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1. Editing tips for fiction Writers - #WriteTip #GetPublished

  A few editing tips I have learned along the way.

Let's add action and remove bulk.

Search and Destroy the following...
 
1 - ly words, especially in dialogue tags.
 

These remove the action and tell as apposed to show the characters reaction.
In fact, by adding action to these tags, we can even do away with many of the 'saids' too. Remember every dialogue tag, even 'said. desrupts the reading flow, to some extent, though 'said' is safest.
This: "Annable, it's time for tea," she said loudly.
Or: She inhaled before calling, "Annabel, it's time for tea."
Other dialogue tags examples: 
"Stop calling me," she exclaimed. (exclaimed is a telling tag - these are bad. Remove them all, replace with either action, or said, or better still, nothing... make sure we know who's talking by voice, or another way.)
She frowned, "Stop calling me." (frowned is an action tag - these are better than a telling tag. They show instead of tell)
 
2 - Turn passive voice to active voice:
 
Such as, were, that, then, to be, words. We all know this rule, but it bears repeating. Some of these words will be fine (they are more a sign of something you could rewrite with more action, less passivity), but most can be terminated.
For a list of all passive words and a great tool to check your document for passivity, click.
This: It was cold and the wind was blowing so harshly that it burned my cheeks. (15 words)
OR: A harsh wind blew until my cheeks burned. (8 words)
 
3 - ing words are overused and must be replaced with action words. 
 
Re-write those sentences to say for example:
This: I was saving up my pocket money for that coat for over a year, before buying it. (17 words)
OR: I bought the coat after I saved my allowance for over a year. (13 words)
The first sentence is flimsy: she is saving, buying (not doing), and it took 17 words to say so.
The second sentence is robust and full of action, action words: saved, bought. She does it (action) and we saved 4 words.
More examples:
This: She started walking toward him. (5)
OR: She walked toward him. (4)
This: He began running to his car. (6)
Or : He ran to his car. (5)
Also, starting a sentence with ing words is a sure sign of passivity and inaction.
This: Starting to comb my hair, she said, "Your hair is lovely." (11)
OR : She combed my hair, "Your hair is lovely." (8) - we have action, saved 3 words and got rid of a dialogue tag!
 
4 - Get rid of excess or throwaway words

A lot of To tell the truth Going to go Along with the fact Of all people Anything but What on earth In the first place In order to In particular I’ve got to (We’ve got to, You’ve got to) Actually Almost Although Because Really Still Though Usually Like
You will find you can remove so many words for you MS without even changing the meaning or your sentence.
This: I think that I will have some of that cake. (10)
OR: I will have some cake (7)
And redundant phrases must get the boot too!
This: She
is able to run a mile without
breaking into a sweat.
OR : She can run a mile without sweating.
 
5 - De-cliche you MS
 
There a re so many cliches we use without even thinking about in our everyday speech, but when we come across them in fiction, it weakens the writing and the point the author tried to make.
Cliches:
She had butterflies in her stomach, after he kissed her.
He jumped into the frying pan, out of the fire.
at this point in time
don't hold your breath
easy as pie
 
The list is endless: LIST Find cliches in your MS here.
 
There are so many more tips for revision. These are just a few. Hope these are useful to you.

Author Bio

Shah WhartonShah’s father nurtured her love of the written word as a child, although her words remained private until recently, when she decided to apply her imagination to short stories, in 2010. Finding Esta is her debut novel, and the first volume of The Supes Series. Shah enjoys all good speculative fiction and is an avid Kindle abuser and cinema fan. On her blog, she discusses her writing, publishing, books and storytelling, and supports other authors. She is always happy to accept feedback so please do get in touch. 

