Author and Illustrator, Patricia Keeler Takes On the Sky Pony Q & A

We’re excited for Spring weather and gearing up for the release of some amazing Spring books! To celebrate our excitement, we’re going to be featuring a month of Patricia Keeler! Stay tuned for some giveaways at the end!


 

Lizzie and Lou Seal is a beach mystery for the youngest kids. Lizzie races with her blow-up toy, Lou Seal, out of her beach trailer, across the boardwalk and down to the ocean. But Lou Seal is loosing her puff! A sharp-eyed reader will discover why! When will Lizzie notice? And can Lizzie fix Lou Seal?

Lizzie and Lou Seal will be on sale on April 4, 2017.

Questions for Patricia Keeler, Author and Illustrator of Lizzie and Lou Seal

 

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

I do picture books because the creation of new story ideas often makes me laugh. It’s just fun to write and draw stories that have blow-up seals for pets, bicycle wheels made of flowers, and rabbits in harlequin pants who carry umbrellas. Getting a story published is a wonderful way to share the joy!

 

Q:  Is it difficult to balance being both an author and illustrator?

Being an author/illustrator is a demanding job, so luckily I’m very good at keeping things under control.

Q:  What are you reading right now?

I’m loving the rhyming story of Leonard’s Beard by Nancy Cote and the button hoarding raccoon in Dewey Bob by J. Byron Schachner. And I want to be as adventurous as the Cinderella character who accidently leaves her pogo stick behind (that the prince finds) in the LOL book The Daring Prince Dashing written by Marilou T. Reeder and illustrated by Karl West.

 

Q:  What is your favorite place to create books?

I do my best work in my studio in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the middle of the night, in my pajamas. With jelly doughnuts.

 

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

When researching a picture book about African dance and culture, I came across an opaki. With the ears of a chihauhua, the body of a horse, and the legs of a zebra, this charming animal is actually in the camel family. An opaki can be found in the wild in the forests of the Congo.

It might be a squeeze to have an opaki in my tiny apartment, but there’s a story in the zeitgeist yet to be created about a magical African opaki!

Q:  What’s your favorite GIF?

Lizzie and Lou Seal wait, waiting for their new book!

 

Q:  Milk, dark or white chocolate?

Oh, no! Must I pick one? I love each one of their unique attributes!

 

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

My favorite book was the strange and wonderful Three Little Horses by Piet Worm. The main character, Peter, dressed up the three horses and took them to meet the queen. I wanted to grow up to ride horses or meet the queen, or both.


Let us know what was your favorite book as a child!

Leave the title and tell us why you loved it in the comment section below.

One entry will be chosen to receive Lizzie’s Favorite Flip Flop earrings!

And that’s not all!

Everyone leaving a comment in the month of March will have a chance to

win the grand prize of a manuscript critique

by Kylie Brien, Assistant Editor at Sky Pony Press!

Next Week:  The Making of Lizzie and Lou Seal

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Author Mark Eastburn Takes on the Sky Pony Press Q&A

Sky Pony author, Mark Eastburn takes on the Sky Pony Q&A and talks about his debut novel, Earning My Spots. Check it out!


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

I teach science to kids in the middle grades, so writing a book with characters who change into animals was a natural springboard to literature. I’ve always been fascinated by other living things, as well as world cultures, and Earning My Spots gave me the opportunity to learn more about both. The original inspiration for this story came through watching how my dog moved, and wondering how that might feel, but I didn’t want to write a typical werewolf (or weredog) story. The history of Africa is something that I’ve studied in my spare time, with a focus on the Jewish people of Ethiopia, and as it turns out, they are sometimes considered bouda, or “hyena people” in that part of the world. It was believed that they held special powers because of their abilities to make iron tools, and that they could transform into hyenas. Of course, a lot of this mythology is based on anti-Jewish bias, which unfortunately exists all over the world, but I decided to turn that superstition into a positive by showing hyenas to be the proud, intelligent, and brave hunters that they really are. In Africa, spotted hyenas and lions are in constant competition, and in some areas, lions scavenge far more than hyenas do. Hyena society is also dominated by females, who are larger and stronger than their male counterparts. I thought that would be an interesting contrast with most other predators—especially lions and wolves.

eastburnandrocky
Our Newfoundland dog has been my family’s faithful companion for the past six years, and he keeps my feet warm while I write!

