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1. Synopsis 50


Sixteen year old PRINCESS PEGI is a misfit who prefers books to fashions and saves animals instead of hunting them. Her parents plan to marry her off to a suitable prince. Pegi wants to experience life outside the palace walls. On the day of the wedding she escapes into the woods, drawn to the cottage of evil fairy INGENIOSA.

As a baby Pegi had been cursed by Ingeniosa. [Why?] Pegi is to run away on her sixteenth birthday and spend the rest of her life searching for herself. Ingeniosa offers to remove the curse but Pegi sees it as a chance to break free of the yoke that is her royal destiny and chart her own path in life.  [Didn't she just break free from that yoke in the previous paragraph?]

As Pegi begins her quest, Ingeniosa offers her two gifts. The first is a companion – KUMO the were-dog, a mutt who can turn into a wolf at need. The second is a magical cookie which embodies the curse; if Pegi consumes it, the curse will end and she and Kumo will be back in their normal habitats. [You put a curse on someone, wait sixteen years for the curse to take effect, and immediately hand your victim the antidote?] [What is Kumo's normal habitat?]

Pegi’s new life is strange, confusing and full of misadventures. Kumo dismisses her as a silly royal; his superior attitude maddens her. But their relationship evolves as Pegi subsumes her vanity and learns from her mistakes. Mistrust and contempt change into mutual respect and affection, and they become true companions. [This was advertised as a YA book, but the magic cookie and the fact that Pegi grows close to her dog rather than a boy make it seem like a book for a younger crowd.]

When Pegi thwarts a witch hunt, she hears about the TRUTHERS.  [Not clear what that means. Were witches literally hunting, or was someone hunting witches or is this the more common figurative meaning of a witch hunt? I'm not sure we need to know what Pegi was doing when she heard about the Truthers anyway.] There are many groups of Truthers and each group believes it possesses the Sole Truth. [Do all groups of TRUTHERS refer to other groups of truthers as the LIARS?] All of them want to outlaw magic, hunt magical creatures and ban ideas they disagree with. Pegi is appalled by what she hears, but the world seems big enough and the danger remote. She realizes her mistake when she and Kumo try to help a besieged bookseller and witness the Truthists burning books and artifacts considered unacceptable. 

Forced to flee for their lives, they end up in the middle of a desert [It would have to be a pretty small desert to be chased all the way to the middle of it on foot without being overtaken. I was joking in the query when I said she needed a werecamel, but since the dog's ability to become a wolf doesn't seem to be paying off . . . ] [Or the dog could have the ability to change into any animal.] and Kumo begins to ail with a mysterious malady. The cookie is Pegi’s last hope. Eating it will return her to the gilded cage of royal life, but she will make any sacrifice to save her beloved were-dog. [The cookie sends Kumo back to his normal habitat, but I'm not sure why that would cure his mysterious malady.] When the cookie doesn’t work, Pegi is forced to make do without others’ magic. She manages to escape the desert and save Kumo by enlisting the help of a dying dragon, a pair of hungry vultures and a medicine man. [You can hardly claim the cookie is her last hope when a seemingly endless supply of potential allies happen to be in the middle of the desert.] [A living dragon would be more helpful in getting out of a desert than a dying dragon.]

The near loss of Kumo helps Pegi understand who she is and what she must do with the rest of her life. Her precious freedom is useless in a world where books are burnt and thinking is unfree. [It seems to me it's the realization that her freedom is useless that shows her what to do with her life, not the near-loss of Cujo.] She must either accept a yoke worse than her royal destiny or resist in her own way. Kumo says they can still walk away but Pegi knows that soon enough they will run out of places to run away to. Pegi and Kumo head towards a city controlled by the Truthers determined to do what they can, even if it’s just protecting one book, freeing one mind and saving one life at a time


Notes

There are so many people who don't request synopses, it hardly seems worth the trouble to write one.





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2. It's Live!! Cover Reveal: Exo by Fonda Lee + Giveaway (US/Canada)

Hi, YABCers! Today we're super excited to celebrate the new cover reveal for EXO by Fonda Lee, releasing January 31, 2017 from Scholastic. Before we get to the cover, here's a note from Fonda: Welcome to the cover reveal for EXO, my upcoming science fiction action novel. I’m excited to be...

