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1. Five Questions — WEEK 1

KidsComicQuestions TourBanner

Whadda week! Rafael and I got to ask a lot of great, talented people 5 Questions!  Check out the interviews…

 5 Questions with Cece Bell at Sturdy for Common Things

 

 

 

 

 

5 Questions with Kazu Kibuishi @ Geek Dad

5 Questions with Joey Weiser @ The Brain Lair

 

 

 

 


5 Questions with James Kochalka @ Bumbles and Fairy-Tales

 

 

 

 

5 Questions with Mariko Tamaki @ A Book and a Latte

 

 

 

 

 

And Rafael interviewed this guy I know….

5 Questions with Jorge Aguirre at the Windy Pages

 

 

 

 

5 Questions with Luke Pearson at Mr. Schu Reads

 

 

 

 

 

Coming up this week: Jeffrey Brown, Cecil Castellucci, Frank Cammuso, Hope Larson, Eric Orchard, Kean Soo, and Dave Roman!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KidsComicSponsored BlogTourBanner


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2. One Last Post And I'm Gone!

Ahhh. I do wish people would read posts before having as arse burger.

I did not ever -ever- state or hint that women should not be reading comics.  I encouraged my young niece to read comics when she was a tot so get it straight.  Read what is written.

If -if- any of the women currently jump onto the comic scene become real comickers then great.  The more the merrier and the same applies to all those men who are in the same category.

Mass buying huge stacks of comics then saying "I have no idea what this is -is it any good -leave a comment!" shows what you are.

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3. Spring is here!

It's springtime! In Mississippi, at least, it's been spring for quite some time and actually hit 80 degrees last week. In celebration, let's highlight some springtime tales for your displays! These books either have or are coming out this spring!

It's the latest Penderwicks book! These are so lovely and the latest one is no exception. Available now, the fourth book in the Penderwicks series has a lot of heart and surprises for each family member. Your kids that have loved the last three books won't be disappointed by this one.

Listen, Slowly is a gorgeous tale of a California girl who spends her summer with her grandmother in Vietnam. She must learn to find the balance between her two worlds. An excellent follow-up to Lai's National Book Award Winning Inside Out and Back Again, this one is gorgeous and evocative. Your students that love to read about other places will devour this one.

Astrid and her best friend Nicole have always done everything together...until Astrid discovers roller derby. Derby is amazing and Astrid is learning so much...but what does this mean for her relationship with Nicole? An excellent addition to the growing canon of upper middle grade graphic novels that is so wonderful.

The first book in an exciting new series! Horace is absentmindedly looking out the window of the bus...when he sees a sign with his name on it.  What he finds under the sign will change his life forever. Gifts! Magic! New friends! Perfect for the fantasy lovers in your library.

Out next month, Murder is Bad Manners is a charming tale of murder and Mayhem at an English boarding school in the 1930s. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have formed their own secret detective agency...but they never thought they'd have a real murder to investigate! This one hits all the high points: historical fiction, mystery, and friendship.

*

Our guest blogger from ALSC today is Ally Watkins (@aswatki1). Ally is a Library Consultant at the Mississippi Library Commission.

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4. The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves–May 3th Edition

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.

Ugh! Yesterday I woke up with a killer throat ache, and I feel like I’m coming down with a cold. Or my allergies are going berserk.  Either way, I spent most of the day in napping and reading. I have one of my favorite comfort foods, chicken in a spicy verde sauce, simmering the crockpot today.   I feel a little better, but I’ll this short and sweet. 

Had a good remainder of the horse show last weekend.  Elle won her championship class, but pilot error cost Pixie a chance to win one too.  I’m a little angry at myself for picking up the wrong canter lead right in front of the judge, so that’s something we will be working on for the run up to the next show later this month.

The weather here is finally feeling spring-like, with 70s all weekend long!  How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Check out my current contests!  See the Contest Widget on the Sidebar to enter!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library.  Click here to learn more about it.

New Arrivals at the Café:

An Ember in Ashes (2.99 preorder for Kindle)

Double Feature

Mirrored

Blood Passage

Silver in the Blood

Legacy of Kings

Flight from Death

Sliver of Stardust

A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!

What did you get? Please leave links and share!

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5. April Mosaic -- Two by Two

Two colors of hyacinth (and fun with a lens).

Cars so small that two can fit in one parking space.

Two yellow blooms in a sea of green.

Two daffodils after a rain shower.

 New leaves and new blooms--two unfurling on the redbud.



April this year was a month for writing poetry, not for taking pictures. Hopefully, May will be a month for both!

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6. Spot the Duck, a rhyming children's picture book, read out loud

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7. Sidewalk Flowers

A most gorgeous, wordless picture book about living in the present, 'Sidewalk Flowers', conceived by Jon Arno Lawson,  illustrated by Sidney Smith and published by House of Anansi/ Groundwoood Press, who describe the book as "an ode to the importance of small things, small people and small gestures"






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8. Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

  Twig is an only child as far as the townspeople know.  They don't realize that her older brother James lives in the attic, out at Fowler Farm.  Twig's mother returned to the family farm late at night when Twig was small.  The rules were set right then and there.  The Fowlers kept to themselves; made no friends; excepted no visitors.  200 years before, Agnes Early, who lived in abandoned Mourning Dove Cottage, put a curse on all the men in the Fowler family.

The town of Sidwell accepts their own, no matter how strange they behave.  Besides, with a series of small thefts, reports of strange things flying at night and weird graffiti, the townsfolk can't worry about the Fowler women.

Then, one day, Mourning Dove Cottage is no longer abandoned.  Twig finds a friend.  James finds a reason to come out of hiding.  And the Fowler family finds themselves in the spotlight.

The story is compelling.  The characters well-drawn and sympathetic.  The dilemma faced by all the young people in this book is troublesome.  How do they protect James from people who might misunderstand his differences?  How can they break the curse?

I never felt that the book was written for young people.  There was a measured pace - not that things didn't happen quickly enough.  They did.  But the pace seemed better suited to more seasoned readers.  As things became complicated, though, I felt the author explained feelings too much.  I wasn't sure she trusted her audience.  These two things made a stellar book a little less starry.

The story is the kind we fall asleep dreaming of - possibilities, hopes and moonlight.  Enjoy.

