Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cynsations: New Voice: JoAnne Stewart Wetzel on Playing Juliet...

Cynsations: New Voice: JoAnne Stewart Wetzel on Playing Juliet...: By Cynthia Leitich Smith for Cynsations JoAnne Stewart Wetzel is the first-time novelist of Playing Juliet (Sky Pony, 2015). From the...

Thursday, October 06, 2016

A sneak peek at the opening to CCSC #4....

CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB #4 - SECRET OF THE SHADOW BANDIT will be out in just 3 weeks!!

Here's a sneak peek at the opening chapter! (Sorry if the formatting is wonky)


A shrill scream rips through the house.
I jump off the window seat, fling my mystery novel aside, race out of my bedroom and-
Wham! Solid mass of big brother.
“Whoa, Kelsey!” Kyle’s hair is mussed like he just woke up from a nap. He puts his hands on my shoulders and peers into my face. “Why’d you scream?”
“Not me…Kiana or Kenya,” I say as another scream echoes through the hall. I whirl around, and with my brother close on my heels, run into the twins’ room.
My older sister Kiana is perched on her bed, clutching a pink stuffed bunny to her chest like a shield. “Get the monster out of here!” she shrieks.
“What monster?” Kyle scrunches his forehead, looking around.
“It moved too fast to get a good look but I think it’s a fanged snake or horned lizard with a spiky tail,” Kiana says in a rush.
A fanged horned monster with a spiky tail?
I want to believe Kiana because she’s the nicer twin and sometimes she even helps me with my homework. But there’s no monster in her room—only the usual mess of clothes, shoes and makeup my sisters never bother to put away. There are still moving boxes, too, even though it’s been a week since we moved from our cramped apartment into a two-story “Cottage.”
“It’s in my closet!” Kiana points a shaky finger. “I saw a horrifying shadow on the wall then heard claws running into my closet so I kicked the door shut. And it’s still there!”
“You only saw a shadow?” Kyle scoffs. “Don’t you know that shadows are always more exaggerated than reality? I’m not surprised you’re imagining monsters after you and Kenya stayed up late watching Jurassic Park.”
“That has nothing to do with this…this CREATURE!” Kiana squeals from high on her bed, her gaze glued to the closet. “I came into my room to get my backpack and heard a crunching sound—and look! That THING chewed my book report!” Kiana picks up a shredded piece of paper from her bed and waves it at us.
I stare at stripes of claws and needle-sharp punctures, and my stomach knots. As Spy Tactics Specialist in the Curious Cat Spy Club, I’ve trained myself to observe and analyze evidence. The claw and teeth marks are proof I can’t ignore. A horrible suspicion grows in my mind.
“A monster ate your homework?” Kyle throws back his head and laughs. “Try getting that story by your teacher.”
“It’s true! And it’s probably devouring my clothes and best shoes right now!” Kiana twists a curl of her dark hair around her finger. “Hurry, Kyle! You’re older and stronger than we are. Get rid of it!”
My brother’s smile fades fast. While he’s tall and can play a mean game of hoops, he’s not made of muscles or courage. And lately he’s been too busy researching colleges to play any sports. He glances uneasily at the closet, backing into the hall like he’s poised for a quick getaway. “I’ll go ask Mom to help. Catching animals is her job so she’ll know what to do.”
“She’s working in the garden,” Kiana says.
“No need to bother Mom on her day off,” I say calmly although my heart is pounding. I step forward. “I’ll do it.”
My brother and sister stare at me, shocked. I’m the youngest in the family, after all, the little sister who’s usually so quiet no one notices me. They probably think I’m trying to prove I can be brave but my offer has nothing to do with bravery. It’s the opposite. If my suspicion about the “monster” is right, I’m going to be in big trouble. My only hope is to get my sister and brother out of the room.
“I can handle this.” I visualize I’m a fearless detective from one of my novels and lift my chin confidently. “I’ve learned a lot about dealing with wild animals from hanging out with Becca at her Animal Sanctuary. Alligators, lions and bears—they don’t scare me. Becca’s taught me how to protect myself but I can’t protect both of you so wait in the hall.”
Kiana frowns at her ripped homework then jumps off her bed and comes over to me. “I can’t leave you in here alone,” she says.
“Really, it’s okay. Don’t worry. I won’t get hurt.” As I say this I hear rustling sounds from the closet and wonder what will happen if I’m wrong. Could there really be a spiked-tail snake/lizard in the closet?
“Kel knows a lot about wild animals, so she can take care of this,” my brother says with a shrug. “Come on, Kiana. Let’s get out of here.”
“But Kelsey could get hurt.” She tugs my hand. “Better my shoes get eaten than my baby sister. Let’s all leave and go get Mom.”
“Get Mom to do what?”
I swivel around as Mom strides into the room. Curly brown hair falls out of her red scarf and her gardening gloves are dirt-stained. Before she became a County Animal Control Officer, she worked for a florist because she loves gardening. I just wish she’d stayed outside in the garden.
Things get worse when I hear Kenya’s and Dad’s voices.
Drats! Now my whole family is here.
“What’s going on?” Dad squeezes in beside Mom. He must have been in the kitchen working on a culinary masterpiece because he’s wearing his Eating is a Necessity but Cooking is an Art apron.
“Kiana, did you scream?” Kenya pushes past everyone to hug her twin. They both have long dark-brown hair like Mom’s and full lips like Dad, and everyone says they’re identical. But they can’t fool me because I can tell them apart. It’s Secret 28 in my Notebook of Secrets.
“Mom, Dad!” Kiana gestures to the closet. “There’s a monster in my closet!”
Dad wipes his hands on his cooking apron as he chuckles. “Aren’t you a little old for imaginary friends?”
“It’s not a friend or imaginary! See what it did to my book report!” Kiana waves the ripped homework in the air. A corner breaks off and flutters to the carpet.
Mom pushes her hair from her eyes, leaning in for a closer look at the paper. “Hmmm,” she murmurs. “What does this monster look like?”
“Horrifying! It was huge like a giant lizard or dragon with wicked fangs!” Kiana spreads her arms and juts out her teeth like fangs. “And it had a spiky tail!”
“But you only saw its shadow,” I point out, hoping to calm everyone down and convince them to leave. “I’m sure it’s just a harmless rat. I can get rid of it.”
“No, you will not, Kelsey,” Mom says firmly as she steps in front of me. “Rats carry diseases. Kyle, go out to my work truck and grab my net.”
“Sure Mom.” Kyle runs down the hall.
We all wait, as if frozen in a movie frame. Kiana and Kenya stand close, their hands dramatically clasped together and their gazes fixed on the closet door like they’re actors in a horror movie. Dad stands by awkwardly like an extra, while Mom waits to direct the action.
Minutes later, Kyle’s footsteps pound down the hall and then he hands Mom the net. “Here.” He quickly darts back into the hall.
Mom holds the net in one hand, reaching for the closet door with the other.
I hold my breath as Mom twists the knob.
Slowly, the door opens….

