JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans. Join now (it's free).
Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.
Viewing: Blog Posts from the Industry category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 120,580
How to use this Page
You are viewing the most recent posts from blogs in the Industry category in the JacketFlap blog reader. These posts are sorted by date, with the most recent posts at the top of the page. There are hundreds of new posts here every day on a variety of topics related to children's publishing. Scroll down through the list of Recent Posts in the left column and click on a post title that sounds interesting. Click a tag in the right column to view posts about that topic. You can view all posts from a specific blog by clicking the Blog name in the right column, or you can click a 'More Posts from this Blog' link in any individual post.
I am writing to you because I believe you are unstoppable. And that this is a quality you try to instill in the young people you work with or influence.
On September 30, 2014, my new novel, Unstoppable Octobia May, will hit bookstores nationwide. On that day I would love you and/or the young people you influence to join me in shouting out to the world that they too are unstoppable by holding up the following sign, words, image:
I AM UNSTOPPABLE
If you and the young people you influence feel as if you’d like to show the world what skills make you/them unstoppable–while also holding up the sign–great! All this year I will be doing one thing or another as I try to get young people to express what makes them unstoppable.
In my novel Unstoppable Octobia May, a young girl is doggedly chasing down secrets as well as the truth regarding a boarder in her aunt’s boarding home. She is unstoppable and so are you and the young people you impact.
If you would like to join me in this effort, do let me know. On September 30th post your signs, etc. on Twitter and Facebook, create vines, have fun, all while making sure to include the following:
I Am Unstoppable
It is time we all let the world know just what we think of young people and what they think of themselves. Unstoppable! Determined! Powerful! That’s who they are. That’s who we want them to be.
Thanks. And do let me know if you plan to participate. And do pass this along!
Artist Jamie Hayes hopes to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter for New Orleans Pops Up. The funds will be used to cover the cost of printing this travel guide book.
With this book, Hayes will share history, personal stories, restaurant recommendations, and secrets about New Orleans. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:
“There will be lots of new illustrations designed specifically to ‘pop up.’ It’s going to be fantastic. It is not only a labor of love but quite different from printing a ‘regular’ book.”
Filmmaker Michael Almereyda has written and directed a film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play, Cymbeline. We’ve embedded the full trailer above–what do you think?
According to Indiewire, the cast includes Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris, Milla Jovovich, Penn Badgley, Anton Yelchin, John Leguizamo, Dakota Johnson, James Ransone, and Delroy Lindo. The movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival on September 3rd. A theatrical release date has been set for January 23, 2015.
Lisa here to introduce another amazing agent. But before I do I have some great news to share!
I'm thrilled to announce that I not only have an amazing new agent, Melissa Nasson of RPC, but also a multi-book publishing deal with Samantha Streger at Full Fathom Five Digital. And since we have even MORE good news coming up, and we LOVE to share with you, we will be having a contest to celebrate, so stay tuned for details!
Now I'm happy to introduce you to our agent of the week, Whitley Abell of Inklings Literary.
Whitley Abell joined Inklings Literary Agency in 2013. Before joining Inklings, she completed successful internships with Carol Mann Agency and P.S. Literary Agency. She is based in St. Louis, MO, where she daylights as a production manager for several medical and S & T journals. She graduated in 2011 BA in English and Creative Writing, and again in 2012 with a MAT in Secondary English Education, which basically means she can tell you anything there is to know about feminist literary theory and the Common Core Standards.
What is on your wish list?
A strong contemporary with literary leanings. Something along the lines of Nova Ren Suma's IMAGINARY GIRLS, Lauren Oliver's BEFORE I FALL, E. Lockhart's WE ARE LIARS, or Cammie McGovern's SAY WHAT YOU WILL
YA and Women's Romantic Comedies that make me laugh and swoon while still tackling a bigger topic, a la Stephanie Perkins, Jennifer Castle, Lindsey Leavitt, Jenny Han.
Historical. These were my favorite growing up, and I'm always craving a new perspective or a fresh voice in history. I'd especially love to a more literary historical (ex: CODE NAME VERITY, THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, BURIAL RITES) with a powerful story and really strong prose
Note: I'm not particularly interested in medieval times, which is what I see in my inbox mostly, and I don't really lump RECENT history (re: 1990s / 2000s) in my historical cravings. I get my love of history from my grandpa, so you can always grab my attention with the WWI and the 1920s/1930s, and I'm an absolute sucker for the 1940s.
A great psychological thriller. Bring on the unreliable narrator and the chills! I'd especially love to see a modern take on Henry James' A TURN OF A SCREW, but that's getting really specific.
Can you define voice for us?
This is so hard because voice is intrinsic and can't be taught. Voice is the author's style of writing, the quality that makes their writing unique, met with the tone with which the author has approached the story. It's the way the story is told. It's the rhythm of the words and the personality of both the author and the narrator showing through. It's the individual way of thinking, what you believe and how you form that thought, unprompted and uncensored. It is so intrinsic and so unteachable that it's difficult to describe and everything I think to say feels overreaching and yet not nearly enough. But to me, just as your "real" speaking voice is natural, and is often toned down or changed in various social situations, the voice in writing is the natural way in which the writer sets about telling the story, and I greatly admire authors who have the courage and the strength to let their natural voice shine through. You can't learn it, and you can't copy it (trust me, I've seen writers try), but you can hone it. Practice peeling all the untrue parts of yourself away and putting yourself, raw and bared, on the page. Listen to the way they sound, feel, taste, and find the rhythm that speaks for you and your characters.
Coffee, tea, wine, chocolate, or any other vices?
Tea (I drink green tea daily, but I'm absolutely addicted to Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Sunset black tea. Mmm, so good!)
