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<<August 2014>>
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1. Makes Me Happy - Summertime!

Ahhh, summertime! With your lovely warm sunshine, lazy beach days, ice cream and lemonade, you really do make me happy. The weather here in Seattle has been so nice this summer with a lot of sunny days, so happiness is in full swing. Listed below are the links to the artwork featured here and to see more Fun in the Sun pieces, please visit my Pinterest page. 

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2. Editors' Panel: Wendy Loggia

Wendy Loggia is executive editor at Delacorte Press/Random House Children's Books.

The theme for this panel is: 3 + 3: Three things your book should include and three things to avoid.

The importance of voice is top on the list for all of the editors on the panel.

For Wendy, when looking back on particular books she's worked on, a one or two sentence description might not sound all that exciting, but it's the voice of the book that draws in the reader and makes it interesting.

What should writers avoid?

Wendy shares a simple tip: make sure you have page numbers on your manuscript. If you'd like her preference, put page numbers in the bottom, right corner.

Avoid telling an editor that your kids or grandkids love your manuscript. They hear this often.

"It's wonderful when I'm partnering with someone who has a clear imagining of how they want their book to look and feel."

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3. Squeetus summer book club: Enna Burning, chapter 21

Enna_BurningLast chapter!

I read through it speedily and didn't stop to write notes. It's often true for me that last chapters come quickly. If I get the rest of the story right, the last chapter usually feels natural and doesn't need as much revision as some. Looking back at my first draft, I'd gamble that the last chapter is the least changed of all of them. Then I go back and spend a year or two revising what came before, trying to lead up to and earn that final chapter.

I started this book years before getting pregnant for the first time and turned in the final draft exactly one week before giving birth to my first child.

My editor, Victoria Wells Arms, helped me hugely to shape this story. She read many drafts over a couple of years and gave me copious notes, which I used to help myself see the story objectively and make it stronger. Some think that editors just look at grammar, spelling, etc. That is a copy editor's job, who comes in at the end when there's a final draft. An editor like Victoria works with the author over the whole writing process and is essential for helping a book be the best it can. No author can work in a vacuum. A good editor makes all the difference. My husband, as always, was also a great in house editor and sounding board. In the acknowledgements I mention T.L. Trent. This is Tiffany Trent (author of The Unnaturalists), who I met in grad school. She read early drafts of both Enna Burning and Goose Girl.

Rachel says, "I loved the ending of Enna Burning; I think the whole 'learning each other's languages' twist at the end sums up the essence of reading. And also, great picture (the other one was great too, of course :)." Yes! It was important for me to make that work. I love themes! Yeah, I got a new author photo. It was time. The old one was several years, hairstyles, and children ago. I finally decided not to be lazy and get a new one when my 7yo saw the cover for Dangerous and said, "Mama, if you put that picture on the book people will think that's what you look like."

Ralsa asks, "If Enna had died at the end of this book, the events of River Secrets and Forest Born would've gone a lot differently, wouldn't they?" Definitely! If they'd have happened at all. I never wrote a version of Enna dying, but I always want to explore every possibility. If a writer always knows there's only one possible ending and considers no others, the text reflects that and the reader can't as easily imagine other endings either.

Thanks for taking this journey with me! This took a lot of my writing time this month so I don't know that I'll do it again, but it was rewarding for me to look back at this book.

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4. Lucia Monfried, Dinah Stevenson: Editors' Panel

Lucia Monfried is a senior editor at Dial BFYR working on picture books, chapter books, and young novels. The picture below was stolen from the Lloyd Alexander film blog, which means BESIDES EDITING JUDY SCHACHNER, LUCIA WAS ONE OF LLOYD ALEXANDER'S EDITORS!

According to a long ago talk by Linda Sue Park, Dinah Stevenson enjoys watching murder mysteries on TV and making dinner, in an alternate universe we are probably soul mates. She's ALSO the vice president and publisher of Clarion Books. The picture below was stolen from Karen Cushman's blog which means BESIDES EDITING LINDA SUE PARK AND DAVID 'THE WEEZ' WIESNER, DINAH ALSO EDITS KAREN CUSHMAN!

Lin has asked the editors on the panel to tell us three good and bad things they see in submissions. Team Blog is going to share one of each category for each editor.

Lucia's Good: The first thing I look for is originality. It is a rare quality and something I think all editors look for.

Dinah's Good: It's very important for a manuscript to have a beginning, not only an invitation into the story, but something that contains the seeds of the ending so it sets up a satisfying journey.

Lucia's Bad: Don't rely on description, show me.

Dinah's Bad: This applies not to picture books, but to fiction and non-fiction, I don't want to see 100,000 words.

