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Some days I’m more “quirky” than others. This is one of those days. Instead of just telling you that your middle grade children (grades 4, 5, 6, 7) are not too old for you to keep up that nightly ritual of reading, I’ve made some alterations to a classic Journey song. You can laugh or roll your eyes, but the message will be the same. They’re getting older, but it doesn’t lessen their enthusiasm for books. Nor does it mean they don’t need us there to help them navigate some of the issues that their favourite characters are facing. Bottom line? Take fifteen minutes at the end of the night, curl up on someone’s bed, and keep reading.
Don’t Stop the Readin’ (adapted from Journey’s Don’t stop believin’– hardcore Journey fans…I’m sorry (ps: it helps if you listen to the song in the background softly so you can read with the beat)
Just a grade five girl Readin’ bout’ a wizard world She read the whole series Loved the characters Just a grade six boy Thinks he doesn’t like to read He found The Outsiders Thinks he’s Ponyboy
His father comes into the room The moon is out the day is done For a while they can read tonight It goes on and on and on and on
Parents reading Learnin’ bout the Hunger Games, Heroes like Percy Annabeth Quests and danger Find out what your kids are lovin’ Read with them every night
Workin’ hard to pay the bills One on one time is such a thrill Read a story, talk about your day It’s worth the time Picture Book Non-Fiction Doesn’t matter what you read Graphic novels, Patterson The list can go on and on and on
They aren’t too old Even in the middle grades Let them read to you Read to them Make it matter A great way to stay connected Just fifteen minutes a night
Don’t stop the readin’ Hold on to that feelin’ With your children Don’t stop the readin’ Nielsen, Sachar, Judy Blume They keep you readin’ Keep on reading!
They've announced the shortlists for the French prix Femina -- notable because it has three categories: fiction (French), foreign fiction, and non-fiction.
There doesn't seem to be an official site, so see, for example, Prix Femina 2014: Le jury dévoile ses finalistes at 20 minutes.
Three of the five foreign-fiction finalists are translations of books written int English.
Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock are the creators of fantastic books about all the things that gigantic, hardworking vehicles specialize in. The illustrations provide all the details little listeners love and the texts are packed with onomatopoetic words that make these books fun to read and especially entertaining. Their newest book, CONSTRUCTION, begins, Dig the ground. Dig the ground.
Dwell Studio have released several new collections including the very sweet 'Posey' design on baby's bedding and accessories. Dwellstudio was founded in New York in 1999 by Christiane Lemieux and its modern design aesthetic soon won it lots of enthusiastic customers. Besides Posey the latest ranges for children and babies include Chevalier, Flight, Wildwood and Pompom. I have also included
Dwell Studio have also teamed up with Robert Allen to create a bold, 60s-inspired collection that pays homage to decor magazines of the past. The new line puts an urban twist on the retro colors and can be seen online here.
And below are a selection of recent arrivals to Dwell Studio's main range including this unusual aviary bird design in yellow, grey and black..
(This post originally appeared in a slightly different form on my personal blog in October, 2010. I revisited it recently and decided to share it here.)
Wouldn’t it be great if, when you went to your mailbox today, you found a letter inside from the main character of your work-in-progress, telling you just how she feels about the central conflict of your story? Or maybe she wrote a love letter to another one of your characters, and somehow it was misdirected to you? Imagine what a resource a letter like that would be…
When I do my outlining for a new WIP, I write up a lot of backstory. I also do character sketches, to help me form a clear idea of each of my characters – not just hair color, eye color, and favorite movie, but what they would do on a perfect spring day, where they would go on vacation if money were no object, even how they feel about money, in general. I try to think of the most revealing questions possible. These sketches help me with the essentials of my characters, but they only get me so far.
That’s why I’ve taken to writing first-person narratives – letters to me, if you will – in the voice of each character. These narratives generally address the main conflict faced by that character in the story, and how she or he feels about it. Does she believe that the problem is insurmountable? Does she still have hope? Who is she counting on most to help her? Who does she expect to cause her the most trouble?
