Monday, October 20, 2008

Some Hannah And Brandon News

I just received word from the home office that the November issue of School Library Journal carries a review of A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers.

And what does the reviewer say? Among other good things, "Filled with comic moments and realistic escapades, this short chapter book is laugh-out-loud funny."


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cybils Easy Readers

Nominations closed for the Cybils last week. A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers is one of the nominees in the new Easy Reader category. Anastasia Suen provided a list of all the Easy Reader Nominees as of last Tuesday.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Three Robbers Nominated For A Cybil!

I was getting ready to send an e-mail to a bunch of relatives to try to hit someone up to nominate A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers for a Cybil. But someone already nominated it! And on the first day! And I didn't have to ask her to do it!

Seriously, all I needed was the nomination to make me happy. I'm very low maintenance.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

A Print Review For Three Robbers

The September/October issue of The Horn Book Magazine includes a favorable review of A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers. The reviewer describes it as "a story that is at times silly and outrageous but that never goes over the top."

In this context, silly and outrageous are good. We were pleased.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Trust Her On This

I don't know how I missed this, but last month Becky at Young Readers gave A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers a terrific review. Note that the Young Readers blog deals specifically with "board books, bath books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books." Or, as the title suggests, books for Young Readers.


Friday, August 01, 2008

You Can Read About Me All Over Again

This month's Carnival of Children's Literature is up at Read. Imagine. Talk. Among the offerings you'll find there is Jen Robinson's interview with me for my Three Robbers Blog Tour. So you can read it all over again!

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Three Robbers Blog Tour--Conclusion

Well, I'm exhausted. I never thought I'd live to see the day that I'd grow tired of talking about myself, but I am, indeed, weary. I'm sure I'll get over it, though.

I am very grateful to all my blog hosts. Two of them fit their hosting duties in before leaving on vacation. Two worked me around the ALA convention. Two had trouble getting e-mails to me. Two volunteered to host without being asked. One dear blogger contacted me when I was trying to contact a host on a listserv (because of that e-mail problem) to offer to fill in if needed. Seriously, everyone was wonderful. I'm not just saying that to be a polite guest.

If you missed any of the interviews and won't be able to sleep at night until you've read them all, here is a round-up of links:

Books Together
Sam Riddleburger
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Jen Robinson's Book Page
Big A, little a
The Miss Rumphius Effect
A Fuse #8 Production

Tomorrow is another day. I'll be on to new things.

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Three Robbers Celebration--4th Of July Weekend Book Giveaway

Here it is, folks, your last chance to win a copy of A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers as part of Putnam's 4th of July Book Giveaway. The first person to e-mail me with their mailing address, saying that they saw this message on Original Content, will receive an autographed copy of the book, which was just published this past Thursday.

Remember, you can't win, if you don't e-mail me.

UPDATE: This copy of the book was won within 5 to 10 minutes of my posting the offer. A response like that is incredibly gratifying.

I do book giveaways here from time to time, so keep coming back.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Three Robbers Celebration--4th Of July Weekend Book Giveaway

The Putnam Three Robbers giveaway has already been won for today. Tomorrow you'll have one more chance. Check back here at Original Content to find out how to win.


Three Robbers Blog Tour--Day Seven

The seventh and final stop on my blog tour for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers is A Fuse #8 Production. Betsy and I talk about why chapter books don't get more attention than they do and why some of the attention they do receive involves parental complaints.

Betsy had to work in this stop around the ALA convention, plus I was still having e-mail problems at the end of the week, which caused a little flurry of worry for us. So I'm most grateful to her for hosting today.

Tomorrow I'll do a little round-up of blog tour activity for those of you who may have missed some stops or who enjoy reruns.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

The Three Robbers Celebration--The Hannah and Brandon School Presentation

I've discussed in a couple of my Three Robbers blog tour interviews that I became interested in writing a book for younger readers after talking with teachers at elementary schools where I was doing presentations for middle grade students. Then at The Miss Rumphius Effect I talk a little more about my school visits. So I thought that today I'd say a few words about the presentation I developed for first through third graders around A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat, the first in The Hannah and Brandon Stories.

