Lists resources

Books for Kids Who Want to Write

Books for Kids Who Want to Write

If you know of a kid who is an aspiring writer or a kid who just likes to write, I’ve got a surprise for you. Inspired by all the fun I had during NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo I thought it would be fun to speak directly to the kiddies to see what they’re excited about when it comes to getting their thoughts down on paper (or computer).

I decided to host a writing workshop just for kids. It’ll be fun and funky and I hope to inspire kids to find their inner voice and put it to good use. All kids have a story to tell and I feel like maybe they just need a vehicle to help bring it out.

Here are the links to my writing workshops. They have online components, so location is no problem!

Fun and Funky Kids Writing Workshop I 

Fun and Funky Kids Writing Workshop II 

Depending on your child’s interest, you can enroll in a one day session or a more indepth two week session. Students will have homework. Click the links or the images to register or for more information.

And now on to the books! Here’s a list of books that your budding writer might enjoy reading to help them hone their craft.

Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander 

This is not a primer on how to write, but rather inspiration. Alexander and friends have written poetry celebrating famous poets. You might just find the inspiration you need!

My Weird Writing Tips by Dan Gutman

Dan’s the man when it comes to weird. Kids familiar with the so famously funny My Weird School series will love seeing their favorite characters help them with grammar and other writing tips. His explanations are funny and SO accurate.

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

The (marvelous other princess type books) author provides homework assignments and tips for getting your story to shine. I liked this book so much I bought it in paperback and Kindle so i’m always near a copy when I need ideas. Her tips are good for grownups too.

The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli

I’m anxious to read this because I love LOVE Eileen Spinelli and i think she will be a great person to help kids find their writing voice. Everyone gives our heroine an opinion of what makes a good story, but she’ll have to figure it out for herself, right? Plus? There’s a pirate on the cover and you know how we feel about pirates.

So. You’re all set. If you want to work on your next magnum opus (thats fancy latin for BIG WORK) start with these books. If you’re ready to get started, think about signing up for my workshop. I guarantee we will have fun!

Books Diversity Reading Challenge

Discover Black History Month with Toni Morrison

Discover Black History Month with Toni Morrison

Sula by Toni Morrison


You can’t have Black History Month without Toni Morrison, right?

After all, Oprah picked Sula as a book club choice in the 90s!!

Let the record show that I already knew about Ms Morrison by then. (smirk)

I think my first Morrison book must have been

The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

“Pecola prays for her eyes to turn blue so that she will be as beautiful and beloved as all the blond, blue-eyed children in America.”

It seemed to me that Pecola and I shared the same desire. How did Morrison know??

Because she’s Toni Friggin Morrison, that’s how.

Paradise by Toni Morrison

I can’t remember if I read this Jazz. I must have.

Jazz by Toni Morrison

I’m beginning to have one of my brilliant ideas.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

I think I will take ALL of my Toni Morrison books (my Toni shrine)

on vacation this summer and have a little Tonithon.

A Toni re-reading marathon. A Tonithon.

Which is your fave Toni Morrison book?

Disclaimer:  while these books are for grown folks, I’m sure many teens will enjoy these as well.

There is violence, sexual violence and language in these books. It’s up to you to decide what’s right for YOUR child.

Happy discovery.

Qualifies for the Diversity Challenge too.

2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Adult Fiction

Interview with @YeahHunter, author of Imogene in New Orleans

I LOVE getting into the heads of authors and am thrilled they are willing to take time out of their schedules to speak with us! Today I have Hunter Murphy, he’s the author of Imogene in New Orleans, a mystery that features characters that just happen to be gay. And so funny.

Imogene in New Orleans by Hunter Murphy

UNCONVENTIONAL LIBRARIAN:  Welcome to our interview! Let’s get started. Do you drink coffee?

Hunter Murphy: Oh, do I ever drink coffee! One of the great pleasures of my life is coffee. I cannot imagine a good life without it. We’re living in a glorious age of coffee right now. In my city alone there are probably a dozen roasters. As often as possible, I purchase their products. At least a few weekends a month, I like to use my French press and almost everyday I grind my own beans. I could write you a book about my love for the stuff.  

UL. Coffee is life! However, at this printing, I’ve given it up. And boy to I miss it. But enough about you.  Do you like donuts or cookies? Do you dunk?

