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1. Does my protagonist's story goal have to involve other characters in some way?

Question: Okay, I have this story where my protagonist's story goal is to reconnect with his brother. The protagonist's brother has grown detached with

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2. How to Write Fluidly

Question: I've only just begun to write. I highly doubt I'll write a novel one day but I'd like to try. I know I should write every day to better improve

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3. 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists

In a year of outstanding achievement by Australian writers, today the Government announces the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlists. These awards recognise the role Australian writers play in enlightening and entertaining us, reflecting on our history and taking our stories to the world. Australia’s writers are ambassadors for our stories and our cultural life […]

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4. Adventures in YA Publishing Is Looking for an Interview Coordinator and an Interview Formatter

Hi all,

Due to illness, we are losing our Interview Coordinator effective immediately. We're heartbroken, because Katharyn Sinelli has very big shoes to fill. So big that we're effectively going to split the position in two to make it more manageable for a non-superhuman to accomplish.

Here's what's involved:

Interview Coordinator

1) Check the list of upcoming YA books and enter the title, ISBN-10, author's name and release date into our database.
2) Check contact information for authors, enter to database, and click the send button to generate automated interview requests.
3) Respond to response emails from authors and enter interview answers into the database and into a scheduled post as they come in.
4) Pass interest for WOW Wednesday posts and Craft Posts to appropriate editors

Interview Formatter

1) Check the scheduled Saturday interview posts, bold questions, pull book data from the database and cut and paste into interview post.

What do you get in return?  Be part of the team behind a two-time 101 Best Websites for Writers site. Learn from and interact with great authors. Help set new policy and directions for the site. Plenty of room to make things your own.

Interested? Contact us at ayaplit at gmail dot com! Please include a resume or synopsis of your experience and why you're interested. Please also include a couple of references. : ) Thanks!

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5. An Interview with Elli Woollard, creator of Woozy the Wizard

woozyWoozy the Wizard: A Spell to Get Well written by Elli Woollard and Al Murphy is the first in a new and very funny series of readers for children just gaining confidence in reading alone.

Woozy is a terribly well-meaning wizard who’s keen to help his friends, but more often than not he gets somewhat mixed up and his spells don’t quite do what they’re meant to. With the help of his pet pig Woozy flies around trying to sort things out, and in the process it becomes clear that whilst it may not be magic, it is certainly something quite magical that helps put the world to rights.

Lots of humour, great rhythm and rhyme (enormous aids when practising reading because they help with scanning a line, and predicting how words should be pronounced), and clear, bright and colourful illustrations all add up to a lovely book perfect to give to your emerging reader.

To celebrate the publication of I interviewed the author of Woozy the Wizard: A Spell to Get Well, Elli Woollard, about her work. Given Elli is a poet, I challenged her to answer me in rhyme….

Zoe: Rhyming seems to be in your blood. Where did this passion come from?

Elli Woollard: The thing about me is I sing quite a lot
(I rather enjoy it; the neighbours might not),
And I guess if you’re singing for much of the time
Your mind sort of slips into thinking in rhyme.

Zoe: How does your blog, where you regularly publish poems/works in progress, help you with your writing?

Elli Woollard: My blog’s like a sketchbook for scribbles and scrawls
And all of my mind’s muddly mess.
I write them all down, and sometimes I frown,
But some make me want to go ‘YES!’

Elli on the Dr Seuss book bench that was recently on view in London.

Elli on the Dr Seuss book bench that was recently on view in London.

Zoe: What would your ideal writing location/environment be like and why?

Elli Woollard: A hot cup of coffee, a warm purring cat;
There’s not much more that I need than that.
Working at home is really quite nice
(Except when the cat thinks my fingers are mice).

Zoe: What was the most magical part for you in the process of seeing Woozy the Wizard come to life as a printed book?

Elli Woollard: Writing, writing, is ever so exciting,
Especially when you’ve finished and say ‘Look!
All of my creations now come with illustrations!
Bloomin’ heck, I think I wrote a book!’

Zoe: What tips do you have for kids who love to write poetry?

