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coloring page tuesdays, news and events, blog book tours, reviews, illustration and promotion, and general weirdness from a children's book author/illustrator.
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1. Using Postcard Mailings at Sub It Club - I'm interviewed!

Today, I'm also at Sub It Club - a blog about breaking into the Kidlit Biz. Dana Carey (France's SCBWI Illustrator Coordinator) asked me about sending promotional postcards to get children's book illustration work. (She also gave a lovely shout-out to A BIRD ON WATER STREET.) If you're looking to break into children's book illustration, she asked some pretty in-depth questions, which I think you'll find helpful. So, I hope you'll GO READ!!! (CLICK HERE or the image above.)

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2. A BIRD ON WATER STREET Teacher's Guide is HERE! (And a new reader...)

The Teacher's Guide with Talking Points for A BIRD ON WATER STREET is now available (CLICK HERE), and it made me cry when I read it. I know that sounds silly, but imagine if you will... A person who I've never met, Meredith Moran of Little Pickle Press, read my book and not only picked up on the subtle points I thought nobody would catch, she brought up points even I didn't catch! Some of the symbolism she featured wowed my socks off... I did THAT??? Really!? Wow! The way she explains, yup, I did indeed do that, and I'm so impressed with myself!
     When you're in the thick of writing a story, while you try to be pithy and profound (of course!), you don't always realize what you're doing. She made me sound brilliant! And she made me feel like I'd done exactly what I was hoping for... like what I saw in Pharrell Williams' video with Oprah when she said, "You've created something greater than yourself."
     And that's why I cried. I wasn't on Oprah, but I might as well have been. Have you ever known a Teacher's Guide could make an author cry? I think I'm the luckiest writer on the planet!
     Add to that, I received this...
     Carol Crawford, who invited me to speak at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference, shared this awesome photo with me recently... This is Peg Clow, a Copperhill native (where my story takes place), with her brand new copy of A BIRD ON WATER STREET given to her on her birthday. More crying! This just makes me so happy! Thank you for sharing, Carol!

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3. Coloring Page Tuesday - Earth Tree

     HAPPY EARTH DAY and HAPPY ARBOR DAY on Friday too!! I combined the symbols for the two holidays to give you an Earth Tree... Do you see the globe in the leaves?
     This Earth Day means so much to me because it nearly coincides with the release of my novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET. With it's environmental message, I feel like I'm finally giving something back that might actually make a difference... if enough kids read it. It's time to change some attitudes about how we treat our planet, and our kids are our hope for the future.
     CLICK HERE for more Earth Day coloring pages! (Please use recycled paper when you print them out!) And be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
     **A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**

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4. Fulda Library Coloring Contest

I recently received an email from the Fulda Library, part of the Plum Creek Library System in Minnesota... they asked permission to use one of my coloring pages for their "Friends of the Library Coloring Contest."
     "Of course!" I said. My images are especially for libraries and librarians to use without worry. And look at the happy results!
Click the images to see them larger in a new window.
Here are some of the colored pictures:

(They used my 2009 Talk Like a Pirate image.)
     And here are the lucky winners!

This makes me HAPPY!!!!

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5. This is MY definition of success - HAPPY

Happy Makes Pharrell Cry | OWN
I love the song "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, but to know how it has affected people around the world, how it has truly created change if even for a moment of pure joy. Wow. THAT is what success looks like to me. I can only dream that A BIRD ON WATER STREET could ever have such an impact. Just WOW.

Click the image below if the embedded video gives you any trouble.

CLICK HERE to see the official video.
In its honor, I'm starting a new label for my blog: "Happy." Which is exactly what it sounds like - stuff that makes me so happy, I just have to share!
Thanks to SwissMiss for the heads up.

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6. PLANNING YOUR NOVEL: IDEAS AND STRUCTURE by Janice Hardy - Guest Post and Giveaway!

I'm one of Janice Hardy's Beta readers and I have to tell you how excited I am about her latest book: Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure. So many of the things people tell you about writing are lovely, but leave you with questions of, "How"? Janice answers that. She is not only an amazingly talented writer (author of the Healing Wars trilogy), but she is a gifted teacher. She breaks down complicated ideas into easy-to-understand concepts you can adapt with your own writing. Now that the book is out - I will be shouting about it to everybody I know and using it in my classrooms. I'm honored Janice dropped by to talk:

What Kind of Writer Are You? Finding Your Writing Process
By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

     If you put ten writers in a room and ask them how they write, odds are you'll get ten different answers. There's bound to be some crossover, but everyone approaches the writing process differently. The creative process takes many forms and there's nothing wrong if your process differs from another writer's.
     But it's sad how often new writers (and some old ones), don't realize this. I’ve met too many writers who felt they had to write in a certain way to be successful, and that style was contrary to their own natural process. So say it with me...
     There is no right way to write.
     Trying to force yourself to write in a way that feels unnatural to you is only going to cause frustration. For example:
• The outliner who tries to wing it with no writing plan and feels lost, writing a book that’s a huge, unfocused mess.
• The pantser who tries to force her creativity into an outline and feels stymied, making her story go where it doesn’t want to go just because a list of events told her to take it there.
• The freestyler who forces himself to write chronologically and feels his creativity drain out of him when the scenes he’s most excited about fade away in his head.
     If a process makes you miserable and hurts your creativity, there’s a good chance it’s not the right process for you. Don’t be afraid to dump it and try something else.
     However, don’t reject a process idea if you’ve never tried it just because you don’t think it suits you. I’ve had techniques I thought would never work be exactly what I needed to take my writing to the next level.
     If you’re just starting your first novel, you might not yet know what your process is, and that’s okay. Most writers try multiple techniques before they find the ones that work best for them. Experiment with different styles (or adopt pieces from many) until you find the one that feels the most natural to you.
     Let’s look at a few process types and see if any fit your style:

The Pantser
      These writers write by the "seat of their pants" and enjoy sitting down at a blank screen with a general idea and letting the words take them. They don’t want to know what happens before it does happen, and seeing how the novel ends is half the fun of writing it. If you have no trouble finding the words when you sit down to write, but stare at the screen with a terrified look on your face when you try to plot or outline, this could be the process for you.

