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Results 26 - 50 of 116,874
26. Support Robison Wells, Author of YA nove, VARIANT with ALTERED PERCEPTIONS

People who follow my personal blog may remember that in 2011 I shared some truths about myself when I posted about YA author Robison Wells, author of VARIANT. (That blog post is reposted below.) He had just shared publicly about his mental... Read the rest of this post

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27. The Pros and Cons of Publishing With a Small Publisher

As the editor of Writer’s Market, I’m often quizzed by writers about which is the better option: self-publishing, or getting an agent and trying to land a deal with a big book publisher.

While many professionals seem to acknowledge only these two paths to publication as well, there’s a third route that should not be overlooked: the small press. There’s a whole field of reputable publishers outside of New York’s “Big Five” that can offer the support of the traditional publishing model on a smaller scale—and most accept unagented submissions.

So what are the pros and cons of publishing with a small press, and what should you expect if you decide to give it a go?

—By Robert Lee Brewer

The Submissions Process

There are some crucial differences in what small press editors look for in a submission, in contrast to the “Big Five.” When I speak with writers at conferences, they often voice frustration over the importance of writing commercially marketable stories in today’s publishing environment—and the lack of true risk-taking in the business. That’s what they hear emphasized by editors at big houses, because those professionals have aggressive sales goals. Small presses obviously have sales goals, too, but they’re typically more willing to take risks on projects they believe have artistic merit.

[Understanding Book Contracts: Learn what’s negotiable and what’s not.]

Jen Michalski, who in 2013 published a novel, a novella and a short-story collection with three different small presses (Black Lawrence Press, Dzanc Books and Aqueous Books, respectively), says, “The most important draw about these presses was their willingness to publish work that was risky, a difficult read, and therefore inherently commercially unsuccessful.”

Part of this mindset is formed by how small presses view publishing and sales. “With a small press, there is no 90-day window to make your book a bestseller,” Press 53 Publisher Kevin Morgan Watson says. “We continue to market and support our books and authors years after the book is released. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Michalski says she didn’t even discuss sales targets with the publisher of her novella. “Dzanc really loved what I was trying to do, and we never talked about whether or how it was going to sell, only that they were going to publish it,” she says. “Because that’s what they do—they publish challenging, boundary-pushing fiction. And they’ve achieved a formidable reputation by sticking to their principles.”

If you think a small press might be a good fit for your work, what should you know about vetting your options? Whether the books are made available as print, digital or both (formats and contract terms vary widely, which may give you room to negotiate), authors earn their money primarily through royalties—roughly 10 percent on print sales and up to 25 percent per digital purchase. On average, advances tend to be small—$1,000–2,000 is a common range—or even nonexistent. (At a larger publisher, you’d likely receive a bigger check upon signing—but remember that all advances are paid against royalties, meaning you aren’t paid royalties until you “earn out” your advance. At a small press, you’d likely receive less payment up front, but earn royalties sooner.)

Of course, how many copies you can expect to sell will depend on the nature of your book, as well as the distribution and marketing support the press can offer. Don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions along these lines, as well as what the expected print run would be, before you sign a contract—especially if you’re doing so without agent representation.

Many small presses solicit manuscripts through a mix of open submission periods and book contests. I secured a contract for my poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems, by submitting directly to Press 53 during its open submission period. But like many other small publishers, Press 53 also offers book contests that award a lump sum and other prizes (in Press 53’s case, a $1,000 advance and a launch party). Keep in mind that such contests are very competitive, and most require reading fees between $10 and $30 per entry. When deciding which are worth the investment, consider giving preference to those that offer all entrants a premium, such as a copy of the winning book, so you get something for your entry fee, even if it’s not publication.

The Publishing Process

When asked about the top advantage small presses offer to authors, Erika Goldman, publisher and editorial director of Bellevue Literary Press, says, “Tender, loving care.”

Small press authors can expect to receive a lot of attention from the editor, designer and even owner. That can translate into a more re-warding writer-editor relationship, as well as more involvement with the publicity department.

“We take the time to make sustaining connections for authors in the world of literature, scheduling author tours and creating a thoughtful list of prizes to nominate their work,” says Megan Bowden, director of operations and outreach for Sarabande Books.

In my case, I discussed distribution and marketing ideas directly with the owner of Press 53. I spent time on the phone with my editor during the day, in the evening, and even on weekends. And I had input on my book’s cover, even being able to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the suggested design. This type of artistic involvement is not available to most authors at larger houses—but in the small press world, my own experience was not an anomaly.

“I work directly on each book, designing it along with the author to produce something that a reader will want to purchase, as well as an object that best fits how the author wants their writings to be displayed,” says Geoffrey Gatza, founder, editor and publisher of BlazeVOX [books].

Of course, while book design and editorial input are important consi-derations for any author, that doesn’t mean you should expect complete creative control. (Otherwise, why not self-publish?)

“We try to do what’s best for the book in the end,” Bowden says. “We want to hear the desires of the author, but we’ve also been publishing books for almost 20 years and hope that when an author agrees to publish their work with us, they trust that we’re going to work hard and do all that we can to create a smart, bold cover that works with the overall theme of the book, edit the work to the best of our ability without compromising well-executed poetry or prose, all the while understanding the retail side of the publishing world enough to know how a book should look and feel to the reader.”

[Learn important writing lessons from these first-time novelists.]

Career Building

Small presses offer unknown and emerging authors a place to get a foothold in their pursuit of success by publishing those early works upon which a career is built.

“The advantage of being a published author is what most of us want, and a small press can do that tremendously well,” Gatza says. “A small press is the stepping-stone to bigger and better things, and not an end for a book—it is a wondrous beginning.”

Unlike with self-publishing, this beginning is endorsed by an objective gatekeeper who believes in your work enough to invest time and energy in the project—and pay you for the effort.

Of course, small press authors are expected to do their part.

“We expect our authors to be ac-tively publishing nationally and promoting through local and regional events and activities,” Watson says. “You can’t sit back and wait for readers to find you. Creativity does not end with writing the book.”

Thanks for visiting The Writer’s Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.

*********************************************************************************************************************************
brian-klems-2013

Brian A. Klems is the online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian’s free Writer’s Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter

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28. Best-Selling Author Terrie Williams: ‘Follow Your Inner Voice and Be True to It’

Terrie-Williams-ArticleTerrie Williams is a woman of many talents. No only is she a licensed therapist, she’s also the founder of her own eponymous public relations firm and a four-time best-selling author. Her books include: The Personal Touch (which is being updated in honor of its 20th anniversary); Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting; A Plentiful Harvest: Creating Balance and Harmony Through the Seven Living Virtues; and Stay Strong: Simple Life Lessons for Teens. 

In our latest So What Do You Do column, Williams discusses everything from the humble beginnings of her PR firm to her mental health advocacy work. Here, she shares the advice she’d give her younger self:

If you could have a 20-something Terrie Williams as your intern now, what would you tell her to do differently?
Listen to your freakin’ inner voice. You know in your gut what’s right but either fear sets in or something keeps you from listening. There are always other forces crowding the good sense you have. Follow your inner voice and be true to it. I know this is about media, but the underlying core is our shared humanity. It impacts how effective we are in particular roles. If you look at a lot of different media personalities, you wonder what drives them because of certain things that they say or do. Even though you don’t know what that person’s journey is, you know they have one and it colors everything about who they are. Assume there’s something you don’t know that had a profound impact on that person.

