Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Scares You?

So, what makes you shiver in the dark? What haunts your worst nightmares? Ghosts, zombies, serial killers, monsters, the undead? Or something worse?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath after reading scary stories? Huddle under the covers afraid to peek closely into the shadows? Do you keep the light on all night?

Leap Books introduces guest blogger, Courtney Warren, who tells about the scary stories that kept her awake as a child as well what scares her now. And she offers tips on how to write your own scary stories. We look forward to hearing more from Courtney, who will blog regularly with us.

So, What Scares Me?

As a kid I used to love reading scary stories late at night. I remember walking into my mom’s room and telling her I couldn’t sleep.

“Stop reading the book, Courtney,” she would say every night.

“I can’t! It’s so good!”

When I read that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz would be made into a movie, I was so excited. Even though it’s Christmas time, I still love a good scary story, so this news article was definitely welcomed. This also got me thinking—I’ve never tried to write a scary story before, so why are these stories so great? Can I do this?

Last summer I reread as many Goosebumps books as I could get my hands on and then watched the movies. I was at Hollins University for my very first summer in their graduate program and my interest level in all things YA (young adult) was through the roof.

Even as a 23-year-old adult, I still became terrified when Carly Beth couldn’t get the mask off on Halloween, and wanted to cry when the kids were locked in the medieval tower. I was terrified! More so while reading the books than while watching the movies.

So, after my Goosebumps obsession, when I saw that Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark would be made into a movie, I immediately went to the library to get the book. However, I was a little disappointed. This was the book that left me so scared I had to sleep with my younger brothers, and yet when I read it….it seemed a little stupid.

In the beginning of the book, a story is written with cues for the storyteller like (now scream) or (now jump at one of your friends). The stories are pretty cut and dried with your basic witches, ghosts, ghouls, and axe murderers. As I read on, I really couldn’t understand what had scared me so badly as a child.

Then I turned the page and immediately figured it out. It was the illustrations, which were done by Stephen Gammell.

The stories are basic, run-of-the-mill scary stories that attack basic childhood fears, but it’s the illustrations that make you want to cry in the middle of the night for you mom.

So why is this series by Schwartz successful and just as memorable as Goosebumps by R.L. Stine?

I will definitely say hands down that Goosebumps was more popular and more successful in the long run, however, at the house of Stevens, Schwartz and Stine were my main obsessions.

So, let’s break it down.

So, What about Goosebumps?

Books turned into a television series and a few movies, the Goosebumps books are still around and going strong, with Stine writing the books that appear on the shelves. After rereading, I think a lot of this is because the stories are original, created by Stine himself and not something we have read before. Many of these stories deal with the supernatural – not something we can ever read about in a newspaper on a Sunday afternoon – and so these stories haunt our imaginations.

For more than twenty years, Stine has created new stories, taken his older stories and twisted them, and played with our imaginations in such a way that don't only draw in children. The classic Goosebumps do not have much blood and gore (from what I have read and remember), but they do have a lot of creepiness, jumping out, and detailed horror.

That’s what I realized about Goosebumps…the terror is in the details.

Stine shows us terrible things rather than tells us, so he is not only expanding the imaginations of youngsters, he’s also painting a horrifying picture. His books are for middle-grade and not YA, which is made clear through the interactions of the characters. Sometimes, as a writer, changing the way your characters react can change the level of your story.

For example, in The Haunted Mask, Carly Beth is picked on for being such a scaredy cat when her two friends at school play pranks on her. However, rather than scream and curse at them (YA), she cries and runs away (middle-grade). Also, when she vows revenge, her revenge isn’t to kill them—typical in a YA horror—but to SCARE them just like they have been doing to her.

Simple changes in writing can change the audience for your stories. The story is still scary, with a terrifying mask that attaches itself to the wearer and alters his or her personality, but remains appropriate for middle-grade readers because of the nature of the characters and the language.

So, What about Scary Stories?

Scary Stories seems to take a different angle. Schwartz plays on legends and folklore—stories that have been told for generations. However, he plays these stories down so the reading level is much different and appropriate for middle-grade.(Read some here.)

Rather than giving gruesome details about ripping a person’s guts out, Schwartz says they are dead. Simple and cut-to-the-chase (yet still terrifying) works here, especially when paired with Gammell’s illustrations. I stand by the fact that, although the stories were okay to me as an adult but terrifying when I was a child, it’s the illustrations that kept me from sleeping. The three books in this series written by Schwartz were banned and challenged often throughout the years, more so for the pictures rather than the stories.

