Current Giveaways

-Tommy Black & the Staff of Light Giveaway: win a print or ebook copy (2 winners, open INT)

My Review/Request Policy has been updated. Please read it before you send a request. Review requests are currently closed, although interview, guest posts, blog tour, and giveaway requests are still open.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Guest Post and Giveaway: Jake Kerr, author of Tommy Black and the Staff of Light

I'm excited to have Jake Kerr, author of the middle-grade Tommy Black and the Staff of Light, here today with a great Guest Post and Giveaway...

Tommy Black and the Staff of Light
by Jake Kerr
Currents & Tangents Press
For fourteen-year-old Tommy Black, nothing is worse than being raised by an overprotective grandfather in the city that never sleeps. That is until his grandfather is captured by magical creatures and Tommy has to save him with his family's magical staff. 
That wouldn’t be so bad, but the only magic he can do with the staff is weak--making light. What the heck can you do with light? 
Tommy finds out as he fights golems, shadow creatures, and djinn in a journey that features a magical river, an enchanted train, and an illusionary fortress. But the worst part of all? Tommy has to save his grandfather with the help of Naomi, a girl whose talent with magic is only rivaled by her ability to hurl insults. 
"Jake Kerr has told an exciting coming-of-age tale that asks serious ethical questions about the costs of magic. This is a world that will stay with the reader long after the last page." -- Ken Liu Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award winning author of The Grace of Kings 
From Nebula, Sturgeon, and Million Writers Award nominee Jake Kerr comes the Tommy Black trilogy, an action adventure series for readers of all ages.

by Jake Kerr

I want to talk about opportunity. We generally think of opportunity as a welcome surprise, a sudden way to advance our lives or careers. But opportunity can take many forms and sometimes when we seen a bright and shining opportunity we miss another opportunity that is perhaps not as obvious be even better for us.

For example, I am currently writing this guest post in the Night Hotel in Manhattan. Tomorrow morning I am meeting with an executive editor at a major publishing house who loves my writing. However, we are not meeting about book deals or editing or anything like that. We’re just going to hang out and have coffee.

The reason is simple: I’ve chosen to self-publish.

Why would I self-publish when I have amazing opportunities in the publishing world with both agents and editors? The reason is simple: As much as I appreciate and value those opportunities, I value the opportunity of self-publishing even more—the opportunity to publish my kids books back-to-back so people don’t have to wait for them, the freedom to pick the cover art, the opportunity to price my ebook low so as many people as possible can afford to read it. I could go on, but that this is a real opportunity should be clear.

This is an important lesson, I think. When we are growing up the world seems so full of wonder and opportunities abound. Little by little we start to see that what seemed like endless possibility has become limited by the world around us. Eventually wonder and possibility become so rare that we welcome any opportunity that presents itself to us. We cling to it as the blessing it is.

But is this true? Aren’t we surrounded by opportunities? What if we looked a little harder and embraced a different perspective? When you look for opportunities in the world, they are suddenly not so difficult to find. Sure, it may not be what you were looking for, but it exists, and it is real.

And isn’t that the nature of true opportunity? It is surprising and opens up new vistas for us. But there doesn’t just have to be just one, and even if that one looks like a dream you’ve always had—like publishing a book with a New York publisher—maybe there’s a different dream, a better dream, in front of you, as well.

Tommy Black faces this in my novel Tommy Black and the Staff of Light. Tommy is a boy who has the most amazing opportunity—to embrace a legacy of magical power while going on thrilling adventures.  But along the way he finds out that there is another opportunity for him, an opportunity to do the right thing and help others. It’s a decision we all face in some form or fashion as we grow up.

Actually, it’s the kind of decision we face all the time in our lives. Little opportunities, the kind that filled our imagination when we were children, are all around us. And a little opportunity may turn out to be more important to us than a big one, whether it is facing a legacy or deciding whether to publish your own books.

After fifteen years as a music industry journalist Jake Kerr's first published story, "The Old Equations," was nominated for the Nebula Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America and was shortlisted for the Theodore Sturgeon and StorySouth Million Writers awards. His stories have subsequently been published in magazines across the world, broadcast in multiple podcasts, and been published in multiple anthologies and year's best collections.

A graduate of Kenyon College, Kerr studied fiction under Ursula K. Le Guin and Peruvian playwright Alonso Alegria. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife and three daughters.

Win a copy of 
Tommy Black and the Staff of Light!
Jake has generously offered up two copies (one paperback and one ebook) of his fun book for two winners.
-ends 11/23
-there will be two winners:
  1 winner will get the paperback (US/CAN only)
1 winner will get the ebook in any format of their choice (open INT)
-must be 13+ to enter
-winners will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is NOT responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen items in the mail
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cupcake Update! what's happening round here for the rest of the year!


