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1. Get YOUR bunny reading - a mindwrap

How can I help my child to become an avid lifelong reader?

Every parent wants their child to be a successful reader. They desire their child not only be able to read the printed word but to understand its meaning and to crave that next book to devour.  I  teach parents how they can be the catalyst to make that happen.  Parents/Caregivers are the child's first and extremely important  teacher.  Here are some ideas to help you get the "Teacher of  (not only the year ) but of the Life" award.

Start reading to kids when they are born.  Some people read books to their kids while still in the womb.  The sound and flow of the language, a familiar loving voice and the togetherness of wrapping up around a book is a feeling your child will carry forever in their hearts.  Just as little as ten minutes of reading together a day adds up to hours, days, and yes, even years of reading over time.  As your child grows and matures you can lengthen that time causing your child's listening abilities to improve and his vocabulary and understanding to strengthen. Choose the best time for your family to read.  Some choose bedtime, others after a meal, or even in the bathtub as their favourite time.  Read in doctor's offices, on the beach, in the car...you name it...reading is always right anyplace and anytime that suits your child and you.

Sometimes adults get annoyed when their child picks the same book to read over and over again.  Repetition is a wonderful thing.  It internalizes language and helps your child become familiar with the story.  Rhyming books are a big hit and kids love the flow of the language there.  Cuddle them in close and be sure to point out signs, words, details in the illustration, anything really that grabs your child's attention.  Be sure to ask a lot of questions as to what's going on in the story: why do you think they did that?, would you do the same thing?, what do you think about what she did? etc. When the questions are answered then you have the perfect opportunity to discuss different points of view, weave in your family values and discuss feelings, appropriate behaviours and emotions the story evokes.  

It's important to listen  to your kids and find out exactly what they think. Talk, sing, spout nursery rhymes, play word games and spot words out in the world to read such as: McDonald's , Walmart, Starbucks, Stop, School etc.  Reading is  composed of words and words are found everywhere, in magazines, newspapers, catalogues, on cereal boxes...everywhere indeed. Discuss what you see and let kid's have their say too.

Be a model reader for your kids and grandkids.  When kids see you picking up and book and enjoying it they too will see that reading is useful and a pleasurable activity.  When you are following a recipe, reading a map, or reading the daily newspaper you can be that your kids are watching.  Also take frequent trips to the local library ... a home for books...  as it is a very beneficial experience for kids of all ages including you.  

Put down your iPad, smart phone, tablets, and turn off the t.v. then concentrate on a great book... together... uninterrupted.  Be there...focused together " in the moment".  

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I put hours of work finding the best kid's books to review for you each day.  If you enjoy visiting Storywraps and would like to donate something for my time and effort I would greatly appreciate it.

Go to the top of my blog on the right hand corner (above my photo) and please donate what you feel lead to give.  The amount you donate and the frequency you donate is totally up to you.  I thank you in advance for your support.  I love what I do and appreciate any amount that you may give so I can make our community even better.  Thanks a million! 

Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

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2. How to Paint a High-Contrast Study

When painting from the figure, it's easy to get lost in all the subtle middle tones, and end up with a painting that has no force or impact. Shadows are usually darker than you think, and lights are lighter and more unified.

A helpful exercise to push your awareness in this direction is the High Contrast Study. Here's how to do it.

Material Prep before the Painting Session
1. Find some 9x12 inch medium brown chipboard. You can also use mat board scraps (ask your framer), heavy brown paper, or even corrugated cardboard. The tone or color doesn't matter that much, as long as it's not black or white. Don't use precious or expensive materials.

2. Seal the surface completely with a layer of acrylic matte medium, brushed on freely.

Material Prep at the Painting Session
1. Use two #4 or #6 bristle filbert brushes, one for white and one for black.

2. Use titanium white and black oil paint, and keep them separate. You can "dirty up" the white just a little bit so that you have a little room for highlights, and you can mix the black with a little umber if you want, but don't put any white in your black.

Model Prep 
1. Use a single light source on the model, and try to reduce secondary light sources such as reflected or fill light. This exercise doesn't work if there are multiple light sources. And make sure there's some light on your painting so you can see what you're doing.

2. Set up an simple background, either mostly light or mostly dark.

2. Position yourself in relation to the model so that some of the model's form is in light and some is in shadow.

3. Keep the sessions under an hour. The examples in this post were done in 15-20 minutes each.

1. Use the "black" brush to draw the lay-in, then mass in the shadows. After those are in, begin massing the lights.
2. Use black for all the areas in shadow, and white for all the areas in light.
3. If two areas of shadow come together, shape-weld them together with the black.
4. If two areas of light come together, group them together with white.
5. Try to avoid outlines.
6. Don't do too much blending at the transition between light and shadow.
7. You can leave some areas of the background tone of the board showing, but not too much.

Next Steps
1. After doing this exercise in its purest form, you can allow yourself a little variation within the shadows and a little within the lights, but keep those variations very close in value, and don't be seduced by middle tones.
2. Replace the black with a more mid-range color, so that you do the same exercise but within a narrower value range. I'll show examples of this in the future.

