Don't you just LOVE reading stories that go bump in the night? I do! One of the authors I credit for my foray back into voracious reading is Dean Koontz, who definitely has a flair for the twisted and macabre side of life. Even when I was younger, I remember sneak-reading Christopher Pike books (my parents were strict about what I read--Mr. Pike was too edgy for them) and then being afraid to shut off the lights.
If you're anything like me, you'll want to check out today's featured book, WHEN THE CIRCUS CAME TO TOWN. This creepy book is geared for young adult and upper middle grade readers. You may never want to visit the circus again, but don't say I didn't warn you... Muahahaha!
When the Circus Came To Town
The Bosci Expo is coming to town. Tony Brazil and his best friend Paul, can hardly wait. But what they don't know is that this circus is bringing with it a cursed little being. The old ventriloquist, Pomroy Prettygut, once again has to clean up after the dummy's handiwork. He has had it with the little wooden man's appetites for human strength, but is resigned to the fact he must live with the creature until the curse is satisfied.
A boy turns up missing along with Hank Budd, the town bully. Paul is worried for his sister because she too, has not returned home from the circus.
Tony and Paul try to investigate the disappearances which lead them into near disaster. Have they all met with the same fate? What is going on with the peculiar Bosci Expo?
Is there a killer in the circus or is he on the loose?
Tony lay on his back and stared at the ceiling. He breathed hard through his nose. Okay, I've got to get to sleep. Relax! Scenes like a video of the circus replayed through his mind making sleep almost an impossibility. Plus this darn wind.
What was that? He was sure he'd heard a noise which sounded a lot like a thump. Definitely not the wind! It was a very small noise, but chilled him nonetheless.
He looked towards his window lit by the moonlight. He saw a tree's branches in the distance blowing crazily back and forth.
Suddenly, his eyes froze at the corner of the window sill. What was that? Movement…a hand? A small hand? Scratching at his window!
Tony couldn't scream…he could only watch and wonder in frozen horror if he was indeed fully awake. Five stubby fingers were scraping on the glass pane, creating a sound he'd never forget. Trying to get in!
Oh no! Now he could see the dark top of a head…the eyes! The huge, frightful, staring, black-ringed clown eyes!
"AHHHHH!" Tony screamed loud and long as he shot up in bed, staring right into the garishly painted face of a doll man!
Within seconds it seemed, his parents came flying into the room, flipping on the light. "What is it? What is it?" his mother asked breathlessly, checking him over thoroughly for any signs of trouble. His dad stood in the doorway with his black hair in disarray, slowly rubbing his eyes. "What's wrong, son?"
"I saw something…thought I saw something…I know I saw something−" he rambled, gulping hard, feeling like a tiny baby once again.
"You were dreaming, honey," his mother cooed, smoothing his hair back repeatedly with her firm hand. His father peeked out the window into the backyard.
"I don't see anything, son." He turned giving Tony a lop-sided grin. "No ghosts in the closet," he chuckled at his little stab at humour.
"But, I thought I saw something…a face!" He looked up at his mom with a heartfelt look, trying to make her believe him. "I wasn't dreaming.…"
"Well, let's get back down under the covers and try to go to sleep. You've just had too much circus today, that's all! Probably ate a lot of junk, too." She kissed his forehead, smoothing back his hair one more time for good measure.
Tony shivered uncontrollably as he continued to glance at the empty window. Something had been there. He knew it! He closed his eyes and willed good thoughts to fill his mind.
"I'm okay Mom. But can you stay until I fall asleep?" He wanted to believe his mother, that he was only having a bad dream.
"Yes, of course I will," she turned to her husband, "Honey I'll be there shortly. Why don't you go on back to bed." His dad nodded in agreement and bid Tony good night, and staggered a little sleepily as he went back down the hall to their bedroom.
Tony stared at his mother wanting to believe she was right. His peepers didn't want to close. As she sat there by his side and sang a little lullaby from when he was a baby, he soon fell asleep.
Waldo Cornpepper had slid all the way down the trellis when the kid let out the ear-splitting scream. He'd landed unceremoniously on his wooden rear end with quite a hard jolt. However, he had seen what he wanted to see; and felt the hunger churning.
This kid would belong to him soon enough and would make his wretched life a little easier. At least for a while. His joints would once again move like a well-oiled machine; with Tony's vibrancy flowing through him.
The kid's scared pale face was burned into Waldo's mind forever. Only a matter of time when I meet up with that one, he reflected with delight.
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Meet Deborah McClatchey
Deborah was born and raised in southern California. Eventually she moved to No. California to begin her young adult life; then over the years moved to Nevada, Utah, Texas, and back to California. Quite a trip to end up back where she started!