Also, Bubble Tea... minus the "bubble" boba. Weird, I know. If you haven't tried it, DO IT. NOW. I highly recommend ginger milk tea, but my bff says I'm strange, and Chocolate Coconut tea with boba is the way to go. To each their own, I guess.
David Tennant. Need I say more?
Analyzing everything. The curse of a former english major and the bane of family dinners, but a definite plus as an editorial agent.
I'm totally with you on David Tennant! But back to business LOL! What advice do you have for writers getting ready to query you?
Don't be afraid! I really am a real person, the same as you, and I really want to like you and your work. Definitely don't be afraid to talk to me via social media. Talk to me about books, or Dr. Who, or what you should do while you're in St Louis. Challenge me with Harry Potter riddles or throw in your two cents about that article I shared. This isn't an invitation to spam me with info about what you're writing, but I love connecting with writers and putting a face and personality to a potential future client.
Keep in mind that the query letter is kind of like a business letter, yes, but it's okay to let your voice shine through. A well-written query can get me really excited for the pages.
Make sure you read over my submission guidelines, which are up both on my blog (http://whitleyabell.wordpress.com/submissions-2) and on Inklings website (http://www.inklingsliterary.com/Submission_Guidelines.html). For example, I don't open unrequested attachments, and I typically don't hunt down materials that should have been included in the initial query unless I'm completely blown away by your letter. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by forgetting to check. That said, if you forgot to include, say, your sample pages as pasted text, it's totally ok to send them as soon as you realize. Just make it clear that I should disregard the previous e-mail for the new query. I totally understand that we're all human and we all make mistakes.
Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability?
Emotion. Yes, marketability is important, but not as much so. If I recognize a story is marketable but I'm not emotionally invested, then I'm guaranteed to pass. But if I'm in love with a manuscript, I will fight tooth and nail to get it the deal it deserves.
Why did you become an agent?
I became interested in agenting because I love reading, and what could be better than a career spent reading books (because, you know, that's all agents do, right?). But I pursued it after interning because I love connecting with authors, working with them to strengthen their craft and helping them reach their goals. I love editing one-on-one with the authors, and being able to pick and chose and really dig into whatever sparks my interest. I love having the opportunity to champion the writers that I fall in love with in a way that literature classes and book clubs never really allow you to do, and to analyze the market (because, again, I love analyzing) and find clients' works the perfect home.
Last night, the biennial ALSC Institute kicked off in Oakland, California with a Happy Hour. Today, the Institute will really begin and attendees will be treated to an amazing assortment of programmingfocusing on youth services; presentations by an incredible line-up of authors including Jamie Campbell Naidoo, Tim Federle, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Rita Williams-Garcia, Gene Luen Yang, Steve Sheinkin, Mac Barnett, Daniel Handler, Jennifer Holm, & Andrea Davis Pinkney; and many, many, many networking activities.
For the next few days, we will not have our regular, daily posts on this blog. Instead, we will have multiple shorter posts each day. To make it easier for everyone to follow the excitement on Twitter, each post will include the hashtag #ALSC14.
A HUGE “Thank You” to the seven bloggers who have committed to writing short “micro-posts” throughout this Institute so ALSC blog readers can have a feel for what is happening in Oakland:
We hope you enjoy these snippets of Institute attendance over the next few days. We’d love to know what interests you about the ALSC Institute. What do you hope the live bloggers snap a picture of or write a quick post about? Let us know in the comments below.
“How I Got My Agent” is a recurring feature on the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, with this installment featuring Margo Kelly, author of the YA thriller WHO R U REALLY? These columns are great ways for you to learn how to find a literary agent. Some tales are of long roads and many setbacks, while others are of good luck and quick signings. If you have a literary agent and would be interested in writing a short guest column for this GLA blog, e-mail me at email@example.com and we’ll talk specifics.
GIVEAWAY: Margo is excited to give away a free copy of her 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).
Margo Kelly is a native of the Northwest and currently resides in Idaho. A veteran public speaker, she is now actively pursuing her love of writing. Margo welcomes the opportunities to speak to youth groups, library groups, and book clubs. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. She has September and October 2014 signings in Meridian, ID and Boise, ID. Margo’s debut novel is WHO R U REALLY (Merit Press, Sept 2014), a young adult thriller-suspense. Kirkus said of the book, “Kelly’s first novel is a suspenseful page-turner.”
A CHANGE IN CAREERS
In January, 2009, I decided I wanted to change careers and pursue a long forgotten dream of becoming a published author. Sound familiar? I purchased Janet Evanovich’s HOW I WRITE and Writer’s Digest’s GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS, and I began my research into the industry.
Six months later, I finished my first manuscript and I started sending out query letters. The rejections flooded in. I had tough skin. I knew rejections were part of the process, but one of the form letters pushed me over the edge. I struck a match and sent the rejection up in flames. (Yes, that was back in the days of snail mail.) Then I took a deep breath and went back to querying.
I also started writing my next manuscript. I read more books on the craft of writing, subscribed to magazines and journals that would help me better my skills, wrote flash fiction to tighten my story telling, and connected with two great critique partners that I met through online communities.
A year later, in August, 2010, I had finished my second manuscript and began to send out query letters. The requests for partials and fulls came in right away! I was so excited! But then rejections followed. I paid attention to the agents’ feedback, because I wanted to improve the story and make it saleable, but it was tricky, because while one said, “The main character is too naive” another said, “The main character sounds too adult.” I revised nonetheless.
I HEADED TO MY FIRST CONFERENCE
With a bright and shiny polished version of the story, I headed off to my first writers’ conference. I met up with my critique partner, Melissa, and we had an absolute blast. Plus, two agents at the conference requested my full manuscript, and I just knew one of these fabulous agents was going to offer me a contract. Yes-sir-ee!! I went home too excited to work on any writing. I was waiting to hear from the agents.