Elli Woollard: Use your ears, use your eyes, use your heads, use your feet,
Stand up proud, read aloud, and just listen to that beat.
Feel the rhythm, feel the vibes of the poetry you’ve heard,
And think about the magic that’s in every single word.

Zoe: Which poets for children do you like to read?

Elli Woollard: Donaldson (Julia), Rosen (Mike),
Lear (Edward) and Milligan (Spike),
I could go on, and write a long list,
But so many good ones I know would get missed.

Zoe: Thanks Elli! I’m already looking forward to the next outing for Woozy, in spring 2015!

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6. On being a young writer

Being a writer is such a weird profession, with a huge chasm between the hopes/expectations/romantic ideals of what being a capital-W Writer involves and the reality of the thing. Which is not at all glamorous. It's mostly hard work and uncertainty and awkwardly fielding questions about how much money you earn at every social event for the rest of your life.

It's hard to tell whether my experiences of being a writer are specific 'young writer' experiences, or things that affect new writers regardless of age. I think anyone who dreams of becoming a writer, at any age, has a concept of what being a writer will be like and finds the reality of it to be something else entirely. I dreamt of being an author from the age of seven. My childhood was consumed by writing. I got a book deal age fifteen, and my debut novel, Girl Saves Boy, was published the next year. It was thrilling and surreal to see my novel on the shelves of a bookshop, but the actual publication day felt totally normal - there was no real transition to feeling like a proper writer.

I wrote a guest post about my experiences as a young writer and what I've learned along the way, for the Writers' Bloc blog. They're celebrating young writers (under the age of 31) with a series of posts in October, so well worth a read! You can read the rest of my piece here.

(Sidenote: The editor of Writers' Bloc is the lovely writer and book blogger Sam van Zweden, who interviewed me on her own blog way back in 2010!)

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7. Notorious

The quickest way to see your life
Go on a downward spiral
Is doing something stupid and
Discerning it’s gone viral.

A young man lured a local cat
And when it came close by,
He grabbed that feline, flinging it
Way up into the sky.

He laughed and so did all his pals
But someone did record it
And as it traveled ‘round the globe,
Well, very few ignored it.

The perp will get his day in court
But doesn’t really get it.
He’d like to let the matter drop,
Yet nobody will let it.

Oh, by the way, the cat is fine;
He’s found a loving home.
The bully, though’s been vilified –
On tape and in this poem.

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8. ‘Book of Life’ Launches with $17 Million

This weekend the $50 million Fox/Reel FX film "The Book of Life," opened in the United States with an estimated $17 million.

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9. Traveling Bennies

One of the small pleasures I treat myself to is visiting the book stores of every town I visit in my travels if possible.  I figure I’m ‘working’, right?   I was able to visit two on the Outer Banks NC last weekend while visiting and saying goodbye to summer.

One is the sweetest tiny bookstore in Buxton NC…lower part of Outer Banks, very near the Hatteras Light House Point we love so much… good fishing normally and the best beaches! (skunked this year….)  Buxton book store2 (2)

and the second I revisited was the Corolla Light Bookstore in the northern part of the Outer Banks.  (Do visit the Sanderling Resort and Spa if ever near there!)

Corolla Light Book Store

They are so adorably old fashioned..and yet very modern and up to date too.  Just a pleasure all around and remind me how LUCKY I am to love reading as I do and have children’s books be my livelihood !  Work, Work, Work, …..

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10. Judging the Man Booker

       The obligatory 'judging the Man Booker Prize'-piece comes from Sarah Churchwell at The Guardian's book blog, where she writes about The joys of judging the Man Booker prize.
       (I enjoy these, but I'd love it if one year they did get the judge who just hated the experience to spill all the ugly beans about the process.)

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11. fancy cat

A fancy cat for #inktober day 19. I bought a new tip for my Copic brush pen and took it on a test drive...

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12. ONE THING STOLEN: a single copy available to a U.S. reader

I have a single copy of ONE THING STOLEN, my novel about an impossible obsession set against the backdrop of Florence, Italy, available to a U.S. reader.

