Friday, July 29, 2011


And the very first beautiful ARC of Circle of Secrets goes to . . .

Theresa Milstein!!!

Congratulations, Theresa, and please send me an email with your snail mail so I can pop it in the mail to you! kglittle at msn dot com

It was very interesting to hear everyone's views and guesses on the ARC synopsis and the Fall Catalog synopsis, but most of you were right!

#1 synopsis is the Scholastic Catalog and #2 is the ARC! :-)

Catalogs are put together early and I was still working on the edits so a new and fuller, more detailed version was written for the ARC - which will also be on the finished copies. TWO MONTHS UNTIL IT'S IN STORES!!!

And my apologies for the lateness of the Winner's name. Last Friday I took a sudden trip out of state for two different family emergencies. Still traveling home actually . . . have a good weekend and I'll be back on Monday with something . . . wracking brain . . . brain cells are stagnant and not working properly after very little sleep and stress and strain and cars and trains and planes.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Something fun for the weekend!

Okay, this link takes you to a very cool commercial: It will give you the shivers, and then make you laugh! Watch it with a friend, your hubby, wife, sister, family. It's SO well done, clever, and I will never look at the *product* it's selling the same again. 

And in case you missed it go to my post from Wednesday and choose your favorite summary of the plot from the ARC/Finished Book OR Scholastic Fall Catalog -  and you'll be entered to win the very first ARC of my upcoming book, CIRCLE OF SECRETS!!!

Ends Wednesday, July 27th at midnight!

I'm off to a family reunion out of state for the next few days! So I'll be driving with two toddlers and a 9 month old - wish me luck! Making chocolate chip cookies at the moment . . . I'll need 'em! And one of those 44 oz Big Gulps for the road!

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guess the cover copy - and win an ARC!!!

So I have this lovely, delicious ARC of CIRCLE OF SECRETS (October 1, 2011, Scholastic). See how pretty and spooky and intriguing? (Erin McGuire is the artist! Go to her link for *more* of the artwork of Circle of Secrets!)

The ARC has a synopsis and the Scholastic 2011 Catalog has a synopsis - can you guess which one is which???

Here they are:

#1: Shelby Jayne has just moved from the city to the Louisiana bayou to live with her mamma, who left Shelby and her dad one year ago. Harboring so much anger and hurt, Shelby is devastated when she is treated as a total outcast at school and her classmates torment her. After one especially nasty incident, she is chased to a graveyard, where she meets  strange young girl. Instantly, the two become friends. But very soon, strange thing start to happen.

Shelby Jayne begins to find mysterious blue bottles with ancient messages hidden inside--messages written in the same handwriting as her new friend's She wants to ask her mamma for help, but something is stopping her. Suddenly Shelby has to wonder if there's more to the town's secrets than she thought . . .

#2: After her mother walked out on Shelby Jayne and her dad, Shelby thought she'd never speak to her mamma again. But with her dad leaving the country for work, it turns out she doesn't have a choice: Shelby has to move back into her mamma's house, deep in the heart of the Louisiana bayou.

Her new classmates tease and torment her, so Shelby's relieved to finally find a friend in Gwen, a mysterious girl who lives alone on the bayou. But Shelby can't help wondering if Gwen has something to do with the puzzling messages she finds hidden in the blue bottle tree behind her house. The only person who might be able to explain is her mamma--but Shelby's not ready to ask. Not yet. It may take a brush with something from the beyond to help Shelby see that the power to put her own ghosts to rest is within her reach.

Give me your guess in the comments AND tell me which one you like best!

Everyone will be entered to win the ARC!

Winner announced next Wednesday, July 27th! Spread the word for extra entries - blogs/facebook/twitter! This is the very first ARC giveaway for this new book!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Scholastic Fall 2011 Catalog!

I'm in it! Pages 32 & 78 - if you happen to have a copy! Wow, even though I've been in a Publisher's Catalog before, it is still such a thrill, I can't even explain it. I think, "It's real! My words are really a book! I'm an author - no way! Yes, way! My stories are going to be in bookstores and online and in Book Fairs!" People will be reading them. Kids will be reading them.

