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1. Pacing

Seven keys to improving the pacing of your novel.

http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2015/03/seven-key-elements-of-pacing-your-novel.html

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2. Bra Maker Spoofs Disney Musicals In New Commercial

Every woman dreams of finally finding the right bra, according to a Swiss lingerie manufacturer.

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3. बना डाला है


भगवान को दुकान बना डाला है,
दुआओं को मकान बना डाला है,

ऐसे ताले पड़े है अक्ल में अपने,
खुशियों को मेहमान बना डाला है,

विश्वाश की खोखली बातें करते,
खराब गले को तान बना डाला है,

पैसे का नशा चढ़ा है इस कदर,
लालच का विमान बना डाला है,

ऊँची इमारतो में रहते है पर,
जलन को सम्मान बना डाला है ,

प्रेम की कैसी पीढ़ी आई है यह,
तन हवस का सामान बना डाला है,

हैरान हूँ आज देखकर मैं 'साकी'
इंसान को भी हैवान बना डाला है ||   

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4. Nervous Conditions review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tsitsi Dangarembga's 1988 novel, Nervous Conditions -- a novel that lives up to its modern-African-classic reputation.

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5. Little Happy Lists, Redux

1. Piano recital: accomplished. And swimmingly, I might add. Particularly sweet this year because the music school divided the recital students into smaller groups (fewer classes lumped together into each recital), which meant our girls’ three classes were part of a five-class recital consisting mostly of good friends, families in our homeschooling circle. Best part: the way Huck (not yet a student) gasped in delighted recognition at the songs played by the beginner class (a level below Rilla’s group), because he recognized all the songs from last year when Rilla was learning them. Next year it will be his turn to begin! Hard to believe.

2. The drought, oh the drought, it has hit my garden hard. I’ve planted a lot of drought-tolerant natives over the years, so things are limping along, but still, it’s pretty grim out there. As it must be: flower-gardening will have to be one of the indulgences we let go in the new normal that is our hot-and-getting-hotter world. At least here in this dry-and-getting-drier state. Some of my work this year has involved a lot (a LOT) of research into California’s drying aquifers and the truly shocking lack of Sierra snowmelt and its impacts, and the sobering percentage of reduction of water deliveries to certain small towns from the State Water Project, and, well, you can’t face those facts and go on lavishing water on delphiniums. I’m becoming something of a vicarious gardener once again—the way I was in grad school when I confessed to the poet Robert Pinsky, whom I was tasked with picking up at the airport for a reading, that my habit while driving around town was to re-imagine the landscaping of all the yards I passed. Only now I’m mentally tearing up all the thirsty lawns around me in this desert. But I may have to find room for an annual trip to Portland in the spring, to soak myself for a few days in the glories of lush blossom and unfurling ferns. For now I must apply the tactic I used with much success back in those garden-deprived grad-school days: houseplants require very little water. Rilla and I went to work this week, taking cuttings and clippings to bring a bit of the bright outside indoors. And (influenced by Anne Shirley, of course) I’ve always kept windowsill geraniums with their cheery blooms perched on my kitchen sink—you can never go wrong with good old pelargonium. Thus this item belongs on a happy list even though its genesis is a bleak climate situation.

3. Kate Winslet does a smashing job with the voices in the Matilda audiobook. Rilla and I have one chapter left. We may not be able to wait for our Saturday-night ritual (audiobook + sketchbook time while the older girls watch S.H.I.E.L.D. with Scott) to finish. Which means I’d better come up with our next listen before Saturday…

4. Broadchurch Season 2. Wow.

5. Last night we watched a movie called Begin Again. Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, and yet I had somehow failed to hear about it until Scott queued it up. (He has unerring instincts for films that will delight me.) I loved it. A lovely, thoughtful piece by the writer/director of Once. I’ll watch it again.

What I’m reading this week

To the kids: House at Pooh Corner (still)

Myself: Connie Willis’s Blackout (Determined to finish this time! The other times I’ve begun and set it aside, it wasn’t because I wasn’t interested. Other things just kept crowding in. We’ll see if this time around is different.)

Photo of the week

San Diego children's authors

My friend Edith Hope Fine shared this photo, taken at last weekend’s Greater San Diego Reading Association awards breakfast, on Facebook, and our pal Salina Yoon dressed it up with everyone’s book covers. What a fantastic community of writers and illustrators we have here in San Diego! (Thanks, Edith, Salina, and—wait, who took the photo? I can’t remember!)

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6. Doodles and Drafts – Getting silly with Gregg Dreise

As one strolls about this wondrous planet, one encounters a variety of individuals who may astound, influence, enrich, or even, deplete you. Not everyone we meet ends up a friend. Life is often an ongoing cycle of trials and consequences. How we survive and interpret the progression of life builds character and shapes us as […]

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7. One Last Post And I'm Gone!

