Monday, November 25, 2013

Being There: The Adventures and Misadventures Middle Grade Book Tour

In mid-November, seven MG Luckies traveled from Richmond, Virginia to Jersey City, New Jersey in an old-fashioned book tour: Caroline Carlson (Magic Marks the Spot, HarperCollins), Melanie Crowder (Parched, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Elisabeth Dahl (Genie Wishes, Amulet), Kit Grindstaff (The Flame in the Mist, Delacorte), Kristen Kittscher (The Wig in the Window, HarperCollins), Jennifer Ann Mann (Sunny Sweet Is So Not Sorry, Bloomsbury), and A.B. Westrick (Brotherhood, Viking)

We could have stayed home and Skyped with the schools and libraries, and easily mailed out our author-signed bookplates to the bookstores. But no…we showed up. And by no means am I putting down technology that connects us to readers across the United States and beyond. These technologies offer us extraordinary opportunities to meet with children, teachers, librarians, and booksellers. What I am saying is that nothing beats being there when it comes to connecting with other humans. I’m even willing to take it one step further: Meaningful relationships require our actual physical presence.

So what do you get for the price of physical connection? Everything!

There were so many lovely interactions that the tour made possible, but one of my favorites was after our Ridley Middle School event. Because we wrapped up our event at dismissal time, we all--authors and students both--poured out of the building at once. Suddenly we weren't authors on an elevated stage anymore--we were just people like them, walking down the sidewalk to our cars and buses, energized by the bright, warm November day. As we walked, we chatted a little, here and there, until fanning out into the city again. I like thinking that in moments like these, students saw us as real people doing regular jobs--jobs that they too could have someday.” –Elisabeth Dahl

For me, the highlights are talking with kids who love to read, kids who love stories, and kids who think they might want to be writers some day. At bbgb bookstore in Richmond, one family drove an hour and fifteen minutes to see us, and when we did the Q&A time, one of the kids (upper-elementary age) asked us what inspired us to become writers or to write the stories that we'd written. I loved that -- it was a reminder that kids as young as elementary school are already looking for inspiration!” –Anne Westrick

My favorite moment of the tour was sitting down with a group of kids at Cockeysville Library near Baltimore, Maryland and helping them develop their own characters for stories. Sitting elbow to elbow, writing together, laughing at some of the silliness we came up with sure beats long solitary days in front of the computer wrestling with self-doubt. It's always fun to share The Wig in the Window with kids, but helping them ignite their own imaginations right there in person? That's the best of all." –Kristen Kittscher

I love doing school visits and bookstore events, and creating what I hope are fun and memorable experiences for the kids. On our Luckies tour, having seven authors present ramped up the energy and fun factor exponentially. To me, the two high spots in that regard were our Cockeysville Public Library tween/teen writing workshop and our Ridley Middle School visit. You could feel the excitement in the air; the kids' enthusiasm to participate and ask questions was palpable. Those events will stay with me a long time - and I hope with the kids, too. And the thought that we might have fueled even one student's inspiration is icing on the cake - or actually, that is the cake!” –Kit Grindstaff

After addressing a huge crowd of Sixth Graders in a school outside of Philadelphia, they lined up with slips of papers in their hand in front of us (their pre-orders). The first little girl on my line walked up to me and said in the quietest voice ever, “I bought your book.” It took everything in me not to sob like a freak! She could have no idea how long I’d waited to hear that or just how stinkin’ happy I was that she’d bought my book.” –Jennifer Ann Mann

And here we are…being there.

Jennifer Ann Mann
October 1, 2013 Bloomsbury Publishing
May 1, 2014 Bloomsbury Publishing

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meanwhile Middle Grade Luckies Are Thankful For...

As our 2013 debut author year draws to a close, we thought it would be appropriate to pause, take stock and look back. Here are, mostly in thirteen words or less, some of the people and things we are so very grateful for.

Love, support, and laughs from family, friends, and readers. Also: wine, cheese, chocolate!

Caroline Carlson, author of MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT

I am so grateful for my writing community--VCFA, EMLA, Lucky 13s--especially my beta readers and writing partners. I couldn't do this without them!

