|ARC received at no charge to facilitate review.|
|ARC received at no charge to facilitate review.|
It's a quiet week in YA Fiction, but that doesn't mean that the books that are releasing are any less great. This week, we're giving away a copy of Nicole Castroman's BLACKHEARTS for our US readers.
Jocelyn, Martina, Lindsey, Erin, Susan, Sam, Shelly, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa
When Rosamund Hodge asked whether I’d be interested in revealing the cover for her new book Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, I did something I rarely do: I said yes immediately, sight unseen. Because: Her two previous books, Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound, have been among my favorite YA retellings Both of those covers were gorgeous, and captured the rapturous feeling of her darkly romantic fairy tales Rosamund has written so many fascinating guest posts before. I knew we’d have a treat for our readers, especially having read the synopsis, which says it was inspired by Romeo and Juliet…but with necromancers. (!!!) But oh my stars, I still wasn’t prepared for what she sent. Are you ready to set your eyes upon this vision? Are you sure? Just look at this beauty! The mood of this cover is utterly gorgeous–I love the somber colors contrasted with... Read more »
The post Bright Smoke, Cold Fire: Exclusive Cover Reveal + Giveaway appeared first on The Midnight Garden.Add a Comment
If you’ve only thought of Ben Franklin as a bespectacled white-haired colonist, flying a kite with a key attached, then you and your young reader are in for some ride.
But, I must warn you, just as the virtues espoused and exhibited by Ben included patience, you may need a bit of it as you navigate this book.
It’s lengthy and loaded with facts. But do not let its length deter you or young reader. It’s dense and compels you to delve deeper into the depths of Ben Franklin. But I can tell you that his life is presented in such a way that though it may be non-fiction, it is quite the page turner.
In his Author’s Note, Robert Byrd says to his readers:
With a figure as famous as
Franklin, there is an abundance
of information about his life. I
wasn’t going to discover any-
thing about him that wasn’t
already known, so I had to pick
and choose what I thought
was informative and visually
interesting…..I tried to present
events in Franklin’s life in the
most intriguing, yet respectful
way, and also providing excite-
ment and graphic variation with
each page turn.
Electric Ben is packed with information on Franklin’s hunger for knowledge, and one can feel the excitement as the book delineates and describes the amazing number of hats this man wore in his rich and varied life.
Do not underestimate the worth of the word “packed”, in Robert Byrd’s extraordinary picture book feat in Electric Ben. The art alone is worth the purchase of this picture book.
But, if you have the patience to plumb its depths with your young reader, both of you will come away in awe of this man among men. Are any of his like still around? I wonder.
Robert Byrd has managed to hone from dry historical facts, a Ben Franklin from youth to old age that is real and robust; a flesh and blood person whose authenticity, far-sightedness and insatiable curiosity was very hard to sate. And thank, heavens it wasn’t. For we are the beneficiaries.
You’ll hear of the Leather Apron Men in Boston who were craftsman and:
Ben would always hold these artisans
in high regard. They worked hard and
were very skilled.
Even from the outset, on the front and rear covers of Electric Ben, the reader will find quotes from this innovator with such a keen mind, he was not content to merely grasp knowledge, but he had a thirst to disseminate it to others.
Perhaps, one might not think sibling rivalry an essential topic as regards Robert Byrd’s bio on Ben, but it’s there early on…with a brother that happens to be in the same line of work, as a writer and printer.
You can just hear the howls from brother James, eldest of Josiah and Abiah Folger Franklin’s brood of fourteen children.
Ben, as the youngest, was apprenticed to his brother for nine years, at James’ paper called the New England Courant.
It provided Ben writing opportunities as a 16 year-old; some not to older brother’s liking. For he quickly developed a following all his own under the pen name, Silence Dogood.
And James was furious as Silence champions “women’s right to education and criticized everything from bad poetry to Harvard students.” A brotherly brouhaha ensues and Ben leaves with the quote:
I had already made myself
obnoxious to the governing
Sailing to Philadelphia, brother James saw to it that Ben was “banned in Boston.” And there he thrives. Writing in the Gazette, a paper owned by a friend, it gives Ben a job, but ever a striver, he soon owns the paper.
