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  1. If you're looking for a last minute Christmas present for a child then 'The Unstoppable Maggie McGee' written by Juliet Clare Bell and illustrated by Dave Gray, sounds just perfect. And you'll be helping sick children at the same times as the whole £6 cover price of the book goes to the Birmingham Children's Hospital.

     

    cover maggie

     

    About the book

    The Unstoppable Maggie McGee (illustrated by Dave Gray), is a story of friendship, determination and the power of imagination. Clare spent time with many patients in Birmingham Children’s Hospital and at a local school, before writing the book. In honour of the children in hospital who did not want to talk about their sickness or disability whilst strapped up to life-saving machines whilst they talked, and all children who wish to be children, there is no mention of sickness, disability or anything medical in the story.

    Malorie Blackman, Children’s Laureate, 2013-2015, said of the book:

    “… I love this story! It’s beautifully told and I love the way it shows the power of the imagination to take you wherever you want to go….a great story and has something to say to all children…”

    To buy the book (with all £6 of each book going to the hospital), visit www.unstoppablemaggie.co.uk

     

    Meet the Author

     

     

    clare shot for jess

    Juliet Clare Bell is always called Clare: the Juliet is silent, like the G in Gnomeo and Juliet (after which she was named by her Shakespeare-loving parents).  She loves writing and chocolate and the Quaker philosophy which meant that her next picture book, Two Brothers and A Chocolate Factory: the Remarkable Story of Richard and George Cadbury (illustrated by Jess Mikhail), out in March, 2016, was a dream commission. She spent months poring over incredible Cadbury archives in Bournville and eating extremely tasty chocolate from the factory. Her latest picture book, The Unstoppable Maggie McGee (illustrated by fellow SCBWIer, Dave Gray), has raised over £37,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital, through sales in its first six weeks, with all £6 of the cover price going to charity.

    Don’t Panic, Annika! (illustrated by Jennifer E Morris) has been read on CBeebies and shown repeatedly, and The Kite Princess (illustrated by Laura-Kate Chapman) was endorsed by Amnesty International, UK. Both books were shortlisted for the Crystal Kite (Europe).

     About Juliet Clare

    I asked Juliet Clare to tell us a bit more about herself:

    Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they?

    On Christmas morning, we always eat halloumi with lots of lemon and then drink fizzy wine to toast my sister’s birthday, as she was born on Christmas Day (our best ever Christmas present).

    And we always have a Terry’s Chocolate orange and a satsuma in our stockings. Anything else is optional (there was always a stick of cinnamon in there when we were growing up, too. I’m not sure anyone ever ate them, and they seem to have disappeared in recent years).

    Growing up, we always had a new Christmas board game for the whole family, which was great (I love board games). But Monopoly has been banned at Christmas for the last ten years or so after an unmentionable game with adults who should have known better. I suspect that is the case in many families…

    When do you open your Christmas presents?

    We alternate Christmases. This year, we’re going to my children’s dad’s family and I think that they open their presents in the morning which still seems strange to me. When we’re with my side of the family, it’s always after dinner.

    When I was growing up, we’d have our stockings in the morning and then our presents (from under the tree) after Christmas dinner, so we were basically bursting with excitement all day. I’ve got five brothers and sisters and we opened the presents one by one to see what everyone had got, so it took a long time. It was brilliant, but it kind of got later and later as Christmas dinner got later. Once, it wasn’t until about 6pm and my dad suggested we open them the following day…? He was rightly and swiftly voted down!

    If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be?

    If it could be an unpublished author, it would be my mum, who was a fellow SCBWIer. She died nearly three years ago and I think we all feel it very keenly at Christmas.

    If it were a published author, it might have to be Dr Seuss as he’d add to the general silliness of things, or better still, Candy Gourlay (author of Tall Story and Shine), who is fairy godmother to my youngest and who would certainly add to the general silliness and happiness of the day.

    What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking?

    If I didn’t already know I was getting it, it would be the picture book, Refuge, by Anne Booth and Sam Usher. But since it would be greedy to ask for two copies of it, I’ll go for We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielson. My daughter got it for her birthday last week and won’t let me read it till she has (and the first few pages looked great).

    You can find out more about Juliet Clare here:

    www.julietclarebell.com

    www.picturebookden.blogspot.co.uk 

     www.unstoppablemaggie.co.uk

     

    It's been lovely talking to you, Juliet Clare. Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book. Merry Christmas!

  2. I'm delighted to welcome author and creative writing tutor, Jacqueline Seewald on my blog today. She's dropped by to tell us about her writing, and her new YA novel, Stacy's Song.

