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1. Free First Five Pages Workshop with Agent Shelby Sampsel Opens in One Week!

Our February workshop will open for entries at noon EST on Saturday, February 7, 2015. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have the very talented Chelsea Pitcher, author of THE LAST CHANGELING.  If that wasn’t enough, in the final week agent Shelby Sampsel will not only review the first five pages, but a query letter too!


Chelsea Pitcher is a native of Portland, OR where she received her BA in English Literature. Fascinated by all things literary, she began gobbling up stories as soon as she could read, and especially enjoys delving into the darker places to see if she can draw out some light.
Chelsea’s paranormal fantasy, THE LAST CHANGELING, is available now!

 A Kingdom at War . . .

Elora, the young princess of the Dark Faeries, plans to overthrow her tyrannical mother, the Dark Queen, and bring equality to faeriekind. All she has to do is convince her mother’s loathed enemy, the Bright Queen, to join her cause. But the Bright Queen demands an offering first: a human boy who is a “young leader of men.” 

A Dark Princess In Disguise . . .

To steal a mortal, Elora must become a mortal—at least, by all appearances. And infiltrating a high school is surprisingly easy. When Elora meets Taylor, the seventeen-year-old who’s plotting to overthrow a ruthless bully, she thinks she’s found her offering . . . until she starts to fall in love.

We are thrilled to announce that Shelby Sampsel of the Vicky Bijur Literary Agency will be our guest agent for February – and Shelby has agreed to review a query letter, too! See below for Shelby’s bio!

Shelby Sampsel joined the Vicky Bijur Literary Agency after graduating from NYU. She comes to the agency with previous internship experience at Thomas Dunne Books, Simon and Schuster, Tor Books, Penguin Group, the Maria Carvainis Agency, and McIntosh and Otis. She is interested in Young Adult and New Adult Fiction as well as memoirs with a strong voice.

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2. Michael Jensen and David Powers King, authors of WOVEN, on writing collaboratively

What was your inspiration for writing WOVEN?

WOVEN was inspired by a dream. Michael dreamed he was crushed by a tree and became a ghost. He could fly around and pass though objects. Nobody could see or hear him. Being a ghost was such a fascinating experience, he wanted to write a story where our readers could experience the same thing. It was after he met David that this dream soon became a reality.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

We could write a book about all the things we learned from writing WOVEN. One thing we both learned about writing is that each character must not speak, move or act without having a clear motivation for doing so. If their motivation is unclear, then they cease to be real people.

What do you hope readers will take away from WOVEN?

It’s clear by the end of that book what we hope our readers will take away from WOVEN, how important it is that love and being yourself is key to becoming whole and “woven.” If our readers walk away from WOVEN with a higher sense of self-worth and purpose, then our job is done.

How long or hard was your road to publication?

Our road to publication was unusual to say the least. After the rights for WOVEN were returned to us, the controversy with our previous publisher ignited a media frenzy that landed us offers of representation with six major literary agencies. All of the Big Five publishing houses requested and read the manuscript. After carefully weighing our options, we selected Meredith Bernstein to represent WOVEN in an action with major publishers. Scholastic made the best offer and they have been an absolute pleasure to work with.

What's your collaborative writing ritual like?

The “Lead Writing” approach has worked exceptionally well for us. That’s when one writer handles the initial draft while the other focusing on editing and adding elements. We always plan our chapters ahead of time. This has helped us streamline the presentation into one that is unique. You could say this would be a very different book if it was written by either of us on our own.

What are you working on now?

We intended WOVEN to be a great book by itself with the potential for more. We are now working on our own projects, another collaborative project, and drafting a companion novel for WOVEN with a different main character. It’s clear by the end of WOVEN who the character is.


by Michael Jensen and David Powers King
Scholastic Press
Released 1/27/2015

Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.

Purchase Woven at Amazon
Purchase Woven at IndieBound
View Woven on Goodreads


Michael Jensen is a graduate of Brigham Young University’s prestigious music, dance, and theater program. Michael taught voice at BYU before establishing his own vocal instruction studio. In addition to being an imaginative storyteller, Michael is an accomplished composer and vocalist. He lives in Salt Lake City with his husband and their four dogs.

Photo credit: Michael Schoenfeld

David Powers King was born in beautiful downtown Burbank, California where his love for film inspired him to become a writer. An avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, David also has a soft spot for zombies and the paranormal. He now lives in the mountain West with his wife and three children.

Photo credit: Katie Pyne Rasmussen

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3. Gayle Forman I WAS HERE Event Recap, Interview + Giveaway! #IWasHere


When I was introduced to Gayle Forman, I stuck out my hand for a handshake but she gave me a high five instead. In retrospect, that feels like a good way to sum up the entire Nashville leg of her I Was Here Tour, with special guests Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray, Out of the EasyCourtney C. Stevens (Faking Normal), and David Arnold (Mosquitoland).

Gayle Forman is the international bestselling author of If I Stay, Where She Went, Just One Day, and Just One YearFor her latest novel, I Was Here (read my review here), a story about friendship and loss and healing, Gayle decided to turn her book tour into a Friendship Tour, inviting other authors to join her at each tour stop and use the events to discuss community and the importance of relationships (along with books, of course.) 


The Nashville leg of the tour already promised to be excellent. Courtney, David, and Ruta are all close friends with excellent books (Mosquitoland has not yet hit shelves, but when it does, trust me, it's a keeper), and the Nashville writing community excels at showing up and celebrating book events. So when this tour stop was announced, everyone circling the date on their calendars already knew it would be something special.

But I'm not sure anyone fully anticipated the giant crowd that showed up, packing Parnassus Books from wall to wall. I'm not sure anyone expected the unintentional hilarity of a dramatic live reading of a passage from I Was Here, starring Gayle as the narrator, David as Cody, Ruta as Ben, and Courtney as Stoner Richard. I'm not sure anyone was prepared for the amount of admiration and support and wisdom that came from hearing the four authors speak about community and and inspiration striving for greatness.


The whole night was a handshake that turned into a high five. 

After watching and laughing as Gayle, Ruta, David, and Courtney reenacted a scene from I Was Here, the panel settled in to talk about why they were here, writing books for teens. Gayle believes friendship is a major theme in I Was Here, and also a big benefit of being part of the YA community. Everyone agreed, with David adding that he comes from the music industry, which he described as a "zero sum game," and that the YA community was refreshing as it is more about building each other up.

The panel talked a bit about jealousy of other writers and their work. Gayle doesn't believe it's necessarily a bad thing, saying "Jealousy is the emotion that tells me that someone did something truly wonderful." Courtney wasn't sure that jealousy was the right term, but did agree that her natural competitive nature thrives when she is surrounded by people she considers her betters, because it forces her to raise her game. 



