Posts Tagged Book Giveaway

Getting Antsy for The Natural Genius of Ants

Welcome to The Natural Genius of Ants Blog Tour!

Five Writing Tips
by Betty Culley

1. Don’t worry about following trends. Instead, write about what interests you, what you are passionate about. I held onto an article about meteorites for years because there was something about it that captured my imagination. It was the spark that turned into my first middle-grade novel DOWN TO EARTH.

2. Find your writer friends. I wrote alone for years and didn’t share my writing with anyone, out of shyness and fear of being judged. It’s hard when your heart is on the page. But when I joined a writing group of kind and sympathetic people, my writing world expanded. Having other eyes read my words made all the difference. For instance, it was one of my critique group writer friends who suggested changing my manuscript THREE THINGS I KNOW ARE TRUE from prose to verse. It ended up being my debut verse novel. There are things in your writing you just won’t see, no matter how many times you look at it. That’s where the magic of other writers comes in! Also, it helps to have people there who understand when you’re struggling with a difficult revision or discouraging publishing news. My writing group met virtually during the pandemic and it helped us all keep going.

3. Read! It doesn’t have to be what you think you should read. Read what interests you and what gets you inspired, whether it’s a beautiful picture book, a poem, or a magazine article. Also, read the latest books coming out in your genre. There are so many wonderful books recently published and more coming out that you can’t read them all, of course, but choose some that speak to you.

4. Don’t get discouraged. Writing can be a beautiful and joyful thing.  I write partly to figure out what I think and feel, and to see those thoughts and emotions expressed on paper is what keeps me going. There can also be discouraging times, when a writer is tempted to give up. If I could go back and give myself advice, I would say Don’t give up. Try to focus on what you love about writing and keep going.

5. Only you can tell your stories. You have stories that only you can tell. Somewhere, there is someone waiting to hear those stories, someone who needs to hear them. So, tell them!


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On Shelves May 10, 2022!

“Culley gives readers characters that are natural, fallible individuals, which add credibility and tenderness to the story. Endearingly executed, this gentle tale will see readers applauding as they reach the end.”
—Booklist (Starred Review)

“Quietly and emotionally intelligent, this tale satisfies.”
—Kirkus

A summer ant farm grows into a learning experience for the entire family in this lyrical coming-of-age story from the award-winning author of Down to Earth.

Harvard is used to his father coming home from the hospital and telling him about all the babies he helped. But since the mistake at work, Dad has been quieter than usual. And now he is taking Harvard and his little brother, Roger, to Kettle Hole, Maine, for the summer. Harvard hopes this trip isn’t another mistake.

In the small town where he grew up, Dad seems more himself. Especially once the family decides to start an ant farm—just like Dad had as a kid! But when the mail-order ants are D.O.A., Harvard doesn’t want Dad to experience any more sadness. Luckily, his new friend Nevaeh has the brilliant idea to use the ants crawling around in the kitchen instead. But these insects don’t come with directions. So the kids have a lot to learn—about the ants, each other, and how to forgive ourselves when things go wrong.

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Betty Culley’s debut novel in verse Three Things I Know Are True, was a Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten Pick, an ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee, and the 2021 Maine Literary Book Award Winner for Young People’s Literature. Her first middle-grade novel Down to Earth was inspired by her fascination with meteorites, voyagers from another place and time. She’s an RN who worked as an obstetrics nurse and as a pediatric home hospice nurse. She lives in central Maine, where the rivers run through the small towns.


GIVEAWAY

  • One (1) winner will receive a finished copy of The Natural Genius of Ants,as well as a copy of Betty’s first middle grade novel Down to Earth and a bookmark!
  • US/Can only
  • Ends 5/22 at 11:59pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below
  • Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

“A captivating middle-grade novel.” —Booklist (Starred Review)

“Heartwarming and absorbing, this is a solid choice for middle grade collections. Perfect for readers who want a great small-town story mixed with STEM.” —School Library Journal

 

Counting by 7s meets See You in the Cosmos in this heartwarming coming-of-age story perfect for the budding geologists and those fascinated by the mysteries of the universe.

 

Henry has always been fascinated by rocks. As a homeschooler, he pours through the R volume of the encyclopedia to help him identify the rocks he finds. So, when a meteorite falls in his family’s field, who better to investigate than this rock enthusiast—with his best friend, James, and his little sister, Birdie, in tow, of course.