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     Author Bio

    Multiple award-winning author, Jacqueline Seewald, has taught creative, expository and technical writing at RutgersUniversity as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Fifteen of her books of fiction have been published to critical praise including books for adults, teens and children. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies such as: THE WRITER, L.A. TIMES, PEDESTAL, SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE, OVER MY DEAD BODY!, THE MYSTERY MEGAPACK, LIBRARY JOURNAL, and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. One of her poems recently took first place in the Reader’s Digest 2015 Poetry Contest. She’s also an amateur landscape artist.

    About Jacqueline

    I asked Jacqueline to tell us a bit more about herself:

    Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they? 

    Our main holiday tradition is to get together with our children and grandchildren, share a holiday meal, and give them gifts. It’s a fun time for our family.
     If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be? 
     For me, it would be Jane Austen. I’d love to discuss her novels with her. I’ve read and reread PRIDE AND PREJUDICE many times. It’s my favorite of her novels. But all are an inspiration.
    What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking? 
    A large print edition of The Bible.

     

    You can find out more about Jacqueline and her work here:

    Author Links

      Writer’s Blog 

      Facebook

      Amazon Author Page

      As well as Twitter and Goodreads

     

    Stacy's Song

     

     

    stacys song

     

    STACY’S SONG,  now available in a brand new ebook edition from Clean Reads Press, is  Jacqueline's second YA novel for this publisher, the first being THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER which has developed a good readership and is both a romance and an allegory. It’s available in ALL ebook formats as well as paperback.

     Blurb

    STACY’S SONG is a perfect YA romance/coming-of-age novel for the holidays. The novel has family values and ends at Christmas. It also has a nice upbeat, inspiring message: be true to yourself. Jacqueline hopes that family and friends will gift this novel to teens.

    Excerpt 

     I followed Liz up the porch steps with a decided lack of enthusiasm.

    “Come on in,” she urged, noticing me hesitate at the door.

    The foyer oozed darkness; the living room was equally gloomy, even after Liz pulled back the curtains. As my eyes adjusted, I was startled to see a boy sitting in the corner hunched over a piano. Liz saw him too.

    “Michael, I didn’t know you were there. Stacy, I’d like to introduce you to my brother. He’s the composer in the family. Michael, like you Stacy is very talented.”

    He didn’t respond. In fact, he didn’t even look up or acknowledge my presence in the room. There was something about him that made me feel uneasy. I could see him much better now that my eyes were adjusting to the dusky room. I figured him for around seventeen, with straight, sand-colored hair long on the sides. He looked fairly tall, though I couldn’t tell because he didn’t bother to stand up. He wore dark glasses that I found particularly odd since the room was ill lit.

    “What do you play?” he asked in a voice that could have frozen a lake. “I’ll need to hear what you can do. What did you bring with you?”

    “I didn’t expect an audition,” I responded with equal frost.

    “Yeah, well, Liz thinks you’re all right, but I’d like to decide that for myself.”

    Liz seemed to sense the tenseness in the atmosphere and jumped in. “Why don’t you sit down and relax, get to know each other better, and I’ll go fix us a snack.” Coward! She didn’t even bother to wait for a response, instead hurrying off to the kitchen and leaving an uncomfortable silence in the room.

    Michael didn’t look at me. He seemed to be busy composing, but I had a feeling that was bogus.

    “Do you go to Wilson High?” I asked him.

    An odd smile crossed his lips. “No, I’m too special for that.” There was a hint of sarcasm in his tone, as if his words had some personal or private meaning.

    Not easily daunted, I tried again. If you can’t discuss anything else, usually the weather’s a safe topic. “It’s turned beautiful, don’t you think? This must be the sunniest day we’ve had in months.”

    “I wouldn’t know,” he said in a voice I can only describe as hostile.

    “Wouldn’t know or don’t care?” I was sorry I said it even as I spoke; usually I’m polite, but this boy just seemed to bring out the worst in me. I hated the way he wouldn’t even look in my direction. I guess he thought those dark glasses made him look cool. I felt a sudden urge to yank off his glasses and break them. “Look, maybe I just ought to go,” I said.

    He rose to his feet with an awkward, unsteady movement. “Wait! I want you to try out some of our music. You can use Liz’s guitar.”

    “I don’t know…” I said.

    “What have you got to lose?”

    I looked around and saw an electric guitar against the opposite wall. “I have to warn you I’m used to an acoustic not an electric.”

    “It’s no big deal making the switch for a real musician. If you’re any good I can show you in minutes.” He seemed to be daring me, taunting.

    “All right,” I said picking up the guitar.

    As he started across the room I pushed the coffee table forward to allow more foot space. Before I could say anything Michael Norris walked into the table losing his balance. I put out my hand to steady him; he almost fell on top of me. My heart started to pound like a runner racing toward the finish line. I withdrew from him striving to regain my composure. I put down the guitar.

