Templeton Twins Giveaway

The Templeton Twins Have an Idea, by  Ellis Weiner, book one in a series, is due on shelves this month and has already caused a bit of a stir! Thank–or blame–The Narrator. When The Mixed Up Files asked him for a comment on the book, he sent us the following crisp reply:


To: Whom It May Concern
From: The Narrator
Re: The Templeton Twins Have an Idea “Contest” “Giveaway”

It has come to my attention that a copy of the abovementioned book, mentioned above, is to be awarded to some middle-grade literateur, savant, devotee, or pedagogue.  (These are French words which mean various things.)

The book, as every schoolchild knows (or will soon know), concerns John and Abigail Templeton,  the clever and resourceful12-year-old twin children of Prof. Elton Templeton, an inventor.  Common responses to this information include, “Wait–why does John, the boy, have to be mentioned first?  Isn’t that just more of the same old sexism that has held hegemonic sway over Western (and, let’s not kid ourselves, Eastern) civilization from the very beginning?” and “How come all of a sudden there are all these ‘Eltons’ everywhere?”

I am equipped neither intellectually nor temperamentally to reply to such queries.  I can, however, answer other questions, including, “Does the text feature a ridiculous dog,” “Are a pair of adult twins assigned the role of the twins’ nemeses,” and “Does the narrative include–as I have been waiting all my life for a narrative to include–a perfectly decent recipe for meatloaf?”  The answer to these is, in each case, “I’m not telling.  You’ll have to win, and read, the book itself to find out.”

I trust this settles the matter.  Good luck to all entrants, or whatever you are.


Good luck indeed! Please enter your comment below to win a copy of this sly and hilarious middle grade novel!      

Upside of Ordinary Giveaway

Debut middle grade author Susan Lubner stopped by to tell us a little about how she came to write her novel “The Upside of Ordinary”.  She’s also giving away an advanced reader’s copy to one lucky reader.


Take one missing uncle, a lucky skull ring, a run-away tarantula, lots of pickles, and an “ordinary” family. Put it all together and you have my debut middle grade novel. The Upside of Ordinary is about eleven-year-old Jermaine— so enamored with the idea of becoming famous that she decides to make a reality TV show about her family.  The inspiration for this story came out of my own fascination with reality TV…not so much by those who watch the reality shows,  but by the many who give up their privacy (and sometimes dignity!) to participate in one.  One of the things that makes The Upside of Ordinary special to me is that it is my first middle grade novel. But I also love the main character’s  resolve mixed with her naiveté and the fact that even though Jermaine finds the idea of fame to be so glamorous and appealing, she eventually discovers what’s simple, but very special, about her own life.  

Thanks, Susan! Due on shelves October 1, you can win an advanced copy n0w by leaving a comment below.

Whole Lot of Lucky Giveaway

Danette Hayworth, author of the popular Me & Jack and Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, is back! Her new novel, A Whole Lot of Lucky, is sure to hit that  middle grade sweet spot. 

From Indiebound: Hailee Richardson never realized how much she hated her Salvation Army life and Goodwill accessories until the night her family wins the lottery. All of a sudden she’s no longer the only girl at school without a cell phone or a brand-new bike! And the newfound popularity that comes with being a lottery winner is just what she’s always dreamed of. But the glow of her smartphone and fancy new clothes wears off when Hailee is transferred to Magnolia Academy, a private school. All of a sudden, her best friend and parents seem shabby compared to the beautiful Magnolia moms and the popular bad-girl Nikki, who seems to want to be her friend. Now, Hailee wants nothing more than to grow up-and away-from her old life. It’ll take one very busy social networking page, a stolen first kiss, and a whole carton of eggs for Hailee to realize that not all luck is good, not all change is bad, and a best friend who’s just a call away will always be more valuable than a phone.

Danette stopped by to talk about her writing process, share the secrets of a writer’s purse, and give away an ARC of the new book. Take it away, Danette!

For me, the writing of a story almost always begins with voice, a voice so strong that it carries with it the gender, age, location, and disposition of the character. All I have to do then is think of what could be the worst thing that could happen to that character. If the voice is strong enough, I can drop the character into any situation and know how she’ll react. That’s where the real work begins: finding the right situation to exploit the voice in my head.

While I was in line edits for Me & Jack, I got hit by this image of two girls and a bike. Not just a snapshot image, it was like a short video of an old memory. The girls were in a driveway. I saw lots of trees, and it was that kind of warm/chilly day you get in spring. The main character had just convinced her reluctant best friend to let her ride her new bike (a new bike, and it wasn’t even her birthday!) by agreeing to pay a dollar and a pack of Smarties. As the MC rides away from her friend’s shouted instructions and warnings, she feels as free as the honeysuckle air wafting under her nose, yet she can’t help but compare her friend’s flashy new bike to her own embarrassing old red boy bike, bought for three dollars at a garage sale last year.

The image of these two girls was so strong, I picked up a scrap of paper and wrote down the main character’s viewpoint of that scene, dialogue and all. The words flowed like water from the tap. Other thoughts popped up over the next few days and I wrote them all down. Later, I nixed some of them and expanded others, but what remained were those first words spoken by twelve-year-old Hailee Richardson, owner of the red boy bike. She didn’t know it then, but her whole life was about to change.

The first three chapters are available on my website. If you compare them to the scrap below—and if you can decipher my scratchy writing!—you’ll see that the first few published pages don’t differ much from the first scrappy words spoken by my then-nameless main character.

Parts of this book were written on the backs of old grocery receipts, a must-have for every writer’s purse.

Now that you know the inside story, why not try your own luck. Leave a comment below and you may win an advanced reader’s copy of the novel, due on shelves Sept. 4.