The Outliner
      Writing without a plan leaves these writers with a mess of scenes and no coherent storyline. They find comfort in knowing how a novel will unfold before they type a single word. They like to list how each scene starts, how it ends, and what happens in between.
     If you need to know exactly where your novel is going and how it’s going to get there before you write it, this could be your process.

The Loose Outliner
      These writers like structure, but they don’t want to know every detail before they write. They prefer to build the foundation of the novel, creating a framework in which to write that lets them control the plot without the plot controlling them.
     If you like knowing enough about your novel to guide your writing without losing the mystery of the story, this might be a good process for you to try.

The Character Writer
      Characters come to these writers first, and by the time they’re ready to write they know them inside and out. These writers don’t always know what those characters are going to do, however, and they enjoy letting the characters chase after their dreams and see where they take them.
     If you’re the type who knows what the characters want and need, but aren’t sure of the plot events to get them there, you might enjoy this process.

The Plot Driver
      These writers see the plot unfold long before they see the faces of the characters. They love the mechanics of plotting and figuring out how the pieces all fit together, and once that’s solid, then they figure out who the story is about.
     If structure and plot is what excites you, this could be the process for you.

The Scene Sewer
      Novels come to these writers in bits and pieces in random order. Scene sewers prefer jumping around when the mood strikes and sewing up the plot later. They’d rather see it in their mind, get it on paper, and worry about how the puzzle pieces fit later.
      If you like to let inspiration strike and then write—no matter where that scene might be in the book—you could be this type of writer.
      And if you fit more than one process? Take the parts that work for you and create your own style.

Finding Your Own Writing Process
1. Which type of writer do you most identify with? How does that fit with your own writing style?
2. What style would you want to try? What about it appeals to you? Why?
3. What style don’t you like? Why not?
4. Is your process working for you, or do you feel like it’s holding you back?
5. If it’s holding you back, why? What about the process do you find frustrating?
6. Can those frustrations be eliminated by trying or incorporating any of the above styles?
     Even if you know your process, it's never a bad idea to dust it off once in a while and re-evaluate what you're doing and why. You might discover you've grown as a writer, and making a few tweaks to your process could make you more productive overall.

What kind of writer are you?
      Looking for advice on planning or revising your novel? Check out my newest book Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a series of self-guided workshops that help you turn your idea into a novel.
     Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure takes you step-by-step through finding and developing ideas, brainstorming stories, and crafting a solid plan for your novel—including a one-sentence pitch, summary hook blurb, and working synopsis. 
     Over 100 different exercises lead you through the novel-planning process, with ten workshops that build upon each other to flesh out your idea as much or as little as you need to do to start writing.
     Find Exercises On:
- Creating Characters

- Choosing Point of View

- Determining the Conflict

- Finding Your Process

- Developing Your Plot

- And So Much More!
     Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure is an easy-to-follow guide to planning your novel, as well as a handy tool for revising a first draft, or fixing a novel that isn’t quite working.

     Janice Hardy is the author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, where she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The first book in her Foundations of Fiction series, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure is out now. She lives in Georgia with her husband, one yard zombie, three cats, and a very nervous freshwater eel. Find out more about writing at her site, Fiction University, or find her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

     Janice has kindly agreed to give away one free, signed and dedicated copy of Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure to one of my lucky visitors. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below.

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7. Friday Linky List - April 18, 2014

Sorry for the paltry list of links last week. I was out of town more than not and wasn't able to keep up. But I make up for it this week!

From Kate Messner - "Owning Our Words: Gatekeepers and Gender in Children's Books"

From The Washington Post - Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say

At Nerdy Book Club: The Top 10 Reasons Why I Can't Stop Reading Children's & Young Adult Literature by Emily Meixner

From Mashable via PW: 9 Children's Book Morals for Adulthood

From PW - Josie Leavitt on "To Host or Not to Host?" (... book signings when a book is published through Amazon's CreateSpace.) Be sure to read the comments too.

From The Atlantic via PW: Why Teaching Poetry Is So Important

VERY cool book trailer for THE RING & THE CROWN at YouTube

VERY cool app from the Picture Book Artists Association at iTunes (free)

From School Library Journal: SLJ's Average Book Prices in 2014 - interesting

At Flavorwire - Beautiful Vintage Photos of Bygone Bookstores

I think the Stoics were really on to something. At 99U - The Stoic: 9 Principles to Help You Keep Calm in Chaos

At Nathan Bransford's blog, an amazing article everybody should read: Steven Salmon on writing with cerebral palsy

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Not only have Sarah Dillard and I been roomies at the Kindling Words Conference in Vermont several times, I'm also a huge fan of her work. She read a portion of her latest creation at the last conference, EXTRAORDINARY WARREN and there wasn't a dry eye in the room from laughing so hard!
     A chicken who wants to be special is convinced by a hungry rat that he is no ordinary chicken, but Chicken Supreme!!!! The humor is off the charts hilarious for all readers, even though the intended audience is the youngest chapter book reader. This one hits ALL the buttons. I'm thrilled to have Sarah here today to talk about EXTRAORDINARY WARREN.

