I’m giving away 4 books! Come and get ’em!

Hi, everyone. This is just a quick post today. I just wanted to let people know I’ve launched a giveaway for print copies of my 6th Grade Revenger books.

This is just a quick post today. I know a great many of the people who might read this blog are American and likely still suffering the effects of turkey, mashed potatoes, and fixings I’ve likely never imagined. I just wanted to let people know I’ve launched a giveaway for print copies of my 6th Grade Revenger books.

So, as you lie on the couch, wondering what in the name of all that is mighty compelled you to have that fourth helping, how about entering for a chance to win some free books? just wanted to let people know I’ve launched a giveaway for print copies of my 6th Grade Revenger books.

I will be releasing book 4 in my REVENGER series very soon, and so this giveaway is for the first 4 books in the series. As soon as the giveaway is over, I’ll get the books in the mail.

The link below will take you to the contest:

giveaway-revengers

 

6th Grade Revengers GIVEAWAY (4 books)

 

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Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome to OCTOBER

halloween-is-coming

 

Since I was a kid, October was my second favorite month (second only to December as December hosts both Christmas and…. MY BIRTHDAY!)—but it was a very close second. It was the spookiness of the month I loved more than anything. The anticipation of Halloween, and sure, the candy was a bonus, but it was the idea that this part of the year had something otherworldly about it, something paranormal.

As I got older, that fear disappeared, and with it, the excitement of Halloween lost much of its edge. It’s an interesting time for me right now, in that my oldest child (5 years old) is just starting to understand that there’s something spooky about Halloween. I am torn between the fatherly need to reassure him there’s no such thing as monsters and the memory of my youth where I so enjoyed being afraid there really were ghosts and witches that came out around Halloween. For now, I’ll lean towards the former but reserve the right to change my mind in years to come 🙂

I am sure it wasn’t my parents who spurred my belief in all that went bump in the night. They likely did as I do with my kids, and reassure them monsters aren’t real. My four older brothers, on the other hand, likely had a lot to do with my fears. They were quick to remind me that monsters lived under my bed and in the closet and in the darkest corners of the basements. Those creaks I heard at night? Those had nothing to do with a house settling, and were, in fact, spirits wandering the halls looking, specifically, for me.

Like most writers, I never have a shortage of ideas for future books. I probably have 100 spooky book ideas in my “Notes for future books” folder on my computer. The problem is time. Writing a lot of books is tough to do when you’re not writing full time (i.e. splitting writing time with day-job time), but once I have my REVENGER series out, the 4th –and last– book in my DEAN CURSE series out, and book #2 in the CAMBRIDGE FILES released, I’m going to get one of those spooky books written. With a little luck, It’ll happen in 2017.

So what about you guys? Do you have a favorite month? Does October hold any special place in your heart? Or do you hate October and everything it stands for?

Posted in Books for 9-12 year olds Tagged with:

The 6th Grade Revengers – New Series for 9-12 year olds (and everyone else too!)

Welcome to my new site. Isn’t it shiny?

To be honest, it’s still a work in progress. There are a lot of components of the website I am still trying to tweak. Perhaps the most important part is the mailing list sign up. If you haven’t already signed up, you should. I won’t talk about everything coming down the line to people signed up there, but I’ll give you a hint — FREE BOOKS!

Today, since I’m well into the release schedule of my 6th Grade Revengers series, I thought I’d talk a bit about the journey to where I am with that series. And the struggle that goes along with marketing adventure and action books for the 9-12-year-old reader (and their parents/family/teachers since that is who really makes the decision about purchasing).

Blog posts without pictures = bad. So I thought it might be cool to share the progression of cover art for the series since those images actually do a good job speaking to the process.

In 2014 I was kicking around the idea with my sister. I wanted to come up with a series of shorter books that could follow two kids who seemed to do good despite their best efforts not to. The idea took shape and I started writing.

Originally, I called it The 6th GRADE ASSASSINS and book 1 in my series was the story that has become book 2 in the current series.

pintado-6th-grade-assassins

 

My agent and I kicked the idea around a bit, and decided “Assassins” as a title for kids who didn’t actually kill anyone, didn’t feel right (making them actual assassins, also, didn’t feel right– haha).6th Grade Revengers became the name, which was a title I’d loved just a bit less than “assassin.” So it went out on submission and, despite good feedback, wasn’t picked up.

