Monthly Archives: July 2013

And The Winner Is…

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Thank you to everyone who stopped by to help shine the spotlight on the fabulous Erin Dionne and her awesome new MG novel Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking!

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Normally, Trixie, my loving rat terrier, draws the winning name, but she’s been feeling poorly these last two days. I think she pulled a muscle or age is catching up with her (she’ll be 12 in August). She seems happy enough but her usual interest in crumpled paper isn’t there. I’m using random.org to generate the winning name/number.

The winning number is….2, or the second person who commented on the post. Who is that, you ask?

Congratulations to Portia Pennington! YAY! Please email me at just kid ink at yahoo dot com (no spaces) with your mailing address and I’ll make sure you get your prize ASAP!

Thanks again to everyone for stopping by. Be sure to come back soon for another great interview and give-away! Happy reading!

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Welcome to the Spotlight: Erin Dionne and Moxie And The Art of Rule Breaking!

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Please help me welcome author Erin Dionne and her newest release, Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking! Erin is the author of several fabulous middle grade novels, and I’m thrilled to shine the spotlight on her today! Stay tuned below to enter for a chance to win a copy of her new novel.

9780803738713_p0_v2_s260x420Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne (Dial Books/2013)

Moxie plans to have the most awesome summer ever, hanging out with her best friend Ollie before they go off to separate high schools in Boston. All that changes when a mysterious (and rather rude) redhead shows up at Moxie’s apartment asking for her grandfather. Moxie’s grandpa used to be a “made man,” though he claims only to have helped hide stuff in his years doing carpentry. Now he’s got Alzheimer’s and lives in a nearby assisted care facility. When The Redhead says Scully demands all his stuff back by the 4th of July “or else”, Moxie takes it upon herself to solve the mystery, which turns out to be priceless stolen art from a Boston museum. Moxie and Ollie work together to solve the mystery and find the hidden art, but time is running out and The Redhead isn’t playing nice. Fun mystery that had me rooting for Moxie all the way!

Spotlight on Erin Dionne:

I love Moxie’s spunk and the adventure she and Ollie embark on – even if they are scared. She’s determined to solve this mystery because of the great love she has for her family.  How did this story come about? What was the initial spark for Moxie and her story?

I’m so glad that you enjoy these characters! This story came together from a few different places. The main catalyst, of course, is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum art heist itself. I moved to Boston after the theft took place, and so from the first time I visited the museum, the spots on the wall where the paintings hung were empty. That sight–the empty frames hanging there, fine threads of canvas still stuck to the sides–has stayed with me for years. I knew I had to write about it. From there, it was a matter of coming across a character and a scenario that would comprise a book. I *thought* about the book for a long time before I started writing it.

Boston and art and geocaching play big parts in the story. How much research did you have to do for Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking? (Great title, by the way!)

I did oodles of research, all of which was really interesting and a lot of fun. I’d never geocached (GPS-coordinate based urban treasure hunting), so I had to learn all about that (I used geocaching.com a lot!). I had to learn about not only the Gardner heist (which you can read about at http://www.gardnermuseum.org/resources/theft ), but art theft in general. I read a bunch of books, notably THE GARDNER HEIST, by Ulrich Boser, and STEALING REMBRANDT by Anthony Amore (Director of Security at the Gardner) and Tom Mashberg. There’s also a great documentary film about the Gardner theft, entitled “Stolen,” which was super helpful. Lastly, although I have lived just outside of Boston for two decades, there was still research that I needed to do to detail some of the landmarks in the story. – So glad you like the title! It took us a while to come up with it. 🙂

I’m guessing you are very familiar with the city of Boston. What’s your favorite spot and why?

