Fearless Fridays: K.E. Ormsbee sleeps in a room filled with killer dolls


This vlog contains images of soul-sucking dolls. You’ve been warned. Now join me as I confront a lifelong fear. It’ll be fun! Maybe a tad traumatic. But through it all, I stick to my motto: tumblr_m0oymz3pF41rpx59io1_500

Kathryn (K.E.) Ormsbee writes Middle Grade and Young Adult books. Her debut novel, THE WATER AND THE WILD, is a Middle Grade fantasy published by Chronicle Books in April 2015, with a sequel to follow in Fall 2016. Her YA debut, LUCKY FEW, will be published by Simon & Schuster in Summer 2016. She likes clothes from the 60s, music from the 70s, and movies from the 80s. She is from the 90s. Find her online at keormsbee.com. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Fearless Fridays: Gail Nall Watches Stop-Motion Animation


I may have the weirdest fear ever – stop-motion animation.


I have no idea. There’s just something really freaky about the jerky movements the little characters make, and the fact that the clay ones seem to have no bones. Maybe it reminds me of old, bad horror films I shouldn’t have watched as a kid, or maybe I can blame it on my mom (who has some unresolved issues with Gumby). All I know is, stop-motion movies give me the heebie-jeebies, even though I can objectively acknowledge how much work goes into making them.

So today, I’m going to call up all my courage and watch 3 clips of stop-motion animation. Please, join me in this trip to Creepytown! Up first, the classic, spine-chilling Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Freakiness Rating: 9 out of 10
How long did I last? 1 minute 5 seconds (the independent eye movement!!!)
Why this one creeps me out: Holy majoly, where do I start? How about with the most nightmare-inducing part – the elf’s eyes roll INDEPENDENTLY at about 1:03. It’s the The Exorcist invading the North Pole’s. You all, I’ll see that in my dreams tonight. *shudder* Plus, the way the mouths move like they’re being operated by NASCAR drivers but everything else stays perfectly still. And they jump, almost as if they’re apparating Harry-Potter-style from one spot to the next. Creeptastic!
Would I watch more? Well, I’ve seen the whole thing, more than once. So I can suffer through it for my kid’s sake, should she ever feel the need to watch it. I can’t promise I’ll watch that independent eye-moving part again, though.

Moving on, clip number two is from Wallace and Gromit, a.k.a. The Creepiness Goes British…

Freakiness Rating: 5 out of 10
How long did I last? I watched it all! (Granted, it was only 1:34…)
Why this one creeps me out: Okay, I have to admit the dog is cute. (Also, I have no idea which is Wallace and which is Gromit, so for the sake of clarity, I will rename them The Dude and The Dog. Clever, right?) And I admit that I laughed when the robot said, “Knickers!” before exploding. But now to the more important, hide-under-the-covers things – the eyes, again. They’re like little round balls that are going to pop out and roll on the floor. Eeewww. And The Dude – he has no lips people! No lips, yet his face is frozen into a perma-smile! How? Why? Finally, I think the fact that it’s British makes it more creepy (no offense to the Brits of the world). There’s just something extra creepified about that proper accent paired with a jawless, lipless man…
Would I watch more? Ehhhh… it was funny…so, maybe? If I could keep my eyes on The Dog, anyway.

And lastly, Bert and Ernie’s Great [Disturbing] Adventures

Freakiness Rating: 8 out of 10
How long did I last? 1:29
Why this one creeps me out: Dear Sesame Street, what was wrong with normal, puppety Bert and Ernie? Why did you have to clay them out and subject me to watching this at least once a week with my three-year-old? Whyyy??? Okay, let’s start with that bed at the beginning. The bed’s legs bend. They bend, people. And if that’s not enough, they run with those bendy legs. Ernie’s strands of hair seems to move of their own volition, which sort makes me think of Medusa. And then, THEN, the eyes. Again. Little black dots that roll around in a sea of white. Thanks, Sesame Street!
Would I watch more? I don’t have a choice. My child likes it, and I try to hide my face.

Oddly, I ran across The Nightmare Before Christmas while searching for clips, and I never realized it was a stop-motion movie. It’s always been one of my favorites, so I opened a clip, and sure enough, it’s stop-motion. My unscientific conclusion on why Nightmare doesn’t bother me: it’s supposed to be all weird and Tim Burtonish. The creep-factor is negated with a movie meant to be creepy.

Well, that’s it, folks. I hope your nightmares are as lively as mine are tonight!

Gail NalGail Nalll lives in Louisville, Kentucky with her family and more cats than necessary. She spends her early mornings writing, her days writing grants for a non-profit, and her evenings trying to stay up past eight o'clock. You can visit her on her website, and chat with her on Twitter. Her debut contemporary MG novel, BREAKING THE ICE, and a co-written MG novel, YOU'RE INVITED, are both available now from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

Fearless Fridays: Maggie Lehrman digs up secrets


When I was nine, I started writing stories on our family’s first computer, a black and white Macintosh. I used to throw myself in front of the screen whenever someone in my family so much as strolled by the office door. I would have died if anyone saw my stories.

