So Let’s Talk About Reading…Shall We?

I’m passionate about reading.

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I get fired up when I talk about books.

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This is my thing.

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And I’ve embraced it with my whole heart.

 

img_6973This deep-seated love of books was given to me for a reason.

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This I firmly believe.img_6939

I also firmly believe that I make the WEIRDEST faces when I talk. Do I just look ridiculous all the time?

For a long time I thought this passion was given to me so that I could teach from a very real place about reading. As an English teacher I had my students embark an a forty book reading quest at the beginning of each year thanks to the fabulous book by Donalyn Miller called The Book Whisperer.

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The program was fabulous, and it worked not because Donalyn Miller gave fabulous instructions for how to implement it (although she did). It worked because I BELIEVED in it. My kids knew that I LOVED books, that the books I recommended to them, I’d read myself. I was a believer in the transformative power of books, and it gave them permission to be one too.

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Some kids thought I was nuts. Some parents thought I was nuttier, but gosh guys, my kids READ and some of them, not all, but some, became readers the year that they spent in my classroom.

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And that was big stuff guys! Because kids who read…who enjoy reading…are going to be more successful than the kid who doesn’t. And that was the key to the way I taught. I wanted my kids, (and yes, I called them my kids, because for that hour every day they WERE mine) to read because they enjoyed it. NOT because they could successfully trace the plot on some chart or tell me what a character’s motivation was.

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And I hope to return to the classroom someday soon, but until then, I’ve been able to put that passion into writing books and recently, talking about books in front of kids again.

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School visits are HUGE for middle grade authors like myself. Our readers aren’t on social media, they aren’t reading book blogs or following people on instagram that post beautiful pictures of books. They are at school, and I have loved being able to talk to and work with kids again. I think being an author is a lot like being a grandparent. I think all the kids are fabulous, they can do no wrong in my book. I get to talk to them, interact with them, get them excited, and then I leave and don’t have to grade any homework. It’s a beautiful thing.

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Another beautiful thing has begun landing in my inbox, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. These two came just this week…

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I read both of these, grinned from ear to ear, turned to my husband and said “My people are finding me!”

Which is incredibly cheesy, but so true. As a seventh grade teacher, my biggest challenge was getting kids who had incorrectly labeled themselves as someone who DIDN’T read to give books a chance. I am a firm believer that you just have to get the RIGHT book in a kids hand to turn them around. That’s all it takes, just one book. And to hear that MY BOOK was that book…well it doesn’t get much better than that. At least not in my world.

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Instilling a love of reading is so so important, a lesson I’ve taken to heart in my own home. One of my favorite things about being a parent as been introducing my daughter to books.

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Books are magical, and I am the gatekeeper of the magic right now.

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When my son takes a nap, we hurry into my husband’s big leather arm chair, grab a stack of books and a blanket, and read until he wakes up. I have a cup of coffee, she gets a sucker, and we “get all cozy” as she describes it. It’s my favorite time of the day.

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She will grow up associating reading with being cozy and loved. And this is a gift she will cherish for a lifetime. I know this, because my mom did it for me, and I will forever be grateful for it.

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I am who I am, because I was a reader first. Reading changes people at a core level, makes them into someone they wouldn’t have been without books. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t been a reader, but I certainly wouldn’t be doing this…

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Which is something that I absolutely love.

So go get “all cozy” and read with your kids today. Even if they are “too old” to be read to. Because, really, they aren’t.

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That Missing Something…

The last six months have been a blur. I’m not sure if I should blame sleep deprivation for that or not, but I think I blinked and my tiny newborn turned into a hefty, almost-crawling 20 pounder. I’m truly stumped about how that happened so fast.IMG_5615

But in this blur of motherhood, which is equal parts wonderful, exhausting and magical, I felt like I was missing something. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

At first I thought it might have to do with books and reading. I used to consume around 7-10 books a WEEK pre-kids. Now I’m lucky to get through one or two, most of which is done via audiobooks. (God bless audiobooks. Amen.)

So I increased my efforts to read more, assuming that it was this part of my identity that made me feel like a puzzle missing a  key piece.

It didn’t help.

Books weren’t the missing puzzle piece.

For a little while I wondered if it was just a part of life, that when I assumed this role of “mom” I had to give up a little of what used to be “Laura” in order to squish everything in.

But this too, was false.

