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Viewing Blog: David Michael Slater's Blog, Most Recent at Top
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David Michael Slater was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He teaches high school in Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and son. David writes for children, teens and adults.
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Have just set up shop at Goodreads and invite you to join me there!


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Now available via iTunes for Ipad/Iphone!

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Thrilled to share that Jock & Spock has been reborn! But not just reborn: transformed into a joyful, fun, interactive game/app/book for Ipad/tablets from an amazing company called Tiny Tap (who just won a million bucks from Verizon). The TinyTap app is free to download. The book reads to you, asks questions, and lets you do some swiping around inside the story. Very excited. More collaborations on the way between DMS and Tiny Tap! Here's the link http://www.tinytap.it/games/g654/jock-and-spock

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Some pics from Wednesday night's engaging and entertaining panel on Jewish Fantasy. We didn't 
come to blows over "Why There is No Jewish Narnia" (but only because there wasn't enough time). 

Featuring Barry Deutsch; Ruth Tenzer Feldman; Lisa Goldstein; Willa Schneberg; David Michael 

Slater; and PSU Hebrew and Judaic Studies Professor Michael Weingrad

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In Portland?
Join us at the MJCC 
Wed 4/2/14 @ 7:30 p.m.

I expect it will be engaging and fun. More importantly, refreshments will be provided! 

Book sales/signings after the event.

In this panel discussion, five authors who span the spectrum from fiction for children and adults to graphic novels and poetry will wrestle with these questions as they draw from experience weaving fantasy into their award-winning works. Additionally, PSU Jewish Studies Professor Michael Weingrad will contribute to the conversation from his study of modern Jewish and Hebrew literature.

Is there a place for such Jewish staples as matzoh balls and marzipan within the world of myth and magic? Come delve with us into chai fantasy.

Speakers Include:
Barry Deutsch
Ruth Tenzer Feldman
Lisa Goldstein
Willa Schneberg
David Michael Slater
PSU Hebrew and Judaic Studies Professor Michael Weingrad

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Excited to share!

Shannon & Elm is pleased to announce the recent signing of David Michael Slater,
and his short story collection Dictionaries Out of Order.
The title Dictionaries Out of Order stems from a Jean Cocteau quote which states, “The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order.” This is much the case for Slater’s book: a collection of stories, all discrete, but which all draw together to speak to the theme of the written word, and what the written word means to those who love it as we do.
From Russia to Oregon, from the 1700s to the future, a web of words weaves writers and readers together in a bond they can’t quite escape.

David Michael Slater is an acclaimed author of fiction for all ages. His work includes the hilarious comic drama for adults, Fun & Games, which the New York Journal of Books raves “works brilliantly”; the teen fantasy series Sacred Books, which is being developed for film; and the picture books Cheese Louise!, Ned Loses His Head, and The Bored Book. He teaches in Reno, Nevada, where he lives with his wife and son.

What else should we know about Mr. Slater, writer of writers?

What do you have the most fun with during the creative process?
Two times: 1) When arriving somewhere wonderful in a plot that I could never have predicted yet that feels utterly inevitable, and 2) When working on “alternate history” and I find real history cooperating with my twisted desires.

What comes first, the chicken or the alien egg?
Whichever the waiter in the Restaurant at the End of the Universe serves first.

What is a profound memory from this title’s writing process?
The first piece in this collection was my first published work as an author. I remember deciding to use my middle name on it because it made me feel more “authorial.” Been stuck using it ever since.

You can read the rest of Slater’s interview on his author page

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(Sacred Books, Volume V)


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Scenes from the SF Writers Conference
Days 2 & 3

Signing time!

 Mark Coker, President of Smashwords

 My final presentation (on dialogue) Overflowing!!

 NY editors panel


Barry Eisler, no holds barred!

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Scenes from the San Francisco Writers Conference


 Speed Dating with Agents

 A famous author's books on display!

