Sunday, July 12, 2009

ALA Adventures and Free Book Giveaway!!!

Hello, friends. I'm having a magically fun adventure at the American Library Association Annual Conference in Chicago this week. I've strolled the conference floor for hours, picking up books an information and talking to people. I've met tons of cool librarians, fellow authors and book lovers galore.

I will post pics and tell my tales when I get back home (and I've got some good ones). At that point, I will need to exercise my fingers and rest my weary feet....

Also...the folks over at ColorOnline are doing a summer book giveaway, so pop over there to enter to win a copy of The Rock and the River, or one of several other awesome titles!!!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What A Girl Wants: Writing Multicultural Characters I just wrote a long post about why everyone should pop over to Chasing Ray and read the latest "What a Girl Wants" conversation....then Blogger ate it. Grrr.

So, more on the why later, but anyone with an interest in multicutural characters in YA literature should pop over HERE for a peek.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Review at Color Online

Susan at ColorOnline has posted a discussion of some of her favorite books of the year so far, including The Rock and the River! She gives it a nice review, too. Yay!

Susan also lists and reviews some other great titles, and she talks about why historical fiction is growing on her. See, there are plenty of excellent reasons why you should check it out HERE.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What a Girl Wants: Detective Stories

The next installment of Colleen Mondor's "What a Girl Wants" panel interview series is up at Chasing Ray. It's an awesome discussion! Today we're talking about the role of the girl detective in YA literature. Nancy Drew? Agatha Christie? Hermione Granger?

Pop over to the forum and weigh in with your own thoughts.

Missed our introductions? Meet the panelists, and our favorite books, here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Spicy Reads Review

An awesome new review of The Rock and the River is up at My Road Trip ( The reviewer, Ed Spicer, put in some great reflections about how the book affected him and sparked memories of his own experiences in 1968. Excellent commentary! And it's not just about the book, so even if you already read The Rock and the River, it's totally worth checking out.

Sneak Peek:

"In the late sixties and early seventies the United States saw the rise of the Black Panther Party in Chicago. In my neighborhood, the Black Panther Party was imbued with a certain amount of awe mixed with terror. We saw Blacks on the street and we locked our car doors. We took an exceptionally long time to really look at a Black like Huey Newton and really try to understand what he is saying and why he is saying it."

Sneak Peek 2:

"Magoon’s book is an excellent fictional depiction that captures the fierce debate within the black community about how to end the systematic degradation and humiliation of black people in America. What I like about this book is that it gives readers, even old white readers like me, an insight into the human cost of protesting."

Wanna read the rest? (Yeah, you know you do.) CHECK IT OUT HERE.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What A Girl Wants, What A Girl Reads

The "What a Girl Wants" interview series has launched over at Chasing Ray.

Today we're talking about what we read as tweens/teens that most impacted us.

Check it out!

And then join the discussion in the comments section. This is really fun. I'm thrilled to be a part of this fabulous group of writer women!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

CCBC Book Discussion - June 24

For anyone in the Madison, Wisconsin area:

The Rock and the River will be discussed as part of the Cooperative Children's Book Center's June Book Discussion at UW-Madison.

Follow this link for more details. If you're in the area, it sounds like it could be interesting!

Monday, June 8, 2009

What A Girl Wants

Colleen Mondor, of Chasing Ray , is hosting a brand new, exciting round table of women authors talking about "What a Girl Wants."

It launches later this week, and I'll be participating!

Here's a sneak peek at Colleen's introduction to the conversation:

"I've been a bit bothered for awhile now about the kind of books being published for teen girls. As anyone who reads YA titles knows, there are a lot more books for girls out there than boys.... But for girls, I can't help but think that while there are a lot of books with female protagonists, there are not a lot of books with diverse female protags.... For every Dewey (courtesy Ellen Klages) or Rose (courtesy Hilary McKay) you have to wade through a lot of mean girls. And don't even get me started on how difficult it is to find minority characters or GBLTQ characters in teen girl fiction. I've written about all of this before but what I'd really like to hear now is what other people think about the current status of books for teen girls and what it says about both what they want to read and what publishers think they want to read."

