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<<July 2016>>
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1. Golden Kite for Picture Book Text – Jessixa Bagley

Jessixa Bagley is by far Seattle's favorite Jessixa, and she'll be yours, too. BOATS FOR PAPA is a beautiful, lyrical book and her fellow Seattleites are thrilled that she/it have received this fantastic award.

In her acceptance speech, Jessixa thanks SCBWI, her lovely agent, Alexandra Penfold, and her stellar editor, Neal Porter. Jessixa got teary as she thanked her artist/author husband, Aaron Bagley, who she says helped her find her voice.

Jessixa says, upon receiving the call from SCBWI that she'd won the Golden Kite for Picture Book Text, that her Illustrator Brain thought, "Text!? Did my illustrations suck?"

But luckily her Author Brain piped up and said, "Hey! This is great!"

Jessixa's always felt much more comfortable calling herself an artist, "Calling myself an author... Author almost seemed like a taboo word... It seems like a dream now to be up on this stage. I went from thinking I'd never be published, to being here. Writing picture books is the hardest thing I've ever done, but also the most rewarding."

I love Jessixa's inspiring, concluding thoughts to us: She says if we haven't found our voice yet, to not be scared, it's there. It might be really quiet, but the more you write, the louder it will become.

Congratulations, Jessixa!!!

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2. CBCA Shortlist: Finished Reading A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay

Wel, I've completed my read of this particular CBCA shortlist book.

Is it good? Yes. And even if it doesn't win this award, it has already won some others, including one for spec fic. I finished the last chapters quickly, which says something about the readability of the story, and the heroine was good, as was her foster sister and a boy she was friendly with(no romance) but ...

There were some questions left unanswered at the end. I can't go into detail here without spoilers. I described the story outline in my last post on this. It's a dystopia set in a small village where everyone has been trapped for several generations after a rockfall(known as The Rockfall) got them stuck in a valley surrounded by mountains. It has become the ritual to send very slim young girls from seven years upwards to mine mica in the narrow natural passages -men aren't allowed into the mountain or allowed to scoop anything out, because the only survivors of the disaster last time, just after the Rockfall, were women - seven of them, so there is a team of seven girls who are trained to go in and get the mica needed badly for heat and light -only seven at a time, because that's the ritual. And no scooping out anything but what the mountain will allow because that's what caused the Rockfall. I totally understand the point the author is making here.

As I said in my last post, there's no comment on how small the gene pool is in a place where there's only one village - no point in naming it when there aren't any others - although there is a bit on the careful harvests and how happy everyone is when they manage to catch a bird the villagers can share.

But I think the ending let it down. Not so much the discovery of the other people on the other side and that there might be a way to reach them - that's more or less indicated in the scenes from the POV  of a girl called Lia, so not a spoiler. Again, I can't tell you, because spoiler. But I was left saying, "Hang on, there's been this flashback going on through the book and it never quite told us what happened to two of the characters and suddenly we find out what happened to one of them, but not how." 

To be honest, of the four Older Readers books I've read so far, I like two equally best, The Flywheel and Cloudwish. Possibly Cloudwish a bit ahead... Freedom Ride was good for the history it brought to life, though there were some familiar tropes in it I've seen before. This novel is, so far, the one I like the least. And I'm a lover of speculative fiction. 


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3. Nonfiction social: the real story!

#LA16SCBWI nonfiction aficionados gathered in the ornately walled Athenian room to socialize, network, and talk trade. And this is just a few of them–more people flowed in after the photo was taken! What was the nitty-gritty? You'll just have to be there next year to find out.

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4. Golden Kite acceptance speeches: Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle accepted the Golden Kite Award for nonfiction for her book, “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir,” (Atheneum). 

She spoke about the challenges of writing a memoir, noting that memories swirl in time. “There is not a website for looking up your childhood,” she said

Margarita wrote “Enchanted Air” to offer hope to children of immigrants, and for her hope for better relations between the United States and Cuba.

