MG Book Review: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

 

ghostsCatrina and her family move from Southern California to the coast of Northern California for her younger sister’s health.  Maya has cystic fibrosis and the cleaner, cooler air blowing in from the Pacific Ocean is better for her lungs. Cystic fibrosis is incurable and Cat knows that someday Maya will die of it. Cat doesn’t want to leave her friends and start over at a new middle school and she feels guilty for not wanting to do what is best for Maya.

The new town has a reputation as a great place for ghosts because the townspeople enjoy celebrating Dia de los Muertos- Day of the Dead. Cat is frightened by the whole idea of ghosts and wants nothing to do with them. But Maya is fascinated with the spirit world and talks their neighbor Carlos into giving them a ghost tour of the old amusement park. On the tour, they do see ghosts and Maya is thrilled, but she has a terrible breathing attack and ends up in the hospital. She almost dies.

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The Writer’s Block: An Interview with Bryce Moore

As Middle Grade Bloggers, we get the opportunity to review books before they hit the shelves. Luckily, we had the privileged of getting Bryce Moore’s book, The Memory Thief, before it made its way to Barnes & Noble. Even better is that the author agreed to answer our questions.

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Middle Grade Mafia: Each author’s path to becoming a published author is unique. Please share your journey to getting THE MEMORY THIEF on the shelves.

The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore

Bryce Moore: After VODNIK came out in 2012, I was at a point where I’d completed all of my current novels, and I wanted to try something new. My wife and I at the time had a series of medical appointments in Portland, almost two hours away from our house. So we had plenty of time in the car together with nothing to do but talk. On one trip, I was stressed because I had no time to get my writing done that day, and my wife suggested we come up with a story idea as we drove. We came up with the magic system (how to steal memories and share them with others) on the way. I coupled that concept with the memory of awesome Disney horror movies I watched when I was a kid. (Something Wicked This Way Comes and Watcher in the Woods were the two that I loved the most.)

The book practically wrote itself after that.

Getting it published was much rockier. We sold it to one publisher, only to have them shutter their doors a few months later, leaving the book orphaned. That’s where my new publisher, Adaptive, stepped in. They’re all about finding lost projects (typically screenplays, but occasionally books) and breathing new life into them. My editor at the first publisher had found a new home at Adaptive, and she suggested MEMORY THIEF would be an excellent addition to their slate.

They agreed.

MGM: What is your writing process? Do you plot out the whole book before starting or are do you have an idea or character and see where it goes?

BM: I’m always tweaking my process, trying to find the approach that works best for me at any one time. I’ve plotted out a novel down to the tiny details, but in the end, I found out that a lot of what keeps me going as a writer is finding out what happens next. When I already know everything, I don’t feel the need to write it.

These days I generally start out with a general description of the book. What the main conflicts are and how most of it plays out. That document is probably only a couple of pages long. From that initial kernel, I write the whole book in one go, almost always in order (start at the beginning, end at the end), though occasionally I’ll jump ahead in the plot if things are getting bogged down.

After I’m finished with a first draft, I like to set it aside for three months or so. I then come back to it with fresh eyes so I can begin the revision process, which is typically extensive. Continue reading


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MG Book Review – The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore

The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore

Buckle your seat belts. Sit back. Enjoy the ride. The Memory Thief is a fast paced middle grade adventure that moves like an amusement park ride. The tracks are familiar. There are highs and lows, plenty of excitement and a few chills. But there’s an interesting twist too: it’s about memory.

When eleven-year old Benji runs into the Memory Emporium, a tent in his local county fair, he stumbles into much more than a feeble old man. He stumbles into a dangerous adventure that will test him. Not only will he come face to face with the excitement stealing memories brings, he will come face to face with temptation.

Do all memories matter? Wouldn’t we better off without some of them? When Benji starts “thieving” to make his twin sister and his parents “right,” he ends up with much more than he bargains for.

With a fast pace, a clever premise, a likeable main character and just enough danger to keep readers reading The Memory Thief is a must read.

Order it now with the book’s exclusive release through Barnes & Noble. The book will release September 20, 2016.

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MG News Alert: Mafia Member Wins Award!

