Friday, April 22, 2016

Every Writer Wants One Thing...

At some level, every writer wants one thing.  Oh sure, we may be afraid to admit it - might not have the courage to say it out loud. We discount the thought when it wriggles into our consciousness. 
But still, it remains.

and that thing we want is...

to write something that lingers.
words that 
stay in the heart of our reader 
incite emotion 
make even a small difference
then have someone believe in that something enough to publish it.
And what is our greatest fear?
that it won't happen.
through our own ineptness or unfortunate circumstance.  
And that thought is terrifying to us.
I believe it's a large part of what we call writer's block.  A tenuous whisper in the back of our subconscious that says you're a hack. she's better, he has the contacts to make it happen, you're behind the curve, whisper...whisper...whisper.
So we stop writing.  
Because maybe it's easier to quit on our own terms, you know? Make up a good life is too busy, I don't have the support of my spouse, my children are too young, and on and on
Which is sincerely tragic. 
And yet so real. Trust me, I've been there many times.
It doesn't go away after's insidious.
However, we must push through those fears
because here is my question:
If we don't believe in ourselves...
how can anyone else?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Launch Party Pictures!

I can't say thank you enough to everyone who took the time to come to my launch party for my latest novel, Skies Like These. It was so fun to meet new readers and connect with old friends.  If you are far away or were unable to attend, here is a summary of the fun:

candy station! with Butterfingers in honor of Roy, the main boy character in the novel - you got to choose candy sticks and a super fun doggy bookmark as well.

Prize Wheel!  My lovely and lively pal Paige ran this station - you could spin the wheel and get all sorts of swag including little dogs and horses (which go along with the novel, of course)  

Here is a peek at the prize wheel loot!

We also had a western tattoo station - here is my darling daughter Meagan playing the part - she did a great job running this station :)

There was a fantastic turn out - and everyone seemed to be having a great time.  I can't express how it feels to see people hold your book like this.  Amazing.

 Of course, I did my little spiel.  Here I'm showing my edit stack -- it's a lot of work to publish a novel, but it's more fun than I ever imagined and totally worth it.  I get excited when edits show up in the mail!

I signed books!

We had a Western Photo Booth! That was the big hit of the day, for sure.  Here I am with my hubby, kids and mom hamming it up.  Props to Picture It Photo Booths for their amazing service.

Noble from The Kings English Bookshop came down from Salt Lake as our bookseller.  The frog and foam hats you see in the background were give aways too.  He was such a good sport, especially when I dragged him into the photo booth for a 'matching moustache' pic....


All in all a great event - and none of it could have happened without the support of friends, family, fellow writers and readers.  That continually amazes and surprises me.  Thanks all!
pictures taken by our long time friend James Samson - thanks James!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Our winner for a signed copy of Skies Like These was chosen using

True Random Number Generator  7Powered by RANDOM.ORG

.and is Dellgirl!.Congrats, Dellgirl! email me at tess(at)tesshilmo(dot)com with your address and I'll get your copy out pronto..Happy almost weekend all!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Release Day! Give Away! Party Info!

Skies Like These is here - woot! woot!  

My new novel - coming July 15!

Copies available just about anywhere -- Barnes and Noble, The Kings English, Amazon

Leave a comment below and be entered to win a signed copy of the novel. Give Away will run until Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

there is also another giveaway of the book going on at the blog Word Spelunking run by the amazing lit lover Aeicha. Link over for another chance to win!

and save the date for the launch party :D
July is full of family reunions, scout camps, vacations ... so I'm hosting a Wild West Zinger-of-a-Party in August when things settle down and people start thinking about school again.  Here's the details - would love any and all to come!

Saturday August 23
American Fork Library - Community Room -  64 South 100 East, American Fork UT
be prepared to cowboy up! - there will be a real western photo booth, prize wheel with lots of fun swag, old fashioned candy counter, bookmark craft station, Kings English book sales table and of course a signing.
Free and open to the public!

Tell Me (entry question) what's your favorite part of summer so far?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Favorite Part About This Author-Thing

I am often asked what my favorite thing about being an author is.
And it's an easy answer...

the people

Other readers and writers --  those that step out of nowhere and cheer you on or champion your work.  

I had a moment with this late last night.  I was working on a new historical novel, deep in research on child labor laws, when I took a break and checked my email. What was there?  A tweet notice from fellow author Corey Rosen Schwartz link (picture book author extraordinaire - Three Ninja Pigs, Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears and her new release Ninja Red Riding Hood ).  

Corey noticed some good news about my new novel, Skies Like These, and gave it a shout out.  Apparently it was chosen by Amazon as one of their "Best Books of the Month - Editors Pick".
I had no idea and likely wouldn't have known if it weren't for Corey.

But that's the world of Children's Literature.  People are sincerely kind and supportive.