And this is just the start of a life that included inventions including the lightning rod, Franklin stove, the famous bifocals and the discovery that lightning WAS electricity.
Not satisfied, there is his political participation as one of the Founding Fathers of a new nation and someone that helped write the Declaration of Independence and a framer of the Constitution no less!
Ben was also the United States Ambassador to France with a voracious and consuming knowledge of science, music, mathematics, history and more.
This book prompted me to get a copy of Poor Richard’s Almanac, selling at that time, some 10,000 copies a year, equal to perhaps two million today!
Mr. Byrd has even reprinted a page from the 1733 copy. Here are three quotes from it:
People who are wrapped up in
themselves make small packages.
Fish and visitors stink in three days.
If you would know the value of money
try to borrow some.
It was printed for some twenty-five years and made Ben rich, and its readers richer still… in knowledge.
I have to find a copy.
In the meantime, please read Electric Ben by Richard Byrd.
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Hello Glen! It has been a good while since I have asked a question on the site! I wanted to know if there were any hard and fast rules regardingAdd a Comment
2016 NAACP Image Award Winners (Literature Categories)
Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction: Stand Your Ground by Victoria Christopher Murrary (Touchstone)
Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction: Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga by Pamela Newkirk (HarperCollins/Amistad)
Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author: The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma (Little, Brown & Company)
Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/ Auto-Biography: Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau)
Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional: Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family by Alice Randall & Caroline Randall Williams (Clarkson Potter)
Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry: How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes (Penguin Books / Penguin Random House)
Outstanding Literary Work – Children: Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Jamey Christoph (Albert Whitman & Company)
Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens: X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon (Candlewick Press)Add a Comment
Disney used a Super Bowl ad to spotlight Jon Favreau’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s classic story The Jungle Book.
The film stars Neel Sethi, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken, and Bill Murray among others. The production hits theaters in April.
We’ve got the trailer embedded above.Add a Comment
Many of the folks who utilize BookBub are self-published, and because we hear over and over the need for self-published authors to have their work edited, It seemed to me that it could be educational to take a hard look at their first pages. If you don’t know about BookBub, it’s a pretty nifty way to try to build interest in your work. The website is here.
I’m mostly sampling books that are offered for free. I’ve noticed that many of these folks use a prologue—this one does, but it’s so short I’m skipping ahead to the first chapter. Following is the first page and a poll. Then my comments are after the fold along with the book cover, the author’s name, and a link so you can take a look for yourself if you wish. At Amazon you can click on the Read More feature to get more of the chapter if you’re interested. There’s a second poll concerning the need for an editor.
Should this author have hired an editor? Here’s the the first page from a book by Dick Cluster.
“… too many changes at once,” Alex was saying. He recognized this for a rationalization, and an old, barnacle-encrusted one to boot. He wondered how many other times it had been enunciated, sotto voce, over this same slippery table, by men or women whose fingertips traced, as his did, circles of diluted bourbon on the black Formica top. He envied the piano player, whose dry fingers glided brilliantly over shiny keys.
The pianist, Meredith had said, was playing a song cycle by Franz Peter Schubert. Alex hadn’t been able to identify the composer, though he could have said it was a European who worked after Bach and before Stravinsky. He did happen to know one surprising fact about Schubert— at least it had been surprising to him— which was that he had died even younger than Mozart, at the age of thirty-one. “Hey, listen,” Alex had said more than once since coming upon this fact, “I’ve already outlived Schubert by nine years, and Che Guevara by one.”
Tonight Alex had expected jazz piano, not classical. And why not, when he had watched the pianist amble in from his break: a dapper man, rimless glasses and well-shaped mustache, a sort of older Herbie Hancock, though then Alex had realized that Herbie Hancock himself wasn’t so young anymore. The musician had sat down, flexed his long brown fingers, and conjured these august Germanic rhythms out of the machine.Were you compelled to turn the page?
Did this writer need an editor? My notes and a poll follow.
