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1. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press, 2014)

You know Mac and Jon. You love Mac and Jon. Now meet Sam and Dave. You’ll love Sam and Dave.

Don’t rush into the pages just yet. This is one of the best covers I’ve seen in a long while. If we weren’t so aware that Jon Klassen (that insta-recognizable style!) is a contemporary illustrator, I would wholeheartedly presume that it was some vintage thing in a used bookstore. A find to gloat about, a find that makes you wonder just how you got so lucky.

The hole. The space left over. The words, stacked deeper and deeper. The apple tree whose tippy top is hidden. Two chaps, two caps, two shovels. One understanding dog.

Speaking of two chaps, two caps, and two shovels, check out the trailer.

(I’ll wait if you need to watch that about five more times.)

The start of their hole is shallow, and they are proud. But they have only just started. Sam asks Dave when they should stop, and this is Dave’s reply:

“We won’t stop digging until we find something spectacular.”

Dave’s voice of reason is so comforting to any young adventurer. It’s validating that your goal is something spectacular. (Do we forget this as grownups? To search for somthing spectacular? I think we do.)

Perhaps the pooch is the true voice of reason here, though he doesn’t ever let out a bark or a grumble. Those eyes, the scent, the hunt. He knows.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

(click to enlarge)

And this is where Sam and Dave Dig a Hole treads the waters of picture book perfection. The treasure, this spectacular something, is just beyond the Sam and Dave’s reality. The reader gets the treat where Sam and Dave are stumped. Do you want to sit back and sigh about their unfortunate luck? Do you want to holler at them to just go this way or that way or pay attention to your brilliant dog? Do you root for them? Do you keep your secret?

The text placement on each page is sublime. If Sam and Dave plant themselves at the bottom of the page, so does the text. If the hole is deep and skinny, the text block mirrors its length. This design choice is a spectacular something. It’s subtle. It’s meaningful. It’s thoughtful and inevitable all at once.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

(click to enlarge)

And then – then! Something spectacular. The text switches sides. The boys fall down. Through? Into? Under? Did the boys reach the other side? Are they where they started? Is this real life? Their homecoming is the same, but different. Where there was a this, now there is a that. Where there was a hmm, now there is an ahhh.

Spectacular indeed.

I like to think that the impossible journey here is a nod to Ruth Krauss and Maurice Sendak’s collaboration, A Hole is to Dig. That’s what holes are for. That’s what the dirt asks of you. It’s not something you do alone or without a plan or without hope. Sam and Dave operate in this truth. They need to dig. There’s not another choice.

AHoleIsToDig

(image here // a first edition, first printing!)

Sidenote: I’m pretty thrilled that these scribbles live in my ARC.

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

Look for this one on October 14th.

SAM AND DAVE DIG A HOLE. Text copyright © 2014 by Mac Barnett. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jon Klassen.Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

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2. Trendwatch: Tweet Tweet. Year of the Bird.

I don’t do all that many trendwatch posts on this site, if only because it’s impossible to keep track of them all.  One minute you’re seeing tons of picture books involving whales.  Another minute you’re noticing more than one book about encouraging your pet to become atheist (see this and this).  If you do notice such things you are inclined to put your discovery into some sort of context.  What do atheist children’s books say about the state of the world today?  How do we equate whales with ourselves? That sort of thing.

One particularly odd little trend of middle grade fiction this year (which is to say, books for children between the ages of 9-12) involves our fine feathered friends.  I’m not talking about nonfiction like Feathers: Not Just for Flying or Have You Heard the Nesting Bird.  Nor am I referring to picture books like Flight School or I Hatched.  Nope.  Middle grade.  And I’m a bit baffled by what I find.

First off, it was early in the year when I noticed two books with those coincidental similarities you sometimes find in our field.  Every year there will be some titles that resemble one another by complete coincidence.  At the beginning of this year they were Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin and Bird by Crystal Chan.  The similarities weren’t overly obvious but they were there.  They both slot into that “A stranger comes to town” plotline.  Here’s a plot summary for Loftin’s book:

It doesn’t seem right that a twelve-year-old boy would carry around a guilt as deep and profound as Little John’s. But when you feel personally responsible for the death of your little sister, it’s hard to let go of those feelings. It doesn’t help matters any that John has to spend the summer helping his dad clear brush for the richest man in town, a guy so extravagant, the local residents just call him The Emperor. It’s on one of these jobs that John comes to meet and get to know The Emperor’s next door neighbor, Gayle. About the age of his own sister when she died, Gayle’s a foster kid who prefers sitting in trees in her own self-made nest to any other activity. But as the two become close friends, John notices odd things about the girl. When she sings it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before, and she even appears to possibly have the ability to heal people with her voice. It doesn’t take long before The Emperor becomes aware of the treasure in his midst. He wants Gayle’s one of a kind voice, and he’ll do anything to have it. The question is, what does John think is more important: His family’s livelihood or the full-throated song of one little girl?

NightingalesNest Trendwatch: Tweet Tweet.  Year of the Bird.

And here’s the publisher plot summary for Chan’s:

Jewel never knew her brother Bird, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Her parents blame Grandpa for the tragedy of their family’s past; they say that Grandpa attracted a malevolent spirit—a duppy—into their home. Grandpa hasn’t spoken a word since. Now Jewel is twelve, and she lives in a house full of secrets and impenetrable silence. Jewel is sure that no one will ever love her like they loved Bird, until the night that she meets a mysterious boy in a tree. Grandpa is convinced that the boy is a duppy, but Jewel knows that he is something more. And that maybe—just maybe—the time has come to break through the stagnant silence of the past.

Bird Trendwatch: Tweet Tweet.  Year of the Bird.

Both stories involve a dead sibling and a family’s ability (or inability) to cope after the fact. Bird wasn’t quite as reliant as magical realism as far as I could tell, but there was a distinct mystery about it.  And, of course, the idea of children as birds, for good or for ill.

Later in the year more bird books started cropping up. When Beyond the Laughing Sky by Michelle Cuevas appeared it has some striking similarities to Nightingale’s Nest as well.  The plot summary reads:

Ten-year-old Nashville doesn’t feel like he belongs with his family, in his town, or even in this world. He was hatched from an egg his father found on the sidewalk and has grown into something not quite boy and not quite bird. Despite the support of his loving parents and his adoring sister, Junebug, Nashville wishes more than anything that he could join his fellow birds up in the sky. After all, what’s the point of being part bird if you can’t even touch the clouds?

BeyondLaughing Trendwatch: Tweet Tweet.  Year of the Bird.

Far more of a magical realism title, the book takes the idea of a bird-child to the next level.  This one has actually hatched from an egg and has a beak.

And none of this even counts books like Nest by Esther Ehrlich which involves birdwatching in some capacity.  It’s a very different kind of title, but it fits with this overall theme.

I suppose that in the end birds are perfect little metaphor receptacles. Whatever the case, they yield some pretty darn interesting books.

share save 171 16 Trendwatch: Tweet Tweet.  Year of the Bird.

