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Friday, February 12, 2016

The Winning Kiss [The Winner's Kiss Blog Tour]

Today I'm very excited to help promote Marie Rutkoski's upcoming book The Winner's Kiss by sharing my favorite literary kiss.  Also, I just have to say that am SO HAPPY that The Winner's Kiss will soon be out in the world. I'm usually a patient person, but waiting between each of these books has been a struggle!

So, while you count down the days until the release of The Winner's Kiss, pick up the book featuring my favorite literary kiss - which, unsurprisingly, is one of my favorite books of all time!


Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor's the reluctant leader of her school's underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can't avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future. 

My love for Melina Marchetta's Printz winner Jellicoe Road is no secret. Some books just feel like they were written just for you - for me, Jellicoe Road is that book. My hardcover is always safe on my shelf, but I keep multiple paperback copies on hand to give away. If you haven't read this book yet, you're dead to me. Just kidding! But you really should read it. I can give you a list of people that read it on my recommendation that will happily back me up! 


Taylor Markham and Jonah Griggs
The relationship between Taylor and is one of my favorites on many levels, one of which is their chemistry.
“If you weren't driving, I'd kiss you senseless," I tell him.
He swerves to the side of the road and stops the car abruptly.
"Not driving any more.”
Oh, wait, you wanted an actual kissing scene?? Well, if you insist...
“When I turn around, he cups my face in his hands and he kisses me so deeply that I don't know who is breathing for who, but his mouth and tongue taste like warm honey. I don't know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already.”
 I rest my case.



   Is this a serious question? I mean... Kestrel and Arin!!!

Check out the whole tour HERE

More About The Winner's Kiss
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
About the Author
Website / Twitter
Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders and The Celestial Globe. The Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa, where she took Writers’ Workshop classes and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cover Reveal + Guest Post with Kent Davis, author of the Riddle in Ruby books

 I'm ridiculously excited to have Kent Davis, author of A Riddle in Ruby and the forthcoming sequel, The Changer's Key, here at The Hiding Spot. Not only will the cover of The Changer's Key be revealed here today, Kent has shared 5 ways in which improv and action have impacted his writing. 

After reading and admiring the phenomenal cover art of The Changer's Key, be sure to enter to win a hardcover copy of A Riddle in Ruby!


5 Ways Improv and Acting Have Influenced My Writing

In seventh grade my speech teacher brought my out of my shell. Even though many people tried to put me back in that shell—not everyone (thanks, mom!)—I persisted, and doubled down on poverty: I went to graduate school as an actor and an improviser. Hey, at least I wasn't studying to be a mime! Although we did have some mime classes. Putting aside the fiscal despair, here's where I'm trying to get to: In graduate school and out in the world running a theater company, I've been continually intrigued by how dramatically improv and acting have informed my writing.

The Five Ways! Excelsior! If they bring you out of your shell (writing or otherwise), please don't blame me.

#5: Burning Desire

 One of the first things I had drilled to me in theater school was the concept of need. If you're playing (or writing) a character, it's vitally important to know what they want. I prefer that need to be a burning desire that trumps all other things. It's the engine that a character harnesses to drive the story to magnificent places. I felt a similar burning desire for a particular person when I was in sixth grade, and I'm here to tell you that the actions I took created an incredibly interesting story. You'll just have to take my word for it. You know, juvenile records are sealed for a reason.

The best way this concept of need works for me is if the character's burning desire is for another character to take action. "I want a pony" is only two-sided. Either I get the pony or I don't. "I want you to give me a pony," however, is the basis for a thrilling campaign of opportunities, successes, and failure surrounding my continued attempts to get you to give me that cursed beast! Sixth grade flashback. Best to wait it out…. Okay, thanks. The best thing about this kind of objective? Failures are just as full of story as victories. Oftentimes more.

#4: The Story. The Characters. Story. Characters. That is All.