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3. Fish


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4. Scaffolding in Scene

There are two types of writers when it comes to scene, I’ve found. One type takes a minimal approach to the stuff around the dialogue. One uses dialogue tags, adverbs, and narrative to construct scaffolding. If you’ve ever worked with me no a manuscript, you know that I don’t take kindly to a lot of scaffolding. I feel that it distracts from the dialogue, which is the rightful star of scene. It’s usually totally unnecessary. When I see a lot of scaffolding, I often remind writers to trust themselves and their readers. Trust themselves to come across as intended, and trust their readers to pick up on what’s being conveyed.

The point is, if you can’t be clear using dialogue alone, you need to look twice at what’s within the quotation marks, not what’s around them. Take a look at the following examples. The first is dialogue with no scaffolding. I’ve only used dialogue tags twice, one for each character at the beginning:

“Hey,” Sara said.
“What’s up?” Zach asked.
“Oh, you know.”
“The usual?”
“The usual.”

I would say that there’s not enough here. We don’t know enough about the characters, what they’re feeling, or why they’re talking in the moment. So I would say that something needs to be added. But how much something? Let’s say that you want to really convey what’s going on with Zach and Sara. How might you achieve that? Well, let’s add some emotions, tags, fancy “said” synonyms, and choreography. The simple scene can easily become:

“Hey,” Sara snarled.
“What’s up?” Zach said, icily.
She waved her hand in the air, as if dismissing him. “Oh, you know.”
“The usual?” He made sure to roll his eyes.
Quite annoyed, she dropped her voice to a near-whisper. “The usual.”

Well, I would say it’s quite clear now how Zach and Sara are feeling. The dialogue is exactly the same, but now I’ve festooned the scene with all sorts of little extras that clearly tell the reader that Zach and Sara are having some kind of fight. Maybe they’re avoiding one another. Maybe Zach has come into Sara’s coffee shop and she has to serve him but she doesn’t want to.

There’s tension in the scene, I’ll admit. But maybe it’s also a bit of overkill? After all, after reading this, my head is almost ringing from being hit too many times. The writer here (me) is explaining the emotions way too much. “Snarled” conveys anger. Waving a hand in the air is a cliché gesture for dismissing. If that wasn’t enough, the dismissal is also explained (“as if dismissing him”). Eye rolls are another cliché gesture. Then the emotion of annoyance is named, and a tone of voice is introduced that further underscores the tension between the two. We usually only whisper things if we’re trying to be quiet or if we’ve tightened our throats in anger.

The second scene would have too much “scaffolding,” as I call it. Whereas the first scene has not enough. If Zach and Sara were really fighting with one another, there would be no way to tell without some help. You might think that I’m playing the scaffolding up to provide an example, and while that was my objective, I am not lying when I say that I’ve seen scaffolding that thick in manuscripts. And sometimes even thicker scaffolding.

Oftentimes, writers don’t trust themselves to be clear about what they’re saying. And they (subconsciously) don’t trust readers to “get it.” So they go overboard. You will know if you put up a lot of scaffolding because you’ll see that almost none of your dialogue exists “naked” on the page (without any tags or narration).

So what’s the solution? Pare way down. And let the dialogue itself do the emotional talking for you, instead of putting everything in the scaffolding. I’ve changed the dialogue itself to have more emotional energy. You can also use interiority to convey feelings, like I do with a peek into Zach’s head here. This would be my ideal third example, a sort of middle ground:

Sara looked up from the register. “Oh. Hey.”
“Oh.” Zach fumbled with his wallet. He should’ve known her schedule better. Maybe she swapped shifts? This was the last thing he needed. “Um, what’s up?”
“What’s up? What’s up. Really? You know.”
“The usual?”
“Yeah, let’s go with that. The usual.”

There’s a sense of tension here between Zach and Sara, but it’s not hammered home. There’s some breathing room for the reader to wonder what they might be thinking or going through, and it opens the door for more of an interaction than “I HATE YOU”/”WELL I HATE YOU MORE!!!” That’s sort of the tone of the middle example, and you can definitely find more nuance.