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9. Article- Headache/ media

cartoon news- monica

सिर दर्दी बनाम  चैंनल

24 -24 घंटे के लगातार बिना रुके चलने वाले चैनल,  जब बहस के मुद्दे पर आते हैं तो पहली बात तो प्रतिभागी को अपनी बात रखने नही देते और फिर बार बार  यही बात दोहराते हैं… क्षमा कीजिए.. मेरे पास समय नही है… मेरे पास समय बहुत कम है… मेरे पास बस दो सैंकिंड हैं आप जल्दी से अपनी बात कह डालिए और फिर एक घंटे की डिबेट बिना निष्कर्ष के खत्म हो जाती है .. पर … पर … पर …  बेसिर पैर की खबरे दिखाने के लिए समय ही समय है… उदाहरण के तौर पर हाल ही मैं एक खबर आई कि सलमान खान ने नेपाल भूकम्प  पीडितों को अपना प्राईवेट जहाज और करोडो रुपए दिए . जबकि अभी टवीटर पर पढा कि

Superstar Salman Khan, also known for helping the underprivileged, says his Being Human foundation is not donating money to the victims of the Nepal earthquake.
“There are rumours about Being Human donating money for the Nepal earthquake. This is NOT TRUE as Being Human Foundation currently operates only in India,” Salman posted on his official page on Facebook on Saturday.

और एक अन्य खबर में वही जिस तरह से हमारा मीडिया नेपाल मे जुटा पडा था अब वहां से भी भूकंप से जुड़ी ख़बरों के भारतीय टेलीविज़न चैनलों के प्रस्तुतीकरण को लेकर सोशल मीडिया में तीखी प्रतिक्रियाएं देखी जा रही हैं.

“भारतीय मीडिया और उसके लोग ऐसे व्यवहार कर रहे हैं मानो वे कोई पारिवारिक धारावाहिक शूट करने आए हों.

“हिमाल साउथ एशियन के संपादक कनक मणि दीक्षित का कहना है कि नेपाल और नेपाल के लोग राहत और बचाव कार्यों में भारत की भूमिका के प्रति आभारी हैं, लेकिन हिंदी न्यूज़ चैनलों के प्रस्तुतिकरण का तरीका उन्हें पसंद नहीं आ रहा है.

उनका ये भी कहना है कि नेपाल में उग्र राष्ट्रवाद की भावना हमेशा से रही है जिसकी वजह से #GoHomeIndianMedia हैंडल ट्विटर पर काफ़ी देर तक ट्रेंड करता रहा. लेकिन नेपाल के अख़बारों में ऐसा कुछ नहीं छप रहा है.

कई लोगों ने भारतीय टेलीविज़न पत्रकारों पर संवेदनहीन होने का आरोप लगाया है और उन्हें सुझाव दिया है कि वे थोड़ा ऐहतियात बरतें.

एक यूज़र ज्ञान लोहनी ‏ने ट्वीट किया, “भारतीय मीडिया की अनैतिक, तथ्यहीन और बढ़ा-चढ़ाकर दिखाई जा रही ख़बरें स्वीकार्य नहीं हैं.”

साजन राजभंडारी ने लिखा, “मुझे हैरानी है कि भारतीय अपने न्यूज़ चैनलों को रोज कैसे देखते हैं. मेरा सिर तो पाँच मिनट में ही चकरा गया.”

खबरों की तह तक जाकर अपनी बात रखनी चाहिए ना कि बस एक ही पक्ष दिखा कर किसी पर आरोप लगाकर अगली खबर पर बढ जाना चाहिए

नमक मिर्च लगाना ही नही चाहिए निष्पक्ष खबरों का वाचन करना चाहिए और जो चैनल वाले किसी पार्टी से सम्बधित है उनका लाईसैंस रद्द कर देना चाहिए( हालाकि मुश्किल जरुर है  पर नामुमकिन नही) और खबरों को फोलो भी करना चाहिए ना कि आगे दौड पीछे छोड वाला  रवैया रखना चाहिए …

ज्यादा दिक्कत है तो समय कम कर देना चाहिए दस धंटे या बारह धंटे ही सही पर सही खबरे ही हों… ( यकीनन अब आप को दूरदर्शन याद आ गया होगा)यकीन मानिए  कम से कम सिर दर्द से तो बचेंगें

पर वही खबरे बार बार खबरे … अब आप ही बताईए कि ऐसे मीडिया को क्या कहना चाहिए …

The post Article- Headache/ media appeared first on Monica Gupta.

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10. Does Forgiveness Cleanse Our Soul?

Recently, a friend of mine asked me to write a blog on forgiveness.  At first, I thought how am I going to accomplish this when I could not really think of what to write exactly based on this topic.  I thought about this topic for a few days until I finally understood what the idea of "forgiveness" meant.

 If you were to look up in a dictionary the word forgive you would see,

"stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake."  It is an easy word to define.  However, is it an easy task to do?  A child as young as three years old may say, "I'm sorry."  A parent or a friend may say, "I forgive you."  However some crimes may be unforgivable.  Should a murderer be forgiven?  If someone took advantage of you and stole your money, should they be forgiven?  How much  do we allow ourselves to accept forgiveness?  "I forgive you," are three words that are not always so easy to say.  Sometimes, a friend might do something offensive to you, but time heals all wounds.  If you choose to live in a world of hatred and contempt, are you living the jovial life that you deserve?  If we don't forgive our friends, we may not have anyone to turn to and might live our life isolated from the outside world.  When you forgive someone, does it help you to relieve some tension and feel blithely again.  As a dear man once said,"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
If you decide to hold a grudge for the rest of your life will you truly feel at peace and be happy with your decision to hold on to your hate?   Mahatma Gandhi once said," The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
Personally, I believe forgiveness is a difficult task to accomplish.  It all depends on the person's misdemeanor.  If a person did something that is horrific and indefensible, then forgiveness may be unfeasible.  If you choose to, you can try to rise above it and attempt to forgive.  However, never forget what was done so that you can never feel staggered by that person's actions again.  A wise man once said, "Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  John F. Kennedy
 

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11. Creative Tribe

I've had two huge "I heart DePauw" moments this week. Both of them involved events at which a creative tribe gathered to celebrate an achievement of one of their own - well, three, if you count my own launch party for Izzy Barr, Running Star, which I should.

On Wednesday night I attended a reading by writer Rick Bass, who is spending the semester at DePauw as their Mary Rogers Field Distinguished University Professor of Creative Writing. Lovely Peeler Auditorium was standing room only, or rather, sitting-on-the-floor room only, with students perched everywhere to hear him read two pieces: a personal essay connected with his environmental activism work, which was both a moving and funny account of his getting arrested during White House protests against the building of the Keystone XL pipeline, and a mesmerizing literary short story about, yes, about a fish. In his comments before and after the reading, he showed such appreciation for DePauw's committed faculty and engaged students, and such love of his craft. When asked by one colleague during the Q & A, "Man, how do you DO that?" he said, "Just be specific. That's all I can say. Be specific, and the reader will follow you anywhere."

