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1. My Thoughts: The Swap by Megan Shull


5 warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies.

Cover Love:  Yes.  Simple yet eye catching.

Why I Wanted to Read This:
I was first made aware of this book thought Edelweiss, where HarperCollins had it up for review.  I downloaded it then, but it took me until almost the expiration to get around to reading it.  Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
“YOU BE ME...AND I'LL BE YOU.”

ELLIE spent the summer before seventh grade getting dropped by her best friend since forever. JACK spent it training in “The Cage” with his tough-as-nails brothers and hard-to-please dad. By the time middle school starts, they’re both ready for a change. And just as Jack’s thinking girls have it so easy, Ellie’s wishing she could be anyone but herself.

Then, BAM! They swap lives—and bodies!

Now Jack’s fending off mean girls at sleepover parties while Ellie’s reigning as the Prince of Thatcher Middle School. As their crazy weekend races on—and their feelings for each other grow—Ellie and Jack begin to realize that maybe the best way to learn how to be yourself is to spend a little time being someone else.
Romance?: Nope. But lots of talk of middle school type crushes.

My Thoughts:
When I first met both Ellie and Jack I thought there was no way this was going to work.  They were WAY too different.  There was a moment where I didn't know it I liked Ellie and really didn't like Jack's dad, but I wanted to see how the author would make the switch work, so I kept reading.  So glad I did!  The author handles it well and both characters are better versions of themselves and each other when they inhabit the others body.

Ellie starts out the book as a very typical, insecure middle school girl who is being dumped by her best friend who prefers to be a mean girl.  Ellie is also the target of much of the meanness and it has really knocked her for a loop.  She is short with her mother and only wants to desperately hold onto this friendship with a really horrible person.  She can't see any of the positives in her life and is even thinking of giving up soccer--something she is good at and loves to play--to avoid her ex-best friend.  She made my heart ache for every middle school girl who has these types of issues!

Jack is a very typical middle school boy.  He is darling, athletic and has a good group of friends.  He is also very shy and no good around girls, even though every girl at school has him at the top of their list.  His nickname, given to him by all the girls, is The Prince.  He also has four older brothers and an ex-military dad who the call The Captain, whose expectations for Jack and his brothers are so incredibly high that he has forgotten how to just relax and show his boys he loves them.

Ellie's' mom is divorced and Jack's dad is a widow.  Although this is not a plot of the story, the whole time I kept hoping their parents would meet and fall in love.  But this truly is Ellie and Jack's story, not their parents. 

When the swap happens they both handle it very well.  I think that there is some relief about not having to live your own life for a few days, and what they learn about themselves and each other makes them so much better after they switch back.  I love how the author handles the switch and what each character goes through.  It's all done very well and even though this is light and ties up very neatly with a bow, I couldn't have liked it more.

To Sum Up:  Great story for middle schoolers about never assuming someone else has an easier life and about listening to others when they say good things about you!

eGalley downloaded from Edelweiss.  Thanks HarperCollins!

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2. summer reading challenge: congratulations, everyone!

I've heard so many wonderful things about this year's Summer Reading Challenge, and SO many people took part! I got this message from the kids at Dewsbury Library in Kirklees, who were having a party to celebrate earning this year's medals:



So right here from the studio in London where I make my books, I've made a message back! It's for Kirklees and ALL the people who took part in the Summer Reading Challenge: readers, librarians, volunteers, family members, sponsors... probably even more people were involved than that. Thank you!



And here's the slightly fancier video we made at Leith Library, if you want to see that, too. :)

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3. Editorial Submission :: Jana Curll

Post by Natalie

Jana Curll is an icon obsessed, color hungry illustrator working from the rainy Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. She loves to create quirky work that engages and delights both the young and the young at heart.

See more of Jana’s work on her website.

 

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4. Darlene Beck-Jacobson: Bringing Stories to Life

darlenebeckjacobson:

We’re about one third of the way through the blog tour for WHEELS OF CHANGE. Hope you’re enjoying the posts as much as I am being part of it.

Originally posted on Robin Newman Books:

I am thrilled to interview my friend and fellow Creston Books author, Darlene Beck-Jacobson.

blog tour photo

Teacher, speech therapist, and freelance writer, Darlene’s stories have appeared in Cicada, Cricket, and other magazines. Her debut historic middle grade novel, Wheels of Change (Creston Books), hits bookstores on September 22, 2014. She has also been working on another historic middle grade novel, A Sparrow in the Hand, exploring the coming of age of two sisters growing up in the coal mining area of Pennsylvania during the 1920’s. A chapter from this novel appeared in the March 2001 issue of Cricket magazine. You can also read this story on her website: http://www.darlenebeckjacobson.com 

Here’s what Kirkus has to say about Wheels of Change:

Changes fomenting both locally and nationally during the final year of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency are seen through the eyes of feisty, bighearted Emily Soper, daughter of a carriage maker in…

View original 1,481 more words


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5. Worlds End now available at the following stores


New stockists
Hi Folks,

Great news as we announce that the following retail outlets have begun to stock our products. If you live in the North West of England you can now purchase the Worlds End graphic novels from the following stores:

Travelling Man - Leeds
32 Central Road, LS1 6DE
Tel: 0113 243 6461
Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri: 10am - 6pm
Sat: 10am - 5:30pm
Sun: 11am - 5pm

Travelling Man - Manchester
4 Dale Street, M1 1JW
Tel: 0161 237 1877
Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 4:30pm

Travelling Man - Newcastle
43 Grainger Street, NE1 5JE
Tel: 0191 261 4993
Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 4:30pm

Travelling Man - York
54 Goodramgate
YO1 7LF
Tel: 01904 628 787
Opening Hours:
Mon - Sat: 10am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 5pm

OK Comics
19, Thornton’s Arcade
Briggate
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS1 6LQ
Tel: 0113 246 9366
Opening Hours
Mon - Sat: 9am - 6pm
Sun: 11am - 4pm

The Batcave
3-5 Lower Cockcroft
Northgate
Blackburn
Lancashire
BB2 1JD
Tel: 01254 667488
Opening Hours
Mon - Sat: 10:30am - 5:30pm

 
 One of the best things about all these shops – and there are lots of very positive things to say about each of them – is that as well as stocking the bigger publishers like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and the like, they also support smaller publishers such as ourselves here at Wizards Keep Publishing.

