A Suggested Response to Amazon’s Acquisition of GoodReads

I’m not shy about my stance on independent bookstores. I love them.  I owe my career as an author to them. And I support them every chance I get. One of my local indies, The Bookstore Plus in Lake Placid, carefully organizes book orders for all of my Skype author visits so that kids all over the country can order signed books after I Skype with their classes.

So today’s news that Amazon has acquired GoodReads is a concern for me. People who use GoodReads are book lovers who like to keep track of their reading and share great books with one another. And soon, they’ll be supporting Amazon whether they chose to or not.

I understand that lots of people like buying books online, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you like bookstores — real brick-and-mortar bookstores that smell like paper, with smiling people who know your kids — then you need to support them, or they won’t be here for long.

So here’s my suggestion for friends on GoodReads who want to support independent bookstores.  Write your reviews. Log your reading and recommend your books. And end each review with a link to IndieBound.  I’m going to go through my GoodReads reviews to do this as I have time to edit. I started with my friend Linda Urban’s new book, THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING. My review ends like this now:

You’ll want to read this one aloud because the language sings. You’ll want to read it for the voice, for the humor, and for the interconnected stories that fit like a perfect puzzle.  You’ll want to read it for that made-of-awesome small-town New Hampshire parade. And you’ll want to read it for Ruby. Mostly for Ruby. She’s a girl you know, so your heart will ache for her and celebrate with her, and when you turn the last page, you just might understand where to find the center of everything, too.

I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780547763484

If you love indie bookstores as much as I do, and you’re reviewing any of my books on GoodReads, I’d love it if you used these links at the end:


I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order CAPTURE THE FLAG on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780545419741


I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order HIDE AND SEEK on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780545419758


I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order MARTY MCGUIRE on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780545142465


I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order MARTY MCGUIRE DIGS WORMS on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780545142472


I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order  OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780811867849/kate-messner/over-and-under-snow


I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order SEA MONSTER’S FIRST DAY on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780811875646


I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order EYE OF THE STORM on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780802723130


I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order SUGAR AND ICE on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780802723307


I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you or order THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. on IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780802721730


Wake Up Missing (coming Sept. ’13)

The doorbell rang yesterday while I was Skyping with readers in Dublin, Ohio…and when the session ended, I found a package in the door. Inside?  The first advance reader copies for WAKE UP MISSING, my Fall ’13 science thriller with Walker/Bloomsbury. I’ll be signing ARCs at IRA in San Antonio next month, and I am SO excited about this book!  Here’s the cover…

Here’s what it’s about…

Meet Quentin, a middle school football star from Chicago…
Sarah, an Upstate New York girls’ hockey team stand-out…
Ben, a horse lover from the Pacific Northwest…
And Cat, an artistic bird watcher from California.

The four have nothing in common except for the head injuries that land them in an elite brain-science center in the Florida Everglades. I-CAN is known as the best in the world. But it’s state-of-the-art in its technology and its secrets. As days pass, the kids begin to suspect that they are subjects in an experiment that goes far beyond treating concussions….and threatens their very identities. They’ll have to overcome their injuries – and their differences – to escape through the swamp, or risk losing themselves forever.

And here’s what some amazing early readers had to say…

In WAKE UP MISSING, Kate Messner combines a fascinating concept with page-turning suspense. Cat Grayson just wants to get rid of her constant headaches — but what if the cure makes her a totally different person? Reading this book is like a wild roller-coaster ride through the Florida swamps.       

~Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of THE MISSING and the Shadow Children series.

Wowza! WAKE UP MISSING is a winner. I read it in a single sitting. As the secrets were revealed and the suspense mounted, I found myself turning pages at an ever increasing pace. I had to find out what happened next! 


WAKE UP MISSING scared the pants off me. Loved it! Mystery, intrigue, danger, and creepy futuristic science set in today’s world? Yes, please!

~Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of WAKE and THE UNWANTEDS

WAKE UP MISSING is a compelling mystery full of paranoia and suspenseful twists and turns, with villains as menacing as Everglades alligators lurking beneath the surface of the water, and heroes confronting danger with bravery and heart.

~Matthew J. Kirby, author of THE CLOCKWORK THREE and ICEFALL

From mad scientists to one-eyed alligators, the adventures in WAKE UP MISSING had me on the edge of my seat — I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!

