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1. What sparks a child’s dreams?

Guest post by Darlene Foster dreamer of dreams, teller of tales.

When I was little, my dear grandmother gave me a colouring book filled with pictures of children from around the world dressed in traditional garments. I loved that book and while colouring each page, dreamt of visiting those fascinating places. Growing up on a farm in the Canadian prairies, we didn’t venture far. 



My grade three teacher, Miss Roll, taught us about exotic places, like Mexico. She gave us Mexican names, brought sombreros and serapes into the classroom, played Mexican music and served Chilli Con Carne. This further kindled my dreams of travel, especially to Mexico. Miss Roll also noticed my vivid imagination and encouraged me to write my stories down.

As is often the case, life happened. I got married, had children, worked full time, volunteered, took correspondence courses, attended the occasional workshop and dabbled in writing. I filled many notebooks with short stories and ramblings over the years. The thought of being published was a distant and, what often seemed to me, impossible dream. It didn’t look like I was going to see much of the world either.

Those ideas that were sparked all those years ago still flickered. I boarded an airplane for the first time when my second husband took me to England to visit his family. You can imagine my delight when I finally found myself in a country I had been reading and dreaming about for years. We travelled back to England a number of times as well as to many other interesting destinations, including Mexico. With every trip, I became as excited as the little child who held that international children’s colouring book in her hands.

When a friend took a job in the United Arab Emirates and invited me for a visit, I jumped at the chance. This amazing experience where I discovered a totally different culture, unique scenery and so much history, inspired me. I had many stories to tell when I returned home. Although I attempted to write these experiences down, they just didn’t portray the excitement and feelings I had while there.



Then one sleepless night, I started to write the story from the eyes of a twelve-year-old. I based it on my experiences and a perfume flask I purchased while there, added some colourful characters and tossed in an adventure. It was fun to spin my story in a way that kids would enjoy while learning about another country. My hope was that it would entice them to explore new worlds someday.  Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask was born and eventually my dream of being published came true. My main character, Amanda, has since gone on to explore other places such as Spain, England and her own province of Alberta.



Still pinching myself to make sure I am actually a published author, I am so glad I followed my dream of travel, which led to a writing career. I will forever be grateful to my grandmother, my grade three teacher and so many others for sparking the flame, and for all the people in my life who fanned those flames and encouraged me to follow my dreams. 

I believe it is our job as adults, to nurture the young people in our lives to develop and follow their dreams. If we don´t spark the flame, who will? As one creator of dreams come true once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Walt Disney 



Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She also had a desire to write since she was twelve. It wasn´t until she was a grandmother that her short stories started to win awards and were included in anthologies. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Her books include: Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel and Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Readers from seven to seventy plus enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene and her husband currently live in Orihuela Costa, Spain. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.


Books available:


Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/amanda-in-arabia



Dear Darlene, thank you so much for agreeing to write for my blog and for allowing me to share your photographs. It is always a pleasure to welcome you here. 

I am always happy to share interesting posts from fellow bloggers or anyone wishing to try their hand at blogging.  I prefer the posts to be about childhood, hobbies, collecting or books but would consider other submissions. Please send an email with your idea, and I will get right back to you.   

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2. AAU Baseball Fans!


 I love that dog up there. Why? Because that scruffy little dog represents my local town's AAU Baseball Team. Why else do I love that dog? Because of my son. I'm proud of him.  I'm getting ahead of myself though. Let me tell you a story. After all, that is why you are here.

My son loves baseball, but he didn't always. He was one of the kids out in the field during his T-Ball days picking daisy's, literally. Over the years his interest grew, yet he still didn't have the same drive most of his friends had. Once the weather got chilly they were still at it. They tried out for the river dogs and made it. Why, because even in the winter they would find the time to hit the indoor batting cages, my son, on the other hand, not so much. Oh trust me it wasn't for the lack of trying to get him out there.

Last spring though something changed. My son became taller, stronger and more determined. He suddenly had the drive that wasn't there before. He started asking to hit the batting cages, and wanted to try out for the river dogs. My husband and I were happy to oblige. We knew it was going to be rough for him though. He had a lot of catching up to do. In this age group there are a lot of boys who are really good. I mean kids get scared at bat good. Danny knows, most of them are his friends, good friends. Gives him an advantage though on the field. Still competition is competition.

Last August my son tried out for the River Dogs for this past spring's team (They train from January to April. Then the games start). We told him don't be surprised if you don't make it. He knew, he understood what he was up against, but he wasn't going to let that stop him. He didn't make the team. It crushed him, but that rejection only made him stronger. During the spring season he was a changed kid. He took baseball seriously, he worked, he lead his team, He hit 11 balls over the fence, he played his heart out, and everyone of the coaches noticed.

August came around and try outs for the River Dogs came again. My son wanted to try again. He wasn't going to give up. He said if he doesn't make it, he'll keep trying out until he does. That's my boy!

We'll we got the call on a Wednesday night after the first day of school. My son made the team. They decided this year since there were so many kids who tried out and only 12 slots they would have two teams. Still that is only 24 slots. Still hard to get on the team in my eyes. They have an A Team (the diamond team) and an open team. Now my son is aware he isn't on the Diamond Team but that's okay, it isn't the point. He is on the team, he is playing the sport he loves, and he didn't give up.

Isn't that what life is all about? Falling down and getting back up? I know my writer friends out there know what that is all about. Well, that is my story, perseverance  pays off. Always remember that and Happy Monday!


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3. 7 Things I Want the Writers in my Classroom to Know

I am uneasy referring to myself as an author. I have writers I admire and I know there’s a vast divide between us, but I write. I enjoy writing; I write to improve my voice and my craft all in an effort to teach my students what it means to be a writer. As an educator I know all my students ARE writers. I don’t qualify who is and who is not a writer by the quality of their writing. I am working to give myself this same level of acceptance as a writer.

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4. Scaffolding Reading Notebooks



This is my third year in 3rd grade.  I taught 3rd a while ago but most of my experience is in grades 4 and 5. I have some experience in primary and last year I realized that my 3rd grade Reading Workshop was a bit too intermediate for my early third graders. They seemed to need a more primary workshop. I thought long and hard about a lot of my practices and how to better support some of my younger readers who needed more time for oral language and more support in comprehension.  Last year, we visited Emily Collins' amazing 2nd grade classroom in our district.  We were lucky to see the entire reading workshop and see the amazing work her students did.  Our visit and the conversations I've had with Emily and others since that time helped me think about the best ways to support these transitional readers in grades 2 and 3--readers who aren't quite primary, but aren't quite intermediate, either.

For years I've seen the power in kids keeping a Readers' Notebook but I really struggle with what that looks like in 3rd grade.  Sometimes we jump in and the first part of the year is chaos as kids need more time to notice their thinking and talk through their thinking before they are ready to write much.

So, this year, I am using a mini-notebook for the first several weeks of school. This is a notebook that we'll use during read aloud and reading mini lessons to keep track of our thinking in writing and sketches. It seems to be a good size and not overwhelming for kids--the page size makes it very inviting for all readers.  We are taking time to stop and jot as well as time to stop and talk. We are learning and charting different ways we think during our reading.

Next week, we'll add cards or sticky notes for kids to begin to track their thinking during independent reading time also (another idea from Emily).  And we'll do lot of talking during share time about the places they marked and the thinking they did.

After a few weeks of playing with writing about reading in these ways, when everyone has had time to play and learn in a notebook that is fun and accessible, we'll move into reading notebooks with an understanding of what is possible.  In the meantime, we'll use these pages to see what is possible.

This is a little thing but it already seems like a little change that is going to make a big difference for my early 3rd graders.

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5. The 5 Dirty Words of Freelance Illustration

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Illustration by Thomas James

In our daily lives as freelance Illustrators, we experience both the joys and terrors of our unique creative profession.

As you probably know, freelance Illustration isn’t always unicorns and rainbows. Those are just the facts of life.

One of the redeeming things about this, however, is that we can often recognize the more common dangers and take steps to avoid them because they are usually pretty clearly defined.