She loves to write stories about teens and horror.
Raising a couple of young tortoises and writing take up most of her day. Maybe one of these days she'll get around to writing about the 'traveling torts'.
Her son and his growing family live on the east coast... they visit as often as they can what with being 3,000 miles apart, but Skype is an incredible link to family.
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First off, an apology to my readers. I've been slacking lately on book features, not to mention blogging in general. Life, y'know? It happens to the best of us, especially writers juggling many manuscripts who don't want to write any more words than absolutely necessary. But I'm making a vow to do better this month.
Kicking off November, we have Michael Thal's GOODBYE TCHAIKOVSKY. In GOODBYE TCHAIKOVSKY, readers are presented with a topic not often tackled in Young Adult fiction, hearing loss. But I'm going to step aside and let the book do the talking. Without further ado...
A violin virtuoso is plunged into a deaf world, necessitating him to adapt to a new culture and language in order to survive.
David Rothman is an overnight success. He performs Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with rave reviews attracting the attention of the Queen of England. His future is laid out for him like a well-lit freeway. Then, on his twelfth birthday, David suffers from an irreparable hearing loss, plunging him into a silent world.
How will David communicate with his friends? What about school? Where does his future lie? The novel shows how an adolescent boy copes with deafness.
I’ll never forget the day after my twelfth birthday. I awoke to a profound silence.
This didn’t make much sense because I lived in an apartment building nestled between an office building and a supermarket. There was always noise.
I threw back the sheets and pushed away the white drapes. A garbage truck was parked in the middle of the street and a woman stood outside the office building smoking a cigarette. I shrugged my shoulders and picked up my violin. The California Youth Symphony had another concert slated for September, and I needed to be prepared.
I plucked the ‘A’ string. It shook with a puff of resin. The violin vibrated, but there wasn’t any sound.
Damn, the soundboard’s broken.
“Ma!” I screamed.
Nothing. I couldn’t hear my voice. I just kept thinking, “How could I lose my voice?”
She didn’t have far to run. She opened my bedroom door; the aroma of coffee and eggs filled my nostrils. She padded into my room; put her arms akimbo, and talked. Her mouth moved but nothing came out.
“Ma, I can’t hear my voice, my fiddle, or you. Nothing. What’s happening to me?” I held my head and shook it.
Her lips formed the words, “Oh my God.”
About Michael Thal
Michael Thal is the author of four published novels--Goodbye Tchaikovsky, The Abduction of Joshua Bloom, and The Koolura Series--The Legend of Koolura and Koolura and the Mystery at Camp Saddleback. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Examiner writing articles about parenting and education.
Moving from the frigid Northeast to comfy Southern California in 1973, Michael taught elementary and middle school for 28 years until a freak virus left him deafened at the age of 50. He reinvented himself as a writer composing over 80 published articles in print magazines as well as novels for middle grade and high school aged students.
You can learn more about Michael Thal on his website at www.michaelthal.com. His books can be purchased on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble in print and as e-books.
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Yesterday I lost someone very special to me, my horse, Fansi. My family has owned her from the very beginning. I slept in the back of a van parked in the aisle of my barn waiting for her mother to give birth to her, and even then I almost missed her being born. Horses are sneaky little things. :-)
Fansi and I had 22 years together, and yesterday afternoon she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. She's now kicking her heels up with all of her friends who have gone before--Moe, Mariah, Jake, Pepper, Sugar, and her mom.
Obviously, I'm sad. I knew for a couple of days prior to her passing that it was likely, so I planned in advance to do something happy for others.
On October 15 and 16, I'm offering my children's/Middle Grade book, DANIEL THE DRAW-ER, for free Kindle download. No strings attached, just wanted to do something nice and for people to be happy. (And, yes, I meant to post this yesterday, but I wasn't feeling up to writing this blog post. Sorry about being a day late!)
Click here or on the picture below to go directly to Amazon to download your copy before the promotion ends tonight. Don't forget to smile. :-)
Ahhh, I just love when I get to pull classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory quotes out of mid-air... and they actually kind of fit. Except that Roald Dahl's Violet Beauregarde
is a singularly unpleasant character, which is not so with Audrey Kane's Violet.
Okay, so maybe my Willy Wonka example didn't work at all, but you should still check out magical Violet, THE PURPLE GIRL. Keep reading...
The Purple Girl
Caution! Violet is a purple-skinned girl whose purple spreads to everything she touches. She lives behind garden walls. Is she magical? Is she the devil’s child—or simply cursed? When the lonely thirteen-year-old embarks on a dangerous journey to find the one boy that dared to befriend her, she travels at night…in the dark…to keep people from seeing her purple skin. But no one is more surprised than Violet when she unlocks her mysterious gift.