0 Comments on Trendwatch: Tweet Tweet. Year of the Bird. as of 9/30/2014 5:51:00 AM
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3. Life as an Editor Married to an Author

Industry Life

 

 

  by

Jordan Hamessley London

Jordan Hamessley LondonEarlier this month, my husband Matt London, experienced something as an author that I’ve experienced many times as an editor. He launched his middle grade debut novel, The 8th Continent. In my career I’ve witnessed many book launches and supported my authors through all that goes with the publishing process as their editor. With Matt and The 8th Continent, I finally experienced it as a family member.

Let’s rewind about a decade…

My husband and I both got our starts in the publishing world around the same time. In fact, if it weren’t for him, I might not even be an editor today. I had taken a semester off of college to do a national theatre tour and after I returned, I spent the majority of my time in his dorm room reading a book a day. One day, Matt said “You’re a freakishly fast reader. You really should find out how to be a reader for a publishing house or literary agent.” The next day, I applied for an internship at a lit agency, snagged the job, and started my long journey to becoming an editor.

Matt was always writing. Since college I’ve been his first reader on nearly everything he’s written. We dreamed of the day I would be an editor and he would be a published author and we’d be living in a big penthouse on Central Park West… The realities of publishing salaries and the life of a freelance author have made that last big a tad hard to fulfill, but as of this month, we have the first two boxes checked off.

As you can imagine, life in an apartment with one editor and one author can be tricky, so here’s how we have survived.

  • No Crossing the Streams: It was always important to us that we each support each other while keeping up boundaries. When Matt’s book went on submission, there was never a moment when we considered sending it to me or my imprint. In fact, when he received his offer from Razorbill, I was still working at Penguin, and the editor had no idea we were married until he went in for a meeting. Of course, over the years we’ve both made contacts from interactions we’ve had at various parties and book launch parties, but I never sent an email to anyone saying “Hey, my man has a book you should read.” That said, at non-publishing events we often get a side-eye when people ask us what we do. “I’m a children’s book author.” “I’m a children’s book editor.” Quickly followed by an “Uh-huh…”
  • Empathy: I have to say having lived with an author on submission, it does make me look at my long list of submissions with more empathy for the writers. They also have family members listening to them freak out over long submission times and why an agent or editor is tweeting about reading (or not reading) submissions. On the other hand, I’m able to say “Hey, editors are human and sometimes just want to spend some time playing video games (yes, we’re nerds) with their husband or watch some Scandal. Chill out.” We’ve both humanized the other side for each other.
  • Knowing When to Step Aside: Once Matt got his book deal, I told him that I was going to stand back and leave the editing up to his editor. These days I typically read a first draft before he sends it just to assure him it’s not terrible. I don’t read the book again until it’s finished. I know how it can be as an editor knowing that an author has a bevy of beta-readers and family members reading each draft and how those voices can occasionally muddy the editorial process, so I just don’t insert myself. That said, whenever he starts a new project, I’m always very excited to read his new work.
  • Perspective: After spending my entire publishing career living with me, Matt has had a leg up in what to expect as a debut author. He’s been to many events for my authors and has heard all of the behind-the-scenes information on every book I’ve edited, so he went into the publishing process understanding the reality of being a debut middle grade author and did always have me to fall back on if he had a question about part of the process.

So after nearly ten years of working toward our goal, Matt’s book came out this month and it has been amazing and crazy and I couldn’t be more proud of him. I know now firsthand how intense launch week is for an author and their family and want to send hugs to every author and family I’ve ever worked with.

Here’s to many more years of our crazy life in publishing.

Jordan Hamessley London is an Editor at Egmont USA, where she edits middle grade and YA. Her current titles include Isla J. Bick’s new series, The Dark Passages (#1 White Space), Bree DeSpain’s new series Into the Dark (#1 The Shadow Prince), and more. Prior to Egmont, Jordan worked at Grosset and Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers where she edited Adam-Troy Castro’s middle grade horror series Gustav Gloom, Ben H. Winters and Adam F. Watkin’s book of horror poetry Literally Disturbed, Michelle Schusterman’s I Heart Band series, Adam F. Watkins’s alphabet picture book R is for Robot and more. When not editing, Jordan can be found on twitter talking about books, scary movies, and musical theater.

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4. Spotlight and Giveaway: He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis

Book Summary:

For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It’s the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she’s rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she’s ever laid hands on.

 

Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to “save” him. In fact, he’d like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He’s just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole’s heart, or will it be the end of Olivia’s days in little Lucky Harbor? 

Jill’s Bio:

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.
You can learn more about Jill at:
JillShalvis.com
Twitter @jillshalvis

Facebook.com/jillshalvis 

 

HE’S SO FINE is available in mass market paperback, ebook and audio book formats wherever books are sold

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1B0Lc5P

iBooks: http://bit.ly/1p1HaDH

IndieBound: http://bit.ly/1qL9GMO

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1n3cobU

Google Play: http://bit.ly/1vUlsVJ

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1lkIft2

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1qbcfrn

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: He’s So Fine by Jill Shalvis appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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5. Prizes: Cundill Prize shortlist

       Although Canada-based, the folks behind the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature know a loonie is just a loonie and so offer their pay-out in real money: US dollars [I kid, I kid; please -- no e-mails/protests/boycotts] -- and, at 75,000 of them, they lay claim to the title of: "the most lucrative international award for a nonfiction book" -- well, according to the Toronto Star, where they announce this year's shortlist (which isn't yet available at the official site, sigh ...).
       Six titles -- and one of them is actually one I've been making my way through (though haven't managed to review yet) -- a title in translation, no less: David Van Reybrouck's Congo (see the HarperCollins publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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6. Lyudmila Ulitskaya profile

       In the current issue of The New Yorker Masha Gessen profiles Lyudmila Ulitskaya -- surely also one of the maybe two dozen authors in the serious running for the Nobel Prize.
       As Gessen notes, Daniel Stein, Interpreter was a huge success in Russia(n) -- but: "the English translation flopped in the United States" and was "barely noticed" (I noticed, and, yeah, I was a disappointed).
       Still, I am certainly looking forward to/curious about The Big Green Tent (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).

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7. Spotlight and Giveaway: Jagged by Kristen Ashley

Jagged is releasing in paperback, so I have a treat for you!  Check out the excerpt, and then enter the awesome giveaway below!

JAGGED by Kristen Ashley (September 30, 2014; Forever Mass Market; $7.00)

An old flame rekindled . . .
Zara Cinders always knew Ham Reece was the one, but he wasn’t interested in settling down. When she found someone who was, Ham walked out of her life. Three years later, Zara’s lost her business, her marriage, and she’s barely getting by in a tiny apartment on the wrong side of the tracks. As soon as Ham hears about Zara’s plight, he’s on her doorstep offering her a lifeline. Now, it will take every ounce of will power she possesses to resist all that he offers.


Ham was always a traveling man, never one to settle down in one town, with one woman, for more time than absolutely necessary. But Ham’s faced his own demons, and he’s learned a lot. About himself, and about the life he knows he’s meant to live. So when he hears that Zara’s having a rough time, he wants to be the one to help. In fact, he wants to do more than that for Zara. A lot more. But first, he must prove to Zara that he’s a changed man.

Buy Links:

B&N

BAM!

IndieBound

iBooks

Amazon

About the author:

Kristen Ashley grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana, and has lived in Denver, Colorado, and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multigenerational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland, and Kristen grew up listening to the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon, and Whitesnake. Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music and love was a good way to grow up.  And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

Social Media Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

“You’ve been waiting for me to come to you?”