HM: I like both cookies and donuts. Like Homer Simpson once wistfully asked, “Donuts. Is there anything they can‘t do?

UL: Homer is so right! Donuts can do EVERYTHING. How did your book get started? 

HM: My book got started thirteen years ago when I wrote my first story about Imogene and the boys and had such a good time with them that I decided to feature them in a mystery series.

UL: Imogene is so fab. I hope to be as fab as her when I’m in my 80s. What else have you written?

HM: I’ve written two unpublished books that I plan one day to get published (the first features Jackson’s introduction into Billy and Imogene’s family and the other is a coming of age story set at the University of Alabama where a college student attempts to solve a longstanding mystery at the university and sort of finds himself along the way). Currently, I’m working on the next murder mystery in the Imogene series which I hope to have out in 2016.

UL: Yay, more Imogene! If you could have any superpower what would it be? 

HM: I would want to fly. Definitely. 

UL: Flying? Me Too! Kindred spirits, you and I. What makes you happy?

HM: I’m happiest when I’m reading a great book or in the middle of writing one of my books. Reading and writing books is like living two lives at once. Being in the ripe thick of a book is one of the best feelings you can have. What a gift.  

UL: I couldn’t agree more. Why live in reality when there are books? Wrapping up now, anything else you want to tell us? 

HM: I want to tell you to purchase my book. You will feel better. It will help you lose weight and grow rich. Ok, not really, but it will look good on your shelf because the cover designer Philip Pascuzzo did a phenomenal job. He’s an artist and I’m punch-pleased with how the book looks. Also, I want to thank you for interviewing me. I really appreciate this opportunity.

If you’d like more information on me, please visit:

UL: Well, I think it just might help you lose weight, cuz donuts can do anything! Although there are no donuts in Imogene, we will have to settle for pralines and beignets (ain’t ashamed to love them too)!

So, buy Hunter’s book because you will be thin and sexy (if that’s what you want), and because if you don’t he will put me in his next book and make me mean and ugly. But seriously. We need more books with LGBT characters!

Books Young Adult

C. Lee McKenzie, author, of Sudden Secrets sits down for an interview

Sudden Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie I LOVE interviews!

They’re a chance to get to know authors better and see how their minds work. Today I’m interviewing C. Lee McKenzie who wrote Sudden Secrets.  You might not know this but I’m pretty sure the C stands for Chariot and the Lee is short for for Leeks, those cute little oniony things that look like mini pompoms. Chariot Leeks. Great name, majestic and helpful.

UNCONVENTIONAL LIBRARIAN:  Welcome to our interview! Let’s get started. Do you drink coffee?

C. Lee McKenzie: I absolutely do. It must be freshly ground, dark roasted, preferably from Costa Rica, and sold to me by Tim at the Roasting Company. Other than that, I’m not too fussy.

UL: Oh, Tim. Yeah I like that guy too.  Do you like donuts or cookies? Do you dunk?

CLM: We’ll I’d have to resign from the human race if I didn’t like these. However, I seldom eat donuts. When I do, I’m a devoted dunker. Cookies I don’t dunk. I like them crunchy.

UL: Hopefully with sprinkles? Now for the hard stuff, how did your book get started?

CLM: This one has been inside my head for a long time. It started with a story I heard about a recluse. I had a hard time understanding how anyone could lock themselves away and never step outside their house. Then I went to an exhibit of the haute couture of the 40’s-90’s, and somehow these two idead merged. If I understood why, I’d tell you.

UL: Yeah hmmmm that is an interesting concept. What else have you written?

CLM: Sliding on the Edge (Westside Books) was my debut novel, then came The Princess of Las Pulgas (same publisher). Double Negative was my third young adult book and my first one with Evernight Teen. I write realistic-contemporary stories, but when I needed a break, I wrote Alligators Overhead and a sequel, The Great Time Lock Disaster. These are middle grade stories, and there’s very little that’s realistic about either of them. 

When I first started writing I wrote a lot of short stories, and I was lucky enough to have several of them published. I hope to pull those together into a collection one of these days. And speaking of collections, I really love being asked to contribute to anthologies, so I do. I have three stories in three different anthologies now: The First Time, Two and Twenty Dark Tales, and most recently, Beware the Little White Rabbit.