Curious? Intrigued? Check out the full post on Chasing Ray.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Interview on The Chocolate Pages Show

Thursday evening I was interviewed on Blog Talk Radio, for Pam Perry's The Chocolate Pages Show.

You can listen to the podcast here. The show's a hour long, and I'm not the only guest, so my part doesn't start until around 28:00, if you care to fast forward. I'm on for about half an hour. The other guest is Larry Jemison, and the topic is how to inspire youth, so if you have the full hour at your disposal, listen to it all!

Someday, if and when my latent technological savvy kicks in, I'll try to post a briefer version that is just the highlights.......

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

As If BEA Wasn't Enough...

Last night I got to give a copy of The Rock and the River to Ms. Phylicia Rashad.

I handed her a signed copy, and she looked at it, then asked me to personalize it.

I was over the moon.

Enough said.

Monday, June 1, 2009

More on BEA

Ok, you've been waiting for the juicy details of my weekend at Book Expo America.....

It was AWESOME! I met tons of cool and interesting people: authors, teachers, librarians, publicists -- lots of industry folk. I told them all about The Rock and the River, and I collected bunches of books and information in exchange. At BEA, publishers give out books and galleys (advanced copies) like candy.

Check out my haul: a whopping 74 books!

Lugging all that home was not a pretty picture. Luckily it was a three-day conference. Luckily, too, it was in my town, so I didn't have to pay for any shipping.

I even got my hands on the highly anticipated, highly coveted galley of Catching Fire, the sequel to Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games. Yum. Cannot wait to dive into that one!

I'll post later to highlight more of the books I managed to snag. The concept of receiving advance galleys may have spoiled me for ever again waiting until the books I want to read actually hit shelves. Sigh.
I met a few writers who I've been reading since I was a teen myself, and picked up copies of their latest books -- Sharon Draper (Sassy), Walter Dean Myers (RIOT), and Katherine Paterson (The Day of the Pelican). I also met some favorites who I've discovered as an adult -- Sara Zarr (Once Was Lost), Scott Westerfeld (Leviathan - a fellow Aladdin author!), Elizabeth Scott, Michelle Knudsen (The Dragon of Trelian) and Elizabeth Bluemle (Dogs on the Bed).
S&S didn't have The Rock and the River on display (so I brought my own promotion materials!), but as I was wandering around the expo, I noticed that the publisher of my non-fiction books had a display up that included some of my titles. Very cool!

My close friend and colleague Bethany Hegedus was signing copies of Between Us Baxters. She looked awesome at the tall signing table where they seated her. Every last book got snagged up. She was in demand!

I blog at CHICKS ROCK! on Mondays, so take a look over there to read about my dazzling encounter with Olivia, star of the picture book OLIVIA, by Ian Falconer. I won't deny it -- it was a highlight of the whole weekend.
All in all, the Book Expo was a wonderful and dynamic event. I was thrilled to be a part of all that book-walking, book-talking action!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

BEA, Baby!

This weekend I attended Book Expo America (BEA) at the Javits Center in New York. It was my first time at BEA, which is a major annual conference for the publishing industry. Publishers, booksellers and other book-related vendors set up booths that together cover the area of a couple of football fields!!

All told, it was a weekend of many book signings, excellent networking and awesome giveaways!! In fact, there was so much going on that it would be hard to fit it all into one post. I'll save the most dramatic details for a few follow-up posts, but in the meantime, here are some of the highlights:

Sharon Draper recognized The Rock and the River when I gave her my flyer!

Meeting Olivia! I was so excited. It was almost ridiculous. But how cute is she?!?!

My new BEA buds. Two writer friends I met at the conference, Latria and Tiffany.

Stay tuned for more on my many BEA adventures!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Summer Blog Blast Tour, Featuring ME!

Exciting, exciting things today!

First of all, pop over to Elizabeth Bird's blog, A Fuse #8 Production, where you will find an interview with me that is part of the Summer Blog Blast Tour 2009. I talk about The Rock and the River, my inspirations for writing it, people's reactions to it, and lots of other stuff. Fun!

