Joanne Levy Talks About SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE!

25 May

Hey everyone! I’m finally getting things in order after the YAmazing Race with MGnificent prizes! And this week, helping to get us all back into the groove of things with an all new guest post, is Joanne Levy , author of the absolutely adorable SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE. Here’s a little more about her debut:  

After she’s hit by lightning at a wedding, twelve-year-old Lilah Bloom develops a new talent: she hears dead people. Among them, there’s her over-opinionated bubby Dora; a comically prissy fashion designer; and an approval-seeking clown who livens up a seance. With Bubby Dora leading the way, these and other sweetly imperfect ghosts haunt Lilah through seventh grade, and help her face her one fear: talking to and possibly going to the seventh-grade dance with her big crush, Andrew Finkel.

Ooh! Spooky. If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good ghost in my story. And now for Joanne, and a little more about her favorite female characters!

Hi Ellie! Thanks so much for having me here at your blog today. I love the sound of ZIP (and that cover is lovely) and can’t wait to get myself a copy in September!

Now, down to business. When people ask me about my favorite female characters, my mind immediately goes to Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. Not only is she Canadian (like me) and does she have red hair (like me) but she’s also adopted (like me) and gets herself into a lot of scrapes and funny situations, because she’s an independent thinker who sometimes doesn’t think things through (this is not like me AT ALL—I never make stupid impulsive decisions EVER!) which makes her a flawed but amazing character that everyone (not just Canadian adopted redheads) can relate to. If you or your readers are interested, I wrote a post at The Debutante Ball about my great love for Anne, and how she is so relatable, but here I’m going to talk about how she influenced my writing.

First things first: Anne didn’t take any crap from anyone. Not from Gilbert Blythe (who really only teased her because she caught his eye) and not from the world at large. In a time when girls only wore dresses, basic education wasn’t always guaranteed and higher education for women was rare, Anne thrived and was always looking to better herself. She never would have settled, just because she was a girl. If anything, she worked even harder to prove herself to be as good (or, as the case often was, better) than anyone else, girl or boy.

Anne never let typical gender roles stop her from anything. Ever. Now, this isn’t a post about feminism, but the way things were when Anne lived, meant a lot of what she did would have been frowned upon because of how people viewed the roles of women. But the way Anne fearlessly lived her life and never let anything (except maybe herself) get in her way, has always been an inspiration to me. I don’t see myself as a girl, per se, but as a person who navigates her way through life using her brain and the tools she was given—and this is how I write my characters.

When I look at my main character, Lilah, from SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE, I see she is a strong, capable girl; she wantsto be a drummer in a band and helps out some ghosts when they come to her for assistance with their unfinished business and even saves the eighth-grade fashion show from being a total disaster. Sure, she makes mistakes sometimes, but that’s how life is, especially when you’re twelve and are learning who you are and how you fit in your own skin. But Lilah always stands up for herself and uses her brain to solve her problems. And even if she fails, she tries again and never lets anyone tell her she can’t do something, because she knows better.

That’s how Anne Shirley lived her life, how I try to live mine, and that’s how I want my characters to as well.

Learn more about JOANNE, and SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE, here!


And the winner is….

11 May

First of all, THANKS TO ALL OF YOU! This contest was such a success, and I just can’t thank you all enough for stopping by my little blog and helping me promote ZIP. I had a blast this last week and I hope that you all did, too.

And now, without further ado, the winner of a bright, shiny ZIP ARC is















Desiree Thompson!

I already have your email Desiree, so I’ll shoot you a message and grab your address. And thanks, again, to everyone who entered. You can find ZIP in stores on 9/27/2012 or you can pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound or your favorite local bookstore.

Regular middle grade author interviews will resume on Monday! I hope to see a bunch of you new followers there.

YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes!

1 May

Hey everyone! Welcome to my stop on the YAmazing Race with MGnificent prizes, a blog hop featuring over 50 debut authors, and prize packs that include ARCs, gift certificates, swag, and more! If you haven’t yet been to the Apocalypsies website, please click here to start from the beginning and read the complete rules.

Now grab your scooter and lets get racing!

Zip, by Ellie Rollins

When Lyssa’s mother died, so did the magic – that special something that always made the sunflowers grow taller and the strawberry jelly taste sweeter. Now that her mother is gone, Lyssa struggles to get used to a life of the Ordinary with her kind but clueless stepfather in Kirkland, Washington. But secretly, she longs for change.

Then one day change does come, when the most peculiar occurrence brings Lyssa alarming news about her childhood home. Fiercely determined, Lyssa climbs onto her scooter, Zip, and sets off cross-country to save her home.

On her odyssey, Lyssa meets some decidely unusual people, from rowdy cowgirls to a chorus line of singing mermaids. With new friends by her side and the winds of change at her back, Lyssa discovers adventure at every turn – and uncovers her mother’s magic, little by little, all along the way.

Whew! Questions? Comments? Concerns? 