So, you splendiferous people may have noticed I haven't been posting as much lately :(

 I'm sorry for sucking these last few months! My job and family have kept me wonderfully busy, but I want you to know that I haven't forgotten this blog *smooshes blog in hugs*

Things will be slowing down more here at Word Spelunking for the rest of 2014, but I'm NOT going anywhere! I still have a few fun blog tours, awesome interviews, cool giveaways, and reviews planned throughout November and December, but if I go MIA for a few days or weeks at a time, don't worry.  And come the first of 2015, I plan on getting back to regular posting and planning the 4th Annual March MG Madness!

So, just bear *heehee, see what I did there?* with me and I hope you loverly readers still enjoy Word Spelunking!

(can you feel me hugging you?)

And now, I'll leave you with an adorable picture of my niece, who has kept me busy in the most amazing, fun ways....

Aeicha Elizabeth, 17 months old

Friday, November 7, 2014

Interview: Martin Widmark, author of the Whodunit Detective Agency Series

I'm so honored to have internationally bestselling children's author Martin Widmark here today to chat about his super fun Whodunit Detective Agency series. These awesome books are perfect for the mystery loving little readers in your life...

The Whodunit Detective Agency, which has sold over 1.6 million copies in Sweden and 2.5 million worldwide, has been translated into almost 30 languages, been adapted for TV and film, and is currently the subject of a year-long exhibition at Junibacken, an interactive museum in Stockholm celebrating Swedish children’s literature. The series follows best friends Jerry and Maya, who, in their spare time, run a detective agency in their small town, and are frequently called upon by the town’s police chief to save the day.

The Diamond Mystery
(The Whodunit Detective Agency #1)
by Martin Widmark
Grosset & Dunlap

Somebody is stealing diamonds from the jeweler Mohammed Carat! It looks like the culprit is someone on his staff, but who? Is it Luke Smith, the recently hired fitness fanatic with a taste for the finer things in life? It surely can’t be Vivian Leander, the loyal shop assistant who is now short of money . . . The police in the little town of Valleby are stuck, so they contact young detectives Jerry and Maya, classmates who run their own detective agency. Will Jerry and Maya be able to use their detective skills to find the thief? As they well know, even a tiny clue is worth its weight in gold.

The Hotel Mystery
(The Whodunit Detective Agency #2)
by Martin Widmark
Grosset & Dunlap

It is Christmas Eve, and the grand Braeburn family has come to stay in the luxury suite of Valleby’s hotel. With them, they have brought their extremely valuable dog. The hotel manager promises the family that he’ll take great care of their dog—but before they know it, the dog has gone missing without a trace! Jerry and Maya, the local young detectives, are brought in to help sniff out the missing hound. All the evidence suggests that one of the hotel staff had a hand in the case, but who could it be?

What three words best describe your series, The Whodunit Detective Agency?
Humorous, engaging, accessible.
Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give The Whodunit Detective Agency a try?
The books are easy to read, but not so easy to solve!

Grab a copy of the first book in this series, The Diamond Mystery, and answer the following:
favorite chapter?
Chapter 8: In which we may follow how the detective brains of Jerry and Maya have worked.

favorite page?
66-67: In which we can see how Helena Willis, the illustrator, summarizes the crime committed in one spread.

favorite setting?
At Mr. Carat´s office where there are pools of tears on the floor.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
“Don’t you have something else to do besides snoop on me?” (p.43)

Can you tell us a bit about your characters Maya and Jerry? What makes them special?
They are normal kids, good friends, but have a passionate interest of solving crimes. They see the adult world like I saw it when I was a child, a light-crazy, exaggerated version.

How do you come up with the mysteries for Maya and Jerry to solve? Are they completely made up or are any of the mysteries based on fact?
I look upon all places as possible crime scenes. Most of my books are influenced by “reality,” but my own version of it. For instance, I came up with the idea of how to steal the jewels in The Diamond Mystery when I was working on my summer house.

Jerry and Maya have solved many mysteries throughout The Whodunit Detective you have an absolute favorite?
The Circus. The motive for the crime is moving, I would say.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at Being curious
I’m really embarrassed to admit That I am not always listening when people speak.
The last great book I read was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Where is his Nobel Prize??

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Whodunit Detective Agency, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
It would look like a normal cup cake, but taste like a meatball – and the mystery would be called “The Animal Rights Mystery.”

Thank you so much for stopping by, Martin!

Martin Widmark was born 1961 and lives in Stockholm with his family. He worked as a middle school teacher and as a teacher of Swedish to immigrants - and he has written several textbooks - but is now a full time author of children´s books. He is fascinated by oddities and everything that is different; food, music, languages and people. Widmark is considered one of the giants of current children’s fiction. Martin Widmark´s Nelly Rapp and Lasse Maja series are always on the best seller lists and have also received a lot of lavish praise.