From Sacramento to Visalia, I was thrilled to meet some inspiring authors, librarians and reading specialists at both the California Library Association conference in Sacramento and the California Reading Association conference in Visalia. Highlights were meeting six other debut authors from the Sweet Sixteens; sharing my signing table with friend and YA writer extraordinaire, Kim Culbertson, and sharing my love of middle grade in a presentation to educators wanting empathetic and challenging mg books for their students.
Very happy with this positive review from the website Mom-Spot.com. I love to think that girls and boys can't put The Lost Celt down. To visit the Mom-Spot.com review click here.
"Why We Like this Book:
- Page turner that keeps your interest from cover to cover
- Lots of twists and turns
- Story draws you in so deeply that you simply cannot put the book down
- Book will appeal to both boys and girls."
Four brave 12-year olds met with me for five three-hour sessions to think-up, plot, write and edit a book in a week. It was a blast with ideas flowing thick and fast and furious days of writing fuelled by Italian sodas.
Day 1: We brainstormed all the things we wanted in our book: flying leopards, red and black bugs, jungle adventures, eyes floating the dark and chocolate. We then wrote character studies, setting studies and our backstory.
Day 2: We plotted the entire book using Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" Beat Sheet. I then wrote a chapter summary for every chapter.
Days 3 and 4: We allocated the chapters and had to write a chapter an hour. Where necessary we all brainstormed the chapter to make sure that we were working in scene and to ensure we were evoking all the senses and emotions we needed.
Day 5: We edited, revised, illustrated the front cover, printed and bound our novel, Leona Bloom and the Drexonia Plants of Imaginus. It was completed literally on the dot of 12pm on Friday ready for our presentation and reading in the Book Passage Event Room. I'm very proud of my fearless fellow authors, Kate, Megan, Petra and Pilar.
Organized by Tiffany Jimenez at Book Passage, this conference was packed full of amazing presentations from the Keynote with Newbery Honor author Gennifer Choldenko, to Ying Compostine's no-holds-barred presentation on writing award-winning novels. I had a fantastic time presenting on Bravery in Middle Grade Fiction, (character and authorial) and sharing some of my experiences promoting a book published by a small press on an author panel with Esther Erhlich, Nest, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Guardian Herd series, and Ying Compostine, Revolution is not a Dinner Party. Thank you Tiffany for a fabulous conference!
Very excited to have been interviewed by Nicole as part of the YA Reads 2016 Debut Author Bash. YAReads is a tremendous resource if you are looking for information and reviews. Click here to read my interview.
Honored to be featured on El Space, L. Marie's award winning blog this Memorial Day. To read more about the inspiration for The Lost Celt, and to which time I'd like to travel back, click here. On pages 131-133 of The Lost Celt Mikey's teacher discusses the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, BTW.
Thank you to Tracy Reid and the 4th and 5th graders, at Ross School in Marin, and Ellie Jones and Allie Becker and their classes at Sterne School, in San Francisco, for welcoming me so warmly. I had a blast sharing my love of Roman and Celtic history and talking about the inspiration for The Lost Celt.
For the first time, and hopefully not the last, I was on the other side of the table signing books as part of the author reception at the NCIBA Spring Gathering on Sunday. So much fun to share my love of story and history with fellow booksellers. Only in a group of booksellers (and historians) would you get two people walk up consecutively, point to my necklace and say, "Oh isn't that Cernunnos from the Gundestrup Cauldron?"
So fortunate to have had a wonderful week talking about The Lost Celt to some of the most attentive and enthusistic kids in Marin County.
Favourite moments include: lines of kids waiting to try on my reproduction of the Snettisham torc…it's only brass, but it's still really heavy; kids sharing their love of Romans, Celts and ancient myths and having a young girl come up to me saying, "I'm just like you." She loves books about soldiers and yet she still likes "girl" things like ballet and fluffy animals. She seemed hugely relieved to share this, so I think I touched a chord. It worries me that in this "selfie, social media" age, girls might be forced into stereotypes and emphasizing looks more than ever.
Thank you so much to Nancy Bo Flood, herself an author, for reviewing The Lost Celt on the ReaderKidZ website and on The Pirate Tree, a blog dedicated to Social Justice in Children's Literature. Click here to read ReaderKidZ and here to read The Pirate Tree Blog. Nancy's new middle grade novel Soldier Sister, Fly Home comes out with Charlesbridge in Fall 2016.
It was such a privilege to be interviewed by, and chat on the phone to, Bree Barton, a Swanky Seventeens debut author whose own YA novel, Black Rose, comes out in Fall 2017 with Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins. Bree is just a delight and I have no doubt her book will be equally fabulous.
Checkout the interview here. We talked in depth about the inspirations, themes and issues of war in The Lost Celt.
Could there have been a better first school to visit, post-launch, with The Lost Celt than the Urban Promise Academy, Fruitvale, Oakland? Their school motto is "Developing Scholars, Warriors and Artists," so my character felt completely at home. I had a wonderful evening talking, and then whispering, about The Lost Celt. Yes, I'd lost my voice by the end of the evening, thanks to a cold at the weekend, but the UPA Jaguars just listened extra hard. Thank you!
Thank you to L. M. Quraishi for featuring The Lost Celt on her blog with this thoughtful review. Michelle is a fellow writer and member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Read the review here.
The wonderful bloggers at Kidliterati are featuring three or more "scoops" (great dollops of behind-the-scenes information) on a few debut novels every month to coincide with their launch dates. I'm so delighted that THE LOST CELT is featured this month. To find out my scoops click here.
Check out the blog of fellow debut author Patrick Samphire, Secrets of the Dragon Tomb, a fabulous middle grade sci-fi novel set on Mars in 1816. (What's not to like about that?) Patrick kindly featured The Lost Celt and several other debut novels on his blog. Click here to read more.
The Lost Celt is surrounded by greatness in this wonderful flyer created by the debut authors' group The Sweet Sixteens.
The Lost Celt is a Hot off the Press pick for the Children's Book Council February List. This is a huge thrill as other titles include Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde, Shannon and Dean Hale, Pax, Sara Pennypacker and fellow Sweet Sixteener, Lee Gjertson Malone's The Last Boy at St Edith's. Click here to see the full list.