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26. ALSC Member of the Month — Lisa Mulvenna

Each month, an ALSC member is profiled and we learn a little about their professional life and a bit about their not-so-serious side. Using just a few questions, we try to keep the profiles fun while highlighting the variety of members in our organization. So, without further ado, welcome to our ALSC profile, ten questions with ALSC member, Lisa Mulvenna.

1.  What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

Lisa Mulvenna

Courtesy photo

I am the Head of Youth/YA Services at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library. I have been in my current position since September 2013. Before that, I was a Youth Services Librarian at CMPL for 12 years. While I am in management now and don’t have as much to do with it as before, my specialty was early literacy and young children’s programming. Now I get to do fun things like helping to shape budgets and goals for our organization so we can do great things like early literacy or school outreach.

2.  Why did you join ALSC? Do you belong to any other ALA divisions or roundtables?

I joined ALSC to connect with other children’s librarians and to grow in my profession. The networking opportunities are invaluable and I have pulled many ideas from colleagues. I am also a member of PLA.

3.  Do you enjoy summer weather?

Despite living in Michigan, which is definitely a four season state, I am a total summer lover! As soon as the weather starts warming up in the spring, I am outside in my flip flops and shorts or driving with my sunroof open. Plus, there is nothing as relaxing as a summer evening spent reading on the front porch!

4.  E-books or Print?

It’s a mix. When I am working with kids, especially those under the age of 5, I prefer print books. It is important to learn about print, practice turning the pages, and being able to cuddle up to a caregiver to share a story. Plus, the illustrations are awesome! As an adult, almost all of the books that I read for pleasure are e-books because I am a device junkie and they give me easy access to e-books. On the other hand, I still love to be able to browse my local Barnes and Noble for a couple of hours!

5.  Favorite part of being a Children’s Librarian?

I love being able to watch the kiddos grow up! I get to see them in my baby and toddler story times, then as they grow, they will be back for homework help and pleasure reading once they hit school.

6.  Favorite age of kids to work with?

It used to be just 2 year olds, but I have now added babies into the mix. Even though their ages are close, they are very different to program for. Both are a lot of fun!

7.  What movie would you rather watch in a theater than at home?

The whole Harry Potter series! While I have them all on DVD, I loved seeing them all on the big screen.

8.  When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was one of those kids where it changed often. At my kindergarten graduation, I wanted to be a nurse, but I have also wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, a child therapist, and a music teacher. Luckily, I picked right!

9.  Tell us something that not many people know.

My family is in the 2001 Guinness World Records for largest family reunion. We had 3500 people at the Lake County Fairgrounds outside of Chicago. Since the Guinness World Records is a hot item at our library, the kids are flabbergasted when I tell them that I am in there.

10.  What do you think libraries will look like fifty years from now?

I think that the ideas and basic missions will be the same, but the way that we do them will change. Books are not going away and literacy will always be important. After all, you need to be able to read to do just about everything else. I see us becoming more of a community organization. Staff will do more outreach to take their mission on the road. We will do more programming out in the community, rather than mostly in the library.


Thanks, Lisa! What a fun continuation to our monthly profile feature!

Do you know someone who would be a good candidate for our ALSC Monthly Profile? Are YOU brave enough to answer our ten questions? Send your name and email address to alscblog@gmail.com; we’ll see what we can do.

The post ALSC Member of the Month — Lisa Mulvenna appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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27. John Scalzi Inks 13-Book Deal Contract with Tor

Bestselling author John Scalzi has inked a substantial book deal with Tor Books.

The sci-fi author will write thirteen books – 10 adult and three young adult titles – over the next 10 years for the publisher. The deal, reportedly $3.4 million, was led by Ethan Ellenberg of Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency. Titles will include a new far-future space opera series, as well as sequels to “Lock In.”

“Well, now I know what I’m doing for the next decade,\" said Scalzi in a statement. “And that’s a good thing. In an era when publishing is in flux, this contract with Tor will let me spend more of my time doing what readers want me to do: writing books and making new stories for them to enjoy. It also gives both me and Tor a stable, long-term base to grow our audience, not only among established science fiction and fantasy fans, but among readers of all sorts. Science fiction is mainstream culture now, and there are so many people discovering just how much there is to enjoy in these stories of ours. We have much more to share. That’s what we’re going to do.”

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28. Miramax Faces Lawsuit For Mr. Holmes Movie

Sir Ian McKellenThe estate of author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have filed a copyright and trademark lawsuit against Miramax for the movie, Mr. Holmes. The film stars Sir Ian McKellen (pictured, via) as an elderly Sherlock Holmes.

The story for this film adaptation, based on Mitch Cullin’s novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, served as the inspiration for the script. Variety.com reports that Cullin and Penguin Random House, the publisher of Cullin’s book, have also been named defendants in the complaint.

Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “According to the complaint, Doyle’s public domain works ‘make references to Holmes’s retirement,’ but the ones still in copyright tell ‘much more about Sherlock Holmes’ retirement and later years,’ such as the detective’s attempt to solve one last case, how he ‘comes to love nature and dedicates himself to studying it,’ and how Holmes develops ‘a personal warmth and the capacity to express love for the first time.’ Mr. Holmes screenwriter Mitch Cullin allegedly took ‘protected elements of setting, plot, and character’ to create his work, setting up a defense that will likely explore what was covered in earlier Doyle work and what might be generic ideas not worthy of copyright protection.”

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29. MELT by Ronan Lynam


Submitted by Ronan Lynam for the Illustration Friday topic MELT.

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30. Championship

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31. (The Story of) The Story of Diva & Flea

I could tell you its been a crazy time in DiTerlizziland, but I think I’ve finally realized its always crazy time here.

I’ve come to lean on the convenience of social media for sharing Post-it notes and Polaroids of my news and information. I assume that is how most of us keep track of the things and people we like, myself included. That said, I will continue to maintain this blog, though in a sporadic meter. I have to seek out the small openings in my schedule where I can pause, take a breather and share what I’m up to.

I think I am actually busier now than during the peak-Spiderwick years. Many projects are percolating, which has me incredibly excited: Movies are slowly developing in the background, I’m creating a pop-up shop’s worth of merchandise for my upcoming return to Gen Con, and there is a constant stream of books being created (by Ang and me).


