Book Goodness

BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman

IMG_3242Could. Not. Put. This. Down.
I started BLACKHEARTS yesterday, but I had to work (gah! – but I’m a LIBRARIAN! Can’t I read while I work? Pretty please?) I snuck it in my purse and read a few chapters whenever I thought I could get away with it. Which is why I’m not “sharing” this on Facebook. Too many work acquaintances. 😉

Now, I’m not a huge fan of romance. My boss teases me every day that I should write historical romances and I hiss at her. But Anne and Teach had me HOOKED. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t watch Mission Impossible with the rest of the fam. I don’t like swoony romances – this is not one. Anne is such a smart character; I loved that she didn’t fall head-over-heels in love and act like a love-sick ninny. I also don’t like quicky romances, you know – met you today, in bed an hour later = true love. Blackhearts is not one of those, either. I LOVED the slow, sweet way these two fell in love and I couldn’t wait to read more.

I really, really, REALLY hope there is a sequel!

An Interview with Patrick Jennings – Author of Hissy Fitz

Author Photo

I’m so excited that I recently had the opportunity to interview Patrick Jennings as part of the Egmont’s Last List blog hop. I also will be giving away one of Patrick’s books after the interview, so be sure to enter!

I’m an elementary school librarian so Patrick Jennings, the author of Hissy Fitz, was at the top of my list. He has written so many books that I have in my library (and that I check out often to so many students!) I know Hissy Fitz will be a new favorite!

Hissy Fitz released last month from Egmont USA. Here’s a little about it, taken from the Egmont website.

Hissy Fitz Book CoverHissy Fitz lives with some two-legged creatures who are destined to serve him in every possible way and understand his every whim. Sadly, these creatures are sorely lacking in their skills. For one thing–they touch him when they want to touch him. Don’t they know that the two-legged are there for him to touch when he wants to–meaning when he wants food? Petting wakes him up! They speak to him–don’t they know the two-legged should be seen–so Hissy knows where to order food–and not heard! It’s becoming intolerable. What is this irascible cat to do?

EGMONT USA • ISBN: 978-606845967

Find the at your local book shop, or order it from your favorite online outlet via my website:

Follow Hissy Fitz’s twitter feed! @TheHissyFitz

“With its short chapters, snappy dialogue, and fast-moving plot, this book will be popular with newly independent readers.” —School Library Journal 

“Hissy’s drily delivered complaints and observations (“Humans are the noisiest creatures alive. I’m not sure there is any escape”) entertain, while Hissy’s frustration at his dependence on large humans who annoy him will likely resonate with many a reader.” Publisher’s Weekly 

Where did you get your inspiration for Hissy Fitz?

During a writing workshop with about a hundred fifth graders in Bloomfield, Michigan. We were brainstorming a story about a cat when one student suggested it be insomniac. When I asked how it might overcome its sleeplessness, another student raised his hand. “It could go see a life coach.” Other suggestions were tai chi, hypnosis, and exercise. I chose the latter.

I see that Hissy Fitz has his own Twitter account that is quite funny. Does he enjoy tweeting?

Hissy tweets on the family laptop after they have all gone to sleep and he isn’t able to. I don’t know if he enjoys tweeting per se, but it does seem to give him a platform to vent his rancor, which rarely cools.

What was the hardest part about writing the book?

Keeping the balance right. If Hissy became irredeemably nasty, no one would like him. But if I toned his nastiness down to the point that he was merely grouchy, he’s would lose the razor-sharp edge to his personality, which is what I think makes him distinctive.
Would you consider yourself a cat person?

I had cats for twenty years, but I was never an avowed cat person. I’m certainly not one of those crazy cat people. I never talked to my cats, or bought them clothing or jewels. I never subscribed to cat magazines. I never took a cat to a life coach. I ended up with a cat accidentally, and it worked out. Cats, like writers, are content to lounge around for hours during the day.

What is your favorite part of your main character, Hissy?

His self-possession. He knows who and what he is, what he needs and wants, and he doesn’t suffer fools lightly.


About Patrick:

Patrick Jennings’s books for young readers have received honors from Publishers Weekly, The Horn Book, Smithsonian Magazine, the PEN Center USA, the Woman’s National Book Association, and the Chicago and New York Public Libraries. The Seattle Public Library awarded his book, Guinea Dog, the Washington State Book Award of 2011. His book, Faith and the Electric Dogs, is currently being adapted for the screen. His new book, Hissy Fitz, was published in January 2015. He currently writes full time in his home in Port Townsend, Washington. 

Patrick generously donated a copy of Odd, Weird & Little (North American entries only, please) for me to give away to a lucky winner. To enter please see the entry area below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Now That You’re Here

nowThatYoureHereIt’s been a while, but I’m going to try to read (and review!) more books in 2015 – starting with NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE by Amy K. Nichols.

