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<<November 2014>>
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1. PiBoIdMo Day 1: Kristi Valiant Lies in a Good Way (plus a prize!)

kristivaliantby Kristi Valiant

Are you ready to jump in? Do you have a few picture book ideas you’ve been keeping secret so you can write them down today and count them? Now for some more…

Start an ongoing list of things you adore or loathe or laughed out loud at or evoked some kind of emotion that stuck with you. Is there a tradition or memory from childhood that comes to mind? What about that time your friend got in trouble for something silly? Write down that funny thing your grandchild or pet did that you keep telling everyone about. It could even be a ridiculous incident your cousin’s yoga instructor mentioned in a Facebook post that you’re still laughing about.

For example, my adorable 2-year-old girl in pigtails walked up to some older kids on the playground and growled in their faces so they’d move and she could play on the slide by herself. I then explained to her that we don’t growl at people. We aren’t bears or monsters. I wrote that down as a picture book idea. But it’s not really a whole picture book, and having Mommy step in to fix the problem is a big no-no in picture books. I can use that real-life experience as a starting point for a character whose personality doesn’t match her appearance, and then make it a better story.

Don’t be afraid to change the way something happened. Writing fiction is lying in a good way. Sometimes we get so stuck on basing our manuscript on a real-life experience or a sweet person or animal we love, that we’re preventing our manuscript from becoming a fully realized, great book.

I illustrated a picture book written by Danielle Steel that just came out this week called PRETTY MINNIE IN PARIS. (Cue the celebratory chocolate lava cake!) This book is based on Danielle’s own teacup-size Chihuahua named Minnie. Did Danielle write Minnie true-to-life? Nope!


In the book, Minnie loves being out and about in Paris, but Danielle’s real pet Minnie is squeamish about touching sidewalks or even being set down outside. In the book, Minnie is a fashionable pup with an outfit for every occasion, but when I visited Danielle and the real Minnie in Paris last year, Danielle had a blast dressing Minnie up for me, but Minnie was mortified! She is not a fan of doggie clothes. Minnie has even rolled on her back and refused to get up when Danielle dressed her in a snowsuit before. That one tidbit made it into the book, but the rest of the book is mostly made up.


If you’re basing a story on real people or animals in your life, you may have a tendency to try to protect them in your story or to make them too perfect. I have a sketch dummy ready to submit that’s based on my husband and daughters and a chasing game we play. I have to admit it was a bit hard to make my little girl shed tears in that story. I had to keep telling myself it’s not really her. Don’t go easy on your characters. They aren’t your real kids or pets.



To sum it up, be inspired by real-life incidents, people, and animals, but then ask, “What would make this an even better story?” That’s where the fun starts.



Kristi wrote and illustrated the picture book PENGUIN CHA-CHA and illustrated Danielle Steel’s picture book, PRETTY MINNIE IN PARIS, as well as the Little Wings chapter book series, THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN, CORA COOKS PANCIT, and others. Her books received a Starred Review from School Library Journal and won some shiny awards. Kristi graduated magna cum laude from Columbus College of Art & Design with a major in Illustration. She grew up in Wisconsin, studied in Ohio, danced in Texas, taught in China, and now lives in Indiana with her husband, daughters, and a room full of hippos, monkeys and sneaky penguins.

Visit Kristi online at KristiValiant.com or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kvaliant.

PRETTY MINNIE IN PARIS has its own website (http://www.randomhousekids.com/brand/pretty-minnie) with a look inside the book, Minnie’s map of Paris, and a paper dog activity in which you can print out Minnie and dress her up in lovely outfits. Oh la la!



Kristi Valiant will sign a copy of PRETTY MINNIE IN PARIS for a lucky winner!

This prize  will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

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2. 2014 Completed Challenges: RIP IX

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings, (sign up) (reviews)
Title: RIP (Readers Imbibing Peril) IX
Duration: September and October
# of Books: at least 4, peril the first --

Dark Fantasy.

My favorite book read during this challenge was Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. It was so good, I read it twice! Once in September, once in October.

The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October. A crisp sun shone over Cellar Hollow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees. Steam rose from the soil like a phantom, carrying with it a whisper of autumn smoke that had been lying dormant in the frosty underground. Squinting through the trees, you could just make out the winding path that ran from the village all the way to the woods in the south. People seldom traveled in that direction, but on this March-morning-that-felt-like-October, a horse and cart rattled down the road. It was a fish cart with a broken back wheel and no fish. Riding atop the bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was named Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip. And they were riding to their deaths. This, at least, was what Molly had been told by no fewer than a dozen people as they traveled from farm to farm in search of the Windsor estate. 
What I Read:

  1. The Attenbury Emeralds. Jill Paton Walsh. 2010/2011. St. Martin's Press. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Late Scholar. Jill Paton Walsh. 2014. St. Martin's Press. 368 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. My Cousin Rachel. Daphne du Maurier. 1951. 374 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Death of a Schoolgirl (Jane Eyre Chronicles #1) Joanna Campbell Slan. 2012. Berkley Trade. 340 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. The Lost. Sarah Beth Durst. 2014. Harlequin. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten. Harrison Geillor. 2011. Night Shade Books. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  7. Northanger Abbey. Jane Austen. 1817/1992. Everyman's Library. 288 pages. [Source: Book I Own] 
  8. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/1991. Del Rey. 179 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9.  The Singing Sands. Josephine Tey. 1952. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  12. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  13. A Creature of Moonlight. Rebecca Hahn. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 313 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  14. The Only Thing To Fear. Caroline Tung Richmond. 2014. Scholastic. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  15. The Case of the Stolen Sixpence. Holly Webb. Illustrated by Marion Lindsay. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  16. A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  17. Frankenstein. Mary Shelley. 1818/1831. Oxford World's Classics. 250 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  18. Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle. George Hagen. 2014. Random House. 384 pages. [Source: Review Copy]  
  19. Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937. 337 pages. [Source: Bought]
  20. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library] *different review from above
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla  by Katherine Applegate illustrated by G. Brian Karas Clarion Books, 2014 Grades K-5 The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher. In an accessible, narrative style,  Katherine Applegate shares the story of the Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla with young readers in this nonfiction picture book. Many readers will be

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4. Doris Lessing: another world of words

Doris Lessing (22 October 1919 – 17 November 2013) was an astonishing wordsmith, as any reader of her many novels, stories, plays, and poems would attest — and the genesis of this talent can be seen in her upbringing and surroundings.

Childhood memories

She was five years old when her family emigrated in 1925 to what was then known as Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). She was a sensitive, awkward child enduring a troubled relationship to her mother, who doted on her younger brother to Doris’s neglect.

The long boat journey had been difficult, exacerbated by her seasick father and her mother’s response, which was to throw herself into manic forms of distraction with her jolly new friend the Captain. In the celebrations that accompanied crossing the equator, young Doris had been thrown with her mother’s blessing into the sea, although she could not swim and had to be hooked out by a sailor.

By the time they disembarked Doris was one angry child. She was stealing small, pointless things like ribbons, having temper tantrums, and demanding a pair of scissors with which she planned to stab her nursemaid. And then they set out in a covered wagon drawn by sixteen oxen to find the land her parents had bought for farming. The strange new world around her had a magically soothing effect:

“We were five days and nights in the wagon, because of swollen rivers and the bad road, but there is only one memory, not of unhappiness and anger, but the beginnings of a different landscape; a hurricane lamp swings, swings, at the open back of the wagon, the dark bush on either side of the road, the starry sky.”