Ahhh. I do wish people would read posts before having as arse burger.

I did not ever -ever- state or hint that women should not be reading comics.  I encouraged my young niece to read comics when she was a tot so get it straight.  Read what is written.

If -if- any of the women currently jump onto the comic scene become real comickers then great.  The more the merrier and the same applies to all those men who are in the same category.

Mass buying huge stacks of comics then saying "I have no idea what this is -is it any good -leave a comment!" shows what you are.

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8. Wiggle


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9. Full Speed Ahead Gardening

dainty violets

dainty violets

This has definitely been a full weekend. With sunny days and high temperatures around 80F/26C, I had to get outside and take advantage of it. Saturday I worked outside several hours cleaning up the dead stalks from last year’s perennials. I have two more beds in the front of the house yet to do. This always takes so much longer than I expect it to and the compost bin is overflowing. But everything is looking great. The black currant has leaves and so does the gooseberry which also is getting tiny little flowers on it. And those wonderful violets that no one ever plants but seem to pop up everywhere are, well, everywhere and blooming mostly white but a few purple too. The tulips are open now as well and one of them has already been beheaded by a naughty squirrel. At least it is only one. The squirrels have ripped off the heads of all of them in one go before.

In the veggie garden the radishes are coming in strong. I am so looking forward to radishes. Last year I discovered how good they were sliced up on sandwiches and I’ve been craving them since the seeds arrived in the mail in January. Another three weeks and I can feed my craving.

Last night Bookman and I planted more peas. We also planted mustard, kale and spinach. Bookman has been on a spinach kick lately so we planted a lot of spinach. We also planted a lot of kale because I love kale and I found a recipe for garlicky kale salad with crispy chickpeas last month that I am yearning to try.

I can tell it’s spring because I am craving mounds of leafy greens. In the winter our greens have to come from somewhere else and that somewhere is California. But with the worst drought they have seen in decades, the greens have been rather small and sad and I have felt very guilty even eating them. So hopefully in a few weeks I will be able to start eating fresh greens from as local as my own garden. The French sorrel in the herb spiral is just sprouting up but there is a common sorrel that seeded itself from somewhere next to the defunct Amy Pond that is already tall and leafy. I am planning on pulling off a leaf or two to have on my black bean burger this evening at dinner. Yum.

Walter our crabapple tree has burst into bloom and is he looking gorgeous! I noticed last night that his

Walter the crabapple

Walter the crabapple

blossoms are lightly and pleasantly scented. The bush cherries are also blooming. This year I will be sure to put netting over them so I can actually try the little cherries! My nextdoor neighbor’s tart cherry tree is also in bloom. They don’t pick the cherries because they have to be pitted and cooked and they think that is just too much work. Bookman and I do not feel the same way, however, and they let us pick as many as we want. Last year there were hardly any cherries and the ones that did come on were really small so we didn’t bother. It is not looking like it will be good this year either. Several branches of the tree are completely bare. Depending on how things turn out in the chicken garden, I might have to seriously consider planting my own cherry tree because sweet or tart, do I ever love cherries!

We are expecting thunderstorms later this evening, but if I have the get up and go after dinner I will spend a bit of time in the garden planting arugula. I might not have the energy though because of all the bike riding I have been doing this weekend. Yesterday I did 34 miles/54.7 km indoors on the trainer and early this morning Bookman and I went out on our bikes and rode 35.7 miles/57.4 km. It was a beautiful ride, sunny and the perfect temperature. Our only snafu was getting caught passing through the Walk for MS crowd. We did not know the walk was today and there were so many people! They were totally oblivious about all the cyclists who were out and, like us, got stuck in their traffic. But since Bookman has multiple sclerosis we really appreciated seeing so many people and thanked many of the groups we passed for walking.

Look fast before the squirrels behead them!

Look fast before the squirrels behead them!

We are doing so well with our biking that we are considering doing the train and trail tour in June, a 45 mile/72.4km ride that involves taking the Northstar Commuter rail train north and outside of town and then cycling back. Doesn’t that seem like it would be lots of fun? We will have to decide soon if we want to do it because the ride is limited to 150 participants. I suppose even on a Sunday they don’t want to have hundreds of people and their bikes crowding onto the train, which probably has a capacity limit. Will we go? Stay tuned!

I have a lovely short week at work ahead because this Friday is the Friends School Plant Sale! Think of the biggest book sale you have ever been to, then imagine you are a gardener and the books are plants. That’s what this is like. And just like book people are generally very friendly, so too are gardeners. But when there is a sale, all bets are off and woe to anyone who gets in the way of the object of desire. I finalized my plant list just this afternoon. I am ready! Of course I will tell you all about it.


Filed under: biking, gardening

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10. April Mosaic -- Two by Two

Two colors of hyacinth (and fun with a lens).