“Babe, you’re my Zara, my cookie, so fuck yeah, I’ve been bidin’ my time, givin’ you space to sort your head out, but waitin’ to get you back, as in”—his hand slid up to cup my jaw and his face dipped closer—“back.”

Was he serious? Two months…no seven, if you counted when he came back after hatchet man got to him, I’d been in misery and he’d been waiting to get me back?

I felt my eyes narrow.

“Last night, you rolled off me and didn’t say a word about a chat before you went to the bathroom,” I reminded him.

“Zara, what we shared, so good, so hot, so close, us bein’ back to us, didn’t feel I needed to say a word,” he replied.

Was he for real? “Back to us” and he didn’t feel he needed to say a word?

“Well, you did,” I stated.

“I see that now,” he returned.

Okay, then, time for a different subject.

“You said you didn’t want my body,” I accused.

“I lied, Zara. Fuck, when have I ever not wanted in there?” he asked, a question that had one answer, that being never. But he didn’t give me the chance to give that answer, he kept talking. “I would have said anything to get you out of that shithole, get you safe, and get you with me.”

“You lied?” I asked.

“I lied,” Ham answered.

“Lied?” My voice was getting higher.

“Asked and answered, darlin’,” he clipped.

“So you thought it was a good idea to lie,” I noted unhappily.

“Babe, I came to you, we almost instantly got up in each other’s shit. You had a lot you were dealin’ with and one of those things didn’t need to be me. You weren’t lettin’ anyone do anything for you. You needed time to deal. I wanted you with me. I did what I had to do to give you that and make that happen for me.”

My head gave a jerk as what he said tardily hit me.

“You wanted me with you?”

He was beginning to look impatient.

“You’ve known me years. I ever go back?” he asked.

“Go back to what?”

“Go back anywhere.”

“Ham—”

“I don’t go back,” he declared.

“I don’t get—”

“Now I’m back in Gnaw Bone, back at The Dog, babe, why do you think that is?”

I didn’t speak. I was back to staring.

Because I knew why I wanted that to be.

I just rarely got what I wanted.

Then Graham Reece finally gave me what I wanted.

“Because you’re here.”

“Holy shit,” I whispered.

He stopped looking impatient, his eyes warmed, his face went soft, and his lips twitched.

But, “Yeah,” was all he said.

GIVEAWAY:

One winner gets a copy of JAGGED with a signed bookplate plus a Vera Bradley wristlet. Five winners get a copy of the book with signed bookplate. This giveaway runs through October 21 and is open to US/Canada only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Spotlight and Giveaway: Jagged by Kristen Ashley appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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8. The Man Between review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Open Letter's tribute-volume to Michael Henry Heim & A Life in Translation, The Man Between, edited by Esther Allen, Sean Cotter, and Russell Scott Valentino.

       (It's a nice (and well-priced !) volume -- but I do note with some amusement that a misspelling of Stieg Larsson's name slipped through (yup, they called him 'Steig', p.276) -- something I'm encountering almost as frequently as misspellings of Edgar Allan Poe's middle name and the mistakenly apostrophized version of Joyce's Finnegans Wake -- a slip that feel almost Freudian coming from translators (who surely have a very uncomfortable relationship with the mega-success of that translation and its notorious history).)

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9. Cool….no…..ADORABLE Photo of the Week!

Meet the Western Pygmy Possum, the subject of our Cool Photo of the Week. This tiny marsupial lives in the dry countryside in various parts of Australia. Its body is just 3 inches (7.7 cm) long and its tail is as long as its body. Like most marsupials (kangaroos, for example), the females in this species carry their young in a pouch until they are ready to live on their own.This photograph makes me want to say: Can I have one, please?!Photo: Amanda McLean

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10. NEW SEASON - boden

Its not just the little ones who get to wear colourful patterns at Boden - there are some interesting prints for the new season in womenswear as well. Here are a few that stood out to me.

0 Comments on NEW SEASON - boden as of 9/30/2014 5:27:00 AM
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11. El Deafo

eldeafo El DeafoThis week, I was lucky enough to have a thirty-minute window when I could pop into my favorite independent bookstore in Los Angeles. They have a large children’s section on the second floor that I love perusing because they do an excellent job at getting new books.

On one of their displays sat El Deafo by Cece Bell. Intrigued first by the illustration of a superhero bunny and second by the title, my immediate thought was “What is this book about and who is this written for?” As if by fate, a children’s book worker looked up from her task of stocking new books and said “Oh that’s a really cute story. I highly recommend it.” I inquired about the reading level and she said it could be from fourth grade to middle school. Opening it, I was stoked to find out it was a graphic novel. Sold. It may be one of the best impulsive $20 I’ve spent of late.

I read this book in two days. It follows the author’s childhood experiences of being deaf, and specifically highlights her experiences in school. What captured me was the depiction of how people treated her and, since it’s from Cece’s point of view, how she felt. Her emotions come through strongly in the text and illustrations, and made me stop and think about how I treat people even if my intention is good. I connected with Cece’s superhero persona, “El Deafo.” Cece uses El Deafo to imagine the ideal way to handle tough situations, even if that doesn’t play out in real life (something I did as a kid too). What I really loved about this book was how the author depicted her friendships with the other kids (the good and the bad). It reminded me that children can sometimes do really mean things but that most of the time they mean well and can be really amazing friends to each other. It’s a lesson I need to carry for the school year.

Cece’s journey starts at the age of four and ends in fifth grade, so as a fifth grade teacher, I’m very excited to bring this graphic novel to my classroom. I think the students will enjoy this book and learn a lot from it. I believe that it will carry lessons of tolerance and respect for those who are hearing impaired, and prepare my students with tools (Don’t cover your mouth while someone is lip reading! Don’t assume all deaf people can sign!) to create meaningful and comfortable experiences with someone who can’t hear well.

share save 171 16 El Deafo

The post El Deafo appeared first on The Horn Book.

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12. Seven Questions Over Breakfast with Hadley Hooper


“Would it be a surprise that you grew up to be a fine painter
Who painted red rooms …”

Over at BookPage, I had the pleasure of reviewing Patricia MacLachlan’s newest picture book, The Iridescence of Birds (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, October 2014), illustrated by Hadley Hooper, pictured left. I fell hard for this book, you all. It’s probably my favorite from this year. It’s simply exquisite in every way. I won’t go on. If you want to know what the book is about and why I love it so, that BookPage review is here.

I’m happy that Hadley obliged when I asked if she’d like to visit 7-Imp for a cyber-breakfast and talk more about her illustration work, this book, and what’s next for her. Best of all, she sent lots of art. This is her second picture book (her first being Shana Corey’s Here Come the Girl Scouts!, published in 2012), though she’s hardly new to illustration. She’s spent years as an editorial illustrator for magazines and newspapers.

When I ask her about breakfast, Hadley says, “well, I’m in Denver where we have A LOT of choices for morning coffee, perhaps because the night before we had A LOT of choices for craft beers. So, there are many opportunities to frustrate a barista with orders like a triple dry cappuccino or shots of espresso over ice. We’ll wait to eat until later if that’s okay!” I’m good for an espresso, though I’ll take mine hot. Let’s get right to it so that we can see more of Hadley’s art.

