A Book Blessing

Hi Friends,

So my little brother is FINALLY having a baby! I say finally because my husband and I are about four years ahead in the baby game, and we’ve been watching him and my sister-in-law enjoying all that kid-free freedom and being more than a little jealous.  But his time has come! And we couldn’t be happier about it.

They aren’t finding out what they are having, so the theme for their shower was a little tricky.  We settled on a Bee theme, because yellow is pretty neutral and we love a good theme.

We were a little worried because we had knocked their bridal shower so far out of the freaking park that we’d set a standard for ourselves that was a little high.  That theme was April showers, and it almost broke pinterest.

How was that for some bridal shower eye candy?  Also, can we have a moment for me and that itty bitty baby?

That’s my oldest at about a month old. I had no flying clue what I was doing.  And I had to do an outfit change during the shower because, well, for such a tiny little thing, she pretty much ruined a dress…and some carpet. Thankfully I happened to have the exact same dress in two colors, and had brought both because I couldn’t decide which one to wear.

Anyways, back the present and our Bee shower.

The problem was that we didn’t have quite as beautiful of a venue for this shower, but in the words of Tim Gunn, we were going to just have to make it work.  And we did! (It took lots of hours and three people staying there until almost midnight the night before. But gosh darn it, those onesies on the wall looked great.)

But this post isn’t so much about a cute baby shower, it’s about books. Shocking I know.

It has become a tradition at our family showers (both bridal and baby) to say a blessing over the bride or mommy to be.  I’m not sure who started this, but I know one of my aunts did an amazing one where she gave everyone at the shower a hammer and talked about being tools in God’s hands. I think we’ve all been trying to top that one ever since.

Well my mom was knee deep in Bee themed stuff, and since I have three little kids I’m about as much help as tornado these days, so I offered to take the blessing off her plate. I do write for a living after all. This was firmly in my ball park.  I kept meaning to write the blessing for the weeks leading up to the shower, but life and books and kids kept getting in my way. Plus, I wasn’t exactly sure where to start.

Fast forward to a week before the shower, and I was filling my amazon cart with a few last minute “she needs to own these” books for the shower, and I thought, why not do a BOOK BLESSING?

So while I baked the last two loaves of sour dough bread I’d promised to bring with for the fourth of July celebrations, I wrote a book blessing, and hit submit on a helfty order of Amazon Prime books.  Bam. Book Blessing.

I practiced it on my mom while my daughter (who was thrilled that she was going to get to help host the shower with us) filled the gift boxes with lemon drops. It made her cry. I had a winner.

So, in case you are looking for a cute way to bless someone about to enter the trenches of motherhood, I thought I’d share this here. It is easy to tweak depending on what books or message you want to give your mama to be.  What I love about it is that it will stick around for years and years to come.

With that in mind, try to choose “forever” kind of books. (So no “character” books like Daniel Tiger etc.). Try to pick books you could see them handing down to their grandkids someday. Think timeless.

 

A few tips:

Have your books in order.

I cut up the chunks of the blessing that pertained to each book and taped them inside.

Have someone grab your four year old so you don’t have to worry about them pulling your dress up for all to see mid-blessing.  Sigh.

Here is the blessing if you want to copy and paste it for your own use:

Cara,

You are about to embark on one of the most incredible journeys of your life. It is the adventure to top all adventures. The challenge to top all future challenges, and the most important thing you will do on this earth.

No pressure.

But in all seriousness, the stakes in this motherhood game are high and you’re playing for keeps. I thought about this blessing many many times over the last few months, and I kept falling into the bad habit of wanting to warn you about how exhausted you were going to be, or how utterly wrecked your house would become, or the fact that potty training a two year old could literally bring you to your knees, and then somehow I was supposed to also convey to you that all of that would be so incredibly worth it. That it will be by far the hardest thing you will ever do, but it would be the thing you would willingly choose to do over and over again without a second’s hesitation.

I read once that raising children is like climbing Everest. The climb is hard and backbreaking at times, and you don’t know if you are going to make it to the top, but Gosh, the views are breathtaking. And just like Everest, as soon as you reach the top you start planning a second climb to experience it all again. That’s how second and third children happen in case you were wondering. But I decided that this blessing should be one that you can remember long after the shiny wrapping paper has been thrown away and the toys and clothes have been worn and played with, and I only know of one thing that sticks around for years and years throughout a child’s life. Books.

So, Cara, I am going to give you a book blessing, so that maybe someday, when you are utterly exhausted on a level you thought could only be achieved by ultra marathon runners and Sherpas climbing Everest, and your child begs you for just one teeny tiny extra extra book pretty pretty please with sugar on top, you can grab one of these and remember that after all the tears and spilled food and tantrums of the day, that you are on your ultimate adventure, the adventure of motherhood.

Cara.

