Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Welcoming New Project Mayhemmer: Kristen Zayon

We are thrilled to announce a new team member, Kristen Zayon. Now we can truly say we've got you covered from A (Kell Andrews) to Z!!!

Without further ado, here's Kristen's bio in her own words. Her first post will be tomorrow.

Kristen Zayon took the long and winding road that led to writing and librarianship as a life choice. Raised in the tiny Alaskan town of Delta Junction, she received a degree in business (which she had no intention of really using) at the University of Alaska. Then she married this guy with a dazzling smile, and proceeded to have five kids. After emerging from the self-imposed haze caused by a decade of diapers and breastfeeding, she thought, “Hey, I should get a job.” Her children’s school seemed a logical choice, and she started out as a math and reading tutor. But as a self-described book nerd, she soon ended up in the library, where the librarian told her, “Girl, this is what you were meant to be.” Fast-forward several years and she was working as an elementary school librarian where she got to indulge her love of books and an affinity for children. She wrote her first book, “The Crystal Quest,” in sixth grade. It was published by her mom on a dot matrix printer. She has continued writing over the years, especially poems, because they are short and she doesn’t have much time. Recently though, she buckled down and wrote her first novel, which she is currently shopping to agents. She’s still married to that guy with the dazzling smile, and the kids are growing up much too fast for her liking.

Leave a comment and welcome Kristen to Project Mayhem!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Cover Reveal: The Wild Lands by Paul Greci

I know this is a blog about all things middle grade but I’ve got my first young adult novel coming out and am really excited to share the cover!! The Wild Lands hits the shelves on January 29, 2019 but you can pre-order it now.

Book Information:
Publisher: Imprint (Macmillan)
Publication Date: 01/29/2019
ISBN: 9781250183583
384 Pages, Ages 14 and up

Here’s the blurb from the cover:

When a collapsing U.S. government abandoned an Alaska ravaged by earthquakes and wildfires, Travis’s family chose not to evacuate. But now they realize their mistake—as food stores collapse and the few people who stayed turn on each other.

Travis and his younger sister Jess now must cross hundreds of miles in search of what remains of civilization. The wilderness they’re crossing is filled with ravenous animals, strangers competing for dwindling resources, and petty dictators fighting for control.

They’ll make a few friends and a lot of enemies on their terrifying journey across the ruins of today’s world. Travis and his fellow travelers will fight for what they believe in as they see how far people will go to survive.

This pulse-pounding thriller, full of shocking plot twists, is the ultimate survival tale of humanity’s fight against society’s collapse.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope to be sharing some information about the Sequel to Surviving Bear Island in the near future.

Paul Greci is the author of Surviving Bear Island, a 2015 Junior Library Guild Selection and a 2016 Scholastic Reading Club Selection. Forthcoming in October 2018 is Follow the River, a sequel to Surviving Bear Island published by Move Books. In January 2019, Paul's first young adult novel, The Wild Lands will be published by Macmillan.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Writers' Conferences!

Conference season is upon us! In fact, it already started. Last week I had the privilege of attending Kweli, The Color of Children’s Literature Conference in New York City. I was thrilled to attend a master class by THE Angela Johnson, and multiple workshops, panels, and presentations that renewed my creative energy.
I’m getting ready to attend three of my favorite author gatherings in the next few weeks and throughout the summer months (Storymakersin May,WIFYRin June, and the SCBWI National conferencein LA in August). I’ll be part of the faculty at two of them and a participant in the third one, and I wanted to share the things that have helped me in the past to make my time at conferences the most productive, enjoyable, and inspiring experience to keep me going through the rest of the year as I work by myself. 
I belong to vibrant writing communities, but there’s nothing like the energy of attending an event just for MY people. A bunch of people obsessed with reading, writing, and illustrating books for children that truly change the world. People that are usually (not always) a bunch of introverts who’ve only met online and try not to act awkwardly meeting in person for the first time (or after a long time of digital conversations). 
These are the things I can prepare ahead of time to help me cope with the amazingness of conferences:
·     Business cards or another form of sharing my info: Right before I left for Kweli, I dug out my author business cards that I’ve been using for a couple of years now. My contact information hasn’t changed, but my agent switched agencies, and to my horror of horrors, I realized that I’ve been giving out a card with the wrong email address for the last two years. Thankfully I had included several ways people could get in touch with me. Besides email, I included my website info, and my social media handles. For the rest of the summer, and because it’s the first time I’ll attend a conference after signing a book deal, I’ll have postcards with my book info so people can know it’s coming out soon (ish… 2019). Business cards aren’t a must, but they’re great ways to gather contact info of the people we click with when we sit together for lunch, at classes, or outside in a green area taking a break. I’ve met a lot of my friends at writerly events!
·     Getting submission materials ready on time. If I’m part of a workshop (either as faculty or attendee), I like to read my workshop materials ahead of time so that I may be the best help to my fellow workshop attendants. Talking about submissions, make sure you format your materials properly. By this I mean, make sure there’s identifying information such as name, title, page numbers on a cover letter, and every page. Also, when you save your piece, make sure you labeled it in an appropriate way. Remember every person will be able to see the file name and root. Go simple. Your last name and title will suffice (Name.Title.doc) instead of something generic or inappropriate like: firstchapter.doc, workshop.doc, thefreakinglastdraftb*tches.doc. 
·     Going over the schedule and giving myself time to recharge: I love planning my classes, and most times my plans change. Sometimes if I’m meeting friends, I’ll change my mind on what class I’m attending. Sometimes I take longer to arrive to my first choice and when I finally arrive I realize the class is full. Sometimes I need a break. But I like being prepared and knowing ahead of time what my options are. 
·     Remembering to be yourself and keeping in mind why you attend these kind of events: dress comfortably but professionally. Wear comfortable foot-ware. Enjoy the moment. Don’t compare yourself to others. Remember this time is for you to improve your craft, to make connections that will invigorate your writing and your personal life. If you have a pitch session with an agent or editor, remember that they’ve been looking forward to meeting a project to fall in love with, but most of all, they want to help you improve yourcraft. However, meeting and agent or editor shouldn’t be the main purpose of conference attendance. Save every moment, so when you’re at your desk, pounding words on your latest WIP or that tenth revision, you’ll be able to draw from the magical energy of being surrounded by wordsmiths and storytellers. 