I tutor a little girl every day and, when I checked this book out, I read her a story. She scares easily, so I stopped halfway through because I was pretty sure she couldn’t take anymore. I knew some of the pictures would have sent her over the edge.

The way these pictures are drawn, with long lines and a sketchy unfinished feel, makes them so creepy they are almost unbearable. With Gammell’s illustrations, the more you look, the more scared you become, because the more you see in his details. On the title page at first glance you see an abandoned house, then a rocking chair, then a moon above the rocking chair. So wait… Is the house suspended in the air? And is that the silhouette of a man who has hung himself?

You haven’t even gotten past the title of the book and already you want to crawl in a hole.

These stories, whether detailed or not, illustrated or not, still touch the middle-grade readers in such a way that they are excited for more and running back to the book shelves (in the light of day, of course). The stories may be incredibly different, but the concepts are the same—clean horror. The characters are simple, with easy-to-understand thoughts and ideas, while the language is basic, so it doesn’t confuse the readers. Children can understand it, they can relate, and they get scared—it works.

So, What Do I Do?

So, how can you create a story for a middle-grade reader that leaves them shaking in their Ugg boots?

Start off with a story you already know and add a twist.

Maybe it’s the story of the babysitter and the man upstairs, but your twist is that the babysitter has never babysat before, but luckily she takes karate. Or maybe the killer is her friend trying to spook her, and it turns out that when she catches her friend, they realize there’s a REAL killer upstairs.

Begin with a legend you already know and run with it. Perhaps in your run, you’ll create something entirely new!

Remember, a lot of the time parents are controlling what their kids read, and although the F-word might be used on the playground at school, parents and teachers won’t appreciate a fourth grader reading it on every single page. Drop the language, keep it basic at first—scary and to the point.

So, What about You?

What are some stories that have kept you up at night?

If you answer this question or comment on the blog, we'll put your name in a drawing for your choice of one of Leap's scary books. Drawing on January 13, 2014.


Courtney Warren is a writer for her local newspaper, as well as a graduate student at Hollins University where she is pursuing a degree in Children’s Literature. She has a bachelor’s degree from Delta State University, the home of the Fighting Okra (which she is incredibly proud of). She loves to read just about anything placed on the shelves but has a special place in her heart for the Harry Potter series.

When she is not writing about herself in third person, she loves to write stories about middle schoolers with spunky attitudes who intend to save the world, as well as drinking Earl Grey tea from a very prissy teacup.

Check out her blog, Tea, the Spirit, & a Pen.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sneak Peek into Maria V. Snyder's Life

Want to know some insider secrets about author Maria V. Snyder?

You've come to the right place if you're eager to know more about the the New York Times best-selling author of some of your favorite books -- the Study series, the Glass series, the Healer series, and the Insider books.

Leap Books is excited to announce that Maria Snyder's ebook of Storm Watcher will release on December 15, 2013. To celebrate, we invited Maria here for a visit, and she graciously answered a lot of questions.
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So here's your chance to find out more about her, learn more about why she wrote this book, and see what she's working on now. Thanks so much for joining us, Maria.

Interview Questions with Maria V. Snyder

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

 I wanted to be a meteorologist and chase tornadoes in the name of research for either NOAA or NWS. I also wanted to be an actress and dancer, but didn’t think I could make a living at it.

Did you ever dream of being a writer?

 I hated writing in school and avoided it as much as possible. I never dreamed of being a writer, it just happened. I started because I was bored at work. My first job after college was as a meteorologist for an environmental consulting firm. The amount of work came in waves, and we were either extremely busy or bored. During the slow times, I started writing a short story. Ideas were always floating around in my mind, but that was when I began using them. I submitted my first short story for critique at a writing conference in Philadelphia, and when the workshop leader gave me 7 out of 10, I thought that was pretty good for a first effort and decided to stick with writing for a while.

Your main character, Luke, has a deathly fear of storms? What things most scared you when you were young?

 Thunderstorms terrified me! I hated the noise and used to crawl into bed with my parents whenever a storm came in the middle of the night. Like Luke, I was stuck outside during a horrible thunderstorm and, when the next storm rolled in, I wasn’t as scared because I was safe and dry inside my house instead of outside. My fear turned into fascination.