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5. Author Chat with Jacqueline West (Dreamers Often Lie), Plus Giveaway!

Today on the YABC blog we are happy to sit down with author Jaqueline West and talk with her about her about her new novel Dreamers Often Lie, which released April 5th, 2016!    YABC: What surprised you most while writing your latest book? I wrote this book between deadlines for my middle grade series,...

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6. FREE TREASURE! (Free Kid's eBook for Kindle)

FREE TREASURE!

TREASURE is FREE today! (May 31st)



TREASURE ON AMAZON.COM
THE BOGGLER ON AMAZON.CO.UK

OR CLICK ON A PICTURE BELOW:

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7. My Thoughts: Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh

4 fulfilling blondie brownies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  I think this cover is very eye catching!

Why I Wanted to Read This:
The synopsis was intriguing to me, it made me want to more as soon as I could so I read it!  Here's the synopsis from Good Reads:
Seventeen-year-old David Sullivan’s life is about to change—all because of one tiny, priceless item found in the murky bottom of a Brooklyn water tower.

Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make rent.

No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the more expensive—and the greater the improvement.

When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.

There’s no question the Gold is worth millions, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.
Romance?: Yes. Sully and Hunter have some good chemistry.

My Thoughts:
This book was a really good read:  quick and interesting.  The author did a great job doling out information slowly, but not too slowly.  Just enough to keep you going to the next page to get more about the world Sully lived in.  The most interesting thing is that this world is one that is everything like ours, except there are these spheres that enhance the people who use them.  There are spheres that enhance hearing or make you faster. Sully is a sphere dealer.  He sells them, but has never used them himself.  However, he is famous because he found the most rare sphere ever, a Cherry Red.  He sold it to a collector for two million dollars, but when this collector "burned" them (you need two of the same color to use them) and they didn't enhance anything for him, he voided the check he had given Sully.

Nobody knows where the spheres had come from, but everyone tries to get their hands on them.  This is a very interesting world the author has created.  There are super common spheres and really rare spheres.  There are books about what spheres can do what and how much the rare ones are worth.  Sully is an expert on spheres so when he meets up with a girl, named Hunter, who wants to hunt spheres with him, he jumps at the chance.  And soon they find the most rare sphere of all, a Gold.  Having this very rare sphere makes Sully and Hunter a target from powerful people who will stop at nothing to get this sphere.

I liked the pacing of this book.  Once the Gold spheres gets burned the information comes quick and I liked how the "climax" of the story is not drawn out page after page.  I also appreciated the ending because I don't mind a neatly tied up finish to a book.  And I know that my middle school readers will appreciate it as well.  This will be a great book to hand to a reader who just wants something "different."

To Sum Up:  I am excited for next fall to get this book into the hands of readers who want something interesting with action but don't want to commit to a series or one with a lot of pages.

Book bought for my school library collection.

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8. Review: Air by Ryan Gattis

Title: Air
Author:  Ryan Gattis 
Publisher:Adaptive BooksPublication date: June 7, 2016

Stars: 3.5

Summary: After 17-year-old Grey witnesses the tragic death of his mother in Colorado, he is shipped off to live with his aunt in inner-city Baltimore, where he struggles to fit in to a new school and community. His new friend Akil introduces him to the enigmatic Kurtis, the leader of a group that uses high-octane sports as a form of social activism. By challenging the police with death-defying stunts and posting videos of them online, Kurtis, Grey, and their group become unlikely heroes in the fight against the prejudice that surrounds them.
As Kurtis takes Grey under his wing, they create a group name, an insignia, and a cause attracting more and more followers as they post videos of their extreme acts. The lines between social activism and criminal behavior blur and their escalating stunts become a rallying point for the underprivileged and disenfranchised around the country, spreading like wildfire across the Internet. How far will Grey and Kurtis go to push their message, and can their friendship withstand their growing notoriety?
Review:Taking a look inside the mind of a 17 year old, Grey, and his friend as they endure a series of questionable events. After many changes in Grey’s life, he finds himself in situations encouraging his controversial behavior via the internet.

