Wait Wait…It’s Me!

wait waitIf you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I’ve been taking a break for June. Mostly, it’s been good–I’ve been writing more, and I’ve also had the time and energy to knock some long-standing items off my to-do list.

One of those items was “try to get on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” my favorite NPR news quiz show. I’ve been listening for years, and they always say “If you want to play on air, call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT!”

So, finally, I called. I left a rambling message about being a writer and having two little kids and listening every week while I hang their cloth diapers up to dry… and lo and behold, they called me back.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman CoverSo if you listen to the broadcast this weekend, YES, that’s me (!!) doing the listener limerick challenge. It was exactly the mix of fun and terrifying that I had always imagined. I even got to talk a little about my books ALL FOUR STARS (about the 12-year-old restaurant critic) and THE GREAT HIBERNATION (where the adults fall asleep and the kids take over the town government).

The Great HibernationCalling the number was on my to-do list, but actually being on the show? Total bucket list item–now crossed off. Also, my voicemail is about to get upgraded. ūüôā What a week.

(The only irony is that I now have to break my own social media blackout to share the news, ha!)

PS, ¬†If you missed the show but still want to listen, never fear, it’s online, too. It’s the 6/23/18 episode featuring David Wise.

Winner of THE GREAT HIBERNATION!

The Great HibernationThank you so much to everyone who helped me celebrate the cover reveal for The Great Hibernation,¬†illustrated by Rebecca Green,¬†and to¬†everyone who entered my ARC giveaway.¬†The randomly selected winner is…

**** Jennifer Doyle ****

Congrats, Jennifer, and happy reading!

The Great Hibernation¬†will be available for preorder soon, and I’ll share links when this is possible. I’m also planning¬†to hold launch events in Austin, New York, DC, and Colorado this fall, so keep an eye on my events page as the year progresses!

(Also, in case you missed it, Rebecca posted a sneak peek at an interior illustration from the book on her Instagram yesterday. I can’t wait until everyone gets to see all of her whimsical, wonderful work!)

This Friday at Second Star to the Right!

Second StarGreetings, friends!

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.

Second Star has also posted an interview with both of us on their blog.

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.

Hope to see you there!

 

 

A whole new format for Gladys in 2016!

All Three CoversAs this year draws to a close, I’m thrilled¬†to share one more very nice piece of news for the All Four Stars series…

THERE WILL BE AUDIOBOOKS!

My publisher, Penguin, has licensed audio rights to Ideal Audiobooks for¬†All Four Stars, The Stars of Summer,¬†and¬†Stars So Sweet.¬†I don’t have all of the details yet, but I believe that they will all be recorded and released in 2016.

logo

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.

Interview, giveaways, and pics from my panel!

Over at the excellent¬†cooking blog kitchen frolic, Stephanie has kicked off a new Q&A series today by interviewing yours truly. We chat about writing, food, camels, and what’s coming in the¬†All Four Stars¬†sequel. Thank you for being such a terrific AFS supporter, Stephanie!

Also today,¬†my fellow 2014 debut author Linda Vigen Phillips has a lovely review of¬†All Four Stars¬†up on her blog. She will also be giving away an AFS swag pack to one lucky commenter, so feel free to leave a comment if you’d like to enter to win!

Speaking of giveaways, I also have a GoodReads giveaway running this week for one signed copy of All Four Stars.

And finally, here are a few pictures from my middle grade author panel yesterday at Denver’s adorable indie bookstore BookBar. I teamed up with amazing authors Jessica Lawson and Lauren Magaziner for some dramatic readings from our books, fun trivia with prizes, and a lively Q&A session. (You can see the full album here)


BookBar sign

STARS, WITCHES, and BECKYDramatic readingMiddle grade authorsIt was SO much fun. Many thanks to our Colorado writer friends (and some new young fans!) who attended. And if you’re looking for a signed copy of¬†All Four Stars,¬†BookBar has a few left!

The ALL FOUR STARS celebration continues!

Flat Gladys finds a brownie. Yum.

Flat Gladys finds a brownie. Yum.

Hello, friends!

I’ve been remiss at posting links over the last few days thanks to my sister’s wedding. But my Internet friends have been doing an awesome job of celebrating All Four Stars¬†in my absence–and offering giveaways!

I currently have interviews up at the following places. Thank you so much to all of these bloggers for your fantastic questions!

Jessica Spotswood (including an ARC giveaway of All Four Stars and Pennyroyal Academy!)

Leandra Wallace (including a cupcake pin giveaway!)

Smack Dab in the Middle
(Tamera Wissinger)

Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire (Mindy McGinnis)

EMUsBadgeAnd last, but certainly not least, it’s launch week for¬†All Four Stars¬†at my beloved group blog, Emu’s Debuts! Yesterday, Jeannie Mobley kicked things off with a post about cake (as in “Let Them Eat Cake”–fitting on Bastille Day), and today the Emus are sharing pics and reviews from their adventures with “Flat Gladys,” who has been traveling the country reviewing meals. And more fun is scheduled¬†all week–comment on any post to enter to win a signed copy!