UL: Wow. You’ve been really really busy.  If you could have any superpower what would it be?

CLM: Flying. Absolutely. I’ve always dreamed of having an eagle’s view of the world.

UL: Ah me too. Kindred spirits! What makes you happy?

CLM: Just about anything. I’m really easy to make happy. Good coffee. Interesting conversation. Quiet writing time. A great hike up a mountain. Pasta.

UL: Pasta! Wrapping up now, anything else you want to tell us?

CLM: It’s always fun to be a guest on blogs that are about writing and writers. I’ve enjoyed visiting yours for a while now, so this “appearance” is very exciting. I’m probably going to go into hibernation come November, so I can finish a book and take a trip, but other than that, I’m planning on staying in touch with my blogging community and connecting with writers and readers as much as possible.

See how wonderful Chariot Leeks McKenzie is? Check out her other works at her blog  and find her on Twitter. I’m just gonna tip toe around that alligator tho…


BookGirlTV is My New Fave Channel on YouTube @SamiJoLien @BookGirlTV

Tessa Smith McGovern finds the best new books to read for BookGirlTV so you don’t have to and takes you behind the scenes with today’s top authors.

With BookGirlTV, McGovern cuts through the advertising and hype to find what books you should be reading right now. She aims to save people time and money by only highlighting exceptional books that readers will want to finish and to provide readers with an interactive, entertaining and life-enhancing monthly video book club that fits anyone’s schedule. BookGirlTV also works to shine a light on under-recognized female writers, both emerging and best-selling, and can help new authors learn strategies and wisdom from successful authors.

The most recent edition of BookGirlTV’s author interview show, ‘Just Books with Tessa Smith McGovern’ features an interview with Linda Fairstein about her book “Terminal City,” which reveals the “dark side” of New York City’s Grand Central Station. McGovern’s upcoming interviews include Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise and author of The Promise of a Pencil, and author and journalist Anna Quindlen.

BookGirlTV also produces a series called BookGirlBUZZes, 1-2 minute book reviews that tell you what a book’s about (don’t worry, no spoilers here!) and whether those 5 star Amazon ratings are accurate – think of it as the mobile version of your local bookstore clerk.

BookGirlTV airs Thursdays at 4 p.m. on YouTube and BookGirl.TV and after on Facebook, Twitter, BlipTV, Dailymotion, iTunes, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Reddit, Roku and all connected TVs. The BookGirlBUZZ mobile app for Android and iOS allows people to stay up-to-date and watch BookGirlTV on their favorite mobile device. The email newsletter also keeps people in the know about new episodes of BookGirlTV and offers the chance to win free books, many of them signed.

About the BookGirl: Tessa Smith McGovern, originally from England, published her first short story in 1996 and has continued to publish work while also founding eChook Digital Publishing and hosting and producing BookGirl.TV. McGovern’s linked short story collection, “London Road: Linked Stories,” has earned high praise, including being the Gold Medal Winner in the 2012 eLit Awards. McGovern also teaches at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, NY.

You know I’m a fan of Youtube (you HAVE seen my channel, right?) so I love anything connected with books.  Check her out:


Good Writers Live in Our Hearts Forever: Maya Angelou and Walter Dean Myers

It’s true: while we want our fave writers to live forever, it’s just not possible. I mean, realistically, what would it be like if Shakespeare was still alive today? He’d be like 350 years old right? The thing is, writers never really die. Their legacies live on forever in our hearts. Your fave line or illustration will always make you smile; that’s why it’s your favorite.

We’ve lost two memorable writers of color this year: Maya Angelou and Walter Dean Myers.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 
— Maya Angelou




I’ve reviewed Myers’ books before.  Take a look herehere, here, and here. I’ve read most of Maya Angelou’s books, too, I just haven’t reviewed them. Guess we should rectify that.


“We all think we’re different, but when it comes around, we end up needing the same things. Somebody to love us. Somebody to respect us.” 
— Walter Dean Myers (Carmen)


Thanks for always giving us a good word, Maya and Walter and for showing the world that people of color do have a voice and it’s relevant.