It wasn’t until I stumbled upon podcasts that I finally realized what that missing puzzle piece was.

Learning.

I became a teacher in part because I LOVE learning things. School was one of my favorite places to be as a kid because I enjoyed listening to my teachers explain this complex and wonderful world we live in.

When I was a teacher myself, I often learned right along side my students as we forayed into different topics. Learning was as natural and daily as breathing.

However, ever since having kids I have essentially stopped learning.  Instead of studying and generating lesson plans, I recite the ABC’s and count to ten over and over again until my eyes cross.

Enter

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Seriously, where have these been all my life? They are like the perfect blend of audiobook and lessons all packed into bite size chunks that stream directly to my phone. And they make me so happy.

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I can listen to them while I fold laundry, clean up the kitchen at night after the kids are in bed, shower…you name it. And I am LEARNING again. I have things to talk about with my husband and friends besides what Elmo recently did on Sesame Street or how many blocks I helped make into a tower that day.

I guess in some ways it gave a little bit of “adult” life back to me.

So the first podcast I got brave enough to check out was this one.

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John and Sherry  had a blog called Young House Love that I followed devotedly for years. And then, just like that, they stopped blogging. And it almost felt like losing a friend. So when they started a podcast,  I ventured into unknown territory.

To be honest, podcasts had always kind of confused me. What were they exactly? Some kind of talk-radio hybrid? Where did one find a podcast? Google? (Twitter still confuses me in this way.)

Thankfully John and Sherry put up a step-by-step idiot-proof guide for how to get started. Bless them.

I then ventured over to my cousin Kristen Sanders’ podcast, This Inspired Life. Something I’d been meaning to do FOREVER. Again loved it.

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She suggested that I check out The Read-Aloud Revival Podcast…and guys…I fell in love. Hard.

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I’d had this experience a few other times in my life, both in my teaching career. And that was when I discovered the work of Nancy Atwell.

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And Donolyn Miller.

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Both of these ladies were TEACHING HOW I HAD ALWAYS WANTED TO TEACH. HOW I KNEW I SHOULD BE TEACHING! I bought every book they’d ever written, read them multiple times and applied it all right into my own classroom.

That’s how this felt. I’ve been binge listening to this podcast ever since. I’ve texted multiple friends and family members letting them know that YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO THIS. I’m like the best unpaid advertising there ever was when I find something I like.

I went directly to Itunes and wrote a review. I made my mom listen to it on the way to a bridal shower this weekend. I filled my Amazon cart FULL of books they talked about, and I even sent Sarah Mackenzie (the mastermind behind this little chunk of brilliance) a copy of Edge of Extinction in case, my some minor miracle, she’s looking for an author for the podcast. (Fingers crossed!)

Go listen to it. Right now.

My favorite episodes so far are…

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But that’s only because I haven’t had a chance to listen to them all yet and have been jumping around picking and choosing topics at random.

So if you haven’t checked out podcasts yet. Do it. I’ve learned so so much, and that piece of my life, the learning piece, is no longer missing. I feel a bit more like myself again, and it’s a relief.

Because while I am enjoying being “mom”, I also really like just being Laura sometimes. IMG_6030

 

 

How cool is this?

Have you heard of the website Imagination Soup yet?

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It’s fabulous. Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, Melissa Taylor has her hand on the pulse of everything from book suggestions to the latest educational study or tip.  So imagine my excitement when a few weeks back I stumbled across this post on the best Adventure/Mystery books for kids and saw MY BOOK front and center. I could have probably died happy right there.

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Instead, I wrote Melissa an email thanking her for featuring my book so prominently. As a new (relatively unknown) author, this kind of publicity is HUGE.

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I mentioned in the email that I’d love to collaborate with her if she was ever interested.

And she was!

The following guest post was born!  Head on over to check it out!

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Another REALLY exiting thing happened recently as well. The AMAZING Brock Eastman contacted me.

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I’ll pause here to explain why this was such a big hairy deal.

Brock is not only a fellow author, but he is also affiliated with Focus on the Family, a institution I grew up with and still follow and admire, and get this…he helped produce the Adventures In Odyssey series once upon a time.

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If you haven’t discovered Adventures in Odyssey…you are missing out. Odyssey was a BIG part of my childhood, and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Mr. Whittaker.

Okay…nostalgic gush over…moving on.

