Tag Archives: guest author

Stealing Snow Blog Tour Guest Post

Danielle Paige is no stranger to putting new twists on old stories.  Her Dorothy Must Die series took readers back to the land of Oz, to a land where Dorothy returned and ruined everything.  In Danielle’s new book, Stealing Snow, she shows us the origins of The Snow Queen.  Here is the blurb:

9781408872932Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave .
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate .

Danielle joins me today as part of her Stealing Snow Blog Tour to talk about her Top 5 fairy tale retellings.

cinder

1.Cinder/ Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

She had me at cyborg Cinderella and kept me with imaginative world building and a mashup of other fairy tales.  I devoured the whole series, and I forever credit her for inspiring me to take Dorothy Must Die as far as the Yellow Brick Road would take me.

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2. Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

To a writer, Shahrzad is the ultimate heroine. She is literally saving her own life, not with magic, but with the power of her storytelling. Every night she must tell her story to Khalid or she will be killed. The sequel, The Rose and the Dagger, is sitting on top of my TBR pile.

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3. The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Not a straight up retelling, more a reimagining.  Chainani treats us to the school where Malificents and Cinderellas are made. I was delighted as Sophie and Agatha find themselves in the “wrong” classes.

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4. A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Beauty and the Beast is a forever fave, and Sarah is such a master of action and romance.

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5. Wicked by Gregory McGuire

Wicked showed every reteller how it is done. Setting the bar and exploring the world of Oz way before my Dorothy stepped onto the Yellow Brick Road.

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Bonus: The Descendants series by Melissa de la Cruz

All the Disney feels. The second generation of villains and royals is just perfection.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige is out now from Bloomsbury.

 

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Noisy Nights Blog Tour with Fleur McDonald

Noisy Nights is a delightful new picture book written by Fleur McDonald and illustrated by Annie White.  You can read my review here on the blog and enter to win a copy of the book.

I have the pleasure of being joined by Fleur McDonald today as part of her Noisy Nights Blog Tour. Fleur has grown up on farms in Australia and she draws inspiration for her books from her experiences.  This certainly shines through in Noisy Nights, which is all about a noisy farm at night.  Read on to find out why Fleur decided to write Noisy Nights.

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There is nothing more gorgeous than hearing a child giggle. For me, hearing that child laugh while reading a book, is even better. After all, something has really resonated with them to make it happen.

As a kid, I spent HOURS reading. Apparently (and I can’t claim this is true as I don’t remember, but Nana says it was, so it must be!) after my first day at kindy, I stormed home to my Nana’s place, flung myself into the old Smokers-Bow Chair (which we grandchildren called ‘The Story Telling Chair), she had next to fire place and groaned: ‘they didn’t teach me to read!’

That was the start of a love of reading that I’ve never lost.

Mum used to tell me, she’d hear me laughing in my bedroom and sneak down to see why … I would always be reading.

In 2004 I was told my son was ‘at high-risk of autism.’ I didn’t know what autism was and started researching it from that day. As time went on Hayden began to show more and more signs that this was the case. During his year at kindy, one of the reports I kept getting back was his concentration span was very limited. I wondered what I could do to increase it.

For a few weeks I watched Hayden and it became clear he loved being out in the sheep yards. He loved the dogs, pet calves and lambs; any animal really. (I do need to mention here, that it didn’t mean he was good with them, but he loved being with them.) He also didn’t sleep at night.

I decided to try something I hadn’t done since I was at school and that was to write a story. The story had to be about something he could relate to, understand and liked.

It took me quite a while and I struggled with the rhyming and rhythm. Poor Hayden had several versions tried out on him. But he sat still for longer and he laughed every time I read it to him.

That made my heart very happy.

Having been involved in the agricultural industry for more than twenty years, it frightens me how little some children understand about where their food comes from and how country people live. From here on in, I’d love to be involved in educating kids through stories – the emphasis being on STORIES.

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Guest Author – Juliet Jacka on Frankie Potts

Juliet Jacka is the author of the fantastic new Frankie Potts series, about an inquisitive girl detective.  The series is full of excitement, adventure and lots of fun.  You can read my review of Juliet’s new series here on the blog.

