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1. A Fun Day

A gorgeous day to meet with friends
To take a little hike,
Just catching up with lots of laughs;
There’s nothing not to like.

A burger and a beer just wrap
It all up with a bow,
Though paradise can’t last, of course;
The traffic home’s real slow.

But still, despite the lengthy ride
Of inching cars and miles,
I wish there were more days like this one,
Filled with friends and smiles.

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2. The Art of Story – Festivals and anthologies in review

Editor, publisher, author, and all round busy guy, Paul Collins describes his latest anthology as ‘a sumptuous literary feast’ in which ‘no one will go away hungry, as the collection is a literary banquet with something for everyone.’ If that doesn’t whet your appetite for the collection of Australian stories, poetry and artwork that is, […]

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3. Crow

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4. Artist of the Day: Jacob Menden

Discover the art of Jacob Menden, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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5. Reasons to be cheerful.....

Halloween comes early.

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6. Build Your Own Monster

Looking to make a monster for your comic book, graphic novel, or story? Here are some  things to keep in mind from Jorge and Rafael with a special sneak peek at Book 3 Monsters.

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7. Fall and Winter Events

Fall and Winter Schedule!

There are a few events left before the calendar year comes to a close. Hope to see you soon!

October 17
12 PM
Northampton, MA
Montessori School of Northampton Book Fair

October 28
6:30 PM
Medford, MA
Medford Public Library

November 8
4:00 PM
Northampton, MA
R. Michelson Galleries Annual Illustration Show

November 17
7:00 PM
Irving, TX
Vally Ranch Library

November 21
3:00 PM
Leominster, MA
Leominster Public Library

December 13
New York, NY
First Book NYC Fundraiser at Symphony Space

And looking ahead to the beginning of 2016...

January 26
Comic Squad: Lunch! hits bookshelves!

January 30
Plainsville, MA
An Unlikely Story Bookstore

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8. NYCC’15: Sunday Photos!

Sideshow Collectibles Insight Editions Funko (again) Jelly Belly Artist Alley

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9. A Question Regarding Character Development and Romance

A hello from Canada! I'm currently writing a YA novel. I already have the whole plot line listed out, and I've already written eleven chapters. Here

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10. Hulk and Thor and Ragnarok could be Hulk v Thor II...and what about Age of Ultron?

It appears that Mark Ruffalo's version of the Hulk (he is THE best Banner since Bixby) is to appear in 2017's third Thor movie -'Thor: Ragnarok'

Which ought to be interesting. So far the two characters have worked well together.  And the movie Hulk ain't been to Asgard yet -though he has in Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes and, of course, Hulk V Thor the animated feature.

But talking about all thing Avengers-ish, this weekend I watched Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I read all the comments about how bad it was, how it should have been made -listen: get out of your mom's basement and do something constructive with your life -try writing or making a movie, even amateur...oh. No, of course, because the untalented like to tell everyone where THEY have gone wrong from behind a keyboard.

In fact, there was nothing wrong with the movie.  I was a bit surprised after what I had read and heard but I think the critics (they would love people to think of them as that rather that whiners, which is what they are) had their comments ready before seeing the movie.

Avengers 2 was, quite obviously, setting up the basis for future Marvel Universe movies and characters -the mention of Wakanda, Ulysses Klaw -there was so much and it was done in a subtle way.  Even the introduction of new Avengers -Wanda, Vision, Falcon, et al.  

Remember that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was used to introduce the spin off The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. -it's an old tried and tested method in TV and movies and even....comics.
There was that kick to the balls for that "other company" with the rights to X-Men (you know who) when Disney/Marvel totally excluded Mutants (the new dirty word) by calling Pietro and Wanda "augmented humans"!!

Also, you had the downfall of S.H.I.E.L.D. to refer to and New Avengers so as the flagship movie
Avengers: Age Of Ultron did its job by turning in a good action story with lots of characterisation and telling the fans there was more to come.  I did notice that, like the Marvel comics, the movie was heavily more sci fi focussed.

Oh...and you got feckin' Thanos at the end!!

So stop moaning an just sit back and enjoy fun and action -these are not  lectures on compressed dark matter physics (those give you migraines) they are entertainment

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11. Inktober 2015 - Day 12

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12. Professional Authors’ Forum Schedule



This day is intended for traditionally published authors or author/illustrators or children’s books.  Part presentation, part discussion, the goal is to explore sensitive career development issues in an intimate setting with peers.  All participants will receive a detailed documentation of the day, with a summary of concrete strategies that have been revealed and explored.  


