Hey Kid! with Kate Foster (WINELL ROAD)

hey kid

Dear 11-year-old me,

Let’s kick this off with a quick word about the nickname business you’re obsessing over. Gizmo Mogwai – ain’t gonna catch on. Sorry, but it just isn’t. And really, do you want people to associate you with a gremlin for the rest of your life? Thought not. Think potential boyfriends…

Also, all of the gymnastic-themed names, Flip, Split and the likes, I don’t think these are going to work, either. Stick with Kate. It’s a good name.
11 year old me

You love lists, right? Me too! They rule. Keeping life all neat and tidy and ordered. Everybody should like lists; everybody should write them. All hail the list!

Well, I’d like to run through one specific list you wrote not long ago. It’s the ‘Potential Careers’ list. It’s in the shoe box in the bottom right corner of your wardrobe, the box with the Bros stickers splattered all over it. Got it? Great, let’s start.

1: ‘Supermodel’
Mmm, interesting. Yes, you’re ridiculously pencilly thin. Yes, your skin is horribly flawless. But I’ve got this feeling there might be a height issue ready to stand in the way of your dream. I know, it’s going to be a tough pill to swallow, but there just aren’t many catwalk queens averaging little over five feet. For now, carry on swirling in front of the mirror and sauntering up and down in Mum’s heels, but be prepared to cross through this with a permanent red marker pen one day.

Oh, and please be careful in those heels. Specifically when you’re about fifteen on a night out with friends at the movies. Think stairs.

2: ‘Nurse’
Awesome job, and you’d be just like Mum, your hero. But, I have this feeling you’re going to be an emotional individual; breaking down regularly over the smallest things, like…I don’t know…old people, sad adverts, tiny kids falling off bikes. And being a nurse is going to bring a lot of heartbreaking things into your life. I’d ponder this one for a little longer.

3: ‘Vet’
See ‘Nurse’.

4: ‘Cleaner’
Excuse me while I wipe up the mouthful tea I just spat everywhere. Seriously girl, what are you thinking? You love tidying up, I know this, and it will be something that, at times, you have the potential to become ever so slightly obsessed about. You love lists, already mentioned, and neat piles, folded clothes, toys in boxes, shut doors and drawers, straight lines, corners, and…oops, sorry, I got carried away there. But have a quick peek at your bedroom. Yes, it’s clean, but is it REALLY clean? You know, dusted? Polished? Vacuumed? Noooo, it isn’t. And when this does happen, Mum does it. This is pretty much what being a cleaner will entail, all the things Mum does. Which brings me neatly on to the next point.

I believe you might have your fair share of cleaning in the future. I’m thinking out loud here, but boyfriend, marriage, babies. Babies who grow up to be dirty, smelly boys. Boys who produce poo-stained pants and filthy bedrooms. Heck, you might even have a dog one day, which equals fur, paw prints, slobber. Think gag-reflex. Enough said. So cross this one out. No, scrap that, rip it right off that bit of paper. (But make sure to put it in the bin.)

5: ‘Horse rider’
??? Is that even a job?

6: ‘Author’
And we’ve landed. Why oh why are you embarrassed about your writing? Is it still because your brother laughed at that short story, Monty Mouse, all those years ago? Is it because the only other kids who like writing in your class also like to darn ballet shoes and collect toy buses? You’ve got to rise above it. Don’t you remember those five sparkling team points Mr Havard awarded you for The Space Rocket? A teacher who probably had a note from home to say he was allergic to team points and excitement. No one had ever seen him so worked up! And all because of those 500 and something words YOU put together. It’s a sign, I tell you, a sign!

Don’t shy away from being ‘different’, OK? Just don’t. Different is cool. And your imagination, your love of words, might just be the cure to your self-esteem issues. I’m saying, let YOU shine through, release the words.
It’s been a bumpy ride so far, I’m aware of that, and it’s likely to get even bumpier in the years to come. But there will be plenty of smooth riding as well. Times when containing your elation might prove too difficult. So don’t contain it, let it out; lap it up, swim in it. Life’s too short to wonder what if.

Good luck, my friend. Until later.

~From your 30-something-year-old self

Winell Road cover 2

Winell Road is the most boring street on Earth and 12-year-old Jack Mills is sick to his molars of living there. But when a UFO nearly abducts him outside his home, his life takes a terrifying and mysterious turn. With the help of his new friend and neighbour, frighteningly tall Roxy Fox, Jack discovers there’s a lot more to Winell Road and his life than he’d ever imagined.