I thank her for visiting.

* * * * * * *

Jules: Are you an illustrator or author/illustrator?

Hadley: I’m an illustrator/painter. I’d love to write a book one day.


Jules: Can you list your books-to-date?

Hadley: I’ve done two picture books. The most recent is The Iridescence of Birds, a book about Henri Matisse (out in October of 2014!) by Patricia MacLachlan for Neal Porter. And Here Come the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey.


“And she let you mix the colors of paint …”
(Click to enlarge)


“And on the dirt parlor floor
So all the world looked red …”

(Click to enlarge)

Pictured above: Spreads from Patricia MacLachlan’s
The Iridescence of Birds …

Jules: What is your usual medium?

Hadley: In the ’90′s when I started as an editorial illustrator, I was still working in oils. Early on I Fed-Exed a piece of final art that was still tacky but well packed to Ray Gun magazine. I waited until the magazine came out to find the art director had published it with the packing tissue stuck to the image. It actually looked okay, but after that I switched to water-based paints.

For most illustrations, I’ll cut and/or emboss foam and cardboard to make relief prints. I use different transfer techniques and old carbon paper to get interesting line qualities. I’ll scan all the parts in and assemble in Photoshop.


Hadley: “This is a photo of the relief print parts.
(Some of my Photoshop files had over 100 layers.)”

(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Where are your stompin’ grounds?

Hadley: I live with Hugh and Maddie the dog in a now trendy part of Denver called Highland. My studio is ten minutes away in a now trendy part of north Denver called RiNo.


(Click to enlarge)

Jules: Can you tell me about your road to publication?

Hadley: I got out of art school with degrees in both illustration and painting and messed up my first assignment and got a kill fee. I put my portfolio away forever and started working odds jobs — as a scenic painter for theatre, painting murals in homes, painting traditional cells for an animation studio (that was GRRReat!), and waiting many, many tables. In the meantime, I did my own work, joined a co-op to exhibit, and after a time I felt I had something of my own, so I made cards of my paintings and sent them to art directors at magazines. I figured I might as well fail at the top, so I sent samples to the New Yorker and Harper’s and Rolling Stone and got jobs right away. After a year, I quit my waitressing job. My road into children’s books was through the editorial work.


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Pictured above: Spreads from Shana Corey’s Here Come the Girl Scouts!

,
published in 2012 by Scholastic. See more art here in this previous 7-Imp post.

Jules: Can you please point readers to your web site and/or blog?

Hadley: www.hadleyhooper.com.


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Jules: Any new titles/projects you might be working on now that you can tell me about?

Hadley: I have three books on the boards right now with three wonderful publishers, including another for Neal Porter. (My agent of 12 years has great folks, like Serge Bloch, and is responsible for me meeting Neal.)





Illustrations for a workbook from Chronicle, called Back to Us
(Click each to enlarge)

Mmm. Coffee.Okay, I’ve got more espresso, and it’s time to get a bit more detailed with six questions over breakfast. I thank Hadley again for visiting 7-Imp.

1. Jules: What exactly is your process when you are illustrating a book? You can start wherever you’d like when answering: getting initial ideas, starting to illustrate, or even what it’s like under deadline, etc. Do you outline a great deal of the book before you illustrate or just let your muse lead you on and see where you end up?

Hadley

: I love to do research. I will still go to the library, since there’s nothing like having real books sitting open around the studio. I like Pinterest for finding references online. Since the Matisse book is fresh in my mind, it’s easy to talk about in this context.

I looked at every painting of his I could find. What a great luxury! I tried to find fabrics that he may have seen in his hometown, which was a textile town. I looked at the era’s fashion, architecture, even thought about the music he might have listened to. I used Google Maps to knit together the street he grew up on, which really hadn’t changed much, architecturally.


Rough of the opening spread of The Iridescence of Birds


 


Final art: “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived
in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray …”

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Final art: “And the days were cold
And you wanted color and light / And sun …”

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I didn’t leave myself much time for the finals on Matisse, because four completed spreads in, I decided to start over. It was the right thing to do for sure, but it was sort of painful. I had been feeling uncertain about my direction but sent a spread to Neal and Jennifer Brown (the art director) for a look anyway and waited. Uncharacteristically, I didn’t hear back from them right away. That silence, intended or not, was the best art direction ever; it felt like they were letting me come to my own conclusion that it wasn’t quite working. In the next days, I did a totally new “market” spread, the scene of Matisse and his mom, and knew right away it was the way to go. I sent that one back, got approval, and was off and running.


“And let you arrange the fruit and flowers
She brought from the market …”

(Click to enlarge)

I do lots of drawings to get the characters to where I understand what they look like from different angles and poses. I use grease pencil on butcher paper, so I can’t get too detailed or too attached to my first drawings.

I typically like to have more time on roughs, so I’ll design each spread and decide what the color story will be for each. This way when I go to finals, I’ve got a good road map. But I always try to allow the final art to have its own say about where it’s going. I try and pay attention and not kill the energy. It’s a real challenge.


“And the iridescence of birds …”


 


Jacket art from The Iridescence of Birds
(Click to enlarge)

2. Jules: Describe your studio or usual work space.

Hadley

: On a typical day, I’ll put Maddie in the car and drive about ten minutes to my studio. Ironton sits on three quarters of an acre and has 20 studios, including a couple wood shops, a metal fabricator, a one-man bronze foundry, painters, and a gallery. All these different people with their diverse approaches to making art and objects are really fun to be around. Plus, there’s a new artist and show in the gallery every six weeks! I’ve got a studio that looks out onto the garden which I care for. It’s a big room and often a chaotic one. As of this writing (mid September 2014), I’m painting for a gallery show in early November and, yes, the paintings will be wet. The room reflects the different hats I wear, as the gallery coordinator, the gardener, illustrator, and painter.


A photo of the view of the Ironton garden from Hadley’s studio
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Studio photos
(Click each to enlarge)

3. Jules: As a book-lover, it interests me: What books or authors and/or illustrators influenced you as an early reader?

Hadley

: As a young reader, Are You My Mother? was my favorite. I had to Google the book and found that P. D. Eastman did Go, Dog. Go! too, another one in heavy rotation. And all the Seuss books and anything Peanuts. I had the whole Childcraft series, which was heavily illustrated. It’s the same one that’s part of the set dressing for Andy Cohen’s Clubhouse on Bravo! Later reading was Judy Blume and Tolkien.

Weirdly, the most visually memorable thing as a little kid was my favorite sheet set. It had a farm scene on it, and I would spend lots of time daydreaming, looking at all those drawings of hens and animals and a girl with a pail, sort of Roger Duvoisin-like in style.


4. Jules: If you could have three (living) authors or illustrators—whom you have not yet met—over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose? (Some people cheat and list deceased authors/illustrators. I won’t tell.)

Hadley: I’d invite Georganne Deen, Robert Andrew Parker, and Vivienne Flesher. And someone who’s a friend already, whom I don’t get to see but once a year, and he’ll make everyone laugh — John Cuneo. Let’s raise the dead and invite Saul Steinberg, Edward Gorey, Dorothy Parker, and Ben Shahn.