I'm a short, bald guy with a tendency to fall down spectacularly. Some people call this condition "character actor." Now, laughter is a drug. In my past, to access this elusive substance, I have been known to come up with intricate bits of business that I was convinced would absolutely slay the audience. I once did a prat fall out of a door hung eight feet in the air. Good times. The disease: I get an idea. I get excited, I add more to it. Which makes me more excited. Which makes me add more business. Here, however, is one of the best things a director ever said to me about a piece of such business: "It's funny, Kent. It's really funny. But it doesn't serve the play. In fact, it takes the focus away from it. You need to decide. Do you want to serve yourself? Or the story?" If what I've written—no matter how good, or beautiful, or sad, or pleasingly odd—doesn't move the story forward, it needs to go.

#3: Movement is Character is Story.

You know the moment. The three-finger salute from The Hunger Games. Bilbo slipping on the One Ring. Tiffany Aching cleaning up Granny Aching's hut after she—ok, spoilers, that was a close one. All of these movements contained volumes of information about the characters who performed them. A simple charged action can bring so much more to the story than a monologue. On a stage, every cross from upstage to downstage, every mixed drink, every tentative step closer or hunch farther away, all of those little tiny motions can contain huge significance. So, too, for characters on a page. Every time a character moves in what I'm writing, I try to make that movement important. Otherwise why have it happen at all?

#2: Even One Word.

One of the amazing things about improv is the power of little things. A single look can lead to a scene. A single word can seed a story. Some friends and I just recently improvised an entire full-length play derived from the suggestion "back acne." This is something of which I'm not particularly proud. Well, actually I am.

I take a lot of solace in this principle, especially when I'm stuck in that place when the end of the book seems so impossibly far away. Instead of obsessing about the pile of plot problems that need to be solved, the legion of pages that need to be written, the lifetime of reactions from readers and critics and my mom, all I need to do is to write one word. And then one more. And then, maybe, one more. That's three words, now. Bam. Totally time for some ice cream.

#1: The Curtain's Gotta Rise

Another fascinating thing about live performance is that gut wrenching, pulse pounding moment when you must BEGIN. The curtain rises, or the lights come up, or you fall out of an eight-foot high doorway, and this train, she just has to get rolling. It doesn't matter how prepared you are, or how prepared you are not. There are people sitting out there in their seats, and they have paid money to see you do your thing and so you must do your thing. Right. Now.

This mindset has helped me with writing, too. The thing you're making can always be improved. Very possibly you will improve it. Almost certainly you'll have an idea tomorrow morning in the shower that would be a downright brilliant addition. Here's the crux of the biscuit, though. That possibility will always be there. It's essential (when you get to that ever elusive "good enough") to get that thing out into the world, to show it to your critique partners, or your agent, or your editor, or that nice lady that runs the headphone stand at the mall.

For me, once it is seen, it becomes even more real. It's often through someone else's eyes that I discover what truly needs to be done. And that's when the real work begins.

Ok, that's it. Show's over. Nothing to see here. Unless you want to look at THIS AWESOME COVER.









About the Book

To save her friends and family, apprentice thief Ruby Teach bargained with the man who chased her across the sea and through an alternate version of colonial Philadelphia. Now she’s training to become a soldier in the war he foresees and being experimented on by the army’s scientists. Ruby’s blood holds a secret, if only someone can unlock it. Meanwhile, Captain Teach and Ruby’s friends—a motley crew made up of a young aristocrat, a servant, an alchemist, and mysterious woodswoman—are racing against time to find and liberate Ruby. Kent Davis’s imagining of a colonial America powered by alchemy is fascinating and wholly original, and he sweeps our heroes through cities and unsettled territories with imagination, humor, and magic. This action-packed trilogy has equal appeal for both boy and girl readers—there’s never a dull moment.

More About the Author

Kent Davis has spent most of his life making stories. He is a fantasy writer, game designer, actor, playwright, teacher, improvisational comedian, and vocation collector. A Riddle in Ruby marks his fiction debut.

He and his game design partner, Chris Organ, are the two geekomatics behind the Epic RPG tabletop gaming system, as well as its primary settings, Eslin and Audhûm. Kent's theatrical, film, and television credits as a short, bald man include an array of concerned friends, overbearing flunkies, and odd-yet-amusing next door neighbors.

He's a member of SFWA and SCBWI. He lives with his stunningly brilliant wife and a bold, yet wily dog-ninja in the wilds of Montana.

He appreciates good food, good drink, and good stories. Especially if the stories have dragons. Or wendigo. Or elusive, brain-devouring fauna.

