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<<July 2016>>
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1. Certain Songs #607: The Hold Steady – “The Sweet Part of The City”

Hold steady - heaven is whenever Album: Heaven is Whenever
Year: 2010

The difficult fifth album. It’s tripped up more than one great band. You start your career with four absolute winners in a row, but while it’s only cool and logical to wanna mix things up, you get too far away from your strengths for your own good.

It happened to the Ramones with End of the Century. It happened to X on Ain’t Love Grand. It happened to Pavement with Terror Twilight. And it happened to The Hold Steady with Heaven is Whenever.

The culprit, I think, was the production, which was simultaneously too thin and too overburdened, like they couldn’t figure out how to fill the space that used to be taken by the departed Franz Nicolay’s keyboards.

I enjoyed nearly all of the songs, but I loved very few of them.

And the only absolute winner was the opening, “The Sweet Part of The City,” which fades in with gently keening slide guitars and wafts gently as Craig Finn reminisces about living in what a friend of my once called “the cool part of town.”

We were living it
We delivered it
We didn’t feel a thing
We were living in

The sweet part of the city (ooooooh)
The parts with the bars and restaurants (ooooh)
We used to meet underneath the marquees
We used to nod off in the matinees

It’s slow and gentle, and while there isn’t a crunchy guitar in sight, there are loads and loads of spooky noises and sleigh bells and descending guitar riffs. It probably shouldn’t work, but it’s absolutely lovely.

And I remember being so thrilled by this song when I first heard it: it wasn’t like any other Hold Steady song I’d ever heard, and yet it felt exactly like them. Of course, that was partly because of the words, which ended with a prototypical Craig Finn lyric.

It’s a long way from Cedar-Riverside to Cedars-Sinai
Three times St. Paul to Cheyenne
And it’s a long way from Sacramento, too
We were bored, so we started a band

We like to play for you
We like to pray for you
We like to pray for you
We like to play for you

It’s a near-perfect way to start an album, and it probably amplified my disappointment — which I should point out is relative, not absolute — with the rest of Heaven is Whenever, which despite things like the chorus of “The Weekenders,” the lyrics of “Heaven is Whenever” and the massive ending of “A Slight Discomfort,” never had a song that gelled quite as well.

“The Sweet Part of The City” performed live in 2010

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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The post Certain Songs #607: The Hold Steady – “The Sweet Part of The City” appeared first on Booksquare.

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2. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 201 - 7.29.16

Not at the beach... but down in Los Angles for the 45th annual SCBWI Summer Conference. Soaking up writing and illustrating inspiration and trying to paint a few polar bears while I'm at it!

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3. Lauren Rille – Getting Technical About Emotion

The first half of always awesome Lauren Rille of Simon & Schuster's afternoon session went over Bigger Picture Stuff for getting your picture book sketches and layout in good, overall shape before you move on to final art. But here are a few Smaller Picture Stuff details from the second half of her talk:

Once global pacing, tone, palette, etc., are established in your story art, then you can go through and focus on all of those big picture things again, but page by page.

Simon's New Bed by Christian Trimmer and illustrated by Melissa van der Paardt has a fantastic example of how you can push POV/perspective in just one spread to completely change the entire emotional tone of the story:

Lauren shares the initial sketch of the scene where dog Simon comes into the room ready to use his new dog bed for the first time... And cat Miss Adora Belle...

The editorial team likes this sketch very much, but they ask Melissa to push the drawing even farther, to visually interrupt what had been a light and breezy, happy day of anticipation for Simon in these two earlier spreads:
And "stop the music" as Lauren says in the spread in question. And Melissa comes back with this:
Environment is the same, characters are the same, but look at all you can achieve with just a shift in camera angle!

And even with the POV change, the editorial team wants things to go one step further. Since this scene is the big shifting moment in the story's emotional arc so far, changing up the lighting and palette compared to the earlier spread will help underscore the change in the story's tone even more.
So good!

Thanks to Lauren and S&S for letting us use these images from her actual slides!

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4. LA Portfolio Showcase 2016!

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5. Nancy Castaldo: The Terrifying Path to Publication and How it Ends

In her mini keynote, Nancy Castaldo spoke a lot about presenting to children and sharing what inspires her stories: childhood experiences and present passions. 