Here’s my list of the 5 dirty words you’re likely to encounter in your day-to-day life as a professional Illustrator:

1. Spec work

This one likely needs no introduction, because you won’t be an Illustrator for very long before somebody solicits you for free work.

The more desperate you are, the greater the danger in falling prey to this trap.

Just know that it potentially hurts your business, so proceed at your own risk.

2. Exposure

The frequent sidekick to ‘spec work’ is the word ‘exposure’, because clients who want you to work for free often promise that your art will be seen and adored by millions across the globe.

If for some reason you didn’t recognize that a project is actually a call for spec work, then this secondary term will likely tip you off.

3. Theft

Another inevitability is that your work will be used without your permission at some point. In fact, posting your work anywhere online pretty much guarantees that.

It’s a frustrating one, but there are steps you can take to combat this sort of thing, and the online community of artists often comes together to join the fight.

4. Burnout

Here’s one that’s usually brought on at least partly by yourself.

As with all the other dirty words in this list, it’s inevitable, but a healthy dose of time off, a well-rounded life, and personal projects can do a lot to ward it off.

5. Slushpile

This term defines the overwhelming pile (physical, virtual, or otherwise) where your promotional materials may be buried by Art Directors amongst countless others sent by your fellow artists.

The only antidote is to create work so compelling that it stands out from the crowd and makes a lasting impression.

So there you have it.

A brief look at 5 of the prime offenders in the daily life of a freelance Illustrator.

Get to know them, avoid them, and defeat them when you can, but know that they will be back.

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6. The humbling side of living overseas

I've received so many nice notes from you guys. You tell me that I'm living the dream you wish you could and you are living vicariously. Thank you for your sweet and inspirational notes, I'll keep the posts coming as this has become my diary of sorts. This experience is truly wonderful. However, today I want to share a more emotional side of this change...
     This move to Edinburgh has been amazing, and overwhelming, and humbling. We take for granted the knowledge we have when we live in a certain place - the contacts, the awareness, the sense of direction. Part of all this walking is to become familiar with these new people, new customs, and to discover where everything is.

The hedge at the Royal Botanic Garden.
     This new home is fabulous and challenging. For instance, I don't know where to go to buy the simplest things. What stores sell back-packs? Where do I buy new lingerie? If I need a rubbish bin (trash can), where do I get one? And even if I did know, where do you find the deals? Do I need to take a bus to get there? I'm not terribly good at those yet. But, I'm learning - slowly.

Randomly spotted sign on Thistle Street.
     And then there's the accent. In the middle of Fringe, my American accent marked me as a tourist. I heard a lot of, "Enjoy your holiday!" But now that Fringe is ending, people are starting to question why I'm still here. It's making for more interesting conversations. "We just moved here." "Really? Oh, wow!"

A pub near our new flat.
     I'm a bit of a mimic, so I imagine I'll pick up the accent soon - much to the annoyance of my friends in the states when I return, I'm guessing.

A miniature of the real ones - The Kelpies.
     I've heard people make fun of folks who pick up or adopt accents after a short time away. But now that I'm here, I get it. It's not that you're trying to be charming or cute, it's that you're simply trying to fit in, to be accepted, to not have your nationality bias the opinions of those with whom you're speaking. And while it can be fun to be different, there are times when you just want to be anonymous, to be a part of the crowd.
     So, how long does it take to feel embedded in a new place? Will being a student help me feel more a part of the heartbeat of this thriving city? How long before I know people by name and they know me? Before I'm saying 'hi' to folks on the streets?
     Ironically, Edinburgh is actually a small town and it's already happening. I'm beginning to know folks - the man who sells us our meat, our wine, our cheese. The waitress from the local pub. Last night we went to hear a band at our nearest and new favorite pub, The Barony.

Our pub.
I already know the names of two of the bartenders and they recognize us and smile warmly when we come in. (Keep in mind - pubs here are not just about drinking - these are the community gathering places.) The band was fantastic and even played Little Feet - blew our minds! It was so fun to feel a part of a local crowd in our new neighborhood. In fact, it's one thing I love most about Edinburgh, it truly is a small town despite its largesse. And while I still pinch myself over how lucky I am to be here, I have a long way to go before I feel at home. Even so, I can feel it happening bit by bit, friend by friend. Love it!

Princes Street Gardens.

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7. SIX New Release Giveaways, plus author interviews and what's new this week of 8/31

There are a whopping twenty-two new YA books releasing this week, and we have giveaways for six of them! Take a read over the week's offerings, and let us know what you're looking forward to reading in the comments!

Happy reading,
Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Jen, Sandra and Anisaa

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK

Paper Hearts
by Meg Wiviott
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
International

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released 9/1/2015

Amid the brutality of Auschwitz during the Holocaust, a forbidden gift helps two teenage girls find hope, friendship, and the will to live in this novel in verse that’s based on a true story.

An act of defiance.
A statement of hope.
A crime punishable by death.

Making a birthday card in Auschwitz was all of those things. But that is what Zlatka did, in 1944, for her best friend, Fania. She stole and bartered for paper and scissors, secretly creating an origami heart. Then she passed it to every girl at the work tables to sign with their hopes and wishes for happiness, for love, and most of all—for freedom.

Fania knew what that heart meant, for herself and all the other girls. And she kept it hidden, through the bitter days in the camp and through the death marches. She kept it always.

This novel is based on the true story of Fania and Zlatka, the story of the bond that helped them both to hope for the best in the face of the worst.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Paper Hearts?

My most favorite thing about PAPER HEARTS is that it is true.

Purchase Paper Hearts at Amazon
Purchase Paper Hearts at IndieBound
View Paper Hearts on Goodreads

* * * *

The Body Institute
by Carol Riggs
Signed Paperback Giveaway
U.S. Only

Entangled: Teen
Released 9/1/2015

Meet Morgan Dey, one of the top teen Reducers at The Body Institute.

Thanks to cutting-edge technology, Morgan can temporarily take over another girl's body, get her in shape, and then return to her own body--leaving her client slimmer, more toned, and feeling great. Only there are a few catches...

For one, Morgan won't remember what happens in her "Loaner" body. Once she's done, she won't recall walks with her new friend Matt, conversations with the super-cute Reducer she's been text-flirting with, or the uneasy feeling she has that the director of The Body Institute is hiding something. Still, it's all worth it in the name of science. Until the glitches start...

Suddenly, residual memories from her Loaner are cropping up in Morgan's mind. She's feeling less like herself and more like someone else. And when protests from an anti-Body Institute organization threaten her safety, she'll have to decide if being a Reducer is worth the cost of her body and soul...

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Body Institute?

I’m extremely fascinated by thoughts of “What would it be like, being someone else?” I mean LITERALLY, walking in their shoes. Would I act more like them if I lived their lives, saw the things they did, and experienced their struggles? Often we make assumptions about other people, and it’s intriguing to wonder if those assumptions would change, given the opportunity to become another person and live inside his or her skin. My main character, Morgan Dey, has exactly that opportunity. Her “brainmap” is downloaded into another teen in order to help that girl lose weight. What she discovers is the story of THE BODY INSTITUTE.

Purchase The Body Institute at Amazon
Purchase The Body Institute at IndieBound
View The Body Institute on Goodreads

* * * *

Truest
by Jackie Lea Sommers
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Katherine Tegen Books
Released 9/1/2015

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening--and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister--and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.

Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Truest?

From beginning to end, my favorite thing about my novel has been Silas Hart—the goofy, curious, maddening young writer who moves into town and shakes up the narrator’s life. In fact, the entire story was built around him. In early 2012, I had this flash of insight that I was going about the whole writing thing wrong—so I set aside the two novels I’d been working on and started a new one by first creating a character whom I absolutely adored. That character was Silas, and that book is TRUEST. He’s the boy I wish I could have met when I was seventeen: brilliant, deep, romantic, and a total dork.