There are three things that the Middle Grade Mafia loves – books, authors, and celebrations! Today we’re celebrating a member of the Mafia Family – Lisa Lewis Tyre!

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Lisa’s debut book, LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS, was selected by the Georgia Center of the Book as a Book All Young Georgians Should Read.

The Georgia Center for the Book is the state affiliate of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The lists are compiled annually from nominations received throughout the year by the writers, educators, librarians, media representatives, and individuals who comprise the Georgia Center for the Book Advisory Council.

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The GA Center for the Book  announced the winners at a ceremony in historic

Decatur, GA where Lisa was presented with this beautiful  award.

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If you haven’t purchased REBELS yet, or if you are looking for a perfect gift for a lover of great MG fiction, now is a perfect time. It just came out in paperback! Click here to buy now!

From Amazon:

Sheila Turnage meets Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie in this debut about a small town and a young girl who discovers some old family secrets.

Lou might be only twelve, but she’s never been one to take things sitting down. So when her Civil War-era house is about to be condemned, she’s determined to save it—either by getting it deemed a historic landmark or by finding the stash of gold rumored to be hidden nearby during the war. As Lou digs into the past, her eyes are opened when she finds that her ancestors ran the gamut of slave owners, renegades, thieves and abolitionists. Meanwhile, some incidents in her town show her that many Civil War era prejudices still survive and that the past can keep repeating itself if we let it. Digging into her past shows Lou that it’s never too late to fight injustice, and she starts to see the real value of understanding and exploring her roots.

Join the Mafia Family in sending a big CONGRATULATIONS to Lisa!

To see the complete GA Center for the Book list of selections, click here.

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MG Book Review: The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate by Mike Lowery

The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate

Book two in the Doodle Adventure series, THE PURSUIT OF THE PESKY PIZZA PIRATE by Mike Lowery proved to be another fun, interactive story that entertained my almost 9 year old son for hours.

The first book, THE SEARCH FOR THE SLIMY SPACE SLUGS, introduced a style of story telling where the child is part of the adventure by drawing pictures objects. The Pesky Pizza Pirate adventure follows the same formula of silly storytelling, wonderful doodle prompts, and outrageous fun.

This book is perfect replacement for “screen time” on long drives while giving the reader/doodler a sense of being a vital part of the secret mission.

Mike will be hosting a Doodle Adventure themed event at Paper Ghost Studio on Saturday, September 17 in Atlanta, GA.

To buy this book now, click here!

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What Type of Revision is Your Novel? by Janice Hardy

Not all revisions are created equal. Some manuscripts are clean first drafts that fell out of your head onto the page like they wanted to be written. Other stories fight you every step of the way and you have to whip them into submission to make the novel work. Still others are stories you wrote and revised countless times until they became a tangled mess (even though you still love that story and swear you’ll make it work).

Most writers will have a first draft that’s ready for revision. These will be split between manuscripts no one but you has seen, and manuscripts that have been through a round of beta readers or critique partners. The more uncommon revision will be a novel that you’ve revised countless times to make work and need extra help to finally get it there.

Let’s take a look at a few revision situations you might be facing:

Revising on Your Own

This is a typical first-draft revision, where no one but you has seen the manuscript. You want to make sure all the bugs are worked out before you show it to anyone, or you want to make sure it’s as complete as possible before asking for feedback.  Remember:

  • Give yourself the freedom to stink: First drafts don’t always stink, but a lot of them do, so don’t worry if yours is one of them. Revision is just how you clean up that mess.
  • Approach it like you’re doing a critique for a friend: Pretend your manuscript was written by a friend. What advice would you give about this story?
  • Don’t worry about the time it takes to revise: Rushing the work never results in the best work, and this can hurt you and your novel in the long run.

Revising From Feedback

This is a draft that’s been through critiques and has feedback to help guide you in your revision. It might be a first draft or a later draft. The hard part here is figuring out what feedback to heed and what to ignore. Some guidelines to consider:

  • Take every comment seriously: Ask yourself why the critiquer said it and try to see the underlying problem, then decide if it’s a comment that needs to be addressed or not.
  • If you’re not sure about a comment, think about why you’re resisting it: Sometimes feedback requires edits that scare you, or change something you love, or even use a skill you’re not sure you have.
  • Think about why the critiquer made the comment: Sometimes critiquers spot a problem and know something is off, but the trouble spot isn’t where they see it—it’s all in the setup, so the resolution isn’t coming through correctly.
  • If it’s a clarity issue, fix it, even if you think it’s clear: If a reader was confused, something wasn’t clear.
  • Do whatever serves the story best: Even great ideas can be the wrong ideas if they don’t fit the story you’re trying to tell.

