Sunday, August 26, 2012

Guest blogger, C. Lee McKenzie

I'm delighted to host the lovely, C. Lee McKenzie today as a part of her Swamp Hop. 

You may know Lee as the author of YA books such as Sliding on the Edge and The Princess of Las Pulgas, but she also writes for middle grade audiences with her new title Alligators Overhead.

Welcome, Lee!

"Thank you so much for helping me out with the launch of my first middle grade book. I really appreciate your support and it's great to be here on your blog today."

Alligators, witches and a spooky mansion aren't your average neighbors unless you live at the edge of the Ornofree swamp in the backwater town of Hadleyville. The town's bad boy, Pete Riley, may only be twelve, but he's up to his eyeballs in big trouble, and this time he isn't the cause. This time the trouble arrives when a legendary hundred-year-old mansion materializes next door and the Ornofree alligators declare war to save their swamp from bulldozers. Things only get worse when Pete's guardian aunt and several of her close friends vanish while trying to restore order using outdated witchcraft. Now Pete must find the witches and stop the war. He might stand a chance if his one friend, Weasel, sticks with him, but even then, they may not have what it takes.

Alligators Overhead is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

About the author:
A native Californian, C. Lee McKenzie lives on the edge of a redwood forest with her husband and assorted cats. When she's not writing or blogging she's hiking or practicing yoga. She usually writes young adult fiction that deals with contemporary, realistic issues. In Sliding on the Edge (2009) she dealt with cutting, and in The Princess of Las Pulgas (2010) she wrote about a family that loses almost everything and has to rebuild their lives together. Alligators Overhead is her first Middle Grade novel. Lee blogs at The Write Game and you can learn more about her and her work here.

Thanks again for stopping by. Wishing you all the best with the launch!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thank You for Being You

A big thank you (followed by a deep sigh) to Katrina Delallo for presenting me with the Thanks for Being You Award. Keep reading, you'll see what I mean.

The rules of this award are:

  1. Thank the person who gave the award to you.
  2. Post eleven facts about yourself. (Thus the first of many sighs.)
  3. Answer eleven questions I will make up for you, and make up eleven of your own for the people you tag. (Another sigh, accompanied by slouched shoulders.)
  4. Tell seven more things about yourself. (A sigh during which I slump forward, my forehead hits the desk and I ever so slightly lift my head and hit it again, and again, and again, ad infinitum.)
  5. Lastly, tag as many people as you want and let them know you’ve given them the award.
Okay, so here goes:

Over the past couple of weeks I read this book which made me think, 

this book, which made me cry, 

watched this video which made me laugh

and this movie that warmed my heart.

I was inspired by this and disappointed by this.
I'm delighted to be going swimming tomorrow (first time in two years.)
I was uplifted by a church service I attended on the beach Sunday evening
I was relieved that watching the Olympics every night meant never having to channel surf.
I was exhausted, because watching the Olympics every night meant never getting to bed on time.
I was frustrated by Blogger when it refused to save my changes in continual attempts to fix the spacing problems in this post =/
I'm secretly more grateful than annoyed by this (very time consuming) award because I had no idea what to post this week. (Thanks again, Cat.)