What is the Summer Blog Blast Tour, you ask? Excellent question! It appears that a group of KidLit bloggers have gotten together to do a series of interviews with interesting authors (if I do say so myself!). It'll be going on all week. Colleen Mondor has posted a schedule for the week, plus links and sneak peeks, on Chasing Ray. I'm headed there now to check out the other interviews. For me, it's already been lots of fun to be part of this special week - and it's only just begun!

Okay....when you're done with all that, take a peek at the Best Books for Young Adults nomination list, recently posted by the American Library Association. Guess who's on it?? It's so very exciting that The Rock and the River was chosen to be part of this group.

I'm all smiles today, friends!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Studio 4 (aka Video of ME!)

So...a few weeks ago, I went into my publisher's headquarters (Simon & Schuster) and did a short video interview for the S&S website. I sat in a little room with a videocamera in my face and a microphone clipped on me while they asked me questions about The Rock and the River and me as a person. I have to say, at the moment it felt very glamorous. But some of the questions were hard!

They said, "Describe yourself in eight words...." I was like, "Umm..." (Can "umm..." be one of my words, please?)

So, why am I bringing this up now? Well. It's getting to be about the time when I can email my editor and ask if I can see it. The video people will have done their editing work, and they'll send me a nice shiny copy. I'm half eager about this, and half not. I always think I look a little funny on camera, so I'm nervous to see it! The camera man said it was good. The interviewer said it was good. My editor said it was good. But I am still nervous.

But I can't wait until I have a video clip... :)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hunger Mountain Auction: Bid on Critiques with Authors & Agents & More

The Hunger Mountain Spring Fundraising Auction will feature manuscript critiques with notable authors and literary agents as well as limited edition letterpress broadsides!

All items will be available for bidding at The Hunger Mountain Store, beginning at noon EST May 2. Bidding ends at noon EST on May 9. One-on-one critiques in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, writing for children, writing for young adults, and writing for the stage will be conducted by phone, email, or snail mail.

The auction offers opportunities to work with award-winning children's-YA authors Donna Jo Napoli, Sarah Ellis, Martine Leavitt, and Tim Wynne-Jones. Highly acclaimed picture book author-illustrator Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Newbery Honor author Marion Dane Bauer will also be offering their expertise.

In addition, literary agent Mark McVeigh, founding member of The McVeigh Agency, has donated a full-length children's/YA fiction critique and Tracy Marchini, agent assistant at Curtis Brown, Ltd., has donated a middle grade/YA critique.

Those who write for adults may bid for critiques with such authors as Philip Graham, Jess Row, Thomas Christopher Greene, Natasha Saje, Xu Xi, Michael Martone, David Jauss, and David Wojahn.

Been toiling away on a script or stage production? Bid on a full-length play critique with playwright Gary Moore.

Sue William Silverman is offering a full-length creative nonfiction manuscript critique, complete with a complimentary signed copy of her latest book Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir (University of Georgia Press, 2009).

Also available are signed broadsides from the Stinehour Broadside Award Series including work by authors Alice Hoffman, Neil Shepard, David Rivard, and Lucia Perillo. These letterpress broadsides are all signed and numbered, limited edition, and frame worthy, making them the perfect gift for anyone who appreciates the artistry of literature!

All purchases are charitable in support of Hunger Mountain's non-profit mission to cultivate engagement with and conversation about the arts by publishing high-quality, innovative literary and visual art by both established and emerging artists, and by offering opportunities for interactivity and discourse.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Richie's Picks Review!

I'm pleased to report that The Rock and the River was reviewed on Richie's Picks today! Richie says of the book...

"In the course of Sam Childs' coming of age story, amidst the American history I thought I knew so well, author Kekla Magoon has radically altered my understanding of the Black Panther Party. In her debut novel, Magoon, who studied history as an undergraduate, does an exceptional job of integrating many sides of very complex racial and political issues into this tense tale of an adolescent who has grown up in the Civil Rights Movement."

