Archive: August 2011
PETER NIMBLE is an ABA New Voices Pick!

Every year, the American Bookseller’s Association selects ten children’s books from debut authors for their New Voices list.  I am delighted to announce that Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes made the cut!!!


In fact, little ol’ Abrams had THREE different authors on the list!  Julie Sternberg’s Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and Troy Howell’s The Dragon of Cripple Creek were also honored!  To see the full ABA New Voices list, click the thumbnail.  Then go out and hug an independent bookseller!

 

Also, I should remind readers that today is the LAST DAY to enter to win an awesome Peter Nimble T-Shirt! All you have to do is leave a Peter Nimble review (good or bad) at Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes & Noble. Every review you submit counts as an entry, so you can triple your chances by doing all three.  Now get reviewing!1

 

 

 

 

 


  1. for official giveaway rules, click here.
Feeling Misunderstood & The Writer’s Praxis …

Last week author Nathan Bransford posted a question on his blog that I have been thinking about for a long time:

He elaborated very little on the question, only adding that his gut said it might be determination. The power of Mr. Bransford’s blog is such that he can sort of just lob a huge question into the universe and get a gigantic response from enthusiastic readers — I’m talking hundreds of people weighing in.1,2

When I glanced down the many responses from readers, I noticed that they fell into two distinct camps. The first group agreed with Bransford, listing traits that point to a strong work-ethic — “determination,” “passion,” “persistence,” etc. The second group focused more on traits that make up the writerly psyche — things like “curiosity,” “honesty,” and (my favorite) “bloody mindedness.” Obviously, this is a trick question; there’s no one answer to what makes a writer. But looking down this list, I felt like both types of answers were missing an essential element.

Consider the work-ethic answers. Are determination, passion, and persistence important to a writing career? Of course! However, they are in no way unique to writers. Success in any career requires these qualities.

The other camp at first seems more tailored to writers. They perfectly capture the fact that every writer has a unique point of view that (arguably) deserves expression. There’s only one problem: these personality traits have nothing to do with the actual act of writing. Curiosity, honesty, and bloody-mindedness could just as easily apply to a person who aspires to write but never gets around to it.3

To truly answer the question, we need to find a trait that combines the artistic outlook with the professional drive to get things done … in short, we need praxis. “Praxis” is a theological term that essentially refers to the point where faith becomes action.4

So praxis for a writer would be the thing that makes them translate their unique personality onto a page. My storytelling gut tells me that this praxis would likely be some kind of personal experience — an event (possibly traumatic?) that forces them to react by writing. I can’t speak for every author, but when I consider events/moments that spur me to actually write, I think of one thing:

feeling misunderstood

This feeling has plagued me my whole life. Every time I’ve sat down to write something, it’s because I feel fundamentally misunderstood by those around me. Writing is a chance for me to articulate all the things going on inside me in a way that I hope will make sense to others.

The good news is that this never goes away. As of this month, I finally have my first novel in the world(!), and every time I read a minor quibble in a review, I feel the same burning shame and frustration that filled me as a child whenever a teacher or parent misunderstood what I had been trying to say.

It’s that feeling of being misunderstood that pushes me to write another story. And another. And another.

UPDATE:  Nathan Bransford just revisited the topic on his blog, highlighting what he thought was a particularly poignant response from one reader.  Click here to read. 


  1. Not that I’m jealous.
  2. Yes I am.
  3. Also, serial killers.
  4. Students of philosophy might recognize the term from reading Kant, who argued that praxis was the application of philosophy to actual events.
Barrie vs. Auxier: Narrator Showdown!

I’m sure regular Scop readers are getting sick of all my recent publicity-style announcements about Peter Nimble. In that spirit, I am going to restrain my gushing about last week’s book launch party to the footnote at the end of this sentence.1 Instead, I want to focus on one question that came up during the Q & A from blogger/teacher Monica Edinger.

Monica wanted me to discuss how I had patterned my narrator after the narrator in JM Barrie’s Peter Pan.2 Though flattered by the comparison, I didn’t agree with her point. I wasn’t able to sufficiently respond to her at the event, but I did follow up with an email, which I’ve excerpted below.

