Friday, May 15, 2015

Introducing.... FIRES OF INVENTION! A holy-frijoles-this-is-amazing book by J. Scott Savage

I am very pleased to be part of the cover reveal and author spotlight for J. Scott Savage and FIRES OF INVENTION. Not only is J. Scott Savage an incredible human being, but this book is incredible. I had the honor of reading an advance copy a week ago, and let me tell you-- kids are going to be clamoring for it! It was so well written and so fun and so full of action and conflict and memorable characters.

And here's the cover!

STEAMPUNK! Plus Dragons!

Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and "invention" is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion-an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they've ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on-and quite possibly their very lives.

Author Note:
Like many of my books, the inspiration for my new series Fires of Invention came from the collision of two ideas. The first time the story occurred to me was while I was watching the musical Wicked with my wife. The moment I walked into the theater and saw the huge mechanical dragon above the stage, I thought, Wow! I have to write a story about that! A few weeks later, I was talking with my nephew, who is probably the most creative kid I know, but whose inventiveness often gets him into trouble, and I thought, What if a kid who had the talents of my nephew lived in a world where creativity was against the law? What if the kids were building . . . a steam-powered dragon? Bam! I had my story.

Powered by great feedback from my agent, Michael Bourret, my good friend and author James Dashner, my publisher, Chris Schoebinger, and the song “Warriors” by Imagine Dragons, I wrote the entire first draft of the first volume in the series, Mysteries of Cove in four weeks. This book is unlike anything I have ever written. There are elements of City of Ember, Dragon Riders, and Hugo in it all mashed up together in a world I fell in love with from the moment I started writing.

I think what’s most exciting to me about this book is that it’s about giving yourself the freedom to imagine. To take chances. Too often we limit ourselves by only trying things we’re confident we can succeed at when what we need to do is give ourselves permission to fail. Often it is when we attempt things with no idea of how we can possibly pull them off that we achieve our greatest successes.

J. Scott Savage is the author of the Farworld middle grade fantasy series and the Case File 13 middle grade monster series. He has been writing and publishing books for over ten years. He has visited over 400 elementary schools, dozens of writers conferences, and taught many writing classes. He has four children and lives with his wife Jennifer and their Border Collie, Pepper, in a windy valley of the Rocky Mountains.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Book trailer reveal for Ilima Todd's REMAKE

My friend and many times, cohort, Ilima Todd has an amazing book out, and I'm thrilled to participate in her trailer reveal today! This trailer is SO well done! I love it!

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About Ilima Todd

Ilima Todd was born and raised on the north shore of Oahu and currently resides in the Rocky Mountains. She never wanted to be a writer even though she loves books and reading. She earned a degree in physics instead. But the characters in her head refused to be ignored, and now she spends her time writing science fiction for teens. When she is not writing, Ilima loves to spend time with her husband and four children.

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Blog

Represented by Katherine Boyle of Veritas Literary.
For publicity, contact Karen Zelnick at Shadow Mountain Publishing.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The story behind Sky Jumpers

I had the wonderful opportunity recently to take part of the event "Speed Dating the Texas Bluebonnet Books" at Texas Library Association's annual conference, where I talked about the inspirations behind Sky Jumpers. I thought I'd share it here, too.

There are three things that inspired almost every aspect of Sky Jumpers— the setting, the genre, and the main character. For this book the thing that came first was definitely the setting.

Six years ago, I was on an airplane, flying home from Disney World with my family on a day when the entire country was covered in clouds. For 3 ½ hours, I stared out the window at the wrong side of the clouds, imagining how it would feel to jump out of the plane and have the clouds catch me. And how amazing and thrilling and peaceful that would feel. I couldn't shake the feeling, so I started imagining what could've happened to our world that would've left behind a layer of air dense enough to catch someone's fall. And then, instead of looking like clouds, I imagined what would kind of conflicts would happen if it were both deadly and invisible. And the Bomb's Breath was born. Over the next 9 months, I spent a lot of time developing the setting and world building, creating characters, and coming up with the plot. Once I started hearing my main character's voice when I thought through the plot, I started writing.

I wanted Sky Jumpers to take place in an area that was wide open and empty, to mirror the population after the bombs hit. So I chose Nebraska. But I also needed mountains by the town, so that the people who lived there could be near both the protection and danger that the Bomb's Breath provided. So I thought about what was most unexpected and ironic- that the people would live inside the crater made by the thing that wiped out most of the earth's population. I live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, in a safe, protected, happy valley. So, to me, being nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains means safety and protection. I wanted that same safety for Hope’s town, and then for that safety to be threatened.