I also write first-person narratives by all the individuals involved in romantic relationships in my story. For each one, I ask the character to tell me:
What do you love most about this other person?
What would you miss the most if he or she were taken away?
When did you first feel an attraction and what triggered it?
And, well, I’m sure you can come up with a lot more questions along this line.
These letters are great tools to return to while drafting. They help me to maintain consistency within a character, but they also helped me see that, despite consistency, all well-rounded characters have internal conflicts they are dealing with. People are filled with contradictions. Your characters need to be, too, if they’re going to leap off the page as real people with real complexity.
When you ask your character to tell you how he feels about the central conflict, chances are his answer will be complicated. It won’t just be as simple as, “I hate my father and wish he were dead,” because where’s the true conflict in that? Nothing is ever that straightforward. If it were, in chapter one your character could pull out a shotgun and shoot his father and the story would be done. Instead, your character’s answer to how he feels about the central conflict will be layered, complex, and in some ways, contradictory.
For you, as the writer, the secret to your character’s arc lies hidden in these contradictions. Early in the story your character may respond most to the tug of one attitude toward the central conflict. But as the story moves along, he may feel the influence of another attitude toward that conflict, and he will begin to change. By the time he’s completed his character arc, he may find himself in a place of compromise between these two contradictory attitudes.
Do you think this method might work for you? Do you have any of your own unique methods of learning about your characters? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Julie Eshbaugh writes fiction for young adults. She is the author of the upcoming Ivory & Bone (HarperCollins, 2016.) You can add Julie on Goodreads and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.
My Neighbor Totoro (rated G): An Extremely Awesome Movie
A movie I would definitely recommend is My Neighbor Totoro by Studio Ghibli. I have dressed up as Totoro for Halloween, and introduced the movie to anyone who would watch it. In this animated film directed by Hiyao Miyazaki, two sisters adjusting to their move from the city meet a forest spirit called Totoro. He helps the girls and they become friends. The movie is super-cute, and the expansive forest backdrops are stunning. My Neighbor Totoro is definitely my all-time favorite movie and is great for everyone.
Here is your chance to win a copy of Karen Romagna’s new book, VOYAGE. All you have to do is leave a comment and be willing to write a short review of the book if you win. The review can be on your blog, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Facebook, or Goodreads. (See more at bottom of this post.)
Karen Romagna has just finished illustrating her first picture book. Voyage launched at The National Book Festival in Washington, DC on August 30, 2014 and is available in bookstores October 1, 2014. Written by former US Poet Laureate, Billy Collins, Voyage is the tale of a young boy setting off for an adventure on the open sea. Karen used the softness of watercolor in illustrating this wonderful dreamlike tale.
Karen is a traditional painter. Her illustrations are primarily done in watercolor However, she also loves painting in oil.
Karen grew up surrounded by art, music, brothers, sisters and parents that always supplied paint, paper, and the freedom to try new things. She lives in rural New Jersey where she and her husband, John, raised two sons, Matt and Tim, in a house filled with music and art… and hopefully a spirit that has allowed her sons to try new things too.
For those of you who are not a member of the New Jersey SCBWI, Karen is the Illustrator Coordinator for the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
I asked Karen if she would share the story behind Voyage and it’s beginning. Here is what she told me:
“Voyage” had an interesting beginning. Billy Collins wrote the poem back in 2003 in celebration of John Cole’s 25 years as Director of the Center of the Book in the Library of Congress. As John Cole wrote at the beginning of Voyage, “The creation and presentation of “Voyage” was wholly in the spirit of the Center of the Book, which was created to stimulate pubilc interest in books, reading and literacy.”
In 2013 Bunker Hill Publishing approached me wondering if I might be interested in “a collaboration with the poet Billy Collins!” Well…, of course! The publisher had seen a copy of the poem hanging on the wall in John Cole’s office and approached Billy with the idea of making it a picture book.