Yesterday afternoon I went to a screening of the indie film Reparation, a psychological thriller just released this year and produced with heavy DePauw/Greencastle involvement. I recognized colleagues in the cast, including a colleague's young daughter in a wonderful supporting actress role. Filming was done in Putnam County, including shots of my beloved Dairy Castle, and the downtown courthouse square and farmers' market. On the soundtrack for the film I could hear music written and performed by Gus Moon - who played for my Izzy Barr launch party! I thought the film was terrific - intense, absorbing, beautifully acted and filmed from start to finish. The small theater - our only movie theater in town - was packed.

Afterward the audience drifted across the street to the Fluttering Duck and sat outside on the patio listening to music by Gus Moon, Ron Dye (father of the young actress), and others, on a perfect May evening. There we were: writers, musicians, actors, and plenty of people who wouldn't describe themselves as any of those things, but who had helped in various ways in the making of the film, from appearing as extras to driving cast and crew to filming locations, or (as in my case) who had just come to cheer on the rest.

What is better than when your creative tribe comes together  to celebrate the making of something beautiful (and extra points if it happens in a small rural county in western Indiana)? And I know the answer to that: nothing.


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12. Wiggle


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13. Illustration Friday : Wiggle


For this week's Illustration Friday prompt I decided to use one of my collages. I'm not sure the younger generation will get this 50's humor! Poor Nan.

 

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14. Added to the List: The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon

Yesterday I got this book in the mail.  I had read the synopsis of this on Edelweiss and put it on my fall order for my library, but didn't add it to my TBR list because it just didn't seem to click for me.

There is just something that changes when you have the physical book in your hands.

First of all, it is a really amazing cover...illustrated by Marla Frazee, one of my favorite illustrators.  I love the colors and the font.  The cover reminds me a bit of Love Ruby Lavender, one of my favorite middle grade reads.  That script font is used throughout the book and I just love how it looks!
Re-reading the synopsis made me tear up a little bit so this book got added to my TBR and moved way up to the top!

Here's the synopsis from GoodReads:

Ivy and Paul hatch a secret plan to find Ivy’s missing mom and say good-bye to the space shuttle in this evocative, heartfelt novel reminiscent of Each Little Bird that Sings and Because of Winn-Dixie. Ivy Green’s mama has gone off with a charismatic preacher called Hallelujah Dave to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida. At least that’s where Ivy and her dad think Mama is. But since the church has no website or phone number and Mama left no forwarding address, Ivy’s not entirely sure. She does know she’s missing Mama. And she’s starting to get just a little worried about her, too. Paul Dobbs, one of Ivy’s schoolmates, is also having a crummy summer. Paul has always wanted to be an astronaut, and now that NASA’s space shuttle program has been scrapped, it looks like his dream will never get off the ground. Although Ivy and Paul are an unlikely pair, it turns out they are the perfect allies for a runaway road trip to Florida—to look for Mama, to kiss the Space Shuttle good-bye, and maybe, just maybe, regain their faith in the things in life that are most important.

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15. The Meissonier / Mackay Affair

A scandal about a displeased portrait client damaged the career of the most famous painter of his day, Ernest Meissonier (French 1815-1891), and ended with the portrait thrown onto a fire.

Ernest Meissonier, Self Portrait
Despite his celebrity and the vast sums paid for his work, Meissonier had painted few images of women, and few portrait likenesses. This commission came in the last decade of his life and at the pinnacle of his international success.

The sitter was Mrs. J. W. Mackay, of California. After seeing the portrait nearly finished, she rejected it, and at first her husband refused to pay for it. The price was vast for 1884, estimated between ten and twenty-five thousand dollars. Meissonier responded by vowing to keep the painting and he put it on exhibition, where the public would be the judge. 

In his view he had simply painted a picture that was too accurate. In her view he had made her look coarse, and made up like a painted doll.


"It seems that after Meissonier had painted the portrait, Mrs. Mackay criticised it a little and wanted it just a little more finished. It was not finished then when she went into the country, and she wrote him she would come up anytime he wanted to finish it."

"He never said a word, but finished the hands from a model of a big, coarse woman with ugly hands, and made the cheeks and lips powdered and painted frightfully, and left the neck yellow, just because he was so angry that she should dare to criticise such a great master as himself."

"Now Mrs. Mackay thought, with good reason I think, that she ought to have been the model to her own portrait, and that she could ask at least for a faint resemblance, especially as she would have to pay $15,000 for the picture."

"Without informing Mrs. Mackay as to his intentions or asking her consent, he simply sent the picture to the exhibition, where her friends saw it and told her of it. She wrote and asked for the picture, and at the close of the exhibition it was sent to her, with a bill."

"Mr. Mackay was so provoked that he wanted to make a fuss about it, but his friends persuaded him to pay it and say nothing more about it. This he did, and threw the picture in the fire. But on the same day Mr. Mackay left for America the papers: came out with the story, abusing Mrs. Mackay, and the French artists are to meet and have an indignation meeting that a canvas immortalized by Meissonier should be burned by a vulgar American."

The debate about who was in the right was taken up in all the papers on both sides of the Atlantic. An early writer about the incident said that "Meissonier, by the haughtiness of his manner, his artistic independence, and, most of all, by his unpardonable success, had been sowing dragons teeth for half a century. And now armed enemies sprang up, and sided with the woman from California. They made it an international episode: less excuses have involved nations in war in days agone....The tide of Meissonier's prosperity began to ebb: prospective buyers kept away; those who had given commissions canceled them."

Sources:

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16. Week in review 5/3/15

The week got off to a lovely start last Sunday. After four days of lolling around at the beach reading manuscripts we headed back to the city.  Y'all were busy reading the Week in Review.
One of the things I really love about the round up: your writing. All of you are writers of course, but sometimes there's a turn of phrase, or sentence (or like with Julie Weathers an entire post!) where I think "oh boy, there's talent!)

Here's one from Jennifer R. Donohue like that:
Does anybody else's dog like Spam? Elka went high obedience ballistic for it last night when it was cooking. Like "I am sitting. I would like that meat in my mouth. Oh, come on. I'll testify as hard as I can. spamspamspam"

LynnRodz asked:
I wonder if Barbara Poelle ever pops by here and sees all the praise you bestows upon her?
I think Barbara is too busy juggling auctions to do much blog reading. Either that or taste testing the new vodka crop.