I invite those who are interested to leave a comment indicating one thing you most associate with Florence—a building, a landscape feature, an icon, a dish, a way of walking, a kind of weather, anything. I will then attempt to write a blog post referencing every single comment.

(I anticipate a mean mind twister.)

The winner will be randomly chosen on November 15th.

Perhaps you wonder why I have just one copy to give away? The answer is that I've been busy creating packages for the many people who helped make this book a reality.

Dr. Bruce Miller, for example, of the University of California-San Francisco Memory and Aging Center, who shed light on the disease that my young Nadia faces.

Emily Rosner and Maurizio Panichi, whom I met in the Florence bookstore, Paperback Exchange, and who helped me understand the 1966 flooding of the Arno and the Mud Angels who came to the rescue; Maurizio's own experiences are woven through this story.

Laura Gori, who directs the Scuola del Cuoio, and where I learned the art of leather working from a master.

Mike Cola, a dear friend and Renaissance man, who talked to me about birds.

Kathy Coffey, who sent, through the mail, the book that I needed, following her own trip to Florence.

My brother-in-law, Mario, who helped me with translations.

Wendy Robards, who read early on and kept me grounded.

My students Katie Goldrath and Maggie Ercolani, who deeply inspired me.

And a few others.

Leaving me with one galley for posterity's sake and one for one of you.

I hope you'll let me know of your interest.

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13. When to Abandon a Book

Now I'm not talking about abandoning a book that you're writing. There's a time for that, sometimes, and that's for another post. I'm talking about when to abandon a book that you're reading. When you're in school, you're required to read books that you wouldn't normally choose on your own. And that's what school is for. To challenge you, to get you to think critically about things you

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14. Limonov review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Emmanuel Carrère pseudo(?)-biographical 2011 prix Renaudot-winning Limonov -- rather desperately subtitled in the US edition: The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia.
       As longtime readers know, I'm not a big fan of biography in any form, and I note with some amusement that my review barely even mentions any of these supposedly 'Outrageous Adventures' Limonov had -- I found and consider them completely uninteresting (and Limonov -- despite some obvious talents -- a vacuous poseur: I can't imagine a less interesting person or subject matter, all noise and affectation). I didn't even notice until after I finished writing the review, but it didn't even occur to me -- though of course it should have: presumably a not insignificant percentage of readers are curious about the book because they want to know about Limonov. But, yeah, I really shouldn't be reviewing biographies -- even if this can also be considered something else entirely (and is much more interesting when considered as such).
       (This is also the second recent prix Renaudot-winner that I've reviewed in less than two months -- Our Lady of the Nile is the other.)

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Friday was a most important day for me and Debbie Levy as we were both presented with the Jane Addams Peace Award for our book "We Shall Over Come", published by Disney-Hyperion and Jump At Sun Press. It was indeed an honor and if you know me, you know I cried. Like a baby. I only wished that my Mother, Father and the rest of my family could have been there. We were hosted so beautifully by the committee and you could literally feel the love in the room. I will never forget their kindness and sweet words to me. Marianne Baker, YOU ARE THE BOMB DIGGITY LADY, thank you Ann, Heather my hostess, Pat and everyone for making the day so very beautiful and special. Tearfully thank you all from the bottom of my heart. A very special thank you to my Sister Coy LaVerne Brantley Curry who wrote my acceptance speech! You are the wind beneath my wings girl. This could not have happened with out your love. Tearfully me. Love you!

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16. keeping my protagonist interesting

Question: I've starting working on a story that I want to write in my spare time, and I've come across a problem that has had me stumped. The premise

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17. ‘Jamón’ by Iria Lopez

José is a teenage pig living in a Spanish town; he is the only pig in his family. One day a new neighbour moves in next door, and José starts to come to terms with who he really is.

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18. Penland Part 2

My one week course covered a great deal in a short period of time. It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time as I felt that I always wanted to be working, both because I had paid a tidy sum to be there and because I couldn't  wait to try out what I was learning. One of the really cool things that Brian demonstrated for us was how he made what he calls, "butter houses" by throwing a cylinder on the wheel and altering it by flattening, cutting and shaping the sides.

