Curriculum Guide Celebration Giveaway!

20150213_154554I’m excited to announce that free downloadable curriculum guides are now available for  THE BOY PROJECT  (Scholastic 2012) and THE BOY PROBLEM (Scholastic 2014)! Both books have themes that tie in with today’s middle school curriculum and both are common core aligned. The guides are full of fantastic reading, math, and science activities that can be used alone or separately. I feel like I can brag about I didn’t create them myself. 🙂 The talented Marcie Colleen created the guide for THE BOY PROJECT (click HERE to view) and the great teachers at EDUCATORS R&R created the guide for THE BOY PROBLEM (Click HERE to view). These guides are also available at all times on my website http://www.kamikinard.com. 20150213_154943To celebrate the completion of these guides I am giving away five classroom reading packs that go along with the themes from THE BOY PROBLEM.  These can be used for reading circles, book clubs, or any of readers who enjoy these books!  Each kit includes a heart-shaped box and seven:

  • cupcake containers with a dove chocolate heart
  • cupcake tattoos
  • signed bookmarks
  • cupcake erasers (scroll down to see a cute video featuring these)
  • hairy mustaches
  • fortune telling fish
  • and one top to create your own shoe box lid predictor as seen on page 185
  • Winners will also receive a free 20 minute Skype visit for your class or for a small group.

(Pssst: If you win and need more than seven of the items above let me know and I’ll see what I can do!)

To enter just enter the short form below. Contest ends on midnight EST on February 28. 

This giveaway is over! Congratulations to the winners:

Kim, Janet, Suzy, Karen, and Debbie. An email has been sent to each of you. Leave a comment here if you do not receive it. Thank you to all who entered! Winners were selected using the Random Number Generator at Random.org. 

3 easy ways to double your entries, tweet about this giveaway and tag me @kamikinard, give it a shout out on Facebook and tag my author page, or leave a comment! 

Whether or not you enter the giveaway, you can still get a free Skype visit from myself or Sudipta for World Read Aloud Day. Click HERE for details.

Good Luck Everyone! And if you want a closer look at the erasers that come with the prize pack, check out what Mr. Etkin’s class did with them last year. Bet you didn’t know erasers could dance!

Speeches, School Visits, and Special People….plus cupcakes

Last week was a whirlwind in the best of ways. I gave a speech, visited three schools, attended two book signing parties, and wound up the weekend with the South Carolina Book Festival.  The best part of it all was that I ran into so many friends along the way!

Fi2014-05-13 09.02.52rst stop: Speaking at the Georgia Young Authors Awards in Clarkesville Georgia!  Georgia Young Authors is a wonderful program that recognizes young authors from kindergarten through twelfth grade.  I was able to stay with my University of Georgia college roommate, Joy Purcell, while visiting — a fabulous perk.

2014-05-13 11.43.02Next stop: Level Grove Elementary where I talked about the ideas behind my books and answered questions for a select group of girls who had read and enjoyed THE BOY PROJECT. One of those girls recommended that we visit her mom’s cupcake shop, Sugartopia, since THE BOY PROBLEM has a cupcake theme. (We couldn’t resist, and I’m glad! We had the best key lime cupcakes ever there.)

An hour later I was speaking to kindergarten through fifth graders at Hazel Grove Elementary. With the younger students, we discussed how authors use details to create character. Luckily, I had some willing models for my discussion. (Could this little girl be any cuter? I let her keep the clown nose, not thinking it a good idea to have different kids putting something on their noses. Then noticed immediately after the 2014-05-13 13.21.55presentation that kids were lining up to try on the nose from her. Oh well!)

The next morning it was off to Greenville, SC, where my family and I lived for four happy years, and to Stone Academy where my own children used to go to school! It isn’t uncommon for students to ask about author pay. I usually answer with an example using tens, without, of course, speaking to the actual dollar amount I have earned with my books. So I said something like “If an a book costs ten dollars, and the author gets ten percent of that amount, how much money does he or she earn after 10,000 books are sold?” To which someone shouted “A hundred thousand dollars!” All I could think to say was, “How I wish your calculations were correct.”  🙂 This entrepreneurial group also wanted to know how big my house was, if I am famous enough to be recognized in stores by strangers (no!),  and if, since I wouldn’t tell them the actual amount I have earned, if I could at least share the amount of my BIGGEST check.

I got other great questions from them too, but they aren’t as entertaining to share!

IMG_20140514_181100_711From there I headed to my former neighbor and Nerdy Chick Nancy Kennedy’s house to ice red velvet cupcakes for the book signing parties. I must be getting pretty good at icing cupcakes because someone at the first event, held at the best-titled bookstore around (Fiction Addiction) asked me if the cupcakes were real.

He blends in, but yes, there is a dog there.

He blends in, but yes, there is a dog there.

