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1. Festival Call for Entries: Annecy, Zagreb, Melbourne

Our new Animation Festival Guide is a hand-picked list of calls for entries from respected festivals around the globe. This week, we add three new calls for entries from Annecy, France; Zagreb, Croatia; and Melbourne, Australia.

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2. Friday Linky List - November 21, 2014

Ferguson 'Hands' Together: Artist Aims to Unite Community at NBC. How's THIS for an argument to fund the arts? Art isn't just to make our world more pretty - it can be a movement for peace. YES!

From Emma Dryden's Our Stories, Ourselves: The Entrepreneurial Spirit: "Dare Greatly!" The Road from Reformed Lawyer, Investment Banker, and Mother of Three to Author and Publisher - the story of MY publisher at LITTLE PICKLE PRESS. (After you read, you'll understand why I chose to go with LITTLE PICKLE PRESS!

From Bustle: In Case You Forgot, William Steig is One Of Your Absolute Favorite Picture Book Authors From Childhood

From Pub(lishing) Crawl: A Reminder to Actually Write by Susan Dennard

Also from Pub(lishing) Crawl: Expectations vs. Reality by Jodi Meadows

At Emu's Debuts: So, how's the book doing? by Laurie Ann Thompson - fellow EMLA peep!

From BuzzFeed Books: 19 Unbelievably Laughable Book Fails - HA!

At the NY Times: On Elite Campuses, an Arts Race - and yet with no focus on the arts in the lower grades. Hm.

From PW: AAP, Authors Guild Discuss Author-Editor Process - interesting

Neil Gaiman via Shelf Awareness: 'Closing Libraries is Endangering the Future' (!!!)

At Nerdy Book Club: It's Okay to Write Terrible Stories by Julie Falatko - every beginning writer should read this!

From Forbes: 27 Pre-Written Templates For Your Toughest Work Emails - Hmmm! (Until they start showing up everywhere.)

In light of Tuesday's announcement, at Houzz: 10 Steps for Saying Goodbye to Sentimental Objects

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3. Jasper and the Magpie - a book review



Quote of the day:

"But you know me. I'm an information magpie, always interested in shiny bits of intel.  I've never gotten in trouble because of knowing too much."  - Tim Pratt


Featured book today:




Author:  Dan Mayfield
Illustrator:  Alex Merry
Age:  6+

Ta Da - here's what's inside!














About the book:

This special book helps family and friends get a deeper insight into the uniqueness of those on the spectrum.  It is a story of accepting and embracing the unconventional interests of others and giving them your blessings.  

Jasper is a little boy who likes to collect shiny things.  He seems obsessed with it from his mom and dad's perspective. Luckily both his grandmas support him wholeheartedly and when his birthday arrives his parents have a change of mind.  They decide instead of worrying about Jasper's idiosyncrasies, that perhaps Jasper may be odd or weird, they accept his love of shiny things and package up the perfect birthday gift to give to him ... guaranteed to put a huge smile on his face.  Jasper not only is the recipient of an amazing material gift from his family but an even greater gift ... a gift from their heart.  They bestow unconditional love to their special little boy by working with his "shiny" interests thus enriching the whole family and bringing them closer together. 

The illustrations and the story are both delightful and the message very important.  Both parents and children will love to share this book together.  



About the author:

Dan Mayfield is a writer and musician who has worked with people of all ages on the autism spectrum for over 12 years. His work continues to influence his ideas around what we as a society deem to be 'normal', and he has written this book to explore the importance of accepting other people's differences. Dan lives in London, UK.






Book Review Rating:  8 (Fantastic!)

Read on and read always!

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4. ABA to Take On the Operations of the ABFFE

abfe logoThe American Booksellers Association (ABA) will handle the operations of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE).

Here’s more from the press release: “As was the case when the Association of Booksellers for Children (ABC) voted to become part of ABA in 2010 as the ABC Children’s Group, ABFFE will become a distinct group within ABA, the American Booksellers for Free Expression Group at ABA (ABFE), beginning January 1. The ABFFE board will be reconstituted as the ABFE Advisory Council.”

According to this new agreement, ABFFE President Chris Finan will be appointed group director for the ABFE. The ABA has designated all of its members as official supporters of the ABFE. Every single indie bookstore with an ABA membership will receive a sticker advocating for free speech and a subscription to a new monthly newsletter called “Free Speech Report.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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5. Have We Learned Nothing

Have we learned nothing from the recent news about authors trying to get rights back from their publishers? Authors who signed contracts without an agent, a lawyer or anyone paid to protect the author's rights?

As I'm sure some of you have heard I'm not always that fast on queries or partials. I can be really good at times, but throw in a week off, an influx of queries or clients who need me to read their works and I lose ground fast. Recently I heard from an author whose manuscript I had (for about 4-6 weeks). The author had received a contract from a publisher and, in her words, "didn't need an agent's help."

I'm an agent. Of course I'm going to tell you that you need an agent, but I'm telling you that not because I'm dying to get my 15% of what can often be very little, but because I've seen too many authors make career mistakes because they wanted to save that 15%.

These are the authors who find their books trapped with a publisher because they signed a contract without any sort of rights reversion or out of print clauses. I've seen authors who signed contracts which basically calls anything else they could write in their professional expertise competition. In other words, they can only write the one book they wrote. I've seen authors sign away copyright without even realizing it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that while I see why you might want to hold on to that 15%, I have a sneaking suspicion that in the long run you're going to end up paying far more by not giving up 15%. If that makes sense.

--jhf

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6. Artist of the Day: Rony Hotin

Today we look at the work of Rony Hotin, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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7. New Beginning 1033


They say bad news rides a fast horse.

No one said anything about it riding a dead one, and the black destrier Kaelyn's uncle rode toward her had died two years ago.

Her uncle crossed the pasture as if he knew exactly where she was even though the copse of cedar shielded her from the road. She continued to watch him steadily approaching while her mind ticked down a list of things she had eaten that might cause hallucinations. Surely it had to be a horse that only looked like Cherline, but it traveled in that same rare and easy gait her uncle loved.

The ewe beside her flicked her ears nervously and followed Kaelyn's gaze towards the nearing hallucination, then anxiously nudged Kaelyn's leg, reminding her of the lamb tangled in the witchberry vines at her feet. Kaelyn knelt back down and finished cutting him loose. The lamb started nursing immediately; seeking comfort in his mother's painfully distended udder, but the ewe remained fixated on the approaching rider.         

