Tu Books fall Friends & Family sale: a reader’s guide

If you haven’t noticed me talking about it EVERYWHERE, this week is Tu Books’ Friends & Family sale! We’re offering some pretty amazing discounts on our books—in particular, Cat Girl’s Day Off by Kimberly Pauley and Vodnik by Bryce Moore are only $1.99 in e-book format! And all our paper books are on sale for 35% off plus free US shipping. See the sale announcement for more details.sale

There’s not much time left, so hurry and take advantage of the sale while it’s still available!

And please share this link on with any friends or family who you think might be interested. Books depend on word of mouth to succeed, and no books more so than those published by small presses. If you believe diversity in books for young readers is important, or you just plain think we’re publishing awesome books, please spread the word!

For those who have already bought/read the books, please consider reviewing the books on Amazon or requesting the book at your local library if it isn’t carried there. Here are a few more things you can do, too.

If you’re not really sure what you should pick to read, though, I have put together a handy guide, according to interests and mood. Find your next weekend read here!

For older readers (young adult and adult):

If you’re looking for comedy, or you’re a fan of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or you love cats, or you have always wondered what your superpower would be, read Cat Girl’s Day Off—Kimberly Pauley’s love story to Chicago, John Hughes, and snarky cats who talk. Not to mention mystery (kidnapping of a celebrity blogger, murder plots) and adventure (literal cat herding).

If you love rich worldbuilding, inspiration from less-well-known fairy and folk tales, sympathetic characters, and complicated, dark humor,  read Vodnik—about a teen trying to avoid being drowned by a creature out of Slovak tales to capture his soul and put it in a teacup. Oh, and having to make a deal with Slovakia’s goddess of death to accomplish it.

If you’re looking for a (literal) kick-butt superheroine in a post-apocalyptic world, defending her family from despotic rulers and making the world safe for humankind, read Killer of Enemies—postapocalyptic Apache steampunk.

If you like dystopian tales with strong science fiction and human rights issues elements, read Tankborn and its sequel Awakening—hard science fiction with a romantic subplot set in a strict caste system in which “non-humans” are at the bottom rung.

Love books about reinterpreting old stories anew? Looking for a complicated father-son relationship, or love stories about genies and monsters and golem? Or a magical coming-of-age set in a rich historical time period? Read Hammer of Witches. Also the perfect classroom tie-in to a unit studying the events of 1492, particularly Columbus’s first journey westward, and particularly for reluctant readers who might need a “fun” story to get them into the history.

Read Summer of the Mariposas if you’re looking for a strong sisterhood story with no romance, a Mexican American retelling of The Odyssey, or a book that can best be described as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets Weekend at Bernie’s. This is a great gentle read for your advanced older middle grade readers and young teens looking for a clean read, as well as a great classroom tie-in to an Odyssey unit.

Wolf Mark is great for readers who love paranormal romance and science fiction. It’s best described as Burn Notice with werewolves—Abenaki skinwalkers, actually, written by one of the best Native American writers working today.

Diverse Energies is a collection of 11 dystopian stories that all star people of color—if you’re looking for where the people of color are in the future, here’s one collection of tales exploring that lack elsewhere. Stories from Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon (both of Diversity in YA here on Tumblr), Paolo Bacigalupi, Ursula K. Le Guin, and more.

For younger readers (ages 8-12), we also have a couple of fun books: The Monster in the Mudball and Galaxy Games: The Challengers.

Monster in the Mudball is the perfect first “real” middle-grade novel for your readers who have just graduated from chapter books, and it makes a great read-aloud as well. I like to think of it as Warehouse 13 for kids–an artifact inspector comes to town, and Jin, our main character, has to help her find the monster that hatched from the artifact before it eats Jin’s baby brother!

Galaxy Games: The Challengers is a hilarious romp of a book that basically involves the Olympics in space. Aliens come to Earth to recruit Earth kids for the biggest sporting event in the galaxy—and our hero is mistaken for the best kid athlete on Earth because he got a star named after him for his birthday.

Koreafest and parade

My cousin is in town this weekend, and we have a tradition of walking around wherever we are with our fancy cameras and seeing who can get a great shot. Not so much a competition as just a way of sharing our interest in photography (me: semi-pro hobbyist who used to think about photography as a career, him: indie filmmaker and professional at the Armed Forces Network). Today, neither of us brought our good cameras, so we had to rely on our cell phone cameras (me: a Droid X which is EXTREMELY slow in reaction time, him: iPhone).


It just so happens that there was a parade and festival in Koreatown today. I found out because I saw a poster on the wall outside the restaurant on 32nd Street last night where I stopped for dinner on my way home from work.


So we saw a bit of the parade—there were some really gorgeous hanboks




and other traditional clothing in several groups–



and then wandered down the street sampling ddukboki and kimbap and stuff like that. One of the drumming groups (below) was practicing for a performance on the stage. Not sure if they got the chance to perform—we left when it started to rain and when I came back to walk to the train on my way home, they were gone. The stage had a roof on it so hopefully they were able to perform. (Again, crappy cell phone pictures. I kind of like the blur, but I hated how I had no control over it.)






