Friday, July 30, 2010

Meet Editor Kat O'Shea

If you're in the Portland area, you'll have an opportunity to meet our editor-in-chief, Kat O'Shea. She'll be speaking at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference. For the great lineup of classes, check out the schedule of breakout sessions and coaching classes. Kat's speaking on Writing for the YA Market and giving great editing tips on How to Update Your Writing. You won't want to miss either of these sessions. Kat will also be doing manuscript critiques.

Here's more information about the conference:

Journey in the Write Direction

August 2–5, 2010
Canby Grove Conference Center, Canby, Oregon

o    At least 12 coaching classes
o    Editors representing fiction, nonfiction and periodicals
o    Agents
o    Professional writers
o    Manuscript critiques
o    Round-table discussions 

Keynote Speakers: Bill Myers and Jeff Gerke

If you're interested in attending, there are still spaces available. More information can be found here:

Download a full-color flyer HERE*
Download the mail-in registration packet HERE

And if you attend, be sure to say hi to Kat. She'd love to meet you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Calling All Sci-Fi and Paranormal Lovers...

Mark your calendar for October. Leap Books author Judith Graves will be part of the Pure Speculation Festival in Edmonton, AB. This weekend SF&F festival will be packed with authors, panels, merchants, costumes, games, and demonstrations. Judith will be featured on a variety of panels, so you'll have a chance to hear about her latest paranormal release (stay tuned for the cool cover, which will be posted soon--it's awesome). Here's her line-up so far:

Saturday, October 23. 11:30am - 12:30pm:  Presenter: A reading and discussion of the Skinned series.

Saturday, October 23. 5:00pm - 6:00pm:  Panelist: Which Book Stays on the Island? A Survivor-style discussion of fiction and voting books off the island.

Saturday, October 23. 7:30pm - 8:30pm:  Panelist: Fiction to DIE For. A discussion of paranormal fiction.

Sunday, October 24. 11:00am - 12:00pm:  Presenter: More Than Twilight. New and upcoming YA paranormal fiction.

Lots of chances to hear her speak, not to mention the other great Canadian authors who will be attending. Check out the website for more details.

Monday, July 26, 2010

SCBWI MD/VA/WV -- A Great Success

Author Bonnie J. Doerr is back after speaking at the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in Maryland, where she had a great time meeting fellow writers and discussing how she balances her mystery plot with factual information about endangered animals.

She now has many fans waiting for Book 2 in her eco-mystery series: Stakeout. And Book 3 is underway, so all the teachers and librarians at the conference will have more great books for their schools and libraries. Keep an eye out for a sneak peek at Stakeout, which is coming soon. Kenzie's back and this time she's rescuing sea turtles--in a stolen boat, no less.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Shivers by Kara Eggers

 My great-grandmother went to a fortune teller when she was young. The woman told her that she'd only have three children at a time. Grams didn't know what she meant, but wondered if she'd have triplets. Unfortunately, the fortune didn't mean that at all.

Grams ended up having six children. Her first three children were born within four years of each other. And Grams thought the fortune teller's predicition had come true--until she got pregnant with number four. The other three children now ranged in age from 5-9. A month before the new baby was born, their middle daughter got sick and died.

While she was in labor with her fifth child, the youngest one was hit by a car and died. Grams and Gramps thought they'd beaten the odds when their sixth child was born. All three of the older children were healthy. Relatives kept an extra close eye on all three of them while Grams was pregnant and during her delivery. The new baby was also healthy. They all breathed a sigh of relief. Sadly, though, the newborn died two days later. Now they think it was probably SIDS, but then they called it crib death.

With all the sadness in her life, you'd think Grams would have ended up bitter or depressed, but she was one of the most cheerful people I've ever met. She lived into her late 90s and adored every one of her 16 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren. She never got cross with any of us, even when we were being little "hooligans," as she'd say. When we were misbehaving, she'd scoop us up into her ample lap, give us a hug, and say, "Seems to me you need a little extra loving right now." It always worked.

