3 Questions and a #YA Giveaway: THE ONE THING by debut author Marci Lyn Curtis

That YA novel you can’t put down?

The one you wish you had written?

The one that couldn’t possibly be by a debut YA author because Curtis seamlessly combines genuine imperfectly-passionate characters, best-made soccer plans, that guy with the guitar, and a spark of magic you’d expect from Sarah Dessen or Stephanie Perkins?

THIS BOOK, my friends.

my friends.

I received an arc of THE ONE THING (Disney/Hyperion) by Marci Lyn Curtis at an SCBWI conference a few months ago, where I happened to sit next to her agent (Shout out to Kathleen Rushall of  Marsal Lyon Literary Agency!) and instantly fell in love with characters Maggie, Ben, and Mason–as well as the intriguing premise. And let me just say that Curtis fully delivers.

FYI--Marci Lyn Curtis is not my little sister, or my daughter, my neighbor (although she did grow up in northern California), or my best friend. We are Twitter pals ( @Marci_Curtis ), but really all I know about Curtis I’ve learned from her bio:

She attended college in California and “met an amazing guy in a military uniform. Two college-aged kids and one dachshund later, she lives in Maryland, where she laughs too loudly and eats peanut butter off spoons.”

What YOU need to know is that she wrote a kick-a#& YA novel.

But don’t take my word for it:

“Funny, sweet, and hopeful.”-Kirkus Reviews

“Sometimes lost things are not truly lost, we just have to look for them in new places. The One Thing hits this important note, and the music is beautiful.”—Courtney C. Stevens, author of Faking Normal, The Blue-haired Boy, and The Lies About Truth. 

“The Thing about The One Thing is that the fresh voice, laugh out loud humor, and characters who cling to your heart make it unforgettable.” –Kristin Rae, author of Wish You Were Italian

 “The One Thing is heart-burstingly good. So smart and funny and tender and romantic! I wish I wrote this book.”– Sharon Huss Roat, author of Between the Notes.

Click here to read a synopsis.

(No spoilers, I promise.)

You might also like the playlist posted on HER BOOK THOUGHTS: AUTHOR TAKEOVER.


AND….in celebration of the fact that THE ONE THING releases Sept. 8, 2015, via Disney-Hyperion, I asked Curtis three questions…

(See below for the GIVEAWAY!)

1. What was the most surprising discovery you made while writing this novel?

This: I’m not a writer.

Probably that sounds weird, seeing that I wrote The One Thing. But here’s the deal—I don’t actually feel as though I wrote it. I feel like the story wrote itself. And whenever I got in the way of that process, whenever I tried to strong-arm the story or nudge it in a different direction, that’s when I ran into problems. So my biggest realization? I didn’t have to write; I just had to listen.

2. Which character is most like you? Mason, Ben, Maggie, Clarissa, Hilda or Mrs. Milton?

Oh, wow. There’s a little bit of me in all those characters. I wish I could say I’m exactly like Ben, because how great would that be? Ben is so…Ben. But in reality, I’d have to say I’m probably half-Maggie, half-Mason.

I know, I know. That’s cheating.

Still, though. Still.

It’s true. I’m split right down the middle: partly the quick-witted, determined Maggie, and partly the devoted, creatively minded Mason.

3.What was the most difficult scene to write?

The hardest scene for me, with every book, is always the opening scene. Dear God: that opening scene. I don’t know why, but until I have it absolutely perfect, I can’t continue on with the rest of the story. So I will spend weeks (okay, months) on it, obsessing until it’s flawless.

It’s a disease, this first-scene thing.

Now, there were some super easy scenes to write, scenes that had been with me, literally, since day one. (Yes, Marci, let’s start discussing this entirely different topic…) The scene where Maggie walks into her room the first time since she lost her sight? That one? That scene had been part of me for so long while the story built in my head that it felt like my own memory. Same thing with the beach scene—the mirror, the stars, the kiss, the crying, the everything—I couldn’t get it all on the page quickly enough.


Huge thanks to Marci for taking time for this interview. I love THE ONE THING so much, I’d loan you my arc but my daughter’s friends are devouring it now.

Instead–RT this post on Twitter by midnight, August 5th with the hashtag #TheOneThingGIVEAWAY @erindealey @Marci_Curtis to be eligible for an International/US GIVEAWAY of Marci’s very last arc. 

OR hey–purchase THE ONE THING at Barnes & Noble or  Indiebound or Amazon. 

East Coast peeps mark your calendars to help celebrate THE ONE THING’s September launch:

Saturday, September 12th, 6-8 P.M.
Barnes & Noble, Bel Air, MD.
Launch party for The One Thing.