Uncle Kael reined his horse to a stop in front of her and stepped down. The ewe backed up, stamped in apprehension and then bleated, leapt and bounded away with her youngster. 

"I thought I'd find you out here!" Uncle Kael bellowed, and Kaelyn's eyes widened even more as a grin spread across his face. "Surprised?"

"Th-- That looks just like--"

"Yes!" Uncle Kael slapped his hand against the horse's rump and Cherline turned and nuzzled against him. "Essentially, it is! My cloning experiment worked! It's as if she never died!"

"Oh my God," Kaelyn exclaimed. "Can you clone anything?" Kaelyn thought about her Irish Setter, gray about the muzzle and unable to stand. "Will you clone Kallie?"

Uncle Kael's grin faded, and he looked at his niece with a serious face. "I don't know about that, Kaelyn. You better ask your mothers."

Opening: Julie Weathers.....Continuation: Anonymous

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8. an interview with yours truly

Mabry coverAuthor Richard Mabry has posted an interview with me in two parts: the first is here, the second here. Many thanks, Richard. 

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9. Flogometer for Elizabeth—are you compelled to turn the page?

Submissions Wanted. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.


The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins connecting the reader with the protagonist
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • What happens is dramatized in an immediate scene with action and description plus, if it works, dialogue.
  • What happens moves the story forward.
  • What happens has consequences for the protagonist.
  • The protagonist desires something.
  • The protagonist does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question—what happens next? or why did that happen?

Elizabeth sends a first chapter of Ace. The rest of the chapter follows the break.

Winning was all that mattered now.

Fife kept her fingers busy. Flicking the pages would bring too much attention, so she traced the leather cover instead. If they stopped for a moment her fingers would hold her nose... or begin to shake uncontrollably. She wanted neither. 

They smelled like animals herded into a pen. Well, technically it was the Administration Room. It didn’t matter what you called it, though, the names all meant the same. Fife’s personal favourite was The Gauntlet. She was stuffed in the corner of a largish hallway with yelling students all around her. Calling them bloodthirsty might be taking it a little too far, but still, The Gauntlet’s name fitted rather nicely.

“Form two lines, in alphabetical order according to first name.”

Fife slammed A Collection of Fairytales closed. She jumped to her feet too fast and black dots swam into her eyes. She elbowed through the crowd, ignoring the glares shot from behind. She really didn’t need a headache now. It could sabotage everything.

She took her spot in the line. With arms folded she rocked on her heels and wished, not for the first time, that her name wasn’t so close to the top of the alphabet. Not only was there more shoving up here, but she’d have to perform first.

Headmaster Bullwarn faced the first student and Fife glanced to the entrance. Some of (snip)

Were you compelled to turn Elizabeth's first page?

Good writing, and we’re starting with an immediate scene, which you know I prefer. I think I might have fared better if the scene had been set for me up front. And, for me, this narrative has clarity issues. Not least among them are what I call “information questions” (dealt with in the new book): they are references in the narrative to things that the reader doesn’t and can’t know but that knowledge is key to understanding what the narrative is saying. Lastly, the one kind of question I don’t see is a story question. Maybe it is whether or not she is going to win, but I don’t have a clue as what she’s going to have to do to win or what the consequences of losing are. Notes:

Winning was all that mattered now. Winning what? It would help the reader connect if she knew what was being referred to. I call this an “information question” that often leaves a reader in the dark. What happens to the character if she doesn’t win? What are the consequences, the stakes? What does she desire/fear?

Fife kept her fingers busy. Flicking the pages would bring too much attention, so she traced the leather cover instead. If they stopped for a moment her fingers would hold her nose... or begin to shake uncontrollably. She wanted neither.  Unclear as to the antecedent for “they.” It’s her fingers? And they could independently decide to hold her nose? I found this paragraph confusing.

They smelled like animals herded into a pen. Well, technically it was the Administration Room. It didn’t matter what you called it, though, the names all meant the same. Fife’s personal favourite was The Gauntlet. She was stuffed in the corner of a largish hallway with yelling students all around her. Calling them bloodthirsty might be taking it a little too far, but still, The Gauntlet’s name fitted rather nicely. Another antecedent issue: who is the they? I’m assuming it’s not the fingers, but who? And then there’s the “it,” which seems to be a room but she thinks of it as a gauntlet? I don’t think a room can be a gauntlet. The lack of a sense of the scene before we get to this point, of where we are, is limiting my understanding and involvement.

 “Form two lines, in alphabetical order according to first name.”

Fife slammed A Collection of Fairytales closed. She jumped to her feet too fast and black dots swam into her eyes. She elbowed through the crowd, ignoring the glares shot from behind. She really didn’t need a headache now. It could sabotage everything. What is “everything?” Is it important to Fife? It won’t be important to the reader unless she knows what “everything” refers to. Another “information question.” If the reader doesn’t know what the words refer to, then they are, essentially, meaningless. Why would you want to have meaningless narrative on your first page?

She took her spot in the line. With arms folded she rocked on her heels and wished, not for the first time, that her name wasn’t so close to the top of the alphabet. Not only was there more shoving up here, but she’d have to perform first.

Headmaster Bullwarn faced the first student and Fife glanced to the entrance. Some of (snip)

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.

Ray

Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Flogging the Quill © 2014 Ray Rhamey, story © 2014 Elizabeth

 

(continued)

the late ones were arriving. The ones with more pluck than necessary. But Ella had none of that. Even Fife didn’t. She bit her lip, and the scab came clean away. She swore quietly and dabbed at it with the sleeve of her blazer. The blood slowed a little, but not before dripping onto her pants.  

“You seem bent on massacring you lips,” Fife started at the soft voice, “You will get marked down for that if you are not careful.” Ella stared at her, a box cradled in arms. Two thin brown plaits hung down her front, tied with red ribbons.

“Who do you think drove me to such insanity? You show up moments before you are kicked out for being late,” Fife said. She raised an eyebrow at the box, and her tone lowered, “Finally?”

“Yep. I was late finishing it. I’m sor-”

 “Forget it,” she said. Fife figured she’d been too harsh, but there wasn’t time for niceties.

Ella poked her arm beneath the lid and fumbled for a moment, “Here it is.” She passed a bundle of black fabric to Fife. She didn’t bother eying it over. If she stopped to take a look, Headmaster Bullwarn would too.