Wow, Kara! That was both a heartbreaking and inspiring story. And luckily, not all fortunes are as sad as that one. In fact, if you'd like to find out your own fortune, head on over to author Kitty Keswick's website, where you can ask questions of her crystal ball. It'll give you an answer when you click on it. Hope it's one you want to hear.

And if you'd like to share a brush you've had with the paranormal,
feel free to send it to our blog coordinator, Lexie North at We'd love to post your spooky tales.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Artist Joanna Britt and Author Bonnie Doerr Go to Camp

Last week Leap Books artist Joanna Britt (pictured on left) took her art to summer camp. She and author Bonnie J. Doerr talked with campers about the process of writing and illustrating books. The audience was enthralled as they described how they collaborated on Island Sting.

The campers were writing and illustrating their own books, so they got a lot of helpful tips on how to do that. They also enjoyed seeing how Bonnie doe her research for her books on endangered animals. That's Bonnie pictured on the screen below as she gets into the habitats along with rescue workers who save these endangered species.

The visit wasn't all about work, though. Everyone enjoyed playing a game while they learned more facts about the endangered Florida Key deer that are the stars in Island Sting. Did you know that Key Deer are only found on a few islands in the Florida Keys? And one fun fact that surprised most of the campers was that Key deer are tiny. When they're full grown, they're only about the size of a German shepherd dog.

Now these eager campers can't wait to get a hold of the next books in the series: Stakeout (2011) and Pelican Peril (2012). For more information about these books and the endangered animals Bonnie has worked with and observed, check out her blog: Bonnie Blogs Green.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Book and a Chat with Kitty Keswick

Author Kitty Keswick was featured on Barry Eva's show, A Book and a Chat. Here's the intro:

"Today was one of those shows that I have been looking forward to, partly because in this case I have actually met the author, secondly that I know she loves the English accent *grin*, finally that her book is one a lot of people have read and enjoyed.

A Book and a Chat with my guest Kitty Keswick lived up to all my expectations, as we chatted about her and her 'romance with a bite' debut YA book."

Click below to hear the interview:

A Book and a Chat with Kitty Keswick

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Shivers

Tales of the supernatural... weird hauntings... scary happenings... Care to share them for our Saturday Shivers? We'd love to hear about your brushes with the paranormal. If you share, we'll post them. But we're taking a break today for some news that's not the spooky kind of shivery. Author Bonnie J. Doerr, author of Island Sting, is speaking at Leaps of Imagination: Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy! She'll be presenting a panel today at 11:00 a.m. See schedule below for details

If you live near Maryland/Delaware/West Virginia, you might want to check out the cool conference that area has planned for children's/YA writers sponsored by the regional SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) today and tomorrow, July 17-18, 2010.

They have a fabulous lineup of speakers and breakout sessions for authors and illustrators at all stages of their craft--from beginners to the multi-published. Read on for a tentative schedule, then click here for more details, a brochure, and a downloadable registration form.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

8:00 – 8:50 AM Registration/Breakfast Snacks/Book Sales/Raffle Tickets/Making Friends
8:50 – 9:00 AM Introductions & Welcome
9:00 – 9:50 AM Stephen Fraser—“Leaping into Action: How an Agent Sells Your Book”
9:55–10:45 AM Michelle Poploff and Edie Hemingway—“Partners In Imagination: The Author/Editor Revision Process”
10:45-11:00 AM Break / Book Sales
11:00 – 11:50 AM Morning Breakout Sessions
  • Marc Aronson—“Trends in Nonfiction”

  • Bonnie J. Doerr—“Writing the Eco-Mystery Novel / Balancing Entertainment with Education”

  • Carolyn Reeder—“Look Before You Leap”

  • Amie Rose Rotruck—“Building a Fantasy World”