 The clamoring crowd

 More of that famous author's books

Chitra Divakaruni rockin' the crowd

 Party time

Fog rolling in - view from the Top of the Mark

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Very excited for next weekend! Here's where you'll find me presenting (updated) --->

3-3:45: Presentation - "Getting Lucky: Finding Success Publishing for Kids, Teens, and Adults"

9-9:45: Children's 1st page critiques with Liz Szabla, moderated by Andrea Brown
3-3:45: Panel - "Six of One: Adult Vs. YA Literature" with Tanya Egan Gibson and Joan Steinau Lester
6:30-7:30: Booksigning
9-11:00: Fiction 1st page critiques with Sorche Fairbank, Donna Levin, and Ken Sherman

9-9:45: Presentation - "Plan, Plot, and Pitch the Perfect Picture Book"
11-11:45: Presentation - "Word Up: Writing Dialogue that Soars"

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1/25 - 2/3




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In celebration of the upcoming (March) release of The Book of Names (Sacred Books, Vol. 5), The Book of Nonsense is once again free via all major e-book outlets. We are hoping to see it hit #1 again on Kindle's Fantasy and/or Action/Adventure lists (it's already #9/#11). Gears are slowly turning again film-wise, so I hope to have some news on that front sometime soon.



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My schedule:


3-3:45: Presentation - "Getting Lucky: Finding Success Publishing for Kids, Teens, and Adults"
4-4:45: Panel - "The Big Picture on Picture Books" with Elissa Haden Guest, moderated by Andrea Brown 


9-9:45: Children's 1st page critiques with Liz Szabla, moderated by Andrea Brown
3-3:45: Panel - "Six of One: Adult Vs. YA Literature" with Tanya Egan Gibson and Joan Steinau Lester
6:30-7:30: Booksigning
9-11:00: Fiction 1st page critiques with Sorche Fairbank, Donna Levin, and Ken Sherman


9-9:45: Presentation - "Plan, Plot, and Pitch the Perfect Picture Book"
11-11:45: Presentation - "Word Up: Writing Dialogue that Soars"

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Here is the finalized new cover for the twice forthcoming interactive ebook (Auryn.com) and game app (Tinytap.com) of THE RING BEAR. I'm thrilled with the new cover and very excited to enter the digital age of children's publishing!

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FREE for 2 weeks! 
Last time it hit #1 on Kindle Kit Lit fantasy!

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99 cents via Kindle for one week!

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As the unofficial spokesman for Pathological Persistence, I am thrilled to share the news that one of my favorite books will get not only a third incarnation, but a fourth: The Ring Bear will appear soon as a game app from a cool company called Tiny Tap and shortly thereafter as an interactive ebook from another cool company called Auryn. And if I have my way sometime down the road as a play and then, full circle, as a book once again. More news on the pathological persistence rebirth front in the immediate future! Here is the new (and best yet) cover of The Ring Bear. Kudos to Scott Brooks!

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Ta da! Coming March 11, 2014...

Dexter and Daphna Wax have seen more things in Heaven and Earth than they thought possible in their wildest dreams—or nightmares. Between them, the twins have been hypnotized by a man as old as time, kidnapped by a depressed billionaire, shot by a remorseless assassin, and stalked by a plague-ridden vampire. They've lost their parents, their home, and even their good names battling disasters that never seem to end. All they want to do is start high school—to start living their lives again—but now the sky seems to be cracking open, the planet is overheating, and people are losing their minds. Secret but powerful groups have decided the time has come to seize the prizes they've long sought, and they all want the twins dead, at least temporarily. In this penultimate adventure, the groundbreaking Sacred Books series races towards its unforgettable climax.

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Ain't it cool to read banned books?  Thanks to Grassroots Books, the Washoe County Library, and the ACLU for hosting a fun event!

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My second review for the NY Journal of Books!

Little Red Writing

by Joan Holub
Reviewed by David Michael Slater | Released: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Chronicle Books (36 pages)

