Q&A with Kristina McBride

Kristina McBride, author of A Million Times Goodnight, joins us to answer some questions!

A Million Times Goodnight explores the power we all have to alter our own future.” Gwendolyn Heasley, author of Don’t Call A Million Times Goodnight_cover-REVISEDMe Baby and Where I Belong

“The novel is a fast-paced thriller with plot twists, intrigue, and revelations practically on every page. . . . Clever, taut storytelling.” —Kirkus Reviews

“This is a wild ride . . . Readers who are looking for a fast-paced thriller of a touch of romance may enjoy this title.” School Library Journal


Why did you gravitate to writing young adult fiction?

Before I began writing full-time, I spent eight years teaching high school English. This helped me to relate to the teen voice and mindset. My first attempt at a novel was an adult suspense/thriller, which didn’t garner any agent interest during the query phase. After completing the manuscript, I realized that the teenaged son of the main character seemed to jump off the page. This is the moment I realized I needed to write about teens for teens. The teenage years are such a compelling time of life with so much at stake, offering an endless supply of story ideas.

What are you reading right now?

I recently finished Wandering Wild by Jessica Taylor, which was a beautiful read for so many reasons. I highly recommend. I’m currently reading Asylum by Madeleine Roux. I love creepy.

If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

Oh my God, seriously? A character—as in ONE? Not fair. Today, I would have to go with Max from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Because King of All Wild Things? And wild rumpus? Just cool.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

My home, IMG_0017preferably in the kitchen because I can spread my writing materials (notebooks and outlines and edit notes) on the table around me. When the family is home, I sneak to the master bedroom hideaway, where I set up an ironing board and drag in a kitchen chair, then turn the fan on HIGH for white noise. (Super glam, I know.) It’s the only way to have peace and quiet for an extended period.

Yes, that is an ironing board.




What’s your favorite classic movie?

Does The Goonies count? Or Pretty In Pink? Sixteen Candles? Or maybe The Breakfast Club? Because I love all of those. I’m a huge fan of The Princess Bride. Oh! And Dazed and Confused. That’s a classic, right? (More evidence that YA is the best genre for me.)


If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

Falkor the Luck Dragon from The Neverending Story because he’s a kind, funny, protective type. He’s also cute. And he flies. Not to mention that I always said my puppy, Gertie, looked just like him.


Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

I don’t understand. Is this an error in punctuation? Or a real question? Because yes, yes, and yes. (Although I gravitate to white chocolate least of the three.)

What’s your favorite holiday?DSC05480

The Fourth of July. Hands down. It’s summer, which means sticky, hot, must-be-at-the-pool weather. It’s a family day and a friends-who-feel-like-family day. There are parades and cookouts and fireflies. There’s music and laughter and almost always a little dancing. And then the evening ends with a touch of magic as kids of all sizes and ages watch fireworks blast through the night sky. Nothing better.

What’s your favorite GIF?

Currently? (This changes often.)


What did you want to grow up to be when you were eighteen years old?

When I was eighteen years old, I wanted to be exactly who and what I am today:

  • married to my best friend
  • mother to a couple of amazing kids
  • part of an kick-ass group of sister friends
  • an author with several books out in the world, and several more percolating in that dreamy phase of almost-ready-to-begin-drafting

I’m so thankful that I am living my dream life. How did this all work out? It wasn’t luck. (At least not all of it.) Key Factor: I made some really hard decisions along the way—break-ups with “friends” and guys and even a wonderful job teaching high school English—to make sure I stayed the course. I also didn’t take no for an answer (hello, 2.5 years of rejection before my first published novel). Keep your focus on your goals, honor your truest desires with no apologies, strive for them as you move through the stages of life, and there’s no telling what you can accomplish.

One night. Two paths. Infinite danger.A Million Times Goodnight_cover-REVISED

On the night of the big spring break party, seventeen-year-old Hadley “borrows” her boyfriend Ben’s car without telling him. As payback, he posts a naked picture of her online for the entire senior class to see.

