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Monday, January 25, 2016

Guest Post: Jake Gerhardt, author of Me and Miranda Mullaly

I'm thrilled to have Jake Gerhardt, author of the super cute middle-grade Me and Miranda Mullaly, stopping by today with a great guest post! And be sure to read my review.


Me and Miranda Mullaly
by Jake Gerhardt
Jan. 26, 2016
Viking Books
The fates of three 8th grade boys converge in biology class one day, as each falls desperately in love with the same girl. There's Sam, the class clown; Duke, the intellectual; and Chollie, the athlete. And the object of their collective affection? The enigmatic Miranda Mullaly—the girl who smiles like she means it, the girl who makes Christmas truly magic when she sings, the girl who…barely realizes her admirers exist! 

But nothing will stop the guys from doing everything they can to GET THE GIRL, not even their inevitable confrontation.

Told in alternating perspectives, Me and Miranda Mullaly is a comedy of errors where small misunderstandings lead to big laughs. And beneath the humor, every attempt to win Miranda becomes a compelling look at the larger world of each guy's life.

PRAISE FOR ME AND MIRANDA MULLALY:
“Jake Gerhardt’s debut novel is sweet, knowing, and a super-fun read. Takes you right back to the awkwardness and earnestness of adolescence, with a lot of cringe and even more laughs.” 
—Patton Oswalt, New York Times bestselling author, comedian, and actor

**************************

The Journey of Me and Miranda Mullaly
by Jake Gerhardt

The Idea The idea for Me and Miranda Mullaly came to me at my family’s annual Christmas party.  We were reminiscing about a fellow, we’ll call him Chad, whom my sister dated for a few months.   Chad would come over, wander around the house like a cat trying to get comfortable, then finally settle in a chair in a room with my father and begin a conversation.  Soon it became clear Chad was in love.  In love with my father.  He hung on my father’s every word, and no doubt would’ve gone out and busted kneecaps if my father had asked him.  We all knew what was to come.  Chad was crestfallen when my sister gave him his walking papers.  He was going to miss my father.
Reminiscing about Chad gave me the idea for a story about three boys who fall in love with the same girl and then get taken advantage of by the father.

The Class I took a class at UCLA specifically designed for writing for children.  Armed with my idea, about three teenagers who fall in love with the same girl, I jumped right in.  The first chapter centered on the thumbtack and still does.  
The most important thing I learned in the writing class was to write everything from the point of view of the boys, and before I knew it Mr. Mullaly was gone, only to appear briefly during the snow shoveling incident.  Chollie, Duke and Sam were now driving the story.

Karen I wrote the manuscript very quickly.  After my wife, Karen, and I read to our children every night, I would make a strong cup of coffee and get to work.  Often I would fall asleep reading to either Frida or Ada, then I would wake up and write till midnight.  Karen kept me going, gently urging me to finish the manuscript.  Her support and careful early editing were integral to my finishing the book.
From the get go I had a good feeling about the story (originally called Three Men and Miranda Mullaly, in homage to Three Men in a Boat) and with my wife’s coaching and my classmates’ notes and advice, I found myself with a funny book, pretty much what I wanted.

Dan Lazar I queried many, many agents.  After being rejected by sixty-six, I stopped counting.  It was exceedingly disappointing, it truly was, but I also felt the manuscript was pretty good.  Karen’s confidence in me really kept me going and finally Dan Lazar (Writers House) and I found each other.  I signed a contract with Dan Lazar in mid-April.  We did one round of revisions to some of the final chapters, and he sent it out.  In less than two months we accepted an offer for Me and Miranda Mullaly (Dan wisely suggested changing the title) and a second book,  now in final edits.  
Joanna Cardenas I spoke with a couple of editors who were interested in the book but from the beginning I knew that Joanna Cardenas at Viking really got it, really understood the humor and what I was trying to say.  When the offer came in from Viking there was little doubt in my mind this was the home for my book and that I would be lucky to work with Joanna.
I have a hard time with pacing, often adding too much information to the story.  Joanna has a great sense of timing and a great eye to see where I’m repeating myself or adding unnecessary details.  She was essential in helping me bring Miranda alive on the page, especially because Miranda had fewer pages to tell her side of the story.  
The final third of the original manuscript dragged a bit.  I felt I needed to explain more than was necessary.  Joanna cut the superfluous parts and kept the story flowing at a fast and lively pace.