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3. Bedtime Blastoff!

Bedtime Blastoff! Luke Reynolds. Illustrated by Mike Yamada. 2016. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A bed. A boy. His daddy. "Bedtime?" "Not yet!" A train…a conductor…His full-steam-ahead!

Premise/plot: A little boy isn't quite ready for bed yet. He and his dad have a LOT of playing to do…together.
My thoughts: I am so glad I didn't judge this book by its cover. I wasn't expecting to like it very much. But I gave it a chance and decided to go ahead and read it. The first few pages hooked me. It was GOOD. What did I like about it? The simplicity of the text. So much is communicated in just a few words. I liked the creative, imaginative play. I enjoyed the relationship between father and son. It was just sweet without being super-sticky sweet. And the illustrations may not have wowed me at first. I did appreciate the clues they provide.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Top 7 Famous Literary Bars You Should Visit

One of the most enduring clichés about us writers is that our two natural habitats are a cabin in the woods, where we work in silence, surrounded by thousands of books, and a local bar or coffee shop. Since the latter have become places where hipsters, nerds, and urbanites gather, there are very few places where real writers can go and feel that old-time spirit that was once felt in bars visited by some of the greatest authors of all time.

Why bars? Well, aside from providing the background for some of the most iconic anecdotes in literature, those establishments were places where writers, which were often tortured souls, gathered and socialized with each other, sought inspiration, or simply drank to ease their burden, thus revealing the less romanticized side of every writer’s life.

Luckily, some of those bars are still around today, and what better way for a writer to get inspired and moved than to visit them and experience the same atmosphere as their literary role models did? The following infographic from assignment writing service contains 7 famous literary bars that should be a pilgrimage for every writer.

White Horse Tavern (New York City, USA)
Established in 1880, New York City’s White Horse Tavern is located in Manhattan, at the corner of 11th and Hudson, with the first notable patron being an English character actor, director, and screenwriter Charles Laughton. Before it was known as a center where writers gathered, it was a bar visited mostly by longshoremen. It gained its present fame in the early fifties, not just because of the talented authors and artists, but also because of the heavy drinking.

One patron which is notable on both accounts is Dylan Thomas, who beat his own drinking record right there, and had his last drink. Notable patrons also include James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac (who was thrown out on more than one occasion), Bob Dylan, Normal Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Morrison and Michael Harrington.

Cerveceria Alemana (Madrid, Spain)
This bar, located at Plaza de Santa Ana 6, opened its doors to writers and patrons in 1904, with the most famous one being Ernest Hemingway, who liked to visit the joint during the day. For those who wish to sit at the same table as he did, it can be found in the near right-hand corner. Hemingway spoke very highly of La Alemana, noting in his recognizable style that it was “a good place to drink beer and coffee”. Other patrons include Victor de la Serna, Ramon del Valle-Inclan, and Hollywood diva Ava Gardner, who frequented the bar between 1952 and 1967.

Old Town Bar & Restaurant (New York City, USA)
If a writer should ever find himself on 45 E 18th Street in New York, he should take the time and visit the Old Town Bar & Restaurant. This is one of those rare places where the interior has a character of its own, with its heavy marble and wood, dating back to 1892. It is the place where Frank McCourt famously quipped “Love! King of New York Bars! A place where you can still talk!”. Also visited by the likes of Nick Hornby, Seamus Heaney, and Billy Collins.

The Eagle and Child (Oxford, England)
This pub, located at 49 St. Giles Street, was founded in the 17th century, and was the birthplace of the Inklings, a literary group which gathered some of the greatest minds literature and the University of Oxford has ever seen, such J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Hugo Dyson, Norman Colin Dexter, and Charles Williams.

El Floridita (Havana, Cuba)
One can’t help but mention Ernest Hemingway in the same breath as Havana and El Floridita, which was one of his favorite bars, as is evident by numerous photographs of him hanging on the walls of the establishment. Stepping foot inside it is like going back in time to the 40s and 50s, with none of the spirit and atmosphere lost. Besides Hemingway, El Floridita patrons were Ezra Pound, and Graham Greene.

Les Deux Magots (Paris, France)
Most Parisians would say that the year 1812 is important for two things: Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, and Les Deux Magots, which was founded the same year. Back in the day, the café used to be a spot where the French intellectual and literary crème de la crème socialized, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, as well as James Joyce, Bertolt Brecht, and, of course, Ernest Hemingway.

Literary Café (Saint Petersburg, Russia)
Literary Café, founded in 1816, has more than earned the right to its name, with the likes of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Nikolay Chernyshevsky, and of course, Alexander Pushkin, spending their days, and night, within the confines of its walls. It was also the last café Pushkin visited before his tragic death.

Walking in the footsteps of famous authors and sitting at the same table as they did when they were at their creative peaks can be life-altering experience for every writer, and a chance to meet other like-minded writers, and perhaps run into an author they look up to. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.