They also discussed their writing processes, which vary from Ruta claiming she is a "bender writer" to Gayle sneaking in work on I Was Here while writing two other books, to Courtney isolating herself to finish a book and David writing in stolen moments at home while being a full time stay-at-home dad to his infant son.

An audience member asked for their best advice for aspiring writers, and the panel gave solid, pracitcal advice. Gayle urged writers to practice, practice, practice. "If you wanted to be a professional ice dancer, you wouldn't just walk onto the ice and assume you could do it. Writing is no different." She also encouraged writers to read widely, which the panel vehemently agreed with.

Ruta's advice was to find people you trust, let them read your work, and learn to take critique. Courtney told us to not be afraid to write it wrong (she admitted she had thrown away 2,000 pages of her upcoming novel, The Lies About Truth) and not to submit to agents or editors until it's the best book you can possibly make it. And David agreed, adding that while you have to take the time to make it right, you must find a sense of urgency in your writing.

Afterward, they discussed favorite childhood books, which ran the gamut from Beverly Cleary to the Chronicles of Narnia to Jackie Collins to Jurassic Park and Catcher in the Rye. Ruta Sepetys wound up passionately summarizing the plot of Ethan Frome, which I'm pretty sure no one saw coming. Then it was time for the signing, where all four authors interacted with excited fans, giving photos and hugs and encouragement for well over an hour. 

It was an amazing night, an uplifting night, and I was so grateful to be there, and to be part of the Nashville writing community. 

Before the event, I was given the opportunity to interview Gayle, and I hope you enjoy her answers as much as I did. There are some very minor spoilers in some of her answers, but nothing that will diminish the experience of reading I Was Here. (You can find my review for the book, which I loved, here.)

LT:  You’ve written that your inspiration for Meg was a real girl named Suzy Gonzales. Did you feel an obligation to Suzy while you were writing I WAS HERE? How did Suzy’s true story influence Meg’s fictional one?

GF:  You know, her true story was the thing that got me thinking about Meg, and Meg was what led me to Cody. It’s Cody’s story, so it really is about the fictional character. In terms of the responsibility I felt, it was a weird thing, because you’re using a character who’s based on a real live person and who’s not around anymore so there’s a huge amount of sympathy for this character. I don’t want people to be like, what a coward, or what a hero.  I want to see her as human. And when it was done and when I went to Suzy’s parents and I said, “I wrote this book, it’s up to you. I can completely disguise it so only a handful of people would ever recognize her and never mention her in connection, but what I would prefer to do is to dedicate the book to her and to talk about the link in the Author’s Note and talk about the work that you’ve done.” It was a little terrifying when they read the book, but they were really happy with it.

LT:  In I WAS HERE, Meg has a lot of people who love her, but they all miss the signs that she needed help. What would you say to the kids out there who feel like Meg?

GF:  The sad thing about Meg is that not everybody did miss the signs. Her parents knew what was going on and they thought that they were helping her and Tree certainly knew what was going on. And Cody just didn’t want to see what was going on right in front of her face, for a variety of reasons. She was too invested in Meg being the Meg that she knew. But what I want the takeaway to be is, if you are feeling these things that Meg is feeling, there is no difference between a mental disorder and a physical disorder. They both have a biochemical cause. There is tons of research about mental illness and the various brain chemistry, the causes of it. They also both create a physical manifestation. A lot of depression symptoms are physical. So this idea that if you came down with one, that of course you go to the doctor and you get treated, but the other one, you don’t and you hide it from people and you’re ashamed of it, that’s the thing. It’s like, you have this thing going on with you because there’s something going wrong with your body through no fault of yours. It’s not a weakness, it’s not a craziness. So anybody in that situation, that is a thing that I want them to see, is like, it’s no different than if you got pneumonia. You would seek help for it and you would take the proper medication that professionals told you to take. And if the first drug didn’t work, you would take another one until something helped. So that’s what I hope people who are suffering take from this.

LT:  One of the things I loved about I WAS HERE was the attention to detail, from the Seattle music scene to Meg’s quirky assortment of housemates to the Final Solution boards. What sort of research did you do to write the book, and what touches do you think are most important in a story to make the world feel authentic?

GF:  I know the Pacific Northwest pretty well. I’ve never set a book in the eastern part of it, but I knew it well enough, and I haven’t spent as much time in Eastern Oregon and Washington, but the time I had spent really kind of imprinted on me because it’s so physically beautiful, but there’s something about a lot of those towns that feel like a dead end. So that just kind of are the small details that I remember and that come out. In terms of the research, I guess it was more creating the [Final Solutions suicide] boards, and creating the world of Cody, too. A lot happened in revision with her interactions with people, like whether it was the guy, Troy, who asks her out and what that means for her, or just her interactions in this kind of confined small town with the girl who’s the daughter of one of the women she cleans for. All of that, it’s very easy once you start thinking about it to really imagine the people. So I think it’s really that kind of thing rather than a physical detail that helps to give you a sense of where she is and why she wants to get out.

LT:  Lots of YA novels tend to shy away from giving parents much time on the page, but family tends to play a significant role in your novels. I WAS HERE is no exception, with the Garcias and then Cody’s mother Tricia. Is it important to you to always include parents and family in your stories, and what role do you feel parents should play in YA storytelling?

GF:  I think that’s up to every writer. Perhaps because I was a parent when I first started writing YA, I’m too narcissistic to take myself out of the story. And also, I think that parents are hugely important in teenagers’ lives. You might hate them or you might have a very conflicted relationship with them, but they’re major forces in your life. So to leave them out, I don’t ever do that. I think that they’re a huge part of the story. And yes, you have to find ways to allow your characters to do things on their own. In JUST ONE DAY, she had a very hovering parent, so it was about putting her in a context where she was away from her parents so she could further pull away, but I just can’t imagine writing books without parents.

LT:  Even though we never meet Meg in I WAS HERE, her friendship with Cody was one of the central relationships of the book. How did you approach writing a relationship that exists entirely in Cody’s memory, and how important do you think the themes of friendship and forgiveness are to I WAS HERE?

GF:  I think those are the themes. When I first wrote a draft of I WAS HERE, I almost thought it was a flaw how everything Cody thought about was Meg. I was like, get a life! But then I kind of realized, that was one of her issues was that, like a lot of really close relationships, they were very codependent. And that kind of gets a bad rap, I think, like, marriages are codependent. It just means you’re very intertwined. And she had seen Meg through such rose-colored glasses, because Meg was spectacular and special, that [Cody had] kind of assumed that anything that was special from her was just by reflected glory, especially when Meg went away and Cody kind of was left with just the flatness of her life. So I realized then that there was a reason I kept referring to this, because the friendship was the most important relationship in her life, and I’m starting to tell people that there is a love story in this book, and it is not Cody and Ben. I mean, they are definitely a love story. But the central love story is kind of under it all – and it makes sense, because for me, the great heartbreaks of my life all involve my female friends who broke my heart.

