March 29, 2010

Meet the New Members of the Family

Teddy . . .

and Benjamin (Benji) . . .

And here are the guys hanging out together:

We adopted them from the Big Dog Ranch Rescue.

They are incredibly sweet and ACTIVE. They are are friendly with people and other dogs and really ACTIVE. They're still learning how to behave in their new home. And we play with them often because they are really, really ACTIVE.

And we are really pooped because I'm not sure if I mentioned yet how active they are. Oh, and SWEET!

March 24, 2010


TOP 6-1/2 LIST:

Kate Messner is the author of THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z. (2009) and SUGAR AND ICE (December 2010), both from Walker/Bloomsbury. Her MARTY MCGUIRE chapter book series with Scholastic debuts in 2011, along with two picture books from Chronicle. Learn more at her website:

Kate is also a National Board Certified middle school English teacher and contributor to School Library Journal. Her SLJ technology feature “Met Any Good Authors Lately?” has inspired both authors and teachers to give Skype author visits a try. Kate will be speaking on virtual author visits at the International Reading Association Conference in Chicago this April and the New England SCBWI Conference in May.

How to Survive Your First Skype Author Visit

  1. Download Skype. It’s free. Install it and register with a username. For authors, using your whole name will make you easier to find.
  2. Take a test run. Skype with a friend. Or your mom. Make sure your computer, camera, and microphone work well. And you can also use this time to practice looking at the camera so the people on the other end of your visit will feel like you’re really talking to them.
  3. Decide what kind of visits you’ll offer and when. Will you do free Q and A sessions with groups that have read your book? How much will you charge for longer presentations? When are you available for Skype visits? Knowing all of this before you get requests will make things a lot easier.
  4. Let teachers & librarians know you’re available. You can join the terrific Skype-An-Author Network here: And leave a comment to be added to the updated list of Authors Who Skype with Book Clubs that’s linked from the SLJ feature.
  5. Once you get a request, it’s a good idea to make sure the teacher or librarian is familiar with Skype, too. Teachers should also have students prepare questions in advance. There’s a how-to list with the SLJ technology feature on this topic, “Met Any Good Authors Lately?” Here’s an online link you can share with teachers to help them prepare.
  6. On the day of your Skype visit, make sure your computer area is ready. Check to see what your audience will be able to see in the background behind you, and make sure there won’t be loud interruptions like kids or dogs (unless you plan to introduce your dog, which can be fun, too!

6 1/2. When it’s time for your visit, log onto Skype and look for the username of your contact person. Either call him or her, or wait for the call – whatever you’ve arranged in advance. And have fun! The kids on the other end will be excited to talk with you using this cool technology. Happy Skyping!

Thanks, Kate, for taking time out of your BUSY schedule to share information about creating a successful Skype author visit and for contributing to this occasional series of wit and wisdom from editors, agents and authors!

March 19, 2010

Good-bye, Sid


Sid Fleischman was a gem. A Newbery-Award-winning author, he was generous and warm and funny. I will surely miss the Abracadabra Kid. He brought a lot of joy into the world through his magic and books (The Entertainer and the Dybbuk is my favorite) and his giving spirit . . . and that will live on through his books and the people who were lucky enough to have known him.
I feel blessed for the joy he brought into my life.

Good-bye, Sid.

March 17, 2010

The End of Publishing?

Watch this amazing video through to the end and let me know what you think.

March 12, 2010


Meet HAMMY -- the little star in my new novel, HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL. In the book, David creates a funny video starring his hamster, Hammy, and it becomes a YouTube sensation.

Thanks to the creative minds at Page Turner Adventures, Hammy is now the star of his own MUSIC VIDEO for you to enjoy!

(Warning: You might find yourself humming the tune for the next few hours . . . and smiling.)

Also, thanks to Chris Baty of NaNoWriMo for posting this Q & A on his blog.

March 8, 2010


My editor just shared the delightful news that my new novel, HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL, garnered a starred review from Kirkus. What a wonderful way to STARt the week!


David Greenberg, would-be future anchor of The Daily Show, enters middle school with problems: Longtime best friend Elliott has abandoned him for new, nastier and bigger friends, David hasn’t spoken with his runaway mother in months and he’s dumbstruck by a sudden crush on adorable, peppermint-scented redhead Sophie Meyers. Sophie shares David’s funny videos—in which he apes Jon Stewart’s style and tone as only a burgeoning sixth-grade comedian can—with her homeschooling friends, launching David into sudden Internet fame. Real life intrudes in the forms of merciless teasing by Elliott and his friends and David’s desperate desire to connect with his mentally ill mother, who abandoned the family for life in rural Maine two years ago. Sensible and loving win out over mean and bullying, giving David space to balance his real and online lives. Gephart maps the hormonal, emotionally torturous terrain of pubescent boyhood with realistic dialogue, well-developed secondary characters and age-appropriate humor and insight, placing this title in the same august league as Jordan Sonnenblick’s Girls, Drums and Dangerous Pie (2004). (Fiction. 10-13)

March 5, 2010

Guess Who's on Oprah?

Not me.

This amazing, local music/voice teacher, Jamie Perez, gathered an entire middle school together to create a music video that celebrates READING! It's so much fun.

The folks at Oprah discovered it and are airing the video on today's show.

As a children's book author, I couldn't be more excited to see so many middle school kids having a blast promoting one of my favorite activities -- READING!

Incidentally, Jamie is wearing the red shirt and white vest. Enjoy the video:

March 1, 2010

Best Lines from Books

This weekend, I finished listening to John Green's Paper Towns on CD.

I replayed this hilarious line repeatedly: "I hope I get pulled over," he says. "I'd like to see how the cop responds to a black man wearing a Confederate T-shirt over a black dress." (If you'd like to know the context, well . . . you'll just have to read the book.)

What's your favorite line from the book you're reading now?