When I was a kid, I saw my first post-apocalyptic movie, and I was sold on the genre. I love the concept that since there are so few people left in the world, that very NORMAL people have to be the ones to step up to heights greater than they’ve ever had to before. Very normal people have to become the heroes.

Although I wanted Sky Jumpers to be post-apocalyptic, I didn’t want it to be dystopic. I think dystopic environments are so appealing to teens (and to me!), but I think things are a little different for middle grade readers. They have their whole lives ahead of them– the whole world ahead of them– and they want to know that the world is going to be one worth living in, and that they're going to flourish there. I love introducing kids who might not have experienced post-apocalyptic stories to a world that has a lot of hope, and to know that they can make a difference in whatever world they’ll grow up in.

Hope’s personality is all her own, but the concept of her came from my daughter. When she was in first grade, she really struggled with reading, and everyone freaked out. (Which, for the record, was AWESOME. Because then she got the help she needed early on, and is a great reader now.) At six, she could hold her own when bantering with even adults. At six, she started playing football (very well, I might add), and had no problem at all being the only girl in a league of only boy football players. At six, she could do mental math faster than anyone else in her class. But at six, she couldn’t do the one thing that mattered most—she couldn’t read well. And none of the other amazing things about her mattered, because reading mattered more than anything. The concept kind of fascinated me, and I knew I wanted to make a character who couldn’t do the one thing that mattered most in her town.

Sky Jumpers takes place in the town of White Rock, forty years after the green bombs of WWIII wiped out most of the population and virtually all technology. They've had enough time to build things, so they're past the point of fighting to survive, and have moved on to looking toward the future in an effort to regain some of what was lost. Hope, grew up with the way things are being "normal," because that's how they always were for her. But there are people in her town who were alive before the bombs, and know what it was like to live with all the technology we have now (and more). So, unlike the first time when technology advanced, people actually knew what was possible, and wanted to try to find a way to get to that same point again. Inventing is extremely important to that plan. And my main character, Hope, can't do it.

Hope has a lot of strengths— leading others, knowing when to take risks, and being loyal. But her, along with her town, don’t seem to notice those strengths, sometimes, when you're bad at the thing that matters most, your strengths can get overlooked.

I think that’s a very universal thing. Sometimes we worry so much about our weaknesses, and how prominent they are, and it keeps us from seeing the truly remarkable things about ourselves. And everyone has truly remarkable strengths. Not only do they make us unique, but they're what give us the power to change the world.

I talk about this a lot in my school visits. And I hope that when kids read Sky Jumpers, that they realize that they have some pretty great strengths, too, and that those strengths will help them to really change the world.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How I Became a Writer

I recently went to Texas Library Association's annual conference in Austin Texas. While I was there, I had a chance to tell a group of amazing librarians my "How I Became a Writer" story. I thought I'd share here.

I was not one of those people who knew from the time they were able to hold a pencil that they wanted to be an author. Early in our marriage, my husband always said to me “You should write a book.” And I would give him the most baffled, confused look. One I'm sure was pretty close to the look I would've given him if he'd have said, “You should be Batman.” or “You should be a unicorn.” 

It wasn’t until my baby started Kindergarten that I knew. I was making dinner one night when a hilarious story popped into my head about the teenage versions of two of my friends. So I wrote the story, which ended up being about 100 pages, and gave it to both of them as a gift. That’s when I realized how incredible it is to create characters— an entire world, even— using nothing more than thoughts in my head. And then to be able to actually share that world with someone else. It’s an amazingly powerful thing.

The story was called PIVOTAL, and ironically enough, writing that story became a rather pivotal moment in my life.

I had been reading middle grade books to my kids at bedtime for several years. When I read PIVOTAL to them, that’s when I KNEW I wanted to be an author. I wanted to write books for kids— books that parents could read out loud to their kids at bedtime.

From that moment, I didn’t wade into the writing world. I jumped off into the deep end. When I decided that was what I wanted to do, I started reading everything about writing I could find online and in books. I started researching writers conferences. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.

Yet I knew that writing and writing and writing wasn’t going to be enough. Unless I was learning enough that I was improving my craft with all that writing, writing itself wasn't going to move me further along. I knew that the amount I needed to learn was unfathomly vast, and that I needed to find a way to learn it.

