Monday, September 15, 2014

Alisha Braatz, The Awesome Book About God For Kids, #free book, #giveaway




AUTHOR: Alisha Braatz
BOOK TITLE: The Awesome Book About God For Kids
GENRE: Middle Grade / Early Reader
PUBLISHER: Harvest House

NOTE: Ms. Braatz is offering a copy of her book to one of my blog readers who "likes" her Facebook page.  Please be sure to mention in your comment on her page that you saw and read the post here.  She will then come back and announce the winner here and on her page.  Be sure to leave information on how she can contact you if you're the winner!


Please tell us about yourself.

Whenever I’m presented with this question, I simply don’t know where to start. I am special ops trained, I run marathon(s), and I travel the world at a moments notice. I have the reflexes of a Formula 1 driver, and am told I possess the singing voice of Whitney Houston coupled with the stage presence of Beyonce. After winning my fourth Jeopardy Championship, Alex Trebec asked me to step aside and let the more unfortunate contestants win a few rounds. I said, “Okay. But only for you, Alex.”

Outside of these primary accomplishments, I am a wife to a ruggedly handsome dude, and a mother to two truly precocious preschool girls. I am an ex-Realtor, lover of all Hotrods and fast cars, and a massively competitive board game player. Oh, and I love-love-love Hawaii.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?

I suppose that if one counts ‘full-time’ by a measure of eight or more hours at the desk per day, then no. I am not even close to being a full-time writer. But I think about my stories constantly! I have gargantuan epiphanies whilst making snacks for my kids. And I keep my notebooks close-by so that when I do sit down at the computer my time is well spent and my thoughts well-ordered.

As my children get older, my writing time fluctuates. I have to be ready to create when the quiet moments of play present themselves. Each day I can count on a two-hour block of dedicated writing time.

When and why did you begin writing?

As early as three. My dad made me a desk and I sat on an overturned peach crate for a seat. Then I took reams of that accordian-folded paper (from the ancient printers of yore) and wrote stories. Long—really long—stories. Of course, it was nothing but gobbly-goop, but I could tell you the whole thing.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

When I’m not writing, I am riding my long-tail cargo bike with my two girls. Or watching So You Think You Can Dance. My husband would like to think that I am doing the laundry or at least planning dinner, but the truth is...the girls and I just filled a bucket full of water and took turns jumping in it outside.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?

I once made the unfortunate mistake of sending a first draft to an editor (who had said to send what I had) and received back a full-page of hard-hitting criticism that included the thought that maybe I should be a reader, not a writer. I learned to never send in anything that was less than ready to go to print.

The biggest compliment I have ever received is to watch my husband read my writing. He doesn’t really like reading (I am AGHAST!) so when I can hook him, I feel genuinely proud.

Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?

It changed the way I submitted my work. But of course, I’m not patient. So I’ve had to relearn the basic lesson many times now.

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

To me, Writers Block happens when your characters stall out. They’ve hit a dead-end. They are no longer motivated to do anything, least of all finish the story. So to combat this, I always write a full outline first. Sure, things always change, but the main structure is there and you can remind yourself of the story arc over and over.

What are your current projects?

I finished my novel The House Account this year and have started the second installment, Cargo. They are upper middle grade thrillers in real-life settings (no science fiction or fantasy).

March 1991: 14-year old Braedon Soldatti witnesses two thugs manhandle his father off a homebuilding site and into the back of black sedan. With the help of a very unreliable Uncle, Braedon discovers that his Father has reentered dealings with a Seattle crime syndicate and has only three days to make good on a $150,000 loss, or he will not return home. Braedon must decipher his Father’s last enigmatic missive, outwit his adult adversaries, and battle the memory of his mother’s death to recover enough money to save his Father’s life.

The stories were inspired by the books that I inhaled as a teenager--all the Quiller thrillers, and Agatha Christie mysteries. Today, I still love a good Jack Reacher adventure.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

Facebook/Twitter: Alisha Braatz
I try to do updates relatively often, but can’t decide what to say most of the time.



Tell us about the current book you’re promoting. 

The Awesome Book About God For Kids is a fun, modern retelling of classic Bible stories. Daniel eats peanut butter and honey sandwiches and Gideon struggles with how God will use kitchen appliances to save the day. The book is a fresh read for kids and parents with a time to talk and ask questions at the end of each chapter.

What is your experience working or being around children or teens? 