The ALL FOUR STARS blog tour – stop 7

all four stars tour buttonWe are one day away from publication!!

Today’s official blog tour stop is an interview at Finding Bliss in Books. Thanks for having me, Blythe!¬†Lots of travel-related chat in this one, plus my favorite and least favorite foods. And don’t forget that this is another chance to enter to win free copies!

I also have a new interview up at¬†Spirit of Children’s Literature. If you would like to see pictures of donkey meat and get a sneak peak at what happens in the sequel to¬†All Four Stars,¬†head over there. ūüôā

And thank you to Brenda at Log Cabin Library and Lisa at Fic Talk for these delicious reviews.

When I post tomorrow, I’ll be a published author!

 

The ALL FOUR STARS blog tour – stop 5

The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher - coverIt’s Monday, which means it’s time to announce the winner of my giveaway of Jessica Lawson’s magnificent debut novel,¬†The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.¬†Congratulations to Lindsay Eland, who is the winner! *cheers*

Monday also means that the All Four Stars¬†blog tour is back at full swing.¬†At Xpresso Reads, I have a guest post up called “Diversity is Delicious.” I think that the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is important, and I thank Jenni for giving me a chance to write a little about my own path to including diverse cultures in my writing. The post is about a very special teacher I had in high school and the culinary experiences that helped me get out of my picky-eating bubble.

all four stars tour buttonI’m also interviewed today over at With Faith and Grace, which is my lovely friend Allison’s blog. We talk about the publishing process, and there’s a whole new chance to win a copy of the book. The giveaway ends this week, so hurry on over!

There have also been some terrific new reviews over at Carina’s Books and Great Imaginations. I’m really enjoying hearing what new readers are enjoying in¬†the book, and noting their intelligent critiques. Keep the opinions coming!

It’s launch week for TALKER 25!

t25-coverOver at Emu’s Debuts, we’re all celebrating the launch of Joshua McCune’s fantastic debut YA novel, Talker 25. Here’s the blurb about this epic book:

It’s a high school prank gone horribly wrong: sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon. Now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in chilling secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population.

I read an advance copy of this book–the first in a trilogy–a couple of months ago, and it knocked my socks off. If you loved The Hunger Games, or are fascinated by dragons, or find reality TV to be twisted and scary, I think you’ll love this book.

Plus, you can win a free copy by commenting on any of our launch week posts at Emu’s Debuts. And extra copies are up for grabs if you enter the dragon-naming contest!

You can find Talker 25 online at Indiebound, Amazon, BN.com, or at your local bookstore.

Butterbeer! Pumpkin Juice! Puking Pastilles! (What I ate at Harry Potter World)

Foodie Kidlit Friday icon“I’m going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter with my cousin this month!” I spent most of January telling anyone who would listen.

“Oh, that’s so nice of you,” a lot of them replied. This response baffled me at first, until I realized that they thought that my cousin was a small child whom I had volunteered to chaperone around Universal Studios. Then came the awkward moment when I had to explain that no, my cousin was my age, and that we were going to Harry Potter World… well, just because we wanted to.

Hogwarts

Whatever. Harry Potter is awesome, and Merrie and I have been wanting to check out the Universal versions of Hogsmeade and Hogwarts for years. (And as a kidlit author myself with a particular penchant for writing about food, I was especially excited to do some taste-testing of Potter-inspired foods at The Three Broomsticks and Honeydukes!) So in the last week of January, off we went to Orlando.

I would like to say that we arrived via Hogwarts Express, but apparently the track-elves are still working on the Denver-Hogsmeade line. Still, we were welcomed at Hogsmede station by a conductor, who seemed to be legitimately blown away by Merrie’s impervious (i.e. rubberized) rain pants. (The weather was shockingly British for our Orlando visit–high 30s and rainy most of the week!)

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts castle was truly impressive from the outside.Hogwarts castleBut inside it was even better! There’s so much to see as you wait in line for the Forbidden Journey ride–such as the house points hourglasses filled with emeralds for Slytherin, sapphires for Ravenclaw, rubies for Gryffindor, and…what the heck is Hufflepuff’s stone, anyway?House points

You could stop off for a quick look in the pensieve in Dumbledore’s office.PensieveMerrie and I particularly enjoyed that the ride warning signs were provided by The Department of Magical Transportation. ūüôā¬†Warning signCloser to the ride entrance are walls of talking portraits…Portraits…and right before you enter, the sorting hat recites a rhyme about how pregnant ladies and people with heart conditions shouldn’t get on the ride. It was brilliant.
Sorting HatIn retrospect, perhaps I should have paid more attention to the sorting hat’s warnings about dizziness. The Forbidden Journey is a thrilling, but also kind of sickening ride. Once was enough for me and Merrie.