May your baby always be to you The Most Magnificent Thing. You may not have met your baby yet, or know if it’s a boy or a girl, but God has known that child for a long time. He knew exactly who he should give you and Aric as your first baby to make your family the best it could possibly be.

 

This book will help you teach your child that making mistakes is just a part of the road to success.

When you hear that first cry and meet that sweet little one for the first time, you will realize that you already love all of baby’s nose to toes. That every part of them was fearfully and wonderfully made, and after you hold that little one in your arms, you will no longer question miracles, because you helped bring one into the world.

This book will make your baby giggle and squeal and give you lots of opportunities to tickle their tummy.

Remember that this motherhood thing doesn’t come with an instruction manual, so give yourself a lot of grace along the way. Especially when baby number two or three comes along, there will be a point where you look around you and wonder how you ended up Where the Wild Things Are. But remember, you can always tame those wild things by yelling BE STILL and taming them with the magic trick of staring into their eyes without blinking once, and they will be frightened and call you the most wild thing of all. And if that doesn’t work, put them to bed early. They can’t tell time yet.

And remember that this motherhood journey has a co-pilot, and that Aric will not be The invisible boy. Give him the chance to change the diapers and rock the baby when he or she is fussy. Remember that his parenting won’t look exactly like yours, and that’s not just okay, that’s a wonderful wonderful blessing. And also remember that it’s completely acceptable to be as loud as possible getting in and out of bed when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night. He may not be able to feed the baby like you can, but he should know that you’re up. This is your God given right.  

This book will help teach baby VW that it’s important to be friends with everyone, and that no one should be treated like they are invisible.

I am almost at the end of my book blessing, but I want you to remember, that you will make mistakes on this journey as well. You’ll lose your temper over something dumb or forget pajama day at school, and that it is incredibly important to remember what happens After The Fall. That we are often brought to our knees in motherhood because God is teaching us to rely on him, not on our own strength. That HE is the one who gave you this child, and that you need to trust him in all things, including pajama day.

This book will help teach baby VW that it doesn’t matter how often you fall, what matters is how often you get back up.

And Just In Case You Ever Wonder about the most important lesson you will ever teach your baby, it is that they know and love Jesus. That they see through your life and Aric’s life what it is to walk the walk. As my mom used to tell me and Aric, I want to see you again someday in Heaven. I want you to be there, no matter what. Live your life accordingly. So, if you do nothing else, make sure that heaven accepts them when it’s time for them to go home.

This book is one of my favorite ways to teach that oh so valuable lesson.

So in closing, Cara, you got this. You have an army of Christian women in this room praying for you and for the blessing that you are carrying. That is the magic of a baby shower. It isn’t the gifts, although those are wonderful, it is that this is the last time all of your people will come together like this to shower you will blessings in one location. And that can be sad, but know that everyone here will continue to shower you with spiritual blessings long after they go home today. We love you. We already love baby VW. And good luck on your greatest adventure yet .

And since I know I love stuff like this, I thought I’d share a few more pictures from the shower.

Random Fun Fact:  My wedding was black and yellow.  So those runners we used were MADE BY MY MOM for my wedding, and we got to use them again! #winning

One of my favorite details was that everyone who hosted or helped with the shower got a Bee broach to wear.  I had grand plans of buying all vintage broaches, but then I got a good look at the total in my ebay cart and reconsidered. A few non-vintage broaches would be just fine, thanks.

We used water beads in the vases, and the cake stands were all re-used from my brother’s wedding. (He and my sister-in-law made them!).

I always think it’s the little details that make the big impact, like a cute sign on the seat the guest of honor will be sitting in, or a cheeky note on a letterboard.

The chalk board signs have been repainted over for multiple showers (repainted because the liquid chalk markers do not erase worth a darn.)

It ended up being a wonderful shower, and while we had fun throwing it, my mom and I are very glad that it’s the last one we have to throw for a LONG time. Pinterest has just set the bar really high these days.

Feel free to pin this idea for later! I even made a handy dandy pinterest graphic for you to use!

Camp Post

Hi Friends!

So I had big aspirations of writing an entire summer camp related blog post to help promote FLOAT  full of lots of embarrassing pictures of myself at camp like this one. (I’m the one in the “cool” sweatband.)

Or maybe this one.

Hello 90’s style.  Nice to see you. (*waves)
Socks and sandals?  Check
Baggy overalls?   Check
WWJD bracelet on my wrist? Check
Headband to hold back the bangs I was attempting to grow out? Check.
Making a weird face in an attempt to look funny and cool?  Check

 

Or maybe even this gem. Because honestly…my sense of style back then could NOT be denied. (Remember how cool butterfly clips were? I do.)

But then my AMAZING editor asked me to write two camp related things to help market FLOAT. And of course, I said yes. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and post them here for your reading enjoyment!