I remember once hearing New York Times Best Selling author Bret Lott say that he didn’t like book signings. He told a story about a time his publisher flew him around the country, and even then sometimes no one came to the signings, and once he was even asked to hold someone’s dog. So when our former pediatrician came in with her dog, I had to pose with it in the hopes that holding a dog in a bookstore at a book signing event might bring me one step closer to Bret Lott’s success.

At this point both my camera and phone batteries were dead, so I go NO pics of the wine and cheese party hosted by Nancy later that night that many of my good friends from my Greenville days attended. But it was so much fun! Nancy even found Red Velvet (Cupcake brand) wine to go with the red velvet cupcakes.

When I woke up the next morning it was Thursday. Where had the time gone? So I packed up, stopped to visit a few more friends, and headed to Camden SC where, after dinner with my brother and his family, I prepared for The South Carolina Book Festival. But it looks like that will have to be a separate blog post! Too much information to share at once.

Takeaway from last week: Visiting schools always introduces me to new perspectives that make me happy! Visiting with long-time friends makes me happy! So being an author makes me happy! Great week!

 

Learning from Launches

Last week I celebrated the book birthday of THE BOY PROBLEM: NOTES AND PREDICTIONS OF TABITHA REDDY with a Virtual Launch Party. You can still check out the links which include an interview, a trailer, an essay written by me, and a podcast! Then the launch parties hit the road as I took those instant images I talked about in THIS POST to several SC bookstores. So today I thought I’d share a little of my travels with you and tell you how it went, and what I learned about book launch parties.

cupcakes

First, have a cupcake! My friend Lisa made these to go along with the cupcake theme in the book!

chocolate mustache cookiesSo, with the cupcake theme in place, the refreshment decision was easy! But still… I just couldn’t resist buying mustache shaped cookie cutters, so of course we had to stay up late the night before the first party making chocolate mustache cookies. ‘Cause who needs sleep the night before a book launch? (Hint:You!)

fortune telling statSince Tabbi, the main character of THE BOY PROBLEM tries to predict who the right guy for her will be, I had a great time stocking up on kid-friendly prediction objects for party attenders to play around with. Of course there were fortune cookies, those red fortune telling fish, and even fortune telling bacon!

Kids make their own paper fortune tellers and check out a variety of 8 balls Including the one from Glee that occasionally sings, "You cant t always get what you want."

Kids make their own paper fortune tellers and check out a variety of Magic 8 balls Including the one from Glee that occasionally sings, “You cant t always get what you want.”

My daughter sports her Johnny Cupcake shirt like the ones from the book.

My daughter sports her Johnny Cupcake shirt like the ones from the book.

The first party was at Artworks in Beaufort. It was great to see friends, meet people, and sign books! And I haven’t even gotten to the fake mustaches, finger mustache tattoos, and the book bling…. tattoos, bookmarks, and bracelets. But I was so exhausted after the happy event, and we had so much going on, that I decided to streamline the next event, a book signing party at Books on Broad in Camden SC: I decided not to make another batch of mustache cookies. Luckily, we didn’t need them. My first grade teacher made brownies and brought peanuts, a dear family friend, my sister-in-law and my mother made a fresh batch of cupcakes, and Books on Broad set up the cutest lemonade stand. Love the mustache cups!

Love the mustache cups and the cute table cloth.

Love the mustache cups and the cute table cloth.

If you ever want to visit a GORGEOUS independent bookstore, you need to check out Books on Broad.

If you ever want to visit a GORGEOUS independent bookstore, you need to check out Books on Broad.

 

signing lineThis event was made even more special when my friend of ten years, author Kathryn Erskine arrived about half-way through. When I planned the party, I didn’t know Kathy would be in town, but vacation brought her to SC, and I was so excited to be able to sign books with her! I put Kathy’s National Book Award winning skills to work, by making her haul all of that junk I’ve been talking about out to the car while I joked around taking pictures with the giant mustaches Books on Broad used to decorate.

Kathy Erskine and my mom make trips back and forth to the car with my book party junk.

Kathy Erskine and my mom make trips back and forth to the car with my book party junk.

 

 

Clearly there were better things to do than to pack up.

Clearly there were better things to do than to pack up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop, Hartsville SC and Burry Bookstore where Kathy and I signed books together for an hour and a half. I consolidated even more this time. Kathy appreciated having to make fewer trips to the car while I was setting up.

Signing at Burry Bookstore

Signing at Burry Bookstore

Last week was a whirlwind! But in the best ways. So what I learned about book launch parties…

1.It doesn’t matter how many great, creative, ideas you have to help celebrate the arrival of a new book… just act on a few. You only want to make so many trips back and forth hauling all those good ideas from the car. My next book launch party will be a little more simple, but just as much fun!