Not long after, a friend of mine handed me the book MISTBORN by Brandon Sanderson. When I finished, I was, of course, blown away. (As most people are when they read MISTBORN.) I read the bio, and saw that he taught creative writing at BYU. I was not a student at BYU, and they weren’t the type of University who would accept my application to take just one class. Taking a class from him was downright impossible. Yet I looked ahead at the road I wanted to be on. I knew that everyone had a different way of getting on that road just as surely as I knew that taking this path was the exact way for me to get on that road.

And I wasn’t about to let a little thing like an impossibility trip me up. So, with my heart in my hand, I went to one of Brandon Sanderson’s signings (before the first Wheel of Time book came out, so his lines weren’t hours long yet), and chatted with him about writing until he invited me to audit his class. (You can imagine what an emotional moment this was. I’m not too proud to admit that the second I stepped out of the building, I cried.)

Going to his class was a pretty incredible thing. In a few months, I learned what would’ve taken me years to learn outside of his class. He also put us together into writing groups, and that’s where I met the people who I would spend the next four years meeting with weekly, getting feedback on my writing. He also introduced me to a lot of great writers conferences, where not only did I learn greatly about writing, but where I met an entire writing community. I am very indebted to Brandon. It was a pretty sweet thing when, after I got my book deal, he invited me back to his creative writing class to talk about my publication story.

I continued to squeeze in writing and learning about writing into every free moment I had. It was within that first year after Brandon’s class that I got the initial idea for Sky Jumpers. I let it percolate for nine months while I was working on other projects. I knew from the start that the idea was solid, and if I worked hard enough at my craft and at this book— if I was persistent and didn’t give up until I knew it was as good as possible— that it had a real chance.

And I wanted it to have that chance. I sent it chapter by chapter through my writing group. Then I had dozens of beta readers give me feedback. I used to work at an elementary school with fourth graders who struggle with literacy and math. One of the teachers I worked with read the book to her class, and I got to be at the back of the room working one on one with kids while she was reading it. Recess was right after read aloud, and I got to see at what points she would close the book and they’d run out to recess, and at what points she’d close the book, and they would beg to stay in from recess if she would read more. Not only hearing my book in someone else’s voice, but hearing on the playground what they talked about and what they played was invaluable.

Sky Jumpers was on its eleventh draft when I decided it was finally ready for me to query agents. I had spent 5 months working on my query letter. I know! It’s a long time to work on something that’s only ½ page long. But it paid off— I got my first request for my manuscript nine minutes into querying, and that agent offered representation. I signed with a different agent who also offered, and shortly after, Random House bought it in a pre-empt eight days after it had gone on submission.

As a kid, I grew up in a place with untamed places to explore, lots of siblings, parents who let us be daring, and a brother on each side of me who were both daredevils and brilliant. (I don’t know if you’ve experienced the combo of daring and brilliant and boy, but basically it means that we got into so really dangerous situations. It also meant they were able to get us out of most of those situations accident free. ;)) Put all those things together, and I was basically living one gigantic action / adventure. I know that’s why I’m drawn to writing action / adventure books— it’s so easy to tap into the thrilling experiences I had as a child.

And I definitely feel like my elementary school years were the most memorable. And the most exciting. And the most enjoyable. And the most magical. That’s probably why I will never tire of writing for kids who are those same ages.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Writers and Jobs

Ever wondered what kind of an effect writing skills have on your (future or present) job(s)? Check out this post by Grammarly. Leave a comment, and on February 17 I'll let choose one commenter to win a free account (where it checks your grammar-- the things your word processor misses. So awesome!), courtesy the awesome folks at Grammarly.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Reveal of some amazing covers for Elana Johnson's ELEMENTAL series

Are you ready to see some amazing stare-at-all-day book covers? They come attached to some equally amazing books. I LOVED this series! It's one of those that keeps you thinking about it (and wishing you lived in a world with this magic system) for weeks afterward! I highly recommend reading.

And here they are! Check them out in all their beautiful glory. (Click to embiggen. They make huge look incredible.)

About ELEMENTAL RUSH: Eighteen-year-old Adam Gillman has trained for twelve years to earn a coveted spot on the Supreme Elemental’s elite sentry squad. His brother, Felix, is the commander, but Adam is still thrilled when his official assignment to serve Alexander Pederson comes.

He moves into nicer quarters and can stop getting up at four a.m. to complete his mandated work out time. He still rises early though, because he needs the solitude of early morning to practice his airmaking Element—something that Adam has kept secret from everyone, even Felix, because he can’t be both an Airmaker and a sentry.