The Purple Girl is an adventure story about a young girl’s triumphant journey to be herself. While written for children, this thought-provoking adventure—and its surprising twists—will delight readers of all ages. Violet’s story is shaped to empower young girls and help them embrace their identities.
Frustrated, I blew out the candle and slipped the book back into its velvet cover.
“Violet, is that you?” my mother called from her bed.
I gave a little gasp. With the text in my hands and my heart pounding, I stood rooted to the spot. There was a second of silence, and then I heard the creak of her bed and the easy rhythm of her snores.
Barely breathing, I replaced the text on the shelf and then crept my way through the doorway toward the kitchen. There wasn’t much time. Dawn was ready to break. The gypsy girl would be waiting.
When I reached the side door, I hesitated. Can I do this? The garden is a pretty but also a lonely place to be caged in.
With unsteady hands, I eased open the door and slipped out.
About Audrey Kane
As a writer, and also a designer of tapestries with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia, it is only natural for Audrey to weave visual stories. When she is not designing tapestries, she is busy conjuring up characters that find themselves in extraordinary situations. Between carpools and design work, she is plotting, scheming, writing, and revising. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, their three children, and her unruly dog, Rascals. Audrey's favorite time to write is in the early morning while her family sleeps. With Rascals sprawled out snoring beside her, it only takes one oversized cup of coffee to get her mind moving.
Audrey is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves traveling, museums, and blackberry-apple pie. Actually, she loves all kinds of pie. And she especially loves her family. They have put up with Violet and Waxy for a long time. You can visit her at: http://www.audreykane.com
The amazing illustrations are by Tory and Norman Taber.
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Switching directions today to talk about my friend Maria Ann Green's New Adult/Young Adult book, IN THE REARVIEW. Most of the books I've featured on my blog so far have been pretty lighthearted, or intended for younger readers. IN THE REARVIEW dives deep into a serious topic few even dare to discuss--cutting--and the journey the main character, Meagan, faces in order to heal her scars. So much pain and power in one book!
Read on to learn more about Maria's haunting novel.
Heartbreak, Healing, Hope.
When Meagan’s secret is found out, and she realizes there is no way to outrun her habit of cutting, she tries to work through it, and her depression, before she cuts too deep, making a mistake that can never be undone.
Meagan's problems aren't like every other adolescent's no matter how much she wishes they could be. Hers are worse. They've pulled her down into the depths of a depression that is anything but normal. She begins her pattern of self-harm as her depression threatens to drown her. She starts with one cut that leads to the next, and the next. After starting, it's apparent that there's no stopping, and Meagan spirals into a dark and cruel world she doesn't understand. Meagan cuts to feel better, but that comfort doesn't last long enough, and soon life is worse than it ever was before.
While learning to quit cutting Meagan faces life-altering obstacles and grows up in the process. IN THE REARVIEW is a story of pain, loss, confusion, and hope told through Meagan’s poems, journal entries, and a splash of narrative.
Meagan stared down at her desk. Her focus moved beyond the assignment in front of her without actually seeing what she was looking toward. There were lines, spaces of white, and blobs of writing, but nothing seemed important enough to consider closely. Truthfully she didn’t care.
She didn’t feel the need to focus.
Her gaze slowly moved up to the front of the classroom, and again she fixated on a point past what was before her. She did not concentrate on the teacher. There was a face, a moving mouth, but she didn’t connect it with the sounds struggling slowly, like sticky sludge past her ears. She didn’t hear the instructions being uttered; each word fell on deaf ears as she mindlessly doodled.
Twisting her hair around her finger, she thought about how nice it would be to be at home, in bed, with the curtains closed instead of in this loud and hyper school. It seemed her classmates had recently started caring too much about what was going on around them. There was too much drama, too much noise, too much concern jumping all around her. It was all so taxing.
It was such a bother.
Meagan, in contrast, was usually in a world of her own. Her head felt fuzzy most of the time, and unless she used a lot of energy, most conversations sounded muffled, like there was cotton in her ears. She didn’t feel the need to engage anymore. Her desire to try so hard just to do what had once come easily had dwindled to nothing. At first she’d tried, but not now. Not anymore. It had become too difficult to care.
And that was her biggest problem. Meagan didn’t care much about any of these changes. She was fine walking through school without any effort. Her feet felt a little heavier as each day passed, and her head felt a little more under pressure of a crushing fog that numbed her, but she pushed through it all. She didn’t mind neglecting what used to bring her excitement. In fact, it was just easier not to give a crap.
