Monday, March 28, 2011


A wicked fit of cover envy made me pick up FALLING IN, by Frances O'Roark Dowell, on Saturday. Not that I have a story that needs this particular cover but I hope that someday . . . you know?

Falling In

I hope you see this scrumptious thing in real life. I've never known glitter to be so subtle.

But enough about the outside, the jacket flap led me to think this book would be a frothy fairy-tale retelling, kind of like THE SISTERS GRIMM, not that it made that comparison. I did. I'm quite enjoying that series, so I looked forward to reading this one. But then the librarian raved about the author and her other books in a way that made me wonder if I'd jumped to the wrong conclusion.

I had. It wasn't what I'd expected, and there's a narrator that jumps in every now and then that I couldn't decide if I liked or not. By a third of the way in, I'd shed my preconceived notions and decided I liked the narrator. I already knew I liked the main character. I'm not sure how much I should say because I suspect the publisher actually set up readers to believe the story would be something it wasn't so that readers would make the same discoveries as the main character. With that in mind, there are a few things that should be said:

 1.   The last half of the book makes sense of the first half.
 2.   There's a part near the end that brought tears to my eyes (more happy than sad).
 3.   This is more a girl book than a boy book, though I'm sure there are boys out there that would enjoy it.

I loved the story, and I'll be looking for more books by this author. From what I gathered, this is her tenth. I like her writing style, her wisdom, her sense of humor, and the way she pulled her story pieces together.

Have any of you read FALLING IN, or any other books, by Frances O'Roarke Dowell? Which one should I read next?

If you'd like to read about more Marvelous Middle Grades, the following people would love to oblige you: 

Shannon Whitney Messenger (our founding mother)

Have a Marvelous Monday!      

Friday, March 25, 2011

Contest Winner

Janet Johnson, you've won a pre-order for LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, by the fabulous Stephanie Perkins. If you'll send me an e-mail with your address, I'll order it for you right away. Then you only have to wait until September 29th for it to arrive ;)

Thanks to everyone who entered, especially those who read my long post. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Kind of Mother-Daughter Collaboration

Some of you already know that my daughter finished her first draft of her first novel on January 5th, 72 written pages. She's been typing a second draft. We decided we'd read for each other when she finishes (my current story ought to be coherent by then).

Only, I've been cheating, reading bits from the notebook, opening her files on the computer. She doesn't mind as long as I'm not looking over her shoulder while she's actually working, something else we have in common. I don't want to make suggestions yet because I can see she's still working out her story. I want it to be her story, her style. She writes at a college level, and she managed to swing extra credit for it in two of her classes: English and Computers (typing).

And then, about a week ago, she brought me this picture with a casual, "So, do you like it?"

I didn't know she'd been reading mine.

So, now I have this visual of a scene from my work-in-progress. I love that this moment in the story moved her to create because I want readers to FEEL SOMETHING at this point, and I love that her style her reminds me of Ancient Greece. This drawing makes me happy.

I will post a winner for my contest sometime this weekend, but I'm not writing out all those little papers (after midnight) tonight. Thanks for your patience.

Monday, March 21, 2011


After having to pry various books in THE ADVENTURES OF DANIEL BOOM AKA LOUD BOY series, by D. J. Steinberg, from my semi-reluctant reader's hands every day for the last week, I decided I'd better see what the fuss was about. 


These graphic novels will appeal to fans of CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. I liked them better than CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (though I have to admire Dav Pilkey for sheer nerve) because they don't rely on potty humor and the kids get to be the super heroes*. Though in Pilkey's books, the boys control the super hero, taking the super hero fantasy to another level.

In DANIEL BOOM, the freak five (Loud Boy, Chatterbox, Destructo-Kid, Tantrum Girl, and Fidget) use their amplified behavioral problems to fight Old Fogey, Thadeus Q. Doctor, and the rest of Kid-Rid. I think I'll leave the hows and whys to those who might read the stories; I don't like spoilers, and these books are short. I read the first one in about fifteen minutes. If you're looking for a humorous book that will appeal to most boys and girls, these are great. Has anyone else read them?     

If you'd like to read about more Marvelous Middle Grades, the following people would love to oblige you: 

Shannon Whitney Messenger (our founding mother)

Have a Marvelous Monday! 