Luke likes science, so I’m guessing you like science too. Did you have favorite subjects in school?

 I do like science. Earth science was one of my favorite classes. I also enjoyed physics because it made sense, unlike chemistry, which makes no sense. I also like astronomy, and I would go to all the open houses the astronomy department had at Penn State. They would focus on a distant part of our universe and let us peer through the big telescope.

In school what were your best and worst moments?

 Best moment: being cast in the school’s musical, Babe in Arms. I was cast as the overprotective stage mother, and I loved every moment – even the weeks of rehearsals.

Worst moment: when a fellow student accused me of keeping the money for a fundraiser instead of bringing it to school (I overslept for a walk-a-thon and didn’t collect any money. She called the school pretending to be one of my sponsors. Let’s just say the nuns were not happy with me until they figured it out. Storms aren’t near as scary as Catholic school nuns!).

What advice do you wish you could give to your younger self?

 Ditch science and pursue the arts!

What hobbies and interests do you have?

 I enjoy photography and always try to bring a camera with me wherever I go. I’ve won a few ribbons at my local fair and fancy myself a photographer. I also play volleyball twice a week and like to make jewelry when I have some time. Another love is traveling, I’ll go anywhere at anytime and am determined to see as many places as I can before I’m too old.

What made you write Luke’s story?

 At first, I wanted to write a story for my son Luke because he didn’t like fantasy or science fiction stories. I love both dogs and storms and thought it’d be fun to put them together. I started with a boy named Luke (not my son), who was fascinated with the weather, yet terrified. Then the questions started: Why was he afraid? What does he want? Who gets in his way? The answers revealed the story. 

(For those of you who haven't read it, Storm Watcher, is a contemporary action-adventure story for middle grade readers. Luke, the youngest son in a family of Search-and-Rescue dog trainers, must overcome his deathly fear of storms to prove that the dog he's training is worthy of being in the family kennels.) 

Do the characters in the book have any connection with your real life?

 Yes! Although Luke isn’t based on my son’s personality, he looks like my Luke. I used the names of many of Luke’s friends, cousins, and teachers, and they pretty much are the same. Mr. Hedge is really an 11th grade English teacher, and Mrs. Miller is really a music teacher, but both those teachers had an impact in my son’s school career.

What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your book?

 To have the courage to seek help despite setbacks. To persist and not give up when you really want something. I also hope to convert readers into fellow weather nuts!

Tell us a bit about your life and writing schedule.

 I’m a busy mother of two teenagers. I’m highly involved in my kids’ lives and all their extracurricular activities. My schedule looks like this: I wake up around 11 am, then I spend the afternoon doing writing business—answering emails, updating my website, posting on my blog or Facebook, then my family comes home and I’m Mom until 10 pm. From 10 pm until 3 am, I write – I don’t surf the internet or do laundry or answer emails—that time is for writing only.

What are you working on now?

 I’m working on a new book in my Study Series. My readers have been begging me to write more stories about Yelena and Valek, and I’m finally writing book #4.

And now a few questions just for fun:

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?

 Good health for me and all my family and friends. A beach house. A mega-hit bestseller.

What is something most people don't know about you?

 I’m addicted to office supplies!

What super power do you wish you had?

 The power to heal. I’ve seen too many people suffer with illness and wish I could heal them with a touch.

Where did you go on your last vacation?

 I went on a cruise to Bermuda and the Caribbean with family and friends.

Have you ever climbed into or out of a window?

 Yes, but I’m exercising my right to remain silent ;)

Where can readers find out more about you?

And if you'd like to meet Maria in person, she has several upcoming events, and she'd love to see you there:

January 4, 2014 Participating in Science Fiction/Fantasy Saturday at Barnes & Noble. (Red Rose Commons, 1700 H Fruitville Pike, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 17601, 717-290-8171). This is a group book signing with a variety of science fiction and fantasy authors. I'll be there and fantasy author Jon Sprunk has committed. It will be in the afternoon, exact time to be determined (check my website for more details).

March 26-29, 2014 Visiting Independence, Iowa and Cedar Rapids, Iowa! I'll be doing a number of events for the Independence Public Library on March 27 & 28, then I'll be in Ceder Rapids on Saturday, March 29. Details will be posted on my website as soon as I have them.

April 19, 2014 Participating in YA FEST. (Palmer Branch of the Easton Area Public Library, 1 Weller Place Easton, Pennsylvania, 18045). 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There will be 50 YA and Middle-Grade authors attending and there will be panels, a used book sale, a raffle, and lots of fun stuff!