Billy Collins likes to pick the illustrators for his books and went surfing the net. He came across a painting of mine that made him think I should illustrate this poem. He asked the publisher to get in touch to see if I might be interested in this project. Well… “Of course!” Bunker Hill had an illustrator in mind for the book as well and asked me to submit a sample illustration along with a thumbnail dummy. Wanting to make sure I was giving myself the best shot, I asked the publisher if he wouldn’t mind telling me exactly which illustration Billy Collins had seen that made him feel I was the right artist for his book. “Of course!” he said “It’s the one of the boy in a boat.”
Well, my heart melted… that was not one of my illustrations… it was a portrait of my younger son, Tim. There was always something magical about my second child. He would find himself in a great adventure with a piece of rope that he’d found.
In the end I was chosen to illustrate “Voyage”. …so Tim will carry on this great adventure for a long time.
You might be interested in watching this video of Billy Collins and Karen Romagna talking about the book at the National Book Festival where she launched her book in Washington, DC. I laughed when Karen said she almost threw out the email from the publisher she received asking if she had any interest in illustrating the book thinking it was junky mail. Thank goodness she didn’t. Congratulations, Karen!
If you would like more changes to win you will get additional entries when you Tweet, reblog, or talk about Voyager on Facebook (Must check back and let me know what you did, so I can enter the right amount of tickets with you name on it.
DEADLINE: November 3rd. Winner announce November 4th.
Check back next Friday to read the four first page critiques.
As writers, one of the things that lies at the heart of our intentions is connection. We write books that we want people to read. We share our thoughts, our fantasies, the products of our imagination, sometimes our biggest secrets and the deepest angst in our souls - and we put it all out there for the world to read about.
‘Only connect,’ said EM Forster, and, over a hundred years later, this is still what drives us. And I don’t think this desire is restricted to writers. We all want it. That’s why telephones were invented. It’s why the internet has pretty much taken over the world. It’s why Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc etc etc are as massively popular as they are. They allow us to reach out, communicate, share, meet, interact…connect.
So what happened? How did these means of connection suddenly become the very things that keep us isolated and disconnected?
Actually, it didn’t happen suddenly at all. It sneaked up on us so gradually that most of us don’t even realise that it has happened to us.
I used to live on a narrowboat on the canal. I remember the day BT put a line across the farmer’s field and I plugged a phone into it. Out there, on a boat on a canal in pretty much the middle of nowhere, I was connected. It was incredible. (Till the day the farmer ploughed his field and cut the line to shreds – but that’s a different story.)
Me on my beloved boat, Jester. Crikey, my hair was short back then.
I remember my first mobile phone. I remember the first time someone showed me how to send an email – and my awe at the notion that the recipient could read it from anywhere in the world moments later. It was all very new at that time, and I’m glad that I am part of a generation that still remembers a time before these things were taken for granted. I still am in awe of the internet and what we can do with it.
But sometimes I wish we could all take a couple of steps back.
Phones today can do SO much – and the problem is that, nowadays, we so often use them to separate ourselves from the world around us, rather than connect us to it.
A couple of examples.
I was catching a train yesterday. Whilst I waited for my train, I looked around. On the platform opposite there were about eight people. A few of them in pairs and a few on their own, waiting for the same train. EVERY SINGLE ONE of them was looking at their phone. Every one. Not talking to the person they were with. Not smiling at a stranger. Not noticing anyone or anything around them. Each of them was locked away on their own with their screen.
The night before that, I’d been to a Lady Gaga concert. (It was amazing, by the way. The woman is utterly bonkers but WOW – what a show she puts on!)
The best decision my partner and I made (other than to buy 'Early Entry' tickets and get a great spot!) was to leave our phones at home. We met a couple of guys on our way in and became instant friends. The four of us watched, listened, sang, danced and loved every minute of the concert. I took it all in. Gaga, the dancers, the crowds, the outfits, the music. I was there.
