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1. Untitled drawing


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2. How to Paint Glow

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

How To Paint GlowMy latest short story Midnight Ghost (it’s being released Oct 24th) required me to draw a glowing ghost. This is something you can struggle with if you don’t know the rules but once you do, drawing and painting glow is very easy.

It’s all about values

Values are the lightness or darkness of a color. I wrote a whole post about them so if you want to understand a little better check it out by clicking here. 

It’s impossible to get anything lighter than the paper or white paint you are using, so how to make something look like its lit up? The secret is in the contrast. If you want something to look like light you need to put dark around it. The contrast between light and dark is what makes it look like it’s glowing.

Here is the image I did of the Ghost in my new story. She needed to look like she was glowing so I added the dark area to the background and ta-daa! Glowing ghost. This image was all done with pencil. Since there is no color you can see the contrast in values easier, but it works with color too.

Here’s video of me doing the same thing with watercolor so you can see it in action.

Color can blind us. Sometimes we try to make something look like light by adding yellow, after all, the sun is yellow so it should work right? Nope. Next time approach the problem as something that needs to be lighter or darker rather than a different color. I bet you’ll be pleased with the results.

Have fun painting glow-y things!

The post How to Paint Glow appeared first on Manelle Oliphant Illustration.

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3. Time Management Tuesday: We're Three-fourths Of The Way Through The Year. Time For Another Check On Goals And Objectives

At the half-year point in June, I felt I'd done better than I expected to on this year's goals and objectives. At that time, I determined which goals I wanted to focus on for the rest of the year. Not so happy about how that's been going.

My plans in June for the rest of the year:

  • Goal 3. Finish a draft of the mummy book, I hope by September when I go on vacation. That's been a disaster, in large part because I became obsessed with a short piece I was working on in August (Goal 2), have been planning for an appearance I might be making in November, and working on another project.
  • Goal 2. Write short pieces. Anything. Yes, I did complete one short piece. May have spent too much time on it, in fact.
  • Goal 4.  Make submissions. I hope of some of the short pieces from Goal 2.Yes, I made a submission
  • Goal 5. Work on community building. See how things go with the writers' group, and it would be terrific if I could find a workshop or other program for later this year. This is the goal I've done the most on, but that also meant spending the most time on it, too. It's a goal that doesn't produce real work. I made three appearances this summer, that involved some rubbing of shoulders, and I'm very happy so far with the writers' group I've joined.
  • Goal 6. Continue marketing Saving the Planet & Stuff eBook. A contact I made this summer led to yesterday's review at Reduced Footprints, and I have some more leads for contacts.
Well, let's get a little Zenny here and remember that these past few months are in the past, and I need to think about the present. What can I do with the rest of my year?

  • Goal 1. Finish the revision of The Fletcher Farm Body I did finish this earlier this year, but guess what? I'm revising it again. This time I'm concentrating on making sure that scenes either advance the story or reveal new information and that chapters involve a change. (I got this idea from Rachel Aaron's 2,000 to 10,000.) Yes, I've become obsessed with this book, just as I was obsessed with the flash story I was working on in August.
  • Goal 4. Make submissions. I'd like to work on submitting some of the work I've already completed, so I'll focus on trying to match new marketing possibilities with manuscripts on hand.
  • Goal 5. Continue to work on community building Continue the Connecticut Children's Lit Calendar, try to cover the Connecticut Children's Book Fair for my blog, I have created a new author talk that I may be presenting next month, attend my shiny new writers' group, continue to build my Twitter following.
  • Goal 6. Continue marketing Saving the Planet & Stuff eBook I do have some ideas for contacts.

So three-quarters of the year is gone, and while I've been working away, really, I have,  I've wandered off goal. A bit. Some. Should I just give in to the What-the-Hell-Effect and spend the rest of the year lying in bed reading, which I kind of desperately want to do? No, I should not!  I have two and a half months left. That's a lot of units of time.

This Week's Most Interesting Ditched Item


Sorry I haven't uploaded the picture, but I had a great one of a twin mattress and spring set in the back of a pickup truck. I would have sent those things out of here at some point, but maybe not this month. Thank goodness for the purge.

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4. More about the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

It is commendable that recent Prime Ministers have continued the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards even though, as with some other literary prizes, its future has often seemed under threat. It is a prestigious national award amongst the also-important state and other literary prizes. And it is lucrative, with winners receiving $80 000 and shortlisted authors […]

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5. The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market Is Out — Here Are 8 Reasons to Buy It (and Naturally I’m Giving Away Books!)

The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is out and available in major bookstores! What better way to celebrate its release than a giveaway contest? The CWIM a great resource guide for writers of picture books and novels for kids (young adult, middle grade) as well as illustrators.