I have been buying from these guys now for a good number of years and can’t tell you how excited we are to get this support.

Please drop in at any of the above stores whilst you are next out shopping in the area. All of them have excellent stock for all ages, are pleasant and easy to look around, and are run by knowledgeable and friendly staff.

And whilst you browse there, please remember to ask to look at our Worlds End books and if you like them, please make a discerning purchase for yourselves and/or for members of your family that like to read an exciting and interesting, visually stunning story… oh, and don’t forget to tell them who sent you.

Thanks in advance for your continued support guys and…

Until next time, have fun!

Tim Perkins…
September 16th 2014

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6. Phantom Limb

Phantom Limb
Author: Dennis Palumbo
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0254-4
Pages: 336
Price: $24.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Lisa Harland, the wife of one of Pittsburgh’s richest tycoons, shows up at Daniel Rinaldi’s office, intending to commit suicide by 7:00 that evening. But Rinaldi doesn’t anticipate Lisa being kidnapped right from under his nose as she’s leaving his office. Her husband immediately summons the FBI and police, and Rinaldi is included as the last one to see her before she was snatched.

But the kidnappers are playing hardball with the authorities, and the violence escalates. Money is their primary aim, but Rinaldi senses they may also be looking for some kind of revenge. And until he understands what motivates them, no one is safe.

Phantom Limb is a fast-paced mystery-thriller, in the same mold as the previous Daniel Rinaldi mysteries. Rinaldi and the supporting characters are well-developed for a mystery, and the intricate plot made this a book I couldn’t put down. I highly recommend this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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7. Anti-Censorship Veteran Judy Platt Celebrates 35 Years With the AAP

plattrushdie

Judy Platt with Salman Rushdie, Sept 2004

Judy Platt is celebrating her 35th anniversary at The Association of American Publishers. The organization honored Platt with a lunch in DC today. As Director, Free Expression Advocacy, Platt heads up the AAP’s Freedom to Read Committee and the AAP’s International Freedom to Publish Committee.

In her tenure with the group, Platt has led the AAP’s advocacy work against book censorship since before Banned Books Week started 32 years ago. She has been the AAP’s liaison with Banned Books Weeks since the movement began. During that time, Platt has seen book censorship movements evolve.

“I’d say that  in my early years at AAP the majority of censorship was focused on sexually explicit materials, or ‘pornography’ and efforts were  made to keep such materials away from adults as well as minors on the questionable assumption that access to such materials resulted in anti-social behavior,” she told GalleyCat via email. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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8. Free Samples of the NBA’s Poetry Longlist

nbaThe National Book Foundation has revealed its Longlist for the 2014 National Book Award for Poetry for the National Book Award (NBA).

Below, we’ve collected free samples of all the books on the longlist for your reading pleasure. The finalists will be announced on October 15. Here’s more from the release:

The Longlisted books range in style and content: from a single elegiac narrative poem to a provocative examination of race relations told in an experimental fusion of lyric, prose poems, and image. Among the poets on this year’s Longlist are two former National Book Award Finalists, two former Poets Laureate of the United States, a Pulitzer Prize winner, two Bollingen recipients, a Los Angeles Times Book Award winner, and a Whiting Writers’ Award winner.

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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9. It's Time for Tuesday's Question!

Hello, and welcome to Tuesday's Question. 

       Olive Oil's daily attire

Tuesday’s Question is as old as this blog, which I started writing sometime in 2007, thinking it would be a great way to get to know more about the people reading my blog. But, within a short period of time, I realized my readers answers were just the icing on the
cake, because after I began visiting their
blogs, I learned more about them, and as a result stumbled upon valued friendships.  


Alright, enough wordiness, I know you're wondering what this weeks question is, so
here it is... 

          

What are you wearing today?  (And do not copy off of Olive Oil.)



Alright, I'll answer first- I'm wearing a white cotton shirt that you're supposed to wear over a bathing suit, so it has long openings under my arms and down my side. I'm wearing a blue jean jacket over it, jeans, and low top converse tennis shoes. My favorite type of clothing is cotton and linen, but most of the time I wear cotton. I love clothes that are soft and comfortable. Thank goodness I work at home because if I had to dress up everyday, it would depress me, especially if I had to wear heels, because I'd would wobble a lot, due to broken ankles.   

Now, it's your turn:

Thank you for stopping by A Nice Place In Sun, and for answering Tuesday's Question-

Have a terrific day- 


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10. Book Trailer: The Vast and Brutal Sea by Zoraida Córdova

Compiled by Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Check out the book trailer for The Vast and Brutal Sea by Zoraida Córdova (Sourcebooks Fire, 2014). From the promotional copy:

This epic clash of sand and sea will pit brother against brother–and there can only be one winner. 

In two days, the race for the Sea Court throne will be over-but all the rules have changed. 

The sea witch, Nieve, has kidnapped Layla and is raising an army of mutant sea creatures to overthrow the crown. Kurt, the one person Tristan could depend on in the battle for the Sea King’s throne, has betrayed him. Now Kurt wants the throne for himself. 

Tristan has the Scepter of the Earth, but it’s not enough. He’ll have to travel to the mysterious, lost Isle of Tears and unleash the magic that first created the king’s powerful scepter. 