My Three Reasons that the Narrator in Peter Nimble Is Different than the Narrator of Peter Pan:

Barrie’s Narrator plays God. While my Narrator does occasionally press the “pause” button to explain something directly to the reader, Peter Nimble essentially reads like a retelling of historical events that the Narrator has no control over. Barrie’s Narrator, on the other hand, holds all the cards. Consider how he suspends the children’s approach to Neverland so he might explain how the place works. Doing so creates a sense in the reader that Barrie’s Narrator is making up the story as he goes — and should he need to invent a murder scene to show Hook’s ruthlessness, then he will do so at his leisure!

Barrie gives his Narrator a special vocabulary. If the digressions of Peter Pan indicate that the Narrator is spinning his tale, his language enforces it. More than once, Barrie uses opaque terms that have no grounding in the real world. A perfect example of this would be Mrs. Darling’s “kiss,” which never really gets explained. That’s because there is no explanation beyond its offhand use. Unlike the teacherly essayists of the 18th century (and, I would argue, Peter Nimble’s Narrator), Barrie’s Narrator isn’t interested in sharing/defining this special vocabulary with his readers.

Barrie’s Narrator sentimentalizes childhood. While Barrie isn’t afraid to let his child characters get a little bloody, he still maintains an infatuation with their innate innocence reminiscent of the Romantics. Even in calling Peter Pan “heartless,” there is a sense of longing in the Narrator’s voice … children are to him pure in a way adults will never be. I would argue that in the Narrator of Peter Nimble, we may find affection toward our young hero, but never adoration of the level that Barrie uses for Peter Pan… the Narrator of Peter Nimble, for example, would never suggest that Peter or Peg contains something special that adults like Professor Cake do not.

Monica was kind enough to respond. While she agreed with my above points, she also thought I was ignoring one major similarity in our writing — specifically how both our narrators are able to move between character perspectives. I’ve reprinted Monica’s excellent response below (with some minor edits).

Monica’s One Gigantic Reason That I’m Wrong:

When reading Peter Nimble I noticed the omniscient narrator as a character, breaking through here and there to explain things … I became extremely aware of this sort of narration due to Philip Pullman.3 Philip speaks of his narrator as a sprite, a character who can flit all over the place. I did think you did that as did Barrie … isn’t your narrator in that tradition of being able to be in different places, inside the minds of different characters, etc.? This is what Philip finds so fascinating about the omniscient narrator and me, too.

And just like that, I’m forced to completely reverse my opinion on the subject! Going through the book, I realize that a narrator that shifts perspectives is a pretty rare thing, and other than Barrie, I can’t think of another early author that does it. Well played, Ms. Edinger.

And she’s not alone! This very same topic came up last week in an interview with author Kate Milford … and my response was similarly dense.

What’s the moral of this story?

Never trust a writer to talk about his own book. He’s an idiot.


  1. Holy crap, it was AMAZING! We had about 90 people show up … which is a lot more than they had chairs for! I got a chance to meet so many wonderful readers, and reconnect with old friends. We gave away Peter Nimble t-shirts to everyone who asked questions. There was also a birthday cake, which was delicious! (I even forced the people to sing “happy Birthday” to me!) The biggest treat of all was that my father, who had just had emergency surgery in DC, checked himself out of the hospital that morning so he could show up and surprise me — I may or may not have cried upon seeing him. For those interested in seeing some pics, you can go here, here, or here. Also, Adam Silva did a great rundown of the event here.
  2. I have a well-documented love for Peter Pan. Betsy Bird outlines a few Barrie connections in her School Library Journal review. Also, I talk about the relationship between one of my main characters and Wendy Darling in this interview with Bookpage Magazine.
  3. Yes, she is on a first-name basis with the man! For those who are interested in the subject of the “sprite” narrator, I’d advise you to check out Monica’s very-excellent post on the subject here.
Behind the Cover of Peter Nimble …

 

Recently, both my designer and cover artist have posted blog pieces talking about the process of making the Peter Nimble cover.   Illustrator Gilbert Ford walks through the process on his blog, including showing an early idea for a die-cut cover with psychedelic eyes!  Abrams designer Chad Beckerman continues the conversation, talking not only about the illustration ideas, but also the process behind settling on a typeface and selecting paper/foil for the hardcover casing — definitely worth checking out!

