Looking Inside Sky Pony Press with Assistant Editor, Kylie Brien

Special Opportunity!

WIN A CRITIQUE BY A SKY PONY EDITOR

Purchase a copy of LIZZIE and LOU SEAL and

let Sky Pony know by emailing wsparkles@skyhorsepublishing.com


Looking Inside Sky Pony Press with Assistant Editor, Kylie Brien


“Good morning Sky Pony,” my editor says.

She reads at the coffee nook.

She reads at her desk,

In her thinking cap.

too cool                                    too hot                                    just right

My editor reads when she walks at lunch,

And with the people standing in line.

“Hmm, smells delicious!”

She reads with publicity

Ming Liu and Kylie Brien

and other editors.

“I like it a lot!”

Rachel Stark and Kylie Brien

She reads in the subway—

All the way home.

“Good night sweet writers and readers!”


 

 

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Making (Encaustic Wax) Waves with Patricia Keeler

The warm weather is coming and we’ll be ready with our flip-flops, sunglasses, and author and illustrator Patricia Keeler’s Lizzie and Lou Seal!

We wanted to know how Patricia made Lizzie’s blow up toy, Lou Seal, look plastic and the waves appear . . . well . . . wet! Below, Patricia takes us behind the scenes to discover her process.

Making (Encaustic Wax) Waves with Patricia Keeler

I love texture! Rough textures, slimy textures, bumpy textures, and silky textures that appear almost transparent. Silky textures like plastic or an ocean wave can be made using encaustic wax.

Encaustic wax comes in colored blocks and clear seeds.

The colored blocks of wax can be grated and melted.

Turn up the jazz and let the fun begin!

 

Add some magic and

Catch that wave, Lizzie!

 

The Encaustic Wax post giveaway is Lizzie’s exquisite Lou Seal necklace!

To enter, purchase a copy of Lizzie and Lou Seal then email a screen shot receipt

to Sky Pony’s Winston Sparkles at

wsparkles@skyhorsepublishing.com 

 

All entrees will be eligible to win the

GRAND PRIZE

of a manuscript critique by

Sky Pony Assistant Editor, Kylie Brien.

Visit Patricia Keeler at Book Expo America, Booth AM34, June 1 and 2, 2017 

Next week:  Meet Sky Pony Assistant Editor, Kylie Brien

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Q&A with TIMEKEEPER author Tara Sim

Today, we are so lucky to have Timekeeper author Tara Sim to join us for the Q&A. Her debut is one of the most anticipated novels of Fall 2016, and we’re excited to chat with her to learn a little more about the woman behind this intricate clock-controlled alternate Victorian world.


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

I’ve always been more interested in made up worlds than our own, mostly because I felt like more was possible in those worlds–magic, adventure, what have you. Two very early influences were Harry Potter and the Song of the Lioness series, which were both magical and fun and far more interesting to me than contemporary stories. I mean, wizards and lady knights, come on. Ever since reading those series, I’ve been a fairly consistent fantasy reader/writer. One day, I decided that I wanted to write my own worlds, my own magic systems, and my own adventures.

Q:What are you reading right now?

I just finished The Midnight Star by Marie Lu, and right now I’m turning to my backlist and finally picking up Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

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

I would love to be Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. She’s insanely awesome and sneaky, and gets to hang out with Kaz.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

In my bedroom. I have a tiny desk by my bookshelves that faces a window, which is great for when I need to sit back and stare into space/admire my book collection.

Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

I actually don’t watch very many classic movies, but my favorite movies of all time are The Lord of the Rings. Also anything by Hayao Miyazaki, and a ton of Disney, of course.

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

A wolf! I’ve always loved wolves. They’d probably make bad household pets, though.

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Dark chocolate. Milk is good too, but white chocolate is made of lies and sin.

[Editor’s note from Tara’s actual editor: I knew I liked you.]

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas. Not just because of the presents (although those are pretty nice), but because it’s in my favorite season, with my favorite weather, and it just looks pretty. It makes me feel happy and nostalgic.

Q: What’s your favorite GIF?

tara-gif

 

Q: What did you want to grow up to be when you were 17?

An author. 😉


sim-tara-timekeeper Tara Sim can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area in California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives. Timekeeper is her first novel.

Follow her on Twitter at @EachStarAWorld, or online at www.tarasim.com where you can find fun Timekeeper extras.


 

9781510706187-frontcover

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time–and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.

The first book in a dazzling new steampunk-fantasy trilogy, Timekeeper introduces a magical world of mythology and innovation that readers will never want to leave.


Timekeeper is an extraordinary debut, at once familiar and utterly original. Between its compelling world, its lovely prose, and its wonderful characters, the pages flew by.” —Victoria Schwab, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Alive with myth, mystery, and glorious romance, Timekeeper will keep hearts pounding and pages turning til the stunning conclusion. Reader beware—there’s magic in these pages.” —Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere

Timekeeper is a triumph . . . If you read only one such book . . . let it be this one.” –Bustle

“Part mystery and part romance, this fantasy novel delves into what it means to grow up and make important decisions. With an easily relatable main character struggling to fit in, the novel has a realistic and contemplative voice. VERDICT: A must-have richly written fantasy novel that will have readers eagerly anticipating the next volume.” —School Library Journal

“Sim creates a cast of complex and diverse characters, as well as a mythology to explain how the clock towers came to exist . . . an enjoyable, well-realized tale.” —Publishers Weekly

“[M]ystery, LGBTQ romance, and supernatural tale of clock spirits and sabotage that explores how far people might go for those they love. Its strongest elements are the time-related mythology and the supernatural gay romance.” —Booklist

“This LGBTQ steampunk romance sports a killer premise and admirably thorough worldbuilding, helpfully annotated in the author’s afterword. The characters—even the bad guys—are sympathetically drawn and commendably diverse in sexuality and gender.” —Kirkus Reviews

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The Ten Words You Need To Know If You Can’t Wait for MOANA

 We don’t know about you, but the whole team here at Sky Pony is basically counting down the minutes until Disney’s Moana hits theaters on November 23rd. Teen girl power? Adventure-packed ocean voyages? Demigods and diverse main characters? A song by Lin-Manuel Freaking Miranda? You can bet we’re gonna be jumping into that opening-night screening like:

falling

So, if you’re even half as excited as we are, start preparing now with this list of Hawaiian words you have to know from Lisa Freeman, the author of YA novels Honey Girl and its sequel, Riptide Summer, coming next summer. Dive in!


