Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Just accepted an offer for my next book.

 I'm excited. So excited that later on in this blog post, I actually use two exclamation points.

This book is by far the biggest, most ambitious thing I've ever written. After three entire years of writing and editing, many months of pitching, and one final month of negotiation, my agent, the esteemed Abigal Samoun of Red Fox Literary, has accepted an offer from my dear friends at Holiday House. The offer is for my next book, which has a working title of...

The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith

That title definitely may change along the way, but it will likely be something close-ish to that.

The likely publication date is fall of 2022, which is an entire year from now. That may sound like a long way off, but by publishing-standards is actually pretty speedy. Lots of stars need to align to get a book edited, illustrated, designed, marketed, reviewed, and distributed. I'm fine with that schedule.

Holiday House published my last middle-grade novel, The Bottle Imp of Bright House. That means I get to work with one of my favorite editors, Kelly Loughman. Kelly is smart, demanding, and delightful. I like that combo in an editor.

The elevator pitch for this book is basically this:

Eden Smith, a young teen girl, loses both her parents when a meteor crushes them while visiting the conservatory at Wright Park in Tacoma. After years in foster care, her grandfather is finally located and she moves in with him. But her grandfather, Vulcan Smith, lives in an old folks home for master metalworkers, The Guild Hall of Smiths. Eden is the only child in the place. And Vulcan, a legendary master smith, has just been stripped of his standing and imprisoned in a basement room. The only way Eden can restore her grandfather to his former glory is to complete the Five Impossible Tasks. But surviving them may be the hardest task of all!!

There's lots of adventure, lots of fascinating elderly characters, a few mechanical birds, lots of smithing, and many servings of pudding. 

Add it to your 2022 Christmas shopping list now!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

A few sample goodreads reviews of A is for Apple, Unless...

I'm always a bit terrified of reading reviews of my own books. I've generally gotten strong reviews, with a few daggers to the heart here and there. Here is a sample of the mostly great (and one not-so-great) reader reviews from goodreads:

I obviously enjoyed the "funniest book I've ever read comment." I like knowing "kids will love this one," because I write for kids, not for their parents. But I also liked the negative review, because it shows who my audience is NOT. Mama Bearian is clearly not my sweet spot. She is probably a nice mama bear, and clearly cares for her kids. But I do like to believe that her bear cubs would probably find this book to be hilarious.

My own dear old mother was also very careful of the media I consumed, but really only when it came to movies and TV. She pretty much let me read whatever I wanted, because she believed reading itself was good for me. I'm grateful for that. Thanks, Mom.

Oh, and you have to love any review that uses the word abecedarian. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Read-thru video of A is For Apple...Unless

Check out my read-thru video of A is for Apple...Unless. Watch this for your kids for nearly 13 minutes of free virtual babysitting.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

This is why I write funny books

 I don't really do Big Message books. I don't ever expect to win a Newberry Medal. I'm OK with that. I write escapism. I write adventure stories. I write funny. I like spooky tales that you want to read out loud around a campfire. And I rarely write a book that doesn't have at least one poop joke in it. 

I think my books are important.

When I was five years old and just starting to learn to read, my dad died. I was the youngest of five kids, so Mom's hands weren't just full. They were overflowing with housework, schoolwork, actual work, and her own grieving. Each of my older siblings was processing their own grief in their own ways. Me, too. 

I turned to books. I was a naturally quiet kid and as soon as I learned to read,  I started blazing through whatever I could get my hands on. But I sure as hell wasn't looking to read about the five stages of grief. I didn't want to read about Old Yeller dying or find out Where The Red Fern Grows. Those books are amazing, but they weren't what I needed right then. I was starving for comfort and I needed mac and cheese more than I needed broccoli.

So I read Roald Dahl. I read Spider-Man comics. And I read Mad Magazine. I escaped. I laughed. I felt better. I read those books, comics, and magazines over and over so many times that I nearly memorized them. Quotes from them still rattle around in my head today. I can still recite the entire Augustus Gloop song. I still know the plots of many movies only from the Mad satires, and I still want to end my paragraphs with "'Nuff said," just like Stan Lee did.

My latest book is a picture book--A Is For Apple, Unless... It's a very irreverent ABC book, full of references to poop, farts, barfing, and other bathroom humor. Some reviewers are sure to find it wholly lacking in merit. So why write it?

Today, I received a note from a woman named Kelcey, who said she was ordering "quite a few" copies of this book for the Rachel Lynn Henly Foundation, a local organization that "strives to help children and young adults live with a cancer diagnosis while also working toward finding cures." They plan to get the books to some of the kids in the hematology and oncology department at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital here in Tacoma. Because those kids need comfort. They need mac and cheese. They need jokes.

Sometimes, when the world is painful and when we're all hurting, we all need a joke.

What do I need? Every now and then, I need a note like this, to remind me why I write what I write.

Oh, and here's a picture of the beautiful Rachel, a local hero, and a powerful wordsmith in her own right. Rachel, your power lives on.