Melanie Crowder, author of PARCHED

I'm grateful to longtime friends who have quietly tolerated this period of self-promotion.

Elisabeth Dahl, author of GENIE WISHES

I am most grateful for my husband. I adore his daily reminder that, “It’s not always about your book.”

Jennifer Ann Mann, author of SUNNY SWEET IS SO NOT SORRY

I’m grateful to be able to type, “I had a debut author year.”

James Iver Mattson, author of OH MY GODMOTHER: THE GLITTER TRAP

I am so grateful / for a whole plateful / of Lucky 13 writer friends.

Barbara Brauner, author of OH MY GODMOTHER: THE GLITTER TRAP

Tis cliché, but I’m grateful for seeing writing dreams come true this year.

Karen Harrington, author of SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY

Publishers, editors, writers, reviews,
The Lucky 13s and our Lucky debuts,
Teachers, librarians, booksellers, too,
Parents and children, book lovers and you!

Tamera Will Wissinger, author of GONE FISHING

Family, friends, Bluebonnet Committee Librarians, teachers, readers, Lucky 13ers, editors, agent and readers!

Polly Holyoke, author of THE NEPTUNE PROJECT

I’m grateful for my awesome readers. They’ve made it a wonderful debut year!

Claire M. Caterer, author of THE KEY & THE FLAME

I'm most thankful for Sourcebooks my publisher - they've done amazing things with RATCHET.

Nancy J. Cavanaugh, author of THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET

Supportive family, book finally released, pumpkin pie almonds, & a warm house.

Peggy Eddleman, author of SKYJUMPERS

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The 13th Day: Super-Awesome-Bomb-Diggity News

Some people may think that the number 13 is unlucky, but not those of us at The Lucky 13s! In fact, we're celebrating the 13th day of each month by featuring all the fabulous stuff that's been happening to The Lucky 13s.

Please raise a glass to our super-awesome-bomb-diggity news.... 
Translation rights for Brandy Colbert's POINTE have been sold to French publisher MSK. 

AFTER EDEN by Helen Douglas publishes in the US on 5th November and UK on 7th November. SLJ says "Time travel, love, and destiny combine to create a thrilling sci-fi love story."

Karen Chaplin at HarperTeen has pre-empted a YA novel by Kelly Fiore, author of Taste Test and the forthcoming Just Like the Movies. Her new book, The People vs. Cecelia Price, was pitched as Sara Zarr meets Breaking Bad; it features a teenage girl accused of murdering her drug-addicted brother, though the truth is a lot more complicated. It will be published in fall 2015; Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary and Media was the agent. 

Also...translation rights for Kelly Fiore's THE PEOPLE VS. CECELIA PRICE were sold to German publisher Coppenwrath. 

Elizabeth May's THE FALCONER got two lovely blurbs:  
“Simply put, my favorite YA paranormal this year. A must read!” And a review from Starburst Magazine calling it, "a memorable bit of fun, and one that you’re likely to want to re-read immediately. A stunning debut and very firmly recommended."
-Jennifer L. Armentrout

"A riveting world, a fierce heroine, and electrifying action--I burned through this sparkling debut!" 
-Sarah J. Maas 

Reviews of CONTROL by Lydia Kang are coming in! 
“A sweet, edgy romance rounds out this smart, futuristic medical thriller.”
-Publishers Weekly. 

“Steamy, romantic. . .scrupulous attention to scientific detail adds authenticity." 
-Kirkus Reviews 

April Tucholke's BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA got its 3rd starred review. Booklist said: 
“People die; children stalk the cemetery with stakes; and strange, alluring River delights and frightens Violet in equal measure... Moments of horror nestle against warm, dreamy kisses." 

FAKE ID got a glowing review from Kirkus: 
"Fast action, judicious plot twists, and sufficiently evil teens and adults should keep thrill-seeking readers awake long into the night." 