Her plea for peace, she said, became a song of thanks when the book published on the same day the United States opened its doors to Cuba.


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5. The 2016 Golden Kite Award-Winner For Fiction: Neal Shusterman for Challenge Deep

Neal accepting his Golden Kite Award

Neal Shusterman is the New York Times best-selling author of the National Book Award-winning Challenger Deep; Bruiser, which was a Cooperative Children’s Book Center choice, a YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick, and on twelve state lists; The Schwa Was Here; and the Unwind dystology, among many other books. He lives in California with his four children. Visit: www.storyman.com

Neal's "Challenger Deep" is the winner of this year's 2016 Golden Kite Award for Fiction.

Neal tells us about where "Challenger Deep" came from. About his son's mental illness and struggle and ultimately rising above it. Not a story about his son, but inspired by thing things his son went through. He took the artwork his son had created while he was in the emotional depths, the mental depths, and built a story from that.

"Challenger Deep frightened me. ...I wanted it to be emotionally honest," and something that his son would be proud of. It took him four years to write. How he was so nervous about his editor's response, and how gratified he was by her response that it was "a masterpiece." And then he gets a great laugh when he says that praise was followed by a ten-page editorial letter!

"Challenger Deep is a call to action. To talk openly about mental illness."

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6. डाइट – वजन नियंत्रित करने की टिप्स

 डाइट – वजन नियंत्रित करने की टिप्स  डाइट – वजन नियंत्रित करने की टिप्स How to Maintain our weight.. some helpful tips हम जिम जाकर या अन्य तरीके अपना कर अपना वजन कम तो कर लेते है पर उसे नियंत्रण में नही रख पाते और जिम छोडते ही या सैर करना छोडते ही दुबारा अपने […]

The post डाइट – वजन नियंत्रित करने की टिप्स appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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7. Last Day of Class

Thursday was our last day of Picture Book Design at Hollins University. Students presented their dummies - the culmination of six weeks of struggles, lost sleep, and exploration. Here I am with all of my students. From the left, Kathleen, Kary, Me, Rebekah, Jennifer and Martha.

We began the day finishing up presentations. Each student gave a 20-minute presentation on an illustrator they admire and are inspired by. Among them were Melissa Sweet, Keith Negley, Cynthia Rylant, etc. Then, after lunch, we munched on bad-for-us snacks and read our final dummies to each other. It was a true moment of victory:
Jennifer read The Owl and the Pussycat

Martha read When Nana Dances (a manuscript donated to our program by Jane Yolen)

Rebekah created an adaptation of Red Riding Hood, now Blue

Kary created our first same-sex Owl and the Pussycat. First she presented her mini flip-book while Martha coaxed a funny smile out of her. (These guys truly bond over the intense summer term.)

And then she shared the full-sized dummy. (Covers were not required to be in color although some students took them there.)
Finally, Kathleen shared her version of When Nana Dances
     Even when they choose to do the same stories, it's amazing how wildly different they turn out. Just goes to show how individual illustrator voices can truly define a story.
     Next, was graduation! More soon...

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8. Saho Fuji – The Picture Book Process: A Complete Overview

Saho Fujii shares some details about the picture book making process for illustrators. Here are some highlights:

Wild fact: She has two books coming out this fall that have been in production for five and ten years! She says these are exceptions, most books take a year or two.

At Little Brown, there are two book seasons, and each have pretty standard deadlines for art.

Spring books: Sketches are due: 4/1 and final art is due 8/1

Spring books: Sketches are due: 10/1 and final art due 2/1 of following year...

These are standard schedule dates in the LB contract an illustrator receives!

I might have to lie down.

Changes to the schedule can be made, but an illustrator must tell their editor/art director production team as soon as possible if they need more time.

Trim size is chosen, as are paper types (dependent on book age range and category) and pagination lengths.

Saho is looking for character and setting consistency at the sketch stage to be sure those are consistent in the final art.