The writing and voice are good, but, as a little old lady once said in a hamburger commercial, “Where’s the beef?” A man sits at a table in a bar, musing. Then there’s some backstory. Then a piano player plays music. Story questions? None here and, with an opening this languid, I suspected it wouldn’t appear for far too many pages. I passed. You can turn the first page here.
Edit pollShould this writer have hired an editor?
© 2016 Ray RhameyAdd a Comment
So happy Susannah has developed another fun writing contest. My entry for the first "Valentiny Writing Contest" is below. Looking forward to reading all of the great entries. The Heart of a Grumpy Bear “I don’t want chocolate candy. I do not want a kiss. This is one holiday I surely can miss.” “But Bear, I made this valentine, cause you’re my bestest friend.” “Oh, Rabbit,Add a Comment
Here's this week's MMGM links!
- Reading Violet is caught up in THE WEDNESDAY WARS. Click HERE to see why.
- Deb Marshall is really digging THE WORLD BENEATH . Click HERE to read her review.
- Sonora at Destined 4 Weirdness is cheering for HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Jess at the Reading Nook is spreading some good luck for JUST MY LUCK. Click HERE to find her review.
- Carl at Boys Rule! Boys Read! is tossing out some love for LEGENDS: THE BEST PLAYERS, GAMES, AND TEAMS IN FOOTBALL. Click HERE for his feature.
- Suzanne Warr is singing praises for BLUE BIRDS. Click HERE to see why.
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is rooting for SWEET HOME ALASKA. Click HERE to see what he thought.
- Susan Olson is eager to open THE TRAP DOOR (Infinity Ring Book 3). Click HERE to see why.
- Greg Pattridge is cheering for SOAR. Click HERE to read his thoughts.
- Rosi Hollenbeck is reviewing--and GIVING AWAY--NANNY X RETURNS. Click HERE for all the fun.
- Shari Larsen is revealing the cover for BLUES BONES--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details.
- Dorine White wants everyone to join THE DRAGON OF THE MONTH club. Click HERE to see why.
- Jess at the Reading Nook is sharing THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY. Click HERE to see what she thought.
- Katie at Story Time Secrets is showing some spirit for SPIRIT WEEK SHOWDOWN. Click HERE to read her review
- Andrea Mack is raving about JACOB'S LANDING. Click HERE to learn more about it.
- Sue Kooky is featuring STORY THIEVES. Click HERE to find her review.
- Michelle Mason is *also* spreading some STORY THIEVES love. Click HERE to see why.
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time!
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week.
- The Mundie Moms are always huge supporters of middle grade. Click HERE for their Mundie Kids site.
Morena Baccarin will serve as a narrator for the Lady Midnight audiobook. This actress (pictured, via) has become well-known for taking on roles in literary-themed projects such as the Gotham TV series and the Deadpool film adaptation.
Lady Midnight will be the first installment of Cassandra Clare’s newest young adult trilogy, The Dark Artifices. The story will be set in the Shadowhunters universe. Clare intends for this project to be a sequel to the six-part Mortal Instruments series. She announced on Twitter that the audiobook will be released on March 8.
Here’s more from USA Today: “It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses. Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…” (via The Fandom)Add a Comment
What is Google Adsense गूगल एडसेन्स क्या है जब भी हम कभी जब ब्लॉग या इंटरनेट से आय कैसे हो कि बात करते हैं तो सबसे पहले हमारे जहन में Adsense का नाम आता है क्योकि सब पूछते हैं Adsense तो होगा ही पर हमें पता नही कि आखिर ये Adsense होता क्या है […]Add a Comment
Please welcome to the blog author Suzanne Nelson, winner of the Sydney Taylor Honor Award in the Teen Readers Category for her novel Serendipity's Footsteps.
What inspired you to write Serendipity's Footsteps? Did you plan from the onset to tie various plotlines together through a pair of shoes, or did the characters' individual stories come to you first?