Being a Fall Title also makes me so nervous I feel a little sick. :-)

Since The Healing Spell is coming out with a brand *new* paperback cover September 1, it almost feels like a new book. It will also be an e-book! Scholastic is bringing it out on the Kindle/Nook, etc and I hear it's going to be gorgeous!!! Can't wait! 

My sister says Circle of Secrets is even better than The Healing Spell. She's a teacher - does that count even though she's my sister and loves me???

Friday, July 15, 2011

Great article on Blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, etc.

Since my blog post yesterday on this topic, I found THIS today. Such a great and interesting way to look at why we get addicted, how we get addicted, and what we can do to stop the *madness*.

Creative Kryptonite and the Death of Productivity

Interesting comments section, too.

What do YOU do to unplug and stop the endorphins for at least a little while?

Here is something else I read every so often: Are-you-blogging-too-much?

There ARE writers who stay unplugged - and they are very productive and are having great careers. 

Lots of food for thought!

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Are you a Schmoozer?

On Tuesday evening, we had our monthly New Mexico SCBWI chapter schmooze. I almost never miss. We have the BEST Schmooze Coordinator, Brian Herrera - or as we lovingly call him The Schmoozinator!

I first met Brian two years ago - hmm, or was it three April's ago? - at our annual NM Handsprings SCBWI conference (go to the link for this year's Handsprings with some FAB editors/agents/art director in October) and we ended up at the same table. Brian started writing for children and teens fairly recently, but he's a multi-published professor in the Theatre Dept at UNM, and has been on the road with his one-act play, I WAS THE VOICE OF DEMOCRACY - a terrific one-man show! My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it! (Go to this link for future performances - he'll be in Chicago in August!). 

Brian has become a warm and supportive writer friend of mine and I'm excited about the YA novel he's working on - and about which I just *have this feeling* will one day be well-published and receive tons of awards. He's just that kind of talented!

Every month we have a great topic for our schmoozes and it's always a terrific discussion and conversation. Our Schmoozes started to die a bit and with Brian we sometimes have nearly 30 people there now.

"To Blog or Not to Blog - that is the Question!" was our topic this month.
Or you could say
"To Facebook or Not to Facebook"
"To Goodreads or Not to Goodreads"
"To Twitter or Not to Twitter"
"To Google + or Not to Google +"

I personally fell into blogging 5 years ago when it was just getting off the ground. Writers and illustrators were migrating away from MySpace and doin' the blogging thang. I figured I'd better jump in, but wish now that I'd waited and figured it out. Hopefully that doesn't matter so much anymore.

Our discussion made me think about why I Blog/Facebook/Goodreads/Occassionally Twitter - although my brain starts contorting into strange shapes and I feel screams of panic coming on after about 10 minutes of trying to keep track of conversations on Twitter.

Reason #1: Writing is a lonely, solitary occupation. I've been at it for more years than I care to count, and even though I'm actually pretty shy and LOVE being a homebody, I do like talking and reading about the craft of writing and publishing VERY MUCH and being a part of the community, and getting inspired by all of you - and know what's going on with other writers around the country.

Reason #2: I'd parted ways with my agent of 10 years (amicably and I will always love her) and I found myself panicked that I would ever get another agent or sell another book. Especially with the way the children's and teen literature has been changing the past few years. I used blogging in a very systematic, purposeful way to find and research and compare literary agents. I made up a huge list, emailed other writers, and finally found my PERFECT MATCH THAT I HOPE WILL BE FOREVER!!!!

So how did YOU fall into blogging? Do you still like it? Will you continue? Would you like to see it change in any way?

At one point I was trying to keep up with hundreds of bloggers/blogs who posted daily and I admit I got burned out. With all the deadlines the past two years and book launches, I read my favorites now, only comment occasionally, but always hope to do better! Lots of *KimberleyBloggerFail* going on in 2010 and 2011.

I sorta wish I could shout out to everyone: Please only post once or twice a week so I can keep up!!!!!!!!!

Tell me what you think!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Greetings from Nowhere - with Barbara O'Connor!

This is an adorable photo of my wonderful friend, Barbara O'Connor. I'm a part of the FROM THE MIXED UP FILES . . . OF MIDDLE-GRADE AUTHORS blog (one of the founders, no less!) and today I got to post an interview with Barbara so I've copied it here on my personal blog. 

