Thursday, October 16, 2014

And what if I'm crazy?

Hello friends, 

"And what if I'm crazy" is the title translation of the Czech edition of my novel, Sure Signs of Crazy, pictured here with tea, courtesy of a book reviewer, Daffodila Nightingale, in the Czech republic. So very sweet of her! 

Also, I'm pretty keen on how my last name translates into Czech. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” 
André Gide

Stay courageous!


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Jackson, MS

Just returned from visit and book-signing in Jackson, MS. While there, I had a chance to visit the Eudora Welty House. 

Welty House

I liked imagining Ms. Welty walking up her footpath. 

A Little Free Library on the grounds adjacent to Ms. Welty's home. 

Lemuria Books in Jackson. This is one fabulous indie bookstore! The famed giant hand holding a book that once stood
over the store's entrance recently fell off. A new one is in the making! 

At the signing table in Lemuria Books. I love that one of my literary heros, Hemingway, is in the background. 

After the signing, dined at the famed Mayflower Cafe in downtown Jackson. A scene from THE HELP
was filmed here, too. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life by Natalie Goldberg

"We never graduate from first grade. Over and over, we have to go back to the beginning. We should not be ashamed of this. It is good. It's like drinking water; we don't drink a glass once and never have to drink one again. We don't finish a novel or poem and never have to write one again. Over and over, we begin." - p. 9, WILD MIND, LIVING THE WRITER'S LIFE by Natalie Goldberg 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Morning Inspiration

In the past week, I've done THREE book launch events. Some part of me still can't believe that I am a person who is capable of talking to strangers about stories and writing and anything else they want to chat about. It takes a lot to stand in a bookstore, try and make eye contact with folks and then launch into a subtle summary about one's book and/or point someone toward the restrooms. I don't know if I'll ever get particularly good at it. This past weekend, my family came with me to the bookstore. My daughters don't mind hanging out around books for a couple of hours so we thought it would be fun for them. They are not that impressed with their mom, but I did see something new in their eyes this time. They'd seen me labor away, day and night, while writing COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS. And then they were witnessing me stand in a bookstore with the actual book on the table! Suddenly, all the awkward feelings of standing there washed away. They had watched for a couple of years as I pursued my dream and then they were there when it had come to fruition. If nothing else, I hope that seeing this experience causes them to BELIEVE that a steady mix of hard work and day-dreaming produce results.

Great love,


Monday, August 18, 2014

Book launch party!

A few snapshots of my book launch for COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS this past Saturday!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS release day/giveaway

Hello friends,

I'm so happy to celebrate the release of my new book, COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS, today along with the Nerdy Book Club. Click on over to read my blog post and enter the giveaway. Two, signed hardback copies are up for grabs!

And if you'll be in the Plano, Texas, area this Saturday, stop by my first signing and say hello!

Great love,


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Full Circle Moments

I went to my hometown library in Garland, TX this past weekend. Of course, I had to spy and see if my book was on the shelves. It was. It was shelved about 20 feet from the kids' reading area where I used to sit for hours with a stack of 10 or more books around me, loving the stories, thinking up my own little tales. Three cheers for the full-circle moments in life!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

One month from today...

My new book, COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS, goes out into the big blue world. I just received the first hardback copy of it in the mail. Even though this is my third book, you don't get over the feeling of seeing your finished book for the first time. It's not unlike holding your real, life newborn for the first time. 

I also like to think of the characters in these books meeting. You know, Sarah Nelson from SURE SIGNS walking to school with Mysti Murphy in COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS. I genuinely think they'd be friends and I'd love to eavesdrop on their conversations. They are very different, but equally spirited, curious and full of heart. 

Another point to mention is that I'm a Hachette author, which means that my books will have a hard time gaining traction on Amazon. (Have you heard of the dispute between Hachette and Amazon?) So I'm keeping fingers crossed that readers will find their way to their favorite indie bookshop or Barnes & Noble online, where you can already pre-order it. 

I loved this recent review from Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Review of Courage for Beginners 

Mysti Murphy has to brave at least three major trials at the onset of seventh grade. The first is having an agoraphobic mother, who never leaves the house even to chauffeur her children to classmates’ houses or extracurricular activities. The second is losing her only friend, Anibal, who has “decided to be a hipster this year” to pursue a girl and wants to avoid publicly associating with Mysti. The third obstacle is the most difficult of all, when her father falls from a tree and is hospitalized. Now Mysti must find a way to be strong and responsible while her mother becomes sadder and more withdrawn. Harrington’s (Sure Signs of Crazy) portrait of a resourceful girl weathering transitions and finding creative solutions offers an even balance of humor and painful topics relevant to middle-school readers. The way Mysti views her life, as though she’s a character in a novel (“Here we see a girl washing green beans, extracting melons, and contemplating the true meaning of friendship”), provides a fresh perspective on her thought process, environment, and yearnings.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Goodreads giveaway!

Hi friends,

My publisher, Little, Brown, is hosting a Goodreads giveaway for my forthcoming novel, COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS. 20 copies available! Giveaway runs through June 23, 2014. Enter today!