Everything was distinctly lackluster these days.
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Maria Green currently lives in Minnesota, despite its bitter winters, with her husband. She graduated with a degree in Psychology and a minor in English. When she isn’t writing, Maria loves to read with a cup of strong coffee or a glass of sweet wine, craft, and spend time with her family. This is her first published novel.
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Today we're taking a break from chattering about books and giveaways and silly characters (OH MY!) to talk nerdy to the writers in the house--specifically those looking for agent representation (querying authors) or those dragging themselves along the bumpy, winding road toward publication. I've asked my friend Kathleen S. Allen to drop a little knowledge about what she's learned about writing contests, which definitely is not my area of expertise. Thanks, Kathleen, for sharing with us what you've learned along the way.
Writing Contests: A Writer's Dream Or a Writer's Nightmare?
By Kathleen S. Allen-YA author
Welcome, thank you for asking me to post a blog about writing contests. I’m a pro at entering them. It started three years ago when I entered my first ever writing contest, PitchWars, run by Brenda Drake three years ago. I entered a middle grade zombie book and was not chosen, although one of the mentors I subbed to said I was in her top five. Then I entered the same manuscript into Baker’s Dozen and didn’t get chosen. I kept querying and got some requests but no agent. Finally, I had to shelve the manuscript because zombies are a “dead” genre right now. Pun intended.
Next, I entered several more contests, The Writer’s Voice, PitchMadness, Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, PitchMAS, Secret Agent Contests on three different blogs, plus Twitter parties galore like #pitmad and #adpit and #SFFpit. This time I had a historical novel I workshopped quite a bit and did get requests but again, no agent. My next book was a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera and I thought it would garner me an agent for sure. Again, I entered it into contests, Like A Virgin in January of this past year and was chosen. I got three requests but no deal. I finally shelved it too after getting feedback on it. Was I frustrated? Yes. Did I want to quit writing? Yes, but only for a day. Would I enter another contest? NO, NEVER. Except, I did.
One of the biggest, if not the biggest, contests on the Interwebs is Brenda Drake’s PitchWars contest. She’s done it for three years in a row and I’ve entered all three years. The first year I entered the MG zombie book, the second year an urban fantasy about witches and this year a young adult dark contemporary. In this contest you get to work one-on-one with a mentor for several weeks to make your manuscript the best it can be and then submit to agents. Many people get agents from this contest but even if you’re not chosen to have a mentor, most of them will give you feedback on why you weren’t chosen, so that’s a plus. She always has a Twitter pitch party to go along with the contest too and those are always fun to see if an agent favors your pitch. This year, the pitch party is on Sept. 9th and only for those who DIDN’T get into Pitch Wars. #PitMad 8AM-8PM, EDT. In this pitch party, you write your best 140 character pitch, including your stakes for agents/editors to favor. If you see a pitch you like, you retweet it, only agents and editors are supposed to click on “favorite.” And you must change up your pitches because Twitter won’t post the same tweet twice.
Is entering a contest better than querying? No, not necessarily. It’s important to do both. The one positive aspect of entering contests is all the other writers you meet who are just as anxious as you are to get your writing noticed. It helps to find other writers who will beta read your work for you (and you do the same for them) or find your Critique Partner who will read ANYTHING you write and comment on it. Usually you learn what mentors are looking for via the hashtag #PitchWars as they go through their slush piles, what works, what doesn’t work, how to hook them and so on. It’s a treasure trove of information.
There are so many more contests now then when I started entering them. My rule is to enter three with the same manuscript (if it gets chosen) and then retire from contests. It is important to note you MUST HAVE A COMPLETED, POLISHED MANUSCRIPT TO ENTER. You can’t have an unpolished, unedited (must be edited by at least three people, not family members) first draft. So, no NaNoWriMo novels (National Novel Writing Month in November, write a 50.000 word novel in thirty days) or Works in Progress (WIPs).
My latest novel, a YA dark contemporary I’m querying and entering into contests has been in two contests so far. Operation Awesome secret agent contest, it got a partial request from an agent I’m waiting to hear back from, another full request and a partial request. I got a full request from a Twitter pitch party although that agent passed on it.
So, the bottom line is this: enter contests, get feedback, apply the feedback if it feels right, keep querying too (unless the contest forbids it) and keep going. You’ll never achieve your dreams if you quit!
Here’s a list of contests and months they’re going on:
· PITCHWARS-August, 2014 see Brenda Drake’s blog for more info: www.brenda-drake.com. #PitMad on Sept. 9th, 2014.
