New Voice: Dawn Metcalf on Luminous

Dawn Metcalf is the first-time author of Luminous (Dutton, 2011). From the promotional copy:

When sixteen-year old Consuela Chavez discovers that she can remove her skin, revealing a lustrous mother-of-pearl skeleton, she slips into a parallel world known as the Flow; a place inhabited by archetypal teens with extraordinary abilities.  

Crafting skins out of anything – air, water, feathers, fire – she is compelled to save ordinary people from dying before their time.

Yet now someone is murdering her new friends, one by one, and Consuela finds herself the focus of an intricate plot to end the Flow forever when all she really wants is to get back home, alive.

In writing your story, did you ever find yourself concerned with how to best approach “edgy” behavior on the part of your characters? If so, what were your thoughts, and what did you conclude? Why do you think your decision was the right one?

My friends and family joke that I’ve never been desensitized to violence like a normal person, and this is true. However, I was raised on an odd diet of innocence and bloody, psychological carnage (i.e. classic cartoon violence and very graphic graphic novels).

I love the dark, the beautiful, the tragic and the hopeful, and the books I liked best were those that reflected that weird recipe: Grimms’ fairy tales, old origin myths, and stories like The Happy Prince and Other Tales by Oscar Wilde (David Nutt, 1888) were those that—if you cocked your head and squinted—could almost be real if you used your imagination.

The book on my parent’s coffee table, The Secret Book of Gnomes by Wil Huygen, illustrated by Rien Poortvliet (Harry N. Abrams, 1984), was the first to make me question what was real and what was make believe. (Perhaps this wasn’t the best book for a five year old to read.) That book in particular made me a huge fan of intricate world-building from J.R.R. Tolkien to J.K. Rowling.

by J.K. Rowling

I am a genre reader and writer, a lover of the “What If…?” especially how it could impact our world and vice versa (this was before the advent of YA literature and long before the term “Urban Fantasy”).

The best examples from my YA years were the Gandalara Series by Randall Garrett and Vicki Ann Heydron (Spectra, 1986), The Seventh Sword by Dave Duncan (Del Rey, 1988), The Architect of Sleep by Steven R. Boyett (Ace Books, 1986), the modern faery Bordertown books by Terri Windling, cult-classic cyberpunk novels by William Gibson, the nanotech/Turing Machine universe of Neal Stephenson, to most recently, the epic world of Harry Potter (Bloomsbury, 1997). The last of which is perhaps the best example of innocence and goodness in the face of bloody, psychological evil. I like that. However, it’s a lot harder to write!

I was raised by high school sweethearts who believed in World Peace, Love, and Togetherness, and I wanted to write dark, twisted fantasy books.

A friend of mine (who was incidentally the art director of my 3-D animated book trailer), is one of the happiest, most centered people I know and yet he creates the most delightfully disturbing art that is somehow also very real. He once told me that his art is where he “puts it all,” and that speaks to me.

Writing is where I can make sense out of all the things that make no sense, it’s where I process what could have been instead of accepting what (supposedly) “is”. It’s where I can tap into the “edgy” and “gritty” details that disturb even my more desensitized readers.

There were two scenes in particular that I remember struggling with so badly that I found myself doing anything else rather than sit down to write them; I did the dishes, folded the laundry, swept dead leaves off of the porch…when I realized that I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor, I knew that I was desperately avoiding something or had finally succumbed to domestic insanity.

These scenes bothered me deeply, and yet I knew I had to write them, so I finally sat down, took a deep breath, and dived in. One scene remained in the book, and the other was edited out—I’m not sure if I was hurt or relieved at either decision.

But I learned a lot about myself and about writing taking those tough scenes head-on, and it taught me to respect that there is a giant separation between myself and my characters; I am not my characters, though I may love them and/or hate them, and they should not be limited by my own, personal ethics.

If I claim to believe that everyone is created equal, that means everyone—regardless of race, religion, gender, creed, politics or sexual orientation—has equal chance of being good, bad, innocent, guilty, a bully, victim, protagonist or antagonist, and what is most important isn’t the easy label, but the character of the character. That was something very hard and very worthwhile to discover: my own reluctance and inner P.C. that had to sit down and shut up.

As a paranormal writer, how did you go about building your world?

Check out Officially Twisted, Dawn’s LJ.

Like Lego blocks. Seriously.