But soon after the meteorite’s arrival, the water in Henry’s small Maine town starts drying up. It’s not long before news spreads that the space rock and Henry’s family might be to blame. Henry is determined to defend his newest discovery, but his knowledge of geology could not have prepared him for how much this stone from the sky would change his community, his family, and even himself.

Science and wonder abound in this middle-grade debut about an inquisitive boy and the massive rock that came down to Earth to reshape his life.


Blog Tour Schedule:

May 9th — YA Book Nerd
May 10th — Mrs. Book Dragon
May 11th — Pragmatic Mom
May 12th — Feed Your Fiction Addiction
May 13th — From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors

STEM Tuesday — Birds — Interview with Author Leslie Bulion

We are delighted to have the aweome Leslie Bulion with us today to talk about her book:

Superlative Birds book

Get to know all about the best and brightest―and smelliest!―birds in Leslie Bulion’s award-winning collection of avian science poetry. You won’t even need binoculars!

★ “Fascinating.”―Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

★ “In works such as Superlative Birds, the collaboration of poetry and science invites children of varying reading preferences, learning styles, and worldviews to enter nature study through their own chosen door.” ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED REVIEW

★ “Entertaining and educational, a superlative package.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

 

Leslie, thanks for joining us today. please tell us about your book, Superlative Birds

Thanks for inviting me to STEM Tuesday, Jen! SUPERLATIVE BIRDS (Peachtree 2019) takes readers on a funny, poetic tour of the important characteristics of “birdness,” such as feathers, eggs, nests, wings, and bills, plus behaviors like courtship and bird parenting using a “best of the bird world” representative for each trait. A chatty chickadee appears in each spread to help readers meet a challenge offered in the introductory poem: which of these traits belong only to birds? This is the second of four critter poetry collection collaborations with illustrator Robert Meganck, whose work is superlatively funny and accurate!

 

You wrote this book and many of your others in verse, which is so amazing. Why do you choose to write in this format?

I love the challenge of communicating one cool science story in a succinct way using the music and wordplay of poetry. I am a lifelong learner; writing science poetry allows me to learn about a subject of interest, and to learn more about poetry as I explore and choose different forms for each of the poems.

spread inside Superlative Birds

In my poems, I’m not sharing everything there is to know about birds (or amphibians, or spiders, or human body parts, or…). I also don’t share everything about any particular bird—that wouldn’t make for a fun or interesting poem. I try to hone the science story I’ll tell to one elegant nugget. For example, in my poem about the world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird, I talk about its size, mention what it eats, and describe the pattern its wingbeats make (figure-eight). That’s it! I try to keep the poems’ accompanying expository notes fairly concise as well, which is much harder!

 

There are so many different birds in this book. What kind of research did you do? 

I always start with two approaches: reading widely and some kind of hands-on experience. For SUPERLATIVE BIRDS, I read general books and articles about birds and bird behavior and pored over field guides. I took a week-long summer course at Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology where I met Leslie Bulion researching birds ornithologists and expert birders who became my expert readers. I asked a LOT of questions, including “which bird do YOU think is the best, and why?” Once I figured out the structure and organization of the book, and the “world record-holders” hook, I researched animal world records and unusual birds, and continued to read recent articles in science magazines and journals to see which birds scientists were studying and why. I also contacted researchers for further information. There’s always something new in science! While reading recent research on emperor penguins (deepest diver) I learned they had the most feathers of any bird, something researchers had discovered while taking an unexpected opportunity to look at feather density. I had read many references to the tundra swan being the world record-holder for most feathers but it had just been dethroned!

 

Why do you choose to write STEM/STEAM books? Is it in your background?

I have been interested in science for as long as I can remember. I wrote a poem back in fourth grade encouraging readers to take a closer look at critters living “under the grass,” something I did myself 50 years later in LEAF LITTER CRITTERS (Peachtree 2018)! I did a semester at sea in during my undergraduate studies, and earned a Master’s degree in Biological Oceanography after that. I was inspired to start writing science poetry on the heels of taking a summer course (just for fun) called “The Way Bugs Work.”

 

Do you have any tips for writers who might want to write science poetry?