5. Jules: What is currently in rotation on your iPod or loaded in your CD player? Do you listen to music while you create books?

Hadley: I think that music is the number one perk of my job. I love music. I can’t draw a line or even type a letter without it. Recent purchases are the new Damon Albarn, the soundtrack to The Great Beauty (great movie, too), Sylvan Esso, Tindersticks, Sam Amidon, Arvo Pärt. I’m counting the days until Nick Cave’s movie 20,000 Days on Earth opens here.

6. Jules: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Hadley: I was named after Hadley Hemingway, the wife he liked the best. According to my mom.

* * * The Pivot Questionnaire * * *

Jules: What is your favorite word?

Hadley: “Ennui.”

Jules: What is your least favorite word?

Hadley: “Panties.”

Jules: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Hadley: Generosity.

Jules: What turns you off?

Hadley: Self-confidence. I guess it’s more confusing than anything.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word? (optional)

Hadley: “Fuck.” “Screwed the pooch” is a great and useful phrase.

Jules: What sound or noise do you love?

Hadley: Cicadas.

Jules: What sound or noise do you hate?

Hadley: Those gas-powered leaf blowers.

Jules: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Hadley: I’d love to be in a band, something truly collaborative. I’d be the drummer.

Jules: What profession would you not like to do?

Hadley: Accountant.

Jules: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Hadley: “Surprise!”

All artwork and images are used with permission of Hadley Hooper.

THE IRIDESCENCE OF BIRDS. Copyright © 2014 by Patricia MacLachlan. Illustrations © 2014 by Hadley Hooper. Published by Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, New York.

Illustrations from Here Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey, illustrated by Hadley Cooper. Copyright 2012. Published by Scholastic Press.

The spiffy and slightly sinister gentleman introducing the Pivot Questionnaire is Alfred, © 2009 Matt Phelan.

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13. The Flirt

I remember flirting – they did it back when I was in college, I think. It’s like penmanship – I was never any good at it. I was also bad at recognizing the few times it happened to me.

Case in point, I was at a party one time and a girl confided in me that she was having trouble with her boyfriend back home. She said it would be nice if she could find someone to make him jealous and gave me a long and rather odd look. I assumed the look meant she might be gassy or something, so I offered to refill her drink and plodded away.

Upon finding my friend, JC, I told him what had just happened. He gave me an equally odd look and said, “Dude, she wanted to make him jealous with you. Are you stupid?”

I refused to answer his charge, but rushed back to the young lady in question, only to find JC glued to her hip. In fact, he must have told every eligible male in the room because there seemed to be an impenetrable force field of testosterone around her. I have no idea what her intentions were and never saw her again.

800px-Eugen_de_Blaas_The_Flirtation

Now I’m old and married. I flirt with my wife sometimes. I’m so bad at it that she mostly laughs at me when I do. I am a believer in wearing my wedding ring and I don’t frequent bars – so I don’t see much flirtation anymore. If I was bad at recognizing flirtation back in the day, I’m totally out of practice now.

Which brings me to a recent lunch where a lady half my age at a table nearby seemed to be peeking my way. It got downright embarrassing. I kept my head down – no sense leading her on with my charm and good looks (Ha!). After all, I am not available. I often wonder what a man in his 40’s would even talk about with a girl in her 20’s. Most of the time when a person that young talks to me, I feel like I’m watching Telemundo – I understand every third word and just nod a lot.

I felt the weight of this young lady’s stare all through lunch. My mind was ablaze with ways to tell my wife about it – that was going to be fun. The old man still has it! I couldn’t get in trouble for this. After all, several witnesses could testify that I didn’t initiate or encourage the situation. I was just a pawn in her game of lust.

At some point, she appeared two feet away from me. I had no desire to hurt her feelings. After I spurned her advances, I hoped she wouldn’t be crushed. Now that I saw her up close, she was a very attractive young lady who could easily find love with an available man closer to her age.

“Excuse me,” she said. “I’m sorry I was staring at you.”

“That’s okay,” I answered gently. “People say I look like Opie Taylor, so I get that a lot.”

Her look of confusion betrayed that she had no idea who that was… So young.

“No, that’s not it,” she said. “You just look familiar to me.”

The oldest pick-up line in the book. Here we go.

“I don’t think I know you,” I said.

“Oh, I know that. But you look exactly like my dad if he were bald. Do you mind if we take a selfie so I can send it to him?”

Crap…

I smiled as best I could as she took the picture with my friends laughing wildly. My boastful story to my wife died with the flash of her phone, as did a piece of my self-esteem. I really gotta stop shaving my head.

 

***

Artwork:  The Flirtation by Eugen de Blaas


Filed under: It Made Me Laugh

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14. Music Monday - The Mercurotti

The longer I watched this 'duet' the more I liked it. Marc Martel has a great voice, and does a surprisingly good impression of Freddy Mercury (he is the lead singer of Queen Extravaganza, a Queen tribute band - endorsed by the original members of Queen). It's pretty great:



I do miss Freddy.'Love Queen....

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15. Review: Comezón. Castillo Anaya Lecturer. DDLM Call. News 'n Notes.



Review: Denise Chávez. The King and Queen of Comezón. Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, 2014.
ISBN 978-0-8061-4483-2

Michael Sedano

October to October, it’s been one of the most productive years in Chicana Literature. Last October, Alma Luz Villanueva's scintillating erotic opus Song of the Golden Scorpion, kicked off this golden year. Spring brings Ana Castillo's sensational erotic novel Give It To Me. Denise Chávez rounds out this spectacular year with a family-safe portrait of a small town where people live up its name, Comezón.

The King and Queen of Comezón marks a crowning achievement in the writer's career, a long-awaited next novel after 2001’s Loving Pedro Infante. The novel chronicles six months in the lives of this small New Mexico town. The author challenges herself to keep multiple stories careening against each other in complicated sets of connections between richly drawn characters.

Covering the months between the pueblo’s Cinco de Mayo festival and el Diez y Seis de Septiembre, Chávez captures the reader’s interest not only in the number and complexity of interpersonal connections but in her way of keeping interest high through her storyteller's voice, hyperbole, and intersecting views of the same events.

The novel’s structure is a metaphor for a yearning, an itch, a comezón. The author lays out landscapes, facts, and characters. Events in a chapter approach a key nexus only to have the chapter end, the expectation unsatisfied, satisfaction delayed as Chávez switches gears, starts something else then reintroduces an ongoing situation in a different light, stringing the reader along wanting more. The entire book is a delightful self-inducing comezón.

In fact, the delayed gratification of finding out what happened is so delighting, I stopped reading two thirds through, just for a day. The storytelling grows so delicious I want to savor the anticipation of seeing how the author resolves all these matters, some bizarre, others lethal. Although related with a comedic voice, there are dark notes, leading one to wonder will consequences become what the characters or readers deserve?

Complexity abounds in the tiny community, revolving around three key characters, Arnulfo Olivares and his family, a corrupted priest, and a bar owner. A rich cast of supporting characters populate the periphery of the central interactions.

