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The author of the book featured in Face-Lift 1250 would like your thoughts on the version below:
Oliver Bradshaw is an eleven-year-old boy living in a small town in Rhode Island, hoping that this new place will be his permanent home, where he can finally feel safe and a sense of belonging. But when he accidentally opens a portal to the monsters’ world in his new apartment, Oliver must gather up who he can to help him, [To help him . . . close the portal? Or what?] even if it’s only his new quick-to-scare best friend, the meanest bully in his new school who hates him with a passion, and a friendly monster that looks like a wad of chewing gum. Oliver must enter the monsters’ world to stop the mysterious leader of an evil faction of monsters [How does he know that he must do this?] in order to not only save his own home but the fate of the town and possibly the entire human race.
Oliver and the Underlings is a 50,000-word work of middle grade fantasy. I am the author of a number of short stories in markets such as Spider, Stories for Children, knowonder! magazine, and Kids'Magination, and this is my first novel.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I don't think this is an improvement. The sentences are too long and they aren't telling the story. S1 tells us who the main character is. S2 sets up the situation and lists three other characters. S3 is pretty vague. What does the mysterious leader want? How is the entire human race threatened? How can this team of misfits save us all? It seems to me the father and grandfather would be more important in the query than Oliver's three allies, but I haven't read the book.
I reiterate my suggestion that you go with something like this:
When monsters cross into our world and kidnap all of Oliver Bradshaw's classmates, he decides to recruit a hostage rescue team. Unfortunately, he can find only three allies: his quick-to-scare best friend, a devil-may-care bully, and a friendly monster that looks like a wad of chewing gum.
Getting to the monsters' home world is the easy part: there's a portal in Oliver's closet. But now that they're here, how are they supposed to tell the friendly monsters from the evil ones? And . . . wait, what's Oliver's grandfather doing here? Turns out he's searching for Oliver's father, who went missing years ago.
Gramps has his own team of monsters and is mounting an attack on the leader of a faction of evil monsters who kidnapped Oliver's dad. Could they also have Oliver's classmates? Only one way to find out, and if our heroes fail, the monster war will spill into our world. And nowhere will ever be safe again.
That probably isn't your story, as you don't even mention Oliver's father and grandfather in this version, but at least this might be a template for a good query. This version at least uses the pronoun "they" to show Oliver isn't completely alone, while your version lists the allies and then drops them.
Does each ally have a special talent vital to the mission? Oliver's original mission is to rescue his classmates. But you drop that in favor of stopping the mysterious leader of an evil faction of monsters, to save the human race. The original mission seems noble enough, and far more doable for characters who have no special powers.
I Will Always Write Back: how one letter changed two lives
by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda with Liz Welch
Little Brown. 2015
I borrowed this book from my local public library.
When her English teacher announced a pen pal program, seventh grader Caitlin thought the crazy-sounding place of Zimbabwe sounded intriguing. I’d never heard of Zimbabwe.
EVERYONE WELCOME. If it's pretty or they can eat it, bring it.
ADMISSION for public: free.
Facebook Events Link HERE. Use to organize events and exchange information.
DEALER TABLES: $25 (27.00 through Paypal). Contact at: donnabarr01 at gmail dot com. PANELS AND EVENTS
Dealer and panelist contracts: THIS PAGE. Payment cancellation deadline is May 1, 2016. You are expected to know your professional and licensing obligations for food sales or use of fire. Parents, please note your obligations. Panels held at front of the hall in round-table format. Participants will clean and straighten hall after show closes Sunday; keep the Lion's club happy. Special Guest Leanne Franson
EXHIBITORS at the convention for 2016:
1: Donna Barr's A Fine Line Press AND Clallam Bay Comicon Central.
It’s One Stop For Writers launch week, and we are celebrating up a storm! Have you entered for one of seven1-Year Subscriptionsto One Stop For Writers, or the Pay-it-forward Education Gift for a workshop seat in writing coach Jami Gold’s terrific online class? If not,follow this linkfor all the details, and good luck!
As some of you know, the heart of One Stop For Writers is our signature Descriptive Thesaurus Collection. Visitors to this blog (and The Bookshelf Muse before it) have watched Becca and I create highly-sensory, real-life description lists for many different areas (Character Emotions, Settings, Symbolism and Weather, just to name a few.) Delving deep to understand these aspects of description allows us to write rich, compelling stories. So, when writers asked us to, we started turning a few into books.
Now we’re writers, and we love books! But the list format we use isn’t always an easy read in digital format, and often requires a lot of scrolling to see an entire entry. We knew there had to be a better way.