I made a decision I’d put the titles out myself. I’d done a lot of work writing them, and I wasn’t keen on going with a smaller publisher (as my experience with small presses hasn’t been awesome). After some more feedback, and showing people the mockup of the cover above, there was a lot of people who thought an illustrated cover would be more easily marketed to the 9-12 audience.

I wanted to get an idea regarding what an illustrated cover would feel like, I gave that a try also.

typography1    typography2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I actually loved the illustrated artwork, but getting an appropriate title treatment was a nightmare (I really don’t like either of the options above.  Furthermore, since I was going to put these books out on my own, I was the one who’d have to conceptualize the cover and give direction to the illustrator. It took quite a lot of time and effort to get the scene depicted above, and I wasn’t convinced I’d picked the correct one. Illustrated covers aren’t cheap, and getting it wrong wasn’t appealing to me, so I went back with the other design, tweaked somewhat.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00034]

And there you have it. The birth of THE REVENGERS.

Don’t forget, if you want to read the first one for free, subscribe to my newsletter and it will arrive in your inbox right away (well, you have to confirm you subscribed to the newsletter first, but after that, BOOM!)

Posted in Books for 9-12 year olds, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

Writing update & round 2 of why I don’t do my own covers

Yes, I know, I know, I was doing so well blogging semi-regularly, and then… nothing. But that is how things go when I’m working hard on a project. I tend to let my writing gobble up every spare moment I have.

 

But today I bring good news. News that will give you a chance to laugh at my complete and utter lack of artistic skill. You may recall I shared, not too long ago, my mock up for book 4 in the Dean Curse books, and how the designer I’d commissioned had turned my mess into something pretty dang spectacular. I called that post WHY I DON’T DO MY OWN COVERS

 

Well, today I give you round two in that saga.

 

 

 

What you’re looking at is a mock-up for the third book in a new series I’ve been working on for well over a year now. I will have a lot more to say about the books in the coming weeks, but wanted to start with something that blows my mind: Art, and how an artist can take my stick-figure drawing and spin it into something beyond what I could have hoped for.

 

For information purposes, the artist is the same gentleman I’ve used for all my covers. His name is PINTADO, and his website is HERE


(and yes, I know I spelled exhaust wrong in the picture :/ )

Posted in Uncategorized

Printed books are the best! Also…. UNICORNS!

PAPER BOOKS ARE THE BEST!!!1!One!

I’ve heard the ebooks vs. printed books debate a hundred times—many of those times things get heated. I am an ardent believer that people should read what and how they want. Like to read on paper? Cool. So do I. Wanna read off a screen? Okay, do that. I like doing that too. Same goes for if you prefer your books chiseled on stone, or painted on the walls of French caves, or hand written by albino monks on the flesh of your enemies… uh… we’ll come back to that last one….


The point of this post is not to debate which side is better—because every time that debate pops up it quickly devolves into one side saying:

And the other side doing something like this:

The point of this post is, instead, to right a problem I’ve had with the debate since the first time I heard it. The arguments are entirely unoriginal.  “With a kindle, I can hold a million books in my pocket!” or “Printed books smell like unicorns!” Both are totally true, but just not original.

So, I am here to right that wrong. Today I present an entirely friendly challenge: I will give you a few original reasons why printed books are better than ebooks (bearing in mind I love ebooks too), and you try to come up with five original reasons why ebooks are better.
Ready?
NUMBER ONE: Cops! Yeah, that’s right. Questioning suspects just wouldn’t be the same without a physical book. What are you going to hit them with? A kindle? No, those leave very distinctive marks. Without physical books the entire justice system would be in ruin.
 
NUMBER TWO:  You can hide stuff in books

NUMBER THREE:  No books = no bookshelves. No bookshelves means people will easily find your secret door to your bat-cave.
NUMBER FOUR:  It’s much cooler to make-out in the library or bookstore aisles, than it is the electronics aisle at Walmart (or any aisle at Walmart for that matter).
 
NUMBER FIVE: They are the go-to resource for wizards and witches.
NUMBER SIX: If you want to be evil, you can rip out the last two pages of a book and reduce the next reader to tears. Always fun… if you’re evil… which I’m not… and am no way endorsing you to destroy books.
 
 NUMBER SEVEN: They smell like unicorn! (C’mon, that’s actually pretty original!)
Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Bookstores will survive! or do I mean, will bookstores survive?

I live in a city of bookstores. It seem there’s always one just around the corner or on the next block. It’s wonderful for someone like me who tends to enjoy bookstores the way others enjoy gardens.