More than a month later, I sent very polite follow-up emails to the two agents from the conference. Both responded, explaining how busy they were (of course, I understood, I wanted them to take care of their current clients first, that made sense). But I was demoralized. I couldn’t seem to start a new manuscript. So I pulled out my first novel and dusted it off. I figured I could work on rewriting it and improving it until I found my writing mojo again.
Three months later, one of the conference agents emailed to tell me she’d decided to shelve my manuscript, unread. She was no longer looking for new clients. By the summer of 2011, the second conference agent emailed and apologized for the delay in reading my manuscript. She said the writing was great, but it didn’t excite her enough to offer me representation.
My tough skin had been broken, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue down this publishing path. Then I was diagnosed with a rare 12mm lesion in the middle of my brain. After a lot of time and money, the specialists decided there was nothing they could do about it. I had to reevaluate my life, my priorities, and my goals. What if my time was limited here on earth? How would I want to spend it? Through self-evaluation, I realized writing was still important to me, and as a result I refocused my efforts with great fervor.
11 MORE QUERIES
On November 11, 2011, I sent out eleven queries for my novel, WHO R U REALLY? A dream agent from my dream agency requested a partial the same day (it was a Friday). Monday, she requested the full. Wednesday, she requested a phone call. Thursday, we discussed ideas for revisions. I loved all of her suggestions, and my mojo exploded! She said if I could accomplish these revisions, she’d offer me formal representation. I wanted it! I got to work, and I was on fire! I sent her the revised manuscript about a week and a half later (I know, it sounds like I rushed it, but I’m telling you: I was ON FIRE!!). She read it right away and requested more revisions. I got right back to work. I was still excited about the process, and I was thrilled to think that someone had caught the “vision” of my story. While I was busy working on more revisions, she surprised me and mailed me a contract! YES! Not to mention, in the time I was working with her on revisions, other agents had requested partials and fulls. Out of respect, I contacted them to let them know I’d received an offer. One of the agents told me I’d be nuts to not accept the offer from this great agency.
On December 12, 2011, I signed with Brianne Johnson of Writers House. I’ve been smiling ever since, because I have the best agent from the best agency.
From there, we finalized revisions and made another title change before sending the manuscript out on submission. It took a while to sell, partly because the main character’s age put the story on the fence between middle grade and young adult. However, Jacquelyn Mitchard of Merit Press (an imprint of F+W Media) saw the “merit” in the story and made an offer. WHO R U REALLY?, will finally be published on September 18, 2014.
Now I’m polishing my next manuscript, and I’ve already started writing another. The publishing process certainly requires persistence and patience, but the future is so exciting.
GIVEAWAY: Margo is excited to give away a free copy of her 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).
Hello Kitty Crochet: Supercute Amigurimi Patterns for Sanrio Friends
Nothing will prepare you for the cuteness of this blog post, so if you think it might hurt you, please look away. If, on the other hand, you love Hello Kitty, and you love to make adorable crafts, then keep reading!
Hello Kitty Crochet, by Mei Li Lee, is a new book that teaches you how to crochet Hello Kitty, her friends, her family, and lots of other characters. There are instructions for making over 20 cute and cuddly crocheted characters. And each one is seriously adorable!
What do you think? Are you crying from the cuteness? Leave a Comment!
“How do I get my eBook on Amazon?”
“Do I really need both printed books and eBooks?”
“What price should I charge for my eBook?”
There’s never been a better time to be an author. It’s an oft-stated truth, as the digital technology driving the publishing revolution now enables creative people around the globe to develop and market content in truly unique ways. But with anything new and unfamiliar, questions are sure to follow:
“Can you help me design a cover for my book?”
“How much money can I make from my eBook?”
The stigma of failure that used to be associated with self publishing is a thing of the past.
Digital delivery systems such as Apple’s iBooks and Amazon’s Kindle bring your readers right to your doorstep. Gone too are the old barriers that kept self published authors from seeing their words in print. Digital printing and POD (print on demand) have expanded writers’ horizons. New mediums are being invented and old ones are being re-invented. New devices are being created at unprecedented rates.
“What’s an ISBN?”
“How can I distribute my book to Europe and other regions?”
With all the rapid changes in publishing swirling around, there’s another less-stated truth: there’s never been a more confusing time for authors, especially the ones who have chosen to self-publish. The process of taking your finished manuscript and putting it into the marketplace can be daunting for even the most tech-savvy author.
That’s one of the reasons why Blue Ash Publishing was created. We believe that self publishing doesn’t necessarily mean going it alone. Authors can rely on the resources of two publishing industry heavyweights – Writer’s Digest and BookBaby – who have the experience and knowhow to answer all the questions posed above – and then some!
The two companies that comprise Blue Ash provide everything an aspiring author needs to take their work directly to the marketplace. Blue Ash publishing packages are powered by BookBaby, so you can sell your eBook in the world’s biggest online bookstores — including Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and beyond. BookBaby is the sister company of CD Baby, the indie music powerhouse that’s helped musicians sell their music around the globe.
Meanwhile our writer’s resources are powered by Writer’s Digest, giving you access to their wealth of marketing and educational information. For more than 90 years, the experts at Writer’s Digest have been creating books, magazines, competitions, conferences and distance education materials for writers who want to polish their skills and hone their craft.
By providing answers to all your questions and taking care of the heavy lifting for all technology issues, we help writers concentrate on what they do best: Writing.
To help authors get a jump start on their self publishing efforts, we’ve put together a Blue Ash Publishing guide called:
Self Publishing 101 – The Quick Start Guide for Authors
It’s free to any author thinking seriously about pursuing the path of self publishing. The guide is available for download HERE.
Printz Honor-winning writer Kenneth Oppel and Caldecott Medal-winning artist Jon Klassen will partner to create a middle grade novel entitled The Nest.