Doris Lessing, British writer, at lit.cologne, Cologne literature festival 2006, Germany. By Elke Wetzig (elya) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Doris Lessing, British writer, at lit.cologne, Cologne literature festival 2006, Germany. By Elke Wetzig (elya) CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Beauty and cruelty

Africa’s searing heat branded sense memories onto her child’s skin. She grew up loving the bush, fascinated by its inhabitants, both animal and human, but horrified by the way its brutal laws of survival had infected its politics. That there should be masters and slaves, an unjust submission of an entire indigenous population by a minority of white invaders was something Doris felt deeply uneasy about, and then, as she grew into an adult understanding, incensed and outraged. She had been forced to submit to her dominant mother and came gradually to understand that this bullying was the measure of her mother’s insecurity and fear. She would attack such power-hungry relationships in all her writing. Her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, her Children of Violence quartet, the African short stories she wrote and, in later years, her memoir, all were concerned with the beauty of the land and the cruelty of the race bar in Rhodesia in the years up until the Second World War.

Africa gave Lessing a vast and evocative lexicon to play with. Nowhere is her pleasure in it more evident than in the first volume of her memoir, Under My Skin. Luxuriating in her descriptions, she details the flora and fauna of the region — the cedrillatoona trees, the musasa trees, the mafuti tree: “growing at its root was an excrescence, like a sea creature, coral sheaths where protruded the tender and brilliant claws of new leaves, and these were like green velvet.” There were pawpaws and guavas, moonflowers and poinsettias, in a landscape made out of kraals — enclosures for cattle and sheep; kopjes — small hills; veld — uncultivated grassland; and vlei — shallow pools. Running wild were different kinds of antelope: koodoos and duikers. The natural world was alive with sound:

“On the telephone wires the birds twittered and sang, sometimes it seemed in competition with the droning metal poles, and from the far trees came the clinking of hidden guineafowl flocks. The wind sang not only in the wires, but through the grasses, and if it was blowing strongly, made the wires vibrate and twang, and then the flock of birds took off into the sky, their wings fluttering or shrilling, and they sped off to the trees, or came circling back to try again. Dogs barked from the compound.”

Two cultures

There was another natural world, too, one of the black Africans Lessing lived alongside, where words often came with derogatory or offensive undertones. The following words are found in Lessing’s memoir Under My Skin, where she also talks about her horror at the treatment black workers received. There was the “kitchen kaffir” that they spoke, a sort of pidgin English. There was the “bossboy” who oversaw the workers on a farm, and then there were “skellums” or “skelms,” the word for a scoundrel, scamp or rogue, of whom there seemed to be a great deal. Doris’s own world of white immigrant farmers sat uneasily astride two cultures: the grand piano incongruous inside a pole and mud house with unplastered walls, furniture fashioned out of paraffin boxes, Doris forced to wear her hated Liberty bodice by day whilst at night she slept beneath an equally disliked “kaross” — a fur blanket that smelt too strongly of its original owner.

Part of the brilliance of Lessing’s writing comes from the world she creates so seamlessly around the reader, who is transported to a place that is not just different, but utterly alien in its terminology. In later novels, she would evoke other worlds that were just as strange and all-encompassing — the world of madness and emotional breakdown in The Golden Notebook, and the world of her science fiction quintet, Canopus in Argos. Creating a world with its own vocabulary was a skill that had quite literally crept under her skin in Africa.

A version of this post first appeared on the OxfordWords blog.

Heading image: Zimbabwe Gonarezhou Landscape Chilojo Cliffs by Ralf Ellerich. CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The post Doris Lessing: another world of words appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Molten Heart Release Day Blitz with LL Hunter

Title: Molten Heart
Series: Molten Heart Saga Book 1
Author: L.L. Hunter
Genre: YA dystopian/ post- apocalyptic
Release Date: October 31st
Forty years after the middle- east dropped bombs on our country, we are now just starting to rebuild.
But a new danger threatens our small community.
A group of men we call The Takers, have returned to finish what they started ten years earlier.
So we leave.
My friends and I head to a safe house five days away where there is food a plenty and the hope of a fresh start.
But we never will be out of danger.
And my heart will never be safe, not around Lukas Green.
When I thought I couldn’t be broken any further, I fear Lukas will break the wall around my heart down so far, my heart won’t have a choice but to melt.
He really will be the death of me. My name is Skye Montgomery and this is my story.

L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Eden Chronicles. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author. She has been writing since her teens – everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.”
Stalk links:

Pre-order now:

Come join me this Halloween for some fun, thrills and games to celebrate Molten Heart’s release — https://www.facebook.com/events/581085395346979/?ref_dashboard_filter=hosting
And Vote for Lukas in the Best Book Boyfriend competition here — https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10204640165623958&set=gm.1454286591520820&type=1&theater

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6. Forbidden by Kimberly Griffiths Little Preorder Giveaway

On November 4th, HarperCollins unveils Forbidden, a seductive YA debut from award-winning middle grade author Kimberley Griffiths Little. Forbidden transports readers back in time to the deadly deserts and sweltering heat of Ancient Mesopotamia for a tale of danger, duty, and forbidden love. Jayden is on the brink of womanhood and betrothed to her tribe’s prince, cold-hearted Horeb. But when tragedy strikes, Jayden meets Kadesh, a mysterious visitor from the south who makes Jayden doubt everything she knows. Torn between loyalty to her tribe and the chance to escape her fate, Jayden must make a choice that will change her life forever.

Kimberley is also offering a HUGE preorder giveaway from October 6th to November 4th (release day!) to celebrate. See below for full details on how to enter.


  • You must preorder Forbidden through an online retailer or your local bookstore, then email a photo of your receipt to forbiddengiveaway@gmail.com.
  • Fill out the rafflecopter below
  • US/Canada Only
  • Ends at midnight EST on November 3, 2014
  • Optional entries: share the trailer on your own site or social media, follow Kimberley on twitter, and tweet about the giveaway (can be repeated daily for extra entries!)
  • Winners will be announced and contacted November 4th (release day!)
  • If the winner does not respond with their mailing address within one week, a new winner will be chosen.



    1. NEWLY RELEASED Kindle Fire HD6 Tablet with 6" HD Display, Wi-Fi, Front and Rear Cameras, 8 GB -- choose your color! (Black, Magenta, White, Citron, or Cobalt)

    2. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson

    3. CHAOS OF STARS by Kiersten White

    4. Satin Belly Dance Skirt

    5. Belly Dance 150-Coin Hip Scarf

    6. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)

    7. Red Middle Eastern Earrings

    8. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)

    9. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)

    10. Set of 10 Book Club Cards

    11. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)


    1. GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson

    2. Red Middle Eastern Earrings

    3. Red Silk Veil (not pictured)

    4. Belly dance DVD: Sensual Belly Dance with Blanca, a professional dancer (technique, choreography, and performances)

    5. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)

    6. Set of 10 Book Club Cards

    7. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)


    1. Red Middle Eastern Earrings

    2. "Will YOU risk it all?" button (not pictured)

    3. Set of 10 Book Club Cards

    4. Jeweled bookmark (not pictured)

    Good luck!

