Three kinds of writer’s block (and how to cure them!)

During my recent visit to Highgate Elementary School, a student asked one of those questions that can only come from a fellow writer:

Do you ever get writer’s block?  There was something about the way she said "writer’s block" that made it sound like something you could catch if you got to close to a sniffly author or brainstormed out in the rain, and I kind of liked that… but anyway…

The short answer to her question is: Yes.  

I suspected she also wanted to know what to DO about writer’s block, though, and that answer is: It depends.  

For me at least, there are different kinds of writer’s block, and they require different responses.

Disease:  Wrong-Story Writer’s Block

There are at least five picture book beginnings and four Chapter Ones of longer works living in limbo on my hard drive right now.  Most often, I’m a plunge-right-in sort of writer, so when I have an idea that’s been brewing for a while, I dive right into writing, and by the end of a chapter or two, I can usually tell if I have something…or not. 

I’ve come to recognize a kind of writer’s block that shows up when the story I’m working on isn’t True.  And I don’t mean true, as in accurate or nonfiction-ish.  I mean True with a capital T … true to its own heart and true to the writer I want to be. Sometimes I have ideas that turn out to be the wrong books for me to write.  Or ideas that just aren’t good enough or substantial enough to warrant a whole book.  This happens, and it’s okay.

Cure: Put the story away.  Start a new one.  But keep it, just in case it’s not really the wrong story, but the right story at the wrong time for you.

Disease:  Right-Story-Wrong-Turn Writer’s Block

In this situation, I know I’m working on the right project — the project that’s absolutely calling me to be written — but somehow, I feel like I’ve lost my way.  Sometimes, this kind of Writer’s Block shows up when I need to stop and get to know my characters better. Sometimes, it means that I’ve done something that’s just plain wrong…imposed a plot twist or decision on the book and its characters that doesn’t fit.  And sometimes, it means that I’ve been writing without a map for too long and need to step back and do a bit of planning.  Either way, I think this kind of block can be useful and keep you from barreling forward and forcing something that won’t work.

Cure:  Stop for now.  (For now are the key words here.  Not forever. And hopefully, not even for very long.)  Usually, if I step back from what I’m writing and spend some time outside, I get enough perspective to understand why I’m headed down a wrong path.  If it’s a character issue, I’ll leave the formal manuscript to do some journal writing as my character or map out character charts.  If it’s a wrong turn, I’ll backtrack and re-read a part of the manuscript that felt right to identify where I went astray.  And if it’s an issue of too much writing-without-a-map, I’ll stop and outline.  This was a turning point for me with the mystery I finished recently, a project that required more formal planning than I’d ever done with a previous book.  If you’d like to see the nitty gritty details of all that, you can read about it here, in a post I wrote for a teacher-friend and her student, Tyler, called "Real Authors Don’t Plan…Or Do They?"

Disease:  I’d-rather-eat-chocolate-and-watch-Glee Writer’s Block
(And you can substitute pizza and play video games or whatever you’d like here…you know exactly what I mean.)

Cure #1: Eat chocolate and watch Glee.

Really.  Go ahead.  And then you will be able to decide if you’d really rather eat chocolate and watch Glee than write.  But if you’ve read this far, I suspect that what you really want is to write, in which case Cure #1 will cause you to start twitching on the sofa and feeling unsettled, and then should go with Cure #2.

Cure #2: Bring some Hershey’s kisses to your computer, quiet down, and get to work.  This is the equivalent of a literary sugar pill, because this isn’t real writer’s block; it’s the trouble-getting-moving that we all face when we sit down to write.  Or exercise, for that matter, but that’s a post for another day.

This disease also has a Cure #3 – for people like students who have to write something they didn’t want to write in the first place.  Negotiate with yourself.  Make a little contract if you have to.  Two paragraphs = 10 minutes of playing Wii or reading Harry Potter or whatever you’d rather be doing.  That works, too.

Sarah Dessen and Meg Cabot also blogged about Writer’s Block recently – here and here.

What about you?  Do you have other cures we should know about?

Books I’ve Loved Lately

I’ve been deep in the depths of revision for the past few weeks — polishing up a picture book and a middle grade mystery.  They are both done (*pause for cheering & confetti here*) and on submission now, and I have big plans for a post-revision reading binge. But before I do that, I want to talk about a handful of books I’ve read lately that you might like, too.  Ready?