Cars so small that two can fit in one parking space.

Two yellow blooms in a sea of green.

Two daffodils after a rain shower.

 New leaves and new blooms--two unfurling on the redbud.



April this year was a month for writing poetry, not for taking pictures. Hopefully, May will be a month for both!

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11. Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

  Twig is an only child as far as the townspeople know.  They don't realize that her older brother James lives in the attic, out at Fowler Farm.  Twig's mother returned to the family farm late at night when Twig was small.  The rules were set right then and there.  The Fowlers kept to themselves; made no friends; excepted no visitors.  200 years before, Agnes Early, who lived in abandoned Mourning Dove Cottage, put a curse on all the men in the Fowler family.

The town of Sidwell accepts their own, no matter how strange they behave.  Besides, with a series of small thefts, reports of strange things flying at night and weird graffiti, the townsfolk can't worry about the Fowler women.

Then, one day, Mourning Dove Cottage is no longer abandoned.  Twig finds a friend.  James finds a reason to come out of hiding.  And the Fowler family finds themselves in the spotlight.

The story is compelling.  The characters well-drawn and sympathetic.  The dilemma faced by all the young people in this book is troublesome.  How do they protect James from people who might misunderstand his differences?  How can they break the curse?

I never felt that the book was written for young people.  There was a measured pace - not that things didn't happen quickly enough.  They did.  But the pace seemed better suited to more seasoned readers.  As things became complicated, though, I felt the author explained feelings too much.  I wasn't sure she trusted her audience.  These two things made a stellar book a little less starry.

The story is the kind we fall asleep dreaming of - possibilities, hopes and moonlight.  Enjoy.

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12. New Swedish Book Review

       The 2015:1 Issue of the Swedish Book Review is now up, with all the book reviews and some of the articles (including a report on The Tove Jansson Centennial Conference: Multiple Aesthetics, Passion, Politics and Philosophy by Silvester Mazzarella) freely accessible.

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13. Meet Phryne Fisher

Cocaine Blues. (Phryne Fisher #1) Kerry Greenwood. 1989/2007. Poisoned Pen Press. 175 pages. [Source: Library]

I wanted to like Cocaine Blues. I did. There were a few things about this mystery that I did enjoy. I enjoyed the setting. Australia in the 1920s. I enjoyed the fact that there were several story lines going on at once: how Phryne Fisher had several cases, or potential cases, that she was looking into. On the surface, at least, these are all unconnected interests. The first is perhaps the least entertaining, the "case" that brought her to Australia to begin with: a concerned father wanting to check up on his daughter. He thinks she's being poisoned. One story, as you might have guessed, is about cocaine. One of Phryne's new acquaintances is searching for 'the king' of cocaine. There's a third story as well, though I hesitate to tell you too much about ANY of the stories. The fact that there were multiple stories to follow or cases to solve helped the book a good deal. I also appreciated getting to know Phyrne's new maid. There were a few minor characters that I just liked almost from the start.

But what I didn't like is the amount of smut. Cocaine Blues is far from "clean" let's just say. There will be plenty of readers who will enjoy ALL the aspects of the mystery, but, I was not one of them.

Flying Too High. Kerry Greenwood. 1990/2006. Poisoned Pen Press. 156 pages. [Source: Library]

Did I enjoy Flying Too High? Yes and no. Once I started, I felt I had to finish it. For better or worse. I'm disappointed with some of the content. I expect certain types of romance novels to have smut, but, I don't like the blending of smut into mysteries. I enjoy mysteries very much, smut not so much. (Some readers probably enjoy both, so this series will probably have fans.)

What I liked most about Flying Too High were the multiple mysteries involved. I liked following all three stories. I liked Phryne best when she was actively working on a case, and keeping her mind focused on the case. Sometimes she got TOO distracted. I thought she acted a bit unprofessional at times too.

I will probably not continue on with the series.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Cullman Fellows

       They've announced the 2015-2016 Fellows at the New York Public Library's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers -- a nine-month gig that includes "a stipend of up to $70,000, an office, a computer, and full access to the Library's physical and electronic resources".
       Always an interesting group of writers and projects, but most eye-catching this time around are:

  • Two-time Best Translated Book Award-winner Krasznahorkai László, who: "will be working on a novel about Melville after the publication of Moby Dick". Awesome !

  • Bonsai-author Alejandro Zambra, who: "will be working on a book about personal libraries".

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15. Does Forgiveness Cleanse Our Soul?

Recently, a friend of mine asked me to write a blog on forgiveness.  At first, I thought how am I going to accomplish this when I could not really think of what to write exactly based on this topic.  I thought about this topic for a few days until I finally understood what the idea of "forgiveness" meant.