And his second Harper Children's book was announced in PM: "Lamar Giles's ENDANGERED, a teen photographer exposes the secrets of her cruel classmates on the web and unwittingly inspires a killer who gets closer with every shutter click, pitched as Veronica Mars meets Rear window, to Karen Chaplin at Harper Children's, for publication in January 2015, by Jamie Weiss Chilton at Andrea Brown Literary Agency (World)" 

NEARLY GONE has a new website.  Check it out here!

Four Luckies have been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal: 
Emily Murdoch with IF YOU FIND ME
Steph Kuehn with CHARM AND STRANGE 
Emma Pass with ACID

Demitria Lunetta's IN THE AFTER made Amazon's 2013 Best Books for Teens top twenty! 

Emily Murdoch's F YOU FIND ME: 
*Has been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal! 

*Will have the original, twenty page epilogue included as bonus material in the March/May 2014 paperback editions in the US and UK, with a new, gorgeous cover for the UK edition (and in the UK ... there will be ... shhh ... ARCs.) 

*Sold to Spain, Italy and Korea 

*Has been named a Goodreads Choice Awards Best Books of 2013 nominee in two categories: Best Debut Goodreads Author and Best Young Adult Fiction, so everyone go vote for your favorite books! 

MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT got a lovely review in this Sunday's New York Times! The reviewer says:
"The book is deliciously feminist but wears its politics lightly. Relationships are sweet and beautifully drawn, there is at least one laugh per page, and I quite enjoyed the notion of entrenched pirate bureaucracy." 

GONE FISHING: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Wissinger was nominated for a CYBILS Award.

Amie Kaufman (co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS) and Jay Kristoff (author of STORMDANCER) sold their new trilogy to Melanie Cecka at Knopf Children's in a major pre-empt. Book one, ILLUMINAE, is a found-footage style story pitched as Battlestar Galactica meets Ten Things I Hate About You, due out in 2015. 

And some great new cover reveals!!!!

Woo-hoo, Lucky 13s!

Rachele Alpine's young adult comtemporary novel CANARY is available now. She blogs, or you can find her onFacebookTwitter, and her website.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Book tours. Who does them these days? Only the lucky ones. But you know what they say about making your own luck, and the Lucky 13s are nothing if not Lucky, right? So seven of the twenty middle grade authors among us decided to organize our own mini East Coast tour. And it hits the road this week!
The idea was born back in August when Elisabeth Dahl emailed the other nineteen of us middle grade Luckies. The gist: How about we organize an event together? Or better yet, events? Seven of us were In. We Doodle-polled and Google-doc’d our way to pinning down a time frame and prospective itinerary. Those of us who lived near or had connections in our chosen locations contacted bookstores. Dates were firmed up. Not all of us could make every one, but most of us could make most. We were on our way.
And now, after months of planning, our VENTURES AND MISADVENTURES tour starts this Thursday, 11/14! We're revved up and ready to go, and hugely grateful to the store and library event organizers who so generously and enthusiastically opened their doors to us.   
So, who are “we”, what are our books, and where will we be? Read on!
 “There’s merriment and intrigue on the high seas in this debut novel… Carlson’s characters are as memorable as they are entertaining.”Publisher’s Weekly, *starred review*



The writing, especially the descriptions of the drought conditions and extreme thirst, is excellent.” —School Library Journal 

"Compassionate, optimistic, and creative, Genie overcomes conflicts with bullies and gossipers with grace and learns that she can find happiness just by being herself. Anxious upper elementary school readers will relate to Genie’s social conflicts and comfort in the book’s uncomplicated, speedy resolutions." Publisher’s Weekly

This fast-paced, action-packed romp has all the ingredients of a great mystery, and it does not leave out the angst felt by so many middle schoolers. Readers will see themselves and their friends in Sophie and her classmates, and they will have a difficult time tearing themselves away”—School Library Journal, *starred review*

JENNIFER ANN MANNSunny Sweet is So NOT Sorry

"If you love Beezus and Ramona...You know that having a little sister whose purpose in life is to annoy you is hard... and hilarious. ...Jennifer Ann Mann balances the characters' worries (being new at school, their parents' divorce) with humor."Redbook 


“Great historical fiction always feels like a gift… All the characters, dialogue, and action support each other deftly and with no filler.”VOYA Magazine *starred review*


"Richly atmospheric, this first novel paints a vivid picture of a heroine strong in her convictions and determination in the face of a centuries-old adversarial power."—Booklist


Thursday, November 14:  Richmond, VA. 
School visit, followed by event at bbgb Books, 3100 Kensington Ave, Richmond. 4 – 5 pm.
With Anne Westrick, Elisabeth Dahl, Kristen Kittscher and Melanie Crowder.

