Guest Post: Tom Llewellyn Author of The Tilting House + Giveaway!

I long while back I use to do a monthly featured titled: Whoooooo’s That Author.  Today marks the return of that feature! Once a month I will feature a great middle grade author and give away his/her book.

Today I have the honor of welcoming Tom Llewellyn author of The Titling House.  I featured his book a bit back on a post about books I’d love to read.  It looks just fantastic.  And if Tom’s self questioning interview is any indication of the quality of the book, it will be fantastic.  For Tom’s guest post he is basically interviewing himself! I laughed when I read it, I hope you will too!

Tom Llewellyn interviews Tom Llewellyn
Before we get to the interesting questions, I suppose you want to shill your novel, The Tilting House.
I’m not above a little shilling. So let’s get a quick summary out of the way. Brothers Josh and Aaron Peshik are about to discover that their new home with the tilting floors hides many mysteries. When the boys and their neighbor Lola discover the hidden diary of F.T. Tilton, the brilliant but deranged inventor who built the house, they learn a dark secret that may mean disaster for the Peshik family. Can the kids solve the riddles of the tilting house before time runs out?

That sounds exactly like what’s written on the flap of the dust jacket.

It is. And if you liked that, here’s some more plagiarism from Random House’s marketing department: Mad science, mischief, and mishaps combine in the suspenseful and imaginative tale.

Can’t you take a moment to describe the book in your own words?

No. I’m too busy editing my next novel, Letter Off Dead. It comes out next September from Tricycle Press, the same children’s and young adult imprint of Random House that published The Tilting House.

You really do like to shill, don’t you?

Yes, I’m shameless.

Let’s get to the more interesting questions: You could have written a romance, a biography or a book about kitties. Why did you choose to write a mystery/adventure?

When I was a kid, I always longed for a book with plenty of adventure, plenty of surprises and a mystery meaty enough to sink my teeth into. So that’s what I tried to write. I think I succeeded.
My hope is that there are plenty of readers out there who are longing for the same kind of book. And so far, so good. The first printing has sold out already. I’m not talking numbers like The Hunger Game, but it’s doing pretty well.

Any changes for the second printing?

A few tiny typos magically disappeared. And some nice reviews appear on the back cover now.

I suppose you want to share one. But only one, OK?

OK. Publisher’s Weekly said, “Llewellyn’s debut is inventive, gripping, and shot through with macabre details.” I like that one. And I like the word “macabre.” It means creepy. I wanted at least parts of the book to come across as creepy.

You’ve got a fair amount of laughs in the book. Do you think of it as a humor novel?

I don’t. I tried to always treat both the characters and the plot with a lot of respect. I mean that I always wanted the characters to act true to themselves in the situations I put them in. Josh and Aaron are both natural smart alecks. Mr. Daga is smelly and burps a lot (he’s a rat, so it’s OK) and the dad is naturally grumpy (like me, I suppose). When you place those characters in a house where the walls disappear every now and then, some funny moments are sure to arise.

I liked the setting of the book. What was the inspiration?

I live in the inspiration. The setting is based on my own home, which was built in Tacoma, Washington in 1898. In The Tilting House, the floors of the home tilt precisely three degrees (which means that one end of an average couch would be about six inches lower than the other end). In my house, the floors tilt, too, although not nearly that much. But marbles and pencils do tend to gather in downhill corners. Of course, in my house, walls don’t disappear, pocketknives don’t grow to the size of machetes, and rats don’t talk. At least I hope they don’t. I’m pretty sure we don’t have any rats.

The main character is Josh, who seems about 12 or 13 years old. But their grandpa also plays a key part. Do you think young readers will be interested in such an old character?

I think they will if he’s interesting. In too many books, the adults are portrayed as nitwits. Grandpa is definitely not a nitwit. He’s a bit nutty. And he has a wooden leg, so that makes him automatically interesting, don’t you think? There’s even a chapter where he tells the story of losing his leg. What kid doesn’t like a good amputation story?

