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1. Changing Table Poster Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family



Review by Ariadna Sánchez
Día de los Muertos or Day of the Death is approaching. In preparation for this amazing festivity, reading Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family by Cynthia Weill in collaboration with Oaxacan paper mache artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate is a great way to start the celebration.
Weill’s latest bilingual book gives a glance of the vast Mexican art. Anita is a young calacagirl, who introduces each member of her skeleton family.  With short and catching sentences in English and Spanish, each character reveals its beauty to the young readers. Each page shows a colorful encounter starting with Anita’s brother Miguel (el travieso/the brat), followed by her cute baby brother Juanito, then her stylish mother, next her handsome father, as well as her adorable grandparents, and last but not least her cat and dog. 
The astonishing art created by Canseco Zárate pops-out automatically like jack-in-the-box. The wonderful sculptures in paper mache are a pleasure for the senses.
Mi Familia Calaca/ My Skeleton Family is a must read for the season. Reading gives you wings. Visit your local library to check out more exciting stories.
For additional information about Cynthia Weill’s books and artisan Jesús Canseco Zárate’s calacas click on the following links:
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]-->



***

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


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

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

Please support this project  

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4. NEW - art gallery fabrics pt.1

Art Gallery Fabrics will be at the Quilt Market in Houston this weekend (25th-27th Oct) launching lots of fabulous new design collections. Their previews have already gone online showcasing Art Gallery's releases between November 2014 and April 2015. If you are lucky enough to be attending the show look out for them in  Booth #1660. For those of us who cant attend here are some of my picks with

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 CWIM bigger

 

 

        

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

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

and The Future of Us

 

          

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

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

          

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

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

 

 

       

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

- BECCA FITZPATRICK, author of Hush-Hush
and Crescendo

 

 

    

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

- WENDY TOLIVER, author of Lifted

        

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

- JOSEPHINE ANGELINI, international
bestselling author of Starcrossed.

 

       

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

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

 

          

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

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

 

 

Pick up the 2015 edition of CWIM here!

 

2015 CWIM bigger

 

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

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6. Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif

In her debut picture book, Oliver, Birgitta Sif explored the experience of an introvert with sensitivity and creativity that resulted in a memorable and worthwhile book. With Frances Dean Who Loved to Dance Sif visits similar, well worn terrain with the same fresh perspective that makes for another memorable picture book. Frances Dean loves to dance, but only when she is all alone.

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7. How to Paint Glow

Manelle Oliphant Illustration - Illustrator and Writer

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

It’s all about values

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

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

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

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

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

Have fun painting glow-y things!

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

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8. NEW - art gallery fabrics pt. 2

Also new from Art Gallery Fabrics are two ranges from Bonnie Christine. Hello Bear, named after Bonnie's son and inspired by the wilderness will be released in January 2015. And (below) also from Bonnie Christine in April 2015 will come a gardening inspired range called Cultivate.  Below : In December 2014 Art Gallery will release Gossamer a dreamy floral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10. Drawing Blind with Philip C. Stead


“SEBASTIAN sat high on his roof—something he was never supposed to do.
‘There is nothing to see on my street,’ he thought. ‘Nothing to see at all.’”

(Click to enlarge)


 

Author-illustrator Phil Stead is visiting today to chat with me about his newest picture book, Sebastian and the Balloon, released by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook earlier this month.

This is the story of a young boy who sets out on an adventure with “all the things he would ever need” and charts a course for the skies — in a balloon he’s built from his grandmother’s afghans. Along the way, he meets a bear (a real one), who joins him in the balloon, yet it’s popped at the beak of a “very tall bird.” Turns out, though, they’ve landed on the house of three elderly sisters, who mend the balloon and help the boy, the bear, and the bird shoo away some pigeons on the other side of the mountain near where they live. The pigeons have gathered on the “most perfect roller coaster,” which together the crew fixes up for an exhilarating ride.

Phil chats with me below about how he made his art, letting nature take its course on your illustrations (and embracing humor error), and leafless trees needing company too. (P.S.: You can see a few other spreads from the book in this June 2014 7-Imp post.)

Jules: Hi there, Phil. Let’s talk about Sebastian, shall we?

So, first up: I want to ask about the art. I hope that’s not a boring way to start.