LT:  There’s an expression, “Your perception creates your reality.” How did Cody’s perception of Meg create her reality?

GF:  That’s sort of like my fake it ‘til you make it. Well you know, [Cody] idealized [Meg] in part because Meg was a really good friend to her and somebody who made her feel good about herself and also she saw Meg as doing all this great stuff. I don’t think Meg ever tried to pull Cody down, but she created this larger than life Meg, and then, as we do, it’s too painful sometimes to look at a full, nuanced person, because it challenges too many things. And so she couldn’t see Meg for who she was. She also couldn’t see herself for who she was. She sees Meg as perfect and she has sort of written herself off as this lousy piece of stupid white trash, and she’s anything but.

LT:  How did being inside a story about loss, trauma, and healing manifest (if at all) in your life while writing the story?

GF:  It’s funny because I wrote – I call this book my ‘affair book,’ because I worked on it while I was writing JUST ONE DAY and JUST ONE YEAR. And so it was actually an incredibly satisfying character to write in the midst of writing Allyson and Willem, who are so waffling that I wanted to drown them in a bathtub by the time I was done writing those books. So there was something about her and the immediacy of her anger that even though it’s dark, I found that great. The thing that was hard to write were the Bradford scenes. So for the first couple drafts, I just kind of skipped over that with the barest of interactions, and then slowly I deepened those and deepened those, because he had to have something about him that actually felt real and reasonable. If he was just a kook, you could write him off, but there’s something twisted about him that makes sense. That’s the trick. He’s my first villain!

LT:  What do you believe makes a great story? How did you employ this when you were writing I WAS HERE?

GF:  I don’t know what makes a great story. I just know when I’m writing it, if my fingers are [typing rapidly] or if I’m super – even if it’s not coming out that fast, but if I’m thinking about it and I’m kind of feeling as immersed in a story as I am when I’m reading it, then I’m onto something.

LT:  Will you share a little about your writing process? How much time you invest in revisions, and what the biggest distractions are for you?

GF:  My writing process is sort of different now, because since the [If I Stay] movie, there’s been so many different things going on, but generally when I’m drafting, I do try to – I get my kids off to school, and if I have nothing else going on that day, not going swimming that morning because I’m trying to get in shape or volunteering at my kids’ school – I’ll go straight to work. And then I’ll try to work straight through until 3 or 5. And I tinker as I go, so I always kind of back up and go over things. So by the time I have a complete draft, it’s definitely not raw. And then I revise and revise and revise before I ever show it to somebody. And then I think a lot of the best work always happens in revision, because even if something comes out relatively intact, that just means you can do deeper work and go more nuanced in revision. I mean, it varies. Certain books, IF I STAY and I WAS HERE both, the first drafts came very quickly, though I wrote I WAS HERE in two sections, so I would say like two months while I was working on JUST ONE DAY, two months while I was working on JUST ONE YEAR, and then I’d spend a lot, maybe on and off for a year revising it.

LT:  What are you currently working on?

GF:  I am currently working on three different things, because the affair thing from I WAS HERE, I think it taught me something, that working on different things at the same time can revitalize your energy from one toward the other. So you can get really sucked into one and just charge through it until you’re at the bottom of the barrel, and then you pivot around and you start on something else and you realize that while you were working on the other thing, that barrel has refilled. The spring has fed itself. So I’m working on a middle grade now, and I’m working on an adult, and I’m working on a historical.

LT:  Is there anything that you know now from writing I WAS HERE, or JUST ONE DAY or JUST ONE YEAR, that you would have liked to have known back when you were writing IF I STAY?

GF:  I think one thing that’s interesting is less about the writing and more about the publishing side of it, which is that different books are going to resonate with different fans. So it’s always really nice when a fan comes up to me and says, “JUST ONE DAY is my favorite.” IF I STAY is so overwhelmingly the most popular book in terms of what was sold, but I love when people say, “I didn’t think I wanted to read WHERE SHE WENT, and it’s my favorite.” So you understand that if you’re going to have a long career, there’s going to be different books, and I don’t want to write the same book. So different books are going to touch people differently, and that’s great. They’re not all going to do the same thing. There’s going to be peaks and valleys. But one book is always going to be someone’s favorite book.

LT:  Is there anything I didn’t ask that I should have?

GF:  You can say, “Why are you so fixated on writing about death?” And I can give you my answer, which is, “I’m actually not.” I think it’s pretty common for authors to use – Picasso has a quote that I’m going to mangle, but I love it, and it’s from every act of destruction comes an act of creation. [“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction."] And it’s the same when you’re writing a story. For there to be a big transformation, something huge has to happen. And so a lot of time – not always, but it’s an act of destruction. And for me, writing about characters who don’t think that they can handle something and then finding the strength that they can handle it and rising to the occasion is so incredibly hopeful, as a writer and as a reader. So I’m always – people say things like that, and I know you didn’t, but preempting it – I think, I’m not writing about death; I’m writing about life.

Cody and Meg were inseparable...

Until they weren’t.
When her best friend, Meg, drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her. About her old roommates, the sort of people Cody never would have met in her dead-end small town in Washington. About Ben McAllister, the boy with a guitar and a sneer, and some secrets of his own. And about an encrypted computer file that Cody can’t open—until she does, and suddenly everything Cody thought she knew about her best friend’s death gets thrown into question.
"I Was Here is a pitch-perfect blend of mystery, tragedy, and romance. Gayle Forman has given us an unflinchingly honest portrait of the bravery that it takes to live after devastating loss."
Stephen Chbosky, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Perks of Being a Wallflower




Create your own I Was Here moment! Head over to http://iwasherebook.com/ to check it out and share with the world. 



Giveaway Details

Gayle's publisher, Viking Penguin, is hosting a giveaway! Fill out the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a hardcover edition of I Was Here

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends. 

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4. George RR Martin’s New Book is Not Coming This Year

George Martin‘s latest volume in the Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter, will not be published this year.

HarperCollins revealed the news this week. However, they do have plans for an illustrated edition of three previously anthologized novellas coming out in 2015.

The Guardian has more:

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms takes place nearly a century before the bloody events of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, when the Iron Throne was still held by the Targaryens. Out in October, it is a compilation of the first three official prequel novellas to the series, The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight, never before collected, and now set for release in a new illustrated edition.