The first was a letter that would go out to camp directors across the U.S.   I wrote the letter, and then asked if I could doodle on the letter for fun. Marketing liked the idea, so I started doodling.  But guys, when you HAVE to doodle…doodles suddenly become stressful.  I doodled. I doodled some more. I had multiple doodle options to choose from.  I asked for opinions and then doodled some more.  And then trying to figure out how to get a crisp copy back to marketing was extra tricky.  BUT. We got it done. So here it is!

The second thing I was asked to write was a blog post for the HarperCollins blog about what to bring to camp. (Because as evidenced by this incredibly flattering picture of me posing with my little brother while holding a rat…I’m kind of a summer camp expert.)

Upon receiving the email with the request, I immediately thought that writing a post about what NOT to bring would be so much more interesting.  SO, that’s what I did.

Click the picture below to enjoy! (Feel free to pin this sage advice to Pinterest or share to Facebook…because really, you may be saving someone from getting poison ivy between their toes. Consider it a service to humanity.)

Disclaimer:  I asked permission from my best friend (the one on the far right in the first picture) for permission before sending these camp pictures out into the world. And because she loves me, she said yes.

And for those interested, I am pictured at Camp Roger in all these photos.

It is the best summer camp ever. All my kids will go when they are old enough. And many many MANY of the camp details that show up in FLOAT were pulled directly from my experiences every summer at this camp.

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T’was the Night Before a Book Launch…

Twas the night before FLOAT launched and all through the house
Everything was prepped and ready- I’m no slouch.

The s’mores were all packed by my author bag with care
It’s a little confusing, because usually I have dinosaurs sitting there.

The children were all settled, snug in their beds,
While visions of grandma visiting danced in their heads.

With excitement and anxiety, at my laptop I did tap,
Wishing that I could send FLOAT to the best sellers list with a snap.

 

Out on the blog-o-sphere there wasn’t much chatter,
Because when it comes to social media, middle grade doesn’t really matter.

Off to my author’s website I clicked in a flash,
A new blog post I would type up in a dash.

When inside my head, there arose such a clatter,
What if nobody likes FLOAT? Will this book even matter?

All of my old worries began to appear,
What if it gets awful reviews? Words can be painful. Oh dear, oh dear.

But then I remembered that not long ago,
Writing books was just a dream I was trying to sew.

So I sat up, gave myself a good mental kick,
It will be fine, I told myself. FLOAT is slick.

More rapid than my anxieties, my blessings came.
And I nodded and remembered and called them by name.

To the top of the best sellers list, or on no list at all,
I no longer cared, because I get to write books which is such a ball.

Over the keyboard my fingers did fly,
I typed up the rest of a silly poem and looked to the sky.

For I know someone greater has a plan for my life,
So a bad review or two won’t cause any strife.

I posted the poem and turned out the light,
Happy FLOAT launch to all, and to all a good night.

Thanks for hanging with that one all the way to the end!  There is a reason that I write middle grade and NOT poetry.

But in all seriousness, FLOAT is about to hit the shelves, and I am equal parts elated and terrified. I hope you love it. I hope you tell your friends about it. I hope you buy it for a kid headed to camp this summer. I hope all sorts of hopes. Big hopes. Little hopes. Hopes I don’t even want to say out loud for fear of jinxing myself.

And while I’m over here hoping and not sleeping because my brain refuses to turn off the night before a book launch, I wanted to let you know how you could win this AWESOME t-shirt and some s’more treats. 

How do you win?  It’s easy.  Post a picture of yourself or your kiddo, heck, even your dog with FLOAT on Instagram or Facebook. If you post to Instagram use the  hashtag #WhereDoYouFLOAT.   If you post to Facebook, just tag me! I’m on Facebook as LauraMartinBooks.

Want a bonus entry? Write a review for FLOAT on Amazon!

I’ll pick a winner in two weeks!

I may even be persuaded to pick more than one winner (I may have gone overboard ordering T-shirts) if there are a lot of creative posts!

 

Reluctant Readers, Jelly Beans, and The Martin List

HI Guys!

I wanted to pop over here quickly to let you know about something pretty exciting.  Not sure if you remember (although you might, because I kind of freaked out about it), but I was on the Read Aloud Revival Podcast not to long ago. It is still one of those things that I pinch myself about and go, did that really happen?

If you haven’t listened yet.  You can do that HERE!

Well, on that podcast I talked about writing books for reluctant readers (I write books for people who don’t want to read them…my marketing genius knows no bounds…insert eye roll here), and I shared some of the things I used to do in my own seventh grade classroom to engage those readers.

One of the things I talked about on that podcast was jelly beans. 

