Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thank you, Rick Spears!

I'm doing school visits at 19 elementary schools in central Washington in February alone (plus two more in Spokane -- yes, I am a little bit insane). So my illustrator friend Rick Spears created this terrific poster and an Explorer's Journal to go with it.

Can I just say, Rick Spears is one of the most generous people -- with his time and talents -- that I've ever known? He gets a little cranky over design choices from time to time. I think that goes with being a visual perfectionist (aka an illustrator). But he always comes through for me in the most amazing ways.

I'm grateful for his friendship and his major skills as an artist. Thank you, Rick! You're super cool!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A STAR in Kirkus???

It's true. GIRL MEETS BOY received a star in Kirkus Review and I couldn't be more pleased. The writers who shared their stories wrote such heartfelt, moving tales, they truly deserve the honor and I couldn't be more proud of them --me, Chris Crutcher, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Joseph Bruchac, Ellen Wittlinger, James Howe, Rita Williams-Garcia, Terry Trueman, Rebecca Davis, Terry Davis, Sara Ryan and Randy Powell. Thank you, to each of you! Thank you to Kirkus, too.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Last but not least...

...I had a talk with my editor at Running Press, Lisa Cheng, this morning. She was kind enough to give me a primer of what her house is looking for, in terms of future acquisitions. To say she'll know it when she sees it is not being unkind -- to her or to me or to US as a writing community. It's simply true. Certain books call out to book buyers, "Pick me up!" and that's what she's after.

HATCHLINGS -- which I found out today will have a textured, padded cover; FUN! -- is one of those books. Stunningly illustrated by Adam Relf, the oversized picture book with an adorable baby dinosaur on the cover is impossible NOT to notice. And each spread inside has that same impact. Lisa saw something in it I didn't even see.

That's the brilliance of this whole team experience -- publishers, editors, art directors, marketing people, sales teams, writers and illustrators. On our own, we're just people trying to make books. But put us all together, and it can be a recipe for magic.

I love the work I do, even on the days when I'm worried about paying my bills. I love it because of the kids. I love it because of the people who love kids. And I feel blessed to be doing what I love, especially this time of year.

Thank you -- everyone who's made my writing life possible. I am forever in your debt.


Thank you, Betsy Bird!

These blogs are out of order because I'm catching up for not posting the past couple of deadline heavy months. But WOW! I have to thank the one and only Betsy Bird for mentioning GIRL MEETS BOY and ALIEN INVESTIGATION in two of her recent SLJ blogs.

THANK YOU, on both counts! And yes, ghosts won't be too far behind. : )


Wow! People like it. They really like it. The Wall Street Journal reviewed IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH positively (yay!). The LA Times and the Chicago Tribune featured it in their holiday gift book suggestions. And the review journals seem to like it too. Beyond that, I've done several radio appearances for Bigfoot enthusiasts, and THAT was great fun. And I get to speak at a Bigfoot conference in the spring. Yippee!

I am so pleased and so relieved. IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH is very, very well researched and I hope well written. But it's still risky. Not everyone in the grown up world knows what Sasquatch is. Not every adult is willing to consider the quest for a mysterious beast that may or may not be real as a topic of interest.

I write for kids. And KIDS love the subject. That's why I wrote the book -- that and because I personally found the quest intriguing. The people who believe are so passionate and, to my great surprise COMpassionate. They don't want to mount the big guy's head on their walls. They want to document and protect it, if it turns out to be real. And I think that's a grand message for all readers. Strange things can be of infinite value.

Point is, I'm so relieved that the adults of my industry seem to be in sync with the kids -- and with me. And I'm floating on cloud nine as a result. Thank you, everyone who has been kind in their perceptions of IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH. I couldn't be more pleased.


Tardy me!

Man, so much has been going on, and I haven't blogged about it. Yikes! Probably okay, since almost no one follows my blog. Hee hee! Lucky me.

GIRL MEETS BOY, my anthology for Chronicle Books is about to be released -- in January -- and they are THE most amazing publishing pros. Man, they have business cards and discussion guides and a CONTEST planned. It's very exciting. The reviews are trickling in, too.

