Sometimes in publishing, there is bad news. When the world is in midst of a pandemic and publishing is struggling, that bad news is sometimes not as unexpected as it might otherwise be. So I was surprised and disappointed but not completely shocked when I got the call from CBAY that they would be unable to publish Detours after all. That means that for now, Shortcuts will not have a published sequel. Sorry, Parker and friends! And I'm sorry to those of who you enjoyed book 1 and were looking forward to book 2.
However, I'm hopeful that down the road, it'll be made available in one way or another. In the meantime, I'll be removing the book's page on my website (and hopefully Goodreads) until the day that it is again on the schedule to be published.
Sadness, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I will keep you posted!
1. The Stonewall Book Awards list is the American Library Association award for books that do an exemplary job representing LGTBQ+ experiences. It is a set of 3 awards given annually for literature, nonfiction, and children’s and young adult literature. You can find all winners and honorable mentions at the ALA page here. This page includes adult and children’s lists and is a little visually overwhelming. So if you are specifically seeking books for young readers, lists that include just the children and YA winners may be easier.
For example, Vanderbilt University has a really nice Library Research Guide on Children’s and Young Adult Book Awards that includes a page on the Children’s and YA Stonewall Book Award. This page clearly and simply displays the winner and honor book each year, with covers and blurbs. You do not need to be enrolled to access this Library Guide (sometimes called LibGuides), at least not at this time. Many colleges and universities will have LibGuides like these for their students majoring in Education.
2. The Rainbow Books List specifically looks at books for young readers and provides excellent titles in picture books, middle grade, and YA. Their yearly lists go back to 2008 and is selected by the Rainbow Book List Committee of the Rainbow Round Table of the American Library Association. From their website: “The List is a curated bibliography highlighting books with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content, aimed at children and youth from birth to age 18. This List is intended to aid youth and those working with youth in selecting high-quality books.”
3. Many local libraries curate books and resources and often publish those lists for the public. So even if you don’t live near a certain library, you can still build your to-read list from their curated suggestions.
For example, the Hennepin County Library has a great list of middle grade LGTBQ+ inclusive books here.
Some libraries will also include spine stickers that will notate award winners.
4. The website Welcoming Schools has a wonderful list of LGBTQ inclusive material for young readers, including picture books and middle grade. Welcoming Schools is a national professional development program to help elementary school educators create an inclusive, safe classroom for LGTBQ+ students.
Last year, eight of the ten Most Challenged Books were books related to LGBTQ+ content and many of them are books geared for children. Having books available that show kids from diverse backgrounds, to include LGTBQ+, helps all students feel safe and valued as members of their local community.
5. The LGBTQ+ list at the Social Justice Books. This website has many excellent book lists and their LGBTQ+ list is one of them.
Books that have been reviewed by the website have an asterisk next to them.
If you saw my last post on social justice book lists, you will recognize this website--it's a wonderful resource.
Reading serves many purposes. It affirms our own experiences but also teach us about the lived experiences of others, building compassion, empathy, and understanding.
Diverse books are important to read all year long, but if some of these LGTBQ+ books aren’t on your to-read list, Pride Month is a great time to consider adding them!
I have seen a lot of parents and educators asking how they can best engage with their kids and students about the issue of social justice in America. Books are always a powerful tool. Reading together brings up conversation and other perspectives. Here are some resources that list some great books, both fiction and nonfiction.
3. Brain Lair Books has a great list on Bookshop.org, which a website to boost online sales for indie booksellers as an alternative to other online shopping giants.
This book list called "This List is Anti-Racist." It's full of excellent books--check it out!
4. School Library Journal has shared a number of good resources. Their latest post on social media included an educator's guide to the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.
You can download the guide for free. To learn more about this book, read this interview with the authors.
5. The Brown Book Shelf is an organization that supports Black authors writing for young readers. Along with their website, you can find them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Give them a follow!
They are hosting a Kitlit Rally for Black Lives on June 4th led by award-winning authors Kwame Alexander, Jacqueline Woodson, and Jason Reynolds. It will be recording it for those unable to attend Live and ASL interpretation will be provided. I'm not sure how long the recording will be available, but I'm looking forward to listening and learning!
6. The book Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness, published by Dottir Press, is being offered as a free PDF download through June 19, 2020.
Even once this free offer ends, this book will remain an excellent picture book to get and read. The image to the side is a screenshot of their website: https://www.dottirpress.com/
There are other social justice book lists aimed at adults--those are awesome, too, not to mention some amazing people to follow on social media who teach and share about these issues. But as someone who writes for young readers, I wanted to focus on published resources to support these important conversations with young people.