Sunday, September 27th, time forthcoming.
Bel Air Library in Bel Air, MD.
YA panel at the Just Write. Writers Conference.

Saturday, October 24th, 5pm.
Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, VA.
YA panel with Cordelia Jensen, Sharon Huss Roat, and Jenn Marie Thorne.

Whatever you do, read slowly.

Because you won’t want it to end.

Because “circumstances don’t change us, They reveal us.”

Why I LOVE Skype & YOU Might Too.

Skype with Miss Zapp's 2ndsI’ve just returned from visiting 22 schools all over the world in twelve days.

1,000+ kids–all levels and cultures–and boy did we have fun!

IMG_1886 It was not the most direct route, mind you. 

California (Los Altos Hills) –> Illinois –> New Hampshire –> Texas (Fort Worth) –>

Malaysia –> Pakistan –>

U.A.E /Dubai (Kinders and then 5th) –> Connecticut –>

California (Santa Cruz)  –> Maryland –> Texas (San Antonio) –>

California (Orange –> Paso Robles –>  Sacramento –> San Gabriel) –>

Malaysia –> Florida –> Australia –> Ohio –> Pennsylvania –> Texas (Houston) –>

and I NEVER left home!

skype map My #WRAD15 turned into a World Read Aloud MARATHON!


Let me count the ways….

  • Not just because the teachers who Skype are curious, innovative, and LOVE offering  a variety of learning adventures to their students.
  •  Not just because today’s children are CITIZENS OF THE WORLD and it’s thrilling to be a part of their lives.
  • Not just because it’s a remarkable way to share my love of words, and writing, and books.

It’s because: (All of the above, plus–)


IMG_1888Kids ask wonderful questions!

Amy Bright's classAnd our love of words makes a difference.

“[One of my students] was a reluctant writer until we hit poetry where his creative side just took off. He was clearly excited to meet you and this drips through his blog post…”   IS Kuala Lumpur

Amy Bright 3“Thanks for taking the time to share your passion and love of writing/reading with the young people. It’s such an important investment that we do as a community to raise these kids.

You were so engaging and interactive with the vocab game. I hope you continue to spread this joy of Reading to everyone!”        Mr. Pham / USA

Why do I love Skype?

What’s not to love?

THANK YOU to all the teachers who helped make my adventure possible.


@SkypeClassroom. for helping to connect kids with WORDS,

and to Mrs. Morgan’s class for the cool video!

You’re the best!

If You Can Read This, Thank A Teacher–or Librarian

IMG_0077As we plow through January to the blizzard of BookLove events like I LOVE TO READ month, I’m reminded that READ ACROSS AMERICA, WORLD READ ALOUD DAY, even DR. SEUSS’ birthday would be nothing,



without teachers and librarians.

Let’s face it, dear author pals–if our friends and colleagues in the trenches, our fabulous Teacher and Librarian pals, did not take the time (between lesson plans, Daily Five, faculty meetings, assessment, parent conferences, STEM, flipped classrooms, Close Reading, Common Core and oh yeah–their own lives) to share the joy of READING, find just the right BOOKS to fuel the fires of young readers, and daily defend every child’s right to an education, where would we be?


Ottomon Elementary–where cool 5th graders still love books–and aren’t afraid to show it.

And yet, after Author visits, THEY’RE the ones thanking US!

IMG_1040IMG_0154How did we get so lucky?  How about turning the tables?

Hear ye, hear ye–

Let’s celebrate WE LOVE TEACHERS & LIBRARIANS month. Or perhaps all year long?



for all you do 24/7…

to make your classroom environment exciting, inspiring, safe, and full of discovery;

to not only challenge your students, but give them the confidence to meet each challenge;

to continually strive to meet their needs;

and in doing so–strive to keep learning, yourself.

G's class reading GoldieTHANK YOU Ottomon Elementary, Indian Creek, Brookside Elementary, Latrobe School, Miller’s Hill, Competitive Edge Charter Academy, Ridgeview Elementary, Gunter, Crabapple Crossing, Hobbs Williams, Noddin Elementary, Leimbach, A Mother’s Montessori, Louisiana Schnell School, and the United Auburn Indian Community Education/ Auburn Rancheria, for welcoming me into your schools in 2014, and allowing me to be a tiny part of their education.

2014-12-10 13.38.02THANK YOU Mr. Jim Bentley and your students at Foulks Ranch Elementary who made this cool book trailer for DECK THE WALLS:


Click image to view trailer. HUGE props to Mr. Bentley and students Genevieve, Naomi, and Noah, who spent three days during their November off-track time to edit and completed work on this film on their first day back after a 5 week vacation!