 If you were to look up in a dictionary the word forgive you would see,

"stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake."  It is an easy word to define.  However, is it an easy task to do?  A child as young as three years old may say, "I'm sorry."  A parent or a friend may say, "I forgive you."  However some crimes may be unforgivable.  Should a murderer be forgiven?  If someone took advantage of you and stole your money, should they be forgiven?  How much  do we allow ourselves to accept forgiveness?  "I forgive you," are three words that are not always so easy to say.  Sometimes, a friend might do something offensive to you, but time heals all wounds.  If you choose to live in a world of hatred and contempt, are you living the jovial life that you deserve?  If we don't forgive our friends, we may not have anyone to turn to and might live our life isolated from the outside world.  When you forgive someone, does it help you to relieve some tension and feel blithely again.  As a dear man once said,"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
If you decide to hold a grudge for the rest of your life will you truly feel at peace and be happy with your decision to hold on to your hate?   Mahatma Gandhi once said," The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
Personally, I believe forgiveness is a difficult task to accomplish.  It all depends on the person's misdemeanor.  If a person did something that is horrific and indefensible, then forgiveness may be unfeasible.  If you choose to, you can try to rise above it and attempt to forgive.  However, never forget what was done so that you can never feel staggered by that person's actions again.  A wise man once said, "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  John F. Kennedy
 

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16. A Thousand Pieces of You Book Review

Title: A Thousand Pieces of You Author: Claudia Gray Publisher: HarperTeen Publication Date: November 4, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0062278968 368 pp. ARC provided by publisher A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray is the first in her new Firebird series, a rollicking, action-packed novel about love and revenge across parallel universes. Marguerite Caine is an artist in a family of scientists.

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17. Sidewalk Flowers

A most gorgeous, wordless picture book about living in the present, 'Sidewalk Flowers', conceived by Jon Arno Lawson,  illustrated by Sidney Smith and published by House of Anansi/ Groundwoood Press, who describe the book as "an ode to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures"






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18. Aunt Helen

My parents never took me
To a concert or a show.
The city wasn’t where they ever
Felt the need to go.

But luckily, I was exposed
To things that did enchant.
For that I owe a debt
To the umbrella of my aunt.

As metaphor, she took me in
And underneath her wing,
She opened up the world to me,
The joy that it could bring.

The Philharmonic, Broadway shows,
Hot chocolate made from scratch;
The special times I spent with her
Nobody else could match.

The other meaning’s literal –
For just like Cinderella,
I felt transformed as I would twirl
My very first umbrella.

It was my favorite gift from her –
Emblazoned with my name;
There haven’t been too many since
That made me feel the same.

Aunt Helen will be laid to rest
But she will always be
A person who knew just the way
To reach the soul of me.

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19. Week in review 5/3/15

The week got off to a lovely start last Sunday. After four days of lolling around at the beach reading manuscripts we headed back to the city.  Y'all were busy reading the Week in Review.
One of the things I really love about the round up: your writing. All of you are writers of course, but sometimes there's a turn of phrase, or sentence (or like with Julie Weathers an entire post!) where I think "oh boy, there's talent!)

Here's one from Jennifer R. Donohue like that:
Does anybody else's dog like Spam? Elka went high obedience ballistic for it last night when it was cooking. Like "I am sitting. I would like that meat in my mouth. Oh, come on. I'll testify as hard as I can. spamspamspam"

LynnRodz asked:
I wonder if Barbara Poelle ever pops by here and sees all the praise you bestows upon her?
I think Barbara is too busy juggling auctions to do much blog reading. Either that or taste testing the new vodka crop.

Dena Pawling has a good idea:
I figured out that OP meant the person who had submitted the question, without really knowing what the acronym actually meant. It would take quite a bit more mental energy plus the search feature, to figure out the possible meanings of Carkoon and Buttonweezer. Therefore, not knowing what those two meant would possibly make more timid folks (1) feel like an outsider, (2) be embarrassed to ask, and (3) not feel comfortable posting their own comments. Therefore, because I've been on the excluded side of blogs and groups many times in the past [I vacillate between not wanting to join a group that would actually want me as a member, and not wanting to participate in a group that doesn't want me], and the knowledge that Ms. Reid loves her blog community and wants it all-inclusive even for the likes of me, I'll offer up my definitions. Maybe Colin, the compiler of the acronyms [Compiler Of Links creating Inclusion for Newbies], can provide that aforementioned list, complete with links if they can be found. Hopefully, having such a list would make new folks feel welcome [because they are], rather than even MORE hesitant to post a comment.

You'll notice there's now a link to terms used on the blog on the right hand side of the blog roll.  If any of you think others should be added let me know in the comments section here.



S.D. King's eagle eye caught something:
"learn the category (I have a middle grade novel on submission now.)"


Janet, You thought you could slip that in there and I wouldn't notice?