With the movie Moana coming out later this month, I thought it might be fun to share some of my very favorite Hawaiian words. I’ve learned bits and pieces of the language over the course of many visits to Oahu, and I weave it into my YA series starting with Honey Girl. The language is melodic; the sound is unforgettable, and when I speak the words, I feel like I am connected to something far bigger.

ship

Wouldn’t it be great if it were possible to learn Hawaiian in school? Until then, I’ve put together a list of ten of my favorite words so you can start learning the beautiful language on your own.

Fun Fact: There are only twelve letters in the Hawaiian alphabet: five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and seven consonants (h, k, l, m, n, p, w).

  1. Aloha: a state of mind that describes peace, harmony, and kindness. Aloha is also a greeting and a farewell. Take a deep breath when you say it, and if you’re having a tough day, you’ll feel better.
  2. Mahalo: thanks. People in Hawaii are very generous, and this word is a way to show your gratitude when you visit.
  3. Pono: to do the right thing. To “make it pono” means to make it right and be a person of your word.
  4. Wiki wiki: hurry up
  5. Mana: an energy, a divine power that some people think is supernatural. The late, great surfer Eddie Aikau had very powerful mana.
  6. Poi: a staple food made from cooked taro root and pounded into a delicious sauce you eat with your fingers
  7. ‘Ohana: family and super-close friends
  8. Pau: Done! Over!
  9. Honua: the Earth and land we live on
  10. Kai: the ocean, sometimes also known as the current of the sea

Got ’em? Well done!

giphy

Mahalo and aloha.

Hau’oli Lā Ho’omaika’I (pronounced how-oh-lay-la-ho-o-ma-key-kah-ee): Happy Thanksgiving, Sky Pony Readers!

wave

Here are some great sources where you can learn more of the most beautiful language in the world:

  • Hawaiian Dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert
  • A Pocket Guide to the Hawaiian Language by Albert J. Schütz
  • Ka ‘Olelo Hawaii No Na Keiki (The Hawaiian Language for the Children) by Kulamanu

Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman

honey-girl-9781632204257They call the heart attack that killed fifteen-year-old Nani’s surfer father “the widow-maker”; when it struck, it killed him instantly. Almost as quickly, it turned Nani’s mother from the half-owner of Honolulu’s most famous bar to a hopeless alcoholic seeking a fresh start in California, and Nani into a fish out of water on Santa Monica’s State Beach.

It’s 1972, and as the new girl on one of the country’s most famous beaches, Nani’s only hope for acceptance—and survival—is following “The Rules,” an unspoken list of dos and don’ts that made her queen of the beach in Hawaii. After a series of harrowing initiations she manages to get in with the locals, even gaining the attention of surf god Nigel McBride.

But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it, and Nani is harboring three secrets that could instantly destroy everything she’s worked to achieve. #1: She stole her dad’s ashes, hid them from her mom, and plans to spread them in the ocean he loved. #2: In order to get in with the lineup, she spied on them—and now she knows more than they’ll ever let her get away with. And deadliest of all, #3: she might just be in love with Rox, the queen supreme of State Beach.


lisa-freeman-authorLisa Freeman started her work as an actor and has been in numerous TV productions and films (Mr. Mom and Back to the Future I & II to name a few). She performed at the Comedy Store, which lead to her writing career in radio and spoken word. Freeman has a BA in liberal studies and Creative Writing, an MFA in Fiction, and a certificate in Pedagogy in Writing from Antioch University. Honey Girl, her debut novel, was inspired by a time when girls were the color of tan-before-sunscreen, drank Tabs by the six-pack, smoked Lark 100’s, and were not allowed to surf. Lisa lives in Santa Monica, California.

Visit her online lisa-freeman.com, and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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Tips for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo, a brave challenge some writers take on every November. It involves a lot of work and a lot of motivation. We asked a few of our authors to come up with some tips to help you if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year. Check it out!


Advice from Beth Vrabel, author of the middle grade novels, A Blind Guide to Normal, A Blind Guide to Stinkville, Camp Dork, and Pack of Dorks