It’s a brutal race to the finish, and there can only be one winner.


Cynsational Notes

Diversity Needed Under the Sea: Not All Mermaids Have Blond Hair and Blue Eyes by Cindy Rodriguez from Latin@s in Kid Lit. 

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11. KidLit Events September 16-23

We have a lot of exciting events this we, from early readers to young adult, authors and illustrators. There is also a free writing workshop, so take notes and mark your calendars. While you’ve got your calendar out, be sure to put a big circle around September 27th for Tweens Read 2014!

September 17, Wednesday, 5:00 PM  LOUISE LOVES ART by Kelly Light
Blue Willow Bookshop
Kelly Light, Author/Illustrator

Kelly will also be appearing at Barnes & Noble, The Woodlands, September 18, Thursday, at 7:00 PM

For fans of Olivia and Eloise, this stunning debut from Kelly Light is an irresistible story about the importance of creativity in all its forms.

Meet Louise. Louise loves art more than anything. It’s her imagination on the outside. She is determined to create a masterpiece–her piece de resistance!

Louise also loves Art, her little brother. This is their story.

 

September 18, Thursday, 5:00 PM THE ODD SQUAD, KING KARL by Michael Fry
Blue Willow Bookshop
Michael Fry, Cartoonist/MG Author

Michael Fry will discuss and sign KING KARL (Disney-Hyperion), his newest novel in the ODD SQUAD series for kids. Nick, Molly, and Karl have nowhere to turn but to each other in KING KARL, the latest Odd Squad adventure, and they’ll need every ounce of wit, resourcefulness, and help they can get in order to rise above their biggest challenge yet.

Visit Michael Fry’s website to read the first four chapters of KING KARL.

September 18, Thursday, 6:30 PM MADE FOR YOU by Melissa Marr
Murder By The Book
Melissa Marr, MG, YA & Adult Author

Melissa Marr will sign and discuss MADE FOR YOU (Harper Collins). Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital to discover an attempt has been made on her life. But who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? Before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive.

Visit Melissa Marr’s website to read an excerpt of MADE FOR YOU.

September 20, Saturday, 10:00 AM
Writespace
The Houston YA/MG Writers
Writing Workshop: “More Than Words: Crafting Dialogue with Impact”

Join the Houston YA/MG Writers and YA author Kathleen Bagley for this free workshop! Dialogue is the backbone of character, but it is also notoriously hard to get right. It can be too long, too short, too wordy, too sparse, and, worst of all–sometimes dialogue just doesn’t work. But how does one know if one’s dialogue is working? In this hands-on workshop/lecture, Kathleen will show you several examples of dialogue that DOES work, and we’ll focus on what is done right. I’ll also show you how to cut out lengthy, unnecessary dialogue, and, most importantly of all, how to work with the most important aspect of dialogue: what is left unsaid. (Bring a writing utensil, because you’ll definitely be writing and sharing.)

September 20, Saturday, 1:00 PM SHATTERED by Mari Mancusi
Blue Willow Bookshop
Mari Mancusi, YA Author

Mari Mancusi will discuss and sign SHATTERED ( Sourcebooks Fire), her newest novel for young adults. Trinity, Connor, and Caleb are holed up in an abandoned West Texas farmhouse. Their only problem is Emmy, a baby dragon who is growing like crazy. When Emmy is caught on tape and the video goes viral, they find themselves on the run again. Their only hope comes from an old map leading to a man who has come from the future to help them.

September 23, Tuesday, 5:00 PMHALF A WORLD AWAY by Cynthia Kadonata
Blue Willow Bookshop
Cynthia Kadohata, MG Author

 Cynthia Kadohata—author of the Newbery Medal–winning book KIRA-KIRA, the National Book Award winner THE THING ABOUT LUCK, the Jane Addams Peace Award and Pen USA Award winner WEEDFLOWER—will discuss and sign new novel for children HALF A WORLD AWAY. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers).

Eleven-year-old Jaden is adopted, and he knows he’s an “epic fail.” He’s sure that’s why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby—to replace him. And he gets it. He is incapable of stopping his stealing, hoarding, lighting fires, aggressive running, and obsession with electricity. He knows his parents love him, but he feels…nothing.

But when they get to Kazakhstan, it turns out the infant they’ve chosen has already been adopted, and literally, within minutes, they are faced with having to choose from among six other babies. While his parents agonize, Jaden is more interested in the toddlers. One, a little guy named Dimash, spies Jaden and barrels over to him every time he sees him. Jaden finds himself increasingly intrigued by and worried about Dimash. Already three years old and barely able to speak, Dimash will soon age out of the orphanage, and then his life will be as hopeless as Jaden feels now. For the first time in his life, Jaden actually feels something that isn’t pure blinding fury, and there’s no way to control it, or its power.

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12. Larger than line, signed


Larger than line, signed from the big sketchbooks of Mattias Adolfsson a 24 page over-sized booklet (6 double sided posters i.e 12 images) with removable elastic band binding and removable title and colophon sticker: all copies ordered in September are signed! (38$ with worldwide shipping) http://mattiasa.blogspot.se/p/larger-than-line.html

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13. Comics Take Center Stage For This Year’s Banned Books Week Celebration

banned-comicsThe American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression will celebrate Banned Books Week from September 21st to September 27th.

The organization plans to shine a spotlight on graphic novels and comics. Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee, had this statement in a press release: “This year we spotlight graphic novels because, despite their serious literary merit and popularity as a genre, they are often subject to censorship.”

The American Library Association recently revealed the top ten list of most frequently challenged books for this year. Jeff Smith’s comic series, Bone, occupies the #10 spot. Earlier this year, Smith designed the cover for Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s Banned Books Week Handbook. Follow this link to access a free digital copy. Check out the entire list after the jump.