On to Hogsmeade! The rooftop snow is fake, but it could have been real that day–that’s how cold it was.Hogsmeade

Into The Three Broomsticks to warm up. I was really hoping for a hot tankard of butterbeer, but alas, the only options were cold or frozen. I went with cold (drink on the right), and Merrie ordered a pumpkin juice and a strawberry-peanut-butter ice cream (which I believe is the flavor Harry eats at Florian Fortescue’s parlor in book 1).¬†Butterbeer et alCheers!Tara with Butterbeer

Okay, honesty time–we were actually pretty disappointed with everything in this first order. The pumpkin juice was refreshing at first sip, but tasted more and more fake the more we drank of it, like artificial pumpkin-pie-flavored Kool-Aid. The butterbeer tasted kind of like cream soda with a thin butterscotch-flavored foam on top, and for me, once the foam was gone, so was the novelty. And the ice cream tasted mostly like peanut butter, which isn’t a bad thing, though it was frozen so solid that we really had to dig at it with our spoons.

We finished the ice cream because…well, it’s ice cream, but couldn’t make it to the bottom of either of our drinks. Alas.

But the pub atmosphere was great, and it sure is fun to eat in a place where Butterbeer is on tap!Butterbeer on tapThere was also a giant Butterbeer truck in the street. I bet that it’s really popular on non-freezing days.Butterbeer truckOn to Honeydukes!Honeyduke'sPossibly my favorite window dressing in all of Hogsmeade: an animatronic doll continuously puking a sheet of puking pastilles into a bucket. ūüôāPuking pastillesWhile I thought that the prices at The Three Broomsticks were pretty reasonable for a theme park (specialty drinks around $3 and change, full meals $8-$15), the shops are definitely where they aim to get your galleons. Almost every candy package at Honeydukes cost at least $10. Still, it was fun to see so many items from the books–like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.
Bertie Bott's Every Flavor BeansThere were huge chocolate cauldrons filled with marshmallow…Chocolate cauldrons…and, in the bakery section, cauldron cakes, which apparently have about five different types of chocolate in them.Cauldron cakeMerrie bought a chocolate frog, which comes with a cool pentagon-shaped wizard card inside. The frog is just a massive, solid block of milk chocolate, though, and it’s pretty hard to crack apart and share. (However, packages of much smaller peppermint toads were available, and Merrie hacked the system by refilling her chocolate frog box with toads so that her kids could open it up and enjoy them without getting frustrated by the giant frog. That’s an engineering mind at work right there!)¬†Chocolate frogMy haul from Honeydukes: Bertie Bott’s Beans and a chocolate cauldron for my students, and ton-tongue toffee for my husband. (Sadly, it did not turn his tongue into a three-yard-long purple snake–but it was sort of shaped like a giant tongue and did have a ton of calories!)Candy haulHere’s Merrie in front of Hagrid’s hut. Which, honestly, was a little nicer than I’d pictured it! Note the giant pumpkin in the yard.
Hagrid's hutHey, it’s lunchtime–back to The Three Broomsticks! I opted for the Cornish Pastie lunch, which included three hot little meat pies and an enormous iceberg lettuce salad.¬†Lunch at the Three BroomsticksThe pies were good (mostly because they were hot). The salad was a salad. Merrie and I lamented that your meal does not magically float up through the table like it does at the Great Hall feasts in the books. That would be some good technology–er, I mean, magic.

At Harry Potter World, The Hog’s Head is actually just an extension of The Three Broomsticks, but I did appreciate the enormous head behind the bar!Hog's HeadAnd the head on the tap. I’m not sure what actually comes out of this tap, though. Anyone know?Hog's Head TapOh, look–it’s students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons! Apparently they sometimes do an acrobatic show, but the stage was too wet for them to perform. ūüė¶TriwizardWhile there were plenty of school scarves and hats and other expected apparel you could buy, what surprised me most was that you could also get Hogwarts cheerleading uniforms. Funny, I don’t remember cheerleaders in the books (though I can only imagine the height they could get on those basket tosses with the aid of a wingardium leviosa charm!).Hogwarts cheerleaderMerrie insisted that, as a writer, I take a picture in front of the quill shop. Thanks, cuz. ūüôāScrivenshaft'sIt was still freezing that afternoon, and we were hungry again, so we decided to give The Three Broomsticks one last try. We ordered two potato side dishes: the seasoned fries and the garlicky potato wedges. Both were really tasty, and this visit got our biggest thumbs up of the day.¬†Potatoes at The Three BroomsticksI’ll wrap things up now in a different section of Universal, outside the Dr. Seuss bookstore. A perfect place to take a picture with your cousin: note the quote!CousinsDespite the weather, and the nauseating ride, and the “meh” drinks, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter didn’t disappoint us. The level of detail put into the buildings and atmosphere was really impressive, and I’m sure that once the new section opens up this summer, it’s going to be even better. I’ll probably skip the pumpkin juice and Butterbeer next time, but I wouldn’t mind having some of those hot potato snacks right about now. Hooray for Harry Potter!

**UPDATE: I returned to Harry Potter World in 2017 to try frozen butterbeer and eat my way through Diagon Alley. Read my updates here!**

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

***