The story follows a boy named Steve as he and his family navigates through the difficulties of caring for Steve’s sick baby brother. This will be the first time Oppel (pictured, via) and Klassen (pictured, via) collaborate on a book project.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers publisher Justin Chanda negotiated the deal with Writer’s House literary agent Steve Malk. Chanda will edit the manuscript. A release date has been scheduled for Fall 2015.
Summer is coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops! With cooler weather comes fun indoor activities, like catching a great jazz show. We asked Frank Morrison, illustrator of our new picture book biography, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, to share some of his favorite jazz numbers with us. Many of the artists below played or arranged with Melba Doretta Liston; others inspired Frank while he created his illustrations. So sit back with your cup of apple cider and let the rhythm carry you away!
John Coltrane: “Out of This World,” plus Coltrane’s albums The Inch Worm, Big Nick, and Giant Steps
Thelonious Monk: “Well, You Needn’t,” “Ruby, My Dear,” “Off Minor,” and “Bemsha Swing”
Dizzy Gillespie: “52nd Street Theme” and “A Night in Tunisia”
Miles Davis: “Freddie Freeloader,” “Round Midnight,” “Airegin,” and “Blue in Green,” plus Davis’s album Kind of Blue
Chet Baker: “My Funny Valentine”
Art Blakey: “Dat Dere,” “Moanin’,” “Blues March,” “The Chess Players,” and “Señor Blues” (performed with Horace Silver)
Abbey Lincoln: “Afro Blue”
Clifford Brown: “Daahoud,” “The Blues Walk,” “Jordu,” and “Parisian Thoroughfare”
Duke Ellington: “In a Sentimental Mood” and “Take the ‘A’ Train”
Stan Getz: “Corcovado” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
Louis Armstrong: “Summer Song,” “West End Blues,” and “I Got Rhythm”
Still can’t get enough jazz music? Here’s Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood.”
Have your own favorite jazz tunes? Leave ‘em in the comments!
The beloved principal of Lynnhurst Elementary School, Mr. Tanen, is known for his tie collection. Every morning when the children enter school they check to see what tie Mr. Tanen is wearing. He keeps a closet of ties in his office and changes his tie many times throughout the day. He might wear a tie to match his mood, or the weather, or for his official duties. His tie collection is endless!
One day during an important meeting with Mr. Apple at the School Department he is told that education is serious business and that wearing silly ties simply isn’t proper. Mr. Apple hands Mr. Tanen a blue tie and tells him he must only wear blue ties. Plain blue ties.
The students miss Mr. Tanen’s special ties, and soon it becomes clear that a plain blue ties make everyone feel “blue”. When Mr. Tanen calls in sick for a week, it’s Mr. Apple who fills in as principal. He has lots of rules and, of course, a plain tie. During recess, the students notice Mr. Apple bird watching and the next day someone gives him a tie with birds on it. At the end of the school day, Mr. Apple finds himself admiring his new tie and he decides to put it on. While at the grocery store, he gets compliments on his lovely bird tie. What a nice feeling! All the rest of the week, Mr. Apple chooses a special tie to wear from Mr. Tanen’s closet of ties. Mr. Apple finds himself smiling often.
When Mr. Tanen returns to work on Monday he finds Mr. Apple waiting with a tie box for him. Inside is another blue tie, but this one isn’t plain at all – it has #1 blue ribbon all over it. Ties most definitely make a difference at Lynnhurst Elementary School where no one is feeling “blue” anymore.
There is yet another happy ending to Mr. Tanen’s Ties, so you might just want to check this book out!
We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending September 14, 2014–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.
(Debuted at #5 in Children’s Interest) Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories by Dr.Seuss: “Seuss fans will learn more about Horton’s integrity, Marco’s amazing imagination, a narrowly avoided disaster on Mullbery Street, and a devious Grinch. With a color palette enhanced beyond that of the magazines in which the stories originally appeared, this new volume of ‘lost’ tales is a perfect gift for young readers and a must-have for Seuss collectors of all ages!” (September 2014)
HarperCollins Publishers has revealed plans for a new Holiday Express Shipping program to help support independent bookstores across the country during the holidays.
As part of the program, the publisher will ship all qualifying orders from participating stores that have been placed by 1:00pm (EST) out the next business day. If the titles are in stock, the books will be delivered within two business days. Reorders for HarperCollins and HarperCollins Christian Publishing titles are all eligible for this program.
Here is more from the press release: “New title laydowns will continue to ship by the established on-sale date for each title. November 3, 2014 and running through January 16, 2015.”
Pablo Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.” I wasn’t there when he said it, and I have no idea what he meant. He may have been in a bad mood. But I’ve always thought the statement sounded pretty cool. It makes the creative artist seem powerful and iconoclastic, smashing with the hammer of artistic vision the statues of conformity. As writers, we do have that power, if we’re willing to use it.
For our purposes, we’re going to use the quote to begin a discussion of destroying our initial idea. Sometimes the generative idea for a piece is more an avenue to richer ideas than an end in itself. At those times, we must be willing to let go of our initial premise. We have to explode the idea. In some ways, to echo Picasso, this is the first act of creation.
—by Jack Heffron
There are few comments more deflating than when your readers agree that your 25-page story “really begins on page 24.” We’ve worked hard on those first 23 pages. They’re honed and crafted and have a lot of good lines in them. And now we’re supposed to believe they’re a mere prelude to the real story? Sometimes the answer is yes.