(more…)

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14. Review of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

berry scandalous sisterhood of prickwillow place Review of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow PlaceThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place
by Julie Berry
Middle School    Roaring Brook    354 pp.
9/14    978-1-59634-956-6    $15.99    g

This airy confection could not be more different from Berry’s most recent (and pitch-black) novel All the Truth That’s in Me (rev. 11/13). Part murder mystery, part girls’-school story, part dark drawing-room comedy (think Edwin Drood, Arsenic and Old Lace, or the 1980s movie Clue), the novel opens in 1890 England at Saint Etheldreda’s School for Young Ladies. The seven students — our heroines — are known throughout the book as Dear Roberta, Disgraceful Mary Jane, Dull Martha, Stout Alice, Smooth Kitty, Pocked Louise, and Dour Elinor. Their headmistress is Mrs. Plackett, but she’s dispatched in the second paragraph (by poison), followed soon afterward by her ne’er-do-well brother, Aldous. The young ladies spend the rest of the book trying to figure out whodunit while also concealing the deaths (burying the bodies in the vegetable garden; having Stout Alice impersonate Mrs. Plackett; bilking their parents for tuition) in order to remain together at the school. Berry takes her madcap seriously, never breaking character when it comes to the old-timey setting or details (a Strawberry Social is the unlikely occasion of a late-in-the-story death). The young ladies, too, are products of their time: each one’s burgeoning independence and coming-into-her-own — largely gained through the murder investigation and/or cover-up, some also through snagging a beau — is satisfying without being too anachronistic. An immensely entertaining, smart, and frothy diversion.

From the September/October 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

share save 171 16 Review of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

The post Review of The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place appeared first on The Horn Book.

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15. The Owl and the Pussycat. Inking #sketch for an up coming...

0 Comments on The Owl and the Pussycat. Inking #sketch for an up coming... as of 9/16/2014 2:58:00 PM
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16. WordPressers Making a Splash

We might think of the end of summer as a slow news season. Not so for the authors and bloggers we feature today, who’ve been hard at work on some exciting projects recently.

Rebecca Hains

princess problemWriter, professor, and media scholar Rebecca Hains often shares thoughtful posts on her blog, especially on topics revolving around gender and discrimination. Earlier this month, she celebrated the release of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls through the Princess-Obsessed Years (Sourcebooks), her most recent book. A critique of popular culture and the messages it sends to young girls, the book has already earned rave reviews, including from Brenda Chapman, writer and director of Disney’s Brave.

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

broken light

Danielle Hark founded Broken Light Collective, a community for photographers coping with mental health issues, more than two years ago. We’ve been following that project for a while (and mentioned it in a mental health-focused roundup earlier this year), so it was nice to see Danielle, and Broken Light Collective as a whole, receive the attention they deserve in a New York Times profile. It was published to coincide with the Collective‘s first group gallery show, which closed in New York in August.

Hungry Sofia

cuban table

Ana Sofía Peláez‘s site has showcased the colorful, mouthwatering delights of Caribbean cuisine for more than five years, mixing in great storytelling with beautiful food photography. Next month,  Ana Sofía will see her book, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History (St. Martin’s Press), hit bookstores (and kitchens) everywhere. A labor of love on which she collaborated with photographer Ellen Silverman, the book chronicles Cuban food cultures from Havana to Miami to New York.

Notches

Anyone interested in engaging, wide-ranging discussions on the history of sexuality will enjoy Notches, a blog that has tackled topics like Medieval love magic and the origins of “Born This Way” politics.

Jack the Ripper

Earlier this week, Notches editor Julia Laite, a lecturer at the University of London, wrote a thought-provoking article in The Guardian on another fascinating topic: our decades-long obsession with Jack the Ripper.

Ever Upward

ever upward

Justine Brooks Froelker, the blogger behind Ever Upward, has been chronicling her journey through infertility, loss, and acceptance in posts that are at once unflinching and moving. Now, Justine is preparing for the release of her book, also named Ever Upward, in early October (it’ll also be available on Amazon starting February). You can get a taste of Justine’s writing in this excerpt from the book’s opening chapter.

Are you publishing a book soon? Has your blog made the news? Leave us a comment — we’d love to know.


Filed under: Community, Press, Writing

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17. Publishers Events During Banned Books Week

fafabuttonNext week is Banned Books Week and to help you celebrate, the Associate of American Publishers has put together a list of ways to participate in the celebration of censored book titles. AAP members Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Scholastic and Simon & Schuster have each created a way to help readers engage in the event, whose goal it is to promote the freedom to read.

Hachette is calling readers to share how a banned book has impacted their lives on the HBG Facebook page. HarperCollins is supporting online discussion forums on Epic Reads which will encourage discussions around banned books. Macmillan has created a website dedicated to The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander and Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, two previously banned books. Penguin Young Readers Group is encouraging readers to share selfies of themselves holding up a sign that reads, “I celebrate #BannedBooksWeek because …” and will give away prizes to participants. The publisher will also join in several #BannedBooksWeekTwitter chats during the week. (more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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18. How to Write and Sell New Adult – Sept. 18 Webinar With Literary Agent Gordon Warnock

gordon-warnock-headshotNew Adult (books with protagonists ages 18-25) has swiftly become the hottest thing in both self-publishing and traditional publishing. New authors are making astonishing strides in this category and making great deals with the big traditional houses. Recent success stories include Molly McAdams, whose book Taking Chances has sold more than 200,000 copies so far.

The rise of New Adult has introduced questions, such as: Is it a genre? Does it need to have sex scenes? How do you define it? Should you self-publish it? How do you know if an agent wants NA? How is it different from YA? Despite all the questions, New Adult manuscripts have been selling remarkably well, no matter how it is published. The readers want it, it is here to stay, and we are among many agencies actively looking for it.