· PITCHPLUS5-August, 2014, run by Adventures in YA Publishing. The contest info is here: http://adventuresinyacontests.blogspot.com
· NIGHTMARE ON QUERY STREET-October, 2014 see Michelle Hauck’s website: www.michelle4laughs.blogspot.com
· BAKER’S DOZEN: www.misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com This one has an entry fee of $10.00. Authoress also runs monthly secret agent contests except for June and December that are free and does blog critiques.
· SUN VS. SNOW-January, 2015, this is another one run by Michelle Hauck at www.michelle4laughs.blogspot.com
· LIKE A VIRGIN-January, 2015, see this for more info: http://likeavirgin.kristinaperez.com/
· THE WRITER’S VOICE-Feb./March, 2015, this one is co-hosted by Brenda Drake and others on this blog: www.monibw.blogspot.com
· QUERY KOMBAT in May, run by www.michelle4laughs.blogspot.com
· AN AGENT’S INBOX-run by Krista Van Dolzer, see her blog for more info: www.kristavandolzer.com
· OPERATION AWESOME-They do monthly secret agent contests. See their blog for more info: www.operationawesome6.blogspot.com
· ADVENTURES IN YA, run several including a workshop and first lines contest: http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/p/contests-workshops.html
· WRITE ON CON, this is an online conference in August, 2014 but there are agents who swing by and might request pages. http://www.writeoncon.com
And I’m probably missing some but keep an eye on Twitter for upcoming contests. Follow these contest people on Twitter: @brendadrake, @michelle4laughs, @OpAwesome6, @AuthoressAnon, @KristaVanDolzer, @martinaAboone, @FeakySnucker, @RhiannWynnNolet
So, is entering a writing contest a dream or a nightmare? Tell me in the comments your experiences with writing contests.
And even though:
Kathleen has published two murder mysteries If It’s Monday, It Must be Murder and If It’s Tuesday, It Must be Trouble, along with a YA contemporary, How To Be Almost Famous in Ten Days with Gypsy Shadow Publishing and two YA fantasy novels,Lore of Fei and War of Fei with Muse It Up Publishing. She has a Master’s in Children’s Literature with an emphasis in creative writing for YA.
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In honor of kids everywhere returning to the hallowed halls of learning, or whatever, I've invited my homegirl Krysten Lindsay Hager over to play a game of Truth or Dare. Well, mostly it's a game of Truth, as she's taking us back to her middle school days with her rad answers.
If you haven't met Krysten before, she's the totally tubular author of TRUE COLORS. TRUE COLORS is about middle-schooler Landry and her group of friends, and the totally outrageous things that happen when Landry ends up on a modeling reality t.v. show. Let's just say, it's not pretty! Middle-schoolers and middle-schoolers at heart will relate to (and cringe along with) Landry and her frenemies.
You can find TRUE COLORS on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and just about anywhere digital books are sold.
Now, for a little Truth or Dare...
Always on time or always late? Oh, I can’t lie. Late. I could have used a Harry Potter invisibility cloak to slip into class unnoticed. In my book, my character Landry always just slips in the door after the bell and that was totally me.
Teacher’s pet, worst nightmare, or fly beneath the radar? Tried to fly under the radar. I can’t say I was a nightmare or anything, but really tried to stay out of the line of vision.
Buy lunch or bring lunch? Bought my lunch. I don’t know if anyone else remembers this from my school, but the cookies always tasted like they weren’t really baked. They ruined chocolate chip cookies for me for years and I never cared for cookie dough ice cream because I didn’t get the appeal of cookie dough. I am pleased to report I never got salmonella and died from those.
Be honest--grafitti on the desk, on the notebook, or both? (Bonus points if also on the bathroom stall door. Bonus points if you don’t tell anyone I’m giving you bonus points for defacing school property.) I went to a strict private school and they would have removed my hands for defacing school property. I did write all over my Trapper Keeper (Mrs. Jon Knight, Mrs. Troy Aikman, Mrs. George Michael.) But in high school, I wrote all on my desk during a math test. We were supposed to do math in our heads, but that just wasn’t going to happen.
Favorite Spirit Week dress-up day? The school colors were blue and gold and the uniform colors were navy and white—I look awful in all of those colors, so really that did nothing for my school spirit. It might have even broken it a little. Landry says she looks like a dead goldfish in her school uniform colors and I second that for myself.
High school mascot? It was a bobcat. In middle school it was a panther. I think a panther could take a bobcat in a fight.
Most embarrassing school memory? I once walked into school with a Velcro roller still stuck in my hair. Not my finest hour.
Worst class ever? Anything with math.
