Friday, January 27, 2012


For all you mystery/crime writers out there, there is a fantastic blog that you need to know about -- RED JUNGLE WRITERS....Eight smart and sassy crime fiction writers dish on writing and life.
It's The View. With bodies.

And when Hallie Ephron, one of those eight fabulous/famous writers, needed help with plot she turned to the one and only PLOT WHISPERER. Lucky for us Hallie shared the interview on the blog. Here is an excerpt:

HALLIE: I wonder (she said selfishly) if you could offer a few tips for conjuring plots for mystery novels -- or perhaps a few pitfalls?

MARTHA: I do not pretend to be an expert at crafting mystery novels, I leave that to you. However, after more than 20 years of analyzing hundreds of novels of all genres, memoirs and screenplays and teaching and consulting with writers from five years old to 102 from all over the world, I am an expert on plot.

You say you are on page 225 and, based on the page count of your recent novel (congratulations, by the way, on a fabulous story!), I’d say you are either building to the crisis or in the threshold after the crisis and making final preparations for the ascent to the climax.

HALLIE: Amazing! You are exactly right.
Read the complete interview here!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

BLIND SPOT cover and excerpt!

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2012
Twitter: @lauraellenbooks 

Winter stopped hiding Tricia Farni on Good Friday.

A truck driver, anxious to shave forty minutes off his commute, ventured across the shallow section of the Birch River used as an ice bridge all winter. His truck plunged into the frigid water, and as rescuers worked to save him and his semi, Tricia’s body floated to the surface.

She’d been missing since the incident in the loft six months ago. But honestly, she didn’t come to mind when I heard that a girl’s body had been found. I was that sure she was alive somewhere, making someone else’s life miserable. Maybe she was shacking up with some drug dealer, or hooking her way across the state, whatever. But she was definitely alive.

Easter morning that changed.

“The body of seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni was pulled from the Birch River Friday night. A junior at Chance High School, Tricia disappeared October 6 after leaving a Homecoming party at Birch Hill. Police believe her body has been in the water since the night she disappeared.”

I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. Tricia was a lot of things, a drug addict, a bitch, a freak, but dead? No. She was a survivor. Something—the only thing—I admired about her. I stared at my clock radio, disbelieving the news reporter. Ninety percent talk, AM 760 was supposed to provide solace from my own wrecked life that weekend. I thought all those old songs with their sha-la-la-las and da-doo-run-runs couldn’t possibly trigger any painful memories. I guess when a dead girl is found in Birch, Alaska, and you were the last to see her alive, even AM 760 can’t save you from bad memories. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

IDITA-READ + free signed ICE ISLAND/Random House to teachers


The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Mushers and their faithful huskies cover over 1,049 miles in 9–15 days. The Iditarod began in 1973 as an event to test the skills of sled dogs and mushers. It also honors the 1925 Serum Run in which countless numbers of Eskimo children in Nome had been exposed to the highly infectious disease diphtheria. The serum was transported to Nome by dog teams in the ancient tradition of Native Alaskans, who had mastered the art of using dogs for winter transportation.

Today, teams race in blizzards and whiteouts, sub-zero temperatures, and gale-force winds. Temperatures often dip to below −100 °F (−73 °C). The current fastest winning time record was set in 2011 by John Baker with a time of 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds. This year's race begins Saturday, March 3rd.

1.  Teachers explain to their students that they will compete in their own Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Their race will be a reading race.
2.  Each student  draws a musher ‘s name from entries on the Iditarod website:  Each day during the race, they’ll try to read faster (pages or minutes) than the number of  miles covered by the musher they have drawn.
3.  Teachers will track each student’s progress on a large map of Alaska.  (Tracked by daily visits to the website during the race.)  The goal is for students to read faster than their musher is traveling down the trail.
4.  Students select their books before the ‘vet check.’ Teachers will decide if the student’s books are “healthy” (grade/ability level).
5.  As students read to each checkpoint, they’re responsible for logging in their time and having it checked by a race marshal (teacher).

1.  Students read 1,049 minutes or pages appropriate to each student’s reading level.
1.  Large map of Alaska with Iditarod Trail & checkpoints clearly marked.
2.  Legend listing distances between checkpoints.
3.  Name pins/tags to mark students’ reading progress on the trail.
4.  Sleds or dogs (felt or construction paper) to mark progress of mushers.
5.  Iditarod Reading Log for each student.

1.  Encourage recreational reading.
2. Develop an interest in history and geography of Alaska.
3.  Encourage completion of a project.

