2017 Debut Book Love: I Am Fartacus

Book Review

2017 Debut Book Love | I Am Fartacus | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI AM FARTACUS: The title kind of says it all.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book with this many bathroom jokes in it. Maybe never. Still, the ARC of Mark Maciejewski’s middle grade debut, I AM FARTACUS, had me laughing right out loud more than once.

I’m pretty sure classrooms full of kids are going to be cracking up in 2017.

Mark gives us an interesting character in his bald, anti-hero Chub. Bent on revenge against Alanmoore Middle School’s most popular boy, (yep, Alanmoore – and that’s not the only reference to The Watchmen which only adds to the fun) Chub and his cadre of mischief makers plan and prank their way toward justice. But sometimes it’s hard to tell where the good guy ends and the bad guy begins.

I Am FartacusI Am Fartacus by Mark Maciejewski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A funny middle grade debut with a great cast of secondary characters. It’s tough not to like this short, bald anti-hero and his Cadre of Evil.

View all my reviews

A funny middle grade debut with a great cast of secondary characters. It’s tough not to like this short, bald anti-hero and his Cadre of Evil.

View all my reviews

For readers

  • A fun cast of secondary characters. The Colonel may be my favorite adult ever.
  • Pranks, fart jokes, and more pranks.
  • Fun references to comics and movies.

For teachers

  • A anti-hero worth studying.
  • Discussion about the fine line between heroes and villains, bullying and getting even.
  • A main character who happens to be an immigrant.
  • A cast with a diverse set of family situations.

Another April debut, I AM FARTACUS is released April 18, 2017. It is available for order now at Amazon.

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Author Event at Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland

heidischulz-patriciabailey-janetjohnson author panel at Annie Bloom'sI’m coming to Portland for an author event!

I’m so excited to be on a middle grade author panel with Janet Sumner Johnson and Heidi Schultz! We’ll be at Annie Bloom’s Books in Portland, Oregon on May 22 talking about the real-world inspiration for the characters, friendships, and adventures in our books. We’ll discuss our writing process and how life inspires our creativity, leaving time for a Q&A session with the audience.

If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll be able to make it. This will be my first out-of-town author event since THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN has been out in the world and I’m kind of nervous. I would be great to see some familiar faces!

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Surreal Moment No. 9

Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Surreal Moment – April 25, 2017
Ashland, OR. Bloomsbury Books

THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN is officially out in the world and on the shelf at Bloomsbury Books in Ashland!

Ashland Oregon and Bloomsbury Books has always held a special place in my heart. I went to college in Ashland, and Bloomsbury Books was one of my favorite places to browse. I especially loved their staff recommendations. In fact, the first book I read that made me think it might be possible for me to write stories about things I knew was a book I bought at that bookstore.

So to see my little book on the shelves there was beyond thrilling.

KIT DONOVAN Book Launch | Bloomsbury Books | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com   KIT DONOVAN Book Launch | Bloomsbury Books | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Thanks so much for the staff at Bloomsbury for making my visit a memorable one! By now, Kit should also be at Treehouse Books in Ashland and Barnes and Noble in Medford.

As for me, I’m back in Klamath, still in a state of shock.

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Author Spotlight: Joanne O’Sullivan

Author Spotlight Interview | Joanne O'Sullivan talks Between Two Skies | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on fellow Class of 2k17 member Joanne O’Sullivan and her debut novel BETWEEN TWO SKIES.

Title: 
BETWEEN TWO SKIES

Genre:  YA

Age Range:  12-16

Launch Date:  April 25, 2017

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Most kids her age can’t wait to get out of tiny Bayou Perdu, a fishing town way, way down in Louisiana. But for sixteen-year-old Evangeline Riley it’s home. She has her best friends, Kendra and Danielle; her wise, beloved Mamere; and back-to-back titles in the under-sixteen fishing rodeo and above all peace that only comes when she takes her skiff out to where there is nothing but sky and air and water and wings. Then Hurricane Katrina comes, and everything changes. Exiled to Atlanta, she longs for home. But when she meets—and falls for—fellow “refugee” and budding bluesman Tru, she has to decide if home is a person or a place.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

I went to college at Loyola University in New Orleans and that area holds a special place in my heart. After Hurricane Katrina hit, I really wanted to do something to help. However, I was expecting my son, so I wasn’t able to volunteer for rebuilding. Instead, I read a lot about what was happening: a lot of first-person narratives. I was struck by the teens whose lives were interrupted by the storm. School had either just started or was about to start for many. The year that they though they would have—and for some the life they thought they would have—never happened.

