KidLit

Happy Book Birthday to JENNY AND THE ALIENS!

A huge and happy Book Birthday to Ryan Gebhart and OF JENNY AND THE ALIENS!

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When boy meets girl meets alien, the angst of first love gets an extraterrestrial intervention in a tale both outrageously funny and full of heart.

Ten years after Earth sent messages out into deep space, there has been an answer. Music from a distant planet has reached our radios. Are aliens about to invade? No one knows, and almost-eighteen-year-old Derek doesn’t really care, because at a wild end-of-the-world party, Jennifer Novak invites him to play beer pong. And things . . . progress from there. Derek is in love. Deeply, hopelessly in love. He wants it all—marriage, kids, growing old on a beach in Costa Rica. Jenny is The One.

But Jenny has other plans, and they may or may not include Derek. He’ll try anything to win her—even soliciting advice from the alien who shows up in his hometown. This alien might just be the answer to Derek’s problem. But is Derek willing to risk starting an interstellar war just to get the girl? And just how far will he travel to discover the mysteries of the universe—and love?

This perfectly off-kilter love story is ideal for jaded, philosophically minded teens as well as those who would appreciate the madcap genius of stealing shopping carts to turn them into gaming chairs.
—Booklist (starred review)

Original and witty.
—Kirkus Reviews

Find JENNY on Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, and Goodreads.

You can also check out Ryan’s incredibly funny middle-grade THERE WILL BE BEARS, and find Ryan on twitter.

Congrats Ryan!

Happy Pub Day to Ann Dee Ellis and YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER!

Happy Pub Day Ann Dee!

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Have I told you how much I love Ann Dee’s writing? I was a super fan long before we started working together, and now I’m so excited about her latest middle-grade, YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER.

Here’s what people are saying about it:

“When I closed the last page I wanted to jump on Olivia’s tramp, just to celebrate her resounding resilience. This book is a love story for all those kids who have had to grow up way too soon, but who also face life with commitment, fortitude and above all, dedication.”—KATHI APPELT, author of the Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist THE UNDERNEATH

“Olivia’s voice captured me from the first line, but it was her bravery and devotion to her family that kept me reading to the end. The only thing stronger than her imagination is her heart, and my own broke for her as I read. Unforgettable.”—CASSIE BEASLEY, author of the New York Times bestseller CIRCUS MIRANDUS

“I felt like I hit the jackpot when I read this book. Olivia’s story is lively, full of heart, and a must-read for anyone who knows what it feels like to hope and dream big.”—ALLY CONDIE, author of New York Times bestseller MATCHED and SUMMERLOST

“Distinct, colorful, richly imaginative, thoroughly authentic, often hilarious, and frequently heartbreaking…Readers of this memorable novel will feel like winners, too.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Olivia’s first-person narrative fills brief,expressive chapters where she mixes fantasy and real life at will, all in a lyrical, poetic voice. Ellisrealistically taps into the kind of magical thinking so typical of kids trying to solve big problems, andplenty of readers might recognize themselves in the appealingly optimistic, daydreaming Olivia.”—Booklist

For fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Katherine Applegate’s Crenshawcomes the humorous and heart aching story of one girl’s struggle to keep hope alive for her and her younger sister in Sunny Pines Trailer Park.

I highly recommend you order this book immediately. 

You can also find Ann Dee on her website (where she does awesome writer prompts) and twitter.

 

Congrats to Ashok Banker on Y.A. Deal with Delacorte!

In case you missed it on twitter last week, we are popping all the champagne over here for Ashok Banker and THE RISE TRILOGY.

Check out the announcement from Publishers Weekly:

Ashok Banker picKrista Marino at Delacorte has acquired, in a seven-figure preempt, author Ashok Banker‘s The Rise Trilogy, pitched as Six of Crows meets An Ember in the Ashes, with a cast featuring LGBTQIA, PoC, and differently abled protagonists. The #ownvoices series follows a young thief and her gang as they battle to overthrow a brutal tyrant and stay a demon invasion. Publication of the first book is planned for fall 2018; John Cusick at Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management brokered the deal for North American English rights.

Ashok reached out to me earlier this year, and I was immediately grabbed by this strange and wonderful universe he’d created. I don’t want to give too much away, but right there in the first chapters I found monsters rising up out of the floor to eat someone’s mother, a multi-faceted heist, and a roof top chase involving magic and flying police wagons. It was weird and wonderful and breathtaking, and I can’t wait for you all to read it. We found the perfect editor in Krista, who edits so many star fantasy writers and loved RISE as much as we do.

I knew I wanted to represent this story, but it wasn’t until Ashok and I got on the phone that I discovered what a warm, wise, and engaged person he is. Ashok is also incredibly humble, which is amazing given how much he’s achieved.