FIND SHAH

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2. The Fourteenth Goldfish, by Jennifer L. Holm: curiosity & discovery, believing in the possible (ages 8-12)

Kids and teachers are loving a new book, The Fourteenth Goldfish, and it makes me so happy to hear them raving about it. I had a chance this weekend to sit down with Milana, a ten year old I lent my copy to, and we really had fun talking about this book. Talking about books together really helps us deepen our appreciation, deepen our thinking about the layers in a story.
The Fourteenth Goldfish
by Jennifer L. Holm
Random House, 2014
Your local library
Amazon
ages 8-12
*best new book*
Sixth grade is tricky for Ellie, but the day her mom brings home a new kid turns everything upside down. At first, he seems like a typical surly teenager, but something "tickles at (her) memory." Ellie is shocked when she realizes this is her grandfather Melvin, somehow turned into a thirteen year old boy. "I discovered a cure for aging... the fountain of youth!" he shouts. But he's stuck in this new body and can't get into his lab to recover the T. melvinus specimen, the species of jellyfish that helped him change back into a teen.

My young friend, Milana, loved reading this so much that she bought one of her good friends a copy. "I got it for my friend because she's really into science and she really likes sea life. Now she's started it and won't stop reading it."

Holm seamlessly weaves into the story a love of science and Milana picked up on this. Right away, she talked about wanting to learn more about Salk's discovery of the cure for polio and Oppenheimer's race to build the atomic bomb. As I've been rereading this, I love how much science Holm incorporates, especially as Ellie gets to know her grandfather.
Melvin tells Ellie, "Scientists fail again and again and again. Sometimes for our whole lives. But we don’t give up, because we want to solve the puzzle... Scientists never give up. They keep trying because they believe in the possible."
The relationship between Ellie and her grandfather is what makes this book special for me. Holms creates believable, nuanced characters and I think that's one reason so many readers are responding to this story.
When Melvin, Ellie's grandfather, tells her mother, "'Your daughter’s interested in science. She shows great aptitude. You should encourage her.' I feel a flush of pride. Maybe this part of me—the science part—was there all along, like the seeds of an apple. I just needed someone to water it, help it grow. Someone like my grandfather."
As Milana and I were talking more about the characters, I asked her if Melvin reminded her of any of her grandparents. I wish Jenni Holm could hear this young girl talking about her grandfather, a doctor who's always busy thinking and talking on the phone -- and how this story helps her see a different side of him. Milana told me, "It makes me wonder what my grandfather looked like, how he acted and what he was interested in when he was my age."

The Fourteenth Goldfish left me thinking most about the themes essential to science: curiosity, discovery, possibility. A recent TED Radio Hour explores these same things, albeit more for adults. It starts with James Cameron talking about his childhood, when he loved collecting and studying all sorts of things, curious about everything. "It's almost like the more we know about the world, the limits of what's possible start to crowd in on us." But this curiosity stayed with him--and imbues both his movies and his love of oceanography.

The real power of The Fourteenth Goldfish? It's like so many well-crafted stories: creating conversation, creating a moment to think a little more deeply about those around us, creating an ah-ha moment that curiosity and a passion for discovery lay at the heart of science--believing in the possible.

More reviews:
The review copy came from my home collection and our library collection and Milana's collection (I've already purchased many many copies!). If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2014 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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3. On-the-Spot Research for Writing Historicals

When I write historical fiction, I know any success I might have in recreating an era for my readers largely hinges on my getting the details right. I relied heavily on research when writing The Glass Inheritance, my mystery novel involving Depression era glassware, and found it invaluable to visit historically significant sites from the Great Depression and World War II era. I toured a Japanese internment camp in Wyoming, Pearl Harbor, two concentration camps in Germany, and three Holocaust museums, among other sites. Such travel isn’t always financially feasible, but I’ve discovered local sites offer a wealth of information and inspiration also.

Just this summer I toured a Victorian mansion here in the Midwest and was thrilled to see the museum had a bowl of calling cards near the door. Because I had read in Victorian era novels about characters dropping off their calling cards at one another’s houses, I recognized what the cards were. The tour guide allowed me to pick the cards up and look through them even though the cards were authentic, not reproductions.

calling cards

Some of the cards clearly came from a printer as is, but others appeared to be homemade or had the owner’s name stenciled in after printing. They were all works of art compared with today’s business cards.