Q. Sarah, this is one 'out there' idea! How did it come to you?
Thanks so much. This was such a fun book to do. It started when I did a doodle of a chicken looking at an egg and wondered what that chicken was thinking about. It seemed that he had some pretty big life questions about who he was and where he came from and where he was going. Warren evolved from that. He really is kind of a philosopher I think. I knew I needed a villain and a rat seemed like the obvious choice. I've always loved Templeton from Charlotte's Web. I loved the idea that Warren befriends an egg but I also knew that at some point that egg was going to have to hatch. Somehow it all came together.

Q. Was it tricky to pull off the subtlety all the way through the story?
I think sometimes I am too subtle! But I will say that I wrote and rewrote this story many many times. I was lucky to have had wonderful input along the way from my fabulous agent Lori Nowicki at Painted Words and also my incredible critique group. And I was lucky to have an extraordinary editor in Karen Nagel.

Q. I know you as a more quiet soul - where did this comic genius streak come from!?
I am a quiet person but quiet doesn't necessarily mean serious. I have always had a pretty strong funny side as well.

Q. I love the simple shapes and limited color palette in EXTRAORDINARY WARREN - different from some of your other works. What was your approach?
Before I started writing, I think that my art was more lovely and rich. I thought I would probably write like that too, but everything seems to come out funny. I had to make adjustments to my work. At first that was kind of scary, but then it felt very liberating. Instead of approaching the book thinking I will give this book my look, I turned it around and thought what look does this book need me to give it.
      Warren definitely dictated the art for this book. I tried a lot of approaches but a nice simple line with flat color was what worked best. The limited palette was at the suggestion of my art director. At first it seemed horrifying and impossible. But I started looking at a lot of illustrations are from the 1920's and '30s, which I have always loved, especially the work of L. Leslie Brooke, Maud and Miska Petersham, Maginel Wright Enright and her wonderful illustrations in the My Bookhouse series, and Winsor Mcay's Little Nemo's Adventures in Slumberland. One thing that really strikes me about all of those illustrations is the beautiful line and flat colors. Due to printing processes then, many of those illustrations were just one or two colors and black. I realized that black could be used not just as line but also as a color, which led to a nice bold graphic look that really works for Warren.
      I started the book thinking that I would work in my usual water color and gouache, but it became clear that the best way to achieve the look that I wanted would be to work digitally, which was a big change for me. It does seem sort of ironic that looking at old illustrations led me to work this way!

Click the image above to see it larger in a new window.

Q. I'd love to hear about your path into the publishing biz, and especially about the path for EXTRAORDINARY WARREN to publication. Have you publishers been over the top about it since day one? (I should think so!)
Amazingly, not everyone fell in love with Warren immediately. He was rejected many times, but with each rejection there were useful comments that helped me to make Warren stronger. If I were to give any advice to people trying to get published, it would be don't give up and learn to accept criticism and use it to your advantage. And again, don't give up. Really, persistence is the most important piece of the puzzle.

Q. What will you do to celebrate the release of EXTRAORDINARY WARREN?
I've been visiting blogs and have some book signings coming up but mostly I've been hard at work on Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day, which will be out in October. I don't want to give too much away about that one, but I will tell you that Warren and Egg are going to cross the road.

Q. Thanks so much for stopping by Sarah! I can't wait to see what you come up with next!
Thank You!

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9. Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival Wrap-up

Last week I finally got to experience the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi - slightly outside of my typical roaming area. I was especially excited to meet Ellen Ruffin of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, where some of my work is archived. She headed up the event and boy can she throw a party!
      My mission was two-fold. I was there to represent the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators as we (Southern Breeze region members) transition representation to the newly formed Louisiana/Mississippi region and host a get-together one night. (Mississippi used to be part of our region.)
     For those interested in volunteering - it's not just about SCBWI, events like these are also a great opportunity to showcase your own work. I was able to proudly feature A BIRD ON WATER STREET as well as the MFA in Writing and Illustrating program at Hollins University where I teach each summer.

     Heather, Jo, and Laurel Snyder gave a talk on "The Book in You." I also gave a talk on "Saving the Earth, One Book at a Time." I'm still new to talking about ABOWS so I was a wee bit nervous. But I got great comments from everybody. (That was followed by a book signing which was prepared so nicely!)

      I also got to meet the fantastic Regional Advisors in charge of Louisiana/Mississippi. Here's our gang: Heather Montgomery (our ARA), Pat Hefler, Cheryl Mathis, Jo Kittinger (our RAE), and me. (And Virginia Howard - not shown.)

     The keynotes were folks I've rarely if ever had the chance to hear: Christopher Paul Curtis (such a nice guy), Kathy Appelt (so gracious), and M.T. (Tobin) Anderson. I had to get a book signed by him! (And of course, I forgot to bring all the books I already own by all these wonderful people - gads.) I had to leave Friday morning so sadly missed Leda Schubert (love her!) and David Small and Sarah Stewart. (We're trying to get David and his wife to come speak to our region - cross your fingers it works out!)
     Sarah Frances Hardy (below, left) and Katie Anderson (below, right) are dear friends who I've gotten to see rise up in the biz with fantastic book deals of their own. I couldn't be a bigger cheerleader for them both and was thrilled to attend their talk, "From Brain to Book: The Publishing Process in Ten Easy Steps." They did such a great job and we hope to have them speak at our WIK conference soon!

     Of course, that meant I had to miss Sarah C. Campbell's talk on "Finding Fractals/Making Fractals" - she was just on my blog too. But Heather and I tried to divide and conquer since they were speaking at the same time. Pah!
      It was also amazing to be able to help celebrate the winners and honor winners of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and Illustrator Awards. (I've been invited for years but finally got to attend the official party!) I got to congratulate fellow EMLA author (we're represented by the same agency - the Erin Murphy Literary Agency) Pat Zietlow Miller in person for SOPHIE'S SQUASH (Honor Winner) - I featured her on my blog recently. What a well-deserving book!
I also got to meet the awesome Linda Davich (I LOVE YOU, NOSE, I LOVE YOU, TOES!), Amy Dyckman (TEA PARTY RULES), and Christian Robinson (RAIN!) - who was way younger than I expected for his amazing and mature artwork. (I featured his book, JOSEPHINE, recently and I think he's going to be around for a while!) Here I am with Pat, Linda, one of the committee heads (sorry!), and Christian at their awards banquet in the lovely train depot downtown.