As a book intended to entertain, the sequences of action and thrill of the ride as Grey continued to push his own boundaries will keep you hooked. People can connect with a lot of the feelings portrayed by Grey when life hits it’s hard times. Life lessons in this novel being portrayed through the eyes of a young man brings personal nostalgia from a period in time most everyone can recognize as how we learn who we are and where our places in life might be. Bringing in many elements of today’s world, it is easy to remain connected to characters realistic and probable lives. A good, easy read for those looking for a modern novel to entertain on many levels. 

-Alissa

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9. Author Kate DiCamillo Finds Summer Fun at The Local Library

This summer, kids can access great books, go on adventures to faraway places and even win prizes – all at their local library.

Kate DiCamillo, author of Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux and the recently released Raymie Nightingale, appreciates the importance of reading – especially during the summer.

As she visits schools throughout the country, answering questions about her new character Raymie and her journey to conquer remarkable things, she’s also letting kids know that all summer long their local libraries offer great opportunities for summer fun as the 2016 Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) National Summer Reading Champion.

We had the opportunity to talk to Kate about what inspired her to become a children’s author, the importance of books and imagination and which books she loved to read during summer break as a kid.

Your books are very imaginative. Why is important for kids to explore their imagination through books?

Because you find that anything is possible – and the feeling of possibility gets into your heart. That’s what books did for me.

As a kid, I was sick all the time and spent so much time alone. It was super beneficial to read because I was convinced that the things I didn’t think were possible actually were! That’s incredibly important for kids in need, but also for all of us.

DisplaypicYour stories are very relatable for children. Why is it important for kids to see parts their lives in the books they read?

I feel this as an adult reader too. Books give me an understanding not only of the world and other people’s hearts, but my own heart. When you see yourself in a story, it helps you understand yourself.

During my school visits, so many kids tell me stories of how they connect with my characters – Despereaux and Edward Tulane and Raymie. It’s so humbling to see that connection.

And when you see other people, it introduces you to a whole new world. I think of a story I read as a kid, which was actually just reissued, called All of a Kind Family. It’s about a Jewish family in turn-of-the-century New York. That couldn’t have been more foreign to me growing up in Central Florida but I loved every word of it.

Did you like to read during the summer as a kid?

Yes! I loved reading. I could spend all day reading. I’d go up into my tree house with books and sometimes didn’t come down until dusk.

If you gave me a book as a kid, I loved it. I read without discretion.  But I did have my favorites I’d come back to again and again: Beverly Cleary’s books, Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books.

It’s so crazy to stand in front of groups of kids and tell them this. There’s always a murmur of “oh, yeah, yeah! I read that!” That’s the staying power of books.

How can kids access books and learning activities over the summer?

That is the beautiful thing about CSLP summer reading programs at public libraries: it makes it easy for parents, caretakers and kids themselves to access all kinds of materials and activities for free.   The 2016 summer reading theme is “On your mark, get set, READ!” and I think that’s an open invitation to readers of all ages to take advantage of everything their library offers.

Want more Kate DiCamillo? Listen to her talk about the fantastic summer fun you can find at your local library!

The post Author Kate DiCamillo Finds Summer Fun at The Local Library appeared first on First Book Blog.

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10. Farmhouse Flowers

 
I needed a break from the drafting table this afternoon, so took a couple minutes to mess about with a pattern.
I haven't had a chance to sew much this year, which I miss. But if I did, I'm pretty sure I'd turn the above into a sundress, pronto.

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11. Watch The Exquisite Music Video For The Chinese Feature ‘Big Fish & Begonia’

Now we really want to see this Chinese feature.

The post Watch The Exquisite Music Video For The Chinese Feature ‘Big Fish & Begonia’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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12. Featured Review: Return to the Isle of the Lost (Descendents #2) by Melissa de la Cruz

About this book: The sequel to the #1 New York Times best seller The Isle of the Lost Mal's an expert at intimidating her enemies, but she's broken the habit since leaving her villainous roots behind. So when she and her friends Evie, Carlos, and Jay all receive threatening messages demanding...