Teachers suggested that I speak to the littlies about things like characters, plot, setting--what sounded like the elements of fiction to me. So I thought I could try introducing kids to those terms, or, in the case of students who already knew them, reinforce their meaning/significance. But how? I use storytelling in my talk for older kids, which is about writers using their experience in their work. I hardly wanted to stand up in front of younger children and do a literature lecture.

Preparing a presentation was a struggle for me, until I came up with a couple of metaphors. Oh, how I love metaphors--the meaningful kind that explain life. Surely you all have some of those? Mine for this presentation are:

1. Writers are scientists who make changes in their characters, plot, and setting every time they create a new experiment/draft.

2. A story is a jigsaw puzzle, and the characters, plot, and setting are the pieces that a scientist/writer moves around while experimenting, until all the pieces come together into a story.

After that, things fell into place for me. Sort of like a jigsaw puzzle, in fact. My computer guy loved the metaphors and made me a set of terrific slides.

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The Three Robbers Celebration--4th of July Weekend Book Giveaway

My own book giveaway closed yesterday. We just did the drawing, and I notified the winners. However, you can still take advantage of the book giveaway my publisher, G. P. Putnam, is offering through my blog tour hosts over the 4th of July weekend. Each day a book will be given away through a different host, and, since the tour concludes tomorrow, I'll offer one here on Sunday so that every day of the holiday weekend is included.

So if you entered my original drawing and haven't heard from me today, or if you've just decided this minute that you'd like to try to win one of my books, you have three more chances:

Today: The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Saturday: A Fuse #8 Production.

Sunday: Back here at Original Content.

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Three Robbers Blog Tour--Day Six

On day six of my blog tour, I'm visiting with Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Please note the image of a very satisfied reader at the beginning of her interview with me. In this interview we get into theme (something I've been thinking about more than usual the last month or two), my school presentations, and how traumatized I was when my long-time editor left Putnam for another publishing house. Plus, do I see myself in any of my characters? You'll have to read the interview to find out.

I was having e-mail problems the past week or so (problems I was unaware of), which made for some difficulties communicating with Tricia. I want to thank her so much for her patience and for hosting this stop on the tour.

Tomorrow's the end of the line. I'll be visiting with Betsy at A Fuse #8 Production.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Three Robbers Celebration--A 4th Of July Weekend Giveaway

Those of you who have seen Big A, little a's interview with me, probably noticed a book giveaway sponsored by my publisher, G. P. Putnam's Sons. Putnam is going to continue offering a copy of A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers right through the 4th of July Weekend at different blogs.

Kelly got to make the offer today, my publication day. It will be Miss Rumphius's turn tomorrow, the 4th of July. The blog tour officially ends on Saturday, but Putnam's free book will be offered here on Sunday so that we can cover the full holiday weekend.

This giveaway is totally separate from the one I've been running here for the last month, which will end tonight with the drawing tomorrow. So, in a nutshell, what we're talking about here is...more free books!

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Three Robbers Blog Tour--Publication Day!

Today is the official publication day for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers. It is very appropriate that I spend it with Kelly at Big A, little a, since she suggested this blog tour. Among the things we discuss are TV's impact on imagination and creating a reading culture.

As I said, this blog tour would never have happened if not for Kelly, and I want to thank her very much. Talking about myself for an entire week has been incredible.

But we're not done yet! We're continuing right into the 4th of July weekend. Tomorrow I'll be at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Get your entries in for the Three Robbers giveaway that I'm doing here through my website. We'll be drawing the winners tomorrow.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Three Robbers Blog Tour--Day Four

Today Jen Robinson interviews me at Jen Robinson's Book Page. The two of us get down and dirty about problems with chapter books as a whole and why we don't see more reviews of them. We also talk about what the future might bring for Hannah and Brandon, assuming they have one.

Jen doesn't usually take part in blog tours, so I really appreciate her hosting a visit for me.

Tomorrow is publication day, and I'll be with Kelly at Big A, little a.