Jake Gerhardt was born and raised in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. He attended Elkins Park Middle School, where he played football and basketball, ran track, performed in the school musical, and was a member of the student council. He also found time to attend many school dances, in constant pursuit of various Miranda Mullalys.  

Since graduating from West Chester University, he has worked as a teacher. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his pulchritudinous wife and two amazing daughters. Me and Miranda Mullaly is his first book.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Jake!





Review: Me and Miranda Mullaly by Jake Gerhardt



Me and Miranda Mullaly
by Jake Gerhardt
Jan. 26, 2016
Viking Books
The fates of three 8th grade boys converge in biology class one day, as each falls desperately in love with the same girl. There's Sam, the class clown; Duke, the intellectual; and Chollie, the athlete. And the object of their collective affection? The enigmatic Miranda Mullaly—the girl who smiles like she means it, the girl who makes Christmas truly magic when she sings, the girl who…barely realizes her admirers exist! 

But nothing will stop the guys from doing everything they can to GET THE GIRL, not even their inevitable confrontation. 

Told in alternating perspectives, Me and Miranda Mullaly is a comedy of errors where small misunderstandings lead to big laughs. And beneath the humor, every attempt to win Miranda becomes a compelling look at the larger world of each guy's life.


PRAISE FOR ME AND MIRANDA MULLALY:

“Jake Gerhardt’s debut novel is sweet, knowing, and a super-fun read. Takes you right back to the awkwardness and earnestness of adolescence, with a lot of cringe and even more laughs.” 
—Patton Oswalt, New York Times bestselling author, comedian, and actor

************************************************


Chollie (the jock), Duke (the brainiac), and Sam (the class clown) are three vastly different eighth graders who happen to have one very big thing in common: they’re all in love with Miranda Mullaly! Each boy is desperate to win Miranda’s heart and willing to do anything to up the competition. Miranda, on the other hand, is too busy with her own middle-school drama to even notice her three suitors. Will one of the boys win her heart?

Jacob Gerhardt’s Me and Miranda Mullaly is a fun, heartfelt middle-grade, full of laughs, relatable moments, and endearing characters. Gerhardt does a great job of capturing those confusing, hectic, often turbulent, and sometimes cringe-worthy middle-school years fraught with over-the-top and ever changing emotions. This it’s either the “best day ever!” or “the world is ending!” time in a kid’s life provides plenty of highs (oh the drama!) and embarrassing lows (oh those lows!) and Me and Miranda Mullaly is chock full of both. Young readers will be amused by the earnest attempts of the three lover boys as they try to capture Miranda’s heart, while older readers will recall and, hopefully be able to laugh at, their own mixed-up middle-grade years. Gerhardt weaves a great deal of emotion and heart throughout Me and Miranda Mullaly as well. Each boy has a complex home-life that influence the way they go about wooing Miranda.

Told in alternating perspectives, we get glimpses into each of the four main characters’ (Chollie, Duke, Sam, and Miranda) point of views and lives. I like how each character is so much more (and sometimes less) than what the others perceive them as. Young readers will easily connect to these characters and see parts of themselves in each one.

my final thoughts: Full of humor, sweetness, authenticity, engaging storytelling, and likable characters, readers will find Me and Miranda Mullaly delightful and entertaining.

MY RATING
4/5 cupcakes

Jake Gerhardt was born and raised in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania. He attended Elkins Park Middle School, where he played football and basketball, ran track, performed in the school musical, and was a member of the student council. He also found time to attend many school dances, in constant pursuit of various Miranda Mullalys.  

