New Voice: Lisa Jenn Bigelow on Starting From Here

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Lisa Jenn Bigelow is the first-time author of Starting From Here (Amazon Books, formerly Marshall Cavendish, 2012). From the promotional copy:

Sixteen-year-old Colby Bingham’s heart has been broken too many times. Her mother is dead, her truck driver father is always away, and her almost girlfriend just dumped her for a guy. 

When an injured stray dog lands at her feet,

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New Voice & Giveaway: Barbara Elizabeth Walsh on The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans

Check out the teacher’s guide and the discussion/activity guide.

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Barbara Elizabeth Walsh is the first-time author of The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans, illustrated by Layne Johnson (Calkins Creek, 2012). From the promotional copy:


Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, successfully established the Flanders Field Memorial Poppy as a universal symbol of tribute and support for veterans and their families during World War I and II. 

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New Voice: J.A. Souders on Renegade

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

J.A. Souders is the first-time author of Renegade (Tor, 2012). From the promotional copy:

Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s believed that everything is perfect. 

Her world.

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Guest Post: Mika Ashley-Hollinger on Character & Setting in Mystery

By Mika Ashley-Hollinger

To keep mystery and suspense throughout your story, up until the very last page, you need to engage the imagination of the reader at all times.

In my debut young adult novel Precious Bones (Delacorte, 2012), I tried to create suspense and mystery by using my young protagonist’s self doubts and the unique environment of a swamp.

I also created characters that bordered on the edge of being bigger than life.

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New Voice: Mike Jung on Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Mike Jung is the first-time author of
Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities
(Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2012) and also is a contributor to
Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves, edited by E. Kristen Anderson and Miranda Kenneally (Zest Books, 2012) and
the forthcoming Break These Rules!

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New Voice & Giveaway: Melissa Guion on Baby Penguins Everywhere!

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Melissa Guion is the first-time author-illustrator of Baby Penguins Everywhere! (Philomel, 2012)(blog). From the promotional copy:


Can there be such a thing as too many adorable penguins?


One day a penguin sees a most unusual sight: a hat floating in the icy water.

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New Voice: Hillary Hall De Baun on Starring Arabelle

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Hillary Hall De Baun is the first-time author of Starring Arabelle (Eerdmans, 2012). From the promotional copy:


Impulsive, romantic Arabelle Archer is determined to make the most of her freshman year. She’ll audition for the school play and soon be on her way to the stardom she knows is her destiny.


Arabelle’s year gets off to a unexpectedly rocky start,

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New Voice & Giveaway: Donna Cooner on Skinny

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Donna Cooner is the first-time author of Skinny (Scholastic, 2012). From the promotional copy:

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. 

These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds,

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New Voice: Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Tiffany Schmidt is the first-time author of Send Me A Sign (Walker-Bloomsbury, 2012). From the promotional copy:

Mia is always looking for signs. A sign that she should get serious with her on-again, off-again soccer-captain boyfriend. A sign that she’ll get the grades to make it into an Ivy-league school. A sign that the summer before senior year will be the best one yet.

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New Voice & Giveaway: Kim Baker on Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School

By Cynthia Leitich Smith

Kim Baker is the first-time author of Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School (Roaring Brook, 2012)(excerpt). From the promotional copy:

This is the story of The League of Picklemakers



Ben: who began it all by sneaking in one night and filling homeroom with ball-pit balls.

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