Lucky for us Lee Powell, the creator of Scrivener for Windows, is a genius. He could see how the right medium would turn our thesaurus collections into a top notch resource for writers that would be super easy to use.
(click to enlarge)
At One Stop, each thesaurus is neatly organized and entries are easy to view. A Helpful Tip guides writers into thinking about how an area of description can be woven into the story to do more, and show more. There’s a tutorial for each thesaurus as well, helping writers understand the power of specific detail and how it can be used in the story for maximum effect.
(click to enlarge–a partial screenshot)
Setting is a big area of description. So much more than a backdrop for a scene, it is loaded with opportunities to convey mood, foreshadow, and act as a tuning fork for symbolism and theme. And that’s just to start! Using sensory details when describing your character in a specific location is important for pulling readers into the story.
You might be wondering how authentic the description is for each of our Setting entries. Well, whenever possible, Becca and I would visit the location ourselves so we could observe the sights, smells, sounds, textures and tastes first hand. The entire Setting Collection (once it is finished) will be around 250 entries. That’s a lot of research.
It wasn’t easy to visit some locations, but we were determined. As you can see in this photo…well, sometimes we had to go to great lengths to get exact detail.
(In case you were wondering, it is rather terrifying being arrested, even when it involves being set up by relatives with connections so you can get the “full experience” of being handcuffed and put into the back of police car!)
So, let’s just say the details in this particular entry are very accurate. If you like, swing by One Stop and check it out for yourself!
Before you head off with the rest of your day, there’s one more cool thing happening:
March To A Bestseller’s One-Day sale.This is where you can get a kindle copy of many great writing craft books (INCLUDING The Emotion Thesaurus) for .99 cents each. Yep, a buck! There are many great authors participating such as K.M. Weiland, Mary Buckham, Bryan Cohen, Jessica Bell and more, so if you’re looking to beef up on your writing skills, now’s the time.
As a child, I remember the Olympics mainly as an opportunity to root against the Eastern Bloc countries. That may seem petty, but my family has/had relatives in the former Czechoslovakia, and that's what we did. In our family, a loss by an Eastern Bloc country was a win for democracy - as if beating East Germany in pole vaulting could somehow make things better. In reality, for the people of the Eastern Bloc, losing likely made their miserable lives worse - if they even knew about it at all.
There are many historical fiction books about wartime Germany. A Night Divided deposits the reader in post-WWII Germany — in Berlin, on the wrong side of the wall.
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic, 2015)
In A Night Divided, 12-year-old Gerta, narrates the dangerously oppressive lifestyle into which she was unwilling thrust,
It was Sunday, August 13, 1961, a day I would remember for the rest of my life. When a prison had been built around us as we slept.
Erected without warning, the fence (and later, the wall) that separated East Germany from West Germany sprang up overnight - a night when Gerta's father and brother had been visiting the West. Gerta is trapped in the East with her resigned mother, and her rebellious older brother, Fritz. Rebellion in East Germany is costly, and the price can be your life.
"We will never be able to leave," Mama said. "The sooner you both accept that, the happier you will be." I nodded back at her. But I new I could never again be happy here. And I refused to accept my life inside a prison."
This is a deeply affecting novel that does not gloss over the reality of living under the constant watchful eyes of the police, the Grentztruppen or border police, and the brutal secret police, the Stasi. In 1960s, East Germany, even a casual comment to a neighbor can be life-threatening.
Each chapter is introduced with a quote or German proverb that sets up the rationale for Gerta's continued, secretive resistance. "The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. — Albert Camus, French novelist"
Gerta Lowe is a character that the reader will cheer and remember. A Night Divided is a chilling and riveting book, balanced by the hope of one family's love and courage.
and that's the end of part 1. tonight, while you're waiting to fall asleep, you
may find Little Red lifting the latch of your dreams. all the better to
HM 2015 (c)
The Diamond Miners are in the midst of comparing points of view in different versions of well-known folktales--you can guess which one this week. We read slowly, we stop and start, stop and restart, check for comprehension ("BING!"), break the story into Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. I'm finding that at the accomplished age of seven children are susceptible to relying on what they already know and are prone to "unhearing" new information. That's why Lon Po Po has been so gripping--familiar but different, and what's a gingko nut?
From an Education Week article on how we pose our questions to support deep interpretation: "teachers often read through a chapter or text selection completely before starting a discussion....As part of the training course, they are learning to plan stopping points where the text is ambiguous and launch questions that get students thinking about what is going on. "We want to teach kids to not just start at the beginning and read all the way through," Matsumura said. "A good reader is thinking about what they are reading as they are going through."" Well, duh.