Ashok’s 54 books have sold over 3 million copies, been translated in eighteen languages, and sold in fifty-eight countries. If that weren’t enough, he’s also the pioneer of genre fiction in India; his internationally acclaimed Ramayana Series revolutionized Indian publishing, creating a genre called “Mytho”, now the biggest in the country. He is also the creator and screenwriter of the first Indian TV series in English, and co-creator and screenwriter of the first Malaysian TV series in English, the most watched “Mytho” TV series in India.

 

So yeah, the guy basically invented a genre.

You should follow Ashok on twitter for book news, and also his passionate advocacy for social justice and diversity in publishing: https://twitter.com/ashokkbanker

And more RISE news to come! Congrats Ashok!

S.K. Ali Talks Family, Togetherness, and Ramadan at NBC News

So cool to see SAINTS AND MISFITS author S.K. Ali talking about blended families, togetherness, and Ramadan with NBC News.

With my remarriage nine years ago, my single-parented family of three gained two appetite additions: the nuanced one of my gourmand husband and, for two to three months of the year, that of my teen stepson, Jochua, solidly rooted in good ol’ southern American fare.

Which, for him, being brought up as a Christian, includes bacon. (Thank Allah for quality halal beef bacon ready to do fill-in duty!)

You could say my son Hamza is also a meat ‘n potatoes kind of guy. Halal meat and turmeric-laced potatoes that is. My mother, an amazing cook, has nurtured his taste for good ol’ southern Indian fare.

And then my daughter, Bilqis, turned vegetarian four years ago. The kind of vegetarian who thrives on the sameness of her favorite foods, like veggie sushi rolls, with drizzled spicy sauce on top (i.e. she’ll eat it every day if she could).”

See the full article here.

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Check out SAINTS AND MISFITS (which has garnered three starred reviews!) on Goodreads, and pre-order on Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound.

Follow S.K. Ali on twitter at @sajidahwrites,

Congrats to SAINTS & MISFITS – 3 Starred Reviews!

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Saints and Misfits CoverSaints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

There are three kinds of people in my world:

1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose.

2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad.

Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.

But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?

3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories.

Like the monster at my mosque.

People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask.

Except me.

Check out SAINTS AND MISFITS on Goodreads, and pre-order on Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound.

Follow S.K. Ali, @sajidahwrites,

Happy Pub Day to Daddy Depot!

A huge hug and very happy book birthday to DADDY DEPOT, by Chana Stiefel, illustrated by Andy Snair.

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I’ll never forget the day, oh so many years ago now…I was hearing ten-minute pitches at the New Jersey SCBWI conference. In walked Chana (who apparently wasn’t originally scheduled to meet with me that day). She sat down and sold me on DADDY DEPOT in three lines. We’ve been working together ever since, and she’s got so many awesome new projects coming up. Congratulations Chana!

Come to Daddy Depot: The Dad Megastore! From Acrobats to Zookeepers, we have the perfect dad for you! Exchange your old dad for a brand-new one . . . TODAY!

Lizzie loves her dad, but he tells the same old jokes, falls asleep during story time, and gets distracted by football while Lizzie does her ballet twirls. When she sees an ad for a store called Daddy Depot, she decides to check it out―and finds dads of all kinds! Will Lizzie find the perfect dad? Join her on this sweet and silly adventure that celebrates fathers with lots of love.

 

 

Congrats to Megan and Jorge Lacera on Their Debut Deal!

A huge congrats to the phenomenally talented husband-and-wife team Megan and Jorge Lacera!

From Publishers Weekly:

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 11.18.29 AM.pngJessica Echeverria at Lee & Low has bought world rights in a two-book deal to Zombies Don’t Eat Veggies, the debut picture book by husband-and-wife team Megan and Jorge Lacera. The story follows Mo Romero, a young zombie who convinces his zombie parents to try (and love!) vegetables. Publication is scheduled for fall 2018; John M. Cusick at Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management negotiated the deal.

Guys this book is hilarious and sweet and delightful, whether or not you are pro-vegetable (and who isn’t pro-zombies?) Check out more from the Lacera family at http://www.studiolacera.com/

Welcome Jordan Reeves!!

I’m so excited to be working with the phenomenal Jordan Reeves!

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Jordan is an eleven-year-old inventor born with a limb difference. She built her own glitter-shooting prosthetic attachment called Project Unicorn, which is the epitome of awesome. Jordan advocates for science, education, awareness, and gives back to her community. Not to mention she’s a superstar, and has appeared on Shark Tank, the Rachel Ray Show, done her own TED talks, and been written about everywhere from CNN to The Nerdist.