ICE ISLAND (Random House, 2012) was inspired when Sherry visited St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, after the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It was mid-March and bone-numbing cold. Sherry was startled by the sight of polar bear hides drying on racks, and amused by children playing with chunks of ice like blocks. She thought, One of these days I’ll use these in an adventure story.

FROZEN STIFF (Random House) was inspired by a summer press trip to Alaska, where she spent a week kayaking to the largest tidewater glacier in North America.
FROZEN STIFF has been used in the classroom as a companion for Call of the Wild and Julie books and has been on several state reading lists, including Battle of the Books nationwide.

As part of her research for photo-illustrated DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW: The Story of the Jr. Iditarod (Mondo), Sherry rode inside a dog sled for the first part of the 1,049 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Sherry is the woman sitting is the sled!

Sherry is thrilled to be the first ever recipient of the SCBWI Book Launch Award for ICE ISLAND.

From the WorldWide IDEA:Read a Route Website:

Author Offers Signed Book to Kick Off Idita-Read 2012 Registration Opening

Earlier this week, author Sherry Shahan wrote me with an amazing offer to WorldWide IDEA's Idita-Read 2012 Team Managers: a complimentary signed copy of her new book, ICE ISLAND (Random House, January 2012) to the first 10 who contact her.

Several teachers have already registered for our 2012 event and the book offer has been passed along to them, but there are still complimentary copies available. I expect them to go fast, so don't wait to register for the event for the chance to get this free, cool book for your students to read during the event and beyond!

ICE ISLAND is an Alaskan-based adventure for readers aged 9-13. It is the story of two kids who get lost in a freak snowstorm during a training run with their sled dogs. The pair must rely on each other — as well as their faithful dogs — to survive subzero temperatures and bone-numbing exhaustion.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Robin Mellom (L) & Sherry Shahan (R) toasting to their book deals!

CONGRATS, ROBIN MELLOM & SHERRY SHAHAN, who happen to live within a few minutes of each other.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Last summer at the big SCBWI Conference I recorded two short video interviews, and one of them just went I'll put them both together on this post so you can hear me, well, advise:)

Lee Wind asked my by best advice for authors going into manuscript critiques. Here is the link:

And Tina Nichols Coury asked me for a revision tip. Here is the link:

Hope they help.

Hey, and while we are enjoying videos, check out the trailer for FANGBONE by Michael Rex.This series is going to be huge! So fun. Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012



Author: Mellom, Robin
Every girl dreams about her prom night. If Justina’s perfect prom night plan was to lose her date, ruin her dress, ride around with pot smokers, and eventually wind up in a ditch, then her dreams came true. As she recounts the comically pathetic evening by pointing out the stains on her thrift store dress, Justina realizes that maybe her best friend/date, Ian, didn’t have the best time either. Will she able to salvage their friendship and even move a step forward, or did the prom take that, too? Author Mellom’s debut is a laugh-out-loud tale of a prom nightmare. She understands what makes teens giggle and what makes them cringe as she glances over some mature issues including sex, drugs, and alcohol, but Justina and Ian maintain a sweet, innocent relationship. Give this one to those non-Cinderella types who have a knack for getting into trouble. — Bethany Fort

Zany comedy dominates this romp through the prom night from Hell.
When Justina literally finds herself lying in a ditch beside the road at the end of prom night, she hobbles to a nearby convenience store to get help. There she tells her sad tale to the clerk and a sympathetic customer. Justina and prom date Ian have remained just friends, and each seems a safe prom date for the other. Justina yields to her mom’s wishes and wears a thrift-shop dress with everything dyed blue to match. Mellom tells Justina’s story using various stains on the dress as a framework for introducing increasingly crazy episodes. The emphasis stays on comedy as Justina’s tale of the night progresses, such as how she missed the chicken Marsala dinner and eventually including an incident involving a three-legged Chihuahua. Throughout, Justina receives cynical advice about men from her convenience-store audience, but a thread of real romance lurks just below the surface. Has Ian really ditched Justina, or is he caught in a similar comedy of errors? In any comedy readers can trust that everything will come out all right in the end, and that it will be a fun ride getting there. The author displays a well-developed touch for the absurd.
For readers with a funny bone that needs a tingle, this should hit the spot. (Comic romance. 12 & up)

Monday, January 2, 2012

What Agents/Editors/Readers look for in a book--IMMERSE me in your story

art © Jago 2002


Last night I plunged
into the deep
rich white space

between what is written and
what I envision

between where ink stops and
imagination begins.

Last night I stayed
up into the
a book.
Immersed © Jill Corcoran 2009


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