Infographic: Top 7 Famous Literary Bars You Should Visit

Source – AssignmentMasters.co.uk


Linda is a professional editor, blogger and freelance writer. She is interested in techniques, which improve overall productivity and writing hacks. Follow Linda on Twitter to get inspired!

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5. Regretoric: the rise of the “nonapology” apology and the “apology tour”

OxfordDictionaries.com is adding the nouns apology tour and nonapology. These additions represent two related steps in the evolution of the noun apology, which first entered English in the sixteenth century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Its earliest example is a book title: the 1533 Apologie of Syr Thomas More.

The post Regretoric: the rise of the “nonapology” apology and the “apology tour” appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. One Book 4 Colorado - Read to Your Bunny

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7. Free, print-ready poster of Tim Federle quote about books

"One thing that books teach us is that if your life sucks right now, you just haven't gotten to the good part." - Tim Federle, author of the Better Nate Than Ever. His new YA, The Great American Whatever, comes out from Simon & Schuster in March. More info about Tim at TimFederle.com.

The above image ia also available as a free, print-ready poster for schools, libraries, bookstores and anywhere else where the message would be appreciated.

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8. found! day 6

Yes, I finally found my way to Laura Shovan's new website and to her February Writing Workout...and I'm excited that the prompts for daily writing are all about found objects.  Better yet, we don't even have to find our own objects...photos are provided!

So I'm jumping in to follow along as well as I'm able, starting with the Day 6 found object(s) below.

A Doll Trap

secured behind glass
                     or less
doubly exposed
        they gaze out
 lean  reaching     toward

one does more than yearn
       raises her
                     chubby arm
to crack that glass again
               dolly hai-ya

she will be
       will walk  among
      walls and rock
        follow    plastic paths
                   to new clothes
  new scenes

~HM 2016
all rights reserved


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9. Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens Today!

Our February workshop opens today at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have author Brian Katcher and agent Christa Heschke!

So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!

February Guest Mentor – BRIAN KATCHER

Brian, a Stonewall Book Award-winning author, is the author of THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAKALMOST PERFECTEVERYONE DIES IN THE END, and PLAYING WITH MATCHES. Brian’s worked as a fry cook, a market researcher, a welding machine operator, a telemarketer (only lasted one day), and a furniture mover. He lived on an Israeli military base one summer, and once smuggled food into Cuba. When he’s not writing, he works as a school librarian. He lives in central Missouri with his wife and daughter.


The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…

Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online. And add it to your shelf on Goodreads!

February Guest Agent – CHRISTA HESCHKE

Christa started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring for all age groups in children’s. For YA, she is especially interested in contemporary fiction, thriller/mystery, and horror. She is always on the lookout for a compelling voice combined with a strong, specific hook that will set a YA novel apart in its genre and the flooded market. She is open to all types of middle grade and especially enjoys adventure, mystery, and magical realism, whether in a voice that is more light and humorous or one with more of a timeless, literary feel. For both YA and MG, she is particularly interested in unique settings and cultural influences, interesting storytelling structure, complicated romances, diverse characters, sister or friendship-centric stories, and stories that feature artists of any kind.

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10. From MBI - Sketches: Fun Pandas & A Bear Cat

An update and sketches from my children's book illustration blog ...


Panda-Sketches by Mariana Black

I've been on a much-needed break and am now back at college and concentrating on getting some work done! Back to sketching, drawing, all forms of art and creativity, and freeing the imagination to play. I'm back researching for my work-related project, illustrating children's books, and this little panda is calling out for my attention ... he's a sweetheart and I think I might end up sticking with him though we still have a lot to learn about each other. It's going to be fun, I think.

I'm also sketching animals in general, so here's a Binturong, or 'bear cat' that I drew in between classes. Might explore this further too, a bit later on ...


We're doing rather a lot back at college, so I'll need to do quite a bit of catching up here on the blog. I'm trying to get into a good routine, but as I'm not exactly a star medalist at organisation, this might take some time. Bit by bit ... Cheers.

via www.marianablackillustration.com


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11. Seven reasons why your medications are not working properly

What happens when medication doesn’t bring your condition under control? Usually, it’s not just one single issue but various factors that contribute to the problem. Your doctor will work to figure out why–and from there, create a new plan of attack. Finding the right combination of medications may require some trial and error.

The post Seven reasons why your medications are not working properly appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Sorry but the 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Closed!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry but the Free First Five Pages Workshop is now closed. Once again, we filled up in under a minute! I will email the participants that made it into the workshop today. If you don't hear from me, I'm sorry but you didn't get in this month. Please try again next month!


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Coming 4.05.16 from HarperTeen

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14. Counting Down Blessings

The first week of the new semester is done, and all three classes look delightful. I can truly tell by the first day, the second at the latest, how good a class is going to be. Good classes have students who are willing to talk, but none who feel the need to hear themselves talk all the time. Extra bonus: students who nod and smile as I talk. Biggest bonus of all: a sprinkling of beloved students I've taught before.