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5. Alessandra Balzer and Allyn Johnston: Editor's Panel

Alessandra Balzer is Vice-President, co-publisher of Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Children's Books. She edits everything from picture books to novels for teens.

Alessandra Balzer

Allyn Johnston is Vice-President and Publisher of Beach Lane Books, a San Diego-Based imprint of Simon & Schuster. She publishes books "for all ages and across all genres" with a "primary focus on lyrical, emotionally engaging, highly visual picture books for young children."

Allyn Johnston

The theme of the panel is for each editor to share their three must-sees and their three really-don't-want-to-see elements of a manuscript. Here are highlights of Alessandra and Allyn's comments:

Alessandra shares "I'm a sucker for voice." She needs to see voice, it conveys age, point of view, gender… it all comes through voice, and she must see that.

Allyn Johnson shares that she's looking for the unexpected. "If it has the ability to give me goosebumps" that's a really good thing. She also says that she's not a fan of long cover letters (she'd rather be surprised by the manuscript,)

As far as the what not to dos,

Alessandra cautions that the effort to not be boring can backfire if you overload the start of your manuscript with so much action and sex and drama that it's overwhelming… "introduce us to your characters."

And Allyn says, "Don't be weird." Don't submit your manuscript inside a plastic toy fish - which she s now holding up to prove that actually happened to her! [translation: your manuscript shouldn't need the gimmick to grab their attention.]

There's so much information and insights being shared!

Two last points, one for each:

Allyn Johnston - she asks herself of a picture book manuscript: Is it irresistible to read aloud? It must be, for her to acquire it.

Alessandra Balzer - in talking about having a hook, says, "what hook really means is the ability for the book to stand out." There's so much out there, what's going to make someone say, oh, you have to read this book - and that's yours?

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6. Sarah Davies: Writing and Selling for a Global Marketplace

Sarah Davies is a literary agent at The Greenhouse Literary Agency.

She has deep experience in this business, both as an editor and an agent. For more than 25 years, she was a publisher in London, working with the likes of Judy Blume, Meg Cabot, and Karen Cushman. Her agency, launched in 2008, is based in both the U.S. and London. She considers both the U.S. and U.K. her domestic market, and represents writers in both places, although most clients live in the United States.

Greenhouse's affiliate Rights People is the top seller of international rights in the business. Being international is part of the agency's DNA.  

She gave us a detailed talk about the international aspects of publishing, which she finds "quite exciting." She also walked us through the anatomy of a complicated deal simultaneously struck on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some excerpts from her remarks: 

Why care about foreign sales? 

These sales mean more income for writers. The biggest contenders are Brazil, France, and Germany. Your advance can equal or exceed a U.S. advance. They can also lend prestige and profile.

"Success breeds more success," she said.

Territory is where all negotiations begin, she said. Publishers want as much exclusive territory as they can get for as little money as possible. Her agenda as an agent is different, but there are three types of territorial contracts she can make:
  • One for North American rights (usually U.S. and Canada)  - the publisher can publish in English in those two places, their dependents, and the Philippines.
  • World English language - the publisher can sell your book anywhere in the world in the English language.
  • World rights in all languages. Subsidiary rights are potentially very valuable. There are good reasons for your agent to sell them to your publisher, e.g. if your publisher has a good track record of selling your rights. These count to erode your American advance, which is good for the writer. There are also good reasons to retain those rights, and Greenhouse tries to do just this.
When a sale happens, percentages are divided. If Greenhouse sells for you, as opposed to your publisher, you will end up with a bigger percentage.
In terms of book publishing, all sales play into making your brand and your book bigger, she said. Buzz goes on internationally and nationally. And the book business is a small, interconnected world. 

A book called HALF BAD by Sally Green holds the record for foreign sales: 40 countries before it was even published.

On how books get buzz (a few of her observations):

She told us about some "shadowy figures" known as book scouts who live in NYC and London network with agents to find the hottest upcoming properties. They usually represent foreign publishers and film clients. "They are desperate for early information and hot tips," she said.

Book fairs also spread buzz—Bologna and Frankfurt (which is all books, not just children's books).

Publishers Weekly lists deals. There's a free newsletter you can subscribe. Publishers Marketplace also has a subscription service.
Follow Sarah on Twitter.

Learn more about The Greenhouse Literary Agency

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7. Falafel from Scratch

Falafel mixture

When we were living in Hannover, I became a falafel addict. Might not sound typically German, but there’s a large Turkish population in Germany, and you can buy inexpensive, fresh, delicious falafel (as well as other yummy treats) at almost any corner. The guys at my imbiss (fast food joint) knew my falafel order by heart.

You can get excellent falafel in Charlotte (try Zeitouni), but I miss being able to walk across the street and get it, so I often make it at home. Box mixes are actually pretty good (Far East has a good one) but I’d always wanted to try making them from scratch.