Juliet has very kindly written a special guest post for My Best Friends Are Books all about her Frankie Potts series and how it came to life.

How to turn five crazy words into a book

My new chapter-book series about Frankie Potts, amateur detective, and her clever dog Sparkplug burst into life thanks to an exercise I did at a writing course. Our teacher asked us to string together a bunch of unrelated words into some sort of story.

I wish I could remember exactly what those five words were. But I’ve lost the bit of paper. Although I think they might have been something like:

Jam
Spectacles
Bobbydazzler
Slater
Apricot

Or possibly something else altogether. The point being, those five crazy words made my brain crank and whir, as it tried to string those horribly unrelated things together into some sort of something … and when I tried that out popped the character Frankie Potts.

Although, initially, she was a he — Arty Potts — until my story grew and changed after I fell in love with Arty … then Frankie … and started turning the 500 word exercise into a fully fledged book.

So, why don’t you give it a go? You might surprise yourself and accidentally write a book. All you need to do is pick five words, then try and smoosh them up together somehow into a 500 word story.

If you’re after crazy five-word inspiration, give these ones a go (they’re from my first two Frankie books, out now).

Five words from Frankie Potts and the Sparkplug Mysteries

Dirigible
Skateboard
Tattoo
Circus
Dog

Five words from Frankie Potts and the Bikini Burglar

Skull
Borneo
Python
Gobstopper
Kangaroo

Now go get crazy word story writing!

Find out more about me and my books.

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Guest Post: Peter Millett on Johnny Danger

Peter Millett is the author of the funny, action-packed secret agent series, Johnny Danger.  So far there are two books in the series, D.I.Y. Spy and Lie Another Day.  With the third book, Spy Borg, being released in September Peter wants to give readers a special preview of the cover.  Peter joins me today to talk about why he created the Johnny Danger series and gives us a sneak peak of the Spy Borg cover.

 

Johnny Danger is turning into one of the most fun projects I have ever worked on in my career as a children’s author.

I’ve created the series with two audiences in mind: students and teachers. Firstly, students aged 8 – 12 years will enjoy the slapstick comedy, outrageous pranks, spectacular action sequences and unpredictable story twists that Johnny Danger and Penelope Pounds experience as teen spies working for MI6. Secondly, teachers and parents will appreciate the fun I am poking at the James Bond spy series and enjoy the subtle sense of hidden humour that is at play in the background. I am an eternal prankster and I have purposely littered the book with all sorts of comedy traps to catch readers of all ages off-guard.

My wife has taught Year 6 students for over 20 years and I am more than aware that teachers re-read certain stories in their classrooms each year and that they want these stories to maintain a fresh and energetic feel over multiple readings. The Johnny Danger series has been created for such purposes.

The comedy is broad and will appeal equally to both boys and girls. I’ve gone to great lengths to construct well-planned plots that end satisfactorily and unexpectedly. I’ve also made sure that the scatological humour used in the books doesn’t overtake the storytelling.

Additionally, books one and two contain DIY spy codes that can be emulated in the classroom by students. The first book uses humorous anagrams as the basis of an intricate software hacking system, and the second book uses upside down calculator spelling words to hide vital codes. Both these DIY codes can be created by student readers with everyday school or household resources.

We live in an increasingly multimedia-orientated world and I have decided to embrace a number of new technologies to help connect readers with the Johnny Danger series.

The digital trailer for book one “DIY Spy” uses state-of-the-art 2D animation to project the spirit of the main character:

The trailer for book two ‘Lie Another Day” uses a mixture of live-action footage and green screen technologies to display the off-the-wall comedic moments of the book as well as hinting at the plot:

 

Finally I made an appearance on national television so that readers could hear first-hand what they were in for if they read Johnny Danger.

I hope the Johnny Danger series is remembered as one of the funniest sets of children’s books ever to be released down under. I also hope that reluctant readers find them a gateway to discovering a love of comedy fiction.

As a ‘special feature’ to this blog I’m including the world premiere of the cover of book three “Spy Borg”.

Book 3

(Please note that this blog will self-destruct in five minutes time!)