    “Sorry,” he said, “I’m not usually this clumsy.”

    Why had he walked into the table? Anyone could have seen it. Then a thought hit me. Of course! Why was I so naïve, so dense?

     

    Want to buy it for a teen in your family?

    Buy Links

    Amazon 

    Barnes & Noble   

    Kobo   

    Smashwords  

    Thanks for dropping, Jacqueline. Merry Christmas!

  3. The final book for my 'Twelve Books for Christmas' is a very festive one, a zany picture book called The Santa Trap written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene.

     

    santatrappb

     

    Blurb

    Bradley Bartleby is bad – so bad that he plans to trap Santa Claus and ruin Christmas.

    With a house full of dynamite, guillotines and trap doors and a garden full of hungry tigers, what could possibly go wrong?

    Here's a couple of sample spreads:

    seasonsspread

     

    fireplacespread

     Sounds fun, doesn't it? You can buy it here:

    Amazon 

    Hive

    Meet Jonathan

    jonathaemmett2

    About Jonathan

    Jonathan Emmett worked as an architect, before pursuing a career in children’s books. As well as writing picture books such as Bringing Down the MoonSomeone Bigger and The Princess and the Pig, Jonathan also writes and paper-engineers pop-up books. His books have won several awards including the Red House Children’s Book Award for Pigs Might Fly and the Sheffield Children’s Book Award for The Pig’s Knickers.

    I asked Jonathan to tell us a bit about himself:

    Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they?

    Christmas day in the Emmett household always begins with a treasure hunt. It started when the kids were little and has since become a family tradition. Every Christmas morning the family come downstairs to find all of the presents have been taken from under the Christmas tree and moved into a locked "Treasure Room" at the back of the house. This is the work of the Puzzle Elf, one of Santa's lesser known little helpers. The family have to answer a series of multiple choice questions, the correct answers to which give the location of a grid square on a map of the house where the next clue can be found. The final question gives the location of the key to the treasure room. For some reason the Puzzle Elf never sets me any questions — I assume it’s because she thinks I’m either far too clever or far too stupid. The hunt usually takes about an hour to complete. If you fancy doing something similar, you can find more details in this blog post: http://scribblestreetnews.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/christmas-is-coming-and-so-is-puzzle.html

     When do you open your Christmas presents?

    After the treasure hunt has been completed - usually around 10 am. My wife’s family open their presents after lunch, but the kids and I are incapable of such self-restraint.

     If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be?

    It would have to be Charles Dickens. He’s sometimes credited with inventing Christmas (although he obviously didn’t invent the story about the bloke with the beard and sandals). I’ve read all of Dickens’s novels, so I’m a bit of a fanboy. According to many biographers he was quite a flawed person, but he was a brilliant author and I think he’d make a perfect Christmas guest. 

     What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking?

    I have been dropping hints about Philip Reeve’s Railhead. I’m a huge fan of his Mortal Engines books so it’s good to see him returning to Science Fiction.

     Find out more about Jonathan here:

    You can find more about me and my books at scribblestreet.co.uk

    Read my latest news on my blog at scribblestreetnews.blogspot.co.uk

    Follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JonathanEmmettAuthor

    Or on Twitter at @scribblestreet

     Thanks for dropping by, Jonathan. Merry Christmas!

     

  4. AS QUIET AS A MOUSE, a gorgeous picture book by Karen Owen, is the eleventh book for Christmas. 

     

    aqaam cover copy

     

    Blurb

    Edgar keeps waking up his new baby sister but he can’t help being noisy. 

    Luckily, his friend Ruby has an idea! Can Edgar learn to be as quiet as a mouse? 

     

     

    This book is a real treat for noisy children with young siblings.

    Buy links

    Available from Amazon

    The Guardian book club.

     

    Meet Karen

    k and books

     

    About Karen

    Karen fell in love with books and stories and the written word at a young age. She was the slowest paper girl in the village because she read the newspapers before delivering them, and books were first in the suitcase when she packed for holidays.  She spent 15 years as a regional and national journalist before turning to teaching reluctant learners and writing short adult stories and picture books and middle-grade fiction. Her latest book, As Quiet As A Mouse, has just been published to positive reviews, and a previous title, I Could Be, You Could Be, was chosen as one of the Reading Challenge titles in UK libraries. She belongs to CWISL, a group of published children’s authors and illustrators based in South London which aims to boost enjoyment of reading within the local community. Her voluntary work includes editing a website showcasing children’s writing and art (www.shoutaboutmagazine.com). 

     I asked Karen to tell us a bit about herself

    Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they?