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Literally Lynne Marie: PPPF: A Fairy Friend -Written by Sue Fliess Illust...

Literally Lynne Marie: PPPF: A Fairy Friend -Written by Sue Fliess Illust...: http://amzn.to/2bYWhQ1 A Perfect Picture Book Friday Review A FAIRY FRIEND Written by Sue Fliess Illustrated by Claire Keane Publis...

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Book Girl's Book Blog: 365 Days of Books of Interest: Day #208 (for Thurs...

The Book Girl's Book Blog: 365 Days of Books of Interest: Day #208 (for Thurs...: I love the cover and this little series, these kids are forever finding a mystery and animals they want to help. The Secret of the Shadow Ba...

Monday, August 15, 2016

YABookNerd: Review: Memory Girl

YABookNerd: Review: Memory Girl: Ever since scientists have figured out a way to transplant memories into another body, death ceases to matter. Youths are raised for the ...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

SNEAK PREVIEW! After years waiting MEMORY GIRL -- a YA about the risk of living forever -- is out!!!

In 2009 I woke up one early morning with words in my head screaming to escape. So I got up and wrote 4 pages.
I was busy writing the DEAD GIRL trilogy at the time, so put the pages aside. But they haunted me. Finally when my career hit a low; lost a publisher and agent, I had time to write this book. So I did. I got a new agent, and she loved it. She sent it out to a dozen publishers and two of the Top Five took it to acquisitions. But a few months later, it was still unsold. Rewrites happened. Two more publishers interested. But months and rewrites later: rejection. My agent was discouraged, and she dropped me. I put the manuscript aside...

But in 2014, while I was promoting my picture book SNOW DOG, SAND DOG, at a library conference, I ran into an editor-friend who was looking for a YA book. "I have one!" I told her excitedly, then submitted to her. And she loved it.

MEMORY GIRL is now a hardback novel from CBAY Books and it already got a good review from Kirkus. Hollywood is even interested!

Here's a link:

Here's a sneak preview from the ending of Chapter One:


Soon I’ll have a Family, a new name, and a forever role in ShareHaven society.

But will I still be me?

“I have to go . . . I’m sorry,” I say and turn my back on my friends.

I untwist the wires so they fall to the sides like the open mouth of a jagged-toothed monster. I’ve grown up with warnings of claws and snakes outside ShareHaven. But while I’ve heard roars beyond our boundaries, I’ve never seen monstrous creatures. Day by day, I only see the same eternal faces.

Everything except my face will change when I belong to a Family.

I don’t want to think on this and push through the narrow opening, legs dangling as I balance precariously on wire. I’m only a jump away from the forbidden side of the Fence.

They are no more warnings from my best mates. I’m tempted to look behind me. Instead, I lift my gaze to the gray-blue horizon that stretches forever. Chilly sea fills me with an ache so deep I want to cry, although I have no idea why. Am I flawed somehow? Why can’t I behave the expected, dutiful way, like Lorelei, and be studious, like Marcus? Why am I always yearning, frustrated, even angry sometimes for no sensical reason? Why can’t I accept all I’ve learned from the Instructors? Instead I am tormented with questions.

My mind slips into familiar groves of wonderings—whispers shared in darkness about belonging to a Family. Since our birth, we’ve been on the same path with the same destination—to reach age fifteen, join a Family, and receive memories of a Lost One. There’s a retro word that comes to mind: recycling—when rare resources like metal or plastic are melted and reshaped into something new.
Why can’t I stay in this shape?

With a fierce look at the sky, I suck in salty freedom. I look over at the safe side of the Fence, relieved yet a little disappointed too. No one is there.

In the distance, I spot Lorelei and Marcus walking away.

Clinging to the wire, I whisper over and over, “I am Jennza . . . I am Jennza . . . I am Jennza . . . .”
I spread my arms wide.
And jump.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

YABookNerd: Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Underrated Books

YABookNerd: Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Underrated Books: This week's topic is the best books  We Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads - turns out there's a a really easy way t...