Every writer gets a rough critique at some point, and it’s only natural to ignore words that hurt or sap your confidence. The danger comes when you consistently ignore the very advice that can help you just because it hurts or you don’t like it. If you’ve been revising novel after novel (or the same novel multiple times) and don’t feel you’re getting any better, step back, look at the situation objectively, and ask: Continue reading


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MG Book Launch: The Adventurer’s Guide to Great Escapes by Wade Albert White

Happy book birthday to THE ADVENTURER’S GUIDE TO GREAT ESCAPES by Wade Albert White. It seems like a thrilling, funny fantasy for kids and those who are kids at heart.

Adventurers Guide to Great Escapes by Wade Albert White

ABOUT THE BOOK:

A thrilling debut novel where fantasy and science fiction meet, dragons aren’t as innocent as they look, and nothing is quite what it seems.

Anne has spent most of her thirteen years dreaming of the day she and her best friend Penelope will finally leave Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children. When the big day arrives, a series of very curious happenings lead to Anne being charged with an epic quest. Anne, Penelope, and new questing partner Hiro have only days to travel to strange new locales, solve myriad riddles, and triumph over monstrous foes–or face the horrible consequences.
Packed with action, humor, and endless heart, this debut novel marks the first volume in an irresistible and original fantasy series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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Wade hails from Nova Scotia, Canada, land of wild blueberries and Duck Tolling Retrievers. He teaches part-time, dabbles in animation, and spends the rest of his time as a stay-at-home dad. It is also possible he has set a new record as the slowest 10K runner. Ever. He owns one pretend cat and one real one, and they get along fabulously.
Keep up with the latest with Wade through his website or follow him on Twitter.
To buy now, click here!

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Fantasy Research: How much do you need?

MTaraCrowl

Guest Post Contributor: Author, M. Tara Crowl

Everyone knows what a genie is, right? The basics, anyway: magical being, oil lamp, three wishes. But when I started writing a middle grade novel about a twelve-year-old genie who wants to be a regular girl, I realized very quickly that there were lots of things I didn’t know about genies. Where did they come from? Did they live in the lamp alone? How did they know what to do? Was one genie in the lamp forever, or were there different ones? Did one lamp circulate Earth, or were there several?

So I started to research. From One Thousand and One Nights to I Dream of Jeannie to Disney’s Aladdin, there are tons of sources to choose from. Before long, I was lost in the origins of the genie myth. And that’s when it hit me: this stuff is make-believe! All of it was imagined by someone. Why not me? That’s when I gave myself permission to make up my own answers.

When you’re writing about familiar fantasy tropes, a little research can be valuable. However, it’s easy to get bogged down. If you’re like me, you might even start to be afraid that you’ll do it wrong. That’s why it’s crucial to remember that even if you’re working with fantasy elements, your objective is still to give readers an engaging story with characters they can connect with. Every other element is a tool to help achieve that.

So I started to focus on making my protagonist, Eden, the realest twelve-year-old girl I could possibly create. Naturally, that required drawing upon my own experiences. For instance: when I was twelve, I wanted to explore and discover new things. I couldn’t wait to be 18, because then I’d be grown up and allowed to do anything I wanted. So for Eden, I made up a system in which each genie is required to grant 999 wishes before she can retire and leave the lamp. In this fantasy parallel to my own world, Eden is as eager to get through her wishes as I was to get through school.

The masters of Eden’s lamp were designed the same way. When I was Eden’s age, my parents were my providers, caretakers, and role models—but they also stood between me and the freedom I thought I was ready for. So I created parental figures for Eden in the form of Xavier and Goldie, the masters of her lamp. They clothe her, feed her, and give her lessons in the lamp, but they also enforce the lamp’s rules, punish her when she disobeys, and warn her about dangers on Earth.