  • 12:00 – 12:50 PM Lunch / Networking / Book Sales and Signing
    1:00 – 1:50 PM Keynote Speaker, Margaret Peterson Haddix— “Along for the Ride: Taking Readers Where Your Imagination Takes You”
    2:00 – 2:50 PM Afternoon Breakout Sessions
  • Editor/Agent Panel—Michelle Poploff, Louise May, Michelle Corpora, Stephen Fraser

  • Elana Roth (agent)—“The Great Query Caper”

  • Kelley Cunningham and Karen Nelson—“Illustrators’ First Look”—See registration page for details

  • 2:50 – 3:10 PM Cookie Break/Book Sales and Signing/Networking
    3:10 – 4:00 PM Marc Aronson—“The Truth Is… A Question”
    4:00 – 4:50 PM “Steps in the Write Direction: A Panel Discussion on Writing Programs”
    4:50 – 5:00 PM First Day Wrap-up and Raffle

    Sunday, July 18, 2010

    7:45 – 8:15 AM (Optional) Regional Chat Session in Dining Room
    7:45 – 8:20 AM Registration/Breakfast Snacks/Book Sales
    8:20 – 8:30 AM Welcome
    8:30 – 9:20 AM Elana Roth—“The Scoop on High Concept”
    9:25 – 10:15 AM Carolyn Crimi—“Baking Chocolate Cake: All the Ingredients You Need To Make Your Picture Book Delicious”
    10:15 – 10:30 AM Break / Book Sales
    10:30 – 11:20 AM Morning Breakout Sessions
    • Teresa Crumpton—“Where Self-Editing and Revision Collide—For Stronger Prose”
    • Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Wendie Old—“Leap into Blogging and Social Media! (Will There Be Time to Write?)”
    • Donny Bailey Seagraves—“Finding Fiction In Our Own Backyards: Creating Home-grown Characters and Imaginary Setting Inspired by Real Life”
    • Karen Nelson—“Taking Your Imagination to the Marketplace” (for illustrators)
    11:30 – 12:30 PM Lunch / Networking / Book Sales and Signing
    12:30 – 1:20 PM Keynote Speaker, Joyce McDonald—“The Transformative Power of Fiction: How Real-life Stories Inform and Shape Our Own”
    1:20 – 2:10 PM Louise May—“Creating Books Featuring Diversity: How Do I Leap In?”
    2:10 – 2:30 PM Cookie Break / Last Book Sales
    2:30 – 3:20 PM Debra Hess and Kelley Cunningham— “Imagination Is Just The Beginning”
    3:20 – 4:00 PM “First Page” Panel
    4:00 – 4:15 PM Raffles and Farewell
    General Session Blurbs (in order of presentation)

    “Leaping into Action: How an Agent Sells Your Book” –Stephen Fraser

    Discussing the simple principle, which an agent uses to sell your book, agent Stephen Fraser of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency talks about some recent sales, how and why they sold, how to succeed in today’seconomy, and how to be your best creative self.

    “Partners In Imagination: The Author/Editor Revision Process”—Michelle Poploff and Edith Hemingway

    You’ve revised and polished before submitting, but what happens after your manuscript is accepted? More revision! Michelle Poploff, V.P. and Executive Editor of Delacorte Press, and author Edith Hemingway will discuss working together to make a book the best it can be.

    “Along for the Ride: Taking Readers Where Your Imagination Takes You”—Margaret Peterson Haddix

    So you’ve dreamed up an incredible plot and/or extraordinary characters and/or a fascinating setting. How do you make your readers understand and fall in love with your story, too? And how do you fill in parts of the story that your imagination is still a little vague about?

    “The Truth Is…A Question”—Marc Aronson

    My books center on questions that I, or an expert with whom I collaborate, want to investigate. Formulating the right questions, figuring out how to answer them, and then bringing the results to young readers require many leaps of the imagination. My session will show the risks that writing non-fiction requires.