This highly protective behavior lasted years. If I felt like I’d “finished” with something, I could let the outside world look, like when I started writing plays that people had to read in order to, you know, memorize and act in them. But anything else I kept carefully guarded.

When I became a teenager, the feeling of “finishing” almost never came, so I almost never showed anyone anything. My critical eye — the ability to look at something and say “that’s terrible” — developed much more quickly than any artistic ability, so I froze. It took many years of practice, in college and afterwards, to get used to the (essential, valuable) process of sharing unpolished work in order to try to make the work better. It was only because I shared rough material — in grad school, in particular — that I was able to write The Cost of All Things.

But I was writing all the time, even during the period when I was most hard on myself for the words not living up to what I imagined — the high school years. I carried (and still always carry) a notebook with me everywhere, and when I was bored or angry or sad, I’d write it out.

I kept all of these notebooks.


I have no problem in front of crowds, bugs are gross but much smaller than me, and I can handle roller coasters if I psych myself up for them. If I’m being honest my biggest fear is probably being cut adrift in space like Sandra Bullock in Gravity, but there’s no good way to confront that here (THANK GOD). So I’ll return to a deeper, more personal fear.

I am going to open a notebook and let you see what’s inside.

I grabbed one randomly from the box; it was from fall of my junior year. Let’s see what we’ve got! I blacked out names and initials, though honestly, I don’t remember who any of them are. Naturally, there are a lot of descriptions of/meditations on boys.


Quotes from things I was reading.


Some half-hearted attempts at poetry.


Cheerful late-90s fashion ideas.


But mostly, I used the notebook as a companion in boredom, picking it up whenever I had a moment to myself, writing free associations about the things I felt.


There’s a lot of angst and worry and heartbreak in the notebooks, because they were a place I could let go of all that stuff, or at least try to understand it. For many years, I dreaded looking at the notebooks almost as much as I feared someone else reading them, because they were so weighted down with emotion. But I’m glad I had them, and I’m very glad I kept them.

And now they’re on the internet. Yikes!

Maggie Lehrman is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up outside of Chicago and went on to get a degree in English at Harvard, where she once received a grant to purchase young adult books the library didn’t have. During her decade of working as an editor of books for children, she also earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. The Cost of All Things is her first book. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr.


The 15th Happenings: May News


Launch Days

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5th: TRACKED by Jenny Martin
5th: FREAKS OF NATURE by Wendy Brotherlin
5th: MATERIAL GIRLS by Elaine Dimopoulos
5th: EXTRAORDINARY by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

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12th: THE COST OF ALL THINGS by Maggie Lehrman
12th: 5 TO 1 by Holly Bodger
12th: CROW’S REST by Angelica R. Jackson
19th: MADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia

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19th: CONVICTION by Kelly Loy Gilbert
26th: TINY PRETTY THINGS by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Sheila Grau sold three books to Amulet/Abrams!

Sheila Grau’s next two books in the DR. CRITCHLORE’S SCHOOL FOR MINIONS series, following the continuing adventures of Runt Higgins as he searches for his true parents while training to be an ideal minion for Evil Overlords in need, again to Erica Finkel at Amulet, in a two-book deal, by Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency (World English).

DR. CRITCHLORE’S SCHOOL FOR MINIONS author Sheila Grau’s THE BOY WITH SEVENTEEN SENSES, a reboot of Jack and the Beanstalk featuring a resourceful boy, a greedy neighbor, and a planet where every single inhabitant has synesthesia, to Erica Finkel at Amulet, by Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency (World English).

THE FIX by Natasha Sinel @YA Highway
DARKNESS BRUTAL by Rachel A. Marks @That Rachel

Of Interest
Fonda Lee discusses sports in speculative fiction over at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing

Kelly Jones talks chickens and epistolary novels at The Sweet Sixteens.

Natasha Sinel explores rejection at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire

Professional reviews
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman’s BOOK SCAVENGER made several lists, including:
Indies Introduce— Indie Next Kids’ Top Ten Pick for Summer/Fall 2015
— Indies Introduce New Voice Finalist
— Publisher Weekly Best Summer Reads 2015 selection
— Scholastic Instructor 50 Best Books for the Summer list

Also, BOOK SCAVENGER will have two launch parties on the west coast! June 5th at Linden Tree Books in Los Altos, CA, and June 6th at Book Passage Bookstore in San Francisco, CA

Fonda Lee will be at the “YA-landia” Author Fair on June 6th, at the B&N Tanasbourne in Portland.

CLAYTON STONE, AT YOUR SERVICE by Ena Jones was featured among the BEA 2015: Can’t-Miss Kids’ Galleys!

Kelly Jones’ UNUSUAL CHICKENS FOR THE EXCEPTIONAL POULTRY FARMER is an Amazon Best Books for May (for ages 9-12).


tessaelwoodTessa Elwood designs sites & haunts various highways in her four-wheeled baby. Her YA, INHERIT THE STARS, arrives 12/2015 from Running Press.