Around us, probably half the people I could see spent most of the evening holding out their phones to photograph and record the gig – presumably to then share it on some social networking site and say ‘Look, I was there!’
But were they? Were they reallythere?
Generic photo off the internet - as I didn't have my phone/camera to take a pic!
We’d been chatting with a young woman beside us before the show began. Once it started, she was one of those who brought her phone out. At one point, when Lady Gaga was behind us, the woman videoed her back. At another point, when Gaga was too far away to get a decent shot, she videoed the dark stage with the blurry figure at the edge of it. When Lady Gaga and the dancers were out of our sight completely, the young woman held her phone out at the big screen and videoed that!
She wasn't the only one; far from it. All these people around us, so busy framing their shots, zooming in, zooming out, focussing, refocussing, they weren't even aware that in their haste to show they were there, they actually weren't there at all. They were watching an event via a tiny screen held up in the air that they could have watched for real if they put their phones away.
This isn’t a criticism of any of these people. Heck, I’ve done it myself. I’ve experienced something and started composing a Facebook status about it in my head before the moment is even over. I’ve half-watched a TV programme whilst on twitter and spent as much time reading tweets about it as taking in the programme itself. I’ve even sent a text to my partner from one end of the sofa to the other, asking for a cup of tea. (Only as a joke, I should point out.)
But I can’t help thinking that we have to start reversing things before it’s too late and we forget the art of human interaction altogether.
Last weekend, I was told about a site that I’d never heard of, but which apparently most people in their twenties already know about/use, called Tinder. The idea is that you log in to the app, tell it who you are looking for (gender, age group etc) and what kind of radius you are interested in, to a minimum of one kilometre, and the app does the rest. Any time someone fitting your wishlist comes into your specified zone, you get a notification. You check out their photos. If you like them, you give them a tick. If they like you, they give you a tick – then you can ‘chat’ and arrange to meet or whatever. (And I imagine that for many of the users, it’s the ‘or whatever’ that interests them.)
At the risk of sounding like the oldest fogiest old fogey in the room….
What happened to looking around? To conversation? To gradually getting to know someone? I’m not against online dating. Not remotely. I’m not, in fact, against any of this, and like I said, I'm as guilty of iPhone overuse as the next person. But I'm concerned by the constant speeding up of everything, and the taking us out of our surroundings to make us look at a screen instead of the things and the people around us.
So here’s my challenge – and I make it for myself as much as for anyone reading this. It’s not a super-radical idea. It’s about taking small steps.
Each day, use your phone a tiny bit less than you used it the day before. Make one decision a day where you say, ‘No, I won’t take my phone out of my pocket, I’ll smile at a stranger instead.’ Or one occasion where you decide, ‘I will allow myself this experience without having to share it online afterwards’. Just one small decision a day. Before we know it, we’ll all be connecting up again.
On which note I’m off for walkies with my partner, to chat, look at the waves, feel the salty air in my face and throw some stones for the dog.
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer is just flat out brilliant, both for the subject matter and how the author chooses to tell the story. And in this, Belzhar is ideally pitched to its audience, in tone and content. Even the cover image is perfect! Wolitzer is an award winning writer of books for adults, most recently The Interestings, as well as The Ten Year Nap, which I read and enjoyed immensely.
November is nearly upon us. That means fall leaves, wooly sweaters, gluttonous behavior on the fourth Thursday of the month, and, of course, National Novel Writing Month.
Inaugurated in 1999 by the intrepid Chris Baty and a group of friends, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has become an international movement to inspire average joes like you and me to get off our duffs and write that novel we’ve always dreamed of penning. One month. One novel. It’s as simple as that.
According to NaNoWriMo, 310,000 adults participated in the writing frenzy in 2013, and 89,500 youth participated in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. Personally, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, and the experience has been so deeply fulfilling I decided that I, as a children’s librarian, needed to get on this Young Writers thing.