Great question! I have lots of favorite places–Fenway Park, the Public Garden, Faneuil Hall–but I think the place that most encapsulates Boston for me is Copley Square. It’s bordered by the Boston Public Library (*such* an institution and beautiful to look at), Trinity Church, and the Hancock Tower. There’s a big fountain, a park, and it’s the finish line of the marathon. It’s a singularly Boston place, made all the more powerful by the tragedies that happened there this year. You can see my “tour” of Copley here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eob8JtPCzR0)

Erin lives outside of Boston, where she writes, reads, teaches, and juggles family life. Her latest book, Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking (Dial Books) is a race-against-the-clock adventure set in Boston. Her other three novels for tweens have been called “smart with heart.”

Erin has two young kids, so she writes most of her books in her local coffee shop or local library. She’s also an associate professor of Liberal Arts at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s having dance parties with her kids, spending time with her husband, or managing the expectations of their disgruntled family dog.

For more about Erin and her books, check out her web site, find her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Win a copy of Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking! Just follow these rules to enter the drawing:

1. Comment on this post, and for fun, tell me what your favorite city is and why. It’s hard for me to choose since I love so many cities, Tokyo and Paris come to mind, but if I have to be absolutely honest, my favorite city in the world is New York – for the fabulous food (hot dogs, fine dining, chocolate, etc.!), great shopping, the Broadway musicals, the hustle and bustle, Central Park, etc.

2. Leave your comment and email address by midnight EST Friday, July 26th.  The lucky winner will be drawn at random and announced here on Tuesday, July 30th.

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

Thanks for stopping by! Good luck and happy reading!

And The Winner Is….

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Thank you to everyone who stopped by to check out my interview with Vivian Vande Velde and her newest MG novel, Frogged! 9780547942155_p0_v1_s260x420If you missed it, you can read the interview here: Spotlight on Vivian Vande Velde

Now to reveal the lucky winner of a copy of Frogged! As usual, my trusty rat terrier Trixie was on hand to pick the winning name.

IMG_3314I wrote the eligible entrants’ names on paper and crumpled them up. A little froggy hopped on over to see what was going on.

IMG_3315Trixie ran over to pick the winning name… (she sniffed the ceramic frog first)

IMG_3316And the lucky winner of a copy of Vivian Vande Velde’s fabulous novel Frogged is…

IMG_3317Julie Rowan Zoch! Congratulations! Please email me at just kid ink at yahoo dot com (no spaces) with your mailing address and I’ll get your prize to you ASAP!

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and be sure to check out today’s Spotlight and enter to win another great book!

Welcome to the Spotlight: Vivian Vande Velde and Frogged!

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I am a big-time fan of author Vivian Vande Velde and big time excited to shine the spotlight on her and her newest MG novel, Frogged! Stay tuned below to find out how you can enter for a chance to win a copy of this awesome book!

9780547942155_p0_v1_s260x420Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde (Harcourt/2013)

Princess Imogene’s mother, the Queen, has given her a book to read called The Art of Being a Princess. Not only does Imogene not want to read this dull book, but she must read it before her 13th birthday in two weeks. Quickly bored by the Forward, Imogene wanders to a nearby pond where she meets a frog who says in order to be changed back into a prince, she must kiss him. Imogene obliges, but discovers too late that not only is the boy not a prince, but the spell turns the human kisser into a frog! Imogene doesn’t want to pass the spell along but doesn’t want to remain a frog either. In her attempt to get back home, she becomes an unwilling traveling companion to Luann who is running away with a boy to join an acting troupe. Will Imogene ever find her way back home and become human again? A fun story that had me laughing out loud and cheering on Imogene!

Spotlight on Vivian Vande Velde:

I have long been a fan of yours. Some of my favorites have been Never Trust a Dead Man and Heir Apparent. I thoroughly enjoyed Frogged! Can you tell me how the story and the characters came about?

As I sometimes say to the hand-waving kids at school assemblies:  Rest your arms–this answer is going to be a long one.

In 1981, when I was sending out my first novel manuscript  (A Hidden Magic–which went on to be in print for 18 years, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, published by Crown, reissued by Harcourt), I received a rejection from a publisher who said (really!):  “We aren’t currently accepting children’s manuscripts; but if we were, we wouldn’t accept this one.”

