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Results 1 - 25 of 231,806
1. The Pony on East 88th Street

Walking up East 88th,
I had to smile in shock;
A saddled pony was parading
Up and down the block.

A little girl astride his back
Looked bored or else blasé,
Like a pony on the sidewalk
Happened every single day.

As the other children waited
Patiently to take their turn,
I reflected on the lesson
That those kids would likely learn:

When you’re living in Manhattan,
You will come to realize
That each day has the potential
To deliver a surprise.

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2. Outdated Slang

Make sure you're not accidentally using slang words in your YA that will date your novel.


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3. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

The Lie Tree begins with a gloomy, wet boat journey to a gloomy, wet island in the English Channel.  Fourteen-year-old Faith Sunderly, our protagonist, is moving with her family to the Isle of Vane, so that her father, the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, can consult on an archaeological dig.  It's the 1860s, and amateur natural scientists like Erasmus are grappling with the new, controversial theory

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4. Work of the Day - Aerial Acrobatics by Julia LaSalle

Litro: Stories Transport You is a site that is new to me. I've read a couple of the works there now and think that maybe a touch more editing could be employed (some spelling issues, or homonym issues, for one thing---and tense changes that shouldn't be there slipping in) but I've liked the works that I've read so far. One of which is Julia LaSalle's "Aerial Acrobatics."

An early line, "He was standing under the “34th Annual Model Airplane Contest” banner...", brought this reader to life as it let me know that LaSalle was taking meto a place I'd not been before--neither in real life, nor in my readings. The story also brought shipyard welding into play--another aspect of life I've never encountered physically or in my readings.

In both instances, LaSalle got just deep enough into the subject for me to feel like I understood what was going on, but not so much that I felt like I was being lectured on the topic. There's a nice little thread throughout the story about the narrator's heart running alongside her narrative, and I found myself really liking the ending:  "She watched Mustafa work until she trusted him, watched him until she became a spark herself, flying through the air, first rising then falling, and finally sputtering as her spark-self bounced once on the rubber mat by Mustafa’s foot and extinguished." I'll definitely be looking for more of Julia LaSalle's work in the future and remembering to visit Litro as well.



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5. First Fox Sighting in 2016

I collected the SD cards from the trail cameras this past weekend.  I had my fingers crossed the whole way down and back, hoping for some fox footage.

And I got lucky.  There was only one video  and this is it . .. .


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6. Too much, if any, backstory allowed...

Hello, sir. May I have your thoughts on backstory, please? Is devoting most of the first chapter to backstory unwise? Would doing that turn off an editor

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7. vinylfromthevault: We’ve been doing a significant amount of...


We’ve been doing a significant amount of reorganization over at the Vault and in the process I stumbled across a folder for which I’ve been searching for years. In it I found the results of a dot matrix printed Duran Duran survey I wrote for a Duranie party hosted sometime during 1985 by my friend Allyson (her survey is the second pictured above - she loves John - and helpfully gave me suggestions for revamping the survey which I must have done at some point). The girls who filled out these surveys were between 13-15 years old, which is fairly obvious when you read them. I cannot believe I said I didn’t like Power Station! (Mine is the first one pictured - I love Simon! I think I was just pissed at John and Andy for temporarily leaving Duran Duran). And that my friend Angela (she’s the one who likes Andy) doesn’t like Arcadia but loves Power Station (probably for the same reasons as me). The nicknames that we chose! That was TOTALLY a thing - choosing special Duranie names to call ourselves and finding Duranie penpals so we could write to other nuts like ourselves from around the world.

The last two scans are the list of Allyson’s Duran vinyl collection as of September 4th, 1985. Impressive! I was hardcore jealous of her albums, especially the 12″ singles.

A few years ago, I co-wrote an article for The Awl with my friends Sarah and Allyson about the Duran Duran party that Allyson hosted in 1984. The article mentioned surveys we’d filled out the night of the party as well as an epic mix that Sarah and ALlyson created one feverish weekend, and other important artifacts considered long-lost. I’M SO GLAD THESE IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN UNEARTHED!!!

My survey is the third one down. It says that John is my favorite member, which is strange because it was almost always Nick Nick Nick Nick Nick. The heart is fickle!

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8. फिल्मफेयर अवार्ड और दीपिका पादुकोण के पिता का पत्र

फिल्मफेयर अवार्ड और दीपिका पादुकोण के पिता का पत्र इसे कहतें है असली मन की बात … दिल से निकली बात अक्सर दिल पर ही लगती है… फिल्मफेयर अवार्ड्स कार्यक्रम में  पीकू फिल्म के लिए सर्वश्रेष्ठ अभिनेत्री का अवार्ड लेने स्टेज पर आई दीपिका पादुकोण ने भरी सभा में सभी दर्शकों से अनुरोध किया कि […]

The post फिल्मफेयर अवार्ड और दीपिका पादुकोण के पिता का पत्र appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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9. Take What Your Stories Give You

Big Believer in Boom Factor

I've written about the martial art of writing. I've done martial arts and I noticed that writing is like it in this way: you have to do a lot of things at once without thinking when you write. You can do this because you've studied each skill separately and because you've practiced a lot. I still think this is true. But I was thinking as I walked Merlin the dog

(which is where I do some of my best thinking, such as it is, which is why one of my best pieces of advice for becoming a writer is that you get a dog and that you walk your dog) that even though I now pre-write more than I used to and plan --as I'm working along but still--a lot more than I used to, I STILL DISCOVER new connections and twists and turns in plot and character and new setting ideas as I go along. I think this is because it's the mix, the way the various elements of writing interact  (language, characters, story, setting, conflict) and the way this creates new  insights and new--the technical term is BOOMS--BOOMS in the manuscript. You have to allow this to happen, throw out all your plans and plotting and whatever when it does. Because these booms--or sometimes just tiny and subtle shifts--help you to take your story to places you couldn't have imagined until you do-

To me, this is why formulas do not solve all writing problems as their proponents sometimes claim. It's a big reason why fiction writing can't be reduced to Step 1, Step 2...there's this constant interaction and it creates NEW. The writer has to react to NEW. If she/he does it well, finds the right moves, the manuscript improves. If not--

Learning skills, practicing skills will help you make those right moves but you have to be open to taking what your story gives you, too.