     I hate that I didn't get a photo with Ellen. But all said, it was an excellent affair, and I was surrounded by friends (which is really why I love to go to conferences and festivals above all else). Ellen and all the organizers did a bang-up job - truly. THANK YOU's to all! If you ever get the chance to go, I can highly recommend the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival!

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10. Coloring Page Tuesday - Rockin' Bunny!

     Here comes Peter Cottontail! Rocking down the bunny trail? Why not! I hope you have a lovely Easter full of pretty blooms and ruffles.
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**
     **A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner!**

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11. A BIRD ON WATER STREET is a GOLD Medal Award Winner!!!

A BIRD ON WATER STREET will be officially released May 7th and has already won TWO awards - wahoooo!! The first was the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) SPRING OKRA PICK:
And now - ABOWS is a Mom's Choice GOLD award winner!!! WOWSA!!!! Color me giddy!

Doin' the snoopy dance around here! After ten years of work to get this novel to the light of day, this is SO validating!!!

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12. Nice shout-out on BOOKTUBE NEWS

So Elizzie does weekly shout-outs about all the books she's reviewing for the coming week, and today she gave a lovely shout-out to A BIRD ON WATER STREET right at the beginning! Almost 20,000 folks subscribe to Liz, so that's some darned nice exposure! AND she's from West Virginia - a sister region to the mining community of Copperhill, Tennessee where my story takes place. Very cool.

Click the image below to go see if the embedded video gives you any trouble.

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13. Jarrett J. Krosoczka has a new picture book out!

It's called PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLYFISH and OMG I can't wait to read it! Check out this adorable video about his process:

If the video above gives you any trouble, click the image below to go check it out on YouTube.

Thanks to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for the heads up!

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14. Peter Salomon on ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS - Guest Post and Giveaway!

I adored Peter Salomon's first novel HENRY FRANKS so am thrilled to have him on today to talk about his latest novel, which has just about the best cover EVAH! Here's Peter...

      In the period of time between the sale of my debut novel, HENRY FRANKS, and the actual release date I had one primary goal: sell my second novel before that release date. So, with that in mind, I got right to work.
      I started writing a YA dystopian novel, because it’s the law: every author is required to write at least one, no? Halfway though, I realized two things: the ending no longer worked and I didn’t really want to write a YA dystopian novel.
      So, I started writing a different book. This one was more YA Action/Adventure, I guess. It was great fun to write but it, too, didn’t sell. By the time I was finished, though, I’d figured out how to end that pesky YA dystopian. That one didn’t sell, either.
      Then, HENRY FRANKS came out in Sept. 2012. One thing quickly became apparent: my genre was definitely YA Horror. With that in mind, I decided my next book had to stay in that genre.
      That, of course, still left me trying to figure out what to write. In the meantime, I continued to interview other authors for my blog to help promote their work. One of the questions I asked horror author C.W. LaSart (www.cwlasart.com) was for her favorite word. Her response was ‘ghastly.’
      Why is that important? Because in talking with her after receiving her answers I responded with this comment:
     I've always loved 'ghastly' by the way, though I ALWAYS wanted 'ghostly' to be far more popular than it actually is, it just feels like 'ghostly' became too watered down (probably by cartoons: Casper for instance) so that it lost the menace and creepiness that it should have had. Oh well…
      Yes, I actually dug up the actual message thread to share this story. So, we discussed the word ‘ghostly’ for a very short while and then she most likely completely forgot about our conversation. On the other hand, I kept thinking that ‘Ghostly’ would make a fun title for a story. If I had ever written a ghost story, which I really hadn’t. So I decided I should.

Peter's writing nook:
      I started brainstorming a ghost story and sent my agent three chapters, totaling about 10 pages (they’re very short chapters). My agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, then asked me one very troubling question: ‘So, what happens next?’ (I might be paraphrasing there). The only problem was, I didn’t actually have an answer.
      All I had was 3 chapters and a title: GHOSTLY. So, after more brainstorming (which basically consisted of driving my kids around town listening to pop music) I came up with a very brief synopsis and sent that along to my agent. She then sent the proposal to my Editor for HENRY FRANKS.
      And Flux bought GHOSTLY.
      Of course, I hadn’t actually written the book yet. All I had was 3 chapters. Written in a very strong, very unique ‘voice.’ One I was terrified that I’d be unable to sustain for an entire book.

Because for the most part I’d thrown out a lot of the traditional ‘rules’ of fiction writing for those 3 chapters. Whether it was the rule against run on sentences or sentence fragments or repeating words, didn’t matter. For GHOSTLY I relied more on the rules of poetry than fiction. And it was a constant struggle to write the book without losing that voice.
      It’s not written in verse or anything like that. It’s prose, through and through. But it has an internal rhythm of language that owes a tremendous debt to poetry.
      For example, this is the final paragraph of those first chapters that were sent to Flux:
      In the corner of the room the shadow screamed, burning the air around me until I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t think, and everything went black and everything changed and everything disappeared and all I knew was pain. Unending, unceasing pain. (to read the first chapter, CLICK HERE.)
      So, in one paragraph, there’s a run-on sentence, a sentence fragment, and two different words repeated 3 times each. There’s also a definite rhythm to the voice, and it was an exhausting battle to sustain that for the novel. But I did.
      Unfortunately, I lost the battle to name the book GHOSTLY. Which, truth to tell, I didn’t fight too strenuously. The word has really lost it’s creep, sad to say. So, now, it’s ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, which captures the poetry of the book far better than GHOSTLY ever could.
      And all because CW LaSart loves the word ‘ghastly.’