Now Hadley has a choice. She can go back to the party and force Ben to delete the picture. Or she can raise the stakes and take his beloved car on a road trip as far away from their hometown of Oak Grove, Ohio, as she can get.

Each storyline plays out in alternating chapters. In one strand, Hadley embarks on a reckless adventure with her best friends, spinning the perfect plan for revenge. In the other, stuck in a car with her ex-boyfriend, Josh, she’s forced to revisit the mistakes they each made, including whether they should ever have broken up at all. As events of a wild night race toward an explosive conclusion, old feelings are rekindled, friendships are tested, and secrets uncovered that are so much worse than a scandalous photo.

A Million Times Goodnight is a fast-paced romantic contemporary thriller ripped right from the headlines.

Kristina McBride is a former English teacher and yearbook advisor. She dreamed of being a published author since she lived across the street from a library as a kid. She is the author of two previous novels, The Tension of Opposites and One Moment. She lives in  Ohio with her husband and two young children.


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Q&A with Michele Bacon

Life Before Converse

Michele Bacon—author of Life Before—takes on the Sky Pony Q & A. Life Before is on sale now!


“A riveting story told in a voice that will resonate with teens. . . . Bacon weaves a captivating narrative of a boy who is able to journey into adulthood by overcoming a childhood filled with abuse. Though dark in nature, the work does not delve too deep into the horrors of abuse, making it appropriate for younger teens. A great read-alike for teens who enjoyed Alex Flinn’s Breathing Underwater, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, or Sharon Draper’s “Hazelwood High Trilogy.” —School Library Journal

Q: Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I love the teen years, when opportunity, energy, and idealism intersect. I used to write solely for adults, but I find teen ideas and risks very compelling. Writing for teens is fun.


Q: What are you reading right now?

Seattle Public Library is hosting Book Bingo this summer, so I’m working diligently on my bingo card. Right now, I’m reading A.R. Kahler’s Shades of Darkness for my “local author” square, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me for the “prize winner” square. I’m torn about what my summer “re-read” will be!Minerva


Q: If you could be a character in any children’s book, who would you be and why?

Minerva McGonagall. I love the magical world of Harry Potter, but the young wizards eventually grow into different lives. Minerva spends her life among young, vibrant minds learning magic and discovering who they are meant to be. I could hardly wish for better.


Q: Where’s your favorite place to write? 

I would love to have a private office, replete with whiteboard walls and bulletin boards for all my notes and plots. The desk corner should support an electric kettle and tiny fridge for milk and fruit and, out the window, a view of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains would be divine! But I write on my sofa with my computer in my lap.


Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

“It’s a Wonderful Life”, but I also loved “The Godfather, Part II.” In new classics, if there is such a thing, I love “The Big Chill.” Yes, it’s campy, but I’ve always wanted that circle of friends in a big house for a long weekend, cooking and dancing and loving together. The mourning is necessary in the movie, but my perfect weekend would go without.

Woolly Mammoth


Q: If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?

Had you said imaginary, I would have chosen a dragon, no contest. With real animals, I narrowed it to a half dozen and will choose at random: a woolly mammoth.


Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Milk chocolate.


Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving has been my favorite for many years. It unites us as a nation, and doesn’t involve mindless consumerism.


Q: What’s your favorite emoji? 

The heart. When I really love something, I express it like this:  hearts


Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were your character’s age?

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be an author and a mother.

Life BeforeSeventeen years is a long time to keep secrets, and Xander Fife has gotten very good at it.

Everyone believes Xander has a normal life and a normal family. If he can just get through this summer, he’ll start his real life in college with a clean slate—no risk, no drama, no fear.

Even better, his plans for summer are awesome: lots of pick-up soccer, relaxing afternoons with friends, and an epic road trip. Xander is banking on some long-overdue nights with his ideal girlfriend, the amazing Gretchen Taylor.

Instead of kicking off what had promised to be an amazing summer, however, graduation day brings terror. His family’s secrets are thrust out into the open, and Xander must confront his greatest fear. And survive doing so.