The content of my children's literature class is now dear and familiar to me from teaching it several times before. Yesterday we argued amicably over Maria Edgeworth's early 19th-century story, "The Purple Jar." Some students were furious at little Rosamond's sanctimonious parents who allow her to purchase a beautiful purple jar (which only appears to look purple because of nasty purple chemicals inside) rather than much-needed shoes; other students were annoyed at clueless Rosamond herself.

In my ethics of immigration class, we're trying to get a first look at empirical findings on immigration. Some that have surprised us: levels of global immigration have remained constant over the past fifty years (with immigrants making up around 2-3 percent of the world's population); immigrants tend not to be the poorest of the world's people (the desperately poor don't have the resources to migrate); governmental efforts to reduce the flow of immigration tend not only to drive immigration into irregular and unregulated channels.

My eight-person "Ethics of Story" class practically teaches itself, as the students come to class so well prepared to talk, talk, talk. We launched the course with Jonathan Gottschall's engaging little book The Storytelling Animal, focusing most of our attention on his discussion of why we might have evolved as storytelling creatures. Students with more background in evolutionary biology found his treatment of the subject on the "lite" side, but all found the topic fascinating: do we seek out stories as the evolutionary strategy of obtaining cost-free preparation for surviving future traumas in our own lives?

So the first week was wonderful. And yet I'm still so homesick, in a way that I can't seem to shake, despite dinners with friends, a "Janeites" book club meeting (Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - fabulous, read it!), a philosophy department discussion of Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele (reads like a detective story, with lots of useful advice for educators), and many other treats. I just miss home. I just do.

I debated whether I should cross down the days till I head back to Boulder for good in May. In favor of the countdown; the pleasure I always get in crossing anything off a to-do list. Against the countdown: the dismal thought that I'm counting my life away.

I decided to make the countdown list. But I made it with a twist. I wrote down all the days until I go home on May 20; I started the list on the day before I left for Europe (134 days left); I'm now down to day 105. Instead of crossing the days off, however, for each day I record a blessing, or two or three: something lovely, something joyous, large or small. Of course that was staggeringly easy to do in London and Paris, but it's turning out to be staggeringly easy to do in Greencastle, Indiana, too.

Reading A Nearer Moon (magical!) by my friend Melanie Crowder.
A chilly, sunny February walk with two philosophy department colleagues.
A take-your-breath away lunchtime talk by an art historian colleague.
Reviewing galleys for my new middle-grade novel with a  young, witty editor who shares my passion for grammatical minutia.

I'm not counting my life away; I'm amassing a list of blessings, with, after today, 104 more days of blessings to come.

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15. Lisa Maxwell, author of UNHOOKED, on working on a book for years

We're excited to have Lisa Maxwell join us to talk about her latest novel UNHOOKED.

Lisa, how long did you work on UNHOOKED?

UNHOOKED was a long time coming. The book started as my 2011 NaNoWriMo project, but when I was done, it was a hot mess. I revised it for almost a year before I queried it, and then it went through a round of revisions and two agents before it went on submission. After the first round of submissions didn’t pan out (no pun intended), I revised the book again, changing it from past tense to present tense. That was back in 2012. So I’ve been working on one version of this or another for over four years, and I’ve gone through two agents and countless revisions for this book, so I’m so excited my characters finally are making their way out into the world.

What is your favorite thing about UNHOOKED?

My favorite thing about UNHOOKED is the way I’ve gone back to the source text and revived the darker aspects of it. When I was re-reading Peter and Wendy, there was one line that really struck me, that Peter would “thin” the lost boys out when they got too old or too plentiful and that “I never remember them after I kill them.” Those lines certainly didn’t speak to any Disneyfied version of Neverland, and I wanted to bring that sense of danger back to the story. In my Neverland, Pan doesn’t remember those he’s killed, because memory isn’t something that lasts in Neverland. The erosion of memory is one of the most dangerous parts of my story, and it’s something I took from the original story itself. In Barrie’s original tale, it made Neverland a fantastical adventure, but also a dangerous place, and I hope it does the same for mine as well.

Oh, and my pirate… I can have two favorite things, right? ;O)

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on my 2017 book, which is untitled at this point. I’ve pitched it as Gangs of New York with Magic. But there’s some time travel involved too, and I’m really excited about how it’s coming together.


Unhookedby Lisa Maxwell
Simon Pulse
Released 2/2/2016

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

Purchase Unhooked at AmazonPurchase 
Unhooked at IndieBound
View Unhooked on Goodreads


Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep, and Unhooked (Simon Pulse, 2-2-16). When she's not writing books, she's an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.

Have you had a chance to read UNHOOKED yet? Have you stuck with a novel through years of revision? Are you surprised by the darker tones of some of the original pre-Disney stories? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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16. Difference between Impact and Relationship Throughlines

Question: Could you please give more information about the Impact and Relationship throughlines? There is a clear differentiation between the Overall and

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17. Tim Tingle, on HOUSE OF PURPLE CEDAR winning American Indian Library Association's 2016 Youth Literature Award in Young Adult Category

Yesterday (Feb 6 2016), the American Indian Library Association (AILA) announced the winners of its 2016 Youth Literature Awards. Recipients of the awards will be formally recognized at the American Library Association's Annual Conference this summer, in Orlando, Florida.

