After so many years writing about Gladys (I started the first draft of All Four Stars in 2005!), it’s hard to believe that the final volume of her adventures will hit the shelves in less than two weeks.
The series’s publisher, Penguin Books for Young Readers, is also generously providing several sets of ALL THREE Gladys Gatsby books as prizes for blog tour commenters, so definitely check out the tour posts over the next few weeks if you’d like to enter. (Even if you already own the books, they’d make a great gift for a local school or library!) I’ll be linking to tour posts here as well as on Twitter and Facebook.
Czech it out (yuk, yuk): Author copies of the Czech translation of All Four Stars–Všechny čtyři hvězdicky–arrived on my doorstep this week!
Všechny čtyři hvězdicky – All Four Stars in Czech!
The book was published by Albatros in 2016, with a new cover by Eva Chupíková. The cover was a glorious surprise to me, because the last I heard, the publisher was planning to use the American art. What a treat to see a different artist’s interpretation of my beloved Gladys! A few friends have commented that she has an “Amelie” vibe, which I love. You can see more of Eva Chupíková’s book covers here.
The translation was done by Alžbĕta Kalinová, and I’ve already heard from one Czech reader that it is excellent.
And the book itself is beautiful. It’s paper-over-board (basically, hardcover without a dust jacket), which is one of my favorite formats, and it even comes with sewn-in ribbon bookmark.
In short, Albatros did an amazing job. Thank you to them, and to the foreign rights team at Penguin! Here’s hoping Czech readers enjoy Gladys’s adventures as much as I’ve enjoyed perusing this new edition.
Tomorrow (Thursday, 6/9) at 6 PM I’ll be at University Book Store in Bellevue, Washington, as part of the incredible Children’s and YA Author Extravaganza! I can’t wait to team up with these other fantastic authors of middle grade, YA, and picture books to talk about writing for young people (and sign books, of course).
For all those who have been asking what’s coming from me post-Gladys, I finally have an answer for you!
In today’s Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf:
Here’s a bit more of the story behind this book.
In January of 2013, my mother was very ill–on a breathing machine in a hospital bed, fighting for her life. I flew to New York to be with my dad and sister, sleeping on a mattress on the floor at my parents’ house for two weeks when I wasn’t at the hospital.
One morning, I woke up on that mattress clinging to the remnants of a vivid dream: Two children in a tiny boat in choppy, frigid waters, trying to sail for help because something was very wrong at home. All of the adults in their little town had mysteriously fallen asleep, and no one could wake them up.
Looking back now, the connection between this dream and my family’s situation at the time seems so obvious–but I didn’t see it then. I just thought “Well, that’s a decent story idea.” And I put it in my back pocket.
Miraculously, over the course of many months, Mom made an amazing recovery. I returned home and resumed my work on the All Four Stars series, though between contracts I started to play around more with my parents-falling-asleep book idea. My dream had also gifted me with the perfect setting, inspired by a remote town in northern Iceland that I had visited the year before. And I had a handful of characters who were starting to feel real to me.
Yes, people live here!
Teasing out the story’s plot strands was harder. I’m a serious plotter–I love suspense and mystery and surprise–but the twists this story seemed to want to take scared me a little. It was a much bigger, much more complicated plot than I had ever attempted before (science and politics and myths and sheep farming!). When I finally drew up the courage to pitch it to my husband, he gave me the full-on “are you crazy?” stare.
I pressed on, though. I outlined. I tackled the dread synopsis. I finally finished an appallingly bad first draft in February of 2015–literally the day before I got the green light to write Stars So Sweet, the third book in the All Four Stars series. So into the drawer my draft went for several more months.
I finally got back to this book in the fall, writing a new draft nearly from scratch. Stars So Sweet was pretty much done at that point, but I had a new deadline: the due date of my first child, who was coming at the end of the year. The story took shape as my belly grew. I made it through two more drafts with the help of an intrepid team of beta-readers. I tamed that roaring bear of a plot (this is not a random metaphor–an unruly bear actually plays an important role in the story 🙂 ) and finally sent the book in to my agent, who had been excited about it ever since I’d mentioned my idea to her at our retreat in 2013.
Two days later, my baby was born.
And now, to my absolute delight, the wacky, challenging book I wasn’t sure I could pull off has found an editor who loves its quirkiness and wants to bring it to readers everywhere!
I was lucky enough to get my paws on an advance copy of my friend and agency-sibling Mike Jung‘s new middle-grade novel, Unidentified Suburban Object, a few months back. It comes out on April 26, but here’s your chance to read it early, because I am giving my ARC away this week! Details about entering are below.
This delightful, category-defying book has already received rave reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly (and from me!). Here’s the blurb:
The next person who compares Chloe Cho with famous violinist Abigail Yang is going to HEAR it. Chloe has just about had it with people not knowing the difference between someone who’s Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. She’s had it with people thinking that everything she does well — getting good grades, winning first chair in the orchestra, etCETera — are because she’s ASIAN.
Of course, her own parents don’t want to have anything to DO with their Korean background. Any time Chloe asks them a question they change the subject. They seem perfectly happy to be the only Asian family in town. It’s only when Chloe’s with her best friend, Shelly, that she doesn’t feel like a total alien.
Then a new teacher comes to town: Ms. Lee. She’s Korean American, and for the first time Chloe has a person to talk to who seems to understand completely. For Ms. Lee’s class, Chloe finally gets to explore her family history. But what she unearths is light-years away from what she expected.
Is any middle-grade author better at pulling off the jaw-dropping plot twist than Mike Jung? I didn’t think I’d ever read another twist as clever as the one in GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES, but that was before I’d picked up his latest. Add to that a stellar narrative voice and conversation-starting themes, and UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT is a true winner.
GIVEAWAY ALERT! You can enter to win an ARC of Unidentified Suburban Objectby leaving a comment on this post. You can also earn up to two extra entries by posting about this giveaway on Twitter and/or Facebook. (Please mention or link your follows and extra posts in your comment to get credit for them.)
Win an ARC of @Mike_Jung’s excellent new MG novel, UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT! http://bit.ly/1UTqiSr #giveaway
Sample FB status:
Win an ARC of Mike Jung’s excellent new MG novel, UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECT! http://bit.ly/1UTqiSr #giveaway
I‘ll announce a winner at 9 am Mountain Time this Friday, 4/1.
(Oh, and if one giveaway isn’t enough for you, there are also currently giveaways for signed copies of my books The Stars of Summerand Stars So Sweetup on Goodreads. Click the titles to enter, and good luck!)
If you’re in the Denver area, I invite you to come out this Friday, April 1, to see me and Jeannie Mobley at Second Star to the Right Children’s Books on Tennyson street. We will be reading from our middle-grade books, answering questions, and doing a craft starting at 6:30 pm.
This event is part of the Tennyson Street Cultural District First Friday Art Walk, meaning that lots of artsy shops, galleries, and restaurants in the area will be open late and having special programming. It’s a fun time for kids and adults alike.
On a personal note, I love listening to audiobooks, so this is a dream come true/author bucket list item for me. On a more practical note, I love that this new format will give kids with learning differences who need or prefer to listen to books access to Gladys’s adventures. And I think it’s great that families and groups of friends will be able to listen together if they want to, too.
I’ll share more news about the audiobooks here when I have it. In the meantime, dear readers, I hope that you’re having a very happy holiday season. This news has certainly made mine a little sweeter.