Armed with a fake ID, cash, and a knife, Xander skips town and assumes a new identity. Hundreds of miles from home and in danger, one thing is clear: Xander’s real life is already in progress and just getting through it isn’t enough.

Michele Bacon Headshot


Michele Bacon writes contemporary fiction for adults and young adults. She often writes about family, friendship, and the blurred line between those two ideas. Michele geeks out over many things, but especially board games, skiing, and international travel. She recently spent a year on sabbatical in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she may have left her heart at Ilam School. Wherever Michele is in the world, she is drawn to people’s stories, so she wants to hear how you met your best friend or fell in love with your partner. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and three young children.


**Credit for header image: Instagram user @benbrody09

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Happy Father’s Day!

Celebrate Father’s Day with a Sky Pony book that honors dads! Check out My Amazing Dad below!

My Amazing Dad by Ezekiel Kwaymullina, illustrated by Tom Jellett

My Amazing Dad_cover-REVISED

This dad is not like other dads. He is not good at:

Mowing the lawn,
Getting his children to school on time,
Baking cakes,
Fixing a leaky faucet, or
Remembering bed time

But, he is good at:

Making mazes,
Getting his children to school eventually,
Eating cakes,
Making bubble baths, and
Telling bedtime stories.

And this is what makes him so special.

With bright illustrations from award-winning illustrator Tom Jellett and minimal text by award-nominated Ezekiel Kwaymullina, My Amazing Dad celebrates the unconventional father who may not always get it right but certainly knows how to turn every day into something special.

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Swedish Fairy Tales

Swedish Fairy Tales-NEW

Young adult and children’s book authors love to write fairy tale retellings, and the rest of us love to read them. On the Sky Pony list we have Rose Mannering’s Roses and Feathers and David Clawson’s My Fairy Godmother Is a Drag Queen. Everyone knows the stories of Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, but it’s less common to come across a fairy tale you haven’t read before. Swedish Fairy Tales by John Bauer and illustrated by Holger Lundbergh is a gorgeous collection of fairy tales you won’t recognize at all.

These are stories filled with wicked magicians, troublesome trolls, teasing magpies, and solemn tomtar. In Swedish fairy tales, frogs become beautiful fairy girls, troll girls marry troll princes, kings transform into woodcutters, and little boys go searching for adventure in the forest. They’re stories filled with humor and bits of wisdom and they’re so much fun to read.

This world of wonder and mystery is brought to life by the spellbinding art of one of the greatest illustrators of fairy tales, John Bauer. His big-nosed, good-natured trolls are sure to delight, while his heroes and heroines shine brightly, bringing hope and goodness to dark places.

Check out some of the art below, and then go find your own copy of Swedish Fairy Tales to cozy up with.

page ii

page 27

page 126page 224

page 210

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Cheryl’s Desk

Today, Associate Publicist Cheryl is sharing what her workspace looks like. Check out her post below!

Desk After

I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder.

Not the “piles of plastic cups, empty take-out containers, and newspapers from a decade ago” kind that you see on TV, but I do like my work (and living) space to be homey since I spend so much time here. It’s a bit cluttered and chaotic, but it’s an organized chaos… The kind I feel right at home in!

At any given time, my desk will have:


  • Copies of (most of) the books I’ve worked on. While these are mostly Sky Pony titles, I also have a few non-kids’ books, too, (such as pet books, adult fiction, and cookbooks) from before our pod system was put into place.
  • My bookmark/postcard wall that authors have sent me. Now that we have an in house designer, I expect this collection to expand greatly in the near future!
  • I have dozens of mugs in my apartment, and I always make sure to have one of my favorites at my desk. Today’s mug: a Los Angeles Starbucks mug that I picked up in during my 6-year LA living experience.
  • Drawings: I’ve accumulated a lot of post-it drawings from friends in the office that are always prominently on display.
  • An ever-growing pile of books (both Skyhorse and other) that I need to take home and add to my own collection
  • Snacks: Sometimes I’m too busy to leave my desk for extended periods of time, so I always have some granola, chocolate, and other treats on hand in case I need a pick-me-up.
  • And of course, like any office, there’s always a bunch of papers and books that cycle in and out of my cube throughout the day. My inbox is never empty!

