Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kirkus Says "crackles with originality" and Booklist Gives it a Star!

On Friday, I got my first review! It's from Kirkus. Here's what they said:

It's the summer of 1969, when astronauts land on the moon, and Tamara Ann Simpson is not having a good time. Foster child and best friend Kebsie has suddenly moved away and now Douglas McGinty is in her spot with Mrs. Kutchner. Tammy dubs him "Muscle Man" after one outrageous lie, determined to give him his comeuppance in front of the whole gang. Fierce and plaintive, Tammy's voice crackles with originality and yet is completely childlike. The '60s setting comes to life with sharply honed details like kickball games, ice-cream trucks, soap operas, references to "the man" and the loss of life to the Vietnamese war. The authenticity of the time and the voice combine with a poignant plot to reveal a depth unusual in such a straightforward first-person narrative. Showing a neighborhood still webbed together by typical daily contact, the characters are individually distinct and real. Also real is the fact that Tammy's tenacity is never fully appreciated, even as she softens her principles and becomes slightly more understanding than seemed possible in the beginning. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

And then yesterday, a starred review from Booklist! I've been doing a lot of jumping up and down!

Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issue: April 15, 2009
Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me.
Marino, Nan (Author)
May 2009. 160 p. Roaring Brook/hardcover, $16.95. (9781596434998).
It is rare to have a story told with sympathy from the viewpoint of a bully. This debut novel, set in upstate New York in the summer of 1969, does just that with wit and a light touch that never denies the story's sorrows. Tammy, 10, is stuck at home with her cold parents while her brother is away in Vietnam. In her first-person narrative, she reveals the hurt and loneliness that fuel her anger as she targets the new, skinny kid, Douglas, who has moved into a foster home on the block. She mocks him for telling wild lies: he is training for the Olympics; his uncle is Neil Armstrong, about to walk on the moon; and more. The other kids, including the snotty girls from the loving family next door, let him be. Why is Tammy so furious?Gradually the reader sees that she blames Douglas for the disappearance of her beloved only friend, a foster kid who moved away without telling Tammy why and where she was going. Douglas is a bit too nice, but he messes up when he tries to help Tammy, and many readers will recognize the muddled and caring gestures among friends and enemies.
— Hazel Rochman

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Got To Hear My Character Speak!

I was thrilled when Brilliance Audio bought the audio rights to Neil Armstrong is my Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me, and I've been anxiously searching their website for news of who's going to narrate my story. Last Sunday, I searched the sight and noticed they listed Emily Bauer as the person reading.

I did some quick research. Using all my librarian skills, I scoured the web for information. Okay, it wasn't really hard. Emily has her own website.

Here's a brief bio on Emily Bauer. She's performed in regional theater, Broadway and European National Tours as well as television, film and soap operas. She's in demand and highly-regarded as a voice over artist. You can hear Emily's voice on cartoons, commercials, networks, toys, video games and of course, audio books. If that's not enough, she teaches acting too.

I was so excited, I sent her a quick email. The very next morning, she gave me a call. She was at the studio with her director, and they were getting ready to do the recording of my book. After talking for a few minutes, I was certain the novel was in good hands. Emily and the director, Lisa, really got my story.

Lisa invited me to call back during my lunch hour. So that afternoon, I left work, jumped into my car, found a quiet spot on the side of the road, and called in. Lisa held the phone up so I could hear Emily read.

Emily was amazing! She was exactly what I thought the character should be. She sounded like a feisty eleven-year-old. I loved it.

I wish I could describe what it feels like to be sitting on the side of the road in a New Jersey town, listening on the phone to someone reading the words from your very first novel. I was so overwhelmed, I cried.

Every once in a while, you get to have a perfect day!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I'm Launching My Blog and Sending My Book Characters into Orbit

For my very first blog post, I'm sending the two main characters from my debut middle grade novel into orbit. Tamara Ann Simpson and Douglas (Muscle Man) McGinty are now part of NASA's Glory Satellite Mission. Their names will be placed in a microchip that will become part of the spacecraft. When that satellite is launched, Tamara and Muscle Man will circle the earth. It's part of NASA's "Send Your Name Around the Earth Program".

Incidentally, the Glory Satellite is having a debut too. It's the first mission dedicated to understanding the effects of particles in the atmosphere. The satellite will collect data on stuff like volcano debris, dust and smog.

I'm thrilled that Tamara and Muscle Man will orbit the earth for years to come. It's a great way to celebrate a blog launch for a book that has the name Neil Armstrong in its title.

Check out the official certificate from NASA. The one shown is for Muscle Man. Tamara has one too!