The winner in the Young Adult category is House of Purple Cedar, by Choctaw writer, Tim Tingle. I asked him to tell me about the book and his thoughts upon hearing the news. Here, I share his generous and moving response.


From 1998 to 2013 I worked almost every day on “House of Purple Cedar.” That’s what happens when you’re a 50 year-old man writing in the voice of a 12 year-old girl. Don’t ask me why, I might say something like, “She was the ghost talking to me.” And it might be true. A life changes over 15 years, and many eye-opening events worked their way into the narrative; theft from an old man with dementia, which I witnessed. A major theme throughout the book, alcohol and the accompanying spousal abuse, I saw first-hand growing up.   
In truth, I know and love every character in HOPC. Roberta Jean, the teenage girl with four bratty brothers, is my real-life sister Bobby Jean. Samuel, the quiet son of the preacher, is my brother Danny, who flipped his kayak and drowned a few years before I began the book. One-legged Maggie was a combo of my 7th grade history teacher, Mr. Beeson, who limped on a wooden leg; and his stubborn and hilarious counterpart, my reading teacher Mrs. Deemer. And as all Choctaws know, the Bobb brothers honor Bertram Bobb, our esteemed Choctaw chaplain.
As I reflect on where I was and why I included certain scenes and characters, I realize that so many of my friends are gone. Jay MacAlvain, a retired prof from Seminole State College, nurtured and coached me through my M.A. thesis, and a late-night story of his inspired the book. He told of a drunken sheriff in small town Oklahoma who, after an argument with his wife, boarded a train and shot dead the first Indian he saw. The dead Indian was Jay’s uncle, whom he never met. The sheriff knew no one would report him or complain. Until 1929, it was against the law in Oklahoma for an Indian to bear witness against a white man.
Reports of the suspected arson of New Hope Academy on New Year’s Eve, 1896, gave this story a home: Skullyville, once a bustling city in eastern Oklahoma. Skullyville became my second home. I walked the nearby railroad tracks for miles, sat amongst the gravestones, sang Choctaw songs—and listened.
My gone-before Choctaw friend, storyteller/writer Greg Rodgers, and I spent many days at Robber’s Cave, near Wilburton, OK, as I wrote and he revised at a furious pace. We walked over so many graveyards I felt more at ease among their residents than in town. I grew to trust my flying fingers.
I so longed that the stories I carried from these excursions would finally be told. I wanted the little girls of New Hope Academy to be honored, a century later. I wanted every woman who suffered from abuse to know they did not bring it upon themselves.
And I wanted non-Indian readers to experience the world from the viewpoint of the persecuted; the bruises on Amafo’s cheek, the tender touch of Pokoni….oh how I love those elders. The power and strength to forgive.
Yea though I walk through the valley of the sometimes heartless, I will walk the road of goodness, wave the light of forgiveness, and smile warm jokes along the way, as so many of my Choctaw kinfolks did. 


This is the sixth set of books the American Indian Library Association has selected for its awards. The committee members change each time. In nearly every year, Tim's books are amongst the winners. Crossing Bok Chitto won in the picture book category in 2008. Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light was selected as an Honor Book in 2012. In 2014 his How I Became a Ghost won the Middle Grade Award, and his Danny Blackgoat: Navajo Prisoner won the Middle Grade Honor.

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18. Beginning 2016

"Morning Flowers" oil on canvas

A little late I know - starting in February.  I have some good things planned so hopefully this will be a creative year.  This is a 16 x 20 oil on canvas that will be part of a series.

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19. Presidential Polar Bear Post Card Project No. 80 - 2.5.16

It was our September trip to Kaktovik that started this project. And it's still there. Barter Island and Kaktovik, Alaska. On the edge of the Beaufort Sea. Due east of Prudhoe Bay and the epicenter of oil development on the North Slope. The value of the Coastal Plain untouched is FAR greater than it is with oil rigs and drilling platforms.

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20. Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now open!

Our February workshop is now open! We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have author Brian Katcher and agent Christa Heschke!

So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute - and good luck!


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21. Kimberley Griffiths Little, author of BANISHED, on the importance of determination and perseverance

BANISHED is the second book in the Forbidden series, and we're delighted to have Kimberley Griffiths Little here to chat about it.

Kimberley, what scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

Chapter 20 ended up being added after I already had a complete draft of BANISHED. I’d foreshadowed treason with two other characters and hadn’t carried it through to its climax. I still needed to write the BIG confrontation. Somebody had to die, but who, and how?

I quickly drafted the chapter in a frenzy since my editor’s deadline was looming within days. It stunned me when all the plot pieces came together. The chapter didn’t suffer too many revisions either, which is always a bit astonishing.