1 Winner. US only. Ends 2/25/2016.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cover Reveals - Middle Grade (67)

The Most Frightening Story Ever Told by Philip Kerr
Roald Dahl meets R. L. Stine in this spine-tingling and hilarious tale from a bestselling author.

Billy Shivers doesn’t have a lot of excitement in his life. He prefers to spend his days reading alone in the Hitchcock Public Library. So it is a bit out of character when he finds himself drawn to the Haunted House of Books, and a competition daring readers to survive an entire night inside.

The Haunted House of Books is a cross between a bookstore and a booby trap. It’s a creeky old mansion full of dark hallways and things that go bump in the night, and the store’s ill-tempered owner, Mr. Rapscallion, only adds to the mystery.

But the frights of the store itself are nothing compared to the stories it holds. These stories are so ghastly, so terrifying, so shocking that once you’ve read them, you’ll never be the same. Does Billy dare begin? Do you?
Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison
This companion to Grounded combines humor, revolution, magic, and romance for the most delightful "Cinderella" retelling since Ella Enchanted.

Ella Coach has one wish: revolution. Her mother died working in a sweatshop, and Ella wants every laborer in the Blue Kingdom to receive fairer treatment. But to make that happen, she'll need some high-level support . . .

Prince Dash Charming has one wish: evolution. The Charming Curse forced generations of Charming men to lie, cheat, and break hearts -- but with the witch Envearia's death, the curse has ended. Now Dash wants to be a better person, but he doesn't know where to start . . .

Serge can grant any wish -- and has: As an executive fairy godfather, he's catered to the wildest whims of spoiled teenagers from the richest, most entitled families in Blue. But now a new name has come up on his list, someone nobody's ever heard of . . . Ella Coach.

This is a story about three people who want something better and who together find the faith to change their worlds. It's "Cinderella," brilliantly reimagined, and a delightful expansion of the wonderful world of Tyme.

The Black Lotus: The Samurai Wars by Kieran Fanning
Ninja and samurai lore come together with action and adventure to create an explosive new series perfect for fans of Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief!

Ghost, Cormac, and Kate are not like other kids. Ghost can turn invisible, Cormac can run up walls, and Kate can talk to animals -- all abilities that make them perfect for the Black Lotus, a training school for ninjas who are sworn to protect the world from the evil samurai-run Empire. But when the Moon Sword -- a source of unimaginable power -- is stolen, the three are forced to put their new skills to the test and go back in time to sixteenth-century Japan and retrieve it.
Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley
For fans of Three Times Lucky and The Penderwicks, this endearing new classic spins together sparkling humor, sizzle-pop writing, and a main character with Ramona Quimby's sass and smarts.

Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she'll be leaving behind.

There's just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.
The Magician's Key by Matthew Cody
The Secrets of Pied Piper #2
A Tail of Camelot by Julie Leung
Drawing inspiration from Brian Jacques's Redwall and Arthurian myths like T.H. White's The Once and Future King, Leung's debut retells the Camelot story from the point of view of the court's humblest creatures, who must save the realm while the human knights of the Round Table are off on foreign adventures.
Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson
Rose Lee Carter, a 13-year-old African-American girl, dreams of life beyond the Mississippi cotton fields during the summer of 1955. Her world is rocked when a 14-year-old African-American boy, Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. A powerful middle-grade debut perfect for readers who enjoyed The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Brown Girl Dreaming.

The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones by Wendelin Van Draanen
My secret life is filled with psychic vampires, wheelchair zombies, chain-rattlin’ ghosts, and a one-eyed cat. But they’re nothing compared to my real-life stalker: a sixth-grade girl named Kandi Kain. . . .

Lincoln Jones is always working on the latest story he’s got going in his notebook. Those stories are his refuge. A place where the hero always prevails and the bad guy goes to jail. Real life is messy and complicated, so Lincoln sticks to fiction and keeps to himself. Which works fine until a nosy girl at his new school starts prying into his private business. She wants to know what he’s writing, where he disappears to after school, and why he never talks to anybody. . . .

