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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cat Video and LA Times Festival of the Book

I thought I'd try something a little weird and read my book, NO, NO, KITTEN! to my cat Elvis. To be honest, he was not quite as enthusiastic as I had hoped. Maybe there is a reason cats don't usually read.

However, I persisted. Writing teaches you persistence.

Read it to your cat today!

(Disclaimer: No cats were sent to Jupiter in the making of this video!)

Also, I am going to be at the LA Times Festival of the Book on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. signing books. Macmillan is being very generous and offering a free arc of this book: 

with any purchase of this book:

I am so thrilled and honored to be included in this amazing event. The fabulous Once Upon a Time Bookstore (which is one of the most amazing indy bookstores in all of California, maybe even the world!!) is hosting me at their booth, #732. I will be signing with the amazing Cynthia Kadohata and Julie Berry.

Come by and say hi! The event is COMPLETELY FREE!! 


Monday, April 6, 2015

Alchemy (thoughts on writing lifted directly from my writing journal)

Sometimes I wonder how stories come to me. They don’t come all at once, of that I am certain. I get the scent of a story, or an inkling, but until I begin writing, even if it is only writing like this, then nothing will happen—writing is the alchemy that brings the story into the world. It might exist on the other side, in the ether, but until I put words on the page, I cannot coax it through the passage. I cannot make it manifest into this world without, for lack of a better metaphor, saying the magic words.

And so, I start with an inkling and I tinker away, just like I am doing right now, where I write around the writing until I get something, a moment of bravery, where I will type a few words that might, just might, lead me into a story. I am unsure for a while if they will actually work, uncertain if I have uttered the correct incantation and so I do not commit to them. Yet. Instead, I let them smolder on the page, burn a bit, and see if a story begins to simmer.

Eventually, this inkling begins to grow roots, feet, or something strange altogether, but something the story can stand on none-the-less. And then slowly, like leaves unfurling, the story reveals more of its secrets to me. And the truth is, usually, I don’t even know what I am growing!  Is it a vegetable? A flower? A tree?  They all look the same when they come sprouting out of the ground, but soon, they take their shape.

The hard part is when I think I am growing a flower and it is really a cabbage, a short and stubby thing that does not want to be tall and graceful. It only wants to be a cabbage, and instead of trying to make it into the best cabbage I can, I keep trying to coax it into a lily.

 Never going to happen. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Best St. Patrick's Day Ever

In honor of one of my favorite holidays, St. Patrick's Day, I am pleased to present to you the cover of SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY (July 7, 2015)

Gilbert Ford did the art. He is awesome. I love the colors he chose.

Yay!! Now I don't have to have the fake cover thing anymore!! Or the COVER TO BE REVEALED thing. Yay!!

Here's the description of Secrets of Selkie Bay:

In their present-day tourist trap of an Irish seaside town, famed for its supposed involvement with selkies in the past, three sisters are faced with the sudden disappearance of their mother. Crushed by the loss, their father is struggling to carry on. To make matters worse, there are rumors afloat in the village that their mother herself is a selkie who has now shed her human form and gone back to sea. As Cordie Sullivan, the oldest daughter, tries to learn more about her mother's vanishing, she must find the strength to help her family move ahead, even as she discovers an increasing number of clues that point to a hidden island off the coast--a mythical kingdom of the selkies.

And you can click HERE to read the first review from a librarian.

This story is so close to my heart. Now I'm off to make corned beef hash, which might be the best way to eat corned beef ever.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

One Crazy Week

This week really began before this week began, if that makes any sense. You see, a couple of weeks ago, I went up to Long Beach for the the Southern California Independent Bookseller's Children's Literacy Day to give away free copies of NO, NO, KITTEN!
Boyds Mills gave me stickers and everything!
It was so much fun, giving away copies of my little book to SoCal indies. Then a very cool thing happened. I met Maureen Palacios from Once Upon a Time bookstore in Montrose. She'd brought several of my books from her store for me to sign. Then she told me about how GOOD NIGHT, GOOD KNIGHT was the book that her daughters took to school to read in front of their classes All By Themselves. And she told me how her husband, who was just learning to read in English back then, used to read GNGK with her daughters (who are in college now!!)

Wow. Those are the stories that mean the world to an author. The world.

Maureen and I, after I wiped away the tears.
Then this happened:
Yes. This is my principal acting the role of Kitten in the school production of NO, NO, KITTEN! (Yeah, I know--I didn't have a tabby cat costume. We had to settle for jaguar pajamas.)

Kitten wants a basket. (Not to wear on your head, Kitten!!)