I may be moving desks soon, as our company just acquired another floor in the building (yay!), but you can bet that I’ll make this new space just as cozy and lived-in as my current one!

All our Sky Ponies’ desks are different… Check out Kylie’s and Adrienne’s, too!

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Learning Magic is as easy as Abracadabra!

AbracadabraSummon your inner Houdini and learn simple magic tricks that will wow your family and friends!

Abracadabra!: Fun Magic Tricks for Kids by daughter and father duo Kristen Kelly and Ken Kelly (and featuring photos by mother Colette) reveals secret magic techniques with step-by-step photographs and demonstrate how you can perform tricks that look impossible but are, in fact, very simple to master! You’ll also learn one of the most important secrets about becoming a magician—how to use your confidence, personality, and presentation skills to enchant and amaze your friends and family.

With Abracadabra!, you’ll see that you don’t have to be an adult to perform magic!

This fun and informative book is filled with great tricks, including Kristen and Ken’s favorite: The Magic Vanishing Milk Illusion!

The Milk in a Hat magic trick is very funny. In it, the audience will think that you are learning your very first magic trick from an instruction card, so this is a great one to start off your magic show!

Effect (What the Audience Sees):magic trick
You tell the audience that you are about to learn a new trick for the very first time.

The instructions for the trick are printed on a piece of paper. You read them out in a loud voice as you put a plastic cup into a hat. You then notice that the glass is not clean so you remove it from the hat, clean it, but forget to put it back in the hat.

You read the instructions again and tell the audience that you must pour milk into the cup in the hat. The audience can see that the glass is on the table and not in the hat, but you pretend not to notice. This is very funny for the audience because they think you have made a mistake.

You then notice that the glass is not in the hat. Whoops! You look into the hat, pretending that you have made a milky mess inside—this is a great opportunity for you to act as if the whole trick has gone wrong. However, you are a magician, of course! You put the glass back into the hat and wave your magic wand. Abracadabra! In the blink of an eye, the milk appears inside the glass and the hat is dry. Take your bow as the audience goes crazy with applause.

Vanishing Milk TrickAbout the Kellys

Kristen Kelly is an eleven-year-old who has been surrounded by magic all her life. She won her local talent competition, Warrington’s Got Talent, at age six for her magic show. Ken Kelly has been a professional magician for over thirty years, ever since he received his first magic set from his grandmother at age six. He co-runs the blog MagicTricksForKids.org where he shares his passion for magic with other young magicians. Colette Kelly, wife of Ken and mother of Kristen, adds her own magic touch to MagicTricksForKids.org with her photographs, videos, and graphic design. They all live in Warrington, England.

To learn more about Abracadabra!, head over to Kristen and Ken’s website, and to book them for shows and parties (in the UK), click here!

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Happy Book Birthday!

Happy Book Birthday to all of our June Sky Pony Books!


Life Before by Michele Bacon

Life BeforeSeventeen years is a long time to keep secrets, and Xander Fife has gotten very good at it.

Everyone believes Xander has a normal life and a normal family. If he can just get through this summer, he’ll start his real life in college with a clean slate—no risk, no drama, no fear.

Even better, his plans for summer are awesome: lots of pick-up soccer, relaxing afternoons with friends, and an epic road trip. Xander is banking on some long-overdue nights with his ideal girlfriend, the amazing Gretchen Taylor.

Instead of kicking off what had promised to be an amazing summer, however, graduation day brings terror. His family’s secrets are thrust out into the open, and Xander must confront his greatest fear. And survive doing so.

Armed with a fake ID, cash, and a knife, Xander skips town and assumes a new identity. Hundreds of miles from home and in danger, one thing is clear: Xander’s real life is already in progress and just getting through it isn’t enough.