And, of course, you still have today and all day tomorrow to enter to win a copy of A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Three Robbers Blog Tour--Day Three

Day Three of my blog tour finds me at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Not only did Jules have the interview up before breakfast, when I saw it around 7:30 there were already two comments. This interview includes a link to my illustrator, Joe Cepeda, a photograph of Sam Riddleburger, who appears to be reading Club Earth in his kitchen (I have read in my kitchen, too), and a photograph of me in a dobok. You won't want to miss that.

This interview also includes a brief discussion of my writing process. This is the first time I can ever remember feeling comfortable talking about my writing process. In the early days, I don't know if I understood what writing process was, and I definitely wasn't aware of having one.

Thank you, Jules.

Tomorrow I will be at Jen Robinson's Book Page.

While you're waiting for tomorrow, you can still enter to win a copy of A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers. My copies arrived yesterday, so I can actually send the winners their books.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Three Robbers Blog Tour--Day One

The blog tour for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers begins today at books together. Anamaria and I discuss ways in which chapter books are distinguished from other kidlit categories, the challenges of writing them, and that monster cat, Buttercup, who appears in both volumes of The Hannah and Brandon Stories. Many thanks to Anamaria for hosting me.

Tomorrow the tour stops at Sam Riddleburger's blog.

A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers will be published this Thursday, July 3rd. Remember you have until the end of that day to enter to win a copy of the book.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Two Weeks Left

You have two weeks to enter to win a copy of A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers, which will be published two weeks from today.

The festivities for publication week begin on Sunday, June 29th, at books together.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Three Weeks From Today

Oops. I almost forgot to remind you about the Book Giveaway for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers. You have three weeks left to enter.

I'm accumulating a nice assortment of e-mails from possible winners. What I particularly like is that most of them are from people I'm not familiar with. This is great. It's nice to have friends read my blog, but it's even nicer to know that new people are reading me.

If you're a reader--a newbie or an old faithful--who hasn't commented or made your presence known, don't feel shy about entering for a chance to win a copy of Three Robbers. Writers want to hear from people like you.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Free Books

The official publication date for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers is a month from today. That means it's time to give away books!

Go to my homepage to learn how you can win one of the three copies of Three Robbers that I'll be giving away on the 4th of July.

Win a book for yourself, your kids, your school, your local library, your favorite teacher's classroom collection, your school or church fundraiser...There are so many things you can do with a free book.

Kids under the age of thirteen should enter with the consent of a parent, teacher, or some kind of guardian. Because, you know, I am a stranger. Technically.

So go ahead and start entering so you have a chance of celebrating Three Robbers' big day.

I'm also going to be doing a blog tour the week of publication, and I'm going to try to come up with some Three Robbers- or writing process-related material for my blog that week, too.

Oh, yeah. We're going to be festive around here.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Lucky Number Seven

Books Together has just been added to the line-up for my Three Robbers blog tour. Anamaria, who posts at Books Together, is a member of the SCBWI. She's writing but not yet submitting.

So consider who will have a hand in this discussion of chapter books:

June 29th A children's author who is writing but not yet submitting.

June 30th A children's author who has published his first book. (Sam and I are both published by divisions of the Penguin Group.)

So those two bloggers may be covering the subject from a writer's angle or, you could say, a pre-publication angle. But we'll see what happens. It's sort of up to them.

Then we'll have:

July 1 Two librarians.

July 2 A literacy advocate.

July 3 A publisher of an on-line children's literature journal.

July 4 An education professor.

July 5 A librarian.

All those people may be covering the subject from the post-publicaton angle. So, you could say, we may end up going from the act of creating a chapter book to what you do with a chapter book once it's done.

Do you see how linear that is? Have I ever mentioned here that, when I'm actually organized and on task, I crave linearity?

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Do You Want To Be Lucky Number Seven?

Sam Riddleburger just joined on for my blog tour, which is neat because now I have an author. I wanted as many different viewpoints as possible.