She also spoke about the process of research for writing “Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (and their Noses) Save the World," which also included a lot of talk about, um, dogs sniffing poop! Who’da thought!

When talking about her author journey, she spoke about the rocky rejection path that sometimes lead writers to feeling insecure. But take heart, she also reminded us that celebrated authors like Jane Yolen still receive rejection. “We are not alone, rejection happens to all of us,” she said.

Castaldo shared many inspiring quotes, including this one from Junot Diaz: “A writer is not a writer because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

So, how does the path to publication end? Well, you had to be there.

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6. This week on Now and Then

So I thought I would share what I've posted on my new-ish blog, Now and Then. I hope you'll visit and leave a comment or two.

First, on Sunday I shared two posts. The first was looking at Country Pride songs, now and then. The two songs were "Song of the South" by Alabama and "Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown Band.  Preparing for that post, I learned there were FOUR different versions of Song of the South. The song started out its life--in 1980--as a slow, soulful ballad. It haunts, trust me. But by the time Alabama recorded it in 1988, it was a happy-clappy, peppy, rallying song to get a crowd going. I ask you to decide Who Sang It Best?!

 On Monday, I turned to gymnastics. I shared Mary Lou Retton's uneven bar performance from 1984 U.S. Nationals...and also Madison Kocian's Uneven Bars from just a few weeks ago. Uneven Bars is one of the events you can CLEARLY see just how different the sport has become.

On Wednesday, I went for fashion. I shared "teen party" fashion from 1959 and 1988.

On Thursday, I created a playlist for Western Barbie. She came out in 1981, I believe. Perhaps 1980. But around there. The assumption being, that "Western Barbie" was a *real* person listening to and loving music. I also shared Western Barbie's commercial.

On Friday, I shared a GUESS WHO game with Country Music is.... I shared thirty lines from thirty different country songs. Read together, I think, you get a great glimpse of what country music is all about.

And today, I shared a picture of a DOLL you won't really see being marketed today. The "selling feature" of this one from 1964, is I CRY REAL TEARS WHEN YOU SPANK ME. And the doll's bottom, reads the word HERE.

This week's posts, show a bit more variety than last week's posts.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglas are buried here in Highland Cemetery, Rochester, New York. Lovely Warren is the first women mayor of the city and left this next to Susan's grave site thanking her.

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8. A Gathering of Friends

"A Gathering of Friends" (colored pencil on paper) is now available as a 4" x 9" pencil bag with zipper and key chain tab (twill fabric, lined w/canvas) for $12.00:

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9. The Picture Book Panel Begins!

Moderated by Laurent Linn (standing), the panelists, left to right, are: author/illustrator Jessixa Bagley, illustrator John Parra, editor Susan Rich, author/illustrator Barney Saltzberg, and author/illustrator Don Tate.

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10. Fantastic Beasts: Ezra Miller is a Bigger Fan than We Thought

Ezra Miller has put more thought into being sorted into a house than many fans have realized. “It means too much to me…I respect the sorting process…I know the Sorting [Ceremony] was written by J.K. Rowling, but I still can’t risk it. What if I get Slytherin? I couldn’t live with myself. I need to be in Gryffindor. If I didn’t get Gryffindor, I wouldn’t know who I was anymore.”

To Ezra, sorting has been such a pinnacle of his growth and career that he says, “I just can’t accept a sorting unless it’s by Helga Hufflepuff or Godric Gryffindor directly. I can’t take it unless it’s signed off by all four founders of Hogwarts. I mean, J.K. Rowling is all four founders of Hogwarts..She’s all of them. But I certainly can’t think about that too much…It’s too much, I’ve spent too much of my life caring about it.”


Being an avid Harry Potter fan has been taken to the next level by Ezra, who will be playing the character Credence in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He has been so involved in the character and everything related to JK Rowling’s world that he went into super fan mode when he was actually able to meet her. “Meeting her was unreal. I had so many questions. Talking to the person who created the world I’ve spent so much time in…it just didn’t feel real.”

This all inevitably leads to the fact that Ezra is amazingly dedicated to not only his role, but the entire magical world of Harry Potter. And that, is why we love him.

Read the interview in its entirety on Pottermore.

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11. Balancing Writing and Marketing

Yes, it's important to market your book, but you need to leave time to write your next book, too.


