Cynsations guest post, and preorder winner!

20170911_094045I’m so pleased to announce that Marnie Lansdown has won the preorder contest for The Great HibernationMarnie works at Colorado Humanities, and has great plans for getting the class set of books into the hands of underserved readers in the Denver area. Thank you, Marnie, and thank you to EVERYONE who preordered from BookPeople! Your personalized copies, stuffed with stickers and bookmarks, are on their way out to you.

The winner of Under the Bottle Bridge by Jessica Lawson will be chosen tonight. You can still squeeze in an entry by commenting on that post if you haven’t already!

And finally, I have a guest post up today at Cynsations, the fabulous blog of Cynthia Leitich Smith, about making connections in the writing and bookselling community after moving to a new town. A lot of the advice would also apply to debut authors. I hope that it’s helpful and interesting!

 

Advertisements

Some chances to win THE GREAT HIBERNATION

Great Hibernation cover*Quick reminder – you have one more day to win a copy of Under the Bottle Bridge by Jessica Lawson right here at my blog! Such a wonderful, whimsical book–please leave a comment and enter!*

Thank you so much to all of the friends, family members, fellow authors, and booksellers who made yesterday’s publication of The Great Hibernation such a special day for me. Book birthdays are way better than real birthdays at this point! 🙂 If you spot the book out in the wild, please keep sharing pictures; if you read it and enjoy, please consider leaving a review online to recommend it to your fellow readers.

A couple of fellow author-bloggers are kind enough to be hosting giveaways of copies of The Great Hibernation on their sites, so please feel free to click over to these entries.

insta

Signing on launch day at my local B&N

Jessica Lawson – Falling Leaflets – ebook giveaway

Laurie Ann Thompson – interview with me & hardcover giveaway
(Laurie’s interview–aside from plenty of behind-the-scenes details about the writing of Hibernation–includes my list of favorite 2017-18 middle-grade reads, so if you are looking for some book recommendations, please check it out!)

And there’s no giveaway attached, but I also have an interview up over at Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s Creative Spaces blog, in case you’d like a glimpse of my new Texas workspace.

Tomorrow, I’ll be at Cynsations; I’ll also announce the winner of Under the Bottle Bridge AND the winner of the BookPeople preorder contest for The Great Hibernation. And my in-person bookstore tour kicks off this Sunday!

Launch dinner

Wrapping up launch day with–of course–food!

Lots going on–no time to hibernate. 🙂 Thanks again to everyone for your support of my new book.

Great hopes for THE GREAT HIBERNATION

Great Hibernation coverWell, friends, the day is here. My fourth novel, The Great Hibernation, is out in the world. This is definitely my weirdest book, and in some ways, also my most personal. Writing it was a long journey that spanned 2013—before I was a published author at all!—until very late 2015 (two days before I gave birth to my first kiddo). The editorial process, by contrast, was a fairly short one (at least by publishing standards), from selling it to Wendy Lamb Books in early 2016 to seeing on the shelves now in 2017.

When you start writing a novel, you often have no idea if or when it will ever reach readers. I certainly couldn’t have anticipated this story entering the world in the midst of the political and natural strife so many of us are now facing. And in a way, it feels weird to be celebrating something joyous like a new book release when so much around us feels like it’s falling apart.

But at the same time, if we let all joy be swallowed up by darkness, the darkness wins. That’s something that I refused to let happen to my characters in The Great Hibernation—even though a series of sinister, stressful things happen to them over the course of the book, those challenges never quite destroy their creative spirits. In fact, they inspire my main character, Jean Huddy, to grow braver and louder than she ever thought she could be.

Hibernation Insta1

Jean Huddy, in Rebecca Green‘s beautiful illustration, taking on the patriarchy of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord

So perhaps the fictional town of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord (my quirky setting for The Great Hibernation) will, for a few hours, serve as a refuge for readers who need it. Perhaps the humor in the story will help them forget their troubles for a bit. And then, when the time comes for them to stand up and take the next steps in their fight—for justice, for recovery, for whatever their own challenge is—perhaps my characters’ journey will lend them a little extra strength, too.

Happy reading, and stay awake.

-Tara

Need a copy of The Great Hibernation? Just hop into your car, truck, or snowplow and head to…

Hibernation Insta2

 BookPeople (signed copies)Your local independent bookstore * Penguin Random House * Powell’s * BAM * B&N * Amazon *  Indigo (Canada)Book Depository (International)

 

Need to find me over the next month? 