August 8-9, 2014 Participating in YA Indie Fest. (Orlando, Florida). Currently I don't have many details about this event, but I wanted to give everyone notice that I'll be in Orlando, Florida that weekend :). I'll post details on my website as soon as they're finalized.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Big Thrill interviews Killer's Instinct author

Cover designer: Gaetano Pezzillo
Photo: Siiri Kumari ~ Model: Johanna Taiger

Authors Judith Graves and Dawn Dalton's upcoming release has been featured in the International Thriller Writers' December magazine, The Big Thrill. Read the interview with Dawn Dalton here.

Killer's Instinct Blurb

Where there is no life, there’s HOPE...

Hope has always been a bit of a freak. She sees beyond the veil to where the dead walk amongst the living, their semi-corporeal forms appearing like creepy flashes from a never-ending macabre dream. But when her mother crawls from the grave and her zombified corpse goes MIA, Hope’s last thread of normal snaps.

Enrolling in a militia-style school for monster hunters seems her best bet for tracking down Mommy-dearest and putting what’s left of her mother to rest. But the stakes are raised when she’s partnered with three unique male recruits – each with their own personal demons to slay if they want to survive basic training.

But does Hope have a true killer’s instinct? If she finds her mother, will she have the guts to do what must be done to save her soul? In a place like Le Manoir, all bets are off.

"A single page in, I was hooked." Jacqueline Mitchard, author of What We Lost in the Dark and The Deep End of the Ocean

"Killer’s Instinct is going to knock other YA monster-battling books off the shelves." Gary Braver, bestselling and award-winning author of Tunnel Vision

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Leap Authors Are Winners in Contests

We’ve had some amazing news from our Leap Books authors for October. Author Judith Graves won first place in the Surrey International Writers’ Conference 2013 writing contest (writing for young people category).

Also, INHABITED, the thriller stage play she cowrote debuted on October 30. It made the local news. Here's a trailer for the show:

Watch for a new book release from Graves in November, KILLER’S INSTINCT, cowritten with Dawn Dalton. This dark tale of teen monster-hunters comes highly recommended by Jacqueline Mitchard, author of What We Lost in the Dark and The Deep End of the Ocean, who said:

"What could be creepier than hunting down your own zombie mommy? And what could be more psychologically satisfying to a teen because … it's just pretend? Isn't it? I wanted to squeeze my eyes shut tight and turn away from the sublimely dark and smart Killer's Instinct. But how could I? A single page in, I was hooked."

And by Gary Braver, bestselling and award-winning author of Tunnel Vision:

"Killer’s Instinct by Dawn Dalton and Judith Graves is a clever and fast-paced thriller that raises the bar for monster-hunting tales. Nuanced and well-crafted, this novel is told from the points of view of four distinctly defined young characters—Hyde, a hulk in sheep’s clothing; Kain, the wild card, Caddock, the unit jock, and Hope, both gifted and cursed with a sixth sense. Hope's inner strengths and compassion make her a fitting role model for teenage readers, yet her vulnerability renders her a satisfyingly sympathetic heroine. Killer’s Instinct is going to knock other YA monster-battling books off the shelves."

Cover designer: Gaetano Pezzillo
Photo: Siiri Kumari
Model: Johanna Taiger


Where there is NO life – there’s Hope…

Hope has always been a bit of a freak. But when her mother crawls from her grave and her undead corpse goes MIA, Hope’s last thread of normal snaps with a vengeance.

Enrolling in a militia-style school for monster slayers seems the only course of action. And the best bet at tracking her mother down.

Author Maria V. Snyder took first place in the Golden Leaf Contest for her paranormal novel, Scent of Magic. This award, given by the NJ Romance Writers of America, is presented for excellence in romance fiction. Because this is Maria’s third win in this category, next year she’ll be inducted into the NJRW Hall of Fame.

Maria Snyder’s latest release with Leap Books, STORM WATCHER, debuted on October 25. The book stars Luke, the youngest son in family of search-and-rescue dog trainers. He has to face his deadly fear of storms to prove that he and the dog he's training belong in the family business.

Watch for the e-book release on December 15. Maria's first contemporary novel for middle grade has been praised by Kirkus:

"Intertwining family relationships, weather science and search-and-rescue dog training, this coming-of-age story relays themes of friendship, grief, challenge, fear and responsibility without didacticism or melodrama.
A welcome addition to the middle-grade library."