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12. Jessica Bagley / Neal Porter: The Picture Book Process Through Collaboration

Jessica Bagley and Neal Porter’s breakout session rolled out in perfect sync. Bagley spoke about the process of creating her debut picture “Boats for Papa,” while Porter injected tidbits of his picture book-making philosophies along the way. 

Bagley spoke about her early years as a picture book author-illustrator, feeling utterly alone and isolated. She made a lot of mistakes along the way, she admitted, thinking she could figure this business out on her own. Finally, she joined the SCBWI where her career began to make a change. Since then, she has soared!

One morning while in bed, during the time when she wrote “Boats for Papa,” Bagley experienced an Oprah-like “Ah-ha” moment. She realized that her little picture book was actually the story of her own life—proving that real life shapes great stories.

Bagley went on to discuss her process of making picture books, from thumbnail sketches to final art. Neal Porter injected his thoughts along the way. An important one:

—Have a sense of who you’d like to have publish your books. Do your research. It is important to know Porters list, the kinds of books he publishes. Be sure you're agent knows his list, too, as he often receives manuscripts from agents that aren’t a good fit for his list. 

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13. Ingredients of a Successful Picture Book: Jessixa Bagley and Don Tate

Jessixa Bagley and Don Tate took part in our panel on picture books. Jessixa is the Golden Kite winner for picture book texts, and Don has won numerous awards for his critically acclaimed texts and illustrations.

What makes a picture book successful? 

There's a sense of completion to it, Jessixa said. It doesn't assume that the reader has knowledge about the subject. There's nothing left hanging. It's like an amuse bouche, a perfect bite. She's also drawn to books with a really deep meaning—a meaning that can be joyful too.

Don loves it when people can flip through his book and know the story by the pictures. He loves making emotional connection with readers. We connect with our readers through emotions. Page turns help guide readers from left to right through the story. "I like it when the illustrator has really done their job ... and you want to linger and live in that space for a while."

When it comes to developing stories for markets 
Don doesn't illustrate books differently on whether they're commercial or more for libraries. Don loves to illustrate books about little-known historical figures, which typically puts his books into the school/library market. This lets him do more school visits.

Jessixa also doesn't think about making books directly for markets, and thinks that books with emotional content can be really useful in school markets.

What collaborations help? 
Don is in several critique groups. They help him make his manuscripts stronger for agents.

Jessixa says you should treat your work like a baby egg. Nurture it until it gets a little more solid, and then you can share it. You won't be as hurt by the feedback. It won't be as bruising. It will be able to hatch. "We've all had the experience where you work on something really hard and you show it to someone and they don't respond to it, and you're gutted."

Don: Be sure to keep your stories child-focused. It's important to engage a child by beginning in childhood. Children like to see themselves represented on the first page of a book. He's not a fan of labeling books by gender. Sometimes, books appeal more to boy than to girls. But you don't need to labels. "Let the readers find them where they will."

Jessixa wasn't a girly girl. She wasn't a tomboy. She was just herself, so she gravitated toward identity-neutral things. There is universality to her work that she wants to extend. "I have a hard time with the fact that there are pink LEGOs and those are the girl LEGOs."

"Allowing the space to have things appeal to more people, whether it's gender or diversity, is going to make us all a lot stronger."

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14. Carole Boston Weatherford: The Power Of Premise

Carole Boston Weatherford giving her keynote

Carole Boston Weatherford is an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of over forty books, mostly for young people. Her books have won two NAACP Image Awards, two Caldecott Honors, and a Coretta Scott King Award. Her best-known titles include Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom; Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement; Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins; and Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America. Her latest release is You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, a collaboration with her son, debut illustrator Jeffery Weatherford. She is an English professor at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. Visit https://cbweatherford.com.

Lin's introduction includes calling Carole "a national treasure… She's an historian, she's a story-teller."

Carole jumped right in to share that:

"The premise may be the most important 25 words you write."

Whether you call it an elevator pitch, log line, or T.V. guide pitch, the aim is the same - to distill your storyline to one easily understood sentence that conveys what the protagonist has to overcome. The premise is a promise your manuscript will deliver on.

Brief. Provokative. Contains character, conflict, and a hook that you and your readers can be passionate about, and reveals something about the larger world.

She shared premises of different children's books (picture books through YA, fiction and nonfiction) to see if we, the audience, can guess the book - showing us what good premises accomplish.

