Star Trek ‘Strange New Worlds’ Writing Contest

If you’re looking for something to schedule on social media for the next few days, consider this video promoting the Star Trek Strange New Worlds Writing Contest.

In celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary in 2016, Simon & Schuster is bringing back the popular fan fiction writing contest, Strange New Worlds. Here’s the video embed code:

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And here’s a link to the contest information to share:


Review (Plus): “Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye”

Bookshelf Blurb: Full of fun twist and turns, mystery and mayhem, this story is an easy read for your reluctant middle schooler. Excellent mix of graphic novel and story.


America’s Review:

At age 7, Warren the 13th loses his dad, Warren the 12th, and is left under the care of a lazy, worthless uncle living in  a hotel which Warren will inherit when he turns 18. The cheerful Warren takes pride in the decrepit hotel despite the overwhelming amount of work left to him daily. Tania del Rio has brilliantly partnered the font of Warren’s story with illustrator Will Staehle’s graphic pictures throughout the book.

Middle-grade children will enjoy the black and white pictures, along with the large, colorful font as they try to decipher what the all-seeing eye does. Splashes of red periodically show up, adding another element of dark emotion to the innocence of little Warren’s life. His uncle has recently married a bossy, rude and unkind woman, who readers quickly discover is a witch. Aunt Anaconda is convinced the all-seeing eye is close, and is destroying the hotel in her quest to possess the eye. When she invites her two witch sisters to aid in her endeavor, they brag to everyone of their hunt. Much to Anaconda’s chagrin, her sisters’ braggart personalities have brought a plethora of guests (also in search of the all-seeing eye) to the hotel.

Warren and his uncle are thrilled to see the hotel at capacity, but with these visitors comes the responsibilities of hotel management. Although busy with tasks, Warren knows he must possess the eye before Aunt Anaconda, or ruin will befall the hotel.

Full of fun twists and turns, mystery and mayhem, this story is an easy read for your reluctant middle-schooler. High-level third and fourth graders will also enjoy Warren’s tale. There is a clear storyline with fun and witty characters; the setting is also cool, but also adds an element of creepy.

In the classroom:

In the beginning of our story, Warren lives in the hotel with a few characters: his uncle, his aunt, the chef and a tutor/librarian. As the story progresses, Warren has to interact with new hotel guests; one of them is a young girl his own age who befriends him. As each new character is introduced, Warren has to establish where they fit in his life. He allows them into his heart, but soon learns this is not always the best choice. Character development evolves throughout the novel, giving your students an opportunity to describe how Warren’s responses to these new characters changes the plot (CCSS 6th Reading Literacy).

Warren the 13th and The All-Seeing Eye: A Novel by Tania del Rio, illustrated by Will Staehle (Quirk Books | 9781594748035 | November 24, 2015)

300 Seconds: Change Your Message

This is probably the last sane day you’ll experience for a little while. Enjoy the quiet and the friends stopping by the store on this day before Thanksgiving. Before you leave for the holiday, though, take 300 seconds to do a couple of things which will make your return on Friday a bit easier.

  1. Change the message on your answering machine and on your auto-reply message to indicate your Thanksgiving hours, as well as any special hours or deals for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Some customers will call, even though they know you’re closed, to hear what time you will open on Friday.
  2. Plan and schedule social media posts and e-mail marketing for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. If you use Facebook scheduler and TweetDeck, you can save yourself the headache of coming up with something clever to share when you’d rather be selling books to customers.

If you tend to forget to change messages back, set a reminder on your phone to do so first thing Friday morning.

Now that that’s complete, enjoy the holiday!

A Little Whatnot: November 18, 2015

Here’s a little whatnot for you to share socially…

Use your words, er…

tears-of-joy-emojiOxford Dictionaries announced their Word of the Year, and it’s not a word at all. It’s a pictograph, officially called the ‘Face with Tears of Joy’ emoji.

According to their blog: “There were other strong contenders from a range of fields, outlined below, but 😂 was chosen as the ‘word’ that best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015.”

Ever wonder what happens to you physically as you read a book? The University of Virginia Library put together this infographic explaining the lasting effects, from moments after you begin reading to years later.


Pauls Toutonghi, author of Red Weather and Evel Knievel Days, spent some time last spring at the Hawthornden International Writers’ Retreat. It’s where he wrote most of his next book–his first book of narrative nonfiction. Dog Gone: A Lost Pet’s Extraordinary Journey and the Family Who Brought Him Home, will be published by Knopf in June.

Pauls wrote an essay about his time at Hawthornden Castle, which is also an essay about the poetry of Sir William Drummond. “Inside the Ultimate Writers’ Retreat on the Grounds of Hawthornden, William Drummond’s Castle of Poets” appeared recently on Lit Hub and can be found here.

Earlier this week, Emily St. John Mandel posted to her Tumblr:

There was this one time when New York Magazine emailed to ask if I wanted to take part in a photo shoot where writers dress up as characters from literature, which sounded like a fun thing to do on Halloween. “Is there a fictional character you’ve fantasized about being?” they asked.

Yes. Just one.

Check it out:

Lost Canyon by Nina Revoyr

LostCanyon_9781617753534_6d76bThis ambitious novel tells the story of four very different people from Los Angeles who go hiking in the mountains expecting to be challenged, but they get far more than they’d expected when they strapped on their backpacks. Readers should not, however, confuse this for a typical man vs. nature story.

The book alternates between four main characters, telling parts of the story from each of their perspectives with little overlap. They’re a diverse group, and as the action intensifies, it’s interesting to see divisions within the group shift to outside it, with each of them broadening the “us” in which they include themselves. The book doesn’t shy away from discussing race and class, lending it a crisp realism.

This realism also carries into descriptions of the natural world. Revoyr is adept at capturing the dangerous beauty of the wilderness; she makes the reader feel how the things about a rustic landscape that draw us to it are also the things that can kill us. Her eye for detail means that every bird is described accurately in both appearance and behavior, and wildflowers are portrayed so vividly you can imagine the grandeur of the mountains offset by their fragile beauty.

The meat of the book lies in its survival story and its social novel aspects. The trouble they stumble into follows them, so that in addition to hiking off-trail through the mountains while fearing starvation, falling to their deaths, and bear attacks, they have to worry about being killed by other people. This additional element makes a classic survival plotline into something directly relevant to the lives of Revoyr’s characters–and readers’ lives, too. With ripped-from-the-headlines action and character backstories that relate to real-life issues like the foreclosure crisis and the plight of students at inner-city schools,  Revoyr has crafted an absorbing, thought-proving read.

Lost Canyon by Nina Revoyr (Akashic Books | 9781617753534 | August 25, 2015)