But GO TO THE SITE and leave a comment to be entered to win one of her books! 

Let me start out by stating one mind-boggling fact.

Barbara and I *met* online fourteen years ago on an old AOL board for children’s writers. That AOL message board was the first of its kind when the internet started becoming something more than just email–the same year Google was invented – but we hadn’t yet *heard* the term “google”. BEFORE bloggers or websites for authors. Boy, that sounds like something from ancient history!

Barbara and I have been email pen pals for FOURTEEN years – and we have *never* met in person. That’s right. We’ve spoken on the phone a few times (she was the first person I called – after my hubby – when I got my 3-book deal with Scholastic two years ago!), but our paths have never crossed at the right moment and the right place in space and time. We both keep sayin’ “someday”! Barbara is one of the best Middle-Grade writers out there and a darling and has been one of my most supportive friends in the biz of writing books for kids. So of course I had to showcase her here on From the Mixed-Up Files!

Here’s the officially awesome bio:

Barbara O’Connor is the author of award-winning novels for children, including How to Steal a Dog, The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, and The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. Drawing on her South Carolina roots, Barbara’s books are known for their strong Southern settings and quirky characters. In addition to four Parents Choice Awards and five state children’s choice awards, Barbara’s distinctions include School Library Journal Best Books, Kirkus Best Books, Bank Street College Best Books, and ALA Notables. She currently has books on over twenty state children’s book award lists. Barbara is a popular visiting author at schools and a frequent speaker at conferences around the country.

Website:  You can also find her on Facebook and at her blog, Greetings from Nowhere!

Barbara, since we are ALL about Middle-Grade Books , tell us about some of your favorite MG books – as a kid and as an adult.

As a kid, I loved mysteries: Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden. One of my favorites was The Pink Motel by Carol Ryrie Brink. I also enjoyed some of the classics, like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

* Did you always want to be a writer? How did you fall into it? Why do you write?

I’ve always loved writing. As a kid, I was forever writing poems and stories. As an adult, I’ve had many jobs but became interested in writing for children when I took a course at UCLA while living in California. Then I attended the national SCBWI conference as a total newbie and that was it….I was hooked.

* Tell us a bit about your process? Outline? Wing it?

Oh, how I would love to have an outline! I’m one of those organized folks who takes great pleasure in all things tidy. But, alas, my writing process never works that way. I start with a hazy seed of an idea that is often no more than a title or a first sentence. For instance, The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester started with: “Owen Jester tiptoed across the gleaming linoleum floor and slipped the frog into the soup.” That’s it! That’s all I had.

I grope my way along from there, usually not even knowing the ending. I hate that process, but that’s the way it always is for me.

I think I’m going to be ducking rotten tomatoes when I tell you I don’t do many drafts or major revisions. *she ducks* But that’s because I’m a very tidy writer who can NOT move forward unless everything behind me is as polished as I can get it. I’m often told by well-meaning writers, “Just keep going. You can go back.” But that’s not my way.

Naturally, I do revisions after the manuscript is turned in, but have never had to do major story overhauls. I might tweak an ending or tighten a scene or develop a character or relationship more, but not total significant rewrites.

* What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer? As a reader?

As a writer: Tell the story the way that only YOU can tell it. Find your unique writing voice and listen to it at all times.

As a reader: If you forget about the writer while you’re reading, that’s a well-written book.

* You do a LOT of school visits around the country. What is one of your most memorable/funny moments while on the road or speaking.

Oh, kids, kids, kids….I love kids!!! Yes, I have spoken to hundreds (thousands?) over the years. I love it when they want to show me their writing or tell me about the books they have written. I love how they are so much alike, no matter where they live – yet so different and unique, too. I love how honest they are.

I had one moment that is far from funny but definitely memorable. I had gone to a school where the teacher did not want to read Me and Rupert Goody to the class because there is a mention of the mother slapping her misbehaving boys, “leaving her red hand-prints on their cheeks,” (referred to as “child abuse” by the teacher). Three days later, I was at a school brainstorming ways to show anger (versus telling). I asked the students what people DO when they are angry. A third grade boy said, “When I splash water out of the bathtub, my mother slaps me.”