Since graduating from West Chester University, he has worked as a teacher. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his pulchritudinous wife and two amazing daughters. Me and Miranda Mullaly is his first book.



Friday, January 22, 2016

Comics Squad: Lunch Blog Tour


I'm so excited to have the Comics Squad: Lunch Blog Tour stopping by today! Each tour stop will be featuring a panel excerpt one of the comics in the book...

Comics Squad #2: Lunch
Jan. 26, 2016
Random House BFYR
WARNING: THIS BOOK MAY CAUSE EXCESSIVE LAUGHTER AND POSSIBLE SILLINESS.
Don’t miss COMICS SQUAD: LUNCH! an all-star tribute to classic Sunday comics that includes eight sidesplitting, action-packed stories about every kid’s (and, let’s be honest, every adult’s!) favorite time of the day—lunch!

This book has a dream team of bestselling authors and timeless series, including Jeffrey Brown (Darth Vader and Son and Jedi Academy), Jennifer Holm (three-time Newbery Honor winner and author of Babymouse), Jarrett Krosoczka (two-time Children’s Choice Award winner for Lunch Lady), and The Peanuts, along  with Cece Bell (Newbery Honor and Eisner Award–winning author of El Deafo), Nathan Hale (Eisner Illustrator of the Year nominee for Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack), Matthew Holm (Eisner Award winner and illustrator of Babymouse), Jason Shiga (author of Meanwhile and Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not)), and Cecil Castelucci and Sara Varon (author and illustrator of Odd Duck).

Do you like laughing till milk comes out of your nose? Look no further than COMICS SQUAD: LUNCH! Lunchtime can be fun, wild, terrifying, yummy, or downright disgusting. And in this second collection of comics, it is definitely hilarious.

COMICS SQUAD: LUNCH! is the second installment of the Comics Squad series. The first book in the series, COMICS SQUAD: RECESS! Quickly garnered acclaim among kids, parents, librarians, and educators, and was praised as “lively, upbeat, and all-around-awesome” in a starred review from Kirkus. Fans of COMICS SQUAD: RECESS will devour COMICS SQUAD: LUNCH!


Praise for Comics Squad: Lunch

“A second helping of tasty treats.”
Kirkus Reviews

Praise for Comics Squad: Recess
Publishers Weekly starred review, April 28, 2014:“The orange two-color artwork lets the artists’ distinctive styles shine; readers can only hope more such collaborations are on the way.”

Kirkus starred review, June 1, 2014:More fun than the playground at recess!

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, September 2014:
A terrific introduction to the styles of [the] individual creators, inviting [graphic novel] newbies to wander through in search of a series that hits their own comic sweet spot.

Panel Excerpt from Lunch Bomb by Nathan Hale



Comics Squad: Lunch Blog Tour Schedule
January 18: Curling Up With A Good Book, Panel from Cecil Castellucci/Sarah Varon
January 19: As They Grow Up, Panel from Jarrett Krosoczka
January 20: The Reading Nook Reviews, Panel from Cece Bell
January 21: Kid Lit Frenzy, Panel from Jason Shiga
January 22Word Spelunking, Panel from Nathan Hale
January 23Mel's Shelves, Panel from Jennifer L. Holm/Matthew Holm
January 24Imagination Soup, Panel from Jeffrey Brown





Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Interview: Taro Meyer, author of Emma G. Loves Boyz


I'm pleased to have author Taro Meyer stopping by today to chat about her middle-grade, Emma G. Loves Boyz...

Emma G. Loves Boyz
(A True Love Journal)
by Taro Meyer
11/24/15
Red Sky Presents
Emma G. Loves Boyz - A True Love Journal is the first book in the new Tween Girl Series by Taro Meyer - the exuberant journal of a star-struck fan who vows to stop at nothing - not even doing chores! - for a chance to see her favorite boy band perform live...

