Monthly Archives: January 2013

And The Winner Is….

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Thank you to every one who stopped by to read the Spotlight interview on Deborah Heiligman and her incredible YA novel, Intentions. If you missed it, you can still read it here.

9780375868610_p0_v1_s260x420And now for the winner of a signed copy of this awesome novel…

It’s a snowy day here in CT and my helper, Trixie, was snoozing away:

photo-8 copyBut she can’t resist crumpled paper. Now that she’s almost completely deaf, I had to show her the paper and crumple it in front of her. She perked right up and became a willing helper.

photo-10She awaited my signal – I waved her over and she dashed to the basket.

photo-11She sniffed around and chose the lucky winner.

photo-12She did get a nibble before I could get the paper away from her (but no worries, she got a cookie as a reward for helping) – and the winner is…..

photo-13Jill Canfield!!!! Congratulations! Please email me at just kid ink at yahoo dot com (no spaces) to arrange receipt of your prize!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by, and stayed tuned for more opportunities to win fantastic books!

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Welcome to the Spotlight: Deborah Heiligman and Intentions!

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Welcome back to my Spotlight series where I shine the spotlight on fabulous authors and their wonderful books! For the first spotlight of 2013, I’m happy to feature Deborah Heiligman and her YA novel, Intentions, which just won the Sydney Taylor Book Award for Teen Readers. Congratulations, Deborah! Stayed tuned below on how you can win a signed copy of this incredible book!

9780375868610_p0_v1_s260x420Intentions by Deborah Heiligman (Alfred A. Knopf/2012)

When Rachel discovers that the esteemed Rabbi Cohn is not the person she thought he was, her world starts crashing around her. Her parents fight all the time, her best friend is distant and sometimes mean, and she thinks she might have a boyfriend in Jake who is sweet and kind, but then there’s Adam, the rabbi’s son, who is neither, but hot just the same. Rachel struggles with doing the right thing at a time when she has no one to lean on and all the people she once trusted are changed.

You are a prolific author of many children’s books, as well as a Printz honor winner for your nonfiction book Charles and Emma about Charles Darwin. What was your path to publication like?

My second job out of college was working at Scholastic News, the classroom magazines for elementary school children. (My first job was working at a Jewish magazine, where my main responsibility was to get coffee and lunch and snacks for the editor.) I hadn’t meant to write for kids, but I took the job so I could move to NY and be with my boyfriend. Good move! I learned to write for kids and I married the boyfriend. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and then when I got pregnant I decided to stay home and be a freelance writer. My first son loved to be read to above all else, so after he was born and I left Scholastic I read children’s books all day. I was freelancing at the time, and so I decided to try to write a picturebook. It was beginner’s luck. The second publisher who saw it bought it! My career has taken A LOT of twists and turns, ups and downs, since then.

INTENTIONS is your first YA novel. What was the initial spark behind this story?

I’ve always wanted to write about that moment in a kid’s life when she realizes that someone who adores is flawed. That happened to me a few memorable times when I was growing up and I think it really shaped who I became. But the particular sparks, I think, were some things in real life: from my childhood, the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, and this rabbi in New Jersey who had his wife murdered. Yes, I have been working on this book since the second Clinton administration.

I felt for Rachel, for her pain and struggle with dealing with betrayed trust and for her confusion following. I rooted for her when it came to her feelings for Jake. I could not put the book down, I wanted to be with her every step of the way. How did you get to know Rachel and were there any challenges you encountered as you were writing this book?

The biggest challenges I had in writing this book were not in figuring out Rachel. She came to me, more or less, fully formed. I thought of her (and I admit, still do) as a real person. I would yell at her while I was writing–whenever she did something stupid I would try to talk her out of it. But she won every time. When I first wrote it, though, it was set in the 1970’s, had a big Holocaust subplot, and many more characters. The challenge was to winnow it down, make it really move, and be not about me or my childhood, but about Rachel’s. I had a lot of help with this book, most especially from my editor.

Rachel volunteers at an elementary school – and the boy she works with loves cars. Were you obsessed with anything in particular when you were a child?

I was not, but I envied kids who had obsessions. I tried to have an obsession, or at least a hobby, but nothing ever stuck.