What’s interesting, is that I don’t pass that many major bookstore chains. The few that remain seem to sell a lot more than just books. Merchandise, toys, and food have at least as much space as the books on the shelves.


I can’t help but wonder what the landscape will look like in ten years.


Will we have bookstores?


I think we will, but I’d be surprised if many of them were major chains. If we look at the movie industry, the major players like Blockbuster and Rogers Video closed first. Up until even a year ago I remember passing by the odd independent movie store. Though I have to admit it’s been several years since I’ve even owned a DVD player, let alone rented a movie.


One thing I realize is a lack of bookstores doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of physical books. Most of the people I know who buy books, buy a lot of them online. I think that might stem from dwindling supply in stores, as well as the larger discounts the digital retailers tend to offer.


What do you think? Will independent bookstores thrive in the new climate? Will our kids, and our kid’s kids have bookstores? Or will books become things purchased online or in a few aisles at the backs of specialty shops?


Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Failing!

I took this challenge hoping I’d really hit all 30 days, but clearly I’ve missed a couple :/ so I’m revising the challenge and calling it BLOG AS MUCH AS YOU CAN IN 30 DAYS! Okay, that’s not technically too far off from what I usually do. Gonna consider this baby-steps 😛

Today I wanted to give a quick peak into what I’ve been working on in terms of writing projects. Ready?

My MG series:
I’ve been working on a new series of MG adventure books. No, that doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my DEAN CURSE or my CAMBRIDGE FILES books. In fact, DEAN CURSE 4 (PLUNGE) is well on its way, and Book 2 in the CAMBRIDGE FILES is actually done (well, done to the pre-professional editing stage anyway).

I don’t really like to talk too much about my works in progress, but I will tell you that I’ve written a fair number of books in this new series and I’m really excited about it. My agent is presently pitching the concept to publishers.

So here’s a simple image collage about the books to keep you interested: Now… fair warning: My artistic skills can generally be put to shame by a toddler with a crayon and access to a wall. Something I made oh so evident when I revealed the before and after for my DEAN CURSE book covers HERE

Okay, okay, get on with it, Steve! Here you go:

See what I mean about the lack of art-skills? Okay, let me try again with my YA novel. I recently turned in to my agent for some feedback. In collage form it would look a bit like this:

I also have a number of ideas in the rough stage but those are the books I have complete for now. I look forward to putting some updates together soon for these books.

Okay, what do you think? Should I give up this whole writing thing and just go in to business as a professional collage maker?

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Boys vs. girls… the battle for the books

The other day I was asked by a parent what book I’d recommend for their 9 year old son. They wanted me to give them some tips for ‘boy-books’ that they thought he’d like

My initial thought was that they were looking for books that had a little more:

And a little less:

And don’t get me wrong. It didn’t bother me. When faced with a choice between the latest Avengers movie or something pulled from a Nicholas Sparks book, a betting man would put money on Avengers being a more popular choice for guys. And that’s fine.

Okay, back to my story and the point of this post. They asked for a boy book, I suggested a book and they shook their head saying, “They were looking for something with more action and fighting.”

Cool— I made another suggestion:

“Ah, but it has a girl on the cover. I want one geared for boys.”

Wait a second… the book can’t have a girl on the cover? But it’s got these two kick-butt characters who are total fighters and they’re out for revenge… and … and … nevermind. You know your kid better than I do. Could they really have been saying that the simple fact the main character is a girl disqualifies it from being one a boy would want to read… Ahem… HUNGER GAMES!!!

I looked around the net and sure enough, I saw countless comments and message board threads and book reviews pointing out this trend of thinking boy books MUST be about boys. That’s too bad, and I think we’re teaching kids a lesson we don’t mean to be teaching them when we do that..

Again, I’m not saying that boys and girls will always like the same books. Of course not. But neither will all boys like the same books as other boys, or girls as other girls. And I’m not saying that publishers can’t target their marketing strategy to parents with boys, or to boys themselves. I’m just saying that we, as readers, and parents, and writers, should perhaps not paint books with the same predetermined gender color palette we seem to have for clothing.

My son’s into action adventure, Steve, what do you recommend?


This is one of my favs. Totally a clean read for kids under 12, and loaded with action and adventure and … Oh, wait, even though that looks like a boy on the cover, it’s actually a girl since the main character pretends to be a boy…. Darn. Luckily they have two covers. One with a character and one without!