After finishing the WondLa trilogy (all of which are now in paperback), I needed a break from books that required both writing and illustrating. Fortune shined upon me: I was asked to write the picture book version of the original Star Wars films, curate my old gaming art for a published collection by Dark Horse Comics, and Mo Willems asked me to illustrate a chapter book he’d written during his year-long stay in Paris.

As an aside, just to keep it real, as I am listing the books in the previous sentence, I feel like I am writing a news report for another author/illustrator who is not me. I still see myself as a kid living in Florida who likes to draw and write bad poetry. You know, this guy:

Fifth grade

Mo was inspired by the building manager’s dog (Diva) and an alley cat (Flea) who frequented the apartment where his family lived. When we spoke, he told me that he envisioned my artwork paired with his words for The Story of Diva & Flea. I was beyond flattered and began sketching right away.

Early Sketch

After Mo returned to the states, we discussed books that felt similar to the book we were going to create. I shared my beloved copies Frog & Toad are Friends, Grasshopper on the Road and Little Bear–all of which are beautifully designed and use a limited three-color palette in the art. Of course the only way I could find the colors for the palette I needed was to pack up the family, hop on a plane, and visit the City of Lights.


As first-time visitors, we visited many landmarks in Paris (including the gargoyles of Notre Dame cathedral, seen above) but there are some moments that I’ll cherish. One was visiting Mo’s Parisian apartment and meeting the real Diva (seen here with her owner) and locating Flea.


At Mo’s suggestion we visited Sennelier art supply, opened in 1887 and renowned for their custom paints. It is said that Gaugin, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Picasso frequented this shop. Gazing at the containers of old powdered pigments, I found the colors of France.


I returned from my trip invigorated and inspired. To see a glimpse of what an impact it had on me, I share with you the jacket art for Diva & Flea, done last fall primarily for the sales department and promotion of the book. This was created before I visited Paris:


…and this is the final cover, revised after my return:


Not only did I gain an understanding of the palette of the city, I gained understanding of the inspirations behind the characters as well. Though I changed Diva’s breed from Yorkshire Terrier to a West Highland Terrier–in order to create visual contrast between her and Flea–her personality, her essence, was in my art.


My usual shared advice for young artists is to find reference for whatever they are trying to create. For this book, the reference came in all sorts of ways: colors, architecture, character design, landmarks, etc. For me, this immersion helped me craft a genuine cohesive look to the book. I am grateful to Mo for inviting me along for this experience.

POSTER final art

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32. British Publishers Win Suit Against eBook Pirates

A group of publishers in the UK have won a lawsuit against several overseas pirate websites that distribute eBooks for free in the UK without paying a royalty to the publishers or authors.

A ruling by the High Court in London determined that the sites violated the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The ruling requires British internet service providers (ISPs) including BT, Virgin Media and Sky to block access to the sites named in the complaint within 10 days.

The sites include: Ebookee, LibGen, AvaxHome, Freebookspot, Freshwap, Bookfi and Bookre. According to the Publishers Association UK, these sites host about “10,000,000 ebook titles and have been making substantial sums of money, primarily through referral fees and advertising. None of this money has been going back to either the publisher or the author(s) of the works.” (Via The Financial Times).

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33. Guest Interview: Helen Wang on Children's Book Translation

Wenxuan's Bronze and Sunflower, translated by Wang
By Avery Fischer Udagawa
for Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

What do old coins, the British Museum, and Chinese novels have in common?

Helen Wang.

Wang is Curator of East Asian Money at the British Museum and also translates Chinese literature into English. Among her works are the middle grade novels Jackal and Wolf by Shen Shixi (Egmont, 2012) and Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan (Walker Books, 2015).

Wang has discussed these books in a virtual school visit, an essay, and an in-depth chat with Playing by the Book. Bronze and Sunflower is current Book of the Month at A Year of the Reading the World.

Helen Wang e-conversed with me for Cynsations about how she came to translate, and about the challenges of rendering two very different middle grade titles.

How did you cultivate the skills needed to translate from Chinese?

I did a B.A. in Chinese at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies in the 1980s. I’d done French, German and Spanish A-levels in secondary school, and was thinking about archaeology or art history, but ended up doing Chinese instead. As for translation skills, those came later. I translated some short stories in the early 1990s, but then started working at the Museum and earning a Ph.D. (in archaeology) and having a family and didn’t really have time for translating fiction until a few years ago.

Translation is different from research or everyday communication in another language. Recently, I was one of the judges for the U.K.’s Writing Chinese Translation Competition, and there were 88 entries! The best were those in which the translators had got inside the story and understood exactly what the author was trying to do, and then conveyed this in sharp, crisp English in a consistent and appropriate style. It takes time and effort to get to that level and to maintain it.

Let’s talk about your middle grade novels. Jackal and Wolf is a 282-page novel focused on a female jackal. Her prey alone includes crab, cobra, swan, deer, muntjac, bharal, chicken, boar, partridge, rabbit, mouse, frog, porcupine, gazelle, and vole—and these are just some of the animals in the book! Did you spend lots of time researching animal names, traits and terms in order to translate it?

Cover art by Chen Wen
I did spend some time on the animals, trying to find out precisely what kinds of noises they make and double-checking that I was using the right verbs for the various actions. A good friend who knows a lot about wild animals read through an almost final draft and made some very helpful suggestions.

Did you find you had to add details about less-known animals, or were the fascinating explanations part of Shen’s original? (“Now snow foxes are smaller than jackals, and don’t have their sharp claws or teeth, nor their courage.”)

It’s very much Shen Shixi’s style to explain these things as he goes along. I don’t think I added any details. If anything, I reduced them a bit, to prevent repetition and to avoid saying that the females of a species were “always” smaller and weaker than the males, for example. I toned these down because it’s not “always” true, and because the impact is probably more sexist in English than Shen consciously intended in the original Chinese.

In Jackal and Wolf, the jackal Flame forms a bond with a sworn enemy: a wolf named Sweetie. What did you think of the ties and interactions in the story?

Although this is an animal story, and there are plenty of episodes and descriptions of animal life, there’s also a lot of human behaviour in the story too. Some of the fighting scenes are quite graphic and intense, but it was the psychological behaviour that I found more disturbing, especially where Flame tests a potential suitor.

