Event tomorrow in Bellevue, WA!

UBooks_logo_V.2_400x400Hey, Seattle!

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).

If you’re in the area, I’d LOVE to meet you!

More info here.

Release day for THREE great books!

The_Stars_of_Summer_CVR_LIBMy second novel, The Stars of Summerhits the shelves today. It’s crazy to think that, just a year ago, I was the author of zero published books, and now there are two out there in the world with my name on the spine!

I’m incredibly lucky to get to do the work I love doing and actually see my writing find an audience. So to everyone who read and supported All Four Stars over the last year–who told their local librarians about it, who encouraged teachers to bring it into their classrooms, who bought an extra copy as a gift for a young (or not-so-young) foodie in their life–THANK YOU. This series wouldn’t be continuing without your enthusiasm. I hope that you enjoy reading The Stars of Summer every bit as much as I enjoyed writing it (which was a lot), and that maybe I’ll see you at one of my events over the next month.

But today is extra-special to me because it’s not only my second book’s book birthday, but it’s also the release date for two debut books that I love and that are written by dear friends of mine. I really couldn’t think of anyone better to share this day with, and I hope that if you see one of these titles on your local bookstore shelf, you’ll grab it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Sound of Life and Everything by Krista Van Dolzer

The Sound of Life and Everything by Krista Van Dolzer

Stella

Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer

Happy book birthday to all!!

SUMMER blog button3Also, here are links to two more Stars of Summer blog tour posts that are up today: I’ve got an in-depth interview with Louise Galveston and giveaway at From the Mixed-Up Files, and a quickie interview with Leandra Wallace at her blog!

And now, back to preparing hot dog toppings for tomorrow’s Colorado launch party. 🙂

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.

Interview with Colorado author Stephanie Blake!

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’m happy to welcome middle-grade and picture book author Stephanie Blake to the blog!

Stephanie is the author of the middle-grade historical novel The Marble Queenwhich was a finalist for the 2013 Colorado Book Award. Welcome, Stephanie!

First things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Stephanie BlakeI was born in Hawarden, Iowa. My parents moved the family to Colorado when I was five. I’ve lived all over this beautiful state.









The Marble Queen by Stephanie BlakeTell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My first middle grade novel came out from Two Lions in late December 2012. It’s called THE MARBLE QUEEN. I just sold a picture book to Albert Whitman called MY ROTTEN FRIEND. It will be out in March 2015 (tentatively). It’s about elementary school zombies. [<–Interviewer’s note: AWESOME.]




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

I live in gorgeous Castle Rock. I can see the rock from my backyard and my kids and husband like to hike it. I’m scared of heights, so I have never been up there.

What’s the best thing about being a writer in Colorado?
I’m always inspired by the other Colorado writers I know. It’s fun to see everyone at the RMC-SCBWI Conference each year.

Thank you, Stephanie, and congratulations on the new picture book sale! (Also, I didn’t even know that you could climb Castle Rock–too cool!)

Interview with Colorado Author Suzanne Nieman Brown!

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’m happy to welcome debut picture-book author Suzanne Nieman Brown to the blog!

Suzanne Nieman BrownFirst things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Transplant. My boyfriend and I road tripped up here to ski and snowboard with friends way back in the early 90’s. (Wasn’t that just a few years ago…?!) That boy and I married, realized our hearts belonged to the mountains, and moved here as fast as our careers would allow. We left once for grad school but returned a few years later. That was 14 years ago! Since then, we welcomed our daughter and son, adopted many animals to join our family, and turned native. *WINK* Even though I’ve lived in six states and explored 17 countries, Colorado is my home. My treasure always waiting for my return.

The Night Before Christmas in Ski Country by Suzanne Nieman BrownTell us a bit about your book(s), published and/or in progress!

My first book, THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS IN SKI COUNTRY, was just released! *YAY!* I wrote a version of this story when our daughter was born. I wanted her to have a Christmas book that reflected where we lived. With snow and elk and a Santa that loves to ride! Every Christmas our family read it. Every Christmas my son asked when I was getting it published. And every Christmas I tweaked it just a little bit more.

spreads-lowres7Last summer, I was talking to a publisher about another project when she mentioned they were looking for a Christmas book. I sent mine to her. She loved it and wanted it! And then I had a wonderful opportunity. My publisher asked me to find my own illustrator! I found Dana Schlingman through SCBWI. She and I worked closely together on every page to make my words and her watercolor pictures (by HAND, not digital!) blend seamlessly into a beautifully illustrated storybook.

Here’s the press release description:

spreads2There’s a new Santa in Ski Country and he has magic up his…well, ski vest! Santa rides a snowboard, crashes his resort-named elk into a hot tub, and wants to bring fresh powder for Christmas Day. But oh, no! Santa’s magical Icicle Star is melted! So Little Andy and Santa’s dog, Cocoa, bravely trek past frozen waterfalls, mountain animals, and sleeping aspens on a beautifully illustrated adventure to find a new Icicle Star. Will they find it in time to give Ski Country a white Christmas? Check out a sneak peek at sbrownbooks.com

I am also working on a middle grade novel that ties in with my other job as a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. More to come soon!

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

IMG_5470In two words? Nature. Animals.