And there's that puppy!!
On Monday, some of the teachers helped me bring No, No, Kitten!   into the world via performance. It was pretty hilarious because really, I had no idea what the kitten and puppy were actually going to do at any given  moment.

And on Tuesday, the Carlsbad Library hosted me for Read Across America.

Thanks, Librarians, for setting up  such a great craft!

The kids made rocket ships, just like Kitten!!
On Wednesday, my friend Mr. Schu premiered the No, No, Kitten! trailer on his blog (which was made by my amazing illustrator, Lori Nichols!!!) on his blog. Here is a link.

And then on Thursday, the Official Launch at Barnes and Noble:
The table is ready! There is a give away for Kitten prints on the left, and free Kit-Kats in the middle, and of course, BOOKS!

My monkey Oreo is telling me that he wrote a book called NO, NO, BANANA!

And then one of my students DID write a book called:
This Banana wants to rule the world!

So this was a pretty awesome week. Very exciting and exhausting. I'll leave you with this:



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Getting Ready to Launch the Baby

This week is going to be busy!

Monday- Assembly at Jefferson Elementary School to kick off Read Across America. My staff will be performing NO, NO, KITTEN!  It goes without saying that high-jinks will ensue.

Tuesday-Celebrate release day with my class by doing fun things.
Favors for my class!

 Read Across America at the Cole Library, 3:30 pm. I will be reading NO, NO, KITTEN! and helping kids find books to check out. There will be snacks and crafts, too!

Wednesday- Catch my breath.

Thursday-Official launch of NO, NO, KITTEN! at 6:00 p.m. There will be crafts and you can eat a Kit-Kat with Kitten! (But not Kit-Kats as cool as these. I mean, I WISH!

By Friday, I hope I am still standing. Seriously. (And next week, there is more!!!)

I can't wait for you to meet Kitten!



Monday, February 16, 2015

A little of this and a little of that

Things have been busy here. Last week, I was a guest on USC Trojan Vision's CU@USC television show. It was really a lot of fun and everyone was wonderful, even though I was battling a really crummy cough.
Me with the producers and crew of CU@USC. Remaya was my interviewer. I was her first interview and she was so cool, calm and collected. She is right on the other side of my books. On my right is AnnaLiesse. She is the head producer. Thanks for having me, guys!
We talked about the Good Knight, Trinket, and No, No, Kitten! (which comes out in only 2 weeks!!) I'll post a link to the interview soon. It's full of embarrassing factoids about yours truly.

I've also been busy reading this book:
Those of you who know me in real life are laughing right now. I can hear you through the screen. Yes, I know, it is probably impossible to make someone who has spent the majority of her life in a state of constant clutter a neat-nick. Probably. But maybe, just maybe...

(Actually, I've gone through my clothes and discarded tons of things and I've had a clean closet for 72 hours now. That, my friends, is an all time record for me!)

And I read this to my class:

 I highly recommend it. Days and DAYS after I read it with them, students were still bombarding me with theories about the ending. I won't spoil it for you, but if you are a teacher and you haven't read this to your class, you must. If you are a student, no matter your age, read it and share it with your classmates.  Then let the debates begin!

I am also writing some things. I got a new idea for a picture book which is always like a special treat. I finished a middle-grade science-fiction novel that I have been working on for quite some time. I need to get some eyes other than mine to read it now. But it is scary because, well, I am a chicken and this is different from other things I have done. But writers must be brave, everyone knows that. 

And, as I already mentioned, this is happening in just a few weeks:
And I happen to know for a fact that a trailer is coming soon, too!  Yay.

And I got to see the cover for SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY (my novel that comes out in July) and all I can tell you is that whatever you are thinking it looks like, you are probably wrong. I was. (But in a good way!) Hopefully I can show it soon.

Take care, my friends. Keep writing 


Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Small Thought on a Sunday Night

On February 2, the American Library Association will announce their Big Prizes (Caldecott, Newbery, Printz, etc).

I have such mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, I love finding out who the winners are and adding them to my TBR list (or cheering if I was fortunate enough to have read them already). It's important and special and all the winners make me feel proud to be part of the world of publishing.

On the other hand, I read a lot of wonderful books this past year. And I know this for certain: No award can change my personal connection with a book. I have loved many books over the years and many of them did not win awards. Not at all.

Awards are wonderful, don't get me wrong.  But the real prize is reading. The real prize is when you fall in love with a book and that book becomes a part of you, changing you forever. So, to the books I have adored this year (and you know who you are), if your day tomorrow ends without a shiny sticker, believe me when I tell you that you are still beautiful, just the way you are.