“. . . a fractured fairy tale, a hero’s journey, and a clever lesson plan all rolled into one.”
Little Red Writing is a fractured fairy tale, a hero’s journey, and a clever lesson plan all rolled into one. And it’s amusing to boot.
Ms. 2 informs her class of excited young writing utensils that they will be composing stories. Seeking inspiration, Little Red, a rosy-cheeked red pencil, embarks on a journey through the school. Along the way she hopes to meet unusual characters, fight evil, and save the day.
At the outset of her adventure Little Red learns about the craft of storytelling. First, the story path: 1) Idea, characters, setting; 2) Trouble; 3) Even bigger trouble; 4) Fix the trouble. Then she picks up some writing advice including the need for active verbs, how to avoid getting bogged down in thickets of adjectives, the benefit of using adverbs, and the danger of run-on sentences.
The reader might at about this point note the irony of a storybook interrupting its own story with storytelling advice—when the only potentially worthwhile advice might be to avoid doing such a thing at all costs.
But the remarkable fact is that the veteran team of author Jane Holub and illustrator Melissa Sweet get away with it. They have managed to deftly interpose literary lessons without bringing the story to a grinding halt. The pair pull off this sleight of hand with the combined energy of Ms. Holub’s lively writing and Ms. Sweet’s colorful, action packed illustrations. The instructions are wisely and effectively delivered on the run while Little Red hurries through the school in search of her elusive story.
Even so, the book threatens to not rise above the level of Fun Teaching Tool. But just as the reader is resigned to this, the plot thickens. A mystery takes shape in the form of an intriguing but also ominous tail, in this case a long extension cord, which Little Red bravely follows until it leads her to the final showdown with the Big Bad Wolf—in this case the Wolf 3000 pencil sharpener—so she can save the proverbial grandmother, in this case Principal Granny.
Victorious, Little Red returns to class to share her success and her successfully written story with her classmates—who have their own terrific tales to tell.
In the end Little Red Writing is about what it takes to find one’s own stories: You must sally forth searching for them, pencil in hand and courage in backpack (powerful vocab in your basket is a plus as well).
But that’s only half the message here.
It’s refreshing and more than a little surprising to find a book that not only encourages kids to seize and save their days, but that also actually instructs them in an entertaining way how to properly get the dramatic details down on paper after they do so.
All the better to share them with the world, my dear.

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From the WiLoveBooks Blog

"Starts out as a story about a Jewish teenager growing up in the 80's. He has a dysfunctional family, and great friends who talk him into crazy things. The story becomes so much more than that. At times, funny, surprising, and sad. I loved how all the details came together in the end. Ultimately this makes you think. There is much more here than I expected. The end left me stunned, which is why I gave it five stars. Just a really good read."

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Our highest profile yet! Heeb Magazine was started up with funding from Spielberg, among others. Here's to hoping he reads it! 

Here's the editor's review.

A Holocaust Survivor Walks Into a Hebrew School: David Michael Slater’s Fun and Games

"A Holocaust-survivor grandmother who makes macabre jokes. A famous father whose anti-religious books attract sexually-desperate groupies. Sadistic sisters, an alcoholic mother, an unusually high body count for a novel this funny, and a plot that encompasses Hebrew school, porn producer thugs and a faltering orgy for literary deconstructionists without missing a beat. Even more remarkable, David Michael Slater’s Fun and Games is a male coming-of-age story that doesn’t rely on shock humor or gratuitous offense for chuckles–it’s hilarious because it’s tragedy happening to somebody else, a boy named Jonathan, who in terms of teen hormones and bewilderment could have been us."

Judith Basya, HEEB Literary Editor

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Anyone attending the 2013 Nevada Library Association Conference--I'll be presenting "How to Get Lucky: One Author's Unconventional Path to Publishing" from 3:40 - 4:30 tomorrow. See you there!

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My latest review for the NY Journal of Books!

Little Santa

by Jon Agee
Reviewed by David Michael Slater | Released: October 17, 2013
Publisher: Dial (40 pages)

“. . . as pleasing as the book is visually and as winning as the concept may be, the story leaves something to be desired.”
Jon Agee is a treasure whose books are consistently recognized with awards and honors. Yet he has never quite achieved the level of public recognition he deserves.
Since 1982, he has been producing gems like The Incredible Paintings of Felix Clousseau, Dmitri the Astronaut, and (perhaps his best) Milo’s Hat Trick. His style—large full-color figures from creative perspectives in often generous white space—is instantly recognizable, and it never fails to imbue his scenes and characters with a charm that somehow transcends simple cartoons
Mr. Agee’s latest, Little Santa, is the tale of Santa’s childhood. It’s essentially a superhero origin story, and the concept alone should guarantee the book’s success (after all, Santa Claus may be the most popular superhero of all time).
The book is a delight to look at. Little Santa is a cute little pudge in a bright red pointy-hooded pajama suit. His colorfulness reinforces the fact that his attitude about the challenges of life at the North Pole is better than his more drably hued, Amishly serious-looking parents’ and siblings’.
Mr. Agee’s creative use of white space is particularly well employed here to depict the snowy landscape and the blizzard that swamps the Clauses’ house one night. The snowbound family sends brave Little Santa to get help, which he finds in the form of a flying reindeer and a troop of industrious elves.
Unfortunately, as pleasing as the book is visually and as winning as the concept may be, the story leaves something to be desired. The best superhero origins satisfy by revealing childhood incidents that perfectly explain the full-grown hero’s quirks, strategies, and styles. Mr. Agee misses golden opportunities here. Santa is nothing if not quirky. The reader wants to know why he prefers chimneys to windows or doors—but here we learn only that he simply liked them. Similarly, the hero’s costume: the red pj’s are adorable, but Little Santa is wearing them from the start.
While these are disappointments, the ending is actually a bit disturbing. After being excavated from their buried abode, a much easier year follows with the elves around to help. Even so, the Clauses decide to move to Florida. They wave goodbye while Little Santa’s frowning mom tightens his scarf. We’re told he simply “stayed behind.”
The book ends with an illustration of the grownup Santa we all know and love on a roof with his team of reindeer. The accompanying text reads, “And you know the rest of the story.”
Be that as it may, I suspect Little Santa’s abandonment will leave many young readers with questions about their hero’s backstory that may undermine the playful spirit of the book.