    “The Scoop on High-Concept”—Elana Roth

    We keep hearing agents say they’re on the look-out for this mysterious beast called the high-concept project. But what is it? Is it just the simple Hollywood pitch? Also, if there’s high-concept, does that mean there’s low-concept? And does high-concept have to mean low-quality? In this talk, Elana will demystify this term and give you the scoop on why these high-concept books are so appealing in the market.

    “Baking Chocolate Cake: All the ingredients You Need to Make Your Picture Book Delicious”—Carolyn Crimi

    Picture books should be as enjoyable and as memorable as that perfect slice of chocolate cake. So why does yours taste more like broccoli? Carolyn Crimi will help you learn to mix, sift, and blend your picture book batter until it’s the perfect consistency. No cooking experience necessary!

    “The Transformative Power of Fiction: How Real-life Stories Inform and Shape Our Own”—Joyce McDonald

    When our inspiration comes from the news media, the reason we are drawn to these real-life stories isn’t always evident at first. Sometimes these stories haunt us until we finally confront them through narrative. We write to understand, and in the act of writing, we often arrive at unexpected places and surprising truths. In this session, I will talk about the tragic facts that informed my novels, Swallowing Stones and Shades of Simon Gray, and how I transformed them into fiction.


    Is it okay to write and/or illustrate across cultures? Do I need to be of the same background as the characters in my story? Do books featuring people of color have to be nonfiction or historical fiction? Is there a place for realistic fiction? What about fun and fantasy in books focusing on diversity? These questions and more pertaining to creating diverse stories for all of today’s young readers will be answered, from the point of view of Lee & Low Books, one of the country’s premier publishers of children’s books “about everyone~for everyone.”

    “Imagination Is Just The Beginning”—Debra Hess and Kelley Cunningham

    This joint presentation by Highlights Editor, Debra Hess, and Highlights High Five Art Director, Kelley Cunningham, will discuss the practical realities of putting together a magazine—what they actually do on a day-to-day basis and how it all works.

    Breakout Sessions (in order of presentation)

    “Current Trends in Nonfiction”—Marc Aronson

    Marc Aronson will talk about trends in writing nonfiction—what is currently selling and traditional NF voice vs. creative or narrative NF voice, leaving plenty of time for Q & A.

    ”Writing the Eco-Mystery Novel / Balancing Entertainment with Education”—Bonnie J. Doerr

    Follow the unique writing journey of combining environmental science with fiction. Topics covered include choice of location, inspiration, plot development, research, observation of endangered species, interaction with natural environment, character development, and teaching without preaching.

    “Look Before You Leap”—Carolyn Reeder

    Historical fiction is much more than a story set in the past. Explore why it’s important to know the history before imagining the fiction, discover ways of bringing the past to life for your readers, and pick up some tips on making your characters authentic.

    “Building a Fantasy World”—Amie Rose Rotruck

    What color is the sky? Who’s the king/president/dictator? What’s the most common tree? How does the food taste? Good fantasy is not only about a good plot and interesting characters, but a fully-realized world. Even if you’re writing urban fantasy set in your own neighborhood, you still have some work to do to make your fantasy world believable. We’ll look at some examples of well-created worlds, discuss how to find inspiration for your world, and do some world-brainstorming.

    The Great Query Caper”—Elana Roth

    Querying an agent is often the first step to breaking into today’s market, but even if you’ve written a novel, these brief letters of introduction can be intimidating. Elana will lead participants in a real-time simulation of her slush pile experience, followed with a group critique of those very real query letters she has received and reveal why they worked—or didn’t work—for her. Please note this is not a pitch session but a chance to learn how an agent thinks and how you can stand out in the crowd.

    “Leap into Blogging and Social Media! (Will There Be Time to Write?)”—Mary Bowman-Kruhm and Wendie Old

    Award-winning, multi-published authors Wendie Old and Mary Bowman-Kruhm discuss two free blogging platforms (WordPress and Blogger) and strike a glancing blow at other social media. Bring a laptop or pen and paper and you’ll leave the session with a start on your own blog and basic information about social media.