Dena Pawling has a good idea:
I figured out that OP meant the person who had submitted the question, without really knowing what the acronym actually meant. It would take quite a bit more mental energy plus the search feature, to figure out the possible meanings of Carkoon and Buttonweezer. Therefore, not knowing what those two meant would possibly make more timid folks (1) feel like an outsider, (2) be embarrassed to ask, and (3) not feel comfortable posting their own comments. Therefore, because I've been on the excluded side of blogs and groups many times in the past [I vacillate between not wanting to join a group that would actually want me as a member, and not wanting to participate in a group that doesn't want me], and the knowledge that Ms. Reid loves her blog community and wants it all-inclusive even for the likes of me, I'll offer up my definitions. Maybe Colin, the compiler of the acronyms [Compiler Of Links creating Inclusion for Newbies], can provide that aforementioned list, complete with links if they can be found. Hopefully, having such a list would make new folks feel welcome [because they are], rather than even MORE hesitant to post a comment.

You'll notice there's now a link to terms used on the blog on the right hand side of the blog roll.  If any of you think others should be added let me know in the comments section here.



S.D. King's eagle eye caught something:
"learn the category (I have a middle grade novel on submission now.)"


Janet, You thought you could slip that in there and I wouldn't notice?

Now I really need to send my query to the shark to prepare it to send to the shark!

Here's the bad news: I don't take on middle grade. Yes, I have one on submission right now but it was written by a CLIENT that I signed for another project in a category I do take on. This was how Brooks Sherman ended up selling a picture book written by my client Sean Ferrell.  Now that Brooks is Bent, I can't force him to do my bidding.
But, to the point, middle grade queries are still going to get a redirection to a more suitable agent. (sorry!)

Lance's comment (As a serial, part-time lurker, I thank Dena for the glossary) reminded me that glossary was the word I was looking for to describe terms used on the blog. And it's such a lovely word! Glossary!

I thin Amy Schaefer summed up my intent on acronyms and now the glossary much better than I did (which is what happens when you have writers hanging about!)

I am glad to have support in my anti-acronym battle (notice how I didn't shorten that), and I think Janet's point about including one and all in our commenting nonsense here is critical. I've avoided many an internet community (and even a few real life ones) because the members seemed too clannish, too caught up in their inside jokes and common history to allow a newbie in. I'd hate for that to happen here.

Lurkers, you're just like those of us who can't keep out hands off the keyboard. Don't let our nonsense hold you back if and when you have something to say. And, if it suits you, come be nonsensical with us!


Lance also asked
 I don't understand the relationship of woodland creatures to The Shark unless it is a metaphor for how we writers yet to be published (WYTBP) exist separate from the publishing world. That is to say, we have to form pyramids of 'possums and heave our queries over the seawall into the lagoon wherein lies The Reef. Once agented, a writer is magically transformed into a creature of the reef, interacting more directly with The Shark.
Pharosian reminded us of where that term came from:
On several (okay, many) occasions, unpublished authors have posed questions to Janet that indicate a certain amount of over-thinking, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, timidity, uncertainty, and a general fear of Big Bad Agents. In her response to the questioner that day she said, "Writers are woodland creatures who worry about every single thing they can think of and when that isn't enough, they look for newly discovered things to worry about."
Julie suggested the titmouse as a typical example. I tend to think of wide-eyed, innocent Bambi types, or twitchy-nosed bunnies. Regardless, the term stuck. One thing this group has demonstrated an aptitude for par excellence is taking an idea and running with it!



and didn't this just make you want a dinner invitation to John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur's house?
My rule is, if I can smell you across the table, you're wearing too much. If I can smell you before you come in the door you're wearing WAY too much and need to be tranqued with a dart gun.




On Monday, the we talked about novels on submission that might be too similar to what an agent represents.

brianrschwarz got his wifi on Carkoon working long enough to say this:
To the topic at hand - I want to say it was either Tolkien or Lewis who were once quoted as saying "great writers don't rip one person off... they rip EVERYONE off"

Their point was just that you can't write in a vacuum. It's just not possible. So no matter what you do, you're borrowing from somewhere or someone or something. The line between taking a usual device, name, location or trope versus copying entire segments of a story or a blueprint of a character of course are different things.

Which is exactly what I meant, but better.

And I like what Shaun Hutchinson said too:
Coincidences happen. Even really weird ones. You think you've written a wholly unique book that no one could have possibly ever come up with, but you're probably wrong. What sets books apart is how you write them. Your ideas may not be unique, but your execution is. That's how you set yourself apart from similar plots.

bjmuntain made another good point with this:
It's so, so important to understand the difference between ideas and tropes. I don't think anyone here would have that problem, but a writing group I used to belong to fell apart because a beginning writer claimed her 'ideas' were being stolen, because another writer just happened to be using the same old fantasy tropes that Terry Brooks used long before then.

brianrschwarz asked:
Question for Janet - How do intellectual rights work in writing? What is being copyrighted? The main themes? Character names and generic profiles? Is the court the ultimate decider?

I mean, if fan-fic isn't considered a copyright infringement than I think the questioner is probably quite safe. But where is the line?

Copyright protects the work you create. Another person can not copy your book or portions of your book without your permission.

Titles do not have copyright protection.
Names do not have copyright protection.
Themes do no have copyright protection.
You don't need to worry about court here. You need to worry about the warranties clause of your publishing contract where you warrant that the work is your own and indemnify the publisher against claims that it isn't. 

Fan fic is very murky in terms of copyright, but the general idea is that if you're doing it for fun, and not trying to hoodwink anyone that you actually created Jack Reacher, it's all good.

What you can NOT do is lift parts of books wholesale, and pass them off as your own.



On Tuesday, the topic was BEA and why writers should NOT plan to attend.

AJ Blythe asked:
Just googled BEA to find out what it was. Interesting they have author signings when the conference is really aimed at industry professionals. Is there something for readers besides the signing? Or are readers happy to attend just for the signing?

Jenny C provided a great answer:
BEA is not the place to be as a writer unless your book is already published or going to be published and you are there to meet booksellers and librarians. I used to attend when I worked as a buyer for a bookstore and I have to say, I always had a fabulous time. I heard authors speak at breakfasts, met them, got signed ARC's and came home with lots of tote bags to share with the staff at the store. (Publishers give out tote bags and booksellers love to collect them.) I also went to fun parties and once in Miami I met Oprah! All the people who work the booths want to meet booksellers and its nice to feel appreciated! And the stacks of ARC! Absolutely the best part! Quite honestly, I never even knew agents attended. You would have to search hard to find one in the sea of booksellers, sales reps and marketing people.

