Thanks to Goodreads (which I tend to use as a booklog, pretty much just for this purpose), I’m taking a look back at my reading stats for 2018:
These books took me from Cameroon to Moscow to Fiji to Antarctica to Topsea, and from Ancient Greece to outer space. (Can I get airline miles for this?!)
In terms of category, I read 18 middle grade books, 4 YA, 4 nonfiction, and the rest were adult fiction. And I seem to have a thing for blue covers.
In 2019, I’m switching from reading goals to a reading thesis: read to discover, read diversely, read without time pressure, read joyfully. I’m debating whether to keep tracking online–it is handy for the year-end page and book count (although I cannot figure out why Goodreads insists these 59 books are 60), but it also adds a little pressure to add, add, add books. We’ll see what I decide . . .
What were your favorite books of the year, and what do you hope to read in 2019?
Time flies when you’re having fun . . . or you’re revising. I was doing both this fall. In November I turned in the final manuscript for my next MG novel, which will be out in October 2019. The new title (and cover, and a bunch of other info) I’ll share in the new year!
In terms of fun, I had great trips to Wisconsin (where the fall color is always divine), California (where the Disneyland is always magical), and Sleepy Hollow (where the Halloween is pumpkininny). In terms of bookish fun, on October 28 I visited the lovely New Canaan Library for a middle-grade author extravaganza. We had a lively panel followed by a signing, and it was delightful.
The next Saturday was one of my favorite days of the year: nErDcampLI! I was too busy learning, sharing, connecting, laughing to take many pictures, but here are two:
Now I’m ready to hibernate with a new project I’m writing. Hope your fall was fantastic!
Last Saturday, I spent the day in charming Warwick, NY, at the Warwick Children’s Book Festival. I got to meet with eager readers, signed lots of books and shared 1960’s candy (just like Bea and Pidge would’ve eaten on their cross-country trip), and enjoyed local delicacies: NY apples and apple cider doughnuts. After a long week, it was wonderful to get out of the city and connect with book people.
If you have a chance to go next year, I highly recommend it!
I love talking about writing about as much as I love writing (so, a lot). And I had a great time talking about historical fiction and the writing life with one of my “Write Nite” pals (and directly-across-the-street neighbor) Gabriela Pereira. We get into:
- How to weave a famous historical figure into fiction
- Crafting rich supporting characters in a road trip story (when they only get a scene or two)
- Why it’s important to represent real people accurately in your novel
- Using setting to develop characters and share history
Check out Episode 215 of diyMFA Radio for our discussion here, and be sure to browse all the wonderful resources on the diyMFA site!
On July 21, I was thrilled to be a part of the Amelia Earhart Festival–the annual celebration of her birthday in her birthplace of Atchison, Kansas. Readers of The Last Grand Adventure will know what a significant place Atchison was in Amelia’s (and her sister, Muriel’s) life. For me, it was a place I came to know, and love, through research. This passage from Muriel Earhart Morrissey’s biography of Amelia, Courage Is the Price, shows why:
“Midsummer evenings have always been a time of mystic spellbinding for the young. The long August twilights wrought their peculiar magic upon Amelia and me when we were little girls in Atchison. I remember the symphony of summer sounds; the chirping of crickets and of the invisible tree-toads . . . As the last carnation and saffron clouds faded, bats began to dart across the darkening sky, and, as if in defiance of these harbingers of the nightfall, fireflies twinkled in the garden and across the way among the peach and pear trees in the orchard.”
Such a lovely description! How can you read that and not want to write about Atchison in the summertime?
While writing When Audrey Met Alice and Summer of Lost and Found, I was able to visit my settings in person. For The Last Grand Adventure, the closest I’d gotten was Google Earth. So it was incredibly meaningful to see the town for myself, and to meet the warm and welcoming people who live there. And what a weekend to visit–the festival draws in thousands of Earhart experts and enthusiasts and leaders in STEM and aviation fields to celebrate not just Amelia’s birthday but her incredible life and accomplishments. I had a great time sharing my book and also learning so much more about her life and legacy.
