Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ada and the Lost Horizon

Today I’m launching a collaborative, interactive, pick-your-own-path-style storytelling game on Instagram and Twitter. It’s a scavenger hunt within the confines of your own home; a real-world Ready Player One experience; and a community-oriented coronavirus quarantine activity that takes you on an imaginary journey to another world—while taking you on a physical journey away from your computer screen. Full instructions are here. I hope you’ll join me.

New book coming out in August!

I have a new book coming out in August! The Campaign is my eighth book, my second middle grade, and my first book with interior illustrations. It’s available for pre-order now through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

A hilarious and timely political comedy—like Veep for tweens—about a twelve-year-old who runs her babysitter’s campaign for mayor

If you ask Maddie Polansky, the only good part of middle school is art class. It’s definitely not the other kids, who think she’s weird, or the teachers, who think she’s a troublemaker. And though she’s never paid much attention to politics, when she learns that the front-runner for city mayor plans to cut funding for the arts, she knows she has to do something to stop Lucinda Burghart, art-hating bad guy! She can’t run for mayor herself—she’s just a kid. But she can get her babysitter, Janet, to run against Lucinda.

Soon, Maddie is thrust into the role of Janet’s campaign manager, leading not only to humor and hijinks but to an inspiring story about activism and what it takes to become an engaged citizen. As she leads the campaign from rallies to debates to Election Day, Maddie discovers that she has more of a community than she’d ever imagined—and that sometimes a “troublemaker” is exactly what this world needs.

“The Campaign is exactly the story we need right now. A fun middle grade tale celebrating both why… and how… we should be involved in our government.”—Jon Scieszka, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

“A hilarious, inspiring story which proves that kids have the vision and the power to change the world.”—Max Brallier, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Kids on Earth series

Have you guys heard about podcasts? I’m on one!

I had a great conversation with my old Penguin colleague Giuseppe Castellano for his podcast, The Illustration Department. You can give it a listen here.

I talk about things like how amazing the other editors at Viking are, and what it was like for me to work on Viola Davis’s first picture book, and what editors actually do all day, and why authors need agents, and what I think about cancel culture, and why people (like, as a species) are so bad at apologizing.

Do I say the word “um” too much? YES! But do I also say some smart things about publishing and culture? YOU TELL ME!

Here’s that link again:

Holiday gift ideas for writers and readers

If you’re looking for a holiday gift for a writer (or reader) in your life, try one of these ideas!

If you live near Austin, Texas…
Delight your favorite writer with a ticket to my workshop at the Writing Barn on the Logic of Storytelling. This is a craft-focused class that gives writers a tool set to address common narrative problems in any project. Note that there is a cap on the number of students allowed in this class.

If you live anywhere in the United States…
Email me proof that you bought a copy of one of my books (a receipt or shipping confirmation), and I’ll mail you a personalized bookplate, signed and addressed to your recipient of choice. Getting one of these signed book plates is totally free. All you need to do is, at some point before December 31, email me at with proof of purchase, mailing address, and name of the person you’re giving my book to.

If you live anywhere in the world…
I’m teaching a three-hour online course on What Writers Need to Know About the Publishing Business. I’ll be explaining into the business side of being a writer: how to understand contracts and royalty statements, how to foster positive relationships with editors and publicists, what is expected from you at each stage of the publishing process, etc. This online class is run through the Writers League of Texas but is available to writers anywhere. Note that there is a cap on the number of students allowed in this class (and last time I offered it, it did sell out).

Finally, I’m offering a limited number of manuscript critiques this holiday season, exclusively for writers of children’s and young adult manuscripts. If you want to give one of these critiques, contact me at Each critique is for up to 3,000 words (roughly 10 manuscript pages) and is priced at $80. If you purchase a manuscript critique, I’ll send you a printable gift certificate so that your loved one has something exciting to unwrap on the holiday! If you want any more information on my editorial work so you can decide whether this is a good gift for the writer in your life, check out my editorial website, the Book Engineer.

I hope these suggestions make your holiday gift giving a little bit easier, and I hope your writer friends and family members love receiving them!

school visits

One of my goals for this new school year is to do more school visits. To help make that happen, I’ve created this Leila Sales school visit flyer. Click on it, let me know what you think, and maybe invite me to visit your school (or your kids’ school, or your former school, or just sic me on a stranger’s school, whatever). I’m living in Austin, Texas; I’m frequently in NYC; my family is in Boston; and I love to travel so if you have students who don’t live in any of those places, it’s not too much of a hard sell to get me to come to wherever you are.