So what’s in there? Dried, soaked (uncooked) chickpeas, onion, parsley, spices.

How hard was it? Well, if you’ve made from-the-box falafel before, it’s really not that hard, but it does require more planning and more cleanup. Big bonus if you have trouble with gluten is that making them from scratch requires no flour, which most mixes have. I find the difficult part is that I want to make all the fixin’s, too, which also take time—yogurt sauce, tahini sauce, chopped veggies.

Since I spent most of my energies on the falafel, I put my daughter to work on the yogurt sauce (she loves this) and dressed the veggies with just a little lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

This time I think my husband was right: I really DID use every dish in the house.

Results: delicious. Was it worth making from scratch? I have to say that, while I loved them would make them again, the box-mix kind are a close second.

Bittman’s recipe here.

Homemade Falafel

Next on my list: making harissa from scratch, and Egyptian falafel. They’re green!

For more of my posts on cooking and food, click here.


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8. An Idea a Day: August 2014

lightbulbGenerating good, usable ideas can be difficult for any writer, new or established. While John Steinbeck may have been exempt (he famously compared ideas to rabbits, saying “You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”), we are not all on Steinbeck’s level. To those of you who can come up with something new and interesting at will, I commend you. For the rest of us, here are 31 prompts for the month of August.

Interpret these in whatever way works best for you. Do each one, or two per week, or five per month, or any number that feels productive for you. If you’d like to, share your links or short-short stories in the comments.

1. You have two characters. One is trying to convince the other that he is telling the truth, but the second character knows the first character is lying. How does this scene play out?

2. Write a short story in which a pill is an object of importance.

3. Tell a story using only letters your characters have written to each other.

4. Use these words: spider, lump, magazine, bread box, asbestos.

5. Sylvia Plath once write that “everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it.” Use your outgoing guts to tell a difficult story.

6. A local woman has just had her first baby. She is on the news because her baby is __________. Fill in the blank and then tell this story.

7. Your first line is: “In this town, everyone is named after an object.”

8. You’ve inherited enough money to retire. What do you do now?

9. A group of friends are walking down the street. They see something unexpected.

10. Your new neighbor introduces himself as La Bamba Flambeau. He is a mild-mannered, middle-aged man.

11. Fill in the blanks to create a piece of dialogue; then, use the dialogue in a short story: “If it weren’t for _________, I would never have _________.”

12. Your character wakes up very late. He thinks it is Monday, but it is only Sunday.

13. Write an optimistic character who is placed in a hopeless, unfixable situation.

14. Two characters discuss their hobbies. Neither is comfortable being friends afterward.

15. Use these words: frenetic, business card, notepad, bagel, walrus.

16. It is 10 years in the future. Write a scene about your character’s everyday life.

17. A poet is in his car when he realizes the lyrics of the song on the radio match the piece he wrote last night.

18. Winston Churchill said “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” Write a kind history for a no good, very bad character.

19. A spaceship has landed safely in the Pacific Ocean and the beings that step out look exactly like all humans… except for one disturbing difference.

20. 100 years ago, medical science eradicated all virulent disease. What is the world like now?

21. In this scene, a phone call derails a quiet dinner at home.

22. You’re a contestant on Jeopardy! Write the scene in which you win the game. Include the topic, answer and question.

23. Write a short story in which a painting is an object of importance.

24. Your theme: Nothing is free.

25. Your character must mail something today, but the universe is conspiring against his success.

26. Use these words: tin, monkey wrench, banner, water damage, award.

27. Your character did something embarrassing in college that her family does not know about. What happens when her teenage daughter finds out years later? When her husband finds out? When the local gossip hears about it?

28. A character is caught stealing. a) Make your reader feel sorry for the thief. b) Make your reader angry at the victim.

29. “This is not what I ordered. It’s moving.”

30. Today is someone’s birthday, but you forgot until just now. This person is very important to you.

31. Write a survival story.

headshotWDAdrienne Crezo is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. Follow her on Twitter at @a_crezo.



Image by ppdigital via morguefile.


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9. Popeyes Show

Here is my Popeyes Show piece.  This piece is watercolor, color pencils on Walnuts Hollow Basswood.  First time, using watercolor on a piece of walnuts hollow basswood ... and realize ... very much like different type of paper ... watercolor performs very differently from one type of wood to another.  It's a fun experiment!!  ^______^
“STRONG TO THE FINICH! AN OFFICIAL POPEYE TRIBUTE ART SHOW,” celebrating 85 years of Popeye the Sailor!  The show is curated by illustrator, CHOGRIN, who has picked over 100 artists from around the world to pay their own unique tribute to the legendary sailor, created by E.C. Segar in 1929.

