Texas Sweethearts at TxLA 2016!

The week all the Texas librarians and ALL the Texas authors look forward to is almost here! The annual Texas Library Association Conference starts next week in Houston.

I’ll be there on Wednesday, April 20, signing books at the Overlooked Books booth and fangirling all my favorite author and librarian friends. On Tuesday, you can snag a FREE hardback copy of Wish Girl at 2-3 pm in Author aisle 5. YES, FREE.


Of course, I’ll be doing some other smaller party-type things, too, so I might see you at some of those. I hope so!

If you’d like to see the full listing for my schedule and for all of the other Texas Sweethearts, click here! We’ll be giving away one of the ultra-talented Akiko White’s cakes on Wednesday… you want to win this.


You really do.

Come find us! TS&S_April_2016_TLA

A Spring Full of School Visits and Conferences

Wow! There’s a lot going on this spring for me, so much that it’s hard to do it all, and find time to write all the books and keep the kids fed and alive… I’ve pretty much given up on make-up and wearing anything other than pajamas. The kids have learned to cook, and we’ve all decided not to mention the dirty laundry piles.

Frightening? Yes. You might consider staying far away.

But if you are looking to say hello to me on a date I’m guaranteed to have on real clothes and possibly even makeup, come by one of my signings at the huge TLA Librarian’s Conference on April 20-21 (more detailed times to come), or at the Austin SCBWI’s annual writing conference on May 14-15.

I’ll actually be presenting a talk there, titled Unforgettable Settings in YA/Children’s Literature: How to create them, and why we must. It will be unforgettable and mind-blowing and potentially life-changing.

And I’ll also moderate a panel on Poetry with the illustrious and eternally lovely Liz Garton Scanlon and the whip-smart and truly lovely K. A. Holt.

So, fun times! And speaking of fun… although I have a few more school and library visits coming up, I have to post some photos from the ridiculously fun day I spent at Galindo Elementary this week. The always-charming Diane Collier knows precisely how to make an author feel loved, from the sign in the parking lot (glitter!) to the projects lining the hallways. What a wonderful way to welcome the springtime!

And, you know, with enough flowers around, even the dirty laundry piles smell a little fresher.






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My designated parking spot!

My designated parking spot!

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5th Annual March MG Madness Giveaway: 5 Hardcover Copies of Wish Girl!

Happy Sunday! And happy March MG Madness over at Aeicha’s superb blog, Word Spelunking. If you love middle grade books, you’ll want to keep an eye on that blog all month, as the giveaways are off the hook! I’m delighted to be included in the fun.

Thanks, Aeicha, for including Wish Girl in the giveaways!

Readers? If you feel like entering to win 5 hardback copies of Wish Girl, click here.

Happy Reading, friends… and now, back to the writing for me. 🙂


Making an Even BIGGER Difference: Reading Rock Stars & Amplify Austin

Hi, friends!

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to go down into the Rio Grande Valley in Texas as a part of the Reading Rock Stars program.


I presented alongside Carmen Tafolla, Jon Scieszka, Steven Weinberg, Diane Bertrand-Gonzalez, and more fabulous authors and illustrators of books for kids.

Steven Weinberg and Bear

Steven Weinberg and Bear.

Diane Bertrand Gonzalez giving out books to happy kids!

Diane Bertrand Gonzalez giving out books to happy kids!

This is an initiative put together by the Texas Book Festival, where authors partner with the TBF and other major sponsors to visit schools in underprivileged schools or areas, and provide every single child in the school with a free, signed book.


Every kid. For many, it’s the first new book they’ve ever had.


It’s mind-blowing and heart-melting and makes the hard days of being an author worth every second.


Today and tomorrow, if you would like to support the Reading Rock Stars program, you can do so here, and have every dollar you donate matched by a generous donor through the Amplify Austin program. It’s only up for TWO days, March 8 and 9… so thank you for your speed, your generosity, and for helping make smiles like these a reality next year, too.


Thanks, friends!

I Joined the Texas Sweethearts (and Scoundrels)!

Hey, y’all! Big news!

I joined a group of amazing Texas-based writers this month, the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels. I am beyond thrilled to be in the company of some of my favorite writers. P.J. Hoover, Jo Whittemore, K.A. Holt… actually the list goes ON and ON, so I’ll just post a link to the newsletter and blog here. Go check it out!

If you are interested in meeting up with us at events, or even getting critiques on queries, synopses, and/or manuscripts, there’s also a place for that.


The first thing on our schedule is a meet-up at the huge TLA conference in Houston this April. Librarian friends, I promise you’ll want to stop by the booth… the Sweethearts always make it worth the trip. 🙂

One of the newest Sweethearts just had her debut picture book launch yesterday. Congrats, Carmen Oliver!


Her Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies is funny and wonderful. Buy it, or I’ll think you’re a scoundrel. 🙂


Want to Cry? I’ve Got You Covered + Giveaway!

Happy book birthday to me!


Today is the release date for Wish Girl in paperback, and I am SUPER happy to share with you the lovely book trailer that’s rolled out today on Cynthia Leitich Smith’s fabulous blog, Cynsations. Trot on over, watch the trailer, ooh and ah and enter to win a copy of the book!

After you do that, if you want to celebrate even MORE (I’m talking to you, Mom), you can check out the list Barnes and Noble Kids made up called Ten Middle Grade Novels Perfect for a Good Cry.

I’ll just be sitting over here in a corner, wondering at MY book being on a list with some of my favorite books EVER WRITTEN.

What a day! And what fun to have friends to share it with, and more ideas that come knocking every week. I may just keep doing this writing thing for the rest of my life.