My son loves books that involve soccer players. He’s 8 years old, any suggestions?

Oh, darn, foiled again.

What are your thoughts? Am I over thinking this?

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

stop ruining my kids wtih your books!1!!one!!!

Didn’t think I’d make it today, did you? tsk tsk…

So I was asked a question the other day and it’s one I’ve been asked before. It’s going to be the topic for today’s post. The question was: Do you think literature for youth should have characters with strong morals, or at the very least tell a story that helps kids develop stronger morals?

When I hear this question I usually turn it around and asked if they believe literature for adults should be held to the same standard.

Of course, the answer is always “No!”

And yet, for some reason there seem to be many who share this belief that kid-lit requires a different set of standards.

But when it comes right down to it, my problem with the assuming kid-lit needs to teach a lesson or have characters who’d be good role-models, is two-fold: First, I believe the question doesn’t give kids enough credit.

Kids are smart. They’re savvy. They’re thoughtful. They are not going to jump off a bridge because a character in a book does so, and makes bridge-jumping look uber-cool. They’re just not. Nor will stories about wizards turn kids into sorcerers, or diaries of wimpy kids turn children into selfish kids.

That said, Caillou will utterly destroy your child, so keep that in mind!

The second reason is that when you require literature to teach something or have characters who are morally praiseworthy, you remove the possibility that reading is something people do for fun. There doesn’t need to be a reason to read beyond pure entertainment—and that goes for kid-lit too.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying kid-lit CAN’T, or SHOULDN’T teach something. Nor am I saying that it MUST NOT have heroes who are good role-models. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t HAVE to have those things.

I remember reading an interview by JEFF KINNEY, author of the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID series. And he was asked why his series seemed to resonate with the readership. His answer:

“I think that what kids like is that Greg seems authentic. I really strive to not moralize to kids or to have a strong, underlying message in my books. They’re written to be entertainment. They’re written to be humourous.”

I agree with Mr. Kinney wholeheartedly. But that’s my opinion, so I’m curious what you guys think.

Posted in Uncategorized

Breathe

I’m actually writing this post at 1:00 AM, and many people who know me will no doubt assume it’s because I’m just up and writing. I am a very early riser, but 1:00 AM is early even by my standards. The reason I’m up will be the topic of today’s post.


Asthma.


My son suffers from this disease and it’s one of those things that I think a lot of people don’t really understand. Prior to my experience with my son I was pretty ignorant of just how serious it was. No one in my family had it when I was growing up, and so my experience was limited to what I saw in elementary and high school. Kids who were short of breath just seemed to bust out their puffers, take a hit or two, and be good a few seconds later.


As far as diseases went, I’d have assumed it was fairly mild.


But now… now it thoroughly freaks me out. It’s so scary to watch your 3-year-old struggle to get a breath, and know that you’re mostly helpless to fix it. Sure, I can grab the chamber and his puffer and try to get it on his face, but sometimes (most times) that doesn’t work, or he’s coughing so hard you can’t get the mask on him, or you do, but they vomit from the coughing—the whole time crying because of how scared they are.


It breaks my heart when the symptoms die down and he asks me why he can’t breathe well, or why his lungs don’t work very well. Or when we’re eating dinner and he tries to eat his green-beans because he says, “If I eat these, my lungs will get better and I won’t cough so much” because we tell him veggies make him grow big and strong.


I do know that kids can grow out of it, and that’s my hope for my son. But until then it’s this battery of medication from different colored puffers, to steroids, and pills that are given with near-religious dedication because when they’re neglected the consequences are severe. It’s hospital visits, and specialists. It’s wondering if it’s too cold for that walk he’s begging for, or for him to ride his bike when we go to the store. It’s him coughing so hard after two minutes on his scooter that he vomits and cries because he’s so scared, or upset that his new shirt is dirty now.


Really, it’s watching his fear about something that’s impossible for a 3 year old to understand.


And now, it’s sitting on the couch in the wee hours, holding the video monitor set up for his room, listening to him cough, and hoping that this episode doesn’t get worse.


I’m not writing this today because I am looking for sympathy. I’m writing because I think asthma is one of those diseases whose seriousness isn’t really understood—or at least the seriousness of it is not understood as globally as many diseases.


I decided this 30 day challenge was going to be me writing with as little over-thinking as possible. I don’t usually share such things but it’s something on the forefront of my mind most days. So there you have it 🙂


I Promise tomorrow’s post will be more up-beat!


Cheers
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