~Carrie Ryan, author of the New York Times bestseller INFINITY RING BOOK 2: DIVIDE AND CONQUER

WAKE UP MISSING uniquely blends the fast-paced kid adventures of Carl Hiassen, an attuned awareness of nature’s awe, and a lovely largesse of heart and humanity… As usual, Kate provides us with a group of smart, self-reliant kids you can’t help but cheer for.

~Jane Knight, Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, VT

Kids’ Mysteries & the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist

Twenty three years to the day after criminals posing as police officers broke into Boston’s Isabelle Stewart Gardner museum, the FBI made an amazing announcement today. Agents know the identity of the thieves who pulled off one of the most famous art heists in history; they just don’t know where the art is yet or how to get it back.

This was jaw-dropping news for me. The history & art geek in me would have been fascinated anyway; add to that the fact that this heist is a plot thread in my Silver Jaguar Society mysteries, and I was practically bouncing off the ceiling over this news. If you’ve read the first mystery in that series, CAPTURE THE FLAG, you know that it’s about three kids — Anna, Henry, and Jose — whose families are part of the Silver Jaguar Society, a secret society to protect the world’s artifacts. The Society’s arch enemies are members of an international art theift gang known as the Serpentine Princes. That group’s criminal masterminds are suspected in just about every unsolved art heist in history — including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist — a plot thread that explored a little bit in the second book, HIDE AND SEEK, which comes out next week and a lot more in the third book, MANHUNT, which hits shelves in 2014.

Writer-friend Erin Dionne also has an upcoming mystery with ties to the heist — MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING comes out in July — so we spent much of this afternoon tweeting back and forth in our geeky state of excitement after the news broke.  And because 140-characters just aren’t enough sometimes, we decided to have a longer conversation about the heist, our books, and our thoughts on the whole hullabaloo. Here’s my interview with Erin…

So Erin… You are the only other person I know who got as excited as I did about today’s headline in the Boston Globe:

FBI says it has identified the thieves in Gardner Museum heist; paintings’ location still unknown


Since we’re both art lovers and mystery writers, I thought it might be fun to extend our Twitter conversation a bit and talk about our upcoming kids’ mysteries with ties to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Heist. MOXIE AND THE ART OF RULE BREAKING comes out this summer, right?  What’s the connection?

Thanks so much for hosting me, Kate! MOXIE releases on July 11, and it’s basically a treasure hunt centered around the Gardner heist. Moxie has two weeks to find the most valuable stolen art in the world–a task that’s baffled the FBI for decades. But Moxie has some tools that the FBI doesn’t have. You’ll have to wait til July to find out what they are.

I’d love to hear about what drew you to this heist and what kind of research you did, too!

The art was stolen a few years before I moved to Boston to go to college, so I’ve never seen the missing paintings. From the first time I stepped into the Gardner, I was absolutely fascinated by it–the heist and the museum itself. The museum is beautiful and quirky and so very Isabella (it used to be her house! She even designed it!) The empty frames on the wall simultaneously made me feel sad, guilty, and angry. How dare those thieves ruin something so beautiful!

Isabella Stewart Gardner was a woman with a bold, brilliant personality who was ahead of her time. I wanted to learn about her, and about what happened to her precious museum. So when I decided to write this story, I researched by reading about the heist (Ulrich Boser’s THE GARDNER HEIST), I watched the documentary “Stolen,” and became a member of the Gardner Museum. I took tours and visited. trying to map out what happened. Like a lot of other people who have learned about the case, I got a little nutty over it. I came up with my own theories as to what happened to the art (I’m not convinced it’s still in the US, actually), and I dream of one day finding it.

    I have to find my car keys first, though.

(You and me both, Erin. Also my phone…and my other blue sock…and…)  Anyway…did the development today require you to do any revision? Just the author’s note, maybe? 🙂

At this point, I’m not making any changes to the book. The author’s note details the theft and info about how to contact the FBI. As of today, they haven’t really released information that’s specific to who had the paintings (and they admit they lost track of them a decade ago); so my author note is still okay. WHEW.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing those empty frames at the Gardner Museum. It’s such a chilling image – and such a reminder of what was lost.  I’m guessing they’re mentioned in your book (they are in my 3rd installment of the Silver Jaguar Society mysteries) and I thought it might be neat for us to share those quick excerpts.  Sound like fun?

Yes! There are a few references to the frames in my novel. Here’s one:

The Dutch Room is big and rectangular, and everything in it oozes richness—not rich like money-rich, but rich like thick and beautiful richness. Two of the empty frames were across from where we walked in: big, golden squares that showed only wallpaper and tiny shreds of canvas from where the paintings were cut out. Ollie and I gasped as we stood in front of them.