But my goal is "never a duh moment." I can't assume that even the high flyers in my class are coordinating all the moving parts that deep comprehension depends upon. We teachers and writers do it easily, but precisely BECAUSE we are skilled and effective literacy practitioners, it can be hard for us to slow down enough to elucidate this "behind the scenes" thinking we are doing as we read.
So, again, there is no way I can get through 6-8 titles in a week, and the ones we do spend precious time with better be really good. So thanks, Trina Schart Hyman, for Little Red Riding Hood, and thanks, Ed Young for Lon Po Po, and thanks Wilhelmina Harper for The Gunniwolf....you make us want to work hard to be deeper readers.
The history of soda is full of Norman Rockwell paintings, nostalgic Americana, athletes and other celebrities—so many familiar faces that soda companies seem like the industry next door. But these are the same companies that use municipal water supplies in drought-stricken areas and spend large amounts of money on lobbying. So how much do you actually know about the soda industry? Take the quiz and find out.
Literary agents! Illustration agents! We need your help! Sales of illustrated chapter books are booming - David Walliams' and Tony Ross's illustrated novel is at the top of the overall UK sales chart today - but many illustrators are getting cut out of almost all career-advancing publicity.
One of the main reasons is that illustrators (particularly of illustrated fiction, or so-called 'chapter books' or 'middle grade books') aren't getting their names on the front covers of their books. While they're often credited on the back cover or inside the book, it's the front cover that does the publicity rounds, and what readers and reviewers use to judge who created it. If the illustrator's name isn't on the front cover, they're far less likely to get proper recognition in metadata, so their books won't be searchable online. They may get left out of award lists. Their names may not be included at all in Advance Information sheets sent to reviewers (as noted by Fiona Noble at The Bookseller*).
Here's where we need your help! What need you to unite in your efforts to make sure that in contracts, illustrators get a guarantee that their names will be on the front covers of the books they illustrate. My guideline has been any book that has at least one illustration per chapter. In the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign, we're not asking for a lot - not even total equality with the writer in front-cover billing - just that there BE a billing. If the publisher wants to put the illustrator's name in smaller font, that's okay, as long as it's visible on the front cover.
We need your help in this because illustrators are afraid; we worry that if we make too much of a fuss, we'll be branded as 'trouble' and the publishers will commission from work from illustrators who don't stand up for themselves. I'm only able to argue the case because I have such solid support from my own agent Jodie Hodges, publishers, series co-author Philip Reeve, and his agent Philippa Milnes-Smith.
Publishers may offer to pay illustrators an extra fee, so they don't have to put their names on the front covers, but this isn't good enough. Why are publishers ashamed to admit their books are illustrated? Illustration is a key selling point, and not showing the book is illustrated inside is missing a key marketing angle. Pretending that the writer did the pictures (in the name of single-name branding) is false advertising. Illustrators work freelance just like writers - we don't get salaries or benefits - and illustrators need to build careers based on our names.
When publishers say there's no room on the cover for the illustrator's name, this is rubbish. Foreign editions often rejig the cover so this isn't a problem, such as my Dutch publisher, who have completely taken the #PicturesMeanBusiness campaign on board:
Without a front-cover credit, illustrators are always going to be left out. We need you to urge publishers to be leaders in doing the right thing, not the last publishers to follow, kicking and screaming. Illustrators are watching how publishers respond, and the publishers who continue to put up the most resistance may find they have trouble commissioning work from the best illustrators. We need you as agents to keep an eye on publisher practice, too.
If your illustrator is working with a celebrity writer, don't let the publisher tell you that it's common practice for all celebs to have single billing. This certainly is not the case with picture books, as seen by examples here. (All these covers credit their illustrators.) Celebs are usually much more quick to recognise artistic skill than some publishers, I find, and are pleased (not ashamed) to be paired up with an artist working in a different field to their own.
If you can tweet your support with the #PicturesMeanBusiness hash tag, we can get a good idea of which agents are supportive and WILL stand up for their illustrators. Even if you don't tweet, we ask that you'll join us in making sure your clients don't get any nasty surprises when their book comes out, uncredited. We need you agents to lead the way, even for illustrators who don't have agents. We need to make the deliberate omission of illustrators something that everyone finds distasteful.
The great thing about this campaign is that, in public, almost everyone agrees with it and supports us fully. It's kind of a no-brainer. But we still need your brains and your clout. Recent sales of physical books show that people are very interested in how books look, their craftsmanship, their tactile qualities. Illustrated chapter books are filling a big niche in the children's book market, in that under-filled gap between picture books and text-only books; it's just the gap where we're losing kids who will turn into readers for life, and pictures really help keep those kids on board. Interest in illustrated books for adults and comics/graphic novels is on the rise. Britain isn't a major manufacturing nation anymore, but illustration is one thing we can be proud to say that we create and export, and we do it very well.