That was a reminder to me that children DO experience the unpleasant things in life. And I believe that authors don’t need to censor those things or ignore them. Perhaps that will help children be more understanding and empathetic. Or maybe a child will find comfort in knowing he is not alone. I write realistic fiction, so I’ve never shied away from addressing realistic issues.

Oops! How did I end up here on my soapbox? Sorry. *steps down*

* Can you give us your personal thoughts about where books are headed in this new century of technology and your thoughts about literacy for MG kids?

Oh, geez…hmmm…I’m afraid I don’t pay as much attention to the business side of things as I should. But obviously e-books are growing in leaps and bounds.

As for literacy for MG kids, I worry that the economy is hitting school librarians. Such a worry. I think librarians are the vital link in literacy.

* Favorite Southern foods:

Anything fried (which is everything in the South), BISCUITS, hushpuppies, boiled peanuts, pimiento cheese sandwiches

* What’s coming up next in the Barbara O’Connor world?

A middle-grade novel with NINE points of view. Phew…that one almost killed me. The title is ON THE ROAD TO MR. MINEO’S. It’s about a one-legged pigeon named Sherman. Tentative pub date is Fall 2012 with Macmillan/FSG/Frances Foster.

Nine points of view! Sounds very difficult – but very intriguing!

Thank you so much for being here, Barbara, and for all of you readers out there in Mixed-Up File Land–if you haven’t read one of Barbara’s fantastic Middle-Grade novels, go get yourself one pronto and settle in for a real treat!

AND as an EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS for joining us today, we’re giving away not one, but TWO of Barbara’s books! A paperback of HOW TO STEAL A DOG and a hardcover of GREETINGS FROM NOWHERE!

Leave a comment at this link and TWO winners will be announced this Thursday, July 14th!

Kimberley Griffiths Little was also a mystery lover as a kid and recently gave up outlining because it reminds her too much of homework. Her middle-grade novels with Scholastic Press are: THE HEALING SPELL which won the Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010 and is on the Bank Street College Best Book of 2011. CIRCLE OF SECRETS will publish October 1, followed by WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME sometime in Fall/Winter of 2012.   Please visit to download the free guides for teachers and book clubs.

Friday, July 08, 2011

More ALA!

I only got to attend ALA the one day, Saturday, June 25th which was the day of my signing - and Scholastic had STACKS of The Healing Spell and STACKS of ARCs of Circle of Secrets which were all snatched up in about 10-15 minutes! So very cool.

But I got to meet some longtime online friends and have a burger lunch on the *floor* of the (cafeteria) there in the exhibit halls, ha, ha. Felt like high school again!

The amazing, adorable, generous and very sweet Shannon Messenger!!!

The gorgeous, kind and darling Carolina Valdez Miller!!!

Kimberly Weiner Marcus, darling, fun and long-time online friend author of the amazing novel, EXPOSED!!! (And we have the same agent, too!)

NEW friend, Sara Ann McClung

Next time I gotta stay more than one day and meet all the people that I wanted to meet and didn't get to! 

But the ARC I snagged that I'm most excited to read but will not give away until AFTER I've read it is none other than Maggie Stievfater's upcoming delicious novel: THE SCORPIO RACES!!!

Happy Weekend! And stay tuned for the beginning of next week's AMAZING SUMMER GIVEAWAYS!!!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

ALA in New Orleans, 2011!!!

What can I say? It was awesome, overwhelming, wonderful, exciting, and I LOVED the people at Scholastic! They were so warm and friendly and helpful and took me under their wing. There were Scholastic publishing offices people there from New York City as well as Book Fair folks from around the country who man the offices and warehouses and buy and sell books to schools and bookstores. Really impressive people, I loved them!

Here's a couple of pictures below and there are lots more at Facebook with tags and descriptions if you'd like to take a peek. Go here! ALA New Orleans Pictures!

And if we aren't friends on Facebook yet, please Friend me!

After ALA, I traveled Louisiana for another 5 days and went on a swamp tour on Bull Run Bayou and to Nottaway Plantation, and the LDS Temple in Baton Rouge, and visited friends on Bayou Long, and did some filming for my book trailer for my upcoming book, Circle of Secrets. Fun stuff!

So more pictures coming later this week! Stay tuned!



Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

Time travel, war, love, rattlesnakes, magic . . .

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