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Nice to wake up to some hometown paper attention! 

What began 15 years ago with “Cheese Louise!” has moved down a line of more than a dozen children’s books and another half-dozen teen novels into the dysfunctional life of the Schwartz family in David Michael Slater’s new adult novel, “Fun & Games” (Library Tales Publishing, $16.99).

Meet Jonathan, the teenage narrator growing up in the 1980s in Pittsburgh, Pa., amidst adolescent sexual angst, sibling sparring with his sisters Nadia and Olivia, and parental disconnect.

Throw in a few under stories involving unconventional marriages, family secrets and teenage friendships moving in unexpected tangents, fueled by Holocaust survivor grandparents dealing in unusual ways with their lives.

By turns darkly humorous and heartbreaking, “Fun & Games” turns on the fulcrum of a coming-of-age teenage-boy, life experiments tempered by the portrait of a family breaking down, suffering and searching for renewal.

It’s not, however, autobiographical, Slater is quick to inform.

“In some ways, it’s a typical first novel because it’s a lot of my life, at least in terms of geography,” said Slater, a Pine Middle School English language arts teacher.

“The family does not resemble mine,” he said. “But I lived in Pittsburgh. His house is my house. It’s sort of typical, you write what you know first. But it sort of grew.

One thing Slater wanted to avoid was oversimplifying the act of growing up while exploring things he thought about while growing up.

In addition to Jonathan, his friends Milo, Jake and Cory also play pivotal roles in “Fun & Games,” as each deals with his own secrets and family chemistry.

“Each character has to grapple with the influences that form them,” Slater said.

The end is a surprise that has left a lot of readers somewhat puzzled and a little shocked by an unexpected event that leads to violence. But it’s not a funny book, even given Slater’s droll writing style, the book’s title and the fact that, as Slater said, “more than one reviewer called it a ‘light’ read.”

Having attended five or six book groups that have read the novel, Slater said, reactions to the ending are interesting.

“Universally, they say I blindsided them,” he said. “Some loved it. The shock at the end reflected real life. Others thought the end was too sudden, too shocking, and did not seem to fit.”

The diversity of reader reactions is what Slater had hoped for with “Fun & Games.”

“It’s interesting talking to people,” he said. “Some think it’s light-hearted and are surprised at it becoming serious. Others feel the other way. ... The world view I present is that life can be both horrible and happy. It’s both, the sacred and the profane.”

The written past

Slater first tried writing his senior year in college in Michigan, although he had no writing plans beyond a one-act play.

“I kind of got the wrong impression about how easy it is,” he said. “I sent it to a Little Theater in Flint, and they produced it. It was an absurd play with no structure. Nothing fancy, but it gave me the thought to keep on writing.”

A year later in graduate school, he came across short story master Jorge Luis Borges.

“His short stories are often fake essays,” Slater said. “I loved them. They were sort of a revelation.”

Moving to Portland, Ore., where he taught school for 15 years before coming to Reno, Slater began writing stories and submitting them to literary journals.

“It’s sort of a strategic way to start; it’s helpful to have anything published,” he said.

One of those stories struck him as a good idea for a children’s story. He tried it, but nothing happened. Then, he wrote another and “Cheese Louise!,” the story of a heroic refrigerated cheese, was born.

He kept at it, writing for kids, then for teens, and now an adult novel.

“Here I am, 15 years later,” he said.

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