It almost looked to me like the cover was painted on wood. But I’m not an artist, and I often get these things wrong. I see on the official copyright page note that you used pastels, oil paints, and pressed charcoal. Am I right that this is the first time you’ve used charcoal, or am I dreaming that?

Phil: Hi, Jules!

You are not dreaming. This is the first time I’ve used charcoal.

I gave myself a tricky challenge in making the art for this book. I really wanted to use oil paint as the primary medium. I can get bright color using oils that I’ve always had trouble getting with gouache or acrylic. At the same time, though, I wanted elements of the book to be drawn with my natural hand. The trouble is that you can’t really draw on an oil painting. Oil paint is usually the end of the road. I was getting really frustrated trying to figure this problem out when this little accident happened in my sketchbook:


(Click to enlarge)


 

Now, this might be confusing, but I’ll try to explain as best I can. When an oil painting is mostly dry—tacky to the touch—you can press charcoal into the paint by using homemade carbon paper. I coat one side of a sheet of paper in charcoal, lay that paper on top of the oil painting, then draw with a pencil on the white side of the paper. The pressure of the pencil presses the charcoal permanently into the oil painting. There is one big pitfall to this approach. That is, you’re essentially drawing blind. You can’t see what you’ve made until you peel the carbon paper back off the oil painting. I can live with the kind of mistakes and flubs that come from this kind of uncertainty, though. In fact, I kind of like it. The only time drawing blind made me really tense was on exacting, mechanical images, like these ones of the roller coaster:


“And for the rest of the day and into the night they rode …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


“and rode …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

But on others, like these, I didn’t mind:

 


“And when night fell, Sebastian boarded the balloon he’d built from Grandma’s afghans and patchwork quilts. He charted a course. He checked the breeze. He cut the strings …”
(Click to enlarge)


 


(Click to enlarge)


 

By the way, what you’re seeing as a wood-like texture is actually pastel drawing that’s showing from underneath the oil painting. I probably should’ve documented the making of one of these images so I could show rather than tell, but unfortunately I didn’t think of it at the time. David Ezra Stein used a similar technique as this, though, in his book Because Amelia Smiled. He calls his technique “Stein-lining.” You can watch a video about it here:



 

If you substitute crayon for charcoal, you basically get “Stead-lining.”

Does that help?

Jules: Ooh, neat. Thanks for the explanation. Plus, I hadn’t seen that David Ezra Stein video. Chickens playing oboes. Bonus!

This explains a lot about the lines in this book. The first time I read it, I thought that your line was more relaxed than in other books. I like this relaxed, sketchy quality.

One thing I’m very curious about is the color palette. The colors here remind me of picture books of yore. Any particular reasoning behind the dominant colors chosen here? That is, the rust, the tealy-blue (I have spent about 30 minutes now trying to find the name for this color, but I have failed and “tealy-blue” is the best I can do), the yellow.

Also, one more technique-type question before I ask a few more about the story: How’d you pull off the “milky gray fog”?

Phil: I’ll start with the fog.


“The wind picked up and soon it was time to go—up and up and into a milky gray fog. ‘Can you see the end of my nose?’ asked the bear. But before Sebastian could answer there came a loud POP!
(Click to enlarge)


 

It’s actually so simple that I hate to admit it. Especially since I seem to get more questions about this spread than any other. All I did here was make an entire finished image in full color, wait for it to dry, and then paint over the entire thing with white oil paint. The white paint has been thinned with a quick-drying medium, making it translucent. This is one of the biggest images of the balloon in the book, and I’ll admit that I was sad (and scared) to paint right over it, obscuring a lot of the detail. But it had to be done!

As for the color in this book, I decided early on that I wanted to work in a very limited palette. There are only nine colors used in the book, with some variance due to human error. (Fun fact: Erin used only eight colors in A Sick Day for Amos McGee.)


“The nine color swatches I made as a guide for myself …”
(Click to enlarge)


 

Any time you limit color choices in a children’s book, I think it naturally calls to mind an era when color choices had to be limited in the days of yore. That said, I did not deliberately limit the colors in this book in order to make it look old-fashioned. I did it, rather, in order to introduce a set of rules into a universe that could’ve easily gone spiraling out of control. A lot of weird things happen in this book. Keeping the color palette so orderly was one way to make the world seem grounded and believable. The restricted palette adds a dead-pan element to what is, admittedly, an pretty insane story arc.

