Category Archives: Special Event

contests, special events, giveaways

Tweens Rise to the Occasion

Ballroom at Tween ABC

For the last six years, a group of authors I work with have held a writing conference for teenagers (ages 13 to 19) called Teen Author Boot Camp.  It is a daylong event and often we have people ask us how we dare spend 8 hours with a bunch of crazy teenagers. Yet we have never had a problem (and we’ve had as many as 750 teens at TABC). I fact, I’ve met teens  who I consider genuine friends and fellow authors.

This year, I felt the desire to put on a writing conference just for tweens (ages 9 to 12). I had a couple of people tell me I was absolutely insane—what with all of the ADHD, bullying, lack of respect, and such. After some of the feedback, I started to worry a bit as well.

dogtagLast night we held the first ever Tween Author Boot Camp. Almost 250 kids came to a conference for nearly five hours to learn how to write better. And guess what? They sat in their chairs. They listened. They took notes. They asked a very intelligent questions, and they gave brilliant answers.

I was impressed!

The kids did just as well as the teenagers in paying attention. The authors who taught were lively, and the classes lasted only 25 minutes instead of 40. The evening went by quickly.

Granted, the “Lost and Found” was HUGE, but other than the tweens were outstanding students. With all that goes on in America and in the school system and in society, we tend to think that kids are headed on a downhill spiral. In reality, we have some amazingly intelligent young people in our society.

Lois Class at Tween ABCKudos to these parents who are raising such bright young minds. My favorite part of the evening came during teaching my class called “idea invention.” I showed the kids a picture of a man in a kayak with the darkened image of a large shark looming in the water about 20 feet away. I then asked the kids to pose a question using “what if?” The kids came up with a lot of great “what if” questions:

  • What if the shark eats the man?
  • What if the man survives the shark attack?
  • What if the shark is the man’s best friend?

But the one I loved the most, the one that I thought a New York Times best-selling author could easily write a book about, was the answer from a 10-year-old kid who said, “What if the image of the shark is really just the man’s shadow?”

Wow! Doesn’t that sound like an intriguing novel?


Morphing: In books and real life

animorphsMorphing characters (not to be confused with morphling which I learned is a powerful painkiller) seems so easy to do. A character begins as one person and turns into someone or something else. There is a popular MG series based on this concept called Animorphs.

In real life, however, morphing is not so simple. I have two children that are morphing into something new at this graduation time.

Sixth grade graduation
Sixth grade graduation

My sixth grader will be entering junior high next year. It always amazes me how much change happens in a tween’s life as they move from elementary school to junior high. Some of the changes are great. Others not so much.

Second of all, my oldest is graduating from high school and moving onto college. It’s a big change that is laden with many bittersweet emotions–excitement, regret, hope, worry, etc. She’s going to be moving out on her own, which is going to be so awesome for her, but she is so much fun and responsible that I am really going to miss her.

Senior Grad announcement.
Senior Grad announcement


In writing, when we morph a character into something else, the idea is that the transition needs to be seamless. Sometimes the morphing takes a while, like a person slowly becomes someone else over time. An example of this is in the classic book, The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Other times, the character morphs abruptly like going from a teenage boy into a werewolf. I’m sure you all know a book or two where this happens. If not, ask yourself where you’ve been for the last ten years. 🙂

Regardless, to make a seamless transition there needs to be preparation, build up, and a clear explanation of how it happens. If not, it doesn’t sit well with your reader.

My husband and I were listening to an audio book once when, at the very end of the story, the author had written herself into a corner. So what did she do? The main character all of a sudden realized she had ESP and talked to the mind of another character to get out of the climatic problem.


Just as I have tried to prepare my real children, build them up, and explain (as best I could) what the new stage of their lives will bring, we can do the same with our characters, only we have a lot more control (which, let’s be honest, is really nice sometimes.)

Kids Summer Reading Contest

Emblazon is hosting a kids’ summer reading contest! You can find the official rules on our contest page, but here are the basics:

  • A little boy reads a big book with grass at backgroundThe contest is for kids ages 9 to 14 at the start of the contest.
  • It runs from June 15 until August 15.
  • Every tween book read qualifies as an entry (that’d be middle grade or young adult–and not just our books–they all count!).
  • We’ll be drawing winners August 18.
  • Three winners will receive their choice of 5 signed paperbacks (see the contest page for choices) as well as a duplicate set for their most recent teacher.
  • To enter, send an email to with your name, the name of the book read, and a brief review (a summary of the book and why you liked it or not). Reviews should be 75 to 100 words in length. We might even publish some on our blog! But we won’t use last names. Repeat for every book read. There’s no limit!