Jean and Brian, my wonderful neighbours, are having big clear outs this year. Having introduced them to the notion of 'vintage', they always let me know when they're getting rid of stuff and I am usually approached with
'Is this of any use to you? It's been in the shed/loft for years and it's got to go'.
One of the many things which 'had to go' - having been languishing in one of Brian's many sheds for decades, was this fabulous wall mount. 'You don't have to have it, if you don't like it'.
I may have squealed with delight when he handed me this. Joe is rather keen to have hanging baskets at the cottage and this is the most perfect hanger imaginable.
Brian's sheds throw up many interesting things, some of which I find intriguing, if baffling. This is a 'something or other' which he gave me to put on to eBay; however, I find I am curiously attached to it, having a weakness for old painted things. Even if I don't know what they're for. He did explain it to me, but it it went in one ear and out of the other. This is a keeper though, whatever it is.
'You're not putting that dirty old thing on my clean table cloth' Jean protested, when Brian brought this sweet little lamp inside 'in case you're interested'. 'It's just an old thing I've had for years' he said as he handed it to me, Jean grimacing slightly.
To her dismay, I cradled it lovingly in my hands, crooning with pleasure. It just needs a bit of a clean and a candle.
Less disreputable, old Kilner jars which belonged to Jean's mother. Which of course 'are of use'.
Sometimes I'm given things which flummox even me, and I give them a punt on eBay. After all, pieces of toast and the legendary 'old rope' have been sold there. Then I have a bit of creative fun with the descriptions.
'This quirky and kitsch little swan pretty much sums up a lot about the 1960s. It looks as if it was designed to hold one of those highly perfumed bath salt blocks that my mother was so fond of and used to be given at Christmas. If only she'd had one of these! Made in England and designed by Jean Sorell Ltd, it measures approximately 8 x 8cm.
The box states that it will float when not holding bath salts, but I cannot guarantee this.'
'Where to start with this one? Well, it is basically a nice hand blown glass swan, which is all fine and well. This one is a little unusual in that it is apparently a 'magic swan'. How so, you ask? Well, it comes with the original dyed papers which turn it various colours. Such fun!
The instructions read as follows - 'To colour, fill the body with water and insert dye paper for one minute. Place thumb over aperture and and turn swan over. By a series of small movements the air bubble will gradually leave the head. Turn the swan up again without allowing the air back into the head'
There is no mention, however, about what you do with the plastic rose. In a further gesture towards beauty, I imagine it is stuck elegantly in the hole at the back, once you've managed to fill the swan with coloured water (and not getting it everywhere in the process).
This is why we invented the internet. Having said all that, it is a very pretty piece, never used, 'hand made by craftsmen from the finest British glass' and in its original box with packing. What's not to like?
Oh yes, and it measures 13 x 13 cm.
However, if I can sell things such as this rather crazy old flocked lion, which found a loving home several months ago, then I remain hopeful.Beauty in everything. Even Jean is almost convinced.
I've been trying to make it a priority to maximize creative joy in my life, and actually, just to maximize FUN in any form. I learned this from a student at Hollins University when I taught there summer before last. You can either meet with a student to talk about her chapter-book-in-progress (fun in its own right) in your bare little office, OR over ice cream at the sweet place up the road, sitting outside on a bench under a tree on a perfect summer afternoon. Which should you pick?
My life strategy now is to pick the option that involves ice cream.
So when I received a grant to do research on the manuscripts of Eleanor Estes at the University of Connecticut (fun in its own right), I asked myself: how can I make this fun thing even more fun?
Answer: time the trip so that I could head down from Storrs to NYC afterward on the very weekend that a friend's play was being produced there. My friend Sandy Asher, whom I see every year at the children's literature festival sponsored by the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, had her one-act, one-actor play, Walking to America, selected for performance in this year's Solo Festival. Her goal was to sell out the theater so she could obtain a second night: she ended up with SIX. And I was there for one of them.
I took myself to the city from Hartford via Peter Pan bus. I stayed two nights with another writer friend, whom I first met at the poetry writing retreat I attended for many years, in her adorable, tiny book-and-teapot-filled apartment on York Avenue and 64th Street. We attended Sandy's fabulous play together, as well as wandering all around Central Park where I paid a visit to Hans Christian Andersen.