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10. Monday Mishmash 2/8/16

Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Blues Bones Cover Reveal  I couldn't be more excited to share the cover of Blues Bones by Rick Starkey because this is the first book I offered on as an acquisitions editor for Leap Books, Seek. It's an AMAZING story, and the cover is just as awesome. Check it out and preorder the book here for a special discounted price. The book releases March 7th.
  2. Into the Fire's New Cover  Into the Fire's new cover has been revealed as well. This book has been heavily edited AND new content has been added. I'm really happy with the end result and think readers will be too. For now, check out my gorgeous cover designed by Deranged Doctor. And thank you to everyone who participated in the social media cover reveal this weekend.
    Preorder it here.
  3. Editing  More client edits and edits for Leap this week. :)
  4. The S-word  No, I don't mean spring, though I wish I did. I'd like snow if it was warm and melted within a few hours. ;) We're getting two storms this week and I'm not thrilled.
  5. Drafting  Because my editing schedule is crazy, I got an idea for another adult romantic suspense. Of course! So I'm literary jotting down snippets of dialogue and scenes while cooking, lying in bed at night, and any other time when I can spare a few minutes.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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11. One Writer’s Process: Gigi Amateau

Surrounded by deer, foxes, raccoons, and a host of other forest creatures who inhabit the woods near her house, Gigi Amateau lives on a tributary of the James River called Rattlesnake Creek and finds inspiration for many of her stories by looking out the window or taking a walk down to the river. “I cannot imagine living or writing without access to the river,” says Amateau, the author of

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12. Save Our Libraries

I've had a crazy busy week.  My debut novel, More of Me, has been pushed into the world with a lot more ease than my babies were. Kind Of. The gestation period was considerably longer but the delivery a whole lot less painful. In fact, it was kind of wonderful. My friends and family ensured I had two sellout book launches and my publicists at Usborne have been shouting about my book from the rooftops. I've had some amazing reviews , so much so I can barely believe it's all happening. So, to ground myself firmly back on earth,  you'll be pleased to know I am  not going to talk about my book.

  If you want to read about the launch it's all here  but first...

I'm going to talk about libraries. 

I love libraries. A lot of authors do. In fact, very many notable figures are a major part of the campaign to Save Our Libraries because they are seriously under threat from financial cutbacks. Cathy Cassidy is a stalwart of the campaign, as is Philip Ardagh. 

Ah ha! I hear you say, of course authors want to keep libraries, they are rolling in cash from all the loans. Well, not exactly. Authors currently receive just over 7 pence per loan and the full amount you can receive is capped. No author is going to become a millionaire from public lending rights money, even fellow SCBWI member Paula Harrison whose Rescue Princesses books were borrowed almost 50,000 times last year! - in fact you need around 85,000 loans to take you to the current cap. I shall let you do the maths.

It is indeed a useful income supplement for authors whose average incomes have dropped to below £11,000 per year but not, you will agree, champagne and caviar money.

So why do authors keep gathering together and banging on about saving libraries? Surely they'd be far happier if everyone went out and bought the books?  Well...

No. Because most authors write to be read and the more people who read them, the better. And most authors understand that not everyone can afford a houseful of books and that not all children are born into households where books are considered important. If you want equality of education, of development, you need libraries. If you want all children to have access to the same level of resources, at the very least, you need libraries. If you want any kind of fairness in society, you need libraries.

Nick Gibb, our current minister for schools says: “Reading for pleasure is more important than a family’s socio-economic status in determining a child’s success at school,” 

Children learn so much from books. Books don't just inform us of facts, or teach us how to express ourselves, children who read become better empathisers as Natascha Biebow eloquently explains  on Picture Book Den. Books can comfort and distract older children from anxiety.  They can help them understand the hugely complex world they are growing up in.

 I know there are many adults that also rely on library services but three out of the top five library loans in 2015 were children's books. Go and visit the children's section in your local library  You'll maybe see mum's and toddlers for story time - brilliant for mum's to make contact with other mums, brilliant for kids to hear stories. You'll see teens in corners checking out whether they really want to read the book whose cover looked so attractive - or furtively checking out the guides to being a teenager. You might catch a few newly independent readers excitedly looking for the next Paula Harrison or Cathy Cassidy or Philip Ardagh book.  I can guarantee you, the library matters to those kids - to all teh people who use them:.

I was very lucky, I came  from a house where we did have books - not a huge number, there were four of us kids and not a lot of money, but I always had a book for Christmas and my birthday or if the book fair came to our school -  and  my Mum made sure we got into the library habit. Once a week, off we went - and I never lost that habit. I grew up in Portsmouth library. The books I wolfed down informed the writer I am today.  They really did.

I can trace the influences of all the classics: Hardy, Dickens, Bronte ( all three), Austen, Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, Frank Herbert - my appetite was voracious. Even if we'd have been a rich family, my parents wouldn't have been able to keep up. There are still kids  like me using libraries. They don't all have a kindle - the just don't. I'm sorry,  but you're a twit if you think they do.

So please, if you want a fair, informed, empathetic, equal society - back our libraries.

You can find out more on the Library Campaign Website. 

Kathryn Evans also blogs on My Life Under Paper and you can follow her mood swings on twitter: @mrsbung    Her debut novel, More of Me, is out now.

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13. Day 7: Ekua Holmes


Photo credit: Clennon L. King

Before making her debut as a children’s book illustrator, Ekua Holmes was already an accomplished and award-winning fine artist. She was the first African American woman to be appointed a commissioner on the Boston Arts Commission. She was the recipient of a 2013 Brother Thomas Fellowship from The Boston Foundation for her contributions to the Boston arts community. In addition, she was the creator of a 2015 Google Doodle honoring the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday!