For more from Williams, including the greatest professional lesson she’s learned, read: So What Do You Do, Terrie Williams, Author, Activist and Public Relations Strategist? 

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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29. J.K. Rowling to Serve as Executive Producer For ‘The Casual Vacancy’ Mini-Series

en_GB-timeline-image-the-casual-vacancy-cover-image-1341414943-cwHBO and BBC have scheduled production on The Casual Vacancy TV adaptation to begin this summer. Altogether, the team plans to create a three-hour long mini-series.

Variety reports that J.K. Rowling herself will serve as an executive producer. EastEnders TV series writer Sarah Phelps penned the script. Filmmaker Jonny Campbell has been hired to direct.

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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30. On BookExpo and diversity.

At Book Riot:

This utter lack of diversity is gross. It is inexcusable. And it is really, really embarrassing. Book Expo America is the industry’s flagship event, and the statement it is making on the industry’s behalf is that we believe that what readers–the kind of devoted, passionate readers who fork over thirty dollars to spend a summer Saturday in a convention center–want out of a book event is an all-white, heavily celebrity line-up.

Blerg.

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31. Michael J. Rosen: ‘Read poets from other countries, in other languages, if possible.’

Michael J RosenHappy National Poetry Month! All throughout April, we will interview poets about working in this digital age. Recently, we spoke with writer Michael J. Rosen.

Throughout his writing career, Rosen (pictured, via) has authored more than a dozen books. Recently, he wrote two installments of a children’s book series that focuses on animal-themed haikus, The Cuckoo’s Haiku and The Hound Dog’s Haiku. Next Spring, Candlewick Press will release book three The Maine Coon’s Haiku. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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32. Adapting Books for Children with Disabilities

Accessibility is key to serving an inclusive library audience.  Because of that, it’s important that librarians examine–not only our programming–but the accessibility of our library collections as well.  Unfortunately, the process of reading a typical library book may not be accessible for all abilities.  The simple act of turning the page, for example, may be difficult to accomplish by someone who has a disability.  What can librarians do, then, to make our books accessible to those children in our communities with special needs?

Leap Into Literacy adaptive books for special needs children

Partners with Passion

In the Chicagoland area, librarians are fortunate enough to have the expertise and dedication of Rita Angelini, founder of Leap Into Literacy. The mission of this non-profit organization is to create adapted books for children with special needs and make these books available in public libraries.  Using Boardmaker symbols and a bit of creativity, Rita and her amazing group of volunteers adapt small picture books into large, durable, accessible books that can be manipulated by a child with special needs.

What makes a book accessible?

Each page is laminated with thick laminate plastic sheets, allowing fast and easy cleaning for children with compromised immune systems.  Page fluffers or page turners are added, creating adequate space for children to turn the page on their own.  At the bottom of each page, four Boardmaker picture symbols are included that summarize the actions of the story in the illustration and text above. The symbols, which include both image and text of a particular concepts, offer an opportunity to reinforce vocabulary for children who are nonverbal or learning to read.  When all of the adapted pages are finished, the pages are inserted to a three-ring binder, making it a durable, long-lasting product that can be utilized by children of any reading ability.   Afterwards, the books are donated to public libraries across the Chicagoland area and are added to the libraries’ collections to circulate to each community.

 

Whether you partner with a local organization like Leap Into Literacy to create a circulating collection of adapted books, or you want to try your hand at creating a collection to be used in-house for  programs, any library can improve the accessibility by offering adapted books.  What has YOUR library done to offer unique and accessible reading formats?  Share your ideas below!  To learn more about page fluffers, laminate, and other adapting techniques, check out the Adapting Creatively Blog for some great tips.

0 Comments on Adapting Books for Children with Disabilities as of 4/24/2014 9:17:00 PM
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33. Reading Bingo Book Clue 12

Reading Bingo

Reading Bingo Day 3 Continues!

Day three of Reading Bingo is well underway! Y’all are doing great! Ready for book clue 12? Here we go!

Book clue 12 is . . .
The Adventures of Captain Underpants

 by Dav Pilkey

The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey book coverBingo square

that it fits in and write in the title.

We’ve got three more clues today. Come back to Ink Splot 26 and also check the Stack Back Message Board

throughout the day to catch them!

Today’s shape is pretty awesome. Have you gotten Bingo yet? Remember, book clues 1-11

also count towards today’s game, so you can fill those in plus today’s book clues. When you get an H-shape, yell BINGO! in the Comments. See ya later!

image from kids.scholastic.com — 

En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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34. Amazon Chooses ’100 Books to Read in a Lifetime: Mystery & Thriller’

gone girlGone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn; The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown; L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy and The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet are among Amazon’s list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime – the Mystery & Thriller Edition.

The list was put together by Amazon Books’ editorial team. Follow this link to explore their recommendations. You can also check out Amazon’s list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime list here.

“There are many different kinds of books that fall under the mystery/thriller umbrella – from police procedurals to murder mysteries to spy thrillers,” explained Sara Nelson, editorial director of Amazon.com in a statement.  ”When we were compiling our list of 100 Mysteries & Thrillers to Read in a Lifetime, we wanted to be sure to include books from all of those sub-categories. The team had plenty of lively arguments, several passionate filibusters, and a number of voting sessions before we came up with the final list.”

 

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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35. Reading Bingo Book Clue 13

Reading Bingo

Reading Bingo Day 3 Continues!

GOOOOO, READING BINGO!

We’re at book clue 13 already! I can’t believe it! Have you gotten the H-shape BINGO yet? Tell us what titles you used!

Here’s our 13th book clue . . .

Dork Diaries:

Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous LifeDork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell

Have you read this book? If so, choose the Bingo square

that it fits in and write in the title.

Two more clues are left for today’s Reading Bingo. Come back to Ink Splot 26 and check the Stack Back Message Board

 to find them later today!

Remember that book clues 1-12

also count in today’s game, so you can fill those in plus today’s clues. Can’t wait to see what cool books you’ve been reading!

Until next time!

image from kids.scholastic.com — En-Szu, STACKS Staffer

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36. Mini maestro mystifies me

By Siu-Lan Tan


Sometimes you think you can explain something, and then it turns out you really can’t. This remarkable video was posted last year but only went viral in the US in the last few weeks, approaching 5 million hits in a short time. When I first saw it, I was immediately enchanted.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Dubbed by the press as ‘the Mini Maestro’ (although to be correct, she would be a maestra), the video shows little Lara Glozou with a church choir in Kyrgyzstan. She’s the young daughter of one of the choir members and often attends rehearsal.

After watching a few times, I thought I knew what might be happening. This must be an observant child who’s mirroring the actions of a conductor standing in front of the choir, interspersed with a little improvisation of her own. I thought she was a remarkable imitator, not just able to capture the conductor’s motions, but also the emotions.

But then I found another video. It shows the choir rehearsing the same song from another angle, allowing us to see the conductor’s motions of the right hand while Lara is gesturing expressively in the far right corner by the piano.