Even at the sketch stage when there may be no color, Saho is aware of potential issues, for example, when working on Jerry Pinkney’s TORTOISE AND THE HARE, Jerry had mentioned he wanted the story set in the dessert. But the art team expressed concern the pages would be monochromatic, and that the main characters would blend into the background too much. So Jerry added colorful props and accessories to the tortoise and hare, as well as colorful, extra cast members to help vary the palette more.

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9. Golden Kite for Middle Grade/Young Reader: Kate Hannigan

This year's Golden Kite Award for Middle Grade/Young Readers is Kate Hannigan for THE DETECTIVE'S ASSISTANT.

"How many of you have received rejection notices?" Kate asks.

Hands shoot in the air.

Kate shares her 65 feet of rejection. With help, she rolls it out like a red carpet!

Look at that. That's how you get applause for rejection. 

Kate share that in 2004, a year into being involved with SCBWI, she started receiving notices about winning awards and receiving invitations to speak at school, when she hadn't yet published. People were confusing her, Kate Hannigan, with Katherine Hannigan. THE DETECTIVE'S ASSISTANT also came out within days of Katherine's latest book. Kate found she had to make her own mark and break through with her own voice. 

"I wrote and wrote like a pack of wolves was at my heels," Kate says.

Kate describes writing the book as "a giddy wind in a hair thrill."

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10. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Release TODAY!

Today is the day. This is not a drill. Today is the first time in nine years that Harry Potter fans get a full Harry Potter story (in the form of a play) about the Trio and the rest of the gang as adults, 19 years later. WHO ISN’T EXCITED?

All the excitement, all the buzz, massive country-wide costume contests, breaking best-selling records (even though it is a play script!), it is happening again! Three turns of a time turner, and we find Harry Potter release parties happening all over the world, tonight. Barnes and Noble is hosting midnight release parties in almost all of its stores, and if you are in the Orlando area, we highly encourage you to join some of the biggest Harry Potter fans at GeekyCon with a day pass.

The GeekyCon party will be hosted by classic Potter podcast MuggleCast and PotterCast, and many others with experience and knowledge of Pottermania. The fun will start at 7 PM with the convention’s traditional Esther Earl Rocking Charity Ball. Starting at 10:00 PM, festivities will convert themselves into a huge Harry Potter and the Cursed Child midnight book release . In tried and true Harry Potter Book Midnight Release party fashion, there will be a set of games, activities, and events to take part of–including, but not limited to:

  • Costume Contests
  • Sorting
  • Trivia and other games
  • Wizard Chess
  • Quidditch
  • Wizard Rock performances
  • Face painting and other crafts
  • Video retrospectives
  • Appearances from special guests
  • Put your name in the Goblet of Fire! (Submit your predictions, and we’ll go through them together at Sunday’s programming!)
  • Share in the Pensieve: Submit memories about Harry Potter and your experiences; we’ll be sharing them throughout the night.
  • And a lot more!

At midnight, everyone will begin to receive their book copy of the Cursed Child script! You must reserve a copy online (here), and purchase will happen on site. Full, detailed instructions will shortly follow this announcement.

Fans in the Florida area, and maybe those who want to apparate further, can choose to come to just the party (which includes the ball) for $20, to enjoy the night’s festivities.

It isn’t only the script that is released today. The Cursed Child is a play, and it’s official opening night is tonight.

The Pottermore Twitter is being continuously updated by the minute, as the Cursed Child gala unfolds in front of the Palace Theater. J.K. Rowling and the creators of Cursed Child are greeting fans, and introducing opening night to the public.



In addition to covering the gala and the premiere, Pottermore will be following Sam Clemmett, who is playing Albus Severus) the star of the show, possibly the Cursed Child), behind the scenes.


The Harry Potter Play London Twitter will be doing a similar Twitter series, but following Anthony Boyle, who is playing the role of Scorpius Malfoy. Anthony will be showing fans what it is like behind the scenes of Cursed Child with his daily routine.