Additional praise for the book:

“STORM WATCHER is a brilliant and beautiful tale of how the simple, honest love of a dog can help a lonely boy find his way out of the darkness. Subtle, powerful and highly recommended.”

~ Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Fire & Ash and Rot & Ruin

"Best-selling author Maria V. Snyder’s debut novel for young readers, Storm Watcher, is a thrilling, heart-warming canine caper. Thirteen-year-old Luke loves dogs and is fascinated with weather data—but storms terrify him. With lightning quick action, humor, and lots of dogs, Storm Watcher will delight readers. Also the scientific and math insights into weather will appeal to educators and inspire readers to create their own weather science projects. Highly recommended!

~ Linda Joy Singleton, author of THE SEER and DEAD GIRL series

"Snyder's lightning strikes again with STORM WATCHER's tale of ordinary people fighting to become heroes in the face of things they fear most. Luke's story is by turns funny, touching, and achingly real, as Snyder harnesses a lifetime of expertise about meteorology, dogs, and life in small towns."

~ Morgan Keyes, author of the Darkbeast series

Be sure to check out Maria’s special website, Storm Watcher Kennel, to learn more about the book, strange weather phenomena, and take a quiz to see what kind of a storm you are.

Both books -- Storm Watcher and Killer's Instinct -- were selected for the Children’s Book Council’s Hot Off The Press listings and are featured on the CBC homepage.

Leap Books extends mega-congratulations to Maria and Judith on their awards and latest releases.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Meet Author Tina Bustamante

Author Tina Bustamante has flown in from Chile to launch her debut YA novel, As Waters Gone By. She'll be touring on the West Coast during the month of November.

The launch begins at:

Northshore Baptist Church
10301 NE 145th St. SE
Kirkland WA 98034
November 8, 7:00 pm

Tina will also appear there again on 11/13/13 at 7pm.
She can also be seen at schools, colleges, bookstores, retirement communities, and book clubs. A full schedule of her appearances is attached.

We asked Tina a few questions about herself, her writing, and her teen years. Here are her answers:

What did you want to be when you grew up?

As a child, I loved drama and acting. I wanted to be an actress. Although, I do remember writing stories and wanting to write novels.
As a teen, what were you most anxious about?

I worried about how I looked, if boys liked me or not, if I fit into the crowd, and unfortunately we struggled with money so I worried if we’d have enough for everyone’s needs, if we’d have enough food.

In high school what were your finest and worst moments?

I went on a two trips to Mexico and built houses in Tijuana – those were great trips. I went hiking and loved backpacking on the Montana/Idaho border. During one trip to Mexico, I breathed in the dust of chicken feces and ended up in the hospital with a terrible illness – in the middle of Montana while my mom was out of the country. My parents also got divorced during my junior year of high school, and that was a hard time for me.
Because As Waters Gone By has romantic elements, can you describe your best or most romantic date ever?

Best date ever … was with my husband. We met in Curacao, started dating in the Mexico, got engaged in Chile, and married in Seattle. We went on some fun dates in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico. We used to hunt down the best street food in the city. And to this day, I love good Mexican food. 

Now that we've heard about the best date, what was your worst date ever?

Oh goodness. I remember one date with a guy that I wasn’t sure was a date. And so I stood at the ticket counter wondering if he would pay for the movies or if I was supposed to pay for myself. I lingered too long and he stepped up and paid, but I’ve always wondered if he was annoyed. We never went out again.

What hobbies and interests did you have as a teen?

I loved to hike, mountain climb, hang out with friends, and I loved to read. Always.

Your main character Ellie has a unique sense of style. As a teen, were you a fashionista?

No. I wish I had Ellie’s sense of style.

When did you first start writing?

My friend and I wrote the beginnings of a novel when I was in seventh or eighth grade, and then again, when I was eighteen, I started a novel. But it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I decided to take writing and my own writing journey seriously.

What made you write Ellie’s story?

It’s interesting, because I had just gone through a year of rejections for a middle grade novel that I wrote, and I was utterly despondent and discouraged. During that time I wrote in my journal that I wanted to write a story of one girl’s healing journey. A few months later, I saw in my mind’s eye a picture of a lighthouse, a dog, and a girl with dark hair, and I wanted to know her story. I started digging and digging and began putting thoughts to paper and eventually Ellie’s story emerged.