Last year, Holmes took the children’s book world by storm with her illustrations in Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. The book went on to receive numerous awards, including a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrator’s Original Art exhibition, four starred reviews, a Sibert and Caldecott Honor, and a Coretta Scott King New Voices Award.

Holmes is a painter and collage artist who uses news clippings, photographs, vibrant gunnamed[1].jpgcolor and skillful composition to infuse her work with energy.

Presenting Ekua Holmes:

Tell us about your path to publishing. How did you get that first trade contract?

My path to publishing seemed to appear out of the blue. One day I got a call from a woman who had seen my work at an Open Studios event in my hometown of Roxbury, a neighborhood of Boston, MA. They asked would I be interested in working in Children’s literature. Would I ??? YES! I have always loved Children’s books and in the back of my mind held it as a possible path for my work. At exhibitions of my work people would say, “Have you ever thought about doing Children’s books.” I believe children’s books introduced me to art through the illustrations. Long before I went to museums and galleries, I went to the library. At the time of the call, I didn’t know if anything would come of it but I was pleased that there was interest.

Tell us about your most recent book, “Voice of Freedom.”

Months later the same woman called to say that her company, Candlewick Press, had a manuscript for me to consider—a manuscript about Fannie Lou Hamer. I knew about her role in the Freedom Summer, and her signature statement, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I admired her and was honored to be asked to illustrate her story. I said YES! What a blessing.


Talk about the research process for the book.

Well first things first—reading the manuscript— again and again! Then images began to come into my mind – colors, patterns, shapes, faces.  After that, I started doing online searches. One search led to another and I was able to find images of Ms. Hamer from the 60s. The manuscript is so rich! It chronicles her life from the age of six to her 70s. Of course there were no early photos. Her family was too poor for that. So for the early years, I had to imagine her as a child. What did she look like? How did she wear her hair? What was her demeanor? Where did she live? I read books and articles about her. I read comments written by people who had worked with her in the movement. I listened to tapes of her speaking and singing. I looked at photos of her hometown. I immersed myself in her world.  Another smart thing I did was engage a college student to help me collect the books and information from various sources. She was so helpful (thank you Chianta).


Google Doodle by Ekua Holmes

Talk about the medium you use in your work

I primarily use collage techniques with acrylic paint. Collaging is basically glueing things onto a surface – photos, newspapers, lace- whatever helps to tell the story. My work is made of cut and torn paper and paint. I am also a proud and committed thrifter. I am always at the flea markets and thrift stores picking up things that speak to me. Just as I was about to work on the image of the doll Fannie Lou Hamer’s mother bought for her, I ran across these two old handmade dolls at a thrift store in Salem, MA. They seemed to be just the kind of dolls that Fannie Lou Hamer would have received from her Mother. They were so authentic! It was as if the universe had provided just what I needed.

Was there anything especially interesting that you learned about the subject while researching the book?

Fannie Lou Hamer was 45 years old when she started her Voting Rights work. Because of her upbringing, experiences and intellect, she was ready when it was her time to step onto the world stage. She was a devoted mother and daughter, committed wife and staunch believer in the word of God. She knew the battle was bigger than her, bigger than any human being. It was a righteous struggle and right had to win.  She never said, I’m too old, too tired, too poor- I’m inspired by that.

If you could spend one day in a studio, working with any artist — past or present — who would that be, and why?

What I would really enjoy is going thrifting with them, so artists like Whitfield Lovell, Radcliffe Bailey, Rene Stout or Bettye and Alison Saar. Oh and Nick Cave! They have the same affinity for the power of found objects. WE could spend the entire day (or days) driving through the South (or new England) visiting garages and barns, finding just the right items to inspire our work.

What would be your dream manuscript?


I like to think it’s on its way to me right now. Stay tuned.



Your dream author to work with?


Its funny, there is not as much communication between author and illustrator as you might think. Generally the publisher selects the illustrator (but does get the writer’s approval, I think). So I feel very fortunate to have worked on this book by Carole Boston Weatherford, who has written over 30 books and won many awards. Now I’m working on a book of poetry created by Kwame Alexander – another powerhouse writer/poet and winner of the 2015 Newberry Award. I couldn’t be happier.




Can you talk a bit about your process of illustrating a book?


This was my first time illustrating a book but I think it’s much like working on my personal collages. Research is crucial. I saturate myself in the author’s words (or subject) and allow images to rise to the surface. I sketch and revise, sketch and revise. Each time hoping to get closer to what I feel is the right composition. There is a lot of looking, thinking and moving things around.




Who are your cheerleaders, those who encourage you?


My partner and I are both artists (he’s a filmmaker). We give each other a lot of high fives. He is very proud of me right now.  Also my 8-year old granddaughter introduces me by saying “…and this is Nana, my artist.” Once she patted me on the head while saying this. I couldn’t have been more amused or flattered. If I can work on books that she and her generation will cherish, I will have everything I need in this world as an artist.




What’s on the horizon, what can your fans expect to see from you?


Winning a Caldecott Honor, a Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award and a Robert F. Sibert Award for “Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement” is a hearty and magical welcome into the world of Children’s literature. I look forward to illustrating many more books. Folks can expect me to do my absolute best on each story, striving for creative excellence so that the illustrations I make will complement, illuminate and enhance the texts —it’s a collaboration. And after all—my granddaughter is watching.

–Don Tate

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14. Found While Googling Myself

I was Googling myself, as you do, when I found the above. Apparently it came out last year, written by a university academic from Deakin uni, and it spent a couple of pages on my novel Wolfborn. Like other academic tomes it would cost $$$ to buy and even the ebook cost about the price of four paperbacks. So I decided to see if the State Library had a copy and take a look before deciding to order a copy for myself.

I went today, after work, and sat down in the Redmond Barry Reading Room with my prize. If I'd been there on a weekend I might have curled up with it in a corner and read the lot, but I was tired and had to go before the library closed, so I settled for a browse through the pages about my favourite writers - and, of course, the pages about me. 