Q&A with MG author, Sarah McGuire


Next up on Fearless Fifteeners’ Wednesday Q&As is MG author,Sarah McGuire, whose debut, VALIANT, is out now. We’ve got a bio and book blurb at the end of the post but right now we’re skipping straight to ogres. Fearless or what?!


1. You wake up to find a massive ogre in your bedroom. If you had to choose one MG character to fight him off who would you choose and why?
Hermione. Granted, the whole troll in the girls’ bathroom incident didn’t go too well, but you know she could handle it now.


2. Having defeated the ogre, you find that your car doesn’t start. Bummer. Would you rather ride a dragon or a unicorn to work? Why?
Dragon. (Especially if it had Bennedict Cumberbatch’s voice.) How amazing would that be to fly to work? And if we could torch a few things along the way, so much the better.


3. After arriving at work late, your boss asks you what your most embarrassing childhood memory was. You have to tell him. 
I was eleven years old and my family was visiting the family of a boy I had the hugest crush on. Later that afternoon, we were roasting marshmallows around a bonfire. I wasn’t wasn’t a girl to slowly roast her marshmallow over the coals– I held the marshmallow right above the flames, and it caught on fire almost immediately.
So, of course, I began waving the marshmallow around. What could be more attractive to your crush than dancing around with a flaming marshmallow? (This story would be so different if I’d taken the time to truly consider that question!) In my enthusiasm, the marshmallow flew off the stick, and . . . stuck to my forehead. Fortunately, I’d been swinging it hard enough that the flame went out before it smacked me in the face. I spent the next few minutes picking melted marshmallow out of my hair and putting aloe on my burned forehead.
You will not be shocked to discover that the relationship did NOT work out.


4. You’re pretty fed up now so when a time machine appears offering to take you to any historical event, you agree. Where do you go and why?
Can I be a total geek and just say a meeting of the Inklings? The Chronicles of Narnia were the first books I read as I kid, and when I was older, I tore through the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When I learned that Lewis and Tolkien used to get together and talk writing, I almost died. For me, that WAS a historical event.


5. There is light at the end of the tunnel. As a Fearless Fifteener, your debut is out this year. Tell us about your book in 15 words or less.
Smart girl dresses as tailor. Giants with heart. Villain without one. Can she prevent war?



Reggen still sings about the champion, the brave tailor. This is the story that is true.

Saville despises the velvets and silks that her father prizes more than he’s ever loved her. Yet when he’s struck ill she’ll do anything to survive–even dressing as a boy and begging a commission to sew for the king.
But piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants, led by a man who cannot be defeated, marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.
Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. After she tricks them into leaving, tales of the daring tailor’s triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And stories won’t deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army.
Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.


McGuire, blog hop

Sarah McGuire loves fairy tales and considers them the best way to step outside of everyday life. They’re the easiest way, at least: her attempt at seven to reach Narnia through her parents’ closet failed. She lives within sight of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches high school creative writing and math classes with very interesting word problems. Valiant is her first novel.


YA Q&A with Holly Bodger


In this week’s Q&A YA Wednesday, we’ve got, Holly Bodger, whose debut 5 to 1 is out May 12, 2015 (next week!) You can read the blurb and check out the cover, along with Holly’s bio and super cool pic at the end of the post—but first, check out her answers to these fearless questions.

1. You wake up one morning and, OMG, you’re a cat! What’s the first thing you do with your new ability?

Go back to bed. Well, maybe I’ll whine for some food first. Then I’ll swat at someone and knock something breakable off the counter. After that, I’m definitely going back to bed.

2. Turns out your parents aren’t happy with your change. What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

I would contact Professor McGonagall. If she can turn into a cat, surely, she can help me stop being one. But I wouldn’t do this yet. Not until I have a nice, long nap.

Back to normal, you arrive at school and literally crash into your crush. He/she asks you why you’re shaken up. What do you tell him/her?

I’d say everything is fine. In fact, I’m feeling puuuurfect.

4. He/she isn’t convinced you’re telling the truth—after all, it’s a pretty far fetched story. He/she suggests going somewhere to talk about it more. Where’s this dream date taking place?

Well, I’m probably still sad that I’m no longer a cat, so I’m going to say a laundromat. There’s nothing better than a nice basket of fresh laundry (preferably something in a dark color so my fur will be really obvious!)

5. It might not be true love yet, but there is a Happily Ever After in your near future. As a Fearless Fifteener, your book is out this year. Tell us about it in 140 characters or less.

5 TO 1 is about the future effects of gender selection in India.



A long-time resident of Ottawa, Canada, Holly has been working in publishing since she graduated with an English degree from the University of Ottawa. 5 TO 1 is Holly’s debut novel.

5 TO 1


In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, Koyanagar–a country severed from India–now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, and women are an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of wedding their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife. But after fighting so hard for freedom against the old ways of gender selection, these women have become just as deluded as their male predecessors. Sudasa Singh doesn’t want to be a wife and Kiran, a boy competing to be her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, each thwarts the other until they slowly realize that they might want the same thing.