After college I worked as an Au Pair in Italy for a year before settling down into ‘real life’. That was the most intense year of my entire existence. Still. Nowadays my real kids continually stretch me, make me laugh, and often confuse me.

What influences your writing?

Dave Barry. Erma Bombeck. Adam Hall. Agatha Christie. Now, you might notice, two of these writers are humor, and two are mystery writers. But they all four share a common trait: brevity. I like action. I enjoy books that move forward and don’t bog me down in too many lengthy descriptions of pine needles and pink sunsets.

Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done?

This is my first published children’s work, yes. Before The Awesome Book About God For Kids, I wrote a syndicated humor column for Inman News, a real estate publication. I also produced a lot of text for websites, print media and blogs as a small business writer.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?

While this book in particular is not a good example of something you have to outlineI mean, let’s be honest, the Bible pretty much lays the stories right out there—in my other work, I must outline. I may start the story immediately as the inspiration strikes, but before I get more than thirty pages in I require self-direction. Once the outline is complete (which is totally the hardest part) we can get on to the fun part: writing!

What books have most influenced your life? 

Fourth grade was the best year for reading EVER. I couldn’t put down The Indian in the Cupboard and Tuck Everlasting might still be my favorite story. There’s something indescribable about the feeling I got from these two books; something akin to: anything is possible. In my grown-up life I absolutely love Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River. I could read it endlessly. I also love Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian.

Describe your writing space.

I’ll describe exactly what I see right now: a small espresso-colored desk from Ikea, covered in my notebooks, Iphone, Kindle, notes from the last SCBWI conference, my Nespresso log-in information so I can order coffee when I am done with this interview, and a coupon to Pottery Barn.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Jean James and Mary James, Sea Red, Sea Blue





AUTHOR: Jean James & Mary James
BOOK TITLE: Sea Red, Sea Blue
GENRE: Mystery/suspense
PUBLISHER: April 25, 2014
BUY LINK:




Please tell us about yourself.
We are co-authors of 4 published books, the newest being the mystery novel, Sea Red, Sea Blue, published by Pelican Book Group, Harbourlight Imprint.

Our underwater video/trailer for the book: http://youtu.be/jwN__h862bw

Jean James: Before becoming a full-time writer, I was active in many outdoor pursuits. I collected live mammals and reptiles for international distribution, collected live venomous snakes for antivenom production, and was involved in sundry wilderness construction projects. I also worked as a press agent, a songwriter, and was the captain of a small, leaky cabin cruiser. I am the mother of six children, the youngest, Mary James, being my co-author on this book.

Mary James: I’ve worked in the music industry all my life. I could read music before I could read words and co-wrote original songs at age five. By age seven, I played the guitar, banjo, and violin, and was performing across the US both vocally and instrumentally. I now play eleven instruments, and my life has become one long road show interspersed with writing, TV, radio, and film work. I have co-authored four books, wrote a banjo tablature book of original songs, and host a Nashville TV show, Mean Mary’s Never Ending Street (Mean Mary has been my music performing name since I was five). I have just returned from a UK/Netherlands tour and am now touring the US with my music and our books.

Please tell us your latest news.
Our novel (Wherefore Art Thou, Jane? – book 1, Pate & Faircloth series) won first place in the Readers Favorite International Awards – mystery division. We drove to Miami for their very gala celebration where they presented us with gold medals. It was loads of fun!
Our video/trailer for that novel: http://youtu.be/6CNB5OLUPM0


Mary’s original banjo song, Iron Horse, was nominated for an IMA award.
Our music video for Iron Horse: http://youtu.be/6CNB5OLUPM0

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Jean James: I’m a full time writer, but I am also Mary’s videographer for her music tours, music videos, and for her Nashville TV show. Often my writing involves writing new songs and video scenes as well as writing books, and often my writing has to go with me on the road since I generally tour with Mary.

Mary James: I have to divide my time between the music and book writing. I have been touring since I was 5 years old, so it has become a way of life. I’m on the road more than I am at home. Often my mom (Jean James) and I work out song lyrics and book plots while driving to music events.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
We have two wonderful publishers–4RV Publishing and Pelican Book Group. We connected with them through our equally wonderful and hard-working agent, Terry Burns.

What are your current projects?
At present we are working on a music-themed, novel trilogy. This will also be a mystery. Book one is complete.                 

What do you plan for the future?
When the music-themed novel trilogy is complete, we will write book 3 of the Pate & Faircloth series (Jane, What Hast Thou Done?), a sequel to Sparrow Alone on the Housetop, a sequel to Hell Is Naked, and a sequel to Sea Red, Sea Blue.