I hadn't heard of all the authors, though, as a passionate children's/YA reader and librarian, I had heard of a fair few. And I must say, first, that I'm flattered to be one of only two local writers among those I did know. The other was Catherine Jinks, for her novel Pagan's Crusade - I didn't get around to checking the section on Saving Thanehaven, but it's an unusual choice, as the novel is set inside a computer game, some bits of it based on the author's own space horror novel. I would have thought that Anna Ciddor's Viking Magic novels would get a mention, and the Quentaris series, but  one can't read everything.

In fact, there may have been a few too many books crammed into a rather small volume as it was. 

And my book got two pages, while Tolkien got about two paragraphs and it wasn't The Hobbit, it was Lord Of The Rings. Susan Cooper was there, of course, but not for The Dark Is Rising, but for The Boggart. Now, The Boggart is a beautiful book, but The Dark Is Rising is her masterpiece, which will become a classic. And it had Merlin in it and many references to history and folklore, whereas the mediaeval connections in The Boggart were slight. 

The section about my book was in a chapter on monsters. There was a section in the same chapter on Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely and other urban fantasy. I suppose it fitted into the theme because the fairies it involves are traditional, the stuff of folklore. Melissa Marr is also a university academic, I believe, and her research for that series was thorough. I was just finishing Wolfborn when I read WL and was fascinated by her bibliography, which was similar to mine. 

So, what did she have to say about Wolfborn? I couldn't help feeling, by the wording, that there was a somewhat disapproving  sneer under the academic speak. More than once she reminded her readers that my characters were aristocratic and the character who was executed in the first scene was a peasant(and, it was implied, it was unfair, dammit!). Well, yes. But the boy who is executed in my prologue isn't killed for being a werewolf, which isn't illegal in the Kingdom of Armorique, but because in his wolf shape he had killed a child. He would have been executed if he'd done that in human shape. And my hero Etienne's father says it would never have happened if the boy's werewolf father, a wandering mercenary, had been around long enough to teach him and take him off to learn the trade. He regrets having to give this order, but feels he has no choice. 

Etienne had to be an aristocrat because if he was, say, a pot boy in the castle kitchen, he would never have got as close to his master as he did in this book and would certainly never have married his daughter. 

But the point I make in the novel is that most werewolves are aristocrats because they're more likely to be able to hide it and less likely to be murdered by a mob. For example, the heroine of The Sword And The Wolf, my WIP, is a peasant (born) werewolf who has managed to survive her childhood, though everyone knew about her father, because her mother was the local wise woman, too useful to annoy; soon after her mother's death, the girl has her first skin change during an attempted rape by village louts and has to flee. She is no longer welcome in the village. However, after living alone for a while, she accidentally releases a Merlin-like wizard from a tree with the earth magic she is practising and then gets involved with aristocratic things as she accompanies her new teacher on a quest to find the prince who went missing when the wizard's previous apprentice locked him away. Sorry, but you just can't do an exciting adventure purely centred around mediaeval peasants and their surroundings! Well, maybe you can. I offer this as a challenge for anyone who would like to try. 

The author of the academic tome says that the werewolf knight's wife is "packed off to a women's community". Wrong. She goes at her own request - conveniently, I admit, but the author of this book never says that - because she really doesn't feel that she can handle any longer being married to a man who frightens her because he isn't quite human. The women's community(read "convent") is run by a relative and is rather like Hildegard of Bingen's community, where she will finally be able to get an education. 

Still, anything on which academics get their hands is running the risk of being misinterpreted and it's quite exciting to have been mentioned in a non fiction book. I am still in two minds as to whether I will buy a copy. But I will certainly go back, perhaps during the next term break, and read the book in full at the library. It's a slender volume that I could read in about two hours

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15. Writers Coping with Stress…

No one in life gets a free pass on stress. It’s like our shadow, following us around, sometimes huge, sometimes small, and thankfully sometimes not there at all. We writers face stress all the time in the form of looming deadlines, writer’s block, research, misbehaving characters, editing and revising, finding time to write, not enough money flowing to the author, and so on. We get so caught up in life (which is truly the messy bits), that we forget to take a breath, and let go.

Stress is our body’s alarm system telling us that there are new changes and demands in our environment. Stress is also a natural response when there are big changes in our lives. Unfortunately, stress can drain our body and mind, making it difficult to focus on other things – like finishing writing that freaking book! In the long run, all we can do is our best.

So how might you do your best?

Increase your activity – especially in pleasurable activities and tackling your list of tasks and responsibilities. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting out of your seat to stretch, or taking a walk that will release the cork.

Goalsetting – Break long-term goals down into short-term and attainable goals. I know life can get (and does get) in the way of your writing goals. Moving. Publisher closes. Death in family. Parent in hospital. It’s taken me almost two years to complete the next installment of my time travel series. Go with the flow or you’ll be swept away. You need goals to keep you from going under. Plus, they will keep you sane while the hurricane is blowing you around in different directions. Remember: This too shall pass.

Mental Imagery – Imagine yourself successfully coping with a situation, and do a mental rehearsal by envisioning yourself doing the task successfully. This works great for athletes, so give it a try!

Being assertive – Stick up for yourself while being respectful of others. Block off time for you to write or your goals will never be reached. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. This sets up your boundaries for others to respect.

Deep breathing 101 – Relaxed breathing is slower and deeper than normal breathing, so when things get crazy, take a mental step back and try this:

·         Close your eyes, sit comfortably, scan your body for tension
·         Breathe from your belly, not chest
·         Your stomach should move out as you breath in, and out as you breath out
·         Breath out any anxiety, tension, or pain
·         Count from 1 to 8 slowly as you breath:
·         One – breathe in
·         Two – breathe out
·         Three – breathe in
·         Four – breathe out
·         Five – breathe in
·         Six – breathe out
·         Seven – breath in
·         Eight – breath out

Feel better? Works for me always! I even do this breathing exercise in the car. So in the future, if life gets too messy and those words aren’t making it to the page, then remember to take a deep breath and relax, and know you’re going to do your best to get you through this stressful time in your life.