THE ART OF NEIL GAIMAN by Hayley Campbell

When you hear the name Neil Gaiman, what do you think of:

  • Coraline
  • Good Omens
  • Chu’s Day
  • Fortunately the Milk
  • Ocean at the End of the Lane

or the countless other titles that the prolific writer has penned? In the bookstore I work in, when you hear the name Neil Gaiman, you will prolly hear a shrill OH MY GAHWWWWW followed by a whole lot of other unintelligible squibbles.  We’re kinda keen on Neil. That’s what so great about books and Neil, specifically. When you find one you like, you are instantly connected to any of a number of people from all walks of life who also like Neil Gamain’s work! It’s like making instant BFFs.

When birthdays and holidays come around, I want you to consider gifting The Art of Neil Gaiman to them.


You know what? Scratch that. The Art of Neil Gaiman is a book for everyone! Neil Gaiman fans will swoon over it.


Who doesn’t love Coraline and “Other Mother” (I’ll admit it creeps me the heck out)?

Music lovers will love Neil cuz he used to be in a band with the Beetles or someone else English. I forget their name.


Not THEM. He wasn’t IN Duran Duran.

Was he?

So, music isn’t your schtick? Do you have a Goth friend?


Maybe they’ll like the Death Gallery.

No matter what you’re into, The Art of Neil Gaiman has got something for you. The best thing about the book, however, aside from the cheeky one liners and wild hair is that you get the impression that Neil is a real human being who cares about his friends. And maybe, just maybe, that comes through in his books and why we all feel connected to him and to each other.

Was that last line too deep?

I thought so.

Can you believe Neil Gaiman has learned to say “poop”?

hahaha better.



Self Published Authors Wanted!

Self Published Authors Wanted!

Are  you a self published author? Have you written a great book, novel, short story, novella, or picture book and want to tell the world about it?

Need social media exposure?  Need an alternative to a blog tour? Just want to try something new?  Here’s your answer:

Buy an ad spot on An Unconventional Librarian.

Why?  As a blogger and a book seller I understand the importance of getting the right book into the hands of a reader. Readers can’t buy your book if they don’t know it exists! So the question is, if readers don’t see your book in a bookstore where can they see it?

cAtchingfirepam copy

The answer is: on a blog just like this!  More and more readers trust book bloggers as a source of finding their next great read. They like us and as a result trust our judgement based on shared interests.  It’s kind of like the alliance Katniss and Peeta form with other champions in the Quarter Quell, without the menacing monkeys.  Readers who come to An Unconventional Librarian like middle grade, Young Adult, and children’s books.

Buy an ad spot on An Unconventional Librarian’s site and get easy additional exposure to potential readers. Choose your weapon below to help fight off President Snow and get noticed by future readers and friends.



Conferences resources

11th James River Writers Conference

jamesriverWriters, mark your calendars. The James River Writers Conference is celebrating its 11th
year as one of the most prestigious gatherings of published authors, literary agents and editors in the country with a two-day event that will inspire and educate writers on the rise.

The James River Writers Conference returns to Richmond on October 19 and 20 with an impressive lineup of  literary professionals, writing workshops and opportunities for aspiring writers to pitch their book ideas, hone their skills and connect with nationally recognized authors and publishers.

This year’s conference features an extensive list of esteemed guests and speakers including award-winning book designer and writer Chip Kidd, National Book Award-winner Kathryn Erskine and best-selling, award-winning author Christopher McDougall. Also making appearances at the conference are award-winning authors Cece Bell, Lydia Netzer, Megan Mayhew Bergman and Philippa Ballantine. Book Doctors and
Pitchapalooza founders Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry will be on hand, and don’t forget to make time for agents including April Eberhardt, Deborah Grosvenor, Victoria Skurnick and Paige Wheeler.

Year after year, the conference is lauded for its remarkable programs and its noteworthy influence on the writing community. It’s no wonder why hundreds of people have been flocking to central Virginia each fall since 2003.

“The James River Writers Conference [is] one of the best writers’ conferences in America,” says David Henry Sterry, of The Book Doctors. “If you’re a writer, do yourself a favor, get yourself to Richmond, Va., and go to this conference. It’s filled with warm, generous, talented writers, editors and agents.”

Registration for the annual conference is open, and writing sessions are already filling up. Find more details and a full list of programs at