There were so many inspirations for Serendipity's Footsteps. Versions of Ray and Pinny had been in my mind for over a decade, and I'd even tried once, years ago, writing a vastly different rendition of their story where they were biological sisters. Sixty or so pages into that story, though, I realized it wasn't working and shelved it. Then, a few years ago, I saw a single red slingback sitting atop a boulder in my town. It spurred a conversation with my sister about lost shoes. We tried to unravel the mystery of all the shoes we spotted hanging in trees or laying abandoned on roadsides. What were their stories? Who'd left them behind? It was my sister who asked me to write a novel about lost shoes. She's always loved shoes and told me, "Just write it for me." Because she's my best and most loved and trusted friend, I began writing for her. Then, as I wrote, without me even being fully aware of how pieces were falling into place, Dalya and her story were born. Once Dalya came to me, Ray and Pinny appeared beside her. Maybe they'd been waiting for her the whole time. Needless to say, I knew that these three heroines needed to come together. They each needed families and love, and the story's pale pink shoes became the key to their unbreakable bond. Really, writing the book was as much about serendipity for me as it was for my three heroines. I love Dalya, Ray, and Pinny and consider them kindred sisters and family. They exist for me, real as any other people, and so do the shoes they love.
Dayla, Ray, and Pinny have distinct personalities and voices. Is there a little piece of you in each of them? My Knopf editor and dear friend Michelle Frey tells me that she sees some of me in each of my three heroines, so it's probably true. I can't say with confidence that I could ever possess Dalya's resilience, because I've never experienced anything like her tragedies. Still, I admire her strength of spirit, her loyalty to her faith, culture, and family, and her deep capacity for love. I'd like to believe I carry some of those traits within me, too. I'm as passionate about writing as Ray is about her music. As a teenager, I sometimes wished to escape my life like Ray does. But who doesn't dream of running away at some point or other? The idea of reinventing yourself in a new place and starting fresh without obligations to anyone or anything can be appealing, until you start thinking about how lonely it would be. I have some of Ray's selfishness and outspokenness, too, although maybe I've learned to temper those shortcomings through the years (only my family can tell you how successful I've been in my efforts.). As for Pinny and her quest for the "More of Life," the joy she finds in so much of the world around her--I strive to find "More" joy and love in my life each and every day. I'm not as much of an optimist as she is, but I believe in magical thinking and sucking the marrow out of every moment life has to offer.
Did you model any of the characters after people you know or admire?
None of the characters are based directly on people I know personally. However, the emotions Dalya experiences in the wake of her losses, and the decisions she makes in her personal life to preserve and honor her family and her Jewish heritage and identity, were informed by some close friends who shared their family's Holocaust survival stories with me. I have such great admiration for these friends who continually work to protect their family's histories and faith and I hoped to convey some of this with Dalya's character. Pinny's character and story, as well, were influenced indirectly by an experience I had as a teen. My senior year of high school, I tutored a three-year-old boy who had Down Syndrome. The afternoons I spent with Troy were some of the most memorable and rewarding of my adolescence, and I've stayed in touch with the Drake family through the years. Troy and his parents opened my eyes to the challenges so many people with special needs face in finding meaningful employment and independence. It was so important to him and to his family that he work in a field he truly loved. Troy is in his twenties now and has his own Etsy business, Doodle Duck Design. Talking with the Drakes about their journey to find ways for Troy to live his "More of Life" helped me develop Pinny's story. I hope Pinny's search to find fulfillment in her life and work reflects that.
What are the biggest challenges - and rewards - when writing and researching historical fiction?
Research is one of the most fascinating parts of writing historical fiction. I love it so much that for me, the biggest challenge of researching is knowing when to stop! Then there's the problem of having to choose which pieces of research to include in my story, and trying to glean what facts will hold the most interest for readers. It's a time-consuming process, but one that I truly enjoy.
What resources did you use while writing and revising Serendipity's Footsteps?
With Serendipity's Footsteps, I read letters, diary entries, and first-hand accounts from Jewish children and teen refugees who came to the United States prior to and during World War II. From the mid 1930s to the early 1940s, one thousand Jewish children were brought to our country from Europe as part of an American kindertransport. All of those one thousand children left their parents behind in Europe and many never saw them again. They were placed with foster families around the country. Many of the children didn't know English when they arrived, were placed in school classes with younger students, and struggled with loneliness and coping with the grief of the terrible losses of the families they left behind. Learning about the obstacles they overcame and the strength and courage they had in such tragic circumstances helped me portray the difficulties Dalya faced in her transition to America.