Now I really need to send my query to the shark to prepare it to send to the shark!

Here's the bad news: I don't take on middle grade. Yes, I have one on submission right now but it was written by a CLIENT that I signed for another project in a category I do take on. This was how Brooks Sherman ended up selling a picture book written by my client Sean Ferrell.  Now that Brooks is Bent, I can't force him to do my bidding.
But, to the point, middle grade queries are still going to get a redirection to a more suitable agent. (sorry!)

Lance's comment (As a serial, part-time lurker, I thank Dena for the glossary) reminded me that glossary was the word I was looking for to describe terms used on the blog. And it's such a lovely word! Glossary!

I thin Amy Schaefer summed up my intent on acronyms and now the glossary much better than I did (which is what happens when you have writers hanging about!)

I am glad to have support in my anti-acronym battle (notice how I didn't shorten that), and I think Janet's point about including one and all in our commenting nonsense here is critical. I've avoided many an internet community (and even a few real life ones) because the members seemed too clannish, too caught up in their inside jokes and common history to allow a newbie in. I'd hate for that to happen here.

Lurkers, you're just like those of us who can't keep out hands off the keyboard. Don't let our nonsense hold you back if and when you have something to say. And, if it suits you, come be nonsensical with us!


Lance also asked
 I don't understand the relationship of woodland creatures to The Shark unless it is a metaphor for how we writers yet to be published (WYTBP) exist separate from the publishing world. That is to say, we have to form pyramids of 'possums and heave our queries over the seawall into the lagoon wherein lies The Reef. Once agented, a writer is magically transformed into a creature of the reef, interacting more directly with The Shark.
Pharosian reminded us of where that term came from:
On several (okay, many) occasions, unpublished authors have posed questions to Janet that indicate a certain amount of over-thinking, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, timidity, uncertainty, and a general fear of Big Bad Agents. In her response to the questioner that day she said, "Writers are woodland creatures who worry about every single thing they can think of and when that isn't enough, they look for newly discovered things to worry about."
Julie suggested the titmouse as a typical example. I tend to think of wide-eyed, innocent Bambi types, or twitchy-nosed bunnies. Regardless, the term stuck. One thing this group has demonstrated an aptitude for par excellence is taking an idea and running with it!



and didn't this just make you want a dinner invitation to John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur's house?
My rule is, if I can smell you across the table, you're wearing too much. If I can smell you before you come in the door you're wearing WAY too much and need to be tranqued with a dart gun.




On Monday, the we talked about novels on submission that might be too similar to what an agent represents.

brianrschwarz got his wifi on Carkoon working long enough to say this:
To the topic at hand - I want to say it was either Tolkien or Lewis who were once quoted as saying "great writers don't rip one person off... they rip EVERYONE off"

Their point was just that you can't write in a vacuum. It's just not possible. So no matter what you do, you're borrowing from somewhere or someone or something. The line between taking a usual device, name, location or trope versus copying entire segments of a story or a blueprint of a character of course are different things.

Which is exactly what I meant, but better.

And I like what Shaun Hutchinson said too:
Coincidences happen. Even really weird ones. You think you've written a wholly unique book that no one could have possibly ever come up with, but you're probably wrong. What sets books apart is how you write them. Your ideas may not be unique, but your execution is. That's how you set yourself apart from similar plots.

bjmuntain made another good point with this:
It's so, so important to understand the difference between ideas and tropes. I don't think anyone here would have that problem, but a writing group I used to belong to fell apart because a beginning writer claimed her 'ideas' were being stolen, because another writer just happened to be using the same old fantasy tropes that Terry Brooks used long before then.

brianrschwarz asked:
Question for Janet - How do intellectual rights work in writing? What is being copyrighted? The main themes? Character names and generic profiles? Is the court the ultimate decider?

I mean, if fan-fic isn't considered a copyright infringement than I think the questioner is probably quite safe. But where is the line?

Copyright protects the work you create. Another person can not copy your book or portions of your book without your permission.

Titles do not have copyright protection.
Names do not have copyright protection.
Themes do no have copyright protection.
You don't need to worry about court here. You need to worry about the warranties clause of your publishing contract where you warrant that the work is your own and indemnify the publisher against claims that it isn't. 

Fan fic is very murky in terms of copyright, but the general idea is that if you're doing it for fun, and not trying to hoodwink anyone that you actually created Jack Reacher, it's all good.

What you can NOT do is lift parts of books wholesale, and pass them off as your own.



On Tuesday, the topic was BEA and why writers should NOT plan to attend.

AJ Blythe asked:
Just googled BEA to find out what it was. Interesting they have author signings when the conference is really aimed at industry professionals. Is there something for readers besides the signing? Or are readers happy to attend just for the signing?