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If you’ve ever read this blog or met me in person, you know two things to be true:
1) I love independent bookstores
2) I love the beach
So combining the two is my dream, right?
Last week it came true: I drove down the East Coast to lovely Bethany Beach for a visit to its fabulous independent bookstore, Bethany Beach Books. On a somewhat chilly (for June) night, I got to meet its beach readers and chat with the friendly staff. It’s really a delightful shop, with an amazing lineup of author events, so if you’re ever in coastal Delaware, you must stop in.
My next adventure will be at the Amelia Earhart festival in Atchison, Kansas, on July 21. Can’t wait!
A picture is worth a thousand words–but unfortunately, I was having so much fun sharing The Last Grand Adventure with readers that I barely took any (other than of books) during my events!
If you missed the AASL webinar I did with school librarian extraordinaire Eileen Makoff and dynamite authors Sara Holbrook and Jo Hackl, you can still listen to it here, on the AASL website: Author Ideas on Integrating Fiction into the Middle-Grade and Middle-School Curriculum.
I had a great time with author friends Michelle Schusterman and Kirsten Hubbard (aka Fox & Coats) at the Voracious Reader in Larchmont, NY–their new series Secrets of Topsea is sweet and zany and so creative.
Later that weekend, I headed down to DC to the awesome Arlington indie One More Page, where Lauren Magaziner, Jonathan Roth, and I had a fun panel:
Lauren also spotted Audrey hanging out at the Amazon bookstore in DC:
The following weekend was nErDcampNJ, which was full of engaging and inspiring talks and workshops. It’s also a super fun chance to meet up with other kidlit authors in real life:
I’m back at home now, working on a new project and resting up for some of the events I have planned this summer–hope to see you there!
Books of Wonder MG panel: May 19
Bethany Beach Books: June 11
Amelia Earhart Festival: July 21
(For more info and updates, check the Events page of my site.)
Time flies when you’re having fun, and when you’re launching a new book. I can’t believe The Last Grand Adventure has already been out for three weeks! It’s been a lot of fun traveling around and talking about Bea and Pidge and Amelia’s adventures. Here’s where I’ve been so far:
I got to share The Last Grand Adventure a little early with readers at Barnes & Noble Neshaminy in Bensalem, PA. Lauren Magaziner, Tae Keller, Jessica Lawson, and I had a lot of fun answering questions and tackling truth-or-dares.
On Saturday, March 24, I officially launched The Last Grand Adventure with the help of the fantastic Claire Legrand, at Books of Wonder’s new Uptown store. We had a great talk about writing quietly adventurous MG characters and our own travel experiences. And I turned my book into Rice Krispie treats, because of course.
Next I hopped a plane home to Madison, WI, where I met some fantastic young readers at EAGLE School and Thoreau Elementary, my alma mater.
Then celebrated the book’s release with a reading at my hometown indie, Mystery to Me. I forgot to take any pictures at this event other than this “After” one of my book cake. It was the most delicious map I have ever eaten.
You can check out my Instagram for some photos and reposts of Bea and Pidge in the wild. And if you’d still like a chance to have a book signed or meet me in person, I’ll be at The Voracious Reader in Larchmont as well as One More Page in Arlington, VA, this weekend. Check out my Events page for all the details!
I’ve been busy talking up Bea and Pidge’s grand adventure with fellow book lovers and Amelia enthusiasts online. Here are a few interviews to check out if you’d like to know more about the story and why I wrote it:
And here are a few reviews from early and speedy readers!
“Rebecca Behrens writes a touching and heartwarming story chronicling Bea and Pidge’s journey to not only find “Meelie” but also find themselves.” —Beagles and Books
“This is just one of those stories that I did not want to end. The messages it delivers will fill readers with hope – hope for family, believing in the impossible, and finding our true adventurous spirit. The story and characters will stay with readers long after the book is done.” —Zone 114: The Next Chapter
“The Last Grand Adventure transports family drama into an interesting and vibrant time period and shows us that while fashions, types of travel, and acceptable breakfasts (sugar sandwiches!) have changed over the last 50 years, family ties have not.” –Ms. Yingling, YA Books Central
Thanks for reading!