Kingdom in a Horse by Maia Wojciechowska

Kingdom in a Horse_coverDavid Lee is twelve years old and disappointed in his father Earl, a once-famous rodeo clown who has quit the circuit and moved David to a small town in Vermont to start a new life. David has a hard time adjusting to life as a “normal” boy and is hurt that his father never allowed him the chance to be his partner in the rodeo arena. When Earl tries to buy David a horse at auction, David pretends to have no interest in it, and the horse is sold, instead, to a seventy-year-old woman named Sarah Tierney.

Sarah, grief-stricken at the death of her husband, tries to ?nd solace in her new horse, Gypsy, but she needs help from Earl and David to learn how to care for her. As the three of them spend more and more time with Gypsy, they all become entranced—in their own ways—by the horse and begin to learn more and more about themselves. A heartfelt story, this middle-reader novel is a must read for any girl or boy interested in nature and horses.

Treason in America by Jules Archer, foreword by Brianna DuMont

Treason in America_coverTreason can be defined as “the breach of the allegiance which a person owes to the state under whose protection he lives.” But what exactly does it mean to be guilty of a “breach of the allegiance” owed to your country? In a country that guarantees freedom of speech and dissent tp all citizens, the extent to which dissent becomes unlawful may not always be clear. Treason is punishable by the death penalty, underscoring the importance of the question: How do we go about proving that someone is indeed an enemy of his country—a traitor?

In this book, renowned historian Jules Archer explores different cases of treason throughout our history, while encouraging young readers to really question the definition of treason and how it should be treated. He asks readers to consider the similarities between disloyalty and dissent and ultimately urges this generation to take it into their own hands to redefine American duties and liberties for our time

Down into the Nether by Danica Davidson

Down into the NetherStevie and Alex thought they defeated Herobrine completely, but they soon discover that he’s still on the loose. He has returned to Stevie’s nightmares, taunting him with threats to now destroy the human world.

The prophecies on music discs suggest that only Stevie and Alex, plus Maison, Destiny, and Yancy, their friends from the human world will be able to defeat Herobrine. But the prophecies also warn that one of the friends will betray the rest, putting all the worlds at risk. Tensions run high as the group must figure out how to save the world while they try to discern the traitor in their midst. Maison, It isn’t long before the traitor is discovered.

Stevie and Alex find themselves separated from the others and must first journey into the Nether to find a special treasure that will enable them to confront Herobrine. The clock is ticking as they put their heads together to survive in the fiery depths of the Nether. Monsters are waiting for them around every corner and it won’t be much longer before they come face-to-face with Herobrine, who has become more powerful than ever.

Terror on a Treasure Hunt by Winter Morgan

Terror on a Treasure HuntAfter trapping Mr. Anarchy, the evil master griefer who’s been tormenting them, Lily, Simon, and Michael can finally concentrate on trying to escape the Overworld and getting to know their new friends on the server. So when one of their friends invites them along on a treasure hunt, they couldn’t be more thrilled!

But when the gang’s absence from Lisimi Village gives Mr. Anarchy a chance to escape, their hunt for treasure is cut short and Lily, Simon, and Michael must make a hard decision: do they continue their much-anticipated treasure hunt, or do they band together with their new friends to find and recapture Mr. Anarchy, and whatever team of griefers he might be working with?

Nothing is as it seems—and no one can be trusted—in this thrilling third book in bestselling author Winter Morgan’s Unofficial Minetrapped Adventure series.

Abracadabra! by Kristen Kelly & Ken Kelly

Abracadabra_coverSummon your inner Houdini and learn simple magic tricks that will wow your family and friends!

How did he do that? Have you ever racked your brains trying to figure out how that birthday party magician pulled a dove out of his sleeve? Or spent sleepless nights wondering just how he made that coin disappear? Well, what if there were a book that shared a magician’s secrets with you and showed you how to do magic, too?