Make sure you have all of that information stored away for later because there’s a quiz ahead. Remember, you have to complete all five quizzes to be eligible for a prize pack.

Don’t zip off just yet! There’s a BONUS CONTEST HERE!

And, guys, it’s super easy to enter. All you have to do is leave a comment with your email address below, and you could win an ARC of ZIP! Bonus entries if you:

***Put the code letter(s) in your comment to tell me what you did!

  • Tell me your favorite form of wheeled transportation. Are any of you super surprised that mine’s a scooter? But not a Lyssa scooter – more like a Vespa scooter. For example:

Uhm…obsessed. Just totally obsessed.

Thanks for stopping by! Ready to move on?

Click HERE to go to the next stop on the race!


30 Apr
Hey everyone! This week I’m super-psyched to host James Mihaley, author of YOU CAN’T HAVE MY PLANET BUT TAKE MY BROTHER, PLEASE (that title–can’t even get over how much I love it!) Here’s a little more about his debut:

Thirteen-year-old Giles is the last person anyone would expect to save the planet. he’s not as charming as his little sister, and not as brainy as his goody-goody older brother. But when Giles witnesses an alien realtor showing Earth to possible new tenants, he knows he’d better do something. With the help of an alien “attorney” and the maddest scientist in middle-grade fiction, Giles just might save humans from eviction from Earth. Let’s hope so. The alternatives are…not so hospitable.

But wait, you say! The main character in that book isn’t a little girl – it’s a boy! Maybe, but YOU CAN’T HAVE MY PLANET BUT TAKE MY BROTHER, PLEASE contains some of the coolest female characters in fiction. Read on to learn more!

My four favorite female characters in literature all reside in my middle grade novel, ‘You Can’t Have My Planet But Take My Brother, Please’. What a coincidence that they’re all in one book! Although I have a male protagonist, and the whacky humor and sci-fi adventure appeal to boys, I was committed to creating female characters who were vibrant and unforgettable. Here they are:

1. Tula: She is a thirteen year old alien environmental lawyer. Tula is representing humanity against the forces who are trying to evict us from Earth because we’re such lousy tenants. She is brilliant, fearless and has major connections, like Dr. Melissa Sprinkles.

2. Dr. Melissa Sprinkles: She is an alien mad scientist. She invented an army of androids that can turn paper back into trees and will help restore Earth to its original splendor. Dr. Sprinkles has a moveable face. When you’re talking to her, it will dart all over her body, so you really need to stay focused.

3. Nikki: She is the six year old little sister of my main character, Giles. Nikki is a violin prodigy. In the book she plays the sheet music for the Music Of The Spheres. The real Music Of The Spheres, composed in Infinity. The hypnotic notes from Nikki’s violin create a sound frequency which helps trigger an environmental miracle on Earth.

4. Princess Petulance: On the dark side we have the Princess. She is hoping the humans will get evicted. Then she will take over Earth. She has a pirate tattoo on her arm. He is alive. He has a miniature cannon and likes to aim it at people. Watch out. There’s a pea-sized cannonball coming at you right now!

Rachel Grinti, Author of CLAWS, Talks Tamora Pierce

23 Apr

Hey there everyone! 

I took a little hiatus last week to rethink the blog schedule. In honor of MG Monday (a concept I love!) I’ve decided to switch my interviews and guest posts with great debut writers to Mondays instead of Tuesdays. Work for you? Great! 

This week I’m happy to host Rachel Grinti, author of CLAWS. Here’s a little more about her debut: 

Emma’s sister is missing. Her parents have spent all their savings on the search. And now the family has no choice but to live in a ramshackle trailer park on the edge of the forest, next door to down-and-out harpies, hags, and trolls. Emma wonders if she’ll ever see Helena, and if she’ll ever feel happy, again.

Then she makes a friend.

A smooth-talking, dirty-furred cat named Jack. He’s got a razor-sharp plan to rescue Emma’s sister. He just wants one small favor in return…

CLAWS comes out September 1st, 2012. Read on to hear about Rachel’s favorite female characters: 

I sat down to think about my favorite heroine in literature… and I got stuck. Too many awesome girls come to mind, and there’s no way I can choose just one! There are a few heroines who stand out because of the impact they had on me when I was younger. I loved reading about awesome, adventurous heroines. Characters who did things I couldn’t — and by that, I don’t just mean saving the world. I was a pretty shy kid, and I retreated into fantasy worlds I could imagine myself being part of.

There was Cimorene from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, Karana from Island of the Blue Dolphins, Julie from Julie of the Wolves.

And there was Alanna, the lady knight of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. When I was twelve, I came across In the Hand of the Goddess at the local library. It was book 2 in a series I’d never read, and the cover was faded and dingy, but it came home with me anyway. I went back for the rest of the books, and I was hooked. Alanna was a character my own age with magic and knights and castles and awesome things like that. She was a girl who set goals and succeeded when the world told her she couldn’t. And she also dealt with getting her first period and stumbling through relationships. She was heroic, but she also felt real, so that made her awesome.