Brock has his own series of middle grade books out, so it was REALLY amazing that he contacted me full of praise for mine.

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I re-read his kind email a few times before it all sunk in. He wanted to know if I would be interested in being interviewed for his website.

Yes.

Yes I would.

(Insert absurd little happy dance here.)

If you want to check it out, the interview can be found HERE.  I share a few never before revealed tidbits about Sky, Shawn, and Todd, but there are also some fun off the cuff questions about writing.

I didn’t think this could get much better.

I was wrong.

Brock also pulled some strings and Edge of Extinction is going to be featured in the September issue of Family Fiction Edge.

EDGE_AUG16-125x188(Many happy dances were danced when I heard this. The two year old joined in, as did the bulldogs…it was epic.)

So check back in soon, and I’ll link up to that as well!

Middle Grade Ninja…and a little presentation advice.

Hi Everyone!

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If you’re new around here (welcome) you might not know that I spent my pre-author years as a seventh grade language arts teacher.

I LOVED it.

Seriously.

I worked with some of the best people and middle school kids are some of my favorites. When I transitioned from teacher to author, I brought some of my teaching savey with me, and I shared some of that wisdom today over on Robert Kent’s AMAZING blog Middle Grade Ninja. 

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I used to stalk this blog religiously when I was in the querying trenches, and his agent interviews are priceless. (Also-fun fact. When I was stalking his blog I ACTUALLY LIVED IN THE SAME TOWN WITH HIM! I HAD NO IDEA!  MIND. BLOWN. )

Anyways, if you haven’t stumbled upon him yet on your own, you’re welcome.

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Having taught my fair share of middle school kids, I like to think I know a thing or two about what to do…or more importantly…what NOT to do when presenting.  So pop on over to Middle Grade Ninja and check it out!  Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 9.23.26 PM

 

Book Launch!

There are three things you need to know before reading this post.

  1. My mom throws fabulous parties. She stresses about them for months before hand, gives pinterest a workout, and ultimately ends up with a show-stopping event that she will immediately credit to other people. She is wonderful.
  2. I asked my mom to throw this party. However, I asked her six years ago. I was nowhere NEAR having a book published. It was still a dream at that point, but I remember being on the phone whining and griping (in the way one only can to one’s mother) about a recent rejection, and I said. “Mom. If I ever do get a book published. I want to throw a party. A big one.” She remembered. And six years later. She and my dad threw me one heck of a book launch.
  3. This post has about a million pictures. You’ve been warned.

Now that that’s out of the way, back to the Book Launch Party!

How to Throw a fabulousbook launch

The theme was obviously going to be dinosaurs, but there is a fine line between dinosaur book launch and little boy’s dinosaur birthday party. I think we hit the nail on the head though!

We held the launch at my parent’s house, and it was the perfect backdrop for Edge’s launch! (I think Ivan would have felt at home here? Don’t you?)

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As our visitors arrived they were greeted by this sign…

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Some strategically place dinosaur bones…

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And this toothy wreath!

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The fun didn’t stop on the front porch though! Inside guests was met by this handsome girl!

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Everyone thought we rented an animatronic dinosaur for the event, but this was actually a toy my cousin Jenna had stored in her garage. WHAT?! I know! Who has dinosaurs stored in their garage?! My family apparently!

She was even cooler in person, moving her head and horns around, opening her mouth, making dinosaur noises.

I tried to buy it off my cousin.

She said no.

I don’t blame her.

But could you imagine the look on peoples’ faces if I hauled a three foot dinosaur into bookstores for book signings? #priceless

Moving on. We had a table set up with my recent reviews as well as the blown up cover of my book.

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I’m biased. But I think the cover is even prettier three feet tall. Eric Deschamps really outdid himself on this one!

Inside we had an author’s table set up for me to sign books.

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My mom also bought a TON of books in case our visitors decided they wanted to buy any extras as gifts for friends, neighbors, the mailman, the mailman’s cousin…you get the idea. She was prepared!

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The good news is that we sold them all! Yippee!!!

And then there was the food. OH the food.

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We may have gone a little overboard.

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I’ve seen weddings with less food. My cousin Jeff’s restaurant catered the big stuff for us, and if anyone went home hungry they just weren’t trying hard enough…

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I was so busy signing and talking and hugging all the wonderful people who came that I never really got to eat much of it!  Which was okay, because I got to take home the leftovers!

