BEA 2016



I and a bunch of other Sweet Sixteen authors (young adult and middle grade authors debuting in 2016) will be heading to BEA in Chicago… NEXT WEEK. If you’ll be there come get signed copies or chat about books and writing with us:



5/11 3:00-3:30, Erica Chapman, TEACH ME TO FORGET, Table 1

5/12 10-10:30, Audrey Coulthurst, FIRE AND STARS, Table 4

5/12 10-10:30, Isabel Bandeira, BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER, Table 14

5/12 11-11:30, Lisa Koosis, RESURRECTING SUNSHINE, Booth 2201

5/12 1-2:00, Robin Yardi, THE MIDNIGHT WAR OF MATEO MARTINEZ, Table 12

5/12 1:30-2:30, Chelsea Sedoti, THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT, Booth 2333

5/12 3-3:30, Julie Leung, MICE OF THE ROUND TABLE, Table 10

5/12 3:30-4:30, Paula Garner, PHANTOM LIMBS, Booth 1529

5/13 11-12:00, Casey Lyall, HOWARD WALLACE PI, Booth 1467

5/13 11-12:00, Jeff Giles, EDGE OF EVERYTHING, Table 6

5/13 11:30-12, Stephanie Garber, CARAVAL, Booths 1958 & 1959

5/13 12:30-1:30, Dana Elmendorf, SOUTH OF SUNSHINE, Booth 2201

5/13 1-1:30, Kerri Maniscalco, STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, Table 11




Blog Tour Roundup Giveaway

Some spectacular book bloggers have been hosting spotlights, interviews, and book giveaways for THE MIDNIGHT WAR OF MATEO MARTINEZ! As the book makes its way around the internet, I’ll be adding links here. Just choose an icon to read more:

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To celebrate my blog tour I’m giving away a signed hardcover and a scratch-and-sniff-read-along bookmark! Just leave a comment on this post to enter… tell me what your FAVORITE or LEAST favorite smell is! I’ll announce a winner on April 1 (for real, no fooling)!!


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Box of Books!


My publisher is giving away 3 boxes filled with Spring 2016 ARCs on Twitter! The boxes include the Kirkus-starred titles Scar Girl by Len Vlahos, The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez by Robin Yardi (THAT’S ME!), The Bolds by Julian Clary, and The Maypop Kidnapping by Cynthia Surrisi!

All you need to do to enter is tweet this line: “Win a free galley box full of Spring 2016 titles from @LernerBooks! bit.ly/1OrSN

They’ll reveal the winners on Tuesday afternoon, December 22!

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They Just Know: Animal Instincts

It’s official–the new book is here–there were cupcakes and everything!

We all had an amazing time at the book launch party at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Thank you all for making it perfect! The snake making station was an especially big hit. Kids learned that instinctual behaviors are associated with different scale patterns and got to design their own snake species. They were all ssSssspectacularly colorful!

Willa MakeaSnake

To celebrate the book’s release there is a book giveaway running on Goodreads until October 20th. Click the book cover below to enter!



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Greg Pizzoli on TRICKY VIC

I never boo books, but over in the Nonficiton Nook I’m giving one a theatrical hisssssss. Make way for a vaudeville-worthy villain, a crook, a conman — it’s GregPizolli’s TRICKY VIC!

I’ll be picking two marks to win signed copies. So sneak on over to the Nook and read my interview with Geisel Award winner Greg Pizzoli!

GP TrickyVic

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Today I’m posting double interviews with debut picture book author Dianne White & Caldecott medal winning illustrator Beth Krommes. I’ll be giving away two copies of their new book, BLUE ON BLUE, signed by both the author and the artist over in The Nonfiction Nook–go take a look!

Dianne White BlueonBluecover beth

BLUE ON BLUE is a thing of beauty! Dianne’s graceful and spare poem of a stormy day is the like the sound of rain on a roof, rhythmic, comforting, and thrilling. Beth’s visual world is the earth on which that rain falls. The book, pictures and words together, is a house, a cozy world where family, childhood, and home are connected with the wonder of the natural world.

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Early in the morning on July 2, 2014, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 was launched into space from Vandenberg AFB on a Delta-II rocket. Once positioned in orbit OCO2’s mission will be studying the carbon cycle on earth–watching Earth breathe. It’s measurements will be key to the science community’s understanding of climate change and will help inform future global environmental policy. But only if we get good data. Early Wednesday morning, after a scrubbed launch the day before, the mission made its 30-second launch window, achieved separation, polar orbit, and deployed its solar arrays. And I got to be there with a crew of #NASASocial observers, or pretty close anyway.

Back in 2009 that didn’t happen. The original observatory failed to separate from the payload fairing, you know, “the rocket,” and never achieved orbit. After it reentered our atmosphere it crashed into the Indian Ocean. I wasn’t there that night but I know it took only 17 minutes to go from a perfect launch to a really wet landing, and I know the loss to science was felt deeply across the Earth.

So when I was invited to participate in the NASA Social event covering the new mission I was pretty darn excited. Cue my Muppet flail. Participants were allowed to ask the project engineers and scientists ANYTHING we wanted during the social press conference. After that we all got to take a tour of Vandenberg AFB, viewing each of the Space Launch Complexes, called “SLICKS”, and the Space and Missile Heritage Center, which includes an exhibit on the chronology of the cold war. Pretty much everyone took at least one #RocketSelfie and pretty much everyone felt some form of gratitude that the folks sitting at “the button” were surrounded my soothing sea-foam green and never had to push it.


Then we all headed up to the public viewing area for the 2:56 AM launch. In the dark. In the cold. All together. I think we were expecting to see something like this:

Well, that video was taken A LOT closer to Space Launch Complex 2, where the Delta II rocket was launched. Our gracious tour guides let us know that we wouldn’t WANT to be right up close during launch. That if we were standing where the camera was… we would probably go deaf and definitely be arrested.

What we saw was this… a whole lotta fog. Everybody there started hysterically laughing once we realized that was ALL we were going to see.

So why were we all there, in the cold and the dark, if we weren’t going to SEE anything? Listen to that audio. AFTER our hysterical laughter you can hear everybody say, WHOA!

We didn’t see anything, but we FELT something. The rumbling vibration of sound that takes several seconds to travel across the Earth and up into the sky. Up into us. We felt that.

NASA Administrator and former astronaut, Charles Bolden, invited all the NASA Social attendees to do two things: enjoy ourselves and tell people how the launch made us feel.


That distant rumble that washed like waves over all of us made me feel like something is being done to steward our planet and that everyone who was watching and listening, whether they were at Vandenberg, or in their backyard, or leaning out their window, looking up at that sky, were feeling it too.

Now we are all still leaning out our windows and looking up at the sky, waiting for the data to come back to Earth.