    Preorder: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

    About Forbidden: In the unforgiving Mesopotamian desert where Jayden’s tribe lives, betrothal celebrations abound, and tonight it is Jayden’s turn to be honored. But while this union with Horeb, the son of her tribe’s leader, will bring a life of riches and restore her family’s position within the tribe, it will come at the price of Jayden’s heart.

    Then a shadowy boy from the Southern Lands appears. Handsome and mysterious, Kadesh fills Jayden’s heart with a passion she never knew possible. But with Horeb’s increasingly violent threats haunting Jayden’s every move, she knows she must find a way to escape—or die trying.

    With a forbidden romance blossoming in her heart and her family’s survival on the line, Jayden must embark on a deadly journey to save the ones she loves—and find a true love for herself.

    Set against the brilliant backdrop of the sprawling desert, the story of Jayden and Kadesh will leave readers absolutely breathless as they defy the odds and risk it all to be together.

    Follow Kimberley:

    About Kimberley: Award-winning author Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico on the banks of the Rio Grande with her husband and their three sons. Her middle-grade novels, When the Butterflies Came, The Last Snake Runner, The Healing Spell, and Circle of Secrets, have been praised as “fast-paced and dramatic,” with “beautifully realized settings.” Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell. She’s stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria. You can visit her online at www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com.

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    7. Using Assessment Tools to Teach Transference

    Valuable lessons can be learned when an assessment tool designed for one genre is used to assess another.

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    8. I Choose Sunshine and Laughter

    As we head into winter I thought it would be good to have a reminder of sunny days and summery good times to keep us warm when the cold finally hits. As I write this the weather is extraordinarily mild (for the UK!), the sun is shining away brightly, I'm not as yet huddled in front of the fire, and am enjoying every moment of light and clarity ... while it lasts. Here's a little print I've made to lift the spirits during the greyer months ahead, or just to provide an extra glow if you're lucky enough to live where it's warm all year long.




    I re-coloured my Painted Flowers pattern for this, and cleaned it up further. Seemed perfect for this month, wouldn't you agree?

    As always, it's available as a free printable (along with the past 10 monthly designs for 2014) for all subscribers of the Floating Lemons monthly newsletter. If you'd like to sign up, just click here.

    Wishing you good humour for the week ahead. Cheers.


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    9. C.C. Hunter, author of ETERNAL, on becoming a sponge . . .

    What is your favorite thing about ETERNAL?

    My favorite thing about Eternal are the secrets that Della is unearthing and exposing. I think that every family usually has a secret they attempt to keep hidden. And Della’s family secret is a doozy. It has the potential to break her heart. Especially when she discovers that by uncovering the family secrets she could destroy someone she loves.

    How long did you work on the book?

    Eternal took me about four months to write. That’s a little longer than usual, but I think it was because it has so many twists and turns. There are so many different little subplots in this book: the romance, Della’s family issues, Della’s relationship with Kylie, Miranda and the other Shadow Falls campers, and the ghost who is making her life hell.

    What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

    By rituals, do you mean like baseball players wearing the same dirty socks . . . thinking it will help their game? Well, for sure, I change my socks. I’d never get any foot massages if I didn’t. No big writing rituals here; most days it’s climb out of bed, grab coffee, lots of coffee, answer emails while I wake up (which explains some of my emails) and write. I work too many hours, about eight to twelve a day, but I love my job, so I seldom complain.

    Music? I can’t listen to music with lyrics because I stop and think about those words and not the words I’m imagining in my head.

    As for the place where I write . . . I’m one of those writers who can’t seem to produce much away from my office. I have writing friends who meet at Starbucks to write. If I’m at Starbucks, I’m too busy people-watching and eavesdropping on other patron’s conversations. Where else am I going to get my dialogue?

    What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

    I have two pieces of advice for new writers. First, remain positive and focused on your goal. What works for me is to do something each and every day to achieve that goal. It can be a little thing, such as researching something you need to know before you write a scene, or it can be something bigger, such as writing X number of pages. One thing I really believe in, is that keeping a positive outlook is vital to building a career as a writer. Surround yourself with people who share your positive outlook, and try to limit your contact with those who spread negativity.

    My second piece of advice goes along with my first, and that is to work hard to become a better writer every day. Take a writing class or workshop or read a how-to book. Expand your horizons and read widely. Become a sponge and soak up as much about the writing craft as you can.

    What are you working on now?

    Right now, I’m plotting a new novella. Guess who? Not Kylie or Della, but Miranda. I think Miranda has been jealous because I’ve written two novellas for Della, and even one for Chase, but she’s finally getting her moment in the limelight. And let’s just say, it’s going to be exciting. She’s gonna discover some family secrets and Perry, her shapeshifter boyfriend, is going to get some stiff competition.


    by C.C. Hunter
    St. Martin's Griffin; Library Unabridged, Hardcover Edition edition
    Released 10/28/2014

    All her life, Della's secret powers have made her feel separated from her human family. Now, she's where she belongs, at Shadow Falls. With the help of her best friends Kylie and Miranda, she’ll try to prove herself in the paranormal world as an investigator—all the while trying to figure out her own heart. Should she chose Chase, a powerful vampire with whom she shares a special bond? Or Steve, the hot shapeshifter whose kisses make her weak in the knees? When a person with dark connection to her past shows up, it’ll help her decide which guy to choose–and make her question everything she knows about herself.

    From bestselling author C.C. Hunter comes Eternal—a must-read for fans of the Shadow Falls series—and the sequel to Reborn.

    Purchase Eternal at Amazon
    Purchase Eternal at IndieBound
    View Eternal on Goodreads


    C.C. Hunter grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she's still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is so not a frog. When she's not writing, she's reading, spending time with her family, or is shooting things-with a camera, not a gun.

    C.C. Hunter is a pseudonym. Her real name is Christie Craig and she also writes humorous romantic suspense romance novels for Grand Central. www.christie-craig.com

    C.C. would love to hear from you. Because of deadlines, it may take her a day or so to get back with you, but she will reply.  cc@cchunterbooks.com

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    10. November is Picture Book Month! (and PiBoIdMo, NaNoWriMo)

    November is Picture Book Month! Each day, you can find an inspirational essay by a children's book writer or illustrator about the importance of picture books. ALSO, teachers and librarians can find curriculum connections compiled by educational consultant and children's book author, Marcie Colleen (Marcie did the Teacher's Guides for I'M BORED and NAKED!).

    Anyway, the first essay is by Aaron Becker, and you can read it here.


    If you're a picture book writer, I also advise you to check out Tara Lazar's Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdmo), in which participants are challenged to come up with 30 picture book ideas in a month.

    And of course, November is also National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where the challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.

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    11. Mary Amato, author of GET HAPPY, finds plot solutions on power walks

    What is your favorite thing about GET HAPPY?

    I love the friendship that Minerva has with Fin. Even though she makes the mistake of letting her own problems distract her from being the best friend she could be, their history and their love is an absolute rock. Everybody should have at least one friend to count on.

    As I was writing, every time Fin appeared in a scene, the room seemed to brighten. I hope that readers feel that as they’re reading. The process of creating characters and living with them for as long as it takes to write a book is an interesting one. I get attached to my favorite characters; and when the novel is done, I miss them.

    Many writers will say that their characters feel “real” to them. I have that experience. I know that a character is imagined, but it also seems as if the character lives outside of my imagination.