My Aunt Cathy carved up the watermelon T-Rex. Amazing.

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And the desert table was enough to make any kid flip.

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There were dinosaurs decorating Every. Single. Surface.

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Beware the Megapnosaurus guarding the fruit tray!

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Do you recognize the handsome guy in the middle from my cover?

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Mmmmmm Dino Droppings…..

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I also have to mention the dirt cups because they don’t show up very well on the desert table. But they were one of my favorite things there.

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Well, actually, that’s a lie. My favorite thing at the party was the people who drove HOURS and HOURS to be there to celebrate the realization of a life long dream. Friends and family came and bought stacks of books. I got hugged and congratulated and hugged some more.

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DSC01314(Did you spot the Edge of Extinction T-shirts?  My dad also made mugs! He was all for putting the cover on everything from a golf shirt to coasters, but we had to reign him in. I mean, my husband loves me, but I don’t think even he would wear a huge book cover on his back while golfing!)

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Some of my old colleagues from Clay Middle School even made the drive up to see me…wearing…get this…pins with my face on them. My mom promptly stole one and wore it for the rest of the night.

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Fun fact…the only guy in the picture is the ORIGINAL Todd. I totally stole his name while working on the book with every intention of changing it later on…but then I got attached and it stuck. I waited until the book was two days from being published to mention it to him though. Whoops!

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Speaking of teachers…if you read the acknowledgements page I posted on here recently, you may have noticed that I mentioned my high school English teacher. Well he and his wife made the hike to come to the party! It just goes to show the impact one phenomenal teacher can make. I was blessed to be taught by an entire fleet of phenomenal teachers...a fact I am incredibly thankful for.

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The other surprise of the night was when my girlfriends from high school all showed up! Each of them had told me they weren’t going to be able to make it…and I believed them! They all have kids and the general chaos that comes from this season of life. But they made it happen, and on top of that, they spent the night so I was able to laugh and talk to them until it was WAY past our bedtimes. Seriously the best.

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My best –known me since third grade and likes me anyways– friend Allison tried the same trick- telling me she couldn’t make it when she really planned on coming- but I knew her too well and she wasn’t able to pull it off. That didn’t change the fact that I was SO grateful that she flew all the way from Colorado with her two kids to be here for the party. You caught that part about flying by herself with two kids right? Because that makes her either a rockstar or insane. I’m going to go with rockstar.

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Speaking of rockstars…

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These beautiful ladies were my mom’s partners in crime when it came to getting this party set up. They moved picture frames, adjusted dinosaurs, carved watermelons, and generally helped my mom in the way I used to be able to before I had two children and became more of a hindrance than a help.

This whole thing wouldn’t have happened though without these two amazing people.

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Let me introduce you to my parents. They are just the best and I can’t even begin to thank them for everything they’ve been and done for me. I attempted to do it in my acknowledgements, but I don’t think I did them justice. And even though my mom was the brain child and the hustle behind this party, my dad did MORE than his fair share of the work getting the house into shape, running errands, and even picking up the dinosaur eggs (donuts) the morning of the event, and surprising a certain two year old with her very own blueberry donut. Ever since we started reading If You Give A Dog A Donut at bedtime, the girl has been obsessed.

On a side note, a party goer also sent me this picture after the party was over. When did my dad become a pushover about sweets?

My husband also wrangled BOTH kids all afternoon, and they did not make it easy on him. He deserved an award when it was all over. (No pictures of that dapper dude though. He prefers to remain mysterious on the blog front!)

If all of this party hoopla wasn’t enough, people even brought me gifts! Can you believe it!????

Insane.

They would hand me things in baggies and boxes and say something like, “We didn’t know what to get someone for a book launch!” My answer was “YOU GET THEM NOTHING!” The gift was that you BOUGHT MY BOOK and you CAME! THAT is the gift. Still, everyone’s generosity amazed, overwhelmed, and touched me deeply.

I am so blessed to be so well loved by so many amazing people.

So there you have it. A book launch like no other! Now I’m off to my kitchen. Those left overs aren’t going to eat themselves!

Plus a certain two year old also already tucked the T-Rex in for the night…so my job here is done!

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A School Visit and a Walk Down Memory Lane

Middle schoolers are their own unique breed. I’m convinced. But after teaching them for over six years, I have to admit that they are far and away my favorite people to talk to and teach.  I can talk to a huge group of seventh graders and keep them quiet and engaged without a problem.   Give me the same room full of adults, and I get a little twitchy.