Eleven-year-old magician Kristen and her magician dad, Ken, reveal secret magic techniques with step-by-step photographs and demonstrate how you can perform tricks that look impossible but are, in fact, very simple to master! You’ll also learn one of the most important secrets about becoming a magician—how to use your confidence, personality, and presentation skills to enchant and amaze your friends and family. Choose from thirty of Kristen and Ken’s coolest tricks and learn how to:

• Make a pencil float in mid-air!
• Bend a key using your mind!
• Make a pile of items disappear!
• Eat a knife!
• And much more!

With Abracadabra!, you’ll see that you don’t have to be an adult to perform magic!

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BEA: What an Experience!

This May, a couple of our fellow Skyhorsers were lucky enough to attend Book Expo America and BookCon in Chicago… and lived to tell the tale!

BEA (and BookCon) is one of the world’s largest yearly gatherings for publishing industry professionals and book lovers, from publishers to media to bloggers. Here, attendees are able to talk to publishers and media, learn about upcoming books, and pick up a WHOLE lot of swag!

A few of our coworkers (two seasoned professionals and two who had never attended) gave their thoughts on this yearly conference.

Lauren Jackson, Publicity Manager

Based on average age and average level of enthusiasm, you’d think Five Seconds of Summer or Taylor Swift had crashed this year’s #Bookcon in Chicago. The attendees—mainly teens, tweens, and their bewildered parents—embodied none of the traditional stereotypes associated with the bookish. They didn’t walk around and peruse; they ran and devoured.

And, being a new member of the team, one of the most rewarding aspects of an admittedly tiring day BEAwas the equal parts curiosity and name recognition that Sky Pony had at the con. People were rabid for Tara Sim, but also wanted to know more about Winston, our mascot, and the new Sky Pony blog. What could they expect? Would there be giveaways? What was our Twitter handle? Galley giveaways of dotwav and our new chapter book series with Nancy Krulik flew out of the booth in minutes. Every time we put out a fresh batch of pins, temporary tattoos and bookmarks, they’d be gone in the blink of an eye.

Witnessing the mayhem overwhelmed but also inspired. Before I was a late-twenties publishing “professional” (using that term loosely),  I was a bookish pre-teen, much like those that swarmed Bookcon, but I never had such a rich outlet to discover new books, authors, and kids like me. So I watched as an outsider as attendees screamed at the main stage for their favorite authors, begged their parents for more books (“Just one more!! Please?!”), and quizzed me on Sky Pony’s books, but I still felt very much like these were my people… just a bit younger.

Jake Klein, Associate PublicistBill and Jake

How do I begin to describe my first experience at BEA? Words that come to mind: dizzying, exhilarating, informative, fun!

BEA 2016 in Chicago was a successful experience for me personally, and for Skyhorse as a company. As a first-timer and as a publicist I got a better sense of what my role in this fantastic company is.

From the moment the gates opened and the attendees flooded in, my role was to represent Skyhorse Publishing in a professional (and fun!) manner. I spent the day interacting with an array of interesting individuals. I spoke with librarians looking to stock vast shelves. I spoke with bookstore owners looking for the next big seller. I spoke with journalists hoping to break the dotwavnews on the next hit title. Each new person offered fresh perspective on this wild ride we call publishing.

I particularly enjoyed my time speaking with bloggers. Young Adult fiction and children’s book bloggers were out in force, smiles wide, ready to engage publishers and forge new working relationships. I admired their entrepreneurial spirits. Most bloggers explained that they worked from home, reading through dozens of novels a week, trying to elevate themselves to great heights as book reviewers. I exchanged business cards with dozens of them. As a publicist I saw opportunity to broaden the reach of our titles. As bloggers, they saw the chance to widen their review catalog.

At the end of each day, everyone left the conference tired. Tired from good conversations about good books.

I can’t wait to see what BEA 2017 will have in store!

Winston Button

Brianna Scharfenberg, Associate Publicist

At times overwhelming and exhausting, the next you’re giddy because you saw an author you’d never thought you’d see in person or nabbed a galley of a book you can’t wait to tear open. The best part about the conference was being around hundreds of readers and having wonderful conversations with media. At BookCon, lots of excited teens and adults flooded McCormick place finding gems of books and freebies. The kids loved our colorful Winston Sparkles buttons, tattoos, and giveaways like two in one book Project Droid.