GIVEAWAYAs soon as he receives his author copies from Flux (which may not be until later this summer) Peter will generously giving away a free, signed copy of ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS to one of my lucky commenters in the US or Canada. Enter below!
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15. Friday Linky Lists - April 11, 2014

At HuffPost: 23 Gorgeous Bookplates That Will Give Your Books Serious Style

At From the Mixed-Up Files - Being Small is Good: A Conversation with a Small Press

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16. IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK by Brianne Farley

I love to feature unusual or high-design-looking picture books like Brianne Farley's debut picture book IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK, especially since I teach Design in the MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books at Hollins University each summer. I also love Ike's story - he's the ultimate procrastinator when it comes to writing. Not that any of us can relate to that. *ahem* Brianne dropped by to talk about her cutting edge style...

Q. Brianne, CONGRATULATIONS on your first picture book IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK! You've been an illustrator for some time now, how did you fall into picture books?
Thank you! I’m so happy that INK is a real book. Sometimes I see it at a random bookstore in the middle of nowhere and it’s always weird and surprising that this thing I made is out in the world, loitering in random bookstores.
      I’ve always loved books and always loved drawing. Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake were my childhood heroes. As a kid I spent a lot of time reading while sitting in a tree, for some reason. It’s actually very uncomfortable. I don’t recommend it. I went to college as a Creative Writing major and Studio Art minor. At the time I wanted to be an editor, but after a few internships realized it wasn’t for me. College is where I was first introduced to and fell in love with printmaking and became interested in combining words and pictures. A few years later I went back to school for my MFA in Illustration and focused on picture books from the get-go.

Q. Your style is so cutting edge - almost editorial or with that elusive "European look." Do you have a philosophy behind your style?
Ooh, thanks! Well, my work is usually finished digitally but I’m very much inspired by printmaking. There’s a wonderful printmaking technique called chine-collé that I was thinking about when I made these illustrations. Also, I made the first draft of INK while in grad school, and getting it published was the farthest thing from my mind. So, I was able to focus on making illustrations I would like to see in a book, rather than something I thought would be marketable. I was also just hoping to write and illustrate a good story, not necessarily a children’s book. The picture books I like best are the ones that have something to offer to any age reader. That being said, kids are smart people with giant imaginations, so they’re a great audience.

Q. How do you work? I see hints of cut paper, computer, pen and ink...
Yes, good eye! The illustrations for IKE’S INCREDIBLE INK were first drawn with ink (um, I mean incredible ink) and a dip pen. I then scanned these drawings along with a “library” of ink splotches for Ike’s body and an embarrassing amount of found paper (beautiful handmade paper, old graph paper, dry cleaning tags, etc.). I “cut” the paper digitally and layered it behind the ink drawings. You can see some of the process HERE.
      INK is a story about writing and story telling, but it’s also about craft! It’s about ink on paper. It’s about getting your hands messy and having an experience worth writing about. So, that’s part of the reason I chose to use ink and cut paper. My next book (yay!) is about an imaginary tree fort (of course!), so the illustrations are a little looser.

Q. Can you share a photo of your studio?
Haha look at my studio. I like my desk to be perfectly clean and my walls to be a perfect mess. My studio is in a little nook in my apartment that my roommate was kind enough to let me take over. My desk is a glass-top kitchen table I turned into a giant light table with some cleverly placed Christmas lights. It’s probably a fire hazard.

Q. Being your first picture book, I'd love to hear your path to publication.
I made the first draft of INK for a class in grad school. We were asked to complete a cover and three finished spreads, but as a total crazy person I decided to finish the whole book. Author/illustrator/friendly-human Peter Brown was on campus to give a lecture on picture books and stopped by the illustration grad studio (where I was working like a crazy person). He liked my book and suggested I send it to his agent, Paul Rodeen at Rodeen Literary Management, who is now my agent. It took a while, but the wonderful Elizabeth Bicknell at Candlewick Press gave INK a home. She and Ann Stott and Heather McGee and the rest of the Candlewick team helped me refine and improve the work I started in school. They’re a dream team.

Q. Ike does everything in his power to stall having to actually write. Might your own situation have inspired the story?
Haha MAYBE. The line in which he needs to “find his favorite pen” before getting to work is definitely inspired by real-life events. Sigh. BUT I would also make the argument that INK isn’t all about procrastination. It’s also about getting out and finding your story. My favorite thing about Ike is that he isn’t afraid. He wants to go to the moon so he just starts building a rocket. He clearly doesn’t know what he’s doing but no matter, tally ho. I want to be like that.

Q. Are you working on another book?
I am! I’m working on another book with Candlewick. It is about an imaginary tree fort, but it’s also about siblings. It’s inspired by one ANONYMOUS bookish older sister and one enthusiastic younger sister who, many years ago, spent a lot of time together in the woods in their backyard, drawing plans for tree forts.

Sounds great, I look forward to it!

Candlewick has kindly agreed to give away a free copy of IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below!
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IKE'S INCREDIBLE INK. Copyright © 2013 by Brianne Farley. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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17. You're invited to the ABOWS release party!

You, your friends and family are invited to attend the
release party on
Thursday, May 8th at 7:00pm
at Little Shop of Stories
Decatur, Georgia
with live bluegrass music performed by
Playing on the Planet!
Click the invite for more details!

