Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Announcing the lucky winner of NOT ON FIFTH STREET by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

Dear Readers,

Thanks so much to all of you who stopped by this past week and a special thanks to all of you who left a comment for Kathy about her post. The lucky winner of her newest title is announced at the end, but first please take a look at all of Kathy’s wonderful titles:

Not On Fifth Street by Kathy Cannon Wiechman. Calkins Creek Press.
It’s 1937, and a storm is brewing over the town of Ironton, Ohio. Teens Pete and Gus Brinkmeyer struggle with growing differences in their relationship. When rain begins to fall, the Ohio River rises, and so does the tension between the brothers. No one anticipates the rain will last nearly two weeks and the river will reach record levels. With a flooded river between them, both boys need to dig deep within themselves to ensure survival for themselves and those they care about. They must also face trying to restore their relationship.

Wiechman deftly tells the story of the two protagonists' struggle to survive...Short chapters filled with suspense will keep readerswondering what will happen next. An excellent choice for fans of historical fiction. ~School Library Journal

EMPTY PLACES by Kathy Cannon Wiechman. (Calkins Creek)

"This is another fine work of historical fiction by the author of Like a River: A Civil War Novel (Calkins Creek, 2015). Set in Kentucky during the Great Depression, this book is written from the viewpoint of 13-year-old Adabel….Dramatic moments, such as when Adabel’s younger sister Blissie reaches into a fire to retrieve a treasured doll, will have readers on the edge of their seats. Written in dialect appropriate to the time period and geographical region, the story is told through short chapters with believable dialogue and unforgettable characters…. Wiechman offers a moving look at life during the Depression, family relationships, and coal mining." —School Library Journal

Like a River by Kathy Cannon Wiechman. (Calkins Creek)

“Wiechman's abundant research is unobtrusively folded into the tale. An excellent author's note provides further information about the times. Though the horrors of Andersonville and various Civil War-era events such as the Battle of Atlanta, Lincoln's assassination and the explosion of the steamboat Sultana provide wartime context, it's the secrets woven into the well-paced tale that will pull readers eagerly to the tearful conclusion. A superb Civil War tale of friendship, loyalty and what it means to be a man.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Learn more about Kathy and her books: http://kathycannonwiechman.com
Follow her on Twitter: @KathyCWiechman 
Connect on FaceBook: Kathy Cannon Wiechman

The lucky winner of Not on Fifth Street is: Donna Volkenannt (Donna, please send an email with your mailing address to: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com.) 

Thank you again, Kathy, for sharing with us. I’m sure you’ve got something new in the works. Keep us posted.

Dear Readers, Stay tuned for a great fall line up of fabulous new picture books beginning in October with Miranda Paul, K.L. Going, and Kara Lareau. 

See you in October. . .

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

MG Historical Fiction with Author Kathy Cannon Wiechman + Giveaway

Dear Readers,

Our long-time friend, Kathy Cannon Wiechman, shares an inside view of her new novel, Not On Fifth Street, to be released on October 10th. I’m pleased to announce that Kathy is donating an autographed copy of her book before publication! How cool is that? As always, all you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment for Kathy to congratulate her or to share about a flood experience of your own. We’d love to hear from you!

The lucky winner of JOE AND SPARKY, PARTY ANIMALS is announced by two special guests at the end of the post! Did you win? Find out below.

And now, please welcome, our featured author, Kathy Cannon Wiechman!

Not On Fifth Street by Kathy Cannon Wiechman. Calkins Creek Press.
It’s 1937, and a storm is brewing over the town of Ironton, Ohio. Teens Pete and Gus Brinkmeyer struggle with growing differences in their relationship. When rain begins to fall, the Ohio River rises, and so does the tension between the brothers. No one anticipates the rain will last nearly two weeks and the river will reach record levels. With a flooded river between them, both boys need to dig deep within themselves to ensure survival for themselves and those they care about. They must also face trying to restore their relationship.
Wiechman deftly tells the story of the two protagonists' struggle to survive...Short chapters filled with suspense will keep readers wondering what will happen next. An excellent choice for fans of historical fiction. ~School Library Journal

Writing From the Inside Out. . . by Kathy Wiechman

I have always loved Clara’s theme of Writing from the Inside Out because it’s the only way I know to write. Before I put down the first word, I have to get inside the story I want to tell. I create the characters to tell it through, and get inside them. Not on Fifth Street was no different. What was different was I told a family story, but with fictional characters. It created new challenges. 