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5. Upcoming Book Events for February and March 2015 Domestic & International

United States Upcoming Book Events for February and March 2015

American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting
Where: Chicago, IL
When: Jan. 30th – Feb. 3rd 2015
Web site: http://exhibitors.ala.org/

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
Where: NY, NY
When: Feb. 6-8, 2015
Web site: http://www.scbwi.org/2015-annual-winter-conference-in-new-york/

San Francisco Writers Conference
Where: San Francisco
When: February 12-15, 2015
Web site: https://sfwriters.org/

West Coast Writers Conference – The Big Story
Where: Van Nuys, Calif.
When: February 20-22, 2015
Web site: www.wcwriters.com/genrela/index.html

SleuthFest 2015
Where: Orlando, Fla.
When: Feb. 26–Mar. 1, 2015
Web site: http://sleuthfest.com/

International Upcoming Book Events for February and March 2015

Cairo International Book Fair, 
Where: Cairo, Egypt
When: January - February 2015
Web site: http://www.cairobookfair.org/

Kolkata Book Fair
Where: Kolkata, India
When: January 28 –February 8, 2015
Web site: http://www.kolkatabookfair.net/information15.php

Jerusalem International Book Fair,
Where: Jerusalem, Israel
When: February 8-12, 2015
Web site: http://www.jerusalembookfair.com/

Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE),
Where: Taipei, Taiwan
When: February 11-16, 2015
Web site: http://www.tibe.org.tw/enhtml

San Miguel Writers Conference
Where: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
When: Feb. 11–15, 2015
Web site: sanmiguelwritersconference2014.org

New Delhi World Book Fair
Where: New Delhi, India
When: Feb. 14–22, 2015
Web site: www.newdelhiworldbookfair.gov.in/

Vilnius Book Fair
Where: Vilnius, Lithuania
When: Feb. 19–22
Web site: http://www.eventseye.com/fairs/f-vilnius-book-fair-4062-1.html

Brussels Book Fair
Where: Brussels, Belgium
When: Feb. 26- MARCH 2, 2015
Web site: flb.be/

Dublin Book Festival
Where: Dublin, Ireland
When: Mar. 4-6, 2015
Web site: http://joobili.com/dublin_book_festival_dublin_12850/

Leipzig Book Fair
Where: Leipzig, Germany
When: Mar. 12–15, 2015
Web site: www.leipziger-buchmesse.de/

Paris Book Fair (Salon du Livre)
Where: Paris, France
When: Mar. 20–23, 2015
Web site: www.salondulivreparis.com/

Bologna Children’s Book Fair
Where: Bologna, Italy
When: Mar. 30–April 2, 2015
Web site: www.bookfair.bolognafiere.it/home/878.html

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6. College Arts Association 2015 Annual Meeting Conference Guide

The Oxford University Press staff is happy that the College Arts Association 2015 Annual Conference (11-14 February 2015) will be held in our backyard: New York City! So we gathered together to discuss what we’re interested in seeing at this year’s conference, as well as some suggestions for those visiting our city.

Alodie Larson, Editorial:
I look forward to CAA. I love having the opportunity to meet authors, see old friends, and get together with the outstanding group of scholars who make up the Editorial Board for Grove Art. The years that New York hosts CAA are low-key for me, as I don’t need to travel. 

I recommend heading to MoMA to hold meetings over coffee and snacks in their cafes. If you need a break from the din of the conference and/or architectural inspiration, slip over to Cram and Goodhue’s beautiful St. Thomas Church 5th Avenue for a moment of quiet reflection.

Joy Mizan, Marketing:
This will be my first time attending CAA with OUP. I’m excited to help set up our booth and display our latest books and online products in Art, but I’m really excited to meet our authors, board members, and academics to learn more about their interest in Art. (It’s always great to meet in person after only interacting over email or the phone.)

Need a place to eat? There’s a great food cart called Platters right outside the hotel, so I definitely suggest attendees try it out while in NYC. It opens at 7:00 p.m. though!

Sarah Pirovitz, Editorial:
I’m thrilled to be attending CAA this year as an acquiring editor for monographs and trade titles. I look forward to hearing about interesting new projects and connecting with scholars and friends in the field.

Mohamed Sesay, Marketing:
I’m delighted to attend my first CAA conference with Oxford University Press. This conference will be a great opportunity to meet authors in person, and to get to know some of our Art consumers.

If you’re looking for a great place to eat in New York City I suggest Landmarc in Columbus Circle. The restaurant has great food and it’s right next to Central Park.

Here are just a few of the sessions that caught our eyes:

  • The Trends in Art Book Publishing, on 10 February at 6:00 p.m. in the New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium (Yes, we work in publishing!)
  • Original Copies: Art and the Practice of Copying, on 11 February at 9:30 a.m. in the Hilton New York, 2nd Floor, Sutton Parlor South
  • Building a Multiracial American Past (Association for Critical Race Art History), on 11 February at 12:30 p.m. in the Hilton New York, 2nd Floor, Sutton Parlor Center
  • Making Sense of Digital Images Workshop, on 11 February at 2:30 p.m.
  • CAA Convocation and Awards Presentation, including Dave Hickey’s Keynote Address, on 11 February at 5:30 p.m. in the Hilton New York, 3rd Floor, East Ballroom
  • Chelsea Gallery District Walking Tour, on 12 February at 12:00 p.m.
  • Presenting a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for the Visual Arts (CAA Committee on Intellectual Property), on 13 February at 12:30 p.m.
  • New York 1880: Art, Architecture, and the Establishment of a Cultural Capital on 13 February at 2:30 p.m. in the Hilton New York, 2nd Floor, Beekman Parlor
  • Art Lovers and Literaturewallahs: Communities of Image and Text in South and Southeast Asia (American Council for Southern Asian Art), on 14 February at 9:30 am in the Hilton New York, 3rd Floor, Rendezvous Trianon
  • The Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, 2nd Edition (Oxford University Press – that’s us!) on 14 February at 12:30 p.m. in the Hilton New York, 2nd Floor, Sutton Parlor Center

Of course, we hope to see you at Oxford University Press booth 1215. We’ll be offering the chance to:

  • Check out which books we’re featuring.
  • Browse and buy our new and bestselling titles on display at a 20% conference discount.
  • Get free trial access to our suite of online products.
  • Pick up sample copies of our latest art journals.
  • Enter our raffle for free OUP books.
  • Meet all of us!

And don’t forget to learn more about the conference on the official website, or follow along on social media with the #CAA2015 hashtag.

Featured Image: Reflection / Kolonihavehus by Tom Fruin and CoreAct @ DUMBO Arts Festival, Brooklyn Bridge Park, NYC by Axel Taferner. CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

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7. Angry Birds Maker to Publish YA Novels

Finnish app maker Rovio, the company behind Angry Birds, is getting into book publishing with a series of YA novels.

The company has signed author Mintie Das and will publish her novel The Sinking World later on this year. The novel is part of a series of YA books set to come out called Storm Sisters. The book follows  action-filled adventures on the high seas disguised as ‘girl pirates’ in the late 18th century. A second novel titled The Frozen Seas is set to follow. Here is more from the publisher’s site:

After the tragic events of what has become known as the Day of Destruction – a day when they were intended to die along with their families – Charlie, Sadie, Liu, Raquel and Ingela sail the high seas all alone. In the 1780s, in a world filled with pirates, hurricanes and disbelievers, that’s not an easy task. What’s more important: Survival or truth?