Purchase Truest at Amazon
Purchase Truest at IndieBound
View Truest on Goodreads

* * * *

The Shadow Behind the Stars
by Rebecca Hahn
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Released 9/1/2015

A girl’s dark destiny could cause the unraveling of the world in this spellbinding novel from the author of A Creature of Moonlight, which Kirkus Reviews called “cumulatively stunning” in a starred review.

Heed this warning, mortal: stay far away from the three sister Fates. For if they come to love you, they might bring about the end of the world…

Chloe is the youngest. Hers are the fingers that choose the wool, that shape the thread, that begin it. The sun smiles upon her. Men love her without knowing who she is. She has lived forever and will live forever more. She and her sisters have been on their isolated Greek island for centuries, longer than any mortal can remember. They spin, measure, and slice the countless golden threads of human life. They are the three Fates, and they have stayed separate for good reason: it is dangerous for them to become involved with the humans whose lives they shape.

So when a beautiful girl named Aglaia shows up on their doorstep, Chloe tries to make sure her sisters don’t become attached. But in seeking to protect them, Chloe discovers the dark power of Aglaia’s destiny. As her path unwinds, the three Fates find themselves pulled inextricably along—toward mortal pain, and mortal love, and a fate that could unravel the world.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Shadow Behind the Stars?

This is a difficult question! I feel as though I am much too close to the story to be able to pick one thing that I like better than all the other things. But since I have to choose . . . I’ll take the opportunity to discuss the main character’s (Chloe’s) relationship with the sun. In Greek mythology, the sun is a human-shaped god named Helios. THE SHADOW BEHIND THE STARS is inspired by Greek myths, but Chloe’s sun never descends to earth in human form or is even described explicitly as human-shaped. Nevertheless, he is personified in Chloe’s narration. She holds conversations with him and considers him a friend. For example, at the end of Part One, she says, “The sun reached down pale tendrils, gleaming at the ends of my hair, pulling me toward him, murmuring my name.”

I like their relationship because it shows the connection between the gods and nature: the sun in this story is absolutely a ball of fire in the sky, and he is also absolutely thinking and alive. Chloe and her sisters are the three Greek Fates, and the threads they spin form all human lives. So they are intimately connected with the mortal world and natural laws as well. Chloe loves nature, not only the sun but also the sea and the wind. Sometimes nature is beautiful and kind: warm breezes, gentle waves. But sometimes it is harsh, just as human fates can be harsh. A big question in the book is how far Chloe and her sisters can get around the laws of nature. The sun may be immortal, but he still must set every evening. There are rules to the universe that not even gods can bend.


Purchase The Shadow Behind the Stars at Amazon
Purchase The Shadow Behind the Stars at IndieBound
View The Shadow Behind the Stars on Goodreads

* * * *

Violent Ends
by Shaun David Hutchinson, Neal Shusterman, Brendan Shusterman, Beth Revis, Cynthia Leitich Smith
Hardcover Giveaway
Simon Pulse
Released 9/1/2015

In a one-of-a-kind collaboration, seventeen of the most recognizable YA writers—including Shaun David Hutchinson, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, and Beth Revis—come together to share the viewpoints of a group of students affected by a school shooting.

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others.

But this isn't a story about the shooting itself. This isn't about recounting that one unforgettable day.

This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim's viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he'd become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties.

This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA's most recognizable names.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Violent Ends?

From Shaun Hutchinson: My favorite thing about VIOLENT ENDS is that it offers no easy answers.

The Secret Service compiled a report after the shootings at Columbine in an attempt to create a profile of the type of person most likely to become a school shooter. According to the report (The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications For the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States, which you can and should read at: http://www.secretservice.gov/ntac/ssi_final_report.pdf) "There is no accurate or useful 'profile' of students who engaged in targeted school violence."

That was the thing that struck me the most while researching school shootings. When a violent attack happens, survivors, the media, amateur arm-chair psychoanalysts attempt to figure out why. Inevitably they find something they can blame—goth music or violent video games or mental illness or lax gun control laws—and they become so myopically focused on that one thing they lose sight of the bigger picture.

Instead of trying to offer explanations for what Kirby did by telling stories about a school shooter, VIOLENT ENDS offers a multifaceted picture of a real person. Because I strongly believe that if we want to stop school violence before it happens, we need to stop trying to profile children and viewing them as potential shooters, and start seeing them as real and whole people. And it's my sincere hope VIOLENT ENDS does that.


Purchase Violent Ends at Amazon
Purchase Violent Ends at IndieBound
View Violent Ends on Goodreads

* * * *

Anne & Henry
by Dawn Ius
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 9/1/2015

In this wonderfully creative retelling of the infamous—and torrid—love affair between Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, history collides with the present when a sizzling romance ignites in a modern-day high school.

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

Inspired by the true story of Anne Boleyn and King Henry VIII, Anne & Henry beautifully reimagines the intensity, love, and betrayal between one of the most infamous couples of all time.

Purchase Anne & Henry at Amazon
Purchase Anne & Henry at IndieBound
View Anne & Henry on Goodreads

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Another Day by David Levithan - D S.
Code of Honor by Alan Gratz - Gloria C.
Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano - Kelly N.
Stranded by Melinda Braun - Rosie G.
Thirteen Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt - Annette
Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines - Maggie H.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

Cut Both Ways
by Carrie Mesrobian
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 9/1/2015

Will Caynes never has been good with girls. At seventeen, he’s still waiting for his first kiss. He’s certainly not expecting it to happen in a drunken make-out session with his best friend, Angus. But it does and now Will’s conflicted—he knows he likes girls, but he didn’t exactly hate kissing a guy.

Then Will meets Brandy, a cute and easy-to-talk-to sophomore. He’s totally into her too—which proves, for sure, that he’s not gay. So why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly?

Will knows he can’t keep seeing both of them, but besides his new job in a diner, being with Brandy and Angus are the best parts of his whole messed-up life. His divorced parents just complicate everything. His father, after many half-baked business ventures and endless house renovations, has started drinking again. And his mom is no help—unless loading him up with a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need plus sticking him with his twin half-sisters counts as parenting. He’s been bouncing between both of them for years, and neither one feels like home.

Deciding who to love, who to choose, where to live. Whichever way Will goes, someone will get hurt. Himself, probably the most.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Cut Both Ways?

My favorite thing about this book is the favorite thing about my other books, which is kind of a secret I guess: my favorite characters are not my boy narrators, but the female characters in each: Baker Trieste, in Sex & Violence; Neecie Albertson, in Perfectly Good White Boy; and Brandy Corvallis, in Cut Both Ways. I love Brandy because she is a girl who has survived bad things and has family that has come to save her from them in an unconventional way, but a loving one. She is also a girl that is watching from the periphery and is discovering she can be put in the center, instead of always looking from the edge with her camera as a cover. I love that she explores her relationship with Will in ways that involve risk, both physical and emotional. I love the way her bedroom looks. I love her hobbies, I love her clothes, I love her fondness for spending her babysitting paycheck at Target. I love how she is open about her feelings despite being hurt so badly by her mother and grandmother. I love the person she is becoming, which is something I love about my female teenaged students I teach as well. I love their vulnerability, their efforts, their mistakes, their worries, their obsessive interests. I'm proud of them, for moving bravely and continuously in this world that often hurts them, and it makes me so happy to write the beginning phase of the journey for a girl Brandy Corvallis.

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Everything, Everything
by Nicola Yoon
Hardcover
Delacorte Press
Released 9/1/2015

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Everything, Everything?

Hmmm, that’s a really difficult question to answer! My favorite thing about it may be that it’s being published!

But seriously, it’s very hard to choose. For both sentimental and artistic reasons, I really love the illustrations that my husband did. When I was writing it, I did my own very terrible version of each drawing to give my husband an idea of what I was looking for. To his credit, he never laughed at how completely awful my drawings were. He took my stick figures and turned each one into something beautiful. We also had a really wonderful time collaborating on it — so much so that we’re planning to do more projects together in the future!


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Vengeance Road
by Erin Bowman
Hardcover
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 9/1/2015

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.     