How does your life compare with your characters’?

Some things were similar. Some things very different. I know what’s it’s like to work for what I need, and to worry we won’t have enough. I know what it’s like to feel like parents just don’t get it and to wish my mom and dad still were married and still loved each other. And to wish things could be different. I never lived with an aunt, and both my parents are alive and well, and are really great people who love me very much.

What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your book?

That you have to accept your story. The good, the bad, and the ugly – even the boring. It’s your story. No one else will ever live your one life, so embrace it and be honest about it. All of it.

Can you tell us a bit about your life and writing schedule?

I wake up early in the morning to write. I live in Chile, and the education system didn’t quite work for my kids … so I’m schooling them at home right now. Crazy. And it’s busy and hard. So I get up super early to write, and then I edit after school. We’re developing twenty-seven acres of land, so I take the kids to see the progress. We visit friends, eat lots of good Chilean food, and go to sleep late. It’s a rich and good life.

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?

 - I would really like to see the girls that I love so very much who live in a girls home I visit near my house in Chile (orphans, abandoned children, very risky lives) live in good homes and have a future filled with hope and life and love.
- I’d like airline tickets to go down in prices so I could see my family more often. (I have a sister in Australia and family all over the world.)
- And I’d like to get good books into really hard-to-reach places and teach kids how to read, and for everyone to understand how important stories are for our survival.

What is something most people don't know about you?

That I have been to thirty-five or forty countries. I love the hurting and the marginalized. And I love speaking in Spanish. Love it. I like to read fiction in Spanish.

What advice do you wish you could give to your younger self?

Honestly, I wish I could go back and tell myself it’ll all be okay. That I don’t have to worry about the boys liking me, or the girls liking me, or fitting in, or being skinny, or what I looked like so much, or making a boy happy so he’ll like me. It will all pass and things will ALL even out and in the end. You really have to like yourself.

Now for some JUST FOR FUN questions:

Where did you go on your last vacation?

We went to Chile and ended up moving there! So be careful where you go on vacation. Before that we went to Disneyland and Barbados with the kids.

Have you ever climbed into or out of a window?

Um … oh yes. When I used to sneak out of my house in high school to toilet paper people’s yards (mainly the boys we had crushes on) … Oh yes. Many windows. Many Friday nights.

What super power do you wish you had?

I’d love to apparate.

That would certainly come in handy to get you from Chile to the many different places you want to visit. Is that how you got to your West Coast book tour?

No, I flew (in an airplane). A long, long trip.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a novel idea that deals with dreams and how our dreams impact reality, that dreams are strange and don’t always make sense - but are sometimes more true than what we live in our physical lives. And I’m tinkering around with the sequel to Waters … We shall see what surfaces the most quickly.
Where can readers find out more about you?

They can visit my website, connect with me on Twitter (@tinabustamante) and Facebook, where I have a facebook page, and a writer’s page.

Here's more about Tina's book:

 When Ellie moves in with her aunt on Orcas Island after her mother’s death, she doesn’t expect to have one of the most incredible summers of her life.

She doesn’t expect to restore a mysterious lighthouse that holds the truth about her family, or to rehabilitate a crazy dog, or to see a strange man who may or may not be a ghost. And the last thing she expects is to meet Will Larson, who flips her summer upside down.

But, when Will’s past and her own collide, will their relationship survive the secrets they both conceal, or will these unshared secrets tear them apart? Can Ellie gain the courage to uncover the truth of who she really is and finally find a place where she belongs, or will she choose to remain an outsider?

And here are some reviews:

"If you love getting lost in a story, this book is for you. With a gripping plot, vivid descriptions and characters you will soon be rooting for, this is one of the books that lingers inside your heart and mind long after you have finished the last page." ~ Deanne Welsh (read more at Eclectic Waters)

""Tina Bustamate knows how to tell a turbulent and heartwarming coming of age story. Awash with emotion, As Waters Gone By swept me away -- be sure to catch this wave." ~Judith Graves

Tina Bustamante's Appearances

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cover Reveal: Deep in the Meadows

Lisa M. Cronkhite's mystery is guaranteed to haunt you the way the death of Bianca “Bee” Thompson’s brother, Jimmy, haunts her.

It's been ten months since the car accident that took Jimmy's life, but Bee still feels his presence lingering. And she still wonders: Was Jimmy’s death an accident?

