Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Word or Two About My Agent

I'm not sure if I've ever posted about my agent. I love my agent. It is so nice to have someone to go to with all my questions. Someone who will work hard on behalf of my books and take good care of them and me.

I am very fortunate to have Daniel Lazar of Writers House in my corner--not to mention all the other wonderful people at Writers House who offer their support in the area of foreign rights and more.

The Middle Grade Ninja Blog has a post with an interview of Dan today. If you want to know a little more about Daniel Lazar, pop on over and check it out. You can CLICK HERE to be redirected to Middle Grade Ninja. I guarantee that you will find other fun things to explore while you are there.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Look at Contemporary Rural Fantasy

There is an interesting post by author Deb Coates over at about contemporary rural fantasy. I really enjoyed reading it--and it mentions Savvy and Scumble!

Many people are more familiar with the label 'urban fantasy' but 'rural fantasy' is gaining ground.

To read Deb Coates's terrific post, click on this link:

And if you like Ms. Coates's post, poke around Tor's website! I'm finding some other fascinating posts there... and even a free book giveaway. Oh, I probably shouldn't have mentioned that last bit. It will decrease my own chances of winning any of the book grab bags.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chatting with Cynthia Lord

Getting back to summer author chats, I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to ask Cynthia Lord my questions and share her answers with you.

Cynthia is the Newbery Honor (among other awards) author of Rules and has a picture book out called Hot Rod Hamster (which my nephew loves--he even pretends he's Hot Rot Hamster). And Cynthia's second, highly anticipated novel Touch Blue (Scholastic) comes out in August.

Without further ado, let's chat with Cindy!

Q: When you were a child, what did you like to ‘pretend’ most? How much of a role did your imagination play in your life?

A: I loved to pretend as a child. Often, I would imagine new stories for book characters I loved. One book series I remember pretending with was The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I loved the idea of tiny people who lived in a house with a family of big people who didn't know they existed. I remember wishing the Borrowers lived in my house. I would look around our kitchen and imagine what they would take to eat. How would they get up our stairs? Where would they hide if I came in the room? Imagination and books were a huge part of my childhood.

Q: Do you have a favorite word, words, or quote?

A: I have lots of quotes that I love. One of my favorite quotes for writing is actually by the artist Andrew Wyeth. "Go deep, not wide."
It reminds me that there's power in depth.

Q: When you were growing up, was there a specific book (or books) that changed you somehow—a book that you feel is responsible for a little (or big) piece of who you are today?

A: The Witch of Blackbird Pond
was an important book for me. I don't remember how old I was when I read it, but probably about fifth grade. It was the first children's book where I really felt that the author was trusting me to understand difficult (and rather grown-up) issues and ideas. That book has stayed with me, and it showed me that kids are capable of appreciating deep and complicated things. Plus, Nat was one of my first book-character crushes!

Q: If you could pick any book to live inside for a day, what book would it be and why?

Little House on the Prairie
I would love to be there in the evening to hear Pa play the fiddle and to dance with Laura.

Q: What do you do when you have a tough writing day? How do you get through it?

A: I push through. Some days are just about "showing up." And I know that some of my best writing happens on days where I'm not feeling especially inspired.

Q: How do you like to celebrate when you finish writing a book, get a good review, etc?

A: Sometimes I will go to one of my books' settings and do something special. My novels have real places underneath them, so going to the waterfront park where Catherine takes Jason in Rules or visiting an island for Touch Blue--it's powerful for me.

Q: What’s up? Tell us about where you are in your writing process right now. What’s out? What’s coming? What are you currently working on?

A: This year, I have had two books come out. My first picture book, Hot Rod Hamster (illustrated by Derek Anderson), came out in February. My second novel, Touch Blue, comes out in August. That title comes from a superstition: Touch blue and your wish will come true.

The main character of TOUCH BLUE is an 11-year-old named Tess who is a lobster fisherman with her dad. They live on an island in Maine, and their little island school is in danger of being closed because there aren’t enough island kids to keep it open. So the island families adopt a group of foster children to keep their school open. Tess is very excited, because she wants the boy who is coming to live with them to be a best friend and a big brother, etc. When he arrives, he isn’t exactly what she expected.

I was a Maine island teacher. Before I had my own children, I taught in an island school that had only 13 kids, and I took the ferry out and back every day. Touch Blue was inspired partly by my own experience as a teacher and partly by a real event that happened on a Maine island in the 1960s.

Right now, I'm starting a new novel and I'm waiting to see the finished art for a 2011 picture book. It's a follow up to Hot Rod Hamster called Happy Birthday, Hamster. I saw the initial sketches a month ago and they are adorable! One of the best parts for me in doing a picture book is getting to work with illustrator Derek Anderson. He's a delightful person and hugely talented.

I have more information and discussion guides for my books on my website:

Thank you, Cindy, for joining me on my blog. Wishing you well on all of your wonderful books!

To see past author chats, click on the Author Chats label at the end of this post. Also, I have a few more coming in the next couple of months, so check back to read about more of your favorite authors.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thank You, Dear Readers and Booksellers...