The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones is a terrifically funny and poignant story about a boy finding the courage to get to know the real characters all around him—and to let them know him.
Race the Night by Kirsten Hubbard

Without you, there’d be no hope for the world. Because you are the whole world now.

That’s what Teacher says, and twelve-year-old Eider knows she’s right. The world ended long ago, and the desert ranch is the only thing left. Still, Eider’s thoughts keep wandering Beyond the fence. Beyond the pleated earth and scraggly brush and tedious daily lessons. Eider can’t help wishing for something more — like the stories in the fairy tale book she hides in the storage room. Like the secret papers she collects from the world Before. Like her little sister who never really existed.

When Teacher announces a new kind of lesson, Eider and the other kids are confused. Teacher says she needs to test their specialness — the reason they were saved from the end of the world. But seeing in the dark? Reading minds? As the kids struggle to complete Teacher’s challenges, they also start to ask questions. Questions about their life on the desert ranch, about Before and Beyond, about everything Teacher has told them. But the thing about questions — they can be dangerous.

This moving novel — equal parts hope and heartbreak — traces one girl’s journey for truth and meaning, from the smallest slip of paper to the deepest understanding of family. The world may have ended for the kids of the desert ranch… but that’s only the beginning.
Return Fire by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
The thrilling sequel to Moving Target! When a young girl can determine the destiny of the world, the wrong choice could lead to disaster . . .

Cassie Arroyo has found the long-lost Spear of Destiny -- only to have it stolen right out from under her!

In Return Fire, Cassie and Asher must regain the spear. This time, however, it's not enough just to find it: Cassie realizes that when she used the spear, she sent the world down a path that could eventually lead to serious trouble. Can she find a way to stop the terrible chain of events that she set into motion?

As she tries to reshape her own destiny, Cassie takes off on a breathless adventure across Italy, leading her to a forest outside Rome, a Caravaggio painting full of clues, and a villa by the sea. There, in the ultimate showdown, Cassie has to decide who she can truly trust. And when the chance to use the spear presents itself again, she has to figure out if she can even trust herself.

Kids will be clamoring for this sequel after finishing Moving Target, and this has even more thrills, riddles, and page-turning excitement!
The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
In this hilarious new illustrated chapter book series, bad guys are doing good deeds . . . whether you want them to or not!

They sound like bad guys, they look like bad guys . . . and they even smell like bad guys. But Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark are about to change all of that . . .

Mr. Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys' first good mission. They are going to break two hundred dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr. Snake please stop swallowing Mr. Piranha?!
Agents of the Glass: A New Recruit by Michael D. Beil
The Agents of the Glass are at the front lines of the fight between good and evil, and they have a new recruit. But is he up to the task?

Andover James Llewellyn, aka Andy, did the unthinkable: he turned in a bag of money he found on the street after a bank robbery. His selfless action caught the attention of the Agents of the Glass. Now, as one of the agency’s newest recruits, Andy is tasked with following the actions of a dangerous student at this new school, only he doesn’t know which student.

Is it Winter Neale, model student with countless extracurricular activities? Or could it be Jensen Huntley, an antagonistic, angry kid whose blog has angered the wrong people? Andy must determine his target quick, before the evil organization known at NTRP catches on to him.

Will Andy succeed in his mission or will the Agents of the Glass have to find another recruit?
Friday Barnes, Under Suspicion by R.A. SprattGoodreads 
Friday Barnes, girl detective, is... under arrest?!

Getting arrested was the last thing Friday expected after solving the swamp-yeti mystery at her boarding school. But she better clear her name fast! She’s got new cases to investigate, like a scandalous quiche bake-off, a decades old mystery buried in her school’s backyard, and why the new boy, Christopher, is being so nice to her.

More adventures and intrigue ensue in Friday Barnes, Under Suspicion, the second book in the illustrated Friday Barnes mystery series, starring a genius detective with the brains (and social skills) of Sherlock Holmes.

Don’t miss Book 1, Friday Barnes, Girl Detective!
The Secrets of Hexbridge Castle by Gabrielle Kent
Meet Alfie Bloom. He's just inherited a magical castle. And that's only the first of his problems . . .

Alfie Bloom knows he's about to have another dreadful summer. Not only will his inventor father be locked away in his workshop, but his best friend is visiting relatives abroad, which means he'll have no one.

