Ben the Dragonborn by Dianne Astle #MMGM

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A dragon book!  My favorite thing.  Dianne Astle’s Ben the Dragonborn is available for just $2.99 right now. Check it out!

What can a fourteen year old boy do to stop a war between humans and merfolk? Ben is about to find out, for the Guardian of the Six Worlds has chosen him to go through a portals to a watery world of merfolk and monsters. Everyone, including Ben, thinks a huge mistake has been made.  Ben’s afraid of water and he can’t swim.  There appears to be nothing to recommend Ben as the best choice on five worlds . But the Guardian knows something about Ben that no one else does: Ben is Dragonborn.  Ben must discover the secret of his own true self.

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About the Author

Dianne was once asked what kind of animal she would be, if she could be an animal. The person who asked the question was shocked when Dianne said she’d like to be a dragon. There are times in everyone’s life when being able to fly high and breathe fire sound very appealing. However, if you can’t be a dragon, or have a dragon as a pet, then the next best thing is to write books with dragons in them and get a dog. Dianne lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband Doug, his three cats and her beloved dog Thomas. Thomas gets Dianne out walking almost every day, which is the next best thing to flying on dragon wing. Dianne rescued Thomas, but he is rescuing her one walk at a time.

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Check out all the Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts!

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The Dragon’s Cave has been Selected for Publication!

I’m so thrilled to report that The Dragon’s Cave won the Kindle Scout nomination for publication and will soon be published by Kindle Press!  I’m not sure of the release date yet, but everyone who nominated me will receive a free Advance Review Copy (ARC) before it’s published.

I understand there may be another round of edits before it goes to press, so that will probably determine the publication date.  I’ll keep you posted as I hear more.

I’m so excited!!

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How does the Fantastic Beasts script work as bedtime reading? #MGMM

 Not sure about how reading a screenplay works as a bedtime story?  I tried it out and I have the full report, complete with my kids’ feedback!

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. Today I’m sharing about the latest J.K. Rowling release and MG favorite, Fantastic Beasts.

We’d just finished the seventh Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and faced the sad prospect of no “H.P.” at bedtime. Reading the Harry Potter series had been a united activity–both my eleven year old and my eight year old looked forward to our nightly reading. For Katie Rose, it was her second time listening to me read the whole series, but she was no less engrossed at 11 than she was at 7.  My son Owen had gone from being a reluctant listener when we started (“I think it’s too scary for me”) to being the one who started asking at 7:30, “Is it H.P. time?)

None of us wanted the nighttime goodness to end, so I promptly ordered the Fantastic Beasts screenplay and The Cursed Child script.

When we worked through the Harry Potter series, we always finished reading the book first and then watched the movie.  In the case of Fantastic Beasts, we watched the movie first. I do think that helped immensely, filling in the visuals that aren’t present when reading a screenplay. I guess we’ll find out how important seeing the movie was first when we dive into the script of The Cursed Child. 

Overall, I would call the adventure a success. The one major downside–it went all too fast. A two hour movie script does not compare to the entire Hogwarts school year in terms of how many nights it took us to devour the thing (just a few!).

I brought my kids out to talk about the experience. Here’s what they thought:

Rose-Marie Lyttle: Was it harder to listen to me reading a screenplay vs. a book?

Katie Rose:  YES!

Owen:  It was harder to understand, but it helped when you’d say who said something (the screen directions), it helped.

Rose-Marie Lyttle: If we hadn’t seen the movie, would it have been impossible to understand?

Katie Rose:  I would’ve understood it, but it would be harder.

Owen:  Yeah.

Rose-Marie Lyttle: Was it better than Harry Potter book or not as good?

Both:  Not as good.  Owen: I like Harry Potter better

Rose-Marie Lyttle: Did the fact that there were no kids in this book influence how much you liked it?

Both: No.

Rose-Marie Lyttle: If someone else had written this, and it wasn’t connected with the Harry Potter world, would you still like it?