In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Vengeance Road?

The genre! I know this is a broad answer, but I've wanted to write a YA western for ages and just never had the right story kernel. Kate (Vengeance Road's main character) finally appeared for me in 2013 and I got straight to work!

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Vivian Apple Needs a Miracle
by Katie Coyle
Hardcover
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 9/1/2015

“GET ANGRY. We should all be so pissed at the Church of America that we’re willing to break our hands in the metaphorical punching of its metaphorical face.” —Harpreet Janda, fugitive

The predicted Rapture by Pastor Frick’s Church of America has come and gone, and three thousand Believers are now missing or dead. Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple and her best friend, Harpreet, are revolutionaries, determined to expose the Church’s diabolical power grab . . . and to locate Viv’s missing heartthrob, Peter Ivey. This fast-paced, entertaining sequel to Vivian Apple at the End of the World challenges readers to consider how to live with integrity in a disintegrating world.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Vivian Apple Needs a Miracle?

When I started writing about her, I didn’t consider Vivian Apple’s story to be a particularly political one. I thought it was a pretty simple coming-of-age narrative about a girl learning to define herself in opposition to her parents, whom she deeply loves. But once I began building the world of the story of VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD (which continues and concludes now in VIVIAN APPLE NEEDS A MIRACLE), I realized there was so much I wanted to say about the world in which I live—specifically, the intersection of religion, politics, media, and capitalism. These are, obviously, Big Ideas and I would be the last person to label myself a nuanced political philosopher. But my favorite thing about VIVIAN APPLE NEEDS A MIRACLE is I feel satisfied that I managed to articulate my concerns and fears about this intersection, hopefully in a way that resonates with readers. Every day, I see stories in the news that remind me of Vivian’s world (most recently and alarmingly, when ten presidential candidates were asked in an official debate whether God had spoken to them and what He’d said), and I’m proud and a little uncomfortable that VIVIAN APPLE NEEDS A MIRACLE is as relevant as it is.

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MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK

A Whole New World
by Liz Braswell
Hardcover
Disney Press
Released 9/1/2015

What if Aladdin had never found the lamp? This first book in the A Twisted Tale line will explore a dark and daring version of Disney's Aladdin.

When Jafar steals the Genie's lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.

Purchase A Whole New World at Amazon
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Catacomb
by Madeleine Roux
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 9/1/2015

Sometimes the past is better off buried.

Senior year is finally over. After all they’ve been through, Dan, Abby, and Jordan are excited to take one last road trip together, and they’re just not going to think about what will happen when the summer ends. But on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, the three friends notice that they are apparently being followed. And Dan starts receiving phone messages from someone he didn’t expect to hear from again—someone who died last Halloween.

As the strange occurrences escalate, Dan is forced to accept that everything that has happened to him in the past year may not be a coincidence, but fate—a fate that ties Dan to a group called the Bone Artists, who have a sinister connection with a notorious killer from the past. Now Dan’s only hope is that he will make it out of his senior trip alive.

In this finale to the New York Times bestselling Asylum series, found photographs help tell the story of three teens who exist on the line between past and present, genius and insanity.

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* * * *

Firewalker
by Josephine Angelini
Hardcover
Feiwel & Friends
Released 9/1/2015

Worlds divide, magic slays, and love lies in the second book of Josephine Angelini’s The Worldwalker Trilogy.

"You think I’m a monster, but my choices, as ruthless as they seem, are justified."

Lily is back in her own universe, and she's ready to start a new life with Rowan by her side. True, she almost died in the Pyre that fueled their escape from New Salem, and must hide her magic for the safety of everyone she cares about, but compared to fighting the Woven, the monstrous creatures inhabiting the alternate Salem, life is looking pretty good.

Unfortunately, Lillian, ruthless ruler of the 13 Cities, is not willing to let Lily go that easily. If she can’t persuade Lily to return to her world, she will force her to come back by doing away with the ones she loves.

Picking up right where Trial By Fire left off, Firewalker is another sexy, fast-paced, heartbreaking thrill ride from internationally bestselling author Josephine Angelini!

Purchase Firewalker at Amazon
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* * * *

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between
by Jennifer Smith
Hardcover
Poppy
Released 9/1/2015

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they'll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

This new must-read novel from Jennifer E. Smith, author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, explores the difficult choices that must be made when life and love lead in different directions.

Purchase Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between at Amazon
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* * * *

Hunter
by Mercedes Lackey
Hardcover
Disney-Hyperion
Released 9/1/2015

Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open, allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc and destroy entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close-knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

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* * * *

Infinite in Between
by Carolyn Mackler
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 9/1/2015

Printz Honor author Carolyn Mackler returns with this striking new novel that chronicles the lives of five teenagers through the thrills, heartbreaks, and joys of their four years in high school.

Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. So much can happen in those in-between years….

Zoe feels like she will live forever in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thought he wanted to be more than just a band geek. And Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s all falling apart around her.

Echoing aspects of John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, Carolyn Mackler skillfully brings the stories of these five disparate teens together to create a distinct and cohesive whole—a novel about how we can all affect one another’s lives in the most unexpected and amazing ways.

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* * * *

Queen of Shadows
by Sarah J Maas
Hardcover
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Released 9/1/2015

Sarah J. Maas's New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series reaches new heights in this sweeping fourth volume.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

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* * * *

The Dogs
by Allan Stratton
Hardcover
Sourcebooks Fire
Released 9/1/2015

Cameron and his mom have been on the run for five years. His father is hunting them. At least, that’s what Cameron’s been told.

When they settle in an isolated farmhouse, Cameron starts to see and hear things that aren’t possible. Soon he’s questioning everything he thought he knew and even his sanity.

What's hiding in the night? Buried in the past? Cameron must uncover the dark secrets before they tear him apart.

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The Fate of Ten
by Pittacus Lore
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 9/1/2015

The sixth book in the thrilling, action-packed, New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series! For years the Garde have fought the Mogadorians in secret. Now all of that has changed. The invasion has begun. If the Garde can't find a way to stop the Mogs, humanity will suffer the same fate as the Lorien: annihilation.

There is still hope. When the Elders sent the Garde to Earth, they had a plan—one which the Garde are finally starting to understand. In the climax of The Revenge of Seven, a group of the Garde traveled to an ancient pyramid in Mexico known to their people as the Sanctuary. There they awoke a power that had been hidden within our planet for generations. Now this power can save the world . . . or destroy it. It will all depend on who wields it.

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* * * *

The Foxglove Killings
by Tara Kelly
Hardcover
Entangled: Teen
Released 9/1/2015

Gramps always said that when the crickets were quiet, something bad was coming. And the crickets have been as silent as the dead. It started with the murdered deer in the playground with the unmistakable purple of a foxglove in its mouth. But in the dying boondock town of Emerald Cove, life goes on.

I work at Gramps's diner, and the cakes — the entitled rich kids who vacation here — make our lives hell. My best friend, Alex Pace, is the one person who gets me. Only Alex has changed. He's almost like a stranger now. I can't figure it out...or why I'm having distinctly more-than-friend feelings for him. Ones I shouldn't be having.

Then one of the cakes disappears.

When she turns up murdered, a foxglove in her mouth, a rumor goes around that Alex was the last person seen with her — and everyone but me believes it. Well, everyone except my worst enemy, Jenika Shaw. When Alex goes missing, it's up to us to prove his innocence and uncover the true killer. But the truth will shatter everything I've ever known about myself — and Alex.

Purchase The Foxglove Killings at Amazon
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* * * *

The Trouble in Me
by Jack Gantos
Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 9/1/2015

A sharp-edged misadventure for teens from the Newbery Medalist—the perfect bridge between the Norvelt novels and his Printz Honor–winning YA memoir, Hole in My Life.