How do you cope with stress as a writer? What are some of the strategies you use to defuse stress? Would love to read your comments! Cheers and thank you for reading my blog!

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16. Fitz and Van's Formula

Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman teamed up to paint many of the classic car ads of the 1960s. Using gouache, Fitz painted the cars and Van painted the backgrounds. They had a formula, but it was a great formula.

It goes like this. Coloristically, they choose a overall background color (here, blue). They let that color key fill the scene, including the areas that aren't so important. Those areas are allowed to stay flat (here, dock, water, and sky). The car is the feature color (here, a soft gold). And there's usually an accent color in the background (here, red). A black shadow beneath the car makes the other colors look sharp. 

Compositionally, they fill the foreground with the car's front end, seen in perspective and stretched horizontally. They pick a complex background theme which suggests an attractive couple enjoying leisure time at an exotic location with other affluent people. This time we're dockside with a pleasure-boat party. 

Fitz said that the ad was supposed to make people feel: "I wanted to be in that car, in that place, with that gal on my arm." 

Overall background color—cyan. Feature color, magenta. Accent color—green (figures and swash of light). Background—tropical foliage. Theme—moonlight in the tropics.

Overall background color—dull ochre. Feature color—brighter yellow and blue. Accent color—red. Background —mountains and crowd. Theme: A day at the races.

Overall background color—magenta to violet. Feature color—red. Accent color—yellow. Background— architecture. Theme: Evening party. 

Overall background color—yellow green. Feature color—green with blue highlights. Accents—yellow and pink. Background —stately mansion. Theme: Southern elegance.

Overall background color—blue green. Feature color—yellow. Accents—pink. Background —country club or hotel architecture. Theme: party in the country.

Even though the paintings look photo-real, when you compare them to a photo of a real car, you can see how many artistic choices they brought to their renderings. They ignored a lot of hood reflections, made the windshields more transparent, simplified the ground plane, and exaggerated the car's geometry.

Van Kaufman died in 1996, and Art Fitzpatrick died last year at age 96. Here's a New York Times article about how Fitz received some recognition late in life for his accomplishment.
Fitzpatrick's art appears in a book called Pontiac Pizazz!
Previously: More technical notes about Fitz and Van
My video tutorial "Gouache in the Wild"

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17. A Loathly Lady Story By Lois McMaster Bujold

Recently, I've been rereading all my LMB books, which I love as much as ever and it has occurred to me that the story of "Labyrinth", the Miles Vorkosigan novella, has definite connections to the Loathly Lady stories of the Middle Agrs.

In case you're not familiar with these, you'll find them in the story of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell and even in Chaucer in the Wife Of Bath's Tale. What it boils down to is this: the hero finds himself with a terrifying huge, ugly woman who makes certain demands of him, including marriage, in exchange for something he needs desperately. He grants them to her and in the morning finds himself beside a stunningly beautiful woman - by giving her what she wanted, he has broken a spell. (And when you think of it, even the Disney movie Shrek plays with it, except that the beautiful woman turns into an ogre and happily goes off with her fellow ogre)

But I was thinking of the Child Ballad King Henry, which I first heard plated by Steeleye Span on my favourite album Below The Salt. In it, King Henry(no specific King Henry, just the standard Everyknight with a crown) gets lost hunting and finds his way to a "haunted hall" to spend the night. There, he is confronted with a huge, ugly fanged woman who demands of him food(his horse, hounds and hawks) and drink(wine sewed up in his horse's hide). Then she demands he sleep with her. Trembling, he lies down with her. In the morning, she has turned into the beautiful woman of his dreams, and tells him that his knightly courtesy and giving her all she wanted has impressed her. That's where Steeleye Span leaves it, except for a last chorus/verse about having an open heart and full of charity. 

So, we return to the story of Miles Vorkosigan and his own Loathly Lady, who eventually becomes a master sergeant in his fleet. Miles has been contracted to rescue a scientist whose skills will be useful to Barrayar and who has been having second thoughts about his employment on the dreadful planet Jackson's Whole, where pretty much everything is okay as long as it fits in with things capitalist. Including horrible use of genetic engineering for sexual slavery.

The scientist insists that a vital part of his research is embedded in the left leg of a "creature" he'd been working on and won't go without it. Kill the creature and take the material, he tells Miles.

Then Miles finds himself in the basement with an eight foot high being with fangs... and discovers it is female - and human - in fact, a sixteen year old girl - under all the genetic engineering. She has been created for a super soldier program that no longer exists and been abandoned and sold into slavery. Seeing her killing and eating a rat - about all there is to eat in that place - he offers her a ration bar. After the food, she wants water, which she has been without since being locked up. He finds a water pipe and she has her drink. Then she demands that he lie with her to prove he accepts her as human. Miles is at first shocked, but manages to give her what she wanted. making her happy - and inviting her to join his mercenaries, telling her that he had been sent to slay a monster and instead found a hidden princess.

 After that, they escape, wiping out the villain's entire gene banks of potential slaves as they go. The Loathly Lady, now called Taura, never becomes beautiful in a regular sense, but she cleans up well, with the help of a female soldier, and becomes beautiful in her own way.

Can you see the resemblance to King Henry? He gives her food, drink and himself, in other words "all her will", which is usually the point of these stories. Sir Gawain and the unnamed knight of the Canterbury Tale both have to find out what women want - which is to get their own way. King Henry doesn't have that problem, but he gives her her own way anyhow.

I wouldn't put it past Lois McMaster Bujold to have had a Loathly Lady story in mind when writing this.