The new 2015 edition of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is updated and packed with info. Now in its 27th year, the newest edition still provides great market and submission/contact information for book publishers, art reps, international publishers, literary agents, contests, magazines, conferences and more. In addition to hundreds of markets for your kids book, this new edition has the following:

  • Interviews with some of today’s most amazing writers and illustrators, such as Lauren DeStefano (Wither series), illustrator Loren Long (Of Thee I Sing with Barack Obama), and Kathy Appelt (The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp), among many others.
  • Interviews with 13 debut authors, explaining how they came to get their picture books, middle grade, board books, and young adult books published. Hear their stories and learn from them.
  • Interviews with 9 debut book illustrators, explaining how they came to see their work come to life. Hear from their stories and learn from them.
  • Instructional articles on Writing For Boys (and Other “Reluctant Readers”), How to Write a Query Letter, Your Presence on the Web (Connecting With Readers), How to Write & Sell Nonfiction, Middle Grade vs. Young Adult, Tips on Selling Your First Children’s Picture Book, and more.
  • “New Agent Spotlights” that pinpoint new/newer literary reps who are actively seeking submissions and clients NOW.
  • A supplemental webinar all about how to revise & self-edit your own work to make it amazing before you submit. The webinar was recorded by contributing editor Harold Underdown, who runs The Purple Crayon website.
  • And much more.

Buy it here! (It is available wherever books are sold, including Barnes & Noble or on Amazon, but know that when you order any product from our Writer’s Digest shop, you get the same deep discount you find on Amazon.) Need more reasons to buy? How about 8 darn good testimonials below from these very cool people, many of which are bestsellers, and some of which have even had movies made out of their books.

THE GIVEAWAY!!! Comment on this post and just say anything nice about any element of Writer’s Digest you enjoy — from a blog post to a class or a book or anything else. In two weeks, I will pick 3 winners randomly to win a copy of the book! It’s that easy. Note: If you share news of the contest on Twitter, you’re entered into the contest twice instead of once. To do this, simply share this tweet — The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is out now! Giveaway contest: http://tinyurl.com/lj72wx9 – via @chucksambuchino — and then comment on this post and leave your Twitter handle in your blog comment.

2015 CWIM bigger

 

 

        

“Whenever anyone asks for publishing advice,
I tell them to grab the latest edition of Children’s
Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market
.”

- JAY ASHER, author of the #1 New York
Times bestseller 13 Reasons Why

and The Future of Us

 

          

CWIM is a great resource for artists and writers
who are ready to share their talent with the world.”

- MEG CABOT, author of multiple #1 New York Times
bestsellers, including the Princess Diaries series

          

CWIM is an invaluable resource for any aspiring
writer hoping to get published. It helped me a lot
and I recommend it to everyone.”

- JAMES DASHNER, New York Times best-selling
author of The Maze Runner series, the first book of which
is soon to be a major motion picture.

 

 

       

Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is invaluable
for writers of children’s books. Chock-full of publishing
resources, it’s a must-have.”

- BECCA FITZPATRICK, author of Hush-Hush
and Crescendo

 

 

    

“If you’re serious about writing or illustrating for
young people, the information, tools and insights
within the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market
will get you started on the right path.”

- WENDY TOLIVER, author of Lifted

        

Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market has all the things
a new writer needs to know about the business, like who’s
who and how to submit to agents and publishers, but it also
has all the intangibles, like advice and encouragement.
Buy it for the information, keep it for the inspiration.”

- JOSEPHINE ANGELINI, international
bestselling author of Starcrossed.

 

       

“Chuck Sambuchino’s Children’s Writer’s and
Illustrator’s Market has all you need to
master the publishing process.”

- JULIE CANTRELL, New York Times and
USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free

 

          

“In my pre-published days (and there were many), purchasing
and perusing the new edition of the Children’s Writer’s &
Illustrator’s Market
guide was such a hopeful time of year
for me.  I really got my optimistic juices flowing while reading
the articles and highlighting names of editors and agents.
You’re part of a great publication!”

- CLARE VANDERPOOL author of the
young adult novel, NAVIGATING EARLY
(Delacorte, 2013)

 

 

Pick up the 2015 edition of CWIM here!

 

2015 CWIM bigger

 

THE GIVEAWAY!!! Comment on this post and just say anything nice about any element of Writer’s Digest you enjoy — from a blog post to a class or a book or anything else. In two weeks, I will pick 3 winners randomly to win a copy of the book! It’s that easy. Note: If you share news of the contest on Twitter, you’re entered into the contest twice instead of once. To do this, simply share this tweet — The 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market is out now! Giveaway contest: x — via @chucksambuchino — and then comment on this post and leave your Twitter handle in your blog comment.

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6. Changing Table Poster Project

In the time after the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee met during Midwinter in Philadelphia, I had a short conversation with then-ALSC President, Starr LaTronica. She mentioned she had an idea in the middle of the night to use the space above changing tables for early learning posters with early literacy tips and fingerplays. Posters such as these could help parents and caregivers stay engaged with their children during the diaper change, and could increase the amount of words children hear.

It was a great idea, and during a subsequent conversation, the committee agreed to put together some ideas that could be used for the project. We decided we’d like to use the Every Child Ready to Read practices of Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing.

We continued working, coming up with some of our favorite fingerplays and creating the early literacy tips. Then, shortly before ALA’s Annual Conference began in Las Vegas, the White House released a video message from President Obama about an initiative to bridge the word gap—the 30-million-word disparity children from low-income families experience in vocabulary, which impacts learning and school readiness.

