Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“I get up every morning determined both to change the world and to have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day difficult." ~ E. B. White ~

Some Gifts for my Writer Friends:

Poets & Writers Magazine published two essays arguing the importance of backstory. You can find the essays by clicking FOR and AGAINST.

An absolutely great and fun-to-read article from Writer’s Digest called 8 Things Star Wars Can Teach Us About Writing can be found by clicking HERE

 Darcy Pattison had a great post on dialogue recently. You can find it HERE

When I last posted, I offered a gently-read ARC of Shannon Messenger's wonderful book, Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile to one lucky reader/commenter. That lucky person is Faith Hough! WooHoo! Faith writes historical fiction and you can find out more about her on her web page.  Faith, it turns out, is with child, so probably needs a good book to read to help fill the waiting hours. Faith, I will be sending Exile to you this week. Didn't win? Worry not. I have another wonderful giveaway for you. Read on to the end.

Some years ago, I picked up a book by Cynthia Voigt. I think it was something one of my students recommended to me. It was called Homecoming and I didn't know when I started reading it that it was the first in a seven-book series. I started reading and couldn't get enough of those characters and their stories. I read right through the series and wished it hadn't ended. When I noticed a book by Ms. Voigt on my options for reviewing for the Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review, I grabbed it. It is the first in a series, and I don't know how many books will be in this series, but I suspect I will read every one. Here is the review I wrote for the Book Review of Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things.

Max is used to drama. His parents are both actors who have their own theatre company, but Max is unprepared for all the drama he’s about to face. His parents are summoned by a Maharajah to teach theatre halfway around the world. Max insists he wants to go with. They arrange a ticket for him, but the day they are to sail, Max is late to the dock, his parents already gone. Although only twelve, Max feels he can take care of himself and stay in his parents’ home. His grandmother lives just across the fence. But Max needs to earn money. His grandmother doesn’t make enough to keep him without help. Max looks for work, but finds nothing until one day he finds a toddler in the park. When he returns the child to his mother, he is rewarded. This leads to other jobs solving disappearances. Max has a knack for solving problems for others, but seems unable to find his parents or solve the mystery of a group of long-eared people who are trying to get into his house.
“He saw the thing happen in chunks, as if it was happening at two different times. But it wasn’t. It happened all at the same time. The front door of the house burst open and a man emerged.”
Cynthia Voigt has another great series on her hands that the middle-grade crowd will devour. It’s a
Cynthia Voigt
great, fun adventure.

I know this is a little brief, but I am super busy working on some things for submission, including a major rewrite of my first novel. I've learned a lot the last few years and have a much better idea of how to fix the manuscript.Oh, and I had a little success last week. I sold an action rhyme to Highlight's High Five magazine.

I am offering my gently-read copy of Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things to one lucky follower/commenter. If you tweet or post the link to this on Facebook or your own blog, please let me know and I will give you an extra entry for each that you do. Please check out Shannon Messenger's blog for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday blogs and giveaways. And don't forget to leave a comment please.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

"A lot of people in this world hear voices in their minds. Some are called crazy, and they lock themselves away in little rooms where they bang their heads against the wall all day. The others
are called writers and they pretty much do the same thing."  ~
Marion Steiger~

Some Gifts for My Writer Friends:  

Fresh eyes are always a good idea when working on a manuscript, but beyond your friends and critique partners, where can you go? I found a great resource recently. Jill Johse has a new business at She will read your entire manuscript, mark every little error you THINK you have abolished, give you very helpful notes (I received four pages!), with a quick turnaround for not much money. I was very pleased. Click HERE to learn all about it.

I think I have neglected to mention The Bookshelf Muse blog here. This blog is written by the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. Every writer should be reading this blog and should own their book. There is a veritable treasure trove of information on their site. This post talks about the physical attribute of voice and can be found by clicking HERE

My good friend and fellow blogger Morgan Mussell has a terrific post every writer should read, but especially writers of fantasy. I try to never miss his posts. They are always worth my time. Click HERE to find this thought-provoking post called Dreaming with Animals. 

You just can’t get enough good examples of how important showing versus telling really is. HERE is a terrific post on that from Adventures in YA Publishing, one of my favorite blogs. 

It is WINNER time.  Last time I offered two books in my giveaway, Whistle in the Dark and Hunter Moran Hangs Out. Our winner is ... wait for it ... Debi! WooHoo. Debi, I will be shipping your books this week. Congratulations and enjoy! If you didn't win, do not despair. I have another spectacular giveaway today. Read to the end to find out what it's all about.

Way back in January, I wrote a review of Shannon Messenger's wonderful middle-grade fantasy, Keeper of the Lost Cities. If you missed it, you can click HERE to read it. I don't have much patience when it comes to waiting for sequels, so I was thrilled when the publisher asked if I might like to have an ARC of the second book, Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile. I hopped right on that. Sequels are difficult, I think. The writer has to make the book stand on it's own in case someone hasn't read the prior book, yet one can't put in too much backstory or it will bog down. Shannon handled this masterfully. This book does stand on it's own, yet those of us who read the first book get just enough reminders of the first story to bridge the gap to the first. Nicely done, Shannon! 

Sophie, while on a hunt for a Sasquatch with Dex, Grady, and Sandor, instead finds an Alicorn, the rarest of animals. It looks like a unicorn crossed with Pegasus. When Sophie leaps with the Alicorn back to Havenfield, she manages it without coming apart. She names the creature Silveny, who makes it clear the only person she trusts is Sophie, and after some wrangling, the Council agrees to leave Silveny with her, Grady, and Edaline, but there are hard feelings on the part of some of the council members.
“This is who we’re trusting with the most important creature on our planet?” a sharp voice barked as Sophie flailed in the stinky waste—which was surprisingly glittery. Apparently she’s found the one thing sparkles didn’t make better.

The divided council spells trouble for both Sophie and others. Jealousy is a powerful emotion and
Shannon Messenger
drives people to do things they might not ever do otherwise. The kidnappers who had taken Sophie and Dex are still at large. Sophie finds messages from the mysterious Black Swan group, and finally she travels with Alden to Exile in an effort to garner very important information. The danger is greater than anything she has faced before.

It wasn’t rot or decay or waste like she would expect from a prison. Nor was it sulphur or magma, like the center of the earth should smell. The only word she could think of to describe it was “bleak.” If hopelessness had an odor it would smell like Exile. Sharp and stale and bitter.

This is a real page-turner. If you still aren't sure about getting it, I have a taste for you. Simon & Schuster has put the first two chapters on line for all to read. You can test drive Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile by clicking HERE, but be warned, you just might be caught up in it and end up pacing around muttering, "When will it come? What's taking so long?" But it's only a few days until it's out, so order yours now.

And don't forget to check out Shannon's wonderful blog from links to more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday bloggers. There are usually a few giveaways as well. Click HERE to find your way.

Now for the giveaway. You must be a follower, but that's easy. Check the information on the right to find and become a follower. Leave a comment. That will get your name into the hat. If you want your name in there more than one time, Tweet the link to this blog or post it on Facebook or your own blog and let me know. Your name will magically appear in the hat more than one time. If your name is drawn I will send you my gently-read ARC of this wonderful book.