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This is why I write for kids

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Does Hugh Howey get fan mail with googly eyes? No, he does not.

I know authors for adults get letters from their readers, but I doubt Margaret Atwood’s fan mail is created with crayons and comes with googly eyes. And that’s her loss.

I love getting letters and emails from readers and recently an amazing teacher in the US contacted me to say two of her students, Zoya and Elijah, were big fans of my Max Finder Mystery you-solve-it comic series. They love watching the short comic mysteries on Tumble Book Cloud Junior and they wanted to tell me all about it.

In addition to the amazing covers to their letters (seen in the photo above), Zoya and Elijah each took the time to write me and let me know exactly why they liked the mysteries and which ones were their favourites.

Check them out (click on the image to make it bigger):

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An awesome letter from an awesome fan! Click image to make it bigger.

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Max Finder fans write amazing letters! Click image to make it bigger.

 

Thanks for making my day with your letters Zoya and Elijah! There is a package of Max Finder goodies on its way to you. Enjoy and happy reading!

If you’re a teacher or a parent who knows a fan of any of my books, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at: mail [at] liamodonnell [dot] com to say hello or to get my mailing address. I will always write back!

 

How my talk on comics got hijacked (and then saved) by that blocky game

So, here’s the scene:

It’s a busy Saturday at the Toronto Public Library’s Book Bash children’s festival. There’s kids running around everywhere in the TPL’s Northern Branch. There’s stacks of books (obviously). There’s busy balloon-animal maker.  And then there’s me talking comics to a room full of kids.

I have a lot of fun giving my Panel Power presentation to libraries and school groups around Canada and last Saturday’s Book Bash talk was no different. I was about halfway through the talk, showing kids how I come up with my ideas when disaster struck.

The Power Point presentation on my laptop crashed.

I’m talking one of those, crash-so-you-can’t-click-anything kind of crashes. It just froze. And to be honest, so did I.

I made a few uncomfortable jokes, which the adults in the crowd laughed at politely. I clicked a few buttons and generally tried to look like I was in control.

I wasn’t.

One of my clicks must have gotten through because suddenly Power Point closed and my desktop wallpaper was projected on the large screen behind me for all to see.

This is what they saw:

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This is what I heard:

“Minecraft!”

Instantly, the frozen laptop was forgotten. Many of the kids in the audience were suddenly sitting up in their seats, eyes wide and ready to talk. And talk we did. Ender Dragons, Withers, World Edit plug-ins and more.

For a few minutes, we chatted back and forth excitedly about video games, that other alternative literacy that, like comics, is big with reluctant readers everywhere.

While my laptop sorted itself out and I chatted to the kids, I was struck (once again) with just how important these other forms of literacy are to young readers. Parents might roll their eyes, librarians and teachers might scoff (but many don’t!) at the mention of video games in general and Minecraft in particular.

I remember when the same could be said of comics in the classroom and the library. And I’m happy to see this attitude changing.

I’m also happy in my choice of computer wallpaper.

As a gamer-geek and  elementary school teacher, I often have Tech Teaching ideas to share with fellow educators, librarians, homeschoolers and parents/guardians. I deliver these resources and ideas to your inbox in my monthly e-newsletter Reading Change.

If this sounds like something you’d like to receive, then subscribe to Reading Change. You can unsubscribe anytime and I won’t share or sell your data. Honest.

Thanks!

Liam

 

Early holiday present brings new mystery series!

With Christmas only a day away, I wanted to share with you a present from my creative pal, the amazing Mike Deas.

Introducing Tank & Fizz, monster detectives extraordinaire:

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Tank & Fizz monster detectives and their pals.

They are also stars of Tank & Fizz Mysteries my brand new series, illustrated by Mike Deas and forthcoming from the amazing Orca Publishers.

This series has been in development for a while, but I’ve kept quiet about around here.  With these rough character sketches from Mike, the series is officially underway!

If I had to describe the series in one (really long) sentence, this would be it:

Tank and Fizz Mysteries is a monster and magic-filled dieselpunk-fantasy-noir mystery series for young readers gaining confidence with chapter books.

Think Max Finder Mystery meets Monster Manual for readers in Grade 1 – 3 and you’re getting there.

Expect to hear a lot more about this new series and these characters from Mike and I in the coming months.

In the meantime, here are a few more beasties young readers will get to know very well:

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The rest of the monstrous characters.

 

Big thanks to Mike Deas for sharing the illustrations, Orca Publishers for agreeing that a detective series starring a troll and a goblin would be a good idea.

So, what do you think? Do you see giving Tank & Fizz Mysteries to a young reader in your life? Let me know in the comments below!

Feeding Change Dings Ten. What the – !?

Yikes! I just realized that four days ago, this blogged turned 10 years old. Ten. Wow.

It all started with this post in 2003 where I railed against Flat Stanely cozying up to Karl Rove from Bush Inc.

And I haven’t stopped railing ever since.

That’s not true. I did stop in 2008, when I started teaching and was burned out by sharing my mind chunks with the interwebnets.

The rise of games in education and people getting it wrong changed all that. Watching educators, tired of being excited about wikis, suddenly get excited about video games got me blogging again.

And I’ve kinda meandered around talking about writing, technology in education, video games as learning tools, and a particular blocky game that folks just can’t stop playing.

I made friends through this blog, connected with people around the world and generally had a lot of fun speaking my mind.

It’s been a great decade. I’m looking forward to a few more decades down the line.

Ganked Ten Day Giveway

With the print edition of Ganked now available, it’s about time I ran a giveaway contest. So here you go!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ganked by Liam O'Donnell

Ganked

by Liam O’Donnell

Giveaway ends December 14, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

It all kicks off tonight at midnight and will run for 10 days. Hop into Goodreads and enter to win two autographed copies of Ganked (and other goodies, too!)

 

Why I’m Launching Ganked Quietly in a Noisy World

Ganked-drop-shadow2525-500WFriday was a bit of a quiet celebration day around here.

First, it was Friday and that always puts a spring in my step.

Second, my young adult gamer geek mystery, Ganked was officially released into the world as an ebook. The print edition will follow in mid-November.

I say it was a “quiet celebration” because Ganked was released without much fanfare or rafflecoptering giveaways, blog hops or well, much of anything really. It just kinda became “available”. And I couldn’t be happier.

After publishing 30-odd books and participating in my fair share of book launch parties and signings, I’ve decided a quiet book launch is the way to go in this very noisy world. And it’s not because I’m becoming a crusty old writer.

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