They then proceeded to lecture me that kids like their fantasies fantastic, and that it was “wrong” (their word) to write about a princess “as though she were you or me or the little girl down the street.”

Now, it’s one thing to say you don’t like my story or my characters.  But wrong?  A word can be spelled wrong.  A sentence can be grammatically wrong.  Scientific, geographic, or historic facts can be wrong.  But I don’t believe that making the princess shy and self-conscious qualifies as wrong.  I think it’s fine to have some characters be brave and self-assured, and others who are more timid and find themselves thrust into an adventure where circumstances force them to have to deal with the situation themselves–because there is no one else.

Which brings us, finally, to Princess Imogene.  I wanted to write about a princess who is neither drop-dead gorgeous (as in the Disney tradition) nor of Xena the Warrior Princess temperament–but someone who makes mistakes yet tries to do the right thing (at least with bigger issues, even if not regarding grass stains on her clothing).  Sort of like (I imagine) you or me or the little girl down the street.  🙂

Princess Imogene unwittingly ends up as a frog and wants very much to return to her human form. What were some of the challenges to developing this story? Did the idea of the “frog curse” being difficult to undo come to you quickly?

Quite a few of my stories show the influence of fairy tales, some more directly than others.  Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, and Cloaked in Red belong in the “fractured fairy tale” category–a specific, existing, well-known fairy tale is set on its head in one or more ways; whereas A Hidden Magic, Three Good Deeds, and Wizard at Work have many of the tropes and conventions of fairy tales in general but each is an original story, not depending on the reader’s knowledge of any one particular fairy tale.  Frogged is more of this second sort.  You don’t have to know anything about “The Frog Prince” in order to read it.  When I first started thinking about the story, I didn’t want the curse to be lifted by a kiss but to be transferred by a kiss,  I did an internet search on princes and princesses and frogs, and came up with “The Princess and the Frog,” one of the few Disney movies I hadn’t seen, and “The Frog Princess”–both the one by E.D. Baker and a Russian folktale (which bear no similarity to each other).  I read descriptions of all–enough to tell my intended story was different enough from the other three to be a separate thing entirely.  (Still, I didn’t watch or read the full versions so as not to be influenced by them.)  And then I dove in.  Without knowing exactly how Princess Imogene would break the curse.  Just knowing some of the things I knew I did not want to happen.  I was very relieved when Princess Imogene finally worked it out.

Those of my friends who plot their stories out in advance shake their heads at me.

Imogene adapts pretty well to being a frog – eating flies and keeping wet. If you were somehow turned into an animal, what animal would you want to be turned into and why?

Dragon.  Because nobody messes with dragons lightly.

tn_Viv with frogVivian Vande Velde risks being turned into a frog! 😉

For more about Vivian and her many fabulous books, check out her web site!

Win a copy of Frogged! Just follow these rules for the drawing:

1. Comment on this post, and for fun, tell me what animal you would want to be turned into (if you had to be turned into one) and why. I think I’d like to be a pampered pooch – preferably a rat terrier like my own Trixie. But I’d want to be a dog that could read! Just think – while the masters were away and thought I was snoozing or guarding the house, I’d be reading all their fabulous books!

2. Leave your comment and email address by midnight EST Friday, July 19th. The lucky winner will be drawn at random and announced here on Tuesday, July 23rd.

3. And just for this drawing, in honor of recent followers who are from out of the country (welcome!), I’m allowing international entrants as well! (But if you are an international winner, you must be patient as I’ll send it media mail.)

Thanks for stopping by! Good luck and happy reading!

On The Book Addict’s Guide

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Hi! Just wanted to let you guys know that Brittany over at the awesome blog The Book Addict’s Guide is featuring moi on her Book and a Beverage series. Check it out – here to find out what book I’m reading, what books I’d recommend, and what I’m drinking! It was a joy being interviewed by her! She does a fab job of reviewing books so make sure to add her to your reader!

Happy reading!