And she added this:
I've been nostalgic this morning, thinking back over all the BEA's I attended. My favorite one was not the time I met Oprah, who ended up canceling her autobiography, but the time I heard a relatively unknown writer named Terri Macmillan speak about her forthcoming book WAITING TO EXHALE. She blew away a room fill of bookseller who just about trampled each other like teenagers at a rock concert to get to the signing line and get a copy. I read it on the plane on the way home, and I still have it. WAITING ended up being a major bestseller for a lot of reasons, but I like to think bookseller enthusiasm generated that day was one of them.

And JEN Garrett took my breath away with this one:

I recently heard advice from a former agent to go to BEA and "give chocolates" or "stuffed animals" to the publishers and agents there. The idea is to make a good impression. But I didn't like the advice at all. I didn't think publishers were there to be schmoozed by "UN" writers. I thought they were there to sell books.

Holy smokestacks that was bad advice. Maybe that explains the "former" part of agent.  At the risk of repeating myself endlessly: the ONLY thing that is going to make a good impression on me is your writing. You can be nicest person in this world or the next but if your writing isn't what I'm looking for, no amount of chocolate or stuff woodland creatures will change that.  Also, those kind of geegaws are expensive and you should save your money for a publicist for when you are published.



On Wednesday the talk turned to online crits.
I like this point, made by Susan Bonifant with a hat tip to DeadSpiderEye, a lot
Dead Spider Eye (shudder) made an EXCELLENT point:

"To generalize, the problem with on-line communities is ...communal behaviour. What that means is, your standing within the community is likely to prejudice how your work is considered."

Some sites are like polite neighborhoods - welcoming, and nice enough but not useful because the polite culture suppresses honest critique.

And some are Lord of the Flies.

I liked what kregger said here:
Writing is a craft and within any craft there are beginners, journeymen and masters. I was a beginner once, and I had no idea how ineffectual my writing skills were to readers until I joined a critique forum.
I think it is important for the discussion in this forum to differentiate between getting help at the skill of writing and help about a plotline or story arc.
I agree with the majority of the pro and con about critique forums as listed above and have probably participated unwittingly in the good, bad and ugly of the forums. It's part of the learning process.
The hard part for a writer is either knowing (or not) the amount of help they need.

And Megan V made a good case for online crits:
I'm a proponent of using random people from online forums as critics. My reasoning: In the music world, some people have perfect pitch and can't sing worth a damn. Likewise, in the writing world, some people can't write worth a damn, but when they read another writer's work, suddenly they are gifted surgeons who know when their incisions should be accompanied by anesthesia.

Of course, you find out rather quickly who has the pitch and the gifted hands and who is just cutting for the sake of drawing blood.

On Thursday we talked about whether a publisher can force a writer to change the ending of a book:

Lisa Bodenheim asked:
I suppose this is NOT something to put in a query letter because we don't tell the ending in the query letter. But it would be a good question to ask an agent when The Call is received, just to be sure an agent is fully enthusiastic about our book with the ending we've chosen.

You don't put that in a query letter for a different reason. A query is not the place to be listing what you will or will not accept from a publisher. That kind of list makes you seem hard to deal with and/or uninformed.  While I can and do sign authors who are uninformed about how publishing works I don't want to deal with people who are intractable. Publishing is a team sport and authors who don't understand that generally get picked last, if at all.

I think Matt Adams has a nice summation on this topic:
I think the questioner is about ten steps early to worry about this, but I'll relate my story. After a bunch of querying, my agent offered rep. One thing though, she asked, what would you think about changing the ending (she thought it would be better a bit more ambiguous than the happy one I'd written). I thought about, asked a few people who'd read.

Then i changed the ending. Either you trust the people you work with or you don't.

And I would guess the questioner would, too, if given the actual choice between publication and non-publication. I think an editor would tell s/he that before offering to buy the book, but if they didn't, you'd have to understand they are BUYING the book. Not agreeing to print your masterpiece, but buying the print versions of it. If the questioner is uncomfortable with that idea, s/he should self publish and save everyone involved a lot of hassle.

It's like Dave Berry said after he sold the rights to his life/books/columns to a TV show (It starred Harry Anderson, the guy from Night Court). He insisted he retain complete creative control over how he spent the money. I think that's the way to look at it.

Shaun Hutchinson added to that:

Matt, you make a good point. When we were shopping my first book, a publisher was interested but only if I was willing to rewrite the last third of my book. I was initially against the idea, but when no other publishers bit, I talked it over with the editor and submitted a revised outline. She bought the book, and I rewrote the last third. As I started doing the rewrites, I was still skeptical, but by the time I'd finished them, I realized that my editor had been correct all along, and that the rewrites improved the book significantly.

That said, I think if an editor didrequest a significant change to the ending, I'd do the rewrite beforesigning the contract to make sure both the editor and I were happy with the new changes before committing to them.

Bonnie Shaljean asked:
Assuming that an author adamantly does NOT want major surgery done on her book:

Can the creator of the work require that she be given final refusal on proposed major changes, and legally ensure that the publisher cannot force them on her, without her having to actually withdraw the book and face punitive financial consequences (never mind lost time)?

After all, the publishers do know what story they're getting before they sign on: they've read it. Whereas the writer can't foresee all the changes she might be told to make, so she can't always forearm the agent. Has she any power other than bailing out and going back to the trenches?

No.
Of course, in the real world, the editor and the agent are discussing the book, and the editor's ideas long before anything drastic like "your editorial suggestions are like capcha cupcake choices: one dimensional, tasteless and serve only to block me from expressing myself fully"
I do have a deal pending in which the editor has said there will be some substantial changes requested. The author and I agreed to the deal and signed the contract, but we're both waiting to see what the editor wants before  doing anything bold like cashing the check and announcing the deal.



and then there was just this glorious little nugget of great writing from REJourneys that made me life and reminded me how amazing y'all are:

Of course, the author should stay up with the trends of the market, but when you are being flung across the globe, signing children and kissing pictures, do they really have time for that? (The answer is you have to make time, but no one has made time yet. If they had, they'd have to invent a new number for how rich that person would be. Either that or they are keeping the knowledge of how to actually make time to themselves).

On Friday, I might have gone a bit ballistic on the topic of wasting an agent's time, but the overall blog post was about querying an unfinished novel when you have a backlist of published books.

bjmuntain summed up my point very nicely:
The reason an unpublished author needs to have a completed manuscript before pitching it is because they don't have a track record of finishing publication-ready manuscripts. But I've often heard this is different for previously published authors simply because they've proven they can finish a manuscript that's appropriate for publication.