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18. Valentine Week

Valentine Week एक समय था जब Valentine Day का ही पता नही होता था और अब देखिए  ये रोज डे या चाकलेट डे भी कुछ होता है और अब पता चला … 1.Rose Day – February 7 2. Propose Day – February 8 3. Chocolate Day – February 9 4. Teddy Day – February 10 5. […]

The post Valentine Week appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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19. Deeply Dapper Dispatches Week 22 - The Review - X-Files

3D Week 22 - THE REVIEW - We review the first two episodes of the new X-FILES season, Episode 5 of SUPERGIRL and Kris reviews SAVAGE LANE by Jason Starr Our hosts this week: Kris, Devon and Ben This is the Second installment of the week, the "Reviews" portion of 3D, where we review everything in depth with spoilers and bad jokes - Caution: Here There Be Spoilers!!! On iTunes: http://

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20. Diane Duane, author of GAMES WIZARDS PLAY, on never being afraid that you won’t be original enough

GAMES WIZARDS PLAY is the latest novel in the Young Wizards series, and we're thrilled to have Diane Duane with us to chat about writing.

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

I do love to work away from home when I can, and some of my favorite books have been written that way. I’ve written a Spider-Man novel in a Bavarian country beer hall and an X-Men book in a medieval townhouse in Bruges, and I’ve outlined a Star Trek novel in a flat buried inside the walls of a Scottish castle. My all-time record daily word count (13,000 words and a bit) happened when I was writing in a chocolatier/cafe in the Swiss capital city of Bern, while I was working on the fantasy novel A Wind from the South. …But I also get good results at home, which is probably just as well, as that way I get to see my husband a lot more. (Of course he has his own writing to do too, so when we're not working at home, sometimes we wind up in the same city but different cafes…)

Generally speaking I don’t listen to music when I’m writing, these days, because I find it interferes with me clearly hearing character voices when creating dialogue. I do listen to it, though, when writing action scenes or when I need to get myself into the mood to do a particular kind of emotionally loaded scene.

In terms of ritual, the only one I’ve got is that I do my best to write something every day, whether it’s contracted work or one of the too-many-other-projects presently choking my to-do list. A good day’s writing for me varies widely in terms of word count: it might be as few as a thousand words or as many as ten, but about four thousand would be average — a couple thousand in the morning, a couple thousand in the afternoon/evening. For screen work, since for me that's much harder work than prose, ten pages of screenplay would be a good day. Either way, I alternate between composing at the computer via keyboard, or dictating using Dragon Naturally Speaking (sometimes I do this while out walking).

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

Never be afraid that you won’t be original enough. At one level, it’s simply impossible for you not to be original. You occupy a unique position in spacetime. By definition, no one else can be right where you are, right when you are, with your unique worldview, your outlook, your developmental history, your “tone of mind”, your reading and writing history. But more to the point, our craft is such that you could give two writers exactly the same idea for a novel and turn them loose to write, and their works would still be significantly different and unique. (In fact I’m betting that you could give two writers the same outline for a novel and each work would still be radically different.) …If you’ve honestly done your homework—if you’re clear about what you want to be writing and what effect you mean to produce—your voice, and your writing’s uniqueness, will inevitably show through. Just concentrate on telling your story.

What are you working on now?

The sequel to GWP (still untitled), the fourth and final book in my first fantasy series (The Door Into Starlight), a third book that unfortunately I can’t talk about, and a miniseries screenplay (ditto).


Games Wizards Playby Diane Duane
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 2/2/2016

Every eleven years, Earth's senior wizards hold the Invitational: an intensive three-week event where the planet's newest, sharpest young wizards show off their best and hottest spells. Wizardly partners Kit Rodriguez and Nita Callahan, and Nita's sister, former wizard-prodigy Dairine Callahan, are drafted in to mentor two brilliant and difficult cases: for Nita and Kit, there’s Penn Shao-Feng, a would-be sun technician with a dangerous new take on managing solar weather; and for Dairine, there's shy young Mehrnaz Farrahi, an Iranian wizard-girl trying to specialize in defusing earthquakes while struggling with a toxic extended wizardly family that demands she perform to their expectations. 

Together they're plunged into a whirlwind of cutthroat competition and ruthless judging. Penn's egotistical attitude toward his mentors complicates matters as the pair tries to negotiate their burgeoning romance. Meanwhile, Dairine struggles to stabilize her hero-worshipping, insecure protégée against the interference of powerful relatives using her to further their own tangled agendas. When both candidates make it through to the finals stage on the dark side of the Moon, they and their mentors are flung into a final conflict that could change the solar system for the better . . . or damage Earth beyond even wizardly repair.

Purchase Games Wizards Play at Amazon
Purchase Games Wizards Play at IndieBound
View Games Wizards Play on Goodreads


Diane Duane has been a writer of science fiction, fantasy, TV and film for more than thirty years.
Besides the 1980's creation of the Young Wizards fantasy series for which she's best known, the "Middle Kingdoms" epic fantasy series, and numerous stand-alone fantasy or science fiction novels, her career has included extensive work in the Star Trek TM universe, and many scripts for live-action and animated TV series on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as work in comics and computer games. She has spent a fair amount of time on the New York Times Bestseller List, and has picked up various awards and award nominations here and there.

She lives in County Wicklow, in Ireland, with her husband of twenty years, the screenwriter and novelist Peter Morwood.

Her favorite color is blue, her favorite food is a weird kind of Swiss scrambled-potato dish called maluns, she was born in a Year of the Dragon, and her sign is "Runway 24 Left, Hold For Clearance."
Have you had a chance to read GAMES WIZARDS PLAY yet? How fun does it sound to write in all these exotic places? Do you make sure to tell your story in your voice? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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21. This Month for Writers - January 2016

A new year brings new writing goals and a swath of information to help writers develop their craft and challenge themselves with each new project. This past month, in addition to celebrating the authors honored with the American Library Association's YMA awards, we were also excited to find articles with tips on writer self-care, as well as loads of advice on how to keep readers turning pages and coming back for more, and encouragement for writers to stop following "rules" and forge their own writing path. Read on, and keep writing!