8:00am – 8:45am   Registration

8:45am – 9:30am   Introduction and Goals
Lin Oliver, Author, Executive Director SCBWI and Emma Dryden, Founder drydenbks

9:30am – 10:15am  Publishing with Multiple Houses (including What to do When Your Editor Leaves)  Presenter/Moderator: Emma Dryden, Founder drydenbks


10:30am – 11:30am  Longevity: How to Sustain Your Career

Presenter/Moderators: Arthur Levine, Publisher, and Lin Oliver, Author, Executive Director SCBWI 


11: 30am – 12:30pm  Developing a Social Media Platform that’s Appropriate For You

Presenter/Moderator: Martha Brockenbrough, Author


12:30pm – 1:45pm     Lunch (on your own)


1:45pm – 2:45pm       Issues in Being a Mid-List Writer

Presenter/Moderator:  Jane Yolen, Author

3:00pm – 3:45pm       Branding Yourself: Challenges in Writing Multiple Genres and Categories

Presenter/Moderator: Jacqueline Mitchard, Author, Editor-in-Chief Merit Press and Linda Pratt, Literary Agent, Wernick and Pratt Literary


4:00pm – 4:45pm        Supplementing Your Income

Presenter/Moderator:  Bonnie Bader, Associate Publisher, Frederick Warne/Penguin Random House


4:45pm – 5:00pm    Summary and Conclusions

The Staff




Bonnie Bader is the Associate Publisher of Frederick Warne, where she oversees the Peter Rabbit and Spot publishing programs, as well as the editor-in-chief of Penguin Young Readers/Early Readers, where she heads up the leveled reader, 8×8, and early chapter book programs. She continues to edit several best-selling series including George Brown, Class Clown and Magic Bone by Nancy Krulik, Here’s Hank by Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler, and the soon-to-be published series The Fantastic Frame by Lin Oliver. Bonnie is a member of the SCBWI Board of Advisors.

Martha Brockenbrough is the author of The Game of Love and Death, a 2015 Kirkus Prize finalist, YALSA best books for teens nominee, and Booklist Top 10 Teen Romance of 2015 selection. She is also the author of Devine Intervention and The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy. Coming in 2016 is Love, Santa, a picture book illustrated by SCBWI member Lee White. Arthur A. Levine at Scholastic is her editor. Martha also founded National Grammar Day and SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar. She’s a member of SCBWI’s Team Blog. Visit: www.martha-brockenbrough.squarespace.com and follow her @mbrockenbrough.

Emma Dryden is the founder of drydenbks, a premier children’s editorial and publishing consultancy firm. Emma has edited over a thousand books for children and young readers and many of her titles hit bestseller lists in USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Publishers Weekly. Books published under Emma's guidance have received numerous awards and medals, including but not limited to the Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor, and Caldecott Honor. Emma speaks regularly on craft, the digital landscape, and reinvention, and her blog Our Stories, Ourselves explores the intertwined themes of life and writing. On Twitter: @drydenbks

Arthur A. Levine Books launched in 1997, a literary imprint of Scholastic Inc. This imprint introduced North American audiences to the work of great writers such as Markus Zusak, Francisco Stork, Lisa Yee, Dan Santat, Trent Reedy, and of course, J. K. Rowling, and continues that tradition with such  fabulous newcomers as Mike Jung, Martha Brockenbrough, Greg Pincus, Erin Bow, and Eric Gansworth. About thirty percent of the books the imprint publishes are fully-illustrated, working with a group of artists that include the incomparable Shaun Tan, well-known masters such as Richard Egielski, David Small, Komako Sakai, and Axel Scheffler, and talented illustrators at the start of their careers such as Israel Sanchez, Shino Arihara, and Bethany Murguia.  Arthur is also an author whose recent books include Monday is One Day, illustrated by Julian Hector and  A Very Beary Tooth Fairy, illustrated by Sarah Brannen.Find out more about Arthur at www.arthuralevinebooks.com.

Jacquelyn Mitchard is the number one New York Times best-selling author of ten novels for adults, seven novels for teenagers, and five children’s books, as well as editor-in-chief of Merit Press, a realistic young adult imprint. Nominated for or the winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, the Bram Stoker Award, and others, she is a professor of Writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives on Cape Cod with her family.