And then there’s one more thing about the color, something that I didn’t originally intend. Remember I mentioned human error? So, I used a quick-dry medium to speed up the drying times of my oil paints.


(Click to enlarge)


 

When using this medium, my paintings would dry in about 48 hours. Without the medium, their drying times would vary from 4-6 weeks, which is way too long when you have a deadline. I’d used dryers before but never in high quantity. Turns out, I was using so much that it accelerated the aging process of all my paintings. About two months after a painting was finished, it would start to yellow and age. It turned my light blues into the tealy color you described. It turned my whites to cream. All of the colors were affected in some way, and to make matters worse they were all aging at different rates. Of course, at first I panicked. But then at some point I started seeing the process as something natural, completely out of my control, and in a weird way, desirable. It was like letting a cheese or a wine age: You begin the process, but nature finishes it.


Book jacket
(Click to enlarge)

Jules: I was going to say that it sounds like making the art for this one was a roller-coaster ride when, OUCH, I realized the horrible pun I’d made.

Okay, just a question or two about story. I always worry about analyzing a book to death when maybe we should just sit back and enjoy it and the art, so okay, I’ll only ask one:

I love how the story begins with Sebastian having a bad case of ennui. I don’t mean depression, which is a serious thing for many people. But he’s got the humdrums somethin’ fierce and really needs an adventure. Maybe I was thinking about that a lot today [Ed. Note: This part of our conversation clearly took place on a Sunday], because Sundays always run the danger of being Ennui Days for me. (Maybe ’cause Monday looms? I dunno.)

So, you call it a “pretty insane story arc.” Once you knew Sebastian needed an adventure, how’d you reign yourself in? I assume you have Sebastian outtakes, parts of his adventure that were maybe cut?

Also, apropos to not-that, I love how the leafless tree ends up having company there at the end. Everyone is happy.

Phil: There have been two feelings that have dominated my psyche over the course of my life so far. And those two feelings are the two main themes in my books as well. They are:

  1. I wish we could all learn to be kind.
  2. I gotta get the heck outta here.

Number two is an amorphous sort of feeling that is part boredom, part dread, part dissatisfaction, part curiosity. This feeling has been with me every day of my life. And to me it’s the feeling that drives Sebastian throughout the story. Boredom-Dread-Dissatisfaction-Curiosity is, after all, the makeup of most kids that I know.

Weirdly enough, there were no deleted scenes in this book. Everything present in the first draft is present also in the final book. When I was writing I wasn’t thinking WHAT NEXT! Really, I wasn’t even trying to be over the top or intentionally strange. The story just went where it wanted to go, and I tried not to get in the way.

I love that you mention the leafless tree. Those three lines are my favorites that I’ve ever written:

And the pigeons flew off,
all the way to the leafless tree.
And the tree was glad to have company.

I didn’t realize it till long after they’d been written, but they sum up everything I hope to accomplish as an artist. I wish I could explain it better than that, but I don’t think I can. All of my books exist in those three lines somewhere.

Jules: Ah. I think we should fade out here …

Thanks, Phil, for visiting.

* * * * * * *

SEBASTIAN AND THE BALLOON. Copyright © 2014 by Philip C. Stead. Published by Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook Press, New York. All images here reproduced by permission of Philip C. Stead.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

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

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

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

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

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12. Spotlight: Spy Fall by Diana Quincy

I have a spotlight for Diana Quincy’s Spy Fall, which looks like a fun read.  The heroine jumps out of airplanes.    She’s got to be nuts!

Blurb:

When a fiery French parachutist lands on a drunken Lord Cosmo Dunsmore, he surmises she’s an angel sent from above. But is she a spy after something far more sinister than his debauched soul?

A fearless parachutist is out of her depth …

 

Mari Lamarre is gaining fame for her daring aeronautic endeavors, but her riskiest adventure begins when she collides with the darkly charismatic son of the Marquess of Aldridge. If her mission succeeds, Cosmo’s father will be ruined.
A rakehell falls for a dangerous woman …

Surrendering to a fierce passion, the two embark on a torrid affair, even as Cosmo vows to protect his family at all costs. But in doing so, will he risk losing the captivating beauty who’s swept into his life and made off with his heart?