It's like the tendering process for projects. If you've never managed a project, you're not going to win a tender no matter how much you undercut the opposition. However, if you have a good background in completing projects with very good quality results, you can probably bid higher and be more likely to get the contract than someone with a less stellar background.

Mary Feliz just cracked me up with this:
I'm so torn. While I aim to be bold, brave, and brilliant in my writing career, that woodland creature cake "hand" delivered by a shark on a broomstick seems really too tempting to pass up!

Christina Seine asked:
Also, another question for QOTKU: any other traveler tips for someone who's never been to NYC before?

1. Ride the Staten Island Ferry. It's free, and it's the best way to see New York's glorious skyline at night.
2. Don't be afraid to ride the subway. It's very safe, it's the cheapest way to get around town, and there are people who will help you if you get turned around. Just ask.
3. Don't go to any chain restaurants.
4. The most beautiful view of the Chrysler Building can be had walking north on Lexington Ave on the left side of the street between 5 and 6am starting at 21st Street.
5. The best view of the Empire State building is from Sixth Avenue and 29th Street.
6. The best time to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art is Saturday night after 6pm.
7. There is no good time to visit MoMA. It's too crowded for any kind of sane experience.
8. Bryant Park is a lovely reading spot (42nd Street at Sixth Avenue)
9. The best way to see all of what makes New York glorious is to start at Broadway and 72nd street and walk south on Broadway till you hit the Staten Island Ferry (see #1)
10. If you see a lithe blonde woman on rollerblades, zooming south on the Hudson bike path, barking "I don't get out of bed for less than fifty thousand!" that's Barbara Poelle and you should get OUT of her way with alacrity.

and just PS: Happy Birthday dear Gossamer!



On Saturday we talked about Chum Bucket and junior agents.

MB Owen asked a very good question:
I'm not sure how a person could: "make triple dog sure that she isn't heading for the exit anytime soon," unless maybe a little work history.

It's really hard to ascertain that, I agree. I think it's a question of listening closely to how a new agent talks about her job and her life. Someone who hates New York isn't a good candidate for lasting a long time here. Someone who really wants to be something else either (a writer, an actor, a lawyer.)
Mostly though I'd want to make sure that the junior agent is with an agency that's been around awhile and can step in if the junior agent gets recruited for the circus.

S.D.King mentioned my former companion in query shenanigans, the erstwhile Brooks Sherman:
I queried Brooks and heard nothing back. His website says if you don't hear, resubmit the query because they respond. I resubmitted and still crickets. I suppose I could re-resubmit but I don't think he's looking for a long-term non-relationship.

Last time I asked, Brooks had 700 unanswered queries. Behind? He was so behind I threatened to lock the liquor cabinet.  I think he probably still is, but I also think he does respond to everything…eventually.



This was an incredibly busy week here at the Reef. The Edgar festivities commenced on Monday, culminating in the Awards banquet on Wednesday night. It was great fun to see everyone  and catch up on projects, new ideas, great stories, and what everyone is excited about reading.

On Thursday, after thinking my traveling was done, and I was now chained to my desk, I decided to hit Malice Domestic instead. I got on the train at 7am on Friday morning and was in Bethesda by 11, ensconced in "my" spot in the bar. More on that on tomorrow's blog post.

Spring seems to be fully here, thank all deities foreign and domestic. It's not warm really but it's not raining and it's not freezing. I'll take it!





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17. Ebay Comic Traders -Time To Name and Shame The Bad Ones ...

....In My Case to Around 2-4000 readers a day!

I made some Ebay purchases from a dealer called  hp.*saucy and it was a nightmare any comic fan/collector will understand.

"I received Avengers 400 yesterday, bent double. Bagged but no backing board. The outer packaging (I should NOT call it "packaging") was one side a piece of breakfast cereal box card and the other a flimsy piece of light corrugated card -held together by brown tape. I thought a one off and today I get Young All Stars in the SAME 'packaging' -again bent and twisted.  This is NOT how you package comics -cheap but sturdy packaging is available. ."

The response to this?

"Sorry to hear that the packages sent to you were damaged in the post. I consider cardboard backing the best way to protect comics, but our opinions clearly differ. I apologise if the packaging was inadequate on these occasions. The damage you describe does sound as if excessive force had been applied.
Kind regards,
Nick."

So....now if I try to order something I get a message that I do not meet the sellers "criteria" for customers.  Ask why...nothing.

Seriously, you DO NOT take someone's money for a flimsy comic and send it with cereal box cardboard and then hissy fit because you get a complaint.

Destination Venus is another Ebay dealer I've bought from. Even a single comic gets a sturdy cardboard Comic Book Flash Mailer packaging.  THAT is how you send a comic -not in a brown A4 envelope, some birthday wrapping paper or worse.  I mean one of these:

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91DKw5AJ70L._SX450_.jpg

Silver Acre comics.  Well, I kept getting the same message that I never met their criteria. No email response so I asked Ebay what was going on?  They told me it was the trader's doing.  I contacted the trader -yeah.  They'd sell to me. Off Ebay.  And they did.  Now? Still getting the same messages and they do not reply.

This tells me that (1) they are making so much money that they can afford to say "f you!" to comic buyers. (2) they really do not give a crap about the comics or how you get them so long as they get the money.  (3)  Package/comics damaged?  Complain -you get banned.

I now see WHY old pro collectors video record packages they receive and package openings.  I'm doing the same from now on.  AND I am naming and shaming the bad boys from now on...and I will NOT buy from Newcadia comics in the US again, either.  I don't even want to go into that!

You show the customer -me- some respect and the customer will keep giving you business.  Bad traders need to be named and I've given them all a chance to sort things out or respond.  If you have a blog and you get the same crap -name and shame don't just sit there taking it. It is YOUR money.

Here is something I posted before (no responses to it on the page) but the poster nails it http://www.ebay.co.uk/gds/The-proper-way-to-ship-comic-books-my-suggestion-/10000000002065018/g.html:


The Challenge:

I am often disappointed when I win an auction for a near-mint comic, wait in anticipation and when the package arrives, I find the comic is damaged.  It is not that I was sent a poor quality book, but that the item was damaged during the shipping process.  The situation is even worse when purchasing a CGC graded item.  Recently, I purchased a CGC graded copy of Amazing Spiderman 129.  The item arrived packaged in a "bubble-pack envelope".  As soon as I saw the envelope I said to myself "I am exhausted with receiving expensive items so carelessly packaged". Of course the item was damaged, cracked in several places.  The common response to a damaged item claim from a seller is "good thing you got the insurance" or "I will send a refund after you return the item .. ps. I do not refund shipping charges".  Who needs the hassle? Who needs the time and money that is wasted chasing damaged item claims?