During the committee’s meeting at Annual, Joanna Ison, from the ALSC Office, mentioned that the ALSC Board would be looking at ways to commit to joining the President’s initiative to eliminate the 30 million word gap, and thought the changing table poster project could be a way to do that. We agreed.

We are currently putting our ideas together for the posters. We are working with the ALSC Office to find an illustrator. Eventually, we are hoping we will have a set of ten posters, two for each of the five practices, with perhaps more to come. The best part is that the ALSC Board has committed to make them freely available as a download.

Our hope is once the posters are available, libraries can put them wherever changing tables exist in their communities, not only in the library, but in restaurants, museums, and government buildings. We hope that, rather than purchasing posters, communities can put together a collaboration to have the posters printed and distributed, and get parents and caregivers talking with their young children to eliminate the word gap.

We welcome thoughts and ideas about this project, and have become aware that some libraries are doing this in their own buildings. If you have a sample, please share it in the comments below!

**********************************************************************

Matt McLain is the 2014-2015 chair of the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. He is the Manager of the South Jordan Library, a branch of Salt Lake County Library Services. If you would like to contact him, email mmclain@slcolibrary.org.

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7.

Sandyland is NOT #Hawaii but Snap by Carol Snow is a must read. http://buff.ly/1rmteZI #YAlit CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEWS - SNAP by Carol Snow

from Google+ RSS http://ift.tt/1yhoMLU

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8. K.V. Flynn's ON THE MOVE

There's a lot to like about K.V. Flynn's On The Move. As far as I know, Flynn is not Native. His main character, Callum, isn't Native either, but a Native kid named Obbie figures prominently in this middle grade story set in California. He's not the sidekick who will be the first to die. He's the real deal. That is, a Native kid who is grounded in his identity as a Native kid. It is a natural part of who he is--which is, one of several boys who hang out together. They are skateboarders.  

In the first three chapters, we learn that Obbie is Native and that he spends his summers on the reservation with his dad. This is done quite naturally. We learn it through the boy's conversations.

In chapter four, we get a closer look at his Native identity. By that, I mean that we see how he thinks about sovereignty. The group of boys are on their way to skate. They're talking about school, in particular, Obbie's essay for English. Mateo says (Note: I'm reading an ebook; no page numbers):
"You cannot use The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian for Kroos's final, Obbie." Mateo was sure that Ob was about to make a critical error and not make it out of eighth grade English alive. "Your book has to be set entirely outside the U.S."
Obbie replies that his book is set on the reservation (he says "rez", which is fine). The boys try to tell him that the reservation is by Spokane, in the state of Washington, and therefore, the book can't be eligible for the essay. Obbie says:
"But it's on the reservation," Obbie explained with his last bit of patience. "That's a sovereign nation."
The boys tell him it doesn't matter, because it is still in the U.S. Obbie replies:
"You guys laugh all you want. But I'm telling Miss Kroos an Indian rez is not America, and that's the book I read." 
Though Obbie was out of patience, it is a friendly exchange (these guys like each other a lot) that is told as a flashback in Callum's memory. Let me back up.

The book itself opens with Callum, Levi, and Apollo at a skateboard camp, shortly after the school year has ended. They've said their good-bye's to Obbie and Mateo. Out of the blue, the United States is attacked. Major cities are bombed. The boys at camp worry about their parents, and, they worry about Obbie and Mateo, too. Did Obbie make it to the reservation? Most of the story is about the kids and their efforts to be reunited with friends and family.

I gotta say that all the skate talk flew right over my head. There's a lot of it and I'm sure it'll be a hook for kids who spend hours on skateboards, trying this or that ramp or trick. The obvious hook for me is Obbie, but I like intriguing stories where teens deal with catastrophic events (like Matt de la Pena's The Living), and stories where science and technology are woven into the plot.

I like Obbie and I like how Flynn has developed and presented him. He doesn't talk much about the reservation during the school year. It is boring there, he says. I've heard plenty of kids at home (on our reservation) say that, too. Obbie pretty much has to go up there to see the Native side of his family (his mom isn't Native) because they don't go down to California much. From Flynn's website, I learned that this is the first of three books about these boys. I'm wondering if we'll learn more about Obbie's parents. How did his Native dad and his white mom meet? What caused them to split up?

But...  Back to the story in On The Move...

The boys desperately want to communicate with parents and friends using their cell phones and computers (when they can find one) but the bombs have destroyed a lot of the infrastructure that makes that communication reliable. Connections are fleeting and old school (they learn what dial-up is and how to use it) but good enough for them to learn that Obbie is with his cousin, Suri. They are fine. The four boys make a plan to meet up and head north together. Most everyone that survived the bombings, they learn, is headed north.

Callum, Levi, and Apollo head north on their skateboards. When they meet up with Suri (she has a truck) and Obbie, they pile into the truck and keep going north. Before long they come to checkpoint of sorts, set up by some bandits. They ask Suri what she's doing with this bunch of kids, and she says that she and Obbie are Yakama and headed to the Yakama Reservation to join their family, and that they found the kids and are keeping them safe. One of the bandits, it turns out, is Native, too. He's told to "get rid of them." Callum thinks that means its all over, but he lets them go instead, keeping their money.

They jump back into the truck, turn around, and find another route, again, heading north.

