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Monday, May 18, 2015

The YA Dash!

Welcome YA-Dashers!

The YA Dash is an awesome contest running May 18-20, 2015, featuring ten YA suspense authors. We’re offering a chance to win a grand prize of all our featured books on this race. PLUS, all participants in the YA Dash will receive a mini e-book with never-before-scene CLASSIFIED material (like deleted scenes and inside info about the books!)

Here’s how to play:

1. Visit the blog of each author in the DASH (you’ll find a list of links to those sites at the end of this post). Blogs can be visited in any order but you must visit all 10 to get the clues to unlock the rafflecopter giveaway.

2. Each author’s blog will feature a post about the DASH including three statements consisting of two truths and one lie. You must read through the author’s bio and book info pages in order to decipher which of the statements is the lie. The clue you’ll need to remember is included within that lie statement so jot this clue down.

3. The sum of the “lie statements” is the Y A Dash Entry Code that you will need to enter into the rafflecopter. Once you’ve visited all ten blogs and found all 10 clues, you’ll have what you need to unlock the rafflecopter!!! 

4. Once the rafflecopter is unlocked, you can gain more entries by tweeting about the DASH and checking out the DASH authors' social media accounts.

5. Last but not least, on the days of the YA DASH, all of us authors will be tweeting additional truths and lies about our books, characters, and lives, using the hashtags #yadash and #truthorlie. Please join the fun and tweet your own truths and lies and feel free to chime in when you think we’re lying!

SO…. Not to keep you in suspense any longer  . . . here are my statements, based on info you can find on my Bio page and my LATITUDE ZERO book page. Which one is the lie???

1.     I’ve known since I was ten years old that I wanted to be a writer.
2.     In LATITUDE ZERO, cycling superstar Juan Carlos is dead by 2:00.
3.     In LATITUDE ZERO, Tessa Taylor travels from New England to Ecuador to find out who’s really behind pro-cyclist Juan Carlos’s death.

Remember, the lie contains your clue to unlocking the numerical Rafflecopter giveaway code. THE SUM OF ALL TEN CLUES UNLOCKS THE CODE. Good luck!!! (and thank you, Full Fathom Five Digital, Lucinda Literary, and T.A. Maclagan for your vision and your organizational wizardry!)

Here are the other websites you need to visit to discover your clues:

Here's the Rafflecopter thingie for the giveaway; enter the numerical code put together from all the clues! (they should add up to the number you will put in to unlock the giveaway details!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Thank you, Full Fathom Five Digital, Lucinda Literary, and T.A. Maclagan for your vision and your organizational wizardry!

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Get Ready for the YA Dash!

I'm very excited to be participating in the YA Dash! We're a group of 10 YA mystery/thriller/suspense authors, and we've created a fun challenge for readers! Visit our blogs between May 18-20, 2015, and find clues in our "two truths and a lie" statements about our new or forthcoming books. Use the clues to unlock a numerical entry code that will let you enter the Rafflecopter for our amazing grand prize giveaway! There are bonus prizes along the way, and all participants get a special e-book with CLASSIFIED information about us and our books!

Visit the YA Dash site for more information about all the authors and more details about how to play, and check back here Monday morning for my truths/lies and clue!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cover Reveal for Blue Voyage!

I am so excited to finally share the cover of my third young adult novel, BLUE VOYAGE! The reveal is being hosted by the fantastic digital magazine YA Interrobang, which is devoted to news and articles about all things YA.

I'm delighted to have the cover up there today because it feels like coming home in the blogosphere! Or full circle. Or something. Nicole Brinkley, the magazine's founder, was the first blogger I ever worked with when I was a debut author beginning to spread the word about TOKYO HEIST back in 2011. I did a guest post for Nicole's Word for Teens blog.

In fact, I'm so delighted to be featured at Nicole's new venue that I'm giving away TWO things over at YA Interrobang this week: an ARC (galley) of BLUE VOYAGE, which should be available in about a month, and a pre-order of the book on Amazon!

Also, I'm deeply grateful to the talented Kate Renner at Viking for this fantastic cover design! I think she perfectly captured the feel of a mystery set in Turkey, and the cover feels like an invitation to adventure. I hope you like it too!

So  . . . head on over to YA Interrobang and see it for yourself!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Little Free Libraries: Crackdown??

A Little Free Library in Seattle, WA
So as if there's not enough yucky news in the world right now . . . I just learned that some neighborhoods are cracking down on Little Free Libraries, of all things.

Little Free Libraries --tiny houses for a select number of books in public places -- have been sprouting up in neighborhoods around the U.S. since 2009. Built on the give-one-take-one principle, these miniature, uncurated libraries provide a great way to recycle or acquire used books. They are great community builders, too. They help put books in the vicinity of children and combat illiteracy. As bookstores have shuttered and regular libraries reduced their hours, the Little Free Library movement has been gaining traction.