Listen, I know we all look for ways to cut cost but some corners should not be cut.  Here are some "common sense" rules that should always be followed when considering the shipping of a graded or ungraded item. 

1.  Shipping Cost is not overhead !  The buyer pays the shipping ! The cost of shipping (if you calculated correctly) does not come out of your pocket.

2. Your postal provider does not care about your package any more than you do.  A "FRAGILE" stamp on a flimsy package does not cause a carrier to handle your package with acutal care.  And what happens when your package is in the cargo hold of a plane with a ton of other packages on top of it? Where is the care in handling then?

3.  The Post Office gives away "FREE" boxes in an effort to expedite your shipping needs.  So the "I couldn't find a box" excuse no longer applies.

4.  The money spent in ensuring a safe delivery, pales in comparison to the money you lose when your customer returns a damaged item, along with NEGATIVE feedback. 

The Solution: 
As mentioned previously, the solution is an inexpensive product called "CARDBOARD".  It is simple and easy to use, plus you can get tons of it absolutely FREE !

Packaging an ungraded item enjoys the same procedure as packaging a graded (CGC/PGX) item.

1. Take a cardboard box (stiff, flat, thick) and cut two pieces to the exact dimensions of your "BAGGED AND BOARDED" comic book or GRADED ITEM.

2. Put the item(s) between two pieces of cardboard and tape securely into place. Use clear scotch-type tape, not DUCT tape as I recently encountered in a bubble packed item.  Items should not be allowed to slide around between cardboard pieces or damage could still occur to the corners of the item.

3. Place cardboard-secured item into the appropriate sized box with loosely balled-up newspaper as a buffer or insulation.  The item should "float" inside the box because of the newspaper you put into the bottom of the box and on every possible side of the item.

4.  Close the box and shake gently side to side, listening to hear if the item is sliding around inside box.  If it is, add more newspaper to the top or bottom, or side to side because movement equals damage.

5.  The newspaper is loosely balled-up because less paper is less weight. On average three comics, packed in a PRIORITY MAIL box, should weigh 1 lb. 11 oz. or less and one CGC item should weigh the same.  The Post Office generally charges 4-7 dollars for Priority delivery (less than 2 lbs.) within the continental United States.

REMEMBER:
To pre-cut several pieces of card-board and to have a few boxes and newspaper on hand. This will save you time in the packing process. 

NEVER use BUBBLE-PACK envelopes for shipping comics!  They only protect against scratches not against impact damage which is the leading cause of damage to shipped items. Plus you will save money by using cardboard because you will never have to purchase another bubble-pack envelope.  You will also, save even more money by recycling your newspaper instead of buying bubble-wrap.

This is a cost effective option to securely ship graded and ungraded comics and to ensure a safe, undamaged delivery to your customer.  You will have peace-of-mind when shipping delicate and expensive items and your customers will return enthusiastic POSITIVE feedback for the care you have added in packaging their items. 

Thank you for reviewing this guide.

__________________________________________________________________________

Now, the UK Post Office does not give away free boxes but the principles are the same. 

"Free postage" on an item is absolute bollox.  You are giving away a comic and making a loss?

No. Your price includes the postage.  Just check Ebay and you'll see it everywhere. 

Or you get an item at £1.00 which is 6 times cheaper than anywhere else -bargain! Uh, no. Check postage of £6.75 which, for some of the items involved I can tell you it will NOT cost to post (especially in a cheap jiffy bag) -you are paying the FULL PRICE for the item.

There are so many horror stories out there and 99% of the time the traders are rude, even try to blame YOU for THEIR bad packaging...in the hope you'll say "screw you!" and just give in.

DON'T. 

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18. Locate Keys ... but how?

Question: When my angels (3) are going to earth to protector it, they get attacked by demons. they are carrying a box, which contains God's tears (which

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19. Meet Phryne Fisher

Cocaine Blues. (Phryne Fisher #1) Kerry Greenwood. 1989/2007. Poisoned Pen Press. 175 pages. [Source: Library]

I wanted to like Cocaine Blues. I did. There were a few things about this mystery that I did enjoy. I enjoyed the setting. Australia in the 1920s. I enjoyed the fact that there were several story lines going on at once: how Phryne Fisher had several cases, or potential cases, that she was looking into. On the surface, at least, these are all unconnected interests. The first is perhaps the least entertaining, the "case" that brought her to Australia to begin with: a concerned father wanting to check up on his daughter. He thinks she's being poisoned. One story, as you might have guessed, is about cocaine. One of Phryne's new acquaintances is searching for 'the king' of cocaine. There's a third story as well, though I hesitate to tell you too much about ANY of the stories. The fact that there were multiple stories to follow or cases to solve helped the book a good deal. I also appreciated getting to know Phyrne's new maid. There were a few minor characters that I just liked almost from the start.

But what I didn't like is the amount of smut. Cocaine Blues is far from "clean" let's just say. There will be plenty of readers who will enjoy ALL the aspects of the mystery, but, I was not one of them.

Flying Too High. Kerry Greenwood. 1990/2006. Poisoned Pen Press. 156 pages. [Source: Library]

Did I enjoy Flying Too High? Yes and no. Once I started, I felt I had to finish it. For better or worse. I'm disappointed with some of the content. I expect certain types of romance novels to have smut, but, I don't like the blending of smut into mysteries. I enjoy mysteries very much, smut not so much. (Some readers probably enjoy both, so this series will probably have fans.)

What I liked most about Flying Too High were the multiple mysteries involved. I liked following all three stories. I liked Phryne best when she was actively working on a case, and keeping her mind focused on the case. Sometimes she got TOO distracted. I thought she acted a bit unprofessional at times too.

I will probably not continue on with the series.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. New Canvases at Oopsy Daisy

I have two new canvases at Oopsy Daisy -






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21. Urban Sketches

Sketches done in the streets, with people moving around, capturing the moment and atmosphere - that is basically the definition of an 'urban sketch'.
I like drawing in public. Especially when the weather is nice, it's a great excuse to look around you and to even stare at people and study them, listen in on conversations and enjoy the moment.




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22. New Adult Fiction Genre - Contemporary Romance - #WriteTip



There is a new genre emerging..."New Adult" fiction for older teens aka college-aged readers. You never stop growing up, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens between the ages of Nineteen to Twenty-six. Life changes drastically once high school is over, you have college, first jobs, first internships, first adult relationships…

Part of the appeal of NA is that the storylines are about characters who are taking on adult responsibilities for the first time without guidance from their parents. And the storylines generally have a heavy romance element. 

