Everyone is decrying the death of the local, independent bookstore.  So let’s do something about it!  On the first Saturday of the summer, June 25th, go to your local indie (or call Powells and have them ship  to you) and buy a book!  Buy one for yourself, buy one for someone you love, buy one for a gift.  If everyone did that on just one day — wow!!  The numbers would spike like crazy!  And if everyone kept doing that — even more wow!

In Chicago, where I live, we have some exceptional choices in indies.  And here they are, just in case you’re in the area and don’t know:

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore

Women and Children First

57th Street Books

Seminary Co-op

Newberry Library Bookstore

The Book Cellar

Read Between the Lynes

Anderson’s Bookshop

And that’s just to get you started!  To find even more indies, go to Indiebound and click on find bookstores.  You’ll see what’s near you and find some recommendations for great books, too.

Pick your book, pick your bookstore, go shopping on June 25th!

Chris Barton’s Blog Tour Part II

Chris Barton’s new book is Can I See Your ID? True Stories of False Identities.  Inside are ten fascinating stories of great impostors including a high school dropout who poses as a navy surgeon and a female slave who poses as a white man to escape the south during the Civil War.  It’s an amazing book that really gets you inside the head of these fakers, showing motivation, how it all played out and what happened next.

Chris has some answers to a few questions about fakes, posers and writing.

What inspired you to take on the topic of false identities?

The individual stories I was already aware of — such as Frank Abagnale, Keron Thomas, John Howard Griffin, and Riley Weston — were intriguing to me on their own. But I was also curious to see what I’d learn and could convey to readers by digging into a whole bunch of these stories. Would I find that these people, who had such different situations and motivations, had common experiences and emotions? Were there recurring tricks of the trade? I go into that a lot in the book’s afterword.

Is there one of the 10 in the book that’s a favorite, and why?

I’m especially partial to Keron Thomas’ story. When he was 16 years old in 1993, he impersonated a New York City subway motorman and drove the A train for three hours. I got to interview both Keron and Regoberto Sabio, the motorman whose identity he borrowed, and so that story was the one that allowed me to get the closest, I think, to what actually went through the mind of one of these subjects during the masquerade.

Which do you prefer (if you do) writing — fiction or non-fiction?

If I had a clear preference, my career would be a lot more linear. So far, I’ve done a picture book biography, and SHARK VS. TRAIN, and now this YA nonfiction project, and I’ve got another Shark and Train book and another pair of picture book biographies in the works, plus a middle-grade novel that I’m itching to get to. I prefer writing, period.

Thanks to Chris.

To see more of this tour, check out Peter Salomon’s and Jean Reidy’s blogs.  In a few days, check out Ruth McNally Barshaw’s page to see action sketches of Chris!  And in June 2011, look for more on Jenny Ziegler’s blog.

Chris’ other books are the wonderful Day-Glo Brothers and Shark Vs Train.  Get them all!

The Incredible Chris Barton Blog Tour!

Chris Barton, author of The Day-Glo Brothers and Shark vs. Train is taking his newest book, Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities on a blog tour with some of his fellow EMLA (Erin Murphy Literary Agency) clients.  The first post is already up at Peter Salomon’s blog.  Next, get even more information about Chris and his book at Jean Reidy’s site on May 2nd.  And right here on May 4th.  Then take a look at Ruth McNally Barshaw’s sketches of Chris on May 7th.

Go to all four places and see the whole interview!

Retreat and Review

I just got back from a retreat in Austin with clients and agents from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. It was wonderful, fabulous, and reviving. And then I found this great review for Blood and Flowers from Diary of a Bookworm, aka Rhiannon!

Blood and Flowers, by Penny Blubaugh

“Sent out to me by the lovely folks at HarperTeen, Blood and Flowers was one of those books I’d heard a little about and was excited to see for myself. I love a good surprise read where you don’t know much before you get into it. So I patiently waited for Thurman to read it (I’ve been waiting to read a lot of my books lately! The hubby’s been monopolising The Beyonders, Thurman- Blood and Flowers! yesh!), and then I dug in.

The Outlaws, a mishmash group of outcasts who have become a close knit group of friends through their puppet theater troupe, are in trouble. Their political commentary puppet shows could well get them thrown in jail from accusations of magic and distributing the dangerous pink drinks. So as a last resort they disappear to faerie, only to find that their troubles have followed them. Will they survive the land of Blood and Flowers?

Although a fairly popular area of YA, Penny manages to write a really unusual twist to faeries. She throws them into our world as a known and feared entity, makes them dangerous outcasts instead of mystical creatures. The racist undertones and comments, when it comes to them, are an unusual slant and it gave the story a very different feel from the run of the mill Faerie stories.

The true win of this story for me, is the telling, without question. Blood and Flowers is enchantingly written as well as being a story told in such an unusual way, it was bordering on Shakespeare quality poetry. Penny proved herself a story teller worthy of such an exotic tale.
Nicholas was sitting on the thick, concrete steps when I got back, framed by the porch railings and the front door lintel. Casual as a saturday afternoon, at least at first glance. At second glance he was more like rush hour on a Monday morning.
This story left me breathless long after I read it, and has left me wanting much more of Penny’s work. The good news is her first book Serendipity Market is now out in paperback. The bad news is it’s her only other work right now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she’s working on something new. In the meantime, if you haven’t added Blood and Flowers to your To-Be-Read pile, make sure to pick it up next time you’re in the library or local bookstore. You won’t be disappointed.”

If I get reviews this great when I leave town I should go away more often!

Dreaming in Books Review

From John at Dreaming in Books comes this just-posted review of Blood and Flowers. I love the part where he says, “I have certain things that I love to read about, and theater is one of them. I’m a theater geek during the marching band off-season. It’s in my blood. Drama, at least. An off kilter UF/Fae interpretation of theater with puppets just sounded crazy enough for me to love it. I’m always up for a YA paranormal read that is delightfully out of the box. With a little bit of surprise, this book lived up to my expectations.”

With comments like, “Blubaugh’s writing is a savory mix of simplicity and jarring images,” and a thoughtful approach to the book and its characters, this is a nicely nuanced review. Check it out.


Last month was National Puppet Month. This Month, the Chicagoland Puppetry Guild celebrates its 50th anniversary. And because there are so many puppets in Blood and Flowers it seems appropriate to mention one of the best things you can find in Chicago — Puppet Bike!

Puppet bike can show up anywhere at any time. I’ve stood on street corners in the middle of the winter, feeding coins to the dancing rabbits and lions. I’ve seen them in the fall at Banned Books events. I hear they were the featured performers at a corporate Christmas Party. It’s like they come out of a secret mist and suddenly appear right in front of you. They’re wonderful!

If you aren’t lucky enough to live in Chicago, click the link and take a tour of Puppet Bike.

Kid Lit for Japan Auction

Help the victims of the Japanese earthquake and get incredibly cool stuff!! Including signed copies of Serendipity Market and Blood and Flowers.

The auction starts at 9 a.m. eastern time, but check out the page now or use the hashtag #Kidlit4Japan on Twitter to see what’s being auctioned next!