Amy Ignatow’s THE POPULARITY PAPERS: RESEARCH FOR THE SOCIAL IMPROVEMENT AND GENERAL BETTERMENT OF LYDIA GOLDBLATT AND JULIE GRAHAM CHANG is the book to hand to your girls who are fans of the Wimpy Kid series.  It’s that same diary/graphic novel blend that keeps even reluctant readers turning pages and laughing like crazy.  Interestingly enough, the main characters in this are in fifth grade, but it’s going over really well with some of my 7th grade girls, even though they’re a bit older.  (Due out from Amulet April 1st)

I can’t keep Lisa Schroeder’s CHASING BROOKLYN on my classroom library shelf – it’s one of those books that gets handed from kid to kid in the cafeteria and never makes it all the way back to my classroom, and that’s just fine.  I understand why the kids love it, too.  Set at the same high school as Lisa’s I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, her latest YA novel-in-verse is about love and loss, remembering and moving forward. It left me in tears, but they were good ones – the kind you cry when you’ve just read an amazing book that’s full of sorrow and beauty and hope all at once. It’s a a beautiful, beautiful book. (Available now from Simon & Schuster)

Fans of Jerry Spinelli’s MILKWEED and Lois Lowry’s NUMBER THE STARS will love ONCE by Morris Gleitzman.  One of my 7th grade students absolutely devours historical fiction set during the Holocaust, and she was waiting for this ARC, standing at my desk, tapping her foot as I turned the last page.

The main character, Felix, begins the story as a unique (and heartbreaking) unreliable narrator. He’s a Jewish boy, hidden in a Catholic orphanage, and utterly unaware of the danger he’s facing. When he sets out to find his parents, he sees evidence of the Nazis destruction but misinterprets much of it, placing himself squarely in harm’s way. Ultimately, though, he’s faced with too much reality to go on believing the stories he’s told himself, and from there, the book chronicles his loss of innocence and his coming of age in the worst of times. It’s beautifully written and though like many books set during the Holocaust, it’s tough to read at times, it’s certainly not without hope.  Highly recommended, it comes out from Henry Holt March 30th.

The premise is simple and kind of horrifying: A 7th grader climbs up into a tree and says he’s not coming down because there’s really no meaning in life anyway. His classmates, u…more So let’s talk about NOTHING by Janne Teller now.  I couldn’t decide at first if I should include this in a post about "books I love" because it’s hard for me to say that I loved this story.  I was mostly horrified by it.  But is it brilliantly well-written? And smart? And thought-provoking? Yes, yes, and yes. Plus, there’s the fact that I finished it a few weeks ago, and here I am still thinking about it, so that means something, too.

The premise is simple and troubling: A 7th grader climbs up into a tree and says he’s not coming down because there’s really no meaning in life anyway. His classmates, unsettled by his proclamation and desperate to make him come down out of that tree, begin to assemble a collection of "meaning," a heap of items… sacrifices, really…that they hope will convince the kid once and for all that there is meaning. The sacrifices start with simple, treasured kid-things and escalate in nature to the truly chilling.

This could make a very, very good literature circles choice for older middle school or high school kids. There’s sure plenty to talk about, and it’s like nothing I’ve ever read, except maybe Lord of the Flies. If you read it, I’d really love to hear what you think. (out now from Atheneum)

And finally, on a far more cheerful note…

This picture book from the author of the DAY-GLO BROTHERS is one of the funniest I’ve read in a long time. The premise is simple – two boys pull toys from a toy box and start a battle with them. One has a shark, the other a train, and the result is a hilarious series of competitions in which Shark and Train face off in everything from high-diving to trick-or-treating. Laugh-out-loud text with fun, lively illustrations and a lot of little details in the art that add another layer of humor for moms and dads reading aloud. Loved it!  (Coming from Little, Brown in April.)

Now I’m reading this…

An ARC of Holly Black’s WHITE CAT (coming from Margaret K. McElderry May 4th), and let me tell you… that Holly Black knows how to get a reader’s attention from page one –   Loving it so far!

What have you read & loved lately?  Anything I need to add to my post-revision reading binge pile?