My paranormal world, the Flow, is a jigsaw puzzle of all these different important places mish-mashed together, but I couldn’t make them all fit into a cohesive whole…so I didn’t. I simply plunked one piece next to another and said that was how it worked.

The Flow became sort of a virtual space, a lot like an interactive online game, where everything is co-created and each part is meaningful to the person who designed and inhabited it.

This shared world is continually adding, growing, changing, and being directly affected by whoever and whatever’s come next.

I like that evolutionary feeling, that co-dependence on one another in order to survive. Imagine asking a room full of people, “Where is your favorite place on Earth?” and everyone takes a different mental snapshot in their brain. Make a collage of all those snapshots, pin it in an amorphous cloud, and you have something resembling the Flow.

In addition to the Flow, there is the main character’s “dreamtime” where Consuela exists in a sort of world-between-worlds. This is based on the Mexican holiday the Day of the Dead where the veil between worlds is at its thinnest (as are holidays like Samhain, Halloween, etc.).

This is where all my fun research came into play so I could have a vibrant and fantastical place to explore separate from the reality-influenced world that takes up most of the book. The outer edge of the raw Flow and the warped, candlelit fiesta are my favorite places in the book.

It has head-bendy qualities as some of my favorite movies like “Inception” or “Labyrinth,” where places aren’t quite what they seem and mirror echoes of previous details, hinting at something deeper, darker, and potentially lost. I think that helps give a sense of clinging tightly to the person next to you despite the strangeness and differences that would otherwise keep you apart.

There is unsettling quality to the Flow, the dreams, and its people that make it possible for a skinless, pearlescent skeleton to seem not-so-strange and almost beautiful in comparison. The world had to start and end with Consuela and I hope I managed that.

Guest Post: Cat Urbigkit on Nonfiction: “Every Picture Tells a Story”

By Cat Urbigkit

Here’s a story:

Here’s another story:

I sincerely believe that every picture does tell a story, and as a nonfiction author who uses photography to illustrate my books for young readers, it’s my job to provide narration that can accompany and enhance each picture, but never replace it.

For each of my books, images are carefully selected as stand-alone pieces that children can go back to examine independently – to “read” the story in each image. I work so that even children who are not yet old enough to read and understand the words can get a “read” from the images.

As a child, my favorite books were always illustrated, and I spent many hours letting an illustration (painting, drawing, or photograph) transport me into another world.

Those large-sized animal farm books full of photos, Robert Lawson’s drawings in Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand (1936), and N.C. Wyeth’s paintings illustrating Majorie Kinnan Rawlings’s The Yearling have been life-long favorites.

As an adult, I produce books aimed at that childhood reader I once was. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I think it’s a logical sequence for voracious readers to become writers.

I have a deep love of literature, and am devoted to the specificity of the English language, which makes nonfiction writing a natural genre for me.

My interest in photography began in my teenage years, but it wasn’t until my husband, Jim, presented me with a quality camera as a gift that I was really able to begin to work to develop my craft. The years of trial-and-error, and small fortunes spent in film and film-processing costs, made for slow going, but I started writing news and feature articles for local newspapers, with a few photos published every now and then.

Few of my photos were outstanding, but I was able to experiment with subject matter, and discovered that my best shots were of those subjects that I care for most – all centered on life on western rangelands.

I live on a working domestic sheep ranch in western Wyoming, where we also raise livestock guardian dogs to protect our sheep herd from predators.

Charmed by witnessing the encounters of the animals as they interacted, I began trying to capture those moments with my camera. Jim looked at my images and suggested I should try to put together a book since most people are totally unaware of the unique bond that forms between the animals.

Firmly in agreement with Theodor Seuss Geisel’s view that “Adults are just obsolete children and the hell with them,” I decided to target my effort toward children.

Selecting from my very best images, I picked the photos that would help to tell the story, and wrote captions for those images, organizing the photos into a logical flow. I sent the photocopied manuscript dummy to ten publishers and got interest back from three publishing houses. As it turns out, there were no competing titles in print – this was almost entirely new subject matter for young readers.

It was an easy decision for me when Kent Brown of Boyds Mills Press (AKA Farmer Brown) called me to try to negotiate a contract, but we ended up deep in a discussion of the merits of various sheep breeds.

It’s a decision I’ve never regretted, and Brave Dogs, Gentle Dogs: How They Guard Sheep was published in 2005, soon winning a variety of awards, including one from the International Reading Association. It was just released in a new Spanish/English bilingual edition.