They get lot of help at places where people are seeking refuge. At one place, a guy is showing Suri a safe route on a map. She says:
"D'you mean here, by the Pyramid Lake Reservation?"
It is a small thing, but a meaningful one. It is one of many moments where a reference to Native people or culture is just dropped in, seamlessly. The map above/right shows the location of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada and the Yakama Reservation in Washington.

At one point as they drive, Mateo asks Obbie if his family has "teepees and stuff" on the reservation. Obbie says
"Nah, that was a hundred years ago. They have houses and cars. A school. Normal stuff." 
Callum asks why Obbie's family moved there. Obbie replies:
"They're from there! We were always there. Our tribe is native around that area, they say. Oregon, Washington, those parts. What, d'ya think Lewis and Clark actually discovered some place empty?"
There's more in that conversation, with Obbie telling the boys about his family. Callum laughs about how one-sided history is taught, and Mateo wonders if there had been Indians in area they're passing through. Obbie says:
"Yeah, until the gold rush. Then all those miners came. Brought measles and smallpox galore. I think, like, ninety percent of Native people around here died."
Obbie goes on:
"The rest were captured by the Californios. Used as slaves and stuff. Especially the little kids. The new miners thought the Native Americans were competition, and they were so frantic for all this gold, that the settlers brought a lot of violence, too. Raided the villages. Sold the women. Seriously bad news."
Obbie knows a lot of history and doesn't hesitate to share it. This is more than the one or two lines that Lynn drops in, seamlessly, but it works, too. There's more, too, when they get to a town with a community college. Suri and Obbie head over to it, thinking that the Native American students there, in the First Nations Student Union, would have information about their reservation.

When On the Move draws to a close, the kids are reunited with their families. I should note that there's a bit of a mystery throughout having to do with one friend who dies early in the story. I'll leave that alone, so as not to divulge everything that happens in this story.

In short, I liked Flynn's On the Move. I think there's plenty in it for Native and non-Native kids to grab on to, and I look forward to more from Flynn.

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9. Guest Post: Carmen Oliver on Founding a Children’s-YA Author & Illustrator Booking Agency

By Carmen Oliver
of The Booking Biz
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

“I don’t believe in barriers…just fly your plane.”
—Captain Nicole Malachowski from Tanya Lee Stone’s Almost Astronauts (Candlewick, 2009)

Over the last eleven years, I encountered a lot of barriers.

A lot of uncertainty.

But during that time, it afforded me the opportunity to really focus on studying children’s literature and the publishing industry. I have volunteered and apprenticed in various leadership and communication roles with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Writers’ League of Texas, and the Texas Book Festival.

Carmen & Dianna Hutts Aston at a conference
My agent Erzsi Deak of Hen & Ink Literary is negotiating the sale of my first picture book, and I’m well published in children and adult magazines. I judge children’s writing contests and mentor new writers.

All of this to say has created the fuel to fly my plane.

In March 2014, I founded The Booking Biz, a boutique-style agency specializing in booking award-winning children’s authors and illustrators for school and library visits, festivals and conferences, and bookstores and special events.

I chose to pursue this career because it spoke to a number of my passions. It allows me to connect children with terrific book creators and hopefully, in some small way, make a difference in their lives.

Additionally, I couldn’t wait to collaborate with like-minded individuals who respect and adore children’s literature. Working with librarians, educators, and event coordinators who are passionate about creating lifelong readers and learners, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

For me, like many in the children’s publishing business, the decision to work with someone must come from a connection, respect, and love of their work. But not only that, I have to believe 110% in their ability to reach their audience and deliver a presentation that will enrich, inspire, and motivate long after they’ve left the proverbial stage. Therefore, I only take on clients whereby I’ve seen their presentations or that come highly recommended by someone I trust implicitly.

Librarians, school administrators, and event organizers need to be able to trust my recommendations. I’m not a salesman. I’m an advocate and partner for my authors/illustrators but also for the businesses searching for speakers.

Don Tate drawing at a festival
Here are a few things that leap to mind when someone from my agency presents:

  • Animated & entertaining
  • Audience participation
  • Connecting and relate-ability 
  • Teaching but not preaching

I believe one of the most important roles of a children’s booking agent is to listen. In Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, he said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

How often do we find ourselves doing that? I know I’ve done it many times. Talking before the person has finished speaking. As a booking agent, it’s important to quiet your mind and focus on what is being said, how it’s being said, and what isn’t being said. There’s a lot that can be missed if you’re already concentrating on your next sentence, pitch or comeback.

Not every author needs a booking agent. Not every librarian or event coordinator will work with one either. But when you do enlist their service, here are a few of the benefits:

Bethany Hegedus wows the crowd at a school visit.
  • Professional, personalized pitches to organizations on author’s behalf 
  • Negotiates contract/agreement for fees and scheduling 
  • Acts as a liaison between author and event coordinator 
  • Manages all nitty-gritty details 
  • Assists and/or coordinates book sales 
  • Markets and builds new relationships 

At this point, I think it’s important to point out that creating partnerships with librarians, educators, and event coordinators shouldn’t rely solely on the shoulders’ of the booking agent. Your booking agent is your partner and as partners, you both should be equally reaching out into the community and making connections. Every good pilot needs a supportive co-pilot to fly the plane.