Friday, November 15:  Alexandria, VA. 
Event at Hooray for Books, 1555 King St., Alexandria. 6:30 – 8:00 pm.
With Anne Westrick, Elisabeth Dahl, Kristen Kittscher, Melanie Crowder and Kit Grindstaff.

Saturday, November 16:  Near Baltimore, MD. 
Tween writers’ workshop and Q&A at Cockeysville Public Library, 9833 Greenside Dr, Cockeysville, MD. 2:00 – 3:30 pm.
With Elisabeth Dahl, Caroline Carlson, Kristen Kittscher, Melanie Crowder, Kit Grindstaff and Anne Westrick. Book sales provided by the Ivy Bookshop.

Sunday, November 17: Doylestown, PA. 
Panel Q&A, fun and games at The Doylestown Bookshop, 16, S. Main St., Doylestown. 2:004:00 pm.  
With all seven authors: Kit Grindstaff, Elisabeth Dahl, Caroline Carlson, Kristen Kittscher, Melanie Crowder, Anne Westrick and Jennifer Ann Mann

Monday, November 18: Havertown, PA. School visit, followed by panel and public meet and greet at the Haverford Township Free Library, 1601 Darby Rd., Havertown, PA. 4:00 pm.  
With all seven of us again.
Event organized and book sales provided by Children’s Book World, Haverford, PA.

Tuesday, November 19: In conjunction with Word Bookstore in Jersey City. Word is currently in mid-move, so details and location tbc. Probably evening, and it’s sure to be somewhere!
Watch this space…
With Kristen Kittscher, Elisabeth Dahl, Kit Grindstaff, and Jennifer Ann Mann.

Needless to say, we'll be available to sign our books at all of the above locations.

And that’s it! If you, or anyone you know, lives in any of the areas and are fans of a variety of middle grade fiction, and/or has children who are, we’d love to see you. And we'll be back on the blog for a post-tour round up by Jennifer in a couple of weeks. 

Kit Grindstaff is the author of The Flame in the Mist, a spooky, magical fantasy for lovers of middle grade fiction ages 9 to 90. A longtime professional pop song writer, Kit, who is English, lives with her husband in Pennsylvania. You can connect with her via her website, and pretty much tempt her to go anywhere there's great sushi and/or puppies.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Double Book Birthday for After Eden

This week I am celebrating two book birthdays for my debut novel AFTER EDEN which releases in the US on 5th November and in the UK and Commonwealth on 7th November. It's been 28 months since I signed a contract with Bloomsbury - but release week is finally here! And if you should see a copy in the wild - especially in the US or Commonwealth countries - I'd love it if you tweeted me a pic @helenmdouglas

The US cover for After Eden

Book blurb:

If love is in the stars, then it will find you, when you least expect it.

The mysterious Ryan appears in Eden's life suddenly - as if from nowhere. He's gorgeous, irresistible, but of all the girls vying for his attention, it's only Eden he seems interested in. Where has this beautiful boy come from, and why has he chosen her? But each time she discovers something new about Ryan, Eden edges closer to danger. What will happen when she works out the whole truth?

A truth which will make her fall for him even harder . . .

The UK cover for After Eden

After Eden can be purchased from your local bookstore or from the following online retailers:

In the US:

Barnes and Noble

In the UK:


And finally, a huge thank you to my lovely agent Julia Churchill, to Sarah Davies of The Greenhouse who dealt with book stuff stateside, to all the wonderful people at Bloomsbury - and not forgetting the brilliant, fun, supportive writers here at the Lucky 13s.