Did you play any sports? If yes, what? Does shopping count? What about lip gloss applying?
Favorite after-school activity? (Bonus points if it involves “After School Special” and you can remember the specific name.) I took dance classes. There may or may not be a video somewhere of me in a and Minnie Mouse costume dancing to “Hey Mickey,” when I was twelve. I was tall and let’s just say I looked older than twelve and the costume looks positively obscene on me. I never thought anyone would see it, but one of the girls in the number went on to be a Rockette or something and they ran that performance of all things on the news because of her. I thought no one would recognize me with my mouse ears, but I got phone calls. I still cringe over that one.
Tell us about your first middle-school boyfriend. (Bonus points if he pegged his pants or had a rat tail.) I think I can accept those bonus points for the pants. He was at least a foot shorter than me and he went to a different school so I felt so cosmopolitan.
Favorite band? The Bangles were my fave in sixth grade and their Everything cover inspired the characters: Landry, Peyton, Devon, and India.
Compare your middle-school hairstyle to an animal. Be creative. (For example, if you sported a mohawk, you could say “skunk” or “porcupine” or something else mohawk-y because that’s all my brain is coming up with right now. Bonus points for a photo of said hairdo.) Probably skunky because there was an unfortunate moment with Sun-In in the 7th grade. However, if you keep up with the Sun-In and the excessive blow drying it will turn dark brown hair from orange to gold to a sickly wheat color.
Celebrity crush? Oh wow, how much time do you have? I liked George Michael for years, Jon Knight, Troy Aikman, Grant Hill, Jalen Rose…those are the ones I remember and am willing to own up to.
Fashion must-have? In middle school we were limited to what we could wear, so bracelets were my go-to for my school uniform (particularly friendship bracelets and bangles), but in high school I was obsessed with Versace jeans. In middle school I owned that Esprit purse that every single girl in my zip code had. I think at one point is was illegal not to own it. I didn’t even like it because I thought it was boring and I wrote a short story about that stupid bag.
Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows (like Hart of Dixie, The Goldbergs, Dallas, and Devious Maids.) She’s worked as a journalist and humor writer, and also writes middle grade, YA, and adult fiction. You can find her work in the Patchwork Path anthologies: Friendship Star, and also Grandma's Choice and in several of the Country Comfort Cookbooks as well as many humor essays and news articles. Her debut novel, TRUE COLORS, was released by Astraea Press this summer. You can see what she’s reading and reviewing at the Book Foodies blog
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And don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway to win a copy of Mindy Mymudes' GEORGE KNOWS or my DANIEL THE DRAW-ER! Only a few more days to share and enter!
It's been, what?, a whole week since my last feature about a talking animal? If you're counting my last "Names Changed To Protect the Innocent" blog about Whiskers, then it's been even less than that. I'm a firm believer that one simply cannot get enough talking animals.
Lucky for all of you that I've got another story--GEORGE KNOWS by Mindy Mymudes--about a smart pup who can communicate with his Girlpup, Karly. Even more cool, GEORGE KNOWS just won a Reader's Favorite award for Children's Books for grades 4-6. Pretty awesome!
Keep reading for more about the award-winning GEORGE KNOWS. And when you're done reading about George, don't forget to enter to win a Kindle version of GEORGE KNOWS or my book, DANIEL THE DRAW-ER. Giveaway ends at 12 a.m. on 09/13/14!
An egotistical magical basset hound named George believes it's his duty to train and protect his 12-year-old Girlpup, a greenwitch named Karly. He and his Girlpup must solve a murder as well as save their park from being developed. George is the perfectly designed familiar for the job.
I don’t understand my Girlpup; the rest of my Pack adores me. Packmom Doreen is always an easy conquest. She saved me when I was a puppy and I fell over my ears, and my legs wouldn’t stay under me. She is the most important member of the Pack—she feeds us.
Just not often enough.
Packdad Brian is very well trained and does whatever Packmom Doreen wants. In the last two years, I’ve become a model of the perfect hunting hound. Karly needs to see me for what I am, and she doesn’t.
When I prowl in her mind, I see how she pictures me—a clumsy, stupid, wobbly pup. I shouldn’t have to prove to her I am the best familiar in the world or that I am brilliant. I shouldn’t, but I know I’ll have to.
“George!” she shouts through panting. Why is she running? “Where the heck are you?”
Although Karly’s scent changed after her twelfth birthday from sweetmilkFrootLoops to that fakeflowerchemical that she thinks removes her odor, I know it’s her. Even if I can’t smell her, I can still hear her stumble over the path. Big rocks and trees that scrape the sky get in the way. She needs to get lower to the ground. Now she’s sneezing. If only she’d work with me, her allergies would go bye-bye. Whoever heard of an allergic witch-in-training? We can use green magic. But Karly will first have to trust me.