It’s my birthday! Do what I say!

Today is my birthday!  To celebrate, I’ve got interviews in BookPage magazine, Literary Rambles, and a wonderful Peter Nimble review from librarian blogger Hip Mama Jenn.1  Did YOU forget to get me a gift?  No worries!  Here are three easy gifts I would LOVE to receive …

GIFT #1:  Your presence at my Book Launch Party tomorrow!  This Thursday, Abrams is throwing a Peter Nimble party at Books of Wonder in New York.  Mary and I will be there with bells on.  If you’re in the area please, please, please come! There will be snacks and sparking wine and giveaways and readings and books!  Bring friends! Click the flyer for details –>

 

 

GIFT #2:  Your hilarious thieving confession for the #GreatestThiefWhoEverLived Kindle giveaway.  If you want to enter to win a free Kindle with a copy of Peter Nimble loaded onto it, all you have to do is follow these three easy steps:2 

1)  Follow me on Twitter.  (click here)

2)  Re-Tweet this contest announcement. (click here)

3)  Post a tweet sharing the awesomest thing you’ve ever stolen (or wish you could steal)!  You MUST include the following hashtag: #GreatestThiefWhoEverLived

 

GIFT #3:   Your short Amazon review for Peter Nimble!  You don’t have to be a fancy critic. You don’t even have to say nice things (… but please do!).  Just write a short review for Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes & Noble.  I’m giving away free T-Shirts to five randomly-selected reviewers at the end of the month.  Every review you submit counts as an entry, so you can improve your odds 1,000,000% by doing all three.3

 

  1. Please note that these interviews also are giving away free copies of Peter Nimble, just click here and here to enter!
  2. It’s seriously worth checking out the previous entries, which are amazing and funny! For full rules and information about the Kindle giveaway, click here.
  3. My math might be wrong on this. For more information about the T-shirt giveaway, click here!
Five Tips for Keeping a Writer’s Journal …

Hey, readers!  Today I’ve got a post over at The O.W.L. about how to keep an artist’s journal.1  I’ve blogged about keeping a journal before, but this time the piece is written for kids who want to start writing.   Still, the five tips I mention are applicable to pretty much everybody.  Also, the site is giving away a copy of Peter Nimble to one lucky commenter — you should check it out!


  1. O.W.L. stands for “Outrageously Wonderful Literature,” of course!
Win a Copy of Peter Nimble on a FREE KINDLE!!!

 You may recall me mentioning that Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes comes out this week!  To celebrate, I’m giving away a FREE KINDLE with a copy of the book on it!1

But first, please consider buying a hard copy of Peter Nimble.  You can order it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or you can pick it up at your local bookstore.  Abrams and Penguin Canada have done an exquisite job of making the book a beautiful object.2  For those who don’t know, Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes is a middle-grade adventure about a ten year-old orphan who happens to be the greatest thief who ever lived.  It’s got mischief, danger, riddles, vanished kingdoms, and a whole lot of swashbuckling!  To read a slew of glowing reviews, click here or here.

Enough talk, let’s get back to the contest!  Since Peter Nimble is the greatest thief who ever lived, I thought I’d make this contest about sharing our own darkest crimes …

HERE’S WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO TO WIN A KINDLE:

1)  Follow me on Twitter.  (click here)

2)  Re-Tweet this contest announcement. (click here)

3)  The third and final step is to post a tweet sharing the awesomest thing you’ve ever stolen (or wish you could steal)!  You MUST include the following hashtag: #GreatestThiefWhoEverLived

For Example:

  • I’ve always wanted to steal a traffic cone to wear like a hat! #GreatestThiefWhoEverLived
  • I once “borrowed” all my little sister’s Halloween Candy! Yum! #GreatestThiefWhoEverLived
  • Stole my wife’s heart! #GreatestThiefWhoEverLived

Confession time, people!  Everyone’s either stolen or dreamed of stealing something awesome before  — and now’s your chance to come clean!  The answers can be serious, or silly, or sappy … just make sure they include the #GreatestThiefWhoEverLived hashtag.  The winner will be selected on August 15th at midnight … Now get Tweeting!3

For those of you who hate Kindles and have already read Peter Nimble, I’m running a special t-shirt giveaway that you can enter here!  Seriously good odds on this one, folks!


  1. I should note that the idea for this contest was swiped from Nathan Bransford, who gave away a Kindle for his recent novel Jacob Wonderbar.  Nathan is a great blogger and brilliant promoter.  His contest was pretty much the only giveaway I’ve ever entered. Also, his book is pretty great!
  2. And I mean beautiful.  It’s printed on high-quality acid-free stock. The edges are beveled.  From the dust jacket to the casing, this is one fine piece of paper! (all credit for the look of the book goes to the brilliant Chad W Beckerman)
  3. A few rules:  US residents only. Only one entry per person.  Winner will be selected at random (using random.org) and notified by DM. Winner will receive an Amazon Kindle-With-Special-Offers Wi-Fi 6” Graphite Reading Device and an eBook copy of Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes. Please note that I am not liable for any trouble you find yourself in for confessing past crimes. Also, I am in no way condoning theft or lawlessness.
Peter Nimble Hits Stores Today!

Well, the time has finally come!  Peter Nimble & His Fantastic Eyes is officially out!  Today, a blind, friendless orphan floats out into the Wide World …

Poor kid.  All he really wants is for a nice person to adopt him.  If you do run into Peter Nimble, here’s how you should react:

And then you should buy him and take him home!  If my recommendation isn’t enough, check out what some recent reviewers had to say about the book:

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes is as delightful a magical story as readers ages 9-14 will hope to find. Part hero quest, part orphan saga, and wholly captivating” – Wall Street Journal

“A charming, adventurous, delightful gem of a novel about a brave boy that is both thief and a hero. I loved it from start to end. That is all.”  – BookSmugglers

“A stunning, stunning debut novel. Brilliantly conceived, filled with masterful descriptions that provoke not only the imagination with sights, but also with sounds, smells and touch.  From the first few paragraphs I was spiraled into a story, much like Alice falling down her rabbit hole, and caught up in a tale of the completely fantastic and I loved every single second of it.  Every one.” – Lost Entwife Reviews

“Anything can happen in debut author Jonathan Auxier’s fantastical world. Even kids who read widely and suspect from the beginning that blind, orphaned Peter Nimble is destined for great things will be caught up in the suspenseful doings and surprise twists. And this book may well convert those who don’t consider themselves readers.” – Shelf Awareness

Plus there’s this crop of glowing trade reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Quill & Quire, School Library Journal, and Kirkus!  And if that’s not enough, I will direct you to my homeboy Darth, who knows a thing or two about good stories:

 

BUT ENOUGH TALK — let’s get to the facts! Here’s everything you need to know about the Greatest Thief Who Ever Lived:1

  • Canadian readers (and I know you’re out there!) can order a copy of the lovely Penguin edition, which will ship on August 9.2
  • If you’d like to read the first chapter of the book, you can do so here.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP.  If you are so inclined, here are some super easy things to do that will go a long way toward spreading the word:

  • Buy the Book! Either for yourself or for a young reader in your life.  Early sales go a long way toward helping a new book break out from the pack!   If you’ve read and enjoyed the book, loan it to a friend — the more people that know about Peter the better!
  • Come to an event!  I’ll be having a launch party at Books of Wonder in New York on August 11th from 5-7pm.  After that, I will be back in California doing events all over the area — stay tuned for details!  If you’re not in the area, please swing by my Author Q&A on Goodreads.  Also, if you’re a book store, library, or school in the Southern California area, feel free to contact me about setting up an event!
  • Write a Review!  If you read and enjoyed the book, please, please, please take a few minutes to write a review on Amazon and Goodreads — that kind of feedback goes a long way to help get the word out!  If you’re a blogger or book critic, I’d love to send you an ARC (or you can download it from NetGalley).
  • Ask Your Local Bookseller for the BookWith so many books out this fall, a lot of smaller bookstores won’t necessarily have a copy in stock — and that’s why it is SO IMPORTANT to let stores know that you want to see Peter Nimble on the shelf!  Don’t know where your nearest bookstore is?  Click here!
  • Request Peter Nimble at your Library.  Same as above, libraries won’t carry a book unless they know that people will check it out.  This has the added advantage of letting you read the book for free!  And who doesn’t like free?
  • Spread the word online!  Post a link to the book on your Facebook page or blog.  Or you can re-tweet this announcement.  If you’re a book blogger, I’m spending this month doing guest posts and interviews all over the web and would love to contribute to your site!
  • Get your Friend/Spouse/Mother to write an Amazon ReviewAgain, I cannot stress how helpful user reviews are — you don’t need to be a book critic to have an opinion!  In fact, to sweeten the deal, I’m giving away five Peter Nimble t-shirts to randomly-selected people who leave reviews (good or bad) on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble.  Each review posted counts as an entry, which means you can triple your chances by posting to all three sites! T-shirts, people! 3

And last, but certainly not least, everybody should …

ENTER THE HUGE CONTEST THAT I’M ANNOUNCING TOMORROW!!

see you then.


  1. It’s probably worth mentioning that the format of this announcement post has been modeled after author Catherynne M Valente, who knows a thing or two about promotion.
  2. The eBook and audio versions are still being finalized; I will keep you posted as to when they will hit stores.
  3. Some basic rules: winners will be chosen by random number picker on August 31. Names will be announced on this blog, so make sure to come by at the end of the month to see if you’ve won!
We Have Our Winners!

Hey, Gang!  This was an exciting weekend for me.  My in-laws in Pittsburgh threw a lovely little release party for the book.  The night ended with a very late call from my Canadian family — all screaming “WALL STREET JOURNAL!”  So I went online and found this wonderful review of Peter Nimble, which includes phrases like “delightful” and “wholly captivating”! 

Even more exciting, this weekend marked the end of the most recent Peter Nimble giveaway!  Using a random number picker, I selected five winners from the hundreds of entrants.  Each person gets a signed copy of the book and an awesome hand-printed Peter Nimble T-Shirt!  Here they are:

Michael Scotto

Michael is a fellow graduate of the CMU Dramatic Writing program.  He lives in Pittsburgh and writes books for children — his upcoming novel, Latasha and the Little Red Tornado, hits stores this November. (He also wrote a pretty nice Peter Nimble review here!)

 

Rita Meade

Rita Meads runs the wonderful librarian blog Screwy Decimal.  Readers of The Scop will remember when I drew a picture based on her blog post about “The Library of the Future!” Congrats, Rita!

 

 

Nikki D Robertson

Nikki D Roberston runs the blog True Adventures of a High School Librarian.  She is also moderator for Alabama School Library Association twitter chat group.  

 

 

Mary Ann Scheuer

Mary Ann is a K-5 Librarian in Berkley, CA.  She runs the blog Great Books for Kids, where she posts reviews on new picture and chapter books!

 

 

Kristine C. Asselin

Kristine is a MG and YA author from Massachusetts who runs the blog Writing. For Real.  You can read about her nonfiction children’s books here.  Nice work, Kristine!

 

 

*           *          *

Instead of a regular post today, I would kindly direct you all to Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe, where the lovely Shannon Messenger has interviewed me about writing for younger audiences.  Those burning to know more about my secret past as a professional yo-yo player are advised to check it out.  Shannon’s also giving away a copy of Peter Nimble to her readers, so if you still want a free book, here’s your chance!

Tomorrow marks the official US release of Peter Nimble — at which point I will unveil the (kinda huge) prize for my next giveaway.  See you then!