How did Jackal and Wolf come to be published? Will more of Shen Shixi’s works be translated?

Egmont had a project to publish Jackal and Wolf —and another book, An Unusual Princess by Wu Meizhen, translated by Petula Parris Huang—in eight different languages and to launch them at the London Book Fair in 2012, when China was guest of honour. So Petula and I translated from Chinese into English, and our English versions were then translated into Russian, German, Polish, Turkish, Czech, Swedish and Bulgarian. I don’t know of any plans to publish more of Shen Shixi’s animal stories in English, but he’s written a whole range of bestselling animal books. It would be wonderful to see them translated.

Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan is set in rural China as well, but features humans: a boy and girl coming of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s, during the Cultural Revolution. How did the translation come about?

Cover art by Meilo So
Bronze and Sunflower is a modern classic in China, and the French edition was very well received. Walker Books won a PEN Translation Award to publish it. The PEN awards support the publishers: when publishers apply to English PEN for an award, they have to submit a copy of the original book, which is then read by an expert in the source language, who writes a report to the English PEN committee, who choose which titles to support. So, a huge amount of work went into the English PEN endorsement on the front of Bronze and Sunflower! Someone recommended me to Walker Books, probably because they knew I had translated Jackal and Wolf.

Bronze and Sunflower unfolds in a small village called Damaidi, and begins when a city girl, Sunflower, needs a country boy, Bronze, to save her from danger. Bronze is mute yet possesses vast knowledge and strength. Was it hard to render him faithfully without seeming to overdo it?

When I first read the book, I was more concerned about Sunflower being too good than about Bronze’s credibility. Sunflower is a sweet-natured child and almost too kind, helpful and thoughtful to be true, especially when we consider the trauma she’s experienced in her short life: her mother died of illness, she was uprooted with her father to move from the city to the countryside, her father is presumed drowned but his body is never found, she has to wait under a tree being gawped at by the entire village until Bronze’s family eventually takes her in, and so on.

Bronze may be the only son of the poorest family in the village, but his family is incredibly strong and resourceful. Instead of going to school, he has spent his formative years with his grandmother, a very determined old lady, and as soon as he was old enough, he was out grazing the family’s water buffalo. He’s used his eyes and his ears and knows his environment better than most of the villagers.

This novel, too, must have required research—on everything from the feel of reed shoes, to the look of cogongrass, to the appeal of arrowhead corms. How did you explore new objects and concepts?

It’s brilliant to be able to go online and look things up. Google Images is a godsend! For things that are completely new to me, I’ll play around online and do quite a lot of cross checking to make sure I’ve understood. If I can’t work it out for myself this way, or if I don’t feel I’ve understood it properly, then I’ll ask for human help.

Helen Wang
For example, when a photographer comes to Sunflower’s school in Damaidi, and she knows the family can’t afford to buy her portrait, she tries to hide her disappointment behind a little song. This song is essentially about a married woman with an elaborate hairstyle, and an unmarried girl with a childish hairstyle, who are role-swapping and having fun. But there are so many complex cultural references packed into the four lines!

I found lots of amazing pictures of Chinese hairstyles with elaborate names (e.g. these), but it would have been impossible to explain them in four short rhyming lines in English. I must have tried a hundred variations. None of them worked. To keep the song short, I needed to cut some of the detail.

But I needed to know how far I could go. If the song was as well known as a nursery rhyme in English, then I needed to know which parts I absolutely had to keep. So I asked around, and I learned that it was more of an obscure old song than a popular nursery rhyme. I grew confident enough to improvise a song that would work in a similar way for the English reader—without drawing undue attention to the complex historical terms for hairstyles.

What was it like to translate suffering in the story: a locust plague, near-starvation?

My main concern was to convey in English what Cao Wenxuan was saying in Chinese. Those particular scenes brought home how cut-off the villagers were and how self-reliant they had to be. They were also a poignant reminder that this is what famine is like for people across the world when crops have failed.

You carve out time for translating children’s books from a busy life. What do novels in translation bring to young readers of English?

Good novels are good novels whichever language they were originally written in! But the world is a much more diverse and contemporary place than most English-language bookshops and libraries suggest. Young people all know this, and it’s wonderful to see campaigns like #WeNeedDiverseBooks gathering pace. I translate children’s books in the hope that it makes a difference, and also because I enjoy it!

Cynsational Notes

Helen Wang maintains a profile page at Paper Republic and co-tweets with translator Nicky Harman as ChinaFictionBookClub: @cfbcuk.

Avery Fischer Udagawa contributes to the SCBWI Japan Translation Group blog and is SCBWI International Translator Coordinator. She translated the historical middle novel J-Boys: Kazuo’s World, Tokyo, 1965 by Shogo Oketani.

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34. Two More Wizards!

Willow the Squirrel

Rowena the Porcupine

Greeting blog friends! Do you remember the game, Wizards of the Wild which I helped illustrate that was funded on Kickstarter back in March and April? Well, since the Kickstarter campaign reached so many stretch goals, I was able to make two new characters for the game. This time two female wizards. 

Introducing: Willow the Squirrel and Rowena the Porcupine! These characters were so fun to do, and I learned a lot while doing them.

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35. Beta Readers: Facts, Grammar, Plot, Character and More

The Aliens Inc, Chapter Book Series

Try Book 1 for Free

Thanks to the computer industry, we no longer have first readers, we have beta readers. Early versions of software that engineers expect to be riddled with problems were called beta versions. Beta is the second letter in the Greek alphabet, so presumably, the alpha versions were kept all in-house. Betas were the first public versions to be released.

The terminology has come over to writing and we now have beta readers. The analogy holds in some ways: the versions we send to outside readers probably isn’t the “alpha” version; instead, it’s a version that is ready for a public audience—but not ready to be published. We expect problems: typos, grammar slip-ups (Grammar Queens, I Love You!), plot holes, character inconsistencies, factual errors, and so on.

What do you want from your Beta Readers?


Factual details. My WIP is set on Bainbridge Island, which sits in the middle of Puget Sound near Seattle, WA. I’ve visited a couple times because my brother- and sister-in-law live there. However, I’ve not lived there, and I’m not grounded in everything BI. I’ve asked them to read through for factual details related to the setting.