Probing into the events on the night of Jimmy’s death, Bee hears strange voices. The voices lead her to a blood-splattered room, a terrifying threat, and a deadly trap. Is Bee on the trail of her brother’s murderer, or is she entangled in a totally different and much more diabolical plot?

Watch for DEEP IN THE MEADOWS. Coming in January 2014.

To be sure to get your copy, you can pre-order now from the Leap Bookstore.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Leap Books Open for Novella Submissions During April 2013

For the month of April 2013 only, Leap Books will accept both agented and unagented submissions for our new e-novella line, SHINE.

Novellas must be between 35,000-40,000 words. We're looking for high-concept books for young adults, preferably with romantic elements. We're open to any genre.

Send novellas as a  .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment to Email header should say: SHINE SUBMISSION. Entries will be accepted from April 1, 2013 until midnight on April 30, 2013.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Leap Books Launches Frolic Titles

Leap Books is excited to announce two Frolic titles leaping in 2013.

The first title in this new line for tweens is by New York Times Bestseller Maria V. Snyder. Maria is known for her Poison Study and Magic Study books as well as for Inside Out and Outside In. She is also a contributor to the anthology Spirited.

In STORM WATCHER, the youngest son in family of search-and-rescue dog trainers, Luke Riley, must face his deadly fear of storms to prove that he and the dog he's training belong in the family business.

STORM WATCHER will be be debuting October 2013. Fans can pre-order a copy now in the Leap Bookstore and have it shipped as soon as it comes out.

Our second 2013 Frolic release is by another Leap author, Patrice Lyle. She is the author of Lethally Blonde. Her new release, THE CASE OF THE INVISIBLE WITCH, is part of the Poison Ivy Charm School series.

In THE CASE OF THE INVISIBLE WITCH, thirteen-year-old Tulip Bonnaire, Witch PI, runs Spells & Spies out of her dorm room at Poison Ivy Charm School, a school for polite witches and warlocks. She has only 72 hours to figure out her latest case, or her classmate, Missy, will never be seen again. Literally.

When Missy shows up in Tulip’s dorm room around midnight, she’s invisible. As in not even x-ray vision could spot her. The mean triplets who call themselves The Belles have cast an invisibility spell on poor Missy. But if Tulip can’t break the spell in 72 hours, Missy will remain invisible forever.

It’s a case Tulip can’t resist — between her mom’s annoying new boyfriend and her own secret crush at school, Tulip understands how much it stinks to feel invisible. Luckily for Tulip, her two best friends and her cute, techy guy friend help dig up clues on a case that turns out to be her freakiest one ever.

THE CASE OF THE INVISIBLE WITCH can also be pre-ordered in the Leap Bookstore.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Love A Sea Turtle

Leap Books connected with Casey Sokolovic when she wrote to tell us how much she enjoyed Bonnie Doerr's book Stakeout, about endangered sea turtles. (That's Casey with the book). But when we heard about what Casey has done to help sea turtles, we asked if we could feature her on our blog. This is Casey's remarkable story:   

A third grade school field trip to the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in 2005 sparked a passion within me to want to help the sea turtles. Coming home that day, I talked to my mother about the visit and how sad I was for the sick and injured turtles and wondered what I could do to help and “make a difference”. I developed a plan and, like many others my age, decided to hold a bake sale and sell lemonade. Science fairs, school open houses, farmers markets, civic events and most anywhere I could sell cookies and lemonade and talk about sea turtles, you would find me. A couple dozen cookies have turned into more than ten thousand cookies baked and sold.

    I wanted to help the sea turtles “last” and from that my mother and I came up with Help Them L.A.S.T. - Love A Sea Turtle. My passion for sea turtles has grown from baking and selling sugar cookies into a thriving local grassroots organization with passion, purpose, a strong non-profit, collaborators and community support.

    The mission statement of Love A Sea Turtle is committed to saving the world’s sea turtle population, inspiring young people to get involved, and providing hands-on environmental educational experiences and summer camps to underprivileged youth.

My work with the sea turtles has opened my eyes that there is a genuine need to get every student involved in volunteerism. I developed and filmed an educational video and in the last two years, have spoken to more than 5,500 students - showing the video (click here or see below) and speaking to them about sea turtles and getting involved.