How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

What genre do you write in and why?
We always write mystery/adventure (sub-genres in all our books would be suspense and romance).

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
Sea Red, Sea Blue is a Florida mystery. It was easy to write since we know the area well and have been involved in boating and swimming. The Gulf of Mexico is our favorite body of water.

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Although we have four published books, this was actually the first book we ever wrote. We love everything about Florida and the Gulf. We wanted to capture the romance of moving from a cold, snowy northern location to warm, sunny, south Florida. We know so many people who have experienced that firsthand.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
We generally have complex plots with a lot of action. We find it necessary to outline and also to have detailed notes about each character and a long list of possible scenes. We will sometimes end up with over one hundred type-written pages of notes and research before we start a book.

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
We have three published novels:
Sparrow Alone on the Housetop
Wherefore Art Thou, Jane? (Book 1, Pate & Faircloth series)
Sea Red, Sea Blue
One published non-fiction book:
                  God Knew There Would Be a Today
Mary’s published banjo tablature book of original songs:
                  The Sparrow and the Hawk

In the next year we have two novels coming out:
                  Hell Is Naked
                  Methinks I See Thee, Jane (Book 2, Pate & Faircloth series)

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?
Write! Don’t think about how many books are out there or how many people are trying to become famous writers. You are you, and nobody will write the same as you. If you have stories to tell, tell them your way. Listen to advice, but listen to your heart and your own good judgment too.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
We live, which is the most important research work any author can do. Every incident of every day becomes part of a new book or a new song. It doesn’t matter if we’re taking care of our households, working on a music tour, horseback riding, filming a new video, or building a new barn, every minute is important because that is what builds stories.  So technically, we are always writing.

What, if anything, bugs you when you read a novel?
If we come across something that’s not realistic, it’s difficult read further. When we write, we either know firsthand if some action is possible or we test it. If our hero climbs up the corner of a building, one of us attempts it to see how feasible it is. We have both read some ludicrous incidents in books where the author needed to do more research or indulge in some personal testing.




SYNOPSIS:

When KATHERINE GALE steps onto the white-sand beach, all her pent up longings say it is time to live boldly—to love boldly. Love sings in her heart when she walks the lonely beach. It draws her to the Miss Iris, an old fishing boat she is destined to own. It stabs deep when diver, LEE THORPE, walks into her life. It all feels so terribly right—but something feels terribly wrong. When the peril she had left behind in Chicago invades her new life, and the Miss Iris reveals secrets from a mysterious past, paradise shows its thorny side. A night of terror sends Katherine on the only course she can take, but the blue waters run red while Lee searches for Katherine’s path in the sea.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Kai Strand, Worth the Effort: Ayden’s Story, #free ebook, #giveaway




Note:  Penny, Ms. Strand would like to offer an e-copy of Worth the Effort: Ella’s Story the first novella in the series, to one lucky commentor. The winner will have a choice of electronic format. We will choose a winner from the comments left before 11:59 p.m. on third day after interview posts, so since this posted Monday morning, September 1st, the drawing will be 11:59 on Wednesday, September 3rd. 

AUTHOR: Kai Strand
BOOK TITLE: Worth the Effort: Ayden’s Story
GENRE: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
PUBLISHER: self-published


Please tell us about yourself.

I’m a wife and mother of four. I live in gorgeous, inspiring Central Oregon. I love to walk, eat pizza and I’m a Mozart fangirl. I’ve been writing all my life, but decided to pursue publication about eleven years ago. It took six years before I signed my first book contract.

Please tell us your latest news.

I ventured into the world of ‘hybrid author’ this year by self-publishing a young adult novella series. I’ve recently released the second book in the series, Worth the Effort: Ayden’s Story.

Ayden is a homeless teen. His circumstances (upbringing, reason for being homeless) aren’t what you’d expect. When he meets Ella, he finds a reason to overcome his circumstances and make some changes. But that is easier said than done. Ayden’s Story is heartbreaking and inspiring. And hopefully it will make you think twice about someone in an unfortunate situation.

What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?

The toughest rejection I received was from a magazine. The people were so hateful about everything. They said the writing was bad, the main character whiny. I can’t remember everything they said. Heck, it might even have been true, but I was shocked by the nasty tone from both editors. It was a very respected science fiction & fantasy magazine and I was stunned they could get away with being that way. Needless to say, I’ve never submitted to them again, or bought their magazine for that matter.