To write this story, I drew on my trips to the area, as well as maps, views from Google Earth, historical accounts of the area, writings about the area, information about the local flora and fauna. I’ve done my homework. But there’s nothing to beat living in the locale for years. I would never have dared to set the story in the area except I knew I had these two gracious beta readers.

Bored. I also asked them to flag places they were bored. Wow! Do I need this one. The overall pacing from chapter-to-chapter, and the local pacing from paragraph-to-paragraph both concern me. I want the story to pull a reader along without a pause. If a beta reader is bored, I need to know. I can fix it, using a variety of tools. I just need to know where to work on it.

Confused. Likewise, if the flow of the story confuses the reader, I need to know. Of course, there may be places you WANT the reader to be confused. I’m not talking about that. I’m looking for places where the reader has no idea what is happening. Again, I can fix it: I don’t want beta readers to suggest HOW to fix it. I just want to know where to pay attention.

Consistency. In characterization, I find my biggest problem is consistency in portraying emotions, motivations, reactions and so on. Part of the process of writing is to find these deeper issues within your character, and for me, I often find them late in the story. That means I have to go back and make sure I’ve set up a motivation and expressed it consistently across the story. And sometimes, I miss something.

While Beta Readers Read

This time, I’m trying not to work on the story while the beta readers do their thing. That doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about the story. On the contrary, it’s in the background of my thoughts all the way.

We went to see The Avengers movie last week. If you saw it (SPOILER ALERT), there’s a huge action scene at the end with all the Avengers protecting the explosive device while robots come at them. It’s a great moment because the team has come together and they are working in concert. Besides that character moment, it’s also a huge action scene. And I mean huge. I almost turn away these days at the fast-paced fighting because there is moment after moment of continuous fighting. The last Transformer movie struck me this way, too: when there’s too much action, it deadens the moment for me.

But it also gave me a new perspective on the ending of my story. The hero doesn’t take a big enough part in the action. He is there (hurrah!). He is active (hurrah!). But his parents get in the way. I need to get rid of them and pit him directly against the villain.

In other words, I hit the target with the ending, but it’s not a bulls-eye, yet.

That’s the sort of thing I’m thinking about while the beta readers read. Where have I hit the target, but I’m not hitting the bull’s eye?

I may not be typing words into a program about the story during this time, but I’m working on it. When I get it back, I’ll have a flurry of revisions to do. Isn’t it great?

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36. Cinebook The 9th Art: SAM 2 - Robot Hunters

Authors: Richard Marazano & Shang
Age: 12 years and up
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Number of pages: 48 colour pages
Publication: March 2015

ISBN: 9781849182461
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT

A year has passed for the community of survivors. Ian and his team are still making dangerous forays to the ravaged surface in search of food and medicine, forced to go ever further each time. But one day, just as they’re about to be killed by one of the exterminator robots that constantly patrol the city, they’re saved by an old acquaintance not even Ian still hoped to see again: SAM, the strange robot that seems to want to protect the boy…

The art is detailed and the story is okay but even with the action picking up I have to write that it is leaving me cold.  I'm not sure whether it's the Manga style or not -the eyes are not that big, which I usually find a turn off.  I read volume 1 and volume 2 together but still. Nothing.

But that is me. I know that there are many out there who don't care what some cantankerous old fart in his fifties thinks (yes, I know, I look much younger) -they'll love this.  A boy and his robot.  A weaponised robot.

I'm hoping that the third volume in this series -"A Million Winters" -  gets me hooked more but, despite the lovely cover....no. Nothing.  My first "bad" Cinebook experience -while admitting that I do know this type of genre will be popular.  But if I said every Cinebook was superbly, fantastically, incredibly great I'd be just a PR mouth piece.

Try this series as no doubt I'm in the negative minority.

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37. Gearing up for Summer Reading 2015

Our army of superheroes are ready to be mobilized and are on there way to a school near you!  Look for them in your school library or resource room as they promote this summer's reading program -- Every Hero has a Story.  We will have lots of exciting programs and prizes as you read your way through the summer.  Summer reading begins Monday, June 22nd.  Looking forward to seeing you then!  

Posted by Sue Ann

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38. Fan Mail Wednesday #209: “I HATED reading (until now).”






Dear James,

HI! I’m Sara M. I’m a fifth grader in KY. I’ve recently taken a liking to your books, (meaning I read three of them all in one day this weekend.

Long story short, I HATED reading (until now.)

We just had our school, Barnes & Noble, book fair. I was looking around for some scary stories (because that’s my favorite genre.) I stumbled upon your first book. I read the first 3 pages and I was hooked. BLOODY MARY    BLOODY MARY    BLOODY MARY.  I bought it. I took it home that night and read it. I LOVED IT SO MUCH! So, I immediately got hooked on your Scary Tales series.

I then became obsessed with finding the other books in your series. On Saturday, my dad took me to the library. We found three of your books. The next day at school I started reading them. I read all three of them in one day.I want to encourage you to write a thousand more books ;)

Please write back if you get the chance. Also, if you write back, please list all of the Scary Tales books you have OUT right now and one that you are currently in THE MAKING of.

Looking on library pages to find more of your books,

your #1 fan,


I replied:

Dear Sara,

Thank you. That’s just about the most wonderful letter a writer can possibly receive. I’m so glad that you found books to love. Goodness knows there are so many great ones out there, it was just a matter of finding the right match. I hope you don’t think it was me, James Preller, because it’s not. I’m just a guy. The powerful thing is reading itself, and books, and worlds opening up before your eyes — that awesome feeling you get when you make that connection.

Illustration by Iacopo Bruno from SCARY TALES: SWAMP MONSTER.

Illustration by Iacopo Bruno from SCARY TALES: SWAMP MONSTER.

I’m proud of you for sticking with it. Also — and this is important, Sara, so listen up — I hope that you are grateful to your father who took time on a busy Saturday to bring you to the library for more books. Not everybody has a parent who would do that, so consider yourself lucky. I guess he wants to see as a reader, too. (Your local librarian did a nice job too, since not everybody is hip to my relatively new “Scary Tales” series.)

There are currently five “Scary Tales” books in print, and a sixth one coming out in early July: Home Sweet Horror; I Scream, You Scream; Good Night, Zombie; Nightmareland, One-Eyed Doll; and Swamp Monster.