Hope to see some of you over the course of this school year!

Links for you

Do you need some things to read on the internet so you don’t have to go address your to-do list? Great — here are some things for you to read!

Firstly, I wrote up a list of seven strategies to keep online bullying out of your life for the website SheKnows. These are all techniques that I worked out while I was writing If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, and they are valuable for all of us (even if you don’t think of yourself as ever participating in social media tear-downs).

On a lighter note, I wrote a mostly-fictional humor essay for Points in Case called “As a Writer, I Am the Most Important Person in This Relationship and on Earth.” It is definitely, not even a little bit, no way, based on me.

Also, if you want to read any interviews with me about If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, you can do that! I had really in-depth conversations with the Mary Sue and North of the Internet about public shaming, social justice, and saying the wrong things online. If you read these interviews and have your own responses, let me know — I’d love to discuss these issues with you, too.

I have a new book out on May 1!

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say comes out on May 1, and I am so incredibly excited to share it with you all. Here’s the description:

Before we go any further, I want you to understand this: I am not a good person.

We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. But what happens when we’re seen and heard saying or doing the wrong things? What then?

When Winter Halperin–former spelling bee champion, aspiring writer, and daughter of a parenting expert–gets caught saying the wrong thing online, her life explodes. All across the world, people knows what she’s done, and none of them will forgive her.

With her friends gone, her future plans cut short, and her identity in shambles, Winter is just trying to pick up the pieces without hurting anyone else. She knows she messed up, but does that mean it’s okay for people to send her hate mail and death threats? Does she deserve to lose all that she’s lost? And is “I’m sorry” ever good enough?

First and foremost a novel about public shaming in the internet age, If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say is also an exploration of the power of words, the cumulative destructiveness of microaggressions, and the pressing need for empathy.

I’ll be doing launch events in the spring, so keep an eye on my Events page for my details about those. I hope you love this book!

Call for Scav Hunt Essay Submissions

If you’ve ever talked to me for longer than ten minutes, you’ve probably discovered that I’ve spent years involved in the University of Chicago’s Scav Hunt, that it is one of my favorite things in the world, and that I can talk about it endlessly. So, after nearly 15 years of being involved in Scav, it brings me so much joy to announce that I am going to be editing a collection of Scav Hunt stories, to be published by the University of Chicago Press in the spring of 2019. And we are now open for submissions! So if you’re a U of C alum with a Scav story to tell, read on…

You are invited to send in your 500 – 2,500-word personal essay on the topic of “My Craziest and Most Memorable Scav Hunt Experience.” All stories must be true. Each essay should be focused on one particular item or event, and should include the year and item number. So we’re not looking for general philosophical musings on Scav, or the history of Scav, but rather concrete stories about cool things you’ve done–the sorts of stories you would tell friends to try to explain to them how amazing Scav is.

I will be selecting about 25 essays for the book, and I’ll be looking for a wide range of experiences (road trips, showcase items, small personal labors of love, etc.) and a wide range of years.

Please submit all essays to no later than July 15, 2017. If your essay is selected for the book, I will send you editorial feedback and request some revisions in the fall. No Scav points, but if your essay gets included in the book, you’ll get paid $175 capitalism points for your contribution. Plus you’ll have your name in a book about Scav, which is priceless.

Let me know if you have any questions, and please share this call for submissions with all your Scav friends!

xo Judge Leila

Desert Island Discs

I’m trying to put together a list of my Desert Island Discs (i.e. the albums I’d want to have with me if I were stranded on a desert island indefinitely). I have never come up with a final and complete list, and I’m certainly not going to do so tonight, but here’s what I’ve got at present:

Graceland, by Paul Simon
Tapestry, by Carole King
Yourself or Someone Like You, by matchbox twenty
The Stone Roses, by the Stone Roses
If You’re Feeling Sinister, by Belle & Sebastian
The “Chirping” Crickets, by Buddy Holly and the Crickets

Okay I’m going to stop there because I don’t want to lock myself into any choices I might regret later. TO BE CONTINUED, MAYBE.