The book world is alive and well thanks to all the dedicated readers and passionate publishers. Next year will be even better!

Jennifer Chan, Marketing Manager

Overall BEA went well for us. We set up many sales meetings ahead of the show with our key trade accounts. Key advertising on the first and second Minecraftdays and daily ARC giveaways helped drive foot traffic throughout the show.

We also participated in this year’s Librarian Lounge which included a scavenger hunt contest (our booth was a required stop) and a full table display at the exclusive VIP reception. Both promotions gave us many opportunities to talk up our titles, gain new contacts, and turn a number of librarians on to our company and the kinds of books we do for adult and children.

The Sky Pony titles we promoted at BEA were dotwav and the Project Droid series 2-books-in-1 flip ARC. We also had fun items like Project Droid temporary tattoos and a Winston Sparkle button to promote the Sky Pony Express blog. All the ARCs we put out were snapped up as soon as we put them out (which is a good sign for our upcoming plans for ALA this month).

After a number of years of the show being in NYC, it was nice to be in Chicago this year. With the change in venue, it gave us the chance to connect directly with a number of local librarians, educators, booksellers, and media!

Catch us next at ALA from June 24th-27th (booth #2236)! Stop by for ARCs, bookmarks, Winston Sparkles buttons, and a bunch of other swag! #TeamWinston

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#tbt Sky Pony Readers

The Sky Ponies have always been big readers. From early ages, we’ve discovered the magic that can be found within the pages of a book. We’ve used and reused our library cards until the labels have worn off. We’ve filled our bookshelves with favorite tales until they’ve overflown with magical worlds and heartfelt tales. We’ve fallen in love with stories and mythical creatures. I suppose it doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that we ended up working in publishing. Our love of books has followed us through the years and you can see it reflected in Sky Pony’s wonderful list.

So, for today’s #throwbackthursday post, take a look at some of the Sky Pony editors reading as children:

Adrienne lost deeply in a puzzle book.


There are never enough books to fill Alison’s insatiable appetite for good reads.

Alison and her Books

Rachel and a friend sharing the magic of books together.

Rachel reading

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Dear Teen Me with Melissa Hart, author of Avenging the Owl

Avenging the Owl author, Melissa Hart, writes a letter to her teen self. Check it out below!

Dear Teen Melissa,

I’m writing to you from my tiny writing studio in my big backyard full of purple lilacs and blossoming cherry trees and cats. Remember what you loved about your grandmother’s house in Monterey—all those tall trees, the birds chirping, vegetable gardens, and fruit trees? You have all that now, plus an amazing photographer husband and a nature-crazy nine-year-old adopted daughter.

I know you thought you’d never make it this far. I remember the year you turned sixteen, and your home life fell apart. Your dad yelled and raged. Your stepmother lost herself in aerobics classes. Your beautiful house near LAX felt full of anger and betrayal, too much wine and too many tears, and you couldn’t run away to your mother’s house because she’d lost custody of you seven years before—for coming out as a lesbian in a homophobic era when a judge believed it was better to place kids in an abusive household than one headed by two women.

But remember the UCLA Young Writers’ Retreat up at Lake Arrowhead? You got to go after your English teachers saw how you loved to write—short stories, poetry, even those silly profiles you wrote for the school yearbook about sports teams and drama club. Suddenly, you found yourself surrounded by teen writers in cabins among tall trees, and it was snowing . . . snowing! The teachers leading the retreat instructed you all to find a quiet place to write for an hour. Most of the kids stayed inside near the fire, but you zipped up your coat and headed outside up a hill, away from everyone.

Young Writers Retreat

Young Writers’ Retreat

How I wish I could convey how that hour was a life-changer for you, Melissa. You stood in the trees with your notebook, and silent snowflakes fell all around you . . . about as different from your father’s smoggy little backyard as a place could get. You felt peaceful. More than that, you felt wholly yourself. You wrote a poem that day . . . I probably have it in my giant box of spiral-bound notebooks you filled in high school and college. (Note to teen self: Read Natalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones sooner, rather than later, okay?) But more than the poem, what mattered that hour was that you discovered who you wanted to be . . . a writer, and a woman with an intimate connection to the natural world.