I think we all do our best work when we’re writing about something we find fascinating. I read current science every day. There’s always a note I’ll squirrel away in an idea file or follow on a happy hunt into the weeds. I collect all of the information I can, and then I whittle. For me, science poetry involves whittling a stick until you make a whistle (or a flute) that calls the read over—Hey! Check this out!

 

What is your newest book? 

Thanks for asking! SERENGETI: PLAINS OF GRASS (Peachtree, March 1, 2022) follows the greatSerengeti Plains of Grass book migration of wildebeests, zebras, gazelles and others into and out of Tanzania’s Serengeti short-grass plain as the first rains bring new grass growth to feed the herd. Migrating animals interact with resident animals in this moving ecosystem. Unlike my other science poetry books, SERENGETI is all the same form of poetry throughout, one stanza connecting to the next as readers follow energy though the food web from herbivores to insectivores, carnivores, and recyclers before the herd moves on, following the rains west. The form is an adaptation of a Swahili stanza called the utendi.

Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us today, Leslie.  You can learn more about Leslie and her other amazing books HERE

Leave us a comment about your favorite book about birds!  Go STEM/STEAM!

 

 

 

 

STEM Tuesday — Diversity in STEM– Interview with Ella Schwartz

Welcome to STEM Tuesday: Author Interview, a repeating feature for the fourth Tuesday of every month. Go Science-Tech-Engineering-Math!

Today we’re interviewing Ella Schwartz, author of STOLEN SCIENCE: Thirteen Untold Stories of Scientists and Inventors Almost Written out of History.  

Mary Kay Carson: Tell us a bit about your book Stolen Science.

Ella Schwartz: Stolen Science is the story of thirteen scientists and inventors who performed ground breaking work but did not get the credit they deserved. I know first-hand just how hard it is for women to be successful in the field. We’ve made great strides in recent years, but time and again women and marginalized groups have had to claw their way to success in the sciences, only to have their discoveries stolen from them – and that’s not fair! I set out to write Stolen Science to finally give credit where credit is due!

MKC: Why did you choose to write the book? 

Ella: Picture a scientist in your head. Chances are, that scientist is white, male, and often dead. As a woman with a background in science and engineering, I very rarely got to see someone who looked like me represented in my field. That’s what I set out to fix when I began writing Stolen Science. I feel deeply that children today need to see diversity represented in the sciences. Young girls, children of color, and immigrants must be inspired by example to pursue STEM fields. I set out to write Stolen Science with that goal in mind.

MKC: Stolen Science features lesser-known individuals, many who lived in the 1800s. How did you learn about them?

Ella: When I began researching this book, I wasn’t sure what I’d find. I knew there was probably plenty of scientists who had performed brilliant work that never got the credit they deserved, but I never expected just how many stories I’d uncover! Some of the stories from the 1800s were tricky to research, but thankfully these stories are beginning to come to light. For example, Mary Anning is one of the scientists I feature in the book. I’m pleased to see a lot of recent publications on this fierce and brave scientist.

MKC: It sounds like you spent some quality time in research archives and libraries. Do you have a favorite discovery you’d like to share?

Ella Schwartz writes fiction and nonfiction books for young readers. She is always asking questions and trying to learn new things. The books she writes are for kids who are just as curious as she is. Find out more about her and her books at www.ellasbooks.com.

Ella: The research for this book was, at times, intense! One of my favorite stories in the book is on Jo Anderson, an enslaved man who invented the mechanical reaper that became the backbone of the industrial revolution. There hasn’t been a lot of research on Jo Anderson so telling his story required me to dig deep into research. I knew this was a story that deserved to be told and I was honored to tell it. But I also knew this was a big responsibility. I had to get the story right. I’m very grateful to the staff at the Wisconsin Historical Society for sharing original letters and documents on Jo Anderson that helped me form the true story of this incredible man.

MKC: Why do you choose to write STEM books? Is it your background?

Ella: I do have a STEM background! I received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering and have had a twenty+ year career in cybersecurity. When I’m not writing, I work as a cybersecurity professional on federal government initiatives. I started writing STEM books because a writing mentor once told me “write what you know.” That seemed to make sense at the time. But I kept on writing STEM books because I truly feel STEM must be open for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your gender, color, background, or religion is. STEM is for you.

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Your host is Mary Kay Carson, author of Wildlife Ranger Action Guide, The Tornado ScientistAlexander Graham Bell for Kids, Mission to Pluto, and other nonfiction books for kids. @marykaycarson