Pete

 

You can find me on:

Website www.petermillett.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeterMillettBooks/

Twitter: @petermillett

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Guest Author: Melinda Szymanik on A Winter’s Day in 1939

Today I’m joined by the wonderful Melinda Szymanik, author of the powerful new book, A Winter’s Day in 1939.  Based on her father’s experiences during World War II, A Winter’s Day in 1939 is a story of family, the harsh realities of war, and the fight for survival against the odds. Melinda has written a really interesting post for My Best Friends Are Books about why and how she wrote A Winter’s Day in 1939.

Why and How I wrote A Winter’s Day in 1939

When the Soviet soldiers come and order them out, Adam and his family have no idea where they are going or if they will ever come back.  The Germans have attacked Poland and the world is at war. Boarding a cattle train Adam and his family embark on a journey that will cover thousands of miles and several years, and change all their lives forever. And mine too. Because Adam’s story, the story told in my new novel A Winter’s Day in 1939, is very much my Dad’s story.

I often heard fragments of this story from my dad when I was growing up.  It was shocking, and sad, and amazing.  My Dad’s family was forced out of their home and taken to a labour camp in Russia. It was freezing cold, and many people died from disease or starvation. Even when the Soviets finally let them go, they spent weeks travelling around the USSR , were made to work on Soviet farms and were still hungry and often sick, with no idea of where they might end up next.  As a child growing up in a peaceful place like New Zealand it was hard to imagine the real dangers and terrible conditions my father experienced.

I didn’t get to know the full story until I was grown up with children of my own and was regularly writing stories for children.  I wrote a short story, also called A Winter’s Day in 1939, based on a single event I knew fairly well  from my Dad‘s childhood – when Soviet Soldiers first come to order them off their farm, the only home my father had known up till that point in his life. The story was published in The Australian School Magazine.  I showed the short story to the publishers Scholastic who liked it too. They wondered if I could turn it in to a novel.  This was a chance to tell my father’s story. By now I knew it was an important story that should be shared

Luckily my Dad had made notes about his life during World War Two; about twenty pages all typed up.  However I know people’s real lives don’t always fit into the framework of a novel and I knew I would have to emphasize some things and maybe leave other things out.

I read and researched to add the right details to the story. And asked my parents lots of questions. How cold was it in Poland in January 1940? Who or what were the NKVD? What were the trains like? What are the symptoms of typhoid? How do you make your own skis? Some information was hard to find. Some of the places that existed in the 1940s aren’t there anymore. And people didn’t keep records about how many people were taken to the USSR from Poland or what happened to particular individuals. But what I wanted to give readers most of all was a sense of how it felt to live that life.  So this then is the story of a twelve year old Polish boy in the USSR during World War 2 that all started on A Winter’s Day in 1939.

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Guest Author: Barbara Else on The Queen and the Nobody Boy

I’m very lucky today to be joined by New Zealand author Barbara Else.  As well as writing novels for adults and editing several short story collections for children, Barbara is the author of the magical adventure stories set in the land of Fontania, The Traveling Restaurant and The Queen and the Nobody Boy.  Barbara has written a wonderful post all about The Queen and the Nobody Boy and her wonderful new character, Hodie.

 

When you start work on a new story, usually you decide on the main character at once. But sometimes you might find your first choice isn’t the right one. It’s perfectly ok to change your mind.

This happened to me with my latest novel the second tale of Fontania, The Queen and the Nobody Boy. The obvious choice for main character was the Queen.  In the first tale, her brother has a series of adventures when he turns twelve. I thought that when she turned twelve, little Sibilla would have adventures of her own.  Because I didn’t want to simply repeat the same sort of story, I came up with the ‘nobody boy’ Hodie, who is the odd-job boy at the Grand Palace. I thought that I would use him as the main character for some sections and Sibilla in others.  The technical way to put this is, I would use two point of view characters.

Being a queen, Sibilla has some big problems – people gossip about her and keep expecting her to do great things. That can be very hard for a person to cope with. But when I wrote about her in her point of view she sometimes sounded too sugary (argh!). Sometimes she sounded like a spoiled brat (double argh!). I also worried that because she’s already a queen, readers might have thought, What does she have to complain about? Did I think she was sugary or a spoiled brat? Definitely not. But writing from her point of view didn’t show her in the right way.