Hibernation Insta4

Meet me at one of my booktore events (NYC; Westchester; Boston; Arlington/DC;  Boulder, CO; Austin, TX)…snowshoes, hopefully, not required

 

Want to know more about The Great Hibernation?


What would happen if every grown-up in town fell asleep and the kids were left in charge? A great pick for fans of A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff and Greenglass House by Kate Milford, or any reader seeking a quirky mystery with a big helping of silliness.
 
The most important tradition in tiny St. Polonius is the annual Tasting of the Sacred Bear Liver. Each citizen over twelve must eat one bite of liver to prevent the recurrence of the Great Hibernation, when the town founders fell asleep for months.

This year is Jean Huddy’s first time to taste the liver. It doesn’t go well.

A few hours later, all the adults fall into a sleep from which they cannot be woken, and the kids are left to run things. At first, they have a blast. But then the town bullies take over the mayor’s office and the police force, and pretty soon Jean begins to suspect that this “hibernation” was actually engineered by someone in town.

Courage, teamwork, and scientific smarts unlock an unusual mystery in this delightful and funny story about one girl who inspires the kids around her to join together to save their home.

 

Want to read some nice things people have said about The Great Hibernation?

Hibernation Insta3

Memorably humorous…Lighthearted enough to entice readers with the silly premise and whimsical illustrations sprinkled throughout, this middle grade book nonetheless explores some rather important political ideas about individuality and the need for a balance of powers in governance. A strong selection for most middle grade shelves.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

“Quirky without being over-the-top, Dairman’s novel is a funny, wintry romp that explores just what might happen if kids were in charge.”
-BOOKLIST

“[A] whimsical mystery…The fast-paced plot belies the sleepy small-town setting, and it’s refreshing to see a cast of characters who genuinely love their village and their families, whatever their quirks, instead of yearning to escape them.”
-BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN’S BOOKS (BCCB) 

“Definitely will not induce drowsiness. Utterly original.”
ADAM REX
author of The True Meaning of Smekday and the Cold Cereal Saga

“Imagine Lord of the Flies as a comedy set in snowy terrain and you have The Great Hibernation: a hilarious, whip-smart page-turner you don’t want to miss.”
—JENNIFER CHAMBLISS BERTMAN
New York Times bestselling author of Book Scavenger and The Unbreakable Code

 

Under the Bottle Bridge by Jessica Lawson—Recipe & Book Giveaway!

under-the-bottle-bridge-9781481448420_hrI’m so pleased today to welcome Jessica Lawson, middle-grade author extraordinaire (and good friend), to my blog. Jessica is the author of the much-acclaimed books The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher, Nooks & Crannies, Waiting for Augusta, and now Under the Bottle Bridgewhich was just published this week (all with Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers).

Later this month, we will be celebrating our book launches together in both NYC and Virginia (more details here). But today, Jessica is sharing a recipe inspired by her new book, and giving away a copy!

 

***

Of Hearth Milk & Home—Recipe & Book Giveaway!

My good friend Tara (owner of this blog!) is a foodie. You might be able to tell from her Gladys Gatsby series, or from this Wizarding World of Harry Potter post, or from the creative foods in her most recent book, The Great Hibernation (out next week!). When I wanted to buy a cookbook for my husband’s birthday recently, Tara was the one I asked.

My latest publication, Under the Bottle Bridge, is not a foodie book. It is an autumn book—a “change of seasons” book. Still, when I think autumn, I get very nostalgic for two things: 1) the beginning of a new school year and 2) autumn comfort foods—stews and cornbread and pumpkin dishes and apples and spices. And also hearth milk.

What’s hearth milk, you ask? I created hearth milk for the book. It began as a simple line of fiction. My main character, Minna Treat, lives in an old stone house (with a large stone hearth). It’s a home that she loves. It’s a home that circumstances might cause her to soon leave. I found myself wondering what generations of Treats might keep bubbling in the cast-iron pot on nights that were cold in temperature, or cold in spirit, or both. I decided that while Minna is a woodcraft legacy (eight generations!), her family would also have a legacy of making a special drink:

Hearth milk was for special occasions. We’d fill a hanging cast-iron pot with extra-creamy, straight-from-the-cow farm milk and heat it slowly with brown sugar, vanilla, a pat of butter, nutmeg, whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick.

Minna describes hearth milk as being “better than hot chocolate. Having hearth milk was like drinking a warm bed and a soft story.”

Over months of drafts and revisions, I read the ingredients line describing this fictional drink over and over. Eventually, I came to my senses and thought…Hmm. That sounds pretty good. I should try that. So I did. And it was tasty.