My father grew up on Fifth Street in Ironton, Ohio, and he used to tell me about the 1937 flood that devastated his town. That flood also hit Cincinnati, where I live, and locals recount their own stories. The flood was a record breaker and did damage in 13 states. It took 385 lives. But back in Ironton, Dad was listed as missing when the water rose. (Imagine what his parents went through!) But Dad was twenty years old at the time, and I needed younger characters for my story. Dad was the oldest of his parents’ eight children, and I needed a smaller cast of characters. I decided to have two main characters, brothers Pete and Gus. Pete is very much like my father, and he was difficult for me to write. I had to keep reminding myself, “This is Pete, not Dad.” And I chose Gus for the brother who was missing. I kept the setting of Ironton, and I located the story in that house on Fifth Street. I spent a lot of time there as a child and know it so well. But making a reader see what is clear to me isn’t always easy.

Street view of 1937 Flood in Ironton
My father is gone more than twenty years now, but one of his sisters is still living. She was 14 at the time of the 1937 flood, and her memory is spectacular. She filled in the gaps on family details, while archival accounts from other perspectives helped me to shape the story. While my story is fiction, I seemed to feel Dad looking over my shoulder as I wrote. I hope he would have been pleased with the finished product.

Author Kathy Cannon Wiechman
Kathy taught Creative Writing and Beginner French,and was a Language Arts tutor, but her passion has always been writing. She kept trying for a published novel, even though it took decades. Her first published novel, Like a River (2015) exceeded her dreams when it won the Grateful American Book Prize, was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a finalist for several other awards. She followed it with Empty Places (2016), which also was a finalist for the Ohioana Book Award. Not on Fifth Street is her third novel. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband.

To learn more about Kathy and her books: http://kathycannonwiechman.com
Follow her on Twitter: @KathyCWiechman
Connect on FaceBook: Kathy Cannon Wiechman

Thank you, Kathy, for sharing an inside look at the inspiration for Not On Fifth Street. 


Joining us now to announce the winner of JOE AND SPARKY, PARTY ANIMALS are two superstars: The Author’s very own Assistant One and Assistant two. So, boys, who is the lucky winner, of the fabulous new adventure of Joe and Sparky by Jamie Michalak?

Superstar Assistants 1 and 2
Hmm. . . they’re busy getting ready for school, but they asked me to tell you that the LUCKY winner is: Patricia Crisman!!  ****CONGRATULATIONS**** 
Please email me your mailing address: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com

Thanks again, dear book lovers, for coming to the party! And please don’t forget to leave a comment this week for Kathy Cannon Wiechman about her new MG Historical novel, Not on Fifth Street. 

Thanks for your patience if I'm a wee bit delayed posting your comments. As always, your support of authors and good books is greatly appreciated. 


Tuesday, August 29, 2017


Dear Readers,

Welcome back to the Back-to-School Book series! I’m so excited to share a NEW early reader by our good friend, Jamie Michalak and the lovable duo, Joe and Sparky. And also exciting that Jamie is giving away a hot off the press copy of Joe and Sparky, Party Animals. That’s right, it’s a book about a Birthday Party and it’s a Book Birthday! All you have to do for a chance to win the autographed copy is to leave a comment for Jamie and her assistants. Or maybe you’d like to share a favorite birthday memory with us of when something went awry! (The winner of A Dash of Dragon is announced at the end of the post.)


It all began with two little boys on a winter night. My sons crawled into my bed for a story. But they were in a silly mood. I’d only read a few pages before they began cracking jokes and laughing.

“OK, time to for bed,” I said, shutting the book.

“Wait, wait, wait!” said the youngest, stalling. “I have a great idea. You should write a new Joe and Sparky story.”

“Yeah,” said the oldest. “Call it Joe and Sparky, Party Animals!”

Hmm, I thought, my wheels turning

Text copyright 2017 by Jamie Michalak.
Illustrations copyright 2017 by Frank Remkiewicz.
And so together, giggling under the covers, my assistants and I plotted out a story about Joe Giraffe and Sparky Turtle throwing a surprise party for Joe’s pet worm, Wiggy. Wiggy is mentioned in the previous three Joe and Sparky stories, but he never appears. Is Wiggy real or imaginary? Now would be my chance to find out!