In this live 90-minute webinar — titled “How to Write and Sell New Adult” —  Literary agent Gordon Warnock will help you understand New Adult fully from all aspects of the business, whether you need to know the rules of the category, how to pitch it to agents, or how authors are hitting the bestselling lists with modern marketing techniques. Plus, as a bonus, Warnock will critique 1,000 words of your manuscript! It all happens at 1 p.m., EST, Thursday, September 18, 2014, and lasts 90 minutes.

Click Here to Register

T7218WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • What makes a story New Adult
  • How NA is different from YA
  • What’s hot and what’s next
  • Characters, settings, and themes that work well for NA
  • How to tell if an agent wants New Adult
  • How to brand yourself for long-term success
  • What you need to do online to sell more books

 

Click Here to Register

INSTRUCTOR

Gordon Warnock is a founding partner at Foreword Literary, serving as a literary agent and editorial director of the Fast Foreword digital publishing program. He brings years of experience as a senior agent, marketing director, editor for independent publishers, consultant, and author coach. He frequently teaches workshops and gives keynote speeches at conferences and MFA programs nationwide. His NA books include A Real Emotional Girl by Tanya Chernov and Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories by MariNaomi. You can find him on Twitter @gordonwarnock.

Click Here to Register

HOW THE CRITIQUE WORKS

All registrants are invited to submit the first 1,000 words of their manuscript for critique. All submissions will receive a written critique by Gordon Warnock. Gordon reserves the right to request more writing from attendees by e-mail following the event, if he deems the writing excellent.

Please Note: Even if you can’t attend the live webinar, registering for this live version will enable you to receive the On Demand webinar and a personal critique of your material. Purchasing the On Demand version after the live event will not include a critique.

Click Here to Register

 

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19. "Ten Times Better than Anything"

Last weekend I was up in Silverthorne for my annual writing group retreat. Our group has been meeting together for 22 years. I joined when I moved to Colorado in 1992, when Gregory was just turning 1; next month he will be 23.

We go away on a retreat together every summer. This year we chose a weekend in early fall, as for the first time ever I had the luxury of not having to teach during the autumn semester. So this year, for the first time ever, we were there as the aspen were beginning to turn.

The house we rented had some flaws. It wasn't the one we had signed up to get; there was some confusion over a last-minute switcheroo. The couches weren't comfy, and there were no coffee tables on which we writers could rest our piles of manuscripts, books to share, and abundant snacks and glasses of wine. But resourceful as we are, we re-purposed a couple of our coolers as coffee tables, topping them with extra pillowcases from the linen closet for a lovely effect. And the lack of coffee tables was more than made up for by an extra-relaxing hot hub, stunning views of Lake Dillon, and proximity to dozens of hiking trails. Leslie, pictured here with me, declared our first glimpse of the trails to be "ten times better than anything," and that became our unofficial slogan for the retreat. (Official slogan, chosen ahead of time during our retreat planning: "Break Through to Bliss.")

The heart of the retreat is having unstructured time to write and then sharing what we've written. I try to bring something extra significant each year: the first chapter of a new book or the concluding chapter of a book long in the making. This year, despite my supposedly having all this new free time to write, I had been scrambling before I left to finish up revisions on the second book in the Nora Notebooks series and to deal with the proofs and index for my edited collection, Ethics and Children's Literature. But during the retreat I did get something written on Friday to share on Saturday: chapter 2 of the third and final book in the Nora series. It was sweet to remember that I had shared chapter one of book one at the retreat last year.

We also eat, heaps and heaps and heaps of lovingly prepared food. This is becoming more of a challenge as nowadays everyone has so many special diets. There is always someone who doesn't eat gluten, or soy, or shellfish, or nightshade vegetables, or all of the above. It's hard to break bread together when everyone (except me, it seems!) is swearing off carbs. But once we sit down at the table together, none of this matters. We laugh, we cry, we talk and talk and talk and talk. We remember the years we've shared, toast recent joys, commiserate with ongoing concerns, dream of the future.

Being in a writing group like this one is ten times better than anything.


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20. Read to Me – Creating Literacy Mentors

Today’s guest blogger, Barbara Greenway, is the Founder and Director of The Read to Me Project.
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Students in the Read to Me Project & founder Barbara Greenway.

When I ask the kids in my program how many of them struggle in school, half of their hands raise in the air.

It can be frustrating to spend your day in an environment where you feel you can’t succeed. So it comes as no surprise that kids who struggle in school become disengaged, stop trying and drop out.

We created the Read to Me Project to motivate kids to keep trying – and to break the cycle of low literacy in our community.

With help from First Book, our 4th, 5th and 6th graders check out all kinds of great books to read to their younger siblings at home. Their reading skills improve and their siblings get a head start.

Most of the kids in the Read to Me Project don’t own books. Their families struggle to get by. English is often their second language, and reading is not a common activity at home.

frontpagekids

A Read to Me Project “literacy mentor” and her younger sibling.

With new books to read all the time, our kids blossom. They take ownership of their learning and that of their siblings. They become literacy role models in their families.

I want all kids to love school, to be enthusiastic learners, to have big dreams and the skills they need to make those dreams come true. With books, all things are possible.

Please consider making a gift to First Book today to put more books into the hands of young readers.

