A Very Bland Giveaway

Jaundice and Kale Bland can’t remember the last time they left the house. I can relate. Can you?

Tomorrow (5/19) is the pub day for the paperback of Flight of the Bluebird, the final Bland Sisters adventure! In honor of this auspicious occasion, I’m hosting a giveaway. Here are the rules:

  • Channel your inner Bland Sister on Twitter and tweet one thing you actually enjoy about staying at home, using the hashtag #BlandSisters.
  • One entry per person. US entries only. Contest will end at 11:59 ET pn Thursday, 5/21.
  • Three winners will be announced on Twitter on Friday, 5/22.
  • Each lucky winner will receive signed paperback editions of all Unintentional Adventures, three Bland Sisters bookmarks, and a Bland Sisters button!

(Not actual size.)

Who knows? Despite all this confinement, you might emerge victorious — talk about an unintentional adventure!

 

A CAMP OUT Contest

Hello, everyone! You may have heard two things about me lately:

  1. After a bad fall a few weeks back, I’ve had my right arm in a cast. Yes, I am right-handed. On top of everything else going on, this has been…challenging.
  2. I have a new book coming out on Tuesday (5/12), the fourth in the Infamous Ratsos series, titled The Infamous Ratsos CAMP OUT!

CAMP OUT is about many things (camping trips, scouting, poison ivy, the perfection of s’mores and the grandparents who provide them) but it is first and foremost about how asking for help is just as noble as offering it. I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person who likes to feel competent and independent and really enjoys accomplishing things, so feeling helpless — let alone asking for help — does not always come easily. But in the physical state I’m in now, I can’t do a lot on my own: I can’t spread cream cheese on a bagel or write my name or even tie my shoes. So I’ve had to ask for help, again and again. It’s a bit scary, making myself feel so vulnerable, but it’s also a relief, that I can’t even pretend to be together and in charge all the time, which is just as exhausting as having your arm in a cast.

So I’m going to run a little contest this week. Tell me via Twitter (@karalareau) about the last time you asked for help, with the tag #InfamousRatsosCampOut. You’ll have until Thursday 5/14 at 11:59pm ET to post. I’ll choose three winners at random and will announce them on Friday. Each winner will receive their very own signed copy of The Infamous Ratsos CAMP OUT, along with…

…a kit for making your own s’mores!

Though it might be tough to go out camping these days, don’t let that stop you — check out my Pinterest page here for some tips for camping indoors or in your backyard!

(US entries only, and one entry per person. Winners will have to wait until the end of the month to receive their prizes, as I can’t sign books until my cast is removed!)

A World Read Aloud Day GIVEAWAY! (UPDATE: We have a winner!)

Hello, educators and librarians! Are you still floating from those ALAYMA announcements this morning? I know I am. I’m thrilled for all the winners!

At the same time, I’m thinking about the other big event this week: World Read Aloud Day. I’m SUPER BUMMED I’m not able to participate this year, but I still want to find a way to celebrate. So here’s the deal:

  • My publisher has sent me 7000+ (yes you read that right!) PROJECT FLUFFY bookmarks (photo evidence above).
  • I’d like to give away most of these to your students. I’ll be picking the first winner for this giveaway. Each winner will receive 500 bookmarks (enough for an ENTIRE SCHOOL, hooray!) and a signed copy of PROJECT FLUFFY for your library!
  • ENTER TO WIN by posting a review of ANY Infamous Ratsos or Bland Sisters story on Amazon, then email me your contact info here.
  • Even if you don’t win, I’ll still send you 25 bookmarks (enough for one classroom, or to use as reading rewards).
  • This contest will run until 12:01am EST on Friday, February 1st. US entries only.

Good luck, and HAPPY READING!

UPDATE: The first winner is Kimberly McDermid! Congratulations!

Bland Voyage.

I knew this day would come. I just didn’t realize it would seem to come so fast.

I’ve devoted the past 2+ years of my life to Jaundice and Kale Bland. For the majority of the time I worked on The Jolly Regina and The Uncanny Express and Flight of the Bluebird, I was suffering from a chronic (and chronically-misdiagnosed) bronchial infection, so you might say I’ve given this series my heart and soul AND lungs.

This final adventure, Flight of the Bluebird, was especially fun for me, as it allowed me to pay homage to the Indiana Jones movies, which are among my favorites (well, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade, specifically — I’m not a big fan of Temple of Doom, and don’t even get me started on the travesty that is Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). The chase scene involving the Daughters of Sekhmet (a fierce biker gang) is an almost shot-for-shot recreation of one of the chase scenes from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the moment where Beatrix Airedale goes over the embankment (and is feared lost by the Bland Sisters) is inspired by a similar scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!

So it’s hard to say goodbye for many reasons. But Flight of the Bluebird sees the Bland Sisters embarking on a new set of adventures (no spoilers — I won’t offer any further details), and I’m off to chart some new horizons, too. Aside from the Infamous Ratsos series (of which there are still three remaining stories I’m working on!) I also have a new chapter book series in the works, and a picture book with Caldecott Award-winning genius Matthew Cordell. And I have a new project about go go on submission (fingers crossed).

I like to think that just as there’s so much of me in Jaundice and Kale, they’ll always be with me, in my mind and heart (and yes, maybe even my lungs). I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, and even though it’s over, you can be sure you haven’t heard the last of me. This ride’s just getting started, folks.

P.S. The winner of my pre-order giveaway is Carolyn Davis! Congratulations! I’ll be in touch!