Below, here they’re making injeolmi (which I believe is the sticky rice paste needed to make things like ddukbokki—someone correct me if I’m wrong). I had a hard time getting the right information from my fellow bystanders because the two women I was standing next two disagreed on who was right. I think the one to my left was Thai, and she said it started out the same kind of sticky rice as Thai glutinous sticky rice, but the other lady said no, no, it’s injeolmi, which I have no idea how it relates to other kinds of sticky rice. I’ll have to look it up. I loved seeing the way they pounded it—I imagine this is much more of a traditional form of pounding it than something that’s currently practiced widely. But I could be wrong.


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As we stood eating ddukbokki and kimbap, a cameraman came up and asked me if I knew what I was eating. “Of course, it’s ddukbokki,” I said. He filmed me and asked me a few more questions (do you know why there’s a parade today, what do you know about Korea, why are you interested in Korea) and I answered him in a combination of English and my broken Korean (because he had just been talking with a group of ajummas next to us in Korean, so I knew he spoke it, and later he confirmed he’s with Korean TV station KBS).

So… if you’re in Korea, if you see coverage on KBS of the New York City Koreafest, maybe you might see me on TV! He seemed to expect that I wouldn’t know what I was eating, so he might not use it at all if he found someone who had no clue. Who knows?




Here’s my cousin and his friend trying on some mascot heads for a resort planned I believe on Jeju Island, which if you don’t know, a lot of Koreans describe as their version of Hawaii. Jeju is known for its tangerines and, I just learned from watching Tamra Island, had some pretty matriarchal traditions even in the years in which the rest of Korea was strictly patriarchal, due to the importance to their economy of the women who dove for abalone. I have a feeling that the show, of course, exaggerated a lot more than the comic-book nature of the plot, so I’m not sure how much of what they portrayed about the women wearing the “pants” of the family is historical fact, but it’s pretty cool and something I want to know more about. By the way, that show is called “Tamra” here in the U.S. but I’m unclear on why. If you listen to the actors when they refer to the old name for Jeju Island, they’re clearly saying “Tamna,” which is also what the Hangul says (탐나는 도다, Tamnaneun Doda).

And yes, I just about exhausted my knowledge of Korean right there, same as when I told the cameraman that “ddukbokki joayo” (ddukbokki is good) and being there made me “hangbokae” (happy). I’m sure I slaughtered the conjugation of the verb that means “is good,” but hey, I’m still a beginner. Also, if you end up watching Tamra the Island, don’t worry about Caucasian mullet-boy who’s supposed to be English but who speaks better Korean than he does English. It’s quite cheesy and the English is downright laughable at first in the first episode or so (the Korean actor is better at English than the “English” one who is actually a French model) but it’s a cute, comic-book-esque story that is worth sticking around for.

And I had a number of other interesting conversations with people who were surprised when I told them I watched Korean dramas. I thought the Hallyu was becoming a big thing now, but apparently it’s still surprising enough when a Caucasian is interested?

By the way, if you’re interested in learning Korean, I’ve found Talk to Me in Korean very fun and friendly to learn from. Their podcasts and videos are short (usually around 15 minutes) and very conversational, starting with very basic phrases like annyeonghaseyo (hello) and building from there in a nice logical way, and explaining things in a way that makes things make so much more sense culturally and linguistically, which is more than I can say for the book I’d been using before that. Living Language has been great in many ways, but they made what I’d already learned from my Living Language set make actual sense, and it felt like I was talking to one of my Korean friends rather than studying out of a book and listening to static phrases. I’m still going to use the Living Language book to study from, but I’m going to rely on TTMIK to tell me what it all means.

Dragon books

I’ve been a bit busy with the day job (we’ve been trying to get 7 books out before leaving for Christmas break—we all get the week between Christmas and New Year’s off—and it’s been a scramble) and finishing up the very last of the critiques (I have a small handful left that I want to get back to authors on before Tu opens for submissions). So it’s been a little quiet around here, sorry! But perhaps it’s a relief after all those posts about the Kickstarter. 🙂

Today I break radio silence to build a book list. My sister reports that my five-year-old nephew is going through a dragon phase. He already has A Practical Guide to Dragons (how could he not? I think I gave a copy to every relative who wanted one, and then some), along with the one I edited, A Practical Guide to Monsters. My sister called while in the bookstore, looking for books to go with a Christmas present, and I could only think of the Dragon Codex books I edited. I didn’t even think of the Dragonology books off the top of my head, which would be perfect for him—some reading, but a lot of tactical exploring, as well. So now I’m putting together a list of books for her to look up at the library.

He’s only five, so picture books are welcome for the list. I’m just not as well-versed in them, so I don’t have a great lot of suggestions in that category. I’d love early readers and chapter books, because he can work on those on his own (though he might need help for some of the more advanced ones). They also read aloud a lot together, so suggestions for middle grade novels are definitely welcome.