I first read Wordsworth’s “Evangeline” when I was in college in New Orleans. This sweeping, melancholy love poem tells the story of a girl in Acadia (now Atlantic Canada) separated from her true love Gabriel on the eve of their wedding as the British forced French speakers out of Canada and they resettle in Louisiana. She relentlessly searches the frontier of the US for him, only to find him when it’s too late. The heroine of this story, Evangeline, is legendary in Louisiana.

When I read about the many people displaced by Katrina, I couldn’t help but connect the Acadians—exiled hundreds of years before—to this new catastrophe, this new exodus for some of their descendants. A new Evangeline and a new Gabriel took shape in my mind: Evangeline Riley, whose family’s fortunes are so entwined with the land and sea, and Tru Nguyen, whose family has endured exile before as war pushed them out of Vietnam. Like characters in the story that inspired them, they are caught up in circumstances beyond their control and driven out of the diverse and soulful place that is Southern Louisiana. Their lives are broken and bent into new shapes. The way they respond to this upheaval will determine their futures.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

I typically start with a certain character or scene that’s intriguing to me and build out from there. I am a journalist as well, so I love research; so much so that I need to stop myself at some point so that I don’t lean to far into non-fiction! Once I’ve got some scenes written and the characters have introduced themselves to me I start to think about plot- where are we going with this? This may not be the most efficient way to write a novel, but that’s the way it happens for me!

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

My elementary school librarian Mrs. Johnson was a big influence in my life! At my school, being athletic was much more the norm than being bookish. Mrs. Johnson always welcomed me and found new books that she knew I would like, so the library felt more like home to me than any other part of the school. My second grade teacher Mrs. Hale also encouraged me to write and her encouragement stayed with me for a long time!

What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

BETWEEN TWO SKIES helps to show the more human side of one of the biggest natural disasters in American history, Hurricane Katrina. While reading nonfiction and historical accounts helps us understand it on one level, fiction helps readers to understand it on the emotional level. I would love it if teachers used BETWEEN TWO SKIES to show how historical events can be brought to life in fiction. But it’s also an all-around coming-of-age, family and love story!

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

I’m a little dog obsessed, too! My favorite real dog is, of course, my family dog Biscuit. He adopted us one weekend when we were visiting a friend’s weekend house. He arrived on the driveway and basically never left us again. We tried to find an owner, but no one came forward so he became our pup. He’s a bit shy with strangers, but he’s such a loving guy with us. He’s not the smartest dog in the world, but we think he’s the sweetest!

Author Spotlight Interview | Joanne O'Sullivan talks Between Two Skies | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

 

Author Spotlight Interview | Joanne OSullivan talks Between Two Skies | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comJoanne O’Sullivan introduces fascinating people and places to readers through books, articles and blog posts. Her award-winning science, sustainability and travel books for kids include “Migration Nation” (Charlesbridge, 2015) and the 101 Before You’re 12 series. She has lived in a sixteenth-century Italian palazzo and a modern Korean high-rise, but now calls beautiful Asheville, North Carolina home. When she and her environmental activist husband and artistic kids aren’t out in the woods, she’s usually planning her next big trip to faraway places. Visit her at www.joanneosullivan.com or on Twitter and Instagram at jkosullian1.

Thanks so much, Joanne!

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Author Spotlight: Allison Hymas Talks About Under Locker And Key

Author Spotlight Interview | Allison Hymas talks Under Locker and Key | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comToday I’m shining the Author Spotlight on Allison Hymas and her debut novel UNDER LOCKER AND KEY.