    What is your writing ritual like? Do you have one?

    My writing day begins with meditation followed by a cup of tea and breakfast. Then go to my writing studio and open up all the shades and pour a few drops of eucalyptus oil into a little marble dish. I often enjoy working to music, and I have great speakers (if you can help it, never listen to music on computer speakers). I like using Pandora because it introduces me to new artists based on previous artists that I have liked. I write until lunchtime.

    Before eating lunch, I grab my writer’s notebook and head out for a power walk. I walk the same path so that I don’t have to make any decisions about where to turn. This helps me to focus on my story. I just think through my story or a particular scene in my mind as I walk. During the time it takes to get from my house to the creek, I often come up with a plot solution or have an insight about a character. I stop and write down my thoughts. I never, ever trust myself to remember.

    Typically, after my walk, I make my lunch and take it to my desk. I eat at my desk while I’m getting back into the writing. If I’m in a flow, I write until 4 or so. I do an afternoon meditation which sometimes morphs into a short nap. Often I get another insight or idea after this. I write until 5 or 6.If I get writer’s block, I take my notebook to the library or a coffee shop, just to get away. In those instances, I often work well in busy places. Somehow it takes the pressure off of me. I can’t quite explain it, but getting away from the desk can be helpful. I also break my routine to do skypes, school visits, or if I have appointments; but generally, I’m writing every day. The great part about this is that I love to write. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It just means it’s rewarding.


    Get Happy
    by Mary Amato
    Released 10/28/2014

    In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

    A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises.

    Purchase Get Happy at Amazon
    Purchase Get Happy at IndieBound
    View Get Happy on Goodreads


    Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s book author, poet, playwright, and songwriter. Her books have been translated into foreign languages, optioned for television, produced onstage, and have won the children’s choice awards in several states.

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    12. November First Five Pages Workshop Opens Today at Noon!

    The First Five Pages November Workshop opens today at noon, EST. So get ready to send those pages! We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements.  Click here to get the rules. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have the talented J.R. Johansson, author of INSOMNIA, PARANOIA, and the forthcoming novels MANIA and CUT ME FREE, as our guest mentor, and editor Pam Glauber will be our guest editor!

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    13. Tigers Climbing the Bookshelves: Another Mural!

    Regular readers will remember all the excitement around creating the mural in Wakefield's new Central Library. It was a bit of a monster, so the job took a lot of getting my head round, especially as I had never done anything like it before.

    But it was all worth it. Anyway, the brilliant news is that the feedback has been FANTASTIC. Everyone loves it. And one thing leads to another...

    Turns out, there's another new children's area at Castleford Library and that needs a mural too! So, when I went to Castleford last week, to do the window-decoration workshop in the museum, I squeezed a meeting into my lunch break. It's the same local authority as Wakefield Library, so the people who commissioned me last time came down to chat about ideas and to show me the new space.

    It's a very different kind of space this time. Instead of one long wall, it an entire room: the space above the bookcases all the way round. I took lots of photos of the walls and roughly joined them together, as you can see. It's not a huge room, but it's a complicated shape.

    We batted about some themes. It turns out the local rugby team are The Castleford Tigers, so I am thinking 'Jungle Library', with tigers jumping on the bookshelves, books getting eaten and other kinds of exotic mayhem. 

    I am waiting for all the measurements to come through, then I have to try and work out how long it's going to take, to get some idea of what it will cost them. That's the worst bit!

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    14. My tweets

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    15. Guest Post and Giveaway: Shelley Coriell, Author of The Buried

    Shelley Coriell dropped by the virtual offices to share a top 5 about her hero Hatch.  Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Buried!

    Top 5 Things Hatch Won’t Leave Home Without by Shelley Coriell

    This is a tough one because FBI Agent Hatch Hatcher, a sweet-talking southern charmer, is a travel-light kind of guy. But if I really stretch it, he’d always have:

    1. Grace

    2. No Regrets, his 36-foot sailboat

    3. A wine opener

    4. A smile

    5. The wind in his hair 

    THE BURIED by Shelley Coriell (October 28, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $8.00)

    “It’s cold. And dark. I can’t breathe.”

    Successful, ambitious state prosecutor Grace Courtemanche is at the top of her game. Then she gets a chilling call from a young woman claiming to be buried alive. Desperate to find the victim before it’s too late, Grace will do whatever it takes . . . even if it means excavating the darkest secrets of her own past and turning to the one man she thought she would never see again.
    FBI agent Theodore “Hatch” Hatcher is a man without roots-and that’s the way he likes it. But when a grisly crime shatters Cyprus Bend, Florida, Hatch is dragged back to the small town-and the one woman-he hoped was in his rearview for good. Forced to confront  the wreckage of their love affair, Hatch and Grace may just find that sometimes the deepest wounds leave the most beautiful scars-and that history repeating itself may just be what they need to stop a killer . . . and save their own hearts.

    Buy Links:







    About the author:

    A former newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and restaurant reviewer. These days Shelley writes smart, funny novels for teens and big, edgy romantic suspense. A six-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Finalist, she lives and loves in Arizona with her family and the world’s neediest rescue Weimaraner. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her baking high-calorie, high-fat desserts and haunting local farmers markets for the perfect plum.

    Social Media Links:






    Hatch slid a hand along her spine, the column tightening and tingling. His fingers stopped at the base of her neck where he pressed softly.

    “What are you doing?” Grace asked.

    “Looking for the off switch,” Hatch said. “I’m tired of hearing that same old song.”

    She probably did sound like a broken record. Even as a kid she’d been fiercely independent. Much to her mother’s horror, she began taking the family skiff out on her own at age nine. She’d tried doubles tennis, but excelled in singles, winning the state champion her senior year of high school. And after her divorce from Hatch, she’d thrown herself into her work, handling most of the casework on her own because at that time in her life, she wanted to be so busy she wouldn’t have time to think about how much her heart ached.

    Hatch rubbed his knuckles across the top of Blue’s head. The old dog had been waiting on the top step for her. “Since your watchdog has a weakness for bacon, I want to poke around, make sure no bogeymen are hiding under your bed.”

    Arguing with him would only prolong the moment, so she opened the door. A wave of hot air that reeked of musty wood and wet dog rolled over them. Wrinkling her nose, she threw open the windows and cracked the back door, hoping not too many bugs would sneak in. Or bad guys with pre-paid phones and blood red markers. She peered into the darkness stretching beyond her back porch but saw nothing.

    In full FBI mode, Hatch searched the living room and kitchen area, and she could hear him checking her bedroom and bathroom. “No bogeymen,” he announced as he sauntered into the kitchen.

    “Thank you, I was worried.” She dug through a drawer and took out a vanilla-scented candle, lit it, and placed it in the middle of her kitchen table.

    “Planning a candlelit dinner with yours truly?”

    “Planning to get rid of the Eau de Blue.”

    Hatch sniffed and grimaced. “You might be better off getting a hotel room for a few days. I’m sure you can find a place that’ll take both you and your dog.”

    “He’s not my dog.” Grace yanked the lid off an airtight container and dug out a giant scoop of dog chow. Hatch didn’t need to know she’d almost zeroed out her checking account to pay the next installment to her general contractor. “A breeze is picking up. It’ll be fine in a few minutes.”

    She added warm water to the chow and sprinkled cooked bacon on top. The dog padded across the room to the bowl but raised his head and looked at her with big, droopy eyes.

