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1. Review – Imagine a City

The sumptuous cloth cover and unfurling clouds swirling across the end pages indicate something special about Elise Hurst’s latest picture book, Imagine a City. You’ll recognise Hurst’s illustrations from her other picture books such as The Night Garden, Flood and The Midnight Club to name a few. Imagine a City is a glorious collection of […]

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2. Write, share, give: It’s SOL time!

“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and… Continue reading

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3. the ghosts of night, the dreams of day

Had a lovely day yesterday, drawing for the love of drawing rather than for work. I always love catching up with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire, my sketchcrawling buddies, too. We spent the day at the National Emergency Vehicles Museum in Sheffield. It was right up my tree. Loved the subject matter. I could spend another day, or ten, there. And, maybe even a night; apparently there are many ghosts in this former police and fire station. If you believe in that sort of thing, of course. I don't but I'm willing to have my mind changed.

 There was a very specific colour scheme too. Reds, blacks and a little yellow were the colours of the day. I managed to not take seventeen pencils cases, which is an achievement for me, and narrowed it down to just the three sketchbooks. I always try to take some tools that I wouldn't normally draw with at home. I try and play a bit more on sketchcrawls. It feels like the right place to do that as you often encounter subject matter you wouldn't normally choose to draw. The red Bingo dabber was an inspired choice of pens.

 Here's something I've noticed during October, as I'm participating in Go Sober For October, I do a lot more with my weekends. It's much easier when you're not factoring in a 'big night' or a hangover. That's just another benefit to being sober; doing more stuff with your time. Just look at how my blogging has increased in the last month!

 The museum holds a vast range of fire service related memorabilia that had previously been sitting in attics and local fire stations all over the county and amongst the exhibits were prisoner files from the last century. I found these the most fascinating of all, and below are my drawings of some of the mugshots from around the 1940s. It's funny how just by drawing somebody, spending that time studying someone, you can feel a real connection with them. I don't just want to now more about the faces I drew, I feel an empathy, sympathy, for them. Protective towards them even, like I knew them. I guess what I'm trying to say was that I was touched by them. Maybe I do believe in ghosts.




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4. {Indie Spotlight} GIDEON LEE by Lisa Orchard

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! My new release is coming October 21st and it's going to be on sale for $.99! This is the first book in the Starlight Chronicles and I'm very excited about this series! Check out the excerpt below! A great YA read! Lark Singer’s relationship with her mother is prickly to say the least. As she enters a musical competition that could

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5. 50 States Against Bullying: NORTH CAROLINA

For the ninth state on the 50 States Against Bullying campaign, I visited The O'Neal School in North Carolina, speaking to students in grades 8-12. There were trees everywhere at this school, making the campus and its surroundings absolutely beautiful.

Even the statues were flipping out over the trees!


Yes, I considered adding myself somewhere within that sequence of statues for a photo-op, but then I considered the fact that I would probably hurt myself. So I didn't.

Meanwhile, inside the school, students had begun mounting #ReasonsWhyYouMatter cards to both sides of this board. Reading through these notes has becomes a great way to focus myself before I begin speaking with the students.


Giving a speech using Powerpoint, as I do, helps calm the nerves. This way, hundreds (sometimes thousands!) of eyes aren't constantly just on you.


Of course, if you get on a roll and skip over a topic, it becomes obvious once the wrong slide pops up. But I recovered from this mishap, which is thankfully rare. And, at the end of my talk, I even got my first standing ovation!


Signing books and chatting with students and teacher afterwards often turns emotional, and that was very true at this stop. While the stories shared could be heartbreaking, it is also inspiring to see people so willing to open up. That's always been a hard thing for me to do myself, so I never take these moments lightly. In fact, I feel like I learn from each one of those students.

But not all moments included tears. For example, I got to meet Miss North Carolina Junior High School America!