    “Where Self-Editing and Revision Collide—For Stronger Prose”—Teresa Crumpton

    This fast-paced session is for all writers of fiction from beginner to multiply published professional. Together, we will work through a structured method, which blends general self-editing with deeper revision. Based on a series of strategic worksheets, in a half-session we’ll work through a Structure Analysis Worksheet and demonstrate its power. In the second half, we’ll use a basic Self-Edit Worksheet and note its benefits. Please bring a story or novel (yours or a published one) to work with. Handouts will be provided.

    Finding Fiction in Our Own Backyards: Creating Home-grown Characters and Imaginary Settings Inspired by Real Life”—Donny Bailey Seagraves

    How do you take a real-life event and turn it into a fictional story? A local family tragedy inspired me to write the middle-grade novel that became my first published book, Gone From These Woods. In this hands-on workshop, we will walk through the real place that became my book’s fictional world and we’ll meet some of the people who morphed into the characters there. Can you make the journey from your real-life event to fictional story? Bring pen and paper and I’ll show you how.

    “Taking Your Imagination to the Marketplace”—Karen Nelson

    This session for illustrators will focus on the inner workings of a publishing company, art department and the role of the art director. Learn about marketing tools, approaches that work, and case histories, leaving time for Q & A.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Book Bites for Kid Interviews Judith Graves

    If you missed yesterday's live interview about UMS, writing and werewolves, you can still hear it. And be sure to check out Judith's new snarky website to learn more about paranormal creatures of the night, the writing life, and Judith's upcoming tour schedule.

    Listen to internet radio with Suzanne on Blog Talk Radio

    Friday, July 9, 2010

    Love UMS?

    We've had fans tell us how much they love UMS (That's Under My Skin by Judith Graves, if you haven't been following all the book blogs where Judith's appeared.) If you love werewolf - vampire books filled with other paranormal creatures, this is the summer read for you.

    If you're already a fan or want to find out more about the book, you can hear Judith Graves on Book Bites for Kids next Wednesday, July 14 at 2 pm CST. She'll be talking about her writing process, her characters, and what's in store for those of you who are eagerly awaiting the sequels.

    And if you missed them, two of our other authors, Kitty Keswick (Freaksville) and Bonnie J. Doerr (Island Sting), were also interviewed on this blog talk radio show.

    So tune in next week and find out more about UMS, and werewolves and witches and vampires and wolven. And if you comment on our blog and let us know you've listened in, we'll put your name in a drawing for a free copy of UMS or another Leap Book of your choice.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010

    Saturday Shivers

    Share your Saturday Shivers with us. Ever had a strange, unexplainable experience? Have you seen a ghost? Had a brush with the paranormal? Send your tales to Lexie North. We'd love to post them on our blog. Here's one from someone who prefers to remain anonymous:

    Throughout my life, I've often gotten these strange gut feelings when things are about to happen. When I was younger, I'd say these things out loud. After they came true, people would look at me funny and often avoid me. So I learned to keep them to myself. I remember saying something to my mother after one of her friends came to visit. I asked why the lady was so scared. My mom told me not to be silly, there was nothing wrong with her friend. I knew that wasn't true because I'd seen her shaking--not her hands or any visible part of her body, but her inner self, her spirit. I persisted and told my mom to find out what the lady's problem was. My mom brushed it off, but I kept bugging her to call the lady and ask. Finally, she rolled her eyes and did it.

    It turned out that my mom's friend had a restraining order against her ex-husband, but he'd been sending threatening messages saying he was going to kill her and her daughter. She hadn't told anyone about it. And while they were on the phone talking, her ex started smashing through the back door with an ax. My mom called 911, and luckily the police arrived in time to nab him.