Holding these cards gave me insight and inspiration I doubt I would have drawn from just reading about them. I may choose to write a story involving calling cards and have more assurance now of getting the details right.


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4. Shifter and Were Event (#WeresEVENT) (#WereloveSeries)


This event is sponsored by Paranormal Cravings. There are two giveaways for this event. The main giveaways by the sponsor and my giveaway. Feel free to enter both and make sure you visit the other Participants.

Make sure you check out Laylah's character profile with some extras ;) on December 14 at Paranormal Cravings.

My Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sponsor Giveaway #1
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sponsor Giveaway #2
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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5. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in November

New Loot:
  • A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody
  • The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley
  • Goodbye, Piccadilly: War at Home, 1914 by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner
  • Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
  • Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
  • What If...? by Anthony Browne

Leftover Loot:

  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
  • Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer
  • McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss
  • And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
  • The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
  • Death at Buckingham Palace by C.C. Benison
  • Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
  • The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
  • Train by Judi Abbot
  • Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems
  • The Time Traveler's Almanac ed. by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus
  • The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson
  • A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
  • Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison
    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.  

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Trip Trap

Another experiment.
Troll thing not quite what I had in mind- kind of blobbed the paint down thought "oh no...well I guess that's him then"

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7. Monday Poetry Stretch - Etheree

An etheree is a poem of ten lines in which each line contains one more syllable than the last. Beginning with one syllable and ending with ten, this unrhymed form is named for its creator, 20th century American poet Etheree Taylor Armstrong.

Variant forms of the etheree include the reverse form, which begins with 10 syllables and ends with one. The double etheree is twenty lines, moving from one syllable to 10, and then from 10 back to one. (I suppose a double etheree could also move from 10 syllables to one, and then from one back to 10.)

You can learn more about the etheree at The Poets Garret and Shadow Poetry.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing an etheree. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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8. Artist of the Day: Robert Löbel

Today we look at the work of Robert Löbel, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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9. Highlights from NCTE

We're sharing our presentations from NCTE with you, along with quotes I jotted down from a variety of authors and literacy leaders. ALSO, take a peek at some photos from our Slicer Dinner.

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10. Seed Catalogs Already

It isn’t even really winter yet and I received my first 2015 seed catalog in the mail. I’m used to getting a flood of seed catalogs around the end of December so this one took me by surprise. I normally would set it aside as the first in a pile not to be looked at until January, but it came from Pinetree Garden Seeds, one of my preferred places to order from. And it looked so colorful and inviting, so fat and full or potential that I decided to just take a little peek.

Half an hour and twenty breathless pages later when I came up for air after falling into raptures over cosmic purple and atomic red carrots, I reluctantly put the catalog aside for fear of an overdose. And I do feel like I have been drugged because it has been a couple of days and I can’t stop thinking about those carrots or the catalog. Just one vegetable, I tell myself, what if I only look at all the different kinds of cauliflower and then put the catalog aside, surely I can do that? And next thing I know I am deep into all the varieties of eggplant with only a vague recollection of how I got there.

And then I get an email from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, my other main seed squeeze, telling me their 2015 catalog is now available, click here to request it now. But wait! There is a second catalog they have, The Whole Seed Catalog. This catalog is not free. This catalog is the free catalog on steroids MiracleGro super compost tea. At 352 pages it is nearly twice as big as the free catalog.

But why should I pay for a catalog? Why indeed. Don’t be ridiculous I tell myself, just request the free one. But. But But. Articles about the history of various seeds. Recipes. Growing methods and tips. And more. You know those cartoons where there is a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other and a fight ensues? Today the devil won and I bought the catalog.

I’m still a little stunned. The devil is grinning from ear-to-ear and the angel is grumbling about how it better be worth it and I’m jittery and wondering how long it will take to get here because the Pinetree Seeds catalog might not last long enough and what will I do if I can’t get another fix? Bookman just shakes his head and doesn’t want to be bothered with gardening stuff until spring when I tell him, these are peas, plant them there. I don’t think he realizes the danger of his hands off approach. This last spring he ended up digging me a small pond. The spring before that it was the herb spiral. It’s only the end of November so there is no telling what big garden project I will settle on by next spring.