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8. Should Writers Be More Open About Their Income?

Writing books may be one’s most important work in life, but it is not always the easiest way to pay the bills.

Even successful writers often have to come up with other ways to support themselves. In a piece for Salon, author and essayist Ann Bauer argues that writers should be more up front about this fact. She reveals that she is able to have a career writing because of her husband’s “sponsorship.” Here is an excerpt from her piece:

In my opinion, we do an enormous \"let them eat cake\" disservice to our community when we obfuscate the circumstances that help us write, publish and in some way succeed. I can’t claim the wealth of the first author (not even close); nor do I have the connections of the second. I don’t have their fame either. But I do have a huge advantage over the writer who is living paycheck to paycheck, or lonely and isolated, or dealing with a medical condition, or working a full-time job.

Should writers be more open about where their money comes from? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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9. Poetry Friday - A January Dandelion

On this cold January day I am sharing a poem from African-American Poetry of the Nineteenth Century: An Anthology (University of Illinois Press, 1992).

A January Dandelion
by George Marion McClellan

All Nashville is a chill. And everywhere
Like desert sand, when the winds blow,
There is each moment sifted through the air,
A powdered blast of January snow.
O! thoughtless Dandelion, to be misled
By a few warm days to leave thy natural bed,
Was folly growth and blooming over soon.

Read the poem in its entirety.

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Paul at These 4 Corners. Happy poetry Friday friends!

P.S. - Do visit Michelle at Today's Little Ditty to read all the wonderful poems written in this month's challenge, posed by Joyce Sidman. (I have a poem there!)

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10. Essential considerations for leadership in policing (and beyond)

There are problems with defining the term ‘leadership’. Leadership often gets confused with the management function because, generally, managers are expected to exhibit some leadership qualities. In essence, leaders are instruments of change, responsible for laying plans both for the moment and for the medium and long-term futures. Managers are more concerned with executing plans on a daily basis, achieving objectives and producing results.

Top police leaders have a responsibility for deciding, implementing, monitoring, and completing the strategic plans necessary to meet the needs and demands of the public they serve. Their plans are then cascaded down through the police structure to those responsible for implementing them. Local commanders may also create their own plans to meet regional demands. The planner’s job is never finished: there is always a need to adapt and change existing measures to meet fresh circumstances.

Planning is a relatively mechanical process. However, the management of change is notoriously difficult. Some welcome change and the opportunities it brings; others do not because it upsets their equilibrium or places them at some perceived disadvantage. Mechanisms for promoting plans and dealing with concerns need to be put in place. Factual feedback and suggestions for improvement should be welcomed as they can greatly improve end results. When people contribute to plans they are more likely to support them because they have some ownership in them.

Those responsible for implementing top-level and local plans may do so conscientiously but arrangements rarely run smoothly and require the application of initiative and problem solving skills. Sergeants, inspectors, and other team leaders – and even constables acting alone – should be encouraged to help resolve difficulties as they arise. Further, change is ever present and can’t always be driven from the top. It’s important that police leaders and constables at operational and administrative levels should be stimulated to identify and bring about necessary changes – no matter how small – in their own spheres of operation, thus contributing to a vibrant leadership culture.

The application of first-class leadership skills is important: quality is greatly influenced by the styles leaders adopt and the ways in which they nurture individual talent. Leadership may not be the first thing recruits think of when joining the police. Nonetheless, constables are expected to show leadership on a daily basis in a variety of different, often testing situations.

“Leaders are instruments of change, responsible for laying plans both for the moment and for the medium and long-term futures.”

Reflecting on my own career, I was originally exposed to an autocratic, overbearing organisation where rank dominated. However, the force did become much more sophisticated in its outlook as time progressed. As a sergeant, inspector, and chief inspector, my style was a mixture of autocratic and democratic, with a natural leaning towards democratic. Later, in the superintendent rank, I fully embraced the laissez-faire style, making full use of all three approaches. For example, at one time when standards were declining in the workplace I was autocratic in demanding that they should be re-asserted. When desired standards were achieved, I adopted a democratic style to discuss the way forward with my colleagues. When all was going well again, I became laissez-faire, allowing individuals to operate with only a light touch. The option to change style was never lost but the laissez-faire approach produced the best ever results I had enjoyed in the police.

Although I used these three styles, the labels they carry are limiting and do not reveal the whole picture. Real-life approaches are more nuanced and more imaginative than rigidly applying a particular leadership formula. Sometimes more than one style can be used at the same time: it is possible to be autocratic with a person who requires close supervision and laissez-faire with someone who is conscientious and over-performing. Today, leadership style is centred upon diversity, taking into account the unique richness of talent that each individual has to offer.

Individual effort and team work are critical to the fulfillment of police plans. To value and get the best out of officers and support staff, leaders need to do three things. First, they must ensure that there is no place for discrimination of any form in the police service. Discrimination can stunt personal and corporate growth and cause demotivation and even sickness. Second, they should seek to balance the work to be done with each individual’s motivators. Dueling workplace requirements with personal needs is likely to encourage people to willingly give of their best. Motivators vary from person to person although there are many common factors including opportunities for more challenging work and increased responsibility. Finally, leaders must keep individual skills at the highest possible level, including satisfying the needs of people with leadership potential. Formal training is useful but perhaps even more effective is the creation of an on-the-job, incremental coaching programme and mentoring system.

Police leaders need to create plans and persuade those they lead to both adopt them and see them through to a satisfactory conclusion. If plans are to succeed, change must be sensitively managed and leaders at all levels should be encouraged to use their initiative in overcoming implementation problems. Outside of the planning process, those self-same leaders should deal with all manner of problems that beset them on a daily basis so as to create a vibrant leadership culture. Plans are more liable to succeed if officers and support staff feel motivated and maintain the necessary competence to complete tasks.

Headline image: Sir Robert Peel, by Ingy The Wingy. CC-BY-ND-2.0 via Flickr.

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11. Catching up with Sara Levine, Multimedia Producer

Another week, another great staff member to get to know. When you think of the world of publishing, the work of videos, podcasts, photography, and animated GIFs doesn’t immediately come to mind. But here at Oxford University Press we have Sara Levine, who joined the Social Media team as a Multimedia Producer just last year.

When did you start working at OUP?

I started working at OUP this past August, three months after completing my Master’s degree at Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture and Technology Program.

How did you get started in multimedia production?

I’ve been drawing comics and making short videos since I was a kid. My first big hit was in high school. I wrote, directed, filmed, and edited a parody of Wuthering Heights called “Withering Estates.” I played Heathcliff. No, it’s not on YouTube.

What is your typical day like at OUP?

My workdays at OUP vary depending on the projects that I’m currently working on. I’m usually filming, animating, drawing, recording audio, editing footage, or multi-tasking any of the above.

“Sara as Heathcliff.” Drawing by Sara Levine.