    “You are not getting two slices of bacon.”

    With a chuckle, Hatch opened the refrigerator and poked around a half dozen cartons of takeout. “You do realize you talk to that dog all the time,” he said.

    “I do not.”

    He lifted his eyebrows, and she ducked under his arm, grabbing a carton of grilled grouper and hushpuppies. “I appreciate everything you’ve done, Hatch, really I do, but you can go now.”

    Hatch handed her a bottle of her favorite hot sauce and grabbed a takeout box for himself. “Now, Counselor Courtemanche, you’re a lot smarter than that.” He set the carton on the table and dug into the drawer near her sink, which irritated her, that he knew where she kept her silverware. “I’m not going to leave you in this house alone with all the doors and windows open.”

    Breathe in, two, three. Breathe out, two, three. “I don’t have an extra bed.”

    “We can share.”

    She shoved her takeout box in the microwave and jabbed the reheat button.

    “Fine, Grace, I’ll crash there.” He aimed a bottle of tartar sauce at the small settee in the front room.

    She pictured those long, golden limbs spilled across the tiny sofa. Hatch had a way of taking up space, in any room, and in her head. Today he’d been everywhere as they worked the case. Impressive. And effective. But that didn’t mean she needed him on her settee. “You’re too big for that thing. You’ll wake up with a backache.”

    “Nice to know you still care.”

    “I don’t c…” But she couldn’t finish. Less than an hour ago, they’d sat under a good-bye sun, and he’d run his magic fingers along her neck, chasing away hell. Hatch was one of the good guys. He was on her side, Lia’s side, and at one point in her life, he’d been her world. At some level, she’d always care about him.

     a Rafflecopter giveaway

    The post Guest Post and Giveaway: Shelley Coriell, Author of The Buried appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    16. Winning Halloween comic caption: Megan Maynor

    Congrats to my Halloween comic caption winner, Megan Maynor. Megan's first picture book, ELLA AND PENGUIN STICK TOGETHER, comes out from HarperCollins in 2016. You can see Megan signing her contract in her "Wait, It Took HOW Long To Sell A Book?" post on Word Disco.

    Here's Megan's winning caption:


    "Trick or tweet!" - Alecia Miller, on Twitter

    "AND she doesn't even broompool." - Kevin Sylvester, on FB

    "She spends far too much time on her newfangled iOfNewt." - Greg Pincus, on FB

    "Young witches these days. Always flying and hex-ting..." - Arlene Graziano, on Twitter

    "Does GPS even work up here?" - Joey Shoji, on FB

    "The last witch that texted while flying, got hit by Dorothy's house." - Devin Melanson, on FB

    You can see other caption entries on Twitter and on Facebook.

    Megan wins my most recent #inktober doodle:


    Last #inktober doodle, which is also a prize in my Halloween caption challenge (see my @inkyelbows Twitter acct).

    A photo posted by Debbie Ridpath Ohi (@inkygirl) on Oct 10, 2014 at 11:32am PDT

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    17. Of wing dams, tyrannous bureaucrats, and the rule of law

    I vacation in a small town on a lovely bay in the northwestern corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula. This summer my stay coincided with the run-up to the state’s primary elections. One evening, just down the street from where I was staying, the local historical society hosted a candidates’ forum. Most of the incumbents and challengers spoke pragmatically of specific matters of local concern, of personal traits that would make them good officeholders, or of family traditions of public service they hoped to continue. Some promised to be allies in disputes with the state government in Lansing. One incumbent claimed to have persuaded the state department of environmental quality to drop its longstanding objections to a wing dam that would spare a marina costly dredging. But just when I was ready to conclude that the Tea Party movement had run its course, another candidate, who identified himself as a lawyer and an expert in constitutional history, used his time to develop the claim that bureaucracy was unAmerican and that as it grew so did liberty diminish. I may have seen fewer approving nods than followed the other candidate’s tale of the wing dam, but most in the audience appeared to agree with him.

    Several historians have already engaged the popular antistatism I encountered that evening. Some have argued, as Progressives did in the early twentieth century, that, after the rise of vast and powerful corporations, public bureaucracies were needed to make freedom something other than the right to be subjected to the dominion of the economically powerful. Others have taken aim at the claim that bureaucracy was incompatible with America’s founding principles. The University of Michigan’s William Novak blasted this as “the myth of ‘weak’ American state.” Yale University’s Jerry Mashaw has recovered a lost century of American administrative law before the creation of the first independent federal regulatory commission in 1887.

    Elk rapids at sunset. Photo by
    Elk Rapids at sunset. Photo by Joy S. Ernst. Used with permission.

    What such accounts miss is a long tradition of antistatism and its shaping effect on American statebuilding. Alexis de Tocqueville was an early and influential expositor. Although Americans had centralized government, Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America that it lacked centralized administration. And that, he argued, was a very good thing: if citizens of a democratic republic like the United States ever became habituated to centralized administration, “a more insufferable despotism would prevail than any which now exists in the monarchical states of Europe.” The builders of the administrative state were not heedless of Tocqueville’s nightmare, but they were convinced that their political system was broken and had to be fixed. They believed they lived not in some Eden of individual liberty but in a fallen polity in which businessmen and political bosses bargained together while great social ills went unredressed.

    The most important of the statebuilders was no wild-eyed reformer but an austere, moralistic corporation lawyer, Charles Evans Hughes, who, as Chief Justice of the United States, would later out-duel President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Neither Hughes nor anyone else thought that government would control itself. Instead, he and other judges reworked the ancient ideal of the rule of law to keep a necessary but potentially abusive government in check.

    Tales of thoughtful people working out intelligent solutions to difficult problems are not, I know, everyone’s idea of a good read. I bet that candidate who imagined himself battling for liberty and against bureaucracy prefers more dramatic fare. Still, I think the story of how Americans reconciled bureaucracy and the rule of law might appeal to residents of that small Michigan town, once they remember that the same department of environmental quality that sometimes balks at wing dams also preserves the water, land, and air on which their economy and way of life depend.

    Featured image credit: ‘Alexis de Tocqueville’ by Théodore Chassériau, painted in 1850. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

    The post Of wing dams, tyrannous bureaucrats, and the rule of law appeared first on OUPblog.

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    18. Self portrait wtih feather

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    19. Would You Like You Like a Look into the Every Day Lives of Lakota Indians?

    Horse Raid: The Making of a Warrior by Paul Goble shared great insight into the every day lives of Lakota Indians.

    This book is not only beautiful to look at but is well researched, giving a lot of information on a topic I had no knowledge. Giving us a front row seat of a horse raid from the view point of the main character Lone Bull, we learn of his first horse raid when he was fourteen years old. Horse Raiding was a time honored tradition and a right of passage for every young boy. Lone Bull’s father was the chief of the Lakota tribe. Calling on 9 other great hunters, the chief holds a meeting in their teepee to make plans to raid the crow horses. This is where Lone Bull hears of the horse raid plan and then comes up with one of his own to join his father and the other brave men. Lone Bull and his friend decided that they would follow the men quietly. When it was too late to send them home, they would unveil themselves and join the horse raiding party. Lone Bull’s grandfather knew about the plan and prepared the supplies and horses for the soon to be horse raiders.