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18. Coloring Page Tuesdays -

     Easter is coming! Have you ever heard the phrase that if your ears are itching, somebody must be talking about you? Can you imagine how that must be for a bunny rabbit? Gads!
     CLICK HERE for more coloring pages and be sure to share your creations in my gallery so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (They don't have to be cards - I love scribbly kids art too!)
     Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...

my debut historical fiction mid-grade, A BIRD ON WATER STREET, available NOW in eversions! Click the cover to learn more!
     When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most.
     **A SIBA OKRA Pick!**

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19. SOPHIE'S SQUASH by Pat Zietlow Miller - GIVEAWAY!

SOPHIE'S SQUASH written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf has set the entire kidlitosphere abuzz. So much so, SOPHIE'S SQUASH recently won the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Award for best picture book text. Wowsa! It even has its own facebook page! And it deserves the attention for the spot-on humor and cleverness. Truly, half way through I wondered "How is Pat going to get herself out of this quandry?" And she did! In such a charming way. Sweet magic.
     I'm thrilled to have Pat on my blog today...

Q. Pat, SOPHIE'S SQUASH is your debut picture book - and what a debut it is! How long have you been writing and what's been your path to publication?
I have been seriously working on picture books for about six years. But before that, I was always writing something. Newspaper stories, magazine articles, corporate communications … But I can honestly say that writing picture books is the most fun, by far!
      My path to publication was like that of a lot of debut authors. Loads of rejections, a few close calls, many more rejections and then, a yes! I had almost given up on finding a home for SOPHIE when Anne Schwartz of Schwartz & Wade called.

Q. How did the idea for SOPHIE'S SQUASH come to you?
The initial idea came from something my daughter, Sonia, did when she was three. We were shopping for groceries, and I put a butternut squash in the cart. When it came time to check out, I couldn’t find the squash. That’s when I realized Sonia was rocking it like a baby. When we got home, she drew a face on it and carried it around like a doll. We never did eat it.
      So that got the story going. Then, I added a lot of things that hadn’t really happened to make it a better story. That’s the benefit of writing fiction. You can make things end the way you wish they would have in real life. (SPOILER ALERT: The parents in my book are much more patient than I was.)

Q. I love the humor in SOPHIE'S SQUASH. It's both for adults and clever children - for Sophie is indeed a bright little girl. The best picture books speak to all the ages that will be reading them (children and their parents). How did you nail that?
Well, my daughter, Sonia, has had a very dry sense of humor from an early age. So when I made the dialogue up, I wanted it to be something I could imagine Sonia saying. A few editors said they thought Sophie sounded too grown-up, but I think that’s part of her charm, and the humor.
      And, now that I’ve read this story out loud to lots of groups of people, I’ve noticed that adults and kids laugh in different places. I’d like to say I planned that, but I really didn’t.

Q. We always hear that children should solve their own problems in stories - it empowers them. Sophie definitely did that. But I wonder if that was hard to noodle out?
It was! My earliest drafts had the story ending with Sophie’s dad going to the grocery store to get her an acorn squash and a spaghetti squash. So Sophie didn’t solve anything. Then, the dad came home with Ace the goldfish after Bernice lingered and died. That didn’t work either. It was too sad.
      It took me a bit – and some good advice from my critique group friends – to have Sophie ask the farmer for advice and then plant Bernice in the garden.

Q. You received the Golden Kite Award for SOPHIE'S SQUASH!!! Congratulations!!! And how did that feel?
It was amazing. I had obviously heard of the award, but it was never on my radar that I might actually win it. So when my phone rang and the caller ID said “Lin Oliver,” I thought it might be an automated message about needing to renew my SCBWI dues.
      Instead, it was Lin herself, telling me I’d won. It was a very happy moment. I think I tweeted something like I was happy, just like Pharrell Williams, except he was a better dancer and wore cooler hats. Some spontaneous kitchen dancing may also have occurred. But there were no witnesses, so nothing can be proved.

Q. You have now become the Squash Queen! (I love this photo of the Dallas Arboretum somebody shared on Sophie's FB page as a perfect place to visit.) Are you having fun with it?
Oh, yes. I think the biggest change is that while I still eat squash soup and risotto, I now feel slightly guilty doing so. And I’ve received adorable photos and stories from readers. A few of my favorite moments are:
      • A girl who dressed up as Sophie and took her own Bernice to school. The kids were supposed to dress up as Dr. Seuss characters, but she wanted to be Sophie and Bernice.

     • A little boy who had a mini pumpkin he was treating like a baby. His mom read him the story so he’d know that it wouldn’t last forever.

     • A pre-school class that added a squash to its classroom, took great care of it and then planted it when it started getting soft. They sent me picture of it sprouting in a pot. The class also tied taking care of the squash to its kindness curriculum, which made me very happy indeed.

Q. I hear you're working on a sequel?
SOPHIE’S SEEDS, which should come out in 2016, follows Sophie to kindergarten. She brings Bonnie and Baxter with her, of course, but her classmates don’t immediately appreciate their value.
      And let’s just say Sophie doesn’t immediately appreciate her classmates either. But things eventually work out. (And again, I drew on one instance from my daughter’s pre-school days for the heart of the story.)

Q. I also heard you mention a new story inspired by somebody's Facebook post. How do you go from idea to finished story?
Oh, goodness. It really varies. I guess the common thread is that I hear or see some small nugget of something that I like – either because it’s nicely phrased, or odd, or silly or charming. Then, I work with it to see what it could become. Sometimes, the story falls into place fairly easily. Other times, it seems I struggle for every word.
     I have three critique groups I’m in where I get really good feedback, and that helps bring my stories together, too.