For extra fun, I reconnected with a former CU student whose brilliant creative writing thesis I advised over a decade ago; we spent hours at two different vegan cafes talking, talking, talking. I had lunch with my editor, Margaret Ferguson at FSG, and iced chocolate with my agent, Steve Fraser (meeting him under the clock at Grand Central Station, something I've always wanted to do). I spent one night with my dear grade-school friend Kim at her cozy home in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. And I took myself to the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland exhibit at the Morgan Library on Madison Avenue.
I even watched the lunar eclipse on an esplanade overlooking the East River. I really can't take credit for what the moon chooses to do, or not to do, but I watched it with eyes ready to feast on any fun that comes their way. Because fun plus fun equals more fun.
Things have been very exciting but very, very busy lately. As well finishing off my Sketching People book and setting up the exhibition in Doncaster, I have also just started my residency with Manchester University's Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives. My very first day was on October 1st.
I took the train to Manchester, armed with my new concertina book and my sketching kit. I had a long meeting with Professor Sue Heath to start off the day. She is Co-Director of the Morgan Centre and was the one who started it all off. We talked about all the different researchers I would be shadowing and the projects they were working on, as well as sorting out boring things like getting a security pass and a key to the office I can share.
Then we both went out and did some sketching together to get the ball rolling!
Though a big part of my remit is to draw the research, I am also there to record a 'year in the life' of the centre - everything about the professors, the students, the university campus and what they all get up to.
It was such a glorious day, Sue and I were able to sit very comfortably outside, so I could start my sketchbook with a drawing of the Arthur Lewis building where the Morgan Centre is based. Then, after a lovely 'welcome' lunch, Sue left me to it and I went back and sat on the grass to get a couple more sketches of students:
Pottering around, looking for things to record, I was struck by lots of huge leaves that littered the grass outside the entrance to the Arthur Lewis building. I asked people what the tree was and nobody knew, but other people had noticed how unusual they were as well.
I figured they were part of the life of the Morgan Centre too, and just had time to paint one before dashing for my train home:
The following day, I was based in Hebden Bridge instead of Manchester, working on the 'Living the Weather' project with Professor Jennifer Mason. She is interested in the myriad ways in which the weather impacts on our daily lives. I did loads of work, so I'll show you those sketches in a few days.
It was midnight and I had just slumped into bed, exhausted after one of my first days on-call as a new intern, and still adjusting to life in a new apartment. As my nagging reflections on the day were just beginning to subside, insistent knocking at my door jolted me back to alertness. Dragging myself out of bed to open the door, I was surprised to see a diminutive elderly lady who appeared quite perturbed.
Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems
Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrated by Marylin Hafner
Poetry Picture book
For ages 4 to 6
Little Brown, 2001, 978-0316362511
Families come in all shapes and sizes. They can be as small as “One and another,” and they can be big enough to include dear friends who are so close that they too are family. Humans are not the only ones who have families either. “A pair like a kanga and roo is a family,” as are “A calf and a cow that go moo.”
In this heartwarming picture poetry book Mary Ann Hoberman celebrates families, bringing readers a collection of poems that explore relationships and connections. She begins with a little boy who tells us about his baby brother. We can hear the love in this child’s voice as he tells us that his brother is “beautiful” and how “when he laughs, his dimple shows.” Another child tells us about the walks that he takes with his father. Often his father talks about “how it was when he was small” when he used to take walks with his dad, and how his dad took walks with his dad. Four generations of children in this family have gone down to the beach to watch the ships go by.
In another poem a little boy introduces us to all his grandparents. We hear how one grandma bakes him birthday cakes and “rubs my tummy when it aches.” His other grandma knits clothes for him, and when he got the chicken pox “She let me have her button box.” One of his grandfathers, the stout one, is teaching him how to yodel; and his tall and thin grandfather is good at basketball.
In a wonderful poem called Relatives we get to meet one little boy’s colorful family when they are all gathered together in his home. Each one has a comment to make about the boy, and they all talk “as if I couldn’t hear.” He hears about how he has got “Uncle Perry’s nose,” “He looks a tiny bit too thin,” and “has his mother’s knobbly knees.” By the end of the discussion the poor little boy wonders “who I really am.”
As the pages are turned we hear about special moments in children’s lives that are touched by the actions of their relatives. There is the little girl whose mother cares for her lovingly when the little girl is sick, and then there is the child whose father now lives in a different house and has “another family.” Every time the child and the father get together they have a visit full of happiness, but when the father drives away the child always feels the loss.
Throughout this book wonderful verse is paired with artwork to give us a taste of moments in children’s lives that are sometimes sweet and sometimes funny.