Kids like role-playing, imagining themselves in the roles they read in books, and they also enjoy looking at photos of other kids. I photographed my son Cass for A Young Shepherd, which describes how a young boy begins his own sheep herd by caring for orphan lambs.

It’s an activity undertaken by kids all over the world every year, so the book serves as a good introduction to animal husbandry for those who might develop that interest.

What kid hasn’t imaged being a cowboy on the western range? While the general public might think it’s is a thing of the past, I decided to show kids that cowboys still exist, but probably not as they had considered. To create Cattle Kids: A Year on the Western Range, I followed about a dozen children I knew that live on family cattle ranches. It took me a full year to gather all the photos, showing that it’s not just cowboys that work on the range, but cattle kids.

This is the only book for which I had to develop a detailed outline so that I could be sure to capture the needed images to tell the story. It had to include both boys and girls of varied ages, in all seasons, doing an assortment of important cattle work, with some riding horses and others riding motorcycles. I wanted kids to be able to imagine being cattle kids too, so they needed to be provided with a variety of role models.

Puppies Puppies Everywhere! provided a good break in my publishing pattern, allowing me to expand into rhyme. I selected some fun images of puppies (believing you can’t go wrong if the subject matter is puppies) and worked to develop a rhyming two-word text for each image, with the word “puppy” being one of the two words.

In this manner, those not-yet-readers can hear the book read aloud to them a few times, and are able to demonstrate their abilities by “reading” the book back to the adults. Even though some of the words are somewhat sophisticated for the young reader, the photos provide the reader with context for understanding those words, and the combination serves as a learning tool.

The Shepherd’s Trail expands on the theme of working on the western range, but it focuses on a rarely seen component – sheepherding, which is the substantially the same now as it was 100 years ago. Instead of using children to illustrate this book, I followed shepherds from a variety of cultures (including Basques and Nepalese) again to provide a variety from which imaginations can be set free to roam.

Path of the Pronghorn is my first wildlife title, and the first for which I didn’t provide the photography. Instead, talented friend Mark Gocke makes his first venture into the children’s book world with his striking images. This is what I hope will be the first of several titles we’ll team up to create. We want to share our love of western wildlife, and our interest in their daily lives, with others.

My next book, due out in Spring 2012, appeals to a child’s compassion for the underdog. The Guardian Team is a true story of six orphan lambs, a scraggly young wild burro taken from the wild, and the runt pup of a litter of livestock guardian dogs. All of these animals got off to a difficult start in life, but I put them all together and photographed them for the next few years as they interacted and grew into beautiful adults, living together as a single herd. It’s a twist on the “ugly duckling” I think kids will enjoy, and it’s a true story.

My books have been a natural progression for me, sharing my love of agriculture and the western range, laying out the facts for kids. I like nonfiction because you have to be honest with your readers – no glossing over the less-than-pleasant aspects. Kids are great truth detectives, so it’s a good match for me.

I think I’m an exception to the general assumption that you’re either a writer or an illustrator. Because of the life I lead, I must be both. While many western ranchers see beautiful, unusual or striking images every day, they carry those pictures in their minds. I carry a camera all the time and work very hard to capture the image so that I can show others what it is that I see. And I constantly work to find the words to compliment those images.

For me, the story simply wouldn’t come without the pictures.

Five tips for better photos:

  1. Backgrounds matter: be sure to pay attention to the background of your shot. Is the landscape something you want to include, or do you need to change the shot to eliminate a distraction?
  2. As you look through the camera viewfinder, think like an artist or movie director – frame the shot for the best visual impact. Are there elements of the foreground or background you can use to enhance the shot?
  3. Use different angles: try the shot both horizontally and vertically, zooming in for different perspectives.
  4. Go low: If you’re shooting photos you hope captures the attention of a child, take your photos from that level. Squat down, get on your knees, or even lay down on the ground for a fresh perspective.
  5. Keep shooting: With digital photography, the cost of processing photos has been eliminated. Shoot plenty of images with different lenses, camera settings, perspectives, and angels. You can delete the ones you don’t like, and through the process of trial-and-error, you’ll discover what works for you.

New Voice: Tommy Greenwald on Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide To Not Reading

Tommy Greenwald is the first-time author of Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide To Not Reading (Roaring Brook, 2011).