We also learned how to use a shur form tool (which I had never heard of before) to shape and thin a clay body. We learned a nifty way to work with slabs, how to finish a cut piece with a coiled rope of clay, how to make and attach handles with out having to pull them (yeah!!), how to use white slip over a red clay body to draw or paint on it to add interest, make spouts for pitchers, construct complex multifunctional pieces and decorate with terra sigilata.

Our studio assistants were a couple of crazy talented guys named Brooks Oliver and Don Reynolds whom Brian kept referring to as Brooks & Dunn, which became the running joke. These guys are both very accomplished artists who were always willing to help, were full of knowledge and just lots of fun to be with. If you want to get into the heads of two very interesting people, read Don's biography and Brooks's artist statement. 

Brooks Oliver

Don Reynolds

For my next installment: the people I met including artists and their studios around Penland

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19. (German) art-in-literature database

       The University of Vienna has put up an online Datenbank literarischer Bildzitate, a database of some 1,500 references to works of art in modern German literature, searchable by author, artwork, artist, and text. (See the search page, which makes it reasonably obvious what's on offer.)
       I'm not sure how comprehensive this is (yet) -- Bernhard referenced specific works of art in only one of his novels ? -- but it's still fairly interesting and even somewhat useful.

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20. 6 Comedy Lessons that Chuck Jones Learned From Tex Avery

In this 1980 tribute to legendary animation director Tex Avery, fellow legendary director Chuck Jones shared six lessons that he learned about comedy from working with Avery in the 1930s. The advice remains essential to animation director working today.

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21. Christopher Yasick: a son leaves the world too soon, a father reaches out from his distance

Remembering an extraordinary young man, lost too soon, a year ago today.

With deepest love and affection for his family.

Sometimes I'd be sitting in Mike Yasick's office at Shire, a client company, and he'd get to talking about his family.

The phone would ring, and he'd lift one finger, check the number, and discover his son, Chris, on the line.

"Hold on," Mike would say to me.

"Hey," he'd say to his son, his face lighting up two additional degrees of bright, which was really something for a man already so fully illuminated. Maybe Chris had some news. Maybe Chris was hoping Mike would pick up some ingredient on the way home to complete the meal Chris was cooking. Whatever it was, Mike glowed. Whatever it was, afterward, Mike would sit, talking about Chris and the rest of his family. It was a favorite topic for a famous raconteur, because Mike may have been a super star in the pharma world, but more to the point, and through and through, he was a purely devoted family man.

The world lost Mike Yasick eight months ago to a rare genetic condition. He was with us, laughing one day, parading his bright red pants, and then—suddenly—he was gone. Imagine the largest Catholic church you've ever seen. Then imagine it filled, wall to wall, with friends and family—mourners—most of them wearing Mike's trademark red. Imagine a small blog tribute—mine—read by 15,000 people. That's how loved Mike was.

Yesterday, Chris, just twenty-five years old, was taken by the same terrible disease that took his father. Another sudden passing. Another terrible loss in the world, an unimaginable heartbreak for a beautiful family. I got the news in the dark hours of the morning that Chris was in the hospital. I got the news several hours later that he was gone. In between, I prayed—so many of us prayed—for some kind of miracle.

Chris was a civil engineer, a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. He was a young man on his way up in a job with Skyline Steel. At his father's funeral he was dignified, one of those people you really hoped you'd get a chance to personally know—his face so much like his dad's, that Yasick sparkle in his eyes. So this is Chris, I kept thinking. This is Chris.

Miracles are so hard to come by. Miracles aren't every day. The disease took Chris. But here are two things that all of us who loved Mike, who mourn with and for his family, will always see as miraculous. On the day that Chris grew so suddenly and terribly ill, Mike's best friends were in town. They had come to town specifically to see Chris, to take him out to dinner, to tell him some stories about his dad. They were there when it happened. They were there for Chris—all night in that hospital, they were there for Chris. They were present.