Jordan is a true superhero, and has such an amazing story and message to share. You should check out Jordan’s rockstar mom, Jen, on her blog Born Just Right, which is all about Jordan’s life and experiences.

It’s an honor to be working with the Reeves!

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@jenleereeves
@bornjustright
Born Just Right Facebook page

Ten Cliches That Make Agents Roll Their Eyes

f3fc3c45fd59bc3cb7fe8ad224519132Great books break these rules all the time. I’ll say it again: great books break these rules ALL THE TIME.

But here are ten cliches agents see so often in queries and samples, they make us go “ugh, not again.”

 

  1. Characters running hands through their hair. This move almost certainly springs from the era of Jonathan Taylor Thomas hair.

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  2. Dead parents. It needs to be said, even though everyone does it, including me. But remember, grief is not a shortcut to character development.

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  3. Redheaded best friends. Poor redheads, always relegated to the position of bestie. Also, why are best friends so often the fun one, while the hero is a stick in the mud? Yes, shyness is relatable, but it’s okay for your main character to be a firecracker, too.

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  4. Alcoholic moms, especially ones that drink boxed wine. Like ‘Busy Dad’, ‘Drunk Mom’ has become a shorthand for suburban ennui and inattentive, embarrassing parenting. Unless your story is truly about substance abuse, try and find a fresh way to signal mom is less-than-perfect.

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  5. Car accidents! If you’re a parent in YA, you’re probably drunk or dead. If you’re a boyfriend, you’re probably two pages away from a horrible car accident. If Kaydan has to go, why not have him get hit by a falling tree, or skateboard into a meat grinder? Get creative!

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  6. Stories that open with characters moving to a new town. I’m not sure why this is such a common set-up, especially in YA and MG, but rather than kickstart the plot, this device can leave agents feeling like they’ve covering the same old territory. (Oops, slipped into “listicle” voice there. Sorry.)

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  7.  / being forced to spend the summer with grandparents / relatives / country bumpkins of any stripe. I think this one originated in romantic comedies, where the too-busy, too-snobby hero is brought down to earth by the love of a simple man. (There are actually quite a few great books that follow this trajectory, but again, agents see it too often.)

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  8. Amnesia. In chapter one. A great story can explore a hero’s rediscovery of her past, and this plot device isn’t an instant turn-off to agents, but if you’re setting out on your first draft, this may not be the best place to start.

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  9. “I bet you’re wondering how I got myself in this situation.” Direct-address to the reader pulls us out of the story and reminds us we’re being narrated to. I think this is something we’ve picked up from movies and t.v., but in novels we’re ALREADY being narrated to, and don’t need reminding. We want to be immersed in your story and identify with your hero, not hear her monologue.

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  10. Heterochromia. This is one of many writer shortcuts for ‘there’s something different / special about her.’ For some reason it’s usually attributed to girls rather than guys, and sometimes suggest the supernatural. Speaking of which, this picture is creepy.

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If you’ve already queried a sample with one or more of these elements, don’t panic. Agents look past this stuff to see what’s truly original about your work. BUT, while there’s nothing wrong with the above in an artistic sense, the best and most enticing writing feels fresh, so in the future, kill these darlings!

Are there any I missed? Add them in the comments!

Happy Pub Day, THE DOLL’S EYE!

Several years ago an author sent me one of the creepiest, delightful, unnerving, exciting stories I’d ever read, and today I’m so excited to see Marina Cohen’s THE DOLL’S EYE hit book shelves! Congratulations, Marina!

Doll's Eye_Cover“An ever present and always-growing sense of dread accompanied by an atmosphere of chills and mystery make this perfect for reading in the closet under the cover of night.”―Kirkus Reviews

“Cohen crafts a pleasingly shivery tale of greed, repercussions, and innocence. A must-have for horror fans.”―School Library Journal

“Cohen makes maximum use of creaking doors and strange shadows to create a delightfully chilling atmosphere, while an unnerving neighbor and whispered rumors heighten the suspense.”―Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

All Hadley wants is for everything to go back to the way it used to be—back when she didn’t have to share her mother with her stepfather and stepbrother. Back when she wasn’t forced to live in a musty, decomposing house. Back when she had a life in the city with her friends.

As Hadley whiles away what’s left of her summer, exploring the nearby woods and splitting her time between her strange, bug-obsessed neighbor Gabe and the nice old lady that lives above the garage, she begins to notice the house isn’t just old and creaky. It’s full of secrets, just like appearance of a mysterious dollhouse and the family of perfect dolls she finds.

Oh, how she wishes her family were more like those lovely dolls! Then one day, Hadley discovers a lone glass eye rolling around the floor of the attic. Holding it close one night, she makes a wish that just might change her world forever.

You can order Marina’s super spooky THE INN BETWEEN on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

Check out Marina Cohen online and on twitter.