Was I happy to hear the good news? Absolutely!  Here's the link if you want to see it...  Best Middle Grade Books - July 

But the reason I went to bed smiling wasn't because of Amazon's pick.  It was because I felt part of a community that thrives on lifting and helping one another.

It's an amazing thing.  Thanks, Corey!

check Corey's work out on Goodreads and Amazon.

Tell me:  When was the last time you were surprised by a good deed or kind word?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Publishers Weekly Weighs In

Here's another review - I can't believe the release is just around the corner :)

Publishers Weekly  -  Skies Like These
Tess Hilmo. FSG/Ferguson, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-374-36998-9
In Hilmo’s warm second novel, after With a Name Like Love, 12-year-old Jade Landers is unhappily shipped from Philadelphia to Wellington, Wyo., to spend the summer with her Aunt Elise, who runs the best (and only) “dog ranch” in town. Aunt Elise is quirky, enthusiastic about life in the great outdoors, and (despite her best efforts) a terrible cook; with her help, Jade slowly gets used to her new surroundings. Also helping is 12-year-old Roy Parker, a self-styled cowboy who believes he’s related to Butch Cassidy, and who will do anything to help his family now that his father’s hardware store has closed after the arrival of a big-box competitor. Jade whips up other schemes in hopes of distracting Roy from getting himself into serious trouble—like, say, trying to rob a bank. Writing with humor and heart, Hilmo gently reminds readers of the benefits of being shaken out of one’s routine, especially the sense of perspective gained by traveling to new places and trying new things. Ages 9–12. Agent: Steven Chudney, the Chudney Agency. (July)

Thursday, May 1, 2014


When I wrote With a Name Like Love, I was clueless about the review process for a novel.  I remember getting an email from my editor saying the reviews were coming in and thinking, "Wow, someone actually read my book!"  

Happily - and luckily - the reviews were good.

But while knowledge is power, it is also sometimes a source of stress.  Knowing the process has been more difficult this time around because I realize that reviews do matter. That a librarian in Maine or Florida or Arizona has to use something objective to inform his/her buying decisions -- and reviews are most often that informational source.  Do negative reviews kill a book? I don't think it's that simple.  But a good review certainly helps it along its little journey.

So, naturally, I've been nervous.

But the reviews are coming in and I am so happy to know they are great. :D  I can take a deep breath and celebrate -  It's good news!!

Here's what they're saying so far...

Kirkus Reviews:

When Jade arrives in Wyoming for her summer vacation, she is in for a life-changing experience.
Jade is used to quiet summer vacations in Philadelphia. But this year, her parents pack her off to Wyoming to have an adventure with eccentric Aunt Elise. That’s where Jade meets Joshua Parker, a boy who thinks he’s descended from Butch Cassidy (whose real name was Roy Parker, so the boy insists on being called Roy). Roy wants to replicate Butch Cassidy’s Robin Hood ways by robbing a bank to help his parents regain their business. Jade is willing to help but prefers more law-abiding methods, such as hosting stargazing parties on Aunt Elise’s roof. Drawing on rich Western lore and creating characters as gritty as the earth itself, Hilmo paints a picture of a town where everyone is connected. Folks old and young prove themselves able to weather the storms—both literal thunderheads and the hardships of life—while maintaining hopeful hearts as expansive as the sky. Most refreshing: Parents, caregivers and other adults in the neighborhood only appear to be leaving the children to their own devices. In reality, they keep a loose rein, respectfully giving Jade and Roy some independence in recognition that the real adventure in life is the process of becoming.A heartening, comforting story with enough tension to keep readers hooked and a subtle message that will sneak up on them. (Fiction. 8-12)


School Library Journal:

HILMO, Tess. Skies Like These. 240p. ebook available. Farrar. Jul. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374369989. LC 2013033675.
Gr 4-7–Twelve-year-old Jade is less than thrilled to be spending the summer in Wyoming with her quirky aunt Elise, away from all of the comforts of her Philadelphia home. As soon as she arrives, though, she meets Joshua Park, who insists on being called Roy and is convinced he’s related to Butch Cassidy. Roy considers himself the Robin Hood of Wellington, Wyoming, and he hatches plan after plan to steal from the rich—the owner of the new big box store—and give to the poor by rounding up enough cash for his parents to reopen their out-of-business mom-and-pop hardware store. Jade becomes his reluctant sidekick, often providing a voice of reason as Roy shares his plans, including bank robbery. She comes up with some (legal) moneymaking schemes of her own to help the cause. A robust cast of well-developed characters and a delightful, swiftly moving plot will leave readers wishing for Jade to extend her stay in Wyoming.Amanda Struckmeyer, Middleton Public Library, Madison, WI

I always want to thank the reviewers, too - it takes time to read and write something so thoughtful and thorough.

This book was a labor of love -- and three years in the making.  I wanted to write something that would make young readers laugh and feel as if they went on a fun adventure. I think it accomplishes that goal and I'm so excited to have it hit the shelves this July!

Now to start planning the launch party :D ...
Cowboy Up!