Now, I will answer Cat's questions.
  1. What’s the first book you ever read? I have no idea. Do most people remember this?
  2. What’s a movie you saw as a little kid, forgot about, and when you saw it again as an adult you remembered the whole plot in a sort of gosh-I-know-what’s-going-to-happen-next kind of way? Again, no idea. 
  3. If you weren’t what you are now (such as a writer, mother, accountant) what would you want to be? A painter (fine art, not house painting)
  4. What’s your favourite hobby? Crafting
  5. What looks grayer to you? THIS spelling of gray, or this spelling of grey? Grey
  6. How do you pronounce tomatoe? Toe-mah-toe or toe-may-toe? Actually, I say it more like tah-may-toe
  7. Do you secretly wish you were a hobbit? Umm, no.
  8. Would you rather be an elf? Not even for a minute.
  9. Do you prefer British or American spellings of the words honour/honor, colour/color, tyre/tire, laser/lazer, aluminium/aluminum? Honour and colour look more sophisticated to me. I've never even encountered the British spellings of the others until now.
  10. What’s your idea of fun? Spending time with my family.
  11. How many times can you say the words, “Irish wristwatch?” Not even once.
And now, seven more things about me (at which point I totally understand if you skip to the end and leave a disgruntled comment about the ridiculous length of this post.) I can hardly stand all this "me" talk myself. But for the sake of following the rules, here goes:
  1.  A glass of Coke and a handful of M&Ms make me disproportionately happy.
  2.  I've learned to overlook dust and dog fur if it means more time to write.
  3.  I can't wait for the new seasons of Merlin and Once Upon a Time to begin.
  4.  With all of the hours I watched the Olympics, I somehow still missed the synchronized swimming =(
  5. I bought three dresses at the beginning of the summer, but haven't worn any of them yet. I'm more of a cut-off jeans kinda girl.
  6. When given the chance, I opted for a desktop computer over a laptop. I usually like having to show up at my desk to work.
  7. The choice of a desktop came back to haunt me when I had to choose between making a blog post on time this week or watching the closing ceremonies. (Thus, the day-late post.)
And here are my the eleven questions for the bloggers that I've chosen to tag.
  1. Did these Olympics make you appreciate a sport you hadn't given much attention to before? Which one?
  2. Would you rather attend a rock concert or a sporting event?
  3. If you had to get one song stuck in your head for a week, knowing you would absolutely hate it by the weeks end, what song would you choose?
  4. Would you prefer pineapple on your pizza or on an upside down cake?
  5.  Do you prefer to swim in the ocean or in a pool?
  6. What is the last book you read that you think you'll re-read someday?
  7.  Does your beach towel have a cartoon character on it? If so, which one?
  8. How many songs are on your ipod right now?
  9. Are you more likely to overspend on groceries or on clothes?
  10. What's your favorite fast food?
  11. Do you watch reality T.V.?
And now, although I will not be pointing fingers and naming names, anyone who has read to the bottom of this post has, in my opinion, earned the right to grab this award for themselves and sacrifice several hours of their time in the making of the required post. Godspeed dear friends ;) 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Guest blogger, Anne E. Johnson

It is my pleasure today to host my very first guest blogger here at Out on a Limb, Anne E. Johnson. If you know Anne, you've likely been awed by the whirlwind success she's enjoyed lately. This summer marked the release of her noir sci fi novel for adults, Green Light Delivery (Candlemark & Gleam), as well as the release of her tween paranormal mystery, Ebenezer's Locker (MuseItUp Publishing), and now the launch of her tween medieval mystery, Trouble at the Scriptorium (Royal Fireworks.) See what I mean - whirlwind success!

Trouble at the Scriptorium

Synopsis: Harley is a twelve-year-old servant boy at a castle north of London in the thirteenth century. Lady Margaret, also twelve, is the daughter of the castle's lord. Together they must puzzle out a message hidden 
in a book of Gregorian chant. There's something very suspicious going on at the scriptorium where the book was made, and people's lives are in danger!

The Magic of Reality 

I wrote Trouble at the Scriptorium for two main reasons: 

1) I have a master’s degree in medieval music, and I wanted to share some of that fascinating information with kids by presenting it in a fun, exciting story. 

2) It was the height of Harry Potter obsession (about four years ago), and I was tired of “medievalist” ideas always being presented as fantasy. 

And so, I plunged into my first historical novel. I decided to set it in 13th-century England. I invented a protagonist, a twelve-year-old servant boy named Harley, who lives in a castle north of London. He needed to have a natural interest in music (his father’s a jester and his uncle is the choirmaster at a monastery), but not be a musician himself, so he could learn along with the reader. 

I had no idea how to write a mystery, but I knew I wanted to focus on Gregorian chant. The crafting of books is a wonderful topic, so I combined those two ideas: Harley discovers that a newly-made book of Gregorian chant has one of its painted illuminations missing. 

At first, Harley assumes this is a most unfortunate error, but he’s especially concerned about it because the book is a name-day present for the lady of his castle. (A “name day” was the special feast day for the saint a person was named after; this tradition is still practiced in some parts of the world.)  

Lady Ursula has also just had her family jewels stolen, so she’s already upset. This makes Harley desperate to cover up or fix the problem with the chant book. But the more he learns about the book, the more problems he discovers in it. Eventually he realizes it contains a hidden message, which he cracks with the help of Lady Ursula’s beautiful, brilliant daughter, Lady Margaret. 

I tried to make Trouble at the Scriptorium accurate and detailed, yet also an entertaining mystery that would appeal to intelligent kids. Creating it inspired me to continue writing historical fiction specifically for the middle-grade market (I’ve already written a sequel to Trouble at the Scriptorium!). I enjoy the special challenges it offers. 
* * *

Here are some fun links about Harley's world.

You can learn more about Anne E. Johnson at her website.

For updates on Anne’s publications and appearances, like her Facebook author page.

You can buy Trouble at the Scriptorium directly from Royal Fireworks Press.

This just in: Anne has signed a contract for the sequel to Trouble at the Scriptorium! Harley and Lady Margeret have another adventure in their future: The London Hurdy Gurdy.