  • Schedule your writing time. This is huge, but the time limit doesn’t have to be. Add writing to your to-do list, but make the goals incredibly achievable. Nothing beats scratching something off a to-do list! When I began my first published novel, PACK OF DORKS,  the only time I had to myself were the two and a half hours each weekday my son was at preschool. The temptation to cram those hours with everything I needed to accomplish—from doing laundry to running errands to catching up with friends—was tremendous. I began to add to the top of each day’s to-do list: Write for twenty minutes. That’s it, twenty minutes. I’d drop off my son and pull into a coffee shop, find a table and open my laptop. Then I’d check the clock. Some days, I closed the laptop twenty minutes later on the dot. Most days, I kept on writing until pick-up time. Either way, I had met my goal. Even more importantly, I prioritized my writing. Let’s face it, no one is going to take this calling seriously until you do.
  • Remember: not all writing is putting words on the page. The bulk of my early writing time looks a lot like staring into space and eating potato chips. That’s because I’m staring into space eating potato chips. But I’m also thinking about my characters, getting to know them and their tastes and interests, figuring out how they speak and see the world. I might spend hours creating the perfect playlist for the story I’m brewing. All of this counts as writing! Nothing is more intimating than a blank screen, but if you can hold off and only open that document file when your characters are screaming to be heard, you’re going to have so much more fun and be way more productive.
  • Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. I think this is a cooking analogy, something about how you can tell if pasta is ready to eat because it’ll stick to tiles. I don’t know; as someone who has twice accidentally melted the interior of microwaves during meal prep, I’m not really all that up-to-date on culinary terminology. When it comes to writing, though, I firmly believe you must, must, must throw everything you’ve got into the story. Reimagine your own experiences, tap into times you’ve shared emotions with your characters, mix in your own authentic observations on life’s absurdities. Not all of this will survive the editing phase. That’s okay. Your best cooked thoughts will stick.
  • Going right along with that last one, make it personal. Get under your own skin and then scratch until you reveal what you—and only you—can share with the world. Look, so many books are out there for readers. But your book? Your voice? It’s brand new. So don’t waste your time thinking about trying to make the next Harry Potter or Twilight or Ramona Quimby or whatever came to your mind just now. Those stories have been told. Yours hasn’t. And only you can do it. Yes, it’s not always going to be easy or comfortable. It will, however, be worth it.
  • Have fun. You love writing, that’s why you’re doing this. Because you love it, or maybe you love having done it. Either way, honor the magic.

blind-guide-to-normal-9781510702288Richie “Ryder” Raymond has a gift. He can find the punchline in any situation, even in his limited vision and prosthetic eye. During the past year at Addison School for the Blind, Ryder’s quick wit earned the respect and friendship of his classmates. Heading to mainstream, or “normal,” school for eighth grade is going to be awesome.

After all, what’s not to like? At Addison, Ryder was everyone’s favorite person. He could make anyone laugh, especially his best friend Alice. So long as he can be first to make all of the one-eyed jokes, Ryder is sure he’ll fit in just as quick at Papuaville Middle School, home of the Fighting Guinea Pigs. But Alice warns him fitting in might not be as easy as he thinks.

Turns out, Alice was right. In just the first hour of “normal” school, Ryder is attacked by General MacCathur II (aka, Gramps’s cat), causes his bio teacher to pass out cold, makes an enemy out town hero Max, and falls for Jocelyn, the fierce girl next door who happens to be Max’s girlfriend. On top of that, Ryder struggles to hold onto his dignity in the face of students’ pity and Gramps’s non-stop practical jokes.

Ryder quickly sees the only thing worse than explaining a joke is being the punchline. But with help from his stuck-in-the-70s Gramps and encouragement from Alice, Ryder finds the strength to not only fight back, but to make peace.


Advice from Kita Murdock, author of the middle grade novel Future Flash.

  • You don’t have to be sitting at a desk to create stories. As a working mom of three, it’s challenging to find time to in front of the computer to write, which is why most of my story creation occurs on the running trail behind my house. While running (or driving or even in line at the supermarket) I work out storylines and characters in my head. By the time I get a chance to sit at the computer, I am typing out what I have already developed.
  • Seek inspiration. Whether through reading a compelling book, watching a show with a great plot line, or contemplating a piece of art, I am always motivated by other people’s artistic expression.
  • Read about the craft of writing. I was an English major and always have been an avid reader, yet when I attempted to write my first novel, I found there was a lot I didn’t know. Plot and Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that Grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Bell was an essential read when I was starting out and Stephen King’s On Writing is a book I come back to time and time again.
  • Find some good readers. It’s important to find honest editors. My mom and two writer friends always read my first drafts and the pages come back to me covered in useful suggestions.
  • Have fun! My best writing happens when I’m enjoying myself and letting myself get lost in my story.

future-flash-9781510710115For as long as she can remember, Laney has been having “future flashes”—visions of the future that she sees when she makes physical contact with another person. Left on a doorstep as a baby, Laney’s past has always been cloudy to her, despite the clarity with which she can see the future. Her caretaker, Walt, claims to be her father, but Laney has a nagging suspicion that he isn’t quite telling her the entire truth. And when a new kid, Lyle, moves to her small town, Laney is dreading meeting him—she almost always gets a future flash when first meeting someone new, and the flashes aren’t always good. Unfortunately, her meeting with Lyle isn’t just bad; it’s painful. Engulfed in flames, Lyle’s future flash is the worst Laney’s ever experienced. But what does it mean? Is there anything Laney can do to change the future? And will she be able to save Lyle not only from a fiery death but also from the merciless class bully without becoming a victim of his antics herself?

In this thrilling and imaginative middle grade novel from author Kita Helmetag Murdock, follow Laney as she works against the clock to understand her past and prevent the disaster looming in the future.


Advice from Bibi Belford, author of Canned and Crushed

Bibi Belford’s secret to writing great middle great novels, is the BIC Pill. The BIC Pill is not for everyone; read on for more information:

Medical News Flash: The BIC Pill. Miracle Drug for Writers. Writers flock to pharmacists for the BIC Pill before NaNoWriMo. This new drug effectively produces cohesive and prolonged writing attention. During clinical trials, 87% of writers created hooks with character, voice, and mystery generating novels bursting with concept, character, theme, and structure.