*In reading over my post, I realized readers could interpret what I said about CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS in a way that I didn't intend. There's a lot more than potty humor in there, and I meant what I said about admiring Dav Pilkey. He's brilliant. His books made me laugh myself silly, especially the first one, but I wouldn't recommend reading them when you have morning sickness**.
**No, I am not pregnant. I read them a little over four years ago. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Choose Your Own Pre-Order Giveaway

Last week, by wild coincidence, the first three writers whose blogs I read regularly revealed covers of books they have coming out later this fall. If you've been reading my blog since the beginning, you already know who the three writers are, but most of you are more recent than that.

My introduction to the world of blogging writers began with Shannon Hale. When I finished THE GOOSE GIRL, I found her website listed at the back of the book. I'd just come home from a writer's conference where I kept hearing her name, partly because one of the agents at the conference represented her, mostly because people LIKED her. You could tell by the way their eyes lit up whenever someone mentioned her name. It made me curious. I found her blog on her website and not only started reading it faithfully, I read her older posts as well. I loved her sense of humor, her honesty, and the writing information I picked up.

Shannon's FOREST BORN finally has an Allison Jay cover to match the rest of the original hardback covers in the Bayern series, and it's gorgeous. Click here to read more about it. I already own a signed/personalized copy of this one, and I'm tempted to buy this for the cover. I've read it twice. Like all of her books, it's gush-worthy.


On one of Shannon's posts, she introduced us to a debut author named Laini Taylor and Laini's Not For Robots website. I read Not For Robots (which I've already recommended on here) and started reading her blog. I fell in love with Laini's blog before I read any of her books, but then I fell in love with her books. They're the sort of stories that sneak into your dreams, filling them with colorful adventures and, in my case, talking crows.

Laini revealed two covers for the same book, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. I haven't read this one, but I will. Click here to find out more. 

Laini linked to Stephanie Perkins, and I had the same reaction to her blog. The main difference with Steph was that she didn't have any books for me to read, not even an agent; she wasn't any farther along the writer's path than I am now, but again: humor, honesty, and invaluable writing information. Her debut novel, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, didn't disappoint.

Steph's LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR looks like it will be every bit as much fun as her first. I love the purple wig and that the boy is named Cricket. Click here to read more about this one.

So, you choose which one you'd like a pre-order for. I'll choose a random winner and pay for their choice, and then the lucky one will have to wait for the book to be released. To enter: tell me which book you'd like to win. You don't have to be a follower. If you spread the word (FB, Twitter, Blogger) about my contest, I'll give you an extra entry for each link you leave in my comments. This contest is open internationally, and you have until March 23rd to enter.

Monday, March 14, 2011


For today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, I'm recommending an older fairy tale. Originally published in 1980, THE ORDINARY PRINCESS, by M. M. Kaye is a delightfully illustrated little fairy tale, not unlike more recent ones by authors like Gail Carson Levine, excepting that Kaye's story isn't a retelling (though Sleeping Beauty might have been her great-great-great-great grandmother).

The Ordinary Princess

"Hmm!" said the Fairy Crustacea. "Wit, Charm, Courage, Health, Wisdom, Grace . . . Good gracious, poor child! Well, thank goodness my magic is stronger than anyone else's."

She raised her twisty coral stick and waved it three times over the cradle of the seventh princess. "My child," said the Fairy Crustacea, "I am going to give you something that will probably bring you more happiness than all these fal-lals and fripperies put together. You shall be Ordinary!"

I've no idea how many times my daughter and I have gone on Princess Amy's adventures with her, but the repeated readings have cost our poor little paperback half its cover. When Amy finds out that her parents (desperate to find a suitable husband for her) intend to hire a dragon to ravage the countryside and lock her in a tower, she runs away. I love that she works as a kitchen maid to support herself. Okay, and I love the boy. If you read the story, you'll have to tell me what you thought of him. Have any of you read this one?

If you'd like to read about more Marvelous Middle Grades, the following people would love to oblige you: 

Shannon Whitney Messenger (our founding mother)

Have a Marvelous Monday! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beth's Amazing Giveaway

Beth Revis is giving away signed copies of the five books from the Breathless Reads Tour. To check it out, you could click on the books below.

