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.

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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.

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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!

 

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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 😊

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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.

 

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!

Event at BookBar in Denver today!

Hello, Colorado friends!

Just a reminder that I’ll be at BookBar–the lovely bookshop/wine bar in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood–today at 2 pm! I’m doing a middle-grade panel along with my fellow 2014 debut authors Jessica Lawson (The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher) and Lauren Magaziner (The Only Thing Worse Than Witches), and we have funny readings planned as well as trivia with prizes.

Hope to see you there!

And a few more links

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman CoverHappy Friday, folks!

It’s the last day of Emu’s Debuts launch week for All Four Stars, featuring a recipe for “Amazeballs” by Megan Morrison! Yum! And in case you missed them, there was also an interview with cover artist Kelly Murphy (featuring alternative cover sketches!) and a hilarious compendium of Emu kitchen disasters. Comment on any post for a chance to win a signed hardcover–winner announced on Monday!

My fabulous friend and fellow debut author Jessica Lawson (whose The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher I adore) is also giving away a copy of AFS to a lucky commenter!

Heidi Schulz (whose debut MG novel Hook’s Revenge comes out this fall!) has me at her blog with an “In the Middle” interview! Find out which dessert in AFS is my favorite.

I was also interviewed by restaurant critic John Lehndorff yesterday on Boulder KGNU’s “Radio Nibbles”! The five-minute chat starts at 25:45.

Finally, I’ve posted pictures from both my 7/10 NYC launch party at Books of Wonder and my 7/17 Boulder launch party at Boulder Book Store at my author page on Facebook.

Launching All Four Stars has been a wild, wonderful ride so far, and I’ll try to gather my thoughts on the entire process at some point in the coming weeks. But for now I’ll just say THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who has supported me and my first book in person and online over this past week. I’ve been so honored and humbled by your enthusiasm for my work. Read deliciously!

Happy release day to THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER (plus giveaway)!

I am so, so thrilled to celebrate the publication of an absolutely incredible middle-grade book, which just so happens to be written by my good friend and critique partner Jessica Lawson (I interviewed her for the Colorado is for Writers series here). The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher is her magnificent debut, and trust me when I say that you want this hilarious, heartwarming, clever, and creative book on your shelf this instant.

Becky Thatcher by Jessica LawsonHere’s the blurb about the book:

Becky Thatcher has her side of the story to tell—and it’s a whopper—in this creative spin on Mark Twain’s beloved The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, complete with illustrations.

Tom Sawyer’s and Huckleberry Finn’s adventures are legendary, but what about the story you haven’t heard? In 1860, eleven-year-old Becky Thatcher is the new girl in town, determined to have adventures like she promised her brother Jon before he died. With her Mama frozen in grief and her Daddy busy as town judge, Becky spends much of her time on her own, getting into mischief. Before long, she joins the boys at school in a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas, and Becky convinces her new best friend, Amy Lawrence, to join her.

But the theft doesn’t go as planned, and Widow Douglas ends up being unfairly accused of grave robbing as a result. So Becky concocts a plan to clear the Widow’s name. If she pulls it off, she might just get her Mama to notice her again, as well as fulfill her promise to Jon in a most unexpected way. That is, if that tattletale Tom Sawyer will quit following her around.

One of the (many, many) wonderful things about this book is that it works whether you are a fan of the original Tom Sawyer story or not. I’ve actually never read it (mea culpa!), but I adored Jessica’s interpretation just the same.

And you don’t just have to take my word for it that this book is fantastic–check out this starred review from Publishers Weekly!

So please join me in wishing Becky a happy book birthday, since the book is published today! It’s available on its own, or in this nifty boxed set that includes Twain’s original Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. 

Of course, I’d love for everyone to rush out right now and buy a copy to support Jessica’s debut. But I’m also going to give a copy away to one lucky commenter! Feel free to let us know what classic piece of literature you’d like to rewrite from another character’s perspective. And I’ll give you bonus entries if you Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway and paste the URL into your comment!

Sample Tweet: THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER by  is out today! Win a copy at ‘s blog: 

Sample FB: Jessica Lawson’s fantastic Tom Sawyer retelling, THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER, is published today! Win a copy here: 

Thanks, and good luck! I’ll select a winner this Friday, July 4.

Interview with Colorado author Jessica Lawson!

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, I am over the moon to be welcoming my good friend Jessica Lawson!

You might already know Jessica through her fantastic blog, Falling Leaflets, which educates aspiring writers about craft and agent-querying (the sidebar links alone are worth their weight in gold).

Or maybe you’ve heard great things about her debut middle-grade novel, THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER, which is coming in summer 2014 from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. (I might have been the one who told you those great things. I adore this book!)

Or maybe you don’t know Jessica at all yet. Let’s fix that right now!

Jessica Lawson

The lovely Jessica!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

I’m a transplant, via a suburb of Chicago and Indiana. I went to college here because I thought Colorado/the mountains sounded like a beautiful change, but headed back to the Midwest for grad school. Turns out I couldn’t stay away from the mountain air and 300-plus days of sunshine. The view from my small-town home is the best I’ve had in my 30-some years—the mountain silhouette around twilight has a way of making every evening magical. The stars are pretty spectacular as well. 🙂

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

THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER is part origin story, part retelling of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, written from Becky’s point of view. Though much of the plot is fun/adventure/cherry-spitting/bacon-eating based, there is an internal plot thread that deals with grieving and loss. The publisher is Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and the publication date is set for Summer 2014.

The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher - cover

The gorgeous cover for Jessica’s book, by Iacopo Bruno!

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

The view from my writing space faces one of my favorite places in the house: the kitchen. The kitchen table (or “the office,” as I now call it) allows me to look right at my daughter’s rotating list of reading words stuck on the refrigerator: Who, What, Why, When are the ones I’m looking at right now. And a butterfly decorated at the library. Inspiration indeed. 🙂

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

For me, it’s living closer to a natural landscape and having mountains always on the horizon—my family has a national forest trail right down the road and we’ve got wildlife fiddling around the neighborhood on a regular basis…okay, so I could do without the black bears attacking my trash bin, but the daily possibility of seeing foxes and deer right outside my door provides a sense of wonder that meshes well with the journey of writing for children. And taking hikes with my little ones reminds me of the very unique, very cool way that those younger than us see the world.

Thank you so much, Jessica! I, too, moved to Colorado to live closer to nature, so I’m definitely with you on that. 

Jessica and me earlier this year. Critique partner love!

Jessica and me earlier this year. Critique partner love!

Also, how great does Jessica’s book sound?! 2014 can’t come fast enough. 🙂

Readers: Do you have a favorite retelling of a classic piece of literature? Or if you were going to retell a classic story yourself, which one would you choose, and whose perspective would you tell it from? Please share in the comments!