“Thank you,” she murmured, tucking the costume beneath her arm. Ella took her position in front of Fife and they both faced blankly ahead. Fife was in certain danger of smiling as she noticed the other girl’s head barely came to her shoulder. She was too young for this stuff. So it had been a fair deal.

“Do you think I’ll do ok?”

“Yeah, I taught you what I knew.”

“But what if I don’t dance right during the performance?”

Fife spoke so her lips barely moved. “You will be fine, Ella. You danced well during our morning practices.”

Those practices had been Fife’s only human contact during the last semester. She would have evaded people entirely had it not been for the gain she had got from her end of the bargain. Ella had no talent in performances whatsoever, just as Fife couldn’t raise a needle without pricking herself. Part of her felt concern for Ella’s safety, but she couldn’t allow that. She had enough issues to worry about now without someone else’s. The Electroines would punish them both if they were found to be helping each other.

Bullwarn drew level with Ella. Fife froze up at the gleam of light on the metal bones. His frame was a skeleton, really, save for the blank slab of curved metal that served as a head. But what always unnerved her most was the throbbing heart inside a cage of ribs.

Turned out they were just Controlare officials. But there were enough rumours to make Fife question her sanity about creeping into the Library to practice every night. She’d never gotten used to them.

Then Ella was walking away from her. Fife started forward, but stopped herself as the little girl glanced over her shoulder. The huge brown eyes brimmed with fear. Fife managed a smile.

“Name?” Bullwarn’s voice had risen in case she was deaf. Fife jerked and stared at him. He asked a third time. “Name?”

“Fife.”

“Age?”

“16.”

“Division?”

“Dance.”

“Right. You are admitted.”

“OK.”

Bullwarn had registered the next three students before she remembered she needed to move.

The next corridor ran in huge lengths on either side of her. A corridor before a line of cubicles. Few had been taken, but Fife jogged to its end before selecting the furthest. She slammed the door shut. The floor fell hard on her kneecaps as she buried her head in her lap.

She didn’t look at the black material she dragged it on. She rarely did. Ella had good taste, and a better hand at sewing. She trusted that. When she finally stood with trembling legs, there was a cloak attached to the costume’s wrists as Ella had promised. They draped on either side of her, like flightless wings.

Flightless.

Her stomach had given up flipping. It was too exhausted. It only throbbed now in an effort to keep the vomit from rising.

This wasn’t like before. She’d tried convincing herself otherwise, but now she saw the lies for what they were. Last year’s winner had been carted off to the Controlare. She had no idea what happened to the kid after that, but she didn’t care really. This time she could win. She could leave the Institution, and the Electroines and the others and Ella. She would see the Outside- and the stars she had read about so often.

Because this year she was first ranked.

But her Library would be left here, along with all her books. Fife flipped open A Collection of Fairytales. The inside cover was scrawled with her name. Swarming with it. The shaking hand that had inscribed the words with the ballpoint pen was long gone now. Four years gone.

Fife. My name is Fife.

That was when she remembered her name. But when she read the stories inside she remembered who she was. Until then, all she’d been was a bed full of feverish limbs. She couldn’t leave that book now. Not when it had most likely saved her life.

Even if the costume had no pockets, Fife always crept back a couple of days after her performance to retrieve it. And to mock her fear. But once she won this thing, she’d be taken immediately from the Institution.

Fife looked up from the leather cover. She secured the black mass of her hair with gold wire, and hoped no one would notice her incompetence at hair styling. All she saw now were her eyes. Her left eye blue, her right a searing yellow. She tried to train some form of confidence into them, but gave up with a huff.

They’d all notice. The million pairs of eyes that scrutinized every cell in her body would notice. They would type it all on their little black keypads.

She was about to restyle her hair when the opposite wall of the cubicle swung open. Soundlessly. No one had prompted it. At least, it had never seemed so. Fife stared at the space for a while. She should walk now before she snapped.

But then she saw the mask. It lay on the floor, fallen from the bundle of clothes. Its left side was gold wire. Its right side was blue wire. The opposite of her eyes. Ella had messed up the sides. Fife lifted it to her face, feeling it mould to the curves of her nose and too-stark cheekbones. The elastic fastened with a dull thwack

She looked forward. Always forward. Her feet were lumps of meat as she walked from the cubicle. The room was bare on all sides. All white. Her composure shattered and she glanced over her shoulder.

The door had already closed.

Fife’s bare feet froze on the white concrete. She only felt blank now. Perhaps that was worse. But she didn’t care as she reached for the Grand Theatre’s door. Her fingers moved in fractions, each strain of muscle another quiver, until she felt the smooth wood of a handle under the pads of her palm.

A mechanical voice. A voice incapable of feeling. A voice that knew nothing of this damned performance.

“Fife is summoned to the Grand Theatre.”

Fife lifted A Collection of Fairytales on impulse. She’d never kissed anything before, but the word came to her mind with its meaning. Unsummoned. As if she had known it all along.

She kissed the highest branch of the leather tree. Encased with fire. She let the book slip to the concrete. The reek of oldness made her grimace.

She twisted the knob. Every joint in her shoulder strained as she wrenched the door open.

Her world incinerated.

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10. Wise grandfather fox

The wise counsel of grandfather fox is the theme of this page from a new book.  I liked how the woodsy setting reminded me of a russian folk tale somehow.

John Nez

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11. NCTE CLA Master Class: Poetry Across the Curriculum

While attending the NCTE conference, I’ll also be participating in the annual “Master Class” coordinated by the Children’s Literature Assembly of NCTE (such a great organization). The focus is poetry across the curriculum and I’m responsible for the social studies area. I’ll be sharing sample poems, teaching tips, and activity suggestions. Sharing poetry in the context of social studies is a natural given the topics that make up this content area. The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Curriculum Standards quickly reveal the poem connection possibilities with Thematic Strands that focus on culture, people, places, identity, government, technology, society, and civic ideals. Here are the bare bones of my presentation. (We were charged to come up with only 5 examples in each category-- because I would have shared way more than 5, if possible!)