Yes. Jelly beans.  I am a firm believer that EVERYONE can be a reader if they just find the book that speaks to them. I used to explain this to my students by telling them that books were a lot like jelly beans, and that if someone were to hand you a black licorice flavored jelly bean…you. might think you didn’t like jelly beans.  But guys, there are so many other jelly bean flavors out there. Thanks to J.K. Rowling you can even get your hands on a vomit or booger flavored jelly bean if that floats your boat.

  But the same principle applies to books. You just have to find your flavor of book.

Why am I talking jelly beans?  Because the amazing Sarah Mackenzie, the genius behind The Read Aloud Revival just wrote a book. I pre-ordered mine already, and you should to.  I’ll make it easy on you. Pre-order it HERE.  You can thank me later.   And in her most recent promotional piece for it…she was sitting next to a jar of jelly beans.  (Cough Cough…embarrassed blush. Secret celebrations.) I feel a little like I just taught Houdini a magic trick.

She also just aired a new podcast all about books to engage reluctant readers, and she did a whole segment on yours truly and two little books full of dinosaurs and adventure. To say I was flattered would be an understatement.  You can listen to that HERE. 

And speaking of book recommendations, I have some for you!  A while back my amazing publisher HarperCollins asked me to write about a few of my all time favorite books for their website, and to be honest, I kind of forgot that I’d done it. I’m going to blame major sleep deprivation and having three kids three and under… the bags under my eyes right now guys are epic. Also, my house is a wreck, the laundry is ridiculous, and I’m looking for a good house elf if you know of any.

Anyways!  Click here to check out The Martin List. Enjoy!

What NOT to do for a postcard campaign…

I think I’ve mentioned before that my knowledge of this whole author game was somewhere between zilch and not much prior to getting my deal for the Edge of Extinction series…right? If you’d forgotten, there’s your reminder. You’re welcome. Anyways, I’ve learned quite a bit along the way, most of which by trial and error.

Anyways, on my fledging author journey, I was lucky enough to meet the one and only Saundra Mitchell. Guys, the girl has written boatloads of books, and she’s funny and fabulous and I got to have lunch with her at Panera once. (John David Anderson was also there…and I felt like I’d been invited to the cool kids’ table.)

Along with being funny and fabulous, she also markets her books REALLY well, and I’ve made a habit of picking her brain every time I’m lucky enough to end up on a panel with her or at the same signing event. I also moseyed on over to her blog to snoop around there for tips…as all new clueless writers should. It was here that she mentioned postcard campaigns, and I got excited. Postcards! I could totally do postcards! They didn’t require a babysitter or even leaving the house! YES! I read her post a few times then started price shopping online for a good deal on postcards. The problem was that I had no real idea what it should look like. Saundra gives some information on what should go ON the postcard information wise…but that was it. I found a lot of beautiful postcard examples online for illustrators, but not even one example for authors. So, like any novice, I decided to wing it. And wing it I did…

Mistake #1– When purchasing postcards…more is not always better. I was about to order 500 postcards (enough to mail to every Indiana Library, Middle School, and Elementary school) when a deal popped up. For only a few more dollars I could order 1000 instead of 500. No brainer right!? How long can it take to hand write a thousand postcards? Answer….no clue. I’ll let you know. Six months later and I’m still staring at A LOT of unwritten postcards.

Mistake #2- Upgrading your postcard to the larger size because it’s prettier and more impressive looking. While both those things are true, they also can’t be mailed as a postcard with a postcard priced stamp. They need a regular stamp…now you’re spending A LOT more money.

Mistake #3– Putting too much information on the back and not leaving any room for the post office to put their processing information on it. So now you have to put your “postcard” in an envelope…so it’s not really a postcard anymore…is it?

Mistake #4- Misprinting your labels so many times that you end up just cutting the labels out with scissors and piecing your addresses together like the most obnocious puzzle ever. This takes a LONG time. It also makes you want to scream.

So there you have it. A LOOOOONG list of screw ups that left me with a mountain of postcards that I’d spent a good chunk of change on (see mistake #2), and no where to go but onward…spending even MORE money so I didn’t waste the money I’d already spent. LIFE LESSONS ARE FUN. Especially when you have a husband that’s good at math and can tell you how many books each postcard would have to sell for you to make it all worth it. The answer…a lot.

The good thing is that I did manage to salvage the situation, and even learned a few tricks along the way.

 

Trick #1– If you have to use envelopes, buy the cute colorful ones ½ off at Hobby Lobby. This will help your postcard stand out.

Trick #2– Dino Stamps Are Awesome. A small detail like this shows that you put effort into this, and will hopefully keep your envelope from dying a horrible death in the trash can.

Trick #3– Get discounted Stamps.   Did you know that Ebay sells stamps? Did you also know that when Ebay sends you a promo code for say 15 dollars off your next 75 dollar purchase…you can put that towards stamps? Yup. #Winning

Trick #4– It’s all a lot less painful if you do it while watching a good movie with your mom helping you. Because, as we all know, moms make everything better.