What conferences or events will you be attending this year? What are your best tips for newbies and old-timers? Please share in the comments, and if you attend any of the same events I’ll be at, seek me out and say hi! 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Trailer Premiere: RIDERS OF THE REALM by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Guys, this is so exciting. We're on the red carpet, with Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, author of the amazing GUARDIAN HERD quartet. Jennifer is one of the most gracious and professional authors I know, and so I'm fanboying and pretty much swooning that she chose Project Mayhem to be the space for the book trailer premiere of her new RIDERS OF THE REALM  trilogy. The first book in the series, Across the Dark Water, releases on May 1st, 2018. (Swoon again!)

Even more exciting, Jennifer will be giving away a signed copy of the finished book for ONE lucky reader chosen from comments on this post. (US readers only.)

Without further ado, let's settle in our seats, grab the popcorn, and turn down the lights. I present to you the book trailer for RIDERS OF THE REALM:


I love the illustrations, the music, the drama: basically everything about this! (For future consumption: I'll be reviewing Across the Dark Water on Project Mayhem in a couple of weeks!!!)

Jennifer Lynn Alvarez
Thank you, Jennifer, for honoring Project Mayhem with this premiere. We're big fans of yours!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Cover Reveal: THE LIGHTHOUSE BETWEEN THE WORLDS by Melanie Crowder

In the fall of 2016, Melanie Crowder and I met for the first time. We'd known each other on line (I reviewed her first novel, PARCHED, right here on Project Mayhem!) and finally got to meet in person on our way to the Virginia Library Association's annual meeting (where our books were both awarded the Jefferson Cup for Historical Fiction).

On that drive, we talked about the work we were doing. Melanie mentioned a new project that involved a lighthouse.

Now that book, The Lighthouse Between the Worlds, will meet the world this fall.

I asked Melanie what first drew her to this story. Here's what she had to say:
I grew up in Oregon, and the lighthouse that inspired the book, Heceta Head, is just down the coast highway from where my family went camping for our summer vacations. I go home to Oregon every year—I'm still a west coast girl at heart.  
I thought of the story when I was out in the wilderness, and wondering what it must have been like when the telegraph, or AC currents, or the Fresnel lens came to the West. It must have seemed like magic. And I thought—what if it was? I had no idea at the time that a portal fantasy, with characters jumping between worlds would be the result, but isn’t that the fun of writing—finding those surprises in the process? 
Here's a description of the story:

Griffin and his father tend to their lighthouse on the craggy coast of Oregon with the same careful routine each day. There are hardly ever any visitors, but they like it that way. Which is why, when a group of oddly dressed strangers suddenly appears, Griffin begins to see just how many secrets his father has been keeping. He never imagined that his lighthouse contains a portal to strange and dangerous worlds, or that a Society of Lighthouse Keepers exists to protect the Earth from a fearsome enemy invasion.

But then Griffin’s dad is pulled through the lens of the lighthouse into one of those other worlds. With his father gone, nobody from the Society is giving Griffin any answers, so he’s on his own. Armed only with a book of mysterious notes from his parents, Griffin is determined to find his dad, no matter what dangers lurk on the other side of the portal.

And here's the gorgeous cover!

You can find out more about Melanie and all her books at her website,