I published my first book in 1986, and have written a wide assortment of books since. With this series, I tried to write the most exciting, OneEyedDoll_cvr_lorezthrilling, suspenseful, unputdownable stories that I possibly could. Fast paced, easy to read, filled with twists and turns and incredible illustrations (by the great Iacopo Bruno).

Thanks for your sweet letter. I love your enthusiasm. Keep it up this summer. Just remember that one good book leads to another, and another, and another. Talk to your librarian. I’m sure that he or she will have  recommendations for you in the scary book department. In the meantime, if you want to check out other books of mine, you might like Bystander or, coming this September, The Fall. I have my fingers crossed on that last one; very excited about it!

My best,

James Preller

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39. David Beronä, In Memory

It is with tremendous sadness that I share news I received this morning from my friend David Beronä's family: David passed away peacefully at home last night. He'd been fighting a brain tumor for about a year and a half, and so while the news is not quite a surprise, it is a blow.

I interviewed David for Colleen Lindsay's blog The Swivet in 2009, where we talked about his Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels, which had recently been published by Abrams. I knew very little about graphic narratives before meeting David, and he gave me an extraordinary education over the years, as his knowledge was vast and his passion was thrilling.

Eric Schaller and I had the honor of publishing what David told us was the last piece of writing that he completed before getting sick, the essay "Franz Masereel's Picture Books Against War", which appeared in last year's issue of our magazine The Revelator. David, Eric, and I did a bunch of work together, beginning with the Illustrating VanderMeer exhibit at Plymouth State University, where, until he got sick, David was Dean of Library and Academic Support Services.

The last time I saw David was at a retirement reception for him where the University dedicated a gallery wall of the library in his name. It was a bittersweet moment — so nice to see David being celebrated, so sad to have to say goodbye. Soon, he and his wife moved to Ohio to be closer to David's family. I didn't do a good job of keeping in touch, though I've thought of David frequently since he moved (which is no excuse for not being a better friend, but is the truth).

This past term, my last term of classes as a PhD student, I took a marvelous seminar on graphic narratives, and so David was constantly on my mind, and again and again I found myself returning to things he'd taught me, writers and artists whose work he'd introduced me to, ideas he had shared. I presented at the Dartmouth Illustration, Comics, and Animation Conference, a conference David always attended when he could. That I had any confidence at all presenting in front of a bunch of comics scholars and enthusiasts was very much because I'd been able to talk about so much with David over the years. It would have been fun to have been there with him.

In the short notes he was able to send out to friends after beginning treatment, written against the aphasia the tumor imposed, David exhorted us to cherish our health, and especially our brains. (His life had changed completely over the course of a single weekend.) He spoke of the anger he felt at first when he realized how much he'd lost, and then the peace he found in accepting the vagaries of life, the good and bad, the love of friends and family, the little things and the everyday moments — the things that, in the end, linger longest. (The irony was, I'm sure, not lost on him that he was a man who'd written much about wordless books, and then had lost his words.) He returned to painting, and he was glad to find a good comics shop in the town he moved to in Ohio. He went for long walks in the woods. He spent his last year with family, and he knew that he had friends around the country and, indeed, around the world who were thinking of him.

He lives on in the knowledge he shared with us and the joy that he inspired. My life has been tremendously enriched by all he taught me, but, more than any of that, what I will carry as a memory of him forever is the memory of his smile. He never lost some of the wonder of childhood, and you could see it in his smile.

It's hard to smile today, but for David, I will try.

Lynd Ward, from God's Man

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40. New Sneaks

My new striped sneakers might be cool
Or creepy, I can’t tell.
The price was right and socks or not,
They fit me very well.

With rounded toe and laces black
And soles both thick and white,
They make my feet resemble boats
Yet still, they look all right.

I hemmed and hawed inside the store
And then made my decision,
Expecting that my spouse would look
At them with some derision.

But he was undecided, too,
So this was his reply:
“Pharrell* could wear those and on him,
You know they’d look real fly**.”

They’re on my feet right now and there
They will reside a spell;
But still, they might be creepy -
After all, I’m no Pharrell!

*Pharrell Williams
**cool (not my husband’s exact words, I must admit!)

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41. ‘Fabulous’ Review for Tavia Gilbert’s ‘Maggie’

Voice actress Tavia Gilbert has received another outstanding review for her performance of Maggie Vaults Over the Moon by Grant Overstake, this time from prolific reviewer Jennie Mortarotti on her blog, Narrator Reviews and Audiobooks — FULL REVIEW If you … Continue reading

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42. Cinebook The 9th Art: Damocles 1- Bodyguards

Damocles - Bodyguards
Authors: Callède & Henriet
Age: 12 years and up
Size: 21.7 x 28.7 cm
Number of pages: 48 colour pages
ISBN: 9781849182324
Price: £6.99 inc. VAT
Publication: May 2015 
London, the near future. Ever-increasing social inequalities have seen the birth of a flourishing kidnapping industry. To counter such a constant, overhanging threat, private security companies employing highly trained bodyguards have sprung into existence. Ellie Braxton works for the Damocles agency, the most renowned of those companies. Tasked with protecting the son of an important British industry magnate, she and her team find themselves faced with terribly efficient and remarkably motivated opponents…

Anyone remember the ITV series Bodyguards from the 1990s? John Shrapnel played the boss with Sean Pertwee and Louise Lombard as "the bodyguards"?  Just me then.  But this cover reminds me of that series....and Louise Lombard.


Anyway, I like the blend of action, domestic life and how it all gets put into one slick package of art that looks great.  The use of extreme close-ups I like:  American artists tend to over use this and it gives no real effect to the dialogue.  However, European artists tend to use it with good effect.  The colour work by Usagi is excellent and adds more atmosphere to scenes.

The story and dialogue around the main character, Ellie, are crisp and interesting.  Everything kicks off with what appears to be a hostage stand-off but like that is going to fluster the Damocles bodyguards! Everything flows smoothly and that last panel and those whispered three words -no, that would be a spoiler!- gave me a smirk.

Cinebook has the entire UK market to itself when it comes to great action-crime-thriller comic albums and Damocles is another fine addition to its line-up.

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43. Reese Witherspoon to Star in a Live-Action Tinker Bell Movie

Reese WitherspoonWith the success of live-action movies for Cinderella and Maleficent, Disney has announced that it will shoot a new movie starring Tinker Bell. This character originates from the beloved play, Peter Pan.

Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon has signed on to play the titular role. In addition to her acting duties, Witherspoon will also serve as a producer for this project.

Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter: “Initially a minor and nonspeaking character in J.M. Barrie’s Pan story, Tinker Bell has, since her appearance in Disney’s 1953 classic animated feature, become one of the symbols of Disney and is at the center of the lucrative Disney Fairies franchise. Peter Pan’s fairy companion has typically been portrayed as a temperamental character who can become dangerously jealous due to her unrequited love for the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.” (via Variety.com)

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44. Gail Gonzales Moves to Rodale Books

rodale304Gail Gonzales will serve as a vice president and associate publisher at Rodale Books. Prior to this move, Gonzales worked as a director of integrated marketin at Simon & Schuster.

Gonzales’ start date has been scheduled for June 15th. She will report to senior vice president and publisher Mary Ann Naples.

For her new role, Gonzales will oversee the trade books division. According to the press release, some of the duties she will be charged with include developing “Rodale’s publishing program, as well as new products and initiatives with current and perspective authors and brands; cultivate synergy with Rodale magazines, integrated marketing team, and direct-to-consumer books group; and work closely with Macmillan.”

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45. Twenty-Five Years Strong

me-and-kev2A May 26, 1990. That was the day my life changed for the better.

Kevin and I have been married for 25 years. And I could write a novel of the events that lead up to this day, but I think instead, I’m going to copy what my sister-in-law did on Facebook and just bullet-point our lives:

  • We worked together at a bank – that’s how we met.
  • Our first “date” was the company Christmas party. And we met there, in separate cars. Because I was a strong female and didn’t want him to think I was easy. *smirk*
  • We lived together for two years before we got married. *gasp*
  • I had to give him an ultimatum – either we get married, or we go our separate ways. (Remember that strong female part? I was terrified he would walk out – but I guess it was better than wasting years together).
  • I had to shop around for a church. We didn’t belong to a church and a friend I worked with recommended a pretty little church in Nixa. Done.
  • Our wedding day: Kevin thought I stood him up since I was late getting to the church. That same friend that recommended the church also did my hair. A fancy little braid number and it took longer than we thought it would. Kevin said he lost a few years waiting for me.
  • We paid for our wedding ourselves. Well. Technically, we used one of my school loans to pay for our wedding.
  • My mom’s wedding gift to me was making my wedding dress.

  • I still have the dress packed away in a garment bag. I couldn’t fit into it now to save my life.
  • We toasted each other with paper cups because I totally forgot to buy glasses for the occasion.
  • Our wedding photographer was horrified because Kevin forgot to wear dark socks with his tux. The photographer had to place my wedding bouquet over his feet to hide them.
  • Whoever was in charge of music played the wedding march (the song you exit to) when my dad escorted me down the aisle. I wasn’t even aware of that faux pas until Kevin and I watched the wedding video afterward.
  • I had to wear ballet slippers instead of gorgeous heels because I didn’t want to be taller than Kevin for our pictures. (At least I was comfortable).
  • I couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over. And who was the idiot that picked three songs to sing, during the ceremony, so that it lasted WAY longer than it had to? (That would be me).
  • We honeymooned in Cozumel, Mexico.
  • It was the first time I had ever been out of Missouri, let alone the country, and I cried like a baby.
  • I smashed my pinky in a lounge chair on the beach. I later lost that fingernail.
  • We rented a moped to get around the island and I don’t think we wore helmets. (We were young and stupid).

  • We ate lunch at a shack on the other side of the island and wrote our names in this pole. We later went back to Cozumel years later and the shack was gone.
  • I remember Kevin and I being horrified because the little prop plane that took us from Cancun to Cozumel was literally held together by duct tape.
  • I absolutely did not pack the right type of clothing for Cozumel. All of my shirts were too heavy and all I had with me were jean shorts. I’ve since learned tank tops and breezy skirts are your friend if you ever go to a tropical island.
  • On the plane ride home from our honeymoon, the landing gear wouldn’t come out and one of the flight attendants had to open the floor and crank the gear down. That did not help my anxiety over flying one bit.
  • I did not fly again until our 10th anniversary cruise to the Caribbean.

    and lastly …

  • I can’t imagine my life without my best friend, lover, confidante and husband.
  • Thank you for putting up with me all of these years, sweetie. I love you to the moon and back.


    Filed under: Life

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    46. David Doran

    David Doran

    David Doran is a freelance illustrator based in the UK. A recent graduate of Falmouth University, he creates rich and layered work with a strong sense of narrative and visual emotion. His clients include The New York Times, WIRED, Nobrow and the San Francisco Chronicle.


    David Doran

    David Doran

    David Doran

    David Doran


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    47. Nick Offerman, John Waters, & The Teen Author Carnival Get Booked

    Teen Author Carnival (GalleyCat)Here are some literary events to pencil in your calendar this week.

    To get your event posted on our calendar, visit our Facebook Your Literary Event page. Please post your event at least one week prior to its date.

    Twenty writers are set to participate in the Teen Author Carnival 2015. Check it out on Tuesday, May 26th at the Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library starting 6:30 p.m. (New York, NY)

    Comedian Nick Offerman will appear at Barnes & Noble (Union Square branch) to talk about his new book, Gumption. See him on Tuesday, May 26th starting 7 p.m. (New York, NY)

    Filmmaker John Waters will headline the next event at the Bryant Park Reading Room. Meet him on Wednesday, May 27th starting 12:30 p.m. (New York, NY)

    The next session of the How I Learned series will focus on stories about school. Check it out on Wednesday, May 27th starting 8 p.m. (New York, NY)

    The second annual Kids Author Carnival is taking place at the Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library. Join in on Saturday, May 30th from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (New York, NY)

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    48. Now Read This: Captain America 3: The Future of Crossbones, Black Panther & The Civil War!

    Quite interesting posting over on MoviePilot that ought to be of interest to those of you keenly anticipating all those upcoming Marvel movies and, particularly, Captain America 3.