Lin Oliver is a children’s book author and writer-producer of television series and movies for children.  With Henry Winkler, she writes the New York Times best-selling book series, Hank Zipzer: World’s Best Underachiever, which is also a hit television series on the BBC.  She is also the author of the Who Shrunk Daniel Funk quartet, Sound Bender and The Shadow Mask, adventure/science fiction middle grade novels she coauthored with Theo Baker. Another series, Ghost Buddy, is being developed as a TV pilot by Amazon Studios.  Her latest works are the Here’s Hank series (with Henry Winkler) and the highly praised Little Poems for Tiny Ears, illustrated by Tomie dePaola.  She is the co-founder and Executive Director of SCBWI. Learn more at www.linoliver.com.

Jane Yolen, often called the "Hans Christian Andersen of America," is the author of over three hundred books, including Owl Moon; The Devil's Arithmetic; and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, plus seven books of adult poetry. She lectures around the world, and has won an assortment of awards: two Nebulas, a Caldecott Medal, three Mythopoeic Awards, among others. She was the first woman to give the St. Andrews University’s Andrew Lang lecture since the series began in 1927. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates. Her website: www.janeyolen.com



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13. Maisie Dog Create a Caption

Create a captionCreate a caption for this adorable dog, Maisie!

Hi, there! This puppy seems like she is going on her own outdoor adventure! What would you say she is thinking in that cute, furry head?

Maisie Dog

Here’s my caption: “Watch out, world! I’m off my leash and ready to take over this dog park!”

Write YOUR caption in the Comments below!

Megan, STACKS Intern

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14. Cartoon Network Announces ‘Steven Universe’ Toys Just in Time for the Holidays

Cartoon Network reaffirms its commitment to "Steven Universe" by announcing new toy licensees.

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15. Ed Park on the Library of Korean Literature

       In this week's issue of The New Yorker Ed Park writes about 'Reading Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature', in Sorry not Sorry, a good overview of the series, and providing good context for it.
       Many of the titles he mentions, both in the series and aside from it, are under review at the complete review (and I'll be getting to a lot more of the Dalkey titles).

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16. In Which the Best American Series is Kind to Me

Best American Travel Writing 2015 edited by Andrew McCarthy and Jason Wilson

I keep meaning to mention that Best American Travel Writing 2015 is out and, as promised, it includes my short NYT Mag essay, “A Doubter in the Holy Land.” I’ve been reading my way through the collection and finding so many great things I missed when they were published last year, including Rachael Maddux’s “Hail Daton.”

Today my friend Sarah Smarsh told me that my Harper’s essay, “America’s Ancestry Craze,” is listed as a notable essay at the back of the new Best American Essays. (Her great essay on the shame of poor teeth in a rich world is, too.) This is gratifying, because the Harper’s essay led to the book I’m writing, which in turn has led to my inability to write much of anything else until it’s done. Not complaining! It’s just nice to know people are still reading my older stuff.

After I hand in a rough-rough draft of my current book chapter, I’m planning to start on the one that’s most related to the Lives essay. I’ve been reading widely for months in preparation, and I’ll also go back and reread everything linked from my 2014 Begats post on whether faith “has a genetic basis.”

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It's Tuesday! Write, Share, Give.

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18. NYCC ’15: Attack on Titan gets massive new anthology by diverse creators

by Austin Lanari -- When "The Biggest Attack on Titan Manga Announcement Ever" panel was announced, including the likes of long-time and super-well-connected editor Jeanine Schaefer, the assumption was that some type of western comics homage to the best-selling Japanese manga was in the works. My personal guess was a miniseries or two from a couple of creators. The reality is much bigger than that.

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19. #752 – 53 – I Can Dance and I Can Play by Betsy Snyder

I Can Dance & I Can Play Written and Illustrated by Betsy Snyder Chronicle Books       9/01/2015 978-1-4521-2929-7 and 978-1-4521-2905-1 14 pages     7” X 7”     Age infant—2 “Readers make dancers disco, tap, or pirouette and athletes splash, sprint, or score just by wiggling their fingers. But wait! There’s even more …

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20. Giving. #watercolor #wabisabi #sketch (at 17th Avenue Studios)

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21. Deutscher Buchpreis

       The imitation-Man Booker German Book Prize has established itself as the most prestigious German ... uh, book prize (though its €25,000 prize isn't even the richest German book prize whose winner was named in the last week -- that would be the Wilhelm Raabe-Literaturpreis, which announced last week that Clemens J. Setz will get their €30,000-payday (albeit only 1 November, at the official ceremony)) and they've now announced that Die Erfindung der Roten Armee Fraktion durch einen manisch-depressiven Teenager im Sommer 1969, by Frank Witzel, takes this year's prize.
       I just got my (print) copy a few days ago, and I have to say it looks damn good (and massive -- 800+pp) -- lots of playful variety (including chapters in dialogue, a Marat/Sade-variation, a chapter in the form of a questionnaire -- and a fourteen-page index), which all looks like it's right up my alley. It was already high on the get-to list, but it's moved even higher now.
       See also the Matthes & Seitz publicity page.