When Alex assigns him to kill a group of rogue Elementals, he balks at completing his mission for the first time. See, his only friend is Isaiah Hawking, and he’s the Earthmover on the accused Council. When faced with the prospect of killing him, Adam finds he can’t do it.

He’s well trained in assassination, but he thought he’d be murdering bad guys—not innocents.

When Alex buries the Elemental Academy—and kills over one thousand Elementals—in a fit of rage, Adam’s loyalty cracks. When he discovers that Alex is really a woman, and his brother’s lover, he defects. He hops from city to city, from Elemental school to Elemental school, always escaping only minutes before Felix can embed a knife in his heart or a tsunami can make a classroom his watery grave.

He tries to fight back, but he’s just one Airmaster with exceptional tracking skills. He does his best to warn those in danger, but as the last Elemental school goes up in flames, he knows he needs to get some real firepower on his side.
ELEMENTAL RUSH is a prequel novella to the full-length futuristic fantasy novel, ELEMENTAL HUNGER.

To purchase:

About ELEMENTAL HUNGER: The second installment in the Elemental series, a new futuristic fantasy for young adults and new adults from acclaimed author Elana Johnson, ELEMENTAL HUNGER is a full-length novel that continues the story that began in ELEMENTAL RUSH, an Elemental novella.

Sixteen-year-old Gabriella Kilpatrick can shoot fire from her hands, which would be great if she didn’t get blamed for a blazing inferno that kills 17 schoolmates. When Gabby is commanded to Manifest her Element, everyone knows what she is: a genetic abnormality. Not to mention guilty.

So she does two logical things to survive.
1. She runs.
2. She hacks off her hair to assume a new role—that of “Gabe”, because in her world, only boys are Firemakers.

Not only does she have to act like a guy, she has to pretend to know everything a Firemaker should know. When Gabby meets Airmaster Adam Gillman, he believes her act and pledges to serve on “Gabe’s” Council. But Adam has the mark of a sentry and spent years obeying Alex, the Supreme Elemental. And Alex wants Gabby-the-genetic-freak dead and gone before she can gather the magical protection of a full Council.

With Adam’s lies that sound like truths and rumors that Alex isn’t really a Firemaker—or a man—Gabby sets out to charter a Council of her own. In order to uncover the truth, Gabby will have to learn who she can trust, how to control her own power, and most of all, how to lead a Council of Elementals, most of whom have more control over their power than she does. If she can’t, she’ll find herself just like those 17 schoolmates: burned and six feet under.

To purchase:

About ELEMENTAL RELEASE: Two months after returning to the capital city of Tarpulin with a Council of his own, Airmaster Adam Gillman is ready to start repairing the relationships in his life. Up first: his Councilman and the girl he’d like to be more than friends with, Gabriella Kilpatrick.

But first, he has to figure out how to be the Airmaster his Firemaker needs. In order to do that, Adam attends Elemental training and discovers that to truly command the air, he must first be in control of his emotions. And in order to master those, he has to grieve for the loss of Hanai, make amends with his brother, and earn the trust of Gabby.

Amidst all that, Adam must also learn how to grapple with the jet stream, because a dangerous Airmaster is loose in Tarpulin. And Adam will need to find his emotional center in order to work with the atmosphere and defeat the threat.

To purchase:

About Elana Johnson: Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon and Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download, as well as a Possession short story, Resist.

Her self-published novels include two YA contemporary novels-in-verse, Elevated and Something About Love, as well as a YA/NA futuristic fantasy series, which includes Elemental Rush, Elemental Hunger, and Elemental Release.

School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or Twitter. She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog and WriteOnCon, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Find Elana online:

Enter to win $10 for helping to spread the word about the new ELEMENTAL series covers! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Weaving A Magic System: A guest post by WOVEN authors David Powers King and Michael Jensen

I have known David Powers King (DPK in my book) for quite a while now, and got to hear lots about the book he co-authored with Michael Jensen long before it found a home sweet home at Scholastic. So I was thrilled to be able to read it early! It had an incredible, unique, fascinating magic system. I asked DPK and Michael if they would tell us a little about what goes in to creating a magic system. Take it away, Michael and DPK!

Questions To Ask Before Weaving A Magic System

When writing fantasy, including a magic system is usually (but not always) expected. There is no set method for creating a magic system, and plenty of useful guides online. Should you decide to include magic in your story, there are a few things worth considering. We’ll tell the questions we asked and show you how our magic system evolved from the early stages of writing our novel.