For me, the passion and grip of story come from the troubled heart of the character. In his sections of the story Hodie was working well as a character in this way. So I rewrote the whole story in his point of view, in his thoughts, in the way he sees everything (even though it is 3rd person). Through his eyes, Sibilla began to shine. She became more interesting and much braver.  She became more vulnerable and charming in her own often very funny way. The whole story raced on much more smoothly.  That’s part of the fun of writing – gradually figuring the best way to tell your stories.

You can read my review of The Queen and the Nobody Boy here on the blog.

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Guest Author: Joseph Delaney’s Top 5 Scariest Creatures in the Spook’s Stories

Joseph Delaney is the author of one of my favourite series, The Spook’s Apprentice.  It’s seriously creepy and full of all sorts of horrible creatures.  As the Spook’s Apprentice, Thomas has to keep the County safe from the evil that lurks in the dark.  The latest book in the series, Spook’s: Slither’s Tale, has just been released, and to celebrate Joseph has joined me today to talk about his Top 5 scariest creatures in the Spook’s stories.

The Haggenbrood

This creature is used in ritual combat to determine the outcome of disputes between citizens of Valkarky (See ‘Slither’).  It has three selves which share a common mind and they are, for all intents and purposes, one creature. It is fast and ferocious with fearsome teeth and claws.

Grimalkin

This is the witch assassin of the Malkin Clan (See ‘The Spook’s Battle’ and also ‘I am Grimalkin’). She is deadly with blades and stores powerful dark magic in the thumb-bones that she cuts from her dead enemies with her snippy scissors in order to wear around her neck.

The Bane

This creature from ‘The Spook’s Curse’ is trapped behind a silver gate in a labyrinth of dark tunnels under Priestown Cathedral. It is a shape-shifter with a terrible power; the Bane is able to press a victim so hard that his blood and bones are smeared into the cobbles.

Golgoth

This ‘Lord of Winter’ from ‘The Spook’s Secret’ has the power to plunge the world into another Ice Age. If summoned from the dark he can freeze you solid and shatter you into pieces like an ice stalactite falling on to a slab of rock.

Morwena

She is the most powerful of the water witches (See The Spook’s Mistake). Fathered by the Fiend, she has a blood-filled eye which is usually closed, the lids fixed together with a sharp thin bone. But anyone she gazes upon with that eye is immediately paralyzed and she is able to drink that victim’s blood at her leisure.

Best wishes,
Joseph Delaney

Get a copy of the latest book in the Spook’s Apprentice series, Slither’s Tale, from your library or bookshop now.

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Guest Author: Cristy Burne on her Top 5 demons

Today I’m joined by the wonderful Cristy Burne, author of the fantastic spooky, adventure series, Takeshita Demons.  Cristy tells us about her Top 5 demons from her series so far.

Demons. I love them. I also love monsters, mythical creatures, spooky feelings and freaky things that go bump in the night. Woah. I get shivers just thinking about them.

My Takeshita Demons books are overflowing with spooky monsters and demons from Japanese folklore, called yōkai. Anyone who’s heard of Pokemon, played with Yu-Gi-Oh, read manga or even bought a lotto ticket has probably encountered a yōkai. (Remember that lucky cat with the beckoning paw?) There are hundreds of yōkai and they’ve been popular in Japan for hundreds of years. Some are hugely famous, like the nine-tailed fox or the shape-shifting tanuki, but others are obscure and strange. My books feature lots of different demons, but here are my top five from the series so far:

1. Akaname (The Filth Licker) 垢嘗

The demon you really want for a friend. He’s loyal and funny and he loves to clean, so you don’t have to. In traditional tales, he comes out at night to lick dirty bathrooms till they sparkle… In my books, he also cleans laundries, kitchens, dirty faces, you name it. Plus his super-sensitive tongue can taste out clues. He’s like a detective in a frog’s skin.

2. Sagari (Hanging horse-head) 下がり

This demon gets a prize for Weird Monster of the Year: It’s basically a horse’s head that floats around upside-down, has electric nose hairs, sharp teeth, and a habit of dropping on you unexpectedly. St-range! And dangerous!