Emma G. is CRAZY about Aaron, lead singer of Boyz3000. Of course, she doesn’t actually know him, but so what? Feelings are feelings. That is until Josh appears… and he’s soooooo CUTE. Navigating her two crushes and her middle school life, especially with eighth-grade hater Renee around, is a challenge. And oh yeah, she’s got to earn money for an AWESOME trip to the Bahamas to see the band of her dreams. Hello???? How much can one thirteen-year-old take???


Praise for Emma G. Loves Boyz

“[A] gentle depiction of young love…Emma’s contagious enthusiasm amplifies this wholesome fan letter for younger readers.” – Kirkus Reviews
What three words best describe Emma G. Loves Boyz?
Mega-Crush, Music, BFF.

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give Emma G. Loves Boyz a try?

Can you love both a pop star and an awesomely cute boy at the same time and still manage to get good grades and navigate middle school dramas – especially with eighth-grade-hater Renee trying to make you feel like a worm?

Grab a copy of Emma G. Loves Boyz and answer the following:
-favorite chapter?
My favorite would probably be “Outside.” That’s when Emma runs into Josh on the beach in the Bahamas. He’s the guy she was checking out at the Boyz3000 concert the night before. She gets all flustered when she gets a really good look at him because he is TOTALLY CUTE!!!

-favorite page?
Page: 8, It’s where Emma’s older cousin, Elyse is giving her advice about boys.
“Sometimes boys don’t want you to know they like you. So they look at you like they are trying to look like they aren’t looking at you or liking you, but really, they are. So make sure you look nice at all times because boys like a girl who looks nice, even though they pretend they’re not liking her.”
   
-favorite place/setting?
The Bahamas!!!!
It’s crazy romantic there. Everything is so beautiful and exotic and different.

-flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser.
This is when she’s trying to work on a school essay but is just thinking about her feelings for Aaron, the lead singer in her favorite band.

“When you feel something, you have to believe! Your feelings are totally crucial to your life! When I look at Aaron’s face I get those stomach flutters! And feelings CANNOT BE IGNORED.”
    
What inspired Emma G. Loves Boyz? How did the story come to be?

My young cousin, Ella was 13 and madly in love with Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers. We used to talk about her feelings a lot.
Ella had a once-in-lifetime chance to go to the Bahamas to see the band in concert, and she got backstage to meet them. She called me for advice before she went in. She was so excited she could hardly speak.
I told her to thank him for his charitable work and for being an inspiration to kids everywhere. She did and instead of smiling and going to the next girl in line, Nick Jonas actually stopped talked with her.
It was an experience she will remember for the rest of her life. And frankly, I will too.

Can you tell us a bit about your character Emma? What makes her special and what do you love about her?

Emma is a little over the top in her energy, which I love. She’s got so much popping up in her brain, and she expresses herself with lots of conviction. And she’s funny. She always tries to come up with solutions to whatever problems she encounters, whether it’s getting rid of the horrible D she got on an essay, or convincing her parents to let her go to the Bahamas to see her favorite band in concert. I love that she writes poetry that expresses her feelings even though no one else will see it – or so she hopes!

Emma does whatever she can to see her idol Aaron and Boyz3000 in concert...when you were Emma’s age what band/celebrity would you have done anything to see? (when I was Emma’s age my “Aaron” was Taylor Hanson!)

Ah…Taylor was definitely a cutie.
I loved The Beatles, especially John Lennon. I loved the poetry in their lyrics.  

Will we see Emma and her True Love Journal again?

Absolutely. The song contest could change every aspect of her life. And who knows what will happen with Josh and Aaron?

What’s the BEST thing about being an author?

Making a fictional character come to life and connect to the life of the reader. Emma is real to me, as are all the characters in the book. She was inspired by my cousin, but she is her own unique person and sometimes, it’s like she’s telling me what to write.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at Singing in hallways because there’s a good echo.

I’m really embarrassed to admit I’m a horrible cook! Once when I cooked for my little daughter and niece, my daughter said, “Ewww. This is disgusting.” My niece said, “That’s not nice. I think it’s disgusting too but I’m eating it.”