CLA Master Class: Poetry Across the Curriculum
SOCIAL STUDIES AND POETRY

5 GREAT SOCIAL STUDIES POETRY BOOKS
  1. Corcoran, Jill. Ed. 2012. Dare to Dream… Change the World. San Diego, CA: Kane Miller.
  2. Engle, Margarita. 2008. The Surrender Tree. New York: Holt.
  3. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2008. America at War. New York: McElderry. 
  4. Myers, Walter Dean. 2011. We are America; A Tribute from the Heart. Ill. by Christopher Myers. New York: HarperCollins.
  5. Singer, Marilyn. 2013. Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents. New York: Disney-Hyperion.
5 SOCIAL STUDIES-TEACHING TIPS
  1. Talk about “Today’s Document” at the National Archives (at Archives.gov).
  2. Create “found” poetry from news articles.
  3. Examine facsimiles of primary source documents (at Jackdaw.com).
  4. Use Google Maps to locate places you’re reading about. 
  5. Look at children’s books in different languages from around the world at the International Children’s Digital Library.
5 SOCIAL STUDIES TEACHING WEBSITES
  1. National Council for the Social Studies 
  2. Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
  3. Social Studies Central
  4. History is Elementary 
  5. The History Channel 
5 SOCIAL STUDIES POEMS ONLINE


Look for “Ten Poetry Collections for Social Studies Not to Be Missed” in Poetry Aloud Here (Vardell, 2014) as well as lists of poetry collections organized by topics such as Presidents’ Day, women’s history, U.S. history, world history, war and peace, plus multicultural and international poetry booklists in The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists (Vardell, 2012).

Others will be presenting parallel examples in the areas of math, science, arts, games & sports. 

Learn more about the Children’s Literature Assembly here.

PLUS: Of course I’m absolutely thrilled that our book for middle school, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, was selected as a Poetry Notable by the NCTE Excellence in Poetry Committee. Here’s that link.

There will also be a BUNCH of poets in attendance at the conference and I hope to cross paths with many of them including: Irene Latham, Laura Purdie Salas, Mary Lee Hahn, Jacqueline Jules, Sara Holbrook, Michael Salinger, Heidi Mordhorst, J Pat Lewis, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Georgia Heard, Rebecca Dotlich, Paul B Janeczko, Pat Mora, Linda Kulp, Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Leslie Bulion, Rene Saldana, Eileen Spinelli, Joseph Bruchac, and George Ella Lyon. What fun, right?! I hope to share photos afterward. 

And finally, they’ll be announcing the next winner of the NCTE Poetry Award at the conference too! Stay tuned.


Image credit: MrJohn56.wordpress.com;ncss;cla

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2014. All rights reserved.


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12. Sing, cuckoo, sing

640px-Red_deer_stag_2009_denmark
Pardon me!
Image source: Bill Ebbesen | Wikimedia Commons

Today is the last meeting of this year’s Poetry Club. The fall session was short, just six weeks (minus one when we all suddenly realized Halloween fell on a Friday). We’ve expanded to three age groups now: littles, middles, and bigs. In the older group, we’ve been looking at some poetic forms and doing close readings. Today we’re going off on a different tack and hunting up poems about food. I challenged the kids to write their own poems about food or Thanksgiving, and that’ll be the best part, seeing what they’ve come up with. :)

Last week in my littles group, the funniest thing happened. We were looking at animal poems, and I had put out a stack of children’s poetry books for the kids to rummage through. They would find a poem and either read it aloud or have me read it. Usually they wanted me to do the reading. We ended with the selection of one small girl from a lovely collection of nature poems. She had picked a spread that featured the medieval song “Sumer Is Icumen In” with a contemporary translation on the recto. “You read it,” she urged, sliding the book across the floor toward me. I dove in and was well underway when I remembered that one line in the middle—the one that brought my college Medieval Lit class to fits of giggles. The modern translation hewed pretty close to the original.

“Bullock starteth, buck farteth.”

This is a group of six-to-eight-year-olds. You can imagine the hilarity. That’s one poem they’ll never forget. :)

I really think what I love most about that poem, more even than its exuberance and exultation over the return of lovely weather, is its window on human nature. Seven hundred years later: we still enjoy a good fart joke.

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13. Classroom Connections: SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, by Jeannie Mobley


age range: 10-14 years
setting: Colorado, 1917
Jeannie Mobley’s website

study guide

Pearl’s lively narration reveals her transformation from an old-fashioned, romantic girl into a spirited, courageous champion. Mobley uses the legend of Silverheels to effectively “raise questions about the traditional roles of women and their sources of strength,” as she writes in her author’s note, against the backdrop of wartime Colorado. An engrossing, plausible story of several unlikely feminist heroines with a touch of romance and intrigue. — Kirkus Reviews

Please tell us about your book.

Searching for Silverheels is the story of a romantically minded 13 year old, Pearl, who works in her family’s café in the small mountain town of Como, Colorado in 1917, just after the United States has entered the First World War.  She loves the local legend of Silverheels, a dance hall girl of the gold rush era, who saved a town from smallpox. However, Josie, a cynical old women’s suffragist, scoffs at Pearl for telling the story to the tourists, arguing that Silverheels was more likely a crook after the miner’s gold than a hero. They enter into a bet, each trying to prove their version of the legend, but in the mean time, accusations of sedition and anti-patriotism arise in the town, threatening both Pearl’s family and Josie. Pearl is forced to decide what she really believes in and to act, even if it costs her.

What inspired you to write this story?

I have known the legend of Silverheels for as long as I can remember, being a Colorado native that spent a great deal of time in the mountains in the area where Silverheels lived, and where there is, to this day, a mountain named after her. I hadn’t thought about the legend for a long time, but when I heard it again I realized there are some odd inconsistencies in it that made me think that Silverheels had the perfect set up for a scam–tend the dying miners, seduce them with her legendary beauty, and then take their gold.  As a kid, I had loved the legend for its romantic, tragic beauty, and having this new vision of it as a more cynical adult, I thought, what an interesting story it would be to debate the story from the two sides.

I also realized what a good set up for exploring the roles of women in traditional society, and all the ways that women are called to be strong. So, I chose to set it during World War I so I could bring in the suffrage movement as well as all the things women did on the home front to keep the country going during the war.

Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?

I did very little book research before I started writing this story. Since I’ve known the legend of Silverheels and the area where the story took place since childhood, I tried to draw on deep childhood memories to shape the character of Pearl and her experiences and feelings about her mountain home. While Pearl’s story is entirely fictitious, her feelings and personality are  drawn very much on who I was as a kid.  So, I did a small amount of research about the home front in various wars, and settled on World War I, mostly because the National Women’s party, one arm of the  suffrage movement, came to blows with the authorities over criticizing the president during war time.