Dragon Codex books by R.D. Henham (Red, Bronze, Black, Brass, Green, Silver, and Gold)—full disclosure: I edited these. They’re GOOD. And so of course they go at the top of the list. 😀
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
How to Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell
Dragonology (& all related books)
Kenny & the Dragon, Tony DiTerlizzi
Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville
Puff the Magic Dragon (picture book—we loved the song as kids)
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke (I *knew* she had a dragon book!)
Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull—fun of all sorts, dragon doesn’t come in until most recent book
St. George & the Dragon by Margaret Hodges & Trina Schart Hyman
Magic Treehouse #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn (they love Magic Treehouse in their house–my nephew’s older brother devoured practically the whole series)

I know there are more out there. Suggest away!
Also, happy holidays! Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah (late), happy Kwanzaa (is it over yet? I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with it), and happy new year to you all.

Also, for those who were wondering

I’m not sure I posted about this here, though I did talk about it on Twitter and Facebook. Several weeks ago, my ten-year-old niece had a heart attack. She was rushed to Seattle Children’s, where she was in ICU for a couple weeks on bypass and a respirator. She successfully recovered enough to take her off bypass and the respirator, and as of last week was well enough that she was getting bored at having to stay in the hospital — good news #1!

My brother said a few days ago that she’s going back home to Minnesota this weekend, where she’ll be heading to the Mayo Clinic (thank heaven for good medical care for such drastic conditions! can you see why I’m so up in arms about health insurance? what if she didn’t live near the Mayo Clinic?) to have surgery to fix the original problem that caused all this. From tests, they’re actually not sure what exactly caused it, but they have suspicions about her aortic valve or something. Apparently the CT scans and other tests just didn’t clearly show the problem. Hopefully, the experts at Mayo will be able to pin it down more accurately.

At any rate, thanks all for your thoughts and prayers. There’s still a journey ahead — I’m sure the surgery is serious and she’ll have some definite recovery time from that as well — but they’re finding solutions and we’re all hopeful. Not exactly a fun way for a ten-year-old to spend a summer, but I’m glad they’re finding a solution.

LTUE and the undead cold

For the last couple of days I’ve been at BYU’s Life, the Universe, and Everything, sniffling my way through several panels. The zombie cold seems to be lightening up–it was a whole lot worse yesterday than it was today, though my nose still feels like it’s a drippy faucet.

So far I’ve had a great time catching up with local authors and readers who I usually see a few times a year–and hanging out with old friends who I see nowadays a whole lot more often than I have in the past. 🙂 Had some great salmon, etc. etc. Your average small local con (symposium!), but peppered with a high percentage of knowledgable published authors. We were talking about that at dinner tonight, actually–not that it’s news or anything to many people, but Utah really is a hotbed of authorly experience.

Tomorrow I’m on three panels, and if you’re heading to LTUE, I’ll inform you right now that I plan to hijack the noon panel on “the difference between MG/YA and mainstream [sic] books.” Yeah, baby, since we don’t have a moderator, I’ve come up with my own questions, because the four or five other panels we’ve already had in the last two days have already rehashed the definition of children’s books to death. So it will be a panel potpourri. Our first question: the ever-controversial “zombies or unicorns?” Given my cold, I think the zombies have it in for me, so I’m siding with Team Unicorn.

Stay tuned. I think it’ll be the best panel yet.

No, seriously. It’s an important question. Just ask Holly Black or Justine Larbalestier.


Had a great Christmas Eve with a friend watching the extended edition of The Two Towers, then slept in Christmas morning, opened the presents my grandma and sister had sent me (vintage Whitman’s candy tin! It’s so fun–my grandma’s been collecting them for years and decided to start giving them out to grandkids who might like them), then spent the rest of the day with friends. Christmas in my family is big–well, my family is big, so Christmas tends to be big: everyone goes to Grandma’s, goes to church with her for the midnight service, stays up late to stuff stockings and play Santa, and then gets up early to watch the little kids open their presents. It’s been changing over the last few years as travel becomes more expensive, but I’ve always loved being able to go to my hometown and spend it with family. Since I couldn’t make it home this year, it was nice to be able to spend it with friends.

Yesterday afternoon I came up to Salt Lake to visit another friend, and ended up staying the night because the blizzard moved in and there was no way I should be driving in that wind and snow and ice. So I crashed on the couch, and I’m hoping to get home today. I knew it was a possibility that I might not be able to drive home, so I brought a change of clothes and loaded the kitties up on dry food and water, so they’re fine, but I want to be able to get back home in time for anime night! I have more Wolf’s Rain… I think. It might not be coming until tomorrow. And I need to put my office back to rights and finish painting the last corner. It looks so nice! I think I’m going to run out of paint, so I’m trying to go thick on the visible parts and hey, if it’s white behind the ceiling-height bookshelves, well, I have to repaint when I move out anyway, right?


Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and that as Kwanzaa begins, Hanukkah ends, etc. that you’ve all had a good time with family and friends. Looking forward to the new year!