The first random gift I ever gave my husband when we started dating was a copy of Alanna: The First Adventure after I found out he’d never read it. I think the influence on our characters is something harder to define. We wanted to write strong girls that kids can relate to. They struggle with the same things, even when they live in completely different worlds.

When Mike and I wrote CLAWS, we knew it was going to be about a strong girl fighting to put her family back together again. When she realizes her parents can’t solve their problems, she takes it upon herself. She gets some pretty powerful magic powers, but magic alone can’t solve everything — and sometimes it can make things worse. Emma’s real strength is in her ability to stay true to herself, even when she’s faced with easier options.

…I also just realized both Emma and Alanna have talking cats.

Learn more about Rachel, and CLAWS, here. 

Girls (uhm, I mean, er, women) I Love: Ashley Judd

12 Apr

 Coolest thing to happen all week? When Ashley Judd completely pwned entertainment media with this insightful, intelligent essay she wrote about the sexist coverage of women in the media.

Basically, if you don’t spend all of your time reading articles that catalog every slight imperfection of women in the media, a bunch of entertainment websites had a heyday when Ashley Judd appeared in public looking every so slightly less than perfect. (THE NERVE!) Basically, her face was a little puffy and instead of oh, I don’t know–asking her why (not that it matters but if we’re going to play devil’s advocate here) they concocted a bunch of far fetched, strange rumors about plastic surgery and her, basically, losing her touch.

Ashley then became my ultimate hero by, as I mentioned above, writing the coolest thing ever.

Read the essay. Discuss. Add your thoughts in the comments.

Jenn Reese, Author of ABOVE WORLD, talks THE WESTING GAME

10 Apr

Today on the blog Jenn Reese, author of ABOVE WORLD, which which came out in February, stops by to write about THE WESTING GAME. Here’s a little more info about her amazing debut, ABOVE WORLD: 

Thirteen-year-old Aluna has lived her entire life under the ocean with the Coral Kampii in the City of Shifting Tides. But after centuries spent hidden from the Above World, her colony’s survival is in doubt. The Kampii’s breathing necklaces are failing, but the elders are unwilling to venture above water to seek answers. Only headstrong Aluna and her friend Hoku are stubborn and bold enough to face the terrors of land to search for way to save their people. 

But can Aluna’s warrior spirit and Hoku’s tech-savvy keep them safe? Set in a world where overcrowding has led humans to adapt—growing tails to live under the ocean or wings to live on mountains—here is a ride through a future where greed and cruelty have gone unchecked, but the loyalty of friends remains true.

Ohmigod it’s like warrior version of the Little Mermaid! Love it. And now, Jenn: 

This is Jenn's childhood copy of THE WESTING GAME. How cute is that?

Before I started reading adult fantasy and science fiction novels — a pastime that occupied most of my teen years — I was in a special Newbery program. Instead of attending class, I got to go to the library and read as many Newbery winners and honor books as I wanted. (Which, it turns out, was all of them.) I think Karana from Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins is an amazing heroine — caring, resilient, smart, and the ultimate survivor. She’d be an easy pick, and is definitely one of the toughest heroines I’ve ever enjoyed adventuring with. But there’s another girl who will always be my favorite inspiration: Turtle Wexler from Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game.

Turtle, an unrepentant tomboy, is the second daughter of Grace Windsor Wexler and a perpetual disappointment to her mother. Unlike Angela, Grace’s favorite daughter, Turtle is rude, unkempt, and almost repulsively independent. If someone pulls her pigtail, she kicks them in the shin. Turtle rides her bike everywhere, can go toe-to-toe in an argument with boys much older than herself, and is brave despite her insecurities and fears. When we first hear the tale of how two boys died and went insane after venturing into the haunted Westing house, Turtle is no sooner done shivering when she offers to go into the house herself… for the right price. She may not have to hunt for food or fight wild dogs like O’Dell’s Karana, but she has to survive a mother who clearly disdains her and a family in which she feels she has no place. And truly, that is no small task.

Much like Turtle, Aluna in my novel Above World feels lost and forgotten in her family. She’s the youngest of five, and her brothers and sister are all successful and wildly popular members of the underwater Kampii community. Even her father is a law-abiding Elder, respected and admired by everyone. Aluna is alone, struggling to stay true to herself in a world that seems to be pushing her to become something she’s not. Kampii women can’t be hunters — not when the community needs more babies — yet Aluna longs to wield a spear and hunt in the wide ocean. And just as Turtle volunteers to enter Westing’s haunted house by herself, Aluna goes where no one else in her community is brave enough to venture — out of the water to the Above World. She doesn’t do it on a dare, but to find some way to save her people.

Aluna and Turtle don’t look much alike — Aluna keeps her hair short so it doesn’t get in her way, whereas Turtle wields her infamous braid like a weapon. But the influence is there. They are both outsiders, the forgotten, the so-called disappointments, and they both far exceed other people’s expectations of them by staying true to themselves.

Learn more about Jenn and ABOVE WORLD here!