This fierce black comedy from the master of turning his own true story into semi-fictional gold charts the summer at age fourteen that his alter-ego's life starts to go off the rails. In his family's new rental home on a down-at-the heels street in sun-beaten Miami—with dog-eating alligators in the canal out back, a dangerously attractive girl across the road, and the unhinged Pagoda family next door—teen Jack is adrift, losing a sense of who he is and what he's all about. Which is why he ends up trying to morph himself into someone he's not, that someone being sixteen-year-old Gary Pagoda, a.k.a. Scary Gary, just back from juvie for car theft. Following Gary's lead that first time is just the start of Jack's series of bad decisions. It goes shockingly, hilariously downhill from there.

Purchase The Trouble in Me at Amazon
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* * * *

Whippoorwill
by Joseph Monninger
Hardcover
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 9/1/2015

Sixteen-year-old Clair Taylor has neighbors who are what locals call whippoorwills, the kind of people who fill their yards with rusty junk. Clair tries to ignore her surroundings, choosing instead to dream of a future beyond her rural New Hampshire town. But when a black dog named Wally is chained up to a pole next door, Clair can’t look the other way. Clair decides to save Wally, and the immediate connection she has with the lovable dog catches her off-guard, but even more surprising is her bond with eighteen-year-old Danny Stewart, the boy next door.

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0 Comments on SIX New Release Giveaways, plus author interviews and what's new this week of 8/31 as of 1/1/1900
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8. Song-Inspired Drabble Challenge

HippolyteHippolyte posted this awesome-tastic challenge for you on the Fan Fiction Message Board!

Heeeeeeeeey all!

So! This is a thing I saw in a STACKS Message Board a LONG time ago and though I’ve never participated myself, I figured it’s high time someone brings a new writing challenge. Here’s the deal:

You are to write a drabble inspired by the first song that comes up on shuffle. Grab your phones/ipods/mp3s/playlists or anything you have with music stored in it and a shuffle option, and enable said option. Your task is to write a short story (fan fiction or original) inspired by the song, for as long as the song is playing. Once the song is over, you stop writing and completely leave it be.

Rules:

  • You may skip songs in case you can’t get inspired, but don’t be too picky or you’ll just be shuffling forever.
  • You must skip any songs that are inappropriate either because of language or content. Any song that receives a rating beyond PG 13 according to your judgment should better be avoided. We trust your judgment.
  • In case you feel that a song with questionable content is still appropriate enough for this board, please mention all warnings that apply. Your story has to be 100% appropriate for all people on this boards. (As Moderator Katie says, don’t write something you wouldn’t say to a 7/8-year-old.)
  • Your drabble can be a fan fiction or an original one. No preferences, but in case of fan fiction, make sure that the fandom you’re writing for is appropriate for younger kids on STACKS (PG 13 at most).
    • “Completely leave it be” is just that. Don’t correct anything. Don’t play the song again. Don’t touch it; it’s already a masterpiece.
    • Stories are expected to be short. Just brainstorm something and leave it in its raw beauty for the world to see.
    • Of course, you’re never obliged to post what you just wrote if you don’t want to. We’re only doing this for fun.

I hope everyone has fun! I also hope you’re not weak enough to decline the challenge. Mwahaha!

So leave your song title and artist in the Comments, and then go to the Fan Fiction Message Board to share your whole story.

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9. Physician and Medical Writer Oliver Sacks Has Died

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10. Chetan Bhagat Q & A

       The Times of India gets a number of writers to play along in its 'Write India' initiative, soliciting reader-questions for them; this month they offer Chetan Bhagat's responses to fifteen reader-questions

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11. August 31: On This Day

Well, it is the last day of August, the last day of winter - officially, anyway. The weather forecast for the rest of this week is still fairly cool - even with a bit of sun, it's likely to be windy. Thursday, my birthday, is predicted to be cold and wet. Rats!

Still, I thought it might be nice to have an on-this-day meme.

Not much in the way of books and writing., though poor Henry V of England died of dysentery, leaving his baby son, Henry VI, as king, and both of them were the subjects of Shakespeare plays.

Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed were chased by paparazzi and killed in a car crash, leading to thousands of words being written about it and a lot of fascinating conspiracy theories. Not the sort of writing history I'd like.

A lot of disasters happened on this day, which I'll skip here. 

Birthdays? A couple of Roman Emperors, Caligula and Commodus. Caligula had a chapter in The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, and that book inspired I, Claudius and Claudius The God by Robert Graves. 

There was DuBose Heyward, whose novel Porgy became, first a play by his wife, then an opera by Gershwin. I've never read the book or seen the show, but who hasn't heard at least a couple of those glorious songs? And speaking of musical shows, it's also the birthday of Alan J Lerner! 

There were some other authors, but the only one I have read was Leon Uris. I've read QBVII, Mila 18 and the blockbuster, Exodus. Trivia I read about that one says it has sold as many copies as Gone With The Wind

I read Exodus when I was in my teens - actually, about the time I was reading Gone With The Wind, come to think of it. I'm not sure where the battered paperback came from; my family had a lot of elderly books and recordings lying around. But I read it cover to cover and then, when I was in my later years of secondary school, I acquired a hardcover copy for 20c at a school fete. It was clean and in very good condition; I think it must have had a dust jacket at some stage, but without it, you wouldn't know it from new. It must have been donated by the teacher whose name was on it. 

Anyway, it meant I could read it again. And again. And so I did. 

The movie was a classic in its own right, but I couldn't help but feel that Paul Newman was miscast in the role of Ari Ben Canaan, the hero. He was just not the way I imagined Ari - and as for that American accent...! If Ari did speak perfect English - and I'm not sure he would - it would be with a British accent, not an American one, because that's who he learned his English from. Oh, well. The novelist was American. 

I do have a copy of the movie, but three hours is just too much for me - I've fallen asleep during the Tolkien movies, so would drop off in that.

I'd rather curl up with the novel. Off to the shelves to search!

Meanwhile, happy birthday, Leon!





0 Comments on August 31: On This Day as of 8/31/2015 7:51:00 AM
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12. 6 Authors + 5 Books = 1 Great Evening of Readings and Book Signings…


It’s been a busy summer of new releases from Mirror World Publishing, so they’re throwing a multi-author book launch event to celebrate! If you’re in the area or able, please come out and meet the authors of five new books. Here are the details:

When: September 3rd, 2015
Where: Artspeak Gallery, 1942 Wyandotte East, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Authors:

Sharon Ledwith - Legend of the Timekeepers
Justine Alley Dowsett and Murandy Damodred - Unintended
Rita Monette - The Legend of Ghost Dog Island
Elizabeth J. M. Walker - She Dreamed of Dragons
Nate Friedman - The Coffee Monster

From children's to middle grade, young adult and adult, Mirror World Publishing is launching creative fiction novels in every age category! Come out and hear the authors read from their new releases, pick up a signed copy, and stick around for your chance to win free books! Plus there’s going to be cupcakes and coffee on tap from local vendors. Yum!

BTW – Rita Monette is the special guest star, as she'll be coming in from Tennessee! So don't miss this opportunity to meet her and get your signed copy of The Legend of Ghost Dog Island! Hope to see you there! Cheers!

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13. Wes Craven, Horror Maestro, Dies at 76

The Hollywood Reporter http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/wes-craven-horror-maestro-dies-818806


Wes Craven
Wes Craven

He wrote and directed the first 'Nightmare on Elm Street' film, helmed the first four 'Scream' movies and guided Meryl Steep to an Oscar nom for 'Music of the Heart.'

Wes Craven, the famed maestro of horror known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76.

Craven, whose iconic Freddy Krueger character horrified viewers for years, died at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced. Survivors include his wife, producer and former Disney Studios vice president Iya Labunka.

Craven was a longtime summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard, where he moved permanently three years ago before returning to L.A. for work and health reasons.

Craven claimed to have gotten the idea for Elm Street from living next to a cemetery on a street of that name in the suburbs of Cleveland. The five Nightmare on Elm Street films were released from 1984-89 and drew big crowds.
Similarly, Craven's Scream series was a box-office sensation. In those scare-'em-ups, he spoofed the teen horror genre and frequently referenced other horror movies. 