Arnulfo treats his family like crap and his wife takes it. The transplanted Spaniard priest lusts after la coja Juliana. Juliana lusts after el padrecito, but her disabled body makes her housebound and unschooled. Isá lives a slave in the household with love hate relations with the two daughters, doña Emilia, and Arnulfo. Rey, a decent man, doesn’t know the hatred Don Clo harbors against decency.

Chávez describes Rey up as the one likeable man in the world. A redeemed alcoholic and retired migra officer, Rey keeps notebooks of the people he helped deport. One woman particularly moves him. As Comezón spins out of control, Rey stands as the sole source of stability. Rey’s comezón can get him killed, but first Don Clo will enjoy tormenting a suffering Rey.

It's a key storyline. Chávez draws it out, like the other threads, presenting some in direct narrative, other in passing detail woven into one of the other stories. For instance, the reader sees Doña Emilia fall ill and has a stroke as her chapter concludes. Later, we learn almost in passing that the stroke hospitalized her.

Chavez holds anxiety to a low pitch but frequently reminds readers that Arnulfo has cancer, that Doña Emilia appears to accept her husband's absent heart, that el Padre sinks deeper deeper deeper. And, with the devil, Don Clo, heading to Rey's bar, the anxiety from knowing danger lurks around the next page but doesn't come yet is the author’s gift of a comezón to the reader. Turn the page to scratch that itch of wanting to know what happens.

Ultimately, The King and Queen of Comezón is a novel not of longing but of redemption. Sadly, rather than allowing the plots to speak for themselves, Chávez goes out of her way to spell it out in the novel’s final paragraphs. I wonder if the author lost confidence in her own clarity after three hundred pages?

There is, for me, a serious lacking in the novel. The author displays a lack of confidence in her reader through heavy-handed translation. Irritatingly often, when the text says something in Spanish, the writer supplies an apposition translating into English. Chávez does it well, here and there. But mostly the code-switch translation distracts from the prose, sounds unnatural in many instances, and avoidance should be an element of style for writers of Chicana Chicano Literature. The weakness is not Chávez’ alone, this lack of confidence in the readership is endemic to U.S. literature.

Chávez illustrates how unnecessary translation has become--especially in the age of search engine machine translation and given her likely readership--in the novel’s final pages with a burst of untranslated language wondering how the hanged man in the church had been killed. Hopefully he’d been shot first and then hanged and burned. If not, hijole, se chingó. It was true that Luisito had been a chingadaquedito, but really and truly alguien lo chingó un chingo a la puta chingada madre, and there you had it.¡Chingao!

Persistently unnecessary translating aside, Denise Chávez’ masterwork The King and Queen of Comezón has ample opportunities for joy in the fabric of the novel. For instance, there’s a wonderful roll call of old-timer Spanish names signaling the generations and presence of raza on the land for countless generations.

The first time I spotted Chávez’ use of triplets for emphasis I noted it as clever emphasis in the instance. Then the triplet repetition began cropping up every few chapters and I smiled at them considering the technique stylistic grace notes the author whips out to add ornament to needful passages, to reassert the narrator’s presence over the story.

Chávez then rewards the attentive reader with the queen of all triplets. This time instead of tagging the repetition to the end of a phrase, she leads with the technique. “No good, no good, no good things could come of this” the narrator relates. Later, in case you were paying attention, Chávez pastes in a naturally-occurring cognate of the technique in quoting song lyrics to the expatriot Mexican national anthem, “Volver, volver, volver.”

Indeed, The King and Queen of Comezón is Chávez’ crowning achievement. Future term paper writers will find it a rich lode to mine for essays on literary voice, views on religion, women’s roles, male worthlessness, storytelling, local color, love, code-switching, and comezónes. Coincidentally, there's a beautiful symmetry to this most productive year, in that Ana Castillo is this year's Anaya lecturer. Denise Chávez delivered the 2011 Anaya lecture.

You can order The King and Queen of Comezón from your local independent bookseller. You can order the paperback from the university press direct.

Denise Chavez greets Librotraficante Jesus Treviño  ©msedano



Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture Honor Awarded to Ana Castillo

La Bloga friend Teresa Marquez sends news the Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya lecturer for 2014 is legendary Chicana writer Ana Castillo. Castillo is enjoying an Anaya year. She was the featured guest speaker at this year's CSULA Anaya Conference, where her talk included a reading from her sensational novel, Give It To Me. Below read the press release Teresa forwards.



Ana Castillo is this year's guest speaker at the 5th Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Southwest Literature Lecture Series.

UNM Department of English hosts Ana Castillo for fifth annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest

On Thursday, October 23, the UNM Department of English will host the distinguished writer Ana Castillo as the featured speaker for the fifth annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest. Castillo will speak at 7:00 p.m. in Room 101 of George Pearl Hall (the School of Architecture and Planning), with a reception to follow. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Ana Castillo is one of the leading figures in Chicana and contemporary literature. A celebrated poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scholar, Castillo is the author of the novels So Far From God and Sapogonia, both New York Times Notable Books of the Year, as well as The Guardians, Peel My Love like an Onion, and many other books of fiction, poetry, and essays. Her most recent novel is Give it to Me, and the 20th-anniversary, updated edition of her groundbreaking book The Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma will be published this October by the University of New Mexico Press.

Dividing her time between Chicago and Southern New Mexico, Ana Castillo is a celebrated writer deeply committed to higher education as well as contemporary literary culture. Castillo holds an M.A from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Bremen in Germany. She is also the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Colby College. Along with her own work as an author, she edits La Tolteca, an arts and literary zine dedicated to the advancement of a world without borders and censorship, and she serves on the advisory board of the American Writers Museum in Washington, D.C. Among other teaching positions, Castillo was the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Endowed Chair at DePaul University, the Martin Luther King, Jr Distinguished Visiting Scholar at M.I.T., the Poet-in-Residence at Westminster College in Utah, and, most recently, the Lund-Gil Endowed Chair at Dominican University in Illinois. She has received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for her first novel, The Mixquiahuala Letters, and her other awards include a Carl Sandburg Award, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in fiction and poetry, and the Sor Juana Achievement Award from the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago. In 2013, Castillo was awarded the Gloria Anzaldúa Prize by the American Studies Association.

The UNM English Department established the annual lecture series on the literature of the Southwest in 2010 through a gift from the renowned fiction writer Rudolfo Anaya and his late wife Patricia Anaya. "The English Department cherishes the fact that Emeritus Professor Rudy Anaya was on our faculty for so many years. A founder of our distinguished Creative Writing Program, he still inspires us with his joyous approach to life, sense of humor, and eloquent articulation of Hispanic culture and the beauties of the Southwest. He has long been an internationally known man of letters, but we take pride in the fact that he began his career in our department," says Professor Gail Houston. "We feel privileged to have received his generous donation, and there is no better venue for celebrating Southwest literature than the University of New Mexico English Department. We look forward to sharing this free event with everyone at UNM and in the community."

The annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest features foundational figures such as Acoma Pueblo poet Simon Ortiz (2010), Las Cruces writer and playwright Denise Chávez (2011), Taos writer John Nichols (2012), and Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday (2013). For further information, visit the Anaya Lecture Series website at http://english.unm.edu/anaya-lecture-series/, contact the Anaya Lecture Committee at anayalecture@unm.edu, or contact the UNM English


News 'n Notes
San Antonio • Oct 1-5 • Veteran, Writer, Playwright Barrios Joins Troupe



Visit the theatre's webpage for details on this performance piece giving Veterans the stage to tell audiences about military experience, from enlisting to basic training, overseas movement there and back again.