Hamelin è presente alla ricchissima decima edizione del festival Tuttestorie. Venerdì 9 ottobre e sabato 10 ottobre 2015 presso la tenda Bubù Hamelin accompagna i bambini ad incontrare Chris Riddell, acclamato illustratore inglese, alla scoperta del suo ultimo romanzo Agata Dei Gotici e il topo fantasma. Agli adulti invece è diretto l'appuntamento di domenica 11 ottobre alle 18.30 Cara Mara, caro Andrea. Dialogo fra uno scrittore e un'illustratrice, che vede Mara Cerri e Andrea Bajani raccontare l'esperienza della creazione a quattro mani del progetto La pantera sotto il letto.
In occasione della seconda edizione di Libriamoci: giornate di lettura nelle scuole (26/31 ottobre 2015), il Centro per il Libro e la Lettura offre alle scuole la possibilità di ospitare gratuitamente dei lettori d'eccezione per gli incontri con le classi. Tra i lettori d'eccezione, famosi scrittori, musicisti e giornalisti (come Alessandro D'Avenia, Licia Troisi, Mauro Corona e Giulio Giorello). Per tutte le informazioni sulle modalità di partecipazione, visitate la sezione dedicata sul sito di Libriamoci a scuola.
Quest'anno il Centro per il Libro e la Lettura promuove 20 corsi di formazione gratuiti per insegnanti ed educatori in 17 regioni. Tutti i corsi sono a cura del Coordinamento associazioni per la promozione ed educazione alla lettura, di cui anche Hamelin fa parte.
Inizieremo i nostri venerdì 9 ottobre presso la Biblioteca Autentica di San Valentino in Abruzzo Citeriore (PE), per poi proseguire il 26 ottobre a Roma e il 30 a Palermo. Poi sarà la volta di Catania e Vibo Valentia.
È cominciata come un modo per sottolineare, ancora una volta, che le storie (soprattutto quelle lette in adolescenza) possono cambiare la vita, e per chiedervi di aiutarci ad arrivare alla fase finale del bando CheFare.
Ora Bookface è diventato un gioco che si allarga sempre più, e anche scrittori, illustratori, fumettisti si stanno fotografando con il libro della loro adolescenza. Partecipa anche tu!
HAMELIN FA PARTE DI IBBY ITALIA
International Board on Books for Young People è una rete internazionale di persone, che provengono da 77 paesi e promuove la cooperazione internazionale attraverso i libri per bambini, creando ovunque per l'infanzia l'opportunità di avere accesso a libri di alto livello letterario e artistico e incoraggiando la pubblicazione e la distribuzione di libri di qualità per bambini specialmente nei Paesi in via di sviluppo. www.bibliotecasalaborsa.it/ragazzi/ibby/
When giving query advice, a lot of us take for granted that you’ll know what we mean when we tell you a query must have a short synopsis of your story. We also take for granted that you’ll figure out how to do this in 300 words or fewer. I’d like to talk a bit more about what goes into creating a good, cohesive summary that will entice an agent to read more in just a few paragraphs.
You’ve probably seen a lot of advice that tells you a good query is comprised of a hook followed by a summary of your story, ending with a bio and a few sentences on why you chose the agent you are querying. Structurally, this is sound. But when you have a sprawling epic with many perspectives, or even a quietly complex contemporary, it can be tough to know how best to distill your story into a summary that makes sense.
What I usually see in the slush is this: a summary that goes over many of the big points in the plot but rushes through due to lack of page space and direction. The agent reading might miss key plot points, or have no idea what that made-up word is. Maybe the summary began too deep into the story, and the agent is confused by the list of events. These questions are distracting for a query reader, and can bring them out of a query quick.
So how do you summarize your novel and do it well? We have a tendency to think we must somehow shove the entire plot into this tiny space. But that isn’t actually the case. The best summaries (even the sprawling, epic ones) contain these: your inciting incident, your main conflict, the plan, and the stakes.
Before we get into the summary, let’s talk about the hook. There are two reasons why your hook is so important. Number one: It’s the hook! Okay, that one is obvious. It’s designed to give agents a peak into your character that entices them into reading more. Number two: if done well, it should help you cut huge swaths of fluff from your summary.
A good hook tells us about the character and the conflict in one go. I’m taking this example of a hook from Erin Bowman’s post Querying: The Do’s and Don’ts (thanks, Erin!), to show you what I mean:
Gray Weathersby is counting down the days until his eighteenth birthday with dread, for in the primitive and isolated town of Claysoot, a boy’s eighteenth is marked not by celebration, but by his disappearance.
We know who the main character is, we know something personal about him when the book opens, and we know what his conflict is going to be. I’m intrigued to keep reading.
Next: What is an inciting incident? This is that moment when the status quo is no more, and the character is forced to take action. This is a step I often see skipped in queries, resulting in a strangely disjointed summary.
