Luck Uglies–Book 2 and a Giveaway!

luck uglies 1Paul Durham’s critically acclaimed debut middle grade novel was named an ALA Notable Book and won the Cybil Award for Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. Rejoice, faithful fans.  Book Two of the series brims with yet more  adventure, secrets, friendship, and magic.

luck uglies 2In the new book, illustrated by Petur Antonsson, hero Rye O’Chanter has been declared a criminal in her own village, and must flee to the strange and remote Isle of Pest while her father faces off against the Luck Uglies’ bitterest rivals, the Fork-Tongue Charmers, on the mainland. But all bets are off when the battle moves to the shores of Pest. To defeat the Fork-Tongue Charmers, Rye must defy a deranged earl, survive a test meant to judge the grit of the fiercest men, and lead the charge in defending the island against a strangely familiar enemy, which means uncovering some long-buried family secrets. . . .

Paul stopped by to chat about the question students most often ask him:

Where do your ideas come from? 

I wish I could tell my young readers about the little voices that whisper to me in quiet moments, or the foggy images and fractured sentences that fade in and out of the darkened screen of my eyelids as I drift off for a nap. I’d love to describe my absolute favorite moments as a writer. Those elusive times at the start of a new project when ideas fall furiously from the sky like hail, and all I can do is rush around with a bucket and collect as many as possible before they melt and disappear. But would that help them understand me any better?

I’ve talked with many artists and creative professionals about their processes, and the closest comparison I can find are to composers and songwriters. While I can comprehend how instruments are played, lyrics are written, and vocals recorded, I cannot fathom where an original melody or hook comes from. A songwriter friend once told me that it just comes to him like a passing thought. Maybe that’s no more helpful than saying it falls like hail from the sky, but at least I understand what he means. My conclusion is that the most creative ideas come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

For me, that’s the beauty and magic of what we do as authors. When we do our jobs well, we are magicians who conjure something from nothing. Even if we could articulate our secrets, perhaps it’s best that such trickery remains unshared.

Happy conjuring.


Paul is giving away three sets of books one and two! Conjure up some luck and enter below.

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Tricia Springstubb
Tricia is the author of many books for middle grade, most recently "Every Single Second" (HarperCollins) and the third book in the Cody series, "Cody and the Rules of Life" (Candlewick Press). A frequent speaker at schools, libraries, and conferences, she lives in Cleveland OH. You can find out more about her and her work at
  1. Would love a chance to win. My kids would love these books.

  2. My students would love these! It would be fun to win and be able to share them with my students and my own children at home! We <3 books!

  3. Best kept secrets are best kept secret. LOL Have heard the rave reviews and would so like to get my paws of your books, Paul. Thanks for the great giveaway.

  4. These books have been on my to-read list for some time. It’s good to see MG fantasy is popular–i’m writing an MG fantasy series myself.

  5. I have not seen your series before. I just placed hold on both through our library and will be able to suggest them to our middle schoolers.
    Looking forward to reading them.

  6. I would love to win for my kids!

  7. My best ideas come from that inner voices. Thank you for your creative world for kids.

  8. *Rubs rabbit foot*

  9. Ideas falling like hail and trying to gather them before they melt. I SO get that.

  10. I love the imagery of ideas falling furiously from the sky like hail and rushing around with a bucket to collect them all before they melt. Hey… are you a writer or something?!!

  11. Jane Yolen said that she was in her kid’s classroom when her friend Norton Juster was asked by a child where his ideas came from. I believe she said his answer was “a post office box in Poughkipsee.”

  12. Would love a chance to win and read!

  13. I’d be careful about mentioning those “little voices that whisper to me” as well, but I think all of us writers have them. I have been wanting to read The Luck Uglies for quite a while. Thanks for a chance to win these two books.

  14. I love book iveaways

  15. It’s always interesting where the inspirations for stories come from for an author, I love the idea that they are “magicians who conjure something from nothing!” Congratulations on your release of your second book.

    • Many thanks. When I visit schools, I inevitably get the “where do your ideas come from” question. I still haven’t come up with a short answer. Sometimes I just say in the bathroom, which is usually good for a laugh among the elementary/middle school crowd.