...for the 15th week of Savvy on the New York Times Best Sellers List (children's paperbacks).

Hugs to everyone who's helped put it there.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Look Up! from NPR... and How come insects still make me jump?

If you've had an opportunity to look closely at Brandon Dorman's marvelous cover art for Scumble, you've probably discovered that there is a lot to see in it... a western landscape, the book's main character, a veritable storm of parts and pieces, and . . . insects! There is, of course, good reason for it all. But I won't give it all away.

I did a lot of research for this book--some of it on spiders, butterflies, and other insects. I learned that some male spiders pluck 'songs' on the webs of female spiders to attract them. I learned that Goliath beetles sound like helicopters when they fly. I looked a photos of mesquite beetles, stick insects, and pink toed tarantulas. And I asked questions and got a behind-the-scenes tour at a real insect and butterfly zoo.

For some reason, the part of me that's always been squeamish when it comes to bugs is still as jumpy as ever, despite my new-found love of all things buggy. Or, maybe I should say, all things buggy at a distance.

Still, when I came across this wonderful news feature and animation at, I was delighted and wanted to share. Enjoy!

OH! If you want to see the animation you need to click on the 'more from NPR' link inside the window below. That's what I'd hoped would embed here. Otherwise, here's the full link:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Word of the Week

Okay, so I think most people know what a CALF is, right? The young of a bovine animal or other mammal such as a whale, elephant, or seal. CALF can also be used for "an awkward, silly boy or man" (according to

It's a part of a leg too. BUT did you know that glaciers have calves? I just learned this because my browser homepage opens up every day to NASA's And earlier this week I read a feature they did on a glacial calving front and the overnight breakup of a glacier. If you're interested in the feature yourself, you can click HERE to be redirected to it.

But I decided to make CALF my word of the week, even though it's not unusual, because I now know a new definition for it: "a mass of ice detached from a glacier, iceberg, or floe" (again,, and the image is courtesy of

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

SCUMBLE Release Date Moved Up

I got word today that Scumble will be coming out on August 17th, instead of the 24th. So, one week closer to publication! That happens to be the same day school starts up again here, so it will be a busy time.

If you're in Colorado, some fun events are in the works. Confirmed so far: the Lafayette Public Library will be hosting a Scumble Release Party from 7:00-9:00pm on Friday, August 27th. I'm having a good time amassing Scumble-related door prizes and giveaways, and there will be books for sale (which I will be signing).

I'll also be at the Boulder Bookstore on Saturday, September 25th, at 3:00pm. Other local appearances are in the works. And I know I'll be in Texas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Georgia this fall. For more information about these events, head over to my Appearances Page on my website (though, be patient please, I don't have full details yet about most of my events). Click HERE to be redirected.

I'll post more information about upcoming events as soon as I know more. If you're not in any of these areas and want a signed copy of Scumble when it comes out, I believe arrangements can be made with the Boulder Bookstore.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Starred Review in Booklist

Hooray! Scumble received a starred review in the July 1st issue of Booklist. In the review, Francisca Goldsmith writes:

"This companion to Newbery Honor Book Savvy (2008) provides the same high level of satisfying plot, delightful characters, alliterative language, and rich imagery."

She goes on to say, "While adult readers will see this all as a beautiful conceptualization of the drama and metamorphosis of adolescence, younger readers will delight in the tall-tale tropes and Ledge’s authentic physical, emotional, and artistic challenges."

I've posted the full review and some others at my website. To read more, click HERE.

Meanwhile, I recently received my copies of the Scumble audio book, expertly read by David Kremenitzer. The audio book will go on sale at the same time as the Scumble hardcover.

On another side note, I also just discovered that the German translation of Savvy, titled Schimmer, is available at iTunes as an iPhone app. Schimmer is also available in audio (though, not through iTunes)--for anyone who wants to listen to the story in German. Oh, how I wish I could be multi-lingual!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Music Magic

This is what it might look like if someone's savvy gave him the power to change the nature of reality whenever he opened his mouth to sing (which, I believe, people who sing do all the time).

Check out Matt Morris's brand new video of his single Live Forever, from the album When Everything Breaks Open to experience the magic!

**Update... oh, drat, if this video doesn't fit on my blog screen right, you can be redirected to YouTube to watch this video larger, smaller, or without any parts obscured by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Word of the Week

So the favorite word at my house lately, thanks to my daughter who has been saying it non-stop (sometimes non-stop with a sing-song tune in the car), is also one which is held as an example of one of the longest words in the English language. The word is:


And yes, my daughter can pronounce it--I can too (mostly). You can find a thorough definition and click on a audio sample of someone pronouncing the word by clicking HERE (which will divert you to

Floccinaucinihilipilification is the combination of four Latin words. I often tell the story about how I remember my father saying that there were two classes I should not miss taking in high school: Typing (this was back when we didn't have computers everywhere and learn to keyboard in elementary school) and Latin. Both have served me quite well. Both had value and were not, in fact floccinaucinihilipilificatious.

Floccinaucinihilipilification means: To judge something valueless or trivial. So, it's sort of funny that such value has been placed on this word in our house in the last week or so.