The biggest compliment came at a funeral of all places! I hugged a young teen who’d just lost her grandfather and said I wished there was something I could do to help her get through the pain. She said, “Keep writing. That helps. A lot.” It was so unexpected and left me speechless. That my stories could mean so much to her in a time of pain was truly the biggest compliment she could pay me.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

The Worth the Effort series was educational for me. I didn’t know a lot about homelessness, so I went on a field trip to visit a local non-profit that provides transitional housing to homeless teens. It was very inspiring to meet a few of the kids who are working to improve themselves and their circumstances. To shake hands with staff and volunteers who help the teens find their way. And to learn that Ayden’s circumstances aren’t as farfetched as they might seem. While I was there I heard a story of a young man whose situation was very similar to Ayden’s. Unfortunately, his story doesn’t have as happy an ending as Ayden’s. I left The Loft knowing I’d chosen the right story to tell.

What are your current projects?

I’m finishing the third and final book in my Super Villain Academy series. After that I might finally get to start writing the young adult contemporary romance that has been building in my mind.

What do you plan for the future?

Though I hope to continue to be a hybrid author, I’m looking for a young adult publisher to call ‘home.’ One that will publish both my fantasy and contemporary work and that will work as hard to sell books as I do.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?

My website: www.kaistrand.com has all the information you need on my books and links to my social media sites (facebook, twitter, instagram, etc).
My newsletter shares book news, event information, sneak peeks, etc. Readers can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/n8lCT

Any other news you’d like to share?
The third book in my Weaver Tales series releases in October. The Lumpy Duckling: Another Weaver Tale is a story of best friends. It is written for middle grade readers.


Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

Seventeen-year-old Ayden Worth shouldn’t have to seek peace of mind in the streets. But as family pressures mount, his anxieties increase, and he turns his back on comfort for a life in homeless camps and back alleys.

Then one fateful day he runs into the only person he ever wanted to know better. Ella Jones. His memories paint her as kind and undemanding, and it seems the years haven’t changed her. Her simple expectations draw him to her. Against all odds, a relationship buds and grows.

Yet, as Ayden repairs his life, Ella suggests he help others who also struggle. Will Ella turn out to be just like his dad, expecting more from him than he can give? Or will he prove that he is worth the effort?

Worth the Effort – Ayden’s Story is a young adult contemporary romance novella at 23,000 words.

What genre do you write in and why?

I write in a lot of categories. Mainly, I keep it geared for either young adult or middle grade readers. It is always fiction. Beyond that it might be set in a fantastical underground world with fascinating creatures, it might be set in an academy that trains super villains, it might be an eighth grade girl trying to regain her reputation after the media destroyed it, or it could be a high school girl falling in love with a homeless boy. I try to find the best setting to tell the story in. No limits there.

What influences your writing?

Mostly I write what I enjoy reading. I think that is why I hop from contemporary to fantasy and speculative fiction to romance. If you were to browse my “Read” shelves on Goodreads, you would find as eclectic a line up of books as you find on my website. I love it all.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

Lots and lots of feels. I want the readers who didn’t know about homeless teens to start thinking about that. I want readers who’ve never researched homelessness in their area to find out more about it. I want teens to recognize how many kids in their school are dealing with anxiety and reach out, show compassion. Lots and lots of compassion. But mostly, I want readers to realize there are no lines drawn around us in life. We do not have to limit our friendships to those in our social standing. We do not have strive to achieve the dreams others have set for us. We each are inspired differently and we should recognize what really makes us come alive and make that a part of who we are.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

When I decided to write the two novellas in alternate points of view, I didn’t realize how difficult that would be. Writing the second novella, I realized I had to do far more than show the scenes from Ayden’s point of view. Plus I discovered that as interesting as it was to learn what Ayden was thinking and feeling during those scenes, it became tedious for the reader if that was the only thing I gave them to read, so I had to choose only a few key scenes to dip into and show the alternate perspective, and then expand the story beyond the timeline in Ella’s Story to give the reader something new to look forward to. Finally, I had to make sure that if someone came into the series from Ayden’s Story, they wouldn’t be completely lost. The two stories were far more complex to write than I expected and that doesn’t even touch on the emotional factor.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Promoting. Okay, maybe it only feels like that. I love to spend time outside. I walk for exercise, enjoying the mountain vistas and blue, blue skies and usually an audio book. As a family we like to geocache, which gets us out into Central Oregon to explore the desert, lakes, rivers, waterfalls. All four seasons, sun, clouds, rain or snow, you’ll find me enjoying the outdoors.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?