What will you be doing once you’ve completed this Q&A?

After I complete this Q&A I’m going to continue making illustrations for an animated short I’m producing for the Oxford Dictionaries YouTube channel.

What gear or software are you obsessed with right now?

I learn something new about Adobe After Effects every time I use it. The unlimited amount of techniques and shortcuts in After Effects seems daunting at first, but I really enjoy exploring everything it can do.

What are you reading right now?

I just started reading Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. I have a bad habit of reading books too quickly (developed over years of tearing through Harry Potter books on their release dates), so I’m trying to pace myself with this one.

“Batwoman.” Drawing by Sara Levine.

What’s your favorite book?

Instead of one favorite book, I’m going to list five of my favorite comics:

  • Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III
  • The Long Journey by Boulet
  • Pancakes by Kat Leyh
  • Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Which book-to-movie adaptation did you actually like?

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed teen movies that are modern adaptations of older works. Films like Clueless, She’s the Man, O, Easy A, and 10 Things I Hate About You are very clever and sometimes overlooked because of their target demographic.

“Sara’s backpack.” Drawing by Sara Levine.

What is in your backpack right now?

A Maruman Mnemosyne sketchbook, a Wacom Intuos 2 tablet, Orlando, a manual for the Canon C100, a pencil case, a red umbrella, a disposable rain poncho, a pear, and a small bag of gluten-free pretzels.

Most obscure talent or hobby?

I’m not sure how obscure this is, but I played the French horn for about eight years. The experience gave me very powerful lungs and some great French horn jokes.

What do you do for fun?

I make more multimedia, of course! You can find my doodles, comics, .gifs, and videos under the handle “morphmaker” on Twitter, Tumblr, Vimeo, and Deviantart. I also run a podcast with my sister. It’s called Sara & Allison Talk TV. We discuss television shows and web series that feature central female characters and include elements of fantasy, action, and science fiction.

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12. Pick of the Week for PASSION and This Week’s Topic


Happy Friday!

We’re excited to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the illustration above by Anna Marie Farmer, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of PASSION. Thanks to everyone else for participating. We hope it was inspiring!

You can also see a gallery of all the other entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:


Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!

Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to keep up with our exciting community updates!


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13. Sarah Cross, author of TEAR YOU APART, on not rejecting yourself

What was your inspiration for writing TEAR YOU APART?

I wanted to do another book set in Beau Rivage (a city where people are cursed to live out fairy tales), and "Snow White" is one of the fairy tales I was most surprised by when I first read the Grimms' version, because it's so disturbing and the "happily ever after" is not romantic at all. I really wanted to play with that story, and write about a girl who was anticipating that twisted fate.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The hardest scenes to write, for me, are the emotionally intense scenes. I tend to rework those the most, going over and over them until I feel like the intensity I want is there. I don't know that there's a scene I'm most proud of; at this point in the process, it's hard for me to break it down like that. I'm really proud of the book as a whole.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

Anyone who likes dark reimaginings of fairy tales should check out Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, Tanith Lee's Red as Blood: Tales from the Sisters Grimmer, and Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Don't give up. Seriously. That is the most important thing. The most devastating rejection is the one you give yourself. It's the only "no" that's final, the only one that can really stop you.


Tear You Apart
by Sarah Cross
Released 1/27/2015

If you want to live happily ever after, first you have to stay alive.

Viv knows there’s no escaping her fairy-tale curse. One day her beautiful stepmother will feed her a poison apple or convince her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Henley, to hunt her down and cut out her heart before she breaks his. In the city of Beau Rivage, some princesses are destined to be prey.

But then Viv receives an invitation to the exclusive club where the Twelve Dancing Princesses twirl away their nights. There she meets Jasper, an underworld prince who seems to have everything—but what he really wants is her. He vows to save her from her dark fate if she’ll join him and be his queen.

All Viv has to do is tear herself away from the huntsman boy who still holds her heart. Then she might live to see if happily ever after is a promise the prince can keep. But is life as an underworld queen worth sacrificing the true love that might kill her?

Purchase Tear You Apart at Amazon
Purchase Tear You Apart at IndieBound
View Tear You Apart on Goodreads


Sarah Cross is the author of the fairy tale novels Kill Me Softly and Tear You Apart (coming January 2015), the superhero novel Dull Boy, and the Wolverine comic "The Adamantium Diaries." She loves fairy tales, lowbrow art, secret identities and silence. Visit her website here

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14. Famous Writer Flowchart: INFOGRAPHIC

Electric LiteratureDo you aspire to become as recognized and powerful as J.K. Rowling? The Electric Lit team has created an infographic to help people try to answer this question: “Am I a Famous Writer Yet?

Those who go through this flowchart will encounter scenarios such as “I have many followers on social media” and “sobbing uncontrollably in a bathroom.” We’ve embedded the full infographic below for you to explore further—what do you think?

famous writer

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15. J.J. Howard, author of TRACERS, on using music to write

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

Cam meets Nikki when she crashes into him—literally—and this complex action scene was a fun challenge to write. I started, as always, with a playlist. I imagined what Cam might listen to in his headphones as he zooms in and out of traffic as a bike messenger.

My favorite scenes to write were the ones that had Cam and Nikki arguing back and forth—I love to write dialogue—and then, of, course, they always make up!

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I would say that all of my characters share a certain dry sense of humor and they’re all outsiders, or feel they are, in one way or another. My writing professor in grad school called an early draft of my first book That Time I Joined the Circus “sort of The Catcher in the Rye with a girl”—and that’s still the best note I’ve ever gotten (or probably will ever get!)

How long did you work on TRACERS?

This book happened very quickly—the entire process from first pages to final copyedits all happened in 2014. The book came out just a few days in to 2015 on January 8.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

I learned that I really enjoy writing action scenes!

What do you hope readers will take away from TRACERS?

Cam is a really different character for me. For one, he’s not a snarky teenage girl with the vocabulary of a much older girl ;) But seriously, he’s really damaged by what’s happened to him in his life, but he hasn’t actually given up hope yet. He acts as though he has, that he doesn’t care, but when you read his interior monologue in the book you find out that in spite of everything he still believes in love—and, more importantly—he still believes in himself.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

My debut novel was published in 2013. I’d been writing for over ten years by that point, so it was a long road. I write really fast, so I have several projects that I hope to see make their ways to bookstore shelves at some point.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

I’ve wanted to write for a long time. My AHA moment: that I could (and should) write a novel, well that happened a long time ago. It was 1996 and I was walking through the social sciences section of Borders bookstore (RIP) where I worked. It really was one of those light-bulb moments. I remember it vividly. And ever since then, I’ve never been bored. Because when you have a novel going, you’re never, ever bored!