And she doesn’t.
Maybe when she gets older.
I continue to scrape my claws into the damp ground, searching for more smelltastes and listening for my Girlpup. She’s panting like it’s a hot day. At least she’s catching up. I am satisfied she’s okay, and dig like a badger with my wonderful big paws and claws, the ideal excavation tools. I wish I was digging up the den of a rabbit. I slow to sniff.
There’s no rabbit here.
Something different’s calling me.
What the heck is it?
Dirt and roots pile up behind me, and my rear is now higher than my front as I dig. I scrape against rocks and try to push them away. They aren’t rocks—too long and thin. I wrap my jaws around one and toss it with a headshake out of the hole. I find another and do the same thing, until there is a pile of buff-colored things that look like bleached driftwood.
I heave myself out of the hole and investigate my find. The thick sticks are hairy with fine roots. I pick one up. It’s light for its size, hollow, and about the size of a rawhide bone. It has a round knob on one side and is broken off on the other. I retrieve more pieces from the hole and sit.
Maybe they are old branches.
They don’t smelltaste like old branches.
Karly finally shows up, huffing and puffing, out of breath. She needs to get out more. I poke my nose into the pile of things I’ve dug out. “George, what are you doing? You aren’t, um, eating those, are you?”
I look at her like she’s crazy. I don’t eat wood.
Karly points to the things and counts them. “So what did you find? There are nine of whatever they are.” She bends down and touches one. “Weird, they look like someone snapped them in half.” My Girlpup takes one of the longer things and rubs off the dirt.
She drops it like it’s a pan just out of the oven. I take a sniff; it’s not hot. There’s something here, though.
Not a good something, either.
“G-G-George, those are bones,” Karly’s voice breaks as she stutters over my name. I take another sniff. Yeah, they could be bones. What’s the problem with that? I lick one. It tastes like dirt. They’ve been here a long time.
Just a bunch of animal bones. Maybe a big dog buried them. What’s bothering her? The hackles rise on the back of my neck. The not good gassulfurdrysnakecatstink smelltaste spins around my brain like smoke.
I hack and cough. I know exactly what kind of bones these are.
I look Karly in the eye and push a picture of a Halloween skeleton. I know she doesn’t like it when I go into her head without permission, but this is important. I am not sharing the good stuff, like manure, rotting fish, and dead animals.
“No way. These aren’t human bones,” she squeaks and backs up.
Nope, she can’t ignore these. I pick one up gently between my teeth and carry it to her feet. I carefully place it in front of her toes then shake my muzzle, lips flopping from side to side, trying to get the taste of Peep bone out of my mouth. Peep bone.
Bassets do not eat Peeps’ bones. We only chew non-peep bones. We need our Peeps to hunt for our fresh, meaty bones.
“George, leave it. We need to talk to Aunt Heather about them. She’ll know if they’re human or not, and what to do if they are.” Karly gulps. “If they aren’t…I hope they aren’t. You’ve never smelled human bones, so how’d you know?”
Um, I am your familiar. I have magical skills? There’s something off about the bones, and a weak scent gets stronger as I inhale.
It’s a really bad smelltaste.
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About Mindy Mymudes
Mindy Mymudes runs with the Muddy Paws Pack in Milwaukee, WI. She insists she is alpha, even as the dogs walk all over her.
She's worked in a hazardous waste lab, where under the sign for the Right To Know law, was added: if you can figure it out. she's been a metals tech, a bakery clerk, a professional gardener, and taught human anatomy and ran two university greenhouses. Along the way she picked up her Master's Degree in Biology, specializing in the population genetics of an endangered plant. She is also a top breeder, handler, trainer of English springer spaniels, with three in the equivalent of the National Club's (ESSFTA) hall of fame. Every time she thinks she knows dogs, another dog comes along and proves her beliefs are totally wrong.
Mindy Mymudes is actually the Nom De Thumbs for me, Mandy, a well known English springer spaniel.
Connect with Mindy... Uh... Mandy? Mymudes
Today I'm happy to host author Jo Noelle... or should I say authors Jo Noelle? Jo Noelle is the pen name of a mother and daughter writing team made up of Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson (Hey, Deanna! Cool last name!). While some ladies write and publish one book at a time, today I'm floored to announce three, count 'em, THREE brand new releases by this duo.
First, let's learn a little bit about Canda and Deanna (collectively Jo Noelle, remember). Then we'll move onto each of the three books, and give readers a chance to enter a super-fantastic giveaway for $100 Amazon Gift Card (swooooooon!). Grab your favorite drink and let's get down to some serious girl talk.