Read more »

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22. Day 8: Guy A. Sims

GsimsAdapting a book by Walter Dean Myers –  award-winning children’s book creator and former national ambassador for young people’s literature  – is a tough job. Monster, his acclaimed novel, won the first ever Michael L. Printz Award and countless other honors. But Guy A. Sims is used to challenges. In 1990, he, his brother Dawud Anyabwile and Brian McGee debuted Brotherman, a ground-breaking comic that helped fill a void in the industry.

With Emmy Award-winning Anyabwile as illustrator, Sims plunged into writing. His hard work paid off. Monster: A Graphic Novel (HarperCollins, 2015), a stirring black-and-white adaptation, has already won accolades and a starred review. We are proud to celebrate Guy’s great work on Day 8:

The Journey:

Writing has always been a natural extension of myself. From my early years in elementary school through today, writing (and my other loves; theater, forensics, film, songwriting, etc.) has provided the outlet for how I see myself, my place in the world, and perspectives for what could be. I discovered early the power that comes from the written word and the realization that the power could be mine. My father cautioned me to take care in what I write, to fully own what I write because others will take your words to heart and apply them to their lives. A powerful lesson for a powerful medium.

When I was in eighth grade, I had my first short story published in my elementary school newspaper. I cannot recall what the story was about, but I do know the feeling of excitement and anxiety when I heard other kids reading my words. That experience probably solidified my passion for writing. In 1984, I wrote the first children’s book on African American cultural celebration Kwanzaa. The book, The Kwanzaa Kids Learn the Seven Principles, was a collaborative effort with my brother Dawud Anyabwile as the illustrator.

Many people are familiar with street artists and performers, but I don’t know if there is a category called a street writer. During my high school days, I would write on the bus, the subway, different places downtown, at my local playground, wherever. I would engage all kinds of people into my writing process, asking them questions about what they thought were going on, what they were doing, and eventually, to take a look at what I wrote to see if I captured the essence of the environment. I always found my city, Philadelphia, to be a rich tapestry of tales from which to draw. In fact, the majority of my fiction takes place in and around Philly.

The Back Story:

My brother Dawud had worked with Walter Dean Myers before, illustrating the book monster - graphicSmiffy Blue. When the folks at HarperCollins decided to adapt his award-winning young adult novel Monster into a graphic novel, Dawud was tapped to illustrate. In seeking out a writer, my brother suggested me, sharing that I understood the process for writing in the comic book style, thanks in part to our creation, Brotherman Comics, which we started back in 1990.

When asked if I would work on the project, I jumped in head first, unfamiliar with the source material or about Walter Dean Myers. In the end, I am glad that I didn’t because after learning about him as an author, I surely would have been intimidated. In fact, I didn’t get my first taste of his “artistic celebrity” until I visited several of my family members who lived in the NY/NJ area. When I told them, I was working on the Monster book they were more than excited and began sharing with me his importance to the literary world. At that point, I knew I had to do my very best on the project.

During the book development process, I didn’t communicate with Mr. Myers directly, but I would receive positive responses after pages were submitted. Unfortunately, just before the final press, Walter Dean Myers passed away without seeing the final product, although he did see it completed. I understand he was very pleased with how we translated his work. I look forward to similar opportunities to translate popular works into graphic novels.

The Inspiration:

I owe a great deal of credit to really wanting to be a writer to my father who set me on the path. One day he shared with me a recording of Richard Wright’s Black Boy, narrated by Brock Peters. I was mesmerized both by Wright’s words and Peters’ presentation. When I finished listening to the record, I picked up the book from the library and read it. This is who I want to write like is what I told myself. There are numerous writers, theater actors, and pieces of music that have influenced my writing and writing style, but the ignitor was Richard Wright.

The Process:

Writing projects come to me in various ways. Often it is a concept or even a draft of a title that sets the wheels in motion. I begin with the key player or protagonist and let the story build itself from there. Although I have a desktop and laptop, I still draft out my writing in longhand. I tried carrying my laptop around but found I had to concern myself with finding power, the sun glare, etc. The old pen and paper never fail. I save the editing until the end so that I don’t bog myself down with the rules of writing. I write on my lunch hour and for about an hour during the week and use the weekend to transfer what I wrote from paper to the computer. I also usually have two to three projects going on at the same time which requires a high level of time management on my part. When at home, I write in my small office but I still have interruptions thanks to my children, which is okay with me.

Under The Radar

My favorite author currently is Yvvette Edwards, author of A Cupboard Full of Coats and the forthcoming, The Mother. She has a wicked way of keeping her characters in close proximity to each other, maintaining tension, and creates resolutions that take you by surprise. She’s from London, so her UK expressions are also a joy to experience.

The State of the Industry

I have two sons who they are strong readers, whipping through the Harry Potters and Hunger Games with ease. We often talk about the absence of characters that would appear to look like them or come from similar backgrounds. My advice to them is the same my father gave me. If they don’t exist, you must create them.

Guy A. Sims is also the author of the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim detective series, and the novel, Living Just a Little.

The Buzz About Monster: A Graphic Novel

“The superbly rewarding format serves to powerfully emphasize Myers’s themes of perspective and the quest to see one’s self clearly. A must-have for public and school libraries, and a standout graphic novel.”

— Booklist (starred review)

“It’s not easy for an adaptation to please both old and new readers, but this respectful one pulls off that trick.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“This graphic novel adaptation will introduce this story to a new generation of fans.”