I particularly love the emotional scene between Jayden and Kadesh at the end of Chapter 20. Kadesh is tearing himself into pieces over the fact that he had to carry out capital punishment on the traitor and the king’s son, his unwitting accomplice. It’s the first time the burdens and weight of responsibility as heir to the throne comes into full force and it almost does him in emotionally because he had to punish men he’d known his entire life. The tender scene between Kadesh and Jayden made me cry for him. It was also a great opportunity to show a new side to their deepening relationship.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I’ve always worked at home—in dead silence—except for three yelling, wrestling boys in the background. Somehow I manage to tune them out unless someone is bleeding. Then I began drafting Banished and immediately became overwhelmed by so many characters and plot threads.

I kind of freaked out. Stared at my screen for hours. Ate way too many cookies—including cookie dough by the heaping spoonful. My daughter told me about Pandora so I checked it out. The Downton Abbey “station” is surprisingly a good one, a great mix of instrumental from dozens of artists. I adore the Secret Garden, an Irish/Norwegian duo, they are soooo good! and piano solos. I’m a pianist and listening to piano music just *does* something for me.

I found out for the first time in my life that I liked listening to music while I wrote. It took me into the mood of my story. After a few weeks struggling to start each new writing session I’d turn on Pandora on my Ipad—and the music turned a switch on in my brain. I was like Pavlov’s dog. I found myself writing when the music began. A few weeks later I’d written 80,000 words and finally typed The End. It was a miracle.

Now I flounder around until the music goes on and voila(!) my fingers and brain finally get going. It was the only thing that got me through the drafting of Book 3, too.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Finish the book! I know SO many writers who get bogged down in the middle—and honestly, we ALL get bogged down. Too many aspiring writers have files full of half-done manuscripts, first chapters, bits and pieces of great ideas, but no completed manuscript.

True Story: I have a friend who was convinced that she had to get an MFA degree in writing (which she did) in order to learn how to become a better writer and get published—and yet, she has yet to finish a full, complete manuscript so that she can even begin querying agents and editor.

Sadly, she is remarkably talented and every time she attends a writer’s conferences her first pages are read by an editor who loves it and wants to see the book when it was done. But she’s never submitted the book because she hasn’t finished it.

Striving for perfection or not disciplining yourself to stay in the chair and get through to the end can be your doom. Twenty years after I first met this friend, she has yet to finish her YA novel. My heart bleeds for her.

It doesn’t take enormous talent to write a book, it takes a bigger dose of determination and perseverance. Yes, it’s hard. Every single book I write is hard in its own way, but it’s possible. There are writers across the country, sitting in their solitary rooms, pounding away at their keyboards (and sometimes pounding their heads), and finishing. When you have a complete manuscript you have a chance at publication, it’s that simple.

The other half of this advice is that after you finish the first manuscript, begin your next book within months or at least a year. The writer who keeps writing new stories (as opposed to revising the same one ad nauseam) will automatically become a better writer. I promise you that is true. I wish someone had told me this twenty years ago.


Banishedby Kimberley Griffiths Little
Released 2/2/2016

She thought she’d lost everything . . .

After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the Kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess.

But the trek to Sariba is fraught with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her . . . secrets that will change everything. This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden, is full of love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless.

Purchase Banished at Amazon
Purchase Banished at IndieBound
View Banished on Goodreads


Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico with her husband and three sons in a solar adobe home on the banks of the Rio Grande. Her award-winning writing has been praised as "fast-paced and dramatic," with "characters painted in memorable detail" and "beautifully realized settings."

Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell and makes way too many cookies while writing.

She's stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; held baby gators in the bayous/swamps of Louisiana, sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

Kimberley's Awards include: Southwest Book Award, Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel, Bank Street College Best Books of 2011 & 2014, Crystal Kite Finalist, and New Mexico Book Award Finalist.


Have you had a chance to read BANISHED yet? Does music help you write or does it distract you? Do you continue to write new stories to become a better writer? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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22. Video: Authors Phil Bildner & Chris Barton, BookPeople Buyer Meghan Goel on Modern First Library

From Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations

Kidlit TV:

"BookPeople, the leading independent bookstore in Texas since 1970, is proud to announce the BookPeople Modern First Library initiative. This initiative is all about pairing beloved picture books that will never go out of style along with other favorites that reflect the diverse, global society of the 21st century.

"Author Phil Bildner interviewed award-winning author Chris Barton and BookPeople's head buyer, Meghan Goel about the Modern First Library -- learn how you can start one of your own!"