Winell Road is available on Jetblack Publishing.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Foster is a freelance editor and children’s writer who likes lists. Originally from the UK, she now lives on the Gold Coast in Australia with her three sons, husband and spoodle. Winell Road, her debut middle grade novel will be released later this month.
Connect with Kate on KateJFoster.com, Twitter, and Facebook.

Hey Kid! with Kelly Jones (UNUSUAL CHICKENS FOR THE EXCEPTIONAL POULTRY FARMER)

hey kid

Hey Kid,

unnamed-2You know how people tease you for reading so much? Don’t listen to them, and don’t change that. Escape into books when you need to. Remember that spending time with books doesn’t mean you don’t like people — it means you love stories. It’s fine to need a break from the everyday world sometimes, and a reading life is a pretty great life. Anyone who says you can’t live in books has never been a writer.

You know how, when you have a bad day, your mom always says “It’s material for your novel” – she’s right. It really is.

Try not to worry so much. It’s okay to feel afraid – it’s even smart, sometimes — but why let fear run your entire life? Think about what you actually, truly want to try. Is it going to hurt or kill you, or ruin your life? If not, maybe it’s worth it to try something new, even if you aren’t instantly good at it. It could even be fun. (It could even make a good story.)

It’s okay to ask for what you truly want. You’re going to be surprised how many things could have been possible if only you’d asked for them. Not everything. But more than enough. If it’s important, it’s worth asking.

Be your own kind of strong. Do the best you can to do what you think is right, even when it’s hard. Practice apologizing when you did something that wasn’t good after all. (You’re going to use that skill a lot.) Be brave for yourself, too — stand up for yourself. People shouldn’t treat you in ways you’d never treat someone else.

Listen to what you actually think. Just you. Everyone in your life is giving you advice and opinions right now, even me, and some of it’s really good advice, but you know what? It doesn’t matter as much as learning to find your own way through. Learn what’s right for you, and learn how to stick to it.

But remember how many people are on your side. Your family, your friends, your teachers, your community – even if they don’t say it, most of them are there for you when you need them. They believe in you. They are proud of you.

Remember that I’m proud of you, too.

When you didn’t do it right the first time? That’s because you were learning. Take that knowledge and try again. And again, and again, and again. (It’s a good thing you’re so stubborn. Hang onto that.)

When you cried because you weren’t brave enough to stand up for someone else? You didn’t let yourself off the hook. Keep trying, every time you can. (It’s still hard. It still matters.)

When you wondered what someone else would think, and then said what you believed anyway? When you stepped away from the crowd, or towards it, to do what you felt was right? Keep doing that.

Keep believing you can do anything. I can’t wait until you see what you can do.

Love,
Kelly, thirty years later

P.S. Maybe you don’t actually hate chickens. Or maybe you only hate Rhode Island Reds, like that one that pecked your foot. That’s fine; you can use that.

P.P.S. You know that book you really like, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency? Read that one again. And again. (Anyone who says you don’t learn from rereading books doesn’t know anything about writers.)

unnamedTwelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse….

And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.

Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more.

Find Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer on IndieBound, Third Place Books, Powell’s, and Penguin Random House, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Kelly Jones has worked as a librarian and a bookseller, and has her own (much-loved, but fairly ordinary) chickens. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer is her first novel.
Connect with Kelly on curiosityjones.net, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

On My Mind: May 12, 2015

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I GIFed this old vine of myself so everyone can see my winning smile. Aren’t you glad???
creepy heidi-3

Edit: Why isn’t it looping? Click to see it again.

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START SPREADING THE NEEEEEWS! I’ll be in New York at the end of the month. If you are in the area, you’ll have three chances to hang out with me: signing advance copies of The Pirate Code at Book Expo, hanging out and playing games with dozens of other middle grade authors, and talking pirates and hot dogs with author Tara Dairman. See my events page for more details on each.

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Tiny Hamster Tiki Party!

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My I <3 Educators giveaway is on for a few more days. Tell the teachers and librarians in your life that they could win a hardcover of Hook's Revenge, an advance copy of The Pirate Code—both signed, a classroom pack of bookmarks and postcards, and a free in person visit from me! Enter here.

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Here’s another GIF. Like creepy mother, like creepy daughter, right?
Maple Man

Edit: Same story as above. Dumb homemade GIFing.

Hey Kid! with Jennifer Carson (THE HAPENNY MAGICK SERIES)

hey kid

Hey Kid!