Like Sarah Nelson in Harrington’s Sure Signs of Crazy (Little, Brown, 2013/VOYA December 2013), Mysti Murphy must navigate a treacherous home situation. Mysti’s mother did not try to drown her, but her mother’s agoraphobia wields despotic control over the family’s life. Then, Mysti’s father tumbles headfirst from a tree and spends the next five months hospitalized, leaving Mysti to take care of her mother and younger sister, Laura. Mysti finds strength and comfort in her ability to make up stories for Laura and come up with daily jokes to connect with her homebound mother. Her seventh-grade school days are as troubling as her family situation, now that her longtime male friend, Anibal Gomez, spent his summer losing weight, bought a beret, and is working on becoming a hipster. He is determined to connect with cheerleader Sandy Showalter, earning his props by humiliating Mysti again and again in front of her peers. In addition to escaping through her stories and jokes, she finds consolation with two occupants of the cafeteria’s “loser island”—brainiac Wayne Kovok, who reminds everyone that his last name is an acronym and spouts “did you know” factoids; and Rama Khan, whose rainbow hijabs and loyalty gradually make her the one-word super-heroine Ramakhan to Mysti.
At age twelve, Mysti may be too wise for her years, but her wickedly good schemes to get even with Anibal and her courageous solutions to family crises will make her a compelling protagonist for sophisticated young readers. -VOYA, starred review (June 1, 2014) 

A wrenching and rewarding read. - Booklist, starred review

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

It's paperback release day for SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY

Hi friends,

Lots of celebrating here today!
The paperback AND audio version of SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY release today!

The paperback version also includes the first two chapters of my forthcoming novel, COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS (August 2014)

"A wrenching and rewarding read." - Booklist, starred review

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Booklist Starred Review for COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS

"A wrenching and rewarding read." - Booklist, starred review

My editor just sent me this news and review! I'm over the moon. It's ironic because, for a book about courage, I had a lot of fears and trepidation writing this story. In many ways, this is a very personal tale as my own mother struggled with agoraphobia. 

Today, I'm grateful for these kind words. Thank you, Booklist! 

★ Courage For Beginners
By Karen Harrington
August/ Ages 8 – 12/ $17.00
ISBN: 978-0-316-21047-8

For Mysti Murphy, being in seventh grade takes enormous courage. Her agoraphobic mother never leaves the house; her father falls from a tree and is hospitalized in a comatose state; and her best and only friend is conducting a social experiment,” ignoring and even making fun of her at school. In this moving follow up to Sure Signs of Crazy (2013), Harrington returns to similar themes and introduces another appealing protagonist, the red-haired, joke-telling Mysti. From her father, Mysti has learned to deflect difficulties with humor, but from her mother, she’s learned fears—for instance, it takes Mysti over a month to think of solving the family’s food problem by walking to a nearby store. Mysti often sees herself as a character in a book, and such thoughts are italicized to create a scene-setting narration: “Here is a girl who may have more hidden genius than she realized.” The heat of the Texas setting and the inevitable bullying and jockeying for social position in her middle school add to the oppressive atmosphere. Scarf-wearing Rama Khan, a neighbor and new friend, provides welcome support, as does her teacher of Texas history. A wrenching and rewarding read. Booklist issue, June 1, 2014. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New book news

I'm so happy to announce news about my third book with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Here's the announcement from today's Publishers Marketplace.

Author of Sure Signs of Crazy, which received four starred reviews, and the forthcoming Courage For Beginners, Karen Harrington's MAYDAY, about a seventh-grade plane crash survivor's quest to recover two things lost in the crash: his voice, and the American flag honoring the death of his soldier uncle, all while trying to find his place between an absentee dad and his super patriotic military grandfather, again toBethany Strout at Little, Brown Children's, for publication in Spring 2016, by Julia Kenny at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner (World).

Monday, April 21, 2014

This writer's life: From rejection to letters from readers

Something I didn't know before? There's an invisible thread connecting rejection letters and reader letters. I wish someone had told me this years earlier.

You have to get the first kind of letter to get the second kind. 

There's probably no getting around this. You have to read the books on writing. Let others critique your work. Keep practicing. Try new things. Experiment. And yes, accumulate a few rejections.
Rejection is part of the experience so you can just say to yourself, "Wow, this rejection is part of the process - part of the experience so I will keep going until things come full circle."

I would tell all young writers that if I could.


Feb 1, 2011
Dear Author,

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work. Unfortunately, we did not feel your project was a right fit for our agency. But we do wish you the best of luck.

Please forgive the form letter, but the enormous volume of inquiries we receive obliges us to respond in this manner. Thank you, and again, best wishes in your future endeavors

Feb 11, 2011
Dear Karen,

Thank you for your interest in our agency. While we appreciate the opportunity to review your work, ultimately we have decided to pass as we did not find your project to be a good fit for our agency at this time.

Sorry this did not work out; we wish you the best of luck as you continue your search for representation.

Mar 8, 2011
Dear Author,
Thank you for sharing your work with me. Unfortunately, I feel that in today's market, I cannot take on projects unless I feel strongly about them. I'm sorry to say that it didn't happen with this one.