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21. Jason Segel, we love you, man

segel nightmares Jason Segel, we love you, manOn Friday Cindy and I went to see actor Jason Segel discuss his new middle-grade novel (cowritten with Kirsten Miller) Nightmares! The sold-out event was sponsored by the Harvard Book Store and the nonprofit writing organization 826 Boston (program coordinator Karen Sama led the conversation with Segel). Cindy loves How I Met Your Mother (even the ending!), I love Freaks & Geeks, and we both love The Muppets. Segel is also the guy you may have seen naked in the very funny Saving Sarah Marshall (which he also wrote), and he was one of the bromantic leads in I Love You, Man.

segel kids Jason Segel, we love you, man

Photo: Cynthia K. Ritter

Nightmares! is his first children’s book, and he kicked off the event by asking everyone in the audience under age fourteen to raise their hands (there were a few). Later on he asked for kid volunteers to come up and read aloud from the book, instead of reading himself, which could have backfired but was awesome. “I’m like the Pied Piper,” Segel quipped as a girl named Tessa, two boys named Sam, and a cutie little one named Lucas came up onstage to read. Afterward he told them, appreciatively, “You’re so much braver than I would have been at that age.”

segel Jason Segel, we love you, man

Photo: Cynthia K. Ritter

The audience participation didn’t stop there. He asked people to share their nightmares; his as a kid involved a witch nibbling his toes (“because I have delectable toes”) and being chased around Dracula’s castle (“it was more Rococo than I would have thought”) which happened so frequently that he discovered a secret room where he could hang out and play video games. (Side note, and there were a lot of those: as a kid, Segel wore a Superman cape under his clothes “just in case” and carried the MYST game book around with him. Also? He’s been 6’4” since age 12 and the other kids used to jump on his back and chant “Ride the oaf!”)

And then there was the singing. During the Q&A a woman nervously asked: “What’s your favorite show tune?” “It’s gotta be the confrontation from Les Miz. Do you know it?” “Um, yes (giggle giggle).” “Ok, do you want to do it? Which part are you going to sing?” She chose Javert, and Jason sang his heart out as Jean Valjean (here’s how he did it with Neil Patrick Harris). The evening ended on an amazing note for fans with Segel at the piano doing the Dracula song (“‘Die… die… die…’ ‘I cahhn’t'”).

segel critter Jason Segel, we love you, man

Cindy in the signing line

If this guy isn’t the nicest, most genuine-seeming Everydude in Hollywood, well, he must be a truly great actor (slash-master-manipulator), because he seemed really thrilled (“This is so much fun! Seeing those kids read up there, that’s the coolest thing ever”) and humbled to be there — even after a two-hour-plus signing line that Cindy waited on. Any “grown man” (he was in his late twenties at the time) who “burst into tears” upon seeing Kermit the Frog “in person” and who also cried while sitting in “kind of a rough pub in London” after finishing Winnie-the-Pooh is a-ok in my book. I’ll even forgive his publicist for ignoring my Five Questions request *cough cough.* Jason Segel, we love you, man.

Quotable dude

Nightmares! was originally a screenplay I wrote at age 21, after Freaks & Geeks ended and I was unemployed and thinking, “I’m going to have to live with my parents forever.”

When I was a kid, movies like Labyrinth and The Goonies and Roald Dahl’s books made me believe I might find buried treasure. There’s still magic out there. You can catch a kid at the right age to say: don’t forget there’s magic…Kids’ imaginations are so much better than what you can put onscreen.

My mentor Judd Apatow said to me, “You’re kind of a weird dude.” Also [after Segel played him the Dracula song] he said: “Don’t ever play that for anyone else ever again.”

I’m willing to sit through the fear of doing something badly to get to passable. I tell myself: “I’m bad at this… right now”…The only thing I’m afraid of is being unprepared.

Coraline really scared me, and I’m a grown man!

Audience question: Who was your favorite actor growing up? Answer: Kermit. When you’re a kid, Kermit is Tom Hanks, Jimmy Stewart.

I wrote The Muppets when I was in London. With all those double-decker buses and furry hats, it’s a very Muppet-y place…The Muppets are Monty Python to a kid.

I did a Muppets screening at the White House and got to meet Barack Obama. He shook my hand and said, “I love you, man,” and I said, “I love you too, Mr. President!” It gets worse. Then I said, “You should come to the screening. There will be free snacks,” and he said, “Yeah, that’s what I’m missing. Not being able to get free snacks.”

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22. Patty’s Romance

The books in the series are very much running together for me by the time I get to Patty’s Romance, and this one is no exception. Although I guess that’s a funny thing to day about a book that has, as its central incident, Patty’s kidnapping.

I mean, it’s not the most dramatic kidnapping. There’s kind of a cool bit where the various members of the Kenerley household, where Patty’s staying, slowly come to the realization that she must have been taken. But after that, there’s not much suspense, just a lot of men talking about how they don’t believe in paying ransom normally, but it’s different when it’s Patty. She never seems to be in much danger, unless it’s of dying of boredom, and we see very little of the kidnappers.

Patty cleverly brings about her own rescue, but it’s then carried out by Phil Van Reypen, which, as you can imagine, doesn’t make me very happy. It’s the high point of Phil behavior in this book, the low point coming when he tells her she’s not smart enough to play golf. That happens post-rescue, when Phil and his aunt take Patty on a trip to…oh, I don’t know, every mountain resort in the northeast. That’s what it feels like, anyway.

Phil gets another shot at rescuing Patty at one of these, thanks to a character who seems to exist solely for the purpose of stealing their boat and leaving them stranded on a small island. But Bill Farnsworth shows up and saves his life/steals his thunder. Which I guess is representative of his now obvious status as Wells’ favorite. Especially if you think about Mr. Hepworth rescuing Patty when her boat comes unmoored in Patty’s Summer Days.

Anyway, at this point if you’re paying attention you know that Patty’s going to fall in love with Bill eventually, and maybe that’s why Wells keeps heaping praise on Phil — because she feels sorry for him, or because she’s trying to cover her tracks. Or because it seems too much like Patty’s in love with  Bill already. There’s a fine line between “Bill’s always been kind of special to her” and “why does Patty keep saying she’s not in love with anyone?”