It can be tough to be in the middle. Not quite a little kid anymore and not quite a grown-up—but expected to act like one. I know your parents had the same feelings when they were your age, but the passing years have made them forget what it’s like to feel like you don’t fit in anywhere. To be on the outside of games you played just a year ago because now you’re “too old” but still left out of adult conversations because you’re “too young”. They think you have it easy because you don’t have to go to work and earn money to pay the mortgage or the electricity bill—but you do have a job.
heykid-jcarsonphoto086

Your job is to find what makes your heart sing and do it.

It doesn’t matter if what makes your heart sing is playing soccer or playing the piano. It could be reading or writing or doing wacky science experiments. Through play we find what we love—we find what makes our heart sing. Yes, I said through play! Even when you are an adult you need time to play. To be creative! You are never too old to play. Don’t let anyone tell that you are—if they do tell you, ignore them.

Our bodies weren’t meant for sitting in front of a computer all day. They were built for movement—for work, for play! Get out there and do it, because, even though video games give us a chance to explore places we will never see and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes for a while, that can never compete with actually doing the exploring ourselves. Even if it’s in your own backyard, you might discover something you’ve never seen before and you might even be inspired to make up your own game with the neighborhood kids. You might think that playing games where you use your imagination to make up the story as you go is “kid stuff”. But guess what? That’s what writers do everyday! Whether they are making up stories for books, movies or tv, they are role-“playing”.

So how will you know that you’ve found what makes your heart sing? That you’ve done your job? Simple! Ask yourself these questions:

  • When I’m doing this particular activity, do I notice the time passing?
  • Do I feel excited when an idea to expand this particular activity strikes me?
  • Do I find myself daydreaming about doing this particular activity when faced with a boring stretch of time?
  • Do I try to find ways to do this activity when I’m supposed to be doing something else?
  • When I’m doing this activity, does it make me feel good about myself?

If you answered yes to all these questions, you’ve found what makes your heart sing! Do it because you love it. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not practical, or that it won’t get you any further in life and you should be taking an extra math class instead of spending time doing what makes your heart sing (blah, blah, blah). Dance! Write! Tumble! Throw a ball! Make up a silly song!

PLAY!

~Jennifer

Hapennycvr-forwebHapenny Magick can be found at Jennifer’s local bookstore Morgan Hill Books, B&N, and Amazon.

Maewyn Bridgepost, the tiniest Hapenny, a race of little people, spends her days, from breakfast to midnight nibble, scrubbing the hearth, slopping the pigs, and cooking for her guardian, Gelbane, who never spares a kind word. As if life as a servant isn’t bad enough, Mae learns that Gelbane is a troll and Hapennies are a troll delicacy. Years ago, a spell trapped Gelbane in Mae’s village. Ever since, Gelbane has been chiseling away the magic protections and now Mae’s home is destined to become a smorgasbord for half-starved trolls. When her best friend, Leif, goes missing, it will take all of Mae’s courage to friend her friend and protect her village. When pitchforks, sewing needles, pots, brooms and a little magick are the only weapons at hand, the hapennies discover that great victories can be accomplished no matter what size you are, but only if you stick together.

Carson-Jennifer-1Tangled Magick can be found at Jennifer’s local bookstore Morgan Hill Books, B&N, Amazon, or ask for either book in the series at your local bookstore or library.

A hapenny should live a simple life, but two years ago Maewyn Bridgepost discovered her magick and saved her village from a troll invasion. Now as an official Protector of the Wedge, Maewyn shares in the responsibility of keeping its residents safe.
When her mentor, the wizard Callum, leads a Great Expedition, Maewyn joins, knowing that to be the best protector she can be, she must be familiar with what the world holds beyond her tiny village.
When you are only 3 foot tall, the outside world can be a scary place, and the hapennies soon find themselves knee deep in troll trouble. Captured by a gang of trolls the group is taken to a broken-down castle to be servants to the troll queen, Huldfrejya. Unfortunately, Callum is cast into a deep slumber. It’s up to Maewyn to rescue herself and her friends before they are entangled by a powerful magickal enchantment that will turn them into slaves to the troll queen forever!

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Jennifer Carson grew up on a steady diet of Muppet movies and renaissance faires. Currently she is a mom, wife, author, designer and artist. She holds a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing and has published both fiction and nonfiction books and articles.
Besides telling tales, Jennifer likes to create fantasy creatures and characters and publishes her own sewing patterns. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, four boys and many furred and feathered friends.

Connect with Jennifer on thedragoncharmer.com, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter..