After my school visit, I had a bit of  time before heading to the airport, so I headed to...The Country Bookshop! This store provided books for my school visit, and was also a great place to browse (like I said, it's a bookshop). They recently began having visiting authors sign a tabletop in their store, which I did. While I signed it, the table was also being used for a meeting between the store's book buyer and a sales representative from another publisher (not mine, so they shall remain nameless...but easy to figure out). When I mentioned that I wrote the forward to one of this publisher's recent releases, Positive, by Paige Rawl, the bookseller brought her store copies over for me to sign.

So if you live near Southern Pines, go grab these books. Plenty of people have copies of Paige's memoir signed by Paige herself, but no one has a copy signed by me!





Now that I've flown on to the next state, I totally regret chickening out of a picture with those statues.

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6. Monday Poetry Stretch - Kodachrome

Over the last few weeks I have been scanning slides and revisiting old family photos. My uber-cute brother and sister are in the picture below! Don't you just love those Easter basket sunglasses?
While immersed in this project I've been reminded me of a story NPR ran a few years ago about a photo historian who found an archive of more than 14,000 photos taken by Charles W. Cushman. Cushman began using Kodachrome soon after it came out and used it to capture the world in ways it had never been seen before. 

You can hear the story at The Found Archive of Charles W. Cushman. Better yet, you can see some of the photos at Lost and Found: Discover a Black-and-White Era in Full Color.

Our family slides are not great works of art, but they contain an awful lot of history. I'm amazed that this array of images has captured the evolution of the television, clothing, hairstyles, and cars. So, today I'm thinking about old kodachrome and photographs. I hope you'll join me this week in writing about them. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

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7. On Safety, Kathleen Hale, and what to do next

A lot of bloggers are thinking about what the next steps are after this weekend. How do we react when negative status updates about a book can get you stalked? Is an author going to show up on my doorstep? Call me at work and harass me until I cry? Blogging isn't a job, it's a hobby. It's supposed to be fun, a way to connect with other book nerds.

It's not supposed to put you in danger.

Of the two big issues facing book bloggers right now, a major lawsuit looks like "lucking out."

That's fucked up.

And it's worse than authors showing up in your front yard and calling you at work. It's the people who automatically take her at her word that the reviewer was wrong and harassing her. She wasn't. I know. I'm shocked, too! A woman who thought that showing up on someone's doorstep was a rational response to bad status updates has a skewed version of the reality leading up to that point. Shocking! But there are a lot of people who are applauding her for "fighting back."

So, what's next? Do I seriously have to balance the safety of my family with my desire to talk about books? Is this a real live thought process I've been having the past few days? REALLY?

I blog and tweet with my real name. It's not that hard to figure out where I work. And part of this is on purpose--my blog is personal and mine and I do it on my own time, but to say it's 100% separate from work is hard. My day job (which includes regularly scheduled nights and weekends) affects the blog--it informs what I read, my library users inform my reactions to titles and my blog affects my day job-- it's opened up professional doors to me and given me opportunities I may not have had. Many of my blogging friends are also professional colleagues and part of my personal learning network. My blog is on my resume. Honestly, in the grand scheme, at this point, it doesn't make sense for me to change it to a pseudonym. But what am I leaving myself open to?

And here's another area-- I'm not just a book blogger. I'm also a professional reviewer. I regularly review for School Library Journal (paywalled) and the RT Book Reviews website. These are signed reviews and SLJ even includes my place of employment after my name. If anything, this is what makes the most sense to give up. The majority of my critical or negative reviews are professional (mostly because I'm not apt to finish a book I don't like unless it's assigned.) But, I really like reviewing professionally. It's made me a better reader and a better blogger. It has helped my career and sometimes I get paid. It's not something I'm willing to give up, and I don't think I should have to in order to protect my safety.

And then my thought process turns to the fact that the affected bloggers are much bigger than me, so it's not going to be an issue for me... except. I have had an author track me down at work about a review I wrote. This person used my library's "contact us" form to comment on my review of their book. Luckily, it was for one of the professional outlets, so I could just forward it to my editor and let them deal with it.