Thanks for your time. Love to all of you,
This is a strange time, I know. It's stranger for some than others. As a writer, I was already working at home, so I had a basic routine in place already (though now my family is all home with me and adaptions have been necessary!) For those new to working at home, it might feel overwhelming, especially now that it's been a few weeks, but you can do a few things to make things smoother. Here are my top 5 tips for being productive when working at home!
1. Get dressed in the mornings. I know, I know, it’s fun to sit in pajamas all day, but I find that being dressed for the day actually preps my brain to start working.
2. Make sure you move around often. There are no office mates who stop by to chat (unless you have kids or a spouse at home sharing your space now, too) so it’s up to you to take breaks. When I get stuck in a story, I take walk around the block to help clear my head. I have weekly exercise classes I make time for, and I also take plenty of snack breaks!
3. Set up your office to be comfortable. Consider not working in bed, even if you can. It might feel silly to set up pictures near your temporary desk, but it will help make your home office feel more like a regular work space. My work space is pictured below, but even if you are just using a space on your kitchen table, give yourself somewhere to stack folders and papers so they are easy to find. It'll save you a lot of time in the long run to spend time up front organizing your space.
4. When you are feeling isolated, take a moment to really notice your surroundings. I can hear the birds outside my window and kids playing in their backyard a few doors down. Someone is mowing their lawn. I'm not alone--and neither are you. We're in this together. Then send a short check-in email to someone else who is newly at home, just to say hi. Pretend you just stopped by their desk to ask how their weekend was. Physically distancing doesn't mean we should distance ourselves in all ways. Stay in touch with others.
5. Don’t feel guilty at night when you leave your home office. You’ve put in the time. Taking time to rest and relax is critical to keep your brain and heart fueled, especially during such uncertain times as these. Setting boundaries is important.
Best wishes to you all as we navigate this unique time.
Love mermaids and magic? From April 2 to April 6, the Kindle copy of MER-CHARMER (U.S. Amazon only) is FREE! Grab your copy today and escape with Tristan and Phoebe under the sea. (Between you and me, Tristan is one of my very favorite characters of the entire series.)
It's today! I'm so happy!
YA Books Central kindly hosted the cover reveal for Paris on Repeat today. Please hop over there to see what I had to say about my cover (spoiler: I love it!) and enter the giveaway! Three lucky entrants will win a free ARC (U.S. only, sorry!)
Thank you, YABC and Jolly Fish Press!
I'm so happy to let you know that you can now add PARIS ON REPEAT to your Goodreads list! Check it out to see if it sounds like a fit for you! The series name is Wish and Wander. (Book 2 is set in Rome!)
GROUNDHOG DAY gets a hilarious French twist in this delightful upper middle grade novel about first crushes and friendship when an eighth-grade class trip to Paris goes horribly wrong and the worst day of one girl’s life keeps happening over and over.
Fourteen-year-old Eve Hollis is ready to push through her fears and finally let her crush know how she feels. And what better place to tell him than on top of the Eiffel Tower in the City of Love? But things don’t go as planned, and Eve is sure she’s had the worst day of her life— until she wakes up the next morning to realize the whole disaster of a day is happening again. She’s trapped in a time loop.
Desperate to make it stop, Eve will have to take some big risks and learn from her mistakes or she’s destined to live the most awkwardly painful day of her life over and over again, forever.
Cover reveal coming soon!
Book coming July 2020 from Jolly Fish Press
It's been a while since I've shared a book review here on my blog. I try to keep my Goodreads updated, but I'm not the best at that, either. But there's been a few books I've loved lately.
Today I'll share about the most recent one:
THE HOTEL BETWEEN, by Sean Easely
The Book Blurb:
Twins Cam and Cass have never known their parents. They’ve been told their mother died, and Cass is certain their father abandoned them. Cam isn’t so sure. He wants to prove her wrong; he must.
Cam’s wish is soon granted in the form of a glistening, golden sign with elaborate flourishes that reads: The Hotel Between. With doors that open to countries all over the world, magical trollies, charmed corridors that can be altered on a whim, stone elephants that come to life, sweets made from rocks; everything is possible in the Hotel. Cam has a hunch his father is somehow connected to this magical place, and may even be lost within its hidden halls.
Every journey has its risks, and The Hotel Between is full of dangerous secrets. If Cam’s not careful, his stay may be over before his vacation has even started.
This is a fabulous middle grade adventure with magic and mystery at its heart! There are many twists and turns I didn't see coming, and I couldn't put the book down. Sean Easley did an incredible job with world-building and character development-- I will miss these characters AND the magic of The Hotel Between. Luckily, there's a book 2 and I plan on reading it asap!
f you enjoy fantastical stories with magic, adventure, and twisty turns, get this one today! I mean, just look at that gorgeous cover! It really captures the story perfectly.