The recipe is below. Leave a comment letting me know your favorite autumn treat for a chance to win a hardcover of Under the Bottle Bridge. Winner will be chosen on September 14.

 

*Minna Treat’s Hearth Milk

2 cups whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)

1 stick cinnamon

8 whole cloves

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon vanilla

 

Directions: Combine milk & cream in a saucepan on the stovetop on medium-high heat. I heat mine at 7 (out of 10). Add all other ingredients and stir on a regular basis to avoid a film forming at the bottom of the pan (or a “skin” on the top).

Within six to eight minutes, the milk should begin to simmer. At this point, turn on low for five minutes to let spices soak in. Continue to stir now and then.

Remove whole cloves with a spoon. Remove pan from stovetop and ladle into mugs. Serve with a spoon and—optionally—a thin pat of butter on top that will melt into the milk. Person who gets the cinnamon stick gets to make a wish.

Makes 6 servings, each ½ cup.

*You can substitute almond/soy milk for milk/cream if lactose-intolerant. We tried it with almond milk and my 8YO said thumbs up, 4YO said thumbs down. You can decide for yourself 😊

under-the-bottle-bridge-9781481448420_hr

About Under the Bottle Bridge:

In the weeks leading up to Gilbreth, New York’s annual AutumnFest, twelve-year-old woodcraft legacy Minna Treat is struggling with looming deadlines, an uncle trying to hide Very Bad News, and a secret personal quest. When she discovers mysterious bottle messages under one of the village’s 300-year-old bridges, she can’t help but wonder who’s leaving them, what they mean, and, most importantly…could the messages be for her?

Along with best friend Crash and a mystery-loving newcomer full of suspicious theories, Minna is determined to discover whether the bottles are miraculously leading her toward long-lost answers she’s been looking for, or drawing her into a disaster of historic proportions.

 

Giveaway: SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK by Ellen Wittlinger!

511xSpTjNgLUpdate, 8.25.17: Congratulations, Daria! You’ve won the ARC of Saturdays with Hitchcock. Thanks to all who entered, and please do check it out when it hits the shelves in October!

***

Hello, friends. As excited as I am about The Great Hibernation hitting the shelves next month, I am just as pumped about the slew of other fantastic middle-grade books that are coming readers’ way this fall.

And Saturdays with Hitchcock by Ellen Wittlinger (October 10, Charlesbridge) is at the top of my list. I was lucky enough to read an advance copy and I absolutely fell in love with it. You can read my review below, and I’m not kidding when I say that it’s probably my favorite MG read so far this year. I’m thrilled to have an advance copy to give away–I hope you’ll enter to win it!

Here’s a little more about the book:

Twelve-year-old movie-loving Maisie is in need of a distraction from her current romantic dilemma when her Uncle Walt comes to stay with her family after being hurt on the set of the movie he’s filming in Hollywood.

Maisie’s best friend, Cyrus, has been hanging out a lot with Gary Hackett, whose last-name sounds to Maisie like a cat barfing up a hairball. When it seems as if Hackett might like Maisie romantically, she’s none too pleased, and Cyrus is even less impressed.

Uncle Walt has a way of pointing Maisie in the right direction, and Maisie’s love of movies also keeps her centered. Heading to the local independent theater on Saturdays to see old movies helps Maisie stay grounded as she struggles with growing up, family tensions, a grandma who seems to be losing her memory, and a love triangle she never expected.

My own review on GoodReads:

Saturdays with HitchcockSaturdays with Hitchcock by Ellen Wittlinger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK is probably my favorite MG read of 2017, and I’m kind of desperate for everyone else to check it out. Maisie is just the sort of heroine I adore–one with a strong, specific passion (in this case, movies); loyalty to her friends and family; and, most importantly, the ability to recognize when a bad first impression of someone merits reconsideration. On every page, I relished watching her interact with this book’s stellar and complex supporting cast as she worked her way through a variety of personal and family challenges.

All of which may make this book sound a little dry or serious, when really, it’s not. And I think that’s Ellen Wittlinger’s biggest accomplishment. There are plenty of books out there that deal with the types of issues that SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK tackles–dementia, family money issues, burgeoning crushes, and questions about sexuality–but few that do it with such a light touch and in such a compulsively readable way. So many different types of readers would connect strongly with this story, and I’m really excited for it to find its way in the world.

Giveaway Alert!

I’m so inspired to get the word out about this one that I’m giving away my advance copy (ARC) to one lucky reader–just leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. You can also earn an extra entry by tweeting about the giveaway.

