Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mid October, You Know What That Means

Just a couple of weeks to decide if you're jumping into NaNo this year!
I've participated before and both succeeded and failed. This year I'd really like to give it a try again, and I'm in the unique position of having no idea what I'd like to work on.
I have a few WIPs that are past drafting stage, and a few ideas that will take more research and planning than the thousand-words-a-day writing blitz that makes NaNo fun.
But I do love drafting, and I really love working on something fresh and new, so I think I might give it a real try this year.
Which means I have to finish another project first... with only about 2 weeks to go!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Summer Update

So, THE STAR THIEF has been out in the world for a little over 4 months now.

It was an Indies Introduce pick, and also an Indie Next selection, a Junior Library Guild selection, was featured in B&N's spring preview and has been on two B&N fixtures since it's debut. It's gotten just about as much support as a little book can get, especially with a brand new author like me.

All of this has been overwhelming, exciting, unexpected and greatly appreciated.

One of the coolest surprises has been photos from libraries and bookshops, sent to me from all across the country. It's always delightful to stop in and visit my little book in person, and just as fun to see it out there in the world, being a good little book all on its own!

In the Sauk City WI Library! 
Park City, UT top shelf! 

On the big wall at B&N 

Portland OR, face out!

B&N again, before moving to the big wall

Anderson's in Naperville IL, day of my signing! 
That's just a sampling. It's all still so new and fresh, even though these moments were 15 years in the making. Even though it took 2 years from contract to finished book, which was 1&1/2 years after submitting to my eventual editor, which was 3&1/2 years after starting to look for an agent, which was 1 year after writing the first draft of what would become THE STAR THIEF, which was 6 years after I decided I wanted to write something for publication, years in which I scraped two other manuscripts before even querying them.
Even after all that time, I couldn't really prepare for the last 5 months. There was a launch party, book signings at local indie and B&N stores, dinners with bookseller and librarians, school visits, and in June, an appearance at ALA,  including the absolute honor of being invited to the Newbery and Caldecott awards banquet in Chicago.

It's been unreal, and of course, during all the work of getting THE STAR THIEF launched into the world, I've been spending my time working on the next thing. Well, lots of "next things" because hopefully, all fingers and toes crossed, this is just the beginning. I have so many more stories I'd like to tell, books I have to write, whether they make it to publication or not. There are characters wandering around in half built worlds getting very impatient with me for not getting their stories out onto the page yet.

Because that's what writing is. This whole process just never ends, which is really the best part. As long as you want to keep going, as long as you have pages to write, you are a writer. The best part of getting my first book published and out into the world has been the reviews and responses from young readers. The next best has been the added momentum to keep writing, to keep going, to make the next thing. Writing brings me joy.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Star Thief & OwlCrateJr!

Wow, it's been a wild couple of weeks!
THE STAR THIEF is officially out in the world, finding readers and making appearances (with me)at bookstores!
And in other amazing news, THE STAR THIEF is the April OwlCrateJr. box book! This was such an honor and a surprise! Owl Crate has been doing a YA book subscription box for a while now, with really amazing books and surprises. They just added the OwlCrateJr for middle grade starting in March. My book was the second ever Jr box!

Of course I love knowing my book is getting to readers, but the bonus is getting to see pictures and videos of THE STAR THIEF out in the world, in the hands of kids and adults alike, and getting to see their reactions! It is a total heart melter. And there are some really talented photographers out there, making some amazing images with the book and all the cool themed treats!

Check them out at the #owlcratejr page :)

✨APRIL OWLCRATE JR UNBOXINGπŸŒ™ • This month's @owlcratejr theme was Written in the Stars, and guys. I LOVED this box. 😭 I'm currently reading the book and.. asdghjk. Such a lovely middle grade read so far. Let's take a look at what was inside: ✨Pocket Star Finder from @toysmithtoys πŸŒ™ Lenticular Constellation notebook by @mudpuppykids ⭐️ Exclusive star pen by OwlCrate Jr 🌌 Planet zipper pull by @foxville_art πŸ’« THE STAR THIEF by Lindsey Becker ✨ This book sounds so amazing, and it came with a signed bookplate, a letter from the author (that doubles as the gorgeous poster you see in the picture) and a gorgeous bookmark. You guys should definitely check out the book on GoodReads! (And how gorgeous is the cover 😍) • The May theme is ON THE CASE, and is for all the little detectives out there! πŸ” #owlcratejr • Thank you so much @owlcratejr for sending me this awesome box!
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Three Weeks to STAR THIEF! More Star Crafts, and a Peek at My Debut Novel!

Today is exactly three weeks from the debut of THE STAR THIEF!! 
First, here's a sneak peek at the real, finished, official book! 


I couldn't love this more. The colors, the layout, the characters - the gold lettering is embossed, too!
Seriously, this is a dream cover. 

And it just keeps going! This is the back, with an excerpt, AND planets and Scorpio floating in the background! 

One more peek! The chapters each begin with a gorgeous drawing! Eeek!
The whole thing is really amazing. So much work went into this after it left my hands. I'm incredibly proud of the finished product, and I can't wait for the world to see it! 