    More than this I cannot tell you. You’ll have to read it for yourself. Told with vivid words and exciting moments of the raid , Paul Goble brings to life the story of Lone Bull through his magnificent painting and his ledger book style. Lovely browns, blacks, blues, and reds. walk us through the plains of a pre-reservation life where horse raiding was a chance for men to show their courage and bravery in battle.  No one can become brave by sitting at home. As Lone Bull’s grandfather reminds us , ” No man can help another to be brave, but through brave deeds you many become a leader one day. ”

    Hosre Raid

    This newly revised edition features digitally enhanced artwork for vivid colors, a completely revised text, a brand new layout which makes for incredible story telling, and an interesting foreword from one of the world’s more famous storytellers Joseph Bruchac.

    Horse Raid

    This book lends itself nicely to a look at the buffalo days and life on the plains. Beautifully written.

    This book was given for review by the publisher Wisdom Tales Press.

    Something to Do

    A Song for the Horse Nation

    This site shares the history and relationship between the Native American people and the horse. On this site they have a couple of examples of “horse charms” used in actual horse raids.

    Horse charms

    Draw a Horse Raid

    Story teller and artist Paul Goble uses a style of art known as ledger book art. During the 1800′s Native American’s used what they could find. Oftentimes the paper they would find to draw on would be found in ledger books. Here’s a couple of ideas to get you started. Also be sure to use some examples from Paul Goble’s book Horse Raid as well.



    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
    (The Ultimate Guide)


    Do you remember the first time you read Charlie and
    The Chocolate Factory as a child?


    Do you recall the thrill of discovering that magical gateway into Willy Wonka’s world inside the pages of a book?

    A world with geese that laid golden eggs, squirrels that could sort nuts, and colorful little people called Oompa Loompas? Would you like to re-live that experience with one of the greatest children’s books of all time like never before?

    Then come along on a magical adventure into The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
    Chapter by chapter we explore all of the wonders of Willy Wonka’s World and give you all the tools you need to play along!

    Want to know more and get your copy?


    The post Would You Like You Like a Look into the Every Day Lives of Lakota Indians? appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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    20. looking back at the photographs (for a new project)

    For a new project due out next fall, I just reviewed some 25,000 digital photographs taken over the last fifteen years.

    I skipped the gym.

    Tomorrow, in the company of John and Andra Bell (and my husband), I will watch slender young things dance their hearts out in Bethlehem, as part of the "So You Think You Can Dance" tour.

    I will wish, watching them, that I'd gone to the gym.

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    21. Character Skills and Talents: Heightened Empathy

    As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

    When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 


    Description: the ability to place oneself deeply within another person’s experience to see their view of the world and better identify with their emotions, concerns, goals and life struggles. NOTE: this entry does not cover Empaths, which is a talent that goes beyond learned empathy.

    Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: control over one’s emotions and being able to reject any personal bias that might get in the way of seeing life from another person’s view, perceptiveness and knowing what questions to ask, strong listening and communication skills, openness to new experiences and ideas, being comfortable enough to open up and share in kind

    Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: curious, kind, understanding, objective, honest, calm, encouraging, fair, diplomatic, selfless, imaginative, compassionate, non-judgmental

    Required Resources and Training: to hone one’s empathy, a character must open themselves to other people, their thoughts, perceptions and experiences, and be able to view these as having as much value as their own personal ones. Listening–really listening–means not rushing in with advice or expressing sympathy or pity. Empathy is acknowledging another person’s emotion as being valid, and seating oneself in their viewpoint to better experience their perspective.

    Learning to be open-minded, and set aside one’s own experiences and interactions that can lead to unintentional bias can be difficult to achieve, but necessary to achieve true empathy. Training oneself to watch for physical cues and body language will help the character see if supportive questions might encourage a deeper sharing of emotions and experience, or if quiet listening is better in the situation. Being aware of body language and what it communicates will also allow the character to use their own to reinforce the message that they are open and engaged, and listening without judgement. Trying new experiences, identifying and then facing different personal challenges, and looking for deeper meaning in the world around will help the character open themselves to “trying on” different perspectives, making it easier to set aside their own feelings to better feel another’s.

    Associated Stereotypes and Perceptions:

    • The misconception that people with empathy are bleeding hearts who can’t make hard choices
    • People who show empathy build trust quickly
    • Empathy creates balanced leadership
    • People who feel strong empathy may also feel strong guilt if they are unable to bring about a needed change

    Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful: in friendship and relationships, in careers that focus on social sciences, mental health and well-being, human advocacy groups, politics and leadership, communication and diplomacy, any job that requires strong interpersonal skills, people in an advisory role to those in power (using empathy skills to convey the need for change, reinforce balance and promote open communication)

    Resources for Further Information:

    Six Habits of Highly Empathetic People

    Five Ways To Grow Your Empathy

    You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.


    Image: PublicDomainPictures @ Pixabay

    The post Character Skills and Talents: Heightened Empathy appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS.

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    22. It's an info sharing day today

    Quote of the day:  

    "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart."
                                                  - Helen Keller

    I am thinking of opening up a new space on Storywraps once or perhaps twice a month for adult books.  Adults are for your information, just grown-up kids, and I know they are very passionate about good books too.  Please stay tuned as I unfold and launch this special place on a Saturday for your enjoyment.  Every adult on the planet is invited and it will be a fun place to land for sure.  If you could help me get the word out to family and friends I would so appreciate it.  Here is a taste of what's in store for you today.....

    The book pitch:

    Title:  Tunnel Visions
    Author:  Kurt Kamm

    According to Amazon:

    Tunnel Visions is a work of faction a blend of fact and fiction. It weaves together the historical details of an actual water tunnel disaster in Los Angeles, the current struggle for control over California's diminishing water supply, and a fictional plot to attack the Los Angeles water system. Digging 5 miles inside a Los Angeles MWD water tunnel in 1971, Willie Carter was one of the 17 men killed by a methane explosion in what became known as the Sylmar Tunnel disaster. Nick Carter, Willie Carter's son, is a firefighter trained in urban search and rescue (USAR) operations. His fiancée, Cindi, is an ATF Special Agent. On a Sunday in 2014, they are swept up in a massive Homeland Security response to a terror alert in Los Angeles. At the end of Tunnel Visions, when Nick makes a desperate entry into the gas-filled Sylmar Tunnel in an attempt to save Cindi and prevent a disaster, his past and present are brought together in a shocking way.

    Author Profile on Kurt Kamm

     First responders and the hazards they face and deter are at the heart of the fact-based mystery
    novels of Malibu, California author, Kurt Kamm.

    A graduate of Brown University swordfisand Columbia Law School, Kurt had a successful career as a financial executive and CEO before immersing himself in the world of the first responders who feature so prominently in his books.  After attending the El Camino Fire Academy and training in wildland firefighting, arson investigation, and hazardous materials response, Kurt also became a graduate of the ATF Citizen’s Academy and has ridden along with the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s famed Urban Search & Rescue Task Force.  Along with this, Kurt has has used his contacts with CalFire, Los Angeles and Ventura County Fire Departments, and the ATF to enhance the research which vests his novels with a realism that puts his readers on the ground with his characters.