Tiny plaques with the names of the paintings—Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee and A Lady and Gentleman in Black, still hung on the wall, lonely.

    “Creepy, isn’t it?” The security guard had come up behind us.

            -Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking (Dial, 2013) pg. 65

Creepy indeed — and haunting, too. Thanks for this conversation, Erin – can’t wait to read all about Moxie’s adventures in Boston!

I love that our books share this fascinating topic! Thanks, Kate!


To learn more about Moxie and Erin’s other great books, check out her website.

I’m visiting Erin’s blog today, too – so head on over there if you’d like to read more about the Silver Jaguar Society connection to the Gardner Museum — and read a very, VERY early sneak preview of the third book in the series, MANHUNT.

Join me at the War of 1812 Museum this weekend!

I’ve had a busy year of travel, so it’s with a big smile that I’m sharing the news about my speaking event for this weekend…right here at home!

If you live near Plattsburgh, I hope you’ll join me for “An Afternoon of History & Mystery” from 1-3pm this Saturday, March 16th, at the Battle of Plattsburgh Association’s War of 1812 Museum at 31 Washington Road on the former Plattsburgh Air Force Base.

I’ll be sharing some fun behind-the-scenes stories about my children’s mystery novel, CAPTURE THE FLAG and helping young writers do a little mystery brainstorming of their own. Here’s what CAPTURE THE FLAG is all about…

Anna, José, and Henry are complete strangers with more in common than they realize. Snowed in together at a chaotic Washington DC airport, they encounter a mysterious tattooed man, a flamboyant politician, and a rambunctious poodle named for an ancient king. Even stranger…news stations everywhere have announced that the famous flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner” has been stolen! Anna, certain that the culprits must be snowed in, too, recruits Henry and José to help catch the thieves and bring them to justice.

But when accusations start flying, the kids soon realize there’s more than a national treasure at stake. And with unexpected enemies lurking at every corner, do Anna, José, and Henry have what it takes to solve the heist?

And if you’d like, you can read the first two chapters of CAPTURE THE FLAG here. This was an amazingly fun book to research and write, and its sequels, HIDE AND SEEK (coming out this spring!) and MANHUNT (coming in 2014) have been a gift to work on, too.

This Saturday’s talk is open to all ages but is especially suited to families and anyone who loves history and mysteries.  I’ll also be talking about my Adirondack picture books and figure skating novel, SUGAR AND ICE. After the event, I’ll be signing books and hanging around to visit and answer any questions.  And…I’ve decided to bring one of my early author copies of HIDE AND SEEK to give away in a drawing.

Hope to see some of you this weekend!

Snow Day Blues: An Open Letter to the Students of Olde Sawmill Elementary

Dear Olde Sawmill Elementary students,

Last month, I flew to Ohio for the Dublin Literacy Conference, and I was supposed to spend the Friday before that event at your school. You had a special welcome sign  for me and everything…

But it turns out…I was pretty much the only person at school that day, since you ended up having a snow day! (Or should we call it an ice day? At any rate, there was no school because the roads were all yucky.)  Your librarian was there, and she invited me in to sign books and see all the artwork you’d done after reading my books. That was fun, and I thought you might like to see some pictures of my day, since you weren’t there…

I signed all the books you left for me.

Then I spent some time checking out your art projects. Boy, are you guys ever talented! Your hallways and library were like an art museum!

I was sad that you weren’t there, but I found one of your teachers who’d come in to get work done during the snow day. I convinced him to take a break and visit the library for story time.

When school is empty, you can get away with some things that you might not try with everybody there.  I might have run in the halls once or twice.

I took advantage of your empty gym to get a little exercise.

The lunch room wasn’t much fun without all of you, though.

The GREAT news is that Mrs. Angel and I have figured out a way to have our author visit day now that your ice storm is over, even though I’m back in New York. On March 21st, I’ll be having a private Skype author visit session with every single grade level.  I’ll show you all the cool stuff I was going to show you when I visited your school — and one of the neat things about a Skype visit is that you’ll get to see where I live, too! (I like to pick up my laptop computer and give little tours – show you what’s outside my window, things like that!)

Even though your school is lovely and fun any day of the week, it’s all of you that I’m really excited to meet, so I’m looking forward to connecting with you (finally!) on March 21st.