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!

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!