Heiligman, D.

Deborah Heiligman is the author of almost 30 books for children and teens, including Intentions (Knopf, August 2013), winner of the Sydney Taylor Award for Teen readers. Her book Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith was a National Book Award finalist, Printz Honor, LA Times Book Prize finalist, and the winner of the first YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award. Other titles include From Caterpillar to Butterfly (HarperCollins), the holidays around the world series (National Geographic) and Cool Dog, School Dog (Marshall Cavendish). Forthcoming: The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos (Roaring Brook, June 2012), and Go Dog, Snow Dog (fall 2013). She is currently working on book about Van Gogh for Henry Holt, and on a new novel.

For more about Deborah and her books, see her web site or follow her on Twitter!

Win a signed copy of Intentions, the winner of the 2013 Sydney Taylor Award for Teen Fiction! I truly loved this book and I’m so happy to be able to share it with a lucky winner!

Please follow the directions below (most of you know the drill)!

1. Comment on this post, and for fun, tell me something you were obsessed with as a child.  For me it was miniature dollhouse furniture. My dad built me a dollhouse (he built one for my sister, too) and I loved filling the rooms with furniture and re-decorating. I’d save my allowance so I could walk to the toy store to buy a new desk or bed or table. Maybe this prepared me for my adult life of moving every two years?

2. Leave your comment (and email address) by midnight EST Sunday, January 27th. The lucky winner will be announced on this blog and will be contacted by email on Tuesday, January 29th.

3. Entrants must have a U.S. or Canada mailing address.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

A Joyful Surprise – The Crimson Crown

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One of the “problems” with reading so much and loving so many series in progress is sometimes not being able to keep up with new releases. I fell in love with Cinda Williams Chima‘s Seven Realms series the moment I started reading the first book, The Demon King.

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In a time when wizards are bound to the queen and streetlords thieve and run ragged in towns, Han (Hunts Alone) sheds his streetlord status and tries to go straight and raise money for his mother and younger sister.  His only escape is to the clan where his best friend Fire Dancer and matriarch Willo care for him and provide shelter.  Raisa, the princess heir, feels bound by her role and can’t seem to reach her mother, who is strongly influenced by her wizard advisor. When it becomes apparent that things are not right, Raisa chooses to act on her own, with help from old friend (and now part of the Queen’s Guard) Amon Byrne.  From there it’s a heart-pounding adventure that grabs onto the reader and doesn’t let go!

The second and third books in the series, The Exiled Queen and The Gray Wolf Throne are just as gripping and fantastic and definitely don’t disappoint. I’m so in love with Han and Raisa. I don’t want to provide a summary of the books here because I don’t want to give anything away. I highly recommend this series if you love epic high fantasy with absolutely amazing characters.

So, when I was recently in New York City browsing the amazing children’s book store, Books of Wonder, I was thrilled to see a signed copy of the fourth book in the series, The Crimson Crown!

9781423144335_p0_v2_s260x420At this writing (and a day before this post goes live), I plan to start reading this very book as soon as I finish running errands this morning. Joy!

First Book of 2013

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I am a rather superstitious person – given to omens. Whatever book I started the year off reading would portent the quality of the rest of my reading year. Fortunately the first book I read was excellent!

9781476730943_p0_v2_s260x420The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Atria Paperback (Simon & Schuster)/2012  new adult fiction

This is where the importance of reading blogs come in. If not for Lucy of The Reading Date and Brittany of The Book Addict’s Guide, I may not have heard of this incredible book. Both listed this book as one of their top reads of 2012. What a great way to start off my 2013!

I normally share my own synopsis of a book after I read it, but I don’t feel like I can do this one justice so I’m pasting the summary from GoodReads here:

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

I was hooked from the very first page and didn’t want to put the book down, but forced myself to because I wanted to make this story last. A story with amazing characters I fell in love with, The Sea of Tranquility is filled with tension interspersed with humor, incredible chemistry, and deep emotion. I’d definitely read another novel by this author!

Coffee Break Tuesday with Barbara O’Connor

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Welcome to Coffee Break Tuesday, where I sit down with fabulous authors and discuss their writing. Please grab a mug of coffee (or tea) and join us!