Full disclosure of BIC Pill ingredients: B-Butt, large appendage in rear. I-In, directional preposition, C-Chair, seat on four legs in front of desk. Use of BIC Pill may cause recurring scene revisions, prolonged echoes of character voices lasting more than four pages, and full manuscript requests from agents and editors.

canned-and-crushed-9781510716612Fourth grade’s tough. But how much trouble can one kid get into when he’s just trying to help his sister?

When Sandro Zapote finds out his little sister needs heart surgery, he is determined to help his parents raise the money so she can get treatment. Sandro’s dad is in the States illegally and must work two jobs to support the family. For one, he picks up roadkill for the department of streets and sanitation and gets paid by the carcass. For the other, he collects scrap metal to recycle for cash. Sandro helps his dad with some of the scrap metal heavy lifting, and one headboard, a weight bench, some gutters, and a few car parts later, Sandro has a brilliant idea: can collecting. Save the environment. Save his sister. Maybe even save some spending money for the fabulous, fast new bike he’s been coveting.

Well-meaning and with funny inner monologue, Sandro is the kind of person you can’t help but cheer for. He’s a boy who loves drawing, soccer, and his little sister. And whether he’s fishing a fuzzy, dust-coated turtle out from under his sister’s bed or organizing a school-wide can drive all by himself, Sandro is a smart, self-aware hero who makes just a few mistakes along the way.


Advice from Melissa E. Hurst, author of The Edge of Forever

Last year, while drafting On Through the Never, I was desperate to find a way to focus on writing because I usually procrastinate when I’m stuck. I searched for tips and discovered an app called 5000 Words Per Hour by Sly Fox Applications. It was extremely helpful because I could set the timer to sprint and it would keep up with my average words per hour. I started out sprinting for five minutes at a time, gradually increasing until I was writing for thirty minutes without any urge to procrastinate or edit. Trying to beat each previous sprint’s word count became my goal instead of making everything perfect. I ended up writing almost fifty thousand words in a month using that method.

edge-of-forever-9781632204240In 2013, sixteen-year-old Alora is having blackouts. Each time she wakes up in a different place with no idea how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.

In 2146, seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. The strangest part is that, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs, his father was never assigned to be in that time. Bridger’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent someone’s murder.

And that someone is named Alora.

Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.


Advice from Amalie Howard, author of Alpha Goddess, The Fallen Prince, and The Almost Girl

50,000 words in 30 days. I know it seems daunting, and it is. I won’t lie. Even the most seasoned of writers will tell you that seeing such a large word count sitting next to any kind of deadline will make them break out into a cold sweat. You’re not alone. But here’s how you do it. One bite at a time. Just like Melinda Mae who ate that whole whale in the Shel Silverstein poem, you can do it. One word at a time.

My best advice for NaNo writers is to try to hit whatever goal you’ve set for that day, no matter what. In a perfect world, you’re set to write 1700 words a day like clockwork. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and if you miss a day, you will need to make those words up so that you don’t fall behind. Stress can be cumulative, so do what you can. If you’ve exceeded your word count and are on fire, KEEP GOING. Nothing beats being on a creative roll when the words are flowing. And bonus, you’ll be ahead of the game and have some cushion for those days when you do fall behind.

Lastly, remember, you’re doing this because you love it. You’re a writer! Have fun and own the process. You can do it!

alpha-goddess-9781626362086In Serjana Caelum’s world, gods exist. So do goddesses. Sera knows this because she is one of them. A secret long concealed by her parents, Sera is Lakshmi reborn, the human avatar of an immortal Indian goddess rumored to control all the planes of existence. Marked by the sigils of both heaven and hell, Sera’s avatar is meant to bring balance to the mortal world, but all she creates is chaos. A chaos that Azrath, the Asura Lord of Death, hopes to use to unleash hell on earth.

Torn between reconciling her past and present, Sera must figure out how to stop Azrath before the Mortal Realm is destroyed. But trust doesn’t come easy in a world fissured by lies and betrayal. Her best friend Kyle is hiding his own dark secrets, and her mysterious new neighbor, Devendra, seems to know a lot more than he’s telling. Struggling between her opposing halves and her attraction to the boys tied to each of them, Sera must become the goddess she was meant to be, or risk failing, which means sacrificing the world she was born to protect.


Advice from Yvonne Ventresca, author of Black Flowers, White Lies and Pandemic

Nabokov said, “The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they are up there, throw rocks at them.” When you’re plotting, make sure that the rocks (or complications) you choose are meaningful. During one chapter of Pandemic, I needed “something bad” to happen. My initial thought was that a house burns down. While that did qualify as something bad, it didn’t really fit. A better complication was that looters steal the main character’s supplies and make her fear for her safety, a running concern throughout the story. So don’t use random rocks—choose them wisely.

black-flowers-white-lies-9781510709881Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.


Advice from Randall Platt, author of Incommunicado

Randall Platt’s Writer’s Toolbox—it’s fun, it’s useful, and it’s portable!

cat-hanging-in-tree-w-text

  • A thick skin to ward off the naysayers, critics, and rejections
  • A healthy ego demanding, “What I have to say is worthy of being read!”
  • The courage to come back better and stronger, time after time after time
  • The grace to accept a bad review, even from Mumzie
  • Duct tape to cover my mouth to remind me that the best way to save face is to keep the lower end of it closed (especially with Mumzie)
  • A pen (or reasonable facsimile)

There you are! Go get ’em!

incommunicado-9781629146461Just about everyone is incommunicado in the small, sleepy Oregon coastal town of Sea Park during the winter of 1941. That is, until Pearl Harbor is attacked. Then Sea Park springs to patriotic life. But is Ruby Opal Pearl (aka Jewels) Stokes the only person to see what’s really happening here? Tommy Kaye, the one person in her life who has provided security, shelter, and a smidgeon of respect—and who owns the biggest resort on the coast—is now the cause of the town’s rage. Tommy’s Japanese ancestry makes him the prime target of an angry mob, not to mention he’s also rich, has a shady past (which includes Jewels’s eccentric mother), and everyone in town owes him money.

