On My Mind: September 30, 2015

Parties! Two weeks ago, The Pirate Code was released, which was a great excuse for a party or two! I had two swashbucklingly awesome events in Oregon, at Powell’s Books in Beaverton and at The Book Bin in Salem. Candy treasure was consumed, sea shanties were sang, the book cover was recreated, and a good time was had by all (or I would have made them walk the plank). See photos here and here.
Thank you so much to everyone who attended and celebrated this new book with me.

Big News! Last week, Hook’s Revenge hit the New York Times Bestsellers list! (WHAT?) It was listed as number five in middle grade ebooks.

Jeans. I bought a new pair and I love them so much I want to wear them every day. This is a cause to celebrate and I wanted to share it with you.

Water on Mars! That’s big news too! So awesome. Though knowing that might have made things a lot easier for Matt Damon. Speaking of which…

The Martian. I read the book last week and couldn’t put it down. I’m really hoping the movie does it justice. Are any of you planning on seeing it this weekend?

What’s on your mind today, friends?



**Contest is now closed. Congrats to Jason A. and thanks to everyone who entered!**

Today is the day, friends. Hook’s Revenge: The Pirate Code is now unleashed on the world!

Pirate Code_Final Cover_PUBS

I’m very proud of this book. I hope you will enjoy reading Jocelyn’s new adventures and misadventures.

Now, how about a giveaway, hmm? I’ll send one lucky winner, anywhere in the world, signed hardcovers of both books, and the audiobook for the UK version of Hook’s Revenge, Hook’s Daughter (same book, just more British).

All you have to do is translate this word. Screenshot 2015-09-15 08.23.46

(Hint: Either look in the back of The Pirate Code, or search my website—any page, not just the blog—for the hidden key. Click anything that looks interesting.) Once you have decoded the word, send me an email telling me what it says.

I’ll pick a winner at the end of the month, September 30.

Good luck, matey!



Hey Kid! with Rachele Alpine (OPERATION PUCKER UP)

hey kid

Hi, Middle School Rachele!

This is you from the future (the way way far future…middle school seems so long ago now!). Life is pretty great! You have an awesome husband, adorable new baby and a cuddly dog who loves to lay by you when you write!

I want to tell you a cool story about a time in your life when you were really upset, because it has a really happy ending that you just didn’t know about yet!

So remember at the start of middle school when there was a meeting after school about band? And all the instruments were spread out in the music room, and you could try them all out? Remember how you fell in love with the saxophone (probably partly because your cousin and close friend, Shelly, played it and partly because Lisa Simpson played it…yep, you must have been onto something when you were obsessed with The Simpsons, because over twenty years later, it’s still on the air!). Anyways, you wanted to play the saxophone so bad and as your other friends were trying out instruments, you didn’t even touch another one because you knew that the saxophone was the one meant for you.

You went home all excited to tell your mom about it but instead of being as excited as you were, she looked upset. You didn’t understand why until she told you how expensive the saxophone was. And how she couldn’t afford for you to play it. Remember how upset you were? Your mom felt bad and told you that you could keep taking piano lessons, but it wasn’t the same. You wanted to pick up that shiny saxophone and press down on the keys again. You wanted to leave regular music class and go to band with the rest of your friends. You wanted to be a part of the Christmas concert and spring recital and wear a fancy black skirt and white blouse while everyone watched you play.

You were really sad about it and as much as you tried to hide your disappointment, your mom could tell. So she suggested that instead of the saxophone, you could take acting lessons at The Beck Center. You loved the Beck Center! Your Girl Scout troop always went to see the children theater shows there, and you used to beg your mom to let you be a part of it. You quickly agree, the saxophone forgotten and this begins one of your greatest adventures. You start going to classes every Saturday and eventually get a role in a play. You’re only a townsperson in Cinderella, but you treat it as if you have a lead. You get cast in more shows and you couldn’t be happier. The Beck Center becomes your home away from home, and you make some of your best friends there. You love acting and are so thankful that your mom suggested you do this instead of the saxophone.

Fast forward to twenty plus years later. You still love theater. You minored in it in college, you’ve directed shows at the middle school where you teach, and you’ve seen so many plays you’ve lost count (including two on Broadway!). One day you have an idea for a book, sparked by your years spent in children’s theater, and it starts to grow in your head. You sit down to write it and Operation Pucker Up is born. Your agent sells it and now, in a week, you’ll have your launch party at The Beck Center! And your old friends will be there reading chapters from the book and acting them out! How cool is that!?!

So what I really want to say to you is don’t be too sad about not playing the saxophone, because it was a blessing in disguise. It might have seemed unfair at the time, but look at what happened because of it! You were introduced to one of your favorite places in the world and made some best friends for life. So remember that life can surprise you sometimes. I’ll be thinking of the funny way things can turn out as I’m standing on that same stage you once did and thanking everyone for coming out to celebrate the release of Operation Pucker Up!


Operation Pucker Up Postcard FrontFirst kisses are always nerve-racking—but especially when they’re onstage! Can Grace find a real-life Prince Charming before she has to lock lips in front of a crowd?

Grace Shaw is thrilled to pieces when she wins the coveted lead role in her school play. That is, until she realizes she’ll have to kiss Prince Charming. And not only is Prince Charming—a.k.a James Lowe—the most popular boy in school, but Grace has never, ever been kissed.