I <3 Educators Giveaway

Yesterday, Ms. Mason, the wonderful teacher of a second grade class I Skyped with last week tweeted this:

I’m not sure I can express what a thrill it is to see Carter’s smiling face. There is nothing I love more about being a writer than connecting with and inspiring young readers!

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to present at a local library, where I was able to spend a wonderful afternoon interacting with readers.

As I visit libraries and classrooms, in person or via Skype, I am constantly struck with the wonderful talent and dedication of librarians and teachers. Educators are my heroes!

That’s why I’m going to do a special giveaway, starting today, during National Library Week, just for them!

Teachers and librarians, enter on the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win:

  • A signed hardcover of Hook’s Revenge, published by Disney•Hyperion, for your classroom or library
  • A signed Advance Readers Copy of Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code, published by Disney•Hyperion, for your classroom or library (and read it before it releases in the fall!)
  • A classroom pack of signed bookmarks and postcards—one each for every class member, or up to 50 for your library
  • An in person, full day school visit (travel expenses not included) or an extended Skype workshop

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

Giveaway open to teachers and librarians in the United States and Canada. Homeschool groups are also eligible provided they have at least 25 students.

Free author visit (valued at $1000) scheduling will be based on author’s availability and is to be completed before the end of January 2016. Prize does not include travel expenses. Travel expenses from and back to Salem, Oregon are to be covered by the winning school. Full day visit includes one general assembly and up to three workshops, lunch with students, and a book signing period. (Heidi will provide a preorder form to send home with students and will work with your local independent bookseller to provide books.)

If the Skype option (valued at $200) is chosen, the lesson is not to exceed one hour. Scheduling will be based on author’s availability and is to be completed before the end of January 2016.

Workshops for in person or Skype visit may be chosen from the Schools, Homeschool Groups, and Libraries list found here.

Contest ends and a winner will be chosen May 15, 2015 at 12:00am PDT.

Swashbucklingly,

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P.S. Learn more about me and my books.

Hey Kid! with K. E. Ormsbee (THE WATER AND THE WILD)

hey kid

Twelve-Year-Old Me,

IttyBittyHey! You just got those braces taken off your four front teeth, didn’t you? AW YEAH. Relish the freedom, because you’re going back into a full set when you’re thirteen. And you won’t get out of them until you’re sixteen, because the gods are unkind and cursed you with your mom’s big teeth and your dad’s teensy mouth. For now, relish the freedom of your orthodontics-free year, and in the trying season to come, keep in mind that people will one day be totally unaware that your two front teeth were once perpendicular to each other.

Your best friend moved away last year. That sucks. But years from now, you’ll connect again on Facebook, and she will fill your newsfeed with hilarious status updates. Guess what? Your two current best friends are going to move away, too. That double sucks. But I promise they’ll make fantastic pen pals, and you will find some new friends who actually stay in your hometown for more than a couple years.

You started your first novel this year! Don’t try hiding that Word doc, I know the secret folder where you keep it stashed. I also know where you hide the hand-drawn map of the fantasy world a’brewing in your imagination. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you’ll abandon that book after about four chapters. The good news is you will keep on writing, and one day another fantasy novel of yours will be PUBLISHED and will include in its cast of characters a boy you’ve already invented and named Fife.

Your older sister can be a real pill, can’t she? She’s so unfair and never wants to hang out, and she thinks she’s so much cooler than you. But hey, she IS cooler than you. She’s seventeen, and she’s trying to figure out a lot of confusing crap in her life. So be a little less annoying, okay? And maybe resist the urge to dress up like Norman Bates and sneak into the bathroom when she’s showering whilst screeching the Psycho theme? Because that’s really creepy, and she will never let you live it down. Never. As it turns out, when you get older, the two of you will be good friends, and those pencil stabbing wars will be nothing more than a distant memory. Really. Miracles do happen.

Right now, you think a boyfriend is the Stupidest Thing Imaginable, and you don’t understand all your boy-crazy peers. And you know what? That’s totally cool. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad because you’re too busy pursuing your dreams to waste time on kissy face. There will be plenty of time for that later.

Yes, you will achieve your dream of living in England, and you will love every second of it. You will also realize it’s not socially acceptable to occasionally lapse into a British accent. You’ll live in Spain and learn how to speak decent Spanish, but it would’ve helped if you’d done a little more grunt work in school, so maybe spend more time practicing those boring conjugation exercises, okay? Unlike calculus, you actually WILL use that knowledge one day.