In the meantime, let's make a few fun, really easy crafts! 
First up, the star garland! 

This one is a snap to make, and the stars are double sided, so you can hang it against a wall, as I did here, or string them in the open so the stars can spin freely! 

Here are the basic supplies - gold string, and die cut adhesive stars*. This was all at Micheal's craft store, for $2-$5. I used two packages of silver stars, and one of gold. 

*The stars seemed like a good shortcut, but that did not turn out exactly as planned. You can also cut out stars from glitter cardstock, or paper and apply glitter as needed. (It's always needed)

To begin, unspool a few feet of the string.  
I left approximately 2 feet of string at the end, then started tying my string off every 6 inches. I made loops alternating in 12" lengths and 6" lengths, measuring with a ruler. To make the knots, I tied the loop off the main string like tying a bunny ear shoelace. 
The 12" loops will hold 3 stars and the 6" loops hold 2. 
For the number of stars I had, I made 5  12" loops, and 4  6" loops, starting and ending with the 12" length. 

Since these were adhesive, I planned to just stick them together over the string. 
Turns out they weren't especially sticky, and they were made of a pretty sturdy cardboard. 
So I added some glue to the back of each star, and held them together with mini clothespins until they dried. 
The little clothespins were actually also at Michael's for about $2. I picked them up for something else, but they worked out well for  me in a pinch. 

For the longer strings, I hung the stars silver-gold-sliver. 
For the shorter strings, I hung a gold on top, and a silver below.
My finished garland is about 5 feet long.  
And that's it! Garland complete! 
Make these as long or short as you want, and hang anywhere you'd like a little more sparkle! 

And because that was so easy, let's do one more. 

Star pins! 
These are made with the same felt, glue, and glitter from the bookmarks in my last post. 
For these, you'll also need some pin backs. 
You could also use a magnet or a hair clip, to make stars that will stick to the fridge, or to wear in your hair!

To start, cut two stars from a piece of felt. Make sure the body of the star is wider than the pin back. 

Measure the pin back against one of the felt stars. 

Snip a little hole in the star for each end of the pin back, open the pin, and slip it through the felt. 

It should look something like this on the other side at this point. 

Now glue the star with the pin to the other star from the first step. 
If you are making magnets, skip the pin steps, and put the magnet in between the stars before gluing them together. 

Here's the finished pin back. 

Then flip the star over, and apply glue to the front side. 
(If you have a magnet in the middle of your star, make sure the grippy side is down. Test the star on the fridge to be sure :)

I suggest placing the pin on wax paper or a piece of scrap paper for this step. 


And done. Let this dry at least overnight, and then, make a bunch more! 

Use more than one color of glitter, add some rhinestones, make them as fancy as you want! 

And now that we've made bookmarks, garlands, and pins, here's a sneak peek at something for the next project... this one will be delicious! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Getting Ready For THE STAR THIEF with Bookmarks!

It's just under one month until the debut of THE STAR THIEF!
To get ready, I'm sharing some kid friendly craft tutorials to make some fun, star themed goodies. Up first, a ribbon bookmark with sparkly stars!



To make a bookmark, you will need:
Ribbon, felt, glitter, rhinestones, felt glue, scissors, measuring tape or ruler, star stencil, wax paper or scrap paper to catch glitter :) 
To make my stars, I used star cookie cutters to trace the shape on paper, then pinned the paper pattern to the felt to cut out the stars. You can use any star shaped item or stencil, or draw a star freehand :) You can also use a fabric pen or a fine tipped marker to trace the shape directly onto your felt. 

Cut a 14" length of ribbon, four larger stars, and four smaller stars. I stacked my felt and cut two stars at a time, so they matched up nicely in the next step. I also rounded the corners so they are less pointy. You can leave them pointy if you prefer.
- for the ribbon, I suggest one without wire in the edges. 

Time to assemble! Spread glue on one large star, around the edge. I recommend a felt glue, to make sure it will hold well. 

Put an extra spot of glue to secure the ribbon. 

Tiny bit more glue on top of the ribbon. (Put another dot of glue on top of the ribbon as well.)

Place the other large star on top of the glue, press together firmly. Repeat with smaller star, spreading glue around the edge. 

Then place the smaller star inside the big one.

Repeat on the other end of the ribbon :) 

Decorate! Add gems as needed, with a dot of glue. 
If a little glue seeps out around the gems, don't worry. It will dry clear. 

Let them dry overnight, then start reading! 

For glittery stars, assemble as in the previous steps, until you have one star on each end of the ribbon. 

Put wax paper or a spare sheet of plain paper under your star for the next steps.
One at a time, spread glue over each side of each star. It may be helpful to use a toothpick for this step. 

Sprinkle glitter over wet glue, covering completely. 
(This is the funnest step)

I chose purple and gold - use any colors you like!

Let glitter stars dry at least overnight. 

Ta-da! Finished bookmarks! Try some different colors, or glitter decorations.
Maybe use some fabric pens, beads, sequins, get creative! 