Read, write, and cry if you want to, friends!

Valentine’s MG Giveaway: Win ALL the Books!

I have this great friend named Lynda Mullaly Hunt, who writes the most phenomenal books, and who knows pretty much ALL the other MG authors out there, and once a year holds a contest for librarians and teachers to win ALL THE BOOKS!!!


So, it’s that time again. She’s giving away a TON of books to one lucky winner, and my book Wish Girl is one of them…


And you should 100% go to her website here right now and enter to win.

Do it! Because we MG authors love our teachers and librarians SO MUCH.

Enter by commenting on LYNDA’S blog (not mine) or tweeting the link on her blog to #MGAuthorsLoveTeachers  by next Saturday night!


What Librarians Wish For (& Wish Girl Giveaway Winner)

Wow. Want to know how to make an author cry with happiness?

I ran a contest to give away five paperback copies of Wish Girl to a librarian or teacher, and asked those commenting on my blog to post their wish for their students. Reading those comments brought happy tears.

I already knew librarians were some of the finest people of my acquaintance, but just look at these snippets from the comments, listed below. These are the deep wishes of caring librarians for their students. It gives me great hope for the future when I think of these people nurturing young readers. What gifts they are to their students!

My wish for my students is…

“that they always find that one person they can talk to and feel safe with when they are having a not so great day. Having that connection is so important.” -Deb

“that they have access to books that stretch their minds and lead them to glorious futures.” -Veronica

“that they can overcome the tragedies and bad experiences that they’ve lived through, and not allow those things to hold them back. Overcome those obstacles and continue forth in life and become successful with the things they want to achieve. Some have it much worse than anyone could imagine and they have to work harder in getting there.” -Kelly

“that my students find comfort in books, and that they feel safe, secure, and loved in our library.” -Erin

that “all of my students could find that one place during their lives where they can just escape to and where people get them.” – Mikela

“for my students to have great books to read in their hands so that they can read and relate to them!” -Ronnie

“for my students to get excited by amazing literature” – Steffanie

“for my students is that they are not held back by those who intentionally or unintentionally try to silence them or keep them from growing” -Stacey

“that everyone of them understands & realizes that each of their voices matters and that they can each make a difference in the world.” – Becky

“to be brave enough to dream big! I also wish that they can learn to love and find comfort in books the way that I have.” – Jessica

“that each of my 356 students is able at some point to find a book that swallows them whole, refusing to spit them back out.” – Susan

“that they will realize how very special and unique they each are.” -Rita

“for all children to feel valued for being their authentic selves.” -Diane

“that they read to see the world through another person’s eyes creating a new understanding and compassion for the book characters as they vividly come to life.” -Cara

“for my students to continue to ask amazing questions when interacting with literature.  ” -Lisa

“that they all discover a love of literature at some point in their lives. ” -Susie

“that they become kind people who honor and respect themselves and others.” -Margaret

Thank you to all those who posted their wishes, and congratulations to the randomly chosen winner of the 5 copies of Wish Girl… Jessica Samuel. I wish all of you could have won… and I hope ALL of your wishes come true. I have a feeling you’re working every day to make that happen.


Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars: Worth Fighting Over

Hi, y’all! I’m popping in today to leave a review about my friend Cory Putman Oakes’ newest book, Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars. She very graciously gave me a signed ARC copy to give away here as well!


The only problem is, when my youngest son saw the ARC sitting on my desk, he yelled, “There’s another one?! Woohoo!” and ran away with it.

The first one, which we BOTH loved.

The first one, which we BOTH loved.

Then he growled at me when I told him I needed to read it for this post.

Drew reading DinoBoy

Then he took it to school because “I can’t stop reading now, I’ve finally found a favorite book and you’re taking it away? What kind of a mom are you?”


And even last night, when I thought I could skim the first few chapters at least, the kid proclaimed “I will die if I don’t finish this tonight! Please don’t make me go to bed.”


So, that’s all the review I have… but I think it might be enough. 🙂

I’m sure he’s finishing it this morning at school instead of doing his work, and I’m looking forward to reading it soon. And then I’m looking forward to sending it to one of YOU!

So, any North American reader on this blog post who leaves a comment (idea: favorite funny book that kept you or your kids up reading at night) will have their name put in the hat, and the kid will pull the winning comment on February 13, the day of Cory’s launch party at Bookpeople!

Happy Birthday, Dinosaur Boy Saves Mars. I know I’ll love you when I get my hands on you.


UPDATE! The contest is over and Julien is the winner! Julien, send me your address and I’ll mail the ARC to you.

Wish Girl in Paperback & a Giveaway

Hip hip hooray!

It’s always a Big Deal when a book is first released, right? Well, as it turns out, it’s even a Big Deal to authors when a book comes out again… in paperback. This means your publisher believes in your book enough to re-tool the cover, market it some more, etc. And kids who haven’t read it have another shot at finding it, as it hits bookstore shelves all over again – and for less $$$, so more kids can afford it.


And guess what? Wish Girl is coming out in paperback on February 23rd! I’m super excited, and to celebrate, I’m going to give away five signed paperback copies to a teacher, librarian, or book club leader who comments on this post! Just tell me what YOUR wish is for your kids/students this year. I will ask my son to draw a name at random from a hat on February 10 in the morning (yeah, super low tech over here), and we will announce the winner that day. (North American entries only please.)

Thanks to all the teachers, librarians, and readers out there who have read Wish Girl and loved it enough that it’s staying in the world… and in reader’s hands. You are my wish come true!