Who do I forward the scary lady on my front lawn too? What happens when someone defames me in an international newspaper? What happens if the it's the blog, where I'm the editor? Will my professional reputation be dragged through the mud and affect my ability to put food on the table?

Where do I go next? Do I give into my fear? Is that letting the terrorists win (in the parlance of our times?) Do I accept the risk, knowing there are more Kathleen Hales out there and if they can write well enough (and let's be honest, that article was fascinating and compelling. She can clearly write. She just can't recognize dangerous and probably illegal behavior) people will just take her word at it without even trying to hear the other side of the story?

In a month and a half, Biblio File will turn 10. Yes, a decade of book blogging. Posting has been spotty at times, and this is not the first time I've seriously considered stopping. But, every other time it was because of internal issues--do I really want to devote the time it requires or do I want to prioritize other things in my life? Do I still have the passion to make it worth the brain space? And I've always just taken a break or powered through. It's never because of something external before. And... I just don't know now.

I just don't know.


Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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8. Comic: Watch Those Dangling Modifiers...

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9. Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar Update

Author Page McBrier will appear at the Rowayton Library in Rowayton this Thursday, October 23, from 3:30 to 4:30.

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10. Church Scenes

Question: I'm writing a murder story novel that features numerous deaths. But I have a scene set on a Sunday in church. I have done the sermon part. But

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11. The autobiographical account of the youngest ever solo circumnavigation of the Earth

If you want to see the other side of the world, you can do two things: turn the world upside down or travel there yourself…  …which is exactly what 14-year-old Laura Dekker did. One Girl, One Dream is her incredible story. Laura Dekker was 14 years old when she started her solo navigation around the world […]

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12. More Minimalistic Prose

Question: I was reading on another blog about how writer should try to use words with Anglo Saxon roots as opposed to Latinate roots. They claim that

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13. Seconds

I don’t remember where I heard about Bryan O’Malley’s newest graphic novel Seconds, but I immediately put myself on the library hold queue for it. You may recognize O’Malley as the creator of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series or maybe you might just know that the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on one of those novels (I learned from the movie that I should have vegan superpowers but I must be doing something wrong because I’m still waiting for them). I’ve not read the graphic novel series, have you? And if so, should I?

But back to Seconds. It is about Katie, a successful chef who runs a hip restaurant called Seconds. She is in the midst of trying to strike out on her own with a brand new restaurant but the building is in such bad shape renovations are taking forever and costing a lot of money. Katie lives in a tiny room above Seconds in order to save money. One evening, there is an accident in the kitchen and a young waitress whom Katie has been trying to make friends with is badly burned. In her room, Katie is presented with a chance to change things. A notebook appears in which she it to write what she wants to change and then eat the little mushroom that was left beside it.

Now I know what you are probably thinking about that mushroom! I thought it too. But it isn’t that sort of mushroom. What it does is erase the accident. It never happened. Katie is happy and relieved and wishes she had more mushrooms because there is so much she would change if she could. And then she discovers the mushrooms are growing beneath the floorboard of a not frequently used storage closet behind the kitchen. She helps herself to quite a few of them, a dozen. And every time something happens that she doesn’t like, she can change it. Her new restaurant, her old boyfriend, friends, she changes them all sometimes more than once. She begins to get confused about what has and hasn’t happened.

She learns from Hazel, the waitress and now her friend who burned her arms that began this whole thing, that Seconds has a house spirit. The house spirit’s name is Lis and she makes an appearance in Katie’s room demanding she give back all those mushrooms, Lis’s mushrooms. But Katie refuses. Things get bad. Really bad.

The story is good, well told. The art is good too. They combine to make an enjoyable reading experience. I liked that Katie is a successful woman and this is her story. She is not drawn as tall and gorgeous, impossibly skinny and extremely well endowed. Nope, Katie is normal. Kind of short even with sort of crazy hair. I also enjoyed mulling over all the ways “seconds” can be applied in the story. From food so good you want seconds to second chances to how a life can change in seconds.