I researched details as I wrote, stopping when I needed to fill in a detail–like when the first Liberty Bonds were issued, what they cost and how the program worked, or what the train schedule was like in Como, a railroad hub of the era, or how long it might have taken by train to get from one location to another.  Sometimes those details would draw me into an hour of research, sometimes I’d have to work on research for a day or more. And there were a few times I found things out and had to back up and rewrite things I had gotten wrong. That is a definite problem with my system of research-as-I-go, but I don’t know what I need to research until I get there.

Always, when I am writing a piece of historical fiction, I am “researching” in my time away from the writing desk, too. I watch TV programs or read novels set in that era or written in that era, I listen to period music, and I daydream, to get my mind steeped in the deeper feeling of the time period.

What are some special challenges associated with writing historical fiction?

Of course, there is always the challenge of getting the historical era right and finding the balance of including enough historical detail to get a sense of the era without overdoing it. I think it is also important to hit the right balance of making it feel familiar and also exotic.  Historical fiction appeals to readers for its ability to help us escape into a different world, but at the same time, I think historical fiction has a romantic appeal too. There is something warm about the “good old days,” even if they weren’t all that good in reality. I think many readers like the comfortable warmth of stories set in the late 19th/early 20th century. The sense of family and of home that linger in the memories of adults who read the Little House books as kids, for example. 

So for me, I try to evoke some of those same feelings in my work, while still being true to all the things that made the “good old days” not so good. Because there was a lot of hard work and discrimination and sexism in those days, and there was a struggle to survive. I try to keep all of that present in my work.

What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?

My book looks at traditional roles of women, the home front during war, and the suffrage movement, all topics of interest in American History. We are now in the hundredth anniversary of World War I, which began in Europe in the summer of 1914, and continued until 1918. For the United States, the centennial of our involvement in the war doesn’t begin until 2017, but there is a new focus on that war right now, and this book fits into that topic very neatly.

I also think that historical fiction can fit in nicely with the focus of the Common Core on increased attention to informational texts, which include things like non-fiction and primary sources.  One of the intriguing things about historical fiction is it creates a personal interest in history, because it gets the reader emotionally involved with people in the past. And once that emotional involvement is there, it is much more interesting to do the background research (for example, people who never study history often love researching an ancestor). 

So, I think historical fiction can be a wonderful gateway into those informational texts, as readers of the novel say, “Did that really happen?” or “Did people really do that back then?” Those questions can be used as starting points for digging in deeper and finding out the truth. For example, in my book, suffragists are arrested at the White House in July of 1917, which triggers a protest rally on the steps of the State Capitol in Denver. Readers might then ask, did that really happen, and they can turn to the history books or old newspapers to find out. Toward that end, I do include various links to research resources in my teachers guides and on my website.

The post Classroom Connections: SEARCHING FOR SILVERHEELS, by Jeannie Mobley appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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14. CLOSED TO QUERIES 11-21 to 1-12

Hi gang,

I have a lot of travel + bookstore stuff + general busy-ness going on in the next six weeks, so as I do every holiday season, I am officially CLOSING TO QUERIES as of tonight (say, midnight eastern time) -- and I'll re-open January 12, 2015.

The exceptions being Referrals and Conference submissions.  If you are either of these, I urge you to SAY SO IN THE SUBJECT LINE. I will also, of course, look at material that I've explicitly asked to see.

This gives me the opportunity to catch up and clear out for the new year, and it is much needed. And you may well hear from me during this break, as I have a LOT to catch up on! ;-) Anything already IN the inbox before tonight will be responded to. All other new queries will be deleted.

So, what to do? Well, if you want to choose any of the other lovely agents at ABLA who are open, you may of course feel free to do so -- if you'd prefer to query me specifically, please do so today, or wait until January.

Let me know if anything is unclear! And have a great holiday season.

Jenn


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15. P.C. Richard and Sons - A True Testament to the Meaning of Thanksgiving and Beyond

Every year as more and more retailers are opening up earlier than ever on Thanksgiving, I look forward to the P.C. Richard & Sons advertisement they publish in many newspapers across the nation at this time of the year.

I applaud them... 



Don't shop on Thanksgiving. Don't fret, the almighty sales will be there long past Thanksgiving day!

It's time to take back the Thanksgiving holiday!

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

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

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with

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

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

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

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

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16. Beloved Friends


Here are two gouache portraits I painted while waiting for supper.


Our beloved art-teacher friends David Starrett and Sam Clayberger mentored us 35 years ago when Jeanette and I were were just sketching companions.

When we're with old pals like these, the years disappear, and we live in a moment that I wish could last forever.

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17. Fan Mail Wednesday #193: Stinky Science & Secret Codes

 

postalletter-150x150

Today’s letter comes from the International School in Palo Alto, CA, and it’s written by Chih-Hsuan. But that’s not the best part. The best part is that it includes a brand new code — and I cracked it!

Here’s the letter:

Scan 1

Scan 3

I replied:

Dear Chih-Hsuan:

It’s always amazing to receive fan mail. When you think of the world today, how many people on the planet receive actual letters? What’s more, you wrote to me about a book that I wrote 15 years ago. That’s before you were born!

I’m glad that I’m still alive to read it.

And I mean, I’m very glad. The old ticker is still working!

I love your code, which is a variation of the List Code that Mila created in the book. At first it looks like a shopping list: 4 peanuts, 3 lobsters, 26 tomatos, etc.

The number, of course, is the key which directs me, the reader, to the proper letter. 3 lobsters means: “b.” What stumped me, briefly, was 26 tomatos. Hmmm? The letter “z”? Then I separated the number into its parts, a “2” and a “6.” Oooooooh. Double ooooooh!

Your secret message: FUN BOOK!

Thanks for that.

I should also thank you for getting me to pull that book off the shelf. I was actually charmed by the first page — a good beginning, I thought, in which I introduce a new character:

Illustration by John Speirs.

Illustration by John Speirs.

The pink bows didn’t fool me. I ignored the matching lace socks and the little red plastic pocketbook. I knew that Sally-Ann Simms was one tough cookie.

So what if she was only four and a half years old.

Sally-Ann stood in my backyard, hands on her hips. She shouted up to my tree house, “Jigsaw Jones! You up there?”

I was up there — and I told her so. “Take the ladder,” I called down. “The elevator’s broken.”

It’s a relief for me to read something I wrote long ago to discover that I still like it. Not bad, I think. And “not bad” is “pretty good.”