Jenny C provided a great answer:
BEA is not the place to be as a writer unless your book is already published or going to be published and you are there to meet booksellers and librarians. I used to attend when I worked as a buyer for a bookstore and I have to say, I always had a fabulous time. I heard authors speak at breakfasts, met them, got signed ARC's and came home with lots of tote bags to share with the staff at the store. (Publishers give out tote bags and booksellers love to collect them.) I also went to fun parties and once in Miami I met Oprah! All the people who work the booths want to meet booksellers and its nice to feel appreciated! And the stacks of ARC! Absolutely the best part! Quite honestly, I never even knew agents attended. You would have to search hard to find one in the sea of booksellers, sales reps and marketing people.

And she added this:
I've been nostalgic this morning, thinking back over all the BEA's I attended. My favorite one was not the time I met Oprah, who ended up canceling her autobiography, but the time I heard a relatively unknown writer named Terri Macmillan speak about her forthcoming book WAITING TO EXHALE. She blew away a room fill of bookseller who just about trampled each other like teenagers at a rock concert to get to the signing line and get a copy. I read it on the plane on the way home, and I still have it. WAITING ended up being a major bestseller for a lot of reasons, but I like to think bookseller enthusiasm generated that day was one of them.

And JEN Garrett took my breath away with this one:

I recently heard advice from a former agent to go to BEA and "give chocolates" or "stuffed animals" to the publishers and agents there. The idea is to make a good impression. But I didn't like the advice at all. I didn't think publishers were there to be schmoozed by "UN" writers. I thought they were there to sell books.

Holy smokestacks that was bad advice. Maybe that explains the "former" part of agent.  At the risk of repeating myself endlessly: the ONLY thing that is going to make a good impression on me is your writing. You can be nicest person in this world or the next but if your writing isn't what I'm looking for, no amount of chocolate or stuff woodland creatures will change that.  Also, those kind of geegaws are expensive and you should save your money for a publicist for when you are published.



On Wednesday the talk turned to online crits.
I like this point, made by Susan Bonifant with a hat tip to DeadSpiderEye, a lot
Dead Spider Eye (shudder) made an EXCELLENT point:

"To generalize, the problem with on-line communities is ...communal behaviour. What that means is, your standing within the community is likely to prejudice how your work is considered."

Some sites are like polite neighborhoods - welcoming, and nice enough but not useful because the polite culture suppresses honest critique.

And some are Lord of the Flies.

I liked what kregger said here:
Writing is a craft and within any craft there are beginners, journeymen and masters. I was a beginner once, and I had no idea how ineffectual my writing skills were to readers until I joined a critique forum.
I think it is important for the discussion in this forum to differentiate between getting help at the skill of writing and help about a plotline or story arc.
I agree with the majority of the pro and con about critique forums as listed above and have probably participated unwittingly in the good, bad and ugly of the forums. It's part of the learning process.
The hard part for a writer is either knowing (or not) the amount of help they need.

And Megan V made a good case for online crits:
I'm a proponent of using random people from online forums as critics. My reasoning: In the music world, some people have perfect pitch and can't sing worth a damn. Likewise, in the writing world, some people can't write worth a damn, but when they read another writer's work, suddenly they are gifted surgeons who know when their incisions should be accompanied by anesthesia.

Of course, you find out rather quickly who has the pitch and the gifted hands and who is just cutting for the sake of drawing blood.

On Thursday we talked about whether a publisher can force a writer to change the ending of a book:

Lisa Bodenheim asked:
I suppose this is NOT something to put in a query letter because we don't tell the ending in the query letter. But it would be a good question to ask an agent when The Call is received, just to be sure an agent is fully enthusiastic about our book with the ending we've chosen.

You don't put that in a query letter for a different reason. A query is not the place to be listing what you will or will not accept from a publisher. That kind of list makes you seem hard to deal with and/or uninformed.  While I can and do sign authors who are uninformed about how publishing works I don't want to deal with people who are intractable. Publishing is a team sport and authors who don't understand that generally get picked last, if at all.

I think Matt Adams has a nice summation on this topic:
I think the questioner is about ten steps early to worry about this, but I'll relate my story. After a bunch of querying, my agent offered rep. One thing though, she asked, what would you think about changing the ending (she thought it would be better a bit more ambiguous than the happy one I'd written). I thought about, asked a few people who'd read.

Then i changed the ending. Either you trust the people you work with or you don't.

And I would guess the questioner would, too, if given the actual choice between publication and non-publication. I think an editor would tell s/he that before offering to buy the book, but if they didn't, you'd have to understand they are BUYING the book. Not agreeing to print your masterpiece, but buying the print versions of it. If the questioner is uncomfortable with that idea, s/he should self publish and save everyone involved a lot of hassle.