Author Bio:

Diana Quincy is an award-winning former television journalist who decided she’d rather make up stories where a happy ending is always guaranteed. Diana’s reporting background is probably the reason many of her books are inspired by true-life events.

Growing up as a foreign service brat, Diana visited many countries and is now settled in Virginia with her husband and two sons. When not bent over her laptop or trying to keep up with laundry, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and dreams of traveling much more than her current schedule (and budget) allows.

Social Media Links:

Website|Twitter|Facebook|Goodreads|Pinterest

Website: http://www.dianaquincy.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Diana_Quincy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DianaQuincyRomance

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/dianaquincy/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7045151.Diana_Quincy

Buy Link: Amazon Exclusive for the first six months

Click cover for product page

Excerpt:

They reached the hot air balloon, where a stable groom stood waiting to assist her. She stooped to untie one of the thick cables tethering the contraption to the ground.

“What I have in mind will give you great pleasure,” she said quietly.

His inky eyes went alert. “Is that so?”

“Release that cable, if you please,” she called to the groom.

He tipped his cap. “Yes, miss.” And proceeded to do just that.

Gesturing toward the other cable, she said to Cosmo. “Untie that, will you?”

“Whatever for?” He glanced at it before frowning back in her direction. “If you completely untether it, the balloon will fly away, as you well know.”

“Exactly.” She leapt into the wicker boat. “Allons. Let us go.”

“Go where? You want me to go up in that?” He took a step back. “I most certainly will not.”

She leaned over the edge of the gondola. “Pour le plaisir, remember?”

Shaking his head, he backed away. Switching to French so the groom wouldn’t understand, he said, “This is most assuredly not the sort of pleasure I meant.”

“You can show me what you do have in mind,” she said in the same language, as she bent over to retrieve and throw sand-filled ballasts out of the gondola.

“Come away from there and I gladly will.”

“I prefer that you come in here.” She offered him the most wickedly sensual smile in her feminine arsenal.

He blinked. Then swallowed. “Angel, you will be the death of me.”

“Perhaps just a little death.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. La petite mort was the French term for the peak of sensual pleasure. “Is that a naughty French reference? Or are you teasing me?”

She laughed aloud, exhilarated at the thought of soaring into the clouds with him. “You shall have to fly with me to find out.”

The post Spotlight: Spy Fall by Diana Quincy appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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13. Untitled drawing


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14. Whatever After: Cold as Ice

Whatever After booksWhatever After Book #6: Cold as Ice

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

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15. Mastering Kid-Speak – Erika Wassall

erikaphoto-45Jersey Farm Scribe here on…

A Dialogue Tune-up: Mastering Kid-Speak

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

That means that mastering Kid-Speak is unequivocally important.

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

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

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

Eavesdrop!

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

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

Listen to yourself:

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

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

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

Give Everyone Their Own Unique Voice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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

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

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

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

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

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18. Ali A. Mazrui (1933-2014)

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

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

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

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20. Would You Read It Wednesday #150 - Zoo Rules (PB) PLUS Straight From The Editor

There is never a dull moment around here.

First, I got a flat tire.  (It's possible this had something to do with the wood full of nails and screws that someone left directly in front of the garage... that I drove over as I hurried out to pick up my daughter from school and wondered, "Hmm... what was that?" Really, your guess is as good as mine... :))

Then the bear came and had a picnic out of our trash cans.  (If you haven't had much experience with bear picnics, I can tell you they are not at all tidy.  There is much clean-up involved...)

Then on Monday the house that's going in down the road from us had its foundation poured, so a parade of cement trucks thundered up and down the road all day.  Scout felt it her duty to bark at the passage of each one.  Both ways.  Jemma hid under the piano.  It was traumatic for everyone.

And now we are expecting rain in these parts so if anyone needs me I will be in my basement in the canoe.

I know!

Harrowing tales of this nature just don't come along every day!

I'm dreadfully sorry if my horror stories have left you in a weakened state, but never fear!  I have snacks!

Continuing with our get-ready-for-Halloween-theme, today's Something Chocolate is just the thing for when you want something sweet, salty, and candy-corny all at once.  (Because really, isn't that a combination you often find yourself wanting?  I know I frequently find myself thinking, "Hmm... I'm in the mood for something sweet, salty and candy-corny... what to have?"  Okay.  I admit it.  I have never thought that.  But there's always a first time :))  And they are pretty :)

Candy Corn Pretzel Hugs :)  Recipe HERE!
I think they might be easy enough for even me to make, so go ahead!  Give them a try!