Here's the line-up:

June 30 Sam Riddleburger
July 1 Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
July 2 Jen Robinson's Book Page
July 3 Big A, little a (Kelly was the original mover and shaker behind this tour, so it's so appropriate that she be hosting on Three Robbers' publication date)
July 4 The Miss Rumphius Effect
July 5 A Fuse #8 Production

Do you have an interest in chapter books, meaning those books read by younger readers in, say, first through third grade? Would you like to be part of the conversation on the subject and, in passing, my new book A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers? If so, we still have an opening for Sunday, June 29. You can get in touch with me at

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Looking For A Blogging Bookseller

Well, folks, thanks to a suggestion made by Kelly from Big A, little a, I'm going to be doing a blog tour the week A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers officially hits its on-sale date. In order to give the blog a bit of a twist and feed one of my interests, the hosting bloggers will be interviewing me about Three Robbers in relation to early chapter books in general. So we'll be promoting both my book and age group? field?

I have librarians, a professor of teacher education, and a literacy advocate lined up for July 1 through 5. (The book will be published July 3.) I'd like to find a bookseller with an interest in books for early readers, say, kids in first through third grades. Or, you know, those children who are between picture books and middle grade novels.

My idea (and hope) is that all these different people will come at the subject from a different angle and ask different kinds of questions. It's an experiment. We'll see what happens.

So if you are a blogging bookseller and are interested in being part of this tour on either June 29th or 30th, e-mail me at

If you're interested but those dates aren't good for you, e-mail me, anyway. We'll double up on one of the other dates.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Week-Long Book Launch? What A Concept!

First a group of new children's and YA authors with debut books coming out in 2007 formed The Class of 2k7 so they could help each other promote their books. This year a group of new new children's and YA authors have formed the The Class of 2k8 to do the same thing.

They have a blog called, of course, The Class of 2k8. Whenever one of the class members has a book reach its publication date, the blog gives him or her a week-long launch, meaning they blog about the book and author for a whole week. Today is Day 2 for Marissa Doyle.

I think this week-long thing is a neat idea. I know, for myself, publication days are cruelly uneventful. As I may have mentioned before, I think I was cleaning toilets once on the day one of my books was officially published. Even here at the blog nothing much happens. I mention that it's publication day. If I've done a book giveaway I notify the winner. And then that's it.

Of course, this blog is all about me most of the time, anyway, but still I'm liking this week-long launch idea. I will have to think about how I can talk about A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers for a whole week and make everyone think I'm saying something new and different and entertaining and not just repeating myself.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Speaking Of The Hannah And Brandon Stories

I have a limited number of arcs for the second volume in The Hannah and Brandon Stories series, A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers, which will be published in July. I've already given out a few, so if you're interested in a copy get in touch with me soon, either through the comments here or e-mail.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Competition

Years ago I was told by more experienced writers not to bother sending any kind of publicity mailings to booksellers because they're overwhelmed with marketing materials. They have too much to contend with and any kind of postcard or brochure I would send them would hardly be noticed.

In case I didn't believe it, Alison Morris at Shelftalker posted photos of just the arcs/galleys her bookstore has received for books coming out in the months March through August of this year.

Remember, the new Hannah and Brandon book comes out in July.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Kidlit And Still All About Me

This just in from the home office: The Junior Library Guild will be offering A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers to its members next year. Perhaps you recall that it's already offering A Girl, a Boy, and a Monster Cat.

What's that you're hearing? Me sighing with satisfaction.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Me, Me, Me, Me

Speaking of things to look forward to, I received my copy of the Penguin Young Readers Group May through August, 2008 catalog yesterday. For those of you who will be receiving it, I'm on page 40 with A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers.

Sometime before spring, we're hoping to do a Hannah and Brandon mini-page at my website for this series.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

We Have A New Cover

Look to the left of this post, and you'll see the cover for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers, which will be published in July. It is Book Two in what I'm calling the Hannah and Brandon Series, though there isn't an official series' title yet. Hmmm. How many books does a series need before it rates an overall title?

My computer guy is delighted with this cover because now we have eight covers on the homepage. He is seriously into symmetry, and he is so happy now that he feels the page is balanced. Order has been restored to his universe.