THANK YOU Teachers Write! participants,  California PK1, Placer Area Reading Council, California Reading Association, California Capital Book Festival,  Arden-Dimmick Library, Cameron Park Library, Rocklin Friends of the Library–for going the extra mile, and inviting me along.

CCBF_AuthorBadgeWhenever I watch the news or read the headlines, I wish the stories were about the POSITIVE work you do. Because NONE of us–authors, journalists, news anchors, firefighters, police, secretaries, bus drivers, engineers, celebrities, CEOs, politicians, nurses, doctors, lawyers, presidents, HUMAN BEINGS–would be anywhere if we hadn’t had someone like you in our lives.

Henry Adams   Thank you for making a difference in this world.

I don’t have the key to a city, or an official proclamation, but nevertheless~

I hereby declare 2015

to be the Year of the Educator.

Hope it’s your best year yet.

Writing Non-Fiction: 5 reasons why author Connie Goldsmith is da bomb…literally.

Connie Goldsmith picMeet CONNIE GOLDSMITH:

  • AWARD WINNING AUTHOR of fourteen books (15th, 16th, and 17th in progress!)
  • former Assistant RA of SCBWI CA North/Central
  • Children’s Book reviewer –of over 700 books for regional parenting publications as well as the New York Journal of Books–

—> Anyone thinking of writing non-fiction for kids can learn a lot from this amazing author. (Pictured above, at the California Reading Association Professional Development Institute last month.)

Goldsmith’s books have been highly praised by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Science Teachers Association, California Readers, the Children’s Book Committee (Bank Street College of Education), the Children’s Book Council, and the Society of School Librarians International.

She has written for numerous children’s magazines such as Cricket and Highlights, as well as for the SCBWI Bulletin, Children’s Writer, and Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market.

BOB_Cover-330Her most recent book, BOMBS OVER BIKINI: the World’s First Nuclear Disaster (Lerner), is the first nonfiction book written for young people about the US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands, and a Junior Library Guild Selection for 2014; recommended by the National Science Teachers Association; rated as outstanding by the Association of Children’s Librarians of Northern California

—–>TEACHERS: BOMBS OVER BIKINI makes a perfect non-fiction pairing with Theodore Taylor’s YA novel, THE BOMB, about a boy who tries (and fails) to save Bikini. *** Check out the awesome BOMBS OVER BIKINI STUDY GUIDE pdf by Lerner here.

This book offers a riveting tale of the aftermath of U.S. nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. The tests themselves and the lives of the Marshall Islanders directly affected by the resulting radiation contamination are described in engrossing detail. Sidebars, quotes from primary sources, and period photographs supplement the informative and thought-provoking narrative.”  Horn Book review





1.  CONNIE GOLDSMITH finds inspiration everywhere:

Bravo explodes over Bikini in 1954.

Bravo explodes over Bikini in 1954.

Did you know: BOMBS OVER BIKINI was inspired by a Sacramento Bee article about a reunion of the actual Rongelap refugees who survived the toxic cloud of radiation over Rongelap Atoll and other nearby inhabited Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean?

Like all good non-fiction, it made me want to know more, so I asked Connie…

Q:  Were you able to interview any refugees in person?

Goldsmith: “It was a full year after I first read the Bee article in April, 2011 before I began working on the book. The reunion was long over and the attendees had scattered.”

“However, after the Sacramento Bee reviewed BOB, a retired sailor contacted me. He lived only 15 miles away, and he was a veteran of the nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll. He was there in 1946 for the second bomb. He is a fascinating man and at 84, still remembered that day very well. I enjoyed meeting with him and hearing about his experiences in person.” (Full interview on Lerner website here.).


2. CONNIE GOLDSMITH digs deep:

Sailors scrubbing radiation.

Sailors scrubbing radiation. BOMBS OVER BIKINI

Did you know: Within hours after a blast, Navy crews dressed in shorts and tennis shoes were sent in to swab the decks of vessels involved in the nuclear explosions? They ate and slept on board the contaminated target ships as well! Animals were enlisted as test subjects including goats and pigs.

Q. What is the biggest surprise you learned from writing BOMBS OVER BIKINI?

Goldsmith: “I knew little about the US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the fact that the US set off 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1954. The radiation from those bombs amounted to 1.6 Hiroshima sized bombs every day for twelve years! While some survivors and historians believe there was a government conspiracy to test radiation on people, I believe the mistakes the US made were due to a combination of arrogance and ignorance. Little was known about the long-term effects of radiation at the time.”