More on the Agency

The Booking Biz represents children’s authors Bethany Hegedus (TX), Dianna Hutts Aston (TX), Dianne de Las Casas (LA), Whitney Stewart (LA), David Elliott (NH), Lindsey Lane (TX), author-illustrator Don Tate (TX), and illustrator Evan Turk (NY). The agency is currently not accepting any new clients at this time. For information, visit the Booking Biz website.


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10. Tyler Perry and Bento Box Produce Direct-to-Video ‘Madea’ Feature

Actor Tyler Perry, whose drag performances as an elderly African-American woman named Madea have resulted in explicable live-action success, has transferred his Madea act to animation with the dreadful-looking "Tyler Perry's Madea's Tough Love."

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11. Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 Time-lapse

I’m pleased to announce that our wildebeest time-lapse video has been commended in the new time-lapse category of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

I have edited a new version of this footage, which you can view below:

The scenes shown in this footage are among the most awe-inspiring I have ever witnessed! We found that time-lapse was the only medium that allowed us to convey the magnitude of the migration. This footage was shot over five days in Northern Serengeti, Tanzania. It shows the migrating wildebeest crossing the Mara River while moving south into Tanzania from Kenya.

The Serengeti Ecosystem supports 1.5 million wildebeest. These wildebeest are forced to migrate around a 40,000 square kilometre area in order to find fresh grazing pastures. The migration is full of danger and hardship for these resilient creatures. Thirst, hunger, exhaustion, predation and the Mara River are just some of the challenges they must face.

Wildebeest pour down the banks before leaping into the Mara River.

You can read more about this project in my free ebook: My Top Ten Wildlife Experiences.

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12. Review – My Dad is a FIFO Dad by Jo Emery

My Dad is a FIFO Dad Written by Jo Emery Illustrated by Ann-Marie Finn Published by Dragon Tales Publishing Brand new and hot off the press, and already sold out on the first print-run is the popular, My Dad is a FIFO Dad! My Dad is a FIFO Dad was written by Queenslander, Jo Emery, […]

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13. 50 States Against Bullying: VIRGINIA

My tenth stop on the 50 States Against Bullying campaign was Centreville High School in Virginia. When I approached the school, I saw this sign over the entrance.


The Great Gatsby! Since I was driving to my next stop instead of flying, my schedule was up to me, and I was all set to extend my stay in this town to see this play. Turns out, this is their homecoming theme. Which is a great theme! But I was kind of looking forward to an evening at a high school play.

Inside the library, more #ReasonsWhyYouMatter notecards were on display with uplifting proclamations of what makes students at this school unique.


My presentation took place after school, so there were community members and students from other schools in attendance, which I always love.


As I was driving to my next stop, I passed so many museums. I love museums! So next time I'm in the area, I need to fit in some Tourist Time.

Unfortunately, the traffic to my next stop was crazy, and my tummy was rumbling because I hadn't eaten since breakfast. Fortunately, I was sent to my next hotel with a nice helping of homemade pot roast from the Centreville librarian! Unfortunately, my didn't have a microwave. Fortunately, this stuff tastes great at room temperature!


High school librarians rock.

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14. Ali A. Mazrui (1933-2014)

       I'm a bit late in reporting this -- he passed away on the 12th -- but Ali A. Mazrui has died; see, for example, Douglas Martin's obituary in The New York Times or Horace G. Campbell on The Humanism of Ali Mazrui at counterpunch.
       The only Mazrui book under review at the complete review is, predictably enough, his only work of fiction, the woefully under-appreciated (look for mention of it in the obits ...) The Trial of Christopher Okigbo. Flawed though it is, I would argue it's still a very significant/important novel, a major work of the 1970s. (And, yes, I am pretty proud that I already got to this in the much earlier days of the site, reviewing it back in 2001.)

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15. A Truly Brief Follow-Up (AKA This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things)

As a result of some discussion amongst book bloggers, and in relation to my earlier post from tonight, I did some Googling and found some things I'm not too thrilled with.  Namely a site selling a picture of me and one of the dogs as wallpaper (downloaded over 650 times) and a Prezi filled with images of me and my husband.  

I'm honestly not sure what I want to do or how to proceed.  I love my little blog so very much and I am really not ok with the idea of shutting it down.  I also love posting personal things and sharing what's happening in my life.  Unfortunately, there are some things that aren't worth risking.  So, I'm undecided about where to go in the future as far as personal posts are concerned.  

For the moment, I'm taking down personal pictures, particularly those that include family, friends, and their children (which were all posted with permission).  I don't want to offer stock images and never mention my personal life, but I also really don't like the idea of people selling images of me and my family or using them in presentations without my knowledge.  Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions?  I'm open to pretty much any or all of it.