Click here to view the embedded video.

I was amazed to see that the conductor is not making the same kinds of motions as Lara after all. Even though the conductor’s gestures may be outlining the regularity of the beat and phrasing, many of Lara’s gestures and body movements—the forward lean, the hand to the chest, the sway of the body, and the dips and turns of the head—seem to be her own.

To be fair, Lara is not really “conducting.” If she were directing, her motions would come slightly before the events in the music, in anticipation of them in order to cue the choir. Her movements are more like an expression of the music. However, as an expression or sensitive interpretation of the music, I find her gestures to be remarkable. Truly extraordinary. For instance, her gestures are fewer and more prolonged during the female solo up to 0:21 (on the first video). They are a series of poses. But at 0:22 when the choir comes in, she immediately shifts to grand sweeping gestures. The variety of shapes that she forms with her hands alone express a rainbow of emotions and tone colors.

I am in awe of this little girl’s ability not only to reflect peaks and valleys in the melody of the music, and momentum of the phrases, but also the shape of the sound. For the last note of the song, she curves her left and right hands into the widest arcs for a broad final tone — a lion’s roar — rather than the kind of ending that gradually fades away.

This small child has had so little time on earth to experience falling in love, the sting of heartbreak, betrayal, triumph, grief, pain, and the rest of the great emotional topography of life. How is she able to convey the semblance of emotional depth and angst? Where is she getting her musical sensitivity? Do some young children just have an old soul?

As a former music major, I took Conducting 101. My spine was rigid, my gestures were tiny and angular. As a music student in my 20s, I had none of the intensity and theatrical weight of this little girl. More recently, I have written about how infants begin to spontaneously respond to music in bodily ways, nodding their heads and waving arms to rhythmic music once they are able to sit freely at about six months. Later, bobbing up and down with knee-bends, and spinning around in circles to music between one and two years, after they become mobile.

However, they do so for only short bursts, and most of the movements of two- and three-year-old children don’t really match the music in time (Moog, 1976; Malbrán, 2000). Although Lara is not always synchronized with the music, her deep expressive gestures capture the musical events in a broad way, even anticipating some musical moments, as she is familiar with this piece.

Little is known about young children’s interpretation of music. In one of the few studies in this area, Boone & Cunningham (2001) showed that four-year-olds can move a flexible teddy bear in dance-like fashion, to express emotion in music through movement. However the musical emotions they recognized and expressed were basic emotions (such as happiness, or sadness, or anger). What we seem to observe in Lara is much more nuanced. How is she able to capture this depth in music?

I spoke with a grown-up maestro that I greatly admire, Andrew Koehler, Music Director of the Kalamazoo Philharmonia. He said, “It’s really astonishing. Lara moves in a way that shows that she recognizes agogic accents“ (longer durations of tones, which give natural stress to music). She often reflects this with larger, more expansive motions of her arms that mark those accents.

Her gestures also capture finer details. At 0:45 to 0:47 in the first video, Koehler points out how a higher tone of greater tension resolves to a lower tone of lower tension. The toddler reflects this: “Lara leans into the music, her right hand pushing into it with a claw-like motion [capturing high tone and high tension in the music]. Then both left and right arms make downward motions as her posture goes back to an upright position again [lower tone, lower tension].”

And then there’s Jonathan Okseniuk. Here he is at three years old, appearing to ‘conduct’ a recording of the last movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in his home in Mesa, Arizona.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Even if he appears to be getting some coaxing off camera, this is a remarkable three-year-old.

Here is Jonathan again at age four, conducting a live orchestra in a rousing rendition of Khachaturian’s ‘Sabre Dance’. “This is a more challenging arena,” explains Koehler, “which would require Jonathan to anticipate what will happen in the music as opposed to simply responding to it.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

There are many other videos of Jonathan on the web, conducting Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, and Strauss with different orchestras.

How an understanding of music blooms so early in some young ones astonishes me. This mini-maestra’s sensitive expression of music and mini-maestro’s early conducting chops have left me perplexed.

Siu-Lan Tan is Associate Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, USA. She is primary editor of The Psychology of Music in Multimedia (Oxford University Press 2013), the first book consolidating the research on the role of music in film, television, video games, and computers. A version of this article also appears on Psychology Today. Siu-Lan Tan also has her own blog, What Shapes Film? Read her previous blog posts.

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37. How to Write Middle Grade Horror: 7 Tips

I scare children for a living.

As the author of a middle grade horror series, my job is to deliver stories that frighten and thrill my readers. Those readers tend to range in age from ten to fourteen, which makes delivering on that task more difficult than you might imagine. My readership is growing up in the age when video games are rife with monsters and violence, when YouTube offers limitless access to scary independent films and, of course, when “The Walking Dead” is the number one show on television. So, if I want to inspire some good old fashioned fright in my fans, I need to do more than yell “Boo!” Here, then, are seven tips for scaring the pants off of young readers:

GIVEAWAY: Ty is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA        the-undertakers-novel-drago

Column by Ty Drago, author of THE UNDERTAKERS: SECRET OF THE
CORPSE EATER (the third book in his middle grade horror series). The
book was praised by Publishers Weekly, while Booklist said the story was one
that would “both disgust and delight readers . . . who will be clamoring for the
continuation of the story.”  Ty has authored numerous sci-fi and horror books
for kids. (Find them all on Amazon here.) His first Undertakers novelette,
NIGHT OF MONSTERS, is currently available for free on Smashwords.com
and barnesandnoble.com. Connect with Ty on Twitter or Facebook.

1) Pick the right villain

Any horror story is only as good as its bad guy. When writing adult horror, it’s prudent, when appropriate, to add a dash of humanity to one’s serial killer, vampire, succubus, etc. We do this to give the character depth. But in children’s fiction, that rule goes out the window. Even if your villain is a human, he or she must still be a monster. They should be savage and pitiless. Your bad guy needs to take delight in their misdeeds, cherish each moment of the suffering they cause. And if he or she is inhuman, then let them revel in their inhumanity. Let them be the absolute worst that they can be — then throw in a little more awful, just for the fun of it.

2) Start on page one

In children’s fiction, the old writer’s axiom, “start the story where it starts,” is at its most vital. Kids, even avid readers, expect a book to grab them from page one. They have a harder time immersing themselves in a plot with a gradual build. If your story is about an alien invasion, open with that. If your story centers around demonic slayings, begin with the first of them. Whoever — or whatever — your villain is, let’s meet him, or at least glimpse him, right up front.

So here’s a new axiom: “The first scare should be on the first page.”

(Never open your novel with a dream — here’s why.)

3) Find a new slant

Say what you will about sparkly vampires, they worked.

Even the villain you tout is one of the classics, your young readers will still expect to see something they haven’t before. Be it a two-headed werewolf, a mummy who can wrap up its victims in bandages and turn them into mummies, or a vampire clown (kind of like that last one!), your bad guy has to bring something original to the table. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked at a school visit, “Do we need another vampire book?” and received a resounding “No!” I wonder how they’d feel about the clown?