Pottermore released an article this morning, detailing when Jo Rowling met the Cursed Child cast–watching her Boy Wizard, his friends and family, come to life in their adult form. Everyone gather into a large circle to introduce themselves to the group by giving their names and the roles that they played. Pottermore reports:

When the circle of induction finally reached J.K. Rowling she said, ‘I’m Jo… Well, you know what I did.’

There was a long, sweet, earnest pause as we all stopped to think about exactly what she has done and why we were all here. Excitement unfurled across the party.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story – the story that fans have wished, dreamed and begged to have since Deathly Hallows. It’s an adult life for Harry, Ron and Hermione that, until now, we’ve only been able to imagine for ourselves. They’re really back.


J.K. Rowling has always enigmatically said ‘never say never’ when asked about the prospect of a new Harry Potter story. ‘…Until these two came to me,’ J.K. Rowling said, with a look of fond incredulity toward producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender.

It was Sonia and Colin, of course, who did the unimaginable: They helped J.K. Rowling to bring her characters back and released them on stage, in a two-part play directed by the brilliant John Tiffany. Together they assembled this group of gifted creatives – starting with writer Jack Thorne.

‘None of this would have been possible without that man,’ J.K. Rowling said, as she pointed across the room to Jack, a very tall man trying to hide behind two much shorter women. He beamed at her with a sweet modesty that belied the gargantuan task he had just completed. Jack is, after all, the only person in the world who has been trusted to write Harry, Ron and Hermione back into life.


To read the article in its entirety, read here.

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11. Sid Fleischman Award: Molly Burnham for TEDDY MARS

The Sid Fleischman Humor Award this year goes to the wonderful Molly Burnham, who wrote TEDDY MARS: ALMOST A WORLD RECORD BREAKER.

The award, named for the beloved writer Sid Fleischman, is given to the year's best funny book. Sid was one of the founding members of the SCBWI. Lisa Yee won the award the first time it was given, and she presented the honor to Molly, a debut novelist.

"Are you freaking out? If you're not, there's something wrong with you," Lisa said to Molly. "There are 1,000 people staring at you. THAT'S 2,000 EYEBALLS."

TEDDY MARS is about  boy obsessed with breaking world records. He'll try anything to reach his goal. "Funny, charming, and with its share of pigeon-poop jokes, this is a must-read for anyone who's ever felt out of place."

"When I found out I won this award, I immediately felt I wasn't funny any more," Molly said. (Everyone laughed immediately, proving the Molly is bonkers.)

She cried when she found out she won the Sid Fleischman award. "It's been a faraway dream that I would someday be worthy of this award. This dream ... started when I was a little kid. It means so much, and I am—to borrow a word from Road Dahl—ridonkuloulsly blissful."

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12. Our meet

The tickling drops of rain,
Instigates your feel,
Like the fresh dew of morning,
My heart goes to you with a kneel,

Oh! a rainbow of my life,
Your silky hair shines,
The eyes capture the moment,
The hug acts as wines,

Let’s craft a new era of romanticism,
With glued hands & united heart,
Let’s paint a new sky, where,
Every moment, we can flirt.

Those drowsy conversation, 
In the starry night,
Subconsciously boosts me up,
Turns my day bright.

My mood swings as pendulum,
Your touch is so nourishing,
Reborn after every meet,
Had become a phoenix, so cherishing,

The moments fly off,
In the blink of an eye,
And when you walk away shying,
I can’t control the sigh,


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13. The 2016 SCBWI Member of the Year is...

Florida RA Linda Bernfeld!

As Lin said of Linda, "She's launched more careers... than you could count."

The standing ovation for Linda

Congratulations, Linda!

A well-deserved honor

On a personal note, I'm so delighted for Linda, who gets the crown after me…

Okay, while it doesn't come with a Tiara, winning SCBWI Member of the Year is a huge honor, and I'm so happy for you -- Congratulations!

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14. Teaching teamwork

The capacity to work in teams is a vital skill that undergraduate and graduate students need to learn in order to succeed in their professional careers and personal lives. While teamwork is often part of the curriculum in elementary and secondary schools, undergraduate and graduate education is often directed at individual effort and testing that emphasizes solitary performance.