Although my visit to Dachau Concentration Camp took place years ago, that visit has always haunted me. I drew on my memories of it when writing the novel. I also contacted two lovely professors, Dr. Buser and Dr. Ley, in Germany who were experts in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and its history, and they answered my numerous questions about that specific camp. Dr. Joselit, Professor of Judaic Studies and History at George Washington University, also gave me wonderful insight into Jewish life and culture in 1930s and 40s New York City. In the end, I was fortunate to have a number of knowledgeable people, here and overseas, guide my research and am so grateful to all of them for their help.
Your modern day romantic comedies include Cake Pop Crush, Hot Cocoa Hearts, Bacon Me Crazy, and Macarons at Midnight. Did you always plan for these stories to be a connected series?
This series started out as a single book, Cake Pop Crush. My Scholastic editor and I were so thrilled to see how popular that book became, and the other companion books followed as a result. Even though the books all have some fun baking theme, they each have different characters and a distinct plot, so they don't have to be read in any specific order. There will be a fifth foodie romance book coming in 2017, titled Donut Go Breaking My Heart. The style of writing for this series is very different from the style of Serendipity's Footsteps. The baking series is lighter and geared towards a younger, middle grade audience. It's fun writing the baking books because it gives me a break from the more serious topics and themes I'm drawn to in my other novels for older readers.
Do you like baking? If so, what are your specialties?
I am giggling at this question, because the honest truth is that I am not as much of a baker as my Cake Pop series might lead readers to believe. When I was experimenting with cake pop recipes for Cake Pop Crush, I actually set a bowl of candy melts on fire in my microwave. I had to run out onto my back porch with the flaming Tupperware to extinguish it under the pouring rain! My family thought it was hilarious.
Cake pop mishaps aside, I do enjoy baking with my three kids. I have a particular weakness for gooey brownies and white chocolate chip cookies and gobble them warm straight out of the oven. My five-year-old daughter is especially passionate about baking, and her love for it rubs off on me. We made some cupcakes a few weeks ago that had mountains of fluorescent icing so high they could've rivaled Mount Everest.
You have also worked as a book editor. How did your work as an editor inform your writing, and vice versa?
I don't think I ever would have become a published author without having been an editor first. Learning the ins and outs of the publishing process and working with other authors on their manuscripts was the best education I received as a writer. Because I was able to see what needed to be revised or reworked in other people's manuscripts, I learned how to view my own writing with a more critical eye. I also learned that you have to write what you're passionate about but also what fills a need in the current book market. Being a writer as well as an editor also gave me great empathy for other struggling writers, and when I had to reject a submission I tried to do it as nicely and encouragingly as I could.
Describe your current favorite go-to pair of shoes for daily wear.
Right now we're in the depths of winter here in Connecticut, and I have this enormous pair of brown fuzzy boots that I wear to wade through the snow and ice. They're so comfortable and warm. For the most part though, because most days I work from home, I keep my feet toasty in some snug slippers. Boring? Maybe, but absolutely essential for my creativity and productivity!
How about your most fun pair of shoes?
I have a pair of glam handmade shoes that are decorated with peacock feathers and another pair of glossy, cherry red peep-toe heels that make me feel beautiful inside and out every time I slip them on. Walking in them feels akin to teetering on a tightrope, but they're absolutely worth it!
List ten of your favorite books. Any genre, any style.
Disclaimer: This is an eclectic mix of classical, contemporary, adult and children's literature. I could easily add another hundred titles to this list (there are so many incredible books in the world!), but these ten are stories I turn to again and again.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell (And really anything written by Kate DiCamillo!)
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Holes by Louis Sachar
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Congratulations to all of the recipients of The Sydney Taylor Book Award! Follow the blog tour featuring the 2016 gold and silver medalists all this week, February 8th-February 12th, hosted at a variety of blogs. Click here for the full blog tour schedule.