Two States, Three Schools, & 350 Fantastic Readers!

Have I mentioned that talking with kids about books and writing is one of the absolute best things about being an author?   Today was one of those amazing school visit days, starting first thing in the morning here…

Students from Rouses Point joined the kids at Mooers Elementary School for my presentation "Firing Cannons and Kissing Frogs: The Truth About Author Research."  I love giving this presentation because the research process is one of my favorite things about writing, whether I’m holed up in a library searching through old journals and letters, rowing a gunboat replica, sampling chocolate cake at an Italian market, putting on a bee suit to learn what it’s like to tend honeybees, or (yes, it’s true) kissing a frog.  The kids had great questions, including one about writer’s block, which I’m going to discuss in a future blog post.

Then it was on to Highgate, Vermont, where the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders were waiting.  (They were at recess when I arrived to get set up, and there sure were a lot of jackets flung over the playground fence.  No need for them today!)   This group had asked for the research presentation as well, and again, the kids had amazing questions about the writing process. The 4th and 5th graders just started working on their own research project called Lake Champlain from A to Z.  One teacher kept his class after the talk to ask about planning and outlining, so I pulled up my current project, a funny new chapter book I’ve been working on in Scrivener, and showed them how I plan with virtual index cards that remind me what scene comes next.

After the presentation and book signing, school library media specialist Helen Bicknell asked me if I’d like to sign the library door.  This is a tradition she started with visiting authors, and I was just delighted to be a part of it. 

Here I am, defacing school property with my orange Sharpie.

And look!  I am in very good company on the library door. *waves to Linda Urban*

Thanks, Highgate, Mooers, and Rouses Point kids (and teachers, too!) for a terrific day in your schools!

Thankful Thursday

It has been one of those finish-school-get-the-van-inspected-rush-home-dinner-going-back-out-soon kind of days.  But sometimes, those are the best days to just take a moment…  I’m grateful today because:

~ I found out that I’ll be speaking at this November’s ALAN Conference as part of a panel on helping teens and tweens find their voices through writing, along with Jo Knowles, David Gill, and Chris Crowe. I’ve never been to ALAN and can’t wait.

~ I have two new projects out on submission — a picture book and my middle grade mystery.  I love them both so much, for different reasons, and I hope they do okay out there in the big world…

~ I am working on a new boy-friendly chapter book that is goofy and fun and makes me laugh.

~ Our local skating club is performing "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" next weekend, so I’ve had lots of writing time in the bleachers at my daughter’s rehearsals. And I’m thankful for the talented young skaters I get to watch when I take a break from revising.  Want to learn a thing or two about perseverance and determination?  About falling down and getting up and trying again? Go watch some figure skaters for a while… They are an inspiration.

~ It was bike-riding weather this week, and even after a relatively quiet winter like we had, that’s always reason to celebrate. Wherever you are, I  hope you get a chance to get outside this weekend and enjoy the sunshine, too!

Get this book for your mom. Or your daughter. Or yourself…

So I think this has to be one of my favorite books ever. 


Full disclosure – I know Jeannine and heard her read a poem from this book at a writers retreat last summer. It was lovely and poignant, but when she described the book as a collection of poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and their daughters, I wondered a bit how that could all fit together.

Then I was lucky enough to pick up an advance copy of BORROWED NAMES at ALA Midwinter, and I understood.

It does fit. As beautifully as anything I’ve ever read.

The poetry in this book is magnificent by itself, but it’s the characterization of the women — mothers and daughters both — that makes it stand out even more. The verse shines with the creative spirit of all of these amazing women, and I really can’t imagine capturing the whole give-and-take, come-together-and-go-away moments of mothers and daughters any better.

I’m sitting here at my computer frowning because I can’t really make my words do justice to this special book.  But trust me. It’s being released from Henry Holt this week.  Just go get it.

(Unless you are my mom, in which case…don’t go get it. I sent you one because I couldn’t wait for Mother’s Day. It will probably be there on Thursday or Friday. You’re going to love this as much as I did.)

Skype Author Visits – and a Skype-Author Music Video!

It’s been a busy few weeks for Skype author visits, which means my lunch hours have been spent at my desk in my classroom, but far from alone!