The post Teaching teamwork appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Barney Saltzberg: Writing A Simple Picture Book Isn't Simple

Barney Saltzberg is an author/illustrator and musician, including the best-selling Touch and Feel Kisses series.

"Creating a simple picture book isn't simple, it's complicated."

Barney mentions that if you don't know Peggy Rathmann, you should. She once told him it takes 3 minutes to read a picture book that takes 3 years to create.

Kids always ask, "Is this a hard job?" And Barney tells them that he used to have all his hair.

Picture books may be short but they are one of the most difficult to master. They are works of art.

Barney recommends Ann Whitford Paul's WRITING PICTURE BOOKS.

Two of Barney's former students share their journeys of the many years it has taken them to bring a picture book to life. For one, it's taken 6 years to create a 100 word picture book. Not simple, it's complicated.

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16. What would Shakespeare drive?

Imagine a Hollywood film about the Iraq War in which a scene at a clandestine Al-Qaeda compound featuring a cabal of insurgents abruptly cuts to a truck-stop off the New Jersey Turnpike. A group of disgruntled truckers huddle around their rigs cursing the price of gas. An uncannily similar coup de thèâtre occurs in an overlooked episode in 1 Henry IV.

The post What would Shakespeare drive? appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Books For and About Diverse Kids: John Parra, Don Tate, Lisa Yee, Stacey Barney, and Pat Cummings

Right to Left: Pat Cummings, Stacey Barney, John Parra, Don Tate, and Lisa Yee

In this discussion-based breakout session, we have multiple perspectives from different parts of the children's literature community:

Pat Cummings, author/illustrator of over thirty-five books for young readers (and Board member of SCBWI, the Authors Guild, and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, among others.)

Stacey Barney, Senior Editor at Penguin/Putnam Books for Young Readers

John Parra, Golden-Kite winning illustrator.

Don Tate, author and illustrator, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award.

Lisa Yee, author of 16 books and winner of the very first Sid Fleischman Humor Award.

Some highlights:

Stacey Barney:
"Write organic stories." Sometimes she finds that it's almost as if writers are checking off boxes for diversity with their diverse cast of characters, but "character shouldn't feel like categories."

John Parra:
"Be respectful. Show it to others who are part of those communities. Make sure authentic is how it's portrayed."

Don Tate:
"Study. Research. Vet. ...Make sure you're not exploiting the topic."

Lisa Yee:
You can write outside your experience "but you have to get it right."

The panel are telling us fascinating stories, like Lisa sharing how her Millicent Min (in 2003) was the first middle grade book with a photo of an Asian American kid on the cover.

Don shares about doing a school visit when he was asked by a 5th grade class if he only illustrates Black people, and how he asked the two African American boys in the class if they felt like they've read books that represented them - and they said no. So he turned to the rest of the class and explained that he's made it his mission, he's built his whole career, to create positive portrayals of people that look like those two boys… and the whole class clapped.

Stacey tells us about teaching (elementary and preschool and high school), and reading picture books to the kids, and how she made an effort to choose picture books that reflected their experience. "Kids are kids."

Pat speaks of her school visits, and how kids pick up books out of curiosity. She shares how she was asked once by a British author why she only does books with Black characters. Pat countered, asking the British author why they only created books with British characters…

John speaks of how he sees diverse books being published, but the awards and reviews and the best lists of the year aren't that diverse. After they've published, how do they get recognized and supported?

They cover editorial staffing (and the importance of diversity in staffing across departments, including marketing, publicity and sales), being vetted by additional experts, and much, much more.

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18. My tweets

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19. Illustrators! Share your #LA16SCBWI Conference Journal Images...

It's an open call. Are you an illustrator attending #LA16SCBWI?

If you'd like to share a photo of your conference notes/sketches, you can leave a link here in comments, or tag your image on either twitter or instagram with #LA16SCBWI.