    Captain America 3 makes some changes to Civil War.
    Captain America 3 makes some changes to Civil War.
    The Atlanta set of Captain America: Civil War was expected to be a heavily covered production but I don't think anyone was quite ready for the amount of photos and footage that emerged from there the past couple weeks. Images of Cap, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Frank Grillo in a full Crossbones outfit have been spreading like a Hydra agent infestation over the internet. With most of the action having taken place on a set made up to look a lot like what could be the Black Panther's hometown of Wakanda, fans are already dissecting these photos and videos to read the tea leaves of Captain America 3.

    Frank Grillo as Crossbones

    The actual news that has emerged from the Wakanda set is that after the action moved on to a new location - Frank Grillo sent out an Instagram notice that he has wrapped his Crossbones duties on Captain America 3 and raised some eyebrows with the added text to the message of "I Am Done With This Marrage".

    Intrigued? Read more here: 

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    49. "Monday's Stories" On Tuesday

    On Monday of last week I published a post about a new weekly post entitled Monday's Mysteries,  then, I published another post, entitled, Put On Your Thinking Capabout changing the title to Monday's Stories: fact Or Fiction, which I meant to publish yesterday, but due to the terrible weather in south Louisiana, my power went out. So, I would like to apologize to my subscribers and readers who were looking forward to reading yesterdays post. My utilities came back on for about an hour, so I posted a "Running Behind" post thinking I would be able to publish the stories, but I lost power again, so here they are today. Tuesday's Question will return next week. 

    On Monday's post I wrote: "Every Monday I’m going to write two brief stories, one story will be authentic, and the other highly colored fiction.

    You will decide which story is true and which is pure imagination. These Tall Tales will be brief, fun, and challenging. Do you think you can tell the difference between truth and fiction?" 

    This week, I will publish the correct answers on Friday, but next week, I will stop taking comments about which story you think is true on Friday, and reveal the true story in the next Monday's Stories post.

    This is another clever suggestion from Sandee from Comedy Plus, because as Sandee pointed out, it will give everyone a chance to read others opinions throughout the week-end, as well as build anticipation. 

    I'll post the links to the blogs and websites, (or your name if you do not have a blog) for those of you who guess the true story. You can let me know by leaving a comment. I love comments and I will reply. Take your time, you have until Friday. Although you're more than welcome to leave a comment today, if you think you know which story is true, or just to say hello, and remember you don't have to leave a comment to read comments, they're fun to read, and it's a great way to discover other blogs. 

    Thanks and good luck! I hope you will enjoy both stories, and have a hard time guessing, but don't worry I'll get better at this...plus, I hope they're not too long, I'll get better at that too. Just click on "Read more" to read Monday's Stories.

       Grocery Store Items

    One day last week when I returned home from the grocery store, I noticed I forgot a few things, so I zoomed back to the store in the pouring rain, found a parking space, grabbed a buggy and dashed inside.  I forgot bananas, yogurt, cat food, and toothpaste, so I headed toward produce first, since most of the items I forgot were on that side of the store.                                                                                            
    I pushed my buggy so fast you would think I was a contestant in one of those grocery contests that gives you ten minutes to put as many groceries in your buggy as possible.  But, my grocery cart slowed to a stretching halt when I didn’t see any  bananas, they’re usually the first item displayed, even the fixture and scale to check their weight was gone, it was as if bananas didn’t exist. 
    I must have been acting strange steering my cart around produce, like I was playing Roller Derby, because I saw a woman watching me out of the corner of my eye shaking her head with disgust. I’m not sure if she shared my frustration about the banana’s, or if she was disgusted by me, but I thought it may be the latter, because I smiled at her and she didn’t smile back.

    Surprised, I put my elbow on the cart, laid my head in my hand and tried to calmly stroll around produce in one last search; I passed the tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, onions, etc, thinking about why produce was well stocked, with the exception of bananas, then I gave up, and headed toward the yogurt, passing an empty fixture with a scale. For some reason, I felt a deep sense of loss, because the banana fixture looked like a hurricane had passed through and customers cleaned them out.
    In any event, I went about my business, picked up yogurt, and started to make the mile walk to the other side of the store for cat food and toothpaste, when to my surprise the woman I saw in produce was standing in front of me with a cart full of groceries. If we were in a grocery contest she would definitely be the winner. Her cart was overflowing with what looked like everything in the store, and here she was blocking me from leaving the area, and I wasn’t sure why.

    I said, “Hello, excuse me,” but she just looked at me with the same expression she had on her face earlier, only this time, she was closer to me, so I could see her better. Her blue eyes peered at me behind cat eyed glasses, then she threw her head up in the air, and aggressively moved her cart out of my way to let me pass, and I did.  
    I started to push my cart faster than I did when I entered the store, and reached the cashier in seconds. But to my disbelief she was ahead of me in line with her cart full of groceries, and I had four items.

    The cashier stood on her tiptoes to look over this woman who stood about six inches tall, and I’m five seven, and said to me, “I’m sorry, I’m the only cashier here tonight, we’re low on staff.” (Hint, hint.) 
    The woman spun around, put her hand on her hip, stepped toward me like a cat about to pounce, and gave me a look I will never forget. The expression on her face reminded me of an angry animal, and her eyes pierced through my soul.
    The cashier nodded at me as if to say, “Let’s just move on,” so I asked her where the restrooms were, because I knew I would be in line for awhile, then headed toward the bathroom.

    But when I returned my buggy had disappeared, the woman had finished checking out, and my groceries were gone. 

    I asked the cashier, who looked at me shyly.

    “Excuse me, but what happened to my groceries?”

    That’s when the manager appeared and said,

    “Well, you weren’t in line, so I put them back. Besides, that’s what you get.” 

    Astonished, I said,

    “What in the world are you talking about?”

    Then he glared at me like I was a common criminal, and said,

    “Well, the lady who checked out before you  told me that you took the last of the banana’s, and weren’t even considerate enough to offer her a few when we’re out of stock, then you tried to get in line ahead of her when she was in line first.”

    Then, I asked him, “Well, sir, didn’t you put my groceries back?”

    Where upon he replied, “Yes maim, I did.”

    I was speechless, but I pushed these words out of my mouth,

    “Well, with all due respect, did you see any banana’s in my grocery basket?”

    “No, I figured you probably got rid of them in the bathroom.”

    Startled, I said,

    “You know what, just forget about it, I believe I’ll go to a grocery store that has bananas.”  

    The manager mumbled something, but I ignored him, and walked out of the store.  