2. Friends and family make hosting the parties easier, and better in every way!

3. Independent bookstore owners are the best.

4. I loved signing every book. But the absolute best ones to sign were those of students who read my first book and were excited about getting the second one!

 

The best of the best. Signing for Megan who read The Boy Project.

The best of the best. Signing for Megan who read The Boy Project.

THE BOY PROBLEM is officially launched! Hooray!

 

 

The Boy Problem: Virtual Launch Party!

The Boy ProblemIt’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here! After writing, revising, and planning for the future I am ready to send my baby out into the world. (Funny how when your real baby — your high school senior — graduates and launches into the world you ‘re not nearly as ready. Mine graduates in May!)

Anyway, what I mean is… it’s book launch day!

In celebration of the release of THE BOY PROBLEM, there are several cool things going on across the web. I’m super excited about the SHARPREAD, WATCH. CONNECT. READ., and NERDY BOOK CLUB Trifecta. Check it out! Then go download my first ever podcast over at Matthew Winner’s LET”S GET BUSY!

Click on links below!

cupcake for invite - pinkHERE I answer questions with 5, 4, 3, 2,1 sentences on Colby Sharp’s blog.   

Then head over HERE to NERDY BOOK CLUB to check out my essay The Art of  Unprofessional Art.

And HERE you can see a trailer and WIN a copy of THE BOY PROBLEM at Watch. Read. Connect. Mr. Schu’s blog.

Many thanks to librarians Colby Sharp and John Schu for hosting me in a Sharp-Schu Trifecta! 

.

Boy Prediction Mom mouth Me ear

Seen it all? Now you can hear it! Go download the Let’s Get Busy Podcast HERE. You might even hear a trace of my southern accent as I talk writing, books, and Sudipta with librarian Matthew Winner!

Thanks Matthew!

I’ll be celebrating the release of  THE BOY PROBLEM throughout the day and onward. In a few weeks we’ll host a special super-fun Boy Problem themed giveaway too. Hooray!

 

Instant Images

Ideas for The Boy ProblemI write humor for middle graders. It’s a fun job, made doubly so because I have a wealth of information living under the same roof with me – my daughter. Before she arrived at middle school, my son was there. So for six of the past seven years I’ve been living with some of the inspiration for my novels. A parenting perk for sure!

Middle graders are awesome! They haven’t yet lost that joie de vivre, so they still embrace the cute, fun, and funky! Especially girls. I paid attention to this when writing The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy, forthcoming April 29 from Scholastic. My daughter was in seventh grade at the time, and I decided to deliberately populate my novel with things she found appealing. What better way to connect with readers of the same age?

 

cupcakes!

Some of my daughters cupcakes.

At the time she loved cupcakes. (That hasn’t changed.) She has cupcake socks, t-shirts, wall art, etc. So into the book I poured the ingredients for a cupcake theme – along with lots of cute cupcake images, via words and sketches! She also loved the inexplicably popular mustache trend. For that reason, I found a funny way to create a mustache motif in the book as well. Finally, since Tabbi, the main character, uses predictions to try to figure out who the right guy for her is, I was able to insert some time-tested predicting tools – ever popular with middle graders. 8 balls, fortune cookies, and cootie catchers (also called fortune tellers).

 

The Boy Problem

Using instant images has made it fun and easy to find and create book bling for The Boy Problem’s launch!

Note that all of the above: mustaches, cupcakes, 8 balls, fortune cookies, and cootie catchers have popular and very concrete visual images. As an author, you want to think about the visual images you put into your readers’ heads. Sometimes you do this with subtlety, using carefully crafted similes and metaphors. But it is also okay to stick instant images into your books. Ones you know your reader will easily visualize and identify with! If you’re writing for middle graders, I recommend considering this.

 

My daughter starts high school next year. To be honest, I am a little worried about this. Where will I get my instant-images? Will she have the same enthusiasm for cute, fun, and funky? Probably not! I will need access to that kind of The Boy Problemthing when I write my next novel. What will I do? Well… I do have a niece starting middle school in the fall. Hopefully she won’t notice her aunt eavesdropping and checking out her accessories at every family get-together for the next three years!

To read more about the creation of THE BOY PROBLEM and to see the trailer, click HERE.

 

And you can watch this adorable trailer created by students in Mr. Etkin’s class to find out more about the book! I saw this for the first time today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Chronic Doodler

It’s HERE! The trailer for THE BOY PROBLEM, created almost entirely from my doodles. My confessions follow, but first, watch the trailer! And stick around for the GIVEAWAY at the end of the post! 

Now for true confessions:  

I’ve never been good at taking notes. I probably shouldn’t admit this while I still have children in school, but often when I’m listening to someone talk, my mind starts wandering. And when this happens, my pen starts wandering too.  I confess.