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16. Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family



Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Día de los Muertos or Day of the Death is approaching. In preparation for this amazing festivity, reading Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family by Cynthia Weill in collaboration with Oaxacan paper mache artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate is a great way to start the celebration.
Weill’s latest bilingual book gives a glance of the vast Mexican art. Anita is a young calacagirl, who introduces each member of her skeleton family.  With short and catching sentences in English and Spanish, each character reveals its beauty to the young readers. Each page shows a colorful encounter starting with Anita’s brother Miguel (el travieso/the brat), followed by her cute baby brother Juanito, then her stylish mother, next her handsome father, as well as her adorable grandparents, and last but not least her cat and dog. 
The astonishing art created by Canseco Zárate pops-out automatically like jack-in-the-box. The wonderful sculptures in paper mache are a pleasure for the senses.
Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family is a must read for the season. Reading gives you wings. Visit your local library to check out more exciting stories.
For additional information about Cynthia Weill’s books and artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate’s calacas click on the following links:
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***

Latino/a Rising is the first collection of U.S. Latino/a science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres.


There is a growing movement of people who are interested in the incredible U.S. Latino/a writers and artists who have turned to science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres. Latino/a Rising: An Anthology of U.S. Latino/a Speculative Fictionwill introduce the public to the work of these writers and artists.

With the exception of Edward James Olmos’ Bladerunner and Battlestar Galactica, positive U.S. Latino/a characters have been largely absent from mainstream speculative fiction novels and films. Films such as Men in Black and Alien Nation, and shows such as X-Files, express the anxiety that the mainstream has concerning Latinos/as and recent immigrants.  Latino/a Rising will contest this trend, showing how Latino/a writers and artists are transforming the genres.

Please support this project  

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17. From Above

I often glance up at the clouds
From miles and miles below
And marvel at the shapes and wonder
Where they seem to go.

From gossamer to cotton ball,
They shift and drift on high
To pique our interest in
The giant canvas of the sky.

Yet looking down upon them
From the window of a plane,
They hardly seem to move at all,
But in their spots remain.

Suspended wisps or mountain groups
They float, so blinding white
And surely everyone should gawk
With absolute delight.

Still, jaded passengers refrain
From even one quick glance 
But oh, I love to watch the clouds
When I'm allowed the chance.

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18. Mastering Kid-Speak – Erika Wassall

erikaphoto-45Jersey Farm Scribe here on…

A Dialogue Tune-up: Mastering Kid-Speak

Dialogue is one of the most important pieces of any manuscript, and this often goes double for children’s works. Dialogue moves the story along, develops the connection between your readers and the characters and keeps things tangible and realistic.

That means that mastering Kid-Speak is unequivocally important.

There is a rhyme and rhythm to the way that kids communicate, where they pause to think, how they choose their words, the direction their stream of conscious takes them in. I’ve often wondered if there are linguists who study children specifically.  I bet we could learn a lot about the development of the brain and human instincts by looking at how and why kids pick their words.

As writers, if our characters don’t sound realistic, we’ve already lost the battle.  It’s something a child will instantly and instinctively pick up on.  The character will seem fake and they won’t bond with them.  Even in a plot-driven story, if the readers don’t connect with the characters, the story won’t resonate.

Here are a few things you can do to work on the dialogue in your stories: 

Eavesdrop!

Listening to children talk is one of my favorite things to do. This can be a bit trickier to do with older kids.  Teenagers aren’t big on you overhearing their devastatingly important and secret information.  But there’s a great trick to overcome that.  Stick two or more kids in the back of a car and drive around a while.  Even teenagers will fairly quickly forget that you can probably hear them and get swept up in the excitement of their chatter.  When hushed whispers are completely ignored, they often become full-volume conversations within a few minutes.

It’ll be a hit with the other adults in your life too! The fact that I’m quick to volunteer for anything kid and car-pool related is a much-appreciated running joke among my friends and family.

Listen to yourself:

Most writers understand the value of reading the dialogue sections of a manuscript out-loud. But you can take this even further.  Record yourself reading it.  Play it back.  Have someone else read it to you.  Have multiple someones read it to you.

Better yet, have an age-appropriate child read it to you. See how it sounds coming from them.  Does it sound natural?  Stale?  Funny?  Bland?  Vocabulary that encourages learning and reaching is excellent when carefully placed in children’s books.  But (unless it’s your character’s quirk) you want to keep the dialogue age-appropriate.

Hearing how the lines sound with the natural intonation of a child’s voice can be a simple and surprisingly effective way of polishing up the dialogue.

Give Everyone Their Own Unique Voice

If you ask five kids the same question, you will get five different responses, even if they all have the same general answer. You have a voice as a writer.  Be sure each of your characters has a voice of their own as well.

We all have our little verbal tics, especially kids. Some are simple speakers, short, two to three word sentences.  Some seem to look for any opportunity to use flowery, descriptive words.  They know different words based on who and what occupies the majority of their time.

A friend’s five year old used the word “bonemeal” when he was commenting on my conversation with his mother about my garden next year. Turns out, it’s basically a type of fertilizer in Minecraft.  I was amazed that he made the connection to a real-life garden, but it was just his natural Kid-Speak.

A great test for this is to pull out all the dialogue in your manuscript and see if you can tell who said what without even looking at the character name. 

It’s not an easy test. But for me, it’s given me great perspective on places I need to have the opportunity to personalize and develop that critical bond between my readers, and the characters they’re going to take the journey with.