I was excited to read NOW THAT YOU’RE HERE because the parallel universe concept seemed unique and it didn’t disappoint. I was a little afraid that it would be too science-geeky for me and while a few of the concepts were over my head, the author did a fantastic job of making me NOT feel like an idiot while I was reading. 😉

It was so nice to have a book where the characters were smart and not superficial, and nice to have a YA book that didn’t try to push the envelope. I can already think of some of my science-loving students who are going to love reading this.

Can’t wait for the next book, WHILE YOU WERE GONE coming out on August 4th! (I thought I loved this cover, but WHILE YOU WERE GONE’s cover makes me swoon with all kinds of colory-starbursty love. Check it out and pre-order it while you do!

I Have Exciting News!

That I’ve put off posting for a month. Why is this so hard to put into words? I’m a writer, right? Words are supposed to be my thing. But maybe it’s that sometimes some things are too big for words. This would be one of those things.

My middle-grade novel, THE INHABITANT OF ALEXIS O’RILEY sold to Egmont USA!


All the feelings. All the words. All the screams.
But most of all, I’m so excited that the world will get the chance to know Nessa and Alexis, these characters who I’ve fallen in love with this past year.

Almost exactly five years ago I picked up a pen (or maybe it was a mechanical pencil?) and told my husband that I was going to write a book. He was ready to commit me, and I’m not just saying that to make this blog post all dramatic and interesting. He really thought I was crazy.

I had to learn a LOT that first year with that first book. When it was finished and I’d had lots of people read through it and give input I spent the next year sending it out to 100 agents. Ten of them read it, but eventually they all passed. I’m all about even numbers and 100 seemed like a good stopping point for me. It had been a year. I was ready to move on.

The next year I wrote another book and when it was done and polished I sent it out to some agents. There was a lot more interest, and it got me my wonderful agent, but it had the ‘dystopian curse’ attached to it.  As much as editors seemed to like it, it was a hard sell. I had major surgery and had to put my writing on hold for a year. At that point I was wondering if I’d ever be able to write again. Not that I didn’t try, I did. I hobbled out to the dining room a few times, propped my cast up on some pillows and wrote the first chapter of what would eventually become THE INHABITANT OF ALEXIS O’RILEY. But I hated what I wrote. The concept was good, I just had no interest in writing it. I wasn’t excited about it. So I left it alone.

Thankfully, about a year later I opened up the laptop again and got to work on INHABITANT. I wrote it in a month. Over the summer I went back and forth with my agent and his wonderful assistant, Sam. We worked out kinks, filled plot holes, and got it into shape.

Meanwhile, there is a children’s writing conference my friend, Renee and I go to every year – the Northern Ohio SCBWI Conference. I signed up for a critique of my first ten pages with an editor at Egmont USA named Alison Weiss. I would get to meet her face-to-face and let her rip apart what I’d written. (Sounds like fun, right?)

I try not to be nervous for these things, I’ve done them before and everyone is usually very polite when they point out all of the things you’ve done wrong. I had seen Alison in the big conference room during the general session and knew who she was because my friend had just been in one of her classes. When the session let out about a half-hour early, I was thrilled. It would give me time to run up to my room and brush my teeth before I met with her.

Renee and I quickly made our way to the elevators and stepped onto the same elevator as Alison. She mentioned to us that she was going up to start another round of critique meetings and I think I squeaked a “with me” or something silly like that. We were silent until the door opened and Alison must have seen my name on my name tag. She turned around and said, “Holly! I’m so excited to talk to you about your book!”

In my shocked stupor I think I said something like, “Uh, oh.” She backed out of the elevator, laughing, and said “Oh, no. It’s a good thing!”

And then I had to go up to my room, shaking, and wait a half-hour. I may or may not have brushed my teeth ten times. I may or may not have called my husband to freak out. I did tease a guy for belching loudly in the hallway.

With a little more hope that INHABITANT wouldn’t be ripped to pieces, I went back downstairs to meet with Alison. She was a complete sweetheart, and we had a good laugh about how she scared me in the elevator. And she LOVED my book. All of the words, all of the gushing, did my heart so good. She got it like I was hoping an editor would get it and I got to hear how much she loved it face-to-face. She couldn’t wait to read the rest and asked for me to have my agent send it to her as soon as possible. It was fifteen minutes that I won’t forget anytime soon. Maybe never. I think I floated out of the room.

But I was worried, too. She only read ten pages. What if she hates the other 178? I went back to my room and emailed Josh with her request, who in his infinite awesomeness replied to my email during his anniversary dinner with his wife. I’m so glad she’s just as infinitely awesome as her husband. 😉 I hope I didn’t get him in trouble.

Then the waiting began. It’s a killer. In that time I did a LOT of internet searches to see how long these things take and got everything from hours to days to months. So I’ll tell you that with mine it took a few days over a month from submission to offer.

I’m SO excited to work with Alison Weiss, who is just as lovely in person as she seems online. And I’m also so thrilled to now be an Egmont author. Everyone is so friendly and they publish such AMAZING books! And most of all, I’m excited for you (or your middle-grader) to read the book.

If you want to add it to your to-read Goodreads list, just click on the button below!