I’m not gonna lie, Kathryn, things are about to get super awkward. They’re going to get emotional and ugly and rough. You’re going to get very sick and visit dozens of doctors in an attempt to figure out what’s wrong. You’re going to be diagnosed with a chronic physical illness. You’re going to fight some inner-demons and be forced to confront your OCD head-on. You’re going to humiliate yourself on numerous occasions and repeatedly confirm that you’re terrible at volleyball.

But here’s the beautiful news: the best is yet to come. In the no-too-distant future, people will actually give you awards for being a nerd. You will meet crazy-amazing people and have all those long, deep, meaningful conversations you’re currently bundling up inside. You will walk where Roman emperors once promenaded and attend mind-blowing concerts and see the Alps and punt the River Cam. You will make friends who know you inside-out and love you just the same. You’ll realize that, once you’re not trapped there, your hometown can be a great place. And you’re going to make your dream come true: you’re going to become a published author.

Until then, keep walking to the beat of your own drum, you weirdo, you. I promise, it’s worth it. You’ve got this, Little K.

All the hugs,
Twenty-Five-Year-Old You

P.S. For the love of all things, WEAR MORE SUNSCREEN. You are not invincible like your friends. You are incapable of tanning. Slather on the 100 SPF and spare yourself much needless suffering.

P. P. S. Hope you like the enclosed gel pens and root beer-flavored Lip Smackers. Ha. I know. Of course you do.

 

WATER&WILDCOVERART

For as long as Lottie Fiske can remember, the only people who seem to care about her have been her best friend, Eliot, and the mysterious letter-writer who sends her birthday gifts. But now strange things and people are arriving on the island Lottie calls home, and Eliot’s getting sicker, with a disease the doctors have given up trying to cure. Lottie is helpless, useless, powerless.

And then a door opens in the apple tree.

Follow Lottie down through the apple roots to another world—a world of magic both treacherous and beautiful—in pursuit of the impossible: a cure for the incurable, a use for the useless, and protection against the pain of loss.

Find The Water and the Wild on Indiebound, Chronicle Books, B&N, and Amazon or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.

 

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

K. E. (aka Kathryn) Ormsbee grew up with a spaceship in her basement and went on many pretend (?) expeditions to the moon. The Water and the Wild is her first novel.

Connect with Kathryn keormsbee.com, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Hey Kid! with Nick Courage (THE LOUDNESS)

hey kid

Hey, Nicky!

I know, I know… you’re thinking about “officially” dropping the Y – you can do that after you read this letter. For now, you’re still Nicky.

HeyKid_NickCourageI’m you in exactly twenty years, by the way, so I know you’re feeling a little anxious about starting 7th grade – middle school! Just so you’re prepared, on your first day, this kid named Brendan is going to take your chair in the cafeteria, and he’s going to be a real jerk about it. Believe it or not, in a few years, when you get to high school, you’re going end up being friends with him.

This is embarrassing to talk about, but I feel like I should warn you: you’re going to fall pretty hard for a few girls in 7th grade. Even worse: they’re all going to be taller than you, or they’re going to have crushes on people that are, like, three years older. Or they’re going to be deeply in love with one-hundred-year-old celebrities like Anthony Kiedis (that guy from The Red Hot Chili Peppers – I know, it’s ridiculous).

You’re going to hear this a lot:

“You’re going to be really cute in, like, ten years, when you grow up.”

Well, guess what: in ten years, you’re going to be headed for New York City, where you’ll live with your best friend and four guitars and stacks and stacks of punk rock records. It’s literally going to be The Best… and it won’t even matter if those girls were right, because cute is such a boring thing to be. Everybody you’re friends with in ten years will know that it’s better to be interesting than cute.

So don’t quit guitar lessons, even if your friend Jon is better than you think you’ll ever be. Keep practicing the drums! Above all else, don’t stop skateboarding after you break your wrist. If Back to the Future has taught me anything, it’s that if you promise to keep skateboarding every day, I should be able to go outside and do a varial flip by the time I’m done writing this letter. Learning tricks is much harder when you’re in your thirties, so please, please, please do me that one favor.

And just so you know, despite everything, you are going to ask one of the tall girls to the 8th grade dance, and she’s going to say yes, and it’s going to be a terrible night, mainly because everyone’s going to be taking pictures of her being taller than you. Rest assured: in twenty years, the worst part about that night will be that you can’t find any of those pictures.

Before I forget! There will be people with beards at your high school. Students! It’s insane, and you’re going to wonder when you’ll be able to grow a beard like that. I’m sorry to say that the answer is pretty much never. For better or worse, you’re going to be pretty baby-faced for a while. Even in your thirties, people are going to ask where you go to school.