Charlie Joe Jackson is proud to say that he’s never read an entire book from cover to cover. Sure, he’s glanced at the first chapter and last chapters and maybe even read the flap copy, but when it comes to actually reading what’s in the middle, Charlie counts on his friend Timmy McGibney to do the reading for him in exchange for an ice cream sandwich.

But when Timmy decides that his price has gone up to three ice cream sandwiches, Charlie Joe Jackson is faced with two very unappealing options: let himself be blackmailed or read an entire book. What’s an enterprising non-reader to do?

How did you discover and get to know your protagonist? How about your secondary characters? Your antagonist?

This one’s easy. My protagonist, Charlie Joe Jackson, is a literal combination of my three kids: Charlie, Joe and Jack. They’re all in high school now, but in elementary and middle school they all hated to read. Hated it!

I’d always loved reading, even as a child, so it was extremely frustrating for me to drag them into a bookstore or library and watch them kick and scream and moan the whole time.

So when I sat down to write a book for kids, I knew it had to be one that even the most hardcore reluctant readers might respond to. And then I thought, what better way to attract non-readers than a book for kids who hate books? And when I decided it should be “written” by the narrator, the name Charlie Joe Jackson immediately popped into my head.

All the other characters in the book are based on friends of my kids’. The parents are based on myself (sloppy) and my wife (perfect). And the dogs, Moose and Coco, are modeled after and named after my own dogs, Moose and Coco (who are thanked in the acknowledgments).

How have you approached the task of promoting your debut book? What online or real-space efforts are you making? Where did you get your ideas? To whom did you turn for support? Are you enjoying the process, or does it feel like a chore? What advice do you have on this front for your fellow debut authors and for those in the years to come?

This is been an interesting process. I do not naturally have the self-promotion gene, and I’m not a huge social network guy, so I’ve really had to re-train my personality to gear up for this whole author thing.

I’ve done all the right things, I think – I facebook, I tweet, I blog (occasionally), I have a website – but it’s a real effort.

And I still basically feel like there’s a great big world of children’s book authors out there, and they’re all best friends, blogging and commenting and hanging out, and I’m kind of on the outside looking in.

Not to mention I see your online presence and become completely intimidated at how you’ve mastered this whole gig! Amazing.

But, the awesome thing is that as I dip my toe in to social network, I realize how great everyone is out there. How supportive, and friendly, and communicative.

The Elevensies website is a great example of a found community from all corners of the country who just all of a sudden have bonded over this intense experience. And it’s great.

So, it’s both a chore and a pleasure.

My advice to other writers about to launch is simply this: dive in. the water’s cold at first, but you’ll get used to it. And after a little while, it will feel great.

Cynsational News & Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies Giveaway

Enter to win one of two signed copies of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson (Wiley Publishing, 2011). To enter, comment on this post (click link and scroll to comment), mention “giveaway entry” and include an email address (formatted like: cynthia at cynthialeitichsmith dot com) or a link to an email address. Or you can email me directly with “Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies” in the subject line. Author-sponsored. Deadline: July 15. This giveaway is for U.S.-Canada readers.

In related news, from June 29 to July 5, Deborah is offering daily “Free First Chapter Critique” giveaways, free downloads, excerpts from the book, and profiles of the 13 authors (including Cynthia Leitich Smith!), editors, and agents who contributed sidebars to the book. As the grand finale, she’s giving away a “Free Full Manuscript Edit” on the final day of the launch. Click over to to check it out!

See Deborah on Why Perfectly Nice People Make Perfect Bad Guys from Cynsations. Note: five ways to make your antagonist believably sympathetic.

See also Guest Teaching Author Interview with Deborah Halverson and Book Giveaway by Carmela Martino from Teaching Authors: Six Children’s Authors Who Also Teach Writing.

More News

Author Websites: The Basics from Kathleen Ortiz: Publishing + Digital + Chai = My Life. Peek: “Do not have automatic music: if someone’s at work or in a quiet house and forgot the sound is on, it will irritate them and send them packing, never to return!”

Million-Dollar Mommy: Judy Blundell Moves from Star Wars to Noir by Nina Shengold and photographs by Jennifer May from Chronogram Magazine. Peek: “A hundred or so books into her career, at her editor’s urging, Judy Blundell finally published one under her own name. Her breakthrough teen noir What I Saw And How I Lied (Scholastic, 2008) won a National Book Award. Source: April Henry.