When you’re not shamelessly promoting The Tilting House, what are you doing?

Did I mention Letter Off Dead?

Yes, but you can mention it again if you have to.

I have to. The book doesn’t come out until next September, but I need to turn in a final draft on October 11. Yikes!
I’m really excited about the book, though. It’s about a boy named Trevor who is just starting junior high school. His dad died years earlier, but Trevor decides to start writing letters to his dead father, as a kind of diary. But two weeks later, his dead father starts writing back.

That’s weird.
Yes. It is. Weird is good.

Learn more about The Tilting House and Tom Llewellyn at
Now for the giveaway! To enter to win a copy of The Tilting House FILL OUT THE FORM!
+1 if you tell me IN THE COMMENTS of a house you know that had an odd quirk!
End Friday Oct 15th
US Only


Author Visit: Kurtis Scaletta

On Monday I had the privilege of welcoming Kurtis Scaletta author of Mudville into my my classroom.  The kids were excited.  The week before I had read the prologue of the book to them and told them his next book included a black mamba.  They were even more excited after that.  Before he came I had them write questions on an index card, so they were prepared ahead of time.  You can see a picture below of the stack they came up with!

What I think they liked the most was that he asked them for help with his writing.  He put the word VERISIMILITUDE on the Smartboard and explained to them what it means (do you know???).  It means making something seem real even if it’s not real or even possible.  Like Harry Potter – it’s not real and it’s not possible, but it seems real.  What he needed from them was what it was like being a 7th grader right now in 2009.  He needed to know this from them so when he wrote about characters that were in the 7th grade he could create verisimilitude. 

After that he talked about the publishing process even showing them drafts of his story.  He passed around the draft with copy edits.  I loved that they got to see even published authors made grammar and typing mistakes! I think the sheer length of the story typed out was super impressive to them.  We also learned about his new book coming out in 2010 named Mamba Point.  The story is about a boy who moves to Africa and befriends a very poisonous snake. When they found out this boy keeps the black mamba in his laundry hampter, their mouths dropped open.  Throughout this all, he answered any questions they had.  I knew the kids were interested because they came up with lots of interesting things to ask.

I give a huge shout out to Kurtis Scaletta for being brave enough to face 90 7th graders (ok 30 at a time) on a two day week right before Thanksgiving break! And I’m so glad you gave my students the opputunity to see more of the writing and publishing process.  Thank you!

Remember I’m giving away a copy of Mudville.  The cut off was suppose to be today, but I’ve extended it to Friday the 27th at midnight.  Go here to enter!
                                                                      The Stack O’ Questions

Whoooooo’s That Author November: Kurtis Scaletta and contest


This month in honor of the World Series finishing up I’m featuring Kurtis Scaletta author of Mudville – a story about a baseball game delayed by rain for 22 years! I read Mudville this summer and really enjoyed it. You can read my review of it here.

A little about Kurtis Scalett taken from his website

He is the author of two middle grade books – one about baseball and the other about snakes.  He has been writing since he was six years old, selling his first story in 2005 to Cicada a magazine for teens.  That story was about a teen who tortured his teacher by writing bad poetry on purpose.  As I teacher I could see how that would be torture! Mudville was published in February of 2009, and his next novel Mamba Point is due out in 2010.  He was born in Louisania but moved around a lot living in Louisania, New Mexico, England, North Dakota (super interested about this one since I grew up there!), Liberia, Virginia, Brazil, North Dakota (again), Kansas, Maine and Minnesota.  Now that’s a lot of moving!

Later this month I’ll highlight his new book to be published, Mamba Point.

Of course because I loved Mudville, I think you should read it and love it too! To help with that I’m giving away a copy. Here’s a tish about it to hook ya in:

Welcome to Moundville, where it’s been raining for longer than Roy McGuire has been alive. Most people say the town is cursed—right in the middle of their big baseball game against rival town Sinister Bend, black clouds crept across the sky and it started to rain. That was 22 years ago . . . and it’s still pouring.