4) Ebb and flow

Non-stop action worked for Indiana Jones, but it’s tiring in print. Even the most gripping horror story needs to allow its readers to take a breath. This is especially true in children’s fiction, where the attention span can sometimes be — abbreviated. Keep your chapters short, your scares solid, but use the gaps between the scares to build characterization, establish mood and voice, and let your reader’s heart rate steady.

Then: At ‘em again!

5) Use the “Pop Out”

I know: It’s considered cheap in a horror movie. The terrified heroine standing before a mirror and, suddenly, the demon’s face is at her shoulder. The violins slash a discordant chord as she spins around, to only find nothing there. But in fiction, the Pop Out can actually prove quite effective. The trick lies in how you spin it. When writing such moments, keep the paragraphs small and the sentences short. Don’t over-describe the scene; allow your reader’s imagination do the work.

So let those purple dead hands reach out from a hole in the floorboards to seize an ankle or two, let those red eyes shine in the window, and never hesitate to have something drop out of a tree or lunge from under the bed.

(Agents define their “ideal client” — hear what they have to say.)

6) Use the “Slow Dread”

Pop Outs are great. But they don’t tell a horror story. For that, you need the right mood, the perfect edge, the slow dread. Even when no immediate danger threatens your heroes, the whisper of it must always be there. I usually establish this subtle undertone of menace by getting inside my character’s head, letting my reader share their apprehension, their fear of what might be around the next corner, or what may happen when the sun goes down. Just remember to “show” and not “tell.” Never inform the reader, not even in children’s fiction. Instead, let them use what the characters see, hear, smell and feel to inform themselves.

7) Mind your happy endings

We’re living in an age of ambiguity, at least where endings are concerned. In fiction, as in life, endings are rarely completely happy. Young readers tend to be skeptical of a conclusion that ties everything up in a neat bow. Heroes can ride off into the sunset, but there should be an edge to their triumph — the death of a friend perhaps, or a broken promise, or simply the loss of innocence — that tempers their success. This is not to say that evil should triumph. I’m a big believer in good winning the day every time. But victory should be tempered with sacrifice, and no hero, regardless of their tender age, should escape entirely unscathed.

To wrap things up, here’s another axiom: “Never underestimate your reader.” Today’s kids don’t want to be coddled. They don’t want you to hold back the frights. They don’t fear nightmares, and they want to show the world that they can “take it.” So if horror is your genre, then horror should be your goal. Let your young readers tremble in the shadows and run for their lives.

After all, it’s why they bought the book!

GIVEAWAY: Ty is excited to give away a free copy of his novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (Please note that comments may take a little while to appear; this is normal).

 

2014-childrens-writers-and-illustrators-market

Writing books/novels for kids & teens? There are hundreds
of publishers, agents and other markets listed in the
latest Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.
Buy it online at a discount.

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more.
Order the book from WD at a discount.

 

 

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38. Reading Bingo Book Clue 14

Reading Bingo

Reading Bingo Day 3 Continues!

Today’s game of Reading Bingo continues with another book clue. Did you get the H-shape on your bingo card filled in?

Book clue 14 is . . . .
Holes book cover

Holes

by Louis Sachar

If you have read this book, then choose the Bingo square it fits in and write in the title.

Remember, book clues 1

23456789, 101112, and 13 count for today’s game, so you can fill those in plus today’s new book clue. There will be one more book clue hidden on the Stack Back Message Board today. Go see if you can find it!

If you got it, then yell BINGO! in the Comments. If not, come back for more book clues and a new way to win tomorrow morning.

image from kids.scholastic.com— Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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39. The amoeba in the room

By Nicholas P. Money


The small picture is the big picture and biologists keep missing it. The diversity and functioning of animals and plants has been the meat and potatoes of most natural historians since Aristotle, and we continue to neglect the vast microbial majority. Before the invention of the microscope in the seventeenth century we had no idea that life existed in any form but the immediately observable. This delusion was swept away by Robert Hooke, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, and other pioneers of optics who found that tiny forms of life looked a lot like the cells that comprise our own tissues. We were, they showed, constructed from the same essence as the writhing animalcules of ponds and spoiled food. And yet this revelation was somehow folded into the continuing obsession with human specialness, allowing Carolus Linnaeus to catalogue plants and big animals and ignore the lilliputian majority. When microbiological inquiry was restimulated by Louis Pasteur in the nineteenth century, it became the science of germs and infectious disease. The point was not to glory in the diversity of microorganisms but exterminate them. In any case, as before, most of life was disregarded.

B0004773 Ameba, SEM

Things are changing very swiftly now. Molecular fishing expeditions in which raw biological information is examined using metagenomic methods have discovered an abundance of cryptic life forms. This research has made it clear that we are a very long way, centuries perhaps, from comprehending biodiversity properly.

Revelation of the human microbiome, the teeming trillions of bacteria and archaea in our guts that affect every aspect of our wellbeing, is the best publicized part of the inquiry. We are walking ecosystems, farmed by our microbes and dependent upon their metabolic virtuosity. There is much more besides, including the fact that a single cup of seawater contains 100 million cells, which are in turn preyed upon by billions of viruses; that a pinch of soil teems with incomprehensibly rich populations of cells; and that 50 megatons of fungal spores are released into our air supply every year. Even the pond in my Ohio garden is filled with unknowable riches: the most powerful techniques illuminate the genetic identity of only one in one billion of the cells in its shallow water.

Most biologists continue to be concerned with animals and plants, the thinnest slivers of biological splendor, and students are taught this macrobiology—with the occasional nod toward the other things that constitute almost all of life. Practical problems abound from this nepotism. Ecologists study things muscled and things leafed and conservationists worry most about animals, arguing for expensive stamp-collecting exercises to register the big bits of creation before they go extinct. This is a predicament of considerable importance to humanity. Consider: A single kind of photosynthetic bacterium absorbs 20 billion tons of carbon per year, making this minuscule cell a stronger refrigerant than all of the tropical rainforests.

Surveying our planet for its evolutionary resources, the perceptive extraterrestrial would report that Earth is swarming with viral and bacterial genes. The visitor might comment, in passing, that a few of these genes have been strung together into large assemblies capable of running around or branching toward the sunlight. It is time for us to embrace this kind of objectivity and recognize that the macrobiological bias that drives our exploration and teaching of biology is no more sensible than attempting to evaluate all of English Literature by reading nothing but a Harry Potter book. The science of biology would benefit from a philosophical reboot.

Nicholas P. Money is Professor of Botany and Western Program Director at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He is the author of more than 70 peer-reviewed papers on fungal biology and has authored several books. His new book is The Amoeba in the Room: Lives of the Microbes.

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Image Credit: Scanning electron micrograph of amoeba, computer-coloured mauve. By David Gregory & Debbie Marshall, CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0, via Wellcome Images.

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40. Open letter from the NCAC to Fauquier High School.

Two boys kissingFrom the letter:

These and other reviews attest to the literary and educational value of the book. In contrast, no legitimate pedagogical rationale has been advanced for its removal, and it is highly doubtful that any legitimate justification could be advanced, especially for removing the book from the library, the purpose of which is to give students the opportunity to explore books on their own, according to their own interests, views and values.

See also: the related press release.