Title: Under Locker and Key

Genre: Middle Grade Crime/Mystery

Age Range: Ages 9-13

Launch Date: April 18, 2017

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

UNDER LOCKER AND KEY is about a 12-year-old “retrieval specialist” named Jeremy Wilderson who steals back things for the kids in his school. Since doing his job requires a certain amount of lying, cheating, con artistry, and straight-up burglary, Jeremy has made an enemy of the school’s private investigator, a girl named Becca Mills, who has made it her mission to personally take Jeremy down. When Jeremy accidentally places the key that opens every locker in the school in the hands of an aspiring eighth-grade kingpin, he must team up with Becca Mills herself to get it back.

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

I actually started this story as part of a class for writing for children and adolescents. I had to come up with a character and write a one-page introduction for the character in his or her voice. At the time I had been reading a lot of middle grade mysteries and watching TV shows about thieves and criminals. I realized that I had found many books about middle grade detectives, but not as many about the criminals they chased. That led to me thinking about what a criminal protagonist would be like, whether he would see himself as a thief or as a hero, why he’d do what he did, etc. I decided he’d see himself as a hero, not a thief, so I wrote the sentence, “First off, I am not a thief,” and Jeremy Wilderson jumped off the page. From there, it was easy to develop Becca, the straight-laced detective antagonist who opposes Jeremy but maybe has more in common with him than she thinks. It has been fun writing a story with a good-guy thief protagonist because I can have him opposed by both the law and by bad-guy thieves.

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

When I’m starting a new story, I tend to think about it a lot before I sit down to write the first page. I’ll do lots of prewriting, which I find very fun because it feels like solving a mystery to me. I’ll write up profiles for my characters and experiment by imagining them in different situations and seeing how they’ll react. I’ll start basic plotting for the novel before I write it by listing possible events that could happen in the story and why they would, based on my characters’ personalities and motives. Before I start writing, I will develop a very basic outline for the story; I know major events that need to happen, but am less sure about the details in between. Then I sit down to write, and when I write, those details come. I’m okay changing the major outline if the story works better in a different way.

My first draft is very rough. I write it fast, just to have something to work with later. Most of my good writing comes in revisions as I shape the story to fit what I want it to be best. I tend to discover more about my plot and my characters as I write, so that first fast draft is important for me to understand better what my story is about. As for research, I will do some preliminary research during the prewriting stage, but will research again as I need it during writing. For example, I may learn a little about picking locks before starting the story, but as I write the lock-picking parts I may look for research about what it takes to pick a certain kind of lock or try picking a lock myself so I know how it feels to do it.

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

My parents have always been very supportive of my writing, so I think they deserve a nod here. There were two teachers, my fifth grade teacher and my sixth grade Language Arts teacher, who encouraged my writing and told me I was actually good at it, so I credit them with the change from thinking, “I’d like to be a writer, but that’s just a dream,” to “I might actually be able to write as a career.” In college, Dr. Chris Crowe was a professor who really mentored me as a writer and encouraged me to eventually publish my work.

What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

Well, since my book is about preteen criminals, this question is a little hard to answer! Jeremy has an elevated vocabulary for a 12-year-old, though not overly so for the age group, and he’s fond of language and words, so it could work as a book used to teach vocabulary to a middle grade audience. I’d prefer, though, for the book to be used more to discuss crime and justice, doing the right thing, and interacting with people who have different views on subjects than you do than just for vocabulary. The book deals with these things in a way that is (I think) appropriate and entertaining for young readers.

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

Growing up, I had a dog named Snoopy. He was a beagle-basset hound mix and was very energetic and affectionate. We ended up giving him away, but I loved him and learned a lot about caring for another creature from having him. My favorite story about Snoopy was the time I came home to find that he’d caught and killed a rabbit in the back yard. We didn’t want him killing anything, and I had to clean up the mess, but Snoopy looked so proud of himself and was leaping around with a doggy smile on his face, so thrilled that he’d hunted a rabbit for me, that I couldn’t bring myself to say anything but a half-hearted, “Good job, boy,” as I disposed of the poor bunny’s remains.

 

Author Spotlight Interview | Allison Hymas talks about Under Locker and Key | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

As a middle schooler, I was a law-abiding citizen (except for the occasional offense of reading under my desk when I should have been listening). I now hold an MFA from Brigham Young University and currently live in Utah. Under Locker and Key is my first novel. I’m hard at work writing Jeremy Wilderson’s further adventures.