To help, Grace’s two best friends create Operation Pucker Up—a plan for Grace to score a kiss before opening night so she doesn’t make total fool of herself in front of a live audience. If that weren’t enough to think about, Grace’s father, who left six months ago, suddenly walks back into her life. Haddie, her mom and sister have bonded as the “Terrific Three” – and while two of the “Three” welcome Dad back with open arms, Grace isn’t sure she can forgive and forget.

With Operation Pucker Up spinning out of control, and opening night fast approaching, will Grace manage to get her happily ever after—both on-stage and off?

Find Operation Pucker Up on IndieBound, Amazon, B&N, and Target or ask for it at bookstores and libraries near you.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Rachele Alpine is a lover of gummy candy, bad reality TV, and coffee…so much coffee. She’s the author of the MG novels Operation Pucker Up (Simon & Schuster) and You Throw Like a Girl (Simon & Schuster, 2017), and the YA novel Canary (Medallion).
Connect with Rachele on RacheleAlpine.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

THE PIRATE CODE blurb from Adam Rex!

Words are my job. I can spend hours searching for the just the right one. However, when my book is being praised by authors I admire, the best I can come up with are, “Ahhhhhh!” “Really???” and “Thank you!”

All this week, I’ll be sharing blurbs from fantastic authors. First up, Adam Rex.

Adam’s books are favorites around here. Hannah and I both capital-L-Loved THE TRUE MEANING OF SMECKDAY (made into a little Dreamworks movie called Home—perhaps you’ve heard of it?) and SMEK FOR PRESIDENT!.

Here is what Adam had to say about THE PIRATE CODE.

Adam Rex HR2

Hey Kid! with Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (BOOK SCAVENGER)

hey kid

Hey Kid!

This is you, writing from the future where TVs are larger than your Kirk Cameron poster but only as thick as a Nancy Drew book, and there are little boxes that you hold in your hand to change the channels, and there are tiny, flat phones that fit in your pocket and have no curly cords to attach them to the wall. I am not even joking here.

The future is magical.

So, it’s almost your eleventh birthday and you are over the moon because you just received a letter from the author James Howe who wrote some of your favorite books like Bunnicula, The Celery Stalks at Midnight, and Howliday Inn. I know, I know–James Howe! You will still find this event as mind-blowing thirty years in the future as you do right now. And that advice he gives you? It’s great writing advice and you will internalize it and apply it without even realizing you’ve done so.

Eventually his letter is going to get filed away in a scrapbook and you will forget about it for a while as you get caught up with dance and your aspirations to be a Laker Girl or backup performer for Janet Jackson. As you pursue those dancing dreams, you will also rediscover your love for writing and stories, and that passion will ultimately triumph over everything else and point you with purpose and focus into your future.

And then one day you’ll be living in Colorado (yes, you really do move out of California in the future. I know, you can’t imagine living anywhere else right now–except maybe Stoneybrook, CT, with the rest of the girls in The Babysitter’s Club–but you will move and you will be happy about it.) While sorting through your childhood things in Colorado, you will rediscover the letter from James Howe, and this will happen during a stretch of time when you are working multiple jobs while trying to write a novel. During this period you often doubt whether you have it in you to be a children’s book author like you dream of becoming. Finding that letter will feel like your destiny has been revealed, and you will plunge forward with confidence. Which doesn’t mean the path suddenly becomes clear and easy, but you will feel content with your choice to be on the path, no matter what obstacles lay ahead.

A few things I want to tell you before I get to the questions I know you are most eager for me to answer:

  • IMG_0121You are the driver of your life. Other people will offer you maps, tell you the best route, or demand that you follow to where they are going, but ultimately you have the say in where you steer your car and how you get to your destination.
  • You can’t control everything that happens, but you can control how you react and how you move forward. Look to people you admire as mentors (fictional people count too!) and think about how they carry themselves through the world and what they would do in a tough situation.
  • Surround yourself with good people. You can tell the quality of someone’s character by their actions, not their words, but at the same time be understanding that everybody has their bad days.
  • There is always an opportunity to try again. Just because you fail at something once doesn’t mean you should give up. If it still matters to you, try again.
  • Maintain and nourish your sense of humor. This will help you in just about every aspect of life.

Okay, now the stuff you really want to know about:

1. There is going to be a sequel to The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, but you will have to wait a while. Like ten or so more years. (Oh, and if the James Howe letter is tripping you out, get this: One day you will talk to Zilpha Keatley Snyder ON THE PHONE. You also eat lunch next to Lois Lowry. I know. I know!!! I told you, the future is magical.)

2. Your collection of VHS tapes with dutifully recorded and saved episodes of 21 Jump Street, ALF, and Moonlighting are not going to come in as handy as you think they will.

3. I’m sorry to break this to you, but you are not going to marry Corey Haim. You’ll ending up marrying . . . well, I don’t want to spoil it for you. But trust me, it’s a very happy outcome.

4. You won’t transform into an extroverted, chatty person, but that’s okay. It really, really is. All those things about yourself that make you feel awkward and like you don’t fit in? You’ll end up embracing them and appreciating your own individuality.

Okay, you can get back to your game of Super Mario Bros. now. And happy birthday, kid!


BookScavengerCVR (1) For twelve-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.

Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game–before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.

To learn more or play the game in real life, visit bookscavenger.com.

Find Book Scavenger on IndieBound, Amazon, B & N, Tattered Cover, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She studied writing and dance at the University of California, Irvine, and earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California. When she was eighteen, she interned for a magazine in Manhattan and has worked in publishing ever since.
To learn more about Jennifer you can visit her blog, follow her on Twitter, or Facebook.
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