1) What is the story about?

When creating Woven, we knew our story was about a princess and a ghost in search of a needle that can bring the ghost back to life. For this supposed needle to have this kind of power, it needs magic—what kind? After exploring sewing and weaving, we decided to base our magic on them.

2) How is this magic manifested, and what does it do?

Since sewing and weaving led to some wonderful parallels and plenty of room for symbolism, we looked into every aspect of the trade. This included visiting fabric stores and interviewing tailors. Then we created a list of all the tools used and gave each one a special, alternative use, the consequences for using them, how it looks, and how it makes the magical user feel.

Take notes and write a Magic Bible. We call ours The Woven Book.

3) Should we have rules and laws for using this magic?

We certainly wanted consequences, good or bad, for using magic. This required us to think of limitations, exceptions, and alternatives. When you add these to your magic bible and apply it to the story, the magic becomes real and less chaotic.

4) How does this magic impact the world, and who can use it?

If magic is widely known, everything from bath water to politics will be affected. If not so common, it can be a trade secret or something to be feared by people, rationally or not. We went in the middle by creating a system that was widely known, but few practice it. That way the idea of magic existing isn’t foreign to people, yet still not something seen every day.

5) When should we explain how the magic works?

There’s no need to bog readers down with explanations up front. It’s far more interesting to show a little magic and let the reader wonder how things work first. It’s not until a third of the way into Woven before an explanation is given. Even then, we hardly reveal much. Some of the elements didn’t make the cut, but we plan to use them in other books.

Many of the most beloved fantasy novels have a well thought-out magic system. Go ahead and take your time developing it so your magic can hold its ground among the giants. Good luck!

WOVEN by Michael Jensen and David Powers King, published by Scholastic

Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.
IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Books A Million | Rakuten | iTunes

For an extra bit of awesome, they are giving away 5 SIGNED COPIES OF WOVEN! How awesome is that? Go forth and enter:

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About the Authors:

Photo credit: Michael Schoenfeld
Michael Jensen is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s prestigious music, dance, and theater program. Michael taught voice at BYU before establishing his own vocal instruction studio. In addition to being an imaginative storyteller, Michael is an accomplished composer and vocalist. He lives in Salt Lake City with his husband and their four dogs.

Photo credit: Katie Pyne Rasmussen
David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to become a writer. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He now lives in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Upcoming Events, Conferences, and other cool things

I'm really excited for my schedule the first half of this year, because it's packed full of so many fantastic conferences! If you're in the area, I'd love to see you at any of these. Have any questions about any of them? Just leave them in the comments.

First up, Salt Lake Comic Con FanX! Not everyone knows this, but Comic Con is like it's own writer's conference. There are so many writing panels! Plus: people in costume. If there's any part of you that's even a little Geek, your people are here. And you should be with your people. I will be there THIS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY:

●11:00 How to Get Past Writer's Block in Ballroom C
●1:00 How to Write Middle Grade / Young Adult to Specific Audiences in 150G
3:00-4:00 pm Book Signing (Shadow Mountain Booth) 

●12:00 - 1:00 pm Book Signing (Shadow Mountain Booth) 
●6:30 Plotting: The Bare Bones of Fiction Writing in 151G

Life, the Universe, and Everything (LTUE) will always hold a special place in my heart. It's a HUGE event. (Seriously-- something like 1300 people come every year.) There are about a million authors there, on about a million panels. There is so much writing info to soak up, and so many writers to chat with. And it's so inexpensive! Three days, filled to the brim, and it's only $55. And for students, it's F-R-E-E. Can't get much better than that.

The symposium is February 12-14 at the Marriott Hotel and Convention Center in Provo, Utah. More info at LTUE's website here.

I will be there on Friday and Saturday, and I'm on the following panels:

● Friday at 3:00pm Queries: When and How
● Saturday at 9:00am Common Grammatical Errors
● Saturday at 3:00pm Your Writer’s Group

Sidenote: In order to keep it free for students, LTUE would love donations! If you're in a position to help, Here's LTUE's Donation Page. And I think you're awesome.

I am so honored that Sky Jumpers is on the Beehive List this year. The incredible folks at the Children's Literature Association of Utah are the ones responsible for the Beehive List. They have teamed up with the Orem Public Library for a special Sky Jumpers family event. I will be speaking for a few minutes, then there will be tons of games and activities that are all Sky Jumpers -themed. It's going to be so much fun!