But then Alfie receives a strange letter inviting him to meet with a lawyer about his "inheritance." Alfie has no idea what they're talking about, but he goes along and makes a shocking discovery -- someone has left him a castle! Hexbridge Castle is all his, which means no more long, boring summer days in his tiny house. He has a castle to explore!

But being the owner of castle isn't all fun. Hexbridge conceals a centuries-old secret, the heart of a dangerous mystery that threatens to destroy Alfie's new home, his new friends . . . and everyone unfortunate enough to live within 1,000 miles of the castle. Can this ordinary boy figure out a way to deal with this extraordinary challenge? Or will he follow in the footsteps of Hexbridge's last owners and succumb to a grisly fate?

William and Witch's Riddle by Shutta Crum; Lee Wildish
A charming re-imagination of “Sleeping Beauty” in which a boy must solve a witch’s riddle in order to save his family and end a centuries-long curse.
William and his little brother, Pinch, have been left alone at their home atop the mountain ever since their mother disappeared and their father went to look for her. When William is visited by a mysterious witch named Morga, it seems their lives might be in danger—unless they help the witch solve a riddle and find a dark family heirloom.

William sets out on a quest that leads him into the heart of the Old Forest. There his mother rests in the deep sleep of an ancient curse, her only companions a boy who wakes up a different size every day and a tiny yellow dragon who can dream storms into life.

Can William solve Morga’s riddle, or will he unleash Morga’s curses upon the world?
How to Avoid Extinction by Paul Acampora
For fans of Gary Schmidt and Joan Bauer, a laugh-out-loud intergenerational road trip story from acclaimed author Paul Acampora!

Since the death of his grandfather, Leo's number one chore has been to chase after his grandmother who seems to wander away from home every few days. Now, Gram's decided to roam farther than ever. And despite his misgivings, Leo's going along for the ride. With his seventeen-year-old cousin, Abbey, and an old, gassy dog named Kermit, Leo joins Gram in a big, old Buick to leave their Pennsylvania home for a cross-country road trip filled with foldout maps, family secrets, new friends, and dinosaur bones.

How to Avoid Extinction is a middle-grade comedy about death and food and family and fossils. It's about running away from home and coming back again. For Leo, it's about asking hard questions and hopefully finding some sensible answers. As if good sense has anything to do with it. Against a backdrop of America's stunning size and beauty, it's also about growing up, getting old, dreaming about immortality, and figuring out all the things we can -- and can't -- leave behind.
More Than Magic by Kathryn Lasky

Ryder Holmsby is the same age as Rory, the popular TV cartoon character her animator parents created. Ryder and Rory are alike—bold and brave! But Ryder is a bit lonely: Mom passed away a couple of years ago, and Dad is dating a woman with snooty teenage daughters. Ryder doesn’t fit in with them at all.

And then: Shazam! Rory jumps out of the TV into Ryder’s bedroom to tell her that the TV studio behind her parents’ show is trying to turn Rory into a dopey princess—no more adventures. She needs Ryder’s help! The two girls team up with a crew of animated and real-life friends to save the day in both worlds.

Kathryn Lasky, bestselling author of the Guardians of Ga’hoole series, the Wolves of the Beyond series, and the Horses of the Dawn series, delivers a whimsical tale in which inner strength is the greatest form of magic.
Sting by Jude Watson
Never do a favor for a friend.

Twelve-year-old March McQuin forgot rule number one for cat burglars, which is how he and his twin sister, Jules, found themselves dangling upside down twenty feet above a stone floor at three in the morning. Their target was a set of stunning diamonds and it should have been an easy job, in and out. Except another thief got there first. March and Jules were lucky to escape with their lives, and one measly stone.

Now the botched heist has created a world of trouble. The stone they grabbed was the Morning Star, one of a trio of famous sapphires, and it's cursed. The theft put the twins and their friends in the crosshairs of Interpol, the FBI, and a vicious adult gang of international criminals. And worst of all, the only way to break the curse and set everything to rights is by somehow managing to steal the other two sapphires in the set.

Break out the black gloves. Lay out the masks. There's a full moon coming, and jewels to steal...

Which new covers are your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!