    1. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer, and when did you actually begin to write?
    I have always enjoyed writing and won a short story prize in high school. When I was at Brown, I took a career guidance test and was advised to become a writer. Even in those young, naive days, I knew I couldn’t earn enough money as a writer and decided to go to law school and on to Wall Street. I look at writing as a final reward for working hard at other things for most of my life

    1. What in your background prepared you to be a writer?
    Every lawyer has to learn how to write, if not in the most interesting way. Right brain-left brain. I was never very good at math, but I was a terrific reader and had a good imagination. My business partner couldn’t write two sentences but was brilliant at numbers. We made a great pair.

    1. It is said that the key to becoming a writer is to sit in a chair and write.  What made you finally sit down and write?
    I retired, was recently divorced, and moved out to Malibu. One day I woke up and had NOTHING to do. A friend from the LA Times convinced me to start writing classes. We were encouraged to keep a journal, and write something, anything, every day. That’s how I got started. I really enjoyed it and thought, this is something I can do. 

    1. You write faction – fiction based on fact.  How much research goes into your novels?
    A lot of research. I just read about an author who wrote an entire series of novels about India without ever having even been there. That’s inconceivable to me. I have to be out in the field, smelling, touching, checking out the colors and textures and, most important, listening to the people around me. I have spent hundreds of hours with the men from LA County Fire Department in training situations and at actual incidents. I’ve never had so much fun in my life and have opened a window into a part of life that was unknown to me when I worked in the financial world. I use those experiences as the backgrounds for my novels. I could never dream that stuff up.

    1. Do you do your research yourself, or do you have an assistant do it?
    I do all the research myself. I’m not sharing the fun with anyone!

    1. With the attention you give to detail, you know a tremendous amount about your topics. Why faction?  Why not non-fiction?
    Non-fiction is boring. I want to create factual backgrounds and then insert unique characters: identical twins who are terrorists, albinos obsessed with tattoos and rare blood, and weather broadcasters fixated on fires.

    1. In Tunnel Visions you bring attention to the realities we are facing with water in California?  What made this topic of interest to you?
    The idea for Tunnel Visions came from an actual event, a disastrous gas explosion in a water tunnel which killed 17 men. Once I adopted that as the background for the novel, the whole issue of California’s water shortage became part of the story.

    1. Is this reversible?  How?
    It’s hard to reverse a water shortage unless you are God. Conservation will help. The rain/drought cycles may be decades long. The western United States had a 50 year wet cycle up to end of the 20th Century, so everyone adjusted their expectations and water usage upward. Now we’re in a drought cycle and it’s hard to know how long it will last.

    1. For you, what drives a novel – plot or character?
    Character drives the novel.  I love to imagine people who are slightly, or significantly, off center. Isn’t everyone a little weird?  The personality issues create the plot.

    1. You are, shall we say, seasoned.  Yet you capture the voice and pathos of a young protagonist easily.  How easy or difficult is this for you?
    I refuse to admit my age. Who wants to read something written by an old guy about an old character who’s been there and done that? I like to write about young characters who are intrepid and enthusiastic but don’t have enough life-experience to avoid making mistakes. Actually, it’s easy to create these young characters, and I love ‘em all! Now excuse me, I have to take my mid-morning nap.

    1. Your female character in Tunnel Vision is particularly strong. Did you make her this way on purpose?  Did you model her on anyone in particular?
    I do know a woman who is a special agent for the ATF, and she gave me some insight into her life in law enforcement. She is attractive, feminine, and tough as nails. I almost fell off my chair when she told me that she worked undercover for two years in an outlaw motorcycle gang in Wichita. (“Winter on a bike sucks.”)  I like including strong female characters - I guess it brings out my feminine side.

    1. What do you hope readers take away from your books?
    First, I hope they simply enjoy the experience of reading my novels and find my characters interesting, lovable, or reprehensible. I would also hope they get some insight into the skill and dedication of the first responders who make everyone else’s life safer and easier.

    1. What is the best advice you ever received as a writer?
    How about the worst advice? The worst advice was, “Write what you know.” If you do that, you might not ever write anything interesting. Get away from your computer. Get yourself into something you know nothing about, and learn something new. Then go back and write about that.

    1. What is your best advice for aspiring authors?
    When I was a master’s bicycle racer, I spent hours, training by myself and trashing my body. Then, on race days, I got up at 4 AM, drove two hours to a 7 AM race start, busted my gut for 2 hours, and sometimes ended up on the podium. And guess what? Almost no one was around and almost no one cared. Sometimes I asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” The answer was, because I loved it. The same applies to writing. You may spend hours working hard to create something no one notices or cares about, so you had better enjoy the process, because that may be all the reward you get. There are no guarantees. That said, if you do love what you are doing, don’t ever give up. 

    Kurt Kamm is an award-winning novelist of fact-based fiction.  His latest thriller, Tunnel Visions, is on shelves now.  You can read more from Kurt on Huffington Post or Facebook.  To read interviews conducted by Kurt with some of your favorite best-selling authors, visit www.KurtKamm.com

    This will be a fun, interesting and inspiring place to land Mr. and Mr. Grown-up.  Bring a drink of your choice and browse the books I feature and please enjoy your book experience.  Happy reading everyone..

    Whether you are big or small,
    Storywraps will have it all!

    (yes, yes I know that's bad but hey, it was from the heart)

    Read on and read always.

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    23. Martina Boone, Author of COMPULSION, on Perseverance and a Long Road to Pub

    What’s your favorite thing about Compulsion?
    It was so much fun to get to do a Gothic novel! I’ve loved seeing Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and The Lynburn Legacy bringing Gothics to a whole new batch of readers in a fresh way. Adding the Gothic elements to a Southern setting similar to Beautiful Creatures gave me such rich material to work with in COMPULSION. I've always adored books with exotically dangerous mansions, eccentric characters, and elements of magic, mystery, and suspense. The world of Watson Island, with its equally charming and ugly history, beautiful scenery, and unique mythology is a storyteller's dream. It has all the elements I love—a haunted past, regret, anger, continuing conflict, and questions of morality galore.

    My favorite thing about COMPULSION, hands down, is the setting and how it shaped (and twisted) the characters and families who live there, including my main character, Barrie, who arrives not knowing that history. The island, and especially the Watson’s Landing plantation, became an integral character in the book.

    What was your inspiration for writing this book?
    Some of the characters, setting, and history came from work I did for a short story anthology. I couldn’t let go of the ideas and my image of the plantation. Then one night I dreamed about a ball of fire drifting through the woods and setting a river aflame, which became the anchoring visual for the book. The rest all came from asking why the river was on fire and who was doing it.

    Creating the mythology and history of Watson’s Landing, along with the family intrigue that resulted in the feud, the gifts, and the curse, was an absolute blast. There’s such a wealth of inspiration to draw from in the Charleston area. Early settlers, pirates, Native American tribes, slaves, and other travelers all brought their own mythologies, beliefs, magical systems and superstitions to the area, and I didn’t have to create a lot from scratch. A lot of people don't realize how some of those things connected historically in unexpected ways, and I'll be exploring that a lot more in the final two books. Getting the chance to stretch and bend that wealth of material into a trilogy was so much fun! And we’re only just touching the tip of the iceberg in COMPULSION.

    What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
    There are a lot of hard scenes in the book. I tend to write scenes where there are several things going on at once, so while there is something significant going on emotionally, for example, there may be a significant clue to the mystery going on in the background or vice versa. Every scene with Mark in it was hard on me emotionally. And the first kitchen scene with Pru and the attic scene were so hard to write that I kept going back to them. The one I probably rewrote the most was the first scene in the garden with Barrie and Eight, and the scene that I love the best is the nighttime beach scene with Barrie and Eight. But honestly? I love so many different scenes. Which doesn't mean that I feel like I nailed them all, just that I love what I see in my head. If I came close to achieving that on the page, I'll be delighted.