Keep this in mind as you revise your wonderful story, New Adult books are mostly about that specific time in every person's life—the time when the apron strings are cut from your parents, you no longer have a curfew, you're experiencing the world for the very first time, in most cases, with innocent eyes. New Adult is this section of your life where you discover who you want to be, what you want to be, and what type of person you will become. This time defines you. This is the time of firsts, the time where you can't blame your parents for your own bad choices. 


An NA character has to take responsibility for their own choices and live with the consequences. Most storylines are about twenty-something (18 to 26) characters living their own lives without any parents breathing down their necks, and learning to solve things on their own as they would in real life. New Adult fiction focuses on switching gears, from depending on our parents to becoming full-fledged, independent adults.

I am a firm believer that if you’re going to write a certain genre that you should read it, too. So I’m going to recommend that you start devouring NA novels to get a real sense and understanding of the genre before you write one.

Here are some great recommendations: https://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult-romance and http://www.goodreads.com/genres/new-adult and https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/new-adult-romance
 

Just as YA is fiction about teens discovering who they are as a person, New Adult (NA) is fiction about building your own life as an actual adult. As older teen readers discover the joy of the Young Adult genres, the New Adult—demand may increase. This, in turn, would give writers the chance to explore the freedom of a slightly older protagonist (over the age of 18 and out of high school, like the brilliant novel, "BEAUTIFUL DISASTER" by the amazing talents of author, Jamie McGuire) while addressing more adult issues that early 20-year-olds must face.

Older protagonists (basically, college students) are surprisingly rare; in a panel on YA literature at Harvard’s 2008 Vericon, City of Bones author talked about pitching her novel, then about twenty-somethings, as adult fiction. After several conversations, Clare realized she had to choose between adults and teens. She went with teens.

Quote from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press: We are actively looking for great, new, cutting edge fiction with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience. Since twenty-somethings are devouring YA, St. Martin’s Press is seeking fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an “older YA” or “new adult.” In this category, they are looking for spunky but not stupid, serious but not dull, cutting-edge, supernatural stories.

Quote from Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books: "New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.
Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to...."

There’s also a list on goodreads of New Adult book titles. These books focus on college age characters, late teens to early twenties, transitioning into the adult world.

Some popular authors of the NA category include:
  • Jamie McGuire
  • Jessica Park
  • Tammara Webber
  • Steph Campbell
  • Liz Reinhardt
  • Abbi Glines
  • Colleen Hoover 
  • Sherry Soule
http://www.wattpad.com/story/29486760-irresistible-mistake-new-adult-romantic-suspense


Would you buy New Adult books? 
Does the genre appeal to you? 

Does it sound better than YA (teen novels)? 
 
Or are you happy with YA as it stands?

Do you consider YA to include characters that are over the age of eighteen? 
 

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23. On writing characters with PTSD

Question: Okay, so my MC has PTSD after being nearly-killed and drowned and set on fire and other really not nice stuff, and so he obviously suffers mentally.

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24. Little Happy Lists, Redux

1. Piano recital: accomplished. And swimmingly, I might add. Particularly sweet this year because the music school divided the recital students into smaller groups (fewer classes lumped together into each recital), which meant our girls’ three classes were part of a five-class recital consisting mostly of good friends, families in our homeschooling circle. Best part: the way Huck (not yet a student) gasped in delighted recognition at the songs played by the beginner class (a level below Rilla’s group), because he recognized all the songs from last year when Rilla was learning them. Next year it will be his turn to begin! Hard to believe.

2. The drought, oh the drought, it has hit my garden hard. I’ve planted a lot of drought-tolerant natives over the years, so things are limping along, but still, it’s pretty grim out there. As it must be: flower-gardening will have to be one of the indulgences we let go in the new normal that is our hot-and-getting-hotter world. At least here in this dry-and-getting-drier state. Some of my work this year has involved a lot (a LOT) of research into California’s drying aquifers and the truly shocking lack of Sierra snowmelt and its impacts, and the sobering percentage of reduction of water deliveries to certain small towns from the State Water Project, and, well, you can’t face those facts and go on lavishing water on delphiniums. I’m becoming something of a vicarious gardener once again—the way I was in grad school when I confessed to the poet Robert Pinsky, whom I was tasked with picking up at the airport for a reading, that my habit while driving around town was to re-imagine the landscaping of all the yards I passed. Only now I’m mentally tearing up all the thirsty lawns around me in this desert. But I may have to find room for an annual trip to Portland in the spring, to soak myself for a few days in the glories of lush blossom and unfurling ferns. For now I must apply the tactic I used with much success back in those garden-deprived grad-school days: houseplants require very little water. Rilla and I went to work this week, taking cuttings and clippings to bring a bit of the bright outside indoors. And (influenced by Anne Shirley, of course) I’ve always kept windowsill geraniums with their cheery blooms perched on my kitchen sink—you can never go wrong with good old pelargonium. Thus this item belongs on a happy list even though its genesis is a bleak climate situation.

3. Kate Winslet does a smashing job with the voices in the Matilda audiobook. Rilla and I have one chapter left. We may not be able to wait for our Saturday-night ritual (audiobook + sketchbook time while the older girls watch S.H.I.E.L.D. with Scott) to finish. Which means I’d better come up with our next listen before Saturday…

4. Broadchurch Season 2. Wow.

5. Last night we watched a movie called Begin Again. Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, and yet I had somehow failed to hear about it until Scott queued it up. (He has unerring instincts for films that will delight me.) I loved it. A lovely, thoughtful piece by the writer/director of Once. I’ll watch it again.

What I’m reading this week

To the kids: House at Pooh Corner (still)

Myself: Connie Willis’s Blackout (Determined to finish this time! The other times I’ve begun and set it aside, it wasn’t because I wasn’t interested. Other things just kept crowding in. We’ll see if this time around is different.)

Photo of the week

San Diego children's authors

My friend Edith Hope Fine shared this photo, taken at last weekend’s Greater San Diego Reading Association awards breakfast, on Facebook, and our pal Salina Yoon dressed it up with everyone’s book covers. What a fantastic community of writers and illustrators we have here in San Diego! (Thanks, Edith, Salina, and—wait, who took the photo? I can’t remember!)

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25. Bruno Mars Uptown Funk Parody: Unread Book

Great song, great parody. Click the image to watch on Youtube (might want to make room to dance first):

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