You asked why Joey didn’t simply throw his egg sandwich away in the trash. Good question. I think he felt bad about wasting food, so he wanted to get rid of the sandwich without anyone noticing. Of course, as a storyteller, I needed Joey to hide it in the volcano to help keep my plot moving forward. I have to confess that the smell of hard-boiled eggs makes me flee the room. It’s just one of those odors that I can’t tolerate. Yuck. Super yuck. 

Thanks for writing to me, Chih-Hsuan. And thank you, also, to the good folks at Scholastic for still sending along those letters, long after the book’s been published.

My best,

JP

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18. Ten Day Sprint

One of the most useful tools I have for myself as a writer is the distinction between a sprint and a marathon. A sprint is the specialty of the hare: a fast, concentrated, full-on race toward a goal. A marathon is the specialty of the tortoise: an inch-by-inch plodding forward toward a distant horizon.

I'm definitely more of a tortoise. Anyone who calls her blog "An Hour a Day" is a tortoise. I treat writing as a marathon, where I succeed through slow, steady, sustained activity. My literary hero, Anthony Trollope, was a tortoise. He even describes himself in that way. In my favorite lines in his wonderful autobiography, he writes, "Nothing, surely, is so potent as a law that may not be disobeyed. It has the force of the water drop that hollows the stone. A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules. It is the tortoise which always catches the hare. The hare has no chance. He loses more time in glorifying himself for a quick spurt than suffices for the tortoise to make half his journey."

But this month I'm a sprinter. I'm imitating my friends who are engaged in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and trying to get an entire novel written in 30 days. Well, maybe I'm both a marathoner and a sprinter. I'm trying to get a sprinter's amount of work done each day, but I'm trying to be a marathoner and do it every single day. Maybe this is the worst of both worlds: the sprinter's exhausting burst of speed repeated day after day after day. Or maybe it's the best?

Because I didn't exactly follow my own plan in the first part of November, I'm now in serious sprint mode. I need to write 2000 words a day for the next ten days. This doesn't sound so bad. I'm used to writing 1000 words a day. But my writing group friend Leslie pointed out that there is a HUGE difference between 1000 words and 2000 words. Especially if that volume of words needs to be produced every single day. In order to do it, I have to put in a good writing session in the morning and ANOTHER good writing session in the afternoon No self-glorifying rest upon laurels for me.

The beauty of the sprint, however, is that its duration is limited. I have to work hard, yes, but only for ten days. I couldn't sustain this pace for much longer. (Even as I write this, I know that the vast majority of people in the world work MUCH MUCH MUCH harder than this all the time. But we writers are a uniquely whiny bunch.) A person can work hard for ten days, right?

Even marathoners can enjoy the exhilaration of an occasional sprint. And then collapse in a little heap afterward before returning to the tortoise's less stressful pace. I'm hopping, leaping, and bounding off to race through my quota now.

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19. reindeer cards

I've been practicing my printmaking skills, and although I'm playing around with screenprints, a linocut still works best for me. Here is what my holiday card looks like this year:

I'm bringing a few to the local art sale at The Arts Center, so here is a little herd all packed up and waiting to go.


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20. Frankly: The 2014 Frankfurt, Germany International Book Fair by Irene Smalls

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Irene Smalls

In the middle ages, Gutenberg invented the printing press not far from where the Frankfurt Book Fair opens every year to about 7,300 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, around 275,000 visitors, more than 3,700 events, 9,000 journalists and over 1,000 bloggers. In October, Irene Smalls was one of those exhibitors. Irene is a multi-publshed author and creater of Literacise.

Why the Frankfurt Book Fair
Think of a foreign country with 230 million children under the age of 16 most of who study English. That is China alone. The International book market is worth $108,000,000,000 and counting. For authors and illustrators interested in expanding their sales and market my advice is to Go Global! The first stop to expanding your book brand globally is The Frankfurt Book Fair located in Frankfurt, Germany. With so many countries represented, it is diversity at its best.

Globe staff photo David L. Ryan

Literacise

 

 

How US Authors and Illustrators Benefit
Frankfurt is the world’s largest and oldest book fair. Frankfurt is a rights fair. Publishers go to Frankfurt largely to buy and sell international translation rights to their titles. For authors and illustrators this is lucrative. With international translations, you can sell your book potentially 120 times and receive royalties from all of your deals. This can be separate and apart from any from US publishing contracts.

 

 

 

 

Her Personal Stake
Seeing this huge book market opportunity, I had asked my publisher many times if my books were being presented for international rights sales. Repeatedly, my editors at a major publishing house, told me that there was no interest in my books globally. I decided to find out for myself. Indeed, in Frankfurt, I found the major American Publishers do not bring diverse books. An editor from a large trade publisher in the US when asked about the lack of diverse books represented, responded in very huffy tones. “We never bring those books to Frankfurt.” When asked why, the editor said, “All they ever write about is slavery, civil rights or struggling. Nobody is interested in reading about that.” It is ironic at the most diverse book fair in the world American publishers showcase their lack of diversity.

2GoGlobalMarketing
In 2014, I formed 2GoGlobalMarketing. Its motto is “Take Your Message to the World.” With the assistance of two book professionals, publicity guru Ayanna Najuma and Art Director/illustrator Cathy Ann Johnson we showcased 35 books in our booth for five days. It was a whirlwind experience. We met thousands of people from all over the world. Ten countries expressed interest in our titles: Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa, Italy, UK, Taiwan, Poland, Nigeria, Finland, and Sweden. I am in talks with a UK educational publisher about creating a UK school version of one of my books. I am also in talks with another publisher about creating songs based on my books. My work is not finished. I will follow up with two contacts. For the authors and illustrators we represented one author/illustrator had three publishers interested in her title, another author had a publisher interested in expanding her book and her creating a teacher’s editions for his Arabian country. Cathy Ann Johnson found a business partner in Italy. She is preparing the European launch of her Soul Amazing children’s books starting in Italy.

My Nana and Me

My Nana and Me

The Take Away
There were lessons learned. Frankfurt is an appointment driven fair. Frankfurt is different from others book fairs where buyers browse through booths. At those fairs, it is important to have a booth to display titles. A booth is not essential in Frankfurt. What is essential is having appointments. The first three days of the Frankfurt Book Fair is to the trade only. The last two days are open to the public. Frankfurt Book Fair appointments are set up starting in August for the October fair with the book scouts, agents and book buyers from all over the world.