At such times, we must remember that we wouldn’t have achieved the real start of the story if we hadn’t written what came before. Our initial premise led us to literary gold, even though now it must be discarded. I had this experience with a story I wrote a few years ago. It concerns a mother and daughter who are lost in Los Angeles, far from their Ohio home. I worked hours on extended dialogues between the characters and took great pains to deliver the exposition in an unobtrusive way. I had conceived the story much like a play, focusing on subtle shifts of character as the mother and daughter conversed. Near the end, two rough-looking guys enter the doughnut shop where the story takes place. My plan was to have a brief encounter with the men and for the foursome to leave together at the end. Several readers said they felt the story spark to life when the two guys enter. But that was at the end! This was a Beckett-like story of tightly woven dialogue, not some tale of women being picked up by truckers. Hel-loo. Tightly woven Beckett-like dialogue here. You folks are missing the point.
I let the story sit for some months. Then I read it with a fresh view. Then I reread the readers’ comments. They were right. My pages of tightly woven, Beckett-like dialogue were cut extensively. I now could see that much of it was self-conscious and tiresome anyway. The tension between the mother and daughter as they sat in a doughnut shop wasn’t enough to carry the story. After five pages or so, the story felt static. In the revised version, the men enter the doughnut shop on the top of page 2. The foursome is out the door by page 7. But those weeks of working the dialogue helped me get to know the mother and daughter, and my knowledge of them led to surprising turns in the revised story—turns I don’t know I’d have imagined if I hadn’t had such a rounded understanding of the characters.
When you find yourself in a similar place, listen to your readers. If only one reader advises to start with the ending, give the piece to a second reader or put it away for a while. Your first reader may be imposing her own vision of your story world and is stating the way she would handle the material. If a second reader offers similar advice, it’s worth considering. If the second reader says something more like, “It seemed kind of slow to me,” ask for specific places where it seemed most interesting. If the reader points to the place the first reader suggested to begin the story, you have a decision to make.
Lopping away a big chunk of story isn’t easy and requires consideration. Put the piece away and move on to a new one for a while. Give the piece at least a month to cool off. Set a date for rereading it. Put it on your calendar. The date will ensure you don’t read it sooner than is helpful, and it also reminds you the piece is waiting. We sometimes forget about our projects for so long that we have trouble bringing them back to life. And so the deadline works in two ways, making sure you don’t return too soon or wait too long.
When you return to the piece, note in the margins where it’s working and where it needs help. Are the readers correct in their assessment of the sections that could be cut or be significantly condensed? Read the piece again, beginning at the place where it might be made to start. Does it make a strong opening? What needs to be pulled from the cut material, and how much can be set free?
It takes a certain amount of courage to cut away pages of a project. Don’t forget to put these pages in an idea file or in a separate document—they may contain the seed of another idea. But when you’ve cut the pages, they’re gone. Don’t agonize over them or rationalize ways of returning them to the story.
Letting a piece go where it wants to go also can be difficult for us. Our initial premise dictates a certain structure, a clear narrative path. And yet, when a piece is well underway, it takes on a will of its own. I don’t talk a lot about characters taking over or telling the writer what to write. I’ve always found such talk a bit fallacious and self-aggrandizing, turning the creative process (and therefore, the creative artist) into an inspired genius in touch with mysterious forces beyond the powers of normal folk.
At the same time, I don’t agree with Nabokov’s famous comment about characters being his “galley slaves.” The creative process isn’t just a mechanized act of will, an application of learned techniques. Our subconscious minds, the mythmaking power of our imaginations, do come into play. Conscious craft and subconscious artistry unite in a piece, granting it a power we can’t always control. I don’t know that it’s a matter of characters taking over. I think it’s that, at some point, the story moves along its own path. It knows what it wants to be, even when we have different ideas about what it should be.
Creative writing is such an intuitive act that it’s tough to make this point in a concrete way. To recognize when you’re forcing a piece away from its natural course, look for places where it begins to sound awkward to your artistic ear. Do you find yourself, at some level, asking whether the character would really do that? Does a scene end with one character having the last word in a way that seems false? Does the analysis of a key event in your personal essay serve more to make you look innocent than to provide an authentic insight? Trust your instincts. Perhaps you’re working against your own piece. You’ve moved beyond your initial premise into territory you may not want to visit, but your uneasiness is suggesting you have to explode that generative idea and move on. Responding to that uneasiness, even consciously feeling it, requires spending enough time on a piece to really hear what it’s telling you.
At first, we may feel uneasy about an aspect of the piece in a faint way. We may feel it sometimes as we read, but at other times, it feels just fine. Sometimes it takes another reader to point it out, causing us to say, “I sort of wondered about that part. It never seemed quite right to me.”
For example, we’re trying to end a scene but nothing works, nothing feels like the natural place to stop. Whatever final lines we write don’t have the ring of finality. If you want to say that the characters have taken over, that they’ve decided they don’t want to stop talking, fine. I would phrase it more along the lines of the story asserting its own course. The falseness enters because we are sticking too closely to our idea of where the story must go. We say to ourselves, “This isn’t an important scene. It’s just a transition, taking me from this event to that event. I can’t spend 10 pages on a transitional scene.” And yet, something about that transitional scene remains unresolved. If we trust our intuition, we allow the scene to find its own resolution. Perhaps a better idea is emerging, but we stick stubbornly to our original concept of the piece, trying not to notice that something about the scene bothers us every time we read it. Something just doesn’t quite feel right.
Try not to see the need to explode your idea, blowing it up and beginning a new course, as a failure. It’s not. It’s another way of perceiving and building upon the possibilities of the original idea. The explosion creates all sorts of wonderful fragments that can be new ideas in themselves.
As in relationships, breaking up with an idea is hard to do. We try one strategy after another, but still the relationship isn’t working. We read books, surf Internet sites, seek counseling. Nothing helps. Something essential is missing, and all the advice and effort in the world won’t bring back the love you once felt. At some point, we need to tell the piece to sit down. We need to summon the courage to say, “Honey, we need to talk.”