Lots of buzz over a title, a compelling blurb, or an eye catching cover might be what draws me to a book. I want a story that has a rise and fall in emotion. Potential for the character to grow. Action or sweet romance don’t hurt either. I like a complex main character, too. I really only choose to read books with ‘light’ stories and surface characters if I’m in a book coma from a previous story and just don’t have enough in me to invest in another journey.

Thanks so much for having me!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Richard Seidman, World Cup Mouse






AUTHOR: Richard Seidman
BOOK TITLE: World Cup Mouse
GENRE: Children’s Middle Grade Fiction (ages 6 to 10)
PUBLISHER: Catalyst Group, LLC


Please tell us about yourself.

I love to make jokes
 and funny business. That’s one of the main reasons
I enjoy writing – to amuse myself and children 
(and also the big children that we call “grown-ups”). For me, funny business is a way to love life, and it’s
 also a way to transform sorrows.

I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I was a really shy child, and to tell you the truth, I’m still pretty shy. When I was growing up, playing games and sports and reading were the favorite things I enjoyed, and they’re still the favorite things I enjoy today!

In the 1970s, I moved to Portland, Oregon, and in 1989 I founded the nonprofit tree-planting group, Friends of Trees. I’m proud that all these years later Friends of Trees is still going strong. Since the beginning of the organization, more than 10,000 volunteers have planted more than 500,000 trees.

I wrote a nonfiction book for grown-ups, Oracle of Kabbalah: Mystical Teachings of the Hebrew Letters, that was first published in 2001.  This fall, I’ll be publishing a revised version, A New Oracle of Kabbalah.

I’m a member of SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and a founding member of a local children’s book writing critique group. I compiled and edited a nonfiction children’s book for Benchmark Education, I Am Deaf and I Dance: A Memoir. I now live in Ashland, Oregon with my beloved wife, Rachael Resch, our chickens, and our myriad stuffed animals and other small friends.

What inspired you to write WORLD CUP MOUSE?

In his brilliant book, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Uraguayan author Eduardo Galeano writes of soccer great, Pelé: “Those of us who were lucky enough to see him play received alms of an extraordinary beauty: moments so worthy of immortality that they make us believe immortality exists.”

When I was ten years old in the early 1960s, I was fortunate to see Pelé in his prime and receive some of those alms of beauty. It was an exhibition game in New York, and Pelé was playing for his club, Santos. At one point he electrified the crowd, which was mostly immigrants since soccer had not yet become widely popular among US-born people, by scoring a goal with a bicycle kick over his own head. I still get chills thinking about that moment.

That luminous moment fifty years ago was, in a way, a spark for the creation of World Cup Mouse. One thing I like about soccer is that even short people, like Pelé (and yours truly) have an opportunity to excel. That possibility inspires the hero of my book even though he’s only two and a half inches tall!

World Cup Mouse was also inspired by my years coaching youth soccer and my love of other literary mouse heroes such as Stuart Little, Doctor De Soto, and Norman the Doorman.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?

I like to read, play music, hike, have fun with my wife and friends, and practice Karate (After training in the martial arts for eighteen years, last fall I finally earned a black belt in Shotokan Karate.)

Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I like what poet William Stafford said when he was asked what he did when he experienced writer’s block. “I lower my standards.”

I try to get through it with patience, perseverance, having a sense of humor about myself, and faith that inspiration and fun will be renewed. Sometimes it’s an indication that I need to take a break for a while, and sometimes I just need to press on and keep chugging away.

What are your current projects?

I am adapting World Cup Mouse to be a screenplay for an animated film. I’m launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to self-publish the new edition of Oracle of Kabbalah. And I recently started a coaching business, Catalyst Coaching, to help other writers, artists, and entrepreneurs move past impediments and live the creative life they desire.

What do you plan for the future?

I’m planning a sequel to World Cup, and also a couple of illustrated middle grade novels.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?


Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.

World Cup Mouse is about a mouse in France who falls in love with soccer. His dream is to play for France in the World Cup. His father tells Louie his dream is absurd and grandiose. His mother worries that it will be terribly dangerous and he might get squished. But Louie is determined, and inspired by his motto, “Where there’s a mouse, there’s a way,” he gives it his best shot.

The book is about 150 pages long and includes great illustrations by Ursula Andrejczuk.

What genre do you write in and why?