So, this book isn’t one of my favorites, but it’ll do, mostly thanks to Bill. And I’m enjoying him as much as I can, because, if I recall correctly, I’m going to like him a lot less two or three books from now.


Tagged: 1910s, carolyn wells, girls, series

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23. book review: Shieldwolf Dawning

title: Shieldwolf Dawning516+sRTYYpL._AA160_

author: Selena Nemorin

date: Astraea Press; 2014

main character: Samarra

Shieldwolf Dawning is the first in a new speculative fiction series by Selena Nemorin. Samarra and her brother, Cassian, have been moved to Gaia, a planet with a deteriorating natural environment and are being raised by the Sairfangs after the death of the children’s parents. Their step-parent’s wealth protects them from the pollution and scarcities and provides Cassian with the best education money can buy. Samarra is stuck at home cleaning and doing chores. As sexist as this situation seems, it has more to do with Cassian’s future position in life rather than the fact that he’s a male. Samarra despises her situation. She’s impetuous and curious. Given the opportunity to leave her situation, she talks her brother into escaping with her. And so begins their adventure.

The book rattled my attention the mention of ‘all-terrain aircraft’!  Written in third person, the author still confines herself to the limited perception of the main character. That annoys me! Use that voice to fully develop a story with multiple character’s perspectives and with rich settings or stick to first person. Cassian is poorly developed which is tragic given how important he becomes at the end of the book. Time sequences were unequal in length and there were too many detailed situations that were never developed.

Shieldwolf Dawning is unique in two ways. First, it gives us an adventurous female of color  with blue dreads who often saves herself in situations. Second, it’s steeped in philosophy. Where knowledge of the field could provide a stronger appreciation for the book, I had none. I suspect that most teens without this knowledge will be as frustrated as I was with Samarra and never really invest in the story. She repeatedly wanders into situations that end up with negative consequences. Maybetwo-thirds of the way into the book when I was really tired of her doing this over and over again and I began to think that these wanderings might have something to do with stages of intellectual or moral development and that these curiosities were purposeful in her growth. This seemed to make sense to me when Samarra reasoned about moral judgment, truth and honestly.

Sheildwolf Dawning is an ambitious book that doesn’t quite reach it’s potential.


Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: fantasy

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24. Solving the World’s Problems: Year One

My debut full-length poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems, was released by Press 53 last September. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what has happened since then and share any lessons I’ve learned during my first year as the author of poetry collection. (Click here to check out my 8-part series on getting it published last year.)

Numbers
One thing I learned right away is that the most common question someone asks you when you’ve published a book: “How many books have you sold?” Or, “How are your books selling?” And I quickly learned to answer in this way, “It’s doing pretty well…for poetry.”

I have sold quite a few books personally. I’ve received my first royalty check from my publisher. Neither are going to pay my mortgage, but there’s a great joy in being compensated for something I would be doing anyway for free: that is, writing poems.

*****

2015 Poet's Market

2015 Poet’s Market

Publish Your Poetry!

Learn how to get your poetry published with the latest (and greatest) edition of Poet’s Market. The 2015 Poet’s Market is filled with articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry, in addition to poet interviews and original poetry by contemporary poets.

In fact, it has an entire section covering various poetic forms.

Plus, the book is filled with hundreds of listings for poetry book publishers, chapbook publishers, magazines, journals, contests, grants, conferences, and more!

Click to continue.

*****

However, I work in the publishing business, so I know relative book sales, and I can tell you that sales are usually not spectacular for debut authors in any genre–but they’re especially lean for poets. So it’s the first question often asked, but I prefer to get past talking numbers.

Promotion

Solving the World's Problems

Solving the World’s Problems

Numbers aside, I learned quite a few lessons about selling poetry books. The first thing is handling how to get the word out about the book. In some ways, I have a very good platform for a poet.

I have a lot of followers on social media sites, edit the Poet’s Market book, write a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, and well, there’s this Poetic Asides blog too. All of that helped, but not as much as one (namely me) might expect.

Here’s how I achieved the most sales:

  • E-mail list. I’ve long maintained a personal e-mail list of writing contacts, and this list has helped me sell out two limited edition self-published chapbooks in the past and get a good jump start on pre-order sales for this book. If you’re one of those folks, thank you!
  • Remix challenge. I made quite a few sales directly as a result of a little challenge I created for readers and writers: the Remixing the World’s Problems challenge. I challenged writers/readers to remix the words in my collection, and I’ll be announcing a winner for the best remix on October 15–with that winner receiving $500 from me.
  • Live events. Beyond e-mail and challenges, live events really helped me sell books. While I was featured at some larger events like the Kentucky Book Fair and Austin International Poetry Festival (making sales at both), the most profitable events were usually the more intimate ones in which I was one of two or three featured readers.

Lesson learned: A little creativity in promotion can work wonders, but also a more intimate approach. Look for local and regional reading series and see if you can be a featured reader. As a published author, you have an added level of authority.

Missed Opportunities
There are a few (obvious) opportunities that I missed as a debut author that I don’t plan to let slip by again with the next book. They are:

  • Book launch party. I really didn’t know how to handle this a year ago. And really, I didn’t put aside the time and resources to make it happen. Big time missed opportunity to bring friends and family together to help get it off to a good start.
  • Author contests. I did enter the Pulitzer contest knowing full well that I had next to no shot of winning, but I did not take advantage of entering several other book contests, including the Georgia Writers Association (as a Georgia resident), Ohioana Book Prizes (where I was born and raised), or others. Not saying I would’ve won those, but I’ll never know now–and I surely had a better chance than with the Pulitzer, right? Don’t discount the power of winning a reputable contest.
  • More live events. I have been to plenty of live events over the past year to promote the book, but I think I could’ve done more. And as I mentioned above, these are great places to sell books and connect with new readers.