What’s really grand about NaNoWriMo is that this non-profit organization provides you everything you need to make hosting a Young Writers program easy as pie. Just take a gander at these lesson plans and activities. If you’re a teacher, everything aligns to the Common Core. If you’re a public librarian, you can pick and choose a variety of activities to do with your young peeps.
I have some ridiculously talented people on board, too. I’m working with poet Hannah Jane Chambers, YA author Bethany Hagen, and YA writer Jennifer Mendez to make the magic happen.
At our library, Hannah Jane, Bethany, and I had an idea of creating a series of Come Write In events for the entire family which we hope we’ll be able to implement next year. Parents and kids could come to the library on Saturdays throughout the month of October to start planning their NaNoWriMo projects. On November 1, we could celebrate our hard work with a party / write-in where participants can get cracking on their novels. Jennifer Mendez will be hosting Intergenerational Come Write In events at her branch throughout the month of November replete with paper, pens, and plenty of outlets for the BYO-Laptop types.
What better way to get kids and teens engaged in literature than to have them write it themselves? And, hey, why not model that behavior? November is just a few days away. It’s not too late to sign up and write a novel of your very own.
. Howdy, Campers! Happy Poetry Friday! Poem and link to Poetry Friday are below ~
Our topic this round is Do you try to appeal to reluctant readers, or any particular type of reader, when you write?
Carmela's post addresses the topic of writing to reading levels thoroughly. She writes:"If you want your writing to appeal to boys and other reluctant readers, don't try to target this particular audience. That's right, DON'T target them. Instead, write what moves, excites, or interests YOU."
Mary Ann's post, agrees: "I write what I am passionate about. I write for my inner eleven-year-old. It's the best that I can do. It's all any of us can do."
As for me?
I titled this 3 Leading Ways to Target Your Writing for Children--NOT!because I agree with Carmela and Mary Ann's conclusions. Essentially, write with passion and you'll hit a bullseye.
Here are three thoughts hopefully slightly related to this topic:
1) I am a reluctant reader. Always have been. Once I dive into a book, I'm swimming, but getting to the edge of the pool, dipping my toe in? Terrifying. Every book. Every time.
2) Many years ago, former bookseller, and book reviewer Janet Zarem was hired by my son's elementary school to talk to parents about reading. She began by passing out a paragraph in and asking us what it said. Okay, so let's try it. I'd like you to read this paragraph and tell me what it says. You have two minutes:
*see bottom of this post for attribution*
When we saw the paragraph, we were scared'r than a long-tail cat in a room full of rockin' chairs.**
Isn't that a powerful way to show someone the world from a new or challenged or reluctant reader's point of view?
3) That's how scared many of us feel about learning anything new.
For example, UCLA Extension's Writers' Program is in the process of changing how its instructors post course materials for our students. We are moving from a platform called Blackboard to one called Canvas.
When I saw the first email about this, I rolled into a little ball. I felt as outdated and useless as a screen door on a submarine.***
If Charlotte Brooks thinks she and her TV makeover show can turn Reno Wilder’s hometown upside down, he’ll be happy to prove her wrong. The x-Marine has seen too much turmoil and he likes Sweet, Texas, just the way it is. Traditional. Familiar. A little dull. Everything Charli isn’t. But instead of backing off from his scowls like everyone else, Charli digs in her skyscraper heels.
SHE’S TENACIOUS AND WICKEDLY TEMPTING . . .
Reno Wilder is a one-man unwelcoming committee, but Charli isn’t budging. It’s clear the gorgeous cowboy needs an overhaul just as much as Sweet. Someone needs to break him out of that gruff shell and show him how fun and rewarding a little change can be.
THEY’RE ABOUT TO FIND THAT LOVE IS ANYTHING BUT PREDICTABLE.