As a result of my work with ALSC committee, Liaisons with National Orgs Serving Youth, I’d had high hopes that this year’s Dia Day celebrations would be well attended by Big Brothers Big Sisters “Bigs” and “Littles” across the country. I’d worked with my liaison at the org in the months and weeks leading up to Dia, our anticipation building, getting more and more excited as April wound slowly towards the end of the month. I’d even anticipated writing a blog post for ALSC featuring happy photos of Bigs and Littles participating in joyful parties celebrating multicultural books.
Please note the absence of aforementioned photos in this blog post.
While it’s possible that some Bigs might have taken their Littles to a Dia Day event, it definitely didn’t happen on the scale I’d imagined possible.
So, why did I choose to write about the experience of working towards a partnership initiative that essentially flopped? Because I think it’s important for us to reflect when programs fail, when kids don’t show up, or when the perfect book you picked for storytime turns out to be a dud with the audience. Go ahead and be bummed out, but don’t dwell on it, and don’t let it discourage you from trying again. More importantly, try to figure out what went wrong, and what you might do differently in the future.
In trying to identify why this flopped, here’s what I came up with:
I’d counted on most public libraries holding Dia Day events, and registering them with the Dia Day Event finder. They didn’t.
Dia Day events were scheduled for a variety of dates over a two-three week period, making it challenging to message (nationally) where/when events were scheduled (locally).
I definitely want to try again to get Bigs to take their Littles to Dia events in future years, and I think with some effort it’s possible that it can happen.
We spend a lot of time celebrating our successes – Let’s remember that we can celebrate our failures, too, as long as we learn from them!
What have you learned from programs or initiatives that didn’t go off quite as planned or expected? Did you revamp and try again? Please share in the comments!
Sylvie Shaffer is the Middle and Upper School Librarian at Maret School in Washington DC. In addition to her work with ALSC’s Liaisons with National Organizations Serving Youth, she is also a member of DC area notable book selection committee Capitol Choices and has enjoyed serving in its 10-14 reading group since 2009.
How do you survive as a psychology student? It might be a daunting prospect, but we here at OUP are here to give you a helping hand through three years of cognitive overload. Here are our top tips:
1. Do some essential reading before you start your degree! Psychology is a very broad subject, so build some strong foundations with a wide reading base, especially if you’re new to the subject. Check out our Essential Book List to get you started (and recommendations welcome in the comments below).
2. Stay up-to-date with current affairs. Psychology is a continually evolving subject, with new ideas and perspectives emerging all the time. Read blogs, journals, and magazines; watch TED talks; listen to podcasts; and scan newspapers for psychology-themed stories.
3. Always keep your eyes and ears open. University is your chance to learn beyond the classroom. Pay attention to life – just watching your favourite TV programme can give you an insight into how a theoretical concept might actually work. Use everyday events and interactions to deepen your understanding of psychological ideas.
4. Learn from everyone around you. Psychology asks questions about how we as humans think – so go and think together with some other humans! Compare and contrast different ideas and approaches, and make the most of group learning or other opportunities, like taking part in other people’s surveys or experiments. Joining your university psychology society is a great way to learn from your peers and to balance work with play.
5. Learn how to study independently. This is your chance to learn what you want, not what you have to. You will have much greater academic freedom than ever before. Wherever you choose to study, you will have to take on your own independent research, and if you see yourself building a career in psychology, then independent investigation is crucial.
6. Hone your note-taking / diagram-making skills. On your laptop, tablet, smartphone — or with paper and pens — you’ll be writing a lot of notes over the course of your degree. Referencing and formatting might not seem like the most exciting aspects of your degree, but good preparation and organisation will make them more bearable (and quicker!). Get to know how best you learn, remember and process information.
7. Get enough sleep. Sitting up late staring at textbooks and computer screens is easy, but it’s not the healthiest habit to get into. Studying well is less about the number of hours you put in, than how effectively you spend those hours. Keep up a balanced diet, stay hydrated, do regular exercise, and find someone to talk to if you’re feeling stressed.
8. Don’t be afraid to admit to your own weaknesses. Psychology is a demanding subject, and questions are more common than neat answers.
9. Try to enjoy your studies. There are many ideas to explore, from behaviour to dreams, memory to psychoanalysis. Keep looking at different topics that interest you to stay motivated. When it does get too much, don’t be afraid to step back and take a break.
10. Finally, remember what psychology is about. You can get lost in surveys and experiments, theories and concepts, but try to always keep in mind what drew you to psychology in the first place. In studying psychology you’re taking part in a great tradition of questioning how the human mind works and behaves – be proud of that.
Heading Image: Student. Photo by CollegeDegrees360, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr
Greetings YALSA members! I hope all your back to school activities have gone well, and that you’re enjoying busy libraries and packed programs. I’m sending along a combined July / August President’s report this time around, but will be back to monthly reports after this.
Attended ALA inauguration brunch following Annual 2014 closing Session
Conducted board orientation session for new board members
Conducted Board Development conversation regarding activities and duties of board standing committees
Finished appointments to 2016 Printz, Edwards, and Non-fiction committees
With executive Director, identified YALSA members to serve as liaisons or representatives to ALA Committees and Affiliate groups.
With YALSA Board, nominated YALSA representative for IFLA
Outreach and Media:
Spoke with Booklist, Christian Science Monitor, and Forbes about YA literature and genre trends.
Presented Future of Library services for and with Teens to Suffolk Cooperative Library System administrators .
Thanks to all the chairs, committee members, and board members who completed their terms on June 30th, 2014.
Thanks to all the members who attended the “Deciding” what’s next for YALSA” program at ALA Annual and provided feedback to help shape the next strategic plan.
September 2014 marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Over the next month a series of blog posts consider aspects of the ODNB’s online evolution in the decade since 2004. Here the literary historian, David Hill Radcliffe, considers how the ODNB online is shaping new research in the humanities.