Last week, I got to meet these great kids from Holden Christian Academy in Holden, MA, and they had great questions about THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. and writing.

Their teacher, the book-loving Mrs. Stotz, blogged about our visit here.

The next day, I ate my soup with kids from Moriah, NY and answered questions about one of my Lake Champlain historical novels, SPITFIRE. They had a surprise to share with me over our video connection – pictures they’d drawn, inspired by the book!

Their librarian, Mrs. Rich organized the visit, and their fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Ploufe, even made it into a music video to share!

Isn’t that just the coolest thing?  How did Mrs. Ploufe know that I’ve secretly always wanted to be in a music video?

This week, I’ll be Skyping with a class and after-school book club in Brockport, NY tomorrow – and then visiting kids in Mooers, NY and Highgate, VT i person on Friday. Can’t wait!

Happy Pi Day! A dedication and a challenge…

It’s March 14th ~  and if you’re a mathy person, you’re probably already baking various number-shaped treats to celebrate Pi Day! 

For those who aren’t so mathy…all the fuss is about the date, 3-14, and the fact that this date makes up the first three digits of pi, the mathematical relationship between the diameter and circumference of a circle. It goes on after the 3.14, of course…

3.1415926535… and…well…it goes on.  You can click here to see the first million digits. Or visit for more pi-related awesomeness.

I’m dedicating today’s Pi Day post to the following people, some real and one made-up:

Real people first… My son and his school team competed in the State MathCOUNTS competition for New York yesterday and did a fantastic job, both concentrating and having fun in what was a pretty high-pressure environment.  Go, SMS Team!

Now the made-up person…  Claire, the main character in my December figure skating novel, SUGAR AND ICE, isn’t just a skater; she’s also a talented math student who has to juggle her intense new skating schedule with a big "Math out of Bounds" research project on Fibonacci.  (Do you know about the Fibonacci sequence? Personally, I think there ought to be a Fibonacci Day, too, but that’s a subject for another post.)

I’ve been reviewing page proofs for SUGAR AND ICE this weekend and had to stop and smile at the part where a friend teases Claire about her passion for math club, calling her Pi-Face. 

Claire would love this NPR Pi Day feature I found this morning.  It explains a new kind of poetry…pi-ku.  It’s like Haiku, only the syllables correspond to the digits in pi. Like so…

Line 1 = 3 syllables
Line 2 = 1 syllable
Line 3 = 4 syllables

My attempts…

Perfect Sunday.


Makes me crave pie.

So who’s feeling both mathy and poetic enough this morning to give it a try in the comments section?  Come on…I double-pi dare you!

The Problem with Great Expectations: Should kids be pushed to read more difficult books?

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A parent of one of our middle school students approached me at my daughter’s ballet class a while back.

“I was hoping I might be able to talk to you about my son,” he said, shaking his head and wringing his hands in a way that led me to believe the young man must be a drug addict or serial shoplifter.  “He’s constantly reading graphic novels.  What should I do?” 

The idea that parents ought to “do something” when kids aren’t reading the books that fit our notion of what they “should” be reading is a common one.  Because smart kids read the classics, right? 

I had two answers for the parent from ballet class.

Answer #1:  “Buy him more graphic novels.  Or use inter-library loan to request some new ones.”
Kids who love to read deserve the right to make their own reading selections.  And there’s lots of research to support the idea that reading binges (devouring one graphic novel or fantasy after another) actually support passionate, lifelong reading habits.  I think it’s helpful to consider our own habits as adults who read passionately. When we find an author or a genre we love, we often stick with it for a good while until something else captures our hearts.  Why should kids be any different?

Answer #2:  “If you’d like to see him branching out, look for some more sophisticated graphic novels that might serve as ‘gateway books.’” 
I offered up Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese and Nick Abadzis’ Laika as choices that might lead into other genres and suggested some other high-interest, fast-moving titles that my 7th graders were enjoying, like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.

Sometimes, I think well-meaning parents are too quick to categorize books as literary junk food with no value, swooping in to snatch away the graphic novels and vampire romances and replace them with Dickens and Melville.   And really?  It doesn’t work.

As a middle school English teacher, I’m a big believer in offering kids bridges – books that might take them from what they’re reading and loving right now to something a little more complex or challenging, something that might send them off on another journey. 