The show will premiere on September 5th, 2014 at HERO COMPLEX GALLERY (7-10pm)

2020 South Robertson Blvd., Studio D                                             
Los Angeles, CA  90034

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10. Giveaway: Twyning by Terence Blacker (US & Canada Only)


Author’s Name: Terence Blacker

Book’s Release Date: 9/9/14



About the Book

In a harsh and dangerous world, a rat and a boy must each choose their way as their fates become inextricably linked.

Efren is a young rat, unnoticed and timid among the kingdom of rats living in the London sewers. When the king dies, leaving the kingdom in upheaval, only Efren dares to journey into the human world, where he discovers a human doctor’s plan to destroy London’s entire rat population. Meanwhile, Peter, otherwise known as Dogboy, does odd jobs for both the scheming doctor and the town ratcatcher. But his gift for understanding animals — even rats — forces him to decide where his allegiances truly lie. Dogboy and Efren, along with the waifish girl Caz and her pet rat, Malaika, set out to test the strengths of friendship and loyalty against the gut-wrenching cruelties of the world.

Find the book on Goodreads.


b2ap3_thumbnail_photo_20140801-185615_1.jpgAbout the Author

Terence Blacker is the author of numerous books for children and adults and is a columnist for the Independent. This is his first book with Candlewick Press. He lives in the English countryside in a house that he converted from a goose hatchery.

Follow Candlewick Press on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.



Giveaway Details

FIVE winners will each receive a hardcover copy of the book.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

As a child Terence Blacker wanted to grow up to do what profession? 



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11. Bonnie Holmes Skincare: Natural Luxury

August comes around but once a year and we can't wait because August is Bonnie Holmes Skincare Month!! Pamper yourself with Bonnie's spa-quality cremes, cleansers, masques and scrubs. Plus, from now until August 31st, enjoy *20% off her entire line! Now that is luxurious! Can't choose which items to use? We'll give you samples to take home and try out!

Bonnie's gentle skin care line is available exclusively at Chemers Gallery. We even use her products! Karen loves the Original Skin Creme for daytime use, the Super-Rich Creme at night and Perfect Balm all day long.  Jennifer favors a once-weekly exfoliation with Roll-Away Creme followed by a spritz of Skin Refreshment. Shirley prefers Mineral Skin Polish for a quick, deep cleanse and uses the Clay Refining Masque when she wants to slow down and indulge.

Come in and choose your favorites today!

Midmorning: Island in the River
Bonnie doesn't just refresh your body, she also refreshes your spirit with her graceful plein air landscape paintings! Taking inspiration from her travels and the landscape around her home in San Juan Capistrano, Bonnie's oils are softly impressionistic in style.

Join Bonnie and 11 other artists as they demonstrate their artistic talents for you on Friday, August 15th from 5-8pm. Stroll Enderle Center and listen to live classic rock music performed by the Wight Litening Band!

*17% discount if paying by credit card

Lathering Facial Cleanser.....$36
A pH balanced water-soluble cleanser that gently lifts away makeup and impurities from the skin.

Creme Cleanser.....$38
The combination of water, glycerin, wheat germ oil, apple pectin and oils from California oranges makes this the ideal cleanser for drier, more mature skin types.

Skin Refreshment.....$39
Alcohol-free and packed with nutrients in a purified water base, Skin Refreshment restores depleted vitamins and minerals to the skin.

Sheer Skin Moisturizer.....$55
This is the ideal creme for all skin types, but will especially be enjoyed by those with more natural oils in their complexion.

Super-Rich Skin Creme.....$65
Packed with anti-oxidant nutrients to promote moisture and healing, this is creme is suited to drier, more sensitive and mature skin types.

Perfect Balm (previously Eyelid Balm).....$75
The delicate skin surrounding the eyes gets ultimate support and protection from this blend of vitamin e, grape seed extract, aloe vera and evening primrose oil. Previously known as Eyelid Balm, this product has gone from .25oz to 1oz - wow!

Original Skin Creme.....$55
Ideal for skin that's sun damaged or over 30, Original Skin Creme contains an alpha hydroxy acid that increases skin's metabolism leads to younger-looking complexion.

Clay Refining Masque.....$35
Denser than traditional clay masques, the Clay Refining Masque has been specially formulated to dry slower to allow the skin to absorb as many nutrients from the clay as possible.

Mineral Skin Polish.....$45
An ultra-fine pumice exfolient meant for everyday use, Mineral Skin Polish helps to prevent the build up of dead skin cells and leaves your face smelling rosy.

Roll-Away Creme.....$68
A light exfolient that adheres to the dead skin cell buildup on the skin's surface and leaves skin feeling soft and fresh.

Therapeutic Sinus Toner.....$40

Serious Sunblock.....$25
Contains SPF 25 and is perfect for sensitive skin.