It's like Dave Berry said after he sold the rights to his life/books/columns to a TV show (It starred Harry Anderson, the guy from Night Court). He insisted he retain complete creative control over how he spent the money. I think that's the way to look at it.

Shaun Hutchinson added to that:

Matt, you make a good point. When we were shopping my first book, a publisher was interested but only if I was willing to rewrite the last third of my book. I was initially against the idea, but when no other publishers bit, I talked it over with the editor and submitted a revised outline. She bought the book, and I rewrote the last third. As I started doing the rewrites, I was still skeptical, but by the time I'd finished them, I realized that my editor had been correct all along, and that the rewrites improved the book significantly.

That said, I think if an editor didrequest a significant change to the ending, I'd do the rewrite beforesigning the contract to make sure both the editor and I were happy with the new changes before committing to them.

Bonnie Shaljean asked:
Assuming that an author adamantly does NOT want major surgery done on her book:

Can the creator of the work require that she be given final refusal on proposed major changes, and legally ensure that the publisher cannot force them on her, without her having to actually withdraw the book and face punitive financial consequences (never mind lost time)?

After all, the publishers do know what story they're getting before they sign on: they've read it. Whereas the writer can't foresee all the changes she might be told to make, so she can't always forearm the agent. Has she any power other than bailing out and going back to the trenches?

No.
Of course, in the real world, the editor and the agent are discussing the book, and the editor's ideas long before anything drastic like "your editorial suggestions are like capcha cupcake choices: one dimensional, tasteless and serve only to block me from expressing myself fully"
I do have a deal pending in which the editor has said there will be some substantial changes requested. The author and I agreed to the deal and signed the contract, but we're both waiting to see what the editor wants before  doing anything bold like cashing the check and announcing the deal.



and then there was just this glorious little nugget of great writing from REJourneys that made me life and reminded me how amazing y'all are:

Of course, the author should stay up with the trends of the market, but when you are being flung across the globe, signing children and kissing pictures, do they really have time for that? (The answer is you have to make time, but no one has made time yet. If they had, they'd have to invent a new number for how rich that person would be. Either that or they are keeping the knowledge of how to actually make time to themselves).

On Friday, I might have gone a bit ballistic on the topic of wasting an agent's time, but the overall blog post was about querying an unfinished novel when you have a backlist of published books.

bjmuntain summed up my point very nicely:
The reason an unpublished author needs to have a completed manuscript before pitching it is because they don't have a track record of finishing publication-ready manuscripts. But I've often heard this is different for previously published authors simply because they've proven they can finish a manuscript that's appropriate for publication.

It's like the tendering process for projects. If you've never managed a project, you're not going to win a tender no matter how much you undercut the opposition. However, if you have a good background in completing projects with very good quality results, you can probably bid higher and be more likely to get the contract than someone with a less stellar background.

Mary Feliz just cracked me up with this:
I'm so torn. While I aim to be bold, brave, and brilliant in my writing career, that woodland creature cake "hand" delivered by a shark on a broomstick seems really too tempting to pass up!

Christina Seine asked:
Also, another question for QOTKU: any other traveler tips for someone who's never been to NYC before?

1. Ride the Staten Island Ferry. It's free, and it's the best way to see New York's glorious skyline at night.
2. Don't be afraid to ride the subway. It's very safe, it's the cheapest way to get around town, and there are people who will help you if you get turned around. Just ask.
3. Don't go to any chain restaurants.
4. The most beautiful view of the Chrysler Building can be had walking north on Lexington Ave on the left side of the street between 5 and 6am starting at 21st Street.
5. The best view of the Empire State building is from Sixth Avenue and 29th Street.
6. The best time to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art is Saturday night after 6pm.
7. There is no good time to visit MoMA. It's too crowded for any kind of sane experience.
8. Bryant Park is a lovely reading spot (42nd Street at Sixth Avenue)
9. The best way to see all of what makes New York glorious is to start at Broadway and 72nd street and walk south on Broadway till you hit the Staten Island Ferry (see #1)
10. If you see a lithe blonde woman on rollerblades, zooming south on the Hudson bike path, barking "I don't get out of bed for less than fifty thousand!" that's Barbara Poelle and you should get OUT of her way with alacrity.

and just PS: Happy Birthday dear Gossamer!



On Saturday we talked about Chum Bucket and junior agents.

MB Owen asked a very good question:
I'm not sure how a person could: "make triple dog sure that she isn't heading for the exit anytime soon," unless maybe a little work history.

It's really hard to ascertain that, I agree. I think it's a question of listening closely to how a new agent talks about her job and her life. Someone who hates New York isn't a good candidate for lasting a long time here. Someone who really wants to be something else either (a writer, an actor, a lawyer.)
Mostly though I'd want to make sure that the junior agent is with an agency that's been around awhile and can step in if the junior agent gets recruited for the circus.