Just smile and say “Hogwarts.”

~Nick

TheLoudness_HeyKidHenry Long doesn’t have a heart. He doesn’t go to school. He doesn’t have a girlfriend. He doesn’t have a clue. Two of those things are about to change.

Since the Tragedies, Henry Long doesn’t have much: just an annoying low-watt buzz from his makeshift heart transplant, skinny arms, and a dusty library attic from which he charts the reconstruction of the Green Zone, the last habitable neighborhood of his ruined coastal city. While his parents work on making the Green Zone independent from a federal government that appears to have abandoned them, Henry’s feels similarly abandoned—that is, until he discovers a refugee artists’ colony called the Other Side. When the federales don’t take kindly to the Green Zone’s attempts at secession and kidnap Henry’s parents, Henry and his new renegade friends—including one very courageous girl with whom he’s shared one truly shocking kiss—are forced from the colorful streets and underground rock clubs of the Other Side to an overcrowded capital city on the verge of collapse.

As Henry uncovers more about the conflicting forces that run his world, he realizes that not everyone is who they seem to be—including himself. In The Loudness, readers will be propelled into an electrifying world where superheroes emerge from the unlikeliest people.

“I was recently persuaded by one who knows, that blurbs or cover quotes do no good, and I should not write them. So I will not be saying that The Loudness is a meticulously crafted and admirable book. Others may say it – I wouldn’t be surprised – but I say buy a copy, take it home and read it, and make up your own mind. What am I, a guru?” —Daniel Pinkwater

The Loudness can be found on Indiebound, Powell’s, Amazon, B&N or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Nick Courage is a New Orleans-born artist, musician, writer, and aspiring skateboarder. His work has recently appeared in Story, Full Stop, and The Paris Review Daily. He splits his time between Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, where he lives with his wife and two cats.

Connect with Nick on nickcourage.com, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Hey Kid! with Paige Britt (THE LOST TRACK OF TIME)

hey kid

Hey Kid!

I don’t know why I’m writing you this letter. I’m supposed to tell you what I think you’ll need to know to get through Paige_Britt_Donkeyyour tween years, but, honestly, no one can tell you anything. Not even me. Remember when Mom and Dad went on that weekend getaway when you were four, and they brought back little pewter brooches for you and your sisters? Each brooch was in the shape of an animal that was supposed to represent the personality of the girl it was given to. One sister got a unicorn and the other got a bird, but you . . . you got a donkey. A donkey. That’s how stubborn you were. Still are.

So what can I possibly say that you’ll listen to? The only thing I can say—which is what you’re going to do anyway—is, keep it up. Keep being that stubborn. It’s going to make all the difference. You’re quiet and sweet, and from a very small town. People—teachers, preachers, friends, co-workers, and even perfect strangers—are going to take one look at you and that Peter Pan collar you’re wearing, and think you don’t know your own mind. That you need to take their word for what life is all about.

You don’t.

Paige_Britt_tween

For a while, you try and go along with what everyone is telling you. You try and think what people want you to think and act like they want you to act. You’re going to try and do this longer and harder than you need to. This makes me sad, but I guess trying hard is all part of being stubborn. Eventually you stop. You just sit down, right where you are, and take a good long look at life as it is. Not as someone else told you it was. And guess what? . . . Nothing! I’m not going to tell you “what.” Because I would just be another person telling you how things are, instead of encouraging you to find out for yourself.

And so, little donkey, all I can say is go ahead. Put your foot down. Refuse to budge. Insist on going your own way. I’ll be right here waiting for you . . . off the beaten path. Because the path that catches your imagination and ignites your curiosity isn’t the beaten one — it’s the one “laid down in the walking.” And in the writing. For you, writing is about taking notes on what you notice when you stop and sit and refuse to budge. And what you notice is beyond belief and impossible to capture, but it’s worth giving it a try. Kind of like life.

Taking the path that’s laid down in the walking isn’t going to be easy. But the good news is that it doesn’t require you to do anything out of character. Going your own way doesn’t involve giving up being that quiet, sweet self. Turns out, real rebels wear Peter Pan collars.

—Me

LOST TRACK_cover_300dpiFind The Lost Track of Time on BookPeople, IndieBound, Amazon, B&N, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.

Penelope is running out of time!
 
She dreams of being a writer, but how can she pursue her passion when her  mother schedules every minute of her life? And how will she ever prove that writing is worthwhile if her mother keeps telling her to “get busy!” and “be more productive”?
 