Satin Body & Bath Oil.....$49
Almond-scented body oil enhances moisture retention when used regularly while skin is still damp and doesn't leave skin feeling oily.

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12. Giveaway: Monstrous Affections - An Anthology of Beastly Tales by Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant (US & Canada Only)

Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales

Author’s Name: Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant (editors)
Book’s Release Date: 9/9/14


About the Book

Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.

Predatory kraken that sing with — and for — their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side by side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.

Check out the book on Goodreads.

b2ap3_thumbnail_k.jpgAbout the Authors

Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant started a zine, founded an independent publishing house, own two letterpresses, and edited the fantasy half of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror for five years. Kelly Link is the author of three acclaimed short story collections, and her award-winning stories have appeared in many anthologies. Gavin J. Grant has published numerous articles and short stories. They live in Northampton, Massachusetts, with their daughter, Ursula.

Follow Candlewick Press on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.




Giveaway Details

FIVE winners will each receive a hardcover copy of the book. US & Canada only.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries:

Authors Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant edited another similar collection of YA fantasy short stories. What was the title? 


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13. Meg Rosoff: Warning: Peter Rabbit May Be Harmful to Your Health

Sure, sure, sure, Meg Rosoff is well known as an award-winning, kickass teen author

But I knew her first for her gassy, terrible, ornery wild boars.
Illustrated by the world's greatest Sophie Blackall!

But are these wild boars more harmful than Peter Rabbit? Let us find out, since this is the topic of Meg's conference opening keynote.

She starts us off with an annotated, revisionist version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears favored by an increasing crop of psychology professors and scientists (including Richard Dawkins). These killjoys believe that "most fairy tales do not stand up to scientific scrutiny" and that "fairy tales are dangerous." They believe it's pernicious to encourage children to believe in fantasy and the supernatural.

Meg is occasionally tempted to agree with them, and provides a personal anecdote involving her husband, her toddler and eight sets of reindeer prints that happened to appear regularly in her house at Christmas time. "It drove me insane, for one thing, I'm Jewish." She talks about having discussions with her daughter about the existence of God vs. the existence of Santa and then the Tooth Fairy. BUT truly, Meg would never ever give up reading fairy tales to children.

When Meg's daughter got older and was visiting colleges, looking at physics departments, she lamented that she'd never be as smart as the young physics phenoms they saw walking around the campus in their rarely washed Star Trek tees.

"You may not ever be a genius," Meg told her daughter, "But you read books. You know about plot, character, stories. You know about letting your unconscious mind follow things to new conclusions. Reading books strengthens imagination and lateral thinking. A good scientist needs imagination. Reading books may even make you a great scientist."

"Imagination and the ability to tell a story will make anyone better at anything, with the possible exception of politicians and accountants."

"We are 7 billion improbably designed creatures living on a ball made of iron, rock, and silicate floating in an expanse of unimaginable nothingness..." No story we make up can be stranger than the truth of that, Meg says.

Meg talks about reading A Wrinkle in Time, and how parts of it still resonate in her life today, like treasuring your faults.

"The hard core, the engine, the rocket fuel of your life, it's your faults. Remember this when you sit down to write. Try looking at all the don'ts in your life, all the stubborn, angry, unruly parts. Write something that you think no one will buy."

"Do not be afraid to be afraid... We all know writing is bloody difficult, sometimes I hate being a writer. When I get stuck half way through a book, and I always do... when I'm convinced that my career is over... I want to hit my book over the head with a shovel... and bury it in the garden in the dead of night... And marry rich."
Graphic novel version with Hope Larson art!

But when it's going well, Meg admits, it is great. "Writers learn more about the world with every page we write, your job is to write the strongest, fiercest, most subversive tale you can tell. I don't care about the rules. Yes, the imagination can be very dangerous, it can change the world, and that's why we write."

Thank you, Meg!!!

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14. Editors' Panel: Mary Lee Donovan & Julie Strauss-Gabel

Mary Lee Donovan
Mary Lee Donovan is editorial director at Candlewick Press, where she's worked for 23 wonderful years, following a 7-year stint at Houghton Mifflin as well as time as a bookseller at The Children's Bookshop when she was getting her MA in Children's Literature from Simmons College in Boston.

Julie Strauss-Gabel
Her titles include the Newbery Award-winning GOOD MASTERS, SWEET LADIES by Laura Amy Schlitz, Megan McDonald's Judy Moody and Stink series, and the Caldecott honor book JOURNEY by Aaron Becker. They publish everything from picture books up, and have a relationship with Walker Books in the UK.