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23. Epiphany in Amsterdam

I was in Amsterdam because if you work on a rig in Dutch waters for an agency not based in Holland, you don’t pay any taxes. It worked out ok for me because it meant I could do a roustabout job for the same wages as for roughnecking in the UK. Roustabouting is easier than roughnecking. I got a job through the agency, caught a flight to Amsterdam, was at the heliport at the right time. I got to the rig, worked there a few trips before my knee went. It was something I just knew. Sometimes you get pains in your legs during twelve hour shifts on steel decks. Sometimes you get them, accept them as part of the job. But this was different. This one wouldn’t go away. I got through the shift, but when I woke up for the next one, my knee had swollen up to twice its normal size. It looked like a bag of fluid. I went to the medic, confirmed that it was a real injury, made arrangements to catch the next flight off. I said goodbye to the boys, was helicoptered on a regular flight to Amsterdam. I saw the skaters on the canals from the chopper window. Ironic when you come from Ottawa and the mother of all skating canals and they haven’t had a cold enough winter in Amsterdam for years to enable skating on their canals. And I couldn’t skate because of my knee. There had been enough cold, windswept shifts, big pieces of steel swinging my way on that job. It was time for a break. What better place to do it than in Amsterdam, on an oil company’s tab? I got in touch with the proper doctor who was a chiropractor and physiotherapist. I had to go to him once a week, then to an orthopaedic surgeon.I got a room on Huiderkoperstraat near Rembrandstplein. There was a sink, enough room for a bed and a chair. It was fine. I lived in that closet for months, drank large amounts of Courvoisier and beer. The smoke was legal. I bought an electric guitar, a small amp, some earphones. I blew up the cheap earphones the same day. It was a lonely time of freedom. I could lay in bed with my radio and guitar, read all the second hand books I wanted. I could make the rounds of the drinking bars or the stoner cafes or just wander around streets which were busy before North America was invaded by white men. I only had to show up at the doctor’s, once a week. I bandaged my knee in an elastic to walk around. The red light district got old very fast. There were some bars there that stayed open around the clock, places with good, cheap, live music, but the streets themselves were depressing. It all made sense, having the prostitution and soft drugs legalized, but it was commodifying some things which were sacred, in a way. The authorities could keep an eye on it, control it a little. It was so sensible that it was impossible to imagine the whole system moved to Ontario. The red light district was a nice place to visit when there was a special band or special dope or to play pool at the end of a drunk. There were so many blonde girls driving bicycles around Amsterdam that it was difficult to get enthusiastic about walking along canals after dark, seeing the groups of drunken men shopping in the windows. Some of the girls even had a rear view mirror reflecting their images out to the street when their windows faced the wrong way. I spent many hours, many days on that bed in that room near Rembrandsplein. The BBC World Service at night reminded me of England and Scotland. I thought of my old friends, wondered where they were. I thought of my recent months in Crete. There was an old theatre where I saw an African band. At the bar, a government approved house dealer worked out of a window on the second floor instead of coming around to tables. You could stand in the balcony, look down on the stage, drink beer and roll joints. The African guy had fifteen people in the band, not counting the chorus line of white girls. He, himself, played a big, gourd stringed instrument. He rocked, played the blues. I saw Eric Burdon there. He admitted to the audience that Amsterdam “freaked him out”. He yelled at a guy who was wired, climbing his speaker columns, “Hey man, do I show up on your work site and take bread out of your mouth?” The crowd was behind him, his band cooked, a good bass player. With a permanent address, I was able to get some mail from home. In my little room on Huiderkoppestraat, I received the news of my uncle Earl’s death. He was “the sheriff” to us as kids, retired to Sand Bay from Northern Electric in Montreal. He was the last of the Wheeler boys, the four brothers. Now, he was gone. In a few months, my leg was better, the doctors couldn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t go back to work. I played my guitar, drank, smoked and listened to BBC World Service. One night, I was drawn into a bar by the music. It turned out to be Salsa, but at that time, I had no idea what it was. I knew it had some Caribbean influences, but the centre of it seemed to be Spanish. It was an occasion which all the expats from the Caribbean celebrated. I drank my beer, stood at the bar, watched the band. A black guy, older, danced in the crowd near the band. He was surrounded by beautiful women, Dutch and otherwise, all night. In the men’s room I asked him what it was he was doing on the dance floor. “It’s Salsa, man. I’m not from there, but I lived in Cuba for years. I love it, man” It was a good enough explanation for me. He knew what I meant. I remembered the way he shook so freely, like a matador, took it all so seriously and enjoyed it. Above the sink in my room was a mirror. I shared the toilet and shower with some other people on that floor, took my clothes with me to wash in the shower. I stared into the mirror for a day before I decided to shave off my moustache. After that, I looked at myself without a moustache many times. I felt female when I saw the white slash of flesh above my mouth which had been covered for years. I felt naked. It was time to go back to the rig. I owed the doctors, I owed some rent on my room and I owed Fritz, a Dutchman who lived in England, a mechanic on the rig. I packed my bag, stowed my guitar and amp in my room, took a bus to Schipol Airport. The chopper was leaving for the rig in another hour. I watched people heading for their destinations in the sunny, cold morning. Holiday vacations, business trips, young, old, they were all going somewhere. I sat in a cafe in the main terminal, ate a Danish, drank coffee. There was no way I was going back to the rig. I changed that to include the North Sea on the bus back into Amsterdam. Amsterdam was even better in the next few days. I could only afford a ticket to London so I spent what I had left over in Amsterdam. I bought a Gibson in a second hand music store for the price of my amp and guitar, squandered what little money I had left. London was in the near future but my time in Europe was up. I knew I was going home.