Here’s a sample tweet you can use:

Win an ARC of @EllenWittlinger’s brilliant MG novel SATURDAYS WITH HITCHCOCK (10.10.17, @charlesbridge): http://bit.ly/2ijSl1Q #giveaway

Let me know in your comment if you’ve tweeted so I can give you credit. This giveaway is USA only. I’ll announce a winner this Friday, August 25.

Good luck!

Preorder contest & tour dates for THE GREAT HIBERNATION!

Great Hibernation coverIt’s hard to believe that my fourth novel, The Great Hibernationwill be on bookshelves next month! I’m so excited for readers to meet Jean, Isara, Rambo the sheep, and the rest of the gang tasked with saving the tiny town of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord from a mysterious hibernation…and some dastardly political moves, too.

Are you hoping to score a signed copy? And maybe some neat Hibernation swag? You’re in luck! You can either come see me in person on my fall tour, OR preorder a signed, personalized book through my local indie bookstore, BookPeople (and be entered to win an awesome grand prize). Details below!

The Great Hibernation fall book tour

Books of Wonder – New York, NY
Sunday, September 17, 4 pm
Middle-grade panel and launch party! (with Jessica Lawson, Tracey Baptiste,  & Alison Cherry)

The Voracious Reader  – Larchmont, NY
Monday, September 18, 6:30 pm
Science & magic! A middle grade event with Sarah Albee, & Corey Ann Haydu

Trident Booksellers & Cafe
 – 
Boston, MA
Tuesday, September 19, 6:30 pm
Super middle-grade panel! (with Debbi Michiko Florence, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Jen Malone, & Katie Slivensky, moderated by Dana Alison Levy)

One More Page Books
 – Arlington, VA
Saturday, September 23, 3pm
Kidlit panel! (with Tracey Baptiste, Caroline Carlson, & Jessica Lawson, moderated by Madelyn Rosenberg)

Boulder Book Store – Boulder, CO
Tuesday, September 26, 6:30 pm
Middle-grade book launch party! (with Jeannie Mobley & Melanie Crowder)

BookPeople – Austin, TX
Sunday, October 8, 2 pm
A Triple Launch Party! (with Christina Soontornvat & Jeannie Mobley)

 

Preorder campaign!

Can’t make it to one of my events? Never fear–I’m teaming up with BookPeople for an awesome preorder campaign! Just follow the instructions on this page and you can order as many signed, personalized copies as you like; all will come with an exclusive Great Hibernation bookmark and sticker. And as an added bonus, anyone who preorders from BookPeople will be entered to win this amazing Grand Prize Pack!

-Spike, the stuffed narwhal (a key character in The Great Hibernation)61dp4WwNJYL._SL1500_

-A free 30-minute Skype visit with the author, during which you can ask me anything about my books (great for classrooms, book clubs, or just one-on-one chatting!)

AND

-A book club or classroom set of hardcovers of The Great Hibernation!

 

Good luck, and hope to see you and/or sign books for you this fall!

 

Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream! Cottage Pie! Fishy Green Ale! (What ELSE I ate at Harry Potter World)

Given that my post about what I ate at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2014 is still one of my most popular, I figured I should follow it up now that I’ve just been back–and visited the newer section of Diagon Alley. There were many new treats to try, both of the delicious and the eyebrow-raising variety, and with the help of my trusty husband and our voracious kiddo, I sampled as many as I could.

(First, though, I should probably just point out that visiting Harry Potter World on a rainy, 40-degree midweek in winter and on a sweltering Friday at the peak of tourist season in July are two vastly different experiences. Still, despite the crowds and the sweat, we had a great time even at the height of summer.)

We began the day in Diagon Alley, and it is impressive. I’m sure you can find many photos online if you want to check it out, but I did have to share my capture of the dragon atop Gringotts breathing fire, as he does at regular intervals. (Fair warning, the fire is HOT if you’re standing under it, and my toddler screamed from the noise every time.)

20170714_175033

It wasn’t long before we found ourselves peckish. Word to the wise, there is no line at Florean Fortescue’s ice cream parlor at 10am! Also note that they do not give samples. They have hard ice cream and soft, and my husband got apple crumble and strawberry-peanut butter hard ice cream. Both were delicious.20170714_101321
I opted for toffee apple soft serve, which is really just vanilla with toffee and green apple flavorings swirled in. It was fine, but the hard ice cream was better, and since you’re paying crazy park prices anyway, it seems worth the extra 50 cents.
20170714_101340
All aboard the Hogwarts Express! Choo, choo!
20170714_173413
Over in the Hogsmeade section of the park, I made my best culinary selection of the day: frozen butterbeer. You may remember that on my last (rainy, freezing) visit, I only tried the regular cold butterbeer and was less than impressed. Well, frozen is a hippogriff of a different color. SO much better–like a rich butterscotch slushee. Prices on all drinks have gone up quite a bit, but I’d say this was well worth the $7.50 (especially when waiting outside in the hot sun for a show to begin on the Hogsmeade stage).
20170714_115937