Figure out what the inciting moment is for your character, and tell us about it. For example, a precious jewel is stolen from a museum—this is the catalyst for the Private Eye to enter the picture and solve the mystery. Or, your protagonists loses her job and instead of applying elsewhere, chooses to fulfill a dream and travel the world. Tell me about the moment when everything your character thought she knew is turned on its head.
Now that your character has been called to action, tell us what needs to be accomplished. This is where you flesh out your conflict. We don’t need each and every detail; just enough to show us what the protagonist must overcome. The P.I. must now solve the mystery of the stolen diamond—but a nefarious gang will stop at nothing, including murder, to prevent it from happening. And, the more the P.I. digs, the more he unearths about a political conspiracy (give some detail on that conspiracy) attached to the diamond theft. The World Traveler has all of her money stolen in a foreign country. The hostel where she was staying burns down with all of her worldly possessions. Maybe she, too, stumbles into a political conflict she knows nothing about.
So what are your characters going to do about it? They have decisions to make. These decisions are informed by the stakes. For a lowly P.I., getting in the middle of a nefarious gang AND a political conspiracy might not be worth it. So tell me why he gets involved anyway. Is he blackmailed? Does he have a personal tie to a person or plan within the gang or the conspiracy? Tell us why he MUST solve the murder, and what is at stake for him if he doesn’t. For the World Traveler who has lost everything, tell us how she plans to get home, what she must sacrifice to do it, and what happens if she fails. Is her father dying back home? Is her sister getting married? Is her house set for demolition? Why is it important for her to overcome this conflict?
A note on fantasy: it’s very tempting to try and give all the backstory about the world, its magical systems, its government, or its religion. These are things you’ve worked hard on – your story is not the same without these elements. But if character IS story (and it is), then the most important thing is to make us understand your character’s struggle at the most basic level. Leave the made-up words and the complicated hierarchies out of the query.
When you look at the summary in this way, you can see that even sprawling epics can be broken down into short summaries. These components make up the heart of the story, and that’s what an agent wants to see in a query.
I hope this has been useful! If anyone is interested in a Part Three, let me know below!
Every so often, we catch up with someone in our offices to learn more about life in publishing, from how editors cultivate a list to how each office's coffee brews compare. This week, we're concerned with matters of the mind and a member of our editorial team. Courtney McCarroll is an Assistant Editor in Psychology, and recently celebrated her one-year anniversary of working at Oxford University Press.
Enter for your chance to win Thunder on the Plains by Rosanne Bittner!
Thunder on the Plains Excerpt
Sunny held her chin higher and faced him. “I’ll race you,” she told him.
She gave him a daring look, a new boldness in her eyes. “I said I’ll race you. If you catch me and manage to pull me off my horse, you’ve won!” She charged away, and Colt sat there a minute, wondering what she was up to. What was this sudden change in conversation? She was like a crazy woman today, and she had turned his feelings a thousand different ways.
Colt watched her, the way her bottom fit her saddle, the way her hair blew in the wind. Her daring look stirred his pride, and the race was on. He kicked Dancer into a hard run, manly desires stirring in him at the challenge of catching her. He held the reins with one hand and smashed out his cigarette against his saddle horn with the other, tossing the stub aside and leaning into the ride. “Get up there, Dancer,” he shouted to the horse.
Dancer’s mane flew up into Colt’s face as he galloped up and down more sandhills. He noticed Sunny veer to the west rather than north, and he turned Dancer, taking a cut between two more sandhills and emerging near Sunny as she came around the end of one hill. She screamed and laughed when she saw him, and now he knew he could catch her.
He came closer, the determination to reach her now a burning need. It went against all reason, was totally foreign to all sense of maturity. They were like children for the moment, and yet not children at all. The emotions it stirred in him to think of catching her were dangerous, yet he could not stop himself. He came ever closer, and now he was on her!
Sunny screamed when she felt his strong arm come around her. Suddenly, she was free of her horse and sitting sideways on Dancer, a powerful arm holding her. She covered her face and laughed as Colt slowed his horse. “Now you are my captive,” he teased.
She threw her head back and faced him, and both of them sobered. For a moment they sat there breathing heavily from the ride, watching each other.
“We had better go catch your horse,” he finally told her.
“We’ll find it later,” she answered. She moved her hands to touch his powerful arms, ran her fingers over his bare shoulders. “Tell me, Colt. What does an Indian do with his captive?”
For a moment everything went silent for him. Nothing existed but the utterly beautiful woman in his arms, her tempting mouth, her open blouse, her blue eyes, her golden hair. He moved a hand to rest against the flat of her belly. “He takes her to his tipi and makes her his slave,” he answered, his voice gruff with passion.