Veterans hope to help non-veterans understand living in uniform and what happens after they resume civilian life. The monologist read their own words, for a number of them, like Barrios, decades afterwards.

Telling: San Antonio begins its run this week through Sunday in San Antonio's Tobin Center for Performing Arts at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater.

Tickets and details at the studio's webpage here.


Oct 6 • Calavera Poem Submissions, La Voz


La Voz de Esperanza is a monthly news journal our of San Antonio, featuring stories, news, poetry and artwork submitted by the community. The editors issue the following:

Squeeze a song of love or mockery out of your heart, get it to dance in traditional 4-line stanzas of (about) 8 beats per line, or 3 lines of 5/7/5 syllables (17 syllables total) haiku formation, y viola!

Send it to lavoz@esperanzacenter.org by 10/6/2014

No pay, puro glory


Oct 27 • Call for Submissions • La Bloga Day of the Dead On-line Floricanto


from the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070: Poetry of Resistance

CALL FOR POEMS ON THE THEME OF “THE DAY OF THE DEAD”—

Dear Poets, You all are invited to submit poems with the theme of “El Día de los Muertos / The Day of the Dead” that will be posted on POETS RESPONDING TO SB 1070 for the following weeks.

The poems could be “Calaveras” (poems making fun of public figures), poetic remembrances of those who have passed, and memories of past events.

The Moderators will select the best poems for a special edition of La Bloga On-line Floricanto for Tuesday November 4, 2014.

The deadline to send poems to be considered for this special issue is Monday, October 27, 2014. We will continue publishing poems on other themes, as well.

See the Poets Responding page (click here) on Facebook for submission technology.

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16. Two for Meursault, contre-enquête

       I was excited to recently see the fascinating-sounding variation-on-Camus by Kamel Daoud, Meursault, contre-enquête, make the first cuts of both the Goncourt and the Renaudot -- the two leading French literary prizes. Warming up for those, the book has now picked up two prizes in quick succession: the Prix François Mauriac (not to be confused with ... the Prix François Mauriac (seriously, guys ? I mean ... seriously ?)) and the Prix des 5 continents (see also, for example, Algerian writer wins world French literature prize).
       If a US/UK publisher hasn't pre-empted this yet ... more fools you be -- this property is hot, and the price is only going up. The concept alone should be enough to sell it, but apparently it's actually good, too. And now: prize-winning, too.

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17. The strange things children’s writers do – Lari Don

Yesterday, I helped dress a dragon in a car park.

The dragonmobile, at Pirniehall Primary in Edinburgh

But it’s not the strangest thing I’ve done as a children’s writer.

I've recce'd a castle, going in undercover as a tourist, to discover the best way to steal their most famous artefact.

I've interviewed a vet about how to heal a fairy’s dislocated wing, and a boat builder about how to fit a centaur on a rowing boat.

I've lost half a dozen journalists in a maze. (I guided them out again eventually. Most of them.)

I've told Celtic legends on an iron age hillfort, fairytales in an inner city woodland, and Viking myths in a cave.

And all of these things have been an integral part of my job as a children’s writer. Because writing is not just sitting at a keyboard and tapping out chapters.

The research (chatting to vets about fairy injuries and sneaking about castles) is often as much fun as the writing. And the promotion (dragon dressing and outdoor storytelling) is almost as important as the sitting at my desk imagining.

I suspect that as a children’s writer, you have to be just as imaginative in your research methods and your promotion ideas as you do in your cliffhangers and your characterisations.

But I can’t take credit for the dragon in the carpark. I did create a shiny friendly blue dragon, as one of the main characters in my Fabled Beast series. However, I had moved onto creating other characters in other stories, when my publishers decided to give the Fabled Beasts Chronicles new covers, and announced that they were going to promote the covers with a dragonflight tour.


Then the very talented marketing executive at Floris Books designed a dragon costume for her own car. And she’ll be spending most of the next fortnight driving me round beautiful bits of Scotland and the north of England (yesterday Edinburgh, today Perth, then Aberdeenshire and Penrith, as we get more confident and stretch our wings!) in a car which we dress up as a dragon in the carpark of various primary schools, then invite the children out to ooh and aah at our shiny blue dragon and her shimmering flames, before I go inside to chat with the pupils about cliff-hangers and quests.

So, this week, I’ve already learnt how to put a dragon’s jaws on at speed. And I’ve discovered that if the engine hasn’t cooled down yet, those flames coming down from the bonnet are actually warm!
Very brave Forthview Primary pupils sitting on dragon's flames!

So, yes, I do strange things. But I have fun! And I hope that my enjoyment comes across in my books, and in my author events.

I don’t think the adventures I create would be nearly as interesting without the odd conversations I have while I’m researching them, or the weird things I do to promote them.

So – what do you think? Should I just be sensible and stay indoors writing? Or is a little bit of weird now and then an effective way to make books, reading and writing more exciting for children?
 

Lari Don is the award-winning author of 22 books for all ages, including a teen thriller, fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers. 

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18. Guest Post: Larissa Ione, Author of Chained by Night

Please give a warm welcome to special guest Larissa Ione!  I’ll have a review of Chained by Night soon, but in the meantime, check out what she has to say about hunky hero Hunter.

Hi everyone!

So…Julie asked an interesting question about the hero of Chained By Night, one I’m going to have fun answering. She asked:

What five things would Hunter never do on a date?

Hmmm…I think telling you what he would do on a date would be easier, but for starters, he would never get drunk. Yes, he enjoys his alcohol, but when he’s with a female, his instinct is to keep her safe, which means drinking in moderation and never losing his situational awareness. With vampire hunters around every corner, he needs to be alert.

He would also never look at another female while on a date. That’s just rude.

Hunter isn’t much for dating in the traditional sense, given that vampires aren’t exactly welcome in human establishments, but if he were to take a female out for dinner and a movie, he’d never let her pay. Unless she was evil. Or human.

The fourth thing he would never, ever do on a date is demand sex. No, this boy can read the opposite sex with the skill of a predator on the prowl, and he knows when she’s ready. But no means no…and he’s very, very patient…

Finally, Hunter would never talk about his ex-lovers. It’s just bad form. Plus, a lot of them are dead. Wouldn’t want to scare off the new lover! ?

THE FUTURE OF HIS TRIBE: Leader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction—or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation. To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader’s daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans.
THE LOVER OF HIS SOUL: But survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress’s identical twin sister?

The post Guest Post: Larissa Ione, Author of Chained by Night appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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19. Goodbye September

I'm really looking forward to Fall. It's not here yet, weather wise, but I'm ready. I can't wait for pumpkins, colorful leaves, crisp air, and what I hope will be a very wet winter in this dried out state of mine. 

Happy Fall!

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20. How I Broke Out of a Freelancing Slump by Breaking all the Rules

Call for you This post is by Deb Mitchell.

I’m definitely more of a “rules are there for a reason” than a “rules were meant to be broken” kind of girl. It just never occurs to me to buck the system, and frankly, that’s served me well all my life.