But there’s a big difference between offering a child a bridge and pushing him or her over a cliff.  If you take a passionate 7th grade reader who’s eating up Sarah Dessen’s YA novels and demand that she read Wuthering Heights instead, you’re likely to end up with a withering reader instead of a more advanced one.  That same student may come to love Emily Bronte in her own time and on her own terms, but when we force the issue, we often lose readers.

For me, gentle nudges feel like a much better approach.  Instead of snatching away Twilight, let your reader finish the series, and then try offering up some titles that are similar in terms of the supernatural romance, but with a bit more depth.  Books like Need and Captivate by Carrie Jones and Lips Touch, Three Times by Laini Taylor fit that bill beautifully.

YA Literature Goddess Teri Lesesne has a new book called Reading Ladders: Leading Students from Where They Are to Where We’d Like Them to Be.  I haven’t read it yet, but I’m so looking forward to it, and based on what I’ve seen of Teri’s blog and conference presentations, this is a title you won’t want to miss. 

 And the key word in all of this?  Leading.  Not shoving or force-feeding.  Leading.  If we respect kids as readers, they come to trust that they can count on us to offer them the right books at the right time. In my experience, that’s the best way to nurture kids to become passionate, lifelong readers.

Those adorable Share a Story-Shape a Future bears on the logo are the work of illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba. For a full roundup of today’s Share a Story-Shape a Future posts, visit Jen Robinson’s Book Page.

A quick post-script for Chicago area teachers/librarians… I’ll be in your neck of the woods to give an author talk at the International Reading Association Conference in April, and due to a change in my schedule, I have time to offer a free school visit on the morning of April 27th if anyone is interested. If you’re in the Chicago area and might like to schedule an assembly/writing workshop for that day, just comment or drop me an email (kmessner at katemessner dot com)

And I’d love it if we could keep this "Great Expectations" conversation going in comments…  For example, middle school ELA teacher Cindy Faughnan ( )  discusses the social aspect of reading in this great blog entry today.

What are your favorite strategies for helping kids find the perfect next book to read?

Brave New Books: New Dystopian YA Novels to Pair with Old Favorites

I may write upbeat books for middle grade readers, but I have a dark secret…  I’m a sucker for a great dystopian novel.  Bring on the floods, the repressive governments, the book burning, the horrifying reality TV, and you’ll have me up reading long past bedtime.  I’ve been delighted by the fantastic array of new dystopian novels that have hit bookstore shelves lately and jumped at the chance to talk about some in today’s Share a Story-Shape a Future blog event, hosted by teacher-author Donalyn Miller at The Book Whisperer. 

In addition to writing, I teach middle school English, and I include a unit on dystopian literature that includes some favorite short stories like Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains” and Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.”  Lately,  I’ve also been having my students read dystopian novels in literature circles and drawing comparisons between those and the classic short stories.  Here are a few of my recent favorites for middle school and up.

 THE HUNGER GAMES, CATCHING FIRE, and (in August 2010) MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins

Okay, so you already know about these, but I couldn’t leave them out because they’re my go-to books for 7th grade readers who want something fast-paced and compelling. Book club and discussion topics include reality TV, violence in American culture, and love vs. survival. Alongside this trilogy, an ambitious literature circles group might also want to read and discuss…

 GIRL IN THE ARENA by Lise Haines

Set in an alternative reality in Boston, this novel is about a society in which gladiator-style arena fighting has become a national form of entertainment.  The main character has been the daughter of seven gladiators, and when her last stepfather dies in the arena, she’s faced with a harrowing choice. This one will prompt great discussions about women and violence in society.  It’s excellent.


This post-apocalyptic trilogy explores what happens after an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it out of orbit enough to cause widespread problems with the tides, weather, shortages, and illness. For an interesting discussion, pair these with Stephen Vincent Benet’s “By the Waters of Babylon.”  High school readers might also read this trilogy alongside Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD.

CANDOR by Pam Bachorz

Inspired by the model town of Celebration, Florida, this is a novel about a community where everything is perfect, including the teenagers.  Subliminal messages make sure of that.  And what happens to those who wish to maintain their spirit of individuality?  The answer will make you shudder, right through the last page.  Pair this with W.H. Auden’s poem “The Unknown Citizen” for a lively discussion about personal identity and the needs of the invidual vs. the needs of society.