Julie Strauss-Gabel is the vice president and publisher of Dutton Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. She publishes about 9 or 10 middle grade and young adult titles each year. She just acquired her fourth memoir and is looking for those, as well. Before coming to Dutton in 2002, she worked at Hyperon Books for Children and Clarion Books. Her authors include Ally Condie, Adam Gitdwitz, John Green, Stephanie Perkins, Lauren Myracle, John Grisham, Andrew Smith, and more.

The topic of the editors' panel was titled "3+3: Three Things Your Book Should Include and Three Things to Avoid." Lin Oliver moderated, and questions in bold are hers.

What's on good thing to see in a manuscript?

Mary Lee Donovan:
"I remember hearing voice. What do they mean by that? Voice is something you bring to your manuscript automatically. You want to make sure you are writing as you. Don't try to imitate, or echo another writer or style. If you are writing authentically, you are writing in your voice."

When you get something fresh or exciting, it's like meeting a new person who enchants or astonishes you, she said.  

She recommends writers take their time when it comes to deciding which editors to send a book to. The Internet has a lot of information on editors and their lists that are very useful.

Julie Strauss-Gabel: "Voice is the No. 1 thing I have written down. That you have heard that across the whole table is an extraordinarily significant piece of information. I'm also very attentive to fit, for my imprint and for myself as an editor. I can look at a manuscript and very quickly know if it's good and if it's a good fit for me."

She is looking for something that she can fall in love with and champion for many, many years. She recommends writers read editors' lists, not looking at just the surface things. It's important to remember that you can't please all the people all the time, which is why you shouldn't write to a general audience.

What grieves you when a manuscript comes in?

Julie Strauss-Gabel: "If I don't get engaged, if I don't see the voice, if it's very pedestrian, I'm out."

Mary Lee Donovan: "Don't impart wisdom." 

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15. Lorde to Curate the Soundtrack For ‘Mockingjay’ Part 1

Lionsgate has hired Grammy Award winner Lorde to curate the soundtrack for Mockingjay Part 1. An announcement on Facebook has drawn more than 30,000 “likes.”

Lorde has been tasked with selecting the artists who will be featured on the album. The New Zealand pop singer will also record the first single.

Lorde had this statement in the press release: “The cast and story are an inspiration for all musicians participating and, as someone with cinematic leanings, being privy to a different creative process has been a unique experience. I think the soundtrack is definitely going to surprise people.”


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16. Fireflies

Tiny bursts of neon
Seem to polka-dot the skies,
Courtesy of lightning bugs
(A.K.A. fireflies).

Their blinking lights go on and off
As they go flitting past,
But never in the place where you
Could swear you saw them last.

As charming as they are, I think
Each time I get to see one,
That all things being equal,
I would rather see than be one.

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17. Glenn Beck Praises Walt Disney and Ward Kimball

It's perhaps a mixed blessing that the only public personality who talks frequently about Walt Disney nowadays is the right-wing political commentator/conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck.

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18. Our free e-book for August: For the Love of It


Wayne C. Booth (1921–2005) was the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago, one of the most renowned literary critics of his generation, and an amateur cellist who came to music later in life.  For the Love of It is a story not only of one intimate struggle between a man and his cello, but also of the larger conflict between a society obsessed with success and individuals who choose challenging hobbies that yield no payoff except the love of it. 

“Will be read with delight by every well-meaning amateur who has ever struggled.… Even general readers will come away with a valuable lesson for living: Never mind the outcome of a possibly vain pursuit; in the passion that is expended lies the glory.”—John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

“If, in truth, Booth is an amateur player now in his fifth decade of amateuring, he is certainly not an amateur thinker about music and culture. . . . Would that all of us who think and teach and care about music could be so practical and profound at the same time.”—Peter Kountz, New York Times Book Review

“Wayne Booth, the prominent American literary critic, has written the only sustained study of the interior experience of musical amateurism in recent years, For the Love of It. [It] succeeds as a meditation on the tension between the centrality of music in Booth’s life, both inner and social, and its marginality. . . . It causes the reader to acknowledge the heterogeneity of the pleasures involved in making music; the satisfaction in playing well, the pride one takes in learning a difficult piece or passage or technique, the buzz in one’s fingertips and the sense of completeness with the bow when the turn is done just right, the pleasure of playing with others, the comfort of a shared society, the joy of not just hearing, but making, the music, the wonder at the notes lingering in the air.”—Times Literary Supplement
Download your copy here.

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19. The SCBWI Staff

To applause, Lin introduces the SCBWI staff that makes all this possible…

From Right to Left: Lin Oliver, Sara Rutenberg, Kayla Heinen, Sarah Baker, Kim Turrisi, Chelsea Confalone, Gee Cee Addison Bahador, Brandon Clarke, Joshua Smith and Sally Crock (crossing in front to take a better photo is Lin's husband and SCBWI's conference photographer par excellence, Allen Baker.)