    What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
    COMPULSION isn't exactly like anything else, I don't think. At its heart, it's a mystery, and it has a lot of the same kind of gothic elements and "real, not real" questions (to quote one of my favorite bookseller's) as Maggie Steifvater's The Raven Cycle and Sarah Rees Brennan's Lynburn Legacy trilogy, but it's Southern to the core, and there are a lot of strange characters, a lot of history, and a lot of questions of morality. It's both dark and hopeful, magical and about contemporary issues.

    How long did you work on THE LAST CHANGELING?
    Ha! This is the million-dollar question. I actually worked on the book for seven years. It’s the longest I’ve ever worked on a single novel (and I probably won’t be sharing the terrible early drafts any time soon!) but I’m really, really happy with how it turned out. This is definitely “the novel of my heart.” My labor of love. I put so much of myself into this book, and I’m so excited to share it with the world!

    What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

    Write what only you can write, and make it bigger than you thought you could.

    I write complicated stories. It's the way I think, and as I said, this is a gothic, so it's centered around a mystery--several mysteries, actually. Readers who skim are going to miss something important, so this is not really a book for readers who don't want to think about what they're reading. I had doubts about doing that, but at the same time, I wanted to give readers something rich to fall into.

    There were moments when I thought the story was just too big for me to tell, that I didn't have the writing chops to pull off making something so big seem real.

    But I think every writer gets scared by a story at some point. This story taught me to embrace the fear, to let it push me.

    Does that make me any less insecure? Hell-to-the-no. But that is also part of being a writer.  We just have to keep going and do the best we can to be true to our characters and our stories.

    What do you hope readers will take away from COMPULSION?
    That we can find our true families, even if they aren't necessarily connected to us by blood. And that we don't have to take what life gives us, we can forge our own destinies. We have to forge them--we have to do our best to live life out loud.

    How long did you work on the book?
    I began it in May of 2012 and sold it in June of 2013.

    How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
    I wrote for younger children when I first started writing, then I dipped my toe into writing an adult novel that really needed to be three separate books. Looking back, I can see SO many mistakes, but my biggest was giving up when my agent dumped me after reading the first messy draft. (Okay, there’s more to that story, but it sounds more interesting to say it that way. I’m a storyteller, right? : ))

    Anyway, fast forward through two kids, a business I started, and more years than I want to think about, and I always wondered ‘what if’ — then one day, my daughter was old enough to read YA books. She has a learning disability, so to encourage her reading, I read them with her. I fell in love with the creativity, the freedom, the freshness, and the issues and problems in YA novels. I wrote two YA novels and outlined a third before staring Compulsion. I plan to get back to two of those, and maybe someday, I’ll come back to the third. One of the three books has never seen the light of day, one received some great suggestions from a couple agents that I wanted to address, and the one I’m not sure I’ll ever return to is about a topic that has just been done too often to sell right now.

    Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
    I took a great writing workshop from Free Expressions Seminars and Literary Services, and literary agent Tracey Adams asked the class what characters from literature we loved the best. She listed them and then asked us to consider what they all had in common. You know what it was? All the characters drove the action--things didn't happen to them, things happened because they made them happen.

    Barrie does things. Right or wrong, she charts a course of action and she follows it, because that's what she believes in. Some people may not agree with her choices, but honestly, they're the only choices she could make being who she is.

    What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
    My writing ritual is pretty boring. I sit down with my laptop and I write. It doesn’t much matter where. I usually write for about twenty minutes, then take a five minute break, do some social media, get up and stretch, grab a refill on coffee or tea, then go back to the laptop. Rinse repeat for at least 8 hours a day, five or six days a week. I write very, very slowly. I edit even more slowly. I keep hoping that will speed up as I finally learn what the heck I'm doing.

    What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
    Don’t give up. I’m living proof that knowing how to string a sentence together and being dedicated will pay off. In January 2010, I finished the first manuscript of a YA novel and decided I was going to work as hard as it took to get published. If I can do it, I truly believe that with luck and determination, it can happen. Yes, it does take luck—the right manuscript to the right person at the right time. But it won’t happen if that manuscript isn’t ready, isn’t marketable, and isn’t presented professionally to the agents and editors who are looking for that kind of material.

    Apart from that, I do have one surefire secret formula for success. Want to hear it? Here it is:

    Read a lot. Live a lot. Write. A lot.

    What are you working on now?
    We’re finishing up edits on Persuasion, which is the sequel to Compulsion, and I’m plotting book three, which doesn’t have a title just yet. I'm also thinking very hard about a possible New Adult novel. : )


    by Martina Boone
    Simon Pulse
    Released 10/28/2014

    Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in this spellbinding new trilogy.

    Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

    All her life, Barrie Watson had been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

    Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

    Purchase Compulsion at Amazon
    Purchase Compulsion at IndieBound
    View Compulsion on Goodreads


    Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. Her first teacher in the U.S. made fun of her for not pronouncing the "wh" sound right, so she set out to master "all the words”—she's still working on that! In the meantime she’s writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she'd love to visit.

    If you like romance steeped in mystery, mayhem, Spanish moss, and a bit of magic, she hopes you'll look forward to meeting Barrie, Eight, Cassie, Pru, Seven and the other characters of Watson Island.

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    24. My tweets

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    25. 2014 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 1

    Wow! Is it really time for another poem-a-day challenge? Feels like we just finished up April. Well, all I’ve got to say is…bring it on! Let’s poem!

    For today’s prompt, write a game over poem. Our family spent a couple months putting together a haunted house in our garage for Halloween, and now that the holiday passed, I’ve got a bit of that game over feeling. People who play video games know about game over. And people who play other games, whether baseball, Monopoly, or poker. There’s a moment in every game at which it is game over–except maybe Minecraft, which may be why it’s so popular for so many.


    2015 Poet's Market

    2015 Poet’s Market

    Get your poetry published!

    Learn how to get your poetry published with the premiere book on publishing your poetry: the 2015 Poet’s Market, edited by the always lovable and encouraging Robert Lee Brewer.

    This essential resource includes hundreds of listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, and so much more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. Beyond that, there’s an hour-long webinar, a subscription to the poetry slice of WritersMarket.com, orginal poems, poet interviews, resources galore, and more-more-more!!!

    Click to continue.


    Here’s my attempt at a Game Over poem:

    “Game Over”

    He read the screen, hung his head, and departed
    the arcade feeling defeated and buyer’s remorse
    because those were his final quarters. But then,

    he remembered what the screen asked after
    informing him the game was over. It requested,
    “Play again?” And darn it, he thought, if I won’t

    play again. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow,
    but I’ll be back, and I’ll be better than ever. I’ll play
    until the game doesn’t end, or if it does, it will

    have to say, “You win! You win! You freaking win!”


    roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

    This is his seventh year of hosting and participating in the November PAD (Poem-A-Day) Chapbook Challenge. He can’t wait to see what everyone creates this month–not only on a day-by-day basis, but when the chapbooks start arriving in December and January. Fun, fun, fun.

    Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


    Find more poetic goodies here:

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