Learn more about the Sydney Taylor Honor Award.
Visit the People of the Books Blog.
Visit Suzanne Taylor's website.
Because January is now behind us, let’s be honest to ourselves. How are you doing on those new year’s resolutions? Are you still sticking to them?
Last Monday, my online workshop ‘Awesome Art Journaling’ has started. Some of the participants are there because their new year’s resolution was: make more art. They took action by taking the class!
Struggles I see a lot in my classes are things like:
‘I really want to make art, but I don’t have time’, ‘I procrastinate, even though I know I feel happy when I make art’, ‘I think of sitting down to draw, but then I don’t’.
Is any of the above slightly familiar perhaps?
Here are 3 tips to give yourself that extra push and take action
1. Take responsibility
You can wait for something to miraculously happen, like the week suddenly turning into 8 days, life getting less busy, or an hour consisting of 80 instead of 60 minutes. But who are you fooling anyway?
I can THINKabout going to the gym, but that’s not going to make my butt any thinner, is it?
The only person who can make it happen is YOU. Don’t blame circumstances or make up excuses. There is always a way.
2. Stop being scared
Now, of course I don’t know what kind of challenge you are aiming for on tackling, but assuming it’s related to creativity: step out of that comfort zone and go for it. You need to follow new paths to learn and grow. And after all: what can REALLY go wrong? It’s just pen and paper. Or paint and canvas, or whatever your poison is.
With every step you take, you will get such a great feeling of accomplishment. Another result: you don’t need to beat yourself up for making excuses. Because you don’t make them anymore.
Need an extra kick-in-the-butt?
Be quick then! ‘Awesome Art Journaling’ started last Monday, and if you haven’t already, this week will be the last chance for you to join in a whole month of making art every single day!Add a Comment
The trine (prounounced treen) is a French Poetic form consisting of three rhyming couplets and a triplet. There is no fixed meter or syllable count. The rhyme scheme is a a b b c c a b c.
So, there's your challenge for the week. I hope you'll join me in writing a trine (or two). Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.
A stylized film noir in three minutes.Add a Comment
Cynthia Leitich Smith
A funny middle grade mystery adventure complete with an unconventional knight, a science experiment gone awry, a giant spider, and a boy to save the day!
Submarine Stories and Military Writers: The New Book Review: Interview: Wife of Submarine ...: The New Book Review: Interview: Wife of Submarine Vet Shares Experiences
Shalom (that's "hello" in Hebrew) and welcome to YABC's newest column, ChaiLights! In this column, we'll explore the best of contemporary Jewishthemed books for young children, middle graders, and teens. The name of this column infuses the word "highlights" with a uniquely Jewish pun. Chai is the Hebrew word...Add a Comment
In this TED talk, news illustrator Richard Johnson tells what it was like to sketch during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how sketching brought him closer to the military company he traveled with.
|Art by Richard Johnson, courtesy WBUR|
A lot of writers hear the well-meaning advice that, in order to break in more easily, they should have some writing clips and credits to their resume. It’s good advice, and I especially don’t want to disenfranchise the many writers who have been actively pursuing this strategy with my answer, because it is a very worthwhile strategy.
In case you haven’t thought about this issue before, I’ll summarize here: When you’re an aspiring writer, you have a lot of ambition to write, but not a lot of platform. People aren’t buying what you want to sell, basically. Or, if they are, they aren’t really paying you for it. You’re probably getting opportunities to showcase your work on blogs and at other web-based venues that don’t have a budget to compensate contributors. Or maybe you start your own blog, like this ol’ hack did! This is how a lot of people get going.
Then you think that there has to be more out there that’s, well, more noteworthy to a potential publishing gatekeeper. So maybe you explore other avenues to showcase your work. Whether it’s in the children’s writing realm, say, Highlights Magazine, or in an unrelated area, like an op-ed for the local newspaper, or a poem in a general fiction literary journal, you start to set your sights higher.
Whether you try to gather clips in print journalism, the literary community, scientific or medical magazines (a lot of writers have done a lot of technical writing for their day jobs), etc., you’re basically writing and racking up pieces that someone else has vetted and decided are good enough to publish.
