading my writing wings with my first adult urban fantasy, The Stag Lord, which will be released December 2. This book is actually a parallel series to the Finn MacCullen series, and features the local Tuatha Dé Danaan and their battle with the shapeshifter, Cernunnos.

 

 

 

 

What’s the view like from your favorite writing space?

Finn cover with blurbI have loads of favorite writing spots since I work on a laptop. I usually stand at the kitchen counter or at a tall drafting table in the corner of my office. I have found I can concentrate better when I am upright. Someday, I would love to add a shelf of some sort to my treadmill so I can walk (stroll/saunter/amble/wander/mosey) while I work.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?

There are four things that really stand out: The quality of our public schools, the friends I’ve met through both the Rocky Mountain chapter of the SCBWI and Pikes Peak Writers. It’s pretty cool that we have so many writers in a state that is known for outdoor recreation. Because of Colorado’s world-class weather, I can get outside and refresh my brain with blue sky and warm sun almost every day, even in the winter.

Oh, I love the weather here, too. And everything else you mentioned is also pretty great! :) Thank you for joining us today, Darby!