Today I’m having coffee with Barbara O’Connor! I’ve long been a fan of her books – and thoroughly enjoyed reading her newest MG book, On The Road to Mr. Mineo’s.

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When a one-legged pigeon named Sherman neglects to return to his roost with the other homing pigeons, Mr. Mineo frets and worries. In the meantime, other members of the town of Meadville, SC spot the pigeon – from Stella who wishes she could have a dog, to mean ol’ Levi and his scabby-kneed germ-infested friends, to Mutt who is known to be the town liar – and thus starts the “great pigeon hunt.” Who will find Sherman first?

Welcome, Barbara! When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved to write. As a child, I wrote poems and stories. I wrote my first book when I was 12. It was 76 handwritten pages long. The only problem with it is that I never finished it. In fact, here is the last sentence: “Well, be careful and….” Yep. Stopped writing smack dab in the middle of the sentence. Go figure.

What was the first book you wrote what was it about? (Not necessarily the first book you got published.)

I wrote a very blah and trite book called Surf’s Up, Nicki Weaver that amassed thousands of rejections. (Well, maybe not thousands, but a lot.)

For the record, my first published book was a biography called Mammolina: A Story About Maria Montessori. I started my writing career writing biographies.

What was your journey to publication like?

I lived in Los Angeles many years ago and decided to take a class in writing for children at UCLA. I got totally hooked. I floundered around with some ho-hum manuscripts for a while, collecting my share of rejections. After moving back East, I started toying around writing biographies for children. After a few false starts, I managed to sell my first biography to Carolrhoda. I went on to publish five more biographies with them.

But my heart was still with fiction. I had written a middle grade book called Beethoven in Paradise. A friend of mine published with Scholastic and offered to send it to her editor. That editor liked it but eventually passed on it. She did, however, offer to connect me with an agent, Barbara Markowitz. She sold that manuscript to Frances Foster at FSG. I’ve been with Barbara and Frances for over 18 years now. I just wrapped up my 10th novel with my amazing team.

What is your most recently published book or upcoming book?

My middle grade novel, On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s, came out in October.

There are EIGHT points of view in that book. It damn near killed me.

How have you changed from when you first started out as a (pre-published) writer to now?

I know that I’m more critical of my writing now. I also tend to self-censor more than I used to because I’m more aware of reviews and adult reaction to my work than I used to be. I don’t write with the same “freedom” that I did before I was published. There’s a country-western song that goes “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” Ha! I sometimes feel that way.

But the flip side is that I’ve set high expectations for myself. I’m more confident with my writing voice and I have pretty good instincts about when I’ve strayed from it. I’ve also developed a writing style that works for me and that comes a little easier as the years (and books) go by.

Favorite book from childhood?

Trixie Belden all the way.

A favorite book you recently read?

I recently reread Saraswati’s Way by Monika Schroeder. Having spent many years in India (the story’s setting), Schroeder nails the setting and seamlessly weaves the culture into a fast-paced story. I also just finished an arc of Linda Urban’s new book (The Center of Everything). I adore her writing voice and style.

A bit of wisdom to share:

Your writing process should be one that works for you. Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Some people have to write every day, some don’t. Some people plow ahead without polishing along the way, some don’t. Some people outline, some don’t.

Secondly, listen to your instincts. If something in your work is niggling at you, pay attention to it. Maybe you’ve forced something. Maybe you’ve forgotten your voice. Maybe you’re trying to ignore a problem thinking no one else will notice. Pay attention to those things.

For fun – something not a lot of people know about you:

I have no sense of smell. This can be very inconvenient when your stove is on fire, but there are other times when it comes in quite handy.

Barbara O’Connor is the author of award-winning novels for children, including How to Steal a Dog, The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, and The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. Drawing on her South Carolina roots, Barbara’s books are known for their strong Southern settings and quirky characters. In addition to six Parents Choice Awards and five state children’s book awards, Barbara’s distinctions include School Library Journal Best Books, Kirkus Best Books, Bank Street College Best Books, and ALA Notables. She has had books nominated for awards in thirty-eight states. Barbara is a popular visiting author at schools and a frequent speaker at conferences around the country.

To learn more about Barbara and her books, check out her web site, or follow her on Twitter!