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13. Pottermore’s Guide to Movie-Making: Shadowing David Yates

This week, Pottermore gave us a look inside what David Yates actually does as Director of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Apparently it’s not all yelling ‘Cut!’ and ‘Action!’ – at least not for David Yates.

A team of Assistant Directors ensures filming runs as smoothly as possible, and according to Pottermore, most of their jobs involve adjusting leads, moving extras and actors around, preparing props and muttering instructions into mics. This team is led by first Assistant Director (AD) Josh Robertson, who usually does all the yelling, cutting and hushing:

“Josh and the other ‘ADs’ do a lot of yelling and a lot of shushing. Volume control is one of their principle duties. And when you consider that a mistimed cough could ruin a scene and cost thousands to reshoot, it’s very important.”

“There are four ADs on set (or, in movie speak, ‘on the floor’) and they all have earpiece microphones that make everything they say sound urgent. On Fantastic Beasts, Josh is joined by Tom Brewster, Danni Lizaitis and Katherine Hingst as second, third and fourth AD. Their names will appear right near the top of the end credits of the film when it’s out – you’ll spot them.”

“To support [David’s] process, the ADs fan out, assume positions at various spots on set and keep that area clean, clear, quiet and calm during and between scenes. They are the purveyors of smooth operation, the enablers of great direction.”

David Yates adjusts cameras to get the perfect shot, gives quiet directions to actors and monitors each shot and how the action plays out on screen. His gentle manner is something Katherine Waterston (who will portray Tina Goldstein in Fantastic Beasts) previously shared insight into David’s inspired style of directing:

‘He has a shorthand and a comfort with the world. He’s not precious with it, he understands what it needs and what it doesn’t need and there’s something really comforting in that.’

 ‘When we’re incorporating things that aren’t actually there, to look at David and know he can see the world is… everything,’

The Pottermore Correspondent adds:

“He is both obsessively detailed-oriented and able to see the whole project as if from above. After directing the final four Harry Potter films, this is his fifth venture into J.K. Rowling’s imagination and he knows the territory well. He just needs a dependable crew to clear his path for him”

Read the full piece here, and Pottermore’s interview with David Yates here!

 

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14. REVIEW: Scooby Apocalypse #1 is What You Feared

scooby-apocalypse-banner-740x431Scooby Apocalypse #1 Plot and Art Breakdowns: Keith Giffen Concept: Jim Lee Script: J.M. DeMatteis  Art: Howard Porter Color: Hi-Fi Letters: Nick J. Nap This past Wednesday saw the publication of Scooby Apocalypse #1, the second entry into DC’s new line of Hanna-Barbera titles reinterpreted for a modern audience. While last week’s Future Quest #1 was business […]

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15. The Safest Lie


Reviewing too many Holocaust books has brought on "Holocaust fatigue" for me, so I don't cover them very often on The Book of Life. However, The Safest Lie intrigued me with its back story of author Angela Cerrito's meeting with Irena Sendler. Angela lives in Germany, but I Skyped with her while she was visiting the United States. The Safest Lie was named a 2016 Notable Book by the Association of Jewish Libraries' Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.


AUDIO:


Or click Mp3 File (28:13)


CREDITS:

Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel 
Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries  
Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band  
Facebook: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast  
Twitter: @bookoflifepod 
 
Support The Book of Life by becoming a patron at Patreon.com/bookoflife!
 
Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or leave a voicemail at 561-206-2473


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16. Wisdom from Veterans


A couple of the guys that go to the diner are veterans, and they love to talk. I sketch them and write down what I hear. 

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17. Pottecast Episode #257: Cursed Child Party at GeekyCon!

We know you have all been waiting with anticipation for the return of your favorite podcasters…and it’s time! There is a new Pottercast available on iTunes. Episode #257 talks about the upcoming fan convention unlike any other–GeekyCon.

Pottercast and Leaky will take part in hosting GeekyCon and its Harry Potter events, including the Cursed Child midnight release party!

Also wondering why PotterCast disappears for long periods of time? Have no fear, the Potter podcasters talk about their plans to get Pottercast back on track again!

Thanks to our amazing listeners for sticking with us!