THE COMPOUND by S.A. Bodeen 

In this novel, a father who is well-prepared for the unthinkable hurries his family into an underground bunker to protect them from nuclear war. But when problems arise with the compound in which they’ve lived for six years, Eli begins to question his father’s motives…and his sanity.  Fast-paced and gut-wrenching, this is another good one for reluctant readers.  Bodeen follows it up with THE GARDENER, another dystopian YA title to be released in May 2010.

GENESIS by Bernard Beckett


This slender dystopian novel was published as an adult book in the United States, but I’m so hoping it finds its way to older YA audiences. These 150 pages pack a heavy punch when it comes to considering the deeper questions of balancing the needs of society vs. the individual and what it means to be human. This would be a GREAT literature circles or book club choice for 8th grade and older.

THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner


A teenaged boy wakes up in a place he’s never been.  There are other boys, all of whom arrived in the same mysterious elevator.  There is a maze that opens each morning, runners who go out in search of an escape, and hideous creatures that threaten when the sun goes down. This one is delightfully creepy and fast-paced enough for reluctant readers. 

CRUNCH by Leslie Connor


Here’s the younger, more cheerful cousin to all these titles portraying dark futures.  This middle grade novel by Leslie Connor (WAITING FOR NORMAL) is set during a not-too-distant future gasoline shortage.  Five siblings are stuck on their own at home, running the family’s bike shop while their parents are stranded up north.  This one’s great for middle grade readers and gives a sense of a troubling future with plenty of hope and humor, too. Due out from Katherine Tegan books on March 30, 2010.

Are you hoarding canned goods yet?  Still reading?

From Bart’s Bookshelf, another list of dystopian YA novels
Apocalypse Now, a Publishers Weekly feature on the appeal of dystopian YA
From Publishers Weekly, another list of new and forthcoming dystopian YA titles
Need to find a quick story or movie clip to go along with a unit? Here’s the Wikipedia list of dystopian literature for ideas! 

Now…what are some of your favorite titles and pairings in this genre?  Leave a comment, and feel free to stop by later on to check back as the list grows!

P.S. Unrelated to this post, but…  If you are a Chicago-area teacher or librarian who may be interested in a free school author visit on Tuesday, April 27th, please comment or drop me an email.  I’ll be in town for IRA and have availability for one school visit that Tuesday morning!

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GIANNA Z. is going to be a Scholastic Book Clubs/Book Fairs Selection!

I got a surprise email from my editor at Walker/Bloomsbury one day last week while I was cleaning up my desk at school, getting ready to go home. 

"I’m delighted to report that Scholastic Book Clubs have licensed book fair and book club rights to GIANNA Z…." 

I had to write back to make sure that meant what I thought it did.  That THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. would be one of the titles on the big racks at Scholastic Book Fairs at schools?  That it would be paperback, in a price that’s easy for kids to buy? That it would be in those book club flyers that get sent home in kids’ homework folders and backpacks? 

Yes, yes, and yes, my editor answered.  In September!

There was a stack of Scholastic Book Fair flyers on my desk, and I couldn’t help picking one up to page through it.  There are a lot of fun milestones in this children’s book world, but this one is especially cool for me.  

I grew up in Medina, a tiny town in upstate New York.  It has a lovely independent bookstore now, but it didn’t when I was in school.  You could get Archie comics at the drugstore, or you could try to get your parents to drive to the mall in Buffalo an hour away, where there was a Waldens, or you could order books at school through Scholastic Book Clubs.  I’d bring those flyers home and circle the books I wanted with Magic Marker, over and over,  until the color bled through to the other side of that thin paper.  Those flyers were important to me, as I know they still are for kids who aren’t lucky enough to be growing up in a town with a great bookstore. I’m thrilled that my book will be one of the Magic Marker choices this fall.

I’m going to do something fun to celebrate GIANNA Z’s paperback release in bookstores (also in September) and her appearance in Scholastic Book Clubs & Fairs.  Probably a contest on the blog and something special for teachers and librarians (I’m thinking about giving away some free virtual writing workshops for classes!)  If you have other fun ideas for a paperback/book club launch, I’d love to hear about them in comments!