Craven’s first feature film was The Last House on the Left, which he wrote, directed and edited in 1972. A rape-revenge movie, it appalled some viewers but generated big box office. Next came another film he wrote and helmed, The Hills Have Eyes (1977).

Craven re-invented the youth horror genre in 1984 with the classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, which he wrote and directed.
He conceived and co-wrote Elm Street III as well, and then after not being involved with other sequels, deconstructed the genre a decade after the original, writing and directing Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which was nominated for best feature at the 1995 Spirit Awards.
His own Nightmare players, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, portrayed themselves in that film.
In 1996, Craven reached a new level of success with the release of Scream. The film grossed more than $100 million domestically, as did Scream 2 (1997).
Between Scream 2 and Scream 3, Craven, offered the opportunity to direct a non-genre film for Miramax, helmed Music of the Heart (1999), earning Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for best actress in the inspirational drama about a teacher in Harlem.
“We had a very difficult time getting an audience into a theater on my name,” he said in an interview with writer-director Mick Garris in October. “In fact, we moved toward downplaying my name a lot on Music of the Heart. The more famous you are for making kinds of outrageous scary films, the crossover audience will say, ‘I don't think so.’”


Also in 1999, in the midst of directing, he completed his first novel, The Fountain Society, published by Simon & Shuster.
Craven again pushed the genre boundaries with the 2005 psychological thriller Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox. And in 2006, he wrote and directed a romantic comedy homage to Oscar Wilde featuring Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell as a segment in the French ensemble production Paris Je T’aime.
Craven then produced remakes of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Last House on the Left (2009).
His most recent written and directed film, My Soul to Take (2010), marked his first collaboration with Labunka, who also produced Scream 4.
Craven directed several other thrillers and horror movies during his career, including Swamp Thing (1982), Deadly Friend (1986) and The People Under the Stairs (1991).
Craven had recently signed an overall television deal with Universal Cable Productions and had a number of projects in development, including The People Under the Stairs with Syfy Networks, Disciples with UCP, We Are All Completely Fine with Syfy/UCP, and Sleepers with Federation Entertainment. 
He also was executive producing the new Scream series for MTV. The season finale of the series will pay tribute to the writer/director, an MTV spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter.
Craven had recently written and was to direct the Thou Shalt Not Kill segment for The Weinstein Co.'s Ten Commandments miniseries for WGN America. And he is listed as an executive producer of The Girl in the Photographs, a horror thriller directed by his protege, Nick Simon, which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month.
Wesley Earl Craven was born Aug. 2, 1939 in Cleveland. His father died when he was 5. Raised in a strict Baptist household, he graduated from Wheaton College with degrees in English and psychology, then earned a master's in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins.

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14. Lanark, the play

       Alasdair Gray's best-known work -- and modern classic -- Lanark has been turned into a play, by David Greig, and has now premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival; see their publicity page.
       Not an easy work to adapt -- but at a nearly four-hour running-time Greig seems to have tried to stuff a great deal in.
       Early reviews -- see those in The Guardian, The Observer, and The Stage -- have been enthusiastic.

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15. Jo’s Journey 2015 and Welcome Back to the Fall Blog Schedule

“Traveling is never a matter of money, but of courage.”—Paulo Coelho Sometimes it’s financial security that holds us back, other times it’s emotional security, but it takes courage to step outside your front door and head out into the world. … Continue reading

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16. The Chronicles of the Black Tulip: The Vanishing Island, Book 1, by Barry Wolverton, 338 pp, RL 4

In 2012 I reviewed Neversink, a superb, Watership Down-esque tale of animals living in the Arctic Circle by Barry Wolverton. I've been waiting three years to see what he does next and The Vanishing Island, the first book in the Chronicles of the Black Tulip series is every bit as exciting as Neversink and inventively set in the alternate past of 1599! The town of Map is the "dirtiest,

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17. An Interview With Carolyn Howard-Johnson – Creator of the How To Do It Frugally Series of Books

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is best known as The Frugal Book Promoter, but she has worn many hats including that of literary writer, poet, and writer for many well-known publications. We reached out to Carolyn to get her insights and wisdom on publishing, book marketing and editing.

Hi Carolyn, Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. For those who may not have seen your ‘The Frugal Book Promoter’ book, can you take a moment to tell us a little about yourself and your books?
I’m just a writer who love everything about writing. It’s a problem because that ranges from advocating for authors to copywriting to poetry and fiction. It makes it hard to focus, but it also keeps me positive and enthusiastic about writing.

You’ve seen the publishing space evolve over a long time. What’s different today?
I don’t think anything on the Web stays the same for more than a day. I had to learn the hard way. At first I wrote my how-tos for authors with as much detail about processes (like where to find things on Amazon) as possible. But page designs changed, links went bye-bye (even the ones famously called permalinks) and changes often meant that users needed to adjust everything from their philosophy to the way they work. That meant I had to adjust so I could bring authors more of what they need–both today and tomorrow. The basics like writing a great media release and putting together a great media kit never go away. And the way to think about promotion and marketing doesn’t change. So now I concentrate on things like how to make the most of a book fair or a book signing or suffer the consequences. Once we learn how to apply the basics, we can apply them no matter how the industry changes.
By the way, as a writer I formed a policy a long time ago. I don’t have to know all the tech all the time. I can learn what I need as the changes occur. You know. It’s learning on an as-needed basis.

Can you tell us a little more about ‘The Frugal Editor’ – why should authors read it?

Authors should read it because they for the first time they will be in charge of or partners in every aspect of publishing (one of those changes mentioned in the last question). Even if they snag a big New York publisher. Budgets are tighter. Authors want more control over their own careers if for no other reason than that–these days–they can! Knowing the difference between style choices and grammar rules will make better, more original authors of them! And this book does things that other books on editing don’t do, like help an author think like agents or other book professionals. Once we can do that, we’re in a better position to avoid major publishing booboos.
As an example, did you know that there are very few Jackie Onassis styles acquisition editors at publishing houses these days, that everyone is running on tighter budgets on everything from book cover artists to copy editors to marketing. Authors who don’t know about grammar and voice and formatting, and frontmatter and indexes, and . . .well, you get the idea! It’s a big publishing world out there, a world full of potholes just waiting for us to fall into.

Given that you recommend doing things frugally, should indie authors hire an editor for their books? How much does an average editing job cost? What are the benefits? How should an author select an editor?
These are all topics I cover in The Frugal Editor. In great detail. You don’t want me to write another book for you, do you? Ha!
Yes, everyone should hire an editor, but only a good editor. Authors who hire a typo hunter or their high school English teacher (who probably knows nothing about publishing) will waste their money. And we all know that most authors can ill afford to hire an editor for every document like query letters, press releases, media kits. And those are as vital to the success of a book as writing a great book. In The Frugal Editor I also caution writers: “You wouldn’t choose a contractor for a remodel of a house based solely on price, would you?”

What are some of the biggest mistakes newbie authors make with their books?
One of the biggest is signing a one-sided contract that protects the publisher and does nearly nothing for the author. One of the biggest editing mistakes is ignoring dialogue (nonfiction authors are especially guilty of this) or knowing nothing about writing dialogue or punctuating it. This is one aspect of writing that even those who grabbed down As in English have no training in whatsoever. Even those who think they do.

What are some of the simple, low-cost things that authors can do to promote their books
I love the kind of marketing that lets us do what authors usually like to do. That is, to write! So, in The Frugal Book Promoter, there is a chapter on marketing that covers ways to do that. My favorite is to write articles or edit excerpts from one’s own book to use as articles. . .or essays. . .or op-ed pieces. . .or first person columns.

How can an author get an outstanding book cover in a frugal manner?
How did you know! I am partnering with the cover designed I used for The Frugal Editor and The Frugal Book Promoter, Chaz DeSimone, to write a how-to book on this very topic. It’s amazing how much is involved in a great book cover, including marketing. Choosing a title. Thinking in advance about the future of the book and possible spinoffs. The use of keywords in the subtitle. Gleaning blurbs (endorsements) to go on the back cover–blurbs that are credible and help sell books.