    In late summer of 2007, coffee was added to go with the sugar cookies in an effort to attract adults to the cause. A visit to the roasting facility for Joe Van Gogh Coffee in Hillsborough, North Carolina, led to the creation of a Fair Trade Organic “Sea Turtle” blend of coffee. Joe Van Gogh agreed to donate 10% of net profits of the Sea Turtle Blend to the Sea Turtle Hospital every year.

    In the spring of 2008, Joe Van Gogh took notice of my sales of Sea Turtle Blend. The marketing team at Joe Van Gogh created an exciting logo and custom label. The big “public” launch for Sea Turtle coffee was in May of 2009. I was asked to set up my information display at several locations in Chapel Hill. The Sea Turtle Blend was a top seller in the Whole Foods Stores in NC/SC for Joe Van Gogh during the spring and summer. This fall, Fresh Market began carrying the Sea Turtle Blend in stores nationwide, and it continues to be a top seller.

    In May of 2010, I co-founded The Great Bake for Oceans’ Sake, a coast to coast grassroots bake sale initiative, to raise money for ocean causes. The initial idea was an effort to help raise money for the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies after the Gulf oil spill. The Great Bake has raised awareness and resulted in thousands of dollars being donated to multiple ocean related efforts. Love A Sea Turtle will be promoting bake sales for ocean conservation groups during National Week of the Ocean, March 31 – April 6. It’s simple: hold a bake sale and donate the proceeds to your favorite ocean conservation group.

Another of my fundraisers is a trail run that includes a 5K and 10K along with a nature walk. The run will be March 2nd and it is the 4th annual event.

Friday, February 8, 2013

What Are You Doing to Go Green?

From now until the end of April, schools around the country are working on going green. If you want information on a start-up kit for your school, you can contact GEF, the Green Education Foundation. The site also offers lesson plans and ideas. Be sure to share your results with GEF to be entered in a drawing for a Green in Action award.  Winners get $250 for their classrooms.

Here's what one school did:

Leap Books supports environmental action in many ways. We've gone green in our book printing and office practices. And we publish authors who not only write about environmental themes, but are active in helping the planet.

Bonnie J. Doerr researches endangered animals, but she doesn't just get the facts. She helps the organizations by participating and doing fundraising. A portion of the sale of Doerr's books have gone to assisting the National Key Deer Refuge and the Turtle Hospital.

Doerr was recently featured as a green author on Linda Martin Andersen's blog and enjoyed this opportunity to promote "green" writing / living and National Green Week. To find out more about Doerr, vist her at Bonnie Blogs Green or read all about her the Girls Scouts website, where she is a featured author. Bonnie's books include Stakeout and Island Sting. She's researching in the Florida Keys right now on her next eco-mystery on pelicans.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Author Judith Graves Appearances

Watch for Judith Graves appearing at the following venues:
January 28, 2013: Family Literacy Night
Dr. Bernard Brosseau School, Bonnyville, Alberta, Canada

Presentation on “How Inspiration Strikes”, and a reading from her steampunk short story, The Steadfast Steam Soldier, published in Winter Wonders, a charity anthology that supports literacy.

February 23: Young Authors’ Conference
Sherwood Park, Alberta

THE BONES OF THE STORY: Screenwriting and FICTION TO DIE FOR workshops

Graves will talk about writing scripts for film and television and offer tips on the craft of screenwriting. Learn how to plot a script using her outline structure, The Bones of the Story.  From gripping logline to epic showdown, she’ll provide students with the foundation they’ll need to create their own dreadfully cool scripts.

February 24: Freedom to Read Week

The brilliant blogger, Amy, from A Simple Love of Reading is celebrating Canadian Freedom to Read Week with guest posts by a number of authors. Graves will be kicking off the week with a post on censorship both as a library technician and a young adult fiction author.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Shiny New Website and Free Books

We're thrilled with our new website design. We hope you will be too.

To celebrate the launch of our redesigned website as well as Leap Books' third anniversary, we're offering free books.We'll be drawing 3 names (one for each year we've been in business).  Just leave a comment here about our new site, friend us on Twitter and/or Facebook, and let us know. You'll get one entry each time you spread the word.

Be sure to mention which of our books you'd like to receive and whether you'd prefer a print or ebook. If you don't mind waiting, you can request a future release, such as Maria V. Snyder's book, Storm Watcher, coming in the fall of 2013.

Winners will be chosen at midnight on January 31, 2013.

We also have some terrific new releases, giveaways, and special plans for this year. So watch for more exciting news later this month.