Boy_ReadingThis is a super opportunity to get kids reading this summer. If you know kids, parents, teachers, or librarians who might be interested, please help us spread the word. Thanks a bunch…and good luck!!

Reading Isn’t Dead — And Middle Schoolers are AWESOME!

I did my first classroom visit this week. It was a seventh grade English Literature class that my daughter attends. And if I had one word to describe it, I’d say “Surprising!” Those kids just blew me away with their enthusiasm and creativity.

shutterstock_142487863I started out by asking the kids what their favorite video games were. I had a smattering of hands go up and kids throwing out names of games I’d never heard of (I thought I was somewhat up on such things, but apparently not.) Then I asked what their favorite movies were. A few more hands went up. Hunger Games, Iron Man, Beautiful Creatures and more. At least I’d heard of these. Finally, I asked about favorite books.

I went into this exercise thinking I’d do some kind of “Books can be every bit as exciting as the video games and movies you threw out.” You know, some kind of argument for why the kids should consider reading as something worthwhile. Boy was I in for a surprise. When I asked for their favorite books, the hands just flew up, and the room erupted in a chorus of noise. Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, Divergent… I had a hard time picking out the names because they were coming at me so fast.

After a minute or so, the teacher finally quieted the students down and I told them I was shocked at how enthusiastic they were about reading. One boy raised his hand (it took me a while to get used to the idea of kids asking permission to speak,) and he said “It’s because we’re all nerds.” It was true that this was an advanced English class, so I guess I can’t extrapolate what I learned here across all middle-school students, but I loved, I mean LOVED to see these twenty to thirty kids so excited about books.

I then talked about how I write. Starting with how I get ideas, how I outline (or don’t outline,) the actual writing, editing, and publishing. The most fun, I had was when we talked about coming up with ideas for stories. I started out by saying that there really is nothing new under the sun. So if they start a new story thinking they will write something that has never been written before, then they will only end up frustrated. I talked about how most of my ideas are basically twists on other stories. Noah Zarc is a future, time-travel twist on the story of Noah’s Ark. A new book I’m writing is a twist on the story of Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors. So I asked them to think of various old stories that maybe we could put a new spin on.

Again, ideas started flying left and right. Some were way out there, but all of them were awesome. It shouldn’t be surprising, after my two examples, that we settled on creating a story based on David and Goliath. Then we talked about how to make that story our own. How could we make the characters different? Some suggestions included lasers coming out of Goliath’s eyes. There were ideas about Goliath being a bully in school. On and on they went. At last we settled on Goliath being a small kid, and David being a giant (I had said how it can be fun to reverse roles.) And the setting was a school in space.

So for a while (not too long, I was running out of time) I asked them to think about what kind of story could happen with just these basic elements. The kids said it’d still be cool to have the small Goliath be the bully, and the giant be afraid of him (again lasers from the eyes was a good way to make that happen.) There wasn’t a kid in the room who didn’t throw out some kind of idea to flesh out the story.

I just stood there grinning, watching these kids debate and flesh out the story. I think the teacher felt like maybe they were getting out of hand, but I absolutely loved it. It gave me a renewed sense of why I write for kids. They are so free and willing to explore fantastical characters and worlds. But I also loved seeing their hearts, especially when they talked about making Goliath a bully. I could totally see a story like this being a whole lot of fun, but also able to address important topics.

If you’re an author who hasn’t had the privilege of doing a classroom visit, I totally recommend it. If you’re a kid who loves reading, THANK YOU! And, if you’re a kid who loves writing, keep at it! I’d love to hear what kind of crazy, funny, meaningful things you have to say.

DRobertPease500x500D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn’t been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer’s Sirens. It’s not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters.

D. Robert has published three books in the Noah Zarc Trilogy: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble, Noah Zarc: Cataclysm, and Noah Zarc: Declaration, as well as the complete Omnibus Edition of Noah Zarc with all three books in one volume along with twenty-two pencil illustrations from the author.