Trick #5– Fun pens make everything better. I linked my favorites here.

So there you have it. Lots of mistakes…a few things learned. Now I’m off to write a few more hundred postcards…because it would be nice to get this set done before I need to make some for FLOAT! Sigh.

Cover Reveal

Hi Friends,

Is this thing still on? I apologize for the LOOOOOONG radio silence. We welcomed our third Martin baby this fall, and preparing for him, editing my 2018 book FLOAT and trying to write the book that will come out in 2019 proved to be just a tad too much for me! Something had to give, and it ended up being this website. Well, that and sleep.

So what’s been happening since I last popped on here? A lot! More fun school visits and signings for the EDGE series, but I’m not going to talk too much about those right now, because…drum roll please…
The cover for FLOAT is finally ready to show the world!

And I’m patting myself on the back because Amazon did NOT beat me to the reveal punch this time. And if you saw the state of my house right now, you’d understand that getting ANYTHING accomplished is a matter of celebration around here. I vacuumed today and felt like someone should really throw me a party to celebrate that fact. Not even kidding.

Unlike my EDGE series that was illustrated by the ever so talented Eric Deschamps, the FLOAT cover was created by the equally talented Erwin Madrid. His illustrations are beautiful and colorful, and I am so lucky that he was selected to work on one of my books. (He also did the cover for Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate…which is like saying the same guy who works with Michael Jordan also daned to work with you…which is pretty darn cool if you ask me.)

So a little bit about FLOAT.

Send the kids from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to Percy Jackson’s Camp Half-Blood, and you’ve got Float—a fast-paced middle grade adventure about a group of kids with uncontrollable abilities who are struggling to accept themselves.

Emerson can float . . . he just can’t do it very well.

Without his weighted vest and shoes, he’s in danger of drifting all the way up to the moon. His uncontrollable floating is classified as Reoccurring Incidents of the Strange Kind, or his RISK factor. It’s alienated him from non-RISK people throughout his life, and now it’s landed him in a government-funded summer camp for RISK kids. This camp is the last place Emerson wants to be, but when he meets the other boys in the Red Maple cabin, he’s surprised to realize that this summer might not be so bad after all. That is, until he discovers that his new time-traveling friend, Murphy, is hiding a secret that threatens all of their lives. Now it’s up to Emerson and the Red Maple boys to save themselves—and everyone like them.

Laura Martin seamlessly weaves the fun of a summer at camp with the high-stakes action of Emerson’s life-or-death mission and the relatable growing pains that come with trying to find your place among your peers. Fans of Dan Gutman, Gordon Korman, and Lisa McMann will love the humor, heart, and heroism in this action-packed novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Edge of Extinction series!

This book is near and dear to my heart for a few reasons, but the big one being that so many of the adventures the characters of FLOAT go on were actual adventures from my Dad’s childhood. I grew up hearing about these crazy things he used to do with his cousins and marveling that he survived into adulthood. So when I started writing this book I essentially stole his childhood and handed it off to a character named Emerson who happened to float. I’m a writer, which means I lie for a living…so stealing someone else’s childhood experiences isn’t at all beneath me. Especially since my dad gave me permission. 🙂

By the way…this is my dad…  Handsome. Right?  Also- me in a wedding dress because finding a good picture of just the two of us is nearly impossible.

Anyways…FLOAT is set to launch on May 29, 2018 and I couldn’t be more excited! Click HERE if you want to pre-order it! 

I can’t wait for you all to read this one, and I will make an effort to pop back in here every now and then before it launches. Although, that’s contingent on a certain someone sleeping a bit more…

I don’t play favorites with my kids, but two of them sleep twelve hours a night. Just saying.

Although he was pretty good about sleeping through the book events we drug him along to recently…so I’ll probably keep him. (God bless Grandmas who come along to book events to watch your brand new baby. Amen.)

It’s funny, being an author doesn’t look much like I pictured it…

It’s better.

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Book Launch!

HI Friends!

Phew! LOTS has been going on since the last time I popped in over here. The first being that EDGE OF EXTINCTION- CODE NAME FLOOD has been released! (Cue the happy dance, confetti, champagne corks, and glitter.)

I no longer feel the need to apologize for the cliffhanger ending of book one, because now you can finally find out WHAT IS IN LAKE MICHIGAN! Hint-It’s pretty awesome, and the illustration of said thing in Lake Michigan by the one and only Eric Deschamps is even better.

I’ve learned quite a lot in this first year of authoring (post to come on some of those lessons), and the launch of this book was quite a bit different than the launch of book one. For one thing, there actually WAS a launch! Two launches if we are being accurate.