I'm so excited to be a part of the Snowy Wings Publishing Middle Grade Blog hop! My World of Aluvia books were re-released with Snowy Wings, and it's been a wonderful experience!
For our blog hop, The Reading Faery asked me a few questions-- and they are some really fun ones. Thank you for such a lovely interview, Moa! You can visit her post for the blog hop here. Her blog is beautiful and offers information on tons of books! I enjoyed our visit. At the bottom of our posts, there are links to the rest of the blog hop, so please be sure to check those out, too!
The World of Aluvia has three books in the series: Fairy Keeper, Mer-Charmer, and Dragon Redeemer. These books are upper middle grade, and a great fit for grades 4th-8th and up. Though the series has a story line that spans all three books, each book can stand alone, each with a different main character and a focus on a different magical creature.
Fairies, mermaids, and dragons, oh my!
Fairy Keeper, World of Aluvia, Book 1
Forget cute fairies in pretty dresses. In the world of Aluvia, most fairies are more like irritable, moody insects. Still, almost everyone views the fairy keeper mark as a gift, a sign of an ability to attract and even control fairies. Fourteen-year-old Sierra considers it a curse, one that binds her to a dark alchemist father who steals her fairies’ mind-altering nectar for his illegal elixirs and poisons.
But when all the little fairies die mysteriously and the fairy queens go missing, more than just the life of her fairy is in the balance. Sierra will stop at nothing to find the fairy queens, leading her to a magical secret lost since ancient times. The magic waiting for her has the power to transform the world, but only if she can first embrace her destiny as a fairy keeper.
A short EXCERPT from Chapter One
At this point in the story, Sierra has realized she needs to collect more fairy nectar right away, though the fairies are more dangerous at dusk. She and her little sister Phoebe have just reached the fairy field.
When they turned the corner at the clump of blackberry bushes where Phoebe would wait, Sierra paused. A haunting silence sat heavily in the meadow. No bass-deep thrumming of the fairies in their hatch rode along the breeze. No tiny lights like sparks flittered within the darkening trees nearby. Her heart galloped. Where were her charges? Thankfully, her sister hadn’t noticed yet.
“Phoebe, I need you to go back and start cooking, okay? We don’t want dinner late for Jack. This won’t take long, but they get irritated at dusk, and I don’t want you to get hurt.” That last part was not a lie.
Phoebe’s shoulders sagged, but she knew a late dinner meant trouble. She headed back, dragging her feet, head tucked down into her chest. If their mother hadn’t died birthing Phoebe, maybe things would have been different. Whatever kindness had been in their father must have died right along with her. Before Sierra could ache over how much more she wished she could give her sister, she turned her attention back to the fairy hatch.
There were no cages for Sierra’s fairies. No wires, no lids, no glass. Except for the queen, they were so tiny they could fit through most holes, but they didn’t need cages with a fairy keeper around anyway. She was the reason they kept coming back. They did live in a slatted wooden box that allowed easy access to their nectar, but otherwise they were free to come and go as they pleased. Unlike Sierra. She was trapped by her mark, her father, and by her love for Phoebe.
Sierra tiptoed forward. The sky was darkening, but there were no glowing wings covered in the nectar that dripped off them in their hatches. Her skin prickled as it did in that still moment before an earthquake hit.
Next to the hatch, a pile of tiny rainbow flower petals were spread on the ground. For one moment, she didn’t understand. Then her knees gave out when her mind made sense of the sight.
All the fairies were dead. No movement, no noise, no vibration, no light. Sierra searched the pile for her queen, the tiny wings rasping softly as she sifted them through her hands. They were like dry silk as they slid down her palms, which began to shake. She dropped the last dead fairy from her fingers and stood in shock. All dead but the queen, who was missing. Where was the queen?
Thanks for reading! You can check out the rest of the first chapters on Amazon's Look Inside feature, too.
I appreciate your time and am always glad to hear from readers!
About the Blog Hop, from Snowy Wings:
As a thank you for participating in our blog hop, we’re offering a chance to win eight (8) ebooks and two (2) paperbacks from our middle-grade authors!
Hop around and make sure to visit everyone today, then fill out the Rafflecopter!
October 25th – YA/NA Book Divas
October 26th – Selenia Paz
October 27th – Mindy Klasky
October 28th – I Love Books and Stuff
October 29th – Amy Bearce / The Reading Faery
October 30th – Melanie McFarlane / Jenifer Reads
October 31st – Sarah Dale / Sucker for Coffe
To those of you in 4th-8th grade and older, I hope I can offer a smidgen of help & encouragement as you traverse the waters of intermediate school, middle school, and high school.