I thought of making him drop one of the out-of-print covers, just to mess with his head. But I decided a more positive way of doing that would be to finish the book I'm working on and find someone to publish it. Then instead of getting rid of an old cover, we could add another new one. The page will be asymmetrical but in a much more satisfying way for me.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Crash And Burn

My computer guy says my posts on my daily stats are dull and boring. Yeah, I know. This coming from a computer guy. I laugh. Ha-ha-ha-ha.

My daily stats posts were all about my excitement about entering some kind of weird zenny state where the work was all there was for a couple of hours each day, and just by working I could work. The work created work.

I can't remember the last time this happened to me, so I thought that perhaps I was evolving into a higher lifeform. It was about time. I was hopeful, at least, but in my heart of hearts, I knew it wouldn't last.

Today I received what's known at the home office as the first pass of the galleys for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers (with art!), which needed to be looked at right away so they could go off to be printed into arcs. Thursday is one of my half days, anyway, and between the galleys, and e-mailing my editor, and getting an e-mail from her, and e-mailing her again, well, I wrote maybe three paragraphs on The Durand Cousins.

Galleys are wonderful because the book is pretty much done as far as the author is concerned, and soon it will be another notch on your pistol grip. But by this point, you've written that freaking book so many times, and seen it so many times that it no longer seems original and brilliant to you and you worry that this will be the book that makes clear to everyone that you have no business publishing. How did she find a publisher? Did she have incriminating pictures? Did she hold someone's child hostage?

You really want to be working on the new book, which you haven't seen too much of yet, so you still think it is original and brilliant and could be your masterpiece, the work you will be remembered for a hundred years after your death. Assuming you don't die too soon. You've got to get that masterwork written fast and you've got to find a publisher for it and get a contract signed before the new book comes out because once the new book comes out no one will want you anymore.

But then working on the old book destroys the flow you finally created for working on the new book, and you know you'll never get it back and all is lost. Lost.

The design work and art for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers looks really good. And soon there will be arcs! Yippee!

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Guess I'll Be Doing A Book Giveaway For The 4th Of July

Look who has a book coming out next year. Me. Amazon says so, so it must be true. Can't wait until I have a cover to go with it.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Baloney Vs. Bologna: An Editing Dilemma

Bologna, the sausage, appears in the second Girl/Boy book. I wanted to call it baloney because I don't know anyone, myself, who pronounces it bologna, and this is a book for first through third graders. I didn't know if they'd even be familiar with the word "bologna." I don't know many adults among my acquaintances who would know how to pronounce that word if they saw it in print. Though that may just be the company I keep.

Well, I looked up baloney in a couple of dictionaries. Both of them described it as a variant of bologna. Good enough, I thought. I should be able to use it.

When the book came back from copy editing, my favorite copy editor had replaced baloney with bologna. So when I responded to the copy editing changes, I asked if there was a compelling reason why we couldn't stick with baloney. It wasn't a make or break issue for me, by any means, but I wondered if it wasn't a case of being realistic vs. being excruciatingly correct. Given a choice, I'll always go with being realistic.

Between the time I sent off my responses and the time I talked with my editor, I read Melvin Beederman Superhero, Terror in Tights. Bologna, the sausage, figures prominently in that story, and the word appears as bologna, not baloney. This gave me pause, since the Beederman books are written for the same age group as the Girl/Boy books.

So my editor and I discussed this over the phone this past week. By that point, I was no longer confident that I wanted to stick with baloney, but I still wanted to run it past everyone. My main editor (think conceptual/content editor) got together with my copy editor (think grammar and usage editor), who felt quite strongly that bologna is the sausage and baloney is foolishness.

My concept editors and I have always had a policy of deferring to the copy editor on lines, words, punctuation, etc. Given that she wanted to go with bologna and Melvin Beederman went with bologna, I am now going with bologna. And I'm very satisfied with that decision.

It took three of us to resolve this dilemma, and it only related to one word. This is why I like editing and editors. I don't want the burden of making these decisions by myself.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007


This morning I remembered that desire, as in desiring to be like others, does nothing but cause suffering. Oh, yes. I'm feeling better now.

My lightness of mood comes in part because I mailed off the seventh draft of A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers this morning. Right now that's the title of the book coming out in the summer of 2008. And I'm very close to being finished with my portion of the work.