You're all ready to read THE STAR THIEF!
(This handy bookmark will work on any book you choose :)

Have fun making some dazzling star bookmarks, and stay tuned for more fun ideas as we get ready for a star themed adventure! 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Reviews are In!

So, with just about a month to go before pub date for THE STAR THIEF, trade reviews are starting to come in!
You'd think years of rejection during the query/sub process would toughen a writer up for this part, but no. It's still a nailbiter every time someone mentions my title.
Luckily, it's been very good so far!

From School Library Connection

Honorine has worked for the Vidalias for as long as she can remember. Lord Vidalia has been mysteriously missing for ten years, but his journals, treasured objects, and relics from his studies abroad fill the home. When Honorine begins to notice strange disturbances around the house, her explorations reveal that there is something not of this world at work. Soon Honorine is whisked away by the Mapmaker and the stars known as Mordants—Leo the lion, Lux the wolf, Virgo, and others. Together with Lord Vidalia, the group travels on a magical vessel in a space pursued by The Nautilus, a submarine captained by Lord Vidalia’s former partner, Nautilus Olyphant, who is searching for the Mordants. As Honorine learns more about each group, her understanding of who is right or wrong becomes muddied. This uncertainty will enthrall readers as they too try to decipher just which character is really there to help. Featuring both cannonballs and magic, the story will appeal to fantasy and adventure readers alike. A strong heroine will draw in female readers, but the book is perfect for any young reader. 

From Kirkus,

A debut middle-grade adventure involving constellations that come to life, airships, friendships, revenge, and the fight for survival.In the years just before the turn of the 20th century, Honorine—a white girl with gray eyes and a knack for artifacts and machinery—has lived on the Vidalia Estate for as long as she remembers. For the first years her best friend and playmate was Francis Vidalia, but now he's in school and her days are filled with household chores. When strangers come looking for a book, her world is turned on its head. Honorine is swept up into a world where living constellations—here known as Mordant—are in a fight for their very survival. Before the book is over Honorine will have been on a fantastical flying island that is really a ship; met the scheming white Capt. Nautilus Olyphant and seen the ingenious device with which he has been capturing the Mordant; dealt with the mysterious and somewhat sinister Mapmaker; found out who her parents are; seen monsters emerge from Hades; and made important decisions involving friendship, family, and loyalty. The pace is fast, the characters believable, and the setting original. Though there are some holes in the story, such as exactly what motivates Nautilus, the breakneck pace will not give readers time to ponder such questions. And they probably won't mind a bit. Readers enjoying a mix of fantasy, adventure, and a clever heroine will fall for this one.

From School Library Journal

Honorine’s boring life tending fires at Vidalia mansion is disrupted when she discovers strangers invading long-lost Lord Vidalia’s study. Before she knows what’s happening, she finds herself swept up in the ongoing battle between two powerful men: the Mapmaker and Captain Nautilus. The Mapmaker is the leader of the Mordant, who are physical manifestations of the constellations whose powers help guide humanity. Captain Nautilus leads a crew of scientists who are trying to capture the Mordant and harness their powers—he also happens to be Honorine’s father. After Honorine learns she is half-Mordant, she understands that her powers could shift the battle, but it is difficult to tell which side is good and which is bad, especially since her best friend Francis has sided with Nautilus. In the end, saving the world means seeking out one of the last remaining Mordant, Andromeda, who is Honorine’s mother. Readers will find it easy to connect emotionally with Honorine as she tries to navigate a world with no clear answers, while fantasy lovers will appreciate the mythological underpinnings of this imaginative new world. A fine addition to large fantasy collections.

It's getting close now! 
Stay tuned for more updates, and some fun stuff as we count down the weeks, and pretty soon the days, until THE STAR THIEF soars into the world! 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On a Sunny February Afternoon

The gentlemen of the house are away at the movies.
The day job tasks are finished until Monday, and I finally have a whole afternoon to write. I have been agonizing over the early chapters of a new project for weeks now. It's time to get them DONE.

But first I'm sneaking a few minutes to check in with my blog.
We're just under 2 months from the debut of THE STAR THIEF. No more counting down the years, or the months, we're down to WEEKS people! The cover is finished, the text has been edited, revised, copyedited, proofread, formatted, and covered in sprinkles. It's a book, and it's out there, in the hands of readers and reviewers. They get it now. In a few more weeks, it will be out there for everyone to find.  I imagine this a little bit what sending a kid off to college feels like. My little book gets to go off into the world and meet new people, and become part of other people's experiences, hopefully good ones!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Final, Official Cover!

After a few minor revisions, I'm delighted to reveal the new, final cover for THE STAR THIEF!!

This is the front :D 

And this is the full cover, with all text & bells & whistles!
From how it's been described, the final, printed version is going to be amazing! 

Everyone's questions involve if/how much input I had in the cover design.
Answer is, not much :D
My editor did suggest this for the cover image while we were working on the manuscript, which I thought was a fantastic idea - when I was a kid, I would have gone for the book with the pegasus on the cover first thing - and when I saw the first draft and there were Honorine and Francis soaring across the night sky on Pegasus, well, I never thought this little story would ever get this far. It's amazing and humbling.