Q. Did you do anything special, or squash-related to celebrate the release of SOPHIE'S SQUASH?
I had a great book launch party with squash for the kids to decorate and temporary tattoos with designs from the book. But the coolest thing came from writer Lisa Morlock who’s in one of my critique groups. She sent me a beautifully painted, hollow gourd that now has a place of honor in my writing room.
      Lisa also sent me a card with some famous quotations she’d modified to make them appropriate for the occasion, like:
      “Well-behaved squash rarely make history.”
     “The earth laughs in squash.”
     “Hope is a thing with squash.”

Q. I can't wait to read more of your work Pat! Thanks so much for stopping by!
Thank you so much for having me!

Pat has kindly agreed to send one free, signed and dedicated copy of SOPHIE'S SQUASH to one of my lucky commenters! Must live in the continental US to win. Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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20. Friday Linky List - April 4, 2014

This weekend I'll be speaking at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Blue Ridge, Georgia about "What to Do When the Story Finds You." I can't wait! (Last minute walk-ins are welcome to this one.)

Laurel Snyder wrote a lovely response to a letter she received about her book PENNY DREADFUL: Twent Has Two Mommies.

At BookRiot - A Censored History of Ladies in YA Fiction. What do you think?

My 2014 SCBWI Southern Breeze Illustrators' Day and Springmingle Wrap-Up!

At 100 Scope Notes, a wonderful collection: 2014 Book Spine Poem Gallery

I shared these in my Springmingle wrap-up, but they're worth a re-look:

Corey Godbey
MFA in Writing and Illustrating Children's Books - Hollins University
The Cockeyed Caravan
Wes Anderson palettes
Brad Hill - Key Techniques
Brad Bird on How to Compose Shots (For Storyboard & Layout Artists)
Adorable list of "45 Simple Safety Rules For Living Life & Not Dying" by Noah

I always forget the name of this one, so am listing it here. GIMP is a free program many people use in place of Photoshop. So if you can't afford the big dog, this might do ya!

Are We Rushing Kids Out of Picture Books? by Elizabeth Bluemle at PW

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I am so thrilled to be on Katie Davis' brilliant podcast all about Kids Lit, Brain Burps About Books. She interviewed me about my novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET and she asked some great questions, which I humbly think you really might enjoy hearing the answers to. CLICK HERE to go listen!
     And by the way - to give credit where it's due... I completely butchered my talented designer's name. Bad me!!! She is Leslie Iorillo and she came up with that iconic and symbolic image which graces the cover of the book. Also, my publisher is LITTLE PICKLE PRESS - love them! They are a Certified B Corp, which means they operate in an environmentally friendly manner - which is so appropriate for my book. ABOWS is printed on recycled paper with soy ink - as it should be. My publisher is Rana DiOrio. My editor who I gushed about is Tanya Egan Gibson. And my publicist is Heather Lennon. Audrey Lintner actually came up with that amazing tagline, "When the birds return to water street, will anybody be left to hear them sing"? Truly, my barrel of pickles has been amazing and I can't recommend them enough!!!
    A BIRD ON WATER STREET is available now in e-book formats and will be officially released in print on May 7th - although early copies are sneaking out to some of my speaking engagements now. Here's a list of my upcoming events:
April 4-5, 2014 Blue Ridge, Georgia: Blue Ridge Writers Conference
April 9-11, 2014 Hattiesburg, Mississippi: Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival
April 24, 2014 Huntsville, Alabama: Alabama Library Association Annual Convention
May 8, 2014, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Georgia, 7:00pm: Launch Party—everybody is welcome!
May 10, 2014, Blue Ridge, Georgia - the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association, open to the public!
May 17, 2014, The CITY of Copperhill, Tennessee (where the story takes place) is going to throw a city-wide shindig for ABOWS - open to the public!
August 29-31, 2014 Decatur, Georgia: The Decatur Book Festival
October 17-18, 2014 Auburn, Alabama: The Auburn Writer's Conference
     Oh! And I can't believe I didn't mention that ABOWS has already won an award as a Southern Independent Booksellers Association Spring OKRA PICK!!! GADS, how did I forget to mention THAT?
     Also, CONGRATULATIONS Katie on her new YA, DANCING WITH THE DEVIL! Thanks again for having me on chickie!

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22. Sarah C. Campbell's MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS - Guest Post

I have been a fan of Sarah C. Campbell's scientific picture books for years now. From WOLF SNAILS to GROWING PATTERNS: FIBONACCI NUMBERS IN NATURE (which I use in my classrooms to teach design). I'm thrilled to help Sarah celebrate her latest - MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS: FINDING FRACTALS IN NATURE. She stopped by to tell us more about it...

      My greatest stroke of luck in creating MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS: FINDING FRACTALS IN NATURE was securing the help of a mathematician who was a colleague of the discoverer of fractals, Benoit Mandelbrot.
      Michael Frame, who teaches math at Yale University, checked my writing and photographs for accuracy and wrote an afterword that included stories and photographs of Mandelbrot as a child and discussed ways we use fractals today.
      How without Michael would I have learned that when Mandelbrot died of cancer in 2010, he believed one piece of his unfinished business was a book for children?
      I found Frame through an online course on fractals he taught in person at Yale.
      During our recent correspondence, Frame mentioned his desire to share MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS with Mandelbrot’s widow, Aliette.
      “She knew a project for this audience was on Benoit’s mind, but he died before we could get to it. That the project was done, and done so well, would have delighted Benoit, and will delight Aliette,” Frame wrote.
      Having an expert review a manuscript for accuracy is a critical step in the process of publishing nonfiction. Based on my experience with three nonfiction titles, all published with Boyds Mills Press, here are a few tips for finding an expert and working effectively with him or her.