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22. Oct 12

 Shannon Associates

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23. writers can learn a lot from a dummy

Collage by Vicky Lorencen

Collage by Vicky Lorencen

Back in the late 1900s, there was a clever public service announcement encouraging seatbelt use. It featured crash test dummies and the tagline “You can learn a lot from a dummy.”

Fast forward to, well, right this very minute. When I hear the word dummy, I think of a mini mock-up of a picture book, not a badass mannequin.

Some of my friends write picture books exclusively. (If you must know, I admire/loathe them all. Blast their bundles of talent! Promise not to repeat that, okay?) While, I, on the other cramped hand, write picture books illusively. Meaning, I get a won’t-go-away idea. I do my best to puzzle the idea into a manuscript and then tinker with it until it begs for mercy. Then rinse and repeat. It is never easy or pretty. But, Seuss help me,  it brings me a perverse, inexplicable delight when I finally pin that butterfly of an idea to the board. Making a dummy helps me get to that point.

Whether you and picture books are going steady or you only hang out when the mood strikes,  dummy-making may be wise for you too.

Smart dummy pointers . . .

  • Do not waste a nanosecond worrying about your inability to draw. Dummies are designed to be tools, not  objets d’art.
  • Illustrators need a dummy. Writers need a dummy. All God’s children need a dummy (more or less).
  • If your picture book word count needs a serious count down, making a dummy can really help. You can easily see which words are keepers and which are just leftovers. Aim for 500 or less–a whole heap less.
  • Dummies will also tell you if your cute or clever idea is robust and active enough to sustain a 32-page page-turner.
  • For a tip-top primer on how to make a dummy, visit this blog post from picture book author extraordinaire Tara Lazar.
  • At a recent SCBWI event, I picked up this cool trick from masterful picture book author Kelly DiPucchio. Once Kelly has a decent draft, she prints it and cuts out each line, then uses an existing 32-page picture book (any one will do) to check her pacing. She paperclips or lightly tapes her lines into the book to see how well her story fits the format. If not, she can tailor and tighten or expand.

You simply must be convinced of a dummy’s brilliance by now.

And so, my little cummerbund of cuteness, my bon vivant of brilliance, do you dare devise a dummy? Indeed, I hope you do.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. ~ Steve Jobs

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24. "the poetry under the prose": on reading Ivan Doig's final novel

I took a single book with me to Luray, VA—Ivan Doig's gloriously affective Last Bus to Wisdom. It is Doig's sixteenth book, his final work of art, finished before his passing at the age of 75 this past April. It's about 1951 and a bus-trip taking boy, about ranchers and ranch hands, Kate Smith, but not that Kate Smith, a collection of autographs and experiences rendered permanently indelible.

Though Doig had been ill while he wrote this (and other) books, he never lost his patience. He tells this tale about a red-headed Tall Tale Teller as if he had all the time in the world. He puts his hero, Donal, on a bus, has him trail away from his beloved Gram, and allows him to anticipate the world with little ironical distance:

What a haze of thoughts came over me like that as memory went back and forth, dipping and accelerating like some speedometer keeping up with a hilly road. Passing by familiar sights with everything known ahead, maybe too much of a youngster to put the right words to the sensation but old enough to feel it in every part, I can only say I was meeting myself coming and going, my shifting life until then intersecting with the onrushing days ahead.
Not long ago, on a writing panel, a fellow panelist turned toward me and (with greatest emotion) spoke of those novelists (I felt the glare) who foolishly care so much about sentences. Despite the intensity of her argument, I still can't agree that plot is all a story needs. After I finished reading Doig, whose every sentence is a pleasure, I needed to spend some more time with him, this man who made his language sing.