Is it still possible to make a living as an author in today’s crowded marketplace? What can an average author expect from her publishing journey?
Absolutely! The keyword here is persistence. That means we have to continue to learn. As you have seen, we authors must be jacks-of-all-trades like we never had to before. You know those “overnight successes” we read about in the newspaper? They’re only overnight successes because we just heard of them. They’ve been honing their craft, teaching, developing new skills. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes about ten years for a person in any field to become an overnight success. Yes, I’m paraphrasing. But that’s the gist of it!

You’re also active on Pinterest. Is there any learning that you can share from here with authors?
One of the things I tell authors in The Frugal Book Promoter is to reread their book(s) with their marketing hats on. Fiction, poetry. Whatever. And watch the news cycles. We must keep wearing that marketing hat so that we can apply all the aspect of our books to what’s in the news, what’s on the Web, etc. Pinterest can be very efficient if we focus. Every author should have at least a few bulletin boards on the topic of writing or fields related to the theme or subject of their books and at least one bulletin board that makes it very clear that board is about that author’s books and writing career.
I have a marketing device, I use. I tell those who subscribe to my newsletter and blogs: “You pin my book cover (or covers), and I’ll pin yours.” But I can’t do it if I can’t find their covers on their Pinterest page or have to dig through 500 pins to find it! You’ll notice that little motto is in my e-mail signature, too:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program
Author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
Amazon Profile: http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile
The Frugal Book Promoter: http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo
Web site: http://www.HowToDoItFrugally.com
E-mail: CarolynHowardJ@AOL.com
Facebook: http://Facebook.com/carolynhowardjohnson
Twitter: http://Twitter.com/FrugalBookPromo
Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/chowardjohnson
You pin one of my book covers, and I’ll pin one of yours!
Let’s Network Today!

Where can readers find you on the web?
I like to send readers and authors directly to my sales pages on Amazon when possible but they can find all kinds of resources for themselves on my Web site: http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Just click on the Writers Resources tab on the top of the home page. And, yep! They can find what they need about all of my books there. We should never forget that people don’t only visit our sites to buy a book. There should be something there that will benefit them besides the book an author wants to sell.
PS: Authors can sign up for my SharingwithWriters newsletter there, too. There is a signup form on almost every page of my Web site.

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18. French Concession review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Xiao Bai's French Concession.

       I was particularly curious about this one, because Yao Minji, in Old Shanghai thriller lures Western publisher, noted:

The novel by Shanghai author Xiao Bai sold only moderately well in China, but it has the elements that appeal to Western readers.
       Personally, I'd much rather see titles that are more popular in China, even if that means they're ostensibly mystifying to 'Western' readers -- and, indeed, despite whatever Western-reader-appealing elements this novel (supposedly) has, it turns out not to be a very good one. I'm not particularly surprised it wasn't a big hit in China -- and I suspect it won't be in the 'West' either; sure, aspects of it are interesting -- but it's also a mess.
       I fear publishers still haven't hit on the formula of Chinese fiction translating into Western success ..... (I also fear they are going about it mostly, if not all, wrong -- but then that would be more or less par for the publisher course, at least as far as the majors are concerned.)

       (Note also that this was a work-for-hire translation -- translator Chenxin Jiang didn't get to keep the copyright (as she should have), instead it's: "English language translation © HarperCollins". Yes, there are exceptions -- Elena Ferrante, sigh ... -- but basically it's a good rule of thumb: if the translator doesn't have the copyright the work is much more likely not to be ... of the highest quality .....)

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19. MMGM Links 8/31/15

I'm officially in that panicked home stretch, trying to race to The End of LET THE WIND RISE. So my brain is a blur of wind wars and sylph world building. But here's an attempt at this week's MMGM links:

- Mary Kincaid joins the MMGM fun with a feature on HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL. Click HERE to welcome her to the group.  
- Michelle Mason is casting her vote for DON'T VOTE FOR ME, with an author interview and a GIVEAWAY. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Cindy at Cindy Reads A Lot has chills for FIERCE WINDS AND FIERY DRAGONS, along with an interview. Click HERE to check it out.
- Sher A Hart is gushing about DRAGONS OF THE DARK RIFT. Click HERE to read her review.
- Jess at the Reading Nook wishes she could go to THE SCHOOL FOR SIDEKICKS. Click HERE to see why.
- Katie at Story Time Secrets  is sweet on THE FRIENDSHIP GARDEN: GREEN THUMBS-UP. Click HERE to see why.    
- Greg Pattridge is building a FORT. Click HERE to read his review.   
- Suzanne Warr is back and talking Mythbusters and 20 MASTER PLOTS and THE FIRST FIFTY PAGES. Click HERE to see what that's all about. 
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.   
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.   
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!


If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love on a Monday (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately--and please don't forget to say what book you're featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday. (usually before 11pm PST is safe--but if I'm traveling it can vary. When in doubt, send early!) (Also make sure the post you send me is a new post, not one from earlier in the week. I try to keep the content fresh)

If you miss the cutoff, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you, but I will not have time to update the post. Same goes for typos/errors on my part. I do my best to build the links correctly, but sometimes deadline-brain gets the best of me, and I'm sorry if it does. For those wondering why I don't use a Linky-widget instead, it's a simple matter of internet safety. The only way I can ensure that all the links lead to safe, appropriate places for someone of any age is if I build them myself. It's not a perfect system, but it allows me to keep better control.

Thank you so much for being a part of this awesome meme, and spreading the middle grade love!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

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20. Little Robot Blog Tour

Thanks to First Second Books for providing a review copy and a giveaway for Ben Hatke's latest title, Little Robot, due out this coming Tuesday (09/01/2015)! Read on for my honest review, and remember to check the rest of the blog tour stops along the way for more reviews and chances to win!

About the Book

When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy for nefarious purposes, and it's all up to a five-year-old armed only with a wrench and a fierce loyalty to her mechanical friend to save the day!

#1 New York Times Bestselling author Ben Hatke brings his signature sweetness to a simple, moving story about friendship and overcoming fears that will appeal to readers of all ages.

 

Visit the publisher's page to view excerpts and find links to purchase the book.

Click here to find out more

 

About the Author

Ben Hatke is the author and illustrator of the New York Times bestselling Zita the Spacegirl graphic novel trilogy and the picture book Julia's House for Lost Creatures. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters. His latest book is Little Robot.

Alethea's Review

Even if you've never read a Ben Hatke book or graphic novel before, you're in for a treat with Little Robot. Hatke's drawing and storytelling style is deceptively simple; at first glance it doesn't seem like there's much going on--muted color palette, subtle lines, mostly wordless panels. But as you turn the pages, a deeper appreciation takes root as you get to know the characters and their quirks. 

A lonesome little girl finds a robot after it literally falls off a truck. Unpacking the Little Robot, she tinkers with it a bit as it seems unsteady and unsure. After parking the little robot in a junkyard car overnight, she returns the next day for adventures and play. Little Robot goes along with her, and for a while things are great--but then a big, mean robot from the warehouse is sent to retrieve the missing unit. As if that weren't enough to deal with, Little Robot doesn't seem to understand the difference between "alive" and "not alive", and starts to look for things that are a little more like him, and a lot less like his new friend.

Hatke deftly illustrates emotion, not just on the part of the little girl--her elation at finding a companion, the enthusiasm she puts into fixing things with her tools (she wears them on a handy utility belt), and her dismay when her new pal seems less interested in her and more interested in an abandoned pickup truck they find. He also infuses personality into everything from a beat up old truck to a perky transistor radio, and admirably does so with an economy of words. Little Robot and various other androids that appear later in the book show varying degrees of sentience, and the interplay between them makes for some funny, but also touching, scenes. Tension builds when Little Robot, Little Girl, and Big Robot's objectives clash and result in some unexpected twists. A few action sequences also liven up the plot, and the little girl has to rely on her wits and mechanical know-how to get out of a tight spot.