Firefighter and former Marine Jackson Wilder has tough guy down to an art, but he’s learned the hard way that promises were made to be broken. Abigail Morgan was once his best friend, his first kiss, his first love, his first everything. He’d just forgotten to mention all that to her and she blew out of his life. Five years later, she’s back and he’s battling a load of mistrust for her disappearing act. But for some reason he just can’t keep his lips—or his hands—to himself.
IT CAN LEAD TO DISASTER OR . . .
When her stint as a trophy wife abruptly ends, Abby returns home to Sweet, Texas, and comes face-to-face with Jackson—her biggest and sexiest mistake. Time and distance did nothing to squash her love for the act-first-think-later stubborn hunk of a man, and when he suggests they renew their old just-friends vow, Abby realizes she wants more. She’d cut and run once. Could she do it again? Or could she tempt him enough to break his promise?
Seattle event planner Allison Lane is an expert at delivering the perfect wedding—even if she might not exactly believe in the whole “’til death do us part” thing. When her father decides to tie the knot with a woman he barely knows, Allison heads to Sweet, Texas, to make sure his new honey is the real deal. What she didn’t expect to find at the local honky-tonk was a sexy Southern man as bent on charming her pants off as he is on blowing her “true love doesn’t exist” theory all to hell.
And they always promise . . .
Veterinarian, former Marine, and Sweet’s favorite playboy Jesse Wilder takes one look at Allison and knows she’s a handful of trouble he can’t deny. But even after a sizzling kiss and obvious mutual attraction, it seems Allison has no such problem. When Jesse uncovers her sweet side, can he crush his playboy image, melt her cynical heart, and change her mind about taking a trip down the aisle?
Candis Terry was born and raised near the sunny beaches of Southern California and now makes her home on an Idaho farm. She’s experienced life in such diverse ways as working in a Hollywood recording studio to chasing down wayward steers. Only one thing has remained the same: her passion for writing stories about relationships, the push and pull in the search for love, and the security one finds in their own happily ever after.
Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands
by Katherine Roy
David Macaulay Studio (Roaring Brook Press), 2014
The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her school library.
The shark section gets a lot of traffic in my elementary school library. Many young readers are fascinated by the creatures, so I was excited when I heard about
The November-December issue of World Literature Today, with a focus on 'After the Wall Fell: Dispatches from Central Europe 1989-2014', is now available, a decent chunk of it accessible online -- as is the entire World Literature in Review-reviews section.
I don't normally feature PBs on this blog, even though I write them, but this one needs to be spotlighted for a few reasons. First, Sherry Alexander dedicates her blog and her books to helping children. I'm amazed at all she does for charities. She even donates part of her proceeds from her book sales to these organizations. She's really an incredible person. Second, how adorable is this book cover?
Oliver has a Hunger Dragon who rumbles and grumbles. He wants it to go away, but Hunger says he plans to stay. Is Oliver the only one who has a dragon deep inside?
Oliver is a story about child hunger and how it overpowers children making them too tired to play or to do well in school. But Oliver discovers hunger can be deterred through the power of friendship and the sharing spirit. A portion of all proceeds from the sale of this book will go the Clark County, WA Food Bank, Feeding America, and the Portland, OR Police Bureau's Sunshine Division to help feed the one in four kids in America who go to bed hungry every night. For a chance to win a book, check out the Goodreads Giveaway here. It ends TODAY so head over and enter now.
Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.
So the saying goes, disasters strike in threes. After I fell down the stairs and broke my leg, I wanted to count those two events as disasters two and three. Number one was earlier this year when our house was broken into. The good news on that was I had nothing to take. The burglars made a mess of the house, overturning drawers, taking out every box, stuffed into my closet. The rascals tore open a pretty envelope that I was saving to use when the mood struck me to surprise someone with old fashioned postal mail. I was even offended when the thieves didn't take any of my jewelry, opting instead to throw earrings and bracelets to the floor. However, what they did take was a jar of quarters. Somewhere, dirty thieves needed to do laundry. I hope they feel good about themselves in their clean clothes.