And so I visited his web site, and I watched the video, and I read the reflections on him, and then I came to this: his thoughts about the poetry inside prose. I was grateful for the sentiments I found there:
To me, language—the substance on the page, that poetry under the prose—is the ultimate 'region,' the true home, for a writer.... If I have any creed that I wish you as readers, necessary accomplices in this flirtatious ceremony of writing and reading, will take with you from my pages, it'd be this belief of mine that writers of caliber can ground their work in specific land and lingo and yet be writing of that larger country: life.

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25. NerdCon and a Blogging Birthday

Today is my golden blog birthday! Twelve years of blogging is ancient in internet time but I can honestly say I am surprised because it doesn’t feel like I have been doing this crazy thing for that long. When I began I just thought I’d try out a new thing called blogging and see what happened, I had no long-term plan. But it was fun so I kept at it. The years passed and sometimes I would wonder just how long I could possibly keep this up? I told myself, and I still do, that the day is ceases to be fun is the day I hang up my blog hat. Since I am still here you know I am still having fun. Quite a lot of that fun is because of all of you, leaving comments, telling stories, and sharing the marvelous obsession of books and reading we all have.

So thank you. You could all be in a gazillion other places, but for this little bit of time you have chosen to be here. I am honored and grateful and convinced that I must be one of the luckiest people in the world.

Maybe it is only appropriate that I tell you about my NerdCon Stories weekend. This was not a comic convention, this was a storytelling convention. It was organized by Hank and John Green. You may recognize the name John Green, yup, he’s the very same who wrote The Fault in Our Stars. Nearly 3,000 people turned out for this first ever event. There were nerds of all stripes and ages and from all over. I met a mother and daughter who had driven up from Georgia. There were lots of awesome nerd t-shirts, many of them book related, hair colors from every spectrum of the rainbow, a TARDIS dress, lots of fun shoes and boots that I coveted and I don’t even especially like shoes. There were a few people who arrived in costume but not many.

The days began and ended with main stage events that included various presentations on why stories matter. Some were funny and some were serious. There were storytelling games, rapid fires questions to a panel of writers, a mock debate on sock sock shoe shoe v. sock shoe sock shoe, some puppet theater, and musical entertainment and a little sing along.

There were breakout session panels throughout the day both days on a variety topics from adaptation to alternate media, activism and narrative, oral storytelling, storytelling through song, and writing about sex. There were so many people wanting to see this last panel that there were disappointed people who didn’t make it into the room including myself.

A little blurry Telling the Truth panel

A little blurry Telling the Truth panel

The panels I did make it to were mostly pretty interesting. One was called “Telling the Truth.” It was moderated by Hank Green and the panelists were Paolo Bacigalupi, Leslie Datsis, Jaqueline Woodson, Ana Adlerstein and Nalo Hopkinson. All of the panelists talked about how, fiction or nonfiction, they try to tell the truth as they see it. Bacigalupi put it best when he said fiction is facts that become a beautiful lie.

Another panel I attended was called “Honing Your Craft: Embettering Your Word-Doing.” Moderated by Holly Black, the panelists were Paolo Bacigalupi, Stephanie Perkins, Lev Grossman, and Nalo Hopkinson. Grossman works full time as an editor at Time Magazine and I was surprised to learn that he did most of his fiction writing on the New York subway to and from work. They all commented on how each book requires a different writing process and it never actually gets easier. One of the most interesting things about this session was how these obviously successful writers all mentioned at one point or another how afraid they are to show their work to other people and how their fear of looking stupid drove them to revise and revise and make their work the best they could. They all had strategies for overcoming their fears of writing badly. And while they all talked about being afraid, it also struck me that they were all quite brave as well. Both Grossman and Bacigalupi remarked that they had each just called it quits on books they had been writing for months that were not working and how they put all that work aside and started over.

One of my favorite sessions was “The Benefits of Diverse Stories.” The moderator was Liz Hara and the panelists were Desiree Burch, Jacqueline Woodson, Dylan Marron and Jacqueline Carey. They all stressed the importance of not having a single narrative to represent an entire group of people as if a gay man or a black woman could only have one kind of story. All of them talked about looking past the marginalized to the general and finding the humanity and the things that connect us all. Dylan Marron suggested that if you are telling a universal story you should use universal bodies to tell that story instead of defaulting to straight white man. It was all very inspiring!

This is starting to get really long so I will save a few more bits for tomorrow. Something to look forward to I hope!

Filed under: Blogging, Books Tagged: NerdCon Stories

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