I don’t read graphic novels very often, not because I don’t enjoy them. I think I am just very picky about them. They have to meet some kind of worthiness test that I can’t even begin to articulate. But Seconds passed the test. I’m glad it did because it’s a good read.


Filed under: Books, Graphic Novels, Reviews Tagged: Bryan O'Malley

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14. Third Annual Climb-a-Tree Contest

by Sally Matheny

Climb-a-Tree (but not this one!)
For the past two years, I’ve hosted a Climb-a-Tree contest. It all began after reading a report that 1 out of 3 children have never climbed a tree. Are our children becoming too comfy on the couch? Or is it the parents? 

Maybe it's the fears of all the “what-ifs.” Don’t let worry keep you in a sanitized, cushioned bubble.   

Fun and adventure await you at the base of a tree—not to mention a slew of learning and confidence building opportunities.

I almost decided to forgo the contest this year until a friend’s child approached me and asked about the next tree-climbing contest. We don’t want to disappoint, so here’s the announcement for the third annual Climb-a-Tree contest!


Who: Parent-Supervised Children (ages 5 and up) and Parents

How to Enter:   Easy—send me a photo of your kids in a tree. List their first names only. They’ll be entered into the drawing for a prize.  The winner will be awarded a cool, outdoor toy based on the child’s age.

However, this year, I’m increasing the rewards.

For every teenand adult who is in a photo (in a tree!): Your name will be entered into a drawing for a $5.00 gift card from Starbucks. (Because I figure some of you want to get in on the fun, too.)

Deadline: Send me photos via this blog, or post them on my facebook page. All photos are due by 6:00 p.m. (EST) on Monday, October 27, 2014.

If you don’t want to post a photo, but would like to enter the contest, just private message me and I’ll add your name to the drawing.

We’ll announce the winners on this blog on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014.

Here are things to remember:

Be safe!

Avoid this.
Posion Ivy




            









                                                       And this.
Poison Oak












Use good judgement and you won't need this.





Take this challenge at your own risk. Follow the safe Guidelines for Tree Climbing.



Angry Phone Calls





I don’t want any of these.











Or these.


Lawyers


















Having fun outdoors!




This is what we want to see! 










Be adventurous! Get outside and have fun together!





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15. Blueberry Diapers

Here is a recent design that I sold to Blueberry Diapers. Check out their wonderful company and product line.





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16. "Super Shapes:" Wonder Woman


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17. From Here to There


How exciting!   

This month I've shipped a package off to Canada,
 
Finland, England and another to Ireland.   

(Earlier this year, I've have shipped to China, Spain, Japan, 

Russia, and Germany)  


It gives me such a kick when I think about the places the art is shipped.  

It's a small world. 

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18. I Didn’t See it Coming

I didn't see it coming

I didn’t hear it coming.

For an opening line I think it works. What do you think?

See what coming? Exactly!

The reader is going keep reading to find out, and isn’t that the overarching purpose of the first sentence—to compel the reader to read the second sentence. Etc.

I was going to write a blog piece on “openings.” By examining the first paragraphs of my upcoming book, The Writer in Love, I would assess the effectiveness of my beginning, see if it…

  • Established a Central Question
  • Made a promise
  • Set a trajectory

But that opening line got hold of me and wouldn’t let go. It wanted this blog post all to itself.

I sure didn’t see that coming.

Then it hit me—that line echoed far beyond Page One. So innocently tossed onto the page many months ago, it infected the entire manuscript, becoming a major motif throughout the book.

The cheetah is the first and most obvious thing I didn’t see coming. It approached me from behind and grabbed my hand in its mouth and wouldn’t let to. True story. I didn’t see it coming was the perfect way to establish an essential fact of fiction:

Protagonists never see it coming.

Drama depends on it.

Protagonists don’t see what coming? That which will destroy them. For their own good! It’s amazing how many times we can hear the poets and the mystics say something like this…

“Our body is a ship that sails on deep blue waters. What is our goal? To be shipwrecked!”