Carole then told us about the organic way she came up with the premises for some of her books, how those premises shifted and developed and coalesced. Books she spoke about included:

Freedom on the Menu

A Negro League Scrapbook



We heard poems, and stories, and as Carole's whole talk proved,

"There is power in knowing your premise."

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15. Pottermore Twitter Hosts Harry Potter Quiz Today!

At 8PM BST, the Pottermore twitter account will be hosting a Harry Potter quiz for fans to brush up on their Potter knowledge before the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. To participate and to see other fans’ answers, simply tune in to the Pottermore account and use the #PottermoreQuiz hashtag to share your answers.


Good luck!

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16. Ingredients of a Successful Picture Book Panel: Susan Rich and John Parra

John Parra is asked what he thinks makes a good picture book:

"When I feel like I get to a magical sweet spot in the [sketch] work that I can translate into the [final art] work... when I can feel like something magical is happening... that's what I'm looking for personally and professionally, even before an audience sees it.

Not everything you do will work or be interpreted by an audience they way you wished it would, but when you do get positive responses, you know it's good."

Susan Rich is asked the same question, and she says she asks herself three questions (which she says are stolen from The Horn Book) when reading the picture book:

"The picture book presents a what if..."

A then what that follows well from that what if...

And then you can step back and say so what."

"We expect picture books to be read a gazillion times, it has to stand up to weary parents and antsy toddlers over and over..."

Susan also addresses what makes a commercially successful book to her:

"... I hope they are paving the way for me to publish more books by those creators, I'm looking for sales and critical acclaim, that it connects with some demographic in an important way and that we can build on that with more books from those creators.

Curricular or seasonal hooks can make your books easier to get BUT I would never recommend starting from there. You can think about that at the query or later at the marketing level."

John says to follow your own voice, and don't worry about commercial vs. personal work, make it personal. Make it unique to your voice, and that's what's going to define you in your career. Be the first-rate you and not a third-rate Jon Klassen.

Susan says the best picture book texts have room for an illustrator to bring it to life, but also are manuscripts meaty enough to provide pacing and carry through with a full, narrative story, which is why poetry is not always a natural fit for picture books even if it's a completely beautiful and lyrical poem.

Laurent asks them about books they loved as kids:

John mentions Virginia Lee Burton's LIFE STORY.

Susan Rich loved C D B! by William Steig (link only goes to the colorized version :( )

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17. Emergency Broadcast

The music interrupted,
We all listened for the why.
An announcer gave a warning
That a thunderstorm was nigh.

He was very time-specific
For the counties that he named
And I wonder if the weather
Will be scary as he claimed.

On the back porch I am sitting,
Gazing upwards at the sky
Where I must admit a big black cloud
Is waiting there, on high.

But there's still a bit of sunshine
So it's possible we'll skirt
Such a downpour that deserves 
Such an emergency alert.

Forty minutes are remaining
If the broadcasters are wise
And if nothing comes to pass, it won't be
Much of a surprise.

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18. Harry Potter And The Cursed Child - No Longer Available On iBooks!

Okay, I didn't pre-order. I don't do that. Not for an ebook. Even when I was buying the print books I'd turn up on the day at Dymock's and there would be copies available.

But these days I buy mostly ebooks. You can simply log into your  account and buy. It downloads for you. You have a new book to enjoy! Why would you need to pre-order? It's electronic, right? They don't need to reprint, send them to the warehouses, send them to the shops.

And now, about an hour after this book became available to buy in ebook, I received the message,"This item is no longer availabłe."

Maybe it's my baby boomer ignorance of the technology others my age invented. How on earth can you run out of e-copies?

Or maybe I'm just a cynical person who thinks that this is a marketing thing. Allow so many downloads, then withdraw it. Keep them hungry. Then put it back, perhaps for a higher price. That'll learn 'em for not pre-ordering!

I'd very much like to read this book. I loved all the novels and I've heard good things about the play. I have the highest respect for the author, who deserves her high income.

But at this stage I may just add my name to the reserve queue at the local library and wait for my turn. Even if it takes months. I used to do that for new Terry Pratchett books - borrow, read, then buy in paperback. If it's good enough for Terry Pratchett, it's good enough for Ms Rowling.

Sorry, Joanne! And happy birthday.

Happy birthday also to my former student Dylan Cohen, now at university! And to young Natasha, my book clubber now in Year 12. It will be her eighteenth birthday? 