The last great book I read was The Fault in Our Stars.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Emma G. Loves Boyz, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?

I’d have a chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, butter pecan, marbled cupcake with crunchy almonds and creamy coconut frosting swirls on top because I think life is most fun when we maximize our possibilities and we mix things up.
So I’d call it my Mixy-Maxy Cupcake.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Taro!

Twitter: @EmmaG_LovesBoyz
Instagram: Emma.G.Loves.Boyz






Desire (Montana Dreams #3) Blog Tour {guest post, excerpt & giveaway}


ABOUT THE BOOK

Desire
by Montana Dreams #3 
(can be read as a stand-alone)
by Cait Jarrod
Release Date: January 18, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cadence Duvall has a heartbreaking secret. Rather than risk rejection, she pushes away the man who taught her the true meaning of desire. Two years later, her heart still hurts and the guilt remains. She heads to Bluebird Valley, Montana, and her best friend, to bury the memories of a tragedy caused by her careless actions. 

After Cadence breaks his heart, Bradley Lovett severs ties with his overbearing parents and takes a position in Florida as a horse trainer at a thoroughbred stable. An urgent phone call from his sister, begging him to help the woman he only wants to forget, sends him to Montana. When Bradley tries to help Cadence face her secrets, he finds forgiveness may be the key to their happiness.


BOOK LINKS

GUEST POST
Meet the cast of Montana Dreams. Come live their dreams, experience their pain, their happiness, and find out why Bluebird Montana does make dreams come true.




EXCERPT
If Bradley said he didn’t like hearing Cadence’s sharp gasp, he’d be lying. The quick intake of breath revealed she was as put off at being around him as he was her. And the jolt… Christ! Her body—flinching under the cotton t-shirt, peeking between the panels of her jacket, giving him one hell of a show—brought back thoughts better left buried. Damn, this visit would be the death of him.

One call from his kid sister pulled him away from the sandy beaches on the Gulf of Mexico and threw him into hell. There, he had been free of a dark-haired, dreamy-eyed beauty that had haunted his fantasies since his first wet dream.

Just looking into Cadence’s beautiful, shocked eyes, his heart squeezed. It pissed him off; he didn’t want to feel anything. She’d kicked him to the curb after they had the best sex he ever experienced. Basically saying, “Fuck you!” He wanted no part of being here, but damn he loved his sister. So he ate crow. “You can close your mouth now.”

Cadence’s eyes returned to normal size and she did as he asked, shutting her mouth then biting her bottom lip. Do girls take a class to learn how to drive guys crazy?

“I can handle Thor.”

He searched for something flippant to say, to stop her from looking at him as if she wanted to eat him up. Then, her expression changed to disgust, and his ability to come up with a clever retort disappeared. “Take a break.”

Never, never tell Cadence what to do. He learned that in ‘Cadence 101’ at six-years-old. She was three, and he was putty in her hands. Still was, because he wanted to do whatever she asked to put a smile on her face.

She blinked, as if what he said took time to penetrate her mind. Her eyes narrowed, her hands went to her hips, and her chest heaved. Not in the heavy-panting-flushed-face-from-great-sex way, as it did the night they were together, but as if she was building steam, getting ready to let him have it. He held his ground, inched closer until the toe of his boots touched hers, and waited for the Cadence blowout.

The fire in her eyes weakened, and her posture slackened. Sadness skittered through her gorgeous features. Damn. Why the about-face? She gave nothing away, gave no clue as to why she’d climbed into such a black hole. Other than a hip that might cause her pain occasionally, the doctors had said she was good as new after the accident. So why was she so blah? “What’s wrong?”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author of award-winning romantic suspense Band of Friends series, Cait Jarrod won Reader Choice Awards for best HEA (Happily Ever After), suspense, and Editor's Choice.

Her heroes have been described as "every girl's dreams," the heroines as "strong, down-to-earth, and likable," the secondary characters "hysterical." The plots are "fast-paced, unpredictable and clever."

AUTHOR LINKS

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