As the town’s patriotism blossoms into paranoia and turns violent, Jewels has to do something to protect Tommy from internment (or worse), even if that something is going up against the town and the government, not to mention the FBI. Thus begins a twelve-year-old girl’s war within a war.

 

 


Advice from Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of Fear the Drowning Deep

When you’re stuck, moving past the block is the hardest thing.

My advice on how to push through while drafting is to focus on the next scene you’re really excited to write (for me, usually a romantic scene!). Hold that exciting scene in your mind, as it’ll motivate you to keep drafting so you can get to the good stuff!

Some s9781510703483-frontcoverecrets are better left at the bottom of the ocean.

Sixteen-year-old Bridey Corkill longs to leave her small island and see the world; the farther from the sea, the better. When Bridey was young, she witnessed something lure her granddad off a cliff and into a watery grave with a smile on his face. Now, in 1913, those haunting memories are dredged to the surface when a young woman is found drowned on the beach. Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her Granddad to leap has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, people in Bridey’s idyllic village begin vanishing, and she finds an injured boy on the shore—an outsider who can’t remember who he is or where he’s from. Bridey’s family takes him in so he can rest and heal. In exchange for saving his life, he teaches Bridey how to master her fear of the water—stealing her heart in the process.

But something sinister is lurking in the deep, and Bridey must gather her courage to figure out who—or what—is plaguing her village, and find a way to stop it before she loses everyone she loves.


Advice from Tara Sim, author of Timekeeper

Struggling t9781510706187-frontcovero write your next scene or chapter? Think about the most interesting part of the scene you’re about to write. Begin there.

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his pat, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.

The first book in a dazzling new steampunk-fantasy trilogy, Timekeeper introduces a magical world of mythology and innovation that readers will never want to leave.

 

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Q&A with DOUBLE EXPOSURE Author Bridget Birdsall

We’re delighted to have Bridget Birdsall joining us today on the blog. Her fabulous debut novel, Double Exposure, is out in paperback this month—so if you haven’t yet read it, now’s the time! And we can’t wait for her to share a little more about herself with us today.


1. Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

It may sound dramatic to say that books saved my life, but for me, it’s true.

I desperately wanted to read, but a fairly chaotic home life and serious struggles with dyslexia created challenges in my ability to both read and write. Yet deep in my soul I yearned to connect with others. It was a book called The Sojourner, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, that unlocked some secret code in my soul—a protagonist twice my age, from a different place and time, taught me I was not alone.

Today, I write for young people of all ages, including those that live within us, no matter how old they may be. I do not limit myself to any particular genre, but instead aspire to write books that touch people’s hearts, especially young people’s.

I read for the same reason: to connect. I believe some of the best fiction being written today is in the young adult genre. My fiction focuses on the struggles of those whose stories need to be told, from those whose voices need to be heard. Because these are the books I want to read.

Double Exposure is clearly young adult fiction with a realistic bent, but I am currently working on a middle grade cowgirl novel, and helping an amazing woman tell her story, a James Bond feminist spy-thriller.

Never fear, though; I have more young adult novels percolating inside of me. Including one that tackles another tough topic. Stay tuned.

2. What are you reading right now?

Just finished reading a bunch of middle grade novels. My favorite pick from the pile would be The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones by Wendelin Van Draanen. Last night I started reading E.M. Kokie’s YA novel, Radical.

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

I would be a character in any of Roald Dahl’s books. Why? Because I love the sublimely subversive worlds he created. There are great to read aloud to a mixed age audience and, like me, Roald Dahl was dyslexic. His humorous,truth-infused stories inspired me, as young person who struggled with reading, to actually read. Today, his stories still warm my heart and make me laugh!

4. Where’s your favorite place to write? 

415w2dw2fil-_sx322_bo1204203200_I’ve learned to write wherever I am. However, my favorite place to write would be anywhere outside or near an open window (unless it’s twenty below), especially one with a view. In my home, when the weather cooperates, you’ll find me on the front porch or on the deck, tapping away while a remarkably authentic-looking, bubbling brook recirculates rain water.

I have also been known to write in the car, on the sofa, on my anti-gravity chair, standing up in my office at my desk, at coffee shops, libraries, and bus stops, on airplanes and trains.

But I no longer write in bed! Why? Because when I wrote Ordinary Angels I often wrote almost all night, albeit obsessively, because the book both haunted and possessed me. After I finished it I had completely exhausted myself and it took me two months to recover my regular sleep schedule and to even be able to write!

5. What’s your favorite classic movie?

It would have to be a tie between two very different movies: Star Wars, which I found to be completely captivating, and To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck, who in my opinion became Atticus Finch.

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

falcon3A talking falcon. Why? Birds ignite my imagination. They are magical. According to indigenous Shamans, birds are the original shape changers. They can transform themselves into any form they chose: human, angel, whatever. And as the story goes, my last name, which contains the word bird, comes from the royal falconers, those who cared for the royal falcon, who often resided in the castle where the birds where housed: a place called “bird’s hall.”

7. Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Dark: pure, full strength, good for the heart. Go deep, go big, or go home.

8. What’s your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. Experiencing the death of my brother at a very young age taught me that life is fragile, precious, and sometimes the brutal truth is that someone you love can be here today and gone tomorrow. Literally.

Practicing gratitude, even for the hard stuff in my life, keeps me from sinking into fear or grief or despair. It helps me remember what is truly important. Which has nothing to do with how many books I publish, how much money I make, or what kind of car I drive. Nope. None of that matters.