This all makes a lot of sense, right? If you want to write, write, and maybe the momentum of all your writing will speed up your efforts on the book publishing front. Being published is being published, no matter what you’re publishing. And writing professionals love to see writing credits. Right? Weeeeeeeeeell…
It’s not often that clear-cut. Publishing an op-ed in your local paper in Portland is not the magic ticket to calling attention to yourself with a children’s book editor in New York, unless, of course, your op-ed or Huffpo article causes such a stir that it goes “viral” and attracts a lot of attention or controversy. In fact, under my original name (a much longer version of “Kole”), I published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, which is a notable newspaper that people have heard of. And I thought, for sure, this was my golden ticket. The day it ran, I waited for the phone to ring. Aaaaand…my mother was very proud of me. Then one man from Idaho took offense at my sense of humor. That’s about it.
The fact of the matter is, if you can say in your query that you’ve published with a top-tier publication that most casual readers have heard of, that’s going to be an amazing feather in your cap. And agents and editors might take notice. But it’s likely not going to get you a book publishing contract.
And outside of that, if you’re publishing on blogs, or in smaller literary magazines, or in venues that have nothing whatsoever to do with publishing novels, then your clips are going to tell a potential agent or editor one positive thing, but one positive thing only: That you’ve hustled a little and know a little bit about the process. And that’s a positive thing, because that might indicate that you’re at least somewhat easy to work with during the publishing process. But it’s not a guarantee of anything.
My main objection to splitting your focus and concentrating on amassing clips if your primary goal is to publish a book can be expressed in this recent post. The truth of the matter is, some journalists spend years trying to crack the New York Times for their own resumes. It’s an entirely new skillset. First, there’s learning how to write well enough that the Times would take interest. Then it’s cultivating contacts and editor relationships that will get you prime consideration. Then it’s learning the culture of the publication (and every publication has one, no matter how small they are) and learning how to work within it successfully. After a lot of effort, you may finally get published in the Times. But then you’re published in the Times, not in the book realm.
What’s missing from this picture of all the effort you’ve put in? Oh yeah, honing your novel craft, which is why you’re doing any of this to begin with. So gathering clips is phenomenal, but it doesn’t help you accomplish your primary goal directly. And there’s no guarantee that it will help you accomplish your primary goal indirectly, either. You may sink a few years into pitching freelance articles to magazines, distract yourself, and maybe emerge with one well-regarded piece in Real Simple…that has nothing to do with your novel.
Is that payoff worth it? Only you can decide. This strategy only seems to work well when you’re a journalist in your day job, and a novelist by night. Then you possess both skillsets already, and you can jump back and forth more easily. Otherwise, it’s like going through all the work and trouble of growing a new arm, just so you can give your primary hands better manicures. It seems like a lot more effort than it’s worth.Add a Comment
Adapting a book by Walter Dean Myers – award-winning children’s book creator and former national ambassador for young people’s literature – is a tough job. Monster, his acclaimed novel, won the first ever Michael L. Printz Award and countless other honors. But Guy A. Sims is used to challenges. In 1990, he, his brother Dawud Anyabwile and Brian McGee debuted Brotherman, a ground-breaking comic that helped fill a void in the industry.
With Emmy Award-winning Anyabwile as illustrator, Sims plunged into writing. His hard work paid off. Monster: A Graphic Novel (HarperCollins, 2015), a stirring black-and-white adaptation, has already won accolades and a starred review. We are proud to celebrate Guy’s great work on Day 8:
Writing has always been a natural extension of myself. From my early years in elementary school through today, writing (and my other loves; theater, forensics, film, songwriting, etc.) has provided the outlet for how I see myself, my place in the world, and perspectives for what could be. I discovered early the power that comes from the written word and the realization that the power could be mine. My father cautioned me to take care in what I write, to fully own what I write because others will take your words to heart and apply them to their lives. A powerful lesson for a powerful medium.