So when it came time to start actively promoting my book, school visits seem like the best fit for who I am and what I’m good at. Unfortunately, Edge of Extinction came out at the very END of the school year when everyone is scrambling to wrap up grades, finish standardized testing, and generally keep things in some kind of order until summer. Not the best time to contact people about visiting their school. BUT I did manage to visit my old grade school/middle school this week, and it was awesome.

I left the babies behind with my parents and cruised down I65 listening to my audiobook for the very first time.

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It was surreal. It was amazing. I got chills.

Emma Galvin did SUCH a fabulous job bringing Sky to life, and before I knew it I was pulling into the parking lot where so many of my middle school memories were made.

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To start with, I was greeted by signs like these as I entered the building. Nothing makes you feel like a minor celebrity like a poster board with your name on it. Am I right?

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Unless it’s a whole stinking bulletin board. In which case, you beg someone to take a picture of you with it and pose shamelessly.

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I got the opportunity to talk to the entire junior high as well as the 4th and 5th grade.

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The coolest part of the day though was sitting down with the creative writing class and discussing how to turn an idea into something more.

I started off by reading this brilliant book.

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I just adore it. I think it should be a staple in EVERY creative writing teacher’s arsenal of teaching tools. Kids are NEVER too old to enjoy and get something out of a picture book. Especially a picture book as phenomenal as this one.

But back to the school visit. It was such an odd feeling to be back in the halls that I used to walk when I was a middle schooler myself. In some ways, it was exactly the same, but in others it was so changed. For one thing, I remember everything being a lot bigger!

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I wandered the halls after my presentation and found my old class picture. Ahhhh memories.

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I drove home after the visit with a grin on my face and a halls cough drop in my mouth. (While my teacher’s voice still works great, it’s not used to talking for that long anymore! I’m officially a wuss!)  Despite my sore throat, it was so nice to slip out of my “mom” shoes and back into my teacher shoes. Even if it was only for a little while.

Also, the fact that these guys are part of my job now is pretty darn cool as well. Who else gets to tote a bag full of dinosaurs around and call it work?

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I’m so blessed that I get to do this. Thank you Highland Christian for the opportunity and the memories.

Laura

Acknowledgements…

Today is the day!

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Edge of Extinction-The Ark Plan is officially on shelves! If you pre-ordered, it lands on your doorstep TODAY.

I woke up multiple times last night from pure excitement (think kid before Christmas anticipation) and had to force myself to go back to sleep. It wasn’t easy.

I’ve been looking forward to this day for YEARS.

But.

For those of you holding this bright and shiny (and dare I say drop dead gorgeous) book in your hands, you may notice that something is missing.

Although, honestly, you might not. Not everyone looks for an author’s acknowledgements, but friends and family usually do. And mine unfortunately aren’t there. My amazing team over at HarperCollins was working with me to add things to the book at the eleventh hour: from an author’s note on my dinosaur research to an awesome download that you can find over at HarperCollins website. So in the middle of all this, my acknowledgments got lost in the shuffle and didn’t make it into the first print run. Which, is hopefully the first of many print runs. (Fingers crossed!) But, it will be in the next print run!

If this was my tenth book, I probably would have shrugged and moved on. But since this was my first book, and it took SO MANY PEOPLE to make this dream a reality, I was looking forward to having a platform to publicly thank them.

So I decided to do the next best thing, which was to post my acknowledgements here.  So without further delay…here are the acknowledgements for Edge of Extinction- The Ark Plan. 

Acknowledgments

How do you begin to thank the people who helped make the most passionate dream of your heart a reality? Somehow, a paragraph in this book doesn’t seem to cut it. But until I win the lottery and can fly everyone somewhere exotic and warm, this will have to do.

First, I have to thank my parents, Jim and Joyce Van Weelden, who gave me a magical childhood, supported me in my every endeavor, and prayed for me. For my dad, who taught me the importance of a strong work ethic and a good left-handed lay-up. For my mom, who read too many versions of my book to count and worked tirelessly to help make my dream a reality. Without her this book never would have happened. I am who I am, what I am, and where I am because of my amazing parents. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

For my brother, Aric, who reminds me constantly not to take myself or this life so seriously. When I wrote the character of Todd, it was with your mischievous and big-hearted personality in mind. For Allison and Jenna and too many friends and family members to mention, who have always been in my corner no matter how awkward or uncoordinated I was.