But when my freelance writing career stalled (despite the fact that I had 5+ years of experience with clips numbering in the triple digits), even playing by the rules top freelance writing experts teach wasn’t getting me anywhere.

“Send pitches to newsstand pubs and LOIs to trade pubs.” Check.

“Email editors – NEVER call them!” Check.

“DO NOT clog an editor’s inbox by attaching your clips.” Check.

“Whatever you do, take time to research each market and NEVER, EVER use a template email.” Check, check.

I was spending loads of time researching markets, ferreting out the appropriate editors’ contact info and meticulously wordsmith-ing every email from scratch. Despite my best rule-following efforts, none of the editors contacted me back. Not. One.

There simply aren’t words to describe how frustrated and discouraged I felt. Giving so much time and effort with nothing to show for it eventually took its toll. On a daily basis I was at best, fighting despair and at worst, sinking in its depths.

In the midst of all this, I started working with a writing mentor (the one-and-only Linda). She calmed me down and gave me a few pieces of advice which I, of course, followed to the letter. I got a few lukewarm responses from editors as a result, and I even sold an article to a new-to-me (but not great paying) market.

Sure, it was progress, which lifted my spirits to a degree. But let’s face it — I was still working long, hard hours for minimal payoff. NOT a sustainable pattern for any small business.

Then Linda gave me a tip that helped me think outside the box – and believe me, it was one I NEVER expected to hear from her or any freelance writing expert.

“Why not try calling some editors?” she said, “And write a great LOI email you can quickly tweak for each market. Ask if they assign to freelancers or if they prefer pitches.”

Um, excuse me, what did you say?? Call editors?? Write one LOI to reuse over and over?? Pitch to trade pubs?? Break rules?!?!

As if that weren’t enough, Linda challenged me to call 25 editors in one day.

The thought of doing things that are widely considered no-no’s freaked me out enough, but seriously, 25?! Believe it or not, the part that scared me the least was the actual cold calling. I have a background in sales and I’m good at talking to people and I like marketing myself. Maybe, just maybe, the reason my by-the-book efforts were flopping was because my approach felt inauthentic. Calling editors seemed much more “me” — I’d just always thought if I did it, they’d view me as unprofessional (and kind of hate my guts for bugging them).

But with Linda, a seasoned pro writer, saying it was OK, I didn’t hesitate.

Armed with a three sentence script Linda wrote for me and a short and sweet LOI template email, I started the challenge.

I didn’t even get to leave voicemails with five editors before my phone rang.

“Deb, I was just delighted to get your message!” Really and truly, an editor was calling me to tell me she was happy I’d called her — not “hacked off” or “appalled” or even just “annoyed.” It seems she’d heard my voicemail right after leaving an editorial meeting where she’d learned an article slated for the next issue had fallen through. I’d also thrown caution to the wind and sent her my LOI email with my resume and a clip attached. She’d seen something in my article that would make a perfect story to fill that empty spot. Could I get something into her within a couple of weeks?

I know, right?!?!

After all my nose-to-the-grindstone work and months of angst over doing things the “right” way, all it took was literally a couple of phone calls and I had a gig that paid more than triple what I’d been getting! Even better, the editor ended our conversation by saying this was “the start of a very beautiful working relationship.” Hello, future high-paying gigs!

I’m no expert when it comes to freelancing, but I do think there’s something to this whole “find what feels right for you” idea. Just because the freelance writing books and classes say “Do this” or “Don’t do that” doesn’t necessarily mean those rules are hard and fast. It took me having someone of Linda’s caliber giving me permission to break the rules for me to do something that in the end felt natural and comfortable for me. And it worked.

As long as your approach allows you to both be yourself and to “sell” yourself as a competent professional, it’s worth trying something out of the ordinary — especially if you’re feeling stuck. You can’t predict how editors will react, but if you’re being genuine and gracious to them, no reasonable editor would hate you just for doing something differently. If they do, consider yourself lucky to have been warned about their inner crazy before you got stuck working with them.

So what will you try that’s not in the books? Be brave and take a risk. Go ahead — run with a stick in your mouth! Jump on the good furniture! Call an editor! Take it from me — it’s good to be bad.

How about you? Have you ever broken a rule of freelance writing and benefited as a result? Or have you found a marketing tactic other freelancers would scoff at, but that works for you? Let us know in the Comments below!

Deb Mitchell is a freelance writer in Charlotte, NC specializing in writing about interior design and women’s interest topics. She also works with business clients to make their websites and client communications the best they can be and with students as a general writing and college application essay coach.

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21. The Shadow Lantern, by Teresa Flavin | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a hardcover copy of The Shadow Lantern, by Teresa Flavin. Giveaway begins September 30, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends October 26, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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22. 5 BookBuzzr AuthorPage Widgets to Inspire You in September 2014

 

1. Debrah Martin – Patchwork Man

Debrah's authorpage

 

2. Nicola McDonagh – Echoes from the Lost Ones

Nicola's authorpage

 

3. Teno-E Etsebeth – Rite of Passage

Teno-E's authorpage

 

4. Alex Jones – Walls

Alex's author page

 

5. Mark Johnson – The Last Resort

Mark's authorpage


 

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Naveen is the Customer Support Executive and Social Media Manager at BookBuzzr. When he is not working or playing gta, he is working on finishing his graduation. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Email.

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23. KIDS DESIGN - boden AW14

Their have been some fabulous new print arrivals at Mini Boden this Autumn. I love this colourful woodland scene (above & below) but there are so many colourful flower and bird prints this season I couldn't stop posting all the lovely images. Scroll down to see what is obviously going to be a bright Autumn Winter for Boden and go online to see full details here.

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24. The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee


I have had the release date for The Farmer and the Clown on my calendar for months. This was a book I was excited about and one that I wanted to make sure to get right away. Well, I received a review copy of the book last week and loved it even more than I thought I would!

The book (by the amazing Marla Frazee) tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a farmer and a clown.  And can I say that the clown is so adorable!  Happy and fun on every page.  I fell in love with this book on the first read and everyone I had it too squeals or "aw"s while reading.  This week, we read it twice in the classroom. I purchased the kindle edition so that we could read it on the screen. I am so glad I did this because the details in the illustrations, some that I missed during my first few reads, are critical and would have been so hard for kids to see without the projection.  This book is simple, but it leaves the reader with so much to think and talk about. And it leaves the reader with a feeling of joy.

I have said many times on this blog that I LOVE wordless books.  This is pretty new for me as I've learned to love them in the last 5-6 years.  This is by far, one of my favorites.  I love the characters and I am amazed at how well they are each developed in this wordless book. I like the story and the characters and the art.  I love Marla Frazee and have yet to read one of her books that I didn't fall in love with.  This one is definitely one of my Caldecott hopefuls.

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25. Meet Deadly D and Justice Jones

Thanks for talking to Boomerang Books, Deadly D/Dylan and Justice about your Deadly D and Justice Jones books (Magabala Books). Kids who like rugby league and sport are going to love these books. Questions for Dylan/Deadly D and Justice - What are your favourite football teams and players? Dylan: Growing up in Mount Isa and being a North Queensland […]

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