African-American authors and illustrators are not taking advantage of the Frankfurt Book Fair opportunity. In 2014, I was the first African-American female to ever exhibit in the 66 years of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Go Global. The world is diverse whether American publishers like it or not. The diversity that is embraced is high quality story telling with fully rounded characters. Most countries of the world are not interested in American history. These countries are interested in their own history and their own historical figures that tell a universal story. Authors must tell a great story of love, hate, and passion filled laughter and the world will want to read your words.

Who Qualifies
You need to have foreign translations rights to your book at a minimum. But, it is best in negotiating your original contract to retain as many rights as possible such as audio rights, video rights, etc. Also, try to limit the time a publisher has control of those rights. For an example, I had no idea when I went to Frankfurt that I would meet a publisher who was interested in creating songs of my books. Since I control the audio rights, it was not a problem. In addition, if a publisher has not sold any of your rights within a few years it is highly unlikely they will ever sell those rights. By limiting the time a publisher controls your rights once those rights revert back you can sell them yourself.

Ir

What Happens Next

Our first time at the fair we do initial follow-up with the publishers expressing interest in one of the books we showcased. After that, it is up to the author to follow-up and seal the deal.

Not an Easy Sell
It is difficult to make appointments. Most are long standing relationships. Rights buyers set appointments with familiar people and companies. However, in the course of meeting people and chatting, 2GoGlobalMarketing was able to make appointments during the fair. I do not recommend this approach. It worked but we were not able to meet with the top buyers whose calendars were completely booked. The appointments are set up in 30-minute increments. If you miss your appointment, you have to wait until next year.

Lesson Learned
I do plan to return next year. We will start recruiting authors in March. I will not get a booth. This time I will focus just on getting appointments with key people.
Knowing Irene, her appointment book will be filled. She constantly pushes and champions other authors and illustrators. If you want your book represented in 2015, contact 2GoGlobal Marketing. Her schedule will fill fast.
Keep up with Irene on Facebook , follow her on Twitter @ismalls107, and email: info@2GoGlobalMarketing.com.

Posted by Gwendolyn Hooks


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21. What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,Plus What I Did Last Week, Featuring Alexis Deacon


(Click to enlarge)


 

This morning over at Kirkus, I write about Bárður Oskarsson’s The Flat Rabbit, released by Owlkids Books in September. That link is here.

Last week, I wrote about Russell Hoban’s Jim’s Lion, which has been re-imagined as a graphic novel (Candlewick, November 2014) with the illustrations of Alexis Deacon. That link is here, and above and below are some spreads from the book, as well as the cover of the 2001 picture book with art from Ian Andrew.

Enjoy.



(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


 


* * * * * * *

JIM’S LION. Text copyright © 2014 by Russell Hoban. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Alexis Deacon. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books London.

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22. Reading: Pamela Mordecai



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23. Poetry Friday: Brutal Romance by Brooke Fraser

All shapes and colours
Rolled and stained in aging hands
Sculpted explosions
Histories unfold
Our Jackson Pollocked earth turns
A silent witness

Lonely as silent
Poets bequeath best attempts
Romanticising
The brutality
Of the ages and of us
Avarice and lust

Love and death, and death and love
Brutal romance
The silver thread, the sharpened knife
A spinning slow-dance
I can't remember before
Warmth in the veins, lead in the core
Brutal romance

You're dripping with gold
Mine is more interior
Yours is sinking you

Men at attention
Devouring a drowning fleet
Epaulettes of charm

Love and death, and death and love
Brutal romance
A silver thread, a sharpened knife
In a spinning slow-dance
I can't remember before
Breath in the lungs, blood on the door
Brutal romance

And I want to sing
Over them and into them
What can't be unsung
And I want to sing
Over you and into you
What can't be unsung

Love and death, and death and love
Brutal romance
A silver thread, a sharpened knife
A spinning slow-dance
I can't remember before
Washing of wounds, won inner wars
Brutal romance

- Brutal Romance by Brooke Fraser, from her beautiful brand-new album, Brutal Romantic

Listen to the song here, then get the album (which I've had on repeat all week) from the store of your choice.



View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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24. Cynsational News & Giveaways

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

A Trio of Trailblazing Performers by Joy Fleishhacker from School Library Journal. Peek: "Introducing three African American women born in the early 20th century, these noteworthy picture book biographies resound with compelling storytelling, expressive artwork, and a sonorous message about overcoming obstacles and following one’s dreams."

Selling on Proposal AKA The Dreaded Synopsis by Gretchen McNeil from Adventures in YA Publishing. Peek: "It’s a double-edged sword, of course. While you’ve managed to charm an editor and publisher with your synopsis and/or pages, you still have to deliver a final manuscript on or before a due date, and the pressure of scheduling your creativity can be crippling."

How to Choreograph a Great Action Scene by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "It’s not just movement, but conflict made concrete. Movement across a scene without a purpose is just the beat of a scene and action implies much more."

Should Book Reviews Mention Characters' Race? by Roger Sutton from The Horn Book. Peek: "...we are always trying to figure out where and how to mention ethnicity, especially in reviewing books in which skin color plays a part only in the illustrations and goes unmentioned in the text." See also Writing More Diverse Characters: the Third Culture Individual from Tu Books.

Rejecting Rejection: Terror Days by Amy Rose Capetta from The Writing Barn. Peek: "The first two books I wrote have a straight main character. The projects I kept coming up with after that? Besides being in a different genre, the main characters were queer. And I had a thousand worries attack me all at once."

Librarian's Corner: Vicky Lorencen on Playing With Words from Ann Jacobus at ReaderKidz. Peek: "Without formally saying so, Grandma taught me that words weren’t just for communicating, they’re also for enjoyment. I was encouraged to play with words."

Manuscripts on Submission 101 by Jennifer Laughran from Jennifer Represents... Peek: "If I get an offer, or a request for revision, of course I share it immediately. The same goes for a really kind/complimentary or otherwise uplifting decline."

Positive and Negative Character Motivation by Mary Kole from Kidlit.com. Peek: "We often react to adversity by stubbornly wanting to best it. But it’s important to note that this is a reaction to something negative in life that we’re inspired to overcome."

Character Skills and Talents Astrological Divination by Angela Ackerman from Writers Helping Writers. Peek: "A character who has studied astrology extensively can chart an individual’s celestial path by using the date and hour of their birth."