Dialogue does so much in our manuscripts. It allows us to remove unnecessary words, breaks up long, difficult to read paragraphs, advances the story, gives us relatable realism and lets us see how a character thinks.  Take these opportunities to really let the uniqueness of your characters shine, and capture your readers.

Kid-Speak varies for different ages, backgrounds and situations, making it a versatile and powerful tool to make your story, and your character jump off the page and into the reader’s heart.

Your character’s personalities, and your manuscripts, are worth it.

Erika Wassall is a writer, a farmer and a liver of life. She is a member of SCBWI and a proud Mad Scientist, bringing science experiments right into children’s classrooms, and hearts. She has a small farm in New Jersey with sheep, chickens, pigs and vegetables. Check out her new website at www.TheJerseyFarmScribe.com where as a first generation farmer, she often takes the long way, learning the tricks of the trade on The Farm. On her website is also The Shop page with tips and a free Q/A from her husband’s mechanic shop, and The Writer page where she shares stories, experiences and characters from the heart. Follow her on Twitter at @NJFarmScribe. She’d love to hear from you!

Thank you Erika for another great post. I always enjoy them.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, article, How to, inspiration, Writing Tips Tagged: A Dialogue Tune Up, Erika Walssal, Guest Blogger Post, Mastering Kid-Speak

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19. shark & unicorn: spooky



Here's my Shark & Unicorn comic strip that ran last weekend in The Funday Times section of The Sunday Times. The film theme for the issue was The Book of Life, but I was asked not to use the word 'ghost' or 'haunted'. (Thus the 'spookies'; I had to be a bit creative.)



Actually, The Book of Life looks interesting, I'll include the trailer:

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20. Whatever After: Cold as Ice

Whatever After booksWhatever After Book #6: Cold as Ice

The next book in the Whatever After series is almost here! Abby and Jonah are visiting another fairy tale . . . and this one’s freezing! When author Sarah Mlynowski meets her fans, they often suggest to her which fairy tale they want her to write about next. The #1 request she had been getting from readers was to put main characters Abby and Jonah in the story of “The Snow Queen.” Next month, the Snow Queen-themed Whatever After book will be available and here’s a sneak peek at the cover!Whatever After #6: Cold as Ice

What do you think? Pretty awesome, right!?!

If you’re not familiar with Whatever After, check out the website to play the dress-up game, watch the trailer, and read a few excerpts.

For all you Whatever After fans, Cold as Ice will be available on November 25th.

And look out for Whatever After #7: Beauty Queen, coming in May!

Happy reading!

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21. What Make This Book So Great

In the long ago time of February when I came down sick with a really bad cold that caused me to miss several days of work, Bookman brought me home some “chicken soup.” No, not fake vegan “chicken” soup. It was a book. And not one of those “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. If Bookman had been silly enough to do that I think I probably would have barfed on him. A chicken soup book doesn’t have to be a specific book, just a book to help a person feel better. The book Bookman brought me was What Makes this Book So Great by Jo Walton. I didn’t finish it when I was sick and have only picked away at it from time to time since then. But when I caught a mild cold two weeks ago I picked it up again and managed to finish it just as I got better. Was finishing the book and my return to health a coincidence? Don’t be too quick to discredit chicken soup!

What Makes this Book so Great is a collection of essays that originally appeared at Tor and I think you can still read them there. The essays in the book are generally short, about three pages or so, perfect for cold weary brains. Walton takes a light and breezy tone, she only talks about books she likes, and it is like listening to a friend who is really excited about this book she just read and wants to tell you all about it and why you might want to read it too. Fun stuff!

There are also a few essays not about books but about book related things like wondering whether people skimmed while reading, mulling over why some people have a hard time with fantasy and science fiction, or outlining the difference between literary criticism and simply talking about books.

But most of the book is about books, specifically fantasy and science fiction books. As someone who has been reading SFF since she was a pre-teen, I’ve read my share, but there is so much I haven’t read and so much I haven’t even heard about before. Even my husband who is also a reader of SFF was stumped on occasion when I’d ask him, have you ever read … ? Which means this is a really good book for discovering “new” books. I have a tidy little list because of it.

You don’t have to be a fan of fantasy or science fiction to read this book but it helps. However, if you’re new to the genre and looking for some ideas about books to read, this would definitely be a good book to browse through.

Now that my chicken soup book is finished, I hope that means I will manage to avoid getting sick again for a long time.


Filed under: Books, Essays, Nonfiction, Reviews Tagged: Jo Walton

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22. Chinese reforms

       I mentioned Chinese president Xi Jinping's recent address on cultural production in China and, regrettably, it already seems to be having some effect. In the South China Morning Post Nectar Gan reports that the Ministry of Culture thinks it's now a good idea for Art and literature awards to evaluate 'social benefit' of works, as Zhu Di, head of the art department of the ministry:

said Xi's comments on arts and literature -- that works should place social benefits first, should not bow to commercial demands and should be evaluated by the public -- will become "important principals for the ministry's award evaluation system reform in the future".
       Oh, great .....
       Better yet:
The central propaganda department of the Communist Party is taking the lead in reforming guidelines, Zhu said.
       But I have to admit I'm curious how this will work out, since China has a vibrant -- and huge -- writing scene that isn't going to pay any attention to this kind of nonsense.

