Cool cats, hot off the presses

Hey, look! The Children's Book Council listed Anton & Cecil: Cats Aloft as Hot off the Press this month, which we most definitely will be come December 27th. They call the book a "thrilling final installment to the series," which it very much is!

Fans of classic animal adventures such as The Wind in the Willows and Avi’s Poppy will love Anton and Cecil’s world, brimming with action and rich, true-to-life detail.
— Children's Book Council, Dec. 2016

Valerie and I absolutely can't wait to share this fantastic adventure with all of you!

Nowhere to go but UP...

My readers have been telling me HEY, IT'S ABOUT TIME FOR THE NEXT Anton & Cecil ADVENTURE, and we couldn't agree more!  The intrepid cat brothers have sailed vast oceans on clipper ships and brigs, and they've stowed away on steam-powered trains to cross an entire continent.  That means they have traveled on both sea and land, so what's next?  How about . . . the air!

Tuckered out from a journey across the Wild West, cat brothers Anton and Cecil are ready to head east for home--until a minor stop to change trains in Chicago turns into a major escapade. The brothers are recruited by a police bloodhound to help solve a case: puppies are disappearing right off their leashes!

Anton and Cecil’s search takes them deep into the heart of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where they befriend exotic animals, ride the newly invented Ferris Wheel, and look for clues amid the crowds of fairgoers.  
Will The brothers solve the crime and nab the culprits before they are stolen themselves? Will they make it back home again to their friends and family? Join Anton and Cecil and their new ally, a huge bloodhound named Ruby, in their race to rescue lost creatures by venturing aloft at last.  

 

Find out what in the world happens on December 27th, when Anton & Cecil: Cats Aloft soars into your local bookstore!  For a sneak peek of the action, click here!

 

The Gaithersburg Address

Heading north to Maryland just outside our nation's capitol this weekend for the 7th annual Gaithersburg Book Festival!  A huge outdoor event with tents, balloons, food, and plenty of kids running around, the Festival attracts tons of great authors from the neighboring states. 

I'll be doing a panel on Middle Grade Adventure Books with Katy Kelly, author of the "Lucy Rose" and "Melonhead" series, and we'll be talking about how we get our ideas and tips for aspiring writers, as well as doing a short reading from our respective books.  Come on out (even if it's STILL raining) and we'll see you there!

Writer gets written up

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A fab article by Rebecca Schmitz in the Crozet Gazette captures exactly how I feel about school visits.  "You just get all this joy from [young readers]" is both completely true and WHY I WRITE.  Nothing is more fun than sharing writing ideas with the very kids who will (hopefully) read my work, and the suggestions they come up with on the fly are often surprising and always inspiring.  I love their sheer enthusiasm and intense curiosity!  Many thanks for the article and the opportunities given to me by the generous teachers in my area.  

After working closely with the teachers to find out what the students were learning and how she could reinforce their lessons, Martin structured her visit to Brownsville’s third graders as more of a writing workshop than a Q and A session. “I tell the students, this is not a speech, this is a workshop. I’ll tell you things that might help your writing, and you tell me things that might help my writing. They look at me like ‘are you sure?’” she said with a smile.

Students are always interested in where she gets her ideas, so she showed them pictures of her cats, her sons, and the maps and research that went into creating the books. “They want to know about the process—how long did it take?” She also gives tips on how to strengthen their own writing: “I try to say, what would make your writing interesting? You have to have obstacles and someone in trouble. You have to use words that are ‘juicy and delicious.’”
— Crozet Gazette, May 6, 2016

Indy Greatness

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Saturday April 30th was National Independent Bookstore Day, hooray!  My favorite local bookstore, Over the Moon Bookstore and Artisan Gallery in Crozet, VA, hosted a bonanza of activities throughout the day, from face painting to on-the-spot three-word poem-making to a book trivia raffle, all designed to support the Valley Children's Advocacy Center for the prevention of child abuse.  I was pleased to do a session at the "Ask the Author" table, where I met up with a few of my friends from Brownsville Elementary.  Following me at the table were YA author Lex Thomas and then National Book Award winner Katherine Erskine -- what a blast!  Thanks so much to Over the Moon for hosting a great event and for being such a beautiful book oasis in our town.

Reader to Writer to Reader

The Virginia Festival of the Book was another huge success this year!  Our smallish town of Charlottesville is swarmed with bookish types for a week every year and the hardest part is figuring out how many events one can fit into one's schedule.  I was thrilled to participate in a panel with authors Joan Carris and Kevin Sherry, talking about adventure stories with animal protagonists.  Kevin did part of his talk while singing, playing guitar and wearing a yeti mask, and I confess I couldn't top that ... but many thanks to the kids, parents, and friends who came out to meet us.

A growlin' good time

 Book signing with the Panthers!

Book signing with the Panthers!

The Peabody School 4th grade class, taught by the gracious Julie Lacy, welcomed me on March 8th to talk about stories and the many ways we can make them.  The class had read much of Cats at Sea beforehand, and they were prepared with tough queries and brilliant suggestions!  A wonderful time at my own children's alma mater, I'm so grateful to the Panthers for inviting me.

p.s. That front page cat drawing is from one of the fab thank you notes the students wrote to me -- Cecil for sure!

Busy as Bees at Brownsville

A fantastic time at Brownsville Elementary in Crozet, VA!  I was thrilled to meet all six classes of 3rd graders in their fabulous (and extremely convenient) Tinker Room on Friday Feb. 19th.  We talked nuts and bolts about plot, action, choosing great words, and where ideas can come from.  The students saw pics of my cats, my sons, my co-author, and even a sneak peak Cover Reveal of the third book in the series!  They were generous with their suggestions for further cat adventures, and I can't thank them and their wonderful teachers enough.  Go Brownsville!

Historical Cats

The Historical Novel Society posted a delightful review of Anton and Cecil: Cats on Track, noting that "(t)he book and its endearing heroes should appeal to young readers who love cats and adventure, as well as to older ones who enjoy a little escapist whimsy in their literary diet."  "Highly recommended; a very sweet read!"  Super fun!

Falling for the Book (the one about Cats)

Cannot wait to Fall for the Book in Fairfax, VA on October 3rd with thousands of other book writers and readers.  Check out the details over here, and come see me if you're there!

Update: What a wonderful event.  We had a marvelous time despite the threat of a hurricane (!), talking about books and writing and publishing with curious and well-informed attendees.  Also got to meet the fabulous and very wise Winifred Conkling, fellow Algonquin author, who I'm convinced can research anything.  Many thanks to the FftB folks for having me up!