3. Kodama (Tree spirit) 木魂

I love big, old trees, and in Japanese culture, these ancient trees are often home to kodama (http://hyakumonogatari.com/category/magical-tree-stories/), spirits who mimic the sounds of the forest and cause echoes to bounce through the woods. A kodama’s tree trunk is tied with a sacred rope, called a shimenawa. If you cut down such a tree, you’re in for some very bad luck.

4. Noppera-bō (Faceless ghost) のっぺら坊

This shape-shifting yōkai can wipe features from its face like words from a whiteboard. The noppera-bō can take the shape of any person: it could be your best friend, your mum, your teacher… There’s no way to tell unless you look in a mirror: a noppera-bō’s reflection will have no face! So, is the person sitting next to you really who you think they are?

5. Betobeto-san (Mr Footsteps) べとべとさん

Almost everyone has had the feeling they’re being followed. Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is…you ARE being followed. The good news is, you’re being followed by Betobeto-san, a sort of oversized, invisible marshmallow on legs. He eats the sound of your footsteps, but don’t worry: he’s quite shy and not at all dangerous (unless you’re allergic to marshmallows?).

Thanks Cristy for your wonderful post about your Top 5 demons!  I highly recommend Cristy’s Takeshita Demons series, especially if you like spooky, adventure stories.  You can learn more about Cristy and her books on her blog at http://cristyburne.wordpress.com Here are some links to some of the cool stuff on her blog:

Monster Matsuri: http://cristyburne.wordpress.com/monster-matsuri/
Takeshita Demons series:
http://cristyburne.wordpress.com/takeshita-demons-series/
Free activities http://cristyburne.wordpress.com/free-stuff/
Monster memory game http://cristyburne.com/game/game.html

Don’t forget to enter our Takeshita Demons Monster Prize Competition for your chance to win a $50 book pack from Walker Books Australia.

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Guest Author: Glenn Wood talks about The Brain Sucker

When I first came up with the idea for ‘The Brain Sucker’ it was quite different.  For a start it wasn’t called “The Brain Sucker’, it was called ‘The Manners Thief’.  This was an idea I’d been mulling over ever since I’d seen a really badly behaved kid running riot at my local supermarket (‘The frozen pea thrower’ was another working title).   It was as if the child had no manners at all and I wondered if someone had stolen them.  Then I started to notice more badly behaved children and decided there was definitely a manners thief on the loose.

From there I had to work out just how the manners were stolen and I came up with the idea of a villain who sucked the manners straight out of children’s heads for his own nefarious purposes.  Clearly he needed a machine that would do this and the brain sucking machine was born.

Now I had an idea and a villain with an evil plan.  Next I needed someone to stop him and I knew that would need to be someone who was really polite and not scared of a challenge.  Callum formed quickly as did his disability because it automatically made him a kid used to adversity with plenty of guts and determination.  Once I knew Callum would be in a wheelchair it opened up lots of possibilities for his friend Sophie to exercise her crazy inventive mind to ‘trick it out’.

Jinx was a character I’d been thinking about for some time.  I love the idea of the world’s unluckiest boy and he is based on me as a kid (and many would argue, as an adult).  I’ve always been accident prone and susceptible to bad luck.  He was easy to write!

Once the story was written my very smart publisher and editor asked if we could have the machine sucking more than just manners out of the kids – it would be much more evil if Lester sucked the goodness out of them.  I agreed and ‘the Brain Sucker’ started to take shape.

Writing Lester and his dumb but dangerous henchmen Darryl and Parson was lots of fun.  Lester is clearly insane but he’s also a twisted genius, my favourite kind of villain!  His plans are grandiose and a bit far farfetched, but I love evil doers who think on a grand scale, which is why I have always loved the villains in James Bond films!

My top five kid’s villains in no particular order would be:

  • Voldemort (of course)
  • Scar (The Lion King)
  • Megamind (best comic villain)
  • Principal Agatha Trunchbull (Roald Dahl’s Matilda)
  • Count Olaf

You can win a signed copy of Glenn’s fantastic book, The Brain Sucker, right here on the blog.  Check out the competition post and tell me about your world domination plan to get in the draw.

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