It all happens on Monday, February 23rd at 7:00pm at the Orem Library in Orem, Utah. Get more info at the Orem Library's Website.

Writing for Charity is an amazing one day event, where nationally published authors teach and critique. Some very amazing agents are coming, too! It's a great place to learn more about writing craft and have your work critiqued by experts.

I will be on a couple of panels (TBA), and I will be doing critiques.

It all happens at the historic Provo City Library in Provo, Utah on Saturday, March 21. You can find out more at the Writing for Charity website.

If you are a teen writer, Teen Author Boot Camp (TABC) is the place to be! Not only do you get to hang out with 500 teens who are passionate about the same things you're passionate about, but amazing authors come. Brandon Sanderson and Jessica Day George are the keynote speakers this year, and there are an impressive lineup of author Drill Sergeants.

Saturday, April 11th at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. I will be on two panels:

10:20 am Writing Habits
2:35 pm Out of this World

Get more information at the Teen Author Boot Camp website.

I am so thrilled / honored / crazy excited to be at the Texas Library Association's annual conference in Austin, TX on April 14-17! It's a massive conference filled with some of my favorite people-- librarians! Sky Jumpers is on the Bluebonnet list, so I'll be taking part in the event "Speed Dating the Texas Bluebonnet Books" from 4:00-6:00 on April 14th. I'll be signing books at the event, as well as participating in a lot of really fun activities / social events / bookish things. If you ever get a chance to go to an event like this, take it!

Cavalcade of Authors West is in it's debut year, and they are set to make a splash! They are a young writer's workshop in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. I, along with 14 other authors from around the country, will be teaching workshops and panels, doing signings, and visiting schools.

The conference is on Saturday, May 2.

If you're in the Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) area in Tacoma, Washington, check it out! It's an astoundingly inexpensive $15 for registration. Find out more at the Cavalcade of Authors West website.

Storymakers is probably my very favorite conference to attend, because the level of instruction there is unbeatable. The conference is Friday and Saturday, May 15-16 at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah. There's also a Thursday Boot Camp or Publication Primer, both of which provide fantastic feedback. My schedule:

●  Thursday,  I'll be a Boot Camp instructor
●  Friday at 10:00 am Panel: What to Expect From Publication Pros
●  Friday at 4:40 pm Class: When Your Mojo Is Lost and You Can’t Seem to Find It
●  Saturday at 9:30 am Panel: The Perfect Publishing Path
●  Saturday at 10:30 am Class: Unraveling the Query Process
●  Saturday at 4:15 Book Signing

Get more info at the LDStorymakers website.

I don't have any details yet, but I will be teaching an afternoon class at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference. This is a very immersive week-long conference (June 15-19) that I got so much out of as an attendee when I first started writing. I'm excited to be going back!

Are any of these conferences on your To Go To list? If not, do you have other conferences you like to go to? I want to hear about them!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Middle Shelf Magazine Love

Are you a fan of middle grade books? If you're not already receiving the digital Middle Shelf Magazine, go subscribe for free! It is so chock-full of middle grade goodness!

I've been enjoying the magazine for months. I was thrilled when I got word that one of their kid reviewers had chosen The Forbidden Flats as the book he'd review. Reviews from kids are the best! I love them all to pieces. Check it out:

Or, to see the whole issue, you can go right to Middle Shelf Magazine.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My year in books

Want to know one thing I loved to pieces about 2014? THE BOOKS. Don't you wish you could have a read-a-thon like you did in elementary school, and hang out in pajamas and bring snacks and read all day long? For like a month straight? THERE ARE JUST SO MANY GOOD BOOKS OUT THERE AND SO LITTLE TIME!

There's nothing quite the same as changing a book's status from Want-To-Read to Read, is there? I kind of loved switching those statuses for all of these.

Picture Books

I don't read picture books to my kids any more, so there aren't so many on my Read list. A picture book has to REALLY grab my attention for me to search it out. And I loved these!


Middle Grade Books

Ahh. MG books. Where my heart lies.


YA Books

As you can tell, I'm a huge fan of YA.


Non-Fiction Books

There's something about the beginning of summer that makes me crave non-fiction. Not for long amounts of time, but that craving always hits.


How was your reading year? Did we read any of the same books? Did any books that you read really stick with you? I'm always looking for awesome books to read! What's on your To-Read list that you're dying to get to?