She touched his face. “That’s what I want you to do with me, Colt. Make me your slave—today, tonight, tomorrow.”
He shook his head. “Sunny—”
She touched his lips. “Don’t say it, Colt.” Her eyes glistened with tears. “I don’t know what’s right and wrong anymore, and today I don’t care. I just want you. I’ve always wanted you.” A tear slipped down her cheek. “It can’t be anybody else, Colt, not the first time. I—”
His kiss cut off her words, a deep, hot kiss that removed any remaining inhibitions. She could barely get her breath for the thrill of it, the ecstasy of his hand moving to her breast, the ache of womanly desires that surged in her when his tongue moved between her lips. Dancer moved slightly, and she clung to Colt. He left her lips for a moment, keeping one arm around her as he slid off the horse and pulled her after him.
Title: Thunder on the Plains
Author: Rosanne Bittner
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Imprint: Sourcebooks Casablanca
With more than 7 million books in print, RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award–winning and USA Today Bestselling author Rosanne Bittner pens a historical Western romance filled with dangerous cowboys, capable heroines, and an epic love story that sweeps across the Old West.
IN A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY
Sunny Landers wants a big life—as big and free as the untamed land that stretches before her. Land she will help her father conquer to achieve his dream of a transcontinental railroad. She won’t let a cold, creaky wagon, murderous bandits or stampeding buffalo stand in her way. She wants it all—including Colt Travis.
ALL THE ODDS WERE AGAINST THEM
Like the land of his birth, half–Cherokee Colt Travis is wild, hard, and dangerous. He is a drifter, a wilderness scout with no land and no prospects hired by the Landers family to guide their wagon train. He knows Sunny is out of his league and her father would never approve, but beneath the endless starlit sky, anything seems possible…
USA Today bestseller and award-winning novelist Rosanne Bittner is known as the “Queen of Western Historical Romance” for her thrilling love stories and historical authenticity. Her epic romances span the West—and are often based on Rosanne’s personal visits to each setting. She lives in Coloma, Michigan, with her husband and two sons.
I'm so glad you come in here tonight. I'm so it chin' to Dance I can't stand it and I was countin' on dancin' with you.
It's a saturday night and I feel all right So come on let's dance - look at me AII I wanna do is to bump with you So come on let's dance - look at me tonight. When we hear the music play you might Learn from me in every way.
They call me lady bump lady bump it's no lie - ah Lady bump lady bump - just the music takes me hiiiiiiiiiigh.
I can still hit those high notes -even if it is only in my head and the image of me in a red afrom wig, green boob tube and tight gold hot pants is...is probably a bit too much information.
Any old how I've been perusing the internet looking for any interesting comics news. Nothing.
I learn that Ant-Man and The Wasp will be a movie in 2017 but as I've not seen Avengers 2: Age of Ultron yet, let aloneAnt-Man all I can say is: "Really?"
Between reading lots of phenomena books recently I have been getting physically exhausted from watching the Rugby World Cup 2015 on TV. Georgia did an incredible job and were one of the shing rays of hope -and the lastextended game against Namibia was so tense I even sat on the edge of the seat -several times. Namibia FINALLY scoring and proving they can play rugby.
Anyway, talking yesterday about retiring from comics in 2016, I saw this pop up on my screen:
Awwwww. Shit. I just checked my portfolio and I can retire if I get the other £249.50. Kids -NEVER say "I am going to make drawing comics my career" because there are, seriously, thousands out there who said the same thing. Cut out the hunger, poverty and anti-social hours and go for a job shelf-stacking. It pays more.
I have also been noting long time comic fans -people who started collecting in the 1960s- are stating "No more! One more reboot of this title or the entire line and that's it!" In fact, many have just stopped buying new Marvel and DC titles.
And as the weeks pass fewer and fewer comic geek chicsters are blogging or making comic book videos as they move on to the latest trend.
Add to this a lot of long time comic creators in the UK finally calling it quites. "Dan" told me: "I've had two paying jobs in a year and the company was not paying much. I queried this amount cus they are a long established comic company but was told its market forces they control the work and if artists want to work they take the money" he was also told a couple of artists allowed their work to be used for free (WTF??!!) Those back-stabbing, brown-nosers (they know who they are) must be really proud of how they've helped UK comics decline.
That first stanza...so true, right? But the best part of writing is working through the "Why bother?", keeping my eyes open and my pencil ready, and receiving amazing gifts from the universe and my imagination. Ah, writing!
Laura has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Writing the World for Kids, and -- make a note of this -- on October 30, the roundup will be at Jone's place, Check It Out, instead of here at A Year of Reading.