You can learn more about Allison and UNDER LOCKER AND KEY at her website, and you can visit with her on social media at the following links:

Blog
Facebook
Goodreads
Twitter
Instagram

Thanks so much, Allison!

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Goodreads Giveaway for The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan officially launches at the end of the month – which means, it’s time for a Goodreads Giveaway!

Goodreads is giving away 4 signed Advanced Reader Copies of THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN.

All you have to do is head on over to Goodreads and enter.

Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan

by Patricia Bailey

Giveaway ends April 22, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan Book Trailer

Because Kit is a tad impulsive, she’s decided to venture out into the world a month early – which means you can buy THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN now!

Head on over to one of these online retailers and purchase your copy today!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells | Indiebound

Surreal Moment No. 8

Surreal Moment in a Debut Author's Life | Karen Cushman blurbed my book! | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comSurreal Moment – March 6, 2017
Klamath Falls, OR.

Karen Cushman Blurbed My Book | Surreal Moments in a Debut Author's Life | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Karen Cushman blurbed my book!!

*Imagine me repeating that quietly over and over again – because that’s pretty much what I did when I got the email – for days.

Way back when I first signed my contract, my agent mentioned that she knew Karen and that she was going to send her an ARC when the time came. For months, I tried not to think about the fact that sometime in the future, my little book would be on Karen Cushman’s TBR pile.

It was just too unreal to fathom.

It’s still too unreal to fathom.

So imagine how surreal it was to read what she had written about it once she was finished reading.

The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan is a rip-roaring tale of love, friendship, and betrayal set in the gold mines of Nevada. It’s chockablock with bad guys and good guys, mysteries and deceptions, dangers and disasters. The bad-tempered, outrageous, courageous, and determined Kit will steal your heart. This is a romping good read!

-Karen Cushman, Newbery Medalist for The Midwife’s Apprentice

She actually wrote that down – about my little book!

This is the stuff writers’ dreams are made of!

Because THE Karen Cushman only blurbs your debut novel once in a lifetime, I’ve decided to celebrate with a contest. Simply sign up for my newsletter (there’s a subscribe button at the top right of this post) and you will be entered to win one of the legendary author’s books.

Karen Cushman Blurbed My Book | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

I promise you, they are all “…romping good read(s).” And, as fate (and surreal moments) would have it, Catherine Called Birdy  actually served as inspiration for THE TRAGICALLY TRUE ADVENTURES OF KIT DONOVAN from the moment I started writing it.

It’s almost as if Catherine and Kit have come full circle.
That’s some writerly magic right there.

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2017 Debut Book Love – The Shadows We Know By Heart

the shadows we know by heartFellow Class of 2k17 Books member Jennifer Park’s incredible YA debut, THE SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART, releases today and it is quite simply the book you did not know you have been waiting for all of your life.

Leah Roberts’s life has never been the same since her brother died ten years ago. Her mother won’t stop drinking, her father can’t let go of his bitter anger, and Leah herself has a secret she’s told no one: Sasquatch are real, and she’s been watching a trio of them in the woods behind her house for years.

Everything changes when Leah discovers that among the Sasquatch lives a teenager. This alluring, enigmatic boy has no memory of his past and can barely speak, but Leah can’t shake his magnetic pull. Gradually, Leah’s life entwines with his, providing her the escape from reality she never knew she needed.

But when Leah’s two worlds suddenly collide in a deadly showdown, she uncovers a shocking truth as big and extraordinary as the legends themselves, one that could change her life forever.

Jennifer handles this Tarzan retelling perfectly. She tells this story about love and loss beautifully – with just the right blend of heart and mystery.

THE SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART is one of my favorite all-time YA reads. I cannot wait to share it with everyone I know.

The Shadows We Know by HeartThe Shadows We Know by Heart by Jennifer Park
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved every word of Jennifer Parks’s debut novel. The story is captivating from page one. Park plunges you into the East Texas woods until you feel like you’re part of the story and never want to leave. Great characters, a great setting, gorgeous writing and exactly the right amount of action/tension to keep you turning the pages. A haunting look at love, hope, and the lies we tell, this is a book I can’t wait to read again.