1. What music do you like?
Deanna: I don’t know how to answer that. Do you mean today? I listen to everything, rock, classical, rap, alternative, opera. And I know the words and sing along—with the opera songs sometimes I sing gibberish until I know the words again.
Canda: Rock. I like rock. Not soft rock—it’s not really rock. I like alternative too. My favorite bands are (in order of their appearance in my life) KISS, Aerosmith, (I really liked the BeeGees but I’ll deny it in public), Nirvana, Good Charlotte, and Linkin Park.
2. What kind of books do you like?
Deanna: I like “issue” book. I like self-helpy books. I like YA romance and Chick-lit. Oh and travel books especially the ones with itineraries that tell you what to eat where and give you maps.
Canda: I like snarky characters, romance is the story not the subplot, and paranormal is a big plus. I hate contemporary literary fiction. Gahhh! Too many issues to deal with in my spare time.
3. What is your favorite snack?
Deanna: chocolate covered macadamia nut with caramel cluster things you buy at Costco.
Canda: Peanut M&Ms
4. Teaser for your book in one sentence?
Falling in love is easy in fiction--in high school, not so much.
5. What is your writing process?
We make an outline, chuck it out the window before chapter 2, we argue, negotiate, plead, pout, sometimes threaten to quit. Then we compromise and keep writing. And we laugh a lot.
6. What was your road to publication like?
We wrote the books, rewrote them a few times, got lots of feedback, rewrote them again, sent them to an editor, rewrote, another editor, rewrote.
7. Favorite dessert?
Deanna: Muddy Buddies
Canda: chocolate mousse
About the Books
Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life
Lexi Middleton has been socially invisible to her classmates, but starting her junior year, that’s going to change. First, she’s determined to hook a boyfriend, ensuring dates with flowers and possible kisses on the doorstep. Second, she wants to be a writer for the school paper, even though it freaks her out to think of everyone judging her by her punctuation and metaphors. High school is difficult enough—keeping up her grades, dealing with increasing sibling rivalry, and trying to stay out of the way of her personal nemesis, Amberlee—but when Lexi catches the eye of her long-time crush, she also becomes the focus of mean-girl tactics. Caught between who she was and who she wants to be, Lexi must decide how to confront a bully, and choose who to let into her heart.
Cassie is going to heaven—if she can get amnesty from hell in the next twenty days. Her assignment is to change the eternal destination of a girl in Albuquerque to earn admittance into heaven.
But when Cassie returns to earth during her three-week, mostly-mortal assignment, her old habits get in the way, (apparently habits don’t die when you do), the partners assigned to help her are anything but helpful, and it turns out the girl she is supposed to help is the only enemy she made on her first day of school.
Oh, I’m so going to hell.
Things aren’t all bad—it helps to have a hot angel on your side. Mmm-Marc. Even though he’s all about heavenly business, Cassie would like to make it personal.
Assignment with benefits.
The housing market is crashing, and Sophie’s life is crashing with it. At twenty-four, her successful real estate career evaporates. She’s broke, can’t find a job, or pay her bills, leaving Sophie wondering how her successful lifestyle became so fragile.
At the urging of her roommate, Sophie accepts a job in her fallback career—teaching six-year-olds. She hopes it’s temporary. After all, how long can a tanking economy last anyway? The best part of the new job is Liam, another employee at Rio Grande Elementary. The worst part of the new job is, well, teaching.
Sophie has a surprise real estate closing from a contract she wrote months ago, leading her to a niche in the real estate market and to a new partner, Kevin. Sophie must choose between Liam or Kevin and between a lucrative career or recess duty.
Meet Jo Noelle
Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids.
She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains.
Oh, and by the way, she’s two people—Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.
Enter Jo Noelle's Rafflecopter Giveaway
Connect with Jo Noelle and Get Your Own Copies
Amazon Author Page
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Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life
Visit the Other Blog Hop Participants!
1. Procrastination Station
2. Lala's Books
3. Weaving a Tale or Two
4. Adrienne Monson
5. S. J. Henderson, Author (MOI!)
6. Lindzee Armstrong/Lydia Winters
7. Renae's Writespot
8. Author, Julie L. Casey
9. Christy Dorrity
10. Writing Robin
11. Jordan McCollum
12. Lisa Swinton, Queen of Random
13. Word Paintings Unlimited, Author Sherry Gammon
14. Cortney Pearson
15. Canda's InkBlast
The random things that cross my mind go here...
All Rights Reserved, S. J. Henderson 2014