Just as another friend just so happened to land in Chicago, on his way to somewhere else. He checked his phone. He saw a text from Chris's sister, Katy, he changed his plans, he hurried to the hospital, he was there, too. There.

"I haven't connected on a flight in years," this friend, Matt Pauls, wrote to me. "Why last night? In Chicago? Why were his buddies in town? Because Mike made sure Chris was covered."

Mike made sure his son was covered. As other family rushed to town, as Chris's mom got there as fast as the plane could fly, as the doctors did all they could do, Mike, through his friends, was there for his son. A beautiful thing in a most tragic time, and the thing we will hold onto as we honor Chris.

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22. Cooking the Books

Use the promo code “cookthebooks” and get FREE postage. Offer ends 27th October Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty changed the way people cook and eat. Its focus on vegetable dishes, with the emphasis on flavour, original spicing and freshness of ingredients, caused a revolution not just in this country, but the world […]

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23. Review: A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Title: A Farewell to Arms
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Stars: 4 Stars

Summary: The best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse. Hemingway’s frank portrayal of the love between Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, caught in the inexorable sweep of war, glows with an intensity unrivaled in modern literature, while his description of the German attack on Caporetto—of lines of fired men marching in the rain, hungry, weary, and demoralized—is one of the greatest moments in literary history. A story of love and pain, of loyalty and desertion, A Farewell to Arms, written when he was thirty years old, represents a new romanticism for Hemingway.

Review: The beginning of the book was a little slow for me. But then I started swearing at Miss Van Campen for being such a mean old lady. It's been a while since I've sworn at a book. Some people just can't leave well enough alone. I like Catherine. Maybe I'm just biased on the name tho. :) The end of the book... Seriously just makes me want to cry. Where is the happy ending? Where's my hopeless romance? Why do you have to be so sad and depressing? OK sorry to many questions for a review. Haha. I do recommend this book. 4 Stars!

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24. New Children's Agent

Rachel Brooks from the L. Perkins Agency is looking for fun picture books in addition to novels.


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25. Be inspired.....

Quote of the day:

"To be inspired is great, to inspire is incredible."

We have a wonderful post today from our guest blogger Natalie Finnigan.  Thanks Natalie for sharing your wisdom for our readers today.

Unusual Inspiration

Everyone has heard of books that have inspired them. Normally it is adult books that have inspired you to work harder, aim higher, love more freely, live better etc, but children’s books can be equally inspiring. Many talk of true friendship, the power of doing the right thing, have morals and strong messages. I’ve recently been reading “Hugless Douglas” and have found inspiration in a different way, which got me thinking.

Yes the moral of the book was good (you can have lots of best friends who love you), the story line engaging and the characters cute (my son and I love the flying/bouncing bunnies) but the unusual inspiration came from a more sedate source. The cows! In the story, the cows are making frothy top milk smoothies for all their friends (banana and strawberry milk smoothies) and, like many parents, I sometimes struggle to get my child to eat all of the right stuff - enough fruit/milk/good things. Milk had recently been a problem in our house…until this book. Now Alex loves frothy top milk smoooooothies (strawberry ones at least) but it was the book that inspired him to try them with enthusiasm.
This got me thinking, we look for the morals, the themes, the strong story lines in the books that we’re reading. We like the rhymes, the repetition, the quirks, the illustrations but are we missing another dimension? Do we look for inspiration for activities to try (making milk smoothies), or fun things to do (making gruffalo crumble or mud gruffalo faces in the woods - maybe even treasure maps!), because, if not, we are potentially missing a great source of inspiration for things our children may greet with enthusiasm that they, otherwise, might dismiss.

About the Natalie:

Natalie Finnigan was born in Suffolk, England, and re-discovered her love for writing rhymes after the birth of her son, Alex, in 2010. Having already published two short, rhyming picture books based on three characters (Alex, Dragon and Spider), Natalie is enjoying branching out into other picture books and is currently writing a pre-teen novel to be used as a teaching text for English as a Foreign Language.
Read on and read always!  Get inspired today to do something great.

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