I think it is going to be a long winter.


Filed under: gardening

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11. Nagasaki review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Éric Faye's Nagasaki, the 2010 Grand Prix du roman de l'Académie française winner out from Gallic Books (in the UK; coming to the US in January).

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12. Secrets from a Celebrity Makeup Artist

The one beauty book every girl and woman must have With over 20 years’ experience in the makeup industry, Liz Kelsh has captured the hearts of a long list of celebrities, as well as the fashion elite, charming them with her warmth, wit and impeccable makeup artistry. Now she shares the secrets that have made […]

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13. Monday Mishmash: 11/24/14


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. Editing  I'm working on copy edits for The Darkness Within and then editing for clients this week.
  2. Thanksgiving  I'll be heading to my grandfather's apartment complex for Thanksgiving. It's always good to see him, so I don't even mind the two-hour drive.
  3. November's been a tough month  I've had a rough November. Most recently a friend passed away, but my luck went south before that too. I'm ready to move on to December and hopefully put the bad parts of November behind me.
  4. School Visits  I have two school visits (three presentations) next Monday, December 1st, so I'm getting set for those this week.
  5. Signing The Monster Within at Moravian Book Shop on Saturday  I'm heading back to Moravian Book Shop with Jennifer Murgia for the final stop on my book tour for The Monster Within. It's been a great tour, and I'm sad to see it end. I'll be there from 1-3pm, so if you're in the Bethlehem area, I'd love to see you.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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14. stripes and bows...

©the enchanted easel 2014

©the enchanted easel 2014























and a sweet little penguin named alaska!

that's what's been on the easel this week...in honor of my favorite season, which is right around the corner...WINTER! :)

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15. Player Profile: Karen Foxlee, author of Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy

Karen Foxlee, author of Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy Tell us about your latest creation: “Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy”.  It’s the story of a lonely young girl who finds a three-hundred and three year old boy locked away in a museum room. It’s a fast paced adventure story with lots of twists and turns. Where are you from […]

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16. Christmas Sale

Black Friday 
and Cyber Monday?

Friends of my site can take a discount today!

www.BeckyKelly.com/shop
 prices are listed, no coupon needed.
 
 www.PeriwnkleSky.Etsy.com
use coupon code THANKYOU20
for 20% off

 

 Friends,  I plan to close my shop after Christmas to spend more 
time working on my artwork. 
Thank you for the support throughout these years.  
It was a difficult decision to close my shop. 
I plan to work on some personal projects.





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17. Book Review: Purity by Jackson Pearce

Title: Purity
 Author: Jackson Pearce
Series:  N/A
Published:   6 March 2014 by Hodder
Length: 224 pages
Source: publisher
Summary : A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.
Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.
Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity

Review: Shelby promised her dying mother that she would listen to her father, love as much as posible, and live without restraint. She's done quite well in the five years since then, but when her father wants to arrange her part in a purity ball, in which she promises her purity to her father, which is essentially no drugs, drink or sex. Shelby doesn't want this. So she tries to find a loophole; if she has sex before then, she won't have purity to give. Thus begins a five week search for someone to lose her virginity to.
I wanted to read this obok because commentry on the value of virginity and women in society is an important one to me, and I quite liked Sisters Red, even though I knew from the presmise that this would be completely different. 
The characters are funny, not particularly bright, but the friendships are nice and supportive, even if the end “revalation” isn't that surprising or enjoyable. I liked watching the relationship between Shelby and her dad develop.I think Shelby could have developed more.
I like the fact there's humour throughout, without which Purity would be much less lighthearted, and either too sad or too serious.
I find it a bit weird that Shelby goes from not really caring about sex to wanting to do it without caring about who it is as long as they're not diseased. Sure, the possiblity of lack of sex for years is obviously going to make her try and find someone, (it would me if I were in that situation) but there are other ways she could have dealt iwht it, and other parts in the novel when she could have done something else.
I like the fact that faith is a theme. It's not there too much to make it into a preachy book, but it did add a bit of depth to Shelby.
Finally, I just want to ask; since when was “listen to” synonymous with “completely obey”?