This was a few years ago. Now Joe and Sparky, Party Animals! is a real-live book!

Last night, a little past his bedtime, my youngest—let’s call him Assistant 2--grabbed his karaoke mic and interviewed me about the book for Clara’s blog. . . .

Q:  Hold on, Mom. Should I put on my suit and tie first? 

A: I don’t think that’s necessary. Plus, you have to go to bed soon.

Q: I better make this a long interview then. My favorite part of Joe and Sparky, Party Animals! is when a frog brings a balloon to the party, and Joe and Sparky think the balloon is a guest and talk to it. Who came up with that great idea?

A: You know it was you and your brother.

Q: But mostly me, right? Your smartest and most awesomest son? (bats eyelashes) 

A: Ha ha. You guys thought it would be funny if Joe and Sparky met a smiley faced balloon for the first time and mistook it for a party guest. I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say that balloon ends up being the life of the party.

Q: Until he dances with a porcupine and—

A: Shh! 

Q: How long did it take you to write Joe and Sparky, Party Animals?

A: About six months. 

Q: (whispers) No, that’s too short. You’re supposed to say five years! That sounds more impressive.

A: OK, five years. 

Q: FIVE YEARS!?! That’s half my life!

A: No, it really didn’t take too long. I wrote the story right away so I wouldn’t forget anything. Sometimes I’ll have what I think is a good idea, but then wait too long to write the story and my idea disappears like the drawings you make on the bathroom mirror after you shower. I had to strike while the iron is hot! 

Q: I don’t know what ironing has to do with anything, but okay … Knock, knock. 

A: Who’s there?
Q: Anita.

A: Anita who?

Q: Anita another Joe and Sparky book by Jamie Michalak! 

A: You’re cute.

Q: Does that mean I can stay up later?

A: Sorry, buddy. Time for bed. Thank you for your questions!

Q: Last question: who are you wearing?

A: (laughs) Go to bed.

Q: Wait, wait, wait! 

A: Yes?

Q: Want to write a new story together? I have a great idea . . .

From JOE AND SPARKY, PARTY ANIMALS! Illustrations copyright 2017 by Frank Remkiewicz. Published by Candlewick Press.

Jamie Michalak is the author of more than forty children’s books, including the highly praised Joe and Sparky early reader series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz, and the forthcoming early reader FRANK AND BEAN (Candlewick Press, 2019), illustrated by Bob Kolar. When not writing, she can be found singing off-key, drinking too much coffee, or hanging out with her sons, who give her lots of ideas for stories. Jamie lives in Barrington, RI. To learn more, visit www.jamiemichalak.com.

Assistant 1 and 2 are short, noisy people who enjoy making movies, eating tacos, and staying up too late.

Frank Remkiewicz is an award-winning illustrator of more than 100 children’s books, including the popular Froggy series by Jonathan London. Prior to his career in publishing, he created art for posters and greeting cards. Frank lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida with his wife, Sylvia Nissley. To learn more about his books, visit remkiewicz.com.


Candlewick Press, August 2017
ISBN 978-07636-8206-4

A Junior Library Guild Selection

“Share this gentle story of fantasy, patience, and tolerance with new readers learning how to be true friends.” —Kirkus Reviews

The endearingly mismatched duo has their hands full when a party for a friend goes comically awry. Joe Giraffe decides to throw a party for his pet worm, Wiggy. There’s just one problem: Sparky Turtle is not entirely sure if Wiggy even exists!  What will happen when every animal in the zoo shows up to Wiggy’s party with presents and cake? Worm or no worm, this silly, satisfying tale is sure to leave new readers smiling!

Thank you, dear readers for joining this exciting Happy Birthday Celebration! For more about Jamie and her lovable duo, Joe and Sparky, check out her website: www.jamiemichalak.com 

The winner of JOE AND SPARKY, PARTY ANIMALS! will be announced next week, when our long-time friend, Kathy Cannon Wiechman will share about her soon to be released MG historical novel, Not on Fifth Street. 

The winner of the comment contest for A Dash of Dragons is: Linda Snyder Koons Congratulations, Linda! Please e-mail me your mailing address and to whom you’d like the book personalized: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com 

As always, dear readers, I am deeply grateful for your support of authors and good books! 
Thanks so much for stopping by!