Apr 19, 2014
Dear Ms. Harrington,
    I am fourteen years old.  I have just finished reading your book, Sure Signs of Crazy, and really wanted to let you know how much I loved reading it.  It is now one of my favorites, right at the top of the list with Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice.  I want to be a writer someday and your book has only intensified that yearning.  I want to write a book that touches someone and makes him laugh out loud the way your book has done to me.  Even if that someone is a quirky fourteen year old girl who reads while the rest of the world sleeps.
     I had a journal sitting on the edge of my desk for a while, waiting to be filled, and you inspired me to fill it with words and their definitions because I, like Sarah and Finn, am completely obsessed with words.  Another thing in common between Sarah and me is that we would both rather a boy notice the book we were reading and tell us he liked it too, rather than experiencing a kiss some French guy invented.
     One thing I have been wondering since it was mentioned in the book is what the two songs were that Finn added to Sarah's iPod?  If you can answer that question please do.  
     Something I have come to realize is that the best books don't ever leave you.  They find a place inside you and stay there forever.  They are always there when you need them.  Sure Signs of Crazy has wormed its way inside me and I don't think  it'll ever leave.  Thank you for a marvelous book.
     Happy Easter,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cover Reveal: Spanish edition of SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY

Add caption
I ADORE this cover design and title! So gorgeous. Also, DEAR ATTICUS was one of my original title ideas for the book a couple of years ago so it's pleasing to know someone in another country had the same idea and impression about the story. It's so exciting to think about young readers in other countries getting to know Sarah Nelson! I say that all the time, but the thought of a story I wrote traveling around the world was almost too big of a dream to dream.

Speaking of dreaming big, let me share this recent letter from a reader with you because it reminds ME to keep dreaming.

Dear Ms. Harrington,
Although I would have prefered to have written a letter and sent it to you, I could not find an address to send it to. I would like to start off by telling you that I have just finished Sure Signs of Crazy (literally, I finished it about five minutes ago) and would like to inform you that the reality and insight of this novel has forever altered my view on life in a good way. I know that I am only fourteen, but I feel that Sarah is one of the finest fictional characters ever created. I too have read To Kill a Mockingbird and I know why Sarah looks up to Atticus. Who wouldn't? I would also like to point out the fact that more people need to read your book. If everyone in the world read your book, it could end up causing world peace :). You have officially become my favorite author. Sarah's perseverance and courage will forever inspire me. because of Sarah, I started writing a word journal. I hope it comes out as cool as Sarah's journal. Thank you.
     -a little girl with big dreams

Oh, stop my heart! The writer of this letter lifted me in a way I can't describe and I've printed it out and put it in a special place.



Friday, March 28, 2014

In which I share the Brazilian book cover for SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY

Very excited to see the cover for the Brazilian edition of SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY, which will be out in April. The translated titled is CLEAR SIGNS OF MADNESS. I wish I knew how to read Portuguese so I could see how Sarah Nelson's personality is translated. It's really incredible to think about a young Brazilian girl reading about a young girl from Texas. What would they have in common? What would she find interesting? Would she, like Sarah, adore Atticus Finch? Keep a diary? I love thinking about these things.

Until next time!


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In which I post an update (Or, where I've been.)

Whew, this blog needs some spring cleaning and refreshing. In my defense, I haven't been a complete scobberlotcher in every area of life.

First off, I was getting in ARCs of my next novel COURAGE FOR BEGINNERS and starting a little pre-launch planning after spotting this beauty on the Little, Brown Books at ALA midwinter.

But then I fell into a giant plot hole broke my arm and had to wear this magnificent arm brace.

(The true story of this breakage is only known to me and the floor I broke it on, okay?) It was my good arm, too! My right arm, aka, the one I use the most. So I sat around and read a ton of books and watched a ton of movies. (It felt slightly wrong to eat ice cream while watching THE HUNGER GAMES. Slightly.)

Fortunately, I'd sent in a new book proposal the day BEFORE I broke it. (News about this soon, I hope.)

And then, I had to console my third grade daughter after this crushing conversation.

ME: Well, I bet Hilary Clinton is our next president.
HER: Is she a woman?
ME: Yes.
HER: So she'll be the FIRST woman president?
ME: Yes.
HER: But I was going to do that!!! (sob, sob, sob...)

Oh, to be young and hopeful and live in a world where everything is possible. I think that's my favorite quality in children.

So this week, I was able to stop wearing the magnificent brace. (Even though my daughter had discovered that parts of the brace are magnetic and was plying me with magnets.)  She even put a Vermont magnet on it. VERMONT! I was gifted with this wonderful basket by my writer friend, Polly Holyoke, who'd heard that SURE SIGNS OF CRAZY was recently recognized on the 2014-2015 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Vermont reading list!

Find the entire Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award list here. I was so honored to hear this news! The list has so many of my favorites like COUNTING BY 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan and THE CENTER OF EVERYTHING by Linda Urban!

So to celebrate, I bought myself these interesting spring flowers yesterday. It's nice to finally be able to drive and pick up fruit and flowers. It's the little things in life, right?

So you see, I haven't been a complete scobberlotcher.

Hope your spring is going great! Don't be like me and take spring BREAK literally, okay?