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

Music is absolutely essential! I figure out the characters and the feel of the novel through the music. I make a playlist for every project, and refine it as the writing goes along. I work best at home, with my dog Willow snuggled beside me. I get the guilt eye when I pack up my laptop to head to a coffee shop. ;)

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

I wrote a short piece for Writer’s Digest online in which I compared a writing career to a theme park—and I still really stand by all of those observations. You will spend a lot of time in line, it is a lot of fun (with a lot of ups and downs) and, as with most aspects of life, I’d suggest wearing a pair of comfortable shoes.

What are you working on now?

I am writing my first middle grade for Scholastic! I’m excited to branch out into this age level! And there are also a few other works in progress there on the back burner. I can’t wait for summer so that I can write, write, write!


by J.J. Howard
Putnam Juvenile
Released 1/8/2015

An action-packed romance—now a major motion picture starring Taylor Lautner.

Cam is a New York City bike messenger with no family and some dangerous debts. While on his route one day, he runs into a beautiful stranger named Nikki—but she quickly disappears. When he sees her again around town, he realizes that she lives within the intense world of parkour: an underground group of teens who have turned New York City into their own personal playground—running, jumping, seemingly flying through the city like an urban obstacle course.

Cam becomes fascinated with Nikki and falls in with the group, who offer him the chance to make some extra money. But Nikki is dating their brazen leader, and when the stakes become life-or-death, Cam is torn between following his heart and sacrificing everything to pay off his debts.

In the vein of great box-office blockbusters, the high-stakes romance here sizzles within this page-turning thriller that will leave readers feeling like they are flying through the streets of New York.

Purchase Tracers at Amazon
Purchase Tracers at IndieBound
View Tracers on Goodreads


J.J. HowardJ.J. Howard is wearing headphones right now, most likely. She grew up in York, Pennsylvania, obsessed with music, movies, television, and pop culture. You can call her if you ever need to phone a friend for trivia on any of the above topics, but don’t ask about sports, because she is hopeless at those (along with math). J.J. graduated from Dickinson College with a BA in English and Tiffin University with an MH in Humanities. She has been some of her students’ favorite English teacher for a quite a few years (she even has a mug somewhere to prove it). THAT TIME I JOINED THE CIRCUS is her first young adult novel. J.J. would love to hear from her readers and is always ready to trade playlists. Visit at jjhowardbooks.com.


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16. New Insurgent Trailer Unveiled

A new trailer has been unveiled for the Insurgent film adaptation. Deadline reports that this trailer for “the Summit Entertainment sequel will be one of the Hollywood studio ads showing during the Super Bowl this weekend.”

The video embedded above offers glimpses of Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet reprising their roles as Beatrice “Tris” Prior and Jeanine Matthews. The movie c

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17. J.R. Johansson, author of CUT ME FREE, on being inspired by two vastly different concepts

What was your inspiration for writing CUT ME FREE?

My inspiration for CUT ME FREE was a very organic thing. I was in a writing group where they were joking around and challenged me to write something that featured a creepy puppet. While pondering how to do that in a way that hadn't already been done to death, I came across information on child trafficking and child abuse and how easy it is not to see it even when it is right in front of you. The true stories I was reading were absolutely horrifying and I think they changed me in some ways. They really stuck with me and opened my eyes. Anyway, somehow these two vastly different concepts floated around in my brain until one day they ran into each other and the foundation of CUT ME FREE came to life.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There were so many difficult scenes to write in CUT ME FREE. It's not an easy book. This is a book that seems pretty polarizing. Some people love it and others can't handle it. I didn't gloss it over or make it seem less awful than it would be. It was important to me that this deal honestly with what the recovery of a victim looks like. It's a daily struggle and I wanted to be true to that. One scene that was very emotionally difficult for me to write was a scene a bit over halfway through where Charlotte/Piper is terrified and she's decided to run again. She is walking down the street in the middle of the night and she looks around herself and finally sees what she is doing. She sees that her life has become a series of times where she flees one situation after another. She sees how it is hurting the people she cares about and she decides that she needs to change things. It's a moment that is both scary and empowering. The emotional strength she required to make that decision was difficult to capture, but now that it's done, I love it and I'm very proud of it.

What are you working on now?

Thanks for asking! I'm currently working on a standalone contemporary thriller that will be released with Macmillan in the fall of 2016. We're doing revisions on it and getting it all shiny, which is my favorite part of the creative process. I'm also starting to prepare the next project which I think might be going back in the direction of a series and introduce fantastical elements of some sort again. More to come on that soon!


Cut Me Free
by J.R. Johansson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 1/27/2015

Seventeen-year-old Charlotte barely escaped from her abusive parents. Her little brother, Sam, wasn't as lucky. Now she's trying to begin the new life she always dreamed of for them, but never thought she'd have to experience alone. She's hired a techie-genius with a knack for forgery to remove the last ties to her old life. But while she can erase her former identity, she can’t rid herself of the memories. And her troubled history won’t let her ignore the little girl she sees one day in the park. The girl with the bruises and burn marks.

That’s when Charlotte begins to receive the messages. Threatening notes left in her apartment--without a trace of entry. And they’re addressed to Piper, her old name. As the messages grow in frequency, she doesn’t just need to uncover who is leaving them; she needs to stop whoever it is before anyone else she loves ends up dead.

Purchase Cut Me Free at Amazon
Purchase Cut Me Free at IndieBound
View Cut Me Free on Goodreads


photo credit: Michelle Davidson ArgyleJ.R. JOHANSSON has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. When she's not writing, she loves reading, playing board games, and sitting in her hot tub. Her dream is that someday she can do all three at the same time. She has two young sons and a wonderful husband. In fact, other than her cat, Cleo, she's nearly drowning in testosterone. J.R. lives in a valley between majestic mountains and a beautiful lake where the sun shines over 300 days per year.

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18. Book Trailer Unveiled For Dear White People

A book trailer for Dear White People: A Guide to Inter-Racial Harmony in a “Post-Racial” America has been unveiled. The video embedded above has drawn more than 38,000 views on Facebook—what do you think?

This project was inspired by the 2014 crowdfunded film which shares the same title. Justin Simien, the director and screenwriter behind the movie, wrote the book and Ian O’Phelan created the illustrations.

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19. Comic: First Step Is Admitting You Have A Problem

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20. Water For Elephants to Be Adapted Into a Musical

water for elephantsPeter Schneider and Elisabetta di Mambro, two producers, have picked up the worldwide rights to adapt Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants into a musical. The production team hopes to have a Broadway run for this show.

Gruen will be involved with the creative process for this theatrical project. She originally wrote the book for National Novel Writing Month; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill published it in May 2006.

Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “The Depression-era novel, which has been published in 43 countries and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, follows aspiring veterinarian Jacob Jankowski as he joins the staff of Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, working with the circus’ new elephant. He bonds with the show’s equestrian star, who is married to its charismatic but troubled animal superintendent. The love-triangle title was previously adapted into a 2011 film starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz.”