When I was in eighth grade, I had my first short story published in my elementary school newspaper. I cannot recall what the story was about, but I do know the feeling of excitement and anxiety when I heard other kids reading my words. That experience probably solidified my passion for writing. In 1984, I wrote the first children’s book on African American cultural celebration Kwanzaa. The book, The Kwanzaa Kids Learn the Seven Principles, was a collaborative effort with my brother Dawud Anyabwile as the illustrator.
Many people are familiar with street artists and performers, but I don’t know if there is a category called a street writer. During my high school days, I would write on the bus, the subway, different places downtown, at my local playground, wherever. I would engage all kinds of people into my writing process, asking them questions about what they thought were going on, what they were doing, and eventually, to take a look at what I wrote to see if I captured the essence of the environment. I always found my city, Philadelphia, to be a rich tapestry of tales from which to draw. In fact, the majority of my fiction takes place in and around Philly.
The Back Story:
My brother Dawud had worked with Walter Dean Myers before, illustrating the book Smiffy Blue. When the folks at HarperCollins decided to adapt his award-winning young adult novel Monster into a graphic novel, Dawud was tapped to illustrate. In seeking out a writer, my brother suggested me, sharing that I understood the process for writing in the comic book style, thanks in part to our creation, Brotherman Comics, which we started back in 1990.
When asked if I would work on the project, I jumped in head first, unfamiliar with the source material or about Walter Dean Myers. In the end, I am glad that I didn’t because after learning about him as an author, I surely would have been intimidated. In fact, I didn’t get my first taste of his “artistic celebrity” until I visited several of my family members who lived in the NY/NJ area. When I told them, I was working on the Monster book they were more than excited and began sharing with me his importance to the literary world. At that point, I knew I had to do my very best on the project.
During the book development process, I didn’t communicate with Mr. Myers directly, but I would receive positive responses after pages were submitted. Unfortunately, just before the final press, Walter Dean Myers passed away without seeing the final product, although he did see it completed. I understand he was very pleased with how we translated his work. I look forward to similar opportunities to translate popular works into graphic novels.
I owe a great deal of credit to really wanting to be a writer to my father who set me on the path. One day he shared with me a recording of Richard Wright’s Black Boy, narrated by Brock Peters. I was mesmerized both by Wright’s words and Peters’ presentation. When I finished listening to the record, I picked up the book from the library and read it. This is who I want to write like is what I told myself. There are numerous writers, theater actors, and pieces of music that have influenced my writing and writing style, but the ignitor was Richard Wright.
Writing projects come to me in various ways. Often it is a concept or even a draft of a title that sets the wheels in motion. I begin with the key player or protagonist and let the story build itself from there. Although I have a desktop and laptop, I still draft out my writing in longhand. I tried carrying my laptop around but found I had to concern myself with finding power, the sun glare, etc. The old pen and paper never fail. I save the editing until the end so that I don’t bog myself down with the rules of writing. I write on my lunch hour and for about an hour during the week and use the weekend to transfer what I wrote from paper to the computer. I also usually have two to three projects going on at the same time which requires a high level of time management on my part. When at home, I write in my small office but I still have interruptions thanks to my children, which is okay with me.
Under The Radar
My favorite author currently is Yvvette Edwards, author of A Cupboard Full of Coats and the forthcoming, The Mother. She has a wicked way of keeping her characters in close proximity to each other, maintaining tension, and creates resolutions that take you by surprise. She’s from London, so her UK expressions are also a joy to experience.
The State of the Industry
I have two sons who they are strong readers, whipping through the Harry Potters and Hunger Games with ease. We often talk about the absence of characters that would appear to look like them or come from similar backgrounds. My advice to them is the same my father gave me. If they don’t exist, you must create them.
Guy A. Sims is also the author of the Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim detective series, and the novel, Living Just a Little.
The Buzz About Monster: A Graphic Novel
“The superbly rewarding format serves to powerfully emphasize Myers’s themes of perspective and the quest to see one’s self clearly. A must-have for public and school libraries, and a standout graphic novel.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“It’s not easy for an adaptation to please both old and new readers, but this respectful one pulls off that trick.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“This graphic novel adaptation will introduce this story to a new generation of fans.”
— School Library Journal