So apparently, politicians in various towns and cities (Los Angeles, I'm looking at you . . . ) are considering these to be "illegal detached structures." They are requiring permits or threatening to tear them down.


Yep. Here's an article about it.

And another.

I'm glad to report that there is a neighborhood where Little Free Libraries are thriving and, so far, unthreatened by bureaucracy and city zoning laws! In Ballard, a neighborhood in Seattle, WA, there are NUMEROUS Little Free Libraries. On my visit there last week, my family and I went for a walk and found six within a several-block radius. Here are some pictures I took. We all found books and magazines to read and donated some of our used ones. My seven-year-old took a special delight in running to the little structures and seeing if anything new had shown up.

If you find these in a neighborhood near you, I encourage you to donate. Or why not start one yourself? The Little Free Libraries website has some great suggestions about how you can start or register a library, as well as how you can support this movement in lots of interesting ways!

What's in the Little Free Library today?


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How Book People Can Help Ferguson Youth

It's the day before Thanksgiving. As I sat down in my local library this morning to collect my thoughts and write an upbeat Thanksgiving-themed post, I found myself distracted by images from the news I'd seen last night and this morning. Images of protestors in Ferguson and in cities nationwide, including here in my own city of Boston, where 45 protestors were arrested last night. Instead of writing, I began scrolling through news feeds on my phone. As often happens during times of national crisis, natural disasters, or other all-consuming events we hear about in the news, I felt uninspired to write an upbeat blog post, and also utterly powerless. I am dismayed by this week's grand jury decision. But what can someone like me do to help? How and where can I direct my energy at a time like this?

Then I remembered I work with words, and people in the book world -- particularly in the kidlit community -- find creative modes of activism in times like these.

So I shifted my search terms and got different news, different images, and some fresh avenues of activism and hope. I'm now giving thanks today for librarians -- especially for the Ferguson Public Library -- and for kidlit activists, whether they are authors, librarians, booksellers, or readers. In the links I'm sharing below, I hope you'll see why. And if you too are feeling powerless and hopeless in the wake of the Ferguson grand jury decision, please remember:

1. Reading is a powerful act of empathy.
2. Libraries are sanctuaries.
3. Kids in Ferguson and elsewhere right now need stories of hope for the future.
4. Every voice matters.

A round-up of links, and things you can do:

Here is an inspiring article published on Salon.com yesterday about the Ferguson Public Library, which has stayed open even when other public places, including schools, have been cancelled during protests. An ad-hoc school was created there, and teachers volunteered to teach classes at the library. Teen events are being held. A book drive, run in conjunction with Powells Books, has generated an outpouring of donations, particularly books for young adults that focus on social activism, peace, community building, and healing from trauma.

The Ferguson Public Library is accepting donations through PayPal on its home page. I donated; it's a fast and easy way to support the library's ongoing efforts to stay open, when it is safe to do so, and provide a sanctuary for the community, particularly for young people.

Author Joelle Charbonneau started an initiative called Hope Through Stories, authors uniting in support of students in Ferguson, MO. If you're a children's book author, get in touch with Joelle about sending a signed copy of your book to the library. As Joelle puts it, "Let's show the students of Ferguson that there is hope in each and every story. They still have their story to write."

You can follow @FergusonLibrary on Twitter and learn more about what they're doing, and read an interview with director Scott Bonner.

You can buy a book online from Left Bank Books in Saint Louis, Missouri; their Angel Tree Book Drive hopes to get donations of 300 books, one for each student in Ferguson's neediest elementary school.  (Thanks YA author Fiona Paul for this news, and the link!)

You can follow #KidLit4Justice on Twitter.

Do you know of other thinks or other ways people in the book world can help out? Please share them!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Book Bazaar in Sherborn, MA

I'm excited to visit The Writer's Loft in Sherborn, MA for the first time on Saturday, December 6, 1:00-4:00. I'll be participating in their holiday book fair with 20 other local children's book authors. This family-friendly event is free and open to the public. If you're in the area, come join us for book chats, signings, and holiday shopping, and learn about workshops and other programs going on at The Loft!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween Book Trail

Welcome to the first top of The Cemetery Trail!

This is the first ever Halloween Book Trail, featuring your favorite YA & MG authors! This blog hop is based on the YAmazing Race with MGnificent Prizes presented by the Apocalypsies in 2012. In THIS trail, you’ll find all kinds of posts, and discover new authors and their work.

How do you play? Every post contains information that will lead to killer prizes! Books, swag, Skype sessions, locks of hair (jk, jk)! At the end of each blog you’ll find a link that will take you to the next stop in the trail. By the end, you’ll find a quiz. Now you’ll be happy you read all the posts! Submit your entry to the quiz for a chance to win a grand prize! Accuracy matters here, so take your time, or go back and refresh your memory! One quiz entry per trail. 