— School Library Journal

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23. Weekend Links: Happy Chinese New Year with Great Kidlit Books

The Chinese New Year is tomorrow !!! The WWW is buzzing with great facts, books and actitivities families can do surrounding China and this wonderful holiday. Let’s dig into Exploring China with Great Kidlit Books. Here are some of my top picks this week:

Something to Do

Time to create your own Year of the Monkey Bookmark Craft thanks to Mia at @PragmaticMom

Chinese New Year Crafts

I love this Chinese New Year Crafts – Paper Plate Dragon from Fun Craft Kids

Chinese New Year

In honor of The Year of the Money-here are 25 Mischievous Monkey Crafts for Kids from Southern Girl Ramblings25 Monkey Crafts and Activities for Kids

Good Reads and Booklists

Picture books celebrating the Chinese New Year from Youth Literature Reviews

Chinese New Year

Learn about China with these books about China and Chinese New Year from No Time for Flashcards

Chinese New Year Books

12 Books to Explore CHINA for Chinese New Year


Past JIAB Reviews and Extension Activities

19 Books Celebrating China with Author Demi

Demi booklist

Family Book Festival: Beth Cheng and The Monkey King

Chinese New Year Paper Crafts

Cooking with Books:  Lucky Birthday Noodles {Guest Post by Jodie from Growing Book by Book}

books for Chinese New Year

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin

Grandfather Tang’s Story: Storytelling with Tangrams


Little Leap Forward-A Boy in Bejing by Guy Yue & Clare Farrow


Free Gift-Multicultural Activities for kids
Don’t forget to grab my FREE Gift to YOU! Available for only a short time. Grab your copy HERE.

Read Your World Multicultural Booklist and Activities for Kids

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24. Learning Watercolors at the University of Edinburgh - Part II

For the second day of our watercolor workshop with Darren Woodhead, we went outside. And not just any outside - we headed for Arthur's Seat.

That's the former volcano that sits in the middle of town east of the castle. I've been so caught up with school and winter, we haven't actually hiked up it yet, so this was my first experience with this amazing mountain.
     We met at St. Margaret's Loch.
     The loch was full of swans and ducks and gulls.
It was cold and windy, but we pulled out our paints and paper and gave it a go.
Eventually, it just got too cold to keep our fingers moving, so a few of us hiked up to the St. Anthony's Chapel ruins.

It really was a beautiful day, albeit COLD! Here I am with Lily, Boris and Chiho. The hike got us warmed up a little bit.
And the view of the city from the mountaintop was amazing.
All said, more beautiful works were created (not by me!), and everybody got to try a hand at true plein air painting. I don't know if anybody caught the bug as strongly as Darren has it. Here he is in his painting garb - knee pads and all. But it sure was nice to try!

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25. Don Tate & Phoebe Wahl Win Ezra Jack Keats Book Award

By The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
from Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at The University of Southern Mississippi, announced the winners of the 30th annual Ezra Jack Keats Book Award.

Each year, a new writer and new illustrator are celebrated. The 2016 award ceremony will be held April 7 during the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. The winners receive a gold medallion as well as an honorarium of $1,000.

“We are proud to present the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award to the best new talents in children’s illustrated literature each year. These are writers and illustrators whose books reflect the spirit of Keats, and at the same time, are refreshingly original,” said Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “This year is Ezra’s 100th birthday! So we are especially delighted to celebrate him by honoring those whose books, like his, are wonderful to read and look at and reflect our multicultural world.”

“The Keats Archives at the de Grummond Children’s Collection is a happy reminder of the joy that Ezra’s books have brought to readers and the impact they have had on children’s book makers.

"Once again, we see that influence in the work of this year’s EJK Book Award winners. We are confident that they’ll join the long list of illustrious past winners whose books continue to delight and make a difference,” said Ellen Ruffin, Curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection.

Lois Lowry, two-time winner of the Newbery Award for Number the Stars (1990) and The Giver (1994), will present this year’s Ezra Jack Keats Book Awards. Michael Cart, columnist/reviewer for Booklist and a leading expert on young adult literature, will deliver the Keats Lecture.

The 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner for new writer is:

Don Tate for Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Peachtree)

In the South before the Civil War, it was illegal to teach slaves to read, but George Moses Horton loved words too much to be stopped. He taught himself to read as a child and grew up to be a published poet, while still a slave.

Writing about slavery for young readers is challenging but important, and Don Tate succeeds brilliantly, in an engaging, age-appropriate and true narrative.

Tate said, “Three years ago, I won an Ezra Jack Keats honor award, one of the proudest moments of my career. I never imagined being considered again… this time [for] the top award. There has always been a special place in my heart for Ezra Jack Keats. When he chose to picture brown children in his books, he chose to acknowledge me. I wasn’t invisible to him.

"As a creator of color in a field that sorely lacks diversity, it can be easy to sometimes feel unseen. This award serves as a reminder to me that I am not invisible and that my work matters.”

The 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner for new illustrator is:

Phoebe Wahl for Sonya’s Chickens (Tundra)

Sonya’s dad presents her with three baby chicks to care for, and she does her job well, providing food, shelter and lots of love as they grow into hens. Then one night, Sonya discovers that one of her hens is missing! But as her father explains, the fox stole the hen because he loved his kits and needed to feed them.

The circle of life is gently and exquisitely depicted in Wahl’s rich and colorful watercolor and collage illustrations of a multicultural family’s life on a farm.

Wahl said, “Keats’ work stands out as some of the most impactful of my childhood. I can directly trace the roots of my obsession with pattern, color and my use of collage to my affinity with the lacy baby blanket in Peter’s Chair. Keats inspired me to create stories that are quiet and gentle, yet honor the rich inner lives of children and all of the complexity that allows.

"I am humbled to be associated with Keats’ legacy in being presented with this award, and I am so grateful to the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the children’s literature community for this show of support and encouragement.”

The 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award honor winners are:

2016 New Writer Honors

Julia Sarcone-Roach for The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, also illustrated by Sarcone-Roach (Knopf)

Megan Dowd Lambert for A Crow of His Own, illustrated by David Hyde Costello (Charlesbridge)

2016 New Illustrator Honors

Ryan T. Higgins for Mother Bruce, also written by Higgins (Hyperion)

Rowboat Watkins for Rude Cakes, also written by Watkins (Chronicle)

The Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Criteria

To be eligible for the 2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, the author and/or illustrator will have no more than three children’s picture books published prior to the year under consideration.

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