Ever been on the phone with me? You know those times when you were talking and there were long periods of silence on my end? I was probably doodling. I confess.  doodles

Add to my list of confessions that I doodle on paper menus when dining at restaurants, church bulletins during church, programs when at performances, and in notebooks I take to conferences. I even doodle when I’m listening to my own internal voice. Doodles are crammed in between the words of all of my revision notebooks. If you could stretch out the pen marks from all of my doodles into one continuous line it would probably wrap around the world a few times. Times ten.

2harley2-watermark-copyHere’s another confession for you. I often curse the fact that my artistic skills are limited to doodling. My mother is a real artist, capable of rendering realistic landscapes and still-life paintings. My fourteen year old daughter is becoming an excellent media artist and has even started a little business creating drawings from photos of pets.

But me? I seemed destined only to doodle. And yet….

My doodling skills help me communicate visually. So when I turned in my manuscript for my first novel, THE BOY PROJECT, I included some doodles along with a note explaining that these were just to illustrate my ideas, and a publisher could hire a real artist to do the actual art.  The manuscript sold! And some of my actual doodles were used in it, along with others that they altered a little.

For my second book, THE BOY PROBLEM, forthcoming from Scholastic in April, everyone understood that I’d include some doodles, but that another artist would probably do the work for the book. But my own doodles ended up being the ones that grace the pages. And then, when I hired someone to make the trailer for THE BOY PROBLEM, she built the whole thing out of my doodles.

bookmarksI have to admit, I’m a little shocked by this. I’ve never thought of my artistic skills as good enough for publication. But the book turned out really well! And the trailer is so cute! Empowered by this, I used my doodling skills to create the 8 ball and mustache for these new promotional bookmarks.

The Boy Problem

Book designer Whitney Lyle created the doodles for this cover.

The bottom line here is that I’ve been selling myself short. And I think that as women, a lot of us do this. It’s important for us not to think in terms of what we CAN’T do, but in terms of what we CAN. I will never be able to sell an watercolor painting masterpiece. I’m not likely to create a digital rendering of your pet iguana either. But I can create one heck of a doodle! Go Me!

Oh yeah. There’s another bottom line here. I wanted to introduce my new book trailer to our readers! Did you watch it? See that guy’s head at 0.18. I had to doodle it about sixteen times to get it right. That’s how good I am.  Hey, it’s not about the first fifteen times I couldn’t draw a decent circle. It’s about the one time I did. 🙂

GIVEAWAY INFO:

To celebrate the release of THE BOY PROBLEM trailer, and the arrival of the new bookmarks, I am giving away class sets of bookmarks to teachers, librarians, and bookstores. If you are an individual who wants just one or two you can get some too. I’ll mail these to the first fifteen people to fill out the form below. If you leave a comment too, I’ll throw in a BOY PROBLEM bracelet when they arrive. This Giveaway ends on St.  Patrick’s Day, 2014.

Boy Problem Bookmark Final Front

What Does THE END Look Like?

THE END. It’s usually a good place to be. It means you have completed a journey. The last day of November marked THE END for writers who participated in NaNoWriMo or PiBoIdMo. They’ve slogged through the hurdles of drafting a novel, or worked through creative bursts of ideas for picture books until they accumulated at least 30. But writer or not, when you’ve completed a task, it is always good to find yourself at THE END of it.

When I get to THE END of a project, I’m usually surrounded by chaos. I think I’m that classic creative type who works best in a mess. Up to a point… This November, I not only participated in PiBoIdMo, but did the final proofing of my forthcoming novel, The Boy Problem AND finished a novel I’ve been working on for years. I met all of my goals! But when I was finished, my desk looked like this:

IMG_20131120_140733_596

As much as this desk helped me get to THE END of two novels, I found I couldn’t begin to start a new project on it. So I did something I don’t like doing very much. I gave up a day of writing to organize. I stacked all of the drafts of The Boy Problem together.  The result was a ten inch, twenty seven pound stack. When you look at that you can kind of see how I work through a novel. With lots of little flags noting pages that still need work. This probably only represents half of them, many were pulled out along the way.

IMG_20131130_205945_656

 

 

There were a few more stacks not-quite-so-impressive stacks as well… but eventually, my desk looked like this.

IMG_20131203_090228_042

Yeah, I know there are still two pretty messy piles, but you don’t expect me to create in a completely clean environment, do you? The point is, I’ve reached THE END of some important projects! And now, with space on my desk, I can start a new project… a new beginning!

I recently received the ARCs for THE BOY PROBLEM! When  an author actually holds an ARC, the book finally feels real! It marks THE END of a great journey!

I recently received the ARCs for THE BOY PROBLEM! When an author actually holds an ARC, the book finally feels real.It marks THE END of a great journey!

Onward we go! What does THE END look like to you?