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19. Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: 2013
Source: Local Library

Summary: Cath is bewildered and intimidated by her first year of college. She's not rooming with her twin sister, as she'd assumed she would. Her classes are harder than she thought, a guy in her writing class seems to be using her ideas for his own project, her terrifying roommate keeps bringing her (possibly?) boyfriend around, who is equally terrifying because he actually seems interested in Cath.

The only touchstone is her ongoing epic fanfic, which she's hurrying to finish before the final book in the series comes out. In the world of Simon Snow, a world that's nurtured her and her sister since their mother left, she's in control. But it's the only place where she is.

First Impressions: Yikes did this cut close to the bone.

Later On: Rainbow Rowell has a reputation for RIP UR HEART OUT!! emotional stories, and since this is the first one I've read, I can see where she gets it. Cath is a raw nerve, and her emotions, not only around Levi but around everything are constantly close to the surface. I said it cut close to the bone because this was basically my college experience (except for the sweet boy who adored me, unfortunately). I think a lot of kids get in over their head and intimidated, and feel more isolated because they think that the nonstop party portrayed in TV and movies is what everyone else is experiencing. By contrast, this felt entirely real.

I have to mention how much I appreciated the respect that fandom got in this book. As a longtime fic writer in various fandoms (including, full disclosure, Harry Potter), I was prepared to see it mocked and belittled as an activity for children, or at least for people who couldn't handle the world. I also loved the way Cath's relationship to her own fic writing changed and grew as she did.

I wish that we'd gotten more acknowledgement from other characters of how profoundly Cath was freaking in, as much as Wren was freaking out. While writing and posting fic was a nurturing and supportive activity for her, she often used it to retreat from the world and escape her own fears as much as Wren was using drinking and partying to do the same.

Something in the back of my mind was the backlash against Rowell for her stereotyped portrayal of Asian characters in her previous novel, Eleanor & Park. This was a pretty white book (two fairly minor characters were Latino), so we didn't get any bad portrayals of POC, but we didn't get any fleshed-out good ones either. Do with that what you will.

More: Book Nut

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20. Ingredients of a Successful Picture Book: Barney Saltzberg

Barney Saltzberg is a writer/illustrator and musician. He has written and illustrated close to fifty books for children, including the best-selling Feel and Touch series, which has over one million copies in print.

What is a successful picture book (professionally and personally)?

Barney believes the rhythm of a page turn is so important. It's like music. Also the element of surprise. He wants to write a book that resonates every time.

Picture books are often placed in different categories whether more commercial sales or school and library. What considerations do you make when writing your books?

Barney says he doesn't think about that when he writes the books that I write and the marketing department and schools find where it fits.

On ways you get feedback on your work:

You have to be careful of who you share your work to and at which stage. While Barney did have a critiques earlier in his career, he now has authors/illustrators that he turns to for feedback when needed.

Barney tries not to go into the book store a lot. There are times he see another book and thinks, Wow, I wish I wrote that. As writers, we're trying to find our voice but if we compare ourselves with others, it's going to be a problem.

People like to classify picture books (boy books/girl books). How do you feel about that?

"We live in a world where Toys R Us has a girl aisle and a boy aisle and it drives me nuts."

Barney's next book is called WOULD YOU RATHER BE A PRINCESS OR A DRAGON? Barney's answer is that you can be both. Barney thinks parents will have some issues with this one.

Hey, all...can't wait for this one!

Favorite picture book childhood:

ARE YOU MY MOTHER? by P.D. Eastman

"I remember thinking it was hilarious when I was a kid."

Barney says there's a sense of humor and a sense of angst in the story, and the book works on so many levels. As a kid it appealed to his elevated sense of humor, that he as a kid got this inside joke. Having been lost as a child, there's a sense of wanting to find out what happens.

Final thought:

When getting feedback that Barney doesn't think works for him, he always takes the opportunity to sleep on it first before reacting and making a decision about it.

Don't wait for inspiration, make yourself go to work every day.

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21. Astro-Nomical Launches in Burbank With ‘Mean Margaret’ Feature

A new production company aims to tap into the growing market for mid-range CGI family features.

