Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for Soaked by A.J. Cosmo


Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Tour, presented by Goddess Fish Promotions, for Soaked by A.J. Cosmo.  Please leave a comment or question for A.J.  to let him know you stopped by.  You can enter his tour wide giveaway, for a $75 Amazon or Barnes & Noble GC, by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.  You can also follow all of th stops on his tour by clicking on the banner above.  The more stops you visit, the better your odds of winning. 




Before we start, I just wanted to sincerely thank you for taking a look at my work and asking these refreshingly direct questions. It's wonderful!   A.J.


Me:  What made you specialize, as it were, in transitional books for children?  What do you currently think is the average age of a "transitional" reader?

A.J.:  I view transitional reading as the bridge between picture books and full-fledged young adult prose. I design my work to use illustrations as treats, more than references for the action, so that it breaks up the monotony of text. My audience tends to fall in the second to fourth grade reading range while first graders often read my best seller, The Monster That Ate My Socks. That age range (6-10) is what I define as transitional. I don’t just mean that in the academic sense either, I think this is the age where readers are born and others simply abandon the practice outside of assignments.

Me:  You recently posted on your blog about the challenges of getting young boys, who then become teen boys and adult men, to read and about how young girls and women have surpassed them when it comes to literacy.  Are you planning any special or additional original materials for boys? Parents of boys?

A.J.:  I do not currently have plans for additional material, such as lesson plans, because the books themselves are meant to fill that perceived need. What has happened with children's literature is similar to what has happened to cinema over the last thirty years. Studios perceive that only young men go see movies in droves, so our theatres are filled with content specialized for them. At the same time they say women, particularly minority women, don’t go see films, so they don’t produce a lot of content for them. It's as if a shoe store only sold one size of shoe. Sure, there's a wide selection of shoes to choose from, but they only come in one size. My challenge to the industry and to other writers in that article is to put the cart behind the horse. Offer this demographic of readers content suited to them and then tell me there's no interest.

Me:  How do you decide what social issue to tackle in your books?  In Soaked, it's clearly bullying and the proper response/fall out.  What made you choose that topic now?

A.J.:  I didn’t set out to tackle the topic of bullying in Soaked; it naturally evolved out of the demands of the story. What I did intended to tackle was doing the right thing when everything around you is telling you not to. Aiden's "I'm a coward" statement at the beginning of the book is him telling himself not to do what's right. I'm not like this; I don’t stand up for what's right, I run. The inciting incident of the book, the reason to tell the story, is that Aiden acts against his own self-perception. In order to do that, Aiden has to have something to act against. That something was Jacob, the school bully. As the story evolved, Jacob became increasingly menacing until he is the terror that you meet in the book. Add that I constantly emphasize non-violent solutions to problems in my work, and you get a narrative that directly addresses one proper response to bullying. I don’t know if it's right to start a book with a moral, that has a tendency to come off heavy handed, but I do think you should start a book with a moral character.

Me:  What is the best compliment a young reader has ever given you?

A.J.:  Some of my favorite reviews on Kindle are the one star reviews from children. The Monster That Ate My Socks has one that reads: "I love A.J. Cosmo, his stories are the best. The monsters are awesome. I hope in the next book there is a big monster war!"- one star. However, my most recent favorite is from Soaked, and it wasn't a review sent from the child. It was his aunt. She said that the book helped him through his own issues with a bully by allowing him to talk about it with adults. That message made me choke up.

Me:  Who was your favorite author as a young child? Teen?

A.J.:  I don't recall having one particular author that I devoured, just scattered favorites (A Wrinkle in Time, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, There's a Monster Under The Bed, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Goosebumps, I could go on.) Teens were definitely dominated by Douglas Adams and Michael Crichton. I even got in trouble in sixth grade by reading the first two chapters of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy to the entire class. The teacher didn't find the rampant references to alcohol amusing.

Me:  What came first - illustrating or writing?  And is one easier for you than the other?

A.J.:  LOL, that's a chicken and the egg question. They both evolved simultaneously. I would write about what I drew and draw what I wrote. Whatever I created, I felt like it needed an explanation and a home for it to live in. It's not just a weird alien with five eyes, it's an alien that lives on a cold planet that is very dark, and so the extra eyes allow it to see well. The plants on that planet glow slightly so that creatures can eat their fruit and pollinate them- and on and on like that. Each book has a stage where the words and the images fight for space until they settle in and cohabitate. Words should reflect images and images should reflect words. Picture books do this the best, but I still try and make the longer works sing. Soaked was difficult because it didn’t want to be illustrated (none of the images worked!) The higher reading level demanded a higher artistic skill, so the final illustrations became invocations of meaning, rather than pictures of what was happening.