Overall:  Strength 3 tea to a book that opens discussions for lots of things.


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18. Interview with Catherine Scully: Map Design

Industry Life

Kat Zhang with Catherine Scully

Hey guys! I’m here today with the awesome Catherine Scully, who designed the gorgeous map for Claire Legrand’s  WINTERSPELL. Let’s see what she has to say about map-making :)

Scully_headshot

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has always loved not only drawing maps, but staring at the maps in fantasy books, following the heroes along on their journey. How did you first get into map-making? Is Claire’s map the first one you created, or have you been creating maps for your own stories?
 .
The first time I really wanted to do a map was when I read the Hobbit as a kid. I wanted to follow Bilbo along his journey and visit the elves, face the dragon, and return home to the Shire. I used to come up with these stories when I would build these Lego cities, draw a map of what I built and where it went, and then write the entire storyline I made up that day. I should have realized then I wanted to be an author/illustrator! I remember even drawing a map of my favorite stretch of woods with land markers. I was always into fantasy and very much still am, even though I’m more known in the community for horror. The first book I ever wrote was this epic fantasy with world maps and comic panels. I plan on returning to it when I finish working on my current MG horror.
 .
Claire’s map was the first I created for publication then, which was an interesting challenge since I needed to have something to show in my portfolio in the way of world maps in order to get the job at all. I ended up drawing it and finishing it on the hope it would go over well. Needless to say, this story had a very happy ending! Yes, that was nerve-wracking. But after five years working my way up from a graphic designer to a brand manager, I had a pretty tough skin. I knew I could take any criticism thrown at me really well because I’m much more interested in the process of collaborating on a project than an artistic ego.
 .
Can you summarize what was the process like? 
  .
Claire actually first approached me to do collectible cards for four of her WINTERSPELL characters after she saw the work I did for Stefan Bachmann’s bookmarks for his THE WHAT NOT book tour. She ended up loving them so much, she asked if I would be interested in doing a world map as well. After all four characters were finalized, we got started on the map next. Claire had a really clear idea of what she wanted for the map and border, so she sent me a preliminary sketch just to give me an idea of where to place elements. This was immensely helpful! Not to say you can’t start from scratch, but since we were on a tight deadline, a lot of the map back and forth was wonderful and easy because she really knew what she wanted and my job was to make that come alive.
  .
 .
Map1
Map2
Map3
In my first sketch, the map was tightly drawn, with the border elements close to the island. I went ahead and sketched portions on a piece of bristol board and sent them to Claire before I inked. As we went along, we researched a lot of maps. We looked at the Westeros map, the Grisha map, and a dozen others. I sent sketches and would ink them once they were approved. I work by hand first and ink with Micron pens before my illustrations ever see photoshop. When the ink was ready and Claire was happy, I painted it in Photoshop and we sent it off to her publisher. We went through some back and forth before print, mostly trying to extend the border to not crowd the island and balance it out well. I ended up loving the final draft even more and couldn’t be happier with what went to print! It was seriously a dream to get to collaborate with their publishing department.
  .
Maps often seem stylized base on the genre of the book, or the type of world described in the story. Did you draw on any particular style to create Claire’s map? 
 .
Final
For Claire’s map, I mentioned looking at Westeros and especially the Grisha map, but I had another source of inspiration that I brought to the table for WINTERSPELL. My sister is a ballerina and has performed in the Nutcracker since she was four. As my sister is now nineteen, that means I’ve seen almost two decades worth of performances every year. I’m a huge fan. I’m also the sort of person that likes to read the book, or at least the synopsis and a few chapters, before I start on any piece I illustrate for an author. This is so I can really hear the voice of the characters, the world, and place “Easter eggs” or clues to the story. So, before I even started on the character cards much less the map, I got to read an advanced copy and really see the world and characters before I drew them. I also personally really drew inspiration from the Hobbit and surprisingly the end credits to the Secret of Nimh movie, which really influenced how I ended up spacing out the elements towards the final version.
  .
Now that you’ve had a map published (congrats!), what do you see yourself doing next?  What would be your dream project?
  .
Right now, I’m commissioned to do another world map for a friend and a publisher is working with me on starting to illustrate some covers for their middle grade books. Honestly, I’d love to work with more authors on more amazing things! Bookmarks, character cards, world maps, book covers, illustrated web sites, you name it, I’d probably want to work with you on it. One dream project I have is to work on chapter headings for a YA or MG book (regardless of genre) or even a short story collection. Please drop me a line if you’ve got a project in mind! I’d love to hear from you and make something beautiful for your book or author platform together.
  .
Thanks for chatting with us today, Catherine!
  .
Do you guys have any more questions about illustrating, or map design?