What matters? Did I love and treat with respect the people I was given to love, even the hard ones, even when the hard one was sometimes myself?

emoji9. What’s your favorite emoji?

Smiley face winking!

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

In truth, my focus was survival. But if you had asked me then, I probably would have said an artist. But only if you had let me whisper it in your ear, because my father told me repeatedly that artists starve, and at the time the idea that I might be a writer or a poet was a joke. Now who’s had the last laugh? HA!


Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall

double-exposure-9781510711587-final

Fifteen-year-old Alyx Atlas was raised as a boy, but she knows something others don’t: she’s a girl. Born intersex, Alyx has always questioned her gender identity and struggled to fit in. But it’s after her dad dies—and after she sustains a terrible beating from her classmates—that she decides she can’t live as a boy any longer. She and her mother move from California to Wisconsin to start a new life, and Alyx begins again, this time as a girl.

Alyx quickly earns a spot on the girls’ varsity basketball team, and for the first time in her life she feels like she fits in. But as the team racks up one victory after another and the state championships approach, a jealous teammate sets her sights on Alyx. Hotheaded and fiercely competitive, Pepper Pitmani is sure Alyx is keeping a secret, which Pepper is determined to reveal. If she succeeds, the truth could destroy Alyx’s one shot—not just to take home the trophy with her team, but to live as her true self.

Honest, raw, and uplifting, Double Exposure is for every teen who’s longed to be seen, struggled to find the courage to be different, or dared to face adversity head-on.


Bridget Birdsall believes books have the power to change and save lives. She grew up in Milwaukee, earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College, and now resides in Madison, Wisconsin.

Visit her online at www.bridgetbirdsall.com and on Twitter at @BridgetBirdy3.

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Danica Davidson on Writing the Unofficial Overworld Adventure Series

To celebrate the release of the sixth and final book in her Unofficial Overworld Adventure series, we asked Danica Davidson to talk about the experience of writing the series. Read on below, and be sure to check out Danica’s other books here!

When I started writing Escape from the Overworld, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know if it were going to be a stand-alone book or a series, or what kids would think of my Minecraft/Earth worldbuilding.

Now there are six books in the series: Escape from the Overworld, Attack on the Overworld, The Rise of Herobrine, Down into the Nether, The Armies of Herobrine, and Battle with the Wither, which was just released this month. With all these books out, I can sit back and think how fun it’s been to tell all these stories and get to know these characters.

There are always bumps in writing, and some days my main character Stevie was a little more helpful than others in getting the words down (sometimes when you’re writing, it feels like your character is dictating it to you). Stevie turned out to be a really fun voice to tap into, because he’s so well-meaning but still makes plenty of mistakes, so he feels really honest.

Some of my favorite things about writing this series included Stevie’s total cluelessness about Earth culture and how to respond (like how he thinks fingers look like squid tentacles), the cast of characters (the kids Stevie, Maison, Alex, Yancy, and Destiny all have very distinct personalities), and trying to come up with cliffhangers for every chapter to keep the pace up. Yancy is the most entertaining character to write, because you never know what’s going to come out of his mouth (sometimes I don’t know until I’m writing!).

I also liked watching the characters grow, because on top of the action, I also wanted these books to have depth. Stevie is not the same person in Battle with the Wither that he was in Escape from the Overworld. I feel as if I grew as a person and as a writer during the course of this series. I’ve been writing stories since I was very little—I was dictating stories to my parents when I was three, and regularly writing novels starting in middle school—but after years of closed doors and rejection letters, these were my first published books, and they allowed me to call myself a professional novelist. I’ve wanted to be called that for years!

When you’re a writer, you get attached to your characters. Sometimes I even dream about these guys. I had a dream not long ago where Stevie was helping me sell copies of my books. Apparently he wanted everyone to know his story!

By the way, the release of each book was also a good excuse to pose my pets with the latest book, because I figure just about everyone likes pets. Can you say no to a pet and a book? I know I can’t, and I can’t say no to my characters, either.

porthosbook tippybook


Battle with the Wither by Danica Davidson

After finally defeating Herobrine and rescuing his father, Stevie is looking forward to putting the prophecy far behind him. Bidding his friends farewell, Stevie returns to the Overworld to make up for lost time with his dad.

But their reunion is cut short when a Wither attacks the Overworld, destroying their house. When Stevie rushes outside to survey the damage, he can’t believe his eyes; they’re surrounded by deadly ghasts, blazes, and zombie pigmen from the Nether! Somehow, Herobrine has found a way to retaliate from beyond the grave—and now the entire Overworld must face his vengeance.

In the exciting conclusion to the Unofficial Overworld Adventure series, it’s up to Stevie, his dad, and their friends to restore balance between the Overworld and the Nether, defeat the Wither, and—most importantly of all—protect each other.

Danica Davidson has written for MTV, The Onion, the Los Angeles Times and about fifty other publications. She is the author of the rest of the Overworld Adventure series, as well as the how-to guide Manga Art for Beginners, from Skyhorse Publishing.

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A Novel by the Numbers: Yvonne Ventresca Adds Up Her Work on Black Flowers, White Lies

To celebrate the release of her second novel, Black Flowers, White Lies (in stores now!), Yvonne Ventresca added up all the work—and fun!—that went into bringing the book into the world. Read on to find out what goes into publishing a novel. And if you’re in the New York/New Jersey area, be sure to scroll down for info about celebrating with us this weekend!


I majored in both computer science and English in college and before I was an author, I worked as a computer programmer. Writing novels is definitely my preferred career. I was an avid reader growing up and loved getting lost in a good book. I’m thrilled that now I’m creating stories that other teens can lose themselves in!