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Heidi Lang & Kati Bartowski--Sister duo and debut Co-Authors - Interview + Book Giveaway

Dear Friends,

Summer seems to be flying away with the songbirds, and that means it’s time to get ready for school. And back-to-school time is especially exciting here for learning about new books for your favorite young readers. You’ll also get introduced to new authors and hear from some long time friends who’ve visited before. First up on our Back to School Celebration of Books is a special treat of a sister writing duo--just how do siblings manage to write together? Heidi and Kati will have their say, and then at the very end of the blog you’ll find out how to enter the giveaway for their debut novel, but also learn what’s percolating for future posts. But now, please welcome the sweet sister duo, Heidi Lang and Kati Bartowski!

Here’s a look at their debut novel just released in mid-July: A Dash Of Dragon
Published by Aladdin Books

The plot rockets along, the third-person narration peppered by agreeably colloquial dialogue. Mix a dash of humor with some action and adventure, throw in a couple of cute boys plus a gutsy heroine—this novel is a recipe for success—perfect for Top Chef fans with a penchant for the fantastical. Kirkus Reviews

This middle grade fantasy introduces an exciting world where engaging human and magical characters live together. The title tackles themes of abandonment, loneliness, risk-taking, trust, and friendship. Readers are likely to become wrapped up in Lailu’s story and anxious to know what her fate will be. School Library Journal

A wildly inventive fantasy with wide appeal. — Maggie Reagan (Booklist June 2017)

Cooking fans prepared for a different slant on magical creatures will find this a particularly entertaining outing, as there are lots of foodie references, but even fantasy buffs who have never heard of loin cuts or hot pots will likely find this a zingy, buoyant adventure where the happy ending is certain but the path to it is enjoyably twisty. The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski - our co-writing method.

Co-Authors Kati & Heidi

HEIDI: Heidi here, co-author of A DASH OF DRAGON. I’m a dog walker in Santa Cruz, so when I’m not writing I spend my days out on the trails with roving packs of dogs, and then all my spare time trying to get dog fur out of my clothes. 

KATI: I’m Heidi’s sister, also co-author of A DASH OF DRAGON, and instead of dog packs, I spend most of my time wrangling a high energy toddler. When she sleeps, I manage to get in some writing or drawing. 

HEIDI: When I tell people my sister and I wrote a book together, most people have one very big question: How did you co-write with your sister and not end up killing each other?

KATI: You know, I often wonder that same thing…

HEIDI: Oh, you’ve loved every minute of it, and you know it! ;)

KATI: Anyways…Heidi and I thought we’d share with you all our co-writing process. We didn’t initially set out to write a book together, so we cobbled together our method as we went along. 

HEIDI: Originally Kati was planning on writing two separate books: one about a girl who hunts and cooks mystical beasts, and the other about a fantasy world slowly being taken over by science, with the elven mafia fighting to keep control as a group of steampunk scientists gain more power and influence. I loved both of those ideas, but thought they would work best combined in the same book. Once I suggested that, Kati realized my brilliance and begged me to write it with her.

KATI: So, what actually happened is Heidi kept coming up with ideas and suggestions, and I could tell she was super excited about it, so finally I was like, “you know, maybe we should just write it together.”

HEIDI: And I jumped at that suggestion like a wild hyena.

KATI: That’s a strangely accurate description.

HEIDI: Thank you! ;) Kati and I had done quite a bit of writing on our own before this, and we always tossed story ideas at each other, so it was probably inevitable that we’d write something together eventually. And honestly, I really was super excited about this story. I still am, in fact. We are finishing up revisions on the sequel, and let me tell you, it gets even more epic. 

KATI: No spoilers! Moving on to the mechanics of how we actually co-write, Heidi and I have very different writing styles. I like to plot out everything—

HEIDI: She really does. Every little thing.

KATI: Whereas Heidi is a complete pantster, or someone who writes by the seat of her pants. Meaning I’ll spend all this time creating a detailed outline, just so Heidi can go in and ignore it.

HEIDI: I don’t ignore it. I simply…take it under advisement. ;) But the overall story arc is one that both Kati and I agreed on before we started, and even while we were working, we spent a lot of time talking about the characters and the story to make sure we were both moving in the same direction.

KATI: We would each take turns writing sections. I’d write something and then send it over to Heidi, who was free to revise my section before writing hers and passing it over to me, and repeat. We purposely didn’t set any strict page or chapter amounts on each section - we would each just write as much as we felt like writing before sending it on. 