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New Releases from Two Emblazon Authors

Today marks the release of three new books. One from Mikey Brooks and Two from D. Robert Pease.

First up, Mikey Brooks with the second installment of his Amazon bestselling middle-grade series, The Dream Keeper Chronicles: THE DREAMSTONE.

The Dream Keeper:keychain front1

Dreams: Dorothy called it Oz, Alice called it Wonderland, but Nightmares call it HOME. When an evil shifter takes over the gateway to the realm of Dreams, it falls to 14-year-olds Parker and Kaelyn to stop him. Their only hope lies with Gladamyr, the Dream Keeper, but can they trust a Nightmare to save their world?

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Amazon Hardback | Barnes & Noble

The Dreamstone:keychain front2

When Parker’s mom is dreamnapped by the wicked Mab, it is up to him and Kaelyn to save her. However when they return to Dreams, they discover Mab isn’t their only problem. Gladamyr has lost his powers and the only way to get them back is to become what he fears the most—a nightmare.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Amazon Hardback | Barnes & Noblegiveaways

GIVEAWAYS: Mikey is having a two week long blog tour and giving away over 35 books all by middle-grade and teen authors. 10 lucky winners will receive swag bags including a dream key necklace. Check out the full list of stops and a link to the giveaway by visiting his website at: Also, both eBooks will be on sale for the duration of the blog tour for just $.99 each!


“The Dreamstone, by Mikey Brooks, is a wild stallion of a story: fast, thrilling, and unpredictable. I was hooked in chapter one. If he can snare the attention of an old reader like me, he’ll have kids sneaking this one into class underneath their text books…If this one isn’t a kid-pleaser, I don’t know what is.” –Michelle Isenhoff, author of the Divided Decade Trilogy and the Taylor Davis Series.keychain back

This is far out good and entertaining. It will become a pre-teen to young adult and the young of heart’s favorite. The tale is clean, wholesome and riveting. It is must have in every home and school library” –Anna del C. Dye, author of The Silent Warrior Trilogy.

“If you like the Percy Jackson, Fablehaven, or the Harry Potter series, you’ll love this!” –An Amazon Reviewer.

Mikey Brooks is a small child masquerading as adult. On occasion you’ll find him Mikey Pic 3dancing the funky chicken, singing like a banshee, and pretending to have never grown up. He is the author/illustrator of several picture books including the bestselling BEAN’S DRAGONS, the ABC ADVENTURES series. He spends most of his time playing with his three daughters and working as a freelance illustrator and cover designer. Mikey has a BS degree in Creative Writing from Utah State University. He is also one of the hosts of the Authors’ Think Tank Podcast.


New from D. Robert Pease in the Noah Zarc Trilogy

Today the Noah Zarc middle grade, science fiction adventure is complete with the release of the third book: Noah Zarc: Declaration. At the same time the Noah Zarc Special Omnibus Edition is released which includes all three books in one volume, as well as twenty-two pencil illustrations by the author.

Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble

Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction. Life couldn’t be better. However, the twelve-year-old time traveler soon learns it could be a whole lot worse, when he is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying a newly habitable, post-apocalyptic Earth.

Amazon Kindle ON SALE TODAY for $.99! | Amazon Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Signed Paperbacks from Publisher

Noah Zarc: Cataclysm

While searching for answers to secrets that have remained hidden for over a thousand years, Noah becomes embroiled in a mission which could cause the greatest cataclysm in the history of the solar system; the total destruction of life on Earth.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Signed Paperbacks from Publisher

Noah Zarc: Declaration

As battles rage across the reaches of space, Noah works to join together a rag-tag bunch of miners, farmers, and scientists who would rather just live in peace. With only a time-traveling ship full of animals and a general from the history books the Zarc family must stand against the most powerful man in the universe.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Signed Paperbacks from Publisher

Noah Zarc: Trilogy – Special Omnibus Edition

All three Noah Zarc books in one volume. Including twenty-two pencil illustrations by the author.

Amazon Kindle | Amazon Hardcover | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Signed Hardcover from Publisher

D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn’t been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer’s Sirens. It’s not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters he brings to life.

Find out more about D. Robert online: | Facebook | Twitter