Once in a while, though, my analytical background does assert itself, and I crave concrete data and statistics. Writers often discuss their creative process, but I thought it would be interesting to share a bit of my writer’s journey in numbers.

Books written: 6 – two nonfiction books (Publishing: Careers for the 21st Century and Avril Lavigne: People in the News), two unpublished novels, and two published novels, Pandemic (Sky Pony Press, 2014), and Black Flowers, White Lies (Sky Pony Press, 2016).

Hours it took to write Black Flowers, White Lies: After many failed attempts at telling this story, I stopped revising and started completely over. At this point, I also decided to track how I spent my work-related time. The version of the novel that was acquired by Sky Pony took 383 hours to draft.

Number of conferences where I workshopped the manuscript (over several years): 14

Words in Black Flowers, White Lies: Approximately 54,000

Hours spent revising Black Flowers, White Lies since acquisition: My best guess is 168 hours. I didn’t do a great job of separating revising and proofreading time from other post-acquisition tasks (like reviewing the cover or researching publicity leads).

Number of shelter cats mentioned by name in the story: 10

Time spent on social media (including asking friends for names of their cats to be used for shelter cats in the story):  I have no idea! This is one area I stopped tracking because the “social” time tends to get merged with book promotion and research tasks.

Readers who enjoy the book: A large number, I hope!


Want to learn more about Black Flowers, White Lies and meet Yvonne in person?

YOU’RE INVITED!

Yvonne is celebrating the release of Black Flowers, White Lies with a book launch party at [words] Bookstore in Maplewood, NJ on Sunday, October 16th, at 2:00 pm. It’s open to the public and there’s a link to the e-vite here.


Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. When an eerie hand print appears on her mirror, she wonders if Dad’s warning her of danger as he did once before. Could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible? Or the grieving building superintendent? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her. Soon the evidence points to Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

Yvonne Ventresca Author PhotoYvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, Black Flowers, White Lies, was recently published by Sky Pony Press. BuzzFeed included it at the top of their new “must read” books: 23 YA Books That, Without a Doubt, You’ll Want to Read This Fall. Her debut YA novel, Pandemic, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for the Atlantic region. You can learn more about Yvonne and her books at YvonneVentresca.com.

Additional links for Yvonne: Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Instagram | Pinterest

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New for the Reader Who’s Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

Sky Pony is very excited to be releasing four brand new books for fans of Pokémon GO! Whether you’d rather crack open a guide to the game or read about kids who are just as obsessed with catching and battling Pokémon as we are, there’s something for everyone on sale now!


September 27, 2016:

Catching the Jigglypuff Thief by Alex Polan

Ethan, Devin, Carlo, and Gianna are Pokémon trainers—and with the help of their favorite Pokémon, from Pikachu to Charizard, they’re ready to take on both the real world and the virtual world in Pokémon GO. Determined to catch ‘em all, explore every PokéStop, and battle their way to the top, the friends join Team Mystic and spend their days hanging out at their local Gym, a doughnut shop.

But when someone breaks into the shop and steals a valuable batch of doughnuts, the friends are determined to put their brains and their games to work cracking the case. Then Devin discovers the first clue in her Pokédex; could the culprit be a member of Team Valor or Team Instinct, hoping to reduce the Gym’s Prestige? And can Team Mystic band together to track down the thief—and defend their Gym?

Fans of Pokémon GO will race to the end of this exciting first book in the Unofficial Adventures for Pokémon GO Players series!

 

Following Meowth’s Footprints by Alex Polan

following-meowths-footprintsWhen their neighbor’s cat goes missing, Ethan, Devin, Carlo, and Gianna grab their Poké Balls and Razz Berries and hit the streets to search for him. Along the way, they hope to catch a frisky Meowth, or even a legendary Mewtwo or mythical Mew.

But Team Mystic’s favorite Pokémon are just as elusive as the lost cat. Plus, someone or something is throwing the friends off track with misleading paw prints and meowing. Now the Pokémon-collectors-turned-sleuths have to choose which clues to follow—and which Pokémon to pursue. Can the friends use the knowledge and resourcefulness that earned their team its Prestige to find both the real cat and the Pokémon they dream of catching?

Fans of Pokémon GO will be on the edge of their seats as Team Mystic puts the clues together in this thrilling second book in the Unofficial Adventures for Pokémon GO Players series!

 

October 4, 2016:

Mini Hacks for Pokémon Go Players by Justin Ryan

Pokémon GO has taken the world by storm, and now everyone can play by using the Mini Hacks book to become a winner. If you’re a confused beginner, or a Level-Fifteen player, Mini Hacks for Pokémon GO Players will give you the basics on how to play the game. Includes tips and techniques for finding Pokémon, leveling up, PokéStops, and more. Also includes important information on issues like safety and extending battery life.

Written for Pokémon GO players ages seven and up, this book is an unofficial “hacker’s” guide to the game. The format follows Sky Pony’s bestselling Hacks for Minecrafters books, only in a smaller, more convenient mini size—but still contains the essential tricks and tips you need to become a Pokémon GO top level trainer!

 

Mini Hacks for Pokémon Go Players: Combat by Justin Ryan

mini-hacks-for-pokemon-go-combatPokémon GO has taken the world by storm, and now everyone can master the game by using the Mini Hacks book to play – and fight! Mini Hacks for Pokémon GO Players: Combat focuses on the battling element to the game. Includes tips and techniques for capturing Pokémon, training them in a gym, and then using them to battle other trainers. Which is, of course, the object of the game.

Written for Pokémon GO players ages seven and up, this book is an unofficial “hacker’s” guide to the game. The format follows our bestselling Hacks for Minecrafters books, only in a smaller, more convenient mini size—but still contains the essential tricks and tips you need to become a Pokémon GO top level trainer!