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24. Emma Watson as Dr. Who?

Many Dr. Who fans were sadden to hear that Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi will be stepping down from their roles with the highly successful TV series sooner than any expected. With a new writer and a new Doctor being introduced to the series in the near future (2018), there have been many interesting suggestions flying around the rumor mill–including rumors of Harry Potter stars filling in the lead role.

With new head writer, Chris Chibnall, will there be a woman Doctor Who? It would certainly shake things up a bit for the series–which has essentially been running since 1963 (the first series ended in 1989, but was brought back in 2005)–as the show has always run under a male lead as the Doctor, with a female supporting actress as the Doctor’s companion.

Popular suggestions in the fan base right now are Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Whishaw (“Q” from the recent James Bond movies), Richard Ayoade and Chiwetel Ejiofor. But the possibility of having a woman Doctor, for the first time in over 50 years, also opens up the opportunity for a male companion. Two popular suggestions at the moment are our own Harry Potter lead actress, Emma Watson, and Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams.

Emma Watson’s role as Hermione is a relatively fitting character for a female Dr. Who. Emma Watson’s Hermione was incredibly intelligent, independent, and caring. A Doctor Who, traveling through space and time, with expansive knowledge of all of history and the future, acting as a guardian aid in the safety of the universe, and as a leader embodies all of these things.

Though a female Doctor Who’s personality and quirkiness would be much different than Hermione’s, Emma Watson would still be a great actress to select for the role. Of course, even if she is offered the role, it is up to her to accept it.

The changing of gender roles opens up an interesting discussion within the TV series as well as within the industry itself. Please share with us your thoughts and suggestions!

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25. C.C. Hunter, author of ALMOST MIDNIGHT, on secondary characters auditioning for a lead part

We're thrilled to have C.C. Hunter stop by to tell us about ALMOST MIDNIGHT, her collection of novellas.

C.C. , what was your inspiration for writing ALMOST MIDNIGHT?

My Shadow Fall fans were the real inspiration and reason this book came to be. Since Turned at Dark, an e-story about Della Tsang becoming a vampire, was released in e-print I’ve been getting emails from readers wanting it to come out in paperback. The story wasn’t long enough to put in hard print. Then, St. Martins published Saved at Sunrise, another e-novella about Della, Unbreakable, an e-novella about Chase Tallman, and Spellbinder, an e-novella about Miranda Kane. Finally, due to many more requests from fans, my editor decided to put these stories in a paperback anthology. Then we decided to add a bonus novella in the mix. But who was this novella going to spotlight? There had been a character knocking on my mind and asking for her story to be written. I tried to ignore her because frankly, she wasn’t exactly a likely candidate. She wasn’t even likable for most of the series. She was Kylie’s archenemy in the first four books. But Fredericka Lakota wouldn’t give up, so I gave in. As I started brainstorming Fredericka’s story, Fierce, the inspiration for this piece quickly became overcoming obstacles in our lives.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

While I’ve always been a writer who fleshes out my secondary characters, writing the short novellas about secondary characters has taught me to dig deeper. You never know when a secondary character isn’t just auditioning for a lead part. For example, I always knew Fredericka had a story to tell, but I had created her to be Kylie’s nemesis and hadn’t planned on delving deeper into her point of view or showing her growth. But in Whispers at Moonrise, the fourth book in the Shadow Falls series, Fredericka started evolving. Her character just set out to redeem herself. I gave her some page space to do it, but then gently shut the door on her.

That was a mistake. That girl just kept knocking. Writing Fierce really showed me that no time is wasted when developing those secondary characters. I never guessed that Fredericka would end up with her own story or wind up being one of those characters who I cared so deeply about.

What do you hope readers will take away from ALMOST MIDNIGHT?

I think every story in Almost Midnight carries a message of friendship, of picking yourself up by your bootstraps, and overcoming hurdles.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on Miranda’s book. It’s so fun getting into that witch’s head.


Almost Midnightby C.C. Hunter
St. Martin's Griffin
Released 2/2/2016

Nestled deep in the woods, Shadow Falls is a secret camp where teens with supernatural powers learn to harness their abilities and live in the normal world. 

Independent and strong-willed Della Tsang did not believe in vampires...until she became one. Chase Tallman is the newest member of Shadow Falls, but what made him into the sexy, mysterious vampire he is today? And what led him to Della Tsang? And for Miranda Kane, magic has always been something she's struggled with, but when an opportunity to test her powers takes her to Paris, she'll have to prove that she's a witch to be reckoned with and belongs at Shadow Falls.

Fans won't want to miss these four remarkable stories of love, magic and friendship.

Purchase Almost Midnight at Amazon
Purchase Almost Midnight at IndieBound
View Almost Midnight on Goodreads


C.C. Hunter grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she's still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is so not a frog. When she's not writing, she's reading, spending time with her family, or is shooting things-with a camera, not a gun.


Have you had a chance to read ALMOST MIDNIGHT yet? Do you write novellas starring your secondary characters? How do you know when a secondary character deserves their own novel? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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