Owen: Yes, either way.

Katie Rose: I liked it because it was set in the Harry Potter world.

Rose-Marie Lyttle:  Tell me, what was your favorite thing about Fantastic Beasts?

Katie Rose:  I liked the beasts.

Owen:  I liked the Obscurus and the beasts.

Rose-Marie Lyttle: Which beasts in particular?

Owen: I liked them all.  The little thing that steals gold (The Niffler) and the leaf-guy stick thing (bowtruckle) the Swooping Evil.

Rose-Marie Lyttle: Anything you didn’t like about the story?

Both: No

Rose-Marie Lyttle: How would you rate it on a scale of 1-10?

Both:  9

Rose-Marie Lyttle: So what would HP be?

Both: 10.

Rose-Marie Lyttle: Now that you’ve read a screenplay, are you more interested in theater?

Katie Rose: I really want to be a director and this taught me more terms. I’d rather read a book, but if I was directing a movie or was in a movie, I would appreciate a screenplay more than a book.

Owen:  It shows you where the camera would be pointing– it gives you directions.

So there you have it!  JK Rowling unites our family once more!  Tonight we begin The Cursed Child. I’ll let you know how it goes!

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An Update on The Dragon’s Cave

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(c) 123rf Stock Photo

After sitting on the manuscript for my first middle grade novel for over a year, I finally finished edits and sent it off for publication.

The prompting came from Katie Rose, my eleven-year-old, who seemed to have an avatar moment. We were driving home and she asked me what I was thinking about.

I replied, “an idea for a new book.”

She suddenly took on a commanding tone. “Mom, you need to publish The Dragon’s Cave. I love that book and it needs to be out in the world.”

She spoke with such conviction that I decided to follow her advice. I could re-write until I’m ninety and probably never think it’s perfect. It’s time to move it off my plate and move on to fresh projects!

Today I worked with copywriting guru Bryan Cohen to rework my blurb, and I pretty much love the way it came out. See what you think.  

The Lost Branch – New YA from Donna Cook

I’m pleased to welcome Donna Cook, an author I met twenty years ago. We both studied writing at Knox College and you can see from her new release, Donna has put her education to good use. Her first book, The Gift of the Phoenix won 1st Place Fantasy in the North American Book Awards and Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Award Semifinalist. The Lost Branch is the newest book in the YA fantasy Lost Branch series.

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A portion of ash stuck on the altar at the Rock of Light reveals a mysterious new threat.

Corren embarks on a perilous quest for the secrets of a long-extinct branch of the Order. In his absence, a menacing illness threatens the extinction of the earth faeries. But is it Nicolai’s healing they need or Corren’s powerful staff? And while Marcellus delves further into his bond with the element of water, he finds it may require more than he’s able to give.

In this intriguing continuation of Cook’s epic saga, Gift of the Phoenix, the Three discover the power of ancient secrets, new enemies, and treacherous desires. Together, they must protect their world from its most dangerous threat yet. If it isn’t already too late.

What early readers had to say about The Lost Branch:

“An intriguing new angle on a familiar world.”

“A great read!”

“I loved the book and was captivated by the characters and the story. The way you so expertly and effortlessly wove together all the story lines and points of view still has me marveling. Well done!!!”

The Lost Branch is a compelling, original, engaging story.”

“I enjoyed the experience immensely!”

“Just read it and thank me later.”

READ AN EXCERPT

Website book page

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Author Donna Cook Headshot

Donna Cook is an award-winning author and freelance book editor. Her epic fantasy adventure, Gift of the Phoenix, has won numerous awards, including 1st Place Fantasy in the North American Book Awards and Kindle Book Review Book of the Year Award Semifinalist. She’s an Arizona native transplanted to Boise, Idaho, where she is delighting in the change of scenery. When she’s not writing her next novel, she spends her time chasing the kids, exploring delicious eateries, and dancing with her talented husband (Salsa, baby!). She also makes a mean Navajo taco.