In many words? Fluffy horses snoozing in the warm sun. Ribbons of mountains: dark green in the summer, speckled gold in the fall, and icy white in the winter. Our sweet dog, Lulu, upside down and fast asleep under my feet or zealously barking at the wild elk, turkeys, coyotes, deer, and bears that wander through our property. Smiling photos of my hubbie and kids on our many adventures. And my cold mug of minty green tea.

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

IMG_9440The views! The seasons! The animals! I can’t pick just one thing. *SMILE* If I’m stuck in my writing, I take Lulu for a hike. In the quiet forest or stark mountaintops, my mind opens wide and the ideas flow.

Suzanne, congratulations on your debut, and thank you so much for sharing a peak inside the book and a peak at your views (which, I must say are spectacular)! Good luck with your middle grade project!

Readers: Keep an eye out for THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS IN SKI COUNTRY in bookstores all over ski country…and in the meantime, why not follow Suzanne on Twitter? 🙂

 

Two awesome books you should read

Greetings, friends!

Colorado is for writersFirst, I hope that you’ve been enjoying my new Colorado is for Writers interview series. Thanks so much to all who’ve participated so far, and to the readers who have commented and shared links! I’ve got another interview coming up next week with debut young adult author Kristi Helvig, and then even more in October and November!

But I also wanted to share a couple of book recommendations. Two of my fellow EMLA clients have recently released their debuts, and I can’t say enough good things about both of them.

This week at the Emu’s Debuts blog, we’ve been celebrating the release of Carol Brendler‘s middle-grade novel Radio Girl–and today is actually the last day to enter to win a signed copy by commenting on one of the blog posts, so I suggest you hurry over and do that! Yesterday I interviewed cover artist Michael Koelsch, which was really interesting (and commenting on that post also enters you to win).

Here’s my Goodreads review of Radio Girl:

Radio GirlRadio Girl by Carol Brendler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not always a huge fan of historical fiction, but Radio Girl captivated me quickly with its humor and its heroine. Cece is adorable and adventurous as she defies her family’s wishes and pursues a weekend job in radio.

The book’s many period details immersed me in the world of 1930’s Newark and New York City, and I especially enjoyed learning the slang of the day (“Nerts!” may be my favorite new-old expression). Celebrities like Orson Welles make cameos, and the secondary characters (especially Cece’s hilarious best friend Bev) are very well drawn.

I didn’t want Radio Girl to end, and would love to see a sequel. I’d recommend this book for anyone aged 9 to 90!  🙂

View all my reviews

And a few weeks back I also participated in the launch of Sophie’s Squash, the debut picture book from Pat Zietlow Miller. This story about a girl and her pet butternut squash has to be one of the best picture books I have ever read, and I defy anyone not to love it.

Here’s my review:

 
Sophie's SquashSophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is absolutely delightful. Whimsical, funny, and ultimately meaningful, it would be at home on any shelf. Hooray for Sophie and Bernice!

View all my reviews

What have your favorite reads been lately? Any recommendations? I’m always looking to add to my to-read mountain pile…  🙂

Interview with Colorado author Natasha Wing!

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 thrilled to welcome prolific picture-book author Natasha Wing!

Natasha is the author of the “Night Before” series of picture books, which include several titles (like THE NIGHT BEFORE PRESCHOOL,THE NIGHT BEFORE KINDERGARTEN, and THE NIGHT BEFORE FIRST GRADE) that are perfect back-to-school reads. You can learn about these books and more at her website. Let’s get to know Natasha!

Natasha WingFirst things first: Colorado native or transplant?

Transplant. I moved here three years ago with my husband from northern California. He retired early and I can write anywhere, so we were looking for a place that was sunnier than the foggy California coast. He’s a mountain bike rider and I like to hike, so we chose Fort Collins.

 

 

The Night Before Preschool

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

I have a series of books based on the beloved The Night Before Christmas story. It’s a paperback series with holiday and school-themed stories. With school about to start up, there are three titles about preschool, Kindergarten and first grade.

The Night Before KindergartenParents have e-mailed me that the books have been conversation starters for them and their kids, prompting to talk about what to expect on the first day of school. And since the stories rhyme, kids love them! There are schools that use my Night Before books as a welcome present for kids, which I think is such a great idea. It’s cool to think little Kindergartners across the country are reading my book and are excited about going to school.

 

Wing office

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

I write in a spare bedroom upstairs that’s been converted into my office. I overlook open fields, which (until a new subdivision goes in someday) are peaceful to view. To the left in the distance is the Anheuser-Busch plant. To the right is a glimpse of Richard’s Lake and a peak of the Rockies.

 

Wing view

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

There are many things! I love that I live where the library is open seven days a week. Plus, the library has many programs for writers. It’s wonderful that we have a city-wide Fort Collins Reads event where citizens are encouraged to read one book and discuss it. This year, it’s In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. He wrote one of my all-time favorite books, The Devil in the White City, so I’m excited to go see him when he comes in November.

Kindergarten giftsetAlso, I’m glad to have a regional chapter of the professional children’s writers organization I belong to, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, right here in Fort Collins. Then there’s Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall, with its liquid yellow aspens that have inspired me to write some haiku (not published, though). People here are friendly, too, so I feel like I’ve met a lot of writers who are kind and generous with their advice and support. That’s a lot of best things!

Thank you, Natasha! How wonderful to know that your books are helping kids get ready for their first days at school.

Readers: Can you remember a book from your childhood that helped you prepare for a big life event, like a first day at school? Please share in the comments!