And so forth. Anything from my genie research that would make my story more fun and engaging, I used. Anything that didn’t, I replaced with something different. Once I gave myself the authority to make the genie myth my own, my story came to life—and writing it became a lot more fun.

About M. Tara Crowl:  Tara’s Eden of the Lamp series is published by Disney-Hyperion. Her latest release, EDEN’S ESCAPE, was released on September 6 and is available to buy here. Ms. Crowl grew up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She studied Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, then received an MA in Creative Writing at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. She lives in New York City.

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About Eden’s Escape: 

Eden's Escape by M. Tara Crowl

Eden’s new life on earth begins in New York City under the guidance of her new guardian: Pepper, a petite, bubbly genie alum who’s also a Broadway actress. Before she has a chance to settle in, though, Eden is whisked away for a granting–only to find herself trapped in a laboratory. David Brightly, owner of the world’s leading tech company, cares more about tapping into the lamp’s power than making a wish and starts performing tests on Eden. With Brightly’s plasma shield around the lamp, Eden has no way home. Left without a choice, she escapes the lab and goes on the run. After her daring exit, Eden finds herself on the streets of Paris–home to Electra’s headquarters. Left in a strange city with a price on her head (courtesy of scheming Brightly), Eden has to keep her wits about her. She dons a chic disguise and flits around Paris incognito, investigating Brightly Tech. Assisted by Pepper and her old adversary Bola, as well as some new friends, Eden embarks on a quest to retrieve the lamp and protect the secrets of the genie legacy.

Goodreads    Amazon    Barnes and Noble    Indiebound

 


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MG Book Launch: The Changlings by Christina Soontornvat

Happy belated book birthday to Christina Soontornvat’s debut MG novel. THE CHANGLINGS.

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About the book:

All Izzy wants is for something interesting to happen in her sleepy little town. But her wish becomes all too real when an enchanting song floats through the woods and lures her little sister Hen into the forest…where she vanishes.

A frantic search leads to a strange hole in the ground that Izzy enters. But on the other side she discovers that the hole was not a hole, this place is not Earth, and Hen is not lost. She’s been stolen away to the land of Faerie, and it’s up to Izzy to bring her home.

All Izzy wants is for something interesting to happen in her sleepy little town. But her wish becomes all too real when an enchanting song floats through the woods and lures her little sister Hen into the forest…where she vanishes.

A frantic search leads to a strange hole in the ground that Izzy enters. But on the other side she discovers that the hole was not a hole, this place is not Earth, and Hen is not lost. She’s been stolen away to the land of Faerie, and it’s up to Izzy to bring her home.

Buy it now!

Soontornvat 2_24Sep15_Cathlin McCullough Photography

About the author:

Christina Soontornvat spent her childhood in small Texas towns, eagerly waiting for the fairies to come and kidnap her. They never came, but she still believes magic things can happen to ordinary people. When not writing, Christina hangs out in science museums and takes care of her own little goblins—ahem—children. She lives in Austin, Texas. The Changelings is her first novel.

Keep up with Christina: Website   Twitter

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MG Book Release – Eden’s Escape by M. Tara Crowl

Eden's Escape by M. Tara Crowl

Happy Book Birthday to EDEN”S ESCAPE by M. Tara Crowl. Eden’s Escape is the second book in the Eden of the Lamp series.

These two books are marvelous adventure stories for middle grade girls. The idea of a girl genie who wants her own wish to come true is a delightful idea. Eden wants to live outside of her beautiful bottle and be a regular girl. She makes all kinds of unsettling discoveries but builds strong friendships along the way. She must learn who is friend and who is foe among both the genie world and the real world. There are some wonderful twists and turns and evil villans who want the power of the lamp all to themselves.

There’s plenty of action, friendships, travel, conflicts and even fashion. M. Tara Crowl has a magical imagination.

About the Book – Eden’s greatest wish has finally come true. No longer confined to her lamp, she begins a spectacular life in Manhattan with her new guardian, Pepper, a bubbly genie alum who’s also a Broadway actress. Eden only gets a taste of the city’s wonders before she’s whisked away for a wish granting–she is still a genie with a job, after all.

Click here to buy now!


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