PW said:

Twelve writers answer Halls’s question: “What if a group of authors took on the challenge of perception—boys versus girls?” Together, they create a thoughtful collection of paired short stories (and one joint offering) that give two distinct perspectives on the same events. While romantically themed, the stories do not all end in love connections. In James Howe and Ellen Wittlinger’s stories, a gay teen learns the person he has been chatting with online is actually a girl; meanwhile, in Sarah Ryan and Randy Powell’s joint story, “Launchpad to Neptune,” a teen reunites with his first crush, only to find Stephanie has transitioned to Stephen. The most compelling twin stories may be from Terry Davis and Rebecca Fjelland Davis, which center on a Muslim immigrant and an Iowa farm girl in love; Rafi’s story explores prejudice and being caught between cultures, while Kerry begins a protest when she learns about a hog factory that will destroy their community. This story best exemplifies a theme that runs throughout: it’s impossible to know everything someone is thinking and feeling—even when you are in a relationship together. This important idea is executed with finesse throughout. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)

VERY nice. And GoodReads members are starting to comment too.

Thank you to anyone and everyone behind this book -- especially the writers who contributed brilliant stories. I really am grateful to everyone involved.


Friday, September 30, 2011

BTW...I also got...

... my author copies of IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH, but it won't be for sale until October 25, 2011. Just a little more time for me to sweat bullets wondering if people -- librarians and kids -- will like it. Man, I hope so. I love it.

THANK YOU, BooksForKidsBlog!

I am so pleased the brilliant mind behind BooksForKidsBlog decided to write about my new book, IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH. The review is so thoughtful and so well written, I could not be happier -- or luckier. Thank you, librarian GTC. You are the best!


Friday, September 23, 2011

Thanks Deborah and I.N.K.

How lucky can a gal get? Deborah Heiligman interviewed me for I.N.K. -- Interesting Nonfiction for Kids this week. She let me go on and on about IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH and the reason I write for kids.

Thank you, Deborah and I.N.K. I am honored.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kirkus Review -- SASQUATCH

I've been holding my breath, waiting for the first reviews for IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH (October 25, 2011, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). I can finally breathe easy. Kirkus loved it! It begins:

"A true believer presents the evidence. Expanding on a partial chapter in her outstanding Tales of the Cryptids (2006), Halls makes her case by tallying Native American legends, the many footprints and reported sightings (a map of the latter claims hundreds from every state except Hawaii), the famous Patterson-Gimlin film, the recorded 'Sierra Sounds' and other circumstantial evidence."

It gets better from there and closes with this sassy line, which I LOVE:

"...this is about as convincing as it gets—considering the continuing absence of any incontrovertible physical proof—and should give young cryptid hunters a good hairy leg up on investigations of their own."

Thank you, unknown Kirkus reviewer. You are my new best friend. Hoping the others are just as enthusiastic.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

PNLA Conference in Spokane -- Aug. 3, 2011

Please join me, Claire Rudolf Murphy and Kenn Nesbitt at the PNLA Conference at Spokane's Doubletree Hotel, downtown, at 1:00 pm! We'll be discussing the path to reluctant readers via three distinct avenues -- weird nonfiction (me), innovative history (Claire) and humor (Kenn). For more information, click HERE.

Friday, July 29, 2011

In Search of Sasquatch... only weeks from publication. Okay, more like months (October 2011), but only two months and I'm so excited. Working with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and my amazing editor Erica was such a treat. And the book we created is pretty amazing, too. I worked really hard on the research and I feel it represents the strongest evidence that Sasquatch may be real.

I'm not saying he IS real. I didn't not find PROOF in my research. That doesn't mean it's not out there. It just means I was unable to find proof beyond dispute. But the evidence is impressive and I did map out many of those details carefully. So I hope people really like the book -- especially kids.

I also hope I'll get to write IN SEARCH OF SEA MONSTERS as a follow up, but that depends on how well IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH does. So time will tell. But I hope ALIEN INVESTIGATION, from Lerner/Millbrook and HATCHLINGS: A LIFE SIZE LOOK AT BABY DINOSAURS, from Running Press will tide you over for 2012. More about those, soon.

On to the next projects...assuming they sell. Jill and Ronnie at the Herman Agency are THE best, so I'm betting they will. But I'll keep you posted here!