Then one day, Penelope discovers a hole in her schedule–an entire day completely unplanned!–and she mysteriously falls into it. What follows is a mesmerizing journey through the Realm of Possibility where Penelope sets out to find and free the Great Moodler, the one person who may have the answers she seeks. Along the way, she must face an army of Clockworkers, battle the evil Chronos, take a daring Flight of Fancy, and save herself from the grip of time.
 
Brimming with clever language and masterful wordplay, The Lost Track of Time is a high-stakes adventure that will take you to a place where nothing is impossible and every minute doesn’t count–people do!

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Paige Britt grew up in a small town with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. She studied journalism in college and theology in graduate school, but never stopped reading children’s books for life’s most important lessons. THE LOST TRACK OF TIME is her debut novel.
Connect with Paige on PaigeBritt.com, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Hey Kid! with Bryce Leung and Kristy Shen (LITTLE MISS EVIL)

hey kid

Hi there 12-year-old Bryce and 12-year-old Kristy,

portaits_12yo

Bryce, I know that right now it’s an absolute nightmare being in that head of yours and you don’t know why. Unfortunately, in your time period, ADHD isn’t a thing yet, and Ritalin hasn’t been invented, so you’ll just have to muddle through with that messed up brain for a few more years until everything just sorts itself out. And Kristy, I know you’re probably wondering why you’re wasting time talking to us when you could be studying for the next 6 months worth of tests and obsessing over that last A+ you got when you thought you should have gotten an A++, but we’re here to tell you that marks aren’t everything and you’ve got to learn to…

Dang. Kristy just fainted.

OK, Bryce, stop spinning in a circle and help your future wife.

Is she OK? Can she sit up? How many fingers am I holding up? What? NO, this won’t be on a test later! What’s the matter with…

Ahem. Right. Encouragement. OK, let’s try that again…

Bryce, we know you’re probably confused and frustrated by all these people trying to “label” you. You’re probably even more frustrated that the government doctor put a big red “Mentally Challenged,” stamp on your file. He was wrong, but in his defense, you COULD have just answered his questions instead of trying to gnaw his ankle off like a rabid, insane hyena. That’s on you, little buddy.

And Kristy, we know you’re frustrated too, but for the opposite reason. Your parents picked out a label for you before you were born, and that it was “Academic Over-Achiever, Eventual Engineer” without even asking you. No, it doesn’t fit, and no, it’s not fair that your entire life seems to be planned out for you for the next twenty years.

But to both of you, we’re happy to tell you that both of you will eventually shed those labels you didn’t ask for and didn’t want. Bryce, you’re going to end up excelling in school, eventually graduating with a Masters of Computer Engineering degree from the most prestigious university in Canada. You’ll even get the girl in the end, which I’m SURE is something even your wildest fantasy couldn’t have predicted. And Kristy, you’re going to bust through your label and keep shooting for the stars. You’re not going to accept the hum-drum life of an office drone and you’re going to pursue your dream of being a writer with the intensity of a thousand suns until you finally pull it off.

You know, it’s too bad that our teachers and parents put so much effort into trying to label us. It was their way of compartmentalizing us, classify us. Figure out which box we fit in so they knew how to deal with us. What a useless, pointless waste of time. All that achieved was making us feel bad about ourselves, and in the end they weren’t even right!

Do yourself a favor. Next time someone tries to label you, see it as a challenge. “You think I’m just a nerd? Well, I’ll show you!” Next time someone tries to tell you what you can and can’t do, prove them wrong. And if anyone EVER tries to stick you in a box, you punch your way out the side and never look back.

~Bryce and Kristy

P.S. To celebrate our LITTLE MISS EVIL book launch on March 10, 2015, we’re hosting a Super-villain Super Giveaway! You could win an Amazon Kindle Fire HD, a $50 Amazon gift card, as well as signed copies of LITTLE MISS EVIL. Click here to enter.

Little Miss EvilFind Little Miss Evil on IndieBound, B&N, Amazon, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.

When you live in a volcano, ride to school in a helicopter, and regularly see your dad on the news with the caption “EVIL GENIUS” underneath his picture, it takes a lot to rattle you.

Until you get a message that says: We have your father. Deliver the NOVA in 24 hours or we will kill him.

What’s a NOVA you ask? It’s a nuclear bomb capable of turning the city into a radioactive mushroom cloud, and ever since Fiona’s dad built it, it’s caused nothing but grief. But telling him to stop building weapons is like telling Michelangelo to stop painting.
And that’s why thirteen-year-old Fiona has a flamethrower strapped to her arm. After all, who’d mess with a girl who can throw fireballs?