Aside from presenting us with spirited, playful art and a compelling tale, Hatke takes a "traditionally" boy topic (technology) and turns it on its ear with a non-white female character as the protagonist, doing so without losing the everyman (or everywoman?) appeal of a darned good yarn. 

5 stars - stay up all night

Blog Tour Schedule

Read Now Sleep Later, 8/31 http://www.readnowsleeplater.org/

Teen Lit Rocks, 9/1 http://teenlitrocks.com/

Cherry Blossoms and Maple Syrup, 9/2 https://innocencewalker.wordpress.com/

Bibliophilia, Please, 9/3 http://www.bibliophiliaplease.com/

The Book Monsters, 9/4 http://thebookmonsters.com/

Fly to Fiction, 9/5 http://flytofiction.blogspot.com/

Bumbles & Fairy Tales, 9/6 http://bumblesandfairytales.blogspot.com/

Stacked Books, 9/7 http://stackedbooks.org/

Ex Libris Kate, 9/8 http://exlibriskate.com/

The Book Rat, 9/9 http://www.thebookrat.com/

Working for the Mandroid, 9/10 http://www.workingforthemandroid.com/

Heise Reads, 9/11 http://www.heisereads.com/

The Hiding Spot, 9/12 http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com/

Fleen, 9/13 http://fleen.com/

Cuddlebuggery, 9/14 http://cuddlebuggery.com/

Giveaway Time

Win Little Robot by Ben Hatke, prize provided by the publisher, First Second Books. Just enter with the Rafflecopter widget below!

  1. Open to the US only, ends 9/8/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
  5. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  6. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  7. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  8. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  9. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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21. My tweets

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22. Ancient Earth Journal: The Early Cretaceous, by Juan Carlos Alonso and Gregory S. Paul | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Ancient Earth Journal: The Early Cretaceous (Quatro Kids Books, 2015), written by Juan Carlos Alonso and Gregory S. Paul. Giveaway begins August 31, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends September 30, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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23. Rich And Rare: A Sneak Peek Cover Reveal!

This Ford Street anthology, in which I have my Eugowra robbery story, is coming out in late October, earlier than originally planned, yay!  It will be launched at whichever school wins the privilege(last time it was Princes Hill). I do hope it's somewhere I can reach easily. The book is the third Trust Me! anthology, but they've changed the title and they have certainly changed the cover. Take a look: 


                                                     

It's by Shaun Tan. Not at all like the covers of the first two, with their photos of teenage boys! But Paul Collins said that the second anthology was so like the first in appearance that people were getting them mixed up and the second volume hadn't sold as well as the first. So here we are with a cover by one of Oz's top cover artists. 

What do you think of it?
   

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24. New Book Brings People Closer to the Intriguing Life of Dinosaurs

What is it about dinosaurs that intrigue us so much? There are lots of extinct animals, some are even stranger than the dinosaurs. Yet when it comes to capturing our imagination, dinosaurs rule.

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25. Guest Post: Juliet Blackwell on Setting

Note from Erin: Today I’m happy to turn the blog over to NYT bestselling author Juliet Blackwell. Her latest novel, THE PARIS KEY, releases tomorrow, and Juliet’s been kind enough to share some of her thoughts on writing larger-than-life settings… 

You’ve Chosen Your Setting – Now What?

The Paris Key cover

Who cares where your story takes place? Just about everybody.

A well-chosen setting grounds your story in the reality of a particular place and time. It’s more than a flat backdrop against which themes and metaphors unfold. The setting is a character in its own right, and as such helps to propel the story forward, to reveal character, to heighten tension, and ultimately, to provide resolution.

CREATING THE SETTING

Who died and made you God? Setting is your opportunity for world-building. The importance of the right setting is most apparent in fantasy and science fiction writing, but is equally true for mysteries and mainstream fiction. A story’s setting forces the passage of time, unleashes weather, changes seasons and offers landscapes and skylines and history. It imposes restrictions upon your characters, as well as offering unique opportunities and challenges. The city of Paris, France, is real and familiar to many but in my novel, The Paris Key, I had to bring it to life for those who’ve never visited. Setting the story in Paris not only shaped what my characters could do and how, but allowed me to incorporate unique features, such as the city’s subterranean catacombs and the gargoyles high atop Notre Dame, as metaphors for my character’s journey as she unearthed family secrets and determined her own future.

Make it resonate: Evoking the texture of your setting is critical: make your fictional world as tactile and present to your reader as it is to the characters in the story. Address all five senses: sight, sound, feeling, taste—and don’t forget scent! Good or bad, our sense of smell is primal and evocative. An American in Paris may initially be struck by the beauty of its historic architecture, the grand museums, and well-tended parks, but will always remember the aromas of fresh baked bread from the boulangeries, sweets at the patisseries, coffee at the sidewalk cafes, the fresh rain on the pavement and the sometimes funky-smelling waters of the Seine.

Propel your story: Run out of ideas for your character halfway through your story? Look to your setting to ratchet up the emotional stakes for your character and move the story along. In The Paris Key, my protagonist can’t slip easily through her days because she is in a foreign country and has limited language skills. She struggles to understand—and to make herself understood—and even simple tasks are made challenging by a new language, different customs, and France’s legendary bureaucracy.

YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTER

If you make your setting the heart of your tale it will pump warmth or frigidity, comfort or strife, familiarity or strangeness through the entirety of your story.

Reveal character: Use your setting to reveal aspects of your protagonist’s character, whether through comfort with the surroundings, or conflict, or both. The Paris Key is essentially a tale of reinvention as my protagonist struggles to cope with being a newcomer, a fish out of water, a stranger in an unfamiliar (yet charming, this being Paris!) culture. The sights and sounds of Paris surround her and dictate her internal conflicts. Everyday activities pose new and unexpected difficulties and the struggle inspires constant questions: Is it worth it? Should I give up and go home? What have I done?

Different Time, Different Place: The unique history of the time period is, of course, a crucial part of your setting. Storylines from different eras might take place in the same physical setting, but the passage of time changes and affects the surroundings. The contrast between two different time periods can help tell your story: how have social customs and expectations, governments and communities changed? A secondary tale in The Paris Key has to do with a character damaged by the Basque struggles against the legacy of the Franco dictatorship; his presence in the City of Light, so far from Spain, brings the fight to the streets of Paris and echoes the brutality of World War II. On a personal level, his story becomes part of the family secrets the protagonist find buried in the catacombs.

Heighten conflict and find resolution: Setting can be the catalyst for plot development. Literally and metaphorically, our environment molds us. We may all be the same underneath, but think how different the life experiences of someone born and raised on a farm in California, compared to someone born and raised in Paris. The protagonist in The Paris Key has always held herself apart from others, but she finds this impossible in Paris, partly because of a culture of neighborliness she find herself in, and partly because the foreign setting makes her dependent on the kindness of strangers. As the novel progresses, the catacombs and the streets of Paris are the setting for the story’s resolution, as they reveal their secrets and the protagonist is forced to come to terms with her mother’s story, and the truth about her own past.

DON’T TACK IT ON

Whatever you do, make your setting integral to your book. Give it a purpose. Whether a story is set on a distant planet, in a spaceship, in a small American town, or a large French city, reveal the setting slowly over the course of your story, as you would any character. Allow your readers to “meet” your setting with fresh eyes at first, and uncover the complexity of the environment slowly, through the interactions of the story’s characters. Let the setting help you to frame and arrive at your resolution, as the environment makes its impact known. Remember, your setting can reflect, embody, or fight with your characters, but at the very least it will affect your novel’s emotional landscape, from first word to last.

juliet author photoJULIET BLACKWELL is the author of The Paris Key (Berkley/Penguin; 9/1/15), the New York Times bestselling Witchcraft Mysteries and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind she wrote the Agatha-Award nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series. She is past president of Northern California Sisters in Crime and former board member of Mystery Writers of America. For more, visit: http://www.julietblackwell.net.

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