Yeah, okay, so later that night, you met a boy. He was cute and mischievous, just the way you liked them, and you stayed up all night talking in his dormitory hallway about creative writing and The Dead Kennedys, his favorite band. (Later, you’d listen to them and decide that hardcore punk wasn’t your thing—you’d stick to The Beatles and The Smiths.) You two didn’t kiss, but you exchanged letters for a couple of months until you met another boy at yearbook camp who wrote funnier letters and knew how to spell.

When you got home that Sunday night, the snow just a memory and a dampness in your sneakers, nothing between your parents had changed. You stepped into the living room thick with tension and tried to tell your stepmother about your weekend with the teen writers. She didn’t believe you’d ever make it as a professional writer; neither did your father. But you had the support of your mother and your English and yearbook teachers, and your friends. You sought out mentors, and you never stopped believing in your love of language and story.

Yearbook Girls

Yearbook Girls

Dear Teen Melissa, I’m so glad you learned to compartmentalize early on. Home life was home life, and school was school. You walked along the railroad tracks at dawn five days a week, sat in first period wide awake and thrilled to be learning. You ran track, danced and sang in the drama club, played practical jokes with your friends. (I wonder, did the principal ever find out who stacked all the school trashcans in a pyramid on his office roof?) You learned early on to “accentuate the positive,” like that old song says. You allowed yourself to fall in love with life—with the miniscule vegetable garden you managed to coax from your father’s tiny backyard; with the starlings splashing in puddles on the rare days it rained; with boys who loved writing and acting and pranks; with your big orange cat and your running shoes and all those blank notebooks full of possibility.

Hang in there, Teen Me. Take all the classes in literature and creative writing (don’t forget poetry!) that you can. Take theater classes and music classes. Learn everything you can about other cultures, about history, about people. Most importantly, get outside. Don’t stay on your computer all day. Don’t lose yourself in television. Know what phase the moon is in every single night. Know the names of the trees in your backyard, the birds at your feeders, the mountain ranges in your adopted state of Oregon. Nature will save you. Writing will save you. Good luck.

Love, Melissa

Melissa and Richard

Melissa and Richard

Avenging the Owl by Melissa Hart

9781634501477-frontcoverA long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Han Solo avenged the destruction of an innocent planet by helping Luke Skywalker blow up the Death Star. Han walked away with a gold medal and the love of his life. But when Solo Hahn—named in honor of the beloved action hero—tries to avenge the death of his gray-and-white kitten, he gets eight months of community service. Eight months of working at the local raptor center helping owls—his now sworn enemies.

For the first time in his life, Solo is labeled a troubled kid, an at-risk youth. He’d always gotten good grades, had good friends, and gotten along with his parents. He used to volunteer to read Reader’s Digest to old people at the retirement home next door, and his favorite thing in the whole wide world was to surf. He wrote screenplays for fun. But when his parents uproot him and move the family from California to backwoods Oregon, Solo starts to lose track of the person he was. Everything is upside down, and he finds himself dealing with things way beyond his understanding. He’s the new kid in town, and he’s got a bad reputation. The question is: What will he do next?

This is a story about staying true to yourself when things get tough. Solo has every reason to lash out, but he ultimately needs to find a way to cope. Avenging the Owl deals with the difficult issues of suicide and depression, but more than anything it captures the powerlessness of being a kid. It won’t be easy, but the wild beauty of Oregon, its cold, empty beaches and captivating wildlife, may be just what Solo and his family need to help them start over.



Melissa Hart is the author of the middle-grade novel Avenging the Owl, as well as the YA memoir Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood, and a memoir for adults. She’s a contributing editor at The Writer Magazine and teaches Literature and Creative Writing for Laurel Springs High School. Follow her on Instagram at @WildMelissaHart . www.melissahart.com



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