I remember the night before my book came out last year. I had the same feeling I used to have the night before Christmas. I was that excited. And then the day of…not much happened. I did my normal mom routine, and I had friends and family send me pictures of their newly arrived books, and I felt my excitement turn into something more like the pre-race jitters I used to feel before running my leg of the 4×800 in high school-a combination of nerves and the desire to vomit or hide, or do both simultaneously.

Sigh, the joys of running long distance track. Gosh, I miss it.

Anyways.

That night my mom came over and my husband and I went out to eat, a rare thing with a two year old and a two month old at home. Of course, being only two weeks post-baby NOTHING I owned fit right, so I made due with a maxi skirt, which, let’s be honest people, is just a fancy way to wear yoga pants, and we hit up the local Barnes and Noble where I took a picture with my book on the shelf.

And that was it! Book launched! I sat at dinner that night and had a hard time talking with my husband, and it wasn’t just because we were out of practice carrying on full conversations without two small children flailing about in our midst…it was because I’d finally seen my book on the shelf, amongst ALL these other beautiful books, and it was terrifying. How was I going to convince people to spend their hard earned money on a book about dinosaurs of all things? How?

Fast forward to this book’s launch. Totally different ballgame. I had an event scheduled the day the book came out at my local library, and another signing scheduled for that night. I was actually LAUNCHING my book…crazy right?

The first event was at my local library, and it was AMAZING. If I had ten librarians on my side like this girl right here, I’d be on the best sellers list tomorrow.

And I’m not even joking about that.

The entire event was dinosaur themed (of course), and there was everything from a fossil expert with specimens the kids could touch and examine, to exploding dinosaur egg experiments, chiseling dinosaurs out of rock, guessing out much dinosaur poop was in a jar, and a survival hike.

The amazing 4Kids bookstore was on hand to sell books. (PS. If you’d like a SIGNED copy of CODE NAME FLOOD just contact 4Kids! They can ship you a signed and personalized copy!)

I did a short presentation for the kids while they had their “Desert with the Dinos” about some of the behind the scenes stuff that went into creating the covers for book one and two.

Afterwards I had a pretty impressive lineup of kids waiting to get their books signed.

It was AMAZING. And I got exactly ZERO photos of it. #authorfail. Oh well.

The second event was at the Barnes and Noble in Carmel, Indiana, and it was scheduled for six o’clock. I left with plenty of time to get there, and made the snap decision to go five minutes out of my way so I could restock on my go-to dinosaur gummies.

World Market is the ONLY place I’ve found that sells them (unless you want to spend 3x’s the normal amount on Amazon), and I use them for promotional purposes etc. (You can see some of the fun giveaways I put together for the library event  below. I had some EDGE OF EXTINCTION T-shirts bundled with the dummies and some dinosaur ring pops!)

Bad choice. I got stuck in a MAJOR traffic jam. I still managed to run  (literally run) in and grab every dinosaur gummy they had in stock and made it to Barnes and Noble ten minutes early. I’m usually a half hour early to signings, so I FELT late, even though I truly wasn’t. I was met at the door by one of my favorite store managers and escorted to the kid’s section at the back of the store, where a LINE OF PEOPLE WAS WAITING.

WAITING.

TEN MINUTES EARLY.

I about choked. This was a first. I was so flustered I didn’t even take the time to pull out my dinosaurs. I just sat down and started signing. SO COOL.

And again, ZERO pictures of said line. But I promise it was there.

So the book is launched, and to be honest, I wasn’t even really mentally prepared for it.

Because….drum roll please…..HarperCollins just signed me for two more books in 2018 and 2019. Go find that confetti and glitter again! No big deal if you can’t find it, I’ll happy dance and throw glitter for the both of us.

I can’t offer many details yet, but I can say that the next two books AREN’T more Edge of Extinction books. (Right now that series stands at just the two books. Never say never though…I’d love to write a few more books about Sky, Shawn and Todd!) Never fear though, if you liked EDGE, I’m pretty sure you’ll like this one too!

In order to make 2018 happen my amazing editor and I have been hustling to get edits done and off to copy editing before May 30, which you may recall was also the launch date for book two. Things have been busy in the best possible way.

Meanwhile my episode of The Read Aloud Revival went live! (You should just keep that glitter at hand come to think of it…)

Listening to it was equal parts exciting and terrifying. I’m still pinching myself that I had such an amazing opportunity, and I grin like an idiot every time I have my cup of coffee out of one of their amazing mugs.

If you’d like to listen to me talk about how to engage reluctant readers you can check it out here.

I was also featured in my town’s weekly newspaper. I got the cover! And… I look like a goober.

 

This is how my life usually works. Ha! I had an awesome time taking pictures for the story, and the very last shot the photographer took was the one that made the cover. She said, “Hey, pretend the dinosaur is kissing you!” So, because I follow directions to a fault, I did. When I got home I mentioned it to my husband, who said, “You did what?!” I shrugged, and reassured him that she took tons of other pictures, and I doubted that she’d use that one. Well, I was wrong.