    As I left, seething, I saw the woman driving away eating a banana.   
    Or is this true?

    “Toby And Pete”

    I could feel the dirt under my nails as I wiggled like a snake under my grandmother’s house, which was dark in the daytime. I was crawling under the house to visit “Pete,” a little black and tan dog my grandmother owned before I was born. Pete was the last dog in the bloodline of Toby, a homeless dog who arrived at my grandmother’s house in 1948, when my mother was ten years old.

    Toby was Pete’s great-grandmother, the first dog to show up at my grandparent’s home, probably because it was the only house on the street, it sat on brick pillars a foot off the ground, and it was near a railroad track.   

    This was the same house I was slithering under to find Pete several decades later. My mother’s childhood home sat on three acres of land full of gorgeous foliage, azalea bushes, clover, and every tree you can imagine. Their house was the only house on Moss Side Lane, named for the moss that swayed from the oak trees that grew together creating a tunnel over a gravel road.

    My Mom told me that just about anything alive was allowed to live there, as long as they were respectful of the grounds and could feed themselves, that is with the exception of domestic animals. My maternal grandparents home must have seemed like an amusement park to animals.

    They had the amenities of a huge yard where they could run, hunt, and play, in addition to a house off the ground, where they could lay on cool dirt out of the Louisiana sunshine.

    My mother said that when Toby walked up their gravel driveway, they instantly bonded, so much so, that Toby let my mother take her for rides in a baby stroller wearing a bonnet.

    Toby had many litters of puppies, and a few false pregnancies, but the puppies went on to live separate lives with other families, but they kept a few, so who knows who was breeding who?

    Nevertheless, all of Toby’s pregnancies, (the ones that weren’t false) went smoothly, and the puppies were healthy, except my mother thought that one set of puppies looked strange, although she couldn’t pinpoint the problem.

    That is, until one morning after my mother took the puppies off the front porch to go outside, and went back in the house. Then, about fifteen minutes later, it started raining outside and my mom heard the puppies coughing and wheezing, so she went under the house, pulled out each puppy, and brought them to the front porch. Then, she brought a few of the puppies inside to show her father, who was sitting at the kitchen table.      

     “Daddy,” she said, I cannot figure out why these puppies cough when they’re out in the rain, and something looks funny about them, but I’m not sure what it is.”

    Her father said, “Yes, I noticed those puppies, and honey, you shouldn’t take them out in the rain.”

    Now, my mother was really confused, so she asked him,  

    “Why can’t I take them out in the rain, and what do you mean you noticed them?”  

     “Because honey, their noses are upside down and running around in the rain is probably not a good idea.”

    When my mother told me this story, I asked her if the puppies turned out alright, and she said,

    “Well, Pete was born, wasn’t he?”

    Or is this story true?      


    Thank you for reading...

    Don't forget comments are fun to read and write. :) 

    Note  for Tuesday only: We're experiencing some bad weather in south Louisiana, so if I haven't responded to your comment shortly, I promise I will reply as soon as possible. 

    0 Comments on "Monday's Stories" On Tuesday as of 5/26/2015 2:07:00 PM
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    50. How Much Should You Earn Per Hour?

    money_question(This post is based on yesterday’s Monday Motivations for Writers email. If you’d like more goodies like this in your inbox, plus two free e-books, please join the Renegade Writer mailing list!)

    Carol Tice and I surveyed more than 500 content mill writers and presented the findings in a webinar last week. One of the most stunning stats was that 40% of content mill writers earn from $1-$5 per hour.

    Maybe another 40% earned somewhere between $6 and $20 per hour, and I could almost hear some writers on the call thinking, “Hey, $15 per hour writing isn’t so bad! That’s how much I make at my day job.”

    But here’s the thing: At your day job, you get paid for ALL the hours you work — even those hours where you’re reading Gawker and checking Facebook. As a freelance writer, you get paid only those hours you can bill for — and believe me, far from all hours are billable.

    As a freelancer, you’re also paying for your own expenses and health insurance, and your taxes are higher. (Normally your employer pays a 7.5% employment tax rate and you pay 7.5% — but as a business owner, YOU pay the entire 15%. Bummer, I know.)

    Renegade Reader Ivonne Cueva let me know about an hourly rate calculator that will help you determine what you SHOULD be charging to reach your target income (Thanks, Ivonne!):


    You just enter your current income and how much you’d like to increase that by, your expenses, and an estimate of how many work days and billable hours you’ll have in a year. Then click “Calculate My Hourly Rate” and voila! — that’s how much you need to be earning/charging per hour.

    For example, I entered in $10,000 as the current annual earnings (which is probably actually TOO high for content mill writing) and then keyed in that I want to increase my income to $50,000 per year. I very roughly estimated some expenses and figured the writer would be working 4 days per week, 8 hours per day, with 50% of those hours being billable.

    (Keep in mind this is an educated guess for an average writer…you may have more billable hours, or less…you may have more hours to work during the week, or less.)

    Annnnnnd: To make this work, a writer would need to earn $133.53 per billable hour.

    Now, that’s not impossible — it’s the amount a good copywriter can make. And when I write, I typically earn $250 per hour because I’ve been writing so long that I can create a great article, web page, etc. pretty quickly. So, definitely doable.

    And this shows that even earning $20 per hour at a content mill — about 7% of content mill writers earn $16-$20 per hour — well, it sounds good but it really isn’t.

    Check out this online calculator (it’s free) and see the hourly rate you would need to bill to earn your target income as a writer. It’s eye-opening, AND it will motivate you to seek out better-paying work.

    Happy writing,

    Linda Formichelli
    The Renegade Writer

    P.S. Join us for the beta session of our new e-course Escape the Content Mills, which starts on Wednesday! We’re charging only $29 because we’re looking for YOUR feedback to make the course amazing. (And once we get your input, we’ll redo the course incorporating your questions and comments, and send you a copy of the completed materials.) Next session, the price will go up to $49, so you get a hefty 40% discount if you sign up now. http://usefulwritingcourses.com/courses/escape-the-content-mills/

    P.P.S. Even if you don’t want to join us for Escape the Content Mills, visit that class page to get a free copy of our case study report “Escape the Content Mills: 6 Writers’ True Stories of Breaking Out and Earning More.”

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