It’s been a very good year, and yikes, it’s almost over. MUF still has time, though, for one last, fun giveaway. Both Charles London and Lisa Rowe Fraustino took time from cookie baking and present wrapping to give us peeks into their writing lives.

Lisa manages a busy career as both author and professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University. She shared a couple of tips on how to find time for your writing. (New Year Resolutions, anyone?)

If you don’t have enough time to write, figure out why.

Keep a journal of everything you do for a week, the same way you would for every penny spent if you had trouble paying your bills. Analyze your patterns. See what you’re doing that’s less important to you than writing.

Block off your writing time, and mean it.

Schedule your writing time on your calendar, and heed it with the same seriousness you do a meeting with your boss or a doctor’s appointment you can’t miss. Besides claiming my morning hour or two, I condense all my classes and committee meetings into Monday through Thursday so that I can I set aside Friday for writing projects—and I guard that time like a good dog. (Yes, Thursdays feel really looooooong.)

Don’t let others stop you.

Make your writing schedule clear to friends and family. Set the alarm, put a cute sign on the door, promise food or shopping when you’re finished—do whatever it takes to encourage their cooperation. If they still won’t leave you alone to write, then send them somewhere else for a while, or else you leave the house yourself. Some writers form parenting co-ops, trading turns at childcare to give each other blocks of time. Others who can afford it will hire a sitter. One winter break years ago when I had a novel to finish, I drove two hours to a cheap hotel in the boonies and got snowed in for several days of joyful binge writing while the children enjoyed time with their father.

We’re giving away an ARC of her award-winning novel, The Hole in the Wall. From Amazon:

Eleven-year-old Sebby has found the perfect escape from his crummy house and bickering family–a secret cave he calls “The Hole in the Wall.” He discovers this astonishing cave in a pristine, beautiful glen in the midst of a devastated mining area behind his home. But it’s not long after Sebby’s found it that his world starts falling apart: His family’s chickens disappear, colors start jumping off the wall and coming to life, and after sneaking a taste of raw cookie dough he finds himself with the mother of all stomachaches. When Sebby sets out to solve these mysteries, he and his twin sister Barbie get caught in a wild chase through the tunnels and caverns around The Hole in the Wall—all leading them to the mining activities of one Stanley Odum, the hometown astrophysicist who’s buying up all the land behind Sebby’s home. Exactly what is Mr. Odum mining in his secret facility, and does it have anything to do with the mystery of the lost chickens and Sebby’s stomachache? The answers to these questions go much further than the twins ever imagined.

Charles London has been here before, and we’re tickled to have him back. Author of the Accidental Adventures series, Charles had a few things to say about…lizards.

I appear always to have found lizards funny. I have also always found lizards somewhat terrifying. I based the lizard in the books, Beverly, a good-hearted but ornery Heloderma Horridum (beaded lizard) on my dog, who shares much in common with her. He does not know that he inspired a lizard. I hope he doesn’t read this blog.

I based the character of Corey Brandt, teen-heartthrob and Celebrity Adventurist in Book 2, on a mash-up of Bear Grylls and Justin Bieber. I hope either of them do read this blog.

Before I wrote this series, I never could have imagined becoming a middle grade author for a living. I had always imagined myself becoming a sort of rugged traveling writer, like Bruce Chatwin or Jon Krakauer. It turns out, my travels and my nonfiction writing were all training to do the truly challenging work of capturing the attention of and sharing stories with middle grade readers, the toughest (and best) audience in the world.

We’re giving away ARCs of both books. From Amazon:

Eleven-year-old twins Oliver and Celia Navel live on the 4-1/2th floor of the Explorers Club with their father, Dr. Navel. Their mother, Dr. Navel, has been missing for years. So when an explorer shows up with a clue as to where his wife could be, Dr. Navel drags Oliver and Celia toTibetto find her. Once there, the twins fall out of airplanes, encounter Yetis, travel through waterfalls, and end up in the Demon Fortress of the Warrior King where they – just possibly – might find their mother and save their father from the Poison Witches. Thing is, they would much rather be watching television. And if their trip doesn’t work out as planned, the twins could end up as slaves to Sir Edmund ThitheltorpeIII, an evil explorer with breath that smells like boiled carrots, who has it in for the whole Navel family.

Please leave a comment below for a chance to be a winner of all three books.

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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