Or you could just let me win.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I found a high fantasy series, by Holly Lisle, to share for this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday that has the world building of an adult fantasy without the redundancy. In fact, there are multiple worlds within the world. I loved the result.

The Ruby Key (Moon and Sun)

In the first book, THE RUBY KEY, Yarri, the Nightling slave (with the dandelion fluff hair), walks Genna and Dan through a dangerous bargain with her Nightling lord and then endangers everyone she knows to help them.

I borrowed this blurb from Goodreads because I like the poem:

Mankind is Sunkind 
And rules by the light; 
Nightlings are Moonkind, 
And rule in the night; 
Or there will be war. 
Human and Nightlings are never to meet, but when Genna and her brother Dan venture into the old forest at night, they encounter a Nightling slave who reveals a terrifying secret: Genna and Dan's village chieftain has made a dangerous deal with Letrin, ruler of the Nightlings, offering the lives of his people in exchange for his own immortality. 
To save the villagers and themselves, Genna and Dan strike their own bargain with the Nightling lord, but the stakes are even higher. Now, the siblings must embark upon a journey along the Moonroads, and bring back the key to Letrin's downfall. 
Written in haunting, lyrical prose, Holly Lisle transports readers to the twilit realms of the Night Worlds. 

The Silver Door (Moon & Sun)

I picked up this series because of the cover on the second book, and THE SILVER DOOR didn't disappoint. The sentient city and airships would be just as at home in a dystopian as they are in this fantasy. Oh, and there's a mad dragon. If you've been following my blog for very long, you already know I have a thing for dragons. I don't want to give away anything from the first book, but since the cover tells you that Genna and Dan survive, I can say a bit about them. By now, the Nightlings believe Genna is their long awaited Sunrider, Unfortunately, the sentient city hates Nightlings (and dragons) and wants to keep Genna and Dan for reasons of its own. In this book, they have to choose between friends. As a writer, it's interesting to see their character arcs in the books vs. what I'm seeing for their character arcs for the series.

I'm not sure how many books Holly Lisle plans to write for this series, but I plan on finishing it. If you like high fantasy, I think you'll like it.

If you'd like to read about more Marvelous Middle Grades, Shannon Whitney Messenger, our founding mother, has the links.

Actually, Shannon doesn't have the links. She's also one of the founding mothers of WriteOnCon, and she's promoting that today. This year's conference will be August 16-18, and the link is still worth clicking for conference and contest information. However, I'll have to provide you with MMGM links:

Joanne Fritz at My Brain on Books
Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Brooke Favero at somewhere in the middle
Ben Langhinrichs at My Comfy Chair
Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now

Have a Marvelous Monday! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Writing Goals

I need goals to make progress (whether I meet the goal or not), and I like reading other writers' goals, so this is one of those posts. My big goal, at the moment, is to finish my current draft by the end of April.

In January, my goals were to critique a manuscript for a friend and to add 12,000 more words to my first draft. I finished the critique but fell short at 11,000 words. In February, I just wanted to add another 12,000 words. I wrote . . .


. . .  wait for it . . .



 . . .  11,000 words. 

This month, I'd like to write down at least one of the picture book ideas that came to me last month and make up my deficit by adding 15,000 words. But if I only write 11,000 words, I'll probably still finish up this rough draft by the end of April. I may finish it this month. It feels like I'm so close to the end, but there are still a few major events to write, and I think I'll scrap most of my beginning. 

That got me thinking: when I scrap my beginning and start writing through the story again, it would really be my second draft. The story will have a beginning, a middle, and an end by that point, even if I wouldn't hand it to someone else.

And I realized I have a NaNoWriMo novel with a beginning, a middle, and an end from November of 2009 that I haven't even read through. I hadn't been thinking of it as a finished draft because the word count was under 30,000. I left holes in it where I wanted to look things up (NaNoWriMo isn't a great time to research). But I also left holes in the first novel* that I wrote. Hmmm. I think I'm going to call it a finished first draft and make sure I read through it (revise and fill holes) at some point this year.  

So, when I finish my current draft, I'll have three rather longish stories to revise. *scratches head* At least I don't get writer's block, right?

*I've gone through five drafts on Star Swans (my first), but it's still not ready to query.