If I Were an Unpublished Writer, Would I Self-Publish? by Bob Mayer from Write It Forward: The Future of Publishing Is Here. Peek: “The more I think about it, the more I feel for a new writer with no backlist, the most important thing to do is write three manuscripts first, before investing heavily in promotion.” Source: QueryTracker.netBlog.

Five Thoughts About Writer Publicity by Patty Jansen from Must Use Bigger Elephants. Peek: “Publicity is not something you do for a few days, and then let it take care of itself. It’s something that takes a long time building up, and that improves if you put regular effort into it. It’s not something that ever goes away, either.” Source: Jon Gibbs at An Englishman in New Jersey.

Get Corked: The Screenwriters’ Trick for Plotting by Stina Lindenblatt from Seeing Creative. Peek: “Obviously, this is ideally done before you write your first draft. But even if you’ve written your first draft (or your third or fifth draft), you can still use this tool.” Source: QueryTracker.netBlog.

Congratulations to Donna Bowman Bratton for signing with literary agent Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary, and congratulations to Karen for signing Donna!

Recommended by Booklist.

Top Ten Biographies for Youth by Ilene Cooper from Booklist. Note: an annotated bibliography.

Infographic Reveals the Best Times to Post on Twitter and Facebook by Megan O’Neill from Social Times: Your Social Media Source.

A Bridge to Story by R.L. LaFevers from Shrinking Violet Promotions. Peek: “One of the things that I especially love about the beat sheet is that it takes narrative structure out of the lofty realms of literary criticism or writer’s workshops and puts the structure in terms that any reader would understand.”

The Buffy Effect by Joy Prebel from Joy’s Novel Idea. Peek: “…over the years, it was like a tutorial of storytelling – of how to mix pathos and humor and horror, how to hit the right funny beats, how to arc a series and characters and make it all blend.” Note: “Buffy” had a huge impact on my writing. I often reference in in my author talks and author’s notes.

Publishing and Why You Need a Game Plan: Keeping the Readers in Mind by Danyelle Leafty from QueryTracker.netBlog. Peek: “…keep your expectations real and write the next book. Find out what you should expect realistically and adjust yourself accordingly. And nothing keeps an author’s books selling like having the next book come out, especially if each book is better than the last.”

Cynsational Blogger Tip: Double check the spelling of names.

Interview with Alan Gratz by Mindy McGinnis from Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire. Peek: “Each rejection feels like a punch in the gut, whether it’s your first or your fiftieth. It’s whether you get up off the mat and take another swing that matters. Eventually you’re going to connect.”

New from Abrams.

Chatting with Poetry Man Lee Bennett Hopkins by Jama Rattigan from Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup. Peek: “A good anthology should have an arc. Most of my collections have a beginning, middle, and end so that readers feel they are completing a whole story.”

AmyKossBlogThang: new blog from the author of 14 teen novels and many L.A. Times articles.

Interview: Trent Reedy on Words in the Dust Part 2 by Uma Krishnaswami from Writing With a Broken Tusk. Peek: “I could have just as easily written ‘goodbye’ when Zulaikha said ‘khuda hafiz.’ I could have written ‘thank you’ when she said ‘tashakor.’ I wanted to keep those words and a few others in Dari because my fellow soldiers and I used them so often during our time in Afghanistan.” See also Part 1 and Part 3.

Diversity in YA Reading Challenge from Diversity in YA Lit. Features opportunities to participate for libraries, bloggers, and other readers. See the preliminary list of prizes.

The Politics of Story by Neesha Meminger from Hunger Mountain: the VCFA Journal of the Arts. Peek: “Everything is connected—the political, the creative, the economic, the social, the cultural, the personal. It is an intricately tangled web where each strand is an integral part of the whole. If we futz with one, we affect them all.”

Random Acts of Publicity (Sept. 6 to Sept. 9, 2011) from Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Get ready to spread some author/book love!

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (HarperTeen/US)

Why “World Rights, One Cover” Is Not the Best Idea by Ginger Clark, agent, Curtis Brown Ltd. Peek: “…the author benefits much more if they have a publisher on the ground in that country, doing their own homegrown promotion and creating a market-appropriate cover.”