3. CONNIE GOLDSMITH writes non-fiction that feeds our minds and touches our hearts.

“I began to feel a fine powder falling all over my body and into my eyes. The coconuts had changed color. By now all the trees were white, as well as my entire body. I didn’t believe this was dangerous. The powder fell all day and night over the entire atoll of Rongelap.” – – – – – John Anjain, Mayor of Rongelap Island, recalling the fallout from the Bravo explosion, 1954.

Q. How does your process of writing nonfiction differ from writing a novel?

Goldsmith: “While I have novels in progress, I’ve only been published in nonfiction. Certainly, there is far more research involved when writing nonfiction. The sources for quotes and facts requires careful documentation. And it’s a challenge to turn hard facts into a book that will capture the attention of young readers. That made the Horn Book’s recent review  (excerpt above) in which the reviewer called BOB ‘riveting’ and ‘engrossing’ all the more meaningful to me.”


4. CONNIE GOLDSMITH does not let obstacles or tough issues stop her:

Q. What was the most difficult chapter to write?
Goldsmith: “The last chapter was the most difficult to write because it is about the present, and relevant information was in flux, poorly documented, inconsistent, or inaccessible. It was tricky to discover how much money had been awarded to the Marshall Islands, when and by whom. It was discouraging to discover how little of it had actually reached the hands of the injured islanders and their families so many years later. And the government agency responsible for monitoring current radiation levels refused to give me any new information about when the contaminated islands could be resettled – if ever.”


5. CONNIE GOLDSMITH loves learning new things:

 Goldsmith: “To me, writing nonfiction is like being a perpetual grad student without the tuition and term papers. I enjoyed reading the many interviews about the people of the Marshall Islands, and interviewing experts about Bikini and Rongelap. I enjoyed meeting the WWII veteran (referenced above).

Click image to view trailer.

Click image to view trailer.

“And it was especially rewarding to meet the young student filmmakers at Curiosity Films who made my book trailer  as part of their class project.”

 Q. Which term might best describe your path as an author? 

The Lucky Dragon
Trapped in a bunker

Goldsmith: “Like a fission explosion releases a number of random nuclei as part of the chain reaction, my writing has split off in many directions and has taken me in directions and to places I’d never known before. There is no lucky dragon involved! It’s hard work.

Did you know: You can follow CONNIE GOLDSMITH on Twitter : @ConnieGoldsmith or Facebook? And find out more information about BOMBS OVER BIKINI (“BOB”) at bombsoverbikini.com , as well as recent BOB reviews on “A Book and a Hug” and “Non-Fiction Monday.

Happy Reading and Writing!


Writing Non-Fiction, PLASTIC AHOY! & “What I did last summer”…

Patti Newman and plasticHow did author Patricia Newman’s new book, PLASTIC, AHOY! change my summer plans?  No, this isn’t a throwback to that annual prompt my teachers greeted us with:

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

This post celebrates an important non-fiction title that can alter a seemingly harmless mindset in your class or your family, and teach kids ways to help save our planet.

Patti Newman new cover 6.3.13In PLASTIC, AHOY!, Newman (pictured above with her own plastic discoveries) and award-winning photographer Annie Crawley chronicle a research expedition known as SEAPLEX, and scientists who study the massive “island” of plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean known as

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

PLASTIC, AHOY! (Millbrook/ Lerner) not only shows how the scientific method is used in this investigation, it opens readers’ eyes to the basics of ocean science and

the hazards of our dependency on plastics.

Patti and I have been writing pals for years, and Co-Regional Advisors of SCBWI CA North/Central, so I took the message of her book to Fine Arts Camp where I teach Theater and–

IMG_0390–we’ll get to how PLASTIC, AHOY! helped to change our habits at Sugarloaf below… 

IMG_0455But first, a short interview to to thank Patricia Newman and PLASTIC, AHOY! for the nudge I needed to decrease my plastic consumption:

Q: Which best describes the process of writing a non-fiction book like PLASTIC, AHOY!

  1. The Scientific Method
  2. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  3. The North Pacific Central Gyre
  4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle   

Patti: I’d never thought about the writing process in terms of the vocabulary in PLASTIC, AHOY! before. Actually the writing process has elements of all four items in your list.

Like the scientific method, I began with a tiny snippet of information, a news article,
from which questions grew. Research is a bit of an experiment to find answers to those questions and to uncover others. The results make their way into the book in the form of story, scientific facts, and the conclusions I draw.