You can find her on:

Facebook  | TwitterGoodreads

Middle Grade Munch Grills Kimberly Griffiths Little on her book The Time of the Fireflies

by Rose-Marie Lyttle

My nine-year-old, Katie Rose, and I recently read The Time of the Fireflies by award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little. It’s a lush, rich story set in the Louisiana bayou about a girl who shifts through time with the help of a swarm fireflies to uncover the mystery behind a family curse. We liked the book so well we connected with the author to ask her a few questions about it.

Katie Rose: What genre is The Time of the Fireflies? Mystery? Literary Fiction? Fantasy?

Kimberley Griffiths Little:  Actually, this book is sort of a mash-up of time-slipping, mystery, family drama, and magical realism. I tend to stay away from calling it a true fantasy because the story is set in the contemporary real world with real people (not witches or ghosts or “creatures”) and a few real-life problems the characters are dealing with. When we think of fantasy we usually think of an entirely new world the author has created with a set of magic rules.

But I think everybody loves a bit of magical realism and time-slipping! 🙂

Rose-Marie Lyttle: The setting is such an integral part of the book. Do you draw your knowledge of Bayou Teche from personal experience?

Kimberley Griffiths Little: Yes, I’ve been to the Bayou Teche and dozens of small towns along the bayous and swamps of Louisiana many, many times. It’s a spectacular, mystical place with herons, egrets, owls, and raccoons and Spanish Moss dripping from gorgeous cypress trees. Louisiana has practically become a second home to me. I’ve also taken MANY boat rides in the swamps and seen dozens of alligators, even baby alligators on the banks. Here’s a picture:

alligator on log

Katie Rose: Is the Island of Dolls a real place?

Kimberley Griffiths Little: Yes, there is an Island of the Dolls south of Mexico City. It’s a

VERY CREEPY place, much creepier than The Time of the Fireflies. People who visit the Island say the dolls are possessed and sometimes blink their eyes and whisper to each other at night. Eeek!

Rose-Marie Lyttle: I was a little nervous when Katie Rose and I started reading that the book might be too scary for her. There is something inherently terrifying about possessed dolls. Did you have to tone it down to make it readable for middle-grade?

Kimberley Griffiths Little: I worried that it might be too terrifying, but I had my audience in mind as I wrote it (speaking as a childhood doll lover) and knew where to draw the line. My editor didn’t have me tone anything down, but I worked on those scenes with the doll *coming alive* many times to get the tone right. I also wanted the story to include redemption and love so as not to leave those scenes with only negative connotations. Love and forgiveness and redemption are much more powerful than greed and selfishness.

Katie Rose: Do you have other books that I might like?

Kimberley Griffiths Little: Of course! 🙂 I’ve written three other MG novels set in Bayou Bridge with other characters from the town. All 4 books have fun little connections between the characters and past events so readers love meeting the four different girls and going more deeply into their stories and mysteries and families.

Rose-Marie Lyttle: I loved the part with the Cajun traiteur. Have you ever seen a traiteur yourself?

Kimberley Griffiths Little:  Yes, I’ve met several traiteurs, actually. On one of my research trips I did a 2-week road trip with a very good friend of mine who grew up in the South and we met lots of wonderful people who knew traiteurs and helped set up times for us to meet them personally in their homes. Everyone we met was very friendly and generous. I loved it.

There is a wonderful DVD about the Cajun traiteurs called Good for What Ails You, a documentary filmed by some New Orleans filmmakers. There are several traiteurs in the video who talk about their healing abilities and knowledge. It’s fascinating. http://coteblanche.com/good-for-what-ails-you

Rose-Marie Lyttle: The Time of the Fireflies incorporates elements of magic (time slipping, possessed doll, etc). I assume you were drawing on Louisiana Voodoo, but I also know you live in New Mexico and I thought I recognized the flavor of the “magic realism” of Spanish-American fiction. Where did the inspiration for incorporating magic into this book come from?