See also: an article from the school newspaper:

After a group of students noticed the cover of David Levithan’s 2013 novel, Two Boys Kissing, parent Jessica Wilson launched a book challenge to remove it from FHS’s library. The complaint was officially filed on the grounds that the picture on the book’s cover, which features two boys kissing, violated the school’s policy of no public displays of affection. Furthermore, Wilson was concerned that the book had overt sexual content.

In that article, there's a quote from the challenger:

“The good thing about appealing is that it opens the matter up to public debate,” Wilson said. “It’s not like this isn’t a book that I wouldn’t let my kids read, but it’s the fact that it’s in a school. Books like The Scarlet Letter and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest don’t embrace sexuality. They have consequences, and it’s integral to the story. When you’re a teenager, it’s normal to question your sexuality, your faith, but the school isn’t your nanny; it isn’t up to the school to provide this guidance.”

I'm fascinated by her logic here: she says that the school "isn't your nanny" and that it isn't up to the school to "provide [this] guidance", but it seems to me that in asking for the library to only include stories in which sexual contact has "consequences", that's EXACTLY what she's asking the school to be and to do.

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41. Reading Bingo Book Clue 16

Reading Bingo

Reading Bingo Day 4!

Congratulations to yesterday’s Reading Bingo winners!

Today is a new game of Reading Bingo with a new way to win. Today’s goal is to get a Z-shape on your Reading Bingo card

like this:Bingo Z shape

If you need a Reading Bingo card, click here for the Rules and Procedures

. Book clues 123456789, 10111213, 14, and 15 count for today’s game, so you can fill those in plus today’s book clue. It’s not too late to start playing so get out your Reading Bingo card and get ready for today’s book clue!

Book clue 16 is . . .Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone book cover illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

by J. K. Rowling

If you have read this book, then choose the Bingo square it fits in and write in the title.

Check Ink Splot 26, the Message Boards, and your Profile shout-outs all day for more book clues. When you get the Z-shape on your card filled in, yell BINGO! in the Comments.

image from kids.scholastic.com— Sonja, STACKS Staffer

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42. Petition Process Update

Petition candidates will now find the process to have their name added to a YALSA election ballot a little easier, thanks to action taken recently by the YALSA Board.  What’s the change? Instead of obtaining signatures by means of a paper ballot, the petition will be electronic beginning with the 2015 election process. The second change is one that needs to be approved by the membership via a vote to change the bylaws.  In the bylaws the number of signatures required for a petition candidate is currently 25; however, the board is asking the membership to vote to change that to 1% of the personal membership.  A percentage, rather than a number that is unchanged from year to year, ensures that regardless of membership size, the number of required signatures remains proportionate to the membership.  It will also eliminate the need for future adjustments to the bylaws as YALSA’s membership size changes.  The number 25 was chosen many years when YALSA had only about 2,000 members. Since then, YALSA’s membership has grown to over 5,100.  So, what’s 1% of the personal members?  Right now that’s 48 people.  Be sure to look for this proposal on next year’s ballot, and, if you’re interested in running on the 2015 slate, visit http://www.ala.org/yalsa/workingwithyalsa/election to learn more.

 

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43. NYPL Reveals 2014-2015 Cullman Center Fellows

nypl logoThe New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers has revealed its fellows for this coming fall.

The list includes fifteen writers including novelists, historians and non fiction writers. The novelists include: Keith Gessen, Ayana Mathis, Jordi Puntí, and Justin Torres. The historians include: Deborah Coen, Kim Phillips-Fein, and Steven Pincus.The non-fiction writers include: Jon Lee Anderson and Megan Marshall. The fellows were chosen from a group of 288 applications from 24 countries around the world.

“I am tremendously proud to welcome the Cullman Center’s new class of Fellows to The New York Public Library,” stated Tony Marx, NYPL’s President. “The Cullman Center offers these talented individuals access to our world-renowned collections within an environment that inspires and supports their exciting work. I congratulate the new Fellows and look forward to seeing the unique and creative ways they engage with our collections.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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44. Deborah Bladon’s Obsessed Trilogy Takes Over Self-Published Bestsellers List

obsessedDeborah Bladon‘s Obsessed Trilogy dominates the Self-published Bestsellers List this week — all three titles have made the top 10 list.

To help GalleyCat readers discover self-published authors, we compile weekly lists of the top eBooks in three major marketplaces for self-published digital books: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. You can read all the lists below, complete with links to each book.

If you want more resources as an author, try our Free Sites to Promote Your eBook post, How To Sell Your Self-Published Book in Bookstores post and our How to Pitch Your Book to Online Outlets post.

If you are an independent author looking for support, check out our free directory of people looking for writers groups. continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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45. Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

penguinlogo 243x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)There is a certain element of mystery that accompanies each and every librarian preview here in New York City.  When the larger publishers gather the librarians to their proverbial bosom, those same librarians walk in with just one question in your mind: How long is this going to take?  If you’re lucky you’ll be out by lunchtime.  But with Penguin beginning their preview by providing lunch, the day was rendered simply more mysterious.  Fortunately the answer to the puzzle lay on our seats.  Each librarian was given a 48-page collection of PowerPoint slides for the event.  48 pages!  The length of a slightly long picture book.  That’s entirely doable!  And indeed, for this particular preview I was pleased to discover that we’d only be covering a sampling of the books from each imprint.  Bonus!

During the course of the event a photo was taken of the librarians and posted to Twitter that day.  See if you can spot me in this shot:

Penguin14libpreview 500x375 Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

If you said, “Why Betsy is the woman in white imitating a small ocean liner” you would have earned yourself a cookie.  There is very little photographic evidence of my pregnancy this second time around.  As such, this is one of the very rare shots in existence.  Credit due to @VikingChildrens.

But enough of this silliness.  Onward to the previews!  As per usual I’ll just be reporting on the children’s fare, with the exception of the rare YA novel here and there.  And, naturally, we begin with . . .

Philomel

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

AbsolutelyAlmost Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

To be slightly more specific, we begin with Lisa Graff.  Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff has, as of this blog post, earned itself four starred reviews thus far, unless I am much mistaken.  Like all her other books out there, it’s a standalone.  There’s something infinitely comforting about authors that aren’t afraid to write standalone novels.  Heck, in this era of ubiquitous sequels it’s a downright relief, it is.  In Absolutely Almost our main character goes by the name of Albie.  He’s a good kid but he thinks of himself as an “almost”.  You know.  He does a lot of things . . . almost well.  So what do you do when you’re just almost everything?  Aye.  There’s the rub.  Set in NYC the book is apparently for fans of Wonder, Rules, Joey Pigza books, and Liar & Spy.  An interesting assortment of connections, to say the least!

Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton

ChasingMilky Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Next up?  A little Moulton.  Editor Jill Santopolo called her a “gorgeous under the radar” author.  One must assume she is referring to her books, though I’m sure she’s quite cute.  In this particular title two sisters try to take care of their mentally ill mom.  A common theme this year, what with the near simultaneous release of books like Under the Egg.  Lucy the eldest, however, can’t keep everyone safe.  Ms. Moulton’s own mother is a social worker and took her daughter along on the job often enough that it made a significant impression.  Authors Moulton was compared to included Jerry Spinelli, Katherine Paterson, and Sharon Creech.  But no pressure or anything!