And still we complain, “I didn’t see it coming.”

Neither do writers see it coming.

We get in over our heads, trust me. We get excited about creating the kinds of payoffs that give readers their money’s worth. We find ourselves writing about characters whose only way out of Act II is to surrender to the storm, and by that I mean forsake who they’ve always thought they were.

I didn’t see that I was laying a trap for myself by trying to write in depth about such sacred story mechanics. I was in way over my head. I was drowning, myself. I almost quit. I didn’t see that coming, either.

I wrote a scene in which I drown. (That was fun.) I didn’t see that coming, either.

I never expected to take almost two years to write The Writer in Love.

To be honest, I never anticipated becoming a writer. I was going to be a mapmaker.

I never thought I’d have children until I tended my grandfather on his deathbed.

Nor did I imagine my children having children!

I didn’t foresee my website vanishing a few weeks ago. I thought I’d lost everything. I was resigned to starting over, but most of it is resurrected, and with a new design. Look, I’m blogging again!

The cool thing about blogging is you can start with a line like, I didn’t see it coming, and see where it goes. Because we don’t write to explain, we write to find out.

We might equally say that we live to find out.

I’ve found out a lot while writing The Writer in Love. And it all started with this opening scene:

I didn’t hear it coming.

It hadn’t finished devouring the bait when my Bolex ran out of film, so I retreated but slowly, walking away through the elephant grass when it surprised me from behind by clamping down on my hand hard enough to hold me but not break the skin. The growl in its guts, I could feel the vibration in my arm if you can imagine that. And then in my own belly. It’s a funny thing when your life stops suddenly dead in its tracks, it’s not funny at all because there you are for the first time without a future. As for the past, well, it’s your fault—my fault!—I had been carrying the bloody bait in that hand. Of course, the cat could smell it. I could see that now.

I should have seen it coming.

 

 

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19. Rainy Day Friends


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20. Getting Old

Have you had your colonoscopy?
Your mammogram? Or hey –
Your stress test? Blood work? Body scan?
Get on it right away!

If you cannot relate to this,
Just wait a few quick years
For as you age, that youthful health
Dries up and disappears.

And then the testing days begin
So when you’re with your friends,
You’ll find your conversations
Follow healthcare’s latest trends.

When you are young, you think your youth
Will always be on hold.
It’s really quite surprising
How things change as you grow old.

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21. "Planet" Reviewed At Reduce Footprints

Saving the Planet & Stuff is reviewed today at Reduce Footprints, a blog dedicated to researching and sharing information about easy ways to do positive things for the Earth. My favorite line--"The story is also wonderful for adults, of all ages, as it touches on the challenges of living life as a "greenie", in a fun and interesting way."

Notice that blogger Cyndi runs a couple of activities designed to build the green community.

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22. "Super Shapes:" Superman


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23. Flashlight by Lizi Boyd



This is a simple but cute picture book for younger children. The whole book is wordless and takes place at night. It features a boy who's camping near the woods and decides to go on a walk with his flashlight. The beam from the flashlight reveals the hidden world of night to the boy. Other select parts of the woods are lit as well: birch trees, luna moths and june bugs. The moon rises and offers another source of light. Interspersed are cut-out shapes offering glimpses of critters in trees and ponds. At the end, the animals get to use the flashlight and have fun shining it on the boy. A unique and fun picture book!

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24. ‘The Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl’ by Mike Roush

Meet the Burrowing Owl. He has recently lost his mate to a large predator that is hunting in his treacherous natural habitat. How will he survive in this dangerous wilderness alone? This is a story of love lost… and survival.

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25. KidLitCon 2014: Further Thoughts (and Sketches)

I meant to do this post last Thursday, but work spun dizzily out of my control, tossing me into a whirling black hole (do black holes whirl? I feel like they do) of getting-caught-up. Tanita's done some amazing posts with lovely photos of the... Read the rest of this post

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