Everything I Need to Know About Character I Learned from Buffy by Dave King from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Even his darkest characters have balancing characteristics that make them interesting and often redeemable – the Scooby Gang has included at times two vampires and a demon. D’Hoffryn, for instance, though a Lower Being and Lord of the Vengeance Demons, is always unfailingly polite."

The Point of Writing by Meg Rosoff from Writer Unboxed. Peek: "Truth is what will give your work resonance and power and make it worth reading long after you’ve spent the money that someone may or may not have paid you for your work."

Bibliotherapy for Teens: Helpful Tips & Recommended Mental-Health Themed Fiction by Erin E. Moulton from School Library Journal. Peek: "While mental illness is clearly prevalent, a stigma persists. A recent article in Time, prompted by the suicide of actor Robin Williams, estimated that about 60 percent of those suffering from mental illness don’t seek assistance. Reading is not a replacement for professional therapy. But surely, the right books can help." See also Books to Celebrate and Teach About Adoption by Jill Eisenberg from Lee and Low.

Scholastic Picture Book Award: "...a joint initiative between the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NDBCS) and Scholastic Asia, and it is presented biennially to an outstanding unpublished picture book with distinct Asian themes by an Asian team of writer and illustrator." See also from SCBWI Japan Translation Group: "Entries of unpublished, Asian-themed picture books up to 500 words will be accepted until Dec. 19 at 5 p.m. Singapore time. Picture book text must be in English, but works in languages other than English may be considered, if an English translation is submitted with the original text and illustrations."

What Do You Have to Do Online? Authors Have Surprising Freedom by Darcy Pattison from Fiction Notes. Peek: "Do you like to write short, write long, take/edit photos, produce audio, or produce video? Those are the only options you have, regardless of the platform. Think about which form of communication you are good at, and can consistently produce."

Starving in the Midst of Plenty by Teri Lesesne from The Goddess of YA Literature. Peek: "I will return from the conference with a suitcase packed with books (or I will be mailing a ton of them). They will float on to other hands as soon as they are read. But I am a trifle embarrassed by these riches."

The Stakes Should Always Be Death by Maureen McQueery from Teaching Authors. Peek: "For the reader to be concerned, risk has to be real and the protagonists' motivation worthy. Worthy motivations involve noble concepts like: forgiveness, love, redemption, self-worth."

National Book Award


Congratulations to Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, for Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books)! Don't miss coverage of Brown Girl Dreaming from NPR and How This Year's National Book Awards Could Change the Face of Children's Literature by K.T. Horning from The Conversation.



We Need Diverse Books

The initial $100,000 goal for We Need Diverse Books has been met--hooray! And thank you! But the campaign is ongoing and the organization has announced our stretch goals. Peek:

"Once we’ve reached our first stretch goal, WNDB will be able to create a paid internship program to help interns from diverse backgrounds (as noted in our mission statement) who demonstrate financial need. We hope our grants will allow people who might not otherwise be able to achieve their dream of a career in publishing. We will also be able to fund a year-long mentorship program for multiple writers....

"We will expand our outreach and create more educational kits and educational materials to be used to discuss diversity in all its ways and forms. And we'll offer travel grants, to help currently-published authors attend conferences and events that would otherwise not be accessible to them.

"Finally, we plan develop a WNDB app. The WNDB app goes beyond recommendations and looks for new interactive ways to support diverse authors and books. With it, WNDB is excited to create a new high-tech way to bring diverse books to you, the reader."

Note: Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket), after apologizing and describing his comments with regard to Jacqueline Woodson at the National Book Awards as "monstrously inappropriate, and yes, racist" has donated $10,000 and will be matching donations today up to $100,000. (Jackie is on our advisory board.)

Marketing Diverse Children's Books by Matia Burnett from Publishers Weekly. Peek: "Rodriguez also witnessed a parent refuse to purchase her daughter a copy of My Friend Maya Loves to Dance by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by Velasquez (Abrams), which is about an African-American ballerina. Regardless of the skin color of the main character in the story, Rodriguez said of the girl who was so drawn toward the book: 'She too was a ballerina. That’s all she saw.'"

See also Lindsey Lane on Why We Need Diverse Books. Peek: "We are trying to understand what it means to write diverse characters if we are white. How do we do it? Can we do it? Are we allowed? How can we contribute to the We Need Diverse Books campaign?'" Note: a heartfelt, respectful contribution to the conversation.

Cynsational Giveaways

Jingle Dancer Interior Image.

The winner of Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little is Jen in Texas. The winner of Ship of Dolls by Shirley Parenteau is Akiko in Texas. The winners of What Flowers Remember by Shannon Wierbitzky are Donna in New Jersey and Frances in Illinois.

This Week at Cynsations

More Personally

Where Are the Characters of Color in Science Fiction & Fantasy? panel at YALSA Symposium in Austin.

With authors Justina Chen, Janet Wong & Lorie Ann Grover at the Hyatt Regency Austin.
Thank you to Mighty Girl for highlighting my picture book Jingle Dancer (HarperCollins, 2000)!

Link of the Week: Four Mistakes Made in Children's Books About Natives and Books That Fix Them by Debbie Reese from Indian Country Today.

Even More Personally

In the holiday spirit with Greg Leitich Smith at Whole Foods!
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Cynsational Events

Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak at the American Library Association MidWinter Convention in Chicago from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3. Details TBA.

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The SCBWI Austin 2015 Writers and Illustrators Working Conference will take place March 7 and March 8 at Marriott Austin South. Note: Cynthia Leitich Smith will be moderating a panel and offering both critiques and consultations.

Cynthia Leitich Smith will serve as the master class faculty for the VCFA Alumni Mini-Residency from June 19 to 21.

Cynthia Leitich Smith will speak on a We Need Diverse Books panel at the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association from June 25 to June 30 in San Francisco. 

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25. Ellen DeGeneres Inks Deal With Grand Central Publishing

EllenTalk show host Ellen DeGeneres (pictured, via) has landed a deal with Grand Central Publishing to write a book about interior design.

According to the press release, “DeGeneres, who has bought and renovated over a dozen properties, most recently launched a line of home goods on QVC and will launch Ellen’s Design Challenge, a new show on HGTV, in January of 2015.” Home will be released in Fall 2015.

Deb Futter, the editor-in-chief of hardcovers at the imprint, negotiated the deal with Esther Newberg, a literary agent of ICM Partners. Karen Murgolo, editorial director of Grand Central Life & Style, will edit the manuscript.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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