For the countless teachers in my life who pushed me to be better, specifically the teachers of Illiana Christian High School and Butler University. For Jeff DeVries, for challenging me even when I didn’t want to be challenged, and Dan Barden for telling me to stop making excuses and just write a good book.

For the countless middle school students who walked through my classroom door every year at Clay Middle School. This book was inspired by and written for the quirky kids who made teaching the best job in the world.

For Alec Shane, who first pulled this book out of the slush pile and told me it would make a great middle grade novel. For Jodi Reamer, my rockstar agent, thank you for your excitement, feedback, and unwavering belief in this book.

For my team at HarperCollins: after years of dreaming of publishing a book, this experience has been better than I could have ever hoped. For Tara Weikum and Harriet Wilson, thank you for the brainstorming and insights that helped turn The Ark Plan into the novel it is today. You are both brilliant. Thank you to my cover artist, Eric Deschamps, and the entire art department for making my characters and vision for this book come to life.

For the most important person in my life, my husband, Josh. I cannot begin to thank you for being my rock, my supporter, and my best friend through this entire journey. I couldn’t ask for a better partner in this life. For my daughter, London, and son, Lincoln, you two are the inspiration that lights up my days and the push that makes me want to be better.

And last, to my creator, who makes all things possible, even the impossible dream of publishing a book. Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory.

My First Author Event!

First…a little back story for those of you who are new around here.

I taught seventh grade language arts in Carmel Indiana at Clay Middle School for six years. And loved it. I can honestly say that being a teacher was fabulous. We had great kids, tons of parent support, and fabulous facilities. Plus, I had the privilege of working with some of the best people in the business.

So. As you can imagine. Deciding to stay home with my kids was a hard call for me. I was all sorts of torn up about it. There were tears. There were lots of tears. But ultimately I decided to take a break from teaching to do the stay-at-home-mom thing and write.

I don’t regret it. But I do miss my time in the classroom. I miss sharing my love of reading and writing with large packs of squirmy seventh graders. I miss lunches with friends, even if those lunches were around fifteen minutes total and didn’t allow us to actually chew our food. I miss it. A lot.

So when I found out that Carmel High School was hosting an event called Writing Con (Think knock off Comic con?) I wanted in.

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There were two problems with this.

Problem One. I hadn’t been invited.

Problem Two. I didn’t actually have any books yet.

BUT! I wasn’t going to let those things stop me. After lots of emailing, I was told that I would be welcomed with open arms. (I mentioned the people at Carmel are fabulous right? Because they are.)

So. I went about tackling problem two. No books. As I’ve mentioned around a million times Edge of Extinction- The Ark Plan comes out May 10. The event was April 28 and 29. SO CLOSE!  So I begged to get the books to the Carmel Barnes & Noble a little early. And because the HarperCollins team is amazing, they made it happen!

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The two days were awesome. We got to work hands on with the kids at different writing “pods”, and I got a chance to talk to two different classes. Dusting off my old teaching hat was fun, and man, I miss it.

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IMG_2725Although, as a side note,high schoolers are so put together! I’m used to middle school students who get pumped and excited at the slightest provocation. High school kids are much less wiggly!

Another perk of the event was getting to meet other local authors. I added all their books to my “got to read this soon” list. Here are a few of their books!

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(And this isn’t even everyone! So many awesome people there!

I also picked the other authors’ brains mercilessly. I’m very new to this author game, and I loved hearing what they’ve done to get the word out about their books.

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The event capped off with a book signing at the Carmel Barnes & Noble. I got to sit next to Jeff Stone because we both had middle grade books while the other authors were primarily YA and adult fiction.

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This was a little surreal. Jeff Stone’s books were by far some of the most popular with the seventh grade boy crowd, and I really enjoyed talking to him about the publishing world!

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I would love to say that I played it cool, but I’m not so sure that I did. A lot of my friends stopped by to buy books and I jumped around and gushed at them about how much I appreciated it. A few old students stopped by to buy books as well, which really made my day.

On a side note. My little metal dinosaur got TONS off attention.

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This cracked me up as I threw him in my bag as an after thought. I purchased him years ago when I first started writing Edge of Extinction. He used to live on my desk when I was teaching as a daily reminder to keep working on my book and following my dream, and now he makes a nice little statement on my author’s table. It’s funny how life works.