      Expert review is a step that happens very late in the publishing process – after the text, images and design are complete. This is because all the elements contribute to understanding – or misunderstanding. As a writer of nonfiction, however, I begin interacting with experts long before the final draft. In the case of my first book, WOLFSNAIL: A BACKYARD PREDATOR, I first interviewed Dr. Melissa Harrington, a neuroscientist who studies wolfsnails in her lab, and consulted numerous print sources. When it was time to have the final manuscript reviewed, however, my editor and I agreed I should find a snail scientist. At Harrington’s suggestion, we asked Dr. Timothy Pearce, a malacologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Know the financial terms.
      With my first two books, Boyds Mills Press asked expert reviewers to review manuscripts without compensation. In my experience, many people are very generous with their time – especially for a children’s book. The hardest part of asking for people’s time without paying them is dealing with the vagaries of publishing deadlines. By now, I more or less know what I’ve signed up for – shifting deadlines, seemingly impossible turnaround times, etc. But it’s hard to pass that kind of uncertainty along to someone who is doing you a favor. With MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS, we had a small stipend to offer. Also, even though I suggested Michael Frame as our expert reviewer, it was up to my editor, Sarah Zhang, to do the formal asking and handle the correspondence. Sarah also edited Michael’s Afterword.
Sarah's workspace:

Don’t be afraid to ask.
      It’s easy to be intimidated by the term “expert review.” It sounds a little like a test that you’ll either pass or fail. In reality, I’ve had good back-and-forth discussions with experts. Knowing an expert will come into the process down the line does not excuse you from doing your homework. For example, I was having a hard time explaining how clouds are fractals. I had a small debate with myself about whether I should admit to Frame that I didn’t fully understand how clouds were fractals. When I wrote to him, I explained why I was confused, using two examples from difference sources. In his reply, he acknowledged that clouds could be difficult, and that Mandelbrot’s mathematical proof (with Shaun Lovejoy) was too complicated for most college freshmen in Frame’s classes. He suggested a possible approach. In the end, I had to cut clouds as an example because I couldn’t get the explanation and an accompanying photographic example just right. If anything, my willingness to share my unease with the cloud aspect of fractals probably helped Michael see me as serious about getting it right. When the final draft was finally ready, he found one thing I had gotten wrong. And, I was grateful he did.

Be open to new ideas.
      I’ve already said that Michael wrote an Afterword. What I didn’t say was that it was his idea. By the time Michael came into the process in April 2013, Sarah Zhang and I were already worrying about how we were going to fit everything into the 32-page book. When Michael offered to write a section – either a foreword or an afterword – I was worried we didn’t have the space. I understood, however, that as a colleague of Mandelbrot, he could write about him in a way I could not, and he was offering to get childhood photographs from Aliette Mandelbrot. I agreed that his contribution could make it a better book. And it certainly did. Each of the book’s reviews thus far, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, has mentioned the Afterword.
     Last autumn, after the book had gone to the print house, Richard and I were in Boston visiting family and friends so we took the train to New Haven to meet Michael in person. In this photograph that Richard took, you can see that Michael has a patch covering his left eye. Through all this time we’ve been working together, Michael has been living with an inoperable tumor. I remain in awe of his generosity in sharing his energies with me, and with all the readers of MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS.

Sarah has kindly agreed to give away one free copy of MYSTERIOUS PATTERNS to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win - enter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  

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23. Sunday Smile - Baby Rhinos!

I've met baby rhinos in person. (Here I am with Stan on our honeymoon in Africa petting Omni, a baby rhino they'd saved from poachers. They asked him to lay down for the picture after Stan got goosed by that horn - almost not funny.) Anyhow, I had no idea baby rhinos made such adorable noises! This will get you grinning! (Be sure to listen all the way to the end.)

CLICK HERE or the image below if the embedded video gives you problems.

Thanks to The Kid Should See This for the heads up!

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24. The Blue Ridge Writers Conference

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Blue Ridge Writers Conference in Blue Ridge, Georgia about "What to Do When the Story Finds You." What a lovely conference with top notch speakers!
     It's held in the restored courthouse, now home to the Blue Ridge Mountain Arts Association. Of the several speakers I had two faves...

     Claire Cook, author of MUST LOVE DOGS (made into the movie with Diane Lane and John Cusak) was the keynote speaker and awesomely nice lady to boot! We ended up munching lunch together in the kitchen and she couldn't have been any more down to earth and easy to talk to.

     Jennifer Jabaley, author of LIPSTICK APOLOGY and CRUSH CONTROL gave two talks - one about finding ideas and the second about building tension. I learned SO MUCH from her I can't even tell you! And my agent will be happy to hear Jenn helped me flesh out my next novel. Shhhhh!
     Michelle Moran gave a one-day workshop called "Overcome Your Blocks to Find Your Unique Voice." Along with being a great writer, Michelle owns Harvest on Main, the BEST restaurant in Blue Ridge, Georgia. I recommend the scallops.
     I gave my first formal talk on A BIRD ON WATER STREET, and while its always a bit nerve wracking that first time, as I figure out how long the slideshow will take and how long my stories will take to tell, the response was fantastic and there were several locals in the crowd who knew the history of Copperhill all too well. Happily, I answered all their questions accurately and passionately and they all bought the book. In fact, the store sold out again! That's the second time - wow!!!
     Thanks to Carol Crawford, Kay Kendall, and all the BRMAA staff and volunteers who made it such a great event. If you ever need a creative mountain getaway, I must recommend the Blue Ridge Writers Conference!!!

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25. Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival!

I'm off to the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival in Hattiesburg, Mississippi this week! On Wednesday I'll talk about "Saving the Environment One Book at a Time" (of course tied in with the story of A BIRD ON WATER STREET). I've never done this festival before, but I've heard wonderful things about it. And I can visit my artwork, which is archived at the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. Thursday evening, I ve been invited to attend the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Awards Celebration. That should be fun! So if you are attending - I hope you'll come see me on Wednesday at 11:30 and then party with me on Thursday! Tally-ho!

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