We can't wait to see - and share - what inspires you, and how you express it!

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20. The Emotional Wound Thesaurus Is Retiring Soon

Becca and I have been profiling Emotional Wounds for quite a while now, and it’s getting to the point where we need to retire this thesaurus and start a new one.

I know some of you might be upset. The Emotional Wound Thesaurus is truly one-of-a-kind, tackling a topic that is difficult to master in writing.

The good news is this: while we’re retiring the thesaurus, it’s for a good reason…so we can develop it further into a full-fledged book.

So, think of this thesaurus as merely being “on hold.” Down the road we’ll have a new resource for you that will be unlike anything else in your writing toolkit. 🙂

Before we wrap things up, we want to give everyone an opportunity to let us know what wounds they wish we would cover. This is your chance to let us know what wounds you want to see in the book!

Here’s another reason to leave us a wishlist of Emotional Wounds in the comment section:

Becca and I are going to create a short list from the ones left in the comment section and let you vote on the final entries we profile on the blog before we retire the thesaurus.

So, release the hounds! Er, the Emotional Wounds.

Tell us which wounds you would like to see us tackle, which wounds are difficult for you to portray on the page. Maybe we can help!





The post The Emotional Wound Thesaurus Is Retiring Soon appeared first on WRITERS HELPING WRITERS®.

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21. Dreamworks Animation To Launch Around-The-Clock Arabic Channel in The Middle East

Around-the-clock Dreamworks Animation in Arabic is now a reality.

The post Dreamworks Animation To Launch Around-The-Clock Arabic Channel in The Middle East appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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22. The LGBTQ and Allies Q&A

Always a highlight of the conference, this gathering of people interested in including LGBTQ characters and themes in our work for children and teens was a warm, safe space that brought up some powerful issues and generated enormous good-will. We sat in an large oval and took the time for each person to introduce themselves and share what they were working on, and, if they had one, ask a question of our 'brain trust.'

Faculty guests included Arthur A. Levine, Bruce Coville, Neal Porter, Emma Dryden, Ellen Hopkins, and Laurent Linn.

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23. Golden Kite acceptance speeches: John Para

John Para accepted the Golden Kite Award for picture book illustration for “Marvelous Cornelius,” written by Phil Bildner (Chronicle Books)

He spoke about working as an illustrator for twenty-plus years without having any idea about the world of children’s books—this “huge and wonderful community of writers and illustrators.” 

John recalled how art called him since early childhood, drawing pictures in his bedroom for hours at a time. It was a calling that got stronger as he grew, a calling that led him to a career in illustration. 

He spoke energetically about the story of Marvelous Cornelius, leading the audience in an interactive call and response: “Whooo-whooo-whooo! Rat-a-tat-tat! 

John ended his speech with a Dr. King quote: “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”