Quick Get to Know You Questions:

Favorite Food Item?

My favorite snack is Kraft Jumbo Marshmallows. Favorite food is handmade corn tortilla tacos and gluten free pizza.

Coffee, tea or beer?

I drink borderline obscene amounts of coffee for long phases and then switch to an array of teas. My favorite coffees are blonde roasts with a splash of almond milk and my favorite tea is Oolong.

Favorite color?

Favorite color varies, as I get sick of using certain ones, but my all time favorite color is actually a combination of purple, blue, and black.

If money was not a concern, where in the world would you like to visit or take a vacation?

I would visit the Galapagos to see the history of nature and tour the Middle East to see (part of) the history of man.

What summer movie are you most looking forward to seeing?

I'm writing this in early June and I already have opening day IMAX 4D super deluxe expensive tickets to see Jurassic World. The stellar movies seemed front-loaded this year (I don’t know what to think of Ant Man) and I'm anxious for the fall with Crimson Peak looking to be the standout. Pawn Sacrifice, another fall film, sneaked into my radar and I'm with everyone else in anxiously awaiting the completion of The Hunger Games.  

Soaked
By A.J. Cosmo

Publisher:  Thought Bubble Publishing
Release Date:  April 7, 2015
Genre:  Juvenile Fiction/Friendship & Social Skills
Length:  62 Pages
ISBN:  978-0692424865
ASIN:  B00V3WPV8A




About the book: 

What a way to start summer…


I should have never stood up to that bully Jacob. It was just a water balloon thrown to save my friend’s behind during recess. Now we’re on a bus heading home and everyone gets the same text: “$500 gift card and full immunity to the kid that brings me Aiden- Jacob.” I’m Aiden by the way, and the entire fourth grade is staring at me. Hopefully, with my friend’s help, we can get off at the next stop, three miles from my house, and make it home before the entire neighborhood finds us.

Soaked is the first middle-grade novel by author/illustrator A.J. Cosmo. Filled with humor and suspense, this surprising page turner is a tale of friendship, courage, and standing up for what’s right. For 3rd-5th grade readers.

BUY LINK:  AMAZON 

EXCERPT

We ran into the woods and weaved through the trees. Ben grabbed my hand and pulled me into one of the crusty drainpipes that marked where future homes would be put. We waited there for the patrol to run past.

"You left him," Ben said.

"You left him? How about we left him?" I said.

"It was your idea to make a break for it. Your plan, you're blame," Ben growled.

We stopped, looked out of the pipe, and waited for the sound of the rallying kids to come near.

"I'm sorry," I said as I looked down at the dirt.

Feet stomped by overhead and we dropped our voices.

Ben shook his head. "They're not after me," Ben whispered. "I could walk out right now and no one would care."

"Don't say that," I said. I couldn’t help but feel a bit betrayed. "What makes you think they wouldn't bother you?"

"I nearly got soaked back there." He pulled out his cell phone. He looked at his phone as if it was the most precious thing in the world. And you know what? To him, it was. I knew that if something happened to it that it would take at least three grades before he would be able to get a new one.

"Is it okay?" I asked, not caring about the phone at all.

He tapped the phone. Then he shook it, pawed it, and pleaded with it.

It didn't work.

 AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A.J. Cosmo is the author and illustrator of over forty children’s books including the best-selling “The Monster That Ate My Socks”. He lives and works in Los Angeles, loves reading and video games, and is hard at work finishing the Monsters A to Z series. “Soaked” is A.J.’s first middle-grade novel.

Website: www.ajcosmo.com





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15 comments:

  1. thank you for the chance to win :)

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  2. Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

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    1. I get (and lose) most of my best ideas in the shower. :D Probably the strangest habit I have with writing comes in two parts: 1) don't tell anyone what happens in the story, if they ask just be vague and 2) let the pressure to create the story build up until it explodes all at once. That's one way to guarantee you finish the work!

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  3. I'm pretty coffee-addicted myself!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

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  4. Many thanks to the Queen for this wonderful interview, you asked amazing questions! It's an honor to be welcomed here. :)

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  5. Loved the interview... I'm also a huge fan of homemade tortillas :D.. thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for checking it out. :) I'll have to make some fajitas tonight after this interview. Lol

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  6. Replies
    1. Thank you for checking it out Rita. :)

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  7. I enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for the chance!

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  8. sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway.

    rounder9834 @yahoo.com

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