    On Christmas Eve I light candles  in my fireplace and remember people who are special to me but no longer with us – especially my mum and my nan.  There’s something about watching the flames of the candle flicker and dance that I find comforting and uplifting.

    I love hunting for fun and quirky gifts for my children’s stockings and on Christmas Day the stockings are the thing my children are most excited about.  They’re 15 and 13 now but I think I’ll still be doing stockings for them when they’re in their 30s!

     When do you open your Christmas presents?

    Stockings are opened on Christmas morning.  This Christmas, for the first time in a decade, my brother and sister-in-law are joining us so we’ll wait until after lunch before presents (if we can all be patient enough!).

    If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be?

    Enid Blyton. The first book I remember reading was The Enchanted Wood, the first of her series of adventures in the Magic Faraway Tree.  My inner child is still convinced that such a place exists and that one day I’ll meet Moon Face et al!  Enid Blyton woke my love for reading and stories.

    What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking?

    I’m researching the 1300s at the moment for a middle-grade manuscript so A Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer would be good. My dream present would be a Supermarket Sweep equivalent in a book shop!  

    Find out more about Karen here:

    Website: www.karenowen.co.uk

    Twitter handle: @AuthorKarenOwen 

    Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, Karen. Merry Christmas!

  5. Uma and Imp by Larisa Villar Hauser is the book for Day 10. A fantasy adventure featuring a young orphan girl and her invisible imp friend for boys and girls aged 9 and over.

     

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    Blurb

    Seven years after her parents’ mysterious death, Uma is no closer to the truth.

    Why did Mum and Dad go to Peru? And what were they looking for?

    When two crooks start asking questions, Uma sees her chance. But El Jefe is dangerous – and Uma is in over her head.

    So can Uma find out what happened to Mum and Dad? And will her friend, an invisible Imp with attitude, be anything more than Trouble?

    Desperate for answers, Uma risks everything … and uncovers a secret of her own.

     

    Sounds exciting doesn't it? Larisa is offering three copies of UMA & IMP in a Christmas Lucky Draw! Just go to the Contact page on www.impprintbooks.com and send a message with “CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY” in the Subject heading

    Or you can buy a copy here:

    Buy Links

    Go to www.impprintbooks.com to order a signed copy of UMA & IMP, or purchase via Amazon.

     

    Meet Larisa

     

    photo-5 - version 2

    About Larisa

    Larisa Villar Hauser writes books for children. Her first published work, UMA & IMP, was released in 2014.

    Larisa lives in London and has spent stretches of time in New York, Austria and Brazil, where she expanded her horizons and her overdraft.

    Although Larisa always wanted to write, she was in her thirties before she started work on her first book - an unpublished crime fiction novel that now acts as a draught excluder.

    It took Larisa over seven years to complete UMA & IMP - she is confident that her next book will be completed in at least double that time.

    I asked Larisa to tell us a bit about herself

    Do you have any favourite family Christmas traditions? If so, what are they?

    For me, a big part of Christmas is The Candles. Not that I have pyro tendencies but there is something about cold, dark nights and shadowy candle-lit rooms.

    As a child, the best thing about Christmas was coming downstairs to a tree decked with flickering candles. The heat brings out the incredible smell of pine, and candles are much more alive and vibrant than electric tree lights. Of course, nobody would take the risk these days – and very sensibly! A couple of weeks ago I was reading the Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson. She describes the three different precautions the adults in the story take in case the Christmas tree catches light! I do miss it, but now I stick to an assortment of tea lights and scented candles dotted round the room out of harm’s way. It’s still magical.

    When do you open your Christmas presents?

    I grew up in an Austrian/Spanish household, so to me Christmas is all about Christmas Eve. A big, festive meal with cheeses, cold cuts, pickles of all kinds, freshly baked bread followed by Spanish desserts like turrón (a sort of nougat) and polvorones (powdery almond cakes). All this led up to a post-supper walk in the cold and coming home to presents under the tree. I still like my presents on Christmas Eve.

    If you could invite any author living or dead to share your Christmas lunch, who would it be?

    For me, it would have to be George Eliot. Not only is Middlemarch my most favouritest novel ever but I think it would be just amazing to sit down with Mary Ann Evans and speak to a pioneer female author about her life as a woman and as a writer.

    What book would you like to find in your Christmas stocking?

    Christmas is a nostalgic, hunkering down kind of time so I would like the leather-bound Complete Sherlock Holmes. Then it would be candlelight and a glass of something warming to snuggle up and revisit those brilliant creepy classics. Maybe I would even pick up a few tips on how to write suspense!

    You can find out more about Larisa here:

    Website: www.impprintbooks.com

    Book Facebook Page: umaimp

    Twitter @Uma_Imp

     Goodreads

     

     Thanks for dropping by, Larisa. Marry Christmas!