To enter for a chance at this book you must:

Name your favorite baseball team.  I love the Red Sox, because I lived in Boston for two years.

+1 for favorite team
+1 for tweeting
+1 for sidebar
Please leave an email address so I can find ya. 
Contest ends 11:59 p.m. CST Nov 25th – right before Thanksgiving
Open to U.S. residents only
Good luck!

October Whooooo’s That Author Give-Away

This month’s give-away.  In honor of our spotlight author and the fact it’s the month of Halloween, I’ll be giving away either a copy of Skeleton Creek or the second book in the series Ghost in the Machine.  You pick which one you want! Also in the winner’s box will be ghost Dots, ghost Peeps and a Halloween keychain.
To enter do the following:
+1 leave comment with your email address
+1 tweet or link from side bar (2 total)
That’s it! Nothing fancy to enter here.
Contest will end 11:59 Central Time October 31st.  Open to only US residents.
Good luck! (and who knows – maybe I’ll do two winners again!)

Whoooooo’s That Author October – Patrick Carman

I’m excited to announce that this months spotlight author is Patrick Carman. I choose to spot light him this month because his new book Ghost in the Machine, second book in the Skeleton Creek series, debuted on October 1st.  Since this book is a ghost story, what could be a better choice for October, the month of ghosts, gouls and things that go bump in the night!

A little about Skeleton Creek taken from the offical website:

Strange things are happening in Skeleton Creek and Ryan and Sarah are trying to get to the heart of it. But after an eerie accident leaves Ryan housebound and forbidden to see Sarah, their investigation takes two tracks: Ryan records everything in his journal, while Sarah uses her videocam to search things out … and then emails the clips for Ryan to see.

In a new, groundbreaking format, the story is broken into two parts — Ryan’s text in the book, and Sarah’s videos on a special website, with links and passwords given throughout the book.

The cool part of this series is the linking of word and video.  It really brings the story to life.  I read Skeleton Creek this summer, and I loved how the videos enhanced the world of the story.  It wasn’t like watching a movie of a book; instead it just added anther layer of complexity.  Some people might worry that having to stop, find the video and watch it might break up the story too much.  I disagree.  Ryan has to figure out how to watch them without getting caught, so you kinda feel what he feels.  Watching what he watched made me feel I was right there with him as he struggled with what Sara was telling him.  At one point I even jumped during one of the clips because it scared me so much! This was just how it scared Ryan. The videos took a fun ghost story and pushed it up a notch.

Through out the month I’ll be focusing on some of Patrick Carmen’s different series as well at looking at the many website out there about Skeleton Creek.  And of course, I’ll be giving away a copy of either Skeleton Creek or Ghost in the Machine. Watch for info on the give-away.

While you wait, check out Patrick Carman’s website.  You can find it here.  And to get you interested in Ghost in the Machine check out the trailer here!

Whoooooo’s That Author: Brightening the Spotlight

I have some more fun info about my spotlight author Pseudonymous Bosch and the Secret Series. First take a look at the UK and the US covers for The Name of This Book is Secret.  I love to see the different covers used in different countries.  Which one do you like better?  I think I like the one from the UK better – it seems more mysterious!(UK is on the left and Us on the right)



Now I also found a fun UK site for Pseudonymous Bosch and The Secret Series.  Check it out here.  It has some fun games and information.  As always warning you to stay away and refusing to give away the real name of the author.

I found a couple of more sites that reviewed The Name of This Book is Secret and provide some more links. 

IMCPL Kids and Curled Up With a Good Kid’s Book

I’m working on my 10 year old daughter to write a review for the first two books.  Apparently she’s got something called homework to do.  She is bugging met to buy the 3rd book. SSHHHHH don’t tell her, but I ordered it from The Book Depository!

If you missed the kick-off post for this spotlight author, Pseudonymous Bosch, and the give-away, check it out here.

As always – happy reading!