Blogging Etiquette Dos and Don’ts by Jon Gibbs from An Englishman in New Jersey. Peek: “If you see a post you want to share with your readers, by all means link to it, but please don’t copy someone else’s journal entry into a post on your own blog (even if you do give credit to the original author in your introductory paragraph).”

First Drafts: Gary Soto’s ‘Talking to Myself’ and ‘Sunday Without Clouds’ by Alex Hoyt from The Atlantic. Peek: “I remember the first time I presented a poem to the class, all ten of us with sadness in our satchels. Buckley uncapped his fountain pen–a functional Parker–and began, ‘I think we have a poem here, but…'”

Parent-vision, Teen-vision, and What It Means for Books to Reach Their Audience from Ashley Perez. Peek: “I…fight my way toward an articulation of what’s a little off for me with the direction the #YAsaves conversation has gone.”

Poetry for the Very Young by Jan Fields from The Institute of Children’s Literature. Peek: “When dealing with young toddlers, they have difficulty grasping comparisons at all. To a toddler, dogs are so much like cats, that if you compare them, the child may have difficulty understanding that they are really different things at all.”

Celebrating the Journey: The Myth of Arrival by Salima Alikhan. Peek: “…we forget to savor what we have right now, the bliss of being intimate with our stories, just us and them, with no one’s hungry eyes on them yet. Every author who has written under pressure, saddled with expectations, probably yearned for just a taste of that freedom again.”

From Caroline Starr Rose

Book Clubs for Kids: Enter to Win a May B. Book Club Kit from Caroline Starr Rose from Caroline by Line.A great opportunity for reading circles and book clubs!

The kit would include:

  • Schwartz & Wade, Jan. 2012

    10 copies of May B.

  • discussion questions
  • background on the storyline and setting
  • copies of a literature-based assignment Caroline created called Where in the World Are We Reading (used successfully during her years teaching)
  • ideas for social studies and poetry tie-ins (if applicable)
  • bookmarks
  • CD with book trailer
  • interactive Skype visit

From Holly Thompson, SCBWI Tokyo Regional Advisor

Tomo, an anthology of YA fiction related to Japan, will be published by Stone Bridge Press in Spring 2012 to benefit teens in the quake- and tsunami-affected areas of Tohoku, Japan.

See details and submission guidelines. Note: The deadline is very tight–August 15–“since we are eager for the Tomo publication date to coincide with the 2012 one-year anniversary of the March 11 earthquake.”

Recap for Those at ALA

More Personally

Thanks to Kit and the YA Reading Group at the Cedar Park (Texas) Public Library for your hospitality last Saturday!

This week I reviewed Ming Doyle‘s first sketches for the Eternal graphic novel.
I also met with Austinite, Nikki Loftin. Learn about her 2012 debut middle grade novel.

Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith Review from Carmel at Rabid Reads. Peek: “I like a novel that plays on my emotions and Blessed definitely achieves that in spades.”

Check out this video of Boston Comic Con 2011 from Nerd Caliber, which includes Tantalize: Kieren’s Story illustrator Ming Doyle, dressed as Thor.

In conjunction with my traditional summer blockbuster quest, I saw “Green Lantern.” What I liked about it was depiction of the alien Lantern characters, iconic to the comics/mythology. I know this franchise has gotten off to a rocky critical start, but I’m a long-time fan of Hal Jordan and rooting for a great second movie. Note: my favorite Lantern is Kyle Rayner.

From Greg Leitich Smith:

Personal Links:

Cynsational Events

Jeff Crosby is launching Weiner Wolf (Hyperion, 2011) at 11:30 a.m. July 2 at BookPeople in Austin. Peek: “The Central Texas Dachshund Rescue will be here handing out information on how you can adopt a darling dachshund yourself – and will be bringing one of those wiener dogs for us to meet! We’ll have hot dogs to snack on, crafts to do, balloon animals, a costume contest, and cupcakes! Wiener Wolf, Granny, and a wolf might even make an appearance.” Don’t miss it! See also Jeff’s blog and learn more about him and the book from Mark G. Mitchell at How to Be a Children’s Book Illustrator. Here’s a quick promo video!

Jenny Moss will be signing at 2 p.m. July 16 at the Barnes & Noble Arboretum in Austin. Her latest book is Taking Off (Walker, 2011).

Jennifer Ziegler is hosting a launch party for Sass & Serendipity (Delacorte, 2011) at 2 p.m. July 23 at BookPeople in Austin.