Cool, huh? Take a peek at the full review HERE.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hunger Mountain Presents...The Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children's Writing

Calling all YA and children’s writers! We are thrilled to present the inaugural Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children’s Writing in Hunger Mountain.

Hunger Mountain, the arts journal of Vermont College of Fine Arts, will launch our new online arts journal early this summer. Our new site will include YA and Children’s Literature; we’ll feature articles on hot topics and trends in YA and children’s literature, interviews with publishing industry insiders, and fiction selections by well-known and up-and-coming YA and children’s authors. Upcoming issues will feature pieces by Katherine Paterson, Carrie Jones, Cynthia Leitich Smith, K.A. Nuzum, Rita Williams-Garcia, Sara Zarr and many others!

Writers of Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, and Picture Books are encouraged to enter the Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children’s Writing for a piece of fiction NOT yet under contract or under consideration by a publisher. Newbery Award-winning author Katherine Paterson will judge. One winner will receive $1,000.00 and publication in Hunger Mountain online, and two honorable mentions will receive $100.00 each.

Entries may include:
Young Adult Fiction (novel excerpt or short story)
Middle Grade Fiction (novel excerpt or short story)
Picture Book (text only)

Submission Fee: $20 per entry

Entries must be postmarked by June 30th, 2009

Contest Guidelines:
Your packet should include four items:
1. A one-page cover sheet that includes:
--Your name, address, email and phone number
--The title of your manuscript
--The category of your manuscript (YA, MG, PB)
--A brief (one to two paragraph/200 word) bio of yourself
--A brief (one to two paragraph/250 word) synopsis of your manuscript
2. Your manuscript:
--Up to 5,000 words of middle grade/young adult fiction, or one picture book manuscript (text only)
--Entries must be double-spaced, with margins of at least 1”
--Please number the pages of your entry, and label each page with the title
--Please DO NOT label the manuscript with your name (entries will be judged anonymously)
--Please paperclip (do not staple) your entry

3. Entry Fee:
--Check or money order for $20, payable to Hunger Mountain
4. Self-addressed, stamped envelope for notification of award winners
--Plus, a self-addressed, stamped postcard for us to acknowledge receipt of your entry (optional)

Packets should be mailed to:
Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children’s Writing
Hunger Mountain
Vermont College of Fine Arts
36 College Street
Montpelier, VT 05602

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Author Visit: Pontiac Library

This week I'm in my hometown, Fort Wayne Indiana, for some library visits and book signings.

The first was at Pontiac Library, where I got to speak to kids in the after school program there. It was my first visit to this particular library branch, which had recently been remodeled. A very nice facility, that seemed popular with neighborhood teens.

They loved my interactive Readers' Theatre; I had more volunteers than I had speaking parts in the piece! Well, it's something to keep in mind for next time: Create a readers' theatre that involves ten readers instead of six!

We did a raffle to see who got to take home each of the three copies of my book that I signed for them. The winners (and friends) lined up for a picture.

All in all, a fun afternoon!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Changing Call Signs

For several years now, I've been able to refer to myself as WRITER. Recently, I upgraded to calling myself AUTHOR. Sometimes, if I'm feeling complicated, I call myself AUTHOR/WRITER. Now that the book is out, and I'm doing school visits, I've amended even that to read AUTHOR/WRITER/SPEAKER. Now, I'm excited to announce that I can also call myself EDITOR.

I have recently been named co-editor of the YA and Children's literature section of Hunger Mountain, the arts journal of Vermont College of Fine Arts. My fellow co-editor is author Bethany Hegedus, already a close friend and colleague of mine. Thus far, Hunger Mountain has been a print publication with adult-market material only. Now, we're launching an online component to the journal, which will include children's and YA. Very cool.

We'll be getting this ball rolling over the next few months, and I'll keep folks updated about any information related to Hunger Mountain. Exciting!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A DIfferent Speaking Gig

So, I've gotten into the mode of speaking to groups of kids and teens about The Rock and the River, and that is totally fun. But every once in a while, I get the chance to talk to grown-ups, as well. This is hit or miss, as far as actual "fun" is concerned. I find most formal adult gatherings to be boring or downright stuffy. Yawn.