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20. SDCC ’14: Jeff Lemire on creating a new universe in ‘The Black Hammer’

BlackHammer_Promo_LowRes_Final2By Kyle Pinion

In part two of our weekend long discussion with Jeff Lemire, we sat down with him to discuss his newly announced Dark Horse creator-owned title The Black Hammer to find out more about the influences of the title, its potential metaphorical under-pinnings and why he chose to go with Dark Horse for this series specifically.

When you’re getting into a creator owned title like The Black Hammer, I’m sure there’s a sense of freedom due to your direct ownership of the book, but is there a sense of added pressure of finding its audience as well?

I don’t feel a lot of pressure, not really. I just get excited about the idea and want to work on it. I stopped worrying about those kinds of things a long time ago. You just make the books you want to make and people will like it or they won’t. As long as you’re happy with it, who cares?

Why Dark Horse for this particular title? I know you have a new book (Descender) with Image, and all your upcoming work with Valiant. Why was Dark Horse the right publisher for The Black Hammer?

There’s a couple of reasons. I was at DC exclusively for four or five years, coming out of being for only one company for that long, there was certainly a sense of wanting to try new things and wanting to work with different people. Not being locked in with one person or one company again right away. With Dark Horse, one of my best friends is Matt Kindt, and they had done so well with Mind MGMT and Matt was very happy with how that book has been handled so I thought it would be cool to come over and do a book with Matt.

The actual premise of The Black Hammer has been talked about at length elsewhere at a number other sites, so what were some of the influences that led to getting to that point?

Well, the concept itself kinda reveals the influences, its about a group of superheroes who come from every era of comics. And they’ve been wiped out of continuity, and one day they wake up in this small farm and they have no idea why they’re there or how to get back. The influences are all there, you have a different character from each era of comic history that I love. You have a character named “Madame Dragonfly” who is sort of the embodiment of all those great 70’s House of Mystery/House of Secrets horror comics. You can see everything I love growing up is in there, which is kind of mashed with the stuff I normally do in my independent work like in Essex County with a focus on family and small town life. More quiet, character based storytelling. It’s mixing those two things together into something hopefully unique.

Is this the kind of story where the majority of the “super-hero action” takes place in flashback?

I guess you’d call them flashbacks. The bulk of the book is very much their life now, taking place in the small town, ten years after they arrived. They’re trying to live as normal people, a normal family, despite how strange they are and how strange their background is. That’s the bulk of the book, the in-continuity adventures and stuff from their past is just that, they’re vignettes or flashbacks that reveal more about their history and their relationships with one another and things like that.

Is there an ending already in place or planned?

Yeah, I know the ending just like how I knew Sweet Tooth was going to end. I knew the last page of that and I know the last page of this as well. But between the beginning and the end, it’s very fluid. There’s a lot of room to explore different things along the way. So, I know the end-point, but how long the whole series will be, it’s hard to say.

Is it a great amount of fun to write in different character voices from different eras?

Yeah, it’s definitely fun, but there’s also a balance…I had to experiment a bit. When I’m writing something from the 30’s, do I go full-on and try to emulate the writing style completely and go pastiche or do you adapt the sensibilities of that with a more modern voice? I just tried to find a balance there.

Is there any metaphorical material that you’re looking to mine into, ala Kingdom Come?

There is that, but I don’t really want to talk about it…it’s not a spoiler thing, but my thoughts and feelings on superhero comics will probably become pretty clear by the end of this, so we’ll just leave it at that. There’s stuff I love and stuff I don’t, I have opinions. There’s certainly a commentary about the state of the industry. It’s pretty blatant. But also, I have a love that stuff, for all of comics history, and I think this is a pretty sincere love letter to comics as well. It’s not just satire or commentary, it’s me kind of trying to show all the stuff I used to love to read.

You’ve had this idea for quite some time right?

It’s funny, this project has been gestating longer than anything I’ve ever done. I finished Essex County and I started working on this. You’ll be able to see the influence of Essex County in it right away, it very much is Essex County but with super-heroes. I’m not ashamed to say, that’s pretty fun to write. So that was about 2007-2008 when I started working on it, and I was going to draw it as a graphic novel. Then I started to work with Vertigo and DC and my career kind of took off doing other things like Sweet Tooth, and now I’m working on new things that I’m drawing myself. So, it just became obvious that this was something that I really wanted to do, but that I wouldn’t have time to draw the whole thing myself and that was part of the decision to come to Dark Horse and find an artist like Dean.

What does Dean bring to the book that is different from what you would have done had you drawn it yourself?