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23. KidLit Book Review - Rude Dude's Book of Food by Tim J. Myers



Written by: Tim J. Myers
Illustrated by: Jess Smart Smiley

  • Grade Level: 6 - 8
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Familius (September 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939629217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939629210

  • Tim Myers engaging and humorous storytelling technique makes you feel like you are sitting in the audience at a one-man comedian show. Whoever thought food history could be so chuckling out loud fun?

    With world history, healthy eating and get moving tips, and food history sprinkled throughout with “penciled” illustrations, Myers storytelling is an adventure not to be missed. The added appeal to Myers, Rude Dude is the classroom friendly lesson ideas designed around the common core standards.

    I honestly did not know what to expect from Myers food book and was happily surprised of his one of a kind approach to such a broad topic. Applause, applause…all around.  Add Tim Myers unique book to your book collection today and you will find yourself devouring it as if it’s your favorite meal. I’m off to cook something yummy, now that the author has awakened the grumbling in my stomach!

    About the author: Tim J. Myers is a writer, songwriter, storyteller, and senior lecturer at Santa Clara University.  His children’s books--12 out and three on the way--have won recognition from the New York Times, NPR, and the Smithsonian.  He’s published over 130 poems, won a first prize in a poetry contest judged by John Updike, has two books of adult poetry out, and won a major prize in science fiction.  He won the West Coast Songwriters Saratoga Chapter Song of the Year and the 2012 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for Fiction.  


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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24. A TOTES Awesome Love Letter & Giveaway! {THE BURNING SKY/PERILOUS SEA}

From Becca & Andye  Dear Readers, Every once in awhile there is a story that touches our hearts more than others. There is a story that is so beautiful and exciting and moving and creative that we just can't let it go with a simple review or two. This is one of those stories. We couldn't just move on. We had to know more! So we did some digging. Sleuthing. I can't tell you how we came by

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25. Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Your Body

“When can I grow a beard?”
“Where do doctors go when they’re ill?”
“How do cuts get better?”
“Why do I look pale when I’m ill?”

7277410-MLift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Your Body by Katie Daynes, illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay answers all these questions and many more in a brilliantly framed and formatted book for the 3-7 year old crowd all about the human body.

Rather than going through topic by topic like many body books do (covering, for example, your brain, your senses, your digestive system), this book is themed around the type of questions kids of this age are so good at asking: Why does x happen? How does y work?

Thus we have spreads asking and answering questions around when things happen to human bodies, how parts of human bodies work, and why bodies behave like they do. This framing of the information about bodies is a effective device; the book sounds like a child asking the question, making the questions and answers seem doubly relevant and interesting to young readers and listeners. It also allows for a rather eclectic approach to the issues covered and for the young age group this book is aimed at I think this is so clever; it creates the space for some more difficult or whimsical questions, such as “Where do my ideas come from?” and also allows dipping in and out of the book with great ease.

where

The colourful cartoony illustrations are fun and feature children asking lots of questions and doing different activities. It’s interesting to note that no child with any disability is included in the book; I do wonder if this was a conscious editorial decision. The robust physical properties of the book (with pages more like card than paper) are ideal for young children; it’s easy to handle and will certainly cope with repeated reading and enthusiastic lifting of the flaps.

I love the very last page of Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Your Body, for it turns the tables on the reader/listener and after asking a few questions which your child should be able to answer having read the book, it states “Now here are some questions this book can’t answer. See if you can…”

usbornebodybook

This gave us the idea to create Mini Me Booklets – a mini book kids can fill in about themselves using these questions as prompts. I’ve created a printable template which you can download from here. Once you’ve printed off the sheet, you’ll need to fold it and cut it to create the booklet. This video will show you how:

As well as some pens and pencils you might give your kids some photos of themselves to cut up and stick into the booklets (my kids adore seeing photos of themselves when they were younger); if you do this I suggest that the photos are sized so that the area to be cut out is no more than 65mm high (to ensure it will fit in the booklet).

minibook1

minibook2

minibook4

minibook5

I was particularly heartened by what M wrote in one section of her Mini Me Booklet:

minibook3

Whilst making our Mini Me Booklets we listened to:

  • Pee keeps our insides clean by Marc “Doc” Dauer (from a whole album about how the body functions). It’s a much catchier song than the title would suggest, and you can listen for free here on the album’s Myspace page.
  • The Bloodmobile by They Might be Giants
  • Dry Bones sung by the Delta Rhythm Boys
  • Other activities which would work well alongside reading Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Your Body include:

  • Creating your own lift the flap book with all the questions your own kids come up with whilst reading this book. Here’s a simple template you could adapt.
  • Learning what blood is made up of by creating a sensory tub to play with. I love this idea from I Can Teach My Child.
  • Making a role play hospital at home with teddies and dolls. Here’s a couple of ways we’ve done it in the past, including an operating theatre and home made x-rays.
  • What’s the funniest or most surprising question about bodies you’ve ever been asked by your kids?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Your Body from the Royal Society.

    royalsocietyprizebuttonEach year the Royal Society awards a prize to the best book that communicates science to young people with the aim of inspiring young people to read about science. Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Your Body is on this year’s shortlist for the The Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize. The winner will be announced 17th November.

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