I love writing middle grade fiction. I love the palpable feeling of magic and possibility that can live in books for seven to twelve year-olds. I don’t feel very drawn to writing about sex and romance and teen-age and adult angst.

Why did you choose to write a children’s book?

To me, kids’ books are more fun to write and more fun to read. They can be serious while also being full of magic and hope.

What do you hope your readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers will be inspired by the old mouse’s words of advice to my hero, “It doesn’t matter what anyone says. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hero or a fool or even if you’re not good at it. It only matters that you pursue what you love with all your heart and try to become better.”

Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children’s literature?

Read as much as you can in your genre and others. Join SCBWI. Become part of a good, supportive critique group. Go to conferences. Keep writing. Revise, revise, revise. Writing for children is a serious, important craft. Children deserve our very best work.

What book are you currently reading? What do you like or not like about it?

I just started reading The Giver by Lois Lowry. So far, I am very taken by Ms. Lowry’s clear writing style and the ominous world she is creating.

What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?

My favorite part of being an author is connecting directly with children at schools, bookstores and libraries. I love the interaction with the kids and seeing their curiosity and enthusiasm first-hand. My least favorite part is marketing my books, but I understand that is part of the business, and I owe it to my readers and to my books themselves to have people become aware of them. 


CHAPTER 1
Danger in the Library

A rock shattered on the sidewalk three inches in front of Louie LaSurie.

“Get out of here!” a man shouted. “Next time I won’t miss.” He clapped his hands. “Shoo!”

Louie froze in place, whiskers trembling and eyes opened wide. He had been daydreaming about playing soccer as he trotted down the sidewalk toward the Marseille Public Library. He should have been paying better attention.

Animals and humans could speak with each other, of course. But Louie’s mother said it was safer not to. “Humans are too unpredictable,” she warned. “A lot of them are nice enough, but some of them hate mice.”

This man was obviously one of the haters. But Louie was mad now. He forgot about his mother’s advice. “Why should I get out of here?”

The man sneered. “Why? Because you’re vermin. You’re just a mouse. You’re nothing.”

Louie clenched his paws. “I’m not nothing! I’m somebody!” The man snorted and stomped away. “I’m somebody!” Louie yelled again. “And you’re a dope,” he added under his breath. His face hot with anger, Louie sprinted the rest of the way to the library. In fact, Louie thought, I’m not just any somebody. I’m somebody who’s going to be the first mouse soccer player in the history of the world!

Louie squeezed under the door. The library was closed this late at night. He shook off the raindrops clinging to his beret. He stood still for a moment and breathed in the delightful smell of books. Then he shot across the cool marble floor of the lobby to the magazine room. He shimmied up the leg of a reading table in the sports section.

Louie was in luck. An article about the 1982 World Cup tournament was lying open on top of the table. With the newspaper spread out under him, Louie scampered back and forth across the page as he read each line of text.

What a team France had back then! What great players. Platini. Giresse. Tigana. He read how France lost to Germany in a penalty kick shootout in the semifinals. Louie groaned.

Jingle-clink. What was that? It sounded like jangling keys. Louie lifted his head.
A man carrying a mop and a bucket of water sprang into the reading room.The janitor!

The man yelled, “Et voilà! Now I’ve got you, you scoundrel.” Louie gasped. He was too shocked to run away. “I was only reading,” he said.

The man wore a nametag over his left breast that read, Gaston Trudeau. “I don’t care,” Gaston said. “I don’t allow mice in my library.”

Louie was about to say, “It’s not your library,” but he had no time because the janitor ran straight at him with the mop raised over his head. Louie jumped off the table all the way to the floor. The impact knocked the wind out of him. The janitor bounded toward him. Gasping for breath, Louie dodged between the man’s legs. The janitor turned around fast. The mop came smashing down in an explosion of dust right next to Louie’s head. It sounded like a million firecrackers. Louie saw stars. He didn’t know where he was any more. He ran straight up the inside of the janitor’s pant leg. The hairs on the man’s leg made Louie sneeze.

Gaston did a frantic dance and Louie tumbled back to the floor. The man lifted his foot. Louie saw the huge boot flying right at him. He rolled to his right. The boot came crashing down a half inch from Louie’s chest. Louie scrambled under a table. His heart was pounding like mad. The janitor, on hands and knees, followed him, poking at him with the mop handle.

“Please, calm down,” Louie panted.

“I will not calm down!” Gaston yelled. He made a quick thrust with his mop and Louie felt a flash of pain as the mop handle slammed onto his tail, pinning him to the wall.
           
He was trapped!