Now that we have averted any danger of fainting, we have Straight From The Editor for September, which you will recall was won by Hope with her pitch for Cleo And Pinkie:

Whether it is marker stains on the carpet or mud trails in the hall, Cleo blames her mischievous, imaginary friend, Pinkie, for everything. “Pinkie did it!” Soon Mommy can’t take it anymore and declares, “No more Pinkie!” But without Pinkie, the house is too quiet until Cleo makes another mess, this time, to everyone’s delight.

Here's what editor Erin Molta had to say:

This sounds really cute. I made a small tweak because I think if you put the Pinkie did it in the beginning it’s more of a hook. The only thing that didn’t quite work for me was the very ambiguous ending—Cleo made a mess to everyone’s delight? You don’t want to make readers guess, you want to intrigue them, yet this is just confusing. It would be better to be more specific so they can get the joke. Then they would appreciate it more.

“Pinkie did it!” Whether it is marker stains on the carpet or mud trails in the hall, Cleo blames her mischievous, imaginary friend for everything. Soon Mommy can’t take it anymore and declares, “No more Pinkie!” But without Pinkie, the house is too quiet until Cleo makes another mess, this time, to everyone’s delight.

It's amazing what a difference a small change can make, isn't it?  As always, I find Erin's comments so helpful!

Let's move onto Would You Read It, shall we?  (Please, have another pretzel hug if you're feeling peckish!)

Today's pitch comes to us from Michelle, who you will remember from her July pitch for Escalators Don't Bite (WYRI #140).  She is a mom, a teacher, and a writer.  She blogs at http://amomnextdoor.wordpress.com/about/

Here is her pitch: (and she did mention that she's still looking for a title that really zings, so feel free to chime in if you've got any brilliant ideas!)

Working Title: Zoo Rules
Age/Genre: Picture Book (ages 4-8)
The Pitch: Miss Knaffle's second graders have a thing or two to learn about their teacher. They think they can get away with feeding coffee beans to the class hamster, or making farting houses during read aloud. Will a trip to the zoo set them straight? When the canny Miss Knaffle enlists zoo animals to her cause, readers will delight in seeing what happens to children who don't follow the zoo rules in this PB cross between Peggy Rathmann's GOODNIGHT, GORILLA, and William Bee's WHATEVER.

So what do you think?  Would You Read It?  YES, MAYBE or NO?

If your answer is YES, please feel free to tell us what you particularly liked and why the pitch piqued your interest.  If your answer is MAYBE or NO, please feel free to tell us what you think could be better in the spirit of helping Michelle improve her pitch.  Helpful examples of possible alternate wordings are welcome.  (However, I must ask that comments be constructive and respectful.  I reserve the right not to publish comments that are mean because that is not what this is about.)

Please send YOUR pitches for the coming weeks!  For rules and where to submit, click on this link Would You Read It or on the Would You Read It tab in the bar above.  There are openings in December so you've got a little time to polish up your pitches and send yours for your chance to be read by editor Erin Molta!

Michelle is looking forward to your thoughts on her pitch!  I am looking forward to (yes, I warned you last week I would probably say this again!) the Halloweensie Contest!  At least 4 people have mentioned here and/or on FB that they have written stories and I can't wait to read them!  I also can't wait until I think up my sample story, because time is running out and I'm getting just a teensy bit anxious about the fact that I haven't even started thinking about it.  Which is shocking, because usually I'm prepared months in advance.  Oh wait.  That's not me.  Okay.  Everything is right on schedule :)

Have a wonderful Wednesday everyone!!! :)


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

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

My plans in June for the rest of the year:

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

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

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

This Week's Most Interesting Ditched Item


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

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22. Chinese reforms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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24. Peter Sohn Named New Director of Pixar’s ‘The Good Dinosaur’

Yesterday evening, Pixar quietly revealed on Twitter that the new director of "The Good Dinosaur," scheduled to be released in November 2015, is Peter Sohn.

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

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

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

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

A lot of uncertainty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on the Agency

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


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