Brotherband: Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan

SlavesSocorro Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

If your library system is anything like mine then you have a devil of a time figuring out where to catalog John Flanagan.  Is he Juv?  YA?  Well don’t expect the answers to come any easier.  Penguin is planning on repackaging the first four books in the Ranger’s Apprentice series as well as the Brotherband books.  Speaking of which, in this latest little novel, the Slaves of Socorro, editor Michael Green called it a “crossover episode” of sorts.  Characters from the Rangers books and the Brotherband books are now banding together.  It’s a fictional literary character supergroup!  Expect already existing fans to be pretty stoked over the idea.

The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi

SecretSky Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Ah.  The first of the true YA novels to be mentioned here today.  I might not have even mentioned it except that Jill, its editor, got so existed.  “This is THE most important book I’ve ever edited”, said she.  Hard to ignore enthusiasm like that.  A love story set in the time of the Taliban, the book is by ABC Bureau Chief, Atia Abawi.  Raised in Germany and the American south after her mother escaped Afghanistan during the Russian invasion, Ms. Abawi’s book has been getting blurbs from authors (Daphne Benedis-Grab, Trent Reedy, etc.) as well as folks in her own business (Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondant of NBC Andrea Mitchell, for example).

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

OnceUponAlphabet Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Now to switch gears as far as those gears will go.  Oliver Jeffers is a tricky fellow to judge.  I’ve loved some of his stuff (I maintain that Stuck is a modern classic for our times) and loathed others.  I think it’s fair to say that Once Upon an Alphabet is going to fall a little more squarely on the love side of the equation.  Jeffers tackles the alphabet on his own this time and isn’t afraid to break out the fancy words.  Calling this, “Oliver’s magnum opus” the book contains little stories for each storyline.  Here’s one example: “C: Cup in the cupboard. Cup lived in the cupboard. It was dark and cold in there when the door was closed. He dreamed of living over by the window so he’d have a clear view. One afternoon he decided to go for it.” I won’t spoil the ending of that one for you.  Regardless, think of this as a lighter companion to books like The Gashlycrumb Tinies and the like.

Nancy Paulsen Books

The Baby Tree by Sophie Blackall

BabyTree Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Then we’re off to the Nancy Paulsen Books side of the equation.  And can I tell you how goofy crazy my librarians are about The Baby Tree right now?  I tell you, the cover of this book came up onto the screen and there were universal coos from the librarians in attendance.  And why not?  The whole where-do-babies-come-from niche is still fairly wide open.  In this story a boy asks for some straightforward explanations of where babies come from, only to be met with a flurry of ridiculous answers from a variety of elders.  It’s a pretty darn good second sibling book for the older set (the 4, 5, and 6-year-olds) out there.  Definitely a keeper and one to watch.

Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear by Monica Carnesi

SleepoverBeatrice Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

And speaking of keepers covering well-worn topics, let us now discuss hibernation.  Or not.  Totally up to you.  Now you may think every possible hibernation book out there has already been published but that’s just because you didn’t realize that Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear was on the horizon.  Carnesi was best known to me as the woman behind that rather lovely early chapter book Little Dog Lost a year or two ago.  Nancy Paulsen calls her “our librarian author” so, y’know, right there.  Occupational pride.  In this story a bear and rabbit are buddies but soon it’s time for the bear to hibernate.  Beatrice, the aforementioned bunny, decides she will hibernate too, though she’s not entirely certain what that would entail.  As it turns out, bunnies are no good at hibernation but rather than turn this into one of those books where the bear wakes up in the winter and has a spiffing good time (those storylines always bug me for some reason) the solution to Beatrice’s problem is far more charming.  Good stuff.

Putnam

The Secret Hum of a Daisy by Tracy Holczer

SecretHumDaisy Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Onward to Putnam and a book that I’m just going to have to read for myself if I’m going to figure it out at all.  As you can see, it has one of those non-covers and poetic titles that publishers give books when they’re super excited about their literary award possibilities.  And when they start bandying about the phrase “lyrical”, you know something’s up.  In very brief terms it’s a girl with a dead mom story.  Elaborated upon a bit, the girl in question is ripped from what she knows and is placed with a grandma she never knew well.  In time she goes on a treasure hunt, believing that her mother, in whatever form, is behind it in some way.  Basically, all she wants is for her mom to be the treasure at the end.  Rife with clues, it reminded me of Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur or Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass.  I’ll give it a go!

Dreamwood by Heather Mackey

Dreamwood Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

This year carnivorous trees are quite hot.  We’ve seen four different middle grade novels thus far with trees that have dark desires/appetites, and Dreamwood falls into that category.  Don’t write it off as a mere example of hungry wood, though.  No no, this one’s supposed to be pretty good.  Set during the turn of the century in the Pacific Northwest, a girl’s father goes missing in the forest.  So what else can she do but set off with a boy to find her missing father and maybe along the way find a cure for tree blight?  One of my librarians who loves fantasy read it and gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up.  For my part, I was just grateful that the words “eco-fantasy” were never used when describing it.  Oo, I dislike that term!

Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat

NinjaRedRidingHood Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

I got name checked with this next book, which had me just knocking my brain try to remember the context.  Perhaps it was another librarian preview in the recent past?  Could have been.  In any case, apparently when I saw the version of The Three Little Pigs by duo Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat I wondered out loud for all to hear why no one had ever done the same for Little Red Riding Hood.  Enter the answer to my prayers (though I’ve no doubt they had the idea long before I did).  Basically, this is the book for you if you ever wanted to see the wolf get the ever-loving-crap kicked out of him by a girl in a red cape.

Oh, and here’s a non-workplace safe fun activity for you: Google Image the term “ninja red riding hood” sometime and see what comes up.  I was looking for a copy of the jacket of this book.  What I initially found . . . wasn’t that.

All Four Stars by Tara Dairman

AllFourStars Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Finally, something light and frothy and VERY New York.  I have witnessed firsthand the existence of the foodie child.  They exist, often raised by foodie adults, so that they know the difference between flavors and can go so far as to distinguish between them for you.  This, however, is not the life our heroine leads.  She’s a foodie kid, sure, but her parents are fast food lovers.  Still, the kiddo has prodigious talents so she gets hired to review a restaurant professionally.  The catch?  Her new bosses don’t know that she’s a kid, so she basically has to sneak to NYC and the restaurant in question on her own.  Ms. Dairman is a bit of a foodie herself, though alas the book will not include any recipes.  Ah well.  The sequel is due out in 2015.

Viking

Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too by Anna Dewdney

NellyGnuDaddyToo Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

There was a time when I wouldn’t have understood the lure of the Llama Llama Red Pajama world.  But have a small child and your view of things changes.  Say what you will about Anna Dewdney, the woman scans.  Consistently and without fail.  You can read a book of hers cold and come out looking like a pro every time.  Since Llama Llama is the unofficial poster child of the single mama household, it was only a matter of time before the masses demanded a book along similar lines with but a daddy.  Llama Llama’s best friend Nelly Gnu now gets her chance to shine in the sun with this latest title.  Daddy Gnu, I should note, is a pretty darn good feller.  He takes care of his kiddo and makes dinner to boot.  This is hardly a novel idea, but it’s not like we see it in picture books as often as we might.  Well played.