What To Expect in 2013

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My blog-aversary came and went without fanfare last September. Oops! I hope to do something more celebratory this coming September!

I have goals for this blog in 2013 and I hope to meet them all! Here’s what you can expect this coming year:

1. A new series: Coffee Break Tuesday! Okay, it’s new only to this blog. A couple of years ago on my writing blog, I started a series of interviews with authors chatting about their journey to publication and writing in general. I have a great line up of authors for 2013. Come join us for coffee (or tea if you prefer) and conversation!

2. More Spotlight Interviews! I love putting the spotlight on authors and their newly released books – and I love giving away copies of books to enthusiastic readers.

3. More book buzz and raves! I’ve upped my reading goal from 50 books (which I surpassed in 2012) to 100. Eep! I hope I can do it! More reading means more book buzz and raves here! I look forward to sharing with you.

4. If there’s anything you’d like to see here, do let me know! Thank you so much for stopping by.

Happy 2013 and happy reading! I look forward to hearing about your raves and reviews.

Books Read in 2012

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I read a total of 67 books in 2012. I hope for 100 in 2013! Here’s a list of most the books I read and enjoyed in 2012 (in reverse chronological order):

THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS by Jan-Philipp Sendker (adult fiction)
EASY by Tammara Webber
THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY by Rachel Joyce (adult fiction)
V IS FOR VIRGIN by Kelly Oram
ONE FOR THE MURPHYS by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
INTENTIONS by Deborah Heiligman
ON THE ROAD TO MR. MINEO’S by Barbara O’Connor
ENDANGERED by Eliot Schrefer
FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver (adult fiction)
THE ANGEL’S GAME by Carlos Luis Zafron (adult fiction)
NO ONE IS HERE EXCEPT ALL OF US by Ramona Ausubel (adult fiction)
THE EDGE OF NOWHERE by Elizabeth George
WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? by Maria Semple (adult fiction)
THE MAGICIAN’S ASSISTANT by Ann Patchett (adult fiction)
THE GIRL IN THE WALL by Daphne Bendis-Grab (ARC)
EVERY DAY by David Levithan
REUNITED by Hilary Weisman Graham
LIAR & SPY by Rebecca Stead
52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER by Jessica Brody
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA by Anne Marie Pace (illus by LeUyen Pham)
SMALL DAMAGES by Beth Kephart
THE DISENCHANTMENTS by Nina LaCour
OH NO, LITTLE DRAGON! by Jim Averbeck
STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett (adult fiction)
PARIS. MY SWEET by Amy Thomas (adult memoir)
LIFE, LOVE, AND ELEPHANTS by Dame Daphne Sheldrick (adult memoir)
BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett (adult fiction)
MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green
BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore
BACKSEAT A-B-See by Maria van Lieshout
IN HONOR by Jessi Kirby
VIOLINS OF AUTUMN by Amy McAuley (ARC)
UNTIL I DIE by Amy Plum
SECOND CHANCE SUMMER by Morgan Matson
THE BOOK OF BLOOD AND SHADOW by Robin Wasserman
A MILLION SUNS by Beth Revis
MARTY MCGUIRE DIGS WORMS! by Kate Messner (illus by Brian Floca)
CATCHING JORDAN by Miranda Kenneally
TWENTIES GIRL by Sophie Kinsella (adult fiction)
HOUND DOG TRUE by Linda Urban
BLACK HEART by Holly Black
UNCOMMON CRIMINALS by Ally Carter
AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR by Morgan Matson
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? by Sophie Kinsella (adult fiction)
HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter
THE WILD ROSE by Jennifer Donnelly (adult historical fiction)
I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER by Sophie Kinsella (adult fiction)
SEE YOU AT HARRY’S by Jo Knowles (ARC)
TOMO (Anthology) edited by Holly Thompson (ARC)
CHRONAL ENGINE by Greg Leitich Smith (ARC)
THE FOX INHERITANCE by Mary Pearson
MY LIFE UNDECIDED by Jessica Brody
THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater
THE WINTER ROSE by Jennifer Donnell (adult historical fiction)

Thank you to all of you who recommend and write fabulous books for me to devour! Here’s to another year of great reading! Cheers!