The post Astro-Nomical Launches in Burbank With ‘Mean Margaret’ Feature appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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22. Transliterating Accents (If that's the right word)

Hey Glen me again. I'm struggling with the dialogue of one of my characters in a story. Most of the characters, and the setting, are English and thus

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23. Tina Wexler: Seven Things Your Manuscript Needs to Succeed

Tina Wexler is a literary agent ICM Partners.

Tina shares tips that will help us find success.

You need a strong story idea. An idea that will sustain you through the drafting and writing process. Do you have unfinished manuscripts in a drawer? It might be because it didn't have enough to sustain you.

Your manuscript needs to be researched. Read 3 other recently published books in your same genre and age range. Look up the things you don't know. Not all of your research will make it in, but it will inform your story.

Your manuscript needs to be revised. No one gets it right the first time.

Your manuscript needs a strong voice.

Your manuscript needs a vacation. Set it aside. Work on something else. Take time away so you can come back with fresh eyes. When you return to it, revise it again.

Your manuscript needs to be loved. Finishing is not a reason to send it out on submission. You need to love it. It needs to be ready.

Great reads from the session:

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24. Neal Shusterman: Making Meaning: The writer's struggle to find order in the chaos, and stories worth telling

Neal Shusterman is the New York Times best-selling author of the National Book Award-winning CHALLENGER DEEP, which was a Cooperative Children's Book center choice, a YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick, and on twelve state lists; THE SCHWA WAS HERE; and the Unwind dystology, among many other books.

The first story Neal ever remembers writing was in third grade, a Halloween story that he received a D- on.

When he was 14, JAWS came out. He wanted to be Steven Spielberg with Peter Benchley. Books that were influential to him as a kid: The Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, The Shining. Neal wrote a book in high school that his teacher sent to a contest. He didn't win, but his teacher saw enough potential to send it in.

After graduating high school is when Neal really got into telling stories. As a camp counselor he was able to tell stories to quiet kids at night. First he started with movies he'd seen, but then he made up his own. When he went to college that year, he wrote the story that was popular with the kids that summer. He even sent it out to publishes (at 19). Every single publisher  rejected it. Neal says for good reason. It was awful.

The next summer he had another story the campers loved. Neal did the same thing when returning back to college. He wrote the story and this one got him an agent. Unfortunately, his agent couldn't sell it. The story was not ready.

Ten years later he looked at the story again and knew what he needed to do. The same story, but all new words. This one was published.

His next book also received many rejection. Neal put it away and came back to it many years later and was able to rework it. It too sold.

When writing you have to do what works for you.

Be a well-rounded writer. Don't just focus on your strengths, focus on your weakness. If there is something you know that you need to do better, focus on it.

There's no such thing as writers block. Writers block is writing. A lot of times writing is like banging your head against the wall. If you call it writers block, it gives you permission to walk away. You have to work your way through it. It's part of the process.

Don't get stuck on just one book.

Be sure to get feedback from people who will be honest with you, especially other writers.

"Your work is never good enough, no matter how much you've been published." What's great as a writer is that you're always growing. Let yourself grow. On your next book, always asks what you can do better.

Why do we write? It's all about the reader. Deep down we all have something to say.

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25. Oh my!

Have I been gone that long?

I picked up three more hours at the library for which I work.  I have done a smattering of storytelling engagements. - but enough to keep me busy and distracted.  I have read.  A lot.  Mostly eBooks.  Because actually budging to go to a library once I get home is just too much work.

So...The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.    The writing in this book swept me well into the fray.  There is a village.  Every year, that village leaves the newest baby deep in the forest as a sacrifice? gift? to the evil wicked awful witch.

And there is a forest wherein dwells an old witch, a swamp monster whose importance can only be imagined and a dragon who never seems to grow older.

The witch gathers up each child, - always wondering why the villagers leave the infants there but never wondering for very long, - and carries the infant to the other side of the forest where loving adoptive parents wait.  The witch feeds each child on starlight.

Meanwhile, in the village there is grieving and sadness and someone who feeds on both.

One day,  the witch falls asleep and the infant in her arms feeds on moonlight... and everything is changed.  

This is a novel about oppression and parenthood - which really are NOT the same thing.  The witch finds parenting her moonfed child harder than she could imagine.   The novel is also about questioning the status quo and about powerful people who are parasites.  And the novel is about pain.

The novel is also a bit more complicated than I wanted it to be.  It all fits together nicely in the end. 

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