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For readers

  • An original love story.
  • A great, true-to-life sibling relationship.
  • A compelling mystery

For teachers

  • A beautifully drawn setting.
  • A unique retelling of a classic.
  • Flawed and likeable main characters.

THE SHADOWS WE KNOW BY HEART is on sale today. You can pick up a copy at your local bookstore or online at:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Powells

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Author Spotlight: Kristin Gray Talks About Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT


Today I’m
finalcover Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge shining the Author Spotlight on Kristin Gray and her debut novel VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE.

Title: VILONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE

Genre: Contemporary Middle-Grade

Age Range: 8-12

Launch Date: March 7, 2017

 

Please tell us a little bit about your book?

Fourth grader Vilonia hasn’t lost her rain coat in the three weeks she’s had it and she’s brushed her teeth every night and she’s volunteered to be the Friday Library Helper. But all that hard work is worth it if it means she can get a dog. Besides, this dog isn’t just because Vilonia has wanted one for pretty much ever. It’s also to help Mama, who’s been lost in one, big sadness fog for forty-three days—ever since Nana died. But Vilonia read that pets can help with sadness. Now all she has to do is keep the library goldfish alive over spring break, stop bringing stray animals home, and help Mama not get fired from her job. And she’s got to do all of it before the Catfish Festival. Easy as pie, right?

What inspired you to write this story and/or these characters?

Vilonia’s story morphed over time. After shelving an unsuccessful manuscript, I knew I wanted to write something lively and with heart. I had the idea of a young girl adopting and nurturing a puppy who had been born preterm. But as I  researched, I came across more and more articles about pet therapy and how dogs help us. So Vilonia’s story quickly evolved into one of a dog helping her family overcome their grief. So yes, dogs can be therapy. (Though sometimes, my dogs drive me bananas, but I love them anyway.)

Everyone says writing is a process. Could you share a little about your writing and/or research process?

I write in batches of scenes. Sometimes I only have half an hour, while I’m waiting on my kids at their various activities, but if I know the next scene, I’ll write it. Here’s the honest truth, I was stuck for almost three months because I didn’t know how (spoiler!) the chicken coop caught fire. Then fortuitously, I was out working at a local café one morning. A man at the table next to me was retelling the story of how his family’s hen coop had burned down. I eavesdropped for a bit and then introduced myself. I wrote the rest of the chapter that afternoon, and the rest as they say is history. So wherever you are, Dan with the hen coop, thank you! (Though I did not use the exact turn of events, it served as a springing board for my imagination.)

We know no writer is created in a vacuum. Could you tell the readers about a teacher or a librarian who had an effect on your writing life?

Oh my goodness. Mrs. Babbs was one of my librarians. I remember her reading WHY MOSQUITOES BUZZ IN PEOPLE’S EARS and parts of CADDIE WOODLAWN. I remember my 3rd and 6th grade teachers reading STUART LITTLE and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH to us before the last bell. I was transfixed by those stories.

What makes your book a good pick for use in a classroom? Is there any particular way you’d like to see teachers use it with young readers/teens?

I’d like to think Vilonia would make a fun read aloud. That was my favorite part of the school day, when teachers read to us. What a dream it would be to have my own words read in a classroom!    

I’m a little dog obsessed here at www.patriciabaileyauthor.com. Would you tell the readers about  your favorite dog (real or imaginary)?

Oh, I adore my two dogs! Lucy is an eight-year-old Border Terrier. Roxie is a two-year-old Airedale. They are so funny together. Lucy is rather lazy, so Roxie makes sure she gets her exercise. May I attach a photo?

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screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-11-55-46-am Author of Viloina Beebe Takes ChargeKristin L. Gray drinks coffee (cream, no sugar) and writes books (funny, not sad) from her home in northwest Arkansas. She loves to read, walk her dogs, and eat cake for breakfast. Kristin’s fourth-grade self would never believe she has five children, two dogs, one fish, a bearded dragon, and a shy gecko. Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge is her first novel.

You can learn more about Kristin and her books by following her on:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/kristinlgray

Insta: http://instagram.com/kristinlgray/

FB: www.facebook.com/kristinlgray/author/

Web: www.KristinLGray.com
You can buy VILIONA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE at bookstores or online at:

Amazon | B&N | Powells |

 

Thank you so much, Kristin!

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