P.P.S. I hope you’ll join me on my Flight of the Bluebird Blog Tour this week — if you still want to enter to win a signed copy of the book, my friends are offering lots of giveaways! Here is the schedule (though the Storymamas blog is down today, they’ll be running their giveaway through their Facebook, Twitter, and IG accounts):

P.P.P.S. If you don’t end up entering or winning any giveaways and you’d like a signed copy of Flight of the Bluebird (or any of my books!) you can order from my local indie! (Just be sure to put your personalization in the Order Comments section so I know how to sign it.)

P.P.P.P.S. If and when you do read and happen to enjoy Flight of the Bluebird, and/or any of the other Bland Sisters adventures, I’d appreciate it if you’d leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. It REALLY helps.

 

 

 

A Bland New Book

Fasten your seatbelts.

The final book in the Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters trilogy is taking off on January 8, 2019. It’s called Flight of the Bluebird.

I’m still getting used to the idea that this is the last book I’ll ever write about Jaundice and Kale. (Though it’s certainly not the end of their story, as you’ll see when you read it.) Despite how challenging this series has been to write, these girls have thoroughly charmed me. I hope you’ve been charmed (however-Blandly), too.

And I hope you’ll help me celebrate this final chapter. I’ve partnered with my neighborhood indie bookstore and I’m running a preorder contest over the next month — I’ll choose three winners, and each winner will receive signed and personalized hardcover editions of ALL THREE Bland Sisters adventures, as well as 2 pieces of mystery swag!

Here’s how it works:

  • Preorder Flight of the Bluebird (link here) and I’ll sign and personalize it once it’s published on 1/8/19. Be sure to add how you want it personalized in the order comments. (While you’re at it, feel free to order any and all of my other titles, and I’ll sign/personalize those, too — if you order soon, you’ll get them in time for the holidays!)
  • Email me here with a photo/screenshot/printout of your receipt. That counts as one entry to win!
  • You can also promote Flight of the Bluebird on Twitter or Instagram; use the hashtag #FlightoftheBluebird and mention me (@karalareau) so I see it. Each time you promote the book counts as another entry to win!
  • The contest ends at 11:59pm EST on January 7, 2019. I’ll then draw the three winners and they’ll be announced here and on my Twitter and Instagram feeds on pub day, January 8, 2019. US mailing addresses only.

Thank you so much for supporting my books and accompanying me on this however-unintentional adventure — good luck and BON VOYAGE!

Cars, Butterflies, and Pez: Addressing Toxic Masculinity as a Writer and a Parent

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It happened on Christmas Day this year. My son was showing everyone the Wonder Woman Pez dispenser he’d just unwrapped, when one of my (female!) relatives scoffed, “That’s for girls.” Thankfully, there were plenty of us on-hand to refute that claim, but the statement was out there. And my four-year-old’s brain is like a sponge. It seems like a little thing, but raising a child is all about little things, which can sometimes turn into bigger things later on.

We’ve all seen the statistics: that only three mass shootings since 1982 have been committed by women, that men commit more than ninety per cent of all murders, and are more likely to drink to excess, to suffer from anger disorders and undiagnosed mental illness, and to commit suicide. We’ve read about (and, all-too-often, experienced first-hand) the denigration and harassment and assault from men who feel entitled to women’s bodies and/or compelled to assert their dominance. And by now, we’ve all heard the term to describe what many (including this author) consider the root of this crisis: toxic masculinity. Just as there are social constructs that limit girls and women, boys and men face their own lifelong struggle. They’re taught not to show emotion, to solve conflicts with violence, to devalue authentic friendships, to refuse help, to view women as objects and conquests. And above all, to not appear or act feminine. (For more information on this issue, the documentary “The Mask You Live In” is a must-see.)

So, what can we do? As a writer, I’m trying to examine and dispel gender stereotypes in my work; my chapter book series, THE INFAMOUS RATSOS, addresses a different aspect of toxic masculinity in each story: the first is about the façade of male toughness; the second, The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid, is about admitting fears and different definitions of bravery; the third will be about personal connection and empathy; and the fourth will be about accepting help. While the main goal in my writing is always to entertain, I’m hoping these stories also encourage further thought and even discussion.

As parents, my husband and I are committed to raising our son without gender limitations, and while we champion equality, we are honest with him that our world has a long way to go. We encourage his interests, which are currently cars, butterflies, reading, music, cooking, geography, the weather, rainbows, glitter…and yes, Pez. We remind him that everyone’s body is their own territory — and while we love that he’s affectionate, we also remind him to ask before hugging someone, and that everyone has a right to say no. We praise him when he expresses his feelings in a healthy way and makes other “good choices” in his behaviors, and we make sure we model those behaviors, too, including solving conflicts peacefully (well, as peacefully as we can!) and apologizing and admitting when we are wrong. And we foster empathy — particularly through the books he reads. In honor of #WomensHistoryMonth, here are just a few of our current woman-powered favorites:

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill

Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

Windows by Julia Denos, illustrated by E.B. Goodale

The Duck, Duck, Porcupine books by Salina Yoon

The Charlie and Mouse books by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes

I Am Enough by Grace Byers, illustrated by Ketara A. Bobo

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Why Am I Me by Paige Britt, illustrated by Selina Alko and Sean Qualls

Please feel free to comment with other titles (even books for older readers, as I am starting to collect those for him, too) you think might further this cause. And of course, I welcome any other suggestions you might have for raising healthy, empathetic boys. As my husband and I tell our son, none of us is perfect, and we all need help sometimes — even (and especially!) grownups.

(The photo above is of my son, enjoying a gentle moment with one of his butterfly friends.)