Catherine Scully is a writer, illustrator, and graphic designer with her work featured in magazines, anthologies, and in Simon and Schuster’s Young Adult book Winterspell by Claire Legrand. Catherine is represented for Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction by Carrie Howland of Donadio and Olson and is currently working on a horror series for Middle Grade. 

As the Young Adult Editor for the Horror Writer Association, she runs a blog at yahorror.com called “Scary Out There: What is Horror in Young Adult Fiction?” with multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning author Jonathan Maberry, which was featured on CNN.com in an interview with R.L. Stine. She’s also a member of the YA Scream Queens, a group of nine women who write horror for kids and teens. 

When she’s not writing and illustrating, Catherine can usually be found practicing on her drums.

You can follow her on twitter @CatMScully or check out her art at cscullyillustrate.tumblr.com

Kat Zhang loves traveling to places both real and fictional–the former allows for better souvenirs, but the latter allows for dragons, so it’s a tough pick. Her novel WHAT’S LEFT OF ME is about a girl struggling to survive in an alternate universe where people are born with two souls, and one is doomed to disappear. It is the first book in a trilogy and was published by HarperCollins in September of 2012.  Book 2, ONCE WE WERE, released September 2013, and Book 3, ECHOES OF US, came out September 16, 2014. You can learn all about Kat at her site, or listen to her ramblings on twitter.

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19. Going, Going, Gone…

. . . but it won’t be forgotten!

There’s so much to savor from The Original Art Exhibition: The Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration, as it winds up its stay in Carlsbad, CA.

To recap, here are more trailers from the participating artists in the Show:







For me, the highlight was being able to hold up the actual book page, and compare it alongside its original. I will share some observations in future posts. Seeing them side-by-side provided meditations on the wide spectrum of art media possible, coupled with the reality of CMYK print — it’s all good stuff!


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20. Bookselling in ... Taiwan

       At CNN Johan Nylander reports on Nightclubs for literature ? Why book selling is booming in Taiwan, looking at the success of the Eslite book chain -- as, for example:

The Eslite store in central Taipei opens 24 hours and has more night owl visitors than most Western bookstores could dream of during their daytime hours.
       But, yes:
Eslite's success may seem counter-intuitive especially when it seems most late-night visitors treat it like a library, leaving empty handed after hours of free reading.

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21. Dim’s Top 25 Cracking Christmas Reads for Kids

All righty, you’ve noted what others are reading this Christmas. You are possibly getting a little woozy from a department store diet of flashy titles and quick fixes but you still haven’t managed to locate that special literary treasure for the younger person or young at heart person in your life. The following list is […]

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22. Strand bookstore profile

       In this week's issue of New York Christopher Bonanos profiles New York's enormous ('18 Miles of Books') Strand bookstore, in The Strand's Stand: How It Keeps Going in the Age of Amazon.
       Certainly, the fact that in 1996 they bought the building that houses the store (and thus are able to set their own rent, and collect rent on much of the remaining space) makes survival a lot easier (though one hopes they recall that the similarly legendary Gotham Book Mart also owned its prime real estate, and that didn't work out so well ...).
       I used to live nearby, and frequented it frequently (along with doing the rounds of all the other now-lost neighborhood bookstores); I still need my regular fix -- monthly or so -- but the 2003 renovation took a lot of the soul out of the place and it isn't quite the treasure-trove it used to be. ("Fifteen percent of the store's revenue now comes from merch", which pretty much says it all.) Still, rare is the visit when I don't pick up something (or an armload) because I know I'm unlikely to easily or ever find it anywhere else ever again.