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Q&A with WELL OF PRAYERS author Anne Boles Levy

anne-boles-levy-headshot

We’re delighted to have Anne Boles Levy, author of The Well of Prayers: Book II of the Temple of Doubt Series, joining us today on the blog. We can’t wait for her to share a little more about herself with us!


1. Why did you gravitate to the genre that you write in?

I’ve never had a solid grip on reality, and fantasy always seemed like a fun escape. My brother loved fantasy growing up and back then, there were few female protagonists. So I’d read his books and imagine myself in them as a hero, not a love interest, and I never quite grew out of that phase.

2. What are you reading right now?

Tragically, I’m reading students’ composition notebooks right now, and my brain is numb. I have “Benchmark” by Georgie Hanlin and Shannon Swann sitting on my Kindle app, plus Anne A. Wilson’s “Clear to Lift,” which is a grown-up romance. Both authors live near me, and I’m making a bigger push to support authors I know, since they’ve done that for me. And both books look great! I just don’t have this little thing called “spare time,” at least until winter break.

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

You would not believe how much I identified with the ugly duckling growing up. Even as a little kid, I was a misfit pretty much everywhere. I had zero social skills and, on an awkwardness scale of 1 to 10, I was about a 20. So even as a wee lass, the idea that I might grow up to be someone lovely had a special hold on me. In the meantime, I felt for that poor duckling and how no one accepted it with all its flaws.

4. Where’s your favorite place to write? 

In bed, with the laptop on my knees and the cat eyeing me suspiciously, because obviously if I have a laptop, I’m not about to feed him. And that makes me less than useless to him. I don’t know why, but it’s never the same without him there.

Image result for When Harry Met Sally5. What’s your favorite classic movie?

I’m a sucker for “When Harry Met Sally.” Once upon a time, I lived in New York and felt like maybe the city would sweep me off my feet, and I’d have a best friend-turned-soulmate and Harry Connick Jr. would provide the soundtrack for our lives, and we’d even have a cool apartment. Guess what — none of that happened. New York proved wildly expensive and depressing, and the love of my life met up with me in Florida, before schlepping me off to Arizona, where my kids’ favorite anime soundtracks are more of a constant background noise. But I still love the movie.

6. If you could have any animal as a pet (current or extinct), what would it be?Image result for Buckbeak

One of my students suggested a hippogriff, but sadly, the question doesn’t say it allows mythical beasts, though that would be the coolest. So if you’re not going to let me fly around on Buckbeak, I have to admit I’m a hardcore cat lady. We only have one right now, but we aim to grow our little family. My husband told my daughter we’d get a kitten if she got straight A’s, which prompted all her grades to drop to basement levels. Sigh. So I’m waiting until either my husband or daughter gives in. It is hard to live with stubborn people, which is why I need more cats.

7. Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

DARK. How is this even a question?

8. What’s your favorite holiday?

Oooh … tough one. I guess it has to be Thanksgiving because it has so many happy associations. I grew up going to my aunt and uncle’s and eating myself silly. So much good food, and all my old great aunties would fuss over me. There was so much love there, even with all the gossiping and chaos and never-ending family feuds. It’s where I got the idea for my character’s sprawling family.

In recent years, it’s just been the four of us, plus my mother-in-law, but I think we’re going to start asking other folks over who don’t have other relatives around. My husband is a wonder with a carving knife, and I love the smell of all those yummies baking. And it’s a holiday that can be depressing if spent alone, so all the more reason to open our doors.

9. What’s your favorite emoji?Image result for eyeroll gif

For some mystifying reason, it doesn’t exist yet. It’s the “I’ve run out of f—-s to give” and features the eyes rolling. I would use it for about two-thirds of my Facebook feed, at least until after the election.

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

Big surprise – I always wanted to be a writer. I definitely didn’t want to be a teacher. I’m both now, and life is pretty good. It’s important to be open to possibilities.


The Well of Prayers: Book II of the Temple of Doubt Series

The follow-up to The Temple of Doubt, by the author who Jonathan Maberry called “a powerful new voice in teen fantasy fiction. . . . Expect great things!”

Hadara, now sixteen years old, is still recovering from the night she assisted the Azwans, mighty magi, in destroying a demon that fell from the stars. She has a new job as an apprentice healer and wants to put her past—and her doubts—behind her.

On the planet Kuldor and beyond, it is deemed a sin to doubt the god Nihil’s magic, and heresy to fail to worship him correctly. The Azwans, still on Hadara’s island home, have begun punishing disbelievers with a vengeance.

Hadara can’t shake her own skepticism, though, especially when she suspects that the demon they destroyed isn’t entirely gone. What if bits and pieces are, in fact, floating around inside her and maybe taking root? Since she stood at the altar that fateful night, she’s developed the ability to understand foreign tongues, among other odd talents she never had before. Had she perhaps swallowed some part of the dying demon? She suspects no one can answer that question for her, but she doesn’t trust anyone enough to ask it.

But then a temple guard who she once thought was dead comes back into her life and points her toward new truths and a new sense of purpose: somewhere in the murky jungles surrounding her city, another people beckon her and demand she fulfill the destiny foretold by the falling star.


Anne Boles Levy currently teaches English to middle schoolers after more than two decades of writing and editing for print, web, and radio. Anne is a graduate of Smith College and studied abroad at University College London. She also has her master’s in journalism from Columbia University. Anne is an amateur silversmith and the absentminded wife to her long-suffering husband, Brett. They run around after two children and a cat in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Visit her online at www.anneboleslevy.com and on Twitter @zaftigbabe.

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