A big thank you to Carmel High School and the Carmel Barnes & Noble for hosting the event and for letting me be a part of it. SO MUCH FUN!

Also, as this is my book launch eve (Is that a thing?  Oh well, is now.) I’m going to be posting a giveaway on Instagram tomorrow!  (If you don’t follow me over there, you totally should! I’m Lauramartinbooks) So check tomorrow for a chance to win!  Happy Book Launch Eve everyone!

Laura

Bits of this and that…

Hello!

As we cruise towards the official release day for Edge of Extinction-The Ark Plan (we’re in single digits now people! This is big!), I wanted to pop in to post a few of the reviews that have rolled in lately. I’m VERY happy with them!

(On a side note, having your book reviewed is like allowing someone to publicly state how much they like your child. So… incredibly nerve wracking.)

Here is the first from the School Library Journal:
Gr 4-6-
Sky Mundy has heard all her life how the Noah saved the citizens of the United States from extinction during the Dinosauria Pandemic, getting them into the old nuclear bomb shelters that were safe from ferocious dinosaurs and the fatal virus they carry. But Sky sees the dark side of the Noah’s Marine enforcers. She is singled out because she is an orphan and thus a burden (though she refuses to acknowledge that her father, missing for five years, is dead), and her life is a litany of work details and isolation in the Guardian Wing of the North Compound. Sky desperately hopes for word from her absent father, and finally, on her 12th birthday, her best friend Shawn finds a clue hidden in the compass Sky’s father gave her just before he disappeared. With that information, Sky decides it’s time to go “topside” to look for her missing dad. Shawn helps her make a daring escape from the compound, and the two discover that the world outside is not as they were led to believe. There are certainly dinosaurs, and most of them are out to make Sky and Shawn dinner. But there are also people living topside, not to mention fresh food and fresh air. In this clever take on Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, the tale is reimagined on a worldwide scale. The characters are developed, and the postapocalyptic world is well imagined and replete with detail. The plot moves forward briskly, with a few good twists, and the ending sets up neatly for a sequel. Nonstop action, marauding dinosaurs, and kids on the run: What’s not to like? VERDICT This is a great buy for the sci-fi adventure-loving crowd.-Gretchen Crowley, Alexandria City Public Libraries, VA

Here is the second from the  Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books:
R Gr. 4-7
In a future where bioengineered dinosaurs dominate the earth, twelve-year-old orphan Sky Mundy survives, along with the rest of the supposed last of the human race, in rigidly controlled underground compounds. A message from her presumed- dead father, though, soon sends her out into the dangerous upside with best friend Shawn in tow, but the pair quickly realizes they aren’t prepared to survive the great outdoors. Fortunately they are rescued from a T. rex attack by young Todd, who leads them back to his hidden village in the trees. After being attacked by marines from the compound, the three adventurers journey north, but their expedition may uncover more secrets than they expected, including clues to a dangerous truth compound leaders will kill to keep hidden. This gripping survival adventure offers readers a potent mix of creative setting, edge-of-your-seat plotting, and admirable heroes. The world building is particularly strong, balancing the campy, the ter- rifying, and the dystopian, with plenty of engaging details like dinosaur pets and a treehouse worthy of the Swiss Family Robinson. Sky and friends are equally appealing, bringing their own strengths and foibles to the mix. Perfect for readers who have carried their love of dinosaurs into middle school, the novel is also a strong fit for readers who want dystopias but aren’t quite ready for the bleakness of The Hunger Games. Unresolved mysteries and a few surprising last-minute reveals leave plenty for the adventurers to learn in expected sequels and will leave readers hungry for more. AM

Not bad right? Here’s hoping that everyone else agrees!

I also wanted to share an article recently done by Illiana Christian High School’s newspaper The Echo. I was interviewed by the talented Kassidy Weemhoff, Arts Editor extraordinaire and the following article was the result. (Click on the ARTS PAGE hyperlink to see it. For some reason the file isn’t playing nice with my computer!)

I will be back soon to post about the awesome event I participated in at Carmel High School called Writing Con last week.

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I got to meet so many amazing authors, and it was capped off with my first honest to goodness author event at Barnes & Noble! (Spoiler, it was surreal, and even though I tried to play it cool, I totally wasn’t.)