HEIDI: It worked out nicely that way. There wasn’t pressure to force a certain amount, and it gave me the opportunity to do things like oh, say, invent a new character and end my section with his sudden arrival, and then sit back and see what Kati would do with it. 

KATI: True story. She invented a character who terrified all the other characters in the story, but didn’t tell me anything at all about who he was or why they were scared of him. Not cool. :(

HEIDI: Heh heh, probably my proudest moment. :) Earned me an angry phone call, and was the one time Kati forced me to add more to my section…but it was totally worth it. Also that character morphed into an integral part of our story, so yay for pantsing!

KATI: Anyhow. By the time we were done with a complete draft, we’d both revised each other’s sections enough that all our writing was mixed in together, which made it feel more like one voice. It also made it easier to cut and change things in the next round of revisions, because everything was a mix.

HEIDI: To get back to the first question, how we were able to write together without killing each other, I’d say the fact that we are sisters really helped. We could both be completely honest with each other about things we felt were working or weren’t, and even though there were some heated…discussions, ultimately we’ve been sisters a long time, and we both knew we didn’t have to worry about any disagreements ending our friendship. Sisters to the end!

KATI: Whose end is the question… ;)

HEIDI: Haha. Okay. Well. I’m going to slowly back away now…it’s been lovely chatting with all of you!

KATI: A DASH OF DRAGON is our debut MG fantasy, and we hope you have as much fun reading it as we had writing it! And if you want to follow us, you can find us on twitter at @hidlang and @ktbartkowski. We’ll be doing a special sisters-themed giveaway soon! Our website is www.HeidiandKatiwrite.com

Thank you, Kati and Heidi for sharing about your experience of sisters co-authoring a book! And thanks so much for donating an autographed copy of A Dash of Dragon for the comment contest. 

Readers, all you have to do for a chance to win A Dash of Dragon is leave a fun comment for the dynamic sister duo. If you’re new to the blog, please include your email in your comment. The winner will be selected through random.org and announced on Wednesday, August 23rd. Next up is a new post featuring a favorite dynamic duo--Joe and Sparky, Party Animals by our  good friend, Jamie Michalak. Coming soon is historical fiction with Kathy Cannon Wiechman.

Thank you, dear readers, for supporting authors and good books! We appreciate your comments. You’re the best ~Clara

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Winner of WAIT FOR ME by debut author Caroline Leech + Summer News

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for your outpouring of good wishes for Caroline Leech and her debut novel, WAIT FOR ME! Once again your support of authors and books shows how much the written word is valued. I'm so glad to have random.org to choose the winner, because it would be impossible for me to decide So. . .WHO is the Lucky winner of, WAIT FOR ME?

Carol, Please email me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and for whom you'd like the book personalized.

“Caroline Leech’s story shines a beautifully written light on the precarious nature of love and war and asks its readers to believe, even when the hero doesn’t, that love can prevail. This is a book that makes you want to curl up with a cuppa and read straight through till the morning.”
~Kathi Appelt, National Book Award Finalist and Newbery Honor Winner

“Wait for Me is a delicately written love story with a gorgeously evoked setting, an intrepid heroine, and a knee-weakening romance. This book is not to be missed.
~Anne Blankman, author of The Prisoner of Night and Fog series and Traitor Angel

   Photo credit:Priscilla Dickson Photography

Caroline Leech is a Scottish writer who moved to Texas for an adventure ten years ago. Caroline’s career in public relations with performing arts companies in the United Kingdom culminated with her editing a glossy photographic book, WELSH NATIONAL OPERA – THE FIRST SIXTY YEARS. Her debut novel for young adults, WAIT FOR ME, was published in the USA and UK by Harper Teen in early 2017. Set in Scotland towards the end of World War Two, the book tells the story of a girl’s friendship with a German prisoner of war who is sent to work on her father’s farm. Harper Teen will also publish Caroline's second YA novel in early 2018. Caroline lives in Houston TX with her husband and three teenage children, and she can be found online at www.carolineleech.com 

Learn more about Caroline or to follow her on Social media:

Thank you, Caroline, for giving the gift of your book and for sharing your writer's journey with us. 

The next featured guests are a writing duo for a midsummer Book Birthday and Book giveaway! Stay tuned for that and maybe one or two surprise posts throughout the summer. I have a slate of wonderful authors and giveaways lined up from late August right through Christmas!