Apparently, these guys.

Big mistake.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Bryce and Kristy are a tag-team writing duo with too many voices in their heads. As engineers living in Toronto, they can’t be safely contained by mere cubicle walls, and therefore spend every waking moment writing to keep the crazy from leaking out at the office.
Connect with them on kristyandbryce.com, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Hey Kid! with Abi Elphinstone (THE DREAMSNATCHER)

hey kid

Dear 8-year-old Abi,

It’s 30-year-old Abi here. Yup, you’re still here. The monster that you thought lived in the attic at home didn’t actually gobble you up – even though you probably deserved it once or twice. I’m sorry to say that 30-year-old you is no wiser than 8-year-old you (you’re still headstrong, impulsive and lacking in common sense). But for what it’s worth, and with the power of hindsight, I’m going to answer ten of the questions that are whizzing around your head right now.

Abi by sea

  1. Why is my hair so knotty? Trust me, Abi, knots in your hair is the very least of your worries. I’m afraid you accidentally dye your hair pink the day before senior school starts and when, weeks later, you try to go for the Gwyneth Paltrow Sliding Doors style, you dodge that completely and end up looking like Dawson from Dawson’s Creek. So chill out about the knots; it gets worse…
  2. Will I form a secret club soon? Yes, together with two of your best friends, you’ll form BULC (CLUB backwards). It will be like Just William’s gang but for girls. You’ll have purple tracksuits, secret passwords, funky handshakes and you’ll get into trouble a lot.
  3. Why am I so bad at Maths? Don’t take it to heart when your brain freezes and you can’t add up the simplest sums. You’re not stupid. You’re actually dyslexic and it’s just that your brain processes numbers in a different way from a lot of other children. It’s slow to count but fast to build stories. And that’s fine.
  4. Will boarding school be scary? You’re going to have the time of your life there. You’ll have dorm feasts, you’ll run away with a group of friends in the middle of the night into the woods, you’ll play rounders for Scotland and you’ll make lifelong friends.
  5. Do I get any cool pets any time soon? You get two mice, which you pretentiously call Mozart and Beethoven. But you lose interest in them when a black rabbit called Shadow comes along. You lose in her, too, when she bites you so hard you have to wear ski gloves to handle her. You’re still waiting for a snow leopard. Ever hopeful.
  6. Is growing up going to hurt? There are times when it’s really going to hurt. Your parents aren’t going to stay together and though you think you can stop that happening aged 8, you can’t. This is something that can’t be fixed, Abi, and it’s not your fault. Though it’s going to knock you down for a while, you’ll get back up again and fight. And out of all the pain, good things will happen. For one, you’ll realise you have family and friends who will stick by you no matter what.
  7. Is it possible to stay 8-years-old forever? You’ll be pleased to know that your mental game is still pitched at 8-years-old. You had a giggling fit in front of twenty 15-year-old pupils you were teaching the other day, you wear a lot of animal onesies and you love swings so much you bought one to go inside your house last week.
  8. Am I going to be famous when I’m older? No. But you’re going to bounce on a bouncy castle with Charlie from Busted. And Westley from A Princess Bride is going to hug you. Three times.
  9. Am I going to present Blue Peter when I’m a grown up? You haven’t presented on that show (yet) but you did as your mum told you – you dreamed BIG – and now you’re a published children’s author.
  10. Do I still have my teddy aged 30? Yes, you do. It even comes on your honeymoon with you.

Yes, 8-year-old Abi, you can go back to your tree house now. Keep dreaming magical thoughts, don’t worry about the times you walk out of class with your skirt tucked into your knickers and know that the adventures you’re having right now – jumping into icy rivers, searching for hidden waterfalls on the moors, building dens in the woods – are going to happen all over again in your debut children’s book, The Dreamsnatcher.

~Abi

Dreamsnatcher Final High Res Cover

Find The Dreamsnatcher in the UK on Hive, Waterstones, WH Smith, and Amazon, worldwide on The Book Depository, or request it in bookstores and libraries near you.

Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. Because Moll is more important than she knows…The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure. Perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling, Michelle Harrison and Eva Ibbotson.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher in Africa, Berkshire and London. THE DREAMSNATCHER is her debut novel and when she’s not writing about Moll and Gryff, she runs her children’s books blog www.moontrug.com.

Connect with Abi on abielphinstone.com, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

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