It’s very different, I met Dean at Thought Bubble, a festival in the UK, about two, maybe three years ago. But I had known his work before that, I followed his work at Vertigo and was a fan. I really admired his stuff, I felt it was very graphic, very bold style. He also has a sense of strangeness, like he can draw monsters, but with a strange humanity to them. I thought it would be interesting to filter superheroes through that strange dark voice that he has, I knew it would be unique and that it wouldn’t look like a normal super-hero comic. It would look like a strange super-hero comic. It can’t just be a thing I’m emulating, it needs its own voice for sure.

When we see the flashbacks, will different styles emerge?

We’re still very much in the process of deciding how far we go with that. How do we use color? Does he completely alter his drawing style for each era? So those are the creative things we’re sort of in the process of working out. I’m not sure what the answer is yet, as I’ve written two scripts and he’s still in the design stage. We’ll see how it plays out.

Having spent so much time at DC under your exclusive, you’re now spread amongst several different universes per se, is that an overwhelming feeling at all?

It’s fun, I love DC. I grew up reading DC and I have nothing bad to say about my time there. They treated me really great. There’s stuff I’m proud of and stuff I’m not so proud of. That just comes with doing a lot of stuff. It’s cool to play in new playgrounds like the Valiant stuff with new characters and a much smaller universe that I wasn’t familiar with. It’s brand new to me, so that’s fun. And, with this book, I’m creating my own comic book universe that is a combination of my own sensibilities and pulling things from history. It’s not so much overwhelming as it is fun. It’s fun to have fresh starts, new people to work with and new things to play with.

And The Black Hammer is coming in February 2015?

I believe March.

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21. GOING OVER: On the Amazon 100 Children's Books to Read in a Lifetime

It feels awkward to ask for your help, but today I do.

Going Over (my agent, Amy Rennert, learned) is currently listed as an Amazon 100 Children's Books to Read in a Lifetime, along with the Harry Potters, Goodnight Moon, and so many great classics.

The list is active, updated through voting. You can do that, easily, here.

Your vote would mean the world.

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22. Poetry Friday - A review of On the Wing

Douglas Florian is a poet and artist who has created poetry picture books that explore a wide variety of subjects. Over the years I have greatly enjoyed reading these books, and it is interesting to see how he applies his considerable talent to take on a new topic that interests him.

Douglas Florian
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Harcourt, 1996, 978-0152023669
Birds truly are remarkable animals. They come in a dazzling array of colors, live on every continent, and make their homes in all kinds of places. In this wonderful picture book Douglas Florian pairs short poems with his artwork to give readers a true celebration of birds.
   Over the millennia birds have evolved to suit many kinds of environments. Some birds, like the egret, sail on water and then rest on the beach making it seem as if there is a “feathered hat” lying on the sand. Dippers love to dip and dive in waterfalls. They are so aquatic that one wonders if they would be happy to “trade / Their oily wings for flippers.” They are such good swimmers that it is possible that the little birds might “think that they are fish.”
   Birds come in all shapes and sizes. The spoonbill is tall and thin with a beak that does indeed look like a long-handled spoon. In his poem about this rather odd looking species, Douglas Florian wonders if the spoonbill uses its bill “for stirring tea” or does it “use it as a scoop / For eating peas and drinking soup.”
   The stork has a bill that is perfectly suited for the environment it lives in. Wading through shallow water, the bird uses it rapier like bill to stab frogs and other creatures. Woodpeckers also have beaks that are perfectly adapted so that they can get to their chosen food - insects that live in wood and sap that runs through wood. Not only are these beaks perfect for creating holes, but woodpeckers also use them to communicate.
   With clever touches of humor and insightful descriptions, this collection of poems will give young readers a colorful picture of twenty-one bird speci

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23. The Editors' Panel!

It's starting!

Lin moderating the editors' panel!

And some close-ups!

Left to Right: Alessandra Balzer, Mary Lee Donovan, and Allyn Johnson

Left to Right: Allyn Johnson, Wendy Loggia, Lucia Monfried, and just a bit of Dinah Stevenson

Left to Right: Dinah Stevenson and Julie Strauss-Gabel

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24. Impact character and other questions.

Hello there! I'm here for another question (or questions), if you don't mind. In the middle of my story, the protagonist (the one in pursue of the story

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25. PEN America on Kickstarter

PEN Center USA hopes to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter to help increase funding for its literary fellowship Emerging Voices.

The organization will use the money to help increase its general operating budget and pay for the cost of books, event space rentals, transportation and printing costs.

The fellowship has been around since 1995 and has supported 119 authors. Here is more about the organization from the Kickstarter page:

PEN Center USA initiated Emerging Voices as a literary mentorship program designed to launch potential professional writers from minority, immigrant, and other underrepresented communities. The program has now evolved into an eight-month writing fellowship for writers who lack access to a traditional writing education for those who seek financial and creative support.

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