And thus ends the standard introduction to the trail that you will see at every way station on this trail. 

If you've stumbled across this post in error (or in horror) and have no idea who I am, here's a bit about me!

I write YA novels featuring globetrotting teens and international intrigue. I guess you could also call them travel mysteries. My first book, TOKYO HEIST (Viking/Penguin, 2012) is about a teen manga fan who goes to Japan to hunt down some missing van Goghs, and gets entangled with the Japanese yakuza in the process. 

My second novel is an investigative thriller called LATITUDE ZERO (published in July of this year, also by Viking/Penguin). It's about a girl named Tessa Taylor who causes a massive bike crash on a charity ride while "bandit riding" with her bike racer boyfriend. The crash leads to the death of a hot young pro-cyclist from Ecuador, whom she happens to know because he and her boyfriend once raced on the same team. Tessa struggles with grief and guilt  . . and then finds some clues that suggest the cyclist's death might have actually been a murder, caused by somebody else. Going undercover as a volunteer for a bicycle advocacy group, Tessa travels all the way to Ecuador to uncover the truth. With the help of her bike mechanic friend, Marisol Vargas, she races to solve the crime before she becomes the next victim. 

My third book, BLUE VOYAGE, takes place in Turkey, and will be out Fall 2015.

And now, for my Halloween-themed post to kick off the Cemetery Trail!

No pressure or anything. 


Okay. I confess. I may not be the best person to kick off this blog hop. See, Halloween and I aren't really the best of friends.

We have Issues. Big Issues.

As far back as I can remember, I was the queen of Lame Costumes. Costumes that somehow missed the mark, elicited confusion, or inadvertently caused bodily harm to others. 

When I tried to make my costumes out of stuff around the house, or cardboard, they ended up falling apart as soon as I got out the door. The year I was an owl, all my magnificent paper feathers fluttered off my Hefty bag skin, leaving a trail of construction paper and a kid dressed up as, well, a Hefty bag. Another year I was a gypsy, with a crystal ball that promptly shattered, and since it was cold that year and I wore a ski jacket, I just looked like a kid in a ski jacket.

When I tried to accessorize, I chose poorly. One year I was a hobo. I wore a tattered sports coat, baggy pants, shoes with split soles -- all good -- but I carried my trick or treat bag, a kerchief, tied on the end of a fishing pole. This pole then stabbed people in the face or eye every time I said "thank you" and turned to go. One elderly man lost his eyeglasses because of my hasty move with said pole.

"So what are you supposed to be, anyway?" people asked me at a sixth-grade party, puzzling over my white tunic and cape and white face makeup. I think I was Indecision that year, torn between ghost and vampire, fusing my two ideas last-minute and pulling off neither one of them.

Meanwhile, my younger sister was the Halloween Queen. She had the most creative ideas. Like a robot that actually had a circuit board that lit up, which she actually engineered herself at the tender age of six. Another year she was a eucalyptus tree, wearing her koala backpack. She emitted a vague eucalyptus odor, and I believe she had healing properties and could stop coughs from ten feet away. Another year she and a friend went as half-cheerleader, half-football player, each of them vertically divided from their face makeup all the way down to their footwear. She thought of the best disguises and pulled them off effortlessly.

As I got older, my costumes only got worse. I gave up Halloween for a bit in high school, after a disastrous experiment with red food coloring as hair dye (think blood dripping down face). Then I tried again in college, at a party. "So what are you supposed to be, anyway?" people asked me. "A Shadow of my Former Self," I replied, feeling abstract and witty as I fluttered my gauzey sleeves. I guess a bunch of people dressed up as Blank Stares that year, because that's mostly what I remember.

I have, however, come to realize where I am best at the art of disguise. Not on Halloween night, but in the pages of my books. I think I had the most fun in coming up with costume ideas in LATITUDE ZERO, where my heroine must go undercover and dress to avoid attention from spies and stalkers. Most of the time, she's successful, even when she has to plunder Ecuadorian crafts markets and her host family's closets to find clothes to alter her appearance. I've come to realize I really do love the art of the costume, but I'm best without the pressure of one night a year to pull out all the stops -- and I'm better at using words to dress up my characters. This realization has taken the pressure of Halloween off of me, after all these years.

Well, almost. Because now I have a child, who starts planning for Halloween in April, and who'd love for me to make him a home-made costume. But I know better. I will not inflict the same curse of the costume on my offspring. That's why I order his costumes from Target.

For the next stop on the Cemetery Trail, visit KATLYN DUNCAN, at http://katlynduncan.blogspot.com/2014/10/HBT14.html

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