Kimberley Griffiths Little: In New Mexico there are herbal folk healers called curanderos who are very similar to Cajun traiteurs, and their history goes back several hundred years as well. Traiteurs and Curanderos use a mix of herbal medicine and faith, with a bit of folklore and mysticism, or “old wives’ tales” mixed in.

When I first learned about traituers, I knew I wanted to incorporate them into my first book, The Healing Spell. It took a lot of digging into special collections and the university libraries in Louisiana to find much. If you want to know more about Miz Mirage Allemand, you must read The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets.

The traiteurs I met are warm and wonderful people who very much believe their gifts come from God and they are to use those gifts to bless others. They do not accept any payment or gift in exchange for their help.

Katie Rose: Do you believe magic/magical experiences like this can really happen?

Kimberley Griffiths Little: Hmm, personally I’m sort of on the fence. I’m a religious person and have faith in God so I do believe in miracles, and have seen them in my own and other’s lives. Unfortunately, there are people out in the world (we even talked to some in Louisiana, actually!) who have become involved in magic-craft or witchcraft. I tend to stay away from that because I worry that those beliefs and practices are used for mischief or to hurt, instead of to do good and help others.

Rose-Marie Lyttle: You don’t touch much on ethnicity, although I believe the issue of race had a subtle presence in the book. Was that purposeful?

Kimberley Griffiths Little:  When I began drafting this story I knew that the servant girl from the turn of the century would be an AfricanAmerican girl who had come from slave heritage, but I was too focused on the character’s relationships and purpose to the plot. The Time of the Fireflies isn’t a story about slavery or bigotry.

It wasn’t something I purposely stayed away from—it just didn’t fit the story. I hope it was woven into the story in such a way that readers can take away what they’d like from it. From all that I’ve read, researched, and personally experienced, the portrayal in my book is very true to life—back in 1912 and in modern day.

The Time of the Fireflies  Fireflies #3

When Larissa Renaud starts receiving eerie phone calls on a disconnected old phone in her family’s antique shop, she knows she’s in for a strange summer. A series of clues leads her to the muddy river banks, where clouds of fireflies dance among the cypress knees and cattails each evening at twilight. The fireflies are beautiful and mysterious, and they take her on a magical journey through time, where Larissa learns secrets about her family’s tragic past — deadly, curse-ridden secrets that could harm the future of her family as she knows it. It soon becomes clear that it is up to Larissa to prevent history from repeating itself and a fatal tragedy from striking the people she loves.
With her signature lyricism, Kimberley Griffiths Little weaves a thrilling tale filled with family secrets, haunting mystery, and dangerous adventure.

BUY NOW ON AMAZON, Amazon UK

SONY DSCAbout Kimberly Griffiths Little
When I was a kid I read a book a day, scribbled stories, and dreamed about having my very own book on the library shelf. I grew up in San Francisco, but now live in an adobe house on the banks of the Rio Grande with my husband and sons. I think I’ve drunk so much Land of Enchantment water that some of that ancient magic got into my blood and now spurts out my pencil–I mean ergonomic keyboard.
Which means I adore anything old and musty with a secret story to tell.
I make way too many cookies when I’m writing or revising a new book – and I’ve got the best book trailers in the universe – for reals! Check them out here: www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com. Please find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Youtube.

Awards: Southwest Book Award, Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel, Bank Street College Best Books of 2011 & 2013, Crystal Kite Finalist, and New Mexico Book Award Finalist.

Connect with Kimberly on Social Media: Website (Teacher’s Guides and Book Club Guides) / Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Tumblr / Youtube (Fabulous book trailers filmed on location in the swamps!)

Look what just came in the mail… #kidlit

 

Signed copies of four books by Mary Brodsky (illustrated by Audrey Jung).  The kids and I are looking forward to reading these together tonight!  Thank you!!

Collage of 4 books by Mary Brodsky