The work of messy thieves.
So the break-in and my broken leg counted as numbers one and two. Fate would not allow me to count the surgery as number three. The proverbial third shoe finally dropped three weeks ago when a broken washing machine caused the house to flood. A fifty-cent plumbing part nearly destroyed the house. Luckily, we have flood insurance which will cover the cost of the demolition (now finished) and restoration. As with my million dollar leg, a fall that resulted in a giant medical bill, I am very fortunate to have health insurance and flood insurance.
What used to be the kitchen. Walls, floors and ceiling flooded.
The good news is that the house will be even better than it was before and we will be able to get rid of the carpet on the stairs that caused me to slip and break my leg. Perspective is key here. After having been rushed to the emergency room with a dislocated ankle, my foot facing the wrong way, and a broken fibula, most other disasters like the house flooding, the ceiling caving in the kitchen, complete with sink, cabinets, and appliance, walls and floors needing to be demolished and rebuilt, doesn't seem that horrible. I'm able to continue writing. There are two rooms in the house that were unaffected. And luckily, I had my laptop with me and was not in the house when the disaster happened.
My million dollar leg
I spent the entire summer in the bed office due to my broken leg and I get to spend the next couple of months there again due to a near total house flood and forced remodel.
My leg is healing well, although it will be another couple of months until I am up and running, or dancing. In writing news, I took Rudy's challenge and entered the William Faulkner WisdomCompetition, I made it to the final round in Poetry. Congratulations to winner Claire Dixon. Entering poetry competitions is sobering and challenging, but it's nice to be recognized for work that has already been published. Last week, Nicole Thompson featured me in Latin Post.
Blas Falconer, Melinda Palacio, Michelle Detorie after the Mission Poetry Series reading.
A highlight of this summer was reading in the Mission Poetry Series with Blas Falconer and Michelle Detorie. The September day was gorgeous. With perfect weather on one of the last days for tourism in Santa Barbara, along with a street closed by the Sol Food Festival, the audience could have been sparse, but instead we had a crowd eager for poetry. As my friend reminds me, It could've been worse.
Please give a warm welcome to Karen Akins this morning! She’s here to chat about her new release, LOOP.
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today to celebrate the release of LOOP!
One of the things about writing any story is that as the creator, you know so much more about your characters than ends up on the page. It’s fun to be able to share some of these “extras” with readers.
Without further ado, I give you…
The Top 5 Things Bree Never Leaves Home Without:
1. Her QuantCom. This handy little device is kind of like a temporal GPS, telling her where and when she is while she’s time traveling. At one point, Finn refers to it as “her security blanket,” and it kind of is. When I was thinking through what it would be like to be a time traveler, the Com was one of the first devices I thought up because it would help you feel a little more in control of your surroundings.
2. Comfy, non-descript clothing. Another detail that I thought through. I’m not sure that time travelers would really worry all that much about perfectly matching the styles of any era as long as they don’t stick out like a sore thumb.
3. Her heart-shaped locket. Bree’s mother is in a coma (which may be a bit more than it seems…dunh dunh dunhhhhhh), and one object that helps Bree feel closer to her mom is the photo locket that her mom gave her when she was younger. One thing I love about the cover of LOOP is that the space between them forms a heart, sort of an homage to the locket.
4. Hair clip. Bree’s pretty non-fussy, so it would be pretty utilitarian with maybe a little bit of sparkle that her best friend Mimi insisted on attaching to it.
5. Lip gloss. Navigating the space-time continuum can be pretty chapping on the lips, y’all. One detail about Bree’s lip gloss that I had to cut out was that it changes shades to perfectly complement the wearer’s skin tone.
Bonus: One thing she would be SO tempted to sneak back with her? Girl Scout Thin Mints.
Thanks again for having me! I hope everyone enjoys LOOP. <3
At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.
After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her.
Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.
But when those closest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future.