(If the newest Podcast isn’t showing up in the Feed, refresh your iTunes several times. Go to “My Podcasts,” “Pottercast,” “Feed,” and refresh. For those of you who haven’t subscribed to PotterCast it may take a couple of days for the newest episode to appear on the iTunes page. Sorry for any inconvenience.)

 

 

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18.


Arkansas my Home

©By Mary Nida Smith

The trees of summer
Invites visitors to stay
Beckoning them to sit beneath
Relax along lakes and rivers
Throw a line in, take a cruise,
Dive in for a swim.
Before visitors realize…
They call Arkansas home.


                                          (c) Photographs by Mary Nida Smith


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19. An Oral History of ILM’s ‘Dragonheart’ On Its 20th Anniversary

"Dragonheart," released twenty years ago this week, was a live-action film that had one of the first digital characters you could believe in. We talk to the ILM artists who created it.

The post An Oral History of ILM’s ‘Dragonheart’ On Its 20th Anniversary appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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20. First Look at Harry, Ginny, and Albus in ‘Cursed Child’ Cast Photos

With only a week until the previews begin, Pottermore confirmed the casting of Ginny and Albus in the upcoming production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child–and included a few sneak peeks at the actors (including our new Harry) in-character in new cast photos!

 

_89840310_l-rharrypotter-jamieparker,albuspotter-samclemmett,ginnypotter-poppymillerThis Potter family portrait introduces us to Cursed Child’s Ginny (Poppy Miller), alongside Albus (Sam Clemmett) and Harry (Jamie Parker).

 

HP_19753_Harry_FL

Of our new Harry, actor Jamie Parker, J.K. Rowling says:

“He simply is Harry now. There’s a kind of relief in watching him, he gets it so right.”

 

HP_19966_Ginny_FL

Poppy Miller is Cursed Child‘s Ginny, and portrays a “kind and cool” mother to the Potter clan, according to J.K. Rowling.

 

HP_19889_Albus_FL

Sam Clemmett is seen in his Hogwarts robes in this character portrait as Albus Severus Potter. Clemmett had the idea that the robes are hand-me-downs from his older brother, James, and we think the imagery works well.

 

Of Clemmett’s casting, J.K. Rowling (mysteriously) said:

“There’s much I could say about Sam-as-Albus, but we’d be into spoiler territory so quickly I’ll just say we couldn’t have cast better.”

 

Pottermore promises to reveal more Cursed Child character portraits later this week, and we can’t wait!

 

Visit Pottermore to read more and to see what Parker, Miller, and Clemmett had to say about taking on their newest roles.

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21. Later, Gator! In all of its hardcover, final-copy glory :)




A great weekend of coaching kids at the State track meet was made even better when I came home to find a few early author copies of LATER, GATOR! Its always fun to see the final product and Sterling did such a nice job with all of the little things like color corrections, spot varnish on the cover etc. Personally, I'm also super happy about the patterned endpapers as well -- which extend the story just a bit in important ways for both the beginning and the end.

Give your local bookstore a call and give them a head's up for the July 19th pub date. They can place their order any time. Pre-orders are also available right now on Amazon and just about any place else that you could order online.

Ciao for now!

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22. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 161 - 5.30.16


For Memorial Day 2016.

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23. Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads Week

Welcome to Young Adult Book Central's Top Ten Tuesday post! Each Tuesday we will be hosting a different theme or topic involving all things bookish!!! The Top Ten Tuesday post was originally created at The Broke and The Bookish so visit there site for all the fun details about this awesome meme!!   This week's...

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24. Level Up Your Setting By Thinking Outside The Box

With the Urban and Rural Setting Thesaurus books releasing in just two weeks (June 13th), pretty much all I can think about is the setting, ergo today’s topic. You guys have no idea how much Becca and I are loving all the tweets, emails, comments and posts from all of you about these upcoming books–thanks so much for your enthusiasm and support! 

Okay, moving on… :)

With writers, there seems to be two camps: those who love writing setting description, and those…who…don’t. There isn’t always a lot of middle ground.

Becca is definitely in the former group. She’s freakishly good at world building. Each setting she writes feels like a living, breathing place, yet distilled to have clarity and purpose, so only the most important bits are shown without disrupting the pace or action.