 

Q: What are you reading right now?

At the moment, I am reading Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, since I’m convinced that kids these days really need to reconnect with nature. As a teacher, I know that there is a lot of enthusiasm for learning about the Earth’s fellow creatures, and I am trying to find more opportunities to make that possible. I’m also reading lots and lots of research papers on jumping spiders, ants, and acacia plants, since I’ve been doing research on the world’s only known vegetarian spider for my master’s degree.

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

I’d be Nate Twitchell from The Enormous Egg, or Louis from The Mysterious Tadpole. They’ve been favorites of mine for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always hoped to make surprising discoveries like they did.

Q: Where’s your favorite place to write?

I write in the room with my tortoises, who are named Leo and Josephine. They have deformed shells because they didn’t get proper care with a previous owner, but I’m trying to ensure that they get the best treatment possible. I also share the room with Green Fruit Loop, a little lizard that one of my students discovered in salad greens last year. That story made international news, and there is a whole list of articles about her on my website.

eastburn-tortoises
Leo and Josephine are still kind of shy, unless I’m bringing them food.

 

Q: What’s your favorite classic movie?

My favorite movie of all time would have to be Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, although I’m also a huge fan of the Star Wars movies and the original Jurassic Park . . . even though it had a lot of incorrect information about dinosaurs. For example, T. rex probably had some of the best eyes in the animal kingdom, and it wouldn’t have shaken the ground when it moved.

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

Given my previous answers on favorite books, I guess it’d be cool to have a pet Triceratops or Loch Ness monster, but I’ve already got lots of animals in my home. I’ve been thinking long and hard about getting a group of spiny tailed monitor lizards, because they look so cool, although I doubt that I have space with all of my other reptiles, including ten turtles, seven snakes, and my wall lizards from a small island off the coast of Italy. They’re actually bright blue!

eastburn-bluelizard
As soon as I learned about these blue wall lizards, I couldn’t help but buy a few. Last summer they laid eggs, so I might be getting more!

 

Q: Milk, dark, or white chocolate?

Dark chocolate, because it’s supposed to be healthier than the rest. It also needs to be sourced from Central America, since I used to walk through chocolate farms while I was living and working in Panama. I’m always looking for ways to help those farmers out, since their plantations can help protect the rainforest and the beautiful frogs that live on the tree trunks and forest floor.

eastburn-frog
Poison dart frogs love to hop around under chocolate plants!

 

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving, because it’s the time when people get together and nobody has to worry about gifts. It’s all about sharing time, and not material things. I also love the food!

Q: What’s your favorite emoji? OR What’s your favorite GIF?

Anything with a jumping spider in it, like this one:

via GIPHY

 

Or this one:

spider

 

I also really like pufferfish:

via GIPHY

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

I wanted to be an exotic pet veterinarian, and work with reptiles. The part about working with reptiles came through, although I never found the time to go to veterinary school. Maybe I will someday!


Earning My Spots by Mark Eastburn

earning-my-spots-9781510707788Sam and his family are the only werehyenas in their town, and they do their best to keep up their cover in front of the humans while the other more aggressive shifters mock the werehyena family for being weak and passive. But Sam sees no other life for himself, as he believes what he is told: he is inferior to the other shifters.

One night, a pack of shifters raids Sam’s house and takes his family, leaving him all alone. With the help of some new friends, Sam sets off on a journey from Vermont to South America to rescue his family. Along the way, he meets various shifters who aid him on his quest. He even meets a tribe of werehyenas in Louisiana who teach him how powerful his kind actually is and how far his ancestry goes back. From them, Sam learns he has a great destiny to fulfill.