We’re celebrating Halloween today, 7-Imp style, with lots of artwork.
Last week here at Kirkus, I did a round-up of some good, new Halloween titles. Today, I’ve got some art from each one. All the art, all the info, and all the covers are below. Greg Pizzoli even sent some early dummy images for his illustrations for Carol Brendler’sNot Very Scary.
Today over at Kirkus, I write about two of my very favorite brand-new early chapter books for children (and both are illustrated). That link will be here soon.
Enjoy the art …
Dummy images and art from Carol Brendler’s Not Very Scary, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, August 2014)
Title page spread (Click each to enlarge)
“Melly loved surprises and Malberta’s were the best. So on the scariest night of all, Melly set out for a visit.” (Click each to enlarge)
“…three wheezy withces following two skittish skeletons and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail! ‘Not particularly scary,’ said Melly, but she bit her claws, one by one. Then she saw …” (Click each to enlarge)
“…five grimy goblins following four mournful ghosts, three wheezy witches, two skittish skeletons, and one coal-black with an itchy-twithcy tail! ‘Not remarkably scary,’ said Melly, but she backed away, right into a briar patch. Then she saw …” (Click each to enlarge)
“…seven frenzied fruit bats following six sullen mummies, five grimy goblins, four mournful ghosts, three wheezy witches, two skittish skeletons, and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail! ‘Not especially scary!’ Melly yelled,but her little monster heart skipped a beat-beat-beat. Then she saw …” (Click each to enlarge)
“…nine rambunctious rats join eight spindly spiders, seven frenzied fruit bats, six sullen mummies, five grimy goblins, four mournful ghosts, three wheezy witches, two skittish skeletons, and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail! ‘Not tremendously scary!’ Melly yelled, but she shivered as she raised the rusty latch on the gate. Then she saw …” (Click each to enlarge)
“…ten vexing vultures join nine rambunctious rats, eight spindly spiders, seven frenzied fruit bats, six sullen mummies, five grimy goblins, four mournful ghosts, three wheezy witches, two skittish skeletons, and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail! ‘NOT VERY SCARY!’ Melly yelled, but her fangs ch-ch-chattered as she rang Malberta’s b-b-bell.” (Click each to enlarge)
“‘Surprise!’ cried Malberta. A party! There was poison ivy punch and lizard tongue trail mix. There was bobbing for crawdads and a Pin the Drool on the Ghoul game. But there was no one to play with. Where were the other party guests?” (Click each to enlarge)
“‘Here we are!’ shouted ten vultures, nine rats, eight spiders, seven fruit bats, six mummies, five goblins, four ghosts, three witches, two skeletons, and one coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail. Malberta’s friends! They were invited, too.” (Click each to enlarge)
Cover dummy and final cover (Click dummy image to enlarge)
Art from Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Dog and Bear: Tricks and Treats (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, August 2014)
Art from J. Patrick Lewis’ M is for Monster: A Fantastic Creatures Alphabet, illustrated by Gerald Kelley (Sleeping Bear Press, August 2014)
Art from Harriet Muncaster’s I Am a Witch’s Cat (Harper, July 2014)
“I know my mom is a witch because she keeps lots of strange potion bottles in the bathroom that I am NOT allowed to touch.” (Click to see spread in its entirety)
“And when we go shopping, she buys jars of EYEBALLS and GREEN FINGERS.” (Click to see spread in its entirety)
“I know my mom is a witch because she grows magical herbs in the garden …” (Click to see spread in its entirety)
“I know my mom is a witch because once a week she gets out her broomstick and whirls it around my room. Sometimes she lets me have a ride. That is the BEST thing about being a witch’s cat.” (Click to enlarge)
“On Friday nights my mom goes out and the babysitter comes. I don’t mind, because the babysitter is nice.” (Click to enlarge)
“She lets me watch TV and eat popcorn until it is time to go to bed.” (Click to see spread in its entirety)