The publication of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography in September 2004 was a milestone in the history of scholarship, not least for crossing from print to digital publication. Prior to this moment a small army of biographers, myself among them, had worked almost entirely from paper sources, including the stately volumes of the first, Victorian ‘DNB’ and its 20th-century print supplement volumes. But the Oxford DNB of 2004 was conceived from the outset as a database and published online as web pages, not paper pages reproduced in facsimile. In doing away with the page image as a means of structuring digital information, the online ODNB made an important step which scholarly monographs and articles might do well to emulate.
Database design has seen dramatic changes since 2004—shifting from the relational model of columns and rows, to semi-structured data used with XML technologies, to the unstructured forms used for linking data across repositories. The implications of these developments for the future of the ODNB remain to be seen, but there is every reason to believe that its content will be increasingly accessed in ways other than the format of the traditional biographical essay. Essays are not going away, of course. But they will be supplemented by the arrays of tables, charts, maps, and graphs made possible by linked data. Indeed, the ODNB has been moving in this direction since 2004 with the addition of thousands of curated links between individuals (recorded in biographical essays) and the social hierarchies and networks to which they belonged (presented in thematic list and group entries)—and then on to content by or about a person held in archives, museums or galleries worldwide.
Online the ODNB offers scholars the opportunity to select, group, and parse information not just at the level of the article, but also in more detailed ways—and this is where computational matters get interesting. I currently use the ODNB online as a resource for a digital prosopography attached to a collection of documents called ‘Lord Byron and his Times’, tracking relationships among more than 12,000 Byron-contemporaries mentioned in nineteenth-century letters and memoirs; of these people a remarkable 5000 have entries in the ODNB. The traditional object of prosopography was to collect small amounts of information about large numbers of persons, using patterns to draw inferences about slenderly documented lives. But when computation is involved, a prosopography can be used with linked data to parse large amounts of information about large numbers of persons. As a result, one can attend to particularities, treating individuals as members of a group or social network without reducing them to the uniformity of a class identity. Digital prosopography thus returns us to something like the nineteenth-century liberalism that inspired Sir Leslie Stephen’s original DNB (1885-1900).
The key to finding patterns in large collections of lives and documents, the evolution of technology suggests, is to atomize the data. As a writer of biographies I would select from documentary sources, collecting the facts of a life, and translating them into the form of an ODNB essay. Creating a record in a prosopography involves a similar kind of abstraction: working from (say) an ODNB entry, I abstract facts from the prose, encoding names and titles and dates in a semi-structured XML template that can then be used to query my archive, comprising data from previous ODNB abstractions and other sources. For instance: ‘find relationships among persons who corresponded with Byron (or Harrow School classmates, or persons born in Nottinghamshire, etc.) mentioned in the Quarterly Review.’ An XML prosopography is but a step towards recasting the information as flexible, concise, and extensible semantic data.
While human readers can easily distinguish the character-string ‘Oxford’ as referring to the place, the university, or the press, this is a challenge for computation—like distinguishing ‘Byron’ the poet from ‘Byron’ the admiral. One can attack this problem by using algorithms to compare adjacent strings, or one can encode strings by hand to disambiguate them, or use a combination of both. Digital ODNB essays are good candidates for semantic analysis since their structure is predictable and they are dense with significant names of persons, places, events, and relationships that can be used for data-linking. One translates character-strings into semantic references, groups the references into relationships, and expresses the relationships in machine-readable form.
A popular model for parsing semantic data is via ‘triples’: statements in the form subject / property / object, which describe a relationship between the subject and the object: the tree / is in / the quad. It is powerful because it can describe anything, and its statements can be yoked together to create new statements. For example: ‘Lord Byron wrote Childe Harold’, and ‘John Murray published Childe Harold’ are both triples. Once the three components are translated into semantically disambiguated machine-readable URIs (Uniquely Referring Identifiers), computation can infer that ‘John Murray published Lord Byron.’
Now imagine the contents of the ODNB expressed not as 60,000 biographical essays but as several billion such statements. In fact, this is far from unthinkable, given the nature of the material and progress being made in information technology. The result is a wonderful back-to-the-future moment with Leslie Stephen’s Victorian DNB wedded to Charles Babbage’s calculating machine: the simplicity of the triple and the power of finding relations embedded within them. Will the fantasies of positivist historians finally be realized? Not likely; while computation is good at questions of ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, and ‘when’, it is not so good at ‘why’ and ‘how’. Biographers and historians are unlikely to find themselves out of a job anytime soon. On the contrary, once works like the ODNB are rendered machine-readable and cross-query-able, scholars will find more work on their hands than they know what to do with.
So the publication of the ODNB online in September 2004 will be fondly remembered as a liminal moment when humanities scholarship crossed from paper to digital. The labour of centuries of research was carried across that important threshold, recast in a medium enabling new kinds of investigation the likes of which—ten years on—we are only beginning to contemplate.
I remember putting that 1st video up on Youtube, mortified by the yapping dog in the background and well-aware of how distracting for viewers who struggle to mask out background interference. Still, I knew if I didn't put up the video, flaws and all, I'd be waiting for perfection forever.
Fire ahead four light-years filled with growth for the series, me as the Plot Whisperer and personally. On the anniversary of that first video, the number of views onPlot Whisperer Youtube channel crossed over 200,000.
My birthday present to the series and to you and writers everywhere is a spruced up version of the series. The 27 steps remain the same. This time, no distractions + one plotting exercise per a video.
Many of my ideas -- good, bad, and otherwise -- originate while I’m exercising, and Modern First Library was among these.
One evening this past winter, while my wife, fellow author Jennifer Ziegler, and I were walking our dog, I bemoaned an article I’d read about an independent bookseller’s baby gift registry.