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23. Sunday Sentence

"Writing is about finding out who you are, what you have to say that is not the same as what everyone else has to say, and how to express it in the strongest possible terms."  The Point of Writing by Meg Rosoff at Writer Unboxed.

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24. SkADaMo 2014 Day 19

Gobbull

Ok, I know, I know… I’m reaching now. So, here ya go, a feeble attempt to keep with the holiday theme.

What is SkADaMo? Check it out here.


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25. Making Peg Dolls & More – a very satisfying craft book for families

Making Peg Dolls & More: Toys that spin, fly and bring sweet dreams is a second book by Margaret Bloom full of ideas about how to make the most delightful peg dolls.

pegdolls

Like many families, now we’re in the run up to Christmas, we’re spending time getting crafty together, making presents and decorations, and this book has given us hours of delight. Full of ideas about how to customise wooden peg dolls into adorable characters, Bloom also provides lots of tutorials for how to use your peg dolls in innovative ways, such as in mobiles, wands, wall hangings and pincushion embellishments.

Super clear and friendly instructions, made beautiful and even easier to follow by the inclusion of simple but beautiful watercolour illustrations along with many photos of all sorts of children making and playing with peg dolls made sure this book really appealed to my kids as soon as they set eyes on it.

That the instructions are easy to follow and result in items which the kids are really proud of was clearly demonstrated by the way my 9 year old, M, took the book off by herself and created her first ever felt toys:

pegdolls3

Although M was totally absorbed by herself in her sewing, as a parent I especially enjoyed Bloom’s emphasis in her instructions on how the whole family can take part in making their own peg dolls; she clearly indicates which parts even the youngest children can get involved with, and encourages us grown-ups to be involved, but also to let our kids do their own things with the dolls. This book isn’t about parents turning out coffee-table-book-worthy gorgeous ornaments (although we’re definitely encouraged to play, sew and create along side the kids); it really is about facilitating children’s exploratory play and creativity.

The book includes a list of suppliers of peg dolls, felt and one or two other items that are especially nice to use (such as artificial/millinery flower stamens) and I would heartily encourage you to gift a bundle of supplies, including some watercolours, with this book so that the recipient can dive in straight away. I’ve personally used Craftshapes for my blank wooden peg dolls in the past and they’ve always be lovely to deal with.

What we started with

What we started with

Here are some of the characters we created:

pegdolls1

pegdolls2

Whilst painting, sewing, sticking and playing we listened to:

  • Wedding of the Painted Doll, one of the hit songs from the musical “The Broadway Melody” – indeed, it reach #1 in the charts in 1929! Another version with more lyrics can be heard here.
  • The doll dance from Delibe’s ballet Coppélia
  • Come Over To My Dollhouse by Lunch Money. Whilst in some ways this is a world away from the lovely peg dolls made by Bloom (which are the antithesis to Barbie, who does feature in this song), the video is enormous fun and might inspire you and your kids to make your own video for your favourite music.

  • If you want ideas about how to take things a step further with your peg dolls take a look at:

  • Using corks instead of wooden peg doll blanks. Especially good if you drink a lot of champagne…
  • Using acorns instead of wooden peg doll blanks – I really love these!
  • Turning pinecones and wooden beads into dolls – a priceless idea from Margaret Bloom herself. In fact there are lots of lovely free tutorials on Bloom’s website – I encourage you to take a look! I particularly like the bat tutorial.
  • We’ve thoroughly enjoyed Making Peg Dolls & More: Toys that spin, fly and bring sweet dreams: It is beautiful to look at and filled with enticing projects, which are both achievable and give results to delight in. It is also a book which is very proud to be just a starting point; it’s really about giving you ideas which will bloom in you and your kids’ imaginations.

    What family craft books would you recommend?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.

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