As Sam draws closer to finding his family, he begins to understand how different the world of shifters is that exists outside of his small hometown. Shifters are tired of humans destroying their homes, and they want not only revenge but also to force humans into submission. It becomes clear that Sam is the only one who can stop a war that’s on the brink of erupting.

Fans of the Spirit Animals and Warriors series will enjoy accompanying Sam on his quest as he discovers not only that his destiny and inner strength are greater than he thought, but also that being a werehyena is not as laughable as he assumed.

 

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Fandom Fashion: Spin the Sky

Check out this outfit inspired by the cover of Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie!


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Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie

spin-the-sky-9781510706866Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. Forced to put up with the snide comments and hateful looks the townspeople throw at them, Mags thinks she’s destined to pay for the horrible, awful thing her mom did—and that she’s left her and Rose to deal with—until the day she dies.

But when a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. Not only have they spent the past fourteen years of their lives dancing side-by-side, dreaming of a day just like this, but also it could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to win the grand-prize money and get her and Rose out of Summerland, a chance to do the thing she loves most with everyone watching, a chance to show the town that she’s not—and has never been—a “no-good Woodson girl,” like her mother. But will the competition prove too steep? And will Mags be able to retain her friendship with George as they go head-to-head in tryouts? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

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Five Things Needed in Every Backpack

Deirdre Sullivan, author of Ming Goes to School shares her thoughts on the back-to-school season and a list of the top five things kids must have in their backpack for school!


Going back to school means different things for different families. I am a stay at home mom of four girls, so this time of year can pack in lots of emotions.  Marking the passage of time is always gut wrenching for me.  How is it possible they grow up so fast? And saying good-bye to the unscheduled lazy days of summer is never easy, but looking forward to the new school year can be full of excitement.

What has been successful for me over the last ten years is starting the school bedtime and wake-up routine a few weeks before the first day of school.  Getting the kids on school time seems to alleviate a lot of stress for them and they are well rested for the first day. We spend a good deal of time talking about the start of school and what my kids are looking forward to and what they are less excited about. This dialog uncovers fears or concerns they have and we address them far in advance of the first day.

The five things all kids must have in their backpacks is

  1. A Ming Goes to School picture book
  2. A little note of encouragement from me or their dad
  3. A lunchbox that they have helped pack to make sure it’s stuff they are guaranteed to eat and no one will be hungry
  4. School supplies
  5. Extra set of clothes, especially socks for their cubbies

As much as I cherish the summer days of sun-kissed cheeks and sprinkled ice cream cones, the first day of school has become one of my personal favorites. I’ve survived another summer, and I soak up every bit of silence in the house just before the school bell rings.

Here’s a picture of Deirdre at Ming’s age!

IMG_2237


Ming Goes to School by Deirdre Sullivan, illustrated by Maja Löfdahl

Ming Goes to School_coverMing goes to school, where she learns to say hello and good-bye. She meets new friends and introduces them to old friends (including her favorite teddy). She builds sandcastles and makes snow angels; she traces, glitters, and glues. She is so fearless that when held at sword point, she even walks the plank! And when she’s playing in the mud, she reaches out and touches the worms with her bare hands. But despite those brave deeds, she isn’t quite ready for the big red slide—not yet.

This is a very sweet story with soft, evocative watercolor illustrations that will help kids to grow comfortable with the idea of starting preschool. Ming is curious and playful and ready for adventure, but even she gets scared of new things sometimes. Kids will relate to her desires and fears and will be excited to see Ming at the top of the slide by the story’s end.

A quiet and reassuring picture book for preschoolers (3-5), this is a wonderful going-to-school story that can be read both at home and in the classroom or childcare center. The illustrations provide a lot of diversity of characters, making this feel like any classroom in any school in the country.

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Quotable Life Advice and TWO Giveaways!

Coming this fall, Sky Pony Press is publishing a lot of wonderful titles. We pulled quotable life advice that we love from a few of them. Check it out below and don’t forget to enter our giveaways below for your chance to win an advanced reader copy of Spin the Sky or Earning My Spots!


Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie

“We need to think about us for a change. We need to be who we want to be.”

Spin the Sky 9781510706866Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn’t know how. Forced to put up with the snide comments and hateful looks the townspeople throw at them, Mags thinks she’s destined to pay for the horrible, awful thing her mom did—and that she’s left her and Rose to deal with—until the day she dies.

But when a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags’s best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. Not only have they spent the past fourteen years of their lives dancing side-by-side, dreaming of a day just like this, but also it could be Mags’s chance of a lifetime—a chance to win the grand-prize money and get her and Rose out of Summerland, a chance to do the thing she loves most with everyone watching, a chance to show the town that she’s not—and has never been—a “no-good Woodson girl,” like her mother. But will the competition prove too steep? And will Mags be able to retain her friendship with George as they go head-to-head in tryouts? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

 

Earning My Spots by Mark Eastburn

“Be strong, be brave, and be smart.”

Earning My Spots 9781510707788Sam and his family are the only werehyenas in their town, and they do their best to keep up their cover in front of the humans while the other more aggressive shifters mock the werehyena family for being weak and passive. But Sam sees no other life for himself, as he believes what he is told: he is inferior to the other shifters.

One night, a pack of shifters raids Sam’s house and takes his family, leaving him all alone. With the help of some new friends, Sam sets off on a journey from Vermont to South America to rescue his family. Along the way, he meets various shifters who aid him on his quest. He even meets a tribe of werehyenas in Louisiana who teach him how powerful his kind actually is and how far his ancestry goes back. From them, Sam learns he has a great destiny to fulfill.

As Sam draws closer to finding his family, he begins to understand how different the world of shifters is that exists outside of his small hometown. Shifters are tired of humans destroying their homes, and they want not only revenge but also to force humans into submission. It becomes clear that Sam is the only one who can stop a war that’s on the brink of erupting.

Double Exposure by Bridget Birdsall

“Don’t let anyone hold you back from who you are or what you love.”

Double Exposure 9781510711587Fifteen-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.

Science No Fair, Project Droid #1  by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran

There’s no I in team, but sometimes it’s okay if there’s a droid.

Science No Fair 9781510710184It’s a pretty normal day for Logan Applebaum—until his inventor mother announces that she’s built him a new robot cousin. And Java may be really smart, but he’s also going to be a major handful. No one can know about his secret. This is going to be a long school year.

With the third grade science fair coming up, though, Logan thinks maybe a super computer cousin could come in handy and he’ll finally have a shot at beating the nosey Silverspoon twins who win at everything.

But when Sherry and Jerry steal Java as their partner, and then start suspecting something is up with the new kid, can Logan think fast before this crazy experiment becomes an epic disaster?

 

Monsterville: A Lissa Black Production by Sara S. Reida

“That’s always when the monsters get you. When you think you’re safe.”

Monsterville 9781510707337Beware what lurks beneath your bed. . . . It could lead to a monstrous adventure.

Thirteen-year-old Lissa Black is miserable when her parents force her to move from New York City (the perfect home for an aspiring writer/director/actress) to Freeburg, Pennsylvania, nowhere capital of the world. There’s nothing to do there, except play her little sister Haylie’s favorite new game, Monsterville, and hang out with her new neighbor Adam.

But when a walk in the woods lands her face-to-face with a swamp monster hungry for brains and then a Sasquatch that moos, even Lissa can’t call her new home totally boring. With Adam’s help, she catches the culprit behind the drama: a shape-shifting goblin who’s fled from the monster world of Down Below.

And what do you do with a creature that can be literally anything? Make monster movies, of course! Lissa is convinced that Blue will be the secret to her big break.

But when Haylie goes missing on Halloween, Lissa, Adam, and the monster must venture Down Below to stage a rescue—and face the real Monsterville, which is anything but a game.


 

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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.

IMG_0025
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.

2

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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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:

Mug

  • 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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