When I mentioned the general dorkiness of the picture to a friend she said, and I quote. “It’s fine! Authors are supposed to be quirky.” Well, I nailed it then!

I was also featured in a pretty awesome interview and  book review by the one and only Middle Grade Ninja.

You may remember that I wrote a guest post for the blog last year. Well, I am now lucky enough to be in a writing critique group with the GRAND NINJA HIMSELF!

Life is funny that way. It turns out that he lives not far from me, and had I known that all those years I stalked his blog for agent interviews…well, let’s just say I would have found a way to introduce myself.

And last but not least, I was also interviewed over at Brock Eastman’s website. His questions are always some of my favorites, and he has been a HUGE supporter of the EDGE series from almost day one! (Have you read his books yet?! SO good.)

Sick of listening to me talk about books yet? I don’t blame you. I’m kind of sick of listening to me. But before I sign off, I wanted to thank ALL of you who have supported me on this author adventure. The last year has been a whirlwind of wonderful, and it wouldn’t have been possible without you guys. Thank you for reading my books, for talking about them to your friends, for reviewing them on Amazon and Goodreads, for showing up to book signings and for letting your child buy my book when I visited their school. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Signing off for now.

Laura

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Bucket Listing

Bucket Lists

Hi guys! I know I haven’t popped over to this little corner of the Internet for a while, but that’s because some serious writing has been happening! Hallelujah Amen! Part of that is due to the awesome writing group that I managed to score. They call themselves the YA Cannibals, but they let a humble middle-grade writer like myself join in the fun. There are a few published authors in the group, and a few who are still on the road to publishing, but I’ve really loved getting my work torn to shreds by them.

One of the main pieces of advice I tell young writers is to find a group of people who will read their work and be HONEST not just NICE. Nice people are great- don’t get me wrong. Hang out with lots of them, be friends with them, but don’t hand them your book because they will inevitably be nice and tell you it’s wonderful even if it’s not. SO! After my first session with the cannibals, I scraped together the pieces of my manuscript that they’d torn to shreds, and got to wrok piecing it back together into something even better. It’s a new project that I’m pretty excited about, and I can’t wait for you to read it someday!

BUT, a post has been swimming around in my mind for a while now, and I thought I’d get it written down so it could stop taking up brain space that needs to be devoted to other things!

So, here is my Author’s Bucket list of all the things I want to accomplish during this one wonderful crazy life that I’ve been blessed with. Although, I should really call it a Life List, since the characters in one of the books I’m currently working on think that Bucket Lists are down right depressing. But, I won’t tell them if you don’t! So here it goes.

  1. Get a starred review on Kirkus.

For those of you not in the publishing world, there are a few key places that review new books. These are the little blurbs you usually see posted on Amazon. The main ones are School Library Journal, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, ALA Booklist, and Kirkus. If these reviewing sources were people, the first three would be bouncy bright eyed cheerleaders waving their pom poms wildly, or over-caffeinated soccer moms on the sidelines wearing their MY KID is #1 t-shirt. And Kirkus? Well, he’d be the cool guy wearing aviators sulking on the sidelines and sneering at how dumb the players shoes happen to be. You get the picture. So when they review your book, you grit your teeth and hope for the best. BUT, every now and then they give a book a starred review. And dang it, I want one of those stars. I want it bad. So watch out Kirkus…I’m coming for you.

  1. Big Obnoxious Banner

I’ve attended a few of the BIG “Lets get a ton of authors in one place and sell lots of books” events, and I’ve really enjoyed them. But I have to tell you, someday, I want my table set up in front of a gigantic banner with my face on it ala Chris Grabenstein at the Books by the Banks event I attended. Not so much for the face part, because honestly that would be a little creepy to have staring at you all day, but because I want my table COVERED in books I’ve written. (Not that I don’t love just having Edge of Extinction-The Ark Plan on my table, but I feel it’s getting lonely.) Lucky the second book in the series Edge of Extinction-Code Name Flood is coming out on May 30!

  1. Meet my Editor and Literary Agent in Person.

I have been incredibly blessed to work with two amazing women in my career thus far. The first is my literary agent Jodi Reamer. Guys, I still pinch myself when I tell people that she’s my agent. She was my dream agent, and I never in a million years thought I’d get to work with her. We’ve talked on the phone and emailed a ton, but I’ve never gotten to meet her in person, and I’d love to buy this girl a coffee or 500 coffees as a thank you for all she’s done for me.

The second person I’d love to meet would be my amazing editor at HarperCollins, and I’m not just saying that because she lives in Hawaii. (I know…lucky girl.) But like Jodi, we’ve emailed and talked quite a bit, but I’d love to sit down over a coffee with her someday. Without her my books wouldn’t even be a 10th of what they are today.