S.D.King mentioned my former companion in query shenanigans, the erstwhile Brooks Sherman:
I queried Brooks and heard nothing back. His website says if you don't hear, resubmit the query because they respond. I resubmitted and still crickets. I suppose I could re-resubmit but I don't think he's looking for a long-term non-relationship.

Last time I asked, Brooks had 700 unanswered queries. Behind? He was so behind I threatened to lock the liquor cabinet.  I think he probably still is, but I also think he does respond to everything…eventually.



This was an incredibly busy week here at the Reef. The Edgar festivities commenced on Monday, culminating in the Awards banquet on Wednesday night. It was great fun to see everyone  and catch up on projects, new ideas, great stories, and what everyone is excited about reading.

On Thursday, after thinking my traveling was done, and I was now chained to my desk, I decided to hit Malice Domestic instead. I got on the train at 7am on Friday morning and was in Bethesda by 11, ensconced in "my" spot in the bar. More on that on tomorrow's blog post.

Spring seems to be fully here, thank all deities foreign and domestic. It's not warm really but it's not raining and it's not freezing. I'll take it!





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20. First look at the entire Suicide Squad in costume

Tweeted out by director David Ayer this evening, here’s your full cast photo of the Suicide Squad (in costume)…

Suicide-Squad-Cast-Photo

From the photo, you have your first glimpse of Margot Robbie‘s Harley Quinn, Will Smith‘s Deadshot, Karen Fukuhara‘s Katana (there’s a surprise development!), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje‘s Killer Croc, Jai Courtney‘s Captain Boomerang, Joel Kinnaman‘s Rick Flagg and more that we haven’t gotten confirmation on.

Hit me with your thoughts!

Suicide Squad releases on August 5, 2016.

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21. Urban Sketches

Sketches done in the streets, with people moving around, capturing the moment and atmosphere - that is basically the definition of an 'urban sketch'.
I like drawing in public. Especially when the weather is nice, it's a great excuse to look around you and to even stare at people and study them, listen in on conversations and enjoy the moment.




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22. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip



There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 


An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance
 

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule
http://www.wattpad.com/story/29486760-irresistible-mistake-new-adult-romantic-suspense


Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 
 

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23. Spring is here!

It's springtime! In Mississippi, at least, it's been spring for quite some time and actually hit 80 degrees last week. In celebration, let's highlight some springtime tales for your displays! These books either have or are coming out this spring!

It's the latest Penderwicks book! These are so lovely and the latest one is no exception. Available now, the fourth book in the Penderwicks series has a lot of heart and surprises for each family member. Your kids that have loved the last three books won't be disappointed by this one.

Listen, Slowly is a gorgeous tale of a California girl who spends her summer with her grandmother in Vietnam. She must learn to find the balance between her two worlds. An excellent follow-up to Lai's National Book Award Winning Inside Out and Back Again, this one is gorgeous and evocative. Your students that love to read about other places will devour this one.

Astrid and her best friend Nicole have always done everything together...until Astrid discovers roller derby. Derby is amazing and Astrid is learning so much...but what does this mean for her relationship with Nicole? An excellent addition to the growing canon of upper middle grade graphic novels that is so wonderful.

The first book in an exciting new series! Horace is absentmindedly looking out the window of the bus...when he sees a sign with his name on it.  What he finds under the sign will change his life forever. Gifts! Magic! New friends! Perfect for the fantasy lovers in your library.

Out next month, Murder is Bad Manners is a charming tale of murder and Mayhem at an English boarding school in the 1930s. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have formed their own secret detective agency...but they never thought they'd have a real murder to investigate! This one hits all the high points: historical fiction, mystery, and friendship.

*

Our guest blogger from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

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24. Want to write for TWT?

We're expanding our co-author team to include another one (or two) classroom teacher voices. If you're interested, please fill out the form contained in this post by Friday, May 15th.

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25. Five Questions — WEEK 1

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Whadda week! Rafael and I got to ask a lot of great, talented people 5 Questions!  Check out the interviews…

 5 Questions with Cece Bell at Sturdy for Common Things

 

 

 

 

 

5 Questions with Kazu Kibuishi @ Geek Dad

5 Questions with Joey Weiser @ The Brain Lair

 

 

 

 


5 Questions with James Kochalka @ Bumbles and Fairy-Tales

 

 

 

 

5 Questions with Mariko Tamaki @ A Book and a Latte

 

 

 

 

 

And Rafael interviewed this guy I know….

5 Questions with Jorge Aguirre at the Windy Pages

 

 

 

 

5 Questions with Luke Pearson at Mr. Schu Reads

 

 

 

 

 

Coming up this week: Jeffrey Brown, Cecil Castellucci, Frank Cammuso, Hope Larson, Eric Orchard, Kean Soo, and Dave Roman!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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