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock

StarbirdMurphy Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

It’s a toss-up as to what I like more: The title of the book, or the name of the author?  On the one hand, “Starbird Murphy” just feels right.  On the other hand, who can resist a last name like “Finneyfrock”?  The plot of the actual book is nice too.  It stars a commune kid who lives entirely off the grid.  This world is entirely normal to her, but eventually she must leave normal and travel into the city.  Think of it as a girl version of Alabama Moon.

Brave Chicken Little by Robert Byrd

BraveChickenLittle Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Now here’s a real beauty that deserves some of your time and attention.  For the most part, big publishers eschew folk and fairytales.  You want the latest version of Snow White and Rose Red?  Get thee to a smaller company!  But once in a great while a biggie will take a chance.  Mind you, after reading this book I don’t think there’s anything the least bit chancey about Robert Byrd’s work.  The ultimate cautionary fable gets a leg up in this updated look at the chick that went for the most extreme of explanations.  It follows the usual storyline to a point, then diverges and allows the hero to come out triumphant.  The moral of the old story was probably something along the lines of “don’t believe everything you hear”.  The moral of the new story?  “Don’t get eaten. Get even.”  [This phrase, by the way, when you Google it appears to be the tagline of a popular Bear Pepper Spray.  Just thought you'd like to know.]

Puffin/Speak

Follow Your Heart: Summer Love by Jill Santopolo

FollowYourHeart Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

One of these days, my children, my prayers will be answered and someone will republish those old Sunfire Romances where the historical girl had to choose between two hunky men.  Them’s my youth!  Until then, however, we have the next best thing.  Something that sounds so obvious when I say it that I’m shocked SHOCKED that no one until now came up with the idea.  Meet the Follow Your Heart series by Jill Santopolo (she edits AND writes because she is a Renaissance woman).  Basically we’re talking Choose Your Own A Romance here.  A girl has to choose between two boys and you help make that choice.  I wonder if they’ll allow you to plug your fingers into the pages where you make the choices so that you can backtrack when things don’t start going your way (anyone else do that back in the day?).  “The Bachelorette in book form” someone said.  There you go.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (50th Anniversary Edition) by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake

CharlieChocolate Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Sweepstakes time.  And really, was there ever a book better suited to a sweepstakes than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?  Because it’s celebrating its 50th anniversary, you’ve probably heard the rumors about the current Golden Ticket Sweepstakes.  Well, it’s all pretty standard stuff.  Before August 8th kids ages 6 and up can apply for this pretty cool prize.  According to the site:

FIVE lucky winners will receive a Golden Ticket trip of a lifetime to New York City that includes:

  • A VIP experience at Dylan’s Candy Bar
  • Tickets to Matilda the Musical
  • A year’s supply of chocolate
  • A visit to the Empire State building
  • A library of Roald Dahl books
  • And MORE!

I love that they get to work in Dylan’s Candy Bar for a day.  But how does one determine what a “year’s supply of chocolate” really consists of, I wonder.  Hm.

In other Dahlian news, copies of Charlie are about to be published with golden tickets in the back of the paperbacks.  Aw.  There was also some mention made of the Miss Honey Social Justice Award which, “recognizes collaboration between school librarians and teachers in the instruction of social justice using school library resources.” Awesome.  In my own life, I recently finished reading Danny, the Champion of the World for the first time in my life.  I’m feeling pretty good about filling that gap in my knowledge now.

Grosset & Dunlap

The Whodunit Detective Agency: The Diamond Mystery by Martin Widmark, illustrated by Helena Willis

Whodunit Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

A good early chapter book is hard to find.  And a good early chapter book from Sweden?  Much easier to find now that Martin Widmark is being brought over to the States in book form.  As a librarian of my acquaintance put it recently, this book apparently contains “A snappy little narrative that will have young readers saying, ‘I know who did it!’ right out loud.”  Little wonder since the original books sold two million copies worldwide and the author is sometimes referred to as the “Children’s Agatha Christie”.  Are you curious yet?

Dial

Ice Whale by Jean Craighead George

IceWhale Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

There are some authors that pass away and their posthumous novels go on and on and on until you begin to doubt that they ever died in the first place.  Tupac Syndrome would be a good description of this.  It tends to hit children’s authors quite often (see: Eva Ibbotson, Diana Wynne Jones, etc.) and was even mocked in a rather brilliant College Humor piece called I Think They’re Running Out of Material for New Shel Silverstein Books back in 2011.  All that aside, we were assured that this final Jean Craighead George novel really will be her last.  Two of her children finished it and I like that it has a kind of a Heart of a Samurai book jacket going on.  Set in Northern Alaska (the same location as Julie of the Wolves, for the record) the book follows an Inuit boy who learns to bond with a whale.  From the description it sounded like it would pair particularly well with Rosanne Parry’s Written in Stone from last year.  And as Travis Jonker pointed out in his recent post 2014: The Year of the Whale, this book is just a drop in the ocean of a much larger trend.

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

ThreeBearsBoat Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

Speaking of whales, here’s a book that gives them some full credit.  I was so blown away by this title when I first read it that I immediately had to rush out and review it without considering how long it would be before it actually reached publication.  Really, this is the book of the year for me.  If you read no other picture book, read this one.  It’s a stunner in the purest sense of the word.  Really remarkable.

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Raul Colon

PortraitsHispanic Librarian Preview: Penguin Books (Summer 2014)

And finally, a book that I would like right now please.  Please.  Right now.  What’s that you say?  It’s not coming out until August?!  Well who made up THAT crazy rule?  Look, I don’t care when it’s coming out, I would like to see this book in my lap pronto.  I mean, first of all, it’s art by Raul Colon.  I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention but the man’s been on fire this year.  Have you seen his work on Baseball Is . . . by Louise Borden?  Or how about the pictures in Abuelo by Arthur Dorros?  Now we have 24 of his portraits in, what Penguin described as, “tawny golden tones”.  Penned by 2012 California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, it covers the well known folks and the lesser know folks in equal degrees.  Admit it.  You haven’t seen anything like this before that came close to this level of quality.  It’s going to be for the middle grade crowd too, so bonus!

And that, as they say, is that.  There were plenty of other YA titles mentioned and even a guest or too, but I’ll quite while I’m ahead.  Thanks to Penguin for the preview.  Thanks to all of you for reading!

 

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46. Stamford’s First Little Free Library On Kickstarter

Little Free LibrarySteven Wood hopes to raise $400 to install the first Little Free Library in Stamford, CT.

As is the case with other similar street libraries, this structure encourages people to “take a book, leave a book.” By constructing a Little Free Library, Wood hopes to deepen the sense of community with his neighborhood. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“The finished project will look similar to the library that is pictured above. We will need to design and build this library from scratch. The library will hold enough space for approximately 20 or 30 books of various types for children and adults.”

continued…

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47. Free excerpt: The Chance You Won't Return, by Annie Cardi

The Chance You Won't Return by Annie Cardi Chapter Sampler by Candlewick Press

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48. Clint Smith Uses Spoken Word Poem ‘Memoir’ For Activism

What are your thoughts on immigration reform?

Clint Smith, a poet and a high school English teacher, decided to express his opinion in a poem. The video embedded above features Smith delivering a performance of “Memoir.”