Here’s the thing: No matter how prepared you think you are there will be missed opportunities. Don’t beat yourself up about them. Rather, pay attention and try to do a better job next time. I’m sure I’ll have a whole new list of missed opportunities with the second book. As with writing, selling books is a process.

My son Ben solving the world's problems.

My son Ben holding my book.

What Am I Up To Now?
Most importantly, I’m writing. The work of a creative person is to create. It’s not to write a poem and call it a day. Or write a book and call it a day. Or two books. Or three. Creative people create, and that’s what I’m doing for the sake of creating.

These creative acts are important for other reasons too. For starters, I’ve had a few new poems published online here and there over the past year, and nearly every new publication has coincided with a few new book purchases on Amazon. I’m not able to track it directly, but I’m pretty sure each new publication leads to more books selling.

Plus, I know from other genres that authors tend to build book sales over time by writing more books. Someone reads and enjoys your new book and then hunts down your older title(s). This isn’t selling out; it’s building a readership.

The entire enterprise of being a creative person, regardless of medium, is a process. After more than two decades of writing poetry and one year as an author, I’m enjoying the process more than ever and focusing on the art and the craft…and hoping it doesn’t take another 20 years to get my next collection together.

*****

roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of the poetry collection, Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He edits Poet’s Market, Writer’s Market, and Guide to Self-Publishing, in addition to writing a free weekly WritersMarket.com newsletter and poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine.

He honestly believes writing has done more than he’s done for writing. Before and beyond getting published, poetry has helped him deal with the real problems in his life. Material things come and go, but sanity is priceless–and poetry has helped him in that regard time and time again.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

*****

Find more poetic thingamabobs here:

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25. Page Critique: Let actions speak for themselves


Page critique Tuesday!

If you would like to nominate your page for a future Page Critique Event, please enter it in this thread in the Forums. Also, I'm offering personal consultations and edits if you're interested in that.

First I'll present the page without comment, then I'll offer my thoughts and a redline. If you choose to offer up your own thoughts, please be exceedingly polite and remember the sandwich rule: Positive, constructive advice, positive.

Random numbers were generated, and thanks to XXX, whose page is below:
Gone, Kitty, Gone: A Brock Rockster Mystery 
Middle-grade mystery/comedy
I smashed my steel-toed loafer through the front door and tumbled in, where I landed face-first on the floor of the large, dark foyer.
“Worst! Day! Ever!” I yelled. I knew everyone in the house was sleeping, but I didn’t care. I was upset, and with good reason.
“Carver!” I picked myself off the ground. “Carver! We need to talk!”
My perfect record had been shattered. When I woke up this morning I had been Brock Rockster, The Boy Who Always Got His Man, the twelve-year-old mustache prodigy and world’s greatest private investigator to the stars. I was untouchable, unstoppable, and undefeated – but not anymore. After today’s calamity, I didn’t know what I was.
I saw a room dimly lit off to the right and stomped toward it, each step echoing through the otherwise silent house. A reading lamp glowed in the room’s far corner over the head of Carver McCarver, who sat at her desk surrounded by stacks of papers and folders.
“Hello, pard,” she said. She finished reading the sheet in front of her before looking up. “Find Mr. Janston’s statue?”
“Janston got his weird little sculpture back just fine, Carver, but it wasn’t me that found it,” I said.
I took my fedora hat off, and Carver tipped her Stetson back in response. Carver was well over ninety years old, but had the energy of someone a third her age, and the wisdom of someone who’d seen the pyramids built.
This is an extremely solid, nay, excellent, nay, nearly flawless first page. The voice is strong, there's some solid wit and humor, the concept is fun, and I enjoyed the descriptions. Very very well done and I want to read more.

I'm going to pick two nits here. The first is a very common mistake, which is over-telling emotion. After Brock stumbles in and yells, "Worst! Day! Ever!” and notes that he doesn't care if he wakes everyone up, it's a bit redundant to then say, "I was upset, and with good reason." It's already apparent.

People often say show-don't-tell, and this is one of those classic cases. Show emotion, don't say what the emotion is. People will get it.

Secondly, people don't generally say each other's names in the middle of a sentence, and it can sometimes break up the flow to include it. I'd remove "Carver" from the second to last paragraph.

But seriously, those are two arguable small changes that are arguable. This is in very good shape. My redline:

Gone, Kitty, Gone: A Brock Rockster Mystery 
Middle-grade mystery/comedy
I smashed my steel-toed loafer through the front door and tumbled in, where I landed face-first on the floor of the large, dark foyer.
“Worst! Day! Ever!” I yelled. I knew everyone in the house was sleeping, but I didn’t care. I had a good reason to be upset.
“Carver!” I picked myself off the ground. “Carver! We need to talk!”
My perfect record had been shattered. When I woke up this morning I had been Brock Rockster, The Boy Who Always Got His Man, the twelve-year-old mustache prodigy and world’s greatest private investigator to the stars. I was untouchable, unstoppable, and undefeated – but not anymore. After today’s calamity, I didn’t know what I was.
I saw a room dimly lit off to the right and stomped toward it, each step echoing through the otherwise silent house. A reading lamp glowed in the room’s far corner over the head of Carver McCarver, who sat at her desk surrounded by stacks of papers and folders.
“Hello, pard,” she said. She finished reading the sheet in front of her before looking up. “Find Mr. Janston’s statue?”
“Janston got his weird little sculpture back just fine, Carver, but it wasn’t me that found it,” I said.
I took my fedora hat off, and Carver tipped her Stetson back in response. Carver was well over ninety years old, but had the energy of someone a third her age, and the wisdom of someone who’d seen the pyramids built.
Nice work!

Art: Sherlock Holmes by Frederic Dorr Steele

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