Of the classic picture books mentioned in the article -- through no fault of the store, I’m assuming -- the newest one was published during the first Nixon administration.
We’re in a pretty terrific era for picture books. You might even call it a golden age, and I’ve been working for years to try to contribute to it myself. But how, I griped, was the general book-buying public going to know about contemporary standouts such as I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Candlewick, 2011) if major media outlets so readily reinforce shoppers’ tendencies to look to their own youth -- or even to earlier decades -- for the books they give as gifts to modern kids?
If only, I thought, there was some way to leverage the public’s interest in buying the tried and true into the purchase of classics and contemporary titles. I wasn’t interested in just shifting sales from old to new -- booksellers and kids alike would benefit a lot more if those parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and godparents and family friends bought two picture books instead of just one.
Our walk ended, and that was as far as it went. But not for long.
A widespread urge to Do Something About This led to lots of conversations among authors, editors, librarians, and other champions of children’s literature. It led to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.
And it led me to email Meghan Goel, the children’s-book buyer at my beloved local indie BookPeople, to discuss a new spin on the notion I’d had on that recent walk.
Wait -- email Meghan in what capacity?
As an author? Yes, but also as a BookPeople customer, and as a dad, and as a member of the community. Of various communities, in fact, large and small.
What’s important is not whether I felt especially qualified to lend my voice but rather that I had an idea that I thought might be worth trying and I decided not to keep it to myself.
Sharing an idea was the least I could do.
Here’s what I emailed, under the subject line “Getting past Goodnight Moon”:
Hey there, Meghan,
Like apparently half of everyone I know, I've read the Myers' New York Times essays with tremendous interest. And those essays sparked a diversity-encouraging idea that I wanted to run past a bookseller or two before I get too enamored of a notion that may be either entirely unoriginal or totally unworkable or both.
My sense is that there a lot of gift-giving adults whose familiarity with picture books doesn't go far beyond the likes of:
Would there be an effective way to encourage these adults to buy the classic titles they have in mind and a new picture book that reflects the modern, diverse world that the recipients inhabit? And could such an effort be widespread and long-lasting enough that it could reward publishers for doing a better job of making good on their good intentions?
Am I nuts? A simpleton? Both -- and way off base, to boot?
I'd love to know what you think.
“I love this idea.”
Right away, she came up with the name “Modern First Library.”
Meghan suggested partnering with a small but diverse group of other authors whose voices on behalf of such a program might make it more successful. And she thanked me for reaching out to her.
We worked together to come up with a list of other authors we wanted to have involved. We tossed around ideas for great, vibrant, fun contemporary titles that we ourselves would want to have as the foundation for a child’s first collection of picture books alongside the established classics.
All the while we kept in mind the need for a program that would work specifically for BookPeople -- for its staff, its available space for in-store and online promotion, and local tastes and demographics -- while being potentially repeatable by indie booksellers in other communities.
We didn’t rush into anything, even as the conversation about diversity in children’s literature remained a passionate one within the publishing and bookselling industries.
By the time our planning was done and the program launched the first week in July, Modern First Library consisted of a simple in-store display of both standalone titles and starter sets of similarly themed books, plus an online campaign that soon began featuring insightful, inspiring blog posts by locally based and nationally established creators of books for children and young adults.
Let me tell you, it feels great to know that young readers will be receiving selections from Modern First Library as gifts this year.
I stop by the Modern First Library display, just to admire it, every time I’m in BookPeople. Seeing it makes me glad all over again that I reached out to Meghan rather than assume I had no part to play in addressing the dearth of diversity in children’s literature.
And considering that all this began with my wife and me walking the dog, it’s certainly provided positive reinforcement for us to keep on getting plenty of exercise.
In all sorts of ways, this entire experience has been a gift in itself.
October 21, Tuesday at 2:00 PST: Three Free Tools for Your Writer’s Toolbox: CreateSpace, Inkscape, and Teachers Pay Teachers
*Introduction to the benefits of using each of these tools. Whether your book is for kids or adults, you can publish your own book for free on CreateSpace. You can create marketing products for free on Inkscape such as printable bookmarks or teacher’s guides, whether your book is for kids or adults and whether you self-published it or have it published with a traditional publisher. Then you can upload and post your marketing products on Teachers Pay Teachers so that teachers (whether for kids or adult learners) can use your books in their classrooms. This is geared for advanced writers, but beginning writers can learn a lot, too.
IMPORTANT: The week before the class, be sure to sign up a free account for each of these programs and download the free Inkscape program. You can certainly listen to the teleclass without doing so, but if you want to click links and try out buttons along with the rest of us, it will be best (and more fun!) to sign up ahead of time. Here are the links:
550 dressed up Jane Austen fans came together for a Guiness World Record-breaking event during the Jane Austen Festival.
Organizers claim that this group has become the largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costume. The current record stands at 491 people. The event took place outside of the Assembly Rooms in Bath, Somerset.
Here’s more from The Telegraph: “When the announcement was made, cheers were heard around the tea rooms inside the Assembly Rooms, with the town crier calling out the results…Every year, thousands of people flock to the city from all over the world for the event, coming from over Europe and even as far as America. The event was part of the 10 day festival’s programme of activities which is a big tourist attraction in the city.” What do you think?
The National Book Foundation has revealed its Longlist for the 2014 National Book Award for Nonfiction for the National Book Award (NBA).
Below, we’ve collected free samples of all the books on the longlist for your reading pleasure. The finalists will be announced on October 15. Here’s more from the release:
The Nonfiction Longlist includes the first cartoonist to be honored by the National Book Awards in the adult categories (three graphic novels have been Finalists in the Young People’s Literature category), a Pulitzer Prize Winner, and several distinguished historians. (more…)