I think I made Pseudonymous Bosch a little nervous with my Whoooooo’s That Author feature.  You know, he doesn’t want people to hear the Secret Story!  Check out his post here!  And be sure to check out the Whoooooo’s That Author kick-off post.  (pssssst – there’s a give away too!)

Whoooooooooooooo’s That Author? September (with give-away!)

This month’s featured author is Pseudonymous Bosch who wrote the Secret Series.

If you haven’t heard of this series you need to check it out!  Last spring I bought the first one, The Name of This Book is Secret, out at our school book fair.  I had to buy it when I looked at the first chapter.  The entire first chapter is nothing but X’s! Like it has been censored.  That alone caught my attention.  I shared it with my students saying that normally I’d read them the first chapter as a way to hook them, but I couldn’t read it.  It was impossible to read.  Then I showed them what it looked like. They LOVED it.  They wanted me to read the book aloud to them. Several begged me to hold it for them, so they could check it out when it went public. (going public in my room means it’s now available for checking out)

As the title says this is a book with a secret.  A mystery.  Here’s the summary from Barnes and Noble:

Warning: this description has not been authorized by Pseudonymous Bosch. As much as he’d love to sing the praises of his book (he is very vain), he wouldn’t want you to hear about his brave 11-year old heroes, Cass and Max-Ernest. Or about how a mysterious box of vials, the Symphony of Smells, sends them on the trail of a magician who has vanished under strange (and stinky) circumstances. And he certainly wouldn’t want you to know about the hair-raising adventures that follow and the nefarious villains they face. You see, not only is the name of this book secret, the story inside is, too. For it concerns a secret. A Big Secret.

If you’ve read the Series of Unfortunate Events books you may be thinking they are similar.  I guess they are to some degree, but I couldn’t get into those books.  This one had me hooked right away.  There is plenty of action, suspense and fun characters.  Although a few times I wanted to shake Cass and Max and ask them what they thought they were doing.  They tend to put themselves in dangerous situations. 

The best part! There are two more books in the series.  If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and This Book is Not Good For You

Be sure to check out the two websites for the series:

WORD OF WARNING: if you don’t like books where the author/character talks directly to the reader, you will NOT like this book. It is done quit a bit throughout the story.


If you’d like a chance to win a copy of the first book in this series The Name of This Book is Secret, you need to do 3 things!
  1. Be a resident of US (sorry but for my first one I’m trying to keep it really easy for me!)
  2. Tell me if you like to read mysteries and why/why not (your entry won’t count without this!)
  3. Leave an email address to so I can find you if you win.
Extra Entries
+1 Link from sidebar (leave a link please)
+1 Tweet it (please @justkeepreading so I see it)

That’s it!  I’m keeping this simple for my first attempt at a give away.  The contest will end midnight Central time on Sept. 30th.  I will post the winner within 3 days. 

Whoooooooooo’s That Author?

Ok I know you’ve all been waiting for some post that tied in the hoot of the owl!  Well it came to me today – a monthly feature I’ll be starting tomorrow called “WHOOOOOOOO’S THAT AUTHOR?”.  Here’s what it’s all about.

Each month I’ll feature an awesome MG/YA author.  I’ll show what books they have written, direct you to their websites, and anything more that lets you get to know them.  Boy wouldn’t it be cool if at some point I’d actually get the author to join us!  Ah wishful thinking  🙂  I’m going to try to feature authors that aren’t as well known – ones that I don’t see as much of on the blogs that I follow.  I really want it to introduce people to an author they might not be aware of.  There are so many writers I love, but I don’t hear about them as much.  I want to shine the spotlight on them.  My hope is that it will create a whole new audience for their books.

Along with the featured author I’ll be doing a give-away of one book by that author!  There may be some gifties with it as well.  We’ll see how my creativity goes. 

The first Whoooooooooo’s That Author will be tomorrow.  Check in to see whooooooooooo it is! (ok I’ll stop that now!)