On to lunch at The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade. Luckily, I had remembered to reread my own reviews of the food from my previous visit, and knew that my favorite things on the menu were the potato dishes. So that’s what I ordered. This time, the seasoned wedge fries were far superior to the garlic roasted potatoes (though my kid gobbled up plenty of the roasted ones without complaint).
20170714_122639

My husband, who had not been to The Three Broomsticks before, got the rotisserie smoked chicken platter ($13), which came with corn and potatoes. Not exactly the most British of lunches, but we’d have much better and more British-y meals later on at the Leaky Cauldron.20170714_122618
Drink options at both The Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron now include apple and pear ciders (nonalcoholic), so we tried a pear one. Cheaper than the “specialty” drinks ($3 and change) but…meh. We suggest you save your sickles (and sugar allotment) for butterbeer and ice cream.
20170714_122643

Honeyduke’s in Hogsmeade is still where it’s at for candy, though they seem to have gotten rid of the amazing animatronic girl continuously puking Puking Pastilles who used to be in the window. (Probably because they now sell actual Puking Pastilles at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley, though I didn’t see her there, either.) They did have this nifty setup inside, though, showing house elves clipping black licorice strands from a man’s hair and beard. 20170714_164054

We would have loved to see the machine in action, but alas–sickles only.20170714_164057

Back in Diagon Alley, we admired the window dressings some more. Books!20170714_175016

Potions!20170714_181005

Fishy Green Ale! Wait, what?

We popped into The Fountain of Fair Fortune to try this specialty drink, which you can only find in Diagon Alley. Thankfully, it is not fishy, nor an ale (it’s nonalcoholic), though it’s certainly green. Ostensibly mint and cinnamon flavored, we thought it tasted mostly like sugar and were not terribly impressed. That is, until we got a mouthful of the “fish eggs” that live at the bottom.

I had read online that these eggs were like blueberry-flavored tapioca pearls, so I was expecting something chewy, along the lines of the “bubbles” in bubble tea. But…no. Somehow, the wizards of Diagon Alley have created supersoft little balls that explode in your mouth with a burst of fizzy blueberry flavor! The texture must be experienced to be understood. We still don’t know what they could be made of, and have decided we don’t want to find out. The toddler LOVED them, too. (We generally kept her away from the sugary drinks, but we figured these were the closest things she was gonna get to fruit all day, so we let her eat them.)  I still say the green drink itself is pretty icky, but the fish egg experience probably made it worth the $5 to try.
20170714_181308

At last, on to The Leaky Cauldron for dinner. Similar meal prices to The Three Broomsticks, but in my opinion, much better food. I got the cottage pie, which was filled with ground beef and vegetables with a potato top, and it was very good. (Then again, I guess all I’d eaten all day were potatoes and sugary drinks, so maybe I was just really hungry!) The salad was nice, too–not just iceberg, which is what you get at the other pub.20170714_183236

My husband got the bangers and mash, which we forgot to photograph until he was halfway through the meal. Oops! It was really good, too. Great flavor in the sausage, nice peas on the side, and a variety of roots in the veggie mix, including parsnip, which I don’t think we’d actually eaten since we were in Scotland a couple of years ago.20170714_183240

 

You may have noticed some drinks in the picture of my dinner. We wouldn’t have bothered, but we lucked into some meal coupons that included drinks, so I got a lemonade (ugh, too sweet and fake bright yellow), and against my counseling the husband tried pumpkin juice. I took a sip and it was just as I remembered, kind of like drinking a pumpkin spice Yankee Candle, but he managed to drink it down. He said it was worth the $0 we paid for it.

20170714_091839
So, in summary, some of the food lived up to its price in goblin gold, and some of it didn’t quite. The atmosphere of the parks is as stunning as ever, though, the rides are fun, and the shows–particularly Beedle the Bard in Diagon Alley and the Triwizard Tournament in Hogsmeade–are really enjoyable to watch.

Next time, I’ll be heading straight back to The Leaky Cauldron, Florean Fortescue’s, and anywhere I can get some frozen butterbeer. Cheers!

***
Like this post? Then you’d probably love my middle-grade novels about tween restaurant critic Gladys Gatsby!

***