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In the Middle with Jen Malone

Today, we are in the middle with Jen Malone, chatting about her adorable middle grade debut, At Your Service.


Thirteen-year-old Chloe Turner wants nothing more than to follow in Dad’s footsteps as a respected concierge in a posh NYC hotel. After all, living at a hotel is heaven, and perks like free concert tickets and all-access passes to boutiques, restaurants, and attractions aren’t too shabby either.

When the spoiled brat child of an important guest is only placated by some quick thinking on Chloe’s part, Chloe is awarded the role of Junior Concierge. But she might be in over her head when tasked with tending to the every whim of three royal guests: a twelve-year-old princess who can’t stand Chloe, a cute fourteen year-old prince(!), and their ten-year-old sister, who has a nasty knack for getting herself lost. After the youngest princess slips Chloe’s care, Chloe and the remaining royals must embark on an event-filled hunt for her through NYC’s best tourist spots.

At Your Service is available on IndieBound, B&N, and Amazon and in bookstores near you.

Q&A with Jen

What draws you into writing for a middle grade audience?

I think I particularly love the push and pull between being a tween and maybe wanting to revel in the lack of responsibility and the magic of childhood and YET also equally wanting so badly to grow up and have real grown-up responsibilities and freedoms. To me, it’s a fascinating crossroads. Plus, I love writing totally wacky scenarios and pratfalls and those lend themselves well to middle grade stories!

If you had a time machine and could visit middle-grade you, what would you tell her?

Funny enough, I actually have an interview with my tween self on my website where I break her(my) poor little tween heart by telling her(me) that we do not, in fact, marry Craig Zimmerman. I think I would mostly like her to know that it’s perfectly okay to be a little bit awkward and a lot bit boy-crazy because those things will both influence the writing SO MUCH when the time comes!

Choose your own adventure: Is there an interview question you’d love to answer, but haven’t been asked?

I don’t know, I’ve been getting some quite crazy ones. I can mostly guarantee that no one has asked- or will ever ask- me what the square root of 4116345 is and I would like to answer with a resounding, “How the heck should I know? There’s a reason I WRITE, people!”

If I were ever asked that, I’d certainly have to google the answer. Thanks for stopping by, Jen, and congratulations on your debut!

Jen Malone is the author of AT YOUR SERVICE (Simon & Schuster/Aladdin), about a tween concierge living and working in an upscale NYC hotel, as well as the forthcoming PLEASE RSVP series with co-author Gail Nall. Two YA novels are forthcoming with HarperCollins. She lives in Boston with her identical twin boys and their younger sister and bugs her husband daily for a pet hedgehog.
Connect with Jen on, Twitter, and Facebook.

In the Middle with Lauren Magaziner

I was obsessed with witches and magic as a girl. Kid-me would have read today’s book ragged. Kid-me would have also told adult-me to hurry up and tell you about the book! Today, we are in the middle with Lauren Magaziner and her magical debut, The Only Thing Worse than Witches:


Roald Dahl meets Eva Ibbotson in this hilarious middle grade debut perfect for reading aloud!

Rupert Campbell is fascinated by the witches who live nearby. He dreams of broomstick tours and souvenir potions, but Rupert’s mother forbids him from even looking at that part of town. The closest he can get to a witchy experience is sitting in class with his awful teacher Mrs. Frabbleknacker, who smells like bellybutton lint and forbids Rupert’s classmates from talking to each other before, during, and after class. So when he sees an ad to become a witch’s apprentice, Rupert simply can’t resist applying.

But Witchling Two isn’t exactly what Rupert expected. With a hankering for lollipops and the magical aptitude of a toad, she needs all the help she can get to pass her exams and become a full-fledged witch. She’s determined to help Rupert stand up to dreadful Mrs. Frabbleknacker too, but the witchling’s magic will be as useful as a clump of seaweed unless Rupert can figure out a way to help her improve her spellcasting—and fast!

The Only Thing Worse than Witches is available on IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Books A Million, and in bookstores near you.

Q&A with Lauren

What draws you into writing for a middle grade audience?

Laughter, laughter, laughter. Jokes and joy. Guffaws and giggles. Chortles and snortles. My humor skews more toward silly and absurd, which is a perfect fit for middle grade stories, where funny and fantastical things often happen! I feel very lucky to write for middle grade readers, who love humor, adventure, magic, and silliness as much as I do!

Middle Grade Me

If you had a time machine and could visit middle-grade you, what would you tell her?

Oh, I wouldn’t tell her ANYTHING. The repercussions of tampering with the laws of time are rather immense. Just by giving Little Lauren advice or a warning, I could unravel the very fabric of our existence! Create some sort of paradox! Get us both stuck in a time loop! Break off into alternate parallel universes in which Little Lauren never ends up becoming an author, thus the Lauren that’s sitting here answering this question doesn’t exist, thus this blog post never gets written.

And you would be very sad about that, I know.

Besides, fourth-grade Lauren doesn’t need my help. In some ways, she has a lot of things figured out: like being able to proudly and confidently dress up as one of her favorite book characters in public. (Some things will never change for her.)

Choose your own adventure: Is there an interview question you’d love to answer, but haven’t been asked?

After passing the witch Bar Exam, which witch name would you choose, and why?

The Collywobbles Witch

Why? Because collywobbles (which means stomach pain or queasiness) is the singularly most amazing sounding word in the history of time. And because I’d hope to be a fearsome enough witch to induce collywobbles in humans. *cackles*  (Though in honesty, it would probably be one of those names that’s ironic, as I’m very friendly.)

I love the word collywobbles! Thanks for stopping in today, Lauren, and congratulations on your debut!

Lauren Magaziner recently graduated from Hamilton College. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works in children’s magazine publishing (her coworkers still think her last name is a hoax). Her debut novel, The Only Thing Worse Than Witches, has been called “a fun, frothy story” by Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews says, “Readers will banish themselves from the real world to finish this book in a flash.” Lauren continues to write humorous, whimsical, wonky children’s books. To learn more about current and upcoming projects, visit her at

Book Things and My Face in a Shark

Hook’s Revenge is out in less than a month! This is your last chance to read it early and lord it over all your friends and loved ones. Disney•Hyperion is giving away ten advance copies on Goodreads. Enter below or click here.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hook's Revenge, Book 1 Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz

Hook’s Revenge, Book 1 Hook’s Revenge

by Heidi Schulz

Giveaway ends September 04, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

If you prefer a free hardcover (or you are hoping to win everything, and why not, don’t you deserve it?), go sign up for my newsletter, here or on the right sidebar. One person who signs up in August will win a signed hardcover and a $25 gift card.

A few words I think should be compound words:

  • Giftcard
  • Nevermind (Thanks to Nirvana)
  • Everytime (I have no excuse for this one. But I do it almost everytime every time.





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