So imagine my surprise when I was invited to speak to a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution about one of my non-fiction books, The Salem Witch Trials. The DAR is soooo not my target demographic. But I agreed to do the speech. I went, and lo and behold - it was fun! The ladies were cool and very interested in my books. I made my presentation and they were very into it. It just goes to show that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, so to speak. Here I am with some of the DAR ladies.

Perhaps what surprised me most about this occasion was that I was totally confident and comfortable going into it. I had done my research and written my book, so I knew what I was talking about. I wasn't even nervous.

Why is this a big deal? Well. I think of myself a quiet person; a listener, not much of a talker. I guess was a chatty little kid, but I had turned fairly shy by the time I was a teenager. Now it seems to be spinning back the other way. Turns out, I like to talk. A lot. Who knew?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Between Us Baxters Release Party!!

Last night I attended the release party for Between Us Baxters, by my friend and fellow YA author Bethany Hegedus. Yay!!

I'm one of the lucky ones who got to read the book for the first time a few years ago, long before it was published. So it's especially exciting to see it in real book form for all the world to see.

Here we are together with Bethany's book!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

School Visits: Boston, Massachusetts

I spent this weekend at Newton Country Day School in Massachusetts, doing school visit with my friend and fellow YA author Bethany Hegedus. We gave a joint presentation on The Rock and the River and Bethany's novel, Between Us Baxters. Both novels are set in the Civil Rights Movement, hers at the beginning of the era and mine at the end - so they are great books to present and discuss together. Here we are talking to the middle school girls of Newton Country Day!

The next day, Bethany and I spoke at the Associated Independent Schools of New England's annual Middle School Students of Color Conference. We each did small-group writing workshops, and also were the afternoon keynote speakers for the whole conference! Here we are, doing our readers' theatre presentation with all 300 conference attendees!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Special Valentine

I participated in Kids - Heart - Authors Day today, at Oblong Books in Millerton, NY. It took me a long commuter train ride to get there, but it was worth it. I signed books alongside fellow children's book author Nancy Castaldo. It was fun to see a new bookstore and meet new people. One person bought ten copies of The Rock and the River! She was a teacher, who wanted to use the book in her classroom. I'm pretty sure that was my biggest single sale so far. Very exciting!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fuse #8 Blog Review

I'm pleased to report that a new review was posted about The Rock and the River on A Fuse #8 Production, a blog on School Library Journal, in which kidlit blogger/reviewer Elizabeth Bird refers to the book as "a smart, sensible, deeply layered title."

The in-depth review highlights the books strengths and uniqueness in the children's book market.

Click here to read the review in full.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

First Encounters of the Child Reader Kind

Today, I volunteered at a reading program, where I got to read The Rock and the River with kids for the first time. It was fun. The girl I read with was nine years old - a bit young for the novel, I thought at first - but as it turned out, she understood and could even relate to some of the events that occur early in the book. As I read a scene in which my character (Sam) encounters racism, my new friend stopped me from reading on. "Yeah," she said. "That guy's racist." Then she proceded to tell me about how she had seen racism in action in her own community. I was impressed by the way she took the scene and connected it to her own experiences. It was exciting to realize that the book was beginning to have the effect I hoped it'd have - at least on one reader!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

First Bookstore Signing

My first bookstore signing, at Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in Harlem, was officially a success!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Launch Party

I had a great time at my book launch party last night. The New York Society Library was hopping with my friends, family and even my first few fans! Here are some photos from what, for me, was truly a night to remember...

Books for sale!

Signing, signing!

Mingling, mingling!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Book Launch and Signings

I have two upcoming book signings in New York City:

6-8 PM
The New York Society Library
53 E. 79th St. (@ Madison Ave)

6 PM
Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe
2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd (bet. 124th-125th Sts)

Come, help celebrate the book release, and get yor copies signed!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Rock and the River - in stores today!!!

I'm thrilled to announce that my novel, The Rock and the River will be released today! Order copies from your local independent bookstore, major chain, or online retailer. See for direct links to purchase online!