For many, when it comes to describing the setting, the words don’t immediately flow. Some of us (cough-me-cough) tend to write on the leaner side of things, especially early on, and it is only in later drafts we put more “meat” on the setting “bone.”

Here’s the good news: regardless of whether you embrace setting description or not, one way to level up your writing is to think hard about each location you choose. The “where” of each scene is an important factor, and worth the extra time to plan. Here’s two big reasons why:

It Achieves Story and Character Depth

The right setting can greatly enhance our story, providing tests and challenges for our hero to overcome (the Black Gate in The Lord Of The Rings, or the Cornucopia in The Hunger Games), fortify the character, reminding them of their greatest assets (Hermione and the Hogwarts library come to mind) or allow the ghosts of the past to resurface and shape a character’s vulnerability (the sewers in Stephen King’s It.)

lonely1The location can even reinforce a character’s deepest longing (the Notre Dame stadium in Rudy), and act as a tangible reminder of a missing Human Need (The Incredibles’ Bob Parr, an unfulfilled insurance claims adjustor in his cramped office, who needs to be something more, something greater.)

Takeaway tip: When choosing a setting for the scene’s events, look at what is going to happen, and make a list of setting choices that can reveal something deeper about the characters involved. The setting should act as a symbol for one or more of the elements above, bringing forth deeper meaning and making characters and their desires matter more to readers.

It Offers Readers a New Experience

imaginationOne of the big promises we make to readers is that we will take them on a journey that is somehow new and fresh. One way to achieve this is through setting choice. After all, do we really want to show them the same location they’ve read about a million times before? And while genre might influence the range of settings that one might expect to see, this shouldn’t hold a writer’s creativity hostage.

Take the typical party scene, a common sight in many contemporary Young Adult novels. This event doesn’t always have to be at the beach or in someone’s house while the parents are away. Why not have your teenagers sneak into a shutdown construction site or an empty warehouse that’s up for sale, instead? Add some beer, a few spray cans, and the unexpected appearance of a security guard with a stun gun, and you’ve got a unique setting primed for a storm of conflict, plus you’re offering readers something new to experience.

Takeaway Tip: If you start with the scene’s action, make a list of all the obvious places this exchange or event could take place. Then, branch out, thinking about locations that logically fit with your characters’ general location, but offer fresher setting options.

The Setting Thesaurus DuoMake Something Familiar New

Now if you do find yourself using a familiar setting out of necessity, don’t worry. Just strive to make it unique through different factors. The time of day or night, the quality of light, the season, the weather, and the POV character’s emotional filter will all help you transform the location into something tailor made.

Plus, you can turn your setting into an obstacle course to differentiate it further, because setting is also a vehicle for conflict.

one-stop-for-writers-badge-xsmallBonus Tip!

Not only do our two new Setting Thesaurus books have the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and textures of 225 locations to kick-start your imagination, you can find a list of both volumes’ settings at One Stop For Writers to mine for ideas, even if you are not a subscriber of the site.

Simply register (always free) and click on The Setting Thesaurus in the menu. If you are a subscriber, you can access all the entries in full, as the setting thesaurus books have already been uploaded to the One Stop site.

Do you think “outside the box” when it comes to setting? What are some of the more unusual locations you’ve chosen?

Image 1: Antranias@ Pixabay
Image 2: Unsplash @ Pixabay

The post Level Up Your Setting By Thinking Outside The Box appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS™.

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25. Favorites

Each year, as school comes to a close, I like to run some statistics to see how our collection is being used.  I run reports for the top 50 check outs of the school year, and then the top 10 based on format. It would come as no surprise to anyone who has spent any time at my school that graphic novels rule the day.  With 5 active comic book clubs, the format is beloved.  We do have some straight fiction and non-fiction in the mix as well.

Without further ado, here are some of the top 50 with the audience of tweens in mind!

Sunny Side Up, by Jennifer Holm











Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson











A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz












Auggie and Me, by R.J. Palacio












So You Want to Be a Jedi, by Adam Gidwitz












The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy











Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney












The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate












I'd love to know what your students/patrons loved this year!

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