But if you saw my office and my floor-as-file-drawer filing system, you might conclude that my writing process resembles the swirling currents that surround the North Pacific Central Gyre and spit trash into the Garbage Patch.

With any nonfiction project, I gather more material than I can possibly use in one book, so I’m forced to Reduce. I Reuse and Recycle information in various blog posts about PLASTIC, AHOY! and new projects on the horizon.

Q: What was the most surprising fact or discovery you made while writing this book?

Patti: Scientists in Woods Hole, MA counted 7,000 different kinds of bacteria–not individuals–rafting on a tiny piece of plastic no larger than your pinky fingernail. The bacteria attract single-celled grazers which in turn attract larger consumers and predators. Before you know it, an entire Who-ville (to borrow a phrase from Dr. Seuss) hitchhikes aboard a confetti-sized floating piece of trash.

7,000 different kinds of bacteria!

Q: Who are some of your environmental heroes?

Patti:  The three scientists who take center stage in PLASTIC, AHOY! top the list:

Miriam Goldstein, Darcy Tanaguchi, and Chelsea Rochman

(To see where they are now, visit the Ocean Plastics thread on Newman’s blog).

My award-winning photographer Annie Crawley protects the ocean every day through school visits and diving programs that teach kids to respect it. By the way, everyone calls her Ocean Annie!

Since the release of PLASTIC, AHOY! Newman says she’s met many other heroes, too:

o Mike Biddle is a Walnut Creek, California resident and the CEO of MBA Polymers, a plastics recycling company. Mike not only recycles plastic, he strips it down to its essence and reprocesses it into the basic building blocks–or nurdles if you’ve read Plastic, Ahoy!–which he sells back to manufacturers of electronics, coffee machines, and vacuum cleaners, to name a few (listen to his TED talk). Popular Science profiled Mike in the March 2014 issue as “the man who could free the world from making new plastic. Forever.” Mike also founded the Plasticity Forum, an influential dialogue on our world of plastic.

o COASST, a team of citizen scientists from Washington, have noticed patterns in the debris that washes ashore from ocean currents and wave action. They categorize the debris to see what kinds of trash washes up and when. From these data, they hope to determine if different species are more vulnerable during different times of the year based on the patterns.

Newman is quick to add that, “Adults aren’t the only ones saving the environment. I’ve Skyped with two groups of students who win Environmental Hero status.”

o First grade students at W. E. Striplin Elementary School in Alabama decided to reduce the amount of Styrofoam in their lunchroom. The students received permission to switch to reusable trays for several weeks to understand how much Styrofoam first graders alone could eliminate. The lunchroom produced an average of eight garbage bags of trash a day. The first graders cut the garbage output by two bags per day with reusable trays. Now their focus is to eliminate Styrofoam in the lunchroom for all grades.

o The Recycling Club at Calf Pen Meadow School in Milford, Connecticut initiates projects for the entire school that encourage fellow students to focus on the environment.

Q: What are some other ways that PLASTIC, AHOY! readers have reduced their plastic footprint? 

Patti: People love to tell me how they are saving the ocean. I’ve had reports of readers reminding themselves to carry reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic ones. My daughter spreads the news through the San Diego Zoo blog for which she writes. Others have said no to Styrofoam “doggie bags” and instead wrapped their leftovers in aluminum foil. Some participate in coastal cleanups. One friend took one of my blog posts to her local Safeway to argue against their use of plastic grocery sacks.

The point is that everyone can be an environmental hero. Reduce your single-use plastic consumption. Reuse what you already have on hand. And Recycle what you can’t use–chances are your local waste department recycles more kinds of plastic than you think. Have you checked the list lately?

For more information about Patti and PLASTIC, AHOY! check out these blog posts:

“Chatting Non-fiction Writing with Patricia Newman” by Joy Preble.

“Naturally Speaking” by Nancy Castaldo.

“Patricia Newman Has a Cause, and once kids read her NF book, they will too!” on the SCBWI blog by Lee Wind

And since you’re still reading, for decades at Sugarloaf Fine Arts Camp, where I am “Drama Mama,” aka head of the Theater program, I’ve purchased flats of plastic bottled water to give our thirsty performers after the final production. After reading PLASTIC, AHOY!, I did the math: Forty-eight water bottles X two sessions each year for over twenty years adds up.


This summer, each student filled their own reusable SUGARLOAF water bottle which we had ready for them after final bows.

IMG_0388 - CopySuch a simple solution, right?

Pass it on!

Accept the challenge:

Share PLASTIC, AHOY! with your school, or class, or family. I’d love to hear what solutions they come up with to take care of our planet!