In a Q&A with Food Politic, Smith talked about his inspiration for this piece: “‘Memoir’ wasn’t something I thought about until I had a student that said, ‘It doesn’t matter if I have a 4.0 and 2400 on my SATs. I don’t have a social security number so I can’t go to school.’ My poetry is me trying to reconcile my own life and opportunities I’ve had with opportunities my students aren’t given and how profoundly unfair that is.” What do you think? (via UpWorthy)

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49. Science/Social Studies Poetry Pairings - Geography

I have been teaching a course on integrating science and social studies for several years now. While I often get puzzled looks from folks when I try to explain the rationale behind this, the elementary teachers I work with recognize that this makes perfect sense. There is tremendous overlap between the science and social studies curriculum, particularly with respect to the topic of geography. 

Today's book pairing will help readers look at the world through the eyes of both scientists and geographers.

Poetry Book
A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme, written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Alison Jay, is a collection of poems about explorers, places on the map (Sandwich Islands, Italy, Angel Falls, Mount Everest etc.), the globe itself (latitude v. longitude, equator and the poles), earth science topics (aurora borealis, San Andreas fault, stalactites v. stalagmites), and many other things. It opens with a poem entitled Places and Names: A Traveler's Guide, in which a number of cities and sites with interesting names are named. The poem concludes in this way.
Thousands of spaces are places to be--
Discover the World of GE-OG-RA-PHY!

Travel by boat or by car or by plane
To visit East Africa, Singapore, Spain.
Go by yourself or invite a good friend,
But traveling by poem is what I recommend.
This is a wonderful book for introducing a mix of geography topics, as well as science topics like biomes, ecology and natural resources. Here's an example of a science-oriented geography poem.
How a Cave Will Behave 
Take a look at these cone-like formations,
And remember, wherever they're found,
A stalactite drips down from the ceiling.
A stalagmite grows up from the ground.
Poems ©J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.

There are also a few poems that encourage readers to think about their impact on the earth. The last poem entitled Walk Lightly asks that we make the Earth our companion.

Nonfiction Picture Book
Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest, written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins, is a book that examines extremes in the natural world, such as the highest mountain (based on elevation), longest river, place with the most extreme tides, the driest place on earth, and more. Here's how it begins.
If you could visit any spot on earth, where would you go? What if you wanted to see some of the most amazing natural wonders in the world? 
There are deserts that haven't seen rain in hundreds of years, and jungles where it pours almost every day. There are places so cold that even in the summer it's below freezing and spots where it's often hot enough to cook an egg on the ground. There are mountains many miles high and ocean trenches that are even deeper. You can find rivers thousands of miles long and waterfalls thousands of feet high.
Jenkins grabs readers from the first page and makes them want to know about them. On every double-page spread that follows is a statement of fact, an inset map showing location, a bit of informational text, and some other graphic to help readers visualize and better understand the information. Here's an example.
The world's highest waterfall is Angel Falls, in Venezuela. It is 3,212 feet high.
This text is accompanied by a small map and globe with a red dot highlighting the falls. The facing page contains this statement.
Angel Falls is more than seventeen times higher than Niagara Falls (180 feet), in New York State. Victoria Falls, in Zimbabwe, Africa, carries ore water than any other waterfall. It is 355 feet high.
Text ©Steve Jenkins. All rights reserved.

That's a lot of information packed into a few sentences. What ties all these ideas together is the final graphic that shows a height comparison of Angel Falls, Victoria Falls, Niagara Falls, and the Empire State Building. Placing these side-by-side shows just how high Angel Falls really is.

Okay, time for a little quiz. Do you know...?
  • the name of the world’s most active volcano?
  • the height of the tides in the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada?
  • the depth of the deepest spot in the ocean?
  • the location of the hottest spot in the world?
  • the location of the oldest and deepest lake in the world?
The answers to these questions and more can be found in Jenkins' handsomely illustrated book. There is no back matter in this volume, but the final page does include a world map that pinpoints the 12 locations described. 

Perfect Together
Both Lewis' poems and Jenkins' pages on extremes lend themselves to mapping activities. I highly recommend a permanent board (or a trifold if you lack space) with a world map in which students can place push pins or "markers" to identify locations studied. This works not only for these books, but also for places identified in current events and others books students read.

I also recommend laminating the map or placing a layer of plastic over it so that students can label and color areas of the map. For example, Jenkins writes about the hottest spot on the planet. Lewis has a poem entitled 136ºF in the Shade that describes the hottest day ever recorded in history. Lewis also offers up a rhyming couplet describing the size of the Sahara Desert and a poem on the Mohave Desert. While reading these poems, students can research other deserts of the world and color all of them on the laminated map. From here they'll be able to draw some conclusions about the characteristics of deserts and the geographic features they share.

Both of these books offer up a wealth of information that can and will keep students occupied over the course of the year. Just imagine what you can do if you devote one day a week to these kinds of geography/science activities.

For additional resources, consider these sites.

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50. Writing Lessons from the TV Show Dexter

I just got into the TV show, Dexter.

I never had Showtime before so I couldn't watch it and the entire 8 seasons is now free on Netflix. (woot woot! I know what I'll be doing over the summer.)

This is the. best. show. evah!

If I could write books like this - I would be a bestseller for sure!

I'm learning so many writing lessons from this show that I wanted to share:

Top 10 writing lessons from Dexter:

  1. Character arc - The character arc in each show let alone every season is amazing! Each character changes a little. in each episode.
  2. Dexter. The man perfect for this character - smart, hot, funny. So relatable that the whole serial killer thing is overlooked or accepted and you don't really know why or how it happened. :)
  3. Tension/Pace - Each chapter should have some tension or suspense. Even in books that aren't thrillers, you need to keep the reader turning the page. The suspense is killing me - every show has an amazing cliff hanger and i find myself saying "just one more episode."
  4. Voice - Each character should have his/her own voice. This is what makes each person special and relatable. Every character has their quirks, flaws and lovable moments.
  5. Character Development - Every character should be fully developed with backstory and motive. Each character from Dexter, to his sister Deb, to the "reborn cop" Angel, to the other forensic scientist, Vince. Each is unique.
  6. Villain - Your antagonist should be relatable. Not that Dexter is the antagonist but he should be. he's a serial killer yet somehow you root for him not to be caught.
  7. Setting. Your setting should invoke some emotion. Dexter is set in Miami. Everyone is always hot and sweating which adds anxiety to everything they do.
  8. Romance - Dexter started out awkward and has become more sexy as the shows go on. He's had a couple love interests but they were very purposeful in his character development which I find refreshing. It's not just love on the side. Each plays an important role in his arc.
  9. Reveals/Surprises. The reveals should be well placed and strategic. It all has to make sense in the end. So far they have done a brilliant job of reveals and I find myself going "I did not see that coming."
  10. Hook - You need a great hook as the foundation of any story. The idea of a serial killer killing bad guys is brilliant. 
You need to watch this show, esp if you are a thriller writer. The lessons are endless.

I heard there were Dexter books so I may check that out just to see how it plays out in the writing vs script.

Have you watched Dexter? What do you think? What is your favorite lesson from the show?

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