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24. Not Think

We escaped the desperate hordes of Bangkok to the small island of Ko Samui in the Gulf of Thailand. Its main industry was the export of copra from the millions of coconut trees on plantations. The labourers earned a dollar and a half American per day. There was a little tourism, a little fishing, a lot of houses with self contained environments. Each house had pigs, chickens, water buffaloes and a garden. There were free coconuts: pineapples and bananas cost pennies. We headed across the island to a village called Tongkien where you could sleep for free under a bamboo canopy in front of a restaurant. You ate whatever the fishermen came up with that day. A few kilometres away was Lamlamai, the beach. It had pure, white sand, warm, light blue, translucent water. In the sun it was almost too bright to look at. There were sand dunes between the sea and the coconut trees. The Thai sun baked everything in vibrating shimmers, the sea breeze blew. The only people who didn’t seem to be affected by the blazing sun were the fishermen who stalked invisible prey with their coolers, Chinese hats and wet sarongs. They stood still, waded in the shallows with their nets, looked like outgrowths of the shore. The Thais appeared out of nowhere, two of them, sat beside us in the sand. The sun, breeze and salt water dehydration drove us up into the trees to sit in the shade and drink coconut milk Sante, “peace” in Thai, and Anothai, hacked some coconuts open, we all drank. Joyce liked the mature yellow coconuts, I preferred the yellowish brown ones, older. Some people liked the young, green coconuts, no one ate the old, brown ones. Anothai, tall, well developed above the waist, skinny below, challenged me as we sat. He was dark skinned, full of energy, knew English because he worked for the Americans who were stationed there. I was forced to respond to his pushing me, using me for a Thai boxing punching bag. The kids in Thailand knew Thai boxing like Canadian kids knew hockey. It was their national sport, on tv all the time. He flopped out some lazy jabs, then surprised me with combinations of whirling knee kicks and high kicks. Most of them landed on my shoulders and upper arms. My rudimentary karate training bluffed Anothai into giving up after a long sparring session. Sante and Joyce watched with forced smiles until we mutually backed off. I made sure our hatchet was in plain view in our pack when Anothai flourished his curved coconut knife. Sante said that he was educated in Bangkok, taught school on Ko Samui, but decided to give it all up and grow coconuts instead. We sat in the sand facing the beach, comfortable in the shade and the breeze. Sante and I talked of education, work, money, our respective countries, considered religion and meditation. Sante exclaimed “Ah, not think!” He demonstrated by sitting up straight, looking ahead with eyes closed, pointing with his index finger from the middle of his forehead to the horizon. He wore an intense expression of concentration and made no sound until he was finished. He said that meditation was taken for granted in Asia, everyone knew how to meditate. It was simply the emptying of the mind, the absence of thought. We slept under the canopy of the restaurant that night, returned to the ferry dock in the morning. Anothai was after our money, Sante tried to cadge whiskey. We bought coconut palm bongs from them, went back to the ferry dock. A man on a neighbouring island grew powerful ganja, the Ko Samui crop was rough, less powerful, plentiful, cheap. Two brothers, trying to escape the heroin addictions which they had picked up in Bangkok, stayed at the same hotel. They were from New York City, wired to China White and oriental women. Both swore they would take an oriental woman over a westerner any time. They apologized to Joyce, told me of the wonders of living with a Thai girl. They knew that they had to get out as soon as possible. They knew that they would inevitably be statistics on the list of heroin casualties if they didn’t. They smoked a lot of local weed to help them get through their withdrawals. We rested, let the tension of Bangkok drain away. We walked down long, white beaches radiated by the sun. The salt water and wind sucked the moisture from us beneath the blazing sun. We drank soft drinks constantly. Heavy punching bags tied to trees in back yards and farm yards were used for punching and kicking practice. The whole country was filled with Buddhist monks who survived on what the population gave them every day.

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25. Jenni Holm: It Takes a Family

Jennifer L. Holm is a New York Times best-selling author and recipient of three Newbery Honors.

Lin introduces one of her favorite authors, who excels with both novels and graphic novels (written with her brother Mathew).

When Jenni's ballerina dreams fell apart at a very young age, she decided she wanted to be writer.

Much of her writing has been inspired by her own family.

Jenni's dad was her inspiration for OUR ONLY MAY AMELIA after finding her great aunt's diary in her grandmother's attic.

But Jenni tells us, when you write a book about your dad's family, you did it wrong. You should have written one about your mom's first.

PENNY FROM HEAVEN was inspired by her mom's family.

Jenni's next book TURTLE IN PARADISE came out of writing PENNY FROM HEAVEN and was inspired by her son.

Jenni didn't want to forget her husband in all this inspiration. In BOSTON JANE, Jane falls in love with a sailor who has a scar on his cheek. This was the time she was falling in love with her husband. 

Jenni circles back to her physician father, who always talked about science, as the inspiration for THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH. 

SUNNY SIDE UP was inspired by her gramps, who is "still alive and kicking at 101."

FULL OF BEANS, Jenni's upcoming novel comes back to Key West (where TURTLE IN PARADISE is set) and it's a book her son asked her write.

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