  1. YHBA Award

If you’re scratching your head over what YHBA is, then you are clearly not from Indiana. YHBA stands for the Young Hoosier Book Award, and it is a big hairy deal. As a teacher I tried to read all the YHBA selections every year, and my students would vote on which they thought should be the winner. Every time I’d take my troop of seventh graders into the media center for library time, I’d stare at that huge YHBA display and promise myself that one of my books would be on there someday.

  1. Be on the Read Aloud Revival Podcast

Okay guys, I’ve talked about the Read Aloud Revival before here, but I am SO excited to announce that I can CROSS THIS ONE OFF THE LIST! Sarah Mackenzie, the mastermind behind the Revival contacted me a while back, and I about fainted from excitement. I’d sent her a copy of my book last May when it first came out with a letter professing my love for her podcast, but never thought I’d hear from her. You see she interviews REAL authors. Like, tons of books to their name, accomplished 1-4 on my list years ago authors. Not début authors with one measly book to their name! But guys, my podcast with her airs on May 9! You can find all her amazing podcasts here.

  1. Travel to the U.K. for a book event.

As I’ve mentioned before the Edge of Extinction series is also published in the UK, with very different covers.

I’ve been contacted a few different times by schools or award coordinators from across the pond because my book is under consideration for something or other, but I’ve never been able to visit or attend any of the events. I’m in a season of life where dropping everything and flying that far away just isn’t feasible on either the kid front or the affordability front. BUT someday…I’m going to go for a fun book event and then be a tourist to my hearts content.

  1. Best Seller (Sorry. Cliché, I know.)

Oh come on, you had to see this one coming! I think it’s an automatic addition on EVERY author’s bucket list, and I’m no different. I would love for one of my books to really take off Rick Riordan and The Lightening Thief style, so that crates of my book are dropped off at Costco someday. (He had an instragram post about this a while back…and I just can’t get over it. A CRATE of books.) Moving on…

  1. A Sighting in the Wild

I’ve met a lot of people by this point who have read my book, which is always equal parts thrilling and terrifying. But I’ve never happened to spot someone reading my book when I was out and about, in a waiting room, or at the library etc. My cousin called me the first week EDGE came out and described how she’d spotted a boy reading it at the dentist office, and I was more jealous than if she’d gotten to share an Uber with Brad Pitt. I have no idea what I will DO when I actually do spot someone. Probably freak out and frighten them, but I can’t wait.

  1. Meet John Green

He lives in Indianapolis. I live in Indianapolis. I’ve read all of his books and professed my love for them more times than I can count. Fate will make this happen, I’m pretty positive. Also-rumor has it that he writes at a Starbucks some where on Meridian….and there are only so many of those. (Rubs hands together like evil villain.)

  1. Have my kids read my books

I think it will be fun someday to sit down with them and read the words that I’ve written. I’ll be able to tell them how they were only one or two when this one came out and show them their name in the acknowledgements section. And who knows, they may hate everything I’ve ever written. And I’ll probably be okay with that, because every reader has to find the books that speak to them. But I will protect my warm fuzzy image of them curled up with a copy of one of my books, and begging me to tell them what happens next. And, of course, I wont.

Let Your Adventure Style Pick Your Next Read!

Hi Everyone!

My fabulous editor recently sent me this little promotional gem that will be going out to a library near you, and I thought it was too cool not to share! It reminds me a lot of the Choose Your Own Adventure books that I used to read as a kid. (If you want to scale the mountain…turn to page ten. If you go back down the trail…turn to page fifty. Ahhhh the good old days.)

Also- if you are ever wondering how to make an author love you to pieces…check if your library has their book, and if they don’t…request it. It won’t cost you a penny, and said author might just give you a hug. Or two. Happy Reading!

Want to see it bigger? Click this link:

Edge of Extinction_MG sampler 2017

UK Cover Reveal!

I’ve mentioned before that the UK cover for Edge of Extinction-The Ark Plan looks different than the US version. Right?

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Well, in case you forgot, the US version is on the left and the UK is on the right.

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Big difference right!?  In the UK it is actually marketed more towards the Young Adult crowd, but here in the states we market it as Middle Grade. Please don’t ask me why. The powers that be are MUCH smarter than I am about this kind of thing, and I’m smart enough to leave it in their capable hands.

I did a reveal of the new Edge of Extinction-Code Name Flood cover a few posts back, but I wanted to show you the new UK cover for Edge of Extinction- Code Name Flood! Warning…it’s scary!

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What do you think?  I love that it captures the feeling of the original JAWS movie poster, and I think it’s neat that my book gets to wear a few different looks.

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So which one do you like better? I’m curious?

Have you pre-ordered Edge of Extinction-Code Name Flood yet? Here’s the link!