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21. Judicial resistance? War crime trials after World War I

There was a great change in peace settlements after World War I. Not only were the Central Powers supposed to pay reparations, cede territory, and submit to new rules concerning the citizenship of their former subjects, but they were also required to deliver nationals accused of violations of the laws and customs of war (or violations of the laws of humanity, in the case of the Ottoman Empire) to the Allies to stand trial.

This was the first time in European history that victor powers imposed such a demand following an international war. This was also the first time that regulations specified by the Geneva and Hague Conventions were enforced after a war ended. Previously, states used their own military tribunals to enforce the laws and customs of war (as well as regulations concerning espionage), but they typically granted amnesty for foreigners after a peace treaty was signed.

The Allies intended to create special combined military tribunals to prosecute individuals whose violations had affected persons from multiple countries. They demanded post-war trials for many reasons. Legal representatives to the Paris Peace Conference believed that “might makes right” should not supplant international law; therefore, the rules governing the treatment of civilians and prisoners-of-war must be enforced. They declared the war had created a modern sensibility that demanded legal innovations, such as prosecuting heads of state and holding officers responsible for the actions of subordinates. British and French leaders wanted to mollify domestic feelings of injury as well as propel an interpretation that the war had been a fight for “justice over barbarism,” rather than a colossal blood-letting. They also sought to use trials to exert pressure on post-war governments to pursue territorial and financial objectives.

The German, Ottoman, and Bulgarian governments resisted extradition demands and foreign trials, yet staged their own prosecutions. Each fulfilled a variety of goals by doing so. The Weimar government in Germany was initially forced to sign the Versailles Treaty with its extradition demands, then negotiated to hold its own trials before its Supreme Court in Leipzig because the German military, plus right-wing political parties, refused the extradition of German officers. The Weimar government, led by the Social Democratic party, needed the military’s support to suppress communist revolutions. The Leipzig trials, held 1921-27, only covered a small number of cases, serving to deflect responsibility for the most serious German violations, such as the massacre of approximately 6,500 civilians in Belgium and deportation of civilians to work in Germany. The limited scope of the trials did not purge the German military as the Allies had hoped. Yet the trials presented an opportunity for German prosecutors to take international charges and frame them in German law. Although the Allies were disturbed by the small number of convictions, this was the first time that a European country had agreed to try its own after a major war.

General Stenger. Public domain via the French National Archive. http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b53063910x.r=Stenger.langEN
General Stenger. Public domain via the French National Archive.

The Ottoman imperial government first destroyed the archives of the “Special Organization,” a secret group of Turkish nationalists who deported Greeks from the Aegean region in 1914 and planned and executed the massacre of Armenians in 1915. But in late 1918, a new Ottoman imperial government formed a commission to investigate parliamentary deputies and former government ministers from the Turkish nationalist party, the Committee of Union and Progress, which had planned the attacks. It also sought to prosecute Committee members who had been responsible for the Ottoman Empire’s entrance into the war. The government then held a series of military trials of its own accord in 1919 to prosecute actual perpetrators of the massacres, as well as purge the government of Committee members, as these were opponents of the imperial system. It also wanted to quash the British government’s efforts to prosecute Turks with British military tribunals. Yet after the British occupied Istanbul, the nationalist movement under Mustafa Kemal retaliated by arresting British officers. Ultimately, the Kemalists gained control of the country, ended all Turkish military prosecutions for the massacres, and nullified guilty verdicts.

Like the German and Ottoman situations, Bulgaria began a rocky governmental and social transformation after the war. The initial post-war government signed an armistice with the Allies to avoid the occupation of the capital, Sofia. It then passed a law granting amnesty for persons accused of violating the laws and customs of war. However, a new government came to power in 1919, representing a coalition of the Agrarian Union, a pro-peasant party, and right-wing parties. The government arrested former ministers and generals and prosecuted them with special civilian courts in order to purge them; they were blamed for Bulgaria’s entrance into the war. Some were prosecuted because they lead groups of refugees from Macedonia in a terrorist organization, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. Suppressing Macedonian terrorism was an important condition for Bulgaria to improve its relationship with its neighbor, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. In 1923, however, Aleksandar Stambuliski, the leader of the Agrarian Union, was assassinated in a military coup, leading to new problems in Bulgaria.

We could ask a counter-factual question: What if the Allies had managed to hold mixed military tribunals for war-time violations instead of allowing the defeated states to stage their own trials? If an Allied tribunal for Germany was run fairly and political posturing was suppressed, it might have established important legal precedents, such as establishing individual criminal liability for violations of the laws of war and the responsibility of officers and political leaders for ordering violations. On the other hand, guilty verdicts might have given Germany’s nationalist parties new heroes in their quest to overturn the Versailles order.

An Allied tribunal for the Armenian massacres would have established the concept that a sovereign government’s ministers and police apparatus could be held criminally responsible under international law for actions undertaken against their fellow nationals. It might also have created a new historical source about this highly contested episode in Ottoman and Turkish history. Yet it is speculative whether the Allies would have been able to compel the post-war Turkish government to pay reparations to Armenian survivors and return stolen property.

Finally, an Allied tribunal for alleged Bulgarian war criminals, if constructed impartially, might have resolved the intense feelings of recrimination that several of the Balkan nations harbored toward each other after World War I. It might also have helped the Agrarian Union survive against its military and terrorist enemies. However, a trial concentrating only on Bulgarian crimes would not have dealt with crimes committed by Serbian, Greek, and Bulgarian forces and paramilitaries during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, so a selective tribunal after World War I may not have healed all wounds.


Image Credit: Château de Versailles Hall of Mirrors Ceiling. Photo by Dennis JarvisCC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.

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22. Library Book Returned 65 Years Late

What’s the longest you’ve ever held on to a library book? Hopefully less time than Sir Jay Tidmarsh.

The eighty-two year-old UK man checked out a book from his school library 65 years ago and only recently returned it. He paid the library a £1,500 fine to make up for his overdue book.

The Guardian has the scoop:

Sir Jay Tidmarsh, 82, came across the long-forgotten copy of Ashenden by W Somerset Maughan as he cleared out his shelves. The former businessman opened the cover and spotted the stamp of his old school inside, which he had left in 1949.

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23. PROJECT ALMANAC - Drive Through Movie Review

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24. Colleen McCullough Has Died

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BBC News reports that McCullough wrote and published 25 novels throughout her career. She became well-known for her 1977 book, The Thorn Birds, which was adapted into a popular television mini-series in 1983.

Here’s more from The Huffington Post: “The paperback rights for The Thorn Birds sold for a then record $1.9 million and was made into one of the most watched miniseries of all time, starring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